Comments, criticism, flames, etc. welcomed (and, in fact, requested) at Ultrace@aol.com.
A Sailor Moon fanfic by Mike Chenoweth [Ultrace@aol.com]
Part 8: Trial by Fire
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There was no advance preparation for the journey. As Rei's hand touched the Time Key, it scooped up her, Amy and Mina and sent the three of them through time once again.
The first thing Rei noticed was that, unlike the last time they had used the Key, the scene she was thrust into was completely unreal. She wasn't standing on anything at all. As a matter of fact, she could have been falling for all she knew, except there was nothing beneath her to fall onto. Her sense of perception was skewed because there was nothing--anywhere.
Probably the second thing she noticed was that she was without a single shred of clothing. Since she was alone, however, that didn't seem to be much of a problem.
Slowly, very slowly, a figure was coalescing out of the nothing around her. Rei began trying to cover herself up until she saw that the other figure was nude as well. It eventually resolved itself into a woman, certainly older than Rei--taller, more developed. Unlike Rei, she was glowing, which made details of her appearance indiscernible, except for the long hair--a little longer than Rei's--that glowed like the rest of her. It was impossible to tell just how tall the woman might be. With no reference point, she could have been a mile away and standing at five hundred feet, or six feet high, right in front of Rei's face.
Rei could sense a certain familiarity. "Who are you?" she asked.
"You know who I am," the woman said. Her voice was gentle, but firm, and had an otherworldly echo to it. Rei was confused, because there wasn't anything for it to echo off of. She didn't know who the woman was, but she felt like she had known at one time. Maybe.
"When you touched the Key, Rei, I felt your desire to save her, more than anything else."
"Yes," Rei said.
"She's the Princess. She's my responsibility," Rei told her.
The woman simply stared at Rei.
After a pause, Rei continued. "If I wasn't there, Amy and Mina would have to spend more time with her than they already do. I wouldn't wish that on anybody."
Still the woman said nothing. Rei tried to stare her down, but the woman's eyes didn't waver. Under her unflinching gaze, Rei could feel her resolve fading.
Finally, she gave up. "Alright, I love her! Is that what you wanted to hear me say?" she yelled. There was no response. Rei could already feel her anger evaporating, leaving her drained. She hung her head in defeat, unable to stand the woman's stare any longer. "She's like a sister to me. She means more to me than anything in the world."
"You would not kill for her," the woman chided.
Rei tried to explain. "She'd hate herself for the rest of her life if she knew someone who meant her no harm had to die so she could live. I couldn't do that to her."
The woman sounded amused. "Yet you would give your life for her."
Rei jerked her head up, meeting the woman's gaze again with pride. "Yes."
"She would hate you forever for it."
Rei couldn't hide how much it hurt. Yes, Serena would despise Rei for it, but Serena would still be alive, she wouldn't hate herself, and that's what mattered. "I don't mind," Rei said, and was surprised to find it was true.
She almost thought she could see a smile on the woman's face. "You will have a chance. You cannot hesitate," the woman told her, beginning to dissipate much more quickly than she had appeared.
"Wait!" Rei shouted, but the woman had gone and she was alone again.
* * * * * * * *
Mina and Amy were standing at the corner of a street. They didn't know what street it was, but the city was one they were completely unfamiliar with. The buildings were futuristic, and all dwarfed by a towering near-mountain of crystal glass, breath-takingly beautiful.
They each knew, somehow, that this was another time-travel "dream" and that they were in it together.
"What's going on?" Mina asked.
"I don't know," Amy told her, surprised to find that she could control herself this time.
There was some sort of commotion going on a few buildings down the street. People were running in all directions, which was the best sign that something was going wrong.
Out of the throng of people leaped a monster, an eight-foot tall combination of man and horse, carrying a type of bow.
"What the--?" Amy started.
As though she was the only one making any noise out of all the people, the monster looked right at Amy.
"Maybe we should transform?" Mina suggested.
"Right," Amy agreed, and reached for her power stick. It wasn't there. Neither was Mina's.
"Centaur!" the monster bellowed.
"We'd better call the others and hope they can get here fast," Amy said. She didn't have her communicator. Again, neither did Mina. Amy also found that her computer was missing.
The monster pulled back on its bow. An arrow flashed into existence and then launched at Amy and Mina. It slashed through a small tree, which fell over and narrowly missed the two of them. Before the monster could attack again, it was accosted from a nearby hill by the Sailor Scouts, four of them--and Sailor Moon was not among them.
Mina was confused. She and Amy were clearly among the group, yet standing at the street corner as well. `How can that be...?' she wondered.
Interested in these new targets, the monster attacked. Amy and Mina both watched, transfixed as the Sailor Scouts proceeded to defeat the monster.
Afterwards, the four were making sure that the bystanders were okay. Amy and Mina still felt compelled to watch, until they were checked over by the Scouts. They caught got a look at Sailor Mercury and Sailor Venus, but their counterparts didn't seem to notice that they were helping their younger selves out.
As the two of them touched their older counterparts and began to inexplicably black out, Amy's last thoughts were of how different their other selves looked--older, more powerful, and yet somehow still the same. Mina was simply surprised that this dream was even more weird than her first one.
* * * * * * * *
Amy, Rei and Mina came to in the coffee shop. They immediately noticed that it was no longer midnight; the sun was up outside. There was no sign of Serena, Rini or Setsuna.
Amy looked at the clock. 3:28. When Setsuna had shown up, it was about 2:45. Outside, it didn't look like it had rained at all, and the wall that the Thunder Monster had ripped through was completely intact.
"We're not back where we originally came from," she said.
"What do you mean, the Key screwed up?" Mina asked. That was all they needed, to be somehow stranded in time.
"When Rei touched it, that could have acted as some sort of catalyst that caused us to return early, but it could also have changed when exactly it sent us to," Amy explained.
A coffee shop employee who hadn't noticed anyone enter the room but heard their conversation walked by and gave the three of them a curious look. Amy didn't understand why until she looked at Rei and Mina, and saw that they were all still in their Sailor Scout incarnations.
`But when did the Key take us to?' she wondered.
She walked into the next room, leaving Mina standing there. Rei was sitting down, just staring out the window and watching people walking, completely lost in her own thoughts over the woman that she had met. Who was she? Was it real? Probably no more so than the battles she had fought when they had gone back in time to begin with. Chances were that she had dreamed it up and told herself what she wanted to hear: that she hadn't failed Serena. She looked very tired.
When Amy came back in a minute later, she was holding a wadded up mess that looked like a newspaper. "I was right," she said, pointing out the top of it. "The date on this newspaper isn't the same day we came from originally, it's two days after when we just came from."
"Two days?" Mina repeated, questioningly. "Didn't you say that it would be two days before Malachite went after the first crystal?"
With her back to them, neither Amy nor Mina saw Rei's eyes slowly widen as she looked out of the window, realizing for the first time that she'd been watching Lita, far down the street, head toward the alleyway where Malachite would strike.
Rei remembered the voice. "You will have a chance. You cannot hesitate." It was real. Even if she had only imagined the encounter, her chance was there.
She tore out of the room as fast as her legs would take her, leaving a stunned Amy and Mina behind.
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return to Index / go to Chapter 9
The Nephrite and Naru Treasury