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Blood Moon- Part 11
by becca-oneechan

I'm not even going to open my mouth! Just... please don't flame me, 'kay? I know what I'm doing, really! Um, I think.... (Okay, you can flame me if you want -- but don't you have better things to be doing with your time?) ^_^

"Sailor Moon" is the property of Takeuchi Naoko.

--Blood Moon--
"Pt 11- Death Knell"

"Come on, guys! Let's go find the"

Usagi and Kunzite finally broke their gaze as Sailor Jupiter's voice faded away into surprise, uncertainty, or something else entirely.

The others were approaching in a large group. Jadeite, in the front, was carrying something that looked like a mix between a cannon and a seltzer bottle, draped Rambo-like over his arms. He had changed his battered uniform for a loose white shirt, tight black pants, and a large leather vest with scarlet velvet trim. Something that bore a striking resemblance to a pistol hung in a dark holster over one slim hip. He looked weary, yet determined. Minako strode next to him, wearing a strange new outfit of black silk, her hair pulled back from her face. She looked both severe and delicate, the impression heightened by the scar that still marred her otherwise smooth brow, and the startled, almost fearful expression on her face. Her pale blue eyes were wide and glazed, her cheeks colorless. Sailor Mercury looked almost like her regular self, except that her eyes were as wide as Minako's, her face nearly as pale. The reason for the last was apparent in the two strangers accompanying the group.

"Hey! Who're--"

"Luna, what did you do?" Usagi asked sternly, her voice low, but cutting easily through Sailor Jupiter's startled yelp.

The pale woman's face crumpled.

"Oh, bloody hell...." Kunzite stared in disbelief at Artemis, who was doing his level best not to return the gaze. He turned to Luna, taking the sword from her shaking hands before she could drop it. She immediately hid her face in her slim hands, sobbing softly.

"Oh, way to go," Jadeite remarked in exasperation. "We only just got everyone calmed down."

Usagi ignored him, moving forward to stand before Luna. They were the same height, unusual as Usagi was easily the shortest person in the group. "Luna, why...?"

"It was to get this," Artemis answered, displaying the sword he held. "We-- To birth the Star Sword-- Well, when you call it forth-- Or- -"

"Let me," Kunzite said dryly, folding his arms. Artemis shot him a glance then flushed and looked down at the sword. Kunzite turned to explain to Usagi and the others. "The Star Sword can exist only when it is truly needed. But even when it is needed, there is a price to pay. To call it to physical form, a physical form must be sacrificed. Usually a living body."

"That's awful!" Sailor Mercury gasped.

Kunzite shook his head. "Not as bad as it sounds. You see, it must be a willing sacrifice. And it is only the body that is given up, not the soul. So, I guess as our friends here had two forms, they both gave up one half of themselves, equaling one body, and fulfilling the price. Am I right?"

. Artemis, still a little flushed, was nodding soberly. "Hai. Queen Selene aided us in this endeavor. However, we didn't expect that the sword would take our feline forms. We were expecting to lose our human forms for all time."

"You lucked out then," Jadeite said, shifting his burden so that he could brush his bangs out of his eyes. Evidently his hair had grown a little while he had been trapped in the crystal death. It fell into his eyes and brushed the back of his vest.

"If you consider it luck," Artemis answered painfully.

"What do you mean?"

Kunzite came to Artemis's rescue, stepping forward. "Then I take it this is the Star Sword?"

Artemis grinned at the eager glow in the other man's pale eyes, slowly relaxing in Kunzite's presence. "You've been dying to get your hands on this for--"

"For ages. Literally. May I?"

Kunzite held out his hands and Artemis gave the sword into them, flushing as his fingers accidentally brushed Kunzite's. The king didn't notice though. He was immersed in intent study of the blade. "Perfect! Exquisite!"

Usagi shot him an amused, affectionate glance, then turned back to Luna, who was by now leaning against her shoulder, nearly worn to the end of her weeping. It was a bit difficult to comfort the small woman when one hand was holding a huge, deadly saber, but it was more Usagi's warm, understanding presence that calmed Luna than any physical contact. Eventually she raised her head and looked at Usagi. Really looked.

"Gods..." she breathed.

Usagi chuckled. "They're always to blame, ne?"

"Princess Se-- Usagi, what have you done with yourself?"

Usagi's eyes crinkled in amusement. "I thought I asked you that question."

"My-- My changes are only outward, and Thany-- Kunzite has explained them. You-- You're--"

"I'm still me, Luna."

"You look like--" Luna hesitated. "Forgive me, Usagi, but you look like your mother."

Usagi cocked her golden head. "Why do you ask forgiveness? I don't mind." As Luna opened her mouth to speak, she shook her head. "I know you mean Queen Selene, not Mama. But I don't mind, really."

Minako came to stand beside Usagi, slipping her arm around her slim waist. "You've accepted it," she said softly, resting her head on Usagi's shoulder. "And I think you've grown up a little."

"Um," Usagi agreed, holding up the saber and gazing at the ruby set in the blade.

"So, are you still a virgin?" Minako whispered in her ear.

"Minako!!" Usagi cried in outrage, sounding more like her old self than she had up until then. Minako giggled and Luna relaxed, seeing at least a trace of her beloved charge in the strange new, self-assured person inhabiting Usagi's skin. Minako danced back as Usagi waved the saber menacingly. "Watch it, sister-dear," Usagi threatened, her menacing tone ruined by the fact that she was bubbling with irrepressible laughter herself. "I'm armed and dangerous!"

"I'll go that," Kunzite commented, not looking up from the Star Sword. "Too bad you're not talking about your mind." He glanced up, grinning. Usagi stuck her tongue out at him, then giggled.

"Be careful with that thing, Usagi-chan," Artemis said, moving to stand with Luna. "It can wound the wind, you know."

"I know, silly," Usagi replied amiably. "And I'll have you know I have complete control over it!"

"She does, you know," Kunzite put in.

"Are we going to get about things?" Jadeite asked, more than slightly exasperated. "Why am I the only one who's focused?"

"Because you've always had a one-track mind!" Minako shot back.

"O-ho!" Sailor Jupiter said archly, raising a brow. Sailor Mercury blushed. Usagi giggled and Jadeite rolled his eyes. Minako gave her tall friend a hard look, then dissolved into laughter.

"Actually, it's because you're the only one here not going through a conflict in your inter-relationships," Kunzite told the other king. "And it's a good thing we have you with us, or this could go on all day."

"Yes. A little levity is healthy," Usagi added, taking back on her cloak of self-assurance and seriousness. She went back over to Kunzite and slid easily under his arm. "Especially after all that has happened. But we have a task to perform, and a friend to revenge."

This sobered the other three girls and the two former-cats immediately.

"Hai," Jupiter growled. "Let's go send Metallia back to whatever hell-pit spawned her!!"


As they turned and began striding swiftly down the passage, suddenly fired with conviction, Kunzite unbelted the dagger that had killed Beryl and replaced it with the Star Sword. Then he turned, holding up the dagger.

"Who wants this?"

"Give it to Mercury," Sailor Jupiter suggested. "She needs a weapon."

"No!" Usagi, Minako, Kunzite, Luna, and Artemis all protested at once.

Sailor Jupiter's eyes widened. "Why not?"

Kunzite shook his head. "Ami-chan is the least affected by Usagi's bond to me. The knife would do her more damage than good."

"I'll take it," Artemis spoke up. "I'm already mean enough."

"You're a cream-puff," Kunzite grinned. "You always were...."

"Soft?" supplied Luna, with a wicked gleam in her dark eyes.

If looks could kill, she'd have been doubly impaled on the spot. Kunzite tossed Artemis the knife and turned back to the fore, putting an arm around Usagi's shoulders. Artemis made a great task of strapping on the knife, ignoring the knowing or confused looks the others were giving him.

"You're gonna pay for that one, kitty-cat," he muttered to Luna under his breath.

She bit her lip, but grinned widely anyway. "Consider it revenge for all the information you've withheld from me, tomcat!" she whispered back.

He growled, but was relieved to see that his colleague was recovering her good humor.

Prince Endymion paced the front lines, youma diving out of his way at one glimpse of the set expression on his face and the fire in his eyes. He was furious. Actually, he was scared out of his wits, but that just made him even more furious. A youma stumbled before him and he fried her with a thought. Then he bitterly regretted it. Then he castigated himself for the regret. Then he was hurt by his own hardness. Then--

He was going mad! It was as though there were two people inside his head, battling to gain control over him, and he wasn't sure which one he wanted to win.

And there was the problem of Queen Metallia. He knew she had done the intelligent thing sending him to the front of the army, but he wanted to stay by her side. What if she switched minds again and he wasn't there to protect the Mars-girl? It would take only one moment of weakness for one of the youma to grow bold enough to strike. Or, if the girl realized exactly what was going on, Endymion wouldn't put it past her to kill herself, destroying Metallia's new body. And why did part of him almost wish this would happen, thinking any price would be worth...? Worth what? Metallia was his ruler! He was supposed to keep her safe, not wish her vanquished! And yet, there was the niggling voice at the back of his head that told him the universe would be better of rid of her blighting presence.

And, to tell the truth, he wanted to speak more to the girl -- Rei- chan, his mind screamed, though he didn't know why -- to try to discover what it was he was on the border of knowing or remembering. He had thought he knew his purpose, knew who he was, but he was getting strange feelings and bizarre glimpses of another self, another life, previously unsuspected. He wanted, needed, to find the truth behind the fragments!

He cursed quietly to himself, wishing the senshi would hurry up and show. Once they were dead and gone, he could-- No! They mustn't die! Yes, they must! No!

"DAMN!!!" he howled, clutching his throbbing head. He must surely be going mad!

Finally he noticed the strange smell filled his nostrils. It was a bitter, acrid scent. He raised his head, blinking eyes that suddenly burned and stung.

There was a dark fog, so thin as to barely be detectable, flowing through the ranks of youma surrounding him. As he watched in detached shock, the youma began... dissolving. Their features blurred and ran, then they faded away to a mist and whimper, then to nothing. Even the wall of bodies, stacked a dozen high, disappeared. Soon he would be standing on an empty plain, the ranks of youma that had stood so closely together gone, as though they had never existed.

Prince Endymion coughed, and coughed harder, his eyes watering. Whatever was destroying the youma couldn't kill him, but it certainly wasn't healthy! He warped back to Queen Metallia's throne, struggling to catch his breath so that he could stammer out a report. But the stone seat was empty.

"Are you sure this isn't dangerous?" Sailor Jupiter asked for the third time, looking warily at the dark mist that swirled and bellowed before the group.

With remarkable patience, Jadeite explained it again. "No, it's not, Lady Jupiter. The youma are of a much more primitive make-up than we are, and so the formula which destroyed them is only mildly irritating to us. As long as we wait for the worst to disperse, and stay away from any denser areas or puddles of it we will be fine."

"Okay...." She wasn't sure she quite trusted Jadeite yet, even for Minako's sake, but Ami-chan had backed his claim, and, after all, he was ready to venture forth himself, so it must be okay. It was just that, seeing those youma dissolve like that.... She shuddered.

Suddenly Usagi's arm was warm about her waist as the other girl gave her a quick but tight hug. "Pretty nasty, ne, Mako-chan?" she asked, her soft voice gentle with sympathy.

Makoto smiled tremulously at her. She still wasn't used to this change in her little friend. She liked it, but it was unnerving. Before it probably would have been her trying to calm Usagi. Now, roles were reversed, and it was more than a bit strange.

"What a way to go," she answered, shuddering again. "I mean, as gory and painful as it gets, at least when you die in battle...."

Usagi nodded her golden head. "I know. But there were too many of them for us to do anything else." She sighed heavily. "War is ugly at the best of times, but somehow it's even worse when you don't give the enemy a fair chance."

Mako realized that was what had been bothering her the whole time. It wasn't really the way the youma had died, for Jadeite had assured them it was quick and painless. It was the fact that there had been no warning for the creatures. As hideous and rapacious as they had been, they should have had a chance to fight to keep their lives.

"Come on. It's safe now, and we have to keep moving, so we don't lose the element of surprise."

They followed Jadeite across the empty stone floor. The stuff he had used was bitter in their noses and made their eyes burn a little, but it didn't seem to harm them otherwise. As he had said.

They were in the cavern which had housed Queen Metallia's prison, and it was easily the largest open area in the whole of the Dark Kingdom. The walls were so far apart and the ceiling so high, that it was easy to forget they were inside a cave at all. It seemed as though they walked over an empty plain at twilight. What little light there was was dull and blue-tinted. They had to rely on this, however, for no one dared risk giving their existence and position away with a gold beam or blue flames.

They made their way forward, until they could just barely see the next rank of youma warriors in the distance. Jadeite sent a wash of dark death in their direction, helped along by a small wind created by Ami. Then he frowned and shook the bottle.

"Well, that's it," he said, dropping the devise and rubbing his aching arms. "We've managed to take out most of the army, but after this lot goes, any that are left will have to be killed by power or blade."

"Good!" Mako muttered.

"We can handle them," Minako said cheerfully.

"Um..." Artemis put his hand on the handle of the knife at his side, frowning at Luna.

Usagi went to stand with Kunzite, tucking herself easily under his arm. "How do we destroy Metallia?"

He glanced at her, startled, but she was gazing soberly at the crimson ruby set in the black blade. The saber was truly outsized, being at least ten inches across at its widest point, and almost as long as Usagi was tall, but she held it with perfect ease, and her wrist wasn't even taut. Evidently the blade knew its master -- or, in this case, mistress.

"I-- We-- Um...."

She glanced up, grinning slightly, though her eyes were dark and flat. "Please don't tell me you don't know! I'd as soon have not gone through all the trouble of getting this thing for nothing. And think of what Luna and Artemis gave up!"

"No, I know what we have to do. I just can't put it into words."

She gave him an exasperated look. "Since when do we need words?"

He flushed. "Oops! You're right."

"Hey, snap out of it!" Jadeite was standing before them, his hands on his hips. "No time for romance, you two. We gotta get moving!"

"Screw you, Jade!" Kunzite remarked inelegantly.

Usagi pulled a face. "You're one to talk, 'Ares-sama'!"

Minako giggled and joined her man. Behind them, Artemis flinched. Usagi sent him an apologetic glance, then spoke further. "But you're right. We need to get moving. If we wait for the battle to come to us, we lose our advantage. This is one time where being on the offensive is safer

"Usagi, the Grand General," Mako chuckled, sweeping her a low bow. "All right! Let's go kick some youma butt! A clean fight at last!"

"Kunzite?" Usagi queried, as the group set off at a brisk pace, following the last of Jadeite's poison.

"Right." As he shared the course of action they must take with her, her face grew bleaker and bleaker.

"Oh, shit...." she sighed.

"Shit, shit, shit!!"

Prince Endymion was growing increasingly frantic. He couldn't find the queen anywhere. He'd checked the tent, scanned the lines of youma within sight, and was rapidly running out of options.

Then, suddenly, a thought struck him. The throne was not flush against the wall. Perhaps.... It was a crazy notion, but he was desperate.

He peered around the back of the large stone monstrosity. There was a space just large enough to hold a small body. And the girl who gazed up at him with wide dark eyes in a tear-streaked face was certainly small enough to fit.


He smiled reassuringly, and this time he truly meant it. "Hullo, Rei- chan. Isn't it a little cramped back here?" He still didn't know why he called her by that name, but it just seemed right. And he could not help himself treating her kindly. There was nothing else he could do. And... really, he wanted to.

She stared at him, not sure whether she could trust him or not. He stifled a wince. He didn't blame her. After all, it was his fault she was in the mess she was in.

"Who's-- Who's in my head?" she asked, her voice quivering with repressed fear.

"Shit." He sighed and slumped heavily against the side of the throne, his shoulder guard ringing against the stone.

"Is it.... It's....."

"It's Metallia."

She seemed to have been expecting this answer, but it still struck her like a physical blow. She let out a sharp little cry and wrapped her arms about herself, tears flowing hot and fast down her cheeks. "Mamo-chan...."

He heard the utter terror and desolation in her voice, and it pierced him to the heart. Without thinking, he slipped sideways into the cubbyhole with her, and wrapped one arm -- which was all he could manage in such cramped quarters -- around her shaking body. She bit her lip until it bled, keeping herself from losing control by a sheer force of will.

"Rei-chan, I need your help!" he said urgently, praying with all his might that Queen Metallia would not return before he had found out what he needed to know.

"Wh-what is it?" she quavered.

"Who am I?" he asked desperately.

She looked at him with dark eyes. "Oh, Mamo-chan," she sighed, reaching up to stroke the side of his face. "So, you're not lost to us entirely."

"What do you mean?"

"I--" She drew in a deep breath, which caused their breastplates to ring together. "It's a long story, Mamo-chan. It began ages ago, in a bright and glorious kingdom on the Moon...."

"What in the bloody hell is Lord-master Endymion-sama doing?"

The youma, who possessed long yellow-white hair -- if something formed of fibers so thin that they could slice through flesh with one touch could be called hair -- pale blue-white flesh, and wide, silver- blank eyes, looked up from sharpening her right hand, which was formed into a slim stiletto.

"Ne, Regal-sama?"

The tall, heavily armored man shook his head and flicked a hand in her direction. She flinched, but it had been a gesture only, nothing backed with power. He turned burning yellow eyes in her direction, but didn't truly look at her. "Speaking to myself," he growled. "After all, there isn't anyone else around!"

The youma accepted this set-down without offense. After all, she was lucky she wasn't dead. Regal had a reputation for lightning-quick temper that was well-earned.

"I mean, first he comes back from the front lines, in obvious distress, but does he give a report? No! He's having too much fun wallowing around behind the throne!"

The youma watched in fearful silence as the tall man paced. As one of the only humans in the Dark Kingdom, he was accorded great prestige. Not that the power he wielded in quick and ready hands hurt any either. While some wondered at his slitted yellow eyes and coppery skin, topped off with an unruly thatch of pure white hair, no one dared suggest his lineage was anything but pure. Not and continue living, that was. And there were things worse than death, as Regal had proved several times. He was an expert at pain -- causing it -- and had spent many centuries honing this skill.

"And where did her majesty go? She ought to be putting that little bastard in his place! Instead, she's gone missing on the eve of battle! She must surely have a reason," he added this last out of tact, for one never knew when a Dark Kingdom ruler might be listening in, and there were spies and tale-bearers everywhere. However, tact only carried so far. "But she should have let us know where she was going, so that we could report to her!" It was instant death to dare to question Metallia, but Regal was too angry to keep his mouth shut, or his thoughts to himself. "I mean, what are we supposed to do; report to that popinjay prince? I think not!"

He tossed his pale mop haughtily. Then he looked over in surprise as a youma pounded up, her metallic-green hair standing out about her head, her orange eyes huge with fear.

"My Lord! Regal-sama! Something awful has happened!!"

"I have--"

"A bad feeling about this?" Mako suggested when Artemis broke off.

He didn't reply, his crystal blue eyes wide as he looked cautiously around. Luna seemed to have adapted to her human form completely, though she moved with a quiet grace the other females in the group could only envy, but Artemis still retained many of his former mannerisms. He looked around now in a choppy, anxious way that was so feline Mako was almost surprised not to see whiskers sprouting from his face.

"He's right," Jadeite added tightly. "We're supposed to be taking them by surprise, but we should have run into some opposition by now. As brainless as the youma are, even they should notice when the regiment next to theirs dissolves!"

Minako frowned. "You're right."

"There's something wrong," Kunzite said, frowning. He clasped his hand about the handle of the Star Sword, but it didn't seem to offer him any comfort. "There's something very, very wrong."

"Well, what can we do but keep going o--" Mako began, before being very rudely interrupted.

A loud bang and a bright flash before the group preceded a blast of hot, foul wind that knocked Ami and Luna to the ground and rocked the others. Ami looked up into the air directly before and above them, and let out one of the loudest screams any of the others had ever heard.

"Bloody-hoppin-blue-blazes-goddamn-shit-fuck-it-to-bloody-freakin- HELL!!!" Mako belted out, staring upwards.

"SHIT!!" Jadeite commented, yelling over the roar of the wind. "Kunzite, it's--"

"I know!!" Kunzite yelled back, snarling in fury, his eyes narrowed to blazing slits. "Regal!!!"

The others simply stared at the apparition hovering above them.

The first thing that most of them noticed had to be the huge beast with a wingspan of over twenty feet, a long, naked neck, and a foul, heavy body. It looked like an unimaginable cross between a vulture, a giant lizard, and a rabid rat, combining the ugliest and most deadly features of each of these creatures, and adding a few of its own. It glared down at them with blazing red eyes that were inordinately small in its swollen, misshapen head, and opened its wide maw to let out a painfully shrill shriek. Its jaws were hard and horny, looking almost like a curved beak, but its mouth was lined with row upon row of sharp ivory fangs. It stank of death and decay.

However, Kunzite, Jadeite, and Usagi completely ignored the monster and gazed fixedly up at the man who half stood, half sat atop it. He was small in comparison to his steed, but his white shock of hair and burning yellow eyes were easily distinguishable. He wore full armor of bright scarlet trimmed in black, and a yellow cloak flapped over his broad shoulders. In his hands he bore a long black spear, formed of crystal and crackling with power.

"Greetings, traitors," the man said, his deep, sneering voice magnified by arcane sources into something quite menacing.

"Hello, Reggie!" Jadeite shouted easily, his hair whipping in the wind. "Does Metallia know you slipped the leash?"

"Don't call me that!" the man screeched, losing his temper quite completely, along with much of his studied menace. He pointed the spear he held, releasing a bolt of yellow lightning at the king on the ground.

Jadeite blocked it easily with a shield. "Time hasn't improved your temperament any!" he comment jeeringly. "Or your aim!"

"Be silent!" Regal sent another bolt.

As Jadeite continued baiting the other man, he waved a hand frantically behind his back. Minako took the hint, and while she was loath to leave his side, she scooted over to where Mako was helping Ami to her feet. The dark-haired senshi seemed petrified with fear -- it was probably a phobia of some sort, Minako thought, because Ami wasn't anything like a coward normally -- but Mako was ready and eager. As Jadeite continued to taunt Regal and the furious man sent bolt after bolt into his shields, the two girls readied their attacks.

"Hurry!" Kunzite urged them, as Jadeite began to grow pale, sweat beading his brow. "I'm saving my strength to fight Regal, I can't help Jade!"


Together the girls sent a sparkling lance of ki-power streaking straight toward the enemy. Even if he had seen it before it was too late, Regal could not have deflected it. He flung himself off the monster's back as the bolt of raw power speared it through the breast, going all the way through. The beam shattered against the far away ceiling. The beast shattered on the floor, dispersing into a wave of hideously foul air and a few tattered feathers. Regal hit the ground heavily, but rolled immediately to his feet. Which was pretty impressive, considering the weight and bulk of his armor.

As the others choked and gagged, struggling not to throw up, Kunzite stood tall, his hands at his sides, his eyes narrowed as he stared at Regal with pure hatred. Regal stared back, his expression much the same.

"So...." Regal hissed.

"This time it's fair," Kunzite snarled.

"Fair? You call eight against one fair?"

Kunzite laughed humorlessly. "Oh, no. Though I seem to recall thinking twenty against one weren't the best of odds either. No, this is between you and me. I fight you alone."

Regal narrowed his yellow eyes. "Field of Combat, single weapon?"


"Very well. You chose the format. I choose the weapon. Magic. And no one interrupts until the victor triumphs, and you die."

Kunzite sneered. "I don't plan on dying at your hand, baka half- breed. But I agree."

Regal, with what was for him a great amount of self-control, ignored the last crack. He thrust his spear deeply into the floor of the cavern. Kunzite unstrapped his sword and gave it into Artemis's hands without ever glancing away from Regal. Then he and Regal paced several feet away from the others, carefully watching each other the whole time.

"What are they doing?" Mako asked Jadeite anxiously. Usagi stood alone, watching calmly.

"Field of Combat," Jadeite answered absently as the two men faced off, and a large half sphere of transparent energy sprang into being around and above them. "They fight in there, using only magic, and the first one to die loses. The barrier keeps anyone from interfering. It will only fall of one of them is killed or wounded badly enough that he can't hold up his end. And if that happens, then he's too weak to stop his opponent from finishing the job. Damn. I sure hope Kunzite knows what he's doing. Regal's always been too powerful for his own good, and he's cunning."

"Oh, jeeze..." Mako moaned. "I have a bad feeling about this!"

Prince Endymion's head was spinning, and he wasn't sure what to think or believe, but he had enough sense to coax Rei out from behind the throne and into the hard seat. The girl was weary and emotion- torn, and she was about to lose her rigid control.

The eyes flickered, then blazed red. Endymion quickly knelt before her, bowing his head. Just in time!

"My queen," Endymion began, not at all certain of what he was going to say, but Metallia suddenly leapt to her feet, her expression a mixture of rage and triumph.

"The fools!" she howled, then disappeared away in a fiery warp.

"What the hell--?"

The battle seemed to be almost a draw. Both combatants were of equal power and will, and though both had been wounded, neither was even close to getting in a really damaging blow. The others watched fearfully, except Artemis, who exhibited no concern, and Ami, who had recovered and was now monitoring the fight on her computer, giving the others a play by play account of things they couldn't see.

"Oh! Kunzite's taken a blow to the shoulder! Just a bruise, nothing serious. Ah! A slice above the brow for Regal! That will adversely affect his eyesight. And now-- Oh, SHIT!!!!"

No one even noticed Ami's outburst, for they had seen the same thing her computer had picked up, and were all uttering their own curses.

Bending swiftly, Regal had pulled a slim white blade from his shin guard. With a flick of his wrist, he sent it winging toward Kunzite. The king was not expecting a physical attack, for they had agreed to single weapon form. The knife embedded itself deeply in his upper chest.

As he staggered to his knees in disbelief, a crimson stain spreading through the front of his uniform, the barrier disappeared and Regal stepped toward him, ready and eager to finish the job.

There was a tremendous crack, that echoed through the whole of the huge cavern. Regal froze and swayed, looking down in amazement at the ruins that had been his left arm. Jadeite swore and reaimed his pistol as Regal turned to look at him in shock. This time the bullet caught him square between the eyes, and he toppled without a sound.

"Usagi, quick!" Luna urged. "If you can get the ginzuishou to Kunzite--"

Usagi was already on her way, had moved before Jadeite had fired his first shot. But before she could reach the fallen man, there was yet another flash, and a swirl of red flames in the air over Kunzite's prone body. A newcomer appeared abruptly.

"Rei?!" Mako gasped.

"Metallia!!" Usagi snarled, brandishing her saber, her eyes flashing.

Queen Metallia tossed Rei's head and laughed mockingly. "So, you have finally come to join with me in glorious battle! But I shall not make it so easy on you! And I have a traitor to take care of first!"

She raised her slim arms and effortlessly send forth a huge blast of burning, searing power. Everyone cried out in pain and fell to floor. Ami and Luna lost consciousness. Usagi, however, remained on her feet. She held the moon stick before her in her left hand, the ginzuishou blazing bright gold.

"Pretty trick," Queen Metallia sneered. Before Usagi could move toward her again, Regal's spear suddenly appeared in her hand.

"And now a fitting end for a traitor to his realm," she laughed, raising the weapon.

"NO!" screamed Usagi, diving forward.

With a determined thrust, Metallia drove the spear through Kunzite's heart.

: : Part 12: Changes : :

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