Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse
a Sailor Moon/X-Men crossover
Chapter 23: Answer the Call
Despite how the shrine was now occupied by more people than ever, there was a chill that hung in the air, which the rising sun did nothing to banish. As if the sobering sting of defeat they all felt – Senshi and X-Man alike – was heightened by everyone sticking around the shrine, not less, proving that misery truly loved company. The X-Men lost out on a potential new member, and the Senshi lost a good friend, possibly forever. This time, the X-Men couldn’t steer a young, troubled mutant from a dark path. Likewise, the Sailor Senshi, who saved Naru from their enemies so many times, ultimately couldn’t keep darkness from devouring their friend from within.
Worst of all, Haruka thought as she and Michiru climbed up the stairs, this had to be what Magneto and especially Erina Kizachi were banking on, before moving on with their plan. Strike a blow at all of our hearts through Naru Osaka. Despite knowing that on an intellectual level, it tore at Haruka’s heart all the same. Haruka wondered why she wasn’t just angry at Naru for viciously turning on the Senshi. She seemed determined to be their enemy now, so why spare a thought pitying her?
As they stepped up to the shrine, Haruka saw the reason why. Haruka caught a glimpse of Usagi’s flowing twintails as she rushed through the shrine’s front door. Yes, Naru’s latest rampage was different. Whereas before Naru attacked the Senshi and X-Men out of self-defense, disguised as Eclipse, this time she chose to pick a fight with them all. Threaten Usagi’s parents, ambush some of them before they could transform, kidnap her boyfriend and unleash her powers in the most violent, destructive ways possible.
Still, seeing how this all affected Usagi tempered Haruka’s rage. Oh, she was still plenty angry with Naru for putting Usagi through this heartache. Not to mention pounding her and Michiru in the process. Yet somehow, a twinge of pity for Naru mingled with her fury. Naru wasn’t some inhuman monster out to obliterate all life on the planet, just a girl with a horrible string of bad luck that led to horrifically bad decisions. Haruka aimed to make Naru own up to those bad decisions, but she wasn’t thrilled about doing so.
Haruka stepped inside and peeked into the first room she came across. Usagi was there with Kitty, Lockheed perched on her shoulder. They were helping Usagi’s family set up some things brought over from their home. Haruka scowled, not certain how to feel about this either. Actually, learning that Usagi CHOSE to not have Cable and Xavier wipe their memories vexed Haruka quite a bit. With everything going on, the Senshi didn’t need things complicated further!
What could have possessed her to throw away an opportunity to keep her identity a secret? Haruka wondered. Then again, despite how Odango seems to think with her heart and not her head, her decisions tend to be the right ones. For one thing, this makes it easier to keep tabs on the Tsukinos, in case Magneto or Kizachi get any ideas…
As Haruka watched, she couldn’t help but notice the awkward tension between Usagi and her family, especially her mother. It was to be expected, after having this bombshell dropped in her lap in the midst of this crisis Magneto and Kizachi were manufacturing. Whether or not this decision was the right one, Haruka had to admit it took courage on Usagi’s part, to not take the easy way out.
“I told you, Mama, I can’t promise you’ll know every time Sailor Moon is… needed to…” Usagi said, but trailed off. Haruka noticed Usagi spotted her out the corner of her eye. “Hang on a second, Mama,” she said suddenly, rushing toward the door, leaving her flummoxed, frustrated mother behind.
“So, you and Michiru decided to stick around here, too?” Usagi asked, shutting the door behind her.
Haruka nodded dully. “Right now, I feel safer in this shrine than at our house. Less… metal, for one thing,” Haruka said awkwardly. “Not to mention, I’m sure you’d like some extra pairs of eyes on your family until this blows over. If it ever does.”
Usagi looked back at the door. “Yeah, I heard you weren’t happy when they showed up. Another example of me not using my head, right?”
Haruka could tell Usagi was referring to more than just refusing to let Cable scrub their memories. “Usagi, no one’s blaming you for what happened with Naru, or how she attacked all of us,” she said quickly. “Naru made her own decisions. You did the best you could to reach her, but ultimately, she let her rage and grief rule her. From what I understand, that’s what Xavier saw happen with Magneto. He doesn’t blame himself for his former friend going bad. Neither should you.”
Tears welled up in Usagi’s eyes. “I figured you’d say something like that. B-B-B-But still… Naru going down this road is just what I’ve been afraid of! I thought I could keep Naru from doing that! I mean, Nephrite was about to turn before Zoisite’s youma got him. And the Ayakashi Sisters, the Amazoness Quartet… Why couldn’t we get through to our old friend!? Was Naru right!? Did we not pay enough attention to see things were getting so bad!?”
Haruka considered her answer carefully. Not too long ago, she would have vehemently shot that notion down. Being with Usagi had taught her a few things, though. “Maybe. Maybe this is what Kizachi was telling you about. Still, you can’t feel guilty for what are ultimately Naru’s decisions. She… got a taste of the darkness when she first put on that disguise and became Eclipse. You and the X-Men showed her she could be more, be something else, but... The lure of what she could do as Eclipse, unfettered… This may be who she truly is, just like Magneto, and there was nothing anyone could do for her in the end.”
Haruka knew she said the wrong thing when those tears finally dribbled down Usagi’s cheeks. “So at the end of the day, just focus on stopping the bad guys. That’s how it always is, isn’t it?” Usagi spat. “Is that all the Sailor Senshi are good for?”
“U-U-Usagi, what’s that supposed to mean?” demanded Haruka, confused.
“I don’t know, Haruka. I-I-I just thought, after meeting Xavier, hearing about what the X-Men are really like, their aim to make a world where humans and mutants can live in peace… Maybe it made me think the Sailor Senshi had the responsibility to try to do the same. Here, now. Not in a few centuries ruling from Crystal Tokyo.” Usagi snorted to herself. “I’ll say this, if this is Erina Kizachi’s goal, to make me doubt myself long before I ever become queen, it’s working. How can I guarantee a new era of peace when I couldn’t even keep my friend from going down the same road as Magneto?”
This admission made Haruka’s insides freeze. This girl had stood in her path time and time again, confident in her belief that the Sailor Senshi could thwart the Death Busters without what she saw as needless sacrifice. Now, that confidence was cracking, perhaps close to shattering. She didn’t even react when Usagi pushed past her, still crying. “Don’t worry, Haruka. When Naru shows up again, I won’t hold back so much. It won’t be a repeat of Mistress 9,” Usagi spat. “I’ll do my duty, but I won’t have to like it…”
Still rooted to the spot, Haruka looked over her shoulder to watch her go. Suffering a humiliating defeat at the hands of Erina Kizachi and Magneto was one thing. But now, to see the former’s plans to break Usagi down were working…
Usagi could be horribly naïve, and stubborn at times, but she had long since proven her worth. That she was worth listening to. To see her so ready to give up, so close to surrendering to despair…
Haruka realized something had to be done, and fast, or their new enemies would surely win.
But mostly, at the moment, Haruka just wanted to do SOMETHING…
Naru flipping out affected all the X-Men, but in different ways. Nathan cursed himself for not doing more in case Naru went bonkers. Ororo wondered if she should’ve tried ending the fight much quicker with a lightning bolt, rather than use the ploy with that swiped chemical weapon. And like Hank and Xavier, she was trying to figure out just what went wrong. They all were looking forward to seeing Naru in their classes. Seeing her reject them so completely stung more than they would admit. Kitty was looking forward to having a new gal-pal to train up. Given that she could speak Japanese perfectly, Kitty probably thought she was the best to help Naru adapt to a new life in America.
Actually, that wasn’t too far off from how Logan felt. After all, he always seemed to be taking some little lady under his wing. Kitty first of all, and later Jubilee. Logan could see the rage brewing within Naru, so much like his own. At first, he felt he could be a mentor in such a trying time, given how well he understood the Japanese. It could even be said he did the same when Rogue first joined the team. Logan remembered it like it was yesterday. Mainly because at the moment, he was pretty much doing the same thing as when he was forced to partner with Rogue. Namely, slap around some yakuza toughs until they coughed up answers.
Granted, he was doing it at a seedy bar known to be a yakuza hangout. In broad daylight, but Logan was in no mood to wait for darkness to fall. Days ago, he warned Charles against moving too slow in their investigation in Tokyo. He was righter than he knew. Mags’s new buddy Erina Kizachi was moving at a dizzying pace, now that her scheme to slowly wear down Naru’s sanity worked. Judging by what he gleaned from radio and television hours ago, the whole country was in a panic, wondering just how many more mutant kids would come out of the woodwork mad as hell. There was even talk of employing professional mercenary units, and Logan knew Kizachi’s Sentinels wouldn’t be far behind.
So digging further into Kizachi’s yakuza connections could prove fruitful. Besides, what better way to take his mind off his troubles than tackling a dozen of their mooks at once?
One of them came rushing at Logan from behind, a chair raised over his head. As if that would do anything to a guy with adamantium-laced bones. Regardless, Logan ducked and swept his legs once he was in range. He toppled over painfully, and in one swift motion, Logan turned back around and sprang up at another thug closing in. Two claws on Logan’s left hand popped out, both of them sliding past the sides of his neck.
“You and him attackin’ when a guy’s back is turned, bub?” Logan growled, his nose less than an inch from the terrified thug’s. He just stood there, fearing that final claw would rip through his throat any second. “Did somethin’ happen to everyone’s adherence to honor since last time I was here in Japan?” With a roar, Logan grabbed him with his other hand and hurled him onto the bar counter, his neck still in between his popped claws. Now those claws sank into the wood, effectively pinning him.
“Now then, you an’ me are gonna have words. I know you’re in the same yakuza outfit this Gai Izumi slithered back into,” Logan snarled, leaning closer. “So you must know some things. Namely, how he got your bosses to up the pressure on one Mayumi Osaka. And what he conned them into shippin’ into the Land of the Rising Sun all these months. And if you know anythin’ about Osaka gettin’ poisoned. And where I can find that little weasel Izumi.”
Of course, this thug would probably prove as tight-lipped as the rest, but it was worth a try. Anything that could point them to where Kizachi was assembling her death machines was welcome. And if there was any hope of winning back Naru’s trust, solving her mother’s murder could go a long way.
“I-I-I-I cannot tell you anything!” blubbered the thug. “I-I-If I betray anything, my superiors will kill me!”
Logan sighed, expecting no less. Thankfully, he had a reputation in these parts, and he knew how to exploit it. “Fine then. You just gotta ask yourself who you should be more afraid of. Your bosses, or the ‘gaijin’…” He let his middle claw emerge a little bit, just enough to poke skin and draw some blood. The thug yelped in surprise and fear, every ounce of willpower needed not to wiggle around and risk making that claw tip puncture his throat.
Fortunately for him, he soon received a reprieve. There was one other thug Logan hadn’t quite beaten thoroughly enough into submission. He charged at Logan from behind, brandishing a baseball bat. Though he said nothing, Logan could easily hear his approach. Sighing again, Logan twisted around, popping the claws on his other hand. They sliced the bat in two, and in the split-second the thug was stunned, Logan grabbed him by the hair and slammed his face onto the counter.
Logan watched him hit the floor, blood oozing from his broken nose. However, in the brief instant Logan’s attention was elsewhere, the pinned thug worked up the courage to shove him off. Now freed from Logan’s claws, he bolted for the door. Logan shook his head, about to give chase. But as soon as the thug stepped through the front door, he doubled over, as if hit hard in the gut.
“Who in the…” Logan began, but fell silent upon seeing Sailor Uranus grab the thug by the throat and push him back into the bar. Sailor Neptune followed her in, a look of impatience and disgust etched on her face.
Uranus picked him up by the neck and slammed him down onto a table. “Now then, I believe you were trying to leave without answering the questions this nice little man asked you so politely,” Uranus snarled. Neptune said nothing. Instead, she glanced around at all the thugs Logan knocked out, before turning her gaze back to the one Uranus was choking.
Logan snorted. “Can’t remember the last time the adjective ‘nice’ was used to describe little ol’ me,” he grumbled. “What’re you two doing here, anyway? Thought I made it clear I prefer to do this sort o’ thing alone.”
“You’re not the only one familiar with Japan’s underworld, Logan,” said Uranus.
“And you’re not the only one itching to actually do something, to vent some frustration,” added Neptune frostily. “Besides, our teams are supposed to be working together, correct? What say we actually DO that?” Meanwhile, the thug looked wide-eyed from Uranus to Logan and back. As if he couldn’t process the terrible notion of the gaijin AND the Sailor Senshi coming down hard on his yakuza clan, not after the havoc Eclipse caused. Neptune noticed this, and pounced. “As for you, I trust that being stuck between my partner and the ‘gaijin’, you’ll be a bit more cooperative.”
“Hey you bimbo, like I told this freak, I cannot say anything!” the thug spat back.
All this did was make Uranus clamp down on his throat tighter. “This ‘freak’, insufferable as he can be, has earned my respect. For one thing, he’s more durable in a fight than you’ll ever be, I’ll wager. Watch your tongue around him AND my partner, got it!?”
Neptune just let it roll off her back, her frosty calm returning. She strolled over to the table and bent over a little. “You’re worried about betraying your boss’s trust, losing face, not just your life. Admirable, but a bit misplaced. By now, it should be obvious that Gai Izumi has been playing you all. Weaseling his way back into the fold, only to coax your clan into prodding a hornet’s nest. A ticking time bomb of mutant DNA that blew up in your faces, while his aunt sits back and laughs at your clan’s plight.”
“Lady’s got a point, bub,” said Logan. “Whatever that punk conned you into doin’, it was obviously meant to backfire on all of ya.”
Logan could see it in the thug’s eyes. Between the fear of him and Neptune’s gentle prodding, he was starting to crack. Neptune must have seen it too, and pressed on. “I’m sure you’ll be forgiven for sharing information about current yakuza activities if it means that Gai Izumi, and the one he was truly working for, are made to pay for their misdeeds. This is one instance where the ‘gaijin’ would actually be doing your clan a favor.” He cast a sideways glance at Logan, who simply stared back coldly.
“Let me make this simpler,” said Uranus, pulling out her Space Sword. She slowly brought it up to the thug’s face, the tip pressing up inside one nostril. “You WILL be talking to someone before leaving here, that much is certain. But for the moment, you’ve got a choice. You either talk to Neptune and I, and I may or may not practice carving calligraphy into your skin with one blade, singular. Or you get to talk to Wolverine again, who’s got SIX razor-sharp adamantium claws thirsty for your blood.”
When the thug looked back to him, Logan decided to play along. He popped both sets of claws, making a show of scraping them together.
“Oh, and like Uranus said, this is a limited-time offer,” added Neptune. She held up three fingers. “And it expires in three… two…”
“YOU WIN, YOU WIN! I’LL TALK, I’LL TALK!” the thug shrieked, still struggling in Uranus’s iron grip.
Neptune smiled down at the thug, then looked up to Logan, still beaming. “See how much easier this is when we work together? This must be the sort of amicable cooperation the princess wanted to see, right?”
Logan sighed as he sheathed his claws. “Fine, whatever. OK punk, let’s hear where Gai Izumi’s been shacking up.”
“I-I-I don’t know that,” he said quickly. Uranus pressed her sword up against his face harder, yet it didn’t draw blood. “I’M TELLING THE TRUTH! Soon after the gaijin and his mutant horde fought you Senshi at the shipyard, he just disappeared! B-B-By the way, why are you Senshi working with the gaijin, anyway? W-W-What’s…”
“None of your concern,” said Neptune coolly. “What about Mayumi Osaka? Do you know anything about her poisoning? Someone in your clan trying to get to her daughter, perhaps?”
“No. I know of nothing of the sort being ordered, or even talked about,” he said. “Such a thing, accidentally killing her to get to her freak daughter would be… dishonorable anyway.”
That doesn’t completely rule out Izumi’s clan, but at least I’m finally getting somewhere, Logan thought. Maybe it was easy to forgive Naru since he could handle getting slapped around by her, but Logan still felt he owed Naru answers. He promised her mother would be protected. Having failed that, he’d settle for getting Naru justice, no matter what else she had to now answer for. “What about shipping in tech for the client Izumi hooked you up with? And how he convinced your bosses to lean on Osaka even harder?” demanded Uranus.
The thug tried to steady his breathing. Clearly, this was something he could divulge. “I-I-I don’t know much. B-B-But if you can guarantee that snake Izumi and whoever he was truly serving all this time will pay, I will tell all I know…”
As the sun continued its trek across the sky, it did nothing to warm Usagi’s face. She wandered aimlessly on the grounds right outside the shrine. For half the night, she had stayed up explaining everything there was to know about Sailor Moon to her family. That was it, no more secrets, no more deception going forward. Some said things got easier when the truth was laid bare. Perhaps, but laying it all out, admitting she had kept this from them all, was more painful than Usagi imagined. Worse, Usagi could sense a rift now with her family. They would never look at her the same way again. Who would they see from this point on, when they looked at her? Just the bumbling, crybaby schoolgirl, or the superhero liable to get herself killed?
Nothing will ever be the same again, Usagi realized as she walked around the back of the shrine. This time, we had to get other superheroes to help us fight off an enemy, my family doesn’t really know what to make of me being Sailor Moon, and Naru… Usagi immediately had to blink back tears. The way Naru came after her, unloading all her pent-up fury, showing in no uncertain terms that their friendship was over…
Worse still, that merely served as a microcosm for what was going on in Japan. The whole country just saw one of the most powerful mutants of a new generation go berserk, her faith in humanity shattered. Would other mutants her age follow her lead? Decide they had enough? And just how much more terrified would this make everyone else in Japan?
Probably scared enough so that Kizachi will have all the excuse she needs to use her Sentinels, Usagi realized, ice clawing at her heart. She remembered seeing that other mutant girl hauled off while everyone but Haruna Sakurada was cheering. Things were bound to get worse. It’s like… what would Ami call it? A positive feedback… ringaround something something…
It was then that Usagi thought she heard Ami’s voice. Looking up, she saw her walking back toward the shrine, talking with Dr. McCoy. For once, Usagi was envious of more than Ami’s intellect. She still clearly got a thrill working with her idol. Not to mention, despite the bombshell she dropped in her father’s lap, he still had that interview with McCoy to look forward to. Over the years, perhaps McCoy picked up some wisdom beyond his scientific genius, and it was rubbing off on others. If so, Usagi wanted in.
“I think we’re making headway on pinpointing weaknesses in this new Sentinel design, at least,” said McCoy.
“Let’s just hope Kizachi doesn’t make any modifications after her little field test,” said Ami darkly. Clearly, a good deal still weighed on her.
“True hope is swift, and flies on swallow’s wings…” McCoy began.
“Kings it makes gods, and meaner creatures kings,” Ami finished. “Trouble is, Kizachi could be one of those ‘meaner creatures’ Shakespeare was talking about. She must have some perverse sense of hope to let her scheme this long, plan so far ahead…” Indeed, the way Naru went after her too, vented to her face, cut Ami deeply as well.
“Perhaps. But even meaner creatures such as Nathaniel Essex and En Sabah Nur have schemed for even longer, and the X-Men thwarted them both,” McCoy pointed out kindly. “And this time, the X-Men have powerful allies in the field.”
“That’s… a good way to look at it. We’ll have another look at the scan data tomorrow,” said Ami, shaking his hand. Then McCoy began his trek back to the Blackbird, while Ami turned and spotted Usagi there for the first time. “Oh, Usagi, I didn’t see you there. Is everything… alright with your family now?”
“As alright as can be, given all the craziness going on,” said Usagi.
Ami sighed. “I guess you’re right. I don’t know how you worked up the courage to let them in on all this. I’ve been deathly afraid of my mother learning I’m Sailor Mercury. We see so little of each other, I wouldn’t want something like this to put a bigger wedge between us.”
“I just… saw how much pain keeping secrets can cause,” said Usagi. Ami’s face darkened, knowing exactly what Usagi was talking about.
“Trouble is, spilling secrets can cause some pain, too,” came Mamoru’s voice suddenly. The two girls turned to see him walking up to them, Luna in his arms.
“Mamoru? What’re you doing out here with Luna?” asked Usagi.
“Mostly keeping my distance from, well… Let’s just say your father still isn’t sold on us having a daughter one day,” Mamoru said anxiously.
“Other than that, I think things are as good as can be expected after you decided to reveal everything,” said Luna. There was no stinging disapproval in the cat’s voice, but still, Usagi could tell she wasn’t particularly happy about Usagi’s choice. “Your family is where we can keep a close eye on them, and they understand the danger to an extent.”
“Luna, I don’t really understand the danger this time. Then again, I never did,” said Usagi. Tears welled up again. “Back when this all started, if it wasn’t for you, telling me what I had to do… Please Luna, tell me you’ve got some idea of what Sailor Moon is supposed to do this time! Even if we do smash all these Sentinels, what’s to stop people in Japan from trying something else to stamp out mutants!?”
Luna hopped down from Mamoru’s arms. “Usagi, I-I-I-I… I don’t have any easy answers for you. This sort of thing, it’s not what the Sailor Senshi are meant for. We’re supposed to protect mankind from threats they otherwise would have no hope of combating. What’s going on now, with the tension building in Japan, mankind itself will eventually have to sort it out.”
“So that’s it. I guess Kizachi wins,” Usagi spat, still crying. “Someone’s finally figured out how to wreck this country without having to worry about Sailor Moon coming in and nuking them all…”
“Absolutely not, Odango,” came Haruka’s voice suddenly. Usagi turned to see Haruka walking up to them. “I’m not about to stand aside and let that scrawny little psychopath have her way. I’m not about to let YOU stand aside and let Kizachi have her way.”
“H-H-Haruka? What’re you…” Usagi began, but Haruka grabbed her by the collar of her shirt and hoisted her up to her face.
“Where’s the proud girl with convictions so strong, she tanked my attack and Michiru’s to shield Hotaru? Where’s THAT Sailor Moon, Usagi!?” Haruka shouted in her face. “Where’s the princess that showed Michiru and I we still had a thing or two to learn!? THAT’S the Sailor Moon, the leader, we need right now! I refuse to believe one ordinary woman, no matter how brilliant, figured out how to take that Sailor Moon away from us!”
Mamoru grabbed Haruka’s wrists, forcing her to set Usagi down. “That’s quite enough of that,” he spat. “Now then, was there a point to those theatrics?”
“Maybe I don’t have everything out of my system yet,” Haruka relented, shutting her eyes. “I figured helping our favorite gaijin force some answers from some bottom-feeders would let me blow off enough steam, but… Forget it, that’s not what’s important.”
“Then what is important, pray tell?” scoffed Luna.
“That Logan finally found information of use,” said Haruka. “It’ll get us all closer to the heart of Kizachi’s operations, but in the meantime…” Haruka looked around. Usagi wasn’t quite sure what she was wary of now. Perhaps she didn’t wish to be overheard by any others?
“In the meantime… What?” demanded Ami.
“Inside, all of you. Michiru’s gathered the rest of the Senshi. I don’t want any of the X-Men, or Usagi’s family, hearing about this,” hissed Haruka. Doubt grew within Usagi. The X-Men were their only real hope of stopping Kizachi and Magneto. Why shut them out now? Usagi looked to Mamoru, who merely shrugged his shoulders and followed Haruka back toward the shrine. Ami and Luna eventually relented as well, leaving Usagi little choice but to follow herself.
“So… Really Haruka, what’s this about?” Usagi finally worked up the courage to say as she followed her into Rei’s room. As Haruka said, the rest of the Senshi were waiting inside, uncertainty etched on their faces, even Michiru’s.
“To be honest, I don’t know,” Haruka admitted. “Like you admitted to Luna, I’m clueless about what we should do as well. All I know is that we MUST do something, and that ultimately, YOU must decide what that is. I’ve grown to respect you too much to let you crumble now, Odango.”
“In any case… Mamoru, you once worked in a television studio, correct?” Michiru asked suddenly.
Mamoru looked over to her, flummoxed. “Why, yes, I did. But what’s that got to do with anything?”
“It means you know you’re way around one, how things are run,” said Michiru. “Haruka and I, we’ve got, well, half a plan between us. But it will take all the Senshi working together.”
“And none of the X-Men interfering,” added Haruka. “If any of them get a whiff of what we’re cooking up, they’ll try to talk us out of it.”
“Something tells me they’d be right to,” said Luna dryly. “Given the track record you two have…”
“Which is why at the end of the day, it can’t be OUR plan,” said Michiru. “It must be Usagi who signs off and puts it in motion.”
“Puts what in motion?” demanded Usagi. “A TV studio, w-w-w-why would I…”
“Usagi, remember how I said it’s pure idiocy to bet against Sailor Moon?” Rei cut in.
Usagi blinked in surprise. She still couldn’t wrap her head around how Rei actually bet she would finish Xavier’s book. “W-W-Well yeah, but…”
“Well, Kizachi isn’t exactly an idiot. She knew what she was doing,” Rei went on. “She didn’t plan to deal with the Ginzuishou being fired at her. She was more concerned with breaking the person who wields it. What she was counting on was undercutting your true strength.”
“W-W-Which is?” Usagi asked hesitantly.
“Something that can make even cynics like Haruka and I realize we have a thing or two to learn,” said Michiru.
“Naru’s turned her back on us, but we’re not about to turn our backs on her, or the rest of her kind,” said Artemis. “Usagi, you have a way of making people believe things aren’t as hopeless as they seem. That’s what Kizachi and Magneto may fear the most.”
“They’re intent on causing enough strife in Japan to spark a genetic civil war,” said Michiru. “They know that if anyone can bring Japan back from the brink, through sheer force of will, it’s you.”
“So that’s why you’re asking Mamoru about the inner workings of a television studio,” said Luna. “You aim to get Sailor Moon in front of a camera, so she can plead her case to the whole country.”
“That’s the ‘half a plan’ I was talking about,” said Michiru. “What we do next, well, I have no idea. Haruka and I aren’t in the habit of thinking too deeply about what comes after a mission is complete.”
“But you, who’s to become our queen… That’s why it has to be your call, Odango. You’re our leader. We need you to lead us if we go through with this,” said Haruka.
Usagi stood there gaping at the two Outer Senshi, gobsmacked. It wasn’t like she was the greatest at crafting long-term strategies, either. There was a reason just about everyone could thump her in a game of chess. It was hard enough to be the leader when running around blasting away bad guys. This was completely uncharted territory for her.
As she stood there, trying to make sense of it all, Ami spoke up. “I say we do it.”
Usagi gaped at Ami, more confused than ever. “Ami, just like that? You say we jump in and…”
“It’s… something Berthier told me, the last time we played chess,” said Ami. “About the need to sometimes NOT overthink things, and make a bold move when it looks hopeless. I think now is one of those times.”
“Well, if one of the Ayakashi Sisters approves…” grumbled Luna.
“Come on, Luna! Berthier’s probably right!” snapped Ami. “Usually, the Sailor Senshi have to protect humanity from some sort of external threat. But the threat’s not just from Magneto and Kizachi’s Sentinels. The out-of-control fear and suspicion in men’s hearts are letting this happen. We can’t just blow something up and expect things to get better this time. This time, we have to make our case to the people, like you said.”
“I’m in too.” Makoto stood up off of Rei’s bed. “Anything’s better than just sitting around and waiting to find out where those Sentinels are. Let’s make some noise in the meantime, throw a wrench in the works…”
“Yeah! If Kizachi thinks she’s broken Usagi’s spirit, let’s prove her wrong!” Minako chimed in. “Plaster Sailor Moon’s face on as many TV screens as possible! THAT’LL piss her off real good!”
“And maybe, just maybe, Naru will finally see we won’t turn our backs on her. Ever,” added Chibiusa solemnly.
Usagi looked to them all, dumbstruck by the expectant looks in all their eyes. They truly thought of her as their leader, one and all, even the Outer Senshi and Rei. And they expected her to step up again, to do this crazy thing, try to save the people of Japan from themselves. Doubt still plagued her, though, and it would have been enough to squelch whatever hope might have remained, had Chibiusa not thrown in that last bit.
Naru, once her best friend. Now an unwitting pawn for Erina Kizachi, to hurt her in the cruelest way possible. If there was any hope of undoing it all, to keep Naru’s heart from turning completely dark, they had to do something. Something crazy, something unexpected. Go to extreme lengths to prove Naru and everyone else wrong. The Sailor Senshi would be there, always.
“Then before we get around to punishing the bad guys in the name of the Moon,” said Usagi weakly, “maybe we get to the love and justice part first.”
At the closest television station, it was a beehive of activity, in preparation for the nightly news. Not only on the set, but elsewhere. Thankfully, one of the places where there wasn’t an overabundance of people was the electrical room, which was arguably the Sailor Senshi’s most important target.
Still, the workers that lingered had to be dealt with. Jupiter let Venus handle most of it, since she was the stealthier one. Bashing some faces in… She would save it for those who truly deserved it. The Sailor Senshi weren’t here for that sort of thing. Rather, this was a desperate ploy to get through a lot of thick skulls, WITHOUT cracking them wide open.
One last worker in the electrical room was walking by, so Sailor Jupiter ducked behind a column. Dark as it was down here, the white of her fuku would stand out. He was calling out to his co-workers, wondering just where the hell all of them went to. Jupiter peeked out from behind cover just as Venus snuck up behind him. He wasn’t exactly a little guy, but the shock of being grabbed from behind, a hand clamped over his throat, bought Venus the time needed for her sleeper hold to do its job.
“That’s the last of them,” said Venus as she dragged the unconscious worker out of the way. “And by now, Mercury and Mars must be in position to take the control room. Now we can get you hooked up, Jupiter, and the rest of the mission is a-go.”
“Something tells me I’m not gonna like this,” grumbled Jupiter as she walked over to Venus. Venus was already ripping into electrical boxes, pulling out wires. “When the Outers talked Sailor Moon into this crazy idea of getting our side of the story out, being turned into a living electrical generator wasn’t what I pictured doing.”
“Know any other way to boost the power so that the feed cuts into everything, gets Sailor Moon’s face on just about every TV screen in the city?” Venus scoffed as she pulled out another sheaf of wires. “Come on over here. The sooner you’re jacked in, the better.”
“You sure you remember which wires Tuxedo Kamen and Mercury said needed to be latched on to my person?” asked Jupiter as she hesitantly walked over. “I don’t want to short out the whole building. Or myself. Or burn us all down.”
That cheery, optimistic smile on Venus’s face did not vanish. “C’mon, Jupiter, no sense worrying. Besides, as they say, nothing ventured, nothing sprained.”
Jupiter’s face fell. “Uh, I think you meant ‘gained’, not sprained…”
“Oh, they say that too,” said Venus dismissively as she slid a vest onto Jupiter. Something Ami and Mamoru threw together in less than an hour, literally with spare parts Haruka had back at her house. Theoretically, it would help channel the electrical energy of her attacks so that once the others secured the studio floor, the signal would be powerful enough to overpower all others.
Jupiter was a bit nervous about the ‘theoretically’ part.
Venus hummed to herself as she attached another sheaf of wires. At least she was keeping her spirits up. Perhaps it was because the Sailor Senshi were finally ready to DO something. Not wait around until someone figured out where those Sentinels were being slapped together. Not putting out brushfires set off by Kizachi’s machinations, like Naru going nuts. No, it was time to tackle the heart of the matter. The bad guys’ plans all hinged on passions boiling over. If Usagi could perform her usual miracle, truly get through to people’s hearts, that could possibly do worse damage than if they wiped out every single one of Kizachi’s Sentinels overnight.
Still, Jupiter had doubts. As she tried to tell Naru, she was no stranger to being alienated because of how others feared her. Being on the receiving end of such prejudice tended to make one a tad pessimistic about people’s better angels.
Then again, that’s not how Usagi rolls, Jupiter reminded herself. Come to think of it, neither do the X-Men. They’ve been through way worse abuse, and somehow they still believe their kind can coexist with the rest of humanity. Granted, at the moment, they probably wouldn’t approve of how we aim to bring that about... But Venus had a point. There was no sense worrying. Now, finally, there was a chance to act. “Any day now, Venus,” muttered Jupiter. “If I have to risk bringing this whole building down on top of us, let’s just get it over with.”
Meanwhile, on the studio floor, preparations were still being made for the nightly news broadcast. They were all completely oblivious to what was going on in the electrical room. As far as any of them were concerned, tonight was a night like any other, though with plenty of material to cover. Doubtless they were going to cover the rising tensions thanks to anti-mutant hysteria, and in such a way to exacerbate the problem, either inadvertently or by design.
For better or worse, tonight viewers were going to get a different take on the situation. Unfortunately for the news anchors and the television crew, that meant nudging them out of the way.
It began when the crews operating the cameras and the lighting noticed something odd. Namely, a purplish-black ball with a cat’s face and ears. It rolled into the middle of the studio floor, in between two camera stands. When one of the camera operators bent down to look at it, curious, it sprayed out a pinkish gas that knocked him out, and everyone else in the vicinity. The ball sucked the gas back in almost as quickly as it released it, though this meant that the news anchors themselves, along with their aides, weren’t exposed long enough to be affected.
As they gaped fearfully at the gaggle of snoozing studio workers, the ball rolled toward the set. But then, its trajectory veered away. Those still conscious watched as it rolled up to a pair of small, pink boots. They gasped as Sailor Chibi-Moon picked up the ball, smirking, then bounced it off the floor. With a puff of smoke, it transformed into what looked like a flare gun. Chibi-Moon aimed it at the news anchors and their aides, still smirking. “Over there, please,” she said calmly, motioning with her gun where to step aside.
Too nonplussed and fearful to refuse, they all trudged away from the set, watching Chibi-Moon and her gun anxiously. But then, their gazes went back up as more of Chibi-Moon’s team arrived. Sailor Moon stepped close to the set, flanked by Tuxedo Kamen, Uranus and Neptune. They could also see Mars and Mercury now in the control room, the latter hooking her computer into the studio’s systems.
Tuxedo Kamen went past the others, toward the cameras. He immediately got to work, readjusting settings and hooking up a different set of wires to one of them. “How long is this going to take, Tuxedo Kamen?” spat Uranus impatiently. “The studio’s security won’t be oblivious forever.”
“Don’t rush me, don’t rush me,” grumbled Tuxedo Kamen as he continued to adjust the camera.
“Uranus is right, though. The sooner we’re done, the better,” said Neptune. “Our aim is to complete our task without…”
There was a loud BANG, and they all turned to look down at Chibi-Moon. She had just fired her weapon. Fortunately, when they looked over to the staff huddled in the corner, they saw that Luna-P was now just a net launcher. Now they were all lumped together tightly in a ball, hopelessly trapped in a taut net.
“What? One of them looked ready to try something,” Chibi-Moon protested when they all glared back at her.
Sailor Moon sighed. “Nice way to show everyone else we haven’t gone bad ourselves, Chibi-Moon,” muttered Sailor Moon irascibly.
“A good number will brand us villains no matter how we handle ourselves in this studio,” Uranus pointed out. “There’s no turning back now. So turn that frown upside-down, Sailor Moon. You’re going live.”
Sailor Moon nodded dully, then slowly made her way onto the set. To think, she once dreamed of being on television, of being a star. A perfect example of being careful what you wish for. Those times seemed so distant now, when she would talk about that sort of thing with Naru. Hopes and dreams, the innocence of her earlier years, carefree times with her friend…
Sailor Moon shook her head. No, she couldn’t afford to be lost in despair now. That’s not the Sailor Moon people needed to see on their television screens. Sailor Uranus was right about WHICH Sailor Moon was needed now. And what she needed to tell the people of Japan.
“We’re all set in here,” came Mars’s voice, carried over the intercom from the control room. Mercury punched something into her computer, then looked up and nodded to Sailor Moon. “OK, Jupiter, it’s up to you. Let ‘er rip!”
The lights dimmed for a moment, and Sailor Moon could feel the whole studio rumble a bit. Not to mention, she swore she could feel the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end. She looked back to the window to the control room. Mercury gave a thumbs-up, meaning their ploy worked.
Looking ahead, Sailor Moon saw Tuxedo Kamen swerve the camera to face her. Also, Uranus and Neptune readied a series of poster boards. Everything she was going to say on camera was written in advance, for which Sailor Moon was grateful. She sure didn’t trust herself to come up with what to say on the fly, even though Uranus and Tuxedo Kamen insisted that speaking from the heart was what was needed.
“OK, Sailor Moon, this is it,” said Tuxedo Kamen. “You’re live in three, two, one… GO!”
Sailor Moon took a deep breath, and read from the first poster Uranus held up. “Good evening, people of Tokyo. I don’t think I have to tell you who I am. Sometimes you may hear me refer to myself as a guardian of love and justice. But with what’s going on today, I’ve started to seriously think about what it means to be just that. You may not understand what it is that I do, what sort of enemies I protect people from, but I’ve been shown a good deal of trust all the same. And in all this time, I’ve never asked for anything in return. But now, there’s something very important I need from all of you. I need you to open your hearts and listen very, very carefully…”
Even while on the other side of Tomoyo’s huge room, Kero’s shouts as he kept at whatever video game he was playing could be heard loud and clear. This was usually the case whenever they visited Tomoyo. Typically, he only stopped when sweets were served.
Then again, at the moment, Tomoyo was proving even MORE annoying. After that girl Naru Osaka went on a rampage, Tomoyo wouldn’t shut up, thinking aloud about whether or not Sakura Kinomoto should go after her using the Power Card. Who would prove stronger? If she could shrug off attacks from the Sailor Senshi, could this mutant girl also resist the power of elemental cards like Windy and Fiery? And of course, Tomoyo talked about catching all the action on film.
“Of course, if you’re going after Naru Osaka, I’ll have to sew up a new costume for you,” beamed Tomoyo. “It would have to be something special. After all, you’ve never used your cards to go after a mutant before…”
“And I told you, I don’t plan to!” snapped Sakura. “Capturing the Clow Cards was one thing. Chasing after mutants going bonkers… That’s what the Sailor Senshi are here for, right? Let them handle it.”
“But she got away from them, and the X-Men too,” Tomoyo pointed out. “If they can’t find her, maybe we should try. And oh, the footage I could get of a mutant in action…”
“No way, Tomoyo. I don’t want you in a five kilometer radius of Eclipse,” said Sakura quickly. From what Sakura heard, Naru absolutely hated normal humans now, blaming them all for the death of her mother. She had gone from rescuing people trapped on a monorail car to terrorizing them all.
And the worst part was, Sakura could kind of empathize with Eclipse, having lost her own mother. Nothing about this girl before she got mutant powers made it look like she’d ever flip out like this. Were mutants just bad people in general? It seemed silly to think that, and when Sakura asked her father why everyone hated mutants so much, he said it was complicated.
Lots of things were complicated, but to Sakura, persecuting people for how they were born… But how to solve this, to keep mutants like Eclipse from going off the deep end? Tomoyo was adamant that she use her cards to do something, but what? At the end of the day, she was still just a kid. How was she supposed to solve a worldwide problem like this?
“But Sakura, this would be your most insane adventure yet!” Tomoyo protested. “As your friend, I simply must…”
“I’m telling you Tomoyo, there’s nothing I can do,” said Sakura. “If Eclipse and her boyfriend disappeared like that, they don’t want to be found. Let them be. Besides, this is bigger than one Japanese mutant going crazy. How am I supposed to…”
An infuriated cry from Kero cut Sakura off. The two girls rushed over to the television set. “Kero, what’s wrong?” asked Tomoyo.
“Something’s wrong with your TV!” cried Kero. “I was just about to get the high score, but then…” Suddenly the static faded, and Sakura gasped. There, on the television, was Sailor Moon herself!? The three of them watched in stunned silence as Sailor Moon began to speak. “Hold on, is that really her? How’d this cut into my game? What’s going on!?” demanded Kero.
“She… wants something from us?” Tomoyo wondered aloud.
“You have every right to be scared of mutants like Magneto, and for more reasons than you think,” said Sailor Moon. The way she delivered all this, so confidently… Sakura wondered if she ever came off as half that confident when dealing with the weirdness in her life. “What’s going on in Japan right now is exactly what both supervillains like Magneto and people who hate his kind want. Trying to start a war between mutants and the rest of humanity, believing it’s inevitable. And they don’t care how many innocent lives get caught in the crossfire. And to make it LOOK like a war is the only solution, they’ll play on our basest emotions, the worst parts of ourselves. Stoking our despair and our fears. That’s why this time, the Sailor Senshi can’t save the world on our own. I need all of you to think long and hard, with your hearts as well as your heads…”
Tomoyo and Kero watched on in shocked silence. As for Sakura, as Sailor Moon went on, she succeeded where Tomoyo failed. Sailor Moon convinced her that she had to do something. That she COULD do something.
Night had fallen, and something told Yusuke Urameshi that it was time to hit the beat. How weird it still felt. Him, the infamous juvenile delinquent, out on patrol with his team, like a bunch of cops. Or, more accurately, detectives.
To heighten the irony, when he glanced at the window of a shop along the street, his slicked-backed hair really stood out in his reflection. He could easily be mistaken as some youth recruited into a yakuza clan. Not that he ever needed such strength behind him to make poor sods piss their pants. And besides, being in such a clan basically meant you had a target on your back these days, with that weirdo mutant girl Naru Osaka landing scores of them in the hospital.
Of course, now that chick’s got extra reason to be pissed, seeing how one of those yakuza jokers probably poisoned her mother, Yusuke mused. If any of ‘em tried that shit with my mother, I’d beat their asses too! And I ain’t the only one… Yusuke looked over to Kurama. Compared to what Kurama had done to fools who threatened his ‘mother’, what Naru Osaka did was downright merciful.
Where did Eclipse disappear to, anyway? Would she ever be back? Yusuke was always up for a good fight, but tackling that girl wasn’t exactly something he was eager to do. Thankfully, none of his cases his team was on pointed to her, or any of her fellow mutants.
Mutants… Yusuke wasn’t sure what to make of them. He was ostracized most of his life because of his actions, his own decisions. He was a bruiser, and proud of it. But mutants didn’t ask to be born with those weirdo powers, the trouble they could cause. To be hounded like that girl because of the way she was born, even when trying to do good? Having to practice with powers of his own made Yusuke empathize with Eclipse further.
As Yusuke mulled over the whole ‘mutant problem’, he heard Hiei say, “Hey, since when did that broad get her own show?”
“What broad?” demanded Kuwabara. “Hang on, is that really her? On TV!?”
Yusuke stopped in his tracks and turned around. They just passed a shop with televisions in the window. On each one, Sailor Moon’s face was plastered, speaking to them all. “If things don’t change, things will get worse, and a war that could destroy everything we hold dear WILL happen,” she said pleadingly. “Look at what’s happened with Naru Osaka, someone very, very dear to me. All she wanted was to protect her mother from gangsters, and didn’t hesitate to save complete strangers, even if it meant outing herself as a mutant. And how was she repaid? She was shut out, spat upon, and then someone took her mother from her. Well, we saw what that led to, didn’t we? How many more young mutants are we going to drive into the arms of people like Magneto, just because they’re born different?”
None of the four said anything as Sailor Moon went on, merely listening. With the way Sailor Moon laid it all out, given how this involved the corruption of human spirits… Even if there was nothing supernatural going on, they knew this was still their concern.
Meanwhile, unnoticed by the four, a girl was standing behind them, wearing a yellow sundress. A hat with a wide brim partially hid her smirking face, but not her long, turquoise hair. She watched Sailor Moon’s message in silence along with the boys. Until, suddenly, she shot straight up into the air, flying into the night sky and out of sight.
It was just a normal evening at the Tendo dojo. So normal that, once again, Happosai was chasing Ranma Saotome after dousing him with cold water, transforming him into his female self. Eventually, Ranma got fed up and stood his ground, tackling the sleazy old man in midair. This sent them tumbling into the living room where everyone was watching television. Whatever was on, it had everyone’s undivided attention. They didn’t even blink at their sudden intrusion. Eventually, however, Akane put an end to the fight by bringing down her heavy, wooden mallet onto both their heads.
“Will you two knock it off!?” huffed Akane. “This sounds important!”
“Damnit, what sounds so important!?” groaned Ranma, looking at the television. He didn’t know what to expect, but he sure hadn’t anticipated seeing Sailor Moon on the evening news. There was a determined, yet pleading, look in the girl’s eyes, speaking solemnly to them all.
“Oooooh, what a cutie!” croaked Happosai. “Is she asking us to join her to save the world? I’m game, if it means…”
No one got to hear what Happosai expected in return, not after Ranma grabbed him by his head and chucked him through a wall. With that annoyance out of the way, he could focus on whatever it was Sailor Moon was on television for.
“We’ve seen what happens in other countries when fear and bigotry against mutants rages out of control. Sentinels marching through the streets would just be the beginning,” said Sailor Moon. “I refuse to believe the country I’ve defended for so long is going down the same road. I won’t let it happen, but I can’t stop it alone. How many of you feel the same way I do? Are there enough to you who refuse to give in to fear? And more importantly, are there any willing to stand with us?” she went on, pointing at the screen.
Everyone else in the dojo seemed unsure what to make of Sailor Moon’s pitch to the people of Tokyo. Ranma, on the other hand, was intrigued. He looked down at himself, at the very big reminder that he himself was different, thanks to his Jusenkyo curse. He learned to live with it, albeit reluctantly, yet mutants had a much rougher time with the abilities they were cursed with at birth. Sailor Moon was asking for help, to stop things from getting worse until it was all-out war. As if daring those brave and noble enough to fight alongside her.
Ranma looked back up to the television, smirking. His father wanted him to push his martial arts training further, didn’t he? What better opportunity, or better cause, would present itself than coming to the aid of Sailor Moon to stop a war?
One would think that after returning from their second trip to Cephiro, life would return to some semblance of normalcy for the three Magic Knights. Of course, in hindsight, that was wishful thinking. Well before that fateful day at Tokyo Tower, the Sailor Senshi and whatever weirdo enemies they fought had already started appearing. And sightings of the Senshi fighting yet more weirdo creatures continued for some time, well after returning from saving Cephiro from annihilation. Now, mutants were thrown into the mix.
Umi Ryuuzaki sighed as she walked through her family’s mansion, carrying a tray of snacks back to her bedroom. Fuu and Hikaru were spending the night, and they were fixing to watch a movie. Naturally, the three of them stayed close, to the point that Umi insisted she go to Hikaru and Fuu’s school after passing her entrance exams.
In the meantime, current events weighed on their minds. This time, it looked like they retained their magic upon returning to Earth. Should they use it? And how? What was there to do when people seemed intent on ripping their country apart out of fear? Even the Sailor Senshi seemed baffled about what to do. One day they were fighting those X-Men tooth and nail, the next they were practically side-by-side. It’s ridiculous, Umi thought to herself. We get things in Cephiro patched up, but somehow things in our own world are falling apart, and everyone who should be doing something seems clueless!
As these questions nagged at Umi, she walked back into her bedroom, expecting to see the movie about to start. What she saw instead made her drop her tray out of shock.
“I won’t lie to all of you, there are dark times ahead for Japan yet again,” said Sailor Moon. That confident delivery… She HAD to be the real thing! “The Sailor Senshi have never backed down from this sort of thing before, and we won’t start now. But this time, we’ll need all those willing to open their hearts to rise up with us.”
As Sailor Moon’s words sank in, Umi called out, “Fuu, Hikaru!? Where are you two!?”
Umi heard soft footsteps behind her. “I believe Hikaru is downstairs, Umi. What’s the matter?” came Fuu’s calm voice. The polar opposite of how Umi now felt.
“Get her up here. I think Hikaru will want to see this,” Umi said dryly. There was no point in trying to keep this from Hikaru. Everyone would be talking about this tomorrow. And knowing Hikaru, she would jump at Sailor Moon’s call, just like she did when she first heard of the Magic Knight legend. The three of them would be dragged into yet another mess, but as Umi watched Sailor Moon some more, she now knew it was something they had to do. This time, it was their own world at stake.