Slow Process to Redemption
by Keren Olivero
* * * * * * * *
Rei had just finished getting ready for school, and still had a little bit of free time to kill before she had to leave. 'Now what shall I do? I know! I will see who it is that has been stripping everyone of their energy,' she thought. It had been weighing heavily on her mind ever since the Miss Akiyama plot.
'I'm glad Miss Akiyama is all right. However, I will not allow this madness to continue.' The senshi of fire sat in front of the fire place. "Oh sacred flame, please tell me who's behind this energy stealing scheme." The flames answered by blazing as if it were burning something that had been thrown into them, and revealed an image of a young man. He wore the same military style uniform as Jadeite did; only he had long wavy chestnut hair.
'So this guy is our new enemy. Well, now I know who to look out for. Trust me, he's gonna be sorry,' thought Rei, clenching her fists. She imagined what she might do to the shitennou for his wrongdoings. It definitely wasn't going to be pretty.
"Rei! Are you still dilly-dallying? You will be late for school!" called Grandpa Hino.
The raven haired girl glanced at her watch. Her grandpa was right. It was time for her to get going. Still, she didn't think her grandpa had the right to interrupt her thoughts that way.
"Okay, I'm coming." Rei picked up her book bag and left the room. 'I'm gonna have to tell Ami and Usagi about my discovery. Perhaps Ami can use her computer to find out more information on this guy.'
* * * * * * * *
Usagi's morning classes seemed longer than usual to her. Her mind was wandering throughout most of them. 'I am so hungry,' she kept thinking. 'I could use a snack break right about now, but I don't wanna get in trouble again for eating in class. Not today, anyway.'
Too late. The blonde teen's tummy started growling. She gave a frustrated sigh. 'Nooo, why did this have to happen now? I hope Miss Haruna didn't hear that. Otherwise, I'll be in big trouble. What do I do? What do I do? I have to think of something fast or else I'm dead!' But the question was what?
'Oh would you please be quiet?' Usagi mentally urged. 'I can't feed you right now.' The gurgling noise wouldn't stop.
Finally Usagi had enough. 'That does it.' She knew she would be in big trouble for eating in class but she didn't care. Just as she was about to reach into her bag and pull out her bento box, the lunch bell rang. She heaved a sigh of relief. 'That was perfect timing.' She tried her hardest not to show how overjoyed she really was, even though it would be a tall order for her.
Usagi reached into her bag and pulled out her bento. "Lunch time!" she said in a sing-song voice. She prepared to take a large bite of her rice cake. Next to her, Naru was reading a newspaper and several classmates crowded around the red-head. The ditzy blonde rested her chopsticks down and went to see what the fuss was about.
"Hey Naru, what are you reading about?" asked Usagi, trying to sound interested.
"There is an article on the famous photographer, Kijin Shinokawa," answered Naru.
"Oooo! I wanna see!" The blonde girl peered down at the article Naru was reading. She was sure it would be an excellent read.
"I can't believe how well he has done considering he's only in junior high like we are!" gushed Usagi. "And look! He goes right to Gohongi Number 1 Junior High School! That's near the school Rei goes to! Maybe we can go there after school to get his autograph!"
Usually Naru would tease her best friend for being such a ham, but this time she was just as excited. "Yeah!"
Usagi took the newspaper and showed it to Ami, who was quietly sitting at her desk. "Hey Ami! You want to come with us?"
"No thanks. I do not really have an interest in meeting him," answered Ami.
That wasn't the response Usagi wanted. "What? How can you be so calm about this?"
"I wouldn't be able to. I have to go to cram school then."
Usagi sighed. "You're gonna waste your whole youth if you only spend it doing school work."
"School work is a part of my youth," Ami responded. She looked hurt that Usagi didn't seem to understand.
"Oh, this is pointless," the blonde mumbled, wearily rubbing her forehead. 'At least I wouldn't have to go alone, though.' Usagi decided she was looking forward to the end of the school day more than usual, even though Ami couldn't come along. She placed her notepad in her desk so she would be prepared.
* * * * * * * *
When the final bell rang that day, Usagi grabbed her notepad and backpack and ran out of the classroom. Naru had just barely finished packing away her books. "Hey! Wait up, will ya!"
"The way she acts, you'd think she has never seen a famous person before," commented a girl with low cut short hair.
"I know right?" another girl agreed. She and the other girls ran after Usagi. They nearly got the wind knocked out of them, but they finally managed to catch up with the blonde.
"Oh!" said Usagi, giggling sheepishly. "Sorry. I just got excited."
"That's nothing new," Naru muttered.
"What was that?"
"Never mind," answered Naru, not wanting to start an argument. "Let's go, shall we?"
"Now you're talking!" The four junior high girls briskly walked to Kijin's junior high school. "Ooh I am so nervous," said Usagi.
Naru gave her friend a funny look. "You're nervous? It was you who wanted to meet the photographer so badly."
"I know, but...what if I klutz out or make an idiot of myself?"
Now Naru knew where Usagi was getting at, and she understood, too, considering such a thing was very probable. "Just relax. I am sure Kijin-san is a normal guy."
Usagi gave the red-head a grateful look. "I hope you're right." She and her friends finally arrived at the school. The blonde's excited mood plummeted when she saw how many people had crowded around the photographer. Some of them were trying to get pictures of him. 'Whoa! It looks like a circus! At this rate we will never get close to Kijin-kun.'
A couple of reporters surrounded Kijin as well. "So tell me, Mr. Shinokawa, how do you feel about receiving the highest honor for Japanese Pictures?" one of them inquired.
The young man smiled shyly at all the attention he was receiving. "I feel wonderful," he answered.
"Do you think you will still take scenic photographs?"
"Yes, I plan to." Kijin took a look at his watch. It was almost time to leave. He wanted to take more pictures and he also had a load of homework to do. 'How do I end this interview without seeming rude?'
Usagi glanced at her friends. "Okay, I think now is a great time to go talk to the photographer."
"Okay." All four of them proceeded to walk towards Kijin, but their way was blocked by Rei.
"Stop! This is as far as you go!" said the raven haired girl.
Usagi felt like shoving Rei out of the way, but thought better of that. "What do you think you're doing?!"
"Don't act like a bunch of rabid fangirls!" Rei scolded.
"What's wrong with getting an autograph from my favorite celebrity?!"
'Geez, I wonder who made her security,' thought Naru.
"I'm just saying if you do not have any sort of interest in photography, don't ask Kijin for his autograph just because he's a famous person," said Rei. She found Usagi's shallowness appalling.
Okay. That did it. "Who I ask for an autograph is none of your business!" snapped Usagi.
The photographer came between the two girls. "Please stop bickering. I am getting a headache."
The two girls looked ashamed of themselves for their behavior in front of Kijin. "Sorry," mumbled Rei.
* * * * * * * *
Just before going home, Kijin went to the coast. He stood on the cliff. 'This sunset is beautiful...I must have it in my photo collection,' the young man thought to himself. He held up his large camera. 'I must capture the scene perfectly.' Kijin prepared to click on the shutter, but the ledge beneath him crumbled and he slipped. "Aaaah!" he screamed. He hoped someone would come to save him or else it would be the end of him.
Fortunately, someone pulled Kijin up before he plummeted to his death. "Be careful," said the person.
Kijin looked up to see who had rescued him. It was a gentleman he had never seen before. His rapid heartbeat slowed down. "Thank you very much. What's your name?"
"That's not important," answered Nephrite. "Here, I'll get your camera for you." The dark general reached over and placed his hand on the large camera, engraving his evil magical energy draining crest on it. He picked it up and handed it to the photographer.
"Thanks again," said Kijin.
"By the way, I am a big fan of your photography. Keep up the good work, Kijin-san." Nephrite walked away.
The photographer had more confidence than he had before. An idea was coming to him. 'This stranger is very supportive, whoever he is. He has made me decide to expand my horizons and not just take scenic photographs.'
* * * * * * * *
Later that afternoon, Nephrite was in his planetarium, concocting his next diabolical scheme. "Stars know everything. Point me to my next victim." An image of Kijin was revealed, whom the star shitennou had encountered earlier. "So Sirius, the star of evil in the dark sky points to Kijin Shinokawa. I thought I felt a strong force from him. Well by taking photographs of women, he will be a wonderful supplier of energy to the Great Queen Metallia!"
"Excuse me, Master Nephrite." It was Ruby's voice. Nephrite turned to see what his henchwoman wanted.
"Here." Ruby handed her master another energy draining crystal ball. He took it and an idea of a possible alteration to his plan came to him. Just a slight change in strategy...at least, for now.
"Cameran, come forth!"
A female youma with dark aqua colored hair and a humpy right shoulder, dressed in a leotard appeared and bowed before him. "Yes, Master Nephrite. What evil deed shall I aid you with?"
"I want you to seize Kijin's energy once it reaches its final peak. I also want you to dispose of the nosy senshi, should they interfere." Nephrite handed his youma the energy ball. He had decided gathering energy himself was too risky, even though he had been doing so invisibly.
"Consider it done, my master. You won't be disappointed." Cameran teleported away.
Nephrite certainly hoped his youma wouldn't fail him. At this point he was getting desperate, and a bit impatient, too.
* * * * * * * *
Kijin laughed evilly as he thought about how he would carry out his idea. 'From now on I will only film beautiful teen girls and women,' he thought smirking. 'Scenic photographs are so vapid!' His idea was that he would have a contest for all the young women...a modeling contest. He dialed the number for his publicist.
"Hello, this is Kijin speaking."
"Hi there. Is anything wrong?"
"No, I am calling to make a request of you," answered the young man.
Though Kijin couldn't see it, the publicist looked surprised. "Oh? What might that be?"
"I have just thought about having a modeling contest for all of the young women two days from today, and I need you to make an ad for it in the newspaper. "
"Consider it done. Just let me know all of the details of this contest."
"I will. Thank you. Goodbye."
Kijin got to work making the flier. All of the applicants would have to pass the screening in order to advance into the actual contest. 'Stupid human girls…you will all be pawns for the great Queen Metallia!'
* * * * * * * *
By the next day after school, the news about the swimsuit modeling contest was in every newspaper in Tokyo. Usagi happened to see a poster while walking home from school. As soon as she got home, she ran into her room and skimmed it.
"A modeling contest! Oh wow!" squealed the blonde. "I am so gonna do this! I will have a chance to meet the photographer since that Rei ruined everything yesterday!"
"Usagi, I have a cellular phone for you," Luna told Usagi.
Usagi didn't seem to be paying attention. "Oh, now it seems all my dreams will come true," she said in a dreamy voice.
"I have already given Rei and Ami their cell phones," said the cat.
That got Usagi's attention. "Oh cool! Then I can call Ami and tell her about this contest!"
All Luna could do was groan at the blonde's scatterbrain.
Usagi dialed a number, and Ami answered. "Hello?"
"Hi-hi Ami-chan, this is Usagi calling!"
"Usagi! Is something wrong?" asked Ami.
"No, for once everything is going perfectly. I just wanted to tell you I've decided to become a model."
"Usagi! You shouldn't use the cellular phone for personal matters! If you will excuse me, I am working on a math problem." CLUNK.
For a moment, Usagi was in shock. "Well that was rude…but she can be that way! I will just call Rei!" She prepared to call Rei, but then remembered what the raven haired teen had said to her the previous day.
"If you're not interested in photography, don't ask for his autograph just because he's a celebrity."
"Forget it; all she will do is make fun of me like she always does!" Usagi quickly went through the sign up process and went to tell her family instead…surely they would be much more supportive…if not Shingo, definitely her mother. She left her room and went into the living room. Mrs. Tsukino was in the kitchen, cleaning up and Shingo was at the table, doing homework.
"Mom and Shingo, I have some big news!"
"What is it, darling?" asked Ikuko.
"Did you decide to get rid of that ridiculous hairstyle?" mocked Shingo.
Usagi gave her brother a dirty look. "No, but I am going to be a model," she said proudly. Boy was she wrong in her assumption that her family would support her decision. Her mother didn't say anything, and Shingo just burst into a fit of laughter.
Usagi felt like smacking the young boy upside the head. "Knock it off!" she snapped.
But Shingo just kept up with the incessant guffawing. "It's so funny! There is more to being a model than looks. Not that you have the looks, but you also have to be smart!"
The blonde glowered at Shingo. "So? It's no big deal. I will just study hard from now on."
Shingo snorted. "That would be impossible for someone as stupid as you are."
Now not only was Usagi angry, but offended as well. "Awwww, Mom! Please tell Shingo to stop it!"
"Well you can do whatever you want to, as long as you're serious about it," responded Ikuko.
Usagi felt stung that her mother was implying she was joking. "Thanks, you've made me feel a lot better!" She proceeded to wail loudly. Shingo covered his ears in pain.
All of Shingo's words began to sink in. Usagi was on the verge of giving up. She decided to pay Motoki a visit. 'I know seeing him will cheer me up…and I can use some time away from home, anyhow. Especially from Shingo.'
* * * * * * * *
Usagi felt a bit better after telling Motoki her problem, but she still looked like she was down in the dumps. Motoki didn't like seeing her that way.
"Forget about what your brother told you," said Motoki. "You cannot give up before you've started. If you want to get into modeling, just go for it! Facing challenges and dealing with them will make you stronger."
Usagi looked thoughtful and she perked up a bit. "You really believe that?"
"Motoki is right. It is always good to face a challenge, even though you'd fail anyway," said a not so pleasant voice. Mamoru.
Usagi started to feel blue again, but she was determined to not give Mamoru the satisfaction of seeing that he lowered her self-esteem once again. "Who asked for your opinion?! I was talking to Motoki, not you!"
"I'm just trying to help you, Usagi," Mamoru defended. "There is more to being a good model than a pleasant appearance."
Usagi thought that was the most intelligent thing she ever heard Mamoru say. "Oh? What else is there?"
"Beauty comes from within," stated the black haired young man. "A model also has to have a kind heart, guts as well as intelligence, and you do not have either."
"I have more of a heart than you do!" the blonde shot back.
Mamoru ignored Usagi's remark. "Any photographer who wants to take a picture of any girl because of her looks is a third rate photographer."
"Thanks, but I don't need to hear anymore of your nonsense! I will enter that contest and prove you wrong!" Usagi walked off in a huff.
"You know, Mamoru, Usagi is blossoming into a young lady," said Motoki. "Why do you treat her so poorly?"
"I really don't mean to. It's just for some reason we cannot get along. It's hard for me to explain the reason why," answered Mamoru.
* * * * * * * *
After spending some time calming down, Usagi stood outside to see if the mail would come. 'The mail does come around this time...I hope I get that acceptance letter…the contest is tomorrow.'
Just then, Shingo had come home from his best friend's house and happened to see his sister standing there. He decided to torture her some more. "What happened? Did you get rejected?" he teased.
"Get lost, Shingo or else you'll be meatloaf!"
Shingo smirked…he always liked seeing Usagi lose her temper with him. "Give it up! You're only wasting your time!"
Usagi was about to retort something nasty when all of a sudden a mailman on a motorbike stopped by. "Miss Tsukino, you have some mail," he said, placing an envelope in her hands.
"Well thank you."
"My pleasure." The mailman sped off.
Shingo wasn't done with his harassment. "It's probably junk mail."
Usagi took a look at the address. Her face lit up."Nope, it's from Kijin."
"Probably a rejection letter! Haha!" The little boy raced off before Usagi could think of saying or doing anything bad to him.
Usagi ripped open the envelope, took out the paper and unfolded it. As she proceeded to read the letter, a grin spread across her face. "Yay! I passed the first screening! "She turned around and gave a big smile. She was so happy, not even Mamoru or any haters could possibly put a damper on her spirits now.
* * * * * * * *
Later, Usagi was walking around in her room, balancing a stack of books on her head. So far, her efforts were shaky.
"A-E-I-O-U," the young teen recited. She proceeded to walk over to the other side of the room where her music stereo was.
"What in the world do you think you're doing?" asked Luna, with laughter in her voice.
"Practicing to be the perfect model. What does it look like? I'm gonna improve my singing skills now."
Luna couldn't believe what she was hearing. "You'd only make the audience leave."
All of the books tumbled from Usagi's head."See what you've caused?!" she whined. "Remain calm, Usagi. That's it…a model always keeps her cool no matter what."
"Give me a break," the feline muttered, keeling over.
"Okay, what do I wear?" pondered Usagi. "If I am to become a model, I will need a hip outfit! Oops, I almost forgot! The invitation said to bring a bathing suit. I am sure I have one good enough. Can't go wrong with them." The young girl opened the drawer she used for keeping bathing suits in and pulled out her pink one. She held it up and looked at it, and to her dismay, it was full of tiny holes. "Oh no! Moths ate it all up! Should have used the moth balls! Waaaah!"
Luna cringed at the earache inducing sound. 'Well, it is possibly for the best…she can use the weekend to study and do her homework. I have a bad feeling about this contest.'
Usagi stopped wailing. 'I can't go to the contest with my bathing suit like that. I have to do something! Time is running out.'
* * * * * * * *
(day of contest)
It was the day of the contest, and Usagi had managed to solve the bathing suit problem. She had just enough money to buy another one. She found one that was nearly identical to the swimsuit that was damaged, only it was decorated with bows. Not her first choice, but considering it was the only one she could afford, it would have to do. She put a dress over her suit and went over to the New Japan Hotel. Luna followed close behind, just in case something fishy happened.
Usagi felt butterflies in her stomach when she saw all the people who showed up. 'Wow...all of these women must be here to try and win this contest…I think I'm over my head. Maybe Mamoru and Shingo were right.'
'Stop thinking like that, Usagi,' said a voice inside the blonde's head. 'Giving up is what Shingo and Mamoru want you to do, remember?' She followed the audience into the hall.
A middle-aged gentleman walked onto the center of the stage. "Welcome ladies and gentlemen! I would now like to present to you the contest host, Kijin Shinokawa!"
Several people in the audience erupted into cheers.
Kijin walked onto the stage. "Thank you," he said to the announcer. "Congratulations to all you ladies who have made it this far! I have just a few ground rules for this contest! I want you to follow these rules exactly around. Got it?"
"Yes," a couple of ladies chorused.
* * * * * * * *
Usagi walked to the dressing room, carrying Luna. By then, her nerves had calmed a bit.
"I don't think you should go through with this contest, Usagi-chan…I have a very bad feeling you and the other young women are walking into a trap," said Luna.
"Huh? What makes you say that?" asked Usagi.
"Just a hunch. It seems unusual that the photographer would allow just any girl to enter this contest."
"That's a part of Kijin's charm…he's a creative genius."
Luna thought Usagi was missing the point as always. "That may be, but before he had no interest in photographing women."
"So? People can change their minds." 'If she's trying to discourage me from pursuing my dream, it won't work.' At that moment, Naru and Miss Haruna walked up to Usagi.
"Hello there, Usagi-chan," said Naru.
"So you've passed the screening, too, haven't you?" asked Miss Haruna a bit too cheerfully.
"Hi you two. It's nice to see some worthy competition."
"Likewise," agreed Naru. "Do you know what we should be doing now?"
"We change into our swimsuits in the dressing room and wait for our turn."
* * * * * * * *
Usagi took a look at herself in the mirror. She wasn't in a hurry to take off her dress. "It looks like this contest won't be so hard to win after all." She smiled her best smile.
Naru and Miss Haruna stepped out of their stalls, revealing their swimwear. Usagi couldn't help but feel just a little bit jealous of how stylish their suits were.
Miss Haruna studied her figure in the mirror. "I think I've gained some weight," she said. "I hope this doesn't jeopardize my chances."
Naru was surprised to see that her best friend had not changed yet. "Usagi-chan, didn't you bring your bathing suit? "
'Rats. I was hoping she wouldn't ask me that.' "Yes…it's under this dress."
"Well, aren't you going to take it off?"
"Uh-huh." The blonde reluctantly took off her dress to show Naru and gave a pained expression.
"Cheer up. It looks cute," said Naru.
"Well…if you say so." Usagi wasn't convinced.
* * * * * * * *
Luna went to keep an eye on the photographer, just in case he did something fishy. He was taking his sweet time photographing the batch of girls.
'Why is he taking so long?' thought Luna. 'I haven't got all day to waste.'
Kijin gave a wicked grin as he lowered the camera to capture the young ladies. "Give me lots of energy, girlies! That's it ! Now stay right there as I capture all five of you!" The moment he clicked on the shutter, the camera emitted a beam of dark energy and the girls disappeared into it.
"Just as I feared," said Luna. "This is a Dark Kingdom plot." Now that her suspicions were confirmed, she raced to tell Usagi about what had happened.
* * * * * * * *
Usagi was still nervous about the contest, but in a positive way. 'I can hardly wait!'
"I am so nervous," Naru confided to Miss Haruna.
"Don't worry, Naru. You'll do just fine."
Luna sprinted into the dressing room, huffing and puffing.
"What's the matter, Luna?" asked Usagi. "Why do you look so frantic?"
"There's big trouble in this "so called" competition! I saw five girls disappear in front of Kijin's camera and if you, Naru and your teacher let him take your picture, you all will suffer the same fate," answered the cat.
Usagi got the feeling her feline guardian was still trying to talk her out of the contest because she didn't think it was worthwhile. "What are you talking about?"
Luna could see getting through to Usagi was going to be as difficult as ever. "The Dark Kingdom has struck again. I have the feeling Kijin was selected to be their pawn. You need to call Rei and Ami and tell them about this."
"Kijin? No way! That's crazy talk! He is much too nice for that." Deep down the blonde knew it was a possibility, as she never got to do anything fun anymore, but she still wanted to be a model.
Luna gritted her teeth at Usagi's stubbornness. "Move it or your new bathing suit will be as damaged as your old one!"
"What?! You can't do that!"
"Usagi? Is something wrong?" asked Naru, concerned.
"No, it's nothing at all." 'Wow that was close. She would be freaked if she knew Luna could talk.'
"Okay, let's go and be supermodels!" said the teacher cheerfully. The three young ladies left the dressing room.
Usagi pressed a button on her cell phone. Once again, Ami answered. "Hi Ami-chan! It's me again. I'm over at the modeling contest with Luna and she's trying to destroy my dreams of becoming a model!"
Luna looked indignant. "That's not true at all, Ami. There is trouble at the contest. I want you to alert Rei right away!"
"Hurry up, Usagi-chan!" said Naru. She and Miss Haruna proceeded toward the exit and went by the pool area. Usagi started to follow them. She was going to make her dream come true, regardless of what Luna said.
Luna could see that she was going to have to make Usagi listen to her the hard way. She pounced and bit one of the bows off of the girl's bathing suit.
Usagi was so startled by that sudden move. "Luna!" she screamed. "You ruined my new swim suit! I will never forgive you!" She chased after the cat in order to try to get the small bow back. She ended up near the exit of the hotel. She watched as her best friend and teacher was where she should be at the moment. "Oh no…it looks like I will never be a model...I've been left behind and it's all your fault, Luna!"
Luna didn't answer Usagi's accusation. She thought it would be best to let the blonde see for herself.
Kijin pressed the shutter and this time it was Miss Haruna and her best friend who disappeared into the black ribbon of energy.
"What on earth?" asked Usagi, horrified. "It seems you were right, Luna."
Luna seemingly smiled. "I see you've finally come to your senses."
"I enjoy photographing only young beautiful girls!" said Kijin. He proceeded to laugh maniacally. Then he looked at Usagi. "You will be my next victim, stupid girl." He prepared to press the shutter to gobble her up.
"Don't even think of hitting the shutter button," said Usagi sternly.
Kijin lowered his camera ever so slightly. "Why not?"
"Because only third rate photographers would behave the way you are right now!" Usagi moved out of the way and banged her knee. "Ouch, that hurt!"
"She's only repeating what Mamoru said," muttered Luna.
For awhile Kijin looked confused. Then came the cold, hardened look on his face once again.
Luna saw this. "Usagi, you must transform!"
"Got it! Moon Prism Power, Make Up!"
The photographer was in shock over what he just saw. 'Who is this girl?'
"You should be ashamed of yourself for only being concerned about a girl's appearance when there are other things that matter, like her heart and if she fights for justice! I'm the sailor soldier of love and justice, Sailor Moon! In the name of the Moon, I'll punish you!"
"I'd like to see you try!" Kijin tried to take her photo over and over again, but she only moved out of the way. She leapt into the air and kicked the camera out of the young man's hands with a mighty karate kick. His camera went flying into the ocean.
"Hang in there," said the senshi of the moon, holding up the photographer. By then, he was unconscious.
* * * * * * * *
Nephrite realized it was time. "Cameran, unleash your fury!"
Just as Moon was laying Kijin's unconscious form down, she heard a loud noise. She turned to see what it was. A youma with one humpy shoulder and a camera weapon appeared.
'Oh great...another Dark Kingdom flunky,' thought Sailor Moon.
"I am youma Cameran," said the strange woman. "It's time to meet your doom, Moon Brat!" She emitted a beam from her camera. Moon knew it was meant for her. She got out of the way in time, but just barely. Kijin was the one who was captured.
"No!" screamed the moon senshi.
"Don't let this monster take your picture! If she does, you will be trapped within the photograph!" warned Luna.
"I don't wanna be turned into a picture!" whined Sailor Moon.
"You've no choice in the matter, girlie!" taunted the youma. She emitted more beams from her camera-weapon. Moon had to lay down in order to avoid the attacks.
"Sailor Moon, be careful!" said Luna. She proceeded to pounce toward the youma with the intent of scratching her eyes out.
"Luna, don't!" cried Moon. Forgetting about the warning for a moment, she moved forward to grab her feline guardian, but ended up disappearing along with her.
* * * * * * * *
Nephrite and Miki saw that Cameran succeeded in capturing Sailor Moon…the first youma to actually succeed.
Miki gave an evil chuckle. "That Sailor Moon is such a gullible fool, it's pathetic! Who would have thought capturing her would be this simple? Now if Cameran can just capture the other senshi when they show up to rescue her, you will have them all, and pretty soon this miserable planet will be no more!"
For the first time, Nephrite felt things were going as smoothly as he wanted them to, even though he knew enough to not celebrate yet. "I can feel this victory within my grasp," he said.
"I have that wretched Sailor Moon!" gloated Cameran. "Master Nephrite will be very proud of me!"
"Guess again, slime ball!" two female voices said in unison.
Cameran looked up sharply. Sailor Mercury and Sailor Mars appeared.
"Evil Spirit, be gone!"
Even the efforts of Mercury and Mars were not good enough to stop the youma. She destroyed Mars' anti-evil scrolls with ease and soon the two senshi disappeared. All that was left of them were snapshots.
"Now that those nosy senshi are out of my way, I can give this energy I've gathered to Master Nephrite," said Cameran, holding up the crystal ball. "I am sure he would appreciate such a present." Before she could disappear, a red rose struck her camera and knocked the crystal ball out of her hand, shattering it into pieces. Cameran turned to glare at the person who dared to meddle in her plans. Everyone she captured was now free. Also, Kijin got his energy back, but the experience was so overwhelming for him that he was still unconscious.
* * * * * * * *
Miki clenched her fist at what just happened. She felt like going there and wringing Tuxedo Kamen's neck for his interference, but knew it would only cause more trouble. She eyed the caped hero. "He looks so dorky," she commented.
"Stupid, incompetent youma," the star shitennou muttered under his breath. He mentally kicked himself for entrusting the task of gathering energy to her.
(back at the battle)
"You may have been freed from my grasp, but you won't be so lucky this time! I will destroy all of you!" Cameran aimed her weapon at the senshi and the masked man.
"Oh no! We're toast!" said Sailor Moon.
"No you're not! You can defeat her!" Tuxedo Kamen told her.
"You're right." The moon senshi remembered Luna's warning. 'If you let her take your photo, you will be turned into a picture.' "I've got it!" Thinking fast, she flipped over Cameran and her attack. The attack hit the youma.
"AAAH!" screeched the youma. "I am being turned into a picture! There goes my chance of proving myself. To hell with all of you!" She banged her fist on the glass wall.
Sailor Moon looked at her comrades. "Ready, my friends?"
The fireball and bubbles surrounded the tiara. "Noooo! Aaaaah!" the youma screamed as the attacks hit her and turned her into moon dust.
"Yea! We did it!" Moon was so happy that she started jumping up and down.
* * * * * * * *
"What's happening?" asked Nephrite. "The stars are fading." He had thought maybe Cameran could redeem herself, but apparently not. All of a sudden he heard a feminine chuckle. "Zoisite!" The last person he needed to see was the annoying weasel.
Sure enough, Zoisite projected an image himself inside the mansion. "It seems you have failed, Nephrite."
"You've nothing to gloat about…I had all three senshi captured!"
"That may be, but they were freed from your minion's captivity. I am sure Beryl will be very pleased with your performance."
"What about you? Have you come close to locating the ginzuishou?"
The younger shitennou flinched…he actually hadn't found the crystal yet, nor was he close to finding it.
"You should fulfill your own duties instead of worrying about my affairs," said Nephrite. "There are countless people on this planet who are potential energy targets! Countless!"
Zoisite frowned deeply and disappeared.
Nephrite knew he would have to go back to what he was doing before—invisibly capturing the energy. He would just have to take the risk of encountering the senshi. 'It won't matter. Those irritating senshi are no match for my superior abilities.'
* * * * * * * *
return to Index / go to Chapter 9
The Nephrite and Naru Treasury