Sailor Moon Fan Fiction ❯ Crystal Tokyo, California ❯ Chapter 1
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters from this fanfiction, nor do I profit from it in any way. Don't sue me, you won't get anything worthwhile out of it. Comments and corrections are welcome, flames and bad language will be totally ignored. Enjoy!
Crystal Tokyo, California
The boy accosted her in the little town's bar, trying to make her fight him. Taking a look at him, she had instantly decided he was only a young punk, trying to make his reputation by killing the famous gunfighter. He insulted her, tried to strike her, but she just ignored him, trying to finish her drink. It wasn't until he pulled a knife and tried to threaten one of the barmaids that she had had enough of him. She followed him outside, took off her long duster coat and hung it on the hitching rail, and then prepared to fight.
The wind blew the dust up and around them as she carefully watched the young man who was standing just a short distance up the street. He sweated, visibly nervous, and his hands trembled over his guns. His eyes were wide with fear and excitement, and she wondered if he had realized what would likely happen to him today if he failed.
'Just walk away,' she silently urged him, 'I really don't want to have to kill a kid just for being stupid today.'
Haruka's white shirt clung to her back, her sandy hair blown back and forth, but she looked at him calmly, waiting for him to make a move. Her hands were steady at her side, waiting patiently for him to draw his guns.
She smiled calmly even as she felt a small stab of regret as she saw his hands go for his guns. Before he could fire them even once she had drawn, the gun in her hand coughing loudly once, and the boy's gun discharged harmlessly up into the clear blue sky. She walked over to where he lay, and saw the blood stain blossoming on his chest.
She looked around the crowd of gawkers, "Does anyone know this kid's name?" She said it a bit sorrowfully, she always hated the taking of a life. 'Not that he gave me much of a choice,' she thought to herself bitterly.
"Ruby, I think," one young man volunteered quietly, even as he looked at Haruka warily. He knew, now, that she really was the killer in all the stories.
A young woman shook her head. "No," she said, looking at Haruka with an obviously hero worshipping gaze, "he said that it was Rubius."
"So why did you want to kill me, Rubius," she said to herself softly, kneeling down beside the body to pay her respects. She saw something, what looked like the edge of a letter sticking out of his shirt pocket, and some morbid curiosity caused her to pull it out. A copied photo fell out, and she was surprised to see that it was one of her!
With a fierce frown on her face, Haruka unfolded the letter and read it quickly. In neat handwriting it said "Tenoh Haruka must not arrive in Crystal Tokyo. Take care of this task for me, Rubius, and I will arrange for you to return to our home. Do not fail me." And just below, the florid signature read simply, "Diamond."
She looked down at the letter thoughtfully for a moment. 'Crystal Tokyo,' she thought to herself, 'that's the same place my Aunt wants me to go to.' She neatly folded the letter back up and left it with Rubius' still body. Walking away, she said to herself softly, "I guess I'm going to visit Crystal Tokyo after all."
Tenoh Haruka rode in from the edge of town and down the dusty road until she reached the building she had been directed to. She tied up her horse outside the tavern, and looked up to the large sign over the door. In bright, elegant script, it read "The Palace". From a pants pocket, she pulled out a battered telegram.
She read it again, even though she had already memorized it by now: "Haruka. Need your unique talents. Possible position available. Meet me at the Palace, Crystal Tokyo, California, ASAP. Yours, Aunt Setsuna."
'I guess this must be the place,' Haruka thought, as she was brushing off some of the fine dust from her clothes. She looked down at her man's jeans and loose white shirt, her overcoat a bit ragged from weeks of travel, and decided she was as clean as she was going to get, standing out here. She took off her cowboy hat, formerly crisp and stylish but now dusty and rather weather beaten, and banged it off a few times on the hitching post before she headed indoors. She still struck quite the handsome figure, her short, sandy hair falling into her eyes, shirt part unbuttoned and her pants clinging to the curve of her hip.
She was a bit surprised as she stopped in the building's entrance. The floor was board, not the dirt most taverns had, and the place was well lit from many windows. The front room was large, with tables scattered about, and it looked like they could be cleared for dancing. Opposite the entrance was a bar at the far end of the room, with a long mirror behind it. A stairway started beside the bar and led to a balcony above, and several rooms.
From the door beside the bar, which Haruka could see led into a good sized kitchen, a tall, almost amazonian brown hared woman stepped out. Haruka took a few steps inside, and respectfully tipped her hat to the young lady. "Is this Setsuna's place?" Haruka asked, giving one of her most charming smiles.
The brown hared girl looked Haruka over suspiciously as she said, "Who's asking?" She casually put her hands dow, out of Haruka's sight.
Haruka smiled back at her as winningly as she could. "Tenoh Haruka. I'm Setsuna's," Haruka hesitated, then she decided to be honest, "niece." Hearing that, the woman standing behind the bar noticeably relaxed, and Haruka could tell she was laying a weapon, probably a shotgun, back down behind the counter.
She stepped out from behind the bar, offering her hand. "I'm Makoto, head cook, relief bartender and part time bouncer. We've been expecting you, I think. The boss cleared a room for you, so you can clean up in there."
"Where is Setsuna? I thought she'd be here to meet me," Haruka asked her, frowning. The taller woman suddenly looked a bit uncomfortable.
"Town meeting, I think. My, you must be tired! Lets get you to your room!" With that, Makoto all but hustled Haruka up to a second floor room, opened the door, gave her a small push in, and closed the door right behind her.
As Haruka gazed bemusedly back at the closed door, she thought that the taller girl was hiding something. A smile teased her lips as she thought, 'Not very comfortably, either.' After thinking a moment, Haruka pulled out fresh clothes from her saddlebags and laid them out on the bed. Whatever was going on, she was sure she could handle it.
Just then, there was a short firm knock on the door, and a figure walked in just after, not waiting for any reply from inside. "There's a bath ready if you want one." the slim, blue hared girl said to Haruka, smiling at her admiringly. "My name's Ami, and I'm the town doctor. Anything that ails you, come to me."
Haruka smiled back at her charmingly as she looked Ami over head to toe and liking what she saw. "Could you help me with a...personal problem?" she asked her with a falsely innocent expression on her face. Ami just laughed.
"Sorry, handsome, I'm taken." Ami answered with a wave and a smile, as she turned to leave. "The bath's in the room at the end of the hall," she said in parting. Haruka gave a pretend sigh of devastation, making Ami laugh.
Taking her fresh clothes, Haruka made her way down the hall, and walked into one of the most luxurious bathrooms she had seen in years, possibly ever. "I think I'm in heaven." Haruka sighed. Undressing with unseemly haste, she joyfully climbed in.
Feeling clean for the first time in days, dressed in a set of crisp clean clothes, boots polished and shining, Haruka slowly made her way down the stairs to the bar below. A group of figures were gathered right in front of the bar, and she smiled as she saw a familiar, black hared woman in front.
"Setsuna!" Haruka called out to her happily. She noticed that the tall, elegant woman seemed to have barely changed, even as they hugged each other fiercely.
"You have no idea how good it is to see you again!" Setsuna said happily. A bone-crushing hug later, Haruka regained her feet and stood gazing happily at her beloved Aunt. "Let me introduce you to my friends." Setsuna said simply, gesturing to the six young women who were gathered around her.
"I understand you've already met Ami and Makoto," Setsuna said, gesturing to the cook and doctor. Seeing them standing there together, Haruka could understand what Ami had meant by "I'm taken". The two just seemed to just fit together, somehow.
"This is Usagi, our comedienne," Setsuna said, gesturing to a waif like blond with long hair done up in two tails. Usagi grinned, doing a florid bow, somehow incorporating a graceful prat fall and then returning with a bounce to her feet.
"These are Minako and Rei, our singers." Another blond, more gold tinted this time, smiled boldly at Haruka, until the black hared girl pinched her in the side. The dark hared girl seemed to be more serene, yet Haruka could sense that a temper dwelled within her. They were quite obviously friends, and Haruka suspected they were possibly a couple, even if they weren't as obvious about it as Makoto and Ami.
"And finally, Michiru, our newest arrival and a professional masseuse." Setsuna finished, a little smile teasing her lips.
The beautiful green hared girl shyly stepped out from behind Setsuna and cautiously smiled up at Haruka. For the first time in her life, Haruka found herself totally struck dumb, just not knowing what to say to the gorgeous looking young woman standing before her. With a quiet smile, Michiru said something softly to Setsuna that Haruka couldn't quite hear, and in a moment, she was up the stairs and gone.
Haruka shook herself, focusing back on a smirking Setsuna. "See something you like?" Setsuna asked with a slight smile.
Haruka, just slightly, blushed at Setsuna's knowing comment. "So what mysterious job did you need me for?" Haruka asked her simply. Setsuna looked a bit surprised at Haruka's bluntness. "You always said: If you want to know, just ask." Haruka reminded her with a smile.
Setsuna smiled and laughed at having her words used against her. "All right, come on upstairs to the parlor and we'll talk."
Setsuna sat Haruka down, set up two settings for tea and as she sat down herself she smiled at the obviously impatient looking Haruka. "You haven't changed much in the last five years," she commented quietly.
Haruka smiled a bit sadly, remembering the day she had left home. It had been raining there for nearly a week in that small town back east. Haruka's mother and father had been dead for several long years by then, and Haruka was finally old enough to be able to see the strain raising her was putting on her Aunt Setsuna. It troubled her greatly for many days, until she decided what she had to do about it. Haruka had gotten her things together, retrieved her father's gun, and left, only a short note to mark her passage.
The first year or so away from home had been rough on her, but she was a crack shot and an expert horsewoman, and those skills had stood her quite well. Passing as a pretty young man, she became a cowboy, then finally a gunslinger. Searching out lucrative bounties and building herself a dangerous reputation, the name Tenoh Haruka began to be known across the west. And with each bounty collected or job she completed, she sent a short letter and whatever money she could spare back to her Aunt Setsuna.
"Did you know," Setsuna said with an impish smile, "that I read about you in a ten cent novel?" Haruka looked a bit surprised at this deviation. Setsuna smiled and reached into a nearby drawer, and handed the slim book over to Haruka. Her face was drawn on the cover, and except for her sporting a five o'clock shadow it was a pretty good portrait.
"And I thought that writer who followed me around all those months was nuts," Haruka said, shaking her head with a rueful smile. Realizing that she had been diverted again, she looked up to a grinning Setsuna.
"Gotcha." Setsuna said with an impish smile. Setsuna sobered as she spoke: "Haruka, the job's potentially very dangerous." She drank some tea, "I'm sure everyone here will help, but you could be hurt, or even killed."
"Now you've only gotten me interested." Haruka said with a smile. "Setsuna, doing what I've been doing the last couple of years, I've become pretty good friends with the Grim Reaper. I'm not afraid of him."
Setsuna nodded to her a bit sadly. "That's part of why I wrote," she said to herself rather enigmatically. She took a sip of tea as she continued, "Our town sheriff was shot a few months ago, by one of a group of outlaws who call themselves the Diamond gang. They've been threatening our mining shipments and trade, looking for someone or something. We need someone to stop them, and protect the town. I want you to be..."
"The new sheriff." Haruka finished for her thoughtfully. Setsuna just nodded in agreement. "Are there any deputies?" Haruka asked.
"You just met them downstairs," Setsuna answered her with a smile.
Haruka picked up her cup of tea and drank a bit, before asking Setsuna, "Did you tell anyone I was coming here?"
Setsuna looked at Haruka in honest confusion as she answered her, "A few people around town. Why?"
"Because somebody named Rubius," Haruka said, and noted Setsuna's face grew bone pale at the mention of the name, "tried to kill me to keep me from getting here."
"The reason we need a new sheriff, is because Rubius killed the last one," Setsuna said to her softly. She looked up at Haruka, and asked with surprising fierceness, "Is he dead?"
"Dead and in the ground," Haruka said quietly. She hadn't seen Setsuna like that before, it was just a little bit scary.
They drank their tea quietly for a few moments as Setsuna recovered from Haruka's news. Finally, she continued her obviously rehearsed speech, "We do have a new sheriff's office and jail building. There's a set of rooms above it for you to live in, or you could live here. You own half the Palace anyway." Setsuna slipped the last little detail in as casually as she could, and waited to see Haruka's reaction.
"That doesn't sound too bad. I'm sure Makoto would be good in a fight, at least, and some of the others..." Haruka started, then she trailed off, blinking. "What do you mean I own half the Palace?!" Haruka yelled.
Down at the base of the stairs, Ami smiled up at a grimacing Makoto. "You see, I told you she didn't know. I win the bet!" Ami said to her happily. Makoto just sighed as she pulled out her wallet. "No," Ami said smiling as she snuggled in close to Makoto, "I think I'll take it out in trade." Makoto blushed brightly.
Back upstairs, Haruka looked with a dumbfounded expression at Setsuna. The older woman smiled at her and shrugged. "What did you think I would do with all the money you sent, spend it? I saved it up, and used it to help pay for this place. I wanted," Setsuna continued more quietly, "to make somewhere you could call a home."
Haruka rose from the chair and hugged Setsuna fiercely. "Thank you." She stayed on her feet, and began to pace a bit. After a few minutes, she spoke: "I'm sorry Setsuna, I can't make this kind of decision quickly. If I commit to this, I'll be sure to see it through, so I have to be certain. When do you need to have my decision?"
"Would a week be long enough?" Setsuna asked her, hiding a bit of disapointment. She had hoped Haruka would simply agree. Then again, the girl she helped raise wouldn't have just leapt into a situation blindly.
"More than enough." Haruka answered calmly.
In the room next door, a faintly blushing Michiru took the drinking glass down from the wall between the two rooms. She had heard enough to know that the handsome young woman was going to be staying for a while. She had listened to all the stories, of course, about Setsuna's famous niece, the gunfighter Tenoh Haruka, but she had been totally unprepared for how she felt when they actually met. The sandy blond hared figure had looked at her with those beautiful eyes, and she had been filled with the urge to flee.
"Why did I panic like that?" Michiru asked herself as she flopped backwards on her bed, "And why can't I get Haruka's face out of my head?"
Haruka took the keys from Setsuna's hand with a smile. "So the sheriff's office is just five doors down on this side of the street?" Haruka confirmed.
Setsuna nodded, and watched Haruka confidently step out of the room. She hoped she had made the right decision calling Haruka here. She didn't want to see Haruka hurt, but this might be her only chance to settle down before she got herself killed.
Haruka descended the stairs, and smiled and waved to Makoto, Ami and the others. There were a few new faces there as well, the Palace's customers, Haruka assumed, who tried not to stare at her too obviously. As Haruka stepped out of the door, she heard a unfamiliar female voice behind her say to the others "She's so handsome! Is she single?" and the room broke into a babble of gossiping voices. Haruka grinned.
Haruka had noticed only women when she had rode into town, and as she walked down the street, that quick impression was verified. She also noticed she was receiving quite a few admiring glances as well. 'I wonder how they pulled this off?' Haruka mused, smiling.
The sheriff's office was a newer building, with two floors, and a medium sized front window looking out onto the main street. The key opened the lock easily, and Haruka stepped into the cooler darkness inside. The downstairs was a little bit dusty, Haruka noted, but it could be easily cleaned up. She made her way into the back, and looked over the two holding cells, trying to rattle the bars experimentally. Finally, she climbed the stairs to the suite.
The room had a forlorn quality, as if it had been unlived in for the last few months. There were several pieces of good quality furniture, bed, dresser and nightstand, and she noticed a picture frame that was lying face down on the nightstand. She picked it up and held it into the light of the bedroom's window.
The photo was of Setsuna and Usagi, and another woman. Her white hair was almost as long as Usagi's, and there was a definite family resemblance. She looked at Setsuna with eyes full of love, hanging from her arm, and a badge gleamed on her coat.
"Oh, hell." Haruka murmured to herself softly, carefully putting the photo back down. They hadn't just killed the town's sheriff, they had killed Setsuna's lover. "I guess I'm going to have to do something about that," Haruka said in a cold voice that would have shocked the girls at the Palace if they could have heard it.