Sailor Moon Expanded : Venus at Apogee

Sailor Moon Expanded : Venus At Apogee
by Mark Latus

2007 AD

    "Thank you Aino-san, we'll let you know.  Next!"
    I've been through enough auditions to recognise rejection when I
hear it.  So I just thank them and head offstage to grab my bag.  
Behind me the next idol hopeful steps up to the mike looking for the
teleprompter.  I slid through the backstage crowd acknowledging the
odd, "You were great!" or "You looked sensational" comment.  Now I'm 
no longer a contender it's safe for the other contenders to praise me 
without risking jinxing themselves.  I manage not to sigh out loud but
it's hard to shrug it off.  Yet another stumble on the road to fame 
and fortune.  It's safe to say my life isn't quite turning out the 
way I envisioned.  Bring on Crystal Tokyo!  I could use a few breaks.
    It's a bit alarming how young most of the crowd look.  The other 
early twenties in here are also looking edgy.  The pendulum's 
swinging back towards teen idols and by the time it goes to back to 
our agegroup we'll all be too old for anything but backup singers.  
At least far as they know, there I've got something of an ace in the 
hole.  On the bright side at least virtual idols turned out to be a 
flash in the pan.  After the novelty wore off, thankfully, the male 
audience decided they'd rather fantasize over girls they have at 
least a chance in a million of meeting in the flesh.  
     When I signed up for the audition I told them I was 21 and I can 
pass for that easily enough.  If I'd said I was 29 they'd either 
have rejected me on the spot or asked my secret.   "Well I eat 
sensibly, exercise regularly, keep my mind constantly challenged (I 
can almost hear Artemis making cynical comments) and I've got this 
friend with a magic jewel."  That's probably why it's best to keep 
it a secret.  I don't wind to wind up rooming next to Usagi's old 
school friend whatshername.
     The girl by the door seems puzzled I didn't bring a coat. 
I tell her that long as we're getting the sun November doesn't seem
that cool.  Truth is I just forgot.  It takes a lot more than this to 
chill me these days and if I don't watch myself I wind up wearing a 
miniskirt in the middle of winter.  Naturally I always look great in a
mini but it can draw the wrong kind of attention.  Not that I don't 
have to be underdressed in winter sometimes but when I do the only 
people who can recognise me have equally odd dressing habits.  
     "No luck, huh?"
     Artemis appears from behind the dumpster and jumps onto my 
kitbag.  "Afraid not, well tomorrow there's a silver lining."  From 
the way he rolls his eyes I've got another one wrong again but he 
doesn't bother correcting me these days.  I guess after all these 
years he figures, why bother?
     "That's too bad."  He sounds sincere.  Normally Artemis is down
on my dreams of fame and pushing me to find something more practical
with my life.  I always tell him that I can get serious about things 
after Usagi takes over the world (though taking that seriously isn't 
easy) but here and now I'm living for myself.  However right now he 
figures I could have used a break.  Not that I'm really down but it 
hasn't been a very good week.  I don't know, you think you know a guy 
then he pulls something like that.
     Shinji seemed like a real find.  Rich family, willing to spoil 
me, a good lover and a lot of fun.  I was sure that this time, this 
was it.  I never saw it coming.  Okay so Artemis warned me about him 
but Artemis gets uptight every time I bring a guy home.  For a tomcat 
he's pretty straight-laced.  Keeps muttering about some things never 
changing whatever that means.  Something to do with the old days, I 
guess.  Anyway that's why I didn't take him too seriously.
     So maybe Ami had a few words to say as well.  Along with Rei ...
okay, Usagi didn't like him either.  How I was I supposed to know 
they were right?  They've all got someone so they're free to get 
picky about my boyfriends.  Makoto thought he was okay and as the 
only other member of the unofficial Single Senshi Society I trust her 
judgement over theirs.  Still maybe I should have guessed there'd be 
trouble when she said he reminded her of you know who.  Everytime she 
thinks that about a guy things go wrong for her.
     So suddenly over breakfast on Monday he suddenly tells me that 
his parents have been looking to set up a marriage with this oldest
daughter of another corporate family.  While I start choking on my 
juice he tells me they've met and agreed with their parents wishes so 
the wedding's next month.  But this needn't mean the end of our 
relationship as he's willing to keep me as his mistress.  Of course  
we'll have to be a lot more discrete when he's a married man.
     I managed to avoid doing anything violent but he looked very 
surprised when I tossed him and his clothes out the door and locked 
it.  My first impulse was to use the window but as I'm on the tenth 
floor that would have been a little much.  So my week got off to a 
pretty rocky start and things haven't been getting any better.  At 
least Artemis didn't tell me "I told you so" and all the others 
sympathized.  Except for Rei but I expected that from her.   
     Well, you can't win them all and there's no sense brooding about
these things.  I was down a few days but I've bounced back.  It 
helped me cheer up to hear that Shinji's beautifully restored Ferrari
suddenly broke down in the middle of Shinjuku's rush-hour which made 
him very unpopular.  The thought of him getting cursed by hundreds of 
angry drivers made me smile.  Apparently every electrical system in 
the car somehow fried itself beyond repair.  Odd but these mysterious 
automotive mishaps seem to befall guys who mistreat senshi.  Like 
that creep who humiliated Mako by publicly dumping her and making 
sure everyone in earshot heard what he called her.  He came out of 
that hotel with his new girl to find someone had cut his car in half 
with a wielding torch.
     Or a laser beam.
     "Why don't you get together with Makoto?  Go hit the bars 
the way you used to?"  Artemis seems sure I need cheering and I'm 
nursing a broken heart.  It's sweet for him to be concerned but I 
really am fine.  Once the shock wore off I realized it didn't hurt 
as much as I expected.  So, once again it wasn't real love or I'd 
be falling apart at our breakup.  I remember how Usagi looked when 
she thought Mamoru had dumped her and I'm nowhere near that.  So it 
was wishful thinking on my part.
     I guess that's the real difference between Mako and me.  She 
takes it all so seriously.  Every guy is the one and only and when it 
doesn't work out she's a basket case for weeks.  And I'm always the 
one to jolly her out it because everyone else has their own lives to
worry about.  Which means sometimes people mistake us for a couple 
and I have to put up with Haruka's innuendo about us coming round to 
their way of thinking.  Michiru's okay but Haruka gets on my nerves 
sometimes.  Well, she always amused herself by flirting with the 
inners.  I guess she figures as the unmarried ones we're the best 
targets left for teasing.
    Three out of five as couples.  Usagi and Mamoru, Rei and Yuuchiro 
and Ami and Tom.  Of course those last two haven't wed yet.  I really
don't know why Ami won't make it official, we all agree they're as 
good as married.  But she's holding him off until after the big 
change hits. Whenever that's going to be.  Same reason Usagi and Rei 
are avoiding having kids.  Of course Mamoru knows why but Tom and 
Yuuchiro must be very confused.  They'll have to live with it, we 
swore to keep it all secret.  The more people know a secret the more 
it leaks and that could mean disaster.  We vowed to never even 
mention it to anyone outside of our group.  Including the Outer 
Senshi, Ami figures if they were supposed to know what's coming 
Setsuna would have told them.  
     Speaking of our resident genius, Ami figures keeping quiet 
minimizes the chance of screwing things up and getting a paradox.  I 
don't really follow the logic but if she's even half right about what 
could happen if we get one I sure don't want to take any chances.  
None of us do.  
     That reminds me of something funny.  Last time Ami turned down 
his proposal saying the time wasn't right Tom said he could wait.  
All the way to the end of the world if need be.  You should have seen 
the look on Ami's face!   
     "Hello!  Artemis to Minako, come in please."
     "Huh!  What's wrong?"
     "You've been brooding for the past ten minutes."
     "Excuse me, I don't brood!"
     "Uh huh.  Well you were looking pretty serious until you 
suddenly started smirking.  So what do you think of my suggestion?"
     Right, he asked me something.  "Uh, could you repeat it?"        
     He rolls his eyes again.  "I said you should get try and get 
together with Makoto tonight."
     "Can't, I'm working.  Look I know you mean well but I've fine.  
I've got used to failing auditions.  I'm not a kid sure she's going 
to make it to the top without a hitch anymore.  So maybe my career 
will never take off.  It's not the end of ...  Not everyone makes it 
and we ... all of us do have something a lot more important waiting 
for us to accomplish!  Beside that destiny nothing else that happens 
     Artemis looked sour (as always) when I mentioned working but got 
all solemn and grave looking when I started talking destiny.  Glad I 
managed not to giggle.  Like Luna he takes things way too seriously.  
They really need to lighten up a bit.  As for my job I really don't 
see what's so demeaning about being a hostess.  Half the unemployed 
actresses, dancers and singers in Tokyo do it.  The other half 
waitress and that's a lot harder.  I just have to look decorative, 
stay upbeat and politely turn down the propositions.  It pays the 
bills and the tips are a lot better.  Plus I look just about the 
right age, old enough to be legal but not that far out of my teen 
years.  This probably says a lot about the patrons but that's their 
hangup, not mine.
     I will give Makoto a call, see if she feels like getting 
together for a girls' night out in a couple of days.  My treat 
as I owe her one.  Besides Mako's also between guys right now so
we should start looking again.  Most of us can't sit around and 
wait for destiny to hand us our own prince.  We've still got find
him ourselves.  After all we've got plenty of time to find Mr Right.
It's not the end of the world.
     Not for a while yet.
     The rest of the day passes pretty uneventfully except for Artemis
still trying to cheer me up which starts getting on my nerves.  I'm 
used to him always making cynical comments on my life so this is 
really throwing me off.  It's a relief to head off to work and leave 
him watching TV.  I've got something of a reputation in this building 
because the neighbours frequently hear a man's voice coming from my
apartment when I'm dating somebody else.  Still if he meowed I'd get
kicked out for violating the "no pets" clause so it's something I have
to live with.
     It's pretty late when I get back but I don't care.  Artemis is a 
light sleeper so I'll bet I'd have woken him anyway.  He rubs his eyes
with a paw and mutters sleepily, "Mina?  Wha'timeisit?"   Then 
suddenly wakes up, "OH NO!"
     "Careful, there's people trying to sleep."
     "You're smiling ... and humming.  Don't tell me ..."
     "I've just met the perfect guy!"
     He groans, "I knew it!  Who's it this time?"
     "His name Kysokue.  He's a photographer ..."
     "Let me guess, he thinks you'd make a wonderful model."
     "That's right!  At last things are turning my way!"
     He looks like he's about to disagree then sighs and shakes his 
head.  "Well I wanted you to cheer up didn't I?  But it's really a 
waste of time worrying about you.  You never learn!"  He shakes his
head again but smiles a little.  "But the reason you never learn is
that you never take love seriously."  Hold it!  That's over the line, 
     "Excuse me, I'm the senshi of love and beauty remember!"
     "Doesn't mean you've ever truly been in love.  You always think 
you are but deep down you know it's not serious.  So when things 
don't work out you're down for a while then bounce right back and 
look for the next guy.  I should've realized Shinji wasn't any 
different but I thought that this time you'd fallen for the guy hard. 
Silly of me. About the only time you didn't snap out of it right 
away was after the mess with that English boy.  It took you months to 
bounce back after that."      
     Alan, first boy I lost my heart to.  Haven't thought about him in
ages.  He's right, after all these years I still feel worse about 
losing him than Shinji.  Of course Alan was a decent guy, not a creep 
like my ex.  Thanks a lot, Artemis!  You just had to remind me of him 
and sour my mood.  "Okay, so maybe that's been true up to now but 
this time it's for real!"
     Artemis chuckles a little, "It always is.  But good luck anyway."
     "I don't need luck.  Kysokue's the one.  I can feel it!  We're 
connected by a red string!  Our eyes met from across the room and he 
said I stood out like a star overshadowing all the other girls.  I
don't want to make other women look drab but I can't help it.  It's   
such a burden to be so beautiful!"
     "Please don't laugh like that, you'll give me nightmares."  
Artemis sounds like his usual skeptical self.  "This all sounds very
familiar but who knows?  Maybe things will be different this time."
     "They will.  This is the one that's going to last.  I can feel
     "Uh huh.  Well, try not to overdo the nude modelling when he asks
to take a few pictures."  My mooncat's a definite cynic but that can 
be handy sometimes.  Just before he pads off to bed he looks and me 
and says, "I dread to think what'll happen when you really do get 
serious about someone.  But I'm guessing it'll be nothing but 
     I have to wonder what he meant by that.  I'm already serious 
about Kysokue, why should he think otherwise?  This time I've finally 
found the right guy!  But just to be on the safe side I won't mention 
him to Makoto just yet.  I remember what she said last time we were 
out together getting over our latest broken hearts.  I was telling 
her whatI looked for a guy when she suddenly snorted and said, 
"Minako, you'd go out with Dracula if he was good looking.  How many 
times did you date the guys we were fighting?"  That was a bit much.  
I hardly ever dated our enemies.  Besides most of the ones who 
weren't female were either gay or ugly so no loss there.  We haven't 
really taken on many handsome foes.  Which is maybe just as well 
'cause who needs extra distractions in battle?  
     That thought reminds me of someone.  Wonder whatever happened to 
him and the rest of his gang?  
     Well, who cares?  Last time we saw them was years ago so they 
obviously aren't coming back.  It's no concern of mine.  Too many 
people dwell on the past when all that really matters is the future.
And my future's with Kysokue.  
     I'm sure of that.
     Like I say I'm the senshi of the planet of love.  How can I be 
wrong about true love?  
     Don't answer that.


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