The physical tangability of Queen Selenity’s presence caused the Senshi to spontaneously blossom into royal form, only to stare in muted astonishment at their ancient Queen’s unexpected appearance in the flesh.
Once the shock subsided Princess Mercury became instantly alert to the learning opportunity that had presented itself. Her intellectual frustration continued to fester because she had been unable to attach an explanation to anything that had happened to them since the Mist had appeared.
“Your Majesty,” Princess Mercury began in poorly masked irritation, “I am at a total loss. I have no clue how or why we got our powers back and I have been working it over and over from every angle I can think of.”
Before replying Queen Selenity faintly smiled, “Try not to be so hard on yourself. Trust me when I say that from your perspective, perceiving the truth was not possible.”
The Queen’s carefully placed smile betrayed her, appearing to mask genuine sorrow. The atmosphere became inexplicably serious, “Please understand that what I am about to tell you will be difficult to digest considering everything you have recently experienced.”
Selenity sensed their nervous anticipation when she earnestly implored, “Please . . . try your best to keep an open mind.”
From such an introduction the Moon Princess and her court looked very apprehensively at their Queen, now dreading whatever it was she was about to say. Queen Selenity faced Mercury directly while addressing them all, “The truth is . . . you did not get your powers back because you did not loose them in the first place.”
Empty silence followed. The Senshi could only respond by staring blankly at her, slow to comprehend. Their eyes squinted in deep suspicion until the inner’s began stammering all at once. It was a jumbled mess until Princess Mercury took the reigns.
“Your Majesty, that can’t be true! Once Prince Cirius took our powers we were unable to transform, followed by a massive decrease in life energy, and our energy signitures were completely undetectable! Then somehow we gain our powers back while massively upgrading during the process. How could all that have happened if we didn’t loose our powers at all?!”
Queen Selenity was the only one who knew that what she had just told them was only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Her heart already ached for them.
She sympathized, “I completely understand your reactions. They are perfectly natural and logically sound. Let me explain to you exactly what had happened.”
Queen Selenity sensed their impatience loud and clear. She may have appeared mortal at that moment but there was nothing mortal about her. Selenity was there to tell them the truth and it would take delicate care to do it.
“The Mist of Niraasha,” the Queen began, “possessed mysterious and powerful abilities; most of which were not known or understood by any of us during the Silver Millennium. Since my death I have assimilated deeply in the spiritual realm and can tap into vast amounts of information. I can tell you that the Mist has its origins in the Sagittarius Dwarf Galaxy.”
“A foreign galaxy? How far away?” Neptune asked.
“Very close actually,” Mercury replied, “It’s a satelite galaxy to our own and has passed through the disk of the Milky Way a few times already. It’s in the process of being devoured.”
Everyone turned back to the Queen, desperately needing her to continue.
“The Mist possessed the unique ability to siphon energy as its way of feeding itself. Its preferred method was to attach itself to living hosts because it could digest biological energy very easily, but only hosts that accepted the Mist willingly could become secure sources of nourishment. However, it could also siphon inorganic, mystical energies, but couldn’t tap into them for sustenance. If such energies were obtained the Mist would simply hoard them like trophies.”
Princess Venus reaffirmed their point. “Then it must have hoarded our powers.”
“Actually,” countered the Queen, “because of Imbrium’s insanity and obsession with making you all powerless that’s exactly what he thought he was doing. However, it was not your planetary powers that he stole.”
She paused for a moment, using the empty space to increase the gravity of their attention. “The power that the Mist had withdrawn was in actuality the transformation power of your henshin wands.”
The Senshi’s mouths parted slightly open while confusion set deep in their eyes.
“What?!” Erupted Princess Mars. “But, that can’t be! We all felt our powers get ripped away. We were substantially weaker and suffered heavy withdrawal! What you’re saying doesn’t make any sense!”
Prince Endymion backed her up, “That’s right. And I don’t even have a henshin wand so I don’t see how that’s possible.”
The Queen’s greyish blue eyes pleaded with them to understand. “The Mist really did believe that it had stolen your powers. Due to its warped nature it could not know that stealing a Senshi’s powers is absolutely impossible since they are apart of you and completely inseparable. However, the Mist was able to siphon the power of your henshin wands.”
She turned to Prince Endymion, “And yes, you did not have a wand, but you still required an object to henshin. Your ability to transform into Tuxedo Kamen had to pass through something, and that was your connection to the Earth’s red rose.”
By this point everybody looked highly skeptical and very confused so the Queen was forced to explain further. “You must understand that every Sailor Senshi throughout history had utilized a transformation object infused with mystical power to act as a buffer between the Senshi and their planet. Henshin wands act as a bridge between the mortal realm and the spiritual realm and were the access keys to your rightful planetary powers and Senshi form. Once the Mist stripped your henshin wands of all transforming power, it had shut the door that you had always used to become Sailor Senshi; which was why you could not transform.”
“If that’s the case,” Princess Mercury interjected, “then how come we remained transformed temporarily after our henshin wands were stripped of power? My research confirmed this.”
The Queen expected that question. “Just because your henshin wands were powerless did not mean you were as well. Even though you needed the henshin wand to gain full Senshi strength, that did not change the fact that you were born under the protection of your planets and are also planetary monarchs on top of that. Such a combination is very rare since historically the vast majority of Sailor Senshi were not of the monarchy.
“So,” She promptly veered back on course, “the reason you remained momentarily transformed was because deep down inside you are eternally connected to your planets, and that connection held firmly. However, once your minds believed your powers were lost the transformation could not endure. The mind is a very powerful thing.”
Princess Mercury looked far from convinced, “But I scanned Rei and Makoto your Majesty. They held no trace of the energies of Mars or Jupiter in them as if they had never been Senshi at all.”
“And Mars had a good point,” came Jupiter, “how do you explain the weakness and the withdrawal we experienced if our powers weren’t missing?”
Queen Selenity quickly recognized that the their Earth-born incarnations were far more skeptical than their past selves. This would take more effort than she originally thought.
“The instant you first transformed into Sailor Senshi in this life, the unique power of your henshin wands were introduced to your earthly bodies. This energy reflected the power of your planets. Over the years your biological energies kept ascending closer to that of your wands because you were forced to use them regularly, two almost becoming one. Since the energy increase was so gradual you did not notice its accumulation over time, and hence, the boost in your energy. However, once the Mist had siphoned the wand’s power that power left your bodies as well, and the sudden lack of that extra energy was immediately felt. That was why you truly believed your powers to be stolen. It is perfectly understandable and the way it had to be.”
The Queen had chosen her words wisely hoping she had delivered her explanation well, though it was definitely not received as such. It was shocking enough that Queen Selenity appeared in front of them as a mortal after thousands of years, but adding what she had just told them on top of that left them baffled and very restless. The mere idea that they believed they were powerless when apparently they were not proved to be a jagged pill to swallow. This was understandable considering what Usagi was forced to suffer due to that belief. Of course, the Senshi would not be able to see past their perceived failure of their Princess, which was in fact not a failure at all.
The logic of the Queen’s explanation in addition to the ring of truth in her words had almost seduced Mercury, but she still needed some answers. Playing with the idea she offered, “So, the reason Rei and Mako appeared as ordinary human beings to my computer was because it was only programmed to detect henshin wand transformation power?”
The Queen smiled brightly at her cleverness, “Precisely.”
After the brief, mutual understanding Queen Selenity’s hopes vanished when she sensed Endymion’s strong hostility.
Everyone turned to look at Endymion upon hearing his low, intense tone. “You’re saying we always had our powers like we originally thought . . . but we just couldn’t access them.” He shut his eyes and swallowed the massive lump of fury and guilt burning in his throat in order to continue.
“Well,” he struggled to keep his voice steady, “how did we transform into this then?” he gestured to his body while trying to keep his rage under control.
The Queen completely understood how they were feeling, Mamoru most of all. She knew that due to their natures they would secretly guilt themselves and suffer for years over this. However, they did not yet know that everything that had happened was absolutely necessary and could not have happened any other way, and there was more.
Queen Selenity clasped her hands, glad that Endymion had asked that question. “You all have achieved something quite extraordinary. Understand that something of this nature has never happened before.
“The Mist siphoned the energy out of your henshin wands blocking the only way that Sailor Senshi had ever used to reach full power.”
The Queen could not help but smile at them, “Your enormous strength of character, your deep love for Serenity, and your overwhelming desire to triumph caused all of you to make the gargantuan quantum leap to direct contact with your planetary deities.”
“Wait a minute,” came Princess Jupiter, “what exactly are you saying?”
The Queen knew that they wouldn’t be able to understand just yet, but small tears of pride had formed in her eyes regardless. “Because you absolutely could not accept loosing Serenity, your higher selves were forced to probe deeper and deeper until it had no choice but to cross the unknown void that the henshin wand was made to bridge in order to connect directly with its source. That was when the energies of your henshin wands in the crystal spheres became obsolete and vanished. You have bonded directly to your planetary deities at the highest spiritual level, rendering the need of a transformation item unnecessary.”
She radiated pride now, “You are the first Senshi to achieve this.”
While bathing them with love and admiration she could clearly see that they fought the overwhelming urge to bitterly argue against her; to absolutely insist that their powers had been stolen. If that had been true then they could have at least held their heads high to say, ‘we tried our best to protect Usagi’. From their perspective, not being able to access their powers, no matter how impossible a feat accessing them was . . . to them it would never be a valid enough excuse for Usagi to suffer the way she did.
Queen Selenity sensed it would be futile trying to convince them at that moment that once the time warp had occurred all subsequent events, including Usagi’s suffering, were not only inevitable but necessary. Destiny had been forced to chart a brand new course for them due to the unpredicted warp event. Whatever their new future would be, fate had to prepare them for it somehow. However, now that the Queen had revealed the truth the Senshi could begin to feel it for themselves. It was as if an intense, brilliant light had ignited in their hearts giving them instantaneous access to enormous and deep planetary energies. As they turned inwards for answers they could begin to notice the shift as peaceful smiles floated across their faces. The feeling was consuming and absolutely divine. They immediately knew the truth and could sense their planets within them and apart of them. It was definitely a brand new feeling and there was suddenly no more room for argument.
Queen Selenity continued onwards. “You might also notice something else. Think of the Silver Millennium . . . your previous lives.”
The Queen’s heart warmed as she watched their expressions change dramatically. The moment they focused their attention on the Silver Millennium they quickly realized that they could remember their previous lifetimes completely; the same way they could remember their present lives on Earth. The Senshi were abruptly inundated by a tidal wave of memories that had been locked away for thousands of years.
Each of them gawked at Queen Selenity completely flabbergasted and overwhelmed as the Queen reminded herself to keep going. “As I said, none of this has happened before. When you fused with your planetary deities you also fused every aspect of your personalities together; your past and present selves are now one.”
Once the initial shock of registering another lifetime’s worth of memories subsided, their eyes began to soften the longer they stared at the ancient Queen. Not just a few seconds ago this woman was like a stranger to them. Every time she had appeared before them they always felt a fondness for her, but it was distant and involuntary. With their past memories invoked they could vividly remember their individual relationships with Queen Selenity. Each of them had been close to her in a unique and personal way and everyone had respected her immensely; which was why they always addressed her as ‘Your Majesty’ even though she had scolded them countless times not to.
Queen Selenity witnessed the familiarity, respect, and deep love seep back into their eyes as they gazed at her. It had been over eleven thousand years since she had seen recognition upon their faces when in their presence. The Queen smiled warmly, eyes glistening. They had all been like her own children so the joy she felt when they remembered her was immense.
“You all have the advantage of remembering two lifetimes now. You will be able to recall the extensive knowledge you possessed about our System’s history, the Galaxy, all known evil forces, and so much more due to your intensive education as Sailor Senshi and planetary leaders.”
Queen Selenity remained focused as she approached the most devastating part of her briefing. She thought it would be best to get it out as quickly as possible.
“You can now access memories and information that will aid you greatly in the upcoming wars.”
Silence ensued as if they were in the vacuum of space. Princess Serenity had not spoken yet, but her carefully neutralized voice was immediate, “Wars? What wars?”
The Queen steeled herself. “This planet is teeming with life of all kinds and is infused with very rare and powerful metaphysical energies that can be found almost nowhere else in the galaxy. You can easily imagine that these days the Earth is well known and evil forces far and wide have been paying much more attention.
“In the last few years you have built up a solid reputation that had begun to circulate. Most of the evil forces spread across the galaxy were getting wind that some of their most ambitious colleagues had met their demise by death or purification when they tried to take the Earth.
“You have defeated every force you have come up against and word was propagating that the Earth; being one of the most rare and sought after targets in the rural outskirts of nowhere had some of the most talented and formidable planetary protectors in the galaxy. In addition, a gifted evil few were able to detect a bright and powerful energy signature here, which was Serenity’s life force. By the time of Galaxia’s defeat most had decided to resist temptation and cut their losses with the Earth, staying away.”
As intriguing as all of this was everyone wondered when the point would emerge. The relentless information overload was absolutely daunting by this point but they could tell that even though she imparted much, they sensed that everything she said was very important though they did not yet know why. They suddenly began to view their recent achievement in a different light. The Senshi initially believed that the Earth was finally safe because no one would be able to threaten them now that they had melded with their planetary spirits and possessed an amped up Ginzuishou in addition to the Golden Crystal.
This was the first time they began to feel an ominous vibe. It started to dawn on them that every power-up they had ever achieved ended up being a necessity. Usually meaning that they were about to confront something that could potentially match or better them.
The Queen arrived at the point, “When the portal closed behind Serenity when she was abducted, her energies became invisible to the Universe.” Her composure loosened with each spoken word. “The powerful shine of Serenity’s life force finally warning many evil entities to stay away . . . was no longer detectable.”
As soon as the dots connected Princess Mars stumbled forward, instantly alarmed. She now sensed what the Queen was getting at and was the first of them to finally understand its depth.
“You mean . . . Th-They’re all coming?!” She asked, dread filling her entire body, “Here?!”
Exclamations were heard all around when everyone else clued in. The Senshi felt a nauseating wave of adrenaline and their hearts pounded like crazy, now finally beginning to grasp the scope of their situation. Queen Selenity wanted to reassure them somehow, but knew that she couldn’t. No one could.
“Yes,” the Queen confirmed, “countless evil forces spread throughout the galaxy are now on their way here, or are making plans to come here in the future. We don’t know exactly how many but I know there has been considerable mobilization.”
Her voice lowered, “It turns out that the Mist had a separate extensions of itself in other parts of our galaxy and beyond. When Serenity was held captive it had communicated to its other parts that the Earth’s formidable Senshi had been crippled and the planet was now wide open. Even though Serenity destroyed the Mist . . . the message was already out.”
Queen Selenity could see the blood drain from their features and wished she had better news for them. In an attempt to cheer them up if only a little Queen Selenity summoned two spheres of light on either side of her, from which Luna and Artemis emerged.
The Queen gestured to the two cats, “I’ve restored Artemis and Luna’s full powers and abilities.”
On cue the two felines morphed into their human forms. Luna appeared delicate and slender with long, wavy purple tinted hair wearing an exotic, pale yellow dress. Artemis stood tall and lean with shoulder blade length, straight white hair dressed in formal Lunar attire.
“Now at full capacity,” the Queen went on, “they will be invaluable advisors to all of you.”
Queen Selenity knew that they were on the verge of a long series of wars on a scale that no Senshi anywhere had ever dealt with. She knew that they had a long and difficult, but important destiny ahead of them. All of that aside it still broke her heart telling them all of this.
“I wish I could warn you about what you are up against,” Queen Selenity said with complete authenticity, “but all of this is unfamiliar.”
Before the Senshi’s depression could settle to an all-new low the Queen rushed through the rest, “There’s more. Because these new enemies are coming from different distances by various forms of travel, we don’t really know how their arrivals will be staggered.”
She sighed heavily, “What I can tell you is that you will be fighting wars on and off for the next few centuries at least.”
The Queen predicted what would follow.
“Wait,” Princess Saturn jumped into the fray, trying to comprehend, “Centuries? But we’ll die long before that!”
The Queen’s heart constricted as she dropped the final bomb on them. “Understand that all of your destinies have changed. By fusing with your planetary deities you have also achieved a higher state of being. Due to this enlightenment your physiological structures have evolved and your metabolic processes have slowed substantially. Unless you have an untimely death you will now live many, many centuries aging very slowly once you’ve reached adult maturity.”
The Queen closed her eyes once she had finished for she could not bear to witness their faces once they fully realized what that meant.
The Senshi were unable to speak. They had just overcome the toughest battle they had ever faced and their beloved Princess had been traumatized beyond all recognition. Their private lives had vanished and their old way of life had been destroyed. They were now physiologically and spiritually evolved, could potentially live hundreds of years outliving all of their loved ones, and will be fighting against forces that could be unlike anything they had ever seen. ‘Overwhelmed’ could not even begin to describe how they felt.
As the Senshi remained silent the Queen dutifully continued, “The time warp caused immeasurable change in all time streams. The future that you were expecting . . . the long, cold slumber, a few brief wars, Crystal Tokyo in the 30th Century . . . does not exist anymore.”
Serenity snapped out of her listless depression, gripped with sudden panic as her mother ended with, “From here on in its brand new territory.”
Serenity clutched Endymion tightly, “Chibi-Usa!” She demanded of her mother, “What happened to my daughter?!”
Queen Selenity understood her daughter’s feelings more than anyone, “To be honest Serenity, I’m not quite sure. I am quite confident that Chibi-Usa will always be your child, but when, where, and how she will appear is unknown.”
The Senshi’s faces became sullen, empty, and sad. Their entire world had been brutally demolished and they were desperately trying to cope. The Senshi knew that no matter how much they wanted to, they could not change what had happened, so attempting to come to terms with their new future was the only option available to them.
Princess Venus lacked her usual vivacity, “How long do we have until the mayhem starts? Can you at least tell us that?”
“All I can tell you,” Selenity replied, “is that you have about a week until your first enemy arrives.”
They had only one week until war would be their primary concern. Princess Mercury had to ask, “Your Majesty, why do you appear to us like this? As if you were still living?”
“Well,” the Queen began, “firstly, I wanted to be the one to tell you everything and I believed that you deserved to be told in person, not by an apparition.”
Queen Selenity was the only one who noticed Saturn’s head slightly perk upwards as if something had called her attention. With curious, deep purple eyes the petite girl turned to look in the direction of the temple steps. The Queen knew exactly what was about to happen and realized that she was out of time.
“There is another reason why I came to you in mortal form.” The Queen added.
As they looked at her waiting for an answer, Queen Selenity just stared at her daughter intently, knowing that the burden of being Sailor Moon had finally taken its toll on her.
Wrapped in Endymion’s arms Princess Serenity was adrift, completely lost in the sea of her thoughts. She sifted fervently through memory after memory of Prince Imbrium. She could now vividly recall sitting on her uncle’s knee when she was a little girl, listening to his grossly exaggerated stories and laughing with him. She could remember playing hide and seek with him all over the palace, and the afternoons spent reading her lessons sprawled out on the floor of his study as he sat at his desk doing mounds of research and documentation. Had it all been an act? Did he truly hate her all along? A stab of pain shot through her when she remembered her uncle singing her favourite lullaby to her before she would go to sleep when she was a little girl, which he did religiously every night he was home. It was the same hauntingly sweet tune he hummed to her over and over during her months of pain and torture.
Serenity’s eyes filled with miserable, self-deprecating tears as she obsessed over the fact that after all the indescribable horrors he subjected her to, she still saved his soul regardless. A human being as pure and radiant as Usagi could only endure so much agony before suffering a psychotic break.
Just before Serenity succumbed to her misery, she caught her mother’s eyes and could suddenly remember the intimate relationship they had shared and their countless heart-to-hearts. She recalled how vital her mother’s nurturing spirit was to her, and the soothing effect she had. Queen Selenity wordlessly held her arms out to her, clearly showing at that moment that she wasn’t a monarch, a leader, or a spiritual force . . . At that moment she was a mother, determined to be there for her daughter when she needed her mother the most.
Princess Serenity instinctively gravitated towards her mother, forcing Endymion to reluctantly let her go. The moment she collapsed in the Queen’s arms Serenity proved unable to hold her trauma back any longer, releasing a torrent of the most gut wrenching sobs anyone had ever heard. The raw pain of months of torture had now broken the surface to thoroughly consume her. As the Queen held her daughter tightly the Senshi stood on the sidelines in abject heartbreak. The sound of Serenity’s wretched bawling caused the Senshi to weep in helplessness and overwhelming sympathy. They wanted desperately to do something for her, to gladly shoulder her pain in order to spare her years of torment struggling to deal with what had happened to her. But in the end they could only watch and listen, furthering their gangrenous self-loathing.
Unable to ignore the pull any longer, Saturn left the group completely unnoticed to head towards the temple stairs. Just as she did this Queen Selenity turned to Mars, “Is there somewhere Serenity and I could sit a while?”
Mars stepped forward with miserable tears streaming down her face and empathetically placed her hands on Serenity’s quivering shoulders whispering, “You can use my room.”
Queen Selenity and her shattered daughter hastily made their way inside followed by the door thudding closed behind them.
Prince Endymion and the others gravitated together staring at the door through bleary eyes. They were completely and utterly destroyed over Usagi . . . Endymion most of all. Luna and Artemis were staggered and scared upon witnessing the mental and emotional states of Usagi and the Senshi. They were very apprehensive to learn what had transpired and wisely decided to stay silent as the Senshi struggled with their grief.
Since Saturn could not shake the tugging sensation emanating from the direction of the temple steps, she quietly withdrew from the congregation and headed towards the entrance. Mother and daughter had already disappeared into the temple when Queen Selenity’s voice suddenly breezed through Saturn’s mind, “Your attire.”
Saturn froze just before reaching the top of the stairs. She looked down and realized that she was dressed in a masterfully made, exotically designed, gorgeous purple and black gown.
The Queen’s voice hinted, “Just focus on what you need.”
With her brow furrowed in concentration Saturn’s ornate gown shifted into her Sailor fuku. She then descended the steps to find out what was calling her down there.
As the crowd below noticed Sailor Saturn approaching, the multitude of voices began all at once. There were no hysterics this time but it was an irritating, jumbled mess. Saturn scanned the crowd and immediately spotted the Tsukino’s ecstatically waving their arms.
Eternal Saturn’s imposing demeanor suddenly melted into that of a sweet, young girl.
Ikuko saw that they had made eye contact but couldn’t begin to guess whom Sailor Saturn could be. Either way they were shocked when the supernatural warrior implored them to come towards her with the warmest, familiar smile.
As the Tsukino’s made their way forward Saturn spotted a few others pushing their way through; Ms. Mizuno, Motoki, The Aino’s, Umino, and Naru. When the group reached the mystical barrier they looked up at Sailor Saturn, unsure of what to do. Saturn smiled sweetly and reassured, “Just walk through, it’s perfectly fine.”
With a hint of hesitation each one of the Senshi’s close family and friends walked through the barrier and started up the stairs. Members of the crowd also attempted to pass through but collided with a wall of energy instead. Pissed off exclamations were heard as the small group ascended the mountain of temple steps.
Everyone climbed in silence not knowing what to say. Sailor Saturn smiled pleasantly at them and said, “I can imagine you must have a million and six questions right?”
They just stared at her with nervous but polite smiles. They were having a difficult time comprehending the fact that they were walking next to one of the Sailor Senshi whose identity they did not know. They couldn’t help but notice that the petite warrior sported some kind of glowing tattoo on her forehead, but what truly commanded their attention was the six-foot, sharp as hell, menacing weapon she carried around all too comfortably. Saturn followed their eyes to her glaive and blushed, embarrassed.
“Oh, sorry,” she confessed as it suddenly disappeared to her space pocket. They relaxed slightly and Saturn continued, “I can only imagine what must be going through your minds right now. Just try to remember that they are still the same people you knew before you found out about all this. There’s just,” she thought pensively for a moment, “a little more to them than you thought, that’s all.”
The Senshi’s family and friends bubbled with apprehension as they approached the top of the stairs, not knowing what they would find. You couldn’t blame them either. The mother of all supernova explosions detonated in their laps four months prior. The crazy, secret lives of those closest to them were suddenly revealed out of the blue and then they disappeared without a trace. Some of the Senshi’s families didn’t even have the luxury of seeing them at all after the news broke.
The denial had worn off about a week afterwards when the inevitable clarity of hindsight took over. They permitted themselves to recognize all of the strange behaviour displayed in the last few years that they had originally dismissed. Then suddenly question after question after question began surfacing in their minds only to receive zero answers. They had been living in a torturous limbo for four, agonizingly long months. They needed to know everything and they needed to know now.
With nervous jitters the humble group finally reached the top of the stairs. Their eyes rested immediately on a group of people huddled together talking very seriously some distance away. After a few seconds the Senshi’s family and friends gasped quietly. They slowly realized that it was Mamoru and the girls but could clearly see that something was quite . . . different.
They were dressed in the most extravagant, exquisitely designed clothes made of magnificent materials they had never seen before. Staring in silent confusion, family and friends noticed a slight glow emanating from them in addition to glowing tattoos on their heads as well. None of them knew what to think by this point and continued to stand at the top of the stairs in stunned silence. Out of the various situations they had pictured if lucky enough to see the Senshi again, this was not it.
With Serenity no longer around Prince Endymion suddenly appeared deathly ragged and disturbed. He dropped his head hiding his eyes beneath silky black hair as he gripped the hilt of his sword to stop his hands from shaking. “How?” He implored in an aching voice. “How can we even begin to help her? How the hell are we going to see Usako through this?! She has suffered a fate worse than death . . . for months.”
Clear in their collective consciousness was the raw destruction present in Usagi’s eyes. It was obvious that Prince Cirius had completely destroyed her. Usagi’s usual vivacity and brilliance had simply vanished, and none of them could shake the memory of the condition they had found her in while imprisoned in their cocoons. As clear as day they could see her body covered in contusions, numerous stab wounds gushing blood, crushed and fractured bones, and her bloodied and swollen face.
The Senshi shivered in anger and disgust as Princess Uranus quietly voiced, “I’m terrified to find out what Odango suffered during a whole year with that piece of shit Prince Cirius.”
Now that Usagi was safe Mamoru’s inherent talent at controlling his emotions had somewhat returned. His voice remained serious and relatively steady, but he could not quite hide its slight wavering.
“I have the strongest, sinking feeling that Prince Cirius made a habit of beating her close to death, letting her suffer, then healing her, and then torturing her again. Over, and over, and over.”
The Senshi fell into abhorred silence.
“When we found her,” his voice faltered, “the amount of times she had suffered in agony only to be healed and tortured again was probably well into the hundreds.”
Endymion was silent for a moment, struggling desperately to remain in control of his unraveling emotions. He summoned all of his will power to prevent himself visualizing Cirius beating Usagi to the verge of death. “He . . . that son of a bitch made me watch.”
The Senshi veered towards him with Jupiter stepping in front of him in alarm.
“What?!” She breathed as she tried to meet his eyes but he wouldn’t allow it.
Endymion’s jaw clenched before he answered her, “I was trapped in a prison right next to Usako. I could see her as clear as I see you right now. After dealing with me Prince Cirius wanted nothing more than to torture us further . . . so he went to her . . .”
Endymion closed his eyes and swallowed hard, voice wavering dangerously, “I-I watched him torture her . . . beat her . . . relentlessly.”
Endymion sensed their growing horror. “It . . .” He paused for a few seconds inhaling strongly. “There’s more. You must hear this if we are going to stand a chance at helping Usako heal.” He then dropped his head lower, his eyes now completely hidden, “I watched him molest her, watched him drag his dirty hands all over her body and force his disgusting mouth onto hers.”
The Senshi’s faces fell blank as a dangerous fire burned within them. Not only was Usagi tortured mercilessly, Prince Cirius had also molested her. If he were still alive they would have made him suffer to no end for that alone.
Endymion raised a shaking hand to his forehead, “We . . . we must do our best to-” then suddenly ceased speaking, his mouth pursing into a grim, quivering line.
Princess Mars immediately took over, “We must be there for Usagi. Whatever she needs, whenever she needs it.” Endymion gave Mars a discreet nod of thanks as she gripped his arm briefly, showing him that they were just as concerned for him as they were for Usagi.
Venus burned with rage and added, “On top of everything Usagi just found out that she only has a week before who knows how many wars and will outlive her entire family.”
Mercury voiced an inner thought. “If the Queen is correct, and all of this happened for a reason . . . For Usagi to be able to face this new future, how strong does she have to be?”
Silence descended as it dawned upon them that perhaps all of this was inevitable like the Queen had said. That it had to happen in order to prepare them for what was coming. Apprehension couldn’t help but surface due to fear of the unknown. A few of them looked up to the sky, wondering what the hell was going to show up at their doorstep in a week’s time.
Mercury summoned her newly advanced, fully loaded palmtop now equipped with loads of stunning features and holographic projection. She began tapping furiously feeling more in control when trying to solve a problem. “I’m going to dig up cutting-edge resources on post-traumatic stress disorder and hopefully find some successful case studies, maybe that will give us some direction.”
“Great idea Ami,” Jupiter encouraged, “We should probably-”
In the midst of discussion they turned to look at Sailor Saturn whom they didn’t even notice was missing. They then noticed a small group of people huddling at the top of the stairs. There stood the Tsukino’s, The Aino’s, Ms. Mizuno, Motoki, Umino, and Naru. The sight of their loved ones ripped the inner Senshi back to a reality they had temporarily forgotten. The staggering developments of the last few hours definitely needed their attention, but they recognized the pressing nature of their other reality, and could only imagine how their family and friends must be feeling. The inner Senshi began walking towards them gravely.
The Hino front door suddenly burst open commanding everyone’s attention, revealing Queen Selenity and Princess Serenity striding out of the house hip to hip. The serene pair laughed melodically with their arms affectionately intertwined behind them. The Queen and her daughter radiated happiness, but the Senshi were the only ones able to comprehend how shocking this scene actually was.
Princess Serenity was laughing lightheartedly, truly carefree. The Senshi were struck into confused silence upon witnessing the brilliant light sparkling in the summer sky blue of her eyes.
It was Usagi . . . the Usagi they knew, loved, and cherished; free of trauma and devoid of misery.
The Senshi continued to stare at her in disbelief wondering what the hell had happened when Princess Serenity’s musical laugh subsided upon noticing her family. She became deathly still the moment she saw them.
Ikuko gasped in recognition, “Usagi?!”
Serenity trembled, now becoming fully aware of what her family must have gone through. She dashed over to them, becoming clumsier and more ‘Usagi-like’ the closer she came, now noticing their astonished expressions. Slowing to stand directly in front of them, Serenity’s lip quivered.
“Mom . . .” she whispered, staring at Ikuko, “Dad . . .” Then she locked eyes with her excited younger brother, “Shingo,” she breathed with tender, watery eyes.
Serenity was about to throw herself into her mother’s arms when she noticed their wide-eyed gazes taking in the silvery whiteness of her hair, the crescent moon blazing on her brow, and the blindingly white, elegant gown she wore.
As the Tsukino’s attempted to conceal their awe it suddenly occurred to Usagi that her family had to feel overwhelmed and completely lost. Serenity’s appearance shifted immediately. Her typical street clothes replaced her pure white dress, the crescent Moon disappeared from her brow, and her silky white hair slowly tinted blonde. There was a sharp, collective gasp.
Ignoring their astonishment Usagi threw herself in her mother’s arms. Ikuko accepted her daughter fiercely but could not utter a word for everything was just too astounding. Kenji embraced his wife and his daughter, relieved that Usagi was safe but also remained mutely shocked.
Mars whispered to Mercury, “I totally thought the white hair was going to be permanent. Didn’t you?”
Mercury stifled a laugh.
While family and friends stared at Usagi blankly in complete silence, Usagi responded by blushing deep pink. She looked downwards feeling embarrassed and shy.
“Come on you guys,” she said quietly but heartfelt. “It’s still me you know, the same Usagi you’ve always known.” She paused for a moment then raised her head with a glowing, familiar smile, “I just happen to have a lot of responsibilities, that’s all.”
She suddenly launched herself at Motoki, then Naru, and soon everyone found themselves laughing and socializing with Usagi like they did before they knew she was Sailor Moon.
Queen Selenity gracefully slipped into the Senshi’s midst while Usagi’s happy reunion took place.
“Your Majesty,” Endymion began in haste lacking all comprehension, “Usako, she . . . She seems. She seems like-”
“She seems completely normal,” Princess Venus finished while studying Usagi suspiciously. Everyone was floored. Usagi was either the best actor they had ever seen or something really strange was going on.
Prior to the onslaught of questions Queen Selenity confessed, “To be honest with you I am not supposed to interfere the way I just did, but I didn’t care.” She explained further, “While I was comforting Serenity I used my abilities to distance her suffering by selectively bending time.”
Uranus had to ask, “You did what?”
The Queen could not take her joyous eyes off of her daughter. “To Serenity, all of the suffering she has just endured now feels as if it happened years ago.” She looked back to the Senshi, “I accelerated the ‘time heals all wounds’, if you will.”
The helplessness and despair each of the Senshi felt concerning Usagi’s well-being mildly evaporated once they understood what the Queen had said. Consumed in speechless gratitude they could only stare at her wistfully.
Queen Selenity became pensive, admitting, “Serenity has only one week left of this life. It was the least I could do for her.”
When Selenity met Endymion’s eyes she hesitated for a moment. The relief and gratitude billowing out of him felt as intense as the energy pouring out of a dying star.
The attention of Usagi’s group began to turn their way and Artemis quickly suggested, “You should all power down.”
The Senshi had temporarily forgotten how strange they must look.
“Just think of it like closing a valve,” Luna offered.
Following their advice each of them shifted and powered down to their usual, Tokyo-born selves.
At that moment the two groups collided. Returning to jovial spirits a little too easily Mamoru put a playful arm around his best friend’s shoulders. “It’s good to see you Motoki. You’ve got to fill me in on the last four months buddy, I need updates.”
Motoki choked on pure air, “A-? . . . MAMORU!!!!! WHAT THE HELL MAN!? YOU WANT UPDATES FROM ME?!” Motoki grabbed Mamoru forcefully by the collar of his shirt, “YOU HAVE TO TELL ME WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON!!!”
Mamoru winced playfully as Motoki continued ranting, “You’re a superhero?! I mean, holy shit Mamoru! How the hell did that happen?! What created you? Mutant insect bite? Meteorite radiation? A secret government program? Did the government force you to do this?”
Mamoru sweat dropped while Motoki rambled on, “Wait, don’t tell me you were born like this. You were born like this weren’t you? So, what? Are you like a genetically modified test tube baby from some secret society lab or something cuz, I don’t know man but that is some seriously messed up-”
Ami approached her mother then surprised the older woman by throwing her arms around her. Ms. Mizuno’s chin length black hair swayed from the force. She embraced her daughter tightly.
“Ami! I thought that I’d never see you again!”
They held each other quietly for a moment until Ami squeaked out, “I’m sorry.”
Ms. Mizuno pulled back wiping away her tears, “I guess this explains all of your mysterious disappearances.”
Ami looked adorably guilty but her mother continued, “You’re excuses were so creative and well executed that I didn’t even notice how often you were breaking your commitments!”
Ami smiled sheepishly and Ms. Mizuno became serious and impatient, “You have to tell me, how are you Sailor Mercury?! What does it all mean?-”
Minako stood in front of her parents wearing an awkward ‘got caught in the cookie jar’ smile.
“Well . . . I guess you know.”
Her father threw up his hands, “Know what?! We barely know anything!”
Mrs. Aino appeared more relaxed. “It kind of makes sense now in a strange way.”
Minako appeared stunned, “It does?”
Her mother shook her head with a knowing grin, “Even back in London I would catch you sneaking out in the middle of the night at thirteen years old. Up until four months ago I could never figure out why I never stopped you or brought it up. Any mother in her right mind would have grabbed you by your neck to knock some sense into you. I couldn’t understand why I never said or did anything about it, but now I do.”
Minako crushed them both in a massive hug.
Usagi led her parents straight to Queen Selenity. Ikuko and Kenji were blatantly nervous looking at the six-foot tall, goddess-like woman. They weren’t quite sure who she was exactly but they assumed that she was related to Usagi in some way since they looked remarkably alike. They also surmised that the woman had to be someone of great importance because the vibe she gave off was definitely not casual.
The Queen’s eyes flowed with honour and joy while the Tsukino’s fidgeted chronically.
Usagi beamed like sunshine holding both of her mother’s hands and her crystal blue eyes glanced happily between them, “Mom, Dad, I’d like you meet Selenity.”
Kenji and Ikuko tensed but bowed respectfully.
The golden crescent moon on the woman’s forehead was noticed immediately and the divine essence radiating from her was palpable. Her hair was just like Usagi’s but powdery grey and she captivated them with her dreamy, greyish-blue eyes. The Tsukino’s deadpanned when the regal woman bowed deeply before them while they struggled to remain composed.
“I am very honoured to meet you Ikuko, Kenji. Usagi’s parents.”
Usagi continued smiling as she attempted to fill in the gaps, “Selenity was once Queen of the Moon Kingdom and the Silver Millennium.”
Ikuko and Kenji blinked mutely. Was this the woman Luna had mentioned?
Usagi blurted out, “She is also my mother . . . back when I was Serenity of the Moon.”
The Tsukino’s shot surprised looks at Usagi, now remembering the small tale Luna told them that fateful day all hell broke loose.
Usagi noticed their intense astonishment and quickly tried to patch the situation, “But that was over 11,000 years ago, so-,”
Her parents wide-eyed the monarch before them, wondering how such a meeting was even possible if she was truly that ancient. Usagi rubbed the back of her neck in defeat, “I don’t think I’m doing this right.”
Queen Selenity thoroughly enjoyed the dynamic she sensed between the Tsukino’s and their daughter. The nuances exchanged were hardly noticeable but the Queen picked up on everything, for the first time clearly seeing the difference between Usagi and Serenity. Though Serenity would always be apart of Usagi the Queen could easily tell that ‘Usagi’ would always be the most dominant. As it should be.
Selenity swooped in for the save, “What Usagi is trying to say is, yes, I am also her mother. That was in a completely different time and place . . . ancient history really. Here and now my Serenity is your daughter, Tsukino Usagi. Both of you are the primary reason why Sailor Moon is who she is. Her strength and her fire come from you and from being born on this breathtaking planet. I am very honoured to be able to meet you both in person.”
The Tsukino’s smiled warmly but nervously. An ancient Moon queen was honouring them. Kenji glanced down and spotted a stain on his shirt from lunch and just wanted to die.
Thoroughly enjoying the feeling of being at home in her temple robes, Rei walked over to her grandfather who sat quietly on the engawa observing the scene. He buried his arms in his sleeves as she sat down, eyeing him peripherally.
“You heard everything didn’t you?” She assumed.
“I did.” He admitted peacefully.
Rei nodded solemnly, not knowing what to say.
“It’s all quite amazing.”
Rei looked at him seriously, “You really think so?”
“Well, I knew that you were warriors and related to the planets somehow, but I had no idea it was like all that.”
Rei was deathly silent, not knowing how to take such a statement.
“It’s so much more beautiful and complex than I ever imagined. I am very proud to be your grandfather Rei.”
Her eyes warmed as he said, “Maybe our guests would like some tea.”
Rei nodded in understanding then slipped into the house making her way to the kitchen.
Rei sighed heavily while contemplating the potential lifetime ahead of them as she navigated the halls. Upon approaching the kitchen Rei experienced a strong psychic pulse ripple through her body. Before she could even wonder what it meant Rei stepped into the kitchen to see Yuuichirou standing silently in the corner, arms crossed in deep thought.
“Yuuichirou!” Rei belted out, half startled.
“Rei-san.” Yuuichirou quickly straightened up and looked at her intently.
Now able to see him properly, Rei faltered. Yuuichirou looked like a completely different person. His hair had been cut short making his uniquely chiseled face completely visible. She noticed that his eyes had to be the clearest hazel she had ever seen in a human being. Yuuichirou seemed taller as well, only because he wasn’t slouching and meek like usual. Yuuichirou stood in front of her with an entirely different demeanor; he looked confident, strong, and intelligent. A sudden spark of attraction raced up her spine. He was absolutely gorgeous. Rei stubbornly dismissed the sensation however.
“So,” she walked over to lean against the counter opposite him, “You’ve changed.”
“It would seem so, yea.” He said.
They smiled awkwardly at each other. Yuuichirou continued with complete authenticity, “It’s really, really good to see you Rei.”
He seemed to relax when Rei looked down in order to hide her blush. Yuuichirou gestured to his hair and face, “It’s been an intense four months.”
Rei felt a sting of empathy. She couldn’t even imagine what it must have been like for everyone during the four months they were allegedly missing. However, no one could begin to imagine what the Senshi had been forced to deal with during that time as well.
Rei casually brushed the bangs off of her face, “Well, I guess you know about my alter ego huh?”
Yuuichirou stared into her piercing, violet eyes and Rei was secretly astonished at the new boldness of his character, considering that he had never looked her directly in the eyes for very long before.
Rei remained carefully neutral, staring right back.
His unnaturally hazel eyes appeared to sparkle playfully, “You’re one of the infamous Sailor Senshi; Sailor Mars.”
Before she could respond he said, “What I didn’t know until just now was that you’ve been forcibly reincarnated. You are originally from the planet Mars but you are also from Earth now, and you are the Princess of Mars as well.”
Rei gawked at him. She had no clue that he had heard their pivotal talk with Queen Selenity. He knew much more than she had ever intended to tell him.
Rei’s mind screamed, “Dammit! What must he think of me now?! This is exactly why we didn’t want anyone finding out. People will completely misunderstand and think that we’re different from them. But that’s not the case at all. We’re human just like everyone else.”
Rei gripped the counter, “Does that bother you?” She asked in a fiercely independent tone, suggesting that she could care less what he said though knew deep down she cared way too much.
Yuuichirou stood up straight crossing his arms over his chest, “Does it bother me that you’re a Sailor Senshi as well as royalty from another planet protecting Earth from evil forces?”
Rei’s lip almost quivered, fearing what he would say when Yuuichirou stifled a knowing laugh. He grabbed Rei aggressively by the arm and pulled her into him, his lips hovering above hers. Rei’s surprise was so complete that her mind ceased to function.
Yuuichirou quietly confessed, “I love you, Rei.” Then his lips descended upon hers. Without a moment lost Rei’s arms wrapped around his neck as they fervently massaged their lips together. Her head felt pleasantly dizzy. Considering the events of the past twenty-four hours Rei had to admit that she was as unstable as everyone else and needed something like this more than she realized. In the midst of their kiss Rei discovered that she had been in love with Yuuichirou for a long time and never admitted it until that very moment. As if in response to her thoughts he intensified the kiss, pressing his lips and tongue further, fiercely circling his arms around her waist. Rei’s silky, violet-black hair swayed in sync with their rhythms when she suddenly remembered what the Queen had said,
“Unless you have an untimely death, you will now live many, many centuries aging very slowly once you’ve reached adult maturity.”
Rei abruptly broke their kiss and tried to place some distance between them. Oddly, he let her slip away.
Yuuichirou’s eyes remained closed, as if purposefully saving the memory. Back leaning against her trusty countertop Rei murmured, “Umm . . .”
He saved her the trouble of coming up with something to say, “Since I found out all about you it would only be fair for me to even the score by telling you about myself.”
Rei looked perplexed, “What do you mean? I already know that you are from a wealthy family and you began wandering Japan in search of your true self.”
Yuuichirou looked down and smiled, “You’re right, I am from a wealthy family,” his eyes shifted towards hers, “and I have wandered . . .”
Rei’s powerful senses suddenly began to pick up on something very peculiar. It wasn’t a hostile sensation but it was heavy, mystical, and creeping up strongly. Her eyes narrowed warily when he suddenly said, “My name isn’t Yuuichirou and I am not Japanese.”
Rei seemed to jump out of her skin and instantly leapt away from him, crashing into the fridge. The reason she had freaked out was because he spoke to her telepathically. His mouth did not move.
She telepathically bellowed back at him, “What the hell is going on here?! Since when are you telepathic?! And if Yuuichirou is not your name then what is and where the hell do you come from?”
He could tell that Rei was now deathly serious and completely on her guard. He had the distinct feeling that she would spring into action at a moments notice if anything went awry.
He quickly raised his hands in surrender and telepathically continued, “You know I would never hurt you. My real name is Chiro.”
“Chiro huh?” Challenged Rei, “so, where are you from and why have you deceived us all these years?”
Yuuichirou, now Chiro, kept his demeanor relaxed in hopes of getting Rei to join him, “You might not believe this . . . but I am from a planet called Ryxis.”
Rei was dumbfounded to say the least, and in trademark fashion fell back on anger as her first line of defense.
“Ryxis?” Rei sifted through her regained knowledge of all planets known during the Silver Millennium and exclaimed, “Never heard of it!”
Chiro responded gently, “It’s on the other side of the galaxy, close to the centre. We’re small and quite young. Ryxis would be next to impossible to detect from all the way out here.”
“Is that right?” Chided Rei, now pissed off at being on the other side of deception.
“Yes,” Chiro admitted seriously.
Rei could easily discern that he was telling the truth and rolled her eyes in supreme annoyance when flashes of their heated kiss tore through her head. That was when she thought he was Yuuichirou, and now she had no idea who this man was anymore.
“So,” Rei telepathically demanded with a flailing right arm, “What would a guy from the other side of the galaxy be doing on Earth?”
Chiro took a friendly step towards her as Rei took a defensive step back, “I was sent here undercover to ascertain the whereabouts of someone. Something unexpected happened on my journey and I ended up here well before I was supposed to. Through my visions I was guided to this temple for reasons I couldn’t know until I realized that Sailor Soldier’s operated in the area.”
His mental voice softened considerably, “And I also got to know you, Rei. And now I find out that I live under the same roof as the Princess and Sailor Solider of Mars.”
“Yea, well, so what?!” Blew Rei, “Where the hell is the significance?”
“It’s significant,” he said, “because I am the Sailor Soldier of Ryxis.”
Rei gasped out loud but continued telepathically, “You-You’re a Sailor Soldier?!”
At that exact moment Makoto sauntered into the kitchen, “Rei, your grandfather said . . . that . . .”
The tall brunette slowed to a stop upon finding Rei and Yuuichirou staring silently but intensely at each other. Makoto could sense the heightened electrical currents easily.
“Okaaay,” she started awkwardly, “is everything alright in here?” Makoto then noticed Yuuichirou’s shorter hair and drop-dead features. “Woah, Yuuichirou! Look at you! You’re . . . well . . . you’re hot if you don’t mind my saying.”
Chiro effortlessly slipped back into the character of Yuuichirou. He slouched a little and laughed bearishly while rubbing the back of his head, “Uh, thanks Makoto.” He then made his way to the door and slipped out saying, “I’ll let you ladies get to it. We’ll talk later.”
As Chiro walked down the hall he telepathically whispered to Rei, “Please don’t say anything to the others yet. They deserve a week with one less thing to worry about.”
Back in the kitchen Makoto raised an eyebrow looking at her fiery friend, “What the hell was that all about?”
Rei opened her mouth slightly, hesitated, and then closed it. Makoto knew something was up but also knew there was never getting anything out of Rei until she was good and ready. Swinging her ponytail out of the way Makoto dove into the fridge and surfaced with various items. “Well, I don’t think tea is going to cut it. The conversation out there is just getting started and your grandfather encouraged me to whip up a few snacks.”
Rei just nodded, “Uh huh.”
She filled up the kettle and placed it on the stove staring dreamily into the wall all the while. Chiro’s passionate kiss fluttered through her mind and her cheeks flushed with fire. Makoto saw this out of the corner of her eye and smiled knowingly while washing the vegetables. Makoto knew that look a mile away.
While the happy group congregated in the temple courtyard Haruka, Michiru, and Hotaru stood observantly under a tree respectively out of the way.
Against the tree with her arms tightly crossed Haruka shifted her hair out of her eyes while staring at Usagi. “It makes you love her so much more, if that was even possible.”
Michiru looked up at her inquisitively.
Haruka explained, “On top of going through what Sailor Moon has to go through, and at such a young age too, she still had to come home to a family every day and keep up appearances. It must have been exhausting.”
Haruka drew Michiru in tightly as Michiru confessed, “I cringe when I think of the self-righteous attitude we showed towards them when we first met. They were the ones teaching us in the end, and all because of Usagi.”
Michiru could feel tears welling up in her aquamarine eyes but she held them back. “I have never seen such strength and compassion in a human being. Usagi is truly remarkable.”
Hotaru watched the reunion happily, “Outer Senshi, inner Senshi, it really doesn’t matter anymore. We are one unit now and will protect this planet a million times over if that’s what it takes.”
In traditional fashion all three of them nodded their heads in unison; each affirming their commitment to the possible centuries ahead serving on equal ground with the inner’s under Cosmic Sailor Moon.
Haruka straightened up, “Come on, we should go home and catch up with them later. There is nothing we can do today. Everyone should rest.”
Michiru felt a disturbing vibration, “Leaving now is a good idea,” she added, “Who knows when Usagi will start asking about Setsuna.”
In a quick double flash each of them changed into Senshi form then teleported to their Tokyo penthouse.
Usagi observed their disappearance while chatting with Naru.
Usagi fluttered through the congregation like a butterfly making everyone feel comfortable and at ease. Mamoru quietly removed himself from the group to stand near the Hino front door with an intense look upon his face. It was clear that he was restless and uncomfortable as he stared Usagi down, following her every gesture and expression half a courtyard away. Mamoru’s thoughts raced through his mind when Queen Selenity appeared next to him.
She cut straight to the point, “Something is bothering you.” It was not a question.
Mamoru continued to study Usagi. “Just a few hours ago she was living a nightmare . . . and look at her now . . . like nothing ever happened.”
He turned directly towards the Queen with a serious stare, “You really distanced the experience for her?”
Selenity nodded, “Yes. It remains clear in her memory, but once I ‘aged’ the torturous experience it meant that it would no longer affect the living of her life.”
Mamoru had no words to utter as Selenity observed her daughter. “I knew her parents were coming and I would never let them see her like that. Besides,” she exhaled sadly, “You all have an arduous journey ahead of you, I can at least give her one week of care-free happiness.”
The silence between them communicated Mamoru’s eternal gratitude and Selenity’s contentment without fail. The Queen turned to leave but spoke back to him over her shoulder, “Make every moment count.”
All too soon she was talking to someone else and Mamoru continued to stand alone staring intently at the Tsukino’s. After about a minute of heavy debate he gave up.
“To hell with it,” he muttered, and then burst to life walking in long, hurried strides.
Makoto and Rei came out of the house and grabbed everyone’s attention inviting them inside for food and drink. The autumn chill caused everyone to eagerly file into the house while deep in various conversations. Minako and Makoto moved to either side of Usagi, interlocking their arms as they went in. Makoto and Minako were elated that Usagi was with them and her usual, light-hearted self.
Once everyone trickled into the greeting hall the Senshi were quick to the food since they could not remember the last time they had anything to eat. Lagging behind substantially, Ikuko and Kenji came in whispering hotly to each other. Kenji was irate, “Ikuko!”
His wife turned a stern eye towards him also whispering heatedly, “Kenji, don’t start! Not here and not now!”
Kenji became even more agitated, “Come on now!”
Ikuko dropped a stare her husband had never witnessed before, “I’m warning you . . .”
Kenji felt its icy chill and hastily kept his mouth shut.
The Aino’s came towards them, plates of gourmet food in hand, “Is everything alright?”
Ikuko turned and smiled brightly, “As good as can be expected!”
Kenji just crossed his arms in extreme annoyance, saying nothing.
In the bathroom Usagi washed her hands slowly and looked up to her reflection in the mirror. The water continued to run as she stared into her own face as if looking at it for the first time. Usagi stood transfixed on her own eyes for a few moments, barely recognizing them. She then mysteriously snapped out of her trance, dried her hands, and left the bathroom.
Usagi turned a corner to see Mamoru standing against the wall with his hands in his pockets, patient and nonchalant. She naturally gravitated towards him and took his wrist between her hands.
“What is it Mamo-chan?” she asked seriously, obviously worried.
His eyes glanced sideways at her. She was adorable looking up at him so worried and expectant. Mamoru’s heart warmed from just looking at her. He honestly believed that it would have been months before he would see anything other than misery on her face. Mamoru wordlessly took her by the hand, opened the sliding wooden door behind him and guided her out to a small, private courtyard. He swiftly shut the door and let the pristine solitude encompass them.
Still running off of the day’s events Usagi clenched her fists and turned away from him, “Something’s wrong isn’t it?” Her voice now low. “There’s something else, right? What? What is it now?! Just spit it out so we can get all the bad news out of the way!”
Usagi surged with tension that dissipated entirely when she sensed Mamoru directly behind her. She felt his warm hands on her shoulders and heat flooded her cheeks when she heard his smooth voice next to her ear.
“Usako.” He breathed deeply, “I thought you were lost to me forever.”
Usagi remained silent.
Mamoru wrapped his arms securely around her stomach, holding her tightly. The intoxicating aroma of the sweetness that was only Usagi threatened to completely overwhelm him. He was grateful beyond all comprehension that the Queen had healed Usagi’s pain, but for Mamoru it was only yesterday he was locked in a stranger’s bedroom utterly heart broken. Barely a day ago he had been lying on the floor drunk out of his mind in swirling pitch darkness. Mamoru had laid there for hours clutching the shirt she had worn the day before she disappeared, desperately trying to hold on to Usagi’s lingering scent that only got fainter . . . threatening to erase her very existence.
Mamoru snapped back to the present remembering who was in his arms and rested his chin between her odangos. Usagi smiled hypnotically and with her eyes still closed rested the back of her head against his chest. Her hands instinctively migrated along his arm to grip him tightly.
Mamoru was lost in the bliss of holding Usagi. This was exactly where she was supposed to be. He looked down to the top of her head, “The past few weeks made me realize something very important.”
“What’s that?” Usagi inquired, riding the waves of her own contentment.
“Life without you is not worth living.”
Her nose picked up the pleasant scent of roses. Usagi opened her eyes to see a blood red rose intermingled with a pure white one blossoming right in front of her lips. She smiled excitedly while inhaling one of her favourite scents in the Universe. With one arm Mamoru spun Usagi around to face him, holding the roses between them.
With a deep, slightly strained voice Mamoru confessed, “I need you, Usako.”
He pulled her closer, pressing his forehead into hers, “With me.”
Mamoru suddenly dropped the roses and impulsively slid his hands down to her hips, pulling her even closer, “Always.”
By this point Usagi was officially drowning in the depths of his enticing deep blues, which were the colour of the ocean, she was sure of it. Usagi’s throat dried up and light-headedness crept up on her. No matter how many times she tried to prepare herself, just the closeness of Mamoru could throw her.
Their eyes were now locked together and burning intensely barely inches apart, the energy between them pulsating. Completely entranced by the woman in his arms Mamoru’s warm lips brushed hers lightly.
“Usako?” He breathed heatedly.
Usagi could barely keep her wits, “. . . Mamo-chan?”
Mamoru’s eyes searched hers hungrily. “Marry me.” He implored.
Usagi gasped. As if a switch had been thrown her eyes filled with sparkling tears.
In response he brushed against hers lips again, “Be my wife.”
Before Mamoru could even wonder what she would say Usagi vaulted onto her toes and wrapped her arms fiercely around his neck. Her heart exploded. On the deepest subconscious level she had been in love with Mamoru since the day she threw that crumpled up, failed test on his head. This time around it wasn’t Endymion she fell for and it wasn’t even Tuxedo Kamen, though he was close. It was Mamoru. She had always loved Mamoru. Usagi would never have admitted it in the early days but it was true, and for the past two years she had done nothing but dream of the day when she and Mamoru would be married. Usagi could barely comprehend that at that moment . . . the love of both her lives, the most gorgeous man on Earth was asking to marry her. In the privacy of her head Usagi was giggling like a mental patient. It was now, only after he had asked her that Usagi realized she couldn’t think of a more perfect time.
Usagi’s silence was starting to alarm him. “Usako?” he asked, sounding slightly unsure. He could feel her tears pouring down his neck, “So . . . will you marry me?”
Usagi peeled herself off of him and wiped her tears away, “Of course I’ll marry you!”
Mamoru’s heart skipped a beat, “You-you will?”
She pushed him playfully in the chest as he stumbled back, “Honestly, Mamo-chan!” Then she scooted closer, grasping his hand and pressing her ripe body against his, cheeks flushed furiously pink, “I have always dreamed of being one with you.” She rolled her eyes shyly, “ . . . like you didn’t know.”
One side of Mamoru’s mouth curved up in a goofy, breathless smile as he squeezed her hands and kissed her deeply.
They lost themselves in each other.
Usagi’s answer catapulted Mamoru far past cloud nine. While thoroughly lost in the euphoric moment, the many years of pent up sexual frustration had absolutely no problem barreling past his usual Fort Knox defense system. Overflowing with joy Mamoru instinctively intensified the kiss to the point where he was almost drowning her. Enveloping her petite body Mamoru’s arms and hands seemed to move on their own wandering all over the contours of her back and caressing the soft skin of her neck. Usagi’s excited breath came out shallow and hot when his hand began drifting lower, barely passing over the plump of her ass.
With his tongue exploring her desperately Usagi’s mind had completely shut down. Mamoru was finally responding to her like she had been secretly hoping for the past two years at least.
Mamoru was seconds away from gripping her ass firmly like nobody’s business just as the fingers of his other hand slid aggressively underneath the strap of her bra. Then an image of Prince Cirius torturing Usagi shot through Mamoru’s mind. He froze. He could see Prince Cirius beating her, touching her, kissing her, and Mamoru burned with shame.
On the verge of devouring her with Usagi seconds away from responding with a vengeance, Mamoru twitched. His hands swiftly migrated back to her shoulders and he pulled her safely into a loving but innocent hug. Usagi could feel his heart racing a mile a minute just like hers was, but she was confused again. Usagi was aware of her rapid physical development over the past two years, filling her clothes in the best of places. She had studied herself in the mirror many times and wondered what it was about her that Mamoru didn’t seem to find desirable. Guys everywhere checked her out all the time, but she was very self-conscious of the fact that her own boyfriend wouldn’t even try to intensify their relationship. Over time it began to play a number on Usagi’s self-esteem.
As soon as Mamoru exhaled to release his tension, Usagi froze in his embrace.
He looked down at her alarmed, “What? What’s wrong?”
Usagi looked like she had the fear of God in her, “My father!”
Mamoru relaxed then chuckled, “I already spoke to him and your mother. They both gave me their blessing.”
Usagi blinked at him several times, “My father gave you his blessing for my hand in marriage?” She asked flatly, laden with sarcastic disbelief.
Mamoru shrugged, “He didn’t want to at first and I honestly thought he was going to kill me, but your mother handled it wonderfully. I swear that woman should be a politician. Before he even knew it your father was shaking my hand.” Mamoru grinned, very thankful, “I love your mother.”
A huge weight lifted off of Usagi’s shoulders and she leaned in when Mamoru kissed her forehead. Usagi almost purred, “So when did you want to have the wedding?” She inquired, “I don’t know how we can even go about planning one while fighting these wars.”
Mamoru kissed her cheek softly, “I was thinking two days from now.”
Usagi felt the butterflies resident in her stomach swarm like crazy, “Two . . . days?!”
Mamoru kissed her other check, “If it was up to me I would marry you right now, but you should go home with your family tonight, and you deserve a night with the girls as well.”
He pulled away from her to caress her face, “Just like any other person.”
A tear slipped out of her eye. Usagi was grateful that she was going to have a husband who understood her so well.
“I love you.” She confessed earnestly.
Mamoru wrapped his arms around her as a passionate gust of wind blew around them sweeping up a flurry of red and white rose petals.
Once Usagi and Mamoru joined the lively group in the greeting hall the news was quickly shared much to Kenji’s dismay. Champagne was popped and the atmosphere turned even more jubilant. To celebrate such a magnificent love was the best thing to have happened that day.
Ikuko caught Kenji pathetically sulking in the corner and promptly ambushed him.
“When are you going to let this go?!” She demanded.
Kenji shut his eyes in lingering irritation, “She’s barely eighteen!!!”
“Yes!” admitted Ikuko, “a barely eighteen year old that has been fighting evil forces for years now! The same eighteen year old that lived on the Moon thousands of years ago! Kenji, our daughter is the Princess of the Moon!” She pointed towards the sky, “up there!”
Kenji wanted to fight back but couldn’t find anything to say. “Besides,” Ikuko added, “I don’t know what you’re complaining about. Can you think of a better husband for Usagi than the Prince of the entire planet who also happens to be a supernatural warrior? His name even means ‘protector’ Kenji!”
Kenji held his nose up in the air, indignant.
“Look at them!” she forced her husband to turn, “look at them together.”
Across the room Mamoru stood at Usagi’s side with a strong, natural grip around her waist while she melded perfectly against him.
Ikuko continued, “You can tell from here that he would die for her without a moments thought.”
Kenji continued to stare at the young couple completely missing the point and narrowed his eyes in displeasure, “Why does he have to hold her so tightly?” he obsessed.
His wife dropped her head and sighed.
“Does he have to keep her so close?! I mean, it’s not like she’s going to vanish into thin air!”
Ikuko massaged the bridge of her nose in fatigue when Kenji’s voice came back a little softer, “But I guess you’re right.”
Her eyes snapped open.
“Who better to protect our daughter than the protector of Earth itself,” he halfheartedly shrugged one shoulder, “I guess.”
His eyes softened further as he looked at his daughter. She was the gravitational centre of the room and absolutely glowing with Mamoru by her side and her Senshi all around showering them with relentless teases and congratulations.
Kenji gave up and smiled, “To be honest I have never seen Usagi this happy before.”
Ikuko took her husbands hand while Kenji looked back to his wife, “I still can’t shake the distinct feeling that we’ve lost her forever.”
Ikuko felt differently. There was a calm and proud look of acceptance in her eyes, “I don’t know what’s going to happen from here, but Usagi has important responsibilities that we don’t understand yet. One thing I know for sure is that she will never lose us. In spirit, we will always be with her.”
Later . . .
Everyone said good night and teleported themselves and family members to their respective homes. Even Makoto gladly returned to her apartment after declining the invitation from Rei to stay the night.
Mamoru on the other hand teleported Motoki and himself a few blocks away. He wanted very much to be able to walk home like he always did. It would be foolish to waste such a calm, crisp autumn night. Luckily, at such a late hour they went unnoticed.
They walked leisurely in comfortable silence until Motoki cleared his throat, “So, Mamoru?”
Mamoru tore his eyes from the starry sky, “Hm?”
“What do you say to a bachelor party tomorrow night?”
Mamoru stopped on the spot forcing Motoki to do the same. “You know, I never really thought about it.” Mamoru waved his hand dismissively, “I’m fine. There’s no need.”
Motoki rolled his eyes and resumed walking, “Honestly Mamoru, you’re still pulling the lone ranger act?”
Motoki smiled, “Look, tomorrow night I’ll go grab . . . Artemis was it? . . . and we’ll come to your place with drinks, food, and maybe some poker. Alright?”
Mamoru hesitated then smiled, “Alright, fine.”
Motoki had to ask, “Is it just me or wasn’t Artemis the name of Minako’s cat?”
“He is Minako’s cat.”
Mamoru put a hand on Motoki’s shoulder, “Don’t worry buddy, we’ll talk about all that stuff tomorrow.”
Motoki nodded dumbly, “I’ll bring lots of booze then.”
During the following twenty-four hours the Senshi submitted to an onslaught of questions from friends and family down to the minutest detail regarding their Senshi activities. In the privacy of their own homes each one of them explained everything they could while leaving out certain unnecessary details that would have given their families many sleepless nights. At first, the stories told were found to be highly fascinating since the Senshi’s loved ones were most eager to learn the details of the past few years. There were moments of profound realization when they were able to align the Senshi version of things with what was observed at the time.
As the truth was revealed and stories about the Senshi’s enemies and battles became clear, their families were astounded at how well they managed to live double lives while under constant threat. Once satisfied with the Senshi’s account of the previous few years, the Silver Millennium was introduced. Accepting that in addition to being supernatural warriors the Senshi were also forcibly reincarnated from the distant past proved to be a little difficult to swallow. It was slow going as the Senshi explained to them that thousands of years ago there were advanced civilizations all across the Solar System, whose capital was Earth’s Moon. Not only that, the Senshi explained that at the time they were also monarchs training to become the next generation of planetary leaders. It was extraordinary and baffling, but eventually accepted.
Things took a confusing turn when the Senshi related the future that didn’t exist anymore. They explained about Chibi-Usa and who she really was along with Crystal Tokyo in the thirtieth century. Once that was understood everything descended into anxiousness and chaos.
The Senshi finally found the courage to tell them about the new, unknown future they faced, filled with uncertainty and seemingly endless wars. To counteract the emotional uprising the Senshi were quick to make clear that this is the nature of their destinies and the primary reason that they exist. This is what they live to do. The Senshi also divulged the potential length of their brand new life spans. It was a difficult and overwhelming night to say the least, but it had to be done.