Chapter 1: "Relations With The Loved Ones"
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.

Hotaru Tomoe was in her room in the quarters she shared with Haruka Tenoh and Michiru Kaioh, listening to her best friend on the real-time net connection of their computer stations. Hotaru and the Princess Usagi, or Usa as she preferred, shared everything with each other, for both girls had found in the other the perfect confessional and sounding board. They were known to spend hours talking with each other. But they reserved more sensitive conversations for their rooms, over their computer stations. There was no danger of being overheard, for there were things each girl would only share with the other.

"And after the show, we decided to walk home," Usa related. Hotaru tried to focus on the story and not on the revealing neglige that her friend wore so matter-of-factly, an ensemble that would make Hotaru die of self-consciousness if it were on her. She herself was in very conservative, loose-fitting pajamas. "And we took a very long, winding route through the less-populated, less lit parts of town."

"Really?" Hotaru leered.

"To avoid all the people," Usa smirked, "so I wouldn't be mobbed, you know."

"Of course," Hotaru nodded cynically.

"OK, and because Helios needs to be nudged occasionally," Usa grinned. "He's such a stickler for living up to that whole vow he made to Pop. 'Behaving himself' doesn't mean being celibate."

"So you got him into a secluded spot and shamelessly seduced him?" Hotaru inquired.

"There's that twentieth century mentality again," Usa needled. "You make it sound like a bad thing. In this century, it's considered 'indicating receptiveness'." Usa smiled. "And it's a good thing it was secluded."

"What did you do, rip your blouse open?"

"No," Usa retorted. Then she smirked. "But I would have. Oh, Hotaru, I needed him! I don't even remember where we did it. I just remember feeling him close to me."

"I understand, Usa," Hotaru told her. "I've been there. It's so tough, sometimes, enduring the times when Yutaka is busy studying or working. I'm amazed you lasted as long as you did." Hotaru paused, looking down shyly. "I've actually been thinking about moving into my own quarters."

"Tired of the back of his hover-car?" joked the Princess.

"That's part of it," Hotaru admitted. Usa grew serious.

"You're still having trouble with your step-parents?" Usa asked. Hotaru grimaced at her utter transparency.

"I'm trying not to hold it against them," Hotaru groaned. "Haruka-Papa and Michiru-Mama were only doing what they thought was best. They weighed Av'Rith's life against the lives of everyone and decided that poor Av'Rith had to die to save everyone else. I understand that."

"But . . ." Usa prompted.

"I guess I just hate how they could make such a decision so coldly," Hotaru explained. "They barely knew Av'Rith and it didn't matter to them that she would die. She was just one life against billions. Well, it wasn't her fault! There had to be another way besides just executing her." Hotaru scowled. "It's the same stare they had when they wanted to destroy me - - back in the twentieth century - - to stop Pharaoh 90 from coming."

Usa looked on sympathetically.

"Maybe that's coloring my thinking," Hotaru offered. "That and the fact that I knew Av'Rith - - and I didn't know those billions of other people that she would have threatened. Anyway, it's hard to look at them again and not remember that time now. Besides, I'm sixteen. It's about time I started thinking about going off on my own."

"Well, I feel you there," Usa responded. "I know it's hard. I know how hard it was for me to get used to the Asteroids as my senshi and not the Amazoness Quartet. You don't forget things like that. I guess you have to just remember that they love you and want what's best for you - - your step-parents, I mean - - and that it probably wasn't an easy thing for them to do. I don't know Uncle Haruka and Aunt Michiru as well as I know my other aunts, but I know what they do isn't easy for them. I guess when it is easy for them to make decisions like that, that's when you should worry."

"I've thought of everything you've said, Usa," Hotaru replied. "But they were wrong. There was a way to save Av'Rith. The Queen almost did it. But she would never have had the chance if Haruka-Papa had been a few seconds faster. Michiru-Mama calls it being practical. But do you really stand for something if you can violate it when it's convenient and say you're just being practical?"

"Situational ethics?" Usa shrugged. "I've read about it. It always seemed to me that it was a fancy way of saying 'I believe in what benefits me'. Maybe that's the key. Maybe Uncle Haruka and Aunt Michiru support Mom's dream because it benefits them, not because of the dream itself. At least they support it."

Hotaru nodded. But she didn't seem satisfied.

Ves heard the energy screen disengage from in front of her detention cell in the palace. She let her arm and shoulder muscles relax and the gravity weights in her hands dropped down, dangling at the ends of her arms. Gravity weights were open-fingered wrist gauntlets that could be programmed to emit a specific gravity, increasing the weight of the gauntlets without actually increasing either weight or mass. Turning to the door, Ves saw Makoto saunter in. Using her thumbs to hit the off button on the gauntlets, Ves disengaged them from her wrists. She was sore and sweaty, and Makoto's presence gave her an excuse to stop.

"Weight lifting?" Makoto asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Well, I got to do something, Kino-Sensei," sighed Ves. "There's no futbol on at this time of day and the guards won't let me pipe in any salsa."

"You could always study," Makoto told her with an ironic grin.

"I could always blow my brains out, too, but I'm not going to," snorted Ves. "So, you checking up on me? See if I've destroyed anything recently?"

"Yeah, that's one way of putting it," Makoto grinned. "I was checking on how you were progressing, but the way you said it is fairly accurate." Makoto picked up the gauntlets and checked the setting. "Forty-four kilos? That's pretty heavy. Make sure you stretch, too, so you stay limber. That's at least as important to a senshi as strength."

"Yeah?" Ves asked, her curiosity piqued. "You got any suggestions?"

"There's a real good yoga program in the computer's library," Makoto told her. "It even has holographic demonstrations that let you follow along." She winked at Ves. "It'll let you keep those jungle cat's reflexes you depend on."

"All right! Thanks!" beamed Ves.

"So, getting frustrated yet?"

"Beyond frustrated," Ves answered, flopping into a chair. "The worst part is wondering and worrying about everyone and not being able to help if something happens."

"Frustrated enough to act out?" Makoto inquired.

"No, I've kept it bottled up. I have to. I don't want Palla-Palla to ever look at me like that again," Ves related. "You know, like I just stabbed her or something. But it doesn't go away, you know? It just seems to build. And I'm afraid it's going to build to a point where I can't hold it in anymore."

"I thought as much," Makoto said, sitting down next to her and patting her knee. "Maybe I can show you another trick."

The lanky woman climbed down on the floor and, with a little difficulty, folded her long legs into a lotus position. Ves stared like Makoto had suddenly grown horns.

"A very wise man once taught me that physical exertion is good to burn away the need to vent when you're angry or frustrated," Makoto looked up at her. Her hands rested placidly on her knees. "But it doesn't get rid of the anger. Exertion works you up, instead of calming you down. Meditation, however, can help you calm yourself and let you dispel your anger. Try it."

"It looks weird," Ves replied skeptically.

"Some of the outfits you kids wear look more weird," Makoto smirked, "and it doesn't stop you. Nobody's going to see us, if that's what you're worried about."

With some wariness, Ves climbed down and assumed the same position.

"Now close your eyes," Makoto said calmly and Ves complied. "Think of pleasant things - - things that make you happy. It doesn't matter what. Breathe in and out, just like you'd normally breathe. Focus on you. Now look inside yourself."

"Inside myself?" Ves asked.

"Yes," Makoto replied. "On your breathing. On your heartbeat. On the tension draining out of your muscles. Concentrate on you. Look for a light. It's inside you. You won't see it with your eyes. You'll see it with your mind. Keep searching, and when you find this light, focus on it. Keep your attention on it. Watch it grow."

They sat silently for a few moments.

"I can't find it," Ves said finally.

"Keep looking," Makoto advised her.

"Um, can I ask you something?"

"Yes," Makoto responded distantly.

"This Wise Guy - - was he your dad or something?" Ves asked.

"No," Makoto murmured. "He was a Buddhist monk I knew. He taught me meditation. He also taught me a lot of conditioning exercises to keep me in shape. He was a big help." Some emotion crept into her face and voice. "For a while, I had a little bit of a crush on him. Back then, my hormones didn't care who I latched onto."

"For real?" Ves asked. "I always thought you were a lesbian."

"What makes you think that?" Makoto asked gently.

"Well, you live with Mizuno-Sensei. Me and the others just thought," Ves offered, glancing at her mentor. "And Aino-Sensei . . ."

"Aino-Sensei has a big mouth," Makoto grinned while maintaining her meditative state. "And you can only believe half of what she tells you. And she's a good enough actress that you can't always know which half to believe." Makoto seemed to return from somewhere and opened her eyes. "Ami and I have been many things to each other over the years. More than lovers, but not quite blood family. We're," and she paused for a moment, "whatever the other one needs at that moment. Soul-mates, I guess. Does that make any sense?"

"Hey, it's none of my business," shrugged Ves. Then she peeked over. "So, DO you rumple the sheets?"

"I thought it was none of your business," grinned Makoto.

"Well, Aino-Sensei says you do," Ves said. "I just want to know if she's lying or not."

"Let's get back to meditating," Makoto advised her. They both closed their eyes. A few minutes passed.

"I can't do this," Ves sighed in frustration.

"It was your first attempt," Makoto responded. "Keep working at it. You'll get it. And when you do, I guarantee it will help."

"Seems like a big waste of time," Ves scowled.

"You want to end up back here?" Makoto asked.

"All right," sighed Ves.

Cere scooted into the quarters she shared with her three adoptive sisters, her feet almost off the floor. In her hand was a vid-crystal and she stared at it like it was a precious gem. Almost dancing over to her desk, she opened the drawer and put the crystal into a storage box. Only Palla-Palla was in the room to witness this, and she was preoccupied in her corner with her dolls.

"Palla-Palla, I got it!" Cere squealed. "Suleman Velez in his latest picture and I've got it on vid-crystal! All the way from Brasilia!" She sank into her chair and sighed with contentment. "Oh, if only I could marry that man! I'd even settle for being his mistress!"

When no response came from Palla-Palla's corner, Cere looked over. The glum look on her sister's face brought the teen out of her euphoria.

"You missing Ves?" Cere asked. After a time, Palla-Palla nodded her head as she fiddled with the wedding gown on the doll in her hands until it was just so. "You know she's still got to do another week in the detention cell."

"Palla-Palla knows," the blue-tressed girl murmured. "Palla-Palla visits her as much as the guards will let her. And she keeps listening to Ves-Ves's thoughts to make sure she doesn't do bad again." Her tapered hand, becoming more adult every day, smoothed the wedding gown down on the doll's body. "But she still misses Ves-Ves."

"I don't know why," sniffed Cere. "I'm just getting used to the quiet."

"That's not true," Palla-Palla said softly, staring at her doll the entire time. "You miss Ves-Ves, too."

Cere shot Palla-Palla a wary glance. After a few moments, Palla-Palla gave her a sidelong glance in return.

"Oopsy," Palla-Palla said, returning her gaze to the doll. "Palla-Palla forgot again."

"Yeah, I'll bet," Cere scowled. "You've been in that ESP class HOW LONG?"

"Well you shouldn't lie, Cere-Cere," Palla-Palla stated. "Ves-Ves will think you don't like her." There was a moment of silence. "That's not true, either. Ves-Ves likes you, too. She just won't admit it because she thinks it'll make her look like a sissy."

"Stop that," Cere warned. "Ves can sit in detention. It's her fault for being a brainless goon. And I'm not going to sit in a corner and pine for her, and you shouldn't, either. This place has been depressed enough, what with Av'Rith dying and Ves in detention. I have Suleman Velez's latest film and I am going to enjoy it. And I'm not going to feel guilty about it. And if you had any sense, you'd enjoy it, too. Sitting there in the dumps because Ves isn't here isn't going to get her back any quicker."

Palla-Palla put the doll in the wedding gown back on her display shelf. She sat silently. Giving up, Cere turned back to her desk.

"Is there a cartoon?" Palla-Palla asked. Cere smiled.

"No, there isn't a cartoon," Cere replied.

"Is there a Princess and a handsome Prince and do they get married?"

"I don't know," goggled Cere. "It's got Suleman Velez in it. That's all I care about."

"Some people care about the story," Palla-Palla muttered.

Just then Jun burst into the room. She had a box of crystals in her hand and was literally crackling with excitement. The vibes alone from the teen brought a smile to Palla-Palla's face.

"What is it, Jun-Jun?" Palla-Palla asked. "It must be very good news!"

"Why don't you read her mind?" mumbled Cere.

"I got another shipment from Minister Gomez!" Jun gasped.

"Great, another history lesson," mumbled Cere.

"Shut up!" fumed Jun. "Shouldn't you be hanging off of some guy's arm?"

"Got someone in mind?" Cere shot back. "And remember my standards."

"What did Mister Gomez-Sir send to you, Jun-Jun?" Palla-Palla asked, vacating her doll corner and scampering over. Jun was already at her computer station. She had a memory crystal out and was inserting it in the drive.

"More pictures of your mom?" Cere asked.

"Yeah, and some more background information," Jun replied. Information came up on the screen next to a video window. "Says here her mom and dad were imprisoned by General Almonte. That means they're probably dead. The picture files have some early shots. He says they're from her school yearbook files and her school identification chip."

"She's so young!" marveled Palla-Palla. "She looks a lot like you, Jun-Jun."

"Yeah, except for the green hair," Cere added. "Oh, but those uniforms! Were they in school or prison?"

"I don't think it was a liberal arts curriculum," Jun commented. "Almonte was probably training the population to be obedient little drones." She paged over to the next photo. "See him? The guy next to her in the white shirt and tie? That's her brother, Raoul." Jun grinned. "That's my uncle."

"Wow, he's not bad," Cere judged. "Did he die, too?"

"Minister Gomez said he was killed in the revolution," Jun replied somberly. Quickly she paged to the next picture. "That's Mom and Juanita Estrada. Minister Gomez said they were best friends in school. He said that she was arrested during the revolution and died in prison."

"This is getting to be depressing," Cere observed, one eye on Jun. But Jun shook her head.

"This is my history, Cere," Jun told her. "Yeah, it's hard realizing that all of these people are dead now, and how they died. So instead, I try to think of them when they were alive, and how they lived."

Without warning, Palla-Palla's finger extended to the screen. As she touched the image of Juanita Estrada, Jun and Cere looked at her. Their sister had that same blank expression when she was getting a vision of something.

"Palla-Palla?" Jun prodded softly.

"You have a brother," Palla-Palla said vacantly. "And he's still alive."

Continued in Chapter 2