* Chapter 1 – Help Us Princess Saturn!
The morning sun is shining brightly among scattered feather-like clouds. Hotaru Tomoe has already settled on her seat about 20 minutes ago before the morning bell rang. She's staring out into the corridor waiting for the arrival of their teacher who rarely comes late to class. It is expected of course, because she's in the top section after-all; the punctuality expected of the students is also expected from their teacher. It has been four extremely peaceful years since the battle with Galaxia; and Hotaru is now the owner of the seat previously occupied by the genius, Ami Mizuno, in Juuban High. Proof of which is the engraved sign of Mercury on the corner of the arm rest. She's most probably the only one in her class to make the said connection, and somehow, that graffiti made her smile. Even the most brilliant, honest and kind-hearted student she has ever known has committed some act of vandalism, she thought. She's becoming bored; no one even bothers her or greets her due to her reputation as the class weirdo. On her right and left are vacant seats because her classmates avoid her. Oh how she misses wandering off to crystal Tokyo again to visit her best friend; that is, if the keeper of time allows it. Her contemplation was cut short due to the arrival of their teacher with two very good looking guys of her age wearing their school uniform. She looked at the guys from head to foot, and then raised an eyebrow as if questioning their presence.
"Everyone, we have two new students today. They were allowed in your section because they perfected the entrance exams. So I don't want anyone complaining how new students can become your classmates, understood?" Their adviser announced.
"Yes ma'am" Everyone answered.
"This is Akoumi Taiki" Their teacher said while pointing to the blue haired and taller guy. He raised his arm as a greeting and sat on Hotaru's right.
"And this is Mikouko Yaten" She continued while pointing at the blonde haired and smaller guy. He also raised his arm and sat on Hotaru's left.
Then the teacher started droning on and on about differential equation techniques...
Hotaru stared at the guy who sat on her right with unbelieving eyes; he noticed her staring so he looked at her as if acknowledging then lightly bowed his head in respect whispering, "Princess Saturn".
She then looked at the guy on his left, who also bowed his head, to show respect when her gaze fell on him and greeted her also.
A few hours passed and they sat quietly until the lunch bell rang. Hotaru stood up, gathered her things and proceeded to her isolated place on the school grounds. No one ever joined her for lunch, but somehow she knew that the two newcomers would follow her without her telling them so; and they did. She sat beneath a tree facing the approaching guys. Both of them stopped about two meters from her and bowed, then stood in a dignified manner before speaking.
"Princess, we would like to request aid and assistance" Akoumi said, sounding like an ambassador from one country to another.
Hotaru watched them, and then rolled her eyes. These two had always been so formal, she thought, very unlike Chibiusa. Maybe because, she reasoned, being royalties in two different planet monarchies will definitely demand such protocol from them. If they only knew how crazy their parents were when they were in high school, her mind teased so a slight smile lit her face… "Drop it" She replied, sounding a bit unnerved.
The two looked stunned and confused, so she continued. "The curtsy, the 'princess', the formalities, the language…" They still stood like sentinels in front of her. "I mean come on! If you continue like this, everyone would wonder where you two really came from. Then you'd put at risk exposing your true identities. You don't want the wrath of Pluto do you?" She grinned.
"I guess not…" Mikouko replied then sat beside Hotaru. Akoumi followed when he saw that she was okay with Mikouko sitting beside her.
"So what was the aid and assistance about?" Hotaru inquired while opening her lunch box that Michiru prepared for her. She noticed that the two have take-out bentos instead of a packed lunch.
"We're dying, all of us; Lady Chibiusa, Lady Yuri, Lady Yuko, my little sister Aiko, and even Little Lady Mizuko." Mikouko answered while glancing at Akoumi looking for confirmation of what he said.
Hotaru stopped eating upon hearing his answer, eyes wide with shock. "D…Dying?" She stuttered. "From a disease? But I thought you're all eternal! I know Ryu isn't, but he's the only one correct?" She continued without giving them time to answer her first question.
"Ceasing to exist… That would be a more appropriate description of what's happening to us." Akoumi corrected Mikouko after Hotaru's litany.
Understanding then dawned on Hotaru. Of course, they wouldn't be here if trouble is not here… She then noticed Akoumi's and Mikouko's presence flicker a little. One wouldn't actually notice if their eyes were not trained enough. She shuddered; the senshis are in big trouble…
"Our enemy is here, now. They retreated in our time because they can't even lay a single finger on any of the princesses. With them mastering their senshi powers already and the strong defense provided by our ally, Kinmouku, they're no match. So they travelled here, to this time, where Earth and Kinmouku are not yet allies and where the senshis are not yet used to their eternal powers" explained Akoumi.
"The enemy can be considered extremely fast and strong for the senshis of this time. So Sailor Pluto sent us here to rescue our parents lest we really cease to exist. Lady Chibiusa, Lady Yuki and Lady Yuko will be following us here shortly." Mikouko continued, picking up from Akoumi's explanation.
"Chibiusa would be coming here?" Hotaru asked. The two nodded. "So why are you here already? Shouldn't you be escorting her?" She inquired further.
"We were sent earlier because the first attack happens today. This afternoon to be exact; we should prevent Princess Mercury from getting killed. Well, according to Sailor Pluto anyway. So we travelled a week earlier to this date so that we could know the routine of the senshis" Akoumi answered.
"We've been following each of them in turns for the whole week" Mikouko responded to Hotaru's raised eyebrows. "We were supposed to be the strongest because of the combined planet and star power coursing our veins. So they assumed the two of us can stop the assassination plot today."
Akoumi followed with, "We're not technically Lady Chibiusa's guardians, but since the next generation Sailor Mercury and Sailor Venus are both still very young, we acted on their behalf".
Hotaru sat contemplatively then said, "Neither of you followed me…"
"We didn't have to, they're scared of you. Even if they do target you, I bet you'd be the last on their list" countered Mikouko.
"What do they want and who are they anyway?" Hotaru inquired further.
Both of them looked uneasy, as if being questioned with a spotlight on them and not having sufficient answer. "We have no idea… We never wondered because we defeated them easily, back on our time. We didn't know they'd still bug us by coming to this century" Mikouko admitted.
"So what exactly do you want me to do? You still haven't answered directly the aid and assistance portion of your speech a while ago…" Hotaru implored while stuffing her lunchbox away.
Akoumi and Mikouko looked at each other briefly before Akoumi started his request. "We would like you to come with us after class. She'd still die if we're even just a minute late without your healing powers. We know it also would put you in a much weakened state while being surrounded by youmas, but we can handle the monsters. We promise to protect you."
Hotaru tilted her head to the side as if thinking and then nodded slightly. "I trust you" she said pausing, and then continued with a light smile "You're using your earth names…"
"My, would you rather call us Orion and Polaris? We don't even have surnames to go with those" Mikouko smiled back. "I bet those names would be weirder and get the attention of everyone".
"And then Pluto would really have our heads…" said Akoumi catching on the issuing lightness of the conversation.
Hotaru grinned, she was happy that the two are starting to lighten up and act their age around her. She knows they're way older than that, but anyway, they look 16, so who cares? She's after all also 16, basing on how she looks and removing all the past lives she had lived and remembered. "I bet the senshis would know who you really are once they caught sight of Chibiusa…" she sustained.
"That is a risk; Sailor Pluto was willing to take. However, knowing too much of the future is dangerous, yes. But weighs very little compared to entirely not having one" Akoumi reasoned.
Just then, the bell signaling the end of the break rang.
Ami Mizuno is now on her second year of college, taking up medicine. She hasn't decided her field of major study yet, but she most probably would go with Pediatrics like her mom. Mom… She thought… All of them, the inner senshis, became orphans after the attack of Galaxia. The population greatly decreased; many people had died, and only those with star seeds guarded with planet or star power were reborn; the senshis and Mamoru to cut the story short. Ami is now living with Makoto Kino in an apartment complex located between the stretches of the road from her university to Makoto's culinary school. She's on her way home when she passed by a bakery and stopped outside of the entrance. Would she? Would she not? She's quite hungry and the scent of fresh bread teased her. Nahhh… She thought, shaking her head left and right slightly. Makoto would have something at home. She always does, because she always takes home everything that she cooks in their cooking laboratories. Besides, Makoto always prepare something for her, she thought further. With that on her mind, and a smile on her face, and a thankfulness in her heart for the existence of her friend, she continued on her way while rummaging on her bag for the keys to their apartment, she's a street crossing and a few more blocks away after all.
Suddenly, she felt herself flying through the air with unknown hands holding her shoulder and head. She didn't even feel the approach. She landed on the brick wall of the bakery and heard screams from around her, and she also heard something on her body crack. She tried hard to focus on the owner of the hands still tacking her to the wall before she lose consciousness, she knows she would; she could feel warm, thick blood on her neck dripping from her head. She saw the ugliest and scariest looking youma she had ever seen. It looked human albeit taller than most in height, but dried of all moisture and sporting black wings and bulging eyes. The creature was trying to crush her already cracked skull. There were two of them, the other one flying overhead probably surveying if there would be any intruders. Ami heard sets of feet approaching and two different voices shouting "Venus Love Me Chain!" and "Mercury Ice Bubbles!" then felt the monster's fingers holding her turn cold. Her body then slid downwards on the pavements. Afterwards, everything turned black.
Sailor Star Healer, one with short and blond hair, yanked the flying youma away from Ami with her Love Chain. Sailor Star Maker, one with short and blue hair, together with Sailor Saturn, hurried to Ami's body and they lifted it away from the battleground. Saturn stayed with Ami, kneeling beside her and placing her gloved hand above her, started the healing process.
Maker returned to the frozen youma, lifted his star brooch and yelled "Star Gentle Uterus!" Her attack was way more than effective; it pulverized the monster in a heap of smoke.
Healer on the other hand was still holding the other thrashing youma with her love chain. She held the end of the chain with her left hand, and with her right, she lifted her star brooch and yelled "Star Sensitive Inferno!" There was a loud bang coming from the monster, then its remains were scattered all-over the road before dematerializing.
Sailor Star Maker and Sailor Star Healer then approached Sailor Saturn after checking that the youmas wouldn't reform. She still has her gloved hand over Ami and the two Star Lights gazed on quietly. After a few more minutes, Sailor Saturn detransformed and then collapsed beside the still unconscious Ami.
Both Star Lights then detransformed and picked-up the girls; Akoumi carried Ami while Mikouko carried Hotaru.
"To where?" Mikouko asked Akoumi hurriedly.
"We can't go very far, we'd look suspicious carrying two unconscious girls while one of them is sporting a bloody outfit. Let's go to her house, it's just over there" Akoumi answered while pointing to the direction of Ami's apartment.
They hurried and reached the correct floor and went straight to the door of their intended unit. They didn't meet anyone on their way there. Maybe because everyone fled from their battle scene or maybe because most people don't really care anyway. Whatever the case is, they thanked their luck, they don't need the police poring over them… They knocked vigorously. After a while, they heard a woman answer from the inside "You forgot your keys? I'm busy; just wait a second will yah?"
Akoumi looked around, no one's there to overhear whatever he would say so he answered, "Princess Jupiter, please open up! Princess Mercury and Princess Saturn were hurt!"
They then heard the sound of scurrying footsteps and the door swung open to reveal a woman still with kitchen mittens on her hands. "Ami! Hotaru!" Makoto exclaimed upon seeing the unconscious girls that they were carrying bridal style. "Put them on the bed" she commanded while leading them to the first room. "Gosh! Ami, what happened to her? What's wrong with her? What did you do to her? Answer me!" Makoto was practically shouting at the two boys after they settled Ami and Hotaru side by side on the bed. She's feeling panicky due to all the blood on Ami's clothes.
"Th… Th… They're alright I g… guess… As long as… as Princess Saturn have completed the healing process be… before being drained and collapsing…" Stammered Mikouko pretty badly; with the glare they're receiving from Makoto, he half-expected to be toasted by lightning any minute now.
Akoumi looked over to Mikouko who was sweating profusely due to the sustained glare they're receiving from the senshi. If it wasn't his mother lying unconscious and very ghostly looking in front of him now, he would have laughed at the way the Princess of Jupiter was making Mikouko nervous. He decided to rescue him. "We didn't do anything to her, we saved her! If it weren't for us, she'd be dead. We came with Princess Saturn. A pair of youmas attacked her and slammed her against a wall cracking her skull and crushing her shoulder blade".
Makoto then bent down to check for Ami's and Hotaru's pulse, it was there. This, plus the steady rise and fall of their chest implying that they're breathing, calmed Makoto. She then placed her palm on Ami's cheek, whispering, "Please be okay… Please be okay…"
Makoto subsequently stood up slowly, and walked unhurriedly out of the bedroom and into the living room. The two boys followed her and settled on the sofa quietly.
The tension cannot be any thicker on the living room. The two boys know that they have to answer a multitude of questions now, but they also know that they cannot reveal so much; lest they actually cease to exist. Makoto stood up and went into the kitchen after a few minutes of silence. She returned shortly with two glasses of water and placed it in front of her guest.
"You're not leaving unless I tell you so" Makoto started.
She then flipped open her wrist watch, waited for something, then began talking to it. "Are you guys near the vicinity of our apartment? Good, get here quick. Ami was attacked viciously. Yes, she's okay now, thanks to Hotaru. And guys, we have visitors."
Akoumi and Mikouko then looked at each other and swallowed hard on the lump forming on their throats, we're dead, they thought. "Stay here", they heard Makoto order them. She went again to the kitchen but this time returned with a towel and steaming water on a container. She disappeared to the room where Ami and Hotaru were.
It took her a while before returning to the living room. By that time, the two boys were already praying that Setsuna rescue them from their predicament. Makoto sat across them and viewed them very carefully, taking in the littlest detail of their form.
She decided to break the silence, "I know those eyes…" She said it to Akoumi, while staring directly at his violet eyes. Yes she does, after all, she had nursed the same affection for the same guy/girl as Ami before deciding to let go. If her intuition's correct, she knew that her decision was right because of the very existence of the boy she's staring at. Makoto then turned to Mikouko and smiled. "And I know that face very well…" she remarked.
The guys didn't know how to respond to that although they did notice that her expression has softened. Luckily, they were saved by a rapt knock on the door. Makoto stood up and opened it. Usagi then dashed inside knowing exactly where Ami's room is.
"How is she?" She asked Makoto while walking hurriedly to the bedroom, not even noticing the two boys on the sofa.
She however, noticed Ami's bloody clothes on the laundry basket placed at the end of the hallway. "She's hurt that bad?" She questioned Makoto again.
"I don't know. She was healed by Hotaru already when she was brought here" Makoto answered. They went inside the room for a while before returning to the living room.
Out of reflex, or force of habit, or whatever you might call it, Akoumi and Mikouko suddenly stood straight then bowed so low when they saw Usagi approaching.
"I knew it!" Makoto exclaimed to a stunned Usagi, who was looking at the two guys with great incredulity on her eyes.
"Err… What on earth are you doing?" Usagi said.
The two turned to each other and sweatdropped. They then sank on the couch as quickly as they stood up, looking everywhere but to the two ladies in front of them. Loud knocks were then heard at the door. Makoto again stood up and opened it.
"How is she?" the two newcomers said in unison.
"She's still out, but she's fine I guess" Makoto answered letting them in while appreciating the clothes that the two were wearing. Rei was wearing a black mini-dress while Minako was wearing a cream colored silk dress. Well, she thought, Rei's a model and Minako's an actress, what did you expect?
"Usagi!" Rei squealed then ran to hug her best friend who hugged her back. Minako also hugged her then released her after noticing the unknown people on the room.
"And who are you?" she questioned the two sitting on the sofa.
"They're my classmates, Akoumi and Mikouko." Hotaru said from the door of the bedroom. She was now wearing a pair of pajamas which looked big for her. She got everyone's attention, so she continued, "In Juuban, we're in the same section". She walked towards them and sat beside Usagi on one of the sofas.
"Mi-kou-ko…?" Minako silently whispered to herself.
"Are you alright?" Usagi asked while placing her arm around Hotaru's shoulders.
"I'm fine" she answered.
"How's Ami?" Rei inquired.
"Still sleeping" replied Hotaru. "Don't worry, she'll be fine. She just needs some rest." She added.
Makoto was eyeing the two boys still then glanced at Hotaru. "If, they're merely classmates of yours, how come they bowed to Usagi when she approached?" Makoto asked her while raising an eyebrow to the two boys. "Plus, they called me Princess Jupiter while you were unconscious. They addressed you as Princess Saturn and Ami as Princess Mercury". This made the two shift on their seats uncontrollably while everyone's eyebrows were raised towards them.
Hotaru chuckled with Makoto's comment; this made everyone look at her with surprise. "I told you your language and formality will get you into trouble…" She directed this to the guys and continued to laugh. Hotaru then suddenly became serious after laughing contentedly. "It's not actually up to them to tell you guys who they are. It might have serious implications, so leave it at that. Let's just wait for Setsuna to tell us, shall we?"
The boys were amazed as to how a younger senshi can command so much respect from the elder ones. Even from the queen! They wondered, but were very grateful to Hotaru for saving them.
The relatively quite older senshis nodded but at the mention of Setsuna's name, understood anyway.
"They don't have to tell us anything. Come on, just look at them; you'd know who they are." Rei said after a while of gazing at the two boys.
"You saw that too, huh? I thought I was just imagining it." Makoto agreed.
"Saw what?" Usagi asked, confused. Everyone sweatdropped and rolled their eyes.
"Usagi, you'll never see anything unless someone points it out for you!" Rei said heatedly.
"Typical Usagi…" Makoto chuckled.
"You're mean…" Usagi whined but caught sight of Minako staring at Mikouko with teary eyes. "Mina, what's up?" she asked her.
"Are you blind?!" she said in exasperation to Usagi; then stated in a melodramatic voice, "I'm sooo happy; I finally get to have one!" She sniffed then wiped away a single tear.
"Minako, let me remind you, they're not pets!" repeated Rei.
Minako frowned. "I know that! He's too big to be a pet. If he was as small as Chibi-chibi, I might have considered it." She retorted.
The two boys laughed hard after these exchanges from the ladies. They even have tears on their eyes. Hotaru just rolled her eyes while the others gaze at them, stunned as to what was making them laugh so hard.
"Do you have any idea how all our lives; we've looked up to you people?" Mikouko started while still laughing continuously.
"To think, we even bow to their passing shadows!" Akoumi cried.
"Now you know they're just a bunch of crazy girls" Hotaru finished for them. The four girls then blushed and tried to sit properly to regain their lost self-esteem.
"Mako! Do we have something to eat? I'm very hungry…" Out came a still yawning Ami from her room. She stopped walking and stopped scratching her tummy when she saw that there were many people in the living room. Everyone saw her blush before Makoto jumped at her and hugged her tight.
"Ami!" Usagi, Rei and Minako shouted before gathering around their friend.
"Don't you ever do that to me again!" Makoto said to her confused best friend.
"What? What did I do? What are you all doing here?" Ami answered back looking really befuddled now.
"You scared me! I thought you're dead… (A pause) You mean, you don't remember?" Makoto asked.
Ami then raised her elbows to show that she hasn't an idea as to what they were talking about. Makoto then took her hand and led her to where her bloody clothes are, followed closely by the three others. "Oww…" Ami sighed, and then tears began falling from her eyes.
She began telling her story "I thought it was just a dream, Mako… A nightmare!" Makoto drew her close as she cried into the taller woman's chest. "I was so scared… It happened so fast, I didn't know what to do! I wasn't even able to transform… I was reaching for my Henshin pen on my pocket but the monster broke my shoulder, I can't move my arm! The youma looks so human but all dried-up. It was so terrifying…" She sobbed. "Then I hit a wall and I heard my skull crack… When everything turned dark, I thought… I thought… I never would see light again". Ami finished while being still held closely by Makoto and patted on the shoulder by the three others.
"Ssshhhh… It's alright now…" Makoto whispered to her.
Ami looked up, still with tears but with a confused look on her eyes, "How did I get here?" she asked.
Makoto tilted her head towards the people on the living room and Ami's gaze fell on Hotaru. She then understood what must have happened.
When her sobs subsided, and she finally broke apart from Makoto, Minako gave Ami a handkerchief to dry her tears. "Come on, I'll whip anything you'd want for dinner". Makoto said while dragging Ami to the kitchen table.
"You can join us, you know…" Usagi turned to the people still being quiet on the sofa.
"And Hotaru, you might want to inform Haruka and Michiru that you're here. Rei and I will just drop you off later. Okay?" Minako advised Hotaru who acted instantly and walked up to the telephone.
Soon, they were all eating around the table.
"Ami, this is Akoumi and this is Mikouko. They're classmates of mine. Akoumi's the one who carried you here." Hotaru introduced as she also overheard their earlier conversation.
Ami stared at Akoumi; she felt her heart skip a beat. "A-kou-mi?" she asked slowly, pronouncing each syllable, looking like the name rang a bell. She saw the resemblance, his eyes especially, and then the color of his hair. Ami gasped. Everyone was now looking from Ami to Akoumi.
"She saw it too…" Rei said.
"I… I can't believe it…" she remarked then looked at the one called Mikouko, "I know that face…" she mused loudly with a smile.
"Just like what I said…" Makoto giggled.
"Now Pluto will definitely kill us…" Mikouko said while stabbing the potato on his plate with his fork.
"No she won't, you didn't tell them anything. They just figured themselves." Hotaru reassured them.
"Figured what? Tell us what? And what's with Setsuna?" Usagi asked the crowd in general.
"Oh brother!" the four inner senshis said in frustration. Then they all ignored Usagi and busied themselves with eating.
"I just remembered, before I lost consciousness…" Ami started, and waited to get everyone's attention, "Someone was calling for Ice Bubbles and another was calling for a Love Chain". She was looking from Akoumi to Mikouko then back.
"No, I wasn't there" Minako said, trying to confirm everyone's suspicion.
"So who did?" Usagi asked. Everyone then collapsed on the floor. "What?!" Usagi blurted.