Sailor Moon Fan Fiction ❯ The Seneschal ❯ Moonshot, 1972 ( Chapter 2 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Author's Note: This may seem a little rough, and that's because it is. I wrote it on the fly. I have quite a lot planned for this character. With her I'm hoping to pull together some of the loose ends in the Sailor Moon universe, both anime and manga, although I may lean more towards manga canon...

Reviews are always welcome!!

Taurus-Littrow Valley, Lunar Surface, December, 1972

The lunar module came to a easy rest under Gene's careful hand. He let out the breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding and thumbed the comm.

"Houston, Challenger has landed."

He glanced around the interior of the module to see how the other two passengers were doing. Jack gave him a thumbs up. The other passenger was gazing at the lunar surface through one of the portholes. Her face looked wistful and sad.

With the success of the previous Apollo missions, and the hair-raising near disaster of Apollo 13, NASA's overall space budget had been subject to cuts. It disgusted Gene. Congress's attitude about the whole thing was 'We already beat the Russians to the moon. What do we need to spend more money on this for?'

Apollo 18 had been scheduled, but then scrapped. Apollo 17 almost followed suit, but a strange investor had stepped forward at eleventh hour with a proposal. The entire mission would be bankrolled by this individual. The catch: take this investor to the moon and leave her there.

NASA officials had balked at this idea. Then after numerous meetings, they finally agreed. The reason was obvious. This was probably going to be the final moon landing, at least for the forseeable future. The benefits to science were just too big to ignore. Let Congress think that NASA had scrounged up the last bit of its budget to fund this final moonshot. Parts of the mission involving the investor were stamped with a bright red 'Top Secret' and then the whole mission was greenlit. This was a condition from the investor.

The investor herself wanted to be completely omitted from all mission data. No video images of her were shot, no pictures taken, nothing. NASA tested her physical conditioning and discovered that she was in better shape than any previous astronaut had ever dreamed of being.

Gene just thought it was all crazy. This woman was crazy. Why pay this kind of money just to commit suicide? She clearly was well connected. She would have to be in order to get as far as this, no matter how rich she may have been. She was a really attractive brown-eyed Asian woman who looked much younger than she said she was. Gene was still incredulous that Mission Command had actually agreed to this. None of the flight crew even knew her name.

The response from Command about the woman's identity was a flat 'You don't need to know.'

They checked each others suit seals one more time before opening the hatch and climbing out. Gene turned to the mysterious passenger as she exited the lander.

"I guess this is it then."

The woman's face was invisible behind the gold sunvisor of the heavy suit.

"Indeed. Thank you for the ride."

"Listen," Gene said, reaching out one thick suited arm to place it on her shoulder. "We do have enough fuel and O2 to make it back to Earth with you aboard. You don't have to stay here."

The other spacesuited figure seemed to regard Gene for a moment.

"Thanks for the offer," Gene's radio returned, "but I have things to do here. I'll be alright."

Gene was flabbergasted. "Lady, we're on the frickin' moon! Once we leave, there won't be anyone coming back! How are you going to be alright??"

"I appreciate your concern," the response came. The other figure held out its hand. "You've been doing an excellent job on this mission, commander. Make sure you all return home safely."

Gene stared at the other figure for a moment. Then he reached out and grasped the offered hand in as firm a handshake as he could.

"Good luck then," Gene said, "I hope you find what you're looking for."

The figure bowed slightly, then released Gene's hand and climbed into one of the lunar rovers. The tires spun silently for a moment before biting into the surface. Then she sped away into the distance, climbing out over the valley edge. Gene watched her receding figure until he could no longer make out her form against the lunar horizon.

"What was that all about?" Jack asked over the radio. He tried to walk over to Gene and succeeded in falling over in the low gravity.

Gene shrugged inside his suit, knowing the other man wouldn't see. Then he activated the lander's transmitter.

"Houston, the cargo has been unloaded."

"Roger that, Challenger," the tinny reply came back.

We're on the moon, Gene mused, Where does she expect to go?

Then the reality hit him.

I'm on the moon.

The feeling of finally achieving a life-long dream left Gene Cernan wanting to giggle like a schoolboy. The reality of this once-in-a-lifetime experience quickly overshadowed any thought he may have had about the mysterious passenger and she was soon forgotten.

Memories flooded Yumiko's mind as she skimmed over the lunar surface in the rover. Memories of great lakes that once filled these gaping empty craters. Of a bluish sky overhead that let the earthlight filter down. Where there was beautiful buildings and classical edifices, now there was nothing but empty desolation. A lonely world that orbited the populous Earth.

She glanced down at her oxygen gauge. Her light breathing exercises had allowed her to ration her oxygen to last far longer than what was normal. She had a lot riding on this. Even someone such as herself still required air to breath. Despite what Gene Cernan might think, she had no intention of dying there on the moon.

It amused Yumiko somewhat, now that she had finally returned to the moon. She had waited over ten thousand years for human technology to reach this point. When that American president had committed the United States to putting a man on the moon in 1962, she knew her opportunity had finally come. Now ten years later, a mere eyeblink to Yumiko, she was finally back.

A Senshi wouldn't have needed to wait. Then again, as Yumiko reminded herself once more, she was not a Senshi. That time was long past.

This trip had only cost her 2.4 billion dollars. In Yumiko's estimation, it was cheap money.

The old landmarks were still visible in the lunar surface as she approached the polar region. The shattered ruins of the old palace jutted up from the grey dirt like the broken bones of some ancient beast. She stopped the rover in front a small cluster of broken columns and got out. There was the entrance she sought. She clumsily brushed the lunar dust from a small control panel.

I hope there's still some juice left in this thing. Death by asphyxiation after ten thousand years would just plain suck.

The panel responded to her suited fingers with a weak light. The symbols on its keys matched nothing ever seen on Earth. As precisely as she could, Yumiko punched in a special sequence. Then she waited.

The silence was deafening. Then she felt the slight vibration in the ground through her thick space suit. Before her, the ground opened up and revealed a large descending staircase that disappeared into the darkness below. She started down the stairs, feeling the vibrations above her as the entrance silently closed.

Darkness for Yumiko was never something she feared. Once it had been her greatest friend. Her long dead queen had once referred to Yumiko as lunar cat because of her ability to move in the dark. Yumiko didn't view it as being able to actually SEE in the dark. More that her eyes were trained to pick up all available light, and her other extraordinary senses took care of the rest. The darkness of eternity rested in the blackened corridor that Yumiko now traversed. To her, however, it was a monochromed three-dimensional image in her mind that she easily followed.

She finally reached the end of the corridor. Before her was a massive slab of polished moonrock. It was easily eighteen feet high and fifteen feet wide. To the side was a small panel that gave off a ghostly light. The queen's vault. The last surviving structure of the Moon Kingdom. In it lay all hope for the kingdom's future. Yumiko slowly unzipped a small pocket in the side of her suit and withdrew a round crystal medallion. She gazed at the medallion in the panel's weak light. She had carried this medallion for over ten thousand years in preparation for this day. Reaching a thick suited hand to the control panel, Yumiko began to type in a code that had been so ingrained in her memory, she couldn't imagine ever forgetting it. Lights suddenly came on around the big vault door and the panel slid open to reveal a round depression.

Here's hoping I have the right key.

Yumiko slid the medallion into the depression.

She felt mighty vibrations in the floor as the heavy vault door soundlessly slid open. Then Yumiko felt a long forgotten heat emanate from her forehead and she saw the familiar glowing silver crescent reflected on the inside of her faceplate. Lights were bathing the inside of the vault. With a warm smile that hadn't graced her features in thousands of years, Yumiko entered the royal vault.

The vault was mostly empty except for several objects. A gold and silver case lay open displaying its contents. It had spaces for eight cylinders of which six were currently occupied with multi-colored pen-like items, each with a special symbol at the top. A pang of sadness briefly flowed through Yumiko's heart as a long buried memory surfaced in her mind like rediscovered relic of the distant past.

Yumiko seethed. The very air surrounding her body seemed darker and heavy as the Queen's Seneschal almost pulsated with fury. Selene shook her head. She understood why Yumiko was so angry and hurt. The normally ice-like demeanor of the other woman was almost legendary for being unflappable. But nobody ever had to face something like this.

"The so-called Council is nothing more than a weakened group of fools who let their fear and greed rule them." Yumiko stated in a cold voice. She whirled on Selene exposing the burning fire in her normally cold expressionless eyes. "I should just take her and-"

"You will do nothing of the sort," Selene said calmly. Yumiko snapped to attention. This wasn't her near-sister Selene speaking. This was the voice of command. The voice of Queen Serenity. "The Council ruled on this issue themselves. And Saturn agreed with them."

"But Selene..."

Selene cut Yumiko off with a raised hand. Her deep blue eyes softened as she gazed at her closest friend. "This was Saturn's decision to go along with it. You must support her in this. It's already hard enough for her."

The anger seemed to flow from Yumiko leaving her looking almost deflated. Her let her hands drop open at her sides and tears fell from her eyes.

"She's still my little girl. My little Juno, Selene. The only thing I've ever done right in this universe." Selene reached out her hands and gently wiped the tears from Yumiko's face.

"I know how much you love her, Yumiko," she said, "what mother wouldn't love their child thus? I am only setting a triple lock upon her Senshi essence. Her soul will still be free. Free to laugh, to love, to be reborn. But she will always have that essence locked deep within her, waiting to be called upon."

Yumiko reached up and took Selene's hands in her own. "Then I know what three people I wish to entrust those keys to..."

No henshin stick for my little girl. Yumiko mused. And a Senshi that never died who carries one of the keys to Saturn's buried essence. Two missing sticks.

She sighed inside her helmet and closed the ornate case. Next to the case was a multi-colored broach of some sort. Yumiko picked it up in her thick gloved hand and looked at it.

This time, Selene, I swear to you that Serena will be strong. When she is reborn, I will make her the Senshi she was always destined to be.

Yumiko bit back a bitter laugh as she closed her hand around the brooch. When she is reborn. That could be tomorrow, or thousand years from now.

Yumiko zipped the brooch into her external spacesuit pocket. There were just two more things she needed to get before it was time to die or go home. She picked up the secured case with the henshin rods and moved further into the depths of the vault.

There they were.

Two glass cylinders with metal caps on each end, lay side by side in a small alcove. Inside each was a small furry creature. Cats. A black one and a white one. Both had golden crescents emblazoned upon their foreheads, and both were curled up and appeared to be fast asleep.

Luna, Artemis. It's been a long time since we last saw each other. It's a good thing you both were put in stasis while in your cat forms.

Yumiko leaned over the white cat's stasis tube. A wry smile formed on her face. We sure made some good memories, didn't we Artemis?

The planetary transporter. It was once the pinnacle of Moon Kingdom technology, representing five centuries of development. It worked by breaking down matter into its component atoms and then beaming those atoms over a focused beam of energy to a designated location on the Earth below. The complexity of such physics went far beyond anything humankind could possibly produce. At least not for another four or five hundred years or so.

The amount of power the system consumed made it impractical for everyday usage, and it just wasn't as efficient as magical teleportation. It really was just a technological attempt at duplicating Senshi capabilities. Yumiko had disliked the original politics that had gone into the transporter's creation, but now she just hoped it had enough juice to send her home, more importantly, send her home with the items she had gathered.

Yumiko glanced at her oxygen gauge as she manipulated the virtual windows on the transporter's display screen.

Well, if it doesn't have the power, then I guess this really will be the world's most expensive suicide.

A dull thrumming vibration echoed through her heavy boots and made her inner ear feel itchy. She finished setting the coordinates into the ancient device, then she jumped up onto the raised platform as it started to glow.

Here goes nothing.

The empty tomb-like vault slowly faded around Yumiko and was replaced with bright sunshine. The hard floor turned into green artificial turf as tall skyscrapers began to fill the surroundings.

Yumiko let out her breath and began to unfasten her bulky helmet. The heavy feeling of inevitable death that had hung over her shoulders for the last decade dissipated. She had done it. She checked the consoles on the two stasis capsules. Both moon cats were still in perfect hibernation. Yumiko sat down heavily on the artificial turf on the outside deck of her Manhattan penthouse.

All that was left now was for the Senshi to be reborn. Yumiko would know when that happened. She would feel the glowing presence of their bright souls as soon as they took their first breaths. Then it would simply be a matter of waiting for them to get old enough.

And waiting was something that Yumiko was an expert at.