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Blood Moon- Part 8
by becca-oneechan
3/10/97

This fic is out of control! I started it as a rather less than serious project, from an idea I'd formed when I was kinda depressed, but now it looks like it's going to end up as some grand epic or something! Still, it's been fun so far, and I even know how I'm going to end it, which is something unusual for me. Now, if I only knew when I was going to end it.

"Sailor Moon" is the property of Takeuchi Naoko.

--Blood Moon--
*becca-oneechan*
"Pt 8- Traitor's Return"


"What exactly are we doing again?" Minako asked suspiciously as she and Usagi followed Kunzite down the umpteenth tunnel. If she never saw a stone wall again in her life....

"Yeah," Usagi chirped in, though her tone was less aggressive than Minako's had been, and mostly just confused. "The wicked queen, and the hundreds of youma, and the battle, and my prince are back that way!" She jerked her thumb over her shoulder. "Now, normally I'm the first to try to escape certain danger and near-certain death, but don't you really think we should be headed toward the bad guys?"

"Quiet, you two. I already told you, I have an idea."

"Ooooooh... did you hear that, Minako? He has an idea! Heavens forbid he should share it with us, though. We're left to stumble along in his wake, expected to be a couple of good little girls, and-- What did you say?!" she snapped sharply as Kunzite muttered something not quite audible. Minako was by now struggling not to dissolve in a fit of giggles.

"I said," Kunzite said, clearly and concisely, "That you had better watch yourself. You're staring to sound more and more like the senshi of Mars with every word."

Minako lost her tenuous control as Usagi's jaw dropped open in outraged shock. "H-hey!" Usagi managed to gasp out, but Kunzite had had more than enough, and with a swirl of his cape, he sped his steps and put some distance between them. After trying in vain to catch up to his longer legs, Usagi turned on Minako, who was still staggering in mirth.

"It's not funny!"

"Yes, it is! It's funny because it's true! You sounded exactly like Rei does when she's giving you one of her lectures!"

"I-- But-- I--" Usagi blustered, clenching her fists. Then she deflated. "Well... you have to admit, Kunzite-kun is being beyond pig- headed!"

Minako giggled again. "You're going to have to dye your hair black and exchange Luna for a crow or two, at the rate you're going!" she burbled.

Usagi scowled darkly.

"Are you two brats coming?" Kunzite snapped from just within hearing range. He was quite a ways up the tunnel, standing at a point where it seemed to end in a blank wall.

Usagi transferred her glare to him. Minako grabbed her hand and dragged her down the tunnel after the fretful king. "Why don't you try sneaking his plan out of his head through your bond?" she suggested in a whisper.

"That won't be necessary," Kunzite said shortly, clearing nearing the end of his patience. "We're nearly there."

"Nearly where?" Usagi asked in her best, loudest, most annoying whine. None of them had to worry about being heard, as every single youma in the Dark Kingdom had been summoned to swell the army camped before Queen Metallia.

Instead of answering, Kunzite turned and held his hands out toward the blank wall, his fingers splayed, his brow creased in concentration. Usagi forgot her anger as she felt the force and flow of the power he was using. Something bled out of her, leaving her feeling weakened, though not in any way she could recognize. There was a tremendous rumble, and the wall dissolved, leaving a gaping hole of blackness. Kunzite sighed and dropped to one knee, his head hanging.

"I hadn't thought it would be so difficult," he gasped in exhaustion. Usagi knelt next to him, biting her lip in anxiety at the pallor of his dark flesh. His bangs were plastered to his forehead with a sheen of sweat, and even his cape seemed to hang limp and lackluster.

"Kunzite, are you--"

"I'll be all right in a moment," he assured her, straightening and brushing back his hair. "I have to be, don't I?"

Usagi stood and took his hand to attempt to pull him to his feet. But as she clasped her fingers about his hand a spark seemed to shoot through her, and though she felt that strange weakness once again, it was followed by a second, more powerful reaction. She felt suddenly stronger in a different way, and a feeling of energy and well-being swept through her. It was as though simply by touching him both of them had been revived. But she couldn't figure out why that should be. She'd suspect the ginzuishou of working through her to heal both of them, but she didn't sense its power in any way. It was more as though the reaction was being manufactured by a combination of the two of them.

"Yoohoo! Hey, love-birds! Wake up!"

Usagi blinked at Minako, then blushed bright red and released Kunzite's hand as quickly as he released hers. He stood by himself, a bit weakly, but obviously he was feeling much better.

"Arigato," he said, softly and earnestly to Usagi. She flushed again, as he turned to Minako. "I must ask you a boon, lady."

"What?" Minako asked, suddenly wary again.

Kunzite smiled. "Don't worry. It's not much, though it is essential. I am weakened from opening the mausoleum. There is no illumination in there, as you can see. I would like to ask of you that you try to figure some way to modify your beam into a torch. Usagi has no way to create light and I am too tired."

"Oh, is that all?" Minako asked, grinning. "No problem! If I could turn my beam into a blade, this shouldn't be too hard."

Usagi and Kunzite watched as she held up her hand and concentrated. There was a flicker and a flash, and when their eyes had cleared, Minako stood smirking at them, a steady golden beam of circular light floating above her palm. It was bright enough to light the area about them, but not painful to look directly at.

"Perfect," Kunzite said, approval warming his voice. Minako pinked slightly in spite of herself. Usagi bit back a grin. It would seem everyone had gotten over their ill humor, and they were ready to start working as a team once again.

"What's in there?" Usagi asked curiously, peering into the darkness beyond. It looked very creepy, and she took a step back, pressing against Kunzite's side.

"Follow me, and you will soon find out."

She shot him a mildly peeved look, but held her temper in check. "Would it kill you to give a straight answer once in a while?"

He grinned sideways at her as he led the way into the blackness. She hurried to remain at his side, while Minako strode to his left. "Every time I give you a straight answer you get angry at me," he said.

Usagi shook her head, but decided not to argue. There was something about the way their voices echoed off the walls about them that made it seem even more frightening. She glanced about, but couldn't see much. The darkness seemed to swallow Minako's beam, leaving only a very small puddle of golden light about the diminutive group. Kunzite glanced at her in surprise as he felt her small hand creep into his, but she was still looking about apprehensively, not even seeming aware of what she had done. His face softened, and he squeezed her fingers reassuringly. "There is nothing to fear here, Usagi-chan. Nothing living resides within the mausoleum, aside from ourselves. Well, not living in the sense that we understand it."

"Oh." This didn't seem to comfort Usagi much, and she gripped his hand tightly. Minako glanced at Kunzite curiously, but held her peace. They walked on in silence, their footsteps echoing loudly before them, and the light trailing almost fearfully behind them.

"We're nearly there," Kunzite finally said.

"We've heard that before," Minako muttered at the same moment Usagi asked, "Almost where?"

In answer, Kunzite sped his steps. He shook off Usagi's hand, then came to a halt before something tall and bulky that sparkled dully in Minako's light. The golden beam wasn't enough to illuminate it, but suddenly Kunzite threw up his arms again, and a bright blue fire flared into life, surrounding the entire object, and making evidentwhat he meant to do.

"Oh!" Usagi gasped, her eyes widening. Kunzite stood before a large crystal that was several inches taller than he was. Its sides were milky and barely opaque, but Usagi could still make out the figure trapped within it like an insect in amber. "Jadeite!" she cried in startled recognition.

"Who?" Minako asked, peering over Kunzite's shoulder. Usagi heard her give a strangled sound halfway between a gasp and a scream, but at that moment Kunzite acted, and her entire self was sucked out of her body.

At least, that's what it felt like. She fell to her knees, without the strength to do more than struggle to continue breathing. There was nothing left inside her, her skin was empty, her lungs a vacuum.

Then there was a loud cracking, singing sound, and something shattered. Usagi thought for a moment it was her heart, but then strength flooded back into her, and she realized Kunzite had just succeeded in breaking the crystal holding Jadeite.

She straightened, feeling almost like herself again. "Now I know what an empty tube of toothpaste feels like," she muttered, then hurried to Kunzite, who was on his knees in the remains of the crystal, his head hanging. She threw herself down next to him, hearing shards crunch beneath her knees, and without hesitation flung her arms around him, sharing her energy with the man.

Meanwhile, Minako was crouching over the other man, who lay limp and boneless in the remains of his prison. Her light fluttered erratically, hovering over her shoulder, as she stretched out a hand, but stopped short of actually touching him. Her other hand was clasped to her mouth, her face was pale, her eyes wide and filled with what looked almost like fear. "Ares..." she breathed.

Kunzite was recovering. The blue flames were gone, and Minako's beam was all that was left. It didn't look too certain, however, as though it might flicker out at any moment.

"Princess," Kunzite said, joining Minako over Jadeite's prone form.

"A-Ares--" she choked, then raised her anguished gaze to Kunzite's face. "Why didn't you warn me?"

He looked ashamed. "Gomen nasai, princess. I wasn't thinking."

She gulped down a sob. "Is he still alive?"

"We better hope so," Kunzite said grimly. "Or else we just wasted a lot of time and energy."

Usagi knelt at his side. Last time she's seen Jadeite he'd been trying to run her over with jet airplanes, and she had thought he'd killed Tuxedo Kamen. But looking down at him now, she couldn't feel anything but pity. Even in the slackness of unconsciousness his face was pulled into lines of pain. His blonde hair was flattened against his brow, dull and barely curling, his skin was so pale it almost looked transparent. Minako clasped one of his hands to her chest, seeming to be fighting tears.

"Minako-chan?" Usagi queried.

Her friend turned wide, wounded eyes to her, but couldn't answer.

Kunzite placed one hand over Jadeite's heart, and the other over his closed eyes. Usagi felt the breathless, squeezing sensation again, more briefly than before. When Kunzite removed his hands and sat back, Jadeite looked better already. The waxen pallor of his flesh was warmed, and Minako exclaimed, pressing the hand she held more tightly against her breast.

"Jadeite, wake up!" Kunzite said, in his best commanding voice. Usagi heard more than a trace of weariness in his tone, however, and she slipped quietly beneath one of his arms, wrapping her arms around his broad chest.

Jadeite's pale lashes fluttered on his smooth cheeks, his brows contracting even more tightly. Minako pulled him up into her bare lap, holding his hand up to her cheek.

"He's warm now," she whispered hopefully, gazing down at him with slow tears trekking down her pale face.

"Jadeite," Kunzite persisted, when the other king didn't respond any further. "Jadeite, wake, now!"

Usagi smiled slightly to herself. Familiar words. They seemed to work just as well on Jadeite as they had on her. He moved his head and grimaced, then his eyes flickered open. He didn't seem to be able to see anything for long moments. He blinked several times, sense slowly returning to him.

"Aph-Aphrodite?" he faltered, gazing up at Minako with confused blue eyes that were still more cloudy than clear.

"Y-yes," she choked, caressing his cheek softly. "You're all right now.

Just lie still for a little longer." She leaned down and brushed her lips lightly over his brow.

"Was-- was I having a nightmare?" he asked, moving his head to look around, then wincing and squeezing his eyes closed as he hissed in pain.

"In a manner of speaking," Kunzite replied.

Jadeite's eyes popped open, and he lifted his head a little off Minako's shoulder to look in shock at the other king. His eyes grew wider, and his expression was indescribable. It was a very unlikely tableau. Kunzite knelt before him, a golden haired girl who Jadeite finally recognized as Sailor Moon tucked up against his side, looking as at home there as Zoisite ever had. She wore a tight black undershirt and a pair of uniform pants, and her long hair flowed free about her face and down her back like liquid gold. She looked at him with an expression mingling equal parts pity, concern, and caution.

"Am I still dreaming?" he croaked, struggling to sit. Minako helped him, and then stood on her knees behind him, bracing his weak torso against her own, her arms clasped about his shoulders. "Where's Zoisite?"

An expression of agony flashed across Kunzite's face, and Usagi answered for him, her voice husky with his pain. "Queen Beryl killed him."

Jadeite's eyes widened, as memories returned to him, of his final failure against the senshi, and of Beryl's punishment. "Why did you release me?" he asked Kunzite apprehensively.

"Because we need you." Once again Usagi was answering for Kunzite, who was still trying to get his grief under control. "Beryl's dead and we need you to help us destroy Queen Metallia. At least, I assume that's what Kunzite had in mind."

Jadeite was just staring at her in disbelief. "B-Beryl's dead? H-how-- ?"

"Usagi-chan killed her," Minako said softly in his ear. Usagi flinched, pressing her face against Kunzite's chest.

Jadeite didn't know how to take this news. "And Nephrite?"

"He's dead too. Zoisite killed him." Kunzite was recovered, and seemed back in command. He squeezed Usagi gently, then pulled away from her and stood. "All that's left is you and I, Queen Metallia, and Prince Endymion, who has been wiped of all memories and turned to the Dark Kingdom, to serve Metallia. I awoke you for two reasons. The first is that it would have been cruel to leave you encased in eternal sleep when I had the power to free you. The second is a choice I give you. Join us in destroying Metallia, and if we survive, forging a new life on Earth, or die now."

Minako gasped and glared up at Kunzite, and Usagi looked a little shocked as she climbed to her feet, but Jadeite only gave his colleague a long, measuring look, then nodded briefly and struggled to stand, with Minako's assistance.

"Very well. I have no loyalty left to the Dark Kingdom. It seems to be in shambles anyway. I have a feeling I'm backing the wrong side, but the way I feel right now, I think I'd almost welcome it if Metallia killed me."

"Ares!" Minako protested. Jadeite turned to her and looked down into her face, blinking in confusion once again.

"You're...?"

Kunzite smiled crookedly. "Yes, that's the princess of Venus. Reincarnated, the same as the other senshi and Endymion. But she has a few years yet to catch up to the age she was when you two were lovers."

Usagi gasped and Minako turned a brilliant shade of red. Jadeite nodded thoughtfully, then placed a hand under Minako's chin, raising her gaze to his.

"Can you forgive me?" he asked softly, his voice shaking.

Kunzite gripped Usagi's shoulder and steered her back toward the opening, calling his own blue flame into existence to guide their way.

"Let's leave them alone for a little while," he said. Usagi peered over her shoulder in time to see the two blondes embrace and kiss warmly. She blushed, ashamed to have intruded. Kunzite was right.

"What's going on?" she asked in consternation as she walked beside Kunzite to the open entranceway, where they came to a halt and stood.

Kunzite sighed. "Can I tell you later?"

"We may be dead later," Usagi said with unaccustomed melancholy.

Kunzite looked at her in startlement, and gazed silently into her large blue eyes. She suddenly looked fearful. Not the way she always was during a fight. Now she was afraid for not only herself, but for Kunzite, Minako, her other friends, and her entire world.

"We can't fail," she husked, her chin trembling. Kunzite struggled within himself, tried to stop himself, but as she took a step forward, he drew her into a warm embrace. They both needed and wanted it so badly, and were bonded so closely to one, that neither could resist. She rested her head against his shoulder, fighting tears of despair.

"We won't fail, Usagi-chan," he said fervently, forcing her to feel it, driving away the darkness that had inexplicably come over her thoughts. "I won't fail you!"

She raised her head, gazing wordlessly up at him, her eyes more eloquent than a speech of a thousand words could ever have been. Kunzite caught his breath, and slowly lowered his head, fighting against the feelings rushing through his blood.

Usagi instinctively raised her chin, but in the last moment before their lips touched, there came a stifled curse. They jumped away from one another, and turned to the entranceway.

Jadeite was hopping on one foot, having stubbed his toe. He seemed greatly recovered from his long imprisonment, and almost looked himself again. He hadn't noticed anything, but Minako was staring at the two in shock, her mouth hanging open.

"So, what's the plan?" Jadeite asked Kunzite.


"My queen, I have brought you your vessel," Prince Endymion said, kneeling and lowering Sailor Mars' limp body to the stony floor. He felt a strange twinge of reluctance, but dismissed it easily.

"Ah, very good. It has not been damaged in any way?"

"No, I was very careful."

"Excellent. Now, we must ready the ceremony of transference. You know what to do?"

"Um.... No, great majesty. I'm afraid I have no idea."

"Oh, very well. I shall have to guide you. The first thing we need is a sacrifice of blood. A dozen youma should serve very well for this. Gather together a few 'volunteers'."

"Yes, my queen." Prince Endymion hurried away.


"So, now what?"

"I vote for finding Usagi and Minako," Sailor Jupiter said firmly. "They seemed to know what they were doing, the both of them."

"But we can't just abandon Rei!" Sailor Mercury protested.

"She's beyond our help now," Luna said grimly. "Her only hope is held in those with more power than we possess. I agree with Jupiter. The best thing we can do is find Sailor Moon and join our forces with her and her allies. She's--"

She suddenly broke off and arched her back, her fur standing on end, her whiskers bristling, her claws springing forth, her red eyes glowing. She hissed, and seemed almost to levitate off the floor. Artemis reacted much the same way. Then the moment was over, and both cats relaxed.

"What the hell was that?" Sailor Jupiter asked, staring at them in shock.

Artemis took a deep breath. Luna was too winded to reply, so he did.

"Someone used a great deal of raw power just now. Didn't you feel it?"

Sailor Jupiter shook her head as Sailor Mercury whipped her computer out and started tapping at the keys. "Afraid not. Do you have any idea who it was?"

"It wasn't the ginzuishou," Luna said, sitting and cleaning her whiskers nervously. "I'm certain of that. But it must have had to do with Usagi, or it wouldn't have affected us so strongly."

"Maybe it was Kunzite," Sailor Jupiter suggested. "He and Usagi seem to have some sort of...."

"Bond?" Artemis supplied, his brow furrowing in thought.

"Yeah. I mean, remember how she collapsed when Rei blasted him? It was like it hit her too!"

"Oh no!" Artemis gasped. "Tell me they didn't!"

"Didn't what?" Luna asked, turning worried eyes to her colleague.

"Use the--" Artemis broke off, and suddenly looked evasive. "Um... never mind. You-- you probably wouldn't remember anyway."

"What wouldn't I remember?" Luna asked dangerously, rising and stalking toward the white cat, her tail lashing. "Artemis, if this involves Usagi-chan, you will tell me!"

"Hey, you guys, knock it off!" Sailor Jupiter demanded, plucking Artemis up out of harm's way. "I think Ami's found something."

Sailor Mercury looked up. "Well, sort of."

"What is it?" Artemis asked.

"I wasn't able to discover what the power surge was, but I was able to trace its residual effects, and have pinpointed the exact location of its occurrence."

"You wanna say that in Japanese?" Jupiter requested dryly.

"She means she's figured out where Usagi and the others probably are," Artemis supplied. "But whatever they were doing, I doubt they'll be hanging around there for long, so we'd best hurry and follow the trail. If we're lucky we'll run into them on the way."

"Yatta!" Sailor Jupiter plunked the white cat on her shoulder. "All right, Mercury, grab Luna and lead the way!"


"That's not much of a plan."

Kunzite scowled at Jadeite. "And I suppose you can come up with something better?"

They were striding swiftly down yet another tunnel. The two kings didn't dare to warp anywhere, because that would tell Queen Metallia immediately where they were, so they were making their way back to the huge cavern the slow way. Minako didn't seem to mind. She trotted along next to Jadeite, clutching his hand, her eyes gleaming with happiness. Usagi was grateful that her friend -- and sister -- was now so cheerful, but she couldn't help but be a little jealous. Her Mamo-chan was still the enemy, and Kunzite hadn't dared to come too near to her ever since they had almost kissed. And it worried and confused her that she would group those two men together. Her love for Mamoru was destined and eternal, wasn't it? And her bond with Kunzite didn't have anything to do with love... did it? She rubbed the groove that was etching itself between her brows, and bit her lip. She was so confused! What was happening to her? She didn't even understand her own emotions anymore. And what had she done?! She had almost kissed Kunzite! Her enemy -- or, well, former enemy. A man she could barely stand, that she clashed with in anger half the time they were together. She glanced surreptitiously at him from under her lashes as he continued arguing with Jadeite.

He certain was handsome. She had to admit that much to herself. But she wouldn't have thought he was anything like her type. Now she was surprised to find her mind dwelling on his broad shoulders and slim hips. She remembered how the firm contours of his stomach had felt under her hand, when they had shared his bed. How his heart had beat beneath her cheek. How his hand had.... She squashed that memory, tried to squash all her thoughts. Her face was hot, she knew she was blushing. She lowered her gaze, letting her hair fall to curtain her from view. The heat from her face seemed to be spreading through her entire body. Her chest was tight and her heart beat too fast. Her stomach hurt again. Her body, arms and legs were radiating warmth, but her hands were ice cold and shaking. She wondered what was wrong with her.

His hair fell like silver moonbeams, in contrast to her sunlight gold tresses-- No! What was she thinking?! Any second now he was going to pick up her feelings; it was a wonder he hadn't already, but he was deeply immersed in his fight with Jadeite; and she didn't think she could stand it if he knew what was going through her mind.

So she resolutely turned to wondering how Jadeite knew Minako if he had been locked away long before she had joined the senshi. Not only knew her, but Kunzite had said they had been lovers. How was that possib-- Oh! Of course! She flushed again, but this time in embarrassment. Duh! How stupid was she? They'd been lovers in the Silver Millennium, of course! Why else would he have called her by that strange name? Why else would Kunzite have refused to say where Jadeite was when he and Nephrite had been infiltrating the Moon Kingdom? It made a certain amount of sense now. And she'd figured it out on her own, without having to drag the story out of Kunzite, or dip into his mind to get it. But why had Jadeite asked Minako's forgiveness?

After a moment further of thought, Usagi blushed again. Jadeite had been serving Beryl, had helped destroy the Moon Kingdom and kill most of its subjects, including the senshi! If that wasn't something to beg forgiveness for, then Usagi didn't know anything that was! She smiled, glad that he had asked Minako's forgiveness, and that she had been willing to give it. It was so romantic. She sighed happily, then caught Kunzite's look of disgust.

She flushed lightly, then stuck her tongue out at him. He didn't have any right to judge! It was romantic, and Usagi liked it that way, and she didn't care what he thought!

"So there!" she shot at him in the wake of these thoughts.

He looked surprised, then grinned and chuckled quietly. "You're hopeless."

She pulled a bitter face. "At least I can admit my feelings!"

His face took on a slightly hurt expression, and he turned away. Usagi felt a little ashamed of that crack. He was honest enough about his grief over Zoisite's death, and she hadn't been very honest when she had driven away the confusion she felt over his presence in her life. She blinked back sudden tears, then hurried forward and grasped his hand.

"Gomen nasai," she whispered as he looked down at her in startlement, gazing back at him with all the sincerity in her heart.

He flushed slightly, looking uncomfortable, but he was mollified. "It's all right."

Jadeite was watching them curiously. Minako stood on tiptoe and softly spoke a few words in his ear.

"SHIT!"

Kunzite and Usagi were startled from their distraction. They looked at Jadeite in shock.

"You are a complete idiot!" Jadeite declared, his blue eyes wide as he gazed at the two mismates. "A total idiot!"

He was looking from one to the other, but it was clear he was speaking to Kunzite. The taller king bridled, then sighed mournfully. "How many more times am I going to have to hear that?"

Usagi released his hand and counted on her fingers. "Let's see.... Luna, that's one. But she'll probably be yelling mostly at me. Artemis, that's two. I'll bet Mako-chan will bitch one or both of us out. That's three. Ami-chan wouldn't be so rude, but, ooh, Rei-chan'll be loud enough for two, so let's say you'll be hearing it at least three or four more times."

"And that's provided we don't get a chance to talk to Prince Endymion before we turn him back to good," Minako put in. "As it is, you may even hear it twice from him!"

Usagi flinched painfully, and Kunzite took her hand again, squeezing it, before releasing it in slight embarrassment.

"Like you've never done anything without thinking, and regretted it later!" Kunzite said to Jadeite in defense. Usagi felt a sudden stab of hurt at his words, even though intellectually she agreed whole- heartedly. She looked away from Kunzite, her face pale. It shouldn't have hurt. She felt the same way... didn't she? If she had it to do over...? Would she have? Why was she even considering any answer other than a resounding "no"? She gritted her teeth, feeling like tearing her hair out. What was wrong with her? Why was everything her heart was telling her the opposite of what she knew she should be feeling? She stifled a groan of despair, and let the sudden stream of tears flow hot and searing down her cheeks, still keeping her face averted.

"Usagi?" Kunzite queried, something odd and hesitant in his tone.

"Leave me alone!" She didn't trust herself to speak aloud, didn't want the others to know she was crying.

She felt a small stab of pain from Kunzite, and smiled bitterly. Turnabout was fair play. So... why did she suddenly feel worse, not better? Her heart ached, and there was nothing she could do to ease the pain. She gulped back a sob, grateful Minako was so immersed in Jadeite. She didn't think she could take any more embarrassment.

Kunzite and Jadeite returned to their interrupted quarrel as Usagi cried silently, and they grew closer and closer to the hour of destiny.


"It is as you have commanded, queen," Prince Endymion said, restraining an expression of disgust. The bitter tang of blood assaulted his nostrils, flooding them until it seemed to fill his other senses as well. A dozen youma had been slaughtered on the makeshift altar they themselves had built before Queen Metallia. The floor was awash with the crimson liquid, and the girl intended to be Metallia's new body now lay in their place, her back and long, raven hair sticky with the shed blood.

"Well done. Now comes the difficult part. It would be simple if we had the ginzuishou, but as the point of this is to protect ourselves from the one who bears it, there is no point in even attempting to appropriate it. So, what you must do is this...."

Endymion listened with a sinking heart. This had better be worth it.


"Ah!"

"What is it, Mercury?"

She was smiling at her computer screen. "They're just ahead! I can pick up Venus' readings almost as clearly as our own. Though there's still no sign of Sailor Moon."

"Jupiter, wait!" Artemis called as Sailor Jupiter took off running down the tunnel. He cursed and dashed after the girl.

"Come on, Ami-chan," Luna urged.

"Oh!" Sailor Mercury tucked her computer away and started running.

: : Part 9: Flames to Fire : :


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