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"Reveal yourself, Sailor Moon!" His cape flying behind him, Nephrite leaped from the department store escalator. He thrust a finger at the young red-haired girl's forehead, trying to force her to transform into his nemesis.
Then the events he had orchestrated so carefully took a completely unexpected turn. Instead of turning into Sailor Moon, the girl said, "I love you," and a jolt of energy traveled up Nephrite's arm from his finger. It was powerful and pure, the most potent energy he had collected thus far in his mission on Earth. He held out his left hand to gather the energy into a neat ball; it would be a shame to let any of the valuable stuff go to waste.
"Sanjouin-sama," the girl whispered, then fainted.
Nephrite caught her with one hand behind her slender back as she collapsed, while still collecting her energy with his other hand. It would make a fine gift for Beryl, he thought, hoping to salvage something of the evening. Hopefully it would be fine enough to make up for the failure of this plan to work as he had promised.
A sound - no, not even a sound but a vibration in the magical barriers he had put up at the entrance of the department store - interrupted his thoughts. Hastily, he deposited the unconscious girl behind the side of the escalator and waited, his nerves stretched tight, to see who was there. No one appeared, though he thought he saw a flash of light from outside the entrance. His eyes scanned the shadows of the darkened areas of the department store floor...
"You aren't Tuxedo Kamen-sama!" the high voice of a young girl rang out from the doorway. "Who are you?"
"Sailor Moon!" Nephrite exclaimed, annoyed that she had still managed to sneak up on him, exhilarated that his plan was succeeding after all.
"Evil men like you who toy with the hearts of young girls don't deserve to wear tuxedos! In the name of the Moon, I shall punish you!"
Don't deserve to wear tuxedos?...Where does she come up with these speeches? Nephrite laughed. With a sweep of his cape (damn Tuxedo Kamen anyway, for adopting such a ridiculous costume), his outfit changed back to the familiar gray Dark Kingdom uniform.
"Sanjouin Masato?" Sailor Moon gasped.
Nephrite laughed again. "No, Sailor Moon. I am Nephrite, a Lord of the Dark Kingdom. I used the name of Tuxedo Kamen to lure you here, and now I am going to destroy you!" He gathered his power, and cast an illusion of himself multiplying across a field of stars. "Leo's star Regulus, shining in the southern sky, give me power!" The constellation Leo took shape, then the Lion leaped from the illusion-sky towards Sailor Moon. "It will tear you to pieces!" Nephrite taunted her.
Sailor Moon screamed and started running away from the Lion. She tripped over her own feet, fell to the marble floor, the Lion pounced...
And was driven back by a red rose that flew through the air. The Lion stopped short, then slunk back to stand beside Nephrite.
Nephrite cursed, and looked in the direction the rose had come from. Tuxedo Kamen stood in the open doorway of one of the elevators, one leg casually propped up against the doorframe. "Have you sent love letters in my name to lure out Sailor Moon?" the young man demanded. "I won't let you get away with this!"
Sailor Moon was staring at Tuxedo Kamen, hands clasped, eyes sparkling. "Tuxedo Kamen-sama!" she exclaimed happily. "You're the real one this time!"
Little fool, Nephrite sneered inwardly. Haven't you learned how dangerous it is to show your weakness so openly?
Tuxedo Kamen leaped over Sailor Moon's head, placing himself between her and Nephrite. "Run, Sailor Moon!" he ordered.
The girl obeyed, running towards the elevator. Nephrite laughed again. "Fool! You think there is anywhere you can run to? Attack!"
The Lion sprang forward, claws extended to rip Tuxedo Mask to shreds.
Sailor Moon yanked the tiara from her head. "Moon Tiara Action!" she shouted, and flung the spinning golden disc towards the Lion. The Tiara ricocheted off the Lion, which faltered and then regrouped. The Lion was a construct of starlight and magic, rather than an actual physical creature, and the Tiara couldn't damage it.
"Oh no! This one isn't like the others!" Sailor Moon wailed.
"Sailor Moon! Run for the elevator!" Tuxedo Kamen called to her. She obeyed, and her tuxedo-clad hero ran after her.
Nephrite allowed the Lion to pursue them until they reached the elevator, then dissolved the illusory creature as the doors closed. He laughed yet again; everything was going his way now. He'd be rid of both Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Kamen, a coup worthy of the greatest rewards Beryl had to offer. "Now I have you!" He projected his voice through the intercom inside the elevator, so his enemies could hear exactly what they were in for. A nudge of power started the machinery, and the elevator began to rise. "This elevator is going all the way to the top. Do you know what will happen then?"
"What will happen?" came Sailor Moon's trembling voice through the speaker system.
"It will fall, and when it reaches the bottom, your bodies will be crushed as flat as smashed bean-jam buns!"
"Waah!" Sailor Moon cried. "I don't wanna be a smashed bean-jam bun!"
Nephrite shut off the sound so he wouldn't have to hear any more of the annoying girl's cries. He watched the indicator light travel along the numbers, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13...
A final press of power severed the elevator cables. The light slid backwards across the numbers, culminating with a satisfying crash as the elevator landed in the basement. Nephrite allowed himself a smug "I did it!" Queen Beryl would be pleased. Between the powerful energy he had harvested from the girl, and getting rid of Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Kamen in one blow, he had more than redeemed himself for his earlier failures. Finally Queen Beryl would see that he, and not Kunzite, should be her chief Lord, the one in the highest position of power.
Speaking of the girl... Nephrite went behind the escalator and found her still lying where he had left her. Amazingly, despite the noise of his fight with Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Kamen and the elevator crash, she was still unconscious. Nephrite studied her, thinking about what he should do with her. She could be a most valuable tool. Her energy was rich and plentiful, and it appeared that her love for "Sanjouin Masato" would lead her to do anything for him. A most valuable tool, indeed. He picked her up and teleported with her to his mansion.
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return to Index / go to Chapter 2
The Nephrite and Naru Treasury