Comments, criticism, flames, etc. welcomed (and, in fact, requested) at Ultrace@aol.com.
A Sailor Moon fanfic by Mike Chenoweth [Ultrace@aol.com]
Part 6: Fateful Preparations
* * * * * * * *
Amy, Rei and Mina all opened their eyes and found that they were still in the coffee shop. No one else was there.
"Wow, that was so real," Mina said, relieved to find breathing once again a natural thing.
"Yeah, it sure was..." Rei said cautiously, unsure yet if this was another dream or not.
Amy looked at a clock on the wall. 6:15. "If I remember correctly, we've got about six hours before Luna calls us to help Serena."
"You think that'll be long enough?" Rei asked.
"Long enough to do what we can, which may not be much," Amy told her. "We need to remember everything we can about what's going to happen and see how we can change things to the way they should be."
"I'm afraid I won't be much help," Mina said.
"Maybe not in remembering," Amy said, "but you'll be a lot of help if we need to change things ahead of time. Since you hadn't met any of us yet, you can probably interact with Rei, Serena and I in this time without any problem."
"Let's get to it," Rei said.
Between them, Rei and Amy were able to reconstruct a large amount of what had happened that night months before. Serena and Molly had both mentioned parts of it that neither Rei nor Amy had been present to see. It took half an hour to get all the details down on a sheet of scrap paper which they found on one of the tables. Someone who worked in the coffee shop passed by the room they were in but didn't pay them any attention.
"So this is what we know..." Amy began. "Around midnight, Molly will be taken by the youma, and Neflyte will go after them. Luna will call us, and we'll head out to meet Serena. Neflyte and Molly will go into the park where they'll be attacked, and Molly will get hurt. We'll meet Serena near the park and go in as Neflyte is destroying the youma, and then Neflyte will disappear to the hospital. Is that it?"
"Sounds right," Rei said. "But what can we do?"
"Hmmm," Amy said. "We can do a lot, but better to figure out only what we need to do, and then decide how to do it."
"We need to make sure that Neflyte is killed, either by us or the youma," Rei said.
"To do that, we'll have to make sure that you two and Serena don't go to the park, right?" Mina asked.
"Right, and from what Molly said, she pushed Neflyte out of the way when they were attacked. If we can get Neflyte to push her out of the way instead..." Amy said.
"We can't warn him ahead of time," Rei said, "or they might not go to the park at all."
"Maybe if we distract Molly or alert Neflyte once they're at the park?" Mina asked.
"I don't think that would work," Amy said. "But we'll figure it out later. Luna will call our past selves on their communicators, but we have communicators, too. If we set ours to constantly transmit, that would probably block Luna's signal, so she couldn't call either of us."
"What about Serena?" Rei asked.
"Molly called her before she was kidnapped, I think," Amy said. "We can't prevent that, so she's bound to find out that Molly's in trouble."
The three of them thought it over for a while.
"If you know when Neflyte and Molly will go into the park, maybe I can wait nearby and then stop Serena from going in when she gets there?" Mina suggested.
"Could you stop her without hurting her--or getting hurt? She might think you're with the Negaverse," Rei said.
"I think I can handle her," Mina said, confidently. "After all, she doesn't have the silver crystal, or even the Crescent Moon Wand at this point, and her tiara shouldn't be too much of a problem."
"So we can prevent ourselves and Serena from showing up and seeing or stopping us, but we have to be certain that Neflyte dies." Rei said. Each time she mentioned Neflyte's death, she felt less and less sure... Did it have to be? They could stop him from going after Zoisite--she was sure he would listen to them.
"If need be, we can make sure ourselves..." Amy said, nervously, hoping it wouldn't be necessary--that she'd think of some way that the youma could do what they should have done all along. But she couldn't forget what Setsuna had told her, either.
Rei noticed someone walk by the entry to the room carrying a chocolate parfait. It was Molly, looking extremely depressed. She noticed Amy and walked up. "Amy, I hate to interrupt, but could I talk to you for a while? I just gotta talk to someone about Maxfield and Serena won't listen..."
"Uh, sure," Amy said. "We were just getting ready to split up anyway. I'll meet you two at the park around nine o-clock. Be sure to keep thinking about that problem..." she told Rei and Mina. That would still give them plenty of time to set the communicators and do anything else they needed.
Rei and Mina walked out of the room.
Molly put her chocolate parfait on the table, sat down and immediately started to cry. "Oh, Amy..." she said. "What can I do? Serena keeps telling me Maxfield is this terrible person, but that can't be true. He's always so nice to me, he's never done anything that wasn't gentle..."
"Molly, what do you feel for--Maxfield?" Amy asked. She'd almost called him Neflyte by mistake.
"I dunno... He's so handsome... I know he's older, but we can make it work."
Amy was suddenly passing by Molly and Neflyte in the park. They were sitting on a blanket on which sat a basket. Molly was handing him a plate practically overloaded with food, and beaming with delight, while Neflyte was giving the plate a wary look. It was all perfectly real.
An instant later, she was back with Molly in the coffee shop, although she didn't know if she had been gone for a second or five minutes. Molly didn't seem to think anything was wrong. Was it an effect of Time unraveling?
"No, no," Amy told her, remembering what Molly had just said, "that's not what I mean. What do you feel when you're around him?"
"Nothing like what Serena says. He's got a good heart, I can just tell. He might not be too personal with Serena, but that's just because she doesn't know him. He'd never hurt me, I know it."
Maybe it was because she knew it was true, or maybe because in a few hours it wouldn't matter, but Amy couldn't think of a single thing to convince Molly otherwise. "If that's the case, then follow your heart, and don't listen to Serena. Make the most of every moment with him..." Amy wanted terribly to tell her just how important those moments were going to be, but she couldn't.
"You're right!" Molly said, standing up with sudden determination. "The next time I see him, I'm going to tell him something I've been wanting to say since I first met him. Thanks, Amy, for listening to me. I know I don't know you like I know Serena, but this means a lot to me..."
"No problem," Amy said, almost gloomily. Molly didn't notice.
"I'll see you later," Molly said, leaving behind her uneaten dessert.
`Sooner than you think,' Amy said, but only to herself.
* * * * * * * *
Rei was walking down the street heading toward nowhere in particular. Mina had wanted to take an early look at the park and figure out where she should be waiting, but Rei's other self had been near the park a little earlier that day--no sense in taking a chance on running into her.
Besides, it would be a lot easier for her to think over what to do about Neflyte if she didn't have to talk to anyone. Every time she thought about letting him live and trying some other way, the picture of Serena's dead body on the ice, and Setsuna's words came flooding back to her.
If Neflyte's living was destined to destroy the Sailor Scouts, the decision should be simple. Why wasn't it? Were her instincts trying to tell her something? Could she even trust her instincts, having been thrown over half a year back in time?
It was starting to make her head hurt. She tried closing her eyes, but it didn't do any good; neither the mild pain nor her problems went away. As a matter of fact, the pain got worse--she ran into someone coming around the corner and was knocked over.
"Are you okay, Rei?"
`Oh, no,' she thought. `Please, let it be anybody... Anybody but him...'
She opened he eyes. It was the worst person possible--Darian, in all his handsomeness. The fact that he was wearing some kind of suit made him look even more charming than usual. He was reaching down to help her up.
"You've got to watch where you're going. Serena must be rubbing off on you," he said, when she'd gotten to her feet.
Rei knew how she needed to act around him, but could she do it? Feeling incredibly guilty, she grabbed his arm and hugged it. "I'm happy to meet you anytime, Darian, even head-on," she said with a smile that was half-true and half-false. She still loved him, desired him, but she knew that he belonged to Serena, even if he didn't know it.
Darian grinned (`Probably remembering the time I asked him out, after I fell flat on my face,' she thought). "I was just getting off of work and didn't have anything planned... That boat ride didn't really work out the other day, I know, but did you maybe want to--"
"Aha! Caught you in the act!" Serena yelled, stepping out from around the corner. Rei grimaced visibly. If there was any way the situation could have gotten worse, this was it.
Rei leaned over the seats into the next row. "Hey, stupid," Rei said, slapping Serena on the head. It was one thing for her to lure Darian to a violin recital just so she could see him in a tux, but it was another for her to spend the whole night drooling over him--literally. "You're supposed to be watching HIM!"
"I WAS watching him!" Serena loudly whispered, "Until someone hit me!"
"I meant the violinist, not Darian!"
To Rei's embarrassment, the entire crowd shushed them both. But there wasn't any crowd. She was standing at the corner with Darian and Serena, and looking like she'd just been in a daydream. She wasn't sure if she had or not.
"Are you sure you're okay, Rei? What's your problem anyway, Meatball-head?" Darian asked, mildly annoyed.
"So, thought you could sneak out and have plenty of fun on a school night, eh, Rei?" Serena asked with a smirk, ignoring Darian.
"I am not going to be having `plenty of fun,'" Rei snapped. "And you are definitely one to talk. When was the last time you got to school on time, hmmm?"
"As if!" Serena retorted. "If you're not planning on going out, then why'd you change out of the clothes you were wearing just a couple hours ago?"
Rei realized that, for once, Serena actually had a point. Even if Rei really wasn't planning to go out, it had to look that way. "Just butt out of it, alright?" she told her, and turned to Darian. "Give me a call tomorrow and we can get together?"
Before either of them could reply, she ran off. In the end, Rei had been thankful for Serena's infuriating appearance. It gave her a chance to get away from the torture that was being near this Darian, a Darian that was hers and yet never would be. She thought she was over him, but two minutes had just proven her wrong.
* * * * * * * *
As she was making her way to the park, Mina was having as many doubts as Rei was, despite having not known Neflyte very well. Mina did know Molly, however, and that she was very happy around Neflyte.
Her unease about their "mission" was coming from a totally different source. She could still remember, crystal clear, the day that Artemis had awakened her into the life of Sailor V.
"It's your destiny to fight, Mina, to help protect others and preserve justice," he said. Pretty corny, she'd always thought, but well-phrased, especially now.
Was this justice? The three of them going back in time to kill someone who would have been no harm to anybody? It just happened to be that his actions would accidentally lead to their death or imprisonment forever or something. True, he might have been meant to die before Rini used the Time Key, but maybe this was some greater power's way of giving him and Molly a second chance together?
Were their lives more important than Neflyte's? Five Sailor Scouts--six if she included Sailor Pluto--could do so much good fighting against the Negaverse, but it just didn't seem fair to Neflyte, Molly, or the three of them that had been sent back.
Mina hadn't planned it that way, but at least she wouldn't have to "Make sure" Neflyte died. Poor Amy and Rei.
It was starting to get dark, but one of the houses she was passing was still bustling with activity. Furniture and boxes were being moved in from the back of a large truck. It looked like a few people were rushing to get the job done before nightfall.
Whenever she was down, Mina always felt better for doing something nice--or going shopping, which she didn't have any money for. She still had plenty of time to meet the others at the park later, so...
"Could you guys use a hand?" she asked, walking up to the truck.
"Sure, that would be great," one of the people inside the truck said. She came out carrying a large box. "Feel free to carry in whatever you want. Don't hurt yourself, though."
Mina was paralyzed with shock. It was the girl from the picture. Her eyes looked down. `This lawn... This house...' Her thoughts were a jumble.
"Hey, are you okay?" the girl asked, shaking Mina lightly but firmly.
"Uh, yeah, sure," Mina said. "Just never met a girl so strong."
"Just as long as you don't call me an amazon or something..." she responded warily, not sure if Mina's comment was intended as a compliment or not.
"What should I call you, then?"
"Well, my name's Lita," she said.
Mina froze for a second time, but recovered much more quickly. "Lita?" she asked in a tone that indicated there was something wrong.
Lita looked at her suspiciously. "Don't tell me--you've heard stories about the `Karate Maniac'?"
"No, just about a new student, that's all. I have some friends who go to Crossroads Junior High. One of them must have seen you registering there, 'cuz you look like the person they were talking about." From what little Serena had ever mentioned of Lita, Mina did know that she had gone there before she was killed--for a day. "My name's Mina."
"Ma'am," a man from inside the truck said. "It's going to be too dark soon to get some of this furniture."
"We'd better hurry," Lita said.
With Mina's extra bit of help, the rest of the truck was unloaded in a little more than half an hour. It wasn't that difficult, but Lita showed definite gratitude.
"I really appreciate it," she said. "Come on in for a few minutes and have something to drink. You must be thirsty. I know I am."
"Well, I was on my way to the park..." Mina said. She was thirsty, but she couldn't be late to meet the others, either. "I think I can spare a few minutes."
Inside, Lita poured each of them a glass of orange juice. "Maybe I'll go down to the park tomorrow," she said. "They probably have a lot of big trees there."
"You like trees a lot?" Mina asked with curiosity while sipping her juice.
"Yeah, they're great for climbing, helps keep me in shape. You should try it. Oak trees are the best ones to start with."
"Oak...?" Mina asked, her voice sounding distant both to Lita and in her own ears. She was somewhere else.
Her mind was filled with an image. Lita was dressed like a Sailor Scout, spinning in place, sending up a spray of leaves everywhere. Mina could lightly taste the wood and dirt in her mouth. She could smell the clear night air.
"Jupiter... Oak... Evolution!" Dozens of small lightning balls shot out in every direction. She could feel the static, smell the ozone of each one that flew by.
Mina snapped out of whatever it was she was in, almost spitting out her orange juice in the process. `What's going on?' she asked herself.
Lita must have noticed. She was giving Mina an odd look.
"I'm sorry," Mina said. "I get this way sometimes, absentminded. I might not even remember you the next time we see each other." Her eye caught the time on the microwave. 8:16. "I really need to get going. Thanks for the juice!"
"Thanks for the help," Lita said. "Hope I see you around here again soon."
Mina smiled and left, hoping she would see her again, period.
* * * * * * * *
Amy and Rei arrived at the park at about the same time, meeting Mina, who had aleady been there for almost fifteen minutes checking out the area.
"Any luck with what do to about Neflyte?" Amy asked.
The other two shook their heads, almost simultaneously. "I couldn't think of anything. Maybe we'll have to go with Mina's suggestion after all," Rei said.
"You want to throw a rock at Molly, or something?" Mina asked, jokingly.
"I suppose I could freeze her, if it comes to that," Amy said.
"That would definitely stop her from getting in front of him," Rei said. "He'd have to protect her."
"She might not be able to defend herself, though. Maybe we could signal Neflyte?"
"That could distract him instead. How about if we..."
They spent the next two hours ironing out what to do and where the three of them would be. Mina chose a spot about twenty feet from the park entrance where a group of shrubs helped to cover an already large tree. Rei and Amy found two larger-than-average bushes that would cover the both of them, close to where the attack would take place.
They couldn't come up with a better way to distract Molly or alert Neflyte other than using Amy's Ice Bubbles on Molly.
None of them had a watch, but Amy figured that it was about half-past eleven. She set their communicators to transmit. That would immediately tell their past selves that something was wrong. The other Amy and Rei would be able to call each other on the phone, but wouldn't be able to contact Luna and Serena, as they should already be out, about to encounter Neflyte.
The three of them transformed into Sailor Scouts, went to their places, and waited.
* * * * * * * *
return to Index / go to Chapter 7
The Nephrite and Naru Treasury