Sailor Moon Fan Fiction ❯ Sovereign of the Spirit ❯ The Call of Destiny from Distant Echoes ( Chapter 2 )
[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Let's break a few Otaku Senshi conventions, don't you agree fair reader? Hehe.
BTW, since we're on the topic of Otaku Senshi cliches, here's a LJ that's documented quite a few fics that are some of the biggest offenders. The Sailor Moon Sue Report! It's a great source if you'd like your Otaku Senshi to be something more than your typical Mary Sue. Check it out:
And once again, the website that has all the pics and bios on various characters in this story, go to Setsu-P's website:
Comments/Reviews/Complaints? Send em' my way.
Sovereign of the Spirit
Sovereign of the Spirit
Chapter 2: The Call of Destiny from Distant Echoes
"What in the heavens are you so bubbly about, cousin?" She asked once the door closed behind them, relieved to have finally left all the silly formalities of what was considered royal propriety behind.
Her tanned companion sat up on the couch she'd flung herself so gleefully onto and brushed pale blue hair out of her eyes. She carefully and demurely smoothed her skirts before beginning.
"Guess who's going to the ball?" Her cousin announced, grinning from ear to ear.
"Really?" she beamed in return, barely containing her elation. "Mother said I could go this time, too!"
The two young girls giggled, enjoying their private little secret. They tried in vain to keep their excited voices down to hushed whispers, but muffled squeals and snickers still leaked out into the corridor.
"So," she whispered, leaning towards her fellow conspirator, her dark hair swaying forward over one shoulder, "what are you going to dress up as? It's a costume ball, you know."
Those strained giggles still echoed in Setsuna's memories as she noticed Haruka and Michiru walking into the restaurant.
She observed them as they approached her booth. The two always carried an air of mystique, drawing the attention of those around them. Perhaps it was because they complimented each other well; Michiru with her elegance and grace, Haruka with her charm and strong will. Setsuna took a sip of her tea. She could see why many envied and admired the pair from afar.
Setsuna sipped again, noting the terse expressions and stiff body language of her comrades. People in the restaurant must have taken notice of this as well and gave them a respectable amount of distance. She recognized that look on their faces; she had seen it many more times than she'd liked, but at least she knew she had their undivided attention. Setsuna brushed some of her long green hair behind her ear and set down her cooling cup of tea on its saucer. The time for reminiscing was over - there was business to attend to.
The two girls seated themselves across from Setsuna as the waitress served them their usual drinks; coffee, black and strong for Haruka, and green tea for Michiru. Both girls raised their eyes toward Setsuna while the waitress made a hasty exit.
"What's the problem, Setsuna?" The blonde spoke first, her deep voice resonant, while she raised her cup to her lips. Her teal-haired partner just fixed emerald eyes upon Setsuna, not making any movement toward her warm drink.
No greetings, no hellos; just cut to the chase. Strangely, Setsuna found their tactlessness refreshing, compared to the constant cautiousness of the Meiou Corporation executives.
Weaving her fingers together in front of her face, Setsuna replied, "A new threat has arrived in our time. The Dark Senshi."
She noted that the pair perked their ears, but aside from that sharpening of attention, neither reacted.
"Dark Senshi?" Michiru asked quietly. "I thought I felt a strange presence here, but I didn't think it was a Senshi."
Setsuna nodded her head solemnly.
"Dark Senshi, huh?" Haruka huffed, crossing her arms. "What do you know about them?"
"I know very little." Setsuna confessed, sighing audibly. "I know that they wield power over the elements like we do." She winced internally with the pain in her abdomen; still tender after a few days of healing. "This I have come to know personally."
"So you've already engaged them?" Though Michiru hid it well within her calm demeanor, Setsuna could hear the tension in her words.
"Yes. Ares. She is a conjurer of the flame and spirits. So far she appears to be the only one here."
Setsuna avoided their eyes. "No. These Senshi were so corrupted that I'm unsure just how much their powers were altered or how much stronger they became after their exile."
Setsuna sighed again as both girls gave her a hard stare. She knew better than to be too evasive with them. "Before the collapse of the Silver Millennium, our solar system used to teem with Senshi. Unfortunately, just as there existed Senshi who used their powers to protect the innocent, there were Senshi who abused those powers. Since Senshi could be reincarnated, the only punishment for those who were beyond redemption was to exile them to a parallel dimension."
Michiru finally picked up her tea and took a drawn out draught. "So, how many Senshi were exiled to this dimension from our solar system?"
"Quite a few." Setsuna replied, noticing Haruka's cropped blond hair bristling slightly. "It had been sparked mostly by the betrayal of one of the Senshi against Queen Serenity. This Senshi and her other conspirators became known as the Dark Senshi shortly after their exile."
"How did they get free?" Michiru brushed a curl of her hair from her face and sipped her tea quickly as Haruka frowned, letting her coffee cool on the table.
Setsuna leaned back with her cup. "They found a way to cross into our dimension. I didn't know they had crossed over until Ares destroyed that cafe a few days ago."
The blonde continued to frown and folded her arms. "I thought you were the one who prevented these things from happening? You are the guardian of the Time Gate, are you not?"
Instantly, Setsuna's red scrutinizing eyes fixed Haruka with a piercing a glare over the rim of her tea cup. "It's not my duty to prevent these inter-dimensional travelers from entering into our world."
"Then whose is it?" The sound of Michiru's calming tone reminded Setsuna there was no time for petty arguments, and she relaxed her gaze.
"Right now, that is none of your concern." Setsuna set down her empty cup and crossed her arms. "What I need is for both of you to find Ares before she does any more serious damage."
Quizzically, Haruka raised one eyebrow and picked up her coffee again. "And how do you expect us to find her?"
Setsuna's scarlet gaze never wavered from the blonde. "Wherever there's smoke, as the old saying goes..."
Wandering the narrow streets, lost in this maze the locals called Tokyo; Sailor Ares began to curse her continued existence in this realm. Cool gusts began to breach the protective layer of her rough cloak, drawing out an unwilling shiver.
Ares watched as other girls and ladies pranced by in their fancy clothing, exploding in an array of pastels. `Gaudy', the Dark Senshi thought, shoving through the mindless sea of pinks, yellows, light blues, and magentas.
It had been a day or so since her battle with one of the Senshi, and the insidious craving for destruction now grew intolerable. She desperately wanted to break free of this imprisonment of peace and order. Her rage needed release.
Her stomach asserted its own authority by rumbling loudly, seeming to twist in her abdomen. Ares swore under her breath; she needed to take better care of herself in the future if she was going to survive the battles to come. This unusual neglect of her most basic needs had now forestalled the satisfying of other urges. Scowling, she was trudging on, pondering ways of plundering some food, when a distant soft rhythm caressed her ears.
The beat was hypnotic, and it drew her nearer like a moth to a flame. Every step revived long-dormant memories of a life she once lived. The times she spent during her childhood, training within the cloister of the Chaos Church, competing fiercely and violently with other priestesses to be the one who would channel Chaos' spirit. She remembered standing on the highest balcony of the grand Dark Cathedral in her ceremonial black and red robes, overlooking the thousands of her followers.
Smells of food broke her reverie, and she found herself in front of several small makeshift shops lining the road. Looking around, Ares found that, in addition to savory culinary delights, some of the merchants were selling small trinkets. One display in particular caught her attention.
'Ofuda?' Ares thought as she caressed one of the strips of rice paper with traditional Japanese characters painted on it.
Not since her days controlling demons and spirits had she seen one. Of course, 'good luck', as this particular ofuda wished for, couldn't put those monsters under her control. `Useless.' Ares smirked and moved further down the row of shops.
Once the strong aroma of food hit her senses, Ares' mouth began to water. Immediately, she keyed in on all the delicious choices.
"Hello there, miss. Would you like a tasty kabob?" A grinning merchant caught her eye as he waved the aforementioned treat in front of her face. `Foolish mortal,' Ares fumed, `one does not taunt the Senshi of War.'
Before the merchant could react to the crazed glint in her eye, Ares had grabbed his hand and squeezed hard. She met the merchant's instant agony with a malicious grin.
"Yes, I would."
The man crumpled under Ares' grasp and whimpered. It always amused her when they did that. She squeezed a little harder, and smiled with glee when she felt a few of his bones pop in her hand as though she was snapping a bundle of twigs.
"Please," he wheezed, "let me go."
Ares continued to grin as she slipped the kabob from the merchant's slack grasp, then pulled him forward over his counter. Grinning like a cat with a canary, Ares snapped her fist forward, slamming it into the man's face. As he slumped to the ground, Ares took a large, satisfying bite out of her tasty meal and walked away.
Momentarily sated, Ares explored her odd surroundings until a pair of large red poles came into view. Mesmerized, she approached the steps between the large wooden pilings, which supported an archway that reminded her of a crown. Methodically, she climbed each step in time with the drumbeat. She didn't completely understand why, but the closer she came to the top, the more something inside her would slowly ebb and swell, seeming to grow larger.
Finally, when she reached the top, it hit her all at once. Spiritual energy swirled around her like a huge mass. It had been a long time since she'd felt so much of it concentrated in one area. Not since the days when she had channeled the Chaos spirit had her spiritual senses felt so in tune with her surroundings.
She hated the predominating sense of peace those spirits emanated, though. Had they been unsettled spirits, or even Furies bent on revenge, that would definitely be more soothing to her.
Curious, Ares continued onward down the stone path, which led her to an oddly shaped building where she sensed the spiritual energy had concentrated. The building mirrored the shape of a crown much like the archway at the bottom of the stone steps, only colored more elaborately in red, gold, and green. Despite its odd architecture, the building radiated an aura of history and reverence.
`This must be their temple. It's hardly as imposing as the Dark Cathedral. How's this going to strike fear into the hearts of unbelievers?'
The smell of musky incense tickled her nose, stirring up more memories of her time as priestess and of the fateful day Seth took it all away from her. Ares gritted her teeth and clenched her fists; she would repay Seth for seducing her and stealing away her congregation.
“Among other things…” She growled to herself.
Suddenly, a heavy stench mingled with the spicy scent of the incense. The telltale smell of ash and something else she couldn't quite describe pulled her over to the cover of the trees and bushes surrounding the pitiful temple.
An all too familiar tingling went up Ares' spine as she pushed her way through the undergrowth. There was an opponent nearby, a very powerful one; she could feel it. With the thrill of a potential fight luring her on, Ares quickly made her way to a clearing shrouded in a fog of thick smoke. She allowed herself to cough a little and waited for her next challenger to make herself or himself known.
“I know you're out there.” Unfortunately, Ares' patience would wait for only so long. “Show yourself.”
As if at Ares' command, the smoke swirled and shifted on its own, gathering into a rotating sphere. From out of its center a soft white hand emerged, followed by another. Both of the pale hands eased themselves over and gripped the edges of what was now, obviously, a portal of some sort. A woman's face emerged from the cloudy ball and calmly studied her. Ares couldn't repress a shiver - the mysterious woman's bright red eyes chilled her usually boiling blood. She recognized the markings on her cheeks and forehead almost immediately and decided that she had been too hasty in challenging this entity.
Either oblivious to or uncaring of Ares' discomfort, the woman pulled the rest of her body through the smoke portal and descended gracefully to the grass. An astonishing amount of blue-black hair floated around her, mixing with the wisps of smoke in the air.
“We finally meet, Junko.” The woman remarked coolly, paying Ares no mind whatsoever as she went about the task of straightening the billowing red sleeves of her dress.
Ares flinched. “How do you know my true name, demon?”
The woman stopped what she was doing and lazily brought her dark crimson gaze around to the smaller girl. “I know many things, and the most important thing for you to remember is that you shall address me as Harutaki. Never dare to confuse me with those mindless beasts again.”
“Fine.” Ares muttered reluctantly, refusing to meet Harutaki's narrowed eyes. “What business do you have with me, then? If you know my true name, you must know what I'm here for.”
“That I do.” The woman glided closer to the Dark Senshi. “I have an interest in your task, and I would like to offer you my assistance.”
“What's the catch?” All the hairs on Ares' head stood on end as she backed away, a low growl rumbling in her throat.
“There is no catch.” Harutaki responded with an air of disinterest. “I felt that I it would be more beneficial to me to have you willingly agree to my assistance than to have it forced upon you. I thought I might offer you a choice...you being the reasonable young woman that you are, after all…”
`That arrogant demon bitch! She will feel my wrath!' Ares mentally howled in rage. With fist clenched and fear abandoned, the smaller girl jumped right into the woman's face and snarled. “No one! I repeat, I will be NO ONE'S slave!”
Harutaki raised one thin, smooth eyebrow. “Whatever deal you have with Seth is of no concern to me. What I am offering is more of a partnership.”
“I am NOT his slave.” Ares denied hotly.
The ex-priestess thought she caught a hint of amusement in the demon's eyes. “I thought you were only here because Seth ordered you to be?”
Unable to tolerate any more of the harlot's attitude, Ares summoned her power, allowing the flames to envelop her hands. She started to rush forward, but her body suddenly refused to cooperate. Confused, the Dark Senshi looked from side to side before somewhat reluctantly meeting Harutaki's eyes, which were most definitely amused now, though it seemed more like a patina than an actual show of emotion.
“It's such a shame.” Harutaki chastised, wagging a finger at the girl. “You're focusing all that impressive anger and power in the wrong direction. What a waste.”
“What are you going to do with me, demon?” Ares growled, surprised her captor would allow her the freedom to speak.
Harutaki narrowed her eyes, all traces of good humor gone. “If you were not a vital component in my plans, girl, I would have already dispensed with you.”
Leaning in almost too closely for her captive's comfort, the demon raised one elegant forefinger towards Ares' forehead. “You want to curb that temper of yours in future, Junko. Be less quick to attack, be a little more open to new possibilities, and most of all, be more thankful… because considering what I'm about to grant you, I'm doing you more of a favor.”
Stinging, nervous sweat trickled down into Ares' eyes, blurring her view of Harutaki's approaching finger. Her heart pounded, her breathing became shallow, and she felt tingly everywhere. She was excited, oddly enough. Being held captive, at someone else's mercy, reminded her in many ways of being possessed by the Chaos spirit when she still had the powers of a priestess. Oh, how she wished she could return to those days again!
A small smirk formed on the corner of Harutaki's mouth, now within kissing distance, as her finger finally came in contact with Ares' skin, directly between her eyebrows. The demon's breath was cold and smelled faintly of pungent, scented smoke. “Prepare to have your wish fulfilled.”
The touch was electrifying and spread throughout her body like a tsunami. The destructive wave blew through all sorts of barriers that had built up within her, wiping everything clean. Her mind was free. Her spirit was cleansed of the blight that had infected it for so long, and her body vibrant with so much power. Once the wave crested, she could sense something else following in the wake of the wave of sensation. A dark and viscous presence lazily filled those newly cleansed spaces. The presence grew and expanded, filling her more and more until she couldn't take it anymore.
Ares knew this sensation. She remembered it very well from her days in the cloister and she couldn't hide the ecstasy evident on her face.
“CHAOS! YOU'VE RETURNED TO ME!” Ares screamed in ecstasy as flames exploded from her body, destroying everything around her.
`It's funny how life can throw a wrench in your plans.' Ken gnawed on those words mentally as he watched the firemen extinguish the flaming remains of Ben's Café. He kicked at an errant pebble, bouncing it off the sidewalk as he thought back to that incident a few nights ago. He had been jolted from a nice sleep when something like a bomb detonated down the street. Before he could make it to the street, the inferno a few blocks away towered high into the night like a gigantic, glowing worm.
As he approached, the blaze had totally consumed what was left of the café he'd only been sitting not a few hours ago.
`Only a few hours ago.' He reminded himself as he continued his aimless wandering. It felt like it had been a lot longer. Ken supposed this was what shock did to a person.
The questions never ceased, either; what if he had stayed longer? What if the explosion had been bigger and destroyed his apartment building? What if, what if, what if. Though he wasn't a very religious man, he had always believed that *someone* was looking after him, keeping him out of harm's way. Despite losing his father when he was a baby and his mother's death when he was in college, Ken had never felt lost or abandoned. Sad, maybe, but he never lost hope. Somehow, deep down, he knew everything was going to be okay. Now, for the first time in his life, he doubted it.
That night, he saw a lone figure standing and watching the scene below. He recognized her; well, actually it was more like he recognized the uniform. One of Sailor Moon's Senshi had perched herself on a nearby ledge high above the conflagration. He had seen pictures of a few of them, mostly Sailor Moon, but never had he ever seen one in the flesh.
She looked… different from what he'd expected of a Sailor Senshi. This wasn't a girl, but most definitely a woman, and a very beautiful one at that. Even from a great distance Ken could tell. Her long, dark, flowing hair swirled around her slim form lazily with the gusts of fallout from the fire. However, her posture seemed so tense and serious. She didn't look relieved or satisfied. Considering the state of the café and the number of paramedics carrying out large black bags, something bad enough must have happened that even a Sailor Senshi couldn't stop it.
That worried Ken greatly. Over the years, when powerful enemies of Sailor Moon attacked, the rest of Tokyo usually suffered greatly. For instance, Mugen Academy was just now beginning to get back on its feet years after the school had been obliterated in one of their battles. Based on the destruction and the presence of a very tense Senshi nearby, had another powerful enemy appeared? Was his whole neighborhood going to be demolished like Ben's Café?
Ken shook his head and kicked another pebble. He needed to clear his mind and find that precious peace he'd lost only a few days ago.
“That's it!” The blond immediately regretted his exclamation when he noticed everyone on the sidewalk staring at him blankly. “Ah, heh.”
Excited, Ken shook his hands free of his long sleeves. Yes, he would go to a shrine and pray - that would surely help him clear his mind. At the very least, it would help him to relax. Unfortunately, his neighborhood had mostly Buddhist shrines, and he wasn't too familiar with the ceremony.
Ken tapped his chin. He needed something a little more free-form and not too complicated. He snapped his fingers.
“Shinto it is.” He stated, glancing around to make sure he hadn't attracted any more stares.
Surprisingly, the nearest Shinto shrine was just a district away in Juuban. As he waited on the train, he couldn't help but feel a little anxious. He had a little bounce in his step and a simple melody on endless repeat in his head.
`Am I nervous or excited?' He wondered, lacing his thin fingers together to form an arch in front of his face. `I guess since I've never been to a shrine before, I'll go with excited. It's like an adventure. Yes, I'm a man on a mission to find religion!'
Putting on his most serious `man on a mission' face, Ken marched onward to the Shinto shrine. Before he knew it, he'd somehow gone from the urban jungle that was Tokyo to the rural forests of a time long since gone. It was like he'd crossed into another world when he passed between the protective pillars of the shrine's torii. His breath hitched in his throat the moment he set foot on the shrine's sacred grounds. He didn't know how to describe it, but he felt like he'd just woken up from a prolonged deep sleep.
In awe, Ken took his time walking the grounds. Everything around him came into better focus; the sun seemed brighter, the song of the birds sounded sweeter, the air smelt crisper, and he felt fulfilled. It was like he belonged here. How could he have denied himself this experience for so long?
Dazed, he hadn't realized he had already climbed the steps up to the main area of the shrine. In fact, he almost didn't notice when he nearly knocked over the priestess sweeping the steps.
“Hey! Watch it!” The priestess's growl made Ken jump, leaping backwards. As he did so, he was arrested by her burning violet eyes. “You nearly knocked me down the steps! I could have gotten seriously injured falling down that far.”
Ken cowered back and hid his nervous grin behind his sleeve-covered hands. “Uh, I'm sorry, priestess. It's my first time at a shrine, and I kinda got wrapped up in the atmosphere. Heh.”
The fire in the priestess' eyes cooled slightly and the girl raised her eyebrows, confused. “You've never been to a shrine before?”
Ken shrugged, expertly hitching up the loose collar of his oversized sweater, hoping the wooly material would hide his sudden blush. He had to admit she did look pretty cute. “Well, my mother was never one for visiting shrines. She always told me that I already had the favor of the Gods, so I didn't need to ask them for anything more. That and I also live in Roppongi.”
“Ah.” The priestess's expression brightened with understanding and what looked suspiciously like amusement. “Partied a little too hard, then? Perhaps you did something you now regret?”
“N-No!” Ken blurted out too quickly. `What was up with this priestess?' he thought, they were supposed to be calm and collected, not so… suggestive. “I just wanted to go somewhere to relax and think clearly. I've… got a lot on my mind.”
A small, polite smile formed on the girl's face. “I'm sorry. I probably shouldn't have teased you so much, but you did nearly knock me down the steps.”
`Just how many times is she going to remind me?' Ken chuckled dryly. “Uh, yeah, sorry about that again. Anyway, since I'm here, um, what do I do exactly?”
The raven-haired beauty snorted and stopped sweeping. “I suppose I should show you around and walk you through.” Turning, the priestess offered her hand. “I'm Rei Hino...and you are?”
Tentatively, the blonde man reached out and shook the girl's hand, unsure what would happen the moment he touched it. He hoped he didn't spontaneously combust. That would definitely ruin the moment with such a pretty girl.
“Ken Ishida.” The blonde immediately grimaced at the nervous squeak in his voice.
Trying hard to hide her smirk, Rei motioned for Ken to follow her. “Nice to meet you, Mr. Ishida, welcome to the Hikawa Shrine.”
Figuring out what to do turned out to be a fairly easy exercise, though he did gain the priestess's ire once again when he took a quick swig of the cool water after washing his hands in the basin of the chozuya.
“Only disrespectful foreigners do that.” She had chided him, snatching the ladle away.
Rei then directed him to where he could kneel to meditate or pray. That's when Ken ran into trouble. What to pray for? For peace of mind, he guessed, but he was just here to calm his nerves, and once he'd set foot on the shrine grounds his anxiety had dissolved. He couldn't think of much else to ask for - in fact, he didn't know why he was still kneeling if he couldn't think of anything to pray for.
Opening his eyes, Ken peeked over his shoulder, confirming that the priestess was still nearby tending to some paper streamers hanging from a rope.
Okay, so he did have *one* reason to still be kneeling, but now his knees were beginning to ache and he couldn't so much as wiggle his toes. Satisfied that he had fulfilled his praying quota, Ken confidently strode over to the raven haired priestess.
“Finished already?” Rei quipped, a small smile clipping the corners of her mouth.
Confidence deflated by her tone, Ken slumped forward slightly, his sweater billowing out and once again lending him the appearance of a punctured balloon. “Did I stop too soon?”
Rei waved her hands. “Oh no, no, no. I was just making sure you had finished. Please don't take any offense to that.” With that, Rei nodded towards the blonde man. “Come on, we're finished here, unless you'd like to keep exploring the grounds.”
Stretching his arms, Ken casually placed his hands behind his head and scanned the rest of the shrine grounds. Though it did have a fair amount of vegetation, the shrine itself occupied a small plot of land, and it didn't take him long to take it all in. “Hey, what's that over there?”
“Oh, that?” Rei followed Ken's finger towards a board on which several small wooden tablets hung. “Those are emas.”
Striding over to the table, Rei picked up a tablet displaying a small ink painting of a crow. “If you have a prayer or wish you'd like to have fulfilled, you can purchase an ema, write down your prayer, and hang it here.”
Ken smirked. “And if it comes true?”
Rei smirked back. “Then you come back and put up another ema in gratitude.”
“Really?” Ken rubbed his chin thoughtfully, an ingenious plan coming to mind. Oh yeah, sometimes he could be so smooth. “Okay, I'll put one up.”
“Here.” Rei handed the lanky man a tablet. “Knock yourself out.”
With a cocky grin, Ken picked up the felt-tipped pen placed next to the stack of tablets. He had to suppress a chuckle as he wrote down his wish. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he thought they'd write about him in history books for having devised such a devastatingly clever plan.
When he finished, Ken boldly hung up his ema and stepped away, beaming with pride. He turned to Rei, waiting for her to read his wish and melt at his feet. Instead, the raven-haired priestess stared up at him impatiently.
Rei snorted and Ken thought he could see a vein throb on her forehead. “Are you going to pay for that?”
Ken exhaled, deflated again. “Oh, uh...yeah.”
Rummaging through his wallet, he handed over some cash to the irritated priestess.
Her demeanor changed the instant she received the payment. “Thank you very much, and I wish you good health and fortune until we meet again.” Rei said as she smiled and bowed deeply.
With that, she spun on her heel and began to walk away. Confused, Ken just watched the shimmering dark hair toss from side to side. She was leaving? But if she left, she wouldn't melt at his feet, and then his plan would be ruined. He had to rectify the situation quickly, orhe'd lose his chance to be in those history books!
Ken's heart stopped when the priestess spun around. Why did he suddenly feel like a target on an archery range? “Yes?”
Withering under her gaze, Ken rubbed the back of his ruffled blond hair and pointed towards the wall of hanging tablets. “Aren't you going to read it?”
Rei raised an eyebrow and approached the board. Giving Ken a quick glance, she found his tablet and read aloud.
“Please grant me the pleasure of a date with a beautiful, intelligent woman.” Rei snickered as she finished.
Ken's cheeks burned, flushed with embarrassment. Things definitely weren't going according to plan. What did he do wrong? “Come on, please don't laugh.”
Rei held her hand to her mouth, unsuccessfully suppressing her giggling. “I'm sorry, Mr. Ishida. I'm flattered, but I have to decline your offer. My life's rather hectic and besides, I'm only a sophomore in high school. I think I'm a little too young for you.”
“Hey.” Ken said defensively. “I'm not *that* old.”
Crossing her arms, Rei sighed. There was that vein again. “Honestly, Mr. Ishida, a relationship between an older man and a young girl is hardly appropriate.”
With the SS Ishida badly damaged and sinking, Ken decided to raise the white flag. Biting his lips, the blonde nervously bounced his index fingers together before his face. “Um, sorry, Ms. Hino. I shouldn't have been so forward.”
Ken's heart fluttered a bit when Rei beamed a smile at him. “That's quite all right, no harm done. Now, if you'll excuse me, I still have a lot of things that need to be done.”
As the priestess walked away, Ken gazed longingly after her, and was suddenly disgusted with himself. He was enraptured by a high school girl? Didn't they make porno mangas on this very subject? Ken slumped forward. Great. Now he wished his life was more like a porno.
`God, I'm pathetic.' Shoving his hands, sleeves and all, into his pockets, Ken plodded off towards the shrine entrance, eyes on the stones at his feet.
As Ken sunk deeper into his self-loathing, he felt his phone buzz against his hip. Curious, he fished it out of one pocket to check the screen on its colorful face.
“Ichigo?!” Without a moment's hesitation, Ken flipped open the device. His editor didn't like to be kept waiting, especially if it was an emergency. “Yes, Ichigo sir.”
The familiar growl of his surly editor rumbled against Ken's ear. “Ken! Sorry for botherin' ya on your day off, but we couldn't get permission to do Isisu's magazine shoot at the gardens.”
Ken sighed. “And I take it you want me to come in today and find another place.”
Ken swore he could *hear* the editor grin through the phone. “Precisely.”
“Alright, I'll be there in about…” as he gauged how far away he was from the office, Ken caught the red torii of the Hikawa Shrine out of the corner of his eye. Suddenly an epiphany struck down from the heavens. “The shrine!”
Ken shook his head, trying not to vibrate with sudden excitement. “You think we could use a Shinto shrine for the backdrop for the photo shoot?”
He could hear Ichigo muttering incoherently to himself, mulling the idea over. “Well, the theme is `getting in touch with nature'. Sure, what the hell? You know of a place that would allow us to take shots?”
Ken smiled so wide, it almost hurt his cheeks. “Just give me five minutes to work that Ishida magic.”
Ichigo mumbled once on the other side of the line. “Fine, whatever, I don't care if we have to do it on Mars, we need a location for Monday.”
“Aye-aye, sir.” Ken saluted.
“You're saluting again, aren't you?”
Embarrassed, Ken lowered his hand.
Setsuna adored green tea, especially with a few drops of honey. She firmly believed it was a cure-all for everything, from the common cold to aching joints, to a simple bruised ego. The smooth, spicy sweetness quickly remedied a long, rough day and just recently, it had been a long rough few days. However, this time it wasn't the result of her day job. If anything, Setsuna considered her job as the chairwoman of the Meiou Corporation more of a guilty pleasure. No, she'd been tormenting herself about the best strategies to use in confronting the Dark Senshi ever since her fight with Sailor Ares a few nights previously. Of course, recent news of a fire at a shrine today hadn't helped to ease her nerves. If Ares was any indication of just how strong the Dark Senshi truly were, then the Senshi were in for the fight of their lives.
Setting down her teacup, Setsuna met the cloudy, vacant red eyes of her cousin Isisu, who sat waiting patiently in front of Setsuna's desk. She had wished Isisu wouldn't have taken out her contacts before coming here - that seemingly vacant stare always brought back unpleasant memories.
Sighing, Setsuna folded her hands into her lap. “Isisu, there is something of extreme importance I must discuss with you.”
The tall woman tilted her head to the right, her overlong blue-white hair swaying like a pendulum as she did so. “The apartment is just fine, cousin.”
Totally ambushed, Setsuna just blinked. “Huh?”
Without missing a beat, Isisu continued in her even tone. “The last time you called me into your private study was to discuss my living arrangements. You felt that I would be better off living here with you, but I made the argument that since I never lived with you before I lost my memory, I must have been independent. Therefore, it only made sense for me to live on my own-“
Sometimes Setsuna wished she was still stuck in the Fourth Dimension. She had forgotten how vexing family could be. “This isn't about your apartment, Isisu. I want to talk to you about your past.”
“I have none.”
“You do, and as much as it pains me to do so, my hand has been forced to reveal it to you.” Setsuna stood and paced around her spacious study.
She took a deep breath, marshaling her thoughts and trying hard to recall the last time she'd been so reluctant to do something. “You are the Princess of Charon, a planet that used to be a military outpost on the fringe of the Solar System. The planet teemed with raw magic which the people of Charon were able to harness. For that reason, Charon produced some of the most powerful mages during the Silver Millennium.”
Isisu cocked her head left. “Silver Millennium?”
Setsuna paused and gazed at her cousin, reflecting fondly on happier days long since past. “It was a time when all of the planets in our Solar System knew peace and formed an alliance headed by the Moon Kingdom.”
Isisu cocked her head right, but this time Setsuna continued as the woman opened her mouth. She was afraid this would take awhile. “The Moon Kingdom headed the alliance because its leader, Queen Serenity, possessed a powerful magical artifact called the Silver Crystal.”
“I'm confused, cousin.” Isisu stated plainly. “I was told that Earth was the only planet in our Solar System that was inhabited, and I thought that Charon was Pluto's moon.”
Setsuna began pacing again, hands clasped behind her back underneath the veil of her long green hair. “Back then, Charon was Pluto's sister planet. They shared the same orbital path, always at opposite edges of the Sol border. That all changed around the end of the Silver Millennium. You see, Isisu, about a thousand years ago we were invaded by an agent of Chaos named Queen Metallia, who ruled over a legion of demons and monsters called the Dark Kingdom. Charon was overrun and badly damaged by the Dark Kingdom before they were pushed back.”
“I see.” Isisu cocked her head left again. “So why is there not any record of this Silver Millennium?”
Setsuna idly wondered if she could set her watch to Isisu's swaying head. “The alliance was strong and probably could have withstood the war with the Dark Kingdom. Unfortunately, there were several traitors from within the alliance - namely a woman named Beryl, as well as a few people from Serenity's own court who helped Metallia take over Earth and from there launched an attack on the Moon Kingdom. The Earth, Mars, Venus, and Moon were ravaged, and another planet collapsed altogether. None of Queen Serenity's court survived the war, aside from myself… and you.”
For a moment or two, Isisu didn't move. Setsuna knew that her cousin was digesting all that she had told her and even in her given state, it was a lot to swallow.
Another minute passed before Isisu blinked and spoke again. “If this is all true, cousin, where have I been for the past thousand years?”
`Finally, the dreaded question.' Setsuna pursed her lips. She would have to tread carefully - though she needed to tell her cousin the truth, Setsuna didn't want to reveal too much. She wanted Isisu to make the ultimate decision on her own.
Casually, she reached for her now cold cup of tea and took a sip, noting the absence of any of its past sweetness. “Not long after the fall of Charon, you were put into a deep sleep, from which you awakened from in this day in age.”
Setsuna averted her eyes from that unnerving pale gaze and realized this wasn't the first time she'd been this evasive with her cousin. “It was a consequence of the war. Queen Serenity used the Silver Crystal to send the souls of her daughter and the rest of her court to be reincarnated a thousand years into the future.”
“What became of the Dark Kingdom?”
With the difficult part of the conversation over, Setsuna settled into her plush chair. “Serenity had been able to seal Metallia and her Dark Kingdom away with the Silver Crystal, but that seal faded over time and Metallia was able to break free. Fortunately, by that time, Queen Serenity's court had been reborn and when they reclaimed the Silver Crystal, her daughter, Sailor Moon, defeated Metallia once and for all.”
“I am correct in assuming this is the same Sailor Moon I've seen on the local media outlets?”
Setsuna took another sip of her cold tea, noting this time that the flavor had gotten much more concentrated. “Yes. Sailor Moon, Sailor Venus, Sailor Mars, Sailor Mercury, and Sailor Jupiter are reincarnations of Queen Serenity's court.”
“Ah.” Isisu blinked. “You earlier said that you were `forced' to reveal all of this to me. Please explain.”
Sinking deeper into her chair, Setsuna sighed, wishing her mother was still around today. She had always told the story much better than Setsuna herself could. “Eons ago, the ancestors of my planet, Pluto, created the Time Gate. Upon creating this gate, they discovered a passage to a strange parallel world. Fearing that some unknown enemy would emerge from this world, they appointed a guardian to watch over the egress. Over time, this passage has been used to banish nefarious individuals so dangerous that even in death they posed a risk to our universe. Now those who were banished all those centuries ago have returned, and it is time that the Guardian of the dimensions take up her post once again.”
To save both of them the time, and herself in particular the hassle, Setsuna had left out a few things, but she had faith that Isisu would either recall them eventually, or figure them out on her own. The Isisu she remembered should be able to handle things well enough, provided the years and circumstances hadn't changed her too much. At present, it was difficult to tell.
Setsuna took another deep breath. `Time for the big reveal.' Standing, the tall green-haired woman strode over to her large desk. She ran a finger gently over the faux wooden finish, thankful she'd kept the relic from the Moon Kingdom. The hidden safe had served Queen Serenity as well back then as it did today, she mused. Invoking a little bit of magic through a touch of her finger, she unlocked one of several drawers.
She pulled out a small, thin box made of a powerful material that in many ways reminded her of obsidian in appearance. Picking up her henshin pen, Setsuna rested its ball tip briefly against the top of the dark box. Suddenly a light burst from box's side, carving a pathway until it looped around the perimeter. Glancing up, she could see Isisu still seated in her chair, but watching her closely.
`Oh well, now or never.' Setsuna wore her most neutral expression as she walked back around the desk to the pale-haired woman, carrying a smooth green stone in her hand. “You are that guardian, Isisu. You are a Sailor Senshi from the lost planet of Charon, Sailor Dis, Guardian of the Dimensions.”
Setsuna resisted the urge to smile as she offered the curved stone to her cousin. She watched with faint amusement as Isisu's eyes moved from the stone to her face and back again before she took the stone.
Carefully, Isisu assessed the green object, tracing her hand around its soft curve, not quite touching it. “This… is mine?”
“This is the Jade Crescent. You were clutching this against your chest when they found you in the Harbor.” A small smile tugged at Setsuna's lips, as she tried her best to make her voice sound soothing. “It's the last remnant of Charon. It also contains your Heart.”
Covering the open palms that were cradling the stone with her own hand, Setsuna replied gently, “Your feelings are sealed within that stone, Isisu. It… also might… help you remember who you were.”
A chill ran up Setsuna's spine as Isisu raised her eyebrows at this latest revelation. Had those blank eyes shown a flicker of something just now? “Who I was during the Silver Millennium...”
Setsuna ignored the twisting in her stomach. She'd promised herself she wouldn't lie to Isisu. “Maybe, there's no telling for sure. Using the Jade Crescent would unleash all of your emotions, but emotions being highly unpredictable as they are, it might bring your memories into focus or it might not.”
Kneeling down, Setsuna looked Isisu straight in the eye, hoping her next message would get through to her. “But understand, once you transform into Sailor Dís, there is no turning back. I implore you to meditate on this before you take any action. Do you understand me, Isisu?”
A definite flicker came to Isisu's eyes this time, and Setsuna's heart sank. “How do I transform into Sailor Dís?”
Isisu stared over at the green stone resting on her nightstand from the comfort of her pillow.
`Is this what they call meditation?' She thought as she observed the stone reflecting the soft light of her lamp.
It fascinated her how the smooth surface of the stone could appear to sparkle whether or not she moved. She was experimenting with this effect at this very moment, in fact, with her head on her pillow and willing not a muscle to move. Watching the light somehow move over the silky surface of the jade, something in Isisu's stomach fluttered uncertainly.
She'd noted the curious sensation began as soon as the Jade Crescent touched her flesh. Her fingers had begun to tingle, then to buzz somehow, and the feeling had moved from there up to her arms, coming to rest somewhere between her heart and the pit of her stomach. It felt…as though some small creature had crept into her chest and now nestled, trembling, just beneath her ribs. She couldn't recall a time she'd felt a sensation like this before, and quite frankly, it intrigued her. Would it intensify once she used the Stone? Some unconscious mental process caused the `s' in the word `stone' to capitalize, even in thought.
Her cousin had told her as much, but then again Setsuna had also told her so much more. `Something in her voice…' Isisu mused, turning over to face the window, `there were things Setsuna left unsaid. Why, I wonder?' Even when she wasn't looking at it, the image of the Crescent lingered in her mind's eye, shining with temptation, with the promise of secrets to be revealed.
Was she really a princess from a long lost kingdom? Did she truly possess incredible powers like the other Sailor Senshi? Was she the only person able to defeat their new enemy? Isisu found the idea intriguing, as well as something else she couldn't really describe, which made using the Stone that much more tempting. The whole thing seemed so much like the plot of some far-fetched fantasy manga that it couldn't possibly be true, but then it occurred to her that she couldn't remember Setsuna having lied to her before. Perhaps it was true, after all.
However, she also recalled Setsuna's warning: once she transformed into Sailor Dís, there was no turning back. Reflecting on that, Isisu turned over again to face the Stone, sitting so serenely there in the lamplight, then slowly sat up. `I have so little to return to now,' she thought, staring fixedly at the glittering arc of stone on the table. What did she really have to lose by taking on the mantle of the Guardian? Ever since she had started living in Tokyo, she'd felt incomplete; haunted at night by a dream she couldn't decipher. Setsuna, and now Isisu herself, knew this stone was the key to revealing all of those things locked up inside her. So why was she hesitating?
`Remember, remember…' Ah, there was that all-important word again, the one that reverberated at the root of this problem. That trembling creature beneath her ribs stirred, and Isisu felt her pulse quicken. She, who until this moment had had nothing to really remember at all, was now presented with the possibility of not only memories, but also memories of an entire life. Memories of a time when she might have been like the people who crowded the streets of this city, laughing, crying, feeling anger and joy, instead of being distant and cold, far removed from the scheme of things. Isisu reached out and picked up the Crescent. The sound of her now racing heartbeat filled her ears like the steady roar of the ocean. She wanted to remember. She wanted to feel. She wanted a purpose.
Standing up, Isisu caressed the smooth surface of the Jade Crescent. “This is my idenity.”
Her lithe fingers wrapped around the curved stone and she brought it up to her blank eyes. “This is who I am.”
Raising the Jade Crescent in both of her palms, she summoned the incantation that her cousin had taught her. "Dimension Soul Charge!"
An explosion of light burst from her palms as energy cascaded from the glowing Crescent down over her body. A dark fog enveloped her as the initial blaze of light faded, whipping like a cyclone around her body. She watched as gloves materialized on her arms, a white bodice appeared on her abdomen, a light green bow blossomed from her chest, and a pair of boots flashed upon her legs. In her palms, the Jade Crescent grew and instinctively Isisu spread her arms until she held a staff in her hands. Amazed, she ran her hands up to the top of the staff and briefly examined the sharp golden spearhead held between the horns of the Crescent, memories beginning to stir.
“This is… the World Spear.” She murmured. Though the wind of her transformation had died away, she still seemed to hear it, and behind the phantom gale there seemed to be a cadence, of drums, or of many marching feet. Instead of fading, the sound grew louder, as though whatever was coming toward her was gaining speed.
Suddenly it hit her. She felt… everything, all at once. She laughed and then she cried and then she giggled. She smiled. She smirked. She frowned before she smiled again. She couldn't help herself; even feeling bad felt wondrous. Whatever dam had held these incredible feelings within her had finally been obliterated by this simple piece of stone.
Not since Mother had died had she felt so alive. Isisu paused at that realization, off balance now under the onslaught of what had become an unstoppable torrent of sensation and memory.
“Oh God, Mother!” Just like a lens refocusing, all the fuzzy details of her dreams returned with great clarity. They weren't just recurring dreams, she was reliving her past, and now she couldn't escape it. She remembered the expressions on her parents' faces as they died and soon after watching helpless as her planet, her home, was overrun and devoured by the Dark Kingdom.
Then there was the failed coup on the Moon Kingdom. The ensuing battle tore planet Ceres apart.
“Lillis, why did you betray Serenity?” Isisu fell to her knees, sobbing, the transformation melting away without fanfare, leaving her feeling suddenly naked and vulnerable. Her heart throbbed heavily as she recalled every vivid detail of Princess Erinios' trial. Her corruption by the Dark Kingdom was obvious to everyone, and Isisu couldn't understand why her dear friend would allow herself and her fellow Ceresians to side with enemies of the alliance. However, no one bothered to even ask that question, and Lillis was found guilty before the trial even started.
Watching her execution had been particularly difficult, especially since it had been Isisu's duty to open the World Gate and place her Starseed on the other side. The bright, floating orb had twinkled at her almost as if the Starseed of her best friend knew this was the last time they'd see one another.
Isisu wiped her streaming eyes with shaking hands, but the tears wouldn't stop coming. She stared blindly around the small apartment for several moments before locating the bed and tottering over to it, feeling weak and feverish.
After she had banished Lillis's Seed to the other side of the Gate, she had decided then that she would never forgive the Dark Kingdom for what they had done. She vowed to use all of her power to defeat them once and for all, with or without Serenity's permission.
Of course, she had been a fool, and she cringed at the memory of fighting the endless stream of demons and monsters Metallia threw at her. She'd been quickly overwhelmed, despite the powers instilled in her by the Guardianship. Beaten, desperate and sick at heart, it felt as though something inside her had snapped. She didn't remember what had happened after that, not until much later. If it hadn't been for Cyrus, there was no telling what the Dark Kingdom would have done to her.
“Cyrus...” The name fell from Isisu's trembling lips, and she squeezed her eyes shut. She wondered whatever had become of her knight in shining armor. She had never been able to tell him how she truly felt or how much her heart sang for him. Was he, like herself and Setsuna, still alive out there somewhere, waiting for her? Was he searching?
“Damn you, Setsuna.” She spat bitterly. That's right, her dear cousin had only stood by and watched as the Queen interrogated and sentenced her. No defense, no pleas, no arguments. No mercy.
“Damn you, Serenity.” Isisu growled, a spasm of hot rage leaving her shaking, with clenched fists and hot, dry eyes now wrung empty of tears. It was only a matter of time before her close relationship with Lillis had drawn the suspicions of the Queen, as what Serenity claimed to be a net of conspiracy grew larger in her mind, if not in reality. She remembered all too well the punishment that had been passed down: banishment for a thousand years in frozen stasis.
On that day, Isisu had ceased to see Serenity as her Queen, had sworn never to serve her or her line again.
They had allowed her a few last moments of freedom before they carried out her sentence. She didn't hesitate to take their offer and visited her home on Charon one last time. She had been filled with so much despair as she walked around the dying, deserted planet, its remaining people long since evacuated by her own order.
When she returned, they had readied her for her icy tomb. Never before had she felt so weak, isolated, and broken. Those emotions soon turned to anger, and she had silently seethed as Queen Serenity, with the help of the ice Senshi, Sailor Mercury, began the sealing incantation.
The last thing she remembered was glaring at her cousin while the ice crept up her body. She had mentally cursed as well as questioned the Time Guardian; why didn't she do anything to prevent this? Why was she fated to suffer like this for all eternity? Setsuna, she realized, had had the same look on her face that day as she'd had tonight, as if there had been things she truly wanted to say, but couldn't. She'd turned away at the very end, as everything went dark.
Then Setsuna's words from earlier that night became clear to her. There was no turning back. Setsuna had been trying to warn her, but she hadn't listened. She had doomed herself again, through her own thoughtlessness and haste. She was now Sailor Dís.
There would never be any turning back again.
`I swear, that girl could wake the dead.' Luna thought as she flattened her ears to try and block out at least some of the snoring and snuggled closer to the window.
It was at times like these that the black cat wished she could transform at will into a human again, as she had been able to do back in the Silver Millennium. At least that way she could open the door and sleep on the couch downstairs. She'd long since gotten used to Usagi's snoring, but on the nights when it seemed the girl was trying to saw down an entire forest, there was no ignoring her.
Luna sighed and peered out the window. Usagi usually only snored like this when she was extremely relaxed or tired, and the feline guessed that she should be thankful that the last year had been relatively quiet. Oh sure, Usagi and the other Sailor Senshi would patrol the city and stop petty crimes as they came upon them, but for the most part each of the girls had begun to focus on their lives and school. Well, at least in Usagi's case, it was her life.
Not long after their ordeal with Sailor Galaxia, things had gone back to the way they'd always been. Ami was still the top of Usagi's class. Makoto continued her martial arts training as well as honing her cooking skills. Rei focused on her priestess duties. Minako was still… Minako…according to Artemis. Mamoru, much as it pained Usagi to allow him to, went back to America to finish his studies. Actually, Luna was pleasantly surprised that Usagi didn't break out in tears the moment Mamoru was gone. She'd half expected the blonde girl to sob herself to sleep much like she had the first time he'd left.
At least those Senshi from the neighboring solar system, the Starlights, weren't here to complicate things this time. That Star Fighter had really messed with Usagi's emotions. Luna stared thoughtfully at the quiet street below, recalling that old Queen Serenity had told her that other Senshi existed all over the universe, some even more powerful than those that served the Moon Kingdom. Of course, Luna had loyally scoffed at the idea; the Moon Kingdom had some pretty powerful Senshi at their disposal. That was until those Starlights appeared, bringing their battle with the corrupted Sailor Galaxia here. To say that Luna felt fortunate that Usagi had been able to break Chaos' influence over Galaxia without having to resort to force was an understatement. Luna doubted even Usagi's Silver Crystal could overcome the immense raw power of the Senshi guardian of the entire universe.
Luna smiled as she laid her head on her paws. Yes, Usagi would make a fine queen, just like her mother, Queen Serenity.
“What's this?” She whispered to herself.
A sudden tingle ran up the feline's spine. She knew this feeling well, since she had felt it before; the same reaction as when Ami, Rei, and Makoto had awakened to their Senshi powers for the first time.
“So, a new Senshi has awakened.” Luna pondered aloud. “But as far as I know, all of the Senshi from this system have awakened. Well, except for…”
Luna's whisper trailed off, her musings left unfinished. Dread crept upon her and weighed down on her shoulders. If she was right, then they had a big problem on their hands. Luna took a quick glance at Usagi and frowned.
`It looks like our little sabbatical is over.' She sighed.
Unlike their past encounters, this new potential threat worried Luna greatly. If indeed one of Queen Serenity's traitors had been awoken, would she regain the memories of her past? If she had, then this Senshi would no doubt be out there seeking revenge, and Luna feared that Usagi would be the prime target.
-End of Chapter 2-
So this took me forever to update. I'm really sorry about that. This one has been on the back burner for awhile mostly because I wasn't sure where to go with it. Fortunately, after some discussions with Setsu-P I finally got a wind of inspiration and filled out the plot. Hooray and there was much rejoicing!
Also, I was worried about this chapter because it felt to me to be a little too chatty. However my aim in this chapter was character development and hopefully I was able to accomplish that. Oh yeah, thanks to Wikipedia once again for providing, I guess, some info on Shinto whether or not it was totally correct. *shrug* I mean I haven't seen a reader yet chide me on culture accuracy.
Anyway, thanks to Setsu-P for providing ideas and such as well as allowing me to bounce them off of her forehead. I'm sure a few Tylenols will take care of that. Plus I'd like to thank her once again for sprucing up the chapter and give it that nice pine forest smell.
Next chapter we'll meet the other Dark Senshi as well as Haruka and Michiru in action while a crazed Ares continues her rampage! Will Dis be able to save the day?
I hoped you enjoyed it! Now it's back to Terrible Things to Waste!
Sailor Moon is owned by Naoko Takeuchi.
All original characters are owned and copyrighted by Setsu-P (c) 2000.
They are being used with owner's expressed permission.
Edit 11/08 - Setsu-P Revised