Sailor V ran through the forest from her pursuer.
The projectile was catching up with her and she was forced to swing herself atop a tree branch to avoid it.
The projectile sailed under her and continued onward until its master came close enough to realize that she was aiming at nothing but more trees. It turned around and came back at Sailor V, who jumped down from the branch several seconds before it struck. The projectile cut the branch clean in two, causing it to fall, but Sailor V had predicted that it would do so and had enough time to roll away from it.
This time the projectile was much faster in turning around to target Sailor V again. She barely had time to get up after her roll before it was on her. She took out her crescent compact and swung it at the projectile, deflecting it away from her person.
But again the projectile turned back towards her. She side-stepped the next pass it made, and smashed her compact into it again on the pass after that.
Even though she was hitting it harder each time she swung her compact at it, the time between her deflections and the projectile's refocusing on her decreased with each hit.
Finally she fired a crescent beam at the projectile, knocking it out of the air completely.
"Very good." she said.
"Really?" Sailor Moon asked, coming forward to pick up her tiara.
"Really. You're able to change direction on a dime, which means your focus is improving." She held up her compact. Its glow was a lot dimmer than usual. "And judging by how much power my compact used up deflecting it your attack has gotten stronger as well."
"Be honest." Sailor Jupiter said as she, Mars, and Mercury approached. "She almost got you there."
"Ok." Sailor V threw up her hands. "There wasn't enough power left in my compact to block another attack. So I had to call it where I did."
"So the meatball head might finally be growing up." Sailor Mars said. The others laughed, though Sailor Moon was unsure whether to take it as a compliment or not.
"You all are." Sailor V said. "Keep this up and after we beat the Dark Kingdom I might have to invite you to come on patrol with me when I'm working on a big case."
"Really?" Sailor Moon squealed. "That would be so awesome!"
While they didn't squeal, most of the other scouts had the same reaction. Except for Sailor Mercury, who met Sailor V's eyes with a serious expression.
Ami stayed behind and followed Sailor V away from their training grounds.
"I need to be a lot more subtle to get past you." She said after she had turned back into Mina."
"Is that what you want from us?" Ami asked. "To fight crime when you're gone?"
Mina hesitated as she searched for the right words. "I want you to feel that you have the option."
"A confidence thing?"
"Being more confident will certainly help in the fight against the Dark Kingdom."
There was silence for a few seconds, before Ami pressed the matter further. "And…"
"And I'd feel a little better about myself if I knew I'd inspired the 'next generation' of superheroes."
"I see." Ami said.
"All this, it was all about making as much of a difference as possible in the time I have left. I can't cripple the whole Yakuza, or crush every terrorist organization. It's sort of like Don Quixote and his impossible dream. But if I have a Dulcinea to carry on..." Mina realized that Ami was looking at her with a blank face. "You never saw Man of La Mancha, did you?"
"I was going to get around to reading Don Quixote after I finished with Dickens."
Mina shook her head. She reached into her bag and pulled out a cd case.
"Before I forget, here's the next two songs I made. You can give copies to the others."
Ami took them. "Serena will be really happy."
"I'm still working on my 'magnum opus.' Unfortunately it could give away my identity, so I'm not sure I can share it even when it's done." As Mina walked off, Ami looked at the names of the songs. They were Romance and Sayonara Sweet Days.
On her way home Mina bought the afternoon edition of the newspaper. It helped her keep track of any new crime waves in Tokyo.
This edition had an op ed piece observing that there had been no monster sightings since the attack on the mall, and consequently virtually no sightings of the Sailor Scouts over that period. The rest of the piece was yet another screed against the scouts saying how Sailor V, who still made the papers by foiling several crimes a week, was superior to them.
Mina did not get that far into the article before she set it aside. She rubbed her forehead, trying to think if there was anything about the situation with the enemy she missed.
"What the hell are you waiting for, Beryl?"
If nothing continued to happen she would soon have to start considering an assault on the Dark Kingdom, without the aid of the Silver Imperium Crystal.
Queen Beryl glared at her subordinates.
"It has been weeks since you said you were formulating a plan to kill the princess! And what have you to show for it?"
"Queen Beryl," Kunzite said, bowing, "our plan is finally complete."
Beryl sat back, calming down. "Very well. What is it?"
"Through our research, Zoisite and I have discovered that the princess became friendly with a police officer. Newspaper photographs of Sailor V with Interpol officers during her time in England suggested that she was very close with one officer in particular. We have turned this officer into a youma."
Beryl nodded. "And you believe that the princess will care too much about her friend's safety to fight for her own life."
"More than that, Queen Beryl. This officer has seen Sailor V fight many times. She knows her moves and her weaknesses."
"Queen Beryl." Zoisite interjected. "The reason this has taken so long is that we have been careful to ensure that the plan is perfect. We have used a great amount of energy to make this the most powerful youma in the Dark Kingdom and to ensure that the transformation is so complete that Sailor Moon cannot heal her back to normal with her rod."
"Very well." Queen Beryl said. "Go ahead. But know this. If you appear before me again and the princess still lives, you will face the same eternal sleep as Jaedite."
Zoisite gulped as she and Kunzite bowed before taking their leave.
Mina was perplexed as she woke up the next morning.
"Artemis," she asked groggily, wiping the sleep from her eyes.
"Yes?" Artemis replied, his voice slightly higher than usual.
"Why does it smell like strawberries in here?"
"That would be because the ice cream cake came with strawberries."
Mina sat up suddenly. "Ice cream cake!?"
"I wasn't going to forget that you don't like regular cake again."
"Oh, " Mina said simply, "right." Artemis usually bought a cake for her on her birthday. The previously year he mistakenly bought a chocolate cake Mina had refused to eat. It was a blow to the cat's pride he had spent the next week trying to apologize for. When he did something for her, he wanted it to be perfect.
She went into the bathroom, both to get dressed without Artemis watching and to take her morning dose of medication.
Mina had tried to not think about her upcoming birthday, but she should have expected Artemis to try to make the last one she would ever have something special.
Mina came out and examined the cake. It was certainly appealing, and the strawberries were a nice touch.
"You really didn't have to do this."
Artemis' head started to slowly bob up and down. "I wanted to." he said nervously.
Then, to Mina's great surprise, Artemis did something he had never done before. He began to sing.
"Because I'd do anything, for you dear, anything, for you mean everything, to me."*
It took Mina a few seconds to recognize the song, partially because she was so shocked at what Artemis was doing, and partially because he was not singing it very well.
"I know that I'd go anywhere, for your smile, anywhere, for your smile everywhere, I'd see."
Mina joined in where the lyrics called for a second singer.
"Would you climb a hill?"
"Wear a daffodil?"
"Leave me all your will?"
"Even fight my Bill?"
"What, fisticuffs!?"Artemis yelled.
Mina cracked up. So Artemis had indeed spent a lot of time memorizing this song from Oliver, which was one of the musicals that had helped her learn English. She held up her own fists. "Why not? I do it all the time."
Artemis continued to sing, this time Mina clapping along. "I'd risk everything, for one kiss, everything, yes I'd do anything"
"Anything, for you."
Still laughing hysterically, Mina picked Artemis up by his front paws and began to dance. They continued the song together.
"I know that I'd do anything, for you dear, anything, for you mean everything, to me.
"I know that I'd go anywhere, for your smile, anywhere, for your smile everywhere, I'd see…"
Mina and Artemis sang and danced for several more minutes until the song reached its natural conclusion, at which point she was very much in the mood for ice cream birthday cake and strawberries.
Mina was in very high spirits as she stepped out the door on her way to school. It was a bright, sunny day, and in her good cheer Mina imagined it to be even brighter and sunnier than it really was.
Her mood was so good that she could not help singing another song from Oliver to herself as she walked.
"Who will buy this wonderful morning? Such a sky you never did see.**
"Who will tie it up with a ribbon, and put it in a box for me.
"So I could see it at my leisure, whenever things go wrong.
"And I would keep it as a treasure, to last my whole life long."
Mina stopped after those words. Her smile faded, and her hands began to shake. She cast her school bag to the side and sat down against a wall on the sidewalk.
Mina then buried her face in her hands and began to cry. She continued to sit in that spot crying, sobbing uncontrollably, until she had no more tears to shed.
*This song is called 'I'd do Anything,' from the famous musical OLIVER.
**This song is called 'Who will Buy, also from OLIVER.