Sailor Moon Expanded

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

Part 5 : Princess of Darkness

     Titanite studied her surroundings as the Senshi's eyes adapted to this 
new, lightless Tokyo.  Things hadn't changed since her first visit except
it was now a lot colder.  It was still as eerie and ugly as it had been last
     Behind her Sailor Mars told Sailor Moon to stop whining about not being 
able to see.  She sounded a little on edge herself.  Good thing Sailor Zeus 
had told them their eyes would adapt quickly.  Being the only youma ... 
outsider in a pack of nervous senshi could get unhealthy.  She was beginning 
to question the wisdom of making this trip.  Cal was right, she was way too
impulsive.  First think, then act!  She'd remember that someday.
     She felt a small flare of heat at her back as Rei manifested a fireball 
giving them a little more light.  Which suddenly blinked out at a gesture 
from Sailor Hermes.  Rei stared at her empty and chilled hand in confusion 
then heard Hermes voice.  "Get used to the darkness!  Using your powers makes 
you more detectable."
     "You said there's no one around here!"  Rei sounded resentful.
     "Not right now.  But if a blip turns up on a long range sensor they'll
be here in seconds!  No more lights.  None of you are to use your powers 
unnecessarily."  The note of command in her voice startled everyone, 
especially Sailor Mercury.  Hermes had already returned to scanning the 
horizon.  As though she took it for granted they'd obey her.
     Rei muttered something uncomplimentary which Hermes ignored.  Words 
didn't bother her.  What concerned her was the attitude.  They wouldn't be 
used to taking orders from her ... from Sailor Mercury.  That could be a 
problem.  The solution was to make them learn fast.  Time was of the essence!
     Ti turned back from the ruins and studied the Senshi.  They weren't all
stumbling around in the dark.  Hermes and Zeus stood on opposite sides of the
cluster of senshi watching for movement.  Mercury's gaze kept flickering 
around as she described their surroundings in a soft voice.  Her voice was
tinged with disbelief and confusion, a sharp contrast to the ice in Hermes
tone.  Surprising the sharp contrast you could get within the exact same
voice.  Or between two girls who had once been identical.
     Sailor Hermes had arrived with her scanning visor already in place.  
She'd immediately scanned the area and announced no welcoming committee 
awaited them.  She'd seemed almost disappointed by not having a target.  Zeus
had relaxed somewhat when she'd heard the all clear but you could sense the 
barely concealed tension.  She was ready to snap back into a combat mindset
at a moment's notice.  For now she was working on adapting to the pitch
black surroundings.  Or so it seemed at first glance.  While humans would
barely make out shapes senshi and youma had excellent vision under low light 
conditions.  The Senshi could adapt and the youma were born ready to see in
minimal light.  As the name implied the Dark Kingdom had not been the 
brightest of environments.  It wasn't always this dark of course.  If it
followed the kingdom's cycle the sky would lighten, becoming almost as bright
as a overcast day with very thick clouds.  Despite growing up in such darkened
conditions all youma could instantaneously shift to withstand the visual shock 
of the brightness of terrestrial high noon (when there had been such a thing) 
or lighting flashes (of which there were no shortage in the Hardlands).  
    Yet another consequence of artificially induced evolution.  As humans 
couldn't do the reverse this was seen as more proof of youma superiority.  Not 
that the youma felt any need to justify it.  Humans were naturally inferior.  
That was implicit in the nature of things.  It did mean the youma had to make 
lighting concessions to the humans so their servants weren't continually 
stumbling into things.  But this was felt a small price to pay for enslaving 
the species.
     Sailor Mercury had activated her own visor on arrival then gasped as she 
began to see their surroundings.  She was still looking around, providing a 
running commentary for the other Senshi.  From their exclamations of disbelief 
they still couldn't see much.  It wasn't a pretty sight.  Around them the park 
was dead.  Not slumbering as it awaited spring (which was a vain hope) but 
dead.  Through patches of snow the bare soil could be glimpsed.  The trees
were shattered to splinters, burned and blackened or both.  The concrete 
walkways were cracked, the ground twisted by earthquakes into folds and 
chasms.  All around them the hulks of shattered skyscrapers loomed.  Snapped
off and torn open.  It was too much for Mercury to believe.  This just 
couldn't be real!  It felt as though she was watching a post holocaust movie.  
At any second she expected cars festooned with weapons to pop into view ridden 
by men and women wearing clothing assembled from a dozen different sources 
but with leather predominating.  She couldn't accept this as reality!  It 
was too big.  Listening to her Hermes scowled but suppressed the urge to make 
the other deal with this world.  Satisfying as it might be to shake up her 
soft-living counterpart she needed the senshi functional, not basketcases.
     Titanite's vision had adapted to the surrounding darkness within instants
of arrival.  There was no satisfaction in that.  She might have grown up in 
conditions like this but she felt no sense of returning home at all.  Once   
again she was a renegade in the Dark Kingdom ... great, that was a really
cheery thought.  Why hadn't that occurred to her earlier?  What next?
She felt a presence and turned to see Sailor Hermes almost by her side.  Fast, 
silent, and lethal.  This version of Ami was a lot scarier than Mercury.  She
managed to avoid looking startled.  At least not too much.
     "Feels like coming home?"  There didn't seem to be any real curiosity
in her voice.  Just something to say while observing her.
     "I was never at home in the Dark Kingdom.  None of us were!  It was just 
where we lived."  Ti gestured to where the gate had been.  "Home's on the
other side of the gate."   Ami made a small noise that might be agreement.  
Or outright rejection.  She didn't sound very convinced.  "Look what do you 
want me to say?  Cal was right, we're not responsible for anything another 
version of us might have done.  You wanted a way back here and the Senshi's 
assistance?  Well you've got both and one of them's thanks to me.  But don't 
ask me to feel guilty about anything I didn't do.  We didn't do this to your 
world and I'm damned if I'll take the blame."  Having said her piece Ti turned 
away intending to talk to "her" senshi.  There was a lot of stuff she had 
wanted to ask them earlier if she'd got the opportunity. But as she turned 
Hermes seized her wrist.
     The grip was tight and backed up by Senshi strength.  She was by no means 
sure she could break it.  Trying to look calm she turned back and asked, "Is
there something I can do for you Hermes-san?"  She'd sounded pretty cool,
but Hermes didn't look impressed by her calm.  Her voice was colder than 
usual not that she'd ever sounded friendly.
     "You can remember that I'm watching you.  Your kind did this to my 
world.  I may need you but I am not fool enough to trust you.  Bear this in
mind if you feel tempted to rejoin your race."
     "My race?  To the youma I'm a genetic freak.  An abomination to be
exterminated by the harshest means necessary.  I've got no more desire to
serve the Dark Kingdom than you do!"  Their voices carried in the stillness.
Now everyone was looking toward the source and listening to them.  They heard 
Hermes hiss, "You're one of them and you always will be."
     Unaware of the audience Ti looked Hermes in the eye.  Her voice didn't 
waver despite the chill of meeting that gaze, "I had no more choice about 
being born in the Dark Kingdom than you had about being born a Senshi.  It's
just a fact of life that we've both got to deal with.  I'm not your enemy so
save your rage for the people who are!"
     With that she began to pull free from Hermes grip.  Hermes was about to
resist when she saw Zeus shake her head fractionally.  A moment later Sailor
Moon called, "Stop picking on Polaris-chan ... Hey!  I can see again!"
Hermes released her grip.  Resisting the urge to rub her sore wrist and the
itchy feeling between her shoulder blades Titanite turned her back on Hermes 
and marched over to join the senshi.
     Hermes watched her go without further comment.  Impassive on the outside,
inside part of her mind shouted, "Idiot!  You need both her cooperation and 
Usagi's!  You're doing a great job of destroying the entire mission.  What's 
got into you?  Don't lose it now.  This might work!"  She sighed, that was the 
     "Might work" ... a very big might.  This was a long shot and she knew it. 
So did Makoto.  Subconsciously she was looking for an excuse to scrub this 
whole thing and retreat back to the other Earth.  Hold it together Ami, don't 
get weak now.  You dragged Makoto back to this hellhole so you can't fail her 
now!  Better apologise to the ... to the youma.  That should smooth things 
     "So everyone can see now?"  A chorus of acknowledgement's answered Ti.
That was sort of good.  Except it didn't sound like they liked what they were 
seeing.  Well neither did she.  Before she could say anything further she 
saw Minako and Ami look past her.  She turned to see Sailor Hermes approaching
without stealth.  The other stopped just before her then spoke.  
     "T ... Sailor Polaris (it was easier to call her that), I ... apologise
for my recent remarks.  You are quite correct, you bear no responsibility for
the devastation around us.  I ... overreacted."  After a moment's pause she
held out her hand.  Titanite hesitated a moment then took it.  But she 
couldn't help wondering if she'd get a flash frozen palm for her troubles.
For her part Hermes resisted the impulse to squeeze really hard and the 
handshake ended without incident.
     "So we're all friends again.  That's great!"
     Mercury found herself unable to agree with Usagi's assessment.  She 
recognised the look on her counterpart's face.  Someone doing her duty but 
finding no pleasure in it.  Her counterpart noticed her attention and returned  
her stare.  There was something odd in her expression.  Ami had the sudden
feeling she'd just been judged and found wanting.
     "Well now that everyone's adapted I'll go over the plan."  Hermes had
considered briefing them on their homeworld but decided it was better if 
they couldn't back out.  Which reminded her.  "But first Polaris, I'll take
the ... warpkey as you called it."
     Titanite frowned at the outstretched hand.  "Why should I give you the
warpkey?  I'm perfectly capable of taking care of it.  Besides I'm the only
one who knows how it works."
     "You're also capable of teleporting without network assistance.  If 
things start looking dangerous I don't want you jumping back here and fleeing
through the gateway alone."
     Good-natured as she was Titanite was starting to resent Sailor Hermes
attitude.  "I am neither a coward nor untrustworthy and I don't much care for  
your implication.  You wouldn't even have got back here without me!"
     "Oh?  Just how did you obtain the key?"  Titanite flushed.
     "I um ... I borrowed it from Pyrite."
     "And did you ask him before ... borrowing it?"  From Hermes's sardonic
look she already knew the answer.  
     "Well ... not exactly, but I did leave him an IOU."
     "A great consolation for losing a device like this.  So you've already 
betrayed your own kind tonight.  Why should we expect better behaviour from 
you towards mere humans?"
     "I didn't ... that is ... it's not like you're making it sound, you're
twisting it!  I was just trying to do what I though was right ... I mean I 
can understand how Cal and the others think but ..."  She was getting more
and more flustered as she squirmed under Hermes merciless gaze.  "Oh ... HERE!
TAKE THE STUPID THING!"  With that she slapped the warpkey into Hermes palm.
     Fighting both an expression of triumph and the urge to wince Hermes kept
her face blank.  She took a quick look at the device and murmured, 
"Remarkably compact.  It doesn't resemble youma technology as I know it." 
     "That's just a plastic shell to cover the real gizmo."
     "Ah yes.  So you can travel dimensions with something so small.  
     "Well not exactly.  It only works at an active nexus point.  You kinda
open or switch on the nexus and then tune the gateway to wherever you're 
going.  Assuming you know in advance.  If it's an unknown dimension you send 
probes through first to ensure it's habitable."
     "A sensible precaution."  Hermes raised her hand and twisted her wrist
a certain way.  Suddenly her hand was empty.
     "HEY!"  Titanite wasn't the only one surprised by the disappearance.
     "Don't we need that thing to get home again?"  Jupiter had no idea what 
had just happened but the implications seemed clear.
     "We're trapped here?  AHHHHH!  I"LL NEVER SEE MAMO-CHAN AGAIN!!!!"     
Minako suddenly found herself being shaken around by a hysterical Sailor
Moon who'd grabbed the nearest thing to her (namely Minako).  This made
coherent thought impossible.  Fortunately this wasn't much of a handicap but
she was getting dizzy.  Amazingly despite Usagi going into total panic mode 
and wailing very loudly Rei managed to make herself heard.
     "Bring it back!  Right now!"  
     Sailor Zeus to a stab at playing peacemaker.  "Uh, everything's fine.
Ami's just tucked the gizmo into her overpocket for safekeeping.
     "Overpocket?"  That was from Sailor Mercury, the only otherworld Senshi
to keep her head.
     "That's Ami's name for the place she can summon things from, like her
computer.  She's found she can dump other small bits and pieces in there. 
We have to carry the bulkier stuff, food, beam rifles, whatever in the 
backpacks but we prefer not to be wearing them during combat unless we're 
carrying something essential.  Those things can get you all tangled up, catch
on stuff so it's a pain to wear them.  So if it's small enough to fit and
could be useful on a mission we dump it in the overpocket."
     "What sort of things do you keep in it?"  She sounded intrigued.
     "Oh ... plastique, detonators, veleth toxin (she was getting some very
surprised looks) ... uh ... and other stuff we need on occasion."  The list 
didn't seem to be going over very well.  Somewhat lamely she finished, "Uhm,
but the point is Ami can bring it back whenever she wants."  That penetrated
Usagi's panic and she calmed down just as quickly as she'd freaked out.  
     "That's good news, right Mina-chan?"  The very dizzy Minako tried to nod
and almost fell over.  Jupiter managed to steady her.
     "I see."  Mercury studied her counterpart again.  Was it her imagination
or was the other looking less like her with every moment.  Or was it simply
that she didn't want to see resemblance between the two of them?  That would
mean acknowledging she had the potential to become just like Hermes.  She
didn't find the prospect attractive.
     Hermes ignored the other Ami's attention.  Or at least she told herself 
that was what she was doing.  Behind the cold facade her emotions seethed.
Why should she have to justify herself?  Everything she'd done and what she'd 
become was from necessity.  How dare the other think she could have done it
better?!  Soft, complacent ... if you'd been through what we have ...  She
choked off that line of thought.  Don't get distracted now.  You've held  
together this long you can last a little longer.  Get on with the briefing.
     "It's time I told you what were are going to do."  She summoned her
computer and flipped it open.  Everyone except Zeus clustered around so they
could see the small computer screen.  "Our objective."  An image appeared 
on the screen.  For a moment everyone looked at it, then as one they all 
turned to stare at Sailor Polaris. 
     Titanite felt her cheeks redden.  She manage to mumble, "I never dress
like that!"  The Titanite on the screen was wearing a skintight shiny black 
outfit that revealed more than it concealed, something like a bikini augmented 
by studded belts.  The combination of fetishistic outfit and underdeveloped 
body produced a rather repellent picture.  Yet if she was one of the rulers of
the world no one was making her dress like she'd stepped out of some sick 
child porn fantasy.  Added to that the face was ... wrong.  She didn't look at 
all self conscious about her attire.  Her expression was reminiscent of 
Beryl's.  Cruelty laced with amusement.  
     "What ... what's she smiling about?"
     Hermes seemed to almost enjoy telling her.  "This was taken in one of the
Korean enclaves several months ago.  She's overseeing the executions of human 
     Titanite struggled to speak through the shock she felt.  But it was 
Minako who spoke next.  "So why were you taking pictures during all this?
Why weren't you stopping it?"
     Zeus answered.  "Security was too tight.  We went there to try to stop
it happening (a partial truth, killing one of the Dark Circle was Ami's prime 
objective) but with the Princess there her underlord wasn't taking any chances
with her safety.  The whole place was ringed with guards.  He definitely 
didn't want to have to tell the Overlord he'd lost his sister.  We did our 
best but we barely got away ourselves."  As she said that she remembered the 
Korean resistance cell who'd followed them.  None of them got away, they'd all
perished in the attempt.  Most of them I never even knew their names.  Did
anyone mourn for them alone?  Neither me or Ami did.  Too many deaths and
neither of us think anyone up there's listening.  That was only five months 
ago but it seems like we've been fighting a losing battle for years.
     Hermes resumed speaking.  "Unlike their predecessors the majority of the 
Dark Circle do not work to oppose one another.  This cooperation even appears
to include personal friendship.  While it's unnatural for youma that gives us
a definite weakness to exploit.  The plan is fairly simple ..."
     "Replace Princess Titanite with me, I claim to have taken you prisoner
and either take you to see the Overlord or get him to come to see me.  When
he's close enough Sailor Moon zaps him with the Moon whatchamacallit and 
blasts Metallia which purifies him.  Then we do the same thing for Lord Pyrite 
and Lady Azurite.  With the loss of Metallia and all their leaders the youma 
flee back to the Dark Kingdom and the world is saved."  Everyone turned to 
look at Titanite.  "Well it's fairly obvious really."
     Hermes nodded.  "That is very simplified but more or less correct."
     Ti congratulated herself on her foresight.  Then something occurred to
her.  "Uhm ... am I going to have to dress like that?"
     "She does and you'll be taking her place."
     "Ah ... uh, there might be a problem."   
     Jupiter nodded, "That outfit would look a lot better on me."  Ti bristled
and Rei half snarled, "You're not really much more built than me!"  Before 
this could turn into a comparison of ... "talents" Usagi spoke up.
     "Not to worry Ti-chan.  You'll look cute in anything."
     "Yeah well ... that's sorta the problem.  See I'm not much good at acting
     Everyone went "Huh?"  except for Hermes who declared, "Don't try to claim
that.  You are a youma!"
     "By birth sure but ... look normal youma have this natural attitude which
Renegades don't.  They're born that way while Renegades have to learn to act  
like that.  Now Cal, Azure and even Pyr could do that.  Like Cal does this 
great dark lord act, right Minako?"  Minako scowled then nodded.  "Anyway
they were all good enough at playing their parts that no one suspected.  But
I could never get the hang of it.  That's why they had to shield and isolate
me.  Because they knew I'd never be able to keep up an act like that for very
long."  Hermes was looking at her with that cold gaze again.  Somewhat 
defensively she said, "Well, it's the truth!"
     Zeus shook her head, "Princess Titanite isn't acting.  She's a vicious,
bloodthirsty, oversexed little psychopath!"
     "Well she's not me okay!  I don't know why she's doing that.  Maybe she's
possessed by Metallia ... probably the whole Dark Circle is.  The point is if
that's the way she is then I'm not going to be able to convince anyone I'm
her for very long."
     Hermes seemed lost in thought for a moment.  Then she shook her head,
"We'll just have to hope you can act the part long enough to give us a shot
at the Overlord.  One thing you have that we definitely need is your body."
     "My scans show you're genetically identical to her.  With that you can
override her security system and get us into her palace.  The system will be
unable to tell you from her."
     "Oh.  Well that I can do."
     "That's the spirit Ti-chan!"  Well at least Sailor Moon seemed to like 
her.  In fact most of "her" senshi didn't have anything against her despite 
her Dark Kingdom origins.  Mercury and Jupiter (in sharp contrast to their 
counterparts) were friendly enough toward her.  Mars was acting undecided.  
Ti didn't know it but that was because, while Rei's psychic abilities weren't 
warning her about Titanite, since coming to this world she'd been sensing 
great evil.  Evil for which another version of the self appointed Sailor 
Polaris was partially responsible.  Rei shook off that thought.  The older 
youma had been right, they weren't responsible for the crimes of their other 
selves.  Rei resolved to let the youma girl know she didn't think of her as 
an enemy.  
     Minako was the only real holdout against Titanite among the senshi of her 
adopted homeworld.  This was largely due to her resentment towards Ti's 
brother.  Calcite, the miserable [expletives deleted to preserve Senshi image] 
had her chasing across England fighting a threat that never existed!  Okay 
part of her reason for staying in England had been Alan but ...  Anyway if 
Titanite's brother was a con artist who was to say she wasn't the same?  
Especially with this Overlord Calcite business.  Sure Usagi likes her and she 
was a good judge of character but she's being raised by Calcite.  On the other 
hand as they said in England, "You cannot judge a cook by its brother."  
     At least she thought they said something like that.  Minako sighed.  The 
bottom line was she couldn't decide how to act towards Sailor Polaris.  Best 
to keep some distance until she'd reached a decision.
     Meanwhile Hermes continued outlining her plan.  "Are any of you familiar
with the ancient palace in Beijing known as the Forbidden City?"  As she'd 
rather expected only her counterpart nodded.  "Well it doesn't really matter
as it's not there any more.  There's a new palace built right on top of it.      
The Forbidden City and a good portion of Beijing were levelled and the palace
built on the ruins.  It's called simply, "The Royal Palace" and serves as the
residence for the governor of the youma's Asian territories ..."
     "Namely Princess Titanite."
     "What happened to the people of Beijing?  There were close to six 
     "Not anymore."
     Hermes seemed to have said all she would on the subject.  So Zeus 
interjected, "There's about half a million people in the Beijing enclave.  
They serve the palace and the youma settlers, farm what they can and scratch
out a living as best they can.  That's basically how it is everywhere."
     Hermes continued, "We will teleport to Beijing ..."
     "HOLD EVERYTHING!"  Everyone looked at Titanite.  "Teleport to China?
I've never been much outside of Tokyo.  Look I have this little biological
problem that means I have to live within certain geographic limits.  I need a 
certain level of background mana radiation to keep me going.  Tokyo's got no 
shortage of that but it drops rapidly the further away you get.  If I get too 
far away from Tokyo the radiation drops below survival threshold and fttt 
that's it!  Game Over!  Nothing left but a small pile of dust."
     Hermes shook her head.  "Unfortunately that is no longer true."  She 
pointed skyward.  "The world encircling darkness has a more important purpose 
that blocking out sunlight and replicating Dark Kingdom conditions.  It's also
bathing the whole planet in mana radiation.  Which means the youma can and do
thrive everywhere on the planet."
     "Oh ... right.  Should have thought of that."
     "Where Calcite is drawing the power to do this from I don't know.  I 
believe the source is nonterrestrial and I've found references to something 
called the Abyss but just what it is ..."  Polaris had paled visibly at the
mention of the Abyss.  "What do you know of this?"
     "I ... I've heard of the Abyss.  It's where youma are supposed to go when
we die.  Supposedly the Abyss is filled by both human evil and the souls of
youma.  When you die your spirit is drawn there, devoured and you cease to
exist as an individual entity.  Supposedly Queen Metallia either embodied or
was merged with the Abyss.  Either way it was the source of her power."  Her
fellow renegades had never told her about youma religious beliefs.  She rather
regretted the day she'd asked Margrave about them in a moment of idle 
curiosity.  She should have known better than to expect the Dark Kingdom to 
have things improve after you died.
     Ti remembered her second point and shook off her existential gloom.
"Okay so survival outside Tokyo isn't a problem here but I'll tell you what 
is!  I've never been to Beijing.  My teleporting on Earth is limited to a very
small area of Japan.  Beijing's what 2500 km away ...?"
     "Our arrival point is 2659 km distant."
     "That's the problem!"
     Usagi asked, "Polaris-chan, you mean you can't teleport that far."
     "The distance isn't the problem.  Teleporting one kilometre and 
teleporting one thousand use about the same amount of power.  The problem is
I've never been there so I have absolutely no idea of an arrival point.  That
means jumping blind.  And to teleport somewhere you've never been before and
have no idea what you'll materialize on or in is crazy!  To jump blind you've
either got to be incredibly desperate or incredibly stupid!"
     There was a sudden outbreak of coughing among the Senshi.  Which 
intensified when Hermes said, "You're right.  Our jump to the North Pole was
incredibly foolhardy.  But those were desperate times and required desperate
     "Excuse me?"  Hermes turned to her counterpart.  "How would you qualify
trying to teleport to an object in outer space?"
     "Like the Moon Kingdom?"  Hermes glared at Zeus for her interruption then
took over the answer, "In that case we ... you would have had coordinates
because of Kunzite's spell transporting you there.  Though I suspect the 
spell received a helping hand from Serenity."
     "You mean Queen Serenity."
     Hermes hesitated a moment.  "Not exactly.  I'll ... explain later.  At
any rate if you were going there ..."
     "I was thinking more of an atmosphere bearing asteroid on a collision 
course with Earth."
     "An asteroid?"  Well given the immensity of space the odds of not winding
up trying to breath vacuum are ridiculous.  We could merge our powers to 
create a forceshield holding air but that would run out pretty quickly.  Long
before we reached our objective." 
     Usagi made choking noises and everyone was looking at Mercury.  "You 
never told us that!"  Rei sounded rather unhappy about something and Ami's
cheeks were burning.  Hermes didn't follow this at all but something had 
occurred to her.
     "Was there something on this asteroid you could home in on?"  Her
counterpart nodded.  "Well that must be how you found it."  She paused a 
moment before continuing.  "We can talk about your subsequent adventures 
another time, they might inform us of future menaces.  For now we have the
youma to deal with and you need to learn how to do precision teleporting."
She gave Titanite a wintery smile.  "It'll be easiest for you.  The network 
is designed for youma use.  Getting to Beijing is the last thing you need to
worry about!"
     "One of the first things the youma did when they emerged from the Dark
Kingdom was to set up a network of shielded pylons.  These turned out to be 
teleporting stations enabling them to move their troops to anywhere in the
world they were needed.  There was little in the way of large scale military    
battles.  Supply lines were in shambles, food and fuel were scarce and as
central authority collapsed communities that had them hoarded them.  For the
youma it was more a case of mopping up the remnants of the armies that had
held together despite minimal supplies and mass desertions.  They could bring
in overwhelming force in the blink of an eye.  In addition to upgrading their
personal weaponry they'd also added armoured cavalry and an actual air force
instead of relying on winged youma.  The human forces did their best, 
desperation makes excellent warriors, but they were hopelessly outclassed."  
     "The network remains in place and is used for cargo and personal 
transportation.  Normal youma can use the teleport stations to travel the 
world.  Teleport capable youma can link into the network from anywhere in the 
world and shift themselves to any point they choose."
     "Er ... how exactly do I do that?"
     Hermes turned to Titanite and shrugged.  "I have no idea.  Not being a  
youma I never studied the matter.  Work it out for yourself."  Overriding 
Titanite's "But ...!?" Hermes continued.  "While the Sailor Teleport required  
more than the two of us to activate ... at least under normal circumstances,
it proved Senshi have teleport capability if we could just work out how.  My
computer was unable to answer the question of how.  Apparently all data 
regarding teleportation was classified by the Silver Millenium Hermians and
locked under security access.  I don't know why though there are some 
references which seem to indicate the information would have been used as
potential bargaining chips with Earth.  But who knows anything about Silver 
Millennium politics?  At any rate I've been unable to rediscover the password 
so I can't access the data.  However I acquired a number of youma data 
crystals during our raids against their settlements.  From studying them I was 
able to learn enough basic theory to work out how to hack into the network.  
As I mentioned this meant sacrificing our transformation wands so we could 
link and jury rigging them with youma equipment we acquired."  That glossed 
over several weeks of frustration and barely avoiding several serious or fatal 
accidents.  "To date our tap hasn't been discovered and the link assemblage is 
holding together.  We will use it to travel to Beijing." 
     "Excuse me ..."  It was her counterpart.  "While I understand that this
procedure is common to you we have no idea how to use it.  I'd like to offer
an alternative."
     "We learned earlier tonight that Sailor Polaris can teleport with 
passengers.  If she can use this network as you claim ..."
     "As I know!"
     "Excuse me ... well couldn't she take two of us while you and Sailor Zeus 
transport the remainder?"
     Hermes opened her mouth to rebuke her counterpart.  Then paused.  That  
actually made a certain amount of sense.  She nodded.  "That might work.  We
will discuss it further.  Zeus keep watch, youma ... Polaris find out how to 
link to the network.  The rest of you ..."  She decided against saying keep 
out trouble and settled for, "... Guard Sailor Moon!"  She turned away without  
waiting for anyone to acknowledge her orders.  After a brief hesitation 
Sailor Mercury walked over to join her.  Zeus paced in the opposite direction
and jumped onto a cracked pedestal and continuing surveying the area from her
spot of higher ground.  Jupiter gazed after her, her thoughts unreadable.
This left Sailors Mars, Moon and Venus standing clustered together while
Sailor Polaris stood alone a few steps away.  Titanite gazed into the sky
vainly trying to see this network Hermes had talked about.
     Sailor Moon began complaining about how spooky this place was and Minako
began trying to cheer her up.  Ignoring the mangled metaphors Rei turned to 
watch Titanite.  She sensed something she couldn't quite name.  At which point 
Sailor Polaris disappeared, vanishing from her old position to reappear about 
six metres away.  Neither of them noticed the startled Sailor Zeus spin 
towards Titanite with a lightning ball already forming in her hand.  
Recognising the teleporter she relaxed slightly and began to bleed off the  
energy she'd summoned.  She resumed her surveillance without comment.  Sailor
Jupiter frowned then walked towards her counterpart's perch, stepping over the
shattered statue that had once occupied it.
     Unaware that she'd nearly been toasted Titanite walked back to her old
position shaking her head.  She hadn't felt anything different.
     "What are you doing?"  
     Titanite jumped a little at Rei's question but answered her without
hesitation.  "Seeing if I can find this network Sailor Hermes mentioned.  I
figured if I did a normal line of sight jump maybe I'd feel something."
     "Line of sight?"
     "Just like it sounds.  You see a place and you teleport to it."  Rei 
looked a little confused.
     "We'd never been to the North Pole.  How'd we teleport there?"
     "Okay I'd better backtrack a little.  There's three basic types of 
teleport.  Line of sight, you see someplace and move yourself there.  Fixed
location, when you're at a good sight you ... remember it."
     "You don't sound certain of it."
     Titanite sighed.  "I was trying to come up with a good Japanese 
equivalent but that's the best I can manage.  You just don't have the right
words in your vocabulary.  Probably because you can't teleport.  Best I can
describe it is that you fix the place in your mind the right way.  After that
you just have to recall it right and you can teleport there.  It's not as
simple as just remembering a place you've been.  You've got to have ..."  The 
only appropriate words she could think of were in youma'shak.  "... locked it 
in your mind."  Ti realized that sounded fairly lame but it was the best she
could do.
     "How do you fix it?"  Rei sounded professionally curious.  Was it 
possible that teleporting was a psychic gift?  In which case did she have the
capability?  Titanite's answer dashed that hope.
     "It's hard to describe.  If you can teleport it's part of the ability.
I don't exactly know how to describe it to a nonteleporter.  It's there all
along and the first time you're told about it suddenly it seems so obvious!"
     "And all teleporters can do this?"  Rei sounded a little skeptical.
     "Yeah."  Titanite thought about this for a second.  "I guess anyone who
couldn't and had to always jump without having a lock didn't live long enough 
to have kids."
     "Oh.  Uhm ... yeah I can see how that might happen."  Neither Luna or
Artemis had mentioned any drawbacks to using the "Sailor Teleport".  Were  
they just trying to keep it from us or was it simply that they didn't know. 
For two people ... two cats who'd actually lived in Silver Millennium they
sometimes had surprising gaps in their knowledge.  Maybe a side effect of 
being frozen, she'd have to remember to ask Ami that.  Out loud she said, 
"Okay so that leaves jumping blind as the last kind of teleporting ... say
does that normally rip up your surroundings?"
     Titanite looked puzzled.  "Why would it?  You teleport yourself not the
place you're standing on.  Well unless you deliberately try to drag it with
you.  There are mass limits to how much anyone can teleport but ..."
     "Okay, okay!"  Rei didn't want a lecture on teleport theory, just the
pertinent info.  "So unless you're jumping blind you need a destination before
you jump."
     Titanite looked thoughtful. "Well ... not exactly."
     Rei looked at her sharply.  "Not exactly?"
     "You can summon the power for the jump before hand and hold it ready then 
pick your destination.  Of course there's limits to how long you can hold the
power ready.  It ... well gets less and less stable the longer you hold it.
Wait too long and enough will have leaked away that you can't jump."
     "What happens if you try to jump without enough power?"  Even as she 
asked that Rei's mind began supplying some very grisly images.  Which were
spoiled by Ti saying, "Well nothing happens.  You get this flare of light and
then you're still standing in the same place looking stupid."
     Rei thought about this, something didn't add up.  "Either way you need 
time to gather energy before you can teleport?"
     "But the generals were able to disappear at will!"
     Ti snorted.  "Yeah, but they were the generals!  The most powerful guys 
in the Kingdom, second only to Beryl.  If I was on their power level I'd have 
enough power at my fingertips to teleport anytime I wanted.  Instead I've got
to draw it from my reserves then use the power."
     "Yeah.  I'm kinda like a magic accumulator and battery.  Like I said 
earlier I need to draw a certain amount of magic from the environment to stay
alive.  But if there's more magic than that around I store the excess ...
well as much as I can anyway and that's where I get the energy that lets me 
use my powers.  So if I overuse my powers then I have to wait until I can
absorb enough magic to get them working again."
     "Okay I follow that ..."  Rei wondered momentarily at the source of her
own powers then dismissed it.  She was getting sidetracked from the real
problem of teleporting to Beijing.  She had an idea.  "Sailor Polaris ..."  
     "You can call me Titanite if you prefer."
     "Since we're going to tangle with someone else using that name let's
stick with Polaris."  Titanite cancelled her plans to suggest they get on a
first name basis, or at least family name.  Maybe later.  Better stick to 
senshi titles for the present.  She nodded and Rei continued, "Summon the 
power for a teleport without a destination in mind."
     Ti concentrated for a few seconds then said, "Ready."
     Rei frowned, "Wait a second!  Something just occurred to me.  How do you
know you've got enough power to teleport when you don't know where you're 
going yet?"
     "That's not a problem.  It takes about as much energy to teleport a 
metre as a thousand kilometres."
     "How can that possibly work?"
     "Well ... actually I have no idea.  I think when you teleport it's like
everything's in one place so it's the same effort to get anywhere ... or
something like that."  After a moment's hesitation she said, "I don't know why
it works, I just know how to teleport."
     "Figures.  I don't really know how my powers work, I just know how to use
     "Yes.  But I still don't see how everything can be in the same place."  
     "Maybe it's a very big place?"  Rei was suddenly sporting one of those 
huge sweat drops.  "Maybe not." 
     Rei took a deep breath, "Okay let's get on with this.  You're still 
holding enough power to teleport?"  Ti nodded.  "Okay now just think about
Beijing."  Ti wasn't following this but she did her best.  Summoning up her
meagre knowledge of China she sifted through the information.  Then her jaw
dropped as Rei sensed ... something.  
     Ti stood frozen for a few moments in astonishment then clicked her mouth 
shut and grinned.  "I ... I know where it is.  I suddenly knew of a dozen
teleport points I could lock on!  That's incredible!  How'd you do that?"
     Rei preened.  "Simple deductive reasoning.  If this network's designed to
help teleport capable youma and it doesn't provide power then it must do 
something else.  Like giving you arrival points anywhere you want to go."
     Titanite blushed.  "That makes a lot of sense.  I should have figured it
out for myself.  I'm an idiot."
     Rei patted her on the shoulder.  "Don't feel bad.  You were too close to
the problem to see it.  As you already knew how to teleport it didn't occur to
you there might be another way.  So you just needed an outsider's perspective.
Anyone of us with half a brain could have figured it out."
     From behind them Usagi said, "I didn't figure it out."  
     Minako nodded in agreement, "Me neither!"
     Rei smiled, "Like I said ..."  Both blondes began growling at her.  Ti 
didn't notice as she was caught up in the practical issues of teleporting to
Beijing.  "Okay getting myself there is no problem but there are limits to 
the amount of mass I can transport.  Rei ... sorry Mars, how much do you 
     "What?"  She sounded unhappy with the question.  Ti winced.  Should have
addressed her as Hino-san.  I'll never get used to this hierarchical name 
stuff.  Or more than one name period.  "That's none of your business!  Why 
are you asking me that?"
     Oh that's what she's upset about.  Out loud Ti explained, "I can't take 
too much with me when I teleport.  So if I know your weights I can work out
how many of you can travel with me."
     Usagi looked at Minako.  "I'd say Rei's about 100 kilos."
     Minako shook her head.  "Rei's right that's got to be wrong.  Probably
105 at least.  Maybe closer to 106."
     Usagi nodded.  "You're right.  I was just trying to spare her feelings."
     "Well you're a good friend to do that."
     "WHY YOU ... !"  Rei's volcanic display of temper was a little surprising
to Titanite.  Could she have some youma blood?  Well she'd carried both
Sailor Moon and Margrave so she could definitely take two of the senshi.  
Three might be pushing it.  Before she could tell anyone this and try to
calm Rei down more louder shouting drowned out Sailor Mars.  Everyone turned 
to the source automatically.  Just in time to see Makoto yelling at herself.
     While Rei and Ti had been discussing the finer points of teleportation
Makoto had decided to have a word with her other self.  She couldn't say 
for certain why but she had the funny idea that Sailor Zeus was avoiding her.
Which made absolutely no sense but that was definitely what she kept thinking.
     She stopped below the other's vantage point and waited.  Sailor Zeus
gazed down at her momentarily then resumed her watch.  Jupiter waited for an
invitation or acknowledgement of her presence.  After a short while she
realized that wasn't going to happen.  For whatever reason her counterpart
had decided to ignore her.  Makoto didn't like being ignored, particularly by
herself.  She might not insist on being the center of attention (like certain
people she could name) but she wasn't one to quietly blend in with the 
background.  It was time to make herself a bit harder to overlook.
     It took barely any effort to leap up and land beside her counterpart. 
Zeus looked less than happy to see her but nodded briefly.  Then resumed
scanning the dead city.
      "So what are you looking for?"
      For a moment Jupiter thought the other would remain silent.  But then 
she heard her own voice say.  "Anything out of place."
      Jupiter shook her head and  gestured toward the ruins surrounding them.
"How are you going to spot anything out of place in that mess?"  
      After a brief hesitation Zeus said, "We know these ruins well.  We've
spent a lot of time here."
      That made absolutely no sense to Jupiter.  "Why the heck would anyone
want to hang around here?"  She saw Zeus's face darken.
      "We don't want to come here but it's often necessary.  The power the
Overlord threw around when he destroyed the city lingers here.  It messes up 
the youma's scanners so we're hard to spot.  As this place is a wasteland 
the youma have never bothered occupying it.  I imagine they plan to reclaim
it someday but why bother now when there's so many better places to live?
So we come here to scavenge for food, medicine or anything else that might be
useful.  If it wasn't for the fact they run occasional patrols through here
I imagine we'd be living out there somewhere."    
     Creepy thought.  "If the scans are messed up why did your Ami snap at 
Rei for making that fireball?"
     "That's just her way.  Better Rei learns the rules out here where the
danger is minimal than during infiltration which could get us all killed."
After a moment's silence Zeus said, "This isn't real to you is it?"
     "Huh?"  This time it was Zeus who waved at the rubble.
     "All of this.  You look at it and you think it looks spooky right?  I'd
do the same in your position.  Matter of fact I am!"  Zeus gave a mirthless
chuckle.  "That's what it is to you.  To me it's a mass grave.  Almost 
everyone I knew died here.  Their bones are scattered around out there  
somewhere and there's too many to bury.  Not to mention that would tip the 
youma off that we keep visiting.  That's the real reason we've never tried
to hide out here.  But we're Senshi!  That means we're supposed to be above 
those sort of petty feelings.  So we keep coming up with these tactical 
reasons not to stick around."  She shook her head, "You still don't get it,
do you.  Maybe that's for the best.  You've still got a world to return to.
This is all we've got!"
     Makoto found this attitude rather disturbing so she decided to change the 
subject fast.  She remembered why she'd come here in the first place.  "Are
you avoiding me?"  
     Her double looked away from her, her shoulders hunching.  Makoto decided
she wasn't going to let Sailor Zeus dodge the question.  She grabbed the
other's shoulders and spun her around.  Then found herself looking into 
Zeus's guilt ridden face.  "Yes."  the other whispered.
     Makoto was shocked.  What was wrong with her?  Not the most subtle 
person around she asked, "Why?"  Her counterpart glanced down.  Makoto 
followed her gaze but saw nothing that gave her any clues.  She looked back
and Zeus sighed at her confusion.  Then she reached down and ran her fingers 
over her scarred thigh.
     Jupiter studied the injury for a few moments.  Then shook her head and 
said, "I don't understand."  Zeus made a frustrated noise and shook her head.
     "Are you stupid or something?"  Before Makoto could take offence the 
other Makoto choked back her anger and said, "I ... apologise for my outburst.
You haven't been through the same thing so you can't understand my failure.
That's only to be expected."
     More confused than ever Jupiter asked, "What are you talking about.  It
can't be the scar.  We aren't that vain and your Ami's a lot worse off ..." 
Her voice trailed off, that may have been the wrong thing to say.
     Her counterpart shook her head.  "It's not the way I look.  Compared to
Ami this is nothing.  It's what it represents."
     "You'd better tell me straight out.  I'm still not following this."
     Zeus bowed her head and sighed.  "Very well.  This scar is my personal
mark of Cain ... you probably don't know what that means.  I guess I picked 
that up in the States while surrounded by Christians.  Let's just say there
was a lot of praying and bible quoting going on.  Not that it made any 
     "I think you're trying to avoid answering.  Go on."
     "Very well.  This scar is a constant reminder of my failure.  I wasn't
like you.  I failed, I let the youma grab me and wound up crippled.  They had
to leave me behind.  I broke up the team!  Don't you get it yet?  If we'd
all stuck together Ami wouldn't have been burned and we might have all made
it into the Dark Kingdom.  Maybe we could have even held off the youma long 
enough for Usagi to use the ginzuishou on Calcite."  Her voice was rising,
becoming both louder and shriller.  "Don't you get it yet?  What if my screw 
up is what let the youma win.  What if I'm responsible for the end of the
world!"  Her voice chopped off suddenly.  Quietly, her voice choked with shame 
Zeus whispered, "That's why I've been avoiding you.  You succeeded where I
failed.  I ... I can't deal with that.  Ami's been telling me all along that
it wasn't my fault and I'd come to believe her.  But then I met you and I knew
it could have been different.  It should have been different.  But I let
everyone down.  I couldn't face you.  Not when I realized that."  With that
she fell silent and stood there with her head bowed, all thought of standing
guard smothered by the guilt.  So now Jupiter knew.  She'd reject her, of 
course.  Which was only right.  How could she forgive a failure like hers.
Especially when she knew Zeus should have succeeded as she had.
     She felt Jupiter's hands on her shoulders.  "Hey, it's okay."  The
voice was warm, the opposite of everything she'd expected.  She raised her
head and looked into the other's face.  No rejection, nothing but compassion.
Why?  I failed myself, my Princess and everyone.  You can't forgive that. I
won't allow it.  Her protest died unspoken.  What Jupiter said next took her 
breath away.  "Fact is you did much better than me."
     Zeus made an incoherent noise and Jupiter realized she'd better explain
further.  "Things went a bit different at the north pole in our world.  The
youma grabbed me, I fell for the same illusion you did.  Like you I tried to
overload them and there was this big explosion from the feedback.  Ami could
tell you more about it than I could.  But that's where it get different."
This next bit wasn't going to be easy to say.  "When my vision cleared I was
half buried in this ice tower and everything hurt.  Usagi was calling me
telling me that everything would be all right.  I could feel that it wasn't.
I think I had time for a few last words.  I'm not sure things got vague 
towards the end.  Then I died and that was that."
     Zeus just looked at her for a moment.  "You died."  Her voice was flat.
     Jupiter nodded, "Yes."
     "You're standing there telling me you died at the North Pole."  Her tone
was sheer disbelief.  Thinking about it Makoto realized just how crazy it 
     "Well ... yeah.  See what happened was ..."
     "The others gathered all seven Dragonballs and wished you back to life?"
     "Uh ... not exactly.  See Usagi used the ginzuishou to fix everything
and ..."  Her voice trailed off at the look on her counterpart's face.
     "How dare you mock me!"  There was a lot of venom in Zeus's voice.  "What
is this some idiotic attempt to make me feel better?  'I died so you did 
better than you think'.  I don't want your damned pity!  I'm not looking for
forgiveness, I'm beyond that.  I just wanted you to understand my failure.  I
thought if anyone could you would.  Instead you come up with some moronic 
story to try to cheer me up.  HOW DARE YOU!"  Her voice was rising and Jupiter
was dimly aware that everyone was staring at them.  Her counterpart raged on 
oblivious to the attention.  Makoto tried to calm her down.
     "I'm telling the truth.  I died.  We all died.  But Usagi brought us
THINK THEY'RE COMING BACK?  WELL!"  Jupiter quailed a bit before the other's
fury but held her ground.
     "It all happened the way I said."
     Zeus's rant seemed to have finished.  Quietly and coldly she said, "Dead
is dead.  That's all there is too it."  Ignoring the senshi staring at her
she leapt down from the pedestal and stalked off.  One of the two Ami's
moved to join her.  The other started back toward the clustered senshi.
     Jupiter stared after her counterpart her mind whirling.  She hadn't
expected anything like that.  Should she go after her?  Maybe not, she'd 
handled that badly.  But what else was she supposed to say?  She'd told Zeus
the truth.  It was almost too incredible to believe but every word was true.
     She heard someone land beside her and turned to see Sailor Polaris.  She
muttered a quick greeting.  The other nodded and asked, "So you were really
all dead?"  Jupiter simply nodded.  Titanite gave a soft whistle.  "I always
wondered.  I didn't see it happen but Cal and the others were pretty sure.  
Also I saw the pictures after the fact when they were trying to puzzle it 
     "Puzzle what out?"
     "You guys still being alive."  She waved in Minako's direction.  
"Remember I was in Min ... Venus's school when we first arrived in Tokyo.  We
didn't know that for a couple of weeks until Cal saw her and recognised her.
Which was why they started checking and found you were all alive and avoiding
each other.  It drove them crazy.  Eventually they decided that since you
weren't appearing as the senshi any more maybe it didn't really matter.  Of
course a couple of months later some weird stuff started happening and 
suddenly the senshi were back."
     Jupiter nodded.  "Ali and Ann.  Then Tom showed up ..."
     "Tom?   A boyfriend?"  She sounded curious.
     "More like a long lost relative.  Long story.  Anyway just after that 
the generals showed up again followed by you and Sailor Arcturus.  Just after
you pulled your own disappearing act there was that mess with Chibi-Usa ...
and it seems it's been one crazy thing after another."
     Titanite nodded.  After a moment she said, "Jupiter ...?"  then trailed
off awkwardly.  Jupiter figured a distraction couldn't hurt.
     "What ... well this isn't exactly easy to ask but ... what's it like 
being dead."
     Jupiter took a deep breath.  Talking to her counterpart about this had 
been difficult enough.  It wasn't something she liked to remember.  But it 
was a subject people were bound to be curious about.  Maybe answering it 
would give her a better idea about talking to Zeus.  "It wasn't really like
anything.  It's rather vague really.  I remember being in terrible pain which
suddenly faded and was gone.  After that it gets fuzzy.  I get all these 
images which I can't quite glimpse or describe.  The only clear one is Usagi
... except she's not Usagi anymore she's become her past self Princess
Serenity.  She's fighting this monster that looks like a buffed up version of
Beryl and I'm by her side.  So are Rei, Ami and Minako.  We're all dead but
Usagi's calling for us to aid her one last time.  She's dying and we can all 
see it but she doesn't falter.  We join with her and the Beryl monster is
being consumed by the light.  Then everything goes white and I wake up back
in my apartment.  I didn't remember anything out of the ordinary and the only 
thing that worried me was I was going to be late for school."
     "Ah.  So no useful pointers?"
     Makoto had to smile.  "Afraid not.  So what do youma believe happens to
you after death?"  Titanite was silent for a moment then answered. 
     "There's supposedly this place called the Abyss.  You fall into it and it 
eats your soul."  Once again she began regretting the day she'd asked Margrave 
that question.  Seeing how upset she was Margrave had hastily suggested that 
maybe Renegades got to sneak into the human afterlife.  The only way to find 
out for sure was to die.  So Ti intended to avoid further inquiry for as long 
as possible.  She shivered and tried to turn her thoughts away from the 
subject.  Difficult given the gloom of the surroundings.  Then something else
occurred to her, maybe she could get a little more advice about the Kyoya      
incident.  "Say mind if I ask you a few questions about boys?"  Makoto nodded, 
eager to think about something else.
     During and before all this the Amis had been discussing matters.  Hermes 
finished the transfer of her tactical maps to Mercury's computer.
     "... and that is why we are using that route.  Disagreement?  No I didn't
expect any.  After all we're smart enough to see it's the best course of 
action."  Hermes snapped her computer closed and folded in back into the 
overpocket.  She realized Mercury was staring at her and going to ask a 
question once she'd chosen the right words.  She looked uncertain and 
embarrassed.  Hermes remembered she'd been like that once.  It seemed like
such a long time ago.  At any rate they didn't have time to waste waiting for 
Mercury to overcome her shyness.  And why be shy with me when we're both 
aspects of the same person?  A rhetorical question she already knew the answer
to.  She suspects how I feel, she just can't bring herself to ask.  
     Hermes gave a wintery smile and asked her gentler counterpart, "You
obviously want to ask me something.  What's your question?"
     Mercury flushed but kept her composure.  "You're quite correct there is
something I want to ask you.  It's a feeling I've been getting all along and
I can't ignore it any longer.  So I say this ..."  She paused momentarily
then queried, "You don't like me, do you?"
     Hermes nodded.  "We always were the perceptive one.  Notice the little
nuances the others missed."  In the same calm tone she continued, "You're
correct.  I don't like you.  I resent you intensely."
     Mercury nodded.  "I thought so."  After a pause she asked, "May I ask 
     "Of course."  There was no hint of emotion in her voice.  "There are
several reasons.  You still have family and friends and a wonderful future
as a doctor ahead of you.  I have one person I can rely on and that's it.  As
I keep manipulating Makoto I can't count on her staying my friend.  Everyone
else I cared about is dead.  With one exception I'll get to in a minute.  As 
for my future ..."  She waved a arm at the surrounding ruins, "... you're
looking at it.  The world I knew has been crushed.  Even if we succeed things
will never be the same again.  The ecology has been torn apart and rebuilt
in the Dark Kingdom's image.  Calcite has stamped his mark on this world
forever."  Hermes paused for a moment then continued.
     "You have a beautiful world and a happy life to go back.  And you take it
all for granted!  Maybe I was just as bad when I was you but who says I have 
to be rational all the time?  Besides whoever heard of logical hatred?"
     "On top of that there's Ryo.  You've got a boyfriend.  I've got a youma
I have to kill before he hunts me down and finishes me."
     Mercury was a little shocked by all this.  What was worst about this was
the other wasn't a lookalike.  She was Ami Mizuno.  In her place I'd act just 
like her.  And that was a horrible thought.  But it was exactly for that 
reason that she had to reach out to the other.  The question was should she 
tell her about Ryo?  After a moment's indecision she decided honesty was the
best course.
     "About Ryo ... we aren't going out together these days."
     Hermes flinched slightly.  Then said, "I see."  A pause.  "So you broke
     This would be a little tricky to explain.  "Not exactly."
     "Not exactly?"
     Mercury took a deep breath.  "After the battle at the North Pole ...
things changed."
     "Changed?  Changed how?"
     Mercury decided to skip the more unbelievable aspects.  "After Usagi used
the ginzuishou to defeat Beryl she wished we'd all have normal lives.  Without
any of the turmoil of the past year."
     Hermes nodded.  "That sounds like Usagi.  The most reluctant senshi but
she always came through ..."  Hermes cut off the memory of her late friend 
and her face hardened again.  Mercury pretended not to notice and continued.
     "People's memories changed.  Luna and Artemis were the only ones to keep
their old memories.  As for everyone else ... they still remembered there 
being Senshi but no one knew who they'd been.  Including us.  We forgot about 
everything connected to both the senshi and the youma.  I forgot I'd ever met 
Ryo, he forgot he'd ever met me.  It was three months before we got our 
memories back.  I asked Luna if she could restore Ryo's memories if I brought 
him to her.  She said she could and I used my computer to track him down.  
Then I just had to wait for the right opportunity to reintroduce myself.  It
was just after Hanami that I was able to go looking for him.  Luckily the 
aliens were lying low after that mess."
     "Aliens?"  Hermes waved away Mercury's explanation.  "Never mind!  Go 
     "Yes ... well I dropped by his apartment building.  I'd got there not
long after school let out but I'd had to skip juku to do it."
     "How unlike us.  But we were ... we liked him a lot."
     Mercury almost smiled at the chink in Hermes armour but decided that 
could annoy her.  "I found myself a good vantage point and waited.  I was
trying to work up the courage to just go over and buzz his apartment when
he walked around the corner.  I was about to dash over ... which would have
startled him as he'd have no idea who I was ... when I saw the girl he was
walking with.  They were holding hands and looked very happy."  Ami remembered
feeling her heart break.  As she had then she tried to be logical about it.
     "I should have expected it really.  It had been three months and he
didn't remember me at all.  So there was no reason for him not to look for a
girlfriend.  If any of his precognition remained then he must have known 
they'd be happy together.  What could I offer him?  Memories of becoming a 
monster and perhaps living in fear of it happening again?  So I just turned
around and left."  A little glossed over.  She'd stood frozen in place for
about an hour and cried on the trainride home.
     "Just like that?"  Hermes sounded skeptical.
     "It took time to really accept it.  It hurt a lot.  I managed to keep 
Usagi and Makoto from noticing the next day but Davis-sensei noticed I was
down and asked me what was wrong after class.  I wound up crying on his 
shoulder but he was willing to put up with me.  I couldn't tell him the whole
story of course.  Just that I'd lost my boyfriend.  He did his best to cheer
me up and did make me feel better."
     "Davis-sensei."  Hermes looked a little wistful.  "I had such a crush on
     Mercury blushed.  "I did not."
     Hermes actually smiled.  "Ami, you can't lie to me about how we felt.
We had a crush on him."   
     Mercury mumbled, "Well maybe a small crush."  Her face was still red.
     Hermes nodded.  "Him and Trenchcoat mask.  Everyone else fell for Mamoru
but we found Trenchcoat-sama more intriguing."  She hesitated then asked,
"Did you ever find out who he was?"
     "No.  He hasn't been seen since the final battle against Beryl.  I've 
wondered if he was just there to fight against Beryl.  To undo the defeat from
so long ago.  If that was his purpose then perhaps his time was done and he
won't return again.  What happened to him here?"
     "He vanished a few months before the end.  I think the youma found him 
and killed him."  All traces of good humour vanished from Hermes face.  
"That's what it's like in our world.  Never forget that!"  And Davis-sensei
died in the traffic pileup when that girder fell from that building site.  
Him and ten others.  I wept when I heard about it, back then I couldn't 
imagine anything more tragic.  Another difference between our worlds.  In
yours he must have avoided it somehow, taken a later bus or something.  All
it takes is a moment's decision to alter your life forever.  Your world he
survived.  Here?  Even if he'd avoided the accident he'd have died with 
everyone else in Tokyo a few months later.  Ami might have made a connection 
between the two men if her sullen brooding hadn't been interrupted.
     Suddenly they heard shouting.  The Amis turned to see one of the Makotos
yelling at the other.  Sailor Zeus leapt from the pedestal and stalked 
towards them.  Hermes said, "Brief your people" and moved to intercept her
partner.  Mercury saw the two meet and Zeus talking in a low, urgent voice.
She thought about seeing if she could help but realized her presence would be
resented.  Those two had a far stronger bond than she did with Makoto.  
Perhaps it was sign she should get to know Sailor Jupiter better.  But right 
now there was work to do.  She marched back to her waiting friends.  Jupiter  
and Polaris were standing on a pedestal discussing something.  Polaris 
noticed Mercury was looking up at her and jumped down to ask her what she 
     "Sailor Polaris if you've learned how to use the network Hermes mentioned
     "No problem.  Course I couldn't have done it without Mars's help."
     Rei gave a very unconvincing display of false modesty.  "Well I'm not 
just a pretty face you know."  Usagi muttered something and Minako giggled.
Rei glared at them but they both just tried to look innocent.  Mercury shook
her head then continued.
     "I've discussed matters with my counterpart and here's what we'll do.
We will use the Sailor Teleport but as we only know how to do it with five
people and don't know how to do precision teleporting there will be a slight
change.  Hermes and Zeus will replace Makoto and myself.  Build the power for 
the jump and let them direct it.  As for Makoto and me we'll travel with
     Ti nodded.  "It'll be easy to take two passengers."  She paused as 
Hermes and Zeus rejoined them.  Hermes looked cold and controlled but Zeus was 
glaring at her counterpart.  Ti looked to Hermes.  "And I'll bet I go first 
because you don't trust me not to stay behind and screw up your plans."
     Hermes gave her a wintery smile.  "You're turning mind reader, youma."
     "Actually I'm just learning to think like a paranoid."  Hermes gave a  
slight twitch but didn't react otherwise.  She continued the briefing.
     "Our destination will be the freight teleport pad outside the palace's
receiving doors."  Ti summoned enough energy to jump then closed her eyes and 
cast her mind out.  "Okay, I've got it."
     Hermes nodded.  "As do we."
     Jupiter frowned.  "I don't get it.  If you already had this way in why
haven't you used it before?"
     "For the simple reason that the pad is ringed with sensors and booby 
traps which go off if unauthorized persons materialize.  Same with the 
receiving doors, they're heavily armoured and by the time we'd breached them 
they'd have an army waiting for us.  We've known this route for months but
trying to us it would get us killed.  But this time we have the Princess 
herself along and she can override all the security systems." 
     "Can I?"  Everyone turned to Ti.  "You're assuming the overrides are
keyed to her genetic and aura pattern.  Well that's how our Pyrite works his
security systems (maybe she shouldn't have mentioned that) but how do you
know this world's version didn't included codewords or implanted beacons or
whatever?  After all if they're really playing by the Dark Kingdom rules then
they've got to be almost as paranoid as ..."  She managed to choke off "you"
and quickly substituted, "... Beryl."
     "I don't make errors like that."  Zeus gave no sign she knew Hermes was
lying.  They didn't know for sure that this would work, Polaris might be 
right.  But they'd agreed to roll the dice one last time.  The only question
was would the other Ami figure it out?  She knew Ami from the inside.  If
anyone spotted the deceit it'd be her.  The other were just like their sisters
in arms.  Far too trusting.
     Mercury Ami didn't speak up.  They all seemed to accept Hermes' word 
although Polaris seemed to have some reservations.  But that was inevitable
with Ami's unrelenting attitude that the only good youma was a dead youma. 
But she wasn't really any different.  And now it was time to redeem a lot of
     The senshi (minus Mercury and Jupiter) formed a circle.  Hermes gave a
few last minute instructions some of which they had no idea how to follow.
How were they supposed to avoid gravitational flux?  When they built the 
power for the Sailor Teleport their surrounding were torn up.  That was just
the way it was.  Yet they couldn't help noticing Polaris's disappearance
(along with Ami and Makoto) didn't disturb the ground she'd been standing on.
Beneath their feet earth tore upwards and began floating around them.
     Meanwhile Ti had just materialized on the delivery pad.  An automated
voice demanded she input security clearance immediately.  Ti quickly rushed to
the glowing panel that sprouted from a nearby pole.  The light faded from red
to grey.  All clear.  In fact according to the text scrolling across the 
screen she had "ultimate clearance" which sounded very good.  It seemed 
automated but with youma technology that meant demons or some sort of spirit
were bound to an interconnected magick matrix rather than SF style AIs.  She 
couldn't help thinking that if her cousin had built this it would have Majel
Barret's voice.
     Titanite kept her hand on the panel.  Hopefully that would prevent any 
alarms going off when the other materialized.  Mercury, trailed by Jupiter, 
joined her.  "I take it that growling was instructions of some sort?"  Ti 
felt puzzled.
     "Sure.  Didn't you hear ...?  Oh, of course.  You don't speak youma'shak.
Well it looks like Hermes was right about the security clearances  ... at 
least so far.  Speaking of them where ..."  There was a flare of light and
five senshi were standing in the center of the pad.  Hermes and Zeus had 
broken the circle the moment they materialized and scanned the pad for guards
or other nasty surprises.  All clear.  "Never mind."  Hermes seemed to blur 
as she crossed the distance between them.  She glanced at the text on the 
screen and nodded.  
     "Just as I expected (Careful!  She'd almost said hoped) all clear.  The
next thing to do is open the doors."  She nodded towards the panel set beside
the massive sliding doors.  Like the entire exterior of the palace they were
     Minako frowned.  "Why green?  It's such an ugly colour."
     Titanite touched her hair self-consciously.  "What's wrong with green?"
     Makoto sided with her, "I like green!"  Zeus nodded in agreement.
     Outnumbered, Minako quickly replied, "Nothing wrong with green itself.  I 
just don't like that particular shade."  It was a lighter green than that worn 
by either Makoto so they let it go.  Well aware it was a match for both her 
and her brother's hair Titanite decided to let the matter drop.
     "So how does this work?  I just touch the lock and say "open sesame?"
     "Don't be flippant.  Just tell it to open."  Hermes voice was as cold as
ever.  She moved to the right-hand side of the door as Zeus moved to the left.
     Just inside the doors the Receiving Adjutant was frantically trying to 
get his human workers into some sort of order.  The terrified humans were
doing there best to look sharp and praying this was a bad dream.  They'd
just received word that Princess Titanite herself was outside.  Why she was
using the freight pad no one knew but no one was going to go out there and
ask her.  It must be one of her whims.  Perhaps she was accompanying some
treasure her brother had presented to her at the anniversary party.  Whatever
the reason she was out there and might be coming this way.  Hopefully she'd 
teleport to her chambers and send word to have whatever was out there brought 
in, unpacked and sent to its rightful place.  Worst case scenario was that 
she'd chose to accompany it inside.  In which case they were all in danger.
     She might decide the humans looked slovenly and decide to beautify the
area.  Which was another way of saying decimate.  The story of what she'd
done to the servant who spilled the soup was infamous and repeated frequently.
His fate had been typical of her malicious sense of humour and had involved
boiling water and sliced carrots.  Of course if she decided the ultimate
responsibility for the humans' unaesthetic appearance rested with the 
adjutant ... he shuddered.  The Receiving Bay guards (who were there to 
oversee the humans rather than official palace guards) were straightening
their black uniforms and quickly polishing their amulets and beam crystals.
Getting reprimanded by the Princess might be the last thing that happened to
     There was a chime.  She was coming in personally.  Waving the humans to
kneel (which they were already doing) the adjutant unsealed the doors and 
bowed low as they slid open.  He never saw what hit him and was dead before he 
struck the floor.  The guards joined him a moment later.
     The speed of the attack had stunned the Senshi.  The doors were still
opening when Hermes attack blasted the bowing youma.  The frozen figure had 
toppled forward as two more youma were electrocuted.  When the first one hit 
the ground and shattered the other two were already falling.  They had given
neither attack cry nor chance to surrender.  Nor had Hermes or Zeus considered 
doing either.
     Like the huddled human workers the senshi gaped in astonishment as Hermes 
dashed into the loading dock.  A moment later she called, "Clear."  Zeus had 
straightened up and her eyes had flicked towards the gawking humans.  At 
Hermes nod she raised her hand.  Jupiter saw what appeared to be a dozen small 
"Supreme Thunder"s form.  Without warning they leapt forward and the workers
dropped like stones.  Jupiter's jaw drop then she screamed, "WHAT THE HELL ARE
     "They're fine."  Jupiter spun to face Hermes.  She continued, "They are
merely stunned.  Those were low power, the effect is similar to being hit by
a taser.  They'll recover shortly."
     "Unless any of them have weak hearts."  Hermes didn't seem bothered by
Mercury's rebuke.
     "None of them do.  When the youma were filling the enclaves they were
rather eugenic in their standards.  They only wanted healthy slaves, why
settle for inferior merchandise?  So no human under youma command possesses
congenital defects or carries heredity diseases.  They tested the applicants.
Everyone who had either of those was left outside to starve.  So no more
diabetics, hemophiliacs, or a host of others.  They were a literal death 
sentence for everyone who had them."
     Missing the implications of all this Sailor Moon asked, "But why stun 
them at all?"
     "So they wouldn't warn the youma.  And before you say humans wouldn't
betray humans to the youma remember that this is our world.  We've learned
by experience that resistance has been beaten out of these people.  The fear  
of punishment and reprisals from the youma is greater than any hope that we
can do anything to aid them."  And the true tragedy is that they're usually
right.  Except maybe, just maybe, things will be different this time.
     Out loud she said, "This is neither the time nor the place for a debate.
We have to move fast.  Polaris, you're up front with me.  The rest of you 
follow us.  Your prime duty is to protect Sailor Moon.  Without her we don't
stand a chance.  Zeus, rearguard."  Makoto nodded and moved into position.
The Senshi were still standing clustered in confusion.  "What are you waiting
for?  Move it!"  Looking uncertain the senshi moved to surround Sailor Moon.
At Hermes glare Titanite slapped the screen by the door.  The door unsealed
and hummed open immediately and they exited into the wide corridor.  
     This level was obviously more for working than for show.  Drab and 
undecorated.  Here you'd find laundries, kitchens, workshops, servants 
quarters and the thousand other things that kept the majestic bulk above them
functioning smoothly.  Hermes rushed forward swiftly and silently.  Titanite
matched her speed, from her expression falling behind would be unhealthy.
Behind them the others followed as best they could while Zeus moved like 
Hermes mirror image.  So far so good.  But discovery was inevitable.  The
question was how far could they get before it happened? 
     Within her chambers Titanite felt a growing sense of danger.  Of course
there was no reason to think anything might be wrong.  She was in the most
secure part of the Palace which boasted a very well armed guard force and the 
most advanced security system available.  Her defences were second only to
the Citadel and if she'd had an uncapped mana well available the Palace
would be its equal.
     Not that the Citadel needed any defences when the Overlord was in 
residence but her brother wasn't one to leave things to chance.  As for the
Palace ... she raised a hand to her throat involuntarily ... while she might
not be her brother's equal she was capable of repelling any attack single
handed.  Then she realised something felt odd.  The stone seemed to be 
vibrating gently.  That must be what she'd been feeling unconsciously.  Why?
It hadn't done this before.  Why was it activating herself?  Feeling a little 
disquieted she shifted position and spoke.
     "Command mode."  Picking up that phrase the automated security monitors  
awaited input.  "Open line to security central, audio only."  There was a 
quiet beep to indicate the order was understood and being executed.  The man
beside her stirred and muttered sleepily, "What's wrong Titan?"
      "The name is Titanite."  Men!  They think just because you've been 
lovers that gives the right to chop up your name.  Always insist on your full      
name her brother had taught her.  How else can you expect your name to
command respect and obedience.  It was a wise policy and they'd all followed
it.  Though she suspected Pyrite and Azurite used nicknames in private.  Well
let them, at their level of intimacy it was a harmless affection.  She doubted
she'd ever be that close to anyone.  If she ever was it certainly wouldn't be 
with this creep.  
     "Sorry, Titanite."  She spared him a look, he actually looked hurt.  Get 
used to it buddy.  This had been a disappointing night.  Not totally, the
pleasures of the flesh were always worth indulging, but it hadn't yielded the 
results she'd hoped.  Then she heard the monitor whisper, "Link established."
She could hear a lot of shouting in the background.
     "Commander, what is going on?"  She kept her voice mildly curious.  There
was no need for overt threats, her underlings knew her well enough to 
understand she expected prompt answers.
     "Princess ... your highness ..."  The commander sounded nervous.  Only 
natural if something had gone very wrong on his watch.  Which, judging from 
the cacophony, it had.  There was a momentary pause as he contemplated the
dangers of admitting there were intruders vs lying to the Princess.  He
decided honesty gave the best chance of survival.  "A small strike force has
entered the Palace.  Reports are sketchy but it appears to be lead by the
Senshi.  Total numbers are uncertain, they disabled the main scanner but 
not before flooding all the sensors with false data.  We're purging the system
now but it'll be ten more minutes before everything's back on line.
     Titanite nodded, "Definitely Hermes.  Looks like the huntees have decided
to try being the hunters for a change.  Or to go out in a blaze of glory.    
How did they get into the Palace anyway?"
     "We don't know that yet majesty.  There's no sign of unauthorized use of
the teleport pads or of an external breach.  Blocking fields are still secure
so if they teleported in they'd have had to use the internal pads but we have 
no access within a reasonable time frame."
     "We'll worry about assigning blame later.  For now why aren't you using
the contingency plans for senshi attack?  Activate the force fields, pin them
against them and send in enough troops to finish the job."
     "We've tried that but it's not working!"  The captain sounded very
exasperated.  "Somehow they're disabling and reactivating the shields at 
will.  We can't understand how!  It's hampering us rather than them.  They're
also locking shields over the pads so we can't transport in enough troops to
finish them.  The new fields are refusing to respond to anyone without Dark
Circle level clearance so we can't hit them from behind.  We're forcing our 
way through the fields but that takes time.  Meanwhile this idiotic system 
keeps informing us that no unauthorized user access is taking place!"
     "I must have a talk with my cousin about his unbeatable system.  It seems
Hermes has found a way to fool it into thinking someone with high level access
is along.  We may have to crash the system."
     "But ... but your majesty!  That would shut down all the shields and 
given the confusion we'd probably have mass insurrection among the humans.
Also they'd have a clear run to your chambers!"  And if anything happens to
you the Overlord will have me tortured to death.
     "Where are they now?"
     "Level three.  We may have them contained, I'm getting troops there as 
fast as I can.  I've got barricades set up on the main stairs and we're 
flooding the troops in by the secondary stairs and the elevators.  We've
neutralized the fields locked over three of the level one pads.  Unfortunately
this destroyed two of the three pads."
      Titanite looked up, "Mirror, display current level three security
schematic."  Overhead their reflections disappeared replaced by a floor plan
of the Palace's third level.  The intruders were represent by blue dots 
gathered togeher to form a blob.  Almost as so as the image appeared she heard 
somebody in Security Central shout, "We have breakthrough!  They're heading 
for the stairs!"  This was followed by a worried voice from directly behind 
     "Titanite they're only one level down!"  He nodded towards the door 
which covered her personal teleport pad.  "Shouldn't we perhaps take a trip
to my fortress ..."  Seeing the hostility in her eyes he quickly added, "...
or perhaps to the Citadel."  She still didn't look appeased.
      "I am not some little girl who needs to cower behind her brother every
time there's trouble."
      "No, No.  Of course not.  I was just suggesting that ... that maybe the
Overlord would want to handle this personally."
     "If he did he would never have assigned the hunt to the Sev ... the Six.  
He has no need to prove anything by killing them personally.  Flee if you like 
but I am remaining."  The rebuke was obvious and his plans hinged on remaining in
her good graces.
     "Obviously I'll stay by your side.  How could you think otherwise."
     She smiled, "How could I indeed.  It's good to know I can count on you."
And if you believe that, she thought to herself, you'll believe everything.
Aloud she said, "Patch me into the comm link with Captain in charge of the 
barricades.  Above she could see the blue mass was almost there.
     In addition to the chaos in the Security Center she now heard a voice 
barking commands.  In the background someone called out the rapidly reducing
distance between them and the attackers.  There was a firm call of "Volley
fire" answered with the hum of beamers and a variety of youma power based
attacks.  She wasn't too surprised to hear the crackle of lightning and the  
howl of arctic winds.  Yet there were other voices in there shouting at the 
top of their lungs.  They kept repeating phrases identical or similar to 
ones she'd read of in her brother's tactical assessment notes.  From the noise  
it was a complete melee down there.  There was a scream of, "SENSHI!  DOZENS
OF THEM!  WE CAN'T ..."  The transmission broke off suddenly.
     She felt a hand on her shoulder.  "That didn't sound good." 
     Titanite nodded, "Guards dying in the middle of a transmission is usually
a bad sign.  It would seem they'll be here before long.  I'd say a few 
precautions are in order."  She looked toward the impenetrable darkness within
a small alcove.  Something within stirred as it sensed her attention.
     The Commander's voice cut in on her thoughts.  "Princess we are pouring 
troops into the castle and will have the situation stabilized momentarily.
However I would like to recommend that you temporarily withdraw until then."
     "I'm staying."
     "BUT ...!"
     "This is not a debate Commander.   End transmission."  With that she 
turned back to her paramour.  "We must prepare to welcome our visitors.  The
way they're chewing through the guards they won't be long."
     "What do you suppose that guard meant by dozens of Senshi?"
     Titanite snorted.  "Dozens ... Hah!  What it means is Hermes and Zeus 
have got some idiots to dress up as senshi and follow them.  Good use of
psychological warfare by Hermes.  All those Senshi distract the guard so they
don't realise only two are firing.  Now quiet I need to concentrate."
     Outside Zeus poured more lightning down the corridor.  The youma she was
targeting shrieked but its shield held.  Damn!  She was tiring and that 
made it harder to focus energy.  The pursuing guards were becoming more 
frantic the closer they got to the Princess.  Ami seemed certain that  
Titanite wouldn't flee as that would indicate weakness.  Makoto wasn't so
sure.  The Dark Circle had a reputation for common sense.  Ami felt that 
Titanite's youth would be sufficient to override her better Judgement.  Mako
really hoped she was right.  It would be a hell of a thing to get there and 
find their target long gone.  This whole operation seemed fouled up already.
The internal teleporters weren't part of the main network and keyed to
authorized users only.  Which meant Titanite was the only one of them who 
could use them.  Teleport blockers prevented outside access except at a 
central teleport stage in full view of Security.  Even Titanite's inate 
abilities were jammed.  Natural youma precautions against insurrection and 
ambitious underlings breaking in with assassination schemes.  They should have 
expected it.  To be fair Ami had but she'd been gambling that Polaris could 
grant them all unlimited access to the palace teleporters.  But that had to
be done at the Central Security Office and the arrival there of a second
Titanite without access codes would set off alarms.  All of which meant meant 
they'd had to storm forward on foot and hope they weren't discovered.  Roughly 
equivalent to continually kicking a hornet's nest and believing you wouldn't 
get stung.
     They'd almost got out of the sublevels before running into the guard 
detachment.  Hermes had reacted almost before anyone other than Zeus knew  
they were in danger.  She hadn't given any battlecry the Senshi recognised.
She'd simply said, "DIE!"  Almost instantly the corridor was full of frozen
corpses.  Ami had surged forward into the ice sculptures she'd made whirling
and striking.  Supercooled bodies and limbs shattered like glass at her
touch.  Within moments the corridor seemed reminiscent of an archeological dig 
that had found a lot of fragments to reassemble.  Ami had glanced back and 
said simply, "Let's go."  Everyone had stared at her in shock so Zeus had 
quickly added, "We found out the hard way some youma can survive deep-freezing 
and thaw out later.  So now Ami likes to make sure."
     Surveying the carnage Polaris had muttered, "There's some very big 
differences between this Dark Kingdom and ours.  In ours there were never 
that many humanic type youmas."
     "We can talk differences later.  For now let's move!"  Though she gave
no sign Zeus had just been reminded of another reason to hustle the Senshi
along.  She didn't want them having too long to examine the bodies.  They'd
take it badly if they realized that while the officers were definitely youma
the common troopers had been human.
     They'd followed Hermes as she continued on her path.  A lot of people
had died to smuggle out the floor plans of the Palace in bits and pieces.  
They were still far from complete but they showed the place she wanted.  She
ignored the inner voice asking her what she'd do if the youma had moved their 
     Luck was with them and the sensor room was exactly where it was supposed
to be.  Even luckier the guards outside were youma.  Seeing them Sailor Moon 
began to strike a pose.  Then stuttered to a halt as she saw Hermes had just 
killed them.  Zeus brushed past her and the two scarred senshi stormed inside.  
There was the sound of electrical crackling and ice shattering along with a 
few very brief screams.  This was followed almost immediately by Hermes 
emerging and announcing, "Polaris, we need you."  Feeling rather uncertain 
Titanite followed them inside.
     On the floor there were a number of frozen and fragmented youma along 
with several electrically burned bodies that were undergoing the normal youma
disintegration.  Ti noted that it was the slower combustion you got under
Kingdom conditions rather than the very rapid effect that occurred in normal
terrestrial conditions.  There was one survivor, a terrified youma resembling
a humanoid armadillo.  Zeus stood over the cowering technician as he babbled
out how to access the system.  At Hermes order Ti placed her hand on the
access panel and instructed it to display complete plans of the palace,
indicating human and youma movements within it.  Hermes visor activated and 
she ordered Mercury to follow suit.  The display rolled by and they downloaded
complete floor plans into their terminals.
     Before Hermes could prompt her Titanite ordered, "Display the last logged
location of Princess Titanite."  A moment later she said, "Okay display last
logged location prior to the loading dock."  The jinn bound into the system
obeyed and a diagram of the Palace's fourth above ground level appeared.  One
large set of rooms flashed black.  "Looks like she's home."  Hermes nodded
and was turning to tell Makoto to dispose of the youma when Minako suddenly
called, "Hey! Look at this!"
     She was pointing at a large red button behind a glass pane.  Above the
button the words "Self destruct" were neatly printed in youma'shak, Japanese
and English.  "Should we use that?"
     Zeus snorted and Hermes smiled faintly.  "Do you really think the Dark
Circle are stupid enough to leave big buttons that can blow their castles up
lying around?  Especially labelled in Japanese?"  She shook her head.  "It's 
just an indication of their sick sense of humour.  Watch and learn.  Makoto?"    
     Zeus tossed one of those mini lightning balls and the glass shattered.
Hermes grabbed the youma tech and tossed him at the button.  He shrieked as he
slammed into the button.  An instant later he was sliced apart by a net of 
highly focused energy beams and rained onto the floor.
     Hermes said simply, "Just another of their traps." 
     "You didn't have to demonstrate it that way."  Hermes turned to confront
     "We couldn't leave him alive behind us to warn them.  Never forget, the 
only good youma is a dead youma!" 
     "Errr I have to disagree ..."  Ti's voice trailed off as Hermes glared at
her.  Then Hermes ordered her back to the main console.  Ti obeyed but was
glad to notice that Hermes little declaration hadn't gone over very well with
the other senshi.  Following Hermes instructions she created a power surge
in the sensors which would block precision scanning for about half an hour.
     Hermes had plotted a route to the Princess's location and they'd set off.
Not surprisingly they'd been spotted shortly after emerging on level one.
Which, Sailor Zeus thought, is how we got ourselves into this mess.  Behind
her youma poured into the corridor carrying heavy equipment designed to force
their way through the force fields Polaris had sealed behind them.  Ahead of 
her tired looking senshi exchanged fire (and ice, and electricity, and TK 
missiles) with the youma between them and the Princess's quarters.  This 
wasn't good.  The youma ahead had enough cover and energy shielding to hold 
their ground.  As for the advancing youma they'd be on top of them in a few 
minutes.  They were pinned!  Mars was shouting for Polaris to teleport behind 
the youma and blast them from behind to be answered by Polaris yelling that 
there was a blocking field in place.  Which somewhat ironically solved the 
     Rei shouted, "If you can't teleport what good are you?"  It was unlikely
she meant it.  Anyone who knew her well would have known that was just  
frustration talking.  Polaris didn't.  She got an odd gleam in her eye and 
said, "Okay, fine.  Watch this!"  With that a giant wooden mallet materialized
in her hands.  Standing up (energy bursts barely missing or grazing her 
shield) she span around like a entrant in a hammer toss then launched the
mallet towards the ceiling with a cry of, "POLARIS ATOMIC HAMMER SPECIAL!"
The megamallet embedded itself in the passageway's roof as Polaris ducked back 
to cover with a look of intense concentration.  Rei was about to ask what was 
so atomic about the hammer when Titanite grunted with exertion and the hammer
exploded.  The roof caved in and cascaded down on the youma blocking the 
corridor.  The passage was suddenly filled with the howls of buried youma. 
     Never one to waste an opportunity Hermes dashed forward and began close
range attacks on any youma visible before the dust had begun to settle.   
Within seconds there were no live youma in sight and the remainder were 
buried alive.  Titanite winced and rubbed her forehead but she managed to grin
at Rei.  "That answer your question?"
     Rei smiled back.  "Absolutely."
     Then Zeus grabbed them both and began dragging them down the corridor.
"Socialize later.  We've got a lot of work left to do."  Everyone was 
clustered before the doors that blocked the entry to the Princess's rooms.
Hermes was about to order Polaris to unseal the doors when the corridor was 
suddenly filled with the triumphant howling of youma.  Zeus swore.
     "They're through the shields!  Ami, I can't hold them alone!"  Hermes
knew she was right but she couldn't count on any of the alter-senshi holding
them off.  She was the only reasonable candidate.  Dammit!  Only one choice.
     "Polaris, unlock the doors and you all find and ... purify the Princess.
Zeus and I will hold the youma off.   What are you waiting for?  MOVE IT!"
The senshi scurried inside while Zeus and Hermes turned back to battle.
Hermes cursed herself for forgetting to remind them not to pose before 
     Zeus took a moment to say, "Ever see the end of Butch Cassidy and the
Sundance Kid?"
     Hermes shook her head.  "No.  You'll have to tell me about it when we've
taken care of these guys."  Then the youma were upon them and there was no
more time to talk.
     Inside the Senshi were dashing through the opulent chambers following the
lead of Polaris and Mercury.  Polaris was tracking her counterparts aura
while Mercury was using her visor to scan for youma lifesigns that matched
Titanite's.  Jupiter noticed the surrounding colour scheme tended towards 
blacks, dark blues and greys.  Though there were some splashes of green and
red.  The paintings on the walls were best merely glimpsed in passing as they
were rather disturbing.  Typical Dark Kingdom art, Titanite noticed.  It 
seemed her counterpart had very different tastes.  There wasn't an anime 
poster in sight.
    She stopped in front of the latest set of doors.  They were right on top
of her!  "She's in there!"  Ami agreed.  Before Minako and Rei could both
try and give orders Usagi surprised them both by saying, "Here's what we'll
do.  Polaris-chan unlock the door then everybody follow me in.  Let's get
this done quickly!"  Incredible!  Signs of leadership.  Rei began, "Usagi-chan
     "I want to get this over with so I can go home and get my beauty sleep
so I'll be ready when Mamo-chan gets back.  Besides if we take too long I'll
miss breakfast."  Polaris heard Mars mutter "Odango-head!" but she didn't
look that surprised.  Then Usagi said "NOW" and Polaris slammed her palm 
against the door plate and shouted, "OPEN!"  Sailor Moon charged in followed
by the others.  Sailor Polaris rushed after them and was very surprised when
she slammed into Rei's back.  Why had they stopped so suddenly?  Then she saw 
what they were looking at and made a strangled noise as her jaw dropped in 
     Usagi had charged in as usual and struck her normal pose.  The others had
dashed in making a semi circle with her at the center.  Jupiter and Mercury
to the left, Venus and Rei (quickly joined by Polaris) to the right.  She'd
begun her speech unaware that the others were frozen in place.  "Mirrors
should reflect the person not distort it.  Those who rewrite history will
find no forgiveness at giving me extra studying and getting me confused.  I'm 
the sailor Senshi fighting for love and justice, Sailor Moon!"  The sight in
front of her finally got through.  There were two figures on the massive 
four poster bed before them.  Titanite didn't have to worry about her 
counterpart wearing embarrassing clothes because right now the only thing
Princess Titanite was wearing was a black choker (with a familiar jewel in 
the center) around her neck.  Her older companion was also unattired but had
wrapped a sheet around himself.  Both were leaning against the headboard 
watching the red faced senshi with amusement.  "Um ... so on behalf of the
Moon ... I'll punish you ..."  Usagi trailed off in embarrassment, Luna had
never told her what to do if you found the enemy in bed.
     "Afraid I'm not into being punished, girls.  But I don't mind dispensing
it."  Titanite laughed and her companion joined her.
     Rei was trying to fight off her own blush when she felt a quiver.  She 
turned to see Polaris shaking.  Not with fear, with rage.  She looked ready
to explode.  Princess Titanite had also turned her attention to the masked 
senshi.  The other five had excellent copies of the senshi's costumes but 
this one didn't fit.  The costume wasn't a match for any of the late senshi,
she was the only one wearing a mask and there was something almost familiar 
about her.  She was also the only one who wasn't looking embarrassed.  Her
expression had gone from shock, to loathing to pure anger.  She also sounded
her hands and power crackled between them.  In a quieter voice loading with
loathing she hissed, "This is too much!".  The sphere formed between her hands
almost instantly but it didn't launch.  Instead it got brighter and brighter
than any of the Polaris Missiles she'd been throwing on their way here.  Rei
had to look away from the blinding light.  With an inarticulate scream she 
threw it at the bed on a direct course with Magnesite.
     It never got past the bedposts.  As it reached that point the sphere
impacted an invisible wall, flared and was gone.  Titanite rushed forward
shouting, "SHIELD DEACTIVATE!" swinging her arms back in a two handed grip.
As she swung forward she was suddenly holding a megamallet that would have
impressed Kaori Makamura.  
     "POLARIS ULTIMATE HAMMER OF JUSTICE!"  That was pretty good for a spur of
the moment attack name.  Unfortunately it was rather spoiled by the hammer
smashing into the same unseen barrier as the missile and Titanite dropping the
mallet with a cry of pain.  Polaris winced and stepped backward feeling like
she'd just sprained both wrists.  On the bed Titanite noticed the hammer 
dissolving.  A psychoplasm manipulator, she hadn't known there were any humans
with the talent.  Or was this a youma insurrection disguised as an attack by
the senshi?  No, the way they'd cut through her guards the real senshi must be 
with them.  Neither Hermes or Zeus would be foolish enough to work with a 
youma so she had to be human.  A pity generating the shield was messing up 
her aura scanning ability or the question simply wouldn't exist.  But that
didn't change the fact that there was something very familiar about her.  
Time for a few answers and to have a little fun.  With that thought Princess 
Titanite began speaking.
     "You can't deactivate this shield because I'm generating it myself.  And
as has just been demonstrated it's very effective against kinetic attacks.
The unidentified senshi looked away from the Hermes lookalike (who was 
examining her wrists) and glared at her.  "You'll find it's equally functional 
against radiant energy."
     "You're bluffing!  You can't generate two phase shields!"
     Titanite frowned, she knew that voice from somewhere.  "Not on my own.
But thanks to my little trinket I'm capable of all sorts of things!"
     "The ginzuishou!"  The Sailor Moon lookalike was staring at her throat.
"Impossible!  It can't grant sinful or impure wishes!"  Titanite laughed.  
     "Who told you that?  Anyway what's sinful or impure about upping your
shield generation ability."  She dismissed the faux Sailor Moon and turned
back to the Senshi in yellow.  "Who are you anyway."  Beside her Magnesite
started to say something then changed his mind.  He'd keep his own counsel
for the present.
     "You can call me Sailor Polaris.  If you can remember that.  Anyone who
would ... mess around with Magnesite can't have much in the way of brains!"
     Titanite didn't like that.  "Who I choose as a lover is no concern of
yours.  if I let him be the latest then that's my decision."
     Sailor Polaris made a gurgling noise and went chalk white.  "LATEST!  
     "Not that it's any business of yours, yes.  We youma aren't as repressed
as you humans."  Polaris made another inarticulate noise then rallied.
     "Even so picking Magnesite is an insult to the proud name of Titanite!"
     "No it isn't!"
     "Yes it isn't!"
     "No it isn't!"  Yes she'd definitely heard that voice before.
     "Yes it ..."
     "Excuse me could we settle this later."  Everyone looked at the Sailor
Zeus lookalike.  "We're on a tight schedule!"
     Titanite smile.  "Quite true.  The real Sailor Zeus won't be able to 
hold off my guards much longer.  What do you think you can do without her,
     "I'm no imposter.  And the name is Sailor Jupiter!"  With that her hands
glowed and she shouted "SPARKLING WIDE PRESSURE!"
     Titanite was amazed.  The shield stopped the attack without any trouble
but she'd assumed these were just girls in senshi costumes.  Instead they had
real powers.  They all began to introduce themselves and attack the shield.
     "Neither am I Sailor Hermes, my name is Sailor Mercury.  SHINING AQUA 
     "The warrior of love and beauty, Sailor Venus. VENUS LOVE ME CHAIN!"
     "I purify evil with flame, Sailor Mars.  BURNING MANDALA!"
     The shield held firm.  In fact the attacks bounced off and the senshi 
were all in motion dodging lightning, lasers, fireballs and freezing blasts.
Everyone was shouting at everyone else to knock it off.  Princess Titanite
surveyed the walls critically and sighed.  Amusing as this was it was wreaking 
the art on the walls and ruining the finish.  Oh well, she'd been thinking
about redecorating anyway.
     The last ricochet died away and the senshi cautiously emerged from the 
room's meagre cover.  Titanite shook her head.  "That was truly pathetic.
Well girls you may have got the costumes and the powers right but the names
are all dead wrong.  Now you've got a real problem here.  Even if you somehow
crack my shield and kill me my guards are going to pour in here any minute.
There's no way out and you'll never kill them all.  So this looks like a
complete suicide mission."
     "Hah!  That's what you think.  We've got a plan!"  Titanite turned to 
face Sailor Moon.  
     "You're the only one who got the senshi name right.  So what's the plan?"
     "We're going to ..."  Usagi stopped herself before Rei could clamp her
hand over Usagi's mouth.  "Hey!  You're the bad guy!  I'm not telling you."
     Titanite chuckled.  "Well I guess you're not as stupid as the real Sailor
Moon.  Pretty close, but not quite."
     "I'm the real Sailor Moon!"
     "Wrong!  My brother killed her a year ago.  But you girls look to be
more dangerous than I anticipated so I'm not going to wait for my guards to
get here."  Not that she'd ever intended to but she'd played with them long
enough.  Time for the endgame.
     Sailor Polaris called, "Everybody watch for your chance.  A shield that 
strong she'll have to open a window before she can attack.  Use that to hit
     Titanite smiled.  "That would be true if I had to attack you personally
but that's not necessary.  There's someone here I'd like you to meet.  Shadow!
Greet our guests!"
     From the darkened alcove (almost invisible in the gloom) across the room 
something emerged.  It looked like a three dimensional black silhouette, a
silhouette with an outline matching the Overlord's.  It stepped forward then
stopped and bowed low.  As it straightened up Titanite announced, "This is
Shadow.  One of my brother's experiments.  He got interested in the procedure
Beryl used to create original seven great youma and their gestalt form.  Like
her he used human psychics for the base material.  Unlike her he fused them
permanently into this form.  The result is a creature stronger than three of
the seven combined and far more controllable.  He had no further use for 
Shadow when the experiment was over so he programmed him to protect me and
made me a present of him.  Shadow will do anything I tell him.  If I say
trash the senshi he will kill you all.  So what will you do now?"
     Ami gasped, that was what had happened to Ryo in the days of Silver 
Millennium.  And what the possessed Mamoru had tried to make Ryo part of while
under Beryl's thrall.  They had to free the victims.  "Sailor Moon.  Change 
Shadow back to the people merged together to form him."
     Usagi nodded and pulled the brooch from her chest and held it towards
shadow.  The cover vanished to reveal the ginzuishou and Princess Titanite 
gasped.  She grabbed at her neck and ran her fingers over the choker feeling 
for familar contours of the stone.  It was still there but that other gem 
could be its twin!  She felt her heart race and sweat bead her skin as she 
suddenly realized she might have drastically underestimated the threat the 
intruders posed.  If that gem was the equal of hers ...!  She opened her mouth 
to order Shadow to attack but it was too late!
     "MOON COSMIC POWER!"  A brief pause.  "MOON COSMIC POWER!"  A moment of 
silence then Sailor Moon began shaking her brooch.  "What's wrong with this 
stupid piece of junk?  Work!  That's an order!"  Shadow stood waiting 
patiently for Sailor Moon to attack while she ignored it and whacked the 
inert brooch with her free hand.  The other Senshi looked shocked.  Titanite 
felt her fear fade as her pulserate dropped back to normal.  Silly of her to 
worry, they couldn't possibly replicate a working version of the ginzuishou 
could they?  Except why did the fake Sailor Moon think it would work and how 
did the others duplicate the senshi's powers?  For that matter it wasn't just 
the pseudo Moon who'd expected their ginzuishou to work.  From the looks on 
their faces they'd all been shocked when it failed.  Why?  
     Suddenly Sailor Moon's costume seemed to ripple.  Then it broke into 
ribbons of colour which were sucked back into the brooch in her hand!  Sailor 
Moon vanished, replaced by a teenage girl in bunny pajamas.  Then something 
clicked in Titanite's perception and she saw the girl looked exactly like 
Sailor Moon.  She'd transformed from Senshi to human!  How could that be?  All
the senshi save Hermes and Zeus were dead!  What did this mean?  What in the 
Abyss was going on here?  The girl held her brooch up and shouted, "MOON
Still nothing.  Usagi turned the broach towards her and stared at it.  Then
gasped.  The ginzuishou was dull and lifeless.  No trace of power showed.  
What was happening?  Princess Titanite was wondering the same thing but
decided she'd sort it all out later.  She'd wasted enough time gaping like a
fool.  Right now it was time to wrap this up.  
     "Shadow, stun her!"  As Shadow's hand raised the senshi dashed between
it and Usagi.  Not that it did any good.  A black ball surged from Shadow's 
hand curved upwards over the senshi's heads then descended onto Usagi.  She
screamed and black lightning flickered around her.  Then she collapsed.  Ami
managed to catch her before she struck the floor but Usagi was already 
unconscious.  Rei snarled, "WHY YOU ... !  BURNING MANDALA!"  Her attack 
ripped towards Shadow but with fluid grace he sidestepped it.  He evaded the
Love Me Chain Venus threw his way then dodged Jupiter's attack.  He didn't
counterattack until Titanite shouted, "TAKE THEM OUT.  ALIVE if I POSSIBLE!"
    As the bedroom became a warzone the main doors to her majesty's chambers
tore open and Sailor Hermes was flung inside.  Sailor Zeus followed a moment
later and slammed them shut.  A hasty thunderbolt fused the lock but Makoto
knew that wouldn't hold them more than a minute.  Hermes rolled to her feet 
and opened her mouth.  Before she could speak Zeus shouted, "Forget the last 
stand, let's see if they did the job!  I don't want to check out not knowing 
if they succeeded.  Hermes mouth snapped shut and she nodded then both senshi
dashed through the chambers.  Behind them the doors started to glow.  They
entered the bedchamber and took in the bedlam.
     Everyone was down except Sailors Polaris and Venus.  Zeus immediately 
opened fire on Shadow.  The attack was at Supreme Thunder level, that was
all she had left.  Shadow shrugged it off as he slammed a negasphere into
Minako.  She crumpled to the ground and Shadow moved to its next target.  It
aimed at Sailor Polaris then stopped.  It's arm swung away and tracked Sailor
Hermes.  She was throwing one futile attack after another into Titanite's
force field and the youma was laughing at her.  She was so enraged she didn't 
even see Shadow or hear Makoto shout a warning.  Makoto slammed another ball
of lightning into Shadow's back, again there was no effect.  Polaris tackled
Hermes and dropped her out of the line of fire.  Hermes hit the ground rolling
and tore Polaris off her.  Before she could attack she saw Shadow.  It's arm
suddenly twitched away as Polaris stood up between her and it.  Inside her
shield Titanite saw shadow turn away from them.  What the hell was it doing?
Shadow spun around to face Makoto but she wasn't there anymore.  Sailor Zeus
tore past on her way to Hermes.  Shadow tossed a negasphere at her back.  
Halfway to impact Zeus passed Polaris.  Immediately the sphere slammed into
the ground.  Titanite stared in disbelief.  What the hell was happening?
     "Shadow!  BLAST THEM!"  It took aim at the trio then hesitated and  froze
in place.  "I said blast them!  That's an order!"  Shadow began to shake as
prime directives clashed.  Zeus and Hermes looked at each other then each 
grabbed one of Polaris's shoulders.  Keeping the startled Polaris between 
them and Shadow they backed away.  Zeus nodded towards a locked door and they
retreated to it.  They heard the main doors burst open and Ami slapped 
Polaris's hand against the lock panel.  Polaris had the presence of mind to
shout "OPEN!" and the trio dashed inside the small chamber.
     On the bed Titanite laughed.  That teleport chamber would do them 
absolutely no good whatsoever.  It was designed for her use alone and had
dozens of precautions to ensure there was no unauthorized access.  There also
was no teleport equipment as she didn't need it.  It was simply a pad she 
could use for entry and exit.  To prevent any teleport capable person from 
materializing on it there was a special blocking field locked in place.    
Unlike the field covering the rest of the palace it could be shut down.  But 
doing that required ultimate level security clearance, she and she alone could 
deactivate it.  To turn off the field it you'd need the right genetics, the 
right aura and the right soul!  Whatever tricks they'd used earlier to 
override security wouldn't be enough!  
     Which was why she was rather surprised when Hermes dropped something and 
Zeus shouted "GO!".  Polaris nodded and the three vanished.  Titanite was 
still gaping when the scrambler Hermes had left behind fouled their teleport 
traces.  She didn't even notice when her guards poured in looked for enemies.  
Not seeing any they levelled their weapons at the unconscious senshi and 
watched for movement.  They might have fired if their captain hadn't reminded 
them that the Princess might have some more elaborate fate in mind for them.  
Titanite continued staring at the open teleport chamber, as did Shadow.  
Magnesite looked at the unconscious Senshi and smiled.  He gestured 
imperiously and commanded, "Take them to the dungeons!"  The guards hesitated.  
The Princess was their liege but Magnesite was of the Dark Circle.  As 
Titanite didn't contradict they decide to obey.  
     "Belay that order!"  Without turning around Titanite announced, "I will
deal with them.  Or rather I will inform my brother of these events and let 
him deal with it.  Guards, withdraw to the next room.  Shadow, fetch me a
robe!"  As Shadow located a largely intact robe and brought it to her the 
guards filed out.  She collapsed her shield and Shadow helped her into the 
robe.  It seemed shadow would still obey some orders.  But why had it stopped 
attacking?  In fact it had looked as though Shadow was incapable of attacking 
the last three senshi.  Which made absolutely no sense whatsoever.  She'd have 
him examined later, meanwhile she had other Ur-prawn to fry.
     Without a glance at Magnesite she walked over to the one who had named
herself Jupiter.  No sign of a scar nor did "Mercury"?  show signs of scar 
tissue.  Yet both had powers that matched the senshi.  She put the puzzle
aside for the moment and got to work.  Titanite concentrated and the jewel at 
her throat glowed in response.  Raw psychoplasm formed on the floor like a 
lowlying mist and surrounded the senshi.  It flowed over their limbs then 
hardened to become stone which seemlessly joined to the floor.  That should 
hold them in the unlikely event they woke up soon.  She walked over to the 
bunny girl and squatted down for a closer look.  Then shook her head in 
     "Definite human aura.  And these four have senshi auras.  Abyss!  What
is going on?"
     Magnesite paused in pulling his clothes on (slightly singed but otherwise
fine) to say, "I have no idea.  It's a complete mystery."  Except, he thought,
that Sailor Polaris has your voice.  He mentally erased the mask and looked at
Titanite.  A match but what did it mean?  Not twins but triplets?  But where
had the third one been and why wasn't she part of the circle.  And why would
any youma side with the humans.  What did it mean?  And how can I use it?
     Titanite walked over to the east wall.  It held the only intact art in
the room.  Four portraits, each one showing one of the other members of the
Dark Circle.  She reached out and traced the scar on her brother's picture.
At her touch the picture glowed red and she spoke.  "Brother I am in my 
bedchamber and there has been a rather unusual occurrence.  Join me when you 
can."  A few seconds later, completely disregarding the teleport blockers the 
Overlord materialized.  Titanite wasn't surprised, at her brother's 
powerlevel barriers simply didn't exist.  He wore a green robe and held a 
glass of wine so her timing might not be the best.  "Did I interrupt you?"
     Calcite shook his head.  "My companions had dozed off and I was doing a 
little reading.  He looked around at the scattered Senshi and said, "You must
have quite a story ..."  Then his composure shook as he looked at Minako,
"Darkness unbound!  She doesn't just look like Sailor Aphrodite.  The aura 
matches!  It's her!"  He seemed to flicker then shook his head, "Her remains
are still at the North Pole.  How is this possible?"
     "Well for a start she called herself Sailor Venus not Sailor Aphrodite.
Here's what happened ..."
     A little while later Titanite (with the odd interjection from Magnesite)
finished her story.  "... so I called you and that brings us full circle."
     Magnesite chuckled, "Full Dark Circle would be more appropriate ..."  He
trailed off as Calcite looked at him.
     "Lord Magnesite, while I am sure my sister valued your assistance you
need not trouble yourself any further.  Especially with so many important 
matters to administer in your own domain."
     The dismissal was obvious.  "Uh ... yes, of course my lord.  So much to
do, so little time.   Hahaha ... Umm I'll call you later Titanite?"  She just
nodded briefly, no other acknowledgement.  Magnesite considered adding   
something but decided against it.  He departed to look for a functional 
teleport pad.  As soon as he was out of earshot Calcite shook his head and
     "I have to say sister that your taste in men is degenerating."
     She laughed.  "You needn't worry, I doubt there will be a repeat
performance.  He was chasing me at the party which gave me an idea.  I only
brought him here for one reason." 
     "Then why?"
     "I was hoping he'd propose we form an alliance to topple you and set 
ourselves up as the new rulers.  Which would have given me an excellent cause
to have him purged."
     Calcite looked at her hard.  "You picked him as a lover merely in the 
hope you could entrap him and have him executed."
     "What better reason?"  She frowned.  "Is something wrong."
     For a second he didn't answer then he sighed and shook his head.  "What
could be wrong?  That's a perfectly good youma reason."
     Titanite nodded.  Calcite sounded a little down.  Sometimes he got these 
funny moods but she'd never been sure why.  He turned back to look at the 
Senshi then spoke again.  "Tell me sister do you ever resent what we did to
     Titanite felt puzzled.  "Giving me Asia as my personal playground?  Why
would I resent that?"
     "That's not what I mean."  He paused then said, "As a child you were very
different.  It was necessary to make you fit in and with Pyrite and Azurite's
assistance I made you strong enough to thrive in the Kingdom.  Do you ever 
think about those old days?"
     Titanite snorted.  "Not that again!  Forget about it, you did what you 
had to.  Back then I was a snivelling little crybaby.  Completely useless to
you and nothing but a liability.  You toughened me up and beat that nonsense
out of me."
     Calcite winced slightly.  "We weren't that crude", he said softly.
     Titanite shrugged.  "Just a figure of speech.  The point is you made me
into a worthy member of the Dark Circle.  Sure I blubbered a lot while you 
were working on me but you made me hard and strong enough to deal with 
anything.  If you hadn't you couldn't trust me to run a territory for you.
I'd be useless and ineffectual.  Or worse yet, lenient!  And we wouldn't 
want to open up that particular can of worms would we?"
     Calcite shook his head.  "No, we wouldn't.  We did what we had to.  There
was no alternative."
     "None at all", Titanite agreed, then frowned.  Calcite seemed to be 
brooding again.  She sighed quietly.  Much as she loved her brother there were 
times she found him very perplexing.  Then he shook off the gloom and smiled, 
his aura seemed to darken a little.
     "Well sister this clearly needs further investigation so I'll be moving
these oddly named senshi to the Citadel for further investigation."
     "I expected that."  Titanite glanced around at her wrecked quarters then
asked, "Mind if I tag along?  I'm rather curious about this whole thing and
I'd like to see it through.  I'll have my deputies route anything urgent 
through to me."
     "Of course.  You were the target so it's only fitting you should witness
the investigation."  He glanced at Pyrite's picture.  "May I?"
     "Of course."
     Calcite touched Pyrite's picture lightly.  "Cousin, no urgency but when
you manage to tear yourself away from Azurite I'd like you to join me at the
Citadel.  My sister and I have a rather intriguing matter that we'd like you
to look at."  Calcite turned back to his sister and smiled.  "Want to bet he's
already there when we arrive?"
     "Hmmm Azurite or a mystery ... it's a toss up isn't it."
     Calcite laughed and Titanite felt relieved.  He was cheering up again
and that made her happy.  Her brother was a great guy but he did tend to brood 
far too much.  Which was why she always did her best to cheer him up.  He'd 
always done his best for her, this was the least she could do.

End of part 5

Minako's mangled recollection of, "You cannot judge a book by it's cover"
stolen form one of Scott Adams "Dilbert" comic strips.

Next :     Having retreated back to Ti's world Sailors Hermes and Zeus 
       contemplate their next move.  They have to free the other
       Senshi.  Or do they?
           After all they just took their last and best shot and failed.
       Besides this world now has a vacancy for an Ami and a Makoto. 
       All this and more in

Part 6 : "Lead us not into temptation ..."

On to part 6
Back to part 4

TEXT to HTML conversion by Douglas Helm.