This story is set within the year after the last Sailor Moon animated series. Thus Sailor Moon and her companions are about 16 years old.

It is assumed that the animated Tokyo Mew Mew adventures occurred at about the same time, but they lasted only a year. The last Sailor Moon season is assumed to have been contemporary to the last manga involving the Mew Mews ("Tokyo Mew Mew a la Mode," which I have never read). This would make Mew Ichigo about a year younger than the Sailor Senshi. Mew Zakuro is older. I believe that the manga (which I have never read) said she was 15 (when Ichigo was 13). However, the anime hinted that she was older - which makes a lot more sense, given the character - and this story pictures her about 20 years old, maybe 21 or 22.

I am aware that the magical attack formulae for the Mew Mews may not in fact include the word "ribbon." I read that it was actually a Japanese word, or was connected to the English "reborn." However, all of the fansubs I have seen say "ribbon," so that is the word I use.

Since animes seem to use foul language at times, the characters in this story use some bad language, too. The amount of violence, and the amount of foul language, is roughly that of the Sailor Moon and Mew Mew animes that I have seen.

I do not know Japanese, so Japanese terms may be misused. For example, I don't know if "senshi" (as in "Sailor Senshi") is singular, plural, both, or neither. I use it for both singular and plural, and I apologize if such terms are misused.

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Sailor Moon and the Sailor Senshi

in

The Mew War

The sun shone down on that early-summer day, and the breeze blew in the trees of the park, and all seemed right with the world. Usagi would not be hurried as she strolled through the paths of the park woods with her friends Rei and Minako. School was out of session for the summer, and cram school and Usagi were not things ever mentioned together. So for a short time, at least, there was nothing to worry about: just a summer of fun and parties and boyfriends.

They had left the paved road behind and wandered through the trees. In most years the mosquitoes could be thick once the road was left behind. But not this year, and so they lingered on the hidden paths, and wandered down the hill. Then they came out of the woods, where they knew there was a hidden pond. The sun shone down on them, making Minako's golden tresses glow, and shining even upon the midnight-black hair of mystical, mysterious Rei.

Then Rei stopped, and said: "Wait! There's an aura here."

And they stopped. They had known Rei long enough to know that her ability to sense magical auras was strong. They looked around, searching for some monster or alien that might threaten them. But none could they find; they were alone there, on the open lawn down near that pond, except for one girl, probably a teen-ager, with red hair, a pale sweater, and a short skirt. Where could the danger lie?

And then Minako said suddenly, "Look at that girl! I think she's one of them."

Usagi didn't catch on, at first. "What do you mean, one of them? Who's them?"

Minako rolled her eyes a bit. It always seemed to take Usagi a while to catch on to anything. So she said, "One of those girls from the TV show. One of those so-called heroes." Before going to the park, they and their friends Ami and Makoto had been watching a daytime TV show called "Where Are They Now?" The show usually concerned some singer, actress, or idol from years past who had disappeared from public view, but that day's episode had concerned a group of Magical Girls that had appeared on the TV news a year or so before. They had gotten quite a bit of notoriety, and had been billed by some as "Tokyo's True Heroes." Then they had dropped off the map, and no one had heard about them for several months. But the girl down by the pond certainly looked like the blowhard they had seen, shooting her mouth off on that old news report they had seen on the show, and generally flirting with the world as she did so.

Finally, Usagi understood, and asked, "Are you sure she's the one? The one on the TV had a tail. This girl looks normal."

Minako snorted. "Duh... Maybe the tail is the result of her transformation, rather like the angel wings of this other magical girl I know."

Usagi took a second to figure that one out, too. "Oh, you mean me, when I do the super transformation. Yes, I suppose - she really looks like the girl on the TV. I mean - look at that ridiculous hair, except that it's not pink. And the pink, " she added knowingly, "might be the result of her transformation." She smiled, thinking that she had scored a point.

But Minako rolled her eyes. "You, Usagi, shouldn't talk about ridiculous hair." Usagi's blonde pigtails trailed nearly to the ground.

Suddenly, Rei broke into the conversation. "It's her! She's the one with the aura. She's either a magical girl, or a monster."

"Well, we'll find out, " said Usagi, and she led them down to the girl by the pond. The girl seemed distracted, staring at the water, and they got very close without her noticing them. So Usagi said to her, "Hey, you!"

The girl was jerked out of some dreamy-eyed reverie, and turned to Usagi and her companions. "What?" she asked, looking very puzzled. "Who are you?"

"Who are you?" Usagi demanded.

The girl's eyes searched first Usagi, then Minako, then Rei; but they registered no understanding. "I don't know who you are, and I don't know what you want. But if you're mad at me or something, I wish you'd tell me why."

It was Rei who spoke next. "You don't know who we are, but you should. And as for you, we want to know your name."

The girl seemed frightened a bit, and stepped back from the other three. "My name - my name is Momomiya Ichigo. And yours?"

Each of the girls answered in turn. "Tsukino Usagi." "Hino Rei." "Aino Minako." And then Usagi asked, in straightforward fashion: "Are you one of those Mew Mews we saw on the TV? You know, 'Tokyo's Real Heroes,' as they called them?"

"That's no business of yours," the red-haired girl said.

"But it is," Usagi said. "You Mew Mews have been getting a lot of press, showing off, acting like this is your town. Well, we were here first. You're just a copy of us, and not half as good. We're Tokyo's real heroes, and we don't like it when some new hotshots think they can take over our town."

"Tokyo's a pretty big town," the girl, Ichigo, said. "And we live here, and that's that. I don't know who you are, but you've got a lot of brass in you, coming down here and telling me whose town this is, as if I don't belong." The girl was getting her back up, and very quickly. "So you say it's your town. Just who do you claim you are, if you're so great?"

Usagi posed, and said: "Sailor Moon." And Rei added, "Sailor Mars." And Minako finished, "Sailor Venus." Minako had already sent a signal to the other Sailor Senshi on her cell phone, just in case their support was needed. Things were beginning to look ugly.

The red-haired girl shrugged. "Really? Sailor Moon? I thought she was just a Halloween costume for children."

"You really think you're hot stuff, don't you!" Usagi barked. "We were saving Tokyo long before anyone ever heard of Mew Mews. It's just that we never got on TV. But we're the REAL heroes around here."

"Well, REAL heroes," Ichigo said, "I wish you'd leave me alone. If you saved Tokyo, or Japan, or the world, it's news to me."

Usagi snorted. "I defeated Queen Beryl and saved the world. I defeated Galaxia and saved the universe." She looked down at the red-haired upstart. "Just who do you think you are, coming into my town and thinking you could take over?"

Ichigo cringed. Usagi had plenty of backup with Rei and Minako behind her, while she stood alone. But Ichigo had always been brave, to a fault; and something had changed in her after her conquest of Deep Blue, and even more so after she had returned from England and defeated Berri to once again become leader of the Mew Mews. Now, maybe, she had become proud. She would not back down. "We defeated the aliens, and their chimera animas, and we saved the world, too! We have as much right to be here as you do!"

Usagi spread her feet and waved her finger in the red-haired girl's face. "Once? You say you've saved the world once? Well, we saved the world five times! We're Tokyo's heroes, and you'd better learn that, you cocky little smart-ass!"

"Really? Five times?" the girl retorted. "Sounds to me like you can't do the hero thing right, and you have to do it over and over!"

Usagi's blue yes blazed. "You stinking little bitch!" her voice hissed. "You'd better accept us as the real heroes now, or..."

"Or, what?" Ichigo interrupted the blonde's speech. "Just what am I supposed to do, to accept you? Maybe kiss your fat butt?"

Usagi's eyes went wild. If Ichigo had changed since becoming a hero, Usagi had changed much more. She was far from the girl she had been. Since the fall of Galaxia, there had been no serious challenge to her power. As far as she was concerned, she was already Princess Serenity, and Mamoru was already hers. And she knew that these new so-called magical girls were just pale shadows of the Sailor Senshi. She had taken all she could take from this loud-mouthed braggart, and she lifted her magic pendant and called out, "Moon Crystal Power, MAKE-UP!"

She leaped into the air and began spinning, and she transformed into her alter-ego, Sailor Moon. But Ichigo was not idle. She knew what was coming, so she seized her own pendant, kissed it, and called out: "Mew Mew Strawberry, METAMORPHO-SIS!" She, too, transformed, and she did it more quickly than Usagi - Sailor Moon's transformation was a seemingly endless process. She was standing there, pink hair, cat ears, tail, and all, her hands on her hips, when Sailor Moon finally finished her change.

Then the blonde posed, showing off plenty of thigh as she always did, and spoke her line: "In the name of the Moon, I will punish you!"

Ichigo did not respond at first, but just glared at her rival. Then her face softened, and she spoke, seemingly in all innocence: "Punish me for what?"

Sailor Moon stopped, suddenly taken aback. "For... for... " she stammered. She had expected nothing of the sort. Her two compatriots stood aside, somewhat smirking as they watched the wheels of Usagi's mind turn so very slowly. Rei in particular always enjoyed it when Usagi's shortcomings were exposed. She had always been Usagi's rival, and had always considered herself at least a bit better than her more famous companion. But Sailor Moon finally spoke: "Punish you for disrespecting the Moon Princess, and for trying to take over our town." Then she smirked: "And for being such a FREAK with those baka cat ears!"

A look came over the pink-haired girl's face, a look of such frightening determination that others might have fled from it; but not Sailor Moon. Spinning again, she raised her Moon Scepter, pointed it, and proclaimed: "Moon Crystal Power... Crush!" The magic poured from the wand, and crashed upon the cat-eared girl in pink. Mew Ichigo raised her hand and caught her Strawberry Bell, and she held it with both hands before her. But the power of Moon magic crashed over her, driving her back and then to her knees. The barrier of her Bell was falling, the magic was crushing her...

Then the blast stopped. The Moon Princess had poured everything she had into that blast, and it was enough to stop any enemy she had ever faced. As the magic light cleared, she looked, gloating, at her victim. Then her mouth dropped open. Mew Ichigo still knelt, and now she struggled to stand!

The girl in pink still had that same terrible determination in her eyes as she half-staggered - forward. She held the Strawberry Bell in front of her with her left hand and used her right to try to hold her balance. One step, another, another, she advanced on Sailor Moon.

Once again the Moon Princess leaped into the air and spun. "Moon Crystal Power... DESTROY!" she chanted, and again the silver crystal on the end of her staff poured its deadly magic upon the cat-eared girl. But Sailor Moon had invested too much of her power into the first spell, and this blast was shorter, and weaker, and this time Ichigo did not even go to her knees. A third time Sailor Moon leaped up and began spinning, sure that one more blast would finish the little fool once for all.

But now her rival was far too close to her for that, and as Usagi spun, Ichigo leaped up, and her pink-booted foot lashed a savage kick into the blonde's ribs, crumpling her up. And as the Princess fell, Ichigo spun, and her boot crashed upside her enemy's head. Sailor Moon hit the ground in a heap.

Then Ichigo leaped into the air, spinning, and screamed her war chant: "Ribbon... Strawberry... SURPRISE!" The power leaped from the Strawberry Bell, power that flowed from the searing flame of Ichigo's spirit. The blast crashed into the stunned, defenseless Sailor Moon and hurled her back, bouncing her body along the ground. Then the magic burst ended, and all was suddenly still. The great Sailor Moon lay broken in the dirt on her belly, her clothes torn, her scepter now lifeless in the dust near her right hand. She had held it to the end, but it had not been enough. She twitched feebly once, and made some vain attempt to rise. But she had nothing left within her. She gasped and then lay still, utterly defeated.

The victorious Ichigo walked toward her victim. She struggled with the temptation to strut in her pride. She had never felt like this before. She had bested Sailor Moon in single combat. She was the top Mahou Shoujo in all of Tokyo! She stood over the fallen heroine, her right hand holding the Strawberry Bell, her left hand planted on her hip. She felt a twinge of pity for the beaten Moon Princess; she expected to feel this. It was part of her make-up. Sailor Moon had been a great heroine and had saved the world and everything else. But this was Ichigo's moment, now. She planted her booted foot on Usagi's curvy butt and raised the Strawberry Bell in triumph.

Yes, Ichigo had changed; but not enough. She was still too naive. It was too late when she heard the shout behind her: "Venus... Love-Me... CHAIN!" She jerked the Strawberry Bell between herself and the shout, but she had little magic left, either. She had taken too hard a blow from Sailor Moon, and had expended too much in her attack; her magic fire burned low. The Love-Me Chain lashed about her, battering her. But that was not the worst. She was defenseless to the next shout: "Mars... Fire... SOUL!" Rei's savage shot crashed into her back, and for Ichigo, everything went black.

Venus and Mars kept hurling magic attacks upon the broken girl, knocking her beaten body into a bloody heap. They were wild with anger and hatred after seeing Sailor Moon fall, and no pity or reason would hold them back. Once again Sailor Venus leaped into the air, and spun as she shouted, "Venus... Love..."

But a brutally strong arm seized her, cutting off her attack. With wild eyes she twisted upon her attacker, and looked into the green eyes of Sailor Jupiter. "Stop! Stop!" the big girl was screaming. "Stop! This is murder!"

"Traitor!" Venus shrieked at Jupiter. "She killed Sailor Moon!"

"BAKA!" another voice screamed, louder than all the rest. Sailor Mercury was holding the fallen Sailor Moon against her breast, and a small smile was visible on the blonde's face. "You fool! Usagi's a long way from dead!" The action stopped suddenly. Ami was always the quiet one, but now she was in charge. "Stop it now! Two against one who's helpless is nothing but cold-blooded murder!"

Rei settled on the ground next to their broken enemy. Ichigo's left leg was broken and twisted at a terrible angle. Her once-pretty face was mangled almost beyond recognition, and it looked as if her neck was probably broken, and maybe her skull was crushed, too. And all her skin was flayed and burned from the magic blasts.

Rei reached down, and touched the battered girl, then shook her; but there was no response. Then she looked up. "Too late for that now, Ami. I think she's dead as a doornail."

"No!" Jupiter shouted. "What have you done? Are we now villains - murderers?"

"Baka!" Mars sneered in return. "Your fat butt had nothing to do with this, so leave that we thing out of this. It was me, and Venus. If we hadn't attacked, she would have killed our Princess. And worse, she planted her foot on her, shamed her. That deserves death, and more than death. She got what she deserved."

Ami spoke quietly now. "We saw what she did, when we were running up. Maybe you have forgotten that there's a difference between a fair fight and two girls attacking one - one already hurt - without warning."

Anger rose in Sailor Mars's eyes, but before she could speak, another voice shouted, "Ribbon... Lettuce... RUSH!" The water blast crashed into Rei and bowled her along the ground. With a savage "Ribbon... Zakuro... SPEAR!" Mew Zakuro's whip wrapped around the middles of both Sailor Jupiter and Sailor Venus and the burning magical pain ripped through them. And suddenly Mew Pudding's Ring Inferno buried both Ami and Usagi in a constraining and constricting magical pudding. Too late; but Ichigo's reinforcements had arrived.

Mew Mint's arrow blasted Sailor Mars, who was already reeling from Lettuce's attack. But the Sailor Senshi were hardened fighters all, and never ones to run from a fight. Jupiter's electrical attack ripped Mint and Venus's Chain attack lashed at Lettuce. The battle was growing wild, with eight magical girls fighting each other - maybe to the death!

But Mew Zakuro dropped out. She was older, and wiser, and knew things that the rest did not; and she held next to her heart a tiny fragment of Mew Aqua that she had secretly saved from the final battle with the aliens. She knelt next to the battered wreckage that had been Mew Ichigo and laid her dark-maned head upon the fallen girl's breast. And she felt what the others could not have: still, feebly but truly, Ichigo's heart still beat. She drew the broken body against her heart and whispered whatever prayers she knew as she pressed the Aqua fragment against Ichigo's heart. And she felt the power of the Mew Aqua surge through her own body, and Ichigo's. She screamed: "Lettuce! Pull her leg straight!" Sweet Lettuce heard, even in the midst of deadly battle, and came running. She jerked the broken leg out and with bloody hands held the broken ends together while the Mew Aqua's warmth flowed through them all. And then, as if from one returned from the dead, Ichigo's eyes opened a little; and she whispered, or gasped: "NO! You must go, all of you. Stop the fight." Then the pink-haired girl sank back into the darkness with one last whisper: "I... command... it."

Zakuro wanted to object. She wanted to make those evil thugs pay for what they had done to Ichigo. But she knew in her heart that Ichigo, as usual when the chips were down, was right: if they fought here to the end, many would die. Maybe all of them would die. And certainly, Ichigo would die. And as a good Samurai, Zakuro would obey her leader to the end, and Ichigo was their leader and no other. She stood and spoke in a commanding voice: "Mint! Pudding! Let's Go!"

"But we're winning!" shrieked little Pudding.

Zakuro had no time for that. "Pudding, Ichigo commands it! Go!" Then she turned to Lettuce. "Lettuce, you carry Ichigo. Don't worry, you're strong enough. I'll guard the rear." Lettuce picked up the broken Ichigo and staggered off, while behind her the shout of "Ribbon... Zakuro SPEAR!" and a bright flash told her that Mew Zakuro was breaking the magical attacks against them, maybe at the cost of her life. Then Pudding came to help, and they carried Ichigo's body away from the terrible place of battle.