-=Chapter Two: Pieces in Play=-

There were five ordinary looking people sitting at the Azabu Café when Pyrite arrived, all of them looking anxiously at the newcomer. Fishing out a small golden medallion from the back pocket of her jeans Pyrite tossed the coin into the center of a pile of similar medallions. ‘Chink’ and the unique sound of spinning metal were all that passed between the group until the coin fell to rest atop the other five coins in the middle of the café’s table.

One woman, red hair pulled back into a neat and perfect braid which fell to the middle of her back, picked up the medallion; tilting the item, a ‘P’ flashed to the sights of all of the seated five. The effect was instantaneous – all five marginally relaxed, settling themselves more comfortably into their seats as the red-haired woman directed their new arrival to the last open chair.

Sliding into the chair and taking a few moments to make sure she was comfortable in it, Pyrite fingered her short-cropped bangs before pushing them aside. It’d been quite some time since she’d been on earth in her human disguise (the other Commanders had all been sent to earth but had she? No – she’d been forced to content herself with directing the campaign) so she had to get used to the way her bangs now tended to fall in her eyes. Her red eyes, magically tinted to appear far browner than they really were, looked over her tablemates with open amusement and hidden pride. With the exception of Jedite – at least the man she assumed to be Jedite, his ice-blue eyes the exact shade and his hair only somewhat longer than his true form’s – her fellow Commanders had made their human disguises well.

“I’m Sana Kyo,” Pyrite said genially, her face a bright and easy-going with a warm smile on her lips. Every body around the small table was vaguely familiar, either from a class or someone she’d seen through her part-time job. “I work at the computer labs,” Kyo pointed vaguely towards the rest of the campus, “when not taking classes.” Now she held her hand out to the red-haired woman, Kyo waiting until the ‘P’ stamped medallion was deposited into her palm before flashing an honest smile of thanks at her.

Fingers digging to the bottom of the pile, the man with the ice-blue eyes pulled out a ‘J’ emblazoned medallion. Flashing the ‘J’ around to the small group he waited until he caught a nod of recognition from each of the other five before pocketing the gold coin. “My name’s Jason Korbitz,” he said clearly, though in slightly-accented Japanese. His English surname perfectly matched the faint undertones of an English-speaker’s accent in his words and offered a reasonable explanation for his pale blonde hair, mostly cropped short with a trail of hair falling down the back of his neck. The five Commanders kept their tongue on his limited creativity, each pair of eyes noting that nothing other than the length of his hair had been changed.

Leaning over the table now, a lanky man dug a ‘B’ marked coin from the pile, twisting it to show them all. “I’m Professor Sanson,” he announced in his barely-detectably-accented Japanese, “though my friends call me Jared. I’m doing a visiting lecture series at Azabu as part of an alliance between this campus and my campus, MIT.” Jared slid the coin into a pocket on his jeans, light purple eyes framed by crinkles as he smiled and ran a hand through his spiky sandy-blond hair. He didn’t look old enough to be a professor but from the whispers already circulating on campus Jared Sanson was a whiz with ocean biology and a hard grader who expected his students to work for their grades.

Moving delicately and her free hand holding back her long sleeves, long and thing fingers picked out a ‘K’ stamped medallion and showed it around. “My name is Myou Shouka.” Shou’s musical voice turned the simple phrase into something more, almost singing her words. Pale green eyes studied the others around the table with a welcoming (if artistically distant) smile, raising a hand to re-tuck a long strand of pale blue hair behind an ear again. “When I’m not performing with my study’s concerts, I give voice lessons to the middle and high school student who have shown promise in the art.” Shou slid the coin into her small handbag, every motion and action she made delicate.

With a flourish, Kou presented each woman present with a small rosebud of a pale yellow color, his warm brown eyes lighted with open amusement. Lightly curled brown hair touched the tops of his eyes and, at the back, fell down far enough to touch the very top of his collar. “I’m Tsuka Koujou, the head floral designer over at the Juuban shopping center.” After the introduction, Kou picked up the ‘G’ stamped medallion from the remains of the pile, letting it drop into a pocket on his tailored vest.

The small rose tucked behind an ear Tora picked up the final coin, stamped with a ‘T’ on the surface, and shoved it into her trouser pocket. Adjusting her black oval-rimmed glasses, the woman smiled. “I’m Kyuusetsu Tora, a new part-timer at Juuban’s BookStop store.” Brown eyes were lit with an inner joy as she smiled in greeting at them all, her neatly-braided red hair falling to the middle of her back, bangs swept to the sides of her face to avoid their lengths falling into her eyes.

Silence reigned after the introductions, each Commander (and the sole General) looking around to search their memory for other places and times they’d seen each other. Kyo raised her hand, a prim little freshman coming up as quickly as possible to take her order; they all held a friendly silence until the girl returned, an assorted six tea cups and mugs set down and two pots of tea placed in the center of the table.

“If you need anything else, just let one of us waiters know,” the girl said with a parting smile, slipping a handful of sugar packets out of her apron and setting them down as well. Adjusting her apron as she walked off, the girl’s eyes took in the odd group in a second, shrugged, and thought of them no more. It was probably just a bunch of students meeting for a study session – they all had that look about them, harried like everyone appeared before exams.

Picking up one of the teapots Kyo poured herself a cup, turning the handle as she set it down so the next person over could pour their own cup. “Now that the introductions have been made,” her fingers curled around the quickly-warming cup as she sipped, “we can get down to business.”


Two days after their first battle the five senshi (all in civilian form, of course) gathered at the Hikawa temple and shrine; they perched easily on the stone steps leading up to and surrounding the main part of the shrine. None of the five girls spoke as they sat, looking back and forth at each other a few times but mostly letting their attention fix on the steps leading up to the shrine itself.

Artemis and Luna had gone to get the Outer senshi for the meeting, the Inner senshi waiting until the two advisors brought the other girls before considering whether or not they should begin. The enemy had been strong, Usagi pointed out to the cats – they might need the advantages the older senshi brought to their fights. So even though no one had really expected them to agree to the meeting, Luna and Artemis had run off to let them know about it. When the two cats – alone – reappeared over the crest of the tree-framed path, the assembled girls sighed.

“They refused to come again, Usagi,” Luna said sadly, tail flicking around her haunches in the same way an agitated cat’s did. “They said they’ll do things their own way, the same as last time.” Her fur rose at the last words, a flicker of mixed emotions crossing everyone’s eyes at the remembrance of what ‘last time’ had become.

Artemis and Luna seemed almost resigned to the Outer senshi’s actions – but the Inner senshi weren’t.

“What do they think they’re doing,” Rei burst out angrily. “They might be from the Outer Solar System but their mission is the same as ours!” Her violet eyes were narrowed in anger, hands curled into fists at her sides. Fast as a thought Rei punched one of the stone pillars supporting the shrine’s main arch, two ravens crying out in surprise as a tremor worked up the stone. “Someone needs to teach them a lesson!”

Jumping down from her perch, Minako frowned at Rei and pulled her friend’s hand away from the pillar. Fingers brushed over the reddened surface, lips twitching in annoyance before poking Rei in the chest. “And who’s going to teach them that lesson – a hot-headed priestess?” Blue eyes filled with determination, Minako looked at the rest of the senshi. “None of us four can teach them that lesson – and we know it. They fight better than we do, they’re stronger than we are; we can’t teach them anything when it comes to a fight.”

Makoto, poised to make her own attack against a tree, stopped, the steam out of her anger. Ami looked up, startled, from her computer screen. Rei sighed but when she dropped her eyes from Minako’s she nodded agreement. Usagi though, had a calm air about her.

“I can, though.” Minako looked over at Usagi, the two girls – so close in physical appearance that they could’ve been twins – sharing a smile and a nod. “Luna, Artemis,” the two advisors snapped to attention at the sound of their names, “The next time I send you to the Outers, tell them their Princess orders them to come.” The serious air about Usagi shattered as she giggled, fingers making a quick run-through of her bangs. “And promise you’ll tell us all what kinds of faces they make, too.”

Even the cats had a laugh at Usagi’s comment, Luna being polite enough to hide her chuckles behind a paw. “We promise. But now girls, I think we’d better begin.” Luna’s orange eyes looked to Usagi. “What happened, exactly, at the battle?”

Showing the first signs of the true ability to lead and manage people, Usagi grinned and turned to Ami. “I know what I remember, but we all know my memory’s a bit…flawed. Ami-chan, could you run through what we learned from that senshi?”

Pulling reading glasses from her face, Ami nodded to Usagi with a warm smile on her face. “Of course, Usagi-chan. Rei-chan and Mako-chan called us when the group they were following was attacked by the enemy. Shortly after we arrived, the person controlling the monster showed themselves – they were wearing a very militaristic-looking uniform. They ordered the youma – the monster – to attack us and appeared to be about to join the attack when a new senshi arrived.”

Luna and Artemis both sat up straighter at the news of another senshi; once new senshi had been greeted with only slight trepidation – but that was before Galaxia’s bracelet-controlled senshi had come to earth. News of a new senshi, especially as they knew that the court of the Moon contained no other senshi besides the Outers and the Inners, wasn’t good news now.

Ami flipped her computer around, the screen showing a rough approximation of the senshi’s uniform and appearance. “She called herself Sailor Sun Heart.” With a tap on the keypad, the image zoomed in and circled around the senshi’s matching bracelets. “My computer couldn’t do a full analysis, but the bracelets contain a lot of power – like Galaxia’s did.”

“So she’s another enemy,” Artemis asked, looking at Luna (who had her ears flat against her skull) and the senshi.

“She helped us,” Usagi stated. “She drew off the man commanding the youma – she called him ‘Commander Beryllium’ as well – and fought him alone, giving us the chance to defeat the youma.” Her lips turned to a frown, trying to recall just how much time the senshi had fought against the man and what she could remember of their fight; it was disconcerting to think that their battle with a single enemy had been so difficult that no real particulars of the other senshi’s battle came to mind.

“She ordered us to take care of the youma, Usagi,” Rei said with a hint of anger. Her arms were folded against her chest, hands clenching the sleeves of her miko robes with a reawakened ire at the senshi. “She just assumed we would do what she told us, she didn’t ask for our help or offer her own.”

“It was like,” Minako said softly, “She and the Commander had fought before. Artemis, you said it looked like there had been attacks all over the world, didn’t you? Was there a pattern to them?”

Artemis and Luna looked between each other, sharing a mildly surprised expression. “The attacks would go for about one week and then fade off, before starting in a new location.”

Tapping one finger against her cheek, Minako chuckled. “You mean it was kind of like how things would peter out when Sailor V would move to a new city…?” Minako saw Artemis slowly nod, shaking her head with a smile herself. “I think this new senshi has been fighting the enemy all along – it just seems so much like how you and I fought when I was Sailor V.”

“But…” Makoto shook her head, brown ponytail whipping around her. “She’s got a pair of Galaxia bracelets around her wrists – that means she’s working for someone and that someone’s taken her Star Seed. I think it could be a giant set-up, to trick us into letting this senshi get close to us and then hurt our Princess.” Makoto suddenly punched a fist against the flat of her other hand. “I won’t let that happen.”

“Ami-chan,” Usagi asked softly, the other senshi falling silent, “What do you think?” Usagi had her own opinion about the senshi – but Ami had been remarkably quiet about everything after she’d told the bare facts.

Closing her computer, Ami gave Usagi a sad half-smile. “I agree with Rei-chan, Minako-chan, and Mako-chan – I don’t know if we can trust her, Usagi-chan. I can’t confirm that she’s got bracelets that act the same way Galaxia’s did – but I can’t prove that she doesn’t, either.”

Now Usagi tapped a finger against her cheek – once, twice, three times. “All right – next time we see her, we need to get some facts about who she is out of her before we trust her – or before we attack her. Next order of business, though, senshi – the enemy.” Usagi’s eyes were clear again, determined – and looking pointedly at the two advisors. “Who is the Dark Kingdom?”

“The Dark Kingdom,” Luna repeated, voice holding hints of disbelief. “Usagi-chan, minna…you defeated the Dark Kingdom years ago – it was your first battle.” Her tail curled around her haunches tightly, pressed against her fur. “Queen Beryl destroyed the Moon Kingdom, along with Metallia, and Queen Serenity sealed the Dark Kingdom in return. When I first awoke you as senshi, it was to fight against the Dark Kingdom.”

“You girls went to Point D,” Artemis continued, giving Luna a comforting lick. “You defeated Queen Beryl and destroyed her, and destroyed the Dark Kingdom along with her. The Generals, the youma – you girls destroyed it all. There is no ‘Dark Kingdom’ any longer.” Artemis ended his sentence with an air of finality.

Ami shook her head. “Sun Heart claims that the new enemy is from the Dark Kingdom.” Around her, the other girls nodded their heads.

Luna and Artemis looked at each other. “It’s impossible,” Luna said softly, Artemis nodding agreement.

“I guess that’s something else we need to clarify,” Usagi grumbled, arms curled up like a pillow as she rested her head atop the steps.


Slipping the neck loop of the brown apron over her head Tora let it hang loose and free while she slid and tugged the fabric, waiting until the loop had fitted itself under the collar of her pressed Oxford. The cream shirt was buttoned up almost entirely, the topmost button undone, and the shirttails were tucked into the waist of the woman’s black trousers. Her black-rimmed glasses slid down her nose when she reached to her back, grabbing for the ties and knotting them together into a messy bow around her waist. With the apron tied Tora smoothed the front of it, tweaking the position of her nametag with a sly grin on her lips.

Working at the local bookstore wasn’t so bad; the pay was fairly decent (even if she didn’t need the money, she needed the appearance of needing the money) and the place was filled with books. She was lucky to get the job – the store had already hired a person a few weeks before her arrival, a girl who Tora thought was either English or American, but had agreed to take her on part-time. Cassandra London was a bright girl, already good at dealing with the customers and irksome students with an ease Tora half-heartedly envied.

Her eyes looked at the clock hung across from the registers, checking the time. The Commanders had discussed possible targets over their tea a day ago and bandied about using their own job locations as ‘hits’ for amusement. The university campus was a tempting target, they’d all agreed, but almost too obvious to go for; the decision to wait on attacking the campus had been reached even though Jedite had protested.

“I’m going to straighten the shelves, Miss London,” Tora called out, giving the other girl a warm smile. Cassandra was something of a puzzle to Tora – they’d been working together for a few days and there was something…odd about her. Something that pushed Tora’s pulse up a few beats and kept her breath just a bit harder to catch when in close proximity; that wouldn’t do to happened today – not when there were plans for the afternoon.

Cassandra smiled and waved Tora off, her layered black hair shaking gently with the motion. “I’ll give you a call if I need some help up here,” she assured her, rewarded with a quick grin on Tora’s face before she faded into the shelves.

Checking her braid, tucking the few strands that had mystically gotten loose back into the weave, Tora started to head to the back of the store. Stopping at the science-fiction section the woman began looking over the books, collecting a small pile of ones shoved into the wrong place and settling them on the crook of her arm. Moving methodically through the section Tora put the wayward books back into their places, running her finger down the spine of many of the books as she did so. In ten minute’s time, Beryllium would summon a youma that would work its way through the sidewalk in front of the bookstore. In fifteen minute’s time, the youma would come in to the store and begin an obvious attack.

Sliding a Clarke book back into its home, Tora continued to work until she head a shriek from outside the store. It was quite a distance off – no one inside the store would have heard it yet, or thought it was anything out of the ordinary – but she very slowly began to work her way up through the store again anyways. There was a chance the youma would look incredibly odd and start garnering more attention faster than they had allowed.

“HELP ME!” Someone crashed through the store’s front glass display window, thrown that way by a gust of wind. Tora ran to the front now, playing the part of the dutiful employee to the hilt. Helping the woman up, slinging her arm across her own shoulder, Tora tried to shake her awake. The screams were starting up outside now, more and more people shrieking and yelling and screaming and crying as the youma began a full assault.

And then it stepped in the doorway, looking around at the employees and patrons in turn. The youma appeared to be made entirely out of whirling wind, faint impressions of color giving her pale skin and blue clothing and hair. It snarled as soon as it saw the woman across Tora’s shoulder, flinging its hand out and forward; Tora stared in frank fascination as the youma attacked her, letting a cry of surprise (that passed for a fair impression of pain) tear from her lips. She didn’t have to act pained as she hit the wooden book stands, thrown entirely through one to crash into a second.

“Everybody out, now!” Cassandra darted around the youma (its hands were wrapped around the neck of the woman Tora had tried to save, draining energy from her) to get to Tora. Sliding the other woman’s arm around her shoulders, she hefted the barely conscious Tora to her feet. “Come on,” she urged, the two managing to stumble to the employee side door and out of the fray. Cassandra slowly helped Tora sit on the ground, fingers pushing bangs aside and trying to visually check for injuries. Finding no injuries that she could spot, Cassandra shifted the protesting Tora to lean against the wall.

“We’ll be safe here,” Cassandra assured her, looking down the alley to the street itself. Bodies (though none of them appeared to be dead) littered the place already – this thing was strong. “The Sailor Senshi will show up soon.” Looking at the woman against the wall, Cassandra worried her lip before sighing. “I’ll be right back – don’t go anywhere.” Slipping back into the store itself, Cassandra found the nearest victim and pulled her back to the alleyway, helping her sit against the wall. “Tora, I could really use your-“

The alley was empty.


“Come out, come out, wherever you are…” Beryllium watched his youma go after targets recklessly (it had disregarded his orders to go about gathering motes of energy quietly – hopefully the senshi would show up soon and do him the favor of destroying it before he had to deal with the rascal), thanking the stars that its actions would draw attention sooner. While the city of Tokyo wasn’t gripped in the talons of winter, the wind did whip down the alleys fairly well; he could have brought the errant gusts of wind to heel but his attention was forcibly focused elsewhere.

The air rippled subtly, followed shortly afterwards by the sound of a boot tapping on the pavement behind his current position. “This is too much like the old methods for my taste,” Krisite declared, giving her dark green gloves a firm tug. “Send a youma out, rampage, draw the sailor senshi out – that reeks of the Generals and their plans.” Her hair rippled faintly as she stepped until she was beside Beryllium.

“It was Jedite’s plan to begin with,” he returned with a shrug. “What can you expect from him Krisite – he’s just a General. Pyrite went along with it for her own reasons, you know it as well as I do.” Suddenly Beryllium chuckled, giving his fellow Commander an amused look. “I think most of why she agreed to it was to show Jedite how stupid the idea is – after this debacle, he’ll shut up and let us plan like we wanted to from the start.”

Jedite had found that there was a wedge between the Commanders and himself at tea today, a wide gap left over from the war against the Moon Kingdom and the first attack on earth. The Commanders had been forbidden from taking part in the plans to attack the Moon Kingdom, Queen Beryl instead giving that honor to her newly-brainwashed Generals; the Commanders were all of a mind that the utter failure of the Moon Kingdom invasion, compared with the invasions of other nearby Kingdoms, could be placed squarely at the foot of that decision. The invasion of earth had been an even worse disaster, one the Commanders had no part in creating – though they held it against Jedite.

He was a General, one of the men who had been put in charge of the failed invasions. Faced with such an illustrious history of accomplishments, the Commanders had elected (amongst themselves) to find a way to discourage Jedite from participating in most of their planning sessions. Pyrite, the highest-ranking officer in their mission, had potentially opted to encourage Jedite to remove himself from the planning sessions; if he could hold his own tongue on idiotic ideas, they wouldn’t break their word to Queen Tanzanite. Rather ingenious, if it worked to their favor. Of course… Beryllium grimaced. It was far more likely that Jedite was too stupid to see the point they were trying to prove to him.

“How much longer do you think it’ll take the senshi to arrive,” Krisite asked, sounding rather bored with the spectacle the youma was making. The pile of bodies around it had grown quite considerably while they’d talked and most of the people were clearing off of the street. Soon the youma was going to have to move to find new victims which really didn’t fit into their plans.

“Hold it right there, youma!” Atop a near building five figures stood, posed fashionably with the sun streaming behind them and adding a halo around their bodies, their voices ringing out in unison. The Commanders, from their hidden vantage point, would be able to watch the ensuing battle without being seen.

Dropping its victim from her hands the youma turned to look up at the senshi, a ripple of the wind that made up her body hinting at the direction she stared. The senshi, sensing an opportunity, leapt off of the building, two of them (Jupiter and Venus, if their reconnaissance on the senshi was to be believed) calling out their attacks as they flew down through the air. The lightning worked spectacularly well against the water of the youma, Venus’ attack working to bind the youma into a solid form and make it easier for the other senshi to attack as well.

“That’s not such bad form, Beryllium,” Krisite commented as the two watched the battle dispassionately. They would make no move to neither rescue the youma nor help it – it wasn’t the youma’s fault it’d been picked for a suicide mission but on the other hand, they were not going to actually even the creature’s odds.

“Maybe this is how they normally fight – or a lucky plan of attack.” With a shrug of his shoulders, Beryllium dismissed the issue. “We’ve got our own orders – watch. If they look like they might be a challenging opponent, it’ll make the eventual fall of earth – or whatever Tanzanite’s changed our goal to – all the more worthwhile.” He brushed a piece of lint from his chest, looking over at the battle still raging on between the sailor senshi of the Moon Kingdom and their youma.

“We won’t be able to make a report on SunHeart this time,” he observed, a sharp gust of wind whipping his long braid of hair up near his head. “The senshi are handling the youma well enough that I think she’s opted to not help them out.” Tilting his head towards Krisite, the two shared a sly grin.

“Practical – sounds like someone we’d get along with fairly well.” From their observations of the earth senshi, there was hardly a practical one in the lot of them, even including the pragmatic Mercury. Krisite loved to deal with the more practical enemies – this SunHeart was proving to be a likely candidate to play around with later.

“Other than the problem of being on opposing sides, of course.” Beryllium’s eyes narrowed to angry slits at that comment though, his voice tinged heavily with an unvoiced anger.

“Other than that tiny issue, not a problem at all.” Krisite paused for a mere moment, drawing the words out for as long as she could before letting silence fall. “You suspect something about SunHeart, don’t you?”

Beryllium gave one stiff nod in the affirmative. “We never really focused on who was breaking up our energy-gathering rings to notice her. I have a suspicion about who she is – one that needs to be researched more.” He’d hoped to find SunHeart making some senshi-saving appearance in all honesty, since Krisite would be here to verify his suspicions; that would have to wait for another day, it seemed.

“CRYSTAL POWER…KISS!” Sailor Moon’s finishing spell destroyed the youma utterly, the creature screaming as if she was being gutted alive before slowly glowing. Yelling out ‘beautiful’ as she turned to silvery dust, the enemy faded from the scene leaving the five senshi surrounded by a slowly-stirring crowd.

“I don’t think she’ll show, Beryllium,” Krisite said, turning away from the destroyed youma’s remains. Hand on the man’s shoulder, she turned her fellow Commander aside as well. “If we remain too long, the senshi will find out we’ve been here the entire fight.” The next step she took was a teleportation, Beryllium looking at the sailor senshi one moment longer before he, too, joined suit.


They did well on their own that time, Sailor SunHeart observed, the red-haired senshi hidden from sight by the obstructing leaves of the tree. From her vantage point inside the limbs of the tree she could see the alleyways around the bookstore – one of the most unlikely of targets in the whole shopping center – as well as the open street itself. She spotted the two Commanders – that was fairly alarming – and waited for them to come out of hiding once the senshi had defeated the youma.

Eyebrows rising to her hairline, SunHeart watched the two Commanders turn heel on the exhausted senshi and leave. Leave without any remarks or attacks against the Sailor Senshi?

“I told you we shouldn’t trust that Sun Heart senshi – she didn’t show up, Sailor Moon.” The sharp voice carried easily to her ears, SunHeart pursing her lips at the appraisal. “And you saw her bracelets as well as everyone else did – you know what those meant!” Mars would have gone on longer, but SunHeart decided to head-off the forthcoming lecture by jumping down from her tree branch.

“You didn’t look like you needed any help, senshi,” SunHeart said, standing perfectly still once she’d landed on the ground. “Unless you want me to think that five of you can’t handle one little youma the Dark Kingdom sends out…?” Folding her arms at her waist, SunHeart looked at the five girls with a mildly condescending look in her eyes.

Sailor Moon started forward but stopped, drawing back with an obvious glance to SunHeart’s wrists. “It’s true – you really are working for Galaxia!” Sailor Moon looked up into the other senshi’s blue eyes, one hand clutching her brooch and the other her Moon Tier. “I can heal you-“

“Galaxia?” SunHeart hated to sound dumb, but this was the second time she’d run into the Moon senshi, and the second time they made a comment about her bracelets. “What does Sailor Galaxia have to do with part of my uniform, senshi?” Eye flicked from the senshi to Sailor Moon herself, voice firm. “I don’t need to be healed of anything.”

“Those bracelets – they let you live without a Star Seed!” Sailor Moon seemed to be near the point of tears, SunHeart letting confusion play across her face. “I can heal you and get you back your Star Seed!”

A Star Seed was what allowed a senshi to be reborn, the catalyst for their powers and memories. “I’ve got my Star Seed, though.”

“Take off your bracelets then,” the green-themed senshi called out. “Prove it. If you have a Star Seed, you’ll live without them – if you don’t, you’ll-“

“-die,” SunHeart interjected smoothly. “I am familiar with the effects of losing your Star Seed, senshi.” She needed the senshi to trust her, to a limited extent at least; sighing, SunHeart reached to the hidden clasp on her bracelets, undoing the catch and letting it spring open. Pulling the bracelet off her wrist, SunHeart held it in her hand while she worked on the second one of the pair. The five senshi seemed frozen with anticipation and concern as she pulled the second bracelet free from her wrist, holding them both in her palm. “Do I prove my point,” she asked mildly.

“But, but – those look exactly like Galaxia’s bracelets,” one of the senshi said, SunHeart looking at the orange-themed girl. Venus looked away from her piercing stare, giving Sailor Moon a smile. “I guess we can trust her, Sailor Moon, just like you said.”

Snapping the bracelets back around her wrists and pulling her gloves under them to prevent chafing from the gold, SunHeart neatened her appearance. “I’m helping you guys out – not attacking you. What’d you all think, that I was allied with the enemy?” Her lips curled into a grin as she spoke, seeing two of the senshi wince as if she’s struck a nerve with them.

“But you can’t be correct about who the Enemy is,” a new voice announced, SunHeart snapping her attention to the small black cat walking on the wall parallel to the sidewalk. “The Enemy cannot be the Dark Kingdom – we’ve already defeated the Dark Kingdom. So although your help is…appreciated, you cannot be correct about your suspicions.”

For a few seconds all the senshi did was blink, looking at the talking cat. Advisors took every form imaginable, but the last time she could recall the Moon’s advisors, they had been humans. “You’re a cat, now?” Shaking her head, the senshi dismissed the unimportant matters for a moment. “The enemy is from the Dark Kingdom – I’ve certainly been fighting them long enough to earn an introduction.” And, she added mentally with a wry twist of her lips, an offer of a position within the Kingdom.

“You’re mistaken,” Luna countered, one paw stamping down on the stone of the sidewalk to emphasize her point.

“What would I have to do to convince you,” SunHeart asked dryly, “Get them to tell it to you yourself?” The cat was getting rather annoying; remaining so rigidly insistent that she was Correct and Proper and Accurate in the face of the facts.

Luna leaned backwards, taken back by the senshi’s odd sense of humor. “Yes.”

“Oh, mothers of mercy protect us,” SunHeart muttered quickly and sharply, shaking her head at the obstinate feline. “I’ve been fighting them around the world but my word isn’t good enough; but if one of them decides to announce that they’re from the Dark Kingdom, you’ll take them at face value? I should’ve let your senshi get defeated earlier instead of helping them out, if this is how you treat people who offer help and information to you!”

Temper flaring, SunHeart stalked away from the group of senshi, turning back to face them but looking squarely at Luna when she spoke. “They fought well this time – how about I just let you lot deal with the Commanders all by your lonesome little selves?” It was cruel and it was harsh, but SunHeart gave the advisor a mocking smile. “Maybe they’d even hold out for a few minutes, until they got themselves killed, that is! This isn’t going to happen the same way their first attack did, senshi; they’ll kill you this time, they won’t try to convert or kidnap anyone.” She stared at them, composed again, her eyes grave and every spark of humor driven from her face. “Unless you are willing to drop your pride and accept help from someone I’ll be burying you five before this planet dies.” Silently she tried to will the senshi to see she was telling the truth.

Sailor Moon started forward, looking at her four senshi and advisors before stepping until she and SunHeart were a few feet apart. Her easy-to-read eyes were wide with sorrow and compassion mingled with hesitance. “I believe you. I can’t speak for the rest of the senshi,” Sailor Moon looked back at the four girls behind her, all of whom stood ready to hit SunHeart with their strongest attack if she so much as breathed improperly, “But I believe you.”

Letting her head fall towards her shoulder, SunHeart gave Sailor Moon a small smile. “It’s a start,” she replied. “I suppose time will win the rest of them over,” her gaze moved past Sailor Moon to count the attacks (four) aimed at her. “At the moment, I think that is the best I can hope for.” Giving Sailor Moon a nod, SunHeart turned around again, ducking to the alley. By the time the senshi had run to the nook of a street side, all that was visible was a banner of brown high on the rooftops.

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