Alone No More - Minako's Story
Story #1 of the Question Series
by Jason C. Ulloa


Prelude to Story #1

"Hmm...," the robed figure mused in the darkness as the crystal continued to shine. "Well,
that was... boring. I would've thought that this reality would've had at least something of
interest." The dark figure shrugged fatalistically. "Well, nothing left to do except put
this reality out of its misery."

With a gesture, the crystal suddenly turned black, like a light being turned off. "There,"
the figure said with a sad sigh. "That's done. It was for the best. No one should be forced
to live in such a miserable existence. Now... that was reality #5309674128, wasn't it?" The
figure paused in thought. "Yes, that's right. Well, maybe I'll try one at random."

The figure waved a hand again, and the crystal flickered to life again. The scene was of a
fierce battle between a sinister-looking force and a group of ten warriors; nine female and
one male, each wearing a sailor fuku of a different color. The figure watched in
fascination as the battle raged on, with all but one of the ten sailor-suited warriors
falling one by one until the leader and the enemy remained standing.

The leader seemed in great anguish at the defeat of each of her allies, but remained firm
against the evil. With a firm, resolute expression on her face, she raised a silver crystal
into the air overhead and summoned forth an incredible amount of power, amplified by her
own life force. The figure knew what this meant: the leader was sacrificing her own life in
order to stop the evil being. When enough energy had been gathered, it was hurled at the
foe with a vengence. The enemy tried to stop the attack with an attack of its own - the
strongest it could muster - but it proved ineffective as it was totally destroyed.

The figure applauded; it was quite a show. Occasionally, the good triumphing over evil
thing was very satisfying to watch. As the figure's gaze turned back toward the leader, the
figure froze. Her last bit of energy gone, the leader crumpled lifelessly to the ground and
joined her allies in death.

"Oh, now that just won't do at all," the dark figure muttered testily. "All that work, just
to die. Besides, they seemed to be such a close bunch; especially since every one of them
were furious when the male was the first to die. Hmm...," the figure thought as a thought
came to mind. A wicked smile suddenly appeared in the figure's dark face. With a quick
gesture, the ten spirits of the sailor-suited warriors suddenly appeared in the figure's
black, featureless chambers.

"What...?" the tall blonde girl wearing blue and gold said as she and the others looked
around in confusion. "Where are we?"

"What happened?" the tall brunette girl wearing green and pink asked.

"The last thing I remember," the boy wearing gray and silver began, "was getting hit by...
something, then blacking out. Now I wake up to find us all here. What happened?"

"You died," the leader murmured sadly. "You all did. After that, I used the Ginzuishou's
full power to defeat our enemy."

"After which, you died," the black-haired girl wearing red and purple finished in a faint
voice. "But, if we're all dead...."

"Then, where are you?" the dark figure finished for them. "Easy. You're in my home." All
ten sailor-suited warriors whirled around to see who spoke. It was easy to find the only
other occupant of the 'room'. There was blackness darker than night everywhere except for
the crystal in front of the dark, robed figure, yet everything was clearly visible, as if
illuminated by some unseen light source. The figure, robed so it was unclear as to which
gender it was, seemed to be seated in front of them like a judge. The crystal, still
floating and still shining, had moved to the figure's side. Even though the figure's cowl
was open, it was impossible to see a face inside all that darkness. "I brought you here."

"Who are you?" the shorter blonde wearing orange and blue demanded.

"Why did you bring us here?" the young girl with short black hair wearing purple added.

The dark figure gave a small chuckle, then turned back toward the crystal. With another
wave of its hand over the crystal, it gave off a quick, brilliant flash. "Just as I
thought," it said half to itself as it turned back toward its guests.

"I have no name," the dark figure began, "for I have no need for one. My purpose is simple:
to oversee various realities to determine its viability - in other words, its right to
exist. If I deem it to be a dull retched existence which will lead to nothing but despair,
like if a massive plague wiped out almost all life and left the rest to die a slow death,
for example, then...." It made a cutting motion with its hand. "Otherwise, I leave it
alone."

"So, you're some sort of 'overseer'?" the tall brunette in green asked.

"If you wish to call me that, yes," it replied.

"So, what does that have to do with us?" the guy asked.

"Yes," the girl with short bluish-hair wearing light blue added, "Obviously, you've come
across our dimension, or else we wouldn't be here in the first place. Have you decided
to... extingush our dimension?"

"If you have," the black-haired girl in red added, "we won't let you do it without a
fight!" Her threat was seconded by the others.

It chuckled again. "Oh, no. Definitely not that. You ten alone have enough potential in you
to keep your dimension well in hand. However, the fact that you all died in your last
battle...." The dark figure shook its head ruefully. "Well, that's the reason I brought you
all here."

"Are you saying you can bring us all back to life?" the leader asked eagerly.

"Well... yes, but there's a condition you all have to meet first," it replied.

"What... condition?" the tall girl with sea-green hair wearing sea-green and blue asked
warily.

"You see," the dark figure began, "there is an infinite number of realities to view and
more than half of them are more than likely going to require... termination. It gets
tedious going through one dimension after another, so what I require from all of you is...
some entertainment."

"Entertainment?!?" all ten repeated incredulously.

"I've already went through your reality - #7129534680, in case you want to know - and found
certain points in the timestream where a small, almost insignificant change would lead in
an entirely new reality.

"There is another curiousity I've noticed as well," the figure continued and it stared
directly at the male and pointed. "You."

"Me?" he asked warily. "What about me?"

"Did you know that there are points in your reality where you would've been paired up with
any one of these girls instead of the one you're currently with now?"

"W-w-what?!?!?" he exclaimed in shock. His surprise was mirrored perfectly by the other
nine girls.

"Yes, even with her," it replied with another chuckle as it pointed to the tall brunette
girl. Even without looking through their dimension, it could tell that they were siblings
through their similar features. Both the guy and the girl began to turn a red that would've
shamed the reddest tomato, while the others stood astonished. "That enough would've been
enough to draw my attention to this dimension. Anyway, since each one of these points has
past and the present is planted firmly on its course, that's where all of you come in.

"In order for me to view these past events, each one of you must volunteer to be sent back
into time temporarily to reside in the body of your past self. You will serve as my conduit
into that reality, where I can make the proper alterations in order to view that reality.
Since I am changing an alternate past, all my alterations are not permanent. Once I am
finished, I will withdraw with the chosen person back here and start again with the next
person."

"And once all of us have had our turns, then you'll bring us back to life and send us back
home?" the leader asked.

"You have my word," it replied. "A favor for a favor, but remember, this is a one time
deal. If you all die again, I won't be able to help you. All right?"

"All right," all ten agreed.

"Good," the dark figure replied with a nod. "So, who's first? Will it be Sailor Moon,
Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Venus, Knight, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, or Pluto? Or, would you
prefer Usagi, Ami, Rei, Makoto, Minako, Ryoku, Hotaru, Haruka, Michiru, or Setsuna?" The
figure chuckled at the confounded looks on the faces of the Sailor Senshi. "Surprised I
knew your names? I told you, I looked through your reality. I know all about each one of
you. Now, who's first?"

Sailor Knight stepped forward. "I'll go."

"No," it replied after some thought. "You're last. I've got something special planned for
you."

"I'm not sure I like the sound of that...."

Sailor Jupiter stepped forward and swallowed. "Then, let me go," she stated nervously, as
if she wanted to get her part over and done with.

The dark, robed figure nodded. "Come here please, Makoto and Ryoku." As they strode toward
the figure, it began to stroke the part of its head where its chin would be - if they
could've seen inside the dark robes - thoughtfully. "Maybe I'll keep this one just to
myself. No doubt the rest of you would be a little disturbed by this...."

"They aren't the only ones," both Jupiter and Knight said simultaneously.

"I see," it said as it nodded. "Well, I can't let her out of her share. It wouldn't be fair
to the rest. Besides, I said everybody and I mean everybody." It nodded as if to close the
matter. "Now relax. You two will feel as if you're going to sleep. When you wake up, you'll
no longer be who you are, but who you were. You will not be you, but you will be your
counterpart. You will not be able to control anything. You are there to watch, feel, and to
experience. You will think what they think, know what they know, and feel what they feel.
Now... sleep."

The dark figure began to slowly fade away as it spoke. When it finished speaking, it was
gone, but Jupiter and Knight were left lying there on the floor, motionless as stone with
their eyes closed.

Sometime later, the dark, robed figure faded back into being. Jupiter and Knight woke from
their trances looking very disturbed. Neither one seemed able to look directly at the other
as they stood.

"What happened?" Venus asked.

"Don't ask," they both replied in very faint voices. "Please don't ask."

"Well...," it murmured quietly, "that was quite a surprise. I wasn't expecting... that.
Here, this will help." It quickly placed a dark hand over both Jupiter's and Knight's eyes
and quickly removed them again. After that, they blinked and gave each other a confused
look, then looked over to the hooded figure. "I merely placed a small mental block on each
of you. You'll still be able to remember everything, but it won't be as much of a shock
anymore, if at all. Now... who's next? I assure you, nothing else will be that bad, and
this time I'll let everyone watch as well."

The others exchanged glances; some wary, some doubting. Finally, Sailor Venus stepped
forward. "I'll go, if that's all right."

"Fine," it replied with a nod. "Now, Minako, will you and Ryoku please come here? You
remember how this goes?" Sailor Knight nodded along with Venus. "Good. Now remember: When
you wake up, you'll no longer be who you are, but who you were. You will not be you, but
you will be your counterpart. You will not be able to control anything. You are there to
watch, feel, and to experience. You will think what they think, know what they know, and
feel what they feel. Now... sleep."

Slowly, the world began to grow dark as Sailor Venus and Sailor Knight - Minako and Ryoku -
began to drift into a very deep sleep as they slipped down onto the floor....

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On to Minako's story: Alone No More

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Author's Note: You're probably wondering about the 'Question' that is implied in the title,
right? Well, when I began my first fic and created Sailor Knight, I was asked why I paired
him up with Sailor Mercury instead of any of the other Senshi. That question inspired this
series of short fics where I pair Ryoku with each and every other Senshi; Haruka, Michiru,
and Usagi included. By the way, I'll say this now, I don't intend to say that Haruka and
Michiru, or Usagi and Mamoru don't belong together, but this is just for a change of pace,
and just for fun. I mean, if Haruka and Michiru are paired up with a guy, just this once,
and as long as it's done without completely changing them into somebody else, then I say
why not? After all, all's fair in love and alternate realities, ne? ^_~

Disclaimer: All original materials belong to their respective owners. Sailor Moon belongs
to Naoko Takeuchi and a bunch of big companies. No copyright infringement is intended. This
story belongs me, so I would appreciate it very much if you would ask for permission before
posting it anywhere else. Thank you.

The Question and all stories included are:
Copyright © July 6, 2001 Jason C. Ulloa.
All Rights Reserved.