Sailor Moon Fan Fiction ❯ Absence ❯ My Will, Act III ( Chapter 55 )

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


Chapter fifty-five. Hey, I never promised there would be Rei time in the last chapter, I just said there would be. But the Mamoru/Michiru and Hotaru/Minako tag team sections ended up dragging on. My chapter average of 3000 words each is really going out the window.

Well, the baddies are assassins, so were ninja. Back in the old days to be caught with a ninja-to (or any ninja weapon I think) carried a death penalty, so I'm sure that many ninja were not very nice. But any martial art can be used for evil, really. And Rei knows Ninpo and/or Ninjutsu? Really? Can anyone else confirm this?

Why hasn't Tuxedo Kamen been terribly hurt like the Sailor Senshi? Because I wrote it that way. Nyah!

Now on personal note, it's time for 'share my pain'. On Thursday a car driven by some idiotic guy hit me. Besides from all the cuts, bruises, and a minor concussion I received, I sprained my right ankle very, very, badly. I am so annoyed. I'll be on crutches for at least two weeks if not a month, which totally sucks. Not to mention being hit by a car really hurt (luckily it wasn't going too fast), and not in a good way. Thankfully, I have a high pain tolerance, so right now I'm not hurting very much at all, even without pain killers. I guess I was lucky not to break anything, but the loss of mobility is -really- irritating. I swear if I could walk, I'd break that damn driver's legs and see how he likes it. *sigh* Waaa!! I hate this! *cries* Everyone's sympathy will probably make me feel better… *hint hint* ^.^


- Kirika


Chapter 55 - My Will, Act III

"There," Sailor Moon said with a slight quaver in her voice. She tied off the mauve strip of cloth turned bandage that had once been the bow on the back of her fuku securely around Sailor Mars' shoulder, effectively applying constant pressure against the miko's arrow wound in her upper back and reducing the possibility of it starting to bleed again. The princess tied the improvised dressing into a neat big bow on the right side of Mars' chest, finishing the treatment of her bodyguard's injury with a faint smile of satisfaction. "All done."

Sailor Mars watched Sailor Moon's slender fingers deftly tie the bow and then pat the knot gently, before she lifted her head to look at her love. The blonde looked back at Mars with misty eyes and sniffled a little, the girl's gaze dropping down to her bloodstained right hand. Sailor Mars said nothing as Sailor Moon's red-gloved hand trembled, her princess's wide blue eyes seeming to be held in a haunted enchantment at the sight of the miko's split blood. Instead, after a brief hesitation, Mars tenderly took her true love's shaking hand in her own two, bringing it up and placing it over her heart.

"I'm alright," Sailor Mars reassured Sailor Moon finally in a subdued voice, her steady heartbeat beneath the blonde's hand hopefully helping to put the girl at ease. Her eyes flicked down to the arrow lying in a small pool of sanguine fluid on the elevator's floor, before quickly returning to her princess's upset and apprehensive gaze. "Really."

Sailor Moon nodded unsurely, not taking her earnest eyes from her bodyguard's. She simply stared silently at Mars for a few moments, studying the raven-haired girl's bloodied features intensely, as if only for the first time really looking at her. Mars merely stared back, her lavender eyes affixed to her love's blue ones, indulging her princess, the blonde's intent scrutiny not making the miko uncomfortable in the slightest. She was acutely aware of Sailor Moon's dainty hand held to her chest, the warmth radiating from it chasing away the dull throbbing pain from the Fire Senshi's sore body. After what seemed like hours to Sailor Mars, the miko losing herself in her love's blue crystal gaze, Sailor Moon reached up with her free hand and gently cupped her bodyguard's scarred cheek.

"Do you remember…" she whispered, tenderly rubbing her thumb over the smear of blood marring half of Mars' face, as if in an attempt to clean it. "Do you remember the promise you made to me?"

Sailor Mars inclined her head slightly in affirmation. She never forgot any of her promises, especially those she had made to the love of her immortal life. She had sworn that she wouldn't die, at least, not before Sailor Moon herself did, may the day never come. It was her princess's wish, and so Mars had to obey it. But the Senshi of Fire also had a duty to protect Sailor Moon, and that obligation took precedence over the preservation of her own life. Sailor Mars suspected that her love knew that fact, which was probably why she was always so concerned for her welfare. It warmed her heart that her princess cared about her so much, but then the girl's care did extend to all of her senshi. Still, regardless of why Sailor Moon cared about her, it pleased Sailor Mars. She took what affection she could get from her love, no matter how small. Just like the old days really, before she had left Tokyo and before all this agonising heartache had occurred.

"Good," Sailor Moon said quietly in response to Sailor Mars' nod, continuing to stroke the raven-haired girl's torn cheek. "I wish…" she started, but then closed her eyes and shook her head slightly. The princess then opened her eyes again, returning them to her bodyguard's and smiled softly, the small but warm gesture doing wonders to Mars, helping to revitalise her drained body and mind by just its sheer splendour. "Just be more careful, Rei," Sailor Moon said instead, imploring the Senshi of Fire with her teary blue eyes. "Please… for me."

Looking into her princess's heartfelt gaze while the girl caressed her cheek softly, it was hard for Sailor Mars to deny her anything. If Sailor Moon had asked the Fire Senshi to forever devote the rest of her life to her, then she would have gladly agreed in a nanosecond with a song in her heart. But perhaps that wasn't the best example.

"Okay, Usagi," Sailor Mars said reluctantly in a sigh, forced to say something to relieve the worry in her love's heart and mind, even if she didn't truly mean to follow the words. "I'll try not to be so reckless, if that's want you want."

"Thank you, Rei," Sailor Moon said softly, her smile growing slightly.

Sailor Mars just let out a small wordless sound of acknowledgement and then swallowed, her eyelids becoming heavy as her princess's soothing touch on her face lulled her thoughts, spiriting them away from reality. Mars willing let them go. Now it was just her and Sailor Moon, her true love, both taking a brief respite from the conflict around them while the blonde comforted her adoring lover with an affectionate caress. Sailor Mars' eyes glazed over as her lips began to form into a dreamy smile, despite the strange painful twinges coming in her chest. She wondered why she hurt so much there, even though her lover covered the area with her warm hand.

Suddenly, the loving caresses ceased and Mars felt the hand over her heart break free of her grasp, the unwelcome sensations jarring the raven-haired girl out of her fantasy world. The Senshi of Fire's eyes quickly popped open, blinking in confusion.

"Come on, Rei," Sailor Moon said quietly from in front of Mars. "We've rested long enough; the others need our help."

Sailor Mars continued to merely blink in bewilderment at her princess, before harsh reality came crashing back down to her mind. Hurriedly, she turned away from Sailor Moon to the elevator's control panel, hiding the tears that had sprung to her eyes.

"Right," the miko said, her voice somewhat thick as she hit the button to resume the elevator's ascent. She quickly wiped the collecting moisture from her vision with surreptitious care, mentally chastising herself for being so weak willed. Already Mars was becoming like Setsuna, losing herself in make believe.

"Rei…?" Sailor Moon's sweet voice said from Sailor Mars' left, laced with concern. "Are you okay…? Does your back hurt?"

"No. I'm fine. Just… I'm fine," Mars assured her princess, keeping her face averted from her, seemingly engrossed in the metallic control panel of the elevator. "I guess maybe it does hurt a little," she then said, needing some sort of excuse for her behaviour. Sailor Moon was so perceptive nowadays.

Before Sailor Moon could question Sailor Mars' words, all of a sudden there was a hard jolt as the elevator came to a sharp and unexpected stop, causing both surprised occupants to stumble before they regained their footing.

"What did you do?" Sailor Moon whined, looking at Sailor Mars accusingly as if the girl had intentionally made the elevator halt.

"Nothing, odango atama," Mars replied somewhat absently, more engrossed in warily scanning her eyes along the ceiling of the elevator. She noted the floor indicator displayed the number eighteen, telling the Fire Senshi that her and her princess's ride had been cut short somewhere in between levels eighteen and nineteen. "I have a bad feeling…" she mumbled to herself.

"Oh no!" Sailor Moon despaired, looking at her bodyguard for guidance with an anxious expression. "Do you sense youma?"

"In this place, nearly all the time. But our elevator just stopping by itself is what's really worrying me. The youma must know we've in here," the Senshi of Fire explained while she continued examining the ceiling, her brow creasing in thought as she spied a trapdoor. "We better get out of here fast."

Sailor Moon nodded, and then briskly walked next to Sailor Mars by the elevator's control panel and quickly hit the 'open door' button. The blonde blinked in puzzlement at the non responsive silver double doors in front of her, and then pressed the button several more times in rapid succession.

"Rei! It isn't working!" Sailor Moon wailed in a panic, hitting the button frantically a couple more times. "We're stuck in this tin can!" she added in a cry before turning to Sailor Mars for help. Except, the Fire Senshi wasn't beside her anymore.

"Over here, odango atama," Sailor Mars said with feigned forced patience from behind her love near one corner of the elevator. Sailor Moon turned around at the sound of Mars' irritated voice and smiled sheepishly as the raven-haired girl pointed up at the trapdoor above.

"Oh. Right," Sailor Moon said, walking up to Sailor Mars and rubbing the back of her head.

Sailor Mars smirked at her princess's endearing antics and then knelt down on one knee before the blonde girl, the miko interlocking her fingers and positioning her laced hands in a improvised step for her love. She looked up at Sailor Moon expectantly.

"Climb up, I'll give you a boost," Mars said while the odango atama eyed her bodyguard's kneeling form dubiously.

"But you're hurt," Sailor Moon argued with clear apprehension. "Maybe I should give *you* a boost."

"It's okay. I'll endure your plump weight *somehow*," Sailor Mars said in a mock sigh of resignation, shaking her head at the unavoidable plight she would have to suffer through.

"Hey!" Sailor Moon cried indignantly, stamping one foot. "I am not *plump!*"

"Yeah?" Mars said. She then exaggeratingly inspected her princess'a lithe figure, pretending to study it closely. "But your fuku does seem to be bulging a little at the seams…" the Fire Senshi said in a thoughtful tone, raising an eyebrow.

"No it's not!" Sailor Moon exclaimed, but glanced down at her body self-consciously. "I'll show you! If you can't support me, then you're just not strong enough!"

Sailor Mars smiled inwardly as her princess determinedly placed one booted foot in the stirrup made out of her hands and hoisted herself up precariously on the miko's back, swinging her left leg over the girl's right shoulder. Sailor Mars had doubted that Sailor Moon would have possessed the strength to act as a footstool for her no matter how good the blonde's intentions were, so she had deliberately manipulated her naïve princess into doing what was best. Plus not to mention that it was immensely fun to tease Sailor Moon. Sailor Mars didn't think that she would ever tire of playfully tormenting her, no matter what the future held for the two of them. The fact that she still could was a load off her heart; perhaps that future wasn't so bleak after all. Perhaps.

The Senshi of Fire grunted in pain as her arrow wound was disturbed; Sailor Moon's energetic movements while she scrambled into a comfortable position on her shoulders caused the muscles around the injury to be stretched, making stabs of pain shoot into Mars' head. Sailor Mars did her utmost to remain as quiet as possible however, hoping to keep her princess oblivious to her discomfort. Finally, after several near eye-pokes and many hair pulls, Sailor Moon was sitting fairly contentedly on Sailor Mars' shoulders, her legs dangling over the Fire Senshi's chest while she held on to the raven-haired girl's head for balance. Sailor Mars reached up and grabbed Sailor Moon's legs, getting a firm grip on the blonde's thighs before she slowly stood up into a semi-crouch, her injured body only minutely trembling due to the effort it took.

"Okay. Now open the trapdoor, Usagi," Sailor Mars instructed Sailor Moon. She felt the muscles in her legs burn as she held her half-crouching pose and tightened her hold on her princess.

"Gotcha," Sailor Moon chirped, and then proceeded to push up on the trapdoor. After several moments of frustrated grumbles, the blonde finally exhaled heavily in annoyance and disappointment. "It's not opening!" she fretfully informed Mars.

"Push harder," Sailor Mars suggested unhelpfully in a slightly strangled voice. Sailor Moon had unconsciously started to squeeze the miko's head between her thighs with every hard push on the trapdoor, almost cutting off the girl's air supply.

"I'm pushing as hard as I can already!" Sailor Moon complained. She squirmed on the Fire Senshi's shoulders for a few seconds and then stopped suddenly. "Wait, I have an idea," she said.

"Hurry…!" Mars squeaked as her princess locked her ankles together, applying even more pressure on the Fire Senshi's trapped head.


Sailor Moon's spinning tiara flashed into the stubborn trapdoor and blasted the entire thing clean off its hinges with a loud boom, sending it rocketing into the elevator shaft.

"Yes!" Sailor Moon shouted in triumph, nimbly snatching her tiara out of the air as it flew back through the now open trapdoor. She replaced the tiara in its rightful spot on her head and then patted Mars on the top of her head. "Stand up further," the odango atama ordered.

Sailor Mars grunted in compliance and willed her tired legs to straighten, allowing Sailor Moon to easily reach the trapdoor opening and heave herself up off the miko's shoulders and onto the roof of the interrupted elevator. Mars looked up in time to see her princess's legs disappear from sight, and then heard clunking thuds as the girl no doubt stood up and walked around on top of the elevator. Sailor Mars took a few shuddering breathes, thankful to be able to breath properly again despite how delightful it had been to have her love's bare legs wrapped around her head, and then leapt high into the air, latching on to the edge of the trapdoor with both hands. She then pulled herself up, the arrow wound in her back screaming in pain all the while, before collapsing exhaustedly on top of the elevator beside a waiting Sailor Moon, cursing herself for not giving her body enough time to recover from near suffocation by the odango atama.

"You sound out of breath. Are you okay?" Sailor Moon asked with genuine concern as Sailor Mars panted for breath. The Fire Senshi merely gave her princess a withering look in reply.

Once Mars' breathing rate had finally subsided to its normal level, she stood up and surveyed her new surroundings. The elevator shaft was large, large enough for the two elevators of the office skyscraper to operate in. Two maintenance ladders ran up the right and left walls of the shaft bolted near to the doors to each floor, and every five metres or so there was a red caged light bulb that basked the area in a crimson haze.

"Nice lighting," Sailor Mars commented, eliciting a dry look from Sailor Moon.

"I guess we have to climb to the next floor," Sailor Moon said, looking up at the ladder that ran next to the double doors above them that surely led to level nineteen.

Both girls' ears pricked up when the sound of a motor operating filled the shaft, making the pair look around for the source of the noise. In her search, Sailor Mars noticed that one of the long steel cables running up to the top of the shaft to her left was actually moving. She walked carefully to the edge of the elevator she was standing on and peered cautiously over the side. The other elevator was ascending. Maybe Tuxedo Kamen or some of the other Sailor Senshi had made it to the elevator and were taking advantage of its services.

"What is it?" Sailor Moon asked from beside Sailor Mars, also gazing over the side of the elevator.

"Just the other elevator," Mars said, straightening. "We should get going, we've dallied for too long."

At the same time Sailor Moon opened her mouth to respond, the second elevator came to a halt slightly below them on floor eighteen. There was a bang that echoed up and down the long shaft as the trapdoor on the newly arrived elevator flew open, smashing hard against roof. To Sailor Mars and Sailor Moon's collective horror, a string of black-garbed youma suddenly leapt out of the trapdoor and landed nimbly on top of the elevator. A total of four assassins had revealed themselves, all of the creatures directing their eyes towards the elevator only a couple of feet above and across from their own.

"Looks like we've got unexpected company…" Sailor Mars remarked grimly. "Look alive, Sailor Moon!" she then yelled. "FIRE SOUL!"

A fireball hurtled towards the assembled youma, but the dark assassins abruptly burst into motion, all taking a step backwards and then sprinting forwards, bounding off the roof of the stationary elevator with their black cloaks billowing out behind them, and catching on to the edge of the two Sailors' elevator. Mars' hot projectile exploded on top of the elevator, the blast helping to further boost the assassins' jumps.

"Damn," Sailor Mars muttered as her and Sailor Moon's elevator lurched under the impact of the leaping youma and the Fire Senshi's attack, making the blonde odango atama cry out in fright as she wobbled unsteadily on her feet. "Stay away from the edge!" the miko warned her princess as the youma began swiftly climbing up to their position.

"Right!" Sailor Moon nodded, flicking her wrist and making her Spiral Heart Moon Rod appear in her right hand in a burst of sparkles.

One youma poked its hooded head up to the top of the elevator, only to be promptly kicked in the face by Sailor Mars, the force snapping its head back sharply-- but unfortunately the creature retained its grip. The Fire Senshi quickly brought back her foot to deliver a second kick, but just before she connected, the assassin grabbed her leg in an iron-like hold, halting the attack prematurely. Sailor Mars cried out more in surprise than pain, but stumbled, falling on her backside.


Sailor Moon was instantly by Sailor Mars' side and bopped the youma on the head hard with her Moon Rod, making the creature bark out a bestial grunt of pain and let go of her bodyguard's leg. Sailor Mars flashed her princess a smile of gratitude, and then clasped her hands together in front of her.


The youma's shrieks were ghastly as its face was engulfed in searing flames, setting its head and shoulders alight. It instinctively clutched at its melting visage with both hands, letting go of the edge of the elevator and ending up plummeting down the shaft in a blazing inferno, its burning corpse still able to be seen as a spot of bright light when it hit the bottom.

Sailor Moon grabbed Sailor Mars arm and helped the raven-haired girl get to her feet, before the two senshi whirled around to confront the other three youma who had used their wayward attentions to hurriedly climb up onto the roof of the elevator. The trio of assassins were dressed like most of the others Mars had seen, but it was their weapons that made them stand out. Each wielded a sai dagger in each hand, with a third stuck in a belt on their waists. The Senshi of Fire narrowed her eyes threateningly at the youma; half her face was caked in blood while the rest of her was bathed in eerie red light, giving the girl a menacing, almost evil, appearance. The youma enemy seemed to hesitate, altering their grips on their weapons nervously at the malevolent sight of the sinister miko, the three looking unsure of how to proceed. Sailor Mars decided to take the choice of how away from them.


A phoenix streaked towards the centre youma, the firebird's beak open in a baleful screech of impending fiery doom. The other two assassins appeared to regain their wits at the sight of the rapidly approaching attack, both darting as far away from the burning bird as the roof of the elevator would allow. But the targeted youma seemed frozen however, standing rigid in place despite the obvious danger. The firebird crashed into the petrified creature pitilessly, opening up its beak widely as if to swallow it in a maw of intense heat and flames. The youma howled in torment, and flailed around wildly, its statue-like state broken by the feeling of its body being incinerated. In its violent thrashings of blistering pain, the assassin accidentally stepped over the edge of the roof and tumbled downwards, its life mercifully ending when its body was pulverised at the bottom of the elevator shaft.

Meanwhile the remaining two youma had recovered, and in lightning quick moves, both hurled a sai at Sailor Mars and Sailor Moon respectively. Sailor Moon let out a desperate wail and reflexively swung out with her Spiral Heart Moon Rod, dashing the spinning sai dagger away from her in a move made up of luck… and natural skill. Mars dexterously angled her body to the back and to the right, allowing the thrown three pronged weapon to sail past her-- but the Fire Senshi's intent lavender eyes never strayed from her princess, ready to intervene in a split second if the blonde looked like she wouldn't be able to deal with the attack. Sailor Mars smirked at her love's frantic swing with her Moon Rod, watching the struck sai fly off into the air, the miko having been quite confident that the girl would have been able to deflect the dagger. Sailor Moon herself didn't know what she was capable of when it really counted.

Sailor Mars straightened and then bolted towards the nearest youma, while it drew the another sai to replace the one it had thrown, and grabbed the thick steel cable attached to the centre of the elevator with two hands and swung herself around it, smashing her feet into the face of the creature and causing it to stagger back and nearly fall down the red-lighted shaft. Mars let go of the cable and lashed out with one fist at the distracted assassin's face, hoping to knock it off the elevator and to its death. However, the darkly dressed youma recovered its footing quickly and blocked the Fire Senshi's blow with its arm, and then fluidly countered with a stab with a sai dagger at the girl's stomach. Mars batted the thrust away from her with a hand, the sharp weapon only tearing a light slash in her right side, and then rammed her knee into the enemy's midsection. The youma grunted at the force of the impact and hunched over slightly, allowing the Senshi of Fire to grab two handfuls of the its black cloak and then throw it head first into the metal mechanism that held the elevator's cable, a loud crack resounding as the assassin's skull made painful contact.

Sailor Mars took the opportunity to viciously kick her prone and temporarily stunned adversary in the ribs while she spared a glance at Sailor Moon to see if she was fairing all right. She saw that she was currently engaged in combat with the other youma, the girl's Spiral Heart Moon Rod locked in between the prongs of the assassin's sai daggers, both combatants absorbed in a test of strength, one furiously trying to stab the long points of its weapons into its assailant, the other desperately trying to push her enemy off the elevator and prevent being skewered.

As Mars was about to move to help her princess, her own youma opponent had already recuperated from its head wound and ferociously slashed upwards with both daggers, scoring thin red lines in the front of the rapidly recoiling Fire Senshi's fuku. Sailor Mars cursed her lack of awareness; if it weren't for her sharp reflexes, she would have been gutting by the dual strike. The now standing assassin cruelly lunged at the caught-off-guard senshi, forcing the girl to madly retreat under an unyielding barrage of stabs. Mars blocked feverishly, every nick of a sai on her body fuelling a burst of added energy to her fast deflections. But still she was being forced back despite her heated efforts, until suddenly she stepped back once more… into empty space. Sailor Mars panicked, pin-wheeling her arms to retain her balance and stop herself from falling to an untimely end. Her assailant laughed roughly and jabbed its sai daggers at her vulnerable form, knowing that she was finished. Realising that there was no choice, Mars willingly darted backwards off the elevator's roof, letting herself drop. The youma lurched forwards clumsily, not expecting the manoeuvre, while the Senshi of Fire grabbed the edge of the elevator, her body slamming against its side with a thump. She swiftly pulled herself up and then seized one of the youma's overshot arms with one hand, and tugged on it as hard as she could. The assassin lost its balance and screamed as it careered off the roof of the elevator and past the dangling Mars, down to join its dead comrades in a bloody mess at the bottom of the eighteen-storey deep shaft.

Sailor Mars breathed a sigh of relief and then hoisted herself up all the way back onto the roof of the elevator. She looked up to see Sailor Moon kicking her youma opponent in the groin, making it cry out with a strange squealing sound and drop its guard for a moment as it bent over in torment. Sailor Moon quickly took advantage of the assassin's preoccupation and clubbed it on the side the head with her Moon Rod, sending it staggering near the edge of the roof. She then planted a boot on the now howling enemy's behind and pushed forcefully, shoving the unfortunate creature off the elevator. Its howls gradually got fainter and fainter as it plunged down the shaft until they abruptly cut off altogether.

Sailor Mars clambered to her feet and walked to her breathless love, giving the girl a speedy look over with her eyes. Sailor Moon had a few minor injuries, but she had come out of the scrape fairly well, for which the Fire Senshi was very thankful.

"You look sort of banged up, Rei," Sailor Moon said as she frowned at her bodyguard's slashed and bloody body, noting the many rips in her fuku. "Are you going to be alright?"

"I'm still breathing," Mars said glibly, waving off her princess's concerns.

"Good…" Sailor Moon breathed, smiling fondly at the miko, the red light illuminating the blonde not detracting the lovely picture of beauty in the least. "Just make sure you keep doing that."

As Sailor Mars was just about to give a witty retort to her love, there was a squealing noise of metal on metal directly above the pair. Both girls looked up in time to see a figure descending like a rocket down the elevator's steel cable, using some sort of weapon to slow its drop. Sailor Mars and Sailor Moon jumped back as the figure landed with a powerful and loud slam against the elevator in a crouch, making the whole structure sway precariously.

Sailor Mars tensed and stood in front of Sailor Moon, eying the new adversary warily. It looked like some sort of mummy. The youma was completely wrapped in black bandages from head to toe, several hanging off its spindly body in frayed strips. Its legs were too long in proportion to its body and were bent in a low squat, giving the assassin a frog-like appearance. The only bit of skin Mars could make out in the red tinted light of the elevator shaft was around its fevered eyes, but the flesh looked coarse, like it was covered entirely in scar tissue. In one hand the youma held a short length of wood with a slightly curved blade affixed to one end, akin to a small scythe. Attached to the bottom was a long length of weighted chain, which the assassin swung around lazily with its other hand. The weapon was a kusari-gama, Sailor Mars knew, a kama with a chain added to one end.

The youma let out a low hiss and then sped up its spinning of the kusari-gama's chain, before launching the egg-shaped weighted end in the direction of Sailor Mars and Sailor Moon. Mars grabbed her princess and immediately pushed the girl out of way as she herself follow suit. However, the assassin's opening attack was too fast, and the Fire Senshi felt the weight smash into her right shoulder, knocked her away from Sailor Moon and backwards, nearly depositing her through the open trapdoor of the elevator. Sailor Mars lay still for a second, a bit stunned, until the hit made itself known, a dull throbbing pain erupting in a delayed reaction at the location of the blow. The Senshi of Fire gritted her teeth and clutched her aching shoulder as she stumbled to her feet, seething at the youma.

Sailor Mars saw that the wiry assassin was hacking wildly at Sailor Moon with the kama part of the kusari-gama, while the blonde was desperately fending off the assault somehow with her Moon Rod, the effort it took clearly showing on her face. The girl's expression was scrunched up into one of intense concentration... and also immense distress. Sailor Mars certainly couldn't stand for this.


Mars let loose a blazing arrow from her equally blazing bow straight at the youma, hoping to destroy the loathsome thing in a single strike, or at the very least provide her princess with a reprieve from the creature's relentless onslaught. The assassin looked in Mars' direction as the fiery projectile soared towards it, and then agilely back-flipped out of its path, its long sinewy legs springing the heavily bandaged creature easily into the air.


Sailor Mars didn't let up her offensive, firing a fireball at the youma, aiming it at the spot the assassin would most likely land. However, the youma threw the chain of its weapon high around the elevator's cable in a tight knot, effectively pulling its body away from the resulting hot explosion of Mars' attack. The assassin whipped the kusari-gama's chain free of the cable and dropped to the roof of the elevator near Sailor Mars. It sliced with its scythe-like blade at the Fire Senshi in a blur, slitting a gash across the raven-haired girl's left thigh before she knew what had hit her. Mars hurriedly skirted around the elevator's cable as the youma followed up its attack with more swipes, zealously trying to cleave into her. The miko ducked as one erratic blow chopped into the steel cable, severing many of the fine wires that it consisted of. The elevator creaked forebodingly beneath Sailor Mars', Sailor Moon's, and the assassin's feet, and there was a fleeting pinging sound as another steel wire snapped. This definitely was not a good thing.

"Usagi!" Sailor Mars called as she evaded a vicious uppercut from the blade of the youma's kusari-gama, the weapon nearly ramming straight through her throat. Sailor Mars quickly glanced back to Sailor Moon, and saw the girl holding her tiara in one hand, appearing to be searching for an opening in the fight to help the miko. "You have to get off of this thing!" the Fire Senshi yelled, rolling to her side as the kama of the kusari-gama brought up a shower of sparks on the roof of the elevator, barely missing her.

"I can't just leave you!" Sailor Moon shouted, making no effort to move.

"Damn it, Usagi! Do as I say!!" Mars snarled, punctuating her last word with a vicious punch to the youma's wrapped up face, followed by a quick leg sweep, sending the creature sprawling. "Now, Usagi! NOW!!"

Sailor Moon hesitated for a fraction of a second more, and then stuck her tiara back on her head and dashed towards the edge of the elevator, leaping a few feet into the air and landing in an uncontrolled roll on the other, lower, elevator's roof, before crashing into the steel cable attached to it, bringing her to a painful halt.

Sailor Mars heart rested easier once she had saw Sailor Moon had landed relatively safely on the other elevator, allowing her to focus on the fight… and on getting her own fat out of the fryer. There was another pinging sound as yet more wires gave way under the weight of the elevator, making it creak all the more. And the fierce battle taking place on top of it didn't help its stability either. Sailor Mars had to get off of the elevator fast.

Mars exhaled sharply as the heavy weight on the chain of the youma's kusari-gama rammed into her chest, knocking the wind out of her. The assassin then dived towards the raven-haired girl, bringing the kama down in a smooth stroke at her head. Sailor Mars swiftly grabbed the shaft of the kama with one hand, forestalling the creature's blow, and then smashed the palm of the other into its face, cracking its head back hard. Sailor Mars heard another ping, and knew she was long overdue to get the hell out of there. She kicked the youma in its chest, forcing the enemy back even more and making it lose its grip on its kusari-gama, leaving the weapon in her hands. She hurriedly gathered up the chain and then swung the kama around in circles, gaining momentum. The Fire Senshi then launched the kama at the elevator's cable, wrapping the curved blade around the bundled wires above the breakage and locking it securely with the kusari-gama's chain, creating a makeshift noose. Sailor Mars then grasped the chain tightly, feeling the elevator lurch greatly beneath her. Without warning, there suddenly wasn't anything under Mars' feet but air, the steel cable having finally given up its struggle to support the elevator, letting it plummet over eighteen-storeys to crash with an enormous boom at the very bottom, shaking the shaft. The chain of the kusari-gama was pulled taut as Sailor Mars hung on desperately to it, dangling in the air, praying that the kama's hold on the cable would last. She heard Sailor Moon scream as the elevator fell, and she looked over to see her princess watching with great trepidation at the events unfolding, the girl clutching her heart in obvious relief at seeing that Mars did not drop with the elevator.

Sailor Moon's lowered head then abruptly snapped up, and she pointed frantically at something. "Look out, Rei!!" she yelled in warning.

Sailor Mars felt the kusari-gama's chain rattle below her, and she looked down only to see that the mummy youma was slowly but surely climbing up the bottom of the chain, hissing vehemently at her. Mars cursed under her breath and began wiggling her body back and forth, shaking the chain and trying to dislodge the scaling youma without actually freeing the chain from the now tattered elevator cable. But the assassin was persistent, and retained its grip on the chain. Mars kicked like mad as the youma grabbed her leg, its bony fingers wrapping revoltingly around her ankle and pulling hard on it, trying to make the Fire Senshi lose her grip.

"Rei! The elevator, it's moving!!" Sailor Moon wailed as the sound of a motor filled the shaft. Sailor Mars spared a fleeting look to her left as she continued in her attempt to beat off her youma assailant, to see that the elevator her princess was on was indeed starting to move downwards. Things really couldn't get any worse.

Sailor Mars swore loudly at her life-threatening predicament, her curse bouncing off the walls of the elevator shaft. She felt the youma's hand travel further up her leg, and she violently kicked downwards, repeatedly bashing her foot into the creature's head. Her arms ached from hanging on to the chain and her arrow wound stung unbearably; she was certain that it was starting to bleed again. Mars' hold on the kusari-gama's chain began to slip, and she clenched her teeth in stubborn determination, willing her drained hands and arms to hold on longer. She was *not* dying yet, not when her goal was so close. The Fire Senshi still had Lazarus' mask to retrieve, and by the gods, she intended to get it.


Suddenly, Sailor Mars felt the hand on her leg scrape over her flesh painfully and then disappear completely, a shrill cry accompanying its disappearance. She looked down to see the youma clawing hysterically at the air with one hand as it plunged down the elevator's shaft, a broken length of chain that evidently belonged to the kusari-gama clutched in a death-grip in the other. Sailor Mars moved her eyes away from the welcome sight to Sailor Moon who was waving at her from the rapidly descending elevator, the blonde's tiara held in her hand.

"Sailor Moon saves the day again!" Sailor Moon called jubilantly, her voice becoming barely audible the further the elevator went. "Don't worry, Rei! I'll get back to you as soon as I can! But you better not fall, okay?!"

"O-Okay!" Sailor Mars yelled back somewhat hoarsely as her princess became smaller and smaller in her sight, still a little shell-shocked by her ordeal.

Mars didn't like these turns of events, but perhaps it was for the best. The Fire Senshi had to hunt down and fight Lazarus, a surely formidable enemy, and she didn't want to have to worry about Sailor Moon during the battle. No one else here in the building knew what ability Lazarus had but her, and no one else would be able to defeat him but her. The other Sailor Senshi and Tuxedo Kamen would just get in the way. For everyone's safety, it was better if Sailor Mars faced Lazarus solo. Sailor Mars prayed that Sailor Moon would be okay without her vigilant presence, however. She had to beat back the impulse to just abandon her hunt for the masked youma and follow her princess instead. What if Setsuna's prophesised 'moment' occurred while she was off gallivanting around the upper levels after a specific youma? It was a possibility, but Sailor Mars couldn't afford to think about it, or she was certain she would definitely forsake her hunt for Lazarus in favour of tracking down Sailor Moon. Besides, it was her duty to deal with Lazarus. The assassin was obviously a great threat, and if her princess met up with him, she would be in substantial danger. It would be better if Sailor Mars disposed of him before her love or any of her friends arrived on the scene.

Sailor Mars nodded to herself, coming to a decision. She started to gently swing the steel elevator cable back and forth while she continued to hold on the kusari-gama chain, trying to gain enough momentum to reach the maintenance ladder on the shaft wall to the right. After a few minutes, the Fire Senshi finally reached the ladder. She grabbed a rung and then whipped the chain of the kusari-gama several times, freeing it from the cable. Mars would need the kama blade to pry open the doors to the next floor.

As Sailor Mars forced the doors to level nineteen open, she had trouble controlling the eager, almost fervent, feelings inside of her. Lazarus was so close. She just knew it. So very soon the Senshi of Fire would get her hands on the mask that had the potential to change her and Sailor Moon's lives forever. Clearly for the better.


to be continued…

Author's ramblings:

This little section of the fic is taking longer to get out than I first thought. Looks like it'll be four parts instead of just two. Oh well.