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Blood Moon- Part 6
by becca-oneechan
2/12/97

I meant to try to keep this fanfic under 6 or 7 parts, but seeing as this is Part 6, and it looks like I'll have to have at *least* two or three more 'episodes', well.... I didn't really expect to get it finished as briefly as I'd hoped, but it was something to shoot for.

"Sailor Moon" is the property of Takeuchi Naoko.

--Blood Moon--
*becca-oneechan*
"Pt 6- Secrets Revealed"


Darkness. All around, darkness. Soft, sweet, enfolding darkness.

Usagi sighed and relaxed. Then she frowned slightly to herself. There was something she was supposed to be doing... something urgent.... But she couldn't call whatever it was to mind, so she dismissed it from her thoughts.

"Usagi-chan?"

She frowned more deeply and tried to ignore the beseeching voice which had called to her from outside the darkness. She wasn't ready to leave yet, didn't want to remember.

"Usagi-chan, please!"

It grew harder to brush off the note of anguished pleading in the voice, but Usagi knew somehow that to return to light was to return to pain and danger, and she just wasn't ready for that.

"Usagi, wake, now."

Oh hell. There was no ignoring that voice. It tugged at her mind from far more deeply within her soul than the darkness which was cradling her, and compelled her to obey.

"Usagi, we don't have time for this foolishness. Wake. Now."

"Oh, Kunzite--"

"Hush. We need her. I can't allow her to wallow in self-pity and--"

"Hey!" Usagi grumbled. "Don't be such a butt-head, Kunzite. You know I can hear every word you say."

"Oh, good, you're awake." Was that sarcasm in his voice, or real relief? She was feeling too foggy to tell, though she rather thought it was the former.

"What happened to me?" she asked, having to struggle to keep her words from slurring. The world kept trying to slip sideways, and there was a several second delay in the relay of the information her senses were sending of the world around her. It took her a while to realize she was cushioned against Kunzite's chest, with one of her hands clasped in both of Minako's, and the other resting on one of Kunzite's thighs.

"We're not sure," Minako said. Usagi blinked at her friend, for the first time able to really take in her appearance.

"Ooh! No offense, Minako-chan, but you look awful!"

She did, too. Her fuku was nearly nonexistent, only shreds of the skirt remaining around the top of her panties, and the barest amount of the top covering her bosom. The entire rest of the torso, most of the skirt, and both the ribbons were gone. The remaining material, as well as the generous amount of flesh it exposed, was splattered and streaked with dried blood. More blood matted her formerly-silky pale blonde hair, and ran across her lovely face in streams. Beneath the masking blood there were many darkening bruises on her long legs and bare arms, and one of her eyes was swelling and turning purple.

The young girl shrugged it off. "I'll live. We were really worried about you though."

Usagi blinked, memories of recent events slowly... slowly coming back to her, foggy as a dream. As certain aspects hit her, she wished it had been a dream.

"Oh God!" She jolted up off of Kunzite's chest, her blue eyes flying wide and terrified. "What have I done?!"

"Defeated Queen Beryl," Kunzite answered calmly.

"You mean killed her! Oh God, I killed her! I--" Kunzite clapped a large hand over Usagi's mouth as her voice spiraled up into near hysteria.

"Quiet!" he hissed in her ear. "We aren't safe yet!"

Usagi took no note though. She was staring in horror at her hands, which were streaked with blood that was not quite dry. More blood spattered her uniform, and memories were flooding back, of the way Queen Beryl's eyes had widened, stared incredulously at her, then dulled, of how the woman had slumped lifelessly to the floor before Usagi, of the many youma that had then died on her knife without even having time to defend themselves, much less attacking her in the first place. She moaned deep inside her chest, her hands shaking wildly, hot tears streaming from her eyes and over Kunzite's fingers.

"Usagi-chan!" Minako grabbed her hands and clasped them so tightly it hurt. "Be calm! It's all right! It'll be all right!"

Usagi blinked. Minako was radiating the full force of her love and compassion, and it burned away the dark cloud of horror that had gripped her mind. She stared at Minako, and Kunzite relaxed and released her mouth as he sensed through their bond that she had herself mostly back under control.

"What did you do?" Usagi gasped in shock as more memories returned to her.

Minako winced and tried to let go of Usagi's hands, but Usagi held on tight. She cast her eyes to the side, her face filled with shame. "I'm not sure, but it's not good," she said hoarsely, her voice so soft Usagi could barely hear her.

"I'd say you did something someone should've done long ago," Kunzite said quietly.

The girls both started, having forgotten the man was there. He leaned back against the wall, resting an arm on an upraised knee. Usagi was still leaning against his other leg, Minako kneeling before her. They were hidden inside a secret passage, having been forced to take refuge when Usagi had seemingly gone into shock, and they had discovered that the missing youma, with Prince Endymion at their center, had formed a thick guard around Queen Metallia.

"Your Sailor Mars is a bitch," Kunzite went on. "Someone should've belted her long since!"

Usagi frowned. "You're just saying that 'cause she blasted you," she accused, half joking.

Kunzite shook his head. "No, I'm not. And besides, that got *you* too!"

Usagi snorted. Minako was gazing at Kunzite with wide, wounded eyes.

"It's not just that," she said, the shiver of a sob in her voice. "I don't know how many youma I killed on the way in here."

Kunzite waved this off. "Youma are expendable."

"They think. They feel. They felt pain as I killed them."

"They were trying to kill you."

"Oh. Yeah." She shook her head sharply. "No! That doesn't justify it. They were only acting under Queen Beryl's orders."

"Don't you think they like to kill? Don't you think that they would have exalted if they had been able to end your life?"

"That may be, but their blood is still on my head -- and all over my body. Not only that, but I endangered all my friends, as well as myself, and the ginzuishou. I was reckless and thoughtless, and I..." she faltered, biting her lip until it bled.

Kunzite leaned forward, an intently interested expression sharpening his dark face "Why did you do what you did? Why did you bring the ginzuishou into the Dark Kingdom alone? Why did you risk your own life?"

Minako suddenly burst into tears, hiding her face in her hands. Usagi quickly moved away from Kunzite and wrapped her arms around her sobbing friend, trying to soothe her. She restrained herself from glaring at Kunzite, for she knew through their bond that he hadn't meant to upset Minako so badly, but she was still a little pissed.

"I-- I-- I had to!" Minako managed to choke out. "Don't you remember- - remember from before--?"

Kunzite fingered his chin, lost in thought as Usagi stroked Minako's hair and the other girl slowly got herself back under control.

"Of course..." he said softly, and he gave Minako a look that was gentle, almost pitying. Usagi saw it and was confused. Minako, looking up, blinking because her salt tears made her black eye sting, caught her breath and became almost fearful in her intensity of emotion.

"You do remember!" she cried.

"Yes, I do."

She lunged forward, grabbing his hand, fresh tears springing hot and coursing down her cheeks, washing away some of the dried blood. "You-- You actually know-- Know the truth--?"

"Yes, I do, Princess," Kunzite said softly.

With a small, strangled cry, Minako threw herself against his chest, shuddering sobs shaking her slim body. Kunzite grimaced uncomfortably, but then he wrapped one arm around her waist, the other hand going to gently cradle the back of her head.

"Kunzite, what's wrong with Minako-chan?" Usagi asked slightly plaintively, worried about her friend,and peeved because her former enemy knew more about what was going on than she did. There might also have been just the slightest touch of jealousy at seeing Minako turn to Kunzite for comfort, and seeing him give it to her, but if Usagi did indeed experience such feelings she in no way acknowledged it on a conscious level.

Kunzite looked uncertain. "I don't know if...."

But he had already given away more than he meant, through their bond. "The past?" Usagi asked, her eyes growing misty as she tried to remember her former life, with a very decided lack of success. "Kunzite, what does this have to do with the Moon Kingdom?"

Minako finally stopped crying, sniffing and scrubbing her good eye as she pulled away from Kunzite. She crouched miserably next to him, clenching and unclenching her fists. "Go ahead," she croaked. "If you know the truth, I don't mind you telling. But I can't do it myself."

Kunzite shook his head, frowning slightly. "I don't feel it's my place-- "

"But I can't!" Minako cried in anguish. The other two frantically hushed her, and she subsided. "I just can't," she moaned.

Usagi turned her worried gaze from her friend to Kunzite, her eyes growing hard. "You heard the girl. So, spill!"

Kunzite sighed wearily and knuckled the bridge of his nose. "Usagi- chan, we really should be trying to figure out some way to destroy Queen Metallia...." He looked up and caught the determined, stubborn expression on her face. "But I see we're not going anywhere until your curiosity is satisfied."

She ignored the bitter, sarcastic tone of his voice and nodded briefly. "Hai!"


Back in the throne room, things were pretty close to chaotic. Artemis sat calmly at the center of a violent storm. Luna was railing at him, trying to force confessions, or at least some information, from him. Sailor Mercury was as near hysteria as it was possible for her to get, pleading with Luna to calm down, and trying to placate Sailor Mars. Sailor Mars was ready to go find Prince Endymion one second, and then bucking to track down Sailor Venus and scratch out her eyes the next.

Finally Sailor Jupiter had had enough, and more than enough.

"All right!" she bellowed. "Minna! Shut up! You are going to listen to me for a second!"

"Oh, yes, we all know Sailor Jupiter can clear everything up," Sailor Mars jeered as Luna and Sailor Mercury quieted. "After all, she's the most intelligent, thoughtful member of--"

Sailor Jupiter's hand whipped out swifter than thought and smacked the dark senshi across the face. "Shut up, bitch," she snarled.

"Jupiter!" Luna gasped.

Sailor Jupiter folded her arms and scowled blackly as Sailor Mars stared at her in disbelief, the cut on her chin trickling red blood once again. "Well, I'm sick of her constant criticism and insults! It's bad enough when she picks on Usagi-chan, but there ain't no way she's starting in on me! Some people fight back with more than tears, Mars. Your lesson for today. Learn it and remember, or I'll have to pound it into you!"

Sailor Mars's face closed in a deadly expression and she took a step toward Sailor Jupiter, her eyes flashing. Sailor Jupiter fell into a ready stance, her fists raised.

"If you girls are quite finished...." Artemis's dry voice cut through the impending battle, somehow draining the fight out of both the senshi.

Sailor Mercury was sobbing quietly into her gloves, overcome by the last few hours' events.

"Oh, Ami-chan!" Sailor Jupiter, instantly contrite, went to her and hugged her tightly. "Gomen nasai!"

Sailor Mars just glared and sat down on a convenient youma corpse, blotting at her chin.

Artemis sighed. "Minna. Listen. Queen Beryl is dead. But our problems are not even close to finished. Our leader has vanished, but it looks to me -- and I will hear no dissension --" Here he glared at Sailor Mars, but she wasn't looking at him, only staring vacantly into space, "It looks to me like she knows just what she's doing. And it sounds as though she is about to bring down the Dark Kingdom. Now, the intelligent thing to do would be to get the hell out whilewe can and leave it to her. But of course no one here is going to do the intelligent thing...."

"Of course not," Sailor Jupiter answered cheerfully, grinning at the cat with a restoration of good humor. Sailor Mercury had stopped crying and now leaned against the taller senshi's shoulder, sniffling. Luna crouched at her feet, watching Artemis narrowly through slitted eyes.

"Right. I wouldn't expect anything less from myself or you. Now, it seems obvious to me that Prince Endymion is the only reasonable successor to power, at least until Queen Metallia is awakened and released. And it also seems to me that if I were the prince and my queen and lover had just been killed--" he ignored the muffled squeak that came from Sailor Mars's direction, "That once I had established myself before Metallia, I would send out a couple dozen youma to wipe out any vermin that were stupid enough to remain hanging around in the throne room."

"I'll ignore that 'stupid' crack," Sailor Jupiter said, still grinning, "And venture to guess that in a strange, roundabout way you're trying to warn us that it's not really safe to stay here much longer."

"Give the girl a prize! You see, Luna, they can be taught!"

Luna just glared at him. "I agree with your reasoning, Artemis, and I'll go along with it. But you are *not* going to create a distraction, and you are not going to get out of telling us what you know!"

"Fine." The white cat nodded briefly. "But we can postpone the third- degree for a few minutes. If my feline ears do not deceive me, there are a large number of clawed feet moving swiftly down a couple of the nearest tunnels toward us."

"Shit!" cried Sailor Jupiter.

"I don't want to fight any more," Sailor Mercury gulped, pressing her knuckles tightly against her trembling lips.

"Quick, follow me!" Artemis bounded through the scattered youma bodies then jumped up onto the dais and ducked into the secret passage Usagi and Kunzite had used to enter the throne room.

"Help me, Mercury," Sailor Jupiter grunted, grasping one of Sailor Mars' arms and heaving the other girl to her feet. Luna ran before them as they dragged the unresisting senshi across the last few yards to the throne.

"Cripes!" Sailor Jupiter paused for the barest second over Queen Beryl's lifeless body. "Can you believe our little Usagi-chan did that?"

"Please, let's not--" Sailor Mercury looked a little ill.

"Jupiter!" Luna called.

The three girls disappeared behind the throne and Sailor Jupiter levered the door closed just as forty or so youma burst into the throne room, ready for battle.

"Whew! Made it!" sighed Sailor Jupiter.


"All right. I guess it's time to drag the skeletons out of the closet," Kunzite sighed. "Though why I, as an outsider, have to tell this...."

"Because Minako-chan says she can't, and Artemis isn't here," Usagi snapped.

"You were there," Minako said quietly, her voice deceptively calm. Kunzite started and stared at her, but her head was sunk onto her knees.

"How--?"

"I remember. I remember just about everything, I think."

Usagi was looking at her friend in wonder. "You do? But even Luna doesn't remember much! And I don't think I remember anything!"

Minako didn't raise her head. "I remember. I remember even more than Artemis knows I do. Have you any idea how hard it is to have lived two lives?"

Usagi was silent, trying to imagine this. Then she shuddered. Poor Minako!

Evidently Kunzite felt much the same way, from the compassionate expression that crossed his face, and the gentle tone of his voice as he began.

"All right. Usagi-chan, you say you remember nothing?"

She shook her head. "When the ginzuishou first appeared and I became the Princess everything flooded back into me, but as soon as I became Sailor Moon again, it all went away. Luna told us a little, but it's all like a story, it's not something I did or was."

Kunzite nodded. Usagi's brows rose as she noticed he was absently rubbing Minako's back. She didn't think he was even aware he was doing it, he was lost so deeply in thought and memory. But Minako's stiff shoulders seemed to be relaxing a little, so Usagi resolved not to say anything, even though this time she felt a definite stab of jealousy, and acknowledged it for what it was.

"You were Queen Serenity's only child, and the heir to the throne of the Moon Kingdom," Kunzite began. "And all the other senshi were members of your Court, while being princesses themselves."

Usagi nodded. "Yeah, that's what Luna said."

"Did she tell you that even then the Princess of Mars was hot for Prince Endymion?"

Usagi's eyes grew huge. "What?!"

"Quiet!" Kunzite hissed.

"Gomen." Usagi gulped. Then she frowned. "But how do you know that?"

"Go on. Tell her." Minako had raised her head and was looking over her shoulder at Kunzite, her lips twisted in a bitter yet rather amused smile.

Kunzite shifted uncomfortably and rubbed the back of his neck. Usagi gazed at him, wide-eyed. She wanted to hear what he had to say, but for a moment she was entirely distracted at seeing him look more vulnerable than she could recall previously. Even when he had shed those few tears over Zoisite in her presence he hadn't looked so young and approachable. He was actually quite attractive, she suddenly realized. Then she flushed and squashed that thought as quickly as she could, afraid he might sense it through their bond. Fortunately for her, he was far too busy trying to shift through which of his memories to share with them to notice.

"I was.... I spent a brief time in your mother's Court," he finally said.

"You were a spy," Minako accused, but without any true rancor.

"You were a party animal!" Usagi gasped, then was suddenly struck with a fit of giggles. She had gotten a flash of experience and memory from the man, and as the words left her lips she knew the truth of them. Minako, after a moment, dissolved into laughter as well. Kunzite tried to look shocked and offended, but only ended up looking sheepish.

"Well.... I wasn't the only one!" he defended.

"I remember!" Minako bubbled, wiping her cheeks. She looked better already, healthy color staining her pale cheeks pink, her eyes sparkling with life and laughter. This was the Minako Usagi was used to seeing and she smiled brilliantly at Kunzite, even as she listened closely to what her friend had to say. Kunzite scowled at her briefly, misinterpreting her expression as mocking, then his face softened as he felt its true reason through their bond.

"How could I have forgotten?" Minako wondered, sitting back and clasping her hands around her ankles. "You and Nephrite managed to cut quite a swath through the more beautiful of the queen's Court!"

"As I recall, you had a fairly good time yourself," Kunzite responded dryly.

Usagi giggled as Minako made a face at Kunzite. "Well, there wasn't much else to do on the Moon."

"My defense exactly!"

"Oh, no, you don't get off that easy! You were there on business!"

"Well... what's wrong with mixing a little pleasure with business?"

"A little?"

"Hey! You're going to have my reputation in shreds in a moment!"

"Yeah, he's supposed to be the big-bad-villain-man," Usagi chortled.

Kunzite glared at her. "Usagi-chan, don't help!"

"Don't even get me started on reputations," Minako warned Kunzite.

He sighed heavily. "All right. All right. How about this -- you don't start telling tales about my conquests, and I won't start in on yours!"

Minako opened her mouth, then paused a moment as a thought -- or a memory -- seemed to strike her. She closed her mouth with a snap and turned a little red. "All right," she agreed meekly.

Usagi looked at her askance, then raised a brow at Kunzite, who was looking rather smug. But he wasn't talking, as per his agreement with Minako. "Aw, you guys are no fun!" Usagi whined.

Kunzite ignored her. "Now, where was I before we got started on that wrong track?"

"You were sleeping around the Moon Kingdom, and Rei-chan was lusting after my Prince!"

"Oh, yes. Hey!" Now it was Kunzite's turn to be hushed. He glared. "I was not sleeping around the kingdom!" he hissed.

"Whatever. Let's get on with it, then go destroy Queen Metallia."

Kunzite gave a long-suffering sigh and bowed his head to his hands. Minako shook her own head, smiling ruefully, but she was beginning to remember why the king was telling tales, and her face grew somber once again.

"So, Nephrite and I got a little... distracted in our mission. We still obtained enough information that the Dark Kingdom's attack on the Moon was nearly a complete surprise, and your mother was defeated."

Usagi was frowning a bit, pursing her lips. "How come it was you and Nephrite? What about Jadeite and Zoisite?"

Kunzite sighed. "Zoisite wouldn't go. He hated humans too much. And even though there was no Tuxedo Kamen back then, he still had a loathing for Prince Endymion."

Usagi was quietly glad and proud that Kunzite was able to speak and think of his dead lover without breaking down. There was still a strong stab of pain, but he was recovering. Perhaps the death of Queen Beryl had released him a little from the awful grief and guilt that had been holding his heart captive. Seen in this light, she began to come to grips with what she had done.

"And Jadeite?"

"He was there...." Kunzite didn't seem to want to say any more on that subject, glancing at Minako, and Usagi decided not to pursue the matter. Minako was already upset enough.

"All right. I can understand all that. But--"

"But what's that got to do with Venus's actions today?"

Usagi nodded soberly. Minako bowed her head back down to her knees. She had given Kunzite permission to reveal her secrets, but that didn't mean she was comfortable facing them.

"Unless I'm very much mistaken, they were a direct result of the relationship between the two of you on the Moon Kingdom."

Usagi eyed Kunzite cautiously. "Re-relationship?" she queried hesitantly.

"No, no, not like that!" He shook his head. "Or if it was, I certainly wasn't privy to the information."

"But you know the truth," Minako said, looking up suddenly, frowning. She craned her neck to gaze at Kunzite over her shoulder. She looked confused. "How do you know--?"

Kunzite grinned crookedly. "Let's just say I got it on good authority from one of the only two other persons who knew besides yourself and the queen."

Minako's eyes grew huge, and her face paled. "Oh... my... God...!" she gasped.

"What? What is it? Jeeze, you guys! Won't one of you just spit it out? I'm getting a little tired of being kept in the dark!"

"Not that!" Minako said to Kunzite frantically. "Tell her why, but don't tell her who told you!"

"I wasn't going to."

"Hey!"

They both turned to Usagi and shushed her, but at least she'd gotten their attention.

"I'm getting really sick of all this suspense and secrecy!" she snapped, glaring at them.

"All right, all right." Kunzite drew in a breath, then glanced in surprise at Minako as she huddled against his side. But the frustrated curiosity throbbing through him from Usagi wouldn't allow him to be distracted for more than a moment. "Do you remember when you told me Sailor Venus had the ginzuishou, and I said that that explained how the senshi had gotten as far into the Dark Kingdom as they had?"

Usagi frowned in thought a moment. "I think so.... Yes! I wasn't paying too much attention, but I do remember that. It didn't seem to make much sense to me."

"That's where you're wrong. Did you know that only those of your blood- line can use the true power of the ginzuishou?"

Usagi's eyes widened as she pondered this. "Y-yes.... Now that you say that, I can sort of sense it within myself or something."

"What if I told you Sailor Venus can use the ginzuishou?"

"Huh? But-- but how?"

Minako was sobbing softly to herself again. Kunzite laid a hand on her shoulder, but didn't indulge in an any more intimate embrace. Usagi was filled with shock and startlement, but she could spare just enough thought to be glad of this.

"She's your half-sister." Kunzite stated bluntly, finally wearying of beating around the bush.

"Half--! What?!" Usagi's mouth dropped open. "Bu-but--"

He ran his free hand through his hair and sighed. "I don't suppose you remember, but your mother wasn't at all fond of Sailor Venus. That's because she knew the truth."

"You mean-- What do you mean? If she's my sister...."

Kunzite shook his head. "Same father, different mothers, not the other way around."

"Oh!" That made more sense. Not that she was able to really take any of it in. "But--"

"Listen. I won't drag up a whole lot of old scandals, but your father was untrue just before his murd-- death, and your half-sister is the result. You two weren't conceived at the same time, obviously, but as near as I can figure, you were born at about the same moment. You never knew the truth, but Sailor Venus did, and so did your mother."

Usagi spent a long silent moment digesting this stunning new information. But once she got over her initial shock, it didn't really seem so strange or disturbing to her heart. "I-- I wish.... Damn! I wish I could remember!" she finally blurted out in frustration.

"Perhaps you're better off not remembering," Minako said, her voice low and choked.

"Oh, Minako-chan!" Usagi scooted forward and threw her arms around the other girl. "Are you okay?"

"No, not really."

"But we were friends, right?" she asked Kunzite anxiously over Minako's bowed head. "Even if I didn't know, and even if my mother wasn't nice to her, we were friends?"

Kunzite nodded soberly. "Oh, yes. You two were just about inseparable once you'd met for the first time. One of the sayings at the time in Court was 'like Moon to Venus', for a particularly close friendship or relationship. I don't know if you sensed your kinship with her, or if you just loved her for herself, but you always stood up for the Princess of Venus against your mother. It was the only thing you two ever clashed on, but you would never back down."

Usagi was smiling slightly, her cheek resting on top of Minako's head. "I can almost feel it now. I really wish I could remember, even the bad as well as the good. It doesn't seem right that I can't."

The small group was silent for long moments. Minako was slowly relaxing into Usagi's embrace, and Kunzite stared into space, his mind filled with memories. Finally he recalled himself.

"Shouldn't we be about our business, Usagi-chan?"

She started. "Oh! Right!"

She released Minako and sat back on her heels. She looked at the other girl and shook her head. "This won't do," she said. She stripped off her uniform top and pressed it into Minako's hands. "Here."

"Ar-arigato," Minako husked, wiping her cheeks free of her most recent tears. "Ah!" She flicked her wrist and the moon stick, strangely free of the blood that had crusted it previously, appeared in her hand. She held it out toward Usagi. "This is yours."

Usagi took it, but paused a moment. "But if you know how to use it better than me...."

Minako shook her head as she tugged on the uniform top and fastened it. It didn't do anything for her bruised, blood-streaked legs, but it covered the shreds of her fuku, and the bare, scarred flesh of her torso. "No. It's yours. It always was."

"Hey, I just thought of something!" Usagi looked up at Kunzite, who was standing and stretching.

"Ne?"

"If Minako and I are related through my-- our father, how come she can use the ginzuishou? I thought it was passed down through my mother's line."

Kunzite nodded. "True. But your father was first cousin to your mother." He grinned at the face Usagi made. "Don't look like that. Back then it was common practice for royalty to intermarry. And humans were stronger and more pure of body back then, so children born to parents of close blood weren't at any risk."

Usagi didn't look too convinced, but she sighed and rose. "All right. Whatever. YAUGH!"

"Quiet!" Kunzite snapped.

"What is it, Usagi-chan?" Minako asked, struggling to her feet.

"The knife!" Usagi was staring in horror down at her hip, where the knife once more rode in its black sheath. "It's back! I dropped it, and it's back!"

"Obviously," Kunzite said dryly.

"But I don't want it!" Usagi sobbed. "I don't want it! I don't--"

"Hush!" Kunzite commanded. "You may yet need it."

"No! No, no, no! I tell you I won't use it! Queen Beryl is dead, and I have the ginzuishou. I won't use the knife any more! I won't! I refuse!"

"All right, all right." Kunzite unstrapped it from about her waist. She sobbed with relief and Minako, finally overcoming her own trauma, wrapped her arms about her friend.

"It's okay, Usagi-chan."

Kunzite sighed, weighing the knife in his hand. "You want?" he asked, extending it toward Minako.

She shook her head firmly. "I have my crescent beam. And it's altogether too easy for me to get carried away. If the knife can overwhelm Usagi-chan, whose soul is pure, just think what it'd do to me!"

Usagi protested, but Kunzite considered Minako's words gravely a moment, then nodded. "Agreed. Well, I can't leave it here. That wouldn't be safe." He sighed and strapped it about his own waist.

"Now, are we ready to go?" he asked.

"No!" chorused the two girls.

"Good. Let's get to it then!"


"Sisters?!" Luna yowled incredulously.

"Keen!" Sailor Jupiter said, grinning.

"Unbelievable," Sailor Mercury put in.

Artemis sighed and hung his head. "I wouldn't have said anything, especially without Minako-chan's permission, but I think we're down to the wire, and it can't do any harm."

"You know, now that you've told us, it makes perfect sense!" Sailor Jupiter said, rubbing her chin thoughtfully. "Why they look so much alike, why they're both so clutzy and enthusiastic and just darn kawaii. How come they both have cat guardians, when none of the rest of us do.... Now I just wonder why we didn't guess long ago! Wow! That's so neat!"

"I can't-- I can't believe I forgot," Luna said, shaking her black head in shock.

Artemis shook his own white head. "You didn't forget, Luna. You never knew."

"Oh?"

"So, what do you think of this, Mars?" Sailor Jupiter asked. She looked around. "Mars?" There was no sign of the red-clad senshi. "Oh, crud! Not again!"

: : Part 7: Puzzling Pieces : :


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