Sailor Moon Fan Fiction ❯ Absence ❯ Future's End ( Chapter 58 )

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


Chapter fifty-eight. Hello! Here I am on my new fanficcy posting place,! Damn you! 700 reviews gone, you moth-- I mean,I really dislike them right now. ^_^;

*ahem* Well, this chapter took a while to get out. But then it is basically the whole climax of the fic; I had to make sure I did a decent job. Plus it is the longest yet. And I had more university assignments (and still do) than you can poke a stick at.


- Kirika


Chapter 58 - Future's End

"Rei…" Sailor Mars heard Sailor Moon choke out from behind her, the blonde's voice sounding thick. The miko felt the gentle pressure of her love's hands on her waist, the feeling so light it was as if the girl were afraid to touch her.

Sailor Mars parted her dry lips, cracking open her mouth to give Sailor Moon some last words of reassurance with her dying breath. The words would be hollow, meaningless, but if the Fire Senshi could help to lessen the pain of her passing to her princess no matter how small the degree, then she would gladly spend her final moments making the effort, using up what remained of her dwindling life in that one last act for her love. However, before Sailor Mars could speak her parting words, something small and delicate fluttered across her vision, forestalling them before they left her throat. More objects fell dreamily in front of the raven-haired girl's tired lavender eyes, a shower of them filling up the air above the crouching Makareus while the demon grinned maliciously in obvious pleasure and triumph. They were a dark shade of red, almost ruby, a cascade of gently raining crimson. Rose petals. There was a metallic ring to Mars' right, causing the girl to turn her head in the direction of the noise at the same time Makareus did, the action more out of reflex than anything else. A single red rose was imbedded in the orange rooftop of the main observatory, with what was left of its outer petals dropping off the blossom to pool around its green stem. And lying next to the flower was a slender shard of glinting metal, its shiny polished surface reflecting the light from the countless lamps scattered along the girders of Tokyo Tower. Sailor Mars dropped her gaze to the tanto sticking out from her stomach as Makareus did the same, the multi-faced demon having also realised the significance of the sight of the sharp-stemmed rose and silver metal shard. The sadistic grin left the black-cloaked creature's ever-changing face as he moved the dagger away from the Senshi of Fire's midsection a fraction, revealing what he and the miko both already knew. The blade was broken cleanly in half. There wasn't so much as a scratch on Sailor Mars where the dagger had struck.

A shocked Mars' head whirled sharply to her left, to where a heavily panting Tuxedo Kamen was slowly lowering his outstretched arm back down to his side. The prince smiled at Sailor Mars as she met his eyes behind his mask; a simple smile, but one that spoke volumes. It held no hint of menace or condescendence, it wasn't smug or disgusted, but rather it was a smile of genuine relief and camaraderie, of friendship. But most importantly it was a smile of… understanding. Tuxedo Kamen had shattered the blade of Makareus' deadly dagger in twain with a well-timed and equally well-aimed rose, and in turn prevented Mars from receiving a devastating mortal wound. Sailor Mars was utterly astounded.

"How…?" Makareus croaked out, nearly as stunned as the Fire Senshi. He stared at the snapped tanto in his hands in disbelief, seeming unable to comprehend the sight.

Suddenly to Sailor Mars, it was as if time had sped up to its normal rate once more, the clamour of the wailing wind, the electrical discharge from the portal in the sky, and the general hubbub from the amassing youma army all coming crashing back to her ears. Setsuna's prophesised 'moment' had passed. Reality had returned to the rooftop of the observatory, freeing everyone, youma and human alike, from the thrall of the fateful 'moment'.

Before anyone else could react, Sailor Mars let out a loud roar filled with mixed relief and defiance at her near fatal experience, and then smashed her fist into the side of Makareus' alternating face, sucker punching him with tremendous force and sending the demon staggering backwards. A collective gasp of astonishment sang out from the gathered youma as their leader stumbled, all of the otherworldly creatures appearing quite scandalised and amazed at Mars' actions, but none making any move towards her or her equally frozen friends.

"R-Rei! You're alright!" Sailor Moon exclaimed in a tone overflowing with great relief from Sailor Mars' rear, somehow finding her voice while all others continued to simply look on, stuck in the waning residual effects of the 'moment'.

The Senshi of Fire looked over her shoulder and flashed her princess a cocky grin, the smile only trembling the tiniest of measures. "Naturally," she said, like she had had no doubt that she would have come through Makareus' attack unscathed.

"What are you idiots doing?!" Makareus screamed to his immobile troops as he regained his footing, practically seething while he ditched the broken tanto aside. "Kill her!! KILL THEM ALL!!"

The black-swathed demon's bellowed command was a call to arms for both the youma and the Sailor Senshi, the loud shriek at last breaking the two sides from their statue-like states. All of a sudden, the rooftop erupted in an explosion of activity as the considerable youma force charged forwards at the Sailor Senshi and Tuxedo Kamen in a frenzy of slashing claws and gnashing teeth, while all sorts of ranged attacks where fired over the monsters' heads by airborne units, several striking the aerial creatures' stampeding fellows instead of Mars and her friends in their zeal to kill the group. The murderous howls promising a grisly end from the invaders drowned out even the harsh winds, while the pounding of a myriad of inhuman feet shook the main observatory, the rooftop an impromptu war drum for the growing army to follow.

"Stay with the others!" Sailor Mars shouted out over her shoulder to Sailor Moon as the blonde stared at the charging horde with panic-stricken eyes, gripping her Spiral Heart Moon Rod tightly in front of her chest with both hands. The miko kept own eyes on a certain individual however, her gaze narrowing to demonic slits.

"What?!" Sailor Moon exclaimed in an anxious cry, Sailor Mars feeling her incredulous love's blue eyes on her back. "What are *you* going do?!"

However, the Fire Senshi didn't answer the blonde, instead calling forth her innate powers. "BURNING MANDALA!"

Sailor Mars launched a volley of flaming rings into the feral youma as they rushed recklessly towards her and her companions, burning a short path in the wild mob before she bolted forwards, leaping over the felled scorched bodies of the ones who had been unable to withstand her attack as she hurled herself into the enemy swarm. She saw the countless ravenous youma in front of her as simply part of the background however, her mind blending the enemy masses into the backdrop of the starry night sky. Instead, Mars' intense amethyst eyes remained focused on the one who could have caused the death of her love, her gaze glued to the tall dark figure as his lackeys weaved all around him, almost swallowing him from sight in a sea of misshapen bodies as he stood unmoving in the throng. Sailor Moon was safe now, the threat of the youma army aside. The moment when the Moon Princess's life would be assured to cease without intervention had come and gone, with the girl still drawing breath thanks to Mars' actions. And Tuxedo Kamen's. There was still the youma invaders and the interdimensional gateway that posed a danger to Sailor Moon, and yet here the Fire Senshi was, throwing herself into the fray and leaving her love to her own devices. But it was all right. Sailor Moon wouldn't be without protection. Tuxedo Kamen would watch over the girl with nearly the same if not equal level of vigilance the Fire Senshi would have. It was strange-- the prince and Mars could almost be called kindred spirits, something the miko wouldn't have ever thought until this night.

Sailor Mars tore her way viciously through the youma ranks, searing a blazing path to Makareus as the demon watched on, every one of his masquerades smiling arrogantly at her efforts. Creatures of all shapes and sizes where melted like butter before the Senshi of Fire's manifested inferno, leaving charred smoking corpses behind, black flakes of smouldering ash blowing off the formless lumps in the blustery winds like fireflies. Mars rammed her elbow into the head of one nearby youma in rapid succession as she neared Makareus, beating the creature into submission almost absently, the miko so fixated on the leader of the rabble. Part of the horde's ardour was stymied somewhat before the Fire Senshi's brutal assault, the girl meeting their fervour with her own fiery one, slaughtering a score of their number in a matter of seconds. The youma began to shrink back from Sailor Mars, almost as if they recognised her and feared her because of it. That was fine with Mars. It made getting to Makareus easier.

"Impressive," the demon commented as Sailor Mars finally reached within a few feet of him, cowed youma wreathed around the pair. "Lazarus had said you possessed great strength and skill in combat. Look at how my followers recoil at the sight of you. But now--" Makareus reached down with his right hand and drew his wicked katana smoothly from its sheath with a ring, the crisp high note somehow clearly being heard above the cacophony of battle in the air. The barbs on the jet-black handle bit into the demon's hand deeply but drew no blood, nor did it seem to cause him any discomfort. "--Now, you are but a gnat compared to *my* might," Makareus went on, pointing the tip of the curved sword towards Mars, the weapon seeming to swallow the light around it, haloing it in shadow. Ghostly images danced along the sides of the pure black and razor-sharp blade, wisps of ephemeral mists that almost looked like faces wailing in torment. "Before this night is through, you will experience the bite of Souleater."

"Not before you experience being burnt to a cinder," Sailor Mars retorted grimly.

Makareus smirked, but his shifting eyes where cold. "Indeed. But first…" The demon moved his outstretched katana into a horizontal position while he brought his left hand up behind the blade, his black-gloved fingers extended around it. "KAGAMI SHADOU SHUHOU!"

Before Sailor Mars' eyes, Makareus' form darkened to a deep black from head to toe. Suddenly, similar solid black shapes, akin to the demon's shadow, leapt out from behind him and into the air, over the rooftop of the main observatory before dropping down into the surging crowd of youma, the creatures meanwhile all occupied with furiously battling the Sailor Senshi and Tuxedo Kamen, hell bent on killing them. However, one shadow remained behind, the one that had spawned the others. It moved fluidly, bringing back its silhouette of a sword with both hands up near its head as it shifted into a ready stance, the point of its weapon directed straight at Sailor Mars. Unsure of what she was facing, Makareus or maybe something else, the miko primed herself for a fight, bringing up her fists defensively while the frightened youma nearby looked on.

Sailor Mars instinctively flicked her head to one side as the shadow's katana lunged at her face, the miko just barely evading having her left eyeball impaled. There was a rush of air as the dark blade past by her cheek, indicating to her that the shadow of Makareus did in fact have corporeal form. Now sure that her odd assailant had the ability to harm her, Mars quickly ducked as the shadow's sword smoothly followed up its opening attack with a sharp horizontal slice, attempting to cut open her face. The Fire Senshi rolled to her right as the shadow then hacked downwards, a screech of shredding metal sounding out as the shade of Makareus' blade tore a long gouge in the rooftop of the observatory, ripping the steel asunder as if it were nothing. Sailor Mars sprang to her feet and darted around behind the shadow, and then delivered a fast jab where its kidneys would have been. However, as her fist made contact with the dark shape, it passed straight through it, much to her surprise. She fell forward slightly, losing her balance as the shadow dissipated into an ebony mist, blowing apart in the raging winds until not so much as a scrap was left.

Sailor Mars blinked in confusion for a moment, as did the youma spectators around her. It appeared that the shadow was no more than a decoy, a wraith of the real thing; the demon Makareus. Mars ground her teeth at the creature's cowardice. Now she would have to search for Makareus in the chaos that was currently underway all around her, checking each shadow of the demon for the genuine one. Assuming there was one. Perhaps Makareus had gone invisible or simply fled outright instead of hiding amongst his shades.

Sailor Mars' reverie was disturbed as she heard a thrashing beat-beat sound from above, causing her to look up at the sky. What looked like a police helicopter was circling Tokyo Tower at a low altitude, a strong floodlight attached to it scanning over the anarchy loose on top of the main observatory. The pool of blinding white light flashed over Mars' position for a brief instant, causing her to squint, before there was a buzz of static from the helicopter as a broadcast system was activated.

"THIS IS THE POLICE! EVERYONE CEASE AND DESIST YOUR CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES AT ONCE AND PLACE YOUR HANDS ON YOUR HEAD!" a loud authoritarian voice sounded out from the police helicopter. However, all it did was capture the dangerous attention of countless bloodthirsty youma. As Sailor Mars watched on in horror, the helicopter was promptly bombarded by numerous energy attacks from several disc-riding robed youma the miko and her friends had encountered before, and then mobbed by a swarm of human-sized red, ravenous, leathery-winged creatures, as if in an attempt to physically pull the vehicle down.

Sailor Mars' observation of the police's plight was cut short however, when a sharp burning pain wracked her body as something ripped across her back. The Fire Senshi whirled around, leading with her leg, and kicked the youma responsible for her pain with bone-crushing force, sending the sneaky creature sprawling on its face. Mars then felt a weight land on her vulnerable back, a second youma having gathered its courage and deciding to strike the girl from behind like its comrade. The Senshi of Fire rammed her elbows repeatedly into the youma's ribs as it rode on her back, pummelling the thing until its grip loosened. She then flung her head backwards hard, crunching her adversary's nose beneath her skull and causing it to fall off of her, clutching at its face in agony as it hit the rooftop.

More and more youma began to overcome their fear of Sailor Mars and attacked her, forcing her onto the defensive. The Fire Senshi growled in annoyance as she dodged one youma's lashing tail and kneed another in the gut, before rolling her body over the now hunched over creature and avoiding a fierce claw swipe from yet another assailant. She didn't have time for this; she had to find Makareus. No matter, Sailor Mars would just have to burn her way through these youma and teach them that their earlier fear of her was very justified. And then some.


Sailor Jupiter glared hatefully at Iason as she finally cornered the despicable youma beside one corner of the observatory, near one of the four primary supporting crisscrossing arrangements of orange and white steel girders. When she had noticed that Iason was taking advantage of the charging host of youma to fade away into their numbers after Sailor Mars' near death experience, Sailor Jupiter had charged forwards herself after him, beating her way through the rabid crowds with fists and feet. She had heard Sailor Mercury call out to her, but she had put her girlfriend's voice to the back of her mind, ignoring it. Jupiter knew that Mercury didn't want her taking any unnecessary risks, but she had a score to settle with Iason. The youma had tried to murder her in her bed, but that was not the reason she was so incensed with him. It was because he had hurt Mercury quite badly, nearly killing the blue-haired girl. And that was something Sailor Jupiter could definitely not simply just forget about.

"You didn't think I'd let you get away, did you?" Jupiter growled at Iason. A substantial company of youma had gathered around the still human-disguised creature, but she wasn't deterred. If any got in her way they would share Iason's fate.

Iason raised one hand in a restraining gesture as his minions started to move in on Jupiter, silently telling them to stand their ground. "Humph. I think I should deal with you myself," Iason said with mild irritation, removing his tie and letting it blow off the tower in the wind to the ground below. His body suddenly blurred to a deep azure for a second, and once it had refocused itself, a grey muscular creature was standing on the rooftop instead of a man in a blue suit. Iason's true appearance was of a hairless humanoid, but it was as if he had been flayed alive and left to rot in the sun for some time, making his exterior look tough and leathery. No skin could be seen on the youma's body, his musculature obscenely visible for Sailor Jupiter to see as it rippled with his movements. "Let us finish what we started at Minato Hospital!" Iason snarled as razor-sharp lengths of monofilament burst out of small holes in his fingertips, flying towards the tall brunette.

Sailor Jupiter bolted to her right as soon as the near invisible wires were launched her way, but was unable to prevent a couple wrapping around her ankle. She was suddenly wrenched off her feet as Iason pulled viciously on his weapons, the threads cutting into the girl's flesh and forestalling her run, depositing her hard on her stomach on the rooftop instead with a bang. Jupiter stifled a cry of pain as the wires bit into her ankle, lines of blood being drawn on it. Iason tugged on the wires again, dragging the senshi along the rooftop by her leg, the fine sharp fibres wrapped around the girl's ankle further digging in, much to her anguish. As Sailor Jupiter was being hauled cruelly towards her youma tormenter along the rooftop, she forced herself to flip over onto her back to face him, despite the searing pain in her ankle as the wires around it twisted.


Jupiter desperately ditched a ball of crackling electricity at Iason, but the youma had saw it coming a mile away. As the white energy sphere sailed his way, he angled his body casually to one side, allowing it to pass harmlessly by. In retaliation, Iason pulled with all his might on the wires, putting his whole body weight behind his weapons, causing Jupiter to slide in an arc along the rooftop, bowling over several nearby youma as her flailing form took their legs from under them. The brunette's eyes widened and she scrambled for some sort of handhold as she felt her body lift off the metal rooftop and fly into the air, restrained only by the thin sharp threads cutting agonisingly into her ankle, making the girl a human kite. Sailor Jupiter's frantic floundering abruptly and harshly ceased as her back slammed with devastating force into one of Tokyo Tower's main supports, her body unmercifully being pulverised against the interlaced steel girders, the force so great that she didn't even have enough sense of mind to scream. She then plummeted down to the rooftop, landing in a bruised heap, a weak groan escaping her throat at the impact. But before the stunned Jupiter had a chance to even think about the damage her body had just endured, Iason once again heaved on the near invisible wires weaved around her now blood drenched ankle, swinging her in a circle along the rooftop of the observatory before once again sending her airborne. However, as Sailor Jupiter braced herself for another bone-jarring collision with an unforgiving girder, her flight path suddenly stopped moving towards the tower's support and instead flew outwards as Iason let the threads from his fingertips detach, allowing her to sail straight out and away from the observatory, on an impending course out to open air followed by a one hundred and fifty metre drop to the ground below. Fraught with the knowledge that her death was assured if she didn't do something that very instant, Jupiter desperately reached out for a girder as she sailed by one of the main supports of Tokyo Tower. Her fingertips just brushed by one, and then another, before she got a secure hold on some steel with one hand, the immense strength it took to retain her grip causing the muscles in her arm to stand out in thick cords. The sudden halt in Jupiter's flight wrenched her arm brutally out of her socket with a loud popping sound, making the brunette lose her hold as a searing pain erupted from her shoulder and radiated out to the rest of her body. But her labours were enough. Sailor Jupiter fell like a stone back down to the rooftop, plunging about ten metres before hitting the solid metal platform face first. It was better than dropping fifteen times as much, but at that moment Jupiter thought that was debatable.

A low barely contained groan of suffering came from between Jupiter's tightly clenched teeth as she struggled to her knees, her dislocated arm weeping torment, dulling the pain of her other bruises and cuts from the beating she had received. Before she could think about her decision too much, the tall girl rammed her left shoulder against the metal rooftop, forcibly shoving her arm back into place with a audible crick, converting the sharp, constant, painful sensation to a dull, constant, throbbing one at the cost of an instant of mind numbing agony. Sweat dripped from her brow to the rooftop, and then rolled down her face as she looked up at Iason, in time to see the ice-cold youma direct a cool and disgusted look at her.

"Get up," the youma demanded callously. "It would be a poor end to our rematch if you were to die now. Perhaps some incentive is in order." Iason then brought up one arm in preparation to no doubt use the wires sprouting from his fingertips as whips to lash Jupiter across the back and urge her to her feet by force.

Sailor Jupiter reacted instantly, bursting into motion as Iason's weapons came down at her in unerring strokes, the brunette only just evading a quadruple blow that would have ripped her back asunder. She sprinted across from her youma opponent in a strafing run as the fine wires the creature wielded with such skill turned after her, each thread seemingly with a will of its own; a will that wanted her dead. Jupiter dived forwards and rolled over her shoulder, grunting as the injured joint flared up with heightened pain. She then skidded to a halt in a crouch, her feet sliding along the rooftop as she swivelled around to face Iason, letting the chasing wires shoot over her head.


Sailor Jupiter hurled her attack at Iason, roaring out the command words and catching the creature off guard. He recklessly darted to one side as the globe of energy popped and crackled past him, the stray currents of electricity that flowed around it sparking on parts of his body and making him jerk involuntarily, his proximity only a hair's breadth away from the sphere. Iason quickly returned his attention to Jupiter after his close call, only to see the tall girl charging straight towards him, her expression a picture of anger and true grit as her long stride ate up the distance between them in a matter of seconds.

With a wordless shout, Sailor Jupiter smashed her good shoulder into Iason's chest with incredible power, forcing the creature to violently expel all the air from his lungs. Both youma and senshi fell hard in a jumble of limbs on the rooftop of the observatory, the pair frantically wrestling for superiority. Jupiter hammered her elbow into Iason's head in a series of hits, seeking to weaken his grip on her and maybe lull him with predictable attacks as they grappled against one another, the two rolling around wildly. Iason angled his head away from Sailor Jupiter, down and to one side in anticipation of another blow, but at the moment he thought she was about to deliver another strike from her elbow, she instead punched him clean in the face, the force of the bone-breaking impact enough to send the youma flying off of the girl in a fountain of yellow blood. Iason landed flat on his back, his nose crushed beyond all recognition and gushing all sorts of repulsive fluids profusely. He shook his head and spat out the blood that had flowed into his mouth, stopping himself from choking on the viscous liquid.

While Iason was coughing and spluttering on his own blood, Sailor Jupiter took advantage of his prone condition and leapt on him, letting her knees lead and driving them into his stomach as she landed. The youma's body jolted upwards at the painful contact, his head and shoulders lifting off the rooftop, only for the creature to be instantly punched straight in the face and forced back down by one of Jupiter's rock solid fists. Sailor Jupiter kept up her punishment, bludgeoning Iason with a repeated right then left combination of punches about his head, relentlessly thrashing him until his face was a ruined mess of thick yellow fluid.

Jupiter stopped her beating, panting hard with exertion and her fists drenched in stinking putrid blood, to look down at her handiwork. Iason was unmoving underneath her, the youma not at all recognisable with the rearrangement of his face courtesy of one angry Sailor Senshi. Thinking her work was done, the tall girl shifted her weight on top of Iason, about to get up, when the creature's feet were suddenly planted violently against her chest, kicking her off of his body to tumble end over end across the rooftop before sliding to a halt on her stomach.

Iason stood up as Jupiter quickly did likewise, the youma's now even ghastlier visage dripping yellow droplets of liquid all over his chest. The creature whipped the wires growing from his fingertips and spoke to the senshi in a mangled, garbled voice that Jupiter assumed to be some sort of threat or insult, his speech clearly impaired by the damage his head and face had sustained.

"Yeah, you too," Sailor Jupiter spat back, balling her fists so tightly the knuckles cracked.

An appalling wail came from Iason, and then he bolted forwards at Jupiter, striking out with his razor-sharp monofilament weapons with wild abandon, and yet at the same time, deadly proficiency. Sailor Jupiter desperately willed her somewhat lanky body to dodge each slashing thread, but she simply wasn't built for such precise and lightning quick manoeuvres. Cuts broke out with alarming speed and frequency all over the girl's body, tearing rips in her fuku and staining the clothing with her blood. Jupiter found herself being pushed into a retreat back to a nearby support of Tokyo Tower under the hail of lashes, her forearms becoming a bloody mess as she abandoned dodging and focused on simply blocking the oncoming blows, prepared to pay the price for her choice in flesh, blood, and pain.

Sailor Jupiter ducked as Iason's thin weapons nearly tore through her skull from above, but instead became tangled around a steel girder, saving the girl from a nasty demise. Her youma adversary raised his other, free, arm to continue his assault, when a loud thrashing sound became apparent skyward, making both combatants pause in their fight. Jupiter looked up and to her disbelief and rapidly rising panic, she saw what looked like a helicopter heading straight for them, practically falling out of the sky and obviously out of control if the hordes of riotous winged youma hanging on to it were any indication, the noise of its spinning rotor blades becoming deafening and adding to the strength of the already buffeting winds. Droves of youma ran for their lives as the helicopter crash-landed on the roof of Tokyo Tower's main observatory, killing scores, before it tipped over, squashing numerous unfortunate hangers-on to a grisly paste beneath it. The whirling primary rotor blades of the toppled helicopter snapped off as they collided with the harder rooftop of the observatory, all four flying outwards into the crowds and massacring innumerable bystanders, while the vehicle itself rampaged across the rooftop, the momentum from its descent causing it to tear along, crushing a myriad of fleeing youma and continuing on its kamikaze course towards Jupiter and Iason. Sailor Jupiter prayed none of her friends had joined the youma in their gruesome ends.


Before Jupiter knew what was happening, something blue accompanied by a whooshing sound struck Iason in his outstretched left arm, solid ice breaking out all over it and travelling along to his shoulder, encasing the limb completely. More ice formed over the monster's fingers and subsequently down to the clear wires sprouting from them, freezing the sharp fibres to the girder they were wrapped around and effectively fastening the youma to part of Tokyo Tower.

"Makoto! Get away from there!!" Sailor Mercury yelled from inside a pack off swarming youma, all of the creatures frantically trying to distance themselves from the helicopter's final destination, some even barging past the blue-haired girl, not noticing that she was in fact the enemy.

Sailor Jupiter glanced at the fast approaching helicopter, some crazy youma still riding its battered structure even now, before she sprinted directly away from the orange and white support it was careering for, throwing off Iason's hand and leaving a shred of her fuku behind as he tried to hold on to her, his other hand trapped in ice and stuck to an unyielding steel girder. Jupiter ran like the legions of Hell were on her tail, abandoning Iason to his fate while the youma beat at his frozen and ensnared arm with the wires attached to the fingertips of his free hand, causing shards of ice to fly all about him in his frenzied attempt to liberate himself. But it was far too late for him. Jupiter hurled herself recklessly forwards, not thinking about where she was heading as long as it was as far away as possible, as the helicopter smashed into the arrangement of criss-crossing girders, sandwiching the doomed Iason, and then exploded in a tremendous blast, the senshi's ears actually hurting from the resulting booming noise and also feeling the heat of the conflagration on her back, part of her fuku even bursting alight.

"Makoto! Makoto are you alright?!"

Sailor Jupiter started awake at the sound of Sailor Mercury's very concerned voice, the Senshi of Water anxiously patting out the last of the small fires on her lover's fuku as she looked at her face for any response.

"Uhh, yeah, I think so…" Jupiter said unsurely as she touched the side of her sore head with one hand, feeling wetness there. The force of the explosion must have knocked her out briefly, and thankfully blown her clear of the worst of the blast. She glanced around her surroundings quickly, getting her bearings. The brunette saw the now blazing and gutted helicopter crushed against a support of Tokyo Tower, the support she had just fled from moments earlier. Only the chassis of the helicopter remained, the skeleton being consumed by hot flames that spewed black smoke high into the air, the cloud blown around by the fierce winds. Of Iason, there was no sign. Sailor Jupiter spared a moment to offer a silent prayer for the departed souls of the unlucky pilot and other occupants of the helicopter, and then turned her attention to Sailor Mercury. She looked up at her girlfriend with a questioning gaze, silently asking the girl why she had left the safety of numbers with Sailor Moon and the others just to fight her way through a horde of youma and attack Iason.

"He hurt you too; the one I love," Mercury explained quietly, gazing intently into Jupiter's green eyes, implicitly understanding the brunette's silent question and her reasons for charging determinedly after Iason. "Like you, that's something I can't forgive or ignore."

Sailor Jupiter smiled ruefully at her love, and then climbed to her feet with some help from the shorter girl. Looking around the area, Jupiter saw that the youma had vacated the vicinity near the destroyed helicopter, giving her and Mercury a temporary respite from all the fighting. It would only be a matter of time before they slithered back to Jupiter and her girlfriend's location. Sailor Jupiter looked up at the dark red rip in the sky over at the other side of the observatory's rooftop.

"Hey, is it just me or has that thing gotten bigger?" Jupiter said worriedly as she looked up at the now large oval portal surrounded by an even larger maelstrom of multicoloured jagged, flashing, lightning bolts.

"It's not just you," Sailor Mercury informed her as she too directed her gaze to the youma gateway. "I haven't had a chance to analyse it with my mini super computer for obvious reasons, but its dimensions have grown, letting more than just a trickle of youma through to replace the casualties we inflict on their ranks. If we hope to win this conflict, we have to find a way to disable that portal."

"Any ideas?" Sailor Jupiter said in a hopeful tone, looking expectantly at the genius.

Mercury looked up at the brunette, her face solemn. "Not presently," she said gravely, not something Jupiter had wanted to hear.

Sailor Jupiter opened her mouth to pose a few ideas of her own to her blue-haired love, when she noticed that some of the youma host had started to come back to the area, all of the abominations scowling at the pair, assuring death with their eyes. Jupiter looked at Mercury at the same time her lover did likewise, and then both moved into a ready stance with resolute expressions on their faces, preparing themselves to enter the fray once again.




"Ah, geez, what the hell?!" Sanjuro exclaimed as a monstrous boom rocked the elevator he and Tsubasa were hiding in, making the lights flicker on and off with static hums. Tsubasa wasn't sure, but he thought that he had felt the entire tower shake right down to its very foundations.

"It came from up above," Tsubasa said thoughtfully, looking up at the ceiling of the elevator as the fluorescent lights stopped their flashing and remained on, the loud boom having subsided.

"Oh great, there's probably hundreds of youma running amok up there too," Sanjuro lamented, squeezing himself into a protective ball while he clutched his camera tightly like a security blanket. "There's no escape, they're all over the place! We're finished I tell you! Finished! Oh, what a tragedy for a great reporter like me to be cut down in his prime. It's unfair! I can't believe this is…"

Tsubasa tuned out the rest of Sanjuro's less then courageous whimpers and returned his attention to the impossible fight underway a short distance outside the elevator, where the two Sailor Senshi the ex-reporter had earlier identified as Neptune and Venus were currently clashing against an overwhelming force of youma. It was clear to even someone like Tsubasa that the battle was not going in the Sailors' favour. Both the blonde girl and the aquamarine-haired woman were sporting numerous bloody injuries; their once crisp and clean uniforms now tattered and stained to something hardly identifiable. Tsubasa thought that the wounds the pair had received would have been enough to drop anybody, and yet they still fought on regardless, blasting the evil monsters surrounding them with an amazing display of attacks, holding the murderous horde back from following after Sailor Mars and the others. However, despite his fervent hopes that Sailor Venus and Sailor Neptune would somehow prevail and defeat all of their foes, realistically Tsubasa knew that it was only a matter of time before one of them fell. And when that happened, the surviving senshi was sure to be beset by an unstoppable pack of youma in a heartbeat. Plus there was also the youma back on the ground floor of Tokyo Tower to deal with, who were probably all charging up the stairs at that very moment, since Tsubasa had had the foresight to keep all the elevators on the main observatory level with a few well-placed trashcans, denying their use to the creatures and forcing them to take the long way up. When those reinforcements arrived, it would definitely be enough to spell the end for Neptune and Venus. And not to mention Sanjuro and himself. Damn it, where the hell was Mars?

"Sanjuro, I don't think we can stay here any longer," Tsubasa said gravely, turning to his quivering companion with serious eyes. "It won't be safe." As much as he would have liked to help Sailor Venus and Sailor Neptune, he knew it would be futile. He was only a man, a normal human being; he would only get in their way and most likely cause their deaths to occur even sooner than expected. Using a car as a weapon was entirely different than using your own body. Maybe Tsubasa could find Mars or another senshi to come and help Venus and Neptune before it was too late.

"'It won't be safe'?" Sanjuro parroted, looking up at Tsubasa incredulously. "No *shit*, you moron! It already isn't safe! The whole freakin' *tower* isn't safe!!"

"I think we should follow after Rei and her friends," Tsubasa went on, ignoring the spiky-haired man's outburst. "Going back downstairs is no good, and if we leave here and try to find the other Sailor Senshi, maybe then Sailor Venus and Sailor Neptune can fall back to where they are… wherever that is."

"No way!" Sanjuro wailed, his eyes full of terror. "I'm staying right here, it's those two Sailors' jobs to protect us! Besides, you heard that explosion from the roof, going up there is suicide! Who knows what's happening there!"

Tsubasa let out a frustrated growl and bent down and grabbed the cowardly Sanjuro with both hands, roughly hoisting the surprised man to his feet. "Get it together!" he yelled in his face, shaking him for added affect. "If we stay here, we are all going to die, the two Sailor Senshi included! And I don't want that to happen, do you?! For *once*, think of someone other than yourself! Now come on!" And with that, Tsubasa forcibly removed Sanjuro from the elevator, running as fast as he could while dragging a rather stunned ex-reporter to the maintenance ladder Sailor Mars and the others had climbed up.

Tsubasa forced Sanjuro up the ladder first, wanting to make sure the man didn't flee back to the elevator as soon as he let go of him. He spared a glance back to Venus and Neptune, the girl and woman both hard to make out through all the bodies of vanquished youma piling up on the floor, and through the bodies of the live and still furiously fighting ones. Tsubasa hoped that with him and Sanjuro retreating, the two senshi could follow suit. He wanted to call out to them, to inform them that they could fall back, but he didn't want to attract the attention of the youma towards himself and Sanjuro. And so, his hopes and prayers with Sailor Neptune and Sailor Venus, Tsubasa clambered up the maintenance ladder after Sanjuro as discreetly as he could.

"Dude! This place is even worse than back down there!" Sanjuro howled in dismay and barely controlled terror as Tsubasa pulled himself up on to the rooftop of the main observatory.

Tsubasa stood up quickly and hurriedly surveyed his new surroundings. The place *was* worse; it was like all hell had broken loose. A huge plumb of smoke was billowing up from the other side of the observatory while the ravaged carcasses of decaying youma liberally littered the metal platform, hardly an inch unadorned by a cadaver or by the stain of some horrible bodily fluid. However, there were still more than enough youma up and about, and even more pouring through the gigantic red opening in the sky that appeared to lead to some desert. A desert filled with yet more scores of youma.

"God, I'm going back!" Sanjuro announced, turning around at the sight of so many evil monsters. Tsubasa quickly grabbed his companion's arm, preventing him from making any rash decisions. While there was an abundant number of youma about, most had their backs to them, instead focused on something else. Tsubasa noticed no corpses of any Sailor Senshi mixed with the youma ones fortunately, so he assumed that what had the creatures' attention so captivated was Mars or one of her comrades. However, there were some youma in their general vicinity. But also, there was one senshi in it too.

Both Tsubasa and an equally rapt Sanjuro watched in silence with wide eyes as the youngest Sailor Senshi they had seen, the darkhaired girl who wielded a long pole weapon with a curved blade attached to one end, was busy summarily executing a small group of youma with almost detached interest, her face a cold mask of apathy as she went about her gruesome task.

"Whoa… I just knew she'd be cool in a fight…" Sanjuro murmured as he observed the disturbing spectacle with macabre fascination. "When one of the Sailor Senshi carries a weapon, that's when you know they have mad skills." He then blinked as a thought came to him. "I gotta take photos of this!" Sanjuro declared, fumbling for his camera around his neck, his dreams of being a star reporter overriding his fear of the situation he and Tsubasa were in.

The young senshi who Tsubasa remembered from the elevator as Sailor Saturn, swung her weapon smoothly as she spun around on the last youma standing nearby, hacking off its bulbous head in one clean slice, the decapitated corpse toppling over to land next to its equally maimed fellows. The girl casually watched the slain youma's head roll along the rooftop and come to a stop at the feet of a new arrival on the scene. Tsubasa saw that out of one of the crowds of occupied monsters, a tall shadowy figure had appeared. The figure was swathed utterly in a pitch black that hid his features, and judging by his build was evidently male. In one hand the dark man brandished what looked like a shadow of a slender sword, and Tsubasa just knew that the figure could use it with lethal expertise.

"Oh wow, this ought to be good," Sanjuro mumbled absently to himself, snapping pictures with his camera like crazy of Saturn and the shade as the pair wordlessly sized one another up.

The darkhaired girl gauged her new opponent with cool indifference, her violet eyes frosty, while the shadow did the same, his body language suggesting that he didn't find the Sailor Senshi much of a threat. Then, to Tsubasa's surprise, the tall figure spoke.

"You. I remember you," he murmured, his head slightly tilting with curiosity to one side. "I see then that the Sailor Senshi do indeed recruit their members at a young age," the shadow continued, snorting. He brought up his sword with both hands in front of him, ready. "But a child, you are. But it is your life to waste. This will be over quickly. Come, face your destruction."

Seeming unintimidated by the shade's words, Sailor Saturn levelled her pole weapon at her adversary, her emotionless features almost making her appear bored with what was happening. "I *am* destruction," she whispered back to her foe, her grip tightening on her bladed staff.

Moving with an unnatural speed that made it difficult for Tsubasa to track her movements, the young Sailor Senshi abruptly darted towards the shadow, delivering a diagonal chop at him with her weapon as she got within range. However, the dark figure reacted immediately, his blade flashing up in a black blur to deflect Saturn's attack and redirect it away from his body. As the two weapons connected, a bright shower of sparks exploded outwards from the contact, and to Tsubasa's shock, the darkness enveloping the tall figure suddenly vanished, revealing instead some sort of richly dressed man with long grey hair. Tsubasa swallowed nervously and felt a bubble of fear rise up in his stomach as he saw that the man's face disturbingly kept changing every second to something different, a never-ending slideshow of masks.

Sanjuro let out a squeal of joy as the Sailor Saturn and her adversary threw themselves at one another, both bursting into a hurricane of motion as they ducked and weaved fluidly in between each other's attacks with amazing agility, contorting their bodies at incredible angles. And when evasion wasn't enough, a deluge of sparks accompanied by a sharp crackle erupted every time the two warriors' potent weapons met, pinpricks of twinkling light cascading down to the rooftop as they were used to repel an imminent blow.

"This is great!" Sanjuro declared elatedly as he continued to take photos, sounding not at all concerned about the outcome of the fight taking place before him. But unlike the self-centred ex-reporter, Tsubasa *was* concerned. The young darkhaired girl handled herself like a competent fighter, at least to Tsubasa, but despite that, if he studied Sailor Saturn carefully, he could see that her movements were becoming just a bit slower with every swing of her weapon, the strain of the battle showing just a bit more on her face with every deflected strike. Tsubasa remembered that Saturn had appeared pretty tired before during the elevator ride up to the main observatory level, and he surmised that the girl was in no better condition, if not a worse one. He hoped that her strength would hold out long enough for her to emerge victorious over her black-cloaked enemy.

Tsubasa's hopes were ripped brutally apart and he gasped in horror as the grey-haired man's sword suddenly shattered Sailor Saturn's defensives, the shadowy figure first executing a lunging feign to the girl's midsection, distracting her momentarily, and then abruptly cutting upwards, locking the spiky hilt of his blade with the shaft of her weapon before twisting his sword viciously outwards to the side, causing the senshi's bladed staff to fly out of her grasp. Saturn's violet eyes showed the first glimmer of fear during the entire duel as her weapon landed amongst the dead bodies of youma killed by her hand, the senshi's indifferent mask exhibiting signs of faltering.

"DIE, SENSHI!" the black-swathed figure screamed, bringing back his wicked sword, preparing to cut the disarmed Saturn down like a stalk of corn.

A half-courageous, half-terrified, howl came from Tsubasa's throat as his legs suddenly propelled him unbidden in between the two combatants, his body on a certain intercept course with the oncoming black blade while he grabbed the frozen Saturn as he sailed by. The evil man's sword tore down Sailor Saturn's chest, eliciting a heart-wrenching cry from the girl, accompanied by a spray of blood that splattered all over Tsubasa. However, the blade then sliced into the diving man's shoulder and partly down his back, taking the edge off the lethal finishing attack. Both Sailor Saturn and Tsubasa landed heavily on the ground a couple of feet from their assailant, the would-be hero in a state of immense shock at his actions. And at how extremely painful it was to have a sword rake down his back.

"No! No, not yet! NOT YET!!" Saturn screamed half-hysterically from underneath Tsubasa, tears forming in her eyes as she writhed in pain, clutching at her deep slash wound in her chest. A torrent of blood was jetting out of the cut with alarming volume, a large red circle spreading over the girl's fuku in a matter of seconds. Tsubasa knew his back must be in no better condition if the incredible agony radiating from the area was any indication, but somehow he managed to keep his head about him and not simply shriek uncontrollably in torment.

Tsubasa looked over his shoulder as he suddenly remembered the being responsible for his and Saturn's injuries, and saw that the malevolent man's now spider-like visage was smirking at them, observing their torture with malicious pleasure. He then reversed the grip on his sword and stepped up to the prone Tsubasa and Sailor Saturn, holding the point of his bloodstained blade above them, intending to skewer both their bodies together in a sort of ghastly kebab. Tsubasa opened his mouth to say something, maybe to beg the evil man for mercy and protest the impending stab, or maybe to spit out some final defiant insult, but instead only a weak croak escaped his lips. Not the inspiring and profound last words he would have liked.

Tsubasa's soon-to-be murderer raised his sword up higher, about to send both him and Saturn to the afterlife, when without warning something struck the cruel grey-haired man in the back of the head, temporarily delaying the fatal strike. Tsubasa felt hope rising up inside of him as he suspected Sailor Mars had finally come to rescue him, but then frowned when he saw that a broken camera was lying near him on the rooftop, its film spilling out in the harsh lights of Tokyo Tower, ruining it. No… it couldn't be.

"Mars!" the dark cloaked man snarled out under his breath as he whirled around to the source of the projectile, his now three reptilian eyes blazing hate at the audacity of the attack. However, his eyes then showed confusion as he realised its true origin, while Tsubasa's showed complete astonishment.

"Were you expecting somebody else?" Sanjuro said sarcastically from where he stood a short distance away, but with a slight quaver in his voice. "It's just me baby, just me."

"Who in all the planes are *you?*" Tsubasa's incredulous attacker spat, punctuating his words by stabbing the tip of his sword in Sanjuro's direction.

Sanjuro tilted his head to the side mockingly, smiling condescendingly. "I'm just an average guy in a not-so-average situation. But who I am isn't really important," he said conversationally, seeming quite calm as he stood down the sword-wielding man. "But look at you," the ex-reporter went on, gesturing at the shadowy figure with a hand for added emphasis. "*Real* bad ass, picking on little girls who only have big… sharp… stick things," he said, stumbling a little over the last part as he glanced over at Sailor Saturn's lethal lost weapon. "Erm… but that's not the point! The point is, um…" Sanjuro's little speech petered out as the tall man in front of him started to walk towards him with dreaded purpose, his blade held tightly in one hand menacingly. Sanjuro began stepping nervously backwards as Tsubasa's assailant came closer, the spiky-haired man stumbling a bit over the bodies of rotting youma while both his hands were held in front of him in a pleading fashion. "Can't we talk about this?" the ex-reporter whimpered. The dark figure's sword flashed in a blur, and then suddenly Sanjuro was flat on his back on the rooftop close to Sailor Saturn and Tsubasa, bleeding badly from a diagonal slash down his torso.

"Sanjuro!" Tsubasa yelled, finally finding his voice at the sight of his travel companion being struck down like he was nothing. "What the hell were you thinking?!"

Sanjuro coughed weakly, his head lolling to Tsubasa, glassy eyed while his hands shook slightly. "Well…" he said hoarsely, pausing as he swallowed with some difficulty, "…the call of a hero beckoned… and I just had to except the charges…" The ex-reporter coughed again, his face now pale. "Oh god, that's good stuff… remember what I said, man, 'cause I think I'm gonna pass out…" And with that, Sanjuro closed his eyes, his body becoming slack on the cold metal rooftop of the observatory.

The grey-haired man laughed sadistically as Sanjuro became still, whipping his sword sharply in the air to clean some of the blood coating it off the blade. "You bastard!" Tsubasa shouted angrily at the callous thing, the pain from his back serving to fuel his anger rather than put a damper on it. He spared a glance at Saturn beneath him, only now becoming aware that the defeated girl had been silent for a while, and saw she too had also become limp, her small frail and torn body making her appear very vulnerable, not at all like the warrior Tsubasa had seen before.

"Do not despair, you will be next," the sword totting man sneered, his now feline features making his cold smile all the more sinister.

"Oni…" a threatening hiss said from behind Tsubasa, making him force his rather drowsy head around to its source. "I wouldn't count on that, oni..."

To Tsubasa's great relief, Sailor Mars was standing where once a pack of youma had been, the creatures now a blackened heap of barbecued flesh. The Fire Senshi let the charred and lifeless youma she held up in one of her hands drop to join its similarly cooked fellows as she strode towards the grey-haired man, tendrils of smoke wafting from its empty eye sockets and mouth, its maw open in a final, silent, perpetual death scream.

"Rei…" Tsubasa whispered at the glorious and very welcome sight, exhaling heavily.

"Oni… you couldn't hide from me forever. Now why don't you leave these people alone," Sailor Mars said in a sinister tone as she approached, her once beautiful lavender eyes now dark pools in demonic slits, burning with the promise of pain and torment to all whom challenge her. Her malevolent gaze never wavered in the slightest from what Tsubasa knew now was a demon, the raven-haired girl not even bothering to glance at the fowl creature's three seriously injured victims laying close by.

An evil grin began to grow on the sword-wielding man's cycling features as he turned to Mars, seeming pleased with the latest developments. "I'm glad you found me. I would much rather be fighting you anyway," he said.

Sailor Mars stopped walking, and then flicked her eyes at something over the demon's shoulder, before quickly refocusing her gaze on the creature. "You want me? Then come and get me!" she yelled, before bolting directly away from Tsubasa, Sanjuro, and Saturn.

The demon's grin widened, and then he raced after Mars, chasing the miko. Tsubasa squinted as he tried to make out where exactly Sailor Mars was leading the cruel creature, his vision starting to become dark and blurry. He knew what the raven-haired girl was doing however; she was leading the demon away from him and the others, saving them from certain death on the end of a sword. Still, while he watched the red and white shape disappear from his sight as consciousness left him, Tsubasa wished that Sailor Mars could have remained with him for a while. He had a bad feeling that this was the last time he would ever see her again.


Sailor Mars leapt over the decomposing mounds of dead youma scattered all over the rooftop, being careful not to lose her footing and give her pursuer time to close the gap between them, as she sprinted flat out for the top of the maintenance ladder that lead back to the observatory's interior, her heart beating hard in her ears. She hated to desert Sailor Saturn, Tsubasa, and Sanjuro when they were all clearly in need of immediate medical attention, but she had no choice when such a formidable enemy was present. Directing Makareus away from the trio was the next best thing she could do. Apart from exterminating the demon, that is. However, the Fire Senshi didn't want to engage him in battle while three severely wounded people were lying defenceless in the vicinity. Stupid Tsubasa and Sanjuro; why did they leave the safety of an elevator guarded by Sailor Venus and Sailor Neptune to instead enter the killing fields anyway? It served them right getting hurt. The two men had just better not die before Mars had a chance to chew them out. And to tell them, and Sailor Saturn, that she had gotten bloody revenge against Makareus on their behalf. The demon had tried to kill her friends, and not to mention Sailor Moon, the love of her immortal life, and he had also no doubt given the order to butcher all those innocent people at Juuban High School. There could be no forgiveness and there would be no mercy; Makareus was going to burn in the hot fires of righteous retribution, dished out by Sailor Mars' hands. The Senshi of Fire would teach him that no being that did evil could escape justice, regardless if they were human or demon.

As Mars' fast pumping legs brought her nearer the maintenance ladder, the reason Tsubasa and Sanjuro had vacated the elevator became apparent. Sailor Venus' blonde head appeared through the maintenance opening in the observatory rooftop, the Senshi of Love's face caked with blood and grime, and then she proceeded to hurriedly struggle up onto the orange painted platform, revealing a body that had seen better days. Once she had scrambled onto the rooftop on her knees, the girl then quickly turned back to the maintenance ladder opening and reached down through it with one hand, helping an equally battle weary Sailor Neptune climb up to the top of the main observatory. Both Sailor Senshi then clambered quickly to their feet and bolted from the maintenance opening, their pace and the strain present on their faces a testament to how desperate they were to get away from there as fast as possible. A split second later, countless youma began cramming their warped forms through the opening in the rooftop, howling and shrieking ferocious battle cries as their lust for the escaping Neptune and Venus' blood and subsequent deaths drove them all over the edge. It seemed to Sailor Mars that the youma in the observatory had overwhelmed the two senshi and drove them into a rout. No wonder Sanjuro and Tsubasa had opted to risk the danger of the observatory's rooftop; to stay would have been to die.

While Sailor Venus and Sailor Neptune had chosen to flee from the frenzied horde, Sailor Mars continued in her run straight for them, not even breaking her stride for an instant. She charged steadfastly towards the youma as some finally managed to squeeze through the small opening in the rooftop, ruthlessly beating back their comrades for supremacy and then fervently scanning their new surroundings for their runaway prey. However, the first thing they saw instead was a stampeding Mars with their commander hot on her heels, the sight and the expression on the fiery girl's face more than enough to freeze the vanguard youma in fear, their bloodlust suddenly forsaking them. Sailor Mars was more than willing to take advantage of their temporary paralysis.


Mars drew her blazing bow and fired an equally flaming arrow at the forefront creatures' feet, her rapid movement not hampering her aim in the slightest. The arrow head ripped into the observatory rooftop by the maintenance opening and then detonated, blowing a gigantic hole haloed by ragged metal edges to the observatory's interior and killing half a dozen youma in the process.


The Senshi of Fire launched a second arrow from her bow, this time directed for the hole she had created, knowing that she had just made it easier for more youma reinforcements to reach and consequently aid their allies on the rooftop. Before the surviving stunned creatures in the main observatory could recover from the sudden chaos from above, a fiery arrow smashed into their number and exploded, engulfing scores in a blistering inferno, dooming them to suffer the fate and agony of being burned alive.

The way now relatively clear, Sailor Mars spared a glance over her shoulder to check if Makareus was still following her, and then intrepidly jumped into the hole, landing on a pile of dead and dying youma, some still on fire. Ignoring the searing lick of her own flames from the burning bodies, she then proceeded to clamber over the casualties caused by her hand before forcing a path through the rest of the youma towards an open elevator, the creatures all milling about in confusion as to what was happening and allowing the miko to pass by unchallenged. Once Sailor Mars had reached the elevator she and her friends had travelled in before, she turned around to the anarchic interior of the main observatory, and saw that Makareus was presently pitilessly cutting a course through his own youma followers as if they were simply troublesome foliage, his fervour and ruthlessness in wielding his blade against his own troops a declaration of his impatience to catch the Fire Senshi.

Sailor Mars waited until Makareus had almost reached the elevators, and then kicked the trashcan that was blocking the double doors away, allowing them to close. She then hurriedly hit the button for the special observatory level, hearing a screech of metal on metal as her demon pursuer no doubt hacked at the elevator doors with his katana. However, the elevator then began its ascent and the noise suddenly ceased, much to the Fire Senshi's relief. Mars looked out the cracked window of the elevator as she noticed another elevator travelling upwards as well, only a short distance below her own. She fearlessly met Makareus' malevolent set of eyes through the window's web of fractures as the demon stood in the middle of the other elevator, the despicable creature glaring back at her with an equally unwavering and challenging gaze. Sailor Mars cracked her knuckles, not breaking Makareus' glare, and mentally prepared herself for the fight to come during the short reprieve of the elevator ride. It would be a one-on-one battle she was sure; by now any youma on the special observatory level must have come down to the main level to help their comrades. There would be no other Sailor Senshi coming to her aid either; Mars doubted that any of them even knew where she had run off. It was probably better that way though; Makareus had taken down Sailor Saturn, a powerful, if not the most powerful, senshi there was. The demon was highly dangerous; it was best if Sailor Mars faced him alone. She was a miko; a cold and calculating abomination that preyed on human life like Makareus was everything she hated and more. Demons of pure animalistic temperaments, of pure violence, hell bent on mindless carnage were one thing, but maliciously intelligent demons who acted as puppeteers, pulling strings and manipulating people for their own dark purposes while hiding in the shadows were a whole different story. It was easy to understand what drives a ferocious beast, but to understand what drives a cunning and heartless murderer was not. Perhaps it was because those types of demons could be so similar to humans.

Sailor Mars' eyes narrowed even more as she glared at Makareus. Besides, this was personal. The bastard had tried to kill Sailor Moon. She didn't want to think about it, but he may have even killed Sailor Saturn, Tsubasa, and Sanjuro. The Fire Senshi supposed it didn't matter whom or what Makareus was, even if he had been human; she still would have gone after him and made him pay.

There was a ding sound and the elevator doors opening, jarring Sailor Mars out of her dark thoughts. She broke her gaze with Makareus and strode out of the elevator resolutely, and then turned on her heel, facing the direction where the demon would emerge out of his own elevator. While she waited for him to arrive, Mars quickly took stock of the environment she would soon be fighting in. The lightless special observatory of Tokyo Tower was a lot higher than the main observatory, maybe by about hundred metres, and gave an even spectacular view of the city. It was also designed much like the one below it, albeit in smaller dimensions. However, it seemed that the special observatory was undergoing some sort of new construction or maintenance if the tools and materials lying about were any indication; that meant it must have been closed to the public right now.

The noise of another ding brought Sailor Mars' attention back to Makareus' elevator as the doors opened and the darkly dressed demon stepped out, his sword still held in one hand. "At last you cease your infernal flight from me. It is understandable however. In the end, all my opponents flee in terror," he said condescendingly, shrugging his shoulders slightly. The demon then took a moment to look around his surroundings. "So this is where you have chosen to make your final stand," Makareus remarked thoughtfully.

"I like a view," Sailor Mars responded sarcastically, though neither her features nor her tone showed any trace of humour. She was tired of bantering. There was nothing she had to say to the demon. The Senshi of Fire was simply going to put an end to his existence.

"Indeed," Makareus said, bringing up his sword in front of him in both his black-gloved hands, as if sensing Mars' mood. "Now, let us see if *I* can get Death to touch you!"

Makareus let out a furious roar and lunged at Sailor Mars, bringing down his blade in a downward stroke, attempting to cleave the girl in twain. The Fire Senshi reacted instantly, darting backwards, but not before the extremely sharp weapon grazed her shoulder, slicing a shallow furrow in her flesh. The demon followed up his opening attack immediately afterwards, hacking diagonally upwards with his katana as Mars hastily retreated, barely avoiding being eviscerated. Sailor Mars ducked as a swipe was made at her head, and then quickly scurried past Makareus, delivering a low punch to the creature's stomach as she did so. Makareus showed no signs if the blow had done any damage however, his only reaction to swiftly whirl around with his sword leading the way, tracking his opponent with amazing speed. Mars screamed as she felt the demon's black blade carve into in her back, the force and the resulting agony of the strike causing her to stumble. She turned her stumble into a roll despite the pain that was emanating from her back however, rolling across the floor before ending up standing upright, leaving a red streak in her trail.


A fireball immediately burst forth from her fingertips as she regained her footing, the hot sphere of flaming death sailing unerringly towards Makareus. However, as the ball was just about to collide with the demon, he slashed at it with his katana, and to Mars' shock, cleanly split it in two. The two halves of the fireball flew past either side of Makareus harmlessly, one ending up striking a wall and exploding, setting it aflame, while the other crashed into one of the observatory's windows, shattering all the glass and blowing it out to rain down to the ground below.

"You like fire?" Makareus sneered, and then with one hand, dragged the tip of his katana along the floor, bringing up a fountain of sparks in its wake. As an alarmed Sailor Mars watched on, blue flames suddenly took the place of the sparks, spouting out seemingly straight from the floor. "YOKUOKITAHI TACHI APPAAKATTO SHUHOU!" Makareus completed his attack by drawing his katana upwards from the floor in a slicing uppercut, propelling an arc of azure fire for Sailor Mars.

A stray thought to fight fire with fire crossed Mars' mind as the arc of blue fire travelled at a high velocity her way, but instead the raven-haired girl dived desperately to one side, pulling in her legs at the last second to narrowly prevent them being cooked, the sheer heat of the attack being felt on the soles of her feet. The arc journeyed on to collide with another window of the observatory, the flames of the moulded fire spreading out all along the glass at the impact before snuffing abruptly out, leaving it intact.

Meanwhile, Sailor Mars had already sprung to her feet and rushed straight for Makareus, taking advantage of his lowered defensives. She leapt into the air and swung around, executing a spinning flying kick at the demon's exposed midsection. There was a dull thud as the Fire Senshi's foot came into contact with something hard instead, and to the girl's surprise, she saw that the grey-haired demon had used his free hand to slide up his sword's sheath from his belt, letting it take the impact of her blow. Makareus countered Sailor Mars' failed attack with a spinning kick of his own, smashing a booted foot into the side of her head as she landed on the floor, and then smoothly following the hit by pulling his katana's hard wooden sheath completely free of his belt and whacking it again on the same spot on her head, all in one fluid turning motion. Mars staggered around dazed as the observatory interior spun in her vision, the twin solid blows to her head addling her mind. The miko was brought back to reality as Makareus kicked her viciously in the stomach, launching her backwards to land awkwardly on a stack of wooden beams next to the wall.

Sailor Mars hurriedly and painfully sat up, her injured back on fire, as the demon several feet in front of her angled his katana's point downwards, its sheath still in his other hand. "HONSHIN EKUSUPUROOJON ATEMI SHUHOU!" Makareus speared the floor with his sword, embedding the blade deeply. A single current of what looked like electricity snaked its way out of the crack where the weapon met the impaled floor, and then shot with dreaded purpose and precision towards the pile of wood Mars was currently sitting on. The miko only had a fraction of a second to hurl herself clear of the wooden beams and shield her face before they all exploded in a shower of splinters, many of the larger shards of wood piercing the left side of her body, burrowing themselves beneath her skin. Sailor Mars screamed in anguish at the horrendous assault, her fuku having done little to protect her from the score of long, flying, sharp, needles of wood.

Mars climbed arduously to her feet, her legs toiling hard just to hold her up. She reached up to her face and slowly drew a half inch long bloody splinter out of her left cheek that had managed to miss digging into her forearms instead, and then threw it down to the floor angrily. Her forearms and whole left hand side was decorated with a myriad of wooden needles, beads of blood dripping down from each puncture wound. But Sailor Mars wasn't concerned. They all hurt like fury, but she knew that the splinters were only superficial injuries. Still, with the amount embedded in her body, blood loss may become a serious factor over time that she would have to be vigilant of. Sailor Mars grinned sadistically at Makareus as he pulled his katana out of the floor. Not that it mattered. The demon would die well before blood loss kicked in.


Sailor Mars fired a volley of flaming rings at Makareus and then sprinted instantly forwards after them, the wooden shards stuck in her left leg muscles sending spasms of pain up to her brain summarily ignored. The demon swordsman chopped and hacked at the rings with expert skill as the Fire Senshi had predicted, breaking them apart to drizzle droplets of flame down to the floor. Meanwhile, Sailor Mars had taken the opportunity to bridge the gap between her and her foe while he was occupied, charging straight for him. As Makareus cut apart the last fire ring, Mars leapt through the fiery remnants in the air with a heated cry, before slamming both her feet in the demon's chest, catching him off guard and knocking him backwards several steps. The Senshi of Fire landed in a crouch and then swiftly followed up her double flying kick with an uppercut, hoping to chain together some sort of combination against her adversary. But Makareus recovered fast and moved with superhuman speed, deflecting Mars' punch with the sheath of his sword in a blur of motion. Sailor Mars bit off a curse and then renewed her attack, throwing a staggering array of various punches and kicks at Makareus, her mounting rage granting her flurry of blows increased alacrity and power. However, it proved to be not enough. The black-swathed demon blocked each and every blow with his sword's sheath, wielding it in a reverse grip like it was a blade itself.

Makareus slapped the latest of Sailor Mars' punches away from his body with the sheath of his katana, pushing the girl's arm out to the side and making her vulnerable. The black blade in his other hand then took advantage of the miko's open state and cut downwards, tearing a shallow gouge across her chest. Mars flinched back at the slice, reflexively bringing up her hands to the wound and allowing the demon to follow his attack by swiping at her head with his sword's sheath. The Senshi of Fire's splinter riddled forearm flashed upwards just in time to take the burnt of the impact of the sheath, and then she swiftly reached up with her free hand to grab Makareus' right wrist as the demon slashed at her once more with his katana, threatening to split her asunder. Without warning a boot sole was plastered against Mars' face as Makareus kicked her viciously, snapping her head backwards and causing her to lose her grip on his wrist and sword sheath. The demon swung at the miko's stomach with his katana as the girl stumbled back, the impending strike sure to spell the conclusion of the fight. However, as the sword was about to introduce her insides to her outsides, Mars slapped downwards at the flat of the blade with one palm in a remarkable display of reflexes, redirecting its course to instead slice across the tops of her thighs, leaving twin gashes in each leg. In response, Makareus altered the motion of his blade and smashed the hilt and handle into Sailor Mars' face, the sharp spikes adorning them scoring a multitude of scratches across the raven-haired girl's features, the brutal hit throwing her off her feet to the floor.

Sailor Mars rolled backwards along the floor to get some distance between herself and Makareus, and then to her feet, spitting out a mouthful of blood blended with saliva as she came upright. She glared hatefully at her enemy while her eyes shed tears of blood, red rivulets running from them due to the lacerations nearby. "Let's see if you can cut this," she spat in a hoarse voice at the confidently smirking demon, the creature's ever-changing features all seeming to mock her. "MARS FLAME SNIPER!"

The Senshi of Fire shot an arrow at very short range straight and true at her demonic assailant, the projectile on a certain collision course. Makareus reacted almost immediately, intercepting the bolt with the wooden sheath of his sword while recoiling away from the flaming attack. The arrow detonated in a scorching conflagration as it made contact with the sheath, blowing it apart into pieces the size of toothpicks, leaving only a handful of wood in the demon's hand.

"Damn you…" Makareus snarled at Mars, the creature's cycling faces now sporting numerous burns, as he flung his sword's ruined sheath aside. He then reached up with his free hand and snuffed out the small fires that had broken out on the ends of his long grey tresses between his thumb and forefinger, leaving the bottom of the locks singed to a charcoal black.

"There's more where that came from," Sailor Mars growled. "MARS FLAME SNIPER!"

The miko repeated her previous attack, and sent a second arrow on its deadly route towards her target, hoping that it would prove to be even more effective against Makareus than the prior one. However, this time Makareus was expecting it. The demon bolted in what looked like a suicidal decision to meet the arrow halfway, but at the last second before he would have met with a violent death, to Mars' shock he jumped into the air and angled his legs to the wall, running along it in a gravity-defying manoeuvre. Makareus slashed at the blazing arrow passing below him as he ran nimbly along the wall, cleaving the projectile in two with one deft stroke of his katana. With the arrow split in twain, its flight path rapidly deteriorated, the two halves of the fiery bolt careering out of control in twin wild spins, before losing height and hitting the floor, detonating. At the same moment the arrow halves exploded, Makareus bounded off the wall straight for Sailor Mars, using the force of the intense blast behind him to aid his leap. The demon twisted his body around in several revolutions with his sword held out horizontally before him as he soared through the air, his spinning increasing the momentum and in turn power behind his blade. Sailor Mars desperately dropped to one knee as Makareus let out a bloodthirsty roar and chopped at her neck with godlike speed and strength as his legs hit he floor, his katana a black blur as it hummed through the air, slicing off the bottoms of her trailing raven locks as the miko by some miracle evaded the swipe and prevented her head from leaving her shoulders.

Sailor Mars shoulder rolled behind Makareus as the demon hacked at her crouched form, and then she sprung to her feet and whirled around to face her foe, in time to only just react swiftly enough to suck in her stomach and dodge a third successive sword slice. Mars then used her forearm against the demon's sword's handle to stop another attack, preventing the descending blade from biting into her flesh. She counterattacked with a slug to Makareus' burnt faces with her other hand, only then to be pushed roughly back by the grey-haired creature's free hand. Makareus thrust his katana at her middle, attempting to stab her, but Mars responded with a speed almost comparable to the demon's earlier spinning sword attack, letting the ebony weapon flash by her body. Makareus converted his lunge into a sideways swipe, forcing the Fire Senshi to dart agilely out of the arcing blade, the razor sharp tip of the weapon shredding part of the bow on the front of her Sailor fuku to rags. Makareus twirled around in what Mars predicted was going to be a three hundred and sixty degrees spin followed by a diagonal or horizontal slash with his sword, and the miko primed herself to evade it then counter by striking at the creature's wrists, hoping to disarm him somehow. But to Sailor Mars surprise, Makareus spin stopped with his back to the girl, and before she could guess what he was trying to do, a black blade suddenly shot past the demon's side and tore through his cloak… and into the Senshi of Fire.

Sailor Mars gasped in disbelief as the wicked sword ran her through, skewering her straight through her stomach, several inches of the weapon erupting from her back. Makareus had reversed the grip on his katana and struck backwards instead, using his cloak to hide his lethal intentions. Mars swallowed hard as her throat suddenly became dry, and then slowly dropped her head to look at the dark blade that impaled her, a small circle of her blood haloing the wound. Funny, she would have thought she would have bled more. Makareus smoothly retrieved his katana from the sheath that was Mars' body, and the miko felt a soul-rendering ripping sensation as it was drawn from her, the ghostly images on the sides of the ebony blade all screaming and dancing with renewed vigour, almost making the weapon white in colour. She screamed in absolute torment as she felt her very essence, that unidentifiable thing that made her *her* being violently pulled, no, *torn* from her body. Mars clawed wildly at the air as if in some kind of attempt to physically keep that thing inside of her, while she used all of her remaining willpower to somehow mentally hold it in, knowing that to lose whatever it was the evil sword was trying to take would be to lose her sanity and even more importantly, lose herself.

A gout of dark red fluid pumped out of Sailor Mars' stomach and down her skirt as the demon's katana finally left her body, leaving a sucking vacuum in its wake, but without its prize, the girl managing to retrain whatever it was the blade had been attempting to steal. Her mind was on fire as the afterglow of the agony she had felt faded, but was quickly replaced by the torture of her mortal stab wound. However, no cries of pain came from her throat, her prior shrieks having left her voice hoarse. Besides, she didn't have the strength to. Sailor Mars clutched one hand over her stomach, watching the abundant amount of blood gush out between her fingers, soaking her white gloves through. The Fire Senshi sank to her knees and doubled over as all her remaining energy abandoned her, the girl's breathing staccato, placing her other hand on the floor for support. How could this be? She had lost. Her insides hurt so much, but it was the pure astonishment that her mind truly focused on. Things weren't supposed to end this way. She was supposed to triumph over the big bad evil thing and save the day like she always did. It wasn't meant to end like… this.

Makareus took a few steps back from the kneeling girl, looking down at her critically injured form as he lowered his bloodstained katana to his side. He shook his head. "You poor girl, you really thought you could win, didn't you?" the demon said, his tone not at all mocking. Makareus sighed. "Lazarus told me all about you and that other human girl," he explained. "How did you think I knew which one of your little group to attack first?" He shook his head once more, this time regretfully. "Usagi… that is her name, correct? She is your weakness. Your body is quite strong, but your mind and your heart are not. You led me here to kill me, all by yourself. A foolish choice. If you had brought your allies with you, perhaps you would have posed a challenge to me. But you did not. You wanted revenge against me for trying to kill Usagi, yes? Now do you see the folly of your ways? Do you, *Rei?*"

Makareus put the end of his katana under Sailor Mars' chin and lifted her head gently to look at him. "You still do not get it, do you? You were always meant to die tonight," the demon revealed as he looked into Mars' dull lavender eyes. "One way or another. I had thought Lazarus would have been the one to fulfil your fate, and indeed, I thought it was to be carried out back on that rooftop. But instead, it takes place here. Strange… but Fate always finds a way. And its tool to lead you to your end was Usagi. Such a pity… you could have been a great warrior, I am sure. Perhaps even I would have recruited you into my forces."

"How… do you know… about all this?" Sailor Mars croaked out from between dry cracked lips, finding it hard to keep her eyes open.

"Hmm, I forget that you are just a lowly mortal," Makareus said, frowning a little. "*I* am a *demon*, *I* am above the intangible powers that bind the inferior masses. But I am aware of them. Once a being is bound by a force of Destiny, then there is no escape. You are not like me. No Fate had ever chained my existence. It is mine to do with as I please. But you…" The demon's alternating masquerades smirked at Sailor Mars, as if she was but a small, and not very bright, child. "You are but a mortal. One of trillions. You are nothing special. You may have some powers, but they are nothing noteworthy in the grand scheme of things. All lower beings are bound by an unbreakable destiny, a destiny they cannot escape. And that is to *die*. Lazarus thought he could escape, the pathetic youma. But as you and your comrades have proved, he only evaded it for a time. Fate catches up with you no matter where you are in the multiverse."

Sailor Mars felt tears spring to her eyes at Makareus' words. So it was true. Setsuna had been right all along. Your Fate was inescapable. And Mars had just come back to Tokyo to die, as she had first believed back on the observatory's rooftop. But no, this time it wasn't even to die for Sailor Moon. It was just an ignoble death at the hands of a greater adversary. Was there no point to life then? Had her existence been mapped out for her at her very first breath? Mars had become a Sailor Senshi; that had been her destiny from a past life. There had been no escaping that fate, she was sure. Was it the same for all others? Had her life been set in stone? Lazarus had said that some individuals had the gift of being able to challenge Fate. Had the youma been wrong? It certainly looked like it now.

"Life is… is meaningless, then…" Sailor Mars whispered in a husky voice, the tears in her eyes now rolling down her cheeks, leaving trails in the dried blood on her scarred face. "The things we do… the important things… our actions have already been preordained… there is no control…" So this had always been her fate. To die on this night, somehow and someplace. The flow of her tears increased as crystal clear clarity hit her mind. Setsuna's 'moment' had never been about Sailor Moon being in danger. It hadn't been the Moon Princess's fate. It had been Sailor Mars'. She was supposed to have lost her life in place of her love's, but instead Tuxedo Kamen had intervened and postponed it temporarily. And now, like Lazarus, her fate had caught up with her.

Makareus moved his sword away from Mars' chin and snorted, letting the raven-haired girl's head bow once more. "You poor fool," he said, slowly raising his katana above his head with both hands. "Only now, at the end, do you finally understand."

As Makareus' blade descended on its unerring path towards her neck, Sailor Mars thought back to all the good times she had had with Sailor Moon after she had come back to Tokyo, and also the ones before. Even though her love for her princess had led her to her destruction, they were experiences that the miko still treasured, and kept close to her heart. She was glad she had been able to enjoy what it would have been like to be together with Sailor Moon, no matter how briefly it had lasted. Sailor Mars could leave this life happy, taking with her the joys she had shared with her love. She remembered the silky texture of her princess's shiny golden locks, the softness of her lips, and the carefree twinkle in her beautiful blue eyes that shone with love for her bodyguard and best friend. Shone with love…

Sailor Mars moved faster than she ever had in her life, her arms a blur even to Makareus as she slapped both her hands over the demon's katana, her palms halting the finishing blow before it could behead her. She then pushed it and her potential killer away from her with a defiant cry, sending the stunned grey-haired creature stumbling back several feet, before he miss-stepped and fell on his backside, staring at the Fire Senshi in total shock. Sailor Mars forced herself to her feet with superhuman effort, her heavily wounded and gory body trembling as she did so, her badly cut legs straining hard but enduring.

"Nothing and no one dictates my life but me," Sailor Mars declared vehemently in her hoarse voice, a hint of red light able to be seen shining beneath her tiara on her forehead. "Not Fate, not you, NO ONE!"

"H-How can you be standing?!" Makareus spluttered in disbelief, the eyes of his current skeletal-like face bugging out so much that the network of veins along them were clearly noticeable.

"Because I *choose* to!!" Sailor Mars yelled, her lavender eyes aflame with revived passion. "You're wrong about Fate. Lazarus was too. *Everyone* has the gift to challenge it if they so desire, *and* defeat it! They just need the will to try!" the Fire Senshi declared, her blood-drenched hands balling into tight fists. "Usagi… I came close…" she said, now speaking more to herself than to an astonished Makareus. "It could have went either way, Mamoru or myself, but she chose the right thing to do. She loved me too; I know it! Fate didn't choose her actions for her, she did so by herself, she chose what she felt was the right path, even though it was hard, because she's that kind of good, noble, person! She felt it was her duty to Chibi-Usa, and to Crystal Tokyo! Fate isn't unbeatable! It could have been different between us! Life would be meaningless otherwise and that CAN'T BE!!"

"This changes nothing!" Makareus shrieked from the floor, all his masks sharing the same expression of incredulity and fear. "You're still going to die!"

"Yes…" Sailor Mars said to the demon, her tone quieting as she now stood completely upright despite her injuries, viewing the fact that she was standing as a statement of rebelliousness against fate. "BUT I'M TAKING YOU WITH ME!" she then yelled, the red light behind her tiara now very visible. Sailor Mars crossed both her arms over her chest, an ofuda appearing between her first two fingers of each hand.

"Your wards are useless!" Makareus shouted as he began clambering to his feet, his masquerade's expressions now turning hateful and full of wrath. "Your gods will not save you!"

Sailor Mars closed her eyes, the light from underneath her tiara now a bright glow that dispelled the darkness in the special observatory around her. "Rin, pyou, tou, sha, kai, jin, retsu, sai, zen. Akuryou taisan!" the miko chanted, charging the two ofudas in her hands with great power at the same time. The Senshi of Fire opened her eyes and with a flick of her wrists, wrapped the two wards around her hands as she balled them into fists, the holy characters on the pieces of paper facing outwards along her knuckles.

"DIE!!" Makareus screamed as he charged for Sailor Mars, his long cloak fluttering out behind him, while his wicked sword was held above his head in both gloved hands.

Sailor Mars greeted Makareus' battle cry with a wordless roar of fury, defiance, and courage as she rushed to meet the demon, her grievous wounds doing nothing to slow her down. As Mars ran, her tiara suddenly showed a hairline crack, and then another, and then another and another, a fine web of fractures manifesting all over the golden object. The ofudas covering her fists burst into billowing flames, enveloping them and half her arms in fiery balls of scorching localised infernos, the blistering fires not harming the raven-haired girl in the least-- no command words were needed to invoke her powers. Makareus slashed downwards at Sailor Mars at the same time she threw a blazing punch, her tiara shattering to pieces and revealing the glowing red symbol of the planet Mars beneath, the mark radiating with an intensity that hurt the eye. Sailor Mars' flaming fist connected with Makareus' evil katana, resulting in an enormous sphere of red light mixed with shadow to appear in the air, as if the two colours were duelling one another for supremacy. Then suddenly, there was a tremendous explosion as the black shadow was consumed utterly by the red light, and Makareus' sword blew apart, ebony metal shards spinning out of control as they flew forwards away from Sailor Mars, ripping into the demon's body like a barrage of bullets. Unearthly screeches filled the air as wraithlike faces rose out of the broken blade and floated up towards and through the ceiling, their features appearing now calm, at peace. And thankful.

"BACK TO THE HELL THAT SPAWNED YOU!!" Sailor Mars roared, her scream echoing off the observatory's walls, before she smashed her left blazing fist straight into Makareus' chest, blowing a large gaping hole in the creature, though the terrible wound drew no blood. Something silver was crushed to dust beneath the Fire Senshi's unstoppable strike, but she disregarded it. Makareus' face changed to that of a blank canvas at the impact of the juggernaut hit, a white, plain visage with no features whatsoever; a clean slate. Perhaps that was the demon's true face. However, Sailor Mars didn't dwell on this information for long, uppercutting Makareus with her right burning fist instead, pulping his head to a paste and propelling the creature backwards. Makareus crashed through one of the windows of the special observatory to a two hundred and fifty metre drop, the broken bits of glass joining him on his one-way trip. Sailor Mars watched from the observatory as a fire seeming to originate from his chest and head wounds began to devour his falling body from the inside out, incinerating his internal organs before the flames spread outwards from the horrific injuries, travelling all over his exterior to continue their feast. By the time Makareus' remains struck the ground, the only thing left was the handle and hilt of a katana, slowly being buried by raining ash.

Sailor Mars let her arms drop weakly to her sides as the fires around her hands snuffed out, and the light from the symbol on her forehead faded, until it was gone. The wards wrapped around her hands flaked away in the wind from the broken windows, the pieces of paper now blackened cinders. Blood from her stab wound had drenched the front and back of her fuku and her skirt, the sanguine fluid now running down the insides of her legs in streams. The miko turned around and took a step away from the window, before she collapsed heavily to her knees, and then fell like a dead weight onto her side. She had killed Makareus, the last demon of the four, and the leader of the youma invaders. She should be proud. At least she had saved her friends the trouble of facing such a fearsome enemy. Even if it were the last battle the raven-haired girl would ever take part in. The pain of Sailor Mars' injuries diminished until they vanished completely, leaving her with only a feeling of cold weariness, her breathing now slow and laboured, while a metallic taste filled her mouth.

Mars blinked drowsily as she looked out the windows from her position on the floor, able to make out the shining stars in the night sky. And the bright full moon, for which she was thankful. She was alone up here in the special observatory, but with the sight of the full moon reflecting off her deadening lavender eyes, it felt like *she* was with her, spending the last few moments the Fire Senshi had in this life by her side. It was comforting. So this truly was the end. Perhaps Mars hadn't beaten Fate, but she now believed it could be done, if not by her, then by someone else. Maybe Setsuna; the woman deserved to.

As Sailor Mars stared at the moon, she realised that now that Death was really upon her, she didn't want to die. She had always envisioned herself as a person to embrace Death if it was a glorious one, one in which she saved the world, or better yet, saved Sailor Moon. She supposed that this death was quite a good one however. She had single-handedly defeated the commander of the enemy. But ultimately… death was death. She was going to leave this world, leave behind all her friends, her family, and the one she loved the most. And she didn't want to. She wanted to stay with them all, no matter what cards life dealt her, be they good or ill, as long as she could just remain. Sailor Mars would have wept if she could, but her tear ducts had dried up. She wondered how that could be.

Mars had so much regret. She had so many good things in her life she hadn't really appreciated enough until now. But what she regretted the most was all the time squandered with Sailor Moon. The miko wished she had never run away from her feelings to Yokohama, she wished she had just realised that loving her princess from afar was enough, like it always had been not long before she had fled Tokyo. Mars would have been happy with just watching her love go through her life, just to be *there* by her side, sharing in her joys and hardships. Such a fool she had been. Sailor Mars wanted to fight, she wanted to rage against Death who was allowing her life to slip away and instead hold on to it, but she just didn't have any strength left in her. And so she lay there on the observatory's floor, thinking about and regretting the past, wishing that she had taken different choices in her life. The fierce and passionate fire that had always blazed strongly inside of her was finally burning out.


Sailor Moon ran for her life as another bolt of green lightning was shot from the storm of electricity around the fluxing portal in the sky, the arc ripping part of the main observatory's rooftop asunder, and with it several dozen youma bystanders. Only a few minutes ago the interdimensional gateway had became incredibly unstable, the maelstrom surrounding it starting to lash violently out at Tokyo Tower and its occupants, giving no quarter to either Sailor Senshi or youma. Sailor Moon wasn't sure what had caused the portal to act that way, or even what was happening exactly, but she knew that she and her friends had to get out of there pronto.

"We have to retreat!" Tuxedo Kamen advised from Sailor Moon's side as the man ran with her, shouting over the cacophony of electrical discharge and dying youma that filled the air around them. "It looks like the youma have lost control of the portal!"

"Sailor Moon!!" the princess heard Mercury's voice call, and saw that the blue-haired girl was waving to her from about ten metres or so next to one of the broadcast tower's main supports.

Sailor Moon ran as fast as she could to Sailor Mercury, Tuxedo Kamen only a short distance behind her. A torrent of glass showered the pair as another blast of lightning, this one purple, struck several of the floodlights on the orange and white girders of Tokyo Tower, blowing them all to pieces and plunging the majority of the rooftop into darkness, the only substantial light now from the multicoloured storm hanging in the sky. Sailor Moon covered her head as the shards of glass rained down upon her, the blonde involuntarily letting out a startled wail. After what seemed like a lifetime of weaving in and out of fleeing youma, while dodging electrical bolts that tore the very platform they were running on apart, Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Kamen at last reached Sailor Mercury, the Senshi of Water looking eager to withdraw from the area.

"The gateway is becoming unstable, Sailor Moon," Mercury reported to the princess, speaking close to her ear. "I fear it has the potential to destroy this whole tower if it doesn't collapse in on itself before then. But even so, I don't know what the results will be if it does collapse!"

"Can't we do anything to stop it?!" Sailor Moon yelled back as the assembled trio all flinched, an arc of lightning striking a part of the rooftop nearby them, blasting a handful of screaming youma into little pieces, while sending more flying off the tower to their deaths. The blonde spared a glance back at the portal, and saw that the remaining youma on the other side were all running off too, similar bolts of electricity ravaging their ranks in their dimension also.

"If I knew what caused it, then perhaps," Sailor Mercury said, once more directing her voice into one of Sailor Moon's ears. "But I don't, and finding out would take time, time we don't have." The blue-haired girl looked back over her shoulder at a vast hole in the rooftop that Sailor Moon was fairly sure led into the observatory, and where Sailor Jupiter was standing nearby, anxiously signalling for them to hurry up and run to her while she guarded the escape route from any youma. "Moreover, we have casualties," she added, turning back to the princess's ear. "The badly injured have already been evacuated back inside the tower where Neptune and Venus are remaining with them, and I suggest we follow suit. There is nothing more we can do here."

"But what about all these youma?!" Sailor Moon shouted, ducking as bits of stray metal flew up at her from yet another bolt of electricity, only to be forestalled by Tuxedo Kamen's cape as he used it to shield her and Sailor Mercury.

"The chances are they will all be killed by the gateway!" Sailor Mercury cried, giving up talking into the blonde's ear.

"Sailor Moon, we have to go now!!" Tuxedo Kamen interrupted as the portal fluctuated in the sky, the rip first growing in size, and then greatly diminishing, before repeating the cycle once more. A kaleidoscope of chained lightning bolts sparked out from the edges of the gateway and crashed into the girders of Tokyo Tower, flowing along the metal supports and destroying every single floodlight they encountered in small explosions.

"Okay!" Sailor Moon said, much to Sailor Mercury and Tuxedo Kamen's relief, only to stop dead in her tracks a second later, her two companions doing likewise a few footsteps ahead of her. "Wait! Where's Mars? Is she in the observatory too?" Sailor Moon's blue eyes widened as she realised the implications if the miko was. "Oh no! Is she one of the casualties?!"

"I don't know!" Sailor Mercury replied quickly, impatient to get out of the danger zone. "But I know she isn't here on the rooftop, so perhaps! We'll have to check, come on!"

Sailor Moon nodded anxiously and then ran after Sailor Mercury and Tuxedo Kamen as they dashed towards the waiting Sailor Jupiter, the tall girl looking if she had been beaten to a pulp. Though, Sailor Moon guessed she, Sailor Mercury, and Tuxedo Kamen looked no better. Once the trio had reached their waiting comrade, all four hurriedly jumped through the hole and down into the relative safety of the main observatory's interior. Scores of rotting youma bodies filled the area, and Sailor Moon had to wade disgustingly through them all, the smell of all the decaying corpses almost overwhelming the girl's sinuses.

Sailor Moon scrambled off the youma bodies and to the nearest open elevator where the other senshi and Tuxedo Kamen were heading swiftly for. The clamour of the unstable interdimensional portal was still easily heard from above, and the princess could see flashes of coloured light occasionally through the observatory's windows. She hoped Mars really hadn't been left behind up there on the rooftop. Sailor Moon quickly jogged to the elevator and peered eagerly inside, expecting to see a battered and disgruntled Sailor Mars on the floor being tended to by Sailor Neptune and Sailor Venus. However, the only thing that greeted her was Sailor Neptune treating four badly injured people, three of them totally unconscious and seriously hurt, the floor of the elevator becoming slick with their blood.

"Oh no…" Sailor Moon whispered in heartfelt dismay as she saw how terribly wounded Sailor Saturn was, and not to mention Sailor Mars' friends, Sanjuro and Tsubasa. The blonde then blinked as she realised that the Fire Senshi herself wasn't among their number, or anywhere else on the main observatory level. "Rei… where's Rei?!" Sailor Moon cried fretfully, looking all around the area, frantically searching for the missing miko.

"Rei? I thought she was with you guys!" Sailor Venus exclaimed, waving a hand at Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Kamen as she stood up from the floor of the elevator, her other arm carefully held rigidly by her side, the limb obviously damaged.

"We probably left her behind on the rooftop! I bet she's lying hurt somewhere up there waiting for our help! I have to go back and check!" Sailor Moon declared worriedly, making a move back towards the substantial hole in the ceiling.

"But I never saw her anywhere up there!" Sailor Jupiter argued. "Didn't any of you guys see her?!" she directed towards Sailor Neptune and Sailor Venus.

"Of course not, we would have said something! Though I think I remember seeing her running into a pile of youma at some point, but that was ages ago!" Sailor Venus said, becoming quite agitated, while Sailor Neptune was too preoccupied stemming the blood flow from Sailor Saturn's chest wound to respond.

While the other Sailor Senshi argued amongst themselves, Tuxedo Kamen quickly blocked Sailor Moon's path to the maintenance ladder as the princess resolutely strode towards it. "Mamoru, let me past! I have to go find Rei!" Sailor Moon demanded, making several unsuccessful attempts to move by the man.

"I know," Tuxedo Kamen said softly, his voice halting the Moon Princess's movements. "But I'll go. It's far too dangerous up there."

"But going up there is suicide!" Sailor Jupiter interjected, overhearing the prince. "And I *know* Rei isn't up there!" she then added with strong conviction.

"Then where is she?!" Sailor Moon cried, whirling on Sailor Jupiter, almost coming to tears.

Sailor Jupiter looked at the blonde solemnly. "I don't know," she said quietly.

"Maybe she got caught in that electrical stor--" Sailor Venus began to gravely suggest, before Sailor Mercury directed a pointed stare at the Senshi of Love, making her cut off abruptly.

"NO!" Sailor Moon cried, hearing Sailor Venus' words and not liking what they insinuated. "Sh-She's okay, she has to be! I just have to find her!" she went on, stammering a little as the tears finally broke free of her eyes and rolled down her cheeks.

"We'll find her, Usa-ko," Tuxedo Kamen said gently, putting a comforting hand on his girlfriend's shoulder. "Maybe she's on a lower level of the tower, she could be perfectly fine, for all we know."'

Sailor Moon shook her head, for some reason not believing the prince's assumptions. "No… she's… she's…" the blonde mumbled uncertainly, frowning as a strange feeling came over her, a feeling that was similar to one she had been experiencing many times these past few weeks. It was like… a calling of sorts, as if there was someone or something calling out to her on the very edge of her hearing, only unconsciously perceptible. She had mostly ignored it when it had occurred, chalking it up to something she ate or not enough sleep, but here it was again, stronger than ever, and for some mysterious reason, she knew it was very important.

Sailor Moon closed her eyes as her brow furrowed in deep concentration, blocking out all of the distractions around her; the din of the volatile gateway above, the anxious arguments between her friends, the whistling of the wind; *everything*, and focused her mind completely on that peculiar feeling inside of herself. And then it hit her, as if the knowledge had been right in front of her the whole time, dancing before her eyes. Sailor Moon's eyes snapped open as she directed her gaze up at the ceiling. "She's up there," she whispered with new understanding. "Not on this observatory's rooftop, but in the other observatory itself." She paused then, her frown now one of confusion. "Rei…"

"Huh?" Sailor Venus said, hearing her fellow blonde. "Rei's where?"

"In the other observatory on Tokyo Tower," Sailor Mercury explained to the Senshi of Love, before turning to the Moon Princess. "Usagi, how do you know this?"

"I…" Sailor Moon said in a mystified tone. "I just do."

Suddenly, before anybody could even open their mouths to object, Sailor Moon bolted for another open elevator, knocking the trashcan that was blocking the doors away as she ran inside. She hurriedly pressed the button for the special observatory level, at the same time Tuxedo Kamen darted nimbly through the closing double doors, his trailing cape nearly getting caught in them.

"I can't let you go by yourself; it could be unsafe," Tuxedo Kamen explained to the surprised blonde princess. "Especially if one of those lightning bolts hits the elevator."

Sailor Moon smiled her thanks to her boyfriend as the elevator began its ascent, travelling up the shaft that ran through the centre of Tokyo Tower. Arcs of electrical currents flashed around the elevator as it climbed, the metal girders thankfully acting as lightning rods and drawing the bolts to them, leaving the elevator and its occupants, Tuxedo Kamen and Sailor Moon, unscathed. As Sailor Moon waited anxiously for the elevator to reach its destination, she couldn't shake the nagging sensation inside of her that something was very wrong with Sailor Mars. The feeling only served to heighten her impatience for the elevator to arrive… and to heighten her fear for the miko's safety.

At long last, the elevator doors opened with a ding, greeting Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Kamen with the view of the special observatory. However, it was not a view either of the two was expecting, or desiring to see. Sailor Moon rushed out of the elevator as soon as the doors allowed her to, ignoring Tuxedo Kamen's hushed fervent warnings to be cautious. She surveyed the extensive damage the special observatory had sustained, taking in the broken windows, blackened walls and floor, and the small dying fires scattered around the place. However, her investigation was cut short as she saw the dreaded and heartrending sight of Sailor Mars lying on her side in a pool of crimson, her lifeless form unmoving. Sailor Moon's eyes widened, her pupils dilating while her breathing became quick and shallow, the girl stricken with temporary paralysis at the horrible scene before her.

"NO!!" Sailor Moon screamed in anguish, finally somehow finding her voice as she rushed to the fallen Sailor Mars' side, dropping to her knees beside the raven-haired girl and skidding slightly on the floor slippery with blood. "Oh, Rei, REI!!" the blonde cried, her hands hovering over the still body, afraid to touch her.

"Rei…" Tuxedo Kamen gasped from behind Sailor Moon, also taken aback by the awful sight.

Deciding to risk touching her, Sailor Moon very gently and carefully pushed Sailor Mars' limp body onto her back, allowing the blonde to get a good look at her best friend. The miko's face was drawn and bloodless, the caked dried blood on her features standing out starkly on her pale skin. Numerous injuries riddled Sailor Mars' abused body, but what drew Sailor Moon's teary eyes was the enormous dark red patch around her stomach, the Fire Senshi's fuku utterly soaked through with blood.

Sailor Mars' eyes fluttered slowly open, filling Sailor Moon's heart with the hope that the girl would be okay, and then took a moment to search around her surroundings, as if the miko was having difficultly focusing. Eventually, her lavender eyes centred on Sailor Moon, and the raven-haired girl gave a weak smile.

"You… came…" she said quietly in a hoarse voice, her breathing very lethargic.

"Rei, you shouldn't try to talk," Sailor Moon pleaded, her own voice thick with tears. She wiped her reddening eyes with the back of her hand as it got too hard to see Mars' stomach wound through her blurring vision. "Don't worry, I-I'll get you out of here, I'll get you help…"

Sailor Mars' eyelids seemed to become heavy, and she sighed a little. "We both know it's too late for any of that," she whispered sadly.

"DON'T SAY THAT!!" Sailor Moon screamed as tears streamed down her cheeks, her face twisting in pain at the internal agony she was suffering. "It's not too late! If we can just… just…"

Sailor Mars reached up weakly with one hand, tenderly cupping one of the distraught blonde's cheeks and caressing it gently, forestalling any more words the girl had. "I seem to always make you cry…" she said remorsefully as she wiped away some of the sniffling Sailor Moon's tears, her expression full of sorrow. "I never told you how much it pains me when you cry out of sadness…" The Senshi of Fire smiled wistfully, letting her hand drop back down to the floor by her side. "It looks like I'm going to have to break my promise to you, odango atama," she continued quietly. "But please don't be sad…"

"Rei, don't talk like this, please," Sailor Moon begged, now sobbing openly.

"I'm… I'm so tired, Usagi…" Sailor Mars went on, disregarding the blonde's request. "I want to stay, but…"

"Then stay!" Sailor Moon cut in anxiously. "I don't want to lose you again, Rei! I can't! You know I can't! Please stay with me!!" the princess implored the miko, beseeching her with her eyes. "Keep your promise…" she finished in a heartfelt sob, taking one of her best friend's hands in her own.

"Oh, my princess," Sailor Mars said softly, coughing a little. A trickle of blood leaked out of one corner of her cracked lips. "It'll be alright. You're strong, stronger than I am. You'll get past this. You'll recover in time…"

Sailor Moon shook her head vigorously from side to side in denial. "No! NO!! I won't! I won't!" she cried in vehement disagreement. "Please, Rei… I can't go through this again… and this time you won't be coming back…"

"You'll survive," Mars assured the princess with conviction, smiling up at her. "You're the kind of person who does."

"No, Rei, I'm not!" Sailor Moon argued through her tears. "I *need* you!"

The Senshi of Fire shook her head sagely. "No, you don't," she said, the faint smile still on her lips. "You never did. But wherever I go, know that I'll *always* be by your side, watching over you. You won't ever be alone. I think I've done enough good in this life to be allowed that much…"

"Rei…" Sailor Moon sniffled, wiping yet more tears from her cheeks, unsure as how to respond.

Sailor Mars swallowed, and she gazed up at the ceiling, her lavender eyes becoming misty. "I-I wish…" she said haltingly, but then shut her eyes briefly for a second, before opening them and looking at Sailor Moon. "I want you to promise me something, Usagi," the miko choked out, seeming to suddenly have some difficulty speaking.

"Anything…" Sailor Moon sobbed, squeezing her best friend's hand tightly.

"*Live* your life," Sailor Mars said, gazing earnestly at the princess. "Don't go through it with regrets. I… I regret so many things… so many…" she revealed, shaking her head slightly in sorrow. "Live it, and enjoy it, with no regrets. Our time on this Earth may be deemed infinite, but it isn't really. It can end at any moment."

"I…" Sailor Moon said hoarsely, somehow unable to find her voice.

"T-Take care of her," the Fire Senshi directed over the princess's shoulder to Tuxedo Kamen, the caped man having been silently watching the heartbreaking exchange.

The Prince of Earth nodded. "I will," he said softly, his voice barely above a whisper.

Sailor Mars looked back at Sailor Moon, her lavender eyes softening as she smirked at the princess. "You know, odango atama," she said, "I don't think I ever told you but… I love you."

Sailor Moon looked on with agonising helplessness as her best friend's eyes drifted closed for the final time, her languid breathing ceasing forever. The blonde blinked in disbelief, her crying stopping for an instant. "Rei…?" she asked fearfully in a small voice, shaking her best friend's hand in her own a little. It was suddenly like something that had always been present inside of Sailor Moon, something so familiar that she had only unconsciously known it was there, had suddenly left her, abandoned her, leaving her with a barren, desolate feeling. Leaving her an empty shell.

"She's… she's gone, Usagi," Tuxedo Kamen said sombrely as he knelt next to the princess.

Sailor Moon turned her head slowly to Tuxedo Kamen's masked face, her tear-filled blue eyes pleading to the man to tell her that it was all a mistake, or some terrible nightmare, that she would wake up in a world where all this was a lie and Sailor Mars was perfectly fine, ready to bicker with her like always. But Tuxedo Kamen merely stared back at Sailor Moon, the pain in his own eyes behind his mask telling her that it was real, that there was no mistake. Sailor Mars wouldn't be coming back like before, appearing beyond the grave to rescue Sailor Moon from danger. This was final. The princess returned her disbelieving eyes back to Mars' lifeless body. It was just like she was sleeping.

"Usagi… we have to go," Tuxedo Kamen said quietly. "I'll carry the bo-- her."

"DON'T TOUCH HER!!" Sailor Moon screamed out, covering Sailor Mars protectively with her own body and making the prince jerk his hands back. "Just…" the blonde said, her tone much softer as she gazed at the miko's relaxed face, only a half a dozen inches separating them. "Just let me stay with her a little while…"

"Okay…" Tuxedo Kamen said carefully, eyeing the princess a little uncertainly.

"Rei…" Sailor Moon sobbed, fresh tears springing to her eyes. "You were supposed to stay with me forever…"

It wasn't fair. All the Sailor Senshi were meant to survive and live together in Crystal Tokyo. Someone had made a terrible mistake. Sailor Moon reached up and repeatedly stroked Sailor Mars' pale face with one hand, as if trying to sooth her. She thought back to the last words she had shared with her beautiful best friend, recalling the promise the raven-haired girl had wished her to keep. Sailor Mars had wanted her to live her life with no regrets. Sailor Moon's expression crumbled even more, if that were possible, as she realised she couldn't even do that much for her best friend. No, she never could. Sailor Moon had broken the promise already, for she already had one regret, the biggest one of her life. Unless…

"Wake up, Rei," Sailor Moon said in a voice thick with emotion, shaking the still form of Sailor Mars. "Wake up…"

"Usa-ko…" Tuxedo Kamen murmured uneasily as Sailor Moon started to shake Sailor Mars' body more and more roughly, grabbing two fistfuls of the raven-haired girl's fuku.

"Wake up!" Sailor Moon yelled at the Fire Senshi's unmoving form, shaking her violently like rag doll, as if trying to somehow force the life back into the girl. "You're not dead, so wake up!! You're a fighter so fight, please!! Wake up and live!! Just WAKE UP!!"

"Usagi, please, she's dead!!" Tuxedo Kamen shouted, grabbing one of Sailor Moon's arms to restrain her.

"Get off of me!" Sailor Moon cried, fiercely throwing off the prince's hand. "She's not dead! WAKE UP, REI!! WAKE UP!!" she screamed hysterically, shaking the miko so much that her head lolled about on her shoulders. "Please, Rei…" the Moon Princess then whimpered softly, her frantic efforts ceasing. "Don't leave me…"

Sailor Moon collapsed on top of Sailor Mars' dead body and wept uncontrollably as harsh reality finally secured dominance in her mind. Sailor Mars was dead. Sailor Moon had let her slip away. How was she supposed to go on in life now? "D-Don't you see, Rei," the Moon Princess choked out through her torrent of tears. "I love you too."

Suddenly, Sailor Moon's tiara faded away and the crescent moon symbol appeared emblazed brightly on her forehead, joined by an intense silvery light as the Ginzuishou in the locket on her chest burst to life, shining its brilliant light from inside its confines. An equally bright light manifested on Sailor Mars' forehead, the symbol for the red planet glowing strongly, answering the Moon Princess's call, its intensity increasing with every passing second. And then, Sailor Moon felt as if something had slotted inside of her, as if a puzzle piece had been skirting the edge of its rightful position and only now, at long last, had finally fit into place. There was a brief snapping sensation that originated from the princess's very soul, and she heard Tuxedo Kamen let out a grunt behind her as if he had been physically struck-- he had felt it too. But Sailor Moon wasn't concerned about that. She finally felt complete, the barren emptiness that had filled her being banished for all eternity from her body.

Sailor Moon looked up with rapidly rising hope bubbling inside her heart and soul from Sailor Mars' body to her face, and was greeted by the lovely girl's winning smile and exquisite amethyst eyes, the red light from the sign of Mars on her forehead merging with the golden light from the crescent moon sign on the princess's own.

"Death never was any bar to your call," Sailor Mars said, good-natured humour lacing her tone.

"Rei… Rei, you woke up, YOU'RE OKAY!!" Sailor Moon wailed ecstatically, throwing her arms around the girl in a tight hug before bursting into more tears, but this time out of deep relief and thankfulness. "I-I thought it was too late, I thought I had lost you…"

Sailor Mars' smile grew as she gently eased her arms around her princess and began tenderly stroking her back. "I said I'd wait until the end of Time for your love," she said softly. "But you just *had* to wait until I had kicked the bucket, didn't you, odango atama?!" the Fire Senshi then yelled in mock anger, shaking her head, the happy smile still plastered to her face.

"I'm so sorry, Rei," Sailor Moon sniffed, looking up at her love, blinking moistly. "It took me so long… and you suffered so much…"

"It doesn't matter," Mars said with a gentle shake of her head. "Not anymore."

There was a mild cough from above, causing both girls to look up at Tuxedo Kamen, the man having watched their entire conversation. "We should go now," he said kindly, smiling faintly at the resurrected Sailor Mars.

As Sailor Moon got to her feet, Sailor Mars reached up to her with one outstretched hand. The Moon Princess smiled and clasped it with her own firmly, helping to pull the still rather badly injured miko upright. The stab wound that ran through her body had been fully healed by the Ginzuishou when the artefact had breathed new life into her, but the Senshi of Fire's remaining wounds were still present, and could still prove to be fatal if left unattended. And there was no way Sailor Moon would allow Sailor Mars to leave her like that ever again.

Sailor Moon slung one of her love's arms over her shoulders to offer support, and then slipped one of her own arms around the miko's waist. To Sailor Mars' obvious surprise, Tuxedo Kamen put her other arm over his shoulders, also giving the raven-haired girl aid, a gesture Sailor Moon was very pleased and grateful about. Tuxedo Kamen smiled somewhat melancholy at Sailor Mars, but Sailor Moon was glad to see that it held no jealousy or angry, only reluctant acceptance. And of course, sadness, for which Sailor Moon was sorry for. But she was tired of living her life for other people, for the past, and for the future. She wanted to live her life for the present. With Rei Hino, Sailor Mars. And if that made her selfish, then so be it. There would be problems of course, mainly with Chibi-Usa and Luna, but they could be faced another day. Right now, Sailor Moon wanted to get her love out of Tokyo Tower and subsequently get her medical attention. All other things could wait.

And while the trio hurriedly struggled back to the elevator, Sailor Mars realised that Lazarus hadn't been entirely wrong in his beliefs about Fate. One *did* require addition help to defy Destiny, to shatter its chains. And Mars could think of no better help than Usagi Tsukino; Sailor Moon, her princess, and the immortal love of her life.


to be continued…

Author's ramblings:

It's good to be evil… but it's even better to be good. ^_^ I'm a hopeless romantic at heart; all that previous angst was just paving the way for happy happy goodness.

Yes, I know that bit at the start was just like that part in Noir, but that part was just so cool I couldn't resist!

There were some alternate endings I had considered, which I'll probably tell at the end of the story.

There also may be tonnes of mistakes in this chapter, but it was really long, and you should all know by now how much I hate checking long chapters.

Finally, the next two parts should be out together sometime next week ideally. They will be the final chapters where I tie up all the loose ends. Looks like I'll hit sixty chapters after all! ^_^

Oni = Demon