Disclaimer: I've got good feelings about this chapter
Beautiful Destroyer Sailor Moon
Dark Justice Part 3: The Goal of Evil
I rambled with the worst of them
Fell in love with a harlequin
Saw the darkest hearts of men
And I saw myself staring back again!
And I saw myself staring back again!
"She ran away again."
Usagi was calm after receiving the bad news from Rei. It wasn't the first time that Makoto had decided she was going to go it alone and not be a team player, after all. However, her serenity didn't change the gravity of the situation–Makoto was out there looking for blood, and if she was really going to do it… then the worst possible scenario was looking her, all the other Sailor Senshi, dead in the eyes.
"What are we going to do?" Rei quietly asked her.
Usagi, who was sitting at her vanity, brushing out her hair before bed, stared via the mirror at Rei for a moment. Rei had come all the way meet her at her house after her return from Narita, despite the late hour, to discuss the emergency.
"She's going to look for Balalaika, so we deal with her when she makes a move," Usagi divined.
"Yes, but what will she do until then, though? If she's really fine about being judge, jury, and executioner, then the regular criminals on the street are in big trouble," Rei said.
Usagi stopped brushing her hair, and set the brush down.
"A true hero will always remember the difference between pursuing justice and seeking revenge. That is what Kamen Raider taught me, and that is why I believe in Mako-chan," she said.
"She was going to kill someone, Usagi!" Rei suddenly said.
Usagi shook her head. "No she wasn't. She won't go that far."
Rei almost vehemently disagreed. "There is something seriously wrong with her, you can't just quote a television show and expect everything to be a-okay! We have to do something!"
Usagi turned around to face Rei. "One, my walls are very thin. Two, you're being very loud."
Rei stopped herself and bowed her head. "S-sorry."
Usagi leaned against her vanity and looked away from Rei and out the window that she came in through. "I am going to do something about her, we all are. Right now, though… we're just going to have to put that on the back burner. It's pretty flippin' obvious that these terrorist guys started all of this to draw Hotel Moscow here into a fight."
She then gestured with an upraised palm to Rei. "Even then… we'll cross paths with Mako-chan sooner than later."
"But what if she hurts someone, or worse?" Rei asked.
Usagi let her hand drop. A sound, like a resigned sigh, left her lips. As much as she believed in Makoto, there was a dangerously high chance she was exactly as Rei said she was (and she had no reason not to believe her) and the only real option they would have would be to fight her… and maybe even put her down if she went too far.
The thought of Sailor Senshi fighting Sailor Senshi was a terrifying one, even to Usagi.
She shook the grim possibility from her head. "Like I said, she won't. I trust Mako-chan to do the right thing… I have to trust her, just like I trust you and Ami-chan."
Rei watched Usagi as she got up from the vanity and slipped under her bedsheets to get comfortable. She was certainly right about the trust issue, especially with the recent battle with Beryl still fresh in their heads, and Makoto's physical domination of Usagi at every opportunity.
"You're a good leader, Usagi-chan," she said softly.
"It's because you all love me, is all," Usagi reassured her. "Well, except you. You have a thing for bald men."
Rei scowled at her. "He's not bald!"
Usagi grinned. "Let me guess, you've pulled his hair enough to know?"
Rei went from scowling to flushing brightly. "Th-that's none of your business."
She then looked to the side, her flush growing a shade darker around her eyes, almost like a raccoon's, before she spoke in a very quiet voice. "But yes, I have."
Usagi went from grinning to pouting. "I want you to pull my hair, Aho-chan."
Rei grabbed one of Usagi's pillows and threw it at her face. "Pervert!"
Usagi peeked out from under the pillow, a much warmer smile on her face. "Thanks for the vote of confidence, though. Things are getting tougher, and even I'm going to need reminders that we're on the right path, yannow?"
Rei nodded. "I will always believe in you."
"And love me?" Usagi then cooed.
"As a dear friend," Rei promised.
Usagi accepted that, after all trying to steal baldy's girl was the douchiest thing she could ever do, even if she hated how hot he was.
Rei did get up and lean over to kiss her on the cheek, before she rose and pushed her long black hair from her face. "I really should go meet up with Ami-chan."
"Have a good night, and be careful out there, Rei-chan," Usagi said.
Rei smiled back, before she climbed out the window, and dropped to the ground outside soon as she saw it was clear, transforming to Sailor Mars on her way down.
Reaching out with one foot, Usagi shut her window and then retreated under the warmth of her blanket to escape the chill that had rushed in. She got comfortable, settling into her pillow and staring up at the ceiling of her room.
Usagi was perceptive, frighteningly so, and Rei was a much easier read than Ami and Makoto (who themselves weren't much of a challenge). She was worried that her mental state could be as badly frayed as Makoto's was, and why wouldn't it?
Being effectively beaten in a straight fight by Beryl?
Watching the other Senshi reach get powers that dwarfed her own?
Being unable to do anything as people in her town get hurt…?
She slammed her fist on the bed with a loud thump, took a deep breath, and relaxed.
"I'm not going to give in," she vowed, before she settled into sleep.
The Paradise Lights Parlour and the street around it was still closed off for the investigation, but the shopping center across the street had escaped any damage at all. With Christmas closer than ever, the resilience of Tokyo's population showed as they shopped even as investigators continued to pick through what the remains of the terrorist bombing.
Among the shoppers, a twenty-five year old woman with brown hair, brown eyes, and dressed in a long, felt winter coat walked with a pen and pad in her hand. On the paper, several names were scrawled out on it by the ostentatious pen she held in her left hand.
Makoto was actually rather surprised that the Disguise Pen could also work as a pen. She was even more surprised when she found her Transformation Pen had the same functionality–but that was beside the point.
She had been busying herself since she had broken off from the other girls two days ago, hunting for clues. It was easier than she thought it'd be thanks to what little she could get from Ginji the night before. She had given away a large sum of money and a car to a friend, and the only friends Yukio had were from school–even if they were all mostly to keep up the appearances of a normal girl.
After interviewing a few students outside of the school that morning, she was pointed to her current objective, a girl named Kageyama Maki who worked at a clothing store here in the shopping center. Despite the recent death of her friend, and the bequeathment of a very tidy sum of money and a luxury sports car, she was still working there.
From her notepad, Makoto looked up at the sign of the clothing store where the young lady worked. "Big Boutique!" the bright white symbols advertised back against a rainbow banner. One look through the window told Makoto exactly what to look forward to as she walked in.
"Hello, and welcome to Big Boutique!" a cheerful young woman dressed up as Sailor Mercury greeted the disguised Makoto the moment she passed through the door. "The ultimate store for costume and cosplay!"
Makoto hesitated for a moment, at the accuracy of the cosplayer's outfit. "Ah…"
"How can I help you, today?" the cosplayer asked as she walked over in hopes of leading her latest guest towards something expensive.
Makoto quickly cleared her throat. "Ah, my apologies, but I'm actually here to speak to one of your coworkers. Is Kageyama Maki-san here?"
Cosplay Mercury was about to ask the purpose of the visit, when Makoto produced a Tokyo Metropolitan Police badge. "Ah! You're an investigator."
"Yes, Detective Misaka of the Special Investigation Team," Makoto replied. "There are some questions that I wanted to ask Kageyama-san."
Cosplay Mercury looked at the badge, and then frowned. "Ah, that's me…"
Maki gestured to her outfit. "I'm pretty good at this cosplay stuff, you know? It makes it easy to hide from all the people who keep trying to ask me about what happened."
Makoto nodded. "Trust me, I understand wanting to hide after what you've been through. Is there a place where we can talk in private?"
Maki nodded. "Oh yes, this way."
She led Makoto to the very back of the store, near where the changing rooms were located. They headed down an down an aisle filled with numerous variations of Sailor Senshi fuku. There were also jewelry and even masks, some fairly accurate and others looking like the sort one would only wear if they were robbing a bank or starring in some very questionable film.
When she saw a mask for Sailor Jupiter with a lewd "banged-silly" expression, she wondered exactly if high schoolers should even be working here.
"Sailor Senshi costumes are pretty popular, aren't they?" Makoto asked her.
"The Sailor Fukus are very popular. With Comiket just a few days away, everyone wants to be a Sailor Senshi," Maki replied. "Though ninety percent of the customers seem to be guys."
Makoto managed a small, weak smile. "Well, I'm not going to judge…"
They reached the back of the store, and entered. There, Maki removed the Sailor Mercury wig, revealing her dark, almost gray hair trapped under a hair net. She then sat down at a desk next to one of the two densely packed shelves of overstock and damaged items in the long, narrow back room. There was nowhere for Makoto to sit, but that was fine.
"I already gave a statement before, but they told me that there would be follow-up questions, did something happen?"
Makoto nodded. "Yes, Washimine-san may have left some important documentation with you at the time of her death. Do you recall any of it?"
Maki looked downcast. "I don't know if she did. I haven't looked at the car or the money since she gave it to me. I thought you police would confiscate it, but she really did leave it all to me, it was clean and legal."
She sat back against the chair, forlorn. "I don't want to touch it, or even look at it. It just reminds me so much of her and everything that happened."
This was surprising to Makoto, Yukio had a good friend here. "You really cared for her, didn't you?"
"How could I not? Yukio-senpai was always so smart and polite, and she insisted on being my friend despite me coming to her for help with my schoolwork all the time, or talking about stuff she didn't seem very interested in. She was my best friend…"
Maki heaved a sigh. "She probably did leave something in the car, with all the money. The police had me put in a secure storage unit, to keep people from trying to get into it."
"I heard as much," Makoto said. "Would you be willing to take me to where you've stored it?"
"I can give you the address and you can see for yourself," Maki said. "Like I said… I don't want to even look at it right now."
"It's all right," Makoto assured her.
Maki shook her head. "No, it's not. I wish I had known something was wrong. Or that I could've been a little faster, then maybe senpai wouldn't have…"
"Don't blame yourself," Makoto said, "There were–are people much closer to her who could've done something… but they didn't. They wouldn't."
Maki stayed downcast. "Should I blame them, then?"
Makoto stared down at the high schooler girl, before she slowly nodded.
"Yes, blame them for everything."
For Beryl and her machinations, the only real threat that existed were the Sailor Senshi. Nearly every other factor on Earth, known or unknown, could be swept aside with little difficulty. The best anyone below their level of power could do was hide and scheme, and somehow factor the Sailor Senshi towards defeating the Dark Kingdom. That was the conclusion Nephrite came to, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Police were doing exactly that.
The rhetoric of criminalizing the Sailor Senshi's actions even had Beryl fooled. They had him fooled. From the beginning, they'd been working with the Senshi, sharing information and resources along with the Masquerade, and the results were surprising.
For almost a month, Nephrite had been completely cut off from the world. He could not sense any dark energy or use it, the apartment he was living in seemed to have every possible safeguard in place to seal him in. He wasn't sure how it was possible, but his best theory was that it was a spiritual barrier that could negate dark energy.
Drawing his hand from the wall, he walked over to the couch in the living room of the well-furnished apartment and sat down. As a man quite comfortable in solitude, he'd spent much of the month reading, watching movies from the collection provided to him, and meditating. There wasn't much else to do in his predicament, until he was needed by his captors.
Still, he missed the outside world, he missed being able to drive, but above it all he missed her.
"Mayumi…" he murmured to himself, before he heard a knock at his door.
Getting up, he walked over and opened the door. There stood an unexpected visitor.
"Hello, Nephrite," Tuxedo Kamen said as he removed his tophat.
Stepping back, Nephrite gestured for him to enter, and the well-dressed crusader strolled on, hat in one hand, cane in the other. He looked around at the windowless, but still nice digs.
"They set you up better than I expected, that's good," he said.
"I have plenty of mental stimulation, but no phone, no internet, no anything to reach the outside world. I can only watch movies and not much else," Nephrite replied.
Tuxedo Kamen nodded. "That's about right. They wanted you well-kept…"
Nephrite folded his arms as he walked around Tuxedo Kamen slowly. "What brings you to me?"
"Well, the police are in need of a little bit more firepower than what they already have. Since the Sailor Senshi and my Masquerade won't have you anywhere near until you start proving your sincerity, it was decided that this would be a good place for you to start redeeming yourself."
Nephrite nodded. "And the police agree with that?"
"I wouldn't be here offering it to you, if they didn't." Tuxedo Kamen reached into his suit jacket, and pulled out a wallet with a badge. "Superintendent-Sakurada wants to make you part of the Lost Dogs Taskforce. Join them and do some real good for these people in Tokyo, and that'll get you started towards making good with Jadeite and the rest of us."
Nephrite stared down at the badge, before he looked up at Tuxedo Kamen. "You seem to believe in me."
Tuxedo Kamen let out something of an amused laugh. "Sailor Moon doesn't believe you redeeming yourself is impossible, and I don't either. You will need to be ready to really suffer to get there–because you're pretty much going to."
Nephrite gripped the badge. "So you mean that this won't keep me safe from Jadeite, will it?"
"It won't," Tuxedo Kamen admitted, "But that's what you have to work for. You have to atone for everything, for the people you've hurt, the trusts you betrayed, and the friendships you've broken. It's not going to happen overnight, it's might not even happen for a few years, but you're going to get there and it all starts here and now."
Tuxedo Kamen indicated the badge before looking to his face. "You're a smart man, too smart for your own good but just the sort that this world needs to win against the Dark Kingdom."
Nephrite nodded, but something bothered him. "Sailor Moon and all of her wide-eyed idealism I can understand… but what's your investment in my well-being? You're close friends with Jadeite… inexplicably."
"It's not as out of nowhere as you think. You may not remember it, old friend, but I certainly do." Tuxedo Kamen reached up to his domino mask, and pulled it from his face. "We go back a very long time."
When Nephrite saw the face under the mask, he was suddenly struck with surprise and amazement. He'd seen the face of Mamoru Chiba more than a few times during his time in Tokyo and his careful plotting… but it was certainly not Mamoru Chiba that he was seeing at the moment.
Seeing Nephrite genuinely off his guard, Endymion couldn't help his amused chuckle. "The look on a genius's face when they're blindsided is always priceless."
Nephrite took a step back. "You've been Tuxedo Kamen all this time…!"
"I wanted to be Batman, but if there's one thing worse than the Dark Kingdom, it's a very determined lawyer with a Cease and Desist order," Endymion joked.
Nephrite's composure returned, but he was still shaken. "Beryl said if you were anything like the Sailor Senshi… you would have almost no memory of your previous life."
Endymion nodded. "That's correct actually, but I know that I am Endymion, of the Golden Kingdom of Elysium. I know that you, Jadeite, Zoisite, and Kunzite were once my dear comrades, and the nine Sailor Senshi were the guardians of our humble star and the planets that orbited it. There's more, but…"
For a moment, Endymion recalled his first vision, as a young boy, of the Princess calling for him to find the Silver Crystal, and awaken her from her long sleep…
"What's important is that you are made very clear why I believe in you, Nephrite. You are someone who means a tremendous amount to me, and I am willing to forgive you for what you've done." He placed a hand on Nephrite's shoulder and gave it a reassuring squeeze. "You are worthy of redemption, and you will earn it."
Nephrite looked from Endymion's hand to his face, and the determination in his eyes. To have such faith in him, it was surprisingly moving. "Hmph… you're every bit as idealistic as Sailor Moon is."
"That's why I love her," Endymion said as he drew back his hand. He replaced his mask, becoming Tuxedo Kamen once again and going to the door. "As soon as I leave, Superintendent-General Sakurada will be along to give you your marching orders. Do your best out there, okay old friend?"
Nephrite turned to Tuxedo Kamen, before resting his arm across his chest and bowing. "… As you command, my Prince."
"Please, Nephrite…" Tuxedo Kamen said with a smirk he couldn't help.
"Call me King."
Tuxedo Kamen exited the apartment with dramatic flourish, his cape unfurling behind him as he swept out the door. The cape's departure revealed Natsuna standing in the doorway, with her fan open and hiding the lower half of her face as she addressed Nephrite with her stare.
"Good afternoon, Sanjouin-san," she said.
Nephrite hummed. "Nephrite will suffice. What would you have me do?"
"We need you to do a reading to find someone," Natsuna said.
"Is that all?" Nephrite asked.
Natsuna shook her head briefly. "That depends on what you see when you do your divining, and how quickly we need to act."
In spite of her eventful arrival and the harsh scrutiny that the police had placed her under, Balalaika did not hesitate to get to work organizing her forces. Via cargo ship, over thirty of her best men had arrived to participate in the operation against the Kousa Council's enemies. In spite of the tight police surveillance, they were able to operate so far with near-impunity and the results were already rolling in.
"Reconnaissance of sites 371 and 372 were completed at 0130 and 0150 respectively by Corporal Daniel's teams completed reconnaissance of Site 215 without incident. Following completion of the mission, they returned to base by 0330."
Balalaika, who sat across from him at the table of the Russian Embassy's café, was enjoying a cup of tea. Seated to her left was her trusted, scarred Sergeant Boris, who was reading notes off a pad. Directly in front of her was Vasily Laptev, boss of the Russian Mafia in Tokyo and the man who summoned Balalaika to the country for a second time in as many years.
"At 0210 Corporal Jodorowsky's and Corporal Razal's teams completed their mission objectives, the reconnaissance of Site 220 and 227, they returned to base by 0400."
Balalaika lowered her cup of tea. "Boris, do we have Tsugio Bando's location?"
"High Value Target One's location was determined by Corporal Jodorowsky's team," Boris replied.
Balalaika nodded. "Very good. Inform them to go forward with the next operation as scheduled. Emissions Controls are to remain in place. No radios, phones, or computers are to be even turned on unless an emergency requires it."
"Yes, Kapitan, the Runners will be dispatched with the conclusion of our business here." Boris responded.
"Runners?" Laptev looked back and forth between them. To think that the great Balalaika of Hotel Moscow was relying on such a time-consuming form of messaging, she was that afraid of the authorities?
"The Civilian Police are keeping a very close eye on us. They were there to greet me in person two days ago, on top of the others enthusiastic to see me," she said calmly over her cup before taking a sip. It was rather good, she found.
"In response, we've organized an effective team of runners to send information to and from my men in the field. As it turns out, the abandoned underground shelter network from the Cold War is an effective means to move about unseen. It means that information is slower to travel, and they will have to work with greater autonomy in pursuing their objectives, but I wouldn't allow it if I didn't think they could operate under these conditions."
Laptev had been a nervous wreck since he'd heard of the plane crash–and the rumors that it'd been a terrorist attack. His fears that some kind of harm had come to Balalaika had vanished when he heard that she was unharmed… only to be replaced by the realization that she'd been led almost perfectly into a trap thanks to him.
He hid that terror well, however, thanks to one simple trick he discovered. He found in his dealing with the Japanese since he came to Tokyo, that he didn't show much emotion if he ate during these intense face-to-face meetings. Hence why despite it being not long after noon, he was carving into a steak meal normally prepared for dinner.
"Japan's information control is impressive enough to have you paranoid, hm?" Laptev asked lightly.
The look he got from Boris chilled him to the core. Balalaika lowered her tea, as she put her Sergeant's glare to words. "That's a rather insensitive thing for you to say, Vasily. Your utter lack of appreciation and respect for this country in the first place is what very well nearly got my second in command killed."
Laptev tried not to choke on the piece of steak he just swallowed. Balalaika's more neutral gaze bored into him with the same frightening effect as Boris' menacing glare.
"The only reason you're sitting here at all, with Tokyo's Yakuza pawing at your legs like kittens desperate for milk, is because you've boasted to those hopeless people about how you could summon us to fight at your whim, like we were monsters this country could not handle," Balalaika said dangerously to him.
Balalaika lifted her cup of tea and drank what was left, watching Laptev tremble.
She then set down the empty cup. "All of that bragging that you had my men and I in your back pocket made you the perfect patsy for these insurgents out to kill me."
Laptev recoiled. "What did you say?"
"Is it a shock to you?" Balalaika asked with something of a disgusted smirk. "For anyone with a sense of awareness, it shouldn't be; a more aware man would recognize that the severity of the attacks that brought the Kousa to him were nothing but a challenge aimed at me. The method and the execution were a well-penned love letter to Hotel Moscow inviting us to a fight to the death… and you handed it us without even considering it."
She closed her eyes and repressed a short laugh. Opening her right to look out the corner of it at Boris she asked, "Typical of Ex-KGB who pay their way to the top, isn't it?"
The corners of Boris's lips twitched upward almost imperceptibly. Laptev, who was shaking in anger more than fear now, slammed his fork and knife onto the table.
"Don't you dare mock me, Balalaika!" he shouted at her.
"I'm not mocking you, I'm actually praising you, my dear Vasily."
That stopped him. "What?"
At his baffled look, she leaned forward on the table, rising from her seat. "The stakes are deadly high, and my enemies are all around. I'm back in the heart of my element, at war with dangerous and unpredictable enemies who won't stop until I'm dangling from a street lamp from the rope tight around my neck."
A frightening mania had gathered in her lifeless eyes, the paler right eye, over which a particularly ugly scar on her face passed, seemed especially glossy in her glee.
"It's been a long time, since I've been in a real war."
Laptev was aghast and furious at the same time, as Balalaika gestured to the plate in front of her. Boris rose, and took Laptev's plate from him to take it to the kitchen of the embassy.
Balalaika let out a laugh. "I expect them to strike very soon, they won't be able to pass up this opportunity I'm about to give them."
Laptev did not like the sound of that. "What do you mean? What are you planning, you maniac?!"
"Waste not want not, is that how the saying goes, Sergeant?" Balalaika asked.
"That is correct, Kapitan," Boris replied over his shoulder.
"What do you mean by that, Balalaika?!"
She looked to Laptev and left him with deadly ominous words: "The battlefield is a very dangerous place for someone not used to it. From a veteran who's been in your shoes before… keep your head low and hope you don't die."
Boris returned with Laptev's coat and bodyguard, and Balalaika chuckled again. "You should return back to your office now; we're done here until I decide you're useful to me."
Laptev, startled by Balalaika's dismissal of him, stood up. "Until I'm useful to you?!"
Balalaika ignored him, as she looked to Boris. "Get on the line and call Rock and Rebecca, tell them that we will be going to meet with Mr. Bando as scheduled."
Boris nodded. "Yes, Kapitan."
The boss of the Russian Mafia in Tokyo stared at Balalaika, uncomprehending initially but gaining the realization that he had no authority here, let alone a place at the table which Balalaika shared with the monsters she was about to trade blows with.
Scowling at her, he rose up and snatched his coat from Boris. He then looked to his bodyguard and nodded towards the door. "We're leaving!"
The two Russians left, leaving the other two at the table. The moment they left, Balalaika looked up at her Sergeant and put on a rather vicious smile.
At the front driveway of the embassy, Laptev thrust his arm into his jacket, all but snarling as he approached the grey sedan bearing diplomatic plates that waited to take him back to his offices at Tokyo Times Square. Behind him, his bodyguard and assistant tried to keep pace with him, as in his anger he was walking briskly.
"Boss…!" The bodyguard, a young brown-haired man named Dimitri, called. "Let me get the door-!"
"That bitch!" Laptev yelled as he swung open the door to the car. "She thinks she can just usurp me?! This is still my turf, I'm the one who called her here, damn it!"
Dimitri hesitated for a moment as his boss entered the car, before climbing in himself. "What are you going to do to stop her? She'll kill you and Boss Slevinin will just brush it off and replace you."
Laptev's face shifted a shade of white at the thought, and he punched his armrest. "Shut up! You don't think I know that?!"
He sat back, feeling unbearably impotent in the face of these circumstances. In terms of strength and position, Balalaika had it all. For all of her contempt of the Ex-KGB who ran the brotherhood from the comfort of Moscow, they, including the boss, held her in the highest of esteem. He could bitch about it all he wanted to, but there was nothing he could do.
A fine bed he made for himself to lay in, and that just made him angrier as the diplomatic sedan pulled through the gates of the embassy and began its journey to his destination.
"Well if she's willing to take my reins for herself, then she's the one going to get fucked when her little maniac war fetish blows up in her face!" He snapped aloud to Dimitri, who winced.
Dimitri stared at his boss in a bit of dismay, before looking forward and shaking his head. Up front, the driver and Laptev's second bodyguard sitting in the passenger side were chuckling at their boss's fangless anger.
Laptev looked forward at his second bodyguard, face screwed with contempt. "Do you think this is funny?!"
The bodyguard finished chuckling. "Actually, I was not laughing at that."
Laptev stopped, gawking at the man's positively awful English as pronounced by a Japanese man trying to sound as American as he could.
The person certainly not Laptev's bodyguard then turned around in his seat and fired a large caliber revolver into Dimitri's face, splattering his head all over the inside of the back seat of the car and Laptev, who all but flung himself against the car door.
"What the fuck?!" Laptev yelled as he tried to open it, but found it locked tightly from the inside.
"Oh man, I just shot Dimitri in the face," Chaka said to the driver, who threw his head back and began laughing hysterically.
Laptev looked to his dead bodyguard, over to the man who killed him. "Who the fuck…?!"
He stopped when he saw Chaka pointing his revolver at him while still laughing at his own movie reference. "Hey there, comrade. How's it hanging?"
Laptev looked from his bodyguard to his captor, beads of quickly forming sweat sending lines through the red splattered all over face.
Chaka's bright, blood-splattered smile grew as he held the gun up and pointed it in between the Russian's eyes.
"Mind if we switch cars? This one's kind of a mess."
When particularly well-to-do Japanese needed some place to keep their expensive toys and trinkets safe while they traveled overseas, storage facilities were a popular option used by many. All manner of rare valuables found their way there, including of course expensive cars. At the insistence of the police, Maki had left her newly purchased car in the care of one such facility that sat within sight of Tokyo Harbor, and stood out thanks to its eight story high car park that had security tighter than most banks.
With a flash of her magically created badge, it was easy for Makoto to stroll past the security checkpoints and make her way into the car park. With the information given to her, and Yukio's final words haunting her mind, she had made the trip immediately after leaving the boutique, while making sure she was not followed.
As she walked up the ramp from the ground level to the first one directly above it, however, she realized she had been. Sitting atop one of the cars, licking her paw, was Luna. As Makoto walked past, she pretended to pay the Mau no mind to not arouse suspicion, and for a moment she thought she had.
"I created the Disguise Pen, you know," Luna said to her between licks of her paw. "I know what the magic it creates looks like when it's in use."
Makoto stopped, but didn't look back at Luna.
Luna lowered her paw, and turned her head towards her. "Mako-chan, you did not need to run away."
Makoto didn't answer, she stared straight ahead, as her hands clenched in the pockets of her disguised form's long jacket.
"What did you see there, in your old hideout?" Luna asked. "Why did it bring you here?"
For a moment, less than ten seconds, Makoto remained still. When it passed, she kept moving, heading up the ramp to the first level. Undeterred, Luna hopped off the car and followed her, quickly catching up and strolling alongside her. As the two of them reached the second level, Makoto turned her head towards Luna for only a moment, before looking ahead.
"Something specific drove Yukio to kill herself," Makoto said. "There was simply one thing that she could not take above anything else."
Luna closed her eyes. "And what will you do when you see it?"
"I don't know," Makoto said. "But if it has anything to do with the Washimine…"
Kill them. They won't be missed.
Luna knew exactly where Makoto's thought had gone. "If you go out and kill those people, even if they are criminals, then you're crossing a line."
"Are you saying that we shouldn't kill?" Makoto asked.
"We shouldn't kill humans, especially not over for something like this," Luna tried to implore.
Anger flashed through Makoto, upon hearing that. "This isn't just something."
Luna looked up at her. "In the grand scheme it is nothing."
Her eyes flying wide, Makoto turned and looked down in Luna in shock. "… What did you say?"
Luna stopped, and sat down, before curling her tail around her feet. "This is not the time for going after a personal vendetta. Not when so much more is at stake."
The Mau's gaze sharpened. "Since this began, that's all you've been doing."
Makoto remained frozen. Luna wasn't wrong, from immediately after the bombing Makoto had more preoccupied with Yukio's death than the crisis at hand. Her dream, the will, her confrontation with Ginji… Yukio's death had been her focus, everything else had been in the background.
After a moment, she turned away from Luna again and kept walking. "I'm just doing what I should've done."
Luna got up and resumed walking with her. "What you're doing now is not going to make up for what you should've done."
"You're say that like you know anything!" Makoto snapped back at her.
"I know you," Luna retorted.
Makoto disagreed vehemently, turning around to face Luna again. "The only thing you know is that I am a Sailor Senshi! You know nothing about me, about why I have to do this!"
"I know that your parents were killed in a plane crash, caused by a man desperate to pay off his debt to the Yakuza," Luna said.
Silence followed, for another moment. Staring down at Luna, Makoto drew a hand from her pocket and brought it to her face to wipe the tears of anger that had formed in her eyes.
"You only know half of it," Makoto said.
"What don't I know?" Luna asked.
"That plane crash… I didn't just lose my parents in it," Makoto said, "I survived it."
Pushed into the back of a delivery van, with his car left in the corner of an underground car park, Laptev sat on a bench in the back with Chaka directly in front of him. Chaka, tapping his revolver against his lap, was looking out the back of the decal covered windows, offering him a blurry view of the world outside.
"So," Chaka said casually before turning to him. "You went to see that fried cunt, right? How's she doing?"
Laptev glowered back at Chaka.
"C'mon, don't be like that," the young Yakuza insisted, "You don't like Balalaika, I don't like Balalaika, you don't wanna die, I'm open to bargaining."
He stopped when a realization came to him. "You do speak English, right? I'm pretty sure you do… oh man, this is awkward as fuck."
This man, Laptev realized, was an idiot. A dangerous idiot, but still an idiot nevertheless.
He looked to the front. "Hey, Kinbe, this guy speaks English, right?"
"Yeah," the driver of the van said.
Chaka leaned forward a bit as he faced Laptev again. "Look, if you don't want to die, I'll make sure you get dropped off safe and sound. You just need to tell me two things: How is Hotel Moscow moving around the city without the police arresting them, and when is Balalaika going to actually set foot outside the Embassy herself."
Laptev stared back at Chaka. "You're the leader of all this?" He asked. "The attacks on the Kousa, the assassination attempt on Balalaika, this was all your doing?"
Oh, he did speak English! "Yeah, that was me and my crew. We're pretty good at it, huh?"
"Bullshit," Laptev immediately spat back, "You're an idiot. You probably couldn't put together a shopping list, let alone this."
Chaka was taken aback by the insult, so much so that he almost lifted up his gun to shoot Laptev in the shin. However, before he could, the Russian continued.
"But… that's fine you're an idiot," he said, "Balalaika… that war maniac think she's actually up against someone with substance. If she found out it was lured here by just some moron who shoots off his gun like he does his mouth… well, I would at least like to see the look on her face."
Chaka gave him a flat, alarmingly murderous look. "Oi, old-timer, are you going somewhere with this?"
"Yeah," Laptev said, "She's using the old evacuation shelter tunnels under the city to move her men and runners who keep the communications open without the police listening in."
At that, Chaka's expression flipped right around. "… Huh! So that's how! Clever bitch!"
Laptev nodded. "Even more, she's going to see Bando today, at the old Washimine residence."
Chaka looked to the side. "Damn, and I was just there too!"
Returning his attention forward to Laptev, he grinned lopsidedly. "Man, you must really hate her if you've gone through the trouble!"
Laptev remained perfectly calm. "Well, she's pretty much taken my turf from me. I don't see much point in being beholden to her if she's going to rip off my balls and toss me out on my ass."
Chaka nodded. "Man, I know what it's like to see a crew suddenly lose its manhood. In fact, today we're gonna do something about that, so everyone here wins, man!"
He then stood up and leaned forward to call the driver of the truck. "Yo, send a text out to the whole gang. Tell the A-Crew to meet me at the ol' Washimine place, tell the B-Crew to go down in the evac tunnels and be on the lookout for Russians, they're moving around down there. Heck, C-Crew should go take down Kousa, too!"
Turning around, he flashed a big smile to Laptev. "Time to get our balls back, buddy!"
Laptev nodded, and looked ahead. This was war, and he was a soldier now.
Luna's ears flicked forward in her own surprise. In the crash that killed Makoto's parents, there had been rumor of a survivor. Despite plunging from its cruising altitude to the ocean at the speed of sound, someone had survived completely unharmed. Of course it would be Makoto, and Luna understood why.
"Your power," Luna said.
Makoto resumed walking, reaching the second level. "I spent three days drifting in the ocean after that, all by myself. Clinging to wreckage so I didn't get attacked by sharks, going thirsty and hungry, drifting in and out of shock."
Luna, her ears pointed forward to hear everything Makoto said, wanted to fold them back. To be so young, and to experience something so awful.
The end of the ramp out of the second level came, Makoto passing a glance at the sign as she walked past it. "When I was rescued, and recovering at the hospital, I found out the plane crashed because the pilot wanted to kill himself. Because he owed a debt to the Yakuza, and the life insurance money would cover it… and once that debt was paid that was it. No one was arrested, there was no justice, anything."
She clenched her fists. "My entire life ruined because of a debt. Not just mine, all the people who lost their lives, and all their loved ones who lost them. How could I not become 'Mifune' after that?"
"You discovered your strength, in that tragedy," Luna said. "Your power that exists even when you're not transformed. All of you have it, Rei's spiritual sensitivity, Ami's genius, Usagi's charisma and empathy, and your indomitable strength and resilience."
Luna looked forward at the car. "It's not much, but even with that you became a vigilante bent on revenge against the Yakuza.
Makoto took offense to that. "What? Revenge, it wasn't-!"
Luna cut her off. "Your time as Mifune–it wasn't about seeing justice served to the Yakuza for their crimes, you wanted to destroy them for what they did to you. Yukio, she was a girl who despised the criminals who surrounded her. You were two damaged girls, torn apart by your tragedies, wanting revenge."
Makoto stopped, resting her hand on the trunk. She didn't look at her.
Luna continued. "But it didn't help, your crusade was cut short because in the end you were both still just girls. In your bitterness of losing to those people you hated again, you severed your ties with Yukio, and hated her for betraying you. And Yukio, she…"
Well, here they were, searching for the last regret of a broken-hearted girl.
"She's the reason why I'm here," Makoto said grimly.
Makoto pressed the key fob remote's button to unlatch the trunk. With a click, and a hiss of compressed air, it slowly rose open, revealing neatly stacked and bound bills of yen wrapped in green-tinted plastic wrap. Atop the enormous amount of money, a single opened envelope addressed to Mifune sat.
She reached down, and took the envelope, opening it to find several papers inside. One was a letter, the other was an invoice, and the last was a bank statement. Makoto stared at the invoice, her eyes tracing over it once, and then twice. After a third reading, she lowered her hand, resting the invoice on the money.
Slowly, she looked through the contents of the letter, and with the same deliberate calm set it down, before looking at the bank statement as well. It too wound up gently set back down in the trunk, with the other contents of the envelope, and Makoto was still.
With an audience consisting of Natsuna, Su, and Fuu, on a catwalk that surrounded its edge, Nephrite had begun his reading in a barren, circular room set aside to offer him the privacy he needed. The very moment he tapped into his dark powers, they activated with no trouble, creating around him a projection straight out of a planetarium, a star map showing the orbits of planets, stars, and other celestial bodies that criss-crossed against a dark, glittering expanse.
"Oh, pretty!" Su eagerly said, prompting a gentle admonishment from Fuu.
"Please, Kaolla-hime… he needs to concentrate," the bespectacled girl in a police uniform said before she turned her attention back to the reading.
Natsuna, her fan held open to hide her face, hummed as she watched the energies begin their convergence.
"Celestial bodies, grant me your great power," he spoke.
At the center of the map, a single large, dark sphere flashed and flickered, before it fired forth a beam of rapidly shifting colors straight into Nephrite's forehead. Immediately, he was troubled by the reading he saw.
"The scale Libra, is unbalanced. Power is shifting, an ill-omen indeed," he announced aloud as his eyes, glowing red, open. "Our targets are on the move, they're headed for the home of Ryuzo Washimine."
Natsuna looked over to Su. "Su, if you would?"
Su quickly saluted. "You betcha!"
She slipped her visor down over her eyes, and the very first thing she saw when the display on the inside light up was Sailor Mercury's face in a communications window. "Sailor Mercury! It's time, get to the Washimine estate!"
Sailor Mercury, hearing this, nodded grimly. "We're on our way."
On the recently cleared suburban street that led to the former home of the Washime Clan's head, Balalaika's diplomatic-plated limousine drove along without escort. In the back of the car, sitting across Boris and Balalaika, Rokuro "Rock" Okajima quietly contemplated the last couple of days. However, his concern wasn't the fact that his new normal had kicked down his old normal's door and sprayed the room with hot lead.
Next to him was the source of his concern. Since their encounter with Sailor Moon at the airport, Revy had developed something of a twitch. Her right hand's index finger constantly moved, squeezing the trigger for a gun she didn't hold, which was new and alarming, but her expression was one he'd seen plenty of times before–when she was deep in her bloodlust, and just wanted to stack bodies all day.
"Rock, care to entertain my curiosity for a moment?" Balalaika then suddenly spoke out, turning her attention from the expensive, if plain, looking houses pass by her window to him.
Boris and Rock looked at her, while Revy remained disinterested, her finger still twitching.
Rock looked over at Revy, then at Balalaika. "Ah, what is it?"
"Your life before you came to the South China Sea, to Roanapur," Balalaika began, "Would you have called it exciting?"
He looked puzzled by the question. "I wouldn't say that. I was a salaryman who kept my head down when I wasn't getting a boot up my ass from the guy I was one day going to replace. My life was rather boring and uneventful beyond that."
"Oh?" Balalaika asked, interested in his response. "With all of the unusual excitement that goes on here?"
As he spoke, his tone became somewhat melancholic, before he glanced out at the snow beginning to fall outside. "It wasn't like I didn't know the weird stuff existed… I was still a little boy growing up through the end of the Heroic Age and all. It's just that the only way you're going to see it is if you're part of it or if you're unlucky enough for it to crash through your wall. Otherwise, you don't."
He sat back in his seat. "Japan is a strange place, where monsters walk among normal people. I suppose it's why we're so unfailingly polite… you don't know if the person you piss off is going to be able to break you in half. For the most part, normal people don't cross paths with that sort of stuff, they go about their business and just walk around the craters left behind."
Balalaika studied him carefully. "Do you consider yourself a 'normal' person?"
"I don't know about that, either. My life was normal until I actually left Japan, and it was like going from zero to a hundred in an instant." He found that amusing, somewhat. "One moment I'm just delivering a package for my boss, the next I'm held hostage by pirates, then I'm in a bar gunfight, and after that I'm ramping a PT Boat off a shipwreck into the air to destroy a Hind-D with a torpedo."
"It was a Hind-A," Revy corrected.
Boris tried not to smirk, he still greatly respected Rock for probably the coolest thing he'd ever heard in his life.
Deep in his heart, Rock found it a little amusing. "After that, it got crazier, you know? Suddenly I'm knee-deep in fights with Nazis, Terrorists, Drug Dealers… if I weren't working for mass-murdering pirates and the Russian Mob, I'd be a hero out of a manga."
"Fuck you, too," Revy offhandedly replied.
He gave Revy a short look, before turning a more inquiring one to Balalaika. "What do you think, boss? Am I a normal person? Was I ever a normal person?"
Balalaika mulled over that. "You were, until circumstances you couldn't control invariably changed you. You can count yourself among a very rare few who changed for the better."
"What do you mean?" Rock asked.
"We don't come crawling out of our mothers the people we are today. The fortunate many of us come from something stable and normal, but sometimes life puts you in a corner where you have only two choices: adapt or die."
In the woman's scarred eye, Rock swore he could see it, a flicker of light like the muzzle flash of a rifle. Behind Balalaika's blue eyes, she saw a battlefield. Tracers, explosions, blood and viscera, rope, gasoline, fire…
She clenched her teeth, turning it into a bloodthirsty smile. The eerie light in her bad eye seemed to fill both. "Take solace in the fact that if I had to suffer the person you were, I'd have put a bullet in your head after about five minutes."
"I wanted to do it after five seconds," Revy quipped.
"I love you, too," Rock said dryly back.
Balalaika's grin softened back to a milder smile. "It's interesting, don't you suppose? How many people in your place would be able to survive and thrive?" She looked at Revy. "Or yours?"
She thought of a defiantly glowering young girl, vibrant life still in her dark green eyes as she faced almost certain death.
"Or all the people who have all been pulled together here, to this moment in time?"
It was Revy who answered. "According to some people? A ten-thousandth of a percent of the whole fucking world."
The limo pulled to a halt, they had arrived at their destination: an older, more traditionally designed house than the others, something befit for an old yakuza kingpin. Balalaika opened the door, and Rock stepped out first, as Revy and Boris climbed out on the other side. A light snow had started to fall, the prelude to a much greater storm that would blow in soon enough.
The cold wind caught her VDV coat, which she neglected to slip her arms into the sleeves. She, Rock, Revy, and Boris looked up at the old house.
"And here we are," she said, "The paths of so many of the rare few intersecting in one place at one time."
Luna stared at Makoto, finding the calm that overcame Makoto eerie. "M-Mako-chan?"
Makoto stood upright, her hands coming up to grip the ajar trunk.
"The estate of Masuda Katagiri, to resolve debts paid, paid a total of eighteen million yen to cover the cost of a failed business venture, a luxury air taxi service. His partner in the deal was Tsugio Bando, of the Washimine Clan," Makoto said quietly.
Luna immediately feared the worst as she stared at Makoto, and saw that the disguise magic was fading, revealing the form of Sailor Jupiter underneath it. One hand left the lid of the trunk, Sailor Jupiter covering her mouth as the calm gave way to a horrified clarity. The tears began to form anew in her eyes, as it all clicked.
"Oh God, Y-Yukio…"
She fell to her knees, the tears running down her cheeks unabated, as she covered her mouth with her other hand as well. There was no explosion of anger, no violence, just a tremendous sorrow that shook her harder than her hatred ever could.
"Even after we were beaten by Hotel Moscow, Yukio tried to support me… she would send letters and money to me. Even when I hated her, she would try to reach out to me, and make sure that I was okay… she felt responsible for me…"
Luna realized it. For Yukio to find out that it was because of the Washimine that Makoto had lost everything.
Sailor Jupiter closed her eyes, still weeping. "It killed her."
Luna stepped closer. "Sailor Jupiter, I'm so sorry."
Sailor Jupiter tried to wipe her tears, but they wouldn't stop. She rested her forehead against the bumper of the car, her body wracked with sobs.
"You… you're right…" Makoto sniffled. "Usagi was… she was right too…"
She pounded her fist on the trunk, a dent appearing under her fist. "I hate them so much… everything they took from me… I want nothing else but to crush them all and burn them to ash. I have the power to do it… but I…"
She stared at the tear drops on the trunk, as her vision began to swim again.
"You have the power to kill them all, and no person on this planet can stop you! You could've saved so many people with that power! You could've saved me!"
"For all the power I have, I couldn't stop the Yakuza, I couldn't beat that woman, I couldn't… I couldn't save Yukio."
"Mako-chan, I think I get what all this anger is about. You're not angry at her at all… you're angry at yourself. You feel responsible for what happened to Yukio, even though you had no idea that she would do this."
"I'm so strong, Luna," she whispered, "But that strength doesn't mean much, does it?"
"You're wrong," Luna said. "With your strength you've done so much good. You've helped and saved so many people."
The Mau rested a paw on Makoto's knee. "It's not possible to save everyone, though. I know exactly what you're going through. To lose everything you loved, to have bitterness consume what was once a dear friendship, I have been there and I know exactly how awful that is. So you don't have to suffer it alone… I…" Luna looked behind Sailor Jupiter. "… We won't let you."
Sailor Jupiter followed Luna's gaze, and found a worried Sailor Mars standing there, trying not to cry as well.
She brought up a hand and tried to wipe her eye. "Sailor Mars, I'm sorry for…"
"It's okay," Sailor Mars said, "I understand."
She approached the Senshi of Thunder and knelt down to hug her tightly. "You don't have to apologize for anything." She said. "If anything I should be the sorry one. I… I didn't have faith in you. I thought you would do something awful, but it turns out that Sailor Moon was right–you did the right thing."
Sailor Jupiter raised her gaze up to Sailor Mars' face.
With the backs of her fingers, she wiped away Sailor Jupiter's tears and gave her an encouraging smile. "Even when you think you're not, you're so strong."
Sailor Jupiter managed a very small smile of her own. "Th-thank you."
"Now then," Luna said, "Let's go join the others."
Sailor Mars and Sailor Jupiter both nodded in agreement.
The tatami mat-covered floor of the Washimine Residence's living room was completely bare of furniture except for a single table ringed with seven cushions. Set on the table, a bottle of sake and shallow cups. Seated on the cushions in counterclockwise order were the Washimine Clan's leader Tsugio Bando, his right man Yoshida, Ginji Matsuzaki, Revy, Boris, Balalaika, and Rock.
Revy had withdrawn further into her strange mood, but her head and eyes were on the move, scanning for anything out of the ordinary. The power to the house had been cut some time ago, leaving an already traditionally drafty house dark and even colder. It made the guy she was forced to sit next to even more intimidating than he already was.
She was a savvy girl despite being something of an idiot. Any guy who brought a sword to what might be a gunfight was either that dumb or that dangerous–and she was never one to assume the best of people.
"I have to thank you, Balalaika," Bando said in his native Japanese, which Rock began translating to English for the Russian, "I imagine that once suspicion fell upon the Washimine, the Kousa were eager to simply use their troubles as an excuse to wipe us all out."
"Oh, they were," Balalaika replied, Rock translating back. "In our very first meeting they were insistent that even if you weren't responsible that we should snuff you out. You owe it in part to our previous correspondence that my hand was so steady."
Several blocks away, coming from different directions, delivery vans, laundry vans, moving vans, and other small trucks began to converge, forming a long procession that began straight towards the Washimine estate.
Bando remained still, while Yoshida tensed up as if to suppress the urge to burst into tears. The hot-blooded die-hard for the Washimine Clan still could not bear to think of the tragedies that befell them, the loss of their boss, and then of Yukio… it tore him apart inside.
"You needn't worry about the Kousa," Balalaika said. "I told them that I would be thorough in seeking and eliminating their adversaries, but I will engage only those I was certain were my enemy."
Outside of the Washimine Estate, the literal parade of vans coasted down the street, their engines idle and their gears in neutral to quiet their approach. One after another, they came to a stop in front of the Washimine estate.
Ginji tightened his grip on his sword, his ears almost straining against the wind blowing outside. Something had shifted, he could feel it. A look to his right, at the dangerous-looking young woman with the foul mood about her, told him that she was aware too.
Yoshida, not sure of the etiquette of translators, suddenly snapped at Rock. "Oi! Ask her if she's so sure they're gonna come here!"
When it was translated for her, Balalaika's weak scowl at his rude tone turned into a mirthful smile. She didn't have to answer it, because Bando did.
"They will," he said. "There's only the question of when."
Outside, as doors opened and caped and hooded figures carrying pistols, hunting rifles, submachine guns, and shotguns began to creep towards the open gates of the house, a grinning Chaka twirled his revolver in his hand as he strode purposefully towards the front door.
Bando looked to Ginji. "And it will be soon."
Yoshida didn't like it, but that may have just been his impatience and anxiety making his stomach churn.
Rock translated the exchange of the Yakuza to Balalaika, and she looked over towards Boris, who silently nodded back. She then spoke to Bando.
"You do realize that after this, everything changes," she said ominously.
Bando looked down at the sake cups on the table, and then up at the Russian woman. "I am well aware of that reality. However, this is in the end what is best for all of us."
Yoshida visibly cringed at the finality of Bando's tone, he then jumped from where he sat when the main door to the living room slid open, and in walked Chaka, flanked by caped and masked men in black. Rock nearly jumped, but he stayed down when he saw no one was immediately pulling the trigger.
Both Ginji and Revy, who had their backs to the intruders, didn't even flinch. When Balalaika looked over, she found something familiar about the masked gunmen Chaka had brought with them. She also found the black suit he wore much more tasteful than the gaudier assortments he wore as the Washimine's enforcer.
"Wow, I didn't think I'd get all of you in one place so soon!" He declared in mock surprise. "The Russians, the old clique, and…"
He noticed Revy look back towards him, slowly, and smiled a bit in surprise. "… Someone new…"
Bando was quite surprised. "Chaka?!"
Yoshida was on his feet, disbelieving. "Chaka, what on Earth are you doing with these guys?"
Chaka laughed. "Isn't it obvious? I'm their boss, dude! These are all my men."
Rock quietly whispered a translation to Balalaika, who just smiled daintily.
"You're looking at the new face of the underworld of Tokyo, baby!" Chaka declared. "An army of one thousand young and hungry soldiers ready to take what they have coming."
Yoshida recoiled at that. "One thousand?! You couldn't pull that much manpower even if you guaranteed them a handjob from the hottest AV girl in Japan!"
Chaka took that kind of to heart. "You piece of shit, do you even realize the kind of situation you're in? Read the fucking room!"
He suddenly had Yoshida's forehead in his sights, and was ready to pull the trigger when Balalaika cleared her throat.
Chaka, stayed from his kill, looked to her. In bad-sounding English he spoke. "Oho? I'm sorry, I almost forgot all about you, Miss Balalaika. It's so good to see you again, you are lookin' hot."
"Oh, you speak English? That's good." Balalaika said. "I can address you myself. I thank you for finally arriving to our little meeting. It's good to see that you have brought so many of your men. I was fearing that this would be something of a bore for mine."
Chaka grinned. "You don't have to worry about that. I've got your guys well entertained!" He then looked around. "I mean, unless you have some that aren't down in the tunnels right now. Because I got at least fifty closing in on your guys right as we speak."
He wasn't lying. Almost fifty feet below the streets of Tokyo, more of the masked men Chaka called his were moving silently among the concrete pillars and through the narrow passages of what was once an extensive evacuation complex. They had their orders to find any Russians moving through the tunnels, and sure enough they found them–a team of twenty men with Russian weapons and Russian combat gear, almost directly below where the Washimine Residence stood. From around corners and atop catwalks, and within shadows, they set down and prepared their ambush.
Balalaika, upon hearing that, nodded. "Fifty? Tell me, how many men are surrounding this building?"
"It took a bit of wrangling, but I got about another fifty here," Chaka replied. "Even better? There's another fifty closing in on old man Kousa… gotta get that squared away."
"One hundred fifty in all," Balalaika said. "Against the few we have here."
"Those numbers aren't exact, I'm roundin' them down for your convenience," Chaka replied.
She nodded slowly. "Completely unfair odds. From the sound of it you've completely outmaneuvered and surrounded me, and you are in a position to eliminate my soldiers at your word."
Bando nodded, when Rock translated for him.
"That's right, I'm glad this is sinking into your fried head!" Chaka mocked.
Balalaika took exception to that, and huffed. "Let me guess, you were able to set up your ambush thanks to Vasily, weren't you?"
Chaka did a double-take, and stared at Balalaika. "What did you say…?"
"The man I gave you," Balalaika clarified. "He told you that I use the underground to move my men undetected, didn't he?"
The man she gave…? Chaka needed a few moments to process this, before it hit him.
She saw that it had dawned upon him, and grinned viciously. "You are an idiot."
In the evacuation tunnel network under Tokyo, the first sign that things were amiss came to Chaka's men when the Russian soldiers they were stalking suddenly just ceased to exist. As the leader of the team of men stared in confusion, he didn't notice the doll-like woman in a regal gown materialize behind him, her right hand wafting over the apple held in her left.
The man immediately next to him turned towards his boss, raised his pistol, and shot him in the leg. Then he was in turn shot by another man, and the shadows quickly began to flee as the group of some twenty men suddenly fell into a mad melee, wildly shooting, punching, and otherwise flailing at one-another.
The men on a catwalk, overseeing their comrades suddenly start going at each other, had no time to react to it. Jets of water summoned by Thetis smashed into them, knocking them off the catwalk and into the concrete walls of the tunnel.
Around the corner in another tunnel, the shrieks of many bats were drowned out by the deafening sonic waves from Kyurene, which had the other masked men covering their ears or bleeding from their eyes before Iguara's physicality made short work of them, broken bodies hitting the walls and ceilings.
Chaka recoiled and then bristled with fury as he pointed the revolver at her head now. "What did you say, you-?!"
"Of course my men aren't in those tunnels, they're actually at the home of Masami Kousa, set up to greet anyone dumb enough to attempt to march on him," Balalaika went on. "They are well entrenched as well, with machine guns and rifles."
On the other side of Minato, the home of Masami Kousa was a warzone, as Chaka's men who thought they'd be encountering token bodyguards and a police officer or two found themselves in a full on ambush at the hands of Hotel Moscow, the ex-VDV specialists turning the courtyard of Kousa's picturesque Japanese mansion into a killing field from positions inside his house, from the rooftops of nearby buildings, and even from the open door of an unmarked helicopter that circled just below the clouds.
Amidst the masked gunmen trying to shore up their positions and escape, flashes of steel announced the arrival of Jin, whose blade cleaved through weapons and limbs alike.
"… And a few other nasty surprises," Balalaika went on.
The thunderous crack of Mugen's punch was followed by screams as the enemy fell with missing limbs or worse. The two Lost Dogs walked through the battle, merely striking anything that came close as the enemy's attack quickly broke down under the crushing counterattack.
The shift of power in the room was dramatic. Chaka, who looked so confident and menacing when he entered, was now in a state of shocked disbelief. "You're lying! There's no way you could've-!"
"Predicted your movements and entrapped you like this? It wasn't very hard, actually. You are an amateur of the highest order, an idiot following a simple plan to the absolute letter." Balalaika's eyes narrowed. "You can't even bring yourself to deviate from it now and shoot any of us."
After Rock translated that for the Japanese in the room, Chaka bristled and pointed his revolver at the translator. "You got one thing wrong. I can shoot one of you-!"
As he went to squeeze the trigger, Ginji and Revy both moved, their hands shooting to the tatami mat between them and Rock, and then flipping it up just as he fired. The heavy caliber bullet collided and ricocheted off the heavy tatami mat, going into the wall above Bando's head, as the flipped mat rose fully upright.
Rising up, Ginji took his sword and Revy drew her Cutlasses, before the latter kicked the raised mat with all her might right into Chaka and the two men flanking him.
Stumbling back, Chaka pushed himself off the mat and fell to the floor at the right moment, as Ginji's blade quickly sliced through the mat and cut down the other two men behind it. It was then that all hell properly broke loose, as the other gunmen opened fire, not on the congregation of mafia types, but the fast moving Ginji and Revy, who flanked the group of men and moved like the small room was much bigger.
Taking aim with her Cutlasses, Revy fired off shot after shot, hitting and downing the remaining men on Chaka's left, while the men on Chaka's right found first their guns and then their limbs sliced to pieces by Ginji's sword.
Funny, this was supposed to go a whole lot different according to what Chaka planned. There was supposed to be shock, surprise, and a begrudging surrender to the superior numbers he'd paid a lot of money to bulk up his force. Balalaika was supposed to be dumbstruck that she could be so easily fooled, the old guys were supposed to go down with a few well aimed bullets, and that Ginji? He should've been buried under a mountain of men.
Instead, the whole of the old Washimine house was now a pitched battle with the most dangerous people in Japan, maybe in all of Asia.
This wasn't how it worked!
Turning over as his men were cut apart or shot down, he scrambled for the door and charged towards the exit. He wasn't finished, he still had over forty guys outside waiting to rush in! He could still win this!
Chaka looked to the guys waiting outside for him and called out. "Get in there and start shooting, kill each and every one of those fuckers but leave the women alive!"
The men weren't too quick to do that. Something else had caught their attention, and turned whatever courage they had into mush. Turning towards where they were looking, Chaka felt his own confidence vanish at the sight of Sailor Moon and Sailor Mercury standing atop the roof of the house, the latter's arms tightly folded while the former shook her head in disappointment.
It was at this moment that Chaka knew: He fucked up.
"Oh fuck me."
"Yeah, you wish," Sailor Moon said. "I don't bang cheapass Kakihara wannabes."
She gestured to Sailor Mercury. "Sailor Mercury, however, will be more than happy to fuck all of you as hard as she can."
Sailor Mercury began to disintegrate then. In a casual, almost bored-sounding tone, she said before she vanished, "Find something to bite down on, because I'm going in dry."
An instant later there was a sound like a bomb going off in the yard, and nearly half of Chaka's men were sent flying in every direction by the force of Sailor Mercury appearing amongst them and then simply attacking the ground.
Buffeted by the sudden impact, and nearly clipped by one of his own men flying past, Chaka braced himself and then looked up to see Sailor Moon falling towards him, winding up for a kick. Before his eyes, Chaka's entire life flashed, and he dropped backward with a scream of terror.
This spared him being kicked, but only because Sailor Moon intentionally held back long enough for him to do that and swung as soon as he was down, the air pressure off her kick throwing the men still standing around Chaka flying backwards into other men, or further on into the wall of the Washimine estate.
Setting her foot down, Sailor Moon looked down at Chaka. "You really didn't think this through, did you? I mean, blowing up buildings? Kidnapping people? Being terrorists? In my city?"
Chaka argued in his favor by wildly shooting Sailor Moon in the face with the remaining rounds in his revolver's cylinder. Each bullet connected, but then deflected off her skin much like it were made of an entirely bulletproof material. Sailor Moon rolled her eyes between the fourth and fifth rounds.
"A compelling rebuttal," she said before she kicked Chaka in the face, knocking him flat on his back and sending his gun flinging back against the wall.
Looking around, Sailor Moon was quite pleased to find that Sailor Mercury had similarly dispatched the remaining enemy forces, and both Revy and Ginji had emerged from inside the house unharmed, followed by the criminal VIPs that graciously played the bait for this afternoon's scheme.
"Corporal Daniel, what is your status?" Balalaika radioed her men at the Kousa Compound.
On the other end of the line, a Hotel Moscow soldier in Kousa's house looked back at the man himself, smoking a cigarette on his couch calmly, and then outside. Mugen and Jin were standing in the only spot of snow not splashed red by the blood of their enemies. "All hostiles neutralized. No losses on our side."
Balalaika nodded and replied into the radio. "Horosho, round up survivors for the police and stand-by until further orders."
"Understood," her soldier replied before ending the connection.
"Hello again, Sailor Moon," Balalaika greeted her with a respectable tone.
Sailor Moon turned to Balalaika, as Sailor Mercury joined her side. "Sup?"
Upon seeing Sailor Moon, Revy narrowed her eyes and slipped her Cutlasses back into their holsters. The compulsion to just shoot her was suddenly so strong, just looking at the girl annoyed her so damn much all of a sudden!
Sailor Mercury noticed Revy giving Sailor Moon such a dark look, and found it strange. There was no threat from the gunwoman, but she kept a glance on her every few moments or so.
Balalaika addressed the Senshi of Mercury. "Has everything gone well with the others?"
Sailor Mercury turned to Balalaika and nodded. "Yes. Our allies under the city have caught Chaka's men and neutralized them as well. They took the bait entirely."
Chaka, who was down but not out, lifted his head and gawked at the Sailor Senshi. "You… you were all in on this?"
"Did you think we wouldn't?" Sailor Moon asked him. "Also I thought I knocked you out."
Yoshida glowered down at Chaka. "This fool is too hardheaded even for Sailor Moon!"
Bando agreed. "Chaka, you idiot, after what you did? It was only natural that this would happen."
"That's right!" A new voice called out, and Chaka whipped his head over to gape in disbelief. There at the opened gate, flanked by her assistant Fuu, was Natsuko.
"Wha… what's she doing…?!" Chaka looked from the policewomen, to Balalaika and Bando, to the Sailor Senshi. "Huh?! Wha…?!"
"You think there's such a thing as pride among criminals? You really are so stupid." Balalaika taunted.
"Between the shame of working with the authorities to losing to an idiot who doesn't know his ass from his face, the choice was refreshingly easy," Bando cut in as well.
Chaka looked towards Sailor Moon, as if she had any better answers.
"Put a hundred yen in your ass, 'cause you played yourself," Sailor Moon simply said.
"This is Site A, backup units move in to mop up," Natsuko radioed. "We've got the main force secured."
Balalaika gave Natsuko a pleasant smile. "My, my, this has been quite the wonderful war."
"No London Blitz, but it'll do?" Natsuko asked for her.
At that look, Balalaika's expression soured visibly. She looked away from the shorter woman, a salty bitterness radiating from her.
"Sailor Moon! Sailor Mercury!" Sailor Mars called out as she and Sailor Jupiter arrived, Luna riding on the shoulder of the latter.
Sailor Jupiter looked around at the scene, and at the unexpected collection of personalities gathered. "What…?"
Sailor Moon looked over. "Ah! Welcome to the party, Sailor Jupiter."
"Everything's under control," Sailor Mercury said as she looked around. "Though we may have used a little too much overkill."
Sailor Mars disagreed. "For people this awful, overkill is fine."
Natsuko nodded. "And with the information we're going to get a hold of, hunting down the rest of this idiot's little group is going to be simple."
Sailor Jupiter looked at Balalaika and Bando briefly. She wasn't exactly sure what to think, especially in regards to Bando. Sailor Moon had managed to set up something like this… with Hotel Moscow and with the Washimine Clan? And so quickly as well?
Suppressing that swirl of emotion, she focused on something far more dire, as she looked over at the unconscious soldiers Chaka put far too much faith in. They were just a bunch of idiots with relatively low-powered weapons that were third-rate at best, they had body armor that certainly helped a lot of them avoid at least an immediate death. However, the capes and the masks were her main concern.
"Why are they all dressed like Mifune?"
Silence fell over the group, before the others began to look around as well. Sure enough, every one of Chaka's men was dressed as Mifune… the one from one year ago.
"Mifune," Balalaika said aloud. "These fools are all dressed exactly like her when…"
Natsuko looked over at Balalaika, and then down at the men. "When?"
"When we defeated her," Balalaika replied.
Bando looked around the large group of Chaka's men. "Was this his idea of a joke?"
"It's not a very funny one," Sailor Moon said.
Ginji, who stood quietly over them, looked down at the bodies, his blood-splattered blade still giving off steam in the falling snow. While he didn't interact with Chaka, he had as solid a grasp on him and his mentality as everyone else who did–a fool driven to satisfy only his own urges and impulses.
A plan for him would be to get as many guys as he could on his side, then send them charging into battle while he stood back and tried to look like he mattered.
A meaningful bite at Balalaika and Bando in the form of dressing up his men as Mifune… Chaka wasn't clever enough to think of that on his own, much less everything up to this point.
"Boss," Ginji said, getting everyone's attention. "I think it's time we all accept what we don't want to admit."
He looked over to Bando, Balalaika, and Natsuko. "This is someone else's work."
"That's obvious, but who…?" Sailor Moon began before her eyes fell upon Sailor Jupiter. She was frozen, staring at her fallen imitators as a horrifying realization overcame her. She knew exactly who was behind this. There could only be one person.
The only person in the world alive who could.
"Oh…" Sailor Moon murmured. "… Oh shit."
Bando stared uncomprehending at his strongest soldier, before the understanding filled him with identical parts relief and dismay, and the same horror that he did not realize Sailor Jupiter was experiencing. "Impossible."
When Balalaika received a translation from Rock, she looked down at the bodies again, before she spoke. "You never found her body, did you policewoman?"
"Her body…?" Natsuko asked, before it clicked. "… Yukio… Washimine…?"
Far away, perched atop Tokyo Sky Tree, a single cloaked woman looked down upon the snow-covered city of Minato as the harsh, freezing wind caught her cape. She too was dressed like Mifune, her body armor and cape however a stark white compared to the blacks and camouflages of the men she'd sent out with Chaka. It allowed her to blend in with the swiftly falling snow that built up.
Unburdened by the cold, Yukio Washimine slowly brought her hand up to her face, and pushed a few strands of her hair from her glasses free face. Everything was going well, exactly as predicted.
Yet… it was all so profoundly sad.
"Makoto-chan," she said softly, "Forgive me… for what comes next."
Shingo: What the heck? What the heck?!
Thetis: All this time… poor Mako-chan.
Mamoru: This is only the beginning, isn't it?
Shingo: Just when everyone thought the worst had passed, they realized they were only in the eye of the storm. With calamity roaring, and frustrations coming to a head, the masterstroke is struck. Beautiful Destroyer Sailor Moon Chapter 23: Dark Justice Part 4: Thundersnow.
A/N: BDSM is back, suckas.