A group of children playing volleyball nearby possessed little control of the game. As fate would have it the rogue ball went careening in their direction, colliding with one of their faces luckily covered by a book.
Their victim remained motionless as the kids ran over to retrieve their ball and apologize.
One of the children pushed another in front as she stumbled forward, nervous, “Uh, I-I’m really sorry, we were just playing around and-”
The kid abruptly terminated her apology when the unknown man sat up and lifted the book off his face to reveal deep ebony hair, smolderingly handsome features, and a muscular, toned body. The kids weren’t expecting a smile though.
“That’s alright,” the man assured as he handed them the ball, “just be careful next time okay?”
The kids smiled, bowed, and ran off to play. The man sighed heavily and collapsed back down with a hard thud, right on the ankle of another.
A muffled “Dammit!” could be heard underneath the hat that covered her face. Her free hand smacked his head, “Mamoru! Do you want to break my leg?!”
Mamoru lazily rolled over mumbling an apology, “Sorry Mako.”
Silence once again.
The one lazing peacefully under the tree sat up out of the shade and stretched. Her cropped, deep blue hair sparkled in the sun as she stifled a yawn. “That’s our wake up call guys. Come on, wake up.”
She was greeted by unanimous moans of protest. Another, basking in the sun on top of her long, raven-violet hair berated without opening her eyes, “Come off it Ami. Kids today just don’t understand the horrors we call final exams! We’re all burnt out here.”
“Preach it Rei,” spoke the brunette, “too many words, and too many formulas. It’s a miracle we survived it all. I mean, you’d think we’d get a bit of a break after Galaxia’s defeat, but no, we had to hit the books immediately and try desperately to catch up the minute it was over.”
Mamoru sighed heavily, “You think it’s bad now? Just wait until you get to university. I don’t know how I juggle it all, and I don’t remember the last time I went to bed before five.”
Rei stretched while sporting a sarcastic grin, “Life is hard for teenage superheroes.”
With the book back over his face Mamoru blindly raised his arm into the air, “Uh, hello. In my twenties here.”
Rei narrowed her violet eyes, “Always rubbing it in.”
With that said she spotted her comfortable, motionless friend and could not resist the urge to disrupt her calm.
Rei rolled her eyes though tried again, “Minako!”
An exasperated sigh emerged from the pale blonde, “It’d better be good Rei.”
Rei couldn’t help but smirk, “Just thought you might like to know that Artemis has been ruining your sunbathing for the last two hours.”
Minako instantly sensed the cat’s weight on the small of her back. He must have snuck in while she was napping and failed to notice. “Artemis, dammit, I am trying to sunbathe!”
The cat stretched lazily then vacated his makeshift bed revealing a patch of creamy skin surrounded by skin of a much darker shade.
Minako glanced over her shoulder and saw the disparity in skin colour. Artemis had instinctually put a safe distance between him and his charge as her murderous gaze followed him.
“Artemis!” Minako bellowed, and immediately sprang to life chasing the cat around while threatening to omit fresh fish from his diet for a month.
From underneath his book Mamoru groped the ground blindly, “Mako, where are those delicious sandwiches?”
Makoto sat up and yawned, “Ask Usagi, she’s closest.”
Mamoru propped himself up onto his forearm as he tilted his head in Usagi’s direction and asked politely, “Usako, could you please pass me a sandwich?”
Everyone turned to the spot Usagi claimed and all they could see of her was a heap of blonde pigtails emitting snores. Rei shook her head, exasperated. She picked up a beach ball and pelted her with it.
As Rei grimaced in annoyance Ami tried her hand in shaking Usagi out of a coma, “Usagi, come on, wake up.”
Luna paraded over with an air of confidence as if to say, “I got this.” She burrowed through Usagi’s hair and put all of her weight on her neck, which usually worked in Usagi’s junior high days. However, Usagi only snorted then snored even louder.
An interesting idea struck Mamoru. He silently crawled over to the sleeping teen, excavated her face from underneath a pile of pigtails and gently kissed her on the lips.
Usagi woke in an instant.
“Mmmm, Mamo-chan.” She kissed him back spontaneously as everyone else face faulted.
Luna stood flabbergasted, “Mamoru, where were you when I needed you all those mornings?”
Mamoru just flashed Luna a wide smile in response and began sharing a sandwich with the love of his life . . . surrendered the sandwich was more like it.
Tuckered out from her sudden burst of energy, Minako plunked back down in her previous spot and tied her hair back up, “So guys. School’s out, summer’s here and it’s been peaceful for two whole months. Could we ask for more?”
Usagi reclined to lay her golden head on Mamoru’s broad chest sighing in contentment as he instinctively wrapped his arms around her.
“I know,” agreed Mamoru, squinting towards the horizon, “we finally get a chance to relax.”
Mamoru’s statement lingered in their minds as silence descended, forcing each one of them into the present moment. A cool breeze blew past, gently ruffling everyone’s hair. They inhaled the fresh air deeply while picking up faint birdsongs and bubbles of human laughter. It was as if there was nothing wrong with the world, and they accepted it blissfully. The Sailor Senshi appreciated peace, happiness, and free time on a much deeper level than the average person, for many obvious reasons. They were running out of fingers to count how many times they had stared the very real threat of Earth extinction dead in the face without even flinching.
Strangely, unaware of each other, they all fixated their thoughts on Usagi.
Here was the Princess of Earth’s Moon. Their Princess. Always taking the last stand. Always rising above the most insurmountable obstacles when all other attempts had been exhausted and everyone else had perished. Usagi, being most times the only thing that has saved the precious Earth from brutal annihilation time, and time again. The love they felt for her swelled suddenly. She was without a doubt the purest, strongest, and most powerful person they knew. However, that was not why they loved her so deeply. Each of them knew that the legend of Sailor Moon would propagate down through time because Usagi was the most loving, selfless, and exceptional human being who was also lovable at the same time.
Oblivious, Usagi glanced up into Mamoru’s face as he smiled back at her lovingly. She then looked around to her best friends, now more like sisters. She was beyond happy to see them so carefree. Usagi often felt horribly guilty due to the fact that they live and breathe to protect her, because for them, a free, independent life would always be illusory. Even if attained it could never be fully enjoyed, for that same free life must be given up whole heartedly and without hesitation if Usagi or the Earth should come to danger. As long as they lived the Senshi would forever be bound to their destiny of a warrior’s life; always putting someone else’s needs before their own. Through Usagi’s eyes this was a forfeit of happiness, which was barely endurable in her mind. Her Senshi did not feel this way but it burdened Usagi regardless, for she was the type to seek other people’s happiness before her own. Though seeing them now, the four of them playing cards while Luna and Artemis scrapped over a piece of fried shrimp caused Usagi to shine like the Sun. Everything was just so normal, so peaceful. Minako was right, she couldn’t ask for more.
Makoto picked up a card from the pile and scowled at it, “Hey, have any of you guys heard from the outers lately?”
Minako picked up a card as well, “No, I don’t think they’re back from South America as yet.” She tilted her head wistfully, “Man, it must be great to travel like that!”
“Minako,” chirped Ami, “Didn’t you live in England for a time?”
Minako narrowed her eyes at the delicate genius.
“And,” Ami continued, studying her cards, “I seem to recall you telling us that you traveled to Greece and China as Sailor V.”
Minako looked unimpressed as she folded her arms gruffly across her chest.
“It wasn’t like that Ami, I would hardly call that leisure travel!”
Still staring at her cards Ami betrayed a small smile, indicating that she was teasing her.
Rei stole a glance at Ami’s hand when the blunette caught her in the act and shooed Rei’s face away.
Rei laughed, “Yeah, but I think those four were just itching to get away with all the battles we’ve been fighting. One after another after another, we’ve hardly had a chance to do much else.”
Usagi and Mamoru joined the game, “The battle with Chaos and Galaxia was the toughest one we’ve had to date,” spoke Usagi softly. “It’s as if each enemy we face is so much more powerful than the last . . . I don’t even want to think of what could be more powerful than Chaos and Galaxia.”
Everyone became momentarily silent. No one liked to recall the day they all died, and it wasn’t the first time either. Ami noticed the dark look hovering in Usagi’s eyes and placed a hand on top of hers. Ami knew that deep down Usagi blamed herself for their deaths, but it wasn’t like that at all. Of course, Usagi would never see it that way.
Usagi’s crystal eyes met up with Ami’s aqua blue ones, “We pulled through it didn’t we?”
Usagi gave a weak smile.
Makoto looked on in sympathy, “Don’t stress Usagi, as long as we stick together we’ll be fine.”
The collective mood lightened considerably.
Minako laid her cards down, “So, Ami?”
Ami looked up, “Hm?”
“Beat you to the water!”
Ami smiled wickedly. Soon everyone was making a mad dash to the water like they truly had no care in the world.
However, as inscribed deep in their destinies, that would not last for long.
If someone were around to listen all one would hear is the hollow sound of the wind and the odd cricket making itself known to the night. However, in an abandoned corner of Jonanjima in the Port of Tokyo, it was a different story. It was quiet, much too quiet. The silence was deafening and unnatural. Deep in the shadows the atmosphere rippled then tore open, spewing a misty blackness darker than deep space onto the Earth. It spread through the maze of shipping containers, across the pier, into the sea, and through cracks in the ground. The highly viscous mist crawled lethargically and seemed to whisper dark and disturbing secrets to the night.
Ami sat at her exam desk writing furiously. She raked a hand roughly through her hair in pure frustration. Why couldn’t she find her bearings in something as simple as advanced biochemistry? Ami drew a blank and was beside herself not knowing why. She felt so dumb, so blind, she should know this.
“Five minutes left class,” the professor paced slowly across the teaching platform, “you should be finishing up.”
“Damn it!” Cursed Ami as she glanced at the clock to hear it beep loudly once more. She wasn’t even finished the first page! Why didn’t she know this?! A sweat bead trickled down the side of her face and splattered onto her exam paper. Startled, Ami felt a spiritual tug towards the door and turned her head to the right to see Rei standing there in full miko attire.
“Huh?” Ami fell into confusion, “Rei what are you doing here?”
Rei didn’t answer and just stared at her intently. The clock beeped once again. Ami ripped her gaze from Rei to stare at the clock.
Ami slowly opened her eyes to see her sheer white curtains billowing in the night air of the open window above her. She silently exhaled, “Thank God! It was just a dream. But I still felt so ignorant. As if I was supposed to remember something but couldn’t grasp it . . . and what was Rei doing there?”
She shot up in her bed like a bullet and stared at her Mercurian computer, which sat open, beeping, and flashing the map of Tokyo. With wide eyes she stumbled out of bed and began typing furiously. The program she created after Galaxia’s defeat had found something. She kept a twenty-four hour search running to inform her of any supernatural occurrences going on in Tokyo.
Her results were in. There was a dot flashing . . . right over Jonanjima in the Port of Tokyo.
Ami quickly reached behind her back and pulled forth her communicator and Henshin wand.
She pressed the symbol of Mars with a feeling that Rei would be up at three o’clock in the morning. The picture cleared to reveal Rei with sleep crusted eyes and disheveled hair. Ami was wrong.
Though she was still half asleep Rei was subconsciously alert to the fact that they hadn’t used their communicators in months. Doing so only meant one thing. Rei’s tone came through quiet and serious, “Ami, what is it?”
Ami began in haste, “My program alerted me to an anomaly. The levels are off the charts.”
“Where?” Rei whispered back, now fully awake.
“Jonanjima, Port of Tokyo.”
“Okay, I’ll call the others, get down there as soon as possible. We’re right behind you.”
Ami gave a slight nod, “Right.” She put her communicator back in her sub-space pocket, stood up tall and raised her henshin wand. Her face exuded rock solid resolve, just as her friend’s did, but also a trace of pleasant nostalgia. A slight grin curved her lips as she uttered the familiar phrase that she had come to love.
“Mercury Crystal Power!”
Super Sailor Jupiter bounded the rooftops as fast as her power-injected legs would carry her. With the strength of her planet coursing through her she ripped through the night with super human speed and strength. When Jupiter reached her destination she jumped down to the scene. Her fellow Senshi, including Tuxedo Kamen, were already there. Half of them stood guard while the other half conversed with Mercury to assess what was happening. Eternal Sailor Moon smiled at Jupiter’s arrival, the taller Senshi joined guard while also listening to the conversation.
Tuxedo Kamen scanned the area carefully, “So Mercury, what’s the deal here?”
Super Sailor Mercury continued typing at light speed while speaking simultaneously, “Not quite sure, I’m not getting a substantial reading or exact location anymore, but there is a hostile force here, I’m sure of it.”
Mercury lifted her gaze and touched one of her metallic blue earrings. A translucent, pale blue visor shimmered into existence over her face as she scanned the area. “My visor shows no form or noticeable presence, but I know my program is correct.”
Worry passed over Sailor Moon’s features, “Mars, what are you feeling?”
Super Sailor Mars had her eyes closed and her hands clasped in a Shinto manner, “Mercury is right, there is definitely a negative force here.”
At that exact moment everyone experienced a deathly shiver race through their bones as Mars’ violet eyes shot open. For all of them to feel that it had to be a powerful force.
Mars’ lips tightened, “Something sinister is here . . . and it’s getting stronger.”
Super Sailor Venus frowned in suspicion. With the power of love as her ally she could sense its cold absence. Something was definitely wrong.
Her fists tightened, “Guys?”
The uncertainty in her tone caught everyone’s attention.
There was dead silence. No wind, no insects, no rodents, not even the lapping of seawater. It felt so unnatural that Sailor Moon folded her arms around herself for reassurance. They all crouched slightly, showing they were on their guard and ready for anything. A light breeze fluttered past Sailor Moon’s ear. The hair on the back of her neck stood erect and she swiveled her head around, hearing disturbing whispers.
“What was that?” She demanded.
The Senshi looked over at Sailor Moon and asked what she heard. Tuxedo Kamen was at her side in an instant, holding Sailor Moon’s shaky form in his strong arms. Her eyes remained wide and quivering.
“Didn’t you hear that?” She asked urgently.
Tuxedo Kamen grew worried. “What? I didn’t hear anything.”
Sailor Moon’s eyes refocused, she had to gain control of her fear, and now. What kind of super heroine would she be if she were shaking like a leaf?
“The whispers, you didn’t hear them?”
Everyone shook their heads while Mercury continued sifting through data. Jupiter impatiently clenched her fists. When Sailor Moon acted like this it freaked everyone out. She just wanted to kick the shit out of whatever the hell lurked around. She tapped her foot impatiently over an uneven patch of ground. Mercury suddenly ceased typing and jerked her head towards Jupiter in a panic. The Senshi, having fought together for so long knew each other like the back of their hands, on and off the battle field. They’d learned how to read each other’s tone of voice and body language without the need for further explanation. That one look from Mercury was all the information Jupiter required, for she took off in a sprint without any verbal warning. At that exact moment the cracked ground she had just been standing on erupted high, a jet-black plume of thick, fluid mist shooting out. The Senshi got knocked off their feet as Jupiter went flying but managed a shaky landing. Everyone instantly jumped back up assuming offensive stances as the thick mist spread like wild fire, engulfing the entire area. They might as well have been blind for it was so dark the Senshi couldn’t see their white gloved hands in front of their faces.
Super Sailor Mars looked around frantically and called out to her fellow Senshi, “Is everyone okay?”
She heard affirmations all around her when Sailor Moon took the reigns. She summoned her Eternal Tiare and assumed leadership.
“Alright, we all know where the site is so let’s circle it. Mercury?”
“Don’t worry Sailor Moon,” assured Mercury while tapping the side of her visor, “I’ve got it.”
As she looked on to where Jupiter was originally standing Mercury noticed something take form. “Something’s there, at the eruption site. It’s large with an unknown shape. Be ready.”
Mercury let her visor go and prepared to call forth her shabon spray when suddenly the obscure mist dissipated. Stunned at it vanishing into thin air, the Senshi looked to the eruption site where their enemy should be, only there was no enemy. There was nothing. Now everyone was puzzled, but experience had taught the Senshi to never let their guard down and to trust each other.
Tuxedo Kamen moved his hand deftly, causing an immature blood red rose with a deadly tip to materialize within it. His eyes darted back and forth furiously. At that instant both Mercury, with her visor back on, and Mars stretched out an arm,
“Kamen! Above you!”
Wasting no time he drew his arm back and hurled the rose with speed and precision as he quickly rolled out of the way. A piercing shriek made itself known, followed by a resounding BANG as chunks of cement went flying. A small crater had magically appeared where Tuxedo Kamen once stood. The Sailor Senshi instinctively dodged the crushing projectiles and stared at the rose, which appeared to be suspended in thin air with greenish-black blood oozing from its razor sharp tip.
Tuxedo Kamen jumped up, “Shit! It’s invisible!”
The rose took to the skies again and began moving through the air erratically; at a velocity so high it made the on-looking Senshi very nervous. It was difficult to keep up with its haphazard movements, but either way, the Senshi had had enough.
Jupiter’s eyes followed the rose fixedly as the antenna embedded into the emerald of her tiara rose sharply from her brow. Lightning sparked and crackled around her, infusing her with Jupiter’s pure, electric potential as she ran forward commanding, “Supreme Thunder!”
Giant laces of charged lightning rushed forward at an enormous speed. It seemed to travel through the sky without impact, but the small flash, ear-numbing shriek, and smell of ozone confirmed the hit. It was small, but a hit nonetheless. Jupiter glimpsed the scorched limb and smiled. Venus shared a quick, communicative look with Mars and Mercury. The red and orange clad Senshi anticipated its next move and called upon their widest range attacks as their arms lashed out.
“Crescent Beam Shower!”
Packets of white-hot plasma beams and a billowing plume of fire raced towards its target. Direct hit. A piercing screech flooded their ears as gravity claimed the scorched creature and it careened back to the Earth. Mercury ran forward with hands high and acted quickly.
“Shine Aqua Illusion!”
Torrents of freezing water barreled forward to forcibly crash into the creature. Ice crystallized upon impact, sharp spikes of ice spraying out behind it with the demon now fully visible in all its frozen horror.
The Senshi grimaced at the sight of such a grotesque creature. On all fours it stood about four and a half feet tall. Though the creature was definitely ‘all legs’, its entire body tilted downwards to the front. Its scrawny, short front limbs sported not one, but two sets of elbow joints. Its hind legs took up most of its bulk, sprouting high in the rear, folding forwards with hard, lean muscle to then extend back. Hardened, pitted, black bone protruded in bumpy clusters from the two lower rear joints. Each limb gradually split into three long, bony digits possessing two tiers of disjointed knuckles. This allowed each segment to move independently and bend in unnatural ways. All digits boasted sharp, obsidian-like three-inch claws, which curled forwards, easily capable of tearing its prey to ribbons. The demon’s skin appeared taught, scaly, and slightly moist with a greenish-black tint. The creature’s oblong and narrow head perched on its stubby neck, the skin gradually morphing into the same black, hardened bone at the crown of its head, giving the impression of enforced armour. From this a trinity of pitted, antler-like bones extended from the top of its head, curving sharply inward. The demon’s mouth gaped wide and never closed, revealing razor sharp, needle-like teeth growing in a haphazard but tight formation. Its disproportionately large eyes bulged from both sides of its bony head, and were as black and void as space itself. Its eyes were especially unnerving, and the Senshi couldn’t peer into them too long before needing to look elsewhere. Overall the creature gave off a disconcerting vibe.
Its legs were badly burnt following the Senshi’s attack, and soon began transforming into the ink-black mist. The rest of its body followed suit until the mist filled its mold inside the giant ice crystal. Sailor Moon wore a look of disgust as she raised her Tiare, eager to rid the world of this creature.
With barely the need to concentrate she felt the silver power of the Moon surging through her, feeding it into her talisman. The energy concentrated near its crown as Eternal Sailor Moon unleashed the colossal force of the Lunar Crystal Power Kiss.
The purifying, trenchant energy shot out and impacted with the ice creature. However, instead of perishing as per usual, the ice crystal shattered and the black mist exploded out violently, engulfing the area yet again. All got forcibly thrown back, and Mars, being too close to the water, fell in. The only evidence of her disappearance was a small splash, easily drowned out by the explosion.
“What the hell?!?!”
“Is everyone alright?”
All Senshi answered except for Mars.
“Mars! Where are you?”
“Enough of this,” huffed Mercury. She closed her eyes, concentrating to drive the black mist out. She raised her hand before her chest in a mudra gesture, which summoned millions of microscopic water droplets, encircling her. The frigid and fierce energy of Mercury accumulated within her, infusing the water droplets as the fog thickened and encompassed Mercury completely. She commanded, “Shabon Spray . . . Expel!” The blanket of arctic fog cocooning her pulsed out in all directions, driving the mist away.
Everything snapped back to normal. All that was left of the battle was a pile of ice chunks slowly melting in the night’s humidity. Mars was nowhere to be seen.
Sailor Mars struggled terribly to swim back up to the surface, but she couldn’t for the life of her. It was like something all around her weighed Mars down, pulling her deeper and deeper. She looked up and couldn’t see the surface anymore; all she saw was black. Her body teetered on the verge of panic, but her mind screamed at her to stay in control. The blackness closed in on her, and her mind hazed.
“What the hell’s going on? I’m being . . . violated!”
The black mist had entered her ears and began thrashing through the recesses of her mind, mentally raping her. She was on display for the mist to see. In a panic, bubbles escaped from her mouth and she was now losing air.
The Senshi frantically searched for Super Sailor Mars when Venus spotted a few splotches of water on the dock by the sea, “Look! I think she fell in the water!”
Everyone ran over and looked in but couldn’t see anything. Sailor Moon prepared to jump in after her, “She should have surfaced by now. I have to go after her!”
Tuxedo Kamen held her quickly, “No wait! Let myself or one of the others go.”
Reluctantly, Moon agreed as Tuxedo Kamen and Sailor Jupiter dove in to save Mars.
Venus felt sick, “Oh, God.”
Sailor Moon shot a frantic look at the goddess of love, “What?! What is it?”
“The water . . .” Venus pointed out, “it’s pitch black.”
Jupiter and Kamen kicked . . . and kicked . . . and kicked. It was difficult to search for something when all was black. After what seemed to be an eternity he spotted a faint red and white object. He tapped Jupiter’s arm and pointed as they raced down to her. Jupiter took Mars in her arms just as the blackness hastily retreated, the water fading to a natural dark blue. Jupiter almost gasped under water but concentrated on the task at hand. She raised Mars’ head to see her face constricted in pain. Tuxedo Kamen saw this too and took her other arm as they kicked upwards in a hurry. As soon as the trio broke the surface, six hands reached out to drag them up onto the dock.
Moon and Venus laid Mars down on the pier as she thrashed around violently, sucking in frantic gasps of air.
Venus tried to restrain her limbs, “What happened?!”
Tuxedo Kamen sat on the pier breathing heavily, “When we found her, the blackness disappeared and she was in a lot of pain.” He ran a damp gloved hand through his wet locks, “she thrashed around all the way up.”
Mercury knelt down quickly, grasping her friend’s head in her hands, “MARS! MARS SNAP OUT OF IT!” Mars continued to thrash, “MARS!!!”
Mars’ eyes snapped open and she instantly stopped thrashing. She blinked several times while her lungs struggled for breath. Her eyes ran about wildly until they focused on a familiar face. “M-Mercury?”
Mercury nodded, relief clearly washing over them all. Sailor Moon was near tears as she leapt at her best friend, crushing her in a bear hug. “Oh my God! I thought we’d lost you!”
Sailor Mars choked, “Do you want to kill me odango atama? Get it together!”
Jupiter couldn’t help but grin a little, which disappeared when she placed a hand on Mars’s shoulder.
Sailor Mars peered up at her over protective friend with dark eyes, expecting the question that would follow.
“Mars, what the hell happened down there?”