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Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse - Chapter 23
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 th
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Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse - Chapter 22
Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse
a Sailor Moon/X-Men crossover
Chapter 22: Dealing With the Fallout
“No, I’m not saying you should wait a while before seizing this opportunity. Far from it,” Erina Kizachi said into the phone. “Just make sure you don’t come off as an opportunist, Seto. This is the sort of incident we’ve been waiting for: a teenage mutant right here in Japan going completely bonkers. Property damage, hospitalized police officers, a kidnapping…. We got it all. Play this right, and we’ll galvanize the whole country into action. More importantly, I’ll be able to pitch Kizachi Technologies’ Sentinel program by the end of the week. Same for some of the measures you’ve been floating.”
Erina hoped enough of their marriage was still intact for her husband to pick up on the subtle cues in her voice. Things had already taken an unfortunate, unexpected turn due to one family member getting sloppy. Granted, Seto was
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Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse - Chapter 21
Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse
a Sailor Moon/X-Men crossover
Chapter 21: Youth Gone Wild
It was a pounding like no other. Not just smashed by a tree swung by someone with the strength to chuck cars like volleyballs. No, the deed was done by someone Sailor Moon once considered a friend, confided in. Yet somehow, despite all that, Sailor Moon wasn’t down and out, not completely. She stirred in Ikuko’s arms, the haze of pain gradually fading, the miraculous durability and endurance of a Senshi once again proving hard to overcome.
Ikuko glanced down, seeing Sailor Moon slowly get her bearings, still not quite believing the revered superhero cradled in her arms was also her daughter. “THAT’S what all this was about!?” shrieked Ikuko, glaring back up at Naru angrily. “You felt Usagi owed you something because of how you CHOSE to do what you did with the monorail?”
“Plus what she DIDN’T do,” Naru retorted. “And a couple things sh
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Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse - Chapter 20
Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse
a Sailor Moon/X-Men crossover
Chapter 20: Total Eclipse of the Heart
Haruka shuffled through the papers Minako just handed her as they all stood in her garage, Michiru looking over her shoulder. After taking a moment to skim over them, she looked up to Minako. “So these are all the assets Nephrite had during his stint as Masato Sanjoin. Shell companies, investments, bought-up real estate, everything,” said Haruka. “I don’t get it. Surely all this stuff was liquidated after his death, and aside from his stake in Kizachi Technologies, none of it had any real significance for the Dark Kingdom’s machinations. Why is it relevant now?”
Minako sighed. She was sure Haruka would see the reasoning. It was easy to forget the Senshi of Wind was more about motion, about freedom, then stopping to ponder a mystery. Ami chimed in for her. “The possibility occurred to me when Naru erupted in rage, blaming us for Nephrite’s dea
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Evil Test Tube Face by Greyman101 Evil Test Tube Face :icongreyman101:Greyman101 1 0 Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats as original X-Men by Greyman101 Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats as original X-Men :icongreyman101:Greyman101 5 0 Complete Displayed Figure Collection by Greyman101 Complete Displayed Figure Collection :icongreyman101:Greyman101 15 8
Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse - Chapter 19
Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse
a Sailor Moon/X-Men crossover
Chapter 19: Day of Decision
Sailor Moon rubbed the bridge of her nose, shutting her eyes tightly as she shook her head in frustration. Upon opening them again, she looked back down at Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus. Just dropped off in their own backyard, wrapped up in yellow-and-black striped metal bars. Luckily for them, their little encounter with Magneto didn’t short out their communicators. Really powerful magnetic fields could do that, right? It didn’t matter. As it was, Sailor Moon was even less willing to dwell on sciencey details than usual. “Tell me, Dr. McCoy… Is wrapping people in metal bars a mutant thing, or is this just some new kink Haruka and Michiru keep trying out?”
“Very funny, Sailor Moon,” grumbled Uranus. Even with the only light afforded coming from the stars and a half-moon, Sailor Moon could see her exasperated face. Neptune’s wasn’t much differen
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Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse - Chapter 18
Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse
a Sailor Moon/X-Men crossover
Chapter 18: Fatal Attractions
With a little more telepathic trickery from Cable, Mamoru got Ami and Mayumi into his car without anyone noticing, then drove them to Meiwa University Hospital. Thanks to the growing darkness afforded by the setting sun, Ami was able to sneak Naru’s mother inside once they arrived. It was also fortunate that, for once, Ami could actually get hold of her mother. Normally, Saeko Mizuno was extremely busy. It was a minor miracle her mother answered the phone at all. Once Ami explained why they needed her, Saeko put all her other plans for the evening on hold to treat Mayumi. She barely knew Mayumi, but her being the mother of a good friend of Ami’s was all she needed to hear.
Ami and Mamoru stuck around, providing assistance as needed while Saeko secretly treated Mayumi in an examination room she set aside, with explicit instructions not to be disturbed. Saeko knew she couldn’t risk
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Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse - Chapter 17
Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse
a Sailor Moon/X-Men crossover
Chapter 17: A Touch of Evil
When Kitty saw what remained of the track crumble and the monorail car plunge, she felt so helpless standing there in midair, and feared the worst. Even with the three of them, they couldn’t act fast enough to get everyone out, and now Logan was trapped on that thing! Hadn’t they been trained to be better than this!? But then, she noticed tendrils of black ooze had wrapped around it, and more were shooting down to further secure the monorail car. Its plunge had stopped, and slowly but surely, it was creeping back up.
“Oh Naru, please… Oh no,” Kitty muttered as she turned back to the crowd. Naru had dug in her heels, quite literally, and anchored herself with even more tendrils. Understandably, everyone had stopped gaping at the girl standing on thin air, and the blue furry guy latching onto the other side of the safety fence with bare feet. While Kitty felt relief that t
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Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse - Chapter 16
Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse
a Sailor Moon/X-Men crossover
Chapter 16: Off the Rails
Rei’s eyes slowly fluttered open as the early rays of dawn crept into her bedroom. This previous night and the last had, mercifully, given the Shinto priestess restful, dreamless sleep. Which was surprising, given all that had happened to the Senshi, and the tough times that doubtlessly lay ahead, despite having new allies. Never mind how said allies proved their worth by locking horns with the Sailor Senshi, battling them all to a standstill. That is, until Usagi and the X-Men’s founder showed up and told them to knock it off.
She still had mixed feelings about Usagi’s arrangement with the X-Men. Their Blackbird was still hidden behind the shrine. One of the most dangerous superhero teams from the other side of the world, practically camping in her backyard. Rei hated to admit it, but she still found that a little disconcerting. Still, in hindsight, getting help from those who fought
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Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse - Chapter 15
Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse
a Sailor Moon/X-Men crossover
Chapter 15: Bridge Building
“So I couldn’t let up, even though I knew you Senshi were hot on my tail,” said Naru, finishing her tale of the night she threw on the disguise that would later get her dubbed Eclipse. “I figured the police in the area might’ve been bribed, so I couldn’t go to them. Even if they weren’t… Why bother? The yakuza are so entrenched everywhere, probably nothing would’ve been done. And I figured if the Sailor Senshi had any interest in stamping out yakuza operations, they would’ve done it already. Besides, I still wasn’t entirely sure Usagi was really Sailor Moon, and even if I was, well… I just wasn’t willing to trust anyone else.” There was the clear, unspoken implication of still feeling Usagi let her down, made her feel left behind. Usagi couldn’t help but feel ashamed. “So since I had these powers, I decide
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Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse - Chapter 14 (2/2)
Sailor Moon looked around at them again. Jupiter was sitting where Storm and Wolverine had been, willing her anxiety down, but Sailor Moon could tell the heartbreak from finding out who she lobbed lightning at was still fresh. Chibi-Moon, Mars and Venus were speaking with Storm and Wolverine, looking quite crestfallen. It was the same story with them. Lastly, she saw Tuxedo Kamen stood beside Xavier and Cable, who still watched over Naru, as if they could somehow sense something despite her resistance to their power. “Professor, the genes Naru received from Nephrite… The power’s quite unlike anything you would have encountered before, and even the Sailor Senshi still don’t fully understand it,” said Tuxedo Kamen. “And the powers she has naturally… Sailor Moon’s put a lot of faith in you, and I’ve always marveled at your work, but can you honestly say you can help her friend?”
“I will do what I can, Mr. Chiba,” said
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Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse - Chapter 14 (1/2)
Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse
a Sailor Moon/X-Men crossover
Chapter 14: The Secret of the Ooze
“The… X-Men?” Naru said softly, almost in a whisper. “Y-Y-Y-You’ve met their leader, you know who he is?”
“Yeah, I sought him out because, well… Like I said, Naru, I have no idea how I’m supposed to help mutants,” said Sailor Moon. The two of them still stood on a skyscraper rooftop, barely a block away from the hotel where Xavier had reserved rooms. So close now, to getting Naru the help she needed and then joining the Senshi at the shipyard. “But he’ll know what to do for you. My dad… He was there when the X-Men first fought Magneto, saw what they could do. They were just teenagers back then too, but they drove him off. Xavier’s trained a mutant who controls the weather, Naru! Think what he can do for you…”
Naru looked uncertain, conflicted. At least her ire from moments before was melting away
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TMNT Arcade - And It Works! by Greyman101 TMNT Arcade - And It Works! :icongreyman101:Greyman101 2 6
Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse - Chapter 13 (2/2)
Chibi-Moon ran from one container stack to another, hoping her small size and constant use of cover would let her slip by. Luna, Artemis and Luna-P tagged along right behind her. Looking up, Chibi-Moon still saw the storm clouds rushing overhead. The seas still churned, and powerful winds carried mist that sprayed everywhere. But for the moment, it looked like Storm herself wasn’t patrolling the skies around the barricade. That was a relief. She was arguably the most powerful of all the X-Men, and perhaps the most dangerous. Still, despite studying the X-Men during history lessons, it was beyond belief how their collective power was more than enough to turn back all of the Sailor Senshi. Hadn’t the Sailor Senshi faced teams of bad guys much tougher than these mutants? What was going on?
Luna echoed her sentiments. “How can this be happening!?” the cat grumbled. “There’s eight Senshi, eight of them watching over the barricade… Even odds, and non
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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.
Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse
a Sailor Moon/X-Men crossover
Chapter 22: Dealing With the Fallout

“No, I’m not saying you should wait a while before seizing this opportunity. Far from it,” Erina Kizachi said into the phone. “Just make sure you don’t come off as an opportunist, Seto. This is the sort of incident we’ve been waiting for: a teenage mutant right here in Japan going completely bonkers. Property damage, hospitalized police officers, a kidnapping…. We got it all. Play this right, and we’ll galvanize the whole country into action. More importantly, I’ll be able to pitch Kizachi Technologies’ Sentinel program by the end of the week. Same for some of the measures you’ve been floating.”

Erina hoped enough of their marriage was still intact for her husband to pick up on the subtle cues in her voice. Things had already taken an unfortunate, unexpected turn due to one family member getting sloppy. Granted, Seto was way smarter than Gai, but he was still prone to fouling up at the worst possible time. No wonder politics suited him so well.

At any rate, his position and influence were still crucial. This was something she had in the works in the wake of their daughter’s death, and Seto was completely ignorant of her true goal.  Thankfully, Erina had successfully nudged him the desired direction for well over a year. Stirring up just enough anti-mutant resentment here and there in public, while maneuvering behind the scenes in the House of Councillors for when it was time to reveal her Sentinel program to a government desperate to assuage a fearful populace.

And now, thanks to Naru Osaka finally snapping, that time was soon. Her Sentinels would be unleashed, and they would leave Usagi Tsukino’s heart permanently shattered in their wake.

“Those who were ready to take Yoshida’s side after that interview will be forced to eat their words now, that’s for sure,” replied Seto. “Very well, dear. I’ll be making the rounds on the evening news as soon as I can. Indeed, we must strike while the iron is hot. What about things on your end? Are the Sentinels anywhere near close to being combat-ready?”

“As close as they’ll ever be,” said Erina. “Let’s just say I had a… unique opportunity to test them under actual combat conditions against superpowered beings,” she added with a nasty grin.

“A pity you can’t clandestinely use one to smoke out this little monster,” said Seto. “Unchecked mutants could very well be the reason that tree grew out of control and killed our little girl. It’s a wonder no officers had to leave the park in a bodybag.”

Erina shut her eyes. Of course, her husband was dead wrong about the nature of the tree that decimated the Juban Odyssey building. It was merely a ploy to get Seto to go along with her scheme. Amazing how useful a little twisting of the truth still proved. Still, if he only knew the irony behind what really happened...

“There may be a chance for that yet,” said Erina. In fact, one facet of the next phase of her plan involved sending out another Sentinel, but the timing would be delicate. “For now, we have to make sure all is in readiness before we pitch our little program.”

“Worry not, I’ll be on it as soon as I hang up. Love you,” said Seto, a click following his words. Erina couldn’t suppress a snort. Ever since Erika died after being caught in the crossfire between Sailor Moon and one of her nemeses, their marriage became frayed. Blaming each other for Erika’s death. Granted, of the two of them, Erina knew most of the responsibility was on her, yet the bulk of the blame lay elsewhere. And soon, it would be time to make Sailor Moon painfully aware of that.

Erina hung up the receiver and glanced at the television in her main office again. Gai was down in her secret office, watching the monitors until she could get down there tonight. She couldn’t go home to her condo, not with the X-Men and Sailor Senshi liable to take out their frustrations on her in the wake of Naru Osaka’s rampage. Still, the cameras she clandestinely placed in key areas of Tokyo also fed pertinent discoveries to her computer up here as well. In fact, there was a meeting in her office today that had to be abruptly ended once she got the alert. Funny how at times she could still get so wrapped up in her old life, running this business, only to be abruptly reminded of the only thing that mattered now.

A most welcome sight greeted Erina once she brought up the feed. Naru Osaka cutting loose with her powers in the most dramatic, destructive way imaginable. News bulletins on the television followed soon thereafter. In fact, once her camera was covered in frost, watching the live feed from news copters was the only way to see what was going on. Granted, swirling snow around that school’s roof hid most of the action. When Storm’s blizzard died away, however, Erina saw Naru teleport herself and Umino away.

Erina chuckled to herself again. Naru wasn’t a super-genius like her herself, or even Dr. McCoy or Ami Mizuno. But she was a crafty little girl nonetheless. All that time, making the Sailor Senshi believe Naru Osaka and Eclipse were two different people. And then, keeping her budding teleportation ability hidden until she really needed it. Enough snow and wind faded when Sailor Moon and her group arrived at the school’s roof. The way Sailor Moon fell to her knees, sobbing as her fellow Senshi broke the news, warmed Erina’s heart beyond belief.

This was the culmination of over a year of careful planning. Stirring up anti-mutant sentiment, mostly through her husband. Using Gai to steer his yakuza clan toward jobs that would both speed along the construction of her Sentinels, while ensuring Naru Osaka would wreak more and more havoc. First as a vigilante hunting yakuza, and then when she became disillusioned with the path of a hero.

“If it wasn’t for the unfortunate death of your mother, Osaka, I’d say you should thank me. For helping you see the truth,” Erina muttered. That did threaten to spoil the mood. Her scheme involved Gai manipulating his yakuza associates to harass and intimidate Mayumi Osaka, thus nudging her daughter further and further down the desired path. To see her die when it was almost said and done because of Gai, after how carefully he orchestrated so much else, left a foul taste in her mouth.

Still, perhaps it couldn’t have been avoided. Her plan was dependent on Naru Osaka’s descent into darkness. There was simply no other way to drive a dagger through Sailor Moon’s heart. She endured seeing her love captured and brainwashed, then watching as her friends got picked off one by one, yet none of that broke her. But to see a close friend turn to the darkness of her own free will, to be forced to fight her… THAT was something Usagi Tsukino never faced before, something she would never expect. Many would insist the bonds of friendship were a weakness, but that was only if you knew where and how to strike.

And at last, through Naru, she struck a near-fatal blow in just the right way. As she watched a replay of the helicopter feed, and saw Sailor Moon collapse to her knees again, Erina let a low laugh escape her lips. She had waited for this moment for so long, planned so carefully… Now that it was here, she intended to savor it.

Granted, her work was not complete. For one thing, Erik Lehnsherr would certainly not be pleased. Any hopes of Naru actually joining his cause went out the window today. It was clear Naru was simply out for herself at this juncture, wanting nothing to do with Magneto, the X-Men and especially the Sailor Senshi. The Master of Magnetism would have to settle for Naru causing an uproar fanning the flames of hate and distrust in Japan like never before. Furthermore, there were her Sentinels, and using them to create an even greater rift. As Japan descended into chaos, and Sailor Moon was forced to watch helplessly, only then would her revenge be complete. Sailor Moon’s heart was broken now, but only then could Erina ensure it was shattered to pieces forever.

In the meantime, Erina contented herself with knowing she just made Usagi Tsukino’s heart ache like never before. Low laughter kept echoing in her office as Erina watched the news feed, smiling the whole time.

Kenji paced restlessly in the living room, only half-listening to the news broadcast. It was mostly repetition of what had been relayed before. Which would only feed into the hysteria already gripping the people of Tokyo. It shamed Kenji to realize that the sort of paranoia so prevalent in the United States was finally taking hold in his own country. Before he left America after that fateful day the X-Men and Magneto first appeared, he heard whispers on the buses, in the airport. Wondering just what to make of these X-Men, and mutants in general. It wasn’t long before the X-Men started to be viewed with suspicion, much to Kenji’s dismay.

Bad enough things had been building to this point these last few months, but now, something else plagued Kenji’s thoughts. Ever since that day, Kenji always wondered if one of his own children would be a mutant. Now he realized nothing could have braced him for the truth. He knew he should feel proud. His daughter, all this time, secretly one of Japan’s heroes! He had hoped Usagi would one day step up, show initiative. To find just how much she did…

But now, as Kenji glanced at the television again, he didn’t know what to feel.  Seeing Usagi forced to fight her friend was bad enough. A worse blow came when Kenji saw Sailor Moon break down on television. It was only a brief glimpse from a news copter, but that was enough for Kenji to see just how heartbroken she was.

I always thought… Seeing the X-Men here in Japan again, it should be uplifting, Kenji mused as he glanced at the television again. Dr.  McCoy, Storm, the Wolverine and the Shadowcat… He recognized them all. They stood alongside the Senshi, looking just as flabbergasted when Naru vanished, spiriting away Umino with her. Then Sailor Moon came and broke down upon hearing the bad news. Shingo and Ikuko were glued to the television as well. What was going through their minds? Besides utter disbelief, that was.

Eventually, the evening news finally showed something different. Ikuko gasped upon seeing Usagi’s old English teacher trying to get away from reporters. For some reason, she was rubbing her neck. “No comment, you goddamn vultures! Do you hear me!? NO COMMENT! Go find someone else to badmouth mutant kids!” Haruna roared, before she actually shoved the cameraman and the feed went to static.

Then they cut to footage from the other side of the world. Kenji recognized her instantly, having written articles on her. Rui Saionji, the tennis star, and an old friend of Naru’s from what Kenji could recall. She was playing internationally at the moment, and a reporter in France asked her something. Kenji’s French was rusty, but it was definitely a leading question, to get something negative about Naru out of Rui. Rui simply held up a finger, silently asking for a second. Then she opened up the case for her tennis racket, took it out, and swung at the reporter. The feed went dark again. “At least some people won’t give up on friends so easily,” Kenji grumbled.

Ikuko shot him a strange look. She wouldn’t easily forgive Naru, if ever, but it weighed on her heart, how all this affected Usagi.

“Usagi will find her, right?” Shingo asked hesitantly. “I mean, she’s smoked out worse, and those X-Men… Papa, you’re always going on about how good they are. They’ll help her out, right?”

“They’ve set aside their differences, at least,” said Kenji. Beyond that, he wasn’t sure what to say. What was there to say? His admiration for the X-Men didn’t extend to cheering them on as they rushed into battle with his daughter.

“Setting aside differences…” muttered Ikuko. She looked back to the television, then buried her face in her hands, sobbing. “Oh, I can’t believe this! No wonder Usagi exploded! Those things I said before… I-I-I-I must’ve sounded so foolish to her! A-A-And now her friend’s gone completely insane, egged on by that sort of talk!”

“You couldn’t have known, dear,” said Kenji. “How could any of us guessed she was actually Sailor Moon this whole time?”

“I’m her MOTHER, Kenji!” cried Ikuko. “Mothers are supposed to figure out these things about their daughters! And this little girl who barely made it into high school somehow went out… superheroing under my nose this whole time!?”

“Well, in hindsight, maybe the hair should’ve clued us in…” Shingo offered.

“At any rate, those two friends of hers didn’t tell us much,” grumbled Ikuko. “There’s gratitude for you, after we return their car and cut them loose from Naru’s gunk.”

“It doesn’t matter. Usagi promised to tell us everything, remember?” Kenji reminded her.

Ikuko shook her head, still crying. “W-W-What if she doesn’t want to come home? What if she’s too afraid to face us?”

“Yeah. maybe she’s got this secret base on the Moon or something!” cried Shingo. “She’d BETTER show me that, the big dummy…”

Kenji didn’t know what to say. It dawned on him how much of a mystery Sailor Moon really was to the people of Japan. Just WHAT secrets would their daughter reveal? Did she have the courage to tell all? Did they have the courage to hear it?

A shrill, howling wind right outside interrupted Kenji’s thoughts. It soon caught Ikuko and Shingo’s attention, too. They all looked to the sliding glass door leading to the backyard. Leaves and dirt swirled around, and fog rolled in just around their house. Cover, Kenji realized. Then, just as he expected, Storm slowly lowered herself to the ground, holding onto Sailor Moon with one arm and Sailor Chibi-Moon with the other.

Ikuko was on her feet and sliding open the door before Storm’s feet touched the dirt. “Oh, my baby!” she cried as she scooped Sailor Moon up in her arms. “Naru didn’t get her hands on you again, did she!? Are you still hurt from before!?”

“Please, Mama! Not in front of other superheroes!” Sailor Moon protested, wriggling free.

Ikuko glanced anxiously over at Storm. Ikuko had to know who she was, and what she could do. No doubt she summoned that blizzard over the school. Despite knowing how awkward her presence was, Storm turned to Sailor Moon and asked, “Usagi, would you like me to stay and help… explain some things?”

Sailor Moon stared at Storm for a moment. Clearly, she wanted a little help to make this go smoother. “I-I-I-I’d like that, Ororo. But for now, I think it’s best to keep this ‘in the family’, so to speak…”

“Is that so? I hope you’ll reconsider, Ms. Tsukino. Otherwise, I will have had Nathan bring me all the way out here for nothing,” came another voice from above. They all looked up to see Cable levitating himself down, but he brought someone else with him. A bald man, who also looked to be from the West. Curiously, Cable was also levitating a wheelchair made mostly of clear plastic.

“Professor!?” cried Sailor Moon. It was odd to hear Usagi speak to an educator with such… reverence. “Why are you here? Aren’t there bigger problems than, well, some family troubles?”

“Considering that telepathy and Cerebro are still proving useless in tracking down Naru Osaka, and I’m having no luck locating Umino’s thoughts either, I believe this may be a better use of my time,” said the man as Cable set him gently down in his wheelchair. “Besides, since you’ve chosen to explain everything to your family, I decided they are trustworthy enough to learn about your newest allies. Especially your father.”

“What? Why would Kenji…” Ikuko began, then something dawned on her. “Y-Y-You… have something to do with the X-Men, too?”

“A very big something,” said Chibi-Moon.

“Indeed. I am Professor Charles Xavier,” he said. “I founded the X-Men.”

Kenji just stared at him in disbelief for a moment. This man confined to a wheelchair put together the team that took down Magneto time and again? Of course, if he was a mutant too… “Wait… You said you’re a telepath?” he asked delicately.

“That’s correct,” said Xavier. “I helped Nathan paralyze everyone in that park with my power, and purge their memories. Save you three, on Usagi’s insistence.”

“So… you know what we’re thinking? Right now?” asked Shingo nervously.

“No, I don’t use my power recklessly, and I’ve learned how to control it over the years,” said Xavier. “That’s the whole purpose of my school and the X-Men, to teach mutants to control their powers and be an asset to mankind.”

“And if you don’t mind, the two of us need to be getting back to that,” said Cable gruffly.

“Usagi, if you want any help later, if you need someone else to talk to… Please don’t hesitate to call on me,” Storm pleaded. Sailor Moon took Storm’s hands in hers and nodded, tears in her eyes. There was some strange bond forming, between these two leaders of superhero teams, Kenji could sense it. He also saw some pain in Ikuko’s eyes. She sensed it too, and it tore at her, how this stranger understood their daughter in a way they never could.

Storm backed away, along with Cable, and suddenly swirling winds picked up again. She let her winds carry her up and away from their house. Cable followed, using his telekinesis the same way, just as the fog faded away.

Kenji and Ikuko kept looking up as the two X-Men faded into the night sky. They looked back to Sailor Moon when a fierce glow went off in their peripheral vision. In a flurry of glowing flower petals that soon faded to nothing, the form of Sailor Moon vanished, and their daughter stood in her place. Chibiusa also reverted back to her usual self. But the sadness, the hurt, didn’t fade away, especially for Usagi.

“Usagi, if now isn’t the… best time, it can wait…” Kenji began. As much as he wanted to learn the truth about Sailor Moon, it wasn’t worth it if it made the raw pain in her heart worse.

Usagi shook her head. “N-N-N-No Papa… I promised I’d tell you everything. B-B-Besides, I’ve kept this secret long enough.”

They followed Usagi back into the house. Remembering they had a guest, and one confined to a wheelchair at that, Kenji turned back. However, that plastic wheelchair was moving on its own, despite having no controls. Perhaps there was some sort of motor inside, but how was Xavier operating it? With his thoughts?

Kenji soon found themselves seated on their couch, with Usagi and Chibiusa standing in front of it, with Xavier between them. Silence ate away at all of them, except for Xavier, who seemed to have bountiful patience, simply waiting for someone else to speak first. However, after several awkward moments, he said, “Well, I’ve visited the families of many gifted youngsters in my years, but I must say none have been quite like this. Typically, it’s about enrollment at my school.”

“So, y-y-y-your… students…” Ikuko began. “They were telling the truth about being in Japan for new recruits?”

“The scary-looking short dude said something about Usagi being more special than anyone realized,” added Shingo. “Looks like he was right.”

“So all of you X-Men knew she was Sailor Moon? How?” There was no mistaking the hurt and frustration in Ikuko’s voice. How dare these strangers from the other side of the world figure all this out first? Kenji shared some of that frustration. After idolizing the X-Men so long, it did slightly sting of betrayal.

Xavier was surprisingly forthcoming. “I have a special device that detects mutants via their brainwave patterns, which differ significantly from normal humans, so…”

“But Usagi’s not a mutant,” Shingo cut in. “Is she?”

“No, yet the nature of Usagi’s power and that of her teammates confused Cerebro, while something about Naru Osaka’s mutation serves to shield her from most methods of detection,” said Xavier. “So while the X-Men and I were trying to locate Eclipse, we accidentally stumbled upon all the Sailor Senshi.”

Usagi stayed silent, no doubt still reeling from Naru turning on them all, happy to let Xavier do the talking for the moment. It was dawning on Kenji, how big her revelations would be. The entire Senshi team, would she reveal all their identities, too? Would they take kindly to that? Judging by how Haruka Tenoh and her partner were so surly and evasive, probably not.

“Why were you looking for Eclipse in the first place?” demanded Ikuko.

“To keep a dangerous mutant from harming others, to find a potential recruit, or at the very least try to help a troubled mutant… A good number of reasons,” said Xavier. “All of which pertain to my life’s work.”

“There’s more to it than that,” said Kenji suddenly. “Magneto’s been active a little too close to Japan, and Usagi asked me to look into Kizachi Technologies. Are all of these things interconnected somehow?”

Rather than look incensed that he was prodding in his affairs, Xavier actually smiled. “Ah, Usagi wasn’t exaggerating about you being one of Japan’s sharpest reporters,” said Xavier.

“And you’re right,” said Chibiusa. “As terrifying as it is, Magneto’s here in Tokyo, right now.” Kenji could sense Ikuko was ready to faint, and he didn’t feel too well at the moment himself. “Plus, he working with Erina Kizachi, so she can build Sentinels for some reason. And Naru was part of both their plans. Magneto caused that monorail accident, and we think Kizachi used certain yakuza connections to goad them into harassing Naru’s mother. Just to push her to the breaking point.”

Kenji saw Usagi grip the back of Xavier’s wheelchair tightly, and tear up all over again. Kenji wondered if any of her past escapades as Sailor Moon caused her this much pain. Yet he was also fascinated by Chibiusa’s matter-of-fact delivery of all that. That carefree child he thought he knew, gone now that the masquerade was over. And she was supposedly Usagi’s child with Mamoru Chiba, from the future? In all his time as a reporter, never had Kenji felt so completely over his head like this. Not even back at Cape Citadel.

“And what about you, Usagi?” asked Ikuko delicately. “How does… Sailor Moon fit into all of this?”

Usagi sighed as she choked back tears. “Well, I-I-I-I guess there’s no putting it off any more,” she stammered. “Erina Kizachi hates Sailor Moon. Part of this is revenge, pure and simple.”

“Revenge? For what?” Shingo demanded. “You’re a superhero, right!? Why would some roboticist have it out for you?”

“Maybe we should start at the beginning,” came an unfamiliar voice. Everyone turned to see Usagi’s cat, Luna, stride into the living room. And then, she made Kenji’s heart leap into his chest when she SPOKE. “I can help explain how this all began. Actually, it started many millennia ago, when…”

“Uh, L-L-L-Luna, maybe this isn’t the best time for a talking cat to be thrown into the mix,” said Usagi delicately with a nervous laugh.

The cat then scowled at Usagi, in a disturbingly human-like manner. “Oh please. Xavier’s planning on spilling everything about a team of superpowered mutants that’s been in space and fought demonic entities, but a talking cat is a bridge too far!?” Luna scoffed, sounding quite offended.

“Yeah, c’mon Usagi. It’s a TALKING CAT!” Shingo protested. “You’ve been hiding the fact you had a TALKING CAT this whole time!?” That made Kenji a little edgy. All this time, a sentient animal had been in their midst? Just what other nasty surprises were there?

“Cats still made you nervous, Shingo,” spat Usagi. “Like you could’ve handled knowing Luna was as smart as any person…”

“Way smarter than some people around here,” added Chibiusa.

“Yeah, and… HEY!” cried Usagi.

“Alright everyone! The… talking cat can stay!” cried Ikuko. “It’s just… I want to hear it in your own words, Usagi. How did you become Sailor Moon in the first place, if the Senshi aren’t mutants?”

Usagi fidgeted for a moment, fumbling around for the right words. “W-W-Well, I didn’t… become Sailor Moon, really. Like mutants, I was born this way too. R-R-Reincarnated might be a better word…”

“So, Luna’s telling the truth about this beginning far in the past?” asked Kenji.

“On the Moon, believe it or not,” said Luna. “Thousands and thousands of years ago, the Moon Kingdom existed up there, and Usagi used to be known as Princess Serenity.”

“It’s not all that hard to accept,” added Xavier. “There are other ancient civilizations that once existed on our moon, for one thing.”

“So you were once a princess? And… originally, you weren’t my daughter?” asked Ikuko, wonder mingling with sorrow.

Usagi shook her head furiously. “No, Mama! Don’t think like that! I can count the times I’ve spoken to Queen Serenity in this life on one hand! You’re the one who raised me!”

Kenji could tell this was one reason Usagi dreaded her family ever learning the truth. Deciding a change of subject was in order, he said, “And this Moon Kingdom, what happened to it?”

“This evil creature born of a sunspot called Queen Metalia… She found a willing accomplice in Beryl, a woman jealous of Princess Serenity’s relationship with Endymion. Beryl conned his four bodyguards into becoming her lieutenants, the Shitennou, and in turn convinced to people of Earth to rise up against the Moon Kingdom,” said Luna. To hear a cat tell them of some ancient tragedy that sounded like it came out of a fantasy novel…  Yet, it all had to be true. “In the ensuing war, just about everything was destroyed. Beryl and Metalia were about to win, and Queen Serenity was forced to fall back on a desperation move.”

“And that was?” asked Ikuko.

“This,” said Usagi. She held out a heart-shaped compact, the one she used to wear on her school uniform. It opened up, revealing a gem that glowed with an indescribable ferocity.

“The Ginzuishou, I believe it’s called,” said Xavier. “The only thing I’ve seen quite like it is the Infinity Gems, and this may have the potential to surpass the entire set.”

“But under normal circumstances, it drains the life energy of the user,” said Luna. “Queen Serenity sacrificed herself to stop Queen Beryl’s army cold, and ensure Princess Serenity and the Sailor Senshi assigned to protect her would be reborn when Metalia and her servants returned. My partner and I were placed in stasis, waiting for the day they were to reawaken.”

The three of them let all this sink in for a moment. To think, their daughter inherited something so powerful, it could burn out the user. Ikuko sounded aghast. “U-U-Usagi, you never actually used it yourself, have you?”

“Yes. I eventually used it to obliterate Metalia and Beryl once and for all, and a few other times,” said Usagi. “And if Magneto aims to turn his power on Tokyo, I may have to use it again.” That earned her a glare from Xavier as well. “What? He took apart Uranus and Neptune in no time, remember? And he knows who the rest of us are, too. It may come to that…” The way Usagi seemed so at ease with using a weapon that could kill her too, with fighting the most dangerous mutant terrorist out there… If they needed any further proof that their daughter had truly matured, truly had the courage befitting a superhero, they just got it.

Shingo, however, was dwelling on something else. “Even MAGNETO knew you were really Sailor Moon before us!?” he demanded, incredulous.

“He found out thanks to Erina Kizachi,” said Xavier. “That was another reason I came here tonight. Since Kizachi’s ultimate goal is revenge against your daughter, the three of you may be targeted as well, either by her or by Magneto’s forces. For your protection, I would like you to stay with the X-Men and Sailor Senshi until this crisis is resolved.”

“And where would that be?” asked Ikuko.

“Their plane is hidden behind the Hikawa Shrine,” said Luna. “That’s where they’ve been operating out of these last few days.”

Kenji raised an eyebrow. “You mean, that modified SR-71 Blackbird your X-Men are always seen flying around in?”

“That’s the one, yeah,” said Chibiusa. “It’s pretty damn cool, too.”

Xavier smiled. “You truly have been keeping up with our exploits all these years. I’m flattered. In any case, Rei Hino’s grandfather is currently away, so the Senshi and X-Men have free reign of the shrine. There will always be several people protecting both the shrine and the Blackbird. You’d be safer there than anywhere else in Tokyo at the moment.”

Ikuko and Shingo didn’t look mollified, but Kenji knew that, given the circumstances, it was the safest place to go. And of course, he could learn more about the X-Men than he ever dared hope, perhaps eke out another award-winning story in the process.

“Y-Y-You sure we won’t have to worry about Magneto while sticking close to the shrine?” asked Ikuko, her dubiousness palpable.

“Ikuko-mama, if anyone out there knows Magneto better than he knows himself, it’s Charles Xavier,” said Chibiusa.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” demanded Shingo.

“It means that Xavier knows how Magneto fights, how he thinks,” said Luna. “He always has, long before Cape Citadel.”

“Luna, that’s a bit much, don’t you think?” said Usagi testily.

“It’s quite alright, Ms. Tsukino. You felt you could entrust your family with your secret, so out of respect I’ll do the same,” said Xavier. “Luna is quite correct. I once knew Magneto as Erik Magnus Lehnsherr. I met him in an Israeli hospital, where he was doing volunteer work, drawn to it being a Holocaust survivor. I spent many months with him, until circumstances forced us to reveal our powers to each other. In the aftermath, the bitterness and grief he once kept in check ultimately consumed him, and I knew one day he would resurface. I vowed to be ready for him when it happened, no matter how painful it would be.”

“And that’s why we have the X-Men,” added Usagi.

“One of the reasons,” said Chibiusa. “They also have to keep idiot humans from doing stupid stuff like building Sentinels guaranteed to go out of control.”

“But now, it looks like both duties overlap each other,” said Xavier.

“And sucked in Usagi’s team in the process,” said Ikuko darkly. “But what were those fights between your two teams about?”

“Nothing I approved of, that’s for certain. And Ms. Tsukino sought to avoid conflict as well,” said Xavier sternly.

“What’s important now is that we’re working together,” said Usagi quickly. “But the professor’s right about you three needing to keep yourselves safe until we make Magneto run with his tail between his legs again. I lost a friend today, Mama, maybe forever. I can’t lose my family, too.”

Ikuko shut her eyes and sighed, her frustration and disbelief a tangible thing again. This time, Kenji shared it. He was her husband, and Usagi’s father, the one who was supposed to provide for and protect all of them. But it was his daughter who would be rushing into a fight, getting her hands dirty. And he would have to entrust his family to another man who, despite being the X-Men’s founder, was still more or less a stranger.

“W-W-We’ll all go to the shrine, if only so I can keep an eye on you,” said Ikuko at length.

“Believe it or not, Usagi’s quite capable of taking care of herself,” said Luna.

“Except when it comes to cooking,” Chibiusa threw in, earning her a glare from Usagi.

“Then I can still fill that void,” said Ikuko dryly. “Point is, Usagi, I’ll be watching you more closely than ever…”

“In the meantime, before we go… Let’s hear about all the other cool stuff you’ve done as Sailor Moon!” cried Shingo.

There was an odd look in Usagi’s eyes, and Kenji knew even more old wounds were about to be reopened. Despite all that, however, Usagi went on. By the time she finished, one thought stuck out for Kenji. He and Ikuko had desperately wanted to see their daughter grow up a little. But the burden fate demanded that she shoulder showed that she grew up quite a lot. Yet with the way Naru’s lashing out weighed on her heart more than anything else, she would need her family to help shoulder the burden this time. And Kenji vowed to be there for his daughter, however long it took.

He could do that for his little girl, at least.

As his eyes slowly fluttered open, all that Umino was aware of was feeling burned all over. As in, he should be covered in third-degree burns. Yet when he rubbed his thumbs over his palms, his skin felt fine. He shifted around on whatever he was laying on, and it didn’t feel like anything was wrong with his skin. He also felt light-headed, a fog keeping him from thinking straight. Trying to remember just what had happened, he finally recalled Naru, groggy, drugged and freezing, reaching up to grab him. That’s when things got hazy. He did remember a flash of fire – some dark, unnatural fire - and the sensation of being burned, though it evidently wasn’t injurious.

Umino tried to bring his eyesight into focus, but it wasn’t easy. For one thing, wherever Naru had taken him, it was dimly lit. One set of fluorescent lights hung above him, but it did little to illuminate the place. As if this place was just naturally gloomy. That, and he realized his glasses weren’t on his face.

Groaning, Umino slowly sat up, still feeling achy. How long was he out, and just where did Naru bring them? Without his glasses and with the lingering darkness, it was difficult to figure out the latter. Wherever it was, there were no windows, no clues he could make out. All he could make out was a figure in bright enough clothing to stand out… It was Naru, still in her ruined school uniform. She sat in some office chair near the foot of a bed she must have placed him on, watching over him.

At first, it looked like the effects of Ami’s drug still lingered. Naru appeared half-asleep, slouched in the chair. Soon enough, however, her eyes snapped open completely, hearing telltale signs of movement. “Umino!” she cried, turning to him with a relieved expression. “You’re alright!? The strain of the teleportation wore off!?”

“L-L-Looks like it,” Umino spluttered. His chest ached just from getting those words out. And here he thought lifting weights with Naru had helped his stamina. “W-W-What possessed you to try teleporting with another person? You’ve been struggling to control that with just yourself…”

Even in the faint light, Umino could see tears form in Naru’s eyes. “I-I-I-I didn’t see any other way out!” she cried. “A-A-And Kitty told me about her friend who teleports, and could get other people around that way just fine. I-I-I-I figured I could do it too…”

“Remind me to focus more on your teleportation power in our next session,” said Umino dryly. He wasn’t being entirely sarcastic. If there was a way for Naru to get him around without making it feel like he was being burned at the stake, best to pursue that. “Anyway, what about you? That concoction Kitty pumped you full of seems to have worn off…”

“Yeah, after nearly half a day,” said Naru.

Umino’s eyes widened. “And I was even out longer?”

Naru could only nod, trembling with shame as well as relief. All this time she worried about accidentally breaking him in half, yet teleporting with him did a greater number than her super strength ever did. “You still had a pulse, a-a-a-and you didn’t really seem hurt, just exhausted. So I’ve been here watching over you the whole time.”

Umino looked around again, but could make out little in the murky darkness. “And just where is here?”

“Someplace Sailor Moon and Professor X will never find us,” said Naru icily.

Umino frowned at Naru. “I… don’t think we can give their teams the slip forever.”

“We’ll see,” said Naru. “I meant what I said about not risking anyone else I love getting hurt or killed on their watch.”

Umino didn’t know how to respond. He cared for Naru, wanted to make her happy. But this was going too far. He never intended for Naru to use her powers this way, to lash out at her friends in anger, and technically this was kidnapping. On top of whatever else Naru did while en route to the prep school. Umino looked around again, but without his glasses, it was hopeless. “Naru, where are my glasses?”

“Don’t worry, they weren’t broken,” said Naru. “It’s just, well…”

“It’s just… what?” demanded Umino.

Naru’s icy expression melted into one of slyness. “I just realized that I’ve never seen you without your glasses until now, Umino,” she said with surprising sweetness. “You’re… so much more handsome without them than I imagined.” She stood up, stumbling a little. Ami’s chemical cocktail, Storm’s blizzard, Wolverine’s claws… Something was still affecting her. She came over to the side of his bed, caressing the side of his face with one hand. “Let’s just say it’s made me more determined nothing ever happens to you.”

The feel of her hand, such surprising gentleness, made Umino’s heart flutter. It took a great deal of willpower to focus, to not lose himself in her gentle touch. “N-N-N-Naru, don’t you think you’re being a little too overprotective?”

Naru fixed him with a stony gaze. “With a human-hating terrorist out there that endangered a monorail car full of people, by manipulating one of the fundamental forces of nature? With scores of yakuza who’d do anything to get back at me for all their buddies I put in the hospital? I think not.”

Given how Naru had such a dim view of humanity now, going by what she spewed at Haruna back in that classroom, the former sounded a bit hypocritical. It took a moment for Umino to work up the courage to say so. “Naru, you’re not exactly eager to be a defender of humanity yourself. It’s… quite obvious you’re not making plans to attend Xavier Institute anytime soon.”

“You heard McCoy and the others, Umino,” said Naru gruffly. “How often does trouble show up at the doorstep of their mansion in America? Juggernaut, Apocalypse’s Four Horsemen, Sentinels, Marauders, Hellfire Club, Mojo… And here in Tokyo, who knows when the next psychos connected to Usagi’s past or future will show up and wreak havoc? Nuts to all of that. Sorry if you were really looking forward to attending Xavier’s school, but I’m done having us in the line of fire.” Then her expression softened a little as she sat on the edge of the bed. “As for the rest of humanity…screw them. You’re the only human left worth caring about.”

“That’s… painting my kind with a bit too broad a brush,” said Umino nervously. “And, well, don’t I get a say in the matter?”

“You said wherever I go, you go,” Naru reminded him. “I’m sticking here, where no one can find us. And once I’m good enough with teleportation, I can make sure no one tracks me when I have to venture out for things.”

She took her hand away from his face, then let black goo flow over it. “I scoped this place out before driving to the park to confront Usagi. I figured there was a way to make teleporting to certain spots easier, in case I had no choice but to try. By leaving a bit of gunk with a faint charge of dark energy that I could zero in on later. I call it ‘tagging’, and it worked. It was a rough trip, but I got us here from that rooftop, didn’t I? Once I ‘tag’ enough spots here in Tokyo, I can get around in a blink of an eye. Whatever you want, I can get for you, and no one will be able to stop me.”

Bad enough Naru seemed proud about attacking people for no reason, but now she seemed willing to just take whatever she wanted. “N-N-Naru, this is really going too far. First off, I think the Sailor Senshi and X-Men just proved they CAN stop you. B-B-B-Besides, you’re not a thief…”

“I’ll be whatever this world forces me to be in order for us to survive,” said Naru darkly. “Granted, I still have plenty of money, what I’ve legally inherited from my mother, but… If you can’t go to Xavier Institute, I can still help you out. I can get you whatever books you want, whatever scientific equipment you need. Of course, there’s plenty of tech here to keep you enthralled for months, I’ll bet…”

Umino was about to ask again just where Naru teleported them to, but she went on. “And Umino, stop being so modest. You’re already smarter than most of the teachers we ever had, or would have had. Think about it, Umino! With my powers and your brains, we can accomplish anything! We won’t need anyone else!”

Granted, Naru had a point. They could accomplish a good deal together, but it still sounded crazy to him, to forsake the rest of the world like this out of spite. Umino hoped that Naru wouldn’t notice this ego stroking wasn’t having quite the desired effect, but some instinct told him she picked up on that. However, instead of looking frustrated or flustered, she flashed a coy smile at him, as if she knew another way to get him to lighten up.

“Anyway, I think I’ve been stuck in this mangled uniform a bit too long,” said Naru softly. Umino felt blood rush to his face when Naru took off her scorched, bullet hole-riddled top. Even without his glasses, Umino could make out his girlfriend wearing nothing but a bra from the waist up. The sight rooted Umino to the spot, his mind going blank as Naru crawled onto the bed, hovering right over him.

Still, Umino had enough presence of mind to notice something, even in the dim light. Until now, he never got a good look at the scar Sailor Moon gave Naru. It did look quite unsightly, and painful. And now, Naru sported a trio of stab wounds right below it, still patched up by her black ooze. How long would it take for those scars to heal, if ever?

Naru looked down and frowned, realizing Umino wasn’t gawking at what she wanted him to. “Oh, those,” she said dryly. “As if we needed any more reminders we can’t trust any of them.”

Umino was about to point out she was attacking the Sailor Senshi before receiving both scars, but thought better of it. Instead, he simply asked, “Naru, don’t those still… hurt?”

“Nah, my oil slick patched them up in short order,” said Naru quickly. “Anyway, enough about me. Right now, I want to focus on you,” she added seductively. She leaned closer, reaching behind Umino’s head.

As much as Umino desired this, he still felt a twinge of fear. Not exactly fear that Naru would accidentally snap him in half while making out with him. Her control over her strength truly had improved. Under normal circumstances, he would happily accept the risk. No, on top of feeling like this would be biting into forbidden fruit, it scared Umino that Naru wanted to… rush things. Either to fill an emotional void, or to salve inner pain that still seethed.

Umino wasn’t given too much time to ponder it, as Naru forcibly locked lips with him, and his resistance ebbed. She pulled him close with her other arm, pressing down onto him. She held him a little too tightly, but it was bearable. And at this point, he thought nothing of the goop he felt flowing down her arms, triggered by her emotions. Finally surrendering, Umino deepened the kiss as he wrapped his arms around Naru. Naru moaned in delight, but Umino suddenly felt anxious again as his hand brushed over the back of her bra. Just HOW far did Naru intend to go? And something else perplexed him. The way her skin felt like hard rubber, and how it definitely was bulletproof. Pulling away, he looked up into Naru’s eyes and asked, “N-N-N-Naru, your power, h-h-h-how you’re resistant to physical harm… C-C-Can you even feel it when we touch, o-o-o-or…”

“I feel enough,” Naru said sternly. “Now just shut up and keep kissing me.”

“Don’t you think we’re taking things a little too… fast all of a sudden?” asked Umino delicately. “What’s the rush?”

Naru scowled down at him. “Usagi never told you the whole story, did she?”

“The whole story? About what?”

“This future of hers, with Mamoru,” said Naru acidly. Was that envy in her voice, too? “Where she becomes queen and ushers in an age of world peace or something. Their love will bloom eternal, but us? No mention of what happens to us. Let her have her preordained future. We’re making our own.” With that, Naru leaned down to kiss him again, holding him too tightly for any hope of getting away. So Umino just let himself melt into her embrace again.

Magneto knew he should be satisfied with this turn of events. That after the unexpected death of Mayumi Osaka, things proceeded as smoothly as could be expected, given how unpredictable and volatile that tragedy would make her daughter. Naru’s outburst with her powers and litany of crimes under human law would make the humans of Japan even more fearful than ever, demanding action. And his own human ally would be in a position to pitch something that would, in time, serve Magneto’s ends instead, and thus all of mutantkind. Yet, it still felt like a failure. Naru rejected his old friend’s path and turned on the Sailor Senshi, but at the same time turned away from his cause as well.

Naru Osaka was a mutant that belonged in his fold. At first, Magneto doubted Kizachi’s guarantees that Naru could be goaded into taking vigilante action against the yakuza, the first step in using her for their plans. He had been happy to be proven wrong, and impressed by Naru’s willingness to go to such lengths in her Eclipse persona. Someone willing to do whatever it took to survive, to persevere, to keep history from repeating itself.  Any Acolytes who dared question his decision to welcome humans onto Asteroid M, as part of a deal for Naru’s allegiance, would have quickly regretted such folly.

But for the moment, there was no worry about that. Naru Osaka had disappeared with her boyfriend, showing teleportation was in her arsenal of mutant powers. Now, neither he nor Erina Kizachi could track her. She insisted she could soon reacquire her location, so they could watch for another chance to recruit her. Magneto was willing to trust her, so long as her idiot nephew had no part in it. The death of Naru’s mother was partly why she wasn’t at his side, preparing to make Japan ground zero for mutant liberation.

A fact he was all too willing to remind Kizachi of as he strode into her secret office. This time, he wore his trademark outfit again, to show he meant business. At first, Kizachi didn’t even notice he was there, her chair turned around to face the monitors behind her desk. More likely, she knew full well he was there, but made a show of playing dumb while listening to someone on the phone. He wouldn’t put it past Kizachi.

“Good to hear. Keep feeling everyone out, Seto. The sooner Kizachi Technologies can make the pitch, the better,” said Kizachi before hanging up. A few moments passed before her chair swung around. “Ah, Lehnsherr, good news. That was my husband, and it looks like we can get the Sentinels out in the open sooner rather than later. On top of that, he’s pitched the use of mercenary outfits for situations deemed too delicate for Sentinels.”

“Then at least something’s going according to plan,” said Magneto coolly.

“Yes. It’s finally happening,” said Kizachi with a saccharine grin. “To think, it’s taken this long. All these years, people actually thought Sunfire would be the only mutant to come out of this country. The bombs dropped during World War II were partly the reason for his mutation, and many were naïve enough to believe it would stop with him. Well, it took long enough, but a whole generation of Japanese mutants is here. And you’ll be there to recruit them to your cause once the Sentinels start rampaging, just like we wanted.”

“Only it looks more and more as if Naru Osaka won’t be among them,” said Magneto darkly, striding closer to her desk. “Perhaps the most powerful of this generation from the Land of the Rising Sun, and she’s turned her back on EVERYONE.”

“There’ll be another chance,” Kizachi said quickly. “I can still use her for another part of our plan, you know that. We can modify it so you can make your pitch to her personally. Instead of waiting for Naru to come to you, this time we’ll make it so you can go to her.”

“That could work. Now that she’s become disillusioned with both her old friend and mine, Naru may yet see reason,” said Magneto. “Just make sure your nephew has nothing to do with your modified plans.”

“Given how the gaijin will soon be on the rampage again after Naru slipped away, I’ll be keeping Gai away from EVERYTHING, believe me,” grumbled Kizachi. “That’s one thing Osaka and I have in common. We’ve both learned the hard way we have to keep those we love out of the crossfire.”

Magneto knew what she was referring to. “Still the need for revenge after the loss of your daughter, Kizachi. I must admit, when you initially came to me with your plan for your country to ensure mutantkind’s ascendancy around the world, I was reluctant to draw the ire of the Sailor Senshi just because of your thirst for payback.”

Kizachi actually had the gall to fix him with an annoyed glare, or at least Magneto guessed it was from the way she grimaced at him. “Lehnsherr, as someone who also lashed out upon seeing his daughter cut down, you’re the last one who should be lecturing me about this sort of thing. You and Mystique both need to learn the need for retribution isn’t a privilege for just mutants.” Magneto said nothing, merely letting his power flow. The flickering of the monitors behind Kizachi let her know she was on a dangerous path. It did little to cow her. “And here I thought being forthcoming about my daughter would earn me some measure of trust, Lehnsherr. I guess I was wrong. Must I reveal more about myself before you’ll finally put aside your doubts about me?”

Magneto let the magnetic fields he was generating subside a little, though a couple of the monitors still blinked in and out. “What else is there you could tell me that you haven’t bothered to already?”

“Things that would otherwise be foolish to talk about with someone who lived through the most hellish childhood imaginable,” said Kizachi. “So yeah, my childhood wasn’t exactly rainbows and ponies either, but for a different reason.”

Magneto was a bit intrigued. “And that reason would be?”

“My family… The lineage of brilliant scientific minds started with, well, me. And now it’ll end with me,” said Kizachi. “I came from a family of mystics in the mountains, of shamans, who believed in spirituality, while from a young age I was drawn to the power of science instead. Power that could get tangible results. So it’s no surprise there was a falling out and I went my own way. Maybe that’s also part of the reason why I tolerate a screw-up like Gai. He had little patience for the rest of our family as well, which made him turn to the yakuza.”

“My heart bleeds for you two, Erina,” said Magneto dryly.

“It shouldn’t,” said Kizachi. “Some of the meditation and spiritual techniques I was forced to learn, they did wind up coming in handy.”

“In what way?” asked Magneto, his curiosity now piqued.

Kizachi smiled again. “Didn’t you ever wonder just HOW the whole mess with me being ‘commissioned’ to build Sentinels by Masato Sanjoin went down?”

Suddenly, Magneto understood. “Ah, so you were one of his intended victims as well.”

Kizachi nodded. “Indeed, Nephrite’s usual modus operandi. Infuse a bit of my equipment with a youma of his while touring my corporate headquarters, posing as a potential investor. Fueling an obsession for creating the perfect fighting machine for his own use, while bringing my energy to its peak. And it was perhaps the one time his machinations didn’t draw Sailor Moon’s attention.” There was no mistaking the acid bite in her voice. “Thankfully, I didn’t need her anyway. I had enough presence of mind to eventually realize I was being played, and used the countermeasures passed down by my shaman ancestors. Dispatched the youma myself.”

“And why are you telling me this now?” asked Magneto. “To convince me you have uses beyond your technical expertise, that you’re far more than your everyday Homo sapien?”

“Oh, that should’ve been obvious already, Lehnsherr. I do have a mutation, just not on any X-gene. And though not as deleterious as uncontrollable optic blasts or leeching someone’s life force through physical contact…” Kizachi stood up and removed her dark glasses, revealing eyes that looked like they belonged to a blind person. No, even more disturbing than that. They looked chalky, diseased. The reason Kizachi needed those glasses, and preferred working in darkness. Already, she was wincing in pain from what little light there was. “And no, I didn’t think this shamanistic power would matter much to you. My greater faith in hard science, however…”

“Has proven quite valuable, I assure you,” said Magneto. “These are perhaps the most advanced Sentinels one could create without reverse-engineering the ones that traveled back in time.”

“It’s not just that,” said Kizachi. “It’s how I’ve come to view the biological, not just the technological. Your kind, Homo superior… All these debates that rage on, making it more complicated than it has to be, when anyone who understands science and history should see it’s so, so simple.”

“Simple, you say?” demanded Magneto. “What is it about what mutants face that’s so simple?”

“Just that it’s nature running its course again,” said Kizachi. “Evolution simply marches on, and natural selection will come into play, as it has so many times before. To get flustered about your kind one day dominating the Earth would be like getting mad at a supervolcano bringing about nuclear winter. What’s the point? It’ll happen, regardless. That’s why I relish the idea of using my Sentinels to bring about the exact opposite of their original function. To speed up the inevitable, rather than futilely try to impede destiny.”

“Of course, you’ve discovered that one possible future involves Usagi Tsukino’s destiny as inheritor of a kingdom from her past life,” Magneto pointed out. “I take it your preference of hard science over mysticism extends to that?”

Kizachi smiled more broadly than ever. “See, we do understand each other, you and I. The thought of Tsukino ascending like that, when she’s neglected so much already, failed so hard…” She put her glasses back on, covering up her sudden icy glare. “Maybe she will ultimately succeed, and perhaps achieve your old friend’s dream for him, or maybe not. In any case, it changes nothing. If that can be thwarted and you rise to prominence in Sailor Moon’s place, more power to you. If she does ultimately become Neo Queen Serenity, then at least here, now, I tear out a piece of her heart and make that pain last for an eternity. Either way, by sticking with you, I win. So that, more than anything else, should tell you you can trust me more than Mystique or any of your Acolytes.”

As much as he hated to admit it, Kizachi made a lot of sense. “True, we stand to gain much working together. Just remember that, ultimately, I want Naru Osaka on my side. Now that the mutants of Japan will look to her as a fellow mutant who won’t tolerate humanity’s obstinance a moment longer, her joining me is more important than ever.”

“Oh, I read you, Lehnsherr,” said Kizachi. “Besides, what else could twist the knife harder than Tsukino seeing that happen?”
Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse - Chapter 22
While Usagi comes clean to her family about being Sailor Moon, Magneto and Erina Kizachi plot the next phase of their plan now that Naru has gone rogue. Meanwhile, Naru makes it plain to Umino what she intends for the two of them to do from this point on.

Cover done by :iconkurumi-lover:, and he a DAMN fine job!

Disclaimer: Sailor Moon is the creation and property of Naoko Takeuchi and Toei Animation. X-Men is the creation and property of Stan Lee, Marvel Comics and Disney.
Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse
a Sailor Moon/X-Men crossover
Chapter 21: Youth Gone Wild

It was a pounding like no other. Not just smashed by a tree swung by someone with the strength to chuck cars like volleyballs. No, the deed was done by someone Sailor Moon once considered a friend, confided in. Yet somehow, despite all that, Sailor Moon wasn’t down and out, not completely. She stirred in Ikuko’s arms, the haze of pain gradually fading, the miraculous durability and endurance of a Senshi once again proving hard to overcome.

Ikuko glanced down, seeing Sailor Moon slowly get her bearings, still not quite believing the revered superhero cradled in her arms was also her daughter. “THAT’S what all this was about!?” shrieked Ikuko, glaring back up at Naru angrily. “You felt Usagi owed you something because of how you CHOSE to do what you did with the monorail?”

“Plus what she DIDN’T do,” Naru retorted. “And a couple things she did.” Naru lifted up her shirt, revealing the nasty scar Sailor Moon made with her tiara, eliciting a gasp from Ikuko.

“Too bad she didn’t cleave you in half instead, freak!” yelled one of the bystanders. There were still too many around, transfixed by how all this was playing out. Naru glanced his way, but said nothing, then turned back to Sailor Moon’s family.

“To think, Ikuko was sorry to see Usagi spending less time with you,” spat Kenji. “Those other girls… Rei, Makoto… They’re some of the other Senshi, aren’t they!? To think, you had a chance to prove you’re just as good as they are. You could’ve joined the X-Men, right? Instead, you turn on your friend!?” Naru glowered at Kenji, and took a step closer.

Tuxedo Kamen had seen enough. There was no mistaking the sense of danger from Usagi when she transformed this time, and he got to the park as fast as he could. Unfortunately, he was too late, arriving just when Naru bludgeoned his love with a tree. Partly because of shock, and partly because he wanted to see just what possessed Naru to do such a thing, Tuxedo Kamen held back, hiding in the tree right beside the Tsukinos. Though every fiber of his being urged him to rush down to Sailor Moon and Chibi-Moon. Now that Naru was making another move, it was time to act.

With a flick of his wrist, Tuxedo Kamen hurled a rose down at Naru. It tore a gash in her thigh, making her back off.  He could have inflicted a deeper wound with a rose. However, the memory of how he almost did so, not knowing Naru was actually Eclipse, stayed his hand. Even after seeing what Naru just did, sensing the naked animosity in her voice, Tuxedo Kamen just couldn’t do it.

Tuxedo Kamen leaped down from the branches, his cape fluttering, landing between the vengeful mutant and Usagi’s family. “I’ve seen many unforgivable acts in my time, Naru Osaka. But to betray a friend’s trust like this, to lash out with such anger… I do not wish to harm you further, but neither can I let you inflict any further harm!” Tuxedo Kamen bellowed.

For a moment, Naru just stared at him. Tuxedo Kamen watched for any telltale signs she would strike. He swore he saw the ooze along her neck and arms bubble and flow a little, making him clutch his cane tightly. Both Sailor Moon and Chibi-Moon were bought time to recover as the two stared each other down. Sailor Moon wriggled out of Ikuko’s grip and stood, staring back at Naru with tears in her eyes. Naru averted her gaze for a moment, looking to where the rose ripped through her skirt. Black goo had already flowed in to seal the wound.

“Looks like we’re both recovering nicely from this little run-in,” grumbled Naru, looking back to them. “Makes sense. You two are guaranteed to have such a bright future, right?”

“What now, Naru?” demanded Ikuko. She rose and held Sailor Moon close again, as if she could do anything to shield her if Naru went on the offensive again. “What are you talking about? Bright future… Wait a minute.” Tuxedo Kamen could feel Ikuko’s eyes on his back. “You… you’re this elusive boyfriend of hers, aren’t you? And Chibiusa… she’s YOUR daughter, isn’t she!? Just what did Naru mean by all this!?”

“Oh, I wish I could stay and watch you two try to explain all this to the family,” jeered Naru. “But unlike you two, I have no guarantees about my future, no destiny. I need to go safeguard what I have left. Just like you’ve got some work to do, now that the world will learn the truth. Anyway…” Naru reached into her skirt pocket and tossed a set of car keys at Tuxedo Kamen’s feet. “Make sure Haruka’s car gets back to her, now that I’ve had my fun with it.”

Naru turned to run, and just like him, Tuxedo Kamen could sense Sailor Moon didn’t have the heart to try and stop her. “Naru, no! Just what did you do to Michiru and Haruka!? You’ve got to stop this, Naru!” she pleaded.

Naru glanced back over her shoulder with a cold glare. All she said before taking off was, “Call me Eclipse.” Sailor Moon could only bawl as she turned and buried her face in Ikuko’s shoulder. It was like Naru stabbed her through the heart with those parting words.

Tuxedo Kamen watched Naru make a huge leap, then use an oily tendril to latch onto the branches of a tall tree, swinging away. With a head start like that, they would have difficulty keeping up, especially with the beating Sailor Moon and Chibi-Moon just took.

Unfortunately, Naru left even bigger problems in her wake. Looking around, Tuxedo Kamen saw just how many people were gathered at this company picnic. And now all of them knew of Usagi’s secret, saw her tackle Eclipse. Naru wanted the world to learn Sailor Moon’s identity like they did hers. Now, she would surely get her wish. Plus, there came the torment of fessing up to Usagi’s family after all this secrecy. That made him shudder a little. Her father didn’t exactly approve of him, for one thing. Just how was he supposed to explain their past lives together, and their future in Crystal Tokyo?

Sighing, Tuxedo Kamen turned around, racking his brains for something to placate them. He expected a death glare from Kenji, certainly, since Naru obviously let it slip Chibiusa was their daughter. Instead, Kenji stared ahead blankly, not moving a muscle. Ikuko and Shingo were the same way.

“What in the…” Tuxedo Kamen began, but was rendered speechless as he took another look around the park. Everyone else he could see had that vacant look. “W-W-What’s… Why’s everyone like this?” he demanded of no one in particular. Sailor Moon snapped her fingers in front of Ikuko’s face, but she didn’t even blink or flinch.

“Cable. You’re at it again,” scoffed Chibi-Moon suddenly.

“With a slight assist from me, Sailor Chibi-Moon,” barked a voice that resounded in Tuxedo Kamen’s head. Sailor Moon and Chibi-Moon must’ve heard it too, judging by how startled they looked. It had to be Professor Xavier again. Chibi-Moon said Cable’s power took control of the entire Amazoness Quartet. To do that with scores of people in this park required a far more powerful, experienced telepath.

“The professor and I still can’t penetrate Naru’s mind, but we can at least keep your secret from getting out like she wanted,” came Cable’s voice. The three of them turned to see the time-traveling mutant walk up to them, in full uniform, his bionic eye glowing fiercely. “You’re lucky Gambit contacted us on a hunch. Some time after Haruka hung up on him suddenly, he asked us to check in on their house via telepathy. Michiru’s out cold, but Haruka was conscious and filled us in.”

“H-H-H-How bad are they hurt!?” cried Sailor Moon fearfully.

“Nothing they can’t recover from in a day or two. No broken bones or anything like that,” said Cable. “You can worry about it later, though. I’ve got to stick around here, purge everyone’s memory so your secret identities stay secret. Which means you’ve got to help with chasing down Naru, and knock some sense into her.”

“I tried that already,” said Sailor Moon glumly, nursing her aching back. “I kinda got knocked around instead.”

“What about the rest of the X-Men? Where are they?” asked Tuxedo Kamen.

“They’re scattered all over Tokyo, but we’ve sent the word out. We’ve also contacted the rest of the Sailor Senshi,” came Xavier’s telepathic voice.

“In the meantime, you three better get after her. Keep track of her movements, so the rest of our teams can swiftly close in,” said Cable.

It was a sensible plan, but upon turning to Sailor Moon, Tuxedo Kamen could sense her reluctance. And her disbelief, that it had come to this, what she dreaded for so long. But then she looked to her family, still in the paralyzing grip of Cable and Xavier’s powers. “What about them, Cable? Did you mess with their memories?”

Cable glanced over to them, flummoxed. “No. Not yet.”

“Then don’t,” said Sailor Moon, sighing and hanging her head. “And let go of their minds.”

“What!? Sailor Moon, are you insane!?” cried Tuxedo Kamen. “Your family… You think they could handle the totality of what Sailor Moon is all about? The past, the future…”

Sailor Moon silenced him with a sorrowful look. “All this… It’s partly because of keeping secrets. I kept it from Naru, even after she clearly figured out most of it. Look where that’s gotten us, Mamoru,” she said, tearing up again. “If that’s what keeping secrets from the people closest to me leads to, I’m done with it. I’m coming clean.”

“Sailor Moon, you’re absolutely sure about this?” asked Cable delicately.

“For once, Cable and I are on the same page,” added Chibi-Moon. “Is this really the best idea?”

“Secrets have a price, Chibiusa, I realize that now,” said Sailor Moon, still crying. “We can’t pay that price again.” Chibi-Moon still looked dubious, but nodded. Cable sighed, and then his bionic eye briefly flashed again. Suddenly, Sailor Moon’s family blinked in surprise. Tuxedo Kamen steeled himself for what would no doubt be the most awkward run-in with Usagi’s family yet.

“W-W-What just happened? W-W-Why does my head feel all fuzzy?” grumbled Ikuko, looking around. She gasped as she spotted the new arrival, as did Kenji and Shingo.

“Ahhh! That’s the guy Sailor Moon was fighting on TV!” shrieked Shingo, pointing at Cable. “What’s goin’ on now!?”

“Nice to see you too, kiddo,” Cable retorted. “You’re welcome for releasing my telepathic grip on you three, and not futzing with your memories, on your sister’s insistence.”

“Our memories, Usagi didn’t want…” Shingo turned to Sailor Moon. Clearly, he still couldn’t quite accept that the superhero he admired so much was also his sister.

“Since when could you mess with minds anyway?” demanded Kenji.

“Usagi, just what is this all about?” demanded Ikuko. “Naru, the X-Men… You owe us some explanations!”

“Your daughter doesn’t have the time for a heart-to-heart right now,” barked Cable. “Naru’s still running around like a madwoman, and she’s got to be reined in before someone gets hurt or worse.”

“I’m sorry, Mama, but Cable’s right,” said Sailor Moon. “We’ve got to go after her.”

“B-B-But she nearly killed you!” Ikuko cried out in protest. “If she doesn’t want anything more to do with you, Usagi, let her be!”

Sailor Moon shook her head, tears still flowing. “Mama, how many times have you told me I need to be more responsible?” she pleaded. “Well, being Sailor Moon IS my responsibility, and I can’t skimp out on it now.” The words had their intended effect. Ikuko looked quite chastised, being forced to recognize the obvious.

“She’s right, Ms. Tsukino,” said Tuxedo Kamen. “There’s more to this than just Usagi and Naru. There’s good reason to believe events in Japan were manipulated so that Naru wound up doing something like this. There may well be a domino effect if we don’t act swiftly.”

“Is… this why you asked about Erina Kizachi, Usagi?” asked Kenji dubiously. He then turned to Tuxedo Kamen. “And all this about Chibiusa being Sailor Moon’s daughter from the future… Can I assume you’re responsible?” he added sourly. Tuxedo Kamen paled. As if his relationship with Usagi’s family wasn’t strained enough already.

“So, you’re technically my niece?” Shingo asked Chibi-Moon in disbelief, having difficulty wrapping his head around the idea. Chibi-Moon just looked away, nonplussed.

“Look, I promise all of you that once this is over, I’ll come clean about everything. But right now, we still have work to do,” said Sailor Moon quickly. She bent down to grab the keys Naru threw on the ground. “Papa, there should be a Ferrari around here. Take it, get to Haruka Tenoh’s place, help her and her friend. Please, if you want to do something to help, make sure they’re OK.”

Kenji stared at his daughter for a moment, then took the keys. “Haruka Tenoh, the racer… Is she another Senshi?”

“And Ami… She’s another one, isn’t she?” Shingo threw in, blushing. Sailor Moon sighed, seeing how quickly the dominoes were falling, now that Naru forced her hand.

“Look, Usagi just gave you her word she would explain everything later. In the meantime, all of you have something more useful to do than standing around in this park chatting. Besides, it’s making purging everyone else’s mind harder than it has to be,” grumbled Cable.

Everyone just glared at Cable for a moment, but he ignored them. Turning back to his daughter, Kenji said, “You’ll explain everything, then? The whole story?”

“So long as it doesn’t wind up in your magazine tomorrow,” said Tuxedo Kamen, earning him a glare from Kenji.

“Yes, Papa! Everything! I’m done with secrets!” cried Sailor Moon.

“Then let’s have Ms. Tenoh’s address,” said Kenji with a tone of finality.

With that, the two groups finally parted, albeit awkwardly. As Usagi’s family ran out of the park, she, Chibi-Moon and Tuxedo Kamen made a broad leap in the direction Naru took off in. Tuxedo Kamen had no idea what he now dreaded more. Confronting Naru again while she was venting all her pent-up rage, or how nothing would ever be the same with Usagi and her family.

It didn’t take long for Naru to reach the edge of the park, given how much ground she could swiftly cover. Still, it wasn’t quick enough to avoid some bothersome pests. No doubt someone at the company picnic ran off to call the police. Just as Naru jumped over the stone fence lining the park’s perimeter, several police cars screeched to a halt once she was spotted. Police officers clambered out of their cars, guns at the ready. Naru figured she should be flattered. Most were armed with assault rifles, and there were even some RPG launchers. They didn’t hesitate to bring out the heavy artillery for Japan’s most hated mutant. Not that it would do them much good.

“Bad enough none of the yakuza got the hint,” Naru snarled at the police. “Then again, you jackholes turned a blind eye to them, so it’s no surprise you’re making the same dumb mistakes…”

“Surrender Eclipse, or we open fire!” one of the officers screeched through a megaphone.

Naru smirked evilly. She could easily spirit herself away and avoid a fight altogether. But no, best to show everyone in Japan why no one should ever screw with her again. “Me first!” she cried, raising a hand to fire off a bolt of black lightning. It struck the engine of the nearest police car, sending up a plume of flame. Before the officers could get over their shock, Naru sent out tendrils to wrap around the car and yank it towards her. It flipped over, and Naru’s hands reached up to dig into its roof. The strobing lights flashed in her eyes for a moment, right before she threw it back at the police.

It slammed into another police car, both skidding across the pavement as shards of glass showered everywhere. This scattered the officers further, but it didn’t keep them completely at bay. The ones Naru hadn’t distracted and goaded into taking cover opened fire. Bullets bounced off her skin, but the impacts still stung. Reflexively, Naru crossed her arms in front of her face. That gave them an opening to fire off a grenade. Naru looked up in panic upon hearing the rocket’s roar, realizing her blunder too late. She took it right in the face, and the detonation slammed her into the park’s stone wall so hard, she nearly smashed through it. It left Naru dizzy, and humiliated. But that was all.

“OK, now I’m pissed. It’d be no surprise if I suddenly turned green…” Naru grumbled as she slowly sat up, brushing off chunks of concrete. Her ears rang, but she could still hear the footsteps of cops approaching warily. Best to pretend to be hurt far worse than she actually was, lull them into a false sense of security. It would probably be easy to let humans think they had the upper hand, play on their desperation. They drew nearer, guns at the ready, while Naru collected her power…

She let the ooze flow down onto the street. Before the cops knew it, tendrils snaked up around their legs, and then conducted her dark power. Many fell unconscious in an instant, but some weathered the onslaught. It was a simple matter to fling some away with her tendrils. The rest she dealt with up close and personal. She sprang up and effortlessly knocked them away. The last one she flung aside, Naru was sure she felt his arm snap from the force of her blow.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t all of the police officers sent after her. Several had wisely hung back, using what cop cars remained for cover. Even from a distance, Naru could see the fear and the hate in their eyes, raising her ire even more. It was time to finish this, quickly and efficiently.

Now, how did Masato Sanjoin do it that one time? Naru asked herself as she crossed her arms again, collecting power. Granted, her dark power weren’t exactly like Nephrite’s. Perhaps Queen Metalia’s gene for dark energy manipulation manifested itself differently for each person it was spliced into. In any case, her attack mimicked Nephrite’s just fine. Upon spreading her arms, bolts of dark power arced up and rained down, pelting the rest of the police cars and forcing the officers to fall back.

“All those dangerous mutants you hear about on TV… I’m the worst one!” Naru taunted as they retreated. They weren’t the only ones. Scores of bystanders had either been brave enough or stupid enough to stick around. Slowly but surely, they got the hint, turning to run as they screamed. Some cars were still coming down the road from the other direction, but screeched to a halt. A delivery van stopped right next to her, its driver clambering out to bolt.

“That’s right! Run all you stupid, cowardly humans! Get it through your heads that you should NEVER MESS WITH ME AGAIN!” Naru shrieked as she picked up the van. “You wanted my mother dead because of me! You’re part of the reason she’s gone!” She hurled the van across the street. Fleeing bystanders ducked out of the way just in time before the van smashed through the windows of a bookstore. For good measure, Naru cut loose with more blasts of black lightning, tearing up the street and bringing down telephone poles.

Naru had worked herself into a frenzy, but let the panicked screams of the fleeing humans soothe her. She had made her point. The people of Japan wanted to see her as an enemy. Now they knew what it meant to have Eclipse as an enemy. She surveyed the damage she left in her wake, smiling. Until she looked down at herself, and her ruined clothes. Her skin was bulletproof, but even these special clothes weren’t.

Sighing and shaking her head, Naru looked up to a building several stories high just across the street, then sent out a tendril. It anchored itself deep in its brick wall about halfway up. The tendril pulled her up as she retracted it, and Naru easily climbed the rest of the way, her fingers digging into the bricks. She had had her fun and blown off some steam, but the sun was setting. There was one last thing she had to do, before the X-Men and the rest of the Sailor Senshi could zero in on her.

Sailor Moon realized she spent too much time trying to convince her family, back in the park. She, Chibi-Moon and Tuxedo Kamen jumped up onto the park’s stone fence just as, to her horror, Naru cut loose with an attack almost exactly like one of Nephrite’s. How could someone like Nephrite see the light, only for a good friend like Naru to slip into the darkness upon receiving his power? And Naru wasn’t done venting her rage and frustration. Chucking a van for no reason, tearing apart the street with dark energy… She wasn’t aware they caught up. Sailor Moon knew by blindsiding Naru with a single attack, she could end this insanity.

But she just couldn’t. The sight of Naru completely losing it yet again, giving in to her darkest impulses… It just broke her heart all over again. Her first act as Sailor Moon was to save Naru. Now she had lost her friend in the worst imaginable way. When losing Chibiusa and Mamoru to the darkness, they had been brainwashed, manipulated. Sailor Moon could cling to hope that she could get them back. This was completely different. No such mind games could work on Naru. She was doing all of this of her own free will, making it clear she was done with Sailor Moon and all she stood for.

And then she was gone, using an oily tendril like a grappling hook. Sailor Moon could only watch as Naru scaled the wall and climbed over the roof’s edge. No doubt Naru would be hopping from rooftop to rooftop to get to her next target. And I was the one who taught Naru how to do that, Sailor Moon realized.

“Oh boy, I sure hope the rest of the Senshi and X-Men aren’t too far away,” Chibi-Moon muttered fearfully as she surveyed the destruction Naru left in her wake. “We could use the backup.”

“Not to mention, Naru has too much of a head start,” Tuxedo Kamen added. “By the time we reach the rooftops, she could be anywhere.”

“No, not anywhere,” said Sailor Moon.

“Meaning… what?” demanded Chibi-Moon.

“You heard Naru, Chibi-Moon,” said Sailor Moon. “Naru’s going after the only thing left in this world that she cares about…”

To think, Ami once thought she could always look forward to school, despite how lonely her life before meeting Usagi was. But ever since awakening as a Sailor Senshi, it seemed that once every few weeks, a school would turn into a battleground. More often than not, the one Ami was at. Whether it was her middle school, or some cram school she was attending at night, one of their enemies would hatch a plot there that would suck in her and the other Senshi.

Or she would get word from the other Sailor Senshi that there was a monster somewhere else while she was at school, and had to ditch class to go fight it. Needless to say, Ami’s perfect attendance record went out the window after becoming a superhero. But Ami put up with it, knowing it was her duty, however vexing it could be.

Still, even after fighting Mamoru and Chibiusa when they were brainwashed, Ami never imagined being told about Naru going on a rampage. Just when Ami thought she could start attending these college prep classes now that she was admitted to high school, figuring the problem with Eclipse was over, she roared back with a vengeance! Ami could practically sense the apprehension behind Xavier’s words when they rang in her head. He couldn’t believe his potential recruit had gone bonkers either!

So Ami ran through the hallways, deciding to duck into the locker room connected to the gym to transform. She was just about to, confident the locker room was empty, when her communicator watch beeped. Sighing, she flipped it on, hearing Sailor Moon’s frantic voice babbling. “Usagi? If this is about Naru, Professor Xavier already let me know,” said Ami. “Just tell me where to meet up, and…”

“No! Don’t go anywhere!” came Sailor Moon’s frantic cry. “Naru will be headed your way, toward that school!”

Ami mulled over her words dubiously, trying not to get flustered. “She’s coming here? How can you be so certain, Usagi?”

“Didn’t Xavier tell you anything?” demanded Sailor Moon acidly. “Naru didn’t go completely bonkers for no reason. She’s more jealous of the Sailor Senshi than ever, particularly about me and Mamoru and Crystal Tokyo. So now she’s out to protect her own man to ensure a future, no matter what.”

Ami blinked in surprise. “So… she’s going to grab Umino and keep him close?”

“Exactly!” cried Sailor Moon. “He’s going to that same college prep school, right? So transform and get to him! Do it fast… Naru probably knows you’re at that school too. She may try taking you out first, since your power is so dangerous to her.”

“Maybe you’re not as stupid as I thought, Usagi!” came a jeering voice suddenly. Ami whirled around, only to be greeted by the sight of a blob of ooze coming right for her face. Her screams were muffled by the black goo as it latched onto her head. Ami’s legs kicked futilely as she was hoisted off the ground, trying in vain to pry the glop loose. She was flung across the locker room soon after that, going through the curtains of a shower stall. The ooze continued to flow, pinning her wrists, ankles and torso to the tiled wall.

“What’s wrong, Ami? Isn’t water your element?” Naru jeered as she stepped into the stall.

“N-N-N-Naru, you’ve got to stop…” Ami muttered as her spine shrieked in agony. “W-W-Why did… H-H-H-How could you do this? The X-Men and the Senshi wanted to help you…”

“Yeah, that chemical cocktail you cooked up for me was a real help,” spat Naru.

“Naru, I-I-I-I’m so, so s-s-s-sorry about that…” spluttered Ami.

“Oh, I bet you are now,” said Naru as her fingers brushed against Ami’s chin. Ami clenched her teeth upon feeling dark power crackling along Naru’s fingertips.

“P-P-Please, Naru, j-j-j-just stop,” pleaded Ami. “None of us ever wanted to hurt you like that. J-J-Just let us make it up to you…”

For a moment, it looked like her words actually reached Naru. Her gaze softened for a moment. “Well, since you’re supposed to be the smartest Senshi…” Then she grabbed a handful of Ami’s hair and leaned close. “Find a way to bring my mother back from the dead,” she snarled, her breath washing over Ami. Then she bumped her forehead up against Ami’s just hard enough to knock her out cold.

Haruna Sakurada was soon reminded why she hated doing these extra stints in cram schools and other prep schools at night. Come sundown, her brain just wasn’t firing on all cylinders when it came to teaching, something once made all too evident whenever she had to administer detention. And when it was Usagi Tsukino stuck in detention… Well, that only exacerbated the problem.

While Haruna continued calling roll, she let her thoughts drift back to the girl that once vexed her to no end. She would never see Tsukino in one of her classes again. Oddly, Haruna still wasn’t sure how she felt about that. As much as Tsukino made her want to pull her hair out with her lackadaisical attitude and disinterest in learning a thing, Haruna had to admit teaching her had been quite a challenge. A challenge she somewhat succeeded at, given how Tsukino actually passed her entrance exams. Tsukino was off to high school now, no longer around to keep her on her toes.

Funny how you can miss someone as an enemy more than as a friend, Haruna thought to herself as she continued to take roll. She came up to Umino’s name, getting only a surly grunt in reply. Haruna looked over to the far corner. Umino was just gazing out at the setting sun, barely showing any interest, showing up only because it was expected of him. And having to endure endless taunts and bullying about his ‘mutie’ girlfriend in the process. It didn’t end well. For the bullies. There was more than one story floating around about bloodied noses and black eyes resulting from someone pushing Umino too far.

Haruna could only imagine was he was going through. The way he was acting at the monorail stop… Umino clearly KNEW about Naru being Eclipse. If Naru could’ve trusted anyone with such a secret, it was Umino. Haruna hungered for someone who could love her like that, while Umino was constantly tested for his love and loyalty. Haruna cringed in shame as she finished taking roll. Even she couldn’t keep her horror in check upon learning the truth. As much as all this anti-mutant paranoia disgusted her to no end, even she got swept up in the hysteria, letting the furor over Eclipse infect her.

If only there was a way to make up for that, Haruna mused as she moved to the blackboard, ready to begin her lesson. But it’s not like Umino would tell me, or anyone, where Naru is if he knows. I can’t stand it… I stick up for mutant children that are complete strangers. But one of my old students winds up being one? I give in to hysteria like everyone else… “OK, for today’s lesson, we’re going to look at the play ‘The Crucible’ written by the American Arthur Miller,” she told her class. Given everything that was happening, it seemed fitting.

But Haruna didn’t get any farther into her lesson when there was an odd rumbling in the hallway, followed by the lights dimming for a split second. Panicked screams from the hallways came soon afterward. “Hold on a moment, class,” said Haruna quickly, stepping out of the room.

A hallway stretched out right beyond her classroom’s door, situated in the middle of a T-shaped intersection. Strolling down the hallway before Haruna was Naru. In contrast to how fearful she looked the other day, now there wasn’t a trace of timidity in her. That black ooze dribbled down her arms and flowed up her neck, and some sort of black electricity crackled all over her. She marched forward, with the air of someone on a mission. Other teachers and students got the hint and stayed out of her way, flattening themselves against the wall or ducking into classrooms. Naru ignored them, her gaze focused on Haruna.

As she drew closer, Haruna saw what looked like scorchmarks on her face, and that her old school uniform looked to be covered in soot and even RIDDLED WITH BULLET HOLES. “Ms. Osaka, what’s happened to you!?” cried Haruna, concern for her old student overshadowing everything else. “Are you alright?”

Naru shook her head, smirking at her, never breaking eye contact. “Never felt better, Ms. Haruna.”

The next thing Haruna knew, she was flung back into her classroom, knocking the door off its hinges. Haruna groaned in agony as she slowly picked herself up. Naru shoved her so hard, she skidded across the floor and hit the wall beyond the door. By the time Haruna was on her hands and knees, Naru was standing in the middle of the room, glaring at her icily. “Ms. O-O-Osaka, w-w-why… I d-d-don’t understand…”

Naru held a hand out, her palm facing up. Ooze shot up from it, a tendril wrapping around a light fixture right above Haruna. It snaked down, wrapping around her neck. Naru pulled down, and her tendril dragged Haruna up onto her feet, the tips of her pumps barely making contact with the floor. Her students looked on, frozen in horror as their teacher gagged and sputtered, struggling to take in enough air.

“Even you were afraid,” Naru said simply as Haruna futilely clawed at the gunk fixed around her neck like a noose. “I thought one day I could trust you, that you really cared about mutants. But you were just like the other Homo sapiens, letting fear blot out everything else. Well, now you’ve got good reason to be afraid.” She said those words so coldly, but Haruna was a good enough educator to get a deeper sense behind the words her students spoke. The hurt behind them, the sense of betrayal. Tears that had nothing to do with her fear streamed down Haruna’s cheeks.

“Naru, ENOUGH!” cried Umino. He stood and ran up to Naru. “W-W-What’re you… Why are you here!?”

“To get you,” Naru said simply.

Umino gave her a blank look. “Huh?”

“Look what happened to my mother,” said Naru. “Everyone in Japan learns I’m a mutant. Less than a day later, she’s dead. If humans will do that to their own kind for giving birth to a mutant, what do you think they’ll do to you for aiming to stick your dick in one to make more!?”

Haruna found herself, for a moment, more appalled by Naru’s crude language in her classroom than by how she was dangerously close to hanging her. Even now, her instincts as a teacher wouldn’t let her be. Suddenly, one of her other students spoke up, a boy seated right next to where Umino stood. “Seriously Umino, you expect to hit that and survive?” That immediately earned him a left hook from Umino, knocking him to the floor. His instincts weren’t easy to suppress at a time like this, either.

Naru looked at the boy, his nose bleeding profusely, then back to Umino. “I’m touched you still aim to defend my honor,” said Naru sweetly. “Now let’s just get out of here.”

“B-B-But Naru, seriously? Don’t you think this is a bit… drastic?” Umino protested.

“No. Not when this sort of thing happened before,” said Naru darkly. Haruna had no idea what Naru meant by that, but something seemed to dawn on Umino. “You’re all I have left Umino. I’m through counting on others to protect those close to me. I’ve got the power to do it myself, so I will. With a world full of people who’d hang you for daring to love a mutant… We’ve got no place in the world now, so we’ve got to stick together.”

“Uhhh, speaking of ‘hanging’…” Umino anxiously pointed over at Haruna, still dangling with her toes barely touching the floor.

Naru looked back over to Haruna. “Oh. Right then.” Her ooze slurped back into wherever she kept it, and Haruna dropped to the floor, gagging and clutching her throat. “Anyway, we’ve got to go. Some of the Senshi and even the X-Men are on their way. You’ve got to choose, Umino. If you love me, if you want to stay safe, us to stay together… Who do you trust?”

Haruna looked back up to Umino, seeing the war raging within him. Eventually, as she expected, his loyalty to Naru won out, and he nodded stiffly to her. Naru pulled him close with one hand while raising the other toward the roof. A blast of that black lightning ripped through it, creating a hole for Naru to leap through, taking Umino with her. She left a classroom of fearful, confused students behind, along with a teacher who finally gave in to tears, not believing things had come to this. Tsukino, where are you? Haruna wondered. Your friend needs you, more than ever…

Having Professor Xavier’s voice ringing in their heads without warning… That was always bad enough. Sailor Jupiter would never understand how the X-Men got used to that. But as before, it was the dire news Xavier brought that was far, far worse. Last time, it was word that the OSA-P was practically under siege. Not by monsters sent out by the Senshi’s enemies, but the people they dedicated themselves to protecting. And just when Jupiter thought things couldn’t get any worse, Naru’s mother died, and now Naru couldn’t bottle in her rage any longer. Rejecting Magneto made no difference in the end. Naru turned against them all regardless.

How often had an evening started like this? The setting sun was still visible on the horizon, albeit barely, casting a red glow over the city. The Sailor Senshi, once again, were called to action as darkness fell. Only it wasn’t some monster out to drain people’s vitality, or rob them of their pure hearts and dreams. No, it was a good friend who let her bitterness and grief eat away at her soul. That would make this far harder than any smackdown on some monster. It just might be their most painful battle yet.

Sailor Jupiter made another leap, sailing across a street that stretched out several dozen meters below. She glanced over her shoulder after touching down on the next roof. Sailor Mars and Sailor Venus were just leaping across. The three of them were the only Senshi who could intercept Naru now. Naru had too much of a head start over Sailor Moon, Tuxedo Kamen and Chibi-Moon, Haruka and Michiru were in no condition to fight, and they couldn’t raise Ami on her communicator.

“How much farther to that prep school?” Venus asked as the three of them ran across the rooftop.

“It shouldn’t be too much longer,” said Mars. Usually, Mars put up this veneer of brusqueness, but Jupiter could detect the disbelief and sorrow underlying her words. None of them could believe it came to this yet again. “In fact, once we reach the other end of this roof, we should be able to see it.”

Once they reached the roof’s edge, Jupiter did indeed see the school Ami just started attending at night. Only to see a blast of dark power shoot through the roof. A second later, they could see Naru leap up through the hole, clinging to someone. “Oh no, Naru’s already got Umino!” cried Jupiter.

“What about Ami?” asked Venus fearfully. “You don’t suppose…”

“Naru didn’t kill Usagi, so let’s assume she’s not that far gone yet,” said Mars. “But we’ve got to put a stop to this. Everyone remember the plan?”

Jupiter and Venus nodded dully. It was a sensible plan, one that would probably safely rein in Naru, but that didn’t make the three of them hate it any less.

And so, the tree of them made a leap toward the school’s roof, hot on Naru’s tail. Usagi may have shown Naru how the Sailor Senshi get around, but they had more experience doing this. Before Naru could make it to the edge of the school’s roof to make the jump herself, dragging Umino by the hand, Venus caught up with her. “Venus Love-Me Chain!” she shouted. Her golden chain lashed out and ensnared Umino. With a yank, Venus tore him from Naru’s grip, and he was flung her way.

“What in…” Naru began, turning around. “YOU!?” she snarled.

Just as Venus caught Umino in her arms, Mars stepped up. “Mars Flame Sniper!” she roared, taking advantage of Naru’s momentary surprise. The blazing arrow struck Naru in the torso, and she nearly tumbled backwards to the street below. It was fortunate that she didn’t. She could survive the fall, but it was best to keep Naru up here, where no bystanders could get caught in the crossfire.

The flames soon faded, and Naru glared daggers at them all. She circled around the roof, and the Senshi could tell she was gathering power to strike. “Don’t… INTERFERE!” she shrieked, sending out black lightning.

That was when Jupiter stepped in, her antenna already out. “Supreme Thunder!” she roared, calling forth her own lightning bolt. The two bolts crashed against one another noisily. For a moment, it looked like their power was evenly matched. But then, Jupiter’s lightning bolt edged closer. Soon enough, it forced back Naru’s dark power entirely, zapping her good and sending her backslide slamming into the pillar of a water tower. She struck it so hard, Jupiter feared the water tower would topple down onto Naru. Not that it would really hurt her.

Still, the blast of electricity did plenty. Naru was on her hands and knees, coughing and shivering, clearly flabbergasted that her power failed her. The three Senshi stood a few meters away, reluctant to strike while Naru was down. “Please just give it up, Naru. You’re not as tough as you think,” said Venus.

“Yeah, a Senshi’s power comes from her Star Seed, from an entire planet,” said Mars. “Mutant powers are dependent on your body’s physical maturity. That’s why the Shitennou had more raw power than you do now.”

Rather than convincing her to stand down, that only served to incense Naru further. “So, just another reminder of how I could never be one of you,” Naru spat as she rose to her feet, fists clenched. “Rub it in, why don’t you?”

“Is that part of this, too? Jealousy?” asked Jupiter delicately. “Hey, don’t forget, there are things you can do that we can’t…”

“Damn straight!” sneered Naru as she made her move. Tendrils reached up and wrapped around the water tower. It wasn’t long before the support beams shrieked in protest, and the whole thing came toppling down onto the Senshi.

“Look out!” cried Venus as the three of them leaped aside. The water tower cracked open, water washing over half the roof. Jupiter just hoped Venus got Umino someplace safe, away from the fighting.

Venus and Mars fell back, probably to see to Umino. It was all part of the plan. Naru no doubt thought Jupiter was the only danger, given her vulnerability to electricity and how Jupiter was the only Senshi left that came remotely close to matching her strength. Best to play on that. Draw Naru’s attention away from where the true danger lay.

Naru rushed across the roof, hurling a huge chunk of the mangled water tower at Jupiter. Jupiter easily ducked aside as she readied another attack. “Sparkling Wide Pressure!” she screamed, hurling the collected energy Naru’s way. Naru barely hit the deck in time. Good to know the Senshi still held the speed advantage as well. Jupiter would need it.

Naru leaped toward Jupiter, aiming to stomp her into the school’s roof, but she simply backflipped out of the way. “Naru, you’ve got to stop! Attempted kidnapping, stealing a car, assault and battery on police officers… That lawyer might’ve gotten you off before, but not now!”

“Would she really have been any good? None of you Senshi were! My mother’s dead, along with Nephrite!” Naru cried as she closed in. “No way I’m entrusting Umino’s life to the likes of you ever again!” She made some clumsy swings at Jupiter. It was a simple matter to duck and weave around her strikes. A good thing, too, as any one of them could take the fight out of her. Even more, given her training, it was child’s play for Jupiter to grapple Naru as she threw another punch, and throw her to the ground hard.

Jupiter jumped back as Naru immediately struck back, trying to sweep her legs and snap them in the process. “We’re all heartbroken after what happened to Mayumi, Naru!” cried Jupiter. “But if your mother could see you now, SHE’D be heartbroken! Her last words to me before she died… She was PROUD of how you saved those people on the monorail! She was HOPING you would join the X-Men!”

“And then she died on the X-Men’s watch. And yours! To think I wanted to be a Senshi once!” In a blind rage, Naru tried lashing out with tendrils. Jupiter easily dodged them, and kept her antenna out, crackling with power. The sight of that soon dissuaded Naru from trying that again. She had a wary look in her eyes now, despite all her rage. Just like Jupiter wanted. Distract Naru, confuse her, keep her attention focused solely on her.

“Naru, you think you’re the only one who’s lost family?” Jupiter dared. “I lost my parents, too! And I know what it’s like to be ostracized for being different! I so wanted to help you get through this! All the Senshi did! You may not be a reincarnated princess like the rest of us, but another opportunity’s opened up for you! The X-Men! What better way to honor your mother’s final wish than to keep doing good as part of that team!? Keep this up, and that door will be shut forever!”

For a moment, it looked like Jupiter’s words reached Naru. There was a hesitant look in her eyes, and she seemed to tremble. Then she shut them, tears beginning to flow. But yet again, her rage and frustration proved too great. “Fine by me! I don’t need their help! I don’t need ANYONE’S help, now that I’ve got this power!” she spat back.

Naru aimed to keep Jupiter at bay with more bolts of dark power, maintaining her distance. Once again, Jupiter easily ducked and weaved around the barrage, then followed up with an attack of her own. “Jupiter Oak Evolution!” she cried as she spun around, sending out her electrified leaves.

A good number clipped Naru, disorienting her. That gave the other Senshi, who held back until now, the perfect opening. “Venus Love and Beauty Shock!” came Venus’s cry, and her energized ball struck Naru in the back while she was dazed, forcing her down onto her hands and knees. That was when Mars finally made her move. She darted out from behind a cooling tower, where Jupiter could also see Umino’s head sticking out. Mars jumped up, flipping over while in midair, planting an ofuda on Naru’s back as she sailed over her.

Naru let out a confused shriek as she collapsed onto the roof. The three Senshi gathered around their downed foe, still not quite believing it had come to this. Or that Mars’s ofuda would actually be this effective. “Naru, for my ofuda to hurt you this much… Merely being in possession of dark power shouldn’t be enough. It’s because you’ve truly let your heart turn dark. How can you say you care about your mother’s memory if you’ve let that darkness in? You heard Jupiter. Mayumi hoped you’d choose a different path…”

Naru gargled something unintelligible as she tried to prop herself up with her arms, shaking all over. Then, in one swift motion, Naru slammed her hand down onto the roof, making it quake. The Senshi lost their footing for a moment, giving Naru an opening to force them back with swipes of her tendrils.

Oh great, we miscalculated big time, Jupiter realized as the three of them got flung back. Rei’s ofuda turned her dark power against her, but Naru has enough control over her natural mutant powers. She’s not entirely defenseless. Good thing there’s a backup plan…

Umino had run out from behind cover, rushing to Naru’s side. “Naru, what’s going on!? Are you OK!?”

“J-J-Just… g-g-get it… off,” Naru spluttered in a raspy voice. Umino’s hand jerked back as dark power kept crackling over Naru’s body uncontrollably, but soon enough he yanked the ofuda off, even as he hissed in pain. Recovery wasn’t instantaneous for Naru. The Sailor Senshi were on their feet well before Naru was. “Well, so much for that idea, Rei,” spat Naru. The three of them weren’t really listening. Their gazes drifted upward. “Wait, what are you three…” Naru’s gaze followed theirs, and she saw the lightning crackling overhead.

Jupiter shrugged her shoulders. “I’m not doing this, Naru. You know who is.”

Thunder rumbled over the school as even more weird weather kicked up. Namely, howling winds that carried bitter cold rushed over the roof. It wasn’t too long before the water spilled from the water tower froze solid, and the rest of the roof was covered in frost and snow. Naru looked ready to sink to her knees again, shivering from the cold. Hopefully, between Storm’s surprise blizzard and the lingering effects of Mars’s ofuda, Naru would be weakened enough to be spirited away without a fuss. This time, Jupiter was happy to let the X-Men do their jobs for them.

Umino stayed by Naru’s side as the blizzard hammered them both, despite his clothes hardly offering much protection. He truly loved Naru with all his heart, which made this turn of events even more unfortunate. Naru half-collapsed in his arms, the biting cold sapping more and more strength with every passing second. She gazed upwards, spotting Storm hovering a safe distance above the school. Her tendrils would be of little use in Storm’s blizzard, and given how the swirling snow clouded her vision, she couldn’t aim accurately with her dark power.

With Storm safely out of Naru’s reach, that gave the other X-Men the perfect chance to strike. The remaining Sailor Senshi had gone first, in the hopes that a less extreme method would render Naru docile. To Beast’s regret, Sailor Mars’s ofuda had weakened Naru considerably, but that was all. Still, between that and Storm’s blizzard, the probability of the X-Men’s stratagem succeeding went up considerably, now that it was their turn.

Thanks to the cover Storm’s blizzard afforded, Beast climbed over the roof’s edge, barreling toward Naru on all fours. Naru didn’t even see him until he was practically on top of her and Umino. He shoved aside Umino as gently as he could, while grabbing Naru and throwing her against the cooling tower with a roar. He threw Naru with such force, the cooling tower was nearly ripped free of the roof.

Beast absentmindedly brushed away some snow clinging to the fur lining his face as Naru rose to glare at him. “It’s regrettable that twice in the span of a week, circumstances force me to strike at the fairer sex,” Beast grumbled. “Even worse when it involves a prospective new student. After that day we spent together, I was looking forward to seeing you in my class, Ms. Osaka. I take it you’ve rejected our offer for enrollment?”

“Wow, you are the smart one,” Naru spat sardonically over the howl of the blizzard. She cut loose with some bolts of dark power, but with his agility and acrobatics, Beast had no trouble staying one step ahead. Besides, this would wear Naru out further, the whole point of their strategy. Indeed, she was getting noticeably slower. Naru had no chance to react when Beast barreled ahead, sinking his fist into her gut and sending her skidding across the frozen water covering much of the roof.

Still, Naru had enough fight left in her to rise again almost immediately. “That won’t do you any good, McCoy! You know I have more than four times your strength!” She charged at him, fist reared back. But Beast simply sidestepped Naru, and her punch clumsily sailed past him.

“One cannot argue with cold, hard numbers, Ms. Osaka. Indubitably, your strength surpasses mine.” Naru threw another punch, but Beast ducked aside and grabbed Naru’s waist with his bare feet. “Fortunately for everyone’s favorite big blue ball of fuzzy goodness, I can fall back on my greater agility, speed and experience.” Beast fell onto his back, spinning on the ice, hopefully making Naru insanely dizzy in the process. When he let go, Beast chucked her at the downed water tower. Naru splatted against it with a loud clang before slumping back down to the roof.

“Wow, Storm’s making it so cold, I’m surprised Naru didn’t stick to it,” said Venus. The Senshi walked up to him, along with Umino.

“Please, Dr. McCoy, let me talk to her,” pleaded Umino. “M-M-M-Maybe I can get her to stop…”

“People have been trying all day, Umino,” said Mars. “It’s only made Naru angrier.”

“Give it time, Mr. Umino,” said Beast. “Mars’s spiritual powers couldn’t quite incapacitate Ms. Osaka, but this certainly will. At any rate, my role is concluded. Only Logan and Kitty are needed now.”

As if answering to his name, Wolverine suddenly climbed over the roof’s edge, near the downed water tower. Just as Naru picked herself up again, Wolverine rushed right up to her. Beast heard Umino and the Sailor Senshi gasp in horror when they saw Wolverine was still brandishing the claws he used to scale the walls. Naru let out a bloodcurdling shriek as a set of adamantium claws sank into her gut.

“McCoy, w-w-w-what’s…” Jupiter began, incredulous. “You X-Men said you could bring Naru in without harming her if we couldn’t! What part of GUTTING Naru fits the definition of ‘unharmed’!?”

“Let it play out, Sailor Jupiter,” Beast urged. He was just as regretful as Naru’s friends, that things had come to this, but they had no choice but to see it through. “Logan was very careful to avoid severing Ms. Osaka’s spine, or letting his claws penetrate too deeply. Don’t forget, Ms. Mizuno deduced that her oil slick can seal otherwise fatal wounds almost instantaneously, even with this blizzard weakening its protein matrix. Not as efficacious as Logan’s healing factor, but it will ensure there is no lasting harm.”

Jupiter muttered something under her breath, but otherwise she seemed placated. Wolverine had pulled his claws out almost immediately, giving Naru’s oil slick a chance to do just that. Still, despite the abuse Naru had taken over the last few minutes, she wasn’t ready to yield. A burst of black lightning blasted Wolverine toward where Beast, Umino and the Senshi stood. Beast could see Naru’s blood was already frozen onto Wolverine’s claws, a sight which certainly wouldn’t sit well with the others. “Man, this kid’s even tougher than we thought,” Wolverine grumbled as he sat up. “Both the Senshi and the X-Men’ve been lettin’ her have it, and she’s still on her feet. Really is a shame we ain’t gonna be fittin’ her for uniforms from the looks of it.”

A quick glance back over at Naru showed Wolverine may have spoken too soon. Having adamantium claws rip into her took more out of her than she was willing to admit. She stumbled as she trudged forward, bombarded by the unrelenting blizzard. That gave Shadowcat her opening. She rose up through the roof, right behind Naru. Shadowcat grabbed Naru by the shoulder and whirled her around, plunging something else into her gut.

“I-I-I don’t get it, McCoy,” said Mars. “W-W-What’d Pryde just hit Naru with?” Sailor Mars got her answer when Naru turned around as she stumbled about, gazing in disbelief at the syringe stuck where one of Wolverine’s claws had cut into her intestines, the plunger depressed.

“W-W-Wait… You guys stuck her with Ami’s chemical cocktail?” Venus demanded. “You X-Men made some more?”

“Rather, Nathan made a point of fishing the final canister of Sailor Mercury’s chemical weapon out of the sea,” explained Beast. “He insisted that we keep it as a contingency.”

“Even I was reluctant to go along with that,” growled Wolverine. “After spendin’ all that time with Osaka, seein’ that she was really a sweet kid, I figured we wouldn’t need it. Even the ol’ Canucklehead makes mistakes.”

“At any rate, this more or less solves the problem of her oil slick automatically sequestering a chemical assault, by injecting Ms. Mizuno’s concoction in such a direct fashion,” Beast added. “Furthermore, it makes the CNS depressing properties of the drugs even more efficacious.”

Indeed, Naru was already on her knees again, gazing up with a pleading look at Shadowcat. Shadowcat simply shook her head, her gaze full of disappointment, but also sorrow. Naru tried to bring forth her oil slick after pulling the syringe out, but it bubbled out like any other liquid, and soon froze against her skin. Soon after that, she collapsed onto the roof, drained by the cold and the sedatives in Ami’s weapon.

“NARU!? NO!” cried Umino as he rushed over to her. By the time he reached Naru, the blizzard abruptly stopped, and Storm touched down onto the roof. The X-Men and Sailor Senshi formed a circle around the two of them, none of them particularly happy about how this turned out. A friend of the Senshi, and someone who the X-Men would’ve welcomed into their fold with open arms, forced to be taken down like this. As for Umino, he sobbed as he cradled Naru in his arms. She barely clung to consciousness, the drugs swiftly taking effect.

“Naru, if you can hear me, please understand that we did not wish to do this,” said Storm. “But the X-Men have a duty to protect humans from mutants who refuse to use their power responsibly, and the Sailor Senshi swore to protect this city from dark forces. You left us no choice.”

“I still can’t believe you did all that, Naru,” added Shadowcat. “I thought we got through to you. We had a plan to get you past your legal troubles, and you threw it all away!”

“D-D-Don’t worry about me, K-K-Kitty,” Naru croaked, her eyes barely open. “Y-Y-You won’t be seeing me again…” With her last ounce of strength, she reached up to pull Umino down onto her, clutching him tightly.

“W-W-What in… She’s calling upon more dark power!” cried Mars. “What’s she up to!? Jupiter, Beast… SOMEONE knock her out before she can do… whatever!”

Mars was cut off when Naru let out a scream, dark power crackling all over her and Umino. Black fire seemed to wash over them as well. And then, in the next instant, they vanished in a flash of that black blaze.

“Oh no, did Naru just…” Venus couldn’t finish her thought, didn’t dare voice what many of them dreaded.

“Looks more like Naru just teleported the two of them outta here,” said Wolverine. “Hey, didn’t them Shitennou jokers all have the ability to teleport?”

“B-B-But we never saw Naru teleport herself, or heard of Eclipse doing that!” Mars protested.

“Well, it would explain how Naru suddenly appeared a floor beneath Uranus and Neptune that first night we fought her,” said Jupiter. “And maybe it’s how Naru got around before Usagi clued her in about jumping across rooftops.”

“In addition, I would surmise it’s an ability that Ms. Osaka had very little fine control over, and would be reluctant to use it so casually,” said Beast. “But given that she had no other way out, she took the plunge.”

“And given how Cerebro, telepathy and Rei’s spiritual powers were all close to useless for tracking Naru down, we’ve got our work cut out for us,” said Shadowcat. “Now that Naru’s got everything she was after, we have no way to predict her next move.”
Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse
a Sailor Moon/X-Men crossover
Chapter 20: Total Eclipse of the Heart

Haruka shuffled through the papers Minako just handed her as they all stood in her garage, Michiru looking over her shoulder. After taking a moment to skim over them, she looked up to Minako. “So these are all the assets Nephrite had during his stint as Masato Sanjoin. Shell companies, investments, bought-up real estate, everything,” said Haruka. “I don’t get it. Surely all this stuff was liquidated after his death, and aside from his stake in Kizachi Technologies, none of it had any real significance for the Dark Kingdom’s machinations. Why is it relevant now?”

Minako sighed. She was sure Haruka would see the reasoning. It was easy to forget the Senshi of Wind was more about motion, about freedom, then stopping to ponder a mystery. Ami chimed in for her. “The possibility occurred to me when Naru erupted in rage, blaming us for Nephrite’s death after all this time…”

“As the old saying goes, the best place to hide something is in plain sight,” said Artemis, who was in Minako’s arms.

“The Dark Kingdom’s long gone, so we hardly gave anything they left behind a second thought. Well, of course, except for Naru now…” Minako shut her eyes, nearly tearing up. The horrible revelation that Eclipse was really Naru, that she harbored all that remained of their ancient enemy. And now, just like with the man who gave her that extra power, their friend suffered another terrible loss. One that almost goaded her into turning to the darkness. Thankfully, the X-Men stepped in and stopped that.

“But this whole mess started when Nephrite came to Kizachi,” said Ami. “So perhaps the assembly site for the Sentinels he wanted is something that was connected to him. Kitty and I are still working on breaking into computer records at Kizachi Technologies, looking for any connection. We use that information when we get it, cross-reference it with Logan’s monitoring of yakuza activity, Minako’s inside information with Interpol and any odd deliveries coming out of Kizachi Technologies, and we find the Sentinels.”

Michiru’s expression brightened, and Haruka actually looked a bit hopeful. Still, pessimism tempered Haruka’s hopes. “It’s a good idea, but Kizachi’s clever. She might figure we’d use Nephrite’s assets to track her, and she’s had time to find an alternate site by now.”

“Still, it remains our best hope to find those monstrosities before they’re unleashed,” Michiru chided. “And speaking of yakuza activity and Logan, how is he doing on that front?”

“On the warpath ever since Naru’s mother died,” Artemis grumbled darkly.

“Makoto, Mamoru and I offered to help, but he said this was something best left to him,” said Minako with an acid bite. “So much for the Sailor Senshi and the X-Men working together.”

“Most likely, this is part of the X-Men’s wish for the Senshi to emerge from this without tarnished reputations,” said Michiru.

“Worrying about keeping our reputations squeaky-clean hasn’t done Naru any favors, or brought us closer to smashing Kizachi’s toys,” spat Haruka. “I’m close to saying the Senshi just bring Kizachi Technologies crumbling down, consequences be damned.”

“Actually, I’m with Xavier on this,” said Michiru. “It would barely slow Kizachi down.”

“Besides, this mess with Sentinels started with Nephrite, but a building getting brought down is probably what truly made Kizachi our enemy,” added Ami.

Haruka glanced back over to Ami, befuddled. “I don’t get it. What building? What are you talking about?”

“She told you two to go digging into her past, didn’t she?” Minako handed Haruka another batch of papers. “Another gift from my Interpol buddies.”

Haruka and Michiru skimmed through the new papers. “Police reports on the Juban Odyssey building. Taken over by… some tree that grew from within and mysteriously vanished?”

“When you two began nipping at the heels of the Death Busters, the Inner Senshi had their own extraterrestrial threat to take down,” said Artemis.

“The Makai Tree,” said Ami. “We neutralized the threat, but not before the entire condominium was hollowed out and decimated. Keep reading…”

The two Outer Senshi read on in silence for a moment, but then their expressions darkened. “This was where the Kizachi family used to live,” said Haruka.

“And their daughter, Erika Kizachi, was killed in the incident,” said Michiru.

“This is it. Here’s the reason Kizachi loathes Sailor Moon,” said Minako. “She must blame Usagi for her daughter’s death.”

“And now her quest for vengeance led to the death of another innocent,” spat Haruka, the papers crumpling in her fist.

“Speaking of which, just… how is Naru?” Minako asked delicately.

“Still completely clammed up,” said Michiru. “She’s barely said a sentence to us since we shepherded her here.”

“She had good reason to detest us, given our utter failure to keep everything from collapsing all around her,” grumbled Haruka. “Hence my impatience. If we don’t get Naru results soon, I fear keeping her from joining Magneto will have made little difference.”

Minako didn’t know what to say. Right then, or to Naru. She hadn’t been there when Nephrite or her mother died. How could she tell Naru it would be alright when the hits just kept coming? Perhaps it was best to stick to this investigation, work to get results for Naru, like Haruka said. There was little else the Senshi could do, after she lost so much.

“She’s hurting, but I still sense strength from her, and I’m not talking about being bench pressing a bus,” said Michiru. “I’d like to think Naru will come out of this in better shape than, oh I don’t know, your dirtbike.” Michiru glanced over to the corner of the garage, where the mangled remains of Haruka’s dirtbike lay.

It had been an awkward start, for sure, having to bring that wreck back. “Oh yeah, funny story about that,” Minako said innocently, rubbing the back of her head as she shut her eyes. “You see, Artemis kind of came out of nowhere, chasing Lockheed, and…”

“Oh DON’T blame this on me!” hissed Artemis in annoyance.

“Yes, Minako, don’t,” muttered Haruka, looking defeated. “Please, when it comes to the dirtbike, just don’t ANYTHING.”

Naru kept the guest room dark on purpose, the lights off and the curtains closed, daylight barely seeping in. Right now, darkness suited her. After all, darkness was a permanent part of her arsenal. Every cell of her body able to harness its power, thanks to Nephrite. Naru thought she was over losing him, but realizing he transferred his power revealed just how raw that stab to her heart was. And now, losing her mother was like someone ripped her beating heart out.

And still, Wolverine has no idea who did this to her, Naru thought acidly as she sat back down on the bed. Some gaijin he is. The X-Men are proving to be as disappointing as the Sailor Senshi! Losing faith in the Sailor Senshi had been a long, painful road. How could they keep saving the world over and over, but let the people she cared about slip through their fingers? Even worse, they came after her when she took up the persona later dubbed Eclipse. The ones who failed Nephrite and her mother, they turned their power on her when she took matters into her own hands! Did the dirty jobs that seemed beneath them!

Completely ignoring those thugs that harassed my mother and then killed her, and so many others... Fighting for love and justice, HAH! Where were the Senshi when the people I loved really needed them!? When so many others needed them!? Naru thought to herself bitterly. And not just that… What about all the other mutants here in Japan!? No doubt they’re just as terrified as I was. And now Sentinels are being built, and the Senshi don’t even know WHERE! Maybe I</b> should give it a shot! I was smart enough to track yakuza activity all these months, and I’ve got power of my own! Power none of them can match!

Naru looked down at her arm. This morning, she changed into her fireproof, short-sleeved middle school uniform, which helped hide ooze seeping out of her torso. She let dark energy crackle down her arm. With the room dark already, bringing that power to the surface was oddly… illuminating.

Then she willed some oily ooze to flow down her arm. It coalesced into her open palm. Obeying her thoughts, she made her oil slick assume a variety of shapes. One of the tricks Umino urged her to practice in private, to improve precise control. First Naru made it take the shape of Tokyo Tower, then a grizzly bear, then the dirtbike that she heard Minako wrecked. Finally, on a whim, she had her ooze assume the shape of a rabbit.

A rabbit… The animal tied to her old friend Usagi, what her name more or less meant. The Rabbit of the Moon. Even without considering that, Naru suspected for some time who Usagi really was. Still, having the whole story behind Sailor Moon laid bare had been overwhelming. The conflict she and Nephrite were locked in actually started many millennia ago? Her friend was a reincarnated princess from a fallen kingdom, and was destined to lead the whole world to a prosperous future as its queen!?

At first, it was simply astonishment. The girl who could barely get her homework done on time was going to reign as queen? Now, though, the thought threatened to make Naru’s blood boil.

Naru closed her fist, squelching the ooze-rabbit within it. For a moment, Naru watched the oily goo dribble through her fingers. Even now, after working so long to master this power, Naru had to admit it still looked disgusting. Her, turning out to be a mutant with noxious-looking powers, a brute, now distrusted and feared just for doing what she felt was right. Her old life, gone forever. All while Sailor Moon, the one who let her down twice in the worst way, still basked in the adoration of the Japanese, a paragon of beauty and grace. Well, sort of graceful…

It wasn’t fair! Mystique had the right of it! Sailor Moon was still seen as a hero, while everyone in Japan was screaming for Naru’s head, just for being born different! Usagi and her boyfriend would go on to become queen and king, their love to blossom forever? What about her? What about her future? What was so special about those two!? She found love again, too! What made the love between them any more special than what she and Umino had? Why was theirs destined to bloom into a beacon for the entire world, when there was no guarantee she and Umino would even make it out of this mess together?

Umino… Professor Xavier and Rei were right about one thing, at least. Joining the Acolytes wasn’t the way to ensure Umino’s safety. But if they were going to survive, if there was a chance for their love last the way Usagi and Mamoru’s was destined to… If they were to become something more, to ECLIPSE them…

Naru realized she had to do it herself. No X-Men. No Sailor Senshi. If all these tragedies proved anything, there was no one to rely on but herself.

Thanks to Nephrite, her body had command over the darkness.

Now, Naru welcomed that same darkness into her heart and soul.

Haruka sat in front of the new television she had to buy, her anger still simmering, not sure what to make of their current situation. She and Michiru spent over a year investigating Death Buster activity, yet whenever they tried to replicate that same success alone, the two kept hitting a wall. How could the woman they had to SAVE from two Death Busters be better at covering her tracks than them!? At least Minako and Ami made it sound like it was no longer a question of if they found the heart of Erina Kizachi’ operation, but when.

But Erina Kizachi and her Sentinels were only part of the problem. Now Magneto and his hordes were in Japan. Haruka resented the idea of the Senshi needing any help with that, but after getting a taste of what Magneto’s power could do, any doubt Usagi made a bad call was erased. The Sailor Senshi were getting clobbered from all sides, by threats they didn’t fully understand. No wonder Usagi figured she should bring in people who did.

It still tore at Usagi, though, that the X-Men had no easy answers for what tormented her the most: the rising tide of anti-mutant hysteria. For so long, Haruka had been so laser-focused on stopping the Silence, what might happen after she and Michiru achieved that wasn’t given much thought. Usagi was different, though. She could spare a thought for what came after, had such a big heart there was ample room for empathy for those in the world she fought to save, over and over again. And now that it looked as if Sailor Moon finally vanquished all her enemies, her country was coming apart, and she was powerless to stop it.

A fact made terribly clear by what was on the television. Kizachi’s wretched husband was on again in some mid-morning news show. This time, Haruka kept any heavy objects out of arm’s reach. Watching him closely might give extra insight into his wife’s plans, but it was the other guest speaker that intrigued Haruka more. He was out of the country, but could still be shown on another screen.

“So the mighty Sunfire steps into it at last,” said Michiru, walking into the living room. “If anything, he makes me glad that the Senshi don’t need masks. He looks like a big, red and white bug.”

“Who might put Seto Kizachi in his place, or at least make him slip up,” said Haruka. “The X-Men speak highly of this guy. Perhaps Xavier put him up to this, told him how to bait him into telling more than he should…”

Seto Kizachi certainly didn’t need any urging to run his mouth. “And don’t forget the girl calling herself Eclipse is no isolated incident!” he bellowed at Sunfire’s screen. “Reports of assaults by mutants have jumped exponentially in the last month alone. This is a growing problem, and by making excuses you are complicit. Perhaps it is expected that you’re reluctant to rein in fellow mutants. Too bad the Sailor Senshi have no such excuse. They’ve gone from actively fighting mutant perpetrators to actually showing sympathy for criminal scum like Eclipse!”

Shiro Yoshida didn’t hesitate to fire back. “So simply stating fact is ‘making excuses’?” he demanded hotly. “Much of what you call ‘reports of assaults’ are simply children with little or no control over their emerging powers. And let’s not forget the rising number of assaults perpetrated against mutant citizens who have committed no crime. At the end of the day, rhetoric like this only makes things worse. Go on, Councillor, keep telling other mutants in our nation that they’re all essentially guilty until proven innocent. Show them it doesn’t matter, that they’ll be looked down upon no matter what they do.”

“Such as assaulting citizens simply for being suspected of yakuza ties!? Taking the law into their own hands!?” Seto demanded. “Acting like a vigilante that hides in the night… I thought you detested that sort of thing, Yoshida.”

“I do. But do forgive me for thinking that rescuing complete strangers on a monorail car, at the expense of her secret identity, shows there’s more to Naru Osaka,” spat Sunfire.

“Again, it seems you are going to great lengths to defend this girl,” said Seto.

“Perhaps you’re right. Perhaps she reminds me of myself. Now she’s lost her mother, most likely because of poison meant for her, or someone wanting to punish her mother for the terrible crime of having a mutant child,” Sunfire shot back testily. “And the way so many, including you, just brush that aside, is very dangerous. Again, go on. Tell all the mutants of our country that their families mean nothing as well, guilt by association. Create fertile soil for madmen like Magneto to plant seeds of chaos and destruction. And you best hope that Eclipse herself isn’t listening. I eventually saw the error of my ways. Saw that I brought shame to my homeland in a mad quest to avenge my dead mother. Osaka may see things differently…”

The back and forth continued, with Seto Kizachi’s comebacks becoming more and more provocative. Not really trying to win an argument, just bullying and prodding. “I wonder how brave he’d be if Shiro Yoshida was there in person?” Michiru grumbled.

“Still, Sunfire has him pinned,” said Haruka. “Yoshida commands flame, but Seto’s the one trying to throw embers on dry brush. Yet somehow, I don’t think he’s got an agenda of his own. He may not even be aware of what his wife is up to. Merely a puppet, and he can’t even see his strings. If only we could figure out…”

Haruka was interrupted by the phone ringing. After muting the television, Haruka put the phone on speaker. “Is that you, Minako? Please tell me you’ve got something good already…”

The voice that replied was… quite unwelcome. “Ooooh, almost forgot about the other lovely lady I met in that arcade. How’s she doin’?” came Gambit’s quippy reply.

Haruka fought to keep her ire down. It wasn’t exactly heartbreaking when Gambit returned to the United States. Thankfully, Michiru answered for her. “Do what do we owe this pleasure, Remy?”

“Thought I’d check in after windin’ down from that tussle wit’ Mojo in the Rockies. Dancing wit’ Spiral… Six arms, all those swords, you’d have a ball tanglin’ wit’ her, Haruka dear.” Haruka rolled her eyes, wishing the Cajun would get on with it. “Anyway, the Professor’s brought me up to speed about what’s been goin’ down since I left. I hear Naru’s stayin’ at your place. How is she?”

“Completely shut herself off,” said Haruka. “She said she won’t join Magneto, but that’s small comfort when seeing her like this.”

“We just gotta give her time, then,” said Remy. “If there’s nothin’ to report there, well, let’s talk about you.”

“Oh, don’t start that again!” snapped Haruka.

“C’mon Haruka, you think I’m gonna start talkin’ dirty when Rogue’s probably in earshot?” Remy asked delicately. “I was thinkin’ more about how I hear you ran into a few of our ‘friends’ the other night. Namely, the big, smelly sucker…”

“You mean Sabretooth?” asked Michiru.

“That be him,” said Remy. There was a subtle, yet undeniable, edge to Remy’s voice now. “Bad enough the buckethead is there to lead ‘em all personally, but that big ugly kitty… There’s things you gotta know about him, things Logan may not wanna talk about…”

“Oh, I held my own against him just fine,” spat Haruka dismissively. “What, were you going to insist that I let Wolverine handle him?”

“He’s had the most experience with him, sure, but that’s not what I be gettin’ at,” said Remy. “You held your own, for a while. But against a monster like Victor Creed, you gotta be prepared to go in for the kill, end it as soon as you can. Permanently. Because you best believe Creed always will be.”

“I thought the X-Men were against killing,” Michiru pointed out.

There was a long pause. “Sabretooth’s… different. We X-Men only kill when absolutely necessary. When Creed’s on the prowl, more often than not it’ll be necessary. A throat shot wit’ that sword, Haruka, will do a number. If you fight him again and you see an opening, I’m tellin’ ya now to TAKE IT.”

“Sounds like you’ve got a history with Creed along with Logan,” said Haruka.

“That, unfortunately, I do,” said Remy. Now there were subtle hints of… shame? “He’s a constant reminder of… Well, just promise me that before he can do anythin’ like that again in the Land of the Rising Sun, you’ll be puttin’ a stop to it.”

This was a nice change of pace. An X-Man who didn’t exactly disapprove of her and Michiru’s tactics. Haruka was more interested in just what it was about Sabretooth that could get Gambit so worked up. Maybe the answer was in other files the X-Men shared with the Senshi. But before Haruka could press the issue, she noticed Naru had finally emerged from the guest room. “I’ll get back to you on that, Remy,” Haruka said hastily before pressing the button to hang up.

“Putting down dangerous mutants… Not as if the Sailor Senshi needed any encouragement for that before,” said Naru coolly. She stood there in her old school uniform. On the outside, she still looked very much like the girl Usagi introduced them to over a year ago. But something was different now, something Haruka couldn’t put her finger on. There was still sorrow over her mother’s death, but it seemed somewhat masked by a subtle coolness in her stance, in her words…

“Oh Naru, it’s good you’ve finally come out,” said Michiru. Haruka could sense the care Michiru put in choosing her words. She also sensed something was terribly off. “Is there… anything we can do for you?”

“What I need… I don’t need the Senshi for anything. Not anymore,” said Naru dryly.

“Naru, what…” Michiru began.

“You’re angry still, I get it. You have every right to be,” said Haruka. “We’re going to make it right.”

“Yeah, everything’s been looking up since the Sailor Senshi got on the case,” spat Naru, glancing at the television. Seto Kizachi was still going on, despite Sunfire leaving the program. Even with it muted, the sheer vehemence of his vitriol bled through.

“Logan’s been tearing through Japan’s underworld ever since… you lost your mother, Naru,” Michiru pleaded. “If anyone can get a whiff of her killer, quite literally, it’s him. Once he does, we’ll all pounce. We’ll do whatever it takes to help you.”

“The way you two ‘helped’ Hotaru Tomoe?” Naru demanded. Haruka could see Naru clench her fists. Likewise, Naru could sense how they were taken aback by the subtle accusation.  “Yeah, don’t forget, Usagi told me EVERYTHING.”

Nice going, Odango, Haruka thought bitterly. “Naru, you have to understand, that was entirely different…”

“Was it?” Naru challenged. “You rushed in, convinced you had to kill a fellow Senshi for the greater good, before bothering to learn the whole story. No surprise you jumped as soon as you got a whiff of the Senshi’s old enemy. Figuring out Eclipse was also a mutant didn’t give the Senshi any pause, either.”

“We learned from our mistake, Naru!” Michiru protested. “That was why we, well…”

“Made a chemical weapon, just for me?” Naru finished, fixing Michiru with an icy glare. “And if that failed, what was the next step!?”

Naru had Michiru pinned, so Haruka stepped back in. “Naru, please, we realize how badly we misjudged! We’re trying to make it right!”

“Not hard enough!” roared Naru. “While you two were getting your asses handed to you by Magneto, my mother lay dying of poison probably meant for me! What good are either of you!?”

“Naru, what’s gotten into you!?” demanded Michiru. “We thought the X-Men got through to you!”

“The X-Men just showed me Magneto can’t be trusted,” said Naru coldly. “But now I see I can’t trust them either. Or any of you!” With that, Naru raised an outstretched hand and unleashed a blast of dark power. It was forceful enough to slam Michiru against the wall. This time, without the benefit of Sailor Neptune’s endurance, she was out cold instantly.

“Michiru!” cried Haruka, fury swiftly overpowering her sorrow and shame. On instinct, Haruka grabbed a nearby chair and charged, smashing it over Naru’s head. Predictably, it shattered to splinters, and Naru didn’t even flinch. After shooting Haruka an amused look, her ooze flowed. The next thing Haruka knew, Naru had her ensnared in oily tendrils. She slammed Haruka up against the ceiling, then flung her at the entertainment center, almost knocking over the television. “Oh come on, we just replaced that!” Haruka protested, right before Naru flung her across the house. She sailed through the kitchen and crashed through the door to the garage, stopping only when she collided against her Ferrari.

“Ugh, note to self… Don’t ever do that again without transforming first,” Haruka muttered weakly. She tried to pick herself up, every muscle screaming in protest. Barely able to get on her knees and one hand, her transformation stick slid down her sleeve. Haruka was about to raise it, but suddenly, she felt it yanked away.

“Oh no you don’t,” she heard Naru sneer icily. Glancing over her shoulder, Haruka saw a tendril with her stick retracting toward Naru’s hand. Naru stared at it for a moment, and Haruka could only guess what was going through the girl’s head. No doubt it had to do with how she once wanted to be a Sailor Senshi. Seeing the cold contempt in Naru’s eyes, Haruka knew those days were truly over. A horrible possibility came to Haruka… Was she strong enough to crush it? Thankfully, Naru didn’t bother trying. She simply threw it toward the back of the garage. It embedded itself in the wall with a spray of paint chips.

Haruka stared at that spot in the wall, crawling toward it. She didn’t get very far before Naru’s foot sank into her gut, flipping her over. Haruka screamed, and screamed again when Naru reached down and grabbed her wrist so hard, she almost broke it, but settled for hearing Haruka’s communicator watch get ground into powder. “Now that that’s taken care of… Don’t be getting all excited, Haruka.” That was when Haruka felt Naru’s hand reach into her pant pocket. She heard Naru pull out her car keys. “I still need to borrow some wheels. I’d use the dirtbike instead but, well, Minako…”

“Just add insult to injury, why don’t you?” Haruka spat weakly, right before coughing up blood.

“Well, that and… this,” said Naru. With an outstretched hand, Naru shot out globs of her ooze, pinning Haruka’s hands and feet to the garage floor.

“Again with this, Naru?” demanded Haruka. “Why? We were willing to overlook all the other times you came after the Senshi, but this? People like Seto Kizachi want the world to think mutants like you are beyond redemption. You want to prove them right?”

“We’re seen as pariahs no matter what we do,” Naru said coldly as she stepped into the car. “Humans are determined to see us as monsters. Well, they’ll get a monster now.”

With that, Naru shut the door, just as the garage door slid up. The tires screeched as the Ferrari barreled out of the garage. “Oh c’mon, don’t leave me with another wreck!” Haruka shrieked as she craned her head up, watching her Ferrari careen down the road and out of sight.

Naru knew that with her array of powers, stealing a car wasn’t necessary. Still, there were plenty of reasons for jacking Haruka’s wheels. One last way to antagonize her and Michiru, for instance. After this was all done, she wouldn’t have a chance to do that, with any of the Senshi. It would finally be time to leave them all behind.

Another was just for the thrill. It wasn’t every day one got to drive a muscle car like a Ferrari, especially when you didn’t even have a license. Plus, there was knowing what she was doing was a flagrant violation of the law. Granted, her antics with the yakuza broke a whole litany of laws, but she had no choice there. It was out of necessity. If she was doomed to be an outlaw now, might as well enjoy the freedom that offered, take whatever she wanted. Besides, it’s not like laws protected her family, so what good were they to her?

Still, there was a practical reason. By using Haruka’s car, no one would see her closing in on her first target. There were still a few hours of sunlight. If she had chosen to travel across Tokyo via the rooftops, Naru ran the risk of being spotted.

Of course, someone on the road could also recognize her. Naru figured that the jacket and baseball cap she found in the car would keep her disguised. So far, her trek into Tokyo had been uneventful. Naru let herself be lost in the music blasting from the car as she came to a stop at a red light. But when another car pulled up at her right, Naru heard someone cry out.

“Hey, since when does someone who can use oil spills like slung webs need such a sweet ride!?” Naru slowly turned to see a man a few years older than her, grinning broadly like an idiot, driving a fancy red sports car. That car… It reminded her of what Masato Sanjoin used to drive, though this guy was nowhere near as charming. “So where’s the love and justice freak and the big, blue baboon!?” he went on. Naru did her best to ignore him. Idiot humans like this were small potatoes, not worth getting worked up over when she had plenty to do before sundown. Still, he wouldn’t stop pestering her. “Hey, let’s see what ya got when it turns green, baby,” he said before revving his engine. Actually, that could be fun. Naru allowed herself a small smile as she let her arm hang out of the car…

When the light finally turned green, the guy tried to take off. The operative word being ‘tried’. He soon found that his fancy ride would get him nowhere. Leaning out the passenger side window, he saw the tires on the left side were melted onto the asphalt thanks to dark energy. Oily goo was clogging up a good deal as well. He saw Naru giving him the finger before she drove off, still smiling. “Well, that was an amusing distraction,” Naru told herself as she sped off. “But the real fun’s about to begin. The park where Usagi’s father has that company party shouldn’t be too far now…”

Even Usagi had to admit something was seriously wrong with her. Normally, this company picnic being thrown by the magazine her father worked for would be a perfect way to forget her troubles. Just stuff her face. It worked while undercover at Erina Kizachi’s seminar. But now that she knew what ate away at Naru, and the stabs at her heart that she suffered since, Usagi found she had almost no appetite.

Usagi sat alone at a park tables, hardly noticing all the people around her. They all seemed to be having a good time, chatting among themselves, able to forget the troubles plaguing Tokyo for the time being. That sort of thing was to be expected, Usagi figured.

At least, it used to be. Japan’s populace couldn’t be expected to understand the full implications of what the Dark Kingdom was after, or what any of the Sailor Senshi’s later enemies wanted. Things were a little different now. Mutants were something a little closer to home. Professor Xavier said that normal humans feared what they didn’t understand. Well, the people of Japan seemed to be able to get on with their lives when Sailor Moon’s old enemies were at large. Mutants were something people were more familiar with, yet fear over them was gripping Japan. Why? Why was it only mutants that seemed to spark this sort of fear?

Usagi caught snippets of gossip from the people around her, who paid the little blond girl no mind. Occasionally, it was something about Naru. Mostly astonishment at how such a sweet-looking girl could have gone on a yakuza-busting rampage, or they knew someone who owed Naru their life after that monorail disaster. Something that would spark a little hope for these people. But then there’d be some snide remark that it went to show that mutants were too dangerous. Usagi had to fight back tears. Too many people still couldn’t see past their fear. Even her own father, the biggest X-Men fanboy in Japan, had been wary of Naru.

At least he was showing regret over that. “Usagi ,dear, are you sure you don’t want anything?” Usagi heard him say. She looked up to see him standing beside the table, offering her a drink.

Usagi shook her head. “I just still can’t stop thinking about… her,” she said meekly. “I know why she couldn’t stay, Papa, but I still feel I need to do something for her. I just don’t know what.”

Kenji frowned, at a loss for an answer himself. He clearly empathized with Naru, but there was only so much he could do. “I understand, Usagi. When I heard about what… happened with her mother, I finally realized you had the right of it,” said Kenji. “I… still think I can do something positive, at least. Provided my editors don’t butcher the pieces I’m whipping up on how shameful it is, what happened with Mayumi. And if you can get me that interview with Dr. McCoy before the next deadline…”

“There’s something else, Papa,” said Usagi. “You’re an investigative reporter. Can you do some digging into… Kizachi Technologies and their founders?” Usagi didn’t consider asking this of him before. Not when Erina Kizachi might expect something like this, and not when he couldn’t possibly understand the risk. But the X-Men and Sailor Senshi were running out of time, Usagi could feel it.

Kenji shot her a quizzical look. “You mean Erina and Seto Kizachi? Well, given how that Councillor is… stirring up passions quite a bit, it could be worth a look. But his wife? Her tech company? I don’t get it. Is this some tidbit Dr. McCoy and his friends shared with you?” Kenji asked hopefully. He had pumped Usagi hard these last few days, trying to squeeze every drop of information regarding their mutant visitors. It was hard to keep so much from him. Then again, she had kept the truth about Sailor Moon from her whole family all this time.

“Can we please try to forget about McCoy and his friends for a little while?” came Ikuko’s protest suddenly. Usagi turned to see her mother approaching, holding her brother and Chibiusa’s hands. “I just want to have one day where we don’t have to worry about this… weirdness.”

“I think Naru would like that too, Ikuko-mama,” snapped Chibiusa. “But, you know, she’s going through some things…”

Yeah, way to keep the peace, you pink-haired demon, Usagi fumed inwardly, seeing how Ikuko winced. Of course, Usagi knew she couldn’t be too hard on her future daughter. She herself had unloaded on her mother days before. Why did there have to be so much tension in the family now? Normally, Sailor Senshi business didn’t cause strife at home, just the bad test scores she had to show them.

“You’re… right, Chibiusa. I… still can’t believe Mayumi is gone,” said Ikuko. There was no mistaking the sadness in her voice, the regret. “By the time I found out, Naru was gone. I wish I knew where she was, if only to apologize.”

Usagi brightened a little. At least her mother was coming around. Now if only more people in Japan would. Just as hope was nearly rekindled within Usagi, circumstances threatened to squelch it once more. Usagi was still lost in her concern for Naru, so it took a moment for her to notice the commotion. At first, it was startled gasps and worried ramblings, but eventually Usagi turned to its source. Many of the people attending the company picnic were staring at something, the anxiety radiating off them palpable.

Then there was an angry outburst from some man. “Hey you little freakshow, what are you…” He was cut off when some force flung him across the park, screaming, only to splash down in the lake. Usagi gulped. She had a nasty feeling she knew who was crashing this party.

The crowd soon parted. That was when Usagi saw Naru approaching, wearing her customized short-sleeved uniform, oily ooze cascading down her bare arms. Not only that, occasionally there was a crackle of dark energy about Naru. Ooze partially covered her face, as it had when she ventured out as Eclipse. Naru made no effort to hide her powers anymore. Rather, she seemed to be flaunting them.

Naru’s gaze soon locked with Usagi’s. She turned to walk toward Usagi’s family, never breaking stride. There was something else about Naru. All her self-doubt, all her anxiety over being a mutant, gone. It was as if Naru finally embraced who and what she was. But that icy gaze made Usagi feel a stab of dread, rather than relief for her friend.

Chibiusa pulled her hand free of Ikuko’s as Naru stopped beside the park table, clearly getting the same bad vibes. Her grip tightened on Luna-P, wanting to be ready in case something happened. Naru paid the little girl no mind, and ignored the bemused stares of everyone else, her gaze focused solely on Usagi. “Hello Usagi,” Naru said coolly. “Normally, I’d be a bit insulted that I wasn’t invited to a party along with you. But given certain circumstances, I think I can at least forgive that…”

“Naru, what are you doing here?” Usagi hissed, standing up. “You need to keep a low profile, remember? What about Haruka and Michiru? Where are they?”

“Back at their house. They’re in a… better condition than my mother was,” Naru said, softly but icily. Usagi’s blood ran cold. No, that couldn’t mean what she feared it did. Naru had been genuinely horrified by that footage the X-Men showed her, what it meant to be a mutant turned evil! Wouldn’t that keep her from going bad!? Or was her anger and heartbreak just too great?

“Naru, I’m… so sorry about what happened to Mayumi,” said Ikuko, daring to take a step closer. “I still can’t believe she’s been taken from you.”

“I can,” said Naru. “After everything I’ve seen humans do these last few months, nothing about what your kind does can surprise me anymore.”

“Naru, don’t talk like that!” Usagi pleaded. “She’s not like that! She doesn’t hate you!”

“But she was certainly afraid of me, Usagi. Afraid of my kind. You told me what she said after seeing the X-Men and Sailor Senshi go at it on TV,” said Naru. “She still doesn’t trust me. No one in Japan does.”

“Naru, what’s gotten into you!?” demanded Chibiusa.

“Nothing. I’ve just had my eyes opened. Magneto showed me one thing, at least. There’s just no way humanity will ever accept me,” said Naru calmly and coolly, shrugging her shoulders. “I clean up the streets of yakuza thugs, I save a falling monorail car, and what do I get? A dead mother to bury, the authorities out for my head, everyone in Japan screaming for it to be put on a pike. Why wait for that lawyer from America, Usagi? Any trial I get would be a sham. I’m done pretending otherwise.”

This was a living nightmare. Usagi thought she would be spared this anguish, seeing Naru lose all hope. But here was her old friend, embracing being a mutant in the absolute worst way. Giving up on humanity, her friends, on any desire to use her power to help people. And doing it in such a cool, collected fashion, without a hint of regret. “Naru, you can’t mean that,” Usagi pleaded softly. “And M-M-M-Magneto… You said you wouldn’t join him!”

“And I won’t,” said Naru darkly. “I don’t need him or his cronies, just like I don’t need the X-Men. Protecting the people that fear and hate me? I’ve already tried that, and it’s cost me plenty!”

“So it’s true. The X-Men really did make you an offer,” said Kenji.

“And Usagi will tell them for me that they can go pound sand,” spat Naru. “After all, she knows your heroes personally, Mr. Tsukino. For a very good reason.” Naru turned back to Usagi. “You kept it from me for far too long, Usagi. I think it’s time you let your family know, too. Let everyone in Japan know…”

Naru took a step closer, prompting Ikuko to grab Shingo and hold him close. Naru let out an amused snort. “Oh, your mother wounds me, Usagi. Does she think I’m THAT far gone, that I’d hurt an innocent child?” Usagi was about to breathe a sigh of relief, but then Naru said, “Grown men and women, however…”

Her ooze bubbled forth, forming tendrils that ensnared Kenji and Ikuko, pulling them toward her. Usagi was about to dart after them, but Naru forced her parents down onto their knees, a hand over both their heads.

“Dr. McCoy measured the crushing force of my bare hands, remember Usagi?” Naru taunted as her parents cried out in pain. “It’s well above the maximum amount of pressure needed to crush a human skull. But controlling the amount of pressure… That’s a tricky bit. Haven’t quite mastered that aspect of my powers…” Someone in the crowd worked up the nerve to try to tackle Naru from behind. She swatted him away with an oily tendril, without even looking. “Well, today’s not his day to be a hero, Usagi. What about you? You want to save your family? You know how do to it.”

“Naru, you can’t do this! W-W-W-What did we do to deserve this!? I-I-I-I was trying to make it up to you!” Ikuko cried out in between yelps of pain.

“Can you undo what your kind did, killing one of your own just because she gave birth to me?” spat Naru. “Don’t kid yourself, you were as scared as all the other Homo sapiens. And even your husband, ever the X-Men fanboy, needed to be bribed to help me! You’ll both thank me, though, once Usagi finally spills her secret.”

“What secret!?” demanded Kenji. “Usagi, are you a mutant too!?”

“No way, Papa!” cried Shingo. “If she’s a mutant, I would be too!”

“Sharp kid, your brother,” said Naru, never taking her eyes off Usagi. “I still find it hard to believe he’s related to you…”

“Enough, Naru,” said Chibiusa stonily. “You’re bluffing. We saw you lose your lunch after seeing what the Acolytes did in that hospital. There’s no way you’re so full of hate, you’d stoop to slaughter like that yourself.”

Naru chuckled, shutting her eyes. “Again, what a smart kid. I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around the fact that she’s actually your future daughter, Usagi. She must get it from her father.”

“Chibiusa… Future daughter!?” demanded Ikuko. “What’s going on!? W-W-What are you blathering about!?”

“Well, your granddaughter has me pinned about not stooping to murder…” But just as Usagi hoped that Chibiusa truly called a bluff, Naru let go of their heads and grabbed their arms instead. “I’ll just settle for crushing a couple humerus bones so severely, the doctors in the emergency room will be forced to amputate!” she shrieked, hoisting her parents onto their feet. Usagi shuddered upon hearing them scream again. Her previous threat was a bluff, but Usagi wasn’t so sure about this one. “Unless Usagi finally comes clean about what she’s been hiding! Let’s see how everyone in Japan reacts when they find she’s far from normal herself!”

Usagi could feel the confused, expectant stares of everyone in the park upon her and Naru, but the cold, hurt look in Naru’s eyes was still the most crushing of all. It was then Usagi was certain Naru wasn’t bluffing. Everyone in Japan knew her secret now, and Naru was determined to see the scales balanced. Her life as she knew it was over, and she wanted Usagi to feel that same pain.

Kenji and Ikuko cried out in pain again as Naru squeezed their arms just a little tighter. There was no telling how much more pressure it would take to cause permanent damage. Naru smirked at her, knowing she had no choice. To delay now would risk her parents losing an arm. Usagi tried to tune out their screams, tears streaming out of eyes shut tightly. Unable to take it anymore, surrendering to the inevitable, Usagi raised a hand high and cried, “Moon Crisis Makeup!”

Ikuko futilely tried to wrench free of Naru’s grip, but it was like her arm was caught in a vise. She still couldn’t quite believe Naru was doing this, that she had this much anger in her. Usagi tried to assure her that Naru nearly skewering her was an accident, that her fear of mutants was unfounded. It broke Ikuko’s heart for Usagi to find out how wrong she was this way. At the moment, though, Ikuko would settle for coming out of this without a severed arm. But Naru seemed determined to coax her daughter to cough up her ‘secret’ by any means short of murder.

What could this secret be? If Usagi wasn’t a mutant too, what could have Naru so obsessed with forcing her to show the whole world? As Ikuko kept struggling, trying to block out the crushing pain, tears streaming through eyes tightly shut, she heard a cry of “Moon Crisis Makeup!”

Ikuko’s eyes snapped open. No, she couldn’t have heard that right. That wasn’t the secret. It COULDN’T be that! Not her daughter, not HER!

But light that would’ve easily burned through her eyelids greeted Ikuko, enveloping the spot where her daughter stood. Then she heard the same words, only coming from Chibiusa’s mouth, and there was another explosion of light. Ikuko stood there in Naru’s grip, mesmerized. Could this really mean… She turned to Naru, who was completely ignoring her now, focused solely on the spectacle with an expectant look.

At last, the light faded, and there stood Sailor Moon in all her splendor, alongside the younger, pink-haired Senshi. It was impossible, but her eyes told a different story. Her own daughter, the girl who couldn’t even get to school fast enough half the time, was Japan’s protector!?

Everyone else at the outdoor party was dumbstruck as well, to find this ordinary girl had been a superhero all this time. But none more than Kenji and Shingo. “Oh man, how… My sister is SAILOR MOON!?” cried Shingo.

“Usagi, all this time… And you never told us!?” cried Kenji. Ikuko had no words. All this time, just wishing Usagi would grow up and show some responsibility. And now here she stood, her superhero identity laid bare. But at the moment, she didn’t look all that heroic. Tears still streamed down her daughter’s cheeks, her eyes still pleading with Naru.

“There, it’s done!” cried Sailor Moon. The voice, the face, it was clear to Ikuko now. It was as if now that she knew who Sailor Moon really was, whatever magical gimmicks that disguised them no longer worked. “Now let them go, Naru!”

Naru shrugged her shoulders again, then shoved Ikuko and Kenji aside, no longer caring about them. Tumbling to the ground, Ikuko looked back up at the mutant girl. That look in her eyes… She wasn’t done. There was more Naru wanted from Usagi. “What’s this, Sailor Moon? No speech? No announcing you’re the guardian of love and justice, that you’re going to punish me?” Naru asked slyly. “I just threatened to rip your parents’ arms off. Come on, after that, I think I at least deserve a little speech or something. Besides, give your adoring fans a show…”

“Naru, please, this is enough!” pleaded Sailor Moon. “You got what you wanted! Everyone knows! Just stop!”

“I… don’t think so,” said Naru. “Everyone needs to see this is for real, especially dear ol’ Mom and Dad.” Naru raised a hand, and to Ikuko’s horror, a blast of what could only be called black lightning shot out. Usagi and Chibiusa ducked aside, and it struck the park table, sending splinters flying everywhere. Usagi landed on a park path, but Naru made a huge leap toward her. Usagi leaped aside, and when Naru landed, the concrete underneath was smashed apart. That black ooze seeped out again, forming tendrils that snatched up the chunks of concrete, hurling them at Usagi.

Usagi shrieked in panicky terror as she ran and ducked and jumped to avoid the barrage. It looked quite silly, but Sailor Moon’s speed and deftness… No normal person would be able to move like that. “Oh no, it’s true… She really IS Sailor Moon,” Ikuko muttered softly.

“Naru, stop! Someone in the park will get hurt!” Usagi pleaded as she ducked under the last concrete chunk.

Thankfully, it looked like most of the partygoers had retreated to a safe distance, but they all hung around to watch. As Ikuko took in all their astonished faces, wondering if they were as flabbergasted as her, she spotted Chibiusa. That weird toy she called Luna-P… She threw it onto the ground, let it bounce up, and in midair it exploded with a puff of pink smoke. No, not exploded, just changed form. Ikuko’s eyes widened when a rocket-propelled grenade launcher dropped into Chibiusa’s waiting arms!

Before Ikuko could yell for her to stop, Chibiusa fired. Unfortunately, Naru saw it coming, and snatched it up with a tendril. “Nice try, Chibi-Moon!” Naru roared before flinging the rocket back at Chibiusa. Chibiusa ducked aside, but was still caught in the blast. She was thrown back toward Ikuko, slamming into the tree behind her hard.

“Oh no, Chibiusa!” cried Ikuko as she darted to her side. Kenji and Shingo rushed over as well, astonishment still etched on their faces. As for Chibiusa, she was barely conscious. Ikuko felt for a pulse, and it felt surprisingly strong. Not to mention, it seemed no bones were broken. Taking that sort of abuse should’ve put the girl in the hospital for weeks! These two really WERE Sailor Senshi! “W-W-W-Why… Why did you never tell us?” Ikuko asked softly, tears falling again.

A wail from her daughter made Ikuko look back. Naru had closed in, black lightning crackling around her, trying to lay haymakers on Usagi. Luckily, her daughter was still staying one step ahead. “Naru, come on, enough is enough!” Usagi cried out, ducking under another punch.

“It’s enough when I say it’s enough!” snarled Naru, twisting her hips to launch a kick into Sailor Moon’s gut. Her daughter got the wind knocked out of her while getting knocked back several meters.

Ikuko wanted to rush over to her, but with Naru slowly advancing, a murderous look in her eyes, terror stopped her cold. Thankfully, Usagi was picking herself up, though she clutched her stomach. She gazed tearfully at Naru as she advanced, cracking her knuckles. But then, Ikuko saw Usagi’s gaze drift to something just beyond Naru. Ikuko followed it, and saw that the moon was low in the sky, barely visible.

She looked back to Sailor Moon when she screamed, “Moon Twilight Flash!” A huge beam of reflected light shot out of her tiara, swallowing up Naru. It forced her back over a dozen meters, eliciting a scream from her. While she was dazed and distracted, Usagi got back up, rushing toward Naru. She jumped and yelled, “Sailor Moon Kick!” She planted her foot square between Naru’s eyes while she was still off-balance, knocking her back against a tree. She slid down against the trunk, stuck in a sitting position. “Ow ow ow ow ow ow,” grumbled Sailor Moon, hopping on her other foot for a moment. “Naru, I’m so sorry it has to be like this, but…” Usagi’s hand went back to her tiara, taking it off. “Moon Tiara Action!” she shrieked as she threw it at Naru.

“Oh no, Usagi… Doesn’t that…” Ikuko muttered in a whisper, fearing the worst. To her relief, instead of cleaving Naru in half, the tiara expanded into a ring that trapped her against the base of the tree.

“Enough, Naru. It’s over. Even you can’t break free of that,” said Usagi as she walked toward the tree. She was doing her best to ignore all the stares, but Ikuko could tell they were getting to her. The disbelief as to who Sailor Moon really was. But how did she never see it before, her own mother? How could she see Sailor Moon on television all this time, and never suspect?

“Urgh,” grumbled Naru. “Yeah, it’s over. For you.” Naru sat up, and to everyone’s astonishment, uprooted the entire tree she was pinned against! Sailor Moon gasped in shock, right before Naru got on her knees and bent over to bring the tree crashing down onto her.

“USAGI!” shrieked Ikuko, just as Naru lifted the tree off of Sailor Moon. Amazingly, her daughter got right back on her feet, though dazed and in a haze of pain. But that gave Naru the opening she needed. She got back on her feet, then bent over again This time, Naru twisted her body so that the tree was swung at Usagi like a giant baseball bat! Naru swung the tree so hard, it snapped in half when it collided with Sailor Moon, sending her careening back Ikuko’s way.

There were no words for the horror Ikuko felt as she, Kenji and Shingo knelt beside her daughter. Like Chibiusa, she barely clung to consciousness, and by some miracle, no bones appeared to be broken. Getting hit with a tree and surviving without a scratch… There was no getting around it now. Her, daughter, Usagi Tsukino, really was Sailor Moon.

She may have taken all that abuse and survived, but that could easily change. A loud snap make Ikuko look back up. The part of the tree Naru was still trapped against had broken apart. Now she was slowly approaching them, a triumphant look on her face as that black lightning crackled. Usagi’s tiara had reverted to its original shape, and Naru was twirling it around her finger. With a self-satisfied grin, Naru flung it so it landed right in front of Ikuko. Terror gave way to anger. Ikuko scooped up her daughter, holding her close as she shot Naru a defiant look. Shingo and Kenji stood behind her, refusing to flee. “H-H-How could you!?” Ikuko spat. “After all the time you’ve known each other, after everything she did as Sailor Moon… HOW!?”

“Balance,” said Naru simply. “Usagi wanted to help me, know how I felt? Well, like Chibiusa said, I won’t kill in cold blood. I won’t make her feel the pain of losing family. But now, let’s see how she deals with everyone knowing the truth.” Ikuko glared up at Naru, holding Usagi tighter. “Oh, relax,” said Naru dismissively, catching the gesture. “I’m done here. Now that everyone’s seen how useless Sailor Moon really is, there’s nothing left to prove. Worry about yourself, Tsukino.”

Now Ikuko’s glare was more dubious than enraged. “W-W-Worry about… W-W-What are…”

“My mother didn’t care that I’m a mutant. That I’m… different,” said Naru coolly. “Can you say the same? Let’s see, now that you know the truth, if you’re the same way. Considering your attitude toward mutants, I doubt it.” Ikuko looked down to the girl in her arms, who seemed to be recovering already. But just as Naru said, things would never be the same, and that tore at Ikuko’s heart, not knowing what this really meant for her family.
Evil Test Tube Face
Working with organisms than can kill you can be scarier than you think...


United States
  • Listening to: Reeltime - Siuil a Run
  • Reading: Wheel of Time 13
  • Watching: Fairy Tail
  • Playing: Fire Emblem Gaiden
Seriously, fuck you. If you're whining about Zack Snyder's vision being butchered by Joss Whedon and the suits at Warner Bros., fuck you. If you're still whining that Zack Snyder is a turd blossom of a director, fuck you. If you're calling this movie too dark, fuck you. If you're saying it's trying to be too lighthearted to be more in line with Marvel movies, fuck you. If you say it's too uneven in tone, fuck you. If you're saying it's perfect and craps on the entire MCU and only fanboy dipshits can't see it, fuck you. If you're saying it's proof that the fork should finally be stuck in the DC film universe, fuck you.

Basically, to millions and millions of people, I give a double middle finger salute and yell to the heavens... "FUCK YOU!"

Seriously, what the hell is it about these movies that spawns such vitriol and flamewars? Even I, who was ready to swear off these movies last year, after the mixed bag that was Dawn of Justice and the turd souffle that was Suicide Squad, am mystified. Wonder Woman proved me oh so wrong, and Justice League just delivered a pretty fun team-based film in this universe.

Again, that's the key word: FUN. Isn't that what so many said was lacking after Dawn of Justice? This movie really tried to deliver the goods after so many made that criticism heard loud and clear, but no it's STILL not enough!

It was enough for me. It really felt like this film, along with Wonder Woman, learned from all the missteps from past entries and tried to deliver what so many felt was important. Not too serious and dark, more or less focused, decent pacing... As for character development for characters lacking their own solo movies at this point, I felt it was there. Granted, while Aquaman could use a bit more, Cyborg getting the lion's share, and Flash somewhere in between the two. I was never bored like at some points in Dawn of Justice, nor was I feeling the whole thing got derailed in post-production like in Suicide Squad. The whole thing felt like a neat little package, fine as is, with no need to wait for a special edition on Blu-ray to provide the big picture, though I do hear some pertinent stuff was cut and will make its way into one.

I'll be first in line to buy it on home video, though. Hell, I'll probably go see it again in the theatre. If that makes you want to insist I have no taste in movies and I'm a microcosm of the reasons cinema is in decline or whatever, fuck you. And if you're insisting the film would've been better if Zack Snyder's original vision remained intact, fuck you. So many warring factions over this one, when the whole point of this film's existence was to make up for past missteps and let moviegoers HAVE FUN. So shut the fuck up, and at least TRY to have a little fun with it. I did. Sure, I had complaints. A paper-thin villain when Loki provided such an interesting foil in Avengers, for one thing, but it wasn't enough to kill the film outright. Plenty of MCU movies have had one-dimensional villains, too. I'm sure there's other things I could nitpick about, but I'd really have to sit and ponder about that, and I'll pass when the whole point was TO HAVE A LITTLE FUN.

So try to have some fun, and fuck you.

Justice League
gets an official Greyman101 rating of 8.5 out of 10, so fuck you.


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ThePrincessRobotRoom Featured By Owner Jul 1, 2018
Thanks for the+fav!
ChasGallagher Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
thanks foe the fave on Domino...:)
ChasGallagher Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Not yet but I am going to pick it up...
Greyman101 Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2018
Hey, like you said, the whole 90s vibe...

BTW, have you checked out her own series that just started?
ThePrincessRobotRoom Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2018
Thanks for the +fav
TheLordTaxus Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2018
Happy birthday!
Moonlight-prisoner Featured By Owner Apr 27, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
A picture you commissioned from ElynGontier is missing Sailor Pluto and Sailor Saturn!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Greyman101 Featured By Owner Apr 27, 2018
Nope, Setsuna and Hotaru aren't supposed to be there. The story it's from is set between the 4th and 5th seasons. Many reasons for that, but when it comes to Pluto and Saturn, I just couldn't figure out how to use them. Don't worry. If I do a second one, they'll be there to help fight Sinister and Beryl.
Moonlight-prisoner Featured By Owner Apr 27, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
oh ok
Thanks for the Added to my devWatch!
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