[FFML] [fanfic][Sailormoon] Moonshadow, chapter 8 (first draft)

The Eternal Lost Lurker lurkerdrome at sbcglobal.net
Mon Nov 24 07:14:12 PST 2008



Another new chapter. Usual disclaimers apply. C&C welcome.



---------------------------------------------------------------------

A solemn group met in the faculty room of Juuban Junior High School two 
hours before the start of the school day.

"Minna-san," the principal began gruffly, "I do not need to tell you that we 
have a serious problem."

The other teachers shifted uneasily, casting wary, awkward glances at one 
another.

"One teacher dead. Followed by multiple allegations of sexual assault by 
said teacher from various students.

"One mass exodus from the building, without staff supervision, which 
resulted in numerous minor and one severe injury among the student body.

"Every window in the building shattered. Every scrap of paper in the 
building ruined.

"One lecturer and several students missing."

The vice principal coughed. "Actually, we've done some checking, and found 
out that this 'Kamiki Amami' was not an accredited lecturer. Nor had anyone 
ever heard of her before Monday."

The principal raised an eyebrow. "Really? How interesting." He swept his 
gaze over the assembled faculty again. "And I won't even entertain the 
reports of bizarre creatures or--" He coughed, and muttered something that 
sounded like 'cheerleaders'.

"Which we all saw. It was kind of hard not to."

The principal harrumphed. "I didn't say nobody saw it. I said we're not 
dignifying it with comment." He paused, wringing his hands in front of him. 
"The sheer number and severity of bizarre incidents in and around this 
school of late have prompted...an investigation. A *thorough* 
investigation."

This news was met with a round of unsettled murmuring.

"Kouchou," a female teacher piped up after a long, awkward moment, "Are we 
closing the school?"

The middle-aged, stocky principal sighed tiredly, adjusting his wire-rimmed 
glasses. "I've spent half the night talking with members of the board, with 
the district police, with the ward mayor...everyone concerned agrees that 
our duty to education is equal to our duty to public safety. We must 
continue to hold classes--but we cannot hold them here until the repairs and 
investigation are complete."

"So..." an older teacher began as the principal trailed off, "What are we 
supposed to do?"

"As to that," the principal said, the corner of his mouth quirking, "we've 
made a few...arrangements."

=-------------=



Studio ELL Presents

MOONSHADOW

Adapted from "Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon" by Takeuchi Naoko.

8: C'est la vie

=-------------=

Makoto stretched, groaning as she rose from the sofa where she'd fallen 
asleep. A number of minor aches made themselves known, and her head felt 
like it was full of cotton.

"Ugh..."

As she shambled to the washroom and began splashing cold water on her face, 
she looked up at her reflection in the mirror. Her eyes were red and puffy, 
and she was streaked with grime. With a disgusted sniff at herself, she 
stripped off her clothes and padded over to the bath, drawing the shower 
curtain closed behind her.

As steamy hot water cascaded down over her, she began to remember pieces of 
the previous day.

The monster. Changing into Jupiter. The fight. The rush of power.

The horrible things she did after that.

The strange man whose face she couldn't quite recall. The humiliation of 
having her newfound power stripped violently away.

*Sunset,* she recalled. *He said I'll be able to...I'll have my powers back 
by sunset.*

She glanced down at her wrist, surprised to see she hadn't removed the 
glittery green bracelet. Its weight was comforting; she admired it as the 
water cascaded over it.

"Jupiter..."

She sighed. "Man, I really fucked up."

She hoped the golden-haired girl, the one who gave her this power--*the 
Princess?*--wouldn't be angry with her, wouldn't demand she return the 
bracelet, wouldn't make her give up being Jupiter.

*Can she even do that? Who IS she, anyway?*

An image suddenly flashed through her mind: a girl with long, tea-coloured 
hair, smiling shyly at her from across a packed auditorium.

The same girl, confronting the health lecturer--the one who had turned into 
that monster bitch.

*I don't remember her name, but...that's her. The Princess. I'm sure of it.*

Rinsing off one thick layer of soapy lather and applying a second (one of 
her exploits the previous day had been spectacularly nasty), Makoto resolved 
to talk to the tea-haired girl as soon as she had the chance.

And hopefully, word of what Makoto had done with her gift hadn't gotten back 
to her yet...

=-------------=

The students of Juuban Junior High milled around in the courtyard, which 
still bore the scars and debris of the previous day's bizarre 
incident--though most of the loose paper had been cleaned up, and large, 
flat steel dumpsters were full of broken glass.

It was minutes past eight, and entry to the building proper had been barred. 
Uniformed police officers and--more disturbingly--armed soldiers from the 
JSDF stood guard over the campus and the students.

The principal came out of the building, holding a megaphone. "Your 
attention, please." As the students' chatter began winding down, he 
continued, "Due to extensive damage to the school property in the wake of 
yesterday's incident, and in the interests of the safety of the student 
body, this school is closing until further notice."

A wave of noise rippled through the crowd, a goodly amount of which was 
cheering. The principal indulged them for but a minute, then blasted a 
squeal of feedback through his megaphone to draw their attention.


"This does not absolve any of you of your duty to your own education, nor 
does it absolve the faculty's responsibility for said education. For the 
duration of the school closure, each class will be reassigned to a temporary 
location. Your homeroom instructors will provide you with materials for 
self-study, and keep attendance records. Any student whose attendance is 
found lacking will receive the same disciplinary actions as though the 
school were operating normally."

Groans met this proclamation.

"Your homeroom teachers have gathered your belongings from your classrooms, 
as well as your shoes from your shoe lockers. In a few minutes, you will be 
dividing into your classes, and your belongings will be returned to you, 
along with instructions regarding your temporary facility assignments." A 
brief pause. "I regret to inform you all that, for reasons nobody can 
determine, everything made of paper which was in the building has been 
destroyed. This includes graded assignments, textbooks, and extracurricular 
reading materials." He allowed a brief moment of reaction to this news. "It 
is regrettable, and I apologise if you lost something you considered 
precious. The Ministry of Education will be replacing your set books, AND 
ONLY your set books, and providing a ration of blank paper and notebooks to 
each student. Anything else you may have lost, the burden of replacing lies 
with you and your parents.

"We will endeavor to re-open the school as quickly as possible. In the 
meantime, we must continue, as always, in the face of adversity."

As he clicked off his megaphone and re-entered the building, and the faculty 
began lining up to herd their charges into class groups, much groaning and 
complaints rose from the crowd of teenagers.

"Man, I had last week's Jump in my bag! I never got to finish reading it! 
And they're not selling it anymore!"

"I had a really hot ero book...cost me three weeks' allowance. Dammit..."

"I never got to show my mom the test I scored perfect on..."

"Why does stuff like this keep happening?"

Usagi, head bowed, eyes glistening, shuffled morosely through the crowd, 
guilt settling like a heavy weight upon her shoulders.

*Minna...gomen nasai...*

=-------------=

*So, the other girl I suspected might be a Senshi turned out to be Jupiter. 
Strange coincidence, that she would turn up at the Princess' school.*

*I thought you did not believe in coincidences, Master.*

*I don't. That doesn't mean they don't exist.*

*So one Senshi remains, and then...*

*We will proceed according to whatever the situation demands of us, once we 
reach that point. In the meantime, I believe I shall take a few days to 
train the British girl. She has only had one active engagement as a Senshi, 
and it would not do for her to be a hindrance to the others.*

*Are you certain you do not wish to have her meet with the Princess, to be 
Awakened properly?*

*No...no, not yet. I have my reasons, and my methods. Alert me of any 
changes in the situation immediately.*

*Hai.*

=-------------=

Class 2-C wound up at Tokyo Tower.

Their homeroom teacher, Haruna, had informed them--seriously or in jest, 
they could not be sure--that the principal had passed around a hat, and the 
teachers had drawn locations from it.

Nobody particularly minded. There was plenty of room on the roof of the 
shopping complex that occupied the lower floors of the Tower to spread out 
in preferred groups and study--not that many of them intended to do anything 
of the sort. Haruna-sensei had warned them that she'd be taking a head count 
at the end of the school day to make sure nobody had simply left. Beyond 
that, they were given free run of the Tower facilities--it was less 
troublesome that way, in her opinion.

What they actually DID with their self-study time, she honestly didn't care. 
After all, she was being paid to call roll, not to sit on them and make them 
study.

The usual groups gravitated, for the most part, among the students; the 
notable absence was Umino Gurio, who had received a concussion, a broken 
leg, and various scrapes and nasty bruises during the stampede at the school 
the previous day, and would be in the hospital for at least a week. The new 
girl, Kino Makoto, was hanging back from the others, keeping largely to 
herself; likewise, Mizuno Ami sat quietly on a bench out of the way of foot 
traffic, calmly reading a test prep manual. Most of the other girls had 
wandered off into the shopping complex below, but that was to be expected. 
Most of the rest of the class had gone up to the observation levels, which 
was also to be expected.

Haruna sighed as she stretched out on a bench in the shade.

*This is nice...*

=-------------=

Makoto strolled slowly around the perimeter of the amusement park on the 
Foot Town roof, simply watching people come and go, and thinking.

She needed to find the Princess, and get her alone to talk to her. There 
were plenty of places here at the Tower one could find privacy, of a sort; 
but...

She noticed that one girl from her class was sitting all by herself, 
reading. A fuzzy memory from the day before boiled up from her mind--wasn't 
that one of the two girls who had been attacked by that monster?

Wait...she'd seen her AND the tea-haired girl thrown through a window!

*But she...doesn't look injured at all. There's not even a bandage or a 
scratch on...*

It clicked.

Glancing around warily, she walked purposefully over to the bespectacled 
girl.

"Excuse me," she prompted softly.

The girl glanced up, annoyance in her eyes. Then, she saw who had spoken to 
her, and her expression changed--only slightly. "Kino-san," she addressed in 
a calm tone.

"You...um..." Makoto paused, uncertainly.

"Yes? I would appreciate if you were brief. I have fallen behind in my exam 
preparations."

"Oh--sorry." The tall girl frowned. "Um, it's just...yesterday..." She then 
noticed the glittering blue band on the shorter girl's wrist. Her eyes 
widened. "I was right. You ARE one of those other Senshi."

The short-haired girl's test manual snapped shut, and her gaze locked onto 
Makoto's face with chilling force. "Do not speak of such things openly, 
Kino-san," she advised.

"Oh! Right, um...sorry."

The other girl continued to eye her for a long moment, her face unreadable. 
At length, she returned her attention to her test manual. "Tsukino-san 
likely wishes to speak to you concerning your actions after the...incident. 
She is most likely wasting time in the shops or museums downstairs."

"Um, right...thanks. Um, I'm sorry, I didn't get your name..."

"Mizuno," the girl replied tonelessly, adjusting her glasses. "We have 
little need to speak to one another. Good day, Kino-san."

Makoto stood watching the short-haired girl for a long moment, then shook 
her head and walked away.

*What the hell's HER problem?!*

=-------------=

Mina wasn't quite as talkative during lunch, a fact which Rei picked up on 
with a note of concern. The blond dismissed it as having not slept well the 
previous night and being a little tired, but Rei wasn't sure her strange 
friend was being completely truthful.

Of course, it was none of her business, and she was hardly one to pry into 
someone else's affairs, so she held her peace.

Near the end of the lunch period, a secretary stuck her head into the 
classroom. "Aino Minako-san?"

Mina glanced up at the door, blinking. "Yes?"

"Your doctor's nurse called the school office. Your appointment has been 
moved up. You're excused from classes for the rest of the day."

Mina blinked. *Doctor?*

"You'll need to hurry. The nurse says Arturo-sensei wants you to come as 
early as possible."

The blond's eyes widened with realisation. "Ah, right! Silly me, I 
forgot...thanks!" She stood quickly, rapidly packing away her lunch things 
and gathering up her bookbag. "Sorry, Rei, I've gotta go!"

The raven-haired girl glanced up at her with mild concern. "Are you ill, 
Mina-san?"

Mina shook her head. "It's just a checkup." Pausing, she glanced around 
furtively, then leaned closer and whispered, "You know...'girl stuff'."

Rei's face reddened, and she averted her gaze. "I understand. I will see you 
tomorrow."

Mina bade her friend goodbye, then raced for the school exit. As she did so, 
she giggled to herself at her little performance.

She also wondered what Timothy was up to. Calling her out of school...

Her phone buzzed in her pocket. She pulled it out and flipped it open, and a 
new e-mail appeared on the small screen.

FROM: Arturo, Timothy S.

RE: Meet Me...

13:30 on the roof of Yamagoto Plaza.

Mina blinked. *Weird place for a date...*

=-------------=

Usagi had spent most of the morning in and out of shops with Naru and a few 
other girls. Now, it was early afternoon, and she sat in a small, mostly 
empty soba shop. Most of her classmates were eating in the trendier places 
like McDonald's or Pizza-La, but she decided she felt like having a quieter 
lunch. After all, she had a great many things on her mind, and was finding 
lately that crowds of girls her own age made far too much noise for her to 
think.

"Hey."

Usagi looked up from her yakisoba. Kino Makoto stood next to the table, 
looking somewhat nervous; somehow, it seemed out of place on her.

"Hi...Kino-san, right?"

Makoto nodded. She shifted uncomfortably. "Um...mind if I--?" She gestured 
at the empty seat across from the shorter girl.

Usagi nodded, gesturing. "Sure."

"Thanks. I'm a bit surprised to see you eating alone," Makoto commented as 
she sat down. "I mean, I saw half our class go into the Pizza-La..."

Usagi smiled. "I just needed a little break from the chattering about 
yesterday."

"Yeah, I think I know what you mean," Makoto replied with a wince. She 
busied herself with separating her chopsticks, then toyed absently with the 
korokke on her tray.

"Are you alright, Kino-san?" Usagi asked gently. "You seem nervous."

Makoto looked up at her, then ducked her gaze back to her tray. "No, it's 
just..." She sighed. "Yeah, I guess a little."

Usagi glanced around to make sure nobody was within earshot, then leaned 
forward. In a soft voice barely above a whisper, she said, "When you left 
after the battle, we were...well, *I* was...a little worried. You kinda 
scared us."

Makoto tensed, flinching as though struck. "So you really ARE the Princess."

Usagi nodded. "But it's best if you just call me Usagi, at least when 
we're..." She gestured around them. "You know."

"Yeah." Makoto took a bite of her lunch, chewing silently. Then, she sighed. 
"I'm...sorry I ran off like that. And, um..."

"It's...okay. I know the whole Senshi thing is a bit of a shock. It 
certainly was for me." Usagi smiled. "You took it a lot better than I did at 
first."

The tall girl grimaced. "I wouldn't be so sure. I, um..." She paused, 
sighing. "Well, I guess the guy with the blurry face probably already told 
you all about it."

Usagi blinked. "Guy with the blurry face? Huh?"

"You know, the guy who shut off my powers. You did send him after me, didn't 
you?"

The tea-haired girl's confused look spoke volumes. "I didn't send anybody 
after you," she said. "And what do you mean 'shut off your powers'?"

"He did...*something*...I don't know what. And I changed back into me. He 
says I can't be Jupiter again until sunset tonight."

Now, Usagi looked VERY alarmed. "Anou...Kino-san...I don't *know* anybody 
who can do that."

Makoto blinked at her, an incredulous look on her face. "You really mean 
this guy isn't working for you?"

"Working for *me*?" Usagi snorted, giggling. "Kino-san, whatever they say I 
am, I've got about as much control over this whole mess as the terebi has 
over the weather."

"But...he said I should talk to you..."

"And he knew who I really am?" Usagi asked, eyes wary and alert.

Makoto shook her head. "If he does, he didn't say. He just said 'talk to the 
Princess', and that you were 'anxious' to have words with me." The tall girl 
grimaced. "Um...are you mad at me?"

"Mad at you?"

"For, you know--" She trailed off. Then, she ducked her head. "For abusing 
my powers."

"Abusing--?" Usagi blinked. "Kino-san, you didn't...*hurt* anyone..."

"No!" Makoto said sharply. Then, she paused, and amended, "Not seriously. 
Not permanently. I just..." She sighed. "I really screwed up."

Usagi eyed her silently for a long moment. Then, she took a sip of her tea. 
"Kino-san...perhaps, after 'school', we should meet up somewhere. I get the 
feeling there are things we *do* need to discuss. And not just about 
whatever you're obviously feeling guilty about. There's things you need to 
know..."

=-------------=

A date, as it turned out, was not what Timothy had in mind.

As the breathless blond emerged from the roof access stairs, she found the 
white-haired man seated on a large trunk. He smiled and nodded at her. "You 
made it...good."

"Timothy!" Mina rushed over to him, pausing only to catch her breath. "You 
know, calling me out of school--"

"Was necessary." He stood, hands clasped behind his back. "There are lessons 
to be learned which are more important than the drivel imparted by your 
teachers."

"Well...yeah, I'll go along with that," Mina replied, blinking. "But..."

"It's time you received some proper training...Senshi."

The blond's eyes widened. "THAT'S what this is all about?!"

"Indeed. The other Senshi have fought powerful opponents already. They have 
no training, but their true powers have been Awakened." He fixed a gaze like 
cool steel on her. "You acquitted yourself well against the creatures which 
attacked you at the museum that night, but you have not been tested since, 
and you are not a full Senshi yet. If you were to encounter a youma, such as 
the one Jupiter dispatched yesterday, you would most likely die. I have no 
wish to see that."

Mina gulped. "No...me neither." She blinked. "Wait...Jupiter? A youma?"

"Yesterday was...quite eventful."

"And you didn't tell me?!"

"I'm telling you now." Timothy smiled, eyes twinkling. Then, suddenly, the 
chilly steel glint was back in his gaze. "Transform, Mina. We have a lot to 
do, and not much time."

"A...alright..." Swallowing nervously, Mina took a step backward...

"MOON POWER, TRANSFORM!"

=-------------=

Naru groaned as her pager went off for the fifth time in an hour. 
"Umino-kun," she sighed.

A classmate giggled. "Maybe he's given up on Usagi-chan and has a thing for 
you now, Naru-chan," she teased.

The redhead rolled her eyes. "As if! He's just bored and lonely, and I'm the 
only one who'll bother talking to him."

"I guess I do feel kinda sorry for him," the other girl said lightly. "I 
mean, a week in the hospital sucks for anyone."

"You guys go on into the Wax Museum, I'll be there in a few." As her friends 
walked off, Naru sighed, and hit the dial button for the geeky boy's phone.

"What's up, Umino-kun?" she said into the phone with exasperation.

//Naru-chan? Did you say you saw Usagi-san hanging around with the new girl 
earlier?//

Naru blinked. "Kino-san? Yeah, they seem to be hitting it off. Why?"

//Naru-chan...I don't think it's a good idea for those two to hang out 
much.// Umino sounded uncharacteristically upset.

The redhead frowned. "Why? I mean, she seems okay to me..."

Umino spoke at length. As he spoke, Naru's eyes grew progressively wider.

*Uso...*

=-------------=

Usagi and Makoto stood watching fish swim lazily by in the Tower aquarium. 
"They're so lucky," Usagi commented. "No pressure whatsoever. Nobody makes 
them do anything, they don't have to worry about anything..." She sighed. 
"I'm jealous."

Makoto nodded. "Yeah, I know what you mean." She sighed. "But we're not 
fish, are we, Usagi?"

"No, we're not."

"Well...maybe that Mizuno girl is. What's wrong with her? I tried to talk to 
her, and she's..."

"Grumpy?"

"Bitchy is more the word I'd use," Makoto replied.

Usagi sighed. "Ami-san has never liked other people. And so many strange 
things have happened lately..." She trailed off, her eyes moist. "She's not 
a social person, and probably never will be. But she has a good heart, I 
think, and she's taking this...*business*...seriously. Just...don't expect 
her to get friendly. It just isn't her thing."

The tall girl nodded. "That kinda sucks, but I guess she didn't ask for this 
either, huh?"

"No..." Usagi said softly, sadly. "No, she didn't."

=-------------=

Mina slumped against the roof access door, panting. Sweat plastered her 
bangs to her forehead. She wiped at the lenses of her mask with the back of 
her glove.

"Better. Much better that time."

She glared at Timothy and made a rude gesture. "You can only do a few simple 
tricks, huh?"

The white-haired man chuckled. He leaned lazily against a shining silver 
rapier. His customary attire had been replaced by flowing white silk robes, 
silver boots and gloves, and a pearly white breastplate. Ever since the 
"training" started, he had pressed a series of relentless physical and 
magical attacks, forcing her to stay on the defensive, scrambling around the 
roof awkwardly and returning fire whenever she had a chance.

He wasn't even breathing hard, damn him.

"Come on, love," Timothy said. "I know you're not THAT tired yet."

"Sod off," Mina panted, glowering at him. Rising shakily to her feet, she 
braced herself to move rapidly; she'd learned early in the session that 
Timothy tended to attack without warning--and he was FAST. "One question," 
she asked as her breathing grew less laboured.

"Hmm?"

"If you're packing this much badass, what the hell do you need with Senshi? 
Why are you putting me through this when you're way stronger than me?"

Timothy chuckled. "Mina...I've been doing this a lot longer than you have. 
You don't even have your full power yet. Once you do, it'll take you all of 
ten seconds to beat me bloody."

The blond regarded him sceptically. "I don't know...I'm starting to get a 
little upset with all these things you keep not telling me."

The white-haired man sighed. "I know, and I'm sorry, I really am. It's just 
that right now, things are delicate...it wouldn't do to dump everything on 
you all at once." He paused. "The Princess, Mercury, and Jupiter were all 
thrust into their roles rather abruptly, in the midst of traumatic emotional 
shocks. They're handling it fairly well, all things considered, but--" He 
sighed. "It isn't the way I'd prefer things to happen. That's why I'm taking 
it slowly with you, trying not to give you too much to worry about all at 
once. I know you're strong, Mina. I just...don't want to have to find out 
how much pressure you can take before you crack." An old, deep pain filled 
his eyes. "I never want to watch someone break under pressure again. Not 
someone I care about."

Mina stared at him, eyes wide. Where was THIS coming from...? "Timothy..."

The white-haired man shook himself, then smiled, the roguish twinkle 
returning to his stormy eyes. "So, ready for another go?"

The Senshi-in-training sighed. "Yeah, let's--"

She was sprawled in a heap on the other end of the roof before she even saw 
him move.

*God, this sucks.*

=-------------=

"So that's everything. Well, everything I know."

Usagi and Makoto sat on the bank of the canal, watching the sun set. They 
had been there for the past hour; Usagi had launched into a disorderly but 
mostly complete debriefing, telling the newest Senshi about the Moon 
Kingdom, the Dark Kingdom, the strange panther with the enigmatic master who 
were going around Awakening Senshi, and the battles they had already faced.

She had left out certain details, such as the circumstances of Mercury's 
Awakening.

Now, as the last light of day faded away, Makoto sat silently beside her, 
taking it all in.

"Sounds pretty crazy, doesn't it?" Usagi said, smiling shyly.

"Yeah. But..." The brunette glanced down at the green bracelet on her wrist. 
"Well, I've got the proof right here, don't I? Speaking of which..." She 
glanced around; there didn't seem to be anybody anywhere nearby.

"Jupiter Power, Make-Up!"

Green light exploded outward, and Jupiter appeared in Makoto's place. The 
Senshi exhaled sharply. "Whew. That's a relief."

Usagi stood, smiling. "Just...be careful what you do with that, ne? We're 
very strong as Senshi, and you don't want to go around hurting people that 
can't fight back."

Jupiter cast her gaze to the ground. "Yeah, I know. I mean, I know now. I 
won't go flying off the handle again. I just..." She sighed. "I gotta lotta 
crap to deal with, and this week's been hell on me. So when I got this 
power, I just kinda..."

Usagi's smile turned sad. "I think I understand." She stretched. "I need to 
get home. I'll see you tomorrow?"

Jupiter transformed back into Makoto, who smiled and nodded. "Un. Ja, 
Usagi!"

The two girls went their separate ways.

=-------------=

Timothy had insisted they end the day's training session with a "cool-down 
jog".

What he'd actually meant was that they were going to dash across half of the 
Minato ward, keeping to the rooftops, at deadly speeds.

They had run/jumped for ten minutes, crossing Azabu-Juuban twice, and Mina 
was just beginning to grow winded. Suddenly, Timothy jerked to a halt two 
rooftops away. Blinking, the blond pulled up alongside him. "What's wrong?"

Timothy pointed down into the street below. "You see those two guys there?"

Mina followed his gaze, and groaned. "Oh man, why do I keep running into 
jewel thieves in this stupid city?"

The two masked men below were holding guns, and were clearly about to break 
into a jewelry store across the street.

The white-haired man eyed Mina speculatively, then grinned. "Tell you what. 
Why don't we make this your 'homework' for today."

The Senshi blinked. "You mean, stop the robbery?"

Timothy shrugged. "Why not? It's an easy workout, and you'll be doing some 
poor soul a favor."

"Some 'poor' soul who owns a jewelry store?" Mina asked, raising an eyebrow. 
Laughing, she continued, "Well...alright. Just don't grade me on a curve, 
okay?"

"Love, if I graded you on curves--" Timothy trailed off with a suggestive 
leer.

Mina grimaced. "I've got to stop setting myself up like that." Shaking her 
head, she descended to the street, just as the burglar alarm of the jewelry 
store began to ring.

=-------------=

As Usagi trudged wearily home, a shadow peeled itself away from the canal 
railing; a pair of red eyes blinked up at her.

"You look exhausted," Luna remarked.

"It's been a long day."

"Did you talk to Jupiter?"

"Yeah." Usagi paused. "Luna? What do you know about ways to take away a 
Senshi's powers?"

The youma blinked. "Take away..." She paused. "You want to strip Jupiter of 
her powers, just because she ran off?"

"No, it's not like that," Usagi replied, shaking her head. "It's just...she 
says she met someone yesterday who..." The tea-haired girl paused, then 
shrugged. "Stopped her powers, somehow. Broke her transformation. She got 
them back about thirty minutes ago."

Luna's eyes widened. "Such power exists? But..."

"Then you don't know anything about it?"

"I've never heard of anything like this before," Luna replied, shaking her 
head. "As far as I know, only the Ginzuishou can do that. Or a circle of 
High..." She trailed off, eyes wide. "High Lunar Mages..."

The princess and the youma shared a glance.

"I want to have a word with your 'Master'," Usagi said, a cold fire in her 
eyes--eyes which were suddenly blue and sharp, despite her not having 
transformed. "As soon as possible. No excuses."

Luna could not completely repress a shudder at the tone in the young girl's 
voice.

=-------------=

"Tadaima," Usagi called as she walked through the door.

"Usagi-chan! Come see this!" Ikuko called excitedly from the living room.

"Eh?" The tea-haired girl shuffled into house slippers, then entered the 
living room, where her parents were anxiously glued to the television. 
"What's going--"

"SHH!"

On the screen, a reporter stood in front of a jewelry store--one which Usagi 
recognised as Osa-P. Police lights were flashing behind the reporter, and 
uniformed officers were bustling to and fro in the background.

//--robbery was foiled by a mysterious vigilante,// the reporter was saying. 
//And we have exclusive video footage of one of the most amazing and 
unbelievable events in this city's history.//

The caption 'Earlier Tonight--Amateur Video' replaced the reporter, along 
with a much less active view of the Osa-P storefront. The glass doors of the 
store suddenly exploded, and a loud alarm rang out. Two men in ski masks, 
armed with guns, dashed out of the store, clutching large sacks.

"STOP RIGHT THERE!" a voice called.

The shaky camera panned wildly around, and then focused--more or less--on a 
figure standing atop a streetlight. Despite the poor focus and the bad 
lighting, the shape of the figure was unmistakeably female.

Her voice carried clearly through the night, even over the din of the 
burglar alarms. "Jewels are pretty, and everybody wants to have lots and 
lots of them, but anybody who goes around stealing other peoples' jewelry is 
just asking for trouble! Now, drop the guns and give back the loot, or 
else!"

Gunshots rang out. The cameraman dove wildly, causing his camera to shake 
violently. When he got his bearings again and the camera focused, the female 
figure was leaping down from her perch, landing in the middle of the street. 
Two more gunshots rang out, but she didn't seem concerned. Instead, she 
extended a hand, pointing a finger at the crooks.

"CRESCENT BEAM!"

A golden shaft of light lanced out from her finger, sending one thief's gun 
flying. A second blast dealt with the other gun as its owner stared in 
shock. The two men stood, transfixed, unsure what to do.

Sirens sounded from off camera, and red lights threw eerie shadows across 
the scene. In the flickering strobes, the mysterious girl was finally 
revealed in more detail: she wore what looked like a severely modified 
seifuku, spike-heeled sandals, and a large mask over her eyes. Golden hair 
fanned out behind her.

The crooks looked from the strange schoolgirl to the rapidly approaching 
police cars, and scrambled down the sidewalk at a breakneck run, bags of 
loot dropping forgotten to the pavement.

The mystery girl suddenly leapt high into the air; the cameraman followed 
her jump, but she disappeared seemingly in midair.

The video feed returned to the live reporter. //And that was the scene. Just 
who is this mysterious vigilante? What were those blasts of light? We'll 
keep you informed with the latest on this bizarre incident as it unfolds.//

Kenji clicked off the television. "Can you believe it?"

"I've never seen anything like that!" Ikuko cried. "It's like something out 
of one of your silly manga, ne Usagi-chan? ...Usagi-chan?"

Usagi had left the room.

=-------------=

"That was a little sloppy," Timothy chided as Mina rejoined him on a rooftop 
two blocks away from the crime scene.

"Huh? I didn't get hurt, I didn't hurt the bad guys, and they didn't get 
away. What else do you want?"

"You were videotaped," Timothy informed her. "And because I was worried 
about keeping the police from trying to chase YOU, I didn't manage to get to 
the man with the camera before he slipped the tape to a news crew." He 
smirked. "Right about now, your face should be plastered across televisions 
all over Tokyo."

Mina's eyes widened behind her mask. "Eep."

"Don't worry. Your identity is safe. Part of the Senshi transformation is a 
glamour--a disguise spell that makes it impossible for anyone to remember 
your face. Your own mother wouldn't know you if you were standing two feet 
in front of her." He crossed his arms. "More importantly, we've got a lot of 
work ahead of us. Tonight's little performance wasn't bad, exactly, but 
you're a long way from ready for real action."

Mina wilted a bit at his criticism. Then, she looked out over the city, the 
light evening wind stirring her hair. "Ne, if I was on the telly, does that 
mean the Princess and the others saw me tonight?"

"Probably."

"What're we gonna do about that? I mean, aren't they gonna be pissed or 
something? What do we tell them about tonight?"

Timothy shrugged. "C'est la vie."

Mina sighed. "Right. Well, I should get home. See you tomorrow?"

"I'll call you."

The white-haired man and the Senshi disappeared silently into the night.

Neither of them noticed the man standing in an alley below, a notebook in 
hand, pencil scribbling furiously.

Most of the conversation he'd just overheard, he couldn't follow, as they 
had been speaking English. But the female voice clearly belonged to the 
vigilante. It sounded like her companion wasn't thrilled with her, either.

He looked over the notes he'd taken, cursing his lack of proper attention in 
English class in school. The furiously scribbled kana added up to a whole 
lot of gibberish, as he'd only gotten every third word or so.

One thing, however, he'd heard VERY clearly--and it would be enough to 
guarantee a front page byline.

The very last line of kana he'd written, he underlined.

Se-ra-bi.

He frowned. That last didn't sound QUITE right. Idly, he chewed on the 
eraser of his pencil, then nodded thoughtfully, crossing out the last 
character, and carefully wrote in a new line below it:

Se-ra-V.

Grinning as he pocketed his notebook, he hopped onto his scooter and sped 
off for the newspaper office...

=-------------=

to be continued

=-------------=



================================
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www.lurkerdrome.com




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