Nephrite, Zoisite, Osaka Naru and Umino Gurio are the creations of Naoka Takeuchi. Calcite, Margrave and the DKR are mine. This story occurs between the DKR stories "Bad Moon Rising" and "Girls' Night Out". This is also the period between Sailor Moon R and Sailor Moon S.
"Metallia, this looks ugly!" Margrave doesn't seem particularly impressed by the sight. The surly tone probably spoils our appearance as a happy couple enjoying a walk arm in arm through this park.
"You don't find the mix of colours attractive?" I know it's a mistake as soon as I say it. She isn't known for her aesthetic appreciation.
"Well I suppose it's better than all that damn green." She sounds dubious. Then she gives me a smile and purrs, "Frankly Calcite I can think of better ways to spend the day!"
With a little effort I manage to keep my mind on why I came here. "This won't take long."
"You're no fun anymore." She doesn't really sound upset. Just seeing how easily she can distract me. Far too easily I'm afraid.
"You didn't have to come with me. This is something of a whim."
Margrave snorts. "Yeah right, I could hang around the house with my old buddy Azurite." Good point, we've got enough repair bills from their little accidents. I wish the two of them could get along.
I also wish we had a way to leave this city and live without any weird complications. Doesn't change a thing. If wishes were horses beggars would ride. I have to deal with the way things are rather than the way I want them.
I've noticed a few people staring at Margrave. Of course she generally draws attention. Though this seems to be more surprise than lust. From the way people are dressed it's a bit chilly for a dress that short and light. My own suit might also be a bit thin but at least looks substantial enough from a distance. I don't feel the cold any more than she does but it's better to blend in. I'll mention that to her later.
I have the funny feeling I'll be spending the rest of the day being dragged around clothes boutiques. She's very particular about what she'll wear. Guess there's one thing she has in common with Azurite. Probably the only thing. Not that I'm going to mention that.
I remember the one time Pyrite and I had the bright idea of sending them out shopping together. It was shortly after we brought Margrave to Tokyo. She'd arrived without luggage and Azurite wasn't happy about having to lend her clothing. Or getting it back covered in cat hair.
Anyway we figured, let's send them out together, hoping that perhaps a common interest would start them understanding one another. Perhaps, in time, they'd put aside their animosity. Heh, to think I've called Ti a hopeless optimist.
Luckily we followed them secretly. Even luckier the Senshi started a fight nearby with some sort of monster so all the damage got blamed on them. All either of them would say afterwards was, "It was all her fault!"
Things haven't changed much since then. Both claimed the other started it and there was no way to tell for sure. Azurite did cause most of the damage but she says it was purely self defense. It could be Margrave's insults finally got to her so she started using her powers. Anyway that was the first and last major incident. Not that things have been peaceful since, just smaller in scale. So home can be a chaotic place these days.
Well at least everything's out in the open now. In hindsight it's amazing just how much I overlooked.
When I get home I'd better put this summersuit in storage and dig out the heavier ones from last winter. Then I'll have to ensure Margrave bundles up a bit until spring. Luckily there aren't many people here to stare at her. I think it's unseasonably cold today. Should have checked the weather report before heading outside. Taking things for granted is a very bad idea. The fewer people who figure out we aren't human the better
Far as I can tell this is the place. I've never been here before but I saw this place in a viewing crystal. Such an ordinary place for a general to die. Nothing to indicate a life measured in centuries ended here.
"You're not looking for company, right?" Margrave sounds eager for me to agree so I nod. "Great! Ok, I'll wait here for a while" She pauses, "Unless a really cute guy walks by." Knowing her that's only half a joke. Why do I put up with her?
I already know the answer. I don't have to pretend to be human with her. In hindsight starting that whole affair with Mai was a mistake. I let her assume I was human. After all why should she suspect otherwise? I should have known it was doomed from the start. Sooner or later the mask would have crumbled as I got sick of being Calvin Hobbes with his make believe biography. There are no illusions with Margrave. She's as alien as I am. More so as she couldn't pass for human without her glamour.
Of course no illusions works both ways. It means I have to accept her as who and what she is. The last true youma. With all that implies.
I used to have this fantasy that she'd change, somehow become a Renegade. I'm older now and I've managed to outgrow a lot of my old delusions. Any affection in our relationship is confined to my side. Her feelings towards me are purely possessive. Should I get interested in anyone else she'll get jealous and could go ballistic. The youma are not a sentimental people but never let go of things they consider their property. As I said, you deal with life the way it is rather than the way you want it.
The tree still has most of its' foliage. There's nothing to distinguish it from any other in this park. Nothing but its' location. This is the one. This is the place he fell.
No one in sight. Not that it matters as I have no idea what to do next. I'm not even sure why I came here. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Perhaps I should say something. But what?
It's not like the Dark Kingdom had anything in the way of funeral rites.
"Hey, Ribict just keeled over dead!"
"Damn, SOB owed me three stones! Soon as he finishes combusting get the dust pan." That's about as ritualistic as it got. As I said youma aren't sentimentally inclined.
We also weren't much on theology. After all we didn't have to debate if there was a God. We knew there was, its' name was Metallia and it was one mean mother! When it awoke the Kingdom would break through to bring darkness upon the outer world, crush humanity under our collective heel, destroy all the champions of light ... and so on.
Of course now that god is dead there could be some fascinating metaphysical debates in the Kingdom. If there was anyone left to debate them. Or anywhere to debate it.
None of us Renegades ever bought into Metallia worship and Margrave just shrugged when she heard. She says that these days she's not worshipping anything except pleasure. Claims she's finished with seeking power as it seems to have been a dead end. So she's going to enjoy life as much as can. Her new philosophy is eat, drink and be merry as tomorrow ... well who knows what'll happen around here next?
It's better than the kingdom's most common philosophy. "Life is hard, then you die, then the Abyss eats your soul. Be thankful if it happens in that order."
Nephrite was born during the first era of human civilization. I imagine they had ceremonies for the deceased. What they were I have no idea, our information on that period is very limited. Not much point in checking for human opinions on the subject as they don't even know the first era existed. A few vague legends and that's it.
I don't really have any religious beliefs of my own. I mean I believe that good and evil exist as more than abstract concepts. I've seen evidence of both. But which, if any, human belief system is right I have no idea. Perhaps they all possess a facet of the truth but none embrace the whole jewel ... my I'm pretentious today. At any rate I know evil demands worship but does good? A excellent question but there's no way to answer it.
I could say a few words even if they don't mean anything to me. As I'm supposedly British I'm assumed to be a christian. If people ask I tell them I'm agnostic. Still I thought it best to read up on the subject in case people asked me anything about the religion I'm supposed to have lost faith in. What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive. Can't remember who said that. I'm distracting myself again. Remember why you came here.
Forget the words. Why say them if they're just meaningless noise to me? Still I feel the urge to do something. Some sort of gesture, perhaps ...
I summon the psychoplasm with a thought. There's a faint shimmer around my right hand. If I needed a weapon I'd be holding one already. But I need to forge a new shape. Any initial creation takes time. I have to visualize it in my mind then impress the image on the energy I've summoned. Like so.
It looks like a rose but it doesn't feel like one. Creating the right texture for organic objects is beyond me right now. Perhaps someday I'll be good enough to create replicas indistinguishable from the real. Actually I won't as I can't create anything living. Though why would I want to?
On second thoughts roses are a bad choice. After all Tuxedo Mask was one of Nephrite's enemies. Roses are his prime choice as weapons. Speaking of him I wonder if he creates his roses this way? Perhaps not. Still they definitely aren't ordinary flowers. I've seen them penetrate armour.
Flowers, period, may be a bad choice. Zoisite's habit of appearing in a storm of petals had slipped my mind. So now what? After a moment I have a new idea. I reshape and recolor the pseudo plant. I'm now holding a white lily. I seem to recall these are associated with death. It's as good a token as anything else. Might as well get on with this, I'm starting to feel a little foolish. Why did I decide to come here? I guess that dream pushed me to come today. I've been thinking about it and putting it off for weeks.
I'm placing the lily at the foot of the tree when I hear movement. I have a highly developed ability to pick up on potential threats. It isn't triggering. So I react a bit slower than I should. I'm straightening up as the girl enters the clearing.
She's about the same age as Titanite. There'a a reddish tint to her hair and she looks familiar to me. Where do I know her from? One of Ti's schools? She stops dead at the sight of me. I guess she wasn't expecting to find anyone here. Is there any point in sticking around? I don't appear to be accomplishing anything except startling a schoolgirl.
"My apologies for disturbing you. I'll be on my way."
"Wait ... please wait a minute." She's looking at the psuedo lily at the base of the tree. I should have dissolved it. Well it'll sublime in about ten minutes anyway. "That flower ... why did you put it there?"
I remember where I've seen this girl before. At Ti's old school when Magnesite showed up impersonating Nephrite. She recognised him, tried to talk him out fighting. Which means she was that girl! The one Nephrite got himself killed trying to protect. Why is she here? Perhaps she comes here to remember him? Maybe she just came by on a whim. Like me.
For some reason I don't come up with a story. Instead I say, "Over a year ago a man died here. I recently learned that he was my father. I've been thinking about visiting for the past few weeks. Today seemed like a good day to do it."
"Nephrite-sama was your father?" She seems confused. Understandable I suppose. Appearances would lead you to believe I'm about the same age as Nephrite. We both look to be in our early twenties. The difference is that in my case I am the age I appear, as for him ... "Nephrite was older than he looked ..." I think I'll spare her the exact number of centuries. "Still you must have known he wasn't ...", human, "normal." She nods, perhaps remembering him bleeding green. The replay I saw in the viewing crystal is a lot clearer now.
"He ... he didn't mention having a son."
A son? I wonder how many children he fathered over the years? I wonder if Ti and I were the only Renegades? "Where we come from fathers don't take any part in raising children" Not that they'd want to. The feeling was, after you've had the fun why stick around to clean up after the brat?
I have the feeling she's about to ask about my mother. Then something occurs to her. "Where we come from? You're from the same place he came from?"
"Oh." She's looking apprehensive. "Umm ... are you evil?"
I have to laugh. "No."
"Nephrite-sama said he came from a place where everyone was evil."
"That was the official line. But every society has its rebels."
"Oh. So you don't want to drain my energy."
"Never touch the stuff."
She's looking a little less edgy but still nervous. I sigh. "I'm obviously upsetting you so I'd better go."
"No wait, please!" She grabs my sleeve then colours and releases her grip. Embarrassed about taking such liberties with a total stranger. She seems to be studying her shoes intently. The smart thing to do is leave. So why do I turn back to face her?
"So what can I do for you young lady? I've heard your name before but I forget it."
I remember Titanite asking me why humans had at least two names. After all we always got on fine with one. I explained that family was important to humans. She looked puzzled and said I was very important to her, so were Pyrite and Azurite. So I ended up giving her a lecture on geneology and the importance of ancestors to humans. She said it must be odd to be able to want to remember your ancestors. Renegades take no pleasure in the past deeds of their forefathers and normal youma cared about their own achievements rather than those of their predecessors.
"Nice to meet you Osaka-san. You can call me Calcite." It's not as if the Senshi don't know we're out here. I thought I heard a faint groan. Perhaps Margrave's comment on my blowing my cover.
"Calcite-sama ...", she's looking very ill at ease, "... are you sure your father is dead?" She doesn't wait for my answer. "I mean I saw it happen but ... but about three months ago I saw him appear and fight the Sailor Senshi. I tried to stop him but he wouldn't listen. Said it was his duty. He didn't even seem to know me at first! Was he a ghost or did he come back somehow? It's been driving me crazy!"
Magnesite. Of course no one ever told her he was a fake. She's sounding bitter. "No one except Umino-kun even noticed I was upset. But he doesn't remember any of the weird stuff from last year. I didn't either until I saw Nephrite!" She's not slowing down, this must have been building for quite a while. "I didn't exactly forget, it's more like I knew all this stuff but I never thought about it. Like I never wondered why I was going out with Umino-kun. That started last year after that guy attacked me. In fact it was the same guy who ... who killed ..." She starts crying and buries her face in my shirt. I rest a hand on her shoulder and wait.
After a few minutes she straightens up and sniffs. "I'm very sorry, I didn't mean to ... oh I've ruined your shirt."
"Don't worry about it." She sniffles and I create a few tissues. I never carry them as I don't get sick. She wipes her face and blows her nose then looks for a trash bin. As there isn't one handy I take them and toss them away. While they're in midair I uncreate them so there's no littering. Of course the contents are still present and drop to the ground. Well it's all organic so there's no problem. It does strike me that it's a bit of an inappropriate offering to drop on the closest thing your father has to a grave but that can't be helped.
It seems my disappearing act has definitely established my credentials with her. While she's staring I tell her, "The Nephrite you met a few months ago was an imposter. He was trying to confuse people by assuming other identities. He has been dealt with." Margrave was rather amused by Magnesite's fate and likes to use him to prop windows open or as a door stop.
"So he wasn't a ghost?"
"Youma don't have ghosts." At least as far as I know.
"Oh." After a pause she asks, "What do youma think happens after ... after you die."
There are very definite beliefs on that. I'd better sugarcoat it a little. "Well the belief is that after you died you descend ..." should have said rise, "... and become part of the ... uh primal force would be the translation." That's more or less accurate. I remember being told the story by mother.
"Listen well child! When we die we descend to the great abyss and join with those who have gone before. All that you are dissolves and becomes part of the Great Darkness. Every bit of your evil helps to increase the power of the Abyss. Someday Queen Metallia will revive. Then the Abyss will overflow and spread darkness throughout the Universe. Bringing chaos and destruction to all that live!" What you have to remember is that in the Dark Kingdom this was held to be attractive. It meant even after you were dead you'd still be able to spread pain and misery. Not a particularly attractive afterlife legend in my humble opinion.
I'm getting morbid. Better think about something else. "You started to say something about last year?"
"I ... I shouldn't bother you while you're paying your respects."
"It's all right. I'd like to talk to a friend of my father's" Perhaps the only one he ever had.
"Well if that's what you want ..." I can tell she's been wanting to tell this to somebody. She takes a deep breath and starts.
"Last year was very strange for me. I can't count the number of times I was attacked by monsters. I'm just lucky Sailor Moon and the other Senshi were around to save me." She pauses a moment. "I guess that's not that unusual for me. This year I've been attacked by monsters four times. Once in my bedroom, a couple of days later on this movie set, during hanami and then at this Sailor Moon sentai show." She breathes a sigh of relief. "Luckily nothing's happened to me in the past few months. But why do they keep picking on me?"
"I guess you're a very tasty girl."
She chuckles a little. Hopefully that broke the tension. Then she continues, "Anyway in between getting attacked by monsters and rescued I met Nephrite-sama. He was calling himself Sanjouin Masato and I ... well I fell for him." She's blushing. "I didn't have a clue that he was ... whatever you are ... I guess love is blind." She pauses then goes on, "But it wasn't a one sided love. An enemy of his kidnapped me. He could have just left me but he didn't. He rescued me ... and that's what got him killed." For a moment I think she's going to start crying again but she rallies. "There was this blond guy and his three monsters. He killed Nephrite-sama. Right on this spot!"
"Zoisite. He's also dead."
"Good!" I'm a bit startled at the vehemence in her voice. "He didn't leave me alone. He attacked me in a graveyard and turned a priest into a monster. For a change it was Umino-kun who saved me not Sailor Moon. I guess that's when I started noticing him. Then he attacked me and a lot of other people at an amusement park. It was a couple of weeks later. I remember Umino-kun was acting very strange that day. He'd put on this tuxedo and was running around saying he'd save me. I think Usagi-chan was responsible for that somehow. She acted very guilty when I asked her about it."
"She used to be my best friend. But she started hanging around with these other girls and now she hardly even remembers to talk to me."
I'm wondering if that's the same Usagi as the one who becomes Sailor Moon. Still what are the odds that Nephrite would get mixed up with Sailor Moon's former best friend?
Actually around here I'd guess about 50/50.
"Anyway I started going out with Umino-kun. I was getting over Nephrite- sama's death and I started getting used to seeing less and less of Usagi. Then one day everything changed. Suddenly Usagi and I were best friends again. Two of her new friends go to our school but it was like they didn't know each other anymore. I didn't remember things ever being different. All the nightmares about being attacked by monsters stopped. That didn't strike me as odd as I didn't remember being attacked. But it wasn't like everything was the way it had been before the strange things started. I was still going out with Umino-kun. I just never thought about how we'd started dating."
"It wasn't just us. Remember the movie set attack I mentioned." I nod. "I ran into all the girls who'd been Usagi's new best friends but they didn't know each other. Back then I didn't think anything was odd about that."
"It was right after that Usagi and those other girls were suddenly best friends again and I was out in the cold. That hurt, especially as I didn't remember them being friends before. Also I was being attacked by monsters regularly so I was feeling very insecure."
"Then I saw Nephrite-sama. Well you say it wasn't Nephrite-sama. I guess I can believe that. I remember how he looked when ..." She chokes off the thought and tries again. "When I saw that man suddenly it was like a floodgate opened in my mind. I remembered Nephrite-sama. I was overjoyed to see him again. But he'd gone back to evil and he didn't seem to want anything to do with me anymore." Somewhat irrelevantly I wonder if there's a japanese translation of "Casablanca".
"He told Umino to get me away before the fight started. He did so I didn't see what happened. I didn't know if the Senshi had destroyed him or he'd fled. Maybe he was still around somewhere. I asked around at the school but nobody had seen what happened. Everyone who'd been there had been zapped by Nephrite. The fake Nephrite I mean." Guess she didn't run into Titanite. My sister would undoubtably have given her a very detailed account of the amazing debut of Sailor Polaris.
"I tried to talk to Umino about him but he didn't remember a thing. When I talked about the monster at the amusement park and him calling himself Tuxedo Umino Kamen he stared at me like I was crazy. Then he started saying he remembered but he was just humouring me. I couldn't figure it out and it's been driving me crazy. Not that Usagi's bothered to ask what's wrong with me. Even if she did she'd think I was crazy. I just want to know what happened!"
It won't do any harm to tell her. "Nephrite and I came from a place called the Dark Kingdom. So did Zoisite and the monsters you met last year. When the Senshi destroyed it things changed somehow. I don't exactly understand how it happened but somehow people stopped thinking about anything the Kingdom had done. There are still records of everything that happened but it's as if it doesn't matter to people. So no one looks. There's a few people who know things have changed. You've become one of them. All I can advise is not to worry about it. Trying to force people to remember is like beating your head against a wall. Painful and futile. Nephrite is gone, forget about him and concentrate on your new boyfriend. The only thing that's really been worrying you is Nephrite's fate isn't it."
She nods hesitantly. After a brief silence she asks, "There's one thing I have to ask. Do you know if Nephrite really cared about me?"
What can I tell her? Nephrite and I moved in very different circles. He had no interest in his offspring. If he'd known I was a Renegade he'd have killed me personally as an insult to his bloodline. Perhaps at the end he softened but for most of his life he was no one I'd want to know.
Azurite was right there when her father died. She didn't feel any warmth towards him. Granted Jadeite had just tried to kill the four of us and the Knight Sabers. As she said who her father was had no connection to who she was. What did I expect to learn by coming here?
Naru's waiting for an answer. "I didn't know him except by reputation. I didn't even confirm he was my father until very recently. Still one thing I do know. He was one of the most powerful people in the Dark Kingdom. Yet he threw away his status, power and even his life for you. Would he have done that for someone he didn't love?"
Her smile's a bit forced and there are tears in her eyes. Maybe now she can mourn him a final time and move on. This would never have happened without Magnesite's interference. But there's not a lot else you can do with someone stuck in an eternal sleep crystal. Maybe I'll put it where he can see the TV so he'll have to watch all of Ti's shows. Those cartoons are rotting her brains, maybe it'll do the same to him.
There's movement again. The boy has unruly hair and the thickest glasses I've ever seen. Wonder if he can see anything without them? He gives me a quick bow. "Excuse me sir, Naru-chan? I went by your house and your mother said you'd gone to the park again. I guessed you'd come here again." He sounds upset. I think he wants to understand the hold this place has on her but can't make any sense of it.
She wipes her eyes and smiles at him. "It's alright Umino-kun. I think I'm done with this place." She turns back to me, "Calcite-sama, thank you." She bows. I'm about to return it when a new voice cuts through the park.
"You guys all done with the weepy, touchy-feeley stuff yet." Margrave slinks into the clearing and the boy develops a spontaneous nosebleed. In a moment she's behind me, her chin's resting on my shoulder and her arms are draped around me. "Kid, a word of friendly advice ..." She's glaring at Naru. "... you may have a thing for older men ..." Naru blushes, "... but this guy is taken. So keep your hands to yourself and we'll both be a lot happier." Naru starts to stammer some sort of denial then grabs the boy's arm and practically drags him out of the clearing. Margrave chuckles, "I thought they'd never leave."
"That was unnecessary."
She taps her nose, "Oh really? I've got one hell of a sense of smell and I was starting to pick up phermones. Guess you remind her of your old man. Or rather the man she thought Lord Nephrite was."
"I am hardly going to get involved with a girl the same age as Ti"
"Glad to hear it. Guess pedophilia doesn't run in your bloodline."
"Margrave, have you ever heard of tact?"
"I've heard of it. Never saw much point in it."
"There was no need to embarrass her with her boyfriend here."
"Wrong! There was every need. It stopped him from thinking you were after her. It's also stopped her from doing anything. Maybe you wouldn't have started anything but she might have. In which case I'd get jealous being the possessive type. Problem is Senshi keep showing up to help her out when she gets herself in trouble and I don't want to have to fight them. Unfortunately my instincts sometimes overpower my reasoning. So it's more cost effective to nip the whole thing in the bud right now."
I have to smile. "I guess that's one way to look at it."
"That's how I see it. So, you done yet?"
I glance behind and see the lily dissolving. "I guess so." No answers, but did I really expect any? I'm not even sure of the questions.
"We mourn not for the dead but for ourselves. For all we have lost by their absence. Don't confuse grief for their death with your own selfishness."
That's a little unexpected from Margrave. At my questioning look she flushes (it shows up a lot easier on her glamour when you don't have to see through the fur), "Just something I heard Janet say once. Not really appropriate in this case. At least not to you, it might apply to her. It's all I could think of, I've never studied mourning. Dead is dead, right?"
"Janet? Oh right, your friend from MegaTokyo."
She looks annoyed. "We were only friends because the dimensional shift messed with my mind. Don't forget that! Just another dead human."
She's the biggest believer in Pyrite's dimensional integration theory. Says it explains so much about her behaviour while in the other world. Yet sometimes I wonder ...
Her hands distract my line of thought. "So, let's get out of here. Maybe find ourselves a hotel for a change of scenery and a little privacy."
"We also need to get you some warmer clothes for appearances sake."
"Why don't we just let them think you're keeping me warm?" She purrs and shifts position. This is what you get for hooking up with a literal sex kitten. Not that I'm complaining.
As we leave I hear movement behind me and turn. What do I expect to see? A translucent image of Nephrite smiling at me? Just the branches blowing in the wind.
All things considered that's probably for the best.
Any comments on this story can be sent to me at Mark.Latus@MSVU.Ca
Sept. 13 1996