A/N Okay guys, I'm going to make this quick because I'm out of town at the moment visiting family for the Thanksgiving holiday. But, as always, my trusty flash drive traveled with me, and I was able to borrow a computer long enough to do some quick editing and get this posted. I tried to get this finished before I left home, but real life has a way of being a total bitch sometimes. So if I've made any glaring errors in editing I apologize, but I rushed my proofreading a bit more than I normally do. I just wanted to get this up for all of you since you've been waiting forever for it. I won't be home with my own computer for a couple of more days, and I was afraid that posting would just get delayed again if I waited until then. So I'm grabbing the opportunity while I can. Since I am borrowing this computer and don't want to be rude by staying on it too long, I'm afraid I don't have time to give out all of my individual hugs like I normally would. But be assured that I know who you are, and I appreciate each and every one of you. Big Hugs to you all! Now, here's the next chapter!
The Galactic Trinity
The Battle of Crystal Tokyo Part 2
"Damn it, Serena! I knew your were pushing yourself too far!" Endymion growled as he cradled his wife close to his chest in a bridal hold that was as familiar to both of them as breathing.
Serenity lifted her head from his shoulder to gaze at him with exhausted eyes. "Please don't fuss at me. I was only doing what had to be done. I vowed to do everything within my power to help keep our kingdom safe, Darien."
"Not at the cost of your life!" he fired back heatedly.
She took a deep, steadying breath. "Now is not the time for us to be arguing about this. There is still a lot of work to be done. I have to talk to Serena."
"Just stay put," he told her as she tried to wriggle out of his arms. "I doubt you could walk two steps in the shape you're in. I'll take you to her."
He carried her over to where her younger self, still in her full moon princess regalia, was standing with her head leaning against her prince's armored chest.
"I don't know what I'm doing wrong," Serena's voice came out muffled and thick with tears. "I've tried to remember exactly what I did the day I faced Chaos, but something is still not right. I just knew that I would find some way to screw this up!"
"Hush," Darien tried to soothe her as he rubbed her back gently. "Take a few deep breaths and try to calm down. None of this is your fault."
Her head snapped up and she glared at him. "It is so my fault. Everyone is depending on me, and I'm failing miserably as usual. I can hear Raye and Luna's voices griping at me even though they aren't here. I was always a lousy princess, even back during the Silver Millennium. Sometimes I wonder if I was worth the energy it took to have me reincarnated."
Darien looked up over her head and shared a confused look with his older self. Endymion merely shook his head and shrugged.
"Men! It's rare that you can ever think of the right thing to say at the proper time," Serenity scolded both of them as she slid out of Endymion's grip so that she was standing on her feet, although she remained in the circle of his arms and leaned against him wearily.
"Serena, look at me," she then demanded softly.
Serena took a shuddering breath before she turned around to face her future self. Her face was wet and blotchy and the skin around her eyes was pink and puffy. She sniffled hard as she looked at the queen with the expression of someone who was about to face their execution.
"Great Selene! Everyone has been telling me for years that I'm a mess when I cry. I never actually believed them until now," Serenity muttered. Then she sighed. "Serena, you were never a bad princess…ever. Mother would bend you over her knee if she were here and heard you say that. Granted, you were sheltered, pampered, and perhaps just a little bit spoiled during the Silver Millennium, but you cared for your people and tried to do your best for them, both on the moon and here on Earth. Even if the people of Earth didn't know that you were their princess and that you were looking out for them. And as far as wondering whether you were worthy of being reincarnated, well, mom would go spastic if she heard that."
Serena giggled shakily and mustered a smile through her tears. "Yeah, she probably would. And mom on a tantrum is never a good thing. So do you want to clue me in on what I'm doing wrong?"
"It's not that you're doing anything wrong, it's just…" Serenity began, but she stuttered to a stop when they heard an explosion that sounded fairly close to the palace.
"That sounded bad," Sailor Shadow said as she jogged up with both Andrews right behind her. Her eyes were wide, but they were darting around feverishly, looking for any signs of trouble, and her gloved fingers twitched like she was just itching to jump into a fight.
Endymion immediately began barking into his communicator, "Kunz! I need a status report! What's going on?"
There was a moment of static before the head general's voice crackled to life. "All four of the main gates are under heavy fire and there are cracks in the shield that are allowing some of the enemies to make it past our lines of defense. A few guardians and sentinels managed to make it within a few blocks of the palace, but we took them down. Everyone is fighting, but the outside lines are getting swamped by incoming. If something doesn't turn around soon we could lose the city."
"I'm sorry," the future Jess gritted between clenched teeth as she focused on directing her powers into trying to shield Crystal Tokyo. "I know that casting a barrier of this size causes me to have a lot of weak points that are easily penetrated. But if I try to channel more energy into the shield things could go downhill really quick."
"You're doing fine, sweetheart," Drew told her. "Just concentrate on keeping yourself calm and in the zone. The rest of us will take care of everything else."
She snorted. "Easy for you to say! I'm the one who has to worry about what will happen if things get out of control. I can keep this up for a few minutes, but after that I'll start feeling like a ticking time bomb."
Serena shrugged off Darien's hand on her shoulder and took a few steps forward so that she was only a few feet away from the queen. "You told me that I wasn't doing anything wrong. But there is obviously something that I'm still not getting. Please tell me what I need to do to use the true power of the Silver Crystal. I want to protect everyone."
Serenity's lips turned up into a tired smile. "And that right there is the key."
"Okay…and now you've lost me," Serena grumbled. "I already told you that earlier when I promised to do everything in my power to protect this city, and I meant every word of it."
Endymion huffed a chuckle. "I feel like I'm listening to a broken record. Didn't those almost exact same words just come out of your mouth a couple of minutes ago, Sere?"
"Don't start on me!" Serenity snapped in a tone that she meant to sound peeved, but was threaded with undercurrents of amusement. Then she refocused on Serena. "Close your eyes."
"What for?" Serena asked in confusion.
Serenity shook her head. "Just trust me on this, okay."
Serena shrugged. "Whatever you say." She let her eyelids slide shut.
Serenity reached forward and took her past self's hands, which were still holding onto the Silver Crystal, into hers, cupping them gently between her palms. The crystal began to glow dimly as the two of them connected.
"Listen to me, Serena," she began speaking softly. "I know this is hard for you to do, but I need you to think back to that day when you faced Chaos. Picture it clearly in your mind. Imagine yourself there. Galaxia has just tried and failed to steal your star seed because of the Light of Hope. Do you remember that moment?"
Serena flinched visibly at the unwelcome memories, but nodded. "Yes, I remember it perfectly. Tokyo was burning and collapsing around me. I can still hear the Starlights screaming for me to run, but I couldn't. Everyone else was dead, and I knew it was time for all or nothing." She felt Darien come up behind her to place his hands on her shoulders, and she drew strength from his support.
Serenity nodded, a ghostly expression of remembered pain flitting briefly across her face as well. "I remember it too. What were you feeling at that moment?"
"Broken," Serena whispered after a few seconds. "I was absolutely shattered. I felt lost, alone, and heartsick. I had faced down some tough enemies before and had been through some pretty gruesome battles, but I had never felt that low before; except…"
"Except for the last day in the Moon Kingdom," Serenity finished for her when her voice trailed off.
Serena's eyes snapped open to stare at the queen. "But it wasn't exactly the same. I mean I didn't care at that point if Galaxia killed me. I would have welcomed it. But the thought of suicide never crossed my mind."
"Probably because you didn't have a sword handy," Sailor Shadow drawled snidely.
Andrew heaved a sigh and clamped a hand over his soon to be wife's mouth. "Not helping, sweetheart."
Serena shook her head. "No. This was different. Even after I got a sword later I never thought about using it that way. In fact, I didn't want to touch it. But Galaxia pushed me into it. She kept attacking me and goading me until I just lost it. I got mad, and my anger overrode my sorrow. I grabbed that sword, and that was when everything happened."
"No. That was when everything started," Serenity corrected her. "Sure, you were angry, but that wasn't what pulled your true power to the surface. You were feeling something else, and I don't mean just your sadness. You were filled with determination."
Understanding was beginning to shine in Serena's eyes. "Well, yeah, maybe just a little bit. It was silly, but I couldn't help but feel like I would have been letting everyone down if I just sat down and gave up. We had all vowed to protect this planet. And even if I was the last one standing, I owed it to them to fight until the end. I even thought I heard Raye's voice in my head bitching at me at one point."
Serenity snickered. "If there was one person whose voice could cross the realms to give me a hard time, it would be hers. My point is that it is your conviction that has always fueled your power. No matter who you have ever faced; Metallia, the Doom Phantom, Pharaoh 90, Nehelenia, or any of the others who have come here, your desire to protect this world is what drove you. And in every battle you grew stronger and your power evolved. It reached its zenith during that battle with Chaos, but it frightened you, so you pushed it away."
Serena shuddered. "It is scary. It's wild and feels like it wants to drain me dry. Then I can't help but think of mother. She died because she used up all of her energy. When I was growing up on the moon she always warned me about the dangers of using a crystal."
Shadow tapped the toe of her boot against the ground. "The key is to remember that you control the energy of the crystal, not the other way around." Then she smacked a palm to her forehead. "Great! Now I'm starting to sound like Nebula."
Andrew chuckled. "I think we'll be okay as long as you don't suddenly develop an unusual fondness for salmon and start purring."
A sly grin twitched her lips. "Aw, baby, I always thought you liked it when I purr."
"Save it for the honeymoon!" the future Jess ground out. "Yes, you two are hot for each other and everyone knows it. I've been in your shoes before. Now, moving back to the control issues. Mine is fast reaching its limit. So whatever you people are going to do, you better get on with it. Because in about two minutes I'm going to have to decide whether to drop this shield and lay out the welcome mat or punch it with a bit more juice and hope and pray that it doesn't go critical."
Serena pulled her hands from Serenity's, clenching the Silver Crystal between her fingers. "Just hang in there for another minute. I think I know what I need to do now."
Darien's hands tightened on her shoulders as he leaned down to whisper in her ear. "Are you sure you're ready for this?"
She turned around and went up on her tiptoes to brush a quick kiss across his lips. "I can do this."
The crystal began glowing brighter as she said those words. The light intensified until it was glowing brighter than she had ever seen it since the day that she had fought Chaos, and it was fairly crackling with energy that was begging to be released.
Neo Queen Serenity gave her a conspiratorial smile. "Now that is what I was talking about. Are you ready now?"
Serena met her eyes and nodded. "I'm ready."
Darien kissed her cheek and whispered, "Be careful. I love you," before stepping back.
"I will," she promised as she turned to face the large security crystal once more.
"Just remember," Serenity counseled her one last time. "The energy will feel strong and wild, but it is your power and you control it. It will want to burst out all at once, but you will be able to hold it back and dole it out in a steady stream."
Serena bobbed her head absently, concentrating on the pulsating crystal in her hands and her deep need to protect the planet and its people. "I understand.
The queen swept an arm regally as she backed away. "Then the stage is all yours, Princess Serenity of the Moon. Jess, drop your shield."
"It's about damn time!" the future Jess growled as the Celestial Crystal in her hands stopped glowing.
Even before the blue energy shield that had been protecting the city for the past few minutes had a chance to fade away, Serena released the hold that she had been exerting on the Silver Crystal's power and a beam of silver light shot from it into the security crystal. A heartbeat later she felt herself become wrapped in that power as a large beam of energy shot into the sky and formed a protective dome over Crystal Tokyo.
She felt an itchy prickling on her back, but for once she didn't fight against the sensation. Instead, she willed it to come. She gasped as she felt pressure in her shoulder blades that was almost painful. But she sighed in relief a few seconds later when the pressure burst outward and she felt a rush of giddiness.
So this was her true power that her former mother had been encouraging her to embrace. It wasn't as frightening as she remembered it being when she'd battled Chaos. Oh, it was strong. And if she didn't maintain a tight hold it had the potential spiraling out of control and sucking her dry in two seconds flat. But as her future self had pointed out, it was completely manageable.
She longed to look over her shoulder to see if her wings were as large, white, feathery, and as impressive as the queen's had been, but she dared not take her concentration away from the task at hand.
'They are magnificent,' Darien's voice echoed in her head.
'Are you spying on me?' she teased back.
She heard him chuckle, both mentally and out loud from where she sensed him standing several yards away. 'I'm just doing as I always do and keeping an eye on you. I can't have you over exhausting yourself. But you're so stubborn sometimes.'
'Jerk!' she grumbled at him.
'Meatball Head!' he thought back fondly.
Serena became aware of other things that she could sense now that she had released the true power of the Silver Crystal. She felt many strong energy signatures moving around the city. The future scouts, the generals, and the sorcerers were slightly blurry to her, but the eight auras of her scouts were like shining beacons that called to her. And as she studied them she was thrilled to find that she was able to read them as easily as words on a page. They were all battling against the enemies that had managed to slip into the city, but so far they were all unharmed except for minor injuries and seemed to be holding their own against Discord's flunkies.
'We can do this,' she thought proudly. Then she winced a bit at the uncomfortable sensation of dark energy ramming against her barrier. But she stood her ground and growled under her breath, "Bring it on, you bastards!"
Serenity sighed as she felt arms wrap around her from behind. She felt like she could wilt to the ground and curl up to sleep for a week. But she stayed on her feet and leaned against Endymion's chest for support instead. She was tired, beyond tired actually, but this battle was far from over and she couldn't afford to be lazing around.
Her king's breath tickled her ear as he spoke. "So I guess you got through to her."
"Of course I did," she told him. "After all, she is me. I have lived through the same events that she has and felt the same emotions. I knew exactly what to say to trigger the right reaction from her. And now she has embraced her full potential."
Endymion looked over to where his past self, who was dressed in the armor from a lifetime ago, was keeping a careful watch over the reincarnated moon princess. Their identical eyes met for a moment and they shared a deep look of understanding.
Then his gaze fell on the young woman in white wielding her newfound power with experienced hands. "She will make a wonderful queen someday. But then again, I always knew you were special."
"Alex!" Ishtar screamed as she dragged herself toward the gaping hole that was now in the spot where she'd last seen her fiancé.
"DJ!" Crescent Moon echoed her in disbelief as she too crawled clumsily across the rocks and clumps of dirt that now littered the ground from the massive blast.
"Whoa! Whoa! You two hold up!" Flame exclaimed as he stumbled to his feet, cradling his left arm to his chest. He was no doctor, but he was pretty sure that it was broken. "Don't get too close to the edge. The ground is unstable. If you're not careful you could fall in after them!"
"Jay's right," Callisto agreed. She tried to stand but then let out a sharp scream of pain and sank back to the ground. She clutched her side where blood was flowing freely from a large puncture wound. Some flying projectile, probably a rock or something of that nature, had torn through her skin and muscle like tissue paper.
Caloris sat up dizzily, wiping blood from her eyes that had dripped down from a cut on her forehead. One side of her face was scratched up badly and already beginning to swell. "Where did Discord go?"
Crescent Moon snorted. "That cowardly bastard took off toward the city the moment he attacked DJ and the others." She smashed her fist against the ground. "Damn it! How did things turn out like this?" She sat up properly and held her right ankle in both hands as she rocked back and forth like it pained her.
"Alex…" Ishtar whimpered again as she grabbed handfuls of grass and continued to try and pull herself toward the hole. Her obviously broken leg dragged behind her uselessly.
"Emma, stop," Caloris cried as she let Flame help her to her feet. Then she stumbled over the uneven ground toward the peach suited scout. "Your leg is broken, and you could do more harm if you keep moving around. Not to mention that you could have internal injuries."
"I don't care!" Ishtar screamed back. "I have to find him!"
"Just calm down for a second!" Callisto snapped as she painfully crawled over to the two girls, leaving a small trail of blood behind. She flopped onto the ground next to the now sobbing blonde. "You're always ranting and raving about soul bonds. Can't you sense Alex? He's not…" she couldn't bring herself to say dead.
Ishtar's head snapped up, revealing snapping gray eyes that were the color of steel and as hard as stone. It made everyone around her shiver a bit. At that moment she resembled her father much more than she did her mother.
"He's not dead!" she growled. "But I can't contact him, which means that he is unconscious. For all I know he's laying somewhere, bleeding out. And if he is I have to try and help him."
"You're in no condition to try and help anyone. None of us are," Caloris told her firmly. She had pulled out her mini-computer and was typing much more sluggishly than usual. "Your leg is broken and you have signs of possible spinal bruising. Whatever hit Skye severed an artery and nicked one of her kidneys. Rini has a broken ankle and two cracked ribs. Jayden's arm is broken and he has a dislocated shoulder. Not to mention I feel like I could pass out at any moment from this concussion and I think my cheekbone is broken."
Flame had ventured closer to the hole, which he could now see was more like a small canyon. The ground slipped loosely beneath him, so he kept his distance. But he craned his neck to look in. "It's so deep and dark down there. I can't even see the bottom. I don't know if anyone could survive a fall like that."
"Don't say that," Crescent Moon snarled at him. "They have to be alive! They just have to be! Discord can't be defeated without them."
"Well, from where I'm laying, we are categorically screwed," Callisto moaned as she flung an arm over her eyes. "So what do we do now?"
Crescent Moon chewed furiously on her bottom lip as she fought to hold back tears of pain. She hated to crawl back home with her tail between her legs, but it didn't seem like she had much of a choice. They were all badly injured and needed medical attention.
"Damn!" she groaned. "I think we should teleport back home for now. Both my dad and Darien are there. They can probably patch us up pretty quickly, and then we can come back to look for the others."
"That sounds like a good idea," Flame said as he rejoined them. "But can we teleport through Jess's power? What if it blasts us by accident?"
Crescent Moon eyed the blue energy covering Crystal Tokyo critically. "I guess there's only one way to find out. We can't stay here in the shape we're in."
Just then, the blue shield of the Celestial Crystal disappeared to be replaced with one of silver, making the injured princess grin. "Now that I know we can teleport through. My Pink Moon Crystal shares a lot of the same powers as the Silver Crystal. I can get us through."
"I don't know if I have the energy left for a teleport," Callisto said faintly. Her skin was beginning to look pale from blood loss.
Caloris didn't say a word. She just suddenly slumped toward the ground as her eyes rolled back in her head and she fainted.
Flame caught her in his one good arm before she could hit the ground and lowered her gently. "Shit! What do we do now?"
Crescent Moon closed her eyes for a moment. She had another option. She didn't really want to use it, but she didn't have a choice. She readied herself for the scolding that she knew she was about to receive and whispered, "Helios, I need you."
Two heartbeats later the dream priest appeared in a flash of soft white light. His amber eyes widened as he took in the five injured teens on the ground before zeroing in on his future wife.
He flew to her side in a blur. "Rini, sweetheart, what happened?"
"Discord happened," she growled. "He blasted us and then attacked DJ, Katie, and Alex. They fell down in that hole over there, and we don't know if they are okay. But we're all so bashed up that we can't even try to go and look for them. We need to get home, but Hannah is unconscious and the rest of us are barely running on fumes. I hate to call you into the middle of this, but do you think you could help us out?"
Helios looked mildly offended. "Do you even have to ask? You know that I am always here to help you if you need me."
And then they all disappeared in a flash of white light.
DJ fought to claw his way out of the darkness around him. As he crept closer to consciousness he felt his head pounding and his mouth was as dry as a desert. Had he gone on a drinking binge the night before? He couldn't remember.
He felt other aches and pains riddling his body, but they were gradually fading. He also felt warm, so he snuggled deeper into his mattress, intending to go back to sleep until he slept off this hangover or whatever it was. Then he frowned. When had his bed become so hard and lumpy? And then he heard the voices.
"I think he's coming around?" a boy's voice said.
"I know that, you idiot!" a girl snapped back. "I figured he would once the head wound started repairing itself."
"You don't have to be such a brat!" the boy's voice grumbled.
He heard a dainty snort. "Just keep the light steady so I can see what I'm doing."
DJ groaned and forced his heavy eyelids to open. At first, all he saw was a blur. But after he blinked a few times he was able to make out the figure of a girl knelt over him. It was hard to see her properly in the flickering light, but he could see long, straight black hair pulled back into a ponytail.
"Ryssa?" he croaked, his voice rusty sounding.
The girl jumped at the sound. "Oops! I didn't realize you were awake yet!" she exclaimed as she turned to face him. "You've recovered a lot quicker than I thought you would."
He realized immediately that he had made a mistake. This girl definitely wasn't Ryssa. She was quite a few years older than the young fire scout, and looked to be around his own age, about sixteen or so. Her face was delicately boned with high cheekbones and a perfectly proportioned small nose. Something about her features screamed familiarity to him, but her eyes were what captivated him the most. They were large and round, and looked as if they could see straight into someone's soul, but there was something off about them. He couldn't make out what it was in the semi-gloom around them. That, and his mind was still too fuzzy. The main thing was that she was a stranger to him.
"Um, I'm sorry, but who are you?" he asked hesitantly.
She shook her head. "Nobody important. But I'm here to help. Just stay still until I get done with you. You were injured pretty badly and were almost dead. I know you can heal yourself, but it's best if you conserve your energy." Then she looked across him and demanded, "Keep the light coming."
"Yes ma'am, your high and mightiness!" the boy's voice from before replied sarcastically before the glow of light grew a bit brighter.
DJ turned his head to look at the speaker. He appeared to be slightly older than the girl, maybe eighteen or so, with golden blonde hair that was shoulder length and pulled back into a short ponytail. The shadows cast by the light made it hard to tell what color his eyes were, but they were dark, perhaps dark brown or black. But what was shocking was that he held a glowing orange ball of energy in his hands. That was the source of light.
"Hey! Are you almost done patching him up?" another, deeper male voice asked from somewhere behind him. "The other two aren't looking so hot."
DJ twisted his head around to look in the direction that the voice had come from and growled. The flickering light was just bright enough for him to make out a light haired male figure standing over Katie and Alex where they lay just a short distance away. He couldn't see Alex well at all, but his heart clenched painfully in his chest at the sight of his girlfriend. She was pale and unmoving with blood streaking one side of her face and her arm was bent at an unnatural angle, obviously broken.
"Kat!" he groaned as he attempted to get up and go to her. She was hurt, and she needed him. He could heal her. He didn't care if he was supposed to be conserving energy or not.
The girl pushed him back down gently by the shoulders. "Just calm down. She'll be taken care of soon. She has some serious injuries, but they are not life threatening. She'll be fine. You were the one that I was worried about the most. You landed on a sharp piece of stone when you fell and it impaled you. Luckily it missed your heart and lungs, but the damage was very extensive. Now I'm more concerned about making sure your head is healed properly. You took quite a bashing."
"When I fell?" DJ murmured in confusion. He didn't even know where he was or how he had gotten there. Everything was so fuzzy in his head. But he stopped struggling and lay back down.
He almost shot up again when the girl held her hands above him and they started glowing gold, just like his and his dad's did when they healed someone. Then he felt the warm, familiar power flow over him. Just who was this girl? She was obviously a crystal carrier of some kind. But how had she ended up with this particular power?
"Don't ask. It's for the best if you don't know," she murmured as she read the questions in his eyes. "Just be assured that we are friends. And we aren't any of Discord's lackeys or products of his mind manipulations either."
Discord! The sound of that demon's name brought everything rushing back to him. He, Katie, Alex, and their friends had been fighting Discord when he had blasted them, knocking the others away while sending the three of them tumbling into the hole that had haunted their nightmares for years.
"The battle?" he had to ask.
The blonde boy answered him. "It's still going on. Your sister and your friends were injured pretty badly, so Helios came and helped them get safely back to Crystal Tokyo so they could get help. At last check, Serena was using the Silver Crystal and holding back the baddies. A few have managed to get in here and there, but the inside defense team has been able to take care of them. There's been some damage to the city. But so far there have been no civilian casualties and only a few injuries. But now Discord has set his sights on breaking down the defenses in order to get in and challenge Jess for the Celestial Crystal. So we need The Galactic Trinity back on their feet."
The dark haired girl who had been healing him sat back and wiped her forehead with her arm. "I think I've taken care of everything. How do you feel?"
DJ moved experimentally and felt nothing more than a slight stiffness in his muscles. The pain in his head had also vanished and he was beginning to be able to think clearly again. "I feel pretty good. Thanks."
She flashed him a grin and a wink. "No problem. Now do me a favor and just sit here and rest a minute while I go take care of Katie. I know you're worried about her, but I really don't need you in my way."
The boy snickered. "I'd listen to her if I were you. She gets really grouchy when she doesn't get her way."
She scowled at her companion and then flipped him off. "Screw you!"
He chuckled. "Uh, no. Not in a million, trillion years."
She rolled her eyes at him. "It was a figure of speech, you moron!"
"Do you need me to move the light?" he asked her.
She waved a hand at him. "Nah. I think there's enough for me to see by. You just stick here for a minute and keep patient number one out of trouble for me." She climbed to her feet, swaying just the tiniest bit.
The young man's whole demeanor abruptly became concerned. "Are you sure you can handle two more healings?"
"I'll be fine," she told him in a much softer tone. "Katie and Alex will be walks in the park after putting him back together." She gestured to DJ. "We're only talking about a couple of bumps on the head, a few broken bones, and some scrapes and bruises. I could heal those in my sleep."
DJ sat up as she shuffled over to Katie. He felt something wet on his stomach and reached down to place his hand over a large wet patch on the black fabric of his shirt. When he pulled it back he saw that his palm was stained red. There was also a decent sized hole in the shirt that was almost the size of someone's arm. He reached around behind him and felt more blood and another hole in the back of the shirt. He couldn't help but shudder.
The guy next to him grunted in sympathy. "Kinda makes you glad you were out cold for that part, huh? We almost thought you were dead when we got here. Little Miss Florence Nightingale over there went spastic for a minute until she realized that you were still alive."
Common curiosity was now getting the better of DJ, but he didn't want to offend his healer so he asked in a whisper, "Is there something odd about her eyes? I couldn't really tell in this light."
"Ah! You noticed that did you?" the blonde replied in just as quiet of a voice as he started playing with the energy ball he was still holding, passing it from hand to hand. "Most people usually do, but they have a hard time figuring out what it is right off the bat. What it all boils down to is that she has two different colored eyes. I guess it was some kind of a genetic flub up."
"Oh, I see," DJ mused as watched a golden veil of power fall over Katie as her healing process was begun. He really wanted to go over there, but the mysterious healing savior had made it clear that she didn't want any interference. "She sounds like someone who is used to getting her way."
The boy snorted. "She's damn bossy, that's what she is. But, I can't really complain. She's good at what she does and she's a great friend to have. I'd rather put up with her than not have her around."
"I can hear you guys you know!" the girl grumbled absently at them. Her attention was clearly focused on her current mission, but it didn't stop her from muttering under her breath, "I am so getting some colored contacts! I am sick to death of my eyes being the first thing that people notice. I don't like people thinking I'm a freak."
The blonde next to DJ jumped to his feet with a snarl. The light in his hands flashed brighter, revealing that his eyes were actually dark blue. And at the moment they were cold and hard as gunmetal.
"Who's called you a freak?" he demanded hotly. "I'll kick their asses! Nobody talks about someone in my family and gets away with it!"
"Nobody has ever said it out loud," the dark haired girl sighed. "But they don't have to. I can read it in their expressions. The ones that bother to get to know me get over it."
The third member of their party, who DJ could now see was a young man who was a few years older than the other two with messy, longish platinum hair that made him look like he had just rolled out of bed and was wearing a pair of sunglasses, despite being in a dark cavern, cleared his throat gruffly. "Don't you two think you better watch what you say?"
Well that spoke volumes to DJ. He had been time traveling long enough by now to know a Sailor Pluto threat when he heard one. Whoever these people were, they were definitely from another time. He was pretty sure that time had to be from somewhere in the future, which immediately started speculations racing through his brain, but he pushed those ideas aside, thinking, 'Nah! It couldn't be. My brains are probably still scrambled from that hit to the head.'
"Sorry," the blonde boy told his older companion.
"I'm sorry too," the girl echoed. "I shouldn't be airing my petty problems at a time like this anyway. I don't know why I even let what other people think bother me."
The platinum haired man's tight jaw loosened as he stepped forward and placed a hand on top of her dark head. "Don't worry about it, Pipsqueak. We all love you just the way you are."
She looked up at him and smiled. "I know. But if you call me Pipsqueak again I just might have to blast you a new one." Then she sat back with a sigh as her golden power faded. "There! Two down, one to go. I will need some more light to tend to Alex."
The blonde boy's expression turned anxious as he hurried over so that the light from the energy he was casting fell over Alex, who despite what was said earlier, looked as if he had been run through a wringer as well. His clothes were ripped in places, and blood was streaming from multiple cuts and scrapes on his body while purple bruises were already beginning to form on his face.
Figuring that it was okay to move now without incurring anyone's wrath, DJ scrambled to his feet, pleased with himself that he felt steady, and almost ran to where Katie was laying. He sank down onto his knees beside her and gently lifted her upper body into his lap so he could wrap his arms around her. There was still blood on her face, but there was no sign of any cuts it could have come from and her arm appeared to be back to its normal state.
He looked over at the girl, who was now kneeling beside Alex. "Thank you."
She inclined her head. "It was my pleasure. Now to wrap this up." She held her hands over Alex as they began to glow once more.
Katie moaned low in her throat as she shifted in his arms. And then she whispered, "DJ?"
His arms tightened around her just a bit. "I'm right here, baby. How do you feel?"
Her eyes opened and she blinked the hazel orbs several times to bring him into focus. "I'm okay, I guess. I feel a little fuzzy headed though. Am I imagining things, or did we really just live out our nightmare?"
"It was real," he told her. "That bastard blasted the ground from underneath us and we fell in."
Suddenly she bolted upright as she exclaimed, "Alex!" Then she clutched her head in her hands as it spun dizzily.
"Whoa! Take it easy for a minute, Kat," he cautioned her. "You just woke up after being knocked out. Give yourself a few moments to get yourself together. Alex is going to be fine. We had some unexpected help come our way."
Katie looked up, and then looked around, taking in the three strangers. "Am I dreaming, or have we been sucked into The Twilight Zone?"
DJ chuckled. "I'm not entirely sure what is going on, but I don't think we're dreaming."
The platinum haired man grinned at them. "Are you so sure that it's real?" He began to eerily hum the theme song to the old television show.
Katie peered closer at him. "Wait a minute. Do I know you from somewhere? You seem awfully familiar to me."
A pale brow arched over the rim of the sunglasses. "Nope! You don't know me. You've never met me before."
"Hmph!" the blonde boy next to Alex muttered. "And you thought that my being here was going to cause a problem."
"You will if you don't keep your damn mouth shut!" the older man shot back. "You always have a tendency to run off at the mouth. You're worse than a gossipy woman!"
The healing girl's head shot up and she scowled. "Hey! I take offense to that! I happen to be female, and I don't think I gossip too much!"
The boy by her side reached out a hand to ruffle her hair fondly. "Of course you don't. But you do turn into a bit of a chatterbox when you get together with the girls."
Katie rubbed her temples with her fingers. "Why does all of this sound so familiar?"
Just then, Alex jerked under the girl's hands and his eyes flew open. Then he scrambled backward like a crab, yelling, "What the hell is going on?"
"Jeez, Lex! What a way to wake up!" Katie squealed in a startled tone. "Now stop yelling like someone just took out your computer with a shotgun and let whoever our little mystery visitors are help you out."
"He's fine," the girl reassured her. "I was pretty much done with him before he started spazzing. He just had a bump on the head and some scrapes and bruises. He didn't even break any bones. I was able to fix him right up."
"Thank goodness," Katie sighed. Then she snapped to attention. "Which reminds me, how in the hell do you have that particular talent? I only know of two people who can heal. Well three actually if you count the Darien from the past. But I don't know if I can really count him since the him from the past and the him that's from this time are really the same person. But there are two of him in one place. So I guess technically they qualify as being two separate people. But still…
DJ put a hand on her arm. "Sweetheart, you're rambling. I told you things were a bit crazy. Just go with it."
Katie peered at the girl suspiciously for a moment, then asked, "Is there something wrong with your eyes?"
The girl glared back for a few seconds before she screeched, "Why are my eyes the first thing that everybody picks up on? They're not that different! Yes, they are two different colors, but it's not that big of a deal!"
"Damn, girl! Lower the decibels a bit before you bring the entire place caving in on us," the blonde boy chuckled.
"Yes, please," their companion grumbled. "You know, you could be an opera singer with that voice."
"Shut up!" she growled, stomping a foot. "There are a few things I could say about the two of you as well."
"Good grief!" Alex muttered as he got up off the ground. "Are you three siblings? Because you sure fight like you're brothers and sister."
Katie huffed a breath. "Excuse me! We happen to be brother and sister, and we never fight like that." She accepted a hand up from DJ and then made a flying leap at her brother.
Alex instinctively wrapped his arms around her to keep them both from crashing to the ground. "Whoa, Kat! Chill for a sec! I'm still trying to get my head on straight. I just…wait a minute. Are you crying?"
She reared back in his arms and began slapping lightly at his arm as tears poured down her cheeks. "Of course I am, you dumb ass! I'm scared, and I'm trying to figure out just what in the hell is going on around here! In case you haven't realized it, we just went through the worst nightmare we've ever had and we're surrounded by magic-wielding people we don't know!"
Alex looked helplessly at DJ. "Hey! Would you take her or something? You're better at calming her down than I am. Just warn me beforehand if you're going to start kissing her again like you did earlier. I'm still a little queasy from that."
The three of them didn't notice that the black haired girl flinched at Alex's words or that her expression had turned to one of mild disgust. But her two companions did have to bite back chuckles when they heard her mutter sarcastically, "Of course they would have been kissing in the middle of something important. How totally typical of them!"
"I'm fine," Katie insisted as she scrubbed her wet cheeks. "So what's our next move?"
The girl tapped her foot impatiently. "Whatever you're going to do, I suggest you get a move on. Right about now I'd say that Discord is getting geared up to try and blast his way into Crystal Tokyo."
"Damn!" DJ growled as he looked up, way up, to where the tiniest speck of light showed where the surface was. Wow, they had fallen a long way. It was amazing that the three of them had survived the fall long enough to be healed.
He turned to look at Katie and Alex. "I think we should head back home first. We can check on the others and see if any of them are still in any shape to fight. Then we'll go face that bastard again."
Katie's expression was a bit apprehensive, but she nodded determinedly. "Sounds like a plan."
Alex put a hand behind his head and chuckled. "Yeah, that better be my first stop so I can let Emma know I'm still alive. She's got to be going crazy by now."
"Can't you just talk to her through your bond?" Katie asked him.
"And have her screeching like a banshee inside my head?" Alex gasped in horror. "Thanks, but no thanks, sis. It will be much better and save me the headache to see her in person."
"We should get moving then," DJ told them. Then he looked to their rescuers, the black haired girl in particular. "Thank you for everything, you guys. We would have been screwed if you hadn't come along. And thank Pluto for us if you see her before we do. It was good of her to have a plan in place in case we got into trouble."
"That's what I thought was going on, but I wasn't entirely sure," Katie mumbled.
Alex grinned. "Now I don't feel so crazy. I was thinking the same thing."
The platinum haired boy with the sunglasses growled, "How did you figure that out?"
DJ folded his arms across his chest and looked smug. "We're not exactly stupid. And it really wasn't that hard to put two and two together. We've done our share of time traveling too, so we are very familiar with the rules about not saying too much."
Katie took a step toward the girl who had healed them. "Sorry about what I said earlier. People with unusual eyes are just a touchy subject for me. But now that I look at them, I have to say that yours are very unique. At least from what I can tell in this light."
The girl sighed and shook her head. "Colored contacts are so going at the top of my next shopping list." Then she pushed her slightly sweaty black bangs away from her forehead. "Well, this has been real and all, but you guys better book it. You've got a planet to save."
"Right!" DJ, Katie, and Alex said together as they accessed the gods' powers. Their eyes began glowing gold, silver, and red-orange respectively before they disappeared in three flashes of light.
The black haired girl folded her arms and huffed. "Mom's one to talk about unusual eyes. Hers looked pretty freaky lit up all silver like that."
The golden blonde boy holding the orange orb pulled lightly on her ponytail. "Aw, lighten up a little bit, Allie. You know how outspoken Aunt Kat can be. And she's always said that she loves your eyes." Then his voice turned serious. "Thanks for healing my dad."
She glared at him with her one sky blue eye and her other of mossy hazel. "For crying out loud, Josh! Did you honestly think that I would heal my mom and dad and leave Uncle Lex just lying there? Have a little faith in me."
The quiet, platinum haired young man pushed between them before a squabble broke out. "Sometimes I find it hard to believe that the three of us are actually cousins. Anyway, we should hurry up and get back home. We promised Setsuna that we wouldn't hang around once the job was done." He pulled a thin golden chain with a jeweled key hanging from it from under his shirt. "Besides, my mom will have kittens if I don't get this back to her soon."
"You worry too much, Endy," Josh drawled. "Is that what the pressure of being second in line for the throne does to you? You better watch out, or you'll wind up having a heart attack at an early age. It makes me glad that my side of the family chose to not accept it's royal heritage."
Allie sighed. "I wish I had that option. But at least I'm not in direct line to ever be queen. My dad may be a doctor, but he is also a prince. And having that much of a familial tie to the royal family can be a pain in the ass sometimes."
Endy pulled his sunglasses down the bridge of his nose and smirked at them with humorously glinting maroon eyes. "I'm not concerned in the least about ever having to be king. At the rate it's going grandma and grandpa will be ruling forever, which mom says is just fine with her. She and dad would rather spend most of their time in Elysian anyway."
Josh shrugged nonchalantly. "Well, let's blow this place. Who's up for pizza and a few rounds of miniature golf tonight?"
Allie groaned. "I'd love to go. But I promised my parents that I would baby-sit tonight. You know grandma's new show is opening at her gallery, and they want to go. So I'm in for a night of hell. Ren's not that hard to look after, she's happy playing with her dolls and watching cartoons. But the twins…I'll probably end up killing both of those boys before the night is over."
Josh patted her on the shoulder sympathetically. "I forgot all about that. My parents are going too, of course. Grandma always says that she needs all the support she can get when a new show opens. But I never get asked to baby-sit anymore since Kim and Clarissa have gotten old enough to watch the little ones. So how would you like some company instead? I'll bring pizza and a movie and help you run the kids ragged. And after we've tucked the rugrats in for the night we'll just kick back and veg."
"Sounds good to me," Allie replied with a grin. Then she sighed. "It's hard sometimes being the oldest of four kids."
Josh huffed indignantly. "You should try being in my shoes. My mom announced at breakfast this morning that she's pregnant again."
"Again!" the other two exclaimed in disbelief.
"Are Alex and Emma trying to start their own tribe?" Endy chuckled. "I'm glad my parents have never felt the need to provide me with a ton of siblings. I'm happy with playing big brother to just one little sister, thank you very much. And Ilene isn't as annoying as she used to be since she finally left behind the horrible pre-teen years."
Allie shook her head as a pink time portal opened before them. "Looks like Uncle Lex is going to have to add on to your house again, Josh. So Endy, did you want to join us for the veg-fest tonight?"
The prince tried to look horrified. "Now why would an eligible bachelor like myself want to sit around with my two not yet of legal age cousins when there are clubs out there that I could be cruising?"
Allie smacked his shoulder. "You've gotten so mean since you suddenly decided that you were too old and too cool to hang out with us anymore. Besides," and she began to smile slyly, "I happen to know for a fact that you have been seeing a certain young lady exclusively for the past couple of months, and that she is out of town this weekend. So I seriously doubt that you are going to be out club hopping while she's gone."
He grinned ruefully. "Okay, you got me. I'm busted. And yeah, a pizza pig-out session does sound better than moping around all night. Just promise me that we can watch a good movie and not some sappy chick-flick."
"Since when have you ever known me to watch chick-flicks?" Allie huffed with her nose pointed regally in the air.
Josh snickered. "You did watch grandma's old collection of Twilight movies when you were sick with the flu last year."
"I did not watch them!" she protested. "Mom put them on because she thought I might like them since I had gotten into the vampire thing by reading her old collection of Dark-Hunter novels. But Twilight isn't a real vampire story. They sparkle for crying out loud. Sparkle! Vampires are supposed to be badass, not glittery, poetry spouting, piano playing gentlemen!"
"Don't let your mom hear you knock piano playing," Endy teased.
Allie let out a sound between a groan and a screech. "The point is that I mostly slept through those movies and mom kept switching them out. It was not any of my doing."
The three of them were still teasing and bickering as they stepped through the portal and disappeared.
(Meanwhile, in the Elysian of the future)
"So, how much longer do you think we should give them?" Katie asked as she reached to grab a handful of popcorn from the bowl sitting on DJ's lap.
DJ shrugged as he popped a few of the fluffy kernels in his mouth. "Not sure. I wasn't expecting this kind of reaction out of them. I was a bit shocked at that turn of events myself, but not enough to act like that. In fact, and don't take offense to this, with your emotions being so jumpy lately I thought that you would be the one who would flip out the most. But you're just as cool as a cucumber."
She flapped a hand at him. "No offense taken. I know I've been a raging bundle of ranting hormones lately. But after everything that has happened to us over the past fifteen years, especially recently, I've just learned to roll with the punches."
Then she placed both of her hands on her slightly swollen stomach and a dreamy look entered her eyes. "Well, we were right about one thing. Our little girl is indeed something special. What was she, fifteen, maybe sixteen? Yet she pulled off three fairly complex healings like it was nothing."
"I would expect nothing less out of a child of ours," DJ chuckled as he leaned over to give her a quick kiss on the lips.
Katie smirked as he pulled back. "I guess you're tickled pink that she takes after you. After all, there hasn't been a true Earth Princess born in thousands of years."
"I'm more grateful than anything," he sighed. "Our past selves might have died in that hole if those kids hadn't showed up."
"That's true," she agreed. Then activity on the viewing portal caught her attention. "Looks like there is about to be some action."
DJ nodded. "I guess we should rouse the others." He stood up and surveyed the four prone bodies that were lying on the floor where they had passed out from shock.
"Wait just a sec!" Katie squealed as she reached for a pen and a sheet of paper that was sitting on the coffee table in front of her and began writing. "This is too good of an opportunity to pass up."
"What are you up to?" he asked, arching a black brow at her.
She grinned impishly. "You'll see. The four of them have been picking on us about impending parenthood for a while. Now the tables have turned slightly against them."
She ripped the paper into four squares and then grabbed a handy roll of tape that somebody had conveniently left on the table. She jumped up from the couch and bent over each of the unconscious people.
When Alex, Emma, Rini, and Helios each woke a minute later, thanks to DJ and Katie's prodding, they sat up to find that they had all had tags taped to the front of their shirts that declared in big, loopy-lettered words, 'Congratulations! It's a boy!'
"Ouch!" Rini whimpered as she felt a twinge of pain in her side.
"I'm sorry, pumpkin," Endymion murmured soothingly as he bent over his daughter. "I'm being as gentle as I can. Just give me a minute and I'll make the pain go away."
"My poor baby," Serenity whispered as she stroked back the pink bangs on the head resting in her lap. Tears were flowing unchecked down her face. "Both of my poor little babies."
Rini's eyes were teary as well as she looked up at her mother. "I'm sorry, momma. I was trying to keep DJ safe. I was right there near him. But Discord, he…he…" She burst into sobs.
"Shh, sweetheart," Serenity murmured comfortingly. "I know you did everything in your power to help your brother and the others. And don't give up hope just yet. Those three are made out of pretty strong stuff. It will take more than falling down a hole to keep them down."
"You're damn right it will!" Eternal Shadow growled from where she was pacing nearby. "If there are two things that this family has got going for it, it's determination and a strong stubborn will to survive and fight back. They'll be fine."
"They better be!" Shadow grumbled from where she was knelt down next to Emma as Darien worked on healing her. "And if they're not, I'm going to go find them, have Darien here heal them, and then kick their asses myself for worrying us like this."
Andrew chuckled beside her. "At least you're handling this better than I thought you would."
She rolled her eyes at him. "Don't get me wrong, I'm pissed! And it's taking every bit of my willpower to keep from literally exploding right now. But I figure if my future self can hold it together, then so can I. The kids are fine. I just have to keep believing that."
"Do you really think so?" Emma whispered from where she was laying. "I'm worried about Katie and DJ too. But I don't know what I'd do if Alex…" She closed her eyes and began to cry softly.
Shadow had grown extremely fond of the girl that her future son loved since she had come to the past. So she picked up Emma's slender hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. "He'll be back with you before you know it, Emma."
Darien sat back, armor clinking lightly, as he looked down at the young blonde. "There! How are you feeling now, Emma."
She moved around experimentally, and then sighed in relief. "Much better, thank you. How about everyone else."
Darien smiled gently at her. "They're all fine. Rini insisted on being the last, and her dad is patching her up as we speak."
Skye walked over and offered her friend a hand to help her up. The only indication that she'd been suffering from a potentially fatal abdominal wound just a short time before was the blood that had soaked into her shirt when she had de-transformed.
"Up we go, love goddess," she drawled as she pulled the blonde up. "How's the leg doing?"
"It's fine," Emma replied shortly. "So where do we stand?" It wasn't often that she exerted her authority as leader of the future guardian scouts of Crystal Tokyo, but that persona was coming through now.
Skye recognized this and answered seriously. "Jayden and Hannah are both back on their feet and ready to go. We're just waiting on Rini. After that, if she can manage to get away from Helios without him throwing a complete hissy," she glanced over to where the obviously concerned dream priest was hovering over his princess and her parents, "I guess we'll head back out to that hole and see what we can find. Hannah has been running scans of the area."
"And I'm not finding much of anything," the tiny blue haired girl grumbled as she and Jayden walked over to join them. "I've picked up a few energy signals here and there, but I can't exactly pinpoint them. Serena's barrier is making it difficult for me to get an accurate reading. I'll just have to wait until we get there."
It wasn't the answer that Emma wanted to hear, but she nodded. "Okay, so as soon as Rini is up and moving we're heading back out to find Alex and the others."
"I'm ready when you guys are," Rini stated as she climbed, slightly unsteadily, to her feet with Helios's help. "Let's get back out there and find them."
Helios gave her a disapproving look. "Don't you think you should take at least a few minutes to rest?"
She glared back at him. "And don't you think you should back off and stop treating me like a fragile piece of china? My brother and two of my closest friends are out there, possibly hurt and needing help. I have to go, so don't you dare try to stop me. If you do I'll…I'll…I'm not sure exactly what I'll do. But I'll do something!"
Endymion clapped his old friend on the shoulder. "It's probably best to let her go. Believe me, I've learned from experience over the last couple of millenniums to never stand in the way of the females in this family once they've set their minds on something."
"He's right," Drew said from where he had been brooding pensively on a nearby bench. Lines of worry were tight around his eyes, but he offered up a small grin. "I've come to the conclusion that all women with even a drop of Lunarian heritage in their systems have to be the most stubborn creatures in the universe."
"Damn straight!" Eternal Shadow quipped as she stopped her pacing to share a look with her husband. A tiny smile of her own played around her lips. "I love it when you talk dirty."
"Spaz!" Rini muttered as she dusted a bit of dirt off her jeans. Then she looked to where the silver light was glowing not far away. "How's Serena holding up?"
Darien sighed. "She's starting to get a bit worn down, but she's okay for now. She should be able to keep it up for a little while longer. I just hope that Discord doesn't try a direct assault on the barrier she's creating. I don't know what that would do to her if he did."
Rini nodded. "That's why I've got to hurry up and find DJ, Katie, and Alex. They're the only ones who can stand in his way. Is everybody ready?"
"Ready, willing, and able," Jayden replied in a much more serious voice than usual.
Hannah bobbed her head. "Me too!"
Helios grabbed Rini's hand as she started to turn away. "Please be careful. I couldn't stand it if something happened to you."
Her determined expression softened as she looked at him. "Don't worry. I'll be coming back to you." Then she kissed him quickly on the lips.
Serenity elbowed Endymion in the ribs as he glowered darkly at the display of affection. "Stop that!" she hissed at him.
"Sorry, knee-jerk reaction," he grouched. But his face lightened considerably as their daughter spoke to them.
"Mom, dad," Rini said softly. "I'll be back soon, and I'll have DJ with me." Then she turned to Eternal Shadow and Drew. "I'll find Katie and Alex too. I promise."
"Just be extremely careful," Serenity told her as she gripped Endymion's hand tightly to keep from pulling Rini into her arms and never letting her go.
Rini nodded firmly. "I will." She turned toward her waiting friends. "Okay, everyone, let's get ready to move."
The four girls and Jayden formed a circle. They were just about to transform and teleport when Emma's head snapped up.
"Yes!" she screeched. "Looks like we don't have to go looking for them after all. They found us."
Two heartbeats later there were three flashes of light inside the circle as the bedraggled looking trio of DJ, Katie, and Alex appeared.
Alex had arrived right in front of Emma, and he grinned at her as she silently gaped at him. "You didn't miss me, did you?"
Her mouth snapped shut as she glared at him with gray eyes that were rapidly filling with tears. Then she finally jumped at him, screaming, "Don't you ever do that to me again!" as she beat her fists against his shoulders and sobbed into his shirt.
"DJ!" Rini squealed as she launched herself at her brother, knocking poor Katie out of the way in the process.
"Hey! What the hell, Rini!" the blonde yelled in outrage as she landed hard on her butt.
Rini sniffled sheepishly. "Oops! Sorry, sorry!"
"Just give me some warning next time," Katie grumbled as she started to get up. But a second later she was flat on her back as she was hit with a flying tackle. "Mom! Get off of me!" she bellowed when she realized who it was.
Eternal Shadow scrambled off of her and sat back, wiping tears from her eyes as she did. "I'm sorry, darling. I guess I overreacted. But I was so worried about you and your brother."
"Well go maul Alex then!" Katie snapped. "Jeez! And people say I'm high-strung!"
Her mother waved a hand at her. "I said I was sorry. But what happened to you? Your face is covered in blood!"
"It's a long story," Katie muttered as she looked over to where DJ was now being smothered by Serenity as she exclaimed over the holes and the amount of blood on his shirt.
"It's also one that we don't have time to get into right now," Alex said as helped his mother up and gave her a hug before holding out a hand to Katie.
"That's right," DJ agreed as he detangled himself from Serenity. "Discord has joined his forces right outside the city and he is preparing to attack. We've got to go try and cut him off." He looked to his sister. "Are you able to fight?"
Rini nodded. "We're all ready for round two. Now let's go kick some ass!"
Before any of them could move, the ground beneath them began to quake and it grew significantly darker. Looking up, everyone could see the dark cloud that was Discord through the silver shield as he hovered in the sky above the city.
"Oh, Princess Melody, where are you?" his voice crooned eerily. "Come out and play, little one. I don't want much, just your life and your crystal. I promise I'll make your death quick if you give yourself up. You won't even be alone in the afterlife for long, because I'll be sending all of your friends and family to join you shortly. Of course, you already have people waiting for you there. Wouldn't you like to see your parents again?"
"That bastard!" Sailor Shadow snarled. Her hands were clenched into fists at her side as tendrils of blue energy began to unravel and crackle around her.
"Just calm down, Jess," Andrew tried to soothe her as he put his hands on her shoulders, ignoring the little tingles and zaps he got for his trouble.
"Girl, don't make me knock you out! And I will if you don't get your head out of your ass and back in the game!" Eternal Shadow snapped at her past self. "We've got work to do, and we don't have time for any melodramatic bullshit!"
"You're one to talk! You should take a look in a mirror and see how much your eyes are glowing right now!" Shadow fired back. But she took a few steadying breaths to calm down.
Just then, a large blast of dark energy flew from Discord and slammed into the silver barrier with a loud boom. It was followed a second later by a smaller explosion as the security crystal exploded into a thousand tiny pieces, blasting Serena backward several yards. She hit the ground and rolled a few times, her gown fading back into her fuku.
"Serena!" Darien yelled as he spun around and ran to her side to check on her.
"We've got to move! Now!" DJ demanded to the others in his group.
In just a few seconds, Rini, Emma, Skye, Jayden, and Hannah had transformed and reformed their circle. Then they all disappeared in a flash.
"I was hoping that something would change this time, but not like this," Drew was muttering to himself.
Andrew overheard him and asked, "Discord didn't attack like this when you were in my place."
The older version of himself shook his head. "Not on his own, not directly. The last time I lived this battle his forces eventually wore down our defenses and got inside the city. But he never made it that far. He was defeated outside the city."
"He hasn't actually come in yet. There's still time for things to turn around," Sailor Shadow argued.
Eternal Shadow looked at the confusion around them. The ground was still shaking from Discord's power, making the spectators still watching from the distance stumble and fall to the ground. Serenity and Endymion seemed to be debating their next move between themselves. Darien had reached Sailor Moon and was helping her to sit up. She was conscious, but appeared to be tired and extremely shaken.
"This is bad," she murmured under her breath.
It was about that time that Discord decided to speak again. "If you won't come out here to me, princess, then I'll just have to come in after you myself!" he roared as his mist-like body began to drift down toward the city.
Eternal Shadow didn't think twice as she grabbed her younger self by the arm and took off running as she pulled her behind her. "Come on! We've got to get out of sight! Now!"
"What the hell are you doing?" Shadow protested, tugging back against her. "I'm not running away from this fight! I don't care if that son of a bitch is looking for one or both of us."
"Just trust me," Eternal Shadow told her. "I have a plan. But if we stay here both us and the planet are done for!"
"Fine!" Shadow agreed after a moment, her exasperated breath ruffling the dark blonde bangs that fell over the tiara on her forehead. "But whatever you have planned better be good."
Eternal Shadow grinned at her as they began running side by side. "I just hope that you've paid attention to all of those shield training sessions you've been having with Kyrian lately. You're going to need it."
Suddenly Shadow felt a deep camaraderie with the woman she would hopefully one day become. "I take it that whatever you've got ticking in your head is pretty big."
Her future self nodded. "Huge. Just remember the dreams I sent you and what Pluto showed you when you talked with her at the time gate."
Shadow thought back to the dreams of Crystal Tokyo being overrun by monsters and the people she loved being stuck down one by one. Then she remembered the vision that she had seen in the time stream of she and her future self fighting together before bright blue light swallowed up everything.
"We're going to save the city," she whispered.
"We're going to try," Eternal Shadow confirmed. "I won't lie to you. What we are going to attempt is very dangerous, and I don't know for sure how it will turn out, but I can't do it without you. It will take both of us. So will you help me?"
Well, nobody had ever been able to accuse Jessica Alexander of being a coward. Sailor Shadow jerked her head in a firm nod and smiled widely. "I'm in. Now let's go kick some ass!"
Both women hit the shadows cast by the looming palace and vanished.
"What the hell happened?" Zoicite yelled as he jumped out of the path of a charging guardian that was quite a few feet taller than he was. As it lunged past him he leapt into the air and spun, swinging his sword around to connect with the giant's neck. The sharp edge of the blade sliced through skin and bone like a hot knife through butter, severing the monster's head from its body. But instead of spewing blood like one would think, a thick, oily looking smoke poured out of the decapitated body before both it and its head exploded into choking, foul smelling dust.
Zoi, coughing from the dust of his own kill, a sentinel that had looked to be a hyena crossed with a porcupine on steroids, shook his head as he blinked his stinging eyes. "If I had to make a guess, I'd say that Discord's last attack knocked out Serena's barrier."
"You would be correct," Mercury replied from where she was standing behind her future self as she studied her computer screen. "Serena was holding her own until that demon directly attacked her energy. Now the city is wide open to the enemy."
"And the creeps are taking full advantage of it!" Eternal Mercury growled. Her eyes narrowed as a half dozen assorted guardians and sentinels pushed their way through the gate they had been watching.
"Let's see how well they do on a slick surface," she muttered under her breath as she made a sweeping motion with her arm. An instant later the ground beneath the enemy had transformed into a solid sheet of slippery ice, causing all of them to slide around before they crashed to the ground.
"Slick trick." Mercury giggled at her unintentional pun. Then she tucked her computer away and pointed her hands at the monsters. "Ice Bubbles Freeze!"
Thousands of misty, icy cold bubbles appeared, wrapping around the guardians and sentinels as they writhed on the ground in an attempt to reclaim their feet. In seconds they were all frozen solid.
Mercury dusted her hands together and then nodded to the two men. "Would you gentlemen like to do the honors?"
"Absolutely!" Zoicite answered her with a grin. In less than ten seconds he and his future self had dispatched the frozen, statue-like creatures.
The four warriors barely had a chance to draw a breath before three times as many enemies came pouring through the gate. They shared a brief look between them before they blurred into action. The air in the area suddenly dropped to below freezing and the ice was flying as the battle inside the city began for real.
"Watch the hair, would ya! Mina just trimmed my ends last week, so I'm not due for another for a while!" Eternal Mars scowled as a crackle of lightning blew by her, closer than she liked.
Eternal Jupiter smirked at her as her attack electrocuted a sentinel that looked a lot like the picture of a saber-tooth tiger that had been in one of her history books back in middle school. It snarled before it exploded into dust. "Sorry! Next time I'll just let the big bad kitty eat you if your hair is more important than staying alive."
"You're such a bitch, sometimes," Eternal Mars muttered. But a grin twitched her lips.
"Look who's talking," her auburn haired friend shot back at her playfully. "But you know our motto. Us bitches have got to stick together."
"So true," the fire priestess agreed.
"How come Lita can get away with calling you a bitch? If I did that I would find myself sleeping alone for a year," Jed grumbled as he ran by, with his flaming sword blazing.
"More like a decade, at least," his wife replied in a fake, sweet voice.
"Heads up! More coming in!" Neph warned them as he gestured to the newly blasted open gate that they had been guarding where a fresh batch of enemies were beginning to stream in. He arched a brow at his wife. "It's time to show how badass you can be, Sparky. You are supposed to be a big bad sailor scout after all."
"I'll show him badass!" Eternal Jupiter grumbled. "Let's see how he likes it when I break badass all over him."
Eternal Mars nodded. "How in the hell did we wind up getting married to them again?"
The green suited scout shrugged. "Because we actually love the dorks. Or maybe we're just masochistic. Hell! I don't know!" Then she glanced uneasily toward the center of the city and the dark cloud that hung over the Crystal Palace. "Do you think everything is okay back there?"
The raven-haired woman closed her eyes for a moment. "To be perfectly honest, I don't know for sure. Everyone's auras are still showing up, except for the two Jess's. But I figure they must be trying to distract Discord with a game of cat and mouse to buy some time for the kids. They must have run into a hiccup or something because they were all back inside the city until just a few minutes ago. Serenity is tired, but she's not out of the game by a long shot. And Serena took the brunt of Discord's attack, but she'll be okay."
"Well, I guess that's good," Eternal Jupiter replied, tapping one of her feet impatiently. "We knew that this fight could be unpredictable. At least everybody is still alive."
"Yeah, but things could turn ugly really quick," Eternal Mars sighed. Then she fully faced their current threat, which included a couple of elephant-sized sentinels that were built like tanks.
"Ew!" Jed snarled. "Who left the research lab doors open so these rejects could escape?"
Neph wrinkled his nose in agreement. "And they still smell as bad as I remember from when we faced them years ago."
"I knew we should have brought clothespins for our noses," Eternal Mars sighed, but her fire flickered to life in her hands.
"Oh great," Eternal Jupiter grumbled. "This is about to get ugly. And I'm not talking about the husband forgetting to put the toilet seat down kind of ugly. I mean a frat party running out of beer kind of ugly."
"Boy! Don't you ever even think of kissing me with that mouth ever again!" Sailor Mars snapped as Jadeite paused for breath, stopping the string of profanity that had been spewing past his lips.
The blonde man looked slightly sheepish, but completely unapologetic, although he did reply, "Sorry, Firefly. I guess I just lost my temper for a moment when that sentinel launched that sneak attack."
He brushed some of the rancid smelling dust from his kill off the sleeve of his light gray uniform and twisted around awkwardly, trying to see behind him. "That damn thing didn't mess me up too much when it knocked me down, did it?"
Nephrite chuckled evilly as he pulled his sword out of the chest of a rapidly disintegrating, at least twelve foot tall guardian on the ground and jumped back to avoid the flying dust. "You know, if it weren't for the fact that I've known you for what feels like a million years, and I am secure in the knowledge that you are strictly heterosexual, I would seriously think that you were batting for the other team after that statement."
"Shut the hell up!" Jadeite snarled. "I just wanted to make sure my pants didn't develop an ass-flap after hitting the ground like that."
"What's wrong, scared someone might catch a glimpse of your undies?" Jupiter teased as she jumped out of the tree that she had been perched in while launching her lightning attacks.
"Good one, babe!" Nephrite crowed as he slapped his fiancée a high five.
Jadeite turned a pleading look on Mars. "Help me out a little here, sweetheart. Now my pride is as bruised as my butt."
Mars sniffed haughtily. "You'll heal." Then her expression turned more sympathetic. "But you did hit the ground pretty hard after that cowardly sentinel pulled that cheap shot on you."
He sniffled dramatically. "I know. But at least I managed to take it out before it bit or scratched me. Forget sentinel poisoning! I bet that mangy mutt had rabies!"
Mars felt like her insides had turned into melted chocolate as she looked at his pouting little boy face. It was really ridiculous how childish he could act sometimes. But that was one of the things she adored about him.
"Aw, poor baby," she cooed as she let her fingers play with his golden curls for a moment.
He gave a long-suffering sigh. "I know. It makes me wish that I'd had some extra padding before I took that fall." Then he shot her a wicked grin before leaning down to whisper in her ear, "But I know how much it turns you on when I go commando."
She reared back, her face feeling like it had burst into flames, as screeched, "You PERVERT!"
"Do you think he'll ever change?" Nephrite groaned.
"For Raye's sake I hope not," Jupiter snickered. Then she raised her voice. "Okay! Break it up, lovebirds! The next round of the storm is about to roll in and we need to batten down the hatches. We let way too many of those bastards get past us in that last wave."
Mars tossed her dark hair over her shoulder. "So a few of them got by. At least it will give Amara and the others something to do so that she can't accuse us of hogging all the fun."
"Knowing that she-male, she'll find something to bitch about anyway," Jadeite quipped as he held out his sword, ready to face the incoming herd that was both scrambling though the destroyed gate and climbing over the walls around the city.
"Oh boy! Here we go again," Mars muttered as her flaming bow and arrow appeared in her hand and she pointed it at the growling horde. But she took a moment to glance worriedly over her shoulder toward the palace where Discord was floating above it. She wanted badly to run back there to check that everyone was okay, but she had promised to hold her position until ordered otherwise.
'Damn it, Serena! You better be all right!' she thought furiously as she fired off a shot.
"You are blind!" Talon growled at the two guardians as he used his magic to cast an illusion of darkness over the creatures. At first he didn't think it was going to work, but then he felt Kyrian's power merge with his to give it a boost. The two humongous, powerfully built males' eyes went blank as they began stumbling around with their hands out in front of them.
Talon sprang into action, using his sword to pierce the heart of the one closest to him and turning it to dust before whirling to confront the other. It disintegrated before he reached it, revealing Evan with his dust covered sword in hand.
His brother-in-law and best friend looked extremely repulsed. "Ugh! And I used to think the youmas we had around in our old base were nasty. These guys are ten times worse. Good thinking though with taking their sight. They never knew what hit them."
Talon sighed tiredly. "I just wish it worked on the sentinels as well. Unfortunately, my illusion power only works on human-like minds."
"That's not necessarily a bad thing," Evan told him. "You and Kyrian are both already looking beat from the magic you've already used. I hate to see what you would be like if you'd tried to bewitch every creature that has made it past this wall. I know I'm feeling the drain from just what little bit I've used. I tried hooking up with Julian's energy some, but I didn't want to wear him out. He's not as used to this level of magical fighting as we are."
"Nah! He'd rather hack things to pieces," Talon said fondly as he watched his second oldest son cleanly sever the head off a giant gorilla shaped sentinel and let out a huge 'whoop' of satisfaction. "Maybe it wasn't such a good idea for you to give him that sword for his thirteenth birthday after all."
Evan brushed him off. "Oh come on! Both of us had been handling a sword for years by that age. And that sword in particular is probably some of my best craftsmanship."
Talon smirked. "You say that about every sword you make."
"Just speaking the truth," Evan joked back. "I've never heard you complain about yours."
Talon held his sword up and studied it for a moment, admiring the ancient engravings etched into the slender blade and the hilt that fit perfectly inside his hand. "Nope! And you never will. This sword has served me faithfully for two thousand years and never let me down once."
Evan glanced up uneasily at the sky that was rapidly darkening as Discord spread out. "So, what do you think about this development?"
Talon shrugged stiffly. "I wish the bastard would come after me. It would make me feel better if he were further away from Anya and the kids. And I know he still hates me for screwing him over. I'm just going to have to trust the others to keep them safe."
"Are you two old men going to stand around jabbering, or are you going to help us with our little pest problem?" Kyrian snapped at them as what at one time might have been a wolf or a canine of some sort, before it had fallen prey to Discord's experiments, charged at him. He jumped up into the air and then came down on its back, careful to avoid the poisonous spikes sticking out of it, and plunged his sword deep between its shoulder blades. The creature howled before crumbling beneath him.
Talon gave his eldest son a sardonic look. "Looks like you've got everything under control. I didn't think you needed my help."
Kyrian shot him an ancient rude hand gesture that roughly translated into what he thought his father could go and do with certain parts of his anatomy.
"Did you teach him that one?" Talon asked the man next to him.
"I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about," Evan answered in a voice that didn't quite hide his amusement.
"If Anya ever finds out, I'm blaming you," Talon warned him.
Evan just grinned. "And how would that be different than any other time? You've been pinning things on me that weren't my fault for centuries, and I've come to never expect anything different."
"I guess we should give the younger ones a hand," Talon chuckled. Then he sighed. "Do you think we're getting too old for this stuff?"
Thanks to the heredity of their magically gifted bloodline, neither man appeared to be any older than their mid-twenties. But in reality they were both over 2,000 years old. A thousand of those years had been spent in a deep sleep while the Earth had been frozen over, but unlike the king, queen, and most of their court, they had not been reincarnated after the fall of the Silver Millennium and had lived the thousand years between their lives.
Evan smirked. "Are you joking? You're only as old as you feel. And today I feel like I'm seventeen again."
Talon rolled his eyes. "Oh for the love of…You spend one night with a woman and it turns you into a giddy fool. It's almost enough to make me wish that you would go back to being a hermit. I never thought that getting laid would have this kind of an effect on you."
"Quit talking like a decrepit old man and let's get back to work," Evan chuckled.
"Are you happy now?" Neptune asked as she watched Uranus cut down a guardian with a sweep of her space sword.
An exuberant grin lit up her partner's face. "You better believe it! I was afraid for a while that the others would hog all the action. I'm glad to see that they weren't able to stop them all from slipping past them."
"You and me both!" an almost identical, shorthaired blonde exclaimed as she whizzed by in a blur.
"Hey! No fair!" Uranus exclaimed in exasperation. "The fountain in the middle of the medical complex is supposed to be our boundary line. Get back into your own area!"
Eternal Uranus laughed but never broke her stride. "No can do! I chased a guardian over here from my side, so that means he's still my target."
"I think we have bigger things to worry about than who takes out what bad guy," Saturn muttered grumpily. "In case none of you have noticed, the city is no longer shielded, enemies are coming in from all directions, and the biggest baddie of all is hovering directly over the palace."
"I know I'm not happy about it," Eternal Saturn growled as she and Eternal Neptune joined the group. Her normally calm expression was tense and her gloved fingers were clenched tightly around the staff of her scythe.
Eternal Neptune patted her shoulder gently. "I'm sure Sammy and Kenny are just fine, sweetheart. There are plenty of people at the palace to help keep them safe. And though Sammy may not possess any planetary powers, he's quite a formidable fighter himself. He may not be able to take out a guardian or a sentinel, but I'm sure he could distract one long enough for someone else to get to it."
Eternal Saturn rolled her eyes. "No offense, but that doesn't exactly make me feel much better. My hubby may be a black belt in three different kinds of martial arts, but he's also hotheaded. He's more liable to get himself hurt rather than actually do any damage to one of the enemy."
"I completely agree," Saturn seconded. "The one and only time he tried to go up against a youma because he was trying to help me he ended up getting his head bashed in. And when I fussed at him about it later he just looked at me funny and said that there was no way that he could stand over to the side and let me do all of the fighting alone."
Uranus snorted. "Men! They always think that they know what's best for women. That's one reason why I don't bother wasting my time with them."
"Amen," Eternal Uranus agreed. Then she let out a whoop of glee. "Ah ha! There's the little bitch that I was chasing. World Shaking!"
The golden glow of her attack built in her hand, and then exploded into light as she slammed it into the ground where it began speeding toward a female guardian who had appeared at the edge of the plaza they were gathered in.
The guardian was skinny and extremely tall, probably pushing close to eight feet, and her tangled brown hair and blazing red eyes gave her a wild look as she let out a snarl. She dodged the attack and began closing in on them with superhuman speed, but she was unprepared for the double attack of both Sailor Uranus's that followed only seconds later. At such a close range, she had no time to evade the attack and was vaporized into dust.
"Well that takes care of that!" Uranus crowed smugly.
Eternal Neptune glanced around before looking questioningly at the younger scouts. "Where is Trista? Wasn't she with you?"
Neptune nodded. "She was until a few minutes ago, but then she left."
"Yeah. She said she had something important to check on," Saturn drawled as she rolled her eyes. "It's always something important with her."
Pluto suddenly appeared behind her in her usual burst of pink smoke and smirked at her adopted daughter. "I'll keep your opinion of my job in mind the next time I'm checking on your future to make sure things are going as they should."
"She didn't mean it like that," Eternal Saturn immediately protested.
Eternal Uranus interrupted before a squabble could break out. "So, is all well at the time gate, Trista?"
Pluto nodded. "As well as can be expected under the circumstances. I was just making sure that some things that I borrowed from another time made it back to where they belonged. I also took the opportunity to check the time stream while I was there. I will tell you that things are still looking in our favor, but there are still a few different scenarios that can play out. The most important thing right now is that we need to prepare ourselves to do battle, because we are about to be overrun with enemies. Discord's forces are stampeding the walls, and it's too much for the others to handle on their own."
Uranus's eyes gleamed at the prospect of battle. "Well, let's get ourselves ready to face the storm."
No sooner had the words left her than all hell broke loose and guardians and sentinels descended on them from all directions.
"Love and Beauty Shock!" Eternal Venus yelled as she hit a guardian with a flurry of golden hearts. The giant of a man with his blazing red eyes had barely begun to wither away when she heard a scuffling sound behind her and she whirled around.
A short screech tore past her vocal chords when she saw the sentinel leaping toward her. It looked as though it might a jackal or a hyena, but the mutation that it had gone through made it almost impossible to tell. It was covered in the poisonous spikes that were trademark for all sentinels…and it was also roughly the size of a Clydesdale horse.
She stumbled back a few steps, raising a hand in front of her in preparation for firing off a Crescent Beam. It was her weakest attack, but it was the quickest one she could summon, and she needed to act fast. While the attack wouldn't kill the sentinel, if would hopefully distract it long enough for her to get into a better position to destroy it.
Just then, her foot slipped into a hole on the ground and she went tumbling backward. She sat down hard, the impact jarring through her and making her lose focus on her attacker. Knowing she had no time to defend herself, she threw up her arms and sucked in a quick breath, preparing to scream bloody murder. There was no way that she was going to go down quietly.
Suddenly, quicker than a deadly cobra strike, a long chain made of jewels and golden hearts wrapped itself around the monster several times and jerked it to a halt. A second later a purple energy blade burst from its chest and it exploded into a cloud of dust, revealing the two people behind it.
"Ew! That stinks!" Venus complained as she waved her hand in front of her face and scrunched her nose up. "Are those things even made out of anything that resembles a flesh and blood animal?"
"They smell because of the foul energy they've been infused with," Kunzite replied as he stepped over the pile of dust and offered a hand up to Eternal Venus.
"Thanks," she murmured as she accepted his help.
Kunz descended on them a moment later and pulled his wife into a bone-crushing embrace. "God, Mina! Are you okay? You scared me to death! I was wrapped up with a guardian and I knew there was no way I could make it to you in time."
"I'm fine," she grumbled into his chest. "I'm more mad than anything. Who would have ever thought that the leader of the guardian scouts would get defeated by a simple hole in the ground? Not to mention that I'm just a bit sore." She ran a hand over her aching backside.
"Tell me about it," Venus groaned, rotating her shoulders gingerly. "That zoo reject pulled my chain so hard that I thought my arms were going to get yanked out of socket. For a second there I thought I wouldn't be able to hold on."
"You did good though," Kunzite told her proudly. "Maybe later, when all of this is over, I'll treat you to a massage."
"Hmph!" she huffed indignantly. "There's no maybe about it. That had better be a promise. I think I've earned a backrub after what we've through today."
"I just can't believe how many of the creatures have made it to the middle of the city," Kunz sighed with a shake of his head. "This is different than before. Last time the majority of Discord's forces were kept mostly at the borders of the city. A few managed to squeak by, but nothing like this."
"We didn't have that to worry about either," Eternal Venus growled as she jerked her chin upwards to where Discord filled the sky above him. "I don't mind saying that this is making me really nervous. I just hope that Jess had the good sense to pull a disappearing act and take her past self with her when he showed up."
Venus nodded. "I'm sure she did. Discord would have started blasting the place to pieces by now if she was visible. I don't like the idea of Serena and Darien being in such a vulnerable position though; even if they do have the king and queen there to help them."
"I don't like it either," Eternal Venus agreed. "It's taking everything I have to keep from running back inside the palace grounds to go check on all of them."
Kunz put a comforting arm around her. "We promised to hold our positions unless told otherwise. We are the only defense against keeping those monsters from getting inside the palace walls."
"I'm worried about the others holding the perimeter," Kunzite murmured. "They must be completely overrun for this many of the enemy to be able to get this far. They may be fighting a losing battle."
Just then, the communicator on Eternal Venus's wrist crackled to life and Neo Queen Serenity's voice spoke. "Listen up everybody. There has been a change of plan. I want all inner scouts and generals to begin falling back and return to the palace as quickly as possible."
Eternal Venus's eyes widened. "What! Are you serious?"
"I'm dead serious," Serenity answered.
Eternal Mars's voice flared over the line, "Did you hit your head or something, Meatball Head? Because you are talking crazy."
The queen sighed. "Don't argue with me on this, Raye. I know this isn't what we planned, but the situation has changed. There is no way that we can stop Discord's forces from coming into the city. The best we can hope for now is to pool all of our powers together to try and protect the palace grounds and everyone inside until the kids take down Discord himself. I hate leaving the city to their mercy, and I hope that any civilians who stayed behind have since escaped, but we can fix the damage later. Until then we are going to have to stand together in order to fight this. I do ask that the outer scouts remain in the medical district to protect the people there."
"Not a problem, Kitten," Eternal Uranus replied immediately. "If things get too hairy down here we'll channel our energies into shielding the hospitals for as long as we can."
"This is insane!" Venus growled. "Is anyone else finding this just as cuckoo as I am?"
"Mina!" Sailor Moon's voice shot from her communicator. She sounded tired and worn out, but there was steel in her tone that was rarely ever heard. "Usually I value everyone's opinions and welcome the chance to hear them, but not this time. For once I need you to do what I say without questioning it. Regroup with the others and fall back. Please."
Venus swallowed the protest that had automatically risen to her lips. She had sworn her allegiance to Serena in two different lifetimes, and as her princess and future queen, she knew that Serena could simply order her to do as she said. The fact that she chose to ask for her friends' cooperation instead of demanding, even in such a perilous situation, spoke more than any words.
"Fine," she grumbled in response to the woman who was more like a sister to her than a princess. "I just hope you know what you're doing."
Sailor Moon let out a shaky laugh. "To be honest, I don't. This is all Serenity's idea."
"What!" the queen's voice squawked. "It's not all my idea. I just said that I thought it was a good idea to rethink our strategy since things have turned out somewhat different than we expected. You agreed with me and even put in a few ideas of your own. So how does that make it all of my doing?"
"Oh, for Aphrodite's sake!" Venus exclaimed. "I was just making a comment. I didn't mean to start World War III between you two. Jeez!"
"It doesn't matter," Eternal Venus said with a roll of her eyes. Then she spoke into her communicator. "Okay everybody! You heard the what's up. Everyone except the outer scouts begin falling back to the palace. Get here as quickly as you can, but at the same time be safe. We don't want any accidents if we can keep from it."
"What are we doing here?" Sailor Shadow hissed to her future self as they lurked in the shadows of an alley about a block away from the Starlight Tower.
Eternal Shadow shrugged. "We need a spot that's high up and near the center of the city. Of course the palace is at the exact center and is easily the tallest building around, but we can't do what we are going to attempt to do there for obvious reasons."
The younger scout didn't appear impressed. "And what exactly is it that we are going to attempt to do?"
The older woman peeked quickly around the corner of the alley and grimaced at the fairly large group of guardians and sentinels that were currently enjoying themselves by demolishing the nearby shops and businesses. "First thing's first. We need to find a way to try to get past that crew without being seen."
Shadow snuck a quick look around the corner as well and curled her lip. "Yeah, there are a lot of them, but I bet together we can take them. So even if they see us it shouldn't be that big of a deal."
"Stop and think about it for a moment," Eternal Shadow growled in exasperation. "If we start blasting those guys it's going to alert every scumbag of Discord's within at least a twenty block radius to where we are and bring them down on us as well. Not to mention the fact that we have the Head Asshole In Charge combing the city for us as we speak."
Shadow shivered as she glanced up to where the cloud that was Discord had descended to where he was barely hovering over the rooftops of the city, even obscuring the upper floors of some of the taller buildings.
"Okay, you have a point," she admitted, and then let out another involuntary shudder as long tendrils of mist left Discord and floated down into the streets. "He's trying to flush us out."
"I know," her future counterpart grumbled. "And he's going to find us if we stay here much longer. The kids should be making a move against him soon, I hope. It would really help us out if they got his attention for a few minutes."
Movement at the opposite end of the alley caught Shadow's eye, and she jerked her head around, cursing in a harsh whisper as she saw the vapor that was creeping toward them, "Shit! He's got us trapped like rats!"
Eternal Shadow muttered a few explicit phrases herself before giving a hard shake of her head. "We're going to have to make a run for it. I know he can sense our energy and can tell that we are nearby, but if that mist touches us he will be able to pinpoint our exact location. And if it comes down to a fight between us and him, it won't end pretty."
"Armageddon," Shadow murmured under her breath.
"Our only other choice would be to give up to him. And you and I both know that we just don't have it in us to do that," Eternal Shadow answered. "Either way we go, the planet would be destroyed, either by us or him. Personally, I prefer the outcome where we all live to see tomorrow."
Shadow nodded in agreement. "You and me both. So what do you suggest we do to get out of our little problem here?"
"Melodyyy…" Discord's voice crooned eerily from the encroaching fog. "Come out, come out, wherever you are, princess. You have to know that you can't hide from me forever. All you are doing is prolonging the inevitable. If you give yourself up to me I will destroy this pitiful planet quickly, giving you and your loved ones a speedy and painless death. But if you continue this little game I'm afraid that I will have no choice except to allow my pets to make lunch out of all of the poor souls currently ensconced inside the palace. I do believe your soul mate is there as well, isn't he? I bet he would make an enticing little solarian morsel."
"Over my dead body!" Shadow snarled quietly.
Eternal Shadow felt exactly the same. She had already seen Andrew murdered in front of her twice in two lifetimes, and definitely didn't want a repeat of that experience. She knew that the bond between her past self and Andrew's was incredibly strong, but the ties between her and her husband were stronger still. He was her lover, the father of her children, and the one person that she felt knew her better than she knew herself. He was her rock, and she was his. They were partners in life in every sense of the word. And she would lay down her own life before she would let something happen to him.
She bit back her own angry tirade as she quickly scanned about for a safe avenue of escape. After a moment, she thought she found one. "Do you see that dumpster in the alley across the street and half a block up?" she asked her companion. "It's pretty dark there and should give us plenty of shadows to work with to keep us under cover."
Shadow nodded. "I see it. But that is a lot of open area for us to cross. I thought we were trying to stay off the radar."
"We are," Eternal Shadow replied grimly. "But it's obvious that we can't stay here. Luckily, we're fast. Even Uranus has never managed to beat us in a race. When I say go, haul ass as fast as you can to that alley. With any luck, even if the guardians and sentinels see us, all they'll see is a quick blur and won't realize it's us. From over there I think we can get to the rooftops and make it the rest of the way to the tower without being spotted."
Shadow quirked a grin at her. "Here's to luck then. We need all of it we can get."
Just then, the distant sky outside the city lit up brightly with gold, silver, and red orange.
A triumphant smirk appeared on Eternal Shadow's face when she saw the mist that had been creeping toward them fall still. "That was just what we needed. And not a moment too soon."
Discord's voice began hissing from the tendril of fog again. "Ssooo…those irritating children survived and managed to pull themselves out of my trap. Now they are trying to lure me from the city as well. I will soon deal with them once and for all, but not until I get what I seek. The Celestial Crystal will be mine."
His disembodied form began moving once again, and Eternal Shadow took a quick peek to see how clear their path was. Luckily, the light show had grabbed the attention of the sentinels and guardians, and they all had their backs turned as they stared at the sky in wonder.
"Now! Go now!" she whispered shrilly to her younger self, giving her a bit of a nudge before dashing from the alley toward their new hiding spot at a speed that reduced everything to a blur.
Shadow lunged after her, only a half step behind and moving just as fast, until she felt something that froze every muscle in her body. She skidded to a stop in plain sight in the middle of the street. Her eyes were wide and full of fear as she turned them in the direction of the palace.
"What are you doing? Are you insane?" Eternal Shadow whisper-screamed at her from the dark spot behind the dumpster that had been their target. After a few seconds she snorted in disgust and ran back to her.
"Move your ass! And move it now!" she snarled at Shadow as she grabbed her firmly by the arm and began dragging her toward the alley.
Shadow swallowed hard and tried to push past the blood pounding adrenaline that wasn't hers that was rushing through her veins so that she could form a coherent thought. "The palace is under attack! Drew is fighting!"
Eternal Shadow rolled her eyes at her. "I know. Don't forget that I have a bond with my husband and that he's back there as well. But if we don't get out of sight we're going to find ourselves in a bigger fight than the one they are facing at the palace. I know it's hard, but you're going to have to put Drew out of your mind for now and trust that he and the others can take care of themselves. If what we do is successful, then we'll end that fight."
Shadow let out a strangled sound that could have been a protest, but allowed herself to be pulled forward into the concealing darkness. "I'm sorry. I know I shouldn't get so bent out of shape. Drew is a great fighter. But I'm always so scared that I'm going to lose him. I know I could never live with that."
"Preaching to the choir here," Eternal Shadow tried to joke, but her eyes were deadly serious. "Look, I'm not going to bullshit you and tell you that particular fear fades in time, because it doesn't. I've held his lifeless body in my arms twice and felt my soul being ripped to shreds in the process. Both times were because he was protecting me. I don't want to ever have to go through that again. Drew, Alex, and Katie are my world. Sure, I have Serena, Darien, and the others, but they are mine. They give me a sense of completeness that I used to think I would never have. I know you would do anything you have to do to keep them safe, the same as I would. And that's why I need your help. But I need you to be with me one hundred percent. Okay?"
Shadow sucked in a deep breath. "Okay. I'm with you. So what's our next move?"
Something large moved at the opening to the alley, and they both scrambled back farther into the darkness, pressing their backs against the wall and using their powers to pull the shadows in tightly around them.
A huge, hulking beast that vaguely resembled a man, or would if it weren't for the blazing red eyes and the fact that he stood fifteen or sixteen feet tall, glided into the alley. He moved quite gracefully in spite of his size. His gleaming, venomous fangs were bared and his nose quivered as he sniffed the air around him.
His voice was hardly more than a growl. "I know I saw something come this way. Even now I can smell someone. I can also feel the shimmer of magic in the air. If someone is hiding here I will find them. Maybe it will be someone important and my master will be pleased."
"He's going to find us," Shadow breathed to her companion, her voice barely audible. "Discord has given him the ability to sense magic."
"We can't blast him," Eternal Shadow said in the same, almost nonexistent tone. "If we do it will bring the others running."
Shadow shrugged. "So we double team him and take him down the old fashioned way. It wouldn't be the first time I beat the crap out of somebody. Sure, he's big, but there are two of us."
Eternal Shadow smirked. "I like the way you think. So do you want top or bottom?"
"Definitely top," Shadow practically purred, her eyes gleaming with the light of battle, even in the gloom.
"On three then," Eternal Shadow told her. "One…two…"
About that time the giant stepped around the dumpster, his eyes narrowing on the spot where they stood. "What the…"
That was as far as he got before the two women let their powers fade and they both launched themselves at him, taking him completely by surprise.
Eternal Shadow dove at his knees, crashing hard into him and throwing him off balance while Shadow leapt off the ground and clamped her arms tightly around his thick neck, cutting off his airway and keeping him from making any sound as he fell to the ground. She held on tenaciously and kept her grip firm as she rode down with him, keeping his body under hers to absorb the impact.
They had barely landed when a dark blue boot shot into view, delivering a vicious kick to the guardian's temple.
"That's for my family and friends, you bastard!" Eternal Shadow spat as she stood above them.
Shadow released the hold on his neck and sat back far enough to ball up her fist and send it flying into his jaw in a punishing uppercut. His head snapped back with a crack, and then he was still.
"I think he's out for the count," Eternal Shadow snickered. "Nice punch by the way."
Shadow stood up, dusting her hands off on her skirt, and grinned. "Hey, dad didn't raise any dummies. All those hours of sparring in the backyard had to payoff somewhere. So what's next?"
Eternal Shadow looked up to the roof of the building beside them. "Now we see about ruining Discord's day."
"What aren't you telling me?" Andrew growled as he shoved his arm harder against the throat of the man he currently had pinned up against the wall of the palace courtyard.
"Nothing!" Drew sputtered as he took as deep of a breath as he could manage.
"Maybe you should cool off a bit," Darien said calmly as he put a hand on his best friend's shoulder.
Andrew snarled at him. "Back off, Dare, before you get hurt! Jess is missing, and so is her future self. I know this asshole knows something…and he's going to spill everything!"
"I really don't know," Drew choked out.
"Bullshit!" Andrew exclaimed, shaking off Darien's hand and pushing his future self even harder into the stone wall. "You and I are supposed to be the same person and think the same way. And I know that there is no way that you would be acting this calmly unless you knew where Jess was. Now tell me!"
"Andrew, stop!" Sailor Moon screeched as she tried valiantly to squeeze her body in between the two much larger men. "Beating him up isn't going help anything."
"It would make me feel better!" he ground out. But he didn't want to take the chance of hurting Serena, so he released the older version of himself and took a step back.
Drew gasped for a few seconds and rubbed his throat before looking up ruefully at his angry past self. "I really don't know where they are. Jess and I talked about it a little bit beforehand, and she agreed that if Discord made it inside the city that she would take your Jess and use their powers to stay hidden from him."
Andrew stared at him in disbelief. "And you actually bought that? This is Jess we're talking about, the most stubborn and impulsive woman to walk the face of the Earth. You know as well as I do that there is no way that she will just hide away quietly while there is a fight going on. She'll find some way to throw herself right into the middle of it."
"She said she wouldn't," Drew insisted. "She knows that Discord is after her crystal and that she has to keep it away from him. So that means keeping both herself and her past self out of sight and off his radar."
Andrew sighed heavily. "Did you actually get her to promise you that?"
Drew opened his mouth, and then closed it again without a sound. His eyes widened as he replayed the conversation he'd had with his wife in his head.
"That's what I thought," Andrew groaned.
Drew smacked a palm against his forehead. "I can't believe I didn't catch it. I'm usually pretty good at not falling into her little traps when she starts rambling, but she got me this time. She talked in circles around me until I was busy, but she never once promised me that she would keep herself out of trouble."
Andrew arched a brow at him. "And now there are two of her together. So I'm betting that there could be double trouble."
"Maybe not," Serenity said hesitantly, wringing her hands. "Perhaps, for once, she'll be sensible. This is a dangerous situation."
"Yeah right!" Endymion snorted. "Remember who we are talking about here. Trouble is Jess's middle name. And if there is any trouble lurking around you know that she will find herself smack dab in the middle of it."
"Well can't you two track them? You do have a bond," Sailor Moon asked the two blonde men.
Andrew shook his head. "I tried already, but she's blocking me."
Drew nodded. "Same here. I was expecting it though. Jess thought it would be safer that way in case Discord pulled any of his mind whammies. If I could sense where she was then Discord might be able to read that in my head."
Darien huffed a half-hearted chuckle. "And it also prevents you from seeing her if she is up to some mischief."
"Shit!" Drew and Andrew cursed together.
There were two orange blurs, and then both Sailor Venus's were standing with them.
"Heads up, guys! We've got incoming," Venus blurted before she had even come to a full stop.
"How many?" Endymion demanded.
Eternal Venus's expression was grave. "A lot. And none of the others have made it back yet."
"Then we have no choice. We have to fight," Serenity declared. Then she bent down and grasped the white fabric of her skirt in both hands, just above the knee, and pulled hard. The bottom half of the skirt tore away with a ripping sound.
"Serena!" Eternal Venus gasped in horror. "Is it all dresses that you have something against, or just the ones that I make? Because it seems like every time you destroy a dress it happens to be one of mine."
The queen rolled her eyes. "The dress is replaceable, Mina. Human lives are not. The fight is obviously coming to us. And since I can't transform into Sailor Moon anymore, I have to improvise. If things turn physical I won't be able to kick with that long skirt in my way." She looked down at her feet and grinned. "I'm just glad I won the battle against Luna and Nebula this morning and wore flats. They wanted me in stilettos. My balance has gotten better with time, but I don't like to press my luck."
"If I have my way you won't be involved in any hands on fighting," Endymion growled.
Serenity stuck her tongue out at him. "And since when do you ever get your way, darling?"
She plucked the crown from her head and set it gently aside, and then she pulled the hairpins from her "meatballs". Her hair spilled down her back like a golden river of silk, just brushing the ground, but she began quickly gathering it and twisting it up to get it out of her way. She produced a scrunchie that she'd had hidden in a pocket of her dress and wound it around the mass.
Sailor Moon grinned at her as she finished her preparations. "I guess in times like this you miss being able to just hold up a brooch and transform."
Serenity smiled in return. "More than you know. If I had been thinking straight earlier I would have brought the Luna Pen with me."
"That's assuming you remember where you left it the last time you used it," Endymion teased her.
"Don't be a jerk!" she snapped back. "Now I think I should see about getting the people who are still watching us moved back to a safer location." She went over to one of the nearby guards to speak with him. A few moments later he and the other guards began directing the horde of people back toward the palace itself.
"And we should be getting back to the palace grounds' boundary line," Eternal Venus said. "It is quite a large group of enemy forces heading our way, and there are no signs of the other scouts or generals yet. Our best bet is to try to hold them at the outer perimeter and hope that the others make it here before they overrun us."
"Once they do you'll be able to cast your energy to protect the palace the way you did during the Black Moon invasion, won't you?" Sailor Moon asked as she fell into step beside her.
Eternal Venus nodded hesitantly. "Yes. But though it will help, it is not an ideal solution. Once we put up the shield we will be unable to fight. The palace and surrounding grounds will be under complete lockdown, meaning that nothing negative can get in. That also means that if there are any negative forces inside the grounds at the time they will be locked in with us. So there could still be a fight once the barrier is in place."
Sailor Moon summoned her moon tier to her hand and twirled it in her fingers. "Then we'll just have to do all we can to make sure as few of those freaks as possible make it inside."
"Whoa, Serena," Darien told her, taking her elbow by the hand. "Just hold on a minute here. You are still weak from using the crystal. I don't think you should just go jumping into the middle of a fight and start blasting away at everything. It could be dangerous for you."
She growled softly and jerked her arm away from him. "We are so not having this conversation right now. I told you before, I will do everything in my power to help protect this city, and I meant it. I will deal with the consequences to myself later."
"Damn, stubborn woman!" Darien groaned as he watched her walk away. His armor clinked softly as he shifted his weight restlessly.
"Yes she is. But you should know that by now," Endymion commented as he stepped up next to him. "And I'm sure the thoughts going through your dear fiancées head are the same as the ones my wife is having right now. They're upset that our plans have changed so radically. As long as the security grid was in place they could focus all of their energy into blanketing the city. But none of us were prepared for Discord to try a direct assault on the city. And now that the main security crystal is destroyed and Discord and his army are running rampant over the city, they are willing to face it head-on, without a thought to the danger they are putting themselves in."
"So where does that leave us? What do we do?" Darien asked grimly.
Endymion's lips twisted into a kind of half grin. "We do what we've always done. We fight by her side and try to give her all the support we can. But at the same time we watch her like a hawk and be prepared to step in to protect her if we have to…even if it's from herself."
Darien returned the grin ruefully. "I guess that is what we do best."
They all congregated outside the main gate of the palace, ten warriors with determined expressions as they faced down the mob of monsters that were making their way toward the palace. A quick glance over told them that they were outnumbered three to one, but they didn't waver.
A few of the guardians paused for a second at the unexpected show of force. But after studying Neo Queen Serenity, King Endymion, Sailor Moon, Prince Endymion, Eternal Venus, Kunz, Venus, Kunzite, Drew, and Andrew for a moment, they shrugged and continued forward.
"Ah, hell! Jess is going to be pissed that she missed this," Andrew snorted. A bronze glow surrounded him as he powered up to his full solarian form, the gleaming bronze armor and the sweeping copper cape with its dark blue lining taking the place of his black pants, shirt, and long leather duster.
For just a second as he transformed, he felt a spark in his connection with Jess. In it he felt her anxiety and fear for him. He tried to grasp hold of it to let her know that he was okay and to check on her as well. But just as quickly as it had appeared, it was gone.
But he didn't have any more time to think about it as the horde of demons descended on them. He jumped in full force along with the others, slashing with his sword in one hand while shooting energy blasts with the other.
Time slowed to a crawl for all of them, making it impossible to gauge how long they had been fighting. It could have been five minutes or five hours. All Serenity knew was that she felt like she had been fighting for days. She had already been weak from using the Silver Crystal earlier, but now she felt positively drained. Her muscles shook from fatigue that only grew worse after every attack she launched.
She had summoned her tall scepter to help her direct her powers, as had Endymion. They had been fighting back to back since the battle had started, never straying more than a couple of yards away from each other. But a minute ago a lion sentinel had lunged for her, and Endymion had pushed her out of the way to confront it himself. She'd lost sight of him in the mob and hadn't seen him since. A quick check with their bond told her that he was okay and searching for her as well.
A flash of orange and a shrill scream had her head snapping around to see that a female guardian had grabbed Venus by the hair and had jerked her to the ground. It grinned maniacally, red eyes glowing hotly, as it opened its mouth to bare its fangs.
Kunzite was several yards away, locked in a battle with two male guardians. He was trying his best to get by them to help his new bride, but they barred his way at every turn. His eyes widened in horror as the demonic female bent over and dove for Venus's neck.
Serenity quickly summoned her flailing energy and prepared to attack the monster herself. Mina was one of her closest friends, and if her past self were killed, her future self would cease to exist. And she couldn't let that happen.
But before she could attack she heard a voice similar to her own scream, "Silver Moon Crystal Power Kiss!" And a bright silver blast of energy hit the guardian with such force that it was instantly vaporized.
And then Sailor Moon was on her knees at Venus's side, looking every bit as exhausted as she felt. Taking out one of these freaks by yourself with one shot was extremely draining, but her younger self was trying valiantly to hide those effects as she checked on her friend to make sure she was okay.
Then she heard a loud boom, followed by the screams of many people, and spun around to look wildly toward the palace. To her horror, several of the beasts they were fighting had made it past them and were now forcing their way into the palace. The regular palace guards were trying their best to stand up to the intruders, but they were merely human with no powers. Several bodies already lay unconscious on the ground.
Serenity felt like screaming. The palace was full of innocent people. Her family, both by blood and by extension, was in there, as was a large part of the population of the city that trusted her to keep them safe.
Rage boiled through her, giving her a shot of adrenaline that reenergized her and set her feet in motion toward the palace. Without thinking about it, she blasted two guardians that got in her way, lashing out with strong enough attacks to reduce them both two a pile of dust in seconds. That should have been enough to bring her to her knees, but she kept going. She didn't care if it meant sacrificing her own life; she had to save the people in the palace.
"Serena!" she heard Endymion, at least she thought it was Endymion, yell in the distance. But she ignored him. He'd probably rake her over the coals for it later, if she survived, but she was determined to protect the palace.
She felt a fissure run through the air and spun around in time to see a massive wolf sentinel leaping through the air toward her. Knowing she didn't have time to even begin to defend herself, she froze.
Then something swirled in front of her. Black and red flashed across her vision along with a glint of silver. And then something slammed into her fairly hard. She felt something that she hadn't felt in a long time, cool metal armor beneath her fingers, as she fell to the ground with the heavier weight on top of her.
Gold light flashed around them as the ground shook under her back.
And then she heard a voice screaming, "Darien! Darien! DARIEN!"
Silver light exploded, swallowing the gold.
And everything went eerily silent.
A/N Yes, I know. The evil cliffhanger strikes again. Sorry! I know that until now the battle has been kind of strewn out over many different places, but that is all about to change. The next chapter should see the end of the battle, but not the end of the story just yet. We still have some weddings to get out of the way. And there may be another twist or two thrown in before Discord's final fate is decided, but I don't want to give anything away. I have a few ideas bouncing in my head that may make it into the final draft before all is said in done. Okay, so Rekindled is my next focus once I get back home, so I'm hoping to post on it sometime during the first part of next week. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for that anyway. So I'm out of here for now. To those of you who are American like me, Happy Belated Turkey Day! And I hope that everyone else is doing great as well! Please drop me those reviews and let me know what you think! Later gators! Lots of love and hugs!
P.S. BTW I know I usually do a Christmas one-shot or short story every year, but this year has flown by so quickly that I haven't really thought about it. I would like to do one though. I'm just having trouble coming up with a concept. So if anyone has any ideas they would like to pass on, please feel free to share them with me. Some of my best ideas have come from you guys!