Chapter 1: "The Nighttime Visitor"
A neo-Sailor Moon fanfic

By Bill K.

Sailor Moon and all related characters are (c)2012 by Naoko Takeuchi and are used without permission, but with respect. Story is (c)2012 by Bill K.

Naru Park was one of the largest parks in Crystal Tokyo. Named for one of the Queen's childhood friends, it was meticulously maintained and stood as an island of nature in the midst of thirtieth century progress. Park attendants kept watch over the facility to make certain it was kept up. Animals lived and co-existed in the spacious grounds as they had for thousands of years. Children played in the park. Lovers sought out beautiful surroundings in which to share the joy of each other's company. People laughed and relaxed amid the rush of the fountains, the lushness of the green and the thousands of flowers that decorated the land.

And one teen girl, with a special connection to plants, wandered the grounds as she often did, losing herself in the songs of the flowers and the admiration of the trees. Cere was a familiar sight to the park attendants. She was here nearly every week, summer or winter, strolling the grounds and taking in the smells and feeling of the green like a lover's caress.

Besides, she was one of the Princess's senshi. That also made her familiar to a lot of people in Crystal Tokyo. And she was a stunning beauty besides, with her stylized magenta hair, a figure that caught more than one eye, and a face that seemed taken from a classic marble statue of a god. Many people noticed her, but when she was in the park her attention was usually taken up by the trees and the flowers.

"Here again, Cere-San?" asked one of the attendants. He was an older man, nearing sixty. Cere thought of him almost as a grandfather figure.

"Well, fall is approaching and I wanted to make sure that the flowers were handling it," Cere replied with a vivacious smile. "Some of them get a little nervous this time of year."

"You're probably the best friend they have," he chuckled.

"Well, they're good company," Cere told him. "Better than some humans can be," she thought to herself.

Continuing her stroll, Cere's attention was caught by someone over by the pond. It was a man sitting in front of an easel. He was painting something. Piqued, the girl crossed over to him. If there was one thing Cere liked as much as plants, new clothes and Suleman Velez films, it was art. She couldn't draw a straight line without the help of a computer program, but she appreciated art. It was probably because she couldn't do it that she appreciated it so much. Creating beauty, capturing life on canvas was something fantastic to her.

As she approached, Cere could see that the picture was a still life of the pond. At least that was what it seemed to be. Closer inspection revealed a graceful female figure dancing on the water as if it were covered in ice. The figure was breath-taking, a personification of grace of movement frozen in still life, and yet suggesting movement. Cere's breath caught in her throat.

Finally she glanced at the artist. He was a tall figure, slightly gaunt in appearance, with sallow cheeks and bushy black hair haphazardly kept. Thick black frame glasses, in a day and age when corrective eye surgery was a simple procedure for ninety-nine percent of the population, sat on his face. He could have been handsome, or at least presentable if he tried, but it didn't seem like he cared. Either unaware of her presence or unmoved to acknowledge it, the man, who seemed barely twenty, continued to apply artificial hue to the chemically treated canvas with his hue stick.

"That's very nice," Cere offered, in awe of his skill.

The man kept painting.

"I really like the way you contrast the dancer with the water and the foliage," Cere offered again.

"It's not finished," the man replied gruffly, never taking his attention from his canvas. Cere raised an eyebrow.

"It's so good now, I don't see how it could get any better," Cere persisted, trying to gain his favor - - at least get him to talk to her beyond a grunt.

"Then it's a good thing I'm the one painting it," he mumbled, his hand working a hue stick around the arch of the figure's hip to thin it.

"Well you don't have to be rude," Cere scowled.

"Nothing else is working," he sighed.

"I'm just trying to be nice!" Cere barked. "You've got a lot of talent, but . . .!"

"Look, I'm trying to concentrate on what . . .!" the artist retorted gruffly, turning toward Cere as he spoke. But he stopped when he locked eyes with Cere.

For her part, Cere was amazed. This man had the most penetrating set of eyes she'd ever seen. They were like two circles of onyx in a sea of white. They held her spellbound, seemed to look inside her. Their intensity was overwhelming. For his part, his ability to articulate suddenly deserted him. His annoyance was forgotten. His painting was forgotten. Rising from his stool, the man leaned in, studying her face, dissecting it. Just a second passed. But it was a long second.

"Um," he said, struggling to focus his thoughts on something other than her, "you're - - an amazing - - you have amazing features. Would you let me paint you?"

"Me?" Cere asked. Being beautiful, she was used to being propositioned. But no one had ever offered to paint her before, other than the queen. The idea appealed to her narcissistic side. And this guy had talent. That was appealing, too.

"I'll pay you!" he blurted out. "I think you'd be a wonderful subject!" And he said it while staring at her with that white hot intensity of someone who saw things on another plane beyond reality.

"Don't worry about that," Cere chuckled. "I don't need the money. But you really want me to pose for you?"

"You'd be the perfect subject," he told her. His hand fished his PDA out of his pocket and he held it up to link with hers. "I have a studio in the Minato-Ku section. I'll download the coordinates to your PDA." Suddenly a thought occurred to him. "Bring someone if you want. I don't want you to be nervous."

"You're pretty sure I'll say 'yes'," Cere replied.

"Why wouldn't you?" he asked. And he asked in a way that told her being turned down had never once occurred to him. Either he was supremely confident or supremely hallucinatory.

"Sure," Cere said, a little swept away. "I can't wait to see how I look through your eyes," and she glanced down at the PDA, "Kuroda-San. Um, my name's Cere."

But Kuroda was already gathering up his stool and easel, his previous painting forgotten in a wave of inspiration. Without acknowledging her, he walked off with a steady, determined stride.

"Um," Cere lamely offered, "thank you?"

Kuroda just kept walking, his attention focused inward. He brushed past a couple in the park and didn't even bother to excuse himself.

"Wait until I tell Jun about this," she said to herself, looking slightly confused.

"Why don't you go out tonight?" Queen Serenity proposed to her recently turned eighteen year old daughter Usa. "It's going to be a lovely night."

What she didn't notice, as usual, was that her daughter was trying to silently count to ten in order to prevent an angry outburst. Unfortunately she only got to four.

"I told you I have to get this paper done, MOTHER," Usa responded through clenched teeth. "It's a very important paper for school, MOTHER!"

"It'll be veeeeeeeery romantic," Serenity grinned knowingly.

"I don't have time right now!" Usa fumed. "I've got to get this done!"

"It can wait!" persisted Serenity.

"No, it can't!" Usa flared. "I'm not used to getting thirties, unlike you in YOUR school days!"

"Ami-Chan tells me you're four months ahead of all the other students in your class!" the queen snapped back. "You work too hard, Honey! Have some fun!"

"I DO have fun!" Usa argued. "I just don't let my responsibilities slide in order to have fun!"

"Might I make a suggestion?" Luna inquired with ill-concealed exasperation. She had been watching the debate grow into an argument from her perch on one of the tables.

"NO!" roared Serenity.

"Hmph!" snorted Luna and bounded out of the room.

"Mom, go run the country! I can take care of myself!" Usa barked.

"Well, forgive me for worrying about you, you ungrateful little brat!" Serenity fumed. "I'll just stop from now on!"

"That'll be the day! You worry if I eat enough! You worry if I sleep enough! You worry if I dress right! You worry if I brushed my teeth! You worry if I'll accidentally get pregnant and at the same time you worry that I'll never give you any grandkids! Sometimes I think the only time you DON'T worry is when you're downstairs raiding the refrigerator at two in the morning!"

"Well when I do, I run into you half the time!" snorted Serenity. Her daughter's coloring cheeks went unnoticed.

"Mom! Try to grasp this concept: I-am-eighteen-years-old! I can run the everyday events of my life on my own, WITHOUT YOUR HELP, THANK YOU!"

Serenity was about to respond, but Usa exited into her quarters. The door slid shut in the queen's face. Angrily the monarch kicked the door, then limped away to nurse her bruised toe. Inside the room, Usa flung herself across her bed in frustration and clutched a pillow to her chest.

"So is the latest chapter of your on-going parent-child crisis finally over?" Diana inquired from under the bed. Her gray head popped out and looked up at the Princess. "It gets so hard to listen to after a while."

"Diana, you just don't understand," fumed Usa.

"Care to wager upon that?" Diana replied cynically.

"Well, maybe YOU do," Usa sighed. "Honestly, Diana, sometimes I wish I wasn't an only child, just so Mom would have somebody else to smother!"

"It isn't very charitable to wish your troubles upon someone else," Diana gave her a wry smile, "but I must confess that I have had that particular fantasy once and again."

"I know what she's doing," Usa said. "She's trying to get me to commit to Helios. You know, get married?"

"And I thought that was at the top of your 'to do' list as well?"

"I'd do it today," Usa sighed. "But we're not ready. I see that. Helios has responsibilities that he can't leave. And I've still got some growing up to do, too."

"You?" Diana responded with more cynicism.

"I've still got so much more to know," Usa said. Diana could sense the doubts and fears begin to simmer beneath her friend's surface. "There's still a part of me that's not ready to handle being a wife, a mother, a queen - - that's not ready for the power I have within me, that I'm destined to wield. I'm sure it's that part that keeps me from ascending into my Eternal Sailor Moon phase." She paused for a moment. "The part that Wiseman reached."

"That was a long time ago," Diana advised her. "You were much younger then."

"It's still there," Usa whispered, recalling the memory of the disastrous scenario the alien Desdaemona had put her through, a memory only she, Helios and Sailor Pluto retained. Suddenly she flung herself to her feet. "Besides, Helios has work to do tonight and so do I. We'll see each other when I'm asleep." She glanced at Diana. "I'll try not to disturb your sleeping while I work."

"You assume I'll be sleeping," sniffed Diana.

Now it was Usa's turn to give her a cynical look.

"Dad, you were a bad influence on me," the gray cat muttered as she crawled back under the bed.

Cere entered the quarters she shared with her three adoptive sisters. Only Palla-Palla seemed to be there. She was in her corner, doodling on a coloring program on her computer station. The teen turned to the sound of Cere entering and gave her sister a wide smile.

"Welcome back, Cere-Cere!" Palla-Palla chirped. "Did you enjoy the park?"

"It's hard not to when everything is still blooming," Cere responded. She headed over to her work station. "Where's Jun and Ves? They go out?"

"Ves-Ves is in her room," Palla-Palla answered. "She's not supposed to go out, remember? She's still house-resting."

"Still under house arrest," Cere corrected her. "That's amazing in itself. I guess she's serious about cleaning up her act this time."

"Jun-Jun went to a concert," Palla-Palla dutifully reported. "Palla-Palla wanted to go, but she doesn't like the loud singers Jun-Jun likes." Seeing Cere was working on her computer, Palla-Palla got up and wandered over. "What ya' doing?"

"Checking out an address," Cere replied as she transmitted an address from her PDA to the computer.

"You don't trust the boy who gave it to you?" Palla-Palla said innocently. However, Cere's head whipped around and she glared at the teen.

"Do you know how aggravating it is when you do that?" Cere growled. She turned back to the computer. "It's not that I don't trust him. It is Crystal Tokyo, after all. It's not like the place is dangerous. It's not Sao Paulo. But I guess old habits die hard. And lying hasn't been eradicated, so it doesn't hurt to check him out."

"That's pretty smart, actually," Ves said, standing in the doorway to her room. "How did you manage to think of it?"

"Quiet or I'll call your parole officer," Cere shot back. Palla-Palla giggled and even Ves took it in good humor. "That's him. I guess he was being straight."

"Who is he, Cere-Cere?" Palla-Palla asked eagerly.

"You mean you haven't read it yet?"

"You told me not to," Palla-Palla pouted.

"I met him in Naru Park," explained Cere. By now Ves was looking at the file, an identity file kept by Crystal Tokyo's Bureau of Internal Statistics that listed a resident's picture, name, address and contact number. "He's an artist. He wants to paint me!"

"What color?" grunted Ves. Cere responded with a flapping tongue.

"Are you going to do it?" Palla-Palla asked.

"Sure! Not only is he good," and Cere swallowed nervously, "but he's kind of cute, too."

"You think?" Ves asked.

"Yeah! You don't?"

"Personally, he looks like he could use a hot meal," scowled Ves. "But if you like the scrawny types, go for it."

"Is he as good as the Queen?" Palla-Palla asked.

"Better!" exclaimed Cere.

"Is he as good as Kaioh-Sensei?" Ves asked.

Cere paused. "He's up there."

"That reminds me. I saw Hotaru earlier," reported Ves. "She was out with Yutaka."

"How's she doing?" Cere inquired.

Ves shrugged. "I think she's getting over it. Although I still don't know why she's so bent about it."

"The Queen says that you're not supposed to kill people," Palla-Palla recited.

"Some people don't give you a choice," Ves replied. "So when are you supposed to meet up with this guy?"

"Tomorrow," Cere answered, her anticipation evident.

"Want me to come along?" Ves asked. "Just in case he tries something?"

"Ves, I am a senshi and I can take care of myself," Cere replied. Then she grew a saucy grin. "And part of me is kind of hoping he tries something."

Usa was curled up in her bed, wearing the lacy teddy that always seemed to make her father grind his teeth. Her hair was down and cascaded across the mattress behind her like a flowing pink river. Long elegant legs were pulled up to her chest and her head burrowed into the soft pillow. But a smile curled her lips and told anyone who might get a chance to glimpse her that she was having a very pleasant dream.

Of course, she did have an 'in' when it came to things like that.

Outside the room, a figure silently walked up to the door. There was a familiarity to the gait of the person, as if walking the corridors of the Crystal Palace was something as natural as breathing. The figure paused before the door for a moment, expecting, or hoping, that the environmental control computer would pass her through. When this didn't happen, slender fingers reached out and tapped a code into the access pad in the wall. Obeying the command, the door hissed open without protest.

Padding silently inside, the figure stopped for a moment to grow accustom to the dark. Once this was done, she stole across the floor of the outer room to the bedroom. Pausing in the frame of the door, the figure located what she sought. Cautiously she approached Usa's bed, long trails of hair wafting behind her.

In the closet across from Usa's bed, Diana roused from her sleep. Her cat hearing had caught the slight sound of entry into the room. Thinking this odd, the gray cat rose and peeked out of the closet door. She saw a figure standing by the bed and at first thought the figure was Usa.

"No," Diana thought, "she's slimmer - - smaller."

Then Diana noticed that Usa was still in bed, sleeping. This was someone else standing over her. But who? The silhouette looked like someone she knew, but not quite. Diana was about to speak, to question who was there and why.

Then she saw the firearm in the silhouette's hand rise up and point directly at the still sleeping princess.

Continued in Chapter 2