Blood Moon- Part 5
Part 5! Hard to believe I've gotten this far. I may, just possibly, finish this! Well, my friends'll lynch me if I don't finish it. The amazing part is that it may not drag on for more than an 'episode' or two more than I'd expected! For me, that's almost a miracle. I honestly don't know how it happened.
"Sailor Moon" is the property of Takeuchi Naoko.
WARNING: This 'episode' is violent and sorta harsh - there's quite a bit of swearing, and some of the senshi are acting not very nice. If you can't handle it... well, then you probably didn't finish part 4, and aren't reading this! Uh, yeah. I think I'll leave off that little paradox before it gets any sillier. Too late! Oh well, sanity is over-rated anyway.
"Part Five- Battle In the Throne Room"
She tried to stop it, and when she couldn't, she tried to stifle it, but nothing helped. Kunzite turned and gave her about the third worst glare she'd ever seen in her life. She rubbed her tickling nose, then smiled sheepishly. He rolled his eyes, shook his head, and continued on.
They dared not have a light of any kind to guide them, but fortunately this tunnel had its own illumination. It wasn't much; Usagi could barely see her hands when she waved them before her; but it was enough to show her her ally's broad back, and to keep her from mis-stepping. And it seemed that the longer she was here -- whether that was 'here' in the tunnel, or 'here' in the Dark Kingdom, she couldn't be sure -- the better she was able to see with less light. And of course there was her bond with Kunzite, which often showed her mind more than her eyes saw.
She had wondered, at first, why they were able to walk down this secret passage, instead of having to crawl, as in the last couple, but on further thought it made a certain amount of sense. If Queen Beryl was forced to use this bolt-hole, even if she was retreating, and especially if she wasn't, she would wish to do so in a swift, dignified manner, not struggling and crawling on her belly. Usagi had never seen Queen Beryl, of course, but she had a very foggy memory from her first life, and there was a certain amount shared between she and Kunzite even when their bond was passive, and so she got the distinct mental image of a long purple dress -- very revealing at the top, but that wasn't her concern -- which flowed down to the floor and past. She was by no means sure of the validity of her vision, yet still the idea persisted. And if that was indeed what Queen Beryl wore, it was no wonder this passage was the height it was.
Usagi snapped back to reality as Kunzite turned and gave her a sharp look. He could tell her thoughts were wandering, and she knew he wanted her attention fully on the matter at hand. She didn't blame him. She gave him a grim look and a brisk nod, to show she was back in business.
However, as they continued down the passage -- how long was it, anyway? -- she found herself thinking of her friends, the other senshi. She sensed that they were, so far, still doing all right. Considering. Well, at least no one was dead or seriously hurt. But she wondered just how much longer that would last. It was all very well to use them as a distraction when there was nothing she could do to help them, but for the sake of everyone, she had best finish Beryl off quickly. Remove Beryl, and her friends might actually have a chance against what were otherwise mind- boggling odds.
And so it was down to her... and the knife. She could feel it at her side as strongly as she felt Kunzite before her, almost as much a part of her, and far less reassuring. It seemed to be buzzing happily at the back of her mind the nearer they came to their destination and probable bloodshed. As Kunzite stopped her with a raised hand so that he could dismantle another trap, she could feel the eagerness of the blade almost as though it was her own. And she didn't like that.
Suddenly she was quite distracted from the knife.
"Prepare yourself. We're almost there."
She started, almost squealing in startlement and fear, as Kunzite's voice sounded within her head. Fortunately she controlled herself, or Kunzite might have flamed her away on the spot. She clutched her chest and gasped for breath. Her heart seemed to be pounding through her ribcage, and her eyes were as wide as they ever got.
"Next time give a little warning!" she whipped back at him in the same manner, without even thinking how she was managing to do something so strange and new. It was their bond, of course. She just hadn't ever thought of taking the next logical step, going from picking up someone's thoughts and feelings, to projecting one's own. She found that now she had realized it could be done, it was as simple as speaking aloud.
She could see his exasperated, slightly amused look through the dark, and through their bond. "And just how would you suggest I should have gone about that?"
She bit her lip, flinching as she rediscovered once more that she'd bitten it through. "I don't know. You just-- You--" Then what he'd 'said' finally hit her. "We're almost there?!"
He nodded grimly. "Are you sure you're up to this, Usagi-chan?"
She tossed her head. "Well, if I'm not, then we've sure come a long way for nothing!"
"It's just that past experience tells me...."
"Listen, it's my life on the line here! And the lives of my friends, and my-- Mam-- Prince Endymion! And your life! And let's not forget, the life of every single human being back on Earth, including my parents and brother! I may have fudged things in the past, but this is more important than anything I've ever done, and I am in this to the end! Whatever that end may be!"
"Pretty little speech," he said sardonically, but she felt him relax a little, as he sensed the fervency and sincerity that backed up her 'little speech'.
She stepped forward and placed a hand on his arm. "Things will work out all right," she said, gazing up at him with innocent eyes. "I'm certain of it."
"You're also an adolescent girl with the mind of a child, and a hopeless romantic to boot," Kunzite commented, but his words were less mocking and more affectionate than even he'd expected. "But if believing that makes you feel better, go right ahead. I just wish I could be as certain."
In a move that took them both utterly by surprise, Usagi stood up on tiptoe and planted a quick, warm kiss on his dark cheek.
"Errrrmmm... right.... I better take out this last trap, then," he said, turning swiftly away. Usagi, after a moment of shock at her impulsiveness and daring, and over the fact that he had taken her act so calmly, folded her arms and let a long, slow smile curve her lips.
Another gout of red, another swift death. Somehow Sailor Venus had modified her beam into an ever-present blade of sharp slicing, and she laid about her, cutting great swathes in the seemingly endless ranks of youma. But endless they were not, and she could see the throne through their massed bodies, through her sweat soaked bangs, through the stinging blood streaming down her brow. The other senshi were well behind her, several waves of youma back, but Sailor Venus was not afraid. She stood alone, and she liked it. She had the ginzuishou, and every step was bringing her closer to her princess.
The others were a bit hindered by their need to protect Sailor Mercury and the cats. Not that Sailor Mercury was helpless. She was getting pretty adept at freezing a youma or two, who could then be shattered by a lightning blast from Sailor Jupiter. But she had less offensive magic than the other three senshi, and had the added disability of wearing a cat draped over each shoulder. And at the moment, the cats were useless.
So these three were flanked by Sailor Mars with her flames and Sailor Jupiter with her ki blasts. They hadn't made much headway, for they had to make sure they weren't circled by the mass of youma. But they were cutting a deeper and deeper wedge out of said mass, and apparently a certain number of youma were deciding they feared death more than Queen Beryl's wrath, for the ranks were thinning at the edges more than could be accounted for merely by casualties.
And still Sailor Venus slew on.
Queen Beryl was not unaware of the deserters from her ranks, but she had other things on her mind. The cowardly -- or, some might argue, intelligent -- youma who ran would be captured, tortured, and slain when all this was over. But right now she needed to focus all her attention on the senshi cutting down those youma which were standing true. Most especially Sailor Venus, who was getting uncomfortably near.
"My Queen?" Prince Endymion queried eagerly.
She nodded, ever so slightly, still not quite certain in her own mind. But that little was all the encouragement Endymion needed, and he dashed down off the dais and toward the fray, drawing his sword in a smooth sweep.
Queen Beryl winced as he sliced his own red path through the youma, but he didn't have the patience to wait for them to notice him and get out of his way. The losses would be worth it, for he would rid her of Sailor Venus, the threat she posed, and get the ginzuishou in the bargain.
"That's done it."
The last trap was disabled, and Queen Beryl still had not sensed their presence. They stood before the door that opened to the back of the throne. Usagi was sweating, and she was having difficulty drawing a complete breath. She didn't think she'd ever been this frightened in all her life. Never before had so much depended on her, and her alone. The next few minutes were going to be critical, and even though she was going to have a second battle after this one, Kunzite was going to help her in that one. He couldn't help her here, except by getting her to Beryl and giving her the knife to use, both of which he'd already done. She gulped, suddenly not sure she could go through with it, sticking a blade in another being. It was such an awful thought. She closed her eyes tightly, feeling sick and a little dizzy.
Then Kunzite's hand closed, warm and reassuring, on her shoulder. She blinked up at him, her fear clear to read on her face, even if it hadn't been throbbing through their bond.
"Be strong. I'm with you."
She smiled weakly at him, feeling better in spite of herself. Then suddenly she stiffened, her eyes glazing over.
"What is it?" Kunzite asked urgently.
"Oh my God! Oh my God!" She clapped her hands over her mouth, staring at him with wide eyes that saw something else. "Oh my God!"
"What is it, Usagi-chan?!"
"Minak-- Sailor Venus is fighting Prince Endymion!" She clasped her hands more tightly over her mouth, trying to keep her exclamations of horror inside. "Oh my GOD!!"
"Then you must strike now, quickly!" Kunzite said urgently.
"Oh God, yes, NOW!!!"
She released her mouth and grabbed the knife handle. It nearly jumped out of the sheath, as Kunzite flung open the secret door then stepped quickly back out of her way.
He'd explained things carefully. Usagi jumped out knowing exactly where she was and where she was heading. She must destroy Beryl, quickly, and hope to heaven that this would break the bitch's hold over Prince Endymion before he killed Sailor Venus.
Sailor Venus narrowed her eyes as she saw Prince Endymion barreling down on her. So, he wanted a fight, did he? Well, he would get one!
She spun, swinging her glowing golden beam to intercept his silver sword. The two blades flashed and sparked, sliding swiftly apart.
Prince Endymion hadn't been too serious in his blow, and Sailor Venus had parried it with no difficulty. Evidently he wanted to toy with her a bit before he finished her off. Tried to finish her off. She thought he had quite clearly underestimated her, and she was ready and willing to correct him in his assumptions. She'd been dying to do this since the Silver Millennium, and her battle rage was up anyway.
Prince Endymion was going to be lucky if he got away with a simple trouncing.
"Oh, shit!" Sailor Jupiter expostulated delicately as she sheered off a youma's head with a closely focused bolt.
"What?" Sailor Mars asked, looking around. Most of the youma were holding back, finally seeming to grow a little weary of willingly throwing themselves upon the source of their death. Sailor Mars had thought it was beginning to look as though they might get a breathing space -- and her left thigh ached where some youma had gotten in a lucky kick before cooking in its own skin -- but there was a great deal of shock and dread in Sailor Jupiter's voice.
"Oh, shit!" she repeated. She was looking toward the throne. "Look! Sailor Venus is taking on Prince Endymion!"
"Oh my God!" Sailor Mercury gasped.
"Grab him quick!" Luna yelled.
Sailor Jupiter snapped out a long arm and grasped Artemis by the scruff of his neck as he shot off Sailor Mercury's shoulder in a white flash. She didn't feel it was very polite, but she was forced to dangle him at arm's length as he suddenly turned into a snarling, spitting ball of claws and fangs.
"Artemis!" Sailor Mars shouted, before turning to fry a couple youma who were trying to take advantage of the group's distraction.
"Artemis, please, calm down!" Sailor Mercury pleaded, nearly in tears.
"Knock it off, cat, or I'm gonna punt you into the nearest wall!" Sailor Jupiter snapped, shaking him.
This last seemed to get through to him, and he stopped struggling, hanging limp, though his fur was still standing out in all directions, and his blue eyes were wide and frenzied. He was panting for breath, his slim chest and sides heaving. "You don't understand!" he yowled. "We have to stop them! She'll kill him!"
"Huh?" Sailor Jupiter was confused. She plunked Artemis on her shoulder, blasted a few youma, then asked; "Don't you have that backwards, cat?"
"I'm afraid he may be right," Luna put in. "And if Sailor Venus doesn't succeed, then Prince Endymion will surely kill her. Either way, we must get to them and break it up as quickly as possible!"
"You forget, Minako has the ginzuishou," Artemis said to his colleague.
She got a little blue about the eyes. "You're right, I had forgotten! And evidently she remembers even more than I about the Silver Millennium, so she may just know how to use it!"
"Count on it," Artemis said grimly.
"Damn you, Artemis," Luna snarled. "If we live through this mess, I'm going to rip you red!"
"Fine. But let's get going, shall we?"
"Right!" Sailor Jupiter leapt to the initiative, and to the fore, blasting about twenty youma. Only five or six of them were killed, but the rest were shoved abruptly out of the way, and they in turn smashed down twenty or thirty other youma. All of them ended up too wounded or dazed to rise as Sailor Jupiter strode through the suddenly clear spot she had created. Then she blasted twenty more.
"Damn, this is fun!" she cheered. "Why didn't I think of it earlier? Mars, watch our back!"
"I am!" Sailor Mars snapped.
"Hurry, Mako-chan," Artemis urged in the tall warrior's ear.
"Aaaaalllll RIGHT!" she yelled gleefully, blowing over another bunch of youma. "Now we're kicking some serious butt!!"
Sailor Venus parried yet another heavy-handed blow. Endymion was missing his memory of his first life, as well as the second, but he apparently hadn't learned anything about finesse since he'd last visited the Moon Kingdom. She grinned wickedly to herself. There was nothing about brute force she couldn't handle, and with her smaller size and more skillful attacks, she would turn the tables and be the one toying with him! This was going to be payback for all the hurt he'd ever caused her!
Prince Endymion unleashed another heavy barrage, which she slid neatly under. His chest was well armored, but his face was not, and she nicked his cheek before dancing back. She hadn't meant the strike to be truly damaging, and the heat of her blade cauterized the small wound instantly, so that it did not even bleed. But it hurt, and, more to the point, it was a blow to his pride. She had not only gotten in the first strike, but she had pulled it, adding insult to injury.
She saw the realization in his dark eyes, and he snarled, glaring at her. She laughed aloud to see the amusement on his face replaced by anger. Good. Now they were on equal footing.
She parried another blow, then got a slice across her knuckles for the trouble. It wasn't anything that worried her, only fed her fury. Then he struck again, more quickly than she had expected, and she barely got the moon stick up in time to keep her head on her shoulders. The silver blade met the ginzuishou with a loud ringing sound, and Prince Endymion quickly drew his blade back. There was a melted dent in its edge now, where it had met the gem. Sailor Venus grinned again, and filed that away for future reference. She also resolved to begin taking this fight more seriously. Endymion's swordwork might be crude and rely more on strength than intelligence, but she shouldn't allow herself to become too cocky. That might just lose her the battle.
She snapped out again, slicing an arc in the breastplate of his armor with the tip of her blade. The beam sheered easily through the metal, and she grinned even more sharply. This was going to be fun!
"Almost there!" Sailor Jupiter yelled. It was truly unbelievable how far Sailor Venus had carved her way toward the throne!
"Great Flames, isn't there ever an end to these wretched creatures?" Sailor Mars groaned, wearily frying a couple more youma. She was less concerned over the battle Sailor Venus was waging with her beloved Mamo- chan -- after all, she was sure he could win it easily, no matter what the cats said -- than she was with keeping the youma closing in behind them off of Sailor Mercury and herself. No wonder Queen Beryl had never tried to stop Sailor Moon destroying the beasts. She seemed to have an endless supply, here in her throne room!
Sailor Venus suddenly felt a powerful wave sweep through her, and the ginzuishou sang in her hand as she dropped to one knee. Fortunately for her, Prince Endymion seemed to be affected similarly, or he could have easily killed her at that moment.
As one, they turned to the throne.
Queen Beryl spun in surprise as the secret door banged open, presenting herself as a perfect target. Usagi didn't even think, only reacted, allowing the knife to drive itself to the hilt in the woman's chest, just above her left breast.
There was a brief pause, as though time had ceased to exist. Queen Beryl looked at Usagi in shock, her red eyes wide. Then all sight faded from those eyes, and she fell, nearly wrenching the knife from Usagi's hand.
But the blade would not let her release it, much as she dearly wished to. As a part of her screamed in horror at what she had just done, and another part marveled in shocked wonder, thinking that it couldn't possibly be that easy to have vanquished the enemy, most of her was under the thrall of the blade. She leapt down from the dais with a mad scream, into the mass of confused youma, who had yet to realize their ruler was dead.
"Usagi-- Oh, shit!" Kunzite scowled after her, then stepped forward and looked down at the limp body lying sprawled in a pool of her spilled blood. He felt no real victory, no sense of fulfillment at Queen Beryl's death. He had not struck the blow himself, only guiding the hand that had. Beryl had not anticipated her death, had not seen him before blackness descended upon her sight forever. Now Zoisite was revenged, and that eased the tortuous ache in his soul a little, but Beryl's death would not bring Zoisite back. Kunzite was relieved that it was over, but he felt nothing much more.
Suddenly he snapped back to reality. Damn! He had to get Usagi and go after Queen Metallia, quickly! Before it was too late and they'd lost the element of surprise.
He hopped down off the dais, and started toward the nearest tangle of fighting.
When Queen Beryl died, Prince Endymion fell to his knees, his sword clattering to the floor. Sailor Venus was shaken, but not so badly, and there was no telling what she might have done to her opponent, defenseless though he was, had not the others finally reached her at that point.
"VENUS!" Sailor Jupiter bellowed, slamming a hand down on her shoulder. Sailor Venus started, her blade winking out of existence.
"Hell!" she swore, giving Sailor Jupiter an angry glare with wild eyes. "Look what you made me do!"
"Minako." Artemis's voice was low, but it cut through Sailor Venus's fury like a blade.
She blinked, then sense returned to her. And with sense came knowledge.
The others stared in shock as she spun and began cutting her way through the youma at an angle to the throne. Then suddenly they too realized what was happening just a few yards away.
"Sailor Moon!" yelled Sailor Mercury, and all three girls took off after Sailor Venus, widening the trail she was blazing. Even Sailor Mars went, forgetting Prince Endymion in her excitement.
When they came upon their missing leader, she and Sailor Venus were back to back, battling with mindless fury. No one liked to get too close to the long, blood-soaked knife Sailor Moon was wielded in expert hands. They just stood and stared in shock, trying to take in her bizarre appearance -- for she was still wearing the uniform Kunzite had given her -- and the chillingly efficient way she was dealing with the many youma who were attacking her.
"What... the... hell...?" Sailor Mars gasped, her jaw dropping.
"VENUS!" Sailor Jupiter yelled again. "STOP HER!!"
For a wonder, Sailor Venus seemed to take notice of her fellow senshi. Or perhaps she just decided herself that things had gone far enough. She blasted most of the youma in front of her, then she turned, grasping one of Usagi's shoulders, and crying out to her in an anguished voice. But Usagi took no notice. The knife still had her in its grip.
Suddenly a wash of blue flames seared about the two girls, dissolving the youma, living and dead alike, but leaving Usagi and Sailor Venus untouched.
"Kunzite!" Sailor Mars snarled.
"No, wait, don't!" Sailor Venus cried, flinging up a hand as she realized what Sailor Mars was about to do. But too late.
Kunzite saw the flames coming, but he didn't have time to protect himself. They engulfed him, not burning him, yet still doing a fair amount of damage. He fell without a cry.
Usagi suddenly folded, falling to her knees and screaming in agony. The knife flew from her fingers as she clutched at herself.
"Shit!" Sailor Venus threw herself down next to her, then pressed the moon stick -- which was barely recognizable under the layers of clotted blood coating it -- into her leader's unresisting fingers, clasping her own hand about Usagi's. There was a soft humming sound, and the ginzuishou glowed a gentle gold, the dried blood flaking off it to leave it clean and clear.
Usagi straightened painfully, and leaned against Sailor Venus, gasping, her tightly closed eyes streaming tears. The ginzuishou's glow slowly faded. Usagi drew in a long, quavering breath, then her eyes flew open. "Kunzite!" She leapt to her feet, and dashed over to her fallen ally.
"What the hell is going on here?" Sailor Jupiter wondered loudly. Sailor Mercury and the two cats were frozen in shock. Sailor Venus picked up the moon stick from where Usagi had dropped it.
"She's turned traitor!" Sailor Mars hissed, her dark eyes narrowing as she watched Usagi trying to awaken Kunzite.
Sailor Venus stood and took a step toward Sailor Mars, a grimly calculating expression turning her lovely young features to stone. Holding the moon stick upside-down, she swung her arm up, almost casually, and cracked its end into the other girl's jaw. Sailor Mars hit the floor, dazed and bleeding.
"Venus!" Sailor Jupiter gasped. Sailor Mercury choked.
"Bitch," Sailor Venus said softly, her voice flat and completely emotionless. "You're not worth the dirt on her shoes." She spat on the floor before Sailor Mars and walked over to Usagi.
No one knew what to do, or what to say. Sailor Mercury wordlessly helped Sailor Mars stagger to her feet, and pressed a clean handkerchief to the slice on her chin.
"She's gone mad," Sailor Jupiter finally choked out. "They both have!"
Artemis hopped down off her shoulder. "I will admit that Minako went too far just now," he said, his voice calm and more even than it seemed it should be. "But don't forget that Usagi just killed Queen Beryl. Even if she engaged the help of an enemy, that makes her far from a traitor."
"Beryl's dead?!" Luna and Sailor Jupiter yelped in chorus.
"Queen Beryl is dead?" Sailor Mercury echoed. They all suddenly realized that they were no longer being attacked by any youma. In fact, as they looked around, the huge throne room was empty, but for the senshi, the cats, Usagi, who couldn't technically be counted as a senshi in her drab uniform, Kunzite, who was slowly regaining consciousness, and the limp, lifeless body of Queen Beryl up on the dais.
"Beryl's dead!" Sailor Jupiter crowed.
"Where's Mamoru?" Sailor Mars cried, forgetting her throbbing face and the murder her heart now held toward Sailor Venus.
"I guess the spell wasn't broken when Beryl died," Sailor Mercury sighed.
"Of course not," croaked Kunzite, who was sitting now, supported on each side by a golden haired beauty. "He wasn't bespelled to be loyal to Beryl. He was -- is -- loyal to the Dark Kingdom. Until it is destroyed, he will serve it, and continue to fight against you."
"No!" Sailor Mars cried.
"You sound as though you condone the destruction of your home realm," Sailor Mercury said, her tone a query.
Kunzite nodded sharply. "Either it goes, or I do. I make the more pragmatic choice."
"But how can you bring down the Dark Kingdom?" Luna protested.
Usagi and Sailor Venus helped Kunzite to his feet. He was a bit wobbly, but was recovering quickly. "First Usagi and I have to destroy Queen Metallia, and quickly, before she awakens. Once that is accomplished, everything else will follow. Speaking of which, Usagi-chan, we'd better...."
"Are you sure you're up to it?" Usagi asked anxiously.
"I have to be. If we don't do this now, we're all doomed."
"None of you are going anywhere!" Sailor Mars snapped. "This is ridiculous! I don't believe a word you're saying! Jupiter, help me stop them!"
"Sorry, we don't have time to stay and chat," Kunzite said sweetly. As Sailor Mars started toward them, her bloody chin thrust forward in determination, and Sailor Jupiter followed a step behind her, uncertain, confusion written all over her face, Kunzite, with both Usagi and Sailor Venus attached, warped out of the throne room.
"Now what?" asked Sailor Jupiter plaintively.
"Now we do a lot of talking very quickly," Artemis replied.
Luna heartily agreed.
: : Part 6: Secrets Revealed : :
Fan Fiction Menu: : A.t.o.s.a.k.i: :