Enemy's Choice
by Moon Momma

Chapter 11

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To Nephrite's frustration, it took him three days to make the changes he needed to make to the kurozuishou. He tried not to think about how many more of the Rainbow Crystals Zoisite might be winning, or the possibility that Zoisite could send a few minions around to his mansion to try to finish him off for good. He needed every ounce of concentration he could summon up to re-work the kurozuishou's structure to be attuned to the Rainbow Crystals. He knew nothing about them except that they had split off from the ginzuishou, and that, presumably, they were the colors of the rainbow red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. This gave him only a slight clue about their chemical composition and crystalline structures, and it took hours of experimenting, followed by hours of intense magical concentration as he made new adjustments, before he finally started getting the results he wanted. But when, at last, the kurozuishou showed him, on his instructions, the red crystal which Zoisite had captured from the young man, nested in a velvet-lined box, Nephrite knew he had finally gotten it right.

"Show me who bears the next Rainbow Crystal," he whispered to the kurozuishou, while making a mental reminder to himself that the crystal would have to be re-tuned to obey another voice.

Silvery light flowed in waves from the kurozuishou, and coalesced to show a man in a long black coat with a high collar, wearing a chain around his neck with a cross hanging from it. A priest of one of the Western religions, Nephrite realized. No matter how much spiritual power this priest might possess, he was going to need some help against Zoisite and the dark mirror.

Knowing that Sailor Moon was actually Naru's friend Usagi made it a lot easier to find her and the other Senshi. Nephrite waited, invisible, outside the girls' school until the dismissal bell rang, then followed the blonde ponytailed girl to a Shinto shrine at the top of Cherry Hill street. Usagi was accompanied by a girl with short, blue-black hair, whom Nephrite guessed must be Sailor Mercury (why had the similar hairstyles shared by the Senshi and these girls never registered with him before? he wondered), and a tall girl with a brown ponytail, the same girl who had been revealed as Sailor Jupiter in his vision the other day. At the entrance to the shrine, the three girls were met by a fourth, a young priestess with long black hair Sailor Mars, obviously.

Although he was fairly certain that at this point they wouldn't try to attack him on sight, Nephrite still felt some trepidation as he walked to the door through which the girls had disappeared, which must be the entrance to the residence that was attached to the shrine. His failure in the assignments Beryl had given him, to find the ginzuishou and Sailor Moon, had severely undercut his confidence. Chiding himself for being afraid of four teenage girls didn't help; those girls, or at least three of them, had made a fairly complete fool of him, and one of them had nearly killed him.

Still, though, for Naru's sake they hadn't attacked him the last time he talked to them, and he hoped their feelings towards him would be even less hostile now. He took a deep breath and knocked on the frame of the sliding door.

There were voices, footsteps, and then the young miko Sailor Mars slid the door open. She stared at him for a few seconds, then demanded, "What do you want?"

"Who is it, Rei-chan?" said Sailor Moon's voice.

"It's him," the girl named Rei said. "Nephrite."

This brought the other three girls hurrying to the door. They stared at him warily but, Nephrite was glad to see, without any sign of open hostility or threat. "I'm sorry to disturb you," he said, trying to sound as non-threatening as possible. "I have something for you, that may be of help to you in finding the Rainbow Crystals."

"The Rainbow Crystals?" Sailor Moon Usagi echoed. She and the other three girls glanced at each other. "Luna was just telling us " Usagi started to say, but the girl with short, dark hair, Sailor Mercury, interrupted her. "How do you know about the Rainbow Crystals?"

"I haven't been back to the Dark Kingdom, if that's what you're wondering," he said. "I have another Crystal, of my own making, a kurozuishou, that's useful for finding things out... May I come in?"

The other girls glanced at Usagi. "What do you think?" Sailor Jupiter asked her. "Is he okay, do you think?"

"I'm not sure about " Rei started to say, but Usagi interrupted her. "I think he's okay. He didn't try to hurt us last time, plus he really does seem to care about Naru. Besides, there's four of us and only one of him."

"All right, then." Rei and the other girls stood aside to let Nephrite come in. He slipped off his shoes, then went and knelt at the low table where, judging by the comic books and cans of soda that littered it, the girls had been sitting. They joined him, along with a little black cat that sat alertly on the table. "Luna was just telling us about the Rainbow Crystals," Sailor Moon said. "But we already have something that shows us when there's a Rainbow Crystal nearby."

"If Usagi-chan doesn't lose it," Sailor Mars added, which earned her a raspberry from Usagi.

"Can it show you who has the Crystal?" Nephrite asked, ignoring the hostilities.

The girls looked at the cat, who spoke in a tiny feminine voice. "Well, no..."

Nephrite was surprised at his lack of surprise at the talking cat. Those girls had to have been getting their guidance from somewhere, and a being from the Moon Kingdom who had taken the form of a cat seemed as likely as anything else. "Here." He took his modified kurozuishou out of the invisible pocket he'd hidden it in, in case of an ambush from the Dark Kingdom. "Zoisite, the general who apparently is in charge now, has a mirror that can show him the identity of the bearer of the next Crystal. So I took my kurozuishou and modified it to detect Rainbow Crystal-bearers."

"That was Zoisite, who attacked that boy?" Sailor Jupiter asked. "And he knew that boy had a crystal inside him because of his mirror?"

Nephrite nodded yes to both questions. "Zoisite is already at least one step ahead of you. I don't know if he's had time to get the next crystal yet, but he probably knows who has it. Sailor Moon, I'll need to tune this to your voice."

"Why her?" Sailor Mars asked. "Why not me, or... or Mercury, or Jupiter?"

"If you can't figure that out for yourself," Nephrite said, "then there's no point in me trying to explain it." The other girls, or at least this one, couldn't see that Usagi was first among them and had powers none of them dreamed of. He had had only hints of this power, but enough to make him trust the cat's wisdom in giving the wand to Usagi, clumsy and whiny and not-so-bright though she seemed sometimes. But they were going to have to learn this for themselves. "Let's not waste any more time. Sailor Moon, command the crystal to show you who has the next Rainbow Crystal. Speak clearly."

"Um, okay," Usagi said hesitantly. "Kurozuishou, I command you to show us who has the next Rainbow Crystal. Please."

As she spoke, Nephrite concentrated on tuning the crystal's structure to the vibrations of Sailor Moon's voice. He hoped that this wouldn't undo his hard work with the crystal, but his worries were quickly put to rest as the cone of black light shot out from the crystal and cleared to reveal a scene in a cemetery. The priest he had seen before stood next to a dug-out grave, speaking to a small group of people dressed in black, offering comfort in the form of a few words or an arm around the shoulders. Suddenly he looked up and behind him, as though startled

"That's near the Yokohama Chinatown!" Usagi gasped. "My family went there for dinner two weeks ago we had Peking duck, it was deli "

"No time to waste, Sailor Moon!" Sailor Jupiter said. With a jumble of shouted words and several flashes of light, the girls had transformed and were out the door.

Nephrite followed them out; they were already gone from the grounds of the shrine. The black cat Luna walked over and sat at his feet. "Thank you, Nephrite," she said. "The Moon Stick is limited in that it can only show when a Rainbow Crystal is near. It cannot identify the carrier, or detect it from a great distance." She paused for a moment. "You really have changed, haven't you?"

Nephrite thought about it. "I no longer want what I used to want. Or used to think I wanted. I'm not even sure what that was, any more. But now..."

The wise little cat seemed to know what he was thinking. "If we can find a way, while we're fighting the Dark Kingdom, or when it's over, we'll do our best to bring Naru-chan back. Somehow there has to be a way."

"Thank you," Nephrite said simply.

"It's the least we can do," Luna said.

Nephrite smiled, then teleported back to the place where Naru waited.

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return to Index / go to Chapter 12

The Nephrite and Naru Treasury