Chapter 1: "The Dreaded Secret"

A Neo-Sailor Moon fanfic

By Bill K.

Sailor Moon and all related characters are (c)2010 by Naoko Takeuchi/Kodansha and Toei Animation and are used without permission, but with respect. Story is (c)2010 by Bill K.

As Hotaru Tomoe walked through the front gate of the palace of Crystal Tokyo, she wished for a fleeting moment that she could turn invisible. It wasn't the first time she'd wished such a thing in her short and occasionally troubled life. Sometimes it seemed like that ability would be the easy answer to a lot of her difficulties. The only thing that gave her the strength to continue was feeling Yutaka next to her, his sturdy masculine frame helping her to move forward. But as wonderful as it was to feel him beside her, his arm around her waist, he was part of the problem. She glanced up at the chronometer on the wall by the guard station. So was the time.

"Getting in a little late, aren't you?" Moriko asked as she stood in the doorway of the guard station. Moriko, the fox spirit recently turned human, was dressed in a palace security uniform and was one of the guards working the gate third shift. Only recently she'd cut her long russet hair to shoulder length, to try to reduce the resemblance she had to the Queen and to Princess Usagi. But seeing her smiling almost knowingly with that face was still unnerving to Hotaru.

"We lost track of time," Hotaru offered a little too quickly. Yutaka didn't add anything, as if he didn't trust himself to speak.

"That's probably easy to do when you're having fun," Moriko offered benignly. "I promise I won't say anything."

The couple nodded. They paused at the lift door and kissed, deeply and lovingly. Only then did they seem to relax and become natural. Moriko and her supervisor both smiled at the display. When they finally parted, Hotaru stepped into the lift and headed up to the floor her quarters were on. She didn't want to part from him, but knew she had to. The time hadn't come yet where she and Yutaka could spend their lives together. And she still had obligations to others.

And questions to face. As Hotaru walked down the corridor toward her quarters, the fear began to grow within her. Her Haruka-Papa would be waiting up. She always was. And there would be questions, because she was late. And there would always be the backhanded put-downs of Yutaka, because Haruka-Papa didn't like him. And oh would there be trouble if she found out what really happened. Hotaru paused at the door until the computer scanned her, recognized her and passed her in. Sure enough, there was Haruka, lightly dozing in a chair in the front room. Any hope Hotaru had of sneaking past her and into her room vanished when the pneumatic hiss of the door woke Haruka up.

"Oh, you're back," Haruka mumbled and squinted at the nearest chronometer.

"I know I'm late," sighed Hotaru. "I'm sorry. Yutaka and I lost track of time."

Haruka looked at her charge, almost like she was trying to read the teen's mind.

"Did you have fun?" Haruka asked, inscrutable as always.

"Yes," Hotaru replied, reflexively casting her eyes to the floor. Silently cursing herself, she forced herself to engage Haruka's eyes again.

"Where did you go?"

"Around," Hotaru answered and instantly realized how guilty the vague response sounded. "We went driving in Yutaka's new hover car. The one he bought last month. We went up to Sakura Hill - - and other places. Yutaka really likes driving his new vehicle."

"Guess I can relate," Haruka shrugged.

"I'm going to go to bed now," Hotaru stated. She moved for her room, hoping Haruka wouldn't stop her.

For her part, Haruka let Hotaru go. She could sense the nervousness of the girl. Something had happened. But it didn't seem like whatever happened was upsetting Hotaru. It seemed more like Hotaru was worried about other people finding out. Or maybe just certain other people.

In the bedroom she shared with Michiru, Haruka stripped out of her clothes and slid into bed next to the woman she loved. The action caused Michiru to stir.

"Hotaru finally back?" Michiru asked.

"Yeah," Haruka replied.

"You see, she didn't turn into a pumpkin," Michiru needled.

"Go back to sleep," Haruka told her. "You're not making any sense."

"Was everything all right?" Michiru asked, teetering on the brink of sleep again. "Or did she come home pregnant?"

Michiru said it in jest and drifted off to sleep again. For her part, Haruka just lay in bed and stared up into the darkness.

"I sure hope not," the woman mumbled, running her fingers through her sandy hair.

Once the door to her room closed and she was certain that Haruka wasn't going to enter, Hotaru engaged her computer and put in a call to the first person she confided anything to. After seven anxious beeps, the screen finally engaged. The Princess Usagi, eyelids drooping and strands of pink hair in her face, looked at her from the monitor.

"Hotaru? What time is it?" mumbled the Princess.

"I'm sorry for waking you, Usa," pleaded Hotaru, "but I just had to tell SOMEONE! Yutaka and I just got back from our date. Usa - - we did it."

"Did what?" Usa asked, still gathering her wits.

"USA!" fumed Hotaru. "IT!"

"You mean 'the big it'?" Usa gasped, suddenly wide awake.

"UM HMM!" beamed Hotaru.

"Well, don't just sit there, girl! Tell me EVERYTHING!" the Princess demanded.

And from under Usa's bed, Diana perked her head up and turned an ear to the conversation.

When Usa said her good-bye to her father upon exiting the Royal Chambers in the morning - - The Queen, naturally, was still asleep since it was only eight a.m. - - she had a surprise waiting for her outside the Chambers.

"Hotaru?" Usa exclaimed.

"H-Hi," Hotaru replied with a smile that seemed almost like a grimace. "I hope you don't mind me waiting for you."

"No," Usa told her. "You should have come on in. You're always welcome."

"I didn't want to intrude on your family time."

"So why are you out so early?" Usa asked as they began in the general direction of the cafeteria. Hotaru didn't answer right away. When the Princess noticed, she also noticed something else. "Is something wrong?"

Hotaru seemed to take on the demeanor of a desperate escapee.

"You know you can tell me anything," Usa reiterated.

"I know," Hotaru said. She took a breath to summon her courage. "Well, you know what happened last night, right?"

"Do I? It was the best hour I ever spent outside of the time I did it with Helios," smiled the girl. She quickly became serious. "There isn't trouble between you two already, is there?"

"No!" Hotaru answered quickly. Then she grew somber again. "It's just - - I'm afraid."

"Of what? That he won't love you anymore?"

"No. I'm," and Hotaru paused again. Extracting the words seemed to cause the teen no end of pain. Finally she sighed in frustration. "I'm afraid of what Papa will do - - if she finds out."

"Haruka?" Usa asked. "Why would she do anything?"

"Papa doesn't like Yutaka," Hotaru began. There was a slight edge of bitterness in her tone. "She never uses his name. She always calls him 'that boy'. And she's always suspicious of him. I just know she thinks Yutaka is only interested in me to - - to get me in bed. I guess I understand why she'd think that."

"You're not going to start putting your looks down again, are you?" sighed Usa.

"Well, we all know I'm not the beauty queen in our group," Hotaru maintained. "But it's more than that. Papa really doesn't really - - warm up to men very easily. I suppose it's understandable, given who she is - - and what happened to her. Even though it was so long ago, it's something you never forget."

"What happened to her?" Usa asked. Hotaru glanced at her friend with growing horror.

"Nobody ever told you?" Hotaru gasped. Usa shook her head innocently. "Um, well, never mind. But something happened a long time ago and I don't think she trusts men very easily because of it."

"And you think she's going to freak if she finds out you and Yutaka had sex?" Usa asked. Hotaru nodded forlornly. "It's hard to believe that. Then again, Haruka does have a temper."

"I know!" Hotaru almost sobbed. "What if she forbids me to see him again? What if she goes after him?"

"Aunt Michiru would never let her do that," Usa responded, "would she?"

"What if Mama can't stop her?"

"If there's anybody on this planet who can stop Haruka - - other than Mom," Usa assured her, "it's Aunt Michiru. Still, maybe you and Yutaka better cool it for a while until you can maybe tell Aunt Michiru and the both of you work on Haruka."

"I was afraid you'd say that," Hotaru replied and the disappointment was clear on her. Usa put her hand on her friend's shoulder.

"Girlfriend, I've been there. I know just what you're feeling."

Entering the cafeteria, the pair found the four Amazons waiting at their usual table. They all looked up from their meals.

"Good morning, Princess!" exclaimed Palla-Palla. "Good morning, Miss Hotaru Ma'am!"

"What are you two cooking up?" Cere asked. Jun had her eye on them as well.

"What makes you think we're cooking up anything?" Usa shot back.

"We can always tell when you two have been trading secrets," Cere grinned. "Besides, Hotaru usually comes to the cafeteria on her own. So, what's up?"

"Nothing important," Usa replied. Hotaru sat down uncomfortably.

"Ah, she was probably telling Hotaru about how she snuck into Helios's quarters and they did the horizontal," snickered Ves in between bites. Instantly Hotaru went beet red.

"That's got to be it," Jun smirked. "Hotaru's blushing."

"You bunch of gossips don't know what you're talking about," Usa grumbled.

Unnoticed by the others, Hotaru saw Palla-Palla pause for a moment and look directly at Hotaru. Then she smiled warmly and went back to shoveling Sugar Bombs cereal into her mouth.

"Great," Hotaru thought. "Someone else knows now."

"OK, class," Makoto Kino announced, "go to World History chapter 522.2 on your monitors. Today we're going to be covering late twenty-ninth century Colombia."

"Why?" groaned Ves as the others complied. "We don't live in Colombia. None of us are from Colombia."

"Ves, do you know what a North American bald eagle is?" Makoto asked her.

"Sure," Ves replied, confused by the question.

"Why?" Makoto continued. "It's not from Brasilia and it's not native to Japan."

"It's handy to know," Ves answered, "especially for me. What's that got to do with Colombia?"

"Colombian history, particularly this stretch of Colombian history, is also handy to know," Makoto told her.

"I don't get it," Ves persisted.

"There's a shock," muttered Cere. Palla-Palla giggled.

"Ves, there's an old saying: You don't repeat the history you know," Makoto told her.

"Actually," Usa interjected, "the saying is: Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it." Everyone looked at Makoto with cocked eyebrows, except Palla-Palla.

"Yeah, what she said," Makoto chuckled.

"Is this going to cover the Almonte regime?" Usa asked.

"Do you remember it?" Makoto asked.

"A little," Usa shrugged. "But mostly I only know what I've read on my own. I suppose we do need to know about it. After all, I did kind of indirectly end it."

"For real?" Ves gaped. This caught the attention of the others, too.

"Oh, interested now?" Makoto asked, smiling ironically. "Computer, engage visual aide sequence for World History 522.2."

The picture of a Colombian military general came up on the screen behind Makoto's lectern. It was a picture of a man, clearly of Spanish and Incan descent. He was in his early sixties with a lined face and hard, dark eyes. His eyebrows were heavy and a thick black mustache covered his upper lip, though his black hair was thinning with age. The image he projected was of a man used to leading and unafraid to use force to get his way.

"This is General Carlos Miguel Almonte," Makoto outlined. "In 2958, Colombia was devastated by a magnitude eight earthquake along the coastline and a three year drought brought on by climate change. Centuries of deforestation of the Amazon jungle by Colombia and Brazil shifted the weather patterns and ruined the agriculture beyond even the ability of computerized irrigation and hydroponics to stem. The deforestation is also thought to be responsible for massive mud-slides that occurred when it actually did rain. Well, because of all of this, the Colombian economy tanked and sent the country into a massive depression.

"That's when General Almonte seized power on August 18, 2958," Makoto continued. "As a means of controlling chaos, he instituted total government control of the media, the banks and all major industry. A lot of the personal freedoms of the citizens were suspended, until the country got back on its feet, and robotic video surveillance of the entire country was instituted."

"Let me guess," Cere ventured. "Once the country got back on its feet, he didn't give back any of the control he took?"

"Afraid not," Makoto nodded.

"That wasn't nice!" Palla-Palla proclaimed.

"How many times has this happened in history?" Jun marveled. "Don't people ever learn?"

"A lot of times people only think as far as their own personal comfort," Usa answered, "until it's too late."

"So why didn't the people just get together and toss this guy out?" Ves asked.

"Because he had control of the food supply, so if you didn't cooperate, you didn't eat," Makoto explained. "And he had control of the utilities and social services, so if you didn't obey, you went without water and light and energy. Or he could just take your home and evict you, because he controlled the courts. But that didn't stop some people. From about 2962 on, there were periodic eruptions of organized resistance. However, Almonte also controlled the police and the army, and had state-of-the-art surveillance electronics, something the people didn't have."

"Sort of like King Endymion?" Jun observed.

"Peripherally," Makoto replied uneasily. "But Almonte used it to protect his position instead of protect the people. So, whenever someone began to organize a resistance, they would disappear."

"Disappear?" Cere asked.

Makoto grew very serious. "They would be arrested, tried for treason or anarchy or some other charge and be put in prison. And from there, they would never be seen again."

"They'd kill them?" Jun gaped.

"Nobody knows," Makoto scowled. "Nobody survives from that time, that anyone knows of. None of the sixteen million prisoners it's estimated were jailed between 2962 and 2984 were ever seen again. All of the police and military involved in the government arrests and imprisonments during that period either died of natural causes, escaped into anonymity after the fall of 2984, or died either during the invasion or the coup that happened after. Most folks ;outside of Colombia don't know what happened to the prisoners. The Colombians don't like to talk much about it. In Colombia, they're just referred to as 'The Ghosts That Haunt Bogota'."

"Wow," Cere whispered. "I remember Mom and Dad talking about that once."

"Didn't King Endymion or Queen Serenity try to intervene and help those people?" Hotaru asked.

"Well," Makoto sighed, "we only learned about a lot of this stuff after the government fell. When General Almonte took over, he closed the country to everybody - - and I mean EVERYBODY. Endymion offered aid when the economy first collapsed, but Almonte refused it. They offered diplomatic relations several times after that, but Almonte wouldn't have any part of it - - not with us, not with anybody. Nobody here liked it, but Serenity didn't want to look like she was trying to impose her will on them. And at the time, relations weren't too good between Japan and China, so we had other things to worry about." Makoto frowned. "If we had known, I know Serenity would have stepped in. But General Almonte had a blackout over the whole country and the only time he ever seemed to contact the outside world was to buy weapons or upgrade electronics. So nobody knew."

"OK, how does the Princess figure into this?" Ves asked.

"The date doesn't suggest anything to you?" Makoto asked, her eyebrow raised. Ves returned only a blank look, eliciting a grin from Makoto. Then she sobered and glanced at Usa.

"That's the year I stole the silver crystal from Mom," Usa confessed. "That left her vulnerable to an attack from the Dark Moon forces. Mom was sent into a coma. Pop was thrown out of phase with this reality. And Prince Dimando started his takeover of the world." Usa looked down, scowling with guilt.

"2984?" Ves asked. "I think I vaguely remember that."

"Yeah, we felt that even in Brasilia," Cere recalled. "All those weird space ships in the sky. And I remember hiding in my bedroom from the black drones patrolling the street."

"Well, Dimando's drones landed in Colombia, too," Makoto informed them. "General Almonte and the military were all killed, except for the ones who may have fled. And the power vacuum that happened in Colombia after Dimando was defeated was filled by a dissident government who instituted the current . . ."

Suddenly, Makoto stopped and looked with concern at Palla-Palla. The girl was staring blankly at the screen behind the lectern. Alerted, the others turned to her as Makoto moved to the teen. She knelt down next to Palla-Palla and put her hand on the teen's shoulder.

"Palla-Palla, honey," Makoto cooed. "Are you OK?" The teen didn't respond. Makoto glanced at the screen, which displayed a picture of General Almonte flanked on a podium by several of his ranking military officers.

"Hey, Stupid," Ves asked, concerned. "What's up? You get a vision?"

Blankly Palla-Palla raised her right arm and pointed at the screen, specifically at the officer on General Almonte's far left.

"Who is he?" Ves asked Makoto. However, Palla-Palla answered.

"Jun-Jun's daddy," she mumbled distantly.

Continued in Chapter 2