Sailor Moon Fan Fiction ❯ Absence ❯ Black Heaven, Act III ( Chapter 46 )

[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
Absence - By Kirika


Chapter forty-six. Titbits. What's wrong with titbits? It's a valid word I'll have you know. It's not like my mind is always in the gutter. I also think about... erm… about… anime! Yes, anime. *cough* ^.^;;

Hmm. I was under the impression that in Japanese society, there is a "if we don't acknowledge it, it doesn't exist" type of mentality about lesbianism, but it definitely isn't encouraged (i.e. there is no Japanese word for lesbian. Unless you count resubian, but that's basically a pronunciation thing), and I'm not sure how common it is for girls to experiment with each other before marriage. Probably not that much, in my opinion. While some affection between two girls is tolerated in Japan (hugging and stuff), even in public to a degree (though in Tokyo, things are a lot looser ^_^), it is mostly because neither of the girls perceives it as anything deeper, or that they could ever have the choice of choosing a woman over a man, and therefore it isn't a threat to marriage so their parents don't intervene. Don't be fooled by anime; it's a lot different in the real world. But that's all beside's the point anyway. Usagi and Mamoru have more or less been promised to each other from the distant past and also have the future in their favour; they've just about always been considered a couple with a bond. Plus, you've probably seen how Usagi reacts when Mamoru shows interest in anybody else, so it's only natural she'll react this way now that things are reversed. Their situation is entirely different; the fate of the world supposedly depends on them staying together. Now, if you're wondering why Usagi's parents are so nice about it all in this fic after what I said, both Ikuko and Kenji have always seemed like good parents to me, so I figured it would be too out of character if they both went ballistic.

Heh, publish this fic? I don't think you can publish copyrighted material…

This chapter was supposed to be up earlier, but I got bogged down with work. This is becoming a bad habit. -_-


- Kirika


Chapter 46 - Black Heaven, Act III

Sailor Mars dashed down Minato General Hospital's corridors, taking the most direct route to the main entrance of the building. The Senshi of Fire fiercely forced a path through the moderately packed hallways, giving no quarter as she barged aside doctor and patient alike, sending many of each hard into walls and onto the floor. While the youma could have lied about what was currently underway at Juuban High School, Mars couldn't take the risk otherwise. But it wasn't only that… the icy cold sensation of fear deep in her gut told her that the youma's words rang true, and that Usagi was in terrible danger. And the miko's instincts were usually correct… even if she wished sometimes that they weren't.

Suddenly, there was loud hollow boom sound, followed by several smaller thud noises, eliciting sharp yelps of surprise from the people milling along the hall the raven-haired girl was currently sprinting down. Mars had a good guess where the explosion originated. Her prayers were with Sailor Jupiter and Sailor Mercury back in the brunette's hospital room, as well as with Setsuna and the other remaining two Outer Senshi, but the miko had other more important concerns at the moment. Her comrades would have to hold their own against the youma without her assistance.

After running along what seemed like a never ending corridor to the girl, Sailor Mars finally burst out into the main foyer, the automatic doors at the front entrance a welcome sight to her fevered eyes. Without pause, Mars continued her furious dash towards the main entrance/exit, ramming anyone or anything that blocked her way out of her path.

"Ooff!" one bystander grunted as he was knocked heavily onto his backside, sending the stack of snack foods and cans of drinks that he had been balancing in his arms skittering along the floor.

Sailor Mars was halted momentarily in her sprint as the man bounced off her solid frame, forcing the girl to take a stabilising step back. The Fire Senshi spared the source of her delay an angry glare and prepared to set off once more, before realising that she knew the man currently sitting on the floor.

Sanjuro looked up at Sailor Mars, surrounded by dropped packets of chips and containers of soda. "Rei!" he yelled in surprise, and then appeared greatly agitated, frightened in fact. "Umm, I wasn't following you or nothing, I swear! You see, I have to be here because I have this bad cold and… and…" His blurted excuse petered out and he blinked several times at the Senshi of Fire, as if it was just dawning on him what well-known figure was before his eyes. "Holy crap on a cracker! You're Sailor Mars!" Sanjuro shouted, a look of awe coming to his features. He then looked up to the ceiling reverently. "Oh, thank you, god! My career is saved!"

Sailor Mars reached down and grabbed the idiot ex-reporter by his jacket collar, hoisting the man up to his feet. "Shut up!" she cried vehemently, shaking the babbling Sanjuro in her firm grasp. "I couldn't care less what you're doing here; just tell me that you have your car nearby!"

"Yeah, I do, I do, Miss Mars!" Sanjuro exclaimed excitedly. "It's not mine exactly; it's rented. I left my own car back in Yokohama. I--"

"I *don't* *care!*" Sailor Mars repeated ferociously, brutally cutting the man's ramblings off. She started to drag Sanjuro by his collar to the hospital's main entrance, disregarding the shocked and somewhat petrified looks she was getting from passers-by. "Just take me to it!"

"Yes, ma'am!" the ex-reporter chirped as he tried to snatch some of his fallen junk food up from the floor while being pulled away from the scattered, tasty snacks.

The Senshi of Fire jogged out into Minato Hospital's parking lot, the girl's pace as fast as it could be while hauling an annoying man behind her. "Which one?!" Sailor Mars prompted Sanjuro as she shook the man once again, dislodging a few of his retrieved items of junk food from his grasp.

"It's that brown one over there!" Sanjuro informed the irate raven-haired girl with a motion of his head, since his arms were currently occupied with juggling his mid morning meal, trying to prevent more items from falling to the ground.

With transportation now in sight, Sailor Mars tore towards it, drawing Sanjuro along with her, almost strangling the ex-reporter with his jacket due to her tight grip. As the Senshi of Fire and her hostage arrived at the rented car, Mars noticed that someone was sitting in the front passenger seat. It was most likely Sanjuro's partner in crime.

"You can get in the back," Sanjuro said in a gasp as the girl stopped by the car, the man now free from the choking noose his jacket had had on him.

Mars let go of Sanjuro and then swiftly opened the car's rear door, jumping into the back seat. She waded through the piles of garbage that covered the floor and more or less the total back area of the car, and pushed aside a mountain of pizza boxes to reveal that the vehicle did indeed have a seat there after all.

As Sailor Mars settled herself in the back seat --ignoring the fact that her legs were ankle deep in empty plastic bottles and chip packets-- the rented car's other passenger bent around the front seat he was situated in, blinking his light brown eyes in surprise as he saw who had just leapt into the vehicle.

"Rei?" Tsubasa said uncertainly, furrowing his brow. "What are you doing here? And why are you dressed like that?" His expression then turned panicked, his eyes becoming wide. "It was all Sanjuro's idea to follow you!" he said quickly, pointing accusingly at Sanjuro as the spiky-haired man opened the driver's side door.

"Shut up, you moron! And man, are you such a loser. Don't you know anything?" Sanjuro sighed in a long suffering tone as he sat in the driver's seat, dumping the small amount of his salvaged food and drinks carelessly on Tsubasa's lap. "Rei's Sailor Mars!" The ex-reporter appeared to take a moment to revel in this knowledge once again, his mouth hanging open in pure disbelief. "*Sailor Mars*, for crying out loud. This is the greatest moment of my life…" he gushed happily, slamming the car door shut.

"'Sailor Mars'?" Tsubasa parroted, obviously confused.

Sanjuro looked at his companion as if he had been living under a rock. "Sailor Mars! One of the Sailor Senshi. They appeared in Tokyo a couple of years back and were involved in a hell-of-a-lot of weird crap. God, don't tell me you've never heard of them?!" the ex-reporter half-shouted, gesturing emphatically with both his hands.

"Uhh…" Tsubasa mumbled unintelligently. "I think I remember seeing a 'Sailor V' plush somewhere…"

Sailor Mars violently swept the remaining junk off the rear passenger seat, and then focused her steel lavender gaze on the two idiot men. "It isn't important who I am!" she yelled angrily, halting the chatter between Sanjuro and Tsubasa. "I need to get to Juuban High School as fast as possible! Do you know how to get there?!"

Sanjuro and Tsubasa merely stared warily at Mars for several seconds, seeing how on edge the raven-haired girl was. Just before the Fire Senshi was about to boot the pair of men out of the car and somehow drive it herself, Sanjuro piped up, leaning around the driver's seat to face the miko. "I know, Sailor Mars!" he declared enthusiastically. "We've already been-- uh, I mean, yeah, I know how…" the ex-reporter finished sheepishly.

Sailor Mars affixed a smouldering and forceful look directly at Sanjuro, causing him to flinch. "Then drive," she ordered coldly.

Sanjuro simply nodded gravely, perhaps picking up on something in the girl's intense eyes. He turned to face the steering wheel and then quickly slipped on his seat belt, before jamming the car keys in the ignition. Sanjuro gunned the engine, slamming his foot down on the accelerator and causing a loud squeal of rubber to come from the spinning back wheels of the vehicle. The ex-reporter then forcefully shifted the automatic gear into drive and released the handbrake, peeling out of Minato General Hospital's parking lot, leaving wisps of smoke and a black tire trail in his wake.

"Rei?" Tsubasa said with a slight quaver in his voice as Sanjuro drove like a maniac down the street, overtaking other cars rather recklessly, and causing the senshi's former neighbour to grip the handle by his head tightly, his knuckles white. "What's going on? Why do you have to get to Juuban High? Is Usagi…?"

"Yeah," Sanjuro pitched in as he neared a red traffic light, starting to slow down the rented car. "Are youma at that school? What kind of youma? Are they zombies? Are they? It's zombies isn't it," he waffled on, firing questions at the girl.

Sailor Mars ignored the other passengers' inquires and focused on the road ahead. "Faster," she demanded through clenched teeth, holding on to the driver's seat with one hand to keep herself steady.

"It's red," Sanjuro said quizzically, as if the miko had lost her mind.

"I said faster!" Mars snarled, her fingers pressing hard into the padding of the driver's seat.

"Augh, god damn it," Sanjuro cursed and then swerved the car around the queuing vehicles at the traffic lights, flooring the accelerator. Sanjuro sped through the intersection, narrowly avoiding oncoming traffic, and then wrenched hard on the hand brake while spinning the steering wheel to the right, initiating a sharp turn into a side street, swinging the rear of the car around at almost a hundred degree angle. Tsubasa yelped as his body was squashed against the door due to inertia, his hands with a death grip on the handle above him.

"Geez, where did you learn to drive like that?!" the brown-haired man questioned Sanjuro somewhat breathlessly, looking like he was about to throw up.

"Arcade," Sanjuro said with a smug smirk as he weaved in between a bus travelling along the opposite direction and a station wagon in his own lane, leaving both vehicles in his dust. "I could go faster, but this piece of junk car isn't a manual."

"God, just get us to the high school in one piece, okay?!" Tsubasa said in a strangled scream, seeing how close the bus had come to scraping off the rented car's ugly brown paintwork, the large public transport vehicle's low horn still echoing in his ears.

"Shouldn't be a problem," Sanjuro informed the trembling passenger in the front seat with a confident grin. "I'm so good, I could lap Ten'ou before he knew what the hell happened! Twice even!"

Normally, Sailor Mars would readily have a pithy comment for Sanjuro's bluster, especially with him mentioning her racecar-driving friend, and his mistake in Haruka's gender. But the Fire Senshi's thoughts were elsewhere, her brain only vaguely registering the blur of road through the windshield as the tarmac ran beneath her. A million scenarios were running through her mind, each one involving her princess and youma, each one more horrendous than the last. The moment when Usagi's life would be in definite mortal danger was supposed to occur at night, or that was what Setsuna had said anyway. But wasn't the future uncertain? Could it be that the Guardian of Time was wrong? The woman did say it was only 'likely' that the moment would happen after the sun had set. Either way, it didn't really matter to Sailor Mars; her true love needed her help, and that was enough for the princess's bodyguard to know. Nothing would stand in her way, an army of youma or not, all opponents would feel the lick of her flames; none would stop her. While Mars lived, threats to Usagi's safety died.

The Senshi of Fire felt the anger boil inside her as Sanjuro raced down the last street to Juuban High School, mercilessly straining the car's engine to it's maximum output. The youma were going to pay with their worthless lives for attacking her princess's school, and for ruining the start of the miko's and her true love's new life together. Today was supposed to be a terrific, heavenly, day, when Usagi finally freed herself from Mamoru forever, to spend the rest of her unending life with her devoted senshi, with her best friend. That the enemy had disrupted things fuelled Sailor Mars' raging fire inside her body. They would all be punished in the name of Mars.

"We're here!" Sanjuro announced, easing his foot down on the brake as the rented car approached Juuban High School. Sailor Mars snapped out of her fevered reverie and refocused her eyes on the location ahead.

Outwardly, Juuban High School didn't look that badly damaged. A myriad of smashed windows decorated the building, and some sections of the walls were missing, leaving behind gaping holes outlined with twisted steel support cables, allowing any onlookers to see within the classrooms. Rubble was strewn about the front school grounds, most of the masonry probably belonging to the destroyed walls. However, the most disturbing thing was the faint screams and cries for help that filtered out of the high school, more than one punctuated by an inhuman screech, signalling to Sailor Mars that the youma back at Minato Hospital hadn't lied.

"Oh no…" Tsubasa whispered as he stared at Juuban High School with a horrified expression over his face, seeing the condition of the building and hearing the awful sounds coming from within.

"Hey, the cops are here," Sanjuro said, only casually glancing at the school building as he trundled the brown car along to the entrance gate. "For once the authorities are actually here when you need them," he added sarcastically.

Sailor Mars tore her gaze away from the dreadful picture seen through the vehicle's windows, trying her best to block out the ghastly howls of pain and suffering. The raven-haired girl looked out the windshield and saw that the police were indeed outside the high school, the blue uniformed individuals having erected a small barricade around the main entrance to the building using their black and white cars. Oddly, the Senshi of Fire could only make out one officer of the law behind the enclosing police vehicles.

Sanjuro rolled down the driver's side window and poked his head out of the car. "Yo! Cop dude! What's goin' on here?" he yelled to the policeman while still manoeuvring the brown rented car gradually nearer the barricade.

However, as the trio got ever closer to the specifically arranged police cars, the miko started to feel a tickle along her highly attuned senses. She spared a glance back at Juuban High School, believing that the no doubt many youma that were currently ravaging the place were responsible for the disturbance in nature she was experiencing.

"What the…?" Tsubasa suddenly gasped sharply, leaning forward in his seat, staring intensely out the windshield at something.

Sailor Mars narrowed her eyes and scanned them over the police cars ahead of her, searching for anything that could be responsible for Tsubasa's reaction. The Fire Senshi's intent lavender eyes narrowed even more to grim slits as she spotted what was so disturbing to her former neighbour. Bodies. Blue uniformed bodies, the small number of savaged corpses just peeking out from underneath the blocking black and white police cars, dark red pools encircling the still forms.

"Youma," Mars breathed in disgust. Damn, the enemy certainly did get around.

"Huh?" Sanjuro uttered in confusion, turning his attention back inside the car.

"He's a youma, you dumb ass!" Tsubasa exclaimed, flashing his terrified gaze between the 'policeman' and the ex-reporter.

The Senshi of Fire fell backwards and braced her legs against the backs of the two front seats, one foot on each. "Run him down!" Sailor Mars fiercely shouted, not taking her eyes off the youma outside.

"What?!" Sanjuro said stupidly, hesitating.

"Run him down, you idiot!!" Tsubasa screamed, and then grabbed the steering wheel with one hand, while he reached his right leg over to the car's driver's side and crunched his foot down on the accelerator, sending the vehicle careering towards the youma in a burst of momentum.

Sanjuro was thrown backwards into his seat as the car sped forward, directly at the police cars surrounding the masquerading youma. Tsubasa let out a whimper as the creature before the triumvirate began to transform, exploding out of the police uniform it had been wearing to reveal it's true, hideous, appearance.


Mars held her bow in a horizontal position to accommodate its size in the back seat and drew the fiery weapon, before launching a flaming arrow surrounded by an aura of shimmering, blistering heat straight at the youma as the car continued its lethal collision course. The projectile flew in between Tsubasa and Sanjuro, almost scorching off her former neighbour's face, and then punched a hole through the vehicle's shatterproof windshield, sending multiple webs of cracks along the remaining glass.

The arrow pierced the youma's purple bulbous head, taking it by surprise before it could even completely finish its metamorphosis, and then burst into a ball of searing fire, engulfing the creature's head in billowing flames and hiding it from view. A split second later the rented car, with its accelerator pedal still being held down by a wailing Tsubasa, smashed into two parked police cars, the powerful collision sending the black and white vehicles to bang into the youma, the force of the impact pulverising its bones and making the murdering thing fly backwards through the air. It hit the side of another police car, breaking a window and showering small flakes of glass over its blazing head.

A dazed Sailor Mars opened the back door of the car and stumbled out, landing on her hands and knees beside shards of broken glass spread about the ground like discarded confetti. The sudden, forceful stop of the vehicle had nearly thrown the miko right past Sanjuro and Tsubasa and through the windshield, and would have certainly done so if her brace against the front seats had been any less secure. Mars clambered to her feet, using her now crumpled transportation as support. Thankfully, she didn't feel like she had sustained any injuries beyond a few bumps and bruises.

While Sailor Mars was recovering from the car crash, Tsubasa squeezed himself out of the broken passenger side window, the door now a crushed mess against a police car and preventing escape. The man snaked onto the hood of one of the damaged police vehicles, and then simply lay on his back, looking totally shell shocked. A small trickle of blood ran down the side of his head from a matted patch of brown hair, the blood stream journeying slowly over bright, sunburnt looking red cheeks, no doubt caused by Sailor Mars' cavalier attack.

There was a repeated low thudding noise as Sanjuro tried to kick out the driver's side door, finally managing to succeed in forcing the bent metal open after the fifth attempt. The spiky-haired man exited the severely mangled vehicle on unsteady legs, and then after taking a brief moment to get his bearings --apparently almost perfectly all right after the collision-- he slid over the hood of a police and sauntered over to the unmoving youma, the creature's head still a flickering torch.

"Yeah!! That's right, bitch!" Sanjuro yelled triumphantly, stabbing furiously with a pointed finger at the shattered youma corpse. "You brain eating scum suckers mess with me, and *you* *get* *messed* *up!*" He pumped an elated fist eagerly in the air, whirling around to face the half-dead Tsubasa lying on the hood of the police car and an intent Sailor Mars, the raven-haired girl's gaze fixed firmly on Juuban High School as she righted herself. "Woo! Chalk up another youma kill for Sanjuro, with an assist by the way cool Sailor Mars! Yeah!" The ex-reporter's victorious face then fell as he clutched his right arm with his left hand. "…I think I broke my arm," he whimpered, looking at his companions for sympathy, but instead only being greeted with the realisation that the car rented out in his name was completely totalled. "Oh god! Look at the car!" Sanjuro exclaimed, running up to the destroyed vehicle as steam poured from underneath the cracked and twisted bonnet, the man's supposedly broken arm forgotten. "Damn it! I knew I should have gotten the insurance!" The ex-reporter spun back to the dead youma, whose body was partially stuck in the dented door of a police car. "This is all your fault, you ugly bastard! If you weren't dead, I'd kick your sorry ass!"

Sailor Mars tuned out Sanjuro's inane tirade and took one purposeful step towards the high school's gate, knowing that Usagi was inside the building turned war zone, and that the blonde angel needed her assistance and protection. "Both of you; wait here," she commanded sharply, and then followed up her first step with other, more faster ones, proceeding in a run directly for the school building's main entrance, not waiting for the two men's acknowledgements.

Sailor Mars pushed open the clear, half-shattered glass double-doors of Juuban High School's front entrance, her eyes focused grimly on the chaos that could be seen in the primary hallway through them. Butchered bodies were everywhere, their lifeless forms haphazardly littering the floor and stairways. Most appeared to have been viciously gutted by some wild beast, student and teacher alike remorselessly ripped and shredded asunder, not one being discriminated against. Dark sanguine splotches mixed with lumps of gory, chewed on internal organs stained the white floor and walls in a nightmarish and revolting display of violence.

Sailor Mars waded through the congregation of the dead, the body pile thickest near the double doorway entrance, all most likely having been slaughtered during their efforts to flee the earlier carnage. The miko could still hear shouts and roars coming from the floors above her, but the ground floor she was currently on was eerily quiet. No moans coming from the mortally wounded, no sounds of approaching enemies-- merely the silence of Death.

The raven-haired girl hurriedly freed herself from the thick bloody mass of the fallen, stepping over an armless corpse of what looked to have once been a teacher, the missing limbs nowhere to be seen. Mars did her utmost to block out the detestable images from her mind, seeing so many futures snuffed out around her. Was this Fate's doing? Was this Destiny's last-ditch effort to end Sailor Mars' meddling? Was Usagi and Mamoru's predetermined future so important as to validate this much loss of life? The thought infuriated Mars, heightening her rage to an inferno.

"Help…" croaked out a small voice to the side of the fuming miko, coming from the direction of a group of visceral smeared lockers.

Sailor Mars paused and turned towards the lockers, before marching up to the source of the noise. Just as she was about to pull open one of the grisly covered lockers, the door to one swung open, depositing a black uniformed high school student into her arms. Mars caught the falling boy and then lowered him gently to the floor on his back, kneeling beside him.

"You gotta help me," the boy sobbed desperately, gripping onto the front of the Fire Senshi's fuku tightly with both blood soaked hands. "Th-They changed… everyone… even my tutor, Satoshi…" The student winced in pain and pulled Mars down closer to his face. "Monsters… th-they're killing people… m-my friends…" He coughed weakly, and then gritted his teeth, in obvious agony. "One of those things got a good hit on me… am I going to be al-alright?" the boy asked, pleading to the miko with panicked blue eyes to tell him what he wanted to hear.

Sailor Mars smiled sadly down at the student, noticing the blood that had collected in the ridges of his teeth and the red droplets that now marred his lips. She glanced away from the boy's begging face to the deep and weeping gouges that scarred his lower body, seeing the white of bone embedded between exposed muscle and flesh.

"Yeah," she lied compassionately, looking into eyes that were the same shade as her true love's. "You're going to be fine."

The critically injured student smiled in relief and loosened his white-knuckled hold on the senshi's fuku, relaxing somewhat at the comforting news. "That's it… just relax now," Mars said softly to the dying boy. "Everything's going to be just fine."

The miko watched the life fade from the student's eyes, and his hands fell away from her outfit, leaving small red marks on the now creased white material. She closed his unseeing blue eyes tenderly and then stood up, feeling moisture in her own lavender orbs. Someone was going to pay dearly for all this. Without warning, Sailor Mars' fist flashed out to one side, crunching into a locker door and forming a round dent in the grey metal. All this death around her… why? Why had the youma attacked this school? Because of the Sailor Senshi? There were only two attending school right now for the gods' sakes. Why did the youma have to attack everyone? These were innocent people, people Sailor Mars and the other senshi were supposed to protect from such dangers. Why had the enemy engaged in such malicious overkill? Mars narrowed her vision to sinister slits. She knew why. It was her other enemy, the one all around her at every single moment, the invisible one she had been striving against for so long. Fate. The Senshi of Fire's clenched her left fist tightly, trembling with fury as her nails bit into her palm through her gloves, seeping blood into the cloth. She looked back to the boy's body next to her feet, and then to the other cadavers that were strewn about the area. They would be avenged. Blood was everywhere, red, the colour of anger, and fire. And of determination. Their lives would have not been lost in vain; all this did was make Sailor Mars more determined in her challenge against Fate.

The screams of the suffering echoed down the stairway to the Senshi of Fire ears, and she raised her head to the sounds, seething in rage. She had delayed long enough-- Usagi needed her. Sailor Mars bolted for the stairs, climbing up them two steps at a time, stepping over the many people whose futures had been sacrificed by Destiny, until she reached the first floor. She was greeted by the disgusting sight of a lone quadrupled armed youma feasting greedily on the corpse of a young girl in the hallway, tearing at her violated body with a multitude of sharp, pointed fangs. If somehow detecting the miko's presence, the alien creature looked up from its meal, twisting its head towards the Senshi of Fire. The youma gave Mars a wide toothy grin while scraps of meat dangled obscenely from in between its blood covered needle-like teeth, appearing positively evil incarnate.


Sailor Mars roared out her greatest attack, sending a blazing arrow on its benevolently vengeful course, straight at the sadistically smiling youma. The targeted creature let out a bloodthirsty shriek and charged seemingly suicidally forwards, directly in the path of the arrow. At the last possible instant, the youma bent its multi-jointed legs and sprung into a mighty leap, sailing over the fiery projectile and striking Sailor Mars in the chest with its feet, taking the senshi unawares. With its lower pair of clawed hands, the youma grabbed both of Mars' wrists, holding the miko's arms by her sides, effectively immobilising the limbs. Sailor Mars flung her head backwards as the creatures other, free pair of blood strained hands slashed in front of her face, tails of red dribbles being left behind in the air as the six large talons almost deeply lacerated her features.

Mars let herself fall to the floor and curled into a roll, letting the youma's own momentum throw itself off her body. The creature went flying backwards down the corridor, leaving a collection of cuts on the Fire Senshi's arms as it furiously tried to maintain its hold on her. Sailor Mars completed the roll and righted herself onto her feet, before whipping around to face the now prone youma as it thrashed on the floor, attempting to quickly regain its footing. Mars didn't intend to give it the chance.


The youma screeched in torment as it was cruelly burnt alive, its dark purple armoured carapace no match for the fires of the righteous. The four-armed thing writhed on the messy floor as its body disappeared from sight in its own funeral pyre, but the figure responsible for its condition was already racing away from the doomed creature, dashing up another flight of stairs as she followed the sounds of the enemy.

As Sailor Mars burst out of the stairway and onto the second floor, she saw the source of the racket. At least half a dozen youma were taking turns at leaping at a pair of badly damaged doors, which if the sign above them was any indication, led to the music room. The corridor had the welcome sight of many youma bodies lying with human ones, telling the Senshi of Fire that her two comrades had been dealing out punishment of their own. More screams were coming from within the music room, these ones human in their pitch and with a desperate, fearful edge to them.

Swiftly taking stock of the situation, Mars realised that there must be a small pocket of survivors who had fortified themselves in the music room, and were now making a last hopeless stand against the youma incursion. As the mangled door to the makeshift bastion threatened to cave in completely, Sailor Mars decided it was time to give a burning ray of hope to the remaining students of Juuban High School.


The intensely hot, pointed instrument of deliverance took the lead youma in the eye and then exploded in a brilliant fireball, the heat so fierce that the creature's blood and brain fluid from the contents of its shattered skull evaporated before the liquids could hit the ground.


Sailor Mars continued her barrage of arrows at the other youma, fluidly bringing up blazing arrow after blazing arrow from an invisible quiver as she ferociously roared out her attack words, launching fiery death and incinerating the demonic things in cleansing flame. One arrow ripped into a youma's knee joint, brutally amputating its lower leg and cauterising the wound instantly. Another projectile tore into the chest of a second evil creature, easily punching a hole in its chitinous exoskeleton and roasting its soft internal organs, cooking the youma from the inside out.

The remaining horrendously maimed youma still standing turned to Sailor Mars, glaring hatefully at their executioner. One creature let out a ear piercing shriek and ran at the Senshi of Fire, jumping high into the air, the top of its head nearly brushing the scorched and blackened ceiling, and aiming its remaining three fingered clawed hand at the girl, its other arms ending in charred stumps.


Sailor Mars gritted her teeth and shot a dazzling hot arrow at the impetuous creature, striking the leaping youma in the throat and forcibly removing its head from its shoulders as the bolt exploded. The raven-haired girl casually strafed to the right as the decapitated corpse landed heavily on the floor, a few inches to her left.

Just as the two surviving youma dodged yet another volley of flaming bolts from Mars, a bright yellow beam blasted out of the music room door, blowing the structure off its hinges, and then hit one youma in the side of its head, melting a hole completely through its skull, before bursting out the opposite side in an explosion of gore and searing into the forehead of the final creature, detonating the surprised youma's head like a rotting melon and sending bloody bone shards into the air.

Sailor Mars dropped her arms, her flaming longbow vanishing from her grasp. She then ran over to the entrance of the music room and peered in, observing a bedraggled Sailor Venus and a large group made up of terrified students and teachers cowering as far away from the remains of the door as they could manage.

"Mars!" Sailor Venus said with great relief, tiredly wiping a mixture of sweat and blood from her forehead. "Thank god! Youma are everywhere; they were disguised as my classmates and teachers! We tried to contact you, but it all happened so fast I--"

"Where is she?" Sailor Mars demanded simply as she scanned the many wounded people under Venus' protection, searching for any sign of her princess.

The Senshi of Love didn't have to ask who 'she' was. The exhausted girl blinked at Mars and then her face fell, turning apologetic, while she shook her head. "I'm sorry, we got separated. I was leading her out, but she broke away from me and said she had to help Naru and Umino."

Sailor Mars heard a multitude of inhuman howls coming from above her, and then whirled away from Sailor Venus, heading back to the stairway, jumping over the smoking and lightly burning youma bodies. The blonde staggered out of the music room after the purposeful miko. "Wait! Where are the other Sailor Senshi??" she called.

"It's only me," Sailor Mars said over her shoulder, reaching the bottom of the stairs.

"What?!" Venus cried anxiously. "There's too many youma for you alone! You'll never survive by yourself!"

Sailor Mars paused with one foot on the first step to the third floor. She turned her head and met her fellow senshi's concerned gaze with one of severe determination. "I'll survive. Their numbers are meaningless; their deaths are already assured. And I won't be alone." And with that, Sailor Mars dashed up the stairs, leaving a battle weary Venus behind, the blonde slumping to her knees on the floor as she stared after the miko.

Sailor Mars was led up the stairs by her ears, following the sounds of the enemy, believing that Usagi would be the cause of the creature's screeches, until she reached the fifth floor, where the youma were apparently amassing. As she was about to tear into their ranks from the flank, there was a crash from overhead and the youma started bellowing, before sprinting up the steps to the roof. Mars cursed and then swiftly chased after the charging blackish creatures, ending up on top of Juuban High School.

The scene before her was an anarchic one. In one corner of the chain linked fenced roof was a large body of the student and teacher population of the high school, some clambering up the safety fence to get away from the abominable scenes before them. More people were spread about the roof, but lay motionless, all having met their ends. Four-armed youma were absolutely everywhere, but were being held back from feasting on the second group of Juuban High School survivors by a lone girl, who was alternating between throwing her tiara and using the power of the rod she held aloft in one hand. The blonde girl appeared drained and wounded, but was fighting on nevertheless, defending her classmates and teachers from the enemy that was threatening to harm them.

Sailor Mars' heart sang at the sight of her princess, of her love, the gorgeous girl still a part of the mortal domain. The divine being's valiant resistance in the face of such overwhelming opposition was more than enough to inspire the Senshi of Fire into punishing, unstoppable retribution, the feelings mixing with her already searing fury. With a blood-curling battle cry that gave even the youma pause, Sailor Mars leapt into the fray, screaming out the activation words to the purifying flames of her attacks, commanding her fire's assistance, her extreme anger manifesting from her hands.

A collection of glowing rings slammed into the densely packed youma, charring their flesh and turning their carapaces into liquid black. The Fire Senshi lashed out mercilessly with fists and feet, brutally crushing bone and hard armour beneath her unmatched onslaught. Innumerable youma dived and charged at her, hacking and slicing at her body as she delivered oblivion to her princess's adversaries, but Mars moved like quicksilver, her reflexes heightened to an unnatural level in her frenzied state. Taloned limbs were burned off unforgivingly from the murdering enemy, the youma howling and wailing in agony as they were made to pay for their sins. Recognition seemed to form in the doomed creatures' beady crimson eyes, and terror soon replaced it, as if the human girl spilling their dark violet blood meant something to them.

Sailor Mars continued her berserker rampage, roaring wordless shouts of defiance as she repeated her powers' phrases, turning the roof into an inferno of destruction that could be seen from the other side of Minato-ku. The nightmarish images of the maliciously butchered population of Juuban High School she had previously been succeeding in blocking out were now flashing in her mind, the loss of such innocent life fuelling her righteous indignation. Fate. Mars felt she was fighting her invisible enemy itself, a formless mass of purple-black alien legs and arms, the senshi delivering justice for Fate's murdering machinations. Couldn't Destiny let her be? Why did Fate have to involve the innocent in its attempts to stop her? Why couldn't it accept that her and Usagi were to be together?! Why?! WHY?!

The Senshi of Fire screamed out the question to Fate, but received only choked gurgles and sharp howls of pain and suffering in reply. Sailor Mars was livid. She felt that she could incinerate her enemy by sheer will alone, as if her aura were shimmering in a heat haze around her, only needing to be expanded out to burn Destiny to nothing. The miko dealt out a conflagration hotter than the fires of Hell to the evil force surrounding her, so hot that her tears dried the moment they were shed. Tears. Mars hadn't realised she had been crying.

And then suddenly, Fate was gone, the last shred of its personification collapsing to the ground. Sailor Mars blinked, looking down at the mutilated youma she had just vanquished, the torched corpse joining the many others. Fires burned all around her, the bodies of the fallen the fuel for the blazes, cremating the slain creatures on the spot. Ash was blowing gently in the air, sticking to the raven-haired girl's wet cheeks, her tears still flowing numbly down her face. All the youma were dead. But Mars didn't feel satisfied, instead she felt… hollow, empty. She wondered why that was.

The Senshi of Fire dropped limply to her knees, the tears coming more forcefully now. Why was she crying? And why couldn't she stop? Sailor Mars took shuddering breaths as she wept, tears streaming down her cheeks and leaving tracks in the black soot all over her face. Suddenly, someone was holding her in a tight embrace, whispering her name soothingly in her ear over and over again. Mars hugged the figure back as if her very existence depended on it, only remotely aware of the aches and pains her body was signalling to her brain.

"It's okay, Rei," Sailor Moon's voice said softly in a comforting tone. "You're okay. We're all okay."

Sailor Mars nodded weakly and rested her head on her princess's shoulder, seeing through blurry eyes that all the people at the corner of the rooftop seemed all right, but were looking at her with shock and awe. Yes, it was all okay. She had survived the ordeal and her true love had too, and that was that was important… wasn't it? There was a fleeting thought in her mind that she couldn't pin down, some dire thing she couldn't quite put her finger on, before it vanished into the recesses of her subconscious.

"Rei, please say something," Sailor Moon said, her voice wavering. The blonde touched Mars' cheek with one hand and angled her bodyguard's face to hers. "Are you hurt? Are you in pain? Please talk to me…"

Sailor Mars shook her head carefully, not wishing to disturb the warm dainty gloved hand on her blackened cheek. "No more than I'm used to," she said through her gradually lessening tears, her voice slightly croaky. "I just…" Sailor Mars sighed and gazed lovingly into Sailor Moon's concerned blue eyes, the colour reminding her of the boy that had died in her arms earlier, one of many lives she had failed to save this terrible day. She reached up with one somewhat shaky hand and tenderly touched her fingertips to her love's beautiful face, before trailing them down to cup her chin delicately. "I'm glad you're alright," the Fire Senshi said truthfully. "When I heard what was happening here, I…" She swallowed uneasily and averted her lavender eyes from her princess.

Sailor Moon smiled affectionately at her lover and began stroking the raven-haired girl's cheek beneath her hand. "I'm perfectly fine," she reassured her zealous senshi. "You got here in time."

Sailor Mars nodded uneasily. "I know. B-But so many… if I had been any later, you would b-be…" she stammered, feeling a fresh batch of teardrops spring to her eyes.

"But you weren't. You arrived in time to help me," Sailor Moon said quietly, continuing her soothing ministrations.

The Fire Senshi raised her head to meet her princess's compassionate eyes and then smiled faintly at her, the smile quavering only minutely. Seeing that her senshi needed further proof and loving support, Sailor Moon leaned forwards, capturing Sailor Mars' lips with her own, kissing the girl tenderly. The miko's eyelids fluttered closed and she let herself be taken away by the kiss, tuning out everything around her but her true love.

The kiss was over in mere moments, but Sailor Mars felt better, her usual self-confidence starting to return. Suddenly, she sensed someone by the top of the now ruined stairway to the fifth floor of the high school, watching her and Sailor Moon. No, more than just someone. The Senshi of Fire turned her head to the top of the stairway at the same time Sailor Moon did, both girls' breath catching at the unexpected sight.

Tuxedo Kamen looked at the two hugging, and previously kissing, Sailor Senshi through his white mask, his face expressionless, but with his mouth tight, his lips drawn into a thin line. Sailor Venus held on to the prince to assist her drained and battered body to stay upright, and Mars saw that the Senshi of Love's features nearly mirrored her lover's, the girl alternating from staring with a stunned and foreboding look at Tuxedo Kamen and at her pair of caught friends. The final new onlooker was Sailor Saturn, who glared at Sailor Mars coldly, clenching her Silence Glaive in a firm grip, the material of her white gloves squeaking against the hard metal.

"Liar," the Senshi of Death whispered frostily, but somehow the miko could hear the pale girl's single word accusation. Saturn abruptly spun her Glaive around and levelled the lethal weapon at the Senshi of Fire. "LIAR!!" she screamed before charging towards Sailor Mars, the shining, curved blade scintillating the light from the fires around her leading the way.


to be continued…

Author's ramblings:

I debated carefully whether Saturn would be motivated enough to attack Mars, but after considering the Chibi-Usa situation, and her believing that Setsuna and Rei are involved, I decided, why not? Besides, Sailor Mars V.S. Sailor Saturn; I just couldn't resist. ^_^

Sanjuro going on about zombies is a little in-joke I have with a friend that character is based on.

And did anyone catch the subtle Trigun reference?