A/N: For everyone who asked where Fighter was, now you'll know. Enjoy!
Fighting Rubeus was forcing me to draw on reserves of patience that I hadn't actually known I possessed until now. I glared at him with all of the force I could muster and said, as calmly as I could, "I've been told that I should never give up no matter what happens, Rubeus. My friends are the ones who taught me that. No matter what your plan is or how you plan to use my friends against me, I won't let any harm come to the Earth. I know what matters most."
"Proud words, but I'm not sure that you actually mean them," he mocked.
The problem was, he was right and we both knew it. My biggest weakness had always been that I wanted to protect everyone. That was why I'd begged Haruka and Michiru to fight with us when I first met them, because I didn't want anyone to be sacrificed. But I'd learned a lot over the past two years. I knew now that sometimes there was just no saving everyone. The fight with Galaxia had definitely taught me that. And I knew that I couldn't stop fighting just because of Rubeus's threats. The hope that my friends would return had carried me through that last battle, but if I'd given up - the whole universe would have been destroyed. I refused to let Rubeus succeed where Chaos hadn't.
"Do your worst," I said steadily, staring him down.
"As you wish." Rubeus cocked his head, and, when I didn't move, nodded towards one of the crystal spikes. I turned to see what he was looking at and felt my insides freeze up. I'd wondered when I would see Fighter. I'd been hoping that I would, if only because it would be proof that she was still alive. But I was not prepared for what I saw in that crystal.
She and Petz were fighting, and Petz was winning. That was clear at a glance. Fighter was doing her best, and she was spectacularly strong now. But Petz was... there was no way to describe the incredible amount of power she had. It was pouring out of her hands in thick waves of black lightening that flooded the room and left Fighter trapped with no escape. I flinched as the black lightening suddenly shot inwards, and Fighter's body jerked around helplessly as she was caught in the middle of it. I clapped a hand across my mouth, but I couldn't stop the muffled whimper that escaped me when the air finally cleared and Fighter collapsed on the ground.
I felt frozen as the seconds ticked by and Fighter didn't move. I wanted to reach out and gather her into my arms, I wanted to attack Petz for daring to do something so awful. But all I could do was stand there and pray. It seemed to take forever before Fighter's hands twitched, and then she opened her eyes. The sheer amount of relief I felt when she pushed herself into a seated position nearly made me faint, it was so powerful. I knew, though, that she wasn't out of the woods yet. Petz had stood back while Fighter was unconscious - and that surprised me, though I was grateful she hadn't taken her chance to strike again while Fighter was helpless - but now she spoke. And to my surprise, I could hear every word.
"It's pathetic, you know, the way you cling to her. If you knew what Sailor Moon was really like, you wouldn't bother."
"Oh, pray tell, illuminate me as to what you think she's really like," Fighter said sarcastically, rubbing the back of her hand across her mouth. My stomach tightened when her glove came away smeared with blood.
"She's a crybaby," Petz said without pause, more lightening crackling around her hands. "She was supposed to be Queen, but she couldn't cut it. You know the real reason why we're here? It wasn't because the ginzuishou forced us away from the Earth. Neo-Queen Serenity was a flighty, irresponsible wimp who thought that everything could be puppies and rainbows all the time. She had no idea what it meant to run a country, much less the whole world. And when things went to hell, rather than trying to figure out what was really going on she just banished some of us to Nemesis."
Fighter just stared at her for a moment, like she was waiting to see if Petz was going to say anything else. Then she said, "Maybe you're right" and I thought I was going to throw up. "Maybe Neo-Queen Serenity was like that. I didn't know her, so I can't say for certain. But I have to say that I find it impossible to believe that Sailor Moon would ever turn into someone like that. When I came to this planet, she went out of her way to find out why I was here instead of just turning us away."
Petz started to speak, but Fighter cut her off. "But hey, for argument's sake let's say that you're right and Neo-Queen Serenity was a horrible ruler. That doesn't mean you have to take your grievances out on Sailor Moon. It's not her fault. She's not Neo-Queen Serenity."
For the first time, Petz actually looked a little uncertain. The black lightening started to die down. "But someday she will be," she pointed out.
"How do you know that? As far as I know, Tuxedo Kamen is dead," Fighter replied, slowly getting to her feet. "That means Sailor Moon won't be the ruler of the Earth, right? There won't be any royal marriage to set Crystal Tokyo into place. So you're basically taking your anger out on someone who is innocent. More than that, you're taking it out on someone who has given you a home for the past year: someone who protected you and did everything she could to make sure you and your sisters had a happy life. I'm not going to stand here and fight with you about what happened in the future, because I don't really know. But I do know that Sailor Moon is not Neo-Queen Serenity, and this Earth is not Crystal Tokyo. What you're doing is wrong."
"Fighter..." I whispered, stunned. I'd never heard anyone defend me so passionately. The things that she and Petz were saying was leaving me reeling. Chibi-Usa had always made Crystal Tokyo sound like a beautiful utopia, something that we should all strive towards. I had never thought to question her about whether or not that was really true; I just took what she said and everything else we had learned about the future for granted.
But maybe she'd been wrong. Chibi-Usa was, after all, just a child. And when things had been happening with the Black Moon family, she'd been a baby. Maybe things in Crystal Tokyo hadn't been as good as she thought. I put a hand to my head, realizing that I no longer knew what to think, before I turned back to Rubeus. The look on his face was one of sheer rage, and I knew in a flash that he was furious that Fighter was talking some sense into Petz. That wasn't what he'd been planning on me seeing at all.
The crystal spike we'd been looking into suddenly flashed red and faded, but that no longer surprised me. I said quietly, "She's right, you know. I'm not Neo-Queen Serenity, Rubeus. And now I never will be. Prince Endymion is dead. Crystal Tokyo will never come to pass."
"You think that matters to me?" Rubeus demanded, and the force of his glare was so strong that I couldn't stop myself from wincing a little. "You may not be Neo-Queen Serenity, but you have still fought against us. You destroyed what was left of the Black Moon. You tried to kill me." His mouth lifted into a terrible smile. "And what's more, I know that you are carrying the Rabbit."
I took a step back without intending to, my hand instinctively clutching at my stomach. I could feel the blood draining from my face. "How... how did you know?"
He laughed at me. It was a horrible sound. "I didn't know for certain until just now," he admitted, and I realized I'd fallen right into his trap. "But I suspected. I was watching you while you were fighting against Koan. When you spoke of the Rabbit, you talked about her in the present tense. As though she still existed. When you were attacked you cared only about protecting your stomach, and when Koan was strangling you, you didn't push her away because you were still trying to protect it."
God. Every word he said made me feel like I was going to throw up even more. I swallowed hard, knowing that my plan of not letting Rubeus know that I was pregnant had just gone out the window. Something told me that he wouldn't take very well to the whole 'I don't even know if I'm pregnant with Chibi-Usa' spiel because in his eyes, the fact that there was even a chance was too much. I took another step back and only remembered Chibi-Chibi when I felt her hands tightening around my leg.
That's right, I had two children to protect. I stopped and straightened my shoulders. "Regardless of what you think you know, that doesn't change anything," I said with a confidence I didn't feel. "I won't let you destroy the Earth, and I'll do whatever it takes to stop you."
The smirk he threw at me was my only warning before black balls started flying at me from every direction. I spun around and grabbed Chibi-Chibi, clutching her against me as the ground around us exploded. I couldn't stop from crying out as agonizing pain bit into my legs and thighs. I didn't even realize we were airborne until I felt the wind rustling through my wings. I spread them instinctively to help slow our descent, and only fell to my knees once we'd touched down.
It hurt, there was no denying that. I didn't have to look down at my legs to know that they were liberally dotted with bright red burns. I took a split second to be thankful that my fuku came with knee-high boots, and not the heels that some of the other girls had worn, or otherwise I might not have been able to stand. As it was, getting to my feet was surprisingly painful. I started to turn around, only to catch sight of more of those balls out of the corner of my eye. I threw myself to the side this time, just barely avoiding them.
"You cannot run forever, Sailor Moon!" Rubeus shouted. He sounded like he was enjoying this, the bastard. I couldn't see him through the smoke that was billowing through the room, but I could picture the smirk on his face and it made my hands itch with the urge to get rid of him once and for all. "You will not be leaving this room alive."
I gritted my teeth at the absolute arrogance in his voice. He was just so certain that this was going to end the way he wanted to. "That's what you think!" I shouted back. I immediately realized my mistake when more bombs hit the ground where I'd just been standing. This time, I banged my elbow hard against the wall and my whole arm went numb. I had to switch Chibi-Chibi to the other side and shake it out, but that just made it even worse: it went all tingly and painful.
"This is what I know," Rubeus said, and then suddenly he was there, looming out of the darkness over the two of us. "If you had given yourself up and allowed me to kill you and the Rabbit without this pitiful fight, I might have let your beloved planet live. But know this, Sailor Moon." He gripped my jaw and made me look into his eyes. It was like staring into two empty pools of black. "When you and your brats are dead, I am going to kill every living thing on this planet. And then I am going to destroy it."