The Shi-Tennou Return
* * * * * * * *
"Chibiusa?" Usagi gasped, "What are you doing here?"
"Mama, it's important!" the young girl with pink odango pigtails begged, "You need to transform!"
"Chibi, what are you talking about?"
Chibiusa shook her head.
"He's one of Papa's guardians! You told me about him when I was little, how he was a bad guy who turned good and helped save Naru's life! You gotta help him!"
"Nephrite? But he's... he's dead. I saw him dying in Naru's arms."
"But he needs you, Mama! " Chibiusa insisted, "Please help him!"
Usagi began to have a very bad feeling that this peace would not last. She reached into her backpack and pulled out her communicator, which was beeping. The odango-haired girl and her friends used their communicators every-so-often, such as when they were lost or had forgotten to charge their cellular phones. Usagi was often guilty of the latter. Other times, she crammed so much stuff in her backpack or purse that there was no room, and would whine about those portable phones being so big.
Answering the communicator, Usagi saw Rae's face appear on one of the screens.
"Rae, what's the emergency?"
"I've been getting some serious bad vibes lately," the dark-haired girl replied, "Do you know about this 'Happy Hub' organization?"
"Um, I've heard of it," Usagi replied, "Did you take one of those personality tests or something?"
"I was waiting in line for it," Rae replied, "And I started feeling some major bad vibes from the girl working at the kiosk."
"You mean she's another monster?" Usagi asked, "Are we gonna hafta deal with ANOTHER kingdom of darkness?"
The girl's face looked grim.
"I'm not sure what we're dealing with, Usagi, but that woman wasn't a monster... she seemed possessed. I could sense some deep sadness in her."
"Something weird happened to me just now," Usagi replied, "Chibiusa came and told me Nephrite is back and he's in trouble."
"I don't understand this either... and yes, Rae, I know there's a lot I don't understand," Usagi snarked.
"Look, Usagi," Rae said, cracking a sad smile at the odango-haired princess's self-deprecation, "There's a lot you do understand, and right now we need to find out where Nephrite is. There's a lot of good in him, from the way he acted toward Naru. I think we can find him if you and Chibiusa lead the way. Meet us at Mako's house."
"Sure thing, Rae!"
* * * * * * * *
"So you think Nephrite is back?"
"Naru told me she saw a guy in a wheelchair who looked like Nephrite," Usagi replied, looking up at the sky, "That man she was following even threw a piece of paper at us... and it hit me in the head."
The other Senshi and the two cats laughed.
"It's not funny, you guys!" Usagi growled, getting ready to give them all a bonk on the head.
"She's right," Ami piped up, "If Nephrite is alive and in trouble, we need to find him."
"I do have some memories of him," Mako sighed, "And he did break my heart."
"How did he do that?" the others groaned, bored with the tall girl's constant stories about that one guy from her old school.
"He joined Beryl in the war against the Moon Kingdom," Mako retorted, "That would break any girl's heart, right?"
Usagi and the others nodded, remembering that sad day when everything was destroyed.
"Well," Minako began, "Let's get going. Rae can detect the vibes of this 'Happy Hub', and maybe they'll lead us to our man!"
Suddenly, they all heard a voice whispering, "Help me..."
"That is Nephrite's voice!" Ami, Rei and Mako shouted.
The girls took their transformation pens out of their purses.
"Moon Eternal Power Make Up!" Usagi called out, while Chibiusa's transformation was "Moon Crystal Power Make Up!"
The other girls followed suit, morphing into their Senshi forms.
* * * * * * * *
At an art museum, a woman with shoulder-length wavy hair was busy analyzing a recent addition.
"Earth to Michiru," someone whispered, "Come in, please."
"Sorry, Haruka," the woman chuckled, "I've been lost in thought for awhile."
"Hmm..." Haruka mused, "About our future, perhaps the immediate future... when we get home, Michiru?"
Michiru gave Haruka a reproving look, but cracked a smile.
"Haruka," she said, "I can feel energy being taken... sucked out of people all over Tokyo. Someone is calling out for help. Someone from our past."
"Our past? One of the enemies or allies?"
Haruka gave Michiru a puzzled look.
"Who is this person?"
"I'm not certain," Michiru explained, "But we did meet for a short time. I can only make out his face."
She took her mirror out of her purse and looked into it. The image it showed, of four men, three of them with long hair, three with wavy hair, brought back several vague memories to both women.
"Somehow... we know these people?" Haruka wondered out loud.
"I just know that they took part in destroying the Moon Kingdom," Michiru replied, "I know that they were killed... three of them to be precise, but one survived."
The blond woman scratched her head.
"Then he's the one calling you?"
"No," Michiru explained, "I don't know his exact location either. All I know is he is in terrible pain."
The image in the mirror changed to that of the blond, short-haired man encased in crystal, his face frozen in a scream.
"Oh god," Haruka shuddered, "Are you saying we must save this man?"
Michiru shook her head.
"We must let the others save him. It is not within our power. There is an organization, however, which has been giving me a very bad feeling."
"Is it some nutty setup that gives people personality tests and sells books?" Haruka joked.
"This is serious," Michiru insisted, "The Happy Hub is giving off some very dark vibrations. I think it might have a connection with these disappearances, and that man may be next."
"Haruka-papa, Michiru-mama!" Hotaru called from one of the rooms, "Check out these paintings!"
"I hope this isn't what I think it is," Haruka sighed, "Hotaru deserves to live a normal life. She's so young."
"I know. But we are needed. This is the life of a sailor senshi."
"It is," Haruka whispered, "Though I am glad I was awakened as a senshi."
She pulled Michiru close and kissed her on the lips.
"As am I," Michiru replied after the kiss was broken, "As for what you spoke of earlier... I am looking forward to it... when we get home."
The two lovers turned to see Hotaru looking up at them, grinning.
"Come on!" she said, pulling them over to the next room, "There's a buncha paintings done by a girl who paints with her feet! They don't have any names, but I think we can try givin' them some!"
"Well, for a few minutes maybe," Haruka chuckled, "But we gotta leave soon, okay?"
"Aww!" Hotaru pouted.
Let her be a normal kid for awhile longer, Michiru thought, smiling wistfully.
* * * * * * * *
"So you think that man in the wheelchair might be Nephrite?" Mako asked.
"From what Usagi told me, it could well be him. Naru was able to recognize who he was after all, even in his Tuxedo Mask disguise."
"Not that hard to do," Minako added, "From my memories of Nephrite, it wouldn't be that hard to miss him – long hair, dreamy eyes, perfect smile and a hot body... ooh I'm starting to fangirl now!"
"Mina!" the others groaned.
"What?" Minako laughed, "I'm just saying he was quite the hunk, though really, Kunzite was a whole lot hunkier and had such pretty, serious eyes. I'm so in love now!"
"Mina," Usagi puffed, trying to run and talk at the same time, "You DO remember that he and Zoisite were quite... close... before Zoisite just went missing? Dunno why it happened. Kunzite was quite pissed and upset."
"Just 'cause they were friends?" Minako argued, apparently missing the point as usual.
Usagi and the others slapped their foreheads.
"He's GAY in other words, Mina!" they chorused.
The blond Senshi of love stopped in her tracks and looked rather distraught.
"Venus! Let's get going!" Rae yelled, "This is no time to pout over someone you loved over a millennium ago being in love with someone else!"
Suddenly, Minako's eyes grew wide and sparkly, as if she were in a dream world.
"Oh how ROMANTIC!" she sighed, smiling as if she were gushing over a romance manga, "They are quite perfect together I think... aww why couldn't they have turned good? I would so love to get a picture of them kissing!"
"Venus!" the others yelled, "Let's get going!"
"My computer is picking up some dark energy coming from a building," Ami called, "It's at the location of a hospital named 'H-H-Q'."
"I've heard of that place," Mako noted, "One side is a hospital and clinic, and the other side is a fire department. It's somewhere around the outskirts of Tokyo!"
"How far away is it?" Usagi asked, cringing at the thought of having to run that far.
"Oh, Odango-brain!" Rae yelled, "Who cares how far it is? We've gotta stop whoever it is from hurting Nephrite!"
"I know," Usagi whined, "My feet are just starting to get blisters! Why can't we teleport?"
"We need to save... our power, Sailor Moon," Ami explained, "We can't just use it to teleport everywhere, and it's not too far. Besides, exercise is good for you."
"Yeah," Mako added, "And you need it after eating all that junk food! You don't wanna get fat!"
"I'm not fat!" Usagi yelled, picking up her pace and trying to catch up to the snickering Sailor Jupiter.
"You seem to be porking up a bit," Rae joked, poking Usagi's side and starting a loud argument.
"Oh dear," Ami sighed, "They're at it again."
"At least they haven't slowed their pace," Mako observed.
* * * * * * * *
When they reached H-H-Q, the senshi looked for a rear entrance. Many of the people going in and out of the buildings wore special uniforms with a strange insignia – an 'h' enclosed by two rhombuses.
"Weird kinda nurse uniform," Usagi whispered.
"That's because the hospital and fire station buildings are both owned by the Happy Hub," Mina replied, "Though you gotta admit, they do look kinda snazzy."
Suddenly, they heard footsteps. Turning around, the senshi caught sight of two caped figures wearing top-hats.
"Looks like we got company," Mako warned.
"They look kinda like Tuxedo Mask," Usagi observed, "But their hair is too long."
"I think I recognize one of them," Minako added, "He reminds me of someone I used to know a long time ago."
"Who goes there?" the taller, straight-haired figure asked.
"That voice!" Minako shouted, "Kunzite?"
The two figures stepped closer. They both wore tuxedos and costume masks, but their outfits were somewhat different from Mamoru's; their lapels and cuffs were trimmed in white for the taller, white-haired figure, and green for the shorter, wavy-haired one. Both had capes with undersides that matched the colour schemes of their outfits.
"We are the sailor senshi!" Sailor Moon replied, "And we're here to rescue someone, so if you're working for this 'Happy Hub', on behalf of the Moon, Chibi-Moon and I will punish you!"
"We are here to rescue someone as well, Sailor Moon," the shorter figure chuckled, stepping closer, "Ah, this is a momentous occasion, as you may gaze upon the beauty of Tuxedo Zoisite."
"Zoisite?" Usagi and the other senshi, except for Chibi-Moon, chorused.
The small, pink-haired girl started toward the wavy-haired tuxedo man, only to be pulled back by Usagi and Rae.
"Chibi! No! He's dangerous!"
"Yes, I am," Tuxedo-Zoisite laughed, "Which is why you need me and Kunzite for this. We are here to rescue Nephrite."
"What are you two planning?" Usagi demanded.
"Planning?" Zoisite chuckled mischievously, "We are under the instruction of your mother."
"That's a lie!" Usagi yelled, "My mother would never consult the likes of you guys!"
"But mama, it's true," Chibiusa insisted, "I've been having dreams, and I told you about them in the future. You sent me here to help them."
"What do you mean, Small Lady?" Usagi whispered.
"Just trust them. They don't mean us any harm!"
"We can explain later," Kunzite stated, "Right now, we have to get inside and rescue him. Zoisite and I have both had a bad feeling about this organization."
"I think the spirit of your mother wants us to fight it, as part of our penance."
"I don't know about that," Usagi said, "And I don't trust you two, especially you, Zoisite, after what you did to Nephrite – right in front of Naru!"
At those words, Zoisite's face took on a look of pain and guilt.
"I understand, Princess," he replied, giving a short bow, "But we must go inside. I have a debt to repay."
* * * * * * * *
Masato surveyed the room where he was being held. Somehow, they were prepared, as his hands were strapped to the sides of the bed. The Earth lord couldn't reach into his shirt and hold his carnation, and any attempt at using his powers would likely attract too much attention. If only he had his shadow, an imaginary friend which Masato had used in one of his missions.
"Help me..." he whispered, struggling vainly against the straps.
Suddenly, Masato felt something inside him, somewhat like his shadow-self but light and flighty. As he watched, a small bird with a crest on its head climbed out of his chest. It was a cockatiel, with patches of yellow and white on its tan plumage. There also were patches of tan on its face, where in most male cockatiels it would be yellow.
"What is this?" he wondered, as the bird looked around and cocked its head and flew out of the room.
* * * * * * * *
As they ran through the hallway, the Senshi and Tuxedos watched for any sign of trouble.
"Keep your footsteps quiet!" Kunzite hissed, "We can't draw attention to ourselves!"
"We're trying," Ami panted, "But we must get to Nephrite quickly!"
"We'll hafta find out where they're keeping the patients though," Mako noted.
A lightbulb went on in Usagi's head.
"I know how we can get to Nephrite without them noticing," she said, reaching into her purse and pulling out the disguise pen.
"But how will that help with only you disguised as a nurse?" Rae protested.
"I have a plan," Usagi explained, "Let's see if this works!"
She held up the pen and summoned its power, but whispering instead of shouting as usual:
"Moon Power... disguise us all as nurses from this hospital!"
A soft light surrounded all of the Senshi and the two Tuxedo guardians, and when it dissipated, they were all wearing hospital scrubs complete with the insignia.
"Never thought Usagi could actually do that," Rae sighed, "Guess I underestimated her... again."
"Well, whaddaya expect from the one who defeated Chaos?" Usagi asked, wiggling her eyebrows and giving a silly grin.
"Ugh, I'd argue with you," Rae growled, "But I'll do it later."
"Look, guys!" Chibi-Moon called, pointing to something flying through the hallway, "A bird!"
A tan and yellow bird swooped down and tugged at the little girl's hair, squawking and whistling frantically.
"What's a bird doing in a hospital?" Usagi wondered.
"Yeah," Minako added, "Don't they have regulations about taking pets in places like this?"
"I think he wants us to follow him," Ami noted.
"I wonder if that bird tastes good," Diana mused as she ran alongside Chibiusa.
"You don't eat cockatiels, silly," Minako laughed, "And besides that, we'd better follow that bird!"
The others nodded, and let the bird lead the way.
"Nephrite has really outdone himself," Zoisite noted, "Getting captured this easily? I guess some things never change."
"I'd rather some things stay the same, my love," Kunzite replied with a wink.
"Sheesh," Mako grumbled, "It's like having Uranus and Neptune around, except now they're both men!"
Soon, they came across a group of staff members, women dressed for what could be the army marching down the hallway.
"Uh oh, we got company!" Rei warned.
"Um, coming through!" Usagi yelled, "Cute lost birdie on the loose, gang way! Oops sorry 'bout that!"
The others followed, bumping into the two lines of officers and sending them crashing into the walls and gurneys.
"Hey!" the leader shouted, "Your hair is not regulation. Who are you?"
"Sorry, Miss," Minako called back, "We're really new here and couldn't pick out a new style just yet. Besides, aren't ribbons and pigtails just the cutest?"
"MINA!" the other senshi yelled, "Come on!"
"Who's Mina?" Mina asked, before leaning over and hissing, "Hey, why are you revealing my real name to these guys? How do we know if we can trust them?"
"Now's not the time, Mina," Mako hissed back, "We gotta go help someone before they get us!"
"Right, right," Mina sighed, before going back to following the cockatiel, which let out a few irritated squawks and gave her a look that said she was going to get an earful later on.
* * * * * * * *
Finally, they made it into a room where someone was strapped to a gurney.
"Hmm, I've heard about a bed shortage," Mako mused, "But this is ridiculous."
The bird flew down onto the patient's head, then sunk and disappeared into it. Seeing it as their cue, Zoisite and Kunzite stood by the door, along with Mina, Ami and Rei. Chibiusa, Mako and Usagi went over to the gurney and looked to see who it was.
"Nephrite?" Usagi breathed.
"Please, untie me," Nephrite whispered, "And hurry!"
The three young senshi worked to undo the straps, then helped the man to a sitting position.
"Can you walk?" Usagi asked.
"In a moment, I will be able to," the auburn-haired man replied, reaching into his shirt and pulling out a yellow carnation.
"Well you won't be walking once I get through with you," Mako scolded, "You had a lotta nerve doing what you did, breaking my heart!"
Nephrite just nodded, looking sadly at the cold, hard floor as he transformed.
"Well, this must wait," he replied, "And for what it's worth, I am very sorry for doing what I did. I hope you can someday forgive me."
"You can do that by never breaking a girl's heart again!" Mako snapped, grinning at him like a Cheshire cat.
Taken off guard by the answer, Nephrite nodded with a goofy smile.
"Now let's get outta here!" Rei yelled, "I can hear them coming!"
"We have to find my wheelchair," Nephrite protested, "I won't be able to get around very easily without it."
"We can get you a new one," Rei shot back.
"I don't want them getting my wallet and finding the location of my house!" Nephrite yelled.
"It just keeps getting better and better," Zoisite sighed.
"That's my Nephrite," Mako groaned.
* * * * * * * *
"You know, with all the trouble you've got us into, I'm surprised Beryl didn't ice you sooner!" Mako yelled as they burst through a lobby, fully aware of the stares they drew.
"Believe me," Zoisite grumbled, "She almost did. He was spared by a stroke of luck and some love energy from a certain redhead."
"Why am I NOT surprised?"
"I know it's somewhere on this floor," Nephrite assured them, "I can recognise the layout."
"Were you there?" Rei asked.
"No, my bird was."
"Figures," Mako muttered, "Well it better be here or I swear you'll be drivin' it with a straw after I get done with you!"
As they passed an office, the senshi and Tuxedos overheard a man talking to someone.
"Yes," the man said, "Red sports car? We found it in an impound lot and took it in. It should be in the garage, section 5A-33.
"A sports car?"
Mako couldn't believe her ears.
"So that's how you picked up that redhead?"
"Look," Rei hissed, "I really don't care about your issues right now - we need to get his stuff away from those people!"
"You so need to let me drive it," Mako continued, "I've always wanted to drive a real sports car!"
"Mako!" the other senshi chorused.
"This is bad," Nephrite panted, "It has several important documents for my rehab center!"
* * * * * * * *
return to Index / go to Chapter 8
The Nephrite and Naru Treasury