As usual, the night
sky flourished in the absence of clouds, but only a tiny slice of it was
visible from a room on the west wing of the hospital. Conversations
and footsteps echoes down the hall, the faint traces of which crept their
way into the room. The scent of various unsavory body fluids cling
to the air, and to the unaccustomed visitor the stench could be overwhelming.
Adam Eastman did not have this problem; he had long gotten used to the
smells, sounds, and sights of this dreadful place. This had become
like a second home to him and each time he looked at the unconscious woman
on the bed next to him, he was immediately reminded of how things came
to be this way.
Four months ago, Adam and Rachel lived relatively happy lives as husband and wife. Like all couples, they had their arguments and differences, but since they truly loved each other, they were able to work their way past the troubles. All that changed on cool autumn night, as Adam was driving Rachel home from a party. Out of nowhere, a car crashed into their vehicle head on, changing his life forever. Surprisingly, he had managed to escape the wreckage with only minor injuries, but fortune was not so kind to Rachel. She had suffered severe head trauma and as a result fell into a coma, never to open her eyes again.
Ever since that fateful night, Adam had been at Rachel’s side whenever he could. The physicians continued to remind him there was almost no chance of her coming out of this eternal sleep, but somehow, Adam knew she would awaken. Days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months. Still he refused to give up hope and watched her lie on the bed. As long as she remained connected to this life, via the life-support machines that performed her autonomous functions, there was a chance that she could come back. They bridged the gap between the realms of life and death. All that was necessary was for her soul to return to this side.
Without warning, something crossed that bridge. Adam, a man firmly rooted in the land of the living, could not feel the presence but it was there. Something more than simply a spirit or a mind traveled across that expanse, something -- no someone -- separated from a body long ago had found the place to make a return to the physical realm. When all was complete the consciousness had settled into the vessel then responded in a fashion to indicate everything was ready.
Rachel opened her eyes.
Adam didn’t believe what he had seen at first and jumped back in surprise. Rachel, though, turned her head to the side and looked directly at her husband.
“Rachel...” he called. He didn’t get a verbal response, but Rachel had her own way of replying. She formed the once stiff, frozen features of her face into a cheerful smile. Adam responded the only way his body would allow, and his lower jaw slowly parted from the rest of his face until his open mouth formed a perfectly round shape. Had the months of being patient and his never ending faith in the power of love somehow paid off?
He wouldn’t know the answer to that right away, for the next he knew, a nurse came in and gasped at the miracle. Several people, nurses, doctors, and other technicians came in not long after that, although it was all a blur to the loving husband. Adam, frozen, looked at his wife as if his life depended on it.
And he kept his gaze on her as he was escorted out of the room.
* * *
Several hours passed
after Rachel’s awakening, and for Adam, those hours lasted even longer
than all the months she had lied unresponsive to him. His faith in
the power of love was rewarded by the restoration of his wife and yet now
he was unable to even see her. To him, the doctors as a whole acted
almost as if they were jealous -- their science was unable to heal her
but Adam’s unchanging love could. In retaliation, they decided to
have him and his wife apart for as long as possible, Adam thought, his
mind caught up in the trap of emotion.
At last, one of the doctors approached him. He was an older gentleman, a specialist in his field. Adam couldn’t think of his name or department right now nor did he care. He only wanted to know one thing and as soon as the doctor came within range, Adam fired off the question that had been locked inside of him for so long.
“Why have you been keeping me from my wife?” he inquired.
“Mr. Eastman, why don’t you sit down?” the doctor insisted, but Adam continued to stand. “Please.” Adam sat down in a chair beside him, and the doctor also sat in a nearby seat.
“Will you tell me what’s wrong with Rachel?”
The doctor didn’t answer immediately, and Adam momentarily thought he would have to jump through a series of hoops to get the answer. “Normally when someone wakes up from a coma, this long, there are bound to be some... problems.”
“You mean she isn’t able to walk, or talk...”
“No, it’s nothing like that at all. She seems to have full control of her motor skills and isn’t having any trouble with any of her senses.” The doctor paused for a second, and Adam’s eyes brightened a little. He was relieved he and his wife would not have to go through the long, difficult process of physical therapy. However, he reminded himself that there was something else wrong, so he kept his emotions in check as the doctor continued. “In fact, she is in near perfect physical condition, which makes the only thing wrong with her even more puzzling.”
“Then what is it?”
“She has amnesia.”
Instantly, all of the color left Adam’s face and it took him a while to find his voice. “Does she remember anything?”
“Nothing,” the doctor answered. “Normally when someone has amnesia this complete, he or she is a blank slate, much like a baby or a child and has to relearn everything from scratch. But with Rachel is able to function as easily as any adult. And there is nothing wrong with her memory after her awakening.”
“So, it’s just like in the movies. She doesn’t remember anything of her past, yet can mysteriously read write and talk without a problem.” He stared at the doctor, and the thought crossed his mind if this was some sick practical joke. However, the old man’s eyes reflected the truth in his words and Adam had no choice but to accept the bitter message.
“Since we can find nothing physically wrong with her, we suspect the problem may be psychological in origin.”
“Which means?” Adam asked.
“There isn’t anything we can do for you.”
Those words hit Adam with the force of a meteor. “I see...”
“We’re going to release her from the hospital.” Upon those words the doctor stood up. “Even though she may look like your wife, she isn’t the same person you fell in love with and married. The woman you loved is gone, possibly forever.” He then walked away, leaving to deal with the burden that had been dumped on him.
A solitary, silent tear rolled down Adam’s cheek.
* * *
After Rachel was released
from the hospital, Adam tried to ignore the inevitable phantom reminders
between this woman and the person he had cared for. Although he knew
this was a different person, he could not completely escape the shadow
of his wife. There were times when Rachel would smile a certain way,
or turn her head in a familiar fashion, and Adam could momentarily believe
that this was the woman he loved so dearly. Yet this was not the
same person whom he had married, and despite how hard this new woman tried
to fill the role of her predecessor, a priceless essence had been eternally
Never was this more clear than on one early Sunday morning. Adam started his day with his normal ritual of drinking a large glass of orange juice. Slowly, he stumbled to the refrigerator and opened the door, finding the juice carton in its rightful spot on the top shelf.. He lifted the container of juice and found it to be extremely light. Opening the carton, the reason for the lack of resistance became apparent -- there was only a tiny amount of juice left, not even enough to fill an eighth of his glass. Frustrated, he decided that he would instead eat a bowl of cereal, and quickly poured. Going to the refrigerator again, he picked up the milk carton, expecting to feel the weight of the liquid inside. Once again, though, he found that container was nearly empty as well.
Rachel used to tell him when they were running out of essential items such as milk. Now, he had to check for these things, or else he would find himself in the situation he was currently in. He was certain that there was plenty of milk and juice yesterday, though, and couldn’t figure out when he had used either up.
“What’s wrong?” Rachel asked, startling him for a moment. He had heard her approach, so it was not her presence that gave him a shock but her attire. She wore the flower-patterned bathrobe he had given her for her birthday a few years ago. It was a robe she had avoided after coming home from the hospital, but had worn every day before the accident.
Adam pushed past his surprise to answer, “We’re out of milk and juice.”
“Oh.” She drew near him began to lightly massage his shoulders, her touch as comfortable to him as his own. “And I know much you like a glass of orange juice in the morning.” It was frightening how much she sounded and acted like her old self, which had hypnotic effect on him.
“Yeah.” His reply was empty, as his mind was too preoccupied to lend his mouth any words. Rachel ceased to rub his shoulders, and Adam turned around to face her.
“Why don’t you go to the store and get some more? I’ll be okay by myself.” She looked into his eyes, giving him reassurance. “It’s only going to be for a few minutes anyway.”
Adam froze in indecision. He didn’t want to leave his wife alone in the house in the condition she was in, but there was no reason why he had to be by her side all the time. She didn’t seem suicidal, nor, other than her amnesia, were there any medical problems that required him to attend to her twenty-four hours a day. Eventually there would come a time where he would have to leave her on her own for extended periods of time and he had to prepare himself for those times.
“I promise I’ll be back,” he said, giving Rachel a kiss on the cheek before running out of the door. Rachel locked the door behind him and watched Adam start his car through the window. She waited for him to pull out of the driveway before taking any further action. Moving swiftly, she picked up the phone and dialed a number. After a couple of rings, someone picked up the receiver on the other end.
A low male voice answered the phone. “Hello?”
Her eyes flashed white as she began, “We have to talk....”
* * *
The Cherry Hill Temple
did not have the distinction for being a romantic spot, but recently a
couple had been changing its reputation. Serena and Darien had just
finished a passionate kiss, one of many they had been giving each other
recently. Raye, Mina, Amy, and Lita looked on from a short distance
away, sitting at their usual spot on the porch.
“Look at those lovebirds,” Raye remarked. “I’ve never seen Serena happier.”
Amy countered, “But it seems to me she shouldn’t focus so much on Darien and put more energy into her studies.”
Raye gave Amy a sly look. “Do I sense a little jealousy on your part, Amy?”
“No. Just concern.” Amy then produced a folded piece of paper and handed it to Raye. “If you took a look on this, I think you’ll agree with me.” Raye cautiously opened the paper, unsure of why it would affect Amy so much. Almost instantly after looking at it, she gasped, causing Lita to come over to see what the fuss was about. It was one of Serena’s recent tests, and the score was an all-time low.
“She got a five!” Lita and Raye cried at the same time. Their voices were loud enough to break Serena away from Darien.
“Hey!” Serena shouted as she ran over to her friends, snatching the test paper out of their hands. She crumpled it into a ball and threw it to the ground before going back to Darien. The others were momentarily stunned by what they’d seen, and it took Raye several seconds to break the silence.
“She can be such a dunce sometimes,” Raye admitted, “but still I envy her in a way.”
“Why?” Amy asked.
“Despite all the pressure of school, she has someone who’ll stand by her to the end. And what do we have?”
“Each other!” Lita proudly exclaimed. “We don’t need boyfriends.”
“This is from someone who gets a crush on just about every guy she meets,” Raye remarked. Amy and Lita laughed at Raye’s comment, remembering all of situations they had gotten in due to Lita’s several infatuations. After a few seconds, the three noticed Mina did not react at all to the statement; in fact, for most of the day she had been conspicuous by her silence.
“Mina,” Lita asked, “you’ve been pretty quiet, are you okay?”
“Yeah,” she answered quietly. “I’m just thinking.”
“Nothing in particular.” Mina’s voice contrasted with her words, as it was apparent the issue she had on her mind was weighty indeed. Suddenly, without any indication whatsoever she stood up and left her spot on the porch.
“I think I should head home, ” Mina said and began to walk away, to the surprise of Amy, Lita, and Raye.
“Mina!” Amy called.
Raye echoed Amy’s concern, shouting. “You can’t leave! We’re supposed to go to the mall together.”
“I’m just not up to it,” Mina replied, not even turning around or stopping. “I’ll catch you later.” The others were saddened, but her manner that indicated the issue was not up for discussion. All they could do was look on and wish that they could help with whatever matter was bothering her.
* * *
Artemis lied on the
floor in Mina’s room, sound asleep. Normally, he accompanied Mina
everywhere she went, but today he and Luna were investigating a potential
threat from the Negaverse. Artemis didn’t feel like working, especially
on a day as nice as today, but if it meant being near Luna it was worth
it. Unfortunately, instead of getting closer to the female feline,
he ended up in one scrape after another that required Luna to rescue him
repeatedly. To make matters worse the lead the two had been following
turned out to be nothing extraordinary at all, so the day had been a total
waste. He went back to Mina’s house and decided to wait for her to
Mina came back much earlier than he had expected, her countenance far from the usual bright expression she nearly always wore. Immediately, Artemis woke up and upon seeing her face filled with worry.
“What’s wrong?” Artemis asked. “You haven’t looked this sad since you found out they canceled the next Sailor V sequel.”
“I don’t know, Artemis,” Mina answered as she sat down at her desk. “It’s just that I don’t feel I really belong.”
“Belong? You mean with the others.”
“Yeah. Serena’s the leader of the group, Amy’s the brains, Raye’s the fire and Lita’s the strong one. But what do I contribute?”
“You’re the pretty one,” he joked.
Mina took his answer all too seriously. “That’s the problem. My attacks aren’t all that strong, and I’m not as sharp as I used to be. When I first met up with the other Sailor Scouts, I was able to keep up the pretense that I was the one who knew what to do and held the team together, especially since Serena at the time didn’t want to be leader. But now that she’s accepted her role, I really don’t have a purpose anymore.” She slowly swung her head to the right until she was looking out of the window. Her attention wasn’t on what was outside. “Maybe I should go solo again. You remember those times Artemis, when it was just you and me, as Sailor V? At least then I wasn’t a nobody.”
“You aren’t a nobody now either.” Artemis leapt upon the windowsill so he could get a direct view of Mina, who pretended not to notice him. “You’re beautiful, athletic, intelligent, and you can do things most people could only dream of.” She continued to ignore him, but Artemis wasn’t going to give up on her. “Most importantly, you are a Sailor Scout and you will always be one no matter what.”
Mina turned her head to face him. “Do you really mean that?”
“Of course I do.”
“Thank you,” she said, filled with a warm reassurance last her the entire night. For the first time that day, a smile appeared on her face.
* * *
The effect of Artemis’
comforting words wore off, for the next day Mina's previous thoughts once
again returned as she walked home from school. While normally she
would go to her friends, it would only make her feel more dependent upon
them. All she wanted to do was get home as quickly as possible.
Fortunately, she didn’t have any plans for the day, so she wouldn’t have
to interact with them in person. Before she could think of what she
could do instead, a voice grabbed her attention, a voice with a simple,
but distinct message.
Immediately, Mina ran toward the source of the cry. She had trouble finding the person at first, but when she ducked into an alley, she knew she had located the cause of the distress. A pack of four dogs had cornered a small, young brunette -- a child no older than six-- and snarled at her menacingly. The girl was so shaken she couldn’t even cry for help again, and she pressed her body against the building behind her as hard as she could. Already, parts of the child’s school uniform were torn, and Mina though she could see a similar colored cloth hanging from the mouth of one of the dogs. It was only a matter of time the animals mauled her, so Mina knew she had to act quickly. She set her book bag on the ground and pulled out her transformation stick from a hidden compartment. Not even forming a plan in mind, she braced herself for the change that was about to occur.
“Venus Star Pow--” Before she could finish the phrase, a young man approached the scene from the opposite direction. His long, dark brown hair was pulled back loosely into a ponytail, the end of which rested on the back of his denim jacket. The rest of his attire, which comprised of a T-shirt and pair of jeans, seemed to fit perfectly with his image, and infatuation swiftly overcame Mina. It was clear from the expression on his face that he was here to help the girl, but he hadn’t seen Mina, and the teenager remembered she had an identity to keep secret. Mina stuffed her transformation wand back into her book bag and watched the scene develop with the interest of a spectator.
The pack of dogs left their quarry and rushed over to the newcomer, surrounding him in the same fashion. They bared their teeth and growled at him at first, but his steely gaze shot straight through their menacing appearances. Mere seconds later, their threatening stances were replaced by more submissive ones, and the pack of dogs simply walked away.
“Thank you, mister,” the girl said.
The man knelt down to the girl’s level. “Now tell your brother to quit messing with those dogs,” he instructed.
His answer amazed both Mina and the girl, but the latter inquired, “How did you know that?”
“Because I know everything.” The girl laughed at the statement, and Mina smiled as well. “And I know you’re a good girl. So you’ll give your brother the message?”
“Yes, sir!” the girl ran away with the speed of youth, but this time her legs were powered by relief, not fear. The man was about to do the same thing when he caught a glimpse of Mina. While she was beautiful, her appearance was not what caught her attention. There was something about her, something special that drew him closer to her and compelled him to take more than a second glance at her.
At the same time, Mina knew this was no ordinary man. As the two neared each other, she could tell he was not yet an adult, but a teenager only a few years older than herself. His eyes were the same color as his hair but there seemed to be a touch of sadness in them as in her own.
“Hi,” Mina greeted, taking the first step. “What’s your name?”
“Cain. Cain Rand.”
“I’m Mina. Pleased to meet you.” She extended her hand, and he shook it with a manner that was both firm and gentle. “You seem to have a way with animals.”
“It’s just something that comes to me.” An uncomfortable silence followed as he was not certain of what to say next. Mina, on the other hand, wanted to keep this conversation going as long as possible.
“Do you think those dogs will be back?”
“No,” he answered with an assurance that was almost too confident for Mina. “If you’re really that worried I can walk you home.”
Mina began to answer by telling him that she could take care of herself, but remembered that this was the chance she was waiting for. “Sure.” She was about to pick up her book bag when he approached it to pick it up for her. Wordlessly she insisted on carrying her book bag, which somehow felt less heavy in the company of this young stranger.
* * *
A short distance away
Serena, Raye, Luna, and Artemis, walked down a sidewalk with the latter
two held in the arms of the two girls. While the cats would
prefer to walk on their own, it was easier to talk this way without drawing
“What was so important that it couldn’t wait until I finished my Sailor V game?!” Serena asked her companions with more than a faint trace of annoyance.
“It’s about Mina,” Artemis answered. “I’m beginning to worry that she might do something drastic.”
“You’re worried about her? She seems fine to me.” Luna and Raye both came very close to scolding Serena for her thoughtlessness, but Artemis spoke before the two of them could do so.
“Mina hasn’t been feeling too happy recently. She’s starting to doubt her abilities and her role in the team. That’s why I suggested the two of you give her a pep talk.”
“Say!” Serena exclaimed, pointing at a couple -- a young blonde in a school uniform and a dark-haired man -- across the street. Instantly the four recognized the blonde as Mina. “There she goes over there. I wonder who the guy--”
Serena didn’t complete her sentence for suddenly, Luna and Artemis leapt out of the girls’ hands and ran toward Mina and Cain. Surprised by the felines’ strange behavior, Serena and Raye went after the cats as fast as their feet would allow. When the two cats reached the couple they leapt on Cain with such a force that he was knocked on the ground. Quickly, Serena and Mina pulled their respective cats off of Cain, but not before Artemis tore the left sleeve of his jacket completely off.
“Are you okay?” Mina asked Cain while keeping a firm grip on Artemis.
“Yeah,” he responded while he stood up. “I was just caught off guard that’s all.”
“I’m sorry for what just happened. Artemis hasn’t gotten his shots yet.” Mina didn’t even have to look down to know what face Artemis had made at the word “shots.”
“So he’s your cat?”
“Unfortunately, yes.” She surveyed the damage Artemis had done to Cain’s attire. “Listen, I’ll replace the jacket--” Her offer was immediate and sincere, but Cain shook his head, notifying her there was no need for compensation.
“Don’t worry. I never really cared about this jacket all that much anyway.” He could still tell the matter was still bothering her and wanted to get her mind off of it. “Besides, you have to introduce me to your friends.”
“Serena, Raye. This is Cain.” Raye lifted her hand in a slight wave and nodded. Serena, on the other hand was staring at Cain’s exposed upper arm. There was a series of discolored marks on his skin and from what she could tell it looked as if it were a scar from an animal bite.
“Quite a big scar you have there,” Serena commented.
“Serena!” Raye and Mina shouted at the same time.
Cain hadn’t given the remark a second thought. “It’s quite all right,” he assured. “I’ve heard worse.”
“So what were you two doing?” Serena asked.
“He was just walking me home,” Mina replied.
“Ah. And now we’re here...” Serena finally realized that she and Raye had interrupted the two of them.
Cain saw this as his cue to exit. “It seems I’d better get going,” he said. “I don’t think any dogs will be bothering you, especially with two fierce protectors like these.”
“Yeah!” Serena shouted enthusiastically. “We’ll take it from here!”
“Serena, I think he was referring to the cats,” Mina explained.
“Oh.” Serena looked down on the ground in embarrassment for a moment, but quickly recovered with a laugh.
Mina turned to Cain. “I’m sorry for everything that happened today,” she apologized. “I hope to see you again.”
“You will. I’ll see you around.” Serena, Raye, and Mina then continued on the latter’s course as Cain headed in the other direction. Once they had covered a sizable distance, the three girls turned their attention to Luna and Artemis.
“Why did you attack him like that?” Mina asked Artemis and Luna in a soft, but angry voice.
The male cat answered, “Because there’s something fishy about that guy!”
“I’m serious. If you don’t believe me, ask Luna.”
“Didn’t you sense anything, Raye?” Luna asked.
“No,” Raye answered. “Why do you ask?”
“I didn’t like his scent. There was something off about it.”
“That doesn’t give you the right to just attack people,” Serena scolded. “After all, you thought Amy was Negaverse agent once, and you were wrong then.”
Artemis replied, “This is different. This wasn’t just intuition. There was something about him that set us off.”
Serena had the final word on the issue. “The next time you want to play ‘Attack of the Killer Moon Cats’ make sure it’s with someone who deserves it, like Sammy.”
* * *
The dark-haired woman
positioned herself in front of a mirror to comb her hair, yet the only
thing on her mind was how to proceed in her current scheme. While
the Sailor Scouts had nothing to fight, it was this inactivity that disturbed
her. From experience, she knew that an idle mind could easily find
out about a plan by accident, and she also knew the Sailor Scouts, even
in times of peace, always kept their eyes out for anything suspicious.
Thus she had to act now, and keep them occupied as she went along with
her business unnoticed.
She wished she still had the ability to create monsters by sheer will power, but found that she had a new power which would do just fine. By concentrating her energy, she could summon a spirit of warrior --human or not-- that had been slain. That spirit would obey any command she gave it without question, and she could finish what needed to be done.
There were a few limitations to this ability, the first being that she could only summon one spirit at a time. Worse yet once it finished whatever task she had in store for it, it immediately vanished, and she couldn’t call on it again. Fortunately, there were thousands of spirits she could call on. The biggest limitation, though, was that she could only call upon spirits, intangible beings who by themselves were useless in the physical realm. Had she had the option, she would have picked a person who could conjure demons, physical living creatures that dwelled in the underworld, as well as spirits, but entities such as her had to work with what they could get.
That’s what she intended to do.
“Spirit Sagittarius, come forth.”
A creature several feet taller than her appeared in ray of light. Carrying a bow and arrow, Sagittarius resembled the various visual representations his human head arms and torso ending with an equine set of legs and rear. The woman had read about legendary centaur, and learned that it was a brutal opponent. Now its spirit was free, and present in this realm. Sagittarius was solid to her, but a quick glance to the mirror showed that the creature was as invisible as the air between them.
“Find a suitable host and take him over.” The spirit ascended, passing through the ceiling as if it were not there. Only a few seconds later, Adam entered the room through a door on the opposite side of where she sat.
“Rachel?” he asked. “Is everything okay?” In response, the woman approached him and hugged him in a loveless embrace, resting her head on his shoulder.
“Everything is fine.” Her eyes flashed white once again. “Just fine.”
* * *
On a two-dimensional
plane, two of the Sailor Scouts were engaged in a lethal encounter on a
narrow bridge. Sailor Mars faced her eternal rival, Sailor Moon,
in a battle to the bitter end. Mars, though severely outclassed,
would not let herself fall to such a lowly warrior as Sailor Moon.
Pulling out a piece of paper, Mars leapt in the air, attempting to place
it on her adversary’s head. Sailor Moon retaliated with a kick that
knocked Sailor Mars off the edge, and Mars fell to her death screaming.
It was only another win on an incredible streak in the arcade game Sailor Fighter X, but to Mina and Cain, this was more than a friendly contest. Fighter’s pride was at stake -- Sailor Fighter’s pride that is.
“On behalf of the moon I have punished you,” Cain gloated, repeating the winning quote that came up on the screen.
“Yeah,” Mina answered. “That’s only because I let you win.” She put her two tokens into the machine, ready to fight once again.
“You’ve already lost eight times.” Cain selected Sailor Moon, the same character he had chosen for the previous matches. “Soon it will be Cain: nine, Mina: love.”
“Not so fast. I’m playing serious now because I’m picking my best character.” She moved the selection box over to Venus, then held down the Jab and Start buttons at the same time. Instead of Venus showing up as the character selected, though, Sailor V appeared on the screen.
“Oh, so you want to play like that?” he asked with a smile.
They waited for the announcer in the game to finish the introduction and commenced the fight. The battle was one-sided, as Sailor V easily countered Sailor Moon’s attacks with unstoppable combos. Less than ten seconds later the fight was over, and Sailor V was laughing at her fallen opponent.
“No fair!” Cain shouted. “Even the computer doesn’t do that!”
“Ha! Excuses, excuses.” She shook her head and waved her index finger in the air. Round two was no different, with Sailor V completely dominating the match between her and Sailor Moon.
“I want a rematch.” Cain placed two more coins into the machine.
“Your loss.” All of a sudden beeping sound came from her pocket. Mina had placed her communicator there, out of the sight of any curious onlookers. To anyone else it was just a message that could wait, but for Mina it was a summons she could not refuse. “Um, listen. I’m sorry but I have to go.”
Cain had heard the noise, but pretended as if he hadn’t and fired one last barb at Mina. “Afraid it was a fluke?”
“No,” she replied. “I’m afraid I’ll beat you even worse next time. Until then, bye!” She ran off so quickly that Cain didn’t even get the chance to say good-bye.
“Strange girl,” he muttered while he returned to the game.
* * *
Once Mina found a secluded
spot outside she pulled out her wrist communicator. It was blinking,
which meant that there was no incoming message, but instead gave a coordinate
where the message originated. This feature came in handy in situations
when sending a verbal message was impossible in battle, and was used more
and more often lately. Looking around to make sure she would be seen,
Mina pulled out her transformation stick and said the three magic words
to initiate her metamorphosis.
“Venus Star Power!”
The next thing she knew Mina found herself in a strange, but familiar area where bubbles flew all around her. It wasn’t any surprise to her, though, as this happened every time she transformed. She was all alone in what she liked to think as her own pocket universe, a place where she could enter an ordinary human and emerge as a confident warrior.
Mina slowly swung the wand around her, waving it in a carefree but graceful manner. She took her time, knowing when the transformation finished it would be as if no time had passed in the real world. Stars flowed from the similarly shaped end of the stick, lined up on a golden belt. After waving it around a few times, the stream of stars stopped, and the belt of stars fell to the ground. Upon impact, the belt disintegrated, allowing the stars to rise freely, showering Mina in a golden light as her Sailor Scout uniform covered her body. Once this was done she placed her right hand in the air and her left hand across her stomach, before returning to the normal world. No longer Mina, she was Sailor Venus, and she had to get to the other Scouts.
Getting to the battle scene only took a few minutes, as it was in the nearby vicinity. In her sailor uniform, traffic literally stopped for Venus, and the other obstacles she encountered she easily maneuvered her way around. Finally, she arrived at the scene of the battle and spotted the disturbance, a centaur with a bow and arrow. The other Scouts, all appearing to be in good shape, surrounded the centaur. Had the Scouts been in trouble, she would have fired her chain at the creature without hesitation. Seeing that they were doing fairly well, she decided to join them first and see if they had any helpful information for her.
Sailor Moon was the first to notice Venus approach them, shouting, “Venus! You’re here.”
“Yeah,” she replied casually. “What’s the deal on this creature? Is it something we’ve dealt with before?”
“It’s a human,” Mercury stated, the tinted blue visor over her eyes.
Venus eyed her teammate suspiciously. “What are you talking about?”
“According to my visor, this monster is really a human male, but some force has taken over his body.”
“You mean this creature is really a man possessed by an evil spirit?”
“Then let’s do some exorcising.”
Once again, Venus was in another pocket universe, but this one was different than the last. This area was full of orange and yellow light, yet it was full of bubbles like the one before. She lifted her arms then brought them down to her sides, summoning an almost endless chain which spiraled around her as it ascended. Venus then lifted her right arm, the chain coordinated with her movements.
“Venus Loves Cain...Encircle!” she shouted as she brought her right arm forward. She was oblivious of her Freudian slip, but the chain shot toward the enemy regardless. Sagittarius grabbed the chain and snapped it, but by doing so the creature left itself open for another attack.
The others quickly picked up where Venus left off. “Mercury Bubbles Blast!” A disorienting mist pervaded the area, hiding the Scouts in a cloak of white.
By this time, Sailor Mars had a slender piece of paper in her hand and held it between her fingers. “Mars Fireballs Charge.” She leapt and placed the paper on the forehead of the centaur, who was unaware of her presence until it was too late. Sagittarius was completely paralyzed, and only one more action had to be performed to end this battle.
“Do it Sailor Moon!” Mars shouted.
“Moon Crystal Healing Activation!” The spirit of Sagittarius was no match for the healing light of the crystal, and the centaur cried out in pain as it reverted to human form. Unlike their previous adversaries who had been healed, the man did not pass out, but he did fall to his knees. All of the Scouts surrounded him immediately, both concerned if he was all right and ensuring that he had been totally healed.
“Are you okay?” Mercury asked.
“Yeah,” he answered as he got to his feet. “Everything seems to be a blur. Do any of you happen to know what time it is?”
“We don’t carry watches,” Moon replied.
“Oh great! I’m going to be late for my meeting.” He immediately dashed off . All of the Scouts except Sailor Moon turned away, but Sailor Moon couldn’t believe what just happened.
She asked herself aloud, “After all of that the only thing he can think about is a meeting?” She then turned back to her comrades, but in the short period of time she had let them out of her sight, a situation had developed that required her attention.
“What was that about back there?” Mars demanded.
“What do you mean?” Venus asked.
“I know you and Cain are close,” Mercury scolded, “but you can’t let it interfere with our mission.”
Venus asked once more, “What are you talking about?”
Mercury let out a sigh. “Instead of saying ‘Venus Love Chain’, you said “Venus Loves Cain’.”
Mars seemed even more angered by Venus’ ignorance than the actual error. “Venus,” Mars ordered, “you have to get your head out of the clouds and your heart back into the fight.”
Jupiter stepped to Venus’ defense and said, “Lighten up, Mars. It’s not as if you’ve never messed up on an attack name before.”
“Hey! Hey!” Sailor Moon shouted while stepping in between her fellow Scouts. “We’re a team. We beat the bad guys and then we go on with our normal lives. Let’s drop this, okay?”
Everyone nodded in agreement and remained silent, but even Sailor Moon knew the issue was far from resolved.
* * *
Despite the indication
of calendars around the hemisphere indicating that the autumn season was
in session, summer continued to linger on in protest. Warm, fresh
air flowed past those enjoying the day in Fairview Park, a place which,
like the weather, remained in place despite the long forgotten decree calling
for its destruction. Plants everywhere took advantage of the rebellious
mood by continuing to have their leaves shine their brightest green, acting
in defiance of Mother Nature’s authoritarian rule. This attitude
did not go unnoticed by the many couples, who enjoyed the fruit of this
Mina and Cain were among those couples. Mina hung onto Cain’s right arm, her purse out of the way on her outer shoulder. Her male companion could not keep from smiling slightly as he looked down on the girl. So many thoughts went through both of their minds, so much each wanted to tell the other but were afraid to. Their apprehension manifested itself into silence. Silence was a comfortable companion, but it was a third entity among the two young people, and its overextended visit with this couple was soon to come to an end.
“You know, “ Cain said at last, ushering out the quiet, , “you remind me of one of the goddesses.”
“Goddesses?” Mina asked. “I had no idea you were into mythology.”
“So which one?”
“Aphrodite, goddess of beauty and love.”
Mina was flattered, but could not help but ask, “Why couldn’t it be her Roman counterpart, Venus?”
A few small wrinkles appeared on Cain’s brow. “No, that name reminds me too much of the planet, and the Sailor Scouts.”
“You don’t like the Sailor Scouts?” She stopped, bringing him to a halt as well, and turned to face him. “But we were just playing Sailor Fighter the other day.”
“Don’t misunderstand me. I love the game and the entire series.” He let out a slight sigh. “I can’t say the same for the group themselves. There’s something strange about how they appear just when some trouble arises.”
“They’re superheroes,” Mina answered all too readily.
“Really?” He finally turned to face her directly. “Who knows? They could be creating those monsters just to stop them and gain our confidence.”
“Now you’re starting to sound like Janet Vaughn.” Mina had meant the comment as a joke, but when she studied his face, she noticed he wasn’t taking it lightly. There was a dangerous look in his eyes. It wasn’t outright hatred, but Mina could see a glimpse of the anger that flowed beneath the surface. At the same time, Cain could almost feel the pain on Mina’s face, not knowing until that moment he how deeply he had hurt her.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to offend you. It’s just the name of the planet, even the symbol sets me off.” Mina took a mental note of this and told herself to make sure would never see any of her magical items. They walked a bit further before Cain spoke again.
“Why don’t you come over my house?”
“You mean now?” she asked.
“Whenever you want.”
“Do you think your parents would mind?”
“No. As I said, it’s my house.”
For a second time, Mina stopped in shock, causing him to interrupt his forward progress. “You have your own house?”
“Actually, it’s my aunt’s. She travels across the world and she’s never around, so she lets me stay there.”
“And your parents?”
“My mother died when I was young.” Mina listened carefully as he began to shed light on his past. “My father and I grew distant after that. For the past few years only drop in every once in a while. He pays most of the expenses in case you’re wondering, but he doesn’t have a clue...” He wanted to say more, to tell her everything about him, but he could tell what she had already heard was almost too much. “I don’t mean to unload all this on you.”
“That’s all right,” Mina replied. “Most of my friends also have family issues. I’m one of the few with a normal life.” Normal as a Sailor Scout’s can get, she wanted to add so desperately. Before she could even chide herself for even allowing a thought to come to mind, a slight gust of wind caught her attention. A teenager in a hooded sweatshirt had run past, so sudden that she almost didn’t notice him. In fact, she wouldn’t have if she hadn’t noticed that her shoulder was unusually light. Her eyes darted to her shoulder and widened as the sole object that was supposed to be there was missing.
“My purse!” She used her hands to feel for her purse, but there was nothing there for her to hold. Reaching out to Cain, she nearly lost her balance as she grabbed at the empty air where she expected him to be. She looked up to see him running after the hooded teenager.
“Cain!” she shouted. “Wait!”
Her cries were in vain, for even if he heard her he was not about to give up the chase. While Cain never lost sight of the situation, to him this was a hunt, with the stolen purse being the prize. The young man was obviously a novice thief, one who had never snatched a purse in his life. Cain showed him no mercy in his pursuit, the distance between predator and prey shortened by the second. The thief, sensing his time was running out, turned his head to look behind him and found Cain ready to over take him in a matter of seconds. Panicked, he ran out into the street and headed for an alley, which he hoped would provide him with an escape.
Unfortunately for him, the alley was a dead end.
The thief froze as Cain slowly closed in on him. Running was no longer an option for the rogue, and certainly he would be no match in a physical fight. The only choice left was surrender, and the thief took the stolen purse in hand extending his arm in an offertory fashion and began to plead for his safety. “Please....take it. I’d have given it back. I only took it on a dare. I promise never to do it again.”
Cain snatched the purse from the thief’s shaking hand. The thief was cornered, with no place to go, and Cain had the urge to ensure his declaration to repent with a physical message. He was stopped, though, but the sound of slightly rapid breaths behind him. Turning around, he found Mina, who finally caught up with him. The young rogue used her entrance as a distraction and ran for his life, but neither Cain nor Mina cared at that point. Both were caught up in the moment of actually seeing that no harm had come to the other. Cain then handed the purse back to Mina, and she laid it back on her shoulder.
“Thank you...” She wanted to say more, but a noise from inside her purse caught her attention. Her communicator was alerting her once again, and there was no telling how long the signal had been on. She gave Cain a look of sweet sorrow, and he recognized the look all to well.
“Don’t tell me you have to leave again,” he said.
Mina nodded. “I’m sorry.” Like the thief before her, she made her exit with speed and silence, and the once defiant air was now tainted with the touch of loneliness.
* * *
“Moon Crystal Healing
A gentle radiance cane from the Silver Crystal, returning an angelic creature to the form of a young woman. Upon the fading of the light, a new figure emerged, this one in a Sailor Scout uniform. She approached the Sailor Scouts, ready to give them some aid.
“Venus!” Mercury exclaimed.
“Sorry for being late,” Venus apologized.
“Late?!” Mars screamed. “You’re more than late! The battle is over!”
“Cool it, Mars,” Jupiter ordered.
“I’m sure she has a perfectly reasonable explanation,” Moon assured Mars before turning to Venus. “Right?”
She wanted to explain to them what had happened, but something inside her told her that she would be in for more of a verbal thrashing if she did. She lowered her head and replied, “No.” Mercury, Jupiter, and Moon instantly fell silent.
Mars, though, would not let her off the hook so easily. “You were with him weren’t you?”
Venus lifted her head and stared intently at her accuser. “Yes, I was.”
“So, I see.” Mars put her hands to her hips and narrowed her eyes. “You were so busy with your boyfriend that you ignored your communicator.” Those words pierced Venus to the core of her being, but she resisted the temptation to react in a violent manner.
Sailor Moon couldn’t believe this accusation. “It wasn’t like that, was it?” she asked Venus.
Venus turned her head away from Moon, not wanting to face the leader. “It doesn’t matter if it was, or if it wasn’t. The effect is still the same. I failed you, all of you.” She pushed past the group and started to walk down the sidewalk, with the intention of never returning to them.
Sailor Moon called out to her. “Venus! Wait!” Her words had no effect, for Venus continued walking away from the group. Sailor Moon the others wordlessly looked on before walking in the opposite direction.
* * *
It was a mundane study
hall for Lisa, for as usual, she has done all her homework earlier.
Instead of listening to her weary eyes and going to sleep, she intended
to pursue her self-appointed task, to find out the whereabouts and motives
of the creature known as Evelyn. Ever since the being had been driven
from her body, Lisa could still sense that Evelyn was still around, lying
in wait. This feeling was weak, though, so Lisa dismissed it as
a product of her imagination until a few days ago, when the presentiment
moved itself to the forefront of her mind. Something big was going
to happen, and it was going to happen soon. Lisa hoped she could
find out in time before it was too late.
She stared straight ahead at the blank blackboard, but her mind wasn’t there. What are you hiding? she asked mentally. She knew Evelyn had something powerful in mind, something so secret that not even her former host was in on the secret. But Lisa continued to push her way past Evelyn’s defenses, searching for anything that would help her figure out what she was up to. Then an image of the moon flashed in her mind. It was round, bright, and full, but nothing was unusual about it. Finally, the meaning of what she had seen was made clear to her and she gasped, fixing the eyes of her classmates upon her. She didn’t care about their stares. She had to contact Serena or one of the others and tell them about the breakthrough as soon as possible.
* * *
With the exception
of Mina, Serena and her fellow teammates were gathered at the temple.
None of the normal high spirits that accompanied this congregation, and
although Serena wanted to believe it was because this meeting was so unexpected,
she knew that without Mina, nothing was quite the same. A figure
from a distance was approaching them and Serena had hoped it was Mina.
All too quickly though, she recognized the figure as Lisa and tried to
put her disappointment behind her.
“I’ve got some bad news,” Lisa informed as soon as she arrived at the rendezvous point.
Serena asked, “What is it?”
“I know what Evelyn is planning to do.”
“Evelyn?” Lita asked. “I thought she was history.”
“No. You merely pushed her out of me, but now she’s in another host.”
Amy wasn’t sure what Lisa was driving at. “Another host?” she asked “Do you mean another person?”
“Yes. Evelyn is like a parasite jumping from host to host, though she can survive independent of one for infinite amounts of time. She can’t take over an unwilling host, so she either has to find a living body without a mind or slowly convince the host to let her take over. Either way, she can tap into her hosts’ dormant abilities...”
“Now everything makes sense!” Raye shouted, cutting Lisa off. “She’s the one sending those creatures.” Everyone gave Raye a look of disapproval, and she blushed with embarrassment. “I’m sorry I interrupted you. Were you saying something?”
“No,” Lisa answered. “It wasn’t important.”
Serena spoke next. “You say you know what she’s planning to do. But that isn’t bad news. So tell us.”
“She’s going to unite the Selenians.”
“The Selenians?” Serena’s face shouted confusion. “Who or what are they?”
Luna, who had been quiet until now spoke up. “They were Mona’s followers during the rebellion on the Moon. But Serenity banished them to the Earth.” She stared at Lisa, who was slightly afraid of the talking cat. “They are surely long dead by now.”
“But the curse lives on,” Lisa claimed.
Luna had a puzzled look on her face, but it was Amy who had asked the question that was on the cat’s mind. “What curse?”
“After I was defeated in the rebellion,” Lisa explained, “Serenity locked me in the palace dungeon. What she didn’t know, nor what anyone else knew was that Evelyn temporarily left my body, since I was of no use to her being bound. She descended to the Earth and took over the body of a woman on the verge of life and death. Since the woman’s spirit was leaving her body, it didn’t take much for Evelyn to make this place her new home. Instantly, the woman’s physical shell had healed, but Evelyn was the one in control. She wanted to get revenge for her defeat on the Moon, and directed her anger toward the Earth. She had planned to destroy all human life on this planet.”
Raye asked, “But why would she do that? What did Earth have to do with the Moon?”
Lisa answered. “Though not part of the Moon Kingdom, Earth was an ally. If Evelyn couldn’t destroy Serenity, she would eliminate the next best thing.”
It still didn’t make sense to them, until Serena whispered, “Darien.” Her thoughts began to wander to their romance from long ago.
“I get it,” Lita said. “The Moon and the Earth were kind of like you and Darien. Not one in the same but dear to each others’ hearts.”
Serena brought herself out of her reverie to ask, “So what happened?”
Lisa continued, “This woman had hidden spell casting abilities which had previously lied dormant, and in Evelyn’s control could be a powerful sorceress. It didn’t take her long to find and gather the banished Selenians and offered them a chance to become invincible, to use the power of the Moon against their enemies. Eager for revenge, they agreed and she cast a powerful spell on them. Whenever the moon reached its fullest, the Selenians would transform into powerful, monstrous creatures. Any man bitten by one would become a Selenian himself, and the sons of the Selenians would also inherit the curse.” She stopped, surprised what she had said came out so effortlessly and fluently.
“What happened to them?” Amy asked. “And why did Evelyn return to you if she had a new body?”
“Well, the Selenians were successful at first in their plans to conquer Earth, as it was easy to create an army of their kind. But when they tried to overtake Earth’s palace, their weakness was discovered -- the rose. With this knowledge the humans handily defeated the Selenians, but a few survivors managed to escape and slowly bide their time, transferring the curse into their children and a few others. As for Evelyn, the remaining Selenians were angry at her for falsely promising them victory, but she escaped from their grasp by leaving the body and returning to me, and I was more than ready to welcome her back into my mind.”
“But why would the Selenians follow Evelyn if she’s the one who cursed them?” Lita asked.
“These are a different generation of Selenians. They probably don’t know she cursed them. A thousand years have passed from then until now. Nobody remembers the Moon Kingdom, do they?” A moment of silence dragged by as Lisa’s audience carefully digested this comment.
“And the next full moon is tonight!” Lita exclaimed.
“So how are we going to stop them?” Serena asked. “We don’t even know how to find them.”
“We don’t have to find them,” Lisa said. “All we need to do is find Evelyn.”
“And how are we supposed to do that?”
“Since Evelyn and I were once bonded, I can sense her.”
“No, we can’t let you do that,” Serena stated firmly. “I know you want to help...”
Lisa finished the statement dryly. “...but it’s too dangerous and I’d only get in the way.”
“What about the Selenians themselves?” Amy inquired of both Raye and Lisa. “Can either of you sense them?” Both shook their heads in the negative.
Raye added to her nonverbal reply. “Occasionally, when there was a full moon, I could feel something, but I had no idea what it was and since we never encountered them, I thought it was a reoccurring, natural phenomenon. Most of the time though, the Selenians are normal people according to what Lisa just said. They aren’t evil by nature, and their energy must not be high when they’re in human form, or else I’d be able to pick them up by now.”
Lisa also spoke. “Evelyn can sense them, since she created them. But I can’t. Still, there is a way to tell if a person is a Selenian.”
“How’s that?” Serena asked.
“All Selenians, whether getting the curse from their ancestors or a bite, have the mark of an animal bite on a part of their body, usually on an arm or a leg.”
Animal bite, Serena thought. Who have I seen with one of-- Then she remembered Cain and the nasty bite on his upper arm. “No!” she shouted in horror and disbelief. “We have to find Mina!”
Raye’s violet eyes shot at Serena upon the mention of the name. “Mina? Why?”
“Because Cain’s a Selenian! Didn’t you notice that he had a scar from an animal bite?”
Raye took a moment to recall the time she met Cain and how Luna and Artemis both went after him, tearing his jacket and shirt. She hadn’t thought much about it at the time but now the mark stood out like a badge of evil.
“You’re right!” Raye exclaimed.
Serena brought her arm to her face, urgently speaking into her wrist communicator. “Mina. Mina, pick up! This is urgent. Mina!”
* * *
Mina slowly strolled
down the sidewalk as she made her way back home. It was quite warm
for a late afternoon in October, and she saw no reason not to enjoy nature’s
gift. She had just come from Cain’s house, and was in no particular
hurry to go anywhere. Cain had told her that he would be out tonight
and she hadn’t spoken with Serena and the others since she had walked away
from them. As a result, the last thing she expected was her communicator,
which she had put in her purse, to go off.
“Mina. Pick up!” The voice sounded like Serena’s but it was hard to make out. Hesitantly, she pulled the communicator out of her purse and answered it.
“Serena?” Mina asked, surprised that any of her friends would even contact her. “Oh, hi. What’s wrong?”
“Listen. Is Cain anywhere around?”
Serena sighed in relief. “Mina. Listen to me. Cain isn’t what he seems to be.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I know he appears to be a really nice guy, but Cain is a monster.”
“What!” The surprise Mina expressed was so strong that Serena could feel it on the other end.
“He is. And he’s working for Evelyn.”
Mina narrowed her eyes. “Raye put you up to this, didn’t she?”
“I’m telling the truth.”
“Look, I can see you guys having a problem with me, but leave Cain out of this.” Mina was not about to waste any more time on this issue. “So if you don’t have anything else to tell me then good--”
“Wait!” The urgency in Serena's voice struck Mina, despite how much Serena's words had hurt. “Well, we’re going to check on a lead on the attacks recently. We think it might be where they’re building that new department store. It’s up to you if you want to come.”
Mina’s first impulse was to shut off the communicator. After the fallout of the recent battle, Mina didn’t want to have to deal with her friends as fellow Scouts. Worse yet, now Serena conjured up this ridiculous story about Cain. Before she could do as she intended, though, Artemis’ words echoed in her head.
You are a Sailor Scout and you will always be one no matter what.
Mina tried to ignore the phantom voice, but it kept repeating the same sentence.
You are a Sailor Scout and you will always be one no matter what
Then Mina realized she couldn’t refuse.
“I’ll be there,” she answered, then shut her communicator off. This time she would compensate for her recent failures in battle. She was not the weak link of the team; she was Sailor Venus. Mina looked around once again, noticing that there was an alley not far from where she was at and hurriedly entered it. After making sure there was no one around, she reached into her purse, only to find the very object she expected to be in there was gone.
My transformation stick! Her mind was in turmoil as she began to wonder what she had done with the important item. She never left the bag the stick was in out of her sight, and reasoned that it must have fallen out when she opened it last. I must have left it at Cain’s. Maybe he hasn’t left yet. She stepped out of the alley and ran back the way she had come, the dying golden sunlight at her back.
* * *
Mina knocked on the
door of the red, brick house. The thuds on the door produced no answer,
and since the lights were out as well, she assumed that Cain had already
left. Just as she was about to leave, she tried opening the door,
certain that it would not budge. She did not expect the door to be
unlocked and when the door opened, both the lack of resistance and the fact
that it was open surprised her.
Although every piece of knowledge, common sense, and instinct told her to run, she was determined to enter the house. After all, she was a Sailor Scout and while not having the fighting skills of Raye or Lita, she could certainly hold her own even without her powers. She also knew Cain wouldn’t leave door unlocked if he left, which meant either someone had broken in or something happened to him. Most importantly, though, she needed that stick back, so she went inside. After a quick scan of the area she began looking under the cushions of the couch where she had sat earlier.
“You won’t find it in there.”
Mina was surprised to hear Cain’s voice and immediately ran into the kitchen. She found him leaning over the sink, bracing himself on its edge, wearing nothing but a towel.
“I know who you are, Sailor Venus,” he declared. The discovery caught her by surprise, but she was more concerned about his condition.
“You don’t look well,” Mina noted. She ran over to him but he shoved her back. Mina caught a glimpse of his face, which glistened in both anger and suffering.
“Did you think I wouldn’t recognize the symbol? It didn’t take me long to figure out what it meant. I should have known someone like you was too good to be true.” After he finished those words, Cain cried out as another, sharper pain struck him. Mina would have rushed to his side, but she knew his reaction would be no different than the previous one. Frantically, she picked up the phone to call for help.
But there was no dial tone. Mina then belatedly realized what she had gotten herself into.
“I’m sorry that it had to end this way.”
In reality, Cain’s transformation took the span of only a few seconds, but to Mina time slowed to the pace of a buffoon’s shuffle, allowing her to witness every detail of the transition from man to man-beast. With each step Mina felt as though she were watching a horribly twisted version of her own metamorphosis into Sailor Venus. Claws swiftly substituted hands, feet changed into paws, and a thick fur spread across his skin like a brown fire. His body grew larger and the towel around his waist tore away, the fur providing more than enough covering for his body. As the nose and mouth began to elongate, the ears the eyes shifted from human to canine in position and shape. From his back a lupine tail sprouted, a fitting conclusion to this elaborate process.
In the end, in front of Mina was a vicious creature one with almost no resemblance to the man of before. She was so stunned that she almost didn’t notice him throw her transformation stick at her. With the reflexes and intuition of a trained athlete, she caught it and immediately initiated her own metamorphosis.
“Venus Star Power!” Once again, Mina was in her own private space, but this time she couldn’t relish in it. She wanted to get this sequence over with and waved the wand over her body as quickly as her arm would allow. She didn’t even strike her usual pose after the formation of her uniform and when she emerged she was ready for battle.
Rapidly, Sailor Venus headed for the exit. She had not planned to make a run for the door simply to get away. She knew she wouldn’t be able to outrun Cain, but at least if this fight were taken outside, she would have more room to maneuver. Also, as long as she was in his house, she was in his territory, and coupled with the advantage of surprise, this fight would be next to impossible to win. Her plans were cut short as Cain followed her into the living room. He leapt across it and landed across the room between Venus and the door, turning the animal-like features of his face into a menacing grin. Iron bars blocked the window to her right, and the stairs were too far away, so the only path she could take led to where she had come from. She hurried to the kitchen, with Cain taking his time in following her. When he entered, Venus was ready for him.
“Venus Love Chain...Encircle!”
She threw golden the chain of hearts at Cain, but he grabbed the end of it as it approached him and tossed it to the side. He countered by lunging at her, but Venus leapt on top of the kitchen counter, and the Selenian’s head rammed into the lower cabinet. Quickly scanning the area for a weapon she saw a frying pan on the stove and grabbed it. Before she could either make a move to either escape or hit Cain again, she felt sharp, piercing pain in her right calf and could feel blood running down her leg. Looking down, she saw the beast sinking his teeth in her flesh. Fighting the urge to scream or cry, she swung the pan and hit Cain’s head with it, but instead of knocking Cain out, a huge dent appeared in the pan. He released the grip on her leg though, and retreated slightly. For almost a minute, the two of them simply stared at each other, their soft hearts hardened by this experience. At last, for Cain was the one to speak first.
“You should be growing fur by now,” he growled, his voice still recognizable despite the metamorphosis. He lunged at her again, but this time she leapt over him.
“Venus Crescent Beam Smash!” She expelled beam of energy from her index finger. Cain though, leapt over the beam. Venus attempted another run for the door, but this time she was too slow. With a supernatural speed Cain grabbed her by the neck with one claw and pinned her against the wall.
“If you’re not going to turn,” he snarled,“I’ll have to finish this myself!”
“Please,” Venus pleaded. “This isn’t what you want.”
“Don’t tell me what I want.” He hesitated to give her a final blow, though, giving Venus another chance at persuasion.
“I still love you.”
Cain tightened his hold on her. “Why am I supposed to believe that? You’ve lied to me before!”
“Because I know you still care.”
The words pierced through his anger and straight to his heart. She was right -- he still cared deeply about her and loosened his grip, in regret at what he had done. But soon the beastly anger filled him once again, and he slammed her against the wall again.
“Nice try! Evelyn said you Scouts always try to trick your enemies with that type of talk...”
“Evelyn!” Once again, the conversation with Serena on the communicator replayed in her mind, as if her current situation was not a reminder of her error.
“She’s the one I was supposed to meet tonight. But it seemed I had some unexpected company.”
“Evelyn isn’t what she seems. Whatever she’s promising you, she won’t deliver. She uses people, plays on their weaknesses, and when she gets what she wants--”
“She moves on,” Cain finished for Venus, not impressed by her words. “You’d say anything to save your life.”
“Please, listen to me this one last time. Look past the anger, the hurt, or whatever force is driving you right now. This is me, Mina, talking to you. You aren’t a killer, I know it. You have a good heart. Otherwise you wouldn’t have saved that girl. You remember how we met, don’t you?”
Almost as if by magic, the memory of their first meeting was renewed and thrust itself into the forefront of Cain’s mind. He recalled how he froze when he first saw Mina. It wasn’t her beauty that mesmerized him, but he could sense her power, the power that flowed from her kind heart. It was the same energy that he felt now, the one that reached into his heart and begged him to listen. As much as he was ready to eliminate the Sailor Scout, that power grabbed a hold of him an opened his heart to what she was saying.
“I...can’t do it.” He released her and turned his back.
A howl full of emotion penetrated the crisp night air.
* * *
Disarray was the theme
of the area where the Sailor Scouts searched for any sign of unusual activity.
They were at the construction site of a partially completed building for
which only the metal frame was present. Under the bright light of
the full moon, shadows seemed to clash with each other, casting organized
messes of darkness on the ground. Heavy machinery used for the building
process lied in silent disorder among the bare dirt. The quiet surroundings
emphasized the feeling that something was just not right about this scene,
and the four heroines remained cautious.
“This place looks deserted,” Jupiter commented.
“I wish we hadn’t had to leave Lisa,” Mars remarked. “She could have been a huge help in finding Evelyn. What if she’s changed her location?”
“Then we’ll have to take that chance,” Sailor Moon replied instantly. “We couldn’t risk bringing Lisa with us. There’s no way to ensure her safety.”
“Still thinking of Lisa?” The question came from a tall brunette wearing a black outfit. She was leaning against a crane, with her arms crossed. It didn’t register to the Scouts who she was until she continued. “Lisa was powerful and intelligent, but she had too much goodness in her heart for me to use for a long-term basis. Even if you hadn’t so rudely kicked me out of her body, she probably wouldn’t have gone along with the rest of the plan, no matter how angry she was at you all. This body, though, is so much more willing and gives me so fewer problems.”
“Evelyn!” the four Scouts shouted at the same time.
The woman floated up into the air at the mention of that name, studying the Scouts. “It seems you’re one shy of a full team. This should be all the easier.” She then raised her voice, calling to her allies. “Selenians! Avenge the fate Serenity forced up you! Her daughter leads those who oppose you!”
It was then the Scouts first noticed the Selenians, and the girls were shocked at the sheer number of claws and canines prepared to inflict the undeserved revenge. They had expected three or four monsters to deal with, but Mercury lost count at twenty and there were easily twice that amount. The creatures resembled more of a swarm of fur than a pack, and while a considerable distance lay between the Selenians and the Scouts, the former encroached upon the latter with an amazing speed
“This doesn’t look good,” Moon worried. Mercury pinched her earring to activate her visor and pulled out her miniature computer.
“I’m not about to stand here and wait for them to tear us apart!” Sailor Mars declared. “Mars Celestial Fire Surround!” She flung the rings of fire at the Selenians, who slowed down in their course but continued to approach them.
“It had no effect!” Jupiter exclaimed.
“No wonder!” Mercury shouted as she read the data streaming in from her visor. “You should take a look at these defense parameters. Fire, Lightning, Cold, Physical...all less than 30% effective.”
“Then what are we supposed to do?”
“Run for it!” Sailor Moon ordered. She and the others began to make a strategic retreat, but found there was another group of Selenians not far behind them. Glancing to her left and right there were several more Selenians, almost as if there were no end to the creatures.
“They’re everywhere!” Mercury exclaimed.
“Sailor Moon,” Evelyn spoke, her voice covered with the mask of judgement. “You shall pay for your mother’s sin.” As the Selenians came nearer and nearer, Sailor Moon began to believe those words. At the current rate of movement, the Scouts would be torn apart in under a minute.
Luckily, that rate did not remain constant.
A red flash of light knocked some of the Selenians back, driving away the angel of death. When the brightness subsided, a single solitary rose revealed itself to be the deterrent. More roses were thrown between the enemies and the Scouts, each flower forming part of a protective circle around the female warriors. The remaining Selenians who were approaching the Scouts jumped back, but Evelyn appeared all too calm and turned to the enigmatic warrior atop the beam.
“Tuxedo Mask,” Evelyn called, almost welcoming his presence. Although he was the carrier of the sole bane of the Selenians, she refused to let herself worry needlessly. On the ground, the Selenians were still reeling from the sudden blows. After the initial shock, though, they recovered and headed for the Scouts again, beginning a second wave of attack. They neared the circle of roses as if there was nothing there. Evelyn smiled as she watched the flowers lose their effectiveness. Still, she wanted to make sure he perished along with the Sailor Scouts, and to do that he would have to lose his vertical advantage.
“Get him,” she ordered, pointing at the caped man. A few of the Selenians obeyed Evelyn’s command and headed over to the beam, ascending to his level in a single jump. Tuxedo Mask could have fended them off with a few roses, but it would leave the Sailor Scouts defenseless. He leapt off of the beam and landed right beside Sailor Moon, throwing a rose at a Selenian who had crossed the boundary of roses. Sailor Moon had no time to thank him or lose herself in his presence, and maintained a serious demeanor despite being near her lover.
“It looks like history is repeating itself,” Tuxedo Mask said as he hurled another rose.
Sailor Moon asked, “How long do you think you can hold them off?”
“Not long.” A Selenian jumped over the circle, but was repaid with a rose that sliced the creature’s side. It quickly fell back, but the Selenians continued to close in despite this setback. “I have plenty of roses, but I can’t throw them fast enough or long enough to keeep these creatures at bay forever.”
Evelyn was not about to lessen her resolve in the face of victory and continued to encourage the Selenians. “Remember how Serenity cursed you!” she cried, inspiring them even further.
“It wasn’t Serenity,” Sailor Moon stated, hoping that there was a chance she could get through to them. “My mother would never do such a thing!” Her words fell on ears deafened by hatred, and did nothing to change her fate.
Evelyn wanted to laugh, but instead continued in her role as instigator. “Who are you going to believe? Your leader, or Serenity’s daughter?”
The answer came not from Evelyn or Sailor Moon, but rather from a Selenian. It was Cain, and alongside him was Sailor Venus, who had a bandage on her leg. In response, the crowd of Selenians stopped. Evelyn couldn’t believe her eyes. Not only was Cain, one of her most important Selenians, speaking out against her, but he was standing side by side with one of the Sailor Scouts as well.
“Can’t you see she’s blinded you?” Evelyn asked him.
Cain ignored her and spoke to the other Selenians. “Look past the curse. Look past your desire for revenge. Look into your hearts and you know who is telling the truth.”
Venus chimed in, “Think about it. Would Serenity really pronounce a curse so cruel on her own people and punish their descendants mercilessly, a woman known for her benevolence?”
“Benevolent to those who gave up their freedom and individuality,” Evelyn countered. “But for those who did not share her beliefs there was nothing but pain and suffering. She was powerful enough to kill us, but she instead decided to prolong the agony by cursing you and sealing me away.” She then turned to the blonde while slowly descending to the ground. “How can someone like that be so benevolent, Venus?”
“Answer this question, Evelyn.” Venus froze Evelyn with her intense gaze. “If you were imprisoned on the Moon when the Selenians were banished to Earth, then how did you know about their curse?” Some of the Selenians looked at Evelyn for a response, but she didn’t answer. Her support was waning with every second she was silent, but many of the Selenians were still unsure of who to believe. Evelyn’s next words proved to be her undoing.
Some of the Selenians moved toward Venus but stopped, and looked at Evelyn. Though Venus was clad in the same type of outfit as the others, she had made no attack on them or their leader. In fact, she had entered the area with one of their kindred. They hesitated, which the rattled nerves of the evil woman.
“Since when did I have to tell you furballs twice,” Evelyn demanded. “Kill her!”
Instantly, a great anger filled up in the Selenians, and now all were aware of the deception. Even the ones most blinded by rage and instinct knew that Evelyn was the liar. With her credibility lost, she lashed out at her former followers.
“You Selenians are fools! Did you think Queen Serenity would have the knowledge or the heart to place such a spell on you? She could never bear to replay that nightmare over and over again, for a tragedy to repeat itself on innocents who had nothing to do with the events of the past.” She rose to the air once more, retreating out of the reach of the Selenians. “But all that doesn’t matter now, because there’s nothing you can do to me. You can’t kill me, and you’ll always be cursed.”
“No!” Venus shouted. All of the anger she felt toward this entity could be contained no longer. She initiated her attack before anyone else dared to move. “Venus Love Chain Encircle!” The chain mercilessly directed itself straight for Evelyn’s heart, becoming more like a spear of hearts as it neared its target. Evelyn closed her eyes, letting the weapon strike her. Upon impact, though, her body seemed to swallow the chain until every single heart was gone.
“Hmmm, that was much stronger than before,” she gloated. “Anger and love are a powerful mix with you, Venus. Of course, all that power just goes to me.”
“Oh no!” Venus shouted as she put her hand to her forehead, her mistake revealed to her. “I forgot!”
“Don’t worry,” Sailor Moon assured. “I’ve got everything under control.” She pulled off her brooch and let the pink light shine on Evelyn. “Moon Crystal Healing Activation!” But Evelyn continued to float in the air, soaking in the pink light as if she were trying to get a tan. Moon turned to Mercury who still had her visor on from earlier. “Why didn’t it work?”
“She’s filtering out the healing part and simply absorbed the energy from the Crystal,” Mercury answered as Evelyn waved her arms in front of her, creating a bow and a set of arrows. When she was done, she had five arrows in front of her, all of them blue.
“I’m doing things right this time,” Evelyn said as she took one of the blue arrows and fired into the air. The arrow exploded, releasing the energy-sapping powder, and since those on the ground were in an open area, there was no where they could hide from the dust. The Selenians, unaware of what was going on, were struck first. The Sailor Scouts and Tuxedo Mask ran under the this frame of the uncompleted building but the thin beams offered no protection from the powder. Slowly, all of the earthbound creatures were brought to their knees by the powder, but Evelyn didn’t stop with one arrow. She fired the second arrow right after it, speeding up the energy-sapping process.
Venus searched both her mind and the area around her for a weakness, a way to render her powerless. Using her recent mistake to fuel her determination, she stared at Evelyn her arrows and the bow, trying to come up with an idea. The answer came to her with such a rush, she was momentarily stunned and couldn’t speak.
“The bow!” Venus exclaimed, trying to communicate the thought that laid trapped in her mind. Jupiter saw what Venus was driving at.
“Yeah,” Jupiter agreed weakly. “You’re right. All those arrows are useless without the bow. But can it be destroyed?”
Moon paused a second before replying, “I destroyed one of her arrows once. Maybe her bows work...the same way.”
“Yes,” Mercury confirmed, the visor still over her eyes. “Her bow can be destroyed, but it will take all the energy we can summon. We have to pool our energy together...and we need a clear shot.”
Sailor Moon didn’t like the last part of Mercury’s message. It meant going back out in the open, and she wasn’t sure if they could pull it off. If they remained where they were, though, they would be finished.
“Are you ready?” Moon asked the others. They all made noises of agreement and moved from under the structure. Although exhausted from the effort, they wasted no time and grabbed each other’s hands, forming a circle. They were too weak to stand, and they hoped they had enough power left to pull this off.
“Mercury Star Power!”
“Venus Star Power!”
“Mars Star Power!”
“Jupiter Star Power!”
“Moon Crystal Power!”
“Sailor Planet Power!” Around each of the Sailor Scouts an aura formed. They glowed with their respective colors until a sphere containing all of their power appeared. The ball of energy headed for the bow. At the same time, Tuxedo Mask mustered enough strength to throw a rose at the bow, and the two projectiles collided with the target simultaneously. The bow crumbled to dust, and the other arrows dissolved into thin air as well. The effects of the dust quickly wore off as Evelyn’s weapons disappeared from the area.
“No!” Evelyn shouted as her enemies recovered. For the first time, Evelyn’s face showed true anger, not the slight hint of aggravation it had before. “Blast it! I’ll destroy you even if it is with my own hands.” Her eyes flashed an even more intense white, signaling her next action. She dived at the Sailor Scouts, but just before she reached them, Cain leapt in the air and tackled her, taking her by surprise. His momentum canceled her motion, allowing him to pin her against the ground. He could barely contain the fury inside of him as he raised his arm to drive it into her body.
“Give me one reason to let you live,” Cain ordered as he prepared himself to deliver the final blow.
Evelyn answered, “Because I’m not giving you the pleasure of finishing me off.” Her eyes began to flutter and rolled back into her head. Without hesitation, Mercury ran over to the fallen woman and checked her vital signs, fearing the worst. She stepped back from the body, her suspicions confirmed.
“She’s dead,” Mercury announced in hushed astonishment. “I don’t understand...” She was not given time to speculate, as Mars’ cry caught her attention.
“Venus! Your leg!” Mars pointed at the gauze, which had now started to leak with blood. “What happened?”
“It’s nothing,” Venus replied, even though the wound still hurt terribly.
Mercury came over to her and dropped to one knee to inspect the injury. She noticed the bandage wasn’t wrapped as well as it should have been. “Here,” she said. “Let me see it.” She slowly undressed the wound and gasped at what she had seen.
“You’ve been bitten!” She didn’t have to say what it was that bit her. Everyone knew it was a Selenian’s bite.
“Does that mean Venus--?” Sailor Moon began.
“Don’t worry,” one of the Selenians said. “She would have changed by now. For some reason women are exempt from the curse.”
Lisa’s words echoed in the heads of the Sailor Scouts. Any man bitten by one would become a Selenian himself, and the sons of the Selenians would also inherit the curse. They were surprised that they hadn’t picked up on it sooner.
“Do you think they might change back to normal if you used the Crystal on them?” Mercury asked.
Everyone’s eyes widened at Mercury’s question. It would have been ironic, yet logical, if Sailor Moon, the one that the Selenians were trying to destroy moments ago, was the key to their salvation.
“Let’s give it a try,” Sailor Moon said, lifting her brooch in the air. “Moon Crystal Healing Activation.” Once again, the bright pink light occupied the area, bringing a calm to Scout and Selenian alike. Mercury, Mars and Jupiter watched in excited expectation, but Venus somehow knew what the result was going to be. For five minutes Sailor Moon stood, pouring all of her energy into the Crystal with the slim chance that she could undo the ancient spell.
“It’s not working,” Venus observed, her voice drained of both hope and joy. Moon realized that Venus was right, and the pink light faded until it was gone. She lowered the brooch and put it back on her bow.
“I struck out twice in one day,” Moon said. Mars rested her hand on Moon’s shoulder, while Mercury and Jupiter surrounded her. Venus broke away from the group and made her way past the other Selenians. She found Cain the farthest away from everyone, staring at the moon.
“There are no easy answers,” he said when she stopped beside him. “Not for us, anyway.”
Venus turned to Cain, her eyes filled with tears. She took his claw in her hands, while keeping her gaze steady on his face, and spoke with a steady voice. “I promise you, on our love, I will not rest until Evelyn is destroyed.”
For an instant Serenity’s face appeared in the full moon, witnessing the oath of love before fading away into the night.