Chapter 7: The Second Wave
A Sailor Moon fanfiction

by Bill K.

Friday, March 11, 2011

As the survivors of Miyako began to return from the evacuation points, they were greeted with a most disheartening sight. Much of the town was in rubble or simply gone. What the earthquake hadn't destroyed, the tsunami and flooding had. All that was left of homes and businesses were broken wood and masonry littering lots and streets, empty foundations, broken furnishings and twisted belongings. Cars blocked an intersection and were piled up four deep. A fishing boat lay on its side in a street. A sickening layer of mud seemed to coat things. The tsunami wall was gone.

Everything was gone.

And near where the wharf had once been, five figures stood. When the survivors got closer, they could see the tunics and skirts and recognized the figures as the legendary Sailor Senshi. What wasn't familiar, though, was the pall of defeat that shrouded them all.

"I can't believe we couldn't turn it," Venus said, staring out at the ocean as if the tsunami had been an illusion.

"I can't believe how tall that wave was," Jupiter added. "You only see things like that in the movies."

Mars looked up from her silent remorse and turned to the approaching survivors.

"The town's people are back," she said to the group. Everybody looked except Mercury. She sat silently on the remains of a wall, her head down and her body cradling her computer.

"What's left of them," Venus noted. "They look as stunned as I feel."

"They just had their lives washed away," Jupiter remarked hollowly. "And they're the lucky ones. They didn't ACTUALLY get washed away. So many times we were so close . . ."

Sailor Moon moved forward silently. She had reverted to Sailor Moon from her Princess Serenity form as she wept for the victims they couldn't save. Now, the tears barely dry on her face, she moved to meet the approaching survivors of the disaster. Jupiter reached out, trying to snag her hand.

"Hon'?" Jupiter ventured. Sailor Moon ignored her.

The survivors stopped when they realized Sailor Moon was approaching them. They stood and watched her. Some were sad. Others were bitter and angry. Most of the survivors just seemed to stare in shock, emotionless and vacant. Sailor Moon closed the gap between them until she was a few feet from the survivors in front.

Then she sank to her knees before them, in the mud and seaweed, bent forward and pressed her head to the ground.

"I'm sorry," she sobbed. "We tried to stop it. We tried as hard as we could. But it was too big. We couldn't stop it. I'm so sorry."

No one in the crowd reacted for a moment. They just stood and stared at the vaunted Sailor Moon, the savior of Japan, prostrate and penitent before them. Then a man stepped out from between two other survivors. He was an older man, in his fifties, and was probably the manager of one of the fisheries. He stood a step from the rest, and bowed to Sailor Moon.

"Thank you for your efforts on our behalf," he said. His voice was sad, the weight of the tragedy crushing each syllable. But his voice was sincere. Jupiter smiled. Venus nodded respectfully. A tear trickled down Mars' face. Sailor Moon rose up to her feet, paused for a moment because she couldn't articulate her feelings, then lunged for the man and caught him in a crushing hug. Buoyed by the display, some of the other survivors began to fan out and see what could be salvaged and who was left to bury.

Jupiter looked away. It was painful to watch. Looking into the faces of the survivors and the emotions they felt, the fear for missing loved ones and the grief for loved ones known to be gone, she couldn't help but think about her own loved ones. How would she feel if it were Sanjuro, Akiko and Ichiro being swept helplessly out to sea? Her eyes came to rest on Mercury, still sitting blankly on the remains of a structure.

"Makes you think how lucky we've been, huh?" Jupiter suggested as she eased up next to her friend. "Before, we've always averted disasters - - or gotten through them with everyone safe."

Mercury didn't respond.

"Yeah, that doesn't mean very much now," Jupiter sighed.

"It isn't that," Mercury said in a soft voice. "We didn't have sufficient power to create enough force to counter the force of the tsunami. It's a simple calculation. I knew it was a long shot. But I tried anyway because Serenity was there and she's been known to defy logic." Mercury drew a strained breath. "I - - it's just - - well, I look out at all the devastation, and all the lives lost and all of the grieving people left behind," and she turned to Jupiter, "and all I can think of is Dad. I tried to bury myself in work. I tried to do my duty as a senshi. And I still miss him so much! And seeing all of this only me miss HIM more!" She looked away. "It seems so selfish."

"I'm not going to knock you for it, Hon'," Jupiter told her. "Personal grief is always stronger than grief for strangers. As bad as I feel for these people, it still doesn't hurt as bad as my parents dying. And that happened over twenty years ago. It doesn't make you selfish."

"Thank you, Jupiter," Mercury whimpered.

As Sailor Moon got back to her feet, Sailor Mars walked over to her.

"You've got mud all over your forehead," Mars clucked, wiping the mud off with the side of her glove.

"I really thought we could do it," Sailor Moon mumbled. She allowed Mars to wipe her forehead without protest. She seemed stunned to Mars.

"Will of the gods, Sailor Moon," Mars counseled. "There are some things humans can't fight. When the gods are angry, they're not going to be stopped. All we can do as humans is accept it and pick up the pieces."

"It shouldn't be that way," Sailor Moon argued softly. "None of those poor people did anything to anyone."

"You don't know that," Mars said. Sailor Moon looked at her askance. "Every human has done something to somebody. Even you and I. Whether it's worthy of a judgment of death in most cases, you and I might say no. But we're not gods and we don't see what gods see. And they may have reasons that we can't see." She put her hand on Sailor Moon's shoulder. "And accepting that might make it easier to accept what happened here. You don't have to like it. But you're going to have to accept that we failed today - - though it wasn't for lack of trying."

Sailor Moon didn't reply. She didn't have to. Mars could read that she didn't accept what Mars had told her, not deep down. It wasn't surprising.

"Reports out of Honshu indicate a devastating tsunami has hit the northeastern coast of Japan with waves of up to fifteen meters high," the news reporter announced with professional gravity. "We have unconfirmed reports that the airport at Sendai has been flooded. The entire region is without power, due to the automatic shutdown of the Fukushima Nuclear Plant and damage to power lines and generating stations from the earthquake. No government estimates of the death toll have as yet been issued. We are currently awaiting a statement from Prime Minister . . ."

"Oh, Artemis, it's too horrible to comprehend," Luna said as she watched the televised news reports. "Have you gotten any communication from the senshi at all?"

"Nothing," Artemis told her. "Between the loss of communication towers in the north and the infernal short range of the Senshi Communicators, I can't get through."

"Mamoru called here earlier, frantic about where Usagi might be. He's certain she went to the northeast, to try to help against that tsunami, and I quite concur." A thought gripped the black cat. "Artemis, the wave hit the coastline. That means they failed to stop it! You don't think they were hurt or-or worse?"

"I don't know, Luna," the white cat replied. "Their trackers put them in Miyako, but that only tells me where they are." Scowling, Artemis began typing on his computer. "I'm going to try it."

"Try what?"

"Ami and I have been theorizing a way to boost the range of the Senshi Communicators," Artemis explained. "By bouncing the signal off of a telecommunications satellite, I can expand the range dramatically. We were always reluctant to try it because the signal might be picked up and traced back to us. But with all of the chaos right now, I don't think anyone will be watching very closely."

Luna watched her partner through their real time feed as he worked to establish a connection. As he worked, she noticed him glance at the corner of his computer screen. The expression on his face didn't fill her with much comfort. Then the alert flashed on the bottom of her screen.

"Artemis," she whispered.

"I see it," he said. "Nothing like your disasters coming in threes, huh?" Suddenly excitement shot through his body. "It worked! I'm connecting with Mercury's computer!" He shifted his gaze to another part of the computer screen. "Mercury? Can you tell us what's happening?" As he spoke, he connected Luna's computer so she could see and hear, too.

"It's Artemis," Mercury told the others in Miyako. Immediately Venus shoved into view. Mercury didn't protest. It didn't look like she was in the talking mood anyway.

"Hey, Buddy!" Venus said. Artemis could see she was trying to maintain a brave front. "Not much to tell: We came. We saw. We got our butts handed to us." She swallowed. "I never saw anything like it, and I hope I never see anything like it ever again."

"Bad?" Artemis asked.

"You know how a wave comes up and washes a sand castle away?" Venus told him. "Well, Miyako was the sand castle."

"You did all you could, Venus," Artemis offered.

"Tell that to the bodies floating in the Pacific."

"Well, it's gotten worse," he said. "Put Mercury back on."

Anxiously Venus glanced to Mercury. Mercury leaned in, her own demeanor fearful and fragile.

"My computer intercepted a transmission to the Japanese government from Tokyo Electric Power," Artemis began. "Reactor One at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is in a Nuclear Emergency Situation."

"What's that mean?" Mars asked. She and Jupiter had joined Venus looking over Mercury's shoulder.

"Did they say what the problem was?" Mercury asked. Not waiting for an answer, her fingers began furiously typing on her computer. Instantly satellite photos of the Fukushima plant popped up, complete with sensor array and telemetry. Her breath caught. "The coolant system has failed!"

"There's a backup, isn't there?" Mars asked.

"The backup has failed, too."

"And that means what?" Venus prodded her fearfully.

"The fuel rods will super-heat and melt through the containment chamber," Mercury replied distantly. "The ground around the plant will become contaminated. Probably the water supply, too. There may even be a nuclear explosion."

"Like Hiroshima and Nagasaki?" Jupiter asked.

"That's not likely. But it could be a bigger catastrophe than Chernobyl," Mercury answered.

A hand extended into the group. The four senshi looked up and found Sailor Moon standing there, her hand extended to them.

"Then we need to go," she said. Truly she was the spirit of hope.

"And do what?" Venus countered. "I don't know anything about nuclear reactors! And the five of us couldn't contain a tsunami. What are we going to do against a nuclear meltdown?"

"Help," Sailor Moon countered.

"We'd probably only be in the way," Mars shook her head. "Our powers can't go up against that."

"We have to try," Sailor Moon argued.

"We can't wish this away, Sailor Moon, any more than we could that wave," Jupiter told her. "We have to know our limits. This is something we can't handle."

"We'll think of something," Sailor Moon pleaded. She knelt down and faced Mercury. "You can think of something, Mercury. I know you can."

"I don't know," moaned Mercury. "It's so hard to think clearly anymore. It's all so much!"

"But we have to try!" Sailor Moon exclaimed. She rose up and faced her friends. "Even if our being there helps save one life that would have been lost, then we have to do it! Right now in Fukushima, hundreds of emergency workers are racing to that area, and they stand even less of a chance than we do. But they're going! If we give up and turn our backs, then this disaster will be even worse! Nothing good can come from our giving up! Please!"

There was a moment's silence. Sailor Moon looked at them, her eyes tearing, believing in her heart that they wouldn't turn their backs on her. Finally Mars reached out and took her hand.

"Gods, I hate it when you cry!" Mars scowled. Sailor Moon grinned through her forming tears.

"I'm in," Venus said with renewed vigor. "Sounds like a challenge."

"Akiko would never forgive me if I ever said no to you," Jupiter responded. They looked to Mercury. Finally she rose from the pile of rubble she had been sitting on.

"Nothing good will come of this," Mercury stated. Venus patted her shoulder.

"Hey, if nothing else, we'll get to see Fukushima in the spring time," Venus quipped. "Whatever THAT'S worth."

Sailor Moon turned and addressed the survivors working nearby. "I'm sorry! We have to leave! There's trouble in Fukushima!"

"Worse than this?" one of the survivors asked.

Sailor Moon nodded timidly. "It could mean the entire north could be unlivable."

The man looked down. After a moment he nodded. The senshi joined hands and engaged Sailor Teleport.

They materialized in the midst of chaos. Fukushima had been badly damaged by both the earthquake and the tsunami. The area near the plant was swarming with police and emergency response personnel. After they materialized, a police officer ran up to them.

"You're Sailor Moon, aren't you?" the officer asked. Sailor Moon nodded. "Is there anything you can do? Make that reactor go away?"

"Nothing that drastic," she replied.

"Then you'd probably be better off evacuating with everybody else," he told her. "The entire area is being evacuated for twenty kilometers."

"Is there someone connected with the plant that we can talk to?" Venus interjected. "Maybe if we know exactly what's wrong . . ."

"I can already tell," Mercury interrupted. She was focused on her computer. "The pipes bringing in water to cool the rods have been ruptured. Furthermore, the electrical systems to the pumps were fueled by electricity generated by the plant itself. That's off-line and the backup generators have failed, probably due to a breach in the sea walls from either the earthquake or the tsunami." Mercury frowned. "And the cores in Reactors Two and Three are beginning to super-heat as well!"

"Can we fix the pipes and the generators?" Sailor Moon asked.

"Not without radiation suits!" Mercury gasped. "The containment chambers are breeched and the fuel rods are throwing off lethal radiation doses! If we attempted to go inside that plant without suits, we'd burn to death! I'm not even certain suits would ensure our safety!"

"But if the alternative is everyone in Fukushima dies," Sailor Moon began.

"Hold that thought, Hon'," Jupiter interrupted. "Your powers are ice based, Mercury. Isn't there some way you could get some ice or water or something into that chamber from here? Enough to cool that stuff so it doesn't melt through the floor?"

Mercury thought about it for a few moments. Everyone watched her tensely, which did nothing to alleviate the pressure she was already feeling. Reaching a decision, she closed her computer and pointed her hands at the reactors.

"Sub-Zero Caress!" Mercury called out. Instantly the temperature in the area dived forty degrees. For a moment nothing happened. Then ice began to form on the three reactor buildings. Within minutes, the three buildings were buried in solid ice from the top point of each containment building to the ground around them.

Mercury's eyes rolled up in her head and she fell backwards. Jupiter quickly caught her and eased her to the ground. Everybody crowded around her.

"Mercury, are you all right?" squealed Sailor Moon.

"Her 'max attack' usually takes a lot out of her," Venus nodded. "Question is, is that going to do the job?"

"Super-cool the buildings," panted Mercury. "Condense steam inside of - - chamber back into water - - cool rods." She shook her head. "Temporary solution."

"How temporary?" the police officer asked. Everyone looked at the reactors. There were already signs that the ice cover was beginning to melt. "Maybe you better do that again."

Mercury only shook her head. "One time shot," she gasped.

The police officer got a sickened look. Then he got on his radio and told his captain that the evacuation needed to be stepped up.

Continued in Chapter 8