Sailor Moon Expanded

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

Part 8 : Millennium's End

     Josie Chen kept staring at the unchanging image before her and fought the     
urge to yawn.  Vourinas was the overseer on this shift and he didn't like 
seeing inattention.  From the gossip the technicians had overheard the other
youma considered him an overzealous prick.  The youma didn't particularly care
if the humans either knew any youma'shak or overheard them.  To them it was 
like the humans were beneath their concern for who cares what a servant 
thinks?  A fact that had been useful for Josie when she'd been offered a few  
luxuries for making notes of anything subversive.  It made life more bearable
for her family in the Orlando enclave and there was a certain satisfaction in
the knowledge that her reports might bring the feared "Blues" down on some of
bastards that pushed her around.
     At least she could dream of that but the fact was that none of the youma
around here seemed particularly rebellious.  They had humans to serve them and
it was a foregone conclusion that you couldn't defeat the Dark Circle so why 
bother?  Oh there was friction in the youma ranks but outright assassination  
and plotting were undercut by the Circle's prohibitions.  Which translated
roughly as, "We have filled the positions of authority with the best 
choices possible.  If you chose to replace them that's fine as long as you 
are at least equally capable.  Inferiority will be punished by prolonged 
death."  This rather Darwinian managerial style seemed to work in curbing the  
youma's urges to seize higher rank.
     All of which meant, like all the humans recruited by Azurite's feared
intelligence division (the nickname of which derived from their leader
sometimes known as Blue Death), she was unlikely to ever hear anything more 
damning than small talk.  Making anything up was a suicidal idea.  Shortly 
after being recruited she'd met the soul reader.  She still had the odd 
nightmare about those black eyes burning into hers and the presence crawling 
through her mind.  It had been a very effective way of preventing falsehood.  
She'd been told that if she reported anything big they'd use a soulreader on 
her to test the information's veracity.  And if it found she'd lied her gods 
had better have mercy on her ... for the youma would have none.  After that 
she'd never been tempted to tell anything but the unvarnished truth.
     So she had a translator inserted secretly, listened to the youma talk 
around her as though she didn't exist and quietly placed weekly reports in the
hidden drop box.  In her flights of fancy she though of herself as a 
stereotypical dragonlady spy type.  But the fact was she was more like a court
clerk transcribing what she heard.  None of which was particularly 
interesting.  For an alien race the youma (despite their radically variable
physiology) weren't that far from humans mentally.  Rather like a human race
ruled by their darker emotions but still understandable.  Which was useful as
being able to comprehend how they thought helped keep you alive.  Yet she
couldn't help feeling a tremendous disappointment.  While she'd never really
expected first contact in her lifetime she'd read enough SF to have definite 
opinions on how extraterrestrials should act.  Alien invaders should be both
mysterious and terrible.  The youma were more like a pack of swaggering 
schoolyard bullies suddenly given liberty to do as they pleased.  Okay so she
wouldn't have been happy with "War of the Worlds" but still ... if humanity
was going to be conquered why couldn't it have been by creatures with style?
     Well some of them had style.  The higher ranks had an icy dignity but 
they didn't mingle with humanity as a rule.  Apart from their palace servants  
and those working on their special projects.  Like her.  Unbidden an image of
Canaveral's master came to mind.  Wrapped in black crystal armour yet moving 
as smoothly as if it was just cloth.  Golden eyes watching the youma guards 
with a weary resignation and sparkling with interest as he talked to the 
technicians.  Comprehending and solving problems in moments and enjoying the
opportunity.  A builder and a scholar rather than a ruler, eager for the
chance to forsake the latter.  A pleasant laugh and a human face.  If the
body beneath the armour could pass for human she could only speculate ...
     Josie choked off that line of thought and cursed herself.  What in God's
name was she thinking?  As if she really didn't know.  You could call it, 
"Identification with the oppressor", "Stockholm syndrome" and probably a dozen 
other names but the end result was you sympathized with the bastards who were
making your life hell.  Which meant she wasn't nuts for starting to fantasize
about their youma master.  Just human.  She sighed but stifled it as she saw
Vourinas's reflection look her way.  Silently she cursed either evolution or 
whatever deities there were.  Whichever was responsible for designing humanity 
seemed to have given them a need to serve something greater than themselves.  
How long before most humans decided obeying the youma was the natural order?  
Hell, within ten years they'd be policing themselves without supervision and 
killing anyone who denied the youma's superiority.  The future looked 
decidedly bleak.  Not that there was a damned thing she could do about it.
     Abrams returned from the meal run and Josie welcomed both the 
distraction from her dark thoughts and the food.  There were another four 
hours in her shift and she was starving.  No, she was hungry.  She knew what
starving felt like and this was just an irritation.  Abrams distributed the
bags quickly and silently to the others then plopped a bag between the monitor
stations and took his seat beside her.  The familiar Burger Kingdom logo
adorned the bag, a fanged pale woman with a mass of flowing red hair (said to 
be a cartoon of the Overlord's predecessor) and the motto, "Have it our way 
... or else!"  It wasn't exactly a joke.  On one of his visits Pyrite had 
commented the motto was a joke on the Overlord's part.  But the youma who 
oversaw the base franchise took it seriously.  Asking to hold the cailla could 
earn you a beating.  Or worse.
     Josie dug into her graxatburger and was halfway through when she noticed
Abrams looking at his dubiously.  She swallowed then whispered, "What's 
     "I finally found out what a graxat is."
     "Oh?"  Cows were in very short supply these days.  Matter of fact they
might be extinct.  The majority of surviving humans lived on a nutritious
but almost tasteless fungus the youma had introduced.  Being able to eat meat
of any sort was one of the privileges of being bright enough to work here.
Still the source of the meat was a matter of some speculation.
     "I saw them unloading crates in the kitchen, they'd left the door open.
It's a reptile of some sort.  Looks kinda like an alligator with mange."
     Josie studied her burger for a moment then took another bite and chewed
thoughtfully.  "Funny, it doesn't taste much different than the old 
hamburgers."  Abrams laughed but she decided not to tell him she'd been 
serious.  Besides she had other concerns, a light had just appeared on her
monitor.  She dropped what was left and started punching keys as she tried
to enhance it.
     "What's wrong?"  She hesitated before answering.  If this was a false 
alarm then she'd suffer for it.  But if it was the real thing and she didn't
report it ...  No choice.  She flicked a switch and sent a message to the
control station.
      Vourinas sat before his monitor killing time.  From this balcony which 
overlooked the human workstations he could keep an eye on them but that got
very dull, very quickly.  Hardly surprising, the more rebellious humans had  
been weeded out early on.  Those that remained were eager to bend a knee to 
the youma.  The best he could find were minor infractions to punish and, as 
his reputation became known, those became few and far between.  Which was as  
it should be but it made for a tedious duty.  Oh Lord Pyrite said Spacewatch
was a vital duty but nothing ever happened so he spent most of his time 
playing games.
     Having dodged Sailor Ares' fireball he was about to chainsaw her in half
when a message overwrote the screen.  He scowled as the distraction let her 
get another shot at him and paused Senshi Doom.  Stalking to the rail he 
leaned over and growled, "This had better be urgent Chin!"
     Being too smart to correct the mispronunciation Josie stood and bowed
before saying, "My apologies master but we have Lunar contact!"  The youma 
stared at her for a moment the vaulted the rail and dropped the seven metres
to the floor.  He strode over to the station and studied the screen.  Without
looking at her he asked, "Are you certain?"
     Are you kidding?  The technology's an unholy hybrid of human and youma,
all satellite signals have to received by naval platforms and filtered through
relays because nothing on land can receive transmissions through the Darkness 
and we thought teleportation was impossible a year ago!  Not being suicidal 
all she said out loud was, "That is what the instruments indicate and we've 
been rigorous in debugging."  Which still wasn't an answer to his question 
but it was the best she could do.
     Vourinas studied the screen for a moment longer then smiled.  Action at
last!  Pausing only to remind her she'd suffer for any error (regardless of if
it was her fault) he strode over to the priority comlink and demanded, 
"Connect me to Lord Pyrite!"
     It took longer than he'd anticipated.  Lord Pyrite wasn't in the 
Stronghold so the call had to be rerouted to the Citadel.  Vourinas sneered
at the face that appeared on the screen. He had no use for the freaks and
resented their elite standing among his lord's servants.  To be outranked by
a cripple was a humiliation.  Someday Lord Pyrite would tire of these 
inferiors and when he did ...
     "I assume you called for a reason?"  The cyberyouma's voice was dry, her 
face impassive.  Vourinas realized he'd been standing thinking brooding on the
unfairness of the hierarchy.  Better get himself on track.
     "I was unaware you were serving as our lord's secretary, Arimanus.  I 
have important news so go fetch him!"
     The red glow in her artificial eye seemed to deepen.  "I answer Lord
Pyrite's messages because he trusts me to filter out the drivel and there has 
been no shortage of that.  So explain it to me and if it warrants his 
attention I'll pass it along."
      He bared his fangs, "It is vital, that is all you have to know."
      She looked amused, "He's in conference with the Overlord at present.
Are you sure you want me to tell him you're interrupting them?"
      The watch chief sweated slightly and considered threatening the human
again.  But that wouldn't change her readings so ...  "Inform his lordship
that we have registered a teleport signature on the Moon!"
     The cyb nodded, "Understood.  Pray you're right!" and broke contact.  He
glowered at the blank screen then strode back to the human.  She was back at
work doing something, perhaps merely looking busy.  He was still halfway 
there when Lord Pyrite appeared on the reserved teleport stage.
     Arimanus was with him, still closing the last seals on his armour.  
Pyrite waited impatiently then crossed the room the moment she'd finished.
He studied the screen and nodded, "Confirmation.  So he was right about their
bolthole.  If there was nowhere on Earth they could hide from him then they
had to be somewhere offworld.  As we knew the whole system was once habitable
space seemed the only alternative.  Though it now seems ..."  He cut himself 
and nodded at Josie.  "Excellent.  Update the targeting data."
     "Already done your lordship."  The screen changed and columns of 
trajectories and impact points scrolled by.  Pyrite smiled, he appreciated
initiative among his servants.  She sounded apologetic as she told him, "It's 
still pretty vague as the target zone is ..."
     "Somewhere in a radius of about 30 km.  Unfortunately our scanning 
capabilities lack precision over distances like this.  I've definitely got to      
upgrade the systems.  There's no saying what's lurking out there."  He noted
the surprised look on Josie's face and chuckled.  "I'll bet you're of the 
school of thought that rejects the Dark Kingdom's existence and maintains
we're aliens."  She started sweating.
     "My lord ... uh Master I ... I ..."
     He waved a hand cutting off the panicked stutter.  "Never mind, it's not
important.  I'm aware of the alternative opinions about our origins and I
don't give a damn.  I don't care if you think we're invaders from Tau Ceti or
demons from Hell.  Where you think we came from isn't important as long as we 
get respect and obedience.  Wouldn't you agree, Arimanus?" 
     "Their obedience is the most important factor, Lord.  But I question if 
they can fear and respect us properly if they don't know our true origins."
     Pyrite looked thoughtful for a moment.  "Perhaps you're right.  We'll 
discuss it at greater length later.  But for now there are more important
matters afoot."  He turned back to Josie.  "However I will say this.  While
we are extraterrestrials our ancestors originated on this world.  In a few
cases, including my own, one of our immediate ancestors was a former human.  
If we did come from outer space don't you think it's odd that we've suddenly 
lost our space travelling capability and had to integrate human technology for
this project?"  He didn't wait for an answer but straightened up and began
giving orders.  The control room became a frantic hive of activity.
     "... Number Fifteen targeting confirmed.  All gauges normal and awaiting
arming code."
     "Excellent.  Just one last step."
     "A rather crucial one, Lord."  Pyrite chuckled.
     "Fortunately unlike our first monarch's deputies I don't make 
incredibly obvious oversights."  He activated his armour's hotline.  
"Cousin, are you ready?"
     "I've been waiting for you.  Not wise to keep Overlords waiting, you 
know?"  The tone was light and bantering.
     "Who put the barrier there in the first place?  Anyway if you would 
kindly ..."
     "I'm already doing it.  Check your monitors."  Pyrite glanced at the
screens showing the feed from above the launch silos and nodded.  He noticed
several humans staring at the screen almost hungrily.  Doubtless all the 
humans in the nearby enclaves were gazing at the sky as the word spread.
Enraptured by the sight of the stars over Florida for the first time in a 
year.  Enjoy it while you can, it won't last long.  "Launch!"
     Vapour poured out of the silos thicker and thicker then the rockets tore
skyward.  Pyrite nodded in satisfaction.  The humans' brute force chemical
rockets would provide escape velocity, after that ...  But there was one more
vital step to fulfill.  According to the altimeters the last of the missiles 
was now out of range in the event of premature detonation.  Therefore ...
     Pyrite hit the transmit key on the console before him and sent the 
message.  One after another the lights turned green as the arming code was
accepted.  Excellent.  Once more he congratulated himself on his foresight in 
having Calcite obtain some of the humans' toys for the Circle instead of
neutralizing them all.
     "Penetration of the exosphere.  Rockets will complete firing in thirty
     "Shut down of rockets confirmed.  Pulse drive coming on line."
     "Initiate pulse drive."  Pulse drive.  Such an innocuous name.  Do you
know that it's powered by the lifeforce drained from Calcutta?  It's amazing 
what you can do learn to do with it when you have no shortage for 
experimentation.  Josie wondered why he was smiling.
     "Initiating.  We have acceleration confirmed."
     "Estimated time to arrival?"
     "Seven hours, forty seven minutes, and twenty seconds."  A large digital
clock over main monitor lit up and began counting down.  Pyrite smiled.
     "Excellent.  Keep me informed if anything changes.  Otherwise don't
bother me as I've got other matters to occupy me for the present.  Arimanus
we are departing for the Citadel."
     "Yes Lord."
     "Vourinas, I am returning Spacewatch to you.  Keep on top of things."
     "Yes your Lordship."  Pyrite turned to step to the teleport stage but
stopped long enough to glance at Josie and say, "Keep up the good work, 
Chen."  Vourinas silently cancelled plans for retribution against the human
who'd questioned his race's nature.  He'd have to take it out on somebody 
     When she was sure Vourinas had gone Josie whispered to Abrams and 
whispered, "He's not such a bad guy."
     "Yeah, for a leader of the bastards who wiped out most of humanity he's
a really sweetheart.  For God's sake don't start thinking that way!"  There
was a pointed silence.  
     At length Josie said, "Well, you have to admit an eight hour flight to
the moon's a helluva leap."
     "Yeah and what are they planning to do once they reach it?  Nuke it to
take out some enemy moonbase that may not even exist!  For all we know this
whole things the result of some sort of glitch in their scanners.  But if
somebody does has a base up there then this could be the start of some sort 
of interplanetary war between the youma and who knows what.  And as we 
launched the attack we've got ringside seats for anyone who retaliates!"
That pretty well killed all conversation for the next hour.  Overhead the
darkness flowed back, eclipsing the stars.
    Arimanus bowed as the throne room doors opened but made no move to follow
Lord Pyrite inside.  Whatever was going on was a matter for the Dark Circle
alone.  As she straightened up before the doors finished closing she again
glimpsed the five pillars that had risen from the floor at the Overlord's
whim.  It was not her place to question but she couldn't help speculating
upon the figures spreadeagled against the pillars, their hands and feet
merging with the black marble to hold them in place.  All were either asleep
or unconscious and none had stirred since she last saw inside.  She knew
who four of the five looked like except that two were dead (in fact she'd 
seen their remains very recently) while the others lacked the injuries they'd 
gained during Ascension.  The blonde girl with the ungainly hairstyle was 
unknown to her but, given the company she kept, Arimanus could guess who she 
was supposed to be.  But why?  Well, best not to ask.  If Lord Pyrite thought 
she could know he'd tell her.  Which was odd for a youma lord but she had no
     The doors sealed and she marched to the teleport stage.  Her
orders were to return to the Stronghold and keep things running smoothly in
his Lordship's absence.  Whatever was going on it had reached a critical
stage and he didn't want any more interruptions so maintaining his domain
was once again her responsibility for the present.  As always the thought
made her smile.  She'd been nothing, a cripple cast aside to await death 
before he'd chosen her for the prosthetic experiments.  Now she stood at the
right hand of a Dominion ruler capable of repaying those who had spat on her 
and called her useless.  In defeat malice, in victory revenge!  An old saying 
she'd enjoyed fulfilling.  Now if only something would happen to Lady Azurite
...  She cut the thought off immediately, some things were best not even 
fantasized about.  Hard as it was she'd have to be content with what she had.
But should he ever tire of her Ladyship Arimanus would be waiting.
     Inside the throne room (aware of but uninterested in his subordinate's 
desires) Pyrite gave a quick respectful bow to his cousins.  Calcite could
tell he was ready to unveil a revelation and waited with interest.  
     "Welcome back cousin.  I take it you have an answer to our enigma?".  By 
contrast Titanite could barely contain her impatience.
     "So let's hear it!  I wanna know what went wrong with Shadow and how they 
beat my security sensors!"
     "The short answer cousin is they didn't.  Shadow still obeys your every
command and your palace is as secure as ever."
     "SAY WHAT!  Maybe you didn't notice but they waltzed in like they owned
the place!  How you can you say everything's fine?"
     Calcite smiled indulgently at his sister then commented, "I must admit 
to a certain confusion of my own.  So let's hear the long answer."
     "As you command oh Supremacy ..."
     "Enough with the buildup, let's hear the story."
     "Okay, just bear with me for a couple of minutes."  Calcite nodded.  A
few moments later the sulky Titanite muttered, "Fine, let's hear it."
     The pillars were arranged in a V with the human girl at the point.  To
her right were the Ares and Zeus lookalikes while Aphrodite and Hermes 
occupied the left.  Pyrite strode over to the first figure on the right and
ran a hand over the senshi's outflung arm.  Rei twitched her head slightly
but gave no other sign of awareness.
     "As you both know the abrupt appearance of these replicas with senshi 
capabilities was a real puzzle.  Particular in the case of these three as we
had no shortage of evidence that they were dead.  I came up with a number of 
theories to account for the doubles but I've narrowed it down to one."
     "To backtrack a little the first thing I checked was the glaciers.  They
were undisturbed so we weren't looking at a return from the dead.  However I
did take tissue samples from the glaciers ..."  
     Titanite interrupted, "You should have taken some before we froze them!"
     "I did but I had to allow for the possibility that they'd been tampered
with if our security was vulnerable.  At any rate I took samples from our
trophies then compared them to the three matching live ones."  Pyrite 
gestured at the wall activating a projector built into the armour's arm.  Two 
computer enhanced pictures materialized, false colour had been added to
highlight the picture.  Even to a layman the similarities were obvious.
Pyrite lowered his arm, the image remained fixed in place being of magical 
origin despite the analysis's technical nature.  "I ran them through the 
genome project's human members and confirmed the match ..."
     Calcite frowned slightly.  "Was it wise to involved them?"
     "They've got the best resources for checking DNA and could use a little
real work to keep them on their toes.  Besides they're years from completion 
so the computer time I took won't cause any delays.  And if you mean could 
they have falsified the results I had a soul reader check the tests.  All of
which confirmed that any rebellion is very unlikely to be lead by our pet
     "Years from completion?  Any way to speed that up?"  Pyrite laughed.
     "Cousin, they hadn't even completed work on the human genome before the
conquest.  Matter of fact we've already had two nervous breakdowns among them
after they started work on classifying Youma genes.  Problem is they've never
had to worry about alchemical makeup and mana's influence on the next 
generation in their earlier work.  Factor in integrating Youma own genetic 
science, which I largely built from scratch and isn't good for much beyond 
detecting the Renegade signature, and we're looking at a hodgepodge that's 
unlikely to produce results anytime soon."  Calcite sighed and Pyrite added,
"I told you from the start it would be a very long-term project."
     "So you did.  Besides we haven't even completed phase two yet.  All 
things in their time."  With that the Overlord abandoned the matter and 
brightened up as he gestured from the picture that shimmered on the wall to
the captive senshi.  "But all of this has nothing to do with the current 
problem.  Sorry for sidetracking you.  Please go on."
     "My pleasure, I've been looking forward to this.  As you can see this one
not only looks like Sailor Ares, genetically she's a match.  Same as those two
match Moon and Aphrodite.  They aren't completely identical.  This Ares is 
older than the frozen one.  More puzzlingly she seems older that she would be 
even if she'd survived the battle at the North Pole.  The same is true for 
the other two."
     Titanite had been waiting impatiently for the conclusion but now seemed 
to take an interest.  "Oh?  I thought they looked a bit different from the
pictures.  So what's the answer, cloning?"  As the adults looked at her she
shrugged and said, "I picked up the term from some human media.  That's where  
they grow people in these big vats ... except I was told they can't do that
     Pyrite nodded, "Cloning remains in the realm of science fiction for
human technology.  Not to mention our little incursion has put a definite
dent in the realm of pure research.  It's also beyond our own capabilities. 
However there remained the possibility that during Silver Millennium the 
technique was known and Hermes had revived it."
     "Makes sense.  So she found it and recreated the senshi.  They were 
acting just like the senshi used to."  Yet even as she said it Titanite 
frowned.  Something just didn't add up.
     "As you've just deduced their behaviour doesn't fit with Hermes's 
objectives.  These were acting like the pre-conquest senshi and Hermes is far
too smart to lead them into battle.  Even if she somehow recreated the Senshi 
in both mind and body she wouldn't have been foolish enough to take them into
combat without extensive retraining!  There's also the question of why stop
with five?  Why not create an army of senshi clones"
     "Maybe they've got minds because they gained the souls of the original 
senshi ...  No, that doesn't work.  We've got the souls on hold ...", she
paused to look at her brother who nodded to confirm stasis was intact, 
"Besides which that wouldn't explain another Hermes and Zeus.  There's also
this Sailor Polaris bitch to consider.  Name of the Abyss who's she supposed
to be?  The others may be copies but she's a complete unknown!"  She missed
the look Pyrite and Calcite shared.  Pyrite cleared his throat.
     "Sailor Polaris is the key to this whole mystery.  Once I abandoned
cloning as the source of our problems I considered another hypothesis.  It 
took some time to confirm my suspicions as I wanted to be sure.  With your 
permission ...?"  Calcite nodded and Pyrite opened the hip-pod on his armour.
He removed two multifaceted crystals which he tossed to land equidistant
between the unscarred Hermes and Zeus.  Life-sized three-dimensional (though
somewhat translucent) images appeared, Titanite on the left, Polaris on the
right.  From the attire the Titanite hologram must have been taken at the
party or reconstructed from pictures taken there.  Titanite's gaze bounced 
between one and the other.  Something was wrong here, she felt uneasy and 
couldn't say why.  She heard Pyrite give a command and the images began to
     The jewellery faded from the hologram Titanite as the dress began to 
morph.  The skirt became looser and grew a little longer.  The dress grew
upwards to cover her shoulders.  Her high heels faded to be replaced by flat 
heeled boots.  Skintight gloves flowed over her arms while a cute bow 
centring on a green locket appeared on her chest.  All the new clothing had 
been coloured as black as her original outfit but this began to change.  The 
ruffled skirt shifted to a bright yellow  while the gloves and leotard 
jumped to the other end of the spectrum becoming a brilliant white.  The 
ribbon and boots became a deep emerald green to match her hair.  On the 
other figure the change was far less dramatic.  Her mask faded away.  Titanite 
looked from one to the other and her jaw dropped. It was like looking at 
mirror images.  "They ... they're identical!"
     "Actually, no.  If you look closer you'll note Polaris is 3.2 cm taller."
Pyrite cut himself off before commenting that the other was somewhat better 
developed but still had a long way to go.  Cousin or not there were some 
things you don't say to a princess.  "However side by side the resemblance is 
unmistakeable."  Titanite's face purpled as she blushed.  How could she have
missed it with just one crummy mask for a disguise?  It suddenly struck her
that the other had even sounded like her!  Abyss!  They must have seen it from
the very beginning!  She felt like a fool.  Calcite would very rightly think
her an idiot.
     She felt a hand on shoulder and, face burning, looking up at her brother.
"It's okay.  No one expects to see meet themselves let alone have a double
attempt to assassinate them."  There was no hint of mockery in his voice and
Titanite felt a little cooler.  Calcite never made fun of her, she could 
always depend on him to say the right thing.
      Dragging her mind away from her shame she managed to ask, "Then she was 
there to eliminate and replace me?  That ... makes sense.  When the guards 
broke in they'd find the senshi supposedly defeated by me and depart.  Any
extra dust would be assumed to be Magnesite's who, sadly, got killed in the 
battle.  Then the other me takes the 'helpless' senshi to some other member of 
the Circle for gloating over, they 'break free' and try to create a few more 
vacancies."  The last of the blush vanished as she started thinking 
tactically.  She turned to Pyrite, gesturing at Polaris.  "She doesn't just 
look like me does she?"
     "You're correct.  Genetically and aurawise she's a match.  That's how 
she was able to break security and why Shadow failed to attack her.  She
didn't override the system, it simply followed it's programming to obey you.
Same as Shadow, his personality is hardwired so he can't hurt Titanite.  We 
just never considered the possibility of their being more than one of you."
     Calcite nodded, "There was no reason we should have.  Besides how do you
differentiate between two identical people?"  Pyrite was about to mention a
few ideas but his cousin didn't give him a chance.  "However that leaves the
question of where this replica came from."  He had the glimmerings of an idea
but it seemed too farfetched.  At least until Pyrite asked, "Are you familiar
with the concept of alternate worlds?"
     "Vaguely.  Go on."
     "The idea is that every course of action has a number of possible 
outcomes.  While only one can happen they all happen somewhere.  So outcome A
happens here, outcome B happens in another world, outcome C happens somewhere
else and so on.  With each decision new possibilities arise and again they
all have to happen somewhere.  So we have all these worlds continually 
branching into new worlds with every decision.  Millions of them being born
with every moment ... at least that's the theory.  I'd never seen any evidence 
to support it and we still don't know that there's an infinite number of 
alternate worlds out there.  But we do know there's at least one."
     "And that's the origin of these characters?"  The Overlord sounded 
slightly disbelieving, "They crossed here from some other world?"
     "More than that.  They crossed over from a world where the Dark Kingdom
lost."  There was a brief silence as they stared at their cousin.  Then 
Calcite said simply, "Justify that."
     "Very well.  You noted their behaviour didn't match Hermes or Zeus as
they currently are.  Instead they acted like our senshi did in our old days.
The same way they'd act if they'd won the final battle and didn't have to
adapt to a world dominated by the youma.  It would also be why they'd come 
here so carelessly.  If they've beaten us once how hard can it be the second
time around?"
     "That ... makes sense.  So somehow Hermes makes contact with this other
world and convinces them to aid her?  And they cross over sure that they'll 
take care of things without a problem doing it their way.  That fits with what
we know about the attack."
     Titanite looked dubious.  "Okay, so that explains the other senshi but
what about her.  Why would any version of me call herself Sailor Polaris?"
     There was silence as the two adults shared a look.  Then Calcite asked, 
"Tell me sister, if all the youma but you were destroyed and the senshi found
you ... what would you do?"
     Titanite frowned as she considered the question, "Well ... they might be 
less than eager to destroy me because of my appearance.  I'm their age and I
look human.  So I'd take advantage of that and throw myself at their feet and
beg for mercy saying I hadn't wanted to be a part of the Dark Kingdom but I
couldn't help where I was born.   I'd plead for a second chance saying I'd
been too young to be part of anything.  Hopefully they'd give me a chance and 
I'd work on earning their trust.  I'd be careful not to overdo it ... making
mistakes and learning from them.  In time they'd come to think of me as one of
them and I'd do everything I could to help them.  I'd move slowly, learning
all I could until the right day came.  On that day I'd kill them all ...
ideally having a chance to gloat over their stupidity but that would be 
unlikely to happen ... getting the job done's more important than gloating,
you taught me that brother.  Then I'd take the ginzuishou from Sailor Moon's 
body and use it and my powers to carve out my own little empire."
     Calcite smiled, "Very good sister."
     "I had the best teacher.  So you think that's why ...?"
     "It's the most likely explanation"  Unless the other Titanite ... no,
she'd needed strengthening.  Surely his counterpart had done the same.  Had
there been an alternative ...  Enough!  You could waste your life on "what 
if ... ?" and "if only ..."  What mattered was the way things were, not the 
way they should be.  Suddenly something occurred to him.  Something wonderful.
He stepped to the pillar that held Sailor Aphrodite ... No, she'd called
herself Sailor Venus, hadn't she?  For a moment he studied the slumped blonde
held in place by her bonds then reached out to brush a hand over her cheek. 
She didn't stir and he turned to address his cousin.
     "So effectively this senshi, Venus, is identical to Aphrodite in both
mind and body?"
     "More or less.  She's about a year older than Aphrodite though their
memories up to Ascension should be effectively identical.  I expect there's 
some variation but personality-wise they should be the same."
     "But for all practical purposes it's as if Sailor Aphrodite is back?" 
     Pyrite nodded, "Yes."  Fortunately what his cousin wanted to hear was 
also the truth.  The Overlord chuckled.
     "Second chances are so very rare they must be seized when they present
themselves.  And with Poseidon's passing I have vacancy to fill."  Pyrite hid
his distaste, he killed when necessary but had no interest in torment.  Not
that he didn't understand Calcite's need to keep Metallia satiated (yet wasn't
he becoming too eager?  He quelled the thought) but he had no desire to 
emulate him.  Still needs must when the demon drives and all power has its 
price.  Besides Calcite had gained them all security and authority.  Surely 
he deserved to enjoy  himself?  Thinking in those terms made it a lot easier.   
     "So you'll be installing her in the ... uh, playroom.  What about the
     "I haven't decided yet."  He turned his gaze to Jupiter and Mercury.  
"It occurs to me these two could be an unexpected dividend.  If the plan works
optimally we won't have any remains to display.  Showing the corpses of Zeus
and Hermes would be a great blow to the remaining spirit of resistance left 
in humanity.  Or better still showing the execution of their champions ..."
He looked thoughtful and Titanite frowned.
     "I've gotta say, big brother, that there's a couple of problems with 
trying to pass them off as 'our' senshi..."  He nodded.
     "They'll need some cosmetic adjustments."
     "Can I handle that?"
     "Perhaps."  He smiled, "However that's not what you really wanted to ask
me, is it?"  His sister sighed.
     "I'm really transparent to you, aren't I?  Okay here's the thing ...  
You need those two to provide bodies but these other three could raise a few
tricky questions so I'm guessing no one else gets to see them, right?"  
     "Correct.  I'll have to adjust a few memories among those who witnessed
their attack but that should be simple enough."
     "Quicker just to clean house.  I know, I know!  'Waste not, want not'
and 'don't junk useful tools just because it looks cost effective'.  Anyway
that means these three stay under wraps.  Now you're keeping Aphrodite and 
who else deserves the Moon Princess but this new Ares doesn't mean a thing to
you."  With that she crossed over and put a possessive hand on Rei's shoulder.
"So what I was wondering was ... could I have her?  I'd love to have my own
senshi to torture.  Please?  Pretty please."  
     Calcite looked undecided but Pyrite already knew he'd say yes.  She could
wheedle just about anything out of her brother.  He found it hard to refuse 
her anything.  But he would play the occasional game.
     "Well I don't know ..."
     "Oh come on.  I swear I'll be careful.  I'll put her in a nice secluded
chamber off-limits to everyone except me and Shadow.  I promise no-one'll find
out about her.  Please?"  She looked surprisingly cute when she was saying
this.  It almost made you forget what she was asking for.  Almost.
     "I suppose.  But not until we're through with them."
     "Thank you brother."  She looked gleeful, "This is going to be fun.  For
me anyway."  Pyrite wondered if she'd get carried away and break her new toy
quickly.  Best not to think about it.  Stick to your research, it's abstract.  
But first ...
     "So are you planning to wake them up?"  Calcite shook his head and
Titanite looked surprised.
     "Why not?"
     "Patience, sister.  All things in their time.  Besides it'll make a good
celebration for our Luna project.  So we'll wait until they recover."  He
smiled.  "However I will remove Aph ... Venus to her new quarters.  It'll 
give her time to get to know her roommate."  Pyrite decided to speak before
he departed and turned to Titanite.
     "If you don't mind cousin I was wondering if I could borrow the 
ginzuishou?"  Automatically her hand rose protectively towards it then 
     "Why?"  She sounded suspicious.  Pyrite held up the locket they'd removed
from the former Sailor Moon and opened the lid.
     "I'd like to compare it to the one they brought with them.  Why it 
stopped working all of a sudden is a mystery.  There could be some sort of
glitch.  It'll also let us know if yours is likely to malfunction and may
give me some clues why it's so much less effective for you than it's alleged
to have been."
     Titanite looked hesitant.  The thought of losing control of the crystal,
however briefly, was worrying.  On the other hand her brother looked in favour
of it and Pyrite was family.  These were the only people in creation she could
trust and being able to rely on one another was the foundation of the real 
Dark Circle.  She still remembered her brother's words.  "We are different 
and they would destroy us for that.  We must never forget we are alone.  We
can depend on no-one but each other but that is our strength for they can 
trust no one at their back.  As long as we are united we can overcome any 
obstacle.  Never forget this."  That was why she reached behind her neck and 
unsnapped her choker.  She handed it to Pyrite who immediately took both 
silver crystals over to the workbench he set up and became oblivious to 
everything else.  Her brother smiled and shook his head then stepped over to 
the unconscious Venus.  Both disappeared and Titanite sighed and looked for
diversion.  She glanced towards Mars but made no move towards her.  Her 
brother was right, anticipation would make the payoff more enjoyable.  She
should make some plans, that would occupy her mind.  With that thought she 
grabbed a blank notepad from Pyrite's pile and began to sketch.  Soon she    
was engrossed in her plans and dreaming of things that would have been
nightmares to her counterpart.  And, not that long ago, to her as well.
     Sitting among the ruins that had once comprised the grand capital city of 
Queen Serenity's Lunar Kingdom Margrave wished she'd brought a book or a 
walkman.  She glanced up at the darkened world and shook her head.  They had 
journeyed to this universe, on this fools errand to save the senshi, intending
to face a demonic version of Calcite who ruled both Earth and the youma.  
Boredom was the last thing she'd expected.  But that was her current 
problem.  She idly flicked a pebble, noting the lunar gravity's influence
and sighed.  She'd been flicking them through the atmosphere wall, watching 
the impacts in the vacuum beyond before Hermes ordered her to stop.  She
doubted the shield was that fragile but wasn't about to argue with a senshi
of dubious sanity if she could avoid it.  On the brighter side her headache   
was gone and she felt in a much better temper.
     Margrave glanced around at the limited area she could explore then 
returned her attention to the others.  Pyrite was the only one truly busy,
engrossed in the texts they'd retrieved in the Dark Kingdom he seemed 
oblivious to everything and everyone else.  Occasionally he'd return to 
reality and bounce an idea off Azurite.  She rarely knew what he was talking
about but did her best to answer.  Besides it was mainly to help him assess
his own ideas by hearing them out loud.  Hermes sat with the pair looking 
grimmer than usual as she obviously couldn't follow the intricacies of youma
tech but was hardly about to admit it.  Zeus seemed to be inventorying their 
merger stores yet again while Calcite was taking the opportunity to improve
Ti's shaping abilities.  With limited success.
     Ti kept her eyes closed and concentrated, "Okay, I have the pattern in
my mind ... the power comes at my call, my will binds and shapes it ... I 
feel the hilt forming in my grasp ... the blade next ... it grows from the
hilt sharp as my thoughts ... I fix its form and I am done.  I have forged a
     "That is a polo mallet."  Calcite sounded tired.  Ti opened her eyes and
looked at what she was holding.
     "How did that happen?  I was sure ..."  She noticed her brother's
expression, "Uhm ... well I'm getting closer ... this definitely looks more
like a sword than a mega mallet ..."  Calcite sighed and seemed to pluck a 
sword out of thin air.  He carefully held it to his sister hilt first.  
     "Okay, study the pattern again and let's give it another go."
     "Uhhh ... say Cal have you ever considered the combat versatility of the
mallet ...?"  She trailed off, ditched her creation and took the sword 
cautiously.  "I'm getting better, right?"
     "You've definitely got the mantra down pat.  Now let's see if you can
create anything other than mallets."  Ti nodded and got back to work.  
Margrave doubted Cal expected her to learn anything combat useful in such a
short time.  He was just keeping her too busy to worry about their current 
situation.  Too bad she had nothing to distract her.
     She glanced around their little world and muttered about the lack of
privacy.  If there'd been anywhere secluded she might have borrowed Cal for
a while but the crowded closed quarters would inhibit him.  Still there was
one thing that might kill some time.  With that thought she ambled over to 
the glowing circle in the center of the invisible dome.  The place "Queen
Serenity" had appeared after they arrived.
     She'd been a little disorientated on arrival by both the weaker gravity 
and the abrupt change in background.  She'd been snapped back to reality by
Hermes confirming Pyrite's suspicion they were on the moon but had listened 
to them without interrupting.
     Pyrite had nodded and expressed admiration at the ingenuity of the 
senshi's base.  Then he'd got analytical.  "There are two things that I have 
to ask.  According to the Dark Kingdom's historical records the moon was a 
habitable environment.  All the contemporary records of the human lunar 
expeditions contradicts this yet we're obviously within a breathable 
environment.  Why wasn't this detected by the Apollo missions?  Secondly, how
did you manage to establish a teleport point up here."
     Hermes hadn't looked willing to divulge anything.  But a glance at Zeus
had reminded her that these youma were the closest thing to allies she had so 
she'd better answer.
     "The answer to both questions is the same ..."  With that she'd strode to
a small cleared patch a few metres away and waved her hand above it.  A small
glowing circle of light had appeared on the cracked marble and a miniature
figure had appeared, "Queen Serenity."
     The youma had all stared at the dollsized woman in amazement.  This was
the ancient enemy Beryl had cursed at every, "Feast of Metallia" for over
2000 years?  She didn't quite fit their preconceived picture of a warrior
queen.  Of course it took some doing to see Sailor Moon as the almost 
messianic Moon Princess until they'd witnessing her in action so perhaps it 
ran in the family.
     Things were getting a little too solemn so Margrave commented, "That's
Queen Serenity?  I was expecting someone taller."
     Hermes had glowered but answered, "This image is somewhere between a
prerecorded message and the magical equivalent of an AI.  Shortly before her
death ..."  Hermes paused then resumed, "... or perhaps a little afterwards
Queen Serenity imprinted some of her mind into this place.  She also placed a
preset spell into the mana fountain below.  It's flow had been disrupted by 
the banishment but she knew it would resume someday.  The lunar atmosphere was 
lost when the disruption wave shattered the powers binding it and the air 
boiled away into space.  For thousands of years this place was in vaccuum. 
Then the mana flow resumed and the spell activated generating this habitable
place.  It's fairly limited, if you walk more than 30 meters in any direction 
you'll be trying to breath in vaccuum so don't wander unnecessarily."  
Everyone glanced around noting the ruins dabbed with red paint and the pylons
which marked the limit of the world.  Hermes resumed.
     "Where exactly the oxygen came from I don't know.  Possibly it was 
transmuted from other matter as we haven't spotted any vaccuum desiccated 
corpses.  At any rate once the atmosphere was in place it was a matter of   
waiting for the senshi to be reborn."  She nodded towards the minature 
Serenity, which smiled benignly and inclined her head but did nothing further, 
and continued.  "Serenity's ... the imprint's purpose was to give us the 
details we lacked from our former lives.  As far as I've been able to 
determine the first time we used the Sailor Teleport the spell was supposed 
to divert us here.  But Kunzite pre-empted things by using that space-time 
disruption technique on us and that sufficed to bring us here.  Unfortunately 
our rebirth seems to have taken much longer than Serenity anticipated.  
'Serenity's' memory decayed over the ages.  Much of what she was to tell us 
was lost.  Usagi was the only one to get a clear picture of the past and most 
of what she saw was scattered images of the fall.  I suspect she was supposed 
to unlock the memories of our past lives so we could regain full knowledge of 
our powers but she lost that capability too."
     "At any rate my computer logged the location automatically though I 
didn't realize it at the time.  But that meant when I ... hacked the youma
teleport network I had valid coordinates for here.  Initially I thought we'd
found a perfect bolthole for basing a resistance movement."  Hermes cold
expression seemed to waver as the memory of her disappointment resurfaced.
"Then we learn just how limited this space was.  Add to that the lack of any
supplies other than air and we had a logistics problem."  Calcite, Azurite
and Margrave had already noted the stacked piles of foods (nonperishable and
requiring no or minimal cooking), watercans and a chemical toilet.  Pyrite was
more interested in the magic involved while Ti was fascinated by the Serenity
image.  "However it remains the one place the youma can't find us."
     "Until they manage to trace your teleport."  Hermes glared at Pyrite.
     "We're extremely careful about that.  Add to that until today no one else
knew this place existed and the youma have no reason to suspect we're here!"
     Pyrite nodded then asked a question that got everyone worried.  "How many
people can the atmosphere renewing spell support?"
     After a moment Hermes answered, "It was designed to support the senshi 
after arrival via teleport ... a minimum of five as that's what the teleport 
requires under normal circumstances.  Still the spell is old and could be
decaying like Serenity... I periodically scan the oxygen content as a standard
precaution.  I'll let you know if it seems to be dropping."  No one had felt
very reassured but Pyrite had just nodded, spread out his counterpart's books
and crystals and got busy.  Everyone else had looked for some other way to 
occupy themselves while they hoped he'd find a line of attack.
     Lacking diversion Margrave had decided to have another look at Serenity.
The silver haired figure in the white gown appeared as she waved her hand
through the space Hermes had but gave no sign of acknowledgement.  Every
attempt to get a response failed and Margrave felt her temper rise.  This 
thing was just some sort of magical computer program.  How dare it ignore her!
     Wait!  She reconsidered her analogy and nodded.  Maybe it was literally
a program equivalent ... but to run it you needed access and she didn't have
the right password.  Namely being a senshi.  Almost on cue Sailor Zeus 
     "What do you think you're doing?"
     Margrave considered lying but shrugged and said, "Looking for diversion,
this place is incredibly boring.  Any archaeologist would kill to be here but 
I've got a very low tolerance for staring at ruins.  To them it'd be a  
historical treasure trove.  To me it's just a pile of shattered rock.  So I 
thought I'd have a word with the Adversary here.
     "That what we called Serenity back in the Dark Kingdom.  'The accursed
queen who cheated us of our rightful conquest by exiling us to another 
dimension.  But with Great Metallia's power we will overcome her seals and
return to reclaim our prize ... yadda, yadda, yadda.'  Beryl probably made the 
same speech every feast day for over 2000 years.
     "That's a ... different view of Serenity that the traditional one."
     "Hey, we were the bad guys.  It'd be funny if we respected Serenity."
Struck by something Margrave looked up at the Earth.  "I wonder if they still
celebrate the Feast of Metallia now that she's part of Calcite?"
     "No, the only youma holiday I've heard about is Ascension Day and they
just celebrated that."  At Margrave's startled look Zeus added, "We've been
looking for good times to stage raids.  Ami had this theory that during a
holiday's a great time as hopefully the guard forces would be largely off duty, 
unorganized and hopefully drunk.  But Ascension was the only holiday and we
wound up using that to cross over."
     "Figures.  So can you get her to say a few words?"
     "She's not a toy!"  Margrave flinched at the senshi's tone.  After an
uncomfortable silence Zeus added, "Besides she doesn't know a lot.  Like Luna
and Artemis her memory of Silver Millenium is full of gaps.  When we first 
came here Ami spent hours interrogating her.  She didn't get a hell of a lot.
Of course she was mainly looking for info on magic weapons and so on.  
Anything we could use to kill youma ..."  Her voice trailed off as she
remembered she was talking to a youma.  Margrave decided a quick change of 
subject was in order.
     "Those markers you have, they aren't just so you won't bump your nose on
a force shield?"
     "No.  Cross that line and you're in space ... or whatever.  There's 
nothing to breathe over that and I can tell you that for a fact!"
     "Oh?"  It seemed Sailor Zeus was also looking for a way to kill time.
Even if it meant talking to a youma.
     "Yeah.  Shortly after we got here I went exploring.  To tell the truth 
I'd got bored watching Ami talking to Serenity so I decided to have a look
round at our new home."  Zeus shivered as she remembered her brush with death. 
"One moment I'm warm and taking the air for granted.  Next I'm freezing to
death and gasping ... I didn't know what had happened and I panicked.  Lucky
I tried to yell or I'd have whataycallit ..."
     "Explosively decompressed?"
     "Yeah!  That's what Ami said.  When she described it I got sick.  Anyway
the real lucky break was Ami saw me staggering around out there and figured
it out right away."   Zeus stopped to glare at Margrave, "You all think she's
just some kind of cold blooded bitch ... well maybe she is sometimes but I owe 
her my life more times than I can count.  She came after me soon as she saw 
me, grabbed me and got both of us back over the line.  I was a mess for a 
while but I healed.  I asked her afterwards how she'd known she could get back
in if she left here.  All she'd say was, 'I didn't' then never talked about it
again."  Makoto was still looking her way but Margrave realized the senshi's
gaze was fixed firmly on the past.  She could have left it at that and slunk 
away but decided to see if the senshi offered any more diversion.
     "So there's no shield, just a dome of air that cuts off over there."
     The question jolted Zeus out of her reverie.  "Hmmm ... uh yeah."
Something occurred to Margrave and she swore in youma'shak. 
     "Which means no protection from  micrometeorites ... or anything larger.
Terrific."  She half expected the senshi to took look blank but Makoto 
surprised her.
     "Nope."  At her quizzical look Zeus continued, "A couple of months back 
something punched a hole through one of our watercans.  I though someone was
shooting at us and ran around like a maniac looking for targets.  Ami managed
to calm me down and explain that with no atmosphere above the moon small rocks 
keep hitting the surface.  We'd just been unlucky to have one hit near us.
     "Ah!   Errr ... you didn't try to do anything about this?"
     "Not much we can do.  We used some marble slabs to shelter our bedrolls 
which'll maybe stop the smaller stuff but there's no way to cover the whole 
area.  Ami was talking about trying to blast an underground shelter but was 
afraid of disrupting the spell that maintains the air or overloading it by 
filling the air with dust.  So we just have to live by the theory that it's a 
big moon and we're a small target so hopefully we'll be all right." 
     "Thank you, that's a great comfort."   Even Usagi wouldn't have been able
to miss that much sarcasm.
     "Hey, you're just visiting.  We live up here!  It's not much but it's 
all we've got."  After a pause she added, "It's the only secure place in
the world ... well you know what I mean.  It's the only place we've got we 
don't have to worry about the youma finding us and we should be really
grateful for that.  But I can't help wishing she'd included working plumbing
in the spell.  We have to bring everything with us and we've got mass limits.
Add to that Ami doesn't like to do many jumps and all we've got is enough
water to drink.  It can get pretty ripe up here sometimes."
     "I noticed."  The catwoman tapped her nose, "There are times having an
exceptional sense of smell is a real pain.  But there's not much lingering
odour.  Whatever renews the air must purify it as well." 
     "I'll take your word for that."  Makoto gave a hollow laugh, "First time
I've taken a youma's word for anything.  Hell, this is the first time I've
actually talked to a youma, period.  Interrogated yeah ... though Ami usually
handles that ... "  She looked at the catwoman but she didn't comment.  "I'm
talking to a youma instead of trying to kill it ... her.  Or vice versa.  
That's gotta be the last thing I expected."
     Margrave shrugged trying not to show any edginess at Zeus's casual  
mention of youmacide.  "Life is full of surprises.  I'm amazed there's a 
senshi standing next to me who's not trying to kill me.  I'd sorta come to 
expect that."
     "You've fought senshi before and survived?"   
     "You must be joking, I wouldn't last a minute.  Not that I'd stop to
think that if I was enraged but ... (better not get sidetracked, don't want
her getting nervous) when I ran into Neptune and Uranus they were going to
kill me for the high crime of being a youma.  Lucky Azurite decided protecting
me was a matter of honour or I'd be dust in the wind."
     Zeus glanced over to the blue haired woman.  "She took them on and won?"
     "Not exactly.  More like they decided it wasn't worth picking a fight as
we weren't whoever they were after.  Besides youma were supposed to be the
inner senshi's worry."
     "If they're equivalent to our Poseidon and Heaven then they changed
their minds."
     "Yeah, but we lost." Margrave glanced upwards, "Guess a successful 
invasion is another matter."
      "Yeah ..."  Zeus seemed lost in thought and Margrave had decided to see
if she could needle Azurite when the senshi asked, "I saw those two only for
a few minutes and I don't really know anything about them.  What do you know 
about them?"
      "Well Ti's the expert on senshi ..."  Margrave looked over to see Ti
sporting a sheepish grin and holding yet another hammer.  "... but as she's
occupied I might as well tell you the little I know.  It all started ..."
Soon Margrave was deep into a very biased and embellished version of her 
evening with Azurite while Zeus seemed enthralled.  Cal and Ti continued
shaping practice while Hermes and Azurite kept trying to follow Pyrite's 
cryptic pronouncements.  No one was watching the sky but that didn't matter.
It was still too early to see anything.
     Several hours later Princess Titanite was feeling bored as she returned
to the throne room.  When it had become obvious that the senshi wouldn't be  
awakening anytime soon and Pyrite would be a long time studying her crystal
she'd gone looking for diversion.  After seeing that her rooms within the 
Citadel were in order (and terrifying her assigned servants) she'd left 
Shadow there and checked in on her domain.  She'd been rather hoping that 
something was wrong, some human rebellion or youma betrayal that would give 
her a change to crush it ruthlessly.  Something that would let her work off 
the anger at her counterpart's wrecking her palace and making a fool of her.  
Somewhat unfortunately all was quiet.  Normally that was just what she wanted 
to hear.  But not today.  However every provincial administrator reported 
all was well.  Most seemed unaware of the problems at the Palace.  None knew 
about the replicas or how they'd gained entrance to the Palace.  Azurite's 
damage control had been very effective.  She'd called her Seneschal and been 
assured repairs were well underway and expected to be completed by week's end.
     Under normal circumstances she'd have teleported back whenever she felt
like it to see repairs were being done to her satisfaction.  Which would have 
slowed things down but the amusement value of the fear she'd induce would be 
worth it.  After all she could always punish the serfs for tardiness and use 
them as examples to their replacements.  Her brother kept telling told her not 
to overdo it but she felt the odd act of random cruelty kept her servants on
their toes.  Besides capriciousness evil was the prerogative of dark queens
and princesses.
     But these weren't normal circumstances.  Until this mess was cleaned up
and the other Titanite located her brother wanted her staying within the
Citadel.  She could see the sense of it but it irked her.  Just like the old
days when he'd kept her confined because she'd been such a pathetic wimp.
Abyss, she'd been an embarrassment back then!  How he'd put up with her for
so long she'd never know.  Thankfully he'd seen some virtue in her and brought
it out.  Though it still seemed odd that he sometimes seemed troubled by that.    
Maybe she'd understand when she was a bit older.
     Speaking of her brother she considered dropping in on him but decided
not to bother him.  Right now he was busy reigning and didn't need 
interruptions.  She suspected he did a lot more to keep her domain running
smoothly than she thought.  At any rate he was busy reviewing reports, 
meeting advisers, checking on some long-term projects and (most importantly)
looking for patterns that indicated underlings thinking of rebellion.  There
was no loyalty to be found outside the Circle.  Something none of them could
ever afford to forget.  
     She'd killed some time by contacting Azurite hoping to get some vicarious
enjoyment out of the siege of Buenos Aires enclave.  Unfortunately it was 
already long over and Azurite hadn't been too keen to describe the mopping up.
Azurite talked quite a bit about necessity, how they needed brutal retaliation
to keep the humans in their places.  As always Titanite found this puzzling.
Why did the others feel the need to justify themselves?  They ruled and might
made right.  There was nothing they couldn't do if it pleased them.  Okay 
nothing as long as it didn't mess up the Circle's agenda.  But the attitude
still puzzled her.  Well no doubt she'd figure it out someday.
     Now, having watched the video of the massacre several times until it was
no longer entertaining she was returning to the throne room.  Maybe Pyrite 
was done with her gem.  Or perhaps the senshi had awakened, that could be
     She ignored the guards' bows and stepped through the doors as soon as
they'd opened widely enough.  Behind her the doors reversed course as she  
gaped at the room.  Before there had been enough room for ballroom dancing.
Now the place was a maze of obelisks, stacks of computer equipment, crystals
from marble sized to metres in height, piles of grimoires and enchanted tools
and piles of clutter she couldn't identify.  Pyrite had been making himself
at home and seemed to have imported half his lab.  He looked away from the 
two ginzuishou which hung in the air before him long enough to acknowledge 
her then returned to his studies.  Titanite sighed, she had the funny feeling
it would be a while before she got her gem back.  Well, at least it was easy
to tell which was which.  The new Sailor Moon's was the dull, lifeless one
while hers showed it's familiar vibrancy.  And speaking of Sailor Moon from
the corner of her eye she thought she'd seen ...  The girl moaned softly and
stirred.  Titanite congratulated herself on excellent timing and settled
back to watch.
     "Mamo-chan ..."  Vaguely aware (and disappointed) that she was dreaming 
Usagi began to drift back to wakefulness.  She felt cold, had Chibi-Usa 
pulled all the covers off again?  The little brat!  No way that kid was her 
daughter ... something was wrong.  She didn't feel like she was lying down.
It was almost as though she was standing up.  Had she fallen asleep while
leaning against something?  There was an ache in her arms which she now 
realized were raised above her head.  Suddenly waking up seemed a worse idea
than usual but the veil of sleep was fading so she had little choice.  Sure
she'd regret it Usagi opened her eyes.
     "AAAAAAAAHHHHHH!"  Both youma covered their ears at the wail.  It seemed
Usagi Tsukino wasn't a morning person.  There had been a report she had used
a sonic weapon focusing her howls during her initial appearance but that had 
been discounted as it was never repeated.  It seemed there could be some basis
in fact.  Even unamplified it was deafening.  The decibels suddenly ceased as 
Usagi realized her hands weren't gone.  She could still feel them.  They were
embedded in the twin outcroppings that rose from the otherwise smooth surface
of the column.  Looking down she realised two things; her feet also vanished 
into stone which flowed from the pillar to engulf them and she was no longer
Sailor Moon.  What had happened?  Everything was blurred.  She remembered
changing back without willing it then a black shape that attacked her.  She
futilely pulled at the stone bonds while her gaze darted around the room.
Then gasped and shouted.
     "REI-CHAN!  MAKO-CHAN!  AMI-CHAN!"  None of then did more than breathe
and she called them again.  Still no-one stirred, let alone answered her.
Suddenly she realized there was an empty pillar and someone was missing.  
     "She's safe enough for the moment.  Of course that won't last very  
long."  She knew that voice.  Suddenly things began to flood back.  With 
relief she called, "Ti-chan!  Quick you'd better get us free before ..."
She trailed of as she realized Titanite wasn't wearing her Sailor Polaris
costume.  She also looked very nonplussed.
     "Ti-chan?"  At first her voice was filled with disbelief but that quickly
gave way to anger.  "You called me Ti-chan?  I am Princess Titanite!  Ruler of
Asia!  Second of the Dark Circle!  Sister to the Overlord Himself.  My name 
is synonymous with terror and torment!  I am justly feared by both human and 
youma!  I am young in years but old in hate.  I am your worst nightmare, 
human!  AND YOU DARE CALL ME TI-CHAN!?"           
     The girl looked surprised and startled at her vehemence but not fearful.
More puzzled than scared.  Off to the side she saw Pyrite applaud her silently 
then resume talking into a communicator.
     "So ... you're the evil one then?"
     She sounded confused.  Titanite sneered and snarled, "Evil is what the 
vanquished call the victors!  It's a word the weak use to describe the 
strong so they can ignore their inadequacies."  
     "Then ... you're not the evil one after all?"                         
     For the first time in her life Princess Titanite sweatdropped.  "OF 
COURSE I'M EVIL YOU CHEESEHEAD!"  This had beaten Queen Beryl in the other
world?  She'd thought their Beryl was incompetent but her other dimensional
counterpart must have been a joke.  She shook her head.
     "It would appear our guest has little interest in philosophy."  Titanite
started at her brother's voice behind her.  As always he'd appeared without 
her sensing it.  Okay, now she knew who Pyrite had been speaking to.  As if
the thought had summoned him Pyrite joined his cousins.  Usagi saw the black
aura that flickered around scarred Calcite and gulped.  This was definitely 
the guy they'd told all the scary stories about.
     As if Usagi wasn't even there Calcite asked, "You've confirmed your 
theory?"  Pyrite nodded.
     "Yes, as I speculated an artifact capable of reshaping reality must be
rooted to that reality in some fundamental fashion.  So once it was removed 
from it's home universe ..."  Titanite rolled her eyes.
     "If this is going to get technical then I'll take a walk.  Give me a
call when Ares ... Mars wakes up."  With that she turned and strolled out as
the two kept talking.  Usagi realized she was being ignored and (after 
checking the other senshi were still unconscious) tried to break in on the 
conversation.  At last they deigned to notice her.
     Calcite turned to her and said mildly, "It's not polite to interrupt
young lady."
     "Oh yeah?  Well it's really impolite to stick girls to pillars!  And
pretty etchi to boot!"  He smiled faintly.
     "In this instance it's merely a matter of immobilizing you and your 
compatriots while neutralizing your powers.  Not that you're a problem in
that regard but they'll be unable to use their magics while bound to those 
power dampeners.  But I'm forgetting my duties as host.  You had a question?"
     Usagi was pretty sure he was laughing at her but she demanded, "Why
won't they wake up?"  That was when she became aware of a familiar sensation 
and felt something cold form in the pit of her stomach.  Oh no!  This never 
happened to heroines in the comics!
     Oblivious the Overlord answered, "Be assured they'll wake up in time.
When Shadow blasted them he used a higher power attack than he used on you.
Indeed an attack that would stun a senshi would kill a human easily.  It
appears Shadow's two level attack was not an exact correspondence between 
human and senshi resistance.  The senshi appear to have got the worst of it
so it's taking them longer to recover from the nerve shock.  But they'll 
awake before too long.  Though they'll probably wish they'd stayed in a coma."
     Usagi squirmed, though not from the fear Calcite assumed being sure 
they'd get out of this mess somehow.  She needed a distraction.  "Where's
     Calcite smiled.  "I had her removed to a special location.  One of the
great disappointments of my life was failing to settle things with Sailor
Aphrodite.  It seems fate has given me a second chance." 
     Pyrite frowned, "I thought you didn't believe in fate."
     "I don't, it's just a figure of speech.  Nothing is predetermined.  We 
make our own destiny and you have to strive for it.  No one gets it handed
to them."
     "Actually ..."  Calcite cut Usagi off
     "A special case because of Serenity's messing around.  Not that it did
much good in this world."
     "Well maybe ..."  She shifted positions as best she could but there 
wasn't much give.  "Uhm ... since I don't have any powers how about letting 
me down from here?"
     He gave a wintery smile, "Now why would I want to do a foolish thing 
like that?"
     "Uhm well I kinda ...."  The rest trailed off into an inarticulate
     "You were saying?"
     "I ... "  the rest was too faint to hear
     "Igodagotobatrm ..."
     "Did you understand that, cousin?"
     "Not a word."
     "If you have something to say girl say it?  If it's a boon or a question
it might amuse me to answer it.  It probably won't but it's worth a shot."
     The human girl was beet red, torn between embarrassment and necessity.
     The youma took a moment to interpret the jumble, then Lord Pyrite gave 
a cynical laugh.  "Really Miss Tsukino!  You're not dealing with Queen Beryl
     Calcite chuckled, "What my cousin means is that, contrary to what past
experience has taught you, being supreme leader of the youma doesn't require
you to lose your ability to think."  She still looked blank so Pyrite began
his recital.
     "Your plan is incredibly obvious.  Having deduced from our conversation
that while your ginzuishou is useless in this universe your counterpart's 
remains active you have devised this diversion.  When we remove you from the 
pillar you'll make a break for the table and grab the working silver crystal.  
Transforming to Sailor Moon you'll use the Moon Tiara Action attack to break 
your comrades free while simultaneously reviving them with the ginzuishou.
Then, while they hold us off, you'll power up into Moon Princess mode and 
attempt to destroy the Overlord!"
     Calcite nodded, "A child could see through that one."
     Usagi just twisted uncomfortably then said hesitantly, "Uhm actually I
just need to ... you know."  They just stared at her.  "But it's a really 
great plan.  Can I use it?"  There was a prolonged silence.  At length Pyrite
said, "I think she's serious."
      Calcite nodded in disbelief.  "I think you're right!"  He shook his
head.  "Just think, our counterparts failed to beat ... this."  He sighed
then said despondently, "My counterpart must have been braindamaged.  How
else could he have let these fools destroy the Dark Kingdom?  No wonder his
sister had to join the senshi to save her own life."
     "Hah, shows how much you know.  Our Calcite's not evil!  He never wanted
to rule the Dark Kingdom.  And Polaris-chan fights evil on her own, without
us."  The youma were staring at her again.  Calcite gave her a faint smile
then said, "That's ... interesting.  Tell me more."
     "Not until you let me down and tell me where Mina-chan is ..."  Calcite's
eyes glowed, "...urk!"  Calcite frowned and waved a hand before her glassy
     "That was a little like using a hydraulic press to break a walnut." 
     "What do you mean?"
     "I mean she's either got negative psi defences or a mind incapable of 
working while she's talking.  That was way too easy ... it's got to be a
trick and she's faking the trance."
     "Actually from our old observations it could well be the latter.  Why not
listen to what she has to say."
     "Why not?  We've still got some time to kill before lunar impact."  He
looked into he eyes seeking resistance but saw none.  "Now Tsukino-san let's
have a word about this other Calcite ..."
     Meanwhile on the Moon for lack of anything else to do Sailor Zeus had 
been telling Margrave her life story.  At least the general, public domain
information not being inclined to really open up to a youma.  Surprisingly
the catwoman wasn't bored, she seemed to be listening avidly.  What Makoto  
had realized was how much Margrave was able to read both from the things she 
didn't say and her pheromones.  At least until Margrave suddenly announced,
"So this boy was your first and, to date, only lover which is why you're so
hung up on him."  Thoughtfully she added, "You were a bit on the young side 
for a human though by youma standards ..."
     "SHUTUPSHUTUP!"  She glanced around frantically but no one had heard 
them.  Calcite had joined the group around Pyrite while Titanite was sitting
in a small pile of hammers trying, without much success, to create a Sailor 
Polaris doll.  Quietly but intensely she continued, "Listen youma!  If you
repeat that to anyone ...!"  The threat was unspecified but clear enough.
Margrave shrugged.
     "I make it a point of never arguing with a woman who could electrocute
me with a gesture."  She considered making a few smart remarks but decided 
not to take the chance.  Needling her like that had been too much too resist
but given the swath these two had cut through the youma a certain caution
was called for.  Once again a change of subject might be a good idea.  "So 
... shall we see what they're up too?"  She gestured at the group.  "There 
appears to be some excitement over there."  Makoto might have agreed except 
the silent Serenity image suddenly looked skyward and began to speak without 
     A few minutes earlier Pyrite had put down the grimoire he'd been studying
and sighed.  "Well I have a potential method of attack.  But the word longshot
doesn't even begin to describe it."
     "Let's hear it!"  Hermes sounded impatient.  Calcite nodded.
     "I'd say we're ready to grasp at anything that offers the slightest
chance.  Who knows, maybe the senshi's incredible luck will rub off on us."
     Azurite just rested a hand on his shoulder, she looked utterly confident      
in him.  Sure he could deliver a miracle yet again.  His spirits rose and he
continued, "I've figured out roughly how the Overlord bound Metallia.  At the
risk of oversimplifying the lifeforce they used shocked Metallia awake and
out of her cocoon too early.  Metallia was still in flux state, unable to 
exist as an independent entity.  She needed a host and grabbed for one
instinctively.  That was the Overlord ... I believe that Metallia should have
been too much for any youma save Beryl and maybe the Generals to contain 
without burning out.  The host would probably have undergone spontaneous
mutation from containing Metallia and continued changing until it died.  So 
Metallia would have had to keep switching host bodies until she was stable.  
That armour he was wearing was designed to bleed off the excess power so he 
could survive while he launched a psychic attack on Metallia.  Even so he 
should have be overwhelmed by her mind but he somehow succeeded.  This next 
part's tricky ... my counterpart seemed to think we have a strong resistance 
to demonic influence.  Possibly it's part of what makes us Renegades.  At any 
rate combined with the berserker factor which can be triggered by psychic 
invasion it seems to make us potentially capable of winning a psi battle 
against a demon."  
     Calcite frowned and glanced over at Titanite.  "Us as in any of us?"
     Pyrite nodded, "Theoretically.  Of course just how powerful the demon is
and the willpower of the person involved would also be factors.  From Ti's 
experience she was able to assume temporary control of a powerful entity but
unable to direct her berserker mindset.  Your counterpart seems to have 
learned how to remain semi-rational while he's berserking instead of just 
acting on instinct."
     He paused a moment then flipped open another book to some cryptic notes
in his handwriting.  "There's more.  I'm speculating but it looks like 
they may have summoned possession demons for practice.  Letting the demons 
into their bodies then overwhelming them, crushing their minds and stealing 
their power.  A complete reversal of the normal state of affairs.  Of course
while they might have overridden the demons and used the mana to fuel boosting 
their own powers temporarily this may have done long-term damage to their 
psyches.  This could explain why they've become ... what they have."
     Azurite shook her head.  "I don't buy that.  If they were willing to let
demons into their bodies they'd already have to be pretty twisted.  Besides
which I'll bet you're not sure if they all went through the ritual."
     "Well, no.  I believe Calcite definitely did as practice for the ... uh
main event but the others' participation is questionable."
     Calcite muttered, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger?  Looks like
my counterpart went Nietzschean.  At any rate let's get back on track."
     "Ah yes, I am veering from the topic.  Well with the armour keeping him 
alive your counterpart imprisoned Metallia within his mind.  Using her as
his link he gained access to the power of the Abyss.  I'd guess he set up
some sort of telepathic wards though how he did that and how he maintains them
I don't know.  Possibly he's somehow shocked Metallia back into her healing 
dream state so she thinks she's still asleep within her coccoon and it's all
an illusion.  So she's not truly aware of being bound as it's only a dream.  
At any rate that's how he channels power from the Abyss.  This does however 
give us a possible avenue of attack."
     "I'm waiting."  Hermes sounded impatient and cold as ever.  Yet was there 
just a hint of hope in her voice?
     "Physical assault is useless however psychic attack is another matter.
How much of the Overlord's attention is devoted to maintaining the wards I
don't know.  But I can throw something together that'll create mental static
or psychic white noise.  Call it what you will.  Hopefully that will break his 
wards and release Metallia from his control."  
      Calcite was the first to say it.  "That's not necessarily a good idea."
      Pyrite nodded.  "It's a definite mixed blessing.  Best case scenario is
Metallia is still at the stage where she can't survive without a host.  If
we can keep her from acquiring one in the flux period she'll break up and 
our problems are over.  At least as regards her."
     Hermes narrowed her eyes.  "And if she emerges able to exist 
     "Then we have a problem.  We'll have to hope she's disorientated long
enough for us to either acquire Sailor Moon and your world's ginzuishou or
to improvise something."
     "Like what?"
     "I've no idea.  That's why they call it improvising."
     Hermes didn't seem amused but Azurite raised the next objection.
     "He's got to have psi defences like Cal right?"
     "I'd be very surprised if he didn't.  So yes, we'll need to get the
mind bomb close to him for it too work."
     Calcite had a nasty feeling he already knew the answer as he asked, 
"How close exactly?"
     "Uhhh ... very!"
     "As in right in his face?"
     "Ahh ...well ...yeah.  That's about the only way it could work."
     Hermes shook her head then snarled, "Are you out of your mind?  Even if
we could get that close the odds of any of staying alive long enough to hit
him with this thing are ridiculous!"
     Calcite broke in, "Actually getting to him is still possible.  Until
they get their security upgraded we've got a window we can use."  He looked
to Pyrite, "But that wasn't the drawback you were thinking about was it?"
     "I'm afraid not."  Pyrite sighed, "The problem is that this is such an
obvious vulnerability that my counterpart must have anticipated it.  And if
he didn't I'll bet yours did.  Lord Pyrite knows a lot more about demon 
binding than I do so I'm afraid he's got failsafes I haven't considered."
     "Except that this isn't a matter of binding a demon to an artifact but a
living host.  That may limit what they could do with regards to warding 
spells."  Pyrite nodded at his cousin's speculation.
     "It might.  Or he may have devised a whole new binding technique based
on that fact.  What it comes down to is this was a long term plan.  They
spent years putting this together, ironing out the problems.  I'm trying to
come up with loopholes in under a day against an opponent who's my 
intellectual equal and an expert in this field!"
     "Is there any alternative?"
     "Uhm ... well not yet, no."
     "So we'll consider this plan A.  You build the psi bomb and we'll work
out the delivery method.  Then we can worry about plan B."  Calcite managed
to sound confident despite his estimation of their chances.  It was possible
it might work and if you go into battle convinced it's hopeless you've already
lost.  Even if it failed better to go out trying than cowering until they 
hunted you down.  Hermes didn't know about the other option.  He'd already 
rejected the other alternative.
     He'd had a quiet word with Azurite while Pyrite had been working.  As 
he'd expected she'd already thought of the reversal option.  While their
counterparts might be impossible to replace there would be nothing to stop 
them taking out a few youma quietly and using glamour to take their place.
They'd stay hidden among the youma, undetectable as they'd been in the Dark
Kingdom.  Just like the bad old days.
     Also as he'd expected she'd rejected it almost instantly.  Ti would never
be able to fit in and be discovered within days.  As for them ... in the old
days it was easy to be a bastard.  Everyone else was rotten to the core and
they'd prey on you the first chance they got.  Here there was a human race
he'd be expected to keep downtrodden and enslaved as the price of fitting in.
He couldn't do that nor could she.  As Azurite had said, "We're too damn 
honourable for our own good!  Whatever happened to survival as the be all and
end all?"  With that they'd let it drop except for Azurite's glance at 
Margrave.  Margrave wasn't in the same position.  She'd fit right in without 
a qualm and had made it clear if the opportunity presented itself to become
part of the ruling class she'd take it.  The only things holding her back
were not wanting to return to being a low rank youma treated like dirt by the 
more powerful.  That and the fact the senshi would dust her if they suspected 
treachery.  Maybe that wasn't all.  Could she feel any loyalty towards Ti or 
him?  Calcite shook his head, he was fooling himself again.  She'd made it 
clear she stuck with him for protection, material comfort and fun.  Anything 
more was just wishful thinking.
     At which point Margrave's voice broke in on his brooding.  "Everyone get
over here!  We've got trouble!"  She looked worried, so did Zeus.  At their
feet the image of the long dead queen stared upwards towards the Earth.  
Hermes didn't feel much concern for a youma's fears but the expression on her
partner's face alarmed her.  Makoto didn't scare easy which meant something
very bad was happening.  Even as she thought this she arrived and demanded,
"What's going on."
     "Play it again, Serenity!"  The image ignored Margrave's order but 
responded when Zeus said, "Please repeat what you told us."
     Obligingly it announced, "There are fifteen powered craft currently
approaching the moon. One of which is on a collision course."  Hermes muttered
a curse as she triggered her visor and looked skyward.  Then went pale and 
gasped.  Zeus suddenly felt very scared.  If Ami was shocked then, "It's an
invasion fleet?"
     "No."  Ami's voice was a monotone, devoid of emotion.  In the same 
mechanical fashion she announced, "There are fifteen rockets approaching the
moon in a wide dispersal pattern.  They are currently 1000 km away and closing 
rapidly.  According to my scan they are nuclear missiles, highly modified to
function in space.  Each is equipped with ten 10 megaton warheads and one is
obviously targeted on us.  ETA is eight minutes but they can airburst and  
scour the lunar surface in six."
     A moment's silence then Margrave muttered, "You gotta be fucking 
kidding!"  At which point everyone started shouting at once.
     "SHUT UP!"  Calcite's voice over-rode everyone else's and everyone, even
Hermes went quiet.  "Azure, Zeus, Hermes grab the supplies.  Pyrite, can you
blank our teleport signature right now?"  Azure snapped into action grabbing
the Renegades gear.  Hermes looked like she might protest taking Calcite's but 
her intelligence won out and she tore through the campsite followed by Zeus.
Titanite just looked bewildered.
     "Yes, but ..."
     "Do it.  We can't take time for the senshi to link to the network.  
Destination is the Tokyo teleport point.  Ti, you take Margrave.  Azure, Zeus.
I'll take Hermes.  Pyr ..."
     "Block your signatures then follow.  I'm on it!"  Azure started to say
something but choked it off.  Pyrite had to be last one off the moon or it'd
be obvious they escaped.
     Her arms full Zeus suddenly looked at Serenity.  "Wait a minute!  What
about ...?"
     "Please don't trouble yourself."  The image's voice was calm and firm.
"I am the last fragment of a woman who died long ago.  It is past time for
me to rejoin her.  I am sorry I could not have been of more aid.  There was
much I was supposed to tell you but over the ages my memory faded.  I did
not anticipate how long it would be before the cycle began anew.  Had I been
as all knowing as was rumoured I would have foreseen Beryl's attack."
     Forgetting this was a simulation rather than Serenity herself Makoto
blurted, "The fall of Silver Millennium wasn't your fault!"
     She nodded.  "No more than the second fall was your fault.  Remember 
that child."  Makoto might have said more but Azure (having freed one hand)
grabbed her arm and shouted, "We're outta here!"  A few seconds later Pyrite
was the only one left.  He spun the blanked jump in his mind taking precious
seconds to double check it.  There must be no trace of their escape.  He used
the moments to give a hasty bow to Serenity then vanished.  The image made a
curtsey in return then looked to the sky and idly wondered when the end would
     The rockets burst, as they were programmed to do, launching their 
independent warheads.  One's rockets failed to fire, another veered wildly
offcourse as the boosters misfired.  It didn't matter, the overlapping 
target zones had been planned for overkill.  Contrary to Hermes' fears the 
warhead did not airburst at long range.  They were within 50 metres of the 
ground when they detonated.  Ruins that had lain undisturbed in the vacuum
for 12,000 years ceased to exist.  The atmosphere bubble the senshi had lived 
in was consumed instantaneously as was the stones Serenity was part of.  
Millions of tons of dust was tossed into the Luna night.  Some would reach 
escape velocity and become meteorite.  The rest would slowly rain down on 
the moon for centuries drawn by the weak gravity.  Now all that remained where
the ruins had been were deep craters gouged in the lunar surface that were
rapidly cooling in the vacuum of space.  The last visible remnants of Silver 
Millennium were gone.
     In Tokyo Hermes looked up at the pitch black sky where the moon should
be and said quietly, "How'd they know?"  She wasn't expecting an answer but
she got one.  She almost started having forgotten Calcite was behind her.
     "You're forgetting Dark Kingdom history has the moon as a habitable
world.  When they started crossing to Earth they must have found that wasn't
true anymore and humans believed it had always been lifeless.  But they must
have wondered, if it was true once couldn't it happen again?"
     "So when they couldn't find us on Earth ..."
     "They decided to torch the moon just in case.  Since those missiles
were centred on your base they probably picked up your teleport signature.
And used a wide dispersal because they didn't know how big an area was
habitable.  For all they knew you were assembling an army up there so overkill
was the wisest course of action.  On the positive side, if they didn't pick up 
our escape, they think you've both been incinerated."
     Hermes nodded, "That is a definite advantage."
     "In the meantime we'd better get out of here.  We lucked out that they
haven't already interdicted this place.  But once the senshi talk ..."
     "There'll be troops everywhere ... unless the Circle decide to handle 
this themselves."
     He nodded, "We could open the gate and duck back to our world but ..."
     "They'll seal the area off and shoot anything that appears.  Which means
no return to this world and waiting for them to break through the gate and 
invade your world."
     "So we're stuck with this world.  So as the local expert you'd better
find us a temporary bolthole."
     Hermes gave a tight grin, "Already done.  I'm not an amateur!"
     "Since all our lives are riding on it I should hope not.  Okay everyone
we're on our way!"
     Although they'd never knew it, it was another narrow escape.  Fifteen 
minutes after they departed the disruption field appeared.
     Backtracking a few minutes found Arimanus calling the Citadel.  The
satellite video confirmed the news.  His lordship would be pleased.  She was
a little surprised it took Pyrite so long to respond.  When he did answer he
looked distracted.  She forbode to ask what was wrong and told him, "Lord you
asked to be informed of this as soon as we had confirmation.  The Lunar strike
was an almost total success.  There were two malfunctions but we still managed
97% destruction of the target area.  Estimated irradiated zone ... uncertain.
We have no evidence of large scale concealed atmospheric regions so the 
fallout patterns are uncertain.  However it'll be a few centuries before 
the strike zones will be habitable.  Best of all we scanned right up to 
detonation and there's no evidence of anyone departing.  So the senshi have
just become history."
     "Hmmm ... Oh yes that's good ..."  He looked very distracted.  "Get the
pertinent data together and forward it to me here.  I'll be staying at the
Citadel a little longer than anticipated.  Pyrite out."  The screen blanked  
and Arimanus was left to wonder just what in the Abyss was going on.
     Pyrite turned back to the Overlord to find him still staring at Usagi in
disbelief.  "You heard?"  He nodded.
     "Finally some good news ..."  He shook his head and looked back at the
entranced Usagi.  "If she's telling the truth ..."
     "She believes what she's said.  It's possible the memories have been 
implanted but Occam's razor ..."  The Overlord nodded.
     "Not just Titanite but all of us ...  The implications of this are a
nightmare."  Pyrite had been thinking the same thing.
     "Everything's potentially compromised.  If this other Azurite shows up 
at ours' headquarters she can order strike teams to take out traitors and 
they'll obey without question.  Abyss!  Any of them could trigger a civil war 
by passing as Dark Circle and rebelling!"
     Calcite had been reminded of something by Arimanus's call.  "Shit!  The
remaining nuclear stockpile!  Who has access to the vault?"
     "Just the two of us ... Oh no!"  His cousin nodded, his face grim.
     "We're establishing security codes as of now on them.  Even if it's one
of us no-one gets in.  Establish a password!  Think up something obscure and 
order it implemented!"  Calcite's mind raced ahead.  "We'll bring Azurite in 
immediately, better get Magnesite over here just in case.  For the time being 
the Circle will govern from the Citadel through deputies until we have settled 
this!"  What next?  "If our counterparts are still on the other side then 
things aren't as urgent as long as they can't cross over.  Or leave Tokyo 
alive if they do!  We'll fill Tokyo with troops and ..."  Suddenly he trailed 
off.  Pyrite said it out loud.
     "Calcite, we can't send in troops with orders to shoot us on sight!"
     He sighed, "I know.  I'm being too hasty."  He fell silent for a few
moments then continued.  "The gatepoint is somewhere in Tokyo but she's not
sure exactly where.  So I'll flood the area with a cellular disruption field.
Anyone who materializes in that will cease to be a problem very quickly.
After that ... if they aren't here we'll have to go get them."  He glanced
over at the two ginzuishous and shook his head.
     "Cousin, my powersource is the Abyss of this universe.  If I cross over
would I link to the Abyss of the other world as these senshi have linked to
their counterparts sources.  Or would I be like Sailor Moon and lose my 
     Pyrite pondered the question then threw up his hands.  "I have no idea.
There's no way to tell without long term experimentation or crossing over.
But the risk of losing control ...  You can't go!  Besides you shouldn't have
to handle this personally."
     "You're right."  Calcite nodded then, after a moment's hesitation said,
"Azurite's the best choice to lead the Killteam."  Pyrite tensed minutely.
"Don't worry, she won't be going empty-handed.  We'll give her our new
ginzuishou.  It'll function just fine on the other side and with that boosting
her powers she'll be able to handle anything.  For backup ... tough yet
expendable troops so they can't talk about who they went hunting."
     "How about the Six?  With the senshi gone they're now irrelevant."
     "That's a start.  We'll let Azurite organize the team since she'll be 
the one leading it."  Calcite felt the worry fading.  This was more of an
inconvenience than a disaster.  Even if their counterparts did trigger a civil
war he'd be able to crush it.  As long as he controlled Metallia's power he
was untouchable.  "How long before you can open the gate?"
     Pyrite looked hesitant, "I ... I've no idea.  It could take weeks ...
maybe months."
     "Calcite, interdimensional travel isn't my field.  My counterpart and I
seem to have sharply diverged when it comes to research.  It seems the senshi
have no idea how uhhh ... Polaris opened the gate so there's no good looking 
for hints from them.  I'll have to learn a whole new set of principles from
scratch.  The only pluses are I know it's possible and roughly where the gate
is located."
     The Overlord sighed, "You're right.  I'm being unrealistic.  Just do the
best you can."
     "I always do.  But something just occurred to me.  Titanite's counterpart 
has a 'key' to the gateway.  If we can find her and obtain that ..."
     "... We have a shortcut.  Unfortunately if you remember she escaped with
the senshi.  So if she was still travelling with them ..."
     "... Polaris and her key are dust on the Moon."  He sighed, "Ah well.
Back to square one."
     "That's life.  Now let's get our safeguards in place then worry about 
dealing with this problem."  Calcite turned his mind inward, reaching across 
the world psychically to the first city he'd destroyed.  As he did he wondered
how his counterpart had diverged so radically.  Why had he chosen running over
ruling?  It was very disturbing, according to Pyrite's theory the other was 
him!  Which meant not only might he have chosen the same but that in the other 
world that was the path he had chosen.  Why?
     Perhaps he'd never know.  What mattered was the appearance of this other
Titanite showed their counterparts were a threat to the Dark Circle.  They
had to be dealt with as swiftly as possible.  Even as he thought this he
wondered if he'd be capable of destroying an alternate version of his sister?
Even if she was dressed as a senshi.
     Unnoticed in the recent revelations the real senshi had begun to stir.
It would soon be a full house.
end of part 8
Next - It's SNAFU time as the best laid plans of senshi and youma go 
       seriously awry.  Chaos ensues including Titanite vs Titanite, Hermes 
       vs Banbou, Azurite vs Azurite, The Overlord vs everyone!  Cal runs
       into Sailors Venus & Heaven while Lord Magnesite broods about the basic 
       cruelty of existence.  All this plus a musical that's in very poor
       taste in:

Part 9  : Showtime!

"In defeat malice, in victory revenge!" supposedly the British PM's motto 
stolen from "Yes Minister" by Jonathan Lynn & Antony Jay.

On to part 9
Back to part 7

TEXT to HTML conversion by Douglas Helm.