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Blood Moon- Part 4
by becca-oneechan
1/13/97

Well, here's part 4 of this fanfic. I hope it pleases. If you've read this far, there must be something to it.

"Sailor Moon" is the property of Takeuchi Naoko.

WARNING: This 'episode' is pretty violent and gory - just so you know. But, hey, at last it's beginning to live up to its name!

--Blood Moon--
*becca-oneechan*
"Part Four- Paths of Red"


Usagi slipped down the dark corridor after Kunzite. They had less time than they'd thought. Queen Beryl was about to launch a full scale attack on Earth, and someone Kunzite called 'Queen Metallia' was about to 'awaken', whatever that meant. Usagi assumed that was a bad thing. The set expression on Kunzite's face and the danger throbbing down their bond confirmed this.

Now they were headed toward the queen's private chambers, through back ways that only Kunzite and a few youma knew about. Beryl was in her throne room at the moment, with Prince Endymion at her side, but she would be retiring soon, and they had to get themselves inside and in a position to strike before that.

Kunzite turned and put a finger to his lips as he touched a secret panel in the wall. A small opening sprang dark and cold near the floor, but before they could bend to crawl into it, Kunzite stiffened and closed it with another touch to the panel.

"Someone's coming," he hissed to Usagi. "Get behind me, and keep quiet."

She nodded, her eyes wide.

"Remember our plan," he added. She grimaced. "I know," he said, glancing down the dark, seemingly empty corridor, then turning toward her and leaning against the wall. "This is humiliating. I had hoped we wouldn't run into any youma. In another couple of moments we would have been safe. But I guess we have to do what we have to do."

He glanced down the corridor again, then placed a hand on Usagi's shoulder, drawing her closer. She steeled herself, and tried to look at him the way she looked at Tuxedo Kamen. It wasn't easy. She struggled in herself, then with a tiny twitch of one eye, placed a slim hand on one of his hips. Now she could finally hear the claws clicking on the floor of the corridor, echoing toward them. Kunzite must either have far better ears than her, or, more likely, other ways of sensing things.

Kunzite seemed to be faring little better than she. Pretending complete infatuation with a mortal enemy was an exercise in both control and acting ability.

"Master Kunzite!"

Usagi felt Kunzite's hand tighten momentarily on her shoulder, and she saw an extremely irritated, almost pained expression cross his face. She assumed this wasn't a good thing.

"Arckle," he growled, pulling Usagi closer as he turned back toward the corridor. It was a more natural move than they'd been performing up until now, and she huddled against his side without a second thought, gazing at the two youma before her with large, fear filled eyes. She wasn't usually this near to a youma, unless they were trying to kill her, and she found they were even uglier up close than at a distance.

The larger of the two, the one who had spoken, was the first male youma she had ever seen. She'd never thought about the things coming in two flavors before. She'd always fought female youma, and never considered that there might be males too. She didn't much care for the looks of this one.

He was tall, almost taller than Kunzite. His flesh was a dull grey, his eyes a slitted yellow. His mouth was wide, with pale lips, and, as he smiled she could see, an overabundance of sharp white teeth. She shivered and pressed closer to Kunzite. He looked like a shark or some other awful sea creature, and he frightened her, a lot.

The female youma wasn't as threatening, resembling a mixture between a young girl and an exotic bird. She looked almost as anxious as Usagi felt, glancing from her companion to Kunzite nervously.

"Fancy meeting you here," the male youma sneered. "Are you slumming, my lord? Or perhaps giving your new pet the grand tour?"

"I might ask you the same question," Kunzite snarled. "These halls aren't very often traveled... by respectable youma."

Usagi felt a little bad for the female youma as she winced at this barb, aimed though it was at her companion. Arckle just chuckled, a wet, gurgling sound that made Usagi press even closer to Kunzite.

"That's why we're here," he answered, leering. The female youma made as good a job of blushing as anyone whose face was covered with short, soft blue feathers could manage.

Kunzite looked disgusted. "I don't need to hear about that!"

"Well, you asked. Is that why you're here too?" the youma asked. "My lord," he added, as if it was an afterthought.

"That would be none of your business, now wouldn't it?" Kunzite answered smoothly. Usagi shivered at the menace in his voice, but this time she was grateful for it, and she clutched his belt, glancing up at his set face for further reassurance.

"So, it would appear you've decided to try a little variety in your bed- meat, ne, Master Kunzite?"

Usagi felt her stomach churn as Arckle fixed those flat yellow eyes on her and gave her a good looking over. She was glad Kunzite's arm was strong and warm about her, for it was the only thing keeping her from bolting, and keeping her standing as her knees threatened to give out on her.

"Feeling suicidal today, are we?"

Arckle grinned toothily. "You can't do anything to me. I'm too valuable to Queen Beryl."

Kunzite smiled crookedly, his silver eyes flaring. "Oh," he said, almost gently. "Is that so?"

He raised his free hand and fired a bolt of blue fire that surrounded and consumed the youma before he had a chance to do more than let out a small, strangled scream.

Usagi gulped, but really, she couldn't say she wasn't happy to see the last of that vile creature. At least this time there hadn't been any blood.

Kunzite turned his gaze to the female youma, who was pressed back against the opposite wall, clearly expecting to suffer the same fate, but too afraid to run.

"You have bad taste in partners, Lanna," he said. "But I won't punish you for poor judgment. Go."

The youma blinked at him, as his words took a moment to sink in. "Ar- arigato, Master Kunzite," she breathed, her voice more melodic than most youma. She edged away, then gave Usagi a little smile.

"You saw nothing, of course," Kunzite added.

"Nothing at all, my lord. I left Arckle a corridor back, and haven't seen him since."

"Very good."

She darted away.

Kunzite sighed and leaned his head back against the wall. He ran his free hand down his face, but didn't remove his arm from around Usagi. She didn't move to pull away either. She needed him as a prop too much for that, and for some reason she found his closeness comforting, even with Arckle dead.

"Just my luck," Kunzite groaned. "We run into the only youma with the balls to speak back to me. Literally."

Usagi giggled. "But you took care of him," she said, her voice warm.

"Yes. He was right though. If I wasn't about to kill Queen Beryl and help you bring down the Dark Kingdom, I wouldn't have dared to do that. Male youma are so rare they have to be kept here and used as stud. There are only two others left. If she ever found out about this, Beryl would have my hide."

"But she'll be dead before he's even missed, right?"

"I hope so. Unless Lanna runs right to her with the tale. Youma are treacherous creatures at the best of times."

"You don't have to tell me. But I think she'll be okay."

"Feminine intuition?"

She gave him a hard look. "No. I just don't think she'll tell, all right?"

"Whatever. Well, let's get on with this."

Kunzite released her and straightened. He pressed the panel again, and they crawled through, closing it behind themselves.

"No turning back now," Kunzite whispered.


"Artemis no baka!" Makoto was growing increasingly agitated. "You're just being a stupid, stupid, stubborn cat!"

"Mako-chan," Ami inserted, placing a hand on her tall friend's shoulder. "Calm down. Let me try."

Mako huffed and puffed, but clamped her lips over further angry words.

"Look, Artemis," Ami said reasonably, "Even Luna agrees. We probably won't even have the power to get tothe Gate now that Minako-chan is gone, and if that is the case, how do you expect us to have any effect once we're there? We know Usagi-chan is in the Dark Kingdom, and there's little doubt Minako is there now also. The best idea is to follow them and see if we can't all get together. Then we can bring the Dark Kingdom down from the inside, which was what we were planning on doing in the first place."

"Before that airhead loused everything up," Rei muttered.

"Shut up, Rei!" Mako snarled.

"That's no way to talk about our princess and leader," Ami added reproachfully.

"I'm getting just a little tired of hearing you put Usagi-chan down," Luna said, her voice strained. "I'm beginning to wonder about your loyalty to the princess and to the senshi."

Rei was struck dumb by this not entirely undeserved barrage.

"Well, I wouldn't go quite that far, Luna," Ami said softly. Mako just glared.

"Listen," Artemis cut in. "I agree that we probably can't get to Greenland, or wherever, now. But I still don't think storming into the Dark Kingdom is a good idea. You can't be certain of finding Usagi-chan or Minako-chan, and Queen Beryl will know as soon as the ginzuishou enters her kingdom."

"Um, Artemis...." Mako had a startled look on her face. "I thought you knew."

"What?"

Everyone looked at Mako curiously.

"Er...." She glanced around. "I thought everyone knew. Minako-chan took the moon stick with her."

"WHAT?!"

She flinched. They all looked over at the table that had held the moon stick, the communicator, and the transformation pen. The fat pink pen and small pink rectangle now sat alone.

"Why didn't you say something sooner?"

"What was she thinking?"

"This is awful!"

"We have to get going, right now!"

Mako was glad Artemis was finally agreeing with the rest of them, but she felt she had to defend herself against the accusations of the others.

"I told you, I thought you guys knew! Besides, what's wrong with Minako-chan taking the ginzuishou? We were going to do that anyway!"

"But there were going to be all four-- or, well, at least three of you," Luna said. "And you weren't going to use it."

"We weren't?" Rei asked.

"No." Luna glared at her. "The ginzuishou belongs to the royal family, and is actually, in a way, a part of our princess. Only members of her family; she, her mother, an ancestor, or a future offspring; can wield its true power."

All the girls looked surprised by this news, and Rei appeared rather crushed.

"How come you never said anything about this before?" Mako asked, folding her arms.

"There was no reason to."

"Hmph." Mako didn't think that was a very good answer.

Ami spoke up. "We had better catch up with Minako-chan quickly. She doesn't know she can't use the ginzuishou--"

"But she can," Artemis put in softly.

"WHAT?!"

"I'm heading for the arcade! Minna! Transform, and join me!"

"Artemis!" Luna howled as the slim white cat took off. "Get back here, you coward! You've got a lot of questions to answer! Yargh!!"

She shot after him, her black tail frizzed, her whiskers quivering.

"Finally!" Mako crowed, not caring about any problems the cats were heaping upon themselves. "Come on, guys! We're taking on the Dark Kingdom!!"


Sailor Venus slashed out with one foot, catching a youma in the midsection. The hybrid creature folded and choked up a gout of blood, before arching and screaming as a golden beam of power shot through her chest, frying her heart, and quite effectively killing her.

This display seemed to shock the other five youma encircling Sailor Venus, and the brief pause it gave them proved deadly. The crescent beam sheered one through the neck, and another across the midsection before any of them made a move. The remaining three attacked at once, but one received the beam full in the face, blowing her head off, and a second got the moon stick in her belly, the curved, wickedly pointed end doing quite a bit of damage before the power of the thing blasted her jerking body into little pieces.

Sailor Venus ducked under the third, acquiring a nasty slice over one eye, but escapingany further injury. She rose behind the thing and spun, slamming her clasped fists into the back of its neck hard enough that there was a gristly crunching sound, and the youma fell dead.

The young girl stood a moment, catching her breath. She was surrounded by limp bodies, several of which were lightly crisped, and smoking. Her feet were awash with dark blood, her fuku, arms, and legs liberally splattered. The moon stick hung from her right hand, beads of crimson dripping from the pointed ends, the ginzuishou glowing a dull scarlet through the wash of blood covering it. Hot blood streamed down the left side of her face, stinging in her eye, but she had no time to do anything about it.

Shaking back her long, pale gold hair, Sailor Venus resumed the dash down the dark hallway which had been interrupted by the group of youma she left behind her in bits and puddles. She could feel her princess before her, a bright flame in this black place, a burning beacon in her heart.

Three more youma appeared before her. It took her less than a minute to dispatch these.

"I'm coming, my princess," she gritted through clenched teeth as she gutted the last youma. "I'm coming, Usagi-chan."


"She's quite good," Prince Endymion commented, leaning over the arm of Queen Beryl's throne, watching the image of Sailor Venus which appeared over the globe before her.

The queen didn't seem to care for the admiration in his voice. She sent ten more youma after the girl, and watched in shock as they were destroyed.

"Shall I go finish her off, majesty?" Endymion asked, clasping the hilt of the huge sword by his side.

"No." She shook her head and dispatched more youma. "She may be good, but she can't keep this up forever. I have plenty of youma, and sooner or later she will fall and we will finally have the ginzuishou, as well as being rid of one of our most powerful adversaries. There is no way we can lose."

"Hmph." Endymion was disappointed.


"Oh my God!"

Sailor Jupiter stood, staring in shock at the carnage before her. Sailor Mars turned several shades lighter than her normal color. Sailor Mercury excused herself and retreated around the last corner to be quietly sick.

"What happened here?" Luna gasped.

"I'd say that it was pretty obvious," Artemis replied, making his way fastidiously through the liberal pools of congealing blood that laced the stone floor. They were all in the Dark Kingdom now, and the white cat had sited that as a fairly legitimate reason for him not to have to answer any questions. But Luna had promised him that if they lived through this, she was going to make him talk.

"Minako-- Sailor Venus did this?" Sailor Jupiter gasped, her green eyes wide.

"Hai," Artemis answered briefly, as Sailor Mercury, pale and a bit wobbly, rejoined them, wiping her mouth, and trying to avoid looking directly at any body parts. Sure, she wanted to be a doctor, but that didn't mean she was able to gaze upon such grim and complete carnage with an unflinching eye. Even the ceiling was splattered, clotted blood and other things dripping down the walls.

"Cripes! How many were there to start with, you think?" Sailor Jupiter strode forward and scooped Artemis up, fording him through the mess. She was rapidly recovering from her shock, and was now beginning to feel a great deal of admiration, and just a bit of jealousy over her friend's prowess.

"Judging by Sailor Venus's former methods," Artemis said, looking around without twitching a whisker, "I'd say about seven. Maybe eight."

"Wild."

"Artemis, you don't even seem surprised!" Sailor Mars said, her face twisted in disgust as she picked her way through the slumped bodies and scattered body parts.

"Well, before we joined up with the rest of you senshi we didn't have Sailor Moon with her tiara or her moon stick. How did you think Sailor V finished off her foes?"

"Oh, gross," Sailor Mars gagged, in a general response, not really to Artemis's words.

"Come on, Sailor Mercury," Luna coaxed. The blue haired senshi was extremely reluctant to cross the gore spattered floor, but once she had Luna's comforting weight resting on her left shoulder, she seemed to do better.

"Come on," Sailor Jupiter said, leading the way.

"Eek!" Sailor Mars squealed as they came upon another scene of mass slaughter and her foot clunked against what proved to be a head, with its body no longer attached. This time it was her turn to be ill, noisily and without removing herself.

"Well," Sailor Jupiter commented to Artemis, still on her shoulder, "I guess we won't have any problem finding Sailor Venus. Just follow the trail of bodies." Her voice was filled with grim humor.

Artemis sighed.


"Oh hell."

Kunzite was so shocked to hear Usagi swear that he forgot to shush her. "Wh-what is it?"

They had still been looking for just the right hiding place, somewhere they could be concealed but not impeded in their view or movement. They had yet to find two such places, or one big enough for both of them, but as it was almost an hour before Queen Beryl retired they hadn't been in an inordinate hurry.

Her sweet face closing in a furious expression, Usagi snapped the words out. "The senshi are here!"

"They're what?"

"They're here, in the Dark Kingdom. And they have the ginzuishou. That means Queen Beryl will know they're here, probably already knows. Which means...."

"That she won't be returning to her quarters," Kunzite supplied for her. "Damnation!"

Usagi chewed on her lower lip. "I was hoping they wouldn't screw things up!"

"I should have anticipated this," Kunzite said, scowling. "We should have acted right away, instead of taking a stupid, needless nap. Or--"

"Well, there's nothing for it." Usagi rose. "Let's go."

"Go where?"

"To the throne room, if you know any more secret passages. Queen Beryl's going to be busy with the senshi. If they're going to blow our plans, then let's make some new ones, utilizing this distraction!"

"That actually makes sense," Kunzite said, gazing at her in surprise. He didn't mention that it was also rather mercenary of her, and seemed a reasoning more befitting *his* thought process than hers.

"Hey!" She made a face. "I can make sense if I want to!"

Kunzite chuckled. "All right, let's go."


By the time the rest of the senshi and the two cats caught up with Sailor Venus they had passed at least two dozen dead bodies, and nearly as many splatters that used to be bodies. When they came upon their compatriot, shewas engaged in hand to hand combat with an especially large youma, while a second crept up on her from behind. Sailor Jupiter quickly cooked this would-be assassin with a strength of ki she hadn't known she was capable of. Sailor Mars moved to physically attack the youma grappling with Sailor Venus, for none of them dared risk a power attack so near to their fellow senshi. But before she could close, Sailor Venus gave a great heave, throwing the youma down the hall. Then, while the dazed being tried to rise and return to the fight, she whipped her crescent beam through its chest.

"Sailor Venus!" Sailor Jupiter cried, as the blonde warrior slumped against the wall, clutching her stomach. The three senshi rushed to her side, through the five or six bodies piled between them.

"I'm all right," Sailor Venus muttered, straightening. Her appearance belied her words, however, as her fuku was torn through the midsection, her chest and stomach bloodied. Her bows and her skirt were ragged and ripped. Her gloves were literally gone, and her arms and legs were laced with cuts and scratches both shallow and deep. There was a nasty gash over one eye that was only beginning to scab up, and a thin slice traced down the side of her face that had been made by something razor sharp.

"Minako-chan, we're going to have to have a long talk when we get home," Artemis said quietly.

Sailor Venus grimaced, then turned her head and spat out some blood. "If we live, I'll let you chew me out as much as you want," she said, wiping a hand wearily across her eyes, then looking in surprise at the blood dripping off her fingers. "Is this mine?"

"Sailor Mercury, how badly is she hurt?" Sailor Mars asked, as Sailor Jupiter caught her friend when she swayed and nearly fell.

Sailor Mercury already had her visor activated, and was scanning the wounded senshi. "It's not as bad as it looks," she said finally. "The ginzuishou is healing the worst of her wounds even as we talk. She's a little weak from blood loss, but mostly it's from over-extending her ki."

"I'll be fine in a sec," Sailor Venus said, shaking her head, which splattered a bit of blood on Sailor Jupiter's face and the wall behind her. She straightened, looking woefully down at her ruined fuku. "Rats."

"Hey, at least it still covers all the important parts, ne?" Sailor Jupiter tried to be cheerful.

"Yeah, I guess. I always liked Sailor V's fuku better anyway."

"Minna! Someone's coming!" Luna warned.

Sailor Venus growled and gripped the moon stick more tightly. Before anyone could stop her, she launched herself down the hallway, toward the approaching troop of warrior youma.

"Come on, Mars," Sailor Jupiter yelled cheerfully. "Let's go kick some tail!"

"Right!" As Sailor Jupiter bounded after Sailor Venus, Sailor Mars turned briefly to the remaining senshi. "Mercury, stay here with the cats. Yell if you need help."

There was a loud shout of glee, then the snap and crack of lightning down the hall, which filled the air with the smell of scorched ozone, followed by the scent of something organic burning. Sailor Mars wrinkled her nose in disgust, but ran after the other two girls as Sailor Jupiter bellowed; "Hurry up, Mars! You're missing all the fun!"

"Luna...." Sailor Mercury held the black cat close, her dark blue eyes wide. "What's happening to us? The others didn't used to be this aggressive, not even Sailor Jupiter. This just doesn't seem... right. What could be causing it?"

"I'm... I'm not sure."

"I think it's the princess," Artemis put in from down by Sailor Mercury's feet.

"What do you mean?"

He shook his head, then smoothed his whiskers with a nervous paw. "I'm not sure, really. It's just a gut feeling. Something has happened to our princess, and it's communicating itself to the rest of you girls. I'll have to ask Sailor Venus, if I can get an ounce of sense out of her."

"Artemis," Luna's voice was stern. "What does Sailor Venus--"

"Come on, guys!" Sailor Jupiter yelled. "It's all clear!"

"For the moment!" Sailor Mars added grimly.

"Let's go." Artemis bounded down the hall.

"Fine, kitty cat," Luna muttered as Sailor Mercury walked toward the smoking remains and scorched walls that marked the recent battleground. "But happenstance and your own luck won't carry you forever. Sooner or later you're going to answer my questions!"


"They're getting dangerously close to the throne room, my queen," Prince Endymion said, shifting from foot to foot and gripping his sword. "Are you certain you don't want me to go finish them?"

"Quite certain," Beryl snapped, watching as twenty youma were destroyed, only managing to get in a blow or two against the three young girls. Nothing that would even slow them, certainly. She looked up at the handsome young man standing beside her, her red eyes gleaming with maliciousness. "After all, to get through all that...." She waved a hand at the ranks of youma standing before the throne, so thick there seemed almost no end to them. "Especially without their leader...."

"But, my queen," Endymion protested, "They do have the ginzuishou, and that Sailor Venus seems to be a more ruthless leader than Sailor Moon ever was."

"Hm." Queen Beryl leaned her elbow on the throne arm, gazing speculatively at the young man. "You are right, in part, but you don't seem to realize how essential Sailor Moon is to the senshi. Without her they are crippled, and no matter how many of my youma they destroy, it will do them no good in the end. Trust me in this."

"Where is that little cry-baby, anyway?" Prince Endymion wondered, his brow furrowing. "Kunzite said she went back on their bargain, so she ought to be here, leading her little band."

Queen Beryl waved it off. "Perhaps she decided she really was better off leaving the senshi, even though she refused to join our glorious venture. It hardly matters, however, for Sailor Venus carries the ginzuishou to us in her stead."

"And it will be far easier to get it from the hands of one who cannot use its true power," Endymion grinned.

"Oh, but she can use it, tap its true potential."

Endymion's dark eyes widened. "How can that be?"

Queen Beryl smirked, but did not reply.


"So, this corridor leads right to an opening behind the throne?" Usagi asked, taking advantage of being able to speak aloud. This would be one of her last chances, for once they entered the secret passage before them there would be no verbal communication, for fear of detection.

"Hai." Kunzite nodded.

Usagi bent and peered at it.

"And Queen Beryl knows nothing about it?" Her voice was slightly incredulous.

"Oh, she knows about it."

Usagi straightened and glared at Kunzite. "Then how can we dare to take it? Surely she's rigged it or something!"

"Your mind gets more devious by the moment," Kunzite said, cocking his head and gazing at her with genuine interest on his face. "You're beginning to think more and more like a denizen of the Dark Kingdom would." Before she could get offended or protest, he answered her smoothly. "Of course there are traps. But I can deal with them easily."

"Without her knowing?"

He nodded again, his face dead serious. "It's not too difficult. They were implemented long ago. And her attention is sure to be caught up by your little friends and their quest for glory. She won't notice."

"Speaking of the senshi, they're getting closer all the time. We had better get going." But she did not move. "Won't Queen Beryl sense me coming, even without the ginzuishou?"

He shook his head, silvery bangs falling in his eyes. "I've told you, that is what we undertook the bonding for. So that you would seem as a being of the Dark Kingdom, even though you are not."

"Oh, is that the reason?" she said scathingly.

"Hey," he snapped, folding his arms. "You're hardly in any position to criticize! If that was not also your reason as well, then what cause had you to do this thing?"

"Yeah, yeah." She bit her lip. "You're right. But just 'cause I did it doesn't mean I have to like it."

"No one said you did. No more do I. But I won't take any 'holier than thou' attitude from you, when at the heart of the matter you're no less guilty than I am!"

"Unless stupidity is a crime," Usagi muttered bitterly.

Kunzite did not know how to respond to this self-inflicted barb by the usually overly-cheerful girl, and so said nothing. She chewed anxiously at her lower lip for a moment or two longer, staring at the passage opening, but not seeing it, then winced and blinked as her teeth drew blood.

"Ow!" She touched her lip with a fingertip, then straightened. "They're almost there. We better get moving."

But this time it was Kunzite who paused. "What do you mean, almost there?" he queried.

"Almost to Queen Beryl's throne room." She glanced at him, then bridled, mistaking his expression of disbelief. "I know I've never been there!" she snapped. "But I know they're almost there, okay?"

Kunzite shook his head. "I believe you in that matter, Usagi-chan. I just wondered how in the hell they had made it this far already."

Usagi squirmed with discomfort at the way her true name, as well as the tacked-on affectionism, flowed from his lips. But she didn't think he himself was even aware of it, so she said nothing.

"It's Sailor Venus," she said, her voice distant sounding, her eyes becoming unfocused as she looked inward. The bond between Kunzite and herself was manufactured, and growing stronger by the moment, but there were deeper bonds there, natural bondings with her friends and allies, which had never needed any magical knives or such to call them into being. "She's got the moon stick and the ginzuishou, and she's spearheading the efforts."

"That would explain it then" Kunzite said, hardly seeming aware of his words as his slanted silver eyes seemed also to see what Usagi almost saw.

She blinked. "Explain what?" she asked curiously, switching from the one giving the cause to the one questioning without a problem.

Kunzite blinked back at her, his face utterly blank. "Hadn't we best get a move on, as you said quite some time ago?"

She scowled at him, her soft mouth twisted, then she nodded brusquely. "Hai."

Kunzite levered open the secret passage. "Let me go first, to take out any traps."

She bit her lip, then winced, remembering she had bitten it. "This is it, isn't it?"

He turned, half in the tunnel. "Oh no, little Usagi-chan," he said, his eyes flat, his voice and face deadly serious. "This is only to kill Queen Beryl. If we can do that and escape with our lives, then we will still have to destroy Queen Metallia. Once that is accomplished the Dark Kingdom will collapse. You, I, your prince, anyone you wish to survive, had best get out fast. No. This is the easiest task we yet face."

Usagi's face paled, but her chin was firm and set. "Then we had best get to it," she replied, looking him levelly in the eye.

He gazed back silently. Here was a meeting of the souls, and they were both the better for it, their determination fueled by one another. But it was a disconcerting thing, to know another person so deeply, and to realize they knew you just as well. Both broke the contact at the same moment, without even realizing.

Kunzite entered the passageway, Usagi on his heels. Perhaps the battle before them was not the last nor the hardest, but it was the most immediate, and they gave it their full attention as they wormed their secret way toward the throne room, while the senshi carved their own path, of blood.

: : Part 5: Battle in the Throne Room : :


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