Slow Process to Redemption
by Keren Olivero
* * * * * * * *
Miki went to find Ruby and Yukari. She found them in the den finishing off a science fiction movie. She cleared her throat loudly.
Ruby turned to face Miki, but Yukari was so startled she nearly fell off the couch. Ruby gave her a funny look.
"Easy, Yukari, it's just Miki," said the cherry haired youma. "No need to be alarmed."
"What a relief." Yukari placed both hands across her chest to calm her heartbeat. "So what's up? I take it you have something important to tell us?"
"How right you are, sister."
"What is it?" asked Ruby.
"Master Nephrite is about to make another plan to destroy that miserable senshi Sailor Moon...and he said we can help with this one," said Miki.
Yukari's eyes brightened. "Oh really? That's wonderful."
Ruby was just as excited about this as Yukari was, but she opted to hide it."I see. So is he in the planetarium?" she asked.
Miki nodded. "He is waiting for us. It is not wise to keep him waiting."
Yukari stood up. "You're right. Let's go. "She and Ruby followed Miki to the planetarium. Sure enough, Nephrite was waiting for them.
The henchwomen each bowed respectfully.
"I thank you, Master Nephrite for allowing us to assist you this time," said Yukari.
Nephrite gave her a half-smile. "You're more than welcome."
"I hope you know whatever it is you have planned for Sailor Moon, we'll be right behind you," added Ruby. 'I've been looking forward to doing this for a long while.'
"Good." Secretly he enjoyed having youma who were so enthusiastic about assisting him before he even gave them their tasks, and were always taking initiative. "Stars know everything. Please, I need your guidance now more than ever. Show me Sailor Moon's greatest weakness so I can be rid of her."
"I cannot place my finger on it, but I think I have an idea of who Sailor Moon's weakness is," Yukari whispered to Miki, not wanting to disturb Nephrite's meditation.
"Oh really? Well I know who it is," Miki whispered back.
"I thought you might. We just have to see if we're right," Yukari whispered.
The stars responded by revealing an image of the aftermath of the senshi's battle with Petasos.
"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.
An idea of how to get rid of Sailor Moon came to Nephrite instantly. "How appropriate, Tuxedo Kamen!" The star shitennou gave a diabolical laugh.
"So I was right," said Yukari, looking pleased with herself.
"Why am I not surprised?" Ruby commented, twirling one of her cherry coloured curls around her finger.
Hearing Nephrite's reaction to Sailor Moon's love for the masked man, Miki was able to piece her master's plan together. "I know! You're going to disguise yourself as Tuxedo Kamen and lure her into your trap. Am I right, sir?"
Nephrite was about to respond, but he sensed the presence of someone unwelcome in his mansion. Zoisite. He wondered what the sakura king wanted this time.
"If you'll excuse me Nephrite, Queen Beryl wants to see you," said the tawny haired shitennou. He sounded almost cautious to pass that information on, yet gleeful.
Ruby felt a sudden urge to be sick. 'Humph. He isn't fooling anyone with his pretend politeness.'
Nephrite noted the displeased expressions on the young women's faces, at being so rudely interrupted. But he had every intention of going to see Beryl since he had to deliver to her the energy he just gathered. 'After this meeting we shall continue with our planning,' he mentally told his henchwomen.
'All right, Master Nephrite,' Miki mentally answered.
Nephrite teleported to Beryl's throne room. Zoisite followed, too, for he was eager to hear what Beryl had to say to the older shitennou.
* * * * * * * *
Queen Beryl took the energy ball from Nephrite and gave him the stern expression she always wore when she was at least mildly displeased with her henchmen.
Nephrite could sense the queen's displeasure and his heart started to beat rapidly at the thought that he might really be in for an earful this time. 'I'm not too worried. I have the perfect scheme this time.'
"I'm disappointed in you, Nephrite! Why is it that you always succeed in capturing energy but not defeating the senshi?! Explain yourself!" the evil queen barked.
Nephrite could hear Zoisite snickering behind him. He wanted to turn around to glare at the blonde shitennou, but Beryl was waiting for an answer. "The universe wasn't created in a day," the chestnut haired young man answered.
Beryl thought Nephrite was being a smart aleck, which she refused to tolerate. "I don't want to hear any pathetic excuses! You're becoming like that useless buffoon, Jadeite! Now tell me your new plan for Sailor Moon or else you'll be cast into Eternal Sleep just like your predecessor!"
It was all Nephrite could do not to start trembling—no way was he going to give Zoisite the satisfaction of seeing he was terrified at the thought of facing Jadeite's punishment.
"That's a very terrifying punishment. Wouldn't you agree, my dear Nephrite?" asked Zoisite. "I could help you execute this plan, whatever it is."
'How sickening,' thought Nephrite. "Stay out of this, Zoisite! I'm warning you, I'm a far more superior general to you! I have a foolproof solution for disposing of Sailor Moon!"
Zoisite chuckled softly. "I've heard that same old thing from Jadeite, but as we both know he was all talk. Show me that you can pull your scheme off much better."
Nephrite ignored the sakura king and turned to face Beryl. "Your majesty, I intend to dispose of Sailor Moon by pretending to be Tuxedo Kamen. He is her greatest weakness." The thought of dressing and acting the part of one of his greatest enemies made him feel physically ill. 'However, if I can slay that annoying senshi, it would be well worth the humiliation.'
Beryl started to blush. "Mmm, he is handsome," she commented. 'I wouldn't mind having him for my soulmate.'
"Her foolish love will blind her to danger!" vowed Nephrite, giving a cruel laugh.
"Well well, Nephrite, this scheme of yours is interesting," said the wicked queen. "Do your best to succeed."
"I can assure you that you won't be disappointed." Nephrite disappeared from the throne room to make plans with his most trusted henchwomen.
* * * * * * * *
Usagi stopped by the mailbox on her way home from school. She pulled out an envelope that was sealed with a heart. 'What's this? A love note?' The blonde skimmed the info on the envelope regarding the addressee. She got a very pleasant surprise. 'I can't believe it's addressed to me! It has no return address. Who could it be from?' The young girl dashed home to read it.
By the time Usagi got to her bedroom, she was out of breath. She sat cross-legged on her bed. Luna gave her an amused look.
"What's the big rush? What is it you've got there?" asked the feline guardian.
"Why, it's a love letter!" squealed the young teen.
Luna wasn't expecting to hear that. Who would send a love letter to the goofball? She didn't think it was Umino, as a letter from him wouldn't make Usagi this ecstatic. "From whom?"
"I don't know yet." 'That reminds me, I had better find out.' The blonde girl ripped open the envelope and took out a folded piece of paper. She slowly unfolded the paper and read it out loud.
Note: It has been too long since we have last seen each other, my love. I've missed you very much. Come to the shopping center at nine on Friday night. I must see you again.
Usagi started jumping up and down and kissing the love letter all over. She had never been so happy in her life. 'It seems like my dreams are coming true! He really does love me!'
Luna found the letter to be incredulous, too good to be true. "How would he know you're Sailor Moon?"
Usagi gave her guardian a funny look. "It's fate! He now knows he can't escape it," she quipped, still very giddy.
"Why would he be sending love notes all of a sudden?" pondered the black cat.
"Well because he realized how strong his feelings are for me and he is just romantic that way. Uh-oh, Rei is gonna be insanely jealous!" The blonde gave a small smirk and kept dancing her happy dance.
Luna groaned. "Yeah right. I do not think you're listening to yourself at all. Just because he has joined forces with you in the battle against the Dark Kingdom, doesn't make him Prince Charming." Luna became frustrated when she saw the blonde was paying no attention. "Are you listening to me?"
Usagi barely heard what Luna was telling her. Right now nothing could steal her joy. "I've got a date with Tuxedo Kamen-sama!" she said in a sing song voice.
* * * * * * * *
The next day at school, Tuxedo Kamen's love letters were all the girls could talk about. Usagi didn't join in the conversation. She looked depressed when she realized every girl was given a love letter.
"I wonder what it's for, though," said Naru. "Mine just says I should meet this guy at the shopping center."
"Same here," said a few other girls.
Naru noticed Usagi was unusually quiet, which was very unlike her. "Usagi, what's the matter? Why aren't you saying anything?"
'Oh no. I can't tell her the real reason why I'm upset.' "I just want to be left alone now." 'That's a safe answer. I'm not lying or anything.'
"Oh. Ok." Naru turned to face the other girls. "Do you know who it could be?"
"No. No idea."
Naru's mind switched to Nephrite's disguise, to the time she met him. 'Oh, I hope it's that gorgeous guy, Masato Sanjouin. He's so nice!' She still remembered the feeling she got when he shook her hand—hot and cold. She felt a bit embarrassed for being so bold with him but at the same time didn't regret it…she did what she always wanted to do.
All of a sudden, Ms. Haruna entered the classroom. Everyone hurried to their seats.
"Good morning everyone," said Ms. Haruna with a big smile. "Before I begin the lesson, there is some housekeeping I need to take care of. How many of you girls received Tuxedo Kamen invites for tomorrow night?"
Every girl except Usagi raised her hand. The blonde just sat there, looking glum as ever. She tried her best to drown out everything that was said.
"Well disregard those letters and stay home and study. The shopping center is not a safe place to be at night!" said the teacher.
"Oh man!" a few girls groaned.
Ms. Haruna ignored the protests. "All right, let's get started!" 'Who does Tuxedo Kamen think he is not giving me a letter? I need love too, you know!'
* * * * * * * *
Luna had been standing outside Usagi's classroom listening to the conversation between the students, and could hardly believe her ears. 'I knew it was too good to be true. Something seems fishy about this plan. It could be another Dark Kingdom trap.' She ran over to Ami's apartment.
Ami was standing on her basketball court, dressed in a sports outfit and holding a basketball in her hands. She smiled when she saw Luna. "Hi there, Luna. Is anything wrong?"
"I am deeply concerned," answered the cat. "You received one of the love letters, have you not?"
"Yes I did."
"I find it to be strange," continued Luna. "Why would Tuxedo Kamen invite every girl in school? I suspect this is a plot of the Dark Kingdom."
"I agree," said Ami. "We should ask Rei if she has had any visions. I meant to visit her anyway. She has come down with a terrible cold."
"Oh dear…" 'And this could be a tough battle, too. Rei needs to be at full strength.' "You speak to Rei and I will try to convince Usagi of this…you know how stubborn she can be."
* * * * * * * *
Meanwhile, Mamoru was chilling out at the arcade with Motoki. He was trying to win his favorite plushie-the Tuxedo Kamen one. It looked like he was going to succeed for once, but just like the previous times he failed.
Motoki found Mamoru's determination to be surprising. "Mamoru? Why is it that you only try for that one?"
The raven haired young man shrugged his shoulders. "He reminds me of someone I wish I was more like."
"Huh? You mean you secretly wish to be a super hero?" Motoki never thought Mamoru would insinuate anything like that.
Just then, Usagi slowly entered the arcade, looking forlorn. It was becoming hard to hold in her tears. 'Oh great. Mamoru is here. Well, no matter. I am sure Motoki will make me feel better. He always does.'
Motoki looked up, and smiled when he saw Usagi. "Hi there, Usagi."
"Hi," the blonde girl answered a bit glumly.
Motoki noted Usagi's sad expression. "What's the matter? Why do you look so bummed out?"
Before Usagi could answer, Mamoru interrupted, "I know! She didn't get one of the love letters Tuxedo Kamen sent!"
"I did too!" Usagi glared at the raven haired young man. "It's just that I wasn't the only one who got a letter. He invited all the girls at school when I thought he cared for meeee!" Usagi burst into tears and proceeded to wail loudly.
Mamoru cringed at the sound. "Usagi, go easy on my ears, will ya!"
* * * * * * * *
Ami went over to the Hikawa shrine to visit Rei. She had put together a fruit basket. She walked up the steps and knocked on the door.
"Yes?" called an elderly male's voice.
"This is Ami Mizuno. I have come to see Rei."
"Yes, of course. Just a moment." Mr. Hino took awhile to come to the door. Ami felt a bit restless, and proceeded to tap her foot.
Soon the door opened. "Hello, my dear," the elderly man greeted warmly.
Ami was reminded of her manners. "Hello, sir."
"Come right in."
Ami entered the shrine. "Thank you, sir."
"Would you like something to eat? Something to drink?"
"No thank you."
Grandpa Hino was a little disappointed as he wanted to know what she thought of his Japanese sweet cakes, but he dared not show it. "All right. Go on up to Rei's room."
"Thank you again." The senshi of ice walked through the halls, smiling at how tranquil and serene the Hino home really was. She knocked on Rei's room door.
"Come in," said a weak, hoarse voice.
Ami entered Rei's room and sat on a stool by the raven haired girl's bed. "Hi there, Rei. I have brought you something."
"Oh, thank you. Just rest it on my nightstand." Cough.
Ami did as Rei asked. She spotted an envelope on the nightstand—a love letter.
"Is anything wrong?" Rei asked. "You seem worried."
"All of the girls at school have received letters that were signed, Tuxedo Kamen, and I think something is fishy about it," explained Ami. "Have you had any visions about who it could be?"
"I agree it is fishy. It could be a work of the Dark Kingdom, but I can't be too positive right now. This cold has made me so tired that I cannot think." The senshi of fire coughed loudly. "I feel so terrible."
'Oh no...this doesn't look good...the senshi must work together, but Rei cannot do it in her condition.' The cerulean haired girl rested her hand on Rei's forehead. It was very hot. "Oh you poor girl. Don't worry about a thing. Luna and I will take care of everything. You just get your rest."
* * * * * * * *
Nephrite was at the mall, making preparations for his scheme that evening. The urge to go on another shopping spree was so tempting. 'Nonsense. There is work to be done.' He felt so proud of himself for finding out the weakness of his greatest enemy. 'I have invited every girl from all of the schools in the Juuban district. I know one of them is Sailor Moon.'
Nephrite was about to go and buy the Tuxedo Kamen costume when he heard footsteps. It was Naru.
"Masato-san, hi!" said Naru brightly. "Do you remember me?"
Nephrite walked a bit closer to the redhead. 'How can I forget the mortal girl who played with my hair,' was what he was tempted to reply, but he knew better. "Yes, I do. You were the ball girl in last week's tournament. And your name is Naru Osaka. Am I right?"
Naru smiled at the fact that her new ideal soulmate remembered her, and was as nice as he was the first time. "Exactly right. Anyway, there is something I have come to ask you."
"What is it?" asked the chestnut haired shitennou.
"Did you happen to send a bunch of letters that were signed Tuxedo Kamen?"
Nephrite feigned a confused look. "Huh? What gives you that idea?"
Naru gave an embarrassed look. "Well, it's just that there was no return address on it and I figured for some reason you wouldn't want anyone to know."
'I am feeling a strong presence from this girl. She possesses a great strength. She could be Sailor Moon trying to trap me. I will find out very soon.'
The young teen looked sheepish. "Oh. Please forgive me for wasting your time with such a silly question." She hoped Nephrite wouldn't hate her.
Nephrite smiled at Naru kindly, and placed a hand on her shoulder, which made her skin tingle. "There is no need to apologize. You're the one girl I would love to spend my evening with. You are very beautiful inside and out. I am looking forward to seeing you tonight. Excuse me." He walked away.
Naru couldn't help but blush at Nephrite's flattery. 'Oh he is so beautiful. However the shopping center isn't exactly the most romantic spot for a date. I would have preferred to go out to dinner to him.' All she could think about was Nephrite. 'I think I will come early…that way I'll have some time alone with him.'
* * * * * * * *
Nephrite was as ready as he could ever be to execute his plan. He examined himself in the mirror, to see how close he was to pulling of the Tuxedo Kamen look.
'Hmm. Excellent, if I say so myself. Sailor Moon, your days as a senshi will be over forever!' The fact that he was actually in the Tuxedo Kamen costume made him feel nauseated. 'No matter. I will dispose of the moronic costume after this.'
Just then, Miki appeared in Nephrite's bedroom to see how he was coming along. She tried hard not to laugh at her master being in the costume she believed to be dorky. 'Have to admit though; Master Nephrite would make an excellent Tuxedo Kamen.' However she knew it was part of the job. "Well Master Nephrite you've nearly pulled off the Tuxedo Kamen get-up. However, there is one thing you may want to consider."
Nephrite had an idea of what she was referring to, but asked, "What is that?"
"You might want to hide your hair," suggested the brunette youma.
Nephrite had a feeling she would say that. 'She is correct...however; Sailor Moon is so brainless I doubt she will see through my trap.' Before he could respond, his henchwoman offered, "Here. I'll do it for you."
Miki took off Nephrite's top hat, got his hairbrush and proceeded to brush his hair. He stayed still as she wound his hair into a small bun, with little difficulty. She placed the top hat back on top of his head.
The chestnut haired shitennou studied himself in the mirror. 'Superb job, Miki. Not that I would have to stay this way for very long.'
All of a sudden Yukari and Ruby appeared, and almost didn't recognize their master, but knew it was him by his build and height. "Well well, sir, don't you look magnificent."
Nephrite gave a small smile. "You have Miki to thank for that," he responded. Secretly he loved the compliment.
"Is that right?" Yukari turned to face her twin. "You're good at this."
Miki blushed. "It was nothing. All I did was help make it difficult for the moon twit to know who he is. We can't have her foiling this master plan, now can we?"
"Exactly right," said Ruby. "Not that it matters. We know how to have fun with those viruses if we must."
"I am glad you are prepared," said Nephrite. "Let's go."
"You've got it, sir," said Yukari. She and the other henchwomen teleported to the shopping centre with Nephrite.
"I want you girls to seal all of the exits," Nephrite told his henchwomen. 'Sailor Moon will not escape alive.'
"Consider it done, my master," said Ruby. She and the other women went to carry off their master's orders.
At approximately fifteen minutes to eight, Naru showed up at the shopping centre. She looked around the mall. 'Strange. It's so dark here. If Masato-san is setting up for the date, then wouldn't he be here? I was hoping to spend some time alone with him.' "Hello? Is anyone here? It's me, Naru-chan! Anyone here?"
A light turned on and a familiar deep voice answered," I'm here."
The teen girl looked up and saw Nephrite standing on the escalator. She let out a sigh of relief. 'I thought I was going to have to leave before the date even began. Mom wouldn't like the idea of me being here in the dark this late at night.'
Nephrite could feel Naru's strength from all the way on top of the escalator. 'Perfect. It won't be too long before I capture Sailor Moon now,' he thought. 'If she thinks she can trap me, she's a fool.' "You came early."
"I hope it's all right with you," said Naru. "I was looking forward to seeing you again."
"Is anybody with you?" asked Nephrite.
"No. I came alone. I didn't want anyone to hear what I have to tell you."
"What is it you have to tell me?"
"I love you very much," answered the red-head.
'So much candor...she may not be Sailor Moon. Sailor Moon would never utter such words to me. But then again, she could be trying to seduce me to increase her chances of victory, and I am not going to allow that.' The star shitennou leapt from the top of the escalator in front of Naru. It was done so suddenly that her heart nearly stopped with fright. "You're a fool if you think you can deceive me!"
'What on earth? What have I done to make him so vexed?' thought Naru. She backed away from the dark general and started quivering and whimpering with fear. It was too late. He came towards her and touched the center of her chest.
"Go ahead! Admit that you're Sailor Moon!" barked Nephrite.
"What do you mean? I am just a simple girl!" answered the terrified girl. 'This scary guy is such a stranger!'
"Don't lie to me!" growled Nephrite. "I know you're Sailor Moon!"
"I'm being honest! I've no reason to lie to you!" the redhead protested.
Nephrite's hard expression softened a smidge. "I feel a strong force coming from you that is directed at me."
"It's my love for you," Naru explained weakly. By this point her energy had peaked and was nearly overflowing.
Nephrite pressed on the young teen's chest even harder, which allowed the love energy to flow freely. He collected it into the energy ball Ruby gave to him. "Powerful, whatever it is."
"I feel weak," muttered Naru. She collapsed, and Nephrite caught her, continuing to let the energy flow.
At that moment Usagi arrived, and saw Nephrite's hand resting against her best friend's back whilst he collected her energy. She was filled with horror. "No, Naru-chan! " She took a good look at the perpetrator. "Hang on, something isn't right here. The real Tuxedo Kamen would never stoop this low. Luna is right! The Dark Kingdom is behind this! That guy is ancient history!" She went some place where Nephrite wouldn't be able to see her. "Moon Prism Power, Make Up!"
* * * * * * * *
Simultaneously, Mamoru was leaving Café Amigo and all of a sudden, he felt a sharp pain in his head. Clutching at his head, he dropped to his knees and transformed into Tuxedo Kamen.
Nephrite was satisfied with the energy he collected from Naru. He was holding her unconscious form in his arms. He took a look at her face. He was nearly moved by how innocent, naïve and sweet she seemed and the fact that even in a comatose state, she was beautiful. If by some misfortune he failed, surely the girl's love energy would be enough for him to receive grace from his queen once again. 'Perhaps Naru-san would also make an excellent tool. However, if I intend to use her, I will need her alive and unharmed.'
All of a sudden Ruby appeared before him. "Master Nephrite, I have sealed the exits as you ordered. Is there anything else you need me to do?"
"Yes. Please take this girl to the hospital. I don't care to endure a lecture from those annoying senshi," answered the star shitennou, handing Naru's unconscious body to Ruby.
"I understand." The red head youma felt uneasy at the thought of touching a human, but knew enough not to complain. 'Wow. This girl is light as a feather. Either that or I'm just a strong woman.' She teleported away.
"Hey, get Naru-chan back here now, you crudball!" yelled a young girl's voice.
"Show yourself!" ordered Nephrite, half tickled at the childish name-calling, half annoyed at the rude interruption. 'On the other hand, it saves me the trouble of waiting for her to show up.'
The teen girl revealed herself. "Shame on you for toying with the emotions of young girls! I am the sailor senshi of love and justice, Sailor Moon! In the name of the moon, I'll punish you!"
"Don't make me laugh!" scoffed Nephrite. "You don't have what it takes to defeat me."
"That's what you think!" She ran towards him with lightning speed and gave a karate kick, making the top hat come off.
Nephrite's hair bun Miki had made came undone and his hair fell over his shoulders, past his mid-back. He levitated and yanked off the Tuxedo Kamen costume, revealing the Dark Kingdom uniform.
'He looks creepy but I will not be frightened by our enemy this time,' thought the young heroine. "Take off the mask and show me your face!"
'You imbecile...you should be careful what you ask for.' "I am Nephrite, a warrior of the Dark Kingdom! I will punish you for your gullibility! This shopping centre will be your burial ground!" taunted the chestnut haired shitennou, taking off the mask.
"Oooh. I'm shaking," retorted Sailor Moon.
"You should be. Very soon you will feel the wrath of the power of the stars!" Nephrite created illusions of himself. "Star Regulus, multiply my energy! I call forth Leo the Lion!" The star shitennou could feel the power coursing through his veins. He felt one hundred times stronger. The group of stars that formed Leo's constellation connected, thus bringing the creature to life. It was teal with a pale pink mane.
'Oh please. I will change this lion into a kitty cat!' thought the senshi of the moon. But then her smugness faltered when the lion pounced towards her.
"Sailor Moon, you will die!" taunted Nephrite.
The moon senshi proceeded to run, but Leo was even faster. It extended its claws, intending to rip her to shreds. A red rose hit the lion, knocking him back.
"Tuxedo Kamen!" growled Nephrite. 'This buffoon will pay dearly for interrupting my scheme. Well no matter. If I crush them both, it will be icing on the cake for Beryl.'
The real masked hero glared at Nephrite. "Have you sent love letters to Sailor Moon in my name to ensnare her? You'll pay for that!"
Sailor Moon gave a squeal of happiness. "You tell him! I'm so happy to see you! I thought I was gonna be lunch meat!"
'Stupid fool, you still will be,' thought Nephrite, sneering at Moon.
"Well you won't be as long as I'm around," Tuxedo Kamen reassured her. "You should escape while I deal with the beast."
"Okay!" Sailor Moon sped off.
Nephrite gave an evil laugh. "Fool! You're not going anywhere! Leo, after her!"
The teal colored lion lunged toward the heroine, pinning her down. He proceeded to slash her arms and legs with his teeth and claws. Moon shrieked in pain as she saw blood spouting.
"Sailor Moon!" cried out Tuxedo Kamen. He hurried to save her, but Miki appeared in front of him.
"Going somewhere?" asked the brunette youma.
"Who are you?" the masked man demanded to know.
"I am someone who's about to become your worst nightmare!" responded Miki, smirking. "You've foiled my master's plan for the last time!"
'Dagnabbit!' thought Tuxedo Kamen. 'I've got to save Sailor Moon, but now I'm tied up!' "Listen here, lady, I don't have time to play any games. Get out of my way or else you will regret it!"
"Empty threats will get you nowhere!" said Yukari as she appeared. She took a look at Tuxedo Kamen, and was unimpressed by what she saw. 'So this is the one who has had to save these sailor brats over and over again? He doesn't look so tough to me. Crushing him will be simple.'
"That's right!" Ruby agreed as she reappeared. "If you want to save your little friend, you're gonna have to get past us!"
Tuxedo Kamen saw that he had no choice in the matter, since the odds were not even, to say the least. "Bring it on!" he challenged, taking out his cane.
"You will regret those words, you dork," said Miki. She thrust out her arms and emitted lightning bolts. Ruby shot a barrage of crystal shards, and Yukari launched a cyclone.
Tuxedo evaded the attacks by twirling his cane around, and counterattacked with a hail of rose petals. The onslaught stunned them for a few seconds.
"You'll pay for that!" Miki conjured her lightning staff.
"Not likely!" The masked man threw a rose. It hit her hand like a dart, scratching it.
"Ahh, my hand!" Miki clutched her hand in pain, which was starting to bleed.
"Miki!" Yukari and Ruby cried out in unison.
'That fool will pay for wounding my sister!' thought Yukari, clenching her fists.
'Don't worry, Miki. I'll get him for this,' thought Ruby. She emitted another barrage of crystal shards. Tuxedo Kamen used his cape to shield himself from the assault, but one of the shards nicked him on the shoulder.
"You won't get away with this!" Ignoring the throbbing feeling, Miki ran towards Tuxedo Kamen with blinding speed, wielding her staff. The masked man blocked it with his cane and proceeded to push it back. His strength was impressive considering his weapon, but Miki proved stronger when she knocked the cane out of his hand. He was so taken off guard that he stumbled.
"Gotcha, Mr. Dorky-poo," gloated Miki.
"Way to go, sister!" cheered Yukari.
Nephrite saw this and laughed. It was so rewarding that his scheme was going remotely successful for once. He glanced over at Sailor Moon. By this time she was so bloodied he didn't expect her to survive. Satisfied, he made Leo disappear.
Tuxedo Kamen got up and checked up on Sailor Moon. This time, he wasn't interrupted by any of Nephrite's henchwomen. When he saw the young heroine, his heart leapt into his stomach. 'Oh no. That beast really did a number on her. I have to get her to a doctor...that is, if she is still alive.' He ran over to the young girl and picked up her bloodied form.
Fortunately, there was a nearby elevator. Tuxedo Kamen raced to it, pushed a button and went inside.
"Hahaha, right where I want them!" laughed Nephrite. He projected his voice over the elevator's speaker. "You've fallen into my trap once again!"
"And just what do you mean by that, Nephrite?" asked Tuxedo Kamen.
"When the elevator reaches the top floor, it will fall, making you and Sailor Moon as flat as pancakes!"
'If this psychopath thinks I'm going to let him get away with this, he's nuts!' thought the masked man.
Sailor Moon started moaning, for the elevator ride was too much for her wounds. Nephrite turned off the sound. His henchwomen stood next to him and watched as the elevator went to the top floor. Once the elevator reached the final floor, it hit the ground extremely hard, literally making it useless.
"I did it!" declared Nephrite. He gave an evil laugh at what he thought he had accomplished.
"That you did," said Miki. She was so proud of her master that she could almost give him a big hug, but opted to show professionalism.
"This calls for a victory celebration," said Yukari.
"I'll drink to that!" said Ruby.
"Not to worry, we will have one," the star shitennou assured his youma trio.
* * * * * * * *
Nephrite appeared in Beryl's throne room as she ordered. He handed her the crystal ball that contained the love energy he took from Naru. The queen took it from him, but she still didn't look very happy.
'I destroyed Sailor Moon like she ordered…what else does she wish for?' the chestnut haired young man wondered.
"Nephrite, you've made a valiant effort to execute your plan successfully. However, it has failed again, for by some miracle, Sailor Moon has managed to survive her mortal wounds."
Nephrite mentally swore. 'How is it that she has managed to evade my trap?'
"Another wasted scheme," mocked Zoisite. "All you have to show for it is that weakling human's energy. However, it will not be enough to save you from Eternal Sleep this time." He was filled with glee; he would finally get the post as general he felt he deserved.
Nephrite gave an angry growl. His first instinct was to blast Zoisite into dust to silence him forever, but he knew showing he was that angry would only give the annoying sakura the satisfaction. 'However, he does have a point.' He held back a shudder at the worst punishment ever.
Beryl felt like she should punish Nephrite, but instead gave him her small deadly smile. "Yes, but look how powerful those human emotions can be. In spite of the fact that Nephrite's plan was only partially successful, he has managed to give our great leader a powerful boost. Therefore, I will not punish him."
The tawny haired king's smirk wavered. "My queen, surely you can't be serious! You said you would punish him if he failed, and he just did!"
"Maybe I should punish you Zoisite for worrying about Nephrite's business instead of finding the ginzuishou. IF YOU EVER QUESTION MY DECISION AGAIN, YOU'LL FACE THE SAME FATE AS JADEITE! Do I make myself clear?!" Beryl exploded.
Zoisite squirmed at his queen's anger. "Yes," he answered, bowing respectfully. Nephrite held back a laugh.
* * * * * * * *
Nephrite pondered the evening's events and realized his actions towards Naru would most likely make her become suspicious of him. 'That is a risk I cannot afford to take if I want her assistance. There is only one thing left to do.' He summoned an image of the fourteen year old.
"Oh mighty stars…help me to erase any memory of this incident from my latest energy victim. If I am to use her for any future schemes, I must retain her trust in me. I suppose I should be grateful to her. However, she is a fool to care for someone like me!" The star shitennou gave a menacing laugh.
* * * * * * * *
return to Index / go to Chapter 12
The Nephrite and Naru Treasury