Cute and Continua
by Mark Latus

When people look at the recorded 20th century adventures of the Dark Kingdom Renegades they sometimes puzzle over the large gap between the trip to MegaTokyo and Titanite's own cross dimensional adventure. What were they doing during all the months in between and why weren't they exploring other dimensions for a new home if they thought Tokyo was so dangerous?

The answer to the first is that they were living as quietly as possible trying not to attract attention. Unfortunately for the older Renegades this was harder than you might think. In a synchronous zone coincidence tends to add up and people with powers tend to run into one another. This was fine by Titanite but the adult youma didn't like this phenomena, it bringing them into contact with people and things they'd rather avoid. Which was how they met Esmeraude and that leads us to the answer to the second question. Let's turn back the clock back to the adventures of yesteryear.

It was March of 1994 and while winter had faded Tokyo was still firmly in the grip of Sailor Moon R. Having wracked up an impressive string of failures and growing anxious over not disappointing Demand, Esmeraude decided to think carefully about her next plan. Every time she'd placed a Dark Hinge the senshi had encountered it and destroyed the droid linked to it before the dark power could flood through. So she needed a way to keep the senshi from finding it until it was too late. She wracked her brains attempting to find an answer. At last she came up with what many would consider a fairly obvious plan. Whoever they were and regardless of how important they'd become right now the senshi were all teenage schoolgirls. So she would switch her attacks from her current timing of weekends, holidays and evenings to late at night and during school hours! Convinced once again she was a genius Esmeraude laughed at the brilliance of her plan. Had she known something about the zone she'd have realized that avoiding the senshi would bring her into contact with Tokyo's other beings of power. But Esmeraude had little tolerance for research and theory and no concerns about synchronicity. Which was why she picked the nightclub she did in Shinjuku.

On the night in question the President and executive staff of the Kabukicho Bank were celebrating the successful end to the fiscal year. The president was lavish in his praise. Profits were up and, thanks to their director of foreign investments they'd avoided getting caught in that Singapore fiasco. Calvin Hobbes accepted the praise modestly, saying he'd merely being doing his job. Last thing he needed was resentment at getting singled out. But the President was insistent that he'd lived up to his hotshot reputation. Privately the president couldn't remember exactly why he'd hired the young British consultant but it had obviously been one of his wisest decisions. At any rate it was time to get things going and drink until they collapsed.

The sake started to flow and Calcite decided once again that his job was, in truth, simplicity itself. To be successful you merely had to look for the patterns while keeping your eyes peeled for deception and hidden agendas. It was remarkable how well his Dark Kingdom acquired skills fit into the arena of high finance. However, right now, he had something else concerning him.

"Trouble with the girlfriend?"

Calcite turned to see one of the VP's, who'd got an early start on the drinking leaning over him. "Why do you ask Moriboshi-san?"

"Call me Ataru. Reason I ask is you can't seem to take your eyes off that hostess." He gestured towards one of the bunny girls, the only one present who didn't seem to be professionally playing up to the customers. "Must be new, haven't seen her before. Looks kinda severe ... think she's into anything kinky?" He didn't wait for an answer, "Now I'd go for her in a second but you've got a great piece waiting for you so ...?"

"Sorry, Cat's not up for grabs."


"I just thought I recognised her, she reminds me of a girl I knew in school. But I was wrong, it's someone else. As for Cat ... be glad she's not looking for a new berth. She's a real handful."

Ataru chuckled, "I'll bet!" His good humour vanished, replaced by maudlin self pity. "It's not fair! You've got a babe like her plus you've got that model living with you. Why can't I ever get lucky?"

"Aren't you married?"

"Yeah right, like I got a choice. She decided we were getting married and wouldn't take no for an answer. It's not fair!" He wept momentarily causing the others to laugh over his tale of woe before downing another drink. "Hey honey, come over here and pour me a drink." She ignored him and walked away leaving Ataru to mutter. Calcite excused himself and headed for the bathroom. He needed to make a call in private before all hell broke loose.

Calcite had noticed her by accident. This celebration being an all male group of coworkers he was resigned to an evening of acting drunk and being sure not to outdrink the president. He'd been glancing around the room wondering, as he had on previous occasions, why bunny girls had such resonance with the Japanese psyche when he saw her. At first glance just another foreign hostess but there was something troubling about her. When he realised what it was it took a great deal of self control to give no sign.

She had no aura. All living things produce an aura simply by virtue of being alive. It varies from species to species, sentient beings auras are far more noticeable and distinctive. Calcite's own aura was altered by his glamour to pass for human. But the woman had none and closer examination showed a contemptuous expression when she thought she was unobserved. So she was some sort of construct, probably one of the senshi's new playmates. And that meant trouble was coming!

He had several options available. Teleporting away was probably the smartest but leaving the bank's senior staff and everyone else in here to face who knew what fate wasn't palatable. When trouble started he could change to Gray and take out the construct but appearing as an English superhero type when so many of his coworkers knew he was present could raise some awkward questions. Hopefully the third option was available.

Luckily for Calcite, and everyone else present, she was free. He gave all the information he had and directions from her nearest teleport point. She'd get moving and make her entrance when he hit the communicator's emergency signal. Calcite sighed off and returned to the company table.

In his absence things had deteriorated. The mood of everyone in the club was surly and rapidly worsening. Calcite didn't feel any changes in his own behaviour but acted as though whatever was happening was also affecting him. Around the club insults were flying, the hostesses and customers shouting at each other, friendships were shattering and his colleagues civility was giving way to envy and prejudice. Ataru went for his throat shouting something about gaijin bastards stealing all the best girls and started a small riot. In the middle of the melee, unhurt thanks to his shield and trying not to hurt anyone while fighting back against the mob Calcite heard a laugh.

It wasn't a particularly evil and menacing laugh, more grating and annoying like fingernails on a blackboard. Through the struggle Calcite saw a green haired woman in a black miniskirted dress with rather tasteless silver highlights to accentuate her talents. Everyone else was ignoring her except for the construct beside her which was bowing to her. Figuring enough was enough Calcite hit the emergency signal.

Esmeraude's enjoyment of the dark power created chaos was interrupted by the main doors slamming open. The droid defaulted into battlemode shifting to it's true form. Much like it's old one except that it was now a real bunny girl with white fur, yellow eyes and (most unrabbitlike) razor edged claws and teeth. Esmeraude cursed, expecting to see the senshi entering then her jaw dropped, Whoever that woman was she clearly wasn't a teenage girl. The outfit was senshi-like in design but the red and black leather accessorised by spikes was a sharp contrast to the good girl norm.

Before she could demand the newcomer's name or give droid Fluffi the attack command the mystery senshi struck. In blatant disregard for the normal introductory speech requirement her first move was to generate a windstorm which slammed the droid against the bar. Momentarily dazed the savage bunny girl needed a moment to recover. It didn't get it. It was still slumped against the bar assessing damage caused by the implosion of it's excessive chest when it registered someone towering over it. Fluffi caught a brief glimpse of the hand raised over it's head before a second airvortex blasted downwards at pointblank range. The droid's matrix overloaded and feedback fried it's control system. The protomatter dispersed and it exploded into a cloud of dust. Behind the bar the concealed dark hinge shattered as it's linked unit burned out. The struggling humans began to pause as they suddenly became unable to remember why they were fighting. Several sneezed from the dust that marked the droid's passing. Calcite noted the faint smile on Azurite's face and realized that she must have found a certain measure of satisfaction in destroying the construct. Sending something white furred and fanged against her was a little like waving a red flag before a bull's eyes.

Calcite didn't get much of a look because Azurite was already moving instead of savouring the moment. Esmeraude was still gaping at the droid's demise and Azurite wasn't one to let an opportunity pass.

Esmeraude was struggling to regain her wits when she realized the senshi was behind her. "What ...hrrkkk!" Esmeraude's declaration that the newcomer identify herself and prepare to pay for her interference was cut off abruptly as she felt an arm like an iron bar across her throat. From the corner of her eye she saw a hand glowing with power and heard a voice by her ear speak. "First hint I get you're trying anything I take your head off. Oh and for the record the name's Sailor Arcturus." Esmeraude couldn't answer because couldn't get any air in her lungs. She started to reach for the arm that was suffocating her but stopped dead as she felt the air around her stir.

Meanwhile the confused customers were picking themselves up and trying to make sense of the odd tableau before them. Someone identified one of the figures as Sailor Arcturus while another insisted this must be some sort of floor show. Calcite kept an unobtrusive watch on the pair while he helped his fellows up and brushed off their apologies for not knowing why they'd attacked him. If things went very wrong he was going to help Azure regardless of the consequences but his friend seemed to have matters well in hand.

A disinterested observer would have called it an excellent demonstration of the "David and Goliath" principle. Showing that a lesser powered but skilled opponent could swiftly and effectively beat a far more powerful but inefficient adversary. Esmeraude was far from disinterested. She couldn't breathe! Sailor Arcturus was strangling her to death!

Though she didn't know it Esmeraude was wrong. If Azurite had wanted her dead Esmeraude's head would already be decorating the far wall. But whoever this woman was she was alive rather than another construct. In the old days that wouldn't have stopped her. But back then her enemies had been other youma and showing mercy was suicidal in more ways than one. Even if the enemy you spared didn't try to kill you you'd have marked yourself as a Renegade. A capital crime.

But that was then and this was now. The new rules were different. In fact they weren't even sure what they were. All they knew for certain was there was peace between them and the senshi as long as they kept their noses clean. Which meant follow the human rules and make killing a last resort. So Azurite was planning to throttle this idiot into unconsciousness then make a few anonymous calls to the authorities and the senshi and leave them to worry about what to do with her. It'd keep her hands clean and avoid any unnecessary strain on the peace treaty.

Unaware of this, Esmeraude tried desperately to breathe without success. Her lungs were burning and she was terrified! She tried to pull on the senshi's arm and found it immovable. She had barely enough control left to remember that if she tried to use her powers Arcturus would take her head off. Everything was going black as Esmeraude's befuddled mind suddenly came up with the solution. A more competent person would have figured it out sooner but that's a separate issue. Concentrating as best she could Esmeraude timeslipped.

Azurite was very startled to suddenly find herself holding nothing. She spun around trying to locate her adversary (unconcerned with the effect on her skirt which showed a higher cut on her costume's legline) but she wasn't in sight. Where the hell had she gone? It hadn't felt like teleportation. There was no warp signature and this close to a teleport she should have sensed that and been able to follow. Not that jumping blindly after an enemy was a good idea but ... Well however she'd worked it whoever she was she'd vanished without a trace. Ignoring the onlookers she returned to where she'd destroyed the rabbit construct. Nothing left but scattered dust ... and a small black jewel she hadn't noticed at the time. Pyrite would be very interested in this. She reached down and it shattered at her touch into fragments indistinguishable from the dust. Not a total surprise, last time she'd run into one of these things the same thing happened. New controller this time around which might or might not be significant. Well the fight was over better get into character and be Sailor Arcturus. Time to act seductive and enigmatic.

She straightened up running a hand through her hair and mentally noted she'd need to wash the dust out. Everyone in the restaurant was staring at her but she acted as if she didn't notice them. As she headed for the door, everyone staying rooted in place one of the human bunny girls called, "Who are you and what the hell is going on?!"

She stopped long enough to purr, "The name is Sailor Arcturus and I'm just doing my job. I seek out evil and punish the wicked!" As she'd learned to expect quite a few of the male spectators (and one of the female) began shouting that they were wicked. Calcite was a little disappointed (but not really surprised) how many of the confessions were coming from his table.

"I always pad my expenses 150 %!"

"I went to Hawaii while I supposed to be on sick leave!"

"I doubled our productivity figures!"

Beside Calcite, Ataru yelled, "I've been embezzling money for five years now!" Calcite shook his head, this was kind of pathetic really.

Sailor Arcturus seemed to feel the same way. "Little boys with little imagination. Give me a call if you do something really evil." With that she sauntered out well aware that every eye was fixed on her exit. The front doors slammed themselves open and snapped shut as soon as she was outside. The crash broke the spell and several patrons rushed to follow her. Calcite knew they'd find nothing as Azurite would have teleported as soon as the doors closed. She knew how to make a good exit. As he thought this he grabbed Ataru's arm as the other started to rise.

"Let go, I've got to see where she went!"

"I think you've got other things to worry about." The dry tone broke through Ataru's lust induced haze. "Huh?" Then he noticed the president struggling to contain his anger. "Uh oh!"

"MORIBOSHI!!!" Every executive who'd confessed something turned pale as the president tore into the hapless Ataru. Calcite shrugged and picked up his drink suspecting that the party would end sooner than anticipated.

He was right but, not being a big fan of drunken vice presidents struggling to remember the words to songs, he wasn't too upset. He owed Azurite for this. What he didn't know was how soon he'd have to return the favour.

Meanwhile in a spaceship whose presence over Tokyo was concealed by being slightly displaced in time Esmeraude materialized. She immediately crashed to the deck and lay there gasping for air. After a somewhat overdramatised recovery (wasted as there was no audience) she crossed over to the monitors. Their view screens displaying a montage of city scenes and she tried to concentrate on picking her next target. This was difficult as her thoughts kept turning back to Sailor Arcturus. She massaged her throat and shivered as she remembered the viselike grip. The other senshi were bad news but despite their power were soft and weak. They'd spared Coaan and the others instead of destroying them. Sailor Arcturus wasn't like that. The new senshi had been utterly merciless! If she hadn't timeslipped ...

Esmeraude tried to turn her thoughts from her brush with death and considered the problem of phasing back into normal time. Dammit that would put her days beyond her last appearance! Why couldn't they get the bugs out of time travel so she could return minutes after her defeat armed and ready? Or back before the battle so she could change the outcome? She'd asked that every time she lost and just got Safir giving her some lecture about paradox. How did he know it was impossible if no one had ever actually done it? Every time she'd said this he'd got that funny look on his face as if he thought she was an idiot. What did he know? The spineless little worm was always questioning Demand's orders and trying to complicate things. If he wasn't Demand's brother ... She lost her train of thought as she thought about Demand and drifted off into fantasy. Eventually she came out of it and got back to work. Once she was fully back in the twentieth century she'd strike on a afternoon while the schools were in session. Her brilliance would win the day yet. She took a few minutes to laugh then prepared to depart. As an afterthought she sent a message back up the line describing the new senshi. Perhaps Safir could finally earn his keep and tell her something useful.

A little over a week after the previous incident Azure DeWitt and Yohko Amano were sitting down in a coffee shop having finished their latest shoot. It had been a long morning and the ad's director had been either a true perfectionist or real anal control freak. Regardless they were through for the day and after hours of posing while looking turned on by a car they both felt they could use a break. The waitress arrived with their orders and served their coffee and cake. It was a pretty slipshod job and she slopped the top of Azure's coffee over the rim. She offered no apology and stalked away grumbling. In fact on a closer examination Azure noticed all the staff looked surly as did several of the customers. She felt a sudden sense of foreboding. Now it could just be a bad day for whatever reason but her instincts told her trouble was coming. She'd learned her instincts were a good judge of when things were going to go very wrong.

"How can you eat that?" Yohko's voice snapped her back to the mundane as she realized her friend was staring at the thick slice of cream laden cake.

"With a fork though I could use a spoon."

"Ha ha. But seriously how do you do it? I've seen you tear into sweet stuff but you never gain a bit. Just looking at that's put a kilo on me!" Yohko stopped herself adding sugar to her coffee and gloomily contemplated her latest diet. Keeping her figure was a constant battle but Azure never seemed to worry. It wasn't fair! Seeds of envy spouted and began to grow rapidly.

Oblivious to this (and masking her growing disquiet) Azure answered, "Like I've always said I've been blessed with a metabolism which burns up the excess calories plus I work out regularly. There's no secret involved. Besides I don't eat like this all the time. I know some chocoholics but I've never been tempted to join them." Metabolically Ti's the same as me and if Margrave bloats up or loses her silky fur I'm not going to shed any tears.


"Because it doesn't exist anymore." Azurite kept a rein on her temper and kept herself from blurting that out. She recognised the symptoms from Calcite's description and a few incidents she'd heard about. People suddenly displaying hostile behaviour without apparent cause and in extreme cases mobbing the unafflicted. Acting like she was cringing before Yohko's anger she stuttered, "I ... I have to use the toilet", and made a retreat for the washroom. On her way there she caught a glimpse of the auraless cashier laughing and nodded to herself. Target located, time to call for backup.

In his office Calvin Hobbes informed his secretary not to disturb him and to hold his calls. He swiftly locked the doors and activated a monitor which would inform him if anyone entered during his absence. He was already visualizing the nearest teleport point to Azure's location as he open his watch's face and touched the concealed button. There was a faint crackle as his dark blue suit shifted to gray body armour but no sound as his glamour altered. With a thought he vanished silently.

Back at the coffeeshop Azurite had been forced to retreat from the washroom by a small mob Yohko had whipped into a gaijin bashing mood. Her current problem was disabling them without inflicting permanent damage or revealing her own paranormal capabilities. From the corner of her eye she'd seen the cashier's form shift so she now seemed to have a register in her abdomen. Based on recent trends Azure expected her to be able to throw coins with lethal force or something equally inane. There was an annoying laugh and Azure caught a glimpse of the bitch from last week. Then she felt a familiar aura and smiled. The cavalry had just arrived.

The first hint Esmeraude got that something was wrong was the grey blur that resolved into a man with a sword. Followed abruptly by the bisected droid wailing briefly as it hit the ground in halves then evaporated. The dark hinge shattered but Esmeraude wasn't thinking about that. This was because her attention was otherwise engaged.

The reason she now had such a good view of the man with the sword was because he was in front of her and the sword's tip was pricking her throat. She had frozen in shock and was holding her breath not daring to move. "I'd suggest you resume breathing or you're going to faint. It'll get messy if you fall towards me." He said this with no particular emotion but didn't give the impression he'd move the sword if that happened. "I'm not really interested in who you are or your plans for revenge so I'd recommend staying quiet."

Esmeraude breathed softly, with the point against her throat she didn't dare do anything else. Trying to grasp the situation she speculated that he might share that absurd chivalry of that Tuxedo Mask character. She looked into the grey eyes before her and saw no hint of mercy or hesitancy. She swallowed hard and immediately regretted it as she felt a trickle of blood run down her neck. Something was forming in his free hand, a cane or staff. Whatever it was she wasn't sticking around to find out. Exercising the better part of valour Esmeraude disappeared.

Calcite blinked but gave no other sign of surprise. Azure was right, it wasn't like a teleport. She was just ... gone. No teleport signature, gone without a trace. Or rather there was nothing there he could trace. He lowered his arm fading the sword from existence and dismissed the shock baton he'd just created. He could have pulsed a stun burst through the sword but that ran too much risk of impaling her. Killing defeated enemies was the sort of thing the senshi would object too. Not that she'd been actually defeated, just checkmated temporarily. Until she was out cold he hadn't been about to relax. Well she was gone and if things ran true to form there would be a few quiet days before she reappeared. Hopefully next time the senshi could handle her.

Calcite crossed to the construct's remains and scooped it into a paper cup he'd grabbed from the counter. He could have shaped a container but this stuff might react badly to psychoplasm. Snapping the lid on he glanced around the cafe and nodded as he saw everyone recovering nicely. Azure was being helped up and brushed off by another woman who was apologising profusely. Looked like everything was under control. Time to go.

Azure managed to cut off the frantic flow of Yohko's regrets. "Don't worry about it, everyone in here was acting ... negatively. I think we just got caught in one of those weird happenings you read rumours about."

Yohko nodded, having caught a glimpse of both the droid and Esmeraude's disappearance. "You hear about them but it's always somebody's cousin had a friend who ran into ... something. You don't think it was an evil spirit of some sort?"

Azure shrugged and pointed to the man in grey. "Whatever it was he seems to have got rid of it. If you're really worried drop by your shrine and say a few prayers." Yohko had to envy her western disregard for the supernatural. Even after an experience like this she didn't seem to take magic seriously.

"You shouldn't take things like this so lightly!" Then noticing their rescuer strolling for the door without a hint of noticing the amazed and confused crowd she called, "Hey wait. You saved us from a demon or something?"

"Or something." He didn't stop as he answered and reached for the door.

"WAIT! Who are you."

He paused long enough to look at Yohko (who coloured at his gaze) and simply "Gray." Then he stepped outside and out of view. Azurite felt the teleport signature and once again decided Calcite had seen too many of Clint Eastwood's "man with no name" flicks when he created Gray. But the stone faced and monosyllabic type appealed to some. Yohko's eye's were still fixed on the door. Without turning around she asked softly, "Do you think he's single?"

"Unfortunately, no. And she's a real pain in ..." Azure managed not to say this out loud. Instead she answered, "Anyone involved with cops has a lot of stress to face and they don't go out deliberately looking for trouble. Getting mixed up with a guy who fights monsters on a regular basis is a real bad idea." Yohko made a noncommittal noise and kept watching the door. Danger had a certain attraction ... especially to those who hadn't faced true peril. Azure's opinion of risking death as an aphrodisiac was somewhat more cynical. But she couldn't say why without raising a few awkward questions. One look at Yohko's face banished the emerging memories and she suppressed a chuckle. Looked like Calcite, or rather Gray, had become a fantasy figure again. She'd mention it to him this evening before things got serious. There were some things they needed to consider.

"It's getting ridiculous." Azurite gestured at the window trying to encompass the city. Calcite and Pyrite both knew what she meant and nodded. Apparently oblivious Margrave tapped a claw in time to the music blasting through her headphones. Titanite was absent as she was over at her friend Kaori's for a study and gossip session. Azurite continued, "It's getting so we can't turn around in this city without bumping into the senshi's new playmates."

"That's a little excessive ..." Calcite's calm was infectious and Azure decided to ditch the hyperbole. "... but I agree with you that twice in a week is two times too often."

Pyrite spoke before Azure could, "It's fortunate that the forces of darkness seem to be always lead by the powerful yet inept." They both looked at him. "Well that's how the Kingdom was and that's how you've described these new guys."

Calcite had to agree, "He's got a point there. Could be some sort of universal principle."

Azurite shook her head, "Are we really going to gamble our future on that? Look, the generals and Beryl were all rusty after 2000 years of doing little more than maintaining the Kingdom's hierarchy. If they'd always been that pathetic they'd never have brought down Silver Millennium even with Metallia's backing!" Examples of senshi victory by the narrowest margin came to mind. "Even with all their faults they nearly pulled it off. The senshi are sloppy and untrained, hell if it weren't for an incredible run of luck ... Well, never mind. Cal you said it yourself! If you'd been a real dark lord you had at least a dozen chances to take out Sailor V easily!"

"She was young ... I should say younger and extremely inexperienced. They've improved and have become an actual team. It wouldn't be as easy now."

"Not as easy but we could still do it. And we weren't the Kingdom's heaviest hitters." Azurite was getting worked up, "Hell, if we'd been running things Earthside the senshi would have been wiped out early on and the Kingdom would have won!" Pyrite was giving her an odd look. She thought about what she'd just said and felt like an overzealous idiot. It was just so difficult to think the fate of the world had hung (and perhaps still did) on amateurs like the senshi. The concept of such unskilled warriors on the front lines offended her on a personal level. "Umm ... if we'd have done that sort of thing which we obviously wouldn't since we didn't want the Kingdom to win. I know everything worked out for the best ... or almost the best as we're stuck here but at least Beryl's gone along with the rest of the Kingdom. With one annoying exception." No one needed to ask who that was, unseen by Azurite Margrave grinned. "Anyway the point is ... " What the hell was her point? Damn! She'd sidetracked herself again.

Calcite to the rescue. "The point being that we can't count on either the senshi always being lucky or their adversaries always being incompetent. If either condition changes whoever they're fighting could triumph. And if these newcomers represent the vanguard of something like the Dark Kingdom we don't want to be around when that happens."

Pyrite nodded. "That makes sense. Whoever they are I can't tell you anything about them, that construct's remains sublimed very quickly. I'd guess they were responsible for that flying chandelier that grabbed the senshi a few months back." They nodded remembering the latest so called mass hallucination and the official denials of all pictures as fakes or misinterpretations. Someday the senshi or their foes would leave evidence which couldn't be ignored. What would the authorities do then? Meanwhile Pyrite continued.

"From past indications they're trying to contaminate Tokyo's background mana radiation. As you've noticed this has a negative influence on the human mind. Beyond that all I can say is that while why and how they're doing this remains unknown it'd be healthier to be somewhere else should they succeed in flooding the city with dark power."

Had Titanite been present she'd have enthusiastically suggested joining the senshi to fight this menace. At least until the spectre of genocide was raised. They hadn't liked the other youma or life in the Dark Kingdom but to know that everything was gone except them ... That's not the sort of thing you can forget. The elder renegades didn't even consider the possibility. Or rather they thought of it but dismissed it silently.

Both Calcite and Azurite were a little ill at ease as they wondered why they'd even thought of it? The code they'd lived by, that had enabled them to endure all those years in the Dark Kingdom, was simple. Survive and protect the group. Going out and playing hero was non-survival behaviour. You didn't look for trouble, you avoided it!

Had a hypothetical observer asked why they had fought at all instead of fleeing they'd have indignantly pointed out the difference between taking out an active threat verses running and maybe leaving a trail to follow. That was all there was to it. Pure survival, nothing more! They just wore those costumes so they could use their powers in public and get dismissed as urban myths like the senshi. Or concealed behind a wave of merchandising so what really happened was forgotten. They had no interest in being heroes. Not the slightest! Their vehement denials would have rather startled the hypothetical observer. Though suggesting that they protested too much might have cost him several virtual teeth.

There being no one present to ask these annoying questions the renegades buried the matter deep within their minds and listened to Pyrite. "As you both know we're still stuck with the mana requirement. Tokyo's still the only place with enough background energy to keep us going. And even if there was anywhere else we couldn't get to it. However our trip to MegaTokyo proved that there are other Tokyos without senshi but with a mana fountain under them. For a variety of reasons relocating to that world is out of the question." Swapping frying pan for fire is not a good idea. "Still theoretically there's no reason we can't use the nexus point to open a gateway to another world. Now the tools I used during our last trip won't be any use for this purpose. Then I was opening an existing gateway not creating a new one."

Calcite guessed what this was leading to, "But you've improved the technology so that's not a problem?"

"How'd you guess?"

"Because you'd never leave a problem like that alone. You'd have to build something that could open new gates. It's your nature, you're a tinkerer."

Pyrite nodded and Azurite added, "I can confirm you're good with your hands." Pyrite flushed being somewhat shy and muttered that his creation was called a warpkey. Before the planning could go any further a new voice intruded.

"I hate to interrupt clumsy seductive dialogue but you're forgetting something vital." Margrave hadn't removed the earphones but either had turned off the sound or her prenatural hearing let her listen over the noise. Why she'd decided she liked parody rock music Calcite still didn't know. Just one of her many quirks. One of the less annoying ones really.

"Which is?"

"Which is Pyrite's own dimensional assimilation theory." Margrave pulled off the headphones making it obvious she'd heard them despite the music. "In case you've forgotten I spent months in MegaTokyo and started acting pretty damn weird. I made friends with a human, that qualifies as really abnormal."

"And carved up quite a few people when she got killed." Margrave glared at Azurite.

"All of them had it coming. And you wiped out members of our own kind for a lot less back home."

Calcite cut them off before it could escalate. "Stick to the facts."

"Well lover, the facts are I was acting very unyoumalike ... at least in some ways. Maybe I bonded to Janet because I was messed up after seeing the end of the world and figuring out Jadeite was nuts. There was no one else left so I ... deluded myself I liked her." Deluded, hell! You liked her! Margrave silently told her underdeveloped conscience to shut up and it immediately obliged. That was better, she couldn't risk saying something like that. As the last true youma she had standards to uphold. "Or maybe I was changing to fit in, filling the "avenging angel" archetype that seemed common on that world among the ... abnormal."

Azurite had to wince at the picture of Margrave as any kind of angel. "We didn't change ... at least as far as we could tell."

Apologetically Pyrite contributed, "But we were there about three days. Margrave was there for months. We don't know how quickly the effect strike, assuming it even exists. We also don't know if it's a constant world to world. It might depend on how similar or different the ... essence (for lack of a better term) of the world is to this one."

"And the only way to find out is to cross to another world and hang around?"

"That's more or less right."

Margrave snorted, "Just great. Well I'll tell you this. If this effect exists we might as well stick around this world. What's the point in escaping if you lose yourself in the process?" With that she slapped the headphones back on and seemed to tune them out. Calcite and Azurite mulled this over until Pyrite cleared his throat.

"Before we do any actual crossings I'd like to run a few more tests on the equipment then try some small gates for probes only." They nodded. "After all we don't actually know that we're in a frantic rush yet. There's no need to hurry unnecessarily." It's a mistake to feed the universe straight lines like that.

In her ship Esmeraude checked her neck yet again. Thankfully the scratch didn't seem to have done any permanent damage to her perfect skin. She considered seeking vengeance on the newcomer but found herself sidetracked to considering Sailor Arcturus, which lead her to considering the senshi. There was no shortage of people to revenge herself against. And no shortage of animals as she remembered an oath to wipe out every dog in Tokyo. Alas such pleasantries would have to wait. Prince Demand was getting impatient with her. She'd better get a new hinge into place ASAP! But before she could do that the arrival monitor chimed. Only someone important could arrive unannounced. Could it be ...?

The portal door irised open and Esmeraude curtsied, "Welcome Prince Demand. I am honoured that you ..." The visitor's identity registered, "Oh, it's you again."

"Nice to see you too." Safir sounded about as happy about this as she did.

"Sorry I'm not in the bath this time."

"Not to worry, what I did see didn't really impress me."

Esmeraude bristled and hissed, "What is it this time?" through clenched teeth.

"It's about your recent report about a mystery senshi ..." Safir fanned the printout and sighed, "Why didn't you just check your computer before sending this up the line?"

"She's in there? I glanced at the twentieth century data but I didn't see anything." Safir shook his head again.

"Why didn't you check the intelligence data files?"


Safir looked resigned rather than surprised. "I don't know why I bothered collating all this data on the twentieth century senshi. You haven't used it, Rubeus didn't bother, I though Cooan might have had some sense but ..." He looked resigned, "But nobody bothers do they? You just charge in counting on your power to take care of any obstacles. And when it doesn't work you still don't check the background you just head off on the next half baked idea. Why?"

Esmeraude sniffed. "Hmph! Intelligence data indeed! Thousands of pages of trivia that doesn't have any relevance to getting the job done. Why should I waste my time shifting through reams of useless facts that some bureaucrat thinks important? I want nothing to do with intelligence!"

Safir nodded, "That's always been my appraisal." She didn't pick up the barb and Safir wondered again why his brother had put this halfwit in charge of such a vital operation. Silently he thought, "Demand, if you return her affection I'm going to lose all respect for you." Then his thoughts turned back to the issue at hand. At his touch the screen lit up and accessed the files. An image of two women in fukus and two silhouettes marked with question marks appeared.

"In addition to the inner senshi you've encountered there are at least three other groups of senshi we know of active in this time ..."


Safir ignored the outburst. "The first is the so called Outer Senshi. This is Uranus and Neptune, we've confirmed their existence." He nodded at the blanks, "Historical records from the fall imply the existence of a Pluto and a Saturn but we haven't confirmed their presence. Uranus and Neptune were active during this period though somewhat sporadically. Your lack of contact indicates they either haven't made their debut yet or this is one of their inactive periods. Supposedly they're more dangerous and powerful than the inners so watch out for them. In our own era they disappeared a few centuries ago. Now this next group never had a name, was more sporadic than the outers and often worked individually ..."


Safir nodded, "From your description I've identified her as Sailor Arcturus. Popular in both this century and the next, frequently operated outside Japan. Then vanished abruptly. Reappeared ... or the identity was revived, following the invasion. The man beside her is known as Gray. Little hard data, has appeared various places around the earth for varying periods of time over the past millennium doing the usual hero bit. Seems to have been more active in combat than Tuxedo Mask." Esmeraude rubbed her neck and nodded. Safir's eyes flicked to the third and he said softly, "The girl is Sailor Polaris!"

Safir acquired a sweatdrop as Esmeraude showed no signs of recognition. Silently he raged, "Just how stupid are you? The biggest scandal for the clan in centuries and you've never heard of her? The senshi who corrupted one of our junior members and turned him against us? How can you not know who she is?" His opinion of Esmeraude's brain dropping several more points he brought up the last picture.

"The Sailor Starlights. Very little known about them. Actually nothing beyond the names. Around only briefly but given the confusion about the senshi's early careers exactly when this was hasn't been determined."

"Certainly a variation in dressing style. I'd say Arcturus is somewhere between then and the inners."

"I suppose. I hadn't noticed."

"Of course not", Esmeraude thought. "You're such a dull little man it's hard to imagine you're really Demand's brother. He knows how to rule! Knows that you have take risks and play the game out! You, Safir? You're scared to do anything, always worrying over nothing!"

It was true Safir was worrying but what concerned him were larger issues. He knew little about temporal physics but what he did know had him worried. Mucking around with history seemed incredibly risky. If they changed Terran history it was bound to affect the Nemesians who'd visited Earth. Oh there would still be a Safir back in his own era but wouldn't it be another version of himself? Someone who'd never been to Crystal Tokyo and never would because it was never founded.

The first attempt had made sense. Rubeus and the girls were to introduce hidden corruption into the crystal points. Then, once it was established they'd return to their own era and send the signal. The flaw in the crystal points would activate and the city's defences would collapse. The war would be over. After that failed Demand had come up with this plan to destroy the twentieth century Tokyo by contaminating it with the Dark Crystal's power.

But if they were going to risk time paradox why do it this way? Rubeus's ship had been more than capable of turning this city into a crater or they could have just planted a few hellburners. Why use such a delicate, easily disrupted method as the Dark Hinges?

Because his brother had decreed it. And the reason he'd decreed it was Wiseman had told him it was the best possible method. All of which meant this was somehow to Wiseman's benefit. But how? What would he gain by submerging this city in a pool of dark mana? What's your real game, Wiseman? Safir rubbed his eyes in frustration and once again thought of the old line about the foolishness of calling up something you couldn't control. Demand was sure he was Wiseman's master and dismissed all speculation to the contrary. Yet Safir wondered ...

Enough of this! He had plenty to do in their own era, Esmeraude was responsible for handling things in this time. And she might well be the best person for the job. Her incompetence should serve to keep history running the way it always had. Which was fine by Safir.

"I have duties to attend. Have you picked your next target?"

"Uhh ...yes. Of course!" In short, no. Good.

"Well I'll leave you to it then. Don't disappoint us." With that he stepped into the timegate and returned to the siege of Crystal Tokyo. Esmeraude frantically called up the Tokyo mana assessment map and planned her next strike point. Ah, that looked promising.

Several weeks later Esmeraude was worked on her latest fiasco ... that is her latest plan. She looked around the hall and muttered, "A more wretched hive of scum and villainy I have never seen." That assessment was a bit harsh, particularly from someone born on Nemesis. Still it was her first con so she'd never seen a dealers' room before. She was pleased to see the crowds around two particular tables. The undeniable attractiveness of the women behind them was at least as big a draw as their merchandise. One was selling anime cels that she'd acquired without the studio's knowledge. The other's table was covered with badges. As Esmeraude had little sense of subtlety many displayed the inverted black crescent moon logo or phrases like "Nemesis Rules". Fortunately for her there was no one present who'd recognised either. Esmeraude laughed, which turned a few heads as always, and wondered why she hadn't used two droids at once before. The more the merrier. Still glancing around at the crowd she wondered how she would know when the dark power was affecting these freaks.

Meanwhile Titania Hobbes had left one of the screening rooms and had decided to take a quick look in the dealer's room before rejoining her friends for the shojou panel. They were bigger manga than anime fans so they'd wound up splitting up when events for the two conflicted. No big deal.

The dealer's room seemed more chaotic than usual. It almost seemed like ... then Titanite caught a glimpse of the woman in the distinctive dress. She recognised her from Margrave's descriptions of Calcite and Azurite's recent adversary. An actual villainess and she was trying to ruin the con! Someone up there must like her. With that thought Titanite scuttled off to find somewhere to change.

Esmeraude was enjoying the chaos (while taking care not to be touched by it) when a spotlight dramatically lit up the stage against the far wall. For a moment nothing happened. Then a figure in senshi uniform emerged through the curtains thinking she needed a sidekick to handle the fine details of her entrances. Striking a pose she announced, "Fans should be free to pursue their obsessions without interference ... long as they aren't into anything really etchi anyway. Anyway how dare you disrupt one of the few places they can be a majority and think they're not alone! (mental note, more work on spur of the minute speeches) I stand foursquare for fandom and freedom. On behalf of the pole star and otaku everywhere Sailor Polaris will punish you!"

Despite the dark power flooding the area everyone was staring at her in confusion. Probably because the woman she was pointing at hadn't actually been seen to do anything yet. Esmeraude was also confused, something had been nagging at her mind since she saw this senshi's picture. It was getting a lot more insistent. Sailor Polaris, she had hear that name somewhere before Safir mentioned it. There was something familiar about ... Suddenly it came to her!

"AHA! You're the little hussy who seduced whatshisname!"

"WHAT?!" That was about the last thing she'd expected her unknown adversary to say. Esmeraude rolled on, forgetting that none of this would happen for a very long time. "You dishonoured our clan even if he wasn't much of a loss!" Who was that dimwit anyway? Topay? Tofu? Something like that? Doesn't matter, taking her out should please Demand. "Prepare to suffer! Mylar! Emblem! Attack!" Good, this one used the old rules and let her strike first.

The woman selling cels knocked the table over as she stood. A flicker of light and she'd become transparent with no features remaining except her eyes. The second vaulted her table changing in midair. She looked much the same apart from her blue skin and the sleeveless jacket covered in buttons with hostile slogans. "Bleed for me", "Kill them all", "It's a good day for someone else to die" and so on. The crowd instinctively drew away from them but not so far that they couldn't see the fight.

Having learned a few things, thanks to Calcite and Azurite's training, Titanite didn't just stand there and wait to get blasted. She'd already leapt from the stage when razor edged buttons spraying from Emblem's jacket shredded the curtains. The second one turned and hurled a lump of liquid like plastic. It missed Ti but struck a table and spread. Sealing the manga beneath under a thick transparent shell. Esmeraude laughed, "Have to seal those comics up or they get wrinkled, right."

"Actually that's more of a western thing. Manga you just pile up until you get told to get rid of as it's taking up too much space."

Esmeraude didn't like being corrected. "How dare you accuse me of inadequate research! Kill her!"

"Er ... we're already try to ... OOOF!" Mylar was slammed backwards by one of Titanite's Polaris missiles wiping out a collection of rare GUNDAM models. She shook herself and got up, ignoring the anguished dealer, with a smile. No serious damage. Excellent.

Titanite dodged Emblem's attack, feeling a couple of badges ping off her force shield. Ti glanced around at the badges embedded in the floor and walls and realized she had a problem. This place was full of civilians and these things were throwing some nasty stuff around. Better shift the scene.

"You want to fight? Fine, follow me!" She dashed for one of the large windows and was about to fling it open when she realized no one was following her. Mylar was looking at the crowd and juggling a couple of her plastic balls. Esmeraude looked at her and said, "We'll stick around here and have some fun with these fools. Mylar ..." Titanite cursed and dove towards the droid as Emblem's badges shattered the window. As Esmeraude had rather expected she threw herself between the droid and the crowd. There was the sound of wet impacts as Emblem turned to see a plastic coated senshi statue. "Aw! I wanted to chop her up!"

Esmeraude gave one of her laughs then told the pouting droid, "Well, why don't you? After all her air hasn't run out yet so you can still kill her before she suffocates." Now Mylar began to sulk. Emblem giggled and stalked over, stopping before the immobilized Polaris. "Now which badge should I ..." There was a sudden cracking noise and Emblem was blinded by a spray of plastic. She cleared her eyes to see her prey had vanished then something hit her very hard.

Titanite hadn't vanished. After breaking free through a combination of expanding her force shield and superhuman strength she'd landed in a crouch in front of Emblem. She rose up fast catching the droid under the chin with a combination punch and Polaris Missile. Had Emblem's feet been rooted to the floor her head would have come off. Instead she soared upwards and her skull crunched into the ceiling On impact all her remaining badges launched, tearing deep gouges in the concrete above. For a few moments the droid hung there. Then it crashed down and wiped out a table loaded with original Osamu Tezuka artwork. Emblem lay in the wreckage making gurgling noises until the dealer and several customers tore into it in a dark power enhanced frenzy. The droid didn't last long under the enraged otaku onslaught.

Esmeraude, Mylar and Polaris were rather startled by this. Ti hadn't expected to take out the droid that way. She'd been planing to get Mylar and Emblem to shoot at her and blast each other in the best combat cliche traditions. However she changed her plans and threw a TK sphere at Mylar.

"Polaris Missile!"

The droid ducked and the sphere soared through empty space. Mylar stood up already holding another glob of plastic. "Missed!" Behind her the sphere reversed course.


The droid toppled over dropping the glob and landing in it's own goop. Now glued to the floor all Mylar could do was glare at Sailor Polaris.

"Sorry, I meant to say 'Polaris Homing Missile'" Okay, two down. That just left ... Suddenly Titanite found she had a new problem. She seemed to be surrounded by otaku all with an obsessive look in their eyes.

Unfortunately during the fight the Dark Hinge had continued pouring out dark power. It cracked when Emblem was destroyed but kept working as the second droid remained intact. The effect was accelerating which was why Sailor Polaris now found herself in the center of a male crowd chanting in unison, "Autograph! Fan Service! Measurements! Panty Shot!"

"What the ...? Hey get off! {slap} Stop that! {whack} Let go {boot} Yeow! {biff} I'm warning you {whap} ..."

Esmeraude shook her head as the senshi fought off her over enamoured fans. Looked like she'd have to take care of matters herself. At least one droid was still functioning even if immobilized so the hinge continued flooding the area. There was a cracking noise as Mylar drew power from the hinge and struggled to free herself. Still that could take a while so it looked like she'd have to take care of the senshi herself. She sighed theatrically. She hated exerting herself, it was so ... common. Ah well, at least Demand would appreciate this. She languidly raised a hand. With Polaris trapped in the middle of that crowd, busy trying to subdue them without really hurting anyone, she was an easy target. There was a crash and a roar as Mylar tore to her feet, pieces of floor still glued to her. Esmeraude smiled. Excellent, she wouldn't have to get her hands dirty after all.

There was no question that Titanite was in a tight spot. Fortunately for her she wasn't the only Renegade at this convention. In addition to the manga and anime section there was also an American Media SF section on one of the higher floors. As this included Star Trek Pyrite was attending. He'd been discussing the virtues of Star Trek verses Star Wars with a fellow gaijin (who was more like him than either of them realized) when he sensed the hinge at work. He excused himself abruptly and headed down to investigate. The somewhat startled woman was still wondering why he'd rushed off when she heard a security guard's walkie talkie reporting senshi in the dealers room. Everyone else in earshot immediately headed off to go have a look. She turned pale then vanished on the spot. No one who witnessed this thought anything odd had happened and dismissed it as irrelevant. Forgotten and unseen she hurried home before the senshi could find her and destroy the last surviving youma.

En route to the dealers room Pyrite had felt the dark power growing followed by his cousin's powers flaring and known things had escalated. He'd called in the cavalry immediately and was giving them a running commentary as they moved from their nearest teleport site to the convention hall.

Meanwhile Mylar levitated so the crowd was no longer blocking her shot at Sailor Polaris. This time the plastic in her hand looked molten. If the sealing didn't do the job the heat shock should finish her. She raised her arm ... and saw a force sphere enclosing it and her weapon. Despite this being a climate controlled building she heard a gale howling towards her.

The impossible wind slammed the droid away from the spectators and into the empty stage with bonebreaking force. Before it had a chance to recover from that there was a blur of motion and a knifehilt protruded from it's forehead. The blade glowed and the droid jittered as energy pulsed through it's body. A flare of light and that was left was dust.

The Dark Hinge shattered but that was the least of Esmeraude's worries. Forgetting Sailor Polaris she spun to see the two figures who'd just forced their way through the crowd at the door. Neither looked happy to see her. They were about to charge her from opposite sides (a clear shot being difficult through the milling crowd without risking hitting bystanders) when a Polaris Missile caught her in the back of the head. Turning your back on an enemy is never a good idea though perhaps a real senshi wouldn't have struck from behind. Still after being manhandled by a crowd like that no one would be in the best of moods. Actually compared to what Mars would have done Esmeraude got off lightly.

The end result was Esmeraude was knocked clear of the crowd and came to rest at the foot of the stage. Though she was dazed she managed to remember that the psycho "take no prisoners" senshi and her homicidal partner were there looking to finish what they'd started. She timeslipped instants before a combination of concentrated hurricane and charged blades shredded the floor she'd occupied. Arcturus and Grey landed next to the spot but once again neither could sense any trace. They looked up from the shattering flooring and nodded at each other. Enough was enough! It was time to see about a new neighbourhood.

The solemn moment was broken by applause and they turned to see the now unpossessed crowd watching them. Polaris was still surrounded but the crowd had gone from demanding to worshipful. Not having made as many public appearances as she'd have liked Titanite was both flustered and flattered by the attention. Arcturus looked at Gray who shrugged minutely. Let her enjoy a few minutes of fame. This might well be her last appearance in this dimension. The crowd watching them seemed standoffish. As though waiting for some member to approach them and break the ice.

At which point one of the dealers shouted, "I have Sailor Arcturus pictures!" and was immediately stampeded. Moments later Azurite found herself ringed by a mostly male crowd clutching promotional pictures of the still unreleased Arcturus live action movie. The actress in the Arcturus costume didn't look much like her but no one seemed to care. Calcite found himself besieged by a crowd of schoolgirls with autograph books. They looked at each other again then Azurite smiled faintly and started writing a few suggestive comments on the pictures which raised both the hopes and blood pressure of some of her more unrealistic fans. Calcite just sighed "Gray" and gave monosyllabic answers to questions. Might as well play the part this one last time.

Titanite was enjoying herself as she signed autographs and talked to the people. Though she flushed and avoided answering some of the more etchi questions. She noticed that Azurite handled the same questions either by innuendo that embarrassed the asker or the veiled threat of violence. A small ring of slumped groaning figures marked the few who hadn't taken the hint or thought the costume invited roving hands. She noticed Pyrite pass Calcite but she couldn't make out what he'd said. However Gray, somewhat curtly excused himself and moved gently but firmly through the crowd. Arcturus said simply, "Later!" and pushed through to join them. Ti wasn't too surprised to hear her brother tell her, "Sailor Polaris, time to go." She didn't bother to protest just apologised to those who hadn't got meet her and slid though the crowd to join her group. As soon as the threesome was together they were surrounded by a cloud of grey smoke. It cleared almost immediately and triggered neither the smoke detectors nor left any trace of it's presence. The crowd was still studying the vacant space and discussing the merits of the cute Polaris verses the sexy Arcturus while another faction giggled over Gray when the real senshi finally arrived.

Sailor Moon had begun a speech (ignoring Mercury, who was trying to get her attention) when she realized there was no sign of anything wrong. Also a lot of people seemed to be ignoring them.

"Uh, what's going on here?"

"Sailor Polaris just took out some sort of monster. Sailor Arcturus and whatshisname ..."

"GRAY!", several girls shouted in unison

"... and Gray showed up to finish the job. They were incredible." Mars scowled and accused Sailor Moon of slowing them up so they'd got here too late. Mercury tried to play peacemaker by suggesting it didn't matter who'd destroyed the droids as long as the bystanders were safe. From Venus's snort she didn't agree with that and muttered something uncomplimentary about Gray. That earned her hostile looks from the just formed Gray fanclub. Jupiter was the first one to really realize that no one was paying much attention to them. In fact she could hear a pair of fans right in front of them who stood with their eyes fixed on a empty space in the middle of the crowd.

Man, that Polaris was cute."

"I thought Sailor Mercury was your favourite?"

"I just changed my mind." He noticed the senshi behind them and tapped his friend on the shoulder. "Hey aren't those the old senshi?" The word "old" echoed through the mind of all the senshi. The other fan turned to study them briefly then said, "That's them but they're not old ..." The senshi silently thanked him. Until he added, "... just overexposed and over merchandised. They've got boring. Old hat. Last year's flavour." The senshi weren't exactly used to being talked about as they weren't even in the room.

"I thought you said you were a big Mars fan cause she's so sexy?" Rei preened.

"Yeah, but that was before I saw Sailor Arcturus in person. Now I see you've gotta have a full figured woman to really fill out a fuku. Not some underdeveloped kid." Rei twitched and her eyes narrowed.

"I don't know about that. I preferred Polaris. She was more ... real. Modest, demure ... like a girl should be."

"Yeah, right. You've just got a thing for schoolgirls, admit it. You're a real hentai."

"Hey you're the one falling for the s&m senshi."

"Heh, guess we're both weird. But I still say Arcturus beats Mars by a long ways. She's built a lot better and not so out of fashion."

"Well I guess the senshi are trying to update themselves. I hear they've got new attacks."

"Old hat. Sticking a few new accessories on so no one notices it's the same old thing." Mars didn't like that and had the others not dragged her away the loudmouthed otaku might have got to personally experience her latest attacks. Secure behind his glamour and masked aura Pyrite watched the squabbling senshi depart with a certain amusement. He sensed a teleport signature and winced slightly but the senshi gave no indication of detecting it. Still he wished Ti had been a little more discrete about returning. He wandered back to the stairs his thoughts drifting to what he'd been able to sense. The purpose of these unknown adversaries was to flood apparently unconnected sights with some form of magical energy. Energy which had a negative effect on the human psyche but had shown no signs of affecting them. So either it was targeted specifically to humans and couldn't affect youma, or else ... One of the incidents he'd read about had concerned animals running berserk at a sanctuary which would seem to indicate a more general effect. Still perhaps the affect was limited to terrestrial life forms ... or maybe, just maybe ... An old speculation about Renegades came to mind and he wondered idly how Margrave would have reacted to the dark power. Though did it really matter anymore? The Dark Kingdom was gone, why they'd been different from the normal youma had become irrelevant. Except that it might explain Margrave's change from malicious to mischievous. Though that was just as easy to explain in terms of Margrave knowing any serious trouble would bring Azurite down on her like a ton of bricks. None of which had anything to do with Star Trek and he was missing the DS9 vs Next Generation panel. His thoughts returned to Trek and the speculation was forgotten.

Titania Hobbes emerged from the washroom and was just starting down the corridor when she heard a familiar voice call, "Ti-chan!"

"Kaori-chan, Meiko-chan. I was just coming to look for you."

"Where have you been? The CLAMP panel's about to start?"

"Sorry Kaori. Guess you didn't hear yet. The senshi were spotted in the dealers room so I went to have a look."

"Really? You saw them."

"Afraid not, the crowd was too thick."

Meiko smiled. "Which means most everybody's down there so if we move we should be able to get front row seats."

"Good thinking. Let's move." This was shaping up to be a very good day indeed.

Back in her ship Esmeraude groaned and picked herself up. On due consideration she'd decided that avenging the clan's honour was secondary to her prime mission of flooding Tokyo with dark power. So she'd have to forgo killing Sailor Polaris for now. Besides which if she hung around with those two ultra violent types she was best avoided.

Having settled that she was left with the problem of what would she do now? Another failure was not going to impress Demand and she'd run out droids. Maybe she could link three droids to the next hinge ... if she could scrounge up three droids somewhere. She sighed and shook her head. Better try something else. She'd been sure two droids at once would ...

Wait a minute! Suppose instead of using two droids she set up two Dark Hinges? Even if the senshi found and destroyed one the other would do the job because they'd think they'd won and go home. Instead of droids she'd make a clandestine trip up the line and recruit a couple of glory hungry clansmen to help her. Yes! This had definite possibilities. She'd have to finetune the details but this should work. Funny how a disaster could inspire you. She'd thank those troublemakers if she hadn't been about to wipe them out along with their city. This time there was no one else in earshot to complain about her laugh and it went on for a long time. Oblivious to having engineered Esmeraude's next clash with the senshi the Renegades were hard at work on their own project.

The Puma sisters finished their striptease and started machine gunning the SWAT team. Margrave chuckled, "I never get tired of this." Titanite made a noncommittal sound and Margrave looked away from the TV and Dominion. "What's up?"

"That's what I'm wondering. Where are they and what are they up to tonight? I'm sure something big's going on but Cal wouldn't tell me anything."

Margrave shrugged. "They wouldn't tell me either."

"But you know?"

"I've ... got an idea but I don't want to say without knowing for sure." Ti looked about to sulk so she added, "However if Pyrite arrives back here alone, which I rather suspect he will, then I can get a definite answer out of him."

Ti started, "You're not planning to ...?"

Margrave chuckled, "No, nothing like that. It'd be fun but if Azurite found out ..." She shuddered briefly, there were lines you didn't step over. Unless you wanted to risk becoming a rug. "No, I'll just loosen him up with a bit of trekkie babble then get him talking about his work. He likes an appreciative audience and once he gets rolling he'll be impossible to stop."

"Neat. Sounds good to me."

"If Pyrite confirms what I suspect then it'll sound really lousy to you Ti", she thought. "But if we can find a world without senshi and not lose our identities in the process then we'd be fools to stay here." Out loud she said, "You just have to learn to push the right buttons. Stick with me and I'll turn you into a lethal weapon in the war between the sexes." As she'd rather expected Titanite blushed. The kid had a long way to go yet.

Pyrite finished his final adjustments on the warpkey and handed it to Calcite. "Well everything checks, the probes say there's no environmental hazards and you're ready to go." He paused then added, "But I still think I should come with you. If something goes wrong with the key ..."

"If we're not back in six hours then you can come looking for us. But I'm sure you've built these things to endure any hardship." Calcite was sincere but Pyrite knew he was also saying, "If we arrive in a tight spot we don't need to worry about protecting you on top of facing an unknown threat." An assessment he could hardly argue with.

Azurite leaned over and whispered, "Don't worry, I'll be back. I'm not going to leave you sitting back here to wind another notch on Margrave's bed. With that thought the Abyss itself won't stop me returning." Calcite looked away, giving them as much privacy as he could and tried, in vain, to spot any hint of the interdimensional gateway. Fiction would lead you to expect a glowing portal. A hole in reality itself, impossible to ignore. But instead? Not a hint that it was different from any other patch of ground.

Behind him the embrace broke and he turned to exchange goodbyes with his cousin. Then followed by Azurite he stepped forward and vanished. Pyrite stood there for a few minutes then changed the gate to arrival only so no one would stumble through it then teleported home.

Several hours later Calcite and Azurite were strolling through another Tokyo. It was about noon and a month later on this world but temporal anomalies seemed to go hand in hand with dimensional travel. On their first trip they been displaced almost forty years.

Initial indications were promising. Sailor Moon didn't even seem to exist as a manga on this world so no senshi to worry about. Neither felt any different though a subjective judgement wasn't to be trusted. The recorders they were wearing would be analysed upon return for evidence of behavioural change. If none was found they'd begin spending longer and longer stretches in this world. When they were sure the (still purely theoretical) dimension assimilation effect wasn't a problem they'd relocate here permanently. Ti wouldn't like leaving her friends and giving up her senshi identity but it was in her best interests. Both youma were feeling pretty upbeat. At least until they rounded the corner and saw the couple running towards them as they fled from a monster.

Both automatically summoned their powers when they saw a flash of light and a girl in a white full length wedding dress step in front of the creature. She shouted, "Wedding Change! Angel Armour Peach" and the dress was replaced with a much briefer outfit. The redhead made a brief speech about protecting young lovers then launched herself at the creature. Calcite turned to his partner and tried to sound unsurprised.

"This looks very familiar."

Azurite nodded as the battle was concluded with a cry of, "Saint Mirror Bridal Flash!"

"Paranormal girl in miniskirt with silly but effective attack cry and no concerns about her clothing dissolving in public. Yes, I'd have to agree with you there." She was trying to outcool him. Well two could play that game.

"Could be why we've felt no changes. This place is exactly like home."

"Certainly a possibility. Anyway there doesn't seem to be any advantage in moving to this world."

"Better the devil you know. So let's head back to the nexus and check out the next world." Ignoring the aftermath of the battle and the growing crowd of onlookers they wandered away.

It was summer on the next world and while the senshi were known they were purely fictional. While everything looked promising Calcite was feeling a little less optomistic. So was Azure as she looked at the paper she'd just picked up. "According to this there was some of major disaster in Toshima a few months back. Casualties in the thousands and still no one knows what happened. About half the stories in here concern rebuilding, economic damage, psychological damage in the aftermath of the tragedy ... frankly this world's looking less inviting.

"I'd have to agree ... " The ground shook and a cry of earthquake went up from the crowds as the sunlight vanished behind thousands of shadows. Calcite looked up to see the sky filled with menacing shapes, the rumble of their drives making the ground shake in sympathy. "An alien invasion?!"

"We've really go to work on our timing!"

Calcite was about to suggest a retreat to the nexus when he sensed something nearby. He turned to see a small squat robot standing before a girl in an abbreviated blue and white school uniform. A beam of sunlight caught the greenish hint in the girl's hair as she nodded then cried, "Charging Up!" Her clothing disappeared and the robot broke apart, its components wrapping around the girl. Azurite barely had time to say, "An armoured bikini?" before it extruded a red and white fluid that coated her bare skin. Now wearing what appeared to be a combination of red and orange armour with white piping and red spandex the girl launched herself into the air and soared upwards without a speech. She opened fire and spun about, dozens of alien craft exploding before her beams. There must have been others like her because the vast armada suddenly had huge patches appearing within it filling the sky with fire.

Calcite and Azurite looked at each other. She was the first to speak. "I don't know about you but I'm feeling very outclassed."

"Agreed. Let's find somewhere quieter."

Azurite nodded but looked back at the carnage overhead. "Sort of like the Senshi crossed with the Knight Sabers."

Calcite thought about. "There does seem to be a pattern developing. In fact on every earth it's as if ..." He shook off the speculation. "Maybe things will be different on the next world."

But they weren't.

Four worlds later both Calcite and Azurite were displaying an edginess that would have surprised anyone who knew about their steadiness under fire.

Calcite mumbled, "So far, so good."

"Uh huh, yeah." Neither sounded like they believed what they were saying. After a pause Azurite asked, "What was that last one yelling? Something about generations of devil hunters?"

"I think she was telling them her real name. Must be confident if she could do that." Calcite fell silent then asked, "Do you think we've discovered some sort of multiversal principle? The defenders of all worlds will be female, range in age from teenage to mid twenties and generally be underdressed?"

"It's looking that way." Azurite shuddered as a thought struck her and she grabbed Calcite's arm. "CAL!"

"OW! What?"

"The Knight Sabers ... they did put on their armour, right? They didn't just yell, 'Knight Sabers, Go!' and they were wearing the stuff?"

"No, they put it on the old fashioned way ... well actually they put it on with high tech assistance but it didn't just appear out of nowhere."

"Good. I'm glad to know there's at least one semi-sane world out there ... even if it's far too screwed up to live in."

Calcite looked at her. "Let's not lose hope yet, we may still ... did you hear that?" Azurite was about to ask what he meant when she heard the sounds of battle. Ahead they could see a large patch of black mist. They looked at each other but, feeling a sense of resignation moved forward to investigate. As they rounded the corner they heard a cry of, "Angel Shine Scroll" and saw a young girl in a pink and white dress resembling a nurse's uniform confronting a creature composed out of black smoke. For a change her allies weren't female. Instead she had a somewhat effeminate young man with white hair and a glowing sword along with a boy her own age generating some sort of forcesphere. There was a shout of "Angel Aid Bomb Beam" and the creature began disrupting during which the two youma departed as unobtrusively as possible.

Calcite fiddled with the warpkey as Azurite sighed before telling him, "Gonna have to amend that principle to, 'range in age from preteen to mid twenties'."

Calcite tried to smile, "Looks like it. At least that outfit was more modest than some." He shuddered, "They're getting younger and cuter but no less dangerous."

Azurite nodded then with complete sincerity announced, "I don't know how much more of this I can take!"

Calcite knew how she felt, "This key will let us visit one more world. Pyrite says the upgraded version will be more versatile but ..."

"Cal, if they're all like this then what's the point?"

"I can't argue with that. Still last try?"

Azurite hesitated but nodded and followed him into the gateway.

Things looked normal enough but that didn't reassure either of them. Things always looked normal just before the weirdness struck. A nearby school must have just dismissed it's students because a steady stream of them passed the two. Before long the flow had dried to a trickle and there were just a few stragglers. Calcite was considering their first move when he felt Azurite tense. Quietly he asked, "What is it." Wordlessly she indicated a student with hair that tinted a pale blue.

He couldn't see or sense anything particularly abnormal and was about to ask her what was wrong when she added, "Doesn't that hairstyle look familiar?"

He looked again just before she rounded a corner. Twin ponytails that almost dragged on the ground ... oh no! "You think ...?" Before she could answer there was a burst of not particularly evil laughter answered by a cry of "Pretty Sami Change!" and a burst of light. Calcite felt very tired.

"You want to go have a look?"

"Not in the slightest but I guess we should." They took a quick peak at the two girls embroiled in a fight then headed back to the nexus point almost immediately.

Calcite punched in their home coordinates. "It looks like the multiverse is governed by laws stranger than we can imagine. Or we're just real unlucky when it comes to picking worlds."

"Let's just go home. I'm very tired."

Sometime later Calcite and Azurite were back home slumped at a table loaded with empty liquor bottles. Calcite was glad he'd restocked the bar after Margrave's binge on the anniversary of the Kingdom's fall. It took a lot of effort to get drunk with a healing factor but with speed and determination it was possible. Pyrite stood by and watched but decided now would not be a good time to talk about the improved model he was working on. Perhaps there was some sort of factor that meant they could only access earths with a certain similarity. He'd have to study the recordings and see what he could deduce. He'd have plenty of time, at a guess it would be months before either would be willing to risk dimensional travelling again. Still if Calcite's theory was right they might as well stay here. At least they knew who and what the senshi were and more or less what the rules were. Dangerous as it was that did give them a certain security.

Titanite was telling Margrave, "I've identified three of the worlds they've mentioned but I don't have a clue about the others. But I'm bigger on anime than manga so it could be the other haven't been animated yet. I'll have to have a look at Kaori's collection, see if she identify them from what they've said. Maybe if I had a few more details ..." Margrave grabbed her arm.

"You can ask them later. Now is not the time to bother them." Margrave chuckled, "Must have been quite a shock to them. Wonder if it's written anywhere, 'And it came to pass that the miniskirted shall inherit the earth!' Looks like we're sticking around."

"Fine by me, I like it here!" Ti thought a moment then added, "But it'd be really neat to see a few other anime worlds."

"Neat but dangerous. So don't do anything foolish."

"Would I do that?"

After Ti turned in for the night Margrave sidled up to Pyrite and murmured, "Make sure you keep that thing under lock and key. No sense giving Ti any unnecessary temptations."

He nodded and resumed watching the pair drowning their sorrows. "So which of our stressed out partners is going to collapse first?"

"Hard to say. Cal's got more mass but he's drinking faster. I'd say we're in for a quiet night followed by an unpleasant morning. Pity I was in the mood for ..." She looked at Pyrite.

"Forget it."

"I'm never going to understand this pair bonding nonsense."

"I know. Pity Calcite doesn't."

Margrave tried to work that out in vain. Calcite got great sex and no commitments. What male wouldn't be content with that?

As Pyrite had predicted after they sobered up neither wanted to even hear about his advancements in interdimensional transit. Some months later they tried again but, following encounters with the worlds of Blue Seed and Wicked City decided dimensional travel was too dangerous and a dead end technology. Pyrite put the warpkeys away and resumed trying to find a way for the Renegades to survive outside Tokyo in this world. Pyrite was a little unhappy not to have solved the question of dimensional assimilation but accepted Calcite's assessments of the risks involved. So the matter remained unresolved. At least until Titanite borrowed a warpkey for her own interdimensional excursion. But that's another story.

Which is more or less the end. You can stop reading now but for anyone who really wants it here's a epilogue.

Crystal Tokyo - 2981 AD

Sailor Polaris, Crystal Tokyo's director of Media Relations, stopped before the corridor leading to the suites reserved for foreign dignitaries. The Nemesian nobility were clustered in the foyer as they waited for their baggage to be installed. She quietly told her assistant, "Okay this is as close as we want any video shots to get. We don't want to be obtrusive. And absolutely no on the spot interviews! All contact with the Nemesians needs to be approved by both me and Rei."

Megumi looked puzzled, "Why all the fuss? Serenity never minds ...?"

"Not all monarchs are as approachable as Serenity. These people are here to negotiate zones of influence in space so we don't have any more um ... misunderstandings. Last thing we need is for them to think their dignity's been compromised. It's important these negotiations go smoothly!" Titanite was a firm believer in Crystal Tokyo's position as a global moderator. She was sure they'd be able to come up with something both the spacefaring nations and megacorps along with the Nemesians would find acceptable. She reminded herself to ask Rei if there were any threats to the Nemesians she didn't know about. Rei had been on edge since the Nemesians announced themselves and Serenity extended an invitation to them to visit earth. Well Rei wouldn't be Rei if she wasn't worrying about something. Though this was more serious than anything she'd handled in centuries. Must be a security nightmare, she was having a hard enough time coordinating media coverage. She'd better see about coordinating with Rei to keep the tabloid vids away from Demand's party. Last thing they needed was some idiot asking them what they'd done with Elvis triggering an interplanetary incident. Ti remembered her brother commenting he couldn't understand why Serenity gave the tabloid video journalists such a free rein, unless every Eden needed a few serpents. Of course Cal was biased having been their target on many occasions. Ti noticed Megumi staring down the corridor at Serenity's guests with more than professional interest. She looked fascinated.

"Something wrong?"

"Oh, sorry. It's just ... well those people were born on another world! Don't you find that amazing?"

Titanite shrugged, "So was I."

"Well yeah but ... I mean you've always been here. You were living in Crystal Tokyo before my great grandmother was born." She heard her boss chuckle. "What's so amusing."

"Just thinking. When we first came to Tokyo we were so worried how people would react if they knew what we were. Now? It's public knowledge, everybody in CT knows and nobody cares. At best it's a minor piece of trivia. Enough time makes anything mundane."

"I'll take your word for it." One of the Nemesians, a striking woman with green hair gave an odd laugh which echoed down the corridor. For a moment Ti felt a murky memory rising ... then dismissed it immediately. The only problem with a life as long as hers was the odd attack of FAS. And despite her apparent youth she was close to 1000 years old. Well actually she was the youngest of Crystal Tokyo's immortals thanks to the time anomaly the DKR had run into. Thanks to that Calcite and Minako wound up almost the same age but she would always be eight years younger than the other senshi. Though after the first century who really cared?

Her thoughts turned back to False Association Syndrome. The condition was unique to immortals and, quite simply, resulted from living so long. You'd hear a new song that sounded familiar then realize you were thinking of something you'd heard centuries before. Or see a familiar face and find out you knew their great grandmother. Or, in this case, hear an odd laugh that sounded familiar. Except none of the Nemesians had set foot on Earth before so obviously the laughter reminded her of someone else. For a moment she wondered who she was thinking of then put it out of her mind. She had enough to worry about as it was.

If coordinating tasteful media coverage of the Nemesians wasn't enough she had family problems to worry about. She'd heard last night that Cal and Mina had been spotted strolling through the palace gardens arm in arm. While that didn't sound particularly worrying she knew better. By her estimates it was way too soon for her brother and sister-in-law to be thinking about getting back together. Things were bound to blow up and when they did ... Hopefully they'd settle for just yelling at each other rather than getting violent. Probably Ruby's fault though she hadn't intended it. That biography business got them thinking about each other so they decided to get together. If only the timing was a little better.

Titanite sighed. Yes, she had more than enough to worry about. Whoever she'd been comparing the Nemesian delegate to was inconsequential. The past was dead and gone, what mattered was the here and now. It couldn't possibly matter who she'd known who'd laughed like that. Well, apart from the fact that it was a really grating laugh.

"Make a note to edit if she ever laughs on camera."

"Okay, edit laugh and no abduction questions. Anything else?"

"Probably but that'll do for now. Let's get back to the office."

What happened next is another story. But for this one it is definitely

The End



I've been busy working on a long and somewhat dark DKR story which is why I haven't posted much lately. But I needed to take a break and write something lighter which is where this story came from. It was originally just going to consist of the dimension travelling segment (hence the title) but it needed a little more. Then after watching some of Esmeraude's SMR appearances I knew who it needed as a catalyst for Cal & Azure to go dimension hopping.

Credits: Esmeraude, Sailor Moon and related characters created by Naoka Takeuchi Wedding Peach created by Tomita Sukehiro Iczelion created by Toshihiro Hirano Nurse Angel Ririka SOS created by Ikeno Koi Devil Hunter Yohko created by Juzo Mutsuki Pretty Sami created by someone with a very twisted sense of humour The DKR are my creations while the Star Wars aficionado Pyrite was talking to was Berk' Watkins, Chrysolite. Both newcomers to SME who you'll be seeing more of later.

The DKR visited MegaTokyo in "Bad Moon Rising" and Titanite's own interdimensional odyssey is chronicled in "Titanite's Bogus Journey" To find out what happened next after Demand arrived in Crystal Tokyo check out "Crystal Renegades" by Andy Combs All three are available from the Sailor Moon Expanded Homepage

Back to work on "Thy Kingdom Come"

Mark Latus

April 17 1997