Chapter 8: It Awakens
A Sailor Moon fanfiction

by Bill K.

Saturday, March 12, 2011:

The sun emerged from the horizon to signal the start of another day. Sailor Moon shifted on the uncomfortable ground and snuggled against the warm body next to her. She cooed softly and mumbled "Mamo-Chan".

"Um," came the response from whom she was snuggled against. It wasn't Mamoru's voice. Her eyes opened in surprise. She found herself staring into the eyes of Sailor Mars.

"ACK!" Sailor Moon exclaimed, flushing beet red. She scooted back and sat up. Mars was similarly uncomfortable, though she only sat up. That was when they both heard the giggling.

"You two look like you've done that before," smirked Venus.

"Shut up, dirty mind!" fumed Mars.

"What are we doing out here anyway?" groaned Sailor Moon, still not the most coherent riser in the morning despite the shock that awakened her. "Are we camping?"

"Fukushima," Mars sighed.

"Oh yeah," Sailor Moon slumped.

Stiffly she pulled herself to her feet and wandered over to Mercury and Jupiter. Jupiter turned and gave her a wan smile. Mercury was focused on her computer. Glancing at the reactors, Sailor Moon could see the ice that covered them was still fairly intact, though it was melting rapidly.

"Hey, Sailor Moon," Jupiter said. "How are you feeling?"

"OK, I guess. But I'd rather wake up in my own bed." Sailor Moon glanced at the reactors again. "At least the ice hasn't all melted yet."

"Actually it did," Mercury told her. Her voice was flat, brittle and teetering on defeat. "I hit it with another blast about one this morning."

"Went out like a light, too," Jupiter added.

"I," Mercury confessed, "haven't been sleeping well this week."

Sailor Moon knelt down and hugged Mercury. Normally embarrassed by open displays of affection, Mercury this time clung to her friend. After a few moments, they broke.

"So is it fixed yet?" Sailor Moon asked.

"Hardly," Mercury reported. Mars had eased up to them, too, and was listening. "Plant workers have tried to get back into the building and reconnect the electrical systems so the pumps will function." Mercury shook her head. "The heat and radiation levels are just too high. Those poor men are risking their lives just going into that building. They can't stay too long, so the repairs are progressing very slowly."

"Maybe we . . ." Sailor Moon began. But Jupiter put her hand on the woman's shoulder.

"We wouldn't last an hour, Sailor Moon," Jupiter said. "And aside from Mercury, none of us would know what we'd be doing. We'd just be in the way."

"Actually, I know very little about the basics of electrical engineering," Mercury added. "I could learn, but right now I wouldn't be of any more use than the rest of you."

"Oh, I wish I could do something!" Sailor Moon railed. "I feel so helpless just watching this and not being able to help! That's what we're supposed to do! We're supposed to be able to help!" Her arms folded across her chest and she looked down pensively. "I don't - - we can't fail again. Not like we did in Miyako."

"The best thing we can do is stay out of their way," Mars advised, "and be ready to rescue people if the situation goes critical."

"Yeah, at least the ice is slowing down the place melting down," Jupiter added, "isn't it?"

They all glanced at Mercury.

"For the moment," Mercury replied. "But I don't know how long I can keep this up."

"Hey!" Venus called out cheerfully. She approached the group with foam food carriers. "I got us some food!"

When her news failed to elicit a reaction from the others, Venus slumped.

"Well don't everybody thank me at once," she sighed.

"There is still little official word from Fukushima as to the situation concerning the Daiichi Nuclear Plant," a newscaster read, his face projecting grave calm to the camera. "The government has confirmed that the plant went into automatic shutdown as a result of yesterday's earthquake. Three of the six reactors were already shut down for maintenance. There is no word as to what, if any, damage the plant sustained from yesterday's record tsunami. NHK is attempting to get news crews into the area and will give you the latest when we can."

Mamoru sat on the sofa, staring at the report. His brow was knit and his body language screamed out his tension and worry. From the countertop, Luna watched him. She sympathized with his mood. It was much like her own. Despite being in periodic contact with the senshi, the cat was concerned about not hearing more from them. Artemis had decided to limit contact with them in order to limit the possibility of their communications wave being discovered. It was the logical thing to do, but right now she didn't feel like being logical. She knew the situation they faced in Fukushima was dangerous, more dangerous than the rest of the country was aware of, based on the news reports they were hearing.

"I wish I could do something," Mamoru said. The news program was broadcasting surveillance footage of the tsunami taken from the airport in Sendai. Massive waves of water were sweeping cars and planes along the tarmac like they were bath toys. "I feel so helpless just watching this and not being able to do anything."

"As do I, Mamoru," Luna replied. "Just thinking about the potential danger Usagi and the others are in, not to mention the rest of the northern peninsula should those reactors go beyond critical is going to give me gray fur." She considered her next words. "But that is the life of a protector, whether it's a fire fighter, emergency response worker, or senshi: Facing danger to protect others. Usagi went there because, deep down, she knew she was needed."

"The myth of safe nuclear energy," Mamoru muttered. "They'd better hope I never run this country . . ."

The door bell sounded. Mamoru glanced curiously at Luna and got the same response. He walked up to the door and opened it.

"Forgive me for intruding," the man said, bowing respectfully. He was heavy-set, with thinning hair and thick black frame glasses. His manner was quiet, reserved - - not quite timid, but not at all assertive. After a moment, Mamoru recognized him as Hayami Fujihara, the man Ami was seeing. After another moment, Hayami got a similar burst of recognition. "You're the doctor Ami works with, aren't you?"

"Yes," Mamoru smiled. "Fujihara, isn't it? So I'm guessing you didn't come here to see me."

"No. Forgive me, Sensei," Hayami said, polite to a fault. "I actually was looking for Ami. I haven't been able to reach her at her apartment, and I knew she was good friends with Chiba-San," and suddenly his eyes bulged. "Oh my, is Chiba-San your wife?"

"She is," Mamoru nodded.

"Oh," Hayami said softly. He thought a moment. "You must lead an interesting life."

"It has its moments," Mamoru agreed. "I'm sorry, Ami isn't here. Neither is Usagi."

"Oh dear," Hayami responded with disappointment.

"Was it critical that you contact her?"

"Well," Hayami began, nervously adjusting his glasses. "It's just - - well, you've noticed how depressed Ami has been since her father passed, haven't you?" Mamoru nodded. "I just - - I mean, I understand that she might want to be alone, to grieve in private. But, given how alone she's been for years now - - and with the terrible news that's coming out of the north - - maybe I'm being presumptuous - - but . . ."

"You're worried about her," Mamoru concluded. Hayami agreed reluctantly. "I don't blame you. I've been worried about her, too. So has Usagi. Ami took her father's death very hard. She hasn't been her usual self all week."

"You wouldn't happen to know where she is, would you?" Hayami asked innocently. In the background, Luna tensed. As far as they knew, Ami hadn't told Hayami about her double life. She could sense Mamoru searching for an answer and suddenly wished Artemis was there. To his dubious credit, Artemis seemed fairly good at concocting cover stories on the fly. It was a skill she was certain he'd picked up from Minako.

"She's in good hands," Mamoru told him. "She's with my wife. Usagi and Ami and several of their friends decided to take a weekend trip - - to try to lift Ami's spirits."

"Oh. That's good. If anyone can lift Ami's spirits, it's Chiba-San," Hayami nodded. "Do you know where they went?"

"Driving," Mamoru said quickly. "South. Maybe to Yokohama. Maybe further."

"Well thank you for your help," Hayami said and bowed again.

"It's all right," Mamoru smiled. "And I'm glad Ami has finally found someone to take care of her."

"Me? I," he began uncomfortably. Then he thought about it for a moment. "Yes," he nodded, happy with the notion. "Yes, I guess that is accurate." He bowed again and headed down the hall.

"Well, you certainly set his mind at ease," Luna commented as Mamoru closed the door.

"Uh huh," Mamoru exhaled. "I wish someone would set my mind at ease."

"Sub-Zero Caress!" Mercury shouted.

Immediately ice began reforming on and around the reactor structures. In under a minute, all three reactors were encased in ice. As before, Mercury swooned backwards and as before Jupiter caught her and eased her to the ground. Sailor Moon crouched to one side of her, while Venus knelt on the other side.

"Here, drink this," Venus said, offering Mercury a paper cup with a lid. Mercury took it with shaking hands, cradled the cup in both hands, and sipped from the lid. "Hey, you don't look so good."

"It's my third max attack in less than twenty-four hours," wheezed Mercury. "I must admit I'm feeling quite dizzy."

"The ice doesn't seem as strong, either," Mars observed. "How long do you think you can keep this up?"

"Safely?" Mercury asked, then stared at the lid on her cup. "I'm not certain." She wheezed out a breath. "There must be more steam in the core chamber than I anticipated; another incorrect assessment on my part. And if the steam doesn't condense into water, the rods aren't cooled, which only produces more heat and superheats the gasses in the chamber . . ."

"And round and round it goes," Venus concluded. "Anybody got a better idea? Until they can get those pumps back on line, that is?"

"Hey, maybe I can use my lightning to power the pumps," Jupiter offered. Mercury shook her head.

"The pumps are fueled by gasoline or kerosene," Mercury informed her. "And even if they were electrically powered, they would require alternating current. Your lightning is direct current, Jupiter. Direct current would only short the pump's wiring out and make them completely useless."

The sound of a helicopter caught everyone's attention. The senshi watched it land on the perimeter of the evacuation zone. Out stepped a man in a black suit, followed by two assistants and what looked like an NHK camera crew. Immediately everyone felt Mars' temperature rise.

"What the Hell is HE doing here?" spat Mars. She had recognized the man in the black suit as Dietman Shinjiro Hino, her father.

"Ya takes your photo ops where they come," chuckled Venus.

"Maybe he's here to help," offered Sailor Moon.

"Then he can go back to Tokyo," Mars growled. "That'll help."

The senshi watched Hino do a quick few minutes with the camera crew. As they scurried off to get more information on the situation, the senshi noticed Hino get into an animated conversation with one of the people with the Tokyo Electric Power crew. Though the man wore a hard hat and a TEPCO vest, his suit told them he was an executive, probably the manager of the plant.

Then the NHK crew spotted them.

"Sailor Moon!" the reporter said as he ran up to her and shoved a microphone in her face. "What is the status of the nuclear plant? Is it damaged?"

"Please," Sailor Moon replied, trying to fend them off with her hands. "This is a dangerous place to be in. You really should be further back."

"What kind of danger is it?" the reporter asked, undaunted. "Did TEPCO call you in?"

"Please, it's not safe here!" Sailor Moon reiterated. "You shouldn't be this close!"

"Is there a danger to the public?" the reporter persisted. Then another face swooped in and met him nose to nose.

"She said BACK UP!" Jupiter said in a manner only she could produce. The reporter silently assessed the situation and gave ground. Jupiter glared at him the entire way.

"I wish you wouldn't do that," Sailor Moon grimaced.

"I didn't hit him," Jupiter replied.

Then the ground around the nuclear plant shook. At first everyone thought the area was experiencing an aftershock. Several aftershocks had occurred in the area since the 9.0 quake the previous afternoon. Everyone looked around nervously.

"Hey, that was from the nuclear plant!" Jupiter exclaimed.

A phone rang on a golf course in Tokyo. A man, in his early fifties, muttered to himself and halted his back swing. The three men playing with him chuckled to themselves as the man fumbled for his phone in the pocket of his slacks. He was a wiry man, fit and trim, with black hair beginning to gray, a distinguished face beginning to line and knees that were beginning to object to the stress his golf game put on them. The man was a high ranking executive with Tokyo Electric Power. He was affluent because he'd towed the line, been loyal to the executives before him and worked his way up to the position he held. It was the Japanese corporate way and it had served him well.

"I'm on the course," he said with controlled temper.

"I'm sorry, Sir," the voice on the other end of the cell phone connection said. "But I needed to advise you of the situation here."

"Who is this?" he demanded.

"Kontetsu, Sir," came the answer. "I'm in Fukushima."

"How are you even connected? I thought all of the cellular towers were out because of the earthquake and the tsunami."

"We have a transmission satellite in the truck, Sir. We're communicating with corporate that way so they know what's going on. But I thought you would want to know, too."

The man sighed and waved to his party to play through. "What's the situation?"

"Three of the reactors are damaged," came the response. "The cooling system is off-line and nobody can get close enough to repair the pumps. We've been sending in crews to work a little at a time, but the process has become extremely slow."

"Is there an imminent danger of a core meltdown?" the executive asked.

"Yes," was the response. "The Sailor Senshi are here and they've managed to slow the meltdown, but they can't stop it. We've just had an explosion in Reactor Number One, probably a hydrogen reaction. And Sir - - the press is here."

"Keep this under wraps, Kontetsu!" barked the executive. "We do not need this kind of publicity! Make sure that Public Relations is brought into it so they can put a good spin on this. Minimize the danger. Emphasize that we're acting on the side of caution and that there is no imminent danger to the public. The last thing we need is a public panic over this. Nuclear energy will be dead in the water."

"Yes, Sir," Kontetsu said.

"Has the government taken any action yet?"

"There's a Dietman here. He came in with the press."

"Who is it?"

"Hino, Sir."

"Hino," mumbled the executive. "I wonder what he's after?"

Before Kontetsu could reply, the executive suddenly was struck by a terrific weight from his blind side. The impact sent his cell phone flying and carried him past the tee box and into the fringe on the left side. His golfing partners turned to the sound and then froze in their tracks. Eyes bulged and mouths opened. It wasn't possible. The three men just stared in shock at what seemed to be a gigantic hulking lizard straddling the prone form of their fourth. It was only when it turned its massive head at them that they turned and ran from the golf course in a blind panic.

The executive struggled to regain his senses. The impact had knocked the wind out of him. Struggling to rise, he saw the thick grass of the fringe, then turned and saw his golfing partners running away. Something was over him. It was large, but he only sensed it. Feeling a need to get away, he began trying to crawl forward.

"You released it!" came a great hiss, like a buzz saw ripping through a log. "You ignored our warning and released the fire of the man-made sun!"

Hot breath hit his skin and made it crawl. The executive turned toward the great cutting hiss and looked. He looked right into the angry face of Bachikasai. Terror like nothing he had ever known gripped him. He saw the great foreleg of the gigantic lizard raise up, the talons on its four toes like sharpened pikes. Adrenaline surged through his body and he lunged forward, only to be felled by the first slash.

The gods took pity on him and allowed him to die before Bachikasai flailed his body into little pieces.

Continued in Chapter 9