The city skylines looked almost all the same the world over; buildings rose and fell, steel statues clawing their way towards the moon and stars. Lights flickered as citizens illuminated or plunged themselves into darkness, the effect of a city's lights controlled by individuals as entrancing as patterned tree lights - sparkles that quickly lost their appeal when the pattern emerged. The only changes in cities around the globe came in the flavor of the streets, the neon signs that lit every corner and niche of alleyway up with a burst of sickly green brightness.
She'd followed the darkness from London, interrupting their plans before the major events came to fruition; wherever they showed up, she was chasing them, a few days or maybe a week behind. London had been their first target - she hadn't figured out why yet, but it really didn't make much of a difference to her plans - and then they'd moved on. There was a small tug at her conscience when she'd packed up her flat in the lower east end of London but it'd been squished resolutely with a short note left tacked on the inside of her door, along with a few hundred pounds in an envelope to take care of the damage to the interior of the apartment.
And now, dark blue eyes narrowing contemptuously at the city below her feet, they were in Tokyo. For no apparent reason, the youma and its masters had abandoned more profitable 'feeding' grounds just to get after Tokyo - the home of the Moon Kingdom's senshi. Red hair flying behind her like a banner and the two half-capes falling from her shoulder guards flapping with every step she ran, the senshi threw herself up into the air and off of the building's rooftop.
The youma she was chasing had managed to get a few hundred feet ahead with a neat teleportation trick. If she'd gotten the youma's observed habits right there would be a glimmer to her right or left; exactly on schedule a small twinkle caught her eyes a mere seconds before a hail of daggers did their best to draw even more blood. She'd been surprised by the attack at first, the slashes in her capes and uniform itself proof enough to that.
"This is getting ridiculous," she muttered, waiting until the last possible second before throwing herself out of the way of another barrage of daggers. They were having a fight in Tokyo city - right near the Juuban mall in fact - and no one seemed to notice it. Granted, one more handful of daggers being flung her way as she contemplated, no one else seemed to be around but there were senshi here in Tokyo that should be the ones dealing with this. It wasn't her duty to protect earth and its people, it just happened to be what she was doing at the moment; with the youma quite determined to attack her, protecting the earth and its people was more self-preservation than anything else.
Grabbing the spike from her headpiece the red-haired girl whirled it above her head, flames slowly spreading around until they created a literal disc of flames above her head. With an angry shout and a crack of the whip, the disc rushed at the youma. The next sound to pierce the silence of Tokyo's night was a human-like scream as the youma turned to ash.
According to Pluto this was supposed to have been a peaceful time period. Now that Galaxia had been defeated, she'd told the two advisors, there would be peace until the earth stood still for a thousand years, before the birth of Crystal Tokyo. Sadly, as the two cats flipped through the newspapers, headsets tossed aside after listening to international news reports, it didn't seem to be the case any longer. Pluto had warned both Luna and Artemis that time itself was fluid and subject to change, but this was something that she should have seen.
"We're going to have to face reality, Luna," the white cat said, one paw smoothing the fur around his ears. "We need to call a senshi meeting tonight at the temple and plan for a new enemy." His voice matched the somber and unhappy expression in his bright blue eyes, looking across the pillow to his partner.
With great care Luna closed the last newspaper, her head bowed to stare at the headline of the American's Daily Sun. Letting out a sigh Luna nodded after only a short while, red eyes closing. "I agree. We'll gather the senshi tonight at Hikawa Temple." Looking up at the white cat, Luna gave him a mild smile. "I suppose we've had a vacation for some time - it could have been worse." Standing up on all paws, Luna walked towards the room's open door. "I'll see you then, Artemis?" She waited until the other cat nodded before jumping out the door, breaking into a run once she arrived at the hallway.
Tsukino Usagi, the protector and keeper of the greatest power in the universe - the Imperial Silver Crystal, more commonly called the ginzuishou - arrived last to the meeting. Rei set the tea out, an indulgent smile on her face as she heard Usagi racing her way up the temple's steps. Phobos and Deimos cawed her arrival to the temple proper, Usagi giving a shriek at the unexpected sounds - the rest of the senshi inside the temple chuckled and then winced as the following sounds of a crash, bang, stumble, and then thud filled the hall. With practiced ease Rei slid the door to the room they used for meetings aside, Usagi having collided with Luna just shy of the door itself.
"Try to be on time, Usagi..." Rei murmured, rolling back the sleeves of her miko shirt as she headed back inside the room. Usagi followed Rei inside, re-adjusting her well-known hairstyle with a sheepish smile.
"Gomen, gomen," she said while brushing the dust from her clothing, "Shingo wouldn't get to sleep for a half-hour later than he used to. And then Mama and Papa were..." Usagi trailed off in a blush, coughing to clear her throat. Covering the awkward moment she settled into the open spot, looking around the room. "Where's Michiru, Haruka, Setsuna, and Hotaru? I thought this was a full senshi meeting, not just our Inner team...."
One ear flicking in annoyance, Artemis leapt up on top of the table, sitting himself on the small cushion Minako had placed there for him. "They said they would handle things in their own way." Minako, remembering how much Artemis had been seething after his visit to the Outer senshi, carefully gave him a scratch behind the ears. "They're acting just like they always have."
Ami Mizuno let out the softest sigh of the five senshi, getting out her computer and bringing up the display. The action, something so familiar to them all (and something they had all hoped was long behind them), brought the meeting to a start, Ami typing as Luna and Artemis began to speak.
"We didn't notice it at first, since we had been resting since the final battle with Sailor Galaxia, but something's up, ladies." In no-nonsense terms Luna and Artemis took turns outlining the slow emergence of sun spots, the compiled news reports from around the globe about strange outbreaks of anemia or sleepy-sickness, and then the recent reports from Tokyo itself. In silence, once the two cats had finished talking, the senshi sat; of all of the five girls, Usagi was the first one to gather her wits and speak, putting everything into concise sentences.
"I guess the Sailor Senshi have to come out of retirement, don't they?" She sounded resigned, her bright blue eyes determined and sad at the same time. Luna licked Usagi's arm comfortingly, rubbing against the girl's hand; Luna knew just how much Usagi had enjoyed being a normal, regular girl again, even if it had only managed to last a year. Standing up, Usagi managed to catch Luna in her arms, holding the cat firmly as she looked at her senshi. "Well ladies, let's go protect Tokyo."
Slightly stunned by Usagi's actual leadership ability the four girls nodded slowly, their agreement tinged with newfound respect. Luna had told them that Usagi had gotten better after the fight with Galaxia - even Mamoru had commented on it one time while visiting Rei to work in solitude on a project for his studies. But this light in her eyes, the way she was looking at Ami and asking her for possible attack sites and locations they would need to begin watching - this was new to them all. Even Artemis answered her softly-phrased questions with the deference due a princess, Luna herself managing to look so proud she was fit to burst.
"I know we never did regular patrols of the streets," Usagi began, once it seemed that she'd asked enough questions for the moment, "But we might want to begin doing it, at least until we know exactly what we're facing. If we alternate, we can also avoid being too tired to make it to classes," Usagi sent Minako a wink, the girls giggling. Even with all of the maturity the final fight against Galaxia had seemingly imparted to Usagi she still never managed to make it to class on time; she was almost always late, frequently with Minako as her hallway companion.
"Luna, Artemis-" Usagi looked at the two cats, setting Luna down onto the pillow beside the white advisor, "Is there any way we can upgrade our communicators to something that doesn't make us look like we're talking into watches?" The idea was one each of the senshi perked up at until the two advisors shook their heads against it. "Oh well," Usagi said cheerfully as she picked up a pillow and held it in her lap, "it was worth a try." The five girls broke into laughter and soon, once another round of tea was poured, they set down to planning their patrol rotations.
One by one the five black-clad Commanders stepped towards the dais, gloved hands over their left breast in a salute and show of support to their Queen as they bowed. For some of the Commanders, hair brushed and fell past their faces, strands spilling past collars to create colored curtains as they held their positions; one lone Commander's cape swept the floor with her bow. Each of them held a precise angle as they waited for their Queen to recognize their presence, military precision echoed in their posture, the clean press of their uniforms, and even the weapons that adorned their uniforms.
"Jedite," the Queen's voice - strong, passionate but commanding and alluring at the same time - called out; the Commanders still held their bows, waiting in a perfect absence of further motion. In the middle of the large Throne room Jedite's image flickered into place, the General inclining his head in a bow to his Queen. With a wave of her hand, Tanzanite stopped Jedite from any more Court formalities he might have entertained pursuing. "Report on your progress."
All of the assembled Court could see the image flicker in its place as Jedite righted himself again. Wind, absent in the Dark Kingdom for the time being, moved locks of his blonde hair, teasing some to come loose from the curls it naturally fell into; the faint impression of forest behind Jedite gave no real indication of where he was. "My Queen, the operation has begun in Tokyo, as you requested. I am gathering energy from humans who come into the park in slow increments." His pale blue eyes looked to the Queen's left and saw the five still-bowing figures, his expression changing for a half second.
If the Commanders had been granted leave to stand their own expressions would have mirrored each other’s with something more like disgust at their situation. The last time Jedite had reported to their Queen two of the Commanders had been in the field as well, managing similar operations on other parts of the globe. Now all five of them were present – the best of the Dark Kingdom’s military, forced to remain in the Kingdom and nearly forbidden from making missions of their own to help the progress on earth.
"My Queen, if I might question the-" he seemed slightly hesitant to be bringing the subject up before their Queen but still, safer due to distance, he plowed on - until Tanzanite raised her hand, an arc of black lightning leaving her fingers and hitting the General in the chest. Jedite knew better than to do anything so silly as scream at the sudden pain but he bit through his lip, hand clenching his uniform unusually tight as he sketched a bow of apology.
Lowering her hand, Tanzanite's eyes flashed over black. "You will continue your operation in Tokyo, Jedite. We are done playing with the rest of the world - we will now move on to our main objective." Tanzanite waited until Jedite had bowed one more time to her and the Court before dismissing his mirage, letting wisps of black energy fade into the floor. Her golden eyes turned to the motionless Commanders now, a smile curving her lips up into an expression remarkably like the old Queen's. "You may rise, my Commanders," she said after a long pause.
Slowly, and in order of rank and privilege, the Commanders finally righted themselves, the highest ranking officer of the group standing upright last of all. The unspoken but implied command to stand at-ease was taken by the five officers, each of them clasping hands behind their backs identically and standing with legs slightly apart for better balance. Aside from the accent piping and front panels of their uniforms (and their individual character traits of hair, face shape, build and eye colors) they could have been a single person made five times over; perhaps, Tanzanite's critical eye decided after it found every slight nuance to tell her beloved Commanders apart, it was that they had all trained together for so long that they emulated each other's stances, posturing, and habits so well. She could attest to the discipline and standards the Black Ranks held themselves to, having been second-in-command until Beryl's downfall.
“Commander Pyrite, please outline the proposal you have come to bring before me.” Tanzanite’s eyes flicked over her former commanding officer’s posture, noting the stiff neck and shoulders and the way Pyrite’s hand was curled into a tight fist when she bowed.
Stepping forward, Pyrite took two steps and halted suddenly, her cape hitting the back of her uniform with a soft tss of fabric against fabric; just as quickly as she’d stopped Pyrite dropped into another bow and then stood straight. Angling her head back, allowing her tall ponytail to fall away from her body and helping to keep her twin, long bangs from blocking her vision, Pyrite dropped her hand from her chest. “My Queen, I ask that you allow the Commanders to resume operations in our former global locations.”
Red eyes met gold ones, the four remaining Black Ranks holding their breath as Pyrite stood alone before the Queen; Jedite had been blasted via their Oath for saying the same thing – what fate was Pyrite incurring with her brash words? The silent battle raged on but slowly Pyrite showed signs of losing, flinches around the corners of her eyes before her head sunk into a bow, hand rising to fist above her left breast.
“As you wish, your Majesty.” Neither Pyrite nor Tanzanite showed anything else of their battle, simply taking the conflict in stride and moving on to the next order of business. “In that case, I ask that the Black Ranks be given permission to return to our undercover personae on earth and relocate them to Tokyo. Our various backgrounds will give us the ability to monitor our operations from the human side of earth, as well as allow us to stake out more specific targets for future attacks.”
Every Commander looked towards their Queen now, waiting for her verdict. Tanzanite leaned back into her embracing Throne, fingers reflexively moving inches above the surface of the scepter as she considered the request. Knowing her Commanders as well as she did Tanzanite knew that even if she refused their mission, most of them, if not all of them, would relocate their personas anyways. It was a small measure of freedom that her blessing would grant, and a great help towards the greater goal of once and for all destroying the cursed Moon Kingdom.
Happy Commanders made for productive, creative, and determined Commanders. She could call them back to the Dark Kingdom at whim – and she knew they would do nothing to risk their ability to relocate to earth at will – and she knew they would come. The Commanders were her most loyal of servants, the most trustworthy denizens of the Dark Kingdom. It fit into her plans to keep them happy and content and allow them to slip the leashes that Beryl had wound so tightly about the General’s throats. The Commanders would be endeared to her for their freedoms and would fight more ferociously if they worried that performance would somehow factor into the freedoms they could be granted in the future.
“Unlike my predecessor,” Tanzanite said softly, her voice still managing to carry the length and breadth of the Throne room, “I know that my Commanders work best with little more than direction from me.” Her eyes moved from Pyrite’s to stare at her Commanders, one by one charging them to abide by her decree. “All locations you live in will be accessible to your fellow Commanders – you will make your various personas relate to each other in some way so that people seeing all of you, Jedite include, together will draw no further consideration. You will assist each other in your efforts on earth.
“In addition,” Tanzanite added, her hand held up to stop the Commanders from moving, “You will report to me once every two weeks or more, if I feel necessary. I will hear your word before you are dismissed.” Steel lay under her voice now, challenging them to heed her will directly. They would find workarounds if they felt her restrictions were too much but then the Oath would catch them; her eyes fell on Krisite before they moved to Beryllium. Such precautions on her part were necessary, when the Commanders were concerned.
“I, Beryllium, do so give my word of honor.” Purple eyes met Tanzanite’s golden ones before he bowed and teleported away.
“I, Garnet, do so give my word of honor.” A sweeping bow accompanied his words, strands of dark blond hair falling around his neck before he, too, teleported away.
“I, Topaz, do so give my word of honor.” Her dark blue eyes were closed, long red hair falling around her as she dropped a low and courteous bow to her Queen.
“I, Pyrite, do so give my word of honor.” With nary a moment’s hesitation after pledging, Pyrite bowed to Tanzanite and vanished from the room.
“I, Krisite, do so give my word of honor.” Her light green eyes were devoid of humor – or any other emotion – but her voice carried clearly. With a short bow, Krisite turned on her heels and teleported before she’d taken a step away from the Queen.
In the silence left in their wake Tanzanite stood from her throne, a wave of her hand dismissing the youma gathered in the court and Throne room. For a fleeting moment the marks on her face seemed to fade a little, nothing more than a flicker of light drowning the growing black, but within a heartbeat they were once more as deep and as wide as before.
For a week, the sailor senshi had been on the trail of the new evil that had begun to work in Tokyo; Rei felt fleeting tremors in the Sacred Fire only moments before they would seem to strike, and their patterns fit nothing the Senshi had encountered before. Instead of attacking for as long as possible, this new enemy had somehow perfected what Makoto grumpily termed the ‘surgical strike’ technique – five, maybe ten victims all within a hundred meters of each other, all drained as quickly and cleanly as possible. Whoever was behind these attacks allowed nothing to run loose, nothing to cause more than a minor stir in the normal, every day life of the city. Mercury worried that if this was their normal pattern of attacking there stood a good chance that the enemy had been working inside the confines of Tokyo for far longer than they guessed.
Their lucky break came in the dead of night, only a sliver of moonlight and stars making their way through the heavy clouds. On patrol that evening, Rei and Makoto had decided to follow a large group of high schoolers coming back late from an event on their campus. Their hunch paid off when a shadow began slinking after the group. Makoto called for the other senshi to transform and meet them en route, Rei and Makoto themselves slipping off to henshin before returning to following the group again.
A cloud passed between the moon and stars when the enemy struck, the sailor senshi arriving in time to see thin wire wrapped around each of the student’s necks, their energy drained by a woman whose hands were made entirely of the same fine wires.
“Mercury,” Sailor Moon called out, her hand grasping the Moon Tier tightly, “Make sure you get every reading possible on this enemy! We need to figure out who they are and what they want!” Usagi wasn’t the best leader yet though – it would take practice – but at least she knew better than to micromanage her fellow senshi. While Sailor Moon busied herself with small bursts of power from the Tier to fight off the enemy, the other senshi attacked the fine wire draining everyone’s energy.
Whoever they were fighting though, they were strong. Sailor Mercury’s Aqua Rhapsody could cut through only a few wires and each of the senshi found the same problem. Even Sailor Moon, calling upon greater bursts of power from the Moon Tier, found it hard to fight the enemy, the senshi forced to go on the defensive against her.
“I have to say,” a voice greeted the senshi, the woman deferentially bowing to the newest arrival and withdrawing from all of her attacks, “You stood up much better than we were led to believe you might.” There was a click-clack as the voice’s owner walked forward, the sound that of slightly heeled boots hitting the pavement as he walked.
“Youma Taii-tsu,” he called out sharply, the youma bowing again and almost scurrying to the man’s side, the cut lengths of finger wires resolving themselves into woven daggers branching off of her hands. Pointing a deep-purple glove at the knot of senshi the man simply flicked his fingers upwards. There was no attack sprouting from his fingers, no words pouring off of his lips, merely that single gesture.
The youma understood the signal – the senshi did not. Taii-tsu took a single step towards the senshi before another voice broke the near-silence, drawing every head to turn up towards the sky and stare.
“Vortex Ignition!” A torrent of flames rained down from the sky, creating a wall of fire between Taii-tsu and the sailor senshi the man had deemed her targets. Fearing the flames the youma drew back, stepping behind the man, knives withdrawing into mere wisps of sharpened claws attached to her hands.
Jumping down from her perch, the woman who’d thrown the attack landed between the youma and man and the sailor senshi, facing the enemies. Red hair hung past her waist, hitting the backs of her knees and her two brown capes fluttered in the light breeze as she stood. Raising her hand, lamplight glittered off of matching bracelets around her wrists, the blood-red garnets reflecting and magnifying every stray ray of light trapped within their grasp.
“Are those-?” Before Jupiter had even finished voicing the question, the four Inner senshi stepped between Sailor Moon and the newcomer, Jupiter and Mars blocking any possible access with outstretched arms.
The man sneered, forgetting the five senshi of Tokyo in favor of taunting the single senshi directly in front of him. “I was wondering when you were going to show up here. Following us around like a dog-”
The woman grinned, head tilting back a fraction. “Someone had to stop your plans, Commander.” A slight turn to her left allowed the lamps to reflect off her polished gold shoulder guards, her smile widening as the Commander was forced to lift an arm up to stop the metal’s glare.
“Our business isn’t with you, senshi,” the Commander spit out, taking a step back and to his left to remove himself from the glare. A subtle movement of his hand began directing the youma, the man himself keeping his attention focused on the irksome sailor senshi.
Dark blue eyes narrowed, her gaze transferring to the youma and then back at the Commander. Anger etched in her brows, the woman rose her hand to grab the spire from her headpiece, brown gloves a stark contrast against the gold of her headpiece and the red of her hair. Breaking the spire off, she jerked her hand towards the ground, flames igniting from the gold griped by her hand to form a short whip.
“Sailor senshi,” she nearly barked, her voice short and crisp, “Take care of the youma. I’ll deal with the Commander.” She didn’t wait to see if the senshi would follow her orders, or whether or not they even knew how to deal with the youma – she just assumed they would handle it. Cracking the whip against the ground, smoke rising from where the flames licked the pavement, she quickly cracked it forward again.
“You’ll deal with me, will you,” the Commander taunted, taking a step back to invite the sailor senshi closer. “Well, then we simply must get on a first-name basis. I am Commander Beryllium – you are…?” The wind began to slowly pick up, almost natural – except there wasn’t a cloud in the sky or any weather pattern to drive the wind towards frenzy.
“The reason you’ll withdraw once the senshi defeat your youma.” She offered a cocky smile before she double-lashed the air with her flaming whip, the Commander forced to dodge twice from the spires of flames the senshi sent his way. “Sailor SunHeart.” Her head cocked to the left, SunHeart let a smile curve its way onto her lips.
Beryllium’s purple eyes slowly raked over the red-haired senshi, taking in the thigh-high dark orange and red boots with small sunburst at the bottom. With barely a break for a bit of skin the boot were followed by medium-orange shorts, a matching bodysuit completing most of the senshi’s apparel, accented and broken apart by a brilliant gold design of a sun-in-glory down her chest. The twin brown capes moved with the senshi as they circled each other, lamplight continuously glinting off of her golden shoulder armor as the senshi carefully maneuvered him into as many light glares as possible.
Spots danced in front of his eyes, a ghostly halo of the almost smirking Sailor SunHeart mocking him. He was a Commander – he shouldn’t have so much trouble with a little slip of a woman who liked to play with whips! But, as he dodged her attack, Beryllium’s eyes widened a hair in recognition.
“You,” he spit out, eyes narrowing to slits, “are a traitor.” His hand flicked sideways, a cutting wall of air slicing through the lamppost, the park bench, and cutting into the sidewalk. He was amused to see SunHeart curse under her breath as she was forced to give up ground to his attack; it felt good to do that to her although he would have preferred inflicting life-threatening harm to her. Barely taking his eyes off of the senshi the Commander checked to see how Taii-tsu was faring against the Moon Kingdom’s senshi.
“Try it now, Sailor Moon,” the raven-haired senshi yelled out, the remnants of her flaming bow still smoldering in her hands.
Taii-tsu didn’t seem to be doing as well as he’d hoped; part of her clothing was torn, flower petals stuck into parts of her outfit. One of her arms hung uselessly at her side with an entire hand of her turns into melted slag. Her once-beautiful hair, all crimson and silvery spikes laced with her own metal wires to create a supported cascade of flowing hair, was melted or tarnished, red-hot glows from some spots where Sailor Mar’s fire had turned the metal into nearly-molten strands.
On unspoken accord, neither SunHeart not Beryllium attacked, both watching the Inner senshi’s battle against the youma.
Suddenly, a move made perfect with long practice, Sailor Moon gripped her Moon Tier directly in front of her body, arms locked. Time stood still as her grand attack began, the Tier growing until it looked more like a short staff than a magical wand; wind blew her wings, feathers flying around the moon’s senshi. “Silver Moon…”
The two outsiders seemed almost enchanted by the silver glow suddenly forming around the senshi, SunHeart and Beryllium assuming similar poses of arms near their waist, hands folded to rest on their forearms.
“Crystal…Power…” Sailor Moon was bringing her Tier up slowly above her arms, a flood of pink energy forming behind her. When the Tier was held above her head in both hands, Sailor Moon shouted out “KISS!” at the top of her lungs, pink and silver energy rushing at the youma.
At first it looked like Taii-tsu would withstand the attack, her arms crossed in front of her body as she braced against it. But the damage to her form had taken its toll on her stamina, eventually a scream ripping out of her throat. Her hair melted away, her arms dissolving and legs turning to silvery dust before she yelled out “Beautiful!” The rest of her body turned to dust with a gust of power from the Tier.
The Inner senshi seemed shocked at her death, Sailor Moon’s light blue eyes wide with obvious distress; the youma had sounded too human as it died, Sailor Moon lowering her Tier.
Looking at SunHeart out of the corner of his eye the Commander turned towards the single sailor senshi, hand raised. “Your name on my heart,” he said simply, his words so thick with hatred that SunHeart stepped back as if from a blow.
Taking a step towards the Moon Kingdom senshi, Beryllium sketched them a short and mocking bow. “Your names on my heart, White Moon senshi.” The sailor senshi cried out in surprise as he blasted them with buffets of wind, little tears ripping into their fukus as the tore longer and longer slashes into the fabric skirts. The four girls formed a protective ring around Sailor Moon, their stances telling the experienced military man that now was not the time to press the fight.
A torrent of wind ripped around his body in a column, spreading wider to send the senshi back a yard with the force of his teleportation. Their hair whipped around their faces, SunHeart’s capes tangling with strands of her long red hair; when the wind died down the six sailor senshi were left alone, a small pile of silver dust dragged away by the fading breeze.
Slowly smoothing her capes back out, lifting her mass of red hair back with her off arm until the brown fabric hung free, SunHeart looked back at the Moon Kingdom’s senshi. Her grip on her whip lessened, the flames on the spike going out before she returned the spike to her headpiece.
Sailor Mars and Sailor Jupiter stood in front of Eternal Sailor Moon, still holding their protective stance in the face of this unknown senshi. “Who are you,” Jupiter demanded, Eternal Sailor Moon taking a step forward until Mars grabbed her and kept her back.
“Sailor SunHeart,” she answered after a beat, letting her curtain of hair fall freely down again. With fluid grace Sailor SunHeart gave the Inner senshi a bow, her right arm tucked against her chest, her left arm straight out as she dipped down; when she stood back up the Inner senshi exchanged concerned looks with each other, each of the senshi spotting the prominent bracelets around both of her wrists.
One shoulder raised higher than the other with her arms crossed together, Sailor Mars looked accusingly at Sailor SunHeart. “You seemed to know exactly who we were fighting. What gave you the right to order us about?” Mars couldn’t seem to decide to be angrier about the potential connection or the way the new senshi had blindly given them an order.
SunHeart nodded at the question, her expression moving from confused and slightly puzzled to amused. “You five weren’t fighting, you were just staring. What was I supposed to do, sit back and let the youma sneak around and get me from the side?” SunHeart let a trace of annoyance creep into her words, absently rolling her wrist like she was checking an old injury.
“Who was that?” Moon’s voice was quiet, her hand clenched over her brooch. “Who was the monster?”
Jupiter looked back at Sailor Moon, concern for her friend and leader easy to read on her face. Sailor Mercury touched her earring, her visor appearing in front of her eyes and her computer in the palm of her hand.
Folding her arms, Sailor SunHeart ran a hand through her bangs. “The youma or the Commander in charge of it,” she asked blandly. Before Sailor Moon could pick, SunHeart answered both questions. “The youma was just that – a youma. Not a human, no matter how close it sounded to one in the end.” Maybe a little white lie wouldn’t hurt them, SunHeart decided pragmatically. “The one commanding it was Beryllium, a Commander from the Dark Kingdom.”
She waited for recognition from the senshi, some flash of understanding in their eyes. In the end, silence and blank looks reigned for more than a full minute, SunHeart’s expression slowly moving from disbelief to anger.
Mercury tapped her ear again, her visor vanishing. “The Dark Kingdom…?”
“I suggest,” SunHeart snapped, “You ask your advisors about them.” She let a long pause go before adding, “Again.” With that SunHeart left the five stunned senshi behind in a leap, using branches from trees or poles to make her way up to the city’s skyline, running off before the senshi had a chance to catch her.
Sailor Moon stared down at the ground, a light breeze making her twin ponytails dance in the moonlight. “Beryllium…youma…the Dark Kingdom – what does it all mean,” she whispered questioningly, clenching her hand harder around the golden brooch on her chest.
“Jupiter,” Venus called out, “Did you get a close look at those bracelets?” The blonde waited for a nod from Sailor Jupiter before she sighed. “I thought it was over…I thought what happened last year was over and done with.”
“Bracelets,” Sailor Moon asked, looking at her four senshi curiously.
“She was wearing Galaxia’s bracelets, Sailor Moon,” Mars explained, nearly groaning as Sailor Moon felt the need to look at each senshi and get a nod from them before she believed Mars.
Gripping her brooch, Sailor Moon’s eyes widened and before they closed in sadness. There was a flurry of feathers and light as Sailor Moon detransformed, Usagi standing in her jeans and shirt. Taking that as a signal the rest of the Sailor Senshi detransformed, the five girls moving closer together and doing their best to act like normal, average girls.
“Ami, how much data did you get during the battle,” Usagi asked, looking at the blue-haired girl.
“I’ll need a day or two to go over it, but I think I have a good start on the new enemy.” She sounded quiet but confident, Ami coming alive once put in her element.
“Senshi meeting in two days at the temple, Rei?” Usagi’s voice turned the question into a gentle command. Rei and the other three girls nodded. “Well,” Usagi looked up at the moon with a forlorn expression haunting her eyes, “I suggest we get home – it’s pretty late. Two days, remember.”
Every girl voiced their agreement at the date once more before they peeled off in different directions, every girl heading to their home.