Sailor Moon Expanded : The Night Before
A tale of the Black Moon War
by Mark Latus
Crystal Tokyo - 2985 AD
"A peace treaty?" Serenity sounded as flabbergasted as everyone else
looked. The Queen, King, five women and three cats who made up the Royal
Defence Council stared at the remaining member of the group with varying
degrees of disbelief. Lord Calcite (Royal Envoy by grace of Her Majesty
Neo-Queen Serenity and current holder of the unofficial CT "Looks Cute When
He's Grim & Brooding" title now that Ferrite and Magnesite were out of town)
nodded and continued in the same serious tone.
"Yes, your majesty. Ahem, 'To discuss the redistribution of terrestrial
political influence and end the possibility of conflict between Crystal
Tokyo and the Nemesian people's colonization vanguard.' And so on in that
vein." He handed the transcript to Endymion who scanned through it and
snorted before shaking his head and quietly muttering, "They must think we're
idiots!" Serenity ignored this and addressed Calcite.
"What's your opinion?" He started to speak, "And forget the formality,
we're not in court." Calcite's poker face slipped and he looked concerned.
"Serenity, my opinion is that you ignore this. At best Demand's stalling
for time to consolidate his grip on the rest of the world without our
interference. He knows we're about to treat the blockade as an act of war and
start officially aiding the resistance movements around the globe. More
importantly it means his troops will be facing the Senshi in battle and he
doesn't want that. Especially when we've got Crystal Tokyo as an invulnerable
stronghold to strike from. He's just trying to use your ideals to stymie our
declaration of hostilities until he's crushed all opposition in the occupied
territories. When he's done that he'll be free to throw everything he's got
against us. He'll also be using the truce period to search for a way to break
"That's the best case scenario. At worst it's a trap, a second kidnap
plot or something more lethal! One way or another take you out of action then
launch a blitzkrieg assault while our defences are down. Just because the
first attempt failed is no reason to think he won't try again." There was a
mumble of agreement from around the table.
Serenity nodded and said, "Thank you, Calcite. I'm sure you're probably
right." Then she sighed and gave a sad smile. "But this is Crystal Tokyo and
as Demand knows if there's any hope, however slight, for a peaceful solution I
must seek it. So I will agree to meet with him."
Everyone started to protest at once then hesitated. First Endymion,
then all the Senshi save Polaris and finally the mooncats. Titanite's
mouth dropped open as her gaze bounced between all the silent, unhappy looking
people. Very confused she started to ask, "Hey, what ... what's got into
you ...?", before her brother interrupted.
"Ti, leave it." That jolted her. Suddenly she remembered Pluto's words
of four years ago. After their first meeting with Pluto she had summoned the
guardian of time privately to ask her for a few more answers. She'd more than
half expected Pluto to refuse her request for information and been surprised
when the other asked only that she use her only judgement about passing the
information along. So Ti learned a few things she'd rather not in hindsight,
things she had kept to herself ever since.
Something was going to happen to both Serenity and Endymion leaving the
city without its shield. To prevent Crystal Tokyo being destroyed the Inner
Senshi would be forced to power the defence shield themselves. Taking all
four of them out of action. Pluto would give no specifics about what the
event was or when it would occur. Saying only the less Titanite knew the
less temptation she'd have to change events. The only comfort Pluto could
offer was to remind her that if events proceeded as they should the Royal
Family would survive the war. Pluto would give no details on anyone else's
fates. Titanite reflected that her brother had perhaps been wiser, Cal
hadn't asked Pluto for any details beyond the bare bones of what they must
not do at all costs. He still felt that when it came to the future the more
you knew the more limited you were in your actions. Though the mood in here
must make it obvious to him that everyone else knew something was terrible
was about to happen. But whatever it was it could not, must not be prevented!
Whatever disaster was in store it must be allowed to happen or everything
they had worked for this past millennia would be lost.
Ti flushed purple and settled back looking embarrassed. There was a
brief awkward silence broken by Serenity. "I assume Demand has conditions
of his own for setting up a peace conference?" Calcite nodded.
"He's bringing Rubeus and the Uncanny Sisters as his bodyguards. I get
the impression he thinks that's a formality and he can handle any trouble
himself. He's quite willing for you to bring the Senshi as bodyguards ...
with one exception." All eyes turned to Titanite who gave a harsh laugh.
"Namely yours truly. Can't have me corrupting any more of their youth."
"Right. Demand gave me the diplomatic version, '... unnecessary strain
on negotiations due to ill feelings within the Black Moon Clan ...' and so
on." He paused then added, "Garnet was considerably blunter. He's taken it
as a personal insult. If you ever meet him again be sure to strike first!"
Ti nodded and Calcite continued.
"The site of the conference is to be mutually agreed. That'll take a
while as we can hardly trust their choice isn't a trap but they aren't going
to agree to meet in CT. Walking into your stronghold is the last thing he'll
accept." Endymion interrupted.
"How about Okinawa? Much lighter defences than CT but close enough to
Nippon and the air defence network should we need military support." Makoto
nodded in agreement then winced at the thought of what she'd just agreed to.
"We'll have to see if they'll agree but it's a reasonable choice. Or as
reasonable as anything can be under the circumstances." As soon as he
finished Rei spoke up.
"Security is my department. What kind of guarantees is Demand giving
us that this whole thing isn't a trap? That he isn't just getting us all out
from under the shield together then opening fire from orbit?"
Calcite looked just about as cynical as Rei. "His word of honour." That
got a round of chuckles. "Also he's willing to follow any terrestrial safe
conduct rituals we want." Rei looked amused.
"None of which mean a damn thing to him. Of course he'll be happy to
give any guarantees we ask for."
"I may be able to help there." Titanite called up something on her
slate and handed it Serenity who frowned at the unknown symbols. Before she
could ask Ti added, "There's a pronunciation guide below it."
Serenity quietly read the unfamiliar collection of syllables aloud then
asked, "What is this?"
"That is the most sacred and revered oath on Nemesis. Their one
unbreakable covenant. It's how their bureaucracy can keep running when they
recruit from a dozen hostile clans. To-chan told me about it ages ago but
it didn't seem important before. Now if Demand will swear by that to meet
in peace then we've got something to work with."
"May I see that?" Serenity nodded and passed it to Rei. She studied it
then looked at Titanite. "There's no mystical significance to this, is
"No, but violating it would be a very bad move by Demand. Remember the
Nemesians aren't one people but a dozen feuding clans. That's why Demand's
title is Prince not King. King and Queen are reserved for this quasi mystical
long prophecised messianic couple who will bring all the clans together as
one people ... which To-chan doesn't expect to happen any time soon. Demand
rules Nemesis but that's by force and alliance, the other clans definitely
don't see him as their King. The point is that while the Black Moon Family
rules it's over a coalition and that's what's invaded." Everybody nodded and
Ti realized they already knew the background. Luckily she was about to get
to the point. "The importance of all this is that the only way the other
clans would trust Demand enough to give him authority over their own forces
and take them off planet would be if he swore this oath with the clan leaders
to divvy up the spoils with them. If he breaks his word they are going to get
very uneasy and the alliance will start breaking down. Demand will have to
watch his back as closely as his front."
Ami interjected, "From what we know of Demand he's just megalomaniacal
enough to chance disregarding his people's most sacred covenant."
Ti sighed, "I know Ami-chan, but it's the best we can hope for. Of
course we'll have to see that Demand's swearing the oath to us gets broadcast
worldwide. If we're the only ones outside the Black Moon Family to know he's
sworn it he'll be a lot likelier to violate it.""
Makoto snorted, "I'd prefer an oath that would make his head explode if
he breaks it." Rei nodded in agreement before replying.
"So would I but he'd never put himself under a mystically binding oath
to an enemy. The best we can hope for is one with long term political and
social consequences if he violates it. Nice work, Ti." Ti did a somewhat
unconvincing show of false modesty followed by Minako attributing her sister-
in-law's political savvy to her longtime influence. That got a few grins and
lightened the mood a bit. On the window ledge above the group a white and
purple cat that had arrived riding on Mercury's shoulder shook her head.
Then, feeling a little mischievous, caught Artemis's eye and gave him an
inviting grin. Artemis sweatdropped and quickly glanced away to find himself
face to face with a female of his species. She began nuzzling him and he made
the mistake of neither protesting nor pulling away immediately. Which meant
he was immediately whacked by Luna on general principles. While Artemis was
rubbing the bump on his head Luna and Arachne held a brief glaring contest.
Arachne sniffed and stalked across the table to rejoin Makoto in a sour mood.
One male mooncat left and that prig Luna had got her claws in him and insisted
on monogomy! By the Ancients, what was she thinking! So they had a kitten
together, it wasn't as if they were bound by human rules! She curled up in
front of her Senshi and began to sulk. Accustomed to this by now Makoto
sighed and scratched the jouvian cat's ears.
Perched above this domestic drama the only cat present who wasn't created
in ancient times purred with amusement. Must be frustrating having a lack of
males of your own species. Actually so did she but she had been able to
adapt easily enough to terrestrial males. A solution the frustrated mooncat
couldn't use. Even without the intelligence barrier between Arachne and
terran tomcats there was a certain physical problems that rendered sex with
them a painful proposition. Unfortunately for the recently revived mooncat
she wasn't a masochist so Artemis was the only game in town. Except that
her arrival had spurred Luna to stop playing hard to get resulting in a kitten
the proud parents had named Diana. All of which brought to mind someone here
she had lost to another (also present) long, long ago.
The purr faded as ancient memories began playing through her mind and
she forced herself to consider what was happening below. It didn't make her
feel any better. She watched the meeting get back on track feeling more than
a little edgy. Hopefully her conclusions were wrong but the scents told a
different story. Resignation laced with fatalism made an unpleasant odour.
The meeting ended with the King and Queen's announcement that they would
contact Demand and try to set up the peace negotiations. It would be a face
to face meeting between leaders. Serenity attending for Crystal Tokyo with
Rei, Ami, Makoto and Minako as bodyguards while Endymion remained in charge
of the city. Everyone else had immediately begun advising against taking
all the remaining True Senshi with her but stopped at the expression on
Serenity's face. Now everyone had departed the room except for Calcite,
Titanite and the sunbathing cat. Seeing his sister wanted to talk he had
arranged to catch up with the royal party in a few minutes.
"Umm Cal ... after we met Pluto for the first time I met her alone and
asked her a few things ..."
"Ti, is hearing this going to do anything except make me curse fate?"
"Uhm ... no, I guess not. Forget I mentioned it. Like you say, what
will be, will be. So let's not dwell on it."
"That's the spirit." She'd known her brother too long to be fooled by
false joviality. He knew something very bad was going to happen soon and
didn't like being helpless to prevent it. Perhaps remembering Pluto's words
to the Renegades four years earlier when Ti had said that if Princess Usagi
would travel back to the twentieth century after the war then Crystal Tokyo
must have survived so everything must work out all right. Pluto had corrected
her and warned her about making assumptions.
"Serenity and Endymion have reason to believe that they survive, but none
of the rest of you do." The memory of those less than comforting words was
suddenly driven away by something landing on Calcite's shoulder.
"Meow?" Calcite snapped back to reality and handed the cat to Titanite.
"We'd better get going, everyone's waiting for us." With that he hurried
away brushing away imaginary cat hairs. Ti let Margrave-neko sprawl on her
shoulder then followed. Quietly she asked, "Were you defusing a tense moment
or just hoping to upset Mina-chan by arriving with him?"
"Meow?" Ti took that to mean, "What do you think?"
"Let me guess, both?"
A purr with definite overtones of laughter buzzed by her ear. Nice to
know some things never changed.
It was a very apprehensive Ami who returned to her quarters that night.
The conference was going to be a rush job, Demand had insisted that they hold
it tomorrow. Ami smiled cynically and muttered, "Probably afraid if he waited
we'd boobytrap the site." It was infuriating the way the Nemesians insisted
on believing that everyone was as warped and treacherous as they were. Small
parties, no ambassadors or negotiators, just Demand and Serenity with each
bringing their bodyguards. The thought of what was going to happen chilled
her. She'd never be able to conceal her feelings. Thankfully the Nemesians
would be expecting them to look on edge. Probably looking forward to it.
She sighed before the door to her apartment. Admittedly they didn't know
it would happen tomorrow but all seemed to fit. Future-Endymion hadn't given
many details all those years ago ... or would be giving those details before
too long depending on your perspective. Even for her time travel was a
mind bending concept. She chided herself for trying to turn her mind from
thoughts of what would ... must happen. No, Endymion hadn't given many
details but the little he had told (would tell?) them was bad enough.
Serenity would be struck down rendering Crystal Tokyo defenceless. An over
simplification but she was both the one shielding the city and their prime
weapon if Demand violated Nipponese airspace. Once she was sealed in crystal
it would be impossible to revive Serenity. Normally restoration would be a
simple matter but not this time. That would take the Silver Crystal and that
would be travelling back in time with Small Lady. Without the Crystal here
to heal her Serenity would remain trapped between life and death. Meanwhile
the four Senshi would have to combine their powers and become the power source
shielding the city. By the time their younger selves visited the city the
shield would have shrunk to just covering the Palace while Crystal Tokyo was
wrecked and empty. She only hoped that didn't mean mass slaughter of the
citizens. Though there was no safe place on Earth for them she had plans for
a way to save them all. The main problem would be manufacturing enough EXODUS
gates in time. Or maybe just the first problem, persuading people to walk
through them might well be the major problem. Though very soon it wouldn't be
her concern any longer.
The door slid open at her touch as she thought about becoming a power
source for the defence grid. It had used to bother her after the other
Senshi appeared wondering why it was only the four of them hooked to it and
what happened to the others? Obviously Pluto would be busy guarding the
timegate (and doing a pretty crummy job considering how many time travellers
we met, a small voice at the back of her mind insisted) but the other Outer
Senshi remained something of a mystery. Hotaru had gone MIA during the Great
Darkness, no conclusive evidence one way or another but both Haruka and
Michiru had insisted she was dead. Perhaps she'd wound up a Jane Doe in one
of the mass graves they were digging near the end. Things were chaotic and
record keeping more than a little lax. Even if she hadn't died then having
refused to become immortal meant age would have finished her long ago.
Serenity was sure that if Sailor Saturn was needed again she would be reborn
but there had been no signs of that happening. As for Haruka and Michiru
who knew where they'd disappeared to? It had been over 150 years since anyone
had seen them. Rei had been trying to covertly trace them before the war so
they could be brought back into the fold but without success. Ami had been
sure that when the invasion came they would reappear to fight it. But there
was still no sign of Sailors Uranus and Neptune. What had happened to them?
Ami blinked and realized she was standing on the threshold of her
quarters brooding. If she kept this up she'd have to change her name to
Magnesite and start narrating her every thought. Chuckling she stepped into
the room. The lights didn't come on automatically and her good humour
vanished. Before she could command them to activate someone soundlessly
slid from the shadows behind her and wrapped arms around her. The door slid
shut cutting off the light from the corridor.
Being keyed up Ami reacted instinctively. An elbow smash to the gut at
Senshi speed as she spun to seize and throw her attacker. Even injured his
reactions were very good but she managed to grasp and toss him. She invoked
the change while he was still in midair, the flash lighting the room, and
launched a Shabon Spray Freezing. That was when her intellect asserted
itself over her training having registered the figure in the flare of
transformation but not recognised it while she operated on trained reflex.
Unfortunately it was a little late by then.
Her husband managed to gasp, "Sur ...prise ..." through blue lips
before collapsing. Ami charged towards him but tripped on the edge of a rug.
Swearing she ordered the lights on and winced momentarily at the glare. Her
medical training came to the fore and she knew she had to warm him up before
hypothermia set in. Unceremoniously stripping off his clothes while mentally
ordering her fuku to peel away she swiftly bundled him into the bed and
wrapped herself around him as best she could. Cold tolerant as she was she
felt chilled by the embrace.
They lay like that for some time until she felt his shivering stop.
Her sense at being thankful for that was quickly erased by a wave of anger.
What had that idiot been playing at? Okay, maybe she'd overreacted a bit
but no one could blame her for being on edge ... well no one who had
foreknowledge anyway ... which he didn't. The anger vanished behind a quick
wave of guilt. Should she have told him? Maybe ... on the other hand Minako
had never told Calcite, he'd just put together a few pieces with Ti and his
old friends then Pluto arrived to fill in the blanks. Tom had been too busy
outside Crystal Tokyo to see through the mask that covered her own increasing
nervousness as the clock ticked towards impending war. Ami sighed, long ago
they had decided (at her urging) not to discuss it with anyone who didn't
already know what the future would bring. The risk of paradox was too great.
It still was, everything could still go off the rails. Could she tell Tom
the real reason she was so edgy or was it still wisest to wait until
afterwards? Logic said to wait but her heart said to trust him with the
truth. Which was she supposed to listen to? He was always causing problems
for her. Thank god, it helped keep her sane. She sighed and murmured,
"Idiot!" in an affectionate tone. She wasn't sure which of them she was
Meanwhile now that he could think straight again Tom was chiding himself
for his greeting. It wasn't the first time he'd done something like this
but before there hadn't been a war going on in the background. His stomach
hurt and he tried not to wince. The only comfort he could draw from all this
he had obviously done a good job training Ami in unarmed combat. Even so
something felt wrong, Ami's reaction too extreme. He'd been lucky not to wind
up a popsicle, fortunately she'd gone for her swiftest attack. Speed over
power. Or maybe he wasn't so lucky, the time required to summon one of her
more powerful attacks might have let her identify him and stop before she
launched it. Regardless something felt wrong here, there was a mystery to be
solved. But first, as Ami had just called him an idiot, he'd better patch
"Mmmm ...you're so warm. I swear I'll never complain about resting your
cold feet on me again."
"Hah, you're only saying that because I don't have any way to record it!"
Ami considered summoning her terminal but opted to leave her hands where they
were. "And I don't bring cold feet to bed anyway."
"Well ... physically yes but metaphorically no." Ami took a moment to
work that out then did one of her cute blushes. Had it not been for his
aching stomach and still feeling half frozen Tom might have pursued the matter
but instead he opted to enjoy their embrace. After a few moments Ami asked,
"Does anyone know you're in the city?"
"Rei does, she was going to pass the word to Cal and Makoto. I contacted
her a few hours back with the details of how I got in so she could plug the
security gap. I also asked her not to mention it to you."
"I wish she had. Then I might have known it was you."
"Sorry about that."
"I'm sorry too. I'm on edge right now. I'm ... well I'm just ...
"Scared?" That made no sense. "Ami, you're one of the bravest people I
Ami sighed. "I'm not scared for myself. It's Serenity ... she's meeting
Demand tomorrow for peace negotiations and I'm afraid of what's going ...
what could happen to her."
The words snapped Tom into Starhunter mode. "She's what! Why ...?" He
didn't complete the protest, he knew Serenity. If the chance for a peaceful
resolution existed she had to pursue it. "She doesn't have to go personally!
Even if no one here would serve as envoy, which you all would without
hesitation, I'd do it."
"It has to be her ..." He saw the beginnings of tears glisten in her
eyes. "Tom, don't ask me too explain ... it has to be her ... if I could
tell you I would but ..."
"Hush ... it's okay Ami. If you say you can't that's good enough for
me. You know that." She forced a smile and they lay there holding each
other. Sharing their warmth and strength within the embrace.
Time passed and Ami's thoughts turned from the unpleasant future to the
here and now. If events went as she feared they could be the last time they
saw each other for who knew how long? She didn't know how long she would be
in a trance powering the defence network. Worse, since Tom was already part
of the terran resistance he'd be outside Crystal Tokyo fighting. This could
be the last time they ever saw each other. Her mind recoiled from the
thought but it wouldn't go away. There was no denying it, his sense of duty
wouldn't permit him to remain in Crystal Tokyo. The last orders the Reunited
Nations had given the Hunters was to disperse and fight the invaders. He
had his orders and he would never abandon his people to fight without him.
Soon he would depart Crystal Tokyo and return to the fight with or without its
support. He'd never consider doing otherwise, there was no use discussing it.
Ami thought about it then smiled slightly. All things considered the
best she could do was give him a sendoff he'd never forget. She'd always been
the coy one in this marriage, the habits of a millennium were hard to break.
But ... Very soon Tom had forgotten about both the cold and his bruises. Or
at least didn't care anymore.
Calcite woke to find himself alone. The bed was still warm so Mina
hadn't been gone long. Normally his trained senses would have awakened him
as soon as she moved but they had been blunted by the night's activities.
It had been an exhausting but mutually enjoyable evening. The only thing
that marred it was the undercurrent. There had been a desperate intensity,
almost a frenzied pitch, to their lovemaking. As if this was goodbye. Which
perhaps it was.
Calcite stopped thinking and listened to what his senses were telling
him. A whisper of movement and he knew where she was. Silently he rose and
Minako gazed down on Alan, just drinking in his presence. Her youngest
child, the son Serenity had tried to trick them into having so they'd be sure
to stay together. Cal had sensed Serenity's alterations and they'd chosen to
conceive him anyway. A decision she had never regretted it. She reached down
and gently tousled his hair. The three year old stirred a little but didn't
awaken. Minako smiled but her eyes glistened. Quietly she whispered,
"Mommy's probably going to have to go away for a while to keep you safe from
some very bad people. But Daddy will take care you and so will aunt Ti and
uncle Topass. You'll be all right and when mommy comes back we'll have a big
party for my special boy. Okay?" Alan made an inarticulate noise and turned
in his sleep. She leaned down and kissed him on the cheek. Then very softly
eased towards the doorway. She wasn't surprised to see Calcite waiting for
her. Silently they returned to their own room.
Quietly he asked, "You told him probably so it's still not certain?"
"I ... I really don't know. We know what will happen but everything we
know is general. We just don't know exactly when and where ... there's no
point trying to hide bad times are coming is there?" He shook his head.
"Wonder how Ami's managed to keep Tom in the dark so long? Guess it helps
they see each over so rarely ..." She trailed off then gave a wane smile.
"I was trying to think of an appropriate saying but nothing comes to mind."
"Saves me having to correct you. Ouch."
"Watch it mister!" The mock anger lightened the mood but it didn't last.
Minako sighed then followed it with, "It's just that everything seems to fit.
Small Lady's the right age and who but Demand could ..." She choked off the
suggestion that the Nemesian Prince was one of the few people powerful enough
to strike Serenity down. No details, it would be easier for him to let her
walk into a trap that way. Nor did she observe that the completion of the
auxiliary shield generator and Serenity's decision not to take the Silver
Crystal with her tomorrow also fit. The latter was supposedly to ensure there
was no chance it would fall into Nemesian hands. Besides Serenity could
summon it any time she choose and trusted Endymion to guard it. At least that
was the public version. The real reason was so it would be available for
Small Lady to ... borrow when the time came. Yes, all the pieces were in
place and despite what people would think they were in control of this
situation. It was all going just as they had expected. So why did she feel
Probably because her Queen and close friend was going to walk into an
ambush and there were no guarantees nothing would go wrong. The only real
certainty was disaster if Serenity didn't walk in like a lamb to slaughter.
Centuries of peace and it all came down to the next few hours to make or break
everything. She wrapped her arms around Calcite resting her head against his
chest. Husband, father of her children, lover and occasional enemy. Her
anchor through the ages. It would be harder on him. In a few hours she would
most likely be beyond all cares until the war was over. His problems would
just be beginning as he inherited a city and people that had never known war.
Serenity had put everything in place for his temporary command but even so
there would be trouble. There was no way around it, martial law would hardly
be popular in utopia. On top of which he'd have a wife who'd turned into a
statue and a son who wasn't old enough to understand what had happened to
mommy. It would hardly be fun for either of them. This was likely farewell
until who knew when.
So it made sense to her to ensure the memories of this night lasted them
both a long, long time. She lifted her head from his chest, shifted her grip
and gave him a sultry smile. He started to say something but she touched a
finger to his lips and whispered, "hush" then followed it with a kiss.
Whatever it was could wait. After all this time the only words that mattered
were, "I love you". Almost unconsciously both repeated them, then there were
no more words. After nearly a millennium neither needed them.
Through their many marriage ceremonies one line had been consistent. It
read simply, "With my body I thee worship." It was one both had always
striven to honour. Tonight was no exception.
Makoto stood on her balcony and studied the sky. It was a good night for
stargazing, as in many things Crystal Tokyo was the best city in the world
for it. How Serenity had done it Makoto didn't know but the city lights
never obscured the brilliance of the sky. The night was cloudless and the
shield Serenity had erected to protect the city invisible to the naked eye.
Nothing to interfere with the view.
She should be resting for tomorrow. Being as alert as possible could be
crucial, perhaps the difference between life and death. Yes, she should be
resting but she felt too restless. That was why she was out here aimlessly
studying the stars. She'd been told all the answers could be found among the
constellations if you just had the wit to see them. But it seemed her wits
failed her as all she saw was the beauty of the heavens. Not that this was
an insufficient reason to study them. "Star light, star bright first star I
see tonight ..."
The rhyme halted abruptly as one of the points of light moved. Her mood
darkened at the sight. No need to guess what that was, there was only one
possible source. The skies belonged to Nemesis, far overhead their ships
waited for the opportunity to strike Crystal Tokyo or pacify resistance in
the occupied territories. Bastards!
From the corner of her eye she caught a streak of light and turned to
see a shooting star's brief blaze of glory. Idly she wondered if that had
been a natural meteorite for a change instead of orbiting space junk. There
was no shortage of the latter. Pieces of the once vaunted Terran Defence
Ring, the network of satellites and space stations that would forever protect
Earth from extraterrestrial aggression, would be falling for years yet. The
ring hadn't quite lived up to its reputation. In fact between internal and
external damage it hadn't even delayed the Nemesians more than a day. The
Nemesian sabotage and mapping of the ring's weak points had been very well
orchestrated. From a purely tactical standpoint she had to admire it.
Makoto sighed and wondered where Chrysolite was tonight. It had been
some time since they last talked. If that was the right word as they hadn't
actually verbally communicated since she left the city. With dreamspeaking it
was always questionable how much was real and how much was just part of the
dream. But it filled a void and right now she needed to talk to a friend.
On that thought Makoto suddenly muttered, "Hah!" and shook her head. She was
lying to herself and doing a pretty rotten job of it.
If all she wanted was a friend to talk to there was an easy answer.
Arachne would grumble a bit if she woke her but would be willing to talk
things over with her. Though she might not care to listen to what Makoto
needed to discuss having firm ideas about how the last Senshi of Jupiter
should conduct herself. As for a human friend while a call to any of the
couples would hardly be appreciated right now Rei would be free to talk to
her. But that wasn't what she needed. She wasn't looking for a friend, she
was looking for something more. Much as she'd tried to deny it she had a
growing attraction to Chrysolite. Makoto sighed, over a thousand years old
and she had suddenly decided she was a lesbian.
Except she wasn't. Even bisexual seemed too extreme. She felt no
attraction to any other women. In fact the idea of being with a woman made
her feel queasy. Yet for all that she couldn't deny she had feelings for
Chrysolite that went beyond friendship. It was ... just something about her.
Something specific to Chrys alone. It was as if there was some sort of bond
between them. A bond utterly ignorant of the gender problems involved.
Makoto sighed again. Never in all these centuries had she felt quite like
this before. But she did and that meant she had a problem.
If Chrys had been male then everything would be perfect. But she wasn't
and that meant Makoto was in a complicated situation. Problem was she had
no idea how to resolve it. There didn't seem to be any easy answers.
She could simply ignore her feelings and go back to searching for Mr.
Right. That was the easiest solution and meant she didn't have to worry about
conflicting feelings. Obvious and yet ... Her karma hadn't been particularly
good in this regard. How many times had she loved and lost for a hundred
different reasons? Poor judgement, mortality, passion that burned out,
simply drifting away from one another ... so many variations leading back to
being alone. What if this was the one and only break in the pattern? That
she had reacted so strongly because Chrysolite was her soulmate? Did she dare
throw this chance away?
That led to the other obvious solution. Except she didn't know if she
could get over her conflicted feelings. Chrysolite obviously had no such
reservations on the physical side but she did. Could she ever feel at ease
about that? Then there was the question of what if this was another dead end?
What if she put herself through all this and all she wound up with was getting
her heart broken again. Was it worth the risk?
Lastly there was what Ti would call the Ranma solution. Let everything
stay in limbo and drag on as it stood while hoping for some sort of miracle
to resolve everything for you without hurting anyone. The safest answer but
it smacked of running away. Not to mention there was no denying that a war
was raging beyond their borders and Chrys was part of it. If she didn't find
an answer she could spend the rest of a very long life thinking, "If only ..."
Once again Makoto cursed the fact that Chrys wasn't a guy. That was a
major barrier! To her at least if not to Chrysolite. Hmmm ... perhaps she
could persuade Serenity to ... NO! Forget it! Really, really, stupid idea,
Makoto! She had to deal with things as they stood rather than as she wanted
them. Except this situation was utterly unprecedented and she had no idea
what she intended to do. All things considered she wasn't going to resolve
this any time soon. What a mess.
After a brief bout of self pity Makoto resolved to stop feeling sorry for
herself and do something. For one thing this was all moot if Chrysolite had
found someone else or didn't feel the bond anymore. Talking to Chrys would
be a good starting point. After that ... well she didn't really know and
she was betting in the long run this would be a very bad decision to make in
a rush under deadline pressure. So she'd better at least find out if Chrys
was willing to give her the time she needed. Having decided that she was left
with the practical problem of how to contact Chrysolite. The reverse was
simple, Chrys had a deep connection to Helcion and could find Makoto through
her dreams easily enough. Makoto couldn't do the reverse ... or could she?
She had never actually gone looking for Chrys in the dream world and simply
assumed it was impossible for her. Perhaps if she went to sleep determined to
search for her ...?
Makoto shrugged, maybe it wouldn't work but it was all that came to mind.
With that thought she undressed and got into bed. Remembering the meditation
exercises Rei had taught her she slowed her breathing and let her mind drift
from the material world, focusing her being on the image in her mind.
The transition wasn't abrupt, it took her some time to realise she was
leaning on a tree in a forest. Far above her in the daytime sky floated an
oddly shaped half moon with an almost metallic sheen. She rose and found
she was wearing a larger version of her ancient junior high uniform for some
reason. Why in the world ...? Perhaps because of the age she had been when
she first met Chrysolite, though at the time neither knew the other was more
than she seemed. Of course considering she'd broken Chrys's nose back then
that wasn't the best time to remember. Then again this could be some quirk of
her own subconscious and she could have arrived wearing anything ... or
nothing. This line of thought was interrupted by a rustle in the foliage.
A face emerged from the greenery and peered at her. It looked like a living
teddybear, one of the cutest things she had ever seen. Makoto smiled at it
and tried to gently encourage it to emerge. It looked quizzical and began
to step forward. Suddenly a stick cracked loudly and the bear vanished into
the undergrowth. Makoto whirled to see a young man in white who looked
vaguely familiar. He took his foot of the broken brush and somewhat
apologetically told her, "They're nowhere near as cute as they look. While
omnivores rather than carnivores I based them on the movie instead of the
cartoons so they see nothing cannibalistic about eating humans."
"My fault, I'm afraid. I strive for authenticity."
That rather puzzled Makoto, this was a dream wasn't it? You didn't
design them to order. In any event she seemed to have stumbled into someone
else's dreams by accident. "Uh ... sorry for the intrusion. I was looking
for someone and ..."
"You seek Chrysolite, do you not?"
"How do you know that?" Automatically Makoto fell into a defensive
posture. "Who are you?" Unruffled, the other raised a hand.
"Please, Kino Makoto there is no need to be alarmed. We are old
acquaintances though while I have often seen you pass through my domain you
have rarely glimpsed me. I am also in your debt for your aid long ago."
"I do know you from somewhere but if this is just a dream ..."
He shook his head and gently chided, "There is no such thing as just a
dream. At least not when you are monarch of this realm. I am ruler of all
you survey though you might know me best had I manifested as a winged horse
with a golden horn."
"You're the Pegasus?"
"I was, among other forms. Though this is my true appearance and my name
"Oh." It belatedly occured to Makoto that if this was the King of the
Dreaming she might be trespassing on his realm. "Ah ... sorry to barge in,
your majesty but ..."
"Please, none of that. All are welcome here and I have no need for
formality. Particularly with all I owe the Senshi."
"Thank you. Helios, I don't mean to seem rude but ..."
"But you came here seeking Chrysolite, I quite understand. She is nearby
and will be glad to see you." He hesitated a moment then added, "May I walk
with you until you two meet. I would welcome the chance to talk to you of
Makoto wasn't sure she wanted the company but had the feeling this could
be important. "Of course."
"Excellent, this way please." Side by side the two entered a path that
had opened in the forest. Makoto marvelled at the surroundings, were it not
for the fact she knew she was dreaming she would have sworn this place was
"You created this?"
"In a sense. In truth I create nothing but merely reshape what already
exists. Dreamers are the ones who created and maintain this plane of
"I see, sort of ... but why create a forest filled with flesh eating
"I went a little overboard with the authenticity, I'm afraid. You see
I shaped these particular surroundings for Chrys's benefit. It's lifted from
some ancient movies she enjoyed. The forest moon of Endor with the halfbuilt
Deathstar in orbit ..."
"STAR WARS! That's where I've seen all this before. Chrys mentioned she
was a fan when I asked if she was obsessive about any old media like so many
of ... you called her Chrys?" Helios chuckled.
"We have known each other a very long time but we are merely old friends.
You need not concern yourself, she has no interest in me or any other man
deeper that that. I am not in any sense your competition." Makoto felt a
blush coming on.
"It's not like that ..."
"Please Makoto, if I may call you that ..." the redfaced Senshi nodded
her assent. "As I started to say never apologise for love. It strikes us
in the most unexpected forms." She still looked embarrassed so he added,
"For example long ago I fell in love with a girl who was far from being a
woman but seemed wise beyond her years. A child who was not even born until
a few years ago." He looked wistful and Makoto made the obvious connection.
"You called her Chibi-Usa back then. When I met her I was losing touch
with my humanity, I had lived too long in dreams. She reawakened that and
gave me sanctuary from my enemies. It is truly so surprising that I fell in
love with her?"
"Back then ... then you knew that she was from the future?"
"She told me that long ago. Told me many things that she told to no
other. Please do not look so concerned. I have no intention of interfering
in a manner that would cause a time paradox."
"Glad to hear it." Then Makoto frowned, "How about in ways that don't
cause a paradox?"
"This is the kingdom of dreams and I no longer venture forth into the
waking world. How could I influence events in your world?"
Makoto felt embarrassed again. "Obviously you couldn't. Sorry, I didn't
mean to imply otherwise."
"Rest assured I would never do anything to harm your princess. My most
earnest hope is that when she comes of age she shall rule over a golden era."
Makoto nodded. "Don't worry. Soon as we've beaten the Nemesians things
will go back to normal. You can count on the Senshi."
"I do, I do most strongly." With that he changed the topic. "It has
been some time since you last spoke to Chrysolite?"
"Yes. Usually she gets in touch with me but from the war news she's
been far too busy ..."
"Yes, that's part of the problem."
"How to put this ... Makoto, a war rages beyond your borders and
Chrysolite fights in the thick of it. Did you ever fear that perhaps it was
already too late?"
Makoto frowned. "No, I never considered that. I think ... well crazy
as it sounds I'm sure I'd know somehow if anything had happened to her."
Helios nodded. "You're quite right, you would have known. There is a
bond between your souls that would have let you feel her death. But the
darkness within is another matter. She feared contacting you in case that
drove you away."
"I don't understand."
"Do you remember your first meeting within the Dreaming."
"Sure. It was about two years ago ..." She trailed off as Helios shook
"No. You first met here almost a millenia ago. While Chrysolite's
battered body lay in hibernation her mind came to the Dreaming. After you
fell to the Acolytes you joined her here. Drawn together by her nascent
bond to you. A bond that was strengthened when you faced her unleashed id
and contained it."
"I'm sorry, I have no idea what you're talking about." Yet even as she
said it she felt a faint flicker of memory.
"I know." Helios paused, there was a small pond to their right. "May
I show you what I mean?" Makoto hesitated then nodded. Helios waved a hand
and the stagnant, algae filled water became a clear blue mirror. Then their
reflections vanished to be replaced by an image of Chrysolite floating in a
swimming pool enjoying a drink. An enjoyment abruptly curtailed when a
falling Sailor Jupiter landed on top of them. As Makoto watched she
inadvertantly triggered Chrysolite's fear of rejection and the youma vanished
into the depths of her own subconsciousness. Within the pool she watched her
younger self confront Chrysolite's unleashed dark side and contain it. Chrys
thanked her before falling into a deeper hibernation ending the dream and
returning Makoto to the material world.
Somewhat dumbstruck Makoto began, "I ... I don't remember this ..." Yet
it felt right somehow. Helios nodded again.
"Dreams are ephemeral things often forgotten on waking. Chrysolite does
not remember precisely what happened either but the bond between you was
forged by that encounter."
"But ... what exactly was that and what does that have to do with Chrys
avoiding me lately?" It hurt more than she had expected to say the last part.
"What you fought all those years ago was nothing less than her dark side
unleashed. While we all have our darker natures a youma's is most fearsome
indeed. You might notice she named it Twilight."
"But ... but that was just the name she used as a superheroine. Besides
she's a renegade not an ordinary youma, just like Cal and Ti. They don't have
"Everyone has a dark side, even Serenity herself. As for the others you
mentioned ..." An image appeared in the pool, a Calcite with a scarred face
and a cruel expression. "... do you remember the name, 'Overlord'?" Makoto
gulped. Oh yes, she remembered him. "That was a Calcite with his dark side
ascendant. One who gave in to his baser nature." He banished the image.
"But I could show you humans with hearts just as dark or darker. Even you
could become a monster if you chose to. It's all part of having free will."
"I take your point ... say how do you know about the Overlord? That all
happened in another dimension."
"A simple answer. This is the realm of dreams and I have seen him
within Calcite's nightmares. For ages the fear of becoming the Overlord was
his greatest nightmare."
"Oh ... you said was?"
"Yes, more recently his greatest nightmare seems to involve his wife
dressed as a nurse. Don't ask me why ... from the chuckling I gather it makes
sense to you?"
"Sorry but you had to be there." Her good humour vanished and Makoto
asked, "Look, interesting as all this is in the abstract I'd like to know what
this has to do with Chrys!"
"I'm sorry for talking around the matter but I thought the background
might help you understand this better." Helios took a deep breath. "Of late
as you know she has resumed her Twilight identity. But she has taken on more
than the name, by assuming the guise her dark side also began to emerge.
She has been struggling with it for some time and that is why she ceased to
contact you. Chrysolite's greatest fear is rejection and she was scared that
if you encountered her as Twilight you would turn from her."
Makoto stopped in midstride. "Are you telling me not to see her?"
Helios shook his head again. "No, she has managed to defeat Twilight but
wrestling with her inner demons has ... changed her. In truth she is not sure
of herself anymore and has returned to the Dreaming to explore her own
psyche." He sighed. "I fear she is becoming too self absorbed in the
process so I welcome your arrival. It might keep her from vanishing into her
own naval. Ahhh ... speak of the devil." Before them was a clearing full of
sunshine. In the shade of a large oak tree Chrysolite leaned against the
trunk wearing shorts, a UCLA T-shirt and a relaxed expression. She didn't
open her eyes at their approach but idly asked, "Who's your friend, Helios?"
"Chrys?" Chrysolite's eyes snapped open.
"Makoto! ... I mean Jupiter ... no, I mean Makoto ... ah ... well,
welcome to my corner of the Dreaming. Please come in, it's better to be on
this side of the Ewok wards. Hairy, little savages ... Excuse me Helios, I
appreciate this place but there's such a thing as overdoing the atmosphere."
"I've been thinking the same. Think I'll go give them an extra dose of
cute. If you'll excuse me?" Without waiting for an answer the dream king
stepped back into the forest and vanished from sight almost immediately. The
two women looked at one another and an awkward silent ensued. Makoto broke
it before things got uncomfortable.
"You're looking ... peaceful. At least you were when we arrived."
Chrysolite chuckled. "I was feeling peaceful but you can't blame me for
being a little startled. This is the first time you've sought me out." She
paused, "May I ask why you're here? I'm sorry I haven't visited lately but
my life has been somewhat hectic of late."
"So Helios said."
Chrysolite started to frown then shrugged. "Helios means well but he
can't resist the urge to meddle so he can try to make things better. That's
going to get him in trouble some day." She paused to collect her thoughts.
"He undoubtably told you I've had something of an internal civil war."
"Yes, he also said you had won it."
"I suppose I did though victory has it's price. I know I've changed
but it's hard to describe exactly how. I do know that in some way I feel
closer to my father. By which I mean the man Nephrite was before Beryl got
her hooks into him not the one he became. But even after that there were
hints of what he had been" Makoto nodded.
"From what I've heard he sounds like he was a good man."
Chrysolite did frown this time. "Could you elaborate on that? As I
recall it General Nephrite perished before you joined the Senshi so you never
met him in any form."
"Not in this life but during my first ... I haven't mentioned this before
but some time ago the diary of the last King of Jupiter was given to me along
"You've mentioned your mooncat before. Still chasing Artemis?"
"Yes but without success, Luna's watching him like a hawk." They
chuckled then Makoto resumed her explanation. "Arachne translated the
diary as I couldn't read the Jouvian script. Still can't actually, languages
aren't one of my strengths." She laughed a trifle nervously then continued,
"Anyway I was very surprised to learn that ..." She paused then rather
rapidly blurted, "ThatIwasengagedtoGuardianNephrite."
Chrys took a moment to work that out then looked surprised. "You were
engaged to my father?!"
"Evidentally. I was ... surprised to say the least but Arachne swore
her translation was accurate and she could confirm the fact of her own
"I see ... so how do you feel about this." Makoto shrugged.
"After the initial shock I don't think I felt anything about it. I'm not
Juno, I have few of her memories and they don't have much to do with Kino
Makoto. It's a bit like hearing about any tragic love story from history.
Sad but nothing that impacts who you are. Who Juno of Clan McCloud loved is
nothing to do with me. Maybe Nephrite was the great love of her life but
there's no reason to think he was mine. If we had met we'd have been nothing
more than enemies. Who I was isn't who I am! My life and my love is my
"Does it trouble you that he was my father?" Chrysolite's voice was
neutral. It was impossible to tell what she was feeling. Makoto thought
about what she had said and frowned.
"Why should it? He was Ti and Cal's father too and that's never had any
significance to them or me."
"Ah yes, a friend's parentage is irrelevant. All that truly matters is
who they are. For despite what some believe the sins of the father are not
visited upon the next generation." Makoto wasn't quite sure what to make of
this, Chrysolite seemed to be in a philosophical mood. In fact her whole
manner was much more ... well serene than Makoto had grown to expect. She was
wondering what to say next when Chrysolite broke the growing silence.
"I'm glad to hear my father isn't a barrier between us but you still
haven't answered my question. Why did you suddenly seek me out? I'd like
to believe you simply got tired of waiting for me to visit you but from your
demeanor I sense another reason."
Makoto sighed, "You're very perceptive. I ... we've been meeting via
dreams off and on for quite a while now. Well, not quite a while by immortal
standards but it's felt like I've known you a lot longer ... I guess from what
Helios was saying I have ... oh hell, I'm babbling."
"It's alright. Take as long as you want, I'll wait."
"That's part of the problem ... look for some time now I've realized that
you have ... feelings for me that go deeper than friendship." Quickly,
"There's nothing wrong with that! That's part of who you are and perfectly
natural! It's just that ... Chrys I feel ... I'm not sure how I feel about
you. I've got no problem with being friends, I like you a lot. It's just I
... I don't know if I can ever love you the way you want me to ... I ..." She
trailed off uncertain what to say next and stared at the ground. Then felt
Chrysolite take her hand.
"It's alright Makoto. If your friendship is all you can offer that's
more than sufficent."
Makoto blinked and looked at her. With wonder she exclaimed, "You're
serious!?" Chrysolite smiled and nodded.
"Is that so hard to believe? Once, indeed until very recently, I would
have settled for nothing less than becoming your partner but that presumption
limited me. One thing I do know is that we are soulbound and without you I
am incomplete. I need you but more than that I need your happiness. If you
feel you cannot be comfortable with a physical love I accept that and ask if
I can be your sister?"
Makoto looked thunderstruck prompting Chrysolite to ask, "What are you
feeling right now?"
"I ... I don't know. Maybe relief, maybe a bit of disappointment. I
feel ... numb. I was expecting this big confrontational scene but you've ...
I really don't know what to feel." Chrysolite smiled and patted her on
"Took the wind out of your sails? Seriously, I'm not about to turn into
some vegan, fakir type babbling about purity and giving up the pleasure of
the flesh to seek enlightenment. I would be delighted to be your lover but I
don't demand it. If you want to just be friends I can accept that. As long
as I'm part of your life in some way then I'll be content." Then Chrysolite
frowned slightly, "Though one thing does puzzle me. I thought you had come
here to tell me which way you wanted our relationship but you still haven't
made up your mind. So I'm still wondering why you suddenly decided to seek me
out when nothing's really changed. Well, I've changed but you didn't know
that." For the first time she looked uncertain. How sensitive was the link
between them? "Did you?"
"No, I'm afraid not." Makoto tried to collect her thoughts, remembering
why she had come here in the first place. Taking a deep breath she began.
"Chrys ... I'm ... likely going to be out of circulation for a while. Scratch
likely, before too long I'm definitely going to be unable to meet you until
who knows when."
Chrys frowned, "Makoto, real as all this looks you must know this is
just a dream we're sharing?"
"Yes, but I don't even know if I'll be able to dream." At the other's
puzzled look she explained, "There's this trick Senshi can do where we draw
power from our worlds without focusing it into an attack. We can channel raw,
unfocused mana and it can be used as a power source. If we do it short term
then there's no problem but if you have to do it twenty-four hours a day
without a break then that's another matter. Some time ago we worked out how
to do this, it's sort of like putting yourself into a trance. Some of the
mana sustains you while the rest flows off to power whatever you're drawing it
for. Basically your metabolism drops almost to zero, you barely even breathe
and your awareness fades with it. Sort of like that hibernation you were
shocked into. The only way to communicate with or wake up a Senshi in this
state is a very powerful telepathic signal. If there's more than one Senshi
combining their power flow then their minds merge and you create a sort of
group consciousness. But it doesn't exactly think, more reacts. I'm ...
going to be a part of that with Rei, Ami and Mina."
"I see ..." after a pause Chrys asked . "I take it you can't tell me
why you're doing this?" Makoto shook her head. "Didn't think so. So you
came here to say goodbye?"
"Sort of. Chrys, it's not fair to make you wait for me. Not only do I
not know how long I'll be in the link but I still don't know what I'm going
to decide once I'm back. Maybe you should find someone else ..."
"I'll wait. Someday you'll be back and I'll be there for you. However
you want me."
Makoto's eyes narrowed. "No way I can convince you otherwise, is there."
"Nope." Cheerfully Chrys announced, "Rooted as a Gardinel or stubborn as
a mule to put it in terrestrial terms."
Makoto sighed. "If that's how you want it ..." Chrys nodded. "Your
choice but you are in the middle of a warzone. Will you promise me that if
you meet someone you feel something for you won't deny yourself the chance
because of blind commitment to me?"
Chrysolite hesitated and studied Makoto, "If that's really how you want
"Yes and don't try and change my mind. You're not the only stubborn one."
"Well, if it'll make you happy ..." Makoto shook her head.
"Chrys, this about your happiness, not mine. That's what's important
"Very well, I solemnly promise if I run across an attractive woman I'll
drag her into the bushes and ravish her." Makoto's jaw dropped then she
laughed and playfully punched Chrys in the shoulder.
"You hentai!" Chrysolite grinned.
"Hey, it was getting far too serious of late. As for you and me how
about we say we're friends for now then see how things develop after you get
"I'd like that." With that the two of them hugged then broke apart.
Chrys took Makoto's hands. "So long as you're here for the rest of the night
how about filling me in on what's new in Crystal Tokyo. But just the gossip,
none of the depressing war stuff. I can get enough of that in the waking
world." Makoto grinned.
"Deal. Okay, you remember Margrave?" Chrys nodded. "Well she's
cutting her own swath through my staff officers ..."
Undetected in the surrounding foilage Helios smiled. Chrysolite had
snapped out of her self absorption and Makoto looked like a huge weight had
been lifted from her shoulders. Everything was going fine, he wasn't needed
here. As he withdrew he wondered how their relationship would proceed from
now on. Whichever way it went it should be interesting but more importantly
his old friend would be happy either way. Idly he wondered if the other
Senshi were content with their lot. He knew of another elder who currently
lacked a partner. Like Chrys she had once been deeply involved with a
spiritual quest though she had largely abandonned it for more material
matters. Still Sailor Mars did not seem to regret her choices and was usually
happy in the pursuit of her duties. Usually. Though on occasion duty just
Earlier Makoto had been thinking she could contact Rei without disrupting
her personal life. She had been wrong but it was a reasonable assumption.
Makoto had just naturally assumed Rei was either in her office working late
on last minute security concerns (or more likely triple checking everything)
for the following day or had returned to her apartment to unwind. Neither
assumption was correct. Rei was not in her office nor her apartment within
the Palace. She had left to spend the night elsewhere.
Some distance from the great Place of Crystal Tokyo was a small grassy
hill surrounded by centuries old trees that had been planted and nurtured by
Sailor Mars. On top of the hill stood a modest three story building modelled
after a temple that had once stood there. The Hikawa Shrine itself had been
destroyed a long time ago and never restored. After the founding of Crystal
Tokyo Rei had planned to rebuild it but found herself oddly reluctant when it
came to getting started. After much soul searching she had come to realise
that she did not consider herself a Shinto priestess anymore. Perhaps in many
ways she hadn't done so for years and it had taken the loss of the shrine to
make her realise that. Receiving a heavily Christian education while training
to be a priestess had given her a wide perspective on comparative religions.
This, combined with the many things she had seen throughout her Senshi career
and the odd flash of her first life, had made her decide that no existing
religion could be considered the one true way though perhaps all had some
facet of the truth. If the whole truth was knowable by mortal minds she had
no idea but she hoped to find out. After the Great Darkness there were many
questions she wanted answered. Though most could be reduced to simply, "Why?"
So she had began her spiritual quest centuries earlier. A journey she
never expected to complete but felt was perhaps more important than the
destination. Of course every path had its ruts and potholes and she had left
it more than once. Indeed the past few decades as on many other times in
the past she had abandoned it in favour of more material matters. But tonight
she had put aside being Sailor Mars, Director of Crystal Tokyo Internal
Security to become Hino Rei, seeker after truths once again. So for the first
time in almost forty years she had returned to her home.
The building was divided into three floors, each with a different
purpose. The top floor was living quarters, furnished in traditional Japanese
style and kept spotless by a longtime cleaning service. The ground floor was
the only one open to the public. It was a non denominational meditation hall.
The fire that burned at one end held no significance beyond what the observer
chose to bring to it. Many came to it seeking answers within themselves.
Some left feeling wiser, others feeling cheated. Rei made no judgements and
gave no direction to those who came. All she guaranteed was a place to begin
seeking their path. If they found it and what they did with it was their
concern. Besides it had been some time since her spiritual side reasserted
itself. In fact safeguarding Crystal Tokyo and Serenity had been her prime
concern for most of the past millennium. A rewarding duty and a spiritual
pursuit in its own way.
The hall had been empty when Rei arrived. She hadn't lingered, instead
after a brief look at the upper floor she had retired to the second. This
floor was a single room bare of furnishing but the walls were far from empty.
They were covered with shrines. Many to men and women she had known well,
others she barely knew. All shared one thing. These shrines were dedicated
to those whose courage and dedication to Crystal Tokyo made her feel they
deserved not to be forgotten.
Rei paid her respects at each one with sincerity. This was less a matter
of religion than of honour and tradition. If Rei had not founded she had
certainly lead the neo-traditionalist movement of Crystal Tokyo. Unlike the
Nipponese traditionalists who flourished outside of Crystal Tokyo the
neo-traditionalists had been much more selective in honouring the past.
Instead of blindly embracing it they discarded much that conflicted with
contemporary ideals. Excessive militarism, second place status of women and
casting out those whose ancestors had held supposedly unclean occupations had
all fallen by the wayside. The end result was either a strengthened way of
life or culture-lite. It all depended on your perspective. Rei held the
first view and privately thought the other Senshi had become excessively
westernized. Or excessively silly depending on who you were talking about.
Of course given Crystal Tokyo's influence on the world and the many changes
abroad over the centuries westernized no longer had the same meaning that
it had in her youth.
After paying her respects at all the other shrines Rei stopped before
the largest. She knelt there longer than she had at the others and might have
sat there all night had she not sensed someone downstairs. After a while
curiosity got the better of her and she headed for the stairwell.
There was little light in the hall except for the flickering one from the
fire. Rei made out the silhouette before it and was very surprised to
recognise it. What was she doing here? Intrigued by the novelty Rei silently
crossed the floor separating her from the other woman.
She was halfway there when she saw the other twitch slightly. Very
interesting, she should not have been able to get this close unnoticed. Her
guest had actually been deep enough in meditation to dull her senses. Not
what she had expected. Without waiting for an invitation she sat down beside
her. Neither acknowledged the other and both fixed their eyes on the fire
burning before them. Time passed unnoticed or at least unremarked by either.
At length Rei decided to speak.
"Don't you work nights, Margrave?"
The catwoman didn't look around. "I've already had my fun for tonight.
Henry's got no complaints even if he did think I was a bit on edge. Service
with a smile I always say. Makes sure you have a regular clientele."
Rei scowled as she made a connection. She sounded a little irritated as
she commented, "Can't you leave the military staff alone!"
"Relax, I was just snacking. A good nights sleep and he'll be back to
normal by morning." She decided not to add the, "probably".
A little snidely Rei gestured at the fire. "Thought you gave up
meditation a long time ago."
Margrave considered saying something sarcastic but some impulse made her
answer honestly. "I did. Unlike the saps who are looking for nirvana I just
use it occasionally to try and ... balance myself. Usually I manage just fine
without it but right now I'm a little edgy."
"Why?" Margrave wasn't privy to anything beyond Pluto's bare bones
warning and Ti swore she hadn't let anything slip. Margrave snorted.
"Are you kidding? You think I couldn't smell the worry Demand's little
offer stirred up? You could cut the pheromones with a knife! Hell, they
were so thick I'm surprised everybody else couldn't scent them." After a
pause she added, "And when you guys get nervous us mere mortals get very
Rei considered asking how a 1000 year old succubus qualified as a mere
mortal but settled for a noncommital, "Oh?"
"Yeah! Especially considering the Senshi have never lost ..."
"Is it. Is it really?" Margrave gave a thin smile. "Oh you've had
setbacks, lost battles, lost people you cared about (Rei hid her wince), been
captured, been injured and even died on occasion but you've never actually
lost. When the smoke clears and the final bell rings the Senshi are always
the ones still standing while your enemies are either dust in the wind or have
come around to your point of view. Every time! So if you get scared then
several tons of grade A shit must be about to hit the fan! Debate that if
Rei almost said, "Except that most of those times everything hinged on
one special person. And she's the one we're about to lose." Almost. Instead
she said, "None of which means we don't get nervous. We have to win every
time. Our enemies only have to win once. It's been touch and go more times
than I care to think about."
"That's your story and you're sticking to it?"
"Yes." Margrave just shrugged and returned to watching the fire.
They sat there in silence again for a time. This time it was Margrave
who broke the peace. "By the way, what brought you out here? You don't smell
nervous anymore, just resolved with a tinge of depression."
"I came here because I felt like it. It has been too long since I paid
my respects to ... to our honoured dead." A half truth and Margrave saw
right through it.
"A thousand years and you still haven't got over him?" Rei shook her
head. Margrave looked quizzical. "Couldn't you ask Serenity to loan you
Rei didn't rise to the bait. She sounded perfectly calm as she
answered, "As you well know we're talking about Yuuchiro. You could at least
credit me with the sense to tell a teenage crush from the real thing."
Margrave shrugged, "Whoever it was you should be over it by now." She
felt strong fingers grasp her chin and turn her face towards Rei's. The other
looked in her eyes then spoke.
"I don't spend my days weeping over the past nor do I deny myself other
lovers. But you never forget your first love."
Margrave brushed Rei's hand away. The Senshi didn't resist but didn't
look away either. Irritated the youma told her, "I wouldn't know."
Rei's expression changed from stern to almost pitying. "Margrave, you
can lie to the others but not to me. I've been inside your mind ... not the
nicest place but I've been worse ones. I know. I've always known."
"Uhh ...!" Margrave found herself at a loss for words. It was some time
before she composed herself enough to say, "I always wondered. I was afraid
you'd find out when you read my mind but you never said anything. I thought
you must have overlooked it because it didn't fit your expectations. That and
I buried it pretty deep ... Why didn't you ever use it against me?" Rei
"Margrave, only you would think love was a weakness to be exploited."
"But I do. We both know it would have ruined my reputation if that ever
came out. The ultimate blackmail. Why didn't you use it? I would have."
"I know. That's the main reason I didn't."
"Not even after you picked up my libido ...?" Margrave trailed off at
the expression on Rei's face.
"What happened was a result of my carelessness and overconfidence rather
than any malice on your part. Which is why I didn't do a lot worse than make
your little secret known."
"Ah." They fell quiet again and tried, with very limited success, to
meditate. At length Rei asked, "Are you ever going to tell him ... ?"
"NO!" For a moment Rei thought the catwoman had said her piece but she
continued after a pause. "It's not the right time yet. Someday he'll tire of
her and they'll break up for real and stay apart. Then it'll be time to try
again. I'm luckier than you, I get a second chance."
Rei mentally shook her head and thought, "You tell yourself that but in
your heart you know it's too late. You had your chance and you lost it as
surely as I did. In some ways I'm luckier, I don't have to see Yuu with
another woman and pretend it doesn't tear me apart. Yes, in some ways I'm
luckier ... I miss him." Out loud she said, "You don't really know what
you've shared until you lose it. By then it's too late and all you can think
about is everything you should have said."
Margrave hesitated about agreeing to even this much but as there was no
one else present she chanced a nod. With that the conversation ceased and the
two sat there feeling an odd solidarity for the first time in a millennia.
These were, Rei reflected, truly days of miracle and wonder. Who could have
predicted this? Indeed if they could share a moment like this then there
was truly hope for everyone.
Titanite cradled her daughter and felt the three year old relax and slip
back into sleep. Next to her Topass waited quietly in case he was needed.
Hem-chan had startled them both awake by waking up shrieking from a terrible
nightmare. At least Ti hoped it was a nightmare.
To date Hematite had shown no signs of developing paranormal abilities.
Indeed apart from greater strength and coordination than the average three
year old she was completely normal. Actually for a half youma she was
perfectly normal, her cousin Alan had the same abilities. However as both
her parents had genetically derived powers Ti would be very surprised it
Hem-chan didn't display any. Particularly considering most of her children
with purely human fathers had shown some para-ability, minor or major. In
most cases these abilities had manifested later in life when they were better
equipped to learn to control them and that was how they both hoped Hematite
would develop. Ti muttered a prayer to any deity who might be listening that
her daughter wasn't coming down with a bad case of precognition.
Though it would several years before she was sure Ti would eventually
realise Hematite could not see the future. She had simply picked up on her
mother's distress and this had given her a nightmare.
With Topass's help Ti eased their daughter back into bed. He was, she
thought again, very good at taking care of Hem-chan. He would have let her
sleep and handle this himself but she had insisted on getting up. She was
worried that she wasn't spending nearly enough time with her daughter.
Certainly they spent nowhere near as much time together as he did with
Hematite. She was putting in long hours at her office keeping civilian morale
up and broadcasting what they could to the occupied territories. After the
Embassy closed and the Nemesians pulled out Topass found himself unemployed.
Not that he resented becoming a house husband. Far from it, he enjoyed the
change. Besides it simplified things in some ways. While he had walked away
from the Black Moon Family and committed himself to his new family and Crystal
Tokyo he was ambivalent about taking a position in the Palace. Not that he
had regretted his decision or been hesitant about providing what little
tactical and strategic knowledge he had about his former people but he didn't
want to become officially part of it. War was inevitable and Crystal Tokyo
definitely had the moral high ground. None of which changed the fact that he
had relatives among the opposing forces. Everyone respected his decision
(except perhaps Ferrite) and no one was about to force him to take up arms
against his family members. Besides, Ti knew, that if the war came to Crystal
Tokyo he'd be on the front lines putting himself between the invaders and
Ti gazed down on her sleeping daughter. Her only unplanned pregnancy,
an event she had never had to worry about before lacking a youma partner.
Even with the potential for a genetic match between youma and nemesian the
odds were still several hundred thousand to one against the union having
issue. Except that sometimes the longshot paid off and probability could be
a little odd in Crystal Tokyo. A real miracle child. Once she got over the
initial shock she had never regretted Hematite's conception and birth. How
could Garnet think she was an abomination and blot on the clan honour to be
expunged by any means necessary? There was no shortage of hate in the world
but how did it happen? All these centuries and she still didn't understand.
At least youma had grown up under the influence Metallia and Beryl. You
could understand why most were born evil. Humans didn't have that excuse yet
there was no shortage of those who would have fit nicely into the Dark
Kingdom. Yet why? No matter how terrible they became once they were all as
innocent as Hem-chan. How did they ever end up so twisted?
She felt Topass's arms around her. His instincts were good, he always
knew she needed distraction. Many considered the age gap between them
insurmountable. To both of them it was simply irrelevant. She let him lead
back to their bedroom. Again his instincts were true. Her knew she wanted
comfort more than sex and simply held her as she relaxed and feel asleep.
Shortly afterwards he joined her in sleep and a sense of peace settled over
Princess Usagi, heir to the throne of Crystal Tokyo and better known
around the palace as the imperious "Small Lady", looked far from regal in her
bunny pajamas. Though she had left her curtains open the light from the
breaking dawn didn't wake her. She also hadn't stirred earlier when her
parents entered the room to watch over her. Like her mother she could sleep
through an earthquake undisturbed. She did toss and turn as something in her
dreams disturbed her and mumbled something they couldn't make out. Luna-P
was resting on a bedpost and its ariel snapped to attention as it awaited a
command. However no instructions followed and it returned to standby mode.
Instead the Princess's hands shifted to her chest and rested on the spot where
the concealed medallion lay. As she touched it she relaxed and the frown left
her face. She slumbered on with a smile on her face as her parents moved back
to the doorway. They could probably have talked right over her bed without
waking their daughter but they didn't want to take the chance. Let her sleep
peacefully while she could. Her life would become far too hectic very soon.
Serenity sighed and murmured, "She still seems too young!" But she knew
that was because she saw her now with a mother's eyes. The reality was she
looked identical to the pushy little brat who had barged into her teenage
self's life. When Pluto appeared on Usagi-chan's last birthday to give her
a special present she had known time was short. She remembered her daughter
had been very surprised to see Pluto materialize before her mother. Usagi had
thought she was the only one who knew about the mysterious Senshi who kept
appearing to her alone. Though even if Rei hadn't kept Serenity informed her
daughter's "I've got a secret" grin would have tipped her off.
It was all a little annoying. She couldn't blame Setsuna for making
herself Usagi's imaginary friend. After all when the time came Usagi had to
trust her without reservations. It was just a bit galling that she hadn't
consulted with her about it. Though to be fair Serenity had to admit that
perhaps that approach worked better than introducing herself as an old friend
of her mother's. While there was no shortage of Senshi sworn to Serenity and
by extension to her daughter this way Usagi could think she had her own
personal Senshi. That had delighted her. Serenity also had to wonder just
what had Pluto told her. Rei hadn't been able to eavesdrop on their
conversations. None of which really mattered because, Serenity realised, all
these reminiscences were her way of avoiding thinking about what was probably
going to happen today. Her daughter was likely to embark on a danger filled
journey and she could do nothing to prevent it.
She felt Endymion's arm on her shoulders and leaned against him. He
could always read her moods. He didn't say anything, all it would be were
empty platitudes and his own feelings said all that was needed. They had a
duty to fulfill and however unpleasant it was they owed it to everyone to
fulfill it. Or else watch everything they had built vanish into oblivion.
She knew all this and yet this was their daughter. Their own futures were
exceedingly grim but they paled in comparison to what she must endure. It
No, it wasn't fair. It was merely necessary. She was Queen of Crystal
Tokyo, with all the responsibilities that entailed. Once she would have
wailed and cried and tried to avoid those responsibilities but that was a
long time ago. A small smile formed as she realised that was exactly where
her daughter was going. Looking back she could see why Usagi wouldn't be
very impressed by her teenage self. At least not at first. Not until she
learned to see past the crybaby exterior to the heart within. That brought to
mind other thoughts about those days which perplexed her a little. Perhaps
her husband had an answer.
"Endy-chan?" Endymion had also been recalling the past. The nickname
reminded him that once upon a time she had always called him Mamo-chan no
matter what the circumstances. Now the only time she didn't address him as
Endymion was when they were alone. Naturally a royal court needed a certain
sense of decorum but there were times ... Shaking off the though he asked,
"What is it, Sery-chan?"
"Do you think we've spoiled her?"
That was a tricky question. "Not really. I don't think we've overdone
it ..." He hesitated as it occurred to him that some people would consider
giving a child a toy with shape shifting and mind control abilities a bit
excessive. Still they had to give her that and she didn't misuse it ... well
not very much ... actually it was lucky so many people in the palace could
mind shield. "Well, maybe a little but that was probably inevitable", he
conceded. "She's certainly used to getting her own way and having adults
defer to her but that was probably inevitable for a princess. We both know
that under all that she's a wonderful kid thought it's going to take us ...
them ... Usagi and Mamoru a while to be sure about that."
Serenity chuckled. "Ah yes, Sailor Moon often thought Neo-Queen Serenity
must be a rotten mother if this was how her daughter turned out. Then she'd
remember who she would grow up to be and get depressed." They both laughed
quietly and felt a longing for those days when they were young and life was so
carefree. At least it had been if you overlooked the part about having to
save the world at least once a year. Everything always looked better with
hindsight and they had no shortage of days to look back on. Besides by any
biological standard they were both still young. Endymion felt her tense.
"It's all right." She looked up, her eyes glistened and she smiled sadly
but she remained in control. "Everything has a price in one form or another.
It's time for us to pay the one for our centuries of peace and prosperity.
I accept that and I know we can rely on everyone's efforts will bring us
through this alright. I know you feel the same." It wasn't a question but
nodded anyway. "It's just ... I can't say a proper goodbye to her. When I
go to meet Demand she'll ask me if I'll be home soon and I'll tell her I'll
be with her again as soon as I can. I can't say more than that without
lying to her and I won't do that."
"Nor can I but you don't need to. She knows she's got your love and
that's more important than any farewell you could give her. That's what will
sustain her though all her troubles. The thought of coming back to you
"No my love, just this once you're wrong. The thought of both of us will
be what sustains her and lets her fight off Wiseman's control in the end.
You're as important to her as I am. Don't you dare forget that."
"As you command." With that he kissed her.
After they broke for air (which demonstrated their paranormal lung
capacities) Endymion saw the glint in Serenity's eyes. Without waiting for
any more hints he swept her into his arms and carried her back to their
bedroom. He said nothing except to call her "Usako" for the first time in
centuries. She called him Mamo-chan and both names felt oddly appropriate for
the first time in ages.
Unaware of all this Princess Usagi slumbered on. Her hands continued to
caress her hidden treasure, the necklace she wore morning, noon and night.
Puu had told her that she must always carry the timekey. She knew that this
was the most wonderful present she would ever get. Much better that Luna-P
or all the cake and candy in the world. It was the most precious thing
imaginable. Puu had told her that as long as she had this she could help her
parents if they were ever in trouble and sworn her oath upon it. That was why
she never took it off, even in the bath. Nothing was more important than her
parents and if they ever needed her help she must be ready.
A hand ruffled her hair but she didn't awaken though she did murmur,
"Mommy." Sailor Pluto smiled and stepped back from the bed. Everything was
as ready as it could be. Soon, in the subjective chronological sense, they
would be past the potential paradox and the timeline would be secure. Then,
with her greatest task accomplished, she would be free to see about settling
some personal matters. But for now she must return to her lonely vigil at
the timegate. She took another look at the sleeping child and decided there
must be something in the air. Her eyes seemed to be watering.
"Be strong little one. You have many trials ahead but you will not be
alone and that will let you endure. Friends make all the difference as I can
tell you as one who has been lonely for a very long time. I didn't meet you
purely to complete the time circle. I wanted to see you, I welcome any break
from the monotony of limbo. Thankfully the old legends that Sailor Pluto
must be alone forever are as false as the ones that say Saturn must destroy
the world. We will meet again Small Lady. Be careful."
As silently as she had entered Pluto vanished. Princess Usagi shifted in
her sleep and began to dream about Puu. It was a good dream in which Puu
stopped hiding in the shadows and joined the other Senshi at a party for
her. Everyone was happy and she was the center of attention, as she should
be. But more important everyone special to her was together and having fun.
The gloom that had fallen over them was gone and things were as they had been
before the bad black moon people came.
It was long after the sun had risen when Princess Usagi awoke and yawned.
Much as she resented waking up she felt good. She remembered having a great
dream and it had left her feeling that today would be perfect. She just knew
this would be a day to remember. Which, it cannot be denied, was certainly
true. She would remember this day for the rest of her life.
All of Sailor Moon Expanded is based on the animated version of the works of
Naoka Takeuchi to whom we're all indebted. That said we have added a few
original characters some of whom appeared in this story. Here goes:
Starhunter/Toma (Tom) Endo-Bradington created by Ben Harrison. He originally
appeared during SMR in "Hunter's Moon".
Chrysolite created by Berk' Watkins. Check out "Zodiac Grand Tour" for
more about her.
Arachne created by Andy Combs and Doug Helm. If you're wondering where the
third mooncat came from check out "Jupiter's Orbit" by Frank Barr.
Topass created by Andy Combs. He was first seen in "Crystal Renegades"
Titanite, Calcite and Margrave created by your humble author
If you want to know what happened the day of the peace conference you'll have
to wait until I write, "Zero Hour".
Until next time
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