Continuing Tales

Fatal Exposure

A Sailor Moon Story
by Meara

Part 2 of 13

<< Previous     Home     Next >>
Fatal Exposure

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not our stars, but in ourselves…"

"Julius Caesar", Act One

Mamoru came at her with an evil gleam in his eyes. He held up a long, slender needle that flashed it as it caught the light. The raven-haired man leaned over the young woman who shrank back from him in fear.

"I have you now, my fine beauty. Your blood is mine, Bwahahaha!" he laughed, madly.

Usagi used her other hand to whack Mamoru once on the shoulder. "Stop that," she hissed at him. "Just take the sample and get it over with!"

Mamoru laughed as he kissed his fiancé once on the top of her golden hair. "Come on, Usako, I've always wanted to play the mustache twirling villain. For years, every time I made one of my entrance speeches, it was like I was giving a lecture in invertebrate biology. They never listened to me."

"I always listened," responded Usagi with stars in her eyes. "You were wonderful each and every time."

Mamoru poked at the vein in the crook of her elbow experimentally with his index finger. "You know once, just once," he mumbled as he took the blood sample, "I wanted to be able to tell someone like Beryl, 'bite me, drama queen' and then laugh insanely. Unfortunately, I never got the chance."

Usagi had closed her eyes tightly while Mamoru took the required sample. "I don't like to think about some of things I said in those early days." The two had spent many an evening playing 'dumb hero lines', trying to decide which one of them had said the most outrageous thing to a villain. "Hey, you got off some good ones. My favorite was always…"

"No!" moaned Mamoru, "Not the 'You have used your drum for evil' line! I swear, woman you abuse me shamelessly."

"Abuse? Excuse me," replied Usagi as Mamoru put a band-aid on the site of the injection, "have I stuck you with a sharp needle lately?

Placing the pre-printed identification sticker on the vial, Mamoru put it in a small rack. He stripped off the latex gloves and tossed them into the trash. "Aww, poor baby. Tell Dr. Chiba where it hurts."

"It hurts here," Usagi pointed to her arm as she stood up, then to her lips with a sly smile, "And here, too. Think you can kiss it and make it better?"

Taking Usagi's arm, he placed a single, light kiss just above the band-aid. She gave a delighted shiver and sighed as he pulled her close. He tilted Usagi's head up as he whispered, "And now about those lips…"

Mamoru felt Usagi's arms slide around his waist, the slowly up his back as he kissed her. Their relationship had moved into the physical as Usagi matured emotionally. It had been hell on Mamoru to wait, but he loved his Usako too much to rush her.

He had always known that she had a loving heart but the depth of her passion for him sometimes still surprised him. In typical Usagi fashion, having tasted the joys of an adult relationship, and deciding she liked it, she couldn't get enough of it.

Usagi's hands now reached toward his head, pulling him to her as she molded herself to his body. It was an aggressive action that made him forget where he was for a moment. Mamoru's hormones took over as his brain shut down. He lifted her off the ground and together they fell backwards onto the couch.

"Mamo-chan," she whispered in his ear, nibbling on it. "Are you off duty now? Because if you aren't, I'm going to have to kidnap you."

He was slowly placing kisses down the length of long and lovely neck, "Yes, oh thank you God. Yes, I am off duty now."

They stumbled up from the couch and Mamoru took her face in his hands giving his beloved a long, slow kiss. "Would you like to come to my place for a little dinner?"

Her blue eyes sparkled with mischief, "Actually, I'd rather start with dessert."

They headed for the side door to the parking lot so that the staff of Tokyo General Hospital wouldn't be treated to the very unusual sight of Doctor Chiba running for his car, blonde in tow. The sound of their laughter, and the door slamming behind them, caught the attention of a graduate student by the name of Kashu Hikaru, who was in the lab.

He looked around, but only saw the back of a rapidly disappearing white lab coat. Usagi's blood sample sat alone in the rack that would send it for the required tests. Kashu picked it up and smiled to himself. The lab had technically closed half an hour ago, but one of the residents had asked to use it to draw some blood for routine college admissions health testing for a family member or someone.

Good, he thought. The vial was full. There would more than enough for the required tests and some left over. The young woman who had just run out the door certainly seemed healthy. Her blood sample would help Kashu complete the preliminary work on his doctoral dissertation.

He looked at the vial, smiling at his stroke of good luck. His night was looking up, after all.

If you had ever told Usagi that the day would come when she actually enjoyed school, she would have suggested that you have your medication adjusted. Here she was though, in the middle of her sophomore year, staring at her name as it appeared on the list of students who had achieved honors during the last semester.

"I don't believe it," she said to herself.

"Don't believe what, Usagi-chan?" Kino Makoto had been coming back from an afternoon lecture when she spotted her friend simply standing in front on the rank board, looking up at it. Never one to miss an opportunity to indulge her curiosity, Makoto simply had to see what held Usagi in such a stupor.

"Did someone beat Ami for top of the class?" she asked in a jovial manner.

The young woman with the sunshine hair batted her large blue eyes incredulously as she said, "I made Dean's list."

"No way!" Makoto leaned forward and ran a finger down the list of names. Sure enough, right where it belonged, between "S" and "U", was the name Tsukino, Usagi. Beside it was a tiny gold star that signified that she was at the top ten percent of the class.

"Oh my God!" shouted Mako, "You made DEAN'S LIST!" She began to jump up and down as she grabbed at her friend.

Usagi also started to jump as the reality of the situation began to sink in. The two of them shrieked like monkeys for a long minute before finally settling back down to Earth.

"I wish I had a camera," said Usagi as they huffed for breath. "Rei will never believe this if I don't have photographic proof."

Grabbing for her friends arm, Mako began to pull her toward a nearby door. "I think I may know a way to accomplish that."

The over worked secretary in the large, poorly lit office managed a wan smile when the two exuberant young woman entered. As the taller of the two blurted out in a polite manner what they were after, the secretary pointed out the small pile of copies she'd made when the honors list was posted earlier in the day.

The woman had been working at the University long enough to save herself days of running back and forth to copier. Students always wanted to be able to send home proof that they'd actually made the honor roll. There was something about these two, though, that caught her attention and she brightened.

"Which one of you made the list?" she asked.

The tall, auburn haired one put an arm around the blonde's shoulder. "My friend here did! And it's her first time!"

"Well, congratulations Miss…?"

"Tsukino. Tsukino Usagi," replied the young woman with the large blue eyes. She had an infectious smile and was fairly bursting with pride.

"Congratulations, Usagi," the secretary smiled back at her. "I hope this is the first of many time you make the list."

They two thanked the woman politely and danced out the door with their prize in hand. They nearly ran into a man who was coming in the door just as they exited. His gaze followed the beautiful students out the door before he went into the office.

There was something in the way he walked that caught the secretary's attention. There was an arrogance in the way he moved that she recognized at once. It told her that this was a man who held himself in the highest regard and above everyone else. After spending the better part of twenty years working in academia, she knew the type all too well. His voice clinched it for her.

"I was told that you could assist me. I am looking for a student here at the University." Even while the man spoke to her, he never removed his sunglasses. His suit was Armani, expensive with a silk tie done in an old school pattern. The words flashed through her mind almost reflexively.

Rich, spoiled, entitled.

"I'm sorry, sir," she responded flatly (hoping he'd get the hint and go away), "But we can't give out personal information on students."

He flashed brilliantly white teeth at her as he gave he his most charming smile. "This is different. My name is Doctor Kashu and I'm with the University's research program on the Human Genome Project. It's imperative I find one of our participants in the project."

The young Doctor reached into his creaseless suit and produced a small paper. "This should clear up any confusion. It's a note from President Hitashi clearing me to check student records."

"Very well, Kashu-san" nodded the secretary, "How may I help you today?"

"I need to find a young woman in the sophomore class." The young doctor finally removed his sunglasses. His black eyes had an intense light in them the secretary found somehow disturbing.

"Her name is Tsukino, Usagi."

"Kami have mercy," Rei shrieked at the top of her lungs. "You made DEAN'S LIST!" She stumbled forward, staring, wide eyed at the piece of paper in her hands. "I don't believe it!"

"Read it and weep, Rei-chan," replied Usagi with a satisfied smile. "I told Mako that you'd never believe it if I didn't have proof."

Rei sat down hard on one of the temple's stone steps. "Well I see it and I still don't believe it! Someone check and make sure that the sky hasn't fallen. The odanga ataman is a scholar. This has to a sure sign that the end times are upon us!"

"You made Dean's List?" came Minako's voice from behind them, "I don't believe it!" She sprinted across the courtyard she had just entered and ripped the paper from Rei's hands.

"Why does everyone keep saying that?" grumbled Usagi. "I'm not the village idiot, you guys! I can do good work!"

"Of course you can Usagi-chan. You just needed to apply yourself." Ami completed the group as she strolled into the middle of the courtyard.

"So what made you finally decide to stay awake in class, anyway?" asked Rei as she rested her chin on her hand. "You never did before."

Usagi narrowed her eyes at the Shinto Priestess. "Ha, ha, Rei! I just like the classes that I have. The professors ask our opinions on what we're studying and they actually listen to what we say."

Luna sat on the roof above the young women and took a moment to smile to herself. With all the changes that had occurred in their lives since they graduated from High School, the one constant had been their friendship for each other. They were as close as they had ever been; perhaps even closer.

Minako was modeling and acting as steadily as she could manage these days. Ami had skipped her freshman year at the University entirely and was in an accelerated program that would have her ready for her graduate work in medical school within two years. Rei had, for all intents and purposes, taken over the running of the Hikawa Shrine.

Makoto was apprenticed to a pastry chef in one of Tokyo's finest restaurants. Amazingly she still found the time to attend business classes at the University. Usagi, though, had surprised them all the most. Her major was Government/Political Sciences and she was, Luna had to admit, brilliant at it.

But no matter how busy their lives were, they all made the time to meet every Wednesday afternoon at the Temple. The original purpose of the meetings was to train and keep their edge even now that things seemed quiet. In reality, it was an event that Luna called "The Therapy Session." For a few hours each week, they could forget their new responsibilities and just enjoy each other's company. It gave them a chance to reaffirm the special bond they had with one another.

That bond would be needed when the events that would bring about the rise of Crystal Tokyo started. Although none of them brought it up at any of the meetings, it was never really that far from any of their minds. The knowledge that the world they knew was going to end one of these days wasn't easy to live with.

Artemis bounded into the courtyard and Luna knew that it was time to begin this weeks meeting. She nimbly hopped to the ground and gave Artemis a sparing glance. He'd been less than attentive to her as of late and she was not about let him know that she missed him. Luna sat primly with her tail curved tightly about her body.

"We might as well begin," she started. "Michiru and Haruka are still in France with Hotaru. Setsuna isn't expected back from New York until later this week. Artemis, has there been any activity that we should be aware of?"

The white cat looked uncomfortable. "Ummm, I haven't been to central control for a couple of days."

Luna turned her head and gave him a withering look. "Really? What or who, pray tell, has had you so occupied that you couldn't tear yourself away to check on the safety of the world?" When he didn't respond right away, she finished for him. "Oh never mind. Happily I haven't been neglecting my duties and can report that things continue to remain basically quiet."

"Meeting adjourned!" called Minako with a wave of her hand. "So have you told Mamoru that you made Dean's List?"

"Actually," replied Usagi with a satisfied smile, "He's taking me out to dinner tonight and I'll tell him then."

Professional curiosity made Makoto ask, "Where's he taking you?"

"Top of The Tower," she squealed with glee.

The other four young women broke into a simultaneous chorus of, "OOOHHH!"

That place is so expensive!" said Makoto.

"I've got the perfect dress for you to wear," Minako chimed in. "I won't be needing it for a while, since I'm going to Los Angeles tomorrow…"

"Los Angeles? When did this happen?" shouted Usagi.

"Why are you going?" Rei asked practically on top of Usagi's question.

"And who are you going with?" It was Ami's turn now.

Makoto laughed as she added, "Spill it Minako-chan! We need to know it all!"

The five young women were laughing and talking over each in a joyous babble. Luna turned to Artemis with a resigned shrug. "Well, it's nice to know that some things never change."

The restaurant known as the "Top of the Tower" was situated across from the renowned Tokyo Tower and had a direct view of that landmark. It also had boasted a truly spectacular view of the bay and the surrounding city. The upscale restaurant never bothered to advertise as it always seemed to have a very long reservation list.

Although Dr. Chiba Mamoru had been patiently saving and planning for three years, he'd been dreaming of this night for well over a thousand. He took a moment to look at the woman who sat across from him and he decided it had been worth the wait. She was looking at the lights of the city below them and the full moon above as he studied her elegant face.

Reaching for her hand, he placed his own over it. Usagi looked up at him and he was struck once again by her beauty. She wore a calf length dress of ivory satin that made her skin seem to glow. Her golden hair had been caught into a simple braid that fell to her hips.

"Your beauty puts the moonlight to shame." Mamoru smiled as Usagi blushed charmingly at the compliment. "Have I told you how much I love you today?"

"Only today, Mamo-chan?" she teased him.

Mamoru raised her hand to his lips, never taking his eyes from hers. "Forever, my beloved. I love you today, tomorrow and for all time. The stars will burn themselves out before my passion for you does."

He stood up and, still holding her hand asked, "May I have this dance?"

With a smile (and a quick prayer that she wouldn't trip in her new shoes) Usagi went with Mamoru and they moved onto the ballroom floor. Although there were other couples, it seemed that to the young lovers that they were the only ones dancing.

Past, present and future blurred together in Usagi's mind as she lost herself in the joy of holding her one and only love. In her mind's eye, images flashed, one after the other. It was a thousand years ago and, as Princess Serenity, she was slowly dancing for the first time with her prince. The full moon shone above them and the scent of roses filled the air. It was a thousand years from now. Neo-Queen Serenity glided across a marble floor as she lost herself in the passionate eyes of her husband and beloved.

Mamoru voice whispering in her ear brought her back to the here and now. "I was thinking, how does a fall wedding sound to you?"

"What?" she heard herself say.

"Our engagement has been longer than either of us planned. We've waited long enough, Usako. As much as I enjoy our stolen afternoons and evenings, it's not enough any more." He pulled her even closer. "I want to wake up with you in my arms every morning. I want to build a home and a future with you."

Usagi couldn't believe the next words that came out of her mouth. "But, what about Crystal Tokyo…?" Her brain was shouting 'shut up, Usagi, you idiot, and just say yes!'.

Mamoru looked down at her with a tilt of his head that made her knees turn to water. "Let's worry about the future when it happens, ne? With you at my side, I can face anything."

"Mamo-chan," she whispered as tears of joy formed in her crystal blue eyes, "this is the happiest night of my life! September sounds wonderful for a wedding."

Mamoru took the opportunity to lower her into a dip. "Then we'll tell your folks right after dinner tonight."

Usagi looked up at him and gave a sly smile. "Does it have to be right after dinner?"

He returned the smile as he lifted her upright again, "Then again, since they've waited this long, a few more hours won't hurt."

Kashu Hikaru had always had the very best life had to offer. He had gone to the most prestigious schools, drove the most expensive cars, slept with the most beautiful women. His Grandfather had been awarded the style, "Prince" for his tireless work on behalf of the Empire. While Kashu wasn't technically supposed to use the title, (the style "Prince" was supposed to die with his Grandfather) he often let it drop in social circumstances. It never hurt to make sure that those around him knew he was a superior being.

Finding Tsukino Usagi had been easier than he could have imagined. As he stood in the shadows across from the modest house in the Juban section of Tokyo, he mentally ran over the details of his plans yet again. Once his discovery was made public he would be the most sought after man not just in Japan, but also in the entire world. The Noble prize would be the least of the awards he'd receive. He absently noticed the red sports car pulled up in front of the Tsukino home while he was running his acceptance speech through his mind once more.

The man driving the car hopped out and went to open the door for his companion. The sight of the beautiful blonde woman brought a smile to Kashu's face. Her exotic appearance would only serve to add fuel to the fire of publicity he intended to stoke. The smile fell though, as the man she was with moved into the light of the street lamp and his face became clearly visible.

Kashu had been a few years behind Dr. Chiba Mamoru, but everyone on campus knew about the man. He was a nobody; a man with none of the proper family connections who somehow managed to consistently achieve the best scores and get the choicest of assignments. In fact, Chiba had beaten Kashu out for a resident's position on staff at Tokyo Hospital. That he was here and with "Her" could mean only one thing.

Chiba knew.

Kashu had no idea how Chiba could have stumbled upon the same results he had. Worse yet, the common, little man might be preparing to release his findings and steal the laurels that Kashu meant to be his. Reaching into his pocket Kashu pulled out a cell phone and began to dial. It took a long moment before there was an answer on the other end.

"This is Kashu. We have to move the timetable up. Get the equipment together and set up for tomorrow." He turned and headed back to where his car was parked, listening impatiently to the voice on the other end of the call. "I don't care how much it costs. Just do it!"

As he snapped the telephone shut a grim expression settled on his face. No one was going to have what was his by right! No one was going to stop him from doing what others had tried and failed to do. If Chiba, damn him, got in his way then he'd just have to have him removed from the equation; permanently if necessary.

"The good of the State will always come before the good of the individual," the young man turned to Usagi as if stating the obvious. "The needs of the many out weight the needs of the few, or of the one."

Usagi shook her head sharply, causing her long blonde hair to fly back and forth. "With all due respect to Mr. Spock," this caused a ripple of laughter, "You have to remember that your 'State' is made up of individuals. Remember what the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau said in his work, 'Social Contract'. People are born with certainly, inalienable rights. When you violate the rights of an individual within the State, you start down the road to despotism. Although Despots, like Hitler, can be popular at first, people of conscience will always rise against them. In the end, the Despot will fall from power."

The teacher, who had been sitting on her desk as she listened to her student's debate, spoke up. "So you believe, like Spinoza, that people are intrinsically good, Usagi?"

"Of course," replied Usagi. "If you see someone who's been hurt, what's your first instinct? Most people would go and help them, because most people are basically good."

"So why is there evil in the world?" asked a student. "Are some people born just plain bad?"

"Everyone has the capacity to change, no matter how far gone others think they are." Usagi sighed, "But they have to want to be healed, want to be changed."

"And on that note," interrupted the teacher before Usagi could continue, "that's all for today. We'll finish this discussion on Thursday, people. Remember that your papers on Marx are due in two weeks!"

This was her last class of the day, so Usagi took her time gathering up her books. Her mind had already left the classroom and was spinning in circles, planning for Saturday September 18th, when she and Mamoru would be finally wed. Today she'd talk to Rei about having a traditional Shinto ceremony at the Shrine, to be followed by Christian ceremony and a western style reception. Makoto, Usagi thought, she had to talk to Mako-chan about what restaurant to pick!

And the dress…

She was so wrapped up in her plans, that Usagi didn't hear the man come up behind her. As he placed a hand on her shoulder, she gave a shriek of surprise and whirled to look at him.

"I'm sorry, did I startle you? Are you Tsukino Usagi, by any chance?" he said.

She nodded mutely at the man. He was young, handsome and very well dressed in an Armani suit with a silk tie. Usagi may have been engaged to Mamoru and hopelessly in love with him, but she'd have to have been dead not to notice the Doctor's incredibly good looks.

He gave her a dazzling smile and held out one hand, "I'm Doctor Nigori from the Human Genome Project. You were recommended to me by the work-study office for a position I have open."

She took the hand and gave it a polite shake. Boy, she thought, that office works fast! Usagi had just signed up this morning to look for a part time job, now that she was going to be a married woman. Mamoru didn't know about the idea yet, but being able to show him that she could get a job to help pay the bills appealed to her. Usagi wanted to prove to everyone that she could be mature and responsible.

"You do? That's wonderful!" she gushed, then recovered and said, "Oh, I mean, let's discuss this shall we?"

"Why don't we go to my office here on campus? It's close by and you could see what the position entails." His voice was pleasant, calm and reassuring. "You can tell me about yourself as we walk, ne?"

Kashu kept the pace moderate as they headed toward a building at the back of the University's grounds. He listened to her with half an ear as they went. This was almost too easy. The Tsukino girl was so trusting, so naïve and so very beautiful.

Kashu Hikaru studied her out of the corner of his eye. What she truly was shone through, no matter how she tried to disguise it. Her hair was the color of sunshine and impossibly fine. The light wind caused it to swirl around her like a veil. Her eyes betrayed her, too; a blue purer than anything he'd ever seen.

He let her ramble on about her life and her friends, nodding his head at the appropriate intervals. They went into his office, and he shut the door behind her. "Please have a seat. I just got a case of American Coca Cola, would you care for some?"

Usagi's sweet tooth got the better of her. "Yes, please. That would be very nice." She looked at the small, dark and dingy office with more than a bit of trepidation. "What kind of work do you do here?"

Dr. "Nigori" finished pouring her a glass of the dark, sweet soda and handed it to her. "The Project has been involved with codifying of the human genetic makeup."

Usagi hadn't a clue as to what that meant, so she smiled and took a deep drink of the soda. "Oh, really? It sounds very interesting."

The soda was slightly bitter as she swallowed it. Usagi managed not grimace as she realized that it must some of that awful "diet" stuff. Her mother's voice echoed in her head, telling her it was only polite to finish what she took. Usagi drank the glass as quickly as possible. "What would my job here be?"

Kashu Hikaru watched her finish the soda with delight. He leaned over and took the now empty glass. "Actually, you're going to have a unique part in this project. I'm doing some private research here and you are going to help me become famous for it."

Usagi jumped, startled, when the man grabbed her by the arms, dragging her to her feet. "Hey, what do you think you're doing?" Usagi suddenly broke into a cold sweat, her head beginning to pound. "Let me go!"

Kashu's pleasant smile faded and a wolfish grin replaced it. "I don't think so." He pulled her to him with a yank. "You see I know what you really are."

The world began to tilt for Usagi as her vision swam in circles. She wanted to hit Kashu, to shout at him to let her go, but her body wouldn't obey her mind. She raised a shaking hand to try and reach for her henshin locket, but Kashu held her tightly. Usagi's head rolled back and forth as she fought against what was happening to her.

Her ears were filled with a buzzing that kept getting louder as her mind shrieked in incoherent fear. The room gave a final lurch before darkness rose to claim her.

As Usagi sagged against him, Kashu let her drop to the floor. He regarded her coldly, as he might an interesting animal specimen. "You see, I know all about you, Tsukino Usagi," he said to her. "I know your secret…"

"I know that you aren't human."

Fatal Exposure

A Sailor Moon Story
by Meara

Part 2 of 13

<< Previous     Home     Next >>