WRATH OF THE GODS
Chapter 12: A Matter Of Obligation
A Sailor Moon fanfiction
by Bill K.
Sunday, March 13, 2011
The drive back to Tokyo was a somber one. Viewing the wreckage in Fukushima that the tsunami and earthquake had left behind seemed to reinforce a general air of failure among the women in the car. Sailor Moon, Mercury, Jupiter and Tuxedo Mask had long since let their transformations fade. Mamoru glanced over at his wife, saw her gloom, and felt his heart break.
"You did all you could," he told her. Makoto looked up from her depression. Ami didn't. But Usagi just looked out the window. "There are some things that are just bigger than Sailor Moon."
"But there are so many people out there still suffering," Usagi murmured without looking at him.
"You can only do what you can do, Hon'," Makoto offered. "And even if you could help, the Self-Defense Force booted us out of Fukushima."
"But Fukushima isn't the only place hurting," Usagi came back, turning so she could look at Mamoru and Makoto in the back seat. "There are still hundreds of places that were devastated by the tsunami and the earthquake. Are we just supposed to ignore them? They need help."
"What can we do to help them?" Mamoru asked. "The Self-Defense Forces are in those cities and towns, too, and they're probably not going to welcome the help of the senshi anymore than the contingent in Fukushima did. Right now those areas need cooperation more than conflict."
"We don't have to go as senshi. You and Ami-Chan are doctors," Usagi argued. "I'm sure they need doctors for all the injured people. And Mako-Chan could cook meals for all of the relief workers. And I could do - - I don't know, something."
She looked at her husband with those big blue eyes that he was always so helpless against. But she need not have bothered - - her words had already moved him.
"I suppose we could help out," Mamoru nodded. "I'm sure they need all the medical personnel they can get. Ami?"
"Yes, of course," Ami said, still very subdued. "I think Dad would have wanted me to do that instead of mope around and miss him."
"Mako-chan?" Usagi asked.
"Well I really want to get back and see my kids," Makoto said. "But this is more important, I suppose. So where are we headed?"
"Wherever is closest," Usagi proclaimed, her vigor renewed. Mamoru nodded and headed for the nearest off-ramp from the freeway. Noting Usagi's renewed optimism, Makoto began to feel better about herself. She nudged Ami and shared a smile with her. And happily the corners of Ami's mouth began to turn up, ever so slightly.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
"You know, if people see us in this car much longer, they're going to talk."
Rei only gave Minako a sidelong glare, then resumed watching the house of Nobutoshi Sakurai. Sakurai was TEPCO's chief lobbyist in the Diet. He was the man who met with the nation's representatives, helped shape regulation, smoothed over questions of safety and cost efficiency, and greased the skids when TEPCO needed the government's cooperation. He was the chief reason nuclear energy continued to be approved in Japan. Rei and Minako had been watching the Sakurai home for two days now, with nothing to show for it.
"There's got to be a better way to do this than just sit here," Minako groused. "These have been the most boring two days I've spent since I had to study for graduation finals!"
"I'm open to suggestions," Rei replied. "I can't divine any trace of Bachikasai. We know it will strike here next because Sakurai-San is the next closest target. We just don't know when, so we have to wait."
"And how long will that be?" Minako persisted. "Ogami-Sensei said back in the forties there were weeks between the attacks. Are we going to camp here all month waiting for it? Sure, the earthquake canceled my singing tour, so I've 'suddenly' got the time. But I'd like to be a little more proactive than your garden variety spider."
"Well it's no picnic for me watching you fidget," Rei answered. "But lacking another lead . . ."
"Artemis?" Minako said into her communicator. "Tell me you've got SOMETHING on our demon?"
"I'd have to know what I was looking for," Artemis informed her. "Mystical entities don't always register on my instruments. I didn't have any indications of the last two attacks, so I can't very well point you toward something my scans can't see."
"Got it," Minako sighed. "Any messages for me?"
"Great. The world's forgotten me."
"I think they've been a LITTLE preoccupied with the earthquake, the tsunami and the nuclear disaster," Rei said with muted exasperation. "Any word from Usagi?"
"After they got tossed out of Fukushima, they settled in Soma," Artemis reported. "They're working with the relief crews as volunteers."
"At least somebody's doing some good," muttered Rei.
"It's too bad you can't just get some little kid to summon the thing," Minako quipped. "You know, like the kids in 'Gamera tai Shinkai Kaiju Jigura'."
"That's the stupidest . . ." Rei began. Then she stopped. "Wait a minute."
"Come on, Rei! Even I know Gamera movies aren't real," Minako replied. "Unfortunately."
"No, I mean maybe I can summon Bachikasai," Rei persisted. "You remember how Ogami-Sensei's sacred sword was absorbed into Bachikasai? Well I can use that to try to summon Bachikasai to us."
"For real?" Minako asked. "Well let's find a nice open space where nobody will get hurt and kick this thing's butt for it!"
The car lurched into traffic.
"MINAKO!" Rei roared. "You're still under revocation, remember? We're driving this car illegally! The last thing we need is to attract the attention of the police!"
"You worry too much," Minako shrugged.
"I'll remind you of that when we're sitting in jail," Rei snapped back. "CONSTANTLY!"
Akira-Sensei turned when he heard the sound of sandals slapping on stone steps. He saw Hino-Sensei running up the steps to the shrine. She raced toward her quarters without slowing. But as she moved, she pointed to him.
"Stay there!" she shouted, then disappeared into the building. Akira was confused, but did as he was asked. After a few minutes, Rei came back out and ran up to him.
"Akira-Sensei," she panted. "Please come with me! I need your help!"
"Does this concern Bachikasai?" Akira asked.
"Yes! I think I can summon it! But I'm going to need your help!"
"Of course I'll do anything I can to assist you, Hino-Sensei," Akira nodded. "But what of the shrine?"
"That new shrine maiden will have to tend to it," Rei replied. "What was her name - - Yomi? This is too important!"
Nodding again, Akira accompanied Rei down the steps. At the street level, Minako Aino was waiting for them. Her eyes popped when she saw Akira.
"Uh, I didn't think you were picking up a guy," Minako said anxiously.
"We're going to need his help," Rei explained.
"Uh, who's this 'we'? I'm just giving you a lift, stranger," Minako said, trying to cover her involvement.
"Akira-Sensei already figured out my other identity," Rei told her.
"So you just thought you'd give him mine as a bonus?"
"THERE ISN'T TIME FOR THIS! SCOOT OVER!"
"Scoot over for what?"
"Akira-Sensei HAS a valid license," Rei said sourly.
"We stopped here so you could pick up a substitute driver?" howled Minako.
Fuming silently, Minako scooted over. Akira climbed behind the wheel while Rei got in back. He glanced at Minako uncomfortably.
"Um, my son has all of your albums, Aino-San," Akira offered. "And your poster."
"Your son has good taste," Minako scowled. "So where are we going?"
"The closest, largest empty space," Rei replied.
"Juuban Park?" Akira asked as he pulled into traffic.
"Maybe, but there's too many people there, even in March," Rei shook her head.
"If you're looking for big and empty, how about the Tokyo Dome?" Minako suggested, only half-seriously. "Baseball season doesn't start for another month."
A very aggressive smile crossed Rei's mouth. "Let's try it."
"Seriously?" gasped Minako. She looked at the intense expression on the priest's face. Leaning back in her seat, she sighed. "Well, I always did want to play a stadium."
Traffic was predictably thick for late afternoon in Tokyo. It took Akira longer than his passengers were comfortable with to get to the Tokyo Dome. Once there, Akira and Rei disembarked from the car. Minako stayed inside long enough to change into Sailor Venus, then emerged.
"You're not transforming?" she asked Rei.
"I can do more in this form," Rei replied. "Akira-Sensei, please begin purifying the area." Akira nodded, produced a talisman and began the ritual.
"So he's here for something besides being your chauffeur?" Venus jabbed. Rei scowled at her. "Are we doing this in the parking lot? It's big enough."
"I'd rather do it in the stadium," Rei answered. "We have a better chance of containing it inside. I imagine the gates are locked, though."
"One Crescent Beam lock-pick, coming up," Venus nodded.
As Venus walked up to the stadium gate and Akira continued his purification ritual, Rei brought an object out of the sleeve of her robe. Cupping it in her hand, she looked at it. It was the wedding ring Ogami-Sensei had worn up until the moment she had died. It had been among the personal effects entrusted to Rei after Sakura Ogami had been cremated. Without concentrating, Rei could feel Ogami-Sensei's aura radiate from the ring. Closing her hand around the ring, Rei headed for the gate.
"Crescent Beam!" Venus said, projecting her crescent beam at the padlock holding the chain around the gates together. The lock exploded and Venus pushed the gate open. The party of three walked into the stadium and up the ramp to the stands. There they were met by a private security guard.
"You can't come in . . ." he began, then gaped. "A-Are you really Sailor Venus?"
"Yes," Venus answered with a commanding tone. "These two are with me. We're on official Sailor business."
"I see!" the guard replied, nodding deferentially. "Is there going to be trouble?"
"Probably," Venus told him, deadly serious. "I need you to keep anyone here as far away from the field as possible."
"Yes, Ma'am!" the guard bowed and ran off to execute the command. When he was gone, Venus turned and smirked at Rei.
"So how was that line delivery?" she asked Rei. "I was going for 'serious and in charge'."
"Nobody's ever questioned your acting ability, Venus," Rei replied with a conspiratorial smile.
Then she grew serious. Akira led them down an aisle to field level, through a gate, and out onto the field. The field was being groomed for the upcoming baseball season, but there were still faint white lines from the soccer match that had occurred two weeks prior. The procession went to the center of the field. Rei stopped and the others waited for her.
"This is where we'll start," Rei told them. "Akira-Sensei, I need you to set up a spiritual field around us that will keep any other demons or spirits from coming to Bachikasai's assistance. Hopefully your field will also disrupt Bachikasai's spiritual energy enough to let me affect it. Venus, I need you to try to bind it long enough for me to try to dispel it."
"You're not going to try to bind it to something?" Akira asked.
"There's nothing here to bind it to," Rei replied. "Besides, it's past time these angry spirits went to their rest. Otherwise, this is just going to keep happening. Now remember, Bachikasai is blind in its left eye. If it lunges, try to move to that side."
Directly in the center of the playing field, Rei brought her arms horizontal to the ground. They bent, bringing her hands together, the ring pressed between her palms. With her hands pressed vertically before her face, Rei closed her eyes and began softly chanting a prayer. The priest sank to her knees, a soft wind gently blowing her long black hair behind her. No one else felt the wind. Venus glanced at Akira and found the priest diligently shaking his talisman in all directions to ward off evil. Something in the air suddenly made her shiver.
"Boy, would I prefer Gamera to this," Venus mumbled, eying the roof of the dome suspiciously.
Seconds melted into minutes. Rei continued to chant. Akira continued to ward off spirits. Venus continued to watch for danger. Something caught her eye and she turned. Several stadium workers had gathered at the mouth to one of the tunnels underneath the stadium along the third base line. They were watching, pointing and talking amongst themselves. Venus began to wonder if this was just another failure in their effort to corral Bachikasai, and worse a public failure. Doubt made Venus feel anxious. She so hated to disappoint an audience. If only there was something more that she could do.
"Venus! There!" Rei exclaimed. Shaken from her reverie, Venus focused and found Bachikasai crouched and hissing not ten feet away from them.
"Venus, Love Me Chain!" Venus shouted, but immediately knew she had acted a second too late. The Chain shot out, only to have the titanic lizard lunge over it at her.
Years of battle instincts took over. Venus rolled forward, avoiding the lunge, then pushed off with her hands into a somersault, avoiding the slash of the lizard's tail. Regaining her feet, Venus surveyed the situation. Rei had avoided a slash of the tail by circling to the lizard's left, though she barely avoided its snapping jaws. Akira was giving ground to avoid the thrashing tail.
"Venus!" Venus yelled, drawing the monster's attention. "Love And Beauty Shock!"
Though Bachikasai saw it coming, it still couldn't avoid taking her Love And Beauty Shock attack directly in its midsection. The lizard bent awkwardly, then was shoved over onto its side and violently rolled several yards. Its feet flailing in the air, Bachikasai jerked violently, trying to right itself.
"Venus Love Me Chain!" rang out once more, followed by the golden heart-shaped links of the Love Me Chain. The golden tether whipped around its target with supernatural precision and constricted, pinning the limbs of the great lizard to its body and wrapping its malicious jaws shut. "You're on, Rei! Break a leg! Preferably his!"
Leaping the distance between Venus and the lizard, Rei landed on Bachikasai's neck just behind its head. The lizard tried to shake her off, but Rei refused to move. She produced a ward and slammed it down on the demonic lizard's forehead between the spiny ridges over its eyes. Bachikasai strained and wriggled like it was burning, but Rei braced her shoulder and kept the ward down.
Then the priest's expression went vacant. Venus and Akira both gasped and stared. Bachikasai no longer thrashed to escape the effects of the ward. It was as if both were oblivious to the world.
"Rei?" Venus verbally prodded, but got no response. "REI!"
At the Kodansha publishing offices, not much serious work was getting done. Given what was happening in the north, between the devastation brought on by the earthquake, the tsunami and the nuclear disaster at Fukushima and the growing public panic over the possibility of the entire island becoming contaminated and unlivable, putting out manga seemed insignificant. Osabu Baishaku tried to concentrate on the production schedule on his desk, but his attention would continually drift to the television in the outer offices and the continuing coverage of the triple disaster.
"You just have to keep telling yourself that you're performing a service in these times," he sighed. "People are going to need entertainment to take their minds off of things. By the time these stories are published, the public will be fed up with disaster coverage and need a distraction. Your personal feelings don't matter."
Just then the phone rang.
"Baishaku-San?" his personal assistant told him. "It's Usagi Chiba." Baishaku snatched up the phone.
"Chiba-San? I tried to call you earlier at home, but the person who answered said you weren't in," Baishaku said. "Where are you?"
"What are you doing THERE?" Baishaku sputtered.
"Helping," Usagi replied like it was a silly question. "I'm helping with the refugees in the temporary shelters they have here. Oh, everyone is so traumatized by what's happened, especially the children! They need so much right now!"
"Well that's very admirable," Baishaku responded, a little thrown off balance. "You have a very kind heart, Chiba-San. Um, but are you certain you can make your deadlines? We were planning on publishing Fire Princess Rika in the July issue of Nakayoshi."
"But," Usagi began timidly, "I don't know how long I'll be here. These people here are in terrible trouble! They've lost everything! They need help, now, and I can help them!"
"I sympathize, Chiba-San," Baishaku told her. "But you do have a contract - - an obligation to produce a set number of pages by a certain date." He waited for a response. "Chiba-San?"
In Soma, Mamoru looked up from checking the bandages on a man pulled from earthquake rubble several days ago. He noticed Usagi standing there several feet away, looking blankly into space. She held her cell phone in one hand. Concerned, Mamoru walked over to her.
"I was talking to my editor," Usagi said distantly. "For a little while anyway. Then the bars were gone again." Her lip began to tremble.
"Usako, what is it?" Mamoru prodded gently.
"Mamo-Chan," she said, struggling not to cry. "I think I'm fired."
Continued in Chapter 13