Continuing Tales

Fatal Exposure

A Sailor Moon Story
by Meara

Part 12 of 13

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Fatal Exposure

Yoshi surveyed the growing crowd with a sense of fierce, marital joy. They were going to show the rest of the world how to deal with the threat that these aliens posed by their very existence. He didn't believe for a minute the happy little story of goodness and self-sacrifice that Tsukino Usagi had told the world.

Yoshi had seen with his own eyes the kind of power she and her band of warriors had at their disposal. No one used that kind of power only to defend. He knew that it was only a matter of time before these aliens moved to subjugate all of humanity.

Yoshi all ready knew what others had not yet come to realize. This was war; a war that could have only one outcome. In order for mankind to survive, Tsukino Usagi and the other aliens had to die.

This was the seminal moment of Yoshi's life. He was a man who had been raised on the stories of his noble ancestors. From the time he was a small child, his father had instilled in him a sense of pride in his heritage and a sense that he was different, better than those around him.

His family was both samurai and daimyo. Until the barbarians from the west had come and "opened" Japan to the rest of the world at gunpoint, his family had been very important. They had lost their power and lands over the long years of the 20th century. Yoshi was going to change all that.

He was going to restore Japan (and not so coincidentally his family) to greatness. He would be the great leader to emerge in this time of crisis. His example would force people to realize that they needed to be guided by the superior wisdom inherent in the old and noble families. His most cherished dream was about to come true. All he needed do was have the fortitude to see this thing through to the end.

After today, nothing would ever be the same again.

Father Sullivan watched the newly married couple kiss with a smile. In his many years as a priest, he'd married dozens of people. He liked to say that there was a special glow to newly married couples. But as Father Sullivan looked closer, he found that Usagi and Mamoru were really, truly, glowing. Silver and golden light came from their joined hands. It pulsed, flowing about them like a living river.

"Incredible," he said before he could stop himself. "How do you do that?"

Blushing, Usagi brought a hand to her mouth to stifle a giggle. Mamoru blushed too, having forgotten for a moment they weren't alone. He cleared his throat and gave the priest his most engaging smile.

"Magic," he answered with a wink. "I think we'd better be going now."

Standing on tiptoe, the new Mrs. Chiba gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. "We'll never forget you, Father. Thank you for helping us."

"You are most welcome, my dear." Father Sullivan's thick Irish brogue made his Japanese hard to understand for Usagi. "Away with you, now."

A younger priest dressed in the traditional black cassock came running in from a side entrance. "Father Sullivan, there are soldiers, armed soldiers outside! They demand we let them in to the church to search for…"

His voice trailed off as he got a good look at Usagi and Mamoru. The couple still glowed faintly, she in her white dress and he in the black tuxedo.

"Not while I am pastor of this parish they won't!" Father Sullivan turned to the newlyweds, his face set and determined, "Stay here in the chapel and don't come outside. You'll be safe as long as you stay inside the church."

"Sanctuary?" asked Mamoru. "Do you really think that those outside will respect that?" The tone of voice intimated that he found that prospect unlikely.

Usagi reached out to touch the older man's arm, "What are you going to do? You can't go out there alone."

The old priest smiled sadly, patting Usagi's arm gently, "Child, I have served my Lord for almost fifty years now. If nothing else, I've learned that I'm never alone because He walks before me. Now stay here and let me see what I can do to stop this madness."

Usagi was about to protest again but Mamoru gave her hand a squeeze. She looked at him and he shook his head.

"Let him go, Usako." Mamoru knew that the best the old priest could do was buy them a few minutes to formulate some kind of plan. "Father Sullivan, thank you for trying to help."

The Senshi ran with reckless abandon across the city the called home. They had split into two groups before leaving the control room. This way, if one was stopped, the other should be able to get to Usagi andMamoru (hopefully) in time to help them.

The eight warriors who comprised the Inner and Outer Senshi hadn't always seen eye to eye. There had been friction between the two groups over the years, but the one thing that invariably drew them back together was their devotion to their Princess and Prince.

The So ldiers of the inner planets followed Minako as they dashed towards St. Jude's church. The Outer Senshi followed Hotaru. They each approached from a different direction, both geographically and psychologically.

The Inners would try to distract, to give Usagi and Mamoru a chance to slip away before anyone was hurt. The Senshi of the Inner Planets knew Usagi too well. She always saw the goodness in people, always believed in it with all her heart. The Tsukino Usagi they knew would not want to be saved at the cost of other lives.

The Outers were, by nature and circumstance, much more pragmatic. They planned to get their Prince and Princess back no matter what it took. If people of evil intent got in their way, then they would be dealt with. It was, to them, a matter of simple justice. The only ones hurt would be those who brought it on themselves.

Major Kaigan looked at the scene around him and cursed softly. He'd brought about two dozen, well trained, well armed men with him. He was a professional soldier, trained to carry out his duty as laid out to him by his superior officers. He was also a man schooled in the ancient Japanese code of military honor, bushido.

The conflict between the two had caused to indirectly disobey an order all ready. He'd let Chiba Mamoru and his associates take Meiou Setsuna from the hospital. The General in charge had just about reamed him a new one after they got away, but Kaigan had been secretly relieved. This was wrong, his heart told him. In taking innocent people into "protective custody" he was betraying the code of honor he'd lived his life by.

The crowd of protestors milled about restlessly just outside the barricades that had been set up. They forced the Major to concentrate on the demands of the moment and put his ethical concerns aside.

There were at least three hundred people, maybe more. If he didn't move to take control of the situation now, a riot was about to ensue. He reached into the jeep beside him and took the microphone in hand. A flip of a switch gave him enough volume and power to be heard by even those in the back of the mob.

"This is an illegal demonstration! By order of the Prime Minister, you are to leave this area at once. Failure to comply will result in arrest! Leave now!"

"No!" shouted the leader of the mob through a bullhorn. "Not until we have that alien bitch and her traitorous human lover! We demand they be brought out of the foreign church now."

Major Kaigan knew that he had to make some kind of move or the crowd would go berserk. He motioned to one of his men, who loaded a rifle with a canister of tear gas. A nod told the man to fire when he was ready.

The door to the church opened and an elderly priest in a black cassock rushed down the stairs. He saw the soldier with the rifle aim at one of the stained glass windows. With a speed that gave lie to his years, Father Sullivan lunged for the man and managed to deflect the shot at the last moment.

It careened off course and smashed through one of the windows in the vestibule. Smoke lazily drifted out towards the crowd, evidence that the charge has gone off.

Two soldiers grabbed for the priest, but the Major waved them back. He could see the media, cameras running, broadcasting all of this. The last thing Japan needed was for the world to see an old man pushed around by the army!

"What are you doing, Father?" asked the Major.

Father Sullivan faced the officer, righteous indignation on his weathered face. "Me? What in the name of heaven do you think you're doing? This is a church, not a battlefield and I am not about to let it become one."

Major Kaigan felt more and more disgusted with this whole affair the longer it dragged on. "You are harboring two people in your church for whom I have valid arrest warrants. You must turn them over to me immediately."

The elderly priest crossed his arms over his chest, "Not bloody likely, son. They are currently under the seal of sanctuary and that means under the protection of the Roman Catholic Church. Unless you want to risk an international incident with the Vatican, I suggest you withdraw from here."

The Major was at his wits end. "Don't you understand what's going on here? If you don't let me take Chiba Mamoru and Tsukino Usagi into protective custody that mob will kill them."

"I understand all too well what's going on here." Father Sullivan turned his back on the Major and marched to the front stairs of St. Jude's church. This was the seminal moment of his life. His heart pounded in fear.

A passage from scripture echoed in his mind. No greater love hath a man, than that he should lay down his life for his brother.

Father Francis Sullivan turned to face the soldiers, the mob and the assembled media. "This church is holy ground," he called out in as loud a voice as he could manage. "I will not allow God's house to be violated. You get in here only by going through me."

No one could say exactly where it came from. They only heard the sharp report of a gun and saw the old priest fall. Major Kaigan was closest to Father Sullivan and ran for him.

"Then we'll go through you, gajin!" a voice from the crowd called out, "Where is your God now?"

The life was fading from the priest's eyes as Major Kaigan got to him. He knelt down beside the dying man and the priest grabbed him by the arm.

"…in the church…save them." His hand fell away and with a sigh of, "Oh my Jesus, mercy," Father Francis Sullivan passed from this life.

Major Kaigan had seen his share of death but this shocked him in a way he hadn't thought possible anymore. He rose to try and take charge of a situation that rapidly spiraling out of control. The Major didn't notice the smoke starting to pour out from under the front door of the church.

The canister of tear gas had careened through a window in the vestibule of the church. It landed near a pile of old paper bulletins leftover from the previous Sunday. The canister released its contents with a slow hiss.

The heat engendered by this release caused the papers nearest it to smoke, then slowly start to burn. The flames devoured the sheets of printed paper then moved onto the vestments that hung on a nearby rack. Within minutes the room was ablaze.

The old and well oiled wood that made up the flooring and the pews fed the fire. By the time it burst into the main body of St. Jude's there was no way to stop it.

For a long moment after Father Sullivan left Mamoru and Usagi held each other silently. Without being told, they both knew that the storm that had been brewing since their public identities had been revealed was about to erupt violently.

Usagi also knew that whatever happened, a power as great as that of the ginzuishou could not be allowed to fall into the wrong hands. If necessary, she would seal it inside herself before… the end. That thought made her shiver.

Mamoru sensed the turmoil in Usagi's heart and placed his chin on her head. "Father Sullivan's a good man, but up against impossible odds. We're going to have to make a run for it."

Usagi sighed and looked at the white dress still adorning her body. "I supposed that means I should change out of my wedding gown and into my going away outfit, ne?"

Mamoru could see the fear hidden beneath the humor. He took his new wife's hand and turning the palm up, placed a tender kiss on her wrist.

"Yes, but take your time Usako," he waggled his eyebrows at her in a lecherous fashion. "I do so love to see you without any clothes on!"

"Mamo-chan!" she laughed. "You are shameless!"

Running his hand slowly up her arm, Mamoru pulled Usagi into a dip and leaned over her, "Wait until tonight and I'll show you just how shameless I can be, wife."

She looked into his endless midnight blue eyes as he placed her back on her feet, "I'll hold you to that, husband."

Usagi put a hand on her locket and called out her henshin phrase. The light came, filling her with power. It transfigured her with an intensity she had not experienced before. For an instant there was a siren call in her mind that Usagi found hard to resist. The fear and pain of the last few days caught up with her.

The memories of the bliss she'd felt when she achieved balance with the ginzuishou overwhelmed her. For a fraction of a second Usagi wanted nothing more than to feel that way again. It would be so easy to do.

"Usako?" Mamoru looked at Usagi with concern. Her fuku was silver, like the light from the Ginzuishou now, no longer holding any other color. Her henshin was complete but Usagi still stood with her eyes closed. "Usako?" he called again, louder this time.

His voice reached her and Usagi opened her eyes. Mamoru looked at her with concern, "Are you all right? What happened?"

"Nothing, I'm okay," she lied to him.

Mamoru knew she wasn't telling him the truth, but let it go. Together they headed out the door and down the small windowless hall towards the main body of the church. The air held the smell of smoke that only got stronger as they went. Usagi and Mamoru exchanged a worried glance.

When they reached the final door, Usagi grabbed for Tuxedo Kamen's arm to stop him from opening it.

"Look…" Dark gray smoke was pouring in from the crack at the bottom of the door. Even as they watched, the gray smoke became black, heavy and oily.

Tuxedo Kamen touched the wooden panels and found them hot. Cursing softly, he motioned for Usagi to get well back. Raising his cape to cover his most of his face, he cracked the door open ever so slightly.

More than half the church was ablaze. Fire had run up the walls and was consuming the ceiling even as it ate into the floors. Mamoru slammed the door shut and turned to look back at Usagi.

"I don't suppose there's another way out?" she asked, although she all ready knew the answer. His eyes told her just how bad the situation was. "I didn't think so."

Tuxedo Kamen took off his cape and put it around Eternal Sailor Moon's shoulders. "You've got a lot more exposed skin than I do, so keep this wrapped around you as tightly as you can. We've got to head straight across the room and go for the large window. Keep moving, don't stop."

Usagi looked up into his eyes and held Mamoru's gaze, "Promise me that what ever happens, we'll be together."

Mamoru pulled her close, "I love you, Usako," he told her, "I promise, together, whatever happens."

How had it all come to this, Major Kaigan wondered? The church behind him burned out of control. The crowd in front of him burned with hatred so bright it dwarfed the conflagration in back of him.

After the Priest had fallen the mob had turned its rage on anything and everything within reach. Cars were over turned, windows were smashed, and opportunists who had joined the crowd were looting shops. Between the protestors, the media covering the protestors and those who simply came to see what the noise was about, there had to be hundreds of people jamming the small area around St. Jude's.

The whole situation had rapidly degenerated into a riot which Major Kaigan and his troops could do nothing to stop. With less than thirty armed men, they best they could do was try and defend themselves from the madness that raged around them. Worst of all, live pictures of Japan's shame were being broadcast for the world to see.

Something at the edge of his peripheral vision grabbed the Major's attention. He whirled to see two figures crash through one of the church's large stained glass windows and into the street. They landed on the unforgiving asphalt and tumbled to a rough halt, still clinging to each other.

Slowly, they stirred and rose. The black cape fell away from Eternal Sailor Moon, showing burns on her arms and legs. Tuxedo Kamen reached for her. There were burns on his hands and face, the once white gloves, scorched in places.

The mob saw them and like a mindless, hungry beast turned its attention towards the two. An explosion from the burning church shook the ground. Chucks of flaming wreckage sailed through the air, landing in the midst of the mob. People screamed in pain and fear. A second explosion ripped through the structure. This time metal shrapnel was included in the debris.

"What's going on?" Usagi cried out.

Mamoru threw himself on top of Usagi trying to shield her from further harm. Raising his head ever so slightly, Tuxedo Kamen gasped. What he saw made his blood run cold.

"Oh no…"

Usagi saw what he did. St. Jude's was an old church. Like many buildings it depended on a propane fuel source for heating. Stacked side by side were a dozen large canisters of the extremely flammable gas. The fire was creeping ever closer. Some of the smaller tanks had all ready ruptured. That was what had caused the first two explosions. When the fire reached those larger tanks…

People, hundreds of people, would die in the ensuing explosion.

Usagi looked at Mamoru. They had the same thought in the same instant. Helping her up, he pulled her into his arms one last time "Together, whatever happens."

Usagi stepped away from him and cupped her hand in front of her. The Ginzuishou came to her calling, spinning in lazy circles. She raised it above her head in a graceful motion.

It was all too easy to find the perfect balance with the crystal and she slipped into it almost without trying. The mystic energies were part of Usagi now and she glowed like a living star.

Her injuries healed and she was filled with a false sense of limitless power. Usagi was unaware of the moment that her fuku melted away into the flowing white dress that marked her as the rightful heir to the magic at her command.

The gown seemed to be made of the same light as the crystal. It flowed and shifted, translucent in an invisible breeze. The ginzuishou lowered itself to pulse before her heart. Usagi brought her arms down from above her head in a sweeping motion, then threw them open wide. A barrier, as ethereal as moonlight, but a solid as stone rose between the burning church and the people around it. The barrier grew, forming a dome. Within it Usagi opened herself fully to the power of the ginzuishou.

It burned brightly in her with a fire that brought no pain. All of her anguish, all of her worries were no longer of consequence. There was only the endless, exquisite power that used her as much as she used it.

Through the bond they shared, Mamoru could feel Usagi losing herself in the seductive call of the ultimate magic of the Silver Millennium. "Usako!" he shouted at her. "Don't give in! Stay with me!"

"Mamo-chan," Usagi moaned his name softly, her voice distant. Her awareness of him faded in and out. Usagi was quickly becoming enthralled. Soon she would be forever lost in the compelling, encompassing song of power.

The last crown prince of earth called on his own birthright, the golden crystal. From where it hid inside him, the stone burst to life. Mamoru could feel the steady, slow heartbeat of the world under his feet. This was the power of Earth, solid, steadfast and unshakable. Closing his eyes in concentration, Mamoru anchored part of his soul in the earth. The other part reached out to his eternal love.

He soared free of his body and his inner sight lead him to Usagi's soul. She floated, suspended in the center of a column of silver fire. He could see the light absorbing her life energy and redirecting it outward. Mamoru didn't hesitate, but reached his "hand" into the quicksilver inferno grabbing for her. He knew the name of her soul and called for her.

'Serenity, hear me my love'.

The angelic woman in the light took the proffered hand. Her soul's eyes opened as she answered the one call she had never been able to ignore. Usagi floated gently to the ground, Mamoru's earth-born power providing the needed balance for the cosmic energies that raced through her. Her hands, filled with living stardust, pulled Mamoru to her. Her voice in his mind was a song of boundless love.

'Endymion, my beloved, together forever.'

Mamoru fell back into his real world body to find Usagi in his arms. The light still shone from her but she had better control of it now. They kissed, holding each other close while a golden and silver glow filled them. The ground around them undulated and wall of earth, like a blanket of soil, moved towards them.

Behind the lovers the fire reached the propane tanks. What was left of St. Jude's church exploded in a fireball that filled the now silver and golden dome. The barrier shuddered but held as the last of the deadly fury was spent.

The protective dome faded away. The air was immediately saturated with chucks of flying earth, choking dust and soot. People covered their eyes and mouths as a roiling, dark cloud filled the streets.

When the dust settled, when the ash stopped falling, there was only a smoking hole where the building had been. There was no trace left of the structure once known as St. Jude's. There was also no trace left of the two people who given all to stop a disaster.

Tsukino Usagi and Chiba Mamoru were gone. It seemed to those present that they had not survived the cataclysmic end of the old church. People looked at the devastation wrought by the explosion. No one could have lived through that, they knew; no one.

They were too late.

The Inner and Outer Senshi had arrived at opposite ends of the street as the church exploded. They watched in horrified silence as the protective dome disintegrated, as the black cloud of pulverized debris and ash flowed towards them.

Mercury popped her visor into place, both for protection from the gritty ash and to activate the link with her computer. With the single-minded concentration that made her a scholar, Ami scanned the

area. She didn't allow the moans of grief filled denials from her friends to distract her. The readings she got made no sense to her, as if her mind wouldn't comprehend what her eyes told her. Ami continued to punch the computer's small buttons almost frantically.

"No, they have to be here," she whispered as she kept trying to refine the readings, "They can't be gone. I have to find them."

The dust began to settle, but still Mercury kept at her task. She knew that Usagi has used the ginzuishou. The crystal gave off a very distinctive magnetic resonance signature. If she could calibrate the computer to follow a trail…

Rei came up behind Ami, calling her name. Mercury shook her head and kept on working. "They've got to be here somewhere. I know can I find them."

Rei looked at the scorched earth where St. Jude's church had been. A thin vapor still rose from the edges of the pit. In her heart Rei knew there was no way Usagi and Mamoru could have survived the blast.

Rei's voice was tight with grief, "Ami-chan, they're gone. I…."

"There!" Ami cried out. She grabbed at Rei, pulling her along as Mercury ran. "I found them! Come on!"

Mina and Makoto shook themselves from their shock to follow. When they caught up with Ami and Rei, both were on their hands and knees digging frantically at a pile of dirt. Venus and Jupiter joined in, digging with bare hands.

Rei's hand hit something. She gently pushed at the pliant earth. A blond head was just below her hands.

"Usagi!" Rei screamed as she dug harder and faster, "Usagi be alive. Oh Kami-sama, please be alive!"

Usagi and Mamoru lay still entwined in the soft earth that had shielded them from the worst of the blast. Mars felt more than saw the Outer Senshi arrive. Makoto and Rei each took an arm and pulled Usagi free.

Rei grabbed Usagi, pulling her dearest friend into a hug as she called her name. Setsuna was suddenly there to help Mina pull Mamoru clear of the dirt.

Mamoru coughed once and gasped. His ocean blue eyes slowly opened. "Usako…"

In Rei's arms the last Princess of the Silver Millennium stirred at the sound of her beloved's voice. She turned her head, now in Rei's lap to face him "Mamo-chan…"

Mamoru reached out a hand and she took it. "I promised you we'd be together, didn't I?"

She gave a wan smile that lit her dirty face, "Yes you did," she replied squeezing his hand. "Together forever."

The lunar landscape had changed very little in the past one thousand years. The cataclysmic loss of most of the atmosphere had preserved the ruins of the once great kingdom. Since the fall of the Silver Millennium, only a handful of people had ever seen this place.

The two cats that lead the small group of people across the rubble strewn grounds seemed oddly at home. Luna and Artemis led Usagi, Mamoru and the Senshi with unerring precision. Luna finally stopped and looked around.

"This is it," she said to Usagi who came to stand beside her. "The column of prayer was here. Nothing is left now, I'm afraid. It was all destroyed in the battle with Metallia."

Usagi went to a blackened base. Bits of charred, fractured crystal lay on the ground beside it. She placed a hand to one of the shards and it began to glow softly.

"Not destroyed Luna, asleep. Now that we're here I finally understand what my mother meant by that."

"I don't suppose you'd care to enlighten the rest of us?" Mina asked.

"I told all of you that my mother said she'd sent everything and everyone she could into the future. That was what confused me," Usagi said as Mamoru put an arm around her shoulders. "I couldn't understand where she could have hidden an entire kingdom."

Usagi and Mamoru smiled at each other. Once Usagi had figured it out the answer was so absurdly simple it was almost embarrassing.

"Do you remember how the ginzuishou was sent forward?" Mamoru said.

"Sure, it was sealed inside Usagi," Makoto replied at once.

Beside her Ami started to laugh. Those closest to her, Rei and Mina, gave her a look of confusion. "Of course. It all makes perfect sense when you think about it," Ami said. "That's why we've been having those dreams about the Moon Kingdom."

Usagi looked at her friends. "What's a kingdom without its people? Don't you see? The Moon Kingdom is sealed inside her people. That's how I'll know the reborn children of the Moon. They each carry a piece of the Silver Millennium inside them. I suspect the Senshi hold the palace and its immediate grounds."

Usagi looked slowly at all of her friends. "Now that I can achieve balance with the ginzuishou, I have the power to unlock it from inside you."

It was Mamoru's turn to speak. "Haven't you ever wondered what would have happened if Beryl had been unable to get to the Moon Kingdom? Without a way to vent their hatred and anger, the mob she gathered into an army would have fallen apart within a fairly short amount of time."

Haruka could see where this was going. "Just how long do you think a 'short amount of time' is?"

Mamoru shrugged his shoulder, "A year, perhaps two. The way the world is today, if we remove ourselves from the public eye, we'll be forgotten sooner or later."

"Sooner," Minako mused out loud. "The way the news cycle works we'll be old news in a month or so." She gave Usagi and Mamoru a sad look, "Especially since the world thinks that you two are dead."

Usagi shook her head in response, "I know you don't agree, Minako, but for now that's the way it has to be."

"Some of us wondered if it might not be best for all of us to go into hiding," Neptune remarked in a voice that was less a question than a statement. "But now we don't have to try to disappear into another country, do we?"

Usagi looked at Mamoru, then at her friends. "We can come back to the one place where we can truly get away from it all. Now, we have the option of coming home. It's up to all of you, though. If you want to leave the Silver Millennium sealed away, I won't force you to give up the pieces you each hold."

The decision was made before Usagi finished speaking. All of the Senshi, both Inners and Outers tuned to face each other. After all they had been through, a place to call home, a place where they truly belonged sounded too good to be true.

"The Outer Senshi are proud to stand with you Princess," said Hotaru.

Not to be out done, Minako spoke right up, "We've been with you from the beginning, Usagi-chan. We couldn't leave you now. Besides, if it's so trendy to have bi-costal homes then having bi-planetary homes has got to be outrageously chic!"

NASA was the first to notice the strange light coming from the area of the moon known as the sea of Serenity. Observatories across the globe began to report the odd glow. Some thought it was due to sunspots, or perhaps electro-magnetic flux within earth itself.

Since it didn't interrupt satellites and with it television signals, computers and cell phones, most people simply ignored it. The moon was so far away, after all. What ever happened there could hardly affect the lives of people on earth.

Usagi thought she had felt full force of the ginzuishou flowing through her before. But now, here on the moon itself, it sang into wholeness that which had been sundered millennia ago. Usagi could have been easily lost within that kind of cosmic tempest, but for the man who held her hands in his.

He was the reason Usagi didn't allow herself to be burned to a rapturous ash. Mamoru was able to touch her soul, and with his power born of the solid, rock-steady earth, anchored her to the here and now.

The Inner and Outer Senshi were arrayed in a circle that had Usagi and Mamoru at the center. One by one, they linked with each other, combining power. The Imperium Crystal pulsed brightly.

A gentle, silver wave of energy that held the hint of gold at its edges flowed towards the Senshi. It touched Mercury first, and as it did, she gasped at the song of joy that filled her. When the song reached its peak a light came from insider of her. It coalesced and formed a single, small, shard of crystal that floated above her head.

That done, the wave moved to Rei next. One by one each of the Senshi were touched by the great power of the Moon Kingdom. When the last of them, Pluto had been touched, the wave and the shards of crystal raced back to Usagi.

The shards floated inside the energy wave that danced around the young woman clothed in light. With a thought, she sent them to their proper place. The shards, one by one, gently settled into the shattered column of prayer. The blackened base glowed; the column itself grew slightly, renewed by the power returning to it.

"Cosmic…" A light came from the ginzuishou. It poured into the miniature crystal column of prayer.

"…Moon…" The light erupted from the pillar filling the air around them with silver stars.

"…Power…" The stars exploded into dust.


The shimmering powder flowed like water under their feet. In its wake the Moon Castle took shape. Rooms, walls, floors, and everything within those rooms was restored.

The wave of light grew in size, spreading to the grounds around the castle. Life sprang from the previously barren soil. Trees, grass, bushes and a profusion of flowers appeared. Water, which had slept inside the moon, was released. With a roar, the sea of Serenity was truly an ocean once more. A fresh wind blew under the protective dome that formed.

On earth, the Moon Kingdom's re-born citizens felt their world rise from its ancient slumber. They had been scattered by the power that sent them into the future and a new life. They were of every race and creed, part of every nation on earth. For one moment, they all stopped, as if someone had called them by name, and turned to look at they sky.

A half remembered dream of other places, other lives began to surface. Even as they went back to what they had been doing, there was a warm feeling that lingered in their hearts. The awakening had begun.

For the first time in a thousand years, the sound of laughter and happy, excited voices rang across the surface of the moon. The door to the great castle were open and the heirs to a renewed empire emerged.

Usagi and Mamoru were the last ones to come out. The Prince of Earth had an arm around a shaky Usagi to support her. They paused at the head of the stairs, more to give Usagi a chance to steady herself than anything else.

Mina looked up the two people she called friends and a something took hold of her. It was as if she was seeing the completion of a dream she'd only partially remembered all her life. Minako, Princess of Venus and Leader of the Inner Senshi knew with heart stopping joy that she had been waiting her whole life for this very moment.

Minako raised her eyes to Usagi and Mamoru. "Hail Serenity," she called out on a strong voice, "Queen of the Moon Kingdom! Hail Endymion, her King!"

One by one, the Senshi, both Inner and Outer, took up the refrain. For a moment, it surprised Usagi into shock. Mamoru gave her shoulders a gentle squeeze and she looked up at him.

"Hail Serenity," he whispered to her, "Queen of the Silver Millennium."

Their eyes locked as she said to him. "Hail Endymion, my beloved and my King."

From a short distance away, the ghostly outline of the now Dowager Queen of the Moon Kingdom watched as her daughter and her husband received the accolades of their friends. Though the dark forces had tried to prevent this moment, all was as it should be. The path to the future had been set in motion.

The Silver Millennium was restored. The Moon Kingdom lived once again. She was grateful that her Master had allowed her to be here to see this moment. The light behind her flared as the summons for her return came. Selene willingly answered the call, pausing only to give the new Monarchs of the White Moon Kingdom one last look filled with love.

The road ahead would be long and hard. It would test each of those she glanced at in ways they couldn't imagine. But, Selene knew, as long as they believed in each other, as long as they loved each other, there was still hope.

She called out with her heart as she disappeared into the light. "Onward to the future, my dear ones."

"Onward to the future."

Fatal Exposure

A Sailor Moon Story
by Meara

Part 12 of 13

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