Chapter 9: Blood Stained Hands
A Sailor Moon fanfiction

by Bill K.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The ground shook and for a moment everyone around the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant thought it was an aftershock from the horrific earthquake of the previous day. Naturally their fear responses escalated. Would the aftershock be as devastating as the earthquake itself? Would it cause another tsunami? How much more disaster could they withstand?

"Hey, that was from the nuclear plant!" Sailor Jupiter shouted. Instantly Mercury consulted her computer. Her visor came down and she stared at the containment chamber of Reactor Number One.

"It's a hydrogen reaction!" Mercury exclaimed. "There's too much steam built up in the containment chamber! The hydrogen in the water vapor is engaging in a chemical reaction with other elements and heightening the volatility of the chamber!"

"Is it going to explode!" shrieked Sailor Moon.

"If you're thinking in terms of the Hiroshima blast, no," Mercury replied. She studied the readouts on her visor. "The worst those chemical reactions can do is possibly crack the containment chamber and release radioactive steam into the atmosphere."

"That's still not good," Dietman Shinjiro Hino said. The senshi looked up and found Hino standing within conversation distance of them all. Behind him was a representative of Tokyo Electric Power, nervously trying to herd the resistant Dietman away. Mars glared, but Hino ignored her. "A radioactive steam cloud could adversely affect the surrounding environment, couldn't it?"

"Correct. But that isn't our biggest concern at the moment," Mercury told them. "While I detect damage to the inner walls of the containment chamber, the outer walls are intact. But that much buildup of steam means the core is superheating beyond our current ability to cool it. There is an imminent danger of the core melting through the containment chamber into the ground. That will contaminate the area for centuries, possibly contaminate the entire city of Fukushima."

"That's an alarmist viewpoint, speculating on a purely worst case scenario!" the TEPCO representative interjected. "I assure you, Dietman, that we have this situation under control!"

"The only thing that's kept this situation under control is Mercury quick freezing those buildings!" Jupiter snapped. "Your equipment failed!"

"We are in the process of bringing the cooling system back on line," the representative shot back. "Safeguards have been put into place to handle emergencies such as these and those safeguards are handling them."

"That isn't what my scans are showing," Mercury argued. "Your repair crews can't get close enough long enough to repair the coolant pumps before that core goes critical. There isn't enough time to do it the safe way. Unless your crews decide to stay until the repairs are done, which would be suicidal, that core will melt down."

"Dietman, these people are just grandstanding . . ."

"Can you delay the process with a larger coating of ice?" Hino asked Mercury, ignoring the TEPCO executive. Agonized emotion swept over the senshi.

"No," she shook her head, on the verge of tears. "What I've already done has taken all the energy I can muster. I-I don't have anything left!" Mercury turned away with embarrassment. "I'm sorry."

"Silver Moon Crystal Power Kiss," Sailor Moon said.

Everybody turned to her. She had the Moon Tier out and was projecting silver energy toward Mercury. Instantly Mercury grew visibly refreshed and renewed. Her emotions calmed. Her shoulders straightened. She took a deep, invigorating breath. The effect faded and Sailor Moon lowered the Moon Tier.

"Do you think you can try now?" Sailor Moon asked.

Mercury smiled at her, a warm grateful smile that indicated Sailor Moon had not only restored Mercury's vigor and replenished Mercury's reserves, but she had touched Mercury on a deeper level, on a level where Mercury had been damaged and in despair. Sailor Moon returned the grateful smile with one of her own. Mercury turned to the damaged reactor.

"Sub-Zero Caress!" she shouted. Instantly more ice formed over and around the reactor buildings. The ice formed thicker at the base of the plant, so the weight wouldn't apply further stress to already stressed structures. The temperature in the area seemed to plunge ten degrees. Mercury dropped her hands and exhaled. This truly was the last attempt she'd be able to make for a while.

"Thank you for your efforts," Dietman Hino told her.

"It's temporary," Mercury replied. "It will only buy us a few hours."

"It's a few hours we didn't have before. It may be the most critical few hours," Hino persisted. "You'll pardon me now. I have to advise Tokyo."

The senshi watched Hino head for the helicopter he came in on, the TEPCO rep sprinting to stay with him. Venus nudged Jupiter.

"Man, I bet he could charm a snake out of its skin," Venus smirked. Jupiter nodded. Mars just glared.

While Mamoru continued to sit in front of his television, watch news reports slowly coming in from the north of the island and worry about how his wife was faring, Luna was busy monitoring the telemetry Artemis was feeding her. Their sophisticated computers could tap into satellite photos, government emergency bands and both public and private databases. At the moment, Luna was monitoring a call between Dietman Hino and the Prime Minister's office. Though political foes, both Hino and the Prime Minister were working together in Japan's greatest moment of crisis since the end of World War II.

"Artemis?" she said over the real time feed she had with the little white cat. "There's a most interesting conversation going on between Dietman Hino and the Prime Minister, pertaining to the situation in Fukushima. Apparently Sailor Mercury has been able to retard the crisis with her ice attacks, but there is still a real danger of a core meltdown in at least one of the reactors."

Mamoru turned and looked her way, so apparently he'd heard her. There was nothing on the network news at the moment about that.

"I've got satellite photos of the Daiichi plant," Artemis told her. "I can see the ice. But I'm not liking the looks of these geothermal pictures. All three of those reactors are way too hot."

"Hino and the Prime Minister are debating whether to vent some of the radioactive steam from the reactor chamber," Luna reported. "Hino is arguing against it, but the Prime Minister seems quite determined. It sounds like a dangerous thing to do."

"Not as dangerous as letting steam build up to a point where it cracks that containment chamber," Artemis replied with some distaste.

"But Artemis, the senshi! They'll be exposed!"

"I'll get on the line and warn them to pull back," Artemis assured her. "I just hope they listen." He paused for a moment. "Luna, listen to this. It just came over the local police band. A man was attacked on a golf course and torn to pieces. Witnesses claim it was a giant lizard. Does that sound familiar?"

"I should say so!" Luna gasped. "It sounds remarkably like Ogami-Sensei's story from 1946. It's all Usagi talked about after she returned from the nursing home. Could it be the same monster as before?"

"Wakened by the nuclear disaster in Fukushima? That would be something to ask Rei," Artemis said. Quickly he worked to establish a communications link with the senshi.

When Dietman Hino got off the line with Tokyo, he scowled. Then he gestured for the TEPCO liaison. The man quickly came over.

"I just got off the line with the Prime Minister," Hino said. "He is of the opinion that you need get that reactor core cooled as soon as possible."

"We are doing everything we can!" the liaison argued. "I've been in contact with my company and we are preparing to vent some of the steam. I know you have concerns about this, but the wind direction will take the steam out to sea where it will have absolute minimal impact on Fukushima's environmental health and safety. If you'll just let us continue with our efforts . . ."

"Frankly neither the Prime Minister nor I think that's enough," Hino interjected. "The Prime Minister is terrified of that reactor being breeched and radioactivity flooding across Fukushima and into the Pacific. And, to be honest, he does have a point. His thinking, and at this stage I'm inclined to agree with him, is to cool the core by flooding the reactor chamber with sea water."

"SEA WATER?" gasped the liaison. "They can't! The salt brine will destroy all of the electronics! It will erode the metal! The reactor will be destroyed - - useless! That's a multi-billion yen investment . . .!"

"And what makes you people think we're ever going to let you fire that thing up again?" Hino asked him point blank. "For years all we heard from you was how safe nuclear energy was. And now this happens. We've got the worst nuclear disaster on our hands since Chernobyl. Did you think you were just going to go in there with a mop and some paint and it was going to be business as usual?"

"This was not a normal circumstance, Dietman," the liaison argued. "Japan just went through a 9.0 earthquake and the largest tsunami this island has experienced in over a hundred years. You can't plan for that! There's no way anyone could know . . .!"

"But you did know," they both heard Sailor Mars say. Each man turned to the senshi with the long raven hair and the penetrating violet eyes. She was staring directly at the liaison in a manner that Dietman Hino was too familiar with.

"W-What?" sputtered the liaison in shock.

"Your company never planned for anything," Mars continued, oblivious to his reactions. "You didn't want to go to the expense of upgrading and safeguarding the backup power sources for the coolant system. You made no plans in case the backup power sources failed. The only thing important to your company was profiting from the reactor's presence. And you knew the plant wasn't built to withstand a large tsunami."

"That's wild, unsubstantiated speculation!" the liaison barked anxiously. "You have no basis in fact to make those charges! And if you repeat them . . .!"

"Perhaps you should be more concerned at the moment with getting that reactor core cooled," Hino said. And he'd said it in a way that conveyed he expected to be obeyed. The liaison started to argue, but took Hino's power and influence into consideration and backed down.

"We're restoring power to the vents now," he told Hino. "The evacuation area should probably be pulled back past twenty kilometers."

"I'll see that it's done," Hino nodded.

The liaison stormed off, followed by the NHK news crew, who had been filming at a distance. Mars looked after him, but turned back to her father when she felt his hand on her arm.

"Did you actually 'see' that in him?" Hino asked her. "Did you use that strange power you have to read people and determine what they're thinking?"

"I did," Mars replied, then grew suspicious. "Why?"

"Because when I get back to Tokyo, I intend to push for a committee to investigate this situation and whether TEPCO was negligent," Hino said. "That information will be very critical to any investigation."

"And what do you get out of it?" Mars asked bluntly.

"Rei," Hino sighed, rubbing his temple, "just once could we conduct a civil conversation?"

"How exactly does this benefit your climb to the top?" Mars persisted. "I'm sure that's why you're here."

"Are you? And why are you here?" Hino shot back. "You and the other senshi? Because you need the publicity to boost your licensing marketability? Or is it because you want to help your fellow Japanese? Well so do I, as difficult as that is for you to believe! This is a situation that needs action! It needs someone who can get things done! I'm that person, so that's why I'm here, just as Sailor Moon and the rest of you are here: because you can get things done in a crisis!"

"And then you take the lead in the investigation and expose not only the culpability of TEPCO in this, but of the current government, too," Mars added cynically. "Then you maneuver new elections and run as Japan's great savior. You forget that power I have to read people and determine what they're thinking extends to you, too. Plus I know enough about you to know that the face you show the public is never your true face."

Hino frowned at his daughter. "It's too bad you didn't grow up to be more like your mother," he said. "Rei, before you start throwing accusations, be certain that what you claim to be seeing is what's actually there and not just what you want to see." Then he turned and headed for the Emergency Response Team mobile headquarters.

"How does he always manage to do it?" Mars fumed as she stalked back to the others. "How does he always manage to make me feel like I'm five years old?"

When she reached the group, Sailor Moon met her first. Mars could barely see the concern on her friend's face through the red haze of anger. Sailor Moon looked at her sympathetically.

"Did you have another fight with your father?" she asked.

"Does the sun come up in the east?" muttered Mars. "We're going to be moving back soon. According to my father, TEPCO is getting ready to vent some of that steam into the atmosphere."

"Isn't that dangerous?" Sailor Moon asked anxiously.

"We're sitting on a ticking time bomb now," Mars replied wearily. "How much worse could that make it?"

"Got it, Artemis. Thanks for the update," they heard Venus say. She was approaching the others. Mercury was monitoring the reactor while Jupiter looked over her shoulder. "Whoever said 'when it rains, you can't pour salt' didn't know the half of it."

"That doesn't even make sense," Jupiter mumbled to Mercury.

"That was Artemis," Venus continued undaunted. "There's trouble brewing back in Tokyo. Looks like this little accident may have freed that Bachi-What's his name that Ogami-Sensei told us about."

"Is he sure? What happened?" gasped Mars.

"Guy was attacked on a golf course in Tokyo," Venus explained. "Witnesses describe the attacker as a giant lizard that ripped this poor guy to bite-size pieces. And get this: The victim has been identified as a senior executive with Tokyo Electric Power."

"It fits," Mars said distantly. "Bachikasai must have burst the wards binding him to the tree on the shrine grounds." She looked directly at Sailor Moon. "We've got to go. We've got to stop him."

"But what about this?" Jupiter countered, gesturing at the Fukushima Daiichi reactors. "This place is about to go critical, according to Mercury. We can't just cut and run!"

"There's nothing more we can do here," Mars argued. "Those reactors are beyond our powers, just like the tsunami was. We can stop Bachikasai. And we have to, because that demon isn't going to be satisfied with just one life. TEPCO brought this situation about by their negligence and dedication to profit over safety and he can sense that. And he's going to exact his revenge on everyone he feels is responsible. And THEN he'll probably turn his rage on any American currently living in Japan." Suddenly she pulled up, hit by a sudden thought. "Derek."

Everyone turned to Sailor Moon. Immediately it was obvious that Sailor Moon was torn between both arguments.

"Maybe we should split up," Venus suggested, stepping into the void Sailor Moon's indecision had left. Everyone turned to her. "Mars and I aren't doing squat here. You're not going to need either of us to keep a lid on this place. How about we catch a ride back to Tokyo and sit on this Bachikasai and you guys - - well, try not to get blown up. Sound like a plan?"

"Will you be all right on your own?" Sailor Moon asked.

"Hey, Ogami-Sensei beat this thing with two apprentices and a few civilians," Venus assured her. "Mars may not be in her league as a priest, but she's got me along. That evens the odds." Sailor Moon still looked doubtful. "If we need help, we'll get Artemis to buzz you. Don't worry, Sailor Moon. You three have the tough job here."

"It makes sense, Sailor Moon, as strange as that sounds coming from Venus," Mars added. "In Tokyo, we can do some good. Here we're just standing around."

"OK," Sailor Moon nodded reluctantly. "But please be careful."

"I think we're the ones who should be saying that to you three," Mars replied. She grasped Sailor Moon's hands and squeezed them tightly. Then she and Venus headed for the Emergency Response Team truck.

"Oh, I wish I could just wave the Moon Tier and make this whole thing right," Sailor Moon whimpered.

"It would make things a lot simpler, hon'," Jupiter sympathized.

"We need to start moving people back," Mercury declared, standing up. Her visor was still up and her computer was in her hands. "I don't like the readings I'm getting at all."

Continued in Chapter 10