Between the departure of the extraterrestrials known as Ali and Ann and the arrival of the girl they would come to know as Chibi-Usa the Sailor Warriors encountered some unfinished business. It particularly concerned Sailor Venus. Their first adventure had been the struggle against the Dark Kingdom. At the end of which the Kingdom was gone without a trace. At least that's what they thought.
The inhabitants of the Kingdom (better known as youma) were regarded as evil, murderous, treacherous and basically bad company. As a rule this was true. But every rule has its' exceptions. In this case, four of them. This is their story. But to understand it a little background is in order.
"I'm making up the Sailor V stuff" productions presents:
Sailor Moon : Refugees
by Mark Latus
Based on characters and situations created by Naoka Takeuchi
Prologue - Backstage Pass, or, Anarchy in the UK
Thousands of years ago Earth's first civilized era came to an abrupt end. The cities of Earth were conquered and assimilated by the forces of the sorceress Beryl. Had she been content to rule Earth alone she might well have reigned over the planet for centuries. But the Moon held a civilization of great power, the Kingdom of Silver Millenium. Fearing they would intervene in her conquest Beryl launched a preemptive strike on the Moon Kingdom. The slaughter was terrible and annihilated the inhabitants of Silver Millenium. Beryl's big mistake was not killing Queen Serenity right away. Her sadistic nature found it amusing that Serenity witness the loss of everything she held dear before her own death. Not the smartest thing she could have done. With nothing left to lose Serenity released the full power of the mystic artifact known as the Silver Crystal. The invaders on the moon were cast into another dimension, a segment of a barren storm wracked world. As was the entity known as Metallia.
If it controlled Beryl or if Beryl controlled it is uncertain. What is certain is that Metallia's power had massive influence on the Earth's environment. With Metallia banished the climate shifted dramatically. Drought devastated the cities of the Earth as an ice age began. Rain became infrequent as moisture became locked into ice. Civilization fell and the relentless ice ground away all traces of the cities. Mankind was again reduced to scattered bands of hunter/gatherers who would one day begin the slow climb back to civilization. Soon all that remained of the first era were legends of a golden age from which mankind had been cast. Along with stories of a terrible battle in the sky between light and darkness.
Imprisoned within the other dimension Beryl renamed her new realm the Dark Kingdom. She soon learned that the Kingdom was separated from the earth by more than space. It was also separated by time. Time flowed slower within this dimension that it had on Earth. To return to Earth a way to integrate into its' space and time were necessary. No one knew how. Still they had all the time in this dimension to learn.
On arrival Beryl was the only one of those exiled to look nonhuman. She had been transformed by the power emenating from Metallia. Metallia had been sealed into a comatose state by Queen Serenity but it still radiated its mutagenic energies. Slowly the inhabitants of the Kingdom began to change. Beryl's four generals Jadeite, Nephrite, Zoisite and Kunzite did not consider this an attractive situation. Their own magic was sufficent to enable them to retain their human appearances. However it couldn't stop the internal physical and genetic changes. While they still looked human none of them were. As time passed children began to be born, they tended to look less human than their parents. The new generation became known as the youma, in the language of the first era it meant "the children of the darkness". Most of the youma could cast a glamour that let them appear human. Not that they bothered. Earth was a fable to them, the Kingdom was all that was real.
As thousands of years passed on Earth centuries ticked away in the Kingdom. All the original generation died except for Beryl and the four Generals. Touched by Metallia's power they didn't age. Which meant no room for advancement for the ambitious among the youma. Intrigue became the fashion as newcomers sort to displace the old guard, and invariably died for it. Eventually it was accepted that the four were here to stay and youma jockeyed for positions within their legions. Each general had his own army which newcomers had to fight their way into. So on entering adulthood youma chose the General they would seek to serve. After which they would fight and die for meaningless ranks within their armies. The high rankers fought to hold onto their positions, the lower ranks didn't like getting newcomers edging them out of promotion. Seeking advancement within the armies was literally murderous. It's not surprising that several independant forces formed. They made no move against the Four, they simply waited and watched for signs of weakness.
Meanwhile nature continued to play strange tricks on the youma. Occasionally children would be born who looked indistinguishable from human babies. Like the four generals it was a matter of outward appearance only. Still to honour (and suck up to) the four generals it became traditional to give these children names ending "ite". In the latter half of the twentieth century there were five youma bearing human appearance. One of them was an ambitious little bastard named Magnesite.
Magnesite headed one of the independant forces. It was a small group comprising Magnesite, three of the four other humanics (human mimics), a few lower level youma and the terminals. The terminals were literally dying Youma. Born with defects that would kill them long before middle age they were regarded as useless by the rest of the Dark Kingdom. Magnesite had offered them sanctuary. He thought it might be useful to keep some expendable troops handy. Magnesite could have passed for a human in his early forties. Although it would have been a little tricky explaining why his fingernails were blue and the irises of his eyes were white. His features would be best described as rugged. Unlike many Youma his hair was an unremarkable dark brown. Many said that the real power behind Magnesite was his second in command Calcite. Calcite was held to be both more powerful and smarter than Magnesite. Many of the lower ranks wondered how long before they had to salute "Lord Calcite" when he upspurred Magnesite's self appointed title. These whispers didn't bother Magnesite. He knew Calcite wouldn't overthrow him for two reasons. Firstly Calcite had an absurd sense of honour. Laughable but it made him one of the few youma you could trust at your back. Secondly and most importantly Magnesite had something big on Calcite. To him it ensured his subordinate's loyalty. As a human philosopher (Chuck Colson) once said, "When you've got them by the balls their hearts and minds will follow."
For years Magnesite had waited and watched for his opportunity. Now at last it seemed to have arrive. After all the centuries of separation the Kingdom was beginning to integrate into Earth's space and time. The human world was within their grasp. At least it would be soon. In theory anyway. Of course the four generals would lead the assault, but there should be other opportunities for an ambitious Youma to prove his worth to her majesty. One of them seemed to have arrived.
"Calcite!" Secure within his headquarters Magnesite called his deputy's name. Since he wasn't one of the Four Calcite was not immediately teleported into his presence. Still his power was sufficent to telepathically page his subordinate.
Within his well fortified home Calcite felt the summons. He sighed and put down the crystal ball he'd been studying. The latest observational data from Earth that Pyrite had been able to scan continued rolling by. He froze the image. His master's voice had called, he had to answer the summons.
"Ti, Magnesite's called. I'll see you later."
"But dinner's almost ready! I've spent hours on it and everyone will be here soon!" His sister sounded exasperated. She'd never caught on just how dangerous it was to cross Magnesite. Especially for her sake. Perhaps he was overprotective of her.
"When Azura and Py arrive you might as well start. Something tells me this is going to take some time."
"He's going to make you do something dangerous again isn't he?" Titanite looked worried. Concern about another, even a close relative, was unusual in the Dark Kingdom. That was the whole crux of the problem. If Ti was a better actress I could probably have avoided making my deal with Magnesite, Calcite reflected. Although that probably wasn't true. His own nature limited what he could do.
"I doubt it, he just wants to spend hours outlining his plans. He loves the sound of his own voice." That could be a lie, Magnesite had been sounding ambitious lately. If he overreached himself he could bring them all down with him. Still no need to upset Ti prematurely. Calcite took a moment to get into character (think cold & brooding) and vanished in a flicker of red light.
"Take care, Cal." A little late he'd already gone. Why was she so different from the other youma? It forced her to live virtually isolated in this house. Because that was the only way other youma wouldn't recognise her for what she was. Heretic, renegade, human ... there were many names for what she was and many ways of dealing with her. All of them agonizing and ultimately fatal. Of course her brother, her cousin and Azurite were also renegades. If they weren't they'd never have risked themselves by protecting her. But they'd learned young to mask their natures and present a facade to the Kingdom. To make the compromises they had to in order to survive. She'd never been able to do that.
"We're only human." Her brother's old joke echoed in her head. Heretics came in all forms, you didn't have to be a humanic youma. Why they existed nobody knew. Evil wasn't a learned behaviour among Youma, it was their nature. They were born genetically programmed to enjoy violence, treachery and destruction. Except every now and then youma were born without that drive. Born with a love of life and light. Which made them far from popular with the other youma. In one sense they were popular, killing them was regarded as excellent sport. The only heretics to survive to adulthood were those who learned as children to emulate their peers. Unless they had someone to look out for them. As she did.
Titanite caught her reflection in the mirror and sighed. A pretty 14 year old looked back at her. Were it not for the fact that, like her brother, her natural hair and nail color was green she could have passed for a human girl. At least as long as she didn't bleed, Calcite had told her that human blood was red. Hers was as blue as her eyes. If she'd been born on Earth they wouldn't have any of these problems. Her brother wouldn't be virtually enslaved to Magnesite by his promise to protect her.
Enough complaining time to check dinner, Azurite and Pyrite would be here soon. She remembered Pyrite saying that the genetic flaws that created humanics and the one that created heretics were so rare that it was about 100,000,000 to one that both traits would combine in a single individual. Which raised the question of how four of them had come to be born inside a single decade. Something to do with Chaos theory, whatever that was.
Calcite materialized inside Magnesite's Sanctum. "You sent for me, my Lord." It never hurt to layer on the servility. Magnesite studied his second in command. Calcite could have passed for a handsome young man of about 22 except for the color of his shoulder length hair and fingernails. Still, according to Calcite's own observations, there was no shortage of places on Earth were unnatural hair colors went unremarked on these days. Strange people humans. Even Calcite's dark purple eyes might have caused little comment.
"Calcite, the time is approaching to prove my worth to her majesty." Calcite repressed an alarmed expression, Magnesite sounded jovial, this could be real bad. His boss continued, "What do you know about the zone?"
"Everything you do, probably more. I'm the one who's been gathering the data for you." Calcite didn't say that out loud. He crossed over to the marble slab that served as Magnesite's desk and spun the globe he'd assembled with Pyrite's help. He tapped a spot on the north pole. "There are two zones on Earth. The first is here, the area known as north pole D point. It's the place the Kingdom has spacially integrated with and currently the only spot on the Earth we can use our full powers. It's also one of the most inhospitable places on the Earth making it the worst spot imaginable to acquire the human energy her majesty has deceed we require. Any youma who leaves the zone begins dying, the rate at which this happens depends on the strength of the individual.
"The second zone is located here, the nation known variously as Nippon or Japan. It centers on this city, known as Tokyo, and extends in a radius of about 150 km from this central point. (No they don't use the metric system in the Dark Kingdom I'm just translating the measurements.) Why this zone exists we don't know, however it's currently the only place on the planet we can currently survive. Again leave the zone and you start dying. We don't have physical access to this zone but a dimensional gate between it and the Kingdom has been established. Right now it's difficult to send more than two youma through the gate at a time. Currently we can't fully integrate into the zone so it's impossible to begin lifeforce draining operations or use our full abilities. It's expected full access will be possible in a few weeks." At which point, Calcite added silently, the Generals will be fighting among themselves to lead the draining operation. Meaning we'll get killed if we try to muscle in.
Magnesite nodded then asked, "Remember Wyrren?" Hard not too remember.
"Talked Queen Beryl into letting him cruise the zone to gather intelligence. He's a very powerful telepath and he's been scanning humans to acquire the current languages. Came to you trading the data for our creating a functional translator. You turned the matter over to me and told me to do it. I worked with Pyrite and we created a telepathic interface crystal that does the job once implanted. Wyrren stole the prototype and used it to acquire a high position on Jadeite's staff. We'd created two prototypes so we still had the backup. We've been selling copies secretly to the other generals in exchange for various considerations. Along with implanting them in ourselves." He already knows all this, what's this leading too?
Both Calcite and Magnesite were speaking a language unintelligable to any human. It had begun as the First Era language, which was as lost as all other traces of that time, and mutated over the centuries into something unique. Being the only language they knew the youma had been relying solely on what they could observe of Earth. Technology hadn't confused they as much as you'd think. They simply dismissed it as another kind of magic, who cared how it functioned as long as it did work? Then Wyrren crossed over and began scanning the zone inhabitants. Initially he'd been limited to Japanese but he'd learned to look for tourists and learned a whole new set of languages.
Calacite unconsciously rubbed the right side of his neck. His implanted translator was limited to Japanese and English. Observation seemed to indicate given zone limitations that was all he'd need. Magnesite had been furious about Wyrren's double cross, if he was about to enact his vengeance they were all in deep trouble. "My lord, hitting one of Jaedite's highest ranking youma..."
"Is unnecessary!", Magnesite broke in. "He's not coming back, on his last trip into the zone a human took him out. At least we think she's a human. Check this out." Magnesite activated a crystal ball, it showed Wyrren in human form brain draining some poor sap. As integration into the zone proceeded Wyrren had been able to use more and more of his telepathic powers. Now he could just suck all the data from human brains instead of painstakingly copying the information by scanning. It didn't do the humans much good but as Wyrren said, "So what?" Magnesite froze the image, "By a stroke of luck I was spying on the doublecrossing bastard when this happened. Now this is the good bit. Is your translator on?" Calcite nodded.
The scene in the crystal began to move, blue light crackled around Wyrren's eyes as he stared into his victim's eyes. The entranced human shivered as his memories uncoiled and flowed away. Then from somewhere outside the scene came a cry of "Sailor V Kick!" Something slammed into Wyrren knocking him to the ground and breaking his connection to the human. The scene expanded, Magnesite must have adjusted the view to see what was happening. The man Wyrren had been draining still stood locked in his trance, Wyrren (using his human glamour so he looked like a middle aged salaryman) pulled himself off the ground and snarled, "Who are you?"
His opponent appeared to be a girl of about 14. In his observations of the zone Calcite had seen girls of similar ages wearing those sailor suit style school uniforms. If Titanite had lived there she'd probably be wearing one. However the blue skirt was a lot shorter than on the uniforms he'd seen, and the mask was definitely unique. The girl looked at Wyrren and said, "I am Sailor V. Defender of the innocent and enemy of the Dark Kingdom!"
Wyrren didn't look particularly impressed. "The only people I fear are other youma and your aura marks you as a human. You know far too much human so you're going to die." Wyrren shifted back to his true shape, his height increased 50%, his skin became covered in scales as his features shifted to a reptilian appearance. He howled a challenge exposing his long, razor sharp fangs.
The girl showed no sign of fear, she just pointed on hand at Wyrren and shouted "CRESENT BEAM!" The flare of light from her fingertip washed over Wyrren's face. His headless body crashed to the street. The human he'd held entranced also collapsed. The human who'd called herself Sailor V rushed to his side. The picture was beginning to break up. Magnesite must have linked it to Wyrren. With him dead and his body disintergrating there was nothing to lock onto. In the crystal a fuzzy image of Sailor V was kneeling by Wyrren's victim. A new barely audiable voice said, "Nothing you can do for him ... phone ... hospital ... out of here ..." If there was anything else it was lost in the white noise. Despite the fact she was kneeling Sailor V seemed to be looking down at whoever had been talking. The picture faded into fandom colors and Magnesite shut down the crystal.
"Maybe this explains the other three missing youma." As he said this Calcite wondered why Magnesite had summoned him. Just to gloat over Wyrren's death? Or was it something else? Sailor V? Could she be connected to the ancient enemies known as the Sailor Warriors? Impossible, they died millenia ago. By now their bloodlines must be extinct.
"You've studied the Kingdom's past. I asked you about the final battle with the Moon Kingdom once and I remember you mentioning something about the warrior sailors. Tell me about them. Knowledge is power."
"And having someone else do the research is management."
"I didn't catch that Calcite."
"It was nothing of consequence. Well according to the ancient records the Sailor Warriors were the most powerful of the Moon Kingdom's defenders. There were at least four ..."
"At least four?"
"The records are unclear. While four are specifically mentioned there were occasional references to the seven Sailor Warriors. Anyway the four who were named were Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter. Each was associated with a different planet, the four nearest Earth. Their prime purpose was defending the royal family of Silver Millenium. All four were killed by the seven Great Demons during the assault on the Moon Kingdom. Curiously all four names reappeared during the second era on Earth. While originally applied to gods they were subsequently used to name the planets of this solar system. The exact same planets the warriors had been associated with. Possibly due to some sort of mythic resonance."
"Ah yes ... mythic ... yes very good." Magnesite had no idea what that was but he wasn't about to admit it. "Well you must be wondering what this has to do with us?" Calcite nodded, his superior smiled. "Queen Beryl has learned of this incident and wants to know more about this Sailor V."
"Learn more? Not track down and kill?"
"Doesn't sound like her majesty does it? However she's got some idea there's some connection between this individual and the Moon Princess. Some old prophecy, I don't know it and she's forgotten most of it. Until Metallia revives no one will know what it actually says."
"Where do we come into it this?"
"I volunteered to investigate the matter."
"Meaning I just volunteered."
Magnesite ignored Calcite's disrespectful reply. "Yes, you'll head for the zone for preliminary investigation, we'll have gate access in about three hours." Calcite didn't say anything but Magnesite was sure his subordinate was looking for a way out. No one wants to go to an alien land to face someone proficient in killing your kind. Magnesite smiled again, "By the way how's your sister?"
"Fine." Calcite's voice was stone cold.
"Such a good girl."
The threat was clear, do this or your sister burns as a heretic. Maybe you burn with her. Calacite was silent for a moment then said, "I'll make my preparations and be ready to transport at the appointed hour." He was about to ask for leave to depart when something struck him. "Wyrren was one of Jaedite's top people. Doesn't he want to track this Sailor V down and destroy her?"
Magnesite shook his head. "No, he's too busy squabbling with the other generals over who will lead energy draining operations once those become possible. Which reminds me, I promised the Queen you'd ensure this Sailor V doesn't interfere with those once they start."
Never rains but it pours as the humans say. Calcite took his leave and teleported home. Magnesite chuckled. "If you hadn't made the mistake of promising your mother you'd take care of your sister you wouldn't be in this mess. No that's not true, your big mistake was making a promise you meant to keep. Still your bad fortune is my good fortune. I shield your sister from prying eyes, you do everything I say. It's a great deal." Meanwhile Calcite rematerialized in his home. Pyrite sensed the energy flux and turned to greet him. Pyrite's black hair wouldn't have attracted comment on Earth. The fact his fingernails matched and his eyes were a dark golden color might have.
"Welcome back cousin we ... " Pyrite's greeting trailed off as he got a good look at Calcite. Something was going on. Something major.
"Pyr, Azura, glad you're here. Seems Magnesite's got some things he needs me too do. I could be away for a while so would you mind taking care of Titanite?"
Pyrite felt very cold. The last time Calcite had asked him that had been nine years earlier. The day they'd both lost their mothers. He'd been 14, Cal was 13, Ti was only 5. Byran, his mother had been a victim of a failed coup in one of the independant forces. She'd backed the wrong youma in a takeover bid against Vekris. Since she'd been a ringleader Vekris decided that in addition to killing her he'd have her son, her sister and the sister's family killed. Pyrite had seen his mother die and ran. His powers were geared more towards analysis and shielding rather than revenge. He'd headed for his cousin's home. He had learned that Calcite was another heretic a few years earlier. Which meant that Cal was the only person in the Dark Kingdom who might help him. He'd made it to the house when his mother's killers found him again. Pyrite had been expecting to die when both suddenly sprouted knife hilts. The one with the blade sticking out of his skull went down immediately. The second, sporting a blade in the chest had looked down in disbelief then keeled over. The brainshot Youma began dissolving, the second was dying rather than dead. Pyrite had turned to see Calcite creating another knife and looking for a third target. There was none.
Calcite was one of the few youma who could manifest and shape psychoplasm. He was best at shaping it into swords, knives and similar weapons. Pyrite had run through the door and begun to babble his story when he saw what was lying in the hallway. There wasn't much left of Vekris's assassin, Calcite had killed him several minutes ago. But that had been after he fatally wounded his prime target. Titanite was further down the hall, crying her eyes out beside the disintegrating hulk that had been her mother not long ago. Calcite had teleported to the Youma he'd struck in the chest. The dying Youma had little resistance left and told Calcite who had sent it after a minimal burst of mind control. Calcite had teleported back to his sister's side and held her until she'd cried herself asleep. Then he'd looked at Pyrite and asked him to watch Ti until he got back. He had some business with Vekris.
"Uhh sorry cousin, just remembering a few things." Pyrite tried to focus on the present but the past kept slipping into his mind. Calcite had reappeared several hours later covered with healing wounds and smeared with blood. Most of it wasn't his. He'd collapsed and been very weak for the next two days. Examining him Pyrite couldn't understand how he was still alive. Calcite showed signs of wounds that should have killed him but were instead nearly healed. Somehow his regeneration ability had kicked into overdrive. Vekris was gone, so were most of his agents. Calcite never talked about it but Pyrite heard plenty of stories. Of how an unstoppable green haired berserker had hacked his way through Vekris's toughest youma. Before turning Vekris into fist sized chunks. The only thing Cal would say was that vengeance was only sweet when you took it. Afterwards all you felt was an emptiness inside.
"So what's Magnesite making you do?" Azurite tried not to show any concern in her voice. No sense upsetting Titanite. Azurite was the only one of those present not related by blood. At least as far as she knew, her father's identity was as murky as Cal & Ti's. Had she been born on Earth Azurite would have been deluged with offers to model, dates, and obscene propositions. Since she lived in the Dark Kingdom she was regarded as being as freakish as the other humanics. Still this attitude meant everyone expected them to band together. Which was excellent cover for the fact that they were all renegades. She was the only other fighter of those present, which could mean she'd have a better perspective on this than the other two. Pyrite didn't handle combat well, her lover's powers weren't geared towards fighting. He excelled at research but that wasn't a priority to most youma. Still Cal had always realized the value of Pyrite's powers as well as her own. On several occasions they'd fought side by side, Calcite's tactical sense had made excellent use of her air vortex generation abilities. Though he tending to complain if she shouted "Hurricane punch!" while using her powers.
Still she couldn't match Calcite in either power reserves or range of ability. Calcite had a real grabbag of powers, psychoplasm shaping, mind control, shock blasts and energy broadcast through his 'plasm creations. The last of which meant if one of his knives hit you he could fry you by transmitting his energy through it. Assuming the knife hit something nonvital which was fairly rare. You do what you have to in order to survive, and judge your conscience by how well you sleep. That was the rule they lived by. Like Cal she possessed superhuman strength and endurance though to a lesser degree. All four of them had teleportation abilites, though in Ti's case this induced severe nausea. Theoretically Titanite was potentially as powerful as her brother. If so her full powers hadn't manifested yet. She was limited to generating a kinetic force sphere, powerful but it took time to generate. Though she also possessed paranormal strength and endurance this was fairly standard for Youma.
Calcite also possessed a remarkable healing factor. He'd survived incredible wounds in the Vekris incident. That was before she'd known the other humanics were also heretics. She'd hung around with them, everyone being careful not to give clues that they weren't typical youma. Laughable in retrospect. Back then she'd dreamed that one day she and Calcite would be together. But she'd delayed making a move because of shyness, something most female youma didn't have to contend with. By the time she'd overcome it she was too late. Pyrite had been her second choice though she'd never let him know it. Calcite had never caught on that she'd wanted to be more than friends, perhaps that was just as well. Still when she thought about the main reason his healing powers got used she wanted to ...
"Red eyes?" Been a while since she'd heard that nickname.
Calcite's voice snapped her out of her reverie. "Hmmm, sorry Cal I didn't catch that. What did you say."
"I said Magnesite's sending me Earthside, to the prime zone."
"There's some sort of paranormal human hunting Youma. Either that or a renegade youma on the loose. Either way I get to go and investigate."
Azurite ran a hand through her long blue hair. "Why you?"
"Because Magnesite isn't about to risk his neck in unknown territory." Damn, now he'd scared his sister. "I'm exaggerating Ti. I'll just take a look around and try to pick up a few clues. Pyrite, I want you to figure out a way to mask my presence as much as possible." Pyrite nodded and headed for the workroom. "Azurite, you can help me assemble my human disguise." She nodded. "Titanite ... try and figure out what you want for a souvenir." Azura and Cal headed into his study. Titanite had seen them like this before, everyone would be oblivious to everything the rest of the evening. She sighed and started clearing the table.
A little later Azurite was studying the blond caucasian before her. She glanced over to the crystal ball displaying a Tokyo streetscape. "You know you'll never pass as a local. If you adjust your skintone a little more ..."
"I don't want to pass as a local."
"It isn't the Dark Kingdom, they don't kill anyone who doesn't fit in. Otherwise humans wouldn't have developed a tourist industry. So I'll be going as either a North American or a European. Better pick a country of origin."
"You'd blend in better with an asiatic appearance."
"Physically yes, but there are huge gaps in our knowledge of human cultures. I'm bound to make errors that someone born there wouldn't, but an outsider will be expected to screw up."
Azurite smiled, "Clever. But what do you do when you get there?"
That was a good question but Calcite didn't have a good answer. "Wing it, I guess."
Pyrite entered and tossed a medallion on a chain to Cal. "That's a new look for you cousin. Anyway wear that and it'll blank your aura. Unless you use your powers, I don't know if it'll blank a major energy flare."
"Got it. Nice work for such short notice."
Pyrite looked smug, "Well, I am a genius you know."
"Great, well mr. genius I need every type of portable scanner you can come up with. You've got a bit over two hours so get busy." Calcite turned back to Azurite, like him she was wearing a grey uniform with a diagonal red stripe across the chest. Why Magnesite picked that design was unknown. However it was unlikely to be common wear on Earth. "OK, next problem is appropriate clothing ..."
Two hours later Magnesite saw his deputy materialize close to the main gate. It took him a moment to recognise the denim clad blond as Calcite. With his faded jacket and backpack looked like a student intend on hiking his way across Asia. Further study of Wyrren's data indicated he'd built his translation matrix for English from a tourist from London. So Calcite was planning to claim to be British if anyone asked. He just wished he knew more about the place.
As he studied the Gate's shimmer something became clear to Calcite. "Someone went through a few minutes ago!"
Magnesite nodded, "Chabris. He's decided to find and eliminate Sailor V."
"Seems Wyrren was going to advance him to his number two slot. With Wyrren dead it's back to square one."
"Whoever told him she killed Wyrren didn't happen to mention Queen Beryl wants her alive."
Magnesite nodded. "Someone's eliminating some competition. If he fails he dies, if he succeeds he gets executed."
"Great. How long do I have?"
"Gate reversal is in six hours. Don't be late."
"I'll be there. Here goes!" Calcite jumped into the gateway. The transition wasn't the worst thing he'd ever felt but it was pretty far up the list.
His vision cleared and he took in his surroundings. A small alleyway next to the building that hid the gateway. No one in sight. Good, the way his head ached he couldn't trust his mind control abilities to convince anyone they hadn't seen him appear from nowhere. First thing to do was find somewhere to stash the passive sensors, after that ... well he had no real idea.
The brightness struck him as he exited the shadowed alley. Incredible. You could see how much light there was in the images of this world but the crystal balls didn't convey the utter vividness of everything. Gawking at everything he stumbled along, unwittingly helping his disguise of an ignorant gaijin tourist.
About twenty minutes later he stumbled on the park. The trees looked perfect for what he had in mind. When he was sure no one was looking his way he casually slid a yellow fistsized crystal from his backpack and held it against the trunk. The stone phase-shifted and merged with the tree. Good, Pyrite was sure the sensor would be undetectable when fused to a living object. All he had to do was find another three trees and this phase of the operation was complete.
He'd implanted the last sensor when he felt the aura flare. Definitely a youma, not far away and using its powers. Must be Chabris. Could be fighting Sailor V, could just be causing trouble. In the latter case Sailor V might sense him. He'd better go observe. Over there, he could sense the dark power. Of course the screaming people running in the opposite direction were another good indicator.
Meanwhile, not far away, a girl by the name of Minako Aino was walking along a street talking to a cat. Actually her name was Aino Minako but the chronicler is bringing his own cultural biases to this record. Anyway lots of people talk to their cats, that's not unusual. The cat answering back in Japanese was unique. At least at this point in time.
"I don't see why you're so worried about these Dark Kingdom monsters Artemis. All four of my fights with them have been over in about a minute."
The white cat glanced around to insure no one was in earshot. "Don't get overconfident. So far you've had the advantage of surprise but that won't last much longer."
"You worry too much."
Artemis sighed. His memory wasn't 100% but he was pretty sure she'd been more sensible in her first incarnation as Sailor Venus. Actually, all things considered, she'd dealt with learning she was the reincarnation of a warrior who'd been dead for millenia remarkably well. But she'd only remembered parts of her first life, enough to convince her the talking cat wasn't nuts. It was ancient history to her. She didn't truly understand the horror of the war. The Dark Kingdom had been dangerous enough when it had been composed of humans. Now? All he knew for sure was the inhabitants of Dark Kingdom were nonhuman. This had happened after he entered coldsleep so he had no idea how he knew this. Why he had awakened first while Luna was still in cryogenic suspension he didn't know. All he'd awakened knowing was Sailor Venus lived again and it was his job to find her. That and he was more alone than he'd ever been in his entire life.
The Sailor V identity had been her idea. Close enough to make the youma wonder at the connection to their ancient foes without giving away the link. Assuming the youma remembered the Sailor Warriors after all this time.
Then Artemis felt a surge of negative energy. Youma. Fairly close. A quick glance showed no one close enough to witness Minako changing. "There's a youma nearby, transform to Sailor ... Glark!" The final remark was caused by Minako dropping her ice cream cone to grab her transformation pen. "V power makeup!" Her modified Sailor Venus costume replaced her ordinary clothes. Resisting the urge to make a speech about who she was and what she'd do to her enemies Sailor V looked down at Artemis for direction. Then broke out laughing. Artemis tried to look stern but that's difficult when smeared with dairy products.
"When you're through laughing we've got a few things to take care of!" Minako composed herself and Artemis shouted "Follow me!" Proceeding in bounds that were physically impossible for humans or cats they headed for the source of the power.
Calcite was already there. He'd joined a crowd of onlookers who were torn between watching in fascination and running away. Not far away, surrounded by overturned cars, stood a purple humanoid approximately fifteen foot tall. With the horns, taloned hands and cloven hooves it was fairly close to a traditional devil image. Chabris was shouting for Sailor V to face him or he'd destroy everyone in his sight. Since he'd neglected to get a translator Calcite was the only one present who understood him. His size and aura confused Calcite for a moment. Charbris was only seven feet tall, but that wasn't an illusion. A moment's study gave him the answer. Psychoplasm. Charbris had surrounded himself with it and shaped it into an enlarged duplicate of his own form. Question was how long could he maintain the psychoplasm before it broke down? Long enough it seemed, a masked girl had just landed down the street from Charbis.
"Youma, why don't you pick on someone your own size ... not wait a second that doesn't work. Well anyway fight me! I am Sailor V, enemy of the Negaverse! I mean the Dark Kingdom, stop fussing Artemis."
The crowd was getting interested, a cute girl had fallen out of the sky and challenged the monster. This was shaping up to be just like television.
Charbis had no idea what she'd said but he recognised her from the image he'd been shown. He started towards her. Minako decided this guy was way to big to attack physically. Best to go straight to the heavy stuff. "Cresent Beam!"
The energy beam punched a hole the size of a basketball clean through the creature's chest. It didn't fall over. Instead there was a swirling inside the wound as the hole closed. The words "Uh oh" seemed very appropriate.
Calcite watched as Chabris's left arm picked up a car by the undercarriage. Sailor V's attack had failed because it had completely missed the real Charbris. It had punched through his psychoplasm construct, about five feet above Charbris's head. Question was had Charbis figured that out or had he just got lucky. Second question was should he intervene to keep Sailor V alive? Then Charbis flung the car at the girl and it all seemed irrelevant.
Calcite had underestimated her. Sailor V jumped clear of the car, having to dodge half a ton of onrushing metal was a great motivator. She bounced off the street and sailed upward in an impossible arc. Whoever, whatever she was she had superhuman strength and agility. As she flew over Charbis's head she tried again. "Cresent beam!" This time it punched straight through the psychoplasm shell, directly through Charbis and gouged a small crater in the street.
To the onlookers the monster suddenly shrank (as the psychoplasm broke up) then disintegrated into dust. The process was clearly faster on Earth. Normally it took about half an hour for a dead youma to break into a heap of dust. Also the dust didn't normally blink out of existence.
Sailor V landed and made a short speech about being there to defend everyone. Cameras emerged and she began posing for pictures. Strangely the photographers seemed more interested in her than they had in Charbis. Off to the side a white cat made throat clearing noises. When that failed to attract her attention it began extremely loud and theatrical coughing. Sailor V sighed, muttered "Allright, Allright!", scooped up the cat and leapt away at a fairly ridiculous speed.
Calcite listened in to the conversation of the humans around him.
"She was really cute!"
"How old do you think she was?"
"Does she have her own model kit?"
"Anyone get the monster's name?"
"What color were her panties?"
"White. I got a few good pictures ..."
"Let go of my camera!"
"Just a leotard with a skirt added. What's the big deal."
"Not a bad monster."
"But a lousy villian. Real villains need style. Like him."
For some reason Calcite picked up on that comment. He followed where the last speaker pointed. It was a theatre ... or cinema, one of the two. A place humans gathered to watch entertaining fictions. This one was showing something called "Star Wars".
"I didn't know they rereleased that. Hope they improved the dubbing."
"Yeah, but my point is Darth Vader had real style. He was a real villain."
"True. Every decent hero has to have a really good villain."
Calcite pondered this then headed for the cinema. Tracking Sailor V without using his powers would be impossible. He had the glimmerings of an idea.
The lady at the ticket counter stared at the gold coin. Odd, everything seemed to indicate humans valued gold. He wasn't sure why but it had seemed accurate. So he'd molded a few coins before departure. "Not enough?"
"This is pure gold! It's too much, I can't accept this!"
Calcite sighed and decided to risk using a little power to influence the human. "Look, why don't you keep the extra as a ... gratuity? I think that's the word."
"But ... the manager will insist on yen." She was definitely weakening.
"Well if you pay my admission you can keep the coin." His eyes glowed slightly as he said this. She nodded, pocketed the coin, tossed some bills into the register and handed him a ticket. Calcite wandered in, he was going to have to learn more about human economics.
Several hours later Calcite was back in the park he'd stumbled across. It was evening and the park was quiet. A little later it would start filling with couples. For now it was private enough. It wasn't long until the gate activated, time to collect the sensor data. The blue stone he pulled from his pack suddenly gave a high pitched hum and glowed brightly for several moments. Then it was just a blue chunk of rock again. OK time to go, Sailor V might have detected that.
She hadn't. Artemis was the one who could sense Dark Kingdom power but his tracking abilities were limited to destructive energies.
Calcite didn't know this as he headed for the gate. After the movie ended he'd spent the rest of the day studying the humans. He understood money a little better. The paper stuff was theoretically backed up by gold but enough gold to replace all the paper didn't exist. Anyway for operating capital you'd have to change gold for paper. He'd found a coin shop and replaced his remaining coins. The owner had thought he was cheating Calcite but gold was easy to find in the Dark Kingdom. Which was probably why it wasn't valued by them.
Well here he was, time to head home. At least now he had a plan to control Sailor V. Problem was if he became Darth Vader he was going to need a few stormtroopers. Meaning expendable youma who could die fighting her. Damn. He stepped through the gateway and felt the same spaceripping transition. It felt a lot like cold electricity crawling through your skeleton.
"Crossing will get easier as spacial integration proceeds." Calcite's vision cleared and he saw Magnesite watching him.
"Glad to hear it." His shivering stopped. "By the way Charbis won't be coming back."
"Who cares? So how are we going to control Sailor V?"
"We?" Calcite avoided saying this. Instead he replied, "By giving her something big to distract her. An image she won't be able to resist."
"An arch-enemy. A youma she'll think is the overlord of the whole Dark Kingdom. An enemy she must continually battle to prevent the world being plunged into chaos."
Magnesite stared at him. "Idiot, if we had that kind of power ..."
"It doesn't matter that we don't, what matters is that she thinks we do!"
Magnesite thought for a moment, then smiled. "Yes, I can see that. Humans are so gullible."
"I hope so because my life's riding on this." Again he merely though this. Now for the nasty part. "For the deception to work she's going to need some servants of the Dark Lord to fight and destroy."
"The Dark Lord? Ahh I see ... no problem, use the terminals. Hah, I knew they'd come in useful someday."
"I'll need a few days to prepare the image, brief the terminals, prepare a few plans ..."
"You've got two days, get moving! 'Lord Calcite'." Magnesite broke into laughter and Calcite dematerialized. He'd have to practice laughing like that. It seemed to fit the image he had in mind somehow.
Everyone was waiting for him. "See told you everything would work out." Titanite smiled, she'd been afraid he was never coming back. Cal tossed Pyrite what looked like a blue rock. "If your sensors worked there's about five hours of material on that stone. See what you can find. Azurite, I could use a little assistance. I've got a new disguise to design. Something with a lot of black. Titanite ..."
"How about I make you something to eat. You skipped dinner and I'll bet you didn't risk human food." Besides I don't want to get sent to bed, I want to hear about the human world.
"That'd be nice. Any of the blindworm stew left?"
"I saved you some, there's also some of the beetle souffle left."
"Great." Dark Kingdom cuisine was heavy on insects and fungi. There wasn't much in the way of native animal life. You get used to anything in time.
When she arrived in her brother's study she saw what he'd meant about a new disguise. He'd let his hair and skin return to their normal shadings. The extreme paleness of his face and neck contrasted with the black cloth that covered every other part of him. The costume was completely black, with the exception of the red, skullshaped epaulettes that held the black cape in place. Azurite was telling Calcite, "I'm not sure you need the helmet."
"It's all part of the image. Hold on." Calcite picked up the black, crested helmet. Apart from the eyesockets it was featureless. He fitted it into place, only his mouth and chin remained uncovered. He concentrated a moment and his eyes became a solid glowing red. "Ok now for the voice .... ahem ... FOOLISH HUMAN, YOU DARE TO CHALLENGE ME!" He dropped from the booming deep tone back to his regular voice. "How was that?"
Azurite nodded, "I like it, somehow it fits the image perfectly."
"You sound kind of scary Cal."
Calcite pulled off the helmet. "That's the whole point, Ti. If Sailor V thinks I'm someone really dangerous she'll have to fight me."
"But isn't that dangerous?"
"That is the flaw in this plan", he thought. Out loud he said, "If I actually fought her face to face I'd have a problem. Instead she'll just take on my underlings." He sighed. "Azura, I'll have to talk to the terminals tomorrow. I could use some company."
"And someone to watch your back when you tell them you're sending them into battles they won't come back from." Not wanting to upset Titanite all she said was "Sure. You are the boss after all." True. Technically she and Pyrite were his subordinates. Unlike Pyrite, whose job was weapon and surveillance orientated research, she had command of a small troop of Youma. Thanks to her "bitch from hell" routine she used when not in the company of other renegades none of her subordinates dared cross her.
Meanwhile in the workroom Pyrite was studying one of the sensor readings closely. Most of the observational data the youma had came from the zone, it was hard to get a lock on anything outside. Besides expanding the observational radius his sensors were designed to track energy fluxes. If he was right there was a third zone out there somewhere. He'd have to find out if that was right. Build a probe that Cal could launch next time he crossed over. Oblivious to everything else Pyrite set to work. Azurite who had just looked into the room sighed and stepped back. She recognised that mood, it would be impossible to get through to him tonight. Seemed she'd be sleeping alone. She headed for the guest room, the two of them spent more time in this house than their own quarters. Of course their own place wasn't as secure as this. The fortifications and Calcite's reputation kept most youma away.
Next morning (the cycle of the day when the sky lightened, there was no sun) Calcite looked into the workroom. Pyrite was sprawled on a bench surrounded by crystals, grimores, strange tools and the other pariphennalia of a youma researcher. He sensed the intrusion and awoke, "Whosit ... ah, good morning cousin." Calcite could never understand how Pyrite could work most of the night, get an hour's sleep and be ready to get back to work.
"Morning. I have a new project for you to start after breakfast."
"I need you to start designing a few devices that'll look scary as hell and perform an impressive sound and light show. Something I can pass off as some sort of doomsday weapon."
"Sort of a special effects gizmo. Like the Souleater we used to bluff Biroc?"
"You've got it."
"Let's see if I ..." Pyrite stopped talking and started sketching something arcane.
It can wait until you've eaten ..." Calcite gave up. Pyrite would be oblivious to the outside world for the next few hours. "I should have told him after breakfast."
As always Ti had got up early to cook. The past few years she'd insisted on preparing all the meals in this house. She'd insisted that she had to contribute something for her sheltering. Since it seemed to make her happy he'd agreed. Her early efforts had been fairly disasterous but by now she was a fairly decent cook.
Calcite sighed. She seemed happy but what kind of a life was it being confined to this house? Unless she learned to mask her nature she'd have to spend the rest of her life indoors. Besides he couldn't count on always being there to protect her. Even without this Sailor V business dangerous times were approaching. Soon the Dark Kingdom would be preparing for war, and Magnesite was sure to put his subordinates between himself and the front lines. He'd actually though about deserting, take the others through to the zone with him and forget about the Dark Kingdom. But that was just a fantasy, they'd be hunted down and killed. No one walks away from the Dark Kingdom. Of course until recently there was nowhere else to go.
When Azurite joined him about half an hour later he was already wearing the Dark Lord outfit, minus the helmet. At her inquiring stared he shrugged and said, "Since I'll be dressing like this when they're on Earth with me they'd better get used to it."
"Makes sense I guess. Anytime you're ready."
"OK, just get into character and ... let's go!"
There was a flicker of red light and the two figures vanished.
The cavern that housed the terminals stank of the dead and the dying. Neither Calcite or Azurite showed any expression at the stench. The terminals recognised both of them, Magnesite's ice hearted deputy and the ruthless bitch who served him. Perhaps Magnesite felt their usefulness was at an end and had sent them to purge this place. Then Calcite began to speak.
"Brothers and sisters, for too long you have languished here! Dismissed as useless by your peers you have wondered how to prove your worth to both her majesty and Metallia. Wonder no longer! Lord Magnesite is sending me to Earth to conduct operations vital to the Kingdom. I have chosen you to be the troops that accompany me."
Azurite could sense the terminals fascination. She maintained her cold expression.
"It will be dangerous. Many of you will not survive. But you will have proven you value to our lord, our queen and our god!" He had them. "For now only one of you will be able to accompany me each trip. A deadly enemy waits and you may well not return. Knowing that who would choose to accompany me?"
There was a howl as all the terminals began shouting at once. A few of the louder cries were understandable.
"We're dying anyway, a chance to dying fighting for the Kingdom ... pick me Lord!"
"Glory to Metallia, Choose me!"
"A chance to walk on Earth, to taste human blood ... Take me!"
"Glory to Lord Calcite!"
"ENOUGH!" Calcite's dark lord voice boomed over the din. There was silence and he pointed at a youma that seemed a combination of man and spider. "You, what is your name!"
"Arachnis my Lord."
"You'll do. Be ready to depart at any moments notice." He cut off the youma's torrent of thanks and said, "Some of you may try to eliminate Arachnis and take his place. If anyone does that I will find them. I will not kill them but they will forever loose the chance to go to Earth." The youma who'd been eyeing Arachnis looked away suddenly. "I will return when it is time to cross. Be ready!" Both Calcite and Azurite disappeared. Arachnis began glorying in the envy of his fellows.
Back in his home Azurite looked at Calcite in amazement. "They're actually happy to get chosen for suicide missions!"
Calcite nodded. "Those poor, stupid, bastards!"
"Well, guess they figure as they're dying anyway at least they get to die for something." Calcite grunted. He didn't look very happy. "Hey they chose to go and the plan won't work without expendables right. Ok, it's not the ideal solution but better tham than use right."
"Do you know what the entire renegade philosophy can be reduced too?"
Calcite sounded bleak, this was really upsetting him. "No. What?"
"One word. Survive. We do whatever it takes to stay alive. Maybe we're just kidding ourselves. Maybe we aren't any different from the other Youma."
"Bullshit! There's a lot of crap we wouldn't pull when the chips are down. Even if we wouldn't survive otherwise. In any case you swore to protect your sister right? Hard to do if you're not alive. The terminals made their choice. You're taking them to their deaths but they're already dying. At least they get to die happy!"
"That's rationalization. But you're right. Thanks, I can always count on you to keep me from screwing myself up."
"That's what friends are for." I wanted to be more than friends but you didn't pick up on that. By the time I had the courage to tell you it was too late. Azurite repressed a sigh. She wasn't unhappy with Pyrite, but sometimes she wished ... enough. What's past is past, wishing doesn't change it.
"Hey Cal!" Pyrite wandered in, "I think I've got what you want. Check it out." He held up a sketch of construct composed of crystal rods and covered with bizarre symbols. "The Earthripper Mark 1. Punches a hole through the planetary crust to the magma inundating the city with lava."
"That's a joke right?"
"Yeah but she won't know that. I figure the beam will get about 50 meters max before the assembly blows."
"Hopefully she can stop me before than. Otherwise it's going to become obvious I'm faking."
"Anyway it'll all fold up to this cube about half a metre square so you can carry it through the gateway. So how are you going to use it?"
"I'll pick some public place, scare off the humans, tell Arachnis to guard the area then set it up and radiate as much power as possible. Then I very ostentatiously gloat about the terrible things I'll do to the city."
"Will it work?" Azurite thought she could follow the logic of this scheme.
"By the way cousin ..." Pyrite held out what looked like a giant ruby. "Next time you cross over I need you to lauch this probe for me. It should hold together long enough to transmit confirmation back to the sensors."
"Confirmation of what?"
"A third zone."
That was quite the bombshell.
The following day Calcite stood with Arachnis by the gateway. Arachnis was using his glamour. He looked like a thin and sickly teenager. Which was in fact what he was. "Remember to maintain the glamour until we've reached the power point. And address me as Lord Calcite on the other side." Calcite had made up a story about various points of energy existing in the city which he'd be using to power the Dark Kingdom's battle machines. The terminals had bought it hook, line and sinker. "Ok let's go!
"On to glory!" Fearlessly Arachnis stepped through the gate. Carrying a large cube disguised to look like a parcel Calcite followed.
School was just letting out and the crowd of girls by the lockers was making as much noise as possible. "Say Minako want to drop by the arcade? There's this really cute guy there now."
Minako was about to say yes when she saw Artemis at the window. His cresent mark was glowing, something was wrong. "Sorry, gotta go!" She raced off. This Sailor V stuff was starting to mess up her social life.
Behind her someone said, "Lately she's always running off alone. I'm getting sick of it."
"Yeah, why do we keep including her?"
"The heck with her."
That was the point Minako's isolation from her classmates really began. Right now she had other concerns. "What's wrong, Artemis?" She'd ducked into a nearby alley. The cat looked grim.
"Big trouble. Something major's going on at the Hasegawa gallery, I've never felt this much power before. Transform fast!"
There was a flare of light and her clothing reshaped itself. "Let's go."
At the gallery the manager was trying to deal if she was dealing with a crazed conceptual artist. The black clad figure had materialized in the main exhibit room flanked by the sick looking kid and pointed at the wall which had immediately exploded outwards. He'd then announced he'd do the same to any human still on the premises in sixty seconds. Everyone else had cleared out but Akane had stuck around. The captain going down with her ship. The man had gestured at his parcel which had floated up about two meters and unfolded into this thing. Two black marblelike pillars with an array of twenty crystal rods about the diameter of a golfball and half her length between them. All twenty had rotated to face their pointed ends at the ground. The stranger looked at her and smiled, "The Earthsplitter is almost fully charged, in a moment I'll set it to discharge and we'll depart. You'll have a firsthand view of the magma welling up. Your gallery is about to become the hottest place in town!" He began to laugh, the kid echoed him.
Then a new voice broke in, "How dare you terrify people from our cultural centers forcing more of them to turn to television. Just because art is boring doesn't mean people shouldn't look at it. Well maybe it does and there's nothing wrong with TV ..."
"Wrap it up fast." Artemis reflected he'd have to get Minako to work on her pre battle speeches. Assuming they both survived.
"Well anyway Sailor V is here to stop you!"
The figure in black looked puzzled by all this, "What the hell are you talking about? Oh who cares, you're that pest I heard about. Arachnis, DESTROY HER!"
"As you command Lord Calcite!" The sickly kid made an impossible leap at Sailor V. As he flew his shape changed. Two more pairs of arms emerged from his sides, arms with talons instead of fingers. Mandibles emerged from his cheeks and extra clusters of eyes emerged from his forehead. He was one of grossest things Minako had ever seen. She dodged to the side just before it would have hit her. The floor shredded where the clawed arms hit. He spun and spat something greenish at her. It missed and began burning a hole in the wall. Acidic. The thing leapt at her, Minako realized she was in trouble. She managed to roll to the side and leap to her feet. For the first time in years Arachnis forget his pains. This effort was killing him but it was just as Lord Calcite had promised. Glory. Time to finish this.
"CRESENT BEAM!" The energy bolt caught Arachnis in the middle of his leap. The remaining half of him crashed into Sailor V knocking her down the corridor. Ignoring the ringing from her head striking the floor Minako pushed the disintegrating remains off herself. The other one was still in there. She staggered in and saw the apparatus glowing with light, the air filled with a rising hum.
"TOO LATE SAILOR V THE EARTHRIPPER IS CHARGED! I HOPE YOU LIKE VOLCANOES! I SACRIFICE THIS TOWN TO METALLIA!"
This was it, could she concentrate enough to focus the beam?
"You can do it Minako. I believe in you!" Artemis's voice was filled with total confidence. She gathered her strength and screamed "CRESENT BEAM!"
The structure exploded. As it fragmented the pieces vanished rather than peppering the gallery with lethal shrapnel. She'd done it.
"CURSE YOU SAILOR V." It seemed Lord Calcite wasn't amused. "You may have won this round but this is far from over. This town is full of energy points I can use. Next time I will succeed!" There was a flicker of red light and he was gone. Minako let herself slump against the wall. Her head was aching worse than it had in her entire life. Good thing he hadn't stayed to fight her.
"You alright Min ... Sailor V?"
The cat sighed. "Man that was close, I thought we were all finished."
Despite the pain Minako managed to glare at the cat. "I though you said you had total confidence in me?"
"I do. Within certain limits."
"Listen cat ..."
"Excuse me?" It was the gallery manager. "What just happened? And who are you?"
"I am Sailor V champion of ... owww!"
"Forget the drama until you're feeling better. Lets go!" She nodded, winced and leapt away through the hole in the front wall. Akane looked around the at the mess and wondered how she'd explain this to the insurance company.
Minako kept going until she spotted a secluded spot to change back. She found her hope the pain would disappear when she stopped being Sailor V to be false. How was she going to explain this to her parents? Probably she'd tell them she slipped on something and struck her head on the pavement. There was no one around. Massaging the lump on her head she squatted down by Atermis. "You were right, they are getting more dangerous."
Artemis nodded. "The first true foe has appeared. Whoever this Lord Calcite he will be back. The true battle is beginning!"
Not far away Calcite, back in his tourist guise, was heading for the local library. He had a few hours to kill before the gate reversed. There was a lot of stuff he wanted to look up. Everything seemed to have gone well. Except for Arachnis there had been no casualties. Good, he'd been afraid of hurting human bystanders. Scaring them shitless he could live with.
Four hours later he downloaded the sensors' data again and headed for the gate. He wondered if Pyrite's probe had found a third zone.
Later back in the Dark Kingdom he joined Azurite and Titanite in Pyrite's lab to hear the results. Well there both is and isn't a zone!"
"Sure." Pyrite pointed to his globe. "Ok the source is here. The country known as Britain ... or England. Same thing I suppose." He tapped the globe. The image of the country he'd indicated expanded dramatically. "The source is here." The area he'd tapped also grew. They saw an incomplete circle of monolithic stones. "The source seems to be under this artifact. Maybe it was erected to mark the spot. It's a sort of protozone"
"Well you could establish a gate to this place. You'd have to bounce off the main gate in Tokyo ..."
"I found out the place is named Juban, it's on the outskirts of Tokyo."
"Whatever. Anyway you could gate to this place but you couldn't survive for long. You'd die slower than in any other place in the world but you'd still die."
"If you stayed long enough. Presumably you could gate out before death."
"Well in theory ..." Pyrite's eyes lit up. "In fact while you couldn't return to the Kingom before prime gate reversal it should be no trouble gating from the protozone to Tokyo. Or Jubal or whatever you called it."
Azurite looked at Calcite, "Just what are you planning?"
"Nothing yet. I can feel an idea shaping up but I'm not sure precisely what it is."
"Just don't do anything too crazy big brother."
"Don't worry Ti. I don't take unnecessary risks. Well time to start planning Lord Calcite's next caper. Also I think my dialogue needs work."
Several weeks later Minako was sitting in her bedroom with Artemis studying a town map. They had plotted all of Calcite's appearances and were looking for a pattern. There didn't seem to be one. Artemis muttered that maybe she should try drawing lines between the points. Perhaps there was some sort of mystical symbol being formed.
Though he wasn't letting on she knew Artemis was worried about the latest clash with Calcite. Until now she'd never got a clear shot at him. He'd always send his underlings to fight her while he worked on his various machines. Today she'd managed to take out the youma, destroy the Hypersonic generator and throw a cresent beam at Calcite.
It had bounced off. He had raised his right hand and she'd been knocked down the hallway by some sort of forcewave. Stunned she'd watched him approach, energy crackling around his hands. Then his wristband had begun to beep. He'd screamed, "NOT NOW! DAMN. I WILL FINISH YOU NEXT TIME.", and disappeared. It had been several minutes before she could get up and limp home. Her parents were definitely worried by these recurring injuries. In fact Artemis had been forced to use a mind control technique to calm them down.
"He must have some sort of time limit on how long he can stay on this world." Artemis's voice broke in on her remembrance. "So you found all this junk in his hideout?"
"Yes. Strange isn't it. Why would a youma be interested in England?" Minako looked at the pile of books, maps and pamphlets. All concerned the British Isles. What did it mean?
"Maybe he's planning to relocate."
"What do you mean Artemis?"
"I've told you the Dark Kingdom can only this world via Juban Town. I could be wrong. If there's a place over there Calcite thinks he can materialize ..."
"... then he'll have a whole new country to terrorrize. One without a Sailor Warrior to trouble him."
"Yes." Artemis closed his eyes and thought. The only Dark Kingdom incursions of late had been Calcite's. Was he the ruler of the Dark Kingdom? Or just the agent in charge of operations? If the former and he was heading for England then Minako must go to stop him. If the latter that would leave this town defenseless against any other agents who crossed over. What should he do? "Minako, you may have to go to England!"
"What! But my parents ..."
"I'll have to ... ahh convince them you're on some sort of exchange program. For that matter I'll have to hack into your school's records to make them say the same thing. Probably I'll need to brainwash your principal and teachers to think the exchange program exists."
"Great ... a vacation in the middle of term ... start setting it up. Say when you brainwash my history teacher do you think you could get her to raise my grades a little?"
Artemis felt a large sweatdrop form on his face. "Try and take this seriously OK? We don't know if you'll be going yet. Besides it won't really be a vacation."
"Yeah, yeah ... so what should I pack? What are they wearing in England ..." She kept talking but Artemis stopped listening. He sighed. Well at least she'd forgotten about her injuries. Why couldn't she take this more seriously. He was willing to bet there wouldn't be this much trouble when the other Sailor Warriors revived.
Meanwhile across town a croygenic cylinder invisible to human eyes cracked open. After some time a black cat emerged into its new world. One thought hammered through her brain. The Princess, she must find the Princess. Somewhere out there were those who would help her in her quest.
Back in the Dark Kingdom Azurite was watching Lord Calcite's last showdown with Sailor V. "You get very careless. You're damn lucky your forceshield was strong enough to withstand that!"
"Keep your voice down, I don't want to worry Titanite." Calcite sighed, "But you're right, I underestimated her. I'll be more careful in the future." He nodded towards the recording, "She's improved a lot in the past few weeks."
That was true, a study of the recordings showed that. The epaulettes on Calcite's costume were more than simply decorations, they recorded everything around him for subsequent playback. After Arachnis died he'd shown thethe recording of his death. Why he done this he wasn't sure. It hadn't discouraged the terminals from volunteering. Dying fighting seemed preferrable to waiting for their luck to run out and drop dead. So despite a 100% mortality rate he still had more volunteers than he'd ever need.
Azurite was looking confused. "What's the deal with the wristband?"
"Oh I triggered tha. Just a gimmick I came up with to duck out of a fight before I had to seriously injure her."
"Which you would have to do otherwise to maintain your character."
"Say Cal?" Azurite sounded worried.
"What am I going to do if orders change and I get told to eliminate Sailor V instead of study and occupy her?"
"Should have known you'd already have thought about it. Well?"
"I don't know? I really don't know."
Calcite sounded really uncertain, best to change the subject. "So do you think your plan's going to work?"
"I don't know. Getting to England's not a problem, just bounce off the main gate and materialize above Stonehenge. From there I can teleport to London without much trouble. Staying alive once I get there is the real problem." Azurite tried not to look concerned. This might well not be one of his better plans. It had seemed simple at the time. He'd told Pyrite "Humans are able to stay alive in a variety of environments that would kill them without the appropriate protective clothing. Can you come up with the mystical equivalent. Something that will enable me to function in England. Or at least temporarily delay my dying?"
As always Pyrite had delivered. Hopefully anyway. The field augmenter hadn't been field tested yet. Even if it worked Sailor V still had to take the bait. He'd been leaving indications that he was planning a move to England, centering on London at the last few operations. Magnesite was getting edgy. In about a week energy draining operations would be possible in the zone. He'd promised the Queen Sailor V wouldn't interfere. If she did then he'd be facing royal displeasure, assuming the general directing the operations didn't take him out first. Magnesite had been making a lot of comments about not going down alone.
If the England operation worked he'd be operating on his own most of the time. Few terminals had forceshield capability. Without a shield to modulate Pyrite's gizmo wouldn't work. Enough worrying, time to get to work on the final phase of Operation London Calling.
It was the following night in Juban Town. Artemis was alone in Minako's bedroom. She was out as Sailor V checking the place he'd theorized Calcite would appear. When he'd connected the points he'd realized Calcite's strike points formed a large pentacle. Only one point remained, if the design was right Calcite would be in the warehouse district, pier 5. He still had the problem of what to do if Calcite was leaving this town. Should Minako pursue him across the world to England and leave Juban defenseless? If she didn't would the Dark Kingdom break through in England and sweep across the ocean to engulf the whole of Japan? He'd set everything in place for the phoney exchange program (except for the brainwashing part) but didn't know if he should use it or not.
Then his communicator beeped. He activated it expecting Minako, but the voice that emerged was a real surprise."
"Central control?" It was Luna's voice, she sounded very confused. Artemis realized the videolink on his communicator was malfunctioning.
"Luna, is that you?" His voice was distorted by the malfunctioning communicator.
"Yes, this is agent Luna. Hello, Central Control." She didn't recognise his voice. "I knew how to contact you when I woke up. I'm afraid my memory is somewhat scrambled."
"That's only natural after so long in hibernation."
"I suppose. No sign of that useless furbag Artemis. Looks like I'm the only agent around."
Useless furbag? Fine, then I'm staying Central Control as far as you're concerned. "Agent Luna in future you will give this password before beginning a report." Artemis quickly thought up the most ridiculous password and countersign he could.
"Er ... what does that mean?"
"That is not something to concern lowly fieldagents. Now why did you contact us?"
"I haven't found the Princess yet but I believe I've spotted Sailor Moon's reincarnation. I will attempt to awaken her." Although Luna didn't know it a run in with kid who thought her cresent mark needed bandaging would delay matters considerably.
"Sailor Moon? Oh yes ... I remember her." It was vague but he remembered her now. Strange, until Luna mentioned the name he'd thought there were only four of the inner senshi. But there were five; Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Moon. How could he have forgotten one?
"I will awaken her tomorrow."
"Excellent work agent Luna."
"Thank you, Luna out."
Artemis switched off the communicator then began fiddling with it. After he'd repaired it he'd set it to distort his voice and display a blank screen when Luna called. It would work normally when talking to anyone else. Useless furbag indeed! Still Luna had solved his dilemma. Minako could go to England if need be and whoever the new Sailor Moon was could guard the city. It was perfect.
Meanwhile Sailor V was creeping through a darkened warehouse. There was a sickly glow ahead illuminating the two figures by the bizarre constructs. Apparently Dark Kingdom technology leaned heavily towards crystal based, at least Calcite's version did. Stones of various sizes glowed, circled through the air and hummed as they performed some incomprehensible task. One of them was unmistakeably Calcite, the other a youma that looked like a combination of woman and plant. Her hands ended in things like venus flytrap jaws. Hopefully that was some sort of coincidence. In the center of the room two huge pillars glowed with energy. The air between them looked distorted.
Calcite glanced down casually at a soft glow on his wristband. Sailor V was in earshot. Time to get on with his plan. "Well Pretor the time has arrived. Though my attempts to use the powerpoints failed due to Sailor V's intervention I have completed the pentacle. The gateway to London is ready to open. A city without the accursed Sailor V to protect it! While she stays here waiting in vain I will bring the Dark Kingdom through to England. From there we can inundate the whole world in our beautiful darkness!"
Pretor looked at him longingly, it sounded truly wonderful. Like all the terminals she was unaware Calcite's schemes had been fakes. "Can I not come with you Lord?"
"Alas faithful Pretor the transistion would kill you. It will take me several days to recover once I cross. But no matter, without my enemy to interfere I can stand a few days healing. Sailor V ..."
"Is right here!" Minako stepped out from concealment. About time too, Calcite thought. He'd been afraid he'd have to end his speech with a burst of mad laughter. He still wasn't very good at it.
"Not now, not this close! Pretor ..." Pretor was already leaping for Sailor V. Minako dodged. She had to avoid this thing. The priority was destroying this mechanism before Calcite could use it. The pillars had to be the heart of it. Calcite was doing something, all the floating stones were glowing. An image was forming between the pillars, a street somewhere there was still daylight.
Minako aimed for the lefthand pillar, "CRESENT BEAM!"
"NO!" Pretor cannoned into her knocking her hand skyward. The beam tore a large hole in the roof. Debris began to rain down. Minako leapt clear, realizing as she did her leap would carry her waay from Calcite's device. There was a squelching noise behind her as a roofbeam landed on top of Pretor. Over the din she heard Calcite shout, "TOO LATE SAILOR V!"
Calcite stepped between the pillars. She brought her hand up to aim at the righthand one, maybe destroying it would finish Calcite while he stood between them. "CRESENT AHHHHHHHH!" The flare of light from the pillars blinded her. Instinctively she shut her eyes and turned away. The light vanished and the warehouse went silent.
It took several minutes for her vision to return. The warehouse was darkening, the glowing jewels were fading and beginning to crumble. The pillars were beginning to crack. She'd seen this before, all Calcite's creations broke apart into dust when destroyed. Calcite must have set it to do this after he'd used it so she couldn't follow him. She'd failed to stop him, now her archenemy was thousands of kilometers away. In a few days he'd recover his powers and then ... no choice, she had to go stop him.
Also getting out of school for a while was undeniably attractive. Artemis wouldn't appreciate her attitude but she wasn't about to make being Sailor V her whole life. It was already alienating her from the other girls at school.
The only things Calcite had brought that weren't disintegrating was a pile of guidebooks to London. She gathered them up, perhaps they'd give clues to his objectives.
Elsewhere in Juban town Calcite was in a bar trying some human drinks. Hopefully that had worked. The hologram had looked realistic enough, he'd stepped toward it then teleported under the cover of the flare. He had an hour to kill until gate reversal then it was back home. After that ... well in a few days he'd cross to the Stonehenge gate, teleport to London and see if Sailor V was in town. Hopefully he could keep her distracted while he considered the feasibility of his own scheme. Perhaps there was a way out of the Dark Kingdom after all.
"Artemis, Calcite's got away. He's in England."
"Fortunately we've got lucky for once. Luna my ... ahhh assistant has located a second Sailor Warrior. She can guard Juban while you're tracking down. I'll set the wheels in motion tommorrow."
"All right, this is going to be fun ... vital, I mean vital!"
Artemis sighed, "There's no reason you can't have fun as long as you stop Calcite while you're doing it. I won't be able to accompany you due to quarantine regulations. So you'll need this."
The mirror detects youma energy, within a limited radius. It's the best I can do. Besides Calcite doesn't tend to be subtle."
"True. He just appears somewhere, terrifies people and begins using one of his gizmos."
"Right. Now let's work on your English."
"Oh, right." That was the one point she'd forgotten. "You don't have a magic translation device?"
"No." Actually I do but it's implanted in me. How else could I emerge speaking contemporary Japanese. Artemis wasn't about to tell her that.
"This may not be as much fun as I thought. Oh well."
In Heathrow Airport Minako had had a stroke of luck. Her English was pretty bad but she'd run into an exchange student returning from Japan. His Japanese was still fairly shaky but they'd been able to understand one another and he'd helped her find a bus into town. Once there he'd helped her find the house Artemis had arranged for her to stay. They'd exchanged phone numbers. Alan had told her he knew what it was like to find yourself floundering in a foreign country. He told her she could call him if he needed help. Alan was a nice guy, very cute too. Admittedly several years older than her, being a university student. She had just settled in when the compact began beeping.
Calcite returned from his first London mission feeling a little shaky. The field augmenter needed work. But it had worked, Sailor V was there. Mission accomplished. Just in time too. Jaedite was about to begin energy draining operations in Juban town.
A few days later Minako was using her communicator to talk to Artemis. "... and Alan's got this beautiful blue eyes and these wonderful broad shoulders and I think he really likes me!"
Artemis looked very sourfaced. "Thank you, that's very useful."
"Huh ... oh right Calcite. Well he showed up today at the London Museum but I chased him off. I think he's weaker in this country."
Meanwhile at the museum the police were trying to make sense of the eyewitness reports. Stories about monsters, men in black with red eyes and laserbeam throwing masked girls in miniskirts tended to strain their credulity. Policewoman Katrina DeWitt heard a lot of the stories as she dealt with crowd control. She should be in there asking questions, but she'd been busted from detective after running afoul of the old boys network. There was something fascinating about this, there had been similar reports a few days earlier.
In the Dark Kingdom Magnesite was finishing showing the latest recordings Calcite had made of his battles with Sailor V. "As your majesty can see Sailor V has been removed from the operations area. Additionally she is clearly a different individual from the one who ruined Lord Jaedite's plan."
Queen Beryl nodded, "Yes, you have carried out my orders Magnesite." She smiled, "Continue the operation, it is amusing to see this Sailor V chasing shadows." She turned to Jaedite. "You were charged with collecting human energy from the zone, if you cannot handle that ..."
"Of course I can you majesty. This Sailor Moon is nothing to worry about. You need not hand responsibility for her over to Magnesite."
"Very well. I will hold you to that. Zoisite!"
"There is something I want you to find for me."
"I live but to serve you."
"Never forget that."
Magnesite was dismissed. He had shown her Majesty his dependability and Jaedite had been shown up. Things were looking good. He'd better go see Calcite.
Meanwhile at Calcite's home Pyrite was finishing fiddling with the VCR. "Okay I think the power flow from the generator will approximate the electricity these things need."
Azurite was studying a videocase, "So tell me again how you stumbled across this?"
"Well I was doing a tour around London planning my next caper. I still had two hours before things got critical. Suddenly I saw Magnesite's face in the window of this store. Turns out it wasn't Magnesite of course, just this human actor who'd looked like him. Still it was fascinating so I bought the tape and acquired the devices that would run it."
(An electronics store in London.
"So let's get this straight. This bloke says he wants the top of the line VCR and TV. You bring them out. There's a flash of light and he and the machines are gone. All that's left is a bag containing about five pounds of gold?"
"Fairly unorthodox sale but we can't complain. Must have been an
"Ok I think we're ready."
"You said that an hour ago", Titanite commented.
"This time for sure." Pyrite said with more confidence than he felt. "Here goes!"
There was a whir and human lettering began crawling across the screen. It took their translators a moment to synch in then it became clear.
Calcite stood up suddenly. He'd sensed someone teleport to the front gate. Then he heard the telepathic call. A moment later he was unsealing the door. "Welcome Lord Magnesite."
Magnesite strode in. "Greetings Calcite, I have just had an audience with her majesty ... what is that sound?"
"A ... human artifact that shows their fictions. I have been studying these things to help my trips to the surface world."
"I would see this device."
"Of course my Lord." This could be trouble.
Everyone leapt to their feet when Magnesite entered. He acknowledged their salutes then studied the screen. Then gasped, "That's me!"
"No Lord, merely a human who bears a resemblance to you."
"I see, why is there no color?"
"When this was made humans could not film color. They can now."
"Interesting. I will watch this."
A tense hour and a half followed. At the end of which Magnesite nodded in appreciation. "Such a handsome fellow. Are there other ... movies you called them, of his?"
"I believe so."
"Excellent. You can acquire them on your future trips to London. Her majesty wishes to continue the Sailor V operation. Despite the appearance of this Sailor Moon."
"Very good my Lord."
Magnesite nodded. "I'll be taking this apparatus for further study." Calcite nodded. "By the way what was his name again?"
"Bogart, Humphrey Bogart."
Magnesite nodded. At his gesture Calcite picked up the case for "The Maltese Falcon", tossed it onto the pile of equipment and picked the whole awkward mess up. Then Calcite removed the locks keeping unauthorized visitors from teleporting in or out of the house and vanished along with Magnesite.
Pyrite shrugged, "Look on the bright side, at least he liked the film." He studied the place the electronics had stood. "A very neat invention."
In London a few days later policewoman Katrina Dewitt was chasing a suspect. He'd attacked a group of japanese tourists going for the teenage girls among them. He'd been screaming something about Sailor V not spoiling it this time. Apparently puzzled by their lack of resistance he'd run when she challenged him.
The youma named Tural was aware he was in a lot of trouble. Lord Calcite had told him to wait while he took care of some matters. Then he'd spotted the tourist, reasoned since they were the same nationality as Sailor V she must be among them, and attacked. Now he was being chased by someone of unknown capabilites. Worse he was straining himself, he'd been warned that if his forceshield collapsed he'd die very quickly. He needed some breathing room. Then he saw the child.
Katrina saw the attacker grab a six yar old girl and hold a large knife against her throat. She froze. Then the man's shape began to change. Tural had realised he could conserve energy by dropping the glamour. Katrina stared at the thing before her in disbelief. It couldn't be real. It smiled showing its fangs and looked down at the child it held.
Then something slammed into the monster knocking its grip from the child. The masked girl bounced clear with the former hostage. The impact stunned Tural and his shield collapsed. He had a few seconds to howl before he dissolved in the hostile environment.
Katrina saw the rescuer gently put the hostage down. "Sailor V, I presume."
She smiled and that was how it began.
Not far away, holding a stack of video equipement and currently dressed like a local, Calcite was looking around for Turbal. Where was that idiot? Then he felt the flare of youma disintegration. Seemed he'd found Sailor V. Calcite scrubbed today's mission. Things might not be a total loss, the sensor he was carrying would have picked up on Turbal's death. Time to get his wildcard plan in gear.
Later in the Dark Kingdom Pyrite studied the sensor crystal. "So you want to know if it's possible to adapt ourselves to survive outside the zones?"
Calcite nodded. "I realise it's a long shot but I'd like you to try it. I got the idea when I heard Zoisite was hunting for the Silver Crystal. That's the thing that created the Dark Kingdom. Now if it shows up and falls into the wrong hands ..."
"It could be goodbye Dark Kingdom forever?"
"Right. So if that's the case I'd like a way out."
"We could survive in the zone."
"Except that's starting to fill with Sailor Warriors. As in people who don't like youma and are expert in killing us."
"Two is not full."
"I concede the point. Still do you have anything better to do?"
"What the hell, I enjoy a challenge. I'll do it after I rig up the new VCR. So what did you bring back?"
"The films that inspired me, the Star Wars trilogy. I've also got 'Treasure of Sierra Madre' for Magnesite."
Speaking of the zone, a few weeks later in Juban Town Artemis was staring at his communicator in disbelief. "You told this Katrina your real name?"
"Well yes, it's making things a lot easier for me. I'm learning a lot from her. Since Calcite's only showing up about once a week I've been helping her with regular criminals. Big sister Katrina's a good person, don't worry Artemis."
"So how's everything in Juban?"
"Under control I guess. Despite how much Luna complains about Sailor Moon she keeps getting the job done. Anyway Sailor Mercury counterbalances Sailor Moon's weak points. I don't know enough about Sailor Mars yet, she just appeared yesterday."
"Great. Well I'm meeting Alan for lunch. Bye."
"Bye." Just what is the Dark Kingdom doing?, Artemis wondered. This Jaedite character (can he possibly be the original one?) is trying to drain human life force. Calcite wasn't, what is Calcite doing? What was he missing?
London a few weeks later. "Here's your copy of 'Casablanca' sir."
"Thank you." Calcite thought about Pyrite for a second. "Say do you have anything with people who talk in a babble of technical terms and keep pulling miracles out at just the right time?"
"Star Trek's on that rack in back."
"I'll try that then." It had been a fairly good day. The standard, "next time I'll defeat you Sailor V" routine, followed by an abrupt disappearance. Still thirty minutes left before his shield went critical.
Back home he found Pyrite wasn't in. Azurite had said he'd been spending too much time on the project and dragged him off. Probably just as well, it was a real longshot anyway. "Anyway Ti, I'm told human kids your age like cartoons so I thought I'd pick a few up for you. Here."
"Thanks Cal, I'll watch it later." Titanite studied the box marked "Akira" then put it aside. Weeks later Calcite would realize this was the day that started his sister's anime obsession. Pyrite's Trek obsession didn't begin until the following day. In the meantime Calcite had to deliver a video to his boss.
On entering Magnesite's sanctum he noticed a few changes. The statue of the black bird on the desk, the trenchcoat Magnesite was wearing, the psuedo cigarettes. "Ah Calcite, good to see you." Magnesite seemed jubilant.
"Ah, your new movie sir, also I have a status report to deliver."
"Good. Today is a great day!"
"Jadeite just got the Eternal Sleep."
Magnesite looked very happy. "He screwed up one time too many, blew his last chance at redemption and got the crystal treatment." Frozen into a giant crystal, immobile, no senses and yet alive and aware. The ultimate in sensory deprivation. Very nasty. "Think I should try for his place?"
Alarm bells screamed through Calcite's mind. "That would be unwise. The remaining generals would probably band together against a newcomer. Better the devil you know."
"I suppose. Well Nephrite's taken over the operation. Wonder if he'll do any better."
"I don't think so."
"He's smarter than Jadeite but he's just as arrogant. He'll also underestimate the Sailor Warriors because of their youth. Besides like Jadeite he's rusty after centuries of doing nothing but maintaining his position. I'm very careful not to underestimate Sailor V."
"Allright. Say we should see about finding out who she is under that mask."
"I'll look into it sir."
Calcite teleported home and entered his study. He opened his desk and looked at the photograph of Minako Aino. Finding out her identity had been simple. Sailor V was often in the company of a policewoman by the name of Katrina DeWitt. The same woman was often in the company of a Japanese exchange student name of Minako Aino. She was the right age, build and appearance to be Sailor V and had shown up a few days after Lord Calcite announced he would head for England. Calcite had decided to keep this from Magnesite for the time being. There was a buzz of English voices from the viewing room, Ti must be watching her video.
Two weeks later Calcite arrived home to find the others waiting. He shook his head, he was developing the theory that television was a subtle human weapon to addict youma. He put "The Big Sleep" aside for Magnesite, gave Ti her anime tapes and Pyrite his trek tapes. Azurite hadn't become obsessed with television. However she had developed a fondness for certain magazines. He handed over her copies of "Vogue" and "American Survivalist". It was fairly crazy, he thought, this obsession with human culture. Different as we are this stuff isn't our culture. Anyway enough time wasting, he'd picked up the director's cut of "Bladerunner" and was taking over the TV. The difference between him and his kindred was that he could give this stuff up anytime he liked.
Life settled into a pattern for both Sailor V and Calcite. Once a week he'd show up and run some scheme, she'd defeat it and he'd exit quickly. Strangely enough Nephrite was operating the same way against Sailors Moon, Mars and Mercury. The difference being that he wasn't planning to lose. Getting into a routine almost killed Calcite.
Titanite heard her brother materialize and went to meet him. She forgot to ask if he'd picked up Dominion when she got a good look at him. There was a healing burn on the left side of his face. He dropped his helmet, it had a matching gouge in the side. He also dropped the briefcase he'd been carrying. He slumped into a chair and groaned. He'd got careless, got too used to the routine. It had been too damn close for comfort. He had to give these situations his full attention. Remember Jaedite and Nephrite are more powerful and they couldn't beat other Sailor Warriors.
His perceptions were off because of the shock. Which is why he didn't pick up the intruder until it was too late. White furred arms ending in lethal claws wrapped around his neck.
This didn't panic Calcite as much as it would most people. A voice purred in his ear, "Hello stranger."
He looked up into the face smiling down at him, he began feeling better. "Hello Margrave."
If you genespliced Kathy Ireland and a white persian cat you might have produced something like Margrave. OK you probably wouldn't but hopefully that conveys the idea. Margrave had a body that would have fascinated a great many human males. Until they realized that it wasn't a costume, the fur grew from her skin. Or they noticed the claws emerge from the recesses on her fingers. Or saw her grin exposing her razor sharp fangs and realized those weren't weird contacts the pupils of her eyes were elongated. Having grown up in the Dark Kingdom Calcite had a different set of standards with regards to women. He'd seem a lot stranger in his time.
"Auntie Margrave dropped by, she asked me to keep it secret." Margrave was the only non-renegade youma Titanite saw on a regular basis. How she had failed to recognise Titanite as what she was remained a mystery. Calcite thought Margrave must like Titanite for some reason. Azurite put it down to stupidity.
"Like the kid said, I wanted to surprise you. Mind if we go discuss a few things?"
"My pleasure. Ti your tapes are on top in the case, put "Key Largo" aside for Magnesite, the magazines got to Azurite and the other junk is Pyrite's." In addition to the tapes that included the sensor crystals he'd seeded a few weeks earlier.
"Don't wait up."
Some time later in a small glade near the Screaming Forest they talked. The noise produced by the forest was supposed to sound like humans being tortured. Calcite generally found it a depressing place but Margrave liked the ambiance. She'd added her own screaming to the cacophony not long ago. Now she ran a hand over Calcite's chest and asked, "What are you thinking about?"
"Just wondering if my back was healed actually."
Margrave pulled her hand back and watched the claws slid in and out of her fingertips. "Sorry, I do tend to lose control. Roll over and I'll take a look." He turned and she studied the blue stained gashes. "They've all closed up. I'll just clean the blood up."
He felt her tongue slid over the clawmarks. A fairly enjoyable sensation although he could do without the injuries in the first place. Still play with fire and you inevitably get burned. An attitude Azurite had never been able to stand.
"So did you really want to talk?"
"Actually yes. I wanted your advice."
"Well with Jadeite gone like the rest of his legion I'm out of a job. Think I should join Nephrite's army?"
"No, I think Nephrite's not going to last much longer. Zoisite's next in line but he's only lasted this long with Kunzite's backing. On his own he'll screw up and get himself killed. Which will screw up Kunzite and probably bring him down."
"So when's Magnesite making his move?"
"Not until the old guard are gone."
"On your advice, yes? Look at me, I know Magnesite wouldn't make a major move without consulting you."
"Yes, you're very observant."
"Thank you. Think you can get me into your group?"
"We'll be expanding soon. I'm sure I can find you a place." She purred.
Back at his house Pyrite was studying the sensor crystals. "So Cal didn't wait for us?"
"Auntie Margrave dropped by and ..."
"Auntie Margrave!" Azurite was furious. "I don't believe this everytime she shows up he stops thinking and follows her like ..." Pyrite gave her a "not in front of the kid" look and she shut up. She wasn't sure why they tiptoed around the subject of sex in Titanite's presence. Hell, both she, Pyrite and Calcite had been younger when they lost it. Maybe because Ti looked so... so damn innocent. Besides confined to this house she was looking at a fairly celibate life.
Calcite reappeared sometime later. He looked a lot better than he had on returning from Earth. "Enjoy yourself?", Azurite asked somewhat acidly.
"Yes, very much so."
"Cal, I've said it before and I'll say it again. You are out of your mind messing around with her! She's not one of us, she's pure youma! She was spying on you for Jadeite all along. Now he's gone she's trying to get you to give power in Magnesite's force."
"Of course, as you say she's pure youma. What else would she want?"
"I can't be smart about everything. So what do you think Pyrite?"
"I think theoretically it's possible. We'd need to set up a new gate into the zone. This one would be designed to alter youma who pass through it. A small adjustment at the subatomic level and we'll be able to exist anywhere on the planet."
"OK work it out on paper. Don't try to implement it for real. Right now this is still just a vague hope.
A little later Azurite was looking over the plans for Lord Calcite's newest plan. "So she comes in to stop you and falls into this deathtrap. Then she escapes and wrecks your cosmic whatever gizmo. What's the problem?"
"The trap might be a little too good. I could kill her."
"That's a problem."
Calcite's eyes lit up, "But I just came up with the solution. According to the stuff I've seen on Juban there's some guy named Tuxedo Mask who keeps showing up when things look bad for the Sailor Warriors."
"So if I'm already playing the villain there's no reason I can't be the hero as well."
A few days later Minako was treading water and wondering if she'd finally run into more than she could handle. The trail had lead to an abandoned watertower. When she'd entered the door had sealed and the valves had opened. She'd tried to blast her way out and found the interior of the place was mirrored. Her beam bounced around, nearly striking her until it expended it's energy on the water. So now she was floating and watching the roof get closer. Another five minutes and there'd be no breathing room left. This wasn't fair!
Then she saw movement to her side. The blade cut through the side of the tank without resistance. A large circle of metal dropped away and water began pouring out. Caught in this current Minako headed for the hole. Just how high up was she?
As she plunged through the hole someone grabbed her arm and hauled her out of the stream. Her rescuer hung on an outside access ladder with one hand and gripped her right arm with the other. He swung her up onto his back and grunted "Hold on!" The waterlogged Minako clung on as he climbed down the ladder very fast. They arrived on the ground, he squatted down and she released her grip. She got her first real look at him. He wore grey body armour over a grey jumpsuit. Grey boots, grey gloves, grey mask, grey hair, grey eyes, even a greyish tinge to his complexion. "You reasonably OK?" She managed to nod. "Fine, stay here. This is man's work!" A sword appeared in his right hand. Not surprisingly it was also grey. Moving at a speed she could match but few others could he headed for the pumping station. A series of strange lights, explosions and noises followed. After a while things went quiet again. He emerged from the station limping slightly. "He got away. I almost had him. Wrecked the gizmo anyway!"
Minako tried to talk. "Sailor V."
"Yes I suppose life's like that sometime."
What? Oh yes, Alan had pulled that same awful "Cest le vie" pun on her. Or was he serious? "No, that's my name, Sailor V."
He looked at her. "Well I suppose that makes sense to you."
"Who are you?"
"If I wanted people to know who I am I wouldn't wear a mask."
"Sailor V's not my real name, what do they call you?"
"It seemed appropriate."
"Sailor V?" The call came from the other side of some pipes.
"Big sister Katrina!"
"She's with you?"
"Fine, then she can take care of you." With that he headed away in a series of superhuman leaps.
Katrina emerged in time to see him depart. "Who's that?"
"He calls himself Gray. Whoever he was he saved my life."
Not far away Gray dropped a smoke grenade and disappeared within the cloud. When Calcite reappeared a mile away he was wearing his blonde tourist look. So far so good. He spent half an hour gathering supplies then teleported to Salisbury Plain. He stepped through the gate, bounced through the Juban gate and appeared in the Dark Kingdom. Magnesite was waiting. He looked very happy.
"Calcite, great news!"
"I see, so her majesty ..."
"No, no, no. The idiot fell for a human girl and was executed for treason by Zoisite's hit squad. Fool. Now we wait for Zoisite to destroy himself. This is a good day. By the way this is a list of human weapons I'd like you to obtain."
"I'll do my best, they have these laws ..."
"You'll find a way."
"Very good my Lord." Calcite teleported home. He stood in the arrival chamber for a time and thought about Nephrite and his death. After a while he whispered, "I wonder if you were my father?" According to his mother he'd been one of the two possibilities. The slightly preferrable one.
Meanwhile Minako was talking to Artemis on her communicator. After her report Artemis said, "I wonder if this Gray character is connected to Tuxedo Mask."
"Who? Oh right, the guy who helps the other Sailor Warriors."
"Actually he seems to be concerned with Sailor Moon rather than the other two. Anyway he always shows up with things look bad. Initially he didn't do much but he's started fighting youma. We still don't know who he is, why he interferes or the source of his powers."
"Well Gray's got a London accent so he must be a local. Though I don't know why he chose to fight Calcite."
Speaking of Calcite he had emerged from the arrival chamber. Azurite was waiting for him. "So how'd it go?"
"Good." Calcite touched the leather band on his wrist. His jeans and t-shirt shifted to his normal uniform. Azurite looked a little startled. Looked like Pyrite hadn't shown her his latest invention. "This little beauty rearranges treated fabrics into preprogrammed forms. This has four designs. You've seen two, the others ..." He touched it again and was wearing his Lord Calcite outfit, another touch and he was wearing the Gray disguise. A third touch and he was wearing his standard uniform.
"Guess Pyrite's planning to surprise you with your model."
"Why do I need one?"
"Because I need to establish that Gray and Lord Calcite are different people. If Sailor V never sees them together she might smell a rat. So how do you feel about transvestism?"
"Meaning you need a stand-in as Calcite while you're playing Gray."
"Right, with enough force your wind control can pass for my shock blast."
"Aren't you worried she'll figure Gray's got the same powers as Calcite?"
"No. I haven't used my psychoplasm powers as Lord Calcite. I was saving them for emergency use only. So she's never seen Calcite pull swords or knives out of nowhere. Look you don't have to do this, it's dangerous and may not work. I can try using an illusion of Calcite."
"Don't be silly that wouldn't work. Hell, I'm curious about the surface world."
The following week Minako found herself racing down a tunnel flanked by Gray. He seemed to like to say as little as possible. Four crystal spheres covered in spikes popped out of the floor and flew towards them. Before she could start zapping long thin blades appeared between Gray's fingers. He flung them at the onrushing drones. The blades penetrated the spheres and exploded. Bits of crystal bounced off his body armour. Not for the first time Minako wondered at the practicality of the Sailor Warrior uniform. It was great for attracting guys' attention but as combat and cold weather gear it was certainly lacking in protection.
Calcite was waiting for them at in the hall. Gray said "Stand back and leave this to the grownups", pulled a sword out of nowhere and leapt at Calcite. Halfway there a small hurricane struck him and slammed him into the wall. So much for leave it to him. Calcite was standing there waiting for her. Minako knew from past experience the Cresent Beam wouldn't finish Calcite. if he was standing there to draw her fire what was he distracting her from?
There! The right hand wall glowed slightly. She blasted it, through the hole she could see another Dark Kingdom mechanism. Behind her she heard Calcite howl in rage. "CRESENT BEAM!" The thing shattered before her bolt, breaking apart into fragments that collapsed into dust. Calcite glared at her and disappeared. There was a groan and Gray pulled himself free of the wall. He looked shaken but otherwise unhurt. She couldn't resist, "Very good move, especially the part where you embedded yourself in the wall."
In a tone of wounded dignity he replied, "I was attempting to lull him into a false sense of security."
"It worked. He thought you were out of action."
Gray glared at her and limped away. He ducked into an alcove. She saw grey smoke billowing out. When it cleared there was no sign of Gray. She shrugged and headed home.
The next few weeks passed in similar fashion. Calcite showed up, tried something and she stopped him. Sometimes Gray appeared to help her out of Calcite's traps or to overcome Calcite. Of course sometimes she had to save his hide when he overdid it. She still knew little about Gray and he didn't volunteer any information. One time after a one of their battles she'd asked about his name.
After a moment he'd told her. "Things are rarely black and white, there's a lot of grey areas out there. I'm one of them."
"How so? You fight the bad guy which makes you a good guy right?"
"But vigilantism is wrong, private individuals taking the law into their own hands undermines society."
But ... but who else could fight these people?"
"Exactly! It's a grey area."
"You're a strange guy."
"You're far from a normal teenager."
Still his help was welcome, big sister Katrina and Alan were always there for her so life was pretty good. Except that Artemis wanted her to come back.
"Look Minako can't you leave that Gray guy to fight Calcite? Things are getting fairly serious over here."
"They just got a fourth warrior right. Things must be under control."
"Well yes but this rainbow crystal business is major. I think they're the key to finding the Silver Crystal."
"But you don't know that, or if Gray can handle Calcite on his own?"
"Well ... no."
"So I'm staying." The connection broke.
"Maybe you're right", Artemis mused. But he'd developed an ugly suspicion about Lord Calcite. Juban seemed to be where all the real action was taking place. First the energy draining, now the rainbow crystal hunt. Both Jadeite and Nephrite had fouled up too much and been replaced. What exactly had happened to Jadeite was unknown but Artemis didn't expect him to be back. Calcite had been failing continually for a longer period and he was still around. Part of Minako's function as Sailor V was a decoy for youma hunting the Moon Princess. Suppose Calcite was the youma equivalent? A fake youma boss designed to keep Sailor V busy? Or was he wrong and Calcite was a real menace?
He didn't know? What was he supposed to do?
Back in the Dark Kingdom the rainbow crystals were also on Calcite's mind. Each was soul bonded to the reincarnation of one of the seven great demons. Zoisite was charged with finding them. So far he'd located four though he hadn't retrieved many of them. Still how had he found so many? "I don't get it Pyr. There are billions of people in the world. What are the odds that four of them would show up in the only place in the world Zoisite can search. For that matter what are the chances that all the Sailor Warriors would also show up in the same area?"
Pyrite smiled the way he did when he was the only one with the answer. "The odds are a lot higher than you'd think. In fact I don't think they could have manifested anywhere else."
Pyrite spun his globe and tapped the zone. "While the polar zone was created by the Kingdom's return the Juban zone was already here. It's the synchronistic point of the planet."
"Which means? Try and keep it simple."
"Basically the zone is a magnet for every parnormal event that could happen in the world. It's impossible for these events to happen anywhere else on the planet. If it's truly abnormal and it has to happen it has to happen here."
"Meaning that the remaining three crystals must be in there somewhere."
"You've got it. By the way I'm running low on those field augmenters. Before long you'll be unable to survive in England."
"Frankly I'm amazed the operation's still going. It was originally set up to get the only Sailor Warrior out of the way of operations. And to find out if she was this Moon Princess."
"I doubt it. Anyway now that there's four of them running around Juban it's sort of pointless."
In the throne room Queen Beryl was talking to Magnesite. He'd ditched the Bogart mannerisms for this audience. She had recollected the Sailor V business, time to wrap it up. "So you are convinced Sailor V is not the Moon Princess."
"Yes your majesty."
"Very well, destroy her. The game has ceased to amuse me."
"As you command your majesty."
The next day Pyrite was working in his lab when Magnesite appeared. Fighting down a rising panic he managed to say, "You honour me by your presence in my humble ..."
"Shut up and give me a field augmenter."
"Here sir, its ready to go if you just ..."
"Has Calcite gone through?"
"I believe so ..."
Magnesite vanished. Pyrite tried to figure what the hell had just happened. Thankfully Magnesite hadn't known what he was working on.
Calcite watched through binoculars as Katrina and Sailor V headed for the garage. The clues at his last caper had lead there. Inside they'd find the evidence to lead them to his new lair. Everything was going like clockwork.
Minako nodded to Katrina to stay outside as backup and dashed inside. The garage was dark, empty and ... and someone just opened a door. She spun to fire and saw it wasn't Calcite. The figure wore a trenchcoat and fedora, like a detective in one of those old Hollywood films. Something dropped from his hand and bounced across the floor. What was it?
HAND GRENADE! The figure vanished, Minako dived for the windows.
Katrina was knocked away by the explosion. Her head cleared and she saw the blazing ruin before her. "MINAKO!" Even as she screamed she knew it was useless. Nothing was coming out of that alive!
Calcite dropped the binoculars in shock. What just happened? Did she blast a petrol can and send the whole place sky high? Then he sensed the teleport energy. He found the source and warped to the point of appearance. "WHAT THE HELL DID YOU JUST ... Lord Magnesite?"
"Morning Cal, it certainly is bright in this world."
"Good Morning Lord, Errr ... this was my operation."
"Her Majesty decided she wanted it ended."
"So you decided you'd prefer it if you were the one to conclude the operation."
"I knew you'd understand. Well, shall we go."
"As you command."
"Never forget that."
Had they stayed they'd have been very surprised. Minako managed to open her eyes and stagger up. She'd blasted the boarded windows and got out just before the place blew up. She was bruised and bleeding but it was nothing terminal. She heard Katrina call her name and was about to answer when she saw Alan arrived. Katrina collapsed against him and cried. She heard him say , "It'll be alright, I'm always here for you." A lot of things clicked and she finally understood. Alan didn't love her, he loved Katrina. It made sense, they were a lot closer in age. She was probably never more than a kid sister to Alan. This hurt a lot more than her injuries. She staggered away. When she was out of sight she fished out the communicator. Luckily it was still functioning.
Artemis stared at her image. "Minako, what happened!"
"I'm coming back. Make the arrangements."
This was a drastic change. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing ... Everything. Look do you want me back or not you stupid cat?!"
"Uhm, yes, yes of course. I'll hack into the right systems and you'll find a ticket waiting at Heathrow."
"Fine ... oh and Artemis ..."
"Sailor V is dead, from now on I'm Sailor Venus."
Back in the Dark Kingdom; "Not your fault Cal, why rip yourself apart?"
"You're right Azura. Hell it couldn't have ended any other way could it? At least I didn't get ordered to kill her. Such a waste." He sighed, "So anything new?"
"Zoisite just got the fifth crystal."
"Guess he's improving."
A bit over a week later Magnesite summoned Calcite to his sanctum. He looked worried. "Watch this!"
Calcite observed as Kunzite and Zoisite's attempt to gain the rainbow crystals in Tuxedo Mask's possession came to a dismal end. The cause of the disaster? The fifth Sailor Warrior, Sailor Venus.
"It's her isn't it. I didn't kill her after all."
"Looks that way sir."
"What are we going to do?"
"We? I don't recall telling Queen Beryl I'd just terminated Sailor V."
"Don't give me that crap! I'll take you down with me, I swear it."
"Calm down." Calcite considered. "We'll just have to hope Zoisite's continued failures distract her majesty from the origin of this new Sailor Warrior. Luckily the costume's different and she's stopped wearing the mask."
"Think that's enough?"
"Our options are fairly limited. I'll head back to England long enough to confirm Sailor V is listed as dead. If I go as Gray I can tie up a few loose ends."
"Get on with it then."
"As you command." Calcite disappeared.
A week later the renegades were meeting at Calcite's home. Azurite looked at him, "So what's up this time?"
"Zoisite's dead, her majesty executed him this afternoon."
"Not to put too fine a point on it, so what? The guy had no redeeming qualities."
Pyrite added, "I guess the rumours were true."
"That Queen Beryl liked him. She executed him rather than giving him the eternal sleep."
"That's one way to look at it. Anyway the reason he got executed was for allowing the Silver Crystal to fall into the Sailor Warriors hands. Sailor Moon appears to be the reincarnation of the Moon Princess."
"As in the person who can use the damn thing and maybe blow the whole Dark Kingdom away?"
Calcite looked at them. "It's a great danger, but this is also our greatest opportunity. The chance to escape from the Dark Kingdom." They all stared at him. "Pyrite, you think you can get the modified gate working?"
"Yeah, it'll work in theory. Once we pass through it we'll be able to live anywhere in the human world. But the only place we'll be able to open a gate to is the zone."
Titanite frowned. "Couldn't we just stay in the zone?"
"Yes. But if the Kingdom's destroyed that means the Sailor Warriors have won. They live in the zone and kill youma on sight. It's not a good environment to stay in."
Azurite looked at him. "So where do we go from the zone?"
"England for starters. I've learned enough of the customs to fit in. It's too far to teleport from Japan so we'll have to use local transport."
"That'll require a lot of human documentation, money and so on."
Calcite smiled, "I'll arrange that. If I gate into Juban and control the right people we'll have all the material we need."
"Couldn't we just use the Stonehenge gate again?"
"Sorry Azura, that only works when you start from the Dark Kingdom."
"Scuse me Cal ..."
"Where do I build the gate? It's got to be somewhere everyone avoids and with masking shift radiation."
"I know just the place."
The Hall of Eternal Sleep was open to everyone. Queen Beryl thought it made a good object lesson. It was one of the most avoided places in the Kingdom. Telepaths who approached the imprisoned tended to go mad. So there was no one to interfere when Calcite, Pyrite and Azurite concealed Pyrite's equipment there.
Azurite looked around, it was the first time she'd been here. There weren't many occupants. You had to really screw up for Queen Beryl to dump you here rather than simply kill you. The newest crystal held a familiar face. She almost felt sorry for Jadeite, all those centuries of holding onto power just to end up as an exhibit. Almost.
"So now what?"
Calcite sighed, "Now? We wait. If we jump before the Sailor Warriors attack Beryl will have us tracked down and killed."
"If they attack, if they win, lot of ifs."
"True. But we've got better odds than any other heretic had. For now we wait."
It was a month later when Kunzite confronted Magnesite. "Listen you little maggot, it's obvious to me Sailor V and Sailor Venus are one and the same. Now I won't bring that little fact to her majesty's attention if you give me a way to use whatever you learned against the Sailor Warriors."
Magnesite summoned Calcite. Cal made a quick calculation of his chances of taking out Kunzite. Realized they stunk and made a quick decision. "There was a policewoman by the name of Katrina DeWitt who was a good friend of Sailor V. Perhaps she knows Sailor V's real name."
"She lives in the zone?'
"She can be brought there."
"If you'll permit me to cross over and make a few phonecalls ..."
Calcite headed for the gate. At least this way the Sailor Warriors would have a chance. He already knew the identity of all five. It had been simple really. On a clandestine visit to Juban a few weeks earlier he'd spotted Minako Aino. From there it was a simple matter of observing her friends and matching them to the profiles of the Sailor Warriors. Hopefully they'd attack the Dark Kingdom before DeWitt got to Juban.
Unfortunately the Sailor Warriors still hadn't located the gate. Without it they couldn't find the Dark Kingdom to counterattack it.
Receiving an anonymous call that Minako was alive and currently operating as Sailor Venus Dewitt had immediately checked the information. Shaken she'd taken vacation time and got the first plane to Tokyo. Alan would have come but she insisted he complete his exams. Shortly after arrival in the zone she'd been possessed by one of Kunzite's youma.
Back in the Kingdom Calcite dropped the items he'd had completed while Earthside. Azurite leafed through the passport, the picture was awful. According to it she was a British citizen who'd entered on a month long visa two weeks earlier. Matching records existed in various databases in both Japan and Britain. It had taken several clandestine trips but he had done it.
"Why two weeks from now?"
"Because Metallia's very close to awakening. Inside of two weeks it'll all be over one way or the other."
Earthside Minako was talking to the possessed Katrina. She'd been choosing topics that didn't concern Alan or why she disappeared. "So, any news about Lord Calcite?"
"Not a thing since you ... disappeared. Gray was sighted twice. One time he rescued a group of hostages in a bank holdup. The other he came to see me."
"Yes. He announced that he didn't like to take the law into his own hands but had too as few people could deal with paranormal menaces. However since Calcite was gone and showed no signs of being replaced he was retiring for the time being. Until the next menace appeared."
Kunzite's telepathic call rippled through her mind. "Forget this nonsense, find out about the other Sailor Warriors!"
But that story's already been told. It ended about as happily as it could. Within a week the Sailor Warriors had relived the destruction of Silver Millenium, killed Kunzite and were about to launch their own assault on the Dark Kingdom.
The renegades had been camping in the Eternal Sleep Chamber since Kunzite died. They knew the Sailor Warriors were coming soon, they wanted to be ready for a fast exit. Several times Calcite had begun talking about making space for a fifth youma, if they found a suitable candidate. Each time Pyrite had told him the gate was attuned for four. If they added extra bodies there was no saying where they'd arrive. If they ever arrived anywhere. Azurite avoided saying anything but she was glad of that fact. Margrave was far too dangerous to either bring along or tell about the gate's existence. She'd be sure to betray their secret to Beryl. Why couldn't Calcite ever recognise Margrave for the menace she was?
There was a loud warbling noise, Pyrite had placed a sensor on the surface at D point to warn of the Warriors arrival. He activated the crystal, it showed the five Warriors standing at D point looking for the entrance to the Kingdom.
Azurite commented, "I will bet those are the first polar explorers to wear miniskirts."
"Not the most practical attire ... hey where's Ti?" Calcite glanced around, he couldn't see his sister.
"She can't have gone far, you know she hates teleporting."
In the throne room Queen Beryl studied the intruders, she seemed amused. Magnesite smiled, this was his moment. Beryl would ask for volunteers to destroy them. He would lead his elite strikeforce to glory. He sent out the telepathic call, "Calcitie, Azurite, Pyrite, join me!"
Nothing happened. He couldn't even sense them. Were they all dead? If they were alive he should have caught a hint of presence. What was going on?
Had Magnesite thought it over he might have realized there was a telepathic blindspot in the Kingdom. The Eternal Sleep Chamber had been blanked to avoid the mental screaming of the sensory deprived inmates from polluting the psi bands.
But Magnesite didn't think of that. He was still scanning when Queen Beryl called for volunteers and the DD Girls took the challenge. His chance for glory gone. How dare they humiliate him like this! Then he sensed the presence at Calcite's home. He teleported there. No one saw him go, the crowd in the audience chamber were all watching the images of the chosen youma taking on the Sailor Warriors.
Titanite found what she'd been looking for. A little earlier she'd realized she'd forgotten her locket. It had been a gift from her brother years ago and contained the only picture of her mother. She could have asked one of the others to teleport home for it but it didn't seem right to endanger them for her mistake. Besides she was tired of being protected all the time. Lots of girls in her tapes had superhuman powers and they didn't take crap from anybody! Of course those were just cartoons and they were about superhumans living among humans, still ... She took a quick look at her anime collection, considered packing it, then pushed the idea aside. Just the necessities. Perhaps when they stopped in Juban she could find original versions instead of the English dubs she'd be watching. Although with neither Japanese or English her native language did it really make a difference? She was heading for the front door when it exploded in her face.
Magnesite strode in. "WHERE IS HE?"
Titanite was stunned by the blast, "What! I don't ..."
Magnesite grabbed her by the throat and shook her, "DON'T GIVE ME THAT YOU LITTLE BITCH, WHERE'S YOUR DAMN BROTHER!" He flung her back down the hallway. Titanite opened her eyes to see Magnesite heading for her. No one else to depend on, just her. She focussed on the area between her hands, a sphere of energy formed. Magnesite noticed and raised a hand at her. Before he could complete the attack her forceball surged forward and slammed him down the hallway. Magnesite slumped by the door. Time to get out of here.
As she passed his body Magnesite woke up. He lashed out and knocked her feet from under her. She hit the floor and felt something grab her hair Then Magnesite slammed her facefirst into the door. It hurt.
She regained consciousness to find Magnesite pinning her against the door. One of his hands gripped her throat, the other held a large knife. He wasn't yelling, his fury had gone from red hot to ice cold. When he was sure she could understand him he said. "It's all your fault isn't it? It was having to watch over you all these years that screwed Calcite up. Well I'm going to solve his little problem. He'll thank me later." He raised the knife, "Feel free to scream."
Titanite closed her eyes and tried to think of something to pray to. The unmistakeable sound of metal into flesh followed.
Titanite opened her eyes, she didn't feel any new pain. Magnesite was standing stock still staring down at the blade emerging from his chest. Calcite stood behind him holding the hilt of the sword. There was a clang as Magnesite dropped his knife. He managed to say "Killed ... me ... for ... a heretic?"
"You protect what you love. I love my sister, I'm also a heretic."
Magnesite made a whining noise and fell over. Titanite began to slump, Calcite caught her. "Let's get the hell out of here!" Lucky he'd guessed right. He could teleport back but Ti didn't handle that well at the best of times. Holding his sister he began to run at his top speed.
Azurite hissed as she saw Ti. "What the hell happened!"
"Magnesite. I just burned all our bridges, he's dead!" So all his evidence against Titanite would be delivered to Beryl shortly.
Pyrite looked away from the crystal ball. "I hate to say it but we may have backed the wrong side." The picture showed Sailor Moon weeping over the remains of Sailor Mars. "She's the only one left."
Calcite managed to repress a curse. "She's the wielder of the Silver Crystal, it can still happen. Stand ready, I'll see if I can speed up Ti's healing." On the screen Queen Beryl summoned Sailor Moon into her presence.
Someone else was looking for Calcite. Margrave had caught his scent heading away as she approached his house. Her powers consisted mainly of her strength, speed and claws but she had a touch of precognition. It was telling her something very bad was about to happen. She had to find Calcite, he'd protect her. She didn't know why he always did, but she knew he would.
The quakes that rocked the Kingdom were the first sign that the final battle had started. Pyrite retuned the crystal to see a Beryl grown to giant size confronting the Moon Princess. It had begun. Calcite managed to shout "TAKE YOUR POSITIONS" before the rumbling drowned out everything. Everyone took their compass point. Titanite took west point, she looked woozy but stood without assistance. Pyrite took east point, Azurite took south point, Calcite took north point. Calcite faced the monitor and watched as they linked hands. The mental link formed, the gate entered standby mode, they waited for Calcite's signal. The crystal showed the escalating battle between light and darkness. The end was near. Calcite faced south so he didn't see Margrave emerge from the north tunnel, Azurite did but quickly flicked her gaze away. It was impossible to hear anything except the crashing of stone. Calcite saw Beryl dissolve before the Silver Crystal's power.
"NOW!" he shouted through the mindlink.
He didn't hear Margrave yell at him to wait, didn't see her leap to join him. He never heard her scream in fury and despair.
The transistion was more unpleasant than he'd ever felt before. Calcite became aware he was lying in an empty park. Azurite was moaning, Pyrite was twitching, Titanite was still. He checked her quickly. Just unconscious, she'd been sick but that was her common reaction to teleporting. This was the placed he'd planted the sensors all those months ago. It was the ideal place to use as reappearance point having been analyzed constantly all this time.
Azurite groaned again and sat up. "I hurt therefore I am. It worked?"
"Well we're here."
"So now what?"
"We pick up our companions and find a hotel. Tomorrow I'll see about getting us a plane to England. But first activate your glamour, blue hair's kind of rare round here". He shifted his from green back to the blonde he'd got used too. Azurite became a redhead.
It was the following afternoon when they boarded the flight to London. Calcite had spent the morning buying them luggage and things to put in it. Thanks to the gold he'd been smuggling into Juban from the Kingdom he had lots of cash stashed in a variety of banks under several aliases. There was another cache waiting in London. Calcite was in a good mood. Everything was under control.
The plane was still climbing when it all fell apart. Calcite recognised the pain. He'd overstayed in London once and felt the pain hit just before he teleported. They were outside the zone and the outside world was still lethal! He grabbed Ti, ripped their seatbelts loose and headed for Azura and Pyr. Pyrite looked lousy, so did Ti, Azurite was still hanging on. Ignoring the stewardesses ordering them to return to their seats he forged a mind link. He teleported dragging the others with him. The disappearance of four passangers rather panicked everyone. So much so that the flight turned back.
Calcite had other worries. They'd reappeared in the park but it wasn't empty now. There had a large crowd watching them. Calcite focussed his mind control powers as never before and broadcast, "YOU DIDN'T SEE ANYTHING UNUSUAL! THERE IS NOTHING REMOTELY INTERESTING ABOUT US! GO ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS!" The crowd broke up, human nature makes people prefer the familiar to the abnormal. Calcite clutched his head and suffered the worst migraine of his entire life. Titanite finished retching and groaned. She really hated teleporting. "What went wrong?", she asked. Nobody answered.
Later, in another hotel, Pyrite had recovered enough to explain. No one was sure if Calcite was listening, he just lay on a bed clutching an icepack to his head. Having to make the desk clerk stop asking about none of them having any luggage hadn't help. Actually they did have luggage but it was in the plane's hold on it's way to England.
Pyrite sighed. "All I can say is I screwed up big time. The Dark Kingdom is gone. Totally gone, as if it never existed in the first place. That threw everything off, including the phase shift field. Bottom line, we're still alien to this world. We can't survive outside the synchronistic zone. Even the field augmenters won't work anymore. Leave the zone and we die."
Azurite looked at him. "So we're stuck here?"
"For the time being. Give me time and I'll figure something out. Someday."
"This is not so bad." Calcite's voice emerged from under the icepack. "Our original need to get out of the zone was based on the presence of the Sailor Warriors. We know four of them are dead. If Sailor Moon escaped when the Kingdom blew I don't know. If she did she should think the youma are extinct."
"So what do we do?"
"When I've recovered I'll fake us a few new identities. We'll keep a low profile and wait for Pyrite to find us a way out of the zone. If everything weird in the world will happen here then it's a good place to get out of. It'll be easier to stay gaijin for the time being. When we understand this society better we can become locals if necessary." Calcite nodded, winced, then said, "I think we'll be all right. The Kingdom is gone, the Sailor Warriors are gone and we remain. There's no reason things shouldn't go smoothly. Now I'm going to heal so don't bother me for the next few hours.
It's a mistake to prophecise with limited information and there was a lot Calcite didn't know. Still he was partially right, things did go smoothly. At least for the following six months.
End of prologue
Next: Six months later.
If you made it all the way through that you must be dreading the length of the story. Don't worry the prologue's the longest piece of it. I wanted to give my characters some background and got a little carried away. You may be saying it bears no resemblance to Sailor V's past as detailed in the manga or the OAVs. This is for the simple reason that I've seen neither of them. The whole genesis of the story was episode 42 of the original Sailor Moon series. It didn't get dubbed which was a shame. Anyway it dealt with the Minako-Alan-Katrina triangle. It got me wondering if she was shallow enough to spend months in England killing time with Alan while the other Sailors faced Jadeite, Nephrite, Zoisite and all their minions. This combined with the idea that maybe all youma weren't evil. So I designed the DKR (Dark Kingdom Renegades) and the result was this story. Got a comment? Email me at MARK.LATUS@MSVU.CA
So what happens in part 1? Everybody's happy and there's romance in the air. Too bad the six months of peace and quiet just ran out. There's some people coming to town no one expected to see again.
Sailor Moon : Refugees
by Mark Latus
A five part fanfic
Based on characters and situations created by Naoka Takeuchi
Part 1 - Gray Areas
Summer in Juban Town. It was a pleasant wednesday afternoon and Calcite had decided to drive by the school and offer his sister a ride home. At least ostentatiously that was his reason. Actually he was hoping to accidently run into Mai and invite her to dinner. Mai Saito was a teacher at his sister's school, they'd been going out together for the past few weeks.
Of course she didn't know him as Calcite, a renegade youma from the now defunct Dark Kingdom. Shortly after arrival (and the realization they were stuck here for the time being) he'd set up their identities. As far as anyone in Japan knew they were British citizens on indefinite work visas (with the exception of Titanite who was far too young). It's amazing what you can accomplish with the ability to control minds. Calcite didn't particularly enjoy brainwashing people but was a firm believer in survival. Covering their tracks seemed the best way to do that.
The renegades had chosen names that let them use the same nicknames they were used too. Mai knew Calcite as Calvin Hobbes, he'd based the name on a comic strip he'd read and enjoyed during his time in England. His sister was now known as Titania, though her friends generally called her Ti. The name was explained as being the result of a mother overly fond of Shakespeare.
Cal noticed a billboard on the right. Azurite's new career was going nicely and hadn't required any intervention on his part. As a model she could use the name Azure without attracting comment or even needing a last name. There had been the somewhat ironic suggestions that she should dye her red hair blue to match her name. Ironic because that was its natural color. They'd all made a few modifications in their appearances. Ti was now a brunette and Cal was a blond, it was a lot easier than having to explain green hair. Though his ponytail attracted a few comments.
Pyrite was now known as Piram Troy, a name attributed to a father who'd been a professor specializing in ancient greek history. According to their story Pyr was a writer and didn't need to work outside the house. Which was good cover for him to stay home and work on a way to let them live outside the synchronistic zone.
The six months since their arrival had been probably the happiest times of their lives. Certainly the easist. No more continually acting like a mean bastard/bitch in order to stay above suspicion. No more keeping Ti hidden so she wouldn't get burned for acting human. Ti was adapting well to her new freedom, he'd been afraid she wouldn't be able to cope after years of near isolation. The only problem as he saw it was her obsession with those stupid cartoons. When asked why she wasn't getting interested in boys like other girls her age she'd replied that she definitely wasn't like other girls. That was true enough. Actually the only thing that really concerned him about this anime fetish was the worry that she'd start emulating the heroines and use her powers in school or in public. Still at heart Cal thought she was too sensible to do that.
The past six months hadn't been without bad points. The biggest shock had come near the start when he'd enrolled Ti in school. After all wherever they lived Ti was going to spend her life surrounded with humans. It was vital she learned to interact socially with her new peer group. So he'd arranged the story that he was his sister's only living relative (almost true except for cousin Pyrite) and when he'd been transferred to Japan she had to come with him. Calvin Hobbes had a job at a multinational bank, again he'd arranged it via mind manipulation. The funds he'd stockpiled wouldn't last forever and he needed something to explain his presence in this country.
At any rate shortly after Titania Hobbes began school her brother had recognised one of the other pupils. Minako Aino. Alias Sailor Venus, alias Sailor V, alias the girl whose burned and frozen corpse should be decorating a glacier near the North Pole.
He'd barely avoiding panicking. Calming down he'd remembered that as Sailor V she'd never seen Lord Calcite's face or heard his real voice. But how could she be here?
He'd never found out. Titania had faced some bad moments when introduced to Minako. She hadn't recognised her but she'd been told Minako had been on an exchange trip to England so they should have lots to talk about. Ti had never even set foot in England. While her translator gave her a London accent all she knew about the country was the material she'd been made to memorize. Fortunately Minako avoided discussing her time in England. When asked about it she was very vague. As if she'd been told she'd been there but didn't remember any details of her stay.
Calcite had begun looking around and learned that the other Sailor Warriors were still alive. Usagi Tsukino wasn't such a big deal. They'd warped out of the Kingdom when she obliterated Beryl and had no idea if she had or hadn't survived. However the other three, Ami Mizuno, Rei Hino and Makoto Kino had definitely died. Yet all three were alive despite their fatal experiences at D point. Curiously there was little or no contact between the five of them. There were also no sightings of any of the Sailor Warriors. Calcite had thought it over and decided that they'd somehow been reincarnated a second time. Which made avoiding them at all costs an even better idea. Who wants enemies who can't even be gotten rid of by killing them?
It was more than a little odd that they'd all be reborn the same age and identities as their former existences. It wasn't the way he understood reincarnation was supposed to work. Frankly it seemed more like a copout you'd use in a kid's show to avoid discussing the reality of death. Regardless if they'd either disbanded after rebirth or just didn't remember being Sailor Warriors seemed irrelevant. As long as they weren't around the renegades felt a lot more secure.
Three months ago that had all changed. Suddenly Juban had again been hit by a series of life energy draining creatures and the Sailor Warriors had reappeared. Both fearing a youma hunt beginning and wondering at who was behind this Calcite had spent some time tracking the attacks. He'd been caught in one of them but it hadn't affected him as it was draining human energy. He had however faked being drained. At any rate he'd got close enough to sense that the source wasn't youma based but something different. In fact something alien to this world. The fact that out of the whole planet the aliens had chosen Juban confirmed Pyrite's synchronistic zone theory to Calcite. Everything truly abnormal would happen in this place. So it wasn't the ideal environment to live in.
That had been wrapped up a few weeks earlier. Exactly what had happened Calcite wasn't sure but an apartment building had been condemned for structural damage shortly after he'd sensed the source depart. Witnesses had talked about giant plants, vines and trees though there were no traces of these in the building. Eventually the media had lost interest and the matter was forgotten. Everything had been quiet since then which was fine with Calcite.
Calcite parked the car and got out, school was just letting out and the courtyard was full. He spotted Ti, then he saw Mai emerge from the building. She recognised him and smiled. He smiled back and headed towards her. At which point everything began to fall apart.
Lights flickered about twenty feet above the schoolyard and a man appeared. He didn't fall, just stood in midair and smiled down at the crowd staring upwards. Light purple uniform, short blond hair and very cold eyes. Calcite recognised him, any youma would. Across the schoolyard Titanite stared upwards with a shocked expression. He almost whispered the name. Jadeite!
Jadeite didn't seem to know he couldn't possibly be here. He just looked down and said, "Good afternoon ladies. I have decided subtlety doesn't work. Therefore ..." A glowing sphere formed above his outstretched hand. "I'm taking your energy!"
The sphere flared blinding almost everyone in the yard. Both Calcite and Titanite saw something invisible to human eyes. Energy flowing from the thirty humans nearest to the sphere. Those affected crumpled to the ground and both Jadeite and the sphere vanished. Mai was one of those to fall, Cal rushed to her. She was unconscious, more than that she was comatose! He could sense the massive weakness brought on by major lifeforce loss. Not much more would have been terminal. "Somebody phone an ambulance. If anyone knows where there's blankets fetch them. These people are in shock, we have to keep them warm!" Ti headed for the phones, so did Minako who'd emerged from the corner she'd ducked behind in order to transform. The attacker had vanished before she could become Sailor Venus. She didn't know who he was but that outfit had been far too close to Zoisite and Kunzite's.
"Yes, that's him!" The image on Ami's computer was a perfect match for the creep.
Ami nodded at the picture she'd pulled up after Minako's description. "Jadeite! I thought we'd seen the last of him."
"You know he reminds me of my old ..." Everyone turned to stare at Makoto "...uhh never mind."
"Never date the enemy." Minako glanced around the room. After the ambulances had picked up the injured and the police had taken statements she'd called an emergency meeting at the temple. Makoto was studying the picture, like her she'd never met the first youma boss. Both Rei and Ami looked like they'd hoped never to see the guy again. Usagi was over in the corner reading one of Rei's manga. Everything seemed more or less normal. Luna and Artemis were arguing over if it could really have been Jadeite considering the destruction of the Dark Kingdom. All Minako could say was what she'd seen.
"Hey turn the TV up!" Minako had spotted the picture of her school behind the newscaster. Luna slapped the remote and they all watched the screen. All it said was that twenty eight schoolgirls and two teachers had been incapacitated by an unexplained incident. First two students were interviewed, one talked about UFOs and the other claimed demons had attacked. The were followed by a sensible sounding foreigner who claimed there had been bright flash and those affected had collapsed. They cut back to the newscaster who said police were investigating the possibility of a lightning strike.
"Guess that last guy didn't see anything."
"He did. He was closer to Jadeite than I was. He probably thought he'd sound crazy if he described what he saw."
"Those others certainly sounded nuts." Makoto turned the TV back down. "Who was that guy anyway?"
"I forget his name, he's Ms. Saito's new boyfriend."
"English. His sister Titania's in my school. She seems nice."
"Why's she over here?"
"Her brother's job. He got transferred to Japan so she had to come with him. Their parents are dead so he's her guardian."
Meanwhile Usagi looked up from her manga. "Hey whatever happened to Jadeite anyway?"
Ami answered, "That's a good question. All we know is that after the fight at the airport he disappeared and never came back. Not long after that Nephrite showed up."
Luna cut in, "He'd failed Queen Beryl. She must have destroyed him."
Artemis coughed. "We don't know that do we? For all we know she imprisoned him somewhere. Perhaps somewhere outside the Dark Kingdom. Somewhere he's just escaped from."
"But why steal energy? It won't do him any good and with the Kingdom gone there's nowhere to send it."
Rei slapped a fist on the table. "Maybe it's a challenge to us. If so we're ready for him. After all me and Ami beat him all the time and that was before our powers increased."
"Hey!" Usagi had been listening and hadn't liked Rei's comment. "It was the three of us who beat him that last time."
"Yeah, I suppose you were in the background somewhere."
"Background! I was fighting Jadeite alone while you just thought Mars was a candy bar!"
"I knew it was a planet! Anyway you kept getting lucky and even with that luck you wouldn't have won if it wasn't for Mamoru!"
Luna looked at Artemis, "I think this meeting is about to degenerate."
Artemis nodded, "I sometimes remind myself that not long ago the fate of the entire world was in their hands. Then I ask myself how the heck did we survive?"
Both cats sighed.
At a small house not far away the incident was also under discussion. "Look I was close enough to sense his aura. He didn't just look like Jadeite, he was Jadeite!"
Azurite looked at Titanite, "Ti, you sensed it was Jadeite?"
She shrugged, "How should I know? I never met Jadeite in person so I wouldn't recognise his aura. It definitely looked like him though."
"But it's impossible!"
"Maybe not!" Pyrite was scrawling equations (or possibly doodles) on a notepad. "Remember where we set up our warpgate?"
"In the Eternal Sleep chamber!" Calcite could see the scenario. "There were quakes when we left, one of them could have bounced the crystal holding Jadeite into the gate while it was still active. Could that have worked?"
"Possibly. There would have been a very brief period after we used the gate it could still dimensionally shift objects. However there'd be no guarantees where they'd arrive."
Although she didn't mention it Azurite saw a slightly different scenario. All hell is breaking loose, Margrave sees Calcite escape with the three of us. She goes berserk and throws the nearest thing available after us. She was right next to Jadeite's crystal when we vanished. Since she was the only one who knew Margrave was present in the chamber she kept quiet. Calcite had felt guilty enough about not bringing her along. Why make him feel worse?
What she did say was, "OK so say the dimensional transit breaks the crystal open and frees Jadeite. That was six months ago, why show up now?"
Calcite nodded, "And if transit didn't crack the crystal how'd he get free. For that matter a seven foot long crystal with a man embedded in it would be bound to draw attention."
Pyrite shrugged. "I don't know everything. What I will say is that it might not have been six months for Jadeite. He might have experienced temporal displacement so he only arrived a little while ago. Alternately the crystal never left subspace. It phased almost into this world then the gate collapsed. The subspace forces slowly eroded the crystal freeing Jadeite. His own powers would have been sufficent to shift him from subspace to this world. Remember those pocket continuums he created? He's got very good space/time manipulation abilities."
"Lucky thing he didn't know how to use them properly."
"Good point cousin."
Azurite shrugged. "It'll do as a hypothesis. Frankly how he's here isn't as important as what is he doing? He's gonna start the Warriors youma hunting again which is not healthy for us. Why the hell is he stealing human energy anyway? It's useless to him and with the Kingdom gone there's nowhere to take it."
Calcite nodded. "She's right. Jadeite collected energy for Metallia's resurrection. With Metallia gone what's the point?"
"You're both assuming something." Pyrite looked worried. "You're both assuming Jadeite is acting rationally. He spent months in total sensory deprivation, or almost total if it's true the sleepers can still see. There is a very strong possibility the experience has driven him insane. Maybe he thinks if he collects enough power Queen Beryl will forgive him. Maybe he's just collecting energy because he thinks that's what he does. Maybe he just thinks it's fun. Who knows?"
"A madman with the power of Jadeite?" Azurite felt something cold touch her. "What do we do?"
"Safest thing to do is stay low and wait for the Sailor Warriors to take him out." Calcite decided to move onto another matter that troubled him. "Pyr I'd like you to join me on a trip to the hospital."
"What's wrong Cal? Beside the obvious I mean."
"I don't know exactly. But while I was holding Mai I sensed something different. As if she'd suffered more than mere energy drain."
"Energy fields are my speciality. I'll pick up a few odds and ends and be ready in a few minutes."
"Just what is wrong with them?" They'd almost forgotten Titanite was still there, listening to every word they said.
"I don't know yet. But if we can help them we will." There was something he should have asked earlier. "Were any of your friends ...?"
"No. But it's the sort of thing that should have ended with the Dark Kingdom."
"You're right. But I'll bet it's finished before long. Jadeite couldn't beat three Sailor Warriors. There's five of them now and they've gained both experience and power. It should be over soon." Almost a shame considering how few of are left. Until you remember that Jadeite's a total bastard.
At the hospital not long afterwards a nurse was telling Calcite visiting hours were over. Also given the severity of the victims conditions hospital policy was to only allow relatives to visit them.
"I'd just like to drop off these flowers. There's no harm in that surely?"
The nurse felt her resistance fade. After all what could it hurt? "Five minutes, no more."
"Thank you, you're very kind." The glow left Calcite's eyes and he headed for the Critical Ward. Pyrite followed him. Behind them the nurse wondered why those purple eyes had been so fascinating.
Calcite set the flowers and the vase by Mai's bed and glanced around. All clear. Pyrite pulled two crystal rods from his jacket transferred them to his left hand. He passed them over Mai's body and glanced to the amythest held in his right hand. He swore quietly and repeated his actions. They'd been there four minutes when Pyrite slid his equipment away and said, "Let's get out of here." The two of them unobtrusively exited the hospital. Calcite was about to demand an explanation when Pyrite told him, "Wait until we get home, the others need to know about this."
About twenty minutes later they were back at the house they were renting. They could have teleported back in seconds but preferred not to, that could draw unwelcome attention from energy sensitives. Pyrite made a note to improve the home shields.
"It's bad Cal, real bad." Pyrite had everyone's attention. "Those people aren't just drained they're still being tapped!"
"What! You mean Jadeite's attacked them again?"
"Nothing so simple. His attack didn't exactly suck out energy. It implanted those affected with an energy matrix. The matrix drained their energy and transmitted it to Jadeite's receiver. Namely that energy sphere you saw him using. The thing is those matrixes are still implanted in the victims. They draw enough power from the hosts to sustain themselves then drain and store any extra energy the hosts build up. If Jadeite passes near the hospital the matrixes will transmit him the stored energy then begin the whole cycle again."
Calcite thought this through. "So you're saying as long as those matrixes are in place they'll stay in a comatose state. They can't recover because it draws off all their extra energy. Can you remove them?"
"No, messing with the matrixes would probably kill the hosts. But it's worse than that. You see the matrixes aren't perfect. They're gradually decaying. This means they draw more power to slow the disintegration and maintain themselves. Which means the victims don't stay locked at the same energy level instead they gradually get weaker. Eventually the matrixes will drain too much power and ..."
"They'll die. They'll all die!" Calcite's voice was flat.
There was a silence broken by Azurite saying "Ok things look bad but the Warriors know Jadeite's out there, right? According to Cal Sailor V witnessed the attack. So when they take out Jadeite it's all over."
"Yes, but not the way we want." Pyrite looked grim.
"You'd better explain that cousin", Calcite tried to avoid looking edgy.
"I may be wrong but I think when Jadeite gets zapped the distabalizing energy sphere will feedback to the implanted matrixes. They may go crazy and suck the hosts dry or the sudden energy shock might kill the victims."
Another silence. This one broken by Calcite saying, "Is there any way to safely deactivate the matrixes?"
"Yes. From the readings I got I could construct a tool to make Jadeite's receiver shut down the matrixes safely. The problem would be getting close enough to use it."
"I've got an idea!" Everyone turned to look at Titanite. "You know who the Sailor Warriors are, right? So just phone them anonymously, explain the situation and leave this tool thing somewhere they can find it."
"Not a bad idea Ti. The only problem was why would they believe us? Even if they did they'd wonder about who knew their real names and knew enough about Jadeite to construct the shutdown key. After they dealt with Jadeite they'd start looking for answers." Ti sighed, she couldn't argue with her brother's logic. He was a lot better than her at thinking up worse case scenarios. "But we have to do something." Azurite and Pyrite started trying to come up with alternatives, Titanite just watched her brother. He'd steepled his hands and closed his eyes, signs she recognised as meaning he was deep in thought. He opened his eyes and smiled. "Of course, it's so obvious! Pyr make the tool and modify one of the youma power trackers. I'll need both when I go hunting Jadeite!"
He headed for his room. Pyrite headed for the basement where his hidden lab was located. Azurite stood flabbergasted for a moment then strode after Calcite. "Wait a damned minute!" Titanite trailed after Azure in confusion. What was big brother up too after all these months of preaching low profile?
Calcite rooted through his closet. He'd dumped it in here months ago, there hadn't seemed to be any need of it. Ah! here it was. Calcite turned around and came face to face with Azurite. "Cal are you out of your mind?! Look I'm sorry about Mai but getting all four of killed is a little much! You can't beat Jadeite and you're risking exposing us all to the Sailor Warriors!"
"You're right that would be crazy but I'm not planning to tackle Jadeite alone. I'll track him and wait for the Sailor Warriors to attack. When they've weakened him I'll move in and destroy the sphere."
"If they don't think you're a threat and blast you they'll certainly want to know who you are!"
"But they'll already know. Sailor Venus will tell them." Calcite strapped his wristband in place and activated it. His clothing shimmered and changed. His glasses shifted and became a mask. Both his hair and eyes became as grey as the outfit he now wore. His figure became bulkier as the grey bodyarmour formed. "She'll recognise her old ally Gray, the guy who kept helping her against Lord Calcite. A man who already knows something about fighting Youma!"
Azurite just stared, Titanite applauded. "Cal, that's brilliant!" Then she added, "When you meet the Sailor Warriors can you get me their autographs?"
After a moment Azurite said grudgingly, "Well I suppose it makes sense." She sighed, "Who'd have thought you'd be using that identity again."
Half an hour later Calcite was listening to Pyrite explain how to use the shutdown key. The actual key was an enchanted pink crystal rod, similar to the ones Pyrite had used in his examination of the afflicted. "... so once it's activated you've got thirty seconds to get it into the sphere. It'll need at least another twenty to do the job. So don't activate it prematurely. And don't take any unnecessary risks OK?"
Calcite nodded and slipped the rod into a pocket on his thigh. Azurite asked, "So how do you find him anyway?"
"Pyrite thinks this tracker will pick up the sphere's energy signature. I'll try teleporting around the city looking for a signal. Then I'll just have to track Jadeite and stay with him until the Sailor Warriors show up." Pyrite had added a plastic shell and various lights to make the tracker look technological rather than magical.
"If they show up."
"They will. Jadeite's not one to stay undercover long. The warriors are very good at showing up anywhere their opponents do."
"Well good luck. Try and remember we need you so don't do anything too heroic."
Titanite added, "Just make sure and come back. OK big brother."
"I will. Now don't you have homework." She gave him a look that said, "At a time like this?" "You'll still have school tomorrow. So get too it!" She stuck her tongue out then headed for her room. Hopefully that'd keep her too occupied to worry.
Calcite slipped away silently. He intended to do the first teleport some distance from the house. Just in case the Sailor Warriors could track them. Azurite turned to Pyrite and sighed, "I should have known there'd be trouble after Cal got involved with a human."
He snorted and answered, "You're never satisfied."
She considered treating this as a double endentre but decided not to bother. "Meaning?"
"Meaning our first couple of months here you were complaining about him moping over having left Margrave behind. Now he's found someone else you're unhappy that he's not miserable. As for the 'getting involved with a human' part what was the alternative? Since the youma population was reduced to the four of us the only unattached female is his sister. Which brings up one of the few taboos that the Dark Kingdom shared with the humans. So the only other alternative was celibacy which Cal isn't cut out for. Someday Ti will pick up a human lover. After all what's the alternative?"
It occurred to Pyrite he might have just said too much. "There is one alternative you could suggest", he thought. "Namely that we break up and me and Ti become a couple. After all by our traditions a love affair between cousins isn't incest. Then you and Cal become an item thus keeping all our sexlives confined to our own species. The question is, do you still want him?"
Pyrite waited nervously but all Azure said was, "You're right of course. It's inevitable really." Pyrite felt himself relax a bit, he was just a little too insecure. He'd have to watch that in future.
Meanwhile over at the temple the meeting was breaking up. Actually in terms of being a Sailor Warrior strategy session it had broken up quite a while back. It never failed to amaze Luna and Artemis how many totally irrelevant topics they could bring up. Rei and Usagi seemed to be enemies again. It never lasted long but neither did the truce periods. As everyone headed out to the courtyard those two avoided each other. At least they weren't doing the "dueling tongues" thing.
They'd made absolutely no progress on the Jadeite matter. Still to be fair Luna had to admit they had absolutely no idea where he was or what he was up too.
That was when Rei suddenly stiffened and they heard the screams. Rei stared in the direction of the sound and shouted, "I've felt this aura before! It's Jadeite! MARS POWER, MAKE UP! What are you waiting for!" Sailor Mars dashed off toward the source of the yelling. The others triggered their transformations and followed.
About two kilometres away, feeling something of a fool, Calcite studied the blank detector. Suddenly it hummed to life. Jackpot! For a moment Calcite concentrated to remember his designated teleport point in that area. Then he vanished to reappear about 50 metres from the source. Sticking to the shadows he drew closer.
Jadeite stood in the middle of a collapsed crowd of humans. From the outfits he'd just ambushed a college baseball team heading back from practice. The sphere whirled above his left hand. It glowed brighter than it had earlier.
"Only the slothful seek to deprive youth of exercise and energy. Jadeite you should have stayed vegetating on a couch. On behalf of Mars I will lynch you!"
Jadeite smiled, "Sailor Mars. I'd been hoping to meet you again. By the way that speech made absolutely no sense."
"You think it's easy coming up with these things on the spur of the moment?"
"Hey, I do the speeches!" Usagi arrived followed by Ami. Makoto and Minako had accidently collided on the temple steps and tumbled the rest of the way down. They were fine but it slowed them.
"You weren't here. Besides you'd just say something corny."
"Like you didn't?"
"Compared to you I'm the most eloquent girl in town!"
"You can talk this over after Jadeite's defeated!" Ami's voice brought the situation back. They turned to face their foe.
Jadeite watched them with an amused expression. "Sailors Moon, Mercury and Mars. I've been hoping I'd see you again. I owe you three a debt of vengeance which I'm only too glad to ... WHAT THE HELL!" Makoto and Minako had arrived. "This is impossible! There's only three Sailor Warriors. Who are you?"
"Our cue I think."
"I'm the warrior of thunder and lightning. I strike like a hurricane and I'm strong as a typhoon. Sailor Jupiter at your service!"
"I'm the warrior of love and power. I first appeared as Sailor V but my real name is Sailor Venus!"
"And on behalf of our respective planets ..."
"...we will punish you."
Jadeite didn't look scared. He did look annoyed. "You Sailor Warriors are like cockroaches. Every time I turn around more of you show up! Well I'll just have to squash a few bugs!"
From the shadows Calcite watched and waited. It was about to begin. Jadeite levitated about two metres straight up. His hands glowed with power.
"Squash this! SUPREME THUNDER DRAGON!"
"CRESENT BEAM SHOWER"
The combined lighting construct and energy beam surged toward Jadeite. If it had struck the fight should have been over. If it had struck. He was gone before it was halfway there. As the attack tore through the space Jadeite had occupied the two Warriors sensed something behind them. As they began turning Jadeite's force beams slammed into them. Both were thrown semiconscious halfway down the block.
"SHABON SPRAY!" Mercury's attack formed a fog around Jadeite. OK while he lost his bearings Rei could ... A hand closed on her shoulder and Jadeite smiled at her. "That old trick again? You must think I'm a complete idiot." Electricity flowed from his hand and Ami screamed.
"Rei do something!"
"Stop yelling Usa...Sailor Moon. You're distracting me!" Rei tried to work out a way to blast Jadeite without hitting Ami. She couldn't, not while Jadeite was that close. Damnit how come Jadeite was suddenly using his powers so effectively?
"I'll stop him. MOON TIARA ACTION!" The tiara headed straight for Jadeite's head. His arm moved and Ami was swept into its' path. "NOSTOP RIGHTNOW!" The tiara froze in place about an arm's length from Ami's face. It stopped spinning and its glow faded. The tiara dropped to the sidewalk. Jadeite smiled and tossed the unconscious Ami toward Jupiter and Venus. She sprawled over them creating a small pile of short skirted females.
Jadeite smiled. "Three down, two to go. Your move brats!"
Calcite was getting worried. This wasn't the way he'd expected it to go. Jadeite seemed to have acquired the ability to teleport instantly to any place he wanted. No concentration, no delay period just there one instant gone the next. He was using it to devestating effect. What the hell was he supposed to do. Help the Sailor Warriors? Ridiculous, Jadeite would take him apart. You're a survivor not a hero, remember that.
Rei wasn't wasting her opportunity. "FIRE SOUL BIRD!" The flame construct soared towards Jadeite. As it did she spun around and screamed "FIRE SOUL!" Had Jadeite materialized behind her it might have worked. He materialized on her left side and his force beam cannoned her onto the pile of fallen Sailor Warriors.
"And then there was one. No tiara, no weapon, right?"
Things have changed creep. Usagi reached out, her hand sliding briefly into a pocket dimension and emerging with the Moon Sceptre. I stand by my friends Jadeite. "MOON PRINCESSAHHHHHH!"
Jadeite's energy pulse slammed the sceptre out of her grip, nearly breaking her wrist in the process. It spun through the air. Jadeite vanished and reappeared by the sceptre he'd knocked flying. He grabbed it and looked at it. "This is some sort of weapon yes?" Sailor Moon didn't answer, she was busy going over her very limited options. "Fine, die silent then!" Jadeite's right hand glowed and Usagi slammed into the Sailor heap, dazing Makoto and Minako who were starting to recover.
"Time to finish this!" Jadeite began floating toward his enemies. Calcite was trying to decide if he should intervene when something flew towards Jadeite. He twitched slightly and the object sailed by. The rose embedded itself in the concrete and Jadeite glanced towards the source.
"Why don't you pick on someone your own size?" How the masked figure had got onto the lamppost unnoticed was a mystery. Jadeite looked very surprised.
"Tuxedo Mask!? Didn't I kill you?"
"Not even close."
"Damn. That was the one good point about that fiasco at the airport. Ah well, if at first you don't suceed ..." Jadeite surged towards Tuxedo then vanished. His opponent extended his cane and spun around. He hit nothing. Jadeite materialized above him and fired downwards. Minus his hat Mamoru slammed downward just missing the Warriors. Jadeite smirked, "I'd like to drag this out, repay you fools for all the trouble you caused me. But I have things to do so I'll have to end this quickly. Did you idiots truly think you could beat me! I am Jadeite, first of the four. I survived the Big Sleep! If I could do that how could anything stop me!"
Minako tried to struggle out from under the pile. If only her head would stop spinning maybe she could hit the creep. Jadeite hovered above them, the sphere orbited his left hand which held the sceptre. Flames wreathed his right hand. "Play with fire and you get burned. Goodbye."
The fire surged forward and Minako instinctively closed her eyes. Then Jadeite screamed. She opened them to see Jadeite involuntarily jerk his hand away from them. The fire washed over a mailbox but didn't hit anyone. A long thin blade protuded from Jadeite's wrist. About ten metres from them stood a figure she recognised. His hands were full of more of the knives and he held them ready. "Gray?" she wondered.
Jadeite snarled at the figure, "Who are you?"
Jadeite snarled and directed a force pulse at the figure. Gray leapt from the spot before it hit, filling the air with blades as he moved. Several headed for Jadeite and bounced away. Force shield.
As he jumped Calcite wondered if he'd finally gone over the edge. It would have been smarter to let Jadeite fry the Sailor Warriors then attack. Oh who the hell was he kidding? He couldn't just stand by and watch them burn. There were times a lot more ruthlessness would have been a definite survival trait.
Jadeite wasn't teleporting, maybe the pain from the injury blocked him. Or maybe he'd temporarily exhausted that power. Either way Calcite had to destroy the sphere and get away fast. He couldn't activate the blade while Jadeite's shield was in place. However Jadeite couldn't use his full powers through the shield. So ...
Jadeite dropped his shield to blast the intruder. Suddenly the blade in his wrist glowed and blue fire crawled over Jadeite's body. He screamed, dropped the sceptre and fell out of the sky. As he did Calcite pulled out the rod and activated it. He jumped and landed on Jadeite's back pinning his left wrist. Calcite punched the rod into the sphere and held it there. There was a warbling noise and the sphere began to fade from visibility.
Jadeite howled and heaved Calcite off him. He surged upwards to confront Calcite and saw Sailor Venus stand up. Behind her Sailor Jupiter got to her knees. The other Sailors were also moving. He glared at Calcite and snarled, "You destroyed my beautiful toy. You will suffer for that. At the time of my choosing!" Jadeite vanished. This teleport took seconds to accomplish, his figure fading from solid to transluscent to gone. Two objects remained behind on the place he'd stood. Calcite stooped to look at them. His pulserate skyrocketed as he recognised one of them. He was able to slid it into the pocket along with Pyrite's rod.
"What is it?" The question came from Sailor Venus. Currently the most together of the Warriors. Jupiter was wincing but standing up. Mercury had staggered halfway upright and Mars was leaning against a telephone pole for support. Sailor Moon had crawled over to Tuxedo Mask and was fussing over him.
Gray tossed the object to Minako. She barely managed to catch it. A rough greenish crystal. In his normal Gray monotone he said, "I'm no expert but I'd guess that's a chunk of jadeite. Some sort of calling card."
"Oh? Sailor Moon didn't mention he did that. But what are you doing here Gray? Not that we don't mind the help."
"You know me, do I know you?"
"I'm Sailor Venus." No reaction. "I used to be Sailor V."
"Oh." He shrugged. "I heard you were dead."
How could he possibly know what happened at D point? Then Minako realised he didn't, he was talking about Sailor V's apparent death."
"The bomb missed me but I decided to abandon that identity and become Sailor Venus."
"That explains the lack of a body. Although general consensus was it probably dissolved."
"Everyone you fought did."
"But they were youma, I'm not."
"You're also not a normal teenager."
"You're not that normal yourself!"
"I never said I was."
"Venus who is this guy?" Makoto came forward to join Minako.
"Sailor Jupiter this is Gray. He's a superhero I met in England. Gray these are Sailors Jupiter, Mars, Mercury and that's Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask over there."
Everyone began saying hello and thanking him for his intervention. Gray raised a hand to cut them off and said, "I'm not here to socialize. There's work to be done." With that he turned and left in a series of superhuman bounds. He was out of sight very soon.
Venus was the only one of them not surprised. "Same old Gray. Never relaxes, never smiles."
"Kind of a rude guy." Rei winced and massaged an aching knee.
"Still we needed his help." Ami took the stone from Minako and examined it. "He was right, this is jadeite."
"Jadeite's a rock?" Usagi was helping Mamoru up, she sounded puzzled.
"Actually jadeite, nephrite, zoisite and kunzite are all minerals. It didn't seem relevant to the generals so I never mentioned it before."
"Oh. Hey look at Makoto!" Sailor Jupiter was staring off in the direction Gray had disappeard. "Here we go again."
After a moment she turned back to face her friends and said, "You know its funny but ..." They waited "...he doesn't look a thing like my old boyfriend." Everybody facefaulted. She continued, "Anyway I've decided to give up on older men. There's something wrong with older men who chase schoolgirls." Both Usagi and Mamoru started looking very uncomfortable. Jupiter quickly amended, "Of course it's different if it's something fated centuries ago. I mean that's a whole different ballgame."
Speaking of which the baseball team began reviving. "Let's get out of here. Luna and Artemis will be wondering what happened." The six limped off.
Meanwhile Calcite had arrived home and given everyone the good news. If he'd succeeded why was he so upset? "What's wrong Cal?"
Calcite didn't answer his sister directly. He reverted his mask to a pair of glasses (he didn't need glasses, he just wore them for image) and adjusted them. "Ti you wanted to see the Sailor Warriors in action?" She nodded. "OK, you know these function as a recorder for everything I see?" An old gimmick for reviewing human behaviour. "Well they recorded tonight's fight. I've set them for playback, just hook them into the crystal ball and you can watch it." Ti tore down to the laboratory.
Azurite asked, "So what's so bad you don't want Ti to know about it?"
"I told you Jadeite left a chunk of his namesake behind?" She nodded. "Remember that mineral guidebook?"
"Of course." It had felt strange discovering they all had rocks sharing their names.
"Jadeite dropped two stones. I managed to hide the second before the Sailor Warriors noticed. Take a look." He pulled the white stone from the pocket and dropped it on the table. Azurite picked it up.
There was something familiar about it but ... OH SHIT. "This is a piece of calcite isn't it?" He nodded. "Sonofa ... he knows who you are."
Calcite shook his head, "It's more than that. This isn't a psychoplasm construct it's the real thing. Which means ..."
Pyrite broke in, "Which means he brought it with him. He expected you to show up and wanted you to know he knew your real identity." Other things clicked. "The attack on the school ... Mai was the target so you'd be sure to be drawn in." Calcite nodded, he'd thought this through on the way home. "But why?"
Pyrite had just asked the question Calcite couldn't answer. "I don't know. Is it a threat to expose us to the Sailor Warriors? A challenge to battle? Blackmail? Work for me or your secret is gone? The whim of a madman? I don't know!" He sighed, "For now all we can do is wait and see what happens next.
Downstairs Titanite watched the Sailor Warriors getting trashed. Not a good thing, lucky big brother showed up. It looked like the Sailor Warriors needed some backup. Which gave her an idea.
Elsewhere and some time later Jadeite chuckled. Phase one was almost complete, just one last loose end. He reached toward the slab and felt something catch. He raised his hand and saw the blade protuding. Ah yes he'd almost forgotten that. His eyes glowed and the wound widened. With nothing to grip the blade slipped out and fell to the floor. There was no blood. Jadeite picked up the blade with his good hand and held it up. He concentrated and it reverted to the psychoplasm Calcite had sculpted into a knife. With no shape to hold it the plasm disrupted and dispersed. Jadeite studied his wrist. The wound began growing closed. In a minute it was good as new.
Jadeite's lair was filled with stalactites, stalagmites and slabs of crystal. All of which made the phone sitting across from him especially incongruous. He glanced at the number he'd written down and lifted the handset. As he punched in the number he made a minor adjustment to his larynx. Somebody picked up the phone at the other end.
"Hello, Aino residence." Excellent it was her.
"Minako, how nice to hear your voice again."
"Who is this please?"
"I'm sorry should I have addressed you as Sailor V?"
Silence on the other end broken by, "Who is this!"
"Excuse me, I forgot. It's Sailor Venus these days isn't it."
"WHO ARE YOU!"
"You don't recognise my voice? And after all the fun we had in England."
Minako answered the mock sorrow with a flat declaration of, "Calcite!"
"Lord Calcite but that's close enough."
"What do you want?"
"Oh nothing really. Just to let you know I'm in town and I might look up an old friend. Maybe meet your parents."
"Stay away from my family or I'll kill you!"
"You've already tried that remember? It didn't work. I'll see you later." He hung up. Phase one was now complete.
Jadeite crossed to the mirror and stood before it. He studied his features and then watched them change. His face shifted and his height increased. His uniform developed epuelettes, his hair shifted to a dark brown and grew over his shoulders. "Excellent!" he exclaimed and realized he'd made one mistake. He still had the Lord Calcite voice. He readjusted his larynx and tried again.
"The stars know everything." Perfect
Nephrite finished stdying his image in the mirror and began to chuckle. His laughter echoed throughout the cavern.
End of part 1
Next: The second General and the sixth Sailor Warrior
Part 2 : Polarized Issues
Sailor Moon : Refugees
by Mark Latus
A five part fanfic
Based on characters and situations created by Naoka Takeuchi
Part 2 - Polarized Issues
It was Thursday afternoon, the day after the Jadeite incident. Minako was dominating the emergency meeting she'd called. "Look, don't you get it Usagi?! He phoned me at home! HE KNOWS I'M SAILOR VENUS!"
"If you don't keep your voice down my grandfather, Yuichiro and everyone else in the temple is going to know that!" Rei glanced out the window into the empty courtyard. Good, no one in earshot.
Minako took a deep breath and tried to calm down. "Look I don't want to sound like I'm panicking but I'm in a lot of trouble! If Calcite knows my real identity I have to worry about him attacking me at any time. Or worse he might go after my family in revenge for all his defeats!"
"That's bad all right, but just who is he? I don't recall fighting anyone by that name." Makoto then added, "Of course I was one of the last to join the team."
"Well I never heard of him before and I was around from the start of the Dark Kingdom attacks." Usagi continued, "So who is he?"
"I never did learn much about him. This was back when I was the only Sailor Warrior and the Dark Kingdom was just starting to break into our world. He called himself Lord Calcite and launched a series of attacks in Juban. He wasn't interested in collecting energy, he seemed to be more interested in destroying things in sacrifice to Metallia. As Sailor V I stopped his schemes several times but he always escaped. He got sick of losing all the time and opened a warpgate to England. I followed him there. Artemis had told me that Luna had found the second Sailor Warrior so Juban would be protected in my absence ..."
Rei broke in, "You left before Sailor Moon actually appeared, didn't you?"
"Yes, how'd you know?"
"Why else would you leave her alone to protect this town?"
"Hey! What's that supposed to mean!"
"It means ..."
Luna cut in before things broke down, "Go on Minako."
"Well when I got to England ..." She decided not to mention Alan or Katrina again, "... sure enough Calcite was trying the same sort of thing. He didn't try to shift countries again, maybe he'd exhausted his ability to move his gate from the Dark Kingdom. Anyway we were fighting regularly and he started getting more dangerous. Maybe because he seemed to be operating solo most of the time. In Juban he'd always had youma underlings. He almost drowned me one time. Matter of fact he would have if Gray hadn't shown up."
"Gray being that guy from last night?"
"Right. I don't know much about him, he spent most of his time looking grim and saying as little as possible. Whoever he was, is, he made himself Calcite's enemy. Eventually he seemed to have everything under control so I returned to Juban which seemed to be at the heart of the war."
"That's glossing over things a little", Artemis thought. "As long as you thought Alan was in love with you I couldn't get you to come back. Calcite made a great excuse to stay there."
"Do you know what happened after you left?" Ami was wondering why the Dark Kingdom had targetted England. Everything significant seemed to have happened in Juban town.
Minako thought about her meeting with the brainwashed Katrina. "I was told Calcite stopped showing up after I left. Gray announced that without a superhuman adversary to fight he couldn't justify vigilantism and retired."
"So Gray may be in Juban because he learned Calcite was in town?"
"That's good thinking Ami. That must be it! But why is Calcite in town? How'd he learn my identity? And why is he still around when the Dark Kingdom's gone?"
Rei shrugged, "Jadeite's still around, we just discovered that."
Ami nodded, "Maybe Calcite and Jadeite are working together?"
"Why didn't we meet this Calcite guy when we were fighting the Dark Kingdom?", Makoto asked.
"If my theory's right then it's not surprising Calcite never fought the combined Sailor Warriors." Luna suddenly realized she had everyone's attention. Artemis was giving her his "not-in-front-of-the-children" look. "Errr, never mind!"
Artemis tried to change the subject, "Yes, well we should get back to Jadeite. We know he's at large and draining energy ..."
Minako broke in, "What's this theory Luna?"
Luna began sweating, "Errr, just something I talked over with Artemis."
Artemis found himself the focus of Minako's attention. "It's just a theory, nothing you really need to worry about. Getting back to Jadeite ..."
"Tell me the theory!"
She wasn't going to be sidetracked but she really wouldn't like hearing this. "As I say it's just a theory. Following your return to Juban town Luna and I were comparing notes and trying to figure where Calcite fit in the Dark Kingdom hierarcy. Errr well we sort of came to the conclusion that ... ahh do you remember part of your job as Sailor V was being the decoy Moon Princess? You were a distraction for the Dark Kingdom to keep them from hunting down the real princess. So that any youma looking for her would come after you instead?"
"Of course I remember that."
"Yes, well we sort of think that ... that Calcite was the Dark Kingdom equivalent."
Minako looked puzzled, "What do you mean?"
"Well he claimed to be a high ranking youma and he had a lot of nasty gadgets but ... but he never really accomplished anything except keeping you distracted."
"Well you chased him all the way to England which got you out of the way of Jadeite. And back then you were the only Sailor Warrior around. Also Calcite screwed up consistently but was never removed. Jadeite got replaced after a lot fewer defeats. Then there's the fact that Calcite disappeared from England right after Sailor V apparently died. He didn't try to continue his plans and challenge Gray."
"I see." Minako sounded suspiciously calm. "This was all Luna's theory?"
Artemis considered lying but decided to stay honest. "I'd begun to wonder about this towards the end of your stay in England. All the serious action seemed to be happening in Juban."
"So you thought I was wasting my time AND YOU NEVER TOLD ME PARTNER!"
"Calm down. I tried to but you wouldn't listen. As long as you were hung up on that Alan guy it was useless to ..." Oops, Artemis suddenly thought he'd said a bit too much.
"You really think I'm that shallow?" Minako stormed out without waiting for an answer. Which was something of a relief to Artemis.
Luna wandered over to Artemis, "Well you handled that tactfully."
Artemis sighed, "Now she's in a rotten mood. I know what that means! Dry catfood and 'catch a mouse if you want some meat'. Not that there's anything wrong with the odd mouse." Now Luna was staring at him. "What?"
"Mice? How uncivilized!"
"Luna, we're cats. Try not to think too human."
Usagi was watching Minako leave. Probably she wanted to be alone right now. She'd catch up with her later. "So everyone, what do we do about Jadeite?"
Luna actually felt a little pride. Usagi was trying to lead the Sailor Warriors. Sometimes she felt her task of making Usagi into a princess wasn't a waste of time.
Rei said, "I'll try consulting the fire spirit. Maybe it can find him."
"Great. While you're doing that I'll get to my date with Mamoru. Bye!" Usagi dashed off.
Luna sighed, of course those times never lasted long. Ami glanced around at the two remaining Sailor Warriors. "Well, I guess we'd better get on with it Rei."
"That dumpling headed ... oh all right, our fearless leader would just have got in the way. Let's go."
Not far away Minako leaned against a lamppost and watched Usagi dash by. The real Moon Princess, the girl she'd been the decoy for. It couldn't have been for nothing. Calcite had to have been for real. The only problem was she'd been thinking back on some of her conversations from England with Artemis. He was right, she'd used Calcite as an excuse to stay in England despite all his news from Juban.
But if Calcite was a fake how had he survived the destruction of the Dark Kingdom? Had he simply stayed hidden in England all this time? In which case why reemerge now, come to a place full of Sailor Warriors and threaten her? It didn't make any sense.
Meanwhile, completely unaware of any of this, Calcite had returned home. Pyrite paused his Trek tape and asked, "How's Mai?"
"Still weak but recovering fast. So are the others. The doctors are saying it was the worst case of Juban Syndrome they've seen so far."
"Yeah I was talking to one of the doctors. It's the name they come up with for people suddenly suffering extreme weaknesses, usually in large groups, without an identifiable cause. They've been testing for bacteria, viruses and toxins but still have no idea what causes it. Victims often talk about monsters and demons which is absurd this being the twentieth century. However they keep an exorcist on retainer just in case."
"Does she remember anything?"
"She says she doesn't but I think she just doesn't want to sound crazy."
"Could be. So did you ...?"
"Yes I planted your monitor so we'll know if Jadeite goes near the hospital. The only problem is, what do we do then?"
Pyrite shrugged. "No idea. Try and reason with him maybe? I want to know just what that message of his meant."
"Me too!" Calcite paused then asked, "Learn anything?"
"Nothing. It's just a piece of rock. No enchantments, power signatures or anything abnormal. A perfectly ordinary chunk of your namesake."
"Terrific. What the hell does it mean?"
"You'd have to ask Jadeite. I doubt he went to all this trouble just to discuss pleasantries."
Calcite sighed, "I wish I could figure this out. There's no connection between us. At least I hope not."
That was something new. "Meaning?"
"Meaning that there is a certain chance that there's a direct connection between us."
Pyrite considered this then exclaimed, "You mean he could be ...?" Calcite nodded. "But I thought that Nephrite ..."
"Was one of the candidates. All I know is that my mother's journals indicated it was one of the generals. Kunzite and Zoisite are out. Even if they were bisexual all the evidence indicated they'd been monogomous for the past century. Which brought it down to two candidates. Nephrite was the slightly preferrable of them so I acknowledged him. But I don't know one way or the other."
"Damn. Does Ti know?"
"No. There's quite a bit she doesn't know about her birth. Which reminds me, why isn't she in here fighting with you over the big screen TV?"
"She said she had a pile of homework to do so she'd watch her tapes later on."
"Good. Maybe her obsession with those bloody cartoons is ending. I am sick of seeing excessively cute and/or excessively violent characters every time I walk in here. Now if we could just do something about your Star Trek obsession."
"Hey don't knock Trek. Where else do you get to see people as brilliant as me come up with innovations everytime something goes wrong. I really identify with it." This was delivered in a fake Scots accent. "What do you think?"
"Slightly better than your Geordi LeForge but that's not saying much."
Meanwhile upstairs Titanite was quietly rummaging through the room Pyrite and Azurite shared. Azurite was still on a shoot and wouldn't be back for a few hours, Pyrite wouldn't be budging from in front of the TV for some time. So she shouldn't be interrupted for a while. Where was it? If she couldn't find it she'd have to abandon her scheme. Wait a second ... there! Titanite pulled the bracelet from the drawer and examined it. Yes, this was it. Azurite would never miss this, she didn't use it these days.
Then she heard her brother's voice downstairs. Quietly as she could she slipped back to her room and slid the bracelet into a desk draw. She'd work on it later, for now she'd better act innocent. Ti opened her schoolbooks and spread out a pile of papers. It'd be best to look busy when her brother looked in to greet her. He definitely wouldn't approve of her plans. But the Sailor Warriors were the same age as her and took risks all the time.
Back at the temple Rei's firereading had produced no result. Wherever Jadeite was she couldn't sense him. All they could do was wait.
Despite the anxieties of both the Warriors and the Renegades the remainder of Thursday passed without incident. However Friday was a very different matter.
The morning and afternoon passed without incident. It was that evening that things got weird. Despite the recent incident the school had decided to go ahead with the scheduled student play. None of the main cast had been zapped but a few of the bit players were in hospital. In fact Titania Hobbes had found herself hurriedly recruited as a guard. Not wanting her stage debut to be unobserved she'd talked Cal into attending. She'd pointed out he had no idea where to search for Jadeite, assuming that a good idea anyway. Pyrite and Azurite had begged off, claiming they'd keep watch for supernatural disturbances. Which was how he found himself in the audience wondering why Japanese schoolkids were performing Shakespeare.
Also in the audience were Usagi, Ami, Makoto and Rei. They were there to check out Minako's performance. Minako though she'd been miscast and would have been a better Lady Macbeth than one of the witches. She was currently backstage wondering why she'd mentioned this to her friends and just how many hag jokes she'd have to put up with.
"Break a leg partner." The voice came from underfoot. Glancing down she saw a familiar white feline. "Look forget what I said yesterday. What do cats know about human relationships? As for Calcite ... well why worry? If he's a fake he's no threat and if he's for real you'll toast him."
"Thanks Artemis." The cat shrugged and slipped away unnoticed. Minako saw her cue and headed for the stage. Any moment know the curtains would open. Try and make this a show they'll remember.
People remembered it all right, but not for the reasons she'd hoped for.
The curtains had opened and Minako (2nd witch) had just done her first line. Then the swirling lights appeared above the stage. These faded leaving a man standing in midair. The audience began applauding this special effect. Neither Minako or Makoto recognised the figure but based on the greyish purple uniform they could make a good guess. Usagi, Rei and Ami all recognised him. Given the last time they'd seen him it's not surprising that they were shocked.
Two other people recognised him, Titanite had thought she'd heard he was dead. Calcite knew for a fact he was looking at a dead man. It couldn't be and yet the aura was unmistakeable. It was completely insane. Nephrite had died months before the Dark Kingdom fell. Yet here he was, floating in place and smiling. He bowed from the waist, straightened up and addressed the audience. "Ladies, Gentlemen and children of all ages. It is with deep regret that I interrupt this performance. However I must inform you all that the Dark Kingdom needs your energy." Above Nephrite's hand an energy matrix formed. Around him Calcite saw and felt energy flowing from the spectators. People began slumping feeling a growing lassitude. Calcite imitated his seatmates. Nephrite seemed to be concentrating on the audience leaving the stage alone. However Minako was the only person remaining on it. The other actresses had all heard the new schoolyard stories about floating demons sucking people dry and vacated in a hurry. She'd seen her comrades drop to the floor and crawl outside to change. Rei had been pushing Usagi ahead of her none too gently. There wasn't anything she could do here. She ducked backstage and wasn't surprised to find it deserted. Good, that simplified things.
"Venus Power Make up!"
Nephrite hovered over the audience examining the energy he'd drained. While it was incidental to his real purpose it would come in handy. Now if the main event would just begin ... "Nephrite!" Excellent.
Sailor Moon continued her speech, "How dare you return to evil after breaking Naru-chan's heart. You gain a new life and waste it the same way you did the old one? On behalf of the great wheel of Karma I will punish you!"
"Hey I make the speeches with the religious references!"
"Butt out Mars!"
Nephrite had floated higher so he could keep an eye on the four Sailor Warriors who had emerged from the lobby and the fifth one who'd emerged on the stage. "Ah my old friends Sailors Moon, Mercury and Mars. I don't recognise the newcomers but things must have changed while I was ..." His expression clouded, "...wherever I was after it happened. Whatever it was. In answer to your question Sailor Moon I am a youma, blood will tell."
"Like hell!", Calcite thought from his sprawled position on the floor. Now if they'd just get out of here he could stop acting drained.
Almost as if he'd heard him Nephrite glanced around the room and announced, "Too many civilians. I'll fight you outside!" There was another swirl of lights and Nephrite vanished.
"A youma who cares about innnocent bystanders?" Jupiter sounded amazed.
"Nephrite always had a certain amount of honour", Ami said. "But evidently not as much as we thought."
"Forget it, let's go. This is the second time my school's been drained and that's twice too many." Venus headed for the door followed by the other four. When Cal sensed them leave and checked no one awake remained in sight he touched his watchband. The concealed transmuter shifted his clothing to the costume worn by Gray. A small alteration in his glamour shifted his hair and eye color as well as giving his skin a greyish tinge. There was a flicker of red light and Calcite was gone. He was going to try and find out what was going on. Hidden backstage Titanite finished putting on her own clothes. The play costume wasn't treated and wouldn't work if she wanted to change. She headed outside stroking the bracelet.
Outside Jadeite waited for the Sailor Warriors to join him. He didn't pay any attention to the two kids walking by. They'd stopped to stare at him, levitating people being somewhat uncommon. One of them was watching him with more than amazement, she recognised him.
"Nephrite!?" The Sailor Warriors emerged from the school as she called his name and began running towards him. As he turned to face her Sailor Moon shouted, "Naru get away from him!" She didn't listen and the senshi powered down their attacks. She was far to close for them to attack Nephrite. Back where he'd been abandoned by his date Umino tried to figure what to do. If that guy was an old friend he shouldn't interfere. If that was a rival he'd better get over there.
Nephrite dropped to the ground in time for Naru to fling her arms around him and say, "I thought you were dead!"
She didn't notice the blank look that flittered across his face briefly. He gently eased her arms down and said, "I may have been, everything's been vague lately. I remember being hurt and then ... then I was here and I knew I must collect energy for the Dark Kingdom."
"No! You turned against them. Don't you remember!"
"No, no I don't. This is my duty and I have to do this."
"Wait! I can help you remember. Come with me and ..." Umino blanched hearing this. Nephrite looked and him and said. "You've got someone else who needs you more."
"But you need me to help you. Maybe I need you too. If I go with you ..."
Nephrite touched her cheek and Naru stopped talking. As gently as he could he said, "If you leave him for me you'll regret it. Not today, maybe not tomorrow but one day you'll regret it for the rest of your life."
"It has to be this way. It doesn't take any kind of genius to see that the problems of two little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. That's why you have to leave. Hey kid!"
Umino realized he was being addressed, "Yes?"
"Get her out of here, things are about to get ugly." Umino crossed over, took Naru's arm and began to drag her away. She looked uncertain, as if she felt she should stay with Nephrite despite what he'd said. But she let him lead her away. From his postion in the shadows, aura masked against detection, Calcite aka Gray had watched with a certain confusion. He couldn't explain it but he'd just felt a definite feeling of Deja Vu. He didn't expect to have to intervene this time. Nephrite had used a standard energy drain rather than an attack like Jadeite's. Everyone would be fine in a few hours and there wouldn't be a backlash when the Sailor Warriors took him out. Calcite figured Nephrite was about to die for the second time.
Nephrite turned back to the Sailor Warriors. "Well thanks for waiting. Shall we get on with it?"
Minako and Makoto were both looking confused by what had happened. Rei and Usagi were looking uncertain so it was left to Ami to say, "Nephrite if you return the energy to the audience perhaps we can work this out." She pointed at the glowing sphere that clung to his left hand.
He shook his head. "Sorry, can't do that. I should mention that I'm only a nice guy with my friends." He raised his empty right hand, "Whereas you are my enemies, therefore ..." Power crackled from the palm shattering the asphalt between him and the Sailors. Venus and Jupiter jumped clear but the other three were slammed into the wall. There are times it doesn't pay to give someone a second chance.
"SUPREME THUNDER DRAGON!" Jupiter's attack tore towards Nephrite. Like Jadeite he was gone before it reached him. She spun around expecting him to materialise behind her. She heard a cry and turned in time to see Minako slam into the others. Damn, he'd appeared behind Venus rather than her. Four of them down in the first minute, this was bad.
Makoto leapt, landing in front of her dazed friends. Ok now he had to go through her to get to them. Problem was it looked like he was planning to do that. Everything soft in his expression was gone. He wouldn't stop until he'd wiped them out.
Nephrite strode forward then hurriedly leapt upwards. He didn't come down again. Below eight thin blades ripped through the space he'd occupied and a rose stem punched into the asphalt. The two figures who'd emerged from opposite sides of the schoolyard looked at each other in surprise. Jupiter wasn't too surprised to see Tuxedo Mask. He always managed to show up when Usagi was in danger. The other one was that guy from the other night, Minako's old friend Gray.
Momoru called over to Gray. "It seems we missed. Shall we try again."
"All right." The reply was cool and delivered in a monotone. It covered Calcite's very real confusion. What the hell had got into him? Why should he care if the Sailor Warriors went down? The only good part about this was that this couldn't really be Nephrite. Nephrite was dead, this had to be a fake. So he wasn't about to face one of the four generals. Unless of course this was actually Jadeite disguised as Nephrite. He really wished he hadn't thought that.
Wishing he hadn't limited his powers so much when he created the Gray identity Calcite generated psychoplasm which became the sword in his right hand and the throwing knives in his left. He leapt upwards in an arc designed to land him by Jupiter. As he did this he skimmed the knives at the floating Nephrite. Not for the first time he wished he could fly.
He wasn't too surprised to see the blades bounce off a forceshield. The roses flung by Tuxedo Mask did the same as he landed on the other side of Sailor Jupiter. Calcite did have a plan. Not much of one he'd be the first to admit but it was a plan. Forceshields usually repel energy attacks that are insufficent to overload them or kinetic weapon attacks. But since that needs different field harmonics they can't do both at the same time. He'd get Jupiter to zap Nephrite at the same time he created and threw as many knives as possible. One of their attacks should get through. He was about to explain this to her when everything went wrong.
Four large pods appeared around Nephrite and fell to the ground. They burst on impact spraying the area with sap. In seconds the sap had hardened trapping Sailor Jupiter, Gray and Tuxedo Mask in a web. The semiconscious Sailor Warriors were now glued to the wall. This was not, Calcite thought, one of his better days.
Jadeite's hands glowed with power. It seemed his sense of honor didn't prevent him from annihilating trapped enemies. Calcite gathered his energy. He could escape by teleporting but even with a masked aura it'd be obvious to Nephrite that he was a youma. Perhaps even to the Sailor Warriors in the unlikely event they survived. He could manifest a sword and cut them free but that needed time he didn't have. Making a silent apology to the two people beside him he prepared to jump.
Then a new voice cut in and Nephrite froze. "Wait a minute Nephrite. You're still short one Sailor Warrior!" He turned to look behind him. Everyone's gaze shifted to the shadowy figure on top of the wall. There was a blur as the figure leapt from her old position and landed in the yard facing Nephrite.
The design of the outfit matched the other Sailor Warriors. The main difference was the yellow mask she wore, which matched her skirt. Like Sailor Moon she had flat heeled boots, these were green as was her hair. Tuxedo Mask and Sailor Jupiter both heard Gray mutter "What the hell is she doing?" Then a sword appeared in his hand and he began cutting the web as quietly as possible.
Meanwhile Nephrite was about to demand the newcomer's identity when she proclaimed. "For centuries my star has guided travelers to safety. It is my sacred duty to ensure the safety of the innocent. I am Sailor Polaris! On behalf of the pole star I will punish you!"
The semiconscious Sailor Moon muttered, "That's my line!"
"Quiet", Rei whispered. She'd recovered enough to see they were trapped but that Gray person was cutting himself, Jupiter and Tuxedo Mask free. As long as Nephrite was occupied they had a chance.
Calcite was slashing frantically at the web. His sister was about to get herself killed. Whoever this guy was he could take her apart.
Nephrite seemed to have drawn the same conclusion. "Never heard of you before. I don't expect to hear about you later."
Titanite held both her hands before her chest. This was the only shot she'd get. A sphere formed between her fingers. Here goes nothing. "POLARIS MISSILE!" The sphere surged toward Nephrite who stood secure behind his forceshield.
Nephrite was slammed across the yard striking the opposite wall. Calcite froze in amazement then finished cutting himself free. The answer flashed through his mind. Ti's power spheres were produced by her (largely uncontrollable) telekinetic ability. As such they consisted of concentrated kinetic energy. The only kind of power that could beat a youma energy reflecting force shield. Nephrite had assumed he was dealing with electro magnetic forces or magick and set his shield accordingly. Calcite wasn't about to waste the opportunity. He leapt for the dazed general swordfirst. Nephrite's eye's cleared and he saw the figure charging at him. Nephrite vanished. Calcite's sword punched into the wall like a hot knife through butter. Which meant nothing stopped his face from impacting the wall. Swearing somewhat (and very glad of his own forceshield) he staggered upright. He glanced down and felt his heart skip a beat.
Tuxedo Mask and Jupiter were free of the slashed web and were pulling the others free. Sailor Polaris was watching him with a concerned expression. Maybe about his health, maybe about his reaction. Then Nephrite's voice boomed around them, it was impossible to find the source. "I'VE HAD ENOUGH EXCITEMENT FOR ONE NIGHT. I WILL FINISH THIS LATER AT THE TIME OF MY CHOOSING!" Silence followed.
Sailor Polaris flashed a victory sign, "Score one for the good guys. Everyone OK?"
"Fine. Sailor Polaris? I never heard of you before." Sailor Moon looked more dazed than usual.
"Did you hear of the others before they showed up?"
"No. I just didn't know there were any gaijin Sailor Warriors. Why the mask?"
"The time is not right to reveal my true identity. Like my sidekick I must wear a mask." She pointed over to Gray who was straightening up after picking up something Nephrite had dropped. He'd heard that last comment.
"Sidekick? You are really pushing it." He sounded angry to Minako, a change from his normal flat tone.
Polaris seemed to realise she'd gone a bit too far. "Ok my partner." He didn't contradict her which was a relief. The last thing she wanted was her brother showing her up in front of the Sailor Warriors. This had been fun. She'd been able to use her powers in public and was on her way to joining the team. Just like the TV shows.
Calcite noticed Sailor Mercury staring at the object he carried so he tossed it over. She caught it and examined it. A rough greenish crystal, similar but not identical to the one she'd seen Wednesday night. He said, "I'm no expert but I'm guessing that's nephrite. Didn't know those guy's left calling cards."
"They don't, at least they didn't."
He made a sound along the lines of hrmph and turned to Sailor Polaris. She was chattering to Sailor Moon, it sounded like they shared a common interest in shojo anime & manga. "Sailor Polaris!" She shut up and looked at him. He continued, "We're leaving. No point in sticking around." She looked for a moment like she might argue but instead nodded and joined him. He nodded a curt goodbye and the two of them headed off in a series of superhuman bounds. Tuxedo Mask paused for a moment then headed after them.
Behind him Minako called, "Wait!" but Gray was already too far to hear her. She sighed, "I wanted to ask him about Calcite." She touched her forehead, there was going to be a nasty bruise up there.
Ami was scanning the rock with her computer. Nothing unusual about it, just an ordinary chunk of nephrite. Sha said as much then added, "You didn't mention Sailor Polaris when you told us about Gray."
"I never saw her before and Gray never mentioned her. Although if he did know a Sailor Warrior that might explain his knowledge about the Dark Kingdom."
Meanwhile Rei was asking Makoto, "Do you suppose those two are like Usagi and Mamoru?"
"I don't think so. They were more like siblings. Speaking of Mamoru ..."
Tuxedo Mask landed by Usagi and said, "Well I lost them. They ducked into an alley, there was a cloud of grey smoke and when it cleared they were both gone."
Minako nodded, "Gray's favorite mysterious exit. Maybe we'd better check everyone's OK." In all the confusion they'd forgotten about the people Nephrite drained.
A quick learned confirmed everyone was recovering though they looked very puzzled. As if they couldn't remember what had happened. "Everything looks fine, but the show is defintely over." They could hear ambulance and police sirens, some of the people who'd fled must have called them.
Sailor Jupiter looked and the others and said, "Why don't we get out of here and find somewhere you can explain this whole thing to me and Minako. Cause you told us both you three saw that guy die."
"We did. I didn't just see it I felt it happen." Rei looked grim. It had been the first time she'd been that close to a dying youma. Normally her psychic powers let her feel a sudden flash which was over with instantly. Nephrite's death had been a bit more prolonged. It had definitely happened.
The Sailor Warriors headed away. They would talk things over with Luna and Artemis but fail to come to any conclusions. As to what happened to Gray and Sailor Polaris ...
Calcite spotted Tuxedo Mask following them, time for one of his patented sudden exits. He spotted an alley and signalled Ti. She'd been quiet since they departed possibly fearing upsetting him further. They landed and he asked her, "So you're my partner?"
"Errr ... well it's a big job to handle on your own ..."
"We'll talk about this later. For now partner we have to make an untraceable exit. Know what that means?"
Ti felt sick to her stomach, or rather knew she was about to get that way. "Yeah." She dropped her mental defenses and let her brother link with her. He dropped a smoke grenade and let it fill the alley. When it was thick enough he triggered the teleport dragging his sister along for the ride.
They materialized in the bathroom a destination Cal had chosen for a reason. Ti looked nauseaous and lunged for the toilet. She made it just in time. Given the extreme vertigo it caused her he sort of doubted she'd ever get the hang of teleporting.
A wet sponge slapped him across the face. Azurite had thrown it from the bathtub and said, "It's customary to knock before entering." Meanwhile Titanite continued making unpleasant noises.
Outside he heard Pyrite say to someone, "You're right that was his voice. I guess he came back when I wasn't looking." Great they had company, just what he needed. He touched the band on his left wrist and sent the appropriate mental command. His mask shifted back to being glasses, the Gray costume became an ordinary suit and the wristband became his watchband. It took a moment to shift his complexion and haircolor back to "normal". Normal for Calvin Hobbes if not for Calcite.
He exited the bathroom and was surprised to see Mai standing in the hallway. "I thought you were still in hospital until tomorrow?"
"They said we were strong enough to leave and I insisted on being discharged. I had to talk too you."
"Uh, yes of course I ..."
He was interrupted by a cry from inside the bathroom of, "Close the bloody door." He quickly slammed it shut. In the tub Azurite breathed a quick sigh of relief. All they needed was for Mai to see Titanite in that costume. Why the hell was she wearing it? She'd have to ask Ti later when she was in recovered enough to talk. For now there was something she'd better do. She touched the braclet on Ti's wrist and triggered it.
Outside Pyrite was asking, "So Cal why were you in there while my fiancee was taking a bath?" Mai looked like she'd appreciate an answer to that question. The door opened and a very pale Titania Hobbes staggered out.
"Big brother I feel awful." She started to stumble and Cal caught her.
"Afraid Ti's got a touch of food poisoning, or possibly an allergy. Whichever it was I had to get her in there fast before she got sick!"
"She doesn't look good, perhaps the hospital ..."
"No, she'll be fine by morning." The last thing Cal wanted was doctors running tests on his sister. The odds of any doctor not figuring out that blue blood was unusual were ridiculous.
Azurite emerged wearing a pink bathrobe. "I'll put her to bed and keep an eye on her. I think you two had other things to talk about." She cradled Titanite in her arms and headed for Ti's bedroom.
"Strong woman your housemate." Mai commented as they headed to the living room.
"She works out regularly. Models have to keep their figures." According to the official story Cal and his sister shared this house with two other westerners. More for companionship in a foriegn land than out of financial reasons.
After they'd settled down he asked, "So what's so urgent that you had to browbeat the doctors into kicking you out?"
Mai looked edgy. "Calvin, you were there but you weren't affected by ... by it, yes?" He nodded and she continued, "The students in the hospital ... they saw the vision but it had affected them so I couldn't trust what they said happened. Calvin did I really see a man standing in midair holding a ball of light?"
He considered lying but told her, "Yes, you did. I didn't want to say it when the TV people were asking questions but that's what really happened."
She shivered. "I've always believed in logic and rationality. Always felt that there's a rational answer for everything and that this country has far too many superstitions but this ... it's like something out of a legend." Cal slid an arm across her shoulders and the shivers eased a little. "Calvin, what is happening?"
"I don't know.", he said. That was the truth. First Jadeite now Nephrite ... he had no idea what was going on.
Upstairs Ti was looking healthier. She murmurred, "Haven't got that sick in ages."
Sitting on the edge of the futon Azurite shrugged and said, "It's been months since you were teleported anywhere. You're just out of practice."
"Not that I was ever any good at it."
"You can take it better than that. So what's with the costume?"
Ti sighed and began explaining. When she'd finished Azurite asked, "Why pick a star?"
"In case there are Sailor Warriors named for the other planets. I just thought big brother could use some help."
"So it had nothing to do with wanting to meet the Sailor Warriors and show off you powers?" Ti blushed and Azurite added, "Still you may be right. Initially he was just going to observe but now he's actually fighting. He could use some backup. But I don't think you're the best candidate. By the way isn't this my transmutation bracelet?"
"Sorry. I just ... borrowed it. If you want it back ..."
"Keep it. I'll just get Pyr to make me a new one." Azurite thought she could understand why Ti did it. Keeping your powers continually hidden was difficult. After all they were a part of you. Not being able to use them was like having an itch you couldn't scratch. "Now what can you tell me about the Sailor Warriors?"
Much later long after Titanite was asleep Calcite got together with Pyr and Azure and told them about the incident in detail. He concluded by saying, "Then he disappeared leaving three rocks behind. Again I managed to hide everything but the general's namesake. Here's the other two."
He dropped them on the table. Azurite identified the first as calcite but the second? Pyrite studied the dark brown crystals of the second then said, "It's titanite isn't it?"
He nodded and Azure swore. "He knew she'd show up?"
"Maybe not. He might have been carrying rocks for all four of us. He just dropped the ones for those of us who were there."
"But who's doing it? We could rationalize Jadeite's appearance but Nephrite's definitely dead. Who had the power to successfully impersonate two generals? Even to the point of duplicating their auras. And what the hell is it playing at?"
Calcite sighed, "That's a very good question. I have absolutely no idea."
Elsewhere Nephrite held a steadily diminishing sphere of human energy. It shrank until it flickered out of existence. He opened his eyes and said "Delicious." Then standing before the mirror his features' shifted again. His face became much more effeminate, his hair color shifted back to blond. Zoisite studied his reflection and smiled. "My, what a beautiful fellow I am. This time I don't have those boring crystals to worry about." Once again laughter echoed through the chamber.
End of part 2
Next: The third general and another complication for Calcite
Part 3 : Arctuarial Matters.
Sailor Moon : Refugees
by Mark Latus
A five part fanfic
Based on characters and situations created by Naoka Takeuchi
Part 3 - Arctuarial Matters
It was a pleasant Sunday morning and Cal and Mai were strolling through one of Juban's park. This was Cal's favorite park. After all it was where the renegades had landed following their escape from the Dark Kingdom. It had also been one of the first places he'd stumbled across after his first dimensional crossing. Pyrite's sensors were still buried in four of its trees. They'd never retrieved them.
Mai was clinging to him more than usual. She was still shaken by Jadeite's attack. It had shaken her skepticism to the core. It's hard to deny the existence of the supernatural after being attacked by a youma. She'd been afraid Cal would deny having seen anything but he obviously wasn't the stereotypical hardheaded westerner.
Of course Cal was neither a skeptic or a westerner having grown up in the Dark Kingdom. He'd seen a lot of strange things in his time. Like his sister showing up friday night in that Sailor Polaris costume. That certainly qualified as one of the strangest. He'd had a few words with about that yesterday. Hopefully that nonsense was over with, she'd been lucky not to get herself killed.
Not far away Titanite was standing in a line for a comic fair also thinking about Sailor Polaris. Saturday had passed without incident apart from being berated by her brother for stupidity. He'd taken pains to point out she had no combat experience and little idea how to effectively use her own powers. She'd pointed out having taken out Nephrite with one shot which he'd dismissed as beginners luck. He was convinced, as were Azurite and Pyrite, that this was the work of a single youma using different identities. So next time whoever it was showed up he (or she, or it) would know her capabilities. He'd have confiscated her (actually Azutite's) transmutation bracelet if Azurite hadn't stopped him. She'd pointed out that if circumstances required Titanite to use her powers it'd be better that she do it as Sailor Polaris rather than as Titania Hobbes.
Calcite had agreed. He'd even said that now she didn't have to stay confined she should be taught to use her powers for best effect. However that would have to wait until they could find a training site they could be sure the Sailor Warriors wouldn't stumble across. Ti had been eager to learn which was something of a reversal. In the Dark Kingdom she'd been extremely pacifistic and hadn't wanted to learn how to fight. Of course back then for her to fight would have been a last resort. As if she could beat anyone who could take out her guardians. While genetically she was potentially as powerful as her brother the key to unlocking those powers remained unknown. That was also before she became enamoured by those stupid cartoons.
Her eagerness had made her brother suspicious that she was planning another outing as Sailor Polaris. So Azurite had asked her to promise that she wouldn't use that identity or her powers except in self defense. She'd sworn she wouldn't and that had satisfied Azurite. Calcite had accepted it but had said he'd be keeping an eye on her. Azurite had told him that was unnecessary as Ti had never broken a promise to her.
It was fortunate, Titanite reflected, that Azurite didn't know the human convention that a promise made with your fingers crossed doesn't count. Her fingers toyed with the charm hanging from her bracelet. Without it she might not have been allowed out unescorted. Her brother seemed to think that the mystery youma might know her identity and attack her when she was alone. Pyrite had pointed out that while the enemy probably did know both siblings real natures it hadn't been targeting them. At least not directly. Besides it was impractical for the four of them to stick together constantly. So he'd unveiled his latest invention, disguised signallers to be used if they were attacked. It'd transmit a telepathic signal they could use as a teleport lock. They being Calcite and Azurite the two fighters of the group.
So she'd been allowed to come here alone which was fine by her. It was also fine with Cal since he didn't want to have to trail around after her all day. Now she just had to avoid blowing all her savings. Her interests were fairly eclectic though there were two subjects she avoided. Anything featuring catlike females tended to upset her brother if he saw it. She could understand that, she'd been fond of auntie Margrave. Despite the fact that Azurite couldn't stand her.
She also avoided the hentai material. All those tentacles brought back unpleasant memories of a youma who had tried to molest her (at the least) when she'd been nine years old. The memory came back. She'd snuck out of the house unnoticed. Back then she'd thought her brother had been exaggerating the dangers of the outside world. Until she'd met that youma. He'd been half preying mantis, half octopus. At least that's how she'd describe him now having seen both. She hadn't had much chance look before he was on her tearing at her clothing.
Then he'd screamed and released her, stumbling backwards with several knives sticking out of him. Calcite and Azurite had landed beside her and Azurite had made her cover her eyes. There had been a strange crackle and a bursting noise. Something wet had splashed her cheek but Azurite had brushed it away. They'd teleported her home and done what they could to ease her warp sickness. She'd had nightmares after this and asked Azurite if the youma would come after her again. Azurite had assured her that Calcite had made sure he wouldn't. At the time she hadn't understood just what Azurite meant. It had been about another year before she realized Calcite sometimes killed people to protect her.
It had scared her and she'd run to Azurite. Who'd told her not to judge her brother too harshly. "He does what he has too to keep you and the rest of us alive. But don't ever think it's easy for him or that he enjoys it. To survive we've all done things we're not proud of, and we'll have to do more of them in the future. It's a hard life but it's all we've got." She hadn't volunteered any more than that and Ti hadn't asked again.
That was why becoming Sailor Polaris had upset Cal so much. He'd spent years keeping her safe and now she was putting herself into danger. She could understand that but circumstances had changed. She was no longer in a place full of more powerful beings who'd rip her apart for being different. Or just for their own amusement. She didn't have to stay hidden anymore but she couldn't use her powers in public. At least not in her human identity. Now she had a way to fully express herself.
Besides it was fun having a secret identity and if she got to hang out with the Sailor Warriors that would be cool.
Curiously Sailor Polaris was on the minds of two other nonhumans. They'd been debating the question and going in circles since Friday night. Luna looked at Artemis and again said, "I still say there was never any such person as Sailor Polaris!"
Again Artemis shrugged and said, "I don't remember her either but a green haired Sailor Warrior seems right somehow. And I definitely remember there being more than five Sailor Warriors. I can't quite remember who the others were but there are, or were, others." Something else occurred to him, "Of course having five Sailor Warriors was wrong all along but we didn't notice."
Luna was puzzled, "What do you mean?"
Artemis collected his thoughts, "I mean the whole Sailor Moon thing slipped by both of us. Back in the old days of Silver Millenium there never was a Sailor Moon. Yet when Usagi manifested that identity it never occurred to either of us that anything unusual had happened. Neither of us drew any connection between her and the moon princess."
Luna looked uncertain. "I'll admit it's strange that neither of us caught that but the point is ... errr ..."
"The point is that neither of us can trust their memory 100%. Maybe suspended animation causes memory loss but I can't see both of us forgetting exactly the same things. At least not without assistance."
"Meaning our memories were tampered with. There's only one person who could have done it."
"Yep, her majesty Queen Serenity."
"I don't know Luna. Why she wanted her daughter reborn as a Sailor Warrior is a mystery. Maybe it's some sort of training to make her fit to rule. Let's face it, Usagi has a long way to go before I'd trust her running a household let alone a monarchy."
"But what is she supposed to rule? Silver Millenium was destroyed thousands of years ago and I can't see how you'd reestablish it on Earth."
"Errrr ..." It occurred to Artemis maybe he hadn't considereed this issue as well as he'd thought. "Maybe she has to carve out her own kingdom, queendom I mean."
"You mean conquer territory? Use the Silver Crystal to take over Japan, maybe the whole world?"
"Ha! Usagi? Come on Luna, can you seriously imagine Usagi as Gengis Kahn?"
Luna chuckled, "You're right I'm being silly. Besides Queen Serenity would never have planned something like that." She paused then added, "For now her majesty's motives in altering our memories must remain a mystery. Like this whole Sailor Polaris/Dark Kingdom comeback thing. Until we have a bit more information all we can do is speculate wildly."
"I suppose so. By the way where'd our Sailor Warriors get too?"
"They said that since we didn't know where or when Jadeite or Nephrite would reappear they might as well get some icecream and go boy watching. Sometimes I wonder why we bother."
"Well regardless of how flaky they get they've always come through. Besides they already died for the Silver Crystal twice. They've proven their dedication."
"True. We're lucky they weren't completely traumatised. If they weren't so ... adolescent I wonder if they could cope? Anyway let's drop this whole Usagi the conqueror idea."
Artemis nodded but privately he wondered just how had Silver Millenium been established in the first place? In the real old days before the peace and love era he'd been born into.
Meanwhile back in the park Cal could sense Mai loosening up a bit. That was good but for some reason he had a definite feeling of foreboding. He couldn't shake the idea that something was about to happen. But what? There hadn't been a sign of Nephrite since Friday night. Jadeite hadn't been spotted since Wednesday ... Wednesday, Friday, and today was Sunday. Could there been a pattern of a general appearing every other day? No that was ridiculous, two incidents does not make a pattern.
He was chiding himself for his foolishness when he sensed a youma aura. It felt shielded meaning he was close to the source. But inadequately so if he could sense this much leakage. Where was it? Mai felt him tense.
"What's wrong Calvin?"
He was about to answer when a somewhat effeminate young man emerged from behind a tree. He stepped into the path of a couple of nearby tourists. Calcite heard him ask them, "Excuse me, could you help a fellow American who's down on his luck?"
The voice had acquired an American accent but he recognised it and the the speaker's face. Damnit, not again! He began steering Mai away as unobtrusively as possible.
"What do you want pretty boy?" The older of the two Americans sounded more than a bit belligerant. Evidently he didn't care for Zoisite's appearance. This didn't seem to both Zoisite who simply said, "Your energy!" He held his left palm upwards and a softball sized sphere of light appeared. Two glowing tendrils snapped out of the ball and struck them in their chests. Both froze in place joined to the ball by the light. Zoisite gestured with his right hand and dozens of tendrils exploded out of the ball. Everyone they hit became paralysed and started to look weaker. A panicked exodus began among the parkgoers. People were snared as they ran, immobilized and knocked over by those fleeing.
Mai had been having nightmares about this since she emerged from her coma. About devils that looked human eating away at her from the inside. She couldn't stop looking back as Calvin hustled her away. A tendril surged towards them and she screamed. It charged towards her heart then bounced away about a half a metre before impact. Bouncing off the green pane of light that emenated from Calvin's hand. She stared at him and opened her mouth to speak. He pushed a red walnut sized crystal into her hands and said, "This'll protect you long enough to get clear of the park. Now get out of here!" She just stared at him, a million questions forming. He pushed her away and shouted, "MOVE DAMNIT!" Half a dozen tendrils flickered towards them and she turned and ran, her eyes closed. She was lucky and didn't trip over anything or anyone nor run into anything stationary. She also didn't see the tendrils that approached her bounce away as if they'd hit an invisible wall.
"Not the smartest thing I've ever done", Calcite thought as he glanced around. His luck held, no other conscious witnesses in sight. Zoisite seemed to be waiting for him, best not to disappoint. He triggered his transmuter and felt his clothing shift into Gray's battlesuit. As he did he altered his glamour, shifting his haircolor from long and blond to short and grey.
Zoisite looked a little disapproving. "Dear, dear. You looked so much better with the ponytail. Tell me did you wear it in honour of me?"
"Just keeping it out of the way. I've never felt any desire to emulate you." His opponent had stopped masking his aura, it stood out like a beacon for anyone who knew how to sense it. Like the other times the aura was a perfect match for the appearance. This wasn't an appearance masking glamour spell. Somehow, incredible as it seemed, that was Zoisite. How this was possible Calcite didn't know. His normal glamour disguised his hair and blood color. At least in his presence. As Gray his hair appeared shorter but that was just an illusion, the actual length remained the same. But the Zoisite lookalike ... could he be facing a real shapeshifter?
The one good part about this was that since his opponent already knew who he really was there was no need to limit himself. He could use all his powers instead of just the ones designated for Gray's use. Or at least he could have before he suddenly sensed familiar presences approaching fast.
"How dare you come back from the dead to interrupt peoples day of leisure. Ghosts should respect the livings desire for relaxation since you don't have to work anymore. So on behalf of the Moon ..."
"...We will punish you!"
As the Sailor Warriors did their (somewhat questionable) "Strike terror into the hearts of evildoers" pose Calcite wondered if they were familiar with the concept of surprise attacks.
A few minutes earlier they'd been strolling along the street in their everyday identities acting according to their natures. Minako and Makoto were checking out guys, Rei and Usagi were squabbling and Ami was fretting about taking time off from her studying. Then Rei had suddenly shut up and spun around 90 degrees. At almost the same instant they'd heard the screams in the distance. Rei had whispered, "Youma!" and they'd headed for the nearest shady spot to transform. As they did Rei had told them she'd again sensed a familiar evil presence. Another old enemy had returned.
Once his attack had begun Zoisite made no effort to hide his presence. You'd have had to be out of sensing range or psychically blind to miss it. Titanite wasn't either which was why she pushed her way out of the comic fair and looked for a place to change.
Azurite and Pyrite were out of range but Zoisite was standing in the middle of Pyrite's sensor array. So was Calcite. Pyrite swore as he realized his cousin was going up against one of the general's alone. "What the long expletive deleted is Cal doing?"
"He was with Mai remember? You know Cal he's doing it to protect her. Besides this probably isn't a real general."
"Maybe, but whoever or whatever it is has the power to do a good impression. I think he's in over his head."
Azurite had slipped on a new bracelet. "Which is why he needs backup. You're sure no one can detect teleports in and out of the house?"
He nodded. Before he could try talking her out of it she grabbed him, kissed him, stepped back and vanished. Pyrite ran a finger over his lips and wondered if that was a kiss before dying. He'd never even asked what she'd programmed the bracelet to do. All he could do was watch the scanner and hope for the best. His crystal ball showed the Sailor Warriors arrive. Good, maybe they could deal with this and Azure and Cal could stay out of it. Then he swore again as the sensors picked up Titanite about to arrive.
Back in the park Zoisite was surveying his adversaries with no sign of concern. "My, my. Six against one doesn't seem fair. Still we're missing someone. Where's the handsome fellow in the tuxedo? I was so hoping to meet him again."
"Hey you keep your hands off Mam ... Tuxedo Mask!"
"Calm down Sailor Moon. He's just trying to provoke you."
"Yes that's right Sailor Jupiter, keep a tight reign on your friend. After all we both know you can't face me without her."
"Remember our first encounter? If Sailor Moon hadn't been there to back you up I'd have slaughtered you. A hulk like you beat someone as graceful as me? No wonder you can't get a boyfriend. Still it's hardly surprising that someone as big and lumbering as you would ..." Jupiter launched herself at Zoisite, ignoring her friends telling her to wait. She was going to mangle the smug little creep. She'd nearly wrecked him without powers the first time they'd met. As she'd expected Zoisite dodged her first strike. It was a feint and her fist cannoned into his face. At least it should have except his free hand blocked her punch and closed around her fist. Makoto felt crushing pressure and let out an involuntary yell.
"JUPITER!" The Sailor Warriors readied their attacks trying to aim past Makoto. Zoisite raised his left hand and there was a flicker of color through the tendrils. All the frozen people twitched and Zoisite smiled.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you. Those people are linked to this. If I tell it to make them drop dead this park gets full of corpses. When I get threatened I get edgy." The four Sailor Warriors froze. Jupiter kept trying to pull her hand free and aimed a kick at Zoisite. Despite her closeness he dodged it. Then Gray's voice cut in.
"He's bluffing. All those tendrils can do is paralyse people and drain lifeforce. Right now that sphere's at its limit. It can't absorb anymore energy. Take him out and it's all over!"
"Are they going to take your word for that? Oh and if you throw those knives I'll use Jupiter as a shield."
Calcite checked his motion. This guy was good. The real Zoisite would not have noticed his muscles shifting. He'd always avoided hand to hand combat as being vulgar. Calcite needed a distraction. Then he saw one about to to arrive behind Zoisite. The Sailor Warriors hadn't noticed, they were looking for a way to hit Zoisite without blasting Jupiter or taking out any of the immobilized victims. He had to keep Zoisite occupied. "So what's it like being dead?"
"Very, very dull. But you'll find out for yourself very soon."
"That a fact?"
"Oh yes. So do you think I should hang on to Jupiter as a hostage or break her in half and use the shock to take out the other Warriors?"
"How about C, none of the above?" Titanite had aimed herself perfectly and landed on Zoisite's wrist. Cal couldn't be sure it had hurt him but it definitely startled him. His hand opened and released Jupiter. Titanite hit the ground, grabbed Jupiter and jumped clear. Calcite's blades and a wide range of energy based attacks ripped towards Zoisite.
Who flickered and was gone before they reached him. Almost everyone spun around watching for Zoisite to reappear next to them. The only exceptions were Sailors Jupiter and Polaris. Jupiter massaged the hand Zoisite had almost broken and muttered, "Thanks Sailor Polaris. It was stupid of me to attack singlehanded."
"Well live and learn. Now where is Zoisite?" There was a cry and Sailor Moon hit the ground, Zoisite vanished again. Calcite swore, he should have anticipated that. She was the most powerful so he was bound to take her out first. He stepped over one of Zoisite's victims. When Zoisite disappeared he'd taken the energy sphere with him. The tendrils had winked out and everyone caught by them had collapsed. He heard Zoisite's voice echo through the park.
"My this is fun. Queen Beryl should have had me hunting Sailor Warriors and draining energy all along. Instead she had me hunting for those seven ridiculous crystals. The seven great demons indeed ... those losers, what was so great about them?" It was impossible to trace the source of the voice. "Oh look an audience."
The park was built into the side of a hill. Meaning one side ended in a wall with steps up to street level. At the top of this wall a growing group of otaku was gazing down. While Titanite hadn't been spotted becoming Sailor Polaris she'd been sighted afterwards leaving the convention site. Due to her inability to teleport without sideffects she'd had to proceed on foot. The sight of a previously unknown Sailor Warrior had brought the fans trailing after her.
Calcite didn't know that. He just knew that Zoisite had just spotted some more potential hostages. Wherever he was. Another cry and he was standing over the unconscious Sailor Mercury. Zoisite picked her up and tossed her on top of Sailor Moon. Which left him standing in a clear spot without any hostages. Sailor Mars smiled. "Big mistake FIRE SOUL BIRD!" The construct ripped towards Zoisite then slowed. Its' outlines blurred and it broke into a mass of fire. Which danced around Zoisite's hand.
He smiled at the shocked Rei and asked, "Did you think you were the only one who knew how to play with fire?" Then his hand glowed and a force blast slammed her back into a tree. Rei dropped and the fans were heard to boo. This evidently amused Zoisite as he was laughing when he disappeared along with the flames.
Three down, Jupiter injured, no sign of Tuxedo Mask and Polaris an unknown quantity. To Sailor Venus things were looking bad. This was the third time they'd been fighting someone who picked them off one by one. They really had to improve their strategy, do some training exercises. If they were still alive tomorrow.
Polaris was watching over the injured Jupiter which left her and Gray. She crossed the distance between them and stood behind him. "I watch your back you watch mine."
"Good thinking." He began edging them towards the unconscious and defenseless threesome. As he did he added, "Just like old times!"
"Yes." Except now she wondered if those old times had been a sham. Was Lord Calcite ever a serious threat or just a decoy? Just what had happened and what was going on now?
There was a thud and she turned her head in time to see Makoto collapse unconscious. Polaris was trying to blast Zoisite., "POLARIS AHHHHHHH!" A force blast slammed her into a bench. She slumped and Zoisite aimed a second bolt to finish the job.
"NO!" She heard Gray's cry and then somehow he was between Zoisite and Polaris. This blast was far stronger than the first. For a moment Gray seemed rooted in place. For a moment. Then he was thrown backwards, cannoned into Polaris and both were flung over the bench into the bodies of Moon, Mars and Mercury.
Zoisite grimaced. Several of Gray's blades were sticking out of him. He looked hurt but not incapacitated. Venus had seen Gray make his knives detonate at will or electrocute the stabbed person. Unfortunately Gray was out for the count so that wasn't going to happen. Fortunately she now had a clear shot at Zoisite.
"CRESENT BEAM SHOWER!" Her most recent attack surged towards Zoisite. Just before impact it hit an unseen something and ricocheted away. It barely missed Makoto's head when it splashed into the ground by the sprawled Sailor Warrior. "JUPITER!" Minako was distracted for a moment. Just a moment but that was long enough. She sensed something behind her and spun to confront it. Then the world went black.
The flames continue dancing around Zoisite's left hand. With his right he picked up Jupiter and tossed her towards his heaped up enemies. He'd tossed Venus over there a moment ago. Overhead he could hear fans either weeping over the fallen or taking photographs to preserve the moment for posterity. Why disappoint them? He let the flames build in intensity. Time for cooking with Sailor Warriors! He could sense Gray had regained enough consciousness to wrap his forceshield around his sister. Good, it was far too early to remove them from the board. Pity he'd hoped the Warriors would survive until the grande finale. But the nature of the game required removing them if nothing was present to stop him.
Suddenly the still air was broken by a rising wind. It howled through the park then suddenly the stillness returned. From atop a lightpost came a new voice. "Takes a tough guy to burn unconscious people alive. Why not face me if you've got the guts?"
Fans looked towards the post but as they were looking into the sun they couldn't make out any details. Zoisite smiled and said, "Why not come down here and we'll discuss it?"
"My pleasure!" There was a blur of motion and the figure landed near Zoisite. A lot of otaku gasped and those with cameras started taking photos. The dazed Sailor Mars heard Gray mutter, "Oh not again! What the hell is she doing?"
The mystery figure was dressed in Sailor Warrior style but filled it a lot better. She looked to be early twenties, the body of a swimsuit model, neon blue hair and a somewhat menacing look. While it was a basic Sailor Warrior outfit the color was a bit different. Instead of white the leotard and gloves were a bright red. The rest of the outfit was black, black leather to be precise. From the stiletto heeled lace up boots, to the mini skirt, to the bow across the well filled chest. The domino mask across her red eyes was also leather as was the spiked coller around her throat. A variety of fantasies began rippling across fanboy brains.
Meanwhile at ground level the new Sailor Warrior was saying, "My star burns with the light of justice and brings me to this place. On behalf of the red star Sailor Arcturus will punish you!"
Zoisite paused a moment to look over her outfit again then said, "There's probably a lot of men in this town who'd rather enjoy that. But I'm not one of them. So I'm going to have to kill you!" As he said this he flung the massive fireball he'd formed at her.
It surged forward then slowed and stopped. Winds rippled around Sailor Arcturus and the fireball circulating in front of her. It began compacting. Azurite's air vortex generation powers were not to be taken lightly. As anyone who'd met one of her highly focused hurricanes could tell you (those who survived). Zoisite scowled and raised his hands for another shock blast. Gray slid free from his tangle with Sailor Polaris and slipped behind Zoisite. He created two handfuls of knives and got ready to strike. Filling Zoisite's back with stabwounds wasn't going to do much for his hero reputation but needs must ...
He didn't get the chance. He heard Azurite shout "BURNING WHIRLWIND" had a second to figure it out and then jumped clear. The swirling vortex of superheated plasma struck the path he'd been lying on and the asphalt bubbled. Calcite dodged, Zoisite wasn't so fortunate. There was a shriek that hurt the ears. Then the fire and the smoke cleared and Zoisite became visible again. He looked singed but largely unhurt. He staggered over to a wall and said, "Screw this" and vanished in his characteristic swirl of lights.
Eight blades punched into the wall where he'd been standing. Gray swore and limped over to the punctured bricks. As he'd half expected there were the calling card rocks again. Four of them this time. He slipped three out of sight and carried the fourth back to the reviving Sailor Warriors.
Sailor Arcturus had checked the Sailor Warriors weren't seriously hurt and had been keeping watch. Seeing the signature rock in Calcite's hand she relaxed a bit. Those only got left when the perpetrator departed for places unknown. Hearing the click of cameras she decided to strike a few poses. The clicking intensified. Sailor Polaris was watching her with awe. "Wow, big sister Arcturus that was incredible!"
"Naturally. I'm the best at what I do!" When creating this identity Azurite had decided to try for a bad girl personna. It promised to be a lot of fun. From overhead she heard various expressions of admiration, offers to buy her underwear and a variety of requests for retribution for naughtiness. The recovering Sailor Warriors were also watching her. In some cases with expressions of envy. Calcite, still in his Gray personna, limped over.
"I'd like a word with you Sailor Arcturus!"
"No need to thank me Gray."
"Thank you! For nearly barbecueing me?"
"Nearly only counts in horseshoes and handgrenades. Anyway it wasn't too shaby for my Japanese debut." Gray muttered something unintelligible and limped over to Sailor Mercury with the rock. Azurite hid her concern, Cal was upset by something more than her presence. Maybe it was just Ti but she had the feeling there was more to it than that.
Mercury studied the rock and announced that it was zoisite. No big surprise. Sailor Moon said a pattern seemed to be developing and Sailor Mars made a snide comment about how long it had taken her to figure it out. Around them Zoisite's victims began stirring. They'd be weak for several days but it wasn't critical. Mercury was using her scanning vizor and said much the same thing
Gray limped back to Sailors Polaris and Arcturus. They were still the main focus of otaku attention though a few seemed to be studying him. Polaris turned to him and gushed, "This is going to be great. The three of us and the Sailor Warriors against the enemy. It'll be fun."
Calcite exploded, he had his reasons. "SURE THING IT'LL BE GREAT. THROW YOUR LIFE AWAY FIGHTING THE DARK KINGDOM. WHY SHOULD I CARE!"
Arcturus looked at him, "Gray you really need to cut down on the caffine."
"So it's OK then?" Polaris asked. Calcite thought of explaining about sarcasm but instead just sighed and massaged his forehead. Polaris took that as a yes. "Great, thanks big brother. But now we need a name."
"What?" He hoped the Sailor Warriors didn't take that big brother part literally. He was going to have to remind Titanite what secret identities meant.
"A name for our group. How about ... the nifty three?" From the look Cal gave her that was not even close. "Ok well how about ..." Nothing came to mind.
Arcturus looked over the innocent looking Ti, Calcite's grimmer than usual Gray and considered her own image. She smiled and said, "I've got the perfect name for our little threesome. How about, 'The good, the bad and the surly'?"
Gray glanced at her. "Don't give up your day job."
Meanwhile Sailor Venus had felt her head clear enough to remember what she'd wanted to talk to Gray about. She'd been too dazed to mention it after Nephrite's attack. Gray was still talking to the new Sailor Warriors. Makoto and Rei were studying Arcturus and muttering how they'd look a lot better than that in a few years. Maybe she could get a few answers. "Gray!"
Gray looked relieved to drop whtever he'd been discussing with his partners, sidekicks, whoever. "Yes Sailor Venus?"
"I know why you're in Japan."
"You do?" He sounded puzzled.
"It's because of Calcite isn't it?" Gray and Arcturus tensed slightly, Polaris looked astonished.
"I know he's in town. He phoned me a few days ago."
"He did?" Polaris looked like she was about to say something but Arcturus silenced her. Gray was silent for a moment then said, "I'm not ready to discuss my reasons for being here yet. Calcite is small fry, nothing to worry about." He turned to his companions, "The enemy's gone so there's no reason to remain. We're leaving."
"But ..." Polaris had been hoping to hang out with the real Sailor Warriors. Still she'd learned when her brother wouldn't stand being crossed and this was one of those times. Somewhat resignedly she said, "OK big brother."
Gray looked at Arcturus, "If you're finished posing we'll get out of here."
She shrugged, "Fine by me. I imagine there's no shortage of pictures of me after this."
"Right. Let's move Polaris. You too Dominatrix Arcturus."
"That's Sailor Arcturus."
The three of them headed away in a series of superhuman leaps. The crowd began breaking up. Mars and Jupiter tried doing their signature poses but no one seemed really interested. Venus heard Rei muttering something about how it had to be silicon. Usagi was saying that she'd wanted to talk to Polaris again. She'd thought she recognised a kindred spirit. Minako stopped herself from saying something negative. One thing she did know from their reactions. Somehow Calcite was involved with their presence and Gray didn't want anyone interfering.
Ami was gazing in the direction the trio had disappeared and said, "I wonder how hard it is keeping all that leather clean." She became aware she'd spoken out loud and that everyone was looking at her. Ami blushed a brilliant crimson and muttered something about oxidation.
Jupiter looked at Mars. "It's always the quiet ones."
Mars nodded, "Absolutely. Guess she's going to give her SM initials a whole new meaning."
The extremely embarrassed Ami was rather glad when this teasing was interrupted by the belated arrival of Tuxedo Mask. "Sorry I'm late Sailor Moon. So what happened?"
As Usagi began filling him in Minako felt a tap on her shoulder. This guy looked like a reporter. "Excuse me Sailor ... Jupiter?"
"I'm Sailor Venus!"
"Sorry. Mind telling me who the new guys were?"
Well why not? Publicising Gray and the others might scare Calcite into the open. Where she'd be waiting for him. "Sure. The man was an English superhero by the name of Gray ..."
Meanwhile some distance away the trio had ducked into an alley. Calcite had cast a new glamour spell so it would appear empty to the average passerby. He studied Azurite's outfit again and asked, "No whip?"
"I thought that would be a bit over the top."
"First Ti now you! I credited you with a bit more sense than this. Low profile, remember?"
"That was when we thought we were getting caught up in an attack on the Sailor Warriors. But it's time to face facts. We are getting targetted. To be more specific you are. Unless you think it's coincidence that you've been at all three of the attack sights."
Calcite sighed, "I'm afraid you're right and I could certainly use some backup. But when we discussed the possibility we were talking about a Gray spinoff not another Sailor Warrior."
Azurite shrugged, "I thought about it but I decided that calling myself Lady Jane Gray or whatever and wrapping myself in all over body armour wasn't me. If you've got it flaunt it as they say so I decided the Sailor Warrior outfit would look better. With a few touches to make it unique."
"I'd say you succeeded."
"I'm a model remember. I often wear a lot less than this in public. Anyway that's not what's really bothering you."
"You're right. But it can wait till we get home."
Azurite reached for the bow on her chest and removed one of Pyrite's crystals. "I'll need to switch this off first. Which reminds me of our next problem." At Calcite's puzzled look she continued, "Did you wonder why I was so sure Zoisite wouldn't warp away from my attack?"
"No. I thought maybe you'd got lucky and he'd exhausted his precision jumping power again."
"This is Pyr's latest invention. When activated it prevents teleporting in its vicinity. Which is why I joined the party so late. I arrived at the wrong end of the park and activated it. Which meant searching for you on foot."
"Pity you didn't arrive sooner. Whoever's behind this uses precision teleports devestatingly." Something occurred to him. "But Zoisite escaped by teleporting. Is it still working?"
"Yes. Try a short range jump to the other end of the alley."
Calcite focussed on the destination and felt his mind fill with static. He almost lost his balance, leaned against the wall and shut down his teleporting power. After taking a deep breath he said, "Certainly seems effective."
Azurite nodded, "It'll block us but it couldn't block Zoisite. Don't ask me why."
"I'll ask Pyrite. Shut it down and let's get out of here." Azurite nodded. Titanite, who'd been sulking since getting dragged away from the park, suddenly looked apprehensive.
"Uhm couldn't we just change back to normal then walk home?"
"Sorry. The senshi might have traced us to this alley. So a mysterious exit is in order. Let's link." Both Azurite and Pyrite took one of Ti's arms. Their teleporting powers linked, so they'd all arrive at the same destination. Azurite sensed Calcite's selected arrival point in her mind. It wasn't much of a surprise. Calcite detonated the smoke grenade and let the alley fill with a grey cloud. There was a flare of light and they were gone.
They rematerialized in the bathroom. As before Ti was hit with severe nauseau. However once that subsided she looked healthier than before. Still very pale but still able to stand upright without help. Calcite deactivated the Gray costume but didn't restore his glamour. Titanite just removed her mask, Azurite didn't even bother doing that. They all trooped down to Pyrite's workroom.
After admiring Azurite's costume Pyrite got down to business. "Glad you're all safe, things looked bad on the crystal ball for a while." He waved a hand at the glass globe. It showed the park filled with paramedics picking up the drained people and carrying them to the waiting ambulances. "I'll have to design personal communicators. It was terrible seeing what was going on but being unable to warn you."
"Just what did happen? How'd Zoisite keep disappearing?"
"Glad you asked cousin. Watch this." Pyrite did something to the globe and the image shifted backward. In the ball Zoisite disappeared after Sailor Polaris broke Sailor Jupiter free. Pyrite must have focussed it on Zoisite's aura because the image shifted to a sprawled victim on the ground. A victim who looked nothing like Zoisite but hadn't been there a moment ago. Sailor Moon stepped over him as she circled around looking for Zoisite. In the instant her back was turned the figure stood up, became Zoisite and struck her down. Pyrite froze the picture.
Calcite nodded. "So he teleported somewhere out of line of sight, became one of his own victims and took out the first person to give him an opening."
"Looks that way. Shapeshifting in mid warp ... incredible."
"We'll worry about that later. Any ideas how Zoisite beat your jammer?"
"Not yet. He must use a new kind of warp signature. Lucky for us he did it in the middle of my sensor net. I'll have to review the readings. So any other problems?"
"Two." Calcite tossed three chunks of rock on the table. "This is the minor one. Name those stones."
"Well the white one's calcite, this is titanite and this last one ... deep blue crystals ... azurite right?" Calcite nodded. "Very pretty, it suits you." Azurite took the chunk and studied it. The first time she'd seen her namesake. Not a bad stone to share your name with.
Calcite sighed and said, "Now we come to the big problem. When Zoisite attacked I shielded Mai." Azurite groaned. "It was an instinctive response! But it leaves us with a problem."
Titanite looked at her brother. "You're going to mess with her mind?"
"Maybe. Problem is the Jadeite incident caused a trauma and Zoisite's attack was close enough to associate with it. So it might be deeply buried in her mind. Which means if I try to block it ..."
"... You risk scrambling who knows how many memories. Terrific." Azurite didn't look happy. "So what's the plan boss?"
"You do run our merry little group."
"Funny I don't recall asking you to come up with a secret identity out of some specialist catalog."
"I like it", Pyrite contributed.
Azurite shrugged and said, "You didn't say not too. Besides you needed backup so I tried to anticipate your orders."
Calcite smiled, "I'm the leader but all my followers are anarchists. OK getting serious I'll try to defuse Mai by telling her some of the truth."
"That I'm secretly the superhero Gray and it's my job to protect people, especially her, from lifeforce draining demons."
"That might work. Of course she might want to know what your connection is to Sailor Arcturus." Pyrite spread his hands. "Just something to think about."
Azurite nodded. "It's worth a try Cal. So what now?"
"Well the current pattern seems to indicate we're getting a general every other day. I expect Kunzite to show up on tuesday. Very possibly in my vicinity since I've been at the sight of every attack."
Pyrite shook his head. "Not quite. You went to the site of Jadeite's second attack. He didn't come to you. In fact so far only Jadeite's appeared more than once. Which is interesting."
"You think maybe it really is Jadeite behind a series of masks?" Pyrite nodded and Calcite added, "But Jadeite wasn't a shapeshifter. At least I never heard anything along those lines."
Azurite nodded, "All I can say is that was Zoisite out there today. I met the little creep back in the Dark Kingdom and I recognised the aura. It wasn't just a glamour."
Pyrite shrugged, "I don't have all the answers."
Calcite said, "Regardless whoever's behind this knows we're around and is trying to involve us in his battles with the Sailor Warriors. Including getting Sailor Venus to hunt for a fake Calcite. Whoever our impersonator is he's obviously been doing me. Or rather the Lord Calcite identity I used. Worse if he phoned Venus that means he also knows her real identity."
"So what's the plan big brother?" Titanite was looking solemn.
"Since we're involved we'll try going on the offensive. On tuesday we'll attempt to trap Kunzite. Hopefully by then you'll have got the bugs out of your jammer Pyr. We pick an ambush site, wait for him to appear near me and then ..."
"And then Sailor Polaris, Sailor Arcturus and Gray take him out right?" Titanite felt excited. Until she noticed the others didn't share her enthusiasm.
Calcite looked her in the eye and said, "We consists of Azurite and I with Pyrite providing technical backup. You will be nowhere near the place." She started to object but Calcite cut her off. "You don't know how to use your powers effectively so you'd be in the way and just give Kunzite an easy target. You've been lucky twice but your luck ran out today. You'd have been killed if I hadn't blocked Zoisite's second shock blast."
Ti looked to Azurite for support and saw her shake her head. "Cal's right. Until you know what you're doing you'd be a liability not an asset. Today proved that."
"I let you keep the transmuter bracelet so you could defend yourself without compromising Titania Hobbes identity. Not so you could go out and look for trouble which is what you did today."
Ti felt shocked. They were banning her from being Sailor Polaris. She was about to protest when she caught her brother's expression. She subsided with poor grace.
Calcite turned to Pyrite, "Think you can get on with making an effective jammer."
He nodded, "Sure I'll start studying the data." He paused then added "Things'll go quicker if Azure helps me."
She leaned over and asked, "Want me to keep the costume on?"
"For a little while."
Calcite took his sister's arm and steered her out of the basement. "Right, let's go. I'll see you both later."
Before Titanite could say anything else Cal said, "The two of us are going to discuss the concepts of self defense vs going out looking for trouble. I advise you to listen closely."
Calcite closed the door behind them. Rebelliously Titanite was thinking that this wasn't over with. She didn't care what the adults thought, Sailor Polaris would be back.
That night all four of them were grouped around the television watching the news. Cal was looking depressed, he hadn't been able to find Mai. If she was home she was neither answering the phone or the door. He'd tried tracing her by the shielding crystal he'd given her but it had exhausted its charge and couldn't be detected.
Behind the local newsanchor an artists conception of the five Sailor Warriors appeared. He said cheerfully, "Another sighting of the mysterious Sailor Warriors. As always they couldn't be accurately described by witnesses and all the photos of them are blurry. However a new group who could be photographed have shown up." The picture was replaced by a photo of Sailors Polaris and Arcturus talking to Gray.
Calcite commented, "They must use some sort of magic that blurs their features in human minds and on film. No wonder they can not wear masks and still remain unknown."
The reporter described the incident and named the newcomers. Then the screen split and a 40ish man identified as "Mr. C. Inoue" the head of Juban modelworks appeared on the reporter's left. He explained that he was very excited by the appearance of these newcomers as he hoped it would revive the flagging Sailor Warrior model line. The picture changed to a photo of Sailor Arcturus. "Now we think she'll be the biggest seller. We already have a whole line of Arcturus merchandise on the drawing boards."
"Fast workers", Pyrite commented.
On the television the interviewers voice was asking what they were doing about the existing toy lines. The split screen showed Sailor Arcturus on the left and Sailor V (a still from the movie) on the right. Inoue's voice replied, "Well we're phasing out the Sailor V line to make room." The picture of Arcturus expanded pushing Sailor V of the screen. The screen changed back to the interviewer and Inoue. The latter continued, "Interest in Sailor V has really waned among the toy buying public. We'd hoped for a revival when the movie came out on video but it just didn't happen."
"Aren't there worries about promoting American Sailor Warriors over our homegrown ones?"
"That's far too provincial. Anyway Gray is English rather than American. We haven't established the nationality of the other two yet. We expect him to catch on with the boys since he's obviously more of a traditional hero than Tuxedo Mask."
Calcite chuckled, "Ah yes a traditional hero. Looks serious all the time, talks as little as possible, hates showing emotion and likes blowing holes in things."
"Hey you created the guy big brother." Ti seemed to have relaxed since Calcite's impassioned lecture. Maybe she'd got the message and had given up on Sailor Polaris.
She hadn't and hearing about getting her own toy line just increased her determination. Sailor Polaris would be back.
Back on the TV the interviewer was asking, "Isn't it tricky making toys based on real people rather than anime characters."
"Actually it's easier. Nobody knows who they are and they don't want to expose their identities. Which makes them public domain so we don't have to worry about license fees. It's a lot cheaper than using copyrighted characters."
The interviewer thanked him and went on to the next item. Azurite turned and asked, "Cal, you're in finance. Any way we can collect on those vultures exploiting our image?"
"Well we could set up a corporation to register and license our identities. The problem is how to collect funds from it without giving ourselves away. I'll give it some thought once the current crisis is over. Of course once we've taken out whoever's behind it we can retire our characters. So it's sort of irrelevant.
Titanite was thinking that she was nowhere near ready to retire Sailor Polaris.
Minako Aino was one of thousands who'd witnessed that broadcast. She was the only one currently stalking around her bedroom snarling. Artemis had got out of her way and was staying very quiet. "Phase out Sailor V, no one cares anymore, replace me with some leather wrapped bimbo! Where's the justice?"
Artemis found her glaring at him. Perhaps it wasn't a rhetorical question. He began saying, "Uhhh..."
"Exactly no justice! I'll show 'em. I'll switch back to Sailor V and ..."
"Then they'll wind up cancelling all the Sailor Venus stuff when she drops out of sight."
Minako hesitated, "Then I'll switch back and forth."
"That'll just confuse everyone. Besides you didn't become a Sailor Warrior for personal glory. Anyway you never got any royalties for that stuff anyway. Besides you got your own movie which is more that Mars, Moon, Mercury or Jupiter got."
"I suppose. I'm just being silly aren't I"
Artemis was smart enough not to answer that truthfully. "Not at all. I'd be unhappy if I was replaced by someone just because she's more beautiful, better built, a sexier dresser ..." He trailed off as he realized Minako didn't appreciate his assessment. He changed the subject fast. "So did you find anything out from Gray about Calcite?"
"No. He's still acting as mysterious as possible. Jerk."
"Pity we don't know who he is or we could track him down and try again."
Minako smiled, "You may not know who he is but I think I do."
"I haven't told anyone this but I think I've deduced it." She had Artemis's undivided attention. "Remember the first attack at the school?" He nodded. "Well Ms. Saito's English boyfriend was there. Suddenly Gray, who retired because of the lack of paranormal threats, is back. Except for some reason he's in Juban rather than London. Also he's hunting Jadeite who just zapped Ms. Saito."
"Along with 29 others."
"None of whom had any connection to England, I checked. There's more."
"He's got a sister who'd make a good match for Sailor Polaris. Except for the haircolor."
"Interesting. So who's Sailor Arcturus?"
Minako hesitated. "Well that I don't know. I'll have to investigate."
"Hopefully without giving away your own identity in the process.
"I'll be careful Artemis." Then she looked troubled. "But my identity isn't as secure as we thought. Calcite knows who I really am. We've got no idea who he's told or what he's planning."
Artemis sighed. "I know. We don't even know if that was the real Zoisite. Like Jadeite all we know is one day he went back to the Dark Kingdom and didn't return."
"Maybe. But I think Kunzite implied Zoisite was dead."
"I suppose we'll have to find out. In the meantime you should get some rest. There's no saying what tomorrow will bring."
Elsewhere Zoisite looked in a mirror and said, "Kunzite-sama I loved you" and closed his eyes. His features shifted, his hair shrank and turned white. Kunzite studied his reflection and said, "I will avenge your death Zoisite." Then he began to laugh. Just one more act and it would be time for the endgame. He could hardly wait.
End of part 3
Next in part 4 - Things begin unravelling for the renegades as the mysterious plan moves towards its conclusion.
Part 4 : Evidence.
Sailor Moon : Refugees
by Mark Latus
A five part fanfic
Based on characters and situations created by Naoka Takeuchi
Part 4 - Evidence
It was monday night when Titanite made her move. As everyone had expected there were no youma incidents. For whatever reason it existed the two day cycle seemed real. Tomorrow would be the big one, the day they tried to end this once and for all.
It was close to midnight but none of the adults seemed to think Kunzite would appear as soon as the date changed. She paused by the door to the living room. She could hear them discussing it, trying to make sense of it all.
"Look that section of the docks would be perfect. With Cybertech in receivership there's no activity around their warehouses. It means we don't have to worry about innocent bystanders." Calcite sounded a bit down. Ms. Saito hadn't been at school today and there was still no sign of life at her apartment. Cal seemed to think she might be hiding from him.
"I'll buy that. The only problem is we don't know when the attack will come. Jadeite attacked wednesday afternoon, Nephrite on friday night and Zoisite on sunday morning. Time of day seems to vary widely. It'll make for a long day." Azurite sounded ready for a fight. Why had Azure got to keep her secret identity while she'd had to abandon Sailor Polaris? It wasn't fair! Adults! We're older, we know better indeed. The truth was they had no better idea what was going on that she did.
Pyrite decided to put in his two cents. "Actually there could be another cycle we haven't considered. Afternoon, night, morning. I'd guess Kunzite will appear in the afternoon. If there's a fifth appearance it'd be thursday night, and so on."
"There will be no fifth appearance!" Her brother sounded determined. "This ends tomorrow! The longer this goes on the bigger the risk to all of us. We're damn lucky Ti just got bruised yesterday. She'd dropped her glamour completely so if she'd bled ..."
"That would have been bad. Still didn't you say something about there being English bluebloods?"
"That's just a figure of speech Azure."
"I wondered. Meanwhile we've got something else to consider. Say Pyr's right and Kunzite shows up tomorrow afternoon, can the two of us take him?"
"I've been wondering about that. Particularly if Pyr's right and it's really Jadeite wearing other people's faces."
Pyrite broke in, "It's a better theory that Nephrite and Zoisite returning from the dead. Whoever's behind this has some serious power. No offense Cal, you're tough but you couldn't match one of the four. Jadeite was in the perfect position to fall into our warpgate. I've been thinking it over and none of the other sleepers had that much power. Mainly they were youma around Magnesite's level who managed to offend Beryl so much she deepfroze them instead of simply killing them."
"There's another possibility 'cept she didn't have this kind of power ..." Azurite's voice broke off suddenly. "Uhhh think I've had enough wine. Here Cal why not finish the bottle. You look kind of down." Titanite tried to make sense out of what Azurite had started saying. Who was 'she'?
"Thanks. What were you saying I didn't catch it?"
"Nothing important. Anyway getting back to Jadeite ..."
Calcite cut her off, "I don't think it is Jadeite." Pyrite started to interrupt but Calcite overode him. "I'm the only one who's been at the sight of all three generals' reappearances. Now Jadeite was acting like he'd just got out of his crystal and he had no idea there were now five Sailor Warriors. But Nephrite recognised that girl Naru and Zoisite mentioned hunting for the rainbow crystals. Both of those happened after Jadeite got eternal sleep. If they were really Jadeite how'd he know that?"
Silence followed broken by Azurite saying, "He's got a point Pyr. But that leaves the question of who we're up against, why people around Cal are targetted for energy draining and how it knows who and what we really are?"
"I wish I knew. We also know whoever it is knows Sailor V ... I mean Sailor Venus's real identity. Phoning her and pretending to be Lord Calcite isn't a good sign. Maybe whoever it is plans to expose us to the Sailor Warriors. The only thing we do know is that there must be a youma behind all this. Whoever it is has way too much knowledge about the Dark Kingdom."
"All of which means you don't want to call in the Sailor Warriors for backup?"
"You've got it Azure. Last thing we need is them around when the fake Kunzite says, 'oh by the way Gray and Sailor Arcturus are actually Calcite and Azurite of the Dark Kingdom'. Since we're not facing the real Kunzite we should be able to take him out together. Especially since without any witnesses we'll be able to use our full powers and fight unheroically."
"I don't know about that cousin. Maybe it isn't Jadeite but whoever it is isn't going to be a pushover. He has some real power."
"That Pyr, is why we're counting on your inventions. Attack patterns indicate whoever it is uses precision teleporting to get right next to a target before striking. Your new improved jammers should prevent that. His long range attacks we can face. Make no mistake we are going to end this!"
Titanite figured she'd heard enough. They definitely weren't intending to include Sailor Polaris in their attack plan. She was about to head for the basement when Azurite mentioned the objective of her raid.
"The only problem Cal is we can't be sure the creep'll show up around you. Remember the second Jadeite incident? You weren't present when he materialized. You had to use Pyr's aura tracker to find him. And that was useless until he manifested about a kilometer from you."
Pyrite sounded a little offended at this reference. "Look there are limits to how much range you can give a hand held unit. Which is why Cal had to use a search pattern. Besides even the heavy duty scanner's having trouble with this one."
"Good point. Zoisite appeared in the heart of your sensor web ..."
"And I set it cover the whole zone while he was there. Theoretically if he teleported to anywhere in the zone I should have detected it."
"But you didn't."
"Look I spent hours going over Azure ... the sensor logs. There was no sign of where Zoisite went when he warped. I figure there are three possibilities. The first is the least likely, namely that he left the zone. Since he'd start dying right away I consider it unlikely."
"Then why consider it at all?"
"Just on the wild chance that he's found a way to use human energy to temporarily shield himself somehow while outside the zone. I don't see how you'd do it but it does explain the need to drain humans. The second possibility is he shifted to a pocket universe. If it is Jadeite he could have created or accessed a minor space/time bubble. Remember when he was dumping those buses in that continuum?"
"Yeah. Amazing someone that powerful could screw up so much. So what's the other possibility?"
"That he's still in the zone but he's got a shielded hideout. Somewhere that I can't detect jumps in and out of."
"Like this house?"
Azutite broke in. "You know if this was a horror film he'd turn out to be hidden in here right under our noses."
"I scanned. Only four lifeforms in here."
"Just cautious. Now pass the bottle Cal my throat's dry from all this talking."
Titanite slipped away and headed for the stairs. Pyrite's lab was unlocked. He only sealed the basement when there were outsiders in the house. She eased inside and hoped he hadn't added a security system.
No alarms sounded, so far so good. Every surface was covered with crystals of various sizes and shapes. Her cousin had grown most of them since arrival, he'd had to leave most of his old equipment behind in the Dark Kingdom. She'd never studied youma technology, or human technology for that matter. Long as it functioned when activated she didn't care how it worked. Oh she knew a few of the broad principles of magick but the actual nuts and bolts behind it? Not a chance. Still this was now a dying art with Pyrite its' only remaining practitioner. That was a shame though the loss of most Dark Kingdom traditions was something that was fine with her. Particularly the "kill the renegades" philosophy.
She'd been in here earlier this afternoon and innocently asked about tracking down the generals. As she'd hoped Pyrite had pointed out the devices she was thinking about. Now as long as he hadn't moved them ... There!"
The two handheld trackers were still on the same shelf. The heart of it was an enchanted crystal but Pyrite had added a plastic shell and various lights and meters. This made it look like a technological artifact rather than a magical one. She wasn't too surprised to note that they now resembled tricorders. She reached up and removed the unit at the back. Pyrite had mentioned he hadn't bothered telling Cal he'd built a second unit. At the time he'd been expecting both Azurite and Calcite would end up warping around the city trying to track down the mystery youma. But with the current ambush strategy, the enemy's camoflague ability and the trackers short range they weren't going to be much use. So hopefully no one would notice one of them was missing.
Titanite quietly exited the lab and headed for her bedroom. She slipped the tracker into her schoolbag then sat down at her desk. Unfolding her city map she tried to find the docks Cal was planning on waiting at.
School the next day passed with agonizing slowness. Cal and Azure had left early to set their trap. Just in case the afternoon wasn't the time the imposter turned up. Nobody relished the though of Kunzite showing up and zapping their neighbours. Which could mean she'd miss all the action. It wasn't fair, Sailor Polaris should be there!
At lunchtime she phoned home. Cousin Pyrite told her he hadn't heard or sensed a thing. It was all quiet at the docks.
Meanwhile inside a locked warehouse Cal and Azure were unwrapping the burgers Cal had got from a local McDonalds and remembering their favorite foods from the old days. Cal was just mentioning the lack of insects in most human cuisine and the puny size of all the terran ones except lobster. Yes that doesn't really qualify but that's how he thought of it. Anyway as he finished something occurred to Azurite. "Say Cal will your absence cause any problems at work?"
He shook his head. "When you can control minds it's real easy to arrange sick days."
"Oh. So what happened to your spiel about the ethics of doing that?"
"Survival comes first. That probably indicates a certain lack of morality on my part but I'll feel guilty later."
"Whatever works. I'm just lucky the sportswear shoot got rescheduled to thursday."
Calcite smiled and his eyes glowed briefly. "Luck had nothing to do with it."
"You sneaky bastard!" She said it with a certain admiration.
"That's why I'm the leader."
Back at the school, waiting impatiently for the day to end, Ti realized that two people were watching her. Ms. Saito had returned and was teaching today. Whenever Ti passed her in the corridor or walked past her classroom she was stared at intensely. Several times she had the impression Ms. Saito was about to speak to her but changed her mind. Probably something to do with what she'd seen Calcite do on sunday. Ti reminded herself to tell Cal about this whenever she next officially saw him.
The other watcher could be a problem. Minako Aino, aka Sailor Venus seemed to be keeping an eye on her. Whenever she saw Ti was aware of her she'd look away in a hurry. Still it was undeniable, she was being watched. But why? She was using Pyrite's blocker and her own mental disciplines to hide her aura. Assuming the Sailor Warriors could detect youma auras anyway. Her glamour was (supposedly) undetectable especially as it did so little, merely changing her haircolor and bloodcolor (at least within the confines of the illusion).
There might be a far simpler explanation. Perhaps she should have made a few additional changes in her appearance when she became Sailor Polaris rather than simply dropping the glamour. Lucky she'd thought to alter her voice a little by messing with the translator.
Eventually the final bell rang. Ti made excuses to her friends and headed off alone. She did take the precaution of checking she wasn't being followed. But there was no sign of her fanclub. Running as fast as she could without attracting attention she headed for the bus stop. Once there she fished out a notebook and reviewed the route she'd worked out for getting to the docks.
Inside the warehouse Calcite and Azurite waited for action. It was close to the time Jadeite had appeared on wednesday afternoon. Each waited in their own fashion. Calcite leaned against a pile of steel beams and waited to sense the presence. To make doubly sure he had Pyrite's tracker with him. Azurite paced up and down the floor pausing now and then to brush off the dust her footsteps raised. They'd both changed to their goodguy identities some time back and she was pretty sure he appreciated the way she looked as she moved. She handled herself well in combat it was the waiting she found hardest. Which was probably why she said, "Cal?"
"Hmmmm? What's up." He emerged from his introspective haze. Probably daydreaming about his girlfriend again.
"Apart from a few wiseguy remarks you haven't said a thing about how I look. I've noticed you watching so how about an honest opinion?"
"Azure, you are and have always been one of the most beautiful women I've ever known. In your case it's far more than skin deep and were we both unattached I'd be doing my best to get you to notice me."
"That's ... why didn't you say that before?"
"Because when we met I was already involved with Margrave and not long after that you were seeing Pyrite. Just the way things worked out. Maybe it was for the best. You were happy, I was happy. There's not much point in might have beens."
"How bad do you think it's going to be?" Was he saying this because he didn't think they'd make it?
"Difficult but we've taken down tough guys before. Melore, Aszram ... they were dangerous but we make one hell of a team. Don't worry."
"Nothing, forget it. Let's just hope this sucker shows up soon so you can go square things with Mai."
Meanwhile Minako had just got home when her mother said, "There's a call for you, dear."
"Thanks Mom." She took the phone from her mother and said, "Hello?"
"Hello Sailor V ..." That voice, Calcite! "... I just thought you might to know where we can hold a little reunion."
"Where!" Her mother heard the venom in her tone and wondered who she was talking to. She thought she heard Minako mutter something about piers and docks. Minako finished the call by shouting, "I'll be there!" and slamming the phone down. Her daughter headed for the front door saying, "sorrysomethingscomeupgottagodon'twaitupbye!" and was gone before she could protest. What was with that girl lately? Gone at all hours, showing up with bruises and feeble explanations as to how she'd got them. What was Minako mixed up in and why hadn't she done something about it before? Oh her friends seemed like nice girls but ...
Something soft rubbed against her leg. She looked down and saw Minako's cat Artemis. He meowed and she picked him up. Such a friendly cat despite the way Minako yelled at him sometimes. She stroked his white fur and he purred with contentment. She caught a reflection in the window. The way the light struck it Artemis's cresent mark almost seemed to glow. She had the strangest feeling she'd been worrying about something but couldn't quite remember what. Oh well it couldn't have been anything important. She kept petting the cat.
Outside Minako had pulled out her communicator and was telling the others ,"All hell's gonna break loose at the docks at six pm. Meet me there!" She broke the connection before Usagi could come up with an excuse. Then ducked behind a wall, check there were no witnesses and shouted, "VENUS POWER MAKE UP!" The transformation completed she headed for the docks at top speed. Time was running out.
At the docks Titanite had jumped a four meter high fence unobserved after changing to her other identity. Sailor Polaris glanced around the silent warehouses. According to her brother all the properties around here belonged to companies that had gone under. Making it the perfect place for his ambush. Only problem was she didn't know exactly which warehouse they were in. Besides if he saw her too soon he'd send her home. More likely he'd take her home by teleportation leaving her too warpsick to interfere.
Which was why she was planning on using the tracker to find the site of the action. She activated the device and turned it up to maximum scan. She should be able to find any youma aura in the vicinity. Unless her brother and Azurite could block all traces of their aura. The tracker bleeped loudly. There was a well shielded youma close by, very close by, almost on top of her!
Then she said a few words that would have surprised Calcite. It was her own aura, she'd forgotten to compensate for that. She made the adjustments Pyrite had shown her and tuned herself out. There was a faint signal to the east. Moving quietly and sticking the shadows she crept towards Warehouse 21. She'd show them that she wasn't useless. Sailor Polaris was going to kick some youma ass!
Meanwhile west of Titanite in Warehouse 15 Calcite started slightly. He'd thought he sensed something. He signalled Azurite to stand ready and tried to pinpoint the source. His mind reached out and found ... nothing. The tracker was silent. Could it just be nerves? The fake generals hadn't made any effort to hide their presences ... with the exception of Zoisite who'd briefly masked his aura prior to striking. Azurite looked to him and he said, "It may have been nothing, I could just be edgy."
"You're not given to jumping at shadows Cal."
"Not as a rule but everyone gets nervous. For now we just wait and see what happens." Both fell silent and waited. They had a far better idea what combat was like than Titanite and had long ago lost their illusions of immortality.
Meanwhile Titanite had reached Warehouse 21. Something was wrong. The very faint signal was completely stationary and only indicated a single presence. She suddenly felt her mouth dry up. What if this was a shielded Kunzite waiting to launch his attack? She hesitated a moment then touched the charm on her bracelet. If things went bad she'd use the emergency signaller and Cal and Azure would teleport to her rescue. In fact this could be good. If she uncovered the bad guy's hideout alone they'd have to acknowledge her value.
The warehouse was sealed and she wasn't about to try 'porting in. Spotting a window on the second floor level she jumped up to it. It was covered by a security screen. She examined it and couldn't see any wires. So hopefully there were no alarms. Ti glanced around to see there weren't any witnesses. None were visible. Good. She didn't want Sailor Polaris wanted for B & E.
Ti braced herself against the ledge, seized one end of the screen and heaved. The heavy wire mesh ripped loose with a (to her) deafening screech. She stopped and looked around. Still no one in sight, the tracker showed no movement inside. She kept pulling until the gap was large enough to squeeze through. She paused a moment to wipe her the sweat from her palms (caused by nervousness not exertion) and slipped inside.
She found herself on a catwalk encircling the warehouse. The place was full of crates but there was a clear patch in the center. The thing in that space was the source of the signal. Whatever it was it didn't even look to be alive, let alone Kunzite. She sighed half in exasperation and half in relief. Whatever it was she'd better check it out. It was faintly radiating youma energy so it must be important.
Titanite jumped from the catwalk and landed without injury. Pity she couldn't use her strength in school sports. She'd have broken olympic records. She crossed to the broken object and tried to figure out what it was, it looked familiar somehow. She picked up a piece and tried to figure where it fit. The indentation looked ... suddenly she knew what it was. The last time she'd seen it it had stood upright and been occupied. She was a genius, she could hardly wait to tell her brother. This meant ... this meant that Cal and Azure were in a lot more danger than they thought! The thought was like a bucket of icewater down her spine. She had to warn them!
Suddenly her tracker screamed! It was detecting youma presence everywhere. She spun around but saw nothing. What was happening? The tracker screamed on warning her of nonexistant enemies all around! Then the hand closed on her shoulder. Her head snapped around and she looked into the merciless pale eyes below the shock of white hair. Kunzite smiled and said "I don't know who you are but that outfit's far too similar to some old enemies of mine. Any last words?"
At the same time Azurite fiddled desperately with the tracker as it continued reporting everywhere in range containing youma. Calcite tried to sense what was going on but felt his mind fill with static. He swore, "He's here! He's flooded the whole area with youma energy somehow. There's no way to track him against the background!"
"Maybe that's what the human energy was for?"
"Maybe. Our big problem now is where's the attack coming from and does he know we're in here? OK, back to back, teleport and shield link and watch the walls!"
"We'll have to shut down the jammers before we can teleport. Meaning he can use his precision jumping!"
"If either of us activates the link the other shuts down their jammer."
"Got it." Their minds forged a mental link. Whichever teleported first the other would transport to the same destination. They waited for the inevitable attack.
Some distance away the other Sailor Warriors had caught up with Venus not far from Warehouse 21. Sailor Jupiter looked annoyed, "This better not be a wild goose chase I'd just found a new boyfriend."
"Does he know that?"
"He was about to."
The doors to Warehouse 21 exploded as the battered Sailor Polaris was rammed through them. The doors slammed open and Kunzite stalked out. He stopped at the sight of more enemies. "You brats again? How annoying!"
Minako was surprised, she'd expected Lord Calcite. But she overcame her astonishment and shouted "CRESENT BEAM SHOWER". No opening speech, Kunzite was far too dangerous. Almost everyone else followed suit except for Sailor Moon who was kneeling by the unconscious Polaris.
"SHABON SPRAY FREEZING!"
"FIRE SOUL BIRD!"
"SUPREME THUNDER DRAGON!"
A black energy sphere surrounded Kunzite and the attacks struck it and were absorbed. Kunzite smiled, "That doesn't work remember?"
Mercury activated her vizor and scanned the sphere. Any energy that struck it was absorbed and became part of the shield. However a physical attack would succeed. "Sailor Moon only kinetic enrgy weapons will breach his shield!"
Not surprisingly Usagi said, "What?"
"THROW YOUR STUPID TIARIA AT HIM!" Everyone gets edgy from time to time.
Usagi stepped away from the injured Polaris and her hand went to her forehead. "OK, Moon Tiarahhhhhhhh!" Kunzite's force beam slammed her backwards. She stopped rolling and lay still. Kunzite smiled at Mercury.
"This shield doesn't stop my attacks remember. Thanks for pointing out the only member of your pathetic group who could harm me!"
Mercury's eye's glittered. "You monster! SHABON SPRAAAAAHHHHHHHH!" Another forcebolt hammered her into the ground. Kunzite surveyed the three remaining warriors.
"Well that's the brains of your group and the most powerful member out of action. Like to kill yourselves now and save me the trouble?"
"Sorry I've got a date to get too. So I'll have to wipe you out!" Jupiter launched herself at Kunzite. Ami had said physical objects could penetrate the shield, at least that's what she hoped Ami had said. So she'd get physical with whitey! The flying kick should take Kunzite square in the face and drop him.
It would have if it connected but Kunzite showed a remarkable turn of speed and siezed her ankle. His arm surged upwards and Minako flew above his head. Then he played crack the whip and she hit the ground hard.
"JUPITER!" Rei was caught off guard by her friend's injury. Kunzite's force pulse caught her squarely and she folded. Venus glanced around. Everyone else was still except for Sailor Polaris who moved slightly. She was on her own and her powers wouldn't stop this guy. Kunzite's smile was cold as he began levitating so he could take out all his targets without obstruction.
"Lord Calcite wants me to thank you for bringing all your friends here to die at my hands. Leave now and I'll let you live!"
"I stand by my friends!" Brave words but what could she do? She couldn't shield them alone, couldn't shoot him down and couldn't reach him in person. Had she brought everyone to their deaths?
Polaris regain consciousness. Things were real bad and she hurt too much to focus her powers. Only one thing she could do. Uttering a silent prayer that it still worked she triggered the emergency signal.
The telepathic siren wailed in the minds of Calcite and Azurite. As one they switched off their teleport jammers and warped.
Kunzite hadn't blasted them yet. Maybe if she could keep him talking Usagi would revive and use the Moon Sceptre on him. A feeble hope but the only one she had. "Why are you doing this?"
Kunzite looked at her with loathing. "You Sailor Warriors got Zoisite killed! Maybe I loved him, maybe I didn't but he was my partner. And when your partner gets killed you're supposed to do something about it. Something like this!" His hand glowed with power.
Eight knives flew towards Kunzite. His image seemed to flicker but he didn't disappear. The blades went straight through the bubble and into Kunzite. Three went straight through him the other five lodged in place. He was starting to yell with pain when the five blades glowed with energy. Kunzite's face twisted in agony, he was in too much pain to scream. He hovered in place writhing for a moment until hurricane force winds from above slammed him into the ground. He dropped the pouch he'd been carrying. As he hit another wind slashed sand into him at typhoon speeds. Somehow he forced himself to his knees. Just in time to see the grey clad figure with the sword coming down on top of him. He tried to focus a blast but it was too little too late. The sword slashed downwards and blood sprayed across the concrete. Minako was a little surprised to see that it was red.
Gray was lowering his bloody sword when someone new hit the ground. He spun to confront him and saw it was Tuxedo Mask. He'd landed by Sailor Moon and was looking at Kunzite in the middle of a spreading puddle of blood. He looked at Gray and said, "Was that necessary?"
"After what he did to my sister? Yes, it was very necessary!" Minako had never heard Gray sound so fierce. It was amazing how little time had elapsed.
"She's not too badly hurt Gray." That came from Sailor Arcturus who was at Polaris's side. Winds still swirled around Arcturus ready to strike if needed. It occurred to Calcite he'd just blown the secret of his connection to Sailor Polaris. Screw it.
Tuxedo Mask announced Sailor Moon would be alright in a few hours when she got over the concussion. Gray standing over Kunzite with his sword ready nodded. "Good. You two check your friends. Arcturus over here. He's still alive and we need answers." Arcturus gently eased Polaris down and came to Gray's side. They'd reactivated the teleport blockers as soon as they arrived. Kunzite wasn't going anywhere. Gray rolled the wounded general onto his back and looked into the pain and hate filled eyes. Sounding in control again Minako heard Gray say, "You're in a lot of pain but it could be a lot worse. I can reactivate the blades and she can sandblast you again but I don't think you want that."
She heard Kunzite cough up a mouthful of blood and gurgle, "No ... I don't ... want that." She finished checking Ami. Mercury was already beginning to revive. She glanced over at Tuxedo Mask who was examining Rei and Makoto and saw him give her the "thumbs up" sign. Hurt but they'd recover. Good. She headed for the pouch she'd seen Kunzite drop. It could be important.
"Drop the mask, let's see who you really are!" Gray looked down at the dying youma. The bleeding figure managed to smile and say, "Fool! it's ... it's not over yet. You've beaten me ... but the master remains. Lord Calcite will destroy you all!"
"WHAT!" Gray sounded amazed, Arcturus looked amazed. Then Kunzite began sinking. It was as though the ground had suddenly turned liquid beneath him. The knives sticking out of Kunzite crackled but it didn't seem to affect him. While Kunzite melted into the ground the blades didn't. They were left behind in the blood pool Kunzite had created. Minako heard Gray swear, "Sonofabitch, the bastard phase shifted!"
"But that's impossible. It's an aspect of teleportation. With the jammers on he couldn't have used it!"
"Impossible or not he's gone."
Both of them were staring at the place Kunzite had been. Minako broke the silence by saying, "So Calcite is the mastermind behind this all! I knew it."
"Don't be ridiculous. Calcite was a low rank youma with delusions of grandeur. He's just a scapegoat."
Minako looked Gray in the eye. "You want me to believe that so you can hunt him down yourself. Well this is my city and he's mine!" AS she waved her arm for emphasis she remembered the pouch. "Oh yeah Kunzite dropped this. Let's have a look!" She ripped it open. Five rocks fell out. "Five? there only used to be one at a time."
Ami called over, "Bring them here. I'll have a look." As she walked over to where Mercury had propped herself up she saw Gray and Arcturus look at each other. Then they crossed over to Sailor Polaris's side.
Sailor Mercury picked up the rocks one at a time. Let's see ... the green one is Kunzite. No big surprise there. This blue one is Azurite, this yellow one is Pyrite, this is Titanite and this last one ..."
"Yes?" Mercury was studying the white stone carefully.
"No doubt about it. This is Calcite."
As he checked Ti's skull for signs of injury Calcite reflected that life was about to get a lot more complicated. Thankfully Ti had added a small glamour to Sailor Polaris so her blood appeared red. She managed a weak grin and said, "Why aren't you yelling at me about my stupidity, big brother?"
"Right now I'm just thankful you're all right. I'll yell at you when I get over that."
Arcturus nodded. "When his voice goes I'll take over."
Titanite looked at them both and managed to say, "I can't say I don't deserve it. But there's something in that warehouse you have to see! Help me up!"
"Take it easy Ti... Sailor Polaris. You're ..."
"Please Gray, Sailor Arcturus. I swear this is important!" She tried to stand up and fell backwards. Cal caught her and picked her up.
"I'll carry you. But this better be important." The trio headed into the darkened warehouse. Minako started to follow but Mercury caught her wrist.
"Wait!" Ami activated her vizor and focused it on the three gaijin. She adjusted the scanner then said, "OK, I can follow everything from out here. If you joined them they'd just clam up again."
Minako looked at Ami with a certain admiration. "You're a lot sneakier than I thought."
Inside the warehouse you could see the wreckage from Kunzite knocking Ti around the place. Azurite decided Ti must have a stronger forcefield than she'd thought. Otherwise she'd never have survived. It was in the exact center of the warehouse that they saw it.
The crystal lay on its side, it was about seven feet long. The top half had been shattered and scattered across the floor. The bottom half was largely intact and still bore the impression of the man who'd been sealed in it. He gently handed his sister to Azurite then squatted down by the crystal. Calcite touched the impression and read the aura. It was faint but he recognised it. In fact he'd encountered it recently. He stood up, looked at Azurite and confirmed, "Jadeite!"
"Damn! So it was him all along. But why this insane masquerade?"
"I don't know. But we hurt him tonight. Next time we'll have to finish it permanently."
"Well with this cycle of his we've got to wait until thursday. Assuming he isn't too injured to show up."
Arcturus handed Polaris back to her brother. He cradled her in his arms and noticed she'd lapsed back into unconsciousness. He told Arcturus, "Bring a piece of that. Maybe we can trace him with that way." She nodded and picked up a chunk about the size of a loaf of french bread. They turned to leave and Ami deactivated her vizor. It was strange, she thought, that the three westerners kept speaking Japanese while they were alone. She'd expected them to lapse into English.
They reemerged and Gray asked how everyone was doing. On being told everyone was recovering or would in time Gray nodded. Carrying Polaris he walked off with Arcturus. Minako watched them turn the corner and wasn't too surprised to see grey smoke emerge from there. They'd be gone with no trace, Gray's standard mysterious exit. She looked at Ami and asked, "So what did you find out?"
Mercury frowned and said, "I'm not sure. Help me in there. There's something I need to see up close." As Minako helped her up she noticed that Kunzite's blood had dried up and become dust. It swirled away in the breeze.
Later at their home Azurite asked Calcite, "So what are you planning to do to punish Ti?"
He shrugged and said, "I'd say warp sickness on top of the battering she got pretty well covers it. At least now she understands this isn't some TV show where the good guys always triumph. That's a fairly good lesson."
"I suppose." She sighed, "So we have to take on Jadeite?"
"Looks that way. At least we hurt him tonight, we know he's not invunerable. Besides if we don't finish the job he'll blame us as the masterminds behind everything he's done. Which means we'd wind up fighting the Sailor Warriors. I wonder if he'll have cycled back to being himself?"
"One damn thing after another, eh Cal? At least we've got a day to recover."
Elsewhere Kunzite studied himself in the mirror. He could see bone through the slash in his chest. No blood emerged from the cut. With one of his lungs punctured his voice sounded funny. Still he managed to say, "You all think you've got until thursday to lick your wounds. So you're going to be very surprised tomorrow. That is the day this concludes..." The wound sealed and his face and body shifted. His waist narrowed and his chest underwent major alterations. Spikes emerged from his shoulders and his hair extended. The voice that continued was a lot higher pitched. "Yes tomorrow we end this charade ..." Queen Beryl smiled, "... By royal decree!" Her laughter echoed through the cavern as she sorted though photographs of schoolgirls each marked with a name; Usagi Tsukino, Ami Mizuno, Rei Hino, Makoto Kino, Minako Aino and Titania Hobbes.
End of part 4
Next in part 5 - All the pieces fit together as the final battle between Sailor V and Lord Calcite begins.
Part 5 : Showdown.
Sailor Moon : Refugees
by Mark Latus
A five part fanfic
Based on characters and situations created by Naoka Takeuchi
Part 5 - Showdown
It was wednesday afternoon and the schools were beginning to empty when the hammer came down. As she often did Ami hurried straight from dismissal to cram school. It was this sort of thing which made her friends appreciate not being geniuses. Who wants to spend more time in school?
Ami was half walking, half running along a strangely deserted stretch of sidewalk when the figure appeared in front of her. She'd seen it only briefly before, as a hologram image that towered over Zoisite and Kunzite, but she recognised it instantly. "Queen Beryl!"
The figure smiled exposing a mouth full of very sharp teeth. "Hello Sailor Mercury. Would you like to surrender and make this easier for both of us?"
Ami's mind had already raced ahead. The Beryl lookalike had to be the same creature that had impersonating the generals. Which Gray and Sailors Arcturus and Polaris were convinced was really Jadeite. It already knew who she was and there were no witnesses therefore ... Even before Beryl had finished her question Ami had shouted "MERCURY POWER MAKEUP!" The costume formed instantly but more importantly she had access to her powers. Delay it and bring in heavy backup! "SHABON SPRAY!" The street filled with a cold peasoup fog. Ami was reaching for her communicator when the hand closed on her shoulder.
Her reactions were good but not quite good enough. As she started to aim at the figure behind her and use the "Shabon Spray Freezing" attack she felt the electricity hit her. Paralysed and hurting she heard Beryl through the haze of the pain. "Nice try. If you'd moved as soon as you cast the fog I couldn't have caught you so easily." Beryl snorted contemptuously, "Amateurs!" then Ami lost consciousness.
The fog began breaking up. Beryl scooped up her unconscious foe and the dropped communicator. To herself she remarked, "One down!" then disappeared along with her burden.
Makoto was heading home alone. Usagi had been kept behind again and Ami had run off to cram school. It always gave Makoto a creepy feeling how eager Ami was to attend extra classes. There but for the grace of God go I to quote an expression she'd heard. Her latest romance hadn't worked out. Actually it hadn't even begun as it turned out he already had a girlfriend. Maybe she should check a bit closer before making her moves. Nahhh, best to stay spontaneous.
She had just decided to go by the arcade and flirt with Motoki (just for practice unless his girlfriend had dumped him in which case ... ) when the youma appeared in her path. "Afternoon Sailor Jupiter. Like to surrender or do I have to hurt you?"
It looked familiar, she'd seen those spiky shoulders before somewhere. Anyway it knew she was Sailor Jupiter and there was no one around so why hesitate? "JUPITER POWER MAKEUP!" No messing around, not after the way she'd been blindsided lately. "SUPREME THUNDER DRAGON!" The pavement in front of her erupted in electrical fire. Makoto was still half blinded from the flash when something seized her left arm, clamped onto her back and tossed her into the wall.
She managed to roll with the impact and fire a "Supreme Thunder" blast behind herself. Suddenly she realized she'd just used her powers without checking for bystanders. Thankfully the street remained empty. Totally empty! Where was her opponent? Could she have just vaporized her?
No. Youma dust hung in the air longer. Besides she couldn't count on getting that lucky. So where was it? Almost as if it had heard her thoughts the voice echoed around her. "I can see you, can you see me?" She couldn't locate the source.
"Sorry, you're far too violent. I think I'll just stay hidden. You'll never find me alone, you're the dumbest of the senshi."
"Oh yeah!" This thing was claiming Usagi was smarter than her. She'd make it pay for that. She took a step then stopped and frowned. She felt weak, she must have hit that wall harder than she'd thought. Except she didn't feel any pain, just a growing weariness. Standing up was now a chore. Makoto leaned against the wall and felt the strange lethagy spread.
She slumped to her knees. What the hell was wrong with her? As she slipped from kneeling to sprawling on the pavement she heard the voice again. "I figured electrical attack wouldn't work on you so I tried something a little different. My throw was intended to distract you from the draining matrix I planted on your back." As Makoto began pawing at her back she thought she saw someone appear before her. Her vision was dimming so it was hard to tell. The voice continued, "It's immaterial, you can't touch it!" She couldn't feel anything and didn't have the strength to continue.
Her arms felt like lead, it was difficult to move. Makoto managed to fumble her communicator out of her uniform. She had to warn the others before it overwhelmed her.
The kick knocked it out of her hand. The youma smiled down at her and said, "It's a little soon to spoil the surprise."
With the last of her strength Makoto clamped her other hand around the ankle in front of her and whispered "supreme thunder." There was a faint crackle but nothing more. The last thing Jupiter heard before she blacked out was Beryl saying, "Pathetic!"
Rei had just arrived home at the temple when she felt the presence. A youma here? Such desecration couldn't be permitted. "MARS POWER MAKE UP!" The costume had just finished forming when she heard the sarcastic applause.
"Bravo. Such dramatic flare. Have you considered the stage?"
"Well as a matter of fact ... Hey! Don't try to distract me. I am the guardian of this sacred place! You trespass upon holy ground, demon! In the name of spiritual purity Sailor Mars will fry you!"
"Bless you too. Show me what you've got brat!"
"My pleasure, FIRE SOUL BIRD!" Rei's flame construct tore towards the youma. It made no move to defend itself and in an instant the place it stood was wreathed in flame. Rei shielded her eyes against the glare. When the light she could see through her closed eyelids had faded she looked again. The sight shocked her.
The female youma stood unhurt amid the dying flames. Though the ground looked whitehot (fading to red) it showed no sign of discomfort. Even her dress looked unburned. Beryl's grin revealed a lot of sharp teeth. "Sorry but fire doesn't work anymore. I am beyond the weaknesses of the flesh. By the way it's my turn." The youma sounded so casual Rei missed the cue for a crucial moment. She was still diving from her spot when the shockblast slammed her across the courtyard.
Dazed Rei saw the two youmas stalking towards her. No wait, both were identical she was seeing double. She couldn't see to aim straight. Not that it would do much good if the creature was fireproof. What was she supposed to do ... use the spirit wards dummy! The knock on the head must have scrambled her wits temporarily. Now if she could just find the cards before it reached her.
"Hey what the heck are you ARRRGH!" Beryl's pause to zap Yuichiro gave Rei the delay she needed. She'd paralyse the Youma, call in the others to zap it and hope the wards held it until they came. Soon as she called them she'd do what she could to help Yuichiro. She felt a little guilty at not considering this earlier. Here goes nothing!
Beryl reached down, grabbed Rei by the collar and hauled her upright. Rei hung limp playing unconscious. The way she felt after the sudden jerk it wasn't far from the truth. Now! Her hand shot forward and stuck the card to Beryl's forehead chanting the blessing as she did so.
The youma showed no sign of discomfort. Her free hand reached up and peeled the card loose. Rei felt her blood turn to ice, youma could not disregard spirit wards so easily! It violated everything she'd be taught! Beryl glanced at the card and said, "Sorry but I'm more science fiction than fantasy orientated these days." The card burst into flames and was ash in a few moments.
The youma was distracted. This was probably her last chance. Maybe her powers would be effective at point blank range. "FIRE AAAAAAAAAAAHHH!"
Beryl nodded at the unconscious enemy hanging in her grasp. "Three down, Three to go." There was a swirl of lights then both figures were gone.
At the school Titania Hobbes watched the other students leaving through the window. She wasn't in detention, Ms. Saito wasn't one of her teachers. But she'd been very insistent that Ti stay to talk to her. Big brother still hadn't seen her, Ms. Saito must have been avoiding her apartment.
"Thank you for waiting."
"My pleasure sensei." It struck Titanite that the teacher wasn't that many years older than her. OK eight years older but right now she looked younger and very insecure.
After glancing around to make sure no one else was in earshot Mai said, "I wanted to talk to you about a few things not directly concerned with school." She paused then said, "Look I'll walk you to the gates. It'll give time to talk."
Outside in the yard Minako was loitering. Since there wasn't going to be any action until tomorrow she intended to follow Titania. Hopefully she could confirm that the English girl was Sailor Polaris. In which case there were a few questions she wanted answered. The big one being that if Jadeite was responsible for the current attacks where did Lord Calcite fit in.
Speaking of Calcite that's who Mai and Titanite were discussing. Mai wasn't sure how to say this without sounding crazy. "Your brother is ... different."
"That could mean a lot of things sensei. Would you like to be a little more specific?" And as Cal was planning to tell her about his Gray identity Ti added, "Different runs in our family." Mai froze momentarily then continued walking.
"Different as in ... in paranormal abilities." There she'd said it. Mai watched the girl and saw her nod. She was momentarily at a loss for words but went on, "When we were in the park ..."
"He shielded you from the attacking youma.", Ti cut in. "He told me about that. He also told me he's been unable to find you since then and you must be avoiding him."
Mai showed no irritation at the interuption, "Yes I haven't been back to my apartment except for a few brief stops to pick up changes of clothes. I've been staying with an old friend."
"May I ask why?"
"Because your brother scared me! When he said he believed in the supernatural he forgot to mention he was supernatural! When I got out of the park I realized I was as scared of him as I ws of that thing. That's why I didn't go home, because I didn't want him to be able to find me. When I think that we were ..." She broke off remembering she was talking to a minor, "... were dating and all the time he was ... whatever he is and I never realized ... I don't know what's going on anymore. But I've decided I can't stay hidden my whole life. But I don't know what to do next. Since he's your brother I thought you might have a few answers."
Some humans evidently can't handle the idea of the paranormal existing, Ti thought. She'd better be careful handling this or she could screw things up for her brother. Offhand she couldn't think of a good parallel from her comics so she'd have to use her own judgement. "Cal would never do anything to hurt you. In fact he wouldn't even be using his powers if it weren't for the current situation."
"Just what is the current situation?"
"There's a youma roaming Juban draining people's life energy. But it should be over with soon. Then Cal can go back to being normal."
Mai shook her head. "He may not use his powers but he won't be normal. He'll just be pretending to be normal. Underneath he'll still have be different won't he?"
"His powers are part of him, he can chose not to use them but they're as essential to him as the ability to breathe. We were born this way and nothing's going to change that."
Mai stopped dead. "WE! You mean you have powers too?"
Oops maybe she'd said to much, "Uhmm well, what I meant was ... OH SHIT!" This last part wasn't added because of Ti's inability to come up with the right words. She'd added the exclamation because she suddenly sensed then saw the youma who'd appeared in front of them. "QUEEN BERYL?!"
"I hate such familiarity from the lower classes. You should address me as 'Your majesty'. I'll have to punish you for that."
Mai suddenly felt herself shoved aside by Ti at the same time the girl made an impossible leap backwards. The concrete they'd been standing on shattered. Mai was looking backwards at Ti, who'd just broken the olympic longjump record, and saw her change.
Ti slapped the transmuter bracelet as she dived from the spot she'd landed. Ms. Saito was the only witness and this definitely qualified as an emergency where she needed to use her powers. If anyone else came on the scene they'd see Sailor Polaris fighting a youma. The situation stank, she wasn't in top shape after yesterday even with her rapid healing abilities. She'd explained the bruises as the results of falling downstairs and been told she must be as clumsy as Minako. The costume had formed by the time she hit the ground and rolled. As she did she activated her telekenetic abilities.
She had to keep moving. Her brother had given her some tactical advice last night after they got home. After they'd bandaged her and done what they could to minimize the pain she'd gone to bed to let her healing factor do the rest. Cal had sat down by the futon and told her, "Ti you know I don't want you to fight but if you have to you've got to use your powers as effectively as possible. Your force sphere, what the hell, your 'Polaris Missile' is the best weapon you've got. Actually apart from your speed, strength and agility it's all you've got. But it takes time to generate and if you just stand there posing while you do that you're an easy target. So create it while you're moving. I know it's harder but you can't give your enemy a stationary target. Whatever you do remember that."
"I remember big brother here goes nothing!" she thought as the sphere peaked. "EAT THIS!" Whoops she should have given her attack cry. Though it seemed more appropriate somehow.
Mai saw the glowing sphere slam into the youma. It shot backwards into one of the schoolyard walls and the bricks exploded. A thick cloud of powdered brick obscured the impact point. The green haired Sailor Warrior who'd been the brunette schoolgirl just a few moments before flashed the victory sign then tried to peer through the dust. It was amazing how little time had passed. She heard footsteps and turned to see another Sailor Warrior approaching.
"Sailor Venus!" I should have expected her, Ti thought. After all this is her school. She'd started to reach for her emergency signaller but hesitated. Things had happened too rapidly for her to think of using it earlier but now Sailor Venus was here did she still need the backup? Then the dust cleared enough for her to see into the hole Beryl had made in the wall. There was no sign of anyone. "Where ... ?" The hand clamped on her shoulder.
"HERE!" The electricity ripped through Titanite, she spasmed and her hand jerked away from the signaller. The pain became unbearable and Ti blacked out.
"POLARIS!" Minako muttered a few things that would have damaged her reputation if she'd been overheard. She couldn't get a clear shot at Beryl with Sailor Polaris in the way. Then Polaris went limp, Beryl smiled at her said, "Lord Calcite sends his regards", then disappeared taking Polaris with her. A swirling egg shaped energy ovoid remained where Beryl had stood. Well now she knew for sure that Titania was Sailor Polaris meaning her brother was probably Gray. She also knew that the two day Youma cycle was a crock. She had to call the others, maybe they could trace Polaris before it was too late. She had unlimbered the communicator and was trying to send a general call when Mai got over her shock and came towards her. The communicator displayed nothing but static. What the heck? That thing Beryl left, it must be blocking the signal somehow. Easily fixed, "Crescent Beam."
The beam went straight through the ovoid and clipped the top off the school flagpole. Ok maybe not so easily fixed. It must have a limited range, put enough distance between them and the communicator would work again. But why would Beryl (or Jadeite, or Calcite of whoever it was?) want to block her temporarily. Then she realized maybe temporary was all Beryl needed. She just needed a few minutes so Minako couldn't warn any of the others. After all she attacked Polaris in her civilian identity so maybe she knew who the other were. Calcite certainly knew her real name. Hah and they say Ami's the brains of the group, I'll bet she wouldn't have figured it out this quickly.
"Excuse me Sailor Venus ..." The teacher's voice snapped her out of the self congratulatory haze. Instead of being so proud of herself she should be putting some distance between herself and the jammer.
"Uhhgottagobye!" Mai saw Sailor Venus charge away at a ridiculous speed. What the hell was going on? "Mother was right. Never get involved with paranormal gaijin. Well she didn't say that but she certainly should have."
Usagi was heading home in a good mood. Ms. Sakurada had got some phonecall and said she was letting Usagi out of detention early because she couldn't stay to supervise. Things were looking up. Now maybe she could get Mamoru-san to help her with all the homework at his apartment. She was in such a cheerful frame of mind that she walked straight by the lady leaning against the lamppost without a second's thought. She was halfway down the block before she realized she'd just passed Queen Beryl.
No way. It couldn't be! She turned to look and saw Beryl smiling at her. "Hello Sailor Moon. I have returned for a rematch!"
"Oh ... uh could you wait until tomorrow? See I've got this extra homework because of detention and .."
"NO IT CAN'T WAIT! Ahem, you are ruining my stylish menace pose. How you managed to ... no matter. You can fight me as Sailor Moon or die where you stand."
"No third choice?"
"In that case, MOON PRISM POWER MAKE UP! I'm the Sailor Warrior fighting for love and AAAAAKKKK!"
Beryl looked down at the unconscious figure slumped on the street and shook her head. "Kid, there's a time to make speeches and a time to shut up and fight. How you managed to beat the real queen is a mystery to me." She heard the beep, smiled and fished out Usagi's communicator. Sailor Venus's face appeared on the screen.
"Usagi, thank goodness. None of the others are responding. I think maybe ..." Beryl flicked the transmitting switch.
"Maybe they had a run in with me?"
"I'm sorry but Sailors Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter and Polaris can't answer right now. Can I take a message?"
"Beryl I'm going to ..."
"You won't be able to find me. The only thing you can do is go home and wait. Lord Calcite will get in touch with you soon. Bye!" Beryl broke the connection and picked up Usagi. One to go. Both vanished.
Not far away Tuxedo Mask froze in shock. He'd sensed Usagi was in danger and was heading to help her but suddenly he felt nothing. He always knew where he'd find her but now he couldn't sense her presence anywhere. Could she be ...? No. If she'd died he knew he'd have sensed that. Fate had bound them together, their lives were intertwined. She was alive he was sure of that. But somehow she'd been taken someplace he couldn't sense her. Or could she have gone somewhere beyond his range. While he was sure he could find her anyplace on Earth what about beyond? Could she somehow have returned to Silver Millenium? All he could do was go to the last place he'd sensed her and look for clues.
Meanwhile Azurite was browsing through a videostore. Ah here it was, just as Ti had told her. She took it to the counter and asked the clerk to giftwrap it. She'd tell Ti she needn't bother repaying her. It'd be worth it to see the expresion on Cal's face. Besides they could use a few laughs while they could get them. Tomorrow was going to be deadly serious. Could they realistically take Jadeite out? He'd screwed up consistantly against the Sailor Warriors but that wasn't quite the same thing.
As she stepped outside she noticed the street was deserted. Very odd. The road should be packed with cars and the pavement with commuters. It was almost as if something was diverting both from this area. Azurite tensed and began sidling towards an alleyway. Maybe it was just an accident or some roadworks. Or maybe something bad was coming so Azure had better disappear and Sailor Arcturus take over. She felt the youma aura appear, ducked into alley, triggered the costume change and hit her emergency signal. She recognised the aura she sensed. No way, it couldn't be! Calm down, she told herself, we've found out Jadeite can replicate auras. It's not really Queen Beryl.
Beryl's voice rang out, "Sorry Calcite won't be assisting you. I'm blocking your ingenious signaller."
Sailor Arcturus showed no sign of emotion but inside Azurite felt her insides knot up. Shit! Ok calm down. He's a day early but that means he hasn't had much time to heal. Me and Cal really ripped him up last night. So maybe I can take him alone. Maybe hell, I've got to beat him. If I warp out of here he'll follow. Assuming I live long enough to complete the teleport. He can shift instantly while we need time. No choice. She activated the warpjammer, neither of them was going anywhere.
The fake Beryl didn't seem in a hurry to attack. She said, "Nice outfit, really shows the figure. Maybe I should try something like that.
Keep him talking, buy time to build as much power as possible. "Didn't know you were a transvestite Jadeite."
Beryl smiled, "So you figured it out. Well then you should know that you can't beat me. Not on your own."
"Tell that to Sailor Moon."
"SHUT UP! Ahem, she just kept getting lucky. That's all. Well enough of this witty repartee. Goodbye!"
Inside the videostore the clerk, attracted by the commotion, looked outside. She immediately flipped the sign to closed and locked the door. Then dug out a camera and filmed through the window.
Outside Azurite was somersaulting away from Beryl's last shockblast. Why Jadeite was still using the Beryl disguise she didn't know. Maybe it was symbolic, maybe he was just nuts. She spun and aimed at Jadeite. The air funnel created by her vortex generation powers looked like a hurricane turned sideways. It also struck like a hurricane. Beryl was flung backwards and smashed into a retaining wall. Without a forceshield she'd have been smeared, even with one she was hurt. Azurite saw her foe cough up a mouthful of blood. Good, internal injuries. The impact overloaded the shield's kinetic dampening ability. Part of the force got through. No time to gloat she had to press her advantage fast. She didn't have Cal's power reserves this had to end quickly. She slammed another hurricane into the slumped figure. Beryl screamed. Azurite pushed all feelings of mercy aside. No prison could hold Jadeite, if he survived he'd be sure to seek vengeance. She had to end this while her luck held. She had one more superhurricane left. NOW!
Beryl flickered out of existence and the air vortex ripped into unoccupied masonary. Azurite sensed the presence behind her and spun around fast. She almost made it.
Azurite hit the street hard. She was dazed from both the impact and the the combination force blast/electric shock attack she'd been hit with. But how? Beryl had teleported but the jammer ... the jammer! As though she'd read her mind Beryl said, "That's right the jammer doesn't work. It never worked!" She slammed another blast into Azurite then remarked conversationally, "You know if you were human you'd be dead by now." Another blast. "Pyrite's little invention was a masterpiece but he made one crucial error. He thought he was dealing with a youma." She blasted Azurite again then inspected her nails.
"Then ... what ... are ... you?", Azurite managed to gasp.
"Sorry it's a little too soon to tell you. Almost everything is in place. I just need to visit Pyrite and make a few phonecalls."
"Touch Pyrite ... and I'll ... I'll kill you!"
"I'm sure you would if I gave you the chance. But I'm not about to do that. Goodnight." A final blast and everything went black for Azurite. Beryl was about to grab her and depart when she saw the camera. She waved and said, "Is this the end of Sailor Arcturus? Film at eleven." Then she scooped her up and fallen foe and disappeared.
Not long afterwards Beryl was looking at the house the renegades shared. She couldn't teleport in, not with the keyed blocking field in place. Of course she could replicate one of the renegades' auras and then warp in. But it felt more satisfying to do it this way. She surged forward and flung herself at the kitchen window.
Pyrite heard the glass break then felt the aura. He charged up from the basement holding a rod humming with power. "It can't be!"
A kick knocked the rod from his hand and it spun down the hallway. He turned to look into Beryl's merciless eyes. "Yes it can!"
At his office Calcite was finishing up his memo advising the bank to stay away from that bond trader in Singapore. It would probably be ignored but at least he'd have tried. He touched the intercom and asked his personal secretary, "Miami are the phones working yet?"
"I am sorry Hobbes-san but they are still trying to trace the problem. I regret to inform you of a related problem."
"Security has just informed me of a breakin at the parking lot. Many cellular phones have been stolen including yours."
"So no one can phone us?"
"I am afraid so Hobbes-san. A moment please ... A runner has just informed me that we are evacuating the building in case this is an attempt to isolate us prior to an attack."
"An attack? By who?"
"Terrorist, bank robbers, whoever. It seems unlikely but security is insisting we don't take the risk."
"Allright then I'm leaving. But to avoid the certain chaos in the parking lot I'll walk home. Anyway you'd better go now." Miami thanked him and left with an undignified haste.
He picked up his jacket and headed for the elevator. The lobby was full of nervous people determined to show no outward signs of panic. Calcite was one of the few relaxed people. With his powers he was the most likely to survive this hypothetical assault.
After exiting the building he began wandering home. It was a pleasant day for a walk, especially if your lungs can filter out the airborne pollutants and exhale them. As he walked he reflected that it was odd that he was good in his position in the bank. He'd picked the profession because he'd been fascinated by the whole concept after learning about the ideas behind money. Mind control had got him into the position but he'd found he had a flare for it. It was just a matter of learning to see the hidden patterns. He still didn't understand why economists couldn't.
Patterns ... tomorrow Jadeite would reemerge. Possibly as himself, perhaps as someone else again. He'd have to be ready. This was going to be the toughest fight of his life. The question of if Jadeite actually his father was irrelevant. It wouldn't slow Jadeite down if he knew he was facing his son. So I can't let it affect me.
Still one thing he had to give Jadeite was points for style. When he'd been doing his "Lord Calcite" act he'd been unable to match that flawless arrogance. Jadeite still had that quality. He remembered that encounter last Wednesday evening (was it really only a week ago, it felt so much longer) Jadeite floating over the fallen Sailor Warriors declaiming in triumph. He remembered the speech, "Did you idiots truly think you could beat me! I am Jadeite, first of the four. I survived the Eternal Sleep! If I could do that how could anything stop me!"
Calcite frowned, something felt wrong about that. He found a public bench and sat down to think. Had he remembered incorrectly? He stretched his powers of recall casting his mind back a week. Ah yes now he had it, Jadeite didn't say he'd escaped the Eternal Sleep. He said he'd escaped the Big Sl...
Calcite felt something cold creep down his spine. Just a coincidence, Jadeite just happened to use that phrase. It was obvious what he meant. Patterns ... Another memory surfaced. Nephrite talking to that girl before he took on the Sailor Warriors. Impossible, it had to be coincidence.
Then he remembered Zoisite's opening line on Sunday. He'd been right there, why hadn't he picked up the connection. Kunzite just yesterday, his speech about Zoisite. Why the hell hadn't he caught it? He'd seen the damn things more times than he wanted to. But how was it possible? All the other evidence pointed to Jadeite. All the evidence that had been left there for them to find. Could it all be some sick game? But if that was so would the gamemaster keep following his rules? Or would he just kick the board over arbitrarily?
All bets were off. He found a secluded spot and activated his communicator. Several minutes later no one had answered. Thoroughly unnerved he found a payphone and dialed home. The line was busy. But if someone was home why didn't they answer the communicator signal?
He ducked into the first alley he spotted and teleported home. He wasn't prepared for the sight that greeted him.
The place had been wrecked. Shattered furniture was strewn across the living room. He could see blue stains here and there. Blood! He stepped into the hall and saw the phone was off the hook and beeping. Automatically he hung it up. Then he sensed the weak youma aura. Pyrite!
His cousin was a battered mess. His left arm and several fingers on the right hand were broken. His right leg was broken in two places, several ribs had been fractured. Where he wasn't bleeding he was bruised. Pyrite's eyes fluttered open, he saw his cousin leaning over him and struggled to speak.
"Don't try to talk. You'll only strain the internal damage." He couldn't sense the intruder. Ok first thing to do is stop the bleeding while learning the extent of Pyr's internal injuries.
"No ... you have to ... have to listen!" Pyrite paused to draw breath. Cal gently probed for damage as he did this. "It was Jadeite ... looking like Beryl for some ... for some reason. He said ... said he's got Azure and Ti. Wants you ... wants you to come to him. He'll call ... if you don't go where he says ... kill them both."
"I understand. I swear I'll bring them both back. Now rest."
Elsewhere Mai Saito looked at her phone and wondered if she should try phoning Calvin again. The line had been busy an awfully long time.
Cal had stopped the worst of the cuts from bleeding when he heard the phone ring. He snatched it up and managed to repress a threat. This could be another caller, "Hello?"
"Hello Calcite", Beryl's voice hissed from the receiver.
"Let them go now and I'll let you live!"
"Such confidence. Sorry none of my guests are leaving while I'm alive. But I'm going to give you a chance."
"You know the abandoned Star Tower reconstruction?"
"I know it."
"Come through the west entrance at six. No earlier, no later."
"I'll be there."
"I'm looking forward to it."
"Don't because you won't enjoy it."
"We'll see. See you at six." There was a click and the line went dead. Calcite didn't slam the phone down. The sonofabitch thinks he's a master manipulator. Up until now he's certainly been right. So what I have to do is find a way to throw a monkeywrench into his plans.
In her lair Beryl hung up the phone. Everything was proceeding nicely, not long now. Still she sensed her guests were starting to revive. She slipped away.
When Azurite woke up she felt worse than she had in years. She seemed to have sleeping in a very awkward position. In fact she seemed to be hanging in place. She opened her eyes slightly and saw she was looking downward at her legs. They seemed to end just above the ankles. Her eyes snapped all the way open. Fighting down panic she looked again. She could feel her feet inside her boots so they weren't gone. In fact she could just make them out. It looked as though her feet were embedded in a translucent crystal. She looked up and saw her arms seemed to end just above the wrist. So her hands were immobalized as well. She heard a groan to the side and glanced to the right to see Titanite hanging beside her. Being shorter Ti was more stretched by their confinement. About three meters away were another two slabs of crystal. Hanging between them (from left to right) were Sailors Jupiter, Mercury, Mars and Moon. Jupiter had the most slack, Mercury looked the most stretched. Jupiter seemed to be regaining consciousness, as did Mars. Moon sounded really out of it, she was muttering "775 bottles of beer on the wall, 775 bottles of beer, take one down, one down, pass it around, 774 bottles of beer on the wall ..." And so on. (Sorry I don't know a Japanese equivalent). Perhaps her scrambled state of mind was assisted by the new jewel fixed to her tiara. Mercury was awake but staying quiet as she studied their surroundings.
It appeared to be a cave at first glance. Stalactites hung from the ceiling, stalagmites grew from the floor. If you looked closer you could see the regularity of the roof between the stalactites or the concrete between the stalagmites. There were also power cables partially covered by the fake outcroppings. Someone had gone to a lot of trouble to make this resemble a natural cavern. Perhaps for homesickness, there were no shortage of caverns in the Dark Kingdom. Most youma had lived in them. And of course Queen Beryl had held court in the great chamber.
In the meantime the question was how tough was this stuff? Azurite pulled downwards with superhuman strength. Nothing happened except the bones in her forearms creaked. Absolutely no give. Whoever built this was planning to imprison paranormally strong people. She heard a groan as Titanite woke up followed by a gasp as she realized she was trapped. "AZURE!"
"Calm down, we've got company over there." She nodded towards the Sailor Warriors. Jupiter and Mars were awake and trying, without success, to break loose. "Ti ... Polaris, can you use your TK?"
"I don't know. I should be able to." Titanite concentrated on forming a forcesphere between her trapped hands. She could use it to break them free then blast her feet free, hopefully without loosing any toes.
Nothing happened. She tried again. No success. "I can't! I don't understand! It's so basic."
"I think I know why." She called over to the trapped Sailors, "Any of you able to use your powers?"
Mercury shook her head, "No. I think this crystal must somehow block us. I don't know how. Perhaps it absorbs the power we generate or scrambles the part of our brains that access our powers. Either way my powers don't work, neither do Jupiter or Mars's."
Azurite nodded at Sailor Moon. "What about her? Can't she summon the Moon Sceptre and blast us all free?"
"Perhaps she could if she could connect with reality. But she doesn't seem able to focus."
"What else is new?" That was from Sailor Mars.
"That's a little harsh. Actually I think that jewel is intended to keep her in a stupor."
"Like I said what else is new? I'll snap her out of it. HEY TURTLE BRAIN! Stop counting and get us out of this! Look at me Usa...Sailor Moon. WAKE UP YOU IDIOT!" Usagi kept counting down so Rei decided to change tactics "Hey this place is full of cute guys!"
Usagi stopped counting and glanced around. As she did Rei shouted at her to summon the sceptre. Usagi didn't seem to hear. She stopping looking around and let herself hang loosely again. Then she turned to look at Rei and asked, "Was I on 703 or 704?"
"Don't remember either. Start again. 1000 bottles of beer on the wall ..."
Rei kept yelling at Usagi despite Ami telling her to forget it as she'd clearly been brainwashed. Azurite decided to play her trump card. She couldn't sense a jammer field so she'd be able to teleport. She couldn't sense any youma auras so hopefully there captor wasn't around. Quietly she said to Ti, "I'm going to jump free then try and crack this thing with a hurricane punch." And then, she added silently, if it works and the noise doesn't alert our captor I'll break our fellow prisoners free. But if Jadeite comes storming in here I warp the two of us out of here and look for Calcite. That would mean jumping blind as she didn't know where they were now. Not recommended but her options were limited. First though she'd aim for a metre in front of them. Azurite summoned her power and initalized the jump.
Blue energy crackled over her body and Azurite screamed long and loud. Then she slumped back and fell silent.
"AZURE! DON'T BE DEAD! PLEASE BIG SISTER!" Ti felt on the verge of tears when the hated voice cut into her plea.
"As you just saw if you try to teleport out you'll suffer. You could almost say ...", Beryl struck Sailor Moon's pose, "... In the name of the Dark Kingdom, I will punish you."
"A small joke Polaris, the process is automatic. Like the one that blocks all your powers. But how can you call me a monster Polaris. Are we not cut from the same cloth?"
"I'm nothing like you Jadeite. It's your actions that make you a monster not your nature."
Beryl simply smiled than said, "Arcturus will recover. At least from that shock. But the fate of all of you depends on our two absent guests."
"Which means Sailor Venus and Gray I suppose."
"Very good Mercury, that's exactly who we're waiting for. Tuxedo Mask is out of the loop. This place is very carefully shielded. Here we are all psychically invisible. Now why don't you ask Polaris your question." Ami looked startled. "Don't be so surprised. It's obvious you want her to tell you something."
Ami decided she might as well ask. "All right. Sailor Polaris, why were you, Arcturus and Gray so sure Jadeite's the one behind everything that's happened lately?" At Polaris's surprised look she added, "I was able to eavesdrop on you three with my vizor."
"Oh. Well you know that shattered crystal we found?" Ami nodded. "OK it was what was left of an Eternal Sleep crystal." At the questioning looks from the Sailor Warriors she continued, "Queen Beryl imprisoned people she wanted to make examples of in those crystals. After you, Mars and Moon beat him that last time the queen sealed Jadeite into one of them. Of all those imprisoned that way only Jadeite had the power to cause all this trouble. Why he's disguising himself we don't know. We also don't know how he got out of the crystal."
"Bravo a most concise explanation for a complicated series of events." Beryl applauded briefly then said, "Would you mind explaining to our friends over there just how you know so much about events that happened in the Dark Kingdom?" Polaris just glared at Beryl. The youma queen held up a hand and grinned. The fingers doubled in length so they looked like the legs of some horrible insect thing. Thin claws looking like scalpel blades extuded from the finger tips. Titanite involuntarily cowered back as far as she could.
Beryl strode past her to the unconscious Azurite. The razor tipped fingers almost carressed her cheek. "Such a pretty face. She'll look so very ugly without it." The Sailor Warriors gasped (except for Sailor Moon was past 900 and falling).
Beryl pulled her hand back slightly. "The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth if you please." One finger twitched towards Azurite's eyes.
"I'll tell them, just don't hurt her!" Beryl made no promises but moved the blade away slightly. Titanite took a deep breath and said, "The reason I know so much about the Dark Kingdom is ... is that ... (Beryl looked impatient) is that I was born there! We both were." Various explanations of amazement from the Sailor Warriors. Beryl made a motion to continue. "My real name is Titanite, Sailor Arcturus's is Azurite. Four of us got out of the Dark Kingdom just before the end."
"Wait a minute!", Rei broke in. "You can't be a youma. I can sense youmas and I never felt that from either of you."
"You don't actually sense youmas. You sense something with both paranormal powers and evil destructive intentions. Right?"
"Well yes but youma ..."
"Did you think all youma were evil?"
"Well ... yeah!"
"Because ... because we never met any who weren't."
Ami broke in, "I think that was an error on our part. Judging a whole people by the actions of a few is an error. Most nations have terrible things in their past that were caused by the actions of the leaders."
Titanite sighed. "Unfortunately most of the youma were evil. Those of us who weren't didn't fit in. And anyone who didn't fit in was a target." The old bitterness resurfaced. "They called youmas like us renegades, heretics and a lot of other names. When they found us they killed us. Eventually."
"But if that was true how could any of you survive?"
"Some learned to pass as typical youma. To make the compromises they had to in order to survive. It used to be simple before the Kingdom had access to Earth. You were surrounded by renegade hating youma. You had the choice of act ruthless or be killed. It wasn't easy but some like Azurite survived that way. Others, like me never could manage that. If my brother hadn't been looking out for me my whole life I'd never have survived."
"That's absolutely right", Beryl interjected. "Now tell them your brother's name."
This was gonna be tricky. "Calcite. My brother's name is Calcite."
"Calcite!" That was Jupiter, "Calcite as in the guy who used to fight Min ... Sailor Venus all the time? The guy who's been threatening her lately? That's your brother?"
"No ... I mean yes. I mean yes and no. Oh hell!"
"Take it easy and think about what you're going to say."
Jupiter looked at Ami, "Why are you siding with her?"
"Because I think she's a good person. Rei, you don't sense evil from her do you?"
"No. Not at all. And I trust my abilities Jupiter."
"Ok, I'll hear her out."
"Thank you. Ok the guy who's been phoning Sailor Venus wasn't my brother." She glanced at Beryl. "I'll bet our shapeshifting friend knows all about it. It must be easier to duplicate a voice rather than a whole person."
"You're right ahem FOOLISH MORTALS COWER BEFORE LORD CALCITE!" This last part was delivered in a deep male voice.
Jupiter looked at Beryl. "Ok that explains the phonecalls." She turned back to Titanite and asked, "But what about what happened in England?"
"That's a long story."
"Go ahead. Seems we have to hang around anyway."
"Ok well I guess it starts with this youma named Magnesite ..."
An abbreviated version of the prologue followed.
Titanite fell silent. Her throat felt really dry. Rei said, "I think she's telling the truth."
Makoto shook her head and said, "It was all a scam? Minako's gonna freak when she hears this."
A bigger worry had occurred to Ami. "The renegade Youmas ... were there any others of you in the Kingdom?"
"I don't know. We had to stay hidden to survive so there could have been others. After all everytime you took off your mask you risked death. It was years before Cal and Pyr knew Azure was a renegade."
Ami looked at Rei and said, "We'd better not tell Sailor Moon this."
Rei nodded then glanced over to see if she was still out of it. She was down to 500 and oblivious to anything else. Yes they'd have to keep this from Usagi. Finding out she might have wiped out some innocents along with the Dark Kingdom could destroy her. She hadn't known, and if she had known did she have had an option?
Azurite groaned again and opened her eyes. She muttered, "Wherethehell ... " and tried to move. She winced and looked around her. "Oh yeah, now I remember."
"Are you all right Azurite?"
"Relatively speaking ... Sailor Polaris ..."
"Jadeite blew our cover. But I've explained things to them. I think we're in the clear."
"Oh. Well fair enough we know who they are."
"Yeah, your name's Rei something right?"
"Uh, I didn't mention that to them Azure."
Ami shrugged. "I don't suppose it makes much difference. Jadeite already knows our real names. He targeted all of us in our civilian identities."
Azurite looked around, "Where is our crossdressing general?"
"He walked out during my explanation about Lord Calcite."
"Does he still look like Beryl?"
"Yes. But I don't think he's crazy. He seems rational. Cruel but rational."
"Well we're obviously bait. But why use us to draw out Cal and Sailor Venus. Why not just zap them the way he did us?"
"Patience my dear Azurite. You'll learn the reason why soon enough." Beryl reemerged carrying an electric cornpopper. At the questioning look she explained, "It's for the show. Well time to contact the other star performer." She pulled a speaker from behind one of the stalagmites. "This will let you hear my end of the conversation. I wouldn't want you to miss anything. Now if you'll excuse me I have a call to make. Don't bother shouting the barrier will be soundproof."
Beryl walked over to a phone. A transparent glowing wall appeared between her and the hostages. She picked up the phone and dialed. Through the speaker they could here a man's chuckle. Then the onesided conversation began. "Hello again Sailor V." It was the Lord Calcite voice Beryl had demonstrated earlier. "Yes that's right, it's me again. Wondering what my servants did with your friends? ... Oh please after all the trouble of capturing them do you think I'll just let them go? ... Such language young lady ... Are you ready to listen or will you keep making threats? ... Good. You know the abandoned Star Tower reconstruction? ... Good. Come through the east entrance at six. No earlier, no later. Come alone. That includes cats. Oh one more thing, this voice is just a fake." The voice shifted becoming milder, "Normally I talk like this." From Titanite's gasp Ami guessed that was her brother's real voice. Beryl hung up and chuckled. A gesture and the wall disappeared.
Azurite looked at their captor. "That's one on the way. How are you going to get Cal?"
"Oh he's already on the way. He'll also be arriving at six. Though at a different entrance."
"Then you've just signed your own death warrant. Didn't you here what Cal did after they murdered his mother. (Damn forgot Ti's right next to me). When he's running on rage he's unstoppable!"
Beryl smirked. "Heard about it? I'm counting on it!" And then she began to laugh. When she stopped she said, "It is not enough to merely kill an enemy, you must destroy him. You must take everything he values and turn to ashes. You must take his hopes, dreams and loves and grind them into the dirt before him. And at the very end you must deny him death, condemn him to live on in the hell you have created for him!"
Ami studied the creature before her then said with feeling, "You are a very sick creature!"
"True. But I'm a winner and that's all that really counts." Beryl plugged in the popper. "Not long until six. I can hardly wait."
A few minutes later, while the room filled with the smell of popcorn, Beryl raised a hand imperiously. A hole opened in the floor and three very large crystal balls rose into view. Another gesture and the right and lefthand ones began displaying images. The central one remained empty. Each of the others showed a corridor ending in a door. Beryl snapped her fingers and both doors exploded inward. Everyone recognized the figures who appeared in the entryways.
And that was when it happened.
A few moments earlier Calcite, in his Gray costume, finished studying the western entryway and glanced at his watch. Almost time. He couldn't detect any traps and suspected the gamemaster didn't want to knock him off the board just yet. Not after all the trouble he'd taken. Well time to get this show on the road. Calcite fired a shock blast and the door imploded inward. He dived through the entryway and felt energy crackle along his body. Damnit how had he missed this!?
There was no pain and no injury. All that happened was the transmuter activated. His clothing shifted into a pattern he hadn't used in months. He looked down at the black costume that covered him. No mistake, it was his Lord Calcite outfit. He tried to reactivate the transmuter but it seemed to be jammed. "The hell with it!", the prisoners heard him say. It seemed the crystals transmitted sound as well as picture. They saw him pull off the helmet, mutter, "I always hated having no peripheral vision" and toss it aside. He continued up the corridor.
Simultaneously Minako blasted her door and entered. The lights crawled over her and she tried to brush them off. There was no harmful effect but her costume changed. The skirt shifted to blue as other changes occurred in her outfit. It was obviously her Sailor V costume. "OK Calcite, I guess this is more appropriate. Here I come!" She charged up the corridor.
Azurite paled and she began pulling at the crystal than held them with renewed fury. "Ti try to break free! Maybe together we can ..."
"Sorry it'll hold you both. I guess you've figured it out then?"
"Azurite what's wrong? Big brother's coming to save us. And Sailor V's gonna save the Sailor Warriors so everything's under control. What can stop them?"
"Don't you get it Ti? Don't any of you?" The Sailor Warriors shook their heads. Of course not they'd never seen the costume before. "That outfit Cal's wearing is the Lord Calcite costume. Sailor V's charging in here to take out the youma who's been threatening her and kidnapped her friends. That blank crystal ball's for when they meet isn't it?"
Beryl nodded. "That's right. We'll have ringside seats for the fight of the century. Popcorn anyone? No? Funny I find bloodshed improves my appetite.
Within the balls both figures were blasting spiked crystalline shapes that surged at them. "Just a warmup before the main event to get the adrenaline flowing." Beryl swallowed a handful of popcorn then looked at Titanite. "Your brother has a real problem. He can either kill Sailor V to get past her and save you. Or he can stand there and let her kill him. Either way he loses. I really hope he kills her. There is so much more I have planned for him. Here we go!" The central crystal hummed and showed a hallway with opposing doors. Both exploded inward.
"Oh shit! Wait we need to ..."
Calcite shut up and dodged. He responded with a forcewave that knocked her flying. She hit the ground rolling, somersaulted to her feet and fired another energybolt. It caught the edge of Calcite's forcefield and flared. Titanite heard Azurite swear. "But it'll be ok because he can stand her energybeams right? I mean his shield can block her so he just has to wait until she runs out of power then explain things."
"He can't block all the energy at that close a range. And she's got a more powerful attack now. Maybe there's too much backlash in that confined an area so she's not using it. But if she does ..." Azurite left the rest unsaid.
Makoto looked at Rei and asked, "Can't you use your psychic powers to tell Minako it's a setup?"
"I can only receive, I can't telepathically communicate!"
"Damn. Look maybe he's not a bad guy but if it's him or Minako ..."
"I know. If only we could stop this somehow! Wait a minute!" Calcite had just materialized a handful of knives and flung them. None of them hit Sailor V but they punched through her costume and pinned the clothing to the wall."
"OK", Calcite said, "Now you're going to hold still and listen."
"Wrong!" She dived forward ripping her outfit free from the blades. "Crescent Beam!" They heard Calcite scream.
The glow faded and they saw Calcite was burned but alive. "Damnit she's overloading his shield. Some of that got through! The next one might ..."
That was confirmed when Calcite snarled, "It's me or you!"
"It always was!"
Azurite wanted to look away but kept watching. "He can't risk trying to subdue her anymore. It's now a fight to the death on both sides!" In the ball Minako was slammed the length of the room by a forcewave. She rolled away from her impact point which was suddenly peppered with knives. The knives crackled with power that would have fried her if they'd hit. Minako was on her feet and studying Calcite. Both were breathing hard. Minako's clothes were torn and sweatstained, Calcite's were scorched as was his skin.
There was a moment of silence then Minako said, "It ends now!"
"So be it!"
They charged towards each other and Minako shouted, "CRESCENT BEAM SHOWER!" The crystal ball's image became one huge flare of light. Everyone looked away from it. Beryl swore, dropped her bucket of popcorn and thumped it.
"Too bright! The stupid thing's overloaded." The glare began to fade and an image formed. Azurite and Titanite gasped. The crystal showed an indistinct Calcite. His burned right arm hung limply at his side as his left hand probed the blackened shoulder. His face was twisted in pain, physical and emotional. Then the whole sphere cleared and they saw Minako.
She was looking down in disbelief at the swordhilt that emerged from her chest and the blood that poured out of the wound. She looked up as though to say something to Calcite but gagged and collapsed. As she fell faceforward everyone got to see the reddened point emerged from her back. Calcite looked down at the slumped figure. Despite his own pain he managed to say sincerely, "I'm so terribly sorry." He would have stood there longer but a new doorway opened and he stumbled toward it. "Gotta ... gotta keep going ... save them ... can't stop ..."
All the Sailor Warriors were weeping and there were tears running down Titanite's face. Azurite kept control by focusing on her anger. "The bastard's trying to destroy Cal. Forcing him to kill someone he knew wasn't a real enemy. He set everything up for that. Well you've underestimated Calcite! He'll keep going until he's brought your filthy scheme crashing down around you!" She tried to ignore how bad he looked. Something occurred to her, "Hey people!"
Jupiter snarled at her, "YOU SHUT UP. It was your lousy friend that killed Minako."
"But she can come back can't she?"
That took Jupiter by surprise. "What?"
"All three of you and Sailor Venus died at D point. I saw it happen. But somehow you came back from the dead. Can't she do it again?"
"Uhhhhhhh." Makoto had no idea how to answer this, nor did Rei.
It was Ami who said, "Those were special circumstances. Sailor Moon used the silver crystal to restore us but right now ...."
"... 279 bottles of beer on the wall ..."
"... she's in no condition to use it. Assuming it will work again." The return from death wasn't something they discussed. Or even thought about much. Except when they woke late at night and everything was dark and silent.
"At least there's a chance. If we die there's not even anything left to bury. That's why we didn't have funeral customs in the Dark Kingdom. There was nothing left to mourn over."
A door hissed open and Calcite entered. His left hand glowed with power and was held ready. He'd left the right arm hanging free and was ignoring the useless limb. He surveyed the room without expression studying the prisoners and the figure between him and them. A brief flicker of power and the crystal balls between him and the captives shattered.
"Everything's under control Ti. Trust me!"
Beryl chuckled. "That's rich coming from a man with a cooked arm. I was hoping she'd slow you down a bit before you killed her."
"Is Pyrite ...?"
"He'll be fine Azure." Assuming any of us survive this, he added silently.
Calcite's gaze flicked to the warriors. "So that's why she was here."
"That's right. Both here for the same purpose and you fight each other rather than me. But I'm forgetting myself, why aren't you bowing before your sovereign?"
"Knock it off Jadeite. I'm not interested in your identity crisis."
"Ah!", Beryl smiled then said, "This form has ceased to amuse me." The figure before him shifted as its' body smoothly reshaped itself. In seconds Calcite was looking into the cold eyes of Jadeite. There was a thin smile on his face as he said, "So you found all the clues and deduced my identity. As leader of that pathetic band only you were worth showing my true self too."
"Yes. So you figured it out. You always were a smart little youma."
"I like to think so. Which is how I know you aren't really Jadeite."
For the first time the enemy looked shaken, "What!"
"This image is as fake as Beryl. Jadeite never made it out of the Dark Kingdom."
"Ridiculous. I am Jadeite."
"No. You always admired his style but you couldn't match it. You still can't no matter how many tricks you've learned."
"I AM JADEITE!"
"Bullshit." Calcite said this quietly but firmly.
Despite the lousy situation Azurite's curiosity was aroused, "Cal he's got to be Jadeite. The evidence ..."
"Was faked. Which it why it was left lying around for us to stumble over. He builds a hidden base this elaborate, runs a perfect set of impersonations but forgets to hide the one thing that can really ID him? Not a chance. That was too big an oversight even for Jadeite. I just wish I'd realized that earlier."
"In that case smart guy!", Jadeite snarled, "Who am I."
Calcite took a step forward, Jadeite moved to block any blasts he might try to throw at the holding crystals. Calcite looked into Jadeite's eyes and said, "You were wrong earlier, I'm really not that smart. Otherwise I'd have figured it out a lot sooner. The one thing I'm still not sure of is if you were giving me clues all along or just watched those films so much it crept into your speech. It's probably the latter, you never were much of an original thinker."
"Mind explaining that Cal. We're all hanging on every word."
"I'll get you down soon as I can Azure ..."
"I know that but what the hell are you talking about?"
"Yes", Jadeite glowered, "I want an explanation!"
"The evidence was there all along I just didn't catch it. It was as Jadeite you made the first slip. You didn't say you'd returned from the Eternal Sleep. You said you'd returned from The Big Sleep." He glanced around the room, everyone looked puzzled. Except for Jadeite who looked thunderstruck.
He kept going, "Next it was that that 'hill of beans' speech you made to Naru as Nephrite. You lifted that from Rick's farewell speech in Casablanca." He saw Azurite take a deep breath. She knew!
"Zoisite's opening line was straight out of Treasure of Sierra Madre. I can't believe I didn't catch that 'fellow American' reference. Lastly as Kunzite you paraphrased that 'when your partner gets killed' line from ..."
"The Maltese Falcon!"
"You've got it Azure."
"But Cal it can't be ..."
"I'm afraid it can." Seeing the blank looks on the faces of the Sailor Warriors (and the shock on Jadeite's) he decided to explain. "I guess none of you are old Hollywood film buffs." Heads shook. "Those were all the titles of Humphrey Bogart movies. Whom I had to watch over and over again ad naseaum some time back. Once I realized that I thought 'who did I know in the Dark Kingdom who was both a Bogart fanatic and had reason to hate me?' There was only choice except he was dead. Which I should know being the one who killed him."
Jadeite waved an admonishing finger. "Confessing to murder isn't going to improve the Sailor Warriors opinion of you."
"As the guy in question was trying to murder my sister at the time I don't feel any guilt. But if he was dead how could he be responsible? Then it hit me. The Dark Kingom was on the verge of ending so I didn't stick around to make sure. He was fatally wounded and obviously dying. But I never actually saw his body disintergrate!"
Calcite's expression turned fierce. He pointed his glowing hand at Jadeite, energy held ready, and said, "I don't know how you survived or where you got all this power. But I know it's really you, Magnesite!"
Jadeite looked uncertain then shrugged. Again the face and body shifted becoming someone none of the renegades had expected to see again. "It seems I underestimated you Calcite. I was planning to crush you then reveal my identity after I had broken you. Still perhaps this is better. You can't hope to beat me, I am far more than any mere youma. I am the force made flesh! The living avatar of quantum theory. I am power beyond imagining. And in a strange way I owe it to you!"
"That seems very unlikely!" Still no way to blast the crystals and free anyone. Keep him talking.
"Oh yes. As you recall at our last meeting I was left lying in a pool of blood feeling my life slip away. Hate helped me hold on but it wasn't enough. The wound was mortal. I was minutes from dying. Under normal circumstances I'd be long gone. But those weren't normal circumstances were they? Queen Beryl and the Moon Princess were fighting, incredible forces were being unleashed. Beryl lost and the Princess's change wave swept across the pole rewriting reality.
Do you now the exact point between life and death? The instant you are neither one nor the other but somehow between them? I do. That's where I was when the changewave hit me. I wasn't erased though my body ceased to exist. My essence was flung away to the path of least resistance. The gateway you'd built to the zone. I could never match your psychoplasm generation abilities but I had a little of the power. That must be why my consciousness continued not as matter but as psychoplasm!"
"Psychoplasm?" That was from Sailor Mercury. Insatiable intellectual curiosity even in a situation this grim.
"A form of energy some youma can generate. It can be made to mimic matter and shaped by a gifted mind into a variety of forms. It's how I create my weapons. I literally wish them into existence." Calcite studied Magnesite's body. "Are you saying your body is ..."
"Pure psychoplasm. You wondered at the secret to my shapeshifting. Well now you know. I can make myself into anything I want. An exact copy of anyone or anything."
"So that's how you could survive any attack. You can make yourself immaterial at will. As for teleporting ..."
"I have no need to align mind and body. My mind and body are literally the same thing!"
"So why wait six months for your vengeance. For that matter why drag the Sailor Warriors into this?"
"If I could have begun this earlier I would have. But I forgot to mention my state of mind when I arrived in this town. I had none, I had been stripped down to a creature that operated purely on instinct. I was an immaterial parasite driven to latch onto humans. When I did I'd drain energy and they'd feel a momentary weakness. I existed like that for weeks. But I began draining more energy and as I did I grew smarter. As my mind developed my memories began returning. I remembered you Calcite and I remembered my hatred.
I learned to become material. To assume the form of objects, then animals, then humans and finally of Youma. I found I could duplicate everyone I had ever met. I began exploring this city in disguise and I began to sense unusual auras. Youma auras and Sailor Warrior auras. With those to track it was easy to find you. Once I knew who you were I began making plans. I surreptitiously drained as many humans as possible and grew stronger. With those aliens running around it was easy to accomplish. My actions got written off as just another attack by them. None of you suspected I was out here biding my time."
So the drainings weren't just to draw us in, Calcite thought. You have to feed in order to maintain your powers. Which gives me an idea.
Magnesite moved to Titanite's side, grew a set of claws and said, "Azurite, I'll bet the Warriors are wondering why Calcite's chatting to me instead of trying to free you. Care to explain it?" He raised the claws toward Titanite. Calcite tensed and took aim.
Before he could blast Azurite quickly said, "Cal's trying to buy time to find a way to crack your forceshield and take you out!"
"Absolutely right. But now he knows even if he breaks my shield he can't hurt me. Blow holes in this body and I just make them grow closed. Try to burn me and I make myself intangible. I can be anywhere in an eyeblink. You can't hurt me Calcite. Not ever again!"
"But you can hurt whoever you please."
"Right again. Now for the main event!" The top of one of the nearby stalagmites dissolved exposing a large red button. Magnesite gestured at it. "You are the one I really hate Calcite so I'm going to give your sister and Azurite a chance. This switch will free them. Just push it and they can go. Then we'll settle matters between us."
"And the catch is?"
"Pushing this switch will kill the Sailor Warriors. Kill them and those two have a chance. This is a limited time offer so make your choice."
For a moment Calcite studied Magnesite. Then he began to laugh.
Magnesite was nonplussed. He'd expected bargaining, threats, agonized moralizing but laughter? "What the hell is so funny?"
"You. My God you're so transparent!"
"Do you really think I'm stupid enough to believe you'd ever let them go. I'm supposed to agonize over my choice then make a decision. But there is no choice, you've fixed the game. No, if I push that button one of two things will happen. Either it'll kill Ti and Azure so you can cackle over me being responsible for their deaths. Or it'll kill the Sailor Warriors then you'll kill Ti and AZure to chuckle over my sacrificing my values for nothing. It's no wonder everyone always said you wouldn't have lasted without me to clean up your messes."
"After all you never had an original thought in your life. You stole your style from the generals, then from a dead moviestar but you couldn't even mimic them accurately."
"Even this 'let's you and him fight' idea was a copy. It's based on the stunt I used to make Brotor and Rormal destroy each other when they began encroaching. Manipulate them into fighting one another then pick off the survivor. You actually got admired throughout the kingdom as a master manipulator for that but we both know you'd never have thought of it alone."
"I SAID SHUT UP!"
"'The living Avatar of Quantum theory' indeed. You don't even know what that means do you? You just heard it somewhere and thought it sounded cool."
"PUSH THE DAMN SWITCH!"
"I'm not playing your game anymore Magnesite."
"THEN I'LL PUSH IT!" Magnesite strode toward the switch. Calcite didn't try to intercept. He held his place then spoke as Magnesite neared him and the button.
"Regardless of your new form's power you still have one major weakness."
"Hah, nice try!", Magnesite sneered. ""Just what is this hypothetical weakness you've found?"
"Simple. You love the sound of your own voice so you talk far too much."
"No more talking!" Magnesite reached for the button ... and froze. He looked at his arm in amazement. It was resisting all his efforts to move it. His arm began deforming, shrinking back in on itself. Magnesite's features began to blur. Calcite said nothing and didn't move, he merely stared at Magnesite with intense concentration.
"Cal?" Her brother showed no sigh of having heard her. Then she heard Azurite chuckle and say, "I"ll be damned."
"What's happening Azure?"
"I'd like to know that too."
"So would I."
"... bottles of beer on the wall ..."
Azurite looked elated. "Cal was right, Magnesite talked way too much. He told Cal his new body's made of psychoplasm. Cal manipulates psychoplasm. He got Magnesite rattled enough to lower his defenses and close enough for Cal to override his control. Magnesite's helpless!"
"My brother's a genius. It runs in the family."
Ami cleared her throat. "Well, while I admire his tactical sense the six of us are still fused to these crystals."
"Good point. Cal how about breaking us loose?"
Calcite began raising an arm to fire a shockblast. Instantly Calcite's blurred figure began reforming. Calcite froze in concentration. Azurite muttered, "That's something I didn't think about."
Azurite looked worried, "Normally psychoplasm doesn't have its own mind and resist being shaped. Looks like Cal can only immobilize Magnesite by using total concentration. If he breaks off long enough to free us ..."
"... Magnesite gets loose!", Ami finished. So it's a stalemate."
"So we're all stuck here?"
"Afraid so Jupiter."
"Great. Now what?"
Azurite began heaving at the crystal again. "We break loose before Magnesite gets free!" Everyone began heaving at their trapped appendages but nothing happened. Suddenly it struck Azurite. The arm Calcite had raised had been his right one. The burned, useless arm. What the hell?
Rei kept heaving and snarled, "No good, we can't pull free. We need something to crack it.
"Ask and ye shall receive, CRESCENT BEAM!"
The slab of crystal encasing the Sailors' hands shattered. There were various cries of pain as fragments rained down on their heads. But their hands were free thanks to ...
"109 bottles of ..."
"Live and in person, CRESCENT BEAM!" The slab holding their feet shattered and they were free. In amazement they stepped away from it and looked at their not-so-late friend. "But how?" Ami pulled the jewel off Usagi's tiara and she shut up and went to sleep.
Meanwhile on the other side of the room: Minako's dramatic entrance had broken Calcite's concentration so Magnesite was free to move again. He didn't, he just stared in shock at Sailor V. Calcite grabbed Magnesite's reforming arm and tossed him across the room. Then he fired two kinetic force pulses and shattered the crystals holding Azurite and Titanite. His injuries didn't seem to be slowing him up anymore.
"Big brother, but what ... how ...?"
"Ask me later, right now ..."
"Magnesite's still loose!" Azurite finished.
The Sailor Warriors crowding around Minako heard her and turned to look at Magnesite. He had gotten to his feet, his body had resumed his former appearance. He looked at Sailor V in amazement. "It's impossible! Calcite killed you!"
The burn marks faded from Calcite as he dropped the glamour that had simulated injuries. "You shouldn't believe everything you see in crystal balls. They're as unreliable as television!"
Minako nodded and produced a swordhilt with a blade that ended after a few centimetres in a fake bloodstain. "I did a great deathscene. This shows I've really got great acting abilities."
Rei turned on her, "You idiot, we thought you were dead!"
"Sorry I didn't know you'd see it. I thought just the badguy would!"
Magnesite's jaw dropped, "You were working together?!"
Calcite nodded. "That's right. It was obvious those calls you were making were intended to set up a fight between me and Sailor Venus. So after you phoned me I called her and explained a few things. We ... made a deal, compared notes and agreed to fake her death. So she could take you by surprise. Then she just had to wait for your phonecall. So that's twice you've been wrong about Sailor V's death."
Ami looked at Minako, "But if you were alright all along why did you wait so long?"
"In case this was some really elaborate trap on Calcite's part. I waited a a few minutes for him to destroy the monitoring system then reconoitered the building looking for a trap. I couldn't find one. I guess you really were on the level." This last was said grudgingly.
"I keep my word."
"Well this has been a real surprise but you've forgotten that you're still on my turf!" Magnesite had regained his poise. "I still have all my powers and no reason to hold back. It's going to been all the sweeter defeating all of you. Which I can do with the Moon Princess out of commission!" Everyone looked at Usagi who was snoring.
"Somebody wake her up!"
"No time fools. Get ready to DIE!" Magnesite grinned, he'd teleport behind Jupiter, rip her head off then warp behind Azurite, grow claws and cut her in half after which he'd make it up as he went along. Here goes!
His grin slipped and he tried again.
He began feeling panic. What the hell?
Then Calcite said, "I may not be able to paralyse you at this range and without total concentration but you already forged that body. Locking you into that form I can manage." To everyone he said, "Magnesite can't phase shift so he can't teleport or turn immaterial. He has to stay solid. It also seems to be screwing up his forcefield."
Azurite smiled and winds howled around her. Looking a bit confused Titanite followed her lead and generated a forcesphere. Ami was the first of Sailors to get it. "If he's forced to remain material he can't avoid our attacks by assuming a dimensionally displaced format."
"It means ... EVERYBODY BLAST HIM!"
That they understood.
"SUPREME THUNDER DRAGON!"
"FIRE SOUL BIRD!"
"SHABON SPRAY FREEZING!
"I don't wanna go to school today ma."
"CRESCENT BEAM SHOWER!
The next few moments were rather unpleasant for Magnesite. He was electrocuted, incinerated, smashed, frozen, mumbled at, blasted and hammered by hurricane force winds. The wall he'd been standing in front of was gone. There wasn't much of him left either. The Sailor Warriors were beginning to relax when Azurite said, "Look!"
Magnesite's shattered body was reforming. In moments he stood before them again. He smiled and said, "Well that was pointless!"
One of Calcite's knives struck him in the chest. It exploded and fragments of Magnesite flung outwards. Then stopped dead and reversed their course. Magnesite reformed but it was a little slower this time. "Nice bluff Magnesite. You're locked to this shape so you have to reform. But you burn up energy to do that and you don't have infinite reserves. Everytime you repair yourself you get weaker. Therefore ..."
"EVERYBODY BLAST HIM AGAIN!"
A rather painful scene followed. Around them the crystals, stalagmites and stalactites began dissolving. "They're all psychoplasm! He can't spare any power to maintain the forms he created."
"Looks that way Azure, he's definitely rebuilding himself slower. Wait a minute, what's that?"
That was a very large crystal that had just been exposed. It showed no signs of dissolution. "Hey that looks like ..."
Magnesite's eyes had lit up at the sight of the crystal. With a wild howl he surged forward and scattered the Sailor Warriors and Renegades. He grabbed Calcite and charged for the crystal screaming, "It's time for the long goodbye traitor."
"I don't think so!" Calcite kicked downwards tripping Magnesite, hit the ground rolled and grabbed his former boss. "Goodnight Magnesite!" He flung his former boss into the Eternal Sleep Crystal.
Magnesite's scream cut off abruptly as he passed through the surface of the crystal. The crystal hardened and Magnesite was trapped in its center like a fly in amber.
Azurite picked herself up, walked over to the crystal and tapped on it thoughtfully. "Is this for real?"
"No, it's a psychoplasm duplicate. But an incredible duplicate, it must have taken weeks, months to get right. This thing will hold this form for centuries."
Sailor Mercury joined them. "Are you saying he's trapped?"
"For at least the next 300 years."
"So it's over?" That was from Sailor Jupiter.
"Yes. These things were designed to hold everyone regardless of their powers. Even psychoplasm can't escape."
Titanite studied the trapped Magnesite and shudered at the look on his face. Frozen forever in terror. You could almost feel sorry for him. Almost. "But why would he create one of these?"
Calcite tapped it thoughfully and said, "It must have been for me."
"Yeah. After he'd killed you all he probably intended to beat me to a bloody pulp then stick me in the crystal so I couldn't die."
"So you'd live on in terrible pain?"
"Yes. After which he probably planned to bring Pyrite and Mai here and kill them in front of me. I wouldn't be able to turn away or even close my eyes.
Strike the minor sympathy she'd felt. "What do we do with him now?"
"Well the crystal can't be deactivated but neither it or Magnesite have any real mass and both are psychoplasm. So it can be reshaped."
Calcite put his hands on the crystal and concentrated. It began to diminish. Everyone stood around and watched. Except for Rei who had grabbed Usagi by the collar and was trying to shake her awake.
The Eternal Sleep Crystal and the entombed Magnesite shrank. It now stood about 30 cm tall and looked like a raptor of some sort. Calcite handed it to Azurite and said, "Pyrite's had a bad beating but I think he'll recover nicely. Show him his new paperweight and I'll bet he cheers up."
"Heavy", she commented.
"But what the heck is it?", Minako asked.
Calcite smiled and all three Renegades chorused, "The stuff that dreams are made of." Then they broke up laughing.
Titanite stopped laughing and said, "That was one of the scariest days of my whole life. But I knew you'd save me."
Azurite nodded and said, "Likewise. My hero." She handed the falcon to Ti and wrapped her arms around Calcite. The kiss that followed was both intense and watched with interest.
From the duration of it youma must have better breath control. Makoto asked Titanite, "Are those two ...?"
"Just friends." Although she was beginning to wonder.
Finally they broke for air. For once Cal seemed at a loss for words. Before he could say anything embarrasing Ti whispered in his ear, "Remember Ms. Saito." Cal blinked and got back to reality. He looked at Makoto.
There was a yawn and Sailor Moon woke up. She croaked, "My throat hurts. What happened?"
Jupiter shrugged and gave her the short version. "We beat the bad guy."
"Oh, good. I could really use some icecream."
"Hey that's our stuff!" Rei had spotted the bookbags and other things they'd been carrying when Magnesite attacked them individually. Everyone began sorting through the pile except Calcite and Minako who kept watching each other.
Azurite found her handbag, Magnesite must have scooped up everything when he grabbed them, she also found the giftwrapped package. She handed that to Ti. "Here. Yes it's the you know what."
"Great. Thanks Sailor Arcturus."
"Just call me Azurite. I've had enough of this Sailor Warrior stuff."
Rei looked at her, "So you're retiring. Pity you were a good fighter. Even if you dressed like a tramp."
"True. I should have adopted a more conservative style of dress like you." Rei colored slightly. Their costumes weren't that different.
Mercury looked around. This place was now just a bare conferencehall. Nothing more. "No reason to stick around I suppose."
Azurite nodded, "None at all. Cal ... ?"
"Azure could you take Ti home? I've got a few loose ends to take care of." She shrugged, he must know what he was doing. The two renegades headed for the door. Mercury joined them and addressed Azure. "I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions?"
"About the Dark Kingdom or my dressing habits?"
"Uhh ... the Dark Kingdom of course."
The Sailor Warriors began filtering out. Makoto called over, "Minako let's get out of here!"
"I'll meet you guys outside."
Jupiter shrugged, "Suit yourself."
The others departed and the two studied each other.
Outside the building Titanite broke in on Azure and Ami's conversation. "Why do you suppose Cal and Venus stayed behind."
Azurite shrugged and said facetiously, "Who knows? Maybe it's time for the final showdown between Sailor V and Lord Calcite." Then she stopped dead. Just what kind of deal had Cal cut with Sailor Venus? Shit! She spun around and said, "Ti stay here ..." She was too late, Titanite was already sprinting back to the building.
Inside the abandoned construction sight Sailor V faced Calcite and said, "You didn't try to run!"
"I gave my word we'd settle our score after the others were clear."
"So I guess now's the time."
"Looks like it."
Both readied attacks. Calcite figured his best chance was dived to the side, knock her down with a shockblast then follow with the blades. Minako figured she had to keep moving and hammer his forcefield down with her crescent beams. Each stood ready waiting for the other to make the first move.
Then there was a blur of motion and Sailor Polaris landed in front of Calcite holding her arms outstretched.
"Ti get out of the way!"
"No way big brother. She's going to have to shoot through me to blast you."
"Ti I just went to a lot of trouble to save your life. I'd appreciate it if you didn't waste it."
"No way I'm not going to let you do anything this crazy. If you win the other warriors will hunt you down for killing Venus and if you lose ..."
"I gave her my word we'd settle this."
"That's a little excessive Cal." Azurite joined Titanite. Minako felt very uncertain. "Why are you so intent on going through with this?"
"Has it occurred to either of you that this whole mess was my fault?"
"If I'd made sure Magnesite was dead ..."
Titanite shook her head. "Cal if it's anyone's fault it's mine. If I hadn't gone back to the house you wouldn't have had to kill Magnesite."
"But nobody made Magnesite attack you." Mercury had entered and was standing in front of Minako.
"Ami get out of the way!"
"Sorry but I think we have to give them a chance."
Rei joined Ami. "Right. I'd sense if these people ... these youma were evil and I don't. They aren't our enemies."
Makoto sighed and joined them, "Guess I have to agree with that."
Usagi watched this scene with confusion. "What's all this about anyway?"
Minako snarled, "This guy made a fool of me for months!" Then blushed.
"Not much of a reason to kill someone."
"Well yeah but ..."
"Besides", Ami added, "You had a good time in England didn't you?"
"Well ... yeah."
"So it wasn't a total disaster."
Minako sighed and said, "OK fine Lord Calcite or whoever. It's over. No more vendetta."
Calcite was kind of surprised by recent events. He just blinked and said, "Ok if that's the way you want it."
"Yeah, fine. Talk about an anticlimatic ending."
The tension left the room. Titanite stopped holding her breath and wiped the sweat off her forehead. Then brightened up and said, "Great. I was afraid you'd get zapped before I gave you your present."
Titanite handed him a giftwrapped package and said, "Open it!"
Calcite frowned and began pulling off the wrap. "A videocassette? What the ? ... 'Sailor V the animated movie'? Why did you ...?"
"Read the back."
"What? Oh all right ... 'Join the heroic and beautiful Sailor Warrior as she travels to England to face the evil of Lord Calprite ... CALPRITE?! They got my name wrong?"
"Check the picture."
"That geek's supposed to be me?!" "You got it!"
Minako began laughing, "Wrong name and drawn like that! That's a pretty good revenge." Everyone laughed except Calcite (though he did smile slightly) and Usagi who still didn't know what was going on.
"Just who is this guy and why is his hair green? Hey he's cute. Hi I'm Sailor Moon, champion of justice. Want to take me out and I'll tell you about my adventures?"
"Sailor Moon?" Another man's voice echoed across the room.
"Whatever was blocking me from sensing you vanished a little while ago. I got here as soon as I could. Who's that guy?"
"Before Usagi could stammer out an explanation Titanite struck a dramatic pose and declaimed, "He's Calcite, she's Azurite and I am Titanite. Together we are the DKR!" At the questioning looks from the adults she added, "DKR is the acronym for Dark Kingdom Renegades. It seemed like a good name for our group."
Calcite sighed. "Ti we don't have a group. Now Magnesite's out of action we can go back to normality."
"But big brother!"
"Ti I've had enough adventure to last me a lifetime!"
"Sorry kid I side with your brother."
"No." In a different tone he said, "We should get home. Pyrite's in enough pain without worrying about us on top of it."
Ti sighed. "Ok let's get back there the fast way. Bye guys, it was fun while it lasted but Sailor Polaris just got retired."
The three joined hands and vanished.
The Sailor warriors looked to Minako. "So now what?"
Thursday afternoon Minako lead her friends to the house Calvin Hobbes had rented. Ami had hacked into the municipal databases to find it. Titania Hobbes hadn't been in school today and Ms. Saito had looked down. When Minako had asked her if she was all right she'd replied that she'd be fine. Then added that some romances really didn't work out the way you expected them too.
The house had a new "For Rent" sign on it. Minako tried the door and found it unlocked. The place was bare though there were two envelopes on the floor. One was addressed to the Sailor Warriors the other to Sailor Venus. Ami opened the first and read it aloud.
"Hi guys, Titanite here. Well Pyrite's a mess but he should be fine. What you're really wondering is where are we? Well the adults talked it over and the bottom line is they're scared of you. Nothing personal but you people have killed a lot of youma which makes us all a little edgy.
So we decided to make it a little harder to find us. I imagine you can if you want but why bother? We'll stay quiet and won't cause any trouble. So long as we do that why not leave us alone?
Almost forgot. Cal's had a talk with Ms. Saito (ask Sailor Venus) and things ended fairly amicably.
It was great working with you. If you ever need Sailor Polaris again put an ad in the paper and I'll come running.
Bye for now, signed Titanite (Ti to my friends)"
Rei looked at Minako, "I suppose it's your call. What do we do?"
Minako put down her letter and shrugged. "Leave them alone as long as they stay quiet."
"What's your letter?"
"It's from Calcite. Sort of an explanation and apology."
"So what happened with that teacher of yours?"
"He says he told her the whole truth and they broke up. Apparently she said, 'Cal your being gaijin wasn't a problem for me. But not being human is a little too much'."
"I suppose I can follow that."
"So everything's cool guys?"
"Looks that way Usagi."
"Great. I'm due to meet Mamoru-san in the park. Bye!"
The others watched her race off. "Looks like everything's back to normal."
"Maybe things will be quiet from now on!"
Considering the little girl Usagi was about to meet in a little while that was very unlikely.
Meanwhile in a hotel room across town everyone was standing around Pyrite's bed. He looked terrible but you could see signs of improvement. Right now he was asking, "Think they'll leave us alone?"
Calcite shrugged, "I believe so. It'll save us creating new identities."
"And if they come after us?"
"Then we change our appearances and disappear among the 30 million people of Tokyo. Anyway don't worry, just rest."
"That's right Pyr. You need a little TLC so I'm going to nurse you back to health." Azurite had just emerged from the bathroom.
Calcite raised an eyebrow, "Hence the outfit."
"Yep. Thought I should look the part."
Cal was pretty sure the average nurse's outfit wasn't that short or tight but said nothing. The Titanite asked, "Big brother, does this count as a happy ending?"
"Well we're alive, the warriors know we exist but aren't out for our blood, Magnesite's a paperweight and Pyrite's going to be fine. It's a reasonably happy ending."
"Except for you and Ms. Saito."
He sighed. "Well neither of us considered the other the grand passion of our lives. It hurts but we'll heal. It's probably for the best, most everything she knew about me was faked. If she loved anyone it was Calvin Hobbes not Calcite."
He picked up some signals between Azurite and Pyrite and said, "Come on Ti, let's go househunting. The sooner we find somewhere the sooner we can get your anime collection out of storage." Ti thought that was a real good idea. After a quiet word to the lovebirds not to aggravate any injuries he headed out the door with his sister.
This might not be the best of all possible worlds, he reflected, but it would do fine. After all it's not like they had a choice.
Except for the rats the rubble pile that had once been a department store had been undisturbed for years. Everything of value had been looted shortly after the quake and the site had been judged unprofitable and never redeveloped. Once this had been a fashionable neighborhood now it was just another slum. There were no shortage of those in tinsel city.
So the rats were the only ones to here the whining hum and see the glowing blue hole rip itself in the air. They fled from the commotion and the unmistakeable odour of cat.
There were no sentient witnesses to see the two objects emerge from the gateway. The giant crystal struck the ground and bounced. The figure who'd clung to it was shaken off and hit the ground hard. While her silhouette resembled a woman's a closer look would have revealed surprising differences. A chill October breeze ruffled her fur but didn't awaken her.
The crystal came to rest and the hole in reality disappeared. Silence returned to the lot for a few minutes. Then there came the sound like ice cracking underfoot. A spiderweb of cracks appeared on the surface of the crystal, growing rapidly in size and length.
There was a shattering noise and an arm tore out of the crystal into the empty air. More breaking sounds followed then the figure who'd been sealed in the crystal sat up throwing fragments everywhere.
Jadeite ripped free and fell beside the crystal. He rolled into a fetal position and shivered for several minutes. At length he unwound and tentatively looked around. It had been horrible, frozen in place, nothing to feel except the crystal against your skin, not able to scream not even able to breathe! Yet somehow alive, aware and capable of seeing anything before you. He'd longed for death to end his torment. Yet now, impossibly, he was free.
Or was he? Perhaps his mind had finally collapsed into madness as an alternative to his living hell. Well if he was mad it was a fine madness. Anything was preferable to enduring another minute in the crystal.
Where was he? He sensed a youma aura nearby and saw the unconscious catwoman. She looked familiar. Ah yes one of his low echelon agents, Mangrove or something like that. Had she rescued him and brought him here? But where was here? It didn't feel like the human world he'd visited or even the one he remembered from his youth. Yet it clearly wasn't the Dark Kingdom.
Perhaps he could find out. After all he was one of the four and commanded considerable power. Jadeite reached out with his mind, his awareness rippling out over the city. He touched the nonhuman minds of what appeared to be slaves, slaves that dreamed of bringing the whole city down in fire and blood. The darkened minds of humans their dreams crushed down by the monolith that ruled their lives. Here and there a few points of light but they were the exception.
Towering above it all, spreading its poison to the city and beyond was the GENOM tower. A dark cancerous blot squatting in the heart of MegaTokyo. All this Jadeite felt as he read the soul of the city.
He opened his eyes and smiled. "My kind of town!"
To be continued in "DKR/BGC : Bad Moon Rising."
Watch for it.
Author's afterword If you think it took a while to read this think how long it took to
write it. Got a comment then email me at Mark.Latus@MSVU.CA
It's a lot easier to plan things than to actually do them. That especially
applies to writing. At least that's been my experience. When this year began
I told myself, "OK I'll get the Sailor Moon one done in January, the Ranma one
in February and the BGC one in March. As it's the end of Feb. and I just
completed the Sailor Moon one that obviously didn't happen. So I'm going
to try a more realistic schedule. For anyone who's interested here it is.
March - Ranma 1/2 : Timelines
Ryoga 1/2 and Kodachi's Ryoga arrive in a regular Ranmaverse and
attempt to resolve the Ranma-Akane-Ryoga triangle. Not surprisingly
a huge mess results. Especially when the alternate Belldandy, Devil
Hunter Yohko show up along with Guyver-Kuno.
This is intended to be a light piece with a lot of mistakes and
misunderstandings creating humourous chaos. It'll lack the darker
tones of my other alternate Ryoga stories. There'll be plenty of
that in the next story.
April/ - Bubblegum Chaos : Hurricane Season
May? It began in "Tokyo Babylon", took a dramatic turn in "Knights'
End" and concludes here. In MegaTokyo Dumas is amassing power, in
Berlin Sylia is plotting vengeance. But things are more delicately
balanced than anyone realizes and all it takes is one loose cannon
to trigger everything prematurely. Now the chaos has begun who will
survive it? Death is no longer the end but is that a good thing?
This is intended to be the most intense story I'll write all
year. I'm putting it into overdrive.
June - Ryoga : Futureshock
The conclusion to the other series I started last year as the
Ryogoids struggle to maintain history and ensure Ranma dies at the
hands of Ryoga Hibiki.
July - DKR/BGC : Bad Moon Rising
The sequel to the one you just read. Strange biomechanical
creatures invade Juban through a dimensional gateway. A gateway
apparently opened by a youma. On the other side is a world that
looks strangely familiar to Titanite from her laserdisc collection.
A world where the Sailor Warriors never existed but forty years
earlier there was a popular TV show named Bishoujo Senshi Sailor
Moon. What is Jadeite planning? Will Titanite get the
definitive answers to the BGC FAQ? Is it smart to ask Priss the one
about her relationship with Sylvie? Is Calcite ready for a very
unexpected reunion? You'll find out.
When - DKR : Titanite's bogus journey.
ever Give a youma otaku the power to cross dimensions and the
knowledge that every anime series has its own world out there
somewhere and what happens? One word - TROUBLE!
Right that should keep me busy. I can feel my fingers cramping already.
Bye for now
Feb. 27 '96
March - Ranma 1/2 : Timelines Ryoga 1/2 and Kodachi's Ryoga arrive in a regular Ranmaverse and attempt to resolve the Ranma-Akane-Ryoga triangle. Not surprisingly a huge mess results. Especially when the alternate Belldandy, Devil Hunter Yohko show up along with Guyver-Kuno. This is intended to be a light piece with a lot of mistakes and misunderstandings creating humourous chaos. It'll lack the darker tones of my other alternate Ryoga stories. There'll be plenty of that in the next story.
April/ - Bubblegum Chaos : Hurricane Season May? It began in "Tokyo Babylon", took a dramatic turn in "Knights' End" and concludes here. In MegaTokyo Dumas is amassing power, in Berlin Sylia is plotting vengeance. But things are more delicately balanced than anyone realizes and all it takes is one loose cannon to trigger everything prematurely. Now the chaos has begun who will survive it? Death is no longer the end but is that a good thing? This is intended to be the most intense story I'll write all year. I'm putting it into overdrive. June - Ryoga : Futureshock The conclusion to the other series I started last year as the Ryogoids struggle to maintain history and ensure Ranma dies at the hands of Ryoga Hibiki.
July - DKR/BGC : Bad Moon Rising The sequel to the one you just read. Strange biomechanical creatures invade Juban through a dimensional gateway. A gateway apparently opened by a youma. On the other side is a world that looks strangely familiar to Titanite from her laserdisc collection. A world where the Sailor Warriors never existed but forty years earlier there was a popular TV show named Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon. What is Jadeite planning? Will Titanite get the definitive answers to the BGC FAQ? Is it smart to ask Priss the one about her relationship with Sylvie? Is Calcite ready for a very unexpected reunion? You'll find out.
When - DKR : Titanite's bogus journey. ever Give a youma otaku the power to cross dimensions and the knowledge that every anime series has its own world out there somewhere and what happens? One word - TROUBLE!
Right that should keep me busy. I can feel my fingers cramping already. Bye for now
Feb. 27 '96