The Third Rising: The unofficial continuation of Destiny's Child
By: Me, Myself, and I
Original Story By: Fire
You already know, this is a crossover primarily between Ranma ½ and Sailor Moon but I've also brought some things in from Code Geass and Xenosaga. I also managed to bring in a bit of 3x3 Eyes in the last chapter and there was perhaps a familiar name from another series in chapter two. All rights belong to the creators of those series. If you don't tell them I'm stealing- I mean 'barrowing' their stuff, I'm sure they won't even care. I will continue to pilfer from the great authors of these series as I go on writing the story I couldn't write any other way.
Tuesday, September 2nd, 7059 A.C.E. (After Crystal Era)
She leapt from the crystal teleport platform and ran down the walkway, a child held in her arms. Ash fell thicker than snow and strands of fire lit the bloody sky. She didn't feel any safer here than on Venus. But if she could just reach the Queen...
She coughed and spat. The ash was in her eyes and in her mouth but there was nothing with which she could block it. Her throat burned and chest heaved.
"mommy?" A small hoarse voice managed to make itself heard.
She stopped, and looked in amazement at the boy in her arms. It was his first word and she couldn't help but smile. His face was soot blackened and his small, delicate little hands reached questioningly to the sky. She blinked the ash away from her eyes and looked up.
Bright flashes of yellow met burning strands of red in a small series of explosions. Her mother was fighting, far above the sky. She looked back down and continued to run, determined not to fail such a brave, kind woman.
The baby wouldn't stop coughing. Tears of desperation cleared small tracks of dust from her face. She could see the large doors ahead of her and she pushed her legs to the limit, their furious pumping only stopping when she was right before the massive crystal slabs.
The infant's coughing was getting weaker and she could feel the pain in her own lungs. Still burning ash had seeped into her lungs to torment her from the inside. She pulled on the handles with all her might, but the large doors would not move an inch. In exhausted fury, she beat against their crystal surface with a trembling fist. She could feel her body weakening, each blow feebler than the last.
She screamed out for anyone, anyone to open the doors, for someone to come and save them. Her voice cracked once, twice, then failed her completely as she fell to her knees. Her body convulsed in silent, ragged spasms as it desperately tried to take in air.
Her body, too weak to support the violent convulsions any more, went limp as she fell against the door. Her eyes fell to the child. He had been still for far too long. Trembling fingers wiped the ash from his tiny eyes and mouth, but he did not stir.
Her face was close to his, her grimy cheek almost pressed against his mouth. But she could feel nothing, not even the smallest breath to show he yet lived.
She summoned the last bits of her magic, chipping away at her own life to raise herself onto all fours. She placed her mouth to his and breathed out, transferring more ash than air. Then, with three of her slender fingers she pressed down on the small chest several times, desperately trying to make his miniature lungs take in the air they needed and, dare she think it, restart the heart that had probably already stopped.
Again and again, she tried to make the child breath while she shouted out for help. But it was all too much for her own lungs to stand and her body shuddered. The magic was burning her body up. She could see veins begin to show through wrinkled skin. All she could do was prevent herself from falling on the child as she collapsed on the ground.
Her face was too the sky, but she could no longer see the flashes of yellow light amongst the rain of fire. She didn't even blink as flecks of burning ash landed on her eyes. It was all over, everything they had worked for up to this point was over. It was hard to believe that the entire kingdom could be destroyed so fast. No one even knew what had gone wrong and now it was all ending. Back on her home planet people were suffocating as the spells and machines that maintained their atmosphere failed. And here, the cradle of human life was being covered in the ash of a million meteors, dragged behind the new, fiery moon and burned away by the ten thousand new volcanoes erupting do to that same moon's new gravity. The Earth was being destroyed from above and below as the human race died.
Was that a flash of yellow she just saw in the sky? Could her mother still be out there, still fighting? Her momentary feeling of hope disappeared as more coughs sent her body into spasms. Her vision was diming when a shadow blocked her view of the sky. The silhouette glowed golden around the edges, she should remember who he was...
The orange skirted Senshi was sobbing as she woke, her body heaving with the uncontrollable grief. She had thought she had a brother. She had thought he was out there somewhere. Somewhere in this new age, somewhere among the faceless masses, but he wasn't. He had died outside that door, choked by that burning, grey snow. She wouldn't be finding him among the random strangers of this time.
Oh why! Why her? Why did she have these memories, these powers? Why did her brother have to die in such a way? He had been young, so young, so innocent.
She felt a gentle hand stroke her hair. "Hush, hush… It's ok, I know, I know... It hurts to remember, doesn't it?" The voice was soft and warm, full of kindness and compassion.
The Senshi gathered fistfuls of white cloth into her hands and sobbed into the woman's soft lap.
"The door was locked!" she cried out, her voice ripping from her throat. "The door was locked! It should never have been locked! Never!"
The woman stroked her hair soothingly.
"Sshh, shh, I know, I know. They were like that, always spouting ideals, but the moment things got tough, all they thought of was themselves."
The blonde nodded, agreeing with the soft and gentle voice. She buried her face deeper into the skirt as the tears continued to come.
There was a tinkle of glass and she turned her head. A small glass vile settled in front of her eyes, held in delicate, white gloved fingers. The vile exerted a strange pull on her mind, drawing her eyes in. She didn't even notice that she had stopped crying as she gazed at the viscous liquid inside. Blacker than tar at midnight and darker than the deepest cave, the contents of the vile felt as if it could take away her very soul.
"Here now," the kind woman said, "drink this. I guarantee, you'll feel much better once you do."
She took the vile, not even questioning the soothing voice, and drank it all in one gulp. An odd, heady sensation passed through her body as she again placed her head on the warm lap. Soon she couldn't even remember why she had been crying.
"There…" the voice said, "isn't that better?"
She nodded and murmured her agreement, her eyes fallowing the gentle swaying of a lock of green hair.
"You've been a very naughty girl, you know." The woman's tone was light, playful even. The blonde couldn't help but agree with it and nodded her head vigorously. "You ruined my plans, and that is something that can not be forgiven. But all has turned out all right in the end. I have a better plan, and this time it will be so much more fun…"
Lina woke with a start, the sharp taste of bile filling her mouth. She tried to remember what she had been doing last night, but it was all a blank. She can't have had that much to drink, she did like to sneak a glass of wine from time to time, but she was always careful to maintain a certain image. The only time she had been truly drunk was when she was seven and she and Usagi had snuck in the wine cellar, deciding that her daddy really wouldn't miss just one barrel. She had been so embarrassed when she learned she had puked all over one of the maids that she had sworn off alcohol until only recently. Even then, she only drank enough to be sociable but little enough that she never seemed to finish more than two glasses in an entire night.
But wait, now she remembered, she had been with Usagi yesterday… They had ice-cream… That's right, then Usagi left suddenly. That was annoying, yes, but not the first time it had happened. As a matter of fact, in the week since she had met her friend, it had happened a total of five times already.
But what then… She remembered making her chauffer stop and let her off somewhere… But where…
She thought of calling her chauffer to get the full story from him, but something made her decide against it. It would be embarrassing to actually admit not remembering what had happened. Better for the servants to think that whatever she had done last night had been completely under control than have them questioning her judgment.
Lina rolled over in her bed and pulled the rope that hung beside it. Somewhere in the manor house a bell rang. Soon enough, a young woman with short, pale blond hair and wearing a traditional maid uniform stood in her doorway.
"Good morning Mistress." The woman curtsied formally to Lina, a carefully trained expression of politeness plastered across her rather plain features.
"Ah, Clair, timely as always I see. Is my bath ready?"
"Yes Mistress." Clair said, without hint of emotion in her silver eyes.
Lina nodded, expecting nothing less, and lifted her arms over her head, waiting expectantly. Clair removed the heiress' nightgown, folding it neatly in her arms. The maid then opened the door to an adjoining room and let Lina walk inside.
Lina sighed as she sank into the pleasantly warm water of the bath. Tilting her head back, she looked up through the glass ceiling. The pale dawn light of the True Sun had just begun to drown out the last of the stars. Titan was still clearly visible, waxing full in the west. The darkside of Earth's sister planet was also lit, burnished by the pale red light of the Solar System's second sun, long since set.
Lina sighed once again as she looked at Titan. How many times had she stared at the planet, wondering what her best friend was doing? Now Usagi was back, but nothing was the same. For Lina, no one could replace her best friend. Oh sure, she had friends a plenty. All Lina had to do was enter a room and everyone fell all over themselves to become friends with her. It wasn't like she minded the attention. Actually, she found it quite gratifying. But, it just wasn't the same. No one really wanted to get to know her, not like a real person. They all wanted to hang out with 'Lina Lovegood', starlet and heiress extraordinaire. Usagi was the only one who she had ever considered a true friend. But Usagi hadn't had the same problem. She had moved on, made new friends on Titan. And before Lina even knew Usagi was back, the pink haired girl was making friends.
Lina scowled as she thought of that mouse, Shion Blueriver. It wasn't that she had anything against the girl. It didn't really matter that the Mouse had less money than a cockroach. But why did the girl have to be so… so… so there. She was constantly near Usagi, almost as if her best friend had gained a red-headed shadow. And Usagi wouldn't stop trying to get them to be friends. Like that was ever going to happen. But even that could be tolerated. What Lina couldn't stand was that Usagi and her pet shadow were sharing some sort of secret. She would catch them whispering in dark corners together, talking to each other in odd phrases. Then, there were those times like last night. Usagi would drop everything and run off to God knows where. She never let Lina come with her, or even accepted her help but just dashed off without another word. Yet Lina never missed Shion quietly accompanying her out.
Lina stood in frustration, water cascaded from her long blond hair and athletic frame as fire flashed in her eyes. What secret were those two hiding! How could Usagi trust that, that Mouse, but not Lina!
Lina spun, one hand going across her chest, the other reaching for something in the pocket of a skirt she wasn't wearing. Clair stood at the edge of the bath, a towel draped over her arm. Her face was completely expressionless as always. Lina blushed, knowing the maid-servant had seen her sudden display of emotion.
"Done with your bath, Mistress?"
"Yes Clair," she said, getting out of the water and holding both of her arms away from her side. "You may dry me now."
"Of course, Mistress."
The rest of her morning preparations were done in their customary silence, that was, until Lina notice the clothes that had been laid out for her.
"Clair what is this?" Lina said, an edge of temper entering her voice.
"Your formal wear, Mistress." Clair replied in her customary monotone
"I can see that Clair, but what is it doing here?"
"Mistress, I was informed that you would be going to the Diet Building today. I assumed…"
The Diet Building was the structure which housed Earth's government. It towered on the edge of the Tokyo Metropolitan Area, officially a city unto itself. Lina's mother often went there to solicit the government for favors and contracts, or else attend various formal dinners with other influential individuals. In recent years she had taken to bringing Lina with her.
"You assumed wrong. My school uniform will suffice."
"As you wish, Mistress, but I shall have to inform Mrs. Lovegood." Clair's expression and voice did not change in the slightest as she bowed her head to Lina.
Lina's eyes flashed at the reminder that Clair had been given to her by her mother.
"I'm not going there on business but for a school field trip." Lina said, containing her ire. I am surprised that you would make such a mistake. Clair, when was your last check up? Perhaps there is a problem with your neural synapses."
"I shall schedule an appointment with the Professor." Clair bowed her head even lower.
"Good, now get my school uniform and put this away, you've wasted enough time already."
"As you wish."
Lina sighed, knowing that even if Clair did see the Professor, she would still tell her mother about the change in attire. Realians may look like humans, act like humans, and even be made largely of the same stuff as humans, but they weren't really. They were developed in Vector's laboratories, each specially crafted for a specific task. They all are given certain directives when 'born' to be obeyed implicitely. Clair had been given only one directive. She was to "Serve 'Febronia Citrine Lovegood' in all things and without reserve."
Clair was a 'gift' from Vector. One of the first of her kind, and the only one to be let out of their carefully controlled labs. It was a mark of how much they respected, and feared, her mother that they had given Clair to her. Still, Lina wished her mother had kept Clair, rather than setting her to spy on her daughter.
"Oh, and Clair," Lina said. The Realian paused in fastening her skirt to look up at her mistress' daughter. "Since it is a school fieldtrip, I will be going to school first. Please make sure Raki gets the right directions."
Clair merely bowed her head once more.
"Of course Mistress."
Lina took a final moment to inspect herself. She couldn't help nodding in approval. It had taken some time to teach Clair how Lina liked things, but now the heiress doubted if even she could have done a better job.
The hover limo was ready and waiting by the time Lina walked out her front door. Raki, her driver this week, was waiting with the door already open for her.
"School first, Mistress?"
Lina smiled at the man's open and cheerful face. She liked Raki, not just because he was better looking than that old fuss-pot George, but he always seemed to be laughing, like he found the whole world amusing. He was also the only servant that seemed to show his true emotions. Unlike the other servants, who all had carefully trained expressions of politeness just like Clair.
Once in the car, Lina found herself caught up in the man's almost jovial small talk and the trip to school passed by in a blur.
"Shall you be requiring my services again soon, Mistress Lina?" Raki asked as he guided her out of the limo.
"No Raki, just be back here at the usual time. The school has chartered an Air Bus for today's excursion and I shall be taking that to the Diet Building."
Raki's eyes twinkled at the thought of his mistress riding in something as mundane as a bus.
"As you wish. I hope you have a pleasant day, Miss Lina."
As Lina took her first appraising look at the entrance of her school, she could not miss a flash of bubblegum pink off to one side. Even from behind a tree Usagi's bright hair was still clearly visible.
Lina strode purposefully across the plaza but slowed as she neared the tree. She had caught a glimpse of red and knew that her friend was having another one of her whispered conversations with her mousey shadow.
Determined to finally find out what it was they were hiding, Lina stepped softly as she could up to the tree and sheltered behind it.
"…seen again last night…" That was the Mouse, even quieter than usual.
"What! But that can't be…" Usagi, just like her friend to remember only halfway through that she was supposed to keep her voice down.
"…beastmen…Kemen…black suit…Senshi…" The mouse, but what was she saying? Her voice was so soft that Lina could only make out every fourth word…
Lina's hair frizzed out as she spun to face the boy who had snuck up behind her.
Katan smirked at Lina's startled reaction. She flushed in embarrassment. To think, a Lovegood had been caught eavesdropping. Katan leaned toward her and she went as red as the Mouse's hair. His hand reached out and he tugged a lock of pink hair.
After a painfully high-pitched squeal, Usagi's head poked out from around the tree. "Katan! How many times have I told you… Lina! What are you doing here? Why didn't you say something?"
Lina shot a glare at Katan but recovered fast and smiled a dazzling smile at her best friend. She waved her hand airily, "Oh, I just wanted to surprise you, that's all. But Katan here," and she glared at the boy again, "beat me to it."
Lina shot a quick look at the red head's barely audible murmur. Sometimes that girl was just too sharp.
Lina's laugh was slightly false as she tossed her hair over one shoulder, dismissing the bespectacled girl.
"Anyway," Katan said, giving all three of them an odd look. "You girls had better head off to your homerooms. The teachers want to take attendance before we leave."
Usagi stuck her tongue out at Katan's back, but Lina could've sworn he had winked at her before sauntering off towards the school.
That boy needed to be taught a lesson, Lina thought to herself, and she wanted to be the one to give it to him.
A half an hour later and Lina was wishing she had let Raki drive her straight to the Diet Building. The Air Bus, a silly name for what was only an oversized hover-car, was cramped. Not to mention it smelled like the entire football team after a big game. She didn't even get her own seat, instead she had to share it with the Mouse. It had been Usagi's idea. She had probably thought it would bring them closer together. Well, we may close enough to rub elbows, but if Usagi thinks me smelling her cheep perfume will make us friends, she's mistaken. At least Usagi was paying for her matchmaking. She had to share a seat with that Katan boy and was not looking all too pleased about it.
Lina sighed and looked for something to occupy herself on this interminable ride. It never took this long in the jet. The Mouse was reading something on an outdated e-notebook. A sticker on one side declared it as property of the Furinkan High Library. Lina snorted in contempt. The girl couldn't even afford her own notebook. Why did the school even let her in?
Her eyes went back to Usagi. Her best friend was getting flustered as the boy next to her cheerfully chatted on. Her cheeks had puffed out in the way they had since they were children. A cute gesture, yet it never succeeded in conveying her true anger.
Well, serves you right. You should have just sat next to me.
Lina stared out the window for a bit, watching the sky scrapers move slowly past. She sighed, and thought how much better they would look without tubes poking out in every direction. Really, why couldn't people just use hover-cars, they were far more convenient.
Her eye went back to the Mouse next to her. Of course, people like her couldn't afford a hover-car. She couldn't even afford her own notebook. Lina looked at the device. The two-dimensional screen showed a hairy creature plowing through a group of policemen while carrying a crate on its back.
"Sailor Moon too late again, huh?"
The Mouse's head jerked back as if she had been slapped and looked at Lina in consternation. Lina was puzzled for a second until she realized she had spoken her thoughts out loud.
"Well, it's true isn't it?" Lina said, a little louder than she meant to be. "Just look at the title, 'Black Knights Raid Factory, Millions in Merchandise Stolen'. If Sailor Moon had actually been where she's supposed to be, it wouldn't have happened."
"It's not that simple…" The Mouse almost whispered.
"Like you would know." Lina scoffed, flicking her hair back over her shoulder. Sometimes people could be so ignorant. "Sailor Moon is a glory hound, plain and simple. She only shows up if there's enough of a crowd to notice her. I've seen her type a thousand times. There's no way she'd bother with a petty robbery like this."
"Petty?" The Mouse said. Oh, I could actually hear her that time. "The company lost millions of yen from the raid. How is that petty?"
"That's nothing to a corporation." She said, enlightening the girl who probably didn't comprehend the realities of business. "Their insurance will cover it easy. Sailor Moon wouldn't even turn her pretty little head."
Untrimmed red eyebrows furrow. Wow, she actually getting angry, must be a fan or something. Figures.
"Don't believe me? Just look at that video. No holo option and the picture quality isn't even that good. Some worker too poor to afford a real phone probably shot it. Like Sailor Moon would show up for that."
"T-That, that's… how can you…" The girl is actually trembling, and she once thought the girl had a spine?
"Face it, Sailor Moon's no hero, just a self obsessed little girl."
Lina was stunned and she touched the side of her face, still not believing what just happened.
"Don't talk about things you don't understand!" The redhead was yelling at her, tears of rage in her eyes. "Everyone's not… not like you!"
"Like me?" Lina said, anger getting the better of her, causing her voice to rise. "What do you know about me!"
"Know? You're Lina Lovegood!" The girl's voice was loud enough to carry to the other students. Even the teacher up front had turned in her seat. "Your life is plastered across every blog and news program there is! What's there not to know?"
"You think-!" Lina said, so angry that she was unable to finish the sentence. This Mouse assumed like everyone else that all her life was TV shows and caviar. None of them realized what it really meant to be a Lovegood. They never had to deal with the death threats and angry letters. They didn't get swarmed by people every time they stepped out their front door or had to spend hours in self defense classes so they could protect themselves from perverted teachers. There were times when Lina wished she had been born to any other family. Even if it meant having to check out e-notebooks from the school library.
"Shion…" Usagi's timid voice broke the sudden silence. "Lina's life hasn't been all that easy…"
Lina winced, she had always been taught not to show her weakness. But Usagi would understand. She would understand the hardships that came with being a Lovegood. She had even been there for some.
"Not that easy?" The redhead's voice was quieter now, but still perfectly audible. "When you and I both know there are things which no one should endure?"
"Shion…" Usagi's voice was full of sympathy as she reached across the aisle to put her hand on the redhead's shoulder. The Mouse clutched at Usagi's hand as a tear caused her cheep eyeliner run down her face.
Lina spent the rest of the ride in silence. She could hear the whispering of the other students and knew the whole thing would be up on the net by morning. The Mouse should be grateful to Lina, she would become a star overnight.
As Lina stepped off the bus she took a moment to look up. The Diet Building towered overhead, all stone pillars and sweeping archways, rising up from the smog to rest its great spired head in the clouds. She he had seen the structure before of course, but the architecture was still impressive. It had been disappointing to realize all that marble was just for show. It's not actually possible to make something this tall out of mere stone. But, and here she took a moment to marvel at the sight, it never failed to awe its visitors. Appropriate for the building that housed the governing body that presided over the world.
"Lina-chan…" Usagi said tentatively. Her red-haired shadow was hiding a tear streaked face behind Usagi's bright pink hair.
Lina smiled encouragingly at her best friend, trying to reassure her that there were no hard feelings between them. And there weren't, not as far as Usagi was concerned. The Mouse however… Well, Lina would just have to drop it, for now.
"Lina-chan," Usagi said again, more confidently this time. "I was wondering if you knew where a bathroom is. Shion…"
Of course, the Mouse. Lina glanced at the redheaded girl. Well, Usagi did have a point. She couldn't go walking through the most important building in the world looking like that. It would give the school a bad reputation.
"It's this way." She said, brushing her hair back over her shoulder as she turned to lead the way.
Lina stood outside the door of the single person bathroom with Usagi as the Mouse went in to wash her face. Usagi was clearly uncomfortable with the whole episode. She just stood there, fidgeting with a strand of pink hair.
"I-I'm sorry Lina-chan…" Usagi said, not quite meeting the blonde's eyes. Lina felt some regret at seeing how the fight had upset her best friend. She supposed she would have to do something to make things up with the Mouse before the trip was over.
"Shion's a good person, really." Usagi continued. "She's not normally like that…"
"I know, right? It took me totally by surprise!" Lina said, trying to act cheerful. "Who'd have thought she had it in her to slap me!"
Usagi's hands flew to her mouth in shock.
"She hit you? Are you ok Lina-chan?"
"It's no big deal." Lina said, waving her hand in dismissal. "I'd just like to know what set her off. I was just telling her how Sailor Moon couldn't care less about what happened to people and was just doing stuff for the attention. Then she…"
Lina stopped as she saw the expression on her friend's face. It was as if her cat had just told her that her parents were dead.
"You… don't really think that… Do you?" Usagi said, almost whispering.
"Of course!" Lina said, not willing to back down, even though she could see what it was doing to her friend. "If she really cared, she'd be out there right now. She'd find that mad man and stop him!"
"It's not like that! I… Sailor Moon can't just… It's not like anyone knows where he lives…"
"Then she should be out there trying to find him." Lina was tired of the conversation. Tired of Usagi's reaction. Tired of everyone believing the best of that stupid arrogant little girl called Sailor Moon. "But what's she doing instead? Probably just hiding out, going to school like everything's normal. Humph! She sounds like a hypocrite to me. If I ever found out who she was, I'd give her a piece of my mind, I can tell you that!"
Lina only saw a trailing strand of pink hair as the bathroom door opened, then slammed shut behind her only real friend in the world. Lina stood there, confused. What had she said? She had seen Usagi was getting upset, but she still didn't know what she had done.
"Usagi-chan…" Lina said, tentatively approaching the door. She could hear sobs coming from the other side.
"I'm sorry Usagi-chan, don't cry…" Lina was at a loss as for what she could do.
"Just talk to me, tell me what's wrong…" Lina pleaded.
The door opened a crack and Lina could see her friend curled up in a corner, face buried in her hands. The door clicked shut and Lina looked down at the shorter, red-haired girl in front of her.
"Is- is Usagi ok?" Lina said, hating to have to ask the bespectacled girl. "Why is she so upset, I don't know what I said."
"Usagi…" The redhead said carefully. "She'll be all right, she's tougher than she looks. But she needs a bit of time."
The girl didn't need to tell Lina about her Usagi. She knew already how tough her friend could be.
"Ok, but does she need to talk to me? I want to apologize." Lina wasn't sure what she'd be apologizing for, but this was Usagi, she had to try.
"No, no… It's all right. I'm sure she understands you didn't mean to hurt her." The Mouse said, sounding more mature than ever before. "But I think it would be best if you'd go on ahead of us. It will be a while before she calms down."
"A-alright." Lina said, hating to leave her friend, but not seeing what else she could do. "But I wish I knew what I said…"
A flash of pain crossed the girl's face.
"It's not something that I think I should tell you."
That got Lina mad. What couldn't this Mouse tell her? Usagi was her friend after all!
Lina just sighed as she turned and walked away. If Usagi wouldn't tell Lina directly, then the girl really shouldn't say anything. But Lina really wished her friend would just talk to her. They had never had any secrets before, but now… It really wasn't fair of her to blame the Mouse, but she couldn't help thinking that Usagi was trusting a girl she had known for less than a month over Lina, whom she had known since they were both babies.
Lina turned a corner without even thinking and stopped. The hallway she was in was had gone dark. She turned around and saw the corridor behind her was still lit, with people going about their daily routine. She turned back around to see what could have caused this one hallway to be unlit and froze. Two spots of light had appeared in the gloom, red and beady. And, from somewhere in the darkness, she could hear the faint sound of heavy breathing.
Usagi knew she should talk to Lina. But, she had thought… She had thought that if she could have told anyone that she was Sailor Moon, then it would have been Lina, her best friend. But Lina hated her! Well, not her not Usagi, not exactly, but Sailor Moon. And weren't they really the same person. The worst part was, Usagi wasn't so sure Lina was wrong to hate her.
Shion closed the door softly and walked over to Usagi. Gently, she pulled Usagi's hands away from her face and wiped her eyes with a faded handkerchief.
"Blow." She said, pressing the handkerchief against Usagi's nose.
Usagi obeyed and blew.
"Better now?" Shion asked.
Usagi nodded. Then, unable to help herself, she flung her arms around the slightly smaller girl.
"Is it true?" Usagi asked her partner. "Are we really not doing all we can? Is it wrong to be going to school while Zero is still at large?"
"We're doing everything we can." The redhead said, patting Usagi's back in a half awkward gesture of comfort. The girl really wasn't comfortable with being hugged, but Usagi wasn't ready to let her go.
"Are we really?" Usagi said, the doubts that constantly plagued her coming to the surface. "Isn't it selfish to go to school like nothing has changed? We should be out there, searching for him, before more people are hurt." She was thinking of Tuxedo Kamen and Sailor Venus now, both of whom were still missing.
"You go out every night, you hardly sleep, and you can't even keep up with your school work. I've seen your latest tests, if this goes on you're going to flunk out. You've given up everything you can to help others. And, as for those few hours you let yourself have to go to school, you spend the entire time with your head on your desk, fast asleep."
Usagi was surprised the quiet girl knew about her schoolwork. She had tried to hide it from Shion, knowing she would worry. But then, the girl saw everything, even if she never said much about it.
"It's still not enough." Usagi said, holding Shion a little more tightly than before and ignoring the fact that the redhead was starting to squirm a little. "Everything we've done still isn't enough. We still haven't managed to change anything. We still haven't caught him."
"I'm monitoring the net 24/7, but we can't catch everything. We just have to believe that it will get better and try our hardest. That's all we can really do."
Usagi sniffed and nodded. However, she kept hold of Shion for another few minutes, to the girl's immense discomfort. Sniffing, Usagi eventually got up and washed her face.
Static crackled and the soft music that had been playing in the background was cut off.
"Due to some unfortunate circumstances," a man's perfectly calm, almost monotone voice said, "we will have to request that all visitors leave the building. Please follow the signs marked as 'Exit' and walk in an orderly fashion. All employees are to head to their assigned emergency positions. This is not a drill. I repeat…"
The two girls looked at each other and Usagi's hand drifted up to her chest to touch the golden ornament pinned there.
Shion shook her head quietly and looked to the corner of the room where a small camera was mounted on the wall. Usagi understood. They couldn't transform where they'd be seen or everyone would know who they were. They had decided long since that that would be more trouble than it was worth.
Still without saying anything, Shion walked to the door and slowly eased it open, then shut it again as a gout of heat and flame rushed into the room. Both girls backed up as they saw the door go red hot, the metal beginning to melt in the center.
Usagi thought she heard her partner shout as the redhead pulled her to the ground. A pillar of fire lanced over their heads and broke itself on the tiled wall behind them. The two girls rolled together under the sink and Usagi banged her elbow painfully on a pipe. What was left of the door was smashed off its hinges and a monster walked in.
The creature didn't enter the room quickly but took its time, flicking out its tongue and swinging its head this way and that. It was about the size of a crocodile but its body resembled that of a gecko. But the thing that made you know that this creature was not natural was the fact that its entire body had been covered in flame. If you've seen baked Alaska then you'd have some idea of how this creature looked. Only, the flames showed no signs of dimming and when it looked at the two girls, huddled beneath a porcelain sink, they could see that its eyes were missing, replaced by a black void.
The firelizzard opened its jaws and Usagi could see an inferno burning in its belly. Usagi glanced at her friend and could see the same determination on her face. This wasn't the time to be hiding. Once again, danger threatened and the world needed the Sailor Senshi.
"MOON PRISM POWER, MAKE-UP!"
"MERCURY POWER, MAKE-UP!"
Usagi felt a rush of familiar power as her old cloths vanished and her Senshi uniform materialized itself. She had once again become the defender of love and justice, Sailor Moon. Usagi wasted no time but just called out her attack.
"Moon Tiara Action!"
The monster was split neatly down the middle by the circle of golden light. But, instead of turning immediately into dust like the beastmen did, it exploded.
Sailor Moon felt herself flung against the wall as heat and flame rushed over her. The tile at her back caved and she found herself looking at the ceiling of another room. Dust and embers settled about her and it was a while before she could extricate herself from the smashed tubing and bits of tile. Coughing, she had to steady herself as her thoroughly addled brain caused the room to pitch and roll. Looking around, she saw a blue skirt and a pair of legs struggling to get out of a crushed water heater.
Stumbling through the wreckage, she bent down and pulled the girl to her feet. Mercury wobbled a bit on her heals, the girl never had gotten used to the things while Usagi now had no trouble even as she stood on top a pile of debris.
The two girls looked back at the small bathroom. It was now a charred mess with water fountaining out from odd places. You couldn't even tell where the toilet had once been. Usagi knew she shouldn't have survived the explosion but when she looked back at Sailor Mercury she could see the redhead's glasses had remained unbroken. Usagi still couldn't understand how they could take a hit like that, but Zero managed toss them around like rag dolls.
"They didn't use to explode…" Sailor Moon said, stating the obvious.
"No…" Mercury replied, still sounding shaky. "I didn't get a good scan of it either. Let's hope they're not all like that."
There didn't appear to be an exit to this particular room so the two waded through the rubble and staggered back out into the main hall from the ruined bathroom.
The scene in the main hall reminded Usagi of the Tolar Tower, with one small difference. Among the beastmen tearing through security drones, were several of the 'firelizards' like the one they had just detonated in the bathroom. All of whom were doing the best they could to turn the building into an inferno as they shot pillars of fire from open jaws.
Off to one side, Usagi could see a group of Knightmares. But, instead of actively engaging the beastmen or firelizards they were protecting groups of people escaping into pills and hovervehicles. The beastmen were so preoccupied with shredding the drones that they ignored the people. Usagi caught sight of a uniform she recognized and sighed in relief.
"There's so many!" Usagi said, having to shout over all the noise. "What should we do?"
"Just find Zero!" Mercury shouted back to her. "If we can stop him, then it's a good chance the beastmen will just go away!"
"But he could be anywhere! How do we find him?"
A firelizard got too close to a guarding Knightmare and the mech let loose with a burst of automatic fire. The resulting explosion shook the floor and Shion had to lean on Sailor Moon for balance. When the smoke cleared they could see the Knightmare had lost an arm.
"He'll be where he can get the most attention!" Mercury shouted up at her. "Where can he go and make sure the whole world would notice?"
Usagi had to think about that. Which was kind of hard, considering all the monsters trying their hardest to wreck the room around her. Also, she didn't really know much about the Diet Building. It wasn't exactly a hot topic on Titan.
"Uhmmm, I don't knowww!" Usagi whined. Another explosion rocked the floor. A firelizard was wandering up to them, obviously wanting to know if Senshi was indeed flammable.
A focused stream of bubbles hit the creature which immediately turned into steam. When the fog cleared, a large black lizard was lying still on the floor.
"I wasn't sure that would work." Shion said, sounding a little proud of herself.
"Is it dead?" Usagi asked, not wanted to get closer to check it out.
"No." Mercury said in the confident voice she only got in uniform. "I'm getting a better reading on it now. It's still alive, but I think it's asleep. Wait…" The creature had begun to stir and Mercury gave it another blast of bubbles.
"They don't stay down long…" Usagi said doubtfully.
"Apparently not." Mercury said, not sounding too concerned. "But with this we might be able to make it to Zero without being blown through every wall along the way."
"I was thinking about that." Usagi said, amazed at how easy it was to talk with a giant demon lizard asleep in front of her. "What's that place where all those government people gather and Prime Minister… Oh, wait, that's not what he's called here. What was his name…"
"You mean the President?" Shion prompted as a Knightmare set of another firelizard and the building shook.
"Yes that's him!" Usagi said, pleased to remember. "You know that room with all the flags and stuff and he talks about the 'state of the conference' or something."
"The State of the Confederacy." Shion corrected. "He usually gives that during a joint session with both the House and Senate. You're talking about the House Chamber, that's where the meeting is normally held."
At this point Mercury had to stop talking in order to give the firelizard another spray and knock out a second firelizard that had approached. For Sailor Moon's part, she had noticed some of the beastmen were getting tired of smashing battle drones and had decided to take an interest two girls in sailor uniforms standing in a wrecked doorway. One toss of her tiara later and they had all turned to dust. But now they really had to get moving. The other monsters had noticed a good two dozen of their friends had just been dusted.
"Well?" Sailor Moon asked her partner. "Do you think that's where he is? I don't even know where to find it!"
"Wait! I'm pulling up a map right now."
Sailor Venus looked at her mistress' husband and couldn't help but feel a sense of pride, standing next to such a great man. He was already an emperor in her mind. The man hadn't even needed to say anything. He had appeared in the middle of the chamber in a torrent of shadow as all the great men ran.
Now, she stood on his left, her mistress on his right, and beyond her was the swordsman. He had decided to join her mistress as well. No longer would he stoop to chasing after Sailor Moon like a dog. As evidence of his change of allegiance, he had switched from somber black to purest white. Sailor Venus, on the other hand, was now in starkest black. It was her small way of showing her mourning for her dead brother. She kept the orange, though, a reminder to Sailor Moon of who it was that had finally come for vengeance.
Zero stood proudly at the podium of leaders and laughed, addressing the world.
"You never thought you'd see the day, did you." His voice was utterly confident. This was a victory speech and he knew it. "I'm sure you thought someone would catch me. The police, the army, FBI, CIA, or perhaps even… Sailor Moon?"
He allowed himself a little chuckle at that last name. The black suited Senshi had to agree, the idea of Sailor Moon stopping him was laughable.
"But here I am, at the center of your government and I'm done playing games. There will be no more demands, no more elaborate plans, no more hostages… Today, I declare war on the world! The world that has denied me once again of what should rightfully have been mine!" The last sentence was shouted from behind the dark mask. Sailor Venus' heart quickened in response.
"To show that this is no bluff, but that I am in deadly earnest, I will have you watch the seat of your government crumble around me. The fire of its destruction will be the signal of the old regime's passing and the beginning of a new empire! Revived from the past! Greater than ever before!"
The floor rocked with the power of Zero's voice and the orange skirted Senshi found she was having trouble keeping her feet. Then, the large double doors to the chamber flew off their hinges to crash in the center of the room.
Sailor Moon stood at the top of the steps, smoke and fire billowing behind her as her battle streak face gazed down on Zero, the fire of purest passion in her eyes. It was as if Artemis, the goddess of the hunt herself, had come down to Earth in order to pass judgment on mere mortals. For that one moment, Sailor Venus could not imagine opposing her and part of herself asked why she even should.
"Ah, if it isn't the would be hero, Sailor Moon." Zero's mocking voice brought her mind back on track. This was for her brother!
There was the sound of coughing and the red-haired, blue skirted Senshi stumbled out of the smoke. Sailor Moon was forced to abandon her regal goddess pose to catch the girl before she fell.
The black suited Senshi smiled contemptuously to herself. She was going to enjoy what was about to happen.
"I see you've brought your sidekick!" Zero said cheerfully.
"Zero!" The pink haired girl shouted, trying in vain to regain her regal pose. "In the name of the Moon, I will stop your reign of terror!"
Her mistress laughed girlishly at the ridiculous statement. Draping herself on her husband, she planted a kiss on his dark visor.
"Have fun, dear. I don't think you'll be needing me." The green haired beauty said. "We'll make sure the finale is ready by the time you're done."
"You'd better hurry." Her husband responded lovingly. "This won't take long."
With a second parting kiss, her mistress waved to the doomed Senshi and vanished in swirl of shadows along with the white-clothed swordsman.
Zero stood for a while, staring at the spot where his wife had vanished. Then, he shook his head and sat down in a plush chair, resting his booted feet on the podium.
"Well?" He said to the sailor suited warrior who still hadn't moved from the top of the steps. "Weren't you going to stop me, in the name of the Moon?"
Sailor Moon took a step forward, hand reaching to her tiara. She didn't seem to know how to handle Zero's laid back manners and looked to her companion for help. But the other girl just seemed deep in thought.
'They know they're beat.' Said a dark voice in her head.
It was right, she thought. They knew they couldn't defeat her master and didn't know what to do.
"I'll tell you what." Zero said. "I'm a sporting man. If you can beat my subordinate here," one black clad arm gestured in her direction, "then I'll call the whole thing off. I'll go home and pretend this whole thing never happened. Think of a new way to get my message across. What do you say?"
Sailor Moon took another step down towards the chamber floor. Sailor Venus took this as her cue and leapt into the air. Looking down at the pathetic excuses for Senshi, she called out her attack.
The Moon princess dove behind a desk, narrowly dodging the yellow beam. The black suited Senshi landed not long after her attack and swung a viscous backhand at the bespectacled face of the second Senshi.
The girl was quicker than she had thought and managed to get her arms up before the blow hit. Still, the orange skirted Senshi had put enough force in her blow to send the smaller Senshi careening through several rows of furniture.
"Wait! Sailor Venus, we don't want to hurt you! We aren't your enemies!" White gloved arms had wrapped around her from behind in a surprisingly strong grip that pinned her arms to her side.
But the hold was one of an amateur. She jerked her blonde head back and was rewarded with a satisfying squeal of pain. She then proceeded to rake her heel down the girl's instep, causing the pink haired amateur's hold to loosen just enough. Grabbing the white gloved arm she pulled the Moon Princess across her hip and over her shoulder.
Sailor Venus had barely needed the leverage of the throw with her enhanced strength. She was pleased to see pink pigtails stream out as the girl flew through the air.
'Now finish her.' Said the voice in her head. Lifting a finger, she pointed it at the still airborne Sailor Moon. It was a perfect chance, no way of dodging, but she hesitated.
'Think of your brother." The voice urged and images of that soot covered body lying outside locked crystal doors came back to her.
With a cry of rage, she called out her attack.
Something hit her from the side and she watched in a white fury as her attack veered off target. Someone, probably that other Senshi, the bubble girl, had thrown something at her. On further inspection, she noticed the smashed remains of a desk littered around her.
"You!" The dark Senshi shrieked as she jabbed her finger at the redhead.
But the girl was one step ahead of her and had taken cover behind a stone pillar before she could call out her attack. A thick mist began to spill from behind the pillar. A smokescreen! The blonde spun back to where she had last seen Sailor Moon. If she lost sight of her main target now, the coward might never show her face again and she'd loose her chance at revenge.
Too late. The Princess had hidden herself and the fog was rolling in fast. The room had gotten cold and she was soon straining her eyes to make out the shapes of furniture in the blanket of white.
'You see?' said the voice in her head. 'This is how they've always worked. Talking about truth and justice as they skulk in the shadows. Creeping out to save themselves whenever things get tough.'
Sailor Venus let out a cry of rage and frustration as she attacked everywhere at random. Yellow beams split the fog in wide arcs and crashed into expensive furnishings. But the fog never let up for long.
The enraged Senshi slipped on a step, cracking her head against stone. Suddenly she could think again. The fog hadn't lifted yet, that meant that Sailor Moon and her sidekick were probably still in the room. But if they were, they hadn't tried to attack her. If they weren't after her then…
The girl spun in the direction of the podium. Sure enough, she could make out a faint golden glow just starting to form.
Her attack hit the glowing spot in a burst of energy. The black suited Senshi could hear a cry of surprise and dismay. Orange skirt flaring out behind her, she pounced on the unprepared Moon Senshi. This close and the mist didn't matter. Venus laid into the girl, pummeling every part of her body she could reach. With each thud of skin against skin, the memory came flashing back to her. A red sky. A crystal palace. That one, small word, both his first and last. The tiny hand, reaching for a mother neither of them would ever see again. The ash. The coughing. The screaming for help. The locked doors.
White gloves had her in a headlock. The sidekick. Somewhere, someone was laughing insanely in a dark, deep voice, but she didn't care. The black suited Senshi just pointed her finger over her shoulder and called out her attack.
There was a scream of pain and blood spattered across her shoulder. She didn't even bother to look. The mist had cleared and she could now see the once great Moon Princess lying at her feet. The girl didn't look so pretty anymore.
'Finish her.' This time she hadn't needed the voice's prompting. She pointed her finger straight at the girl's heart.
"W-why?" The word was a quiet, half broken thing yet it echoed in the empty chamber.
"Why?" Sailor Venus said, not quite believing the girl even needed to ask. "You Killed My Brother, That's WHY!"
"IN THE NAME OF JUPITER, I SUMMON REI-SYOU!"
Sailor Venus felt something hit her from behind. Her whole body went numb and convulsed as a voice like thunder echoed and died. What had happened? Had another ally they didn't know about come to save Sailor Moon? No! What about her vengeance! She couldn't let it end here!
Zero had jumped to his feet and was roaring at the interruption. Fire had finally reached the chamber and was ringing the walls. Smoke and tiny embers were starting to fill her vision, reminding her once again of the night when what had been most precious was taken from her.
"In The Name Of Jupiter, I Summon Fuu-Yao-Chi-Chuu!"
The voice thundered out another strange attack as Zero let loose a storm of lightning. The girl could feel some of the numbness ebbing and was able to lift her head. A giant spider had appeared behind her master as energy crackled in every direction. The large creature was on his back, trying to wrap him in its web. The helmeted man was clearly struggling as energy sparked in his hands only to dissipate almost immediately.
A large figure had made an incongruously soft landing next to her. She could move her arm a little but her throat was still tight and she couldn't make her mouth obey her. She tried to get better look at the man as he stooped and threw something over his shoulder.
Heavy footsteps. Her master was screaming, but there was a note of triumph in the sound. The man bent down near her. She could see a bit of his face, but the only thing she really noticed was a dark green and gold embroidered mask that covered his eyes. The blonde found she could swallow at last and inched her hand in the man's direction.
"Save… Venus…" Said a small but urgent voice
"Can't, Princess." The man rumbled. "I've only got two arms and the place is rigged to blow."
"No… you must…" But the rest of the Moon Princess' order was muffled as the man threw her over his unoccupied shoulder.
The black suited Senshi slowly raised her finger to the man's back.
As the man rose to his feet, Venus almost thought she could see a faint outline of gold around his broad shoulders.
A flash of memory. A dark silhouette standing over her lit by the faintest trace of gold. He had been there that night. With fire in the sky and ash covering the ground. He had come. His rage had been terrible to behold and the crystal doors had shattered. She had never thought he had it in him. Everyone knew he hadn't gotten his mother's power, but no one suspected just how far he had gone to compensate for that.
He had carried her into the palace, a child in his other arm. He must have rousted out every healer in the palace. He stood next to her bed and cried as he told her that he had been too late to save her brother. Tears fell like rain on her sheets as he lamented not being there sooner. The man had vowed to kill the fool who had locked the gate even as he hugged the child in his own arms closer to his heart.
The sound of glass shattering brought her back to the present. The man stood at a smashed window, a Senshi slung over each shoulder.
'No!' Sailor Venus wanted to shout. 'Take me with you!' But her throat had clenched tight once more and she couldn't get the words past her lips.
"In the name of Jupiter, I summon Shou-Rin!"
The man's voice rumbled to her across the room and she knew her chance was gone.
'You see?' The dark voice was back in her mind and sounding almost smug. 'They left you after all. They don't really care about anyone else, only themselves.'
Tears flowed from her eyes as the three people who could have saved her from the darkness in her heart vanished from sight.
A shadow passed over her and she could see Zero standing over head. He was completely motionless, helmeted head turned in her direction, watching the tears run down her face. She expected him to hit her, to blame her for everything that had gone wrong, to punish her for the weakness of wanting to go with the enemy. He did none of these things.
Bending down and gathered the blonde girl up in his strong arms. He was gentle, and held her as a father would his child. Resting her head against his chest, she was surprised to feel the warm steady beat of his heart.
The man took a step forward and the shadows rose to meet them. Soon, she was being carried down a corridor of darkness. The one who held her was barely distinguishable from the surroundings. It was as if she floated in an endless abyss.
Sailor Venus looked at the man standing next to her. Firelight reflected off his dark visor as he watched the Diet Building burn, its flames billowing from under archways and rising to scorch the clouds. Rather than reflecting light, his black cloak seemed to draw it in, giving the man an aura of shadow. Even the Red Sun, setting just behind him, was diminished by his presence.
A soft chuckle echoed from inside his helmet. The sound could have frozen marrow, yet it was tinged with a kind of regret. He spoke, slowly, and his voice was such that she was compelled to listen.
"It is a poor consolation." He said as sirens sounded in the distance. "If this had been her palace… If it had been her fighting me and not her daughter…"
The helmet turned in the orange skirted Senshi's direction and she could feel the power of his gaze upon her.
"It was not I who cast off the Moon. No… She did that herself." His tone was bitter, the firelight no longer glinting from his dark helm.
"To save the Earth. Is what she would have said." And his voice mocked that noble sentiment.
"Oh, the Earth was saved, oh yes. Four million dead, but she was always willing to let others make the sacrifice. Not…" and now his tone contained a wry humor. "Not that their lives would have particularly mattered to me either."
The man was silent for a long time after that. The dark Senshi watched as red light of an emergency hover flicked across his visored face. In the distance she could hear the hiss as gouts of water crashed down on dying flame. The Red Sun had sunk behind the nearest skyscrapers.
"This land should have been mine…" His voice had turned truly black and he didn't look at her this time, only stared across at the charred stone of building. The Senshi could feel the emotion flowing off him in waves. A mixture of malice, envy, and regret.
"I was next in line for the throne. Not that anyone much cared about that sort of thing. Japan had long since been civilized by the rest of the world. But I had plans…" His voice faded off into memory before coming back strong. "I had discovered something, you see. A power, locked in the family's blood. I would use it and reclaim my birthright!"
Again there was silence as his last sentence echoed and died. A red light still tinged the sky and the first stars had yet to appear. When he spoke again his voice was twisted. His sinisterly smooth words distorted by a rage that he barely held in check.
"Then she came. With her friends and her love and justice. The world welcomed her! They called her a hero and followed her without question! They gave her what was rightfully mine! And when I opposed her, what did they do? They cast me out! Called me a villain and sealed me away with my wife! Condemning us to spend all eternity in a timeless grey void! The only comfort, a single window with which we could view all that they had denied us!"
The blonde haired Senshi felt a pang of sympathy the man, an emperor in her mind, if nowhere else. She felt like reaching out to him, but somehow knew he did not want comfort. Deep inside, a small voice gave a contemptuous harrumph, but she paid it no mind.
"But now…" and the man's deep voice rose, resounding off the surrounding towers. "Finally! The time has come when all seals are undone! And I shall have my kingdom…"
"And kill that woman's offspring while you're at it, right dear?" A woman had landed on the roof next to them, her green hair settled around her, leaving not a strand out of place. A soft tap sounded behind her and the black suited Senshi turned to see a young man in a white formal suit and black mask standing beside her. She knew his appearance should invoke some emotion, but could only think about how good he looked in white.
"Did you finish the preparations?" The dark voice snapped her attention back to the helmeted man.
"Of course, dear." The green haired woman said as she slipped her arms around her husband's. "I can guarantee it'll be quite a show."
"Good!" He said, and the anger was gone, replaced by triumph. "Watch! As the old makes way for the new!"
He raised one gloved hand to the sky, the first stars separating it from the darkness. In it was a device with but a single button. The Senshi felt an urge to knock it from his hand. But, before she could even determine where the strange desire had risen from, the man let out a roar of laughter and pressed the button.
The world trembled and the blonde stumbled in her heals. Black gloves steadied her. The white suited man had gripped her firmly, allowing her to witness the destruction the dark cloaked man had wrought.
The stone pillars of the Diet Building trembled under the shock of multiple explosions. For a moment, the tremors seemed to cease. Then, a cloud of dust and fire rose from the building's base as the pillars began to crumble. The whole structure was collapsing in on itself as bit by bit it crashed to Earth. The outer stone fell away quickest, revealing the skeleton of carbon tubing beneath. The Diet Building screamed out its last moments as what was left of it warped and bent, yielding to the slow demands of gravity.
Zero was laughing in maniacal joy as his wife smiled in pure pleasure. The two reveled in the last fragments of a once great building slowly becoming dust in the wind. Venus had to admit it was an impressive sight. Rescue hovers outlined where the building had once stood and a pillar of smoke rose to meet the clouds. But somewhere, somewhere deep inside her there was a small blonde girl that screamed in rage. Looking down, she couldn't help but notice that her swordsman's hand had curled in a vice like grip about the hilt of his thorny green blade.
Usagi found herself being carried lower and lower into the city. She had been slung over one of the man's shoulders while Sailor Mercury was draped over the other. Blood dripped freely from Mercury's face but she hadn't managed to get a better look at it.
The skateboard like creature that the man had summoned slowed as he leapt off of it and on to a balcony. Opening a door that didn't seem to be locked, the man stepped inside and turned on the lights. The first thing Usagi noticed was the black cat that had come to greet them. It had a crescent moon mark on its forehead.
The man nodded to the cat. He set Usagi as gently as he could on to one couch and Mercury on to the other. The cat jumped up next to her and rubbed her head against Usagi's face with a purr of concern.
"Luna?" Usagi asked dumbly, even the one word made her body ache. It couldn't be her cat, could it?
"It's me, Usagi-chan." The cat said in reply.
"B-but, how? Why?" Usagi asked, still not quite believing it.
The cat didn't answer immediately but decided to lick her fur into place before responding. The man walked into another room. Usagi could hear the rattle of dishes and sound of running water.
"I saw Zero's statement on TV and thought you could use some extra help." The cat finally said.
"But who is he? How do you know him? Why would he help us?" The questions flowed out of her mouth faster than she could think resulting in a stabbing pain from her battered ribs.
"Just calm down Usagi-chan and I'll explain." Her cat soothed her. "I met Juno, or Jupiter Knight as he was known in Crystal Tokyo, at the Tolar Tower. He had discovered Shion-chan even before I did."
What? Jupiter Knight? Why hadn't Luna mentioned something like this before? And Crystal Tokyo, where was that? Although, now that she thought about it, both names did sound familiar.
Jupiter Knight, or was it Juno, came back into the room with a tray in his hands. His mask was gone and his clothes had changed from the tattered black tuxedo he had been wearing into a normal office worker's clothes.
"Drink this." The man rumbled, putting a cup of herbal tea to Usagi's mouth. "It should speed the healing process. Though, with your magic, I'm sure you'll heal soon enough on your own."
"Mercury?" Sailor Moon asked, sipping a little of the bitter tea.
"Nothing I can do there." Juno sighed. "It's a miracle she's not dead, must be that Senshi magic protecting her. Pity about her eye."
Usagi was on her feet in an instant, ignoring the pain in her chest. Pushing past Juno, she fell at her friend's side. Mercury was pale and her glasses had been shattered. In the spot where her right eye should have been was a black mess. Blood still seeped out of an empty socket.
"H-how? When?" Usagi muttered. Then, the memory came back to her.
From the moment she had seen Zero standing behind the podium, Sailor Venus in black on his left and C.C. and Tuxedo Kamen in white on his right, she knew it was hopeless. Still, she had been prepared to try. When the two in white had left and Venus had attacked, she thought they might have a chance. The plan had formed in her mind as the orange skirted Senshi had tossed her across the room. The last two times they had defeated Zero had been by taking him by surprise. If they could do it again, then they might have a chance.
The plan was working, in the confusion of Venus' attacks and concealed by the mist, Usagi had positioned herself to strike in Zero's blind spot. But Sailor Venus had found them out. She had been hitting her faster than Usagi could see. Then, Mercury had come up behind Venus, putting the blonde into some sort of hold. Venus didn't even hesitate she just, just…
Usagi still didn't know why the girl had been working for Zero. Or why Tuxedo Kamen had left with C.C. This was the first time they had failed to protect the city and Usagi wonder how they had even managed up until now. And now, and now…
"Can… can it be healed?" Usagi desperately asked the big man standing over her.
"I don't know." His voice sounded flat, emotionless. "Senshi magic can heal most things, even re-grow some organs. But it can't do anything if you lose a limb. Something like an eye it's… Even if the eye does grow back, I doubt she'll ever be able to see properly out of it."
"Is there anything I can do?" Usagi said, clutching her friend's hand.
"If you had your full powers-"
"No, Usagi-chan." Luna broke in. "I'm afraid there's nothing more you can do for her."
Juno gave the cat a long look before he continued.
"There are some more modern options available." The big man said slowly. "A bionic eye, for instance."
"W-we… couldn't afford…" Usagi almost leapt in surprise at her friend's shaky voice. Mercury's good eye squinted up at her and the girl's fingers tightened around her own.
"I'd help pay, Shion-chan. After all it's my fault you were hurt!" Usagi was desperate to help her friend, but Shion just kept shaking her head.
"Y-you… don't… understand." Mercury said, trying to lift herself into a sitting position. "Even your family couldn't…"
"Lina-chan!" Usagi said, hurrying to help prop her friend up. "If I asked Lina, I'm sure she could afford it."
"Lina Lovegood?" Shion asked with a dry chuckle. Then she winced and slapped her hand to the socket of her eye which had begun to bleed again. "I really doubt she would be willing to… Mr. Juno, is that you?" She asked, noticing the man for the first time.
"It's me, Ms. Blueriver." The man cut in before Usagi could defend the good nature of her childhood friend. "And it's just Juno, or Mr. Skybreaker if you have to, but I prefer Juno."
Shion actually smiled at that.
"Then you'll just have to call me Shion." Her voice was starting to sound stronger and Usagi breathed a sigh of relief. "But why are you here? What happened to the Diet Building?"
"It's gone, Shion-chan." Usagi said. "Zero destroyed it. I saw it crumble. If Juno here hadn't saved us, we would both be dead."
"Juno did?" Shion asked, evidently confused.
"Yep." Usagi said. "He's the Jupiter Knight, apparently."
"Jupiter Knight?" Shion was even more confused. "Does that mean he's the Senshi of Jupiter?"
"Not exactly," said the man. He was starting to glare at Luna as he said it. "How much do you two remember?"
"I blacked out before you arrived so not much…" Shion said. Usagi couldn't help but tremble as a look of pure rage came into Juno's eyes.
"Not that." Juno said sharply. "I mean about Crystal Tokyo. How much do you remember of your past lives?"
Both Shion and Usagi looked confused. The name Crystal Tokyo was familiar to her, but Usagi couldn't remember where she had heard it before.
"Are you talking about the Crystal Queen movement?" Shion asked, trying to appease the agitated man. "Those fanatics that believe in a legendary Goddess made of crystal that is reborn from age to age."
"Luna!" Juno shouted, his voice making a lamp tremble on its stand. "Have you told them nothing?"
"I thought it would be best for them to remember on their own." Luna said primly, unperturbed by the man towering over her.
"Cats!" Juno spat the word like a curse.
"That's your master talking." Luna said reproachfully.
"I'm beginning to think he was right." Juno said, taking a few breaths to calm himself down. "I suppose I'll have to tell them then."
"As you wish." Luna said, not sounding all that concerned.
The man sighed and sat down on one of his chairs. Usagi wasn't sure she liked this man, his temper had nasty habit of flaring up when you least expected it. Also, what kind of man didn't like cats?
"How to begin?" The man said, brushing his hair back. "There's so much to tell and, even though I remember much of my life, I wasn't the oldest of us, the second generation. There are some things I couldn't tell you, even if I did remember it perfectly." He stopped for a while, an expression of deep thoughtfulness on his face.
"I suppose I should start by telling you that none of us are from this time period." He began.
"But-" Shion said, but was cut off by a golden eyed glare.
"I'm not saying that you weren't born here." Juno continued. "Your parents are your real parents, and gave birth to you just like mine did. But they are not your only parents."
Usagi was confused. How could she have two sets of parents? It didn't make any sense.
"You are the reincarnation of warriors from the distant past and the children of warriors. Senshi, if you'd like to use a word from that time period." Juno said, and as he got into the rhythm of his tale, Usagi thought she could see memories playing across her mind. A crystal palace. A kind woman with long blonde hair. A tall, dark haired man in a tuxedo. The laughing face of man with a ponytail, wearing a red silk shirt and black pants.
"The Senshi," he continued, "protected and ruled over the Solar System. Each of them having been given a planet which it was their special charge to protect. And all of them answered to the Queen who ruled over the Moon and all its light shone upon."
"She was my mother." Usagi said instinctively.
"That's right." Juno said with a smile. "You are the Moon Princess. Or, at least, you are her reincarnation. Once you regain all of your memories you will be her in truth and have all the power she once had at her disposal."
"Then what does that make me?" Shion asked, a note of skepticism in her voice.
"You are Sailor Mercury, of course." Juno said with a half chuckle. "You were the daughter of the woman who ruled over Mercury. You may take after your father in looks, but your brain is every inch your mother's. She was the greatest scientist in the kingdom and responsible for the terraforming of the planets besides Earth."
Shion didn't look like the quite believed the man, but Usagi could see a flicker of recognition in her one good eye.
"I understand if you don't believe me." The big man said. "But, if you want proof, I only have to point to your powers. Still, who would believe in reincarnation in this day and age? Just wait though, before long your memories will start to trickle in. They'll come as dreams or vague flashes. I doubt you'll even remember most of them at first. Eventually, they will build up until this life will be the one that feels like a dream."
Usagi wasn't sure she liked the sound of that, being slowly transformed into a person she knew nothing about.
"What about you?" Shion said in defiance. "Who are you? And why didn't you help us at the Tolar Tower or afterwards? You knew I was Sailor Mercury before I did, didn't you?"
"Yes, I knew you were Sailor Mercury." Juno said, his voice dangerously low. "I've known who I am for fifteen years now. I don't know why I was born before both of you. In Crystal Tokyo, I was younger than either of you."
"But why didn't you-"
"I did! Ok!" Juno roared. "You didn't see it because I went ahead of you in the Tolar Tower, but the lower levels were swarming with beastmen. I got you to the control center, didn't I?"
"I… I had noticed all the dust but I thought…" Shion looked slightly chastened, but her empty eye socket had started to bleed again. "Why not after that? When Zero was defeated, why didn't you tell us?"
"I," Juno mumbled, "didn't think I would be of much help."
Usagi just gaped, this mountain of a man who had just saved both their lives thought he couldn't help?
"I… Well I really wasn't a heavy hitter back in Crystal Tokyo." He was actually blushing as he admitted the words. "I'm not the Senshi of Jupiter. I didn't inherit my mother's power. Few men do. I didn't think you needed a weakling like me weighing you down."
"You are too modest." Luna put in, the first time she had spoken since Juno's story began. "Your master always thought very highly of you, so did the Queen, so did your mother."
"Yeah, well…" Juno said, shuffling in his seat uncomfortably. "I'll admit I was ok at martial arts. And, while the beastmen are very strong against physical attacks, hit them with even the smallest ki or magic and they crumble. Still, my martial arts isn't what it used to be, and, back in Crystal Tokyo, all the Senshi were just as good as me or even better. Martial arts is done through the unification of mind and body. Not all of it carried over the way it should have. I've been having to retrain myself, although I do still have most of my ki."
Ki, why did that make Usagi think of a small wrinkled old woman by the name of Shampoo?
"What about those monsters you summoned?" Usagi asked. "They seemed powerful enough."
"Oh, those." Juno said in an offhand manner. "They're called spirit beasts and consume a lot of spirit energy. In Crystal Tokyo they were kind of like pets to those who had the energy and could do an assortment of odd tasks. I'm probably the only one other than my master who ever used them in combat. But they wouldn't answer my call until Luna showed up at my door. It was only today that I figured out how to summon my Jupiter Knight getup and gained access to my spirit beasts."
"If you had been with us at the factory," Shion said quietly, not willing to forgive the man, "this would never have happened." Usagi couldn't tell if she was talking about Sailor Venus, her eye, the Diet Building, or even if she meant all three.
Juno's eyes went cold, then hot, then cold again as he slumped low into a chair. Usagi could see the man wanted to say something, but couldn't think of anything.
"What do you know about Sailor Venus?" Usagi asked, wanting to change the subject. "Why was she working for Zero? She helped us before and Tuxedo Kamen was with them as well."
"I don't know." Juno said slowly, his shoulders still bent, his eyes not leaving the floor. "I have heard there are ways to force a person to do your bidding, but what they are or how to stop them, I can't say."
"But, she said I killed her brother…" Usagi's sentence trailed off, not wanting to consider that she might actually have killed the girl's brother in a past life.
Juno's head slowly rose and he looked Usagi straight in the eyes. His face was somber, the weight of untold centuries and the death of billions rested in his gaze.
A flash of memory came back to her. She was struggling to hold the barrier in her mother's place as names of the dead flew around her. People she had known all her long life had passed away and even more names were coming in. Someone started shouting the name Aino Min- but was cut off by the sound of crystal shattering. A man was bellowing in rage, his voice shaking the walls. A door had been locked. They were never supposed to be locked. A child was dead.
When Usagi came back to herself she found her face was damp.
"The door had been locked." Usagi said in a daze. "Who?"
"Nobody worth remembering." Juno said coldly. "A coward, now long dead. Have you remembered that night?"
"No," Usagi said, "not entirely. It was just for a moment."
"Crystal Tokyo was something spectacular." Juno said. "The entire human race under one banner, dedicated to peace, to justice, to love and beauty. We wielded unimaginable forces of nature and the Queen in particular was the kindest and greatest ruler the universe had ever known. But, we learned that night that there were some forces against which even we could do nothing."
"I don't know exactly what happened." Here Juno gave Luna another look. "From what I do know, there was a massive explosion. What triggered it, no one could say. All I know is that, whatever it was, it's still going on even after all these thousands of years. You know it as the Red Sun."
The Red Sun? Usagi thought. But hasn't that always been there.
"When that abomination came into existence over ninety percent of the population died." Ninety percent? Those kinds of numbers couldn't be right. "It wasn't all at once, mind you. Some of those deaths would have been preventable too, if the explosion hadn't started where it did. Five Senshi were on the planet. We can only assumed they all died instantly, otherwise we would not be here now and the Crystal Palace would still stand. Among them was a man, no, woman perhaps, that was said to be equal in power to the Queen."
Another flash of memory, this time of a woman with short black hair and purple eyes.
"Anyway," Juno said, bringing her back to the present. "The terraforming devices we had set up across the System began to fail on a large scale. A few of them managed to limp on. The Moon. Pluto. Mars. Venus wasn't one of them. The life support spells were failing and the woman you know as Sailor Venus took it upon herself to hold them together. She literally kept a world from breaking and her efforts allowed many to escape. When it came time for her to leave, she barely had enough energy to teleport herself and her brother back to Earth and the Queen's palace."
"But someone had locked the doors." Shion said, her hand covering her missing eye.
"Yes." Juno growled. "People were panicking. I found her lying half dead outside a palace door and rescued her. I broke through the door she couldn't, but I was too late to save her brother. Even though the doors hadn't been locked in thousands of years, some idiot had done so in fear for his life. He would have lived longer if he hadn't."
Usagi shivered at that last sentence and didn't want to consider just what Juno's big hands were capable of.
"You think it was wrong of me to kill him?" Juno shouted at his Princess, noticing the look on her face. "A child barely more than an infant died because of his selfishness! And there were other doors that he had locked! You would not think it wrong if you had seen the piles of corpses, so desperate to get inside that they had torn their hands to shreds!"
Usagi quailed under the force of his words. She still couldn't help but feel sympathy for a man who could be so frightened as to abandon all reason.
"Well," Juno said, regaining his calm. "It's in the past now, and he would have died soon after in any case."
"Wait," Shion said, "you said you weren't that powerful, so how did you…"
Another look of pain crossed Juno's expressive face.
"I," he said, "I wasn't as tired as her when I reached the palace. I had just saved myself and my little sister."
"So even then," Shion said in a quiet but carrying voice, "you were content to let others die while you sat on the sidelines."
"It, it wasn't like that!" Juno said, real pain in his voice. "My sister and I, we… We were in the asteroid belt. She still didn't have a good grasp on her powers. I was there to watch over her while our mother was busy with politics. And Jupiter… When the Red Sun appeared Jupiter… It burst into flames. It wasn't like it is now. Jupiter had been the biggest planet in the Solar System. It was called a gas giant. When it was hit with all that heat and debris, the atmosphere combusted and the whole planet just burned. I don't think my mother even knew what had happened before she…"
The man had his face buried in his hands. Usagi went to him and put her arm around his shoulders.
"We knew something was wrong." Juno said, his big voice having gone so quiet she had to strain to hear him. "A second sun. The sky red. I tried contacting Jupiter but got only static. Soon, we figured out that all the comm. channels were down. I would have gone back to Jupiter immediately, but I couldn't just go there on my own. I… I never had the magic required to teleport. I would have had to take my sister with me in order to use her power and I couldn't put her in danger. So I waited until the capitol finally managed to get a message out. The universe was in shambles and I thought, since the palace still held, there was no safer place I could take my sister. In the end, even the palace was destroyed…"
Juno had escorted the two girls back to their homes. The worst by far had been seeing the Bluerivers' reaction. He had liked the girl and found it hard to believe that his action, or rather inaction, had somehow brought about the mess that had become of her right eye. The girl could close it now, her eyelids having re-grown. But, without an eyeball behind them, it was a hallow look.
She hated him, of course. They hadn't really moved in the same circles in Crystal Toky. She had been a scientist, he a martial artist. So there was no lingering sense of attachment or anything. But, after the Tolar Tower, he had started to think of her more fondly.
The sight of her parents rushing out of their small shop to hug their daughter almost broke his heart. Then they had noticed her eye and he would have cut off his right arm if it meant she could have it back.
Sailor Moon, or was it Usagi? A name chosen by fate if ever he heard one. She had gone inside with the Bluerivers, to help explain and further support her friend. The same kind and beautiful princess she had ever been.
Juno, on the other hand, waited outside in the shadows. There was no place for him among such a tearful family reunion.
A long time after, he was walking Usagi up to her own door. It was getting late into the night, but she had apparently called ahead of herself. It was still a truly heartfelt reunion as his Princess walked in through her door.
Again, Juno stayed outside.
When the lights finally dimmed, he turned and walked away. He hadn't gone five steps when he noticed a pair of big cat eyes watching him. He stopped and looked at the cat. Throughout the night it had been obvious that she knew more than she was letting on. But, then, didn't all cats? He once had thought his master's phobia was crazy, but now…
"We need to talk, Juno." The cat said, slinking closer to him. She sat down and stared up at him.
Juno just grunted. Cats, especially secretive and scheming cats, didn't deserve a proper answer.
"It's about Sailor Jupiter."
Damn all cats.
"I had hoped," Juno said, careful to keep his voice down, "that she could stay out of this."
"You know she can't." Luna said, a little too patiently for his liking. "We will need her power before all this is over." He had known this was coming, and didn't want to hear it.
"She was just a child." He tried to keep desperation from his voice. "She's older now than she was then!"
"Be that as it may be," the cat said, swishing its tail with impatience, "she is the Senshi of Jupiter. Before long, the power will call out to her and she will not be able to resist."
Juno felt like breaking something. Maybe a porcelain black cat.
"Just give her a bit more time." Juno pleaded. "Give her time to enjoy her life, to be a girl before a warrior."
The cat looked at him, her big eyes easily reading his heart.
"I will wait." Luna said. "But I have already felt the stirrings of her power. It will not be long before she awakens on her own."
Juno didn't like the answer, but knew that was the way it had to be.
"Thank you, Luna."
The cat bobbed its head and disappeared into the night.
Juno took one last look at his Princess' residence before he too disappeared into the darkness.
 Rei-Syou: Lightning Snake (3x3 Eyes Chapter 113, Page 10-11) [I don't pull these things out of nowhere]
 Fuu-Yao-Chi-Chuu: Monster Trap Big Spider (3x3 Eyes Chapter 402, Page 7-8) [I would like to note that attack names and their translations are taken from the sources available to me and I'm not certain they will always be accurate. Their effects, however, are without question accurate and the names shall be used as they first appear]
 Shou-Rin: Running Scale (3x3 Eyes Chapter 91, Page 3-4) [Often I have found that the spirit beast names in 3x3 eyes have multiple phonetic translations, though usually only one literal translation. I by no means use the correct ones but the ones I think sound best. This particular beast was also called Tso-Ulin]
Ouch! Ow, oww! Stop throwing things at me! I got it out alright! So what if it's a year late! Wait, no one's throwing anything? What? You all got tired of waiting and left! *Sobs*
Ah well, I'm not actually writing this for you people anyway. You just have the dubious pleasure of reading it. I like this chapter, particularly the first part which I've had written for a year. That means whenever I was feeling guilty and procrastinating I would read and edit it. As such, it is about as good as I can make it. The rest however…
I guess that's what later revisions are for, right?