Press play to listen to the story (Indian Accent):
Ten thousand years ago, the earth and the moon housed great civilizations. The Moon Kingdom (known at this time as the Silver Millennium) oversaw the development of the still primitive human race on the planet Earth. The humans for their part; longed for and resented the immortality of the beings living on the moon. A malevolent force that became known as Queen Metallia abruptly appeared and made good use of the simmering hatred and jealousy that the humans had; corrupting them and creating a “Dark Kingdom” whose forces plunged the two spheres into war.
Queen Serenity; the ruler of the Moon Kingdom, watched in horror as her kingdom’s four guardians, the “Sailor Soldiers” – Sailor Mercury, Sailor Mars, Sailor Jupiter and Sailor Venus, fell before the advancing enemy’s forces. The queen was then devastated to see her only daughter; Princess Serenity and Princess Serenity’s lover; the Prince of the Earth, Endymion brutally killed. It was at that point that Queen Serenity had a choice to make: obliterate the enemy here for all time and consign the spirits of her kingdom’s protectors and daughter to the emptiness of oblivion forever or seal the enemy away and allow the souls of those she loved dearly to be reborn on Earth at some point in its future. The love in her heart made her choose the latter option; dying in the process but still firmly believing that the sailor soldiers and her daughter could finally live full and happy lives in the future. However; she knew that that should the great evil that she had just sealed away ever reawaken once more; those brave warriors would have to take up the battle in her stead and protect the innocent people of Earth.
In the present day, the evil of the Dark Kingdom did indeed awakened and the time came for the sailor soldiers to be called upon to fight once again against their ancient enemy in the forgotten war. The first of the sailor soldiers to awaken; Minako Aino, was a typical teenage girl who was more interested in going out on dates or sneaking into pop concerts than fighting for peace and justice. However; thanks to a magical pen given to her by a talking white cat named Artemis, one of the few survivors from the long-forgotten war of the past, she was able to unlock the power that was her birthright; the power of Sailor Venus. She became the super heroine known as Sailor V or the “idol soldier”. She battled against the monstrous forces of the mysterious “Dark Agency”; an organization dedicated to manipulating pop stars and idols in order to extract the energy from Japanese teens for some mysterious purpose. When she finally destroyed the “Dark Agency”; Sailor V learned that it was merely a front for the reawakened Dark Kingdom. Realizing that the stakes were now raised and the great war of the past was once again threatening to engulf the world of today; she finally fully embraced her true destiny as Sailor Venus and resolved to locate the other reborn sailor soldiers and restore the memories of their former lives as well so that they could all meet the threat of the Dark Kingdom head on.
The legend of Sailor V and her adventures quickly became well-known across the vast country of Japan. The celebrity status the young hero achieved made quite an impression on a klutzy teenage girl named Usagi Tsukino. She grew to idolize Sailor V and wanted nothing more than to be just like her. However; this most seemingly unheroic young lady finally got her wish one day when she ran into a talking black cat named Luna. Like Minako Aino before her; she too was to become a sailor soldier known as Sailor Moon through the help of a magical brooch.
Usagi muddled her way through her first few battles with the Dark Kingdom with the help of Luna and a dashing and mysterious figure known as Tuxedo Mask (by night and Mamoru Chiba by day). Being a soldier of “love and justice” was not a job Usagi wanted and as the Dark Kingdom’s minions continued to wreak havoc across the city of Tokyo; Usagi greatly feared that she would have to shoulder the burden of battle alone. Fortunately through her encounters with the Dark Kingdom; she discovered other people that shared the same destiny as her, two young teenage girls that also possessed the pre-determined birthrights that granted them the powers and responsibilities of being a sailor warrior. Ami Mizuno became Sailor Mercury; the warrior of water and wisdom, Rei Hino, the soldier of fire and passion known as Sailor Mars and finally Makoto Kino, the embodiment of strength and courage as Sailor Jupiter. Minako Aino; the crusader of love and beauty would be the last to join the group and together, the five of them re-formed the Sailor Soldiers team with the solemn duty of protecting planet Earth and its inhabitants from the forces of darkness.
Over the following months; they faced the worst that the Dark Kingdom had to offer. However; they were not alone in that trying endeavour. A mysterious and powerful being joined their ranks after saving Usagi from one of the many monsters that made up the Dark Kingdom’s seemingly endless legions. This new warrior; who was named Carnage, was actually an old ally of the Silver Millennium Kingdom on the Moon where the girls had originally lived many millennia ago. He trained the young ladies using his many years of battle experience and knowledge so that they were better suited when they launched their final assault against the Dark Kingdom’s main base of operations.
When the time came for the final battle to occur; the sailors found themselves to be easy prey for the DD Girls, who were the chosen Dark Kingdom servants to greet them out on the frozen ice and snow of the North Pole. One by one; the sailors fell in battle and their lifeless corpses were put on display for all spectators to bear witness to. When Usagi was finally left all by herself; she confronted the Dark Kingdom’s leader, Queen Beryl and her brainwashed servant, Prince Endyimon in her throne room. The prince was actually her true love and former ally; known as Tuxedo Mask before he had been captured and made into a servant of the Dark Kingdom. After a short but tough battle, Sailor Moon was able to reach the final bit of humanity left in him and purge the negative energy controlling him from his body; restoring him to his normal gentle self.
This act insulted and infuriated Queen Beryl who then tried to kill them both with a surprise attack. Prince Endyimon deflected the incoming crystal spear with one of his characteristic red roses which continued on and impaled itself deep in Beryl’s chest. This counter-attack caused Beryl to retreat and seek assistance from the Dark Kingdom’s true ruler; the newly revitalized Queen Metallia. The infusion of Metallia’s energy into Beryl’s body caused Beryl to grow to an enormous size.
Sailor Moon; having escaped from the internal realm of the Dark Kingdom’s main base, confronted Beryl on the frozen ice sheets of the Earth’s surface. Channelling the strength and spirits of her fallen friends as well as her other friend Carnage (who was at that point, defending their home city of Tokyo from Beryl’s final assault), she was able to harness the full power of her ultimate magical item; the Silver Crystal. This allowed her to create a massive pink and black sphere of concentrated energy that vaporized both Beryl and Metallia and ended the threat that they posed to the world for all time.
The nature of the Silver Crystal’s power allowed for it’s user to be granted one single wish. However the physical toll on the human body that was required to use the crystal was well beyond what the human body could withstand. Just before Usagi died; she silently wished that she could go back and live her ordinary life with her friends as they had been doing before the Dark Kingdom appeared in their world. In a bright flash of light; the crystal flared and the entire world went black.
When the light reappeared and illuminated the Earth once again; everything seemed to be back to where it had been previously. Usagi and her friends were all alive and well and doing what they normally did on a daily basis. However; there was one major consequence from the crystal’s usage, all of their memories had been erased and they seemingly were living as they had been one year in the past. Since Carnage and their guardian cats; Luna and Artemis had been outside of the crystal’s power perimeter, their memories remained intact. Realizing that his presence would only complicate the girls’ lives and not wanting to draw them back into the seemingly-endless struggle of protecting this planet; Carnage decided to leave Japan and his girlfriend, Makoto so that they could all live in peace as they were originally intended to.
After three months; it became necessary for Luna to reawaken Usagi and the other girls as Sailor Warriors when the Doom Tree and its servants came to Earth in search of human energy for their continued survival. With their reawakening; the girls’ memories were restored and they remembered everything that had happened involving Carnage and the Dark Kingdom.
As they battled against the Doom Tree and its cardigan monsters; they tried to find out what had exactly happened to their friend and teammate during that fateful night. Artemis and Luna’s description of what had happened when Queen Beryl sent her remaining armies to the city on a mission of murder and mayhem had made the girls assume the worst. The horrible reality that he had also fallen in battle just as they had but was not restored due to him being too far away from the Silver Crystal’s energy output.
When the Sailors finally learned the true identities of the Doom Tree’s servants; they confronted them and an epic battle ensued. As it turned out; the Doom Tree was not inherently evil but had been merely corrupted by its surrounding environment. Alan and Ann; who were just babies when the Tree left their previous planet, had known nothing but malice and aggression and were raised to believe that is how life was supposed to operate. Sailor Moon used her Moon Sceptre and its healing properties to cleanse the negative energy from both the Tree and Alan and Ann; filling them up with the power of love and compassion in its place. After which; Alan and Ann took the sapling that was all that was left of the Tree following the purge and journeyed back out into outer space so that they could find a new world to raise the sapling and start their lives over again.
Chapter One : A Stranger in his homeland
It was not going to be a good day. Even though on this beautiful June morning, where the sun was shining, the birds were chirping and a warm breeze was gently blowing through the tree branches; James Saki was completely convinced it was going to end badly for him. He walked down the street towards his school with his head down and hands in the pockets of his navy blue school uniform. He silently prayed and pleaded to any higher power that was listening for nothing to happen to him today.
James stood approximately 5’8 but because he constantly slouched his shoulders and generally had very poor posture; he measured at just over 5’7. He had short light brown hair and a thin body frame with very little muscle tone. He wore a pair of thin-rimmed glasses due to his ‘near-sightless’.
He entered the school’s front doors and quickly changed into his indoor shoes before beginning to make his way through the busy hallways to his locker. He had been attending Juban Junior High school for three years now and knew the way to his locker by heart. He didn’t need to look for class numbers or landmarks to act as guides for him. As per usual; he kept his eyes looking down at the floor as he navigated through the crowds of students so that he didn’t draw any unwanted attention to himself. This allowed him to blend in with the masses of students and effectively become almost completely invisible to them. He was being very careful to not make eye contact with anyone as he passed by them. The last thing he needed was for someone to catch him looking at them and completely misinterpret it.
As he neared his destination; he hoped that he actually was as invisible as he was trying to be when he noticed a particular group of boys a short distance down the hall from his locker. When he reached it; he quickly unlocked the door and began putting his lunch and books inside as he prepared for the day’s morning classes.
“Hey Hollywood… why are you trying to avoid us?”
James dropped his head and let out a deep sigh as he felt his spirit drop. He knew that it had been simply too much to ask that even for just one day; he would not have to hear someone call him by that degrading name. He sighed deeply again and steadied his shoulders before turning to face the owner of the comment.
Sure enough; Atsuo Yoshi was standing there and as always was surrounded by his loyal entourage of friends. Atsuo was of average height and weight. He was slightly taller than James at 5’9 and clearly was more muscular as he noticeably filled out his school uniform more so than James. He had short black hair and was quite popular among the student body because of his varsity status on the school’s baseball team. It seemed ironic to James that Atsuo’s name in Japanese meant ‘Friendly man’ and yet he was anything but to him. Case in point; he had a smug look on his face right now as he waited patiently for James to give some sort of response to his sarcastic question.
“Hello Atsuo! What are you talking about? I wasn’t avoiding you at all. I just had to get some books from my locker before my first class.”
“Nahh… I don’t believe you. I just think you believe that you are just simply too good to mingle with us common folk?”
“No… that is not true!” James stammered in a failed attempt to sound convincing.
Atsuo took a step forward towards James; his eyes narrowing into tiny slits. The look he was giving James as he intensely stared at him was one of pure intimidation and dislike. James felt the blood instantly run cold in his veins as he didn’t dare look away for fear that it might make the situation worse. Atsuo continued to stare down James and after what seemed like an eternity; he thrust his head forward. This abrupt movement caused James to flinch and fall back against his locker; the back of his head hitting the hard metal with a noticeable thud.
Atsuo; his friends and some of the other people around them burst into a loud chorus of laughter at James’ clumsy reaction. Some of those spectators even began pointing at him; allowing other people who missed the action to quickly realize what was going on. This increased the number of on-lookers staring at him. The looks they were giving him made him feel small and completely vulnerable. James tried desperately to compose himself. He regained his balance and stood up straight before fixing his glasses that had slide down his nose during his abrupt head jerk. He managed to fight the urge to run and hide, knowing that it would accomplish nothing. He wouldn’t allow himself to give Atsuo the satisfaction of seeing him run away like a scared rabbit.
When the abrupt chorus of cruel laughter started to subside; the crowd of people began to break apart as they went back to what they had been doing just prior to the altercation. Atsuo decided that he had gotten enough enjoyment for now and turned to leave; signalling to his friends that it was time to move on. As they left; one of the boys purposely bumped hard into James with his shoulder as he walked by. This caused some great discomfort for James as he put his hand to his shoulder in a futile attempt to rub some of the painful sensations away caused by the impact.
As he massaged his shoulder; James turned back to his still open locker and tossed the remaining books from his bag into it, a clear sign of frustration to anyone observing him. He didn’t know how much more of this he could take. Ever since he was young and started school; people like Atsuo had been picking on him, singling him out because of his mixed ethnic heritage.
James’ mother was an American school teacher who married a successful Japanese businessman when she moved to Tokyo to teach the English language to Japanese students. He had been born in Japan but his parents had given him an english first name to go with his Japanese last name. This made it painfully obvious to everyone that he was different from them in a society that valued ethnic conformity. It was his American linage that had made him a target for the various bullies of the school system who resented the fact that he wasn’t a full blooded Japanese citizen. The moniker “Hollywood” was the latest in a string of de-grading nicknames his fellow class mates had called him over the years. Some of the past ones had included ‘Bomber’, ‘Yankee’, ‘Redneck’ and his personal favourite ‘Elvis’. It seemed like the bullies took any slang word used to refer to Americans and applied it to him; regardless of either historical relevance or significance.
“Those guys are real jerks, aren’t they?”
James snapped out his daze and turned to see Makoto Kino standing a few feet behind him. She was unusually and exceptionally tall for girls her age; standing at around 5’11. She had long curly brown hair that she often tied up in a ponytail although she did usually leave two thin strands of hair hanging down on either side of her face. She was wearing a white long sleeved baggy shirt with strings in the front and a beige coloured square frill around her collar area. She also wore a matching long beige skirt that extended down to just above her ankles and matched her shirt collar. A pair of slip-on brown shoes with a small wedge was her usual style of footwear. James knew that this was the school uniform of her old school. He had heard rumours that the school board officials had allowed her to wear her old uniform because Juban Junior High didn’t have any of their uniforms in her size in stock at the time. He also had heard that she had been transferred to this school after she had been involved in some sort of physical fight at her previous one.
Despite her reputation for being an intimidating person; Makoto was one of the few people at the school or for that matter, anywhere; to treat him with some amount of respect. It was that kindness that had made James fall deeply in love with Makoto and believe that she was the most beautiful woman in the world. Being able to see her on a daily basis and having her talk to him on occasion were the only things that made him come to school every day and suffer the constant abuse at the hands of people like Atsuo.
“I guess so… but only for a few more months and hopefully I won’t have to ever see them again” James answered.
“That is a good attitude to have but you should still stand up for yourself. If you show them that you aren’t afraid of them; they will leave you alone” Makoto said as she winked one of her bright green eyes at him.
The gesture completely threw James for a loop as his heart skipped a few beats. His mind raced with the possible meanings for the wink. He had secretly desired Makoto ever since the first time she talked to him and showed him some kindness.
‘Could she have finally sensed his feelings for her and was now giving signs that she felt the same way?’ he thought to himself.
As his mind became fixated solely on that one important question; he failed to realize that he hadn’t offered any sort of response to Makoto’s comment. A rush of embarrassment enveloped him when he finally did comprehend that reality and he desperately hoped that his cheeks weren’t blushing bright red. He didn’t want Makoto to see him like a flustered young boy but as a confident man. His brain quickly switched gears in a desperate attempt to come up with some sort of good answer; something that would make her smile or even laugh.
“Oh cripes! I got to get to class! See you later James!” Makoto called back to him as she rushed to her home room class.
James stood there and watched her go. He felt his spirits sink again as he watched her hurry down the hallway before quickly disappearing around a corner down the hallway. He fully and truly enjoyed the brief moments and verbal exchanges he had with her but he desperately wanted much more. For now; he just had to be content with merely being able to see her; talk to her however briefly and now the amazing memory of that single wink.
End of Chapter One…
Chapter Two: A Carrie Moment
The rest of the morning proceedings were pretty typical for James. He managed to score a respectable 75% on a math test in his first class. Afterwards; he checked out his marks on last week’s midterms when he saw that they were posted in one of the main hallways of the school. His mark was not stellar but he still took some comfort in the fact that he was able to score better than the majority of his classmates. Naturally, he didn’t get the top score out of everyone. That glorious honour went to Ami Mizuno who was the resident school genius. It was heavily rumoured that she had an I.Q. of three hundred but James knew that was probably very unlikely. In truth; he didn’t want to be the top dog and was more than happy to let someone like Ami have that spot. James was just happy to have scored better than Usagi Tsukino; which wasn’t very hard to do.
Currently; James was sitting in his third period biology class watching the minutes on the clock above the door slowly tick away. The teacher was up at the front of the room describing Charles Darwin’s ‘Survival of the Fittest’ and ‘Natural Selection’ theories. The teacher had been on this particular subject for the past two days now and James had been greatly enjoying the subject material thus far. He often thought about how things would be different if he was bigger; stronger or at the very least, had more self-confidence in himself.
Today however; his mind was not focused on his teacher’s lecture. He was waiting eagerly for his lunch period which was the next period. He wasn’t overly hungry or in desperate need of some personal time outside of the strict classroom environment. The real reason he wanted out was because it was the one time of the day that he always anxiously looked forward to. The frustration of the painfully slow passage of time finally became too much and he had to look away from the clock or he felt he might go insane. He decided to re-focus on the teacher’s discussion in the hopes that the distraction would cause the minutes to pass by faster. It turned out to be a very smart move on his part.
“James! Can you tell the class what the main idea behind Darwin’s theories was?”
“Ummmm… that in order for a species to survive; they must be able to evolve or adapt to their changing environments or natural predators.”
“Very good James!”
James breathed a sigh of relief. He knew that he had been very lucky that he had put his full attention back on the teacher when he had. He was well aware that his teacher was not very tolerating of students that were caught not paying attention in her class. If she had found him daydreaming like he had been earlier; he was sure that she would have made him stay after class or given him a detention after school. Those were two things he definitely did not want to happen.
Finally and mercifully the bell rang; announcing the end of third period. James quickly packed up his books and school supplies and hurried out of the classroom into the busy hallway. He merged sharply into the crowds of students moving through the narrow corridors with him. Like a homing missile streaking towards its intended target; he headed straight for the stairwell that lead up to the school`s roof. He raced up the stairs to the large fenced-in roof section of the school. This was an area that students could use if they wanted to be outside and either study or eat their lunch without the noise of the foot traffic that they would get on the school grounds below. James loved this area because it allowed him to do what he came up here to do in some semblance of privacy. From the vantage point the rooftop area provided; James could and had watched Makoto for the past several months have her lunch against her favourite tree.
Sure enough; Makoto and her friends who James recognized as Minako Aino, Usagi Tsukino and Ami Mizuno came into view right on schedule and took their usual spots around the tree. Minako was dressed in a slightly different school uniform than the Juban Junior High School attire. James had concluded that that she must come here from her school to spend her lunch period with her friends before going back for her afternoon classes.
James took out a book from his bag and placed it close to his face. This gave him the appearance of reading while leaning against the chain-link fence just in case anyone should notice him from down on the ground. He loved watching Makoto as she ate her lunch and being able to hear the sweet tones of her laughter when the heavenly winds carried them up to him on the roof. He wanted nothing more than to be able to go down there; sit with them and partake in the fun that they always seemed to be having when they all got together. Walking up to Makoto and telling her how he felt about her was something that he had spent numerous hours daydreaming and fantasying about.
However; he was far too shy to do such a bold act. Also, there was the harsh reality that he had no ice-breaker he could use to be invited to join them. Makoto wasn’t in any of his classes and he didn’t know Minako, Ami or Usagi well enough to make talking to them seem like a natural occurrence.
He quietly sighed in defeat. For now; this was only thing he could do but he hoped that one day soon fate would smile down on him and he would be down there sitting with them and finally feeling some semblance of happiness.
“Hey Hollywood! What are you doing up here all by yourself?”
‘Oh no… not now please!’
Atsuo and three of his entourage approached him and quickly surrounded him; cornering him up against the metal fence. Atsuo stood front and centre while the other three boys formed a tight half circle around James. As they were tightening their positions around him; James was silently asking and cursing whatever higher powers were there listening to him as to what exactly he had done to deserve two encounters with Atsuo today when he was usually only subjected to one.
“Hey beach boy! I asked you a question” Atsuo said with a little more ire in his voice this time. James snapped out of his inner turmoil and looked at Atsuo with fear filled eyes.
“I just came up here to read my book.” James quickly muttered while trying hard to not making direct eye contact with Atsuo as to not provoke him.
“Reading huh?” Atsuo commented as he grabbed the book from James’ hands. He glanced at the title on the spine of the book and began to laugh out loud.
“Cyrano de Bergerac! It figures that a beach boy like you would be reading something written by another non-Japanese fool” he said snidely as he tossed the book onto the ground right in front of James.
“Hey Atsuo… look at the cover!” a boy named Kiyoto squealed with excitement.
Atsuo looked down at the cover of the book. It was a picture of a physically deformed man hiding behind a tree as he watched a handsome nobleman talk with a beautiful young maiden. Atsuo smiled as his mind began to race with various thoughts as to how he could use this new information.
James glanced down at the book lying at his feet. He hesitated in picking up the book because he was afraid that if he took his eyes off of Atsuo even for a second; he would be attacked or be left open to something else that was just as bad. In hindsight; he probably should have given them an opening to do something of that sort. At least then; Atsuo and the others would have been too busy to see what they ended up noticing at that very second.
“Hey Atsuo, I know why he is up here!” one of the other boys; a young man named Hansuke exclaimed excitedly. Atsuo looked over at him; keenly interested in hearing what he had to say.
Hansuke directed his gaze off the roof and down to the garden area below. James felt his throat close up and his breathing suddenly became very difficult for him. He closed his eyes and tried in vain to prepare himself for what he knew for sure would be coming next.
Atsuo walked up to the fence and looked to the spot where Hansuke was pointing to. He immediately saw Makoto and her friends sitting by one of the trees in the garden area directly below them; laughing and eating their lunches. The pieces of the puzzle began to fit together in his head. He had seen Makoto talking to James in the school hallway on a couple of occasions and it couldn’t be just a coincidence that James was up here by himself and she was right there in plain sight.
He turned to look at James with a nasty looking smile on his face. James saw this expression and the fear inside him rapidly began to build. He had seen similar looks from Atsuo before but this felt different and it completely scared him. Something deep inside his brain screamed at him that he had to get out of there right now.
He tried to run but was forcibly stopped by Kiyoto and another boy. They pushed him back against the fence roughly; his body causing the metallic chains to loudly clang and chatter together. Atsuo immediately stepped in front of James and put his forearm across his chest; holding him firmly in place up against the fence.
“So… you like Makoto Kino eh? You honestly think she would be interested in a weak flesh bag like you? Or maybe… you think she will protect you since she likes to fight. She could be your girlfriend and bodyguard all at the same time.” Atsuo said quietly with a clear hint of scorn and distain in his voice.
James wasn’t aware of it since his back was to the fence but down below; the clanging of him being thrown against the chain-link fence had attracted a rapidly growing crowd of people. Makoto and her friends were among those people who had taken notice of the events unfolding up on the roof. They were now standing up and each had their eyes completely fixated on the sickening display of human cruelty being displayed high above them.
Back on the roof; Atsuo took notice of the growing crowd down on the ground as he peered passed James’ shoulder. A sudden thought entered his mind that quickly became a delicious way to add to the other one he already had put into motion. The idea he had was something to really embarrass James in front of the school. As with most stereotypical bullies; Atsuo couldn’t let an opportunity pass when there was audience present to watch the events. Atsuo let James go and took a few steps back.
“C’mon Hollywood! I will let you have a free shot at me. Hit me… show me that you are not as weak as I think you are!” Atsuo taunted.
James looked at Atsuo and his fists slowly clenched tight. The anger and humiliation inside him was rapidly building to a boiling point. He knew that fighting for any reason was wrong and would certainly only make things worse. Added to that, he also knew that the odds were definitely not in his favour. Atsuo had help in the form of his small group of friends. Therefore; even if he was able to successfully hit him, his friends would immediately jump in and quickly take him down in an almost certainly very brutal fashion! As if reading his mind; Atsuo began to speak again.
“Tell you what Hollywood… you hit me just once and I will leave you alone for good. My boys won’t touch you either if you are able to land one good punch on me.”
Atsuo looked around at each of his friends to emphasize that very point. The boys nodded their heads in agreement before turning to look back at James.
James considered the offer in his head. One punch was all he needed to finally end all of this and maybe enjoy his life once again. He also considered the other possible outcomes as well. The new respect he would get from his class mates; the increased self-confidence he would feel and maybe, just maybe; it would impress Makoto since he was doing exactly what she had advised him to do. Perhaps then; she would actually go on a real date with him.
James lifted his chin as he made his mind up and charged forward. As he approached Atsuo; he planted his right foot firmly to the ground, using it as a pivot point for his body. He swung his left hand in a sloppy punch at where Atsuno’s chin was; putting as much of his body weight behind the punch as he could.
Atsuo gracefully side stepped the clumsy punch and as James’ fist and body passed harmlessly by him; he drove his knee up into his upper abdomen which effectively took the air out of James’ lungs and dropping him down to his knees. As James struggled to breath, his arms instinctively wrapped tightly around his chest in a futile attempt to protect himself from further damage.
Atsuo reached down and grabbed James by the back of his navy blue shirt and lifted him roughly to his feet. He then proceeded to throw James back against the fence which was immediately followed by a series of low impact, open handed slaps and jabs across James’ body. James tried to block some of the blows by twisting his body away from the incoming strikes but Atsuo was simply too fast for him and the force of the blows quickly began to take their toll on him.
When Atsuo completed his barrage; James surcame to the cruel punishment he had endured thus far and fell back to the ground, landing on his knees. Atsuo looked down at James and spat on the ground close to where he was kneeling. He turned to look at his accomplices and nodded his head. The boys nodded their heads once and quickly rushed forward where they began to wildly punch and stomp James mercilessly.
Down below; Minako and the others were shocked at what they were witnessing. From their vantage point; they couldn’t see the group swarming that was currently occurring at that very moment. They had however seen Atsuo’s brutal assault on James up against the fence. Usagi had turned her head away; unable to watch the horrible scene any longer. She looked back towards the school door where only a minute earlier; Makoto had sprinted through on her way up to the roof area. Usagi once again hoped that her friend would get up there in time before James or anybody else got hurt any further.
As soon as she had seen James lunge forward at Atsuo; Makoto had rushed into the school, running at full speed through the hallways as she made her way to the stairwell that led up to the roof. She knew that James was going to get severely pummelled and she couldn’t just stand by and watch that happen without doing something about it. She was going to take that Atsuo creep down and make him pay for all the torture he had inflicted on James and anyone else, she thought to herself through gritted teeth.
Back on the rooftop; things had gotten significantly worse. James was lying on the ground; cowering in a fetal position in order to protect himself from the group’s brutal assault. The boys finally stopped their attack and slowly backed up; allowing James to slowly begin to recover and get to his knees. His face was a bloody mess and he was probably going to be badly bruised as well. His breathing was very shallow and gave painful hints that he might have suffered some damaged ribs.
Atsuno looked down at him with a look of disgust plastered firmly on his face. He looked up and nodded his head; giving the signal to his friends to carry out the original reason for them coming up to the roof in the first place.
The rooftop door sprung open and two boys emerged. They were carrying a large metal vat in between them. They carried the steel container over towards where James was currently kneeling. Atsuo knelt down beside James and lifted his chin with the tips of his fingers. James’ eyes were barely open because of the swelling that was starting to appear above his left eye; the result of a toe kick inflicted during the pack attack.
“It was a nice attempt Hollywood but I am simply better than you. I will always be better than you! However… I am feeling rather benevolent today. So in a sign of good faith; I will let you enjoy your lunch now!” He looked up at the boys holding the vat and nodded his head again.
The boys stepped forward and proceeded to pour the container’s contents; which turned out to be pumpkin curry soup, onto James. The orange thick fluid completely covered him from his head to his toes; seeping down through the openings in his clothing to dowse the materials underneath his uniform and drip of his head down to concrete under him. The pumpkin components of the soup were beginning to stain the dark colour of his uniform which would make it very difficult later on when someone tried to wash it if they were allowed to set.
Atsuo and the other boys started laughing hysterically. The sound of their laughter shook James to his very core. He had never imagined that Atuso would actually do something like this. It never occurred to him that he was capable of this level of human cruelty. The sudden and horrible reality of his present situation had made James almost catatonic. James slowly lifted his head and his eyes immediately snapped open; the blank expression in them a moment ago replaced by one of utter shock. Atsuo and the crowd immediately noticed this change in behaviour and turned to see what had sparked the abrupt change in James’ facial expression. Atsuno’s smirk on his face grew to previously unseen lengths as he saw the reason. This was turning out even better than he had hoped it would.
Makoto was standing there with her hands up in a defensive fighting stance. She was poised and ready to take down any of the boys if they were stupid enough to try and rush her. Her face was a display of extreme anger as she saw the after effects of Atsuo’s prank. In response to her arrival; Atsuno took a position next to James, kneeling down so his mouth was level with James’ ear. He couldn’t resist the opportunity that had been presented before him; a chance to to make this spectacle even better.
“Hey look Hollywood… your body guard came to help you. It’s just too bad she is too late!” He said with a cruel laugh.
“Hey dirt bag! Get away from him!” Makoto shouted.
“Ohhhh James… your girlfriend is a sassy one! I can see why you love her so much!”
That comment caused Makoto to break her stare down with Atsuo and look directly at James. Her face had changed from anger to complete surprise. She continued to look at him; her eyes asking him if it was indeed true, did he really love her?
Her standing there with her questioning stare added with the immeasurable feeling of embarrassment he was feeling was simply too much for James’ fragile mind to handle any longer. The humiliation he felt as he knelt there; surrounded by people he saw on a daily basis as well as the people down in the garden area, completely covered in pumpkin soup was overloading his body’s coping systems. What made it even worse was that Makoto was there, seeing him like this: a weak pathetic loser who couldn’t defend himself.
He jumped up with a sudden surge of energy and ran towards the door; the laughter from Atsuo and the other boys following him as he rushed past Makoto and down the stairs.
Makoto had made a move to stop him but had paused as she questioned whether it was the right thing to do. She almost called out to him once he was passed her but again; she stopped herself when she couldn’t think of anything to say. She continued to stare at the open stairwell after he had disappeared from her sight before turning back to face the crowd; their laughter slowly starting to quiet down with James’ abrupt departure. She wanted nothing more than to tear into these idiots but she knew that she couldn’t. She had already been expelled from her old school for fighting and had since made a promise to herself that she wouldn’t fight again unless someone either directly attacked her or threatened one of her best friends. Added to that vow was the fact that she was also a sailor warrior. There was a certain strict code of conduct that she held herself too. As much as she wanted to put each of these guys in their place; her strong sense of duty was preventing her from doing that.
She simply flashed an ice cold stare at them through her narrowed eyelids before turning around and hurrying down the stairs. She had to find James and fast. It wasn’t out of the realm of possibilities that in his present state of mind; he might do something really bad!
End of Chapter 2…
Chapter Three : The Mysterious Book
James continued to run; trying to put as much distance as he could between the people at school and himself. Once he reached the bottom of the rooftop stairwell and out into the hallway; he clumsily turned around the nearest corner and kept sprinting as fast as he could. His mind was a flurry of intense emotion as he desperately tried to avoid the many stares of the students he passed by in the school corridors. He was sure that at least some of these people had just been outside and seen him get thoroughly trounced by Atsuo and the other boys. He couldn’t take any more taunts from anybody; not in his current mental state.
He ran towards the nearest exit that led out of the school, choosing to not risk being cornered by someone in one of the bathroom areas. As he was making his desperate escape towards the outside door; he almost bowled over some students returning from a mid-day walk. He stumbled to the side at the last second to avoid directly hitting them. He clumsily fixed himself and resumed running out the door, not stopping to make sure that the students he almost ran into were ok.
Some of the other students, who had witnessed the rooftop incident, followed him out the door and out the main gates of the school’s property and right out to the street. They had been concerned about him and were disgusted by the actions of Atsuo and wanted to try and help James but he was moving so fast that by the time they made it to the school’s front gate; all they could do was watch as he disappeared from their view.
Meanwhile; Makoto, following the trail of pumpkin soup puddles and the directions the various students she encountered were telling her. came out of the school’s main building only a couple minutes behind him. She had lost some time as she looked for any indicators as to which direction he had gone when they were no students around to guide her. The group of students gathered near the front gate immediately drew her attention and as she raced up to them; they showed her which way he had gone but with no further direction beyond that; she couldn’t continue to track him and would only waste valuable time and energy attempting to pick up his trail.
Makoto stood there on the sideway; her fists clenched and shaking in frustration at her sides. Usagi and the others came up behind her, looking in the same direction she was. They had seen Makoto emerge from the building and proceeded to join up with her at the school’s main gate. Each of them had worried looks on their faces that matched Makoto’s.
“I am sure that James will be ok” Ami said quietly.
“Yes… he just needs some time by himself” Minako added.
“When he comes back… we will cheer him up” Usagi expressed with some of her usual enthusiasm.
Makoto didn’t say anything; choosing instead to continue looking in the direction James had last been seen. The three girls each took a position beside her and looked in that direction as well. They could only stand there; feeling completely helpless and hoping that James would be ok where ever he was. They also began to each silently think of what they could do if or when he did come decide to come back to the school.
The Juban Public Library was located approximately ten blocks away from the school. James often went there to study since he rarely saw any of the other students from his grade there with the sole exception of Ami Mizuno.
He didn’t stop running until he was safely through its front doors. Once he was inside; he took a few moments to compose himself as he did not want to attract any more attention than he already had with his dramatic entrance. He leaned back against one of the closed main doors of the library; letting his breathing and heart rate begin to slow down and return to their normal rhythm. He placed his right hand on his chest and he could feel the rapid thumping of his heart through his uniform’s shirt. James had never been overly physical active in his life so the effects of such a display of physical exertion were not something he was used to.
When he felt his body’s systems return to what would pass for normal for him; he casually walked further into the library. He walked in a casual manner; making it seem to any observers that he either didn’t know or simply didn’t care that his face was badly bruised and was covered in dried soup and blood. Luckily; there weren’t that many people in the library at this time of day so no one except the libarian had taken notice of his presence.
This made James feel slightly better as he wanted to be by himself right now. He walked to the back of the library in an attempt to try and stay out of sight on the very slim chance that anyone from the school should come in there looking for him. He was fairly sure that no one would except for maybe Makoto. As hard as it was for him to admit it; he really didn’t want to see even her right now, especially in his present physical and emotional state. He took a seat at the furthest table and rested his forehead on the top of his hands which rested on the tabletop. He let out a deep sigh and he finally felt like he could let his guard down and try to relax his tired and drained body.
His mind however; in the quiet and near empty environment of the library refused to leave him alone. The memories of the laughter from Atsuo and the other onlookers as well as the feeling of the hot soup touching his skin continuously flashed through his brain on a never-ending loop. The sharp pain in his rib cage from Atsuo’s knee attack and the resulting kicks and punches from the other kids each time he took a breath also acted as a constant reminder to him. The worse image his brain tortured him with was the look Makoto had given him when she had arrived on the roof and saw him on his knees; bloodied and completely humiliated. He shook his head several times in a futile attempt to knock those horrible memories out of his mind and end the psychic torture he was currently enduring. His internal frustration and anxiety rapidly built up as the memories replayed over and over again in his head. He slammed his fist down on the table, physically trying again to end the psychological turmoil he was experiencing.
“I will get those bastards back somehow. I will make them all pay for making me look bad in front of her!”
Suddenly a deep and distant sounding voice cut through his verbal declaration, echoing loudly inside his head.
James immediately froze for a second before panning his head around; looking in all directions. He expected to see the librarian walking up to him as she investigated the noise he made when he slammed his fist on the top of the table. He was more than a little surprised when he saw that there was no one standing over him or for that matter; anywhere near him. From his position at the table; he could only see a couple of people sitting at some of the other tables across the library from him. Neither of those people was looking in his direction so it was logical to assume that they weren’t the ones that had just called out his name. Also; James didn’t recognize either of them so it wouldn’t make sense to him that they would know his name to begin with.
He scanned the book stacks that were near him from his position in his chair. He looked for anyone that might be hiding among them who had the hopes and intentions of continuing what Atsuo had started. He lowered and craned his head; looking through the gaps in the books and shelves for anyone currently watching him. After about a minute of looking; he didn’t see any such movement or any other signs that anyone was there spying on him. He turned his head back around and returned to look down at the table in front of him. He began to think of how he could get passed the events of today and face Makoto and the rest of the student body tomorrow.
He jumped out his chair; knocking it over backwards in the process. He was now completely convinced that he had not imagined what he had heard. The voice sounded much closer this time but it still had the echo-like aspect to it. James also mentally noticed that the voice seemed to have a clear tone of something or someone with some kind of authority. He quickly suppressed the notion that it was a divine being thinking that it was too far of a stretch.
Unlike the first time; the voice seemed to have come from the book stacks to his left as he felt it stronger on his left side for some unexplained reason. He turned his body and slowly moved towards the nearest shelf; keeping his eyes completely fixated on them. His senses were on high alert as he looked for any signs or clues as to where exactly the voice had come from. He glanced up and down as he scanned the areas around him in case there was a trap or something trip-able waiting for him. Finding nothing in the first aisle; he scanned down the second row and again saw and found nothing out of the ordinary. He began to move to the next book stack when a strange sensation suddenly washed over him.
The notion was compelling him to walk down the second aisle again. The feeling was very hard for him to describe but the closest thing James could come up with was a repressed memory fighting to be freed upon seeing a certain object or place. He tied to ignore it and made another motion to continue on to the next row of books.
The voice cut through the tension and nervousness James was strongly experiencing as he stood at the mouth of the aisle. He thought for sure now that he was the subject of some sort of prank. There had to be someone nearby, directing him down this particular stack for some yet unknown sinister purpose. He reasoned that there had to be some sort of speaker or projection device planted somewhere among the rows of books on one of the shelves, that was connected to a microphone being used by someone in another location close by.
However; there was one problem with that scenario. How had the person or group of people doing this know exactly where he was going to sit or even for that matter; that he was going to go the library in the first place? He haven’t seen anyone go to this section of books since he had arrived and one would logically think that there would be some sort of sound as the person placed the projection device on the book shelf.
Throwing caution to the wind; he slowly began to walk down the aisle. His body language showed that he was being very careful as he moved between the book stacks. His hands slid along the edges of the book selves; giving the appearance that James needed support or was using them as a guide; much like what a blind person might do. He studied every inch of the area in front of him before taking each step; looking for anything that seemed out of place. About halfway down the aisle; he suddenly stopped. He looked down at one of the lower book shelves and took special notice of a large black book situated in the middle of a row. He slowly knelt down and looked at it. The strange feeling inside him was persuading him to pick it up and open it. He fought the urge for several seconds until he was unable to resist his curiosity any longer. He reached out with his hand and grasped the top of the book with his fingertips; pulling it from its place on the shelf.
The book was bound in what felt like black leather and had no words on the cover or spine; just a simple-looking symbol he had never seen before. He opened the book and began to quickly scan its contents. It was written in a mixture of the English and Japanese language and had several sketches of various monsters and people that were dressed in Dark Age era-style clothing.
James had never seen a book like this before and but something inside him screamed at him to put the book back and leave the library immediately. His first instinct was to do exactly that; put the book back and leave the library but there was some other force that was preventing him from physically doing that. Much like the original feeling that had led him to the book’s location; there was now a new and much stronger one that made the book seem absolutely irresistible to him. His body’s internal intuition continued to hint to him that he needed to put the book down while something in James’ mind was convincing him to take it home because the book could help him out in his current situation.
For a brief moment; an image of Atsuo and what had just happened on the roof flashed again in his brain. This was immediately followed by an image of Makoto standing in the school hallway, smiling and waving at him. James blinked his eyes rapidly; trying to re-focus his mind on the book he was still holding in his hand. When he had managed to regain control of his brain; he immediately noticed that the sensations he had just been feeling had suddenly changed. The internal instincts that had just been at war with the strange compulsion inside his brain to take the book had suddenly disappeared; leaving only the desire to take the book home.
He made up his mind and stood up. He glanced around the area that was in his immediate line of sight to make sure no one could see him or what he was about to do. When he was satisfied that the coast was clear; he slipped the book under his uniform shirt, tucking it firmly into the elastic waistband of his pants so it wouldn’t slip or fall out as he walked. He then headed towards the front entrance and casually walked out of the library.
End of Chapter 3…
Chapter Four: Makoto’s Ideal Man
James continued to intensely stare at the black leather book as it leaned upright against the wall on top of his desk from his bed on the other side of the room. He had been completely captivated by it ever since he got home and took it out from its hiding place underneath his shirt. It had been very hard for him to pull away from it long enough to have a shower so he could wash away the evidence of his traumatic day at school. The strange and mysterious aura the book seemed to continuously emit filled James with a intense feeling of inner calmness. However; whenever he tried to leave the room or put some distance between himself and the book, he felt an intense mental compulsion to remain where he was and open it up so he could read the information inside. The book was seemingly giving him the impression that somewhere within its well-aged pages; he could find the answers to the various issues that he was currently faced and struggling with. Solutions to such problems as how to deal with Atsuo or how to become stronger and popular and perhaps most importantly; how to get Makoto to finally notice him, which is what he really and truly wanted more than anything else.
James finally reached the point where he couldn’t stand it any longer. His curiosity finally reached its breaking point. He got up off his bed and picked up the book. The feeling of the smooth black leather in his hands seemed to immediately increase the intensity of the strange sensations he felt deep within him. He felt a noticeable surge of energy ripple through his body as he held the book in his hands. He walked back and settled back onto the bed and began to casually flip through the pages; stopping to read passages that caught his attention. Since James’ mother was both an American citizen and an English teacher; he had been taught from a very young age to speak both English as well as Japanese. He was now fluent in both languages which were another reason why the students at school constantly picked on him. It was no secret that Japan had one of the lowest rated English language teaching systems in the entire world; so it was only logic that some of the students would take some offence to someone who could speak it so easily.
As he continued to scan the pages of the book; he stopped on a chapter entitled “Voco vox in vos”. James immediately recognized the words as being in the language of Latin. When he was younger; his mother had tried to teach him to understand and read Latin but had decided to ultimately abandon the idea since Latin was considered by many scholars and cultures as a dead language. Even still; James was confident that he remembered enough of his mother’s teachings that he could fully understand the title. He translated it to mean ‘Create power in you” The text underneath it was written in English; which seemed more than a little strange to James. He decided that it wasn’t all that important and chose to ignore it; passing it off as nothing more than a simple continuity error by the book’s publisher.
As he read the words written on the page; he came to realize that it was describing what appeared to be some kind of ritual to increase, what James interpreted to be a person’s inner self-confidence. He started to read the magical verses of the ceremony but abruptly stopped about halfway through the section and shook his head in disbelief. James was not a firm believer in the supernatural or any of the many supposed occult ceremonies that he knew existed out there among the world’s populations.
He started to bring his hands together to close the book right but just like before; the strange and intense feeling of compulsion inside him flared up, compelling him to keep reading the page’s contents. James tried very hard at first to resist the seemingly over-powering urge. He attempted again to close the book but as he began to mentally will his muscles to bring his hands together and thus close the book; a voice screamed inside his head.
James immediately recognized it as being the exact same voice that had called his name repeatedly at the library earlier that day. James jumped with a start and instinctively looked around his room as he frantically looked for where the voice had come from. This whole situation was seriously starting to really freak him out. Ever since he discovered the book; unexplained things were happening all around him at a breakneck pace and he was not sure how he should handle them. His heart was beating rapidly and his breathing was coming in fast; short breaths as the fear of what was going on continued to take their physical toll on him.
“Read the page James!” the voice commanded; from somewhere deep inside his head.
James was now officially in full panic mode. His mind raced with wild explanations as to whom or what the voice truly was. He was completely convinced that the many years of school yard abuse had finally caused him to mentally snap and he was now a textbook schizophrenic. One thing James had managed to notice despite his overwhelming feelings of shock and surprise was that the tone of the voice seemed to be getting angrier and angrier the more he resisted in continuing to read from the book. If this was indeed all in his mind; he rationalized to himself that if he simply finished reading the particular page he had started then perhaps the voice in his head would leave him alone and disappear completely.
He read the text again; this time from beginning to end. When he was finished; the words remained in his head, lingering around as he thought about what he had just read and the meanings behind the author’s choice of words.
James began to seriously wonder if this ritual could actual work in increasing his self-confidence. If it actually did; it would make him a much stronger person and more of the kind of man he was sure Makoto would want to date romantically.
The thought of Makoto’s beautiful face smiling at him made him feel an inner sense of peace that he desperately needed right now. He decided to throw caution to the wind as it wouldn’t hurt to at least try the ritual out and see if it would actually work. He justified to himself that if it wasn’t successful; he was no worse off than he was right now. James glanced back down at the still open page of the book and looked towards the bottom of the page; reading the list of materials he would need to properly conduct the rite. The list of required ingredients seemed simple enough to obtain and the visual designs that he had to replicate looked easy enough; even for his limited artistic skills.
The book provided him with the exact time and day he needed to perform the ritual in order to achieve the highest rate of success. He was more than a little surprised when the specific date was in fact tomorrow’s date. Looking at the identified time that the rite had to be performed; James knew that he would be alone in the house as both his parents would be home late tomorrow due to their individual work schedules.
He concluded that it was a sign that fate was finally smiling down on him. He had found this book on this exact day for a reason; he thought to himself. Tomorrow he would conduct the ritual and roll the dice on whether it would be successful. Hopefully it would work and he would gain the necessary power he desperately wanted and needed. He would never have to live in fear of people like Atsuo ever again.
He closed the book with a loud thud and settled into bed under the blankets. He reached over and clicked his nightstand light off and rested his head down on the pillows. As he slowly drifted off to sleep; his thoughts and dreams began to revolve around Makoto Kino and his passionate longing to be by her side.
Halfway across the world in the eastern European country of the Ukraine; a male vampire was running for its life. It sprinted down alleys and around building corners; trying desperately to escape its relentless pursuror. Vampires; by nature are stronger, faster and have more physical endurance than a normal human but they still had their limits. This particular vampire was fairly new to the world; having only been sired a week earlier and alive for only eighteen years before that. It knew little of the various dangers that were all around it such as the many demon hunters and slayers that were out there; tracking and killing monsters like him.
It had been lying in wait outside of a local tavern earlier that night; waiting for a drunk human to stagger outside and wander close to his position. After about an hour; one finally did and it anxiously waited until they got close enough before grabbing and dragging them into the alley it had been waiting in. As it held the pitiful human in its iron tight grasp; it opened its mouth and exposed its two large razor-sharp fangs. Its prey continued to make soft whimpering noises as it tried to futilely break free of the attacker and escape to safety.
As the vampire leaned in for the fatal bite; something hit it hard on the side of its head. It was quickly followed by what felt like a blow from a wooden club to its ribcage. It let go of the human in response to the unexpected strikes which allowed the intoxicated human to drunkenly hurry out of the alley; stumbling over a group of trash cans in the process.
The vampire watched in ire as its prey picked themselves up and made it to the mouth of the alley; screaming at the top of their lungs. It knew that in a matter of seconds; there would be a large group of people coming out of the tavern to investigate the commotion. Normally; it would relish the chance to tear into a mob of weak flesh bags but it first had to deal with its mysterious opponent. Swinging its body around; it looked at its attacker who was still partially covered by the dark shadows of the alley. From what the vampire could see; its attacker was not at all what he had been expecting.
It originally thought it was going to see another human wielding a piece of wood or some other sort of weapon. It had heard several stories from a more experienced vampire it had encountered a few days ago about past encounters with humans who wanted to play hero. The thing currently standing in front of it was clearly not a person; in fact, it wasn’t even human. The figure was a tall red humanoid-looking monster with several swirling strands of red material moving all around it. It was looking at the young vampire with a pair of huge unblinking solid white eyes. It had a huge mouth that was full of long pointed black teeth.
The vampire reacted on pure instinct; grabbing a nearby garbage can and tossing it directly at its attacker before charging forward with its right hand outstretched in an attempt to slash the monster across its chest. In response; the red monster batted the can aside effortlessly with one hand while one of the swirling tendrils shot forward; wrapping tightly around the vampire’s attacking arm.
The vampire abruptly stopped its charge as it became completely surprised by its adversary’s unexpected counter attack. This allowed the monster to tighten the tendril even further around the vampire’s arm and use the resulting increase in tensile strength to throw it against one of the walls of the alley. The vampire hit the brick stones hard before crashing to the ground with a sickening thud. The tendril still around it let go and quickly retracted back towards the monster’s body. The vampire slowly picked itself up as a testament to its enhanced strength and durability. It lifted its head to look up at the monster. It hissed and bared its fangs; hoping to intimidate its attacker. The creature showed no signs of fear; it instead lifted one of its arms and morphed it into a long serrated knife blade. Upon seeing that startling act; the vampire told a step back; its eyes showing fear for the first time. Without wasting any more time; it turned and started running in the opposite direction.
The chase ended up taking them across half of the city; the novice vampire finally understanding the terror that it imagined its past victims had felt when it had hunted them. It knew its pursuer was following him as it could feel its presence right on his back. It ducked into a deserted alley; trying in vain to find a place where it could re-group and form a proper escape plan.
As it desperately looked down the length of the alley; it saw a manhole cover about twenty yards away from it. If it could get to the manhole; it could get down into the sewer system and lose its assailant in the endless twists and turns of the underground tunnels. The vampire risked giving itself a small smile; its twin fangs protruding from its mouth as it felt its escape was finally within its reach.
It turned its body in the direction of the manhole and started to sprint at full speed towards it when a dark shape suddenly dropped down directly in front of it. In an instant; a red clawed hand reached out and grabbed the vampire by its throat and forced it against one of the alley walls. In the dim and pale moonlight; the vampire saw its relentless pursuer in full detail. Up close; the monster was even more terrifying than the vampire had originally thought. Its red skin wiggled and flowed like water; oozing around its body in all directions seemingly at once, not behaving like normal skin at all.
Without saying a word; the monster tightened its grip around the vampire’s neck as tiny knife blades formed on the underside of each of its fingers. The blades began to move back and forth like a chainsaw; cutting deep into the vampire’s dead flesh. A few seconds later; the teeth of the organic saw had successfully cut their way completely through the vampire’s neck and decapitated the vampire.
The vampire’s head fell off to the side; bouncing off the ground twice before following the rest of its body into crumbling to a fine dust leaving the red monster all alone in the alley.
“Well done Carnage” a voice behind him said. It came from the mouth of the alley in the direction that the vampire had been attempting to escape to. Carnage turned around to face a middle aged man with a grey moustache. The man was dressed in an expensive looking double breasted beige coloured suit and black bowler hat. He was carrying a thin black walking cane although it was clearly obvious that it wasn’t needed to assist him with his balance or walking ability. He casually approached Carnage while applauding the event he had just witnessed; his hands coming together slowly. The man’s demeanour and body language gave the clear impression that this gentleman was someone of very high refinement and elegance.
“I killed a vampire and saved a drunk. I didn’t accomplish much!” Carnage shot back.
The man crinkled his nose and lifted his chin as if to say that he didn’t agree with that comment at all.
“Believe what you want but that is still one less vampire to plague the world.” The man said non-chalantly.
“Tell me you didn’t come all the way out here just to give me a pep talk!” Carnage said, sounding more than a little annoyed.
“Hardly! I came to tell you that you are needed elsewhere. Our psychics have sensed that a great evil is about to be set loose upon the Earth very soon.”
Carnage let a large sigh escape his body. His shoulders visibly dropped slightly as he prepared himself for his next mission. He would like just once to have these guys appear for any other reason other than to simply give him his next assignment.
“Of course there is…! Ok… where is this evil supposed to be unleashed?” Carnage asked with more than a little sarcasm.
“Tokyo, Japan… more specifically, in the Minato district of the city.” The man immediately answered.
Carnage tensed up upon hearing the location of his next mission. It had been over five months since he was last in Japan. Five months since the destruction of the Dark Kingdom and the last time he had seen his one true love; Makoto Kino. A small part of him wanted to ask if someone else could accept this mission but he knew that he couldn’t. He was a warrior plain and simple and true warriors don’t get to choose the battles they fight in; they just jump into the fray and fight with all their heart.
“When do I leave?”
“We have a private plane ready for you at the airport. You will be arriving in Japan by late afternoon today; barring any unforeseen circumstances of course.”
Carnage nodded his head and leapt up into the air; grabbing onto the side of the building with his clawed fingers. In a few short seconds; he scaled the wall and disappeared over the roof’s edge, making his way to the private jet that was waiting him at the airport.
End of Chapter 4…
Chapter Five: A Different Person
James awoke the next morning feeling completely refreshed. In fact; he couldn’t remember the last time he had ever felt this good. He sprung his legs out of bed with a bounce; put his clothes on and brushed his hair. He skipped down the stairs with a spring in his step that he hadn’t had in a very long while. He strolled into the kitchen; whistling a cheerful tune as he plugged the kettle into the wall socket. His mother, who was sitting at the kitchen table with his father, looked up from her morning cup of tea. She watched her son as he moved around the kitchen area; taking special notice of his change in his usual behaviour.
“You seem to be in a good mood today!” She said with a warm smile. His dad lowered the newspaper he was reading to look at him as well. He didn’t say anything but his facial expression showed that he seconded his wife’s observation.
“I really am! I can’t explain it but I just woke up this morning and felt really great. I must have had a really great sleep last night!” James proudly exclaimed as he pulled out the box of oatmeal from one of the cabinets.
“I would say so!” She said as she took another sip of her tea. The sound of her voice suggested that she was very happy for her son’s sudden good mood after being so worried about him for so long.
James’ morning walk to school was also a change from the usual. His body posture as he moved was considerably different. He held his head high and his hands were out of his pockets, gently swinging back and forth as he strolled down the street. His walking stride was also noticeably unlike what was considered typical for him. Before today; he would be taking timid little steps and almost be shuffling along the sidewalk.
Now he was moving in almost what could be described as a strut. When he arrived at the school, he pulled open the doors and confidently walked inside. After he changed into his indoor shoes; he looked around at the other students and even took notice of some the posters on the walls that caught his attention as he headed towards his locker.
As he neared his destination; he saw Atsuo and his cronies standing near his locker but it didn’t faze him at all. He continued walking; not breaking his stride or lowering his head as he might have done before today. When he arrived at his locker; he opened it up and began to casually prepare his books and supplies for his first class.
One of the boys with Atsuo tapped him on the shoulder and pointed behind him. Atsuo looked back and smiled widely when he saw James. He had been hoping that he would show up to school today. He had been thinking for a good part of last night of what he could do to him as a follow-up to the glorious events from yesterday. He had come up with some very interesting ideas and was eager to try some of them out.
Atsuo turned on his heel and started walking towards James; his friends following close behind him. Suddenly; Makoto appeared from around a corner and stepped directly in front of him. Her arms were firmly crossed over her chest and she wore an intense and cold scowl on her face. Behind her; Usagi, Minako and Ami stood together in a straight line giving the appearance of a human wall. Minako had borrowed one of Usagi’s extra school uniforms so she could blend in with the other students and thus assist in keeping Atsuo from further tormenting James today. Each of the girls wore the same ultra-serious look on their faces; letting Atsuo know that they met business.
“Oh no you don’t! You leave him alone!” Makoto said; the grave tone in her voice was unmistakable.
Atsuo looked at Makoto and then tilted his head to the side so he could glance at the small groups of girls behind her. Just like Makoto; they were standing in place with their arms crossed and their eyes narrowed into tiny slits.
He carefully weighed his options in his head. It was public knowledge that Makoto was highly skilled in judo and it was also rumoured that she was also trained in several other forms of martial arts. If that was indeed true; she could easily take him down very quickly and without much effort. A physical confrontation of any sort with her could result in him sustaining a serious injury that could keep him off the baseball team for the upcoming season.
He was also very much aware that if he did get into any sort of altercation with her; it would be bad for him in the long term. The sight of a man fighting with a woman was something that stuck with people and would follow him around for years. It would almost definitely hurt his chances for receiving a high school or college baseball scholarship. That was something that he couldn’t risk as he needed that achievement so he could get into a respected school and became a successful lawyer like his father. He decided it would ultimately be better for him to go for the graceful exit. He knew there would be another opportunity at a later time for him to have his fun since he knew that Makoto and her friends couldn’t protect James all the time.
“Ok… you win! We will leave him alone but you can’t be around him all the time.” He stated cockily as he slowly backed up with his hands held up in front of him.
“It’s ok Makoto.”
Everyone turned around to see James standing there. He had moved up behind Usagi and the others while they had been distracted by the standoff between Makoto and Atsuo. He was looking directly at Atsuo and didn`t break eye contact with him even when Makoto turned completely around to look at him. She walked up to him as her physical demeanour changed from cold and focused to warm and compassionate.
“It’s ok James. He’s not going to bother you again.” Makoto said; trying to sound as comforting as she could.
“No… he will!” James said, as he brushed past Makoto and moved towards where Atsuo was standing.
“Maybe not today or tomorrow but he will at some point.” He continued to move forward until he stood face to face with Atsuo.
“James… what are you doing?” Makoto asked with a mixture of surprise and concern in her voice.
James turned his head; looking at Makoto over his shoulder. When he spoke, it was with a vocal tone that Makoto would never have imagined would ever come from James’ mouth.
“I am doing what you told me to do!”
His head snapped back around to look at Atsuo, not waiting for her give any sort of facial expression or verbal response to his comment.
“I am standing up for myself. I am showing him that I am not afraid of him anymore!” James said coldly as he stared in Atsuo’s brown eyes.
Behind him; Minako’s eyes narrowed as she observed James’ reaction to Makoto’s concerned comment. Her extra sensory perception was picking up on something but it wasn’t like anything she had ever felt before. This was the first time she had seen James and Makoto in close proximity to each other. As the sailor warrior of the planet Venus; she was gifted with the powers of the Roman god; Venus as well. One of those powers was the ability to perceive the emotion of love between two people.
Right now at this very moment; she was picking up on some very strong energy readings coming from James but they felt different, like they were being corrupted somehow.
As James continued to stare him down; Atsuo was starting to get very nervous. The look he was getting from him was radically different than anything he had ever seen in the past. He usually saw fear in James’ eyes but now, they seemed like they were devoid of all signs of life. They reminded him of a doll or shark’s eyes. He felt a lump begin to grow inside his throat; making it hard for him to swallow or even breathe properly.
Even in the country of Japan; the news of the rapid increase in school violence and shootings across the world was well known. He was beginning to think that he may have gone too far with James with his latest stunt and may have just signed his own death warrant if James took any physical action against him. It was taking everything he had to maintain the appearance of being calm and confident when in reality; his nervousness and panic were quickly turning into overwhelmingly fear and terror.
“You hear that Atsuo? I am not afraid of you anymore! You have lost!” James said quietly but with more than a hint of malice in it. At the end of his statement; the pupils in his eyes flashed a bright crimson red.
Atsuo jerked back; stumbling as he did so which caused him to fall backwards. His face rapidly became a shade of white as a look of pure terror spread across it. Everyone stared at him; completely surprised at the sudden turn of events. No one else had seen what Atsuo had seen so they all thought that he was just reacting to the intense face to face stare-down with James. Atsuo quickly and clumsily picked himself up and took off running down the hallway. His friends proceeded to follow after him; shocked looks plastered on their faces as the confusion as to what exactly was going on consumed them.
Makoto and the other girls exchanged looks among themselves. They all were sensing that something really negative was going on here. It was clear to them that it had something to do with James. Makoto turned and slowly walked up behind him, placing her hand on his shoulder as she began to speak.
“James… what is going on? You seem like a totally different person today!”
Almost at the same moment that she touched him; he twisted his body away from her, putting about two feet of open space between them. He looked at her with a facial expression that Makoto had only seen from the monsters she had previously encountered during her career as a Sailor Soldier. It was a look of complete rage and utter darkness.
“Don’t touch me!” he yelled.
“James! What is wrong with you?”
“Wrong! I did exactly what you told me to do! Now you are acting like I did something horrible! Can’t you make up your mind!” He angrily shouted at her.
Minako’s eyes widened as her senses again reacted to James’ verbal outburst. Her eyes then narrowed as she focused her mind and tried to make sense of what exactly she was feeling. It wasn’t pure love that she was perceiving from James as she would instantly recognize that. However; there was definitely something inside him that was causing her senses to react.
“Is there a problem here?” a teacher inquired as they approached from down the hall.
James and Makoto turned to face the approaching teacher. James was physically breathing heavy from his verbal outbursts. His body swayed from side to side and his fists were tightly clenched and hanging down by his sides. He was clearly agitated and looked like he was going to explode if he was provoked any further. He looked at the teacher as they drew closer to them.
“No… no problem here.” James said. His vocal tone was noticeably softer as he attempted to sound calm and collected. He then abruptly turned around and walked away.
The teacher didn’t try to stop him; content with the fact that the crowd of students that had been watching the event was beginning to break up and normal school functions were resuming. Makoto and her friends watched James as he walked down the hallway towards his home room. The students around James who had witnessed the incident moved out of his way as he passed. Some of them had nervous looks on their face as they were not sure of what to make of what had just occurred.
“He’s probably just still angry about what happened to him yesterday and doesn’t know how to channel his anger.” Ami quietly suggested.
“Maybe Ami is right but you shouldn’t take it personally Makoto.” added Minako; showing her support for her friend. Usagi could only nod as the scene she had just witnessed had unnerved her a little.
“Something is wrong with him! I am sure of it! I am going to keep a closer eye on him today.” Makoto said as she walked away from her friends. Her mind was now focused on finding out what exactly had caused this strange and sudden display of uncharacteristic behaviour in James.
End of Chapter 5…
Chapter Six: Reunions and Preparations
“Who the hell does she think she is?” James thought angrily to himself.
He was sitting in class but his mind was not even close to focusing on the subject at hand. His current thoughts were all circling around what just happened in the hallway between him; Atsuo and to his complete and utter surprise; Makoto. It had never once crossed his mind that Makoto would turn on him like that.
“Where does she get off? She tells me to do one thing and then questions my behaviour when I actually do it. How dare her!” He screamed inside his skull.
His head was tilted down so that his face was looking down at the open textbook on top of his desk. His hands were supporting his head as his elbows rested on the desktop. To the common observer; it looked like he was concentrating on reading the textbook and the teacher’s lecture.
It was very fortunate for him that the teacher chose to not call on him to participate with the rest of the class or his lack of paying attention would have been exposed to everyone. That would have almost certainly have led to another explosive outburst on his part which would drastically interfere with his plans for later on today.
He glanced up at the clock for the hundredth time since class had started. He was thankful to see that the class was almost over. He decided right then and there to leave school after this class as he couldn’t take the chance of getting into any more altercations with anyone else. If he did indeed get into one; he could receive detention or even worse, his parents could be notified which would make it impossible for him to complete the ritual to obtain the power he so desperately wanted.
The bell finally rang; announcing to everyone that it was the end of the current class section. James gathered up his books and school supplies; tossing them hastily into his school bag and quickly exited the class room. He hurried towards the nearest set of doors leading outside; doing a mental check to see if he needed to retrieve anything from his locker as he moved through the crowds of people. He was fairly sure that he had everything he would require for the ceremony later on with him already. He didn’t want to spend any more time inside the school than was absolutely necessary. He was fairly sure that if he mingled with anyone or took his time; someone was going to try to talk to him or try to console him after the events of yesterday. That would cost him precious time and he had a lot of preparations to complete before the rapidly approaching hour when the ceremony was to be performed. He reached the doors to the outside without any distractions or delays and was safely off the school grounds within a couple of minutes.
Makoto left her homeroom class and headed directly to James’. She had to hurry because her class was across the school from where she knew his was. She zigzagged through the crowds of students and managed to get to the classroom in a fairly quick fashion but as she peered inside; she quickly came to realize that she had still managed to miss him. She looked down the hallway in both directions in the slim hope that she would get a glimpse of him as he was walking away. When she did not immediately see him; her internal intuition told her to look around the nearest pair of exit doors. She hurried over and carefully scanned the people entering and exiting the school. Once again; she didn’t see him.
She decided to try the only other place she concluded he might be; which was his locker. She navigated through the crowd of students in the hallway once again; making her way to her final destination in a timely fashion. Once she got there; her facial expression immediately changed into a show of extreme frustration as he wasn’t there either! He had slipped through her fingers she angrily thought to herself. It was at that point that the warning bell rang; cutting through her train of thought. She dropped her shoulders and sighed deeply as she told herself that it was probably best to stick around the school just in case he was still in the building and it had simply been bad timing on fate’s part that kept her from finding him.
If it eventually turned out that he wasn’t in fact at school; she would look for him later on. She sighed again and turned around. She began to head to her next class as her thoughts were now focused on resuming her search for James when her next class was over.
A short time later; James pulled out the list he had made before school, out of his pocket. It was the supplies and special items he needed to successfully complete the ritual. The most important piece was a specific talisman. The other components were some exotic candles, salt and some special types of coloured inks.
Right now; he was currently standing outside the local charm shop which was located a short distance away from the school. He stood outside on the sidewalk as he continued to build up the courage to walk in and begin his acquisition of the necessary items. As he stared at the store’s front; something inside him was making him feel very uneasy. It felt like an some sort of internal notion that was telling him that he wouldn’t find the required pendent in this particular store. He shook his head; temporarily clearing his mind of the strange intuition and pulled open the door to enter the shop.
He took a few steps inside and stopped as he took in the sight of the interior of the store. There were two long glass display cases running the length of the store on either side of the store. In between them; in the open space, there were several small rectangular and circular tables. On each of them; there was a variety of statues, jars of fluids of multiple colours and small miscellaneous magical objects like rabbits’ feet and horseshoes displayed on them. James looked around at the various types of merchandise being sold; taking note of anything that he might need at a later date if he chose to perform another ritual if this one proved to be successful.
As he walked around the interior of the store; he managed to find the right candles and type of salt he needed but not the special inks or talisman. He gritted his teeth as he contained his internal frustration. He had to find the missing items and soon or he wouldn’t have enough time to properly set up by the time the desired hour came. He took the candles and salt up to the counter and quickly purchased them, not stopping to make small talk with the cashier before leaving the store.
Once he was back outside; the strange sensation inside him immediately returned but it was somehow different now. He looked around him in all directions to see if there was some external explanation for what he was feeling. As he scanned his immediate area; he quickly noticed that the internal feeling was acting sort of like a compass. It seemed to be directing him in an easterly direction as he felt an inner surge of warmth and electric-like tingles whenever he looked in that specific direction. Even though he couldn’t explain what he was sensing, time was of the essence and he needed to find the missing items quickly. He decided to find out what the true meaning of his strange intuition was as he turned and started walking east; following the internal pulses that his body was giving off.
Approximately thirty minutes later; James found himself in front of a small store that was located below ground level. There was a small stone staircase that led down to an old wooden oak door. The black paint of the door was cracking and peeling in some areas; showing that it hadn’t been taken care in quite some time. Above the door hung a faded yellow sign announcing the store’s name as “The Mystical Abyss”. He swallowed the nervousness he felt inside him as he pushed open the door and a little bell above it chimed; signalling his entry.
The shop’s interior was what one would expect for a store located in the basement of a building. It was dark; dusty and had a noticeable musty smell to it. There were several overhead lights spaced through the store that were doing a poor job of properly illuminating the space. The resulting dimness gave the shop an eerie and somewhat foreboding appearance. There were shelves of books and large bookcases running along the exterior walls with several round tables that displayed a variety of items on them. They were spread around the open space that wasn’t already occupied by some of the larger objects or bookshelves.
Some of the items James noticed looked clearly and downright satanic. On one particular table; James saw a blackened human skull that he swore was real and there was a jar of eyeballs floating in dirty water over on another. He shivered a little as he hoped that they weren’t real but something inside him told him that they were. As he turned his head to break his fixation on the disturbing bottle and its contents; a young man in his early thirties appeared from a back room located behind the counter. He had long black stringy hair and a pale complexion. He had a very thin body frame with little noticeable muscle tone. His skin tone was almost as white as snow and gave him an unsettling physical appearance.
“Good day! How can I help you? The man said with a large smile.
James did not immediately respond as he could only look at him. The atmosphere of the store coupled with the clerk’s physical form was making him more than slightly uncomfortable. He hesitated for almost a minute as he debated whether or not to turn around and leave the store. He shook his head a few times to shake the doubt and nervousness from his body before making his way to the counter where the young man stood, waiting patiently for him. He had come this far and it was time to finish what he had started. Another image of Makoto flashed through his mind as if to remind him of why exactly he was doing this.
He took a deep breath and pulled out the folded list from his pocket again. He wanted to get the necessary items and get out of this store as fast as possible and having the clerk’s help would definitely assist in that desire. He placed the list on top of the glass countertop and slid it over to the shop keeper; making sure that he had crossed off the supplies he already had first.
The young man picked up the list and scanned the remaining items. As he read; his eyes flicked from left to right and a small smile began to form at the corners of his mouth. Once he was done; he put the list down and looked at James; his facial expression now appearing to be one of near excitement. The wide smile he gave James displayed some of his tiny yellowing teeth which further made James want to get out of there.
“You are in luck my friend! We have all of the things you are seeking.” The man said cheerfully as he clapped his hands together. He walked around the counter; motioning for James to follow him. Just like before, James hesitated before following the clerk.
The young man lead James to one of the circular tables located in the middle of the store; close to the one with the black skull. He walked around to the far side of the display and picked up three bottles. James guessed that these were the special inks he needed for the visual designs he needed to replicate. The bottles were about the size of a soda pop can and were made of green glass. In the dim light of the store; James couldn’t clearly see what the colours of the inks were but assumed that they were the red, black and purple shades that he needed. The clerk handed the bottles over to James; ensuring that he had a good grip on them before heading back to the counter.
The young man bent down and unlocked the sliding panel door in the back of the counter. He pulled out a black velvet tray from underneath the glass window. The tray had many different talismans; charms; pendants and amulets spread around on it. There were displayed much like how a jeweller would present a collection of rings. The various items were arranged in lines but they were not completely straight due to the different sizes of several of the objects. The store owner drew James’ attention to the left side of the tray with a point of his index finger.
“This is the talisman that you are looking for!”
James looked at the circular medallion in the tray. Its diameter was about the size of a can of soup, making it significantly larger than what he had been expecting. He picked it up and held it between his thumb and index finger. As he flipped it around; he noticed that both of the talisman’s flat sides had the same unique etching on them.
James gazed at the engravings. Part of the design sort of resembled a compass with a trident or a three pronged fork in the centre. The compass similarity came from the presence of four different letters in the spots where someone would normally see N, W, E and S. In their places were G, P, A and A. James logically thought the letters were stand ins for Latin words considering the book that informed him of this specific artefact was partially written in Latin. The craving also had two additional features. On each side; coming out of the central trident were what looked like a Christian cross or a slight variation of a three leaf clover. The design also reminded James of the old German crosses he had seen in books about World War One.
“So… your total today will be one thousand yen.” the clerk informed James as he still studied the talisman. James gave the talisman back to the young man; their fingertips briefly touching as the medallion passed between them. The brief physical contact sent a chill through James’ body and he resisted the urge to jerk his hand away.
He reached into his pocket and pulled out his wallet. He took out the exact amount of money as he did not wanting to wait for the man to give him change. He put the items in the same bag as the candles and salt to eliminate the need to carry two bags. After all of the items were placed inside the bag; James abruptly turned to leave the store, taking special care to not make eye contact with the shop keeper.
“Good luck in your ritual!” The young man called to James as he approached the store’s front door. James stopped and turned his body around where he quietly bowed his thanks to the store worker. He quickly turned back around and exited with the chime of the bell above the door the last sound he heard.
Across the city; a private jet landed at the Haneda International Airport. The plane’s documented flight plan indicated that it had just arrived from Kiev, Ukraine. Once the plane had come to a complete stop; the door in its side opened outwards into two sections. The top section hung over the opening which created a make-shift awning. The door’s bottom section swung downward; revealing a series of steps built into it.
A lone passenger emerged from within the plane. He stepped down the stairs and proceeded to the airport’s security and customs office. Once he was cleared and allowed to leave; he exited the airport and proceeded to walk down the street. As he walked along sidewalk; his head panned slowly to the left and right as he took in the various sights and sounds of the city all around him.
Once he was about five blocks away from the airport; he became satisfied that no one was following him. In his particular line of work and with the many years he had sacrificed to it; he had made more enemies that he had cared to count. This had made him overly cautious and more than a little paranoid. That line of thinking had saved his life on more than one occasion.
He ducked into an alley and quickly changed his clothes. A few seconds later; he was on the roof tops high above the busy streets of downtown Tokyo. He leapt over the gaps between the buildings as he made his way towards the eastern part of the city. He was very careful to avoid being seen by any of the citizens as he moved along. He wanted to avoid any kind of public attention for as long as possible as he did not want his presence to become known to the general population.
Back at Juban Junior High School; the final school bell rang and the students quickly filed out the various doors to the outside world. Some of the young people headed towards one of the multiple ‘cram’ schools that were spread throughout the city’s ward in preparation for the upcoming high school entrance exams. The rest of them proceeded to various other locations such as their individual homes or the Azabu-Juban shopping district.
Minako and Makoto were as usual, waiting for Usagi. Minako had arrived a few minutes ago after sprinting from her school; Shiba Koen Junior High School that located a few kilometres away. As they calmly waited for their friend, they both were hoping that Usagi hadn’t received detention again. They all had arranged to meet at their usual lunch spot after school to discuss the strange events of that morning before going to see a movie at the local theatre. Ami couldn’t go with them as she had to go to her cram school but she had promised to meet up with them afterwards. A few more minutes passed before Usagi finally appeared; bursting through the doors like a mad woman.
“Sorry, sorry, sorry… my home economics class was so boring and I fell asleep!”
As Usagi took a minute to compose herself and mentally will her body to calm down from its sudden show of physical exertion; Makoto suggested that they should go ahead with her idea that she had proposed to them earlier in the day.
“I haven’t see James since this morning and I couldn’t track him down at all in between classes today. He must have left the school and gone home early. Let’s swing by his house on the way to the theatre and check up on him.”
Both Usagi and Minako nodded their heads in agreement to her suggestion. Makoto reached into her school bag and pulled out the piece of paper Ami had given to her about ten minutes ago. Ami had found James’ home address on her computer during her study period and had passed it along to Makoto before leaving for the Crystal Seminar cram school. As they walked along the streets towards James’ house, Usagi and Minako couldn’t help but notice how quiet Makoto was. Her body language was very tense and the usual warmness she exhibited was almost completely absent. Minako mentally wrestled with herself, unsure if she should say anything. However; as was the norm for situations like this, Usagi broke the silence of the journey in our own special way. She never missed an opportunity to speak her mind when one presented itself.
“Do you really think James will want to see you Mako-chan?”
Minako’s eyes flapped open and her body cringed at Usagi’s bluntness. It was one of her characteristics that could be both a blessing and a curse; depending on the situation. Makoto turned her head and looked at Usagi; her facial expression not showing any signs of either being annoyed or offended by her friend’s question. She turned her head back so that she was once again looking forward.
“I am not sure but I have to know that he is alright. I am just worried because he wasn’t acting like himself today.”
“But why do you care so much? It’s not like he’s your boyfriend or anything, right?” Usagi countered.
Minako cringed again as her facial expression seemed to be screaming ‘Did she just say that?’ as she stared over at her friend. Usagi was completely oblivious to Minako’s reaction to her comment as she waited patiently for Makoto to respond to her question.
Makoto was silent for a minute; her eyes and pursed lips indicating that she herself was trying to answer that very question. Unlike Usagi; whose personality and inner nature was to make friends with everyone, she had forced to be much more selective in the people that she allowed herself to get close to.
She had been very lucky in finding such a wonderful collection of friends that she enjoyed spending most of her time with. She would do almost anything for them and would willingly defend any of them even if it meant her own death. However; when it came to men and romance, Makoto had not been so fortunate in that particular department. She still felt the lingering effects of being dumped by a senior class man at her old school even after so much time had passed.
She continued to ponder Usagi’s question as they continued to casually walk along the sidewalk. When she finally felt she had an answer; she turned her head again to look back at Usagi.
“He is a good guy and he doesn’t deserve how he’s been treated. You asked why I am so determined to go check up on him. I want to be able to say that I did everything I could to help him and that I tried to be the best person and friend towards him.” Makoto answered in matter-of-factly tone of voice.
Usagi looked at the ground for a second before lifting his head to refocus on what was in front of her. It wasn’t too long ago that Makoto had been asking Usagi the very same question. Usagi had been at the time; trying to be-friend a pair of new transfer students named Alan and Ann. However; right from the very beginning, Ann didn’t like Usagi because of her close relationship with Mamoru. Ever since she first saw him; Ann had developed a severe crush on him and saw Usagi as her romantic rival. This had led to several conflicts and awkward moments between the two of them over the following weeks.
One such time was when Usagi went to their apartment to look in on her and Alan after they had missed a couple days of school due to being sick. Makoto and Ami happened to be with her at the time and accompanied her to their apartment. When they got there; Ann was especially rude to Usagi which had infuriated Makoto. As it later turned out; Alan and Ann had been actually the main enemies they had been fighting against for the last few months.
It was revealed to them that they were really alien visitors from outer space and had been stealing human energy to keep them alive by keeping the tree they depended on for food; strong and healthy with the stolen energy. During the final battle; it was discovered that the tree actually needed the energy generated by acts of love and compassion more than simple harvested human energy to truly flourish and thrive.
With that shocking and powerful revelation; Alan and Ann asked Sailor Moon to cleanse the negative energy from inside them by using the power of her moon sceptre and renounce their evil and misguided ways. Perhaps Makoto was just trying to save James before he got lost and went down the wrong path like Alan and Ann had.
She finished her internal memory recall as they finally arrived at James’ house. From the outside; it was a tall modest-looking elephant grey-coloured house. From where they were standing on the other side of the street; the house appeared to be very flat with an open garage located directly under an outside porch area. The house was situated very close to the street with just enough space to accommodate the civilian sidewalk. There was an additional parking spot running along the front of the house where the street widened enough to allow for any passing cars to continue on. There were two medium-sized trees that were planted along the front of the house; one just outside the garage entrance and the other on the opposite side of the front door. Several large flat windows were placed around the lower portions of the house which allowed for small glimpses into the interior of the house.
Makoto rang the doorbell while the girls watched from a short distance behind her. As they patiently waited; Minako tilted her head upwards to scan the windows; looking for any signs of life inside. Usagi meanwhile, was solely focusing on Makoto as she wondered what they were going to say when and if James opened the door. She and Minako had both agreed on the way over to let Makoto do all the talking since she was the one that knew James better than either one of them. They would only intervene if it was deemed necessary but they were mainly there to only offer moral support to Makoto if she needed them. Up at the front door; Makoto leaned in and tried the doorbell again. They could hear the chime of the bell from within the house but no sound of footsteps afterwards. They waited for another couple of minutes before Usagi came up behind her and placed her hand on Makoto’s right shoulder.
“I guess he is not home.”
“I guess so…”
Makoto had a look on her face that showed that she was deeply disappointed and maybe even felt a little defeated. Usagi felt bad for her friend. She could tell that this had meant a lot to her. She was trying to do what she thought was right by reaching out to someone that she thought and truly believed was in some kind of trouble or pain. She could definitely relate to that sentiment as she often did or had done similar things for people that she encountered in her daily activities.
“Tell you what! Let’s all go get some tea and cake and we will come back here and try again before the movie.” Usagi said with some of her usual jubilance. She clapped her hands together in her own personal attempt to emphasize her idea and try to raise Makoto’s mood at the same time. Makoto couldn’t help but smile as she looked at her friend’s beaming face and bright blue eyes that were constantly filled with life.
“Yea… that sounds like fun! Let’s go!”
Usagi jumped for joy and Minako clapped her hands together happily upon hearing Makoto’s answer. The girls eagerly grouped together and quickly filed down the street. Usagi skipped with excitement at the thought of eating delicious cake. Minako and Makoto followed closely behind her. They smiled and laughed as they watched their best friend and her seemingly endless and infectious enthusiasm lift their individual spirits.
From an upstairs window; James watched the girls as they walked away from his house. He let a small sigh escape his mouth as they eventually disappeared from his view around the corner at the top of his street. He felt his heart rate still start to slow down after he had nearly hit the ceiling when he first heard the doorbell ring a few minutes earlier.
He had been right in the middle of drawing one of the necessary visual designs on the floor of the outdoor porch area. He had managed to resist the instinctive urge to look through one of the porch windows out of the fear that he would be seen by whomever was at the door.
He didn’t want anyone to disturb him when he was busy preparing for the ritual. There was still a lot to do and he couldn’t spare the time for idle chit-chat with anyone. After the doorbell rang the second time; he had very quietly snuck back into the house and went to the nearest front facing second floor window.
He hadn’t been all that surprised when he saw it was Makoto and her friends that were at his door. Of all the people he knew; she was the only person who seemed to care enough to personally check up on him. His heart jumped inside his chest as the possible reasons for her coming to his house could mean. Soon; he thought, I will become the man she will fall madly in love with and then they would be together forever.
A smile crossed his lips as that one beautiful thought lingered in his mind for about a minute. He then shook his head a few times to re-focus his brain on the task at hand. He didn’t have time to daydream about his possible future with Makoto. He had to finish the designs and quickly. In less than one hour; it would be time to perform the ritual and he couldn’t afford to miss the deadline for any reason. He had to take this opportunity or else his dream of being with Makoto would remain just that; a dream.
At that exact moment across town; Luna the cat was walking along the stone walls that lined the narrow streets of the Juban district of the Minato Ward of Tokyo. She was enjoying the feeling of the warm sunshine on her black fur and the cool breeze that blew the air. It had been a long time since she could let her guard down and truly relax. When she had been re-awakened after her thousands of years in suspended animation; her life since then had been solely focused on locating, training and mentoring the Sailor Soldiers to defeat their ancient enemy; the Dark Kingdom and then the Doom Tree and its guardians, Alan and Ann shortly after. With both of those threats now over and no new enemy appearing to take their place; she was finally allowing herself to believe that she could live as just an ordinary cat for a change.
As she strolled along the top of the wall; she noticed a thick red piece of rope that was draped over the grey stone top of the wall a short distance in front of her. As she slowly approached it; she tilted her head to the side as she visually examined it. As she grew closer to it; she saw that the string-like object didn’t have any of the fibrous threading one would come to expect from something made from yarn. Its texture looked to be smooth like a rope covered in a nylon wrap or a wire in a protective sheathing. As she moved even closer; she dropped her head and body into a cautious defensive stance, the red string began to slowly and subtlety move. There was no wind and the gentle breeze that was present today was not strong enough to move the string-like object like this.
There were also no kids or other animals around that Luna could see so it appeared that the string seemed to be moving all on its own. She continued to slowly move towards it; her body’s muscles tensing up so she was ready to move at a moment’s notice if something unexpected happened. When she got to within a foot of the red rope; it reared up like a cobra and the very end of the strand bent into an angle that made it appear that it was looking at her. It didn’t proceed to attack or make any sort of aggressive movement towards her. It just gently drifted back and forth like a strand of long grass swaying in a gentle summer wind.
Luna’s eyes immediately flashed with a moment of clarity as her body’s posture loosened. She now knew what this string was and more importantly; who it belonged too.
“Carnage! Come out! I know it’s you!”
“I am glad that you still remember me!” Carnage replied as he appeared from above; appearing out of the thick foliage of a tree that hanged out over the wall she had been walking along. He dropped down into the enclosed area that the tree was located in and away from the eyes of the general public. Luna leaped down into the area as well; allowing them to continue their conversation in private. As she gracefully landed in front of him; Carnage pulled his symbiote face back, exposing Sean’s human head and neck.
“It’s good to see you again Luna.” he said warmly.
“As it is for me as well.” Luna said matching his sincerity. A moment of silence past between them as they both stood there; looking at each other.
“How are the girls?” Sean said quietly and with some awkwardness in his voice.
“They are doing well.” She replied before dropping her head slightly.
In her mind, Luna was trying to decide if she should tell him about the girls’ reawakening as sailor warriors. It was something that she felt he would want to know; considering everything that they all had been through against the Dark Kingdom. She took in a deep breath as she made her decision and slowly lifted her head up as she prepared for what she knew would be coming.
“You should know… it became necessary to re-awaken the Sailor Soldiers again when a new enemy appeared.” Luna said quietly.
Sean looked down at her; his body language not giving anything away as to how he was taking that little bit of unexpected news. Luna stared up at him as she tried to read him; looking for any sign or at least something that she could work with so she could properly progress the conversation accordingly. Finally after what seemed like an eternity to her; Sean broke the silence and offered his response to her comment.
“That is … unfortunate but actually could make my reason for being here go much more smoother!”
Luna lifted her chin up a little higher as she looked at him; her eyes widening as the reality of Sean’s comment resonated with her. It hadn’t yet occurred to her that the reason Sean was back in Japan was because of some planetary threat. Now that she had come to realize that reality; she put herself back in her usual guardian mindset.
“What is happening; why are you here exactly?” She asked with a serious and anxious tone in her voice.
“My sources have told me that a very dangerous evil will rise tonight in this part of the city. I had originally hoped to stop the threat without revealing myself to the girls. However; the assistance of the Sailor Soldiers would definitely help keep any civilian casualties down to a minimal.”
“Are you expecting it to get that bad?”
“It depends on whether we can get to the location in time.”
“What time and where is this evil supposed to appear?” Luna inquired; not wanting to waste any more time and knowing that he still hadn’t told her any specific information as of yet.
“They people that informed me of this threat could not say. They could only provide the day, place and general time span but nothing more precise than that. Upon arriving here earlier today; I decided that I needed to seek you and Artemis out in the hopes that you had any information that would help focus and possibly even narrow down my search area.”
Luna shook her head in response. It had been extremely quiet the last few weeks since the Sailors had defeated the Doom Tree and its servants. She hadn’t noticed anything strange or out of the ordinary other than just the basic human crime or behaviour but certainly nothing on a global crisis level.
Sean gritted his teeth as he felt his internal frustration begin to swell up inside him. He absolutely did not like not having any clear direction to go but he especially hated having to wait until they were given some sort of sign or clue as to what to do next. That was one of the things that had greatly annoyed him since he joined up with the ‘Planet Protectors’ many years ago. They had a team of powerful psychics and clairvoyants that could foretell when and where threats could occur but they still couldn’t break it down to a specific address because it wasn’t an “exact science.” This meant that all the chosen or assigned hero could do was go to the indicated location and blindly search the area until more often than not; they stumbled onto the threat purely by accident in order to stop or contain it. It was a very dangerous gamble to play; hoping that the hero in question would be strong, smart or lucky enough to stop the threat once it made itself known or came to pass.
Sean blinked his eyes a few times and ended his inner criticism as he re-focused on Luna; who at the moment was still waiting anxiously in front of him. He thought for a second and looked to the western part of the city. From his current position; he could see a large digital clock on top of an office building a short distance away. The clock displayed the current time as being ‘5:45pm.’
“Where are the girls now?” He asked Luna while still looking at the clock.
“I am not sure. Ami is probably still at the Crystal Seminar school and Rei is most likely at the shrine. The other girls I honestly wouldn’t even know where to start looking for them.” Luna responded.
“Let’s go and find Rei. Her exceptional ability at fire reading might give us a clue as to who exactly we need to find and her keen psychic intuition could also allow us to find the exact location before it’s not too late.”
Luna nodded at Sean’s suggestion. She couldn’t help but allow herself a moment of relief at having him back in their lives; if only temporarily. He was a brilliant battle strategist and in times of emergencies; his calm demeanour had often lead the Sailors to much easier victories against some pretty tough opponents. Sean added one last suggestion which cut through her current train of thought short.
“We will also contact Ami on our way over and have her meet us at the shrine as soon as possible. Her computer skills could further increase our chances of stopping this threat before it starts.”
Luna looked at Sean but before she could voice any sort of response; a large vertical slit appeared in the symbiote material on the side of Sean’s right hip. He reached down with his right hand and pulled out the small pink communicator that he had been given when he became an official member of the Sailor team. Sean noticed her surprised expression and gave her a warm smile.
“I will always be a member of the team. I just get to represent the team in exotic locations.” He said with his typical sarcastic sense of humour.
Luna smiled back in response. It really did feel good to have him back. She had truly missed him and she was sure Artemis would agree with her as well. She snapped back out of her thought tangent when Sean’s head became re-covered in the symbiote material making him fully Carnage once more.
“Let’s get going to the shrine!” he said in his deep; raspy-sounding voice.
Luna jumped up onto his right shoulder. The symbiote gently wrapped several thin strands around her as she settled his body down against the thick musculature of his shoulder. The strands were meant to act like a seatbelt; keeping her secure to his body so she wouldn’t fall off as they headed towards the Hikawa Shrine. With a leap to the nearest building; they began to head off in the direction of Rei’s shrine.
End of Chapter 6…
Chapter Seven: The Evil Rises
James stood up and wiped some of the sweat from his forehead as he looked around at his artwork. He had just completed the last of the required drawings he needed for the ceremony with a little time to spare. There had been three visual images that he needed to replicate; one on the ground and one on each of the walls to the left and right of the floor image.
The design on the ground had been by far the most difficult and therefore the most time consuming to finish. This was mainly due to the number of small intricate details that had to be duplicated. The icon as it turned out, was simply just a larger version of the etching on the talisman. However; the book had very clearly stated that the image had to be replicated perfectly or the ritual would not be successful. James had to frequently refer back to the book when making the necessary lines or dots to avoid putting them in the incorrect places. On top of all that; the book had provided the exact measurements for the floor drawing and again emphasized the point that the ritual would not work if the measurements were off even by an inch.
The book called for the circular image to be exactly six feet in width by six feet in length by six feet in diagonal diameter. Luckily; James had been a great student in his past math classes so he was able to properly plot out the correct markers to ensure the accuracy of the sphere. That particular part of the preparation; the planning and setup had been the most time consuming for James and he was glad that he had left school when he did early today. Otherwise; he wouldn’t have been able to properly complete it by the necessary hour and the money and effort he had already used would have been completely wasted.
Thankfully; the two wall sketches had been slightly easier to recreate. The first one had consisted of a simple bloody upside-down Christian cross while the other picture was a slightly more difficult black Star of David. The book had not given any specific instructions for them like the central drawing but James still took his time and made them as close to the book’s descriptions as he could. The special inks he had bought from the occult shop had been required to make certain sections or lines in each of the drawings. James was again thankful that he had left school early so he could have the extra time to prepare as he had just enough of each of the exotic inks to complete the images as he would not have enough time to go back to the store to get more.
When he finished; he put the leftover painting supplies off to the side so that they were out of the way and walked around the perimeter of the porch area. As he moved around the open space; he placed the candles he purchased in the correct locations as indicated by the book. When that was finally completed, the last he needed to do was pour a thick line of salt around the central drawing on the floor, creating a border of white crystalized powder. After the two ends of the circular rim were successfully joined together, he looked at his watch. It read that the current time was 5:58pm. He had only two minutes left. It was nearly time to begin the ceremony.
The anticipation began to rapidly build up inside him. He quickly hurried around the area and lit each of the candles. The candles as it turned out were made with a very special wick. When it was ignited; the resulting flame would burn black and purple instead of the usual orange and red. It was a little unsettling for him to see the eerily dark flames of the candles as they illuminated the surrounding area but he had come too far and was too committed to the ritual to back off now.
He sat down with his legs crossed and settled himself in the centre of the circular floor design. The paint and ink of the drawing had been of a quick drying mixture so that meant that he did not have to worry about getting paint on his clothes which was a small thing to be thankful for. He placed the black book which was already open to the correct page, on the floor directly in front of him. He looked down at it and quickly glanced over the words he needed to say one last time. He was very careful to not mention any of them out loud just in case that voided the magical power of the ceremony because he started too early. He mentally recalled an image of Makoto smiling at him one more time to act as a reminder as to why he was doing all of this. His watch started to beep loudly; bringing his focus back and causing the image of her to vanish from his mind.
He took in a deep breath which slowed down his heart beat and eased some of the built up nervousness that was resonating inside him. He again cleared his mind of all thoughts except for the ones that were directly related to the ceremony. When he finally felt he was truly ready; he looked down at the book and focused on the first line of the ritual. He took in another deep breath and began to speak the words out loud.
“I call forth the power of the Prince of Fire!”
“Give me the power I beg of you!”
“Instill inside me, the power of the element that gives life!”
“Allow me to feel the wisdom of the guide of the four kings!”
As he finished those words; James felt the wind around him start to pick up. The power of the gusts reminded James of a small hurricane. It was tossing dirt; leaves and other forms of debris around with incredible might. James’ eyes lit up with excitement as he quickly realized that the ritual was actually working! He glanced up; looking up at the sky directly above him. What he saw nearly stopped him in his tracks.
Thick black clouds were appearing from seemingly nowhere. These clouds were moving much quicker than normal clouds and they were all mixing together in the sky directly above him. The clouds lit up repeatedly as lightning crackled around inside them. Thunder could also be heard in between the brief flashes of light from inside the black and scary clouds. As he watched this breathtaking sight taking place; he nearly forgot that there was still more of the ritual to complete. The sound of the open book’s pages fluttering loudly in the wind snapped his focus back to it. He quickly found where he had left off and continued to speak the required words in a loud and clear voice.
“Enlightened me with the ideals of the philosopher!”
“Allow me to see the truths!”
“Past, present and the future!”
“Grant me the power of the King!”
“The ruler of the south and west terra firma!”
“I command you, the great overlord!
“Come forth GAAP, I summon you!”
With those final words; a single ear-splitting thunderclap echoed over the city as the clouds above opened up and a bright and impossibly brilliant shaft of light shot down from the heavens above. It landed directly in the centre of the floor drawing and completely engulfed James in its blinding radiance. Dozens of blue-white energy sparks rained down from the sky and into James’ body. The force of the light hitting the ground was strong enough that it instantly levelled the three outside walls of the porch area and shattered all of the windows in the house. Thick cracks zigzagged along the concrete foundation and stone structures of the house making it structurally unstable. Even with its re-enforced building materials which were meant to withstand a massive earthquake which was something that was always a constant concern for the people of Japan. The force unleashed by the supernatural light ray was like that of the strongest earthquake in recorded history multiplied by two and concentrated on that one particular spot.
James screamed as he felt an incredible new power course through his body. It was radically different than the feelings he had been experiencing for the past two days. This energy was much more intense and incredibly painful. It felt like he was being ripped apart from the inside out and at any moment he was going to violently implode. The energy of the unnatural light shaft lifted James off the ground; causing him to levitate. The strain on his fragile human body finally became too much and he mercifully passed out into unconsciousness. His body became limp as his head dropped back and his spine arched backwards like he had just been hit from behind. His arms and legs hung lifeless underneath him.
As he continued to float in the seemingly hellish white light; a shocking transformation began to take place. James’ skin became the colours of stone; grey and black. His body size grew to an enormous eighteen feet in height; making him the size of an adult giraffe. His clothes were torn away as his body grew and expanded; his bones elongating and his muscles bulging and swelling to match the rapidly increasing skeletal frame. His fingers fused and merged together into three long thick claws while his toes elongated with each one ending with a razor sharp talon. Abruptly appearing out of his upper back was a pair of huge bat-like wings that sprouted from thick grey skin. Each wing came equipped with seven razor-sharp spikes; four on the bottom and three on the top. His ears grew to huge proportions but still retained some of their original humanistic appearance. Two straight horns erupted from his forehead while a short furry tail finished off James’ incredible and terrifying physical transformation.
Once the change was fully complete; the shaft of light rapidly began to shrink away until it ascended back up into the sky. The winds ceased their powerful gusts and the debris that was swirling around during the ceremony finally settled back down to the ground. The dark clouds in the sky remained where they were thou; blocking out the sunlight and keeping the entire city in a state of permanent night.
The creature that had been once James Saki opened its eyes as it started to slowly drift back down to the ground. As it descended; its huge wings began to slowly flap which halted its downward fall brought on by the sudden absence of the energy from the light shaft. It lifted its head and looked out over the city that was now its territory; its glowing solid red eyes unblinking. Its large mouth twisted into a wide smile showing its black pointed teeth to emphasize the true demonic nature of its owner.
The demon turned its head and cast its gaze over its shoulder and downward towards the street below it; looking for the person who had just spoken. A faint look of recognition flashed across its inhuman face. A second later however; that expression vanished and was replaced by a look of amusement as it stared at the owner of the voice.
It fully turned its body; showing off its thin-looking but heavily muscled body. It landed fully on what remained of the house’s second floor; the remains of the structure visibly shaking as it struggled to hold up against the monster’s weight. Its huge wings folded down against its back but were still visible over the tops of the creature’s shoulders. Its foot talons dug deep grooves into the floor materials of the house; giving it some additional stability. It smiled again as it sized up the small group of warriors that come to challenge it.
End of Chapter 7…
Chapter Eight: The First Battle
“James… is that you? Sailor Jupiter asked; her voice trembling with fear and absolute disbelief.
The demon that had once been James continued to silently stand on the remains of the house and stare down at them; its evil grin sending waves of almost paralyzing terror down each of their spines. Makoto, Usagi and Minako had arrived just as the unholy transformation had finished. They had immediately noticed the darkening skies and the sudden onset of the powerful winds and were instinctively drawn outside of the cafe they had been in. They had stood out on the sidewalk; looking in all directions for the cause of the sudden and ominous-looking events when the deafening crack of thunder and the thick beam of light that immediately followed descended from the heavens. Makoto had recognized the area where the shaft of light had landed and had sprinted as fast as she could to its landing point with Usagi and Minako following close behind her. They had transformed as they had gotten closer to the location; knowing that whatever was behind turn of events was almost certainly something evil and would require them to engage it in their sailor personas. However; none of them had ever expected to find what they did when they finally reached the spot where the channel of light had touched down.
“The one you call James is no more! It is and forever always will be… me!” The demon hissed at them.
“Over my dead body!” Sailor Jupiter barked as she raised her hands to her head; signalling that she was preparing to launch her ‘Supreme Thunder’ attack.
“If you insist…” snarled the demon as it tensed its body into a rigid state.
A bolt of lightning broke through the supernatural clouds and struck the small antenna that had extended up from the centre of Sailor Jupiter’s tiara. She then threw her arms out and a blast of concentrated electric energy collected from the harvested lightning shot out from her body; heading straight for the creature’s chest. In response; the demon’s huge wings quickly unfolded and wrapped themselves tightly around the front of its body. It tucked its head down behind its wings; creating a make-shift shield. The electricity hit the wings and quickly disappeared as if the leathery material that they were made of seemingly absorbed the energy. The only evidence of the attack making contact with the monster was a thin stream of smoke billowing out from the spot where the energy had hit the creature. The wings retracted and the demon looked up and back down at the sailors; its facial expression returning to the amused look it had given them only seconds earlier.
Its wings spread out to their full wingspan which was an impressive sight to behold and was easily the width of a small airplane. It began to flap them and the resulting blasts of wind they generated blew the three sailors off their feet and threw them back against the walls of the surrounding houses with a resulting and sickening sounding thud. Their individual impacts left long spidery cracks and large dents in the concrete of the buildings they landed against. Their enhanced physical strength and durability in their sailor forms prevented them from suffering a fatal injury but it still really hurt and was enough to slow them down for a minute.
The demon continued its ascent up into the sky; its eyes never looking away from its opponents as it did so. When it had achieved the sufficient elevation; it turned its body downward and swooped down at them like a huge bird of prey.
The sailors were still in the process of slowly recovering from being thrown against the adjacent buildings. Sailor Jupiter and Venus were the physically strongest of the team so they got to their feet first. Sailor Venus tilted her head upwards as she stood up and saw the demon’s approaching dive attack first. She immediately screamed out a warning to the others.
Sailor Jupiter jumped to safety in response but Sailor Moon could only scream out in terror; her body completely paralyzed by the understandable fear of facing such a monster.
“Someone help me!”
Sailor Venus reacted quickly; raising her hand to the sky and unleashing her “Love Me Chain” attack at the demon. The chain of super strong yellow energy encircled her body before shooting upwards; wrapping around the demon’s right foot. She knew that she didn’t have a prayer of completely halting its attack or even slowing it down but that wasn’t her intention. As the demon dropped down between the buildings lining the street; its wings and body turned out to be much stronger than they looked as it sliced through the concrete walls of the structures with ease. This unexpected sight immediately filled the sailors will even more terror as it showed that despite its size; the demon could cut through any obstacle in its way to get to its intended target. This meant that if they had to escape or at least find a place where they could re-group; their options for hiding places was now severely reduced.
The demon’s current target was clearly Sailor Moon; who continued to sit on the ground against the wall she had been thrown against as tears of absolute terror continued to run down her face. She had her arms crossed over her face in a desperate defensive move.
The energy chain around the demon’s foot finally went taut. Sailor Venus planted her orange heeled shoes to the ground and pulled as hard as she could; using all of her enhanced strength. The demon felt the sudden onset of pressure from the chain and turned its head for a second; looking at the mild nuisance that was Sailor Venus. The distraction from her worked as the temporary break in the demon’s focus had caused it to drift up slightly; making it over-shoot Sailor Moon by a foot. The demon passed harmlessly overhead as its razor sharp claws and wings sliced through the brick and mortar of the building behind her but otherwise leaving Sailor Moon unharmed; if only for a few more seconds. The demon gave an angry look back at the sailors as it arched its body upwards and glided back up into the sky. It jerked its right knee upwards; snapping the energy chain that was still lassoed around its ankle.
With the precious seconds they now had; Sailor Jupiter ran over to Sailor Moon and knelt down beside her. Sailor Moon was babbling quickly; her words not making any sense and the same tangent being repeated in a continuously loop making her ability to form coherent thoughts severely compromised. Sailor Jupiter began to desperately try in vain to snap her friend out her sudden state of paralyzing madness. She placed her hands on Sailor Moon’s shoulders and began to roughly shake her in the hopes that the physical movement would be enough to break through her temporarily insanity.
“We can’t fight something that big. It’s like Super Beryl; it will kill us all, just like she did…”
Sailor Jupiter; who was constantly checking behind her to keep tabs on the demon’s current position while Sailor Venus distracted it with her Crescent Beam laser beams, increased the force with which she shook Sailor Moon in another attempt to try to get her to snap out of her useless thought tangent.
After about a minute; she finally had enough and forcibly slapped Sailor Moon across the face in a moment of pure frustration. The slap seemed to work as Sailor Moon quickly blinked her eyes a few times as she put her hand to her face on the spot where Sailor Jupiter’s hand had made contact and turned to look at her friend.
“Sailor Moon… snap out of it and get up! We need you and we can’t fight this thing by ourselves!” She yelled as the frustration and fear she was feeling was taking their toll on her as well.
Sailor Moon quickly got to her feet as her eyes looking up at the demon hovering in the sky as it easily dodged the beams of light coming from Sailor Venus. Her mind was now clear of the temporary craziness that had just enveloped her. She quickly weighed her attack options in her head as she continued to watch their opponent flying high above them. She had lost the Crescent Moon Wand during her final battle with Queen Beryl so that would make channelling the Silver Crystal’s energy much more difficult. She couldn’t use her tiara because judging from how the demon was moving; it was much too agile in the air and would easily dodge it. That left only the Moon Sceptre and her ‘Moon Sceptre Elimination’ attack. She was confident that it would work since it hadn’t failed her yet but she was still unsure if she could successfully launch the attack if the demon chose to not stand still long enough for her to aim it. There was also the possibility that it could be able to dodge it if she did manage to unleash it. However; she quickly pushed that idea out of her mind as it would serve no purpose to worry about it now; especially when her life was on the line like it was now.
The demon avoided another blast from Sailor Venus before landing down on the street in front of the sailors. The physical size of the creature still put the sailors in a complete state of awe. Out of all of them; only Sailor Moon had ever faced an enemy that large or larger and it had nearly cost her; her life.
As soon as its feet touched the ground; the demon charged forward. The sailors had no time to react as it closed the distance between them in three long strides. Sailor Jupiter and Sailor Venus each threw themselves to the side; barely avoiding the claw slashes that were aimed at their heads. They didn’t escape completely unscathed as the claws managed to scratch the flesh on their backs as they passed by them. The wounds were deep enough to draw blood but not so serious that it would cause a fatal injury. They both screamed out in pain as their individual adrenaline surges ceased for a second; allowing them to feel the full force of the inflicted wounds. They dropped down to their hands and knees; unable to stand up until the pain they were currently feeling significantly lessened.
Sailor Moon meanwhile; had done the exact opposite of the others. As the demon had charged forward; she had dived towards it and rolled between its legs as it pasted over her. As she completed her forward roll; she came to a stop on her knees and threw her right arm back with her moon sceptre in hand. She immediately fired the sceptre’s magical energy as she aimed for the demon’s back.
Her attack was successful as the blast from the sceptre struck the demon in the middle of his back; right between its massive wings. The demon lurched forward but only just slightly. The abrupt movement was not enough to cause a stumble or even much of a body tilt. By all appearances; the attack didn’t seem to have any significant effect than that.
Sailor Moon became almost paralyzed with fear again as the reality of her most powerful attack’s effect on the demon sunk in with her. In addition to that was the unsettling tableau lying out before her as two of her best friends were slowing picking themselves off the ground with large slashes cut into their backs and their white sailor uniforms stained red by the resulting blood loss. If that wasn’t enough; they now had to face the reality that none of their attacks were having any visible effect on the monster other than mildly annoying it. Their attacks were having the same effect as a human walking against a weak summer breeze or a rock being thrown against a sheet of steel. She remained in her current kneeling position as she desperately tried to fight through her terror and form another plan of attack.
The demon finished his attack charge and spun around; looking at the destruction it had caused thus far. The street was littered with various sized pieces of concrete and broken glass. The three warriors challenging him were scattered around the area and its enhanced sense of smell picked up the unmistakable scent of blood. It threw its head back and let loose in a fit of loud hysterical laughter. The sound of it was the most terrifying and horrible thing Sailor Moon or any of the sailors could have ever imagined. It seemed to echo off the unnatural black clouds in the sky like how the voice of God was often portrayed in some old movies except this sounded far more malevolent. It was something that they all knew would haunt them for the rest of their lives.
The unexpected announcement was partly drowned out by the eerie laughter but was still loud enough that it immediately drew Sailor Moon’s attention. From their current positions; Sailor Jupiter and Sailor Venus also glanced towards the voice as a ray of hope appeared in both of their eyes.
Several rings of fire shot forward at the demon; hitting it in the center of its upper chest. The flames and heat from the rings singed the black hair in the impact area and caused some visible steam to appear but it didn’t cause any other further noticeable damage. The demon immediately stopped its laughter and stared at the newest addition to the group of female defenders.
Rei had been shopping in the Azabu-Juban shopping district after she had completed her shift at the shrine. Her psychic intuition had immediately begun to react when the increase in the winds and the dark clouds began to appear in the sky. She had stopped on the sidewalk and closed her eyes; letting her mind solely focus on finding the source of the intense evil energy she was sensing. When the sonic thunderclap had rang out and the tunnel of light had appeared; she ran as fast as she could to the location where the light had touched down but she still had been a fair distance away so it took her awhile to reach the area. She had heard the laughter as she got closer and quickly transformed into her sailor outfit. When she arrived; the sight of her friends bloodied and severely injured had enraged her which added to the power of her attack.
The demon patted its chest with one of its large hands, where the fire attack had hit it. The sailors stared in disbelief as they took in the reality that another one of their attacks didn’t seem to have any lasting effect against this monster! They were in very big trouble and they all immediately knew it. Their only chance now was the Sailor Planet attack; the one they had used against Super Beryl in the final battle with the Dark Kingdom. However; they still needed Sailor Mercury to activate it and she still currently wasn’t with them. They could only hope that Ami had heard the thunderclap and seen the beam of light and was heading to their location right now. They just had to hold out long enough for her to reach them.
The demon lowered its head as it prepared to charge at them again. Sailor Jupiter and Venus couldn’t take another hit; either direct or indirect. Both of them were just now slowly getting back to their feet and were in no shape to move quickly if it was necessary. Sailor Moon’s attacks were useless and it would be suicide for Sailor Mars to attack it all by herself. The only thing they could do was keep dodging its attacks and stay alive long enough until they could think of something else to do.
The demon charged forward with its hands hanging low enough that its claws would slice through the sailors’ abdomens as it passed by them. Reacting on pure instinct; Sailor Jupiter and Venus copied what Sailor Moon had done earlier and rolled between the demon’s legs as it stampeded at them. At the same time; Sailor Mars grabbed Sailor Moon and pulled her into the nearest alley to take them out of the creature’s rampaging path.
The creature abruptly stopped its charge; digging its foot talons into the street asphalt to halt its momentum before spinning its body around. It approached the mouth of the alley; looking down it as it watched the two young girls as they positioned themselves in the middle of the alley in an attempt to re-group. In a blur of sudden movement; it struck one of the buildings that made up the alley. The brick and mortar immediately crumbled to the ground; kicking up a thick cloud of dust that temporarily obscured the sailors’ visual of the monster. Another large thud and cloud of dust immediately became visible; alerting them to the monster’s true intentions.
“It’s coming in after us!” Sailor Moon screamed.
Sailor Mars didn’t respond to her friend’s outburst as she was too busy looking around for an escape route. The alley they were in had no side doors built into it on either side and it dead-ended with the wall of another building. This made the only way out for them currently blocked by the monster. The creature continued its violent demolition of the alley buildings as it was slowly getting closer to them. The way it was tearing through the structures; it would be able to reach them in a matter of minutes. In their current enclosed space; they would have no chance of avoiding any sort of physical attack from it.
The demon brought its arm back to swing again and destroy another section of the building of its left; bringing it one step closer to them. Sailor Moon prepared herself for the impending sound of more concrete and metal being ripped apart. Sailor Mars continued to desperately form an attack plan to distract the demon long enough for them to escape.
She pulled Sailor Moon further into the alley to maintain their distance between them and it and also to allow them so more time to re-group. She scanned around their surroundings again; weighing their options as she thought. She knew that her fire powers alone would do nothing against it and she had seen Sailor Moon use her moon sceptre so she knew the disappointing effects of that attack. Their only chance was to hit the demon in a sensitive area; like the eyes or an open wound. This would; in theory give them some precious seconds to get themselves to safety and out of the tight quarters of the alley.
The demon struck the buildings in two consecutive strikes and immediately reached in with its seven foot long arm. Its long finger claws raking and scratching the ground only three feet from where they were standing. They were rapidly running out of time. In a minute or less; it was going muscle its way into the alley and kill them.
A sudden flash of light became visible behind the monster which was followed by another flash. The smell of ozone filled the air which was one of the tell-tale signs of an electric current. Sailor Mars and Moon allowed their individual hopes to rise a little bit. Sailor Jupiter and Venus had recovered and were now trying to get the monster’s attention so they could escape the alley.
The demon glanced back at the other two sailors as its thick skin easily absorbed the impact of their combined attacks. It turned its body around to face them and flapped its wings in several quick movements. This created a strong gust of wind that proceeded to throw them back again. Their bodies bounced hard off of the asphalt before skidding along the rough surface of the street.
With the only resistance now taken care of; the demon returned its attention back to the two girls in the alley. Sailor Mars and Sailor Moon had tried to escape while the monster’s body was turned but it hadn’t lasted as long as they had needed to escape. They abruptly halted their run when they saw the demon turn back to face them. Their sudden stop had caused them to stumble and fall backwards but it also now had put them within striking distance of the creature. The monster reached its arm out in an attempt to grab them with its iron-like hands. They both couldn’t avoid the incoming hand and their strong sense of loyalty and friendship prevented them from leaving the other to a gruesome fate. They instead focused their energies on their individual attacks as they prepared themselves to go down fighting.
“Shine Aqua Illusion!” announced the voice they had all been hoping to hear.
A blast of icy cold water hit the monster in the back of the shoulder and right wing; instantly encasing them in solid ice upon contact. The demon looked utterly surprised as it felt its body became immediately frozen. It pulled its arm back and stood up; turning around to look at the source of this unexpected assault. Sailor Mars and Moon took advantage of its retreat by running past it and out of the alley. They hurried to where their saviour was; excited smiles on both of their faces.
Sailor Mercury briefly glanced at them but did not return their smiles. Her eyes remained focused on the huge monstrosity that was returning her intense stare. Sailor Jupiter and Venus also hurried over to join them even though both of them were having trouble standing upright. Their uniforms were severely shredded and bloodied as a result from the claw attack and then being skidded along the road. The four sailors all took positions around Sailor Moon; each of them determined to protect their princess.
The demon regarded the sailors with a look that seemed to tell them that it was not intimidated by them in the slightest. It broke its stare-down with them as it looked at its flash frozen shoulder first and then back at them. Its red eyes clearly expressing that its amusement at their feeble efforts had finally reached its end. It looked back at its shoulder; took in a deep breath and blew a ball of blazing red hellfire from its mouth at the solid ice; which melted instantly. It shook its arm; knocking the remaining droplets of water off of it before lowering its body into a offensive battle stance. It roared at them; something that was almost as terrifying as its laugh. As it roared at them; the sailors, not losing their focus for a second, quickly joined hands together and closed their eyes.
“Moon Crystal Power!”
As they each called out their individual planetary guardian; brightly coloured radiant energy became visible all around them. This incredible surge of power being emitted from each of them, combined with the other energies from the others as they were each activated. The creature continued its charge forward at them; roaring at them as it rapidly approached. The collective of powerful planetary energy from the sailors began to repeatedly flash a brilliant white and purple, like a strobe light which was the signal that it was ready.
“Sailor Planet Attack!” they all yelled together in unison.
A huge flashing purple sphere of concentrated energy instantly formed at the tip of Sailor Moon’s moon sceptre. It surged forward at the speed of sound towards the fast approaching grey behemoth. It hit the creature square in the chest with a massive explosion of intense bright lights and powerful gusts of wind as the energy of the attack was released at the impact spot.
As the strong and bright energy flash slowly began to dim; the sailors eagerly waited on baited breath to see the results of their last desperate offensive. They all felt that it had worked and they simply wouldn’t allow themselves to think any differently. This was the very same attack that had vaporized Queen Beryl and Queen Metalia when they had combined to form the ultimate embodiment of evil known as Super Beryl; so they were confident that it would have a similar end result.
Finally the atmospheric haze lifted and they were able to see the spot where they had last seen the demon. As their eyes took in the area; they each felt their individual spirits suddenly drop and they felt the cold feelings of helpless and numb take root inside them. Their strongest attack had done nothing more except halt the creature’s forward charge and push it back only three feet as there were deep grooves in the concrete where the creature had dug into it with its foot talons to stop its backwards skid. Its arms were crossed over across its head and it had one of its legs extended backwards in a clear defensive posture. When the residual energy from the attack completely finished dissipating; it dropped its arms from its face and smirked at them as it lifted its head. The meaning behind the facial expression was as clear as crystal.
It took in a deep breath as it looked directly at the sailors. A second later; it spewed a series of medium-sized hellfire spheres straight at them. In response; the sailors scattered in all directions but were unable to react quickly enough to completely dodge the resulting explosions as the heated orbs impacted on the ground where they had just been standing. Burning particles of super-heated asphalt and other forms of debris made contact with their bodies and the resulting blast of scalding hot air licked at their exposed bare skins. They each shrieked out in pain as they felt their skins begin to blister and burn from the demon’s devastating attack.
The sounds of their cries of despair and pain were like music to the monster’s ears. It hesitated for a minute; choosing to stop and listen to the sailors’ screams of anguish. The strong smells of blood and burned human flesh were now thick in the air and the leftover flames from the demon’s hellfire attack added an eerie flickering light element in the darkened battlefield that further made the scene even more terrifying and depressing to the injured warriors.
The demon tensed its body and flexed its muscles as it became more rigid. Sailor Mars immediately saw it do this and her blood immediately ran cold. With her psychic abilities; she was naturally more in tune with her surroundings and their inhabitants. Right now; her senses were screaming at her that the demon was about to launch another fire-based attack. Looking around at her friends; she could tell that in their present conditions and even with their enhanced physical abilities; their individual bodies had been taxed further than any other enemy had ever pushed them. There was simply no chance that they all would be able to get far enough of each blast zone when it spit its fireballs at them to avoid a fatal injury.
“EVERYONE! It’s attacking again!”
The other sailors glanced first in Sailor Mars direction then to where the demon was standing. She was indeed correct in her warning. The monster was puffing its chest out as it took in another deep breath just like he had done before unleashing its first fire barrage. They all went into panic mode as they tried to force their bodies to move but the extreme stresses put on them from the battle thus far were just too much for them. Sailor Mercury with her extensive medical knowledge; quickly realized that she and probably the other sailors were beginning to go into the beginning stages of shock. This meant that their bodies were close to completely shutting down due to their severe injuries and physical stress. They all exchanged quick looks with each other; hoping that any strength they had left in their body could be passed onto one of their friends and spare them the finality of death. They all chose to keep looking at each other as they wanted the last thing they saw to be of the people they loved most.
The demon thrust its head forward and five large orbs of burning plasma sprung forward from inside it. They travelled through the air at a lightning fast pace and would hit each Sailor directly and kill them instantly.
As they each prepared themselves for their impending death; hoping that it would be quick and painless, they each suddenly felt a sharp physical jerk followed by the feeling of being lifted into the air. Their first thought was that they have been thrown back by the force of the fireball’s impacts but that was quickly proven wrong when they landed firmly on their feet abet somewhat roughly on a rooftop. As their minds began to comprehend that they had not just died; their bodies informed them of a strange pressure they all felt around their abdomens.
They all looked down to see thick strands of red material wrapped tightly around their waists. The red ropes quickly unwrapped from around them and returned to their owner who was standing a few feet away from them. Even in their current distressed states; they all immediately knew who had just saved them. In all honestly; the sailors couldn’t take any more sudden surprises but as they followed the retracting strands of symbiotic skin, they found themselves looking once again at their former team mate and close friend; Carnage.
“Carnage… what are yo…?” Sailor Mars started to say.
“Go! I will buy you some time!” Carnage shouted, cutting her sentence off.
“Not without you!” Sailor Jupiter screamed.
“Go now or die!” Carnage ordered them before immediately jumping off the building to the ground below.
The demon roared in anger as it realized that its attack had failed to kill the sailors. Sailor Jupiter rushed forward towards the edge of the rooftop to jump down as well and re-join the fight as a sudden surge of adrenaline coasted through her body, temporarily blocking the incredible pain she was feeling. However; the other sailors immediately stopped her and held on to her body and arms. They managed to pull and hold her back as they used whatever energy they had left as Sailor Jupiter’s physical strength was currently far too weak to break their combined efforts.
“Jupiter! Don’t let his sacrifice go to waste! Let’s go… we need to re-group!” Sailor Mercury screamed at her in a loud and stern voice.
Sailor Jupiter’s body eventually softened as her quick burst of adrenaline began to disappear. Her face had a look of utter defeat as tears fell down her face. The other sailors tightened their grips on her arms and dragged her away. As the sounds of the battle down below became more and more distant, each of them couldn’t shake the feeling that they may have just lost a brother.
End of Chapter 8…
Chapter Nine: Recovery and Re-group
“We shouldn’t have left him!” Makoto yelled out in extreme frustration.
Her friends around her looked up and some of them physically jerked from the unexpected outburst. The sailors had retreated to Rei’s temple following their escape from the monstrous demon and were currently still in the process of tending to their numerous injuries even after several hours had passed. Ami; using her acquired medical knowledge that she had gained from her doctor mother and her many years of studying was the one who administered any necessary medication and cleaned and bandaged any wounds inflicted on their bodies. Each of them was gifted with an enhanced healing ability which allowed them to recover from injuries in mere hours or days that would normally take weeks or months for a normal human.
Nonetheless; the atmosphere in the room was very tense as the reality of their current situation sunk in with each of them. They had never been beaten as badly as they had by any enemy they had ever faced previously. It was a serious blow to their overall confidence in their fighting abilities.
In addition to all that was the unknown fate of their team mate, Carnage, who had saved them before re-engaging the demon which bought them enough time to safely escape. It had been almost physically impossible for the sailors to pull Sailor Jupiter away from the battle scene once she had seen Carnage again. Right before their last second rescue; she had been almost at the point of passing out from the intense pain she had been. One of her eyes was nearly swollen shut and she had fresh blood running down both her arms, legs and across her back.
However; the sight of seeing Sean again seemed to re-energize her and she wanted to fight by his side as a testament to her nature as a true warrior. The other sailors knew that if she did that; it would surely lead to her death. The surge of sudden energy she had been feeling at the time would not last and at that point; she would completely be at the mercy of the monster. The sailors tried to be sympathetic to her and understand the reasons behind her determination and frustration at them for preventing her from re-engaging the unholy beast but they knew that it would still be suicide and totally irresponsible of them if they had let her go.
Since they arrived at the temple about two hours ago; Makoto had been unable to sit down. She had instead been pacing back and forth across the room; her anxiety level noticeably building with each passing minute. Her sudden verbal outburst jolted the other sailors from where they were currently resting as each of them had been lost in their own individual thoughts of despair and sadness.
“He made a choice! A choice that kept us all alive!” Minako said from the bed where she was lying on her right side. Ami was behind her; applying a topical ointment to the deep horizontal wounds on her back.
“And that makes it ok? We barely held out against that thing AS A TEAM!” She emphasized the last three words before pausing; letting her words sink in with the rest of them.
“Of course it doesn’t… but we can’t rush back into battle with that creature without a plan and certainly not while we are emotionally distracted!” Ami countered as she continuing cleaning Minako’s wounds; stopping briefly to look up at Makoto directly.
Her friend’s response only seemed to further frustrate Makoto. She had been hoping for some sort of support from her friends. The harsh reality that they weren’t going to give her any greatly hurt her emotionally. She looked around at her dear friends; seeing again the varying degrees of pain they were all in. The thought that Sean could be in a similar condition somewhere terrified her to no end. She simply couldn’t and wouldn’t just sit here and wonder if Sean was alright or lying wounded in the street; bleeding and all alone.
“I am going back out to help him!” She firmly announced to everyone as she marched towards the door.
Rei jumped up from her chair and stood directly in front of her; arms crossed tightly over her chest. She stared at Makoto with an intensely serious look on her face.
“No you are not!”
She immediately continued to speak; not giving Makoto a chance to voice any sort of verbal protest.
“You can barely stand up straight. Your electric attacks have absolutely no effect on our enemy and your mind is not focused. You are running on pure emotion right now! If you go out there now, you will die and it will all be for nothing!”
“No! Not for nothing! If I die; it will be in defence of our friend!”
Makoto stepped forward with the intention of muscling her way past Rei and out the door. As she approached; Rei stepped right up to her. She narrowed her eyes into tiny slits that only increased the intensity of her stare down with Makoto. The tense showdown between the two was currently being observed only by Ami as Minako was still lying on her side and Usagi was sitting quietly in a chair in the corner of the room. She was in a state of mental disconnection and was unaware of the events around her.
After several tense seconds; Makoto finally seemed to realize that she wasn’t going to leave without having to physically move Rei. That particular course of action would end in one of two ways; it would escalate the altercation to a more negative position or it could result in further injury to either one of them.
Makoto sighed loudly in defeat and abruptly spun around; surrendering to her friend’s objection and challenge. She stormed over to the other side of the room and collapsed into an empty chair; crossing her arms over her chest and scowling at the turn of events. Rei kept her eyes firmly on her; not breaking her gaze until she saw Makoto sit down in the chair. It was only then that she allowed herself to relax in a chair close to the door as a preventative measure in case Makoto decided to make another attempt to leave.
The sliding door to the outside began to open slowly. The girls; with the exception of Minako and Usagi all looked towards the door as they all each hoped that it was Carnage returning safely. Their faces quickly became looks of disappointment when they saw that the newest arrivals were only their guardian cats; Luna and Artemis. Each of them slowly resumed what they had just been doing prior to their entrance. Ami returned to cleaning and bandaging Minako’s injuries, Rei continued to guard the door and keep her eyes squarely on Makoto while Usagi sat silently in her chair with her head down and pushed against the tops of her knees. In the dead silence of the room; it was clear that she was sobbing as the encounter with the demon was still obviously affecting her deeply.
When Luna and Artemis had arrived at the shrine and found their charges in Rei`s bedroom; their first reaction was one of deep relief. Luna had been travelling with Carnage when the strange weather had suddenly appeared. When the supernatural beam of light shot down from the sky; he had put her down and told her to find Rei and/or Ami and get them to that location as fast as possible. She had nodded her head before continuing on to the shrine to find Rei. When she did not find her there; she raced as fast has her paws could move over to Ami’s cram school. She again did not find her intended target. By that point; her keen psychic senses had gone into extreme overdrive as she became bombarded with negative energy that seemed to be coming from the direction that the light shaft had touched down. It was at that point that Luna decided to go and check out that area; running into Artemis as she sprinted to the location. By the time they had arrived at the location; the action was over and the local authorities were on the scene, putting out the remaining fires and assessing the extensive property damage. The state of the battle ground filled them both with great concern as they had never seen an area so badly damaged. Drawing on their past experiences; they had logically guessed that the sailors would return to the shrine after the battle. They had hurried over there; hoping that they had predicted right.
After that theory had been confirmed; Luna`s next reaction was one of great sadness and shock. She looked upon her charges and the motherly nature she had for these girls immediately took over. She saw the multiple bandages with blood seeping through and the dark coloured bruises that were slowly turning purple on each of their bodies. The sight of the girls` red eyes that were irritated from the constant crying or flying debris further tugged at Luna’s heart strings. The general feeling of intense despair was still weighing heavily inside the room.
To Artemis; the sight of the girls and atmosphere inside the bedroom, it seemed like what he would imagine the after effects of a war would be like. Except in this case; it was much worse because he knew each of these soldiers personally. His heart almost completely broke when he saw his dear friend; Minako, lying on her side with several thick red stained bandages running across her entire back. He slowly approached her and walked around her body so he could see her face. Ami had just finished attending to her but because of the depth of her wounds; she was still unable to lie on her back because the pressure from her body weight would increase the amount of pain she would be in. Ami watched him as he slowly circled her; his body language making him look more human than animal.
Artemis gazed at Minako`s face with a look of total helplessness deeply inscribed on it. Her bright blue eyes were barely open and he could tell that her body had been pushed to its physical limits. He chose not to speak to her; letting her conserve her remaining energy so that her healing ability could continue to repair her body.
“The wounds on her back were deep. She won’t be able to stand fully upright until they completely heal.” Ami quietly informed him.
Makoto quietly watched the exchange between the two before glancing over at Luna; who caught and returned her gaze. Almost immediately; Luna looked away but the facial expression that had accompanied the abrupt movement sparked a sudden realization with Makoto. She leapt out of her chair and walked up to Luna. Rei jumped up as well; thinking Makoto was using their guardians` entrance to make another attempt to leave. Makoto instead stopped and looked down at Luna; her eyes almost literally drilling holes into her.
“Did you know?” She demanded at Luna.
“Know what?” Rei inquired with some confusion.
“Did you know he had survived?” Makoto asked again; clarifying for everyone what exactly she had meant.
When the girls had received their memories back during their re-awakenings; they had also remembered everything about Carnage. Makoto had particularly been adamant to know the truth of Carnage’s fate. Luna had struggled with whether to tell them the truth or not. She knew that if they found out that Sean was alive; they would at the very least become
distracted which at that time could have been disastrous since they were currently dealing with the Doom Tree and its servants. After much thought; she had finally decided to respect Sean’s last wish to let them all live in peace without him and informed them that he had disappeared during the Dark Kingdom’s final attack on the city.
“Yes…” she said quietly; her voice full of regret.
“You lied to us? You let us think that those Dark Kingdom bastards killed him? You saw the pain we were all in and you just stood there and watched?” Makoto yelled; her anger boiling over.
Across the room; Ami couldn’t stand the intense argument that was rapidly building any longer. She spun her head around and addressed the room in a loud and forceful voice so that she could cut through Makoto’s verbal rant.
“Mako-chan enough! I am quite sure that Luna had a very good reason for not telling us the truth!”
Luna looked over at Ami. She wanted to silently thank her for her support but she could tell by the look that Ami was giving her; she wanted to know the real truth about what had happened just like Makoto. Luna sighed as she decided that it was time to come clean and reveal the truth to the girls. She took a deep breath as she prepared herself for what she knew was going to be a very painful conversation for all of them.
“He was with Artemis and me in the days following the fall of the Dark Kingdom. He sat with us for the first few mornings; watching all of you as you went to school or go about your daily activities. He also retained all of his memories as well; just like Artemis and I. But…” She said quietly before pausing as she became unsure if she should continue.
“But?” Makoto asked; impatience rampant in her voice.
“He decided to leave; not wanting his presence to interfere with your chance to live as ordinary women that you had all been given.”
Artemis had taken up a position beside her as she had been speaking to give her his support. She felt his presence and it eased some of the tension that was overwhelming her body.
“He did?” Usagi quietly asked from her chair. Luna looked towards her and slowly nodded her head.
Makoto threw her arms up in frustration before turning around and walking away. The other girls stood their ground; letting what had just been said sink in with them. There was a strong feeling of abandonment or even betrayal that was in each of their minds. For the past five months; they had thought that Carnage had been killed in defence of the city from the Dark Kingdom’s remaining forces. As a result; they had all come to naturally accept that his body had either been completely destroyed during the fatal attack or it had disappeared along with the other monsters’ bodies with the destruction of Queen Beryl and Metalia. Now that they knew that he had indeed survived and had chosen to leave them without even saying goodbye or attempting to rekindle the friendship they all had valued so much; they weren’t sure how to react. What made the situation even more hurtful was the realization that Luna and Artemis had known the truth all along and had purposely kept it from them. Makoto; who was still visibly infuriated was still stuck on that particular fact and she just couldn’t let it go. She spun back around to face Luna again.
“You knew this whole time and you didn’t tell us! You let us think he was dead all this time?”
“Makoto… please… you have to understand. You all were finally living regular lives. He saw that and was absolutely thrilled for all of you. He chose to leave because he felt his presence would only complicate the potential happiness you all had been a given a chance at. When it became necessary to re-awaken all of you; the thought of telling you all the truth did cross my mind several times. However; with our focus at the time being on finding out who our new enemy was and stopping them, that intention unfortunately got pushed aside. When the Doom Tree threat had passed; enough time had gone by that both Artemis and I felt it was not necessary to tell you the truth about him.”
“Do not … be angry … with them…” a weak voice said behind the group.
Everyone spun around; looking towards the bedroom door. As if they didn’t need any more intense moments; this newest one nearly floored all of them. Carnage stood before them but he was leaning heavily against the door frame for support. He was clearly in very bad shape. They had been so focused on what Luna had been saying that no one had heard the sliding door open behind them. Now that he had announced his arrival; the girls immediately took in the sight of their good friend and his current physical condition.
His symbiote was severely battle torn with large patches of it missing; exposing Sean’s civilian clothing and bare skin underneath. One of his large white eyes was completely ripped away; showing Sean’s human eye and small tuffs of his sandy brown hair which was matted down against his sweaty skin. Some of the exposed sections of human skin where severely charred and had large blisters; like they all had received from the demon’s fire attacks. His left arm was hanging limp; swaying back and forth with the shifting of his body’s position. This was a clear indication to Ami that the shoulder was probably dislocated. Before anyone could say anything; he collapsed forward and fell to the floor. He landed on his stomach with a loud thud.
“Sean!” Makoto cried out as she rushed to his side.
“Mako-chan … stop!” Ami yelled.
Makoto immediately stopped and looked over at Ami; who was already taking a position beside Carnage. She knelt down and opened up her bag of medical supplies. She picked up his right arm and gently twisted it slightly; being very careful in case there was a break in one of the bones in his forearm. This gave her better access to the inside of his wrist. Using one of the exposed patches of human skin located there; she checked his pulse while watching his rib cage to observe his breathing rhythm. After a minute; she gently put his arm back down and looked up at her friends. They were waiting anxiously for anything she could tell them.
“His pulse is very weak and his breathing is slow and shallow.”
“What does that mean? Will he be ok? Minako asked over her shoulder; still lying on the bed. She was facing away from them so she was reacting purely on what she was hearing. Everyone was afraid of what Ami’s response to her question would be.
“If it gets any weaker… his heart may stop.” Ami said; choosing to not sugar coat it.
The fear on the faces of the other girls became magnified. They had all dealt with death before. They all had technically died during the final battle with the Dark Kingdom and they had retained the memories of that event. Usagi, Rei and Ami had also been there when Nephrite had died in Naru’s arms after saving her from a monster’s attack. This had sadly made them something of an expert in that regard. It was something that if they had any say in it; they never wanted to experience ever again.
Over the course of the night; the girls all took turns sitting next to Carnage with Ami frequently checking his vital signs. They had moved Minako to an air-mattress on the floor to give him the bed. Makoto, Ami and Rei had very carefully lifted him to the bed as they did not want him to remain on the floor. Once he was properly situated; Ami treated his minor injuries such as the blisters and cuts that she had access too. She applied healing lotions and ointments to the sections of burnt skin to reduce the risk of bacterial infection. She also conducted a visual inspection of his body as she attended to him; taking note of the more serious injuries. She was very cautious to not move him as it might cause a physical shock to his system that could prove to fatal to him.
They all breathed a collective sigh of relief when Ami noticed that his pulse was progressively getting stronger and his breathing was returning to a more stable pace about five hours after his arrival at the shrine.
During that time; they had been monitoring the news reports as they tried to keep track of the monster’s movements. So far; they hadn’t heard any reports of any new attacks and it appeared that the monster had completely vanished after his altercation with Carnage. This offered them some small amount of relief as this had meant that no innocent people were currently in danger. They all were still choosing to remain quiet as they were not sure of what to say. This allowed them to privately deal with the night’s events in their own way.
In between her checks on Carnage’s vitals; Ami was doing computer research in an attempt to try to learn something about the monster that had almost killed them. Her body was screaming at her to rest but she was too determined to find out more about their new enemy. Her mental resolve simply refused to give into to her body’s physical demands. Rei; meanwhile had gone to the shrine’s fire chamber to consult the sacred flames in the hopes of finding some answers from the spirit world. Minako remained on the air mattress on the floor as her body was still too weak from the blood loss caused by her various injuries. She was showing noticeable signs of improvement so everyone was hopefully that she would be moving again soon. Makoto were kneeling beside Sean; keeping her constant vigil over him as Ami did her research. Usagi had fallen asleep while sitting down on the floor; her head and hands on the short table in the centre of the room. Her soft snoring helped to lighten the mood that had been thick in the room for most of the night. Luna and Artemis had left a few hours ago to patrol the city in the hopes that they could either find the demon (but not engage it) or at least keep taps on its movements.
“He…lp… me…” a weak voice; barely audible called out, breaking the silence inside the room.
Ami and Makoto stopped what they were doing and looked up. They both exchanged looks with each other as they silently asked the other if they had also heard something.
“Help … me … up …” the weak voice said again; this time louder than before.
Makoto and Ami turned their heads in unison towards the bed where they had placed Carnage after he had collapsed. Carnage was moving now as he was slowly lifting his shoulders off the mattress in an attempt to sit up. He was only able to successfully achieve a few inches before his body gave out and he fell back onto the bed. His left arm was still hanging limply at his side which made the movement even more difficult. As the blanket covering him shifted with his motions; it fell away to reveal more of his body. His symbiote had finished re-knitting itself as the torn sections were now completely repaired.
He continued to struggle to get into a sitting position but his body still seemed to be too weak to hold his body upright as he willed his muscles to lift him up. He almost managed to finish the movement before his energy ran out again and he started to fall backwards. Makoto put her hands flat on his back; halting his downward plunge. At the same time; Ami rushed over to provide additional support, placing her hands on the top of his right shoulder and hooking her fingers over the curvature to ensure a secured grip. She was had been very careful to not grab his left shoulder as it was still dislocated.
“Carnage you shouldn’t be moving… you need rest!” Ami said with a tone of deep concern in her voice.
“I will be ok. My symbiote helps to heal my body faster than normal.” Carnage said as his voice gave hints that he still was feeling the internal injuries Ami had suspected that he had suffered.
“We should get you checked out at a hospital. That shoulder is still broken.” Makoto pointed out. He didn’t respond to her suggestion. Instead; Carnage turned to look at Ami and gave her a serious facial expression. When she returned his gaze; he simply said two words to her.
Ami’s face lit up as she immediately recognized those two words before her face hardened as she came to terms of what exactly he was suggesting. Her facial expression showed that she was clearly not comfortable with the idea but given their current circumstances, she was still willing to do what he was asking. They didn’t have the time to go to a hospital and go through the necessary protocols to get the required aid he needed, at least not with an incredibly dangerous monster still out there. Ami also knew that Carnage wouldn’t stay there for the sufficient time needed to properly heal even if they did go. Not to mention that there was the risk that any blood test conducted or physical examination by a doctor could result in his alien partner being discovered and exposed to the general public.
As these thoughts passed through her brain; Carnage continued to look at her as he waited for her confirmation that she would fulfill his request. A sudden cough broke through their silent conversation; reminding them that there was other person present. They had both forgotten about Makoto who was looking at them with a confused look on her face; not understanding what was currently going on.
“Kockler’s Method? What is that?”
Ami and Carnage didn’t answer her question. They instead positioned themselves at the foot of the bed. Carnage sat at the end of the mattress with his feet planted firmly on the ground. Ami took a position on the floor to his left. He retracted the symbiote skin off his left arm; exposing his human body up to his neck but keeping his ‘mask’ on. Since the bed was low to the ground; Ami knelt down on her knees and made sure that her body was completely stable. She gently grasped his left arm; her right hand on the back of his arm and her left hand holding the top of his forearm. She then looked over at Makoto.
“Press down on his legs and keep them from moving.”
The confused look on Makoto remained as she was still unsure of what exactly was going on. She got into the proper position; kneeling on the ground on Carnage’s right side. She placed her hands flat on his upper thighs and pressed her body weight firmly down on them. She glanced up at Ami to seek her approval that she was correctly doing what she had asked. Ami nodded her head before taking a deep breath as she prepared herself for what she was about to do.
She gently twisted his left forearm so that his palm was now facing towards the ceiling. She then bent his elbow so that it formed a ninety degree angle. She pushed his elbow in tight against the side of his rib cage. He let a small wince escape his lips as she held his arm tight against his body. She paused for a second as she took the mental note that his unexpected flinch was probably an indication that he still had some damage to his ribs. That would explain his shallow breathing when he first arrived at the shrine hours ago. She moved her hands down; griping the elbow and the wrist now.
She looked at Carnage’s face; locking her blue eyes with his large white ones. In response; he retracted the symbiote skin over his face so it was his human face she was now looking at. Looking into his blue eyes; she silently asked him if he was ready. He nodded his head before turning to face forward. He closed his eyes and tensed his body muscles in preparation for what he knew was coming next. Ami looked over at Makoto and silently told her to be ready. It was then that it suddenly dawned on Makoto what Ami was about to do. She quickly double checked her body’s position to make sure she was completely stable. She also reapplied her grip on his legs to ensure that she had full control of them.
Ami took a deep breath in and slowly rotated his left forearm outwards; maintaining a tight hold on his wrist and elbow. As she moved the limb; Sean’s face tightly grimaced as shots of pain and discomfort surged out from his shoulder. When she reached the furthest point; she braced her hand positions one more time before pushing gently outward. A loud sickening ‘crack’ was heard as the top of his arm popped back into the shoulder joint. Sean’s eyes flapped open and he bit down hard on his teeth; his facial expression was one of intense pain.
Ami was being very careful to not let go of his arm as she had anticipated the tell-tale and horrible sounding noise. Makoto immediately closed her eyes and tried to not think about what she had just heard. She had felt Sean’s legs jerk when the sound had occurred and reacted instantly. She had managed to keep her mind on the task at hand; keeping her hands firmly on Sean’s legs to prevent him from twisting away.
Ami finished up the treatment by first lifting the elbow slightly and pushing the upper arm forwards which placed the arm firmly back into the shoulder joint. She then followed that up by slowly rotating the forearm inwards towards Sean’s chest. While still holding his arm against his torso; Ami looked over at Makoto.
“Go and find me some linen or a large piece of fabric.” She instructed to her friend.
Makoto jumped up and left the room. After some quick searching of the shrine; she found an old apron in the kitchen area. She hurried back to Rei’s bedroom and presented it to Ami; who nodded that it was satisfactory for her purpose. She quickly showed Makoto how to properly hold Sean’s arm so that it wouldn’t fall out of place as she folded the apron so it could be used as a makeshift sling. Once the sling was properly secured around Sean’s neck and holding his injured arm tight; Makoto relaxed her hold and let the arm rest snugly inside the sling.
They both breathed a sigh of relief as their task was now complete. Sean gave Ami a clumsy one-armed hug in appreciation for helping him. He turned to Makoto; whose face was completely blank and body language looked to be very tense and rigid. They both sat there looking at each other; unsure of how to act or what to say to each other. It was at this point that the sliding door quietly opened again; breaking the awkward atmosphere lingering inside the room. Rei walked in after returning from the fire chamber. She was wearing a disappointed look on her face.
“I can’t get anything from the spirit world!” She announced to the group.
“My computer searches haven’t turned up anything either.” Ami added as she wiped her hands with a towel as she stood up.
“So… we still don’t know anything about that monster?” Makoto said in frustration.
“Not necessarily!” Carnage said from his position on the bed.
The girls all looked towards him as they waited for the clarification of his statement. In response; the symbiote produced an object from its skin located from the area of his lower back. A thin tendril brought the object around to the front and placed it in Carnage’s right hand. He then held it out for the girls to see. They all looked at the object; not knowing what to make of it. It was a book bound in what looked like black leather.
End of Chapter 9…
Chapter Ten: Making Connections
The girls all stared at the book in Sean’s hand. It was thick and larger than the average-sized novel. It looked to be about the same size as one of their school textbooks. It was solid black and had no visible writing on either of its front or back covers or on its spine that they could see. The only clue to its title or contents was a strange gold symbol on the front cover; a mark that none of them had ever seen before in their short lives. The pages appeared to be stained a pale yellow which was an indication to them that it was a very old book.
Rei took a few steps forward; closing her eyes as she approached. She placed her right hand firmly on the book’s front cover; her palm covering the gold symbol. She intended to use her psychic abilities to learn more about the mysterious artefact and hopefully; something about their dangerous new enemy.
So far; the spirit world had not been very forthcoming with information up to this point. Perhaps she had just been using the wrong method in her search for answers. Maybe this book was the key to first understanding and then defeating their seemingly unstoppable adversary.
Almost immediately after her hand touched the book; her head jerked back and her eyelids folded into tight lines. Her body became repeatedly bombarded with wave after wave of powerful psychic energy. These incredible surges of psychic power caused all sorts of terrifying images to flash inside her brain; behind her tightly closed eyelids. These pictures ranged from various pictures of dozens of horrible and terrifying monsters to sickening scenes that depicted fields of human bodies and remains being displayed in horrific and disgusting ways that stretched far into the horizon.
Rei’s body began to twitch and spasm as it desperately tried to cope with the powerful onslaught of intense visuals and mighty spiritual forces. The other girls continued to look on as a look of concern became deeply embedded on each of their faces. They had never seen Rei react like this to anything before but they all knew instinctively that whatever she was sensing was very bad.
Rei pulled her hand back and grasped it with the other, acting like she had just touched a hot stove. Her face was turned down as her brain tried to comprehend what she had just seen and sensed. After a few tense seconds; she lifted her head and looked at her friends. Her facial expression was devoid of any clear emotion as she still couldn’t grasp the gravity that the collage of indescribable and ghastly images had left inside her. The other girls readied themselves for what her upcoming revelation would reveal to them.
“This book is full of powerful negative energy. It appears to have dozens of different demonic auras contained inside its pages. Despite the overwhelming onslaught of evil spirits; I was still able to sense and isolate the specific energy signature of the monster we fought earlier but I quickly lost it within the vast collection of evil wraiths inside the book with it.”
“What book?” Usagi sleepily asked behind them.
The group all turned around to see Usagi stretch her arms over her head as she yawned herself awake. She put her arms down and quickly blinked her blue eyes a few times. When she finished; she suddenly realized that everyone was now staring at her. She gave them a confused look in response.
“What? What did I miss?”
The girls all deeply sighed in disbelief at their leader’s cluelessness and turned back to look Sean; ignoring Usagi’s questions. There wasn’t time to explain it to her so she would just have to catch up on her own as the conversation progressed. In response to her friends’ reaction; Usagi groaned loudly as she picked herself off the floor and joined the others as they all continued to stand together.
“Where did you find this book?” Ami inquired.
“After the monster was done throwing me around; like a rag doll, it abruptly flew off. As I was picking myself up; I noticed a building that seemed to be more damaged then the other surrounding structures. I quickly looked around the rubble and found this book sticking out from underneath a large chunk of concrete mortar. At first glance; it didn’t look like something that one would not expect to find on an average person’s reading list. Therefore; it seemed plausible that it might be somehow connected to the sudden appearance of the demon. That assumption was pretty much confirmed when I saw what was around the book’s location.”
“What do you mean?” Makoto asked.
“The book was lying on top of some kind of emblem that was mostly buried by the debris. From the little of it that I could see; the image looked like some sort of pagan symbol. I also was able to see several pieces of two other pictures on sections of wall that had fallen down into the street. In my past years of experience; these are almost always the signs of black magic. I took the book in the hopes that it would give us a clue as to what exactly we are fighting or at the very least; what spell was used to conjure it.”
“So all we have to do is find out the connection between this book, James and that monster and we can stop all this?” Minako asked from her position on the floor. Her voice was noticeably stronger and she was now sitting upright on her air mattress.
“In theory … yes!” Sean answered.
“Well… we better get started then!” Ami matter-of-factly stated.
Sean handed the book over to Ami. She stared down at the cover and ran her hand over the leathery material that bound it. Ami was no stranger when it came to books. Reading was her favourite past time and she spent several hours a day engrossed in various different textbooks as part of her intense daily studying routine. She flipped the book open and started scanning some of yellowed well-aged pages. After a few seconds; she looked up at Sean with a look of surprise on her face.
“This book is written in English. It will take me quite a while to properly translate this.”
Sean nodded his head in response to let her know that he was aware of that fact. He didn’t seem too bothered by it which puzzled Ami at first. His next comment explained why he had shown no reaction of astonishment and why he was hopeful that they could still find the answer they were looking for in a timely manner.
“I noticed when I found it that the book is also written in Japanese. We can start with those chapters while your micro-computer translates the English passages.” Sean suggested.
Ami nodded her head in agreement. She turned around and headed towards Rei’s desk to begin the task of learning the many secrets of the ominous book. She took a few steps before quickly turning back as she realized that she still needed more information to assist her in their search for the correct information.
“What did those other drawings you said you saw look like?”
“One looked like a black Christian cross and the other appeared to be a black Jewish star. The one on the ground where the book was found was too buried by the damage to get a good view of it but like I said before; it appeared to be some sort of circular pagan symbol.” Sean answered.
Ami turned back again and sat down at the desk to begin her tedious job. Usagi and Rei followed her; hoping that they could help speed up the process in some way. Minako remained on the ground but her eyes were more open than they had been and the colour in her skin was quickly returning. She was not attempting to stand up as she wanted to give her body a little more time to heal before trying such a movement. Makoto hesitated for a second before starting to walk over to join her friends at the desk when Sean gently grasped her hand with his good arm.
“Can we talk outside?” He quietly asked her.
Makoto’s face became a look of complete surprise. She looked down at the hand holding onto her and then over to her friends who were gathered around the desk. They were focused on reading and their attempts to decipher the evil book’s contents and mysteries so they were unaware of the small gesture that was occurring between her and Sean. She looked back at him and fumbled her response to his question.
“Ummm… I guess so.”
They slowly walked to the sliding door of Rei’s bedroom. As they passed through it; Sean retracted the rest of his costume from his chest and legs so that he was fully Sean again. He had done so partly because he didn’t want to attract any unnecessary attention from Rei’s grandfather or Yuichiro; who was a young temple worker who lived at the shrine. The other reason was that he wanted to talk to her as completely Sean, the man that she had once been in love with.
They walked out to the open courtyard located directly outside Rei’s bedroom. The electric lights being used across the city and around the shrine because of the supernatural black clouds blocking the natural sun and moonlight, cast long shadows along the ground. The thick dark clouds overhead made the scene seem incredibly eerie.
Since the appearance of the demon and the black clouds that remained in the sky; it became virtually impossible to tell when day ended and night began. The people of Tokyo had to now rely on watches and clocks when a simple look outside of a window would usually have been enough.
Makoto and Sean stood in the centre of the courtyard. They faced each other with a small gap of open space between them. Neither of them spoke right away as they were both unsure of what to say. There was definitely a lot that they needed to discuss but they were each waiting for some clue from the other person on how the conversation should begin. The awkward silence between them continued for a couple of minutes before Makoto’s anxiousness reached its breaking point and she finally broke the silence.
“One of us should say something before the morning comes.” She said quietly.
Sean gently nodded his head as he resisted the urge to chuckle or smile at her ironic comment. He took in a deep breath to give him some much needed easement.
“I am sorry. I am sorry I didn’t say goodbye or let you know that I had survived the Dark Kingdom’s assault on the city.”
“How could you have just left us … or me for that matter? When I got my memories back, I remembered everything about you! Do you have any idea how hard it was for me to finally accept that you had died at the hands of those Dark Kingdom creeps?” Makoto exclaimed with clear hints of pain and frustration in her voice.
“I didn’t want to leave! Believe me when I say that it was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. When I saw you and our friends living your lives free of the burden of this planet’s constant protection; I made the decision to leave Japan so that my presence would not complicate that happiness that you all so deeply deserved.”
“You don’t know that! You still could have stayed. We all still could have been friends. You and I could have started our relationship over again. We could have really used your help against the Doom Tree.”
“I wanted to stay! Please believe me when I say that. But I was and still am a guardian of this world. How could I possibly explain to you or the girls why I am frequently running off to battle monsters or terrorists without you or them thinking that I am lying?”
“You still could have tried!” was all Makoto could counter with.
She didn’t want to admit it to herself that somewhere deep down inside her; she knew that Sean’s decision had probably been the correct one. If she hadn’t been re-awaken as a sailor soldier; she honestly couldn’t say for certain if any relationship between them would have truly lasted. It was now that she fully understood that by him leaving Japan and her; he had attempted to preserve the good memories of their relationship rather than see it break and crumble because of the lies and feelings of mistrust that would probably have occurred if he had stayed.
“Yes… I could have and in hindsight; I probably would have! I was both excited and terrified when I was told that I would be coming back here. Excited that I might get to see you again; if only in passing and terrified that I might undo everything that I hoped my leaving had allowed you to do.”
Sean paused; letting his last comment settle with them both. The pitch of his voice had been noticeably increasing as he had been speaking just now. He wanted to let the emotional tension that had been rapidly building since the start of their conversation to decrease somewhat before they continued it. This was a very important commerce between them that could have long reaching effects and he didn’t want them to lose focus because of an unconstructive emotional outburst from either of them.
“I prayed that you would never be a sailor soldier again! I had hoped with everything inside me that you would be able to find someone that could love you as much as I did and still do. I wanted you to have a truly happy and normal life!”
Makoto was silent for a minute. Her face was wearing a blank expression but her eyes were alive with emotion. Her tear ducts were quickly welling up as her mind replayed the last thing she had actually heard before her ears had turned off.
“You still love me?” Makoto asked hesitantly.
Sean looked at her and took a few steps closer to her. He took both of her hands into his one good one and locked his blue eyes with her green ones. Her face still had signs of the deep bruising and swelling from their earlier thrashing at the hands of the demon. The scratches she had received were almost completely healed. He smiled at her; the same smile she had deeply missed seeing and the one she had honestly thought she would never see again.
“With ever beat of my heart. You are the one thing I constantly thought about the entire time I was away. I have and will always love you Makoto Kino!”
Her heart nearly jumped out of her chest when he said that. Her green eyes became glassy and a beautiful radiant smile formed across her soft lips. She grasped his hand with hers and allowed herself to fall against him. His body was still shaky from his remaining injuries but he was still noticeably stronger than when he had first arrived at the shrine hours earlier. With their eyes still completely locked, he asked her a single and simple question.
“So… where do we go from here?”
Makoto smiled back at him. She pulled back from him but still held onto his good hand. Her body language shifted to a more playful demeanour as she did so. Her body’s muscles became noticeably looser and much more relaxed. Her bright expressive eyes changed from surprise and mystified to silly and happy. Sean almost laughed when he saw her do this. This was only of the many things he had missed about her and the girls. He loved their care-free and jubilant personalities and it was a truly enchanting thing for him to behold each time he experienced them.
“Well… I do owe you a full blown romance!” Makoto said coyly as she took them both back to the last words they had shared together before the final battle with the Dark Kingdom.
“Yes… you do!” Sean remarked back with a playful and mildly cocky tone in his voice.
With those three words; Sean put his good arm around Makoto and pulled her closer to him. He leaned in and Makoto lifted her lips to meet his; tilting her head back. Right there in the courtyard of the shrine; they shared their first kiss in over five months. The surge of romantic electricity raced through both of their bodies and spent tingles down their spines to the tips of their toes. She felt her heart begin to beat rapidly and her knees suddenly felt rubbery; making her lean more against him. Makoto almost melted as she felt her body press up against his. The sensations she was currently feeling made the past memories she had of being with him seem beyond weak in comparison.
She couldn`t believe that she had been mildly interested in Alan Granger when she thought he was a new transfer student at her school. She had followed him around; sat with him as she shared her lunch with him and even stared longingly at him with a look in her eyes that she now felt belonged to Sean alone.
As it later turned out; Alan had actually been one of the Doom Tree’s guardians which effectively killed whatever residual attraction she had for him. She felt somewhat ashamed of herself that she had casually attempted to move on when she clearly hadn’t been fully over Sean to begin with. She tried to defend her actions by reminding herself that at the time; she had thought that Sean was dead and was in the process of attempting to make peace with that tragic fact.
Still; she felt immensely guilty that he had remained in love with her the entire time they had been apart while she had allowed her heart to wander slightly. Perhaps she should be honest and tell him about Alan and the Moonlight Knight once this crisis is over.
Sean broke the kiss and gazed down at Makoto; who in turn, returned his loving stare. They held each other in silence for a short time before they heard snickering coming from the direction of Rei`s room. They both turned their heads in unison and instantly blushed with embarrassment. Usagi; Minako and Rei were all watching them from the doorway. Each of them had silly grins on their faces as they watched the two love birds re-kindle their feelings for each other.
“Awww… that is so romantic! It reminds me of Mamoru and me!” Usagi chirped.
“I so want my first boyfriend to be like that!” Rei sighed.
“I want to be in love again!” Minako added with a sigh of her own.
Sean and Makoto turned and walked hand-in-hand towards them. The three girls jumped up and slide the door fully open for them. As they walked in; Sean stopped and turned to regard Minako.
“I am glad that you have recovered enough to stand and move again. I was worried about you as I am sure everyone else was.” He said to her. There was a warm tone in his voice that was suitable for a close friend showing concern for another.
“I am too! I am also very glad that you are alive and back with us. We all missed you a lot!” Minako replied with an equal amount of sincerity.
Sean smiled as he dropped his head slightly and gave her a small nod. He let go of Makoto’s hands and gently hugged Minako. He was careful not to squeeze too hard against her back; keeping in mind the wounds she had received in their first encounter with the demon. He let her go and turned to face the other girls; giving each of them a hug one at a time before finishing up with Ami.
She was still at the desk; working hard on learning the secrets of the book. She had been somewhat surprised when she felt his arm around her as she had been completely focused on learning the secrets of the mysterious book. However; she smiled sweetly and returned his hug when she understood what was going on. That small series of gestures made the team whole again as all the ill feelings between them were erased in a show of true friendship and love between each of them.
Over the next few hours; they all took turns working on the book. This allowed the rest of them to get some much needed sleep but at the same time; not lose any time towards learning about their enemy. Ami had set her computer up so that it would scan the pages with English text and translate them in Japanese. The translation process could take anywhere from five to thirty minutes or more; depending on the amount of and complexity of the words on each page.
In the meantime; they would read the Japanese sections. They were looking for any rituals or passages that contained any or all of the strange drawings Sean had seen at the battle site or any physical description of the demon. The book contained no specific demon sketches other than the general medieval age drawings of monsters and knights. That had to mean that the drawings had been made from word instructions. This made the process of finding the correct passage all the more time consuming. They had all agreed that to avoid missing the crucial chapter or page by being hasty; they had to start at the beginning and go through every single page one by one. The book was thick but not like a phone book. Despite that small silver lining; it was still easily over five hundred pages. It would take some time but they felt that they had no other option.
As they had worked on the book; Artemis and Luna had returned briefly to check on them before leaving again to resume their patrol of the city in an effort to keep watch; in the event that the demon re-appeared while the team was resting and researching.
Sean couldn’t sleep as his body refused to let him relax enough to let him drift off. He slowly got up from his position beside Makoto. She was lying beside him with her head on his good shoulder and her elbow and hand stretched across his chest. Her breathing was slow and her eyes were softly closed. From his vantage point; she looked like a beautiful angel and he had been content to just watch her as she continued to slumber despite his shifts in body position.
Rei lightly tapped him on his leg; breaking his lovingly gaze. She was letting him know that it was his turn to work on the book. He carefully lifted Makoto’s arm and slowly lowered her sleeping head onto the pillows that were underneath them as he tried desperately not to wake her up in the process. When he was satisfied that she was resting comfortably; he quietly stood up and slowly navigated through the mess of sleeping female bodies that were spread out across the floor. He tip-toed towards the desk and adjusted the lamp’s light so that he could properly see the book.
After about twenty minutes of straight reading; he looked up from the book and stretched his stiff neck. He rubbed his eyes with his index finger; removing some of the ‘sleep dust’ from his vision and easing some of the strain that his eyes were feeling. He waited until his vision was clear again before he pinched the corner of the next page to turn it. He was very careful to not cut his finger on any of the pages as he turned them.
His rationale was that if this book truly was the source of that monster’s creation then it had to contain incredible amounts of powerful black magic. In his experience; this type of energy usually reacts stronger when in the presence of human blood that comes in contact with it. Since Sean’s alien other was bound to him by his bloodstream and thus making their attachment permanent; his blood’s physical properties would be different than a normal person. This genetic bonding between the two of them would show up as an abnormality in most modern medical blood tests but the true meaning for it wouldn’t be fully understood by the scientists or technicians conducting them. Even though the fluid in his veins could be classified as a human-monster hybrid; it could still contain enough of the characteristics of normal blood to react with the black magic. He was worried that if any blood of any sort was spilled onto the pages of the book; the chances of the evil magic contained in it unleashing something very bad as a result were just too great to ignore.
He shook his head; removing the disturbing thought tangent from his mind and turned around to look at his sleeping friends scattered around the room. They all looked so beautiful; their kind and gentle souls radiating out as they slept. Their mere presences brought a sense of inner peace to him and to anyone else that was around them. It was something that he had seen many times in the past. Their young faces seem to reflect the purity and innocence that appeared to be tragically diminishing in many areas across the world.
He quietly snickered to himself as he thought about his earlier comparison of Makoto being like an angel. In reality; he actually thought of all of his friends as being angels with Mako-chan being the brightest. However; that was probably due to his personal bias. In truth; he felt he was right in that belief. These girls were angels in almost every sense of the word. They each fought with everything inside them to protect this world for love and justice; something the biblical angels were said to have done and would continue to fight for up until the prophesied ‘end of days.’ As he continued to look at them; he silently hoped that he never would have to see any one of these gentle souls personally fall in battle in front of him.
He turned back around to look at the book. He turned the page carefully and resumed reading the text. The team had come up with a system so that pages weren’t missed or read twice by people on their shifts. Once a page was fully read; it was marked with a little pencil mark in the top outside corner of the page. The page he was currently reading was located in approximately the middle of the book. This particular page was in English but the title of the passage was written in what he recognized as Latin. Sean; being from Canada, was very fluent in English so he felt that he could make up for some of the time spent by the girls when they had been busy using the computer to translate the English text during their turns. However; he had never studied Latin as a child and his symbiote was not versed in it either since it was not of the languages currently being widely used on Earth.
Sean reached over to Ami’s micro-computer and pulled up an internet window. He quickly did a search and found a reputable Latin translation website. He couldn’t afford to make any mistakes in their understanding of the text so he had to make sure that this program was top-notch. For all he knew; this could be the very page they had been looking for all this time. He carefully typed in the Latin words and clicked for an English translation. The response from the computer read…
‘To summon cry upon you’
Sean didn’t like that answer one bit. It confirmed what he had already suspected that this book did contain summoning and/or conjuring spells. If the person who lived in the building where he had found the book did indeed recklessly summon a powerful demon; it almost certainly would have turned against them. Demons were not known for being fond of becoming servants or owing any favours to humans. However; the line’s translation also hinted that this particular conjuring spell would cause the spell caster to become the vessel or host for the specific demon in question. It was similar to the partnership between Sean and his alien symbiote except that demons tend to take full control of the human’s mind and body while Sean shared equal domain with his companion.
As he kept reading; his eyes began to grow wider and his excitement started to rapidly build inside him. In the spell’s preparation section; it detailed a design that had to be drawn on the ground. From the elaborate and extensive description given; it sounded almost identical to what he had partially seen at the site of their first battle. His excitement continued to grow as he read about the other two pictures required for the ceremony; a cross and a Star of David.
He almost alerted the girls but stopped himself. There was still half a book to read. He was fairly confident that this was indeed the correct spell used but he wanted more concrete proof before he disturbed his friends’ much needed rest. The translation had used the word “cry” in it. Was that the demon’s name or a clue to its identity?
He turned back to Ami’s computer and opened another internet search window. He entered the website address of an online historical demonology archive that he and some of the other earth guardians had used in the past. It was created by an organization of scholars and mystics for the sole purpose of consolidating all of the information in existence about demons; monsters; magic and any other supernatural element that the planet defenders might face in their ultimate mission of protecting the Earth and its inhabitants.
To prevent the gathered intelligence from falling into the evil or careless hands of internet hackers; the database’s creators had employed the strongest magicians in the world to safeguard the archives with their strongest forms of magic and spells. Only a small band of warriors outside the organization had been allowed access to it and Sean happened to be one of those lucky exclusive members.
He glanced back at the book’s open page; looking for a specific line or something he could enter into the webpage’s search engine. He remembered that when he had been reading the lines of the ritual; he had mentally noted that one line had actually named the specific demon being summoned. He quickly looked for that line again in the incantation as his mind filled with the hope that they may have finally found the one clue they needed to defeat their enemy. His head jerked up as he found the specific line and quickly typed it into the search browser and clicked the ‘start’ button. The demon’s name had been different than what the title of the passage had alluded too. It was probably an error on the translation program’s part but even still; that kind of mistake could have proven to be costly one later on.
A few seconds later; a single entry popped up. Its title was written in big bold letters with a short descriptive paragraph underneath it with a light blue link to another website page at the end of it. He clicked on the link and a second later; a blue and black webpage flashed onto the screen. The first thing Sean noticed was the demon’s name in big crimson-red letters.
Sean quickly but carefully read the webpage’s contents. His concern and uneasiness began to build inside him as he read the information about the particular demon begin displayed on the computer screen. About halfway down the page were two pictures that were presumably inserted by the author to break up the multiple paragraphs of text.
Both of the pictures sent a cold shiver down the entire length of his spine. One picture showed the demon’s round crest or seal that had numerous similarities to the symbol he had seen on the ground at the battle site. The other one was a pastel sketch of the demon. The artist’s depiction of the creature looked almost identical to the monster they had fought hours earlier.
Sean was now completely convinced that the creature on the screen was in fact; the same demon that had been recently unleashed upon the world. He resumed reading the remaining text, hoping that it would reveal some sort of weakness or if and how it had ever been defeated in the past.
When he was finally finished; the tension in his body made his muscles as hard as diamonds. He quickly went around and woke up the girls; informing them that he had found important information on their new adversary as he did so. He waited patiently as the girls shook themselves awake and slowly gathered around him at the desk. When they were all present and mentally alert; he began to slowly and clearly tell them everything he had just discovered.
“Our enemy’s name is Gaap. His demonic crest or symbol matches the partial drawing I saw on the ground where the shaft of light touched down.”
He directed their attention to the open book on the desk. He indicated with his finger; the two sections where it mentioned the other two drawings he had seen. The text was in English; so the girls looked at Sean and waited for him to translate the words for them.
“This page is a summoning spell. This is how a person can conjure the spirit of Gaap inside them and be its host on this plane of existence. The two drawings I saw at the scene are the same ones that are mentioned here and this spell identifies ‘Gaap’ specifically.”
He looked around at the girls; their faces showing various expressions of confusion and fear. He assumed that they were each trying to comprehend why anyone would want to have a demon spirit inside them. He let them ponder that question; if it was indeed the one they were thinking about for a couple of seconds. He then cleared his throat; breaking through his friends’ mental tangents and the growing level of anxiety that this disturbing information was creating. The girls all turned to look back at him. When he once again had their full attention; he began to speak again.
“Demons cannot enter our world unless invited; either directly or accidentally. They can still affect our world with their power but it is to a much limited degree. They need humans to grant them full entry so that they can fully exert their influence and power upon this planet. To that end; demons will try to tempt people with promises of wealth, fame or power in the forms of magical spells or elaborate ceremonies. In almost every situation; the ritual is actually a summoning spell disguised as something else but the unsuspecting person doesn’t realize that until it’s too late.”
“My god…” Usagi whispered as she vocalized what the others were all thinking.
“Thankfully… these attempts are almost never successful due to a variety of reasons such as the spell caster not saying a key word correctly or not using the proper materials. In my personal experience; I have only heard of a handful of successful conjuring events over the years. Luckily; our fellow earth defenders were able to stop the fiends before they could do much damage. However…”
“However…?” Rei asked impatiently.
“I have never heard of a human vessel surviving once the demon is summoned and eventually defeated.”
“You mean… James will die?” Makoto said quietly.
Sean didn’t say anything but his body language was speaking volumes. Several long seconds passed between them as they all contemplated the gravity of the information given thus far. Sean hadn’t met James but he could tell that he meant something to Makoto and the others. He knew that he had to have expected something like this. He had led Makoto and the others to believe that he had been dead for several months. It was only natural that Makoto would have moved on in some fashion as a result. Even though they had just re-kindled their love for each other; there was still a piece of her that was deeply concerned for James and whatever feelings she had towards him. To exactly what capacity that concern represented; he would just have to wait and find out.
He shook his head and re-focused his attention. There was still more information he needed to share with them. He cleared his throat again and directed their attention to Ami’s mini computer. He used the computer’s built in mouse to pull up the secret organization’s website page about the demon. Since the page’s text was also written in English; he translated it for them.
“Gaap is a Prince of Hell. He controls the element of water and is the ruler of the water elementals or ‘water demons’.”
“That would explain why Rei’s fire and my ice had little effect on him. Since he is from hell which is the land of fire; he would be immune to it and his dominance over water and all its forms would render my powers completely useless.” Ami concluded.
“It would also explain how it neglects Mako-chan’s power since water and electricity conduct or mix together; not against each other.” Rei added.
Sean nodded in agreement as their theories seemed plausible. He didn’t yet have a reason why Minako’s power was ineffective or why the moon sceptre and the sailor planet attack hadn’t worked either. Understanding those particular issues might provide them with important pieces of the overall puzzle that they needed to defeat this powerful monster. He turned back to look at the computer to resume reading the information to the girls.
“He can cause love or hate and intensify the passions of love and hatred between humans. He can give true answers concerning the past; present and the future.”
Sean paused before reading the last part. He looked back at his friends to show them that the last part was the most serious of everything that he had found out about their enemy.
“He commands sixty-six legions of lower demons that he will use to protect and expand his kingdom over the south and west regions of hell and earth.”
The girls looked at each other as fear and intense worry etched across each of their faces. They had never fought a legion of anything before; just one or two monsters at a time. Usagi looked at Sean and asked the question that he and Ami already knew the answer too.
“How many are in a legion?”
Sean took a deep breath in and slowly opened his mouth. The girls all looked anxiously at him as they prepared themselves for the answer they all knew was not going to be good.
“Six thousand soldiers per legion!” He quietly replied.
Each of the girls’ eyes grew to the size of dinner plates. They all did the math in their heads; including Usagi which showed just how serious they were all taking this crisis. This monster; Gaap, was going to unleash his army of sixty-six legions of demons upon the earth. However; that wasn’t the most terrifying part for them. When the final number of how many demons exactly he was going to bring forth was revealed; it came out to be approximately 396,000 un-holy soldiers. The girls all swallowed with fear and trembled where they stood as that terrifying reality shook each of them to their cores.
End of Chapter 10…
Chapter Eleven: The Second Battle
“How are we going to possibly defeat over three hundred thousand demon soldiers?” Usagi wailed.
“We will just have to defeat Gaap before he can raise them!” Ami replied with her voice trying and failing to sound confident.
“That’s easier said than done! He almost killed us once and we can’t even hurt him.” Makoto stated flatly.
“Ok sailors… let’s all stay focused!” Sean cut in; quieting the girls. They all turned to look at him. When he had their full attention; he continued to speak.
“Nothing is unbeatable and that goes for this monster as well! It has to have a weakness somewhere. We just need to discover it!”
“We know fire; water and electricity won’t work and we have seen that my powers are ineffective as well as the moon sceptre’s. We even tried the Sailor Planet attack with little to no result. What do we have left?” Minako asked the group.
As they all sat around and quietly thought about how they could destroy this abomination; a loud scratching sound came from the door to the outside. Usagi jumped from her seat and screamed.
“It found us!”
Rei didn’t respond but instead slid the door open; letting Luna and Artemis run inside. Their faces were grim and it clear that they had sprinted to the shrine as they were both breathing very hard. The girls and Sean all looked at them; their body language indicating that they were all eager to know what had caused such a panicked demeanour in their mentors.
“It’s the demon! It’s back and is destroying the area around the Crown Arcade Game Center!”
“It’s destroying the arcade! Ohh… that demon is so getting moon dusted!” Usagi announced with fierce determination as her earlier fearfulness now completely vanished.
“Enough talk! Transform and let’s get moving!” Artemis commanded.
It was clear to everyone that none of them were looking forward to facing that monster again. However; their personal sense of duty was over-powering their fear and they steadied themselves. They pulled out their transformation wands and quickly changed into their uniforms.
“Mars Power Make-Up!”
“Mercury Power Make-Up!”
“Jupiter Power Make-Up!”
“Venus Power Make-Up!”
“Moon Crystal Power Make-Up!”
Sean used a mental command and the red symbiote wrapped all around him. In seconds; the crimson-coloured skin completely covered him from head to toe. The appearance of the large white unblinking eyes and large mouth of black teeth finished off the physical change. Minutes later; they were all racing along the rooftops as they headed towards the tall pillars of smoke and flickering orange light of the fires. These were the markers that indicated the location of their enemy; the demon lord, Gaap!
When they finally arrived at the scene; the sight that awaited them put all of them into a state of complete disbelief. It was worse than Luna and Artemis had alluded to when they had informed them of the demon’s re-appearance.
There were raging fires everywhere they looked. Huge sections of concrete from the buildings that lined the street were visibly missing with the corresponding rubble scattered about all over the area around them. The most disturbing sight by far was the presence of dozens of bodies of innocent bystanders that were spread throughout the area. From what the sailors could see; some of the poor souls had been clearly ripped apart as they were missing limbs or been sliced completely in half. The other corpses looked like they had been caught in the path of Gaap’s destruction and were killed as a result of the falling debris or flying shrapnel. From their current location up on the rooftop; they could see several small streams of red liquid seeping out of some of the piles of rubble which indicated even more casualties from Gaap’s current rampage. The sailors looked at all this with feelings of total shock and fear rocking every fiber of their systems and none of them could get their mouths to work; except one.
“My lord! I have never seen anything like this!” Minako said. Her voice giving away the disbelief she was feeling at what she was currently seeing.
“I have…” Carnage said quietly.
The sailors all slowly turned to look at him. Their eyes were full of sadness as the tragic events around them continued to affect each of them personally. They all suspected they knew what Carnage was referring to. When they received their memories back after they had been re-wakened; Luna had told them about what had occurred in the city while they had been at the North Pole to face Queen Beryl at her main base. Luna had described hearing the roars of the various monsters, the sudden and violent explosions and the night air carrying the screams of the civilians being terrorized to the far ends of the city limits.
Carnage continued to look at the chaos occurring below them before turning to look at them. His virtually featureless face was devoid of any clear expression. His muscles and body posture were tense and rigid but otherwise gave no further indication to the sailors as to what he was currently feeling or thinking.
“The Dark Kingdom’s final stand… when they attacked the city! It looked almost exactly like this.”
The sailors let out a collective gasp and looked back at the anarchy that had befallen their city. Their minds futilely tried to grasp what it must be like for Carnage to see a scene like this twice in such a short amount of time. For them personally; one time was too many.
A sudden loud crash drew the sailor team’s attention to a building down the street from their current location. A thick cloud of dust and smoke erupted up into the air from the resulting destruction as Gaap came into view; stepping through it as it continued to demolish the remaining parts of the building currently standing in his way. Even from their current position up on the rooftop; his eighteen foot tall body still looked incredibly scary and imposing.
“Oh my god… It’s gotten bigger since last time! I don’t want to fight that thing again!”
“You have too!”
“You go and fight it Mars!”
“You are such a traitor!”
“I’m not a traitor! I’m just being spineless!”
“Sailor Moon! This is no time to be scared; people are dying down there!”
“If we don’t stop him; he will destroy this world with his evil!”
An abrupt and unusual sound behind them finished Sailor Mercury’s ominous warning. To the average person; it could be described like a bird flapping its wings or a flag whipping in the wind. To the sailors; the fluttering sound usually marked the arrival of their other ally. They all spun around in unison to see the owner of the sound; a look of renewed hope in each of their eyes.
Sure enough; there he stood, the masked avenger; Tuxedo Mask. He was dressed in his trademark black formal tuxedo suit with a top hat and shiny pair of black boots. A white masquerade mask and matching dress gloves completed his outfit. In his right hand; he held his black battle cane. His long flowing black and red cape flapped in the strong winds resulting from the strong winds that were currently blowing through the city; a leftover from Gaap’s arrival the day before. He wore a serious look on his face as he gazed upon his allies in the never ending battle to defend Earth.
“Be strong Sailor Moon! Believe in yourself and your friends and there is nothing you can’t overcome!”
Hearing her lover say those words seemed to energize Sailor Moon. She stood up straighter and tightly clenched her hands into fists. Her mouth became a hard thin line as her eyes narrowed into tiny slits; displaying her newly found courage and determination.
They all turned back around to look at their enemy. Tuxedo Mask took a position beside them with Carnage on the other end of the line of sailors. Gaap was moving along the street; his head panning back and forth. At first glance; he looked like he was revelling in the destruction he had caused. Taking delight in the sights of the fresh blood on the street and the overwhelming sense of terror that was thick in the air. However; as they continued to watch him, it became apparent that he was actually searching for something specific amid the several piles of debris.
He stopped when he reached a large pile of rubble that had once been a bakery; casting his glowing red eyes down on it. Reaching down with his long grey arms; he began to shift through the mound of broken materials. He casually tossed heavy blocks of concrete aside as if they weighed nothing at all. It became clear that he was looking for something but the young group of heroes who were still watching him couldn’t even begin to guess what that might be.
Gaap abruptly stopped his rummaging and reached his hand into the centre of the pile. When he pulled his arm out; the sailors’ hearts nearly stopped and the blood in their veins ran cold. In his hand; the demon lord was holding the body of a young teenage boy. From their vantage point; the sailor team could see that the boy was clearly dead. His limbs were limp and even in the dim light provided by the surviving electric lights in the area; they could see that his body was steadily dripping a liquid that could only be blood. Gaap let a small chuckle escape his black lips as he looked at the young teen’s body he was currently holding. The sound of his chuckle carried up to the sailor team on the strong air currents that moved through the area. The sound of the demon’s laughter at the sight of an innocent boy’s mangled body infuriated each of them.
Gaap stood fully upright; lifting the corpse with him. He grasped the broken body with his other hand and made a motion like he was going to take a bite out of the body. He reared his head back; flexing the muscles in the back of his neck, like a snake getting ready to strike. As this horrible realization flashed across the sailors’ field of vision; their overall disgust for their enemy rapidly intensified.
Sailor Jupiter couldn’t take the sight anymore. This mindless death and destruction was going to end now; she thought to herself. She jumped down to the street with the other sailors and Carnage following right behind her. As soon as her feet touched the ground; she broke into a run, charging directly towards the creature. As she rushed forward; she started to gather the necessary energy she required to launch her ‘Supreme Thunder Dragon” attack. Her rationale was that perhaps her energy creature could hurt or even defeat this one. Gaap noticed her rapid approach and looked down at her.
He switched hands; putting the corpse in the opposite hand and raised the other arm above his head. This was an indication that he was going to counter attack Sailor Jupiter’s forward charge with a wide arching downward slash with his razor-sharp claws.
When Sailor Jupiter got to within striking distance; a trio of red roses rained down from above. They impaled themselves into flesh of the raised arm and shoulder of Gaap. He roared in annoyance more than pain as he dropped the lifeless body of the young boy to the street. Meanwhile; Sailor Jupiter had not slowed down her advance at him. Her body visibly crackled with bright blue-white electric energy.
“Die you murderous piece of crap!” She yelled out as she let loose her powerful energy attack.
Gaap turned back to face her upon hearing her announcement; an almost human-like expression on his face. It almost looked like he personally recognized the voice of the person that was about to directly attack it.
The projectile energy wave instantly formed into the shape of a massive dragon head as it rapidly approached the demon. It hit the monster with a blinding flash of intense white light. All the sailors turned their heads and closed their eyes to protect themselves from becoming temporarily blind by the attack’s climatic aftermath. Tuxedo Mask dropped down to the street and raised his arm up so he could use his cape to shield his face. Carnage’s white eyes vanished completely from his face. It was not like a blink or anything similar to that since he did not have any eyelids; they just simply disappeared from his face. When the burst of radiant light energy began to fade away a few seconds later; the teardrop-shaped eyes re-appeared as if they had been sucked into the symbiote’s body as an act of protection.
Sailor Jupiter was the first of them to recover as her body’s natural affinity to electricity allowed her to resist much of the attack’s after effects. She eagerly looked to see the end result of her strongest attack. She was breathing hard as the level of physical strain put on her body to control that amount of concentrated energy had taxed it to its maximum.
The bright haze finally cleared to reveal the monster still standing after the powerful electric dragon attack. From what the team could see; the electric assault appeared to have had no visible effect on him at all. Everyone gasped out loud with utter surprise and shock. The only damage that seemed to be inflicted was to the surrounding ground and buildings around Gaap as well as the charred remains of the young man by the demon’s feet. He looked down at the burnt body as a snarl of frustration came from him as he looked back up at Sailor Jupiter. His facial expression was now one that was full of pure anger and malice.
“You impuetent little bitch!” He snarled at her.
The demon was not known for being one that liked to talk as he had only spoken a few sentences during their last encounter. This made the sailor team even more nervous as they wondered if they had just incurred the full wrath of Gaap now.
As if in response to their thoughts; Gaap blew a series of three fireballs in succession at Sailor Jupiter. The flight pattern that the fireballs were launched in made it virtually impossible for her to jump out of the way without getting hit; either directly or indirectly. She wouldn’t be able to jump back far enough to avoid the resulting impact splash from the heated plasma balls when they touched the ground. This would almost certainly result in severe burns to her body from the white hot debris. She still hadn’t fully recovered from the last encounter as her enhanced healing was still working overtime because of the amount of damage she had endured from that first battle.
The other sailors were too far away to get to her in time to do anything that could save her. At the speed the fireballs were approaching Sailor Jupiter; even Sailor Mercury’s water-based attacks wouldn’t cool them down fast enough to make them safe.
The sailors all screamed her name in unison; unable to do anything else. They watched helplessly and completely terrified that they were about to witness the brutal death of their best friend.
Sailor Jupiter stood her ground as her mind furiously tried to find some opportunity she could exploit to get to safety. The glare of the oncoming balls of fire created an eerie silhouette effect; making the other sailors unable to clearly see Sailor Jupiter anymore. As they continued to watch and unable to look away; they saw another shadowy figure jump in front of her and wrap its body around her to become a living shield for their friend.
The fireballs impacted and spread outwards in a violent explosion of flames and various super-heated materials. An inhuman scream filled the blood stained streets. The ground underneath the sailors shook from the incredible amount of demonic energy released from the creature’s fiery attack. The blinding flash effect of the flaming orbs striking their target quickly faded away but the memory of that horrifying shriek was still ringing in each of the sailors ears.
They all screamed her name again and again; hoping and praying that she was still alive. Tears raced down each of their faces as they saw huge fissures in the asphalt of the street leading back to the epicenter of the attack’s impact point. In the spot where the cracks all came together; they saw a mass of red material and long thick tendrils wriggling wildly from the main body. The sailors’ emotions remained as they were as the focus of their fears changed. They all quickly realized that it had been Carnage that had jumped in front of Sailor Jupiter and used his body to take the full force of the hit; saving her from certain death in the process. Their distress over their friend’s noble act became multiplied when they clearly saw the after effects of it.
Carnage unfurled his body and released Sailor Jupiter from the organic shield of his symbiotic skin. As he did so; he collapsed backwards onto the ground, landing hard onto the jagged and broken pavement. In response; Sailor Jupiter immediately moved to kneel beside him. She was crying hysterically and it was clear that she wanted to hold him or touch him but couldn’t as the heat from the blasts had caused the symbiotic skin to bubble as large pillars of steam floated off it.
His symbiote was almost completely burned away; leaving Sean’s human body almost completely exposed. The smell of burnt human flesh drifted over to where the other sailors stood frozen in place; unable to comprehend what they were seeing. None of them recognized the sickening aroma they smelt and they wouldn’t find out until much later what the strange odour had been. It turned their stomachs with its pungent rankness and almost caused Sailor Moon to vomit.
Carnage’s body was limp and he appeared to be unconscious or at least they hoped he was. He was undoubtedly in intense pain and suffering so having him be unconscious would at least give him a temporary relief from it. Fire was one of the symbiote’s few weaknesses and the power of Gaap’s fire blasts could and should have easily killed it.
“Carnage! Carnage! Don’t you leave me… not again… you hear me!”
Tears raced down Sailor Jupiter’s cheeks and her voice was cracking from the emotional stress her body was being put through. She grabbed his shoulders, clearly not caring if she burned her hands through her gloves from any residual heat that was leftover. She began to roughly shake him, doing anything she could think of to get some sort of response from him.
Gaap was watching the scene unfold out in front of him with a surprisingly strange reaction. One would have thought that he would be enjoying the intense misery he had caused. One would expect him to be laughing, smiling or at the very least not showing any form of emotion at all. He instead had an expression that could almost be considered remorseful. His mouth opened slowly as if he was sighing or taking a deep breath. The colour hue of his red eyes lightened; no longer being the deep dark red of hatred they had been since he first appeared to a more pink-ish shade like the colour of a human tongue. It only lasted for a second but it was long enough to be noticed by Sailor Venus.
Gaap’s reaction puzzled her. Why would a demon from Hell and the cause of all this death and chaos be seemingly bothered by this one selfless act of love and courage?
Her eyes suddenly flashed as she remembered that she had seen a similar look before. It had occurred during the previous night when they had first encountered him. He had shown another similar humanistic facial expression that was completely out of character for a demon when Sailor Jupiter had called Gaap by the name of the young man whose house he had appeared in.
Suddenly; it all came together in her head. One of the first things the demon had said was “the one you call James is no more” but that wasn’t true! James still existed somewhere inside Gaap; the demon was merely just in the driver’s seat. She had an idea but she needed to clear it with someone who she knew would have the required knowledge to confirm its plausibly.
“Sailor Mars… SAILOR MARS!”
She screamed at the top of her lungs as she tried to get Mars’ attention that was still completely focused on Carnage’s still form. After Sailor Venus screamed her name a third time; she finally heard her and her head perked up. She turned to look over at Sailor Venus and hurried over to where she was standing. As she moved across the battlefield; Sailors Mercury and Moon acted as a distraction with Sailor Moon following Mercury’s lead. Sailor Mars risked another look back at where Carnage and Jupiter were still situated; hoping that she would see some sort of movement from him.
When she finally got to where Sailor Venus was; she looked at her teammate with her violent-coloured eyes. She anxiously waited for Sailor Venus to explain why she had called her over. She could tell by the look on her face that Venus had a plan or at the very least; an idea. Either one was something they desperately needed at this point. They were down one member already with Sailor Jupiter’s future involvement also questionable. At that rate; they would be defeated or killed by Gaap within minutes. She snapped back into focus when she heard Sailor Venus’ question.
“What is the common character flaw for all demons?”
“What? I don’t know…”
“You go to a Catholic school! You must have covered this at some point!”
“I don’t know… probably… maybe…”
Sailor Mars fumbled in her response; her hands grabbing at the ends of her waist-long black hair as she looked wildly around. This was her way of trying to get her frantic mind to focus on what was going on around her. Even for a discipline-minded person like herself; the events of the last few minutes were making it extremely difficult to keep her mind on the task at hand.
Sailor Venus grabbed her shoulders as she did not want to waste any more time. She knew the demon was going to continue the attack any second now. She saw over Sailor Mars’ shoulder that Sailor Mercury and Sailor Moon were still in their battle stances and engaging the demon with single and combination attacks. However; they wouldn’t be able to hold out for very long especially if Gaap decided to aggressively counter-attack them. They needed to act now.
Her shoulder grab succeeded in getting Sailor Mars’ attention back on her. When their eyes lined up again; she got right to the point and asked Sailor Mars the one question that she needed clarification on.
“Pride, Arrogance, right? That is what got the devil thrown out of heaven, correct? That’s the common character flaw that separates angels from demons … right?”
“Yea… Yes… that’s right… but what does…” She started to ask her.
“The demon thinks he’s in total control of James’s body… but I have seen him express human emotion! Demons don’t do that! James is in there still somewhere; we just have to reach him somehow!”
Sailor Mars paused for a second before nodding her head in agreement. Sailor Venus’ logic made sense and they had to try something or this creature was going to kill them all very shortly. She watched as Sailor Venus ran towards where Sailor Mercury and Moon were holding their ground and stoped in the open space between them.
Sailor Mars followed behind her; taking a position beside Sailor Moon. When they were all in position; Sailor Venus steadied herself as she collected all the courage she had inside her. The first thing she had to do was get Gaap’s attention.
“Gaap! Hey Gaap! I am talking to you you idiot!”
Sailor Moon turned her head and shot her a look of complete surprise that screamed ‘What are you doing?’ Sailor Mercury didn’t take her eyes off of Gaap but bit down on her lower lip. She wasn’t entirely sure what Venus was up too but she had complete faith in her friend.
The demon turned to look at her and regarded her with a look of complete contempt. He took a step towards them which caused the other sailors to plant their feet into the ground and get ready for the impending attack they were sure was coming next. Sailor Venus stayed firm; not letting her inner nervousness betray the confident image she was projecting towards Gaap. Phase one of her plan was now complete. Now it was time for phase two.
“Your arrogance is showing! I know James is still somewhere inside you. I have seen him take brief control of your body. You haven’t been able to shut him off completely!”
“You are wrong you pathetic cockroach!” The demon roared as he reached his arm back; signalling that he was going to swipe his razor-sharp claws at them.
Gaap abruptly stopped his movement as a look of confusion appeared on his face. He turned to look at his raised arm as if to look for whatever was preventing him from attacking. He suddenly grabbed at his sides and dropped down to his knees as his body started to twitch and convulse.
“It’s James! He is fighting back! The demon’s control was NOT absolute!” Sailor Venus announced to the group.
Sure enough; the demon seemed to be noticeably weakening. The control he thought he had over James was being proven to not be as complete as he had earlier boasted. As the demon knelt on the ground; a semi-transparent pink aura formed all around him. As the sailors and Tuxedo Mask looked on; he began to shrink in size from his original eighteen feet down to about sixteen feet in height.
It wasn’t a complete victory but it was still a step in the right direction. The sailors welcomed the confidence boost it gave them as they watched the first sign that they could actually defeat this monster occur right in front of them. The sailors began to allow themselves the virtue of renewed hope to grow inside each of them. Gaap could be beaten; they just had to keep the pressure on.
The demon abruptly stopped his convulsing and twitching as the pink aura disappeared. He remained hunched over on his knees; his arms crossed tightly over his chest. The sailors quickly readied themselves as they anticipated some sort of surprise attack or some other movement from him.
In a sudden and fluid motion; the demon spun his body with his arms outstretched to the sides. This created a deadly spin attack; his razor-sharp claws slicing through the air like a pair of deadly scythes. Even with his now smaller physical size; his arm span was still something to not underestimate. The sailors all jumped back as far as they could to get out of the fatal circle of death that the spinning arms created. Sailor Jupiter; who had remained by Carnage’s side, grabbed him and used the sudden surge of adrenaline that coasted through her body to move him out of the way.
Gaap abruptly stopped his counter attack and stood upright. He looked at the young girls that surrounded him and the other girl who was protecting the red skinned human who was still unconscious after taking the full force of his fire barrage. He stared down at the female warrior dressed in green and white as she knelt over the red humanoid. His eyes opened wider as a faint look of recognition flashed across them. His black lips twisted into a smile as he formed a plan inside his head. He lifted his chin and puffed out his chest. These were body language signs that were meant to show arrogance and confidence.
“Makoto Kino!” Gaap called out.
Sailor Jupiter instinctively looked to where she heard her name called from. This reflex action caused the demon to laugh as it confirmed her civilian identity to him. Her eyes and mouth opened wide as the realization of what she had just done weighed down heavily on her. Gaap pointed at her with a long black claw as he proceeded with the next part of his plan.
“You were the one that allowed my passage to this earthly plane!”
The sailors all risked glances at Sailor Jupiter. Her reaction mirrored each of theirs which was one of total and utter shock as the same burning question raced through each of them. How is she responsible for all this death and misery? As the other sailors stood in silence; Sailor Mercury gritted her teeth and turned back to face the creature. She was determined to defend her best friend’s honour.
“She would never have allowed that! It was James that made the mistake of summoning you!”
“It is true that the weak fleshing you call James Saki was the instigator of my rebirth but it was you; Makoto Kino, which provided the missing ingredient that, ensured the spell’s success!”
Seeing the horrified and silent looks on each of their faces; he continued to speak. He couldn’t resist the chance to twist the metaphorical knife some more.
“Oh yes! Your betrayal provided the perfect love-hate mixture. I can still taste it inside me. It’s quite an intoxicating elixir!”
“Betrayal? I don’t understand…” Sailor Jupiter struggled to say as her face displayed a mixture of anger and confusion.
Sailor Venus was standing next to Sailor Mercury as they were hearing the demon’s taunts. They both broke their gaze and turned to look at each other. They were hoping that the other one had an idea of what the demon was referring too. They also were silently praying that something would happen that could give them an idea on how to further weaken Gaap.
“You really have no idea what I am talking about? Ohhh… how pathetic! It still astounds me how you humans can still miss what is right in front of you; even after dealing with your species for numerous centuries.” Gaap lamented.
Suddenly just like before; Sailor Venus began to put the pieces of the demon’s cryptic comments together. She grabbed Sailor Mercury arm to get her attention. Mercury; surprised by the abrupt gesture, looked at Sailor Venus and silently asked her for an explanation. While this was going on; Sailor Mars and Moon re-engaged the demon and drew his attention from Venus and Mercury after receiving a signal from Sailor Venus to do so.
“I know what the demon is talking about!” Sailor Venus said excitedly.
Sailor Mercury’s face lit up as she felt her inner hope began to build again. Her bright blue eyes fixating on her friend as she silently urged her friend to continue.
“In the school hallway; the day after the incident on the roof, I sensed something strange coming from James. The energy felt familiar to me but at the same time; there was something different about it. The demon’s reference to the ‘love-hate mixture’ finally made me realize that what I had felt was James’ love for Mako-chan. The reason why I didn’t recognize it immediately was probably due to the fact that Gaap probably already had some partial control over James. That would explain his sudden behaviour change and also the tainting of his pure-love feelings.”
Sailor Mercury lowered her eye gaze. She was thinking about what she had just heard and deciding if she agreed with Sailor Venus’ hypothesis. She was a student of science so her acceptance of concepts such as demonic possession; black magic and Hell was very difficult for her. However; she also had to consider the ‘Occam’s Razor’ philosophy which stated that ‘the simplest explanation is usually the correct one.’ Therefore; if James summoned the demon either directly or accidently because of his feelings for Mako-chan; it would explain most of what had occurred over the last few days. However; there was one thing that was still left unanswered.
“What about the betrayal it mentioned?” She asked out loud. Not missing a beat; Sailor Venus quickly answered her.
“We both know that Mako-chan likes to help people. We also know that she is quick to get physical with anyone that she feels has stepped out of line. If you were her and you saw someone getting bullied; what would you tell them?”
Sailor Mercury’s eyes lit up again as the answer clearly formed inside her head. Not wasting any time, she gave her response.
“She would tell them to stand up for themselves and show the bullies that they aren’t afraid of them.”
“Exactly! Remember… James did exactly that and do you recall how she reacted?”
Sailor Mercury closed her eyes and was silent for a moment as her memories flashed back to that particular morning in the hallway. She recalled seeing James standing face to face with Atsuo; then the look of fear on Atsuo’s face as he ran away down the hall. She then remembered Makoto’s body language changing to one of concern and how she had approached James. The last thing she recalled was Mako-chan’s words to James and his reaction to them. Her eyes flipped open as she realized what Sailor Venus was getting at. She voiced it out loud so Sailor Venus could confirm it.
“James took it as a betrayal from Mako-chan when he did exactly what she told him to do and she ended up questioning his actions. His feelings for her mixed with the hatred he was feeling for Atsuo and the other students which allowed the ritual to work perfectly.” She finished concluding.
Sailor Venus nodded her head in acknowledgment that she had come to the very same theory as well. They both turned back to look at Gaap. Sailor Mars and Sailor Moon were managing to hold their own against him but it was becoming clear that they wouldn’t last much longer. Sailor Venus captured Sailor Mercury’s attention again and gave her some hand gesture commands. Sailor Mercury nodded her head and rushed forward to assist their teammates as Sailor Venus hurried over to where Sailor Jupiter and Carnage were currently positioned.
“Shine Aqua Illusion!”
The powerful blast of icy water struck Gaap in the upper torso. The splash effect caused by the attack’s impact increased the affected area and thus froze more of the demon’s body. This would buy them a few precious seconds or maybe a minute if they were lucky. Sailor Mercury prayed that whatever time she had just bought then would be enough to allow them to come up with a plan that used the new information they had just discovered.
Sailor Venus reached Sailor Jupiter and quickly summarized her explanation to what the demon had been referring to. Sailor Jupiter’s body became tense with guilt and shock as she came to realize several things all at once. All this death and destruction had been caused by an innocent and simple misunderstanding. Sailor Jupiter’s mind raced as the pieces of the puzzle fell into place. Gaap had taken partial possession of James which Sailor Venus had partially sensed when she saw him in the hallway that day. However; the most shocking thing of all was the realization that James was in love with her and his pure feelings had been corrupted by the negative energy of the book which allowed this abomination to be set free.
She looked down at her beloved Carnage who was slowly showing signs of life as she tightly held him. His symbiote was slowly starting to re-knit itself and re-covering his human body in the process. She looked back up at the still partially frozen demon as he was about to break the ice shell he was encased in. She gently put Carnage’s head down onto the ground and stood up. As the creature broke through his icy bonds; she started to slowly walk up to him. She was determined to set the record straight for everyone present in the area.
“I am not going to fight you anymore!”
Gaap looked at her and began to laugh manically. It was the same laughter that had sent chills down their spines during their first battle the previous day. He continued to laugh as the other sailors looked at Sailor Jupiter; not fully understanding what she was up to. As his fit of laughter began to slowly dwindle; he pointed a single clawed finger down at her.
“Then your death will be easy!”
He slammed both of his fists down and hit the pavement with incredible power. The force generated by this action caused a huge seismic fissure to form. It started at the point of impact and rapidly expanded towards the spot where Sailor Jupiter was standing; zigzagging through the asphalt as it approached.
Sailor Jupiter did not seem to be fazed by the awesome show of physical power. In one graceful motion; she jumped to the side and successfully avoided the seismic attack. She had fallen for a similar attack from one of the Dark Kingdom’s monster once before; coincidently enough, it was the same battle where she first saw and met Carnage. She landed on the soles of her green boots and maintained her balance against the seismic aftershocks the fissure was emitting as it passed by her. She did not immediately launch a counter attack when she looked back at Gaap. She instead planted her feet and stood her ground with her arms raised in a traditional martial arts battle stance. She was showing him that she was ready for his next offensive move.
“I am not going to fight you! Friends should not fight each other!” She stated to the huge grey-skinned behemoth.
Her statement caused Gaap to laugh again. However this time; the laughter was even more hysterical. His laughter again sent cold shivers through each of the sailors’ bodies. It was an un-holy sound that dripped with evil and malice from every audible sound. It was made worse by the surrounding environment they were currently in. The several fires that still burned all around them and the maimed and mangled bodies of innocent people lying on the street acted as a constant reminder of the devastation that would befall the Earth if they didn’t stop Gaap and quickly. The demon’s laughter echoed off the buildings all around them; the ones that were still standing that is. For Sailors Venus; Jupiter and Moon who had heard it more times than the others, the sound of the laughter terrified them a little bit more each time they experienced it. In response; Sailor Moon threw her tiara in a desperate attempt to cut the demon’s glee short.
“Moon Tiara Magic!”
The demon looked down and batted the glowing energy frisbee away with hardly any effort with a backwards swipe of his large hand. The act was still successful in stopping his continuous laughing which was welcomed outcome for the sailors. He lowered his head and returned to his stare down at Sailor Jupiter.
“The fear of your impending death has finally driven you to madness! I will cut you to ribbons where you stand if you think that pathetic plea will save you!”
“Hey… you un-holy psycho! I wasn’t talking to you!” She fiercely shouted up at it. Her eyes narrowed into tiny slits as she clarified to everyone that she was now talking to the huge creature standing before her.
The demon’s facial expression changed again. It became a look of utter surprise and confusion. The sailors saw this and felt their hopes begin to build again. They all shared the same thought; Sailor Jupiter had done it! She had managed to get through to James who was still trapped inside the immense demonic body. Sailor Jupiter continued to speak; not wanting to lose this precious opportunity.
“I have considered you a friend for a long time now James. Friends look out for each other and true friends can sense when something is wrong with one another. I saw that change in you at school. I was concerned about you which is why I was taken aback by your actions with Atsuo. I would never betray our friendship James. I care too much about you!”
As she had been speaking; the demon’s eyes had been slowly opening wider. The intense red glow from them faded as his expression became more humanistic as each of her words seemingly sunk in with him. When she had finished her speech; Gaap froze for a second before beginning to convulse and shake again. Just like before; the semi-transparent pink aura re-appeared all around it. The sailors’ mouths dropped open in expressions of hopeful surprise as they all looked on. They were winning; they were actually winning! Their enemy was losing more of its power.
“She did it; she reached James and resolved the ill feelings between them. Gaap is losing his hold on him!” Sailor Moon announced out loud to no one in particular.
The demon continued to shake and his skin rippled as the muscles underneath twitched and shook violently with large muscle spasms. His body mass; just like before; began to shrink down in size. However; the effects of Sailor Jupiter’s words were more significant than their earlier success. The misunderstanding that had formed the basis for Gaap’s entry into their world had been fully cleared up. This meant that a large part of Gaap’s power had now been taken away. The end result of that loss of internal influence was that the demon’s body shrank down another six feet. This brought him down to a height of about ten feet. The scene continued on for a short time with the grunts and other beastie sounds as the demon struggled to regain full control of his hold on his mortal vessel. The sailors could tell that the battle was not over yet. They quickly got back into their battle stances and prepared themselves for the demon’s inevitable counter attack when he took control again.
As sudden as the body spasms had started; they abruptly ceased. When they finally stopped; the creature shook his head and quickly stood upright again. His face was now completely demonic; his ruby red eyes flashing intensely with anger and absolute hatred for the small group of young warriors that were causing him so much trouble. He unfolded his wings and started to quickly flap them. In no time; he was airborne and hovering over them. The sailors kept their eyes trained on him as he circled overhead like a giant bird of prey.
“Enough of this! The time is nearly here for me to raise my army and conquer this rotting world!”
He cast his gaze down directly at Sailor Jupiter. He stared down at her with a look that told everyone that she was now the sole focus of his anger and inevitable wrath. He thrusted a single clawed finger down at her.
“You! You have weaken me and cost me precious amounts of my power! Your agony will be music to my ears as I destroy everything you care about!” He lifted his head and looked at the area behind them.
“Starting with him!” He finished as he swooped down with incredible speed.
“NOOOO!” Sailor Jupiter screamed as she spun around.
She instantly knew what he was going for. The other sailors quickly grabbed her and held her back. They were preventing her from recklessly attacking the demon as they all realized just as she had who Gaap was targeting.
Sailor Jupiter was once again running on pure emotion. She struggled against her friends’ combined efforts as she watched the events unfolding over their shoulders. A part of knew that if she engaged Gaap or made any attempt to save his intended target; she would end up dead as there was no question about that.
She could only watch as the demon grasped Carnage in his foot talons and lift him up into the air. Carnage was still too weak from the earlier fire attack to offer any sort of strong resistance. The symbiote tried to fight on his behalf by forming multiple blades and spears. It was trying in vain to get the monster to release them but it was still in the process of recovering as well. The resulting force behind the various blows was nowhere near as strong as they usually were.
Gaap lifted higher into the sky and flew away. He was headed towards the mountains that surrounded the north-western part of the city. At the speed he was flying; they would never be able to catch or follow him, even with their enhanced endurance and speed.
“CARNAGE! SEAN… NOOOOO!”
Sailor Jupiter; who was still struggling against her friends’ resistance, watched as her lover was carried away by the un-holy beast. Tears of panic and sadness streamed down her face as she made a silent and solemn vow to her love; Carnage, in the hope that he could hear her somehow.
‘I am going to get you back my love. I am going to find and save you! I will destroy that monster for what he has done to you and the innocent people of this city!’
End of Chapter 11…
Chapter Twelve: A Desperate Move
The girls were all sitting in Ami’s apartment as a deathly silence and almost unbearably thick tension surrounded them. Ami lived in an upscale apartment building that was located in the downtown area of the Minato Ward of Tokyo. They were currently sitting in the living room which was elaborately furnished with the kind of high end furniture one would expect to see in the dwelling of a very successful doctor such as Ami’s mother. The style of the room’s layout was simple but comfortable with no unique or overly elaborate pieces or designs. Its walls and style of furniture upholstery were painted or covered in simple earth and calm inducing tones. The room’s purpose, if there was one; was to allow its owners to unwind and relax after a highly stressful day at the hospital or school. However; the intended effect of the room’s decor was not helping the young girls’ moods in their current states.
This should have been a time for celebration or at the very least; raised spirits and bright smiles. They had succeeded in weakening their enemy and now felt for the first time that they could finally and completely defeat him. However; their minds were instead solely focused once again on the unknown fate of their friend and team member; Carnage.
He had been captured by Gaap before he had flown off after they had drained a large portion of his power. What was bothering them to no end now was whether Gaap had killed him or was holding him prisoner somewhere. If the latter was true; then their next thought and fear was that he was currently being brutally tortured by the fiend. The feelings of utter helplessness and being completely powerless to do anything to help him filled each of them with an overwhelming sense of crippling despair.
It had been a couple of hours since that tragic event and the maddeningly slow passage of time was only adding to the growing level of anxiety that they were all currently feeling. From down the adjacent hallway; they heard a door gently close and which was soon followed by the soft pitter-patter of feet on the hardwood floor. A second later; Ami came into view with a grim and sad look on her face.
“How is she? Usagi asked as she entered the living room area.
“She finally settled down enough that she was able to fall asleep.”
They all exchanged weak expressions of relief among themselves. They had each been incredibly worried about Makoto and her emotional state since the re-appearance of Carnage yesterday. However; those concerns were magnified even more after the events of their most recent battle.
When Gaap had vanished from sight with Carnage still in his talons; Sailor Jupiter’s level of physical exhaustion finally caught up to her. She collapsed to the ground but was partially caught by Sailor Mars and Venus. Her body was completely drained of energy as the previous two battles and the mental strain she had been under finally took their toll on her. The other sailors decided to re-group at Ami’s place since it was the closest to their current location. When they had gotten close to the apartment building; the sailors had transformed back into their civilian identities so they wouldn’t attract any un-needed attention by any of the residents living in Ami’s building or the surrounding ones.
Makoto had started to regain consciousness as they had been travelling towards Ami’s apartment. When her mind once again became alert and she remembered what had happened; she had attempted to break free and go and search for Carnage. The other sailors had managed to get her safely into the apartment with minimal resistance before her sudden energy boost abruptly dissipated.
Ami had just finished setting Makoto up in her bedroom. She had still been very emotionally charged when she had collapsed down on the bed’s mattress. She was completely convinced that she had let Sean down; especially after he had almost died saving her from the demon’s fire attack. She had kept replaying the event over and over again as she thought about what she could have done to prevent his capture. Ami in turn; had vocalized what she had already known deep inside her, which was that there was nothing she could have done to prevent what had happened. Any attempt she would have made would only have resulted in her or one of their friends getting severely hurt again or even killed.
It had been extremely difficult for her to come to accept that reality long enough for her to relax and let her body calm down enough to finally let it begin to recharge. The guilt inside her was racking her body in a seemingly endless cycle of negative energy waves. Everything inside her wanted to be out there on the street; looking for Gaap and where he had taken Carnage. She couldn’t explain it but she knew that Carnage was still alive. Her love for him rivalled Usagi and Mamoru’s level of intimacy. She was completely convinced that she and the other sailors could find some sort of trail or some person who had seen a ten foot tall demon flying overhead. There just had to be something out there that they could use to give them direction to go in. They just had to go out and find it.
As she lay under the while linen bed covers and making an honest attempt to get some sleep; her mind continued its mental torture of reliving what she considered to be her greatest failure. Her eyes were tightly closed shut but her eyelids still fluttered as her body physically responded to the images flashing through the blackness of her mind. Her heart inside her chest began to beat rapidly as her lips quivered. She began to toss and turn under the blankets; her body becoming restless as her internal anxiety quickly built up. Her movements became more and more erratic as the images became more and more intense; her imagination beginning to creep into her terrifying mental movie. She began to see visions of Sean being tortured or killed in several different and horrific ways. They ranged from the highly unlikely, such as Carnage being dropped into a volcano to the downright plausible, like being chained to a wall while being violently slashed apart by Gaap’s claws.
As the intensity of her nightmares increased; her body continued to become more and more restless. Her tossing and turning became more and more convulsive as she struggled in vain against the negative forces that had invaded her mind. Her face scrunched and crinkled into deep lines that showed that she was struggling to wake up but was unable to escape the never ending nightmare despite her best efforts to do so.
Out in the living area; the girls began to discuss what their options were for their next move against Gaap. They all were aware that time was now of the utmost essence. Very soon; their enemy would be attempting to raise his army from the depths of Hell. This would result in countless people across the world being brutally slaughtered and the rest being subjected to a variety of unspeakable horrors. They also all knew that their best chance at preventing all that was to get to the creature before he could successful bring forth his army.
“If we can just find out where Gaap is hiding; we can end this!”
“But Rei… our attacks still have no effect against him. We have only managed to get this far through cleverness and pure luck!”
“Minako is right! We need a more definitive course of action before we go looking for him.”
“Alright Ami… you’re the brains of our group! Let’s help you brain-storm some attack ideas. We finally have that stone-faced freak on the run so let’s finish the job!”
It was true that they had weakened Gaap and made him lose some of his power but he was still out there. That meant that his endgame of raising his army and conquering the Earth was still the real danger. At this particular moment; Usagi’s suggestion of all of them brain-storming how they could further soften him up enough to finally destroy him or at the very least, prevent him from completing the conjuring of his army was their top priority.
“It’s possible that in his debilitated state, our attacks might have more of an effect against him now.”
“That’s true Ami but unless we can do some serious damage to him; we can’t hold out for long against him. He is still too powerful for us to attack without some sort of strategy.” Minako countered.
“That is true. All he has to do is simply outlast us until his soldiers appear. Once that happens; we are finished!” Rei added.
“Could we not just destroy the altar or whatever special object he needs to bring his army into our world? Wouldn’t that be enough to prevent his goal?” Usagi asked the group.
The girls looked at her with more than a little surprise. Usagi was not known for her good ideas or her logical contributions to past battle planning sessions. However; she did have her rare moments where she would come up with a concept that actually made sense. The girls exchanged looks with each other as they each mulled over the idea in their heads.
“That could indeed work if such an item is present.” Ami said after about a minute.
“If there isn’t though; we will need to be ready to fight to the end!” Rei flatly stated.
“But I don’t want it to end! I want to grow old with my Mamo-chan!” Usagi wailed.
Suddenly; a bone chilling scream cut through the air and their conversation. The sound of the shriek instantly froze each of the girls where they sat. It was a scream filled with pure terror and anguish. In the quiet atmosphere of the apartment and the thick black clouds that still loomed outside; the screech became magnified to something that might be classified as a death cry. They all instantly recognized who the shriek had belonged too and their faces quickly became pale as the colour rapidly drained from them.
In a flash of movement; they all jumped up from their individual seats in unison and scrambled down the narrow hallway towards Ami’s bedroom. As they neared the door; a single mutual question silently passed among them. Was Mako-chan alright?
Rei reached the room first and threw the door open. As she peered through the darkness inside the room towards the bed; her eyes opened wide and her mouth fell open. The other girls by that point had caught up with her and peaked over her shoulders as Rei had become physically frozen in the threshold. They all let out a collective gasp as the sight before them sunk into their collective consciousness.
The bed was empty and its last inhabitant was nowhere to be seen. The white linen sheets had been thrown about and were settled into a messy heap near the foot of the mattress. One of the pillows had fallen or been dropped to the floor beside the bed while the other two remained in their place at the head of the bed. It was clear that those pillows had been clearly subjected to some form of abrupt movement as they were no longer flat but crumpled up. The sight of the empty bed was quickly replaced by an even more unsettling visual.
Almost instantously upon their entry into the bedroom; they had all felt a cool draft coming from somewhere inside. They had all looked together towards the window and saw that it was wide open. They all stared at it in disbelief as they did not want to believe that their best friend had run off to face certain death. Usagi; the only one who was still able to move, pushed her way pass Rei and ran to the open window. Her fingers griped the window sill tightly which caused her knuckles to turn white. Her blue eyes rapidly scanned the terrain out in front of her in the hopes that she would see some sign of movement or anything at all that would give them a direction to head in. They needed to intercept Makoto and bring her back to the apartment where they were currently all safe for the moment. Not seeing anything at all; she did the only thing she could think of.
“Mako-chan! Come back!” She screamed into the deadly quiet air of the city.
“What am I doing?”
Sailor Jupiter asked herself for the tenth time as she ran along the room tops, jumping over the air ducts and raised sky lights that were in her way. The adrenaline in her system surged through her veins; allowing her to push her aching and tired body forward as she leaped from building to building. She had begun running as soon as she had landed on the ground and had not stopped for a second to think since that point. Her mind was a frenzy of various thoughts with most of them centred on her desire to find Sean and punish the monster that had taken him from her.
She had been thrusted from her intense nightmare in a fit of blood-curling screaming as the image of Sean being savagely ripped apart by Gaap’s soldiers became the final straw that she needed to break her mind’s mental hold on her. She remembered sitting upright in the bed; breathing heavily from the physical stress the barrage of nightmares had put on her body. Her forehead had been dripping with nervous sweat as another side effect of the physical toll her body had endured. As she had sat there with that last horrible image still burned into her memory; she re-focused her mind quickly by pushing out all the negative energy until only one clear thought remained and quickly and completely consumed her…
‘I have to go and save Sean!’
She had thrown off the covers and ran to the window. She had managed to get it open in short order and leapt through it head first. Ami’s apartment was on the sixteenth floor and her bedroom window had no balcony so Makoto had free-fallen unobstructed towards the concrete sidewalk below. As she had been falling; she had transformed into her sailor form. This had given her the necessary power and agility to change her body’s position so that she was now descending feet first.
Her augmented strength was then put to use upon impact with the ground to propel herself upwards to the nearest building’s rooftop. Her muscular legs had absorbed the force of her landing and then used the resulting kinetic energy to push her body upwards.
From there; she picked a direction and started to run as fast as she could. As she got further away from Ami’s apartment building; she swore she heard Usagi’s voice behind her but didn’t stop to check. All she was focused on now was finding Sean and ending the torment she knew he was currently enduring at that moment.
Back in Ami’s bedroom; the girls were trying to pinpoint which direction Makoto had gone in. They had quickly come to realize that she had to have transformed into her sailor persona in order to safely land from her dramatic exit out of the apartment`s window.
In their sailor identities; their physical strength, endurance and agility were enhanced to Herculean levels that were proportionate to their body sizes. It had only been two minutes since they discovered that Makoto was missing but with her enhanced speed; she could easily be a couple miles away by now. With each passing second; that distance would continue to grow significantly.
Their only hope of intercepting Sailor Jupiter before she got herself into trouble was for them to transform as well and try to catch up to her. They each produced their transformation sticks and morphed into their respective sailor soldier forms.
“Mars Power Make-Up!”
“Mercury Power Make-Up!”
“Venus Power Make-Up!”
“Moon Crystal Power Make-Up!”
Once that was completed; Sailor Mercury took out her micro-computer and began to type several commands into it. Her fingers moved at a lightning quick pace as she entered in various forms of information. The computer took in all of the data and began to feverishly interpret it. As she waited for it to finish its analysis; another idea abruptly entered her mind.
“If I can activate her communication device; we can get a direction to head in.”
The other sailors huddled around her and waited impatiently for Sailor Mercury to provide a response as she set out to accomplish that task. After a few seconds; the computer gave a sudden `beep` that announced to everyone that it had finished in one of its two tasks.
“Hmmmm…” was the only sound Sailor Mercury made as she looked at the computer screen.
“What?” Sailor Moon abruptly asked. The other sailors mirrored her demeanour as they looked at Sailor Mercury with the same intense eagerness.
“It seems that we won’t be able to use the homing beacon in her communicator to find her after all.”
“What! Why not?” Sailor Mars inquired. Her tone of voice clearly contained a large degree of frustration.
“Because her communicator is right here!” Sailor Venus answered. She picked up the small pink device from its place under the pile of bed sheets and held the it up in her hand for the others to see.
“Precisely!” Sailor Mercury stated. Her expression of worry and disappointment was clearly etched across her face.
“So… what do we do now?” Sailor Moon asked the group. Her hands were held up close to her face as a clear display of fear and jitteriness in her body language.
“The only thing we can do. We split up and try to find her.” Sailor Venus stated with her hands on her hips.
The other girls could only nod in agreement. They didn’t like the idea of splitting up but there wasn’t any time to argue. They had to find Sailor Jupiter quickly so they could all re-group and prepare for the final battle with Gaap which they knew was rapidly approaching. There were still a lot of preparations they had to complete before their enemy revealed his location and initiated his attempt to raise his army.
They raced to the roof of the apartment building as they decided it would be an easier departure point than the bedroom window. As luck would have it; the rooftop area was completely deserted when they arrived which was a small favour. They didn’t want any civilians to be around them in case Gaap was watching for them and launched some sort of a surprise attack. It seemed unlikely but it was still a situation they didn’t want to be put in if they could avoid it.
They all leapt to the nearest building’s rooftop that was on the west side of the apartment complex. Once they had all landed; Sailor Venus gave each of them a direction to go. Sailor Mercury would go west; Sailor Moon to the north and Sailor Mars would head south. This meant that Sailor Venus would be searching the areas to the east.
“Remember… if you find Sailor Jupiter; Carnage or at the very worst, the demon’s lair, create some sort of signal in the sky for the rest of us to see. If any of you see a signal; go to its source immediately!”
The sailors all nodded their heads in agreement. Sailor Venus nodded her head as well to show that she had acknowledged their response.
“Good luck” She said to them before turning and running to the edge of the roof top.
In a blur of movement; she jumped across the open chasm and disappeared from sight on the far side of the next building’s rooftop. As she disappeared from sight; the other sailors turned to look at each other one last time before heading off in their given directions. Each of them were firmly holding on to the hope that they could find Sailor Jupiter before it was too late.
Across the city in an empty airplane hangar; Gaap looked up towards the heavens. He gazed at the blackened sky that was devoid of the stars and moon that usually shined down around this time of day. His lips twisted into a malevolent sneer and a small chuckle escaped his mouth.
‘Soon’ he thought to himself.
In a short amount of time; the mystical forces he needed would be at the correct levels he required to raise his army and bring forth glorious death and destruction to this weak excuse for a planet.
A sudden metallic rattle sounded behind him. Gaap spun around; his large wings fluttering with the abrupt movement and his blood red eyes focusing on the source of the sound. His sneer grew into a cruel looking smirk as it quickly spread across his face.
“You can’t break those chains! They were forged in the caverns that run beside the great lake of fire. Only a god can break them and you my enemy… are NO god!”
Carnage was tied up with thick metal chains that glowed with an unsettlingly evil-looking yellow aura. He was suspended over an open fire pit where his feet hung dangerously close to the flames of the blazing inferno inside the cavity. His red symbiotic skin had retreated from his lower limbs to form thin ribbons that stretched across the rest of his body. This was an act of self-preservation on its part as it was trying to conserve its energy by consolidating its body mass into a smaller area. The red alien skin that remained on his legs and feet dripped into the fire below like melting wax. The symbiote was slowly dying as its close proximity to the flames and heat continued to drain its remaining life energy. He remained silent and kept his head down as he refused to let the demon’s taunt affect him.
“Why do you continue to deny the inevitable? Why don’t you just give in and let the sweet embrace of death take you. Put an end to all your pain and suffering!” Gaap taunted again. When Carnage again didn’t give any sort of response; he continued his verbal assault.
“Oh… I bet you are hoping that your love and her friends will come and save you; is that it? It’s true that they have made me lose some of my power but even in my current weakened state; I can still easily destroy them all with no real effort.”
Gaap approached Carnage; his gait displaying a sense of supreme confidence. When he was close enough; he stopped and knelt down. When his large head was level with Carnage’s; he resumed his cruel mocking.
“He hates you, you know? The foolish human that summoned me into this world. I can hear his thoughts inside me clear as crystal. He hates that you have the one thing that he truly wants; the love of that other insignificant human, Makoto Kino. He is a true example of what is wrong with humanity; hopelessly clinging onto things they can never have. His very existence was built on that one sad belief; so much so that he believes he has no other purpose in life now. It truly astounds me that your species was ever considered to be more favoured by the Almighty Father than the angels and the fallen ones that became demons.”
This time; Carnage slowly lifted his head as his tired and battered body struggled to find the energy needed to do so. The symbiote was still partially covering his face but it was slowly running off it as the alien’s energy continued to dissipate. One of his white eyes remained while the other one had been violently ripped away earlier by Gaap. The ragged and torn living material around where it had been was now gone; leaving his human eye and the surrounding area exposed. His blue eye was barely open and blinked frequently as the burning heat from the fire underneath him dried out the human skin’s tissue. Thin lines of dried blood ran down from around his eye from where Gaap’s claws made contact with his body when he ripped the symbiotic eye off him. His large mouth was missing some of its black teeth and did not fully stretch across his face as it normally would; leaving parts of his lips and cheek unprotected.
When his face was level with Gaap’s; his human eye opened but his eyelid could open slightly due to the heavy swelling from the physically beating Gaap had given him earlier. This allowed him to see through only a tiny slit. With what little of his eye that was visible; it was clear from the intensity that remained in it that he had no desire in surrendering to this unholy abomination.
Not breaking his current stare-down with him; he reared his head back and spitted in Gaap’s face. The red alien-human salvia hit the demon just above the left eye and started to ooze down his bumpy and gravelly skin.
“Go back to hell!”
Gaap’s face quickly changed from a look of amusement to one of pure rage. In response; he threw back his right arm and slashed Carnage across his chest with two of his razor-sharp claws. The wounds were shallow which meant that no vital organs were damaged but they were still deep enough to cause blood to steadily seep from them. It dripped down his body; the symbiote absorbing as much as it could, before falling down into the raging fires below. Since the symbiote was connected to his blood as part of their permanent bond; each drop that fell into the fire sent a physical wave of pain through it as another piece of it was destroyed. It wailed uncontrollably as the continuous and extremely painful sensations kept surging through it.
In the demon’s sudden bout of anger; he had managed to retain enough mental control to stop him from killing Carnage instantly. When the attack was completed; Gaap’s face quickly returned to his earlier amused expression and a small smile spread across his lips.
“That was a nice try hero! A quick death would be far too easy for you. You and your friends need to suffer just like the rest of your species! Or… perhaps you had hoped that your death would give your friends the necessary push to not hold back against me in the final battle. That you being merely my prisoner would distract them and make them careless and open to an attack from me; was that the plan? A noble gesture but a meaningless one! No one can stop me now!”
Gaap stood straight up and squared his shoulders. Carnage dropped his head as he was unable to keep it lifted up any longer. He let it dangle loosely in front of him as he closed his human eye to protect it from the burning embers that flicked up from the fire pit under him.
Gaap stared down at him with a look in his eyes that was now one of supreme arrogance and superiority. It was a look that was similar to that of a young child looking at a single ant or small snail. As he stood there; his clawed hands opened and closed repeatedly as the anticipation of the nearing event built up inside him.
“It is time for planet Earth to return to its rightful rulers. I do hope you don’t die before my final victory. It always makes things so much better when you can share your triumph with others.”
Gaap spun around on his heels and began to walk back towards the centre of the hanger; laughing manically as he did so. The sound of his laughter reverberated off the steel walls of the building which created a loud and eerie echo. Carnage could only hope that his friends; the Sailor Soldiers, would be able to arrive in time to stop this potential apocalypse!
Somewhere miles away from the abandoned hangar; Sailor Moon stopped her search for Sailor Jupiter for a moment so that she could rest. She and the other sailors had been scouring the city for what seemed like hours but in reality; probably had only been about one. She leaned against a tall air duct with her arms crossed over her chest. She was starting to breathe hard; showing the effect of her non-stop searching and rooftop running. She lowered her chin as she felt the cold steel of the vent through her sailor uniform. She cast her gaze downward and looked at the area of roof in front of her as her mind drifted into her memory archives.
More than any of the other sailors; she understood what Sailor Jupiter must be currently feeling. It wasn’t that long ago that her own true love; Mamoru Chiba; had been captured by the Dark Kingdom. During his captivity; he had been brain-washed by them and turned into a powerful adversary against her and the other sailors. When the final battle occurred between the sailors and the Dark Kingdom; Sailor Moon had been forced to battle him during the confrontation with Queen Beryl. She had been able to cleanse the negative energy infecting him from his body using her star locket and thus free him completely from Queen Beryl’s control. Sadly; this happy event occurred just before he saved her from a surprise attack by the Queen; an attack that ultimately caused him to die in her arms as they expressed their pure love for each other.
It was the second time that had happened. The first time was in their past lives; back in the ancient Moon Kingdom. They had stood out on one of the royal castle’s balconies with the planet Earth shining over the horizon. They held each other’s hands and shared a deep and passionate kiss one final time before the extreme danger they knew was coming. When the Dark Kingdom finally launched its destructive campaign against the kingdom; Mamoru in his identity of Prince Endyimon and Usagi as Princess Serenity were killed when they were caught in an energy blast from the Ultimate Shadow which was the Dark Kingdom’s strongest warrior.
Sailor Moon recalled how she had felt over those many weeks and months that had followed Mamoru’s capture. The memories of how the crippling feelings of helplessness; concern and terror had almost completely consumed and dominated her thoughts for that period of time. She couldn’t blame Makoto for doing what she had done which was recklessly running off to try and save her lover. She had done similar stunts in the past when there was even the smallest chance that it could save Mamoru or one of her friends.
Her quiet recollection was suddenly interrupted by a bright flash of light that was quickly followed by an incredibly loud clap of sound that was louder than any bout of thunder she had ever heard. It was almost how she would imagine a bomb blast would sound like up close.
She looked furiously around her in all directions. She was looking for any sign as to where the sound and light had come from; a trail of smoke, another flash of light or anything at all. When she did not see any such clue; she began to reside to herself that it would be next to impossible to pinpoint the exact source of the light and sound since they had more than likely bounced off the thick black clouds that were still hovered over the city. She needed another sign or signal to occur so that she could have a direction to go in. She scanned the landscape all around her again as desperation and panic firmly carved themselves onto her young face.
Her first thought when she saw and heard the light flash and loud bang was that Sailor Jupiter had engaged Gaap in battle. She quickly dismissed that idea though. She had been fighting alongside Makoto since almost the beginning of her career as a sailor soldier and had learned her friend’s usual attack style and patterns. Even in her heightened emotional state; her strongest attacks would not have created such a series of dramatic effects.
‘Unless she has been able to unlock one of her hidden sailor powers?’ She thought to herself. She quickly shook her head and knocked that idea out her mind as well.
‘No… this feels different! This has to be Gaap making his final move! Mako-chan had to have seen that array as well. That will be where I will find her.’
She looked down at her right hand as she tightly clenched it into a fist. She knew with everything in her heart that it was indeed Gaap initiating his final plan. She only hoped that the light and sound were merely the beginning of the ritual and not the end. At least then; they would still have a chance to stop it.
She broke into a run again and jumped to the next building as she resumed her frantic search of the city for either Sailor Jupiter or their demonic enemy. It was at that moment that another flash of light appeared in her peripheral vision off to her right. It came from the south easterly direction from her present position. It was instantly followed by another deafening blast of thundering sound.
She abruptly stopped and skidded along the concrete of the roof as she tried desperately to avoid falling over. When she managed to steady herself and without wasting any more time; she lunged forward and broke back into a sprint before leaping to the next building. As she began her journey to what she hoped would be the final victory for her and her friends; she hoped that she would find Carnage alive when she got there.
Back at the abandoned airplane hangar; Gaap was sitting cross-legged in the centre of the hangar. He was posed in a traditional mediation position. His hands were resting on the top of his knees; his upper body held upright and was rigid. His large wings were folded against his back and his eyes were lightly closed. He had just released a small amount of energy from inside him. This had created an incredibly bright bluster of light with a loud bang following quickly afterwards.
Carnage continued to watch from where he was strung up as the hellfire still burned strong underneath him. He had been jolted by the first combination of light and sound. The sonic boom from Gaap’s act had caused a rush of pain for his symbiote as the sound waves rattled through its alien tissue. However; there was no other result of the display. There was no rumbling; no explosions and more importantly, no demonic soldiers. Even in his extremely weakened state; that realization did not go unnoticed by him.
When Gaap did it a second time; Carnage began to wonder if the summoning of his soldiers had merely not worked the first time. Perhaps the demon prince had made a mistake in his assumptions of when the correct time was to properly summon his warriors. However; from his current vantage point, the demon’s body language did not appear to convey any signs of frustration or even surprise for that matter.
‘No… He wouldn’t make such a careless error. Not about something as important as this!’
Carnage’s mouth tightened into a grimace as that thought passed through his mind. He tried to his best to ignore the greater sensation of pain that resulted from the second sonic boom when Gaap did the energy release for the second time. He had to keep his mind completely focused on him so he could figure out what his opponent was truly up to. He kept his eyes solely fixated on Gaap as he continued to sit on the floor. His back was to Carnage which meant he couldn’t see his face but he imagined it was probably blank or with little expression on it as he concentrated on his strange task.
Gaap did the energy release for a third time. This time however; there was a rumbling sound that became audible seconds after the sharp sonic boom. The rumbling noise was getting louder and louder with each passing second but there was something noticeably different about it. It was easy to miss by human ears but Carnage’s symbiote perceived audio waves at a much higher and lower frequency. Even now; with his partner on the brink of death and under extreme stress; the symbiote was still able to communicate some critical information to Sean that it had noticed.
“What did you say?” Sean mentally asked the symbiote.
“The source of that rumbling sound is not from one source but multiple ones!” The voice inside his head replied back.
“How many?” Sean asked as it was the only thing he could utter as a response.
“Many!” The voice came back with as a response.
Carnage’s eyes; both human and symbiotic, flapped open with the sudden revelation. He now finally understood what Gaap had been doing. He and probably the sailors as well had been operating under the belief that the demon was going to need a sacred area, a magical ceremony or a special object of some sort to raise his armies. It had not occurred to him that the creature might already possess the necessary power and thus was beyond such limiting requirements.
All this time; Gaap had been acting as a military scout. He had been gathering intelligence information about this world and any forms of resistance before sending the rest of the troops into battle. However; since the creature was also the army’s General, he was also responsible for giving the order to charge and attack. The first round of light and sound had acted as a signal flare which had transcended the dimensional boundary that separated him from his soldiers and acted as a signal to get the attention of the waiting warriors. The energy release was the indicator that alerted the soldiers that it was time for the invasion. The second display was to tell them to prepare for battle and the final combination was the all-important “Attack” or “Charge” order.
The rumbling sound had almost become deafening by this point. Any second now; the soldiers would appear and there would be little hope of them being able to win this battle without suffering heavy casualties. Carnage was not going to give up and abandon his faith in his friends; not until he was fatally struck down. He owed that to them; Makoto and the memory of his sister. He tried feverishly to break the chains that bound him with whatever strength that remained inside him.
Gaap rose to his feet and turned to face Carnage. His face was now an expression of supreme confidence and satisfaction. He stood tall and held his arms out to the sides with a gesture that was meant to show off his smugness at his perceived impending victory. Carnage locked eyes with him as he was determined to show him that he would not give him the pleasure of admitting defeat. Gaap’s smirk seemed to grow as the look of defiance he saw in his prisoner amused him. He started to walk towards Carnage; his clawed fingers repeatedly opening and closing again. In response; Carnage lifted his chin and got himself ready to accept whatever the demon was about to do to him.
“I must admit you are a most entertaining prisoner. Even in the face of total annihilation; you still hold onto your foolish hope and belief that you can still prevail. It will give me great pleasure to watch those pathetic virtues drain from you one by one as you watch your world burn to ashes!”
“WE WILL NOT LET THAT HAPPEN!” announced a chorus of voices from behind them.
Gaap and Carnage both looked towards where the voices had come from. The hangar doors opened up and four feminine silhouettes stood in the little bit of artificial lighting that was present behind them. When the hangar doors finished opening; the electric lights inside the hangar fully illuminated the new arrivals.
“We will not allow you to bring destruction to this beautiful planet! We will not forgive anyone who has such disrespect for all that is precious! In the name of the moon… I will punish you!” Sailor Moon firmly announced as she got into her battle stance.
“The Sailor Soldiers will also punish you!” The three other young girls with her added with equal confidence.
End of Chapter 12…
Chapter Thirteen: The Final Battle
The sailors and Gaap stared each other down. The young group of warriors had not yet noticed Carnage behind him as the demon’s physical size and current position in the building were blocking their view of him. Gaap gave them all a look that told them that he was neither impressed nor intimidated by their boasts.
“Such meaningless histrionics! How very droll! Do you really think your little superpowers can compare to a prince of Hell?”
The sailors’ only response was the narrowing their eyes and the tightening of their hands into fists which were meant to show him that they were ready for battle. For several long seconds; neither side made any additional movements. They were waiting for the other to initiate the first attack. For the sailors; they all knew the extremely high stakes that were involved in this battle so they were being very cautious not to make a wrong move that could lead to their defeat.
Gaap could sense their hesitation and decided to entice them in to attacking him. It would make his victory much more enjoyable if he could destroy this planet’s greatest warriors himself rather than let his armies have all the fun. With a single graceful motion; he stepped to his right. This allowed the sailors to see what was directly behind him. What they saw instantly froze the blood in their veins and caused their mouths to drop open in utter horror and shock.
“Carnage? … Nooooo!”
Carnage or what was left of him was hanging from the ceiling by a thick metal chain that was suspended over an open fire pit. The red symbiotic skin of his living costume was stretched out into tiny thin ribbons across his body. His human body; which was mostly visible underneath the red strands of twitching alien skin was raked with various slash and claw wounds. Each of those cuts had streaks of blood seeping from them that ran down the length of his body. His bare feet; which were the closest to the flames were severely burned as the protective skin of the symbiote had been completely burnt away. The flesh coloured tone of his human skin was bright red in some areas which showed that the heat from the fires was slowly cooking him alive. From the sailors’ current position at the main doors; they could tell that the heat from the pit was causing also causing him to sweat profusely. This was certainly going to leave him severely dehydrated and thus; physically weak. Carnage slowly lifted his head and managed to look up at them. It was obvious that this simple movement was a great tax on whatever strength remained inside him.
“Noooo… stop this! Release him now!” Sailor Moon screamed at Gaap.
“You insignificant little trollop! Why would I do such a thing? His suffering is like music to my ears! If you want; you may all join him in his agony!” Gaap replied with smug arrogance.
Everybody cast their gazes upwards as they looked towards the ceiling of the hangar. In the dim light that was provided by the electric lamps inside; they could faintly make out the silhouette of a figure standing on one of the large steel beams that ran the length of the building. The sailors instantly recognized the voice.
She made no response to the announcement as she chose instead to drop down to the concrete floor of the hangar. She landed and let her legs absorb the impact shock by bending her knees until they almost touched the ground and placed her right hand flat on the concrete. She landed in the open space between Gaap and the other sailors. Her friends became frozen where they stood as they took in Sailor Jupiter’s body language and all of them quickly realizing what was about to happen.
Sailor Jupiter’s eyes were closed as she remained down in a crouching position. Her head was tilted downward and she held her free hand which was balled up into a fist; close to her face. Her breathing was very heavy as indicated by the large expansion and contraction of her rib cage. Her torso and upper arms were visibly shaking as the rage inside her was boiling over. To any of her close friends or any person that had the misfortune to cause this reaction in her; they knew what was about to happen. Makoto was short tempered and would not hesitant to use physical force against anyone who threatened her or one of her friends. Added to that reality was that Makoto was unusually strong for girls of her age and had years of martial arts training in the disciplines of kung fu, judo and several other forms. All of these factors made Sailor Jupiter a very formidable and dangerous opponent for anybody.
“I will destroy you… you unholy piece of sh**!” Sailor Jupiter quietly but fiercely stated as she threw herself at Gaap.
“No Jupiter!” yelled Sailor Venus and Mars together; both of them lurching forward in a futile attempt to stop her.
Sailor Jupiter raced towards the demon at a speed that would make any Olympic runner take notice. As she drew nearer to the area where Gaap was standing; she began collecting the electric energy in the air all around her. The antenna in the middle of her tiara rose up to gather and channel the harvested energy. When she got within seven feet of Gaap; she unleashed the full coalesced electrical force at him.
“Supreme Thunder Dragon!”
The blue-white energy streaked towards Gaap; forming into the shape of a dragon’s head as it neared its target. It struck Gaap full force in the chest which engulfed the surrounding area in a blinding flash of white light. The other sailors held their arms up to shield their eyes and wait for the light to dim so they could see the attack’s after effects. The shock wave that was the secondary product of the attack’s impact was more powerful than they had ever felt before from any of the previous times Sailor Jupiter had used that particular attack or for that matter; any of her attacks in general. It nearly knocked each of them off their feet as they struggled against the invisible backwash of invisible force. This incredible display of power from their friend worried each of them when they thought about the physical strain it must have put on her body; especially in her already weakened state.
Meanwhile; Sailor Jupiter had not broken her forward frontal charge. She continued advancing towards Gaap until she got to within striking distance a few seconds after her attack had struck the demon. She was not visibly affected at all by the white light flash or the outward environmental shock waves that her attack had unleashed upon the surrounding area.
When she got up right against Gaap; she immediately began to throw punches and kicks at his legs. To an average person; it would appear that she was striking out in wild and random fashion. Her blows were merely aimed at hitting anything that was in front of her and nothing else. To a more trained eye; they would see that she was targeting specific areas such as the ankles and knees where large pressure points were located.
Gaap was a humanoid shaped demon so it was logical to think that his legs would have a similar musculature structure like a normal human being. It was then also reasonable to assume that he may also have the same weak points. One of the fundamental beliefs of most martial art disciplines was that ‘the size of your opponent means nothing if they are on the ground.’ That was what Sailor Jupiter was currently attempting to do. She was trying to take Gaap’s size away but getting him down on the ground and make him less of a threat.
When the light flash finally faded enough for the other sailors to look back at Jupiter and their enemy; they let out another collective gasp. From their current positions; the sailors with the exception of Sailor Moon, quickly realized what Sailor Jupiter was doing. However; their enemy was still standing despite her physical barrage and thus was still a very serious threat. Sailor Jupiter simply wasn’t causing enough damage to the pressure points; if he even had them to begin with, to cause it to fall down.
His reduced size made it easier for her to land body and head blows as she attacked him. During her frenzy of lightning fast movements; she kept changing her target areas. She moved from the legs to the head and body in an unpredictable and seemingly random pattern. This was a smart move on her part as it kept her opponent constantly guessing and off balance which made it difficult for him to block all of her blows. The internal rage that she was currently feeling fueled her assault and added to her already incredible physical strength. The result of this merger of different elements was that her blows had more of an effect on Gaap. He staggered back a few times from some well-placed punches to the head and front kicks to the abdomen as the assault continued.
However; Sailor Jupiter was still way too close to Gaap for the other sailors’ likening. All it would take was one lucky hit or a successful counter-attack from the creature and she would either be seriously wounded or instantly killed. That was something they could not and would not allow to happen. They had to quickly put some distance between her and Gaap before it was too late.
“Sailor Moon! You and Venus go and free Carnage! Mars and I will provide support for Jupiter!” Sailor Mercury quickly ordered.
“Right!” They all said in unison before breaking off to complete their assigned tasks.
Sailors Moon and Venus ran in one direction while Sailor Mercury and Mars ran towards the battle that was still raging between Sailor Jupiter and Gaap!
“Shine Aqua Illusion!”
They both knew that their attacks would do little against their opponent but that wasn’t their intention. They were merely hoping to draw the creature’s attention away from Sailor Jupiter and allow her a chance to get to a safe distance. Sailor Moon and Venus meanwhile; moved together around the battle to the spot where Carnage was strung up over the fire pit.
“Moon Tiara Magic!”
Sailor Moon’s tiara morphed into an solid yellow energy disc which she then threw like a frisbee at the thick chain that hung down from the ceiling and was currently wrapped around Carnage’s wrists above his head. At the exact same time; Sailor Venus launched her ‘Love Me Chain’ which wrapped tightly around Carnage’s abdomen. The energy disc cut through the strong steel alloy of the chain as easily as a warm knife through a stick of butter. At the same instant that the chain was cut; Sailor Venus used her augmented strength to pull Carnage’s body forward. The end result was that it caused his body to land on the ground beside the fire pit. He landed hard on his knees before his forward momentum caused him to continue to fall. His arms were still bound to his sides by the chains so his face and chin struck the concrete floor with a sickening and painful sounding thud.
Sailor Moon collected her tiara when it returned to her; just like a boomerang, before joining Sailor Venus who was already kneeling beside Carnage. Venus rolled Carnage onto his back and then grabbed the chain as she flexed the muscles in her arms. She was trying to snap it with her enhanced physical strength.
“We have to get this chain off him but I can’t seem to break it!”
“Chain… made… in Hell… only… power of… god… can… break… them…”
“Power of God?”
“I got it Sailor Moon!”
Sailor Venus stood up and pointed her right hand to the sky. Sailor Moon immediately recognized this gesture as the sign that she was about to us her Crescent Beam laser attack. She knelt down beside Carnage; lowering her lips close to where his ears would be; if he had any. She put her hands on the top of his shoulders to hold him steady as she whispered.
“Stay very still and don’t move!”
Sailor Venus felt the energy quickly build inside her hand until a bright yellow glow radiated out from it. She planted her orange heeled shoes to the ground to brace herself for the physical backlash from her impending attack. Lowering her hand; she pointed her right index finger at the three lines of metallic links of the chain that ran across the front of Carnage’s torso. A thick orangey-yellow line of intense power erupted from her fingertip and moved at the speed of light. It hit the metal of the chain directly and snapped it instantly. The pieces of the chain still around him became loose which allowed Sailor Moon to quickly unwrap Carnage.
“Alright Venus! You did it!”
“But how did you know your Beam would work?”
“Easy! I am the goddess of love! Since those chains were made in Hell; a place of hate; it would only be logical to assume that they would be weak against anything that wielded the power of love and compassion!”
Sailor Moon nodded her head as she accepted her friend’s reasoning. They each knelt down and took hold of one of Carnage’s arms. They draped them over their shoulders to support his body as they slowly lifted him up to a standing position. They began to move him as they were determined to get him to a safe place so he could recuperate and get his strength back.
Meanwhile; the remaining sailors were struggling to keep away from Gaap’s vicious counter attacks. The electric attack that had started this melee had no visible effect other than temporarily blinding the demon for a couple of seconds. The bombardment of physical punches and kicks that had immediately followed it had been directed at key areas of his body had a more noticeable effect and had resulted in some back-stepping and a few small stumbles. However; despite the numerous blows he had suffered, Gaap had still been able to remain upright.
The three sailors who were fighting him were now finding it very difficult to land any direct hits on him with any of their attacks since the opening assault. Gaap had fully recovered from Sailor Jupiter’s electric blast and was now using his incredible agility to weave and swivel his body to avoid whatever they were hurtling at him. The sailors were quickly becoming aware that they had to start making more progress against him or it was only a matter of time before Gaap would start picking them off one by one as they began to tire out.
Sailor Mercury launched her Aqua Shine Illusion again in an attempt to freeze Gaap with the hope that she could immobilize him temporarily. This would in theory; allow Sailor Mars or Jupiter an opportunity to land some vital strikes on him and possibly give them some sort of long lasting advantage. What happened in reality unfortunately was Gaap successfully ducking underneath the blast of icy water and remaining completely unaffected.
“Pathetic! Haven’t you figured out that I can control the element of water?”
As the attack passed harmlessly over him; Sailor Mars unleashed her Burning Mandala fire rings. She hoped to use their opponent’s temporary fixation on Sailor Mercury to land several hits along his back. She fired them in a horizontal arch just in case Gaap jumped upwards or attempted to use his wings to evade them.
As the rings of fire rapidly approached him from behind; Gaap spun his body on the balls of his clawed feet so that he was now facing the incoming super-heated discs. Not wasting another second; he quickly side-stepped to his left side in a single and graceful motion just like a figure skater or ballerina. In his current position; the rings would have missed him by a safe distance but he instead did something that caught the sailors completely by surprise.
As the rings passed by him; Gaap reached out with his hands and caught two of the rings in mid-air with his hands. Not one of their previous enemies had ever been able to do that. The sight of such a move was a total shock to them. Each of them instantly froze where they stood as they were not sure of what to do or how to react to what they just witnessed. The surge of confidence they had been feeling following their last battle had now completely vanished as they realized that even in his weakened state; Gaap was still more powerful than any of their previous enemies.
Gaap smiled smugly before throwing the rings back in the sailors’ direction. His targets were his current adversaries; Sailor Mars and Mercury. Both sailors dove to the ground and were successful in avoiding a direct hit. However; the concessive force of the rings’ impact with the walls behind them caused them to be knocked forwards as they began to stand back up. They both landed hard on the concrete floor with their forearms and knees taking the brunt of the impact. The wave of strong pain that coursed through their bodies caused them to be slow in their recovery.
Sailor Jupiter watched helplessly as her friends were knocked hard to the ground. She did not waste any time with a verbal response as her rage still pulsed through her body. Running on pure emotion; she rushed forward to begin another barrage of punches and kicks. Gaap immediately noticed her approach in his peripheral vision and in a blur of movement; he halted her charge with a brutal back-hand blow to her chest.
She was extremely lucky that Gaap had his hand turned inward when he struck her. If it had been the other way with his claws pointed outwards; it would have been an instant kill. The long claws would’ve sunk deep into her body and punctured several vital organs. He had also swung his hand in a low to high direction which caused Sailor Jupiter to be lifted upwards first before crashing down onto the concrete about twelve feet away.
“Jupiter! Nooo… Stop this!” Sailor Moon screamed from her position across the hangar.
Gaap looked over at her as an amused smile stretched across his lips. He was truly enjoying this and wanted to savour every single moment of it. Standing fully upright; he panned his head across the scene before him. This gave a brief pause in the battle. The sailors that were still able too; returned his gaze with ones of their own. Some of them were ones of fear while others wore grimaces as the pain they were currently feeling weighed down heavily on them. However; they all contained an element of fierce determination as well. Gaap saw that and his smile decreased slightly.
“Why do you continue to struggle against me? All these meaningless heroics have accomplished nothing! Soon my armies will arrive in your world and we will bring beautiful death and destruction to everything you cherish!”
“We will never give up! We will find some way to stop you!” Sailor Mars answered weakly from her current position on her hands and knees.
“Why do you so foolishly continue to defend this world? A world so full of decay and hate that it created the weak human that allowed my entry into your dimension. Humans by nature are frail and weak. You are its greatest warriors and I have still easily defeated you. What possible hope does your species have now?”
From his position leaning against one of the exterior walls of the hangar while being supported by Sailor Venus and Moon; Carnage continued to slowly heal himself. His symbiote was quickly regaining its strength and was expanding to cover Sean’s body again but it would still be awhile before he was battle ready again. He heard the demon’s observations of humanity and his white eyes enlarged as he suddenly had an epiphany.
“You’re wrong… humans are not weak! They have strength! Even if we all fall; Earth’s inhabitants will continue to defy you until the very end!”
Gaap abruptly spun around at the first sounds of Carnage’s words. His red eyes flaring with intensity as he looked at the inhuman fleshing that dared to challenge him in his beliefs. His face contorted into an ugly grimace as he stared at the red-skinned warrior; leaning against the wall with two of his fellow warriors supporting him.
“Strength? You idiots… look how easily my human host was corrupted due to his weak mind and spirit. Your species will fall like rotting trees and my armies will not even be challenged!”
“James… listen to me! You are not weak! Please… let me know that you can hear me!” Carnage pleaded as he pushed himself off the wall and started to walk towards Gaap.
The demon’s eyes flared again and his facial expression abruptly switched to one of confusion. Sailor Moon and Venus gasped as they saw this and began to hope that the surprising reaction meant what they thought it did.
Gaap began to shiver and shake; he threw his head back and let an ear-splitting howl escape his lips. He grabbed at his sides and fell down to his knees. The sailors all looked on with complete awe at the incredible scene occurring in front of them. It took them a few seconds to realize what was going on and why. He was still in there; James’ essence was still inside the demon’s body and was fighting back against the Gaap’s control. They had to save him and assist him in purging the evil demonic energy from his body.
The convulsing stopped and the demon raised his head and looked directly at Carnage. His eyes were no longer a solid red but white with blue pupils. They contained a look that was full of remorse and deep sadness. They were the eyes of a human being.
As Carnage and the sailors looked upon the monstrous body that was temporarily under the control of James; they could see that he was breathing heavily and his current facial expression showed that he was trying very hard to maintain his temporary control over the demonic body.
Carnage could tell that they had at best; a few seconds before Gaap resumed his dominance over James’s physical form. Not wasting any time; Carnage began to speak. He hoped and prayed that his words would have an impact with James and help them in the overall battle which up to this point; had not been going well at all.
“James… nothing in this world is the way it ought to be. It’s harsh and cruel but that’s why there’s us: champions! It doesn’t matter where we come from; what we’ve done or suffered or even if we make a difference. We live as though the world were as it should be to show it what it can be. You are a champion James; just like all of us. You have the power inside you to defeat this monster!”
Almost instantly; the demon began to shake and spasm again. Like the other past occurrences; the semi-transparent pink aura re-appeared. Its sudden return filled the sailors with a sense of alleviated relief. The demon’s eyes started to flash back and forth between the solid red and the white with blue pupils. As they all looked on; the shaking grew more and more violent; a representation of the epic battle that raged inside the mind of the beast between the two mental forces fighting for dominance. Guttural sounds of pain and agony echoed from the demon as he physically twisted and shifted around. Just like before; the demonic body began to shrink in size. When the battle had started; Gaap had been ten feet tall. Now; he had been reduced to a mere seven feet in height in the span of only a few minutes.
The sailors felt their hopes intensify once again. Gaap was no longer a towering and imposing creature but the size of many of the monsters they were used to fighting. However; they could still hear the increasingly loud thundering of the approaching armies through the invisible inter-dimensional walls so they had to stay focused and win this battle quickly. Sailor Venus stood up and shouted a command to all the other sailors.
“Now Sailors… attack!”
From their various positions around the battle area; each sailor immediately got to their feet and launched their most powerful attacks at the spot where the monstrous physical mass was still kneeling.
“Shine Aqua Illusion!”
“Supreme Thunder Dragon!”
“Crescent Beam Shower!”
“Moon Sceptre Elimination!”
They were hoping to capitalize on James’ temporary control of Gaap’s body with the logical assumption that since his defences were currently pre-occupied; their attacks might have more of an effect now.
The sailors successfully launched their attacks as they each hit Gaap at the same time. The collective force of the combined onslaught of concentrated energy caused a large explosion of incredible power that created a thick cloud of dust and debris. A demonic shriek roared from somewhere inside the swirling dark grey fog. The shriek abruptly stopped and was quickly followed by a medium-sized shape bursting out from the top of the dirty haze. Carnage and Sailor Mercury both saw the strange object first and scrambled to determine exactly what it was. Their first thought had been that it was Gaap trying to re-position himself after their combined assault. However; as they looked closer, they saw that the figure was much smaller and had no wings. It was then that they quickly realized who the figure really was. Sailor Mercury made the realization verbal for the other sailors.
“It’s James! He’s separated from Gaap!”
Carnage was already in motion as he sent out a series of thick strands of symbiotic material towards James’ rapidly descending body. As the tendrils got closer to their target; they flattened out and merged together to form a pair of organic tarps. These living garbs wrapped around James to enclose him in a protective shell. Carnage pulled the tendrils tight which abruptly stopped James’ descent and allowed him to safely guide the red living sac to the ground. Once the symbiotic shell touched the floor; it unravelled and confirmed to the sailors that James had indeed been freed from Gaap’s control. As they looked over at him; they could see that James was unconscious but appeared to be over-wise unharmed. The stress of the forced separation had overwhelmed his body’s coping systems and it had shut down as a means of self-preservation.
“Aright! We did it!” Sailor Moon squealed as she jumped and clapped her hands together.
Carnage moved James to an area at the far end of the hangar while the sailors returned their gaze to the dirt cloud that was still present after their collective energy attack. As they waited anxiously to see what the final result was in terms of their enemy; they got back into their individual battle stances. Their feet were flat on the ground, knees slightly bent and their arms were held up with hands at the ready. Carnage re-joined the group after securing James against the far exterior wall of the hangar. His symbiote was poised; having recovered enough to join in the battle and ready to move at a moment’s notice.
The dust started to settle and the residual effects of the flash bang of light began to retreat; letting the shadows of the hangar creep back into their proper places. A murky shape began to form as the thickness of the cloud began to thin out. The sailors were not foolish enough to believe that their collective assault had completely destroyed Gaap; especially not after everything that had happened up to this point. However; they were hopefully that they had at least stunned him or perhaps even rendered him unconscious. If that was the case; Sailor Moon could use the Silver Crystal’s power to cleanse Gaap’s presence from this world.
As the gentle breeze that flowed through the open hangar’s doors continued to dissipate the dust cloud; the sailors’ eyes filled again with renewed hope. Carnage’s desperate gamble had paid off. Gaap had shrunk even smaller. He appeared to be about six feet tall now and his wing span was probably just over eight feet. He was still on his knees with his clawed hands flat on the ground. His head was tilted downward and his eyes were looking at the floor so they could not see his face. By all appearances; it looked Gaap was almost completely drained of all his power. From their first encounter with him a couple of days ago to the current sight of their opponent now; this was quite a sight to behold.
Suddenly and without warning; Gaap sprang from his kneeling position and lunged towards Carnage. Even with the great reduction in his power and Carnage’s improved battle readiness; he still managed to cover the distance between them in a flash and get his clawed hand around his red-skinned neck.
The sailors had not been expecting such a reaction from Gaap so he caught most of them completely by surprise. He was acting much more feral and wild which made logical sense since he was no longer sharing a body with a human. Their resulting hesitation at his abrupt movement allowed Gaap to close the distance between himself and Carnage with absolutely no resistance from them.
With his clawed hand wrapped tightly around Carnage’s throat; he lifted Carnage off his feet in a display that showed that he still possessed a great deal of his demonic strength. Carnage’s feet hung loosely underneath him as his own clawed hands griped and slashed at the inhuman arm that held him up in the air.
“You have caused me enough aggravation! I will give you a front row seat to this planet’s demise!”
The demon’s body began to glow with an eerie red aura. Unlike before; this aura was not a sign that inspired hope in the sailors. The psychic vibrations it was emitting immediately alerted Sailor Mars to their true nature. Her body tensed up and became very rigid; giving a warning to the other sailors to be ready for anything.
The red aura grew brighter and turned a dark crimson in colour. Carnage continued his feverishly attempts to free himself from Gaap’s iron grip. He dug his finger claws into the flesh of the demon’s arm while the symbiote thrusted several organic lances that penetrated through Gaap’s thick skin as he swiped dozens of razor-sharp serrated blades at the demon’s body. Both halves of Carnage were trying anything and everything to get Gaap to loosen his grip around their neck.
Gaap’s tough outer skin had been noticeably softened with the drastic reduction in his overall power. This was allowing Carnage’s synthetic weapons to pierce it and cause a thick green fluid to seep from each of the wounds. This was the first time the sailors had seen their enemy bleed since his arrival on Earth. The sight of the dark green liquid began to fill the sailors with renewed confidence that they were going to win and stop this monster. However; that sliver of positive thinking was quickly overturned as they re-focused their attentions on figuring out a way to free their friend and team mate from Gaap’s desperate and hopefully last, counter offensive.
Their options were limited. They couldn’t use any of their energy-based attacks out of fear that they would hit Carnage while he was still in close proximity to Gaap. At the same time; the wild flurry of pseudo-skin weapons zipping through the air made getting close to Gaap, to either draw his attention or physically attack it very dangerous for them. Their only real option was to draw Gaap’s attention to themselves through verbal taunting in the hope that he would release Carnage from his grasp and attack them instead.
He turned his head and looked at Sailor Moon with a look of contempt that blazed in his ruby red eyes. He still maintained his tight grip around Carnage’s throat and even squeezed his fingers tighter which caused Carnage to start coughing. While the demon’s head was turned; Carnage continued to hack and slash at his body but the wounds been inflicting were not cutting deep enough to cause significant damage to it. If the demon felt any pain from the superficial cuts being obtruded across his body; he was showing no signs of it.
“Your armies will be here soon! Don’t you want to show your power to them by defeating me personally?”
The sailors immediately understood what Sailor Moon was trying to do. She was playing to the demon’s vanity by trying to goad him into a physical confrontation with herself. This would almost certainly cause the demon to release Carnage which would allow him to get to a safe distance to re-group with the others.
Gaap smirked at her. It was not a smirk filled with malice but one of cocky arrogance. He turned his head back to look at Carnage and his body language suggested to the sailors that he was choosing to ignore their presence. It was at that point that they realized that Gaap wasn’t going to take the bait. He was smart enough to see through Sailor Moon’s desperate ploy. This quickly put them back into panic mode as they frantically tried to come up with another plan.
As their minds raced with dozens of possible ideas; Gaap began to physically move which drew their attention back to him. He bent his knees and lowered his body close to the ground. The crimson aura around Gaap became as bright as a star which caused the sailors to avert their eyes while they adjusted to the intense glare. As he lowered his body; he raised the arm holding Carnage higher to keep his feet from touching the ground. This prevented Carnage from getting any leverage from the ground that he could use to break free of his grasp.
By that point; the sailors’ eyes had finished adjusting to the shine of the blood-red glow surrounding their enemy. They looked at his current body position with confused looks. What the hell was Gaap doing?
Sailor Mercury face flashed with a sudden sign of clarity. Her studies of mechanics; engineering and psychics had given her a clearer way of viewing the world. As she quickly studied the demon’s current body language; she immediately understood what he was about to do. She started to form a warning to the other sailors as Gaap began to move again.
“Guys! Charge Gaap now! He is going to…”
The remaining part of her sentence was cut off as Gaap pushed his body upwards and used the demonic strength in his leg muscles to increase the kinetic force of the overall movement. At the same time; he jolted the arm holding Carnage upwards as well. He released Carnage when his hand reached the apex of his vertical swing. The end result of his dynamic action was Carnage being launched straight up into the sky like a ball. However; due to his demonic strength and remaining magical power; Carnage was thrown through the roof of the hangar and disappeared completely from view with incredible force. After several seconds had passed; he had not re-appeared and none of the sailors had heard any sort of thud or indication that he had landed on the roof or anywhere close to the hangar. This realization greatly unnerved them and they each felt a new wave of panic immediately flood their systems.
“What did you do?” Sailor Jupiter demanded.
“Do? I did exactly what I said I was going to do. I promised your lover a front row seat to your planet’s destruction and that is what I gave him. Your friend right now is in outer space; orbiting around the planet. That is… if he wasn’t completely vaporized as he passed through the atmosphere!”
All the sailors gasped with utter shock. Their bodies became numb as the grief they all felt paralyzed their bodies and made them unable to move. The world around them seemed to fall away as they tried to comprehend what had just happened.
“Of course… if he did survive that; he mostly likely is dead by now. Since there is no air in space and your species has a rather important need for that; he is probably dying a slow and painful death as he struggles to breath.”
High above the thick black clouds that were situated above the city of Tokyo; a small human-shaped object continued its upward journey towards the heavens. Carnage was moving at the speed of escape velocity; which was approximately 11.2km/s. The high speed winds that he was encountering as he moved at such a speed; sheared and ripped at his alien costume, tearing pieces of it off as he continued to be rocketed upward.
As he passed through the exosphere; the heat generated by the invisible barrier that surrounded the planet as he broke through it burned away what remained of his symbiote. This left only the human body of Sean left. The scream that had he had started when he was first thrown through the roof of the hangar continued until the last bit of oxygen was gone and the concept of sound disappeared completely.
When he entered into the cold vacuum of space; he began to feel pain and suffering on an unthinkable level. He immediately felt the expansion of the gases within his lungs and digestive tract due to the sudden reduction of external pressure. He knew that if he could only exhale his lungs; he could avoid the painful death that was going to occur once his lungs ruptured and spit bubbles of air into his circulatory system. At the same time; direct exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation was causing severe sunburns on his now unprotected skin to occur.
In the absence of atmospheric pressure; the moisture in Sean’s mouth and eyes quickly boiled away as the water spontaneously converted into vapor. He felt the water in his muscles and soft tissues of his body begin to rapidly evaporate. This prompted some parts of his body to swell to twice their usual size in the few moments since his exit from the Earth’s atmosphere.
It was then that he felt the effects of brain asphyxiation begin to set in. After about ten seconds; Sean began to experience loss of his vision and impaired cognitive judgement. He couldn’t think clearly anymore as the panic and terror mixed with his rapidly dying brain mass. The cooling effect of the rapid evaporation of his internal body water lowered his internal temperature inside his mouth and nose to a near-freezing degree. He quickly slipped into unconsciousness as his body began to convulse as his blood pressure fell sufficiently and the blood in his veins and arteries began to boil causing the heart to abruptly stop beating. Several seconds later; a noticeable blue discoloration appeared on his skin became evident. Ninety seconds after being thrown in outer space by Gaap; Sean died all alone in the cold black shadow of the moon as his body passed through it.
“No! Bring him back” Sailor Mars pleaded as tears streamed down her cheeks.
Before anyone else could utter any other response; the air behind Gaap suddenly rippled as a wave of demonic soldiers appeared. The warriors were humanoid and clad in armour that covered their chest, back, shins and forearms. They all wore golden helmets with Gaap’s crest engraved in them. Each of them wielded one of three weapons: a long broadsword, a double bladed battle axe or a long curved scythe. Their faces were skeletal; the eye sockets completely black with no signs of life inside them. The little flesh and skin that could be seen on their skull bones seemed to be rotting away which exposed more of the bleached white bones underneath. The rest of the skin on their bodies showed no signs of decay other than being very pale in complexion. They were reminiscent of how vampires or zombies were often portrayed in old black and white movies. They were very ripped and muscular which only increased their threatening appearance.
“Sailors! Welcome to my world!” Gaap smugly announced.
“No! This ends now!” Sailor Moon replied sternly as she approached him.
When she was close enough; she put her hands to her chest and grasped the brooch that was clasped to the red bow in the center. She opened the small circular piece of jewelry to reveal a small spherical crystal that was embedded in its centre. The crystal floated out of its setting and hovered in the air in front of Sailor Moon. It was small and white. It was carved into a perfect sphere and was about the approximate size of a golf ball. The flashing white shine of the crystal emphasized the hard look that its owner was currently wearing. The expression on her face was one of pure determination and her blue eyes held a reflection of clear focus in them. She knew what she had to do and was prepared to accept any price needed to make it sure she was successful.
“No Sailor Moon! Don’t use the Silver Crystal!” Sailor Mercury called out in panic.
“You’ll die if you use it” Sailor Mars shouted.
Sailor Moon broke her focus for a second to regard her friends as she looked over her shoulder at them. The look she gave them told them that she knew exactly what she was doing and deeply appreciated their concern for her safety. Sailor Jupiter gritted her teeth as she felt utterly frustrated that it had come to this.
The Silver Crystal was the most powerful weapon the sailor team had in their possession. It was a crystal that contained an immense amount of magical energy and power. It had been suggested by some that it may also be the most powerful item in the entire known universe. However; to use such an incredible object required a very heavy price. The physical toll needed to wield the crystal was more than the human body could withstand. The sailors had only used its power in its entirely only once. That was the day they defeated the Dark Kingdom’s leaders; Queen Beryl and Queen Metallia.
The crystal was bound to the ancient Kingdom of the Moon; of which the sailors were also connected to. It was this association that meant that the crystal could only be used by a member of the Moon Kingdom’s Royal family. This restriction meant that only Usagi could use it and thus had to do this dangerous task by herself since she was the last surviving member of the Royal Family.
Sailor Moon turned her head back to look at Gaap and the growing battalion of un-holy soldiers appearing behind him. The other Sailors all exchanged looks with each other and nodded their heads as they all agreed to the plan that they had just mentally shared.
“Sailors! Protect the princess!”
They all scrambled to their feet and rushed forward as fast as their tired and battered bodies would allow. They all joined hands and formed a tight circle around Sailor Moon. They closed their eyes and slowed their breathing down so they could relax their bodies. They began to focus all of their remaining energy into the important task that they needed to do. One by one; they shouted to the heavens above.
Upon the completion of Sailor Mars’ announcement; a white shaft of light completely engulfed the group. This was the Sailor Soldiers’ protective shield which was created when the four sailor guardians combined their powers together. As the energy contained in the light solidified; long visible waves rippled across its surface like the surface of a lake. The light shaft was nearly transparent but still retained some visible properties that it could be seen by the naked eye. When the ripples in the light became less frequent; it was the signal that the shield was fully complete. Sailor Moon saw this and lifted the Silver Crystal up over her head and added her own proclamation.
“Moon Crystal Power!”
The crystal began to glow as its shine became brighter and brighter. Gaap’s expression changed as he saw what was happening. He began to show the first signs of worry or perhaps even fear. He spun his head to either side of him and looked at the mass of soldiers that were continuing to appear all around him. He turned back to look at the sailors and thrust his right arm towards them; his index finger and claw fully extended.
“Kill them now!” He ordered with a tone of desperation and rage.
The soldiers charged forward. Their weapons were raised and ready to slash and cleave the young girls in front of them to pieces. Within seconds; the demonic soldiers completely surrounded the young group of female warriors. They hacked and thundered the energy barrier with their weapons but the shield held up against their onslaught and showed no signs of buckling or cracking.
The crystal’s bright shine continued to grow but now it was emitting powerful thick rays of pure light energy. The rays moved in a curved arch from the left to the right. When the beams made contact with the demonic soldiers; they instantly crumbled into a fine dust. The rate at which the crystal was destroying the soldiers was faster than they were being replaced by the new arrivals that were passing through the dimensional rift. In a matter of seconds; the small regiment of soldiers that had been present only a few minutes ago had now been quickly reduced to a few straggling warriors.
“No! I will not be defeated by a group of weak human girls!” Gaap roared out in frustration.
He thrusted his arms forward as the dark crimson aura re-appeared around him. The energy of the aura shifted to a position in front of him. This created a powerful shield of negative energy. The snow white rays of light from the Silver Crystal washed over the red energy barrier were unable to penetrate through it.
Gaap’s face contorted into one of extreme physical exertion as he channelled all his remaining magical power into the red energy shield. Very slowly; the red shield started to push the white light rays back towards the sailors. He hoped that if he could push their attack back at them; the resulting concussive force of the feedback would break their concentration and cause their shield to crack and fall. This would allow him or his soldiers to kill them quickly before they could create another one.
“I will not let you destroy our world! A world filled with life and love. A world that is full of possibilities and opportunities. I won’t let your evil infect any more innocent people like James ever again. I will protect everyone!”
Sailor Moon made that announcement with a confidence and maturity that was well beyond her years. Upon completion of her vow; her body began to glow with an intense white aura that matched the power being emitted from the Silver Crystal. In an instant; the white aura flared up and caused her sailor uniform to magically transform into a long flowing white strapless gown. The dress had golden inter-locking circles that encircled the gown at the top and large spherical shoulder pads. A bright yellow crescent moon appeared in the center of her forehead and glowed brightly as the internal power of its wearer swelled up. This was the physical announcement to everyone present that Sailor Moon was no more; Princess Serenity had now taken over in the current battle.
Gaap unleashed more of his power and he continuing to push the white crystal energy back at the sailors. He strained against the backlash that his shield was projecting back at him as it strained against power of the Silver Crystal but he refused to surrender. He would not be denied his victory when it was so close to being in his grasp.
‘Please my friends… help me vanquish this monster!’ Princess Serenity mentally pleaded.
Her friends heard her request in each of their minds as the powerful bond of their friendships allowed such a gift to be bestowed upon them. Their eyes closed tighter as they concentrated even harder in order to give whatever extra energy they had left to Princess Serenity. Their shield dimmed slightly as the break in their focus temporarily affected its strength. Gaap’s red energy shield inched closer and closer as a result as it took full advantage of their momentary distraction.
The Silver Crystal began to radiate with a cascade of rainbow coloured flashing lights as each of the sailor’s individual energy contributions were added together. They coalesced together for a second before emitting a powerfully thick beam of intense white light energy directly at Gaap. The magically laser beam cut through the red energy shield with little resistance and struck Gaap square in the chest.
Gaap roared as the energy beam first engulfed him and then completely vaporized his body; much like what had happened to Super Beryl during the final battle with the Dark Kingdom. In less than a second; Gaap was no more. His final roar quickly faded away as it became more and more distant and drowned out among the various other sounds of the battle that was still in progress.
Once the laser beam was finished destroying Gaap’s body; it continued on and hit the area where the dimensional tear was located. The power of the Silver Crystal sent a ripple through the air that moved vertically and causing tiny sparks of white and blue light to jut out as the main beam moved upwards. To a blue collar worker; this sight would look like a blow torch as it welded two pieces of metals together. When the white energy beam reached its highest point; it pulsed and flashed in a quick successions of beeps and flashes. This was the sign that the dimensional rip had been permanently sealed and would prevent anymore of Gaap’s soldiers from crossing over into their world.
The crystal’s final act was to split the thick laser beam into dozens of multiple smaller rays of light. The rays moved in a circular pattern; rotating around Princess Serenity and the other sailors. Their purpose was to take care of any remaining warriors from Gaap’s armies that were still present around them.
The demonic soldiers tried to retreat as they realized that the battle was over now that their leader had been destroyed. Their cowardice was another fundamental flaw of all demons. Some of them ran as fast as their inhuman bodies would take them as they tried to put as much open space between the sailors and themselves while others took cover behind various objects to hide and wait for a chance to safely escape.
The crystal’s reach was not limited by mere factors such as distance or physical obstacles. It phased through walls and acted like an animal hunting its prey. In short order; it completed its mission by eliminating all of Gaap’s followers from the face of the Earth.
‘Thank you my friends… we did it… we won… I only wish… I wish Carnage could be here with us… to share in the love and beauty of this world that we all fought so hard to preserve.’
Princess Serenity let that final thought pass through her mind as the Silver Crystal finished its post battle clean up. When the crystal’s task was finally done; it quickly powered down and returned to its usual dormant state.
End of Chapter 13…
Chapter Fourteen: The Bond of Friendship
The sailors slowly opened their eyes and surveyed the after effects of their final and desperate offensive campaign. There were dozens of small piles of moon dust and twisted shards of melted metal scattered randomly across the area all around them as the only evidence left of Gaap’s warriors. There were no new soldiers appearing inside the hangar and the ear-splitting thundering sound was gone. It was now deathly quiet and the only sounds that were present were their breathing and the soft breeze that was drifting in from the open hangar doors. Through the windows located near the top of the building; they could see the morning sunlight that was beginning to pour in and light up the gloomy interior of the hangar. The thick black clouds that had been a constant presence since Gaap’s arrival were now rapidly disappearing which was allowing the sunshine to once again fall down upon the city. It was a sight that they had missed dearly and each of them couldn’t wait to get out and start enjoying it once again.
The sailors let go of each other’s hands which broke the energy input to their shield. The white shaft of semi-transparent light flickered a few times before finally quickly disappearing from sight. When it completely vanished; they all turned around to look back at Princess Serenity who at that moment was placing the Silver Crystal back into the central setting inside her brooch.
As soon as the crystal snapped back into place; Sailor Moon’s body went limp as the physical toll of her use of the Silver Crystal finally caught up with her. The white dress she had just been in disappeared as she fell backwards; leaving Sailor Moon in her sailor uniform once again. Her bright blue eyes began to fade and lose the usual luster they contained as her life force slowly drained from them. As she fell backwards; Sailor Jupiter reacted quickly. She caught Sailor Moon in her arms as she slowly lowered her body gently to the ground.
“Sailor Moon!” the sailors all shouted together.
Sailor Moon was unconscious and her breathing was very slow. Her skin colour was rapidly becoming very pale as her body’s energy continued to leave her corporal form. The sailors huddled all around her as they began to plead with her to wake up. Sailor Mercury and Sailor Mars each held onto one of her hands and squeezed them tightly in the hopes that it would achieve some sort of reaction from her. Mercury used her index and middle fingers to feel Sailor Moon’s pulse through her long white glove. As the sensitive nerves in her fingertips registered the pulses of Sailor Moon’s still beating heart; she could only whisper one word.
Each of the other sailors’ eyes abruptly enlarged and the grief that had been building inside them was now threatening to overtake their bodies. There was no explanation needed from Sailor Mercury as they all knew what she had felt as she continued to hold onto Sailor Moon’s wrist. Her pulse was faint and more than likely was getting weaker by the second.
Sailor Mars reacted to Mercury’s implied announcement with pure emotion. She lurched forward and grasped the top of Sailor Moon’s shoulders. She began to violently shake her which was a common response for a friend to do when another friend suffers a tragic event right in front of them. As she shook Sailor Moon; she screamed her name repeatedly as her usual reserved persona became completely shattered as she tried desperately to wake her friend up.
“Usagi! Hey Usagi! Wake up Usagi! Usagi!”
Sailor Venus knelt down by Sailor Moon’s feet and clasped her hands together in a traditional pray pose. Her bright blue eyes were open as she did not want to look away from her best friend in her time of need. She was afraid that such a move might cause her friend’s condition to worsen.
Sailor Jupiter remained on her knees behind Sailor Moon as she used her thighs to support Sailor Moon’s upper body. Her arms were lightly draped around her friend’s neck and upper chest in a tender and protective embrace. Tears of sadness raced down all of their faces as the feeling of helplessness swelled up inside them. All they could do was keep up their efforts and pray for some sort of response from their friend.
“C’mon Usagi, wake up…”
“You can’t leave us…”
“You did it! You saved the world… you can’t die now!”
“We can’t continue on without you…”
The sailors continued to look on as they kept up their hope that their friend would somehow respond to their desperate pleas. As the seconds proceeded to pass by with no change in her condition; the feelings of loss, sadness and numbing loneliness continued to grow inside each of them. They didn’t want to accept that they were going to lose their best friend right there in their arms but it appeared like that reality was going to occur whether they chose to acknowledge it or not. The sailors slowly lowered their heads as their eyes which were stained red from the tears that were still continuing to flow down their faces before falling down to the ground underneath them.
“Let me… try something…” A distant sounding voice said from seemingly nowhere.
The sailors all looked up with a renewed feeling of hope in their eyes. They expected to see their friend; Tuxedo Mask as he swooped down from an open window at the top of the hangar. They looked in all directions for any sign of their valued ally and friend and what he was about to do.
They feverishly scanned the surrounding area as a shimmer of white mist suddenly appeared close to where they were all kneeling. The light haze hovered about six inches above the ground as the flowing puffs of vapour swirled around its central body like a gentle tornado. The sight of the white fog immediately caused the sailors to think of and believe that it was another one of their former teammates; the Moonlight Knight, returning to help them.
During the time that the sailors had been fighting against the Doom Tree and its guardians Alan and Ann; a mysterious warrior had begun to appear during their battles. He had been dressed in a flowing white Arabian outfit with white flat shoes and a white turban. He wore a matching white mask that covered his mouth and nose. A short curved scimitar tucked into his thin black belt completed his ensemble.
When he had first appeared; Sailor Moon had believed it was Mamoru Chiba in a new identity. It was hard to not see the similarities between Tuxedo Mask and the Moonlight Knight. They were both about the same height and body stature. Their voices sounded almost identical and like Tuxedo Mask; the Moonlight Knight used roses as his signature weapon. However; it was soon revealed that Mamoru was actually not the mysterious new saviour of the sailors when they both appeared together during an altercation with one of the Doom Tree’s cardians in a virtual reality theatre.
In the final battle with the Doom Tree; the Moonlight Knight was shown to actually be a physical manifestation created by Mamoru’s mind. He was a corporeal representation of his internal need to protect Sailor Moon and the other sailors from danger that his brain had created. This was due to Mamoru’s internal struggle to regain his memories which had been lost when he had been reborn following his death during the fall of the Dark Kingdom. Unlike Sailor Moon and the other sailors who had been reawakened and had their memories restored by Luna; Mamoru had been on his own and contend with this issue by himself. Once Sailor Moon had successful cleansed the Doom Tree and its followers of the negative energy that had consumed them; the Moonlight Knight became reabsorbed into Mamoru’s consciousness as his need to exist was no longer required with the return of Mamoru’s memories.
The sailors continued to stare at the white rotating cloud that was near them. As they watched; the mist began to condense and solidify until it materialized into a human-shaped figure. They began to prepare themselves for the Moonlight Knight to appear but instead a bright reddish hue abruptly appeared in the centre of the figure. The red tint expanded out to completely fill in the figure’s body outline and mass. A second later; the smoke became completely solid and completely disappeared to reveal that the mysterious figure was actually someone that they hadn’t been expecting at all.
Sailor Venus and Mars immediately jumped up and threw their arms around him. In response; Carnage returned their hugs but was careful to not squeeze too hard as he knew that more than likely they had some tender spots as a result of the intense battle they all just had. He pulled his head back and gave them a small smile. Despite his somewhat frightening physical appearance; his smile eased some of the unbearable sorrow that still dominated both of the young girls’ bodies. He craned his head to the side anf looked past them towards the spot where Sailor Moon was lying on the ground.
He saw the pale complexion in her skin and the slow expansion and contraction of her rib cage. Now was not the time for celebrations; not when their dear friend was continuing to rapidly slip away from them. He gently brushed passed Mars and Venus to kneel down beside Sailor Moon. He took her hand from Sailor Mercury and held it for a second as he looked down at her for a second. He then lifted his head and turned to look at Sailor Mercury.
“How is she?”
“She is barely hanging on… she won’t last much longer…” She informed him and the rest of the group with a tone of complete helplessness in her voice.
Carnage said nothing in response but instead turned back to look at Sailor Moon. His large white eyes and mouth twisted into a look of concern for their friend that mirrored everyone else’s as he did so. He gently squeezed her hand as he hoped that she would be able to feel it and hear what he was about to quietly whisper to her.
“I heard your voice. You brought me back after I had died out in space. Now it’s my turn to save you…”
In an instant; the red symbiotic skin that made up his costume and granted him his superhuman powers began to ripple and swirl across his body. The sailors looked on as they were unsure of what exactly was going on or what Carnage was about to do. Sailor Moon was going to die within minutes and they had no way of helping her. No doctor or any modern medical treatments could help her since her ailment was caused by mystical forces. Even if a doctor could help her; there was no way that they would be able to reach a hospital in time before her heart finally stopped beating. Each one of them began to silently pray that whatever Carnage was about to do would be successful or the end result was just too painful for them to comprehend.
Carnage tilted his head upwards and closed his white eyes. His breathing became noticeably slower as he relaxed his body and cleared his mind of all unnecessary thoughts. These were movements that were often associated with experienced martial artists or monastery monks when they were focusing their internal energies or preparing their bodies for a long period of meditation. He still held onto Sailor Moon’s hand but he eased up on his grip as some of the life energy in his hand flowed into her central torso.
Sailor Mercury stood up and moved to the other side of Sailor Moon. She took her other hand and checked her pulse again by placing her index and middle finger on the side of her neck. It was difficult to feel her almost non-existent pulse through the fabric of her gloves but she pressed down deep enough with her fingers that she was able to feel the feeble sensation. It was still there but was considerably weaker than when she last checked it about two minutes ago.
“Hurry Carnage… she is almost gone!” She announced which immediately alarmed everybody present.
Carnage did not move or show any reaction to her statement. He maintained the current mental state he was in; not breaking his focus. The red alien skin that completely covered his body started to flow down his left arm and continued onto Sailor Moon’s arm that he was holding on to. It continued to move from Carnage’s body until it completely covered Sailor Moon’s body and left Sean’s body entirely.
Sailor Mercury quickly moved her hand away as the red organic material poured over Sailor Moon’s head. Sailor Jupiter remained where she was as she kept Sailor Moon’s body propped up on her thighs. She showed no visible concern that the symbiote would cover her as well as it just had with Sailor Moon. That belief proved to be correct as the symbiote remained solely on Sailor Moon and did not spread beyond that point. Once she was completely encased inside the symbiote; it stopped its migration and returned to its usual free flowing state of being as it moved across Sailor Moon’s body.
Almost immediately; Sean collapsed backwards and began to violently cough and spasm. His skin quickly became very pale and his eyes turned very sunken. The blue hue of his eyes began to fade away just like Sailor Moon’s had. For Sailor Mercury; who had been raised by a highly respected medical doctor for a parent, Sean’s appearance immediately reminded her of a person undergoing multiple rounds of chemotherapy and/or radiation treatments for cancer.
“Sean! Mercury… what is wrong with him?” Sailor Mars frantically asked.
“It’s the separation from the symbiote. His body is completely dependent on it! He can’t survive without it!” Sailor Mercury guessed.
“We have to get it back on him now!” Sailor Venus shouted.
“N…O…” Sean answered in a raspy voice in between coughs.
“We have too! You will die if we don’t!” Sailor Mars quickly countered.
“Not… until… Usagi… is… safe…” He replied before rolling on to his side and coughing up a splash of dark red blood.
The sight of his blood and the manner that it had presented itself intensified the panic the sailors were all feeling. Their current situation had now just become drastically worse. Two of their best friends were now at death’s door and they were still completely powerless to do anything about it. All they could do was re-new their hope and prayers that the symbiote would be able to restore Sailor Moon and be able to return to Sean before he succumbed to the separation sickness that was currently ailing him. They divided their attention between their two friends as they desperately tried to think of anything they could do to speed up the process somehow.
The symbiote continued to flow and ripple over Sailor Moon’s body which still completely encased her in its protective shell. It was twitching in random places which let the sailors know that it was also being affected by the sudden separation from its original host. Sailor Mercury briefly wondered if the symbiote was as dependent on Sean’s specific body chemistry for its survival as he was with the alien’s.
As the seconds continued to tick by; the symbiote remained on Sailor Moon’s body. They couldn’t tell what it was doing but it was a small reassurance to the sailors that the symbiote had not abandoned her yet. They held onto the belief that was due to there still being some signs of life still inside their friend.
Suddenly; Sailor Moon’s fingers on her right hand began to bend and straighten. It was a small movement and it was almost completely missed by Sailor Mercury; who was still knelt down beside her while waiting for some sort of response from eiher her or the symbiote. As she watched the fingers; Sailor Moon’s arm began to lift up and her left knee bent upwards slightly as the foot slide up along the ground towards her butt. These larger movements were not missed by the other sailors. However; they were hesitant to get excited as they did not clearly know the reasons behind them yet. Was it the symbiote or Sailor Moon that was moving these limbs? As they watched anxiously for an answer to their question; the form of Sailor Moon abruptly sat up in an action that caused Mercury and Jupiter’s bodies to jump as a result.
The symbiotic entity of Sailor Moon remained in its current sitting position with its hands flat on the ground to act as support for her body. The symbiotic tissue covering her long twin ponytails produced tiny tendrils that moved back and forth in a wave-length fashion; like snakes dancing to a charmer’s music. Huge white eyes appeared on her head and her mouth stretched outwards. Inside the large mouth; long black teeth sprouted from the jaws but no tongue appeared that the sailors could see. The red skin moved swirled and flowed in all directions as the red and black tones created a constantly changing mosaic of different patterns.
“What is it doing?”
“It may be attempting to bond with her!”
“It may have to in order to save her…”
“But what about Sean?”
“I… don’t… know…”
Behind them; Mars and Venus were becoming increasedly more panicked. Sean’s condition was declining at an accelerated rate. His body had broken out into a cold sweat as his skin became moist and clammy. His coughing was much more laboured now and he continuing to spew up large amounts of blood with each one.
“No! It can’t let Sean just die… we have to do something!”
“How do we get it to go back to Sean?”
Their answer was given as the symbiote skin began to retreat from Sailor Moon’s head and stopped its descent at the base of her neck to reveal her human face. Her eyelids slowly fluttered open to show that her blue eyes had returned to their usual brightness. The skin colour of her face was rejuvenated and had regained its normal pink-ish hue. This was a clear indication that her heart was once again beating normally and thus had stabilized her body’s natural internal circulation. Her breathing; from what they could see through the thick symbiotic skin appeared to be back to a healthy and steady rhythm as well.
It was at that point that the symbiote resumed its slow retraction as it moved down her torso and legs before leaving her body at her base of her left boot. When it finished leaving Sailor Moon’s body; she fell backwards as the sudden loss of the symbiote’s strength caught her by surprise. Sailor Jupiter; who was still positioned directly behind her, caught her in her arms and guided her safely back down to the ground. Sailor Mercury checked her pulse again and was this time relieved to see that her pulse was still remaining strong despite her sudden collapse. The temporary bonding and then separation by the symbiote had indeed just physically exhausted her and she was now simply resting as a result.
Meanwhile; the symbiote continued to slither across the short gap of open space between Sailor Moon and its original host before making contact with Sean’s body. In seconds; it rapidly expanded and re-covered Sean and soon reformed into the usual appearance of Carnage. Since the symbiote completely covered his body in such a fast duration of time; it was difficult for the sailors to see any noticeable improvements in his physical condition. He had stopped coughing which was the only good sign that they were eagerly clinging too. His large white eyes were open but without any other body language signs; it was impossible for them to know if Sean was conscious underneath since the symbiotic eyes never blinked.
As the sailors looked and waited for Carnage to recover; Sailor Moon opened her eyes and slowly sat up. Her body was still very weak from the Silver Crystal usage as well as the symbiote’s life-saving bonding with her. When she had finished fully sitting up; Sailor Mars leapt forward from her position beside Carnage and threw her arms around her which nearly knocked her backwards as she hugged Sailor Moon tightly. The other sailors wiped tears away from their eyes as relieved smiles appeared on their faces for the first time in days. Sailor Moon looked around at her friends and their tired happy smiles warmed her heart and filled her with a sense of inner happiness.
“We did it… we saved everyone!”
Carnage began to stir behind them. Raising his arms; he planted his hands flat on the ground which gave him support as he too moved up into a sitting position. He raised one of his hands and rubbed the back of his head and neck like he was trying to massage a headache away. The sailors had not yet noticed his recovery as they were all still pre-occupied with Sailor Moon and her miraculous revival.
“Hey pretty ladies! Can I get a hug too?”
Sailor Venus; Mars and Mercury all spun their heads around as more happy tears flung off their faces as they did so. Sailor Jupiter’s head jerked up as her green eyes swelled with tears of joy as well. She jumped to her feet and launched herself towards Carnage. She threw her arms around him and pressed the side of her head hard against his chest. Her eyes were closed but the tears continued to fall down her cheeks as she happily cried. She felt his body heat through the symbiotic skin and the scent of his body whiffed across the front of her nose. This made her hug him even tighter as she took in all the things she thought she would never experience again. It was a rare thing for her to show this much emotion in public; even among their friends.
As Sailor Jupiter curled her body up against Carnage’s; not breaking her hold around him as she did so, she seemed to regress in age. She appeared to be much younger than she actually was. As her friends looked on at this amazing tender visual that was occurring before them; a sense of warmness filled each of their hearts as they saw that their friend was finally truly happy which was something that she hadn’t been in many months.
Carnage held her tightly in his arms; feeling her body’s warmth and love flowing into him which made him finally feel at peace. He had the love of an incredible woman and the friendship of a group of equally extraordinary young ladies. They had just saved the world again and preserved the beauty of the planet for an unknown amount of time. He let a small sigh escape his wide mouth as he allowed himself to fully enjoy this moment of quiet contentment. He lifted his head and looked at each of his friends one by one; starting with his true love, Makoto. When he lifted his head to gaze over at Sailor Mars; something immediately caught his attention behind her.
In a doorway located across the hangar from them; an outside door was open and there was a person standing in its doorway. The morning sun’s rays behind them created a glare that made it near impossible to see the figure clearly. As Carnage focused his eyes on their mysterious spectator; his body started to tense up. His right hand that was currently flat against Sailor Jupiter’s upper back became slightly clenched and his shoulder muscles tightened up. He was careful to not scratch her with his finger claws as he flexed his fingers. His sudden and small changes in body language seemed to be completely missed by Sailor Jupiter who was still lost in the moment of complete awe that she was currently in.
In fact; none of the other sailors noticed these subtle changes except one. Sailor Mercury had caught herself staring intently at Sailor Jupiter and Carnage in their lovers’ embrace and silently hoping that one day she would be able to experience what Makoto was feeling right now. As she had continued to observe them; she saw Carnage’s white eyes enlarge slightly in what passed for him as a look of surprise. She then saw his hand close up somewhat against Sailor Jupiter’s back. She also saw his muscles across his body contract and tighten which was very noticeable since his symbiote was ‘skin-tight’.
She studied him and tried to determine what would cause such a change in his body language. In such a tender moment; such reactions were completely out of character for any normal person but especially for someone she knew so well like Carnage. She glanced at his face in the hopes that it would provide another clue as to what was going on. His large white eyes and head were facing straight ahead but gave no further indication to her if he was looking at anything specific. She turned around to look in the direction that he was facing with the thought that she might be able to learn what was Carnage was looking at by doing so.
A door at the far side of the hangar was open. In its door frame stood a shadowy figure. The glare created by the natural and artificial lighting behind them made it difficult to see any specific features about him. Sailor Mercury touched the blue earring stud on her right earlobe which activated her VR visor. As the semi-transparent blue screen appeared across the top part of her face; she switched on the night-vision mode of her visor. This immediately gave her a much clearer image of the figure standing in the doorway.
Their mystery observer was a middle aged man with a grey moustache. The man was dressed in an expensive looking double breasted suit and bowler hat. He was holding a thin black walking cane in his right hand. There wasn’t anything outright threatening about him and her sensors were not detecting any sort of glamour or illusion that would indicate a monster or remnant of Gaap’s army in disguise.
The man lingered in the doorway a little while longer and watched the post-battle celebration before backing up and disappearing from sight. When he was completely gone; Sailor Mercury relaxed her body and switched off her VR visor. It looked like nothing was going to occur following the man’s departure but something about him had invoked a negative response in Carnage.
Sailor Moon relaxed her body as well. She had seen Sailor Mercury turn on her computer visor which usually meant that there was something ominous nearby or an attack was about to occur. When her visor disappeared about a minute later and she issued no warning as a result; Sailor Moon breathed a sigh of relief as she guessed that it was nothing more than a false alarm.
She looked over at Carnage with her tired eyes that were still full of joy. Carnage must have felt her gaze because he turned his head towards her before pulling back his red symbiotic skin to expose Sean’s head down to the base of his neck. He locked eyes with hers and silently expressed a ‘Thank you’ to her. She gave him an expressive flash with her eyes that said both ‘Your welcome’ and ‘Thank you’ back. This silent exchange went unnoticed by the other sailors as they continued their quiet individual victory celebrations.
After Carnage and Sailor Moon reaffirmed their friendship and love for each other and their friends; his mind became filled with a feeling of impending sadness and internal frustration. He knew that soon he was going to have to make a difficult choice. For right now however; he wanted nothing more than to enjoy this beautiful moment with all of his friends.
End of Chapter 14…
Sean stood on the fenced-in rooftop area of the Azabu-Juban Municipal Junior High School. The afternoon sun was setting off to the west which caused the sky to become a deep orangey-red. It had been a bright and beautiful day earlier with a light blue sky that was filled with white fluffy clouds. He and the girls had taken full advantage of it by having a picnic in one of the local parks before doing some window shopping through Minato’s main shopping district.
The city officials had been hard at work all day as they began the extensive repairs of the damage caused by Gaap and his rampage through Tokyo. The local news reports and newspapers had been filled with the various stories of the sadness and misery his short time on Earth had brought. Several people who had lost loved ones during the chaos were interviewed and building inspectors were asked about the estimated financial assessments required to fix the damage to the multiple structures that had been structurally compromised.
It was very heart-breaking for the group of friends to see all of that and know that there was nothing they could do about it. The Silver Crystal granted only one wish each time it was used and Usagi had used it to revive Carnage when he had been killed by Gaap when he had been thrown out into outer space. All they could do was show support to any community events that related to the tragedy and not let the paralyzing guilt they all felt fully consume them. That was the point of today’s events; spending time with the people that meant the most to them in honour of the innocent people that had fallen.
When they had finally run out of money; they had all agreed to go back to their respective houses for a few hours so they could some time to themselves. They had planned to meet up later at the Atago Shrine to do some star gazing when it became nightfall. It was really an attempt by Usagi to spend some romantic time with Mamoru but she had included the others when they all gave her sarcastic looks after she suggested it.
Mamoru had felt especially guilty about not being involved in the final battle. He had been delayed in his arrival because he had been with some of his college friends at the time. He had tried to excuse himself but his friends wouldn’t let him leave so abruptly. He had finally been able to get away from them and use his mental connection to Sailor Moon to find them at the abandoned hangar.
When he arrived at the location; some of Gaap’s soldiers suddenly appeared as they ran out of the building. He had immediately engaged them in combat in order to keep them in the vicinity until the Silver Crystal energy rays destroyed them a few seconds later. He witnessed the rest of the clean up before deciding to let his friends enjoy their moment of victory as he disappeared into the shadows of the morning sun.
After they had departed; Sean had not gone to the hotel that he had checked into when he arrived in Tokyo a few days ago. He chose instead to walk around the city after dropping Makoto off at her apartment. He needed time to think about the man he had seen at the hangar. The man’s mere presence at the building could have meant only one thing; there was a new threat to Earth and he had been selected to fight it. The man; whose name was Alistair, was not known to show up just to congratulate any of the warriors he was associated with. He only appeared to deliver their next mission.
As he wandered through the streets; his mind and heart were at war with each other. His heart was telling him to stay in Tokyo and be with Makoto. His mind and by association; his sense of duty were saying the exact opposite. He had been given special powers and abilities that allowed him to do things that average humans could not. It was his internal sense of responsibility that compelled him to use those gifts for the greater good and protect those that needed his protection. However; it was simply not fair to Makoto and himself after they had just re-started their relationship and made solemn promises to each other.
He placed his hands flat on the chain-link fence that lined the edge of the roof area of the school and leaned forward; looking at the ground through the gaps in the metal links. He grasped his fingers tightly around the thin steel strands of the fence as he felt the inner frustration at how unfair life could be at times swell up inside him.
“Hey… what’s wrong?”
Sean let a small smile creep across his lips before he turned around. He was not surprised at all when he saw Makoto and their friends standing behind him. They all wore looks of concern as they could sense that something was seriously bothering him. Makoto stepped forward and approached Sean; who stood up straighter as she did so.
“What’s up Sean? Why are you up here all by yourself?”
“He is here because he is wrestling with quite a conundrum!”
The girls all spun around to see a middle aged man appear from behind the small stairway leading down from the roof. He held a thin black cane with an elaborate and decorative head piece on the top of it. He carried the cane like a hiker might carry a walking stick; lightly tapping the ground with the bottom of the cane as he walked. The man was dressed in an expensive looking navy blue bespoke suit and black bowler hat.
As he approached them; they could see a gold chain daggling from one pocket in his vest to another pocket in the side of his pants. At one end of the chain was most likely an expensive pocket watch if their many years of television had taught them anything. They caught brief glimpses of silver cufflinks on the sleeves of his white dress shirt as his arms swayed with his body movements. He walked with a swagger that was a little unsettling as his body language hinted that this man bordered on the cusp of being arrogant.
When he got within eight feet of the group; he stopped and moved his cane to a spot directly in front of him. He placed both hands on the head of the cane and stood with his feet shoulder width apart. His facial expression and overall appearance continued to project the representation of superiority and smugness that one might expect from a stereotypical old time aristocrat.
“The Sailor Soldiers I presume? It’s a quite a privilege to finally make your acquaintance.”
“Who are you?”
“And how do you know about us being the Sailor Soldiers?”
“Oh my apologies… you may call me Alistair. I am something of a liaison between the Powers That Be and the foot soldiers such as our mutual friend, Carnage. As to how I know about your other identities; tales of your successes against the Dark Kingdom are quite well known in the social circles that I am a part of. It was not difficult to observe a Dark Kingdom operation and see you five young women spring into action. From that point; it was fairly simple to use our vast resources to learn your civilian identities.”
“You’re the man I saw yesterday at the hangar!”
“You are correct Miss Mizuno! Part of my duty is to assess how current operations and champions under my supervision are proceeding in their tasks. From my personal observations; I must say that you Sailor Soldiers are quite an impressive team.”
A brief silence passed between all of them as the girls decided whether or not they should accept this mysterious stranger’s compliment. There was still something about this man that made them feel very uncomfortable. He seemed like the type of person to happily let other people do the hard work and then take an undeserved portion of any resulting glory or credit. As that thought passed through their minds; Rei’s eyes lit up as she came to realize why he was here and why he had revealed himself to them.
“You have another mission for him and are here to take him away, aren’t you?”
Alistair gave no verbal response to her question but gave them a smile that was almost a smirk instead. The other sailors’ faces reflected their understanding of the situation as they caught up with Rei’s observation. They all turned around to look at him. Her statement made logical sense to them; especially if you considered Alistair’s opening statement.
“What! No Way!” Makoto cried out as she spun around to look back at Sean.
Her eyes showed that she was clearly upset and on the verge of crying. Her facial expression was pleading with him to tell her that it wasn’t true. She pressed her hands flat on his chest as she leaned her body in towards him. The gravity of the conversation thus far and the scene playing out before them was also making the other girls visibly upset.
“You’re leaving again?” Usagi asked in disbelief. Her blue eyes were ablaze with emotion as her body became very rigid.
“He has too my dear. If he doesn’t; numerous innocent people will die needlessly and it all will be because of his selfishness!”
Minako and Rei looked over their shoulders at Alistair as their eyes narrowed into tiny slits. They were giving him a look that told him that he should watch his tongue by saying those types of comments or there was going to be a big problem. This man may know some things about them but he clearly wasn’t aware of their fierce loyalty towards each other. Alistair for his part; did not seem to be fazed by their scowls and intense glares. He instead continued to stand there; confident in his prediction of what the final outcome would be.
Sean looked down at Makoto who in turn; looked up at him. They locked eyes and stood in silence as they held each other in a tender embrace. The girls couldn’t see Makoto’s face but they were sure that she was silently pleading with him not to leave her again. Sean’s eyes; from what they could see, were clearly saddened and it was obvious that he was emotionally hurting inside just she was. When he finally spoke; his words were hesitant and full of grief.
“I have to go. You know it’s the right thing to do. I can’t let innocent people suffer just so we can be happy. It’s not who I am and it’s not part of the person you love.”
“But why you? Why can’t they send someone else?”
Sean took her completely in his arms and held her tightly against him. He could feel her crying as she buried her face into the front of his shirt. He held her in silence for a minute while the other girls continued to look on with sad looks on each of their faces. Makoto was usually the strongest one in the group; both physically and the most internally guarded. Seeing her like this was very surreal for them and they didn’t know how to react. It was at that point that Makoto pulled her head away from Sean’s chest. What she said next nearly floored Ami and the others.
“I am going with you. You and I are a great fighting team. We know each other and know how the other thinks. We can keep each other safe!”
“Mako-chan… your place is here with the other girls. You are all stronger together than separately.”
Sean gently pushed Makoto back; being very careful to not knock her backwards since she was emotionally distracted. When she was at arms’ length away from him; he placed one of his hands on the top of her shoulder and cupped her chin with the other as he gently lifted her head so that their eyes met. She at first didn’t want to look at him and kept her eyes cast downward. However; when he quietly called her name again; she found that she could no longer resist it.
“Mako-chan?” Her eyes slowly panned up and she looked into his blue eyes.
“You and I are a lot alike. We both won’t back down from a fight and we value the people dearest to us with everything that we have. I can’t turn my back on the people of this planet; not when I know I can help them.”
He paused for a few seconds as he let his words settle inside her. He knew Makoto well enough that he could clearly read her body language and almost literally read her mind. He could tell that she was beginning to accept that he was right. It wasn’t that long ago that they had been in a similar situation. She had left to go to the North Pole on a mission and he had been left behind. However; unlike last time, he was determined to let her know that history was not going to repeat itself again.
“I promise you… I will come back to you!”
Makoto’s face softened a little and a small smile appeared at the corner of her lips. It was her way of letting him know that she believed him and his promise to her. She took a step forward and abruptly spun around to take a position beside Sean. He responded by placing his arm across her back and hooking his fingers around the far side of her waist. He lifted his head to look back at Alistair; which prompted the other girls to turn around as well.
“After this mission… I am done! I will be a permanent defender of Japan only!”
Alistair pursed his lips together and his eyes glanced down; showing that he was seriously considering Sean’s terms. His demeanour changed a little as some of the confidence he exuded was taken away by Sean’s demand. He was silent for a minute before lifting his head again and focused his eyes squarely on Sean and the young brunette standing next to him. His facial expression showed that he was not at all happy with relinquishing some of the power he felt he was entitled to.
“As you wish … complete this final task and you will be charged with safeguarding the population of the country of Japan for the remaining of your days on this planet.”
The girls’ spirits immediately lifted with that proclamation. It was true that Sean was still leaving them but he would soon be back and would be with them for the foreseeable future afterwards. They were thrilled for Makoto as she would finally get to have a real future with Sean once he came back from this final mission. They all turned back around and took turns hugging Sean as both a congratulations for his ‘job promotion’ and as a well-wishing of good luck on his impending final task. As they were all embracing; Alistair loudly cleared his throat behind them which brought their attention back to him.
“Well… shall we go?”
“We are coming too! He is a member of our team and we want to see him off” Usagi proudly stated.
Alistair regarded her and her comment with a single raised eyebrow. He chose not to respond verbally but gestured with his left hand for them to follow him as he turned around. The girls took positions beside Sean and Makoto and followed him down to the luxury car that would take them to the private runway at Haneda Airport.