"Petz!" Koan screamed, falling to her knees and grabbing Petz by the shoulders. She started shaking Petz frantically while begging her to wake up. But I knew that Petz wouldn't be waking up ever again. I gently pulled her hand away from mine and set it back down on top of her body, then pushed myself to my feet. My legs buckled and I nearly collapsed, but Fighter reached out and grabbed me before I could end up right back on the floor. I hadn't even seen her approach. I leaned against her gratefully and turned my head away, not wanting to watch while Berthier, Koan and Calaveras mourned their sister.
"We have to leave," Maker said quietly, looking around the room. Like me, she carefully avoided staring at the Sisters. "Without the dark crystal, I don't think this ship will be able to sustain itself for much longer. Rubeus might have built in some sort failsafe."
"Last time it exploded," Chibi Moon said helpfully.
"You could've mentioned that before," Healer said, trying and failing not to sound horrified. "Maker's right. We've got to get out of here."
"I don't know if I have enough strength left to teleport," I confessed. I hated to say it, but it was the truth. It was taking everything I had just to remain conscious. I felt drained to the point where I wasn't even sleepy anymore. I just wanted to lay down on the floor and do nothing. Expending any more power would mean putting too much of a strain on the ginzuishou.
Maker frowned at that. "Then I'm not sure what we're going to do," she said. "The three of us can teleport, but we've never tried to take so many people with us before. I imagine that a lot of the dark power those four... err, those three possess disappeared when the dark crystal was shattered." She looked worried. "I don't think Fighter, Healer and I can take everyone with us, and we can't leave anyone behind."
I felt a surge of pride at that, and I had to smile at her. "We'll think of something."
"You'll have to think fast," Calaveras said, wiping her face free of tears. "The rabbit's right. Rubeus set this place up to explode if the dark crystal was destroyed. I estimate you've only got about five minutes before it goes up whether we're on it or not."
"Seriously, next time mention that sooner," Healer snapped.
"Healer," I said, trying not to betray the fact that I was quietly freaking out. Now wasn't the time for us to start fighting amongst ourselves, not when the ship was less than five minutes away from exploding. I put my hand over the ginzuishou and tried to muster up a little spark of power. It pulsed weakly beneath my hand, but the resulting drain made my knees go weak. Fighter grunted as she was suddenly left supporting my weight. I clung to her as I blinked black spots away from my vision.
"Okay, no more of that," Fighter said, locking her arms around my waist. "The last thing we need is for you to pass out - or worse."
"Then what do you suggest?" I replied. I wasn't trying to be mean about it, but I didn't see another option. Pegasus couldn't carry all of us. The Starlights weren't strong enough without me, and Calaveras, Koan and Berthier didn't have the power necessary without the dark crystal. I felt like I was banging my head against a brick wall.
"I have an idea," Chibi Moon said. She'd been standing off to the side the whole time, holding Chibi-Chibi with one arm. Her other hand was resting on Pegasus's mane. "Between me, Chibi-Chibi and Pegasus, I think we could open a gate to Elysian. You could go there. Rest up. And then return to Earth when you felt ready."
The fact that she wasn't including herself in that caught my attention immediately. "You won't be coming with us?"
Chibi Moon sighed. "Mommy, I told you that I was only here to help you defeat Rubeus. Even with Chibi-Chibi's help, my power isn't going to be enough to sustain my presence here much longer."
"Then you should keep it so that you can stay as long as you can," I said quickly. I couldn't bear the thought of losing her again so soon.
She looked at me for a few seconds, and I knew what she was thinking. There was no other choice. If we didn't do something soon, we were going to die here on this stupid ship. If it had been just me, I would have gladly sacrifice myself. But it wasn't. Not only did I have to think about the Starlights, Chibi-Chibi and the Sisters, I also had to remember the people of Earth. I doubted that Rubeus would be the last person who came to attack us in the next few years, considering that there had been a steady stream of evil since Beryl. What would happen to the planet without senshi? It would be destroyed.
I closed my eyes against the tears that stung, but they came anyway. At the same time, I felt a gentle touch on my cheek. Chibi Moon was standing right in front of me, and she was crying too. "Please don't cry, Mommy," she said, her voice breaking. "It's okay. It won't be very long until we see each other again. Only thirteen or fourteen years. Considering the lifetimes we've lived, that's nothing."
I tried to smile. "You're right. And the next time around, you'll really be mine. I won't have to worry about sending you off to the future." I reached out and ran my fingers through her hair. The strands were immaterial against my flesh. It was like trying to touch the wind: I only felt something because I was expecting to. I knew then that Chibi Moon had lost a lot more power than she'd let on, and that the only thing keeping her there was sheer determination. That was really what made my decision. I cupped her face in my hands and kissed her on the forehead. "I love you, Chibi-Usa. I know I'm not really your mother, not yet, but you were always my daughter."
"I love you, too, and you were a better mother to me than I realized. I'm sorry if I ever made you think you weren't. I can't wait to grow up with you, Mommy." She was backing away from me as she talked, and when she got to Pegasus she put a hand on his mane and there was a flash of gold light. When it faded away, Eternal Sailor Chibi Moon was gone. In her place was Princess Small Lady Serenity, wearing a small silver crown from which the pink crystal sparkled. Pegasus had transformed, too. Helios smiled at me, and the sorrow in his eyes touched my heart in ways I couldn't express. He knew exactly what we were saying good-bye to, and no matter how little time passed until we saw her again it would still be too long.
"I hate to break this touching scene up, but we've really got to go now," Calaveras said.
"I won't leave Petz behind," said Koan.
"We can bring her along," Helios told them. "She'll be given a burial in Elysian." He turned to Small Lady and took her into his arms. I could hardly bear to watch when he kissed her gently, just a soft brush of lips before Small Lady reached down and picked up Chibi-Chibi. Seeing the three of them together was a little like looking into the future. I could see the daughter that the two of them would have someday, the family they would build. It gave me the courage to turn my head away into Fighter's shoulder and not interfere.
Time blurred together after that, or at least it seemed to slow down. I was aware of the world turning into a brilliant explosion of light. Maybe that was the ship exploding around us as we disappeared, I was never really sure. The next thing I knew Fighter and I hit the ground on our knees because she couldn't support our combined weight anymore. I kept my face tucked against her for a moment longer before I dared to twist my head and take a peek. The only thing I could see was beautiful, pale green grass and a lovely white horse staring at me with its head cocked, like it was trying to figure out what we were doing.
"We made it," I said.
My voice was the spell that broke the silence, and all around us I heard my friends beginning to sit up and take notice of our surroundings. I leaned back just far enough that I could look up at Fighter. She must have read the question I wanted to ask in my eyes, because her face tightened and she sighed. "She's gone, Odango. I'm sorry."
More tears spilled down my cheeks as I turned around to check for myself. Chibi-Chibi and Helios were alone, standing a short distance away from us. Well, Chibi-Chibi was petting the mane of a nearby horse - unicorn? - and giggling. Helios was standing by himself, looking up at the sky. I couldn't see his face and I wasn't sure that I wanted to. I knew that this had to be incredibly hard on him. Chibi Moon was the one person who had always believed in him, who was pure enough to make that connection and reach out to him when no one else could. I didn't think I had enough strength left for anything, but somehow I found enough to get to my feet and walk over to him.
And as I got closer to him, I felt something change. It got easier to stand, and when I looked down at myself I realized I wasn't Sailor Moon anymore. I was dressed like Princess Serenity. It seemed to fit the ethereal quality of Elysian better, so I didn't really mind too much even though walking in those heels on grass was a lot harder than in my boots. I came up behind Helios and reached out to put my hand on his shoulder. It shocked the hell out of me when he spun around and hugged me.
I'd never paid much attention before, but Helios was actually shorter than me. He only came up to my chest. I stared down at him for a minute, stunned, before I slowly put my hand on his hair. I could feel him shaking and his tears were dampening the front of my gown. It broke my heart. I put my other arm around his trembling shoulders and encouraged him to press even closer, wondering if he'd ever been held like this before. I had never questioned who Helios was or where he came from. Was Chibi Moon the only person who had ever bothered to love him?
"I can't believe she's gone," he said finally, voice muffled so that it was barely audible.
"But she's not gone, not really," I replied. "She's here with us, Helios. Inside of me. And I promise you, I'll do everything I can to make sure she grows up healthy and strong and brave this time around. I'll bring her back to you, I swear it."
He nodded his head but he started to cry harder, and I couldn't do anything but stand there and hug him and hope that someday I'd be able to keep my promise.