SAILOR ECLIPSE,
Chapter 10: "I Have Seen The Enemy and She Is Me"

By Bill K.

As she hiked up the mountainous stairway to the Hikawa Shrine,
Usagi was too preoccupied to notice how far it was on this trip. Her
brow was furrowed and her mouth small and pressed together, her
bubbly personality shrouded in confusion and concern.

"I wonder what happened to Naru?" she thought. "She runs up,
tells me something really bad's happened, then disappears. I hope
nothing's happened to her. Maybe I should call her apartment and
check if she's there."

Usagi mounted the final step and walked up to the shrine's door.
She opened it with ease and wandered in. However, something about
the place struck her as wrong.

"Where's Grampa?" she thought. "I usually don't make it to the
door without him popping up to greet me."

The temple seemed deserted. She walked through the room,
looking around, listening through the eerie stillness. At once, her
ear was caught by the cawing of crows - - Deimos and Phobos, no
doubt.

"Rei?" she called out. "Are you here?" There was no response.
"Is anybody here?" Again, no one answered. "Oh, this is too weird."

Without another option, Usagi headed for the sound of the
crows. She came to a door and slid it open. Instantly, she
recoiled, a piercing scream of alarm springing from her throat.

"Grampa!" she gasped, falling to her knees next to the fallen
form of Rei's dear grandfather. Her shock was doubled when she
noticed Yuuichiro slumped in a corner of the room. Usagi lacked the
medical knowledge to see that both men were unconscious, but alive,
and the sight only fueled her fear.

Darting out the door, Usagi ran to the special room the senshi
used as a meeting place. She ripped the door open, but found no one
there. They had been there, though. She spotted the satchels that
Ami, Makoto and Minako carried when they all left school earlier. By
now frantic, she looked around the room desperately for some clue
that would lead her to them. All the while the cawing of the crows
continued.

"Out here, Usagi," called a voice from the garden. Usagi
didn't recognize the voice, but by that time she didn't care. It was
a lead to her friends and she lunged for it.

Entering the garden, she looked around. There was nothing
there besides the flowers. Her vision was caught by Deimos and
Phobos circling the area. The birds seemed as frantic as she was.
The movement of a bush to her right caught her attention and she
turned to it.

And saw Sailor V emerge from the brush.

"Who are you?" Usagi demanded, unable to conceal the quaver in
her voice. "What have you done with my friends?"

"Removed them from the field of battle," the Sailor V replica
replied confidently. "As for who I am: Think of me as Sailor
Eclipse."

"Battle?"

"We are going to battle, Sailor Moon," Sailor Eclipse said.
"Transform, for only one of us will leave this place and I would have
you die with all your abilities at your command."

Like a robot, Usagi pulled off her brooch and stuck it in the
air. "Moon Eternal Make Up!" she shouted and moments later Eternal
Sailor Moon stood facing Sailor Eclipse. She flashed back to Rei's
premonition. "Why?" she asked plaintively. "Why must we fight?"

"Because there's no other way," Sailor Eclipse replied, then
lunged forward. "Prepare yourself!"

And just as suddenly she halted, narrowly avoiding the single
red rose that embedded itself in the ground before her.

"Tuxedo Mask!" Sailor Moon gasped happily as both women looked
up.

"There will be no battle today," Tuxedo Mask said, standing on
the roof of the shrine. "There will be no death, unless you choose
to force the issue, and if that happens, the death will be yours. So
swears Tuxedo Mask!"

Sailor Eclipse just smiled. "A fearsome threat - - but can you
truly carry it out," and she reached up for the red mask covering her
face, "Mamo-chan?"

The mask fell away. Sailor Moon gasped in shock. Even Tuxedo
Mask was taken aback. Beneath the Sailor V mask lay the face of
Usagi Tsukino.

"No, Usagi," 'Usagi' said. "I'm not using 'Sailor V Transform'
or any other trick. I am you, in every way."

"Not every way!" roared Tuxedo Mask. "You lack her beautiful
soul! Otherwise you couldn't have conceived of this terrible plot,
let alone carried it out. You were the woman in my apartment that
night, weren't you?"

"Yes," 'Usagi' said mockingly. "You should have seen his face,
Usagi. I was his dream come true."

"But your dream is at an end!" Tuxedo Mask snapped. Leaping
into space, his cloak billowing behind him dramatically, he plummeted
down at Sailor Eclipse. His walking stick emerged into his hand from
nothingness and he wielded it as a samurai would his sword.

Sailor Eclipse bent into a defensive crouch, then thrust out
with her extended index finger. Tuxedo Mask had just enough time to
grunt in surprise and discomfort before he was halted in mid-air.
With the speed of thought, glass began to form around him, encasing
his body, drawing him straight and holding him rigid. He seemed to
flatten into two dimensions as the glass extended outward to form a
perfect rectangle around him. Sprouting from the glass was a smooth
onyx. It formed another rectangle, framing the glass, while an
ornate crest grew at the frame's top.

Recognition sparked in Sailor Moon's brain and spurred her to
action. She popped open the cover on her Sailor Communicator and hit
general send.

"Anyone!" she cried. "Please! I'm at the shrine! I need
help, now!"

"They're not going to be much use to you," Sailor Eclipse said
with a confident air. Using a grand, showman-like gesture, Sailor
Eclipse waved her arm behind her. Other objects began to form around
the mirror that held Tuxedo Mask prisoner.

The words still rang in Sailor Moon's ears as she looked into
the air behind her double. Ringing the woman were all four of her
fellow senshi, plus Artemis and Luna. All of them were trapped in
the same gigantic framed mirrors.

"Those," Sailor Moon whispered, her hand to her mouth, "those
are Neherenia's - - but that can't be! I cured her!"

"I know," her reflection said.

"Let them go!" demanded Sailor Moon. "Do you want me to
surrender? I will! Do you want me to beg? I . . ."

"You will," she whispered. "I know. Haven't you figured it
out yet?"

Sailor Moon looked on helplessly.

"I'm you! Your exact mirror opposite! I know everything you
know! I remember everything you remember! I know your every thought
even as you think it! I knew the first thing out of your mouth would
be to offer to surrender just to spare them. Usagi, if that's what I
wanted, I could have done that weeks ago!"

"Then what do you want?"

"Your life," she responded, then noted Sailor Moon's confusion.
"No, not just your death. Your life! I'm going to kill you, Sailor
Moon, and then I'm going to live your life - - the way it should be
lived! No one will know the difference, because I'm your exact
double in almost every way."

"How?" Sailor Moon asked.

The duplicate sighed. "Fine, I'll try to explain it in one
syllable words. Do you remember that piece of glass in the garden?
The one you cut your finger on?"

Sailor Moon nodded numbly.

"That was me," her doppleganger proclaimed proudly. "I was one
of the shards of Queen Neherenia's mirror that rained down upon the
Earth. My sisters embedded themselves in people and enslaved them
for our Queen, or rose to become the advance troops of our Queen's
great army. But I became embedded in a patch of soft earth and could
not join my sisters in their fight. So I slept and waited for a
means to act."

"And I dug you up?"

"And supplied me with the single greatest gift anyone has
granted me since my fabled Queen gave me existence. That single drop
of blood from your finger provided me with a template to grow into
what I am now and gave me the power to ensure my place for all time.
Only you stood in my way, so you had to be eliminated. It was a
simple matter of isolating you from those who protect you. All I had
to do was touch them once. When I did that, I left a sliver of my
original crystalline form embedded in their skin. Upon the proper
signal from me, that sliver grew into a Dark Mirror, holding them
prisoner until I release them."

"But," stammered Sailor Moon, "why did you disguise yourself as
Sailor V?"

"You know the answer to that," smiled the replica. "One of
your fondest dreams has always been to be Sailor V, if only for a
day. Only your dreams of world peace and of marrying Mamoru outrank
it."

Sailor Moon glanced at Sailor Venus, trapped in her mirror
prison. The senshi stared back at her friend, amazed.

"But you never did it, because you were too timid! You were
afraid, afraid that you wouldn't measure up, that people would
ridicule you for it. I have the same dream, Sailor Moon. Only I
acted on it!"

"But where did you get her attacks? I can't do those things!"

"Of course you can, you blind little fool!" hissed her
reflection. "You possess the single greatest source of power in this
entire world! The Silver Crystal can do anything! Mimicking Sailor
V's attacks is child's play for it!"

"But . . ."

"That's right," she smiled, her eyes sparkling with malicious
glee, as she cupped her hands in front of her chest. A warp appeared
and out floated a replica of the Silver Crystal. "Neherenia's magic
can duplicate anything it mirrors, down to the smallest detail - -
which means I have a Silver Crystal, too."

Everyone stared down in shock and horror.

"You're wondering about your friends again," the reflection
grinned. "Don't worry. Once I've disposed of you, I'll release
them. After all, Sailor Moon needs her senshi. Of course, I'll have
to readjust their thoughts. Mamoru's, too. He is dreamy, but he's
just so stuffy and bland sometimes. The crystal will change that,
though." Her eyes twinkled when she took in Sailor Moon's growing
consternation. "Did you realize it could do that - - alter people's
thought patterns? No, of course not. That would require thinking.
Or courage. Think about it, Sailor Moon! All that time you wasted
hoping and dreaming for peace and harmony on the planet! And the
whole time you had the power to eliminate every angry or hateful
thought from every person on this world, but you were too stupid and
too timid to do it."

"You can't force people to embrace peace," Sailor Moon
maintained. "They have to do it willingly. If you were really my
duplicate, you'd know that."

"Poor Sailor Moon. You still can't grasp the concept. I'm
more than just a duplicate. I'm your mirror opposite! I have all
your thoughts and memories, all your powers and abilities, but where
you're weak, I'm strong. Where you're timid, I'm bold. Where you
squander your potential by eating too much or sleeping too much or
dreaming too much, I realize mine. Why I've lived more in the one
month I've existed than you have in seventeen years! You've wasted
all this potential dreaming. And it's time for the waste to end."

Sailor Moon stood her ground, but doubts were creeping into her
mind.

"I know what you're clinging to, Sailor Moon," her double said.
"That because I haven't attacked you yet, that I can't." Her
expression sobered into a look of malice. "Don't. The day I was
born, I could have walked right past your parents up to your room
and smothered you while you slept! And no one would have been the
wiser, except perhaps Luna."

"Then why didn't you?"

She stared at Sailor Moon like she was an utter imbecile and it
gave Sailor Moon chills. "It was too easy. Anyone can kill. I have
to prove my superiority to you, first - - prove that I deserve the
life you've squandered. And I will."

Suddenly a silver beam lanced out from the crystal levitating
before the double's chest. It struck Sailor Moon chest high. She
pitched backward, her cry of agony piercing the air. As Sailor Moon
tumbled to the ground, the captives as one strained against their
prisons. But they were held fast, caught like flies in amber.

Sailor Moon struggled to her knees, only to be struck again by
the silver beam. She tumbled onto her side, crying out again, and
was struck by a third blast for her efforts.

"Fight back!" growled the reflection. "You never want to
retaliate until forced! That's so stupid!"

Rolled into a ball, her face pressed into the grass, Sailor
Moon was helpless to do anything under the relentless onslaught of
the silver beam. How she could even survive under the assault was a
mystery to the horrified prisoners forced to watch what amounted to
her summary execution.

"Why do you do it?" asked her double. "Why hang on? Why take
so much punishment if you're not going to fight back? Oh, you're so
pathetic! You don't deserve this life! You've never deserved it!
Killing you will be doing the world the greatest favor anyone could
do! I hate you so!"

The beam struck her again. But before everyone's eyes, Sailor
Moon struggled to her knees. The battering of the energy from the
duplicate Silver Crystal continued, but she didn't seem to feel it as
much. Though her body quivered from the punishment it took, Sailor
Moon was able to lift her chin so that she could look at the woman
assaulting her, the woman that sought to replace her.

Her mouth was pulled back in a smile. And it wasn't the noble,
charitable smile that so often was seen decorating her face. This
smile was gleeful, confident - - it was a smile filled with hope.
Sailor Moon's would-be replacement stared at the unnervingly hopeful
smile with growing confusion and unease. She struck at the girl
again with her silver crystal, but she couldn't make her fondest wish
come true.

As the senshi struggled to her feet, shaken but unbowed, her
other rained down silver energy from her crystal, frantically trying
to destroy Sailor Moon. But Sailor Moon shook off the assault more
and more easily.

"Why aren't you dead?" wailed Sailor Eclipse. "I don't
understand!"

"Yes you do," Sailor Moon said, calmly but with ill-concealed
satisfaction. "You just won't let yourself believe it." She began
walking toward her mirror image, the silver energy now no more
harmful to her than the rays of a sunny day. "The Silver Crystal is
powered by love. Love makes it strong. But when you feed it hatred,
you only drain it of its power."

"No!" her double cried, wide-eyed with the horror of her
realization.

"Let me demonstrate," Sailor Moon said, the Moon Tier appearing
in her hands. "Let me heal you. Silver Moon Crystal Power Kiss."

The true silver energy bathed Sailor Eclipse. Instantly she
was gripped by a seizure. She howled in agony as, to Sailor Moon's
dismay and revulsion, her clothes, skin and muscles began to bubble
and evaporate from her body. Overcome by the unexpected, horrible
sight, Sailor Moon turned away. When she looked back, all that was
left standing was a humanoid mannequin made of reflective crystalline
glass. The thing took a single shuffling step towards Sailor Moon,
only to have its weight produce ugly cracks and fissures on its
forward foot.

In an eye-blink, the fissures traveled the length of its body,
leaving it spider-webbed with cracks. Bereft of cohesion, the
crystalline exploded outward in thousands of razor shards. Sailor
Moon flinched away, throwing up an energy shield, but not before one
of the deadly shards whizzed past her and sliced across her cheek.

Looking back, she saw her friends free of their mirror prisons.
Tuxedo Mask got to her first. He took her up in his strong arms and
gazed deep into her eyes.

"Are you all right?" he asked, his concern evident in his tone.
A gloved thumb wiped at the trickle of blood on her cheek.

"Yes," she said, then buried her face in his chest. "But I've
just seen how ugly my life could have been if I'd have taken a
different path. Hold me, Mamo-chan," and she clung to him. Feeling
his arms around her, feeling the hands of her friends on her
shoulders and Luna rubbing against her ankle, Sailor Moon told
herself the worst was over.

Now she just had to believe it.
* * * *
Ami walked into the classroom. Once more, she was the first
one there. It was still difficult. There was a dread in her for the
coming days and weeks - - and months. But a person had to face her
problems. She'd learned through bitter experience that running away
never solved them.

Hearing someone enter, she turned - - and saw Komatsu-sensei.
Her throat went dry, but she suppressed the urge to flee and went to
her desk.

"Good morning, Mizuno-chan," he said quietly.

"Good morning, Komatsu-sensei," she managed to whisper.

"I came in early because I was hoping to speak to you," he
said. She looked up and saw him standing by the desk ahead of hers.
"Even so, you beat me here. That's admirable dedication."

"Thank you," she said, looking down to her books again.

"Mizuno-chan," he began. "I realize how awkward being in this
class may be from now on. I don't want to have to put you through
that, particularly if it's going to affect your learning. If you'd
feel more comfortable transferring to another class, I'll expedite
the paperwork. The decision is yours, though."

Ami considered the offer.

"Thank you for considering my feelings, Komatsu-sensei," she
said. She seemed to take in a breath to steady herself. "I'll stay
here, though. All my friends are in this class and they're very
important to me."

"There's something to be said for that, too," he smiled, using
that dreamy smile that once more made her heart skip a beat. "As you
wish, Mizuno-chan." He got up to go. "I'm sorry this had to happen.
You're a very sweet, intelligent girl. I hope you find the one
you're destined to be with."

As he walked to his lectern, Usagi popped in through the door.
She spotted Ami and waved, smiling joyously.

"I think I already have," Ami whispered to herself, in
melancholy resignation.
* * * *
Minako walked up to the school gate. As she passed through,
she spotted Makoto waiting by the door. Conflicted feelings swept
through her, but she never backed down from a potential challenge, so
she kept walking.

"Got a minute?" Makoto asked.

"I guess," Minako replied.

Makoto looked down, then squared her shoulders and faced
Minako.

"I want to apologize," Makoto said. "I should have believed in
you."

"Yeah, you should have," Minako replied.

"No, don't make it easy for me," Makoto muttered. "Yeah,
you're right. I should have. That's why I'm apologizing, thick
head. I'm sorry. You're my friend and I should have believed in
you. And, it's more. Look, it's like Usagi always says - - we're
family. All of us. And that's real important to me, because you
four are pretty much all the family I've got left. And I really want
you to be a part of my family, Minako. I do."

Minako looked down, uncomfortable.

"But you've got to understand something, Minako. As much as I
want to stay friends with you and the others, if a situation comes
along where I have to choose between you and Usagi, I've got to
choose Usagi - - just like I'd expect you to choose Usagi if you had
to choose between her and me. That's why we're here, you know? If
that bruises your ego, I'm sorry, but that's the way it's got to be."

Minako sighed. "I know."

"But I still should have handled it better. Friends again?"
Makoto asked hopefully. She extended her fist about waist high, with
the bent middle finger jutting out.

"Friends again," Minako grinned tentatively. She made the same
fist with her hand and touched middle fingers. Makoto patted her on
the back and they walked into the school together.

"Good," Makoto said, bringing a small sack out from behind her
back, "because otherwise I was going to have to take these cookies I
baked as a peace offering and eat them all by myself."

"For me?" Minako asked hopefully.

"Chocolate chip," Makoto grinned.

"Chocolate chip!" Minako sobbed dramatically. "Those'll go
right to my hips!"

Makoto shrugged. "Well, then I'll just keep . . ."

"Gimme!" Minako said, snatching the bag from Makoto's hand.
Makoto chuckled as they walked to class.

END