Chapter 1: "Burden Of Blood"
A Neo-Sailor Moon fanfic

By Bill K.

Sailor Moon and all related characters are (c)2011 by Naoko Takeuchi/Kodansha and Toei Animation and are used without permission, but with respect. Story is (c)2011 by Bill K.

"Aren't you bored?"

The Princess Usagi, known to all under penalty of a peevish response lest they forget as Usa, sat on a hill outside the limits of Crystal Tokyo. It was a beautiful hill, covered in lush grass and wild flowers and dotted with trees that had seen far more years than the young woman had. Though it was fall and there was a coolness to the air, the dwindling evening sun shone brightly and the flowers clung to their dwindling lives.

"Why would I be bored, Maiden?" Helios asked. He sat on the hill beside her, cradling her against his chest as she put pastel hue stick to a page in her sketchbook. The hue stick would induce a chemical reaction in the synthetic paper and change the color from white to whatever color the chemical was programmed to induce. The Princess was working on a landscape portrait of the hillside they overlooked.

"Well, just because I'm inspired by this beautiful hill," and she glanced sideways, "and other things, doesn't mean you are. I don't want you to think you have to be here just to humor me."

"Why would you think that?" he asked, nuzzling her neck. "Your mere presence has provided much inspiration for me."

"Don't distract me, I want to finish this," Usa replied. Her voice betrayed her divided concentration.

"Do you mind me looking over your shoulder?" Helios inquired.

"Not when you nuzzle my ear like that," Usa whispered. She felt her hand quiver and frowned at the unintentional shading it gave the picture.

"Your picture is very good," the Dream Guardian said, leaning his head against hers.

"Thanks," she replied. "Mom could probably do better."

"I have never seen the Queen paint landscapes. She has always preferred portraits."

"She doesn't. Not since her manga days, anyway," Usa related. "But she's a better artist than I am, so it stands to reason." Usa turned to Helios. "It's OK. I'm not as hung up on her being better than me at that than at - - other things."

"Maiden," Helios began.

"I know, you're going to tell me I have to have more faith in myself," Usa cut him off.

"How odd that you know what I am about to say so readily," Helios said, holding her just a little more tightly, "considering that you ignore it so constantly."

"Well," Usa started to say as she continued to weave hues onto the paper, "it's hard. I know I'm smarter than she is. I'm more coordinated. I'm not as naive and trusting as she is. Sometimes I think I've been all that since I was five. And with all of those advantages, she was still a better Sailor Moon than I'll ever be. And if I can't ever measure up to her . . ." The girl trailed off. "It bugs me sometimes."

"Sometimes?" Helios asked.

"A lot of times," Usa admitted.

"A lot of times?"

"Don't push your luck," she scowled at him. His pale face smirked at her as the breeze caught his white hair.

"Maiden, will you never be content with the fact that you are the finest you that the world has ever seen?" Helios asked. And the genuine sympathy she saw in his eyes was a comfort to her.

"Sometimes it's not enough," Usa confessed.

"It is for me," he replied and kissed her ear.

And then a rumbling was heard in the air. At first Usa thought it was the sound of an earthquake in the distance, for there were still geological shifts in the thirtieth century. But Helios quickly directed her attention to the sky. A ball of red and white was coming out of the sky, seemingly right at them. As they stood, the angle shifted and she could see the ball of red and white was a small ship white hot with the friction of re-entry. It was headed to their south, toward a grove of trees half a mile from the hill. To the right, closer and more visible, was a ship.

"Helios!" she pointed to their right. "It's a CDP air car! They probably caught it on civil defense sensors! You suppose it's an attack?"

"Perhaps," Helios thought to her, for he was now in his winged equine form, standing beside her. "Or perhaps it is a ship whose pilot or passengers are in need of aid."

"Right!" Usa nodded decisively. With an athletic bound, she vaulted up onto the equine's back. A powerful thrust of his wings sent them up into the air.

Riding the currents down as the air was shattered with the sound of the unidentified craft impacting with the grove of trees, Usa and Pegasus quickly arrived on the scene. The craft was a small ship with thrusters for deep space flight, but a small cabin that couldn't hold more than two beings. It was a boxy ship with a nose curved to a blunt point and the thruster panel flat against the back. Pegasus circled cautiously, allowing them to observe from safety above. There was some damage to the ship from impact, but nothing visibly wrong with the ship that would cause it to crash in the first place.

"Let's land," Usa suggested. "They may be trapped in there."

"I sense only one being, Maiden," Pegasus advised her.

He complied and set down twenty feet from the ship. Anti-fire drones were on the scene dousing the ship and the broken trees with chemical flame retardant. Usa dismounted and took a step forward, leaning forward to peer at the craft. Behind her, she heard the approach of the CDP air car.

"Princess Usagi, please step away from the situation until the danger has been assessed!" the speaker blared on the air car. Usa scowled disdainfully and ignored it. Moments later, the hatch opened on the craft.

A single being emerged. The pilot was female, roughly seven feet tall to Usa's estimation, with pale green skin and closely cropped dark green hair. She had vaguely human features with a pointed jaw line and sharp, prominent cheekbones. There was a ridge of cartilage under the skin above her eyes where brows would normally be and her eyes were two pools of midnight blue with no iris, no pupil and no whites. She wore a form-fitting protective pressure suit of white with light blue cuffs, boots, and belt, and a light blue circular panel with a high neck that extended out to her shoulders and down across her chest and back. The being seemed dazed from the crash and staggered a bit, steadying herself on the side of the craft. But when she looked up and spotted Usa and Pegasus, with the CDP air car hovering behind them, the stranger recoiled in fear.

"Don't be afraid!" Usa shouted urgently. "We won't hurt you!" That only made the alien even more anxious.

"Gehngbpahrlfnrebhopa!" the alien exclaimed in her alien language. "Etheop! ABVH!"

"Sthebh," Usa felt Pegasus communicate mentally. She looked at him and realized the equine was communicating with the alien. A glance her way showed Usa that the alien was calming some. "Mo anghy bhea vahdl maneosueng."

With calm, easy strides, Pegasus approached the alien while Usa looked on in amazement. The alien stood timidly. She was obviously very scared, but she stood her ground. Perhaps, Usa thought, she was scared of something besides being a stranger in a strange land. When the winged equine was within the girl's reach, he stopped. Nodding once to her, he stood his ground. Ever so cautiously she reached out until she touched his nose with her hand. Her eyes darkened until they were a deep black. Then her legs buckled beneath her and the alien slid to her bottom on the ground. Usa started for her.

"Not just yet, Maiden," Pegasus thought to her. "You may frighten her. I have transferred knowledge of your language to her. That, coupled with her journey, was more than she could deal with at once."

"You know her language?" Usa asked.

"I am the Guardian of Dreams, Maiden," Pegasus thought back. "I must know many languages in order to monitor dreams in those languages." He turned back to the alien. "Are you recovered?"

"Yes," the alien replied breathlessly. "This manner of speech is - - overwhelming. Forgive me if I am not facile with it just yet."

The alien looked up suddenly and found Usa crouched in front of her. The teen, twin trails of pink hair draped over her shoulders and falling to the ground, smiled warmly and disarmingly.

"My name is Usa," she offered. Then she scowled slightly. "Well, technically it's Princess Usagi. But my friends call me Usa. I'd like you to call me Usa."

"I am Av'Rith," the alien told her.

"You are from Tevrii," Pegasus thought to her. It wasn't a question.

"Yes," Av'Rith admitted reluctantly.

"Where's that?" Usa asked.

"It is the planet Earth astronomers have designated Orion 4," Pegasus thought to her. "It is a planet close to Earth, astronomically speaking, with a civilization as old as Earth's." The equine turned back to Av'Rith. "Why were you in this galaxy?"

"I," the girl began, and then stopped. Her expression clouded over. She looked down. "I don't - - remember."

"You don't know how you got here?" Usa asked.

"No," Av'Rith said softly.

"What do you recall?" Pegasus thought to her.

The cartilage above the girl's eyes shifted and furrowed. "I was in the jump ship. They wished to - - to abort my life."

"Someone was trying to kill you?" Usa gasped. "Who?"

"Males," Av'Rith continued haltingly, "from my planet."

"Why did they want to kill you? Do you remember?"

Av'Rith looked down. "No." Then she looked up again and the fear and agitation was back. "I implore you! Please hide me from them! Please do not let them find me! I DO NOT WISH TO HAVE MY LIFE TERMINATED!"

"It's OK," Usa said, her hands on the girl's shoulders to calm her. "Nobody's going to terminate you. I promise."

The CDP air car had landed and the two officers were out. Usa turned to them.

"Can we fly her back to the palace? I want to make sure she's all right," Usa told them.

"Is that a safe course of action, Princess?" one of the officers inquired. "We really don't know much about her."

"It's all right. She's in trouble. She's not dangerous," and Usa turned back to the alien girl with a confident smile, "are you."

"I would never intentionally harm another being," Av'Rith proclaimed tremulously. "Please believe that."

"I do," Usa smiled. Rising, she helped the alien to her feet. The girl towered over Usa. The Princess turned to Pegasus. "Helios, could you fly to the palace and let Aunt Ami know we're bringing Av'Rith in. I want to make sure she's not hurt. Oh, and let Pop know - - assuming he doesn't know already."

"I shall await your arrival, Maiden," Pegasus thought back. With a gentle leap, he swept into the air and banked toward the Crystal Palace.

Usa led the alien over to the CDP air car. Av'Rith was wary of it, but followed at Usa's behest. It took a little bending to fit her into the passenger cab of the air car, but once she was in, Usa climbed in beside her. The officers took the craft into the sky and headed for the Crystal Palace.

Holographic laser imaging filled the room. A dance beat, somewhat familiar to the crowd but not quite familiar enough to place, made the room pulse and the assembled crowd throb. At the bar, young people sought out each other and extended the first tentative feelers toward a possible pairing. At tables surrounding the dance floor, already paired couples explored each other amid more intimate environs. The loud music actually encouraged them to get closer, if only to hear the other. But such enforced intimacy often as not led to more natural intimacy, so there were few complaints.

On the dance floor itself, singles mixed with couples, everyone moving to the hypnotic beat. Interspersed with live patrons were holographic images of handsome men and beautiful women dancing along with them. The only way to tell the live dancers from the images was that the images weren't entirely solid and you could see through them. Couples had fun with their partners and singles danced to attract a potential partner, or to forget a rejection, or just to have fun. Hooking up was one reason one went to The Antares Night Spot; having fun was the other.

Lost in the crowd was Ves, the teen lost in the music and feeling as alive as she had in a long time. She wore a black blouse with short sleeves that featured a tight fit on her growing figure and a plunging neckline to emphasize her assets. Disdaining a skirt, Ves chose instead tight crimson pants that dived into crimson calf boots. They were flattering, hinted at femininity, but still allowed her to move. Ves scorned frilly looks as a necessary evil that she wore only when she was solely out for male company. Tonight she wanted to act out, to move and groove and have fun. If someone came along who wanted to share that time with her, so much the better. But she was just there to have fun.

"Huh," Ves mused to herself, glancing at the senshi communicator on her wrist. "I thought I heard the signal. But the screen is clear." Dismissing it, the teen went back to answering the siren call of the beat. "Must have heard something else. At least Mizuno-Sensei can't bust me for not having it this time."

Her towering red hair rocked back and forth, attracting the attention of more than a few patrons. Some were amused, others intrigued. Ves ignored them all. She was too caught up in the music and the feeling of turning her mind off and just moving to the beat. If only the club played salsa, her night would be complete.

"Hey!" Ves snarled when she and a couple collided on the dance floor. "Watch where you're going!" and she shoved the man away.

"Watch where you're going!" the man retorted angrily.

"If you've got no rhythm, get the Hell off of the dance floor!" Ves snorted in reply.

"Hmpf!" scowled the man's date. "Some people have no manners at all!"

"What do you expect from a foreigner?" he added. The couple were both Japanese, while Ves stood apart from the crowd for more than just her towering hair style and the shape her clothes concealed only in concept.

Ves stopped dancing.

"You got something against foreigners," Ves inquired with a dare in her eye, then added, "Clumsy?"

"Only against ill-mannered ones," the man replied.

"So, you're better than me or something?" Ves persisted.

"The trash in the recycler is better than you," his date shot back. "Come on, Kudoshi. Let's go."

They turned toward the section of tables. Ves's teeth clenched.

"Yo, Kudoshi-San!" Ves shouted with all the sarcasm she could inject into the brief statement.

The man turned impatiently back to her. That's when Ves executed a spinning roundhouse kick. Her foot connected with the side of the man's face and Kudoshi dropped like he'd been shot. Ves stood over the fallen patron while his date screamed. Her fists were balled, but she had a triumphant gleam in her eye.

"Porco," Ves spat, her mouth curled in a victor's sneer.

The crowd on the dance floor had pulled back away from the altercation so as not to get caught up in it. Two men, though, pushed their way through and headed toward Ves.

"Hey, you can't do that to my friend!" one of them shouted. He was another Japanese man, early twenties like his friend and fit without being burly or athletic.

"Your friend needs to learn to keep his mouth shut!" Ves snarled. It was as much a warning as a defense, one that the two men didn't heed. She waited to see if they would move toward her or their friend. When one moved toward her, Ves responded with a pre-emptive fist to the nose followed with a slash of her flat hand across his throat.

The other man tried to aid his friend. Ves responded with a slashing kick to one leg, sending him to the floor. She slammed her knee between his shoulder blades, his wind gushing out of him in an audible gust.

"All right, out you go!" yelled a man as he clamped onto Ves's forearm.

She whirled on him and saw it was one of the club security people. But all Ves was seeing now was red. Her free hand started to swing, but another security guard caught the arm before it could connect. Ves strained, but she couldn't pull free of the hold the guards had her in. Swinging her legs up, the teen caught one of the guards in a leg scissors. With a twist of her hips, she flipped the guard to the floor. That broke his grip.

Bereft of support, the three people tumbled into a pile onto the dance floor. Arms and legs were everywhere. Ves struggled to escape the pile, but one of the guards held her down as she punched and gouged the other. It seemed several more hands joined in. And amid the screams and general clamor, Ves could hear something else.

Sirens, perhaps?

Continued in Chapter 2