Comments, criticism, flames, etc. welcomed (and, in fact, requested) at Ultrace@aol.com.
A Sailor Moon fanfic by Mike Chenoweth [Ultrace@aol.com]
Part 5: Reflective Journeys
* * * * * * * *
It was not a pleasant trip for any of them. None of the three had ever traveled in time before, so they were completely unprepared for the flurry of experiences that assaulted them. Rini's Time Key was made with the intent of transporting only Rini, which didn't make things any easier.
Mina's trip, while not difficult to understand, was strange nonetheless.
She was sitting in Serena's room, looking at herself in the mirror. Serena was standing behind her with a comb in her hand.
"I can't believe I let you talk me into this," Mina told her.
"Oh, come on!" Serena said. "It's not that bad. You said maybe it was time for a new look."
"I was talking about you..."
`This didn't happen. This isn't happening. A dream?' Mina wondered.
"Yeah, but you never do anything new with your hair, either," Serena said.
"Serena, this isn't new. It's YOUR old hairstyle. If you can call it a style..."
"Hey, I heard that." Serena was rummaging around in one of her drawers.
"No, I think I'll stick with what works for me," Mina said. She started to undo the meatballs on her head.
"Aha!" Serena said, having found what she wanted. "Check this out."
Mina turned her head. "Check what out?"
The answer was a click and flash of light. "Perfect!" Serena yelled, taking the polaroid from her camera. "Wait until the others see this!"
"Why you--" Mina started, walking towards Serena. "Give me that picture!"
"Nuh-uh," Serena told her, backing towards the door.
Mina rushed her. Serena turned around to make a run for it, forgetting that she'd closed the door. Mina tackled her.
After a minute of grappling, Mina had her hands on the picture and ran over to the mirror at the other side of the room, leaving Serena on the floor. She prepared to rip up the picture. "Huh?"
The picture wasn't of her. It was someone else, with brown hair and a ponytail. "Cute, Serena. Now how about giving me the real picture?"
Her eye caught the mirror. She froze.
The picture WAS of her. She was someone else completely.
She turned back to Serena, but Serena wasn't there. Malachite was now standing behind Mina, arm outstretched.
"Die," he said.
Mina went flying through the window and landed one story below on the lawn, flat on her back. She was gasping for the air that had been knocked out of her, but her lungs wouldn't function. It was only a few seconds before she passed out.
* * * * * * * *
Amy's trip was the most enlightening.
She stepped into the column of light only to be right back in the coffee shop with Setsuna and Mina, who was herself walking into the column.
Amy could feel her head turn to Setsuna, her eyes focus on the face. Her mouth opened and words came out. She had no control over any of it. It was like watching a movie where she was the character performing.
"There's something you're not telling us, isn't there?" she asked.
"Yes," Setsuna told her. "There is more at stake than the lives of the Sailor Scouts. You are familiar with the Stability of Time?"
Not very. Amy had read a couple of articles on the idea, but it was mainly a topic of philosophy, and not very interesting, since it was impossible to prove.
"That's just a theory," she said.
Setsuna shook her head. "Time is an element that binds together all that is. It can be destroyed and broken down like anything else. And that is what is happening."
A very simplistic synopsis. Amy now realized they were going back to preserve Time. There was only one effect that, in theory, could corrupt it.
"A time-paradox? That's what this is about?"
Setsuna half-nodded. "Serena and Darian are Rini's parents, but she will not be born for a thousand years. If Serena dies before that, Rini will never exist..."
"...and she'll never be able to come back and cause Serena's death by using the Time Key," Amy finished.
The fact that Rini was Serena's daughter came as a surprise to her, but it made sense. Amy had noticed several similiar personality traits between the two of them, along with Rini's inherent fondness of Darian.
"That is the paradox. Time has already begun to unravel itself. Things are changing that have nothing to do with Neflyte's death. If this continues, everything in existence will be destroyed--or rather, will never have existed."
"Why didn't you tell us this before?"
"As I said already, I have known all of you in the future and know what you are capable of. Of all the Scouts, you are the only one who can fully comprehend the situation. Your mind works on a higher level than theirs--I knew as much when you helped me to fashion the Time Key. Do you think that Mina--or Serena--could contemplate the links between Time and the Universe? Even Rei, whose psychic powers give her a sense that few others can perceive, cannot grasp it. They might be able to realize the end result of all this, but belief requires understanding.
"You are the only one I could depend on if the others fail--if they cannot do what must be done when the time comes."
"You don't sound very confident," Amy said.
Setsuna gave the same stern look that she had given Serena earlier. "Have you ever had to destroy someone not working for the Negaverse?" she asked. Amy's expression was answer enough--she hadn't. "I know this will be hard on all three of you. But make no mistake, I have confidence that between you, you can succeed."
Amy just looked at her.
"The others are waiting," Setsuna said, falling back into the chair, but trying to make it look like she had intended to.
"Are you okay?" Amy asked.
"No. In order for you three to go back, the last of my energy had to go into the Key. I can no longer resist the call of Time, but as long as the Key has energy, you should be protected from the chaos that is about to become reality... Hopefully for long enough."
Almost speaking to herself, she added, "I won't get to talk with Rini again, after all. But she won't remember..."
Setsuna slowly faded away. Amy found it impossible to do anything but watch.
With a heavy burden suddenly on her shoulders, she stepped through the column and into the darkness.
* * * * * * * *
Rei's trip was the most difficult. Wearing the Time Key, she bore more of the effects than did the other two.
Her first coherent experience was a slap that made her ears ring and almost knocked her over, probably because she wasn't expecting it at all. She found herself staring in shock at the snow on the ground.
`Snow?' She wondered. She was aware of being very cold.
Amy was standing on one side of her, and Mina on the other.
"I'm sorry," Amy said, with both sincerity and surprise. "But understand--we can't stop now, no matter how bad it might be."
Rei's eyes were drawn to a jagged sculpture of ice rising up out of the ground ahead of them. There was something hanging from it: Serena's body.
Now she remembered. The first attack from the youma had taken them all by surprise. Rei and Mina hadn't been able to hold Serena back from the illusion of Tuxedo Mask. When the illusion had been revealed, Sailor Moon used her tiara against the apparent leader of the youma. It worked, but the explosion had killed her in the process.
"It's over... We failed," Rei said, hardly aware that she was even talking.
"You hypocrite!" Mina snapped. "You wouldn't let her give up when Darian was taken from her, but you're giving up now?"
Rei could see the Crescent Moon Wand in her own hand, the Silver Moon Crystal mounted in the top. "We were supposed to protect her. That's all we're for..."
`What am I saying? This can't be real,' she thought.
"We have to work together," Amy said. "We have to keep going."
The four remaining youma appeared in front of them. For some reason, they didn't bother with illusions this time, they attacked outright. Sensing that Amy wasn't a threat, the youma split up against Rei and Mina.
"Venus Crescent Beam Smash!" Mina arced her attack, certain that she would hit at least one of the four targets. She actually succeeded in hitting two, but only one fell to the ground, somewhat injured.
How to follow up was a difficult decision, but Rei decided to eliminate the downed youma for certain instead of taking a chance on hitting the others.
"Mars Fire Ignite!" The spiraling flame burned the youma to ashes.
"Separate them!" one of the remaining youma yelled.
One youma was still coming after Mina. It extended tendrils that wrapped her tightly. It began to pull her closer.
The second youma dove into the ground between Rei and Amy, and the other, the fastest of them, was heading straight for Rei. Rei wouldn't have time to use her power, so she gripped the Crescent Moon Wand in her hand.
The youma tried to swipe at her as it dove, but only managed to rip part of her skirt. Rei swung with the Crescent Moon Wand right across its face. The Wand went flying out of her hands, and the youma crashed to the ground in agony. Rei grabbed the Wand again before any of the youma could try to.
Mina was almost face-to-face with the youma that held her. Rei was running up to help when she heard Mina.
"Venus Crescent Beam..."
Rei knew what would happen. The same thing that had happened to Serena. "Mina, no!"
Mina put her finger to the youma's forehead and fired point blank. The explosion knocked Rei off her feet, along with the other youma who had been trying to get up.
Rei stood back up and prepared to finish the youma off.
Suddenly two halves of a small mountain rose up on both sides of Amy. In an instant, they smashed together and crushed her.
`It's not real!' Rei yelled, but only in her head.
The underground youma rose up beside its recovering comrade. "Well, well, you're all alone. Hand over the silver crystal and we'll kill you as painlessly as that wimp."
Rei looked down at the crystal. It was pulsing with light. She could feel its power.
Amy and Mina had been right. Never give up. If she had to die to save the crystal, she'd do it.
She held out the Wand. "Come and take it," she spat.
The essence of the crystal was flowing through her. She wasn't the Moon Princess, but it didn't seem to matter. There was only one way to make sure the crystal didn't get into their hands. Rei felt powerful enough to do it.
The youma made their move from fifty feet away. Rei tightened her grip. She had so much energy she was shaking.
"Mars Fire... Super Nova!"
Rei's detonation was spectacular. The youma, the silver crystal, and everything else within a three mile area was vaporized, including the Negaverse base and Queen Beryl inside of it.
* * * * * * * *
return to Index / go to Chapter 6
The Nephrite and Naru Treasury