Sailor Moon Expanded

Sailor Moon Expanded presents Azurite

My Dinner With Ferrite
by Mark Latus

Crystal Tokyo -  Summer of 2153 AD
     I told him seven and that passed half an hour ago.  Traditionally it's
the man who's on time and the woman who breezes in fashionably late.  Still he
was reluctant to agree in the first place.  Maybe he's stood me up.  Well,
it's not as if this was a real date.  But it would have been polite to call    
and cancel.
     I take another look around the empty restaurant and wonder if anyone else
is dining here tonight.  Probably not, "Renegades Haven" is probably the least
popular restaurant in Crystal Tokyo.  Making a reservation was a waste of
time.  I'm the first customer all evening.  Maybe not, main reason I did that
was to check that a certain furry nuisance wasn't dropping by.  She brings
some of clients here, the ones she doesn't like too much, so she can watch 
them struggle through the menu.  She does drop by on her own fairly regularly  
but more for lunch as she tends to work nights.  I really hope she doesn't
show up tonight.  I don't need the added aggravation.
     Noriko, the only waitress (not that this place needs more) is hovering 
nearby.  She'd probably be over here chatting if she didn't know I was
expecting someone.  Instead she's alternating between watching the door and 
seeing if I need anything.  She's happy to see one of her very few regulars.  
It makes a change from just sitting around the restaurant all night.  Besides 
we're all good tippers.  Working here isn't for anyone who enjoys crowds.    
     Not that there's anything wrong with the food here.  At least not in  
my opinion.  Problem is very few people share that opinion.  A restaurant 
specializing in Dark Kingdom cuisine was bound to have problems.  For one
thing you start with a very limited client base.  There's only five of us
left ... well technically there's six but only five of us eat.  Which reminds
me, whatever happened to Magnesite?  Must ask Cal next time I see him.  Maybe 
he donated the crystal to a museum or something.  Wonder if they ever had him 
on exhibit here?
     I guess I've been coming here about 30 years now.  Normally with Pyrite
but tonight I'm supposed to be meeting someone tall, dark and handsome.  I
asked Pyr if he had any problems with that, guess I was hoping he'd be a bit
jealous.  He said if I could trust him all for all the late nights he's put in
at the labs with Ami then he could trust me for tonight.  It's good that he's
got such confidence in me.  But I can't help thinking I'd have enjoyed a
little jealousy.  Hmmm, wonder if he was trying to see if he could spark a   
bit himself?  If so, Ami's a lousy choice.  I know her well enough that I'd 
never suspect her of getting involved in an affair.  She's the only one of the 
senshi the tabloids can never get any dirt on.  Conventional wisdom is she
either lives like a nun or she's very discrete.  I happen to know it's the   
latter.  Far as I know outside of the Palace and a few of us at CTU her 
marriage remains secret.  They both prefer it that way.  The Hunters like to
appear completely independent of Crystal Tokyo.  That's one of the reasons 
they aren't allowed to operate in Crystal Tokyo.  The other is Mars heads
Internal Security and doesn't want outsiders showing her how to protect her 
city.  Besides she has little enough to do that she's not going to let 
anyone else steal her thunder.  Which is fine by the Hunters.  No place on
Earth needs their services less than CT and it's a lot easier for them to 
operate if the other members of the Reunited Nations don't think Crystal Tokyo 
is running them from behind the scenes.  Which (far as I know anyway) it isn't 
but that would be a whole lot harder to sell if it was public knowledge that 
Hunter Prime was married to a Senshi.  My musing is interrupted as I sense 
something.  Or rather someone.
     I pick him up just before the door swings open.  Not difficult at this
range despite the ambient magic of Crystal Tokyo as he's not trying to mask 
his aura any more than I am.  Noriko does the standard welcome routine and 
asks to take his coat, an offer he refuses.  So there he is, features a bit 
on the rugged side but still handsome.  The odd gray hair but apart from that 
you'd say he's in his early thirties.  Still in this city appearance is a very 
unreliable indicator of age and who knows that more than me?  The fact he 
shows any signs of aging is a little surprising given the youthful appearance 
of the royal court.  But according to Ti for some reason he was unable to gain 
immortality from the ginzuishou.  I don't think she knew many of the details.  
I believe he's in his late fifties but I wouldn't swear to it.  While he may 
not be immortal he ages a lot slower than the average human though faster than 
Cal's offspring.  There's no sign of age in his stride.
     His clothing's a little odd.  A black trenchcoat over a black tuxedo.
As this is hardly a formal affair I can only guess he fell in love that combo
back in his Trenchcoat Mask days.  No sign of the mask he wore back then.
Then again now his identity's a matter of record so there's nothing to hide.  
The same way Ti ditched hers when Sailor Polaris didn't need a secret 
identity anymore.  Or perhaps he's just feeling a little nostalgic for the 
twentieth century.  Still when it comes to nostalgia he's got no shortage of 
times to choose from.  I should count myself lucky he didn't show up wearing 
plate armour or a homespun tunic.  Noriko shows him over.  
     "Dr. Azurite."  His voice is a bit on the cool side.  He doesn't sound 
particularly happy to be here.  Damn.  When I heard he was back in CT from 
whatever it is he does outside the city I asked Ti to arrange a meeting.
She had a word with Serenity who had a word with Endymion.  Who had a word
with his spiritual, if no longer physical, cousin.  Looks like he's here
purely by royal order.  Pity, I was hoping he'd at least be curious.
     "Please have a seat Mr. Ferrite."
     "Just Ferrite if you don't mind."
     "Only if you drop the doctor."
     "As you like."  He seats himself and Noriko hands him a menu then 
inquires if he'd like anything from the bar.  He's about to then hesitates
and looks at my half empty glass.  "If I might ask, what is that?"
     "Bloodwine.  It's a variant of tharouve, one of our mushroom based wines.  
It's equally suited for both the human and youma palate."
     He hesitates a moment then mutters, "When in Rome ... I'll take a glass 
of that."
     "Make that a litre decanter, Noriko."  She nods and heads for the bar.
Ferrite glances at the menu and I sip some more of the green liquor.  This is
a 2104 vintage.  It's all right but the terran grown 'shrooms never quite
match the Kingdom variety.  Somewhere in the kitchen is a climate controlled
safe holding the last five bottles of the authentic blend.  There were six
until recently but we cracked one to celebrate Cal and Mina's remarriage.  In
retrospect I think we might have been a little hasty.  Time will tell I guess.
     Noriko returns with the wine just as Ferrite looks up from the menu and
asks, "Is this for real?"
     Noriko nods as she refills my glass.  I imagine she's heard that a lot 
from people who just wander in here.  "In that case I need a little more time  
to think about this."  Noriko's probably heard that before many times.  
Although it's more likely that unprepared customers turn pale and bolt for 
the door.  He's very controlled but I think I caught a glimmer of interest
rather than revulsion.
     "I thought the cuisine's uniqueness appeal to you.  I hear you've got
a reputation as a gourmet."
     "Somewhat undeserved.  It's more that over my varied lifetimes I've had 
the chance to try every culture's foods.  As I can recall so much I keep    
comparing dishes to the versions I had a hundred, a thousand or two thousand
years ago.  People hear me and they think I'm an expert." 
     "In a sense you are, you must already have tasted more things than anyone 
else ever has or ever will.  Practice makes perfect."
     "Perhaps.  But through most of post Silver Millennium history gourmet 
cooking wasn't a priority."  After a moment he adds, "Nor was hygiene."  
     Curious I ask, "Are there any dishes from before the fall that you miss
and can't get these days."
     He laughs.  "Hundreds.  Every world had it's own unique plants and 
wildlife and, being ruled by humans, lots of ways to cook them."  He sighs, 
"I would kill to be able to try Neptunian ghost squid again."
     "Given your ... circumstances unless they're extinct you'll get another
chance someday.  Eventually humanity will reclaim and repopulate the solar
     He scowls slightly.  "That isn't going to happen anytime soon.  Crystal
Tokyo should be leading the way.  Instead we just sit here trying to be a
example to the rest of the world."
     I'd say I've just hit a major sore spot.  But I like Serenity and this
city so I say, "I believe her majesty's view is that humanity should be united 
and peaceful before we (he raises an eyebrow at the 'we') venture outwards.  
Or we'll simply repeat the mistakes of the past out there on the other 
     He gives an amused snort.  "Do you think Silver Millennium was a utopia?
Every planet had their own agenda and Earth was far from united.  Despite all 
that it worked.  Serenity's plan is doomed from the start because she's
fighting human nature."   That's going a little too far.
     "Crystal Tokyo works."
     "I'll concede that.  But it's special circumstances.  Without Serenity,
the ginzuishou and the Senshi this place would be as flawed as every other
     "Perhaps.  But of all the cities I've seen I prefer Crystal Tokyo."
     He nods.  "I'd heard you've done some travelling.  Of course this is the
only place in the world you and the other youma can hope to fit in."
     I bristle slightly but I'm not here to start a fight.  A change of 
subject is called for.  "Well even if CT doesn't lead the way humanity will
reclaim the system.  There's quite a few countries and a few megacorps talking 
about Mars colonization for a start.  So someday they'll get out as far as
Neptune and you'll get another chance to try ghost squid."  After a moment I
add, "And if it happens within the next 9000 and a bit years I'll have the
chance to sample it myself."
     There's a sudden flare of panic that's gone almost instantly.  "What did
you say?"  
     I guess it's the 9000 part he's asking about so I say, "I've got a 
potential lifespan of about 10,000 years and I haven't used up a fortieth of
that yet.  So I definitely expect to see the solar system recolonized in my 
     He looks a little dazed.  He mutters, "I knew they aged slow but ..."
He shakes off the confusion and asks casually, "Is that just you or does that
apply to all the youma?"
     I don't much care for being lumped in with Margrave so I say, "That 
applies to Pyrite and myself.  It may not apply to Calcite and Titanite." 
     "Oh?"  There's more than casual interest there.  But why?  Could he be
interested in Ti and wondering how many of his incarnations she'll be around
for?  I don't know that he's really her type, a bit too intense.  Rather 
like Calcite though he's mellowed a bit.  Now that I think of it so have I.
Anyway he's waiting for an answer. 
     "They've got the same 10,000 year potential but Pyrite has this theory 
they may have gained true immortality.  It all depends on how much exposure to
Serenity and the ginzuishou it takes too ..."  My voice trails off at the 
look on his face.  Stricken, he definitely didn't want to hear this.  
He wanted me to tell him they had a shorter span.  Why?  He mutters, "10,000 
years!" several times.    
     Ferrite forces a grin and glances around the empty restaurant.  "So this 
is authentic Dark Kingdom decor?"  It's only after someone says something like 
that you really examine the surroundings.  After all these years I just don't
notice them anymore.
     There are ten tables, each with four oak chairs, evenly spaced throughout the
room.  Each is covered with a red and white checkered tablecloth and set with 
a red candle centerpiece.  Across the room is well stocked wood panelled bar. 
After eating here on a dare lots of people feel the need to drink a lot.  
We're still the only ones in here and it's likely to stay that way.  There are
paintings on the wall.  None of them are authentic Dark Kingdom art as that 
wouldn't make for a pleasant dining atmosphere.  They're Dark Kingdom 
landscapes painted on commission from descriptions supplied by the owners. 
Or, in three cases, from my memories.  I've taken up painting as a hobby this 
past decade and donated the appropriate pictures to the Haven.  The best one 
is my Hardlands oil.  I think I really capture its' storm swept majesty.  No 
getting around it parts of the Dark Kingdom were picturesque ... at least 
looking back from over a century and a half later and when you don't actually 
have to live in that damn hole.  Snap out of it Azure!  Ferrite's waiting for 
a answer.
     "This is about as unauthentic as you can get.  Kingdom decor tended to be
big on blacks, dark blues and greys.  Purple was reserved for her late and
unlamented majesty ..."  That's seems to remind him of something.
      "The imperial purple ..."  Hmmm, is he remembering the Roman Empire or 
did the custom date from Silver Millennium?  I'll have to ask him.  He doesn't
add anything more so I finish my answer.
      "But those colour were a bit oppressive so Ti nixed getting too 
authentic.  She knew getting people to sample our ... ethnic cuisine would be 
an uphill battle so she didn't want to jinx things before they'd even 
ordered."  Ferrite glances around at all the vacant seats.  
     "Doesn't seem to be having much luck."
     "That's an understatement.  The problem is mainly psychological.  If 
people could get over their squeamishness about the food they'd enjoy it!"
I really believe that.  A moment later I add, "I've done what I could to help
this place out.  I've tried persuading my colleagues at CTU to dine here.  
With very little success apart from some of the xenobiologists."  Who are, 
let's face it, a little on the odd side.
     "Whatever happened to the fabled academic open-mindedness?"  From his tone 
of voice Ferrite obviously knows that is just a fable.  Can't say Pyr didn't
warn me what it would be like when I joined the faculty.  But I thought he
was exaggerating.  Even in Crystal Tokyo there's no end of departmental 
politics and infighting.
     "What indeed?  I got roped into organizing a faculty dinner so I had the 
haven cater it.  I've always suspected that's why my tenure applications keep 
getting denied."  Not one of my better ideas I must admit.  Still it was 
going fine at the start.  Up until the xenobiology crew started describing  
what was in the entrees.  Mass nausea is a very ugly sight.  
     Meantime Ferrite's turned his attention to the tableware.  "You've got 
quite a mix of cutlery here."       
     "Yes well giving people a choice between chopsticks and knife and fork is
a given.  The others are modelled after the kingdom equivalents.  They're 
mainly here to provide a bit of atmosphere."
     "This one looks like a heavy duty fondue fork, while this looks more like 
a bonesaw than a knife."
      There's a description of everything on the back of the menu but I answer
him anyway.  "The first is a flesh prong, the smaller version beside it is 
intended for plants and fungi.  That knife's designed to be used cutting 
through chitin or sawing through jundroot casing.  Of course here they'll
serve the jundroot without the armour.  It's just there to provide a little
     "How about this thing that looks like a razor edged spoon?"
     "It's another knife.  After you've broken through the chitin you stick 
the slice into the hole and cut loose as much meat as you can.  Then just 
scoop it out.  If you know what you're doing you can then use the scoop to 
eat but it's safer drop it on the plate and use the prong.  Less risk of 
gashing your lip ..."
     "... or accidentally widening your mouth.  Tell me did youma have a lot
of arguments over dinner?  Because you've got quite a range of weaponry 
sitting in front of you."
     "It wasn't unknown but spur of the moment dining homicides were rare.  
Most youma preferred to wait for better opportunities.  Why settle for a flesh 
prong when you can use a trident?  And so forth."
     "Didn't think youma had that much self control."
     "Evolution in action.  Those without cunning got weeded out of the gene
pool fairly young.  Which was the same reason Beryl never exterminated the
Dire Butterflies and a lot of the other predators.  She felt they improved the
race by weeding out the unfit.  Along with the just plain unlucky. "  Perhaps
a little self promotion is in order.  "I've done a book on the youma ..."
     "I know, 'Kingdom of Darkness'. I've skimmed it."  No indication it 
interested him in the slightest.  Hmm doesn't seem to have much respect for 
my field.  That's going to be a problem.
     His attention returns to the utensils before him and he picks up the 
silver plated mallet.  "What exactly is this intended for?"
     "Decoration.  In the Kingdom it was there in case you had to pacify your
dinner before you could eat it.  But they don't serve live food here so it's
just an ornament."  It's also not exactly authentic.  It would be more 
traditional to have a stout cudgel in its' place but Ti's got this thing 
about hammers so that's what we get.  "Ready to order?"
     Before he can answer the kitchen doors bang open and a familiar figure
emerges.  She's traded her senshi fuku for chef's whites and she's got one
of those big puffy hats balancing on her head.  I'm a little surprised to
say the least.  "Ti?  What in the world are you doing here?"
     "Hi Azure, Noriko told me you were out front but I've been kinda busy  
back there.  Well our old chef retired so I've taken some time off to train  
his replacement.  Well, latest replacement I should say.   The first couple
ran off when they had a look around the kitchen.  But Natasha didn't flinch
so I knew she had promise!"  I catch Ferrite's reflection in my wineglass, 
luckily that "kitchen of horrors" bit doesn't seem to have worried him.  She
gives Ferrite a quick wave, "Hi Ferry."
     That doesn't go over too well.  "I prefer Ferrite, Lady Titanite."  
Sounds very stiff, forget the idea he's interested in Ti.
     "Really?  I generally prefer Ti.  But if it makes you happy then Ferrite 
it is."
     "Thank you.  I'd been told you were taking some vacation time for 
personal reasons."  He doesn't sound particularly interested.  Just being 
polite but Ti doesn't pick up on that.
     "Well I'm the best chef for Exile foods left so I'm the best qualified
to see the new chef knows what she's doing."  Then she turns to me, "Say I 
just got some new holos of my new nephew.  Like to take a look?"  From the
corner of my eye I catch Ferrite twitch.  Afraid he's going to have to sit
through Ti's picture show?  Maybe and yet I think there's something more ... 
Anyway this is neither the time nor place.  
     "Perhaps another time?"  Ti catches the hint.
     "Right, I'm sure you've got other things to talk about.  I shouldn't 
really be bothering you but when Noriko said you were out here I had to say 
hi."  Understandable, we don't see each other anywhere as frequently as we
used to.  We move in different circles these days though that's partially my
choice.  Last time we met Serenity she hinted there might be a place for 
Sailor Arcturus in the palace if I got tired of the academic life.  I thanked
her for the offer but told her I'd hung up my fuku for good.  "Anyway 
Hiroshi's really bright for a two year old but you can go see him for 
yourself.  By the way when are you and Pyr ... ?"
     She leaves it open so I simply say, "When we're both ready.  It's not 
like we have to hurry."  She winces a little at that.  Damn ... I'd forgotten
about her old flame being mortal.  I never met him but he must have been 
something for her to fall for him so hard.  The man who fathered her children 
died of old age before I returned to Crystal Tokyo.  Hell, her kids were 
adults when I first met them.  Well unlike their father they'll be around for 
a long time to come.  As for Ti?  She's had other lovers since but nothing I'd 
really call serious.  I gather there was a minor scandal because they never
got married but that's been forgotten.  At least by the tabloids.  I 
understand Serenity still prefers not to think about the children's out of 
wedlock origins.  Though they couldn't have been conceived without her aid and
she could have turned down Ti's request if she'd really objected.  Serenity's
very big on marriage which is one reason why we ... damn! I'm getting 
sidetracked.  Ti's talking so she didn't realize I'd  stopped listening.
     "... so Natasha will do the actual cooking and I'll just oversee to make
sure everything goes right.  That okay with both of you?"  Ferrite nods and I
say, "That's fine."
     "Great!"  She signals Noriko to come over.  "Well I'll get back to the
kitchen.  Oh do either of you have any questions about the menu?"
     Ferrite shrugs and says, "Since I've got no experience I'll trust Azurite
to do the ordering."
     Which puts me on the spot if he doesn't like what he gets.  What to do?   
With the best Kingdom chef overseeing it's a shame not to order something 
like ur-prawn chra'chal.  But that takes ages to prepare and Ferrite's already
looking a little antsy.  Perhaps for his first time I shouldn't get too 
fancy ... got it!  "Ti, is the Ktar fresh?"  She looks a little uneasy, Ti's 
always been a bit squeamish about Ktar.
     "Uh yes, we've got a live one in back.  It's about 10 kilos."  About
three kilos of which will be shell.  Still seven kilos between two should be
plenty.  I ask Ferrite, "Like to split a Ktar?  It's something like lobster."
Well something like a lobster as imagined by a schizophrenic who's never 
seen a real one.
      "Great.  Thanks Ti."  Looking a little sickly Ti heads inside.  Well
she won't have to kill it herself, her trainee can do that.  They must have
something back there for human chefs to punch through the chitin over the
brain case.  Noriko takes out her keypad and waits for me to order.  I doubt
she'll need the pad as I'm keeping it very simple.
     "We'll have two grey salads to start.  For dressing ... how about the 
Burning Islands?"  Ferrite glances at the menu then shakes his head.
     "Sounds more appetising than the Rotweed Ichor."
     "Okay Burning Islands it is.  It's got a great smoky flavour."  These 
days it'll be artificially created but that can't be helped.  For main course
we'll have fresh Ktar with Jundroot Omatiri.  That should be plenty or 
would you like any more side dishes?"
     "I'll go with your judgement."
     "Okay than that will do us for now.  We'll think about dessert 
afterwards."  Noriko nods, refills our glasses and enters the kitchen area.
Now should I get into why I wanted to meet him or stick to small talk for
now?  Ferrite takes the decision out of my hands.
     "That picture over there ..."  He nods towards the view of the City of
Jade, "... You painted that?"  I'm a little surprised.
     "How did you know?"
     "Fairly simply really.  You signed it."  Sure enough there's my 
signature in the right hand corner.  Except ...
     "You can read youma'shak?"  It seemed appropriate to sign it in my native
language.  Ferrite just shrugs.
     "It's not that far removed from old high terran.  Guess Beryl didn't let
the language change that much from Arcadian even if she changing everything
else about her subjects."
     There's my opening!  "Speaking of similarities between Silver Millennium
languages and the Dark Kingdom's ..."
     "That city ... at least I think that's what it is ...?" I nod and he 
continues, "Is that accurate?"
     "That's the real appearance of the City of Jade."
     He shakes his head at that.  "It looks like something out of an Escher
drawing!"  There's no denying that.
     "Jadeite liked to show off his space warping abilities in his city.  
Whole place was spatially insane.  It made 'Relativity' look simple and
     "Good grief."  After a pause he asks, "So that's why you put him in the 
     I shrug, "He fit the scene."  Viewers have said you can almost feel the
arrogance of the figure.  I don't know why but I add, "Besides the bastard  
was my father.  I suppose I owe him something even if it's only not being
forgotten."  Ferrite almost chokes on his wine than puts it down and stares
at me skeptically.  "You don't look a thing like him."
     "For which I am eternally grateful.  But that's a given with youma 
bloodlines.  The odds against my even looking human were very high.  Why do
you think neither Calcite or Titanite's children resemble them?"
     There's a moment of silence then he nods.  "That's true ... and 
Nephrite's journal said Calcite had one of Jadeite's byblows as his chief
     "The Generals never had much tact when talking about one another."  My
voice is dry.  Then the implications strike me and I burst out. "Nephrite 
left a journal?  And you've got it?"  He nods and I frown.  "Wait a minute!
There's a small collection of data crystals at CTU that were recovered from
his Juban base ... which you ... or rather your Trenchcoat Mask incarnation 
donated to them but I don't recall a journal!"
     "I hung on to it.  Personal reasons."  Huh?  Why would he want a 
General's journal?  Whatever info was in there must be long past the point it 
could hurt anyone.  The senshi's id's are well known and everyone else from 
back then is long gone.  No, wait!  Back in his first life he knew the 
original Nephrite!  When he was a guardian, before Beryl got her hooks into
him.  Were they friends in those days?  Perhaps best not to ask.  Let's try 
and steer the conversation somewhere else.
     "So why did you donate Nephrite's other texts to the university?  Were
you trying to regain some goodwill after wrecking Minako's wedding ..."  Oops!
Sometimes your mouth outraces your brain.  He looks at me sharply and growls,
"You were there?"
     "No.  If I had been I'd have been the one to jump up during that 'does
anyone here have any reason these two should not be wed' line.  By the time 
when I heard about it was all over with and I thought it was a very bad idea."  
Though not a complete surprise given Cal's habit of screwing up his romantic 
     "I ... Pyrite and myself had left CT the previous year.  We were still
somewhat paranoid about the senshi in those days so putting some distance 
between us seemed like a plan."  Ten years of working with Sailor Hermes   
didn't give me much faith in senshi as stable people.  Almost getting fried
unintentionally by mana overload when Sailor Moon woke up and became Serenity 
didn't help.  "We doesn't include Ti, you'd have had to drag her out of the 
city kicking and screaming!  So Cal stayed to protect her just in case ... at 
least that's what I thought at the time.  I didn't notice what was going on 
between him and Minako."  Probably because it was so unbelievable!  "The 
whole romance with Venus ... with their past history I'd have said even if he 
was crazy enough to fall for another senshi she'd be the last one to return 
his affection."
     He nods.  "Even for Minako falling for her original arch enemy was 
     "Truth is stranger than fiction."
     Ferrite's eyes narrow as something strikes him.  "What did you mean by
another senshi?"  This guy doesn't miss much.  Still he is a member of the
court so I guess he's been thoroughly briefed.  Besides which after those 
films of Ti's the Dark World is hardly a state secret.  Though what I'm
really wondering is, does he know my counterpart did in his counterpart?  In 
case he doesn't I'd better tread carefully.
     "I don't know how much you know about our whereabouts prior to the  
founding ..."
     "I am aware that the Dark World was a real place ... and I suppose still
is.  As I understand it you departed it in 2004 their time and reappeared 
here near the end of our ice age due to some sort of time anomaly between the 
     "The locals don't call it the Dark World anymore, it's back to being 
Earth."  Now how to say this next bit?  "During the ten years we spent there    
the surviving senshi, Zeus and Hermes ... the counterparts to our Jupiter and
Mercury ... grew up.  During the later years of our stay there was ... a
brief affair between Calcite and Sailor Zeus."  It was a bit more complicated
than that but never mind.  "It didn't last ... hardly surprising.  Any
relationship between the senshi of a world overrun by the Dark Kingdom and
a youma was doomed from the start."  Especially when behind his glamour the
youma in question was a dead ringer for the Overlord.  "It got a bit messy 
towards the end (especially when Hermes found out) which was why I was so sure 
he'd never get involved with another senshi.  All of which just goes to show 
that I definitely don't have precognition."  
     "There's never been anything between him and Jupiter?"  It sounds more
like a statement than a question but I answer anyway.  "Neither of them have
ever seemed interested in each other.  Of course Sailor Zeus is a very 
different woman, her experiences shaped her very differently than the Makoto
you know.  And if you could find any similarity between Sailor Mercury and 
that ice hearted bit... between Mercury and Hermes apart from hair colour then
I'd love to hear it."  I haven't thought about my old comrade in arms (hah!)
for a long time.  I try to avoid it.  Bitter?  Me?  I worked with that psycho 
for ten years.  On occasion I referred to her as 'that cast iron bitch with a 
block of ice for a heart.'  I never had a reason to change my opinion.  Hell,
even Ti agreed with me and she can get along with just about anybody.
     He just sighs and says quietly, "I know better than anybody how 
circumstances can shape your life."  I think about the implications of that.
As I understand with each rebirth he literally is born as someone else.  At
twenty something (if he lives that long) his original personality reawakens 
and either takes over or merges with the current persona.  I wonder ... how 
many times did he revive to find his new self was someone he detested?  That
they lived by values that he despised or were just plain alien?  I'm smart
enough to let it rest and look for a way to change the subject.  Luckily 
Noriko reappears with our salads.
     She sets a bowl overflowing with fungoids before each of us.  Grey is
the dominant colour but you also get white and some blue.  Besides that she 
places a small jug full of thick orange sauce then hopes we enjoy our 
starters and returns to the kitchen.  I pour the dressing over my salad and
pick up the smaller prong.  I'm about to start when I realize Ferrite is 
still staring at his bowl dubiously.  "Something wrong?"
     He looks at me, "My salad is moving."
     "Only bits of it.  That's just the mimic fungus squirming around."
     "Mimic fungus?"
     "Yeah, you've got an array of fungus in there.  Just a sec ..."  I study
my salad then plunge the prong in.  I bring it back out with a small slice 
of blue fungus with orange stains from the dressing.  It's flexing a bit up
and down.  "Mimic fungus.  Don't worry it's far too small to form itself into
a limb and it's impossible for it to try and strangle you.  It's just there
to add a little zest to the salad.  Don't worry your stomach acids will stop
it moving instantly!"  With that I swallow the mimic feeling a little tickle
as it wriggles on the way down.  Ferrite looks unconvinced.
     "It there any way to get a salad that's a little more ... static?"
     "Well you could use the hammer for more than decoration.  Mimic loses
mobility when subjected to kinetic impact.  So a few whacks with the hammer 
and it'll sit still.  That's why it's served without the dressing already on
it.  Then if you decide to pacify the salad you won't spray everyone at the 
     "So you're saying I either have to eat a salad that's trying to escape 
or beat it senseless before I take a bite?"
     "Well ... that's basically right."  He shakes his head.  "If this is
what the appetiser's like I can't wait to see what I have to do to the main 
course!"  He looks down again then grabs his prong and spears a morsel that 
seems to be waving at him.  He gulps it down like a man doing his duty then 
frowns.  He spears another wriggler and swallows that.  He looks thoughtful 
then nods and tries a piece of devarie followed by a slice of moroshi.  With  
that he pours some of the burning island on his salad and tries a few more
pieces.  Then smiles.
     "This is good ... once you get past the basic idea.  I can see why this
place is something of a hard sell."  We both turn our attention back to the
salads until her pauses and asks, "Do Minako and Calcite eat here regularly."
     "Not anymore.  Calcite gave up trying to convert Minako to the joys of
exile cuisine a long time ago.  For a while they had a small alternative menu
of human fare and Minako would order from that while Cal used the regular
menu.  But she still had to see what he ate ... I gather sometimes just the
name would make her sick.  As for Cal, watching her turn green while he was
eating put him off his food.  So they decided that it was added strain they
didn't really need.  Meaning Calcite only eats here when Minako can't join  
him for lunch, dinner or whatever."
     "I see."
     I shrug.  "Probably for the best.  To quote the epicurean philosopher, 
'Few relationships can survive the low point of one partner vomiting at the 
sight of what the other eats.'"
     "Who said that?"
     I frown as I try to recall.  I don't know how Ferrite manages when I'm
having memory trouble with under 200 years stored.  Actually I haven't really
forgotten anything.  It's all in here somewhere, I just have to find the 
trigger.  "I can't remember the name offhand.  Anyway he was in vogue for a
while in the late 20th century.  That anarchist philosopher who always used 
cooking metaphors ...  Damn! Can't remember his name.  Wonder whatever 
happened to him?"  The long-term answer is by now he's died of something or
other but Ferrite gets my meaning.
     "Oh, him!  Right!  Now I remember.  They put him away for bombing ...
what the hell was it?  Name's on the tip of my tongue but I don't quite ...
well I guess it doesn't really matter.
     I agree and we return our attention to our food.  Ferrite's digging in
with every indication of enjoying it when the kitchen door opens and Noriko
emerges accompanied by the screaming.
     Almost instantly Ferrite's holding his ancient pistol.  Almost as 
quickly I've dropped my prong.  By the time it hits the table mana is 
swirling around my hand waiting to become an air vortex that can tear a man's
head off his shoulders.  Ferrite catches my movement out of the corner of his
eye and twitches his arm my way like a snake striking.  He almost has his 
cannon aimed at me.  I'm not quite pointing at him so it's not quite an MAD 
standoff but it's pretty close.  If I take him out his reflexes'll put a   
slug through me that my shield can't stop.  If he shoots me my powers will
trigger in the death spasm pulping him.  It's one of those tense moments where
if either of you does something stupid you're both going to die.
     Noriko has no idea what is going on and is watching us with bemusement.
She's got most of her attention on Ferrite.  As a lifelong citizen of Crystal 
Tokyo she's never seen an actual gun before.  Behind her the kitchen door 
closes and the noise cuts off.  Must be soundproofed, that never occurred to
me.  We sit frozen in our little deadlock for a few heartbeats then Ferrite
demands, "What the hell was that yelling?"  I'm about to answer but Noriko 
beats me to it.  From her quizzical tone it's obvious she doesn't understand
our little tableau.
     "Oh that's the Ktar being steamed.  It's a little noisy in there and I 
couldn't find my earplugs so I left.  I hope I didn't disturb you."
     Ferrite switches his attention back to me.  Well it's never left me but
he's talking to me now.  "Why didn't you mention that noise to me?"
     "Because Ti never cooks Ktar the traditional way.  She always ... always
kills it before steaming!  She doesn't like the sound it makes."  Now either
Ti is getting a bit harder hearted or ...
     Noriko clears this up right away.  "Titanite-sama is not in the kitchen.
She knew your preference for freshly steamed Ktar so she instructed the chef
on what to do before departing to take care of some urgent business."
     Urgent like getting out before the noise started.  Never occurred to me
that she'd do that.  I'm in a standoff because I underestimated Ti's 
thoughtfulness.  Which would be a really stupid way to die.  Meanwhile Noriko 
is explaining to Ferrite, "The noise is caused by steam venting through the 
Ktar's ventral plates.  If you punch a hole in the forehead the steam vents
through this and there is no sound apart from a whistling.  However this
kills the Ktar and it tastes better if steamed while still alive,  This is in 
no way cruel because, like lobster, Ktar are incapable of feeling pain from
being boiled.  Their nerves simply aren't wired to perceive this."  Well, 
that's the official story and we're sticking to it.  Noriko still has no
concept of just how dangerous this situation is.  But it looks like the 
combination of her naivete and explanation have done the trick.
     As suddenly as it appeared Ferrite's gun is gone.  I lower my hand 
immediately and there's a tense few moments as we both wait to see if the 
other is going to strike.  Then we both relax except there's still a lot of
power flickering around my hand waiting to be released.  I could bleed it off  
but I'll be a hour doing that and I don't need the distraction.
     "Excuse me."  With that I get up and head for the ladies room.  Behind me
Noriko deferentially approaches Ferrite and asks if the gun was real and if
he's a magician or a sorcerer.  Slight of hand or true magic, these days it
could be either.
     Inside the washroom I pry open a window then lean out and study the sky.  
Nothing overhead as far as I can see.  Therefore ... With that thought my 
powers trigger and a micro hurricane roars straight upwards towards the 
stratosphere.  I take a few moments to check my appearance and check my 
clothes for sweat stains.  No sign of any, good to know I can still keep calm
under pressure.  Though I can't escape a cold sensation as I think about how 
it could have gone.  Both of us might have died today from a stupid 
misunderstanding!  Which would have been a much larger problem for me than for 
him.  Well maybe I can patch things up before they deteriorate any further.
     I return to my seat and raise my wineglass.  All of a sudden a toast
seems appropriate.  "To hair trigger combat reflexes."
     Ferrite clinks glasses with me, "To hair trigger combat reflexes and the 
avoidance of accidents."
     "I'll drink to that."
     I think he's a bit embarrassed by this.  Maybe that's why he says, "I
suspect you wanted to talk to me about something.  Which is why you pulled
a few strings to get me to meet with you."
     No point denying it.  "More a matter of asking an old friend for a 
favour."  An old friend who used to be more like a little sister.  Well that's 
what happens when you barely see each other for over a century.  Though we'd 
already shifted from as close as we had been.  That had been inevitable as 
soon as we left the Kingdom and she could find friends outside our circle.  My
one regret was that in my absence Margrave stepped in to fill the void I'd
left.  Thankfully as I'd thought Ti had grown to be too much her own woman for
Margrave to corrupt her.  "I don't have any influence in the palace so that 
was the best I could do."  I could have asked Cal but he doesn't get on with     
Ferrite at all.  Well considering the first time they met Ferrite was wrecking
Minako's meticulously planned wedding while trying to shoot him it's hardly
surprising they don't get along.  That definitely got things off on the wrong
foot.  Minako doesn't like him much either.  During the divorce she once told
me that Ferrite had jinxed their marriage right from the start.  Which was 
why they hadn't been able to keep things going as long as Serenity and 
Endymion or Pyrite and I.  I've wondered if she wanted to hear that, in fact,
things weren't as rosy as she thought and we were having problems.  Best I
could do was to point out that we hadn't really been married that long.  We'd
simply been living together the past century and a bit.
     All of which has nothing to do with why I wanted to have a quiet chat 
with Ferrite.  He's waiting to hear from me.  Okay Azure stay calm and let's
get on with it.
     "As you may or may not know I'm in the anthropology faculty of Crystal
Tokyo University."  He nods, which I take to mean this isn't news.  "One of
our projects in my department is we've been working on reconstructing Silver 
Millennium's culture as best we can.  It isn't easy given the scarcity of 
artifacts after all this time and the fact that the few ... well survivors is 
the wrong word let's call the resurrectees from that time don't have much
memory of their original lives.  When the senshi were revived after the     
showdown with Beryl they had their clearest recall of their Silver Millennium 
days.  But those faded fairly rapidly ... some of our metaphysicians believe 
that past life experiences will inevitably be overridden by the contemporary
personality.  Of course you're either a clear refutation of that or the 
exception that proves the rule.  Anyway the upshot is we don't have a lot to
work with.  You can change that."  
     He's looking a little more attentative.  Time to get to the heart of it.
"We would like you to agree to take part in a series of total recall sessions.
This would take several months as we want to do very in-depth interviews,
rechecking your recollections as we go."  I think he's about to turn me down
flat so I continue quickly.  "I realize you're a busy man and probably can't
spare the time right now ..."  Actually I realize no such thing as I have no
idea what the hell he does when he's not hanging around the court.  "... but
this needn't happen this next year or even the next few years.  We'd just like
your commitment to cooperate with us ... in say the next ten years?"  
     His expression doesn't inspire confidence.  I take a guess at what's 
wrong and, mentally gritting my teeth, I say, "If you have any difficulties
in working with a youma then you don't have to.  Every member of our 
department would jump at the chance to run this project."  With a little more   
effort I add, "If it's really necessary I can arrange to be completely 
uninvolved with the Silver Millennium project."
     He's silent for a moment then says, "That won't be necessary because I
have to turn you down anyway.  I've got a lot of commitments outside Crystal
Tokyo that keep me on the run.  I simply don't have time to spend months 
working with you or anyone to reconstruct Silver Millennium."
     Don't give up.  "Okay, right now yes but how about longer term.  Say when
you've retired in fifty years or so you could ..."  He shakes his head, "I
tend to keep working until I drop.  I don't retire."
     "That's very out of fashion these days.  Even in this country."
     "Well I don't take death as seriously as most people.  It's more of a
major inconvenience than an ending."
     "But think of the loss to science ..."  I trail off as I see the fallacy.
     He nods.  "As you've just realized nothing I know is lost because I 
always come back."
     "Except you're the only one who knows it."
     Looking a little more serious he says, "I've got a number of long term
goals in mind.  Once I'm through with them I'll be willing to consider your
proposal."  He smiles faintly.  "As I expect my work to take under 9000 years
you might still be around to run the interviews."
     "Perhaps though I don't see this as my life's work.  Ami and Pyrite are 
in CTU for the long haul.  Me?  I'm not so certain."  While I'm talking so
nobly about the betterment of science there's another driving force behind
the Silver Millennium project for me.  To tell the truth I'm getting very 
bored with this profession.  I was hoping if I could pull this off I'd renew
my own interests.  I've been doing this for almost thirty years and I need 
either another challenge or a change.  I just wish I knew what I really wanted
to do.  Funny, everyone else I know who's going to be around for millennia has
found their life's work.  But not me.  I still haven't found the real goal I
want to dedicate myself to.  Well, I'll just have to try new things and keep
searching.  Someday I'll find it.
     Ferrite breaks in on my thoughts, "Was there anything else?"
     "As a matter of fact there is.  My colleagues in our neurology and
metaphysics departments wanted me to make an informal request of you."
     "Why informal?"
     "Probably because it's a little ghoulish.  Here goes ... as we understand
it you have total recall at will of all your previous lives?"  He nods.  
"Thing is, from what we can tell that exceeds the estimated storage capacity 
of the human brain.  So either their estimates are woefully inadequate or in
some way your memory engrams are etched on your soul.  It all depends on if 
you're reborn with the memories already implanted but inaccessible until you 
hit the right age or you just access past lives encoded astrally.  They'd
like to know which it is so they were hoping you'd consider leaving them your
body for ... examination on the death of your current incarnation."
     "By examination you mean dissection?"
     Perhaps not the most appetising topic but he should be more objective 
about it than most people.  "Yes, that's what it boils down to."
     "I'll think about it."  The kitchen doors open and Noriko wheels out a
cart with our main course steaming away on top.  "If lobsters looked like that
they could take on sharks."  Seems interested rather than repelled which has
to be a good sign.  Looks like I don't get what I want but I might have gained
the haven a new customer.  That's life.
     Any worries I had about Ferrite having problems dealing with the Ktar's
shell turn out to be groundless.  With his enhanced strength he has no problem 
using the chitin knife to cut through to the meat and lop the legs off on his
side.  He's obviously enjoying the meat's flavour and using his scoop a little
too enthusiastically for a novice.  I'm also enjoying the taste of freshly 
broiled Ktar.  Pyrite always adds a little melted wixxel grease to his but 
I've always felt that detracts from the flavour.  So I didn't suggest it to
Ferrite.  Besides after that unfortunate incident with the senshi we've got
an unspoken agreement to not mention wixxel grease in front of humans.  
     We haven't been saying much to each other the past few minutes as we 
savour the Ktar but Ferrite changes that.  Out of the blue he says, "Why did
you give up acting for anthropology when you returned to Crystal Tokyo?"
     I shrug and say, "I'd been doing acting for over a century by then.  
Frankly I was sick of it and I wanted a change."
     "That's a shame, you were very talented."  What the?  Before I can ask he
says, "I caught your 'Lady Macbeth' at the Lincoln Centre 44 or 45 years ago.
Of course you were calling yourself Julia ... something but ..."
     I almost choke on my Ktar.  Clearing my throat I blurt out, "That's
impossible!  I was using a glamour so there's no way you could have recognised
     "I can see through glamour.  And while your hair could be explained by
dyeing your eyes are very distinctive."  After a moment he adds, "Of course
if anyone really wanted to find you they'd just have had to track the Sailor
Arcturus sightings!"  Well that's undeniable.  Arcturus had quite a following
in her heyday.  She's generally considered first of the Lesser Senshi.  
Actually that was Ti but as Polaris is considered one of the True or Greater 
Senshi of Crystal Tokyo the label got stuck on Arcturus.  Back then I was the 
only non CT Senshi around, at least initially.  In the later years it seemed 
any girl who developed powers would put on a fuku and call herself "Sailor 
insert-name-here".  The lesser senshi phenomena shows no signs of ending and 
I'm more than a little responsible for it.  My legacy to the outside world.  
I'm not sure how I feel about that.
     I shouldn't have appeared as Arcturus so much but it seemed necessary
at the time. To tell the truth I started taking the vigilante business far
too seriously.  When we fled Crystal Tokyo I told myself I'd only use the
Arcturus guise when I had to use my powers in public.  Same as in Tokyo.  But   
wherever we went there seemed to be no shortage of newly empowered mages 
suddenly turning up and running amuck.  Along with a variety of other scum who 
showed up in the aftermath of the Darkness and the Mana Renaissance.  Back 
then with the Hunters still in the planning stages and the Senshi occupied 
with both the bigger menaces and the rebuilding it seemed like somebody had 
to take care of local problems.  So I elected myself to take out the trash 
wherever we were living.  We kept on the move a lot back then so Sailor 
Arcturus got spotted worldwide.  Eventually things calmed down somewhat.  Plus
the Hunters gained acceptence and got called in to deal with the things I'd 
been keeping a lid on.  So Arcturus's appearances became more and more 
sporadic.  The last confirmed sighting was in Brasil back in 2119.  Since her 
disappearance over 30 years ago there have been quite a few speculations about 
what happened to her.  The leading conspiracy theory is Crystal Tokyo got 
jealous of an apparently immortal unaligned senshi and had Mars take her out.
     Of course there's no mystery at court who Sailor Arcturus was though it's
also no public knowledge.  Getting back to Ferrite I say, "I've hung up my 
senshi costume.  I'm not needed around here.  Besides it would be hard to get 
taken seriously as an anthropologist while wearing a leather fuku.  As for 
acting ... I used to enjoy it but I think I've done enough to hold me for the 
next few centuries.  I played everything from live theatre Shakespeare to B 
flicks so I think I've hit both the highs and the lows.  When we came back to 
Crystal Tokyo I decided I needed a change.  I'd been thinking about 
anthropology and doing the definitive study on the Dark Kingdom.  Perhaps 
exorcising a few old demons in the process ... metaphorically speaking.  So 
that's how I wound up in this career."  After a moment I ask, "You really 
liked my 'Lady Macbeth'?"
     "Shakespeare would have said you captured the character almost perfectly!
At least he would have if he could have got over females on the stage."
     "I guess if anyone could really say that it's you."  Should I ask if he
actually knew Shakespeare in a past life or would that be rude?  But Ferrite
doesn't give me the chance.
     "I can understand you wanting a change but why return to Crystal Tokyo?"
     "Two reasons.  The first was we'd lost our fear of the senshi.  Calcite
and Titanite had fit right in and they'd even accepted Margrave despite her
vampiric habits.  Do you remember Margrave?"  He nods.  "I'm sure she still
remembers you.  After your little run-in back in the Kingdom she was always
foaming at the mouth every time Trenchcoat Mask got mentioned.  I probably
laughed over the story more times than I should have but I've got worse 
stains on my karma.  Of course these days she doesn't dare do anything too out
of line except bedevil Rei and get on my nerves so you don't have to worry 
about her looking for revenge.  Anyway if they'd accept ... or at least
tolerate her then we'd have no problems fitting in."
     "Which lead to the second reason.  I was tired of living under a series
of masks.  With groups like "Sword of Torquemada" and "Hand of Fate" stirring
up xenophobia with all that, 'demons walk among us' paranoia I had to stay
behind my false identities.  I was getting heartily sick of changing my 
appearance.  My hair I could have got away with, as you just pointed out, but
my eyes were another matter.  Thanks to decades of bad horror films red eyes
are automatically linked to demonic possession or being some sort of monster.
Pyrite's own eyes are a little distinctive so he had the same problem.  So
we talked it over and there was a lot of research he wanted to do but he just
didn't have resources.  We got in touch with Cal and Ti who got in touch with
CTU.  Pyrite didn't have any actual academic qualifications ... at least none 
recognised in this world but after getting some hints of his theoretical
and practical work they were eager to get him regardless.  Ami made a few
exceptions to let them hire him and that solved that.  So we came back, he 
joined the faculty as a professor and picked up his doctorates in his spare 
time.  As for me I enrolled in the Anthropology program and after I got my
doctorate they offered me a job."  Which I earned on my merits rather than
friends in high places but I don't feel any need to justify myself.
     During my recitation Ferrite's been digging into the Ktar.  He pauses to
sip his wine then comments casually, "I understand it was shortly after you 
returned to Crystal Tokyo that Calcite and Minako's marriage fell apart."
     My laugh surprises him.  I'm still chuckling as I say, "I expected a
little more subtlety from a man of your experience."  He looks off guard for
the first time.  "The tabloids picked up that idea shortly after we returned.  
I wouldn't be surprised to find a certain furry rumour monger behind it.  For
a while the tabloids were full of stories about Lord Calcite's old flame's
returning meaning the end was nigh for their marriage.  When things actually
did fall apart a few stories surfaced hinting at an affair between us as
being the straw that broke the camel's back." 
     "So what did you do about it?"
     "When the stories first appeared I issued a statement that Calcite and I 
were old friends only and had never been lovers.  I also announced I was 
marrying Pyrite who had been my only lover during the past century in the 
hope of squelching these slurs on Calcite's reputation."
     "So that's why you got married?" 
     "Well that was one of the reasons.  It was also our way of saying we were
here to stay and going to do our best to fit in.  Besides Serenity's a bit old 
fashioned in some ways and was obviously more comfortable with us getting 
married instead of just living together."
     "The mess Calcite got himself into didn't put you off marriage?"
     "It was just a matter of making our relationship official.  We'd been a
couple longer than Calcite and Minako ... possibly longer than Serenity and
Endymion.  It's a little tricky to say because of the time anomaly.  
Chronologically we were a couple first but when you factor in the years we
missed ... well never mind.  The point is everything was stable so we had no 
worries.  As I never appeared in my Sailor Arcturus costume I wasn't 
particularly photo worthy material.  The tabloids quickly decided we were dull 
and stopped following us.  Apart from a brief revival of interest after the 
divorce.  But when it became obvious Calcite wasn't involved with me and they
weren't going to get a juicy love triangle that died down again.  Far as I 
can tell they've forgotten about me since then.  Which doesn't break my 
heart."  I figure the subject's exhausted but Ferrite still won't let it go.
     "But Calcite was a close friend and after everything went sour he'd have
turned to you for support, right!  You've got to know why it fell apart.  
And why that wasn't enough to keep them apart."
     I've had enough of this.  "Look, I didn't come here to discuss my best 
friend's personal problems." 
     "I did."  The words are quiet but loaded with emotion.  For the first 
time I get a glimpse of the loneliness and despair locked inside.  It's gone
almost as soon as it surfaces but something clicks.  Everything I've seen
and heard this evening suddenly fits together.
     "Minako!"  Ferrite twitches slightly but doesn't show any sign of 
emotion.  I plough on regardless, "Their wedding!  That's why you tried to
shoot Calcite!  It wasn't any of that official bullshit about the shock of
seeing a servant of Beryl about to entrap a senshi.  It was because it was
Minako and she was marrying someone else!"  He doesn't say a thing and I go 
on.  "Now either you fell for her back in the 20th when she was still a little
on the young side by human standards but which is certainly possible.  Or it's
older than that, perhaps you knew her earlier incarnation in your first life
... and she doesn't remember those days at all.  Matter of fact I found out
when I contacted her for the SiM project that she refuses to remember them.
Says who she was has nothing to do with who she is.  'I'm Aino Minako not 
some Venusian who's been dead over ten thousand years', I think those were 
her exact words."
     "Perhaps that's for the best."  What did he mean by that?  Except 
something's not right here.
     "Except if you were in love with her ... or at least the woman she was
why didn't you do something about it.  They were divorced over twenty years 
and Calcite wasn't even in Crystal Tokyo most of that time.  You had plenty 
of time to make your move."
     "I did!  She rejected me pretty quickly and I still don't know why!  
It's not like I rushed in while she was hurting.  Calcite had been gone for 
five years when I ... I don't understand it!  Their breakup was incredibly 
bitter.  When they got over that they should have gone looking for somebody,
anybody else.  Why the hell would she ever wait for him?  Why did he wait for 
her.  I just want to know why!  Can you explain it to me?"  He's not a man 
used to asking favours and this really seems to grate.  Asking a youma for 
aid is about the last thing he wants.  He continues, "I'm willing to make you 
this offer.  If you tell me what I need to know your medical school can have 
this body when I'd through with it.  In addition I have several journals of 
my own containing accounts of some of the more important events in my Silver 
Millennium life.  I am willing to give you access to them."
     "I don't particularly want your carcass and while I'd love to see those
journals it stinks of a bribe.  Now shut up and give me a moment."  I'd have
told him the subject was closed if it wasn't for the pain in his voice.  He
needs answers and I can maybe give them.  My thoughts whirl until things
seem to make sense.  I hope this isn't a mistake.
     "Calcite's probably the closest friend I've got so I'm not about to 
betray anything he's told me.  But there are some things I can talk about.  
The only reason I'm telling you this is I think you really need to hear it.  
What I'm telling you doesn't break any confidences because it's only the way 
I see things.  I could be dead wrong.  Still want to hear it?"  
     "What's the price?"
     "No price.  If you want to buy gossip talk to Margrave if not shut up and
listen."  His face blanks and I begin.  
     "Calcite never actually told me any of this.  I've pieced it together
bit by bit.  I missed out on the good years of their marriage.  By the time 
I came back they could barely stand each other.  The only thing holding them
together was honour and stubbornness.  Honour meaning they had taken vow,
'till death do you part' and they had to fulfill that.  Which they almost did.
The stubbornness was that neither wanted to be the first to call it quits.  
So things limped along until they both threw in the towel.  It's hard to
believe they decided to keep sparring together.  I guess they both wanted a 
little revenge under cover of training.  I'm sure you've heard the story.  
They damn near killed each other and both of them probably would have died if
Serenity hadn't intervened."  I pause a moment then continue.  "Now this
next bit is supposition.  Only three people know just what happened that day 
and they won't discuss it.  But they sometimes said things without realizing
it and I got to wondering.  Maybe I'm 100% wrong but I think that when 
Serenity healed them she did something more.  I think she mind linked them."
     Ferrite blinks, he doesn't get it.  "Meaning?"
     "Meaning they each got a good look at the other's mind.  Memories, 
feelings, intentions and motivations.  You know that old saying about not 
judging someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes?  Mind linking is a
whole order of magnitude greater.  You get to walk in someone else's skin."
Now how to explain this?  "I guess you know how it looked.  For the first two
years after their divorce they avoided each other.  Neither would mention the
other's name.  Eventually Calcite resigned his post ... or he tried to, 
Serenity refused to accept it and called it a leave of absence.  He left CT
but I managed to see him during those years.  I tracked Gray's appearances
and occasionally went looking for him."  As he tracked Sailor Arcturus during
my self imposed exile.  We met up clandestinely on occasion just to see how
the other was doing.  Our meetings are an old secret which I keep out of
habit rather than because anything happened that shouldn't.  "I also ran into
Minako on occasion.  Neither had any shortage of venom towards the other and
for years I thought that's all there was.  Finally I began to understand the
     "What truth?"
     "The mind link.  They'd each got to see what the other thought.  They'd
both see the other's side of the story and how much they'd hurt each other.
Everything they'd done wrong was suddenly blindingly obvious.  That's when I
realized the real reason they'd avoided each other.  It wasn't hatred, that 
was just the surface.  What it really was was shame.  They both truly wanted 
to make up for all the things they'd done to each other but they just couldn't
face meeting.  The guilt was too great.  It was years before they could even
talk about each other let alone deal with meeting.  All those years they were 
apart they were torn between trying to patch things up and never seeing each
other again.  That's why you never had a chance.  Until she'd resolved her
feelings she couldn't get involved with anyone else."
     Ferrite's got one hell of a poker face.  It's impossible to tell what he
thinks about what he just heard.  Should I leave it here?  Perhaps and yet ...
"I'll tell you one more thing.  Their remarriage ... it's not going to last." 
     He's still for a moment then says simply, "Why?"
     "Because neither of them have really changed.  They're the same people 
they always were.  So the same things that drove them apart the first time
are still there.  The more I think about it the more likely it seems history
will repeat itself.  At least to an extent.  I think next time they'll know
enough to call it quits before it's too late.  The only thing I don't know is
what'll happen after that?  Will they separate permanently or just wait a few
years until things cool down then try again?  I really don't know."
     "Why are you telling me this?"
     "Because I can't decide if, when they do split up, I should wish you luck
if you go after Minako again.  I remember how Calcite looked when I returned
to Crystal Tokyo.  I've almost never seen him that screwed up before.  And the
only time he looked worse was after a psychic battle with a very disturbing
person."  Everyone (except maybe Serenity) has their dark side but very few
have to face it incarnated in the flesh.  Just fighting Lady Azurite was bad 
enough.  If I'd seen into her mind ...!   Cal said it wasn't the differences
as much as the similarities that were so terrible.  Because that made you see 
just how easy it would be to become the thing you were fighting.  I banish
the memory and keep going.
     "Back in those days I'd have said the best thing for Calcite would be to
never see Minako again.  I opposed the marriage from the start, it seemed like
throwing order and chaos together and expecting them to join smoothly.  That's
what I'd have said back then.  And yet the past few years since they got back 
together I've never seen him happier.  Maybe it'll fall apart a few decades 
down the road but is anything really eternal?  So I don't know whether it's   
better for both of them if things fall apart permanently or that they have 
some time apart then get back together.  Does that answer your question?"        
     "Yes.  I think that's what I wanted to know.  Or rather what I needed to
know."  He signs and mutters something about cycles and being alone forever.
Then curses Beryl in a language like youma'shak.
     I sip my wine and survey the table. We've done a pretty good job of
emptying the shell.  I'd better intensify the workouts the next little while.
Then because I was raised in the Dark Kingdom I say, "I've got no intentions 
of mentioning this little discussion to Calcite, Minako or anyone who'd pass
word on to them.  However I will be leaving a few notes to Rei to be opened in 
the event of my untimely demise."
     "Let's just say it occurs to me that if you decide Calcite and Minako are
locked in a cycle of breakup and reconciliation you might decide to break
that cycle.  As Calcite will be around for a long time you might decide even 
with reincarnation it's too long to wait for Minako to become a widow.  So
just in case you decide to expedite matters and get rid of the only person who
knows your motives I'd like to get posthumous revenge."
     "That's a little paranoid."
     "Growing up in the Dark Kingdom without becoming paranoid would be a  
good trick.  People do funny things for love, you've shown no qualms about 
killing and you've already taken one shot at Calcite.  It's not unreasonable 
to take a few precautions."
     "No.  Not in the least."  After a pause he says, "You're very perceptive.
I imagine your father would be proud."
     I'm not sure quite what to say to that.  My first instinct is to deny
any similarity between us.  Yet perhaps it's not an insult.  He could be 
thinking of the Jadeite he knew, his old comrade in arms rather than the 
monster he became.  At length I say, "There was never any real connection
between us.  I didn't even find out he was my father until the day he died."
     "The day he died ... just what did happen to Jadeite?  All I know is he
was never seen again after he took on the senshi at the airport."
     "He'd failed Beryl too many times so she sealed him in an eternal sleep
crystal.  It was her idea of a fate worse then death.  The crystal would 
keep you alive forever ... or at least as long as the magic powering it didn't 
run out.  Those sealed inside were immobile and either in total sensory
deprivation or could only see what was directly in front of them.  Telepaths
who approached the cavern of the sleepers tended to go mad from the despair 
they radiated.  I imagine it was a great relief for them when the kingdom was
destroyed."  I pause a moment then continue.
     "What we didn't find out until months later was Jadeite's crystal wasn't 
among those destroyed.  Our escape gate was hidden in the sleepers' hall to
camouflage its' existence.  The quakes that were rocking the Kingdom knocked
Jadeite off his perch and into our collapsing warpgate.  It also carried
Margrave along for the ride which is why she's still with us.  Anyway they
crashed into another dimension and Jadeite's crystal shattered.  He'd been
a bastard before but after months in the crystal he was completely out of his
mind.  Also dimensional assimilation might have got to him and unfortunately
in that world there was a vacancy for a paranormal genocidal maniac.  He 
immediately got to thinking about revenge on the senshi and getting back to 
this world."
     I pause to take a drink then resume by tale.  "The first we knew 
something was wrong was when these biomechanical creatures started tearing up
the town.  Pyrite found they were from another dimension and had been in 
contact with a youma.  Worse the gateway they'd used seemed to be our fault.  
When we fled the Kingdom we'd torn open this world's interdimensional nexus
point.  Serenity resealed it but that was years later.  So we decided this
was our mess so we'd better clean it up before the senshi traced it back to
us and decided the truce was off.  We figured with all the generals gone we
could handle whoever the youma responsible for it was.  Cal and I made a 
very effective team.  When we found out Jadeite was behind it we were stuck 
with it.  He'd spotted us so dropping the whole mess into the senshi's laps 
wasn't possible anymore.  Anyway to make a long story short with the aid of 
some locals we took him on and won.  Shortly before he died he told me I was 
his daughter and confirmed Calcite was Nephrite's son."
     He looks a little skeptical.  "Your mother had never mentioned your 
father's identity?"
     "She didn't know.  Whoever had impregnated her had wiped himself from her
mind.  I don't know why.  Perhaps he always kept the existence of his 
offspring secret.  If we worked out he'd claim us, if we were failures who'd
know?  In Calcite's case his mother claimed his father was a general but was
holding onto the name as a bargaining chip.  She died before she could tell
him who it was.  Based on the evidence if it was a general he figured it was
either Jadeite or Nephrite.  As he didn't like either of them it didn't 
matter which it was.  Though as Nephrite was a little less loathsome he leaned
towards him as the best alternative.  Turned out he'd guessed right.  The main 
reason it mattered was if his father proclaimed him as his son.  The generals 
liked to use their children as aides.  They felt the bloodline bound them 
closer to them and less likely to betray them than unrelated youma.  A 
holdover from their human days I guess.  Though few would be foolish enough to 
betray a general without one hell of a payoff.  Of course refusal to cooperate 
was unthinkable."
     "But Jadeite did acknowledge you as his daughter?"
     "Yes.  I'd just tried to kill him and failed.  He told me he was my 
father and that I was a great disappointment.  I'm not sure which was worse to
him.  Trying to kill him or trying and botching the job."
     "But despite you missing him Jadeite fell during the battle?"
     "Yes."  I'm suddenly getting a cold feeling as I remember there's a 
secret about his death that only three of us know.  I'd rather it stayed that 
way.  Still maybe Ferrite will let this drop.
     "You haven't said how he did die yet."  Perhaps not.  I shrug and try to
sound casual.
     "That was a long time ago.  By my standards if not by yours.  Jadeite's
been dust in the wind on an alternate Earth for over a century.  Why does it
     "I'm just curious."  His voice is light enough but there's something
intense in his eyes.  For whatever reason he wants to know pretty badly.  Too
bad for him I can't answer.  Ti has no idea she was the one who struck the 
fatal blow and I'd rather it stayed that way.  She didn't recall doing it and
we didn't try to remind her.  We told her Cal finished him off while she was   
dazed and I think she bought it.  Necessary as it was I don't think she could 
have handled having killed anyone back then.  It would certainly have blighted
her youth and none of us wanted that.  Nowadays while she's prepared to fufill 
her oath to defend Crystal Tokyo recalling what happened would sully the 
memories of her carefree past.  But the story Cal killed Jadeite might well
collapse under close scrutiny.  So I'm not taking any chance of the truth 
coming back to haunt Ti.  Which is why I lie to him.
     "Unfortunately while you've got total recall of everything you've ever 
done I'm not so blessed.  The early years in Tokyo tend to blur together so 
I know the general outlines of what happened but the fine details are blurred. 
So when it comes to the showdown with Jadeite the only thing I'm sure of is I
didn't kill him.  But there were a lot of people going up against him, as I
said we'd recruited local help.  Everyone was throwing everything they had
against him and he was taking it.  It was one hell of a mess.  Lucky he was
hit with enough firepower to crack his forceshield.   After that ... as I
said everyone was trying to blast him.  Who knows who finished him off?  Could 
be whoever did take him out doesn't know they're the one who did it."  Which 
is the first unqualified truth in my whole recital.  
     Ferrite's studying me and I'm trying to radiate sincerity.  I don't know
if he buys it but he seems to decide that's the best answer he's going to get
out of me without doing something uncivilized.  There's a flicker of something 
cold in his eyes but then it's gone and he lets the matter drop.  I manage   
not to look relieved.  As for Ferrite his spirits seem to have dropped.
     He sighs, "So that's all four accounted for and only two of them died on 
Earth.  I saw Nephrite die in Juuban, Kunzite died in the tunnels, Zoisite in 
the Kingdom and Jadeite died in this other dimension."  After a moment he 
asks, "Could you return to the dimension Jadeite died if you wanted?"
     I'm surprised by the question.  "Only if Serenity unsealed the Nexus
Point.  As I said earlier she closed it years ago to prevent interdimensional 
     "Ah.  Yes, that's only sensible isn't it?"  The question's obviously
rhetorical.  I'm wondering why he asked that when he suddenly returns to my 
     "So Jadeite only acknowledged you as his just before he died.  You'd 
never had any other hints?"  He sounds skeptical.  Perhaps he can't believe
Jadeite would ignore his own flesh and blood like that.
     "No ...", then an old memory surfaces, "...wait a minute."  It becomes 
clearer and things click into place.  "With hindsight he did give me one hint.
I remember Magnesite had been summoned to the palace and ordered Cal and me
to accompany him.  At the time Cal had decoyed Minako to England and Jadeite
was supposed to be extracting life energy in Juban.  He was failing fairly
spectacularly on a regular basis.  I remember Magnesite was inside with Beryl 
and we were waiting in the antechamber.  Suddenly Jadeite stormed though the
door instead of teleporting from the throne room.  We immediately bowed and
expected him to keep going.  Instead he stopped in front of me and I started 
getting edgy.  Given his reputation it was quite possible I was about to get
an invitation to his quarters.  The only thing I could hope for was he'd
change his mind and keep going.  Instead he put a thumb under my chin and 
tilted my head up to look me in the face.  He studied me for a moment then
released me and told Calcite, 'She still needs polish.  Sharpen her up!'  He
didn't wait for Calcite to respond and stalked off.  We tried to figure out
what it was all about but couldn't come up with an answer.  Though we decided
it might be best if I stayed clear of him until he forgot about me.  We also
had a good laugh over someone who was blundering as much as him thinking  
anyone else needed improvement."
     "So maybe he was looking for an aide who'd keep him from screwing up so
regularly.  Someone he could trust to pull him out of the hole he was digging
himself into."
     "If you hadn't been related and he had been looking for a lover what
would you have done?"
     "Cooperated, layered on the compliments, tried to forget about it 
afterwards and trusted Calcite to keep Pyrite from doing anything stupid.  In
those days the name of the game was survival.  You didn't do anything that
might endanger the group by acting unyoumalike.  Turning down a general could 
do that.  Besides if I'd refused he could have made me cooperate through mind 
control.  Only reason he asked the lovers he picked was he liked to think they
all wanted him.  Some did, some didn't.  But no wasn't an option."
     He shakes his head.  "Jadeite as some maniacal playboy ... Beryl really
did a number on him."
     "I take it the man you knew wasn't such a complete misogynist?"
     He snorts.  "If he was Rei would never have been interested in him."
Then frowns like he's said too much.
     "Rei?  But she never ... wait you mean Rei's first incarnation and
Jadeite ...?"
     There's an uncomfortable silence before he says, "That was a long time
ago.  The Jadeite I knew died the day Beryl grabbed him.  What you knew was
just a shell with the same face.  Why don't we leave it like that?"
     I should and yet I've got this funny feeling ... I don't know why but I
can't leave this alone.  "Ferrite ... could you tell me a little more about 
the Jadeite you knew?  I ... I'm just curious what the real man was like.  All
I ever knew was Beryl's creation.  I don't know why this suddenly seems to
matter but ..."  I have no idea why I'm asking this and I can't define what
I'm feeling right now.  I'm half hoping he'll refuse, half scared he will.
     Ferrite's unreadable again, with centuries of practise you can become
truly inscrutable.  Then he smiles and says, "I guess a few old yarns won't
hurt."  His voice is warm and he seems genuinely relaxed for the first time
this evening.
     He's an enthralling storyteller as he sketches Endymion's trip to Mars
to consult the sacred flame, Jadeite's courtship of a Rei at least as 
volatile as ours and their story's tragic ending.  I'm surprised to learn 
Jadeite was a title rather than a name.  A title that was to have been born 
by his elder brother until an untimely death thrust it upon an unprepared
scholar.  The contrast to the man I knew is shocking.  I never truly realized 
that in all the generals there was a man behind the monster.  Everyone knows 
about Nephrite as Beryl's control over him was fracturing towards the end so
he was redeeming himself.  But the others died as Beryl's creatures and all
they once were was forgotten.  They are remembered solely as demonic servants 
of Beryl.  No one knows them as anything else except for their former comrade. 
Only Ferrite honours the memory of the men they were.
     "Thank you."
     "Thank you.  It's good to remember the golden days sometimes.  Lately
it seems all I remember are the bad times.  I'm sorry you never got to meet
the real Jadeite."  With that he raises his glass and toasts, "To absent
comrades."  After draining it he's silent for a moment then glances at the 
clock.  "I can't believe I was talking that long."  
     The table's empty, Noriko cleared away the dishes while Ferrite was  
talking.  I didn't even notice!  Noriko's been sitting quietly watching us, 
not wanting to interrupt.  Now she glides over and offers us the dessert menus
before refilling our glasses and retreating.  By now I think I can manage 
something sweet.  Ferrite seems to be interested in trying something new so 
we begin studying our menus.  Then something catches his eye.
    "Hmmm glazed Krym Fruit.  How's that?"
    I shrugged.   "Some people like it but I have to say I was never too
fond of it.  I think they taste pretty sour, still that's only to be 
    "The Krym vine is actually a pest, it chokes out more useful plants.  And
that's why they taste acidic."
     He looks thoughtful then shakes his head slightly. "Sorry I don't follow 
     It's all in the timing.  Looking serious I tell, "The weed of Krym bears
bitter fruit."
     There's a moment of silence then he breaks out laughing.  When he's
stopped I shrug and say, "Hey, Pyrite and Titanite aren't the only ones to 
have studied twentieth century pop culture."
     "I must be one of the few people who could get that joke.  Well then ..." 
He raises his glass.  "Here's to knowing the evil that lurks in the hearts
of men!"
     I raise my glass.  "Along with knowing the good."   
     Our glasses clink, "Amen!"
     A sentiment I'm happy to toast.


Writer's notes:

Ferrite created by Frank Barr

Aino Minako/Sailor Venus and related characters created by Naoko Takeuchi

Azurite, Pyrite, Titanite, Calcite, Magnesite & Margrave are mine 

Events in this story inspired by and drawn from "Crystal Renegades" by Andy 

Azurite's unnamed philosopher, "The Evil Midnight Lurker What Lurks At 
Midnight!".  But while he might have said it on the SME Earth in our world 
it's from someone else.  To quote the Lurker who brought it to my attention:  
     "It's from a rather odd cookbook entitled "Domesticity: A Gastronomic 
Interpretation of Love," by Bob Shacochis; Chapter 12, "How Green was my 

Thanks to Sam Ashley for developing very detailed Dark Kingdom cuisine from a 
few throwaway mentions in my DKR stories.  As well as the Wixxelgate incident
and the City of Jade (see "Encyclopedia Metallia" for more info.)

"The weed of crime bears bitter fruit" was a catch phrase associated with
Walter Gibson's, "The Shadow".  So was "Who know what evil lurks in the hearts 
of men?  The Shadow knows!"

Thanks to everyone on the SME list for all the weird inspirations and a lot
of fun.

Check out the SME homepage at

Timeline for the events mentioned in this story 

2010-2015 Great Darkness - DKR return to Earth towards the end of this period
2015      Creation of Crystal Tokyo/End of Great Darkness
2016      Serenity summons DKR.  Azurite and Pyrite depart CT.  Sailor Polaris 
          added to Senshi roster, Calcite elevated to Lord Calcite.
2017      Marriage of Minako and Calcite.  Reawakening of Ferrite/Trenchcoat 
2019      Serenity arranges for Calcite and Minako to conceive a child
2020      Birth of Aino Kimeko
2020-2100 Petition Serenity to enable them to have more children.  Births 
          spread throughout this period.  Towards the end first cracks 
          appearing in marriage.  Suppressed for sake of their latest child.  
          Last child of this marriage reaches age of majority and moves out.
2100-2110 Marriage deteriorating.  Slowly at first but accelerating towards 
          the end of this period.
2110      Fighting in public rather than behind closed doors
2110-2112 Attempts by various friends & family to reconcile them with limited 
2113      Calcite and Minako pledge fresh start.  On the surface all appears 
          well.  Privately agree no more children until they're sure 
          everything's stable.
2118      Public fighting frequent but still sticking together.
2120      Azurite and Pyrite return to CT & marry.  Pyrite joins CTU faculty.  
          Azurite enrolls in CTU in Anthropology PhD program
2123      Divorce of Calcite and Minako.  Followed shortly by the sparring 
          incident and Serenity's intervention.
2125      Azurite receives PhD.  Offered and accepts post at CTU.  Calcite 
          revives Gray identity and departs CT
2126      Azurite rewrites thesis for the popular market as "Kingdom of 
2145      Calcite returns to Crystal Tokyo
2147      Minako and Calcite observed together on occasion
2149      Minako and Calcite observed together frequently
2150      Second Marriage of Calcite and Minako
2151      Birth of Aino Hiroshi, first child of second marriage

TEXT to HTML conversion by Douglas Helm.