Sailor Moon Expanded

Dark Kingdom Renegades/Sailor Moon : Thy Kingdom Come
by Mark Latus

Part 4 : "... And It Is Your Duty"

     It was getting late and there weren't many people left in the laundromat.
Few of the dryers were still running and the place was cooling down.  The cold 
seemed to be seeping in and the few customers remaining shivered now and 
again.  Except for the two girls sitting together on the battered bench.  
Each was wrapped in a nice trenchcoat which didn't fit with the dishevelled
appearance of their hair and faces.  The cold didn't seem to bother them.
Despite the fact that on the occasions they moved they exposed a lot of bare
skin.  They obviously weren't wearing a lot beneath those coats despite this  
being the dead of winter.  Yet neither showed signs of discomfort.  Or of
wanting any company.  
     For the most part they just sat there silently, wrapped in their own 
thoughts.  They'd arrived about an hour ago carrying no laundry.  Both had
ducked into the small toilet and emerged (following some muttered exertions)
carrying a small bundle of clothes.  And with their coats wrapped tighter
around themselves.  This had raised the interesting possibility of what they    
were wearing under those coats in the mind in the minds of a couple of bored
students.  But closer examination of the pair had been deterred by their youth
and grubbiness.  Not to mention that the taller of the pair had noticed a 
warped metal support strut on the empty bench, reached down and with one hand
effortlessly bent it back into shape.  Then given them a very cold look.  
Suddenly watching their clothes tumbling in the machines had become very
     Now the tall one was keeping watch on their dryer and shooting hostile 
glances at anyone who approached.  Her friend with the blue tinged hair kept 
staring at a piece of notepaper clutched between her hands.  There was some 
sort of gameboy or other compact videogame machine in her lap.  She'd pick it 
up every now and again but her attention kept returning to the paper.  As 
though she could puzzle out its secrets by sheer force of will.  For the 
most part both remained silent, exchanging the odd word but discussing 
nothing of import.  Runaways perhaps?  But they didn't seem lost, alone and  
vulnerable.  They looked hard and dangerous and the shorter seemed extremely 
focused.  The taller was clearly the more uncertain but deferred to the other.
Strange girls.  They definitely looked like they'd been through hard times.
Well everyone present had their own problems and didn't feel like lending a
helping hand.
     "Almost done."  Makoto nodded towards the dryer.  Ami nodded and kept
staring at the paper.  Makoto sat silently for a moment then gave a long
suffering sigh.  "Ami, I really think we're overdoing the mollosyllabic 
Terminator impressions."
     "You mean monosyllabic."  With that Sailor Hermes fell silent again.
     "You know that's the longest thing you've said in the past hour."  Ami
didn't respond.  Makoto winced slightly, it was going to be one of those days.  
She was going to have to drag Ami out of her self imposed shell.  Ami was 
definitely worse than usual.  This world had hit them with plenty of shocks.  
The latest of which had struck Ami just after they decided to clean themselves
up while they tried to work things out.  Since they got here and she'd seen 
that guy.
     It had been just after arrival that Ami noticed him.  They'd just loaded 
their washer and those guys had been eyeing them.  The gaijin in the black 
trenchcoat had been sitting near his dryer reading a newspaper.  He'd looked 
up to scowl at the students but seen his intervention unnecessary when 
Makoto's display of strength convinced them to look elsewhere.  He'd glanced 
at the pair for a moment then shrugged and returned to his paper.
     Yet as he'd looked over Ami had looked thunderstruck.  She'd suddenly 
whispered, "Davis-Sensei!" 
     At that he'd suddenly looked up from his paper and turned to study them.  
Makoto knew that had to be coincidence.  Sure she could have heard a whisper 
from across a room and over the roar of the machines but a normal guy?  Not a
     His gaze had flickered over her and fixed on Ami.  She was pretending not 
to notice him, acting like the washing machine was the most fascinating thing 
she'd ever seen.  His expression was one of mild puzzlement.  He knew her from 
somewhere but couldn't place the face with a name.  He'd watched Ami with a 
thoughtful frown for about a minute when he noticed Makoto's glare.  He'd 
smiled and made a palms up gesture trying to indicate he meant neither harm 
nor insult.  His dryer had pinged and, glad of the distraction, he'd gone over 
to check its contents.
     He'd folded his clothes and packed them neatly in a kitbag.  Slinging 
it over his shoulder he'd headed for the doorway.  He had paused on the 
threshold for one last look at Ami then shook his head and exited the 
laundromat.  Unable to place the familiar looking girl whose friend obviously
resented his attention.  For that matter he had the funny feeling he knew the
second girl from somewhere but he couldn't think where.  A pair of former 
students who'd gone downhill?  No, that didn't feel quite right but he had  
definitely seen both before.  Funny, he felt like their names were on the tip 
of his tongue but just wouldn't materialize.  Another mystery, like why his
memory of his first year in Tokyo was so hazy.  Could have met them back then
but they'd become as vague as so much else?  Oh well, they obviously didn't 
want to talk so it would have to stay a mystery.  Hopefully it would all come 
back to him eventually.
     Ami had suddenly looked over at the empty doorway and sighed.  After a 
few moments Makoto had asked, "So did you know that guy?"
     Ami had remained silent a moment then nodded, "Yes.  Or rather I knew our 
world's version of him.  One of the few people I knew who died before the  
conquest.  Struck by a bus in our world.  Looks like he was luckier here. 
Another variation between them."  Another variation neither had reason to
suspect was Sailor Jupiter had her own connection to Robert Davis.  But in 
their world Makoto hadn't been walking with him at a crucial moment.  So she 
had to use a different stand-in when she couldn't bluff Mitaka-san anymore.
     "So who was he?  You called him Sensei."  Now that she thought about it
he did look vaguely familiar.  One of those people you met in passing then
largely forgot, she guessed.
     "He was a teacher at my old cram school.  The one where I first
became Sailor Hermes though he arrived after that mess.   Can you believe Luna 
thought I was a youma?"  She shook her head in disbelief.  Talk about jumping
to conclusions.
     "Oh right, you've mentioned that.  For a while there it was just 
you and Usagi as the Senshi."
     "If you don't count Minako but she'd gone to England before Usagi first
     "Yeah."  Makoto's thoughts turned back to Ami's teacher.  Pretty good  
looking really.  Matter of fact he reminded her of her old ...  Good grief, 
she hadn't got over him yet?  To distract herself she'd asked Ami, "So you 
really liked him?"
     Ami had flushed.  "Wha ... What makes you say that!"  
     "Your reaction.  You normally act like the original ice queen."  Ami had 
actually gone a little redder.  Amazing, signs of life not connected to
fighting.  "So you had a crush on the teacher ..."
     "Nothing like that!  I just ... liked him.  He was a good man."  Memories
of simpler times had emerged.  Back in the days when the world made sense (at
least as much as it could with Usagi around) and she knew she'd grow up to be
a doctor.  Happier days.  "I remember I was on this train and these creeps 
were bothering me.  He was on the same train, saw them and came over to stop 
them from hassling me ..."  She shook her head, "... He did but I didn't 
realize they'd gone.  So I though he was one of them and ... I really messed 
things up.  Talk about embarrassing!  But he took it in stride."  Ami smiled 
faintly.  "Then Rei somehow got convinced he was possessed and snuck up and 
whacked him on the forehead with a spirit ward ..."
     "Was he possessed?"
     "No, in the slightest.  He could have read us the riot act but he was a 
good sport about humouring Rei's ... eccentricities."
     "Eccentricities ... that's a pretty good description."
     Ami had actually chuckled.  "You have no idea.  Back when it was just me, 
Rei and Usagi as the Senshi I'd be hard pressed to tell you which of them was 
the more likely to embarrass me in public.   You should have seen the way Rei 
acted when she convinced me to come on this harbour cruise with her!"  Rei 
had made a real spectacle of herself after she'd failed to find herself a
boyfriend.  Everyone in the ship's dining room had stared at their table and
Ami had felt like crawling under it.  What a character!  And Usagi was even
worse!   "You should have seen her.  Then there was the way both of them acted 
at the amusement park.  No wonder I preferred working with Luna."  Ami had to
laugh at the memories.  Sometimes humiliating but lots of fun, those were the 
     Ami had actually seemed to be cheering up.  Makoto could kick herself for 
what she'd said next.  "Those were both Dark Kingdom traps weren't they?"
     Ami's expression had hardened.  "Yes.  Back then we could laugh at the 
Dark Kingdom.  They seemed so inept.  We had no idea of the atrocities they 
were capable of committing!"  With that she'd fallen silent and begun staring 
at the note.  She'd said perhaps six words since then.  
     Makoto's thought returned to the here and now.  Their dryer would be 
through its cycle in a few minutes and Ami was still playing the great stone
face.  Makoto was rather used to this behaviour so she didn't get exasperated.  
If she wanted a response out of Ami she'd better change tactics.  "Well?"
     "Well what?"
     "So what do you think?"  No response.  Try again.  "Look Ami you've been
staring at that note for an hour.  It doesn't take that long to read, it isn't
'War and Peace' ... which you probably read in an afternoon anyway.  You've  
got to have an opinion."  With that she snatched the note and read it out
loud.  "Here goes, 'I can get you a working warpkey and arrange for the Senshi 
to meet up with you at the gatepoint.  But it'll take a bit of time.  Meet me 
in the park we first met at 3 am tonight.', signed 'Titanite aka Sailor 
Polaris'.  Short and to the point." 
     "It's got to be a trap!"  Makoto noticed Ami didn't sound 100% positive
about that.  Not that anyone who didn't know her as well as she did would have
caught the slight quiver.  "We show up and the youma ambush us."
     "Uh huh."
     "What is that supposed to mean?"
     "The same thing you're thinking.  Why do it in such a complicated way?
Calcite ... at least the Overlord version, doesn't go in those complex traps.  
He said something like, 'The more convoluted a scheme the more things can go 
wrong with it'.  Or something along those lines.  They could have wiped us 
out when we first arrived.  The Senshi made a great distraction for us and 
weren't their enemies.  They could have blasted us and passed it off as an 
error in the heat of battle.  And if they didn't want to wipe us out in front 
of the Senshi then they had other options.  Sure he dissolved those collars 
but he could have planted something to do the same thing in the coats.  Hell, 
he could have sculpted the coats out of psychoplasm and used them to toast us
when we were far enough away."
     Ami sighed.  "You're right, I'm not sure it's a trap.  Right now I'm not
sure of anything anymore."  After a pause to glance at the note again she
shook her head.  "But the only other explanation is that this version of 
Titanite wants to help us ... which makes no sense.  Unless she's crazy ..."
Ami looked speculative, "Now that I think of it she did seem somewhat
     Makoto frowned.  "She reminded me of Usagi and Minako."
     "Like I said."  Makoto turned to look at Ami.  Her face seemed it's
usual impassive mask.  Then she caught the hint of an upward curve at the
corners of Ami's mouth.  For a moment she felt disbelief.  Ami smiling? 
However faint it seemed so out of place.  Then Makoto found herself 
remembering some of the craziness the pair of blondes had inflicted on them
and began to chuckle.  Ami begin to grin and started to laugh.  Makoto found
the laughter bubbling up from inside and began to laugh like a hyena.  It
seemed unstoppable, she hadn't laughed in so long.  There's been nothing to
laugh about in months and Ami had been so grim and humourless.  In the grip
of a full blown belly laugh she pounded on the bench's armrest, bending the
tubular steel down to touch the seat.  She didn't notice.
     They sobered up far too soon.  Ami first as she remembered the fate of
their Sailors Moon and Aphrodite (or Venus as they called her here).  She 
couldn't think what had got into her.  Why had she done that?  "Because you're
human not the purely logical war machine you've tried to make yourself into",
a treacherous part of her mind whispered.  She ignored it and tried to think
the way she'd taught herself to this past year.  It was harder than it should
be.  There were so many possibilities her mind was whispering to her.
     Makoto's laughter slowed down and ground to a halt.  That had felt good,
she hadn't laughed in so long.  God, she missed them.  She wiped her eyes 
then looked around.  Without much surprise she realized everyone in here was 
staring at her.  Well, not surprising considering the racket she'd been 
making.  Then she glanced down and saw she'd popped some buttons on the coat
exposing most of her long, bare legs.  She blushed.  Luckily she hadn't popped 
any of the higher buttons or she'd be really embarrassed.
     To distract herself she quickly strode over to the dryer.  It had stopped
spinning while she was laughing her head off.  Popping the door she sorted
through the warm clothing and nodded with satisfaction.  She snagged an 
empty basket and tossed everything in.  After double checking the dryer she
carried the laundry over to Ami.  Placing the basket on the bench she grabbed
the bigger of the bodysuits and held it up proudly.  
     "White again!"  This was more like it.  Not quite as proudly she picked
up the green skirt.  "Well ... still kind of shabby but at least it's the 
right colour."  She studied some of her stitching critically.  "Suppose 
there's any place around here I can get a needle and thread?  This needs some 
repair.  The bows are looking a little threadbare too.  How's your stuff?"
     Ami glanced in the basket briefly.  "Looks fine ... well clean anyhow.
Sit down a minute Z ... Mako."
     Zeus dropped her clean fuku back in the basket then pushed the basket to 
the end of the bench.  Pausing only to bend the armrest back (the screech of 
tortured metal convincing their audience to look away) she sat beside Ami.
Ami took a deep breath then spoke.
     "Before I distracted us I was theorising about the young youma.  If this
isn't a trap then two questions arise.  Where is she getting a ... warpkey
as she calls it and why is she doing this?"
     Makoto considered this.  "That's right.  This world's Calcite ..."
     "No Calcites anywhere belong in this world!"  Cold and definite.  Sounded 
like Ami was back to normal.  Or what passed for normal for her these days.
So Makoto sighed and nodded before continuing.
     "Fine.  Anyway he told us that they'd destroyed the warpkey.  Simple 
answer is he was lying ..."
     "True and that would be just like a youma.  However there is an 
alternative.  He was telling us the truth, but not the whole truth."  Mako 
looked puzzled and Ami continued.  "From what I could gather it seems to be
the adult youma who want to avoid or at least minimize contact with the 
Senshi.  At least that's the appearance they gave.  If that's for real then 
there's something we're overlooking.  There are four adult youma.  The 
catwoman seemed to belong to Calcite.  But the other two live separately, they
were simply there for the celebration."  She said the last words in a tone of
disbelief.  Youma celebrating the end of the Dark Kingdom was very hard to 
     Makoto got it almost immediately.  Learning to think on her feet had be
a definite boon to survival.  "So maybe they've still got a warpkey.  Just in
case leaving this dimension seems like a good idea ... what do you suppose
they meant by sideffects?"
     Ami had been pondering that.  "I don't know.  I think I'm still unchanged
but I can't deny the possibility that I wouldn't be able to notice any 
variation in my own behaviour.  We'll have to leave that question for now.  
Returning to the warpkey issue if this version of Azurite and Pyrite have one 
     "Then we could use that!  Except they aren't going to lend it to us and 
we have no idea where to find them.  But this Titanite does so maybe she's
planning to ... acquire it."
     "That is a possibility."  For the first time Makoto could recall Ami 
looked perplexed.  "But that doesn't answer the basic question of why she'd
help us when her elders want the dimensional gateways staying closed.  
Assuming this is all on the level, which is hard to imagine when youma are
     Makoto thought about this.  "Well your counterpart seems to think that
they're serious and if she's as smart as you ..."  Ami made a dismissive
     "Intelligence is one thing, attitude is another.  Physically she's older
but mentally ..."  Ami shook her head.  "She's still as naive and trusting as
I used to be.  Her opinion can't be taken as gospel."
     "But if things are as they appear and the youma don't want to risk the
Dark Kingdom getting into this world?"
     Ami looked hesitant then confessed, "If that is the case then I have no
idea what's motivating this Titanite."
     "I've got an idea."  She flushed a little as Ami stared at her.  "It
sounds kind of crazy but what if it's just the adults who want to avoid the
Senshi?  What if ... remember she was calling herself Sailor Polaris?"
     "Their Azurite was calling herself Sailor Arcturus!"
     "Yeah, but she said that was just so she could use her powers in public.
Titanite didn't say that.  What if ... what if she wants to be a Senshi?"
     "WHAT!"  Everyone in the laundromat stared at them again then quickly
glanced away.  In a quieter tone Ami hissed, "That is completely crazy!  A
youma senshi?"
     "So maybe she is crazy.  But think about it.  If she can get us home and
get the Senshi to see her do it then she's going to look very good to them.
Especially if they're as naive and trusting as you seem to think."  Makoto
paused a moment to collect her thoughts.  "I've been trying to think how I'd
have reacted to something like this in the old days.  More importantly how
Usagi would have acted.  And you know what, I'll bet she'd have fallen for
     Ami nodded grimly.  "Yes.  I think you're right."  Even as she said that
the idea formed.  It didn't matter if the youma was sincere or deranged as
long as she delivered.  In fact there was a way to make excellent use of her
whichever case it was.  She needed time to sort out all the details but they
had several hours.  Yes, perhaps ... just perhaps their luck had finally
changed.  Not that she really believed in luck.  And yet ...   She made her
decision.  "Zeus!"  Makoto snapped to attention, Ami was talking officially
which meant her marching orders.  "We will meet her in the park tonight!"
Seemed she'd made her decision.  Makoto tried to lighten things a little.
     "Three o clock?  We'll have to watch out for the fairies."
     "Just something my mother told me once."  Ami obviously didn't want to
hear the anecdote.  "Perhaps later."  She looked at the clothes then flicked
her gaze to the washroom.  "So should we get dressed?"
     "Not just yet."
     "Eh?"  Ami had just surprised her.
     "There's not much point in pulling nice clean fukus over these dirty
bodies of ours.  So let's find a drugstore and pickup some soap and shampoo.
After that we'll look for a public baths."  Ami's face seemed to soften a bit.
"For all that I say I don't mind enduring the muck we pick up on field
operations and the lack of a proper bathroom back at the base I'd prefer to 
be clean once in a while."
     Makoto said wistfully, "I remember clean.  I liked it."
     "So let's go do something about it."  With that Ami scooped up her 
uniform and folded it into a compact bundle.  Makoto followed suit and the
pair exited the laundromat.
     Makoto lowered herself into the heated pool luxurating in the sheer 
pleasure of the experience.  She felt her muscles unknit and gave a happy
sigh.  It had been a very long time since she'd been able to relax like this.  
There'd been that hot spring a few months back but she hadn't been able to
relax there.  They'd stayed on guard just in case.  Which had been proved to
be a sensible precaution when the Seven Great Youma showed up backed up by a
few troopers.  What followed had been a bit undignified but had demonstrated 
that Senshi didn't need to be wearing their uniforms to be able to raise hell.
Or to retreat in a hurry.  The memory resurrected an old thought.  Banbou had 
definitely hesitated and missed a clear shot at Ami.  Was that from her lack 
of attire or who she was?  Was Ryo still alive in there somewhere?
     Ami entered the water beside her.  She winced a little at first but was
smiling before long.  She closed her eyes and leaned back against the edge.
The tension began to melt from her face and she began to look genuinely happy.
Around them the other bathers drew further away at the sight of Ami's scar 
tissue in quiet, well mannered revulsion.  Makoto felt a scowl coming on but 
without opening her eyes Ami whispered, "Ignore them."  So she leaned back
and enjoyed the feel of the water.
     Ami had known what to expect.  Her injuries had become the subject of 
scrutiny as soon as they disrobed and began washing themselves prior to
immersion.  It had taken some time and effort.  The water that ran into the 
floor drains had been very coloured at first.  They'd helped each other with 
their hair and both been relieved to find no sign of infestation.  Around them 
her Senshi enhanced hearing had picked up the other women's remarks about her
appearance.  She'd ignored them.  She thought she looked ugly, how could she
expect anyone else to think otherwise?  Makoto's scarred leg had been ignored.
Next to her marks it wasn't noticeable.  She dismissed the memory and settled
back, relaxing for the first time in months.
     They sat together in companionable silence for a time.  Then Makoto turned
her neck and watched Ami.  Her eyes were still closed and she looked relaxed.
It had been a long time since she'd seen Ami look like that.  They'd had no
cause to enjoy themselves for a long time.  It seemed a shame to throw it 
away.  She sighed quietly.  The fact was she had a little voice whispering 
inside her head.  She'd started to hear it when Calcite had asked "Why?" when
she'd declared her intention to go back.  The voice kept asking her the same
question, pointing out her own world held nothing but the promise of an 
unpleasant death.  She didn't know the answer anymore.  Hadn't they sacrificed  
enough?  They'd been through hell, lost everyone else they cared about, seen 
civilization reduced to rubble, nature shredded and been too weak to set 
things right.  They'd been doing all they could but it wasn't enough and never
would be.  So why not take the second chance this world offered?  Where was it 
written in stone they had to die fighting?
     This seemed as good a place as any to bring it up.  Ami didn't look as
fanatical as usual so she might not deepfreeze her for making the suggestion.
Besides she knew Ami wasn't as cold as her appearance usually implied.  She 
had to want out too!  Didn't she?  Or was she really looking for nothing but 
vengeance?  Makoto tried to think of a great argument but nothing came to 
mind.  Well nothing ventured, nothing gained.  For a moment she wondered how 
Minako would have mangled the expression then realised she was stalling.  She 
took a deep breath then spoke.
     "I could get used to this again."  Ami just nodded slightly, not the best
opening line.  Makoto tried again, "I've really missed this."
     Without opening her eyes Ami asked, "Civilized bathing or civilization
     The question was a bit of a surprise.  "Uhm ... both."
     "So have I."  Ami seemed to have said her piece and returned to relaxing.  
Makoto wondered if that was a signal to let it drop.  Instead she considered 
her next words.
     Cautiously, "I'll bet it would be easy for us to fit in around here."
Ami made a noncommittal sound and Makoto sighed.  She wasn't giving up that
easily.  Under her breath she muttered, "Hints aren't good enough eh?  You 
want me to actually say it.  Okay, here goes ..."  
     She took a moment to order her thoughts and do a little deep breathing.  
Then blurted out.  "Why the hell do we have to go back?"  
     Ami's eyes opened and her expression became neutral.  But she didn't tell 
her to stop talking nonsense.  On a roll Makoto kept going, her voice low and 
urgent.  "Look Ami we both know we've been fighting a losing battle all along.  
If the Overlord ever got serious about taking us out then that would be it! 
Game over!  Only reason we've lasted this long is he thinks we're beneath him.
Even if we get a way back tonight and we get Sailor Moon to come with us 
there's nothing to say we'll even get the chance to use the ginzuishou against
him.  He's a lot smarter than Beryl!  You really think he'll let her get close
to him with a weapon that could hurt him?  The hell he will!  He'll blast us
before we get within a thousand miles of him!  So why go back?  Haven't we
sacrificed enough already?  Neither of us asked to be Senshi.  We didn't
choose this life!  We just got told, 'Congratulations you're the reincarnation
of a princess who died a long time ago.  Now go out there and fight!'  I used
to think it was great.  It was fun, I had friends, we always won ... it was 
like a big game.  Well the game ended with Calcite kicking over the board!
There's no rules anymore and I'm sick of watching the youma tear things apart, 
unable to stop them.  We're an irritant!  We're no threat!  And they know it!  
So why not walk away?"
     Ami still hadn't said anything.  There was neither agreement or 
condemnation in her expression.  What the hell was she thinking?  Why doesn't
she either curse me as a coward or say I'm right?  Makoto kept talking, 
wondering, was she trying to convince Ami or herself?
     "We could stay in this world.  Okay we can't be Makoto Kino or Ami Mizuno
anymore 'cause they're taken but we can find new names.  If Tokyo's full of
too many memories we can go somewhere else.  It's a big country ... hell it's
a big world, why stay in Japan?  After all we've learned in our world we'll
be able to survive no problem.  Even if we wind up sleeping in the gutters
of this world we're better off than we were at home!"  She couldn't think of
anything else to say.  Instead she waited to hear Ami's judgement.  Go ahead,
call me a coward.  Pretend you're not thinking the exact same thing!"
     There were a few moments of silence (which seemed to stretch forever to
Makoto) then Ami sighed.  Her voice was weary, "Do you really think I want to 
back?"  Makoto's jaw dropped.  This was Sailor Hermes, the fanatical youma
killer!  She couldn't really be saying this!  Ami gave her a tired smile,
"Mako, I think you want me to scream that you're a weakling and force you to
come back with me.  You've got the same feeling I've got that we have an 
obligation to go back and die honourably in battle.  But it seems to make less
and less sense so you need someone to convince you it's the right thing to do.  
Sorry but I can't oblige.  The thought of giving up this world scares me.  I 
want to forget about our world and start again.  I can't stay in Tokyo, not 
with my counterpart here.  And there's too many memories here, all the ghosts
of our Tokyo.  But you're right, there's no shortage of places to go.  And if 
I stay here I won't have to kill Ryo someday soon."
     "Then ... you think we should stay?"
     Ami fell silent and closed her eyes.  After a moment Makoto reached over 
and took her hand.  They sat there in silence a few moments more then Ami
sighed again.  "I want to stay but I can't.  I've been cursed with too much
intelligence and not enough common sense.  So if I can see one last chance to
free our world and I've got to try it.  It's a real long shot and I can't
ask you to come along.  I'll meet Titanite and if it isn't a trap then I'll
go back without you."
     "Hold it!  You sneaky little ... you're trying to guilt me into coming
with you!"
     "That isn't my intention.  It's better if you stay, in case things go 
wrong.  If that happens I'd like somebody left here who knows what we were
up against.  In case the youma ever come looking for this world."
     "Yeah, right.  You know I can't let you go back without me.  Together
to the end, we swore.  So I'm coming with you!"  Makoto glared at Ami, "If we 
weren't best friends I swear I would beat you to a pulp!"
     "Thanks Mako.  I appreciate this."
     "Yeah, right!"  With that Sailor Zeus shut up and sat back radiating
     Ami felt ashamed but kept it hidden.  I'm sorry Makoto, I want to let 
you stay here.  You're right, you've already sacrificed more than anyone 
could've asked from you.  You deserve a chance to stay here and be happy but
I need someone I can trust at my back.  This is the last time, I swear it.
Out loud she said, "Makoto, I promise you that this is the final time we fight
against the Dark Circle.  If this doesn't work we retreat back here, pick new  
names and make a fresh start."
     Makoto looked skeptical.  "So what's the plan?  Get this world's senshi
to cross over and fight?  You've seen them, they're kids!  And don't tell me 
they're a year older than us.  I'm not so dumb I haven't figured that out."
     "I know what you mean Makoto.  It's their attitude."
     "Right!  They're us a year ago.  My god, the youma will slaughter them!"
     "It'll be our job to prevent that happening.  But we don't need all of
them.  Just two!"  Ami hesitated, this wasn't going to be easy to say.  To 
have to rely on one of them!  She really wished she hadn't thought of this
     Makoto tried to puzzle this out.  "Just two?  One's obviously Sailor
Moon 'cause we need the ginzuishou.  But who else?"
     Ami grit her teeth.  Then said simply, "Sailor Polaris!"
     Makoto stared at her as though she'd lost her mind.
     Titanite studied the silent house yet again.  Still no more sign of life
than there had been last time she looked.  There was a faint beep from her  
bracelet.  The clock inset had been added by Pyrite in the upgraded model.
Nice of him.  "Yeah and look how you're going to repay him", her conscience 
jeered.  She tried to ignore it.  Okay, obviously no one home.  Which was
lucky for her.  Trying to get past Azurite unnoticed would have been tricky.
"Try impossible", her internal critic whispered.
     All the adult Renegades had been looking ... disconnected.  Getting told
there's a world where you became the leaders of the Dark Kingdom was a real
shock.  Yet their mood had been odd.  Part disbelief, part disgust and part
... awe?  No, that couldn't be right.  There was nothing attractive about a
dark version of yourself!  Could there be something else going on?  Unlikely,
what were the odds of two disasters at the same time.  Still Azurite had been
looking very thoughtful when she left with Pyrite.  He seemed to be more 
focused on the here and now but sharing her mood.  Calcite had been hard to
read but had seemed glad of the distraction Margrave offered.  She'd demanded
to know why the Senshi hadn't mentioned a Queen Margrave who ruled beside the
Overlord.  Then pouted when he gave her a logical answer about variations
between dimensions.  As Margrave had predicted Calcite was keeping a close 
watch on her tonight.
     It had been a little after one when she'd made her move.  She'd dressed
quietly then slipped out of her room.  Counting on the soundproofing and 
Margrave to cover her escape she'd headed downstairs.  Despite all the 
distractions Cal would probably have sensed her teleporting.  Assuming he 
hadn't activated the teleport blockers when he put the security system on
yellow alert (just in case Hermes and Zeus came back for an uninvited visit).
Which was why she used the back door, glad she'd oiled the hinges recently.
     Being a residential neighbourhood there were few cars passing by and no
pedestrians.  Good, the fewer people who saw her the better.  Running might 
have looked suspiciously so she'd walked quickly and quietly, hunched up as 
though the cold was bothering her and she simply wanted to get to her 
destination soon.  When she was sure she was a safe distance away she'd found
a shadowed spot and activated her bracelet.  Her clothing had morphed into
her Sailor Polaris costume.  Then she focused on her rematerialization point
and teleported.  
     Having switched wards she checked no one had seen her arrival.  She was 
still a good ten minutes walk away from her cousin's house.  That was 
intentional, if he was home he'd have been sure to sense her appearing any
closer.  As she was in costume (not that there was anyone to appreciate it) 
she didn't have to bother walking.  She accelerated to her top speed bouncing 
through the odd yard and running along the tops of walls.  A few dogs barked 
but as she was gone so quickly owners chalked it up to passing cats.
     All of which brought her here to watching this particularly house.  There
was nothing to distinguish it from any other house in the subdivision.  At 
least nothing anyone could see.  Ti knew there was an impressive array of
defences hidden and waiting.  She'd taken what shelter she could in the space 
between a car and trashbags awaiting morning collection.  Far from ideal but 
it would have to do.  With that she'd begun to watch the house, looking for
any signs of life.  She'd found none.  They weren't home.
     For her getting in would be easy.  There was a teleport blocking field
throughout much of the house but there was one area it didn't cover.  The
converted closet served as a teleport arrival pad.  Of course if you weren't
on the security pass list the door wouldn't open and you'd get an unpleasant
     She could teleport in, the system would recognise her and grant access.
Then all she'd have to do was use the emergency code, enter the lab, get the
warpkey and get out.  Simple.
     "Well if it's so simple why have you been sitting here the past ten
minutes?  After all, you're sure this is the right thing to do.  So why are
you hesitating?"  Titanite tried to shake off the internal debate.  Borrowing 
the warpkey was the first step to putting everything right.  She couldn't
blame Cal and the others for their reluctance.  They'd survived up by learning
to keep hidden and dreaming of a way out of the Dark Kingdom.  That was a very
hard habit to break.  Not to mention Sailor Moon blowing up the world had been
a bit of a shock.  They'd hated the Dark Kingdom but it had been home.  Still
they didn't regret its end anymore than her.  But the Kingdom and the world
of exile hadn't been quite the same thing.  Thinking of all the fungoids,
plants and animals lost when the Kingdom was destroyed was a bit depressing.
She'd worked hard to become a great chef and now all her favourite dishes 
were impossible to make.  
     Ti realized she was distracting herself again.  Here we go, teleport on
three.  One, two, ... "Pyrite didn't give you the override code for this."
Her conscience ignored the order to shut up.  "It's so you've got a chance
to escape if Earth starts suffering a similar fate to the Dark Kingdom!
Using it to steal his warpkey is a betrayal of his trust."  Borrow his 
warpkey!  "Steal!"  Look I'm bringing it back.  "So that makes everything all
right?"  Look, I'm not doing this for myself.  "Oh really?  Then why aren't
you already in there?  Isn't the reason you're still crouched outside in the
snow you can't decide if you're doing this for the good of the other world
or your own personal glory?  After all this should make you popular with our 
senshi, right?  Maybe get you an invitation to join them.  Well Ti?  What's
the answer?"  She stayed frozen in position, trying to work this out.  She'd
already promised Hermes and Zeus a warpkey so she had to go through with this.
Did she?  Would they believe anything anyone born in the Dark Kingdom told
them?  Especially someone who looked like a monster they knew?  Why couldn't
she have thought this through earlier.  Whatever she decided she had to sort 
this out fast.  Time was running out.
     Azurite and Pyrite were walking home.  They could have teleported there
almost instantaneously but neither was in a hurry.  Since they left Calcite's
they'd been wandering.  Not exclusively, they'd stopped at the odd coffee
shop or bar but they hadn't stayed anywhere for too long.  Azurite was feeling
restless and Pyrite was happy to follow her lead.  Once again she tried to 
comprehend the implications of Pyrite's bombshell.  Once again her mind reeled
at the prospect.  Ten thousand years.  It was impossible to imagine a span
of one thousand, ten times that was beyond belief.  Oh it was quite possible
she'd never reach that.  There was no shortage of things that could kill her
before age did and yet ...  What if they did reach their full span?  What 
would they see in a lifetime that long.  Ten thousand years ... in the last
ten thousand years Silver Millennium and magic based civilization had fallen.
Humanity had been reduced to barbarism and civilization had been rebuilt from
scratch leading to the city they walked through.  On the world of exile over
the generations Metallia's influence had replaced humans with a race of it's
creation.  The youma.  Their species.  Of which only five remained.  She'd
always assumed she had a normal youma span.  As youma weren't a long lived
race that meant another forty years and that was it.  About ten years later 
Ti, the last youma, would pass away and their race would be extinct.  Now?
Now they might outlive humanity.  At least if they didn't smarten up and stop
destroying their own biosphere.
     They walked on arm in arm.  Azurite locked in her own thoughts and Pyrite
studying the sky.  At length he shook his head.  "No stars tonight."  That
jolted Azurite out of her introspection.
     "Not surprising.  What with clouds, air and light pollution seeing them
is the exception rather than the rule."
     "True, but I had this great romantic speech prepared.  I was going to 
point out the nearer stars, tell you how far away they were and how it's 
going to take centuries to get out that far.  Then I'd say but it'll happen in 
our lifetime and someday I'll take you to Arcturus."
     "I'm sure it was a great speech.  Shame life won't always cooperate with
romance.  Going to the stars ... I hadn't thought of that."  After a moment
she looked at him and smiled.  "Well you'll get to see just how the future 
does turn out.  No other Trekkie alive today will get that lucky."  To see
the future ... watch how everything unfolded over the coming centuries.  It
was both fascinating and frightening.  She cuddled closer bringing things
back to a more personal scale.  For now she'd stick to living one day at a
time.  Getting used to a bigger perspective would take time.  But they had no
shortage of that.
     Pyrite started to hum a tune.  As he did the words to the song popped 
into her mind.  It seemed appropriate.  She began to sing it softly, "Fly me
to the moon and let me play among the stars.  Let me see what life is like
on Jupiter and Mars ..."  Engrossed in the song and each other neither heard
the faint beep as Pyrite's security remote logged a teleport into their house.
As it was an authorized user there was no alarm.  It was pure chance they'd 
missed the remote's signal.  But Tokyo has no shortage of coincidences.  That
is implicit in the nature of a synchronistic zone.
     Titanite stepped out of the arrival pad as soon as the door unsealed.
She'd better be quick.  There was no telling when they'd arrive now and she 
was running out of time.  She crossed the living room to the stairwell.  Set 
into the stairs leading up to the second floor was a small nondescript door.  
It opened on a narrow set of stairs leading to the cellar.  Which now housed
Pyrite's lab.  As always she thought of Washu's lab in Tenchi Muyo.  And like
that anime lab (was that series out there somewhere?) the door wasn't easy to
open.  Reinforced by force shields it would take a lot to break it.  If you
did break it the selfdestructs would destroy the labs contents.  Better to 
lose them than have them fall into the wrong hands.
     At least she should have seen the door but there was nothing but the 
unbroken side of the stairs.  Huh?  Wait a minute.  Let's see the access 
plate should be here.
     The concealed sensor registered her touch and identified her as an
authorized person.  The door appeared as the camouflage glamour deactivated.
Okay, good.  Now all she needed was to give the right code and she'd have
unlimited access.
     "Last chance to back out."
     Ti began to wish her conscience came with an off switch.  Why was this so
difficult, it was so easy to rationalize it last time.  "Maybe you're growing
up a little?"  If that was true then maturity wasn't all it was cracked up to
be.  Anyway she'd promised to get Hermes and Zeus a warpkey, she had to 
deliver.  "You also promised Pyrite you wouldn't abuse the code.  Remember 
that?"  Why did she have to think that?  Look ... Cal, Azure, Pyr ... they're 
all big on keeping your word.  You make a promise, you stick to it!  "Except
you gave yours on an impulse and you're about to betray their trust.  Oh 
they'll forgive you, they always do.  But will they ever be able to trust you?
Trust has to be earned and you're doing a lousy job on that."  
     Ti hesitated.  She could still just turn around and leave.  Could she?
She'd told those youma hating Senshi a warpkey existed.  If she didn't deliver
it they'd come looking for it.  Meaning she'd endangered the others by passing
them that note.  Stupid, stupid, stupid!  No wonder Kyoya had called her a
"stupid gaijin bimbo" when he thought she couldn't hear him.  He was right, 
she was an idiot!  Dumb enough to think he was a nice guy and let him ask her 
out.  If she hadn't chanced to overhear him bragging to his friends about his 
plans for their date ...  
     She'd been on cleanup duty after school at the time.  Kyoya and a small 
group of buddies were goofing off in one of the classrooms.  They all had two 
things in common, good looks and lots of girls interested in them.  Ti and 
Kaori had been sweeping the corridor nearby but too far away to hear.  Too far 
assuming you were human.  Kaori had seen her freeze up and begin to twitch.  
She'd asked what was wrong and been startled when a very angry Ti-chan asked 
Kaori to hold her broom for her.  She'd obeyed but asked why and been startled 
when Ti hissed that she didn't trust herself to be holding it when she 
confronted Kyoya.  Before Kaori could ask what she meant (She'd thought 
Ti-chan was looking forward to her upcoming date) she'd stormed into the 
classroom, grabbed the startled Kyoya by the collar (remembering to use both 
hands as one would be overdoing it even with her reputation for strength) and 
lifted him off the desk he'd been sitting on.  She'd repeated back what she'd 
heard him say with a few editorial comments and told him the date was off.  
With that, furious at him and angry at herself she'd stormed off home.  That 
had earned her a reprimand for leaving early but she didn't really care.  And 
that was only a few days ago.  Seemed she hadn't got any smarter since then.
     Okay so there was no turning back.  She had to hope this was the right
thing to do.  If she could save another version of herself and the others
from the Dark Kingdom then this was the right thing to do.  She'd just have
to hope they'd understand.  Once this was over things would be different.    
She'd work to make sure they could rely on her and earn their trust.  "Yeah
right, until the next distraction comes along."  Well conscience, that's what
you're there for.  To make sure there isn't a next time.  Better hurry.  She
recited the code Pyrite had told her.
     "It's the end of the world as we know it and I don't like it."
     DNA, aura, and code checked.  No indications of either possession or 
brainwashing.  Satisfied everything was all right the security system 
deactivated the shields and the door unlocked.  Titanite headed down and 
entered the workroom.  As always the worktable looked like a cross between 
a mineralogical exhibition and a jewellers workroom.  Sitting on the edge
were plastic shells of walkmans, gameboys, pagers, celphones and other everyday
appliances that would be used to disguise finished crystals.  The walls were
lined with shelves, most of them holding at least a single item.  All of them
wired to destroy their contents in case of forced entry.  A Boomer skull 
grinned down at her and she wondered momentarily how things had gone after
they left.  Whatever happened to the rest of the Boomer remains that the 
police hauled away?  Probably classified top secret and turned over to Japan's
version of the X-files.  Hmm, was there really an agency keeping track of all
the weird stuff that happened in Tokyo, particularly in Juuban?  She didn't
know and that wasn't why she'd come.  Ah!  There it was!  Ti picked up the 
pseudo tricorder and switched it on.  The readouts were good, fully charged 
and ready to go.  She didn't want Pyr to think someone had beaten his system 
undetected so she replaced the disguised warpkey with an IOU.  Then she headed 
for the stairs.
     Things went quickly after that.  She returned to the access pad and 
teleported back to her hiding place.  To confuse the trail a little she 
sprinted from her materialization point before teleporting a second time.  She  
leaned against a lamppost on rematerialization then realized she felt fine.
No trace of warpsickness.  Come to think of it she hadn't felt any after any
of the other jumps today except that first one to the park where they'd 
encountered Hermes and Zeus.  Had that weird jump with Sailor Moon done 
something to her?  Had the ginzuishou somehow cured her of warpsickness?  Wow!
If it had that would be great.  If it lasted, anyway she had things to do.
She'd picked this particular arrival point for a reason.
     Entering the phone booth she fumbled through the handbag.  It didn't fit
with her costume but she needed something to hold the warpkey and other stuff 
she needed tonight.  Pity pockets would have spoiled the look of her costume, 
there were times they'd be useful.  Pity she couldn't do the senshi's trick of 
pulling things out of thin air.  How'd they do that anyway?  She'd have to 
ask them someday.  Meanwhile here was what she'd been looking for.  She 
unfolded the paper, stuck her card in the phone's slot and picked up the 
handset.  After a quick glance at the paper she dialled the number.
     After several rings the phone on the other end was picked up and promptly
dropped on the floor.  Muttering the person on the other end picked it up.
     "Hello?"  She didn't sound very awake and followed this with a yawn.
     "Hello Sailor Jup ... uhm I mean Kino-san."
     "Who is this!"  The voice on the other end sounded a lot more awake.
     "Titanite ... Sailor Polaris.  From earlier this evening."
     "Oh, right."  There was another yawn.  "Sorry.  Didn't think I'd be able
to get to sleep after that story they told and waiting for them to show up.
But they never did and I dozed off a few hours back.  Why are you calling me?"
She didn't add, "At this time in the bloody night!" but Ti could sense it. 
     "I know where Zeus and Hermes are ... or at least where they're going to
be at three am.  I've arranged to meet them at that same park we first saw 
     "I've got the warpkey they want."
     "Wait a minute!"  Makoto tried to get her sleepy brain in gear.  "Your 
brother said you didn't have one!"
     "He said he didn't have one and he doesn't anymore.  He didn't say Pyrite 
didn't have one."
     "Oh.  Okay I get it.  So why are you calling me?"
     "Well they need help from the senshi, remember?  I'm sorta borrowing this
key so I won't have it for long.  So I need you to get the Senshi together.
You live alone so I figured I could call you this late without causing much
trouble.  'Sides Zeus and Hermes might have taken your offer and be there.  As
I understand it all the other senshi have parents who don't know they're
Senshi.  So calling them in the middle of the night would open a real can of
      "Okay I get it.  I'll use the emergency signal on the communicators.  No
one but them should be able to hear it."  Then Makoto groaned.  "I've got to
wake Usagi and get her to the park in only half an hour?  I need at least a
week's advance notice!"
     "You knew the job was dangerous when you took it."
     "Yeah, yeah.  Okay I'll we'll meet you there.  And this better be on the
up and up 'cause I get cranky about late night practical jokes!"
     "This is for real.  I'll see you there."
     "Okay, bye."
     "Bye."  Ti hung up the phone and retrieved her card.  Well nothing to do
now but get to the park and wait.
     About fifteen minutes later Usagi Tsukino was looking at her 
transformation broach with sleepy resentment.  As Makoto had predicted it had
taken some doing to get her awake and moving.  After reminding her repeatedly
that she'd been the first to volunteer to help Hermes and Zeus, Usagi had 
agreed to meet with them.  Why did it have to be so late?  She been having a
very good dream about Mamo-chan.  Well there was no help for it.  Luna was
sleeping with Chibi-Usa so at least she didn't have a cat telling her to
hurry up.  She yawned then mumbled, "Moon Cosmic Power, Make Up!"  The
transformation filled her with strength and vitality.  But she yawned one
more time for effect before remembering she didn't have an audience.  She
tiptoed downstairs and eased the door open.  She didn't notice she'd been 
     Her transformation had awakened someone else attuned to the same
power source.  Chibi-Usa got up quietly, careful not to wake Luna.  Luna would    
tell her to get to bed at once as it was far too late for a princess to be 
running around.  She saw Sailor Moon unlock the front door and sneak out.  Now
what was stupid Usagi up to this late?  Something she shouldn't be, Chibi-Usa
had no doubts about that.  Or could it be real Sailor business?  Something to
do with the other Ami-chan and Mako-chan Usagi had told Luna about when she
thought Chibi-Usa wasn't listening?  Either way she was going to follow.  If
Usagi was doing something she shouldn't she wanted to get all the dirt, if it
was Sailor business then she should be included.  She nodded decisively then
said five words.
     Titanite stood in the deserted park glancing at her bracelet from time
to time.  2:52 AM.  Twenty seconds later than the last time she'd looked.
Where were they?  She knew where Hermes and Zeus were but where were the other
senshi?  Maybe they were planning to all meet before entering the park 
together.  She could try another aura scan.  It would kill time if nothing
else.  Wait a minute there were four ... no five somethings approaching fast.
She turned to face the Senshi as they arrived.  "Hello again."
     "Hi Polaris-chan."  Sailor Moon yawned loudly.  "Couldn't you have picked
sometime not so early?"
     "Well right now my cousin doesn't know I've borrowed his warpkey.  And
Cal would freak if I he knew I was doing this.  Well he wouldn't actually
freak, he never gets that out of control but he'd be really unhappy."
     Minako (who was naturally the most suspicious of anything involving 
Calcite) asked, "Why's your brother trying to stop them getting home again."
     "Like he said he doesn't want the Dark Kingdom breaking through.  But if
we shut the gate soon as we're through and leave it closed until we're done
then we should be okay."
     We?  Minako wondered about Polaris's assumption that she was accompanying
them.  "That's his only reason?"
     "Well, all the adult youma ... I mean Renegades (remember Ti they don't 
know Margrave's actually a youma) prefer to avoid you.  It's that whole
genocide thing."
     "The what?"
     "You know Beryl and everything going boom.  We don't exactly miss the 
place but you did practically wipe out our entire species.  There's just five 
of us left (oops ... no, wait!  I forgot Magnesite, I can claim he's number
five) which was kind of extreme.  We know there was no other way to stop 
Beryl but it's still kind of hard to really accept."  There were some odd 
looks on the Senshis' faces, maybe she'd said to much.  "Like I said there 
was no other choice and we don't miss it all ... except for the food.  Anyway 
the only thing it really means to me is that I'm never going to have my own 
children.  Which doesn't really bother me now but might someday."
     It was up to Mercury to ask, "What do you mean?"
     "Humans and youma are sexually compatible but not genetically.  So it's
impossible to interbreed."  She fiddled with the key as she said that.  Keep
it nice, clinical and distant.
     Except Jupiter asked, "How do you know that?"
     Titanite flushed, "My brother told me.  How did you think I knew?"  This
time Makoto turned a little red.  Minako remembered that Calcite had been
dating one of her teachers.  She started to ask a question but choked it off.
Did she really want to know?  Best let it drop.  This had been one crazy day.
After she'd picked up Artemis she'd told him an abbreviated version of the 
story.  He'd been unable to give her any advice beyond taking care of herself.
He'd looked so cute curled up asleep that she hadn't woken him.  Instead she'd
come alone.  So where were the other Senshi?
     "Anyone got the time?"
     Titanite glanced at her bracelet.  "Two minutes to ... nope, now it's a
minute to three."
     Minako glanced around.  "So they'll be here soon?"
     "Yeah, right."  Sailor Polaris snorted.
     "Huh?"  The other girl shook her head.
     "I think you're overdoing it."
     "Overdoing what?"
     Titanite opened her mouth then closed it as the confusion around her
registered.  "You really don't know?"  
     "Know what?"
     "They're already here.  Matter of fact they were here when I arrived."
     Everybody, except Mercury began glancing around.  Ami activated her visor
and scanned around but nothing registered.  "Where are they?"
     Somewhat confused Titanite pointed at a park bench that was the center 
of a small snowdrift and stood before a clump of bare trees.  "Right there."
     Soundlessly Sailors Hermes and Zeus emerged from their hiding place in 
the shadows.  Both looked a lot better than they had on arrival.  The grime
was gone and their uniforms had been cleaned.  However the sudden appearance 
startled everyone except Titanite.
     Hermes asked coldly, "How did you spot us?"
     "By your aura glow.  It took some doing to sense 'cause you'd masked
it pretty well."
     Zeus swore quietly and Hermes hissed, "No youma has spotted us by aura
reading in months."  They'd been hiding here in the cold since they left the 
public baths a few hours ago.  Ami had decreed an early arrival to check for 
an ambush being set up.  So in the baths' locker room, after Makoto had done
some sewing on the tattered skirts and bows, they'd pulled on their fukus. 
Which they had done while cursing the idiot designer who'd created them as
one piece units without zips, designed for application and removal by
transformation only.  Whoever the cretin was he (and it had to be a man!) had
evidently never considered Senshi might want to remove these things while 
staying transformed.  Fortunately as Ami had learned months ago if you 
stretched the neckhole you could get in and out while it would always return 
to its normal dimensions.  They'd got some odd looks and Makoto had felt 
compelled to claim they were attending a fancy dress party.  They'd endured
being incorrectly identified (they didn't even get the right counterpart names
and since when did Makoto look like Sailor Moon?) and left.  At Ami's 
insistence they'd ditched the coats en route.  Just in case there were 
undetected tracking devices concealed in them.  Then they'd found a good 
hiding place, Ami had set about blocking them from any scanning equipment,
they'd focused on damping their power emissions and settled down to wait.  
Titanite had arrived about 2:30 but hadn't seemed to see or sense them.  Ami 
had thought they were undetectable.  Instead the youma seemed to think they 
were playing hide and seek with her and went along with the gag.  It was
infuriating!  Ami squelched that feeling and tried to think without emotion
interfering.  Through her visor her computer had emitting false readings and 
they'd both shielded their auras.  Usually that was more than sufficient.  At
least for long range scans and standard youma.  Obviously close range 
detection by mid to high powerclass youma remained a problem.
     Ti hadn't noticed the hostility in Ami's voice.  Instead she beamed and 
exclaimed, "How about that!  All that training is paying off.  I've gotta 
thank big brother."
     Hermes ignored the happy youma.  She turned to Sailor Moon.  "We require
your assistance.  Will you aid us?"  Beside her Zeus was remembering what 
Ami had told her.  "If she'll come with us everything's fine.  If not we get
the youma to open the gate, grab Sailor Moon then the four of us go through
and slam the gate closed before the others can follow us."
     Usagi nodded, "Of course.  When people coming looking for love and 
justice Sailor Moon will ..."  She continued in this vein and Hermes tuned 
her out.  She turned to Titanite.
     "You're ready?"  Ti nodded.
     "I've programed the key for your dimension.  Lucky I kept notes on the
settings.  Funny, I chose that particular setting at random.  I had no idea
where I'd wind up."
     Her curiosity intrigued Zeus asked, "Why were you dimension travelling
in the first place?"
     Ti coloured, "Uh ... can I tell you later?  I think I should open the
gate now."  Hermes was about to agree when Zeus called urgently, "There's 
something coming fast!  Small but powerful."  She looked down at her 
computer's display.  Damn!  She should have been watching that!  Good thing 
one of them was on the ball.  
     Ti and the Senshi turned to look in the direction Zeus was pointing while 
Zeus and Hermes fell into defensive postures.  Then the blur stopped moving  
and posed dramatically (or at least tried to) and they both froze in 
astonishment.  Zeus sounded like she couldn't believe her eyes when she asked,
"What the hell is that?"  The small figure in pink took that as a cue.
     "Beautiful, clever and strong, much smarter than stupid Usagi and 
Mamo-chan's beloved (Usagi growled) Sailor Chibi-Moon is here!  Sailor Senshi
of the future!"  Dazedly Zeus saw she was doing a lot of Usagi's old poses.
     Titanite nodded, she'd seen pictures of the mini senshi in the papers.
Most of which were now in her senshi clippings scrapbook.  "She looks a lot
cuter in person."  Chibi-Moon preened.  Then frowned and looked at Titanite.
     Without a word she marched up to Titanite and glared up at her.  "Who
are you?"
     Titanite leaned down bringing her face level with the suspicious looking 
child.  "I'm OWWW!"  The exclamation was because Chibi-Moon grabbed her mask
pulled it off.  As it had adhesive pads to hold it in place this sudden 
removal stung.  Minako winced in sympathy.  Her own Sailor V mask had been a
similar design.  Titanite automatically straightened up and rubbed the sore
spots around her nose.  She removed her hand and glared briefly at the child
holding her mask.  Then her expression softened as she remembered this was 
just a kid and she probably didn't know any better.
     "Well little one to answer your question I'm ..."
     "Sailor Polaris!"  Chibi-Moon nodded decisively.  "The hair and the
costume were right but the mask threw me off so I didn't recognise you."  Ti
was understandably confused.  What is she talking about?  I never appear 
without my mask.  I don't want anyone to see Sailor Polaris's picture and say, 
"If she had brown hair she'd be a dead ringer for Titania Hobbes."  But Sailor 
Chibi-Moon wasn't through yet and kept talking.
     "Well the mask and the fact you're still pretty flat."  She shut up 
abruptly as Titanite twitched and her expression became more dangerous.  She'd 
hit a definite sore spot.  While Ti was sure nature intended her to have a 
real bombshell figure right now her build was more like a gymnast's than an 
idol's.  Margrave had repeatedly assured her she was just developing a little 
slow.  Rare but not unheard of in their kind.  Azurite had been a bit more 
cautious when she'd been asked.  What Titanite kept remembering was that when 
she'd first met Azurite the other had been younger than Ti was now.  All 
Azurite's curves had already been in place.  She grown in height and kept her 
proportions but her figure hadn't really changed.  Margrave had matured even 
younger.  This wasn't unusual for youma females.  Early maturity was a 
response to the species short lifespan.  Both sexes were generally sexually 
mature by ten even if full growth required several more years.  Though 
breeding was possible at an early age there were cultural forces that made it 
a matter for later in life.  The upshot of which was that, while she might 
deny it, Ti felt jealous when she met any girl her age built like Sailor 
     Ti resolved to ignore it.  Just a kid's opinion, forget it.  What does
she know.  Then Ti realized the Senshi kept looking from her to Chibi-Moon
and back.  What was that supposed to mean?  Another mystery.  "I'd like my 
mask back."  Her voice wasn't as friendly as usual and Chibi-Moon felt it a
good idea to obey quickly.  At least she tried to give it back.  Ti wasn't 
that surprised to find it was now stuck to Chibi-Moon's hand.  A brief tug of 
war developed before it was pulled free.
     While Titanite fixed her mask Usagi asked Chibi-Usa, "What did you mean
you recognised Polaris-chan?"  Chibi-Usa just gave her that annoying, "I've 
got a secret grin" so Usagi took matters into her own hands and tried reason.
     "Tell me you little weasel!"
     The face stretching contest was interrupted by Sailor Hermes asking, "Who
is this child?"
     "I'm ... mmmrph!"
     Having clamped a hand over Chibi-Moon's mouth Usagi answered, "This is
my cousin, Chibi-Usa.  She's training to be a senshi and making a pretty poor
job of it!  (This time it was Chibi-Usa's turn to growl menacingly)  She's 
living with me and making a real nuisance of herself.  OWW!"  Usagi hopped up 
and down holding her bitten hand and Chibi Moon showed no signs of regret.
     Titanite doubted the story.  When she'd seen pictures of the new senshi 
the connection to Sailor Moon seemed very obvious.  A little after school 
observation of the Tsukinos' house had revealed a girl the right age.  She'd
inquired and been told the girl was Usagi's cousin.  Except she'd reviewed
her brother's notes on the Senshi (which only covered the inner senshi as he 
hadn't actively monitored them since the Magnesite incident) and there were 
no cousins anywhere near the right age.  So who was she?  Well she couldn't
figure it out on her own and couldn't ask for help as she was supposed to be 
avoiding the Senshi.  So that had dead ended her investigation.  She still had 
that filed under unsolved mysteries.  Someday she'd figure it out.
     Hermes looked a little pained at all this.  "At any rate the only people
we definitely require are Sailor Moon and ... Sailor Polaris."  Saying the
last part was difficult but Ti didn't notice.  A chance to work alongside 
Sailor Moon?  This was great.  "The rest of you can stay here and it might be 
best if ..."
     "Let Usagi go without me to keep her in line?  I don't think so."
     "I'd like the opportunity to study your dimension."
     "We protect the Princess, we're going!  End of story!"
     "All for one, one size fits all ... something like that."
     "Stupid Usagi can't do anything without me."
     Sailor Hermes had expected sentiments like this.  In their counterparts
place she and Zeus would have said the same thing.  But she frowned at the
last one.  "The child is not going."
     "What!  I'm not a child!  I'm a Senshi in training!"
     Sailor Zeus shook her head, "It's far too dangerous for you honey."
     "I can take care of myself!"
     "Not where we're going!"  The child looked adamant.  Zeus looked to her
counterpart.  "This isn't a game.  She's not coming and we'll scrub the whole
mission before we take her."
     Hermes hesitated momentarily before agreeing.  Somewhat gleefully Usagi
told Chibi-Moon, "Ha!  That settles it.  Now go home, you're supposed to be
in bed."
     "So are you!"
     "I'm on senshi business.  So there!"  The inevitable razzing duel 
followed.  Sailor Hermes shook her head.  "If you knew what it was like on the
other side you'd want to stay with her, Usagi!"  She was far too smart to say
that out loud.  Involuntarily she found herself wondering about Chibi-Moon.
Sailor Senshi in training?  What did this mean?  When she had time she'd have 
to try and sort out the mystery the girl represented.  She obviously had power
but where had it come from?  She shook off the mystery.  Out loud she asked,
"Are you all ready?"  Everybody nodded.  "Good, line up.  Zeus, you're rear
guard.  I'll be on point.  Youma ... Sailor Polaris you're up front with me!"
     Ti took a guess, "Want to make sure I take you to the right dimension?'
     "That's right."  I may need you youma but I don't trust you.  "Close the
gate as soon as Zeus is through!  Let's make this fast.  Now."
     Titanite activated the key.  "Okay, it's open."
     Hermes looked around but saw nothing.  "What are you talking about?"
     "It's right in front of us."  Hermes saw nothing.  "Look if you're 
expecting some big, colourful hole in the air, forget it.  Pyrite designed
these things to be unobtrusive."  With that she stepped forward and vanished.
Hermes froze momentarily then followed her.  She was followed by Rei, then 
Ami, then Usagi (who was still looking around for something to see), then 
Makoto, then Minako.  As they stepped through they waved goodbye to Chibi-Usa.  
Sailor Zeus stepped to the gate, took a last puzzled look at Sailor Chibi-Moon 
then walked through and vanished.  
     As soon as she was gone Chibi-Moon dashed for the gate.  They weren't 
leaving her behind!  She tore through the space the gate had occupied.
Unfortunately it was already closed so she kept going and skidded into a tree.  
Which quivered and dropped a large pile of snow on her head.
     Chibi-Usa got up and shook the snow out of her hair then started brushing
herself off.  "That's no way to treat a Princess!"  A figure stepped out of 
the shadows.
     "Accidents happen, Small Lady."
     "Yaahh!"  Chibi-Usa was startled and summoned the wand for her "Pink 
Sugar Heart Attack" then recognised the woman.  "Pu!"  She raced over and 
hugged Sailor Pluto's legs.  If she'd had a stepladder she'd have gone for 
higher up.  Pluto leaned down and patted her on the shoulder.  "I told you
you'd see me again Small Lady."
     "I wasn't sure.  Haruka-san said you were gone.  So did Michiru-san."
     "Those two are nowhere near as cool and all knowing as they like to act."
     "Oh.  But why are you here?  Are you going to take me to join the 
     "I'm sorry Princess but I can't.  You are not part of what must follow
over there."
     "Usagi will be lost without me to tell her what to do!"
     Pluto smiled.  "Perhaps.  But believe me when I tell you it will all
work out in the end."
     Chibi-Usa pondered this for a moment then declared, "Well if you say so 
then it's okay."
     "Thank you for your trust Princess.  Now I must trust in you."
     "What do you mean Pu?"
     "It's not time for anyone to know I'm back yet.  So you have to promise
to keep it a secret."
     "I can keep a secret!  I've been keeping lots of secrets."
     "Yes, you've been doing a good job."
     Chibi-Usa nodded in satisfaction.  "That's right.  You said I couldn't
come back again unless I promised to keep things secret.  I haven't said
anything about Sailor Nemesis, or told Mina-chan who she'll marry or even
mentioned uncle Calcite and all sorts of other stuff."
     "You've been a very good girl.  But it would be best if you don't 
mention Sailor Polaris again."
     Chibi-Usa went red.  "Don't say anything about Ti-chan either", she
quoted.  "Sorry."
     "A little slip Princess.  Nothing wrong as long as it only happens once."
Chibi-Moon nodded with determination.  She'd show everyone back in the future
that she could keep a secret.  "That's very good Small Lady.  Now let's get 
you home to bed."  Inwardly Setsuna frowned.  She'd permitted Serenity to
send Small Lady back only after Serenity agreed to take a few precautions.
Given Chibi-Usa's knowledge of the future she could inadvertently cause a 
unintentional disaster.  If the princess said the wrong thing at the wrong 
time a time paradox could result very easily.  There were no shortage of
possibilities.  For example if Minako learned the name of her husband-to-be 
prematurely there was no saying what she'd do.  So Serenity had agreed to 
increase Chibi-Usa's desire to keep secrets.  This would make her much more 
exasperating to the twentieth century Usagi and that in itself would help her 
keep things hidden.  Except if she'd been able to mention knowing Sailor 
Polaris perhaps the mind block was breaking down.
     A new thought struck her.  She only had Serenity's assurance that she'd
done anything.  Her exact words had been something like, "My daughter will 
keep her secrets."  The implication had been she'd installed a mind block but
she had never actually stated that.  What if she hadn't actually implanted 
one?  What if she'd just talked to her daughter and was trusting in her to 
keep her knowledge to herself?  Pluto winced.  Come to think of it that would 
be exactly the sort of thing you might expect from Serenity.  Well, there had 
been no way around it.  The presence of Sailor Chibi-Moon in twentieth century 
history was foreordained.  She'd had no choice but to bring her back to this 
time.  She would simply have to trust in Serenity's judgement of her 
daughter's character.  After all her trust in Serenity herself had never been 
misplaced.  It just felt like a lot to gamble the future on.  But then it 
always had and she'd always come through.  On that thought Sailor Pluto turned 
her attention to her Princess.
     Chibi-Usa took her hand and the two walked away.  Sailor Pluto felt 
another brick form in the foundation of Crystal Tokyo.  Now if everything went
as it was supposed to on the other world they'd been a bit closer to Crystal
Tokyo's birth.  Or its violent miscarriage.  All she could do was watch and

End of part 4

Next : Meet Titanite's counterpart and find out just how warm and loveable 
       Queen Beryl was.      
Part 5 : Princess of Darkness

If you're wondering about the connection between Robert Davis and Makoto
Kino you'll have to wait until Frank Barr finishes Trenchcoat Mask 6

For anyone who's wondering where the title quote came from here's the answer.
It's from a narration monologue in Judge Dredd.  The original British comic
strip in 2000 AD not the DC revamp or that abomination of a movie (okay it had 
a few good bits but they were definitely the exception).  Just to set the 
scene Dredd's been blinded and is trying to crawl through a burning nest of 
monsters to confront the godlike creature that destroyed MegaCity One.  It
goes like this:

     "To be eyeless in hell ... to claw your way inch by inch towards your 
goal ... To keep going even though the terrors you face are more terrible 
because you cannot see them.  Yet you fight on, heading ever for the 
heart of the inferno.  And when you can no longer walk you crawl.  Toward the
mutant and revenge for the evil he has wrought upon your beloved city ... 
revenge that even in your pain wracked mind you know to be hopeless.  For you
are a judge.  And it is your duty."
      - John Wagner, "Judge Dredd : City of the Damned"     

Nothing particularly profound but I liked it and it seemed appropriate
enough.  In case there's any other 2000AD fans reading this DR and Quinch 
will make a cameo appearance in part nine.  Until then, Splundig vur Thrigg.
Somewhere out there is someone else who knows what that means.

On to part 5
Back to part 3

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