Tokyo, Japan-- 4 years after the defeat of Galaxia
"Another youma?! What do we have to do to get rid of these things?"
"Don't worry, Jupiter, it's as good as moondust!"
The triumphant voice of Sailormoon rang out among the cold, still night, as she performed her attack. The dark-haired woman watching from the shadows shuddered, almost absentmindedly, as if that confidence stirred up some old, forgotten memory.
"Good going, Sailormoon," a sarcastic voice attached to a woman dressed in a red sailor fuku shouted, "You missed."
The blonde in question looked cross, and muttered something under her breath, but dodged the youma's attack deftly. "I'd like to see you do better, Mars!"
As the Senshi battled the youma, unperturbed, far off to their left in a dark, abandoned alley, a light flared. Once. Twice. Only the dark-haired woman noticed, and she gave a small, almost terrified, cry of dismay. Already... it was beginning.
Back out in the open, Sailorjupiter felt herself getting unusually winded, and she stopped a moment to catch her breath. 'What's the matter with me?' she thought, biting her lip, as she watched Sailormars and Moon attacking the demon. Then suddenly, something strange happened.
The youma grew, not in size, but in strength. Although Jupiter couldn't see it, she could feel it, the demon's rising battle aura darkening the whole street. 'I'm... imagining things...'
"Sailormoon! Need a hand?"
The three Senshi turned simultaneously at the sound of the voice, Moon grinning when she saw the masked face of her love. "Mam-- Er, I mean, Tuxedo Kamen-sama! You came!"
The man in the tuxedo pulled out a long red rose, and hurtled it at their enemy. The youma hissed and shrinked away, and he tipped his hat in the direction of his love. "I'll always be here to help you when evil rears its ugly head, Sailormoon! Now, ladies, if you will..." He gestured to the flailing youma, and Moon began her finishing move. Abruptly, the youma, who oddly had seemed to fixate its gaze on the young man, shot out a long, oozing tendril. Tuxedo Kamen dodged just in time, the edge of his cape ripped off by the strike.
Jupiter turned toward him in concern, and her eyes slowly widened. What was that? A stirring in the air, behind him... "Tuxedo Kamen! Look ou--" The burst of power that emerged from this new creature's chest was so fast, and so furious that all Jupiter could do was gasp in shock.
The attack hit him dead-on, impaling him through the chest. His eyes glazed over, a trickle of blood running out of his mouth, before his body thudded heavily to the ground. The dark creature gave a decidedly satisfied shriek, which sounded vaguely to the dazed Jupiter like that of a woman's laughter, and vanished, along with the youma, in a streak of tainted-white light.
"We gather here to pay tribute to the man known as Mamoru Chiba, taken from us in the prime of his life..."
It was a private ceremony, held in front of the Hikawa Shrine. Nine women, one man, and two cats huddled under umbrellas, many weeping bitter tears, although none as grief-stricken as the lithe blonde woman crouched next to the black coffin, sobbing desperately.
"Usagi..." the lone man in the group stepped forward, thinking he had to do at least something to comfort her in her suffering, but the other women held him back.
"No, Motoki," the woman named Makoto said in a voice laden with emotion,"let her grieve now. After this is over.. we must all try to give her comfort."
As the others murmured amongst themselves, four of the women broke off from the group unnoticed.
"What will happen now, Setsuna?" the aqua-haired woman asked softly, casting a saddened look at the weeping blonde.
Setsuna closed her eyes, her face pale and worried. "I..don't know, Michiru. There has been a great disturbance in time. I can feel its ripples even now."
"Well, of course there has!" the sandy-brown haired woman spat out bitterly. "Don't you think we already know that? Without Endymion..."
"There can be no Crystal Tokyo," the youngest of the group, a woman with luminous violet eyes, finished calmly. "We know this as well, Haruka-san. That is why we must come up with a solution..."
"How can you be so calm?" Haruka glared at her, but all she got in return was a blank stare.
"We're all in shock, Haruka," Michiru said gently. "There is no need to take it out on Hotaru."
Setsuna turned away from them. "A dark force has entered this world, my Senshi, a force which could very well tear the fabric of our reality apart. Bickering amongst ourselves will only further the inevitable... we must hinder this, not help it." Her tone became suddenly sharp. "Look after Serenity. She'll be the first to fall."
Setsuna gave them a quick nod as a farewell, and walked towards the road, leaving an uneasy group of women to stand alone in the rain, and ponder her words.
Usagi Tsukino lay quietly on her bed, eyes staring blankly at the ceiling, hands clasped together calmly on her lap. She had been doing that for most of the day, most of every day, and Luna was becoming sick with worry. Usagi's mother seemed to find nothing wrong; Usagi got up for breakfast, lunch, and dinner as usual, and answered all of her family's questions normally, yet always with the same vacant expression in her eyes. And although she ate, Usagi had begun to waste away, her face almost gaunt, always tired.
'She's almost like a...zombie.' Luna sighed deeply, her thoughts troubled. She tried the same line she had used every day to rouse Usagi from her stupor, "Usagi? Would you like to go outside? Get some candy? ...Usagi?" and as always, failed miserably.
On one particular day, five weeks after Mamoru's death, Usagi rose early, leaving the sleeping Luna in peace, and walking hesitantly outdoors. Her thoughts were almost... nonexistent, the only thing that drove her was an insistent, familiar call that originated in the back of her head. She had to go to it.
The voice led her down many streets, so many, in fact, that their names blurred together as one in her head, leaving her with a distinctly uncomfortable feeling. The feeling of being lost....
She suddenly stopped, the voice having faded away, leaving her in a dark, park-like area. She blinked several times, wondering how long she had been walking.
A woman materialized out of the shadows, her voice deep and throaty. Usagi looked at her dully. "Who are you?"
"I've come to help you," the woman replied, ignoring her question. She smiled ferally, eyes glinting. "I promise I won't let you down." She laughed, a laugh that for one moment Usagi recognized with crystal clarity...
And in another part of Tokyo.... two women disappeared without a trace...
As the years went by, the Senshi drifted apart, as Usagi became more and more distant. She spoke to Luna with a forced cordiality, her parents with a practiced coolness. Although her hair became the destined silver, and her clumsiness vanished altogether, Luna knew something was missing. Some small part of her......
And then, finally, the crystalline spire rose up from the center of Tokyo, and the future began...
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