A/N: What's up, friends! I've decided to start a slightly longer story than I'm used to. Like all confused authors, I have no idea where this is going. I really don't. But if there's one thing I know, it's that this story is not going to focus or center on action. I don't even really enjoy action. This first chapter just kind of ended up this way. I can get very genre-confused, okay. But just know that the succeeding chapters will probably be totally different! Because I don't know what I'm doing.
Disclaimer: I do not own Sailor Moon.
She hunched over in her seat, her posture rather unbecoming for a young lady like herself. Save for the rapid darting of her eyes and mashing of a few buttons, one might have mistaken this girl for a blonde statue. She had been in this spot for over an hour, but only one thought had dared cross her mind.
Win, win, win.
Bzzt! The tiny, pixelated character on the screen started to jump up and down, the cheery victory music not quite matching the image of the final boss drowning in a pit of lava off to the side.
The young man behind the center of the game center took a look in her direction for the umpteenth time and immediately buried his face in his palms.
"And if you keep winning, this place is going to lose a lot of money, Minako-chan." He rubbed at his eyes. Who knew the best gamer in the center would be a girl in a sailor fuku? A uniform that he was sure he had never seen in the vicinity. Upon making eye contact, she merely smiled and stood up.
"Not to worry, Onii-san! I—"
Minako turned to the arcade machine, lifting open the clear plastic flap to the prize compartment. She took a moment to admire the bright red pen before tossing it over her shoulder into a small pile of spoils that had accumulated since she had started playing. Patrons from all around the building eyed her jealously.
"Anyways, I pretty much blew my allowance for the whole week. You'll be safe until Monday!"
And with that, Aino Minako made her exit.
Ten minutes later found her sitting on a bench, the head of a taiyaki resting between her teeth. She drew the bag of prizes into her lap and began to sift through it. Truth be told, most of the toys and decorations in Minako's bedroom were actually courtesy of the Crown Game Center. After discovering it last year, Minako had sort of made it her hobby to game and collect when she wasn't out napping or playing sports.
In the end, most of the toys turned out to be quite commonplace: stuffed bears, rabbits, keychains. However, two things had caught Minako's eye.
The first was the red pen she had won last. It was actually half gold, ending in a strange symbol at the top. Something about it tickled at Minako's mind, but she couldn't quite place it. She tucked the pen into her breast pocket.
The second was definitely something Minako had never seen, a small compact in the shape of a crescent moon. She flipped it open and immediately slammed it shut.
Her reflection was.. it was.. that was weird.
Pushing the thought away, she glanced up and realized it was getting rather late. And dark.
"Dammit, mom's going to kill me," she muttered. There were days when Minako's mother was worse than the police. And on particularly darker days, mushrooms.
Compact still gripped tightly in her hand, Minako ran down the street when she heard a distinct, yet muffled female voice.
"Let me go!"
Minako stopped in her tracks and backpedaled, the voices growing louder.
"C'mon, beautiful. Just give yourself up quickly and quietly, and I'll be done in a sec." A gruff male voice. There was a small gasp and a thump.
The bag dropped to the floor. In that moment, something snapped in Minako. Without any real reason, she raised her compact into the air. The words came easily.
"Crescent Moon Power, Make Up!"
Minako had no doubt she was now dressed exactly like her reflection had depicted her earlier. She could feel the red mask resting on her face. But now wasn't the time to examine her apparent costume change. Or question the heels now strapped to her feet. A surge of power coursed through her veins and before she knew it, she was running far faster than she normally ever did.
She dashed full charge into the alley, stopping at the sight she had been expecting.
A girl, around her age, lay unconscious on the floor, pinned in place by a much older man. His arm was pressed against her throat. When his hand started to descend towards her skirt, Minako's vision turned red.
The man turned in her direction, only to be met with a drop-kick to the face. Minako blinked. When had she learned how to do that?
"You crazy bitch!" He shouted, attempting to contain the blood now pouring out of both nostrils.
He swung wildly, but Minako found it easy to dodge his blows. She then pointed her compact at him, raising it at chest-level.
There was a flash of light and the man collapsed in a pathetic heap, joining his would-be victim on the ground.
Minako struggled to pace her breathing and heartbeat. She glanced at the compact in her hand, then at the girl, then at the man and so forth.
What the hell had just transpired? One minute she was getting ready to go home, the next she had beat a man unconscious.
With some kind of superpower, she guessed.
For the second time that day, she pushed the thought out of her mind and picked the girl up in a bridal fashion, darting out into the streets.
Similar to the way she approached her schoolwork, Minako did not bother with all the why's or how's. All she knew was that she had found something far more important than what was worth questioning.
More important than video games.
More important than volleyball.
More important than the scolding she knew she was going to get for coming home so late.
Aino Minako had found her duty, her destiny, and she was not about to sit around and question what Fate had bestowed upon her. It was almost comforting how easily this desire to defend and protect came to her, as if she had been waiting for this moment her whole life.
It had been around half an hour later when Minako stopped at a small playground. There, she placed the girl on a bench and stepped back. Aided with the glow of a nearby streetlamp, Minako was finally able to get a good look at the girl's face.
"No way!" She stifled her own exclamation with her hands, although her mouth was still agape in surprise. She knew who this girl was. Or at least, had heard of her.
But the girl was stirring now, a sure sign that Minako needed to book it. In a moment of impulse, she bent over to kiss her on the forehead—an act that surprised herself—and dashed off. In her haste, she didn't notice the clatter behind her.
Minako reached home in record time. Unfortunately for her, it was still well past the time her mother was comfortable with. But even her mother wasn't enough to set off her mood. She endured the lecture with a dopey smile, daydreaming about her future as the Champion of Justice, Sailor V.
Minako didn't really know why she had decided to name herself that. She just thought it sounded cool.
She was in the middle of naming her attacks when she was interrupted by loud screeching.
"Aino Minako! Are you even listening to me right now?!"
Minako blinked before focusing her eyes back onto her mother.
"Then you can tell me what in God's name were you doing that was so important you had to put off coming home by two hours?!"
"I, uh.. I was with a friend from school, of course. A classmate actually. I figured I should get to know my peers better. Everyone else has known each other since kindergarten!" And that was the truth. This week had marked Minako's first year at this school, a result of moving across the city.
"Oh, really? And just what was this girl's name?" Her mother prodded, disbelief etched all over her features. Hands on her hips, she bored her eyes into her daughter's.
Minako smiled. Already tasting sweet, sweet victory, she cleared her throat and stared right back.
"Her name is Hino Rei."
Rei jolted awake, a warm feeling fresh in her mind.
Where was she..?
Where was the guy?
No, where was the girl?
She recalled the sound of clacking heels growing closer right before she had passed out. Wait a minute. She heard them now, and Rei whipped her head in their direction. She strained her eyes at the retreating figure, but the darkness only helped to obscure her vision.
Rei's eyes then landed on something, something on the ground not too far from where she sat up.
She stood to pick it up and immediately hugged it to her chest.
Although she wasn't quite sure how, Rei had the feeling that this red pen was somehow connected to her phantom protector.
She knew it in her heart.