Disclaimer: I do not own MGLN or Sailor Moon
The White Devil of the Moon
Lunar Heart, Set Up
Beryl smiled triumphantly as she strode through the halls of her palace. She had won. The power she could feel pulsing through the crystals she held in her hand should be sufficient to awaken Metallia. All she had to do was make her way to where her Mistress slept and present the crystals, and her victory would be complete. Within the hour, the Dark Kingdom would be restored to its full strength, and there would be nothing that Serenity could do to stop it.
She had lost all of her Generals, three slain and one subverted, to Serenity's actions, along with many of her youma, but it didn't matter. Soon, her fallen would all be avenged. Soon, Serenity would be destroyed by Metallia's unstoppable might, and the world would be Beryl's. And then, once Beryl had taken the position she so richly deserved as ruler of the world, she would claim Endymion as her consort. Perhaps she would leave Serenity alive long enough to see her take Endymion, to drive her victory home. The Princess's sister claimed that she was no longer interested in her old paramour, but Beryl still thought the assassin was lying about that. After all, if that was true, why had he not returned to her?
Beryl's musings on how to celebrate her imminent victory were interrupted by an alarm - the same alarm that had gone off when Precia had arrived. Someone had found her fortress a second time. Was this another accidental arrival, or had her enemies found her? Ordering a youma that she passed to take a team to identify and if necessary destroy the intruder, Beryl quickened her pace. She was not about to let her rival steal victory from her grasp. Not when she was this close.
The group of Senshi and mages shivered as the wind whipped over the tundra surrounding the fortress they stood outside.
"Any idea where in this place the Jewel Seeds might be?" Hayate asked.
Sailor Mars conjured up a small ball of fire in her hand and looked into it. Then she pointed. "They're in that direction."
"Can you tell if my sister is in there somewhere?" Nanoha asked, her voice tinged with hope.
Mars looked into the fire again, and pointed in a slightly different direction. "She's here, somewhere in that direction. Unfortunately, I can't figure out the layout of this place with my divination."
"Using a search spell to map out the building would take too much time." Fate pointed out.
"We don't have to use a search spell." Nanoha pointed out. "Hino-san, take twenty steps to the left, then locate Miyuki and the Jewel Seeds again."
Mars was uncertain as to the point of her instructions, but she did as she was asked. Nanoha looked over the building as she did so, clearly working something out in her head.
"Okay, now I know exactly where both of them are. Now all we have to do is get to them."
"But without the floor plan, we could easily end up running around in circles trying to get to either of them, much less both." Mercury objected.
"That's why we'll be making our own path." Nanoha raised her staff. "Raising Heart?" She inquired.
"Yes, Master?" The Device responded.
Beryl was approaching a intersection in the corridor when she was knocked to the ground by a massive shockwave. As she picked herself off the floor, pieces of debris fell off of her. Looking behind her, she saw that there was a gaping hole on either side of the corridor she had been walking down that hadn't been there moments before. Peering down one side of the hole, she saw that a roughly circular tunnel had been carved into her palace, running in a straight line from a point just behind where she had been at the time of the attack to some point outside the complex and delving even deeper into the palace in the other direction.
That rather conclusively answered the question of whether or not the intruders were hostile. And given that, there was only one possibility as to who it was. As the rubble settled in the suddenly much wider hallway, Beryl remembered the words that her captive had said during her first interrogation.
You want to know about my sister? Fine. She's got more experience than all of the Senshi combined, and enough power to flatten a city. Some of her friends are even stronger. And you just did something guaranteed to make her mad. Sometime very, very soon, you will learn exactly why Vita dubbed my sister the White Devil, and if you're really lucky, your end will come as quickly as the guy you sent to break my father's arm did.
Beryl felt a cold icicle of fear creep down her spine as she realized exactly how dangerous her rival had become in the millennia since they had last met. Then she smiled as she realized that she had a trump card. Casting a spell to make her voice heard across the palace, she started giving out orders.
"Attention, my servants." She commanded. "We are under attack. I want the unit nearest the prison cells to take Serenity's sister to Metallia's chambers. All others are to repel the intruders."
With her hostage being delivered to her ultimate destination, Beryl resumed her journey. But since she didn't want to expose herself to attack, she took an alternate route, sticking to the side corridors and avoiding the blasted out path as much as possible, hurrying as if a devil was on her heels.
After all, one was.
Nephrite groaned in pain as he slumped across the thin cot in his cell. He had long since lost track of time. The only things that had happened since he had been thrown into the cell were guards occasionally delivering food his Queen visiting so that she could torture him into confessing to his non-existent crimes and revealing things about Serenity and the Senshi that he didn't know.
The emotion he felt was rage. Rage directed at the girl who had so cleverly played him as a patsy. He had honestly thought that he had been using Serenity's sister to get a chance to kill the Moon Princess, but she had been deceiving him all along. She had lured him into a trap that could have killed him. When he escaped the trap and took her prisoner, she nearly assassinated his Queen and framed him as an accomplice. Or had that been her true plan all along?
Gritting his teeth, Nephrite started in on his sole remaining hobby: Coming up with revenge scenarios against Miyuki Takamachi. How should he kill her? Break her neck? No, that would be too quick. He wanted something lingering, something that would make her suffer as much as he had suffered from her treachery. Various forms of torture came up in his mind as he contemplated the best way to get his revenge.
His plotting was interrupted by a crashing sound and a bright pink light. Blinking rapidly to clear the spots from his eyes, Nephrite saw that a massive hole had been blasted through a corner of his cell. Shaking off the dust and debris that had been blown onto him by the blast, he struggled to his feet and looked at the hole. In one direction it went all the way outside. In the other it plunged deep into the heart of the palace.
Nephrite didn't know who had done this and he didn't care. All that mattered was that he could now escape his cell and track down the person responsible for him being locked in it in the first place. He would see Miyuki Takamachi broken and dead before him, and then his Queen would know that he was still her loyal servant.
Staggering out of his cell, Beryl's last General went on the hunt.
Miyuki laid down on the cot, and wondered if today was the day she should try to escape.
The interrogations she had undergone had petered out after her captors apparently came to the reluctant conclusion that pain alone wasn't going to get her to talk (It helped that most of the questions they asked were things she honestly didn't know the answer to). That might change if they came up with some new way of questioning her, but for now she only encountered her jailors twice a day - once when they delivered food, and once when they retrieved the food tray and drained her of energy.
According to her watch, she had half an hour before the second visit of the day. Once that happened, she'd be too exhausted to even try to make a getaway until sometime the next day. Her injuries had recovered enough that she felt that she would be capable of fighting if she had to. The only real question was whether or not circumstances would make an escape attempt have any chance of success. She was fairly certain that she could break out of the cell whenever she wanted to, but she had no clue where in building the cell was located, or where in the world (And possibly even what world) the building was. She was only going to get once chance to escape, so she had to make it count. If only there was some way to know what was going on with her captors. If she had some way of knowing when their guard was down by some factor, she would know when the proper moment to make her escape was.
As if in response to her thoughts, the walls started shaking, and she heard a series of muffled crashes. Something had exploded somewhere in the building. Several somethings.
If there was ever a time to try to escape, it was now. Her captors would be focused on whoever or whatever caused the explosion, and not on a prisoner that they barely spent any attention on even when things were going normally. Retrieving the metal rod she had hidden under the mattress, Miyuki walked to the prison door. Taking a backward stance, she held her weapon above her trailing foot and took a few deep breaths to focus her concentration. Then she took one rapid step forward, transferring her momentum into the door with one powerful thrust.
The rod smashed into the door, which shuddered from the impact. The last time she had used that technique in a fight, she had ripped the door clean off its hinges and knocked out an opponent on the other side. Either she was getting out of shape, or Beryl's building contractor had installed significantly stronger doors. But looking at the door, a spiders-web of cracks now radiated out from the place she had struck it. It might not have been knocked off its hinges, but it was clearly damaged. Miyuki returned to her stance and tried again.
Two strikes later, a large, jagged hole had been punched through the door. It wasn't what she had been hoping for, but the hole was just large enough for her to fit through. Backing to the other side of the room, Miyuki took a few more deep breaths and made a running dive through the hole. Climbing to her feet on the other side, she winced in pain as she realized that she had gotten a long scrape along one calf as she jumped through the opening. Her right shoulder also wasn't feeling that great after smashing the hole in the door in the first place.
Ripping a few more strips from her increasingly tattered dress, Miyuki bandaged her leg. Then, picking up her weapon in her left hand, she picked a direction and started walking. She didn't know where the exit was, but she wouldn't find it just standing in one place.
The staff in Nanoha's hand started to change. The head of the staff disassembled itself and reformed. Within seconds, what had been a series of concentric circles was how a massive golden spearhead. Slapping what looked like a rifle magazine into the spear, she pointed it at the castle. As shell casings started getting ejected from the staff, a pink orb formed at the tip and started growing.
"Divine... BUSTER!" Nanoha shouted.
A massive wave of pink energy erupted from the spear and smashed into the outer wall of Beryl's palace. Then it kept going. After the dust and rubble settled, the Senshi looked at the fortress before them and saw that a ten meter wide hole had been blasted at least halfway through the palace.
"Alright," Hayate ordered, "We have two objectives here: Rescue Miyuki and retrieve the Jewel Seeds. The path that Nanoha just opened will take use to the latter while bringing us fairly close to the former. Nanoha will take Fate and the Senshi and go after the Jewel Seeds. The Wolkenritter will be going after Miyuki. I'll be out here, getting ready. Once you achieve your objectives, get out and I'll flatten the entire complex."
"No." Signum stated flatly. "We're not leaving you uncovered out here, mistress. Leaving you without protection in the city was a calculated risk that I agreed with because lives were at stake and we needed to be able to take out as many enemy units simultaneously as possible. Here that logic doesn't apply, and if anything you're even less capable of defending yourself than normal. If your staff was damaged enough to lose control of its matter storage capabilities, then it's probably in need of a complete rebuild even after Fate's repair spell. You might only be able to cast two or three spells before it breaks down. And that's assuming anyone attacking you is slow enough to be hit by one your spells before it can close in. I am not leaving you unprotected again."
The two stared at each other. As their gazes locked, the Senshi saw the look on Signum's face and realized that in her eyes this wasn't a matter of a junior officer defying her superior. It was a matter of a knight realizing that her duty and the orders from her liege could not be reconciled, and that she had decided that she would not go against what her duty required, no matter what.
Hayate looked away first. "Alright, Signum. You and Rein stay with me. Everyone, your orders stand. Move out!"
Eight people charged into the breach in the walls.
The youma surged into action. They had lost many of their number in the battle for Tokyo, and more still when a pink blast smashed through the palace, destroying everything in its wake, but their Queen had called, and they would answer.
Swarming from their quarters and workplaces, they rushed to the breach in the walls, determined to do their duty. They were confident that they would succeed. After all, the last time the Dark Kingdom had fought the Senshi inside a large structure like this, they had crushed them, and the only thing that had prevented their ultimate victory was Queen Serenity's use of the Ginzuisho.
They failed to realize that there were some severe differences between that battle and the one they were about to face. First, during the Silver Millennium, they had the advantage of surprise, which was now operating in the other direction. Second, the previous generation of Senshi lived in an era when battle was the exception, not the rule. The Moon Kingdom had not fought an actual war in years when the Dark Kingdom attacked. This generation of Senshi had been facing battle regularly for nearly two years, and had spent several months getting their skills refined by the finest magical combat instructor alive. And most importantly, when the Moon Kingdom fell, the palace was full of civilians that the Senshi had to both protect and avoid harming themselves, seriously constraining their tactics and the level of power they could use. There was only one person in the entire palace that the attackers did not see as a valid target, so they had a much freer hand this time around.
Massive waves of lightning crackled through the corridor. Those that made it past the lightning found themselves frozen solid, then smashed by metal orbs that were launched by one of the Senshi's allies. Those who came in from behind the attackers as they made their relentless advance were blasted by balls of pink or yellow light, sliced to pieces with a crystal sword, or attacked by an enormous wolf. Even after two of the attackers broke off and headed down a side corridor for some reason, all that did was slow the rate of their advance slightly. The invaders pressed on.
A wall of fire searing down the tunnel broke the spirit of the defenders. The remaining youma stared in horror at a twin-ponytailed figure holding a spear walking through the flames, and they broke and ran.
Nephrite had suspected that the person who had released him from his cell hadn't intended to do so when he saw exactly how much destruction had been caused in the process. Less than a minute after leaving the cell, his suspicions were confirmed.
The palace was under attack. Youma were streaming out of the corridors and charging down the tunnel to attack the intruders who had just made their own path into the heart of Beryl's domain. Nephrite ducked down an unused side corridor to get out of their way. If the enemy could do that much damage with their opening shot, he didn't want to be in the obvious line of fire if they decided to do that again.
This was an opportunity. If he could defeat the attackers, it would conclusively prove to his Queen that he was still her loyal servant. All he had to do was get into a position where he could ambush them, which wouldn't be hard, given that he knew the layout of the palace and could tell that the invaders would be sticking to the path that they had created for themselves.
Making his way through the back hallways, Nephrite considered the best place to launch his ambush. It had to be someplace where he would be concealed from the attackers long enough to land a devastating opening blow, but also had to be somewhere he could be seen to defeat them. He could only redeem himself in Beryl's eyes if he was seen destroying her true enemies.
Nephrite's planning was interrupted by a group of youma making their own way to the battlefield. One of them immediately pointed at him.
"The traitor has escaped! He must be in league with them. Seize him!"
Before he could protest his innocence, the youma were charging him, and Nephrite was forced to defend himself.
Miyuki crept through the hallways of the palace. The sounds of explosions had faded, to be replaced by the more random sounds of battle. Her former captor was under attack. This was an opportunity. If she could find where the attackers were, she should be able to trace their invasion route and find a way out. If she was lucky, she might even be able to convince the people attacking the Dark Kingdom to give her a lift back to somewhere she could get home from.
All she had to do was follow the sounds of fighting, and she'd be able to escape. So long as she managed to get past the actual fight in one piece once she found it, her plan had a good chance of success. Hearing from calls of outrage from the direction of her former cell, Miyuki picked up her pace in hopes of finding the way out before the youma who just realized that she had broken out caught up with her.
She should have increased her pace further. The youma caught up with her before she could find whoever was attacking the complex. Glancing behind her, she saw that one of them was significantly ahead of the others. Taking advantage of that, she continued running until the lead youma had almost caught up with her, then stopped and spun around. Swinging her weapon with all the momentum of her spin, she smashed the metal rod into the side of its knee.
The youma crumpled as its knee shattered. As it fell, Miyuki kicked out, knocking the youma back into the path of its colleagues. While the other youma stumbled over the fallen form of their colleague, Miyuki broke into a full run. That wouldn't slow them down for long.
There was a fight going on somewhere nearby. She could hear it. Trying to ignore the pain in her injured leg as best she could, Miyuki ran as fast as she could towards the sound of the commotion.
Reaching the sound of the commotion, Miyuki saw a man taking apart a group of youma with ease. As he finished off the last one, he turned to see if the newcomer was another opponent. She recognized him the moment she saw his face.
"You!" Miyuki and Nephrite shouted in unison.
While most of the youma concentrated on trying to repulse the enemies that had actually entered the palace, some of them decided to go after the group that was standing outside. After all, there were only three of them, one of whom was so small that any of them could take her out of the fight by stepping on her. And if they were truly dangerous, why weren't they participating in the main attack?
Signum readied Laevatein as the youma approached. She would prove her enemy's assumption to be very, very wrong.
"Unison In!" She commanded. Rein floated over to her and synchronized with her. With the two of them bound together, they had more than enough power to destroy any adversary long before they could get close enough to threaten Hayate.
"Schlangenform!" She called out. A spent cartridge was ejected from her Device as it changed from a sword to a bladed whip and burst into flame. Slashing with her weapon, she weaved a wall of blades and flames in front of her. Every youma that attempted to approach her was quickly reduced to ash.
In a matter of minutes, all of the youma that had the courage to face Signum had fallen. None of them had gotten close enough to threaten her Mistress. As the ashes of her fallen opponents settled, Signum looked out at the Dark Kingdom's main base, watching for signs that the enemy was regrouping for another assault. What she saw coming out of the palace was something she didn't expect.
A group of youma was running out of the breach in the outer wall, but not to attack. Instead, they were chasing after a figure who was fleeing the base. Signum's eyes widened in shock as she recognized who it was, and then flew into action. Switching Laevatein back into sword form for higher precision, she cut her way through the youma seeking to harm the sister that she had thought to be dead for years.
"Thanks for the save," Reinforce Eins said. "I'm not sure I could have kept away from them much longer."
Nanoha called the group to a stop.
"Okay, we're at the point that the Jewel Seeds were when I breached the outer defenses. Does anyone see them around here?" She asked.
A quick survey of their surrounds quickly revealed that the missing Lost Logia were not in the immediate vicinity. Calling up another ball of fire, Sailor Mars tried to divine their location once again.
"We're getting close. They're now somewhere in that direction." She reported, pointing obliquely down a side corridor.
Fate walked towards the wall of the corridor, shifting her scythe into Zamber mode as she approached it. Driving her sword into the wall, she carved an arch into it before kicking the wall down.
"Let's move." She said. The group headed through the new opening, smashing their way down the new course that Mars had provided.
The last of the DD Girls approached the two intruders. Her sisters had all been slain when a beam of pink light had smashed through their quarters. She had survived only because she had been standing on the other side of the room when the blast hit.
Her plan was working perfectly. Her illusion spell had them thinking that she was someone they trusted, who they had rushed to rescue from the evil youma. It wouldn't take much effort to get closer to her 'friends', at which point she would be able to take both of them down at once.
Signum stared at the woman she believed to have died seven years before. How was Reinforce here? It wasn't possible. But how could the enemy even know of her? The only image the Wolkenritter kept of her was kept in her memorial shrine back at the base, and if the Dark Kingdom knew where that was, they would have attacked it long ago instead of launching an all-out assault on the entire city.
"Is it really you, Reinforce?" Hayate asked.
"Of course. Who else could I be?" The seemingly resurrected Wolkenritter said. "I'm glad to be back with you two again."
Inside of Signum, Reinforce Zwei called out a warning.
Signum! That isn't Eins! She said silently. She mentioned the two of us. The real Eins would know that you're currently Unisoned just by looking at you, and thus would know that there are three people here.
Signum's eyes narrowed as she looked at the approaching figure. Rein had a point. Entering Unison mode changed the hair color of the host, which would be immediately obvious to anyone who knew the Unisoned mage person claiming to be Reinforce hadn't mentioned the color change or acknowledged the existence of Rein, showing that she didn't notice the color change or understand its implications, something which the core program of the Book of Night Sky would not do with one of her guardians.
Now that she was watching the false Reinforce more closely, she saw that her body language was that of someone setting up for a subtle attack. Seeing how close she was to Hayate, Signum sprung into action. Flying to her mistress, Signum knocked her out of the way while bringing her blade up to counter the attack.
The wound that she inflicted in the imposter with her defensive strike was minor, but it broke whatever spell was enabling it to wear Reinforce's appearance. The only thing the creature's true form had in common with Reinforce was that they were both female. Everything else was different, starting with the fact that Reinforce didn't have green skin.
"How did you see through my spell?" The youma demanded as it launched another attack.
"You should have checked your counting." Signum snapped as she parried the attack with ease.
The youma was stronger than the ones that she had been fighting all day, Signum would give it that much credit. But it didn't do it any good. She had centuries of experience in battle, and all of her attention was focused on destroying the creature who dared to defile the memory of her fallen kinswoman. Within seconds, it had been reduced to ashes on the snow like its colleagues had.
Miyuki looked down the hall at the man who had lied to her, broken her heart, tried to murder her sister, and kidnapped her with absolute loathing. Nephrite looked back at her with an expression of equal hatred.
"I've been looking forward to this for a long time, girl," Nephrite said softly, but with a disturbing intensity.
"You lured me into an ambush with the intent of forcing me to take you or some of your sister's accursed Senshi into Beryl's presence," He accused. "You tried to murder my Queen. And you set it up so that if it failed, I would be branded as a traitor to the Dark Kingdom. In return for your perfidy, I am going to take pleasure in breaking you."
As Nephrite stalked towards her, Miyuki noted that he was giving her credit for a far more sophisticated plan than had actually existed. All they had really planned was to capture and interrogate a Dark General, or, failing that, eliminate him. Beryl had just been a target of opportunity. But while she had no intention of framing the man as a willing accomplice in the plan, she didn't see any reason to complain about what had happened to him. And if what he believed made him angry, then maybe he'd make a mistake and she'd be able to beat him within an inch of his life before he could blast her with his magic.
"Your people ruined my brother's wedding," She snapped back, "They nearly killed my mother, broke my father's arm, and caused my sister to end up in the hospital. If you think you're getting any sympathy from me, you're in for a long wait."
Miyuki followed that up by smashing him in the jaw with the metal rod. Spitting out teeth, her enraged ex-boyfriend attacked her. Rolling out of the way of the blast, Miyuki winced as she climbed to her feet. All the exertion was putting a lot of strain on her injured leg, and it wasn't doing any of her half-healed wounds any favors, either.
In the distance, Miyuki could hear the youma she had encountered earlier catching up to them. With her injuries, her mobility was seriously impaired, and she knew from experience that the only way to stand a chance in a fight against youma was to keep moving. She couldn't fight at her best, and if she tried to run, Nephrite would shoot her in the back. This was going to be ugly.
Vita flew through the hallways of Beryl's base, Zafira running at her heels. The youma trying to reach the main battle that they occasionally ran into attempted to stop them, but ultimately failed to do more than slow them down a bit.
Vita had failed Nanoha twice in the past year, and she was not going to let her friend down. She the Knight of the Hammer, wielder of Graf Eisen, the Iron Count, and there was nothing she could not break. There was nothing she would not break, if it came between her and her mission. The only reason she wasn't smashing through the walls to get to the last reported location of Nanoha's sister was because she might accidentally bury her in the rubble. She was definitely planning on using that option to create the fastest way out once Miyuki was found.
As the two finished off another group of youma, they heard something in the distance.
"What's that?" Vita wondered.
"It sounds like a fight." Zafira noted.
"But it's not coming from the direction the others are in. Who else could the enemy be fighting?" Vita paused, and then the answer came to her. "It must be Miyuki. Let's go!"
They hurried towards the sound of the battle, and Vita's suspicions were confirmed. Miyuki was locked in battle with a group of youma and the Dark General who had kidnapped her in the first place. The young woman was doing her best to fend them off with a metal rod, but she was highly battered and was rapidly getting cornered. It looked like the only reason she hadn't already fallen was because the youma were attacking Miyuki and Nephrite indiscriminately, distracting enough of the fighters to keep her from being totally overwhelmed.
As they arrived at the scene of the fight, Nephrite blasted Miyuki in the shoulder, knocking her backwards and forcing her to drop her weapon. Wasting no time, the two Wolkenritter leaped into the fray. Screaming in rage, Vita charged at Nephrite. Zafira growled as he leapt at one of the youma closest to Miyuki.
Vita's battle cry was enough to warn Nephrite that another combatant had arrived. Her opening blow, which should have crushed half his rib cage, only staggered him instead. Spinning her hammer around, she tried for an upward swing that would take him under the chin and knock him through the ceiling, but he stepped back and countered with a blast of magic that burned a hole through her barrier jacket and seared the flesh underneath. Gritting her teeth from the pain, Vita slammed Graf Eisen into his arm, and felt bones snap under the blow.
The two fought back and forth, trading blows as they tried to get an opening for a finishing strike. Suddenly, Nephrite's guard dropped as he cried out in pain from a blow that Vita had not struck. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Vita smashed her hammer into the side of the Dark General's head. As he dropped to the ground, Vita saw a foot buried in the man's crotch. While he had been distracted with his duel against Vita, Miyuki had apparently snuck up behind him and landed one last blow against her betrayer.
As Vita shook the pulpy mess that had once been Nephrite off her hammer, she looked Miyuki over. The young woman was not in good shape. Her left arm was hanging limply from her side, and the way her right arm moved implied that it was injured as well. Blood-stained rags were tied around one leg. It was clear that she wasn't up to making a run for the exit. Another way of getting her out would be needed.
"Thanks for the assist." Vita said.
"I owed him that," Miyuki replied, looking at Nephrite's remains with contempt. "And I should be thanking you. If you hadn't shown up I wouldn't have made it out of that fight. I take it that Nanoha sent you?"
"She sent me to get you out of here while she and the others took care of another part of the mission." Vita agreed, "Once we're all clear, Hayate's going to flatten the entire place. Come on, let's get you out of here. Shamal should be able to patch you up."
Miyuki was only too glad to get away from the Dark Kingdom. Once Zafira finished off the last of his opponents, Vita helped Miyuki get on his back, and he lashed her in place with a modified Steel Yoke.
Vita turned in the direction of the passage out that Nanoha had created earlier and started smashing through the walls in a direct line between the three of them and the route outside. Once they made it out of the palace, their mission would be complete.
Gasping for breath, Beryl hurriedly sealed the door to Metallia's lair. The White Devil was coming, and her forces wouldn't be able to slow her down much longer. Her only hope for survival, much less victory, lay in reviving Metallia before the Senshi reached her.
Rushing to her quiescent mistress, Beryl placed the six crystals before her.
"Hear me, O Metallia," She intoned, wincing as she heard something smash into the door. "I bring you these crystals an a offering. May the energy they contain restore you and allow you to crush your enemies with your infinite might!"
Slowly, the light started to fade from the crystals. As Metallia fed, the crashing sounds continued. Turning, she saw that the magically sealed portal was holding. So long as the spell remained active, the door would be fused to the frame, incapable of opening. That would hopefully keep the Senshi out long enough to...
An explosion erupted, and a section of the wall ten meters away from the door blew apart. Turning her attention to the hole, she saw several of the Senshi come running in. Knowing that she had to buy time for Metallia to finish feeding and awaken, she confronted her attackers.
While guarding against a barrage of lightning from Sailor Jupiter, she blasted the ceiling above the Senshi, hoping to bury them and block the entrance of any further enemies. The rubble did block the hole, but the three Senshi who had already made it in were able to get clear.
As Sailors Mars and Jupiter pressed the attack against her, Sailor Mercury encased the floor of half the room in a massive sheet of ice. Beryl saw their plan. With only her side of the room covered in ice, they could maneuver freely while she couldn't. Beryl would be forced to choose between trying to move and running the risk of losing her footing and leaving herself vulnerable, or staying in one place and allowing herself to be outflanked. She wasn't about to let that happen.
Sending a wave of force, she knocked the Senshi back. Taking advantage of the brief pause in the combat, she hastily used a minor fire spell to melt the ice around her. She got the ice cleared away just in time, as the Senshi quickly recovered and sent a combined attack that could have been very painful had she not been able to dodge it. Firing back at her enemies, she scattered them, leaving them unable to support each other.
As she prepared to blast Mercury for the crime of killing one of her Generals, pain lanced through her belly. Looking down, she saw that something had sliced her belly open. Glancing to the side, she saw Sailor Venus catching her bloodied compact.
It had been a trick. While she had been focused on repelling the Senshi that had entered through the wall, Venus had bypassed the spell sealing the door by literally cutting the doorframe out of the wall. Then she had taken advantage of the fact that Beryl had made the mistake of only guarding herself against magical attacks (The only things that her initial attackers had been using) and struck at her physically.
As Beryl tried to hold her wound together, the other Senshi struck. Lightning crackled over her body, making her cringe in pain. A wave of cold hit her arm, freezing it solid. A burst of flame seared into her, cauterizing the bleeding as it incinerated her insides.
At that moment, Beryl realized that she was doomed. Her heart was still beating, but for all practical intents and purposes she was already dead. Her only hope at anything approaching victory was to ensure that the Senshi lost as well. And the only way to do that was to ensure that Metallia awoke. Beryl stopped trying to attack her enemies and focused the last of her strength on creating a barrier to prevent them from getting any closer to her or her mistress.
Spells smashed against the shield as the Senshi tried to penetrate it. Beryl held firm, determined that she would live long enough to ensure that she was avenged. Her eyes narrowed as she saw her nemesis join the effort.
Strangely, the Moon Princess did not attack the barrier. She stared at it while clutching the massive spear in her hands. A small object flew from the spear, and then she handed the spear to Jupiter and spoke briefly to her. Jupiter took the weapon from her Princess and threw it at the barrier.
The spear embedded itself in the shield, piercing it but not going through to reach its creator. Beryl smirked. Whatever Serenity had hoped to accomplish with that maneuver, it had failed.
The flat tone of Serenity's voice didn't sound like a mild curse. It sounded more like a command. Beryl watched with horror as the spearhead split down the middle and separated into two pieces joined by a crimson orb. Then a flash of pink light from the orb sent her flying.
The barrier fell as Beryl crashed into the ground. It was over. She didn't think that she had the strength left to rise, much less slow her enemies down any longer. But as the light faded from her eyes, she saw that the light had also faded from the crystals she had presented to Metallia.
Beryl smiled as she died. The Senshi might have struck her down, but she had still won.
The palace shook as Metallia awoke. The Senshi and their allies fled through the broken walls and ruined hallways in order to escape. They had failed to stop Beryl in time, and now their best chance was to get out of the building so their heavy hitter could bombard the entire area and hopefully take Metallia down.
Exiting the palace, they hurried to where Hayate was waiting with the Vita and a unisoned Signum. Nanoha took a quick look at the group and realized that there were people missing.
"Where's Zafira? Did you get Miyuki out okay?" She demanded.
"Your sister's safe." Vita assured her. "Zafira transported back to Tokyo so Shamal could treat her injuries." Before Nanoha could start demanding details of how badly hurt her sister was, Vita asked a question of her own. "What's going on in there?"
"We were too late. We took Beryl out, but she was able to feed the Jewel Seeds to Metallia first. It's starting to wake up."
"Then we'd better deal with it now. Rein!" Hayate called out. The miniature girl flew out of Signum and into Hayate, whose coloring shifted as she pointind her staff at the palace while raising her other hand above her head. Black light shone along its length as she charged one of her most dangerous spells. "In an ancient land, sink to the darkness," She intoned. "Diablolic Emission!"
A sphere of black light formed over the palace. The sphere collapsed in on itself, then exploded in a rapidly expanding eruption of energy. The blast caused the damaged building to completely collapse. But after a few seconds, the energy started flowing backwards, as if it was being drawn into something. Within moments, all of the power was drawn to a specific point in the rubble. A point that was moving as if something underneath it was stirring.
Hayate looked at the evidence that something had just tanked her second most powerful spell with concern. Turning to her friends, she snapped out orders. "Triple Breaker. Now. Before that thing digs itself out."
The three Aces of the TSAB brought their devices to bear. The air hummed with power as cartridges were drained to power up the most powerful spell that each of them knew. In the distance, a form was rising from the ruins of Beryl's palace. All three of them cast their spells at it.
"Full Power!" Nanoha called out. "Starlight.."
"Lightning Flash!" Fate shouted. "Zamber Plasma..."
"Resound, horn of judgment!" Hayate incanted. "Ragnarok..."
"BREAKER!" The three called out as one, releasing their spells.
Pink, yellow and blue bursts of light streamed towards the rising shape. All three struck it head on. All three failed to even phase it. Instead it started growing. When the spells ended, the three found themselves facing an enemy that now appeared to be stronger than it was before they had attacked it.
"It just blocked a Triple Breaker," Hayate gasped as their staffs vented steam. "No, it didn't block it, it ate it."
"No wonder Queen Serenity was only able to seal it, not destroy it," Sailor Mercury said, looking at her computer, which abruptly lost power. "It feeds on any energy it encounters. Any attack thrown at it will only make it stronger." She paused. "Is anyone starting to feel a little light-headed?"
"Yeah, I am," Agreed Jupiter, then she paled, "Oh no, you don't think that..."
"It's starting to drain us," Venus said, her face grim, "And when it's finished, it will move on to find someplace with more people to feed on. And the longer it does so, the harder it will be to stop. If we don't destroy or seal it now, Metallia will soon be unstoppable."
A dread silence spread over the group. There was only one thing with a proven ability to affect Metallia. Unfortunately, using the Ginzuisho brought with it the risk of killing the person wielding it. But with the lives of everyone in the world at stake, what choice did they have?
Nanoha took a slow breath. "I'm going to need every cartridge we have left." She announced.
Hayate, Signum and Vita somberly removed their remaining cartridges from their Devices and handed them over without a word. They knew that their friend had just volunteered for a suicide mission, and they couldn't bring themselves to openly admit it by saying goodbye. Fate was less reticent.
"Nanoha, you can't do this!" She protested.
"What other options do we have, Fate?"
"There has to be something we can try! Please Nanoha, don't..."
Fate's objection was cut off by Nanoha forcefully pressing her lips against her own. Fate instinctively raised her arms to embrace Nanoha, hoping that she could convey without words how much the other girl meant to her and how much she needed her. Seconds later, the kiss was deepening, and Fate was starting to believe that Nanoha might be convinced to not go flying to her death. Then her limbs were suddenly trapped in a Ring Bind.
As Nanoha took Bardiche away from her, Fate realized that the kiss was just a way to get her to drop her guard. She was the only person here who could fly fast enough to prevent Nanoha from making her suicide run, so Nanoha had bound her to keep her from doing so.
"Don't do this, Nanoha. Please!" She pleaded, tears streaming down her face.
"I'm sorry, Fate," Nanoha sighed as she popped the cylinder on Bardiche and removed the cartridges. "I wish there was some other way. But don't have time to look for one. Please forgive me." Nanoha placed Bardiche back in Fate's hand, and then traced her face in one hand. "I love you." She whispered, before taking to the sky.
Fate struggled against the bonds, desperate to break free in time to catch up with Nanoha. But it was no use, by the time she got loose, Nanoha was too far away to catch before she started casting. She fell to her knees, weeping over the loss dearest friend.
Nanoha flew towards the now massive form of Metallia, blinking back tears as she did so. She had once chance at this, and if her plan didn't work, she would never see her friends again. She didn't want to do this, but as she told Fate, there wasn't any other choice. Seven billion lives were counting on her, and if Metallia was capable of travelling to other systems, the entire dimension could be at risk.
The sensation of draining increased as she closed in on Metallia. Biting her lip to ensure that she could maintain her focus despite the light-headedness that was starting to creep in, she deliberately flew into the creature's open mouth and down its throat. The draining sensation weakened as she went deeper into its body. That validated the wild guess that was at the center of her plan. Metallia could drain anything that it encountered, but it could drain something inside it, at least not instinctively. That would be its undoing.
Unsealing the Ginzuisho from inside Raising Heart, she had the spearhead open, and then placed the crystal flower between the two halves, right against the gem. Reloading every magazine with the cartridges she had taken from the others, she instructed her Device to channel its spells through the Lost Logia. Then she aimed the spear upwards, to the roof of Metallia's mouth and into where the brain would be on a human.
Cartridges were ejected at a rapid pace as the spell drew power. Nanoha ejected the magazine and loaded another as the spell continued to grow. With the Ginzuisho augmenting Raising Heart's power, the energy collection process wasn't just absorbing the ambient energy left behind from any spells cast in the area, it was also drawing in all the power that Metallia had absorbed. Including the power of seven Lost Logia and the greatest spells of the three strongest mages the TSAB had.
The power held in her staff peaked. Nanoha released it in one massive blast, calling out the name that Raising Heart displayed as a suggestion for what to call a spell that took her Starlight Breaker to an entirely new level.
Fate weakly raised her head. She knew deep inside that she needed to witness her beloved Nanoha's sacrifice. She needed to see her friend die to save the world of her birth. Even if it broke her heart to do so.
So she saw Nanoha fly straight down the creature's throat. She waited as the creature just stood there. She stopped breathing as she prayed for a sign that the monster hadn't just eaten her and that Nanoha's sacrifice hadn't just been completely in vain. And then a column of light, the color oscillating between pink and a silvery white, erupted from Metallia. Everyone shielded their eyes from the flashing light, and when they looked again, the ruler of the Dark Kingdom collapsed to the ground, dissolving as it fell. Standing in the air where it had been was a sole figure, roughly the size of a human being.
With a cry of delight Fate launched herself into the air and flew into Nanoha's arms. They laughed as they spun through the air, delighting in the fact that they had survived and that they would hopefully have many more years to spend together.
As the two touched ground, the Senshi looked at the girl they considered their Princess and bowed. Fate turned to Nanoha and gasped with surprise when she realized that her appearance had changed considerably from using the Ginzuisho.
The ankle-length skirt of her Barrier Jacket now only reached to mid-thigh. The top had also changed, becoming practically skin-tight. Nanoha's ponytails had lengthened to reach the back of her knees, and her hair color had changed to a platinum blonde. A coronet marked with a crescent moon rested on her brow. Even Raising Heart had changed. The length of the staff was the same, but instead of a spearhead, the top of the Device now looked more like the headpiece of a royal scepter.
Fate was wondering what had caused such a change when Nanoha said three words that made it clear that this was a problem that could wait for another time.
"Let's go home."
Saeko Mizuno slumped into her chair in exhaustion. It had been a very long shift at the hospital, but at long last all of the casualties from the monster attack had been seen to and she had been able to go home.
She didn't even want to know what the total casualties for the battle were. She knew that they would be far too high. Juuban General had been able to keep up with the seemingly endless number of wounded people in need of help, if just barely. Saeko didn't think that they would have been able to do it without the assistance of Hotaru Tomoe.
The girl had literally worked herself to the point of collapse, and between the people she had healed herself and the ones that were able to be treated in time because she had freed up people and medical supplies that wouldn't be needed on the people she had healed, she had saved at least a hundred lives. The young girl (Who had been delighted to see her talents appreciated by someone other than other magical girls) was now the hospital's darling, and once her abilities and interest in seeking a medical career got out, every medical school and hospital in the country would be head-hunting her.
However, even with the knowledge that she had done a lot of good that day, one worry weighed on Saeko's mind. Her daughter hadn't made it home yet. Not only was Ami not home, but people had stopped reporting having seen Sailor Mercury, or any of the other Senshi for that matter, some time ago. Had something happened to her? Had she been killed, her body lying unnoticed with no witnesses surviving to tell the tale? This just wasn't right. Her daughter hadn't even made it into high school yet, she should be worrying about Ami's grades and the acceptability of her boyfriends, not whether or not the girl had survived a battle that she had deliberately gone into knowing she could be killed.
The door to the apartment opened, and Saeko's eyes widened in delight as she saw her daughter enter. Ami was obviously weary, and seriously in need of a shower, but she didn't appear to be notably injured. Saeko pried herself out of the chair and ran to embrace her only child.
"Ami!" She gasped, "I was so worried."
"It's alright, mom." Ami said, "It's over now."
"This battle, maybe, but what about the next one, or the one after that? I'm not sure I can go on knowing that you could get yourself killed any day."
"No, mother, it meant it's over. We were able to track the youma back to their main base and destroy it. The war is over. All of it."
Saeko held her daughter tighter, tears of joy in her eyes. The nightmare was over. Her child was safe.
Due to its location near the local train station and quality service, the Midori-ya cafe had a sizable amount of regular custom. After the owners were associated with one of the first confirmed magical girls, the unexpected publicity had increased that. But on this day, none of their regulars were coming in. A sign had been placed on the door reading 'Closed For Private Party'.
Inside the cafe, Hayate Yagami raised her glass. "To a closed case!" She called out.
Everyone else in the cafe echoed the toast. "A closed case!"
Everyone drank, and the victory celebration began. The Dark Kingdom had been crushed. Beryl and all of her generals were dead, Metallia had been destroyed, and all of the youma running around Tokyo had been dealt with. Everything was over except for the paperwork.
As the victorious mages celebrated, Miyuki helped her parents and brother bring out a wide variety of pastries. Her wounded arm was in a sling, and would be a long time in recovering. Her wounded heart might take longer to heal, but the satisfaction she had gotten from what had happened to the man who had used her was a good start.
Luna was sitting on top of one of the tables, licking the filling out of a cream puff that her Princess had thoughtfully broken open for her. No, not her Princess. Her Queen. With her successful usage of the Ginzuisho to bring about a decisive victory over the Dark Kingdom, Nanoha had proven herself worthy of claiming her throne. Now Luna could begin guiding her on the process of restoring her Kingdom to its former glory.
The party went on for over an hour before Nanoha rapped her fork against a glass. Her appearance had returned to normal after she had taken Raising Heart out of what she had tentatively dubbed 'Lunar Excellion' mode, which had arisen from her using her Device and the Ginzuisho in concert. The two items were now apparently permanently bound together, with no perceptible differences from the Device's normal state save for the addition of the new mode.
The noise of the party died down as Nanoha signaled that she wanted their attention. "Thank you, everyone." She began, "Because of all your hard work, a wanted criminal who had been murdering sick people in hospital beds has been brought to justice," Luna noticed the sad looks on the faces of the two daughters of the criminal in question, "A youma attack threatening the lives of the thirteen million people living in Tokyo was thwarted, and two separate dimensional threats that could have potentially killed everything on this planet were stopped. Good work." There was a round of applause.
"Some of the Senshi may recall an unfortunate incident early on in our association," Nanoha continued, as Mars, Jupiter and Kamen looked away guiltily, "I'm pleased to announce that they have fulfilled the conditions of our agreement on how best to make amends for these actions. I now have one statement to make to all of the Senshi as your Princess," Luna held her breath in anticipation. This was the moment that the Moon Kingdom would be born again. She wasn't expecting what her monarch said next.
"I hereby release all of you from my service."
Luna's jaw dropped. She couldn't have heard that right. The next Queen of the Moon Kingdom hadn't just fired her Senshi. It was absolutely unthinkable. How could she possibly rebuild her Kingdom without her most loyal retainers at her side?
"Y-Your Majesty!" The Moon Cat protested. "You can't possibly dismiss your Senshi!"
"Why not?" Nanoha countered. "Their oaths of fealty were sworn in a previous life, not this one. The Wolkenritter are as much family to Hayate as they are retainers, and would stand by her side even if she wasn't their rightful master for that reason. The Senshi aren't like that to me. If any of them choose to join me in my work, they're free to tell me, but I can't in good conscience demand their obedience because of vows they swore to a woman long dead in a different lifetime. Especially now that they've finally fulfilled the last obligations remaining from that lifetime." Luna thought that the Senshi would immediately take the opportunity given to them to offer their fealty to their new ruler in their current lifetime, but instead they all starting thinking, as if they were contemplating some life outside of their now former Queen's service. Nanoha's next comment put the cat in further distress, "Besides, I don't really need any knights in my line of work."
"B-But Your Majesty! How can you hope to rebuild your Kingdom without your retainers?" A creeping suspicion came upon Luna: She couldn't. And the reason she didn't want any retainers was because she had no interest in even trying.
"What Kingdom?" Nanoha asked pointedly. "Can anyone here name someone not present who has even heard of the Moon Kingdom who didn't learn of it from someone in this room?" The only person to speak up was Yuuno, who mentioned a couple of researchers in extinct civilizations who had published a couple of papers that he had read while preparing to brief his superiors on the potential threat that Metallia posed.
Luna couldn't believe it. Her Queen had just denied the existence of her realm! This couldn't be happening.
"Don't you understand who you are, Your Majesty?"
"Yes. I know exactly who I am Luna. I am Nanoha Takamachi, tactics instructor for the Time Space Administration Bureau. The fact that in a previous life I was a princess who was woefully unqualified to assume her mother's throne is irrelevant. Who I am is far more important than who I was."
In that moment, Luna knew that she had failed. Her Queen had disavowed her birthright. Her dreams of restoring the Moon Kingdom all collapsed. Luna hopped off the table and slinked away with her tail between her legs.
"So what happens now?" Venus asked.
"Now you girls think hard about whether or not you want a career as a professional mage." Hayate said. "If you do, leave a message at our base in Juuban. I'll be there for another week or so, tying up various loose ends before we pack up and return to Mid-Childa.
"And while I'm doing that, Nanoha, Aruf and Fate will be returning to the vacation they are supposed to be on." She continued rather pointedly. "I don't care whether they spend the time with Nanoha's parents, hanging out with Arika and Suzuka, or just lounging on a beach somewhere. All that matters is that what they are doing is not something that can be considered work, since Nanoha is supposed to be resting after having overworked herself into a long stay in the hospital. Is that clear?"
That last question was aimed directly at a certain workaholic, who nodded meekly.
Minako Aino sat on her bed, wondering what decision she should make with her life. For the first time in nearly two years, she had the option of not being a Senshi. And that option was very, very tempting to her.
Hunting the nights, taking down youma (And any petty criminals she happened to come across) had been a major part of her life for a long time. But did she really want it to be her entire life? Nanoha had pointed out that that she had technically never sworn any oaths to the Moon Kingdom, she had simply been trying to fulfill the oaths sworn in her previous life. And no matter how valid an oath sworn in one life was in a later one, she had been explicitly released from those oaths.
Her thoughts turned back to Danburite, one of the senior servants of the Dark Generals, who she had fought back when she had first started out as Sailor V. When he died, he told her that she would always place her duty before her own needs, and because of that, she would never know true happiness. But did she have a duty anymore? Was she finally free?
As she thought over it, an answer came to her. No, she did not have any duty remaining to Queen Serenity's shade. She had succeeded in protecting the Princess from the assassin sent by the Dark Kingdom. She had personally defeated one of the Beryl's Dark Generals, and more of her youma than she could remember. She had helped to prevent the Dark Kingdom from destroying the Earth a second time. She had done her part. Now it was time for her to live for herself for a change.
Minako Aino asked the Takamachis to send an audition tape to Fiasse Crystela. On the strength of that tape, she was accepted into the Crystela Music Academy and starting studying to be a professional singer.
Ami Mizuno decided to go to Mid-Childa to study magic, with the understanding that she would pay for her tuition by serving a tour of duty in the TSAB (In a non-combat role). When asked if the opportunity to spend time with a certain archeologist/librarian influenced her decision, she turned bright red and changed the subject.
Makoto Kino got a summer job at the Midori-ya learning the finer points of professional baking. She would eventually move to Unimari to be able to continue that job year-round and take advantage of the city's considerably lower cost of living compared to Tokyo.
Rei Hino returned to her family shrine, where she applied her training in divination magic to her duties as a shrine maiden.
Mamoru Chiba continued to dwell over how Serenity had rejected him until the day that Rei got sick of his moping and told him to try living his own life instead of Endymion's for a change. They eventually resumed dating, though awkwardness over what had derailed their previous attempt at a relationship lingered.
Hotaru Tomoe was taken in the by Takamachis - the only family in Japan to have ever knowingly raised a magical girl. Word got around in Japan about her healing talents and she was soon sought out by people hoping to provide her with a scholarship in exchange for her coming to work at their hospital once she graduated from medical school. Word got around Mid-Childa about the first SSS grade mage in living memory, and the TSAB also sent out feelers trying to recruit her. Many people suspected that sooner or later there would be a nasty fight over which planet would get to keep her.
Artemis considered Nanoha's disavowal of the Moon Kingdom as a release from his obligations to it, and retired to the life of a house pet.
Luna was unable to come to terms with how her Queen had walked away from what she believed to be her destiny, and spent much of her time trying to figure out how to take advantage of whatever event would convince Nanoha to claim her throne, certain that such an event would one day come.
Alicia Testarossa was adopted by her sister's adoptive mother, Lindy Harlaown. She made a point of keeping in touch with her first friend. Her sister tried to be a part of her life as much as her duties allowed, though Alicia did find it rather strange when her younger sister adopted a child younger than Alicia's biological age before Alicia had made it out of grade school.
Yuuno Scrya's free time over the next several years was taken up documenting and writing papers on the various artifacts he had taken from the ruins of the Moon Kingdom. He was occasionally aided in this task by a student mage with fragmentary first-person knowledge of how their society functioned.
Nanoha Takamachi, Fate Testarossa, Aruf, Hayate Yagami and the Wolkenritter all returned to their jobs with the TSAB.
Omake/Potential Sequel Opener: Minako's debut
The lights dimmed as Minako took her place on the stage with her classmates.
It had been three years since the war with the Dark Kingdom ended. She hadn't needed to act as a Senshi once in the years since. She no longer needed to be Sailor Venus, Senshi of Love. That part of her life was no longer dominant. Now she could afford to just be Minako Aino, student at the Crystela Music Academy.
It had been difficult. Minako hadn't been the most diligent of students before entering the academy, and the academy was a much more prestigious school than the junior high she had been attending in those days. But knowing that her dream career as a professional singer could depend on her making it through the academy, she persevered, and through hard work (And the fact that the absence of her Senshi duties gave her considerably more time to catch up on studying and sleep), she had achieved an honor only granted to the top students at the academy: A place in the Director's annual Charity Concert World Tour.
Now she was on stage in Suntory Hall, about to begin her latest concert. Her family would be somewhere in the audience, watching her. And they weren't the only ones. Seated among the nearly two thousand people in the concert hall were representatives of Japan's top recording studios, who were watching to see if anyone in the performance had the potential to be the next big star. If she could make a lasting impression tonight, then she had a good chance of landing a contract and launching a successful career as a singer. This was her big moment.
The concert progressed. Minako put her all into the songs that she was part of the performance of and waited for her big number. Half an hour into the concert, the Director addressed the audience to announce the next song.
"This next performance is by a local. A resident of Tokyo, she's been attending the Academy for the past three years. Please give a warm welcome to -" The rest of the Director's speech was interrupted by a screech. The air rippled as a swarm of creatures appeared in the concert hall. The audience screamed as the creatures swooped down upon them.
Minako couldn't tell if any of her former colleagues were in the audience. If anyone was to act to deal with the attack, it would have to be her. There was no way she could sneak off stage, transform, and get back to fight without being noticed. Even if there was, there wasn't time. Two thousand lives were at stake.
The last time Minako had gone somewhere without her transformation pen on her person somewhere had been roughly a month after first becoming Sailor Venus. Even though she hadn't needed to use it in years, the habit had remained. Reaching into a pocket of her concert gown, she pulled out her transformation pen and raised it above her head.
"Venus Star Power, Make Up!"
Sailor Venus pulled out her compact and threw it to one side of the stage. It arced around the hall, scything through several of the monsters before returning to her hand. The survivors all stopped their attacks on the civilians and turned their gaze to the young woman on the stage. Venus drew her sword and prepared to meet them.
Just because she hadn't needed to use her powers in years didn't mean that she hadn't kept her skills in practice. The physical combat skills she had learned were an excellent form of exercise, and she had done her best to keep in fighting trim as a matter of habit. The hard part had been the lack of any sparring partners. In both her lives, she had been trained under the assumption that any fight she got into would be life or death. The kendo dojos she had been able to find in London operated under the assumption that their students would use their skills mainly in controlled environments like tournament competitions. After she took down one dojo master in three moves (Two of which she later learned were blatantly illegal in regulation kendo), word got around, and nobody would spar with her anymore. It was time to see if she had kept enough of her edge.
The first creature swooped down from overhead. Venus sidestepped the attack, then turned to stab it from behind. She spun as she pulled the sword out, slashing the second monster as she did so. A third tried to claw at her face. Venus brought her sword up, shearing through the creature's arm before thrusting the blade into its chest. Bringing her foot up, she kicked the body off her sword, knocking it into a fourth opponent. This knocked it back long enough for her to cut down a fifth with a vertical slice. By this time the fourth had recovered and was attacking again, but Venus was ready for it. Sidestepping its rush, she chopped into its trailing leg. The creature fell, and was quickly finished off by a short stab. Releasing the sword, Venus stretched one arm behind her, her hand pointed out like a pistol.
A beam of light burst from her outstretched finger, taking down the final monster, which had been trying to sneak up on her.
The hall was still. Monsters had attacked the city for the first time in years, and had only been repelled because one of the performers at the concert they had attacked had turned out to be one of the magical girls that had faced the earlier monsters attacks several years previous. Not just one of them, arguably the most visible of their number, especially after the battle at Fukiage Garden.
Venus stepped over the bodies of her fallen opponents and took the microphone away from the stunned Director.
"Given the nature of the charities that this concert tour is meant to support, I'd say that the actions of our unexpected visitors was in extremely bad taste." She quipped. "In any case, if they were planning to introduce me, then their timing was badly off. My solo isn't until after the intermission." There were a few weak chuckles from the audience at that. "Since this little interruption is now over, I'd like to turn the stage over to the lady who is supposed to be next on the program, Michiru Kaoih-san, who will be performing a piece of her own composition."
Handing back the microphone, Venus detransformed and returned to her place at the back of the stage. As she watched the young violinist she had named take the stage and perform her work, she realized that no matter what else happened as a result of the night's performance, she had definitely made a lasting impression.
A/N: When you are at point X, objective A is at an M degree from you and objective B is at an N degree angle from you. When you are at point Y, the objectives are at angles K and L, respectively. Where are A and B? Given the knowledge of the locations of A and B, what location and angle should you fire a dungeon bypass Z units wide so that it reaches A and gets exactly K*Z units away from B at the closest point of approach? If problems like that turned up in textbooks, kids might enjoy their math classes more.
Suntory Hall is a real-life concert venue in the Minato Ward of Tokyo. Its main hall seats approximately two thousand people.
If you liked this story, please check out my other complete multi-chapter story, The Black Hands of NERV. If you think it's rather slow going at first, I suggest considering the first six chapters to be a multi-part prologue (I wanted to start it at chapter seven, but was forced to conclude that there was no way to cover the events leading up to the merging of the Evangelion and Noir storylines in one chapter coherently halfway through a rather bad attempt to do so).
Any readers who are good at fanart, a picture of Lunar Excellion Nanoha would make an excellent story image.
I do not have any plans to write a sequel for this story at present (If nothing else, I don't really know enough about the season 2, 4 and 5 Sailor Moon villains to even attempt to do them justice). Anyone interested in writing one themselves, please contact me (There is one pseudo-sequel already, Nanoha crisis crossover by MangamanZX, which is a fusion of multiple MGLN fanfics, including this one, Shadow Crystal Mage's Takamachi Nanoha of 2814 and Nanya's Blood That Flows. Since it currently is only a prologue, I can't really recommend or disrecommend it). The notion of Death Phantom working with Jail that I saw in the WMG section of the story's trope page looked interesting. Other ideas that might be incorporated:
The long-term implications of the TSAB being involved in the Battle of Tokyo.
The Black Moon Family appearing - and trying to stop the coming of the Neo-Belkan Empire.
Quattro developing a massive phobia of anything pink after Nanoha's retaliation for what she did to her daughter (Though this could fit into just about any post-StrikerS story).
Nanoha explaining to Luna that she has a title far more important that 'Your Majesty' - the one given to her by Vivio.
Someone having to explain to Uranus and Neptune that the Moon Princess has dismissed her Senshi, renounced her title, and gone back to her day job. If they try picking a fight with her like they did at the end of season 3, them also learning that their princess was reincarnated as a Gundam in human form.