Episode Eleven

Taking a Stand

Life was stressful. That was a fact. Raye lay in her bed, moments before her alarm clock would go off, staring at the ceiling of her bedroom. There was that dream again. The man in the tuxedo pursued her nightly. While it was an incredible relief to know that she was not dreaming about Tuxedo Mask, it was still upsetting to be having dreams like that about a complete stranger. They were so intimate—words of affection and devotion followed by a kiss.

The man in the tuxedo—well, he wasn't a complete stranger anymore. The man in her dreams was Tuxedo Samurai. Both of them dressed in tuxedoes and bore the Moon Kingdom symbol upon their foreheads. But who was he really? Raye sighed as she lay there. Whoever he was, he was willing to help. It was possible that twice now he had saved her life—at least once for sure. Images of dark fiery flames flashed in her mind's eye. The last time she fought against Draco, his flames nearly engulfed her. But Tuxedo Samurai held onto her so tightly, protecting her from Draco's flames. There was so much passion and concern in his eyes. How could someone she barely knew feel that way?

There was one time, when she was ruminating about these things, when a small spark ignited within her imagination. Ever since then, she did everything in her mental power to douse that flame, and yet, it still wound creep into her thoughts. She had been scared to death that the man in her dreams was Tuxedo Mask because she knew he was destined to be with Serena, but was something similar happening with Tuxedo Samurai? Did the fact that she saw him in her dreams mean something? Were they—she gulped at the thought—destined too? And that is where she shut that thought process down. Nothing in life was ever that easy.

Beep! Beep! Beep! Raye groaned and reached over to slam the off button on her alarm clock. She threw back the covers and rolled out of bed. The first thing she always did in the morning was head to the bathroom for a shower. She opened the sliding doorway to the deck and stepped outside into the cool morning air. Late autumn and cool temperatures were fast approaching. She wrapped her arms around herself for a moment to keep warm as she stared off towards the morning sunrise.

Although she tried to kill them off, her thoughts when back to sensitive places. What if all meant something? What if they were destined? She sighed at the thought. The way he looked at her—even through that mask—she could feel intensity and emotion radiating off him, and it was all for her. And as much as she would hate to admit it, she felt drawn to him. Not just because of the affection he showed her, it was much deeper than that. It was as if her heart knew something her mind didn't—as if she had those feelings all along but just had forgotten the details.

"Um, hello, Princess?"

Raye snapped out of her thoughts. "Huh?"

Akira stood a few meters away from her on the ground. He had been waving his hand repeatedly to get her attention. He let it rest at his side once he had her attention. "Tired, are we?" He asked.

No, that wasn't it. Instead of coming up with some lie, she only smiled. "Sorry, what do you need?"

He smirked. "Nothing,"

"Then what are you bothering me for? Can't you see I was doing something really important?" Her smile grew wider as she said that, knowing that would elicit a reaction.

He turned, trying to see what she was looking at. She expected a smug response, but he didn't provide it. "Well, I have to admit the sunrise is particularly beautiful today."

"Yeah, I'm surprised you're not up on the roof viewing it."

"That's actually not a bad idea," He said. "But, I have a lot to get done before school this morning."

"Like what?"

"Mina and I have to meet up before school."

"Why?" Raye immediately crossed her arms over her chest. Why did she feel sick all the sudden?

Akira didn't seem to notice her posture change. "Ah, we have a project due in health class. We've got to give an—oh so exciting—presentation on the gallbladder today." He sighed. "It's one of those mandatory classes we all have to take. I got stuck with it first semester and so did Mina. It might not be so bad if the teacher wasn't such a drone."

Raye nodded a bit impatiently. She needed to step away for a moment. For some reason, she just felt sick to her stomach. After he seemed to be finished talking, she excused herself to continue with her morning routine. He bid her a good morning then left to take care of his own things. After he was gone, the tension eased. What was wrong with her?

They were working in the laboratory. Advanced Chemistry usually was very thrilling for her. It was a chance to put theories and hypothesis into action. Today, she studied the thermal decomposition of calcium carbonate. She properly prepared the experiment and began recording the results on her personal clipboard when she was finished. She worked alone today since there were an odd number of students in the class. The instructor trusted her to work alone, which truly was a compliment, but she sighed at the thought.

Often she was told that she would make an outstanding scientist. And perhaps she could agree with those comments to a certain extent, but for her, something was missing—the human element. She didn't always like working and being alone. As much as she loved studying and learning, she didn't want to feed her mind at the expense of her heart and soul—perhaps that's why becoming a doctor suited her really well. She couldn't help but smile at that thought.

As the clipboard came down, she got a look at the purple haired boy across the room. He looked utterly bored, but still, continued to do his work at his laboratory station. She watched as the bored look on his face turned to irritable when his lab partner was apparently writing down the wrong information. Ami shook her head. It wasn't kind to treat people who struggled academically so poorly.

Just as much as she was displeased with him at the moment, she was displeased with herself. Why did she find herself so drawn to someone like that? What was wrong with her? They had so many classes together and in every one of them, she found herself staring at him. So often, he seemed sullen and angry, but something told her that there was more to it than that. She wanted to know. Curiosity was perhaps one of the more negative aspects of her intellect at times.

She glanced back to her work once he started coming her way. Soon she heard muttered profanity and unkind words as he walked by to the supply closet.

"…what a stupid idiot…" He mumbled, almost incoherently.

Ami looked up towards Orion's table. She had known his partner since middle school, and knew the boy wasn't idiot. She couldn't help herself. She threw down the clipboard and turned towards Orion. She put down the clip board a little more forcefully than she realized because everyone started staring.

It caught Orion's attention too. He looked at her, holding a boiling tube in each hand. "What?" He said in his usual rude response.

"It is very disrespectful and unkind of you to be speaking that way about your classmates." She said with her head held high.

A pin could be dropped in the room, and everyone would hear it. They all looked on wide-eyed as Ami stood before Orion, challenging him. After she said it, her chest seemed to be heaving a bit—as if it was difficult for her to breathe.

His irritation morphed into something new. Most of the time, his irritation was a passive and detached emotion—as if he was an outside observer who didn't like the channel he was watching at the moment. But something shifted in that moment. Emotion got in the way. "What does it matter to you?"

Ami glanced over at Orion's partner. The expression on the boy's face looked as if he was screaming, "I'm not worth it! Don't do it!" But that was exactly why Ami had to do it. He was a human being and worth something. She looked back over at Orion and her brow furrowed in frustration. "Takahashi-san is my classmate. It matters to me if you begin unnecessarily insulting him."

"That's all noble of you," He said, trying to rationalize his behavior. "But you're not the one who has to redo the experiment again because some moron can't…"

"That's enough!" Ami snapped.

The entire class gasped.

Her heart pounded in her chest. Her circulating blood roared through her ears as her head throbbed with an almost instant headache. She tried to calm her breath but it was to no avail.

Orion stood dumbfounded for a moment. He then composed himself. "I simply don't understand why you're getting upset, it's really…

"I'm not upset!" She snapped. The class shuttered again.

Orion laughed. For someone who was usually cold and aloof, this laugh was rich and vibrant. Perhaps at any other time but this moment, it would be wonderful to hear. Instead, it only made Ami more incensed. He couldn't help but laugh more as her nose wrinkled up even more.

"I fail to see how any of this is humorous!" She rattled off. Now she was shaking. The bemused smirk on his face only made her want to slap him. She was that angry. Finally, the rage came pouring out. The dam had broken. "Nakamura-san, you are nothing but an arrogant, rude, uncompassionate, condescending…conceited…bad-mannered…" It became difficult for her to think of more insults.

He looked unfazed by all this. "Are you finished now?"

"No!" She failed her arms. "I just can't…I…" She couldn't find her words.

"Well," He said, causally. "That was a start."

"What?" She said. Was this all a game to him?

He sighed gently, pondering for a moment. He glanced away, wistful. "It is a good thing to express emotion. There is a sort of truth to it."

How dare he lecture her about emotions! She stood there trembling with anger but the only thing she could do was cry. A small stream of tears leaked from the corners of her eyes.

"What is going on here?" The Sensei walked back into the classroom and immediately noticed the tense atmosphere.

Highly unlike herself, Ami hastily walked out of the class, keeping her face shielded with her shaggy blue hair. She left without a word, not even asking permission from the Sensei.

"Where is she going?" The Sensei looked flabbergasted that Ami broke the rules.

Orion turned his attention to the Sensei. "Mizuno-san is feeling ill. That is why she left in such a hurry."

"Oh, I see," The Sensei's face relaxed greatly. "Should I go and check on her."

Orion shook his head causally. "No, Sensei, that will not be necessary. She just needs a moment to herself, I think."

The Sensei nodded but the entire class still looked wide-eyed. They dared not challenge Orion's story so they quietly went back to work.

Meanwhile, Ami ran. She ran to the only safe place she knew. She ran down many flights of stairs towards the basement of the school. At the last series of steps before the basement, Ami sat down in a secluded stairwell and cried. She pulled her knees up to her chest and just cried. Her face went into her hands—too ashamed to look at the world. She didn't know what to think or feel.

How was it possible? How could someone like him cause such an emotional reaction? How could someone like him make her feel so much? She thought about what she just did—she had an emotional outburst in class. And it was his fault! He made her feel different, oh so different. Different was scary.

He skipped the last class. He just wasn't in the mood. Orion sat on the roof of the school while writing in his little notebook. He was supposed to be studying—well, studying about the Moon Prince, that is. He wasn't doing a very good job of that either. He might scratch down a word or two, but then his mind would wander to events earlier that day. Over and over again, he couldn't help replaying Mizuno-san's words in his head. She was so angry that she was shaking. From what he could gather, she was not the kind of person to do something like that.

Goodness, she fascinated him.

He flipped back to one of the earlier pages in the small notebook. Clipped into the book with a paper clip, Ami's picture sat between the pages. He stared at it for a few moments. He had stolen it from the office and kept it tucked away in his little book. In this little book, he kept all his plans, ideas, and impressions that he gathered about the hunt for the Moon Prince. Ever since he saw Mizuno-san, he could not get her out of his mind. It took a few weeks, but he was able to realize her identity.

Orion was an expert at reading people's auras and emotions. Whether that was a part of his abilities being born with the power of Starskill or if it was because of the long time he had to study the human race, Orion was able to sense things that bypassed ordinary people. Now he knew why this girl could not leave his thoughts—she was Sailor Mercury. That's why his feelings were going haywire. Well, now that he had the answer, why did the feelings still linger?

The school bell rang. Today was the today. He was going to follow the Sailors after school. Perhaps they would lead him somewhere interesting. Perhaps they would say something that could bring enlightenment to his quest. Perhaps he would even find the Moon Prince. He closed his eyes for a bring moment. He disappeared.

He reappeared on the school grounds. He lingered in the shadows of the school building as students poured outside. He studied their schedules for the past two weeks. On Fridays, all of them left the school building immediately after school. This day appeared to be no different as the four friends exited the school. He moved into the crowd and kept a safe distance away from them.

"Oh, that was so delicious!" Serena held both hands over her stomach as the group walked out on the Crown Fruit Parlor. Serena had wiped out two cheese burgers, a mini pizza, and a larger order of French fries with a cola as well.

Mina looked at her friend in wonder. "Where do you put it all? I don't understand."

"Or how do you not weigh a thousand kilos?" Raye added. "If I ate like that…"

"I've been studying about black holes in science class." Lita smirked.

"We can call her Sailor Black Hole," Raye snickered.

"And I know what hole you can shut, Raye!"

They walked for a moment in silence before Ami spoke up. "I actually have a theory about Serena's appetite. I haven't had much time to test it, but it's an interesting project for another day I suppose."

"And what theory is that?" Lita asked.

"Why am I being discussed like I'm some science project?" Serena frowned, folding her arms over her chest.

Ami continued. "I believe some of Serena's powers as Sailor Moon actually increase her metabolism, creating the need for her body to constantly replenish."

"What?" Serena looked confused.

"Your powers make you hungry, donut brain!" Raye snapped.

"It's a curse!" Serena exclaimed. "You know," She paused for a moment. "Donuts sound really good right now."

The others sighed.

It was then that they heard a scream.

"Forget the donuts! We've got trouble!" Mina said.

It was only a matter of minutes until the five girls found a safe place to transform into their alternative identities and rushed to the scene of the crime. The pink haired girl was back! Lyra, with a crystal in her hand, stood over a helpless and passed out boy lying on the ground. He was young and handsome, but he was not the Moon Prince.

Lyra sighed. "What a shame. You were so cute. I thought for sure…" She said to the body at her feet.

"Get away from that boy!" Sailor Moon stood with her hands on her hips.

Lyra turned around to see five Sailors beginning to surround her. They were in an isolated parking lot with surprisingly few cars at the moment. The Sailors weaved in between the cars to get closer to her. "I'm done now. We can all go home. See you later!"

"Not so fast!" Sailor Jupiter said, moving into an attack pose.

"That's right!" Sailor Mars added.

"You have to pay for your crimes!" Sailor Venus said.

"As Soldiers of love and justice, we cannot let you get away with such atrocities!" Sailor Mercury spoke up.

"In the name of the Moon, we will punish you!" Sailor Moon finished the speech.

Lyra blinked. "That was really lame, you guys."

The Sailors blinked.

"What do you mean—lame?" Sailor Moon looked offended.

"Oh," Lyra shrugged her shoulders and batted her long eyelashes. "You don't need to worry about it. You'll be dead soon anyway!"

Sailor Jupiter charged forward. That was something not to say to a hot-tempered Sailor soldier. The two started exchanging attacks.

Lyra, while still not to be trifled with, was not as skilled as a combatant as Draco. Her abilities lay in other places. She found herself a bit at a disadvantage when battling it out with Sailor Jupiter, someone known for her hand-to-hand combat skills. It wasn't long until Lyra took a blow to the face. Blood trickled out of her nose and down her face. She left back out of the fray and reached up towards her nose.

She started to pout. "You'll get blood on my new outfit, you terrible Sailors!"

Mars raised an eyebrow. "I think that's the least of your worries."

High up atop of the building next to the parking lot, Orion stood on the roof watching the scene below. He didn't know that Lyra had planned to attack today. He had followed the Sailor Scouts all afternoon, and when they heard the scream of an innocent, he followed them into battle. He watched from afar as they transformed and confronted Lyra.

"So how long have you been standing there, just watching?" A voice asked.

Orion spun around. It wasn't often that something or someone could sneak up on him. Draco stood behind him. His face instantly hardened. "You've been following me!"

"Yes," Draco said. "I don't trust you, and I never will!"

"I have my ways and you have yours." Orion turned his attention back to the scene below.

"You're nothing but a coward!" Draco spat. "You should be fighting like the rest of us!"

"Now is not the time to fight!"

"Queen Beryl wants us to find the Moon Prince, and you're doing nothing!" Draco said. "You look like nothing but a traitor!"

"It's really none of your damn business how I choose to serve!" Orion snapped.

Draco charged at Orion. It was so sudden that not even Orion's special abilities could help him much in that moment. Draco's fist flew into his face, and he fell backwards. Instead of falling down on the roof of the building, he tumbled over the edge. He fell down about six meters to the ground and landed on the hard pavement of the parking lot close to Lyra.

"Oh my!" She gasped.

Everyone looked up. A red haired figure stood looking over the edge of the building. Quickly, Draco disappeared, and he reappeared right next to Lyra.

Slowly and painfully, Orion picked himself up off the ground. His left arm and cheek were scrapped up and bloodied. The glasses he used as a disguise at the school were cracked and twisted. Once the Sailors got a good look at him, they gasped.

"Orion?" Sailor Mercury said, barely above a whisper, to herself. What was going on? Why was Orion Nakamura here at this time?

"Now is the time to fight!" Draco said. "You're either with us or against us!"

Orion held his bleeding arm. He exchanged a furious look with Draco before looking over at the Sailors. He saw the stunned look on their faces. His eyes couldn't help but drift towards the one in blue—Sailor Mercury. She looked so speechless and oddly, even hurt.

"So what's it gonna be?!" Draco demanded.

Orion slowly reached up. He pulled the broken and twisted glasses off his face and let them fall to the ground. They fell at his feet. He took a step forward and crushed the glasses under his left foot. Then his right hand flew open. A blue light appeared in the palm of his hand. It stretched out long and thin until it took the shape of a silver sword. He gave the sword a few swings and twirls, demonstrating his skill, before he moved into an attack position.

Sailor Mars was the first to attack. For the others, they still were experiencing the shock of learning the true identity of one of their classmates. Mars, however, didn't know him so she was the first one to strike. She fired a golden arrow in his direction.

With one swipe of the sword, however, he deflected the arrow with his sword. This wasn't going to be easy. The Sailors stood before three Generals of the Negaverse—Draco of Starfire, Lyra of Starbeauty, and Orion of Starskill. The two groups stared each other down for a moment, and then they charged at one another. A storm of magical attacks and energy filled the air. Water from Mercury clashed with Draco's dark fire. Jupiter's lightning attacks surged through the air towards Lyra, but the pink-haired girl was able to dodge the attack. Lyra wasn't able to dodge the kick from Sailor Venus though.

Draco and Orion were better fighters though. Draco was fierce, wild, and strong while Orion's finesse and skill proved to be too much for the Sailors. Soon, the Sailors had a collection of wounds, scrapes, and blows all over their bodies. The two groups split up to regroup for a moment.

Lyra looked up for a moment. "Woah, who's that?"

Everyone looked up to the building above.

"Tuxedo Mask!" Sailor Moon beamed.

"He's gorgeous!" Lyra squealed.

"Hey!" Sailor Moon snapped. "Back off!"

"What is he doing here?" Draco asked, annoyed.

Tuxedo Mask cleared his throat. "I will always be there when injustice rears its ugly head. I will fight for freedom and love in this unjust world."

"Lame!" Lyra exclaimed.

"What?" Tuxedo Mask looked stunned. He looked away. "I worked on that line for weeks!" He said to himself, bitterly.

"Why don't you worry about this, pretty boy?" Draco said, sending a fireball towards the masked man.

Tuxedo Mask had to leap off the building in order to dodge the attack. Soon, he landed on the ground next to the Sailors. He wasn't happy about being attacked. He held up his cane, ready to strike. Draco opened his palm to form the fiery axes. The two charged at each other and entered into a duel. The fray started again immediately after as fights broke out between the Sailors and the other two Generals.

The cane was no match for the axe. One of Draco's fiery axes melted right through Tuxedo Mask's cane, and came slicing down across Tuxedo Mask's chest. Luckily, Tuxedo Mask managed to pull back enough so that the axe only slashed through his shirt.

Lyra got a little too distracted by the sight of sight of Tuxedo Mask's bare chest and abs that she didn't notice the swift kick to the face that was coming her way. Sailor Moon grinned triumphantly as she sent Lyra flying across the parking lot. That's what that pink-haired hussy would get for staring down her boyfriend.

Mercury dreaded this moment—the moment where their eyes met. Orion and Sailor Mercury locked eyes in the parking lot in the middle of the battle. They had to fight each other. He raised his sword into a defensive position while she held out her hands, ready to call upon one of her water attacks. Neither of them moved to attack.

A fireball came her way. Sailor Mercury tried to leap out of the way, but the fireball was too fast. It slammed into her shoulder and sent her flat on her back to the pavement. She hit her head hard, and it swirled instantly into one big headache.

Lyra picked herself up off the ground. She managed to notice what the others didn't—another cute guy. "This day keeps getting better and better!" She exclaimed, ironically happily.

That caught the attention of the others. Another Tuxedo warrior stood off in the distance. He approached the fight while drawing the katana from his side.

Draco's face instant morphed from playful to agitated. If there was anyone who could challenge him…No! He was a master warrior! He could defeat anyone or anything!

"Hmmm," Lyra pondered as she rejoined her comrades. "It's an age old question," She said thoughtfully.

"What is that?" Orion asked, seeing the gears actually turning in Lyra's head.

"Blonde," She motioned to Tuxedo Samurai. "or dark?" She then pointed to Tuxedo Mask. "Blonde and beautiful or tall, dark, and handsome?"

Orion only closed his eyes and groaned to himself.

"What do we do?" Lyra asked, her realization of the situation becoming a bit more aware.

"We'll have to retreat for now," Orion said.

"No!" Draco hissed. "I want a piece of this guy!"

"Draco, no," Lyra said. "I saw that nasty cut that guy gave you!"

"Yeah, and I'm not going to let him get away with it!" Draco charged forward with his flaming axes towards the Tuxedoed warrior.

Orion quickly latched onto Lyra's arm. "We're getting out of here!" He forced them to teleport away from the area. They were gone in seconds.

Axes clashed against the katana. The two were instantly absorbed in a duel while the others looked on helplessly. When it came to skill with a weapon, Draco was hopelessly outclassed. The General of Starfire always relied on his strength and frenzy to overwhelm an opponent, but it was not working with this guy. Tuxedo Samurai was just too skilled with a blade. Soon, Draco's arm received a slash, causing the magical axe to disappear.

Draco leapt back and immediately grabbed ahold of the wound across his arm. It was bleeding a steady stream of red blood. Before he disappeared, he gave one last raging look in Tuxedo Samurai's direction.

The Generals were gone. Everyone instantly breathed a sigh of relief. Tuxedo Samurai stood up straight from his attack pose and sheathed his sword.

It was quiet for a while until Sailor Mars broke the silence. "There are three of them now?"

Venus sighed. "It seems so."

"Who was that guy?" Mars asked.

Mercury closed her eyes. Why did she feel sick? "He was one of our classmates."

"What?" Mars asked, looking over at Mercury.

Sailor Jupiter looked over at Sailor Mercury, noting the girl's countenance. She answered for her friend, instead. "He was masquerading as a student at our school, but now we know what he really is—a Negaverse General."

"We thought he was our friend," Sailor Venus said bitterly. "But now he's our enemy."

"Do you think his name was really Orion? Or was that all a lie?" Sailor Moon asked, saddened also. Nobody knew the answer to that.

Seeing that the battle was over, Tuxedo Samurai began to quietly walk away.

"Where do you think you're going?" Tuxedo Mask crossed his arms over his chest.

The other tuxedoed man turned towards Tuxedo Mask. He didn't say anything, but it was clear by the look on his face that he was puzzled.

"How do we know if you're friend or foe either?"

"Darien!" Sailor Moon hissed. "He saved Sailor Mars' life! And mine! He's helped us! Many times!"

"But we still don't know who he is!" Tuxedo Mask said. "How do we know that he won't turn on us in the future as well?"

"I mean none of you any harm," Tuxedo Samurai spoke up.

"What is your purpose then?" Tuxedo Mask still wasn't satisfied. "And why do you keep dodging questions?"

Sailor Mars stepped forward, putting herself in front of Tuxedo Samurai like a shield of sorts. "Darien, please, I know things seem really confusing and strange, but we can trust him."

"How do you know that?"

She glanced back at Tuxedo Samurai for a moment. "I just…do…"

The masked man gave her a faint smile before he stepped forward. He reached out for a brief moment gently taking one of the hands that rested at Sailor Mars' side. He gave her hand a gentle squeeze then continued to walk away past everyone.

Once he was gone, it was safe to transform back into civilian attire. They all did so. Darien still looked sullen and grumpy though.

"So," Mina broke the tension. "Is Tuxedo Samurai your boyfriend, Raye?"

"What?" Raye flushed about five shades of red in an instant. "No…I mean, I don't even know who he is or anything. I just think…I just think we can trust him. He wants to help us."

Mina laughed at the reaction she elicited. "I'm just messing around! Geeze, Raye!"

"Let's get out of here before the police show up," Serena said, wisely. "Maybe we can get a donut or something?"

Raye rolled her eyes. "You're still thinking about donuts?"

"Always," Serena took ahold of her boyfriend's hand and led the group away from the parking lot. "I know a great new café."

"Yeah, that sounds good. Let's go," Lita looked over at her quiet blue-haired friend and locked arms with the girl. Ami welcomed the friendly embrace and walked away with her friends.