Shades of Darkness
Sailor Moon Fanfic
By: Aaron Nowack
Chapter 4: Nemesis Rising
"War is Hell."
- William Tecumseh Sherman
Disclaimer: Sailor Moon is owned by Naoko Takeuchi, whose creative talents far exceed my most humble own. Distribution and other rights to Sailor Moon belong to lots of different companies that I do not own. I make or imply no claim to ownership of Sailor Moon or its characters. However, the text of this fanfic is mine, and should not be used without permission. Thank you.
Metallia stood on top of the tallest tower of Beryl's palace. She smiled as she felt first Jadeite, then Nyxan and Ishamanar teleport to stand behind her, but she did not turn to face them. Instead, she had eyes only for the titanic, darkened orb that hung in the now-starry sky overhead. That orb carried stars of its own, specks of artificial light, visible even from this great distance.
"What... what have you done?" Jadeite asked, his voice tinged with equal parts fear and awe.
For a moment, Metallia did not answer, instead simply continuing to take in the view. It had been... far too long since she had seen this sight. Far too long since she had tasted the air of true freedom, reveled in the flows of mana that danced from planet to planet. Her time imprisoned beyond the boundaries of the universe had changed her, turned her into something far more than she had been even when she had ruled the Golden Millennium, but she had never stopped longing for this moment.
Now she was free, and all those who had locked her away would face her vengeance. There would be no hope of respite, save in surrender. All that lived would serve her or die, as it always should have been. Even her unworthy descendant and the Senshi that had foolishly sworn to her would come to see that truth, and beg her forgiveness for the sin of opposing her will.
There was a flicker of darkness. Sailor Saturn and Asphara appeared before Metallia. The youma's eyes widened as she saw the three Generals standing behind the Queen, and she knelt. Saturn remained standing and said, "It has been done as you commanded, my Queen."
Metallia laughed, a smile gracing her aristocratic features as she spoke. "So it has been. You have served me well, Hotaru." The Senshi bowed slightly, but the Queen's eyes had turned to the kneeling youma. "Rise, Asphara. I am well pleased with you."
Asphara was on her feet in seconds. "Thank you, Great Metallia."
Now Nyxan spoke, if cautiously. "You have moved us to Terra's orbit?"
Now Metallia half-turned and stepped back, so that she could see the entire assembly. Her eyes caught the countless youma encampments surrounding the fortress, and she smiled at the frenzied activity she saw in them. "So I have done, my General."
"Why?" Jadeite asked.
"It will greatly... infinitely ease the transportation of youma," Ishamanar answered in his rumbling voice. "Even with no wards between the realms, it would have been more costly than simple teleportation."
"Even so." Jadeite frowned, carefully considering his next words. "My Queen, the humans of this age have achieved many things, even without magic. It is possible - however unlikely - that they might now find a way to strike at us."
"With the accursed Seal gone, it was only my will that linked the Dark Kingdom to this realm and kept it from forever vanishing into the Void," Metallia answered. "That link was a weakness that my rebellious Senshi or the Champions might have struck at."
She smiled. "Now, they can never banish us. Perhaps once they might have had the chance to destroy us," she said, and her smile deepened as her eyes turned to Saturn, "but that power is in my hands now."
Saturn simply bowed again.
"Now, General Jadeite," Metallia continued. "I have a question for you."
Jadeite paled slightly, then managed to bring his expression under control. "I will answer it if I can, Great One."
Metallia's eyes flickered back to Terra. "Why are you still here?"
Now a fierce grin came to Jadeite's face, and he made no effort to straighten it. "As you will, my Queen. I and my army will depart immediately, and Tokyo will be no more."
"So be it," Metallia said, and Jadeite vanished in a pillar of flame. Metallia's attention turned to Nyxan and Ishamanar, and the two youma Generals bowed. "I have a task for you two."
"Whatever it is, it shall be done," Ishamanar said.
"We live to serve," Nyxan added quietly.
"It is not only Tokyo that shall feel my wrath. The Dragons have already begun to destroy another of the Terrans' cities." She paused momentarily. "I do not recall its name."
Saturn's eyes flicked to the globe overhead. "It is called New York, my Queen."
"So it is. Leave that city and its region to the Dragons for now, and leave Tokyo to Jadeite as I have promised. But for the rest of Terra, allow your Overlords to select their own targets, and have them strike as soon as possible." Metallia paused, and a terrible smile again graced her face. "I believe a month of darkness and war should be enough to convince the Terrans that they can find salvation only in submission."
"How many youma?" Nyxan asked.
"However many you desire. Spawn more if the need arises. If the evidence of our first attacks holds true, it should not. The only foes with the ability to fight us will be besieged by Jadeite."
Both Generals bowed. "By your command," Ishamanar said. The two then vanished.
Metallia turned back to Asphara. "Now, Overlord Asphara, a reward."
"My Queen?" the youma asked.
"You have indeed served me well. For that service, I will allow you to be my fourth General."
"Great... Great One, I am not worthy." Asphara licked her lips nervously.
"I have decided that you are worthy, and so you shall be," Metallia said.
"Your will, Great Metallia," Asphara answered, and beside her Saturn smiled for an instant.
Metallia looked up at Terra, then returned her gaze to her servants. "And now, I have another task for you two."
Nemesis's baleful red glow cast the city of Tokyo in a strange light. The countless shadows seemed more malevolent and deeper. This was not just an illusion of the oddly colored light, for though it was - just barely - bright enough to see a short way, Nemesis was no replacement for the vanished sun. The true moon was also visible in the sky, but it was a pale, blood-stained shadow of its ordinary silver brilliance.
"What the hell are we waiting for?" Sailor Venus asked her two Outer Senshi companions. "We have to get to my house!"
"Venus," Sailor Uranus began, then shook her head. "Let's run."
"Right," Sailor Neptune agreed after a half-second, and the three set off. Still, the sudden darkness slowed their once-rapid pace across the rooftops of Juuban, for fear of slipping and falling. The remaining blocks moved by agonizingly slowly, even as the sounds of panic filled the air. Gunfire could be heard in the distance, and Uranus was not certain that it was directed at a youma.
Damn it. Every instinct she had was screaming at her to forget trying to get to Venus's house and start heading directly to the Shrine to meet the others. She didn't expect that Metallia was planning to just turn off the sun and then take a few days off.
Venus paused for a moment. "We're almost there!" she said, her voice tinged with relief.
"Then keep moving," Sailor Neptune replied. "There's no time to waste." The younger Senshi took her advice, leaping toward the next rooftop.
Then, the attack came. There was the sound of countless wings; an unspeakable chorus of inhuman roars filled the air. A series of great explosions briefly lit the artificial night, half-seen skyscrapers on the horizon vanishing in clouds of ash and smoke. The faint sound of distant gunfire became in an instant the horrible orchestra of a pitched battle.
Even as Venus landed safely on the other side of the street, the youma were upon the three Senshi. A black-skinned, winged beast with eyes of fire dove at Neptune. She leapt backward, barely avoiding the youma's claws. With a snarl, the demon ripped its hands from the rooftop, leaving a narrow crater. Without pausing, it pounced at Neptune.
It was met in midair by Sailor Uranus's golden Space Sword. Before it had evaporated to dust, five more youma landed on the rooftop, flinging fire and shadow at the Senshi. A bolt of darkness struck Neptune's lower arm as she tried to make a counter-attack. She stumbled backwards, the magic of her Deep Submerge scattered by interruption.
A gray-skinned, human-shaped youma charged her, a wicked, dark blade appearing in its hands. Neptune reacted instantly, sidestepping the demon's first strike. Her uninjured hand struck at the youma's chest. The demon was sent flying back to crash into another monster.
Neptune started at a sudden presence behind her, then relaxed as she realized that it was her lover. The two Senshi stood back to back, and Neptune used the moment's reprieve to retrieve the Deep Aqua Mirror.
"Where's Venus?" Uranus asked quietly.
"Don't know," Neptune answered curtly as a dozen youma cautiously encircled the pair. "Ready?"
She could feel Uranus smile coldly. "Let's do this."
Sailor Venus ignored the sounds of battle behind her as she leapt to the next rooftop. A youma with an shadowy, constantly shifting form awaited her. Venus speared the youma with a Crescent Beam and moved to the next rooftop, not stopping to see if the youma was slain. A flock of bird-like, black-feathered youma, attracted by the burst of light, began to circle overhead.
Venus rolled to one side to dodge a strike of dark lightning from above. She fired a Crescent Beam in response, but couldn't tell whether it hit anything. It was too dangerous, she realized, to stay on the rooftops. One of the youma overhead dove at her.
Before it reached her, she leapt to the street below. There were perhaps a half-dozen youma between her and home. Without thought, she shouted words of magic, and her Venus Love-Me Chain snapped out like an impossibly long whip. When its golden coils touched the youma, they screamed and dissolved into dust.
There was no time to celebrate this small victory, though. Venus ran, faster than she ever had before. She dodged attacks from above half-instinctively, counter-attacking whenever she could. Still, the remaining distance passed agonizingly slowly. She somehow managed a new burst of speed as her home came into sight.
Then she stopped. The ground cracked open and a circle of black flame sprung up around her. She threw up an arm to shield her face from the cold heat. When the unnatural fire died down, leaving a circle of broken, half-charred asphalt, she was surrounded.
The largest youma which stood before her stepped forward. It seemed to be no more than an empty suit of dark armor with pale green flame pouring from every gap. "Surrender," it said in a deep, rusty voice, "and our Queen may prove merciful."
Venus raised a hand, pointing directly at the youma's chest, and allowed a golden light to shine from her outstretched finger. "Get out of my way."
"Then, die in Great Meta-"
"Crescent Beam!" For an instant, the youma stood still, impaled on the spear of golden light. Then the light vanished, and it fell. Venus rolled through the sudden opening in the youma circle before the other demons could react.
She turned to face them. A lupine beast that stood on six legs leapt at her. Even as its jaws snapped at her throat, she brought up her hands, shouting "Venus Love-Me Chain!" Again the golden coils sprang into being, and the wolf youma was flung backwards by their eruption. Venus directed the chain to follow the flying monster, wrapping around it and crushing it. Silvery dust rained down on the other youma, who hesitated for a moment.
Then they attacked. There was no time to launch another magical attack. Venus met the first oncoming monster with a solid punch. She grabbed another's arm as it struck at her, sending it flying with a quick throw. She charged a red-scaled youma, her magically enhanced speed enough to bowl it over.
This bought her enough time to summon her chain again. It leapt from youma to youma at her command. When the magic was finished, only three youma remained to face her. One, a tall, thin creature with black eyes and yellowish skin, smiled, revealing a mouth full of fangs. Venus noticed the sound of beating wings above her. She glanced up, and saw several dozen youma hovering overhead. Taking a step back, she braced herself.
A ball of orange light crashed into the youma flock, destroying one of the youma and scattering the rest momentarily. In that instant, Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune leapt down from a nearby rooftop to stand by Venus's side.
There was no time for words, as the youma onslaught began. There was an indeterminate time with no thought, the nightmarish blur of heated battle. When it finally passed, there were no youma visible on the street.
Neptune panted heavily. "You shouldn't have run off like that. It's too dangerous to travel alone."
"I had to -" Venus stopped suddenly. "My parents!" She once again broke into a run, though one slowed by her exhaustion. After a moment, the other two Senshi followed.
Venus came to a sudden halt as they reached her house. "Something's wrong," she whispered as Uranus and Neptune caught up with her.
The front wall of the house exploded outward. A hulking creature of metal and muscle emerged from the dust, blood clearly visible on its steely fists. In its right hand it clutched a body, so mangled that its identity could not determined from a glance. "No," Venus said quietly. The youma roared a challenge.
"No," Venus repeated more loudly, shaking. The monster hurled the body it held to the ground and began to charge. Venus screamed wordlessly. Unformed golden light flung from her hands in an unending torrent. Even the unnaturally dark shadows cast by Nemesis were obliterated by the light, which lit the street with a light brighter than the brightest noon.
When it finally died down, there was nothing left of the massive youma. Venus wavered, almost collapsing. Uranus laid a hand on her shoulder, but could not find the words to speak. Venus shook it off and slowly walked over to kneel beside the corpse. "My father," she said coldly after a moment. She rose, and entered the house through the hole that had been the front door.
After a moment, the other two Senshi followed. When they found her mother in the living room, Venus paled, shuddering. Uranus knelt beside the bloodied form, fingers reaching for the woman's neck. She ignored the sounds of Neptune trying to comfort the younger Senshi coming from behind her.
"She's alive," Uranus said after a moment. The sounds from behind her stopped, and in an instant Venus was kneeling beside her. Her mother let out a shallow breath, her form stirring slightly.
"Can we move her?" Venus asked after a moment, her voice shaking slightly.
"I think so," Uranus answered. "I don't think she's hurt too badly."
Venus cradled her mother in her arms and rose in one smooth motion. "We don't," she said, then paused as her voice cracked with suppressed emotion. After the slightest instant she began again, her words carefully spoken. "We don't have any time to waste, do we?"
They left the house the way they had entered. When they reached her father's body, Venus stopped. "Please," was all she said, her voice breaking. Uranus picked up the body. Venus shuddered, then wordlessly began to walk toward the Hikawa Shrine.
Those Senshi and Champions who did not have family in the immediate vicinity were slightly more than halfway to the Hikawa Shrine when the invasion began. They quickly attracted substantial amounts of youma, and since that point had been fighting for every inch of progress. Ares was certain they'd killed well over a hundred of the demons in the hour they'd been fighting, but there seemed to be no end to the onslaught.
It would not have surprised him if there were more youma facing them now than an hour ago. Their progress kept slowing, and he knew that if they stopped entirely they would be buried under the demonic hordes. The last time he had fought a battle like this he had had an army at his back.
From the sound of gunfire and screams in the distance, the Japanese military were doing their fair share of fighting already, but Ares expected the size of the youma attack had already proved too much for them to contain, much less push back. The first attack had stretched them to the limit, and it had been far smaller than this.
He did not even want to consider the implications of the strange new moon that hung over the city, tainting everything with the color of blood. For the moment, all he could do was face the enemy before him, and kill them as swiftly as he could.
A winged, slimy beast dove at Ares. His blazing blade was ready to meet it and cut the youma in two. The halves dissolved before they hit the ground. Even before that, another monster had charged the Champion. After that too had been dispatched, Ares had a moment to survey the battleground.
Hades, Medea, and Poseidon had formed an armored wedge, pressing forward relentlessly if slowly. Sailor Mars stood slightly behind them, Sailor Mercury's unconscious form cradled in her arms. Hermes was fighting his way to their side. At first, Ares could not locate Sailor Pluto, but then a ball of purple energy flew over his shoulder and obliterated the youma before him.
That seemed to be the final straw, for the remaining demons scattered, and the street was clear in moments. It was only a few hundred meters to the Hikawa Shrine. For a moment, all the exhausted warriors did was relax slightly, breathing heavily. In Mars's arms, Sailor Mercury stirred. The other Senshi gently placed her on her feet. Though she wavered, Mercury managed to stand on her own.
"What's happened?" were the first words out of her lips.
"There's no time," Ares said harshly, interrupting Hermes before he could finish the first word of an explanation. "Let's get to the shrine before those youma work up their courage again." The Champion of Mercury frowned, but nodded.
Sailor Pluto glanced up at the stairway to the Shrine. "It's a trap," she commented, adjusting her grip on her weapon.
"You've seen it?" Ares asked.
"Yes." Sailor Pluto turned to face the Champion.
"How many youma?" was all Ares said in reply.
Pluto only shrugged.
Hermes and Mercury retrieved their computers almost simultaneously. "They're massing for another attack, all around us," the Champion said after a moment.
"The background levels are too high to get a good scan on the shrine," Mercury added, her voice still weak.
"Mercury. Are you strong enough to manage a teleport there?" Ares asked.
She nodded. "With help."
"You don't need to tell me, Champion," she snapped harshly, interrupting Ares and grasping Mercury's hand. "Outside or inside?"
Mere seconds later, the street was empty.
Jadeite had meant to teleport directly to the Hikawa Shrine. It had given him no small pleasure to decide to make that place his fortress, and perhaps one day his palace. It would be but the first of many humiliations that would finally be avenged. He had thought long and hard on what form his vengeance against the Senshi themselves would take, but had reached no conclusion save that simple death was too good for them.
In any case, he was not sure why he had instead appeared in an empty, nondescript alleyway. From the sound of things, he was not far from the center of the battle that had just erupted, but as yet there was no fighting here. His eyes flicked warily from side to side, searching for some ambush.
He was somehow not surprised when a shadowy figure took shape in the air before him. It was covered in a dark cloak that hid everything beneath it. The apparition sat cross-legged in mid-air, and Jadeite found something about it... familiar. The seeming emptiness beneath the hood somehow managed to watch him expectantly.
"You are the one who spoke to me, in Beryl's palace," Jadeite said after only a brief moment's thought.
"You reason correctly, Guardian." The deep voice seemed smug, and Jadeite was certain that the cloaked... man had not forgotten that he no longer cared for that title.
If the figure wanted some reaction to that, he would be disappointed. "I am not pleased that you restored the chains Metallia placed on me."
"You would be less pleased if Serenity had noticed my hand at work. Until you left her realm, I could not risk leaving any further sign of my presence." Jadeite's visitor seemed to glance upward at the blood-red moon in the sky. "Beautiful, isn't it?"
"I do not think you are here to discuss aesthetics," Jadeite said.
"You are correct." The figure's hidden gaze returned to the General. "There is much more we should discuss."
"I would have a name from you," Jadeite said.
The figure seemed to consider this request for a moment. "You may call me Death."
Jadeite snorted. "I will call you no such thing, phantom."
There was a harsh, grating laugh. "The Death Phantom then. Will that serve?"
"That is still not a name, but it will do for now." Jadeite paused. "What is it you would speak of?"
"First, a gift for you, General." The Death Phantom extended a hand, revealing an ethereal, orange and green claw that still seemed to have once been human. In it rested a small black stone that seemed to suck up the dim light cast by the dark moon overhead.
Jadeite took it. "The Void Diamond? But it was lost at Juno!"
"The one you call Metallia retrieved it, and granted it to Beryl. After her death I took it from her chambers. And now I grant it to you, as a token of my good will."
"You have told me to seek the Diamonds. Why?"
The Death Phantom somehow seemed to smile. "Because they will be your freedom."
"How?" was all Jadeite asked.
"At the dawn of the Golden Millennium, Serenity the First forged the Ginzuishou -"
"- using the Five Diamonds, and bound it forever to her line. Your point?"
"I would have you match her accomplishment," the Death Phantom answered.
"Even if I knew how it could be done, a Ginzuishou would do me little good. I am hardly pure of heart, nor do I believe I have the strength to turn such an artifact to my will regardless."
"I will provide the knowledge. And never did I say we would create a mere copy of the Ginzuishou."
"Say more," Jadeite said, "though I think I have grasped your plan."
"We will create a mirror to the Ginzuishou, a Jakokuzuishou, dark where the Ginzuishou is light, and its equal in every fashion. With its power, you will cast down Metallia and be freed."
"And what will you gain from this, Phantom?" Jadeite smirked. "You will forgive me for not trusting that you would grant me such power out of altruism."
"You are wise not to trust so easily." The Death Phantom paused, as though considering what words to speak. "My motivation is nothing but revenge. I would see the line of Serenity extinguished forever." He paused again. "If you rise to replace it, I will not interfere."
"We shall see," Jadeite answered. "But for now, it seems our goals coincide regardless."
"You are indeed a wise man," the Death Phantom said, then chuckled at some private joke. "I cannot find the Diamonds precisely, but I know that one is on this world, and another on Luna. The last I know nothing of."
"They will be found," Jadeite answered.
The Death Phantom nodded, and began to fade away into nothingness, then solidified suddenly as a new voice spoke.
"Silence Wall." Sailor Saturn landed in between the two conspirators, the Silence Glaive alight with an unholy glare.
The Death Phantom snarled. "You. How did you evade my notice?" Saturn did not answer. "No matter." He extended one of his strange hands, and dark lightning began to crackle in it.
Jadeite willed himself to summon the power of the two Diamonds he now commanded to smite the Senshi, but instead found himself simply slipping the Void Diamond to the same pocket of space where the Flame Diamond rested. His eyes followed Saturn's trajectory back up to an overlooking rooftop, where he saw Ishamanar's consort Asphara standing.
"Go now," Saturn said, and Asphara vanished in a flicker of darkness.
The Hikawa Shrine's grounds were empty when the Champions and Senshi appeared. No battle howls met their arrival, and for a moment it was almost possible to imagine that there was no threat. The Shrine was dark and silent, offering no sign of enemies within. Yet there was Pluto's warning and the crimson moon overhead to remind them, and none lowered their guard. A cold wind blew strongly, disturbing a handful of freshly dropped leaves, but there was no other movement.
Then a shadow passed over the dark moon, a four-winged humanoid figure - the youma who had led the attack before the sky had darkened. A blazing arrow formed in the bow it carried, and the youma spoke. "Die."
Those below reacted instantly, scattering, and the youma adjusted her aim to track the largest group and fired. It took mere seconds for the arrow of flame to hit the ground. The massive explosion sent Medea and Poseidon flying to slam into the walls of the Shrine. A handful of magical attacks rose to answer the youma. A single beat of her four scarlet wings carried her away from the counterattacks with surprising speed.
"I am Rashira, humans," the youma said. Another arrow formed in her bow. "And in Lord Jadeite's name, I bring you death." She loosed the fiery bolt.
On the ground below, Ares sidestepped to stand directly in the arrow's path. His blade turned in his armored hand, and he caught the missile on the flat. He vanished in a cloud of flame and dust. When it began to die down, the first thing to be visible was his sword, now aflame itself.
Rashira snarled, rising higher with another beat of her wings. She gestured, and the ground below began to churn. Dozens of monstrosities clawed their way out of the earth amidst the human warriors. Poseidon, who had just risen, was again knocked down as another youma burst through the Shrine wall behind him.
Medea decapitated the beast even before it had left the hole it had made. The other Champions and the three Senshi were recovering from the surprise of the sudden youma assault. More youma poured out of the Shrine, and Medea had no time to notice the arrow Rashira was aiming at her.
Ares's eyes had never left the flying youma. He jumped with inhuman speed, landing on the Shrine roof. He paused only to adjust his aim before leaping again, straight at Rashira. She beat her four wings frantically, but not swiftly enough. With one strike of his blazing sword, Ares sliced the youma's stone bow in two.
Flames arced between the two halves for a moment, then Rashira dropped them. She snarled as she dove after the descending Champion. Ares twisted in midair, pointing his blade at her. "Flame Strike!" A bar of white fire flashed from his sword at the youma. Rashira straightened, bringing her wings in front of her to shield herself from the blast.
Ares landed on his side, his sword falling from his hand. Rashira stumbled as she hit the ground but did not fall. Again she spread her wings, and they began to glow brilliantly. "Die," she said again.
Before she could launch any attack, she was hit from behind by a Shine Aqua Illusion. She staggered forward, and saw that her minions had been all but dispatched. A curse on her lips, she began to summon the energy to teleport.
Moments later, she was vaporized by a storm of magic from all sides.
"Sending your friend off for help?" the Death Phantom asked Saturn. "It will not help you. I will be gone before she returns."
Jadeite tried to move, but found himself unable to muster the will, not even to utter a single word. Had he been able to, he might have told his tentative ally to finish the business and be done with it. Sailor Saturn, on the other hand, was certainly able to speak, but simply chose not to. She held the Silence Glaive before her, its blunt end firmly on the ground. The flickering distortion of the Silence Wall surrounded the three in a dome, the only thing keeping the Death Phantom from vanishing.
"You cannot hope to hold me," the spirit said as dark power gathered in its outstretched hand. A glow appeared in its hood that might have been eyes. "If I strike at you, you must divert the barrier to protect yourself or die. Either way, I will be free."
The Senshi did not respond.
The Death Phantom seemed to consider speaking again, but then simply allowed the dark energy to stream from his hand. Saturn screamed when the attack hit her, but stood her ground. She slumped over when the black lightning was finished, leaning on her weapon for support.
With a snarl, the Death Phantom attacked again, raising both hands. The pavement beneath the three began to crack and shatter, dark flames pouring from the chasms that opened. Much to his welcome surprise, Jadeite found himself freed from his paralysis to dodge the bursts of cold fire. Saturn did not move, and this time did not utter a sound as the flames washed over her. When they died down, the Senshi knelt, seemingly half-dead. But still her glaive stood upright in her hands, and still the Silence Wall enclosed them.
"Enough," came a new voice, from outside the dome. Jadeite recognized it all too easily. Metallia. He turned to face her, and saw Asphara standing half a pace behind the Queen. Saturn slowly pulled herself to her feet, and at a gesture from the Queen lowered the barrier.
In an instant, the Death Phantom began to fade away again, and Metallia smirked. "Don't be so foolish." With an almost negligent wave of her hand, she yanked the spirit back into solidity.
Saturn collapsed, the Silence Glaive falling from her fingers with a loud clatter. Metallia glanced at the fallen Senshi. "Asphara."
"Yes, my Queen." The demoness teleported to Saturn's side, kneeling to examine her wounds.
Jadeite glanced sideways at her. "You've been spying on me. Since Metallia's return?"
"Yes," was all Asphara said.
"I underestimated you," Jadeite continued. "I won't do it again." No matter how hard he tried, he could not stir himself to flee, or even to futilely test his might against Metallia.
In the meantime, the Queen had approached the Death Phantom, who floated motionless. "Well, well. What is it that has sprung my little trap?" Metallia said. "I do not recognize you."
"Serenity," the Death Phantom hissed. "I recognize you."
Metallia laughed. "Curious. There are not many who would call me that name. I thought I was aware of all of them, but you are not one of those foolish Champions."
The Death Phantom said nothing.
Metallia did not seem to care. "I presume that you are one of the two who so annoyed my Dragons on Pluto. The dark mage, I would guess. Who would your ally be?" When the Death Phantom did not break his silence, the Queen's attention turned to Jadeite. "General, speak of what you know."
Jadeite felt no compulsion to answer, but he knew it was well within the Queen's power to create one. "He calls himself the Death Phantom. He proposed an alliance with me, to -"
Jadeite stopped speaking as the Death Phantom suddenly attacked. Metallia was flung backward by the unexpected strike, and for a moment it seemed the dark lightning would throw her through one of the alley's walls. Then she righted herself in midair, forcing the lightning aside with a snarl and an angry wave of her right arm.
"That was unwise of you, spirit." Metallia's eyes narrowed as she studied her enemy, black oblivion gathering in her hands.
The Death Phantom laughed. "It was unwise of you to lower your guard." He raised both arms, and a pillar of blackness descended from the unnaturally dark sky, crashing down on Metallia. The Queen grunted as she raised an arm to shield, staggering under the force of the strike.
Jadeite felt Asphara's sharp claws pierce the back of his gray jacket, lightly resting on his skin. "Don't move," she said, and after a moment Jadeite nodded. He doubted that he could have joined his tentative ally, even if he had tried.
For the moment, the dark queen seemed pinned by the Death Phantom's strike, all her energy bent on keeping the dark pillar from consuming her. However, all her foe's power was likewise spent trying to overwhelm her defenses. Had he diverted even the tiniest amount to take advantage of Metallia's focus, she would have easily defeated the first attack. For long moments the two powers strove to outlast the other.
Then, at long last, the dark pillar vanished, and the Death Phantom lowered his arms. For a moment, his opponent slumped, breathing heavily. Then Metallia straightened herself and smiled. She stretched out one arm, and blackness gathered in it. "Submit to me, or die."
"I am hardly finished yet, Serenity." Black lightning began to dance between the Death Phantom's hands.
"A pity. One of your strength would have been a worthy servant," Metallia said. She sighed, and a beam of darkness leapt from her hand. The Death Phantom's lightning rose to meet it, but was swept aside in an instant. He screamed as the ray pierced him. When it struck the ground behind him, chunks of shattered pavement began to vanish. The Death Phantom himself wavered, flickering in and out of existence.
The spirit's screams were not enough to drown out the sudden gasp from the mouth of the alleyway. "Wiseman?!"
Metallia's gaze went to the cry, and Jadeite's followed. The instant Metallia's attention wavered, the Death Phantom recovered, vanishing without a word.
Jadeite took in the three that stood in the street outside the alley. Sailor Moon. Sailor Jupiter. Endymion. Jadeite felt Asphara's claws leave their position on his back, and he smiled.
"This should be fun."
This day had not been a terribly pleasant day for Sailor Moon. It seemed like years since she had left her home for the Hikawa Shrine. Since then, she had killed an old friend, had his shade thank her for it, gone on patrol, fought off a youma attack... and that was merely what had happened before Sailor Pluto had arrived to warn them that Metallia's true strike was yet to come. Now, the sun had vanished from the sky, replaced by scarlet Nemesis, and Tokyo was under assault by a youma force that made even the largest past incursions seem pathetic.
To make things worse, this invasion had occurred before she and her two companions could reach her house to warn her family of the coming danger. They had briefly checked Ami's house before the sun had darkened, but to no one's surprise Ms. Mizuno had not been home. Perhaps two dozen youma had attacked them since then, and though easily defeated the demons had delayed their progress further. Then Sailor Moon had felt a source of terrible dark power along their route, and the three had had no choice but to investigate.
There were very few things she had expected less to find when she peered into the alley than Metallia fighting Wiseman, while Jadeite and a youma looked on. Any thought of remaining unnoticed had fled Sailor Moon's mind, and a startled "Wiseman?!" had escaped her lips. Almost instantly, Metallia turned to her, and the Death Phantom vanished.
"This should be fun." Sailor Moon ignored Jadeite's statement, staring almost hypnotized at Metallia. It was disquieting, how familiar she seemed. At Castle Charon, she had hardly noticed how alike they looked. Now, it was hard to ignore. Metallia's hair, though dark, was bound into the same style as her own. Eyes of the same shade of bright blue as her own stared out at her from a face that, though cast into a sneer Sailor Moon hoped she would never wear, was not terribly different than how she might look when she became Queen of Crystal Tokyo. The golden crescent moon on Metallia's forehead glowed softly, and Sailor Moon could feel a warmth grow under her tiara in response.
"I do not suppose that you have come to kneel at my feet," Metallia said after a moment.
Beside Sailor Moon, Sailor Jupiter growled and acted before either her Prince or Princess could respond. "Sparkling Wide Pressure!"
The globe of electricity sped at Metallia, who blinked as it neared. The dark queen raised a finger, and the ball shattered into a thousand sparks, vanishing an instant later. Jadeite stepped forward, flames gathering in his hands, but Metallia waved him off before speaking. "I hope that is not the extent of your powers, Kino Makoto. It would not do for me to have such a pathetic servant."
"Why you -" Jupiter began, then stopped as she realized what name Metallia had used. "You know -"
"Of course I know." Metallia smiled. "My dear Hotaru was very forthcoming." Her eyes flicked back to Asphara. "How are her wounds?" she asked, and for the first time Sailor Moon noticed Saturn's still form lying farther back in the alleyway.
The demoness started. "She is badly hurt, my Queen. I helped her as best I could, but -"
"Let me heal her." Sailor Moon spoke without thinking, her hand going to the Ginzuishou.
"Usagi," Endymion breathed, laying a hand on her shoulder.
Metallia raised an eyebrow. "And have you attempt to turn one of my favorite tools against me once again? I think not." Metallia laughed suddenly. "Of course, you could always return the Ginzuishou to me, and I would use it to heal her myself."
Sailor Moon's hand went instantly to her broach, cupping protectively around it. Even the thought of the power Metallia would command with the Ginzuishou sent a tremor down her spine. "No," she said.
Endymion's grasp on her shoulder strengthened. "You said that she was one of your favorite tools. I doubt you will let her die," he said.
"You are correct, of course," Metallia admitted. "I am not so foolish as to let a weapon like her slip my grasp simply to watch the anguish on your faces." She laughed again. "As pleasant an experience as that would be."
"You," Jupiter growled, and almost leapt at Metallia before restraining herself.
Metallia rolled her eyes. "I see you will have much training to do when you come to serve me, Makoto. Though rabid attack dogs have their purposes, my Senshi should be more controlled."
Restraint abandoned, Jupiter charged the dark queen. Metallia casually summoned a wave of darkness that stopped the Senshi in her tracks. She grunted in pain, stumbling back several steps.
"Did you really think that would accomplish anything?" Metallia asked, her voice bored. "If it were my will, you would already be dead. Think on this lesson until I have further time to instruct you." Metallia gestured again, and bone-white vines sprouted from the shattered pavement, growing with unnatural speed to entangle and raise Jupiter, poisoned thorns piercing her flesh. Jupiter screamed, and the dark goddess smiled. "And now for you, Princess."
"Let her go," was all Sailor Moon said.
Metallia blinked in surprise, and laughed again. "No. I will not. I will take her to the dark places where the Void draws near and show her the true nature of the universe. I will break her. I will reforge her and scourge her of her weakness. She will hate me for it, and then she will love me for it. She will offer herself willingly to me, and the next time you see her she will fight at my side."
Jupiter struggled against the vines that bound her. "Never," she snarled.
"Oh?" Metallia said with another laugh. "You will be surprised to learn what you are capable of, given the right encouragement."
The captive Senshi snarled, and managed to free one arm from the vines. Lightning crackled in her fingers for a moment, then another white tendril grew with unnatural speed, wrapping itself around her arm and yanking it to point at Sailor Moon. Jupiter let the half-formed magic die, and Metallia smiled softly. "Futile," she said simply.
"I said to let her go!" Sailor Moon pulled the Ginzuishou from her brooch and there was a flare of silver light. When the light faded, Princess Serenity floated in an aura of power where Sailor Moon had stood. The crescent on her forehead blazed with a golden brilliance and the Ginzuishou was a small, silver sun in her hands. The crimson taint of Nemesis's light was for the moment washed away.
As the silver light shone on the white vines that bound Sailor Jupiter, they withered away and retreated back into the ground. The freed Senshi dropped to the ground, bleeding freely where the vines' thorns had stuck her. In moments, those wounds faded away, and Jupiter rose, lightning crackling in her hands.
Metallia frowned. "Asphara."
"My Queen?" The youma's voice was nervous, and she shrank back from the silver light.
"Keep the Senshi busy. Jadeite, deal with Endymion."
Jadeite raised a hand to summon a blade of flame before he realized what he was doing. Then he paused. How had he fallen so quickly back into the role of Metallia's servant? The fiery blade wavered.
Metallia snarled. "Do not try my patience, General. I will not be so busy instructing my heir that I could not spare a moment to educate you as well." Jadeite grimaced, but his sword reformed in his hands.
Jupiter moved first, charging Asphara. With a wordless cry she loosed the lightning from her hands, and the youma vanished in a crack of thunder. "Is that it?"
With a flicker of darkness, Asphara reappeared in the air above the Senshi. "Hardly," she sneered. Blades of black bone sprouted from her arms, dripping with her own ichor and radiating dark power. She dove, and her bone weapons nearly removed the Senshi's head.
Jadeite had begun to slowly circle Endymion, his fiery blade raised in a guard position. The Prince's sword was ready, but he did not move to attack. After a moment, Jadeite grimaced and hurled himself at his opponent. Endymion effortlessly blocked the first blow, and Jadeite retreated slightly.
"Better than I recalled," Jadeite said mockingly, "but not good enough, my Prince."
Endymion's grip tightened on the hilt of his sword. "Try me."
Metallia simply stood, watching the Princess and the battles with a slight smile. "Come now, Princess. Strike me, and let us see what you can do without your servants to aid you."
Princess Serenity frowned, and the Ginzuishou's silver light redoubled. The sudden brightening distracted Asphara, and Jupiter managed to get in a good blow and retreat far enough to call on her magic again. The Princess had no time to notice this, however, as she attacked.
A protective, flickering aura of blackness came into being around Metallia as the silver light sped toward her. Waves of power radiated from an outstretched arm as she prepared her counterattack, but they faltered and the Queen's eyes widened in surprise as the silver beam passed harmlessly over her shoulder.
Behind Metallia, Sailor Saturn's still form was engulfed in a silver glow. By the time Metallia glanced backward to see it, Princess Serenity's magic was already at work, and the fallen Senshi's numerous wounds were all but gone. For an instant, a furious snarl appeared on Metallia's face.
"Clever," she said once her face had smoothed, "but foolish, Princess." She idly waved an arm, and waves of darkness assaulted the Princess from all sides. The silver light around Saturn flickered and died as Princess Serenity was forced to defend herself.
Neither combatant could spare the attention to notice Sailor Saturn slowly pulling herself to her feet behind Metallia.
Asphara stepped to one side, dodging the Sparkling Wide Pressure her opponent had thrown while she was distracted by the Princess's magic. Ichor dripped from the terrible wounds her bone blades had torn open when they emerged from her arms, but she did not feel the pain. She smiled and clenched her fists. "My turn," she said, and dark lightning crackled in her hands.
Jupiter tensed, and the youma threw the two black globes. Before they reached the Senshi, Asphara charged, moving almost as quickly as her magic. The first dark ball Jupiter dodged, rolling aside and letting it impact the wall behind her. The second attack twisted in mid-air to follow her, but she was ready.
"Sparkling Wide Pressure!" The true lightning collided with Asphara's attack with a loud crack, and both vanished. Jupiter barely had time to rise into a defensive stance before the youma herself was upon her.
The first swipe of Asphara's black blades was far faster than the Senshi had anticipated. A lock of hair tumbled from her head, evidence that her dodge had not been quite fast enough. The youma general smiled, and pressed the attack. This time Jupiter was prepared, and easily dodged the first two strikes.
The third was too fast, and Jupiter was forced to block the sharp bone with her gloved forearm. The strange fabric was tougher than it looked, but Asphara still drew blood. Still, it was better than losing a hand, and perhaps her life.
Asphara backed off slightly. She raised her arm to her face, licking the flecks of blood off the bone. "You taste good," she said, smirking.
Jupiter grimaced and took the offensive. She landed a strong punch to the youma's gut, but Asphara didn't seemed fazed. A sideways swipe of her bladed arms was all it took to force Jupiter to retreat. Still grinning, Asphara attacked, and the Senshi had no choice but to keep backing up.
When she was only a few steps from the wall, she leapt upward instead of continuing her retreat. Her magically boosted muscles propelled her far higher than was possible for a normal human, and she landed lightly on the rooftop of the building behind her. Asphara seemed amused. "Do you think that will save you, Senshi?" she asked, and with a beat of her powerful black wings, she took to the air once more.
The demoness again moved far faster than Jupiter had expected. She had no time to launch her magics, but a plan came to her. Without wasting time on thought, she leapt again, directly at Asphara. Her boot planted itself firmly on the youma's face, sending her spiraling toward the ground. Snarling, the youma righted herself with another beat of her wings.
Jupiter had no such option and landed poorly. When she tried to rise her legs gave way, and she fell back into a kneeling position. Asphara laughed and landed a few feet away. "You lose, Senshi." Her bone blades swung at Jupiter's head.
Jupiter caught one blade in each hand. Asphara's eyes widened in shock, and she tried to pull away. Jupiter's hands were on fire with pain. She could feel dark energy and poison seeping into her wounds, but she tightened her grip. "No," she said. "I win.
"Try you?" Jadeite asked with a laugh. "I have already taken your measure, my Prince, and found it wanting. The only question is how long I will choose to take killing you."
Endymion shifted his stance slightly. That was all the warning the Dark General had before Endymion attacked. Jadeite raised his sword of fire to block. For a moment, the blades were locked, and they tested each other's strength. Then Jadeite's sword was forced aside, and Endymion's struck downward, hardly slowed. The general darted out of the way, but the tip of the sword scored a light scratch across his chest.
"You'll find I have hidden strengths," Endymion said.
Jadeite smiled. "As do I." His sword vanished and he extended his hands, fire gathering in them. "Hellfire!" A pillar of white flame hurled itself at the Prince. Endymion brought his cloak around to shield himself, but still the attack knocked him back against a wall. He almost went through it, but then the fire died out and he slumped to the ground, sword falling from limp hands.
Jadeite advanced on his fallen foe, a wide grin on his face. "You have no idea how many thousands of years I've been waiting for this, my Prince." He laughed. "I might even have to thank Metallia for this chance."
"Save your thanks," Endymion said, a rose leaving his hands with a crack like thunder. The unlikely-seeming projectile flew straight and fast at the general's face.
Jadeite's gloved hand moved faster, snatching the flower mere inches from his face. For a moment he stared at the rose, a deep red that was almost black. "Worthless," was all he said.
Then he screamed, as golden lightning burst from the stem of the rose, crackling all over his body. "Surprise," Endymion grunted as he forced himself to rise. His sword almost leaped to his hand, and he charged.
Jadeite tried to dodge, but the blade still took him in the shoulder, almost severing the arm. Endymion drew black the blade for another strike, but Jadeite attacked first. His uninjured arm, wreathed in flames, struck at Endymion's armored chest. The blow staggered his foe, and Jadeite snarled, his hand going to his wound. Black flames washed over it, and when he removed his hand the bleeding had stopped.
"I'm through playing with you," he said. Darkness boiled off of him, streamers of blackness reaching hungrily for his foe. He removed the Void Diamond from his uniform jacket, and it shone darkly in his hand. Endymion threw another rose, but it withered away to dust as it neared Jadeite. The general smiled. "Die, my Prince."
Like hungry jaws, walls of darkness rose from the tortured pavement beneath Endymion. Even the Ginzuishou's silver light, shining from the Princess's confrontation with Metallia, could not penetrate the blackness. As the darkness snapped shut, something seemed to move in the void it created, something hungry. For an instant, Jadeite was almost disturbed. Then he laughed, reveling in the power he had summoned.
Until the darkness shattered, revealing Endymion standing no worse for the wear. "I am not ready to die yet, Guardian."
Jadeite froze in shock, and his aura of blackness vanished, the now truly dark Void Diamond almost slipping from his hands. "How?"
Endymion smiled as he threw himself forward, his sword headed for Jadeite's neck. "You missed. Again."
Jadeite stumbled backward to avoid the blow, snarling as he remembered how he had somehow failed to kill Tuxedo Mask during the fateful battle at the airport. He again summoned his fiery blade, blocking Endymion's next strike. "You have more lives than a mooncat, wretch. I swear I will be there when they run out."
Endymion only laughed.
Sailor Saturn slowly stirred, her mind afire with conflicting thoughts and emotions. Part of her wanted to just curl up into a ball and wait for the turmoil to subside, but both sides to the conflict were in firm agreement that action was called for. She slowly rose, her hand unthinkingly reaching for the haft of her glaive.
The cool metal warmed instantly under her touch, and the weapon resonated with a silent hum of welcome that she knew no other could hear. Its immense, restrained power offered itself to her, as always eager to be unleashed. Unlike the warring impulses in her mind, it did not seem to care where it was directed, and the confused Senshi took some comfort in that.
She ignored the lesser confrontations, focusing instantly on the massive spectacle of magical power that was the battle between Metallia and the Princess. Dozens of beams of silver and darkness lanced through the air from one to the other, each instantly and perfectly blocked by its opposite. Neither seemed to have noticed her awakening. Saturn could easily tell that the elder Serenity was holding back, toying with her heir.
Part of her knew this meant that her interference was not necessary, and that she should attend to the other fights, knowing that her Queen's victory was inevitable. The other side of her felt equally strongly that this meant that she must intervene at once, before her Princess could be overpowered. Torn between the conflicting impulses, Saturn stood paralyzed, and the comforting music of the Silence Glaive turned frenzied and impatient.
A lucky silver beam darted past Metallia's initial defenses, to be stopped inches from her face by a dark shield that instantly sprung into existence. In retaliation, waves of dark fire poured over the Princess, barely diverted by the flickering silver aura she summoned. Saturn smiled at this, and half of her raged at the simple expression. The Silence Glaive vibrated in her hand, again demanding to be used.
It was far too quiet for any of distracted combatants to hear, but Saturn's unnaturally keen ears picked up the sound of footsteps approaching along the rooftops. As they neared, her gaze rose to meet them. Then, all her inner turmoil finally ceased.
For an instant, both sides of her were united in pure rage and the desire to kill. Here were foes she felt no resistance to facing, and she leapt into the air instantly, the Silence Glaive's howl of triumph resonating soundlessly in her ears. As she passed over the conflict between Metallia and the Princess, the weakened impulses she now knew to be foreign to her fled, leaving only what she was certain were her true loyalties.
She landed lightly on the rooftop, intercepting the newcomers before they could get a clear picture of the battles below. Her glaive whirled in a low arc, almost removing one of the two's legs at the knees. They retreated slightly, bringing their own weapons up into defensive positions.
"Oh, this is just wonderful," Aphrodite said as her blade began to glow with a golden light.
"Watch yourself," was all Zeus said as the two moved in to attack.
Sailor Saturn grinned, feeling as joyful as her weapon. "Die, Champions."
As Saturn leapt overhead, Metallia glanced upward to follow her path, and saw who it was she attacked. A disturbingly wide smile appeared on her face. "Good girl," she said, in the same tone of voice one would use to compliment a pet.
Princess Serenity risked a glance backward, and she trembled at what she saw. For an instant, her defenses faltered. Metallia pressed her advantage, striking the Princess a half-dozen times with weak, deliberately glancing strikes. "Pay attention," the Queen said mockingly. "I'm your opponent."
The Princess's gaze quickly returned forward, and she managed to stave off the next wave of attacks. Still, she could feel herself beginning to tire. The last time she had fought Metallia she had enjoyed the support of all the Senshi and Champions, and been evenly matched. Now she was alone and struggling though Metallia had not unleashed even a quarter of the power she had shown at Castle Charon. The dark queen was toying with her.
"She will be mine forever, you realize," Metallia said. "The weak Hotaru you knew is gone, and only my slave remains."
The Princess's eyes narrowed. "I will free her."
Metallia laughed. "Futile hopes are only weakness, girl. You will fail."
"No," Princess Serenity said. She steeled herself and drew forth what little power she still held in reserve, flinging another silver bolt at her foe.
"Because you believe?" Metallia asked. "In love? In friendship? In trust?"
Princess Serenity's eyes widened. In their final battle that seemed so very long ago, Beryl - or had it truly been Metallia? - had asked her those same questions. Now, she gave the same reply.
"Yes," she answered. "I still believe." Nothing in her many battles had changed that.
"Fool," Metallia said. "They are nothing but illusions. There is nothing but strength and weakness. But you believe, and because of that you are weak." She smiled. "You will learn, though. Tell me, do you believe their love helped your false family escape the youma I sent to kill them?"
For an instant, Princess Serenity froze. Her dress evaporated, replaced by her Senshi uniform as she faltered. Metallia's darkness closed in, and Sailor Moon numbly raised the Ginzuishou again, summoning forth a weak defense. Strange emotions churned in her. Not even when Beryl's youma had slain the other Senshi before her eyes had she felt this way.
It was pure rage, she realized, and her numb disbelief fell away before it. As her anger overtook her, her defenses faltered again, and the Ginzuishou grew dim and lifeless in her hands. Metallia attacked again, beams of pure oblivion racing to obliterate her.
Sailor Moon screamed her fury to the black heavens, and poured it into the dull gem she still held aloft, forcing it to obey her will. Silver-tinged darkness sprung from the Ginzuishou, consuming Metallia's attack and continuing onward. Metallia raised a shield, but still was thrown backward by the force of the onslaught.
Metallia laughed, and Sailor Moon saw what she had done. She shuddered, and her attack vanished, the Ginzuishou almost dropping from her suddenly shaking hands. Metallia applauded, laughing again. "Wonderful! I see that I have much less to teach you than I had feared."
Sailor Moon fell to her knees, unable to force herself to stand.
Metallia smiled. "I will grant you a reward for the pleasant surprise, Princess. Your companions may keep their lives." She gestured, and Asphara and Jadeite appeared at her side in flickers of darkness and flame. The youma was barely able to stand, but Jadeite only looked furious to have been interrupted. "Hotaru!" Metallia called sharply after a moment.
The Senshi broke off her battle with the Champions above, jumping backward to land slightly behind the Queen. Her face was smooth, but her eyes showed her to be even less pleased than Jadeite to be called away. She did not even glance at the kneeling Sailor Moon.
"Champions!" Metallia said, looking upward at Zeus and Aphrodite. "You should thank the Princess, for due to the potential she has shown me today I will grant you a great gift. You alone among your kind will be allowed to survive my victory and serve me."
"You haven't won yet," Zeus said harshly.
"Is that so?" Metallia laughed a final time, then she and her companions vanished.
Author's Random Ramblings
1) This chapter took... longer than expected. Hopefully at least a few people out there remember this story. In a not unrelated matter, this is one of the few chapters for which completed but unused scenes exist - including one which I actually dropped for being too dark, believe it or not. I may decide to release it as an extra.
2) Any and all comments of any sort are most welcome.
3) As ever, many thanks go to Angus MacSpon for prereading this story.
4) The previous chapters of this story and its prequel, Shades of Gray, can be found at my website - http://www.mimiru.net/
Started: October 23, 2004
Draft Finished: June 12, 2005
Draft Released: June 26, 2005
Final Released: June 30, 2005