[FFML] [fanfic][Sailormoon] Moonshadow, chapter 16 (draft)

The Eternal Lost Lurker lurkerdrome at sbcglobal.net
Sat Aug 15 01:52:46 PDT 2009



Continuing onward. I haven't yet reformatted 14-15 for the web; I have been 
working on various other aspects of my site since recovering from my 
computer difficulties.

I have made a minor retcon to the stoy overall: I have altered the time 
frame of the setting. Originally, this story was set in early to mid June; 
this was arbitrary, and circumstances have forced me to roll the timeframe 
back to April. The relevant date inferences in earlier chapters have been 
changed to reflect this.

C&C welcome.

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"A..." Usagi squeaked out, face pale. "Ami-san, that's a terrible thing to 
say!"

"Kino-san maintains an inordinate supply of birth control products, 
including emergency contraceptives which are just barely legal in Japan and 
are highly difficult to obtain even on a case-by-case basis," Ami explained 
patiently. "There is a notebook on her desk containing a list of names--all 
of which appear to be masculine names. You have stated that she has no 
family, and lives alone--a highly improbable circumstance." She pushed her 
glasses up, and they reflected the lights in the living room eerily. "The 
evidence suggests Kino-san supports herself through, at the *very* least, 
enjokosai, if not outright prostitution."

Usagi sank to her knees. "Kino-san is..."

"This information does not change the situation," Ami said in a clinical 
tone. "Kino-san is still missing, and we still do not know what has happened 
to her. However, this new information adds numerous possibilities, none of 
which are aligned in our favour."

The long-haired girl stared at her, horrified. "Ami-san...how can you be so 
calm about..."

"Kino-san's personal life does not concern me," Ami said. "My opinion of 
this discovery is irrelevant. She is still Jupiter, and thus is still 
necessary to the continuation of our battle against the Dark Kingdom. 
Therefore, we must determine her whereabouts. You *do* still intend to find 
her, do you not?"

"Of course I do! But--"

"Then let us continue our investigation."

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

Studio ELL Presents

MOONSHADOW

Adapted from "Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon" by Takeuchi Naoko.

16: Without Honour Or Humanity

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

Makoto flexed her wrists, straining against the bonds holding her. The cuffs 
were tight; too much stress and she risked opening a vein.

She reached into herself, trying to clamp onto the power of Jupiter, but it 
seemed to have retreated, scattered; she could not summon even a fraction of 
her power.

Of course, she had not expected to be able to transform; one of the few 
times she'd been able to see clearly since awakening in her prison, she'd 
realized they had removed her henshin bracelet.

The drugs they kept pumping her full of probably weren't helping.

*Dammit...I KNOW the power's there, I just can't...*

A low, pitiful moan intruded into her thoughts. She focused her gaze across 
the room, and winced.

Motoki was awake.

"Nnnn....'ko-cha...wh..."

"Shh," Makoto advised. "They fucked you up pretty bad. I'm amazed you're 
even still alive."

One horribly blackened, puffy eye drifted hazily toward her. "Who..."

"Goddamn yakuza," Makoto replied. "If I'd known Okuda rolled like that, I'd 
never have taken the job."

"Okuda...? Damn," Motoki hissed. "I'm sorry, Mako-chan...didn't know..."

"It's my fault." Makoto sighed. "Dammit, this ain't the way I wanted to 
die."

"Not go...die, Mako-chan," Motoki wheezed. A gout of blood spurted from his 
mouth. "Ugh...thirsty."

"Don't talk anymore," Makoto advised. "Save your energy."

"Mmm...k." Mere seconds later, Motoki was unconscious again.

Makoto sighed deeply. *God this sucks.*

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

Usagi sat on Makoto's sofa, knees drawn to her chest. "But who'd take 
Kino-san?" she asked. "What were they looking for?"

"We don't have enough information to deduce that at present," Ami replied, 
continuing to examine the room. She frowned. "Something seems amiss, 
however."

"Ami-san...Kino-san is missing, her desk is wrecked, there's rotten food in 
the kitchen, and she's a hooker. What ISN'T amiss about all this?"

The shorter girl paused to wipe her glasses on the hem of her skirt. "The 
front door was locked, correct?"

"Hai."

"Which means that the last person to leave this apartment had the keys."

Usagi frowned. "Hai..."

"One would assume the key to Kino-san's desk drawer would be on the same 
keyring as her apartment keys."

The long-haired girl's brow furrowed. "I suppo..." she trailed off. "But her 
desk drawer was broken open by force!"

"Precisely. Also, the notebook on her desk..." Ami walked over to the desk 
and, producing a tissue from a pocket, picked it up and carefully leafed 
through it. "If her disappearance is related to her...extracurricular 
activities, then it doesn't make sense that her abductor would leave this 
behind."

"Hmm." Usagi stood, frowning. She walked over to the desk, and produced her 
own handkerchief, using it to cover her fingers as she tapped at buttons on 
Makoto's phone. "They'd probably want to erase this too, wouldn't they?"

"Hai." Ami glanced at the phone's Caller ID display as Usagi scrolled 
through it. "That one number seems to call quite often."

"Un." Usagi reached for the notebook on the desk and, ignoring Ami's 
protests, ripped a clean sheet from the back, picked up a small brown pen, 
and wrote down the number. "Maybe whoever this is knows something."

Ami shrugged. "It's a lead."

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

Five minutes past sunset, Luna emerged onto the hotel roof. "Master?" she 
called.

"Over here, on the rose path," Artemis called. Luna padded through the 
gardens, spotting the long white fan of the mage's hair. "Your report?"

"Mars has reinforced her barrier at the temple. It should withstand another 
youma attack."

"If Jadeite were fool enough to try it again. I don't recall him being that 
stupid."

"No, he certainly isn't. Still..."

"It's reassuring for the girls to have a fallback position in case things 
get ugly, yes." Artemis knelt and carefully clipped the stem of a rose, 
briefly inhaling its sweet aroma. "Speaking of Jadeite, any new information 
on his plans?"

Luna shook her head. "I have spotted him in four separate locations around 
the city, but as yet I have no idea what he's planning." She paused. "I've 
also sighted Lord Nephrite, in a coffee shop ten blocks from Tokyo Tower. He 
was meeting Lord Jadeite."

Artemis raised an eyebrow. "Jadeite AND Nephrite? This *is* getting 
interesting..."

"Master...the Senshi cannot withstand a combined assault from two of the 
Shitennou. And if all four were to appear at once..."

The mage chuckled. "Concerned for the Senshi, Luna?"

The youma growled. "I am aware that their continued safety is the *only* 
reason I am permitted to exist. If an ill fate befalls them, I have no 
delusions about what your next act would be."

"Ah, so it's mere self-preservation, then." Artemis shrugged, and discarded 
the beautiful flower into the dirt. "In that case, you'll probably want to 
help Her Majesty track down Jupiter."

Luna blinked. "AGAIN?! Surely after the first--"

"No, she hasn't gone rogue again. If it were that simple, I'd have already 
dealt with it." The mage sighed. "Jupiter has managed to get herself 
kidnapped, and her present circumstances prevent her from using her Senshi 
powers to escape."

The youma stared at the mage, eyes wide with disbelief. "KIDNAPPED?! By 
whom?"

Artemis shrugged. "Couldn't say."

"Bullshit. You know exactly where she is, exactly who has her, and you could 
save her in a minute yourself--"

"But then Princess Serenity and the other Senshi would learn nothing from 
the experience," Artemis replied. "If I show up to save the day for them 
every single time they get in trouble, what's going to happen when they have 
to face the Shitennou?"

"I...suppose there is a logic to that. But at the very least, you could tell 
them where--"

"I prefer to see if the princess can find Jupiter herself. How well she 
performs in this should be an indicator as to how suited she is for the task 
of actually finding the Maboroshi no Ginzuishou."

"So you're going to risk Jupiter's life for a test of Serenity's mental 
prowess?"

"If need be, yes."

"...you are an absolute bastard," Luna hissed.

Artemis chuckled. "So I've been told. You are not, incidentally, allowed to 
tell Princess Serenity or any of the Senshi that I could tell them where to 
find Jupiter." His eyes glowed softly. "You will obey this order."

Luna sighed. "Yes, Master." With that, she melted into the shadows.

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

As Ami searched the telephone directory, Usagi wandered around the 
apartment, mainly for lack of anything better to do; she was, however, 
keeping an eye open for anything unusual.

The sun had set an hour earlier, and faint rumbles of thunder could be heard 
outside. Peering out the kitchen window, Usagi noticed several small potted 
plants on the fire escape. They had begun to wilt; she debated bringing them 
inside and watering them.

She reached out to open the window, and blinked as it swung open at the 
slightest touch. "Huh?" Peering at the latch, she frowned. "Ami-san?"

"Yes, Tsukino-san?"

"Come take a look at this."

A moment passed before Ami joined her at the window. Usagi wordlessly 
pointed at the window latch; the shorter girl leaned closer, adjusting her 
glasses. Her eyebrows went up sharply. "This latch has been cut."

"Un." Usagi paused. "Could whoever took Makoto-san have--"

"They may have come in through the window, but it is unlikely they exited 
the same way, especially with a captive." Ami pointed at the plants outside. 
"If someone abducted a girl of Kino-san's size and strength, it is doubtful 
they would be able to carry her down the fire escape, especially without 
disturbing her plants." She paused, then gingerly lifted one of the fragile 
pots into the apartment. "These require water."

Usagi giggled. "That's exactly what I was about to do when I found the 
broken latch."

Ami snorted. "Interesting way to find a clue."

A loud peal of thunder made Usagi jump. "I think we'd better call it quits 
for tonight and get home before it starts pouring."

"Agreed." Ami paused. "Have you alerted the other Senshi as to the 
disappearance of Kino-san?"

"Not yet," Usagi said as she gathered up her bag and detached her umbrella.

"It would be prudent to do so," Ami said, stowing her glasses and 
unlimbering her own umbrella. "Until tomorrow, then."

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

Mina surveyed the shrine grounds, and felt a surge of satisfaction. It had 
taken a few days, but there were no traces left of the damage inflicted by 
the battle. She brushed dust off her hands, smoothed the hakama she had 
borrowed from Rei, and nodded. "Not bad," she mused aloud.

"Not bad indeed," Rei's grandfather said, smiling. He bowed. "I appreciate 
your aid in restoring the grounds, Minako-kun."

The blond returned the bow. "It was my pleasure, and I'm glad I was able to 
be of assistance." She stretched. "I'd better go get cleaned up and changed, 
it's getting pretty late."

She entered Rei's room, and found the miko staring at her phone, frowning. 
"Something wrong, Rei?"

"Mina-san, perhaps you should check your e-mail."

Brow creasing, Mina retrieved her own phone from her bag, and called up her 
mail. She skimmed the messages, and her eyes widened. "Holy crap."

"We must assist Tsukino-hime if at all possible," Rei insisted, closing her 
phone with a snap. "The disappearance of one of our number...it does not 
bode well."

"Yeah, no kidding." Mina shook her head, slipping her phone back into her 
bag. "Doesn't look like there's much we can do, though..."

"I will ruminate on this matter before the sacred fire tonight," Rei said. 
"I will see you tomorrow, Mina-san."

"Yeah..."

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

Usagi did not sleep well that night. Ami found herself somewhat distracted 
as she spent the last minutes before bed reading.

Mina slept soundly, but worry for her new friend and the comrade she had yet 
to meet did not afford her pleasant dreams. Rei remained awake well into the 
night, meditating before the sacred fire. Luna prowled the streets, 
searching for any hint of the missing Senshi.

Makoto did not sleep; rather, she drifted in and out of consciousness as the 
various drugs in her system waned in potency and were reinforced by the 
gangsters who came and went throughout the night.

Motoki died shortly before three in the morning. His body was left hanging 
in front of Makoto.

Sunrise came all too soon for some, and not soon enough for others...

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

The bristles of Rei's broom scraped soothingly along the damp stones of the 
temple steps. The sound balmed her soul; she had always loved the simple act 
of sweeping the steps. It focused her, it cleared her mind...

"Rei-chan?"

The miko stiffened, broom coming to a halt. "Aritsuka," she said in a hard, 
foreboding tone.

A well-dressed, stocky man with stiff, bristly hair and mirrored sunglasses 
stood at the base of the shrine steps, hands clasped behind his back. His 
well-lined face set into a frown which deepened the ugly scar on his left 
cheek. "Rei-chan, that's hardly a proper way to greet your father."

Rei's violet eyes locked onto the man's face, the fires of Hell itself 
snapping in her gaze. "If such a person existed, I would respectfully greet 
him as Chichiue. However, no such person exists. What is your business here? 
You are aware that you are not permitted--"

"Yes, I know, restraining order," the man said dismissively, waving a hand. 
"Look, Rei-chan..." He sighed. "I just...today..."

"If you do not leave immediately, I will summon the police," Rei snapped 
impatiently.

The scarred man scowled, then nodded stiffly. "Alright." He turned to head 
for the large black luxury sedan parked at the curb. He paused briefly, 
turned, and fished a small wrapped package from his pocket, which he tossed 
up to the miko. "Happy birthday, Rei-chan."

Rei stoically watched the car pull away, expression blank. After several 
seconds, she knelt down and picked up the package, studying it for a long 
moment. With a sigh, she opened it.

Inside was a glittering green bracelet which sparkled in the early morning 
sun. A tiny sigil was engraved on it, barely visible; it bore a resemblance 
to a stylised number '4'. As she fingered the clasp, she felt a small tingle 
of static electricity.

Her eyes widened. *Masaka...*

Horror and worry creasing her face, she dashed into the shrine, broom 
forgotten on the steps. Darting into her bedroom, she snatched up her phone.

"Tsukino-hime? I believe I know who has captured Kino-shi..."

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

to be continued

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



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