Slow Process to Redemption
by Keren Olivero

Chapter 5

* * * * * * * *

Rei exited the arcade and stood in the corner to wait for Mamoru. She was betting he would show up at the arcade at some point, and she was determined to make him hers. Of course she would have to get to know him first but she didn't mind. She knew exactly how to get his attention if he came her way. It was very simple. She would just pretend to bump into him by accident. She visualized the scenario of that.

*Daydream begins*

Mamoru was heading towards the direction of the Crown Arcade. Rei saw him coming close to her. She was very hasty in approaching him, but smacked square into him in the process. He put an arm around her shoulders.

When the raven haired girl realized what she had done, she felt like such an idiot. She looked sheepish. "I'm so sorry. I wasn't looking where I was going. Are you all right?"

"Yes, better than ever now that I've bumped into a beautiful girl like you. I feel such a connection with you."

Rei's eyes lit up. "You really mean that? I'm so happy!"

"Me too."

*Daydream ends*

Rei was a little disappointed the dream ended. "Oh my. What a dream. It can become a reality if I have faith."

Meanwhile Usagi was walking down the street, eating an ice cream cone. Luna sighed as she watched this. The girl proved how tough she could be during battles but outside of them she was such a slacker. "Usagi, don't get too wrapped up in eating that ice cream," she said.

Usagi just ignored the warning, for when she was engrossed in her favorites, it took attention grabbing incidents to make her take notice of what she was being told. She stopped eating for a moment, since she thought she spotted Rei standing in the corner. "What is Rei up to now?" she questioned aloud.

"It appears she is waiting for someone," answered Luna.

'Hmm. I'd better keep an eye on her.' She thought it seemed weird that Rei had agreed with her earlier and suspected she had ulterior motives behind it. After all, she had never agreed with her on such a subject before.

* * * * * * * *

Fortunately for Rei, Mamoru did show up, and just her luck, he was heading in her direction. 'The Shinto gods must be on my side today.' She realized this was her cue. When he came within a close enough distance, she ran to him, intending to carry out the scheme she concocted in her head. Sadly, it was easier said than done. Her timing was off and this made her trip instead of falling into Mamoru's arms like she planned. He stepped on her head by mistake. She groaned in pain.

"Oh I'm so sorry," said Mamoru, realizing what he had done."Are you all right?"

Rei felt so embarrassed for being so much clumsier than she bargained for. She wondered if she had been spending too much time with Usagi, for she seemed to be picking up the blonde's mannerisms. She got back up. "Yes I am. No need to be sorry. I am sorry for putting you in such a position."

"It's all right." The raven haired young man started to walk away.

Panic filled Rei as she realized Mamoru was about to leave and she would lose her chance to get to know him. Knowing she could still catch up with him if she made haste, she ran after him. "Mamoru, wait!"

He stopped in his tracks."Is there something wrong? I don't want to cut this short, but I'm sort of in a hurry."

"Can't you spare a little while? I was thinking we could get a milkshake. I just want to get to know you better."

That idea sounded good to him. He certainly wanted to get to know Rei, since it seemed like they had some sort of chemistry going back when they first met at the amusement park. But now was not the best time. "I'm supposed to be meeting someone."

Rei wasn't going to give up that easily. "In that case, we can do take out."

Mamoru could see how eager the girl was and decided his little meeting with his friend was not that important after all. "Why not? I can always meet the person later."

Rei then knew the answer was yes and she was very happy. "Great!" 'He's such a nice person. Usagi was wrong to judge him the way she did and I will prove that to her.' She grabbed Mamoru by the arm and led him to Café Amigo. She leaned on his shoulder for good measure.

Unbeknownst to both of them, Usagi was watching. It was bad enough for her that Mamoru had shown up again, but seeing him and Rei together was even more sickening. "Ugh! What does she think she's doing, hanging all over him? There is no time for this!"

Luna sighed. "Usagi, that is not for you to decide."

"I'm only showing concern for Rei. You know how she's always ragging on me for goofing off but here she is doing the same thing! Let's follow her to make sure she doesn't get to have too much fun." She ran after the pair.

Luna shook her head. "This is hopeless." She sighed again, and followed the blonde.

* * * * * * * *

Rei and Mamoru were at the café spending some time together. They had ordered a large chocolate milkshake to share, but Rei was too busy thinking about her "crush" to take more than a couple of small sips. She could hardly believe it. Ever since she had met him at the theme park she had wanted to get to know him and now here he was, sitting across from her. She felt so flustered and butterflies were in her stomach. She hoped she wouldn't do something to embarrass herself this time.

"So Mamoru, do you have someone you love?" she asked.

Mamoru considered this for a moment. "No, not right now," he answered.

Rei was so ecstatic to hear that, since it meant he was available. She didn't want him to know how desperate she was to have him. "Neither do I. I am saving myself for the one who is just right for me."

"And one day you will find that special person."

"You really think so?"

"I know so."

"Awwww." She didn't want to tell him he was the one she was saving herself for. She was just getting to know him and she hated to risk scaring him away.

* * * * * * * *

Usagi and Luna were right outside the café, watching. Usagi wanted to spew chunks at how closer Mamoru and Rei seemed to be getting to each other. And they appeared to be so deep in discussion. She hated not having a clue what they were talking about.

"Those two look like they can't stop yapping," she commented. "They had better not be bashing my hairstyle."

Luna, who never liked the idea of the moon senshi spying, replied, "Well there is nothing you can do about it."

"What do you mean? Sure I can. And I know just the way, too." She gave a sly grin and pulled out her Luna Pen. She would use it to change her hairstyle.

Luna realized what Usagi had in mind and could not allow it again. "Usagi, put that away!"

"But why?" whined the blonde.

"You know you're only supposed to use the pen for sailor business!"

"I know, but couldn't I use it for non-sailor business just this once?" She didn't feel like running all the way home just to take her hair out of the pigtails and comb it down. She was afraid she would miss something worth sticking around for.

"Hi there, Usagi. How are things?" greeted a very familiar voice. One she was never very thrilled to hear. The geekiest boy in her class. She gazed up only to see it was him. She wondered what he wanted this time.

"Just peachy, if you must know." Generally she would tell him to get lost, but as crazy as it sounded, she was actually glad to see him. Of course, she wasn't going to let him know that. Especially since her reason was a bit selfish.

"Say Umino? Do you have enough money for both of us?" she hesitantly asked.

"I think so. Why do you ask?"

"Why don't we share a milkshake?"

Umino's eyes lit up. It looked like a friendship was beginning to form between him and Usagi. He was actually hoping they would be more than friends, so he was a little disappointed. But it would be better than the treatment he had received from her in the past, and he was grateful to her for at least treating him with respect. "Really? Can we get vanilla with prunes?"

Ordinarily the young teen didn't find that very appetizing but she realized this was also her chance to properly repay him for being kind enough to give her one of the tickets for the "cruise". So she humored him by responding, "Sure! Whatever you want. It's your money."


Luna had a bad feeling as she watched the two teens enter the café. She had an idea why Usagi asked Umino to treat her to the milkshake. Considering the blonde's feelings toward him, she would never make such a request of him unless she had an ulterior motive. She thought it was impolite of Usagi to spy on Rei and Mamoru. She decided to see what Ami was doing.

* * * * * * * *

Mamoru and Rei finished their milkshake and were preparing to leave the café. Rei hoped Mamoru didn't have to leave yet, as there were a few other things she wanted to do with him. She didn't want the date to end so soon. So far, she enjoyed spending time with him, even though she was the one who did most of the talking.

"Mamoru? Do you want to rent a rowboat and sail across the lake with me?" she asked.

The raven haired young man smiled. "Sure. That would be very nice." Even though he hadn't known her for very long, he took a liking to her.

"Great!" Rei grabbed him by the hand and led him out of the snack bar.

Usagi and Umino were seated at a nearby booth which faced forwards. Usagi heard footsteps walking out of the café. She suspected it was her friend and Mamoru leaving. "Rats! I can't believe it! They're leaving and I didn't even get to hear what they said! We should have sat at a booth right next to theirs!" The blonde sounded like she was going to have a meltdown.

Umino knew exactly how to calm her down. "Never mind that, Usagi-san. Let's just enjoy the milkshake." He took a sip of the milkshake, savoring its flavor.

Usagi calmed herself a bit. "Oh right." She desperately hoped the milkshake would not be as unappealing as it sounded. She cautiously took a sip, and made an exaggerated icky noise. It wasn't quite as bad as she thought it would be, but she still preferred sticking to her chocolate flavored ones. She wished she hadn't spent the last bit of her money.

* * * * * * * *

Meanwhile, Nephrite and his trio of youma were monitoring Kunitachi's energy level. The old man's energy was increasing nicely and it wouldn't be too long before it climaxed to its highest point so Nephrite could seize it. And this time he would make sure to do his job right. He would see to it those senshi would not escape alive this time.

Ruby was impressed when she saw the gardener chewing out his boss for the twisted plan to destroy the park. He turned out to be the perfect pawn to teach the humans a lesson about the boons of nature after all. "Well well, this old man is ruthless for a change. I thought I was going to have to use force. Once again, you're a genius, Master Nephrite."

As much as the star shitennou enjoyed the praise his youma constantly gave him, he didn't want her to think they had won yet. He wouldn't be victorious until he rid the planet of the meddling senshi, which he was sure he would do this time. After all, the scheme was even better than the first one."Do not celebrate just yet. We still have a way to go before achieving our victory."

Ruby felt a bit sheepish which almost never happened. "Of course, sir. Forgive me if I have forgotten my place."

"No you haven't." In fact he thought she acted like himself sometimes. He always knew he possibly met his match when it came to cockiness.

The silence was making Ruby feel a bit uncomfortable. She conjured another energy draining crystal ball and handed it to her master."As you may have guessed I have more than enough for this mission. One to use for each victim."

The twin youma thought that was an excellent strategy on Ruby's part even though chances were their master wouldn't need all of them.

* * * * * * * *

Kunitachi's boss' heart was unchanged by the little "tirade." As far as he was concerned, the old man was just all talk since he was not the one who owned the park.

"Your anger won't do any good, so quit being difficult! The park's going to be eliminated and that's final! The building will be beautiful and I will see to it that you get employment. You would make a wonderful janitor."

"Hmph!" was all Kunitachi would reply. His employer's callousness was making him angrier. At least he knew there were people who cared, and they gave him the strength to assertively express his anger. He would make sure his boss paid dearly for disrespecting nature.

The boss left the office to have a smoke outside. He lit the cigarette and proceeded to smoke it. As he gazed around the park, all he felt was contempt. He was so sick of preserving all of the plants and flowers in it. 'Once this park is destroyed, it'll be goodbye and good riddance.' After he was through smoking, he threw it onto the ground, unaware that some squirrels were nearby. Their eyes proceeded to glow bright crimson and they also had the look of fierce anger. When the man started to walk away, the rodents ferociously pounced on him and proceeded to bite him. He was so surprised that he nearly had a heart attack.

"Aaaah! Someone help me!" he screamed, running as fast as he could.

Ami happened to be in the garden with Luna draped over her shoulder. She was enjoying the beauty and tranquility as much as she could, just as Kunitachi had advised her to do. She was dumbstruck by what she saw. "What on earth….?" She knew squirrels could be dangerous creatures when provoked, but they never behaved this way before. Something fishy was going on because she also thought she sensed an evil aura around them.

The man continued screaming and running. "Get off of me you rodents! Someone help me!"

Luna was also surprised by the squirrels' behavior. "I believe this is a plot of the Dark Kingdom."

Ami had come to that same conclusion and she didn't need her items to prove it. "I'm afraid you're right."

"We'd better alert Usagi and Rei so we can investigate this."

"Let's just hope we won't find them too late."

* * * * * * * *

Mamoru and the senshi of fire were enjoying their time out on the lake. Rei felt like her dream was a reality. She didn't want the moment to end, ever. She knew sadly she would not get to do this with Mamoru again. Not in that particular park.

"Oh Mamoru...this lake is so beautiful," she wistfully told him.

"It certainly is," the young man agreed.

"But it won't be here for long. Soon the park owner will fill the lake with concrete and this park will be torn down and turned into an office building."

Mamoru wasn't happy to hear that news at all. "That's terrible."

"I know." The raven haired teen girl gave a sad sigh. She wished she could do something to stop it, but if they wouldn't listen to a grown-up who was much older, they definitely wouldn't listen to a teenager. Plus she was betting once the men made up their minds, it was final. Oh well. All she could do was enjoy the park for the brief amount of time it would still be around. Spending time with Mamoru helped to take her mind off it. "Do you want to look at the flowers after this?"

"Sure. I would especially like to see the rose garden before it is destroyed."

"Sounds like a plan." 'Wait a second…Tuxedo Kamen likes roses too.' This made her suspicions of Mamoru being Tuxedo Kamen stronger. The parallels between the two were too strong to just be a mere coincidence.

Usagi and Umino had decided to take a walk in the woods after they were done sharing the milkshake. All the way to the park Umino kept trying to woo the blonde by making flirtatious comments, but she wasn't interested. She was beginning to regret asking him to do this with her, but she remembered why she was bothering to spend time alone with him and put up with his antics. All she wanted to do was see what else Rei's date with Mamoru involved. From what she saw, they were getting a little too close for comfort.

"If those two kiss, I swear I'm gonna hurl!" She was feeling queasier than she was before.

"Now that you've mentioned it, I know the perfect thing we can do while we're in the woods. I must show my love to you by means of a kiss." He puckered his lips.

Now Umino was just beginning to scare her. She rolled her eyes. "I don't think so. I'm not desperate." She left before he could do anything else.

* * * * * * * *

Usagi only got as far as the garden when she saw Ami and Luna coming towards her. It was so nice to be away from the nerd for a change and see someone whose company she actually enjoyed.

"Hey there, Usagi," she called.

"Hiya, Ami-chan! I am so glad to see you. Umino is so creepy."

"Oh Usagi. You really should treat that young man with more respect," groaned Luna. She never understood why the young girl was so annoyed by Umino.

"Listen Usagi, did you see any of the animals behaving strangely?" asked the blue haired teen.

"No...what do you mean?"

Ami was about to explain about the squirrels pouncing on one of the workers and attacking him when all of a sudden she was interrupted by a very gruff voice asking what she was doing. She glanced up. It was her friend Kunitachi!

"No one's allowed in my park! " he continued to bark. "I'm going to teach you foolish humans about the boons of nature! And you will learn that lesson the hard way!"

Ami was speechless. This did not sound like her dear friend at all. So the Dark Kingdom was behind this. Especially after she saw his eyes flashing.

Nephrite knew it was time. "All right Petasos, unleash your fury!" Crystal ball in hand, he made himself invisible as he teleported to the site and collected the vast amount of energy. He disappeared, admiring the energy he just gathered. Seeing as how it was the human emotion of anger, he was sure it would greatly increase the power of Queen Metallia. He just hoped Petasos wouldn't fail him. She was a bit stronger than Tesuni and he thought she was quite capable of defeating the senshi.

* * * * * * * *

Kunitachi collapsed from the loss of energy, and his hair turned snow white. His age was showing on him and he looked lifeless. A plant like humanoid youma arose from his hat, which had fallen off. This youma had purple skin, green hair made of weeds and elf like ears. She gave a shrill cackle.

Ami was panicked when she saw Kunitachi looking so lifeless. Given his age, he would die if he stayed in such a condition for too long. "Oh no! Mr. Kunitachi!"

"Forget about that pathetic old fool!" said the youma in her squeaky voice. "His life will be over soon." With a war cry, she launched a barrage of birds at the teen girls.

First it was possessed squirrels, now possessed birds. This just couldn't go on, plus Ami had to save Kunitachi. "I won't let you kill him!" She hid behind some bushes and transformed.

For once Usagi didn't have to be told to transform. She wanted to stop this madness just as badly as her friend did. "Moon Prism Power, Make Up!"

* * * * * * * *

Rei and Mamoru's boat ride was going nicely until Mamoru started to feel sharp piercing pains in his head—the pain he always felt when Sailor Moon was in some type of danger. He clutched at his head.

Rei didn't know anything about this. She became worried when she saw he appeared to be in distress. "What's the matter? Are you feeling sick?"

"It's nothing."

"Well…if you say so."

All of a sudden some birds flew at the couple with such force that the boat capsized, throwing both of them off and into the river.

Both of them were shaken by what just happened. "Mamoru? Are you all right?" asked Rei.

"I am more worried about you. I don't understand, nature used to be such a beautiful thing but now it seems to have turned against us."

"It sure seems that way." The raven-haired girl carefully sat up and saw a blanket of darkness. She had suspected something fishy was going on when the birds tipped over the rowboat since they would never do that under normal circumstances. When she saw the darkness, she knew something was amiss. Plus she thought she sensed evil around those birds. "I hate to cut this date short but there is something important I have to do. I will be back as soon as I can."

* * * * * * * *

Petasos smirked evilly. So these were the nosy senshi her master mentioned. They looked like such weak little girls she got the impression crushing them would be a piece of cake. "You wimpy senshi don't stand a chance against the power of nature!" She manipulated more animals, butterflies and squirrels this time. The squirrels attacked Luna whilst the butterflies went after Mercury and Moon. The two girls screamed loudly. It was so upsetting seeing such wonderful creatures act so viciously. They had to return them to normal, and the only way to do that was to defeat this youma.

Petasos laughed as she listened to the girls' cries of pain. It was music to her ears. They've made a grave mistake challenging her. Luna had a hard time with the squirrels. She struggled to break free from their vice-like grip, but they wouldn't budge.

The senshi of ice decided to try something. "Shabon Spray!" The fog was enough to pry the butterflies off of her and Moon as well as confuse Petasos.

"What have you done to Mr. Kunitachi?" Mercury demanded to know.

Usagi added, "And why are the animals going berserk?"

"Why? To teach you a lesson the hard way! Pollen Power!" The weed- like monster thrust out a flower. It opened and a mass of bright green weeds wound around Moon.

"Ah what is this? I can't move my arms!" she wailed. She felt like such a moron for not moving out of the way.

Petasos continued her assault. "Your turn!" This time she extended her vine-like hair and wrapped it around Mercury, entangling her. She screeched and tried to break free, but it was futile.

"Mercury! No!" She so badly wanted to save Mercury since she knew just the way to do it—her moon tiara. Problem was she was tied up as well. She wondered if Luna got the squirrels to release her yet. She was the only one who could help at all.

"Luna, if you're okay now, we need your help and fast!" Sadly, the squirrels still had a hold on Luna and she looked as if she was about to lose consciousness.

Petasos just laughed at the moon senshi. "No one can save you now! It's all over for you!"

Mercury was still trying to break free even though she knew it was hopeless. She glanced at her elderly friend. He was becoming paler by the second. "Oh no! Mr. Kunitachi won't last much longer! But I can't help him like this!" She was forced to concede there were only two people who could help her and Sailor Moon. She could only hope either of them would arrive soon.

Well it appeared both girls were in luck, and Luna, too. A fireball swirled towards both of them and broke the weeds in half. Sailor Mars had arrived. It did free them, but they still felt the effect of the attack.

The senshi of the moon dramatically dropped to the floor and rolled around in an attempt to fan the flames.

Mars appeared and landed on her feet with precision. "Are you all right?"

Moon had to admit, she would not have been free had it not been for Mars, but she was very sore about nearly being burned to a charred cinder. "I am just super, thanks to you!" she answered sarcastically. "Were you trying to kill me or something?"

The fire senshi was a bit exasperated with Moon's ingratitude. "Can't you say thank you for a change?"

Moon was about to snap back, but Mercury shook her head as if to say there was no time for arguing. Moon and Mars seemed to understand what she said.

"Let's dispose of this overgrown weed!" said Mars. She glared at Petasos. "I am the sailor senshi of flame and passion, Sailor Mars!"

"I am the sailor senshi of water and wisdom, Sailor Mercury!" announced the ice senshi.

"In the name of Mars and Mercury, we will punish you!"

Sailor Moon couldn't believe how hasty her friends were being. That was really painful. "Hey! We're supposed to be a team!" she whined.

Petasos was annoyed by the interruption, but on the other hand she thought she could use it to her advantage. After all, her master would be pleased if she got rid of all of them. "If you pathetic senshi think you can defeat me, you're more foolish than I thought! Your powers are positively miniscule!" She conjured another flower and prepared to bind all three girls with her deadly vines, but before she could unleash her attack, a petal from a red rose hit her in the head. It took her by surprise and she shrieked loudly.

Sailor Moon was ecstatic when she saw those petals, for it meant Tuxedo Kamen had arrived. He always helped her overcome her doubts when she thought she was a goner.

"Believe in your strength, Sailor Moon and you can defeat her! You must never lose hope," he said.

The moon senshi didn't waste any time. She took off her tiara and threw it at Petasos. "Moon Tiara Action!"

"Aaaaah!" screeched the plant-like youma as the tiara sliced her in two. Within minutes she was reduced to ashes.

"If you girls have faith in yourselves and in your powers, you can defeat your foes, no matter how strong they are. Never forget that. Farewell for now." With a flick of his cape, Tuxedo Kamen left.

Sailor Moon was starry-eyed as she watched him go. "Oh, I wish I can have him as my soul mate," she said, red hearts popping out of her eyes.

"You guys! We haven't exactly won!" said Mercury.

Moon wondered what she was talking about, for she had just turned the youma into moon dust. Was there something else they were supposed to do?

"What do you mean, we haven't won?" questioned Mars. "The monster is gone."

"That may be, but even though the animals are back to normal, Mr. Kunitachi isn't."

Moon looked to see what Mercury meant, and saw that the old man's hair was still white even though it was originally black before. And he showed no signs of regaining consciousness either. "You're right! But how can that be? Defeating the monster should have returned his energy."

"I agree completely. But as you may have noticed, this isn't the first time it has happened. Remember Rui's energy had not returned immediately and she had to be hospitalized."

"I remember." The blonde senshi was glad Rui was all right now. She wasn't sure if the old gardener would be, though...unless he got help somehow.

Mars had been quiet for a bit because she didn't know what to make of this. But now she was steaming. This was the second person whose energy had been sucked dry. And she especially felt helpless because she didn't know why it had not been reversed following the destruction of Petasos. "When I get my hands on whoever did this, I'm going to deal with them in the most painful way."

"Now now Mars, I understand your anger, but revenge will not get us anywhere," said Mercury. "We do need to get to the bottom of this, but the most important thing right now is to help Mr. Kunitachi. And we have to do it quickly. He will die if he stays like this."

"I suppose you're right," Mars reluctantly admitted. It was hard for her to control her anger.

"So how do we help him?" asked Moon.

Mercury had thought of one possible way. It was a bit risky and dangerous, but it was the only quick way to help. "I'll give him some of my life energy."

"Oh well in that case, count me in," said the ebony haired senshi.

"Me too," said Moon. The three senshi wandered over to the elderly man and stooped down next to him. Mercury and Mars rested their hands on his shoulders, one on each, whereas Mercury rested her hands on his back. Energy flowed from all three girls into him. While doing this, they desperately hoped it would help.

The energy transfusion stopped when the senshi felt severely weakened. Much to their relief, Mr. Kunitachi started stirring and color slowly returned to his hair and skin. He groaned and slowly opened his eyes. "What happened?" he asked hoarsely.

The ice senshi wasn't sure how to explain what had happened to him. "Never mind. You are safe now, and that's what matters."

* * * * * * * *

Miki was extremely displeased that her master's scheme hadn't worked. The senshi may have proved to be worthy adversaries, but their powers were still puny in comparison to the Dark Kingdom. The senshi being so persistent could get irritating very quickly. Not to mention how Beryl would react.

"Good grief, what will it take to dispose of those annoying girlie girls?" she wondered aloud. She despised the thought of her master being humiliated by young girls, and hearing Beryl's lectures even more.

"Not to worry. It won't be long before they are obliterated forever." As frustrating as the failure was, Nephrite was still confident he could defeat the senshi. Their luck would run out sooner or later. Obviously he would have to take his game up even more notches but he was determined to find that way, even if it meant confronting his foes personally. Not that he was afraid to, given his superior skills.

* * * * * * * *

return to Index / go to Chapter 6

The Nephrite and Naru Treasury