"Oh no!" cried Princess Serena, running in circles. "What do we do, what do we do, whatdowedowhatdowedowhatdowedo--"
"Snap out of it, Princess!" cried Raye-PO, of human-spirit world relations, slapping her across the face. "There's only one thing to do...give the Crystal to us! We'll deliver it safely!"
"Okay," said the Princess reluctantly. She fished the Crystal out of her pocket and gave it to Raye-PO. Raye handed it to her counterpart, Amy-D2.
Amy-D2 carefully put it in her Secret Compartment. "Perhaps I should record on my Mini-computer a memorandum from the Princess, so that they know the information we carry is genuine."
"What did she say?" asked Serena, bewildered.
"We're going to take a movie of you, saying `This is the real Crystal.'" explained Raye.
"Oh, okay." The Princess brightened. She liked being in movies.
Jedite stomped down the hallway. The bodies of the dead and/or wounded Sailors lay all over the place. Jedite laughed evilly. He liked laughing evilly.
"So where is she? Where is that namby-pamby princess? Have you found the Crystal yet?" he barked to one of his underlings.
"No, sir." the trooper stated, his face impassive. "We have found no sign of--"
"You want me, you come and get me, NegaTrash!" the Princess leapt from around the corner, firing her energy blasts. Two troopers went down under the fire from her Sceptre, but another stunned her.
"Good work." cackled Jedite. He liked cackling evilly almost as much as laughing evilly. "Now find me the Crystal!"
Another officer ran in. "Sir!" he cried. "Our sensors just registered a teleport! It must be the spies with the Crystal!"
"Then find them, you moron. Must I tell you to do everything?" snorted Jedite.
"No sir!" barked the officer. He ran off.
"So this is Earth." said Raye. "Nasty looking place, not at all like our home on the Moon. Oh well. Just shows you what working for a whiny-cry-baby will do for your career. Come on."
"My sensors indicate that the maximum location results can only be obtained by heading west." said Amy.
"West? Why would you want to go west? We can just as easily go north, or east, or even due south."
"Oh shut up. I'm going this way." Raye stalked off.
Amy, for some reason unknown to Raye, had decided to go off by herself. She was no doubt heading west. Raye, of course, felt very hurt and insulted, but decided not to show it, and walked on.
"If only I had a ride," she mumbled. "If only I wasn't working for the pig Serena in the first place!"
Suddenly, she thought she spotted something on the horizon. Could it be? It was!
"Over here! I'm over here!!" she yelled. The number nine bus slowed to a stop.
As Raye got on, she thought she recognised someone at the back. She walked down the aisle until she got a clear view.
"Amy-D2!" she cried. "It is you, it is you!" Then the bus driver put the pedal to the metal, and Raye was thrown off her feet.
"That was the rudest driver I have ever had the misfortune to meet," said Raye, rubbing her sore back. "All I asked him to do was slow down a bit. I'd swear he'd speeded up on purpose." she groaned. "Those seats were the worst I've ever sat on, and did you see his face when we asked to be let off?"
"Facial expressions are not necessary observations to make for the sake of our mission." Amy said.
"Oh, you can't complain. You got a good seat. I swear, sometimes this job is just too much--"
"Shhh," whispered Amy. "I have detected a native."
"Of course you have. This is a farm, you know. There are bound to be natives," Raye said haughtily. "Just let me handle things."
She watched as a blonde girl made her way up to the fence. She stopped when she saw the visitors.
"Hello?" she said cautiously.
"Hello there." said Raye. "Allow me to introduce oursleves. I am Raye-PO, human-spirit world relations, and this is my counterpart, Amy-D2."
"Human-spirit world relations?! That's great! Turns out we have a possessed refridgerator." The girl looked thrilled. She started to open the gate.
"Really? How interesting. I have never personally dealt with a possessed fridge, but there was that dishwasher a few years back..." remarked Raye. She was thrilled as well, because it looked like they might be able to hide here until they could deliever the Crystal.
"Oh yeah. It's terrible." the girl gestured. "For three weeks now it's been happening."
"The fridge...I can't exactly explain it, but it turns all the milk blue."
"Ah." Raye nodded knowingly. "I've heard of that happening before. Tell me, is the milk frequently served in Tupperware by someone with really bad seventies-style clothing on?"
"Why, yes, it is." the girl looked astonished. Raye draped an arm over her shoulder.
"Then we have no problem." Raye said. She and the girl headed into the house, and Raye winked at Amy. Amy for the most part, stared straight ahead. "Say," continued Raye. "You never did tell me your name."
"Oh, that." the girl shrugged. "It's Mina Skywalker."
"That's odd." said Raye.
"What is?" asked Mina.
"When I heard your name, I swear I heard something like a fanfare."
"Oh that." Mina shrugged. "I guess I've kind of gotten used to it."
"As long as it isn't anything to worry about. Come along, Amy-D2." The trio walked into the house.
"Oh, this hot bath is going to be sooooo nice..I'm so tired and dusty," said Raye, wrapped in a towel. She disappeared around the bend into the bathroom. Soon splashing sounds were heard.
"You're pretty grimy too," remarked Mina to Amy. "Are you sure you don't want a shower?"
"I deem purification by water unnecessary at this jecture." Amy replied.
"Oh. Would you like me to brush your hair while you're waiting?" asked Mina.
"That would prove to be a most relaxing exercise." Amy said. So Mina sat her down, and began to brush her hair. She thought about her new guests...Raye was very nice, Amy too, although she could only understand Amy a little. She could see people who didn't know Amy's way of speaking getting very confused. Suddenly, interrupting her thoughts, there came the sound of splashing.
"I guess Raye is done her bath," Mina said rhetorically. Raye came into the guest room dressed in a bath robe.
"That bath was magnificent. Are you sure you don't want one, Amy?"
"No, thank you." replied Amy.
"You sure? By all the wear and tear on you, I'd say you could use a little relaxation. You girls must have seen a lot of action," said Mina, still brushing.
"Quite a lot, actually, what with the Sailors and all," said Raye, blow-drying her hair.
"You know of the fighters against the Negaverse?!" cried Mina, jumping up. She dropped the hair brush, which landed with a thunk! on Amy's head.
"That's how we came to be here, if you get my meaning," said Raye. "Actually, there's not much to tell. I'm only a priestess, and not good at telling stories."
Amy, meaning while, had been rubbing the now-sore spot on her head when she by accident activated her VR Visor. It immediately began to display the movie made of the Princess.
"Hey! Who's that?" cried Mina, as the movie began to play.
"Help me, Guardian [crackle, crackle]mis of the Moon Kingdom, we need your [crackle, crackle, hiss] to defeat the N[crackle]erse!" the badly recorded image froze, and rewound.
"Help me--" it began to play over again, but Amy quickly stopped it.
"Who was that? She looked so familiar," asked Mina.
"Old data, pay it no mind," said Raye, her eyes shifting wildly.
"Can I see the whole message?"
"Ummm, well, it's, ahh," Raye stuttered.
"The quality is adversely affected by my state of being at this moment. After a refreshing break, it may improve." said Amy.
"Yeah, that," Raye agreed, nodding.
"Well, okay. Anyway, do you know who the girl is talking about?"
"Actually, no. We do know that the Guardian is somewhere around here, but we don't know exactly where, or exactly who, really." Raye said. She was kind of annoyed at Amy for nearly blowing the mission.
"Well," said Mina, thoughtfully, "I don't know any "Mis" but I do know old Art. He lives just beyond the suburbs."
"Oh," said Raye. This information was definitely useful. "That's interesting, don't you think so, Amy?" Amy nodded.
"Well, maybe we can go out looking tomorrow," said Mina.
"Maybe." agreed Raye.
"I guess I'll see you in the morning then," said Mina.
"Sleep well," said Raye, with a forced smile.
"I'll try," said Mina, backing out slowly. She obviously wanted to be invited to stay and learn about the mission, but Raye wasn't going to give her the pleasure.
She finally left. Raye sighed. "Okay," she said in a whisper, "Here's the plan."
"Thanks for showing us where this `Art' lives," said Raye, as they were walking.
"It's no problem at all. I have to deliver these this parcel for my mum anyway." Mina replied.
"It's a very nice neighbourhood," said Raye, trying to make conversation.
"It's hardly the bright spot to the city," Mina shrugged.
"I am detecting several life-forms to the east of us, and approaching rapidly." interrupted Amy.
"Really...?" Mina was intrigued. "Must be the alley cats."
"Alley cats?" inquired Raye.
"Yep. The suburbs are crawling with them. C'mon, let's go have a look."
"Can you see anything?" asked Raye, struggling to stay on the branch. Above her, Amy rearranged herself. "Ow! Amy! You're standing on my head!"
"Shhh," said Mina. "I think I can see--yep, there they are. A whole bunch of them."
"Can we go now?" asked Raye. "This branch is really--ahh! Something is on my leg!" she screamed as she fell from the tree. "They're on to us!" cried Mina, she jumped down to fight them off, but they over-powered her, and knocked her out. Amy watched from the relative safety of the tree. The alley cats didn't seem to realise she was there. Apparently, they didn't realise Raye was there either, or they didn't care, and she seemed to be unconscious, since she didn't seem to be moving. Amy watched as the cats tore open the package to get at the stuff in side. Amy made a mental note: don't send tuna in CARE packages.
Amy was just about to go down and help when there was a sudden growl and hiss. She watched as a strange, white felinoid began attacking the alley cats. Startled, they fled.
The cat--who had a striking crescent moon on his forehead--licked Mina's face to get her awake. She moaned, and the cat helped her to sit up.
"Art?" she groaned.
"That's me," the cat replied. "What are you doing here? These suburbs are not to be travelled lightly, you know."
"I know, but I was helping some new friends track down a Guardian Of The Moon. I think the name was `Mis'." Mina remarked.
"You mean `Artemis'?" said the cat.
"Maybe. Why? Do you know him?" she asked.
"Of course I know him," the cat said with a chuckle. "He's me."
"Then, it is to you that I am to give the Crystal," said Amy, jumping down from her branch.
"Crystal? As in the Moon Crystal?" said Artemis, astonished. Amy nodded. "Well, we better get in side," remarked Artemis, not taking his eyes off Amy. "Alley cats are soon frightened off, but they'll be back, and in greater numbers."
"That sounds like a good idea--oh no! Raye!" Mina and Amy ran over to help her, as she was just coming around.
"It's about time," she said irritably. "Were you just going to leave me?"
"Don't be silly. Now c'mon, the cats are probably on the move."
"This is quite a nice house you've got here, Artemis." said Mina looking around.
"It suits me," said Artemis. "Help yourself to anything." He started to bandage Raye's scraped knee. Mina opened the refrigerator, to find it stuffed--with tins of tuna and cat food.
"I think I'll pass, actually," she said closing the door.
"Guardian," interrupted Amy, "We need your confirmation for the next stage of our mission." She touched her earring. Instantly, her VR visor was activated, and the movie began to play. She had cleaned it up considerably.
"Guardian Artemis, I am really sorry I can't give you the Crystal in person, but we're being boarded, or something, and omigod, I'm not sure--"
Raye's voice could be heard shrilly shrieking in the background--"Get on with it!"
"Here is the Crystal, It is here with Amy. Help me, Guardian Artemis, we need your strength and courage to defeat the Negaverse!" The image crackled out of existence.
Artemis sat down. He licked his paws, thinking to himself. Then he turned to Mina with a glint in his eye.
"You must come to the Moon Kingdom with me if I am to teach of your true destiny." he said to Mina.
"My destiny? I know what my destiny is. To go home and explain why Auntie Patty's CARE package was eaten by alley cats!" Mina exclaimed.
"No, no. Your TRUE destiny. Mina....you are a Sailor Scout!"
"A warrior of the highest regard...they were the protectors of the great age of the Moon Kingdom. They were all but wiped out by the Negaverse, but there is now a New Hope." Artemis watched her carefully. Mina stared back, stunned.
"It is your destiny." Suddenly, he ran over to the other side of the room. He dug through a mountain of stuff to come up with a small stick. He dropped it at Mina's feet.
"What's this?" she asked, picking it up.
"A Scout's tool: the Star Wand." He licked his whiskers appreciatively. Mina waved it around, using it like a sword. Suddenly Raye barged into the room from the kitchen. She was eating tuna straight from the can. Amy looked at her as if she was insane.
"I'm hungry," she said, her mouth full. Amy just rolled her eyes.
"I guess I could go," said Mina carefully. "But just for the weekend." Artemis laughed. "I'll have to ask my parents, too," she added.
Jedite stared at Zoisite. She laughed. "Ha hahahaha! Admit it. YOU lost the Imperium Crystal. The Empress is going to have your hide!" she snickered. Jedite just glared.
"Now, both of you, be quiet." Malachite interrupted. "And you, Jedite, you should have made more of an effort to track the Crystal." Jedite bristled.
Malachite always took Zoisite's side, although Jedite had no idea why. Malachite outranked Jedite, so there was nothing he could do about it. One of Jedite's fists clenched. He hid it behind his back.
"I have people tracking it even now," he said calmly.
Nephlyte snorted. "That's helpful. Without the Crystal, we have no hope of winning."
"Ha!" laughed Zoisite. "We have this." she gestured wildly. "We have the Negaforce. This station was formed out of it, and can release it at any time. We are invincible!"
"The power of the Crystal fair outweighs--" began Nephlyte.
"No!" cried Zoisite. She leapt up, and smacked her fists against the table. "No! This station is the ultimate power in the universe!" she yelled, her nostrils flaring.
"Zoisite!" sides or no sides, Malachite couldn't let Zoisite behave like this. Jedite suppressed an evil snicker. He had to play his hand, now.
"I will have the Crystal...on this I swear." he said, with an evil grin.
Back on Earth, Jedite's troopers searched the area around the neighbourhood. They were having no luck until they searched the playground. Then, under the slide, they found a strange piece of paper, with symbols written vertically down it.
"Look, Sir!" cried one of the troopers. "Sailors!"
"First thing we'll have to do is hire a ship to take us to the Moon Kingdom." said Artemis.
"I guess so," said Mina, as she hung up the phone. "By the way, my parents don't mind me staying, as long as I'm home by Sunday."
"The closest area that would attract the desired pilots lies approx. two miles from our present designation." said Amy.
Artemis stared at her funny. "What did she day?"
"She said that we should head into downtown Tokyo," replied Raye, acting as translator.
Artemis nodded and licked his whiskers. "That's what I was thinking."
"Then let's go," said Raye impatiently. "It's not like we have time for this, anyway."
"You're right Raye. Come on, Mina, it's time to go." Artemis replied.
"I'm coming, I'm coming. Just let me finish this tuna sandwich," she said, her mouth full.
"Now, Princess," said Jedite evilly, "You will tell us of the location of the Imperium Silver Crystal."
"No," said Serena, sticking out her lower lip. Jedite scowled.
"Fine!" he snarled. "Then we will do it the hard way. Zoisite, can you come in please."
"Here I am," she giggled. "What did you want me for?" Serena looked panicked. Her eyes went wide. "No..." she whispered.
Jedite smiled, downright evilly. "Zoisite, what do you think of Nephlyte?"
Zoisite laughed. "He's such a pathetic loser. Ahaha... hahahaha!"
Serena cringed. Zoisite laughed harder. Serena clapped her hands over her ears, but the horrible sound came through.
"Make it stop!" she cried. Zoisite laughed harder. Jedite, carefully so as to be inconspicious, plugged his ears with cotton wool.
"Now, Princess, we will discuss the secret sailor base."
"Here we are," announced Mina. "The mall. Although I don't see how we can find a pilot here," she added.
"I have my ways," Artemis replied with a nod, and a wink. He disappeared into the crowds. Raye sighed.
"You know, it's been an awful long time since I had any new shoes," she said.
"No. I will not participate in any shopping excursions." Amy remarked indignatly.
"Amieeeeeee," whined Raye. "Don't be so mean! Just one pair!"
"Ammmmiiiiiieeee!" cried Raye, throwing her arms wide. One, unfortunately, hit the back of a man eating an ice cream cone. The cone went flying, hitting someone else in the back. They both turned angrily.
Raye gulped. "I think we should go wait outside," she said hurriedly. She dragged a protesting Amy with her, leaving Mina to fend off the two angry men.
"I'm really sorry, but it wasn't me, it was my friends--" One of the men grabbed her by the collar.
"This is a Gucci suit!" he snarled, "A chocolate-flavoured Gucci suit!"
Suddenly Artemis flew out of nowhere and landed, clawing and hissing on Mina's attacker.
"Run!" he yelled. "Go to the arcade..I'll meet you there!"
Mina did what she was told, and ran. Luckily, she knew where the arcade was, but she didn't understand how Artemis could have found a pilot in there....
Artemis himself showed up a moment later.
"Artemis!" Mina cried. "Are you all right?"
Artemis laughed. "Of course I am. That big lug couldn't fight his way out of a paper bag!"
They entered the arcade cautiously, and warily. "You will never find a bigger hive of scum and villainy," remarked Artemis.
Mina was puzzled. "If that's true, why are we going there?"
"Because we need some scum and villains."
Artemis went up to a snack bar in the back of the arcade, and began chatting with the patrons. Mina looked around, uncomfortably, at the myriad of people playing video games all around her.
"No! No! Don't die!!! ARGH!!"
"Ahahaha! Take that!"
"No! Port is left, dammit, left!!!"
"That was my last quarter!!!"
Artemis tugged at her pant leg. She looked down, at Artemis, and then at the pair of feet which accompanied him. She looked up again.
"Hello," the attractive young man said. "Nice to meet you."
"Uhhhhhh," Mina stuttered.
"This is Andrew, Mina. He may be able to help us find a pilot."
"Uhh," repeated Mina, holding out her hand. Andrew just laughed and shook it. He gestured. "Shall we go?" He led them to a table in the corner of the room, at which two people were sitting.
"These two are the best that there is," Andrew said. One of the two, a young brunette woman, waved vigorously.
"Andrew," she purred, "How did you like dinner last night?"
"Umm," Andrew said. "It was great, thanks. But before you suggest anything, I've got Rita coming over tonight."
The woman's face fell. "Oh. Oh well." she leaned back in her chair with her feet on the table.
Her partner, a dark man wearing a green jacket and dark sunglasses, snorted. "You could try leaving Andrew alone, you know. He does have a girlfriend."
"But he's so dreamy," sighed the woman.
"Excuse me," interrupted Artemis. "But we were told that you were willing to hire your ship and your piloting abilities."
"You heard right," replied the man. Mina couldn't see either of them very well, they were sitting in a very dark corner.
"I'd like to hire you: no cargo, just two--"
"Four." Mina reminded him.
"Yes. Of course. Four. Four passengers."
The woman laughed. "Who you running from, kitty?" Artemis bristled. He was about to say something, but the man shook his head toward the woman.
"It doesn't matter why," he said. "We'll take you. Meet us in parking space 9D4."
"9D4." repeated Artemis. "Now that we have got that settled, could we have your names?"
The man tilted his head. "Of course. This is Litabacca--" the woman gave a mock sitting down bow, "--And I'm Darien Solo."
"Are you sure about this, Darien?" Lita asked as they got out of their booth.
"Of course I'm sure! That old cat will pay big bucks--I can get my score settled!" Darien said. "Go get the ship ready, I have some business to do first." Lita nodded, and left quickly.
"Hey there, Solo," somebody said behind Darien's back. Darien whirled to face Game Machine Joe. Joe was one of the worst bounty hunters there were. When he went after something, he usually got it. He was aiming a gun straight at Darien.
"Hey, Joe," Darien said, "I was just going to see your boss. Tell Rubius I've got the money."
"It's too late for that, Solo," Joe retorted. "However, if you give me the money, I may forget that I found you."
Darien smiled falsely, and fingered under his jacket. Joe didn't notice the movement, and kept talking. "Oh course, Rubius may only take your ship."
"Over my dead body," Darien snorted. Joe fired, and Darien flung one of his roses, hitting Joe dead center. The bounty hunter collapsed on a nearby table.
"What a hunk of junk!" Mina exclaimed, looking at the ship in docking bay 9D4. "What's it called?"
"My sensors say that the ship in question is under the nomenclature Tuxedo Mask." replied Amy.
"It's still a hunk of junk. Only now, it's a hunk of junk with a stupid name." Mina scowled.
"Hey!" Darien called from under the hood, where he was doing last minute repairs. "It may be--" he stood up, whacking his head on the hood. "Ouch! It may be a hunk of junk," he said, rubbing his head, "But it can really fly."
"How? It doesn't even look air tight!" Mina exclaimed. Raye moaned. She hated flying. And having to fly in this tub of garbage was beginning to seem more and more frightening. Amy noted her counterparts distress, and patted her on the back, only to have Raye dissolve into tears and sob on her shoulder.
"Well, anyway," Darien said grumpily, "You might as well get on board. The sooner we leave, the sooner we're there, as I always say."
"Deep," said Mina rolling her eyes. She was helping Raye on board when suddenly bolts of energy began flashing past her.
"They've found us!" Artemis cried. "Get on the ship, fast!"
Titus was one of the most promising of Jedite's hand selected warriors. She yelled at her troops to keep firing on the ship, to make sure it stayed on the ground. More troops were in the process of preparing to board the vessel. Things were looking up.
The Captain, Darien Solo, threw what seemed to be roses at the troops. One, two, no--five of her troops fell under the deadly flowers. Titus scowled. She ordered the remaining troops to fire harder, but it was too late. The Tuxedo Mask lifted up, Solo having scurried on board, and soon disappeared out of Titus's range of vision.
"Damn," she said softly. "Jedite's going to have my butt for this."
"Yay!" Mina cried. "We've escaped!"
"It's not over yet," Darien retorted. "There's a Nega-cruiser tracking us."
"Oh no!" Raye cried. "I hate flying! I hate it! This is all Serena's fault! She put me here!"
Amy, in response, pushed Raye into on of the chairs, buckled her in, and told her to shut up.
"I think the cruiser's gaining on us!" Mina cried.
"I know, I know--Lita, I'm going to try and go into lightspeed, get those guns working!"
Lita nodded, and set to work blowing up the Nega-Cruiser. Of course, the Mask couldn't even begin to blow it up through sheer force, being so small, but Lita did take out some of the gun turrets, making the cross-fire ease up somewhat.
"Okay, I'm almost ready!" Darien said, making the calculations.
"What's taking so long?" Mina cried.
"Flying through lightspeed, kid--you have to make the right calculations, or you might end up flying through a nova or a meteor storm. Okay, I think I've got it--go!"
Lita pressed the large red button marked "Lightspeed" and the ship shot forward, making everyone leave large dents in their seats.
"I told you she wouldn't betray the Sailors," Jedite said. Malachite looked at him oddly.
"You said you could make her tell," he said with a scowl. "No matter. I know what will change her mind. Bring her to the observation room."
"What are you going to do?" Jedite said, suppressing a chuckle. "Make her throw a discus around?"
Malachite shot a venomous glance. "Just bring her," he said, growling. Jedite nodded and walked out, still chuckling. He was back in a few moments with two guards and the Princess.
"Ah, Malachite," she said. "I like, smelled your foul, like, smell when I got on board."
"Charming," Malachite said. "Well, it won't matter. Jedite has discovered that you won't submit to mere torture--"
"There was nothing mere about it," Jedite mumbled, rubbing his ears. Malachite glared but continued his spiel.
"--So I've decided to use a nastier method of persuasion." He gestured to the guard, who opened the curtains, revealing the sparkling circle that was the Moon Kingdom. Serena's eyes widened in horror. She felt a growing fear as she began to realise Malachite's demonic plan. Malachite took out of his pocket one of those little laser pointers, and used it to point to the Moon, even though it took up half the window and was impossible to miss.
"We've--that is I-- have realised that a demonstration of this battle station is in order."
"NO!" Serena screamed. "Not the moon kingdom! It's peaceful, it has no weapons--"
"You will name another target, a military target?" Serena clammed up. Malachite sighed. "I grow weary of repeating myself. Tell me where the base is, or I will destroy the Moon Kingdom."
Serena stared out past him to the planet of her birth. It looked beautiful in the reflected light of the sun, although the dot from the laser pointer was a bit bothersome, in that it kept jumping around. But it was still her home. Her family was there, what other choice did she have? None, as far as she could see. She stifled back tears, and then said softly: "Saturn. They're on Saturn."
"There, you see? She can be persuaded, as long as you're not inept," Malachite said to Jedite. He smiled for a moment, and then raised his arms. Serena saw what was coming, and screamed.
"You can't! You can't! You said you wouldn't!" she yelled. She struggled against the guards, but they were too strong for her.
"I lied." Malachite replied smoothly. "Negaverse Station Annihilation!"
Serena screamed. "Noo!" she fought against the guards. But it was too late.
The station was the same size as a small moon, but the Moon Kingdom was the size of a large moon, so the station looked small in comparison. Suddenly, the station glowed with a steady black light, which increased steadily. It shot out towards the Moon Kingdom.
The Moon had no defense. The beam of Nega-energy washed over it, decimating everything in sight, destroying the surface completely. Then the beam lashed out again, this time blowing the Moon Kingdom into micro-meteors.
"Noo!" Serena yelled again, as her home was destroyed. She began to cry in earnest.
"Ack!" yelled Malachite with his hands over his ears. "That noise is terrible! Make it stop!"
"What?" yelled back Jedite, who also had his hands over his ears.
"Make it stop!"
"You want some pop?!"
"MAKE IT STOP!"
At Malachite's command, on of the guards clocked Serena on the head. She dropped like a sack of potatoes. The guard picked her up, and slung her over his shoulder. He and his teammate left, Jedite following after. Malachite waved over an aide.
"Get Navigation to set course for Saturn," he said. Now it was time to get the blasted Sailors.
"There, I told you we'd get to hyperspace, no prob." Darien said. "Hey, don't everyone thank me at once."
Raye was asleep at the table, Lita was showing Amy how to make cookies, and Mina was being lectured by Artemis.
"A scout is someone who puts other people first. No matter who's in trouble, that person is someone to be saved, with no hesitation what-so-ever. That's a scout's job."
"Scout?" said Darien sarcastically. "Give me a break."
"You don't believe in them?" asked Mina.
"Kid, I've been from one end of the solar system to the other. I've seen a lot of strange stuff. Lita has seen even stranger stuff."
"Gas station rest-rooms," Lita piped up. The entire group shuddered, except for Raye, who snored.
"Yeah, and even that doesn't help me believe in a bunch of people who just going around saving people." Darien continued.
Mina fingered the Star Wand that Artemis had given her. She knew that what the cat was telling her was true. She could feel it.
Suddenly Artemis howled in pain, and put his paws over his ears.
"Stop screaming!" he said. "Stop it!"
"Stop what?" Mina asked, confused.
"The princess--she's in danger--I can hear her--" he shook his head. "It's gone. The sound's gone. I have a very bad feeling about this."
"Yeah, well, keep your strange feelings to your--" suddenly an alarm rang through the ship. "We're coming up to the Moon Kingdom!" Darien said, as he ran to the cockpit. Lita got up and sprinted with him.
"That's weird--with a capital we!" Lita exclaimed. "There's no moon here, only asteroids."
"You can't just lose an entire moon!" Mina exclaimed. "Could the maps be wrong? Could we not be near the moon?"
"Nope, the maps are right," Darien said, checking his instruments. He doubled checked them, then did a double take. "What the--? Lita, I need reverse thrusters, now! We're in a tractor beam!"
"How, could we be--there's nothing--Omigod! Darien, there's a large mass straight ahead, the size of a small moon, but it ain't the Moon Kingdom--" Lita said, astonished.
"It must be a large asteroid." Darien replied, trying frantically to get loose from the phantom tractor beam.
"That's no asteroid," Artemis said suddenly. "That's the source of the tractor beam--it's the Negaverse!"
"What can we do? If we can't break free?" Mina exclaimed.
"I have a plan," the cat said slyly. He filled them in.
"Sir, there is only the remains of a Sailor base on Saturn. The debris dates from several months ago," the officer said. Malachite slammed the table with rage. "She lied! She lied to me!" He turned to another officer. "Terminate her!"
"What?" the officer said, a bit confused. "Terminate what?"
"Her! The Princess! KILL HER, YOU IDIOT!" Malachite screamed. The officer left in a hurry. Malachite sighed and sat down. Zoisite rubbed his shoulders. "Do you ever have one of those days?" Malachite asked.
Titus smiled proudly as the renegade ship Tuxedo Mask was dragged into the shuttle bay. Jedite smiled as well, pleased with her prize. He smiled evilly, and looked out toward the ship.
Suddenly, one of the station's flunkies came running up.
"There's no one on board," he said breathlessly. "The ship is empty. The log says they all jumped ship after leaving Earth."
"Uh oh," thought Titus, but Jedite merely scowled, and walked off. Phew. She thought. This is getting to be too much for me. I should have been a doctor, like Mom wanted. She stomped off.
Mina peeped around the corner carefully. There were two Nega-guards in the main area of the ship. She and Darien decided to take them out and use their armour as a disguise.
"Ready?" he whispered, fingering a rose.
"Ready," she replied. They both attacked at once, Darien with his rose and Mina with her kicks. She was glad her parents had enroled her in karate as a spare time hobby. They dragged the two guards into the closet where they had all been hiding, and put on the armour.
"Now I will go turn off the tractor beams," Artemis said. "The rest of you stay here to guard the ship." He bounded out without another word.
"I believe that I have located something of interest." Amy said suddenly. Her VR visor was on, and shielding them from the scanners. But it also meant that she could tap into the stations computers.
"What is it, Ams?" Raye asked.
"I believe that it is Princess Serena." Amy replied. She looked carefully at the visor, then looked up in shock. "She is scheduled to be executed!"
"What?!" Mina cried. "The princess? Executed?! We've got to rescue her!"
"Whoa, hold on there," Darien said. "Nothing was said to me about rescuing any princess."
"But they're going to kill her!" Mina shrieked.
"Keep your voice down! You don't want to attack any guards!" Lita said harshly. She was holding her own special weapon, something that Amy recognised as a crossbow. But Amy could not detect any arrows or any other type of ammunition.
"Fine!" Mina yelled. "If that's the way you're going to be--you can stay here on the ship--I'm going to rescue her!" She bounded out in her armour.
Darien cursed under her breath. "I see she doesn't do subdued very well," he said.
"We've come to notice that," Raye said sarcastically. Darien sighed.
"Litabacca," he said, "We'll go after her. You two stay here. Pretend you're doing maintenance or something."
Raye smartly saluted, and Amy nodded, pressing the button on her ear to deactivate her VR visor. Darien and Lita walked out of the ship.
Mina was walking briskly down the hall when someone grabbed her arm. She gasped and whirled to face a nega-trooper. She was ready to kick him, but then she saw Lita, and realised that Darien was holding on to her.
"Don't do that," she hissed.
"Don't run off half-cocked like that," Darien replied. "You don't even know where you're going. Now come here, we'll plan in this room here." He pulled her over to a small room. Lita picked the lock, and they all piled through the door to make sure no one saw them.
Into the closet.
"Ow! There's a broom poking into my back!" Mina said, squirming.
"At least you're not standing in a bucket," Darien replied. "Now, first things first, we have to find a map."
Lita started rustling and presented Darien with a brochure. He opened it.
"`Welcome New Traveller To The First Ever Nega-Verse Station!'" he read. "`Join us now for a complete guide to the Negaverse station--with color pictures!'"
"Ooo," said Lita appreciatively.
"I don't suppose that they would have the dungeon section," Mina said, her arms crossed. Darien flipped through.
"`Our new cells are crafted from highly durable polymers, resistant to fire and nail files. Tours are at 2 and 4 in the afternoon.' But they called them the `detention' cells, not dungeons."
"They would," Mina said with a huff.
"Anyway, the cells are about three floors down--although it's hard to tell, since this map's been oriented towards the Information Booth."
"Now we need a plan to actually get into the detention cells," Lita said. "Unless you want to go in on a tour."
They all shuddered. Tourists.
"Well, we do have our uniforms," Mina said thoughtfully. "Wait! I know!" she dug out of her uniform pocket a pair of handcuffs. " Here, Lita, you can put these on..." She stopped when she saw the look on Lita's face, and she hurried behind Darien. "Here," she said holding them out to Darien, her voice muffled by the mop, "You put these on Lita."
Darien laughed. "Don't worry, Lita. I think I know what she's planning."
They came out of the elevator a few minutes later, looking around the office of the detention level. The officer on duty stood and glared at them.
"What do we have here?" he sneered.
"A prisoner transfer from cell block 139," Darien improvised.
"I wasn't told about any transfer," the guard said suspiciously. "I'll have to clear it."
"Clear this," Darien said, as he started throwing roses at the guards.
Mina rushed to the computer. "She's in cell block RCW!" she yelled.
"Good, you go get her, kid. We'll keep your back covered. Go!" Darien yelled, seeing Mina's moment of hesitation. She bolted down the corridor.
More guards came from their posts. Lita undid her cuffs, then got her crossbow. She aimed, and a burst of lightning shot out and took down three guards at a time. Darien dispatched the remaining one, then noticed that the console was beeping.
"What's going on down there?" someone's irate voice demanded.
"Ah, nothing, nothing, situation normal," Darien said quickly.
"What the hell happened?!"
"Uh, weapons malfunction, but we're alright now, everything's alright...how are you?" Darien winced at his poor performance.
"I'm going to send some guards down--"
"Uh," Darien panicked. " Negative, negative! We'll need some time to lock down a radiation leak--very big, very dangerous..."
"What the...? Who is this? What's your code?" the voice demanded. Lita came up behind him and blasted the console. "I was getting bored of that conversation anyway," he said. "Mina! Hurry up! We're going to get company!"
Mina hurried down the corridor, checking the letters beside each door, then finally she found RCW. She unlocked the door and rushed in.
Princess Serena looked at the nega-trooper with faint interest. "Aren't you, like, a little short to be in the negaverse?" she asked.
"What?" asked Mina. "Oh, the helmet." she took it off, and shook out her hair. "I'm Mina Skywalker--I'm here to rescue you!"
"Mina--never mind, we've got to go. I'm here with Artemis!"
"Artemis?" Serena exclaimed, jumping up. "Omigod!" Mina pulled on her arm, and lead her down the hall. Sounds of shouting and blaster fire could be heard, and suddenly Darien ran up to meet them.
"We've got trouble," Lita said. She fired her crossbow, sending the lightning ricocheting down the hall.
"I've got an idea," Serena said suddenly, looking at a vent. She kicked the cover off, and they all stared at the tunnel.
"Here, I'll go," Mina said. She crawled in the hole, and they all heard her shriek as she slid down. Lita hesitated, but then fired one last bolt, and went in. The Princess was next, and Darien crawled in backwards, so that he managed to secure the cover back on before he let go and slid down.
Mina screamed as she fell headfirst down the shaft, and landed in a garbage heap. She barely managed to scramble out of the way before Serena and Lita came down. Finally, Darien came sailing out the shaft, landing right on top of Serena, who shrieked.
"Wow," he said. "A garbage dump. This is fabulous." He sniffed a bit, while Serena managed to get out and up, brushing off the garbage from her formerly snow-white gown.
"What a wonderful new smell you've discovered," he said sarcastically. Then he actually got a look at her--it had been too fast in the hallway--and started laughing hysterically.
"What's so funny?" she demanded furious that her gown was dirty. (It was dry-clean only.)
Darien stopped laughing only so long as to say "Did you ever realise your hair looks like meatballs?!"
Lita started laughing as well, while Mina looked on in sympathy. Suddenly, she heard a grumbling noise under the water.
"Hey," she said. "Did any of you hear that?"
Darien stopped laughing. "What did you hear?"
"I heard---ahhhhh!!!" Mina screamed as she was suddenly pulled under the heap. She struggled, and her arm waved frantically, but then it too disappeared. Darien and Serena began looking through the heap, but they couldn't see any trace of Mina.
Suddenly, on the other side of the room, Mina leaped out of the trash heap. Serena ran to get her, and pull her out completely. Meanwhile, there was a terrible sound, like gigantic toilets being flushed.
"What happened?" cried Serena.
"I don't know--something grabbed me, and pulled me under, but then let me go!" Mina replied, spitting a banana peel out of her mouth.
"I have a very bad feeling about this," Darien said. Lita just started trying to get the door. When it didn't open, she grabbed her crossbow and fired. The protected door reflected the bolt of energy, sending it careening around the room. Just then, the ominous sound stopped.
"Hey!" Lita exclaimed. "I did it!"
As she said that, the walls began to move in.
"Quick, brace it with something!" Darien yelled.
"Like what? Coffee grounds?" retorted Mina, at a high rate of decibels.
"Well whatever! Don't just stand there!" Darien yelled back.
Meanwhile, the walls moved in ever closer. Serena shrieked, and covered her head. She burst into tears.
"I hate this! I hate it! I want to go home! Except there isn't a home! WAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH......."
Lita, Mina and Darien all put their hands over their ears. "STOP THAT!" they all yelled in unison. Serena merely cried louder.
Suddenly, the walls stopped moving. They retreated, and the one door opened up. The head of a Nega-trooper popped in, and demanded, "What's going on? What's the racket?"
"We were, ah, we were looking for, uh.." Darien started.
"My contact lens! My contact lens!" Mina suddenly cried out. She held a hand over her eye. Serena got in the act, and began rummaging around, shutting up in the process.
The nega-trooper sighed. "Look," he said. "Just go to Stores and get another one, alright?" He shook his head, and walked out. Darien, Lita, Serena and Mina all looked at each other, and then bolted.
As they left, the Nega-trooper locked the door behind them, then stopped, and considered something for a moment. Then he seemed to realise something about his fleeting guests, and picked up the phone to his superiors.
Jedite stomped down the hall. Malachite was furious that the Princess had escaped, and he acted as if it was all Jedite's fault.
Abruptly he stopped. He felt a familiar presence, but more importantly, he saw the muddy footprints as well. There was no mistaking the marks of the cat pervading the halls. He smiled evilly. He knew where the cat was headed: the footprints lead to the tractor beam control room.
Artemis walked stealthily down the halls, making sure that no one noticed him as he crept around. After orienting himself, he managed to reach the control room, although he couldn't have found it without the help of the tour guide.
He sneaked through the door into the room, and meowed in despair. So many buttons! The walls were covered in them. He would knew know which...something caught his eye. He crept over to the wall on the left, and inspected the buttons.
"God bless the idiot-proof Nega-verse," he said. He flipped the switch marked "tractor beam off".
With that task down, he turned around, and ran off back to the ship. While he was running, though, he stopped, and thought he could feel a familiar presence..but realised it was just indigestion from the tuna sandwich. He ran on.
"That's the last time we listen to you," Darien said, taking off the soaking wet armour. It was beginning to smell like a wet dog, and for metal, that was a bad sign.
"Yeah, well, bthtbpttbhtpt," said Serena, blowing a raspberry at him.
"Come on meatball head," Darien said with a smirk. Serena just glowered, and started out from the locker room. Luckily, she thought, that the nega-trooper who had taken her Sceptre not only put it in his locker, but was stupid enough to leave the locker open. She tightened her grip on the sceptre, then smiled. It was time to kick some Nega-Butt.
As they were walking, Lita noticed some activity off down the corridor. "Nega-troopers!" she exclaimed.
"Quick! You and Princess Meat-ball Head make your way to the ship, and we'll take care of it here." Darien said. Litabacca looked at him as if he was insane, but made no move to leave with Mina and Serena.
"What a dork," Serena said as they left. "He'll be lucky if he's not, like, killed."
"Darien can take care of himself," Mina said.
"Is that his name? We were never introduced," remarked Serena.
"What? Oh, yeah. It's Darien Solo. The other one is his co-pilot, Litabacca."
Darien nodded to Lita, and charged down the corridor. A whole room filled of nega-troopers was waiting for them, and Lita began firing lightning at them, and Darien fired roses.
The nega-troopers were too numerous for them to keep this up for long.
"Drastic times call for drastic measures and it's time for Plan B," Darien muttered. Lita winked at him, and crouched ready. He stood up from behind the knocked over vending-machine, jumped up on top of it and began to talk amidst the shots fired, which, strangely, all missed him, even from a distance of five feet.
"Do not follow this current path of destruction!" he called out. "There is a planet out there which plays beautiful music, music which should be shared. For we should all take care of each other, and we should wake up the warrior in our hearts. For a friend is the greatest gift of all, and we should not believe that the impostor is really me. Let us play our eternal song forever."
The nega-troopers, gradually, all stopped firing, and stopped to listen to Darien's eloquent words, all thinking the exact same thing: Huh?
While they stood there confused, Darien leaped from the vending machine, and he and Lita ran out of the room, locking ht door behind them. They laughed as they ran down the corridor.
Plan B got them every time.
Mina and Princess Serena ran up the corridor to the cargo bay. Just as they reached the door, they met up with Darien Solo and Litabacca.
"What took you so long?" Darien asked. "We've been here for ages."
"We ran into some old friends," Serena answered.
"Well, enough socialising, let's blow this popsicle stand." Lita growled. They decided to charge the ship, instead of sneaking aboard, and when they ran out, Darien mumbled under his breath: "I hope that cat took care of those tractor beams."
Artemis made his way back to the ship quickly, unaware that his footprints were clearly visible behind him. Finally he came to one of the doors leading to the cargo bay. He could see the ship through the windows. And at the other end of the ship, he thought he could make out Mina and the rest. He purred contentedly to himself, and opened the door.
Suddenly a deep voice behind him said: "Not so fast."
Artemis whirled. It was Jedite. "It's been a while," Jedite said, smirking evilly.
"Not long enough," Artemis replied, his fur bristling. "I beat you once, I can do it again."
"Ha! Not any longer. The circle is complete. Only, now I am the master." Jedite cackled.
"Wha....?" said Artemis, unable to make sense of the comment.
"Doesn't matter. Prepare to die." Jedite fired one of his energy bolts.
"Okay! Run!" Serena gave the order, and they all charged. The one or two Nega-troopers still guarding the ship were disposed of immediately by a couple of Darien's roses.
Suddenly, Mina stopped running as she saw Artemis, through the doorway, fighting with Jedite. "Artemis?" she said softly, not expecting him to hear her. But the cat stopped and looked up.
He was covered in blood, but then, Jedite seemed to be bleeding heavily as well from scratches. Artemis gave Mina one of his little cat smiles, and didn't even duck as Jedite fired another energy bolt. It hit the cat straight on, and Artemis collapsed, and disappeared.
"NOOOOO!!!!" Mina screamed. "NOOOOOOO!!!!"
Nega-troopers began piling in through the door, beckoned by Jedite who wore an evil smile. Mina screamed again, and then grabbed Serena's sceptre and began using it to dust the nega-troopers.
"Hey!" The princess yelled. "That's MINE!"
One of the troopers, when hit, fell against the door, jamming it, trapping Jedite inside. He pushed and shoved, but the trooper was a big guy, and Jedite couldn't move him.
Suddenly, Mina heard Artemis say "Run, Mina, run!" She did as she was told, and bolted for the ship, Serena and Darien following. They charged up the ramp, and then Darien rushed to join Lita in the cock-pit. They began to lift off.
They made it away from the station with no problems. The tractor beams were off line. Artemis had done his job.
Mina sat in the chair, crying. Serena came and put a blanket around Mina's shoulders, but Mina just shrugged it off. It was hot enough in there already.
"We've got fighters coming in!" Darien yelled. "Hey kid--you up to some trick shootin'?"
"Okay," Mina said half-heartedly.
"Good. It was a rhetorical question." Darien answered. He left Lita in control of the ship, and took his place at one of the guns.
The nega-fighters were small, but fast. It took all of Mina's concentration to maintain a lock, never mind shoot at them. She managed somehow to do it, when suddenly Darien had a brainstorm.
"Hey Lita!" he said. "Just go to lightspeed!"
Lita marvelled at the brains behind this fantastic idea, and pressed the "hyperspace" button. The ship streaked away.
"I hope you know what you are doing, Jedite," Malachite sneered, looking out the window at the last spot the Mask had occupied.
"The homing device will work," Jedite said. He was feeling particularly good. After all--the rest of his day had been fantastic.
The Tuxedo Mask landed at The Secret Sailor Base on Neptune to a cheering crowd. When the Princess got off the ramp, the crowd went insane, throwing hats into the air and cheering.
"Oh yeah, they're really secretive." Darien mumbled.
"Look, Amy has the Crystal," Serena said. Amy-D2 stepped forward and presented the large gem to Commander Haruna, the leader of the rebellion.
"Fantastic..." Haruna said, turning the gem around in her hand.
Suddenly, one of the junior officer ran forward.
"Commander! Commander!" he yelled. "On the sensors--the Negaverse station is approaching!"
In the crowd was utter silence. Haruna stood taller, looking at the crystal. "Alright, let's get going people!" she yelled suddenly. "Let's get everybody evacuated!"
She handed the crystal back to Serena. "Here, Princess," she said. "You're going to need this."
Darien was busy piling up supplies when Mina ran up to meet him. "Hey, Darien!" she called. "Aren't you helping to fight?"
"Nah," Darien replied. "It's your fight. Plus, there's some one I gotta give this money too. I mean, what good is a reward when you're not around to spend it?"
"So you're leaving then?" Mina said angrily. "Just going to up and leave? They need you, Darien. They need all the help they can get. You can't just turn your back on them."
"Look," Darien said, his voice rising, "This is not my fight. This is not my war. Going after that station--it's suicide."
Mina bowed her head ashamedly. Darien thought he'd gotten through to her. "Hey kid, how's about you come with me? I could use a good fighter like you."
That's when Mina looked up, and the expression in her eyes said it all: she wasn't ashamed for herself, but for Darien.
"Take care of yourself, Solo," she said as she turned and left. "I guess that's what you're best at."
Then the warning alarms began going off, signalling big trouble: the Negaverse station had cleared the planet, and was preparing to fire.
Malachite stared out the window at the planet Neptune spread out below him. Finally he would be free of those accursed sailors, once and for all.
Zoisite stood next to him, giggling slightly. "I'm so glad you sent Jedite back to the Empress. I would rather savour this moment alone, without his annoying presence."
"Too true, my love," Malachite said. "So what are we waiting for? Nothing!" He took a deep breath.
"NEGAVERSE STATION ANNIHILATION!" he screamed.
Down on the surface of Neptune, Serena stood, watching the skies. She held in her hand the Moon Wand, a special holder for the Imperial Silver Crystal. Suddenly, a bright flash of light was seen, and Serena knew that it was the Negaforce. She had to stop it. She raised her wand.
"Moon..Cosmic..Power!" she yelled, holding the wand up. The beam of light shot out, colliding with the negaforce beam. The crowd of dedicated people who had refused to leave watched in horror as the beam of nega-energy began to overwhelm the Moon Power, and continue in its path toward the planet.
Mina Skywalker stood, gulping, fingering the Star Wand nervously and sadly. It looked like Artemis had died for nothing.
Suddenly, she thought she heard a voice, a familiar voice, whisper: "Use the star wand...."
She gulped again, and pushed down her fears. She had to help the Princess. She had to become a Scout. It was her destiny. She raised the small wand.
"Venus...Star..POWER!" she cried.
The surrounding crowd looked at her as if she was insane, but then they were astounded as, right before their eyes, she turned into one of the long-lost Scouts. Mina gasped at the transformation herself. But she soon got over her amazement, and went to help the Princess.
Serena gasped as Mina--dressed like a Scout--walked up to her, and put her hand on the Moon Wand. Mina added her energy to the Princess', and slowly, but surely, the energy level increased.
The Moon Power now held the Nega-force at a standstill.
Mina's energy was not enough.
"Here, I'll lend a hand, too." said Raye-PO, stepping forward. Amy-D2 did as well. The energy levels slowly began to push the nega-force back ever so slightly.
Then another, and another hand joined the crowd, adding their energy to the pool. Mina looked up at Darien Solo.
"Hey," he said, looking sheepish, "I couldn't let you have all the fun."
With this amount of energy, the Moon Power completely overwhelmed the Negaforce, sending it back on itself, destroying the station completely. The reign of terror had ended.
The ceremony began at eleven, sharp. Darien Solo, Litabacca, and Mina Skywalker walked up the hall's aisle triumphantly. When they reached the podium, Commander Haruna presented Princess Serena with three medals, which Serena distributed among the trio.
Raye and Amy clapped just as hard when the medals went around their new owners' necks, and Serena, Darien, Mina, and Lita all found Amy clapping really funny. They all had a hearty laugh and grinned at each other.
"Hey, you guys," Serena said, smiling, "What do you say we go for burgers?"
The End...Bum bum, ba da da DA dum ba da da DA dum da da da da.