Continuing Tales

Fatal Exposure

A Sailor Moon Story
by Meara

Part 4 of 13

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Fatal Exposure

Why couldn't she just let it go?

For the past three days Hino Rei had spent every moment she could staring into the sacred fire that was at the heart of the Hikawa Temple. Something nagged relentlessly at Rei, something she couldn't quite identify. It was simply maddening, as though someone was whispering in her ear but she couldn't make out the words. Each time Rei though she might finally be on the verge of whatever was bothering her, the fire would erupt into a mass of chaotic images. As the flames roared once again, the Shinto Priestess gave a loud growl of frustration.

"The harder you try, the harder it becomes for you, ne?"

Rei turned to see her grandfather enter the room with tray in hand. He gave a sad smile and slowly shook his head. "You must be the vessel, not the fiery wine within it."

Rei took the tray from him. "If I wanted Zen, I'd go over to the Buddhist temple."

"Wisdom is wisdom, no matter the source," said her grandfather. The old man neatly folded himself into a sitting position beside Rei. "Would you like to tell me what's bothering you so much?"

"That's part of the problem. I really don't know," replied Rei as she poured herself a cup of the steaming green tea. "There's this sense of imminent disaster that I just can't shake."

"You could still be upset about what happened to Usagi. From what you told me, it was a random act of violence. That can very hard to accept. I still think she should go to the police about it."

Rei sighed and put down the cup. "That's just not possible, Grandpa. I get the feeling that whoever did that to Usagi isn't finished yet. This is something big. It's so big that I can't get a handle on it. The one I'm sure of is that whatever the trouble is, it involves all of us."

"Then I'll give you another Zen saying; 'just be'." He folded his arms

across his chest, looking for all the world like a living Buddha statue. "You may have the answer all ready."

"No I don't!" Rei threw up her hands in frustration. "All I have is chaos!"

"Then maybe that's your answer," said her grandfather. As he spoke the word a chill ran up Rei's spine.


It was the most unlikely of settings. In a small, private room in a traditional teahouse, two well-dressed men sat and planned the death of a third. A graceful Geisha in a golden kimono served them then bowed deeply before disappearing behind a paper screen.

"It must appear to be an accident or suicide," said Kashu Hikaru, looking into his cup of green tea, "I was told you are an expert at such things."

The man across the table from him picked up his own porcelain cup. As he raised it to his lips, Kashu noted that part of his pinky finger was missing. This marked him as a member of Japan's organized crime syndicate commonly called the "Yakuza."

"Indeed Kashu-san. This task is quite expensive, though."

"Money is not an object," said Kashu as he waved a hand dismissively. It was a broad gesture, just short of rude and he regretted it almost immediately.

The soft-spoken mobster didn't reply for a moment, letting Kashu know that he was annoyed by the arrogant display. "There are some things money cannot buy. This is one of them."

"Then what would you consider as payment?"

Putting his cup down the man folded his hands in his lap. "You have knowledge that would be useful to us. We run certain…businesses…that make pharmaceuticals. It would most helpful to have someone of your training who could assist in the research and development of new products. Tokyo University has excellent facilities."

Kashu was no fool. He knew that he was being told that in exchange for having Chiba killed, he had to help in making new and cheaper drugs to sell on the street. Concern briefly rose in his mind, but he pushed it aside. Any deals he made with this criminal would only be temporary. Once he had control of Tsukino Usagi and the other Senshi, he would have the power to crush anyone who stood in his way.

"I am honored that you consider my small skills valuable."

"It is agreed on?" asked the man from the Yakuza.

"Hai" replied Kashu, "As soon as Chiba is assisted to the next life, I will help to make you all very wealthy men in this one."

The man rose from the table and gave a small bow. "Then consider it done, Kashu-san. I'll call you as soon as it's been taken care of."

Every Wednesday, as part of his position as a resident in the general practitioners program at Tokyo Hospital, Mamoru would drive out to a small clinic about fifty miles from the city. The town was a small coal mining community. The people who worked in the mines were at risk for any number of fatal conditions from their profession. The clinic had started as a place to do routine lung x-rays and some minor blood work. Over the years it had blossomed into the one place anyone in town could see a doctor. For a man who wanted to be an old fashioned "family" doctor, it was the perfect setting.

Normally Mamoru enjoyed the drive into the mountainous countryside. It gave him time to relax, to think and plan. Today, however, was a rainy, miserable day. Driving the lumbering medical van on the hilly, winding roads did nothing to uplift his already wretched frame of mind. Going to the clinic meant leaving Usagi and he was nervous about doing that.

Since the assault, he'd arranged to have either himself or one of the Senshi walk her back and forth to the University. Usagi wasn't thrilled with the idea but Mamoru pointed out that as Sailor Senshi they hadn't survived this long by taking stupid chances.

When he'd gotten Usagi back to his apartment, reports of a fire at an old building on Campus were all over the media. Jupiter's display of temper must have set it off somehow. They hadn't exactly stopped to check and make sure things weren't smoldering when they left.

Rather than answer some very difficult questions, they didn't report the assault. This meant that the person or persons that had drugged and kidnapped Usagi were still out there. The young doctor gave a low growl to himself and gripped the steering wheel tightly. If Mamoru ever got his hands on that person, he was going to fillet him into very thin strips.

The pleasant fantasy was disrupted by the sudden glare of headlights in his rearview mirror. The medical van shuddered and slid as it was hit from behind. With a glance in the mirror, he tried to get as far over to the side as he could, hoping to let whatever moron was behind him, pass. The lights swerved as he did and he felt the jolt as the van was hit again.

Mamoru's heart began to pound and he put the gas petal to the floor. The glare of headlights still filled his back window again as the larger vehicle behind him sped up and rammed him once more. The slick road did not help him any as the much heavier truck began to push him from behind. It backed off for a second then reappeared with a deep, gear grinding roar. Slamming into the van, the truck made contact with his right, rear quarter panel. It started to push him toward the edge of the road.

Mamoru glanced out his window. He would never survive a tumble over the edge and down the steep hillside. In an act of desperation he reached inside the pocket of his coat just as his car left the road.

The large truck pulled over and came to an abrupt stop. The man inside got out, pulling his raincoat closed. He watched with satisfaction as the van rolled end over end to the bottom of the deep ravine. It landed on its roof, twisted and bent. Smoke wafted up the hill from under the hood. With a flash and a blast that rattled the window of the truck, the van exploded.

The Hitman gave a crooked grin. There was no way Chiba could have survived that. He lifted his hand to reach into his jacket for his cell phone. From behind him, a rose with a stem sharper than a katana appeared to impaled his hand. He shouted in pain, grabbing for his bleeding palm.

As he turned he saw a black shape appear out of the storm. He panicked, then stumbled backwards as what looked like demon's wings flare out behind the shape. Between one breath and the next he was lifted by his collar and yanked into the air. The hit man found himself being held by the black demon over the edge of the ravine.

His legs churned the air while he gasped in shock. The heavy rain obscured the creature's face. There were no eyes visible on that face, just a glow where the eyes should be; a glow that seemed utterly inhuman. The Hitman had killed hundreds in his line of work and thought there was nothing left in this world that could shock or frighten him anymore.

He was wrong.

The demon, no, he realized a man, a man in black tuxedo and a mask let him dangle for a long moment. The masked man's voice cut through the sounds of the storm that continued unabated. He spoke a single word,


The Hitman made noises like a frightened child. The man in the mask tightened his grip on the Hitman's collar.

"I said why!" The wind howled up from the ravine below, carrying smoke and the smell of metal burning. The man in the mask seemed to be a messenger from hell.

"He wants Chiba dead!" the Hitman shrieked in reply, "He didn't tell me why!"

"Who wants Chiba dead?"

"Kashu Hikaru – Kashu Hikaru from Tokyo University." The Hitman babbled, "I didn't ask why."

Without a sound Tuxedo Kamen suddenly threw the man away from him and onto the roadside behind them both. The Hitman landed hard and slid in the mud to lay on his back gasping for air. His eyes bulged with fear as the man in the cape walked slowly toward him. He towered over the frightened thug then thrust a single hand at him.

"Keys," Tuxedo Kamen hissed.

The Hitman fumbled in pocket, produced the keys and carefully dropped them in Tuxedo Kamen's outstretched hand. Leaning over the prostrate thug, Tuxedo Kamen issued a final warning.

"Chiba is alive. He will stay that way and not be bothered by you or any of your associates again. Is that clear? Because if his is bothered…"

"No, no! No more trouble, never! This is not good for business!" the

Hitman babbled. Even as tried to assure Tuxedo Kamen of his utter sincerity, the man in the mask seemed to vanish back into the storm. "Not good for business at all…"

Leaving the cowering felon in the mud, Tuxedo Kamen got into the truck and drove away as fast as he could. The rain was still coming down heavily, limiting just how fast he could go.

Some man he had never heard of before, a man named Kashu Hikaru, tried to have him killed. That man from the same University his Usako went to. Someone who worked at the University would have access to student records. That might be how the fake "Dr. Nigori" knew Usagi's name.

Mamoru was cold, soaked from head to toe, but the fire in his heart burned hot and fast. Mamoru intended to have a long, detailed talk with one Kashu Hikaru.

If there was anything more boring than statistics, Usagi had yet to find it. In fact the whole subject should be declared a safe and non-narcotic sleep aide, Usagi thought as she tried to concentrate on the numbers in the book before her. Mamo-chan was doing his clinic work today. That meant it would be evening before he came to pick her up and she'd be here at the library for hours yet.

She gave a wide yawn and looked out at the storm. Such a dark, rainy afternoon made her even sleepier. The combination of precipitation and percentages overcame her and she lay her head down on her arms to "rest" her eyes for a few minutes.

Deeply asleep, she didn't notice as the other students around her left, one by one. An hour passed, then two, but the brutally somnambulant power of statistics caused the young woman continued to sleep. By the time seven in the evening rolled around she was the only one on that floor of the library.

Kashu Hikaru waited as the other students left. Now that Chiba must be out of the way, he was willing to show some patience. He needed to discuss several things with Tsukino Usagi; things that he didn't want anyone else to hear. After the last student had left, Kashu sat in the semi darkness until he was very sure that no one else was there.

She was still sleeping on top of the book as he came up behind her. Her sunshine hair was up in that very strange style she liked to wear. The hair that fell from the buns cascaded over her still form, covering her like a sheer veil. Placing a hand on her shoulder, he leaned toward her ear and kissed it.

"Mamo-chan…" Usagi murmured happily and cracked open her eyes. They focused on the man above her she jerked upright. "You're not…! Get away, hentai!"

The man merely smirked, "I'm sorry, Usagi, did I startle you? Oh, that's right," he continued, smirking when the comprehension began to dawn in Usagi's eyes, "You like to be called 'Serenity' now and then, don't you?"

"I know you," she said in a flat voice. "You're that guy who called himself Dr. Nigori!" Usagi glanced around the room for the nearest door. He followed her line of sight and moved himself between where she sat and the fastest venue of escape.

Kashu laughed and folded his arms across his chest. "What's much more important is that I know you, Usagi. Or should I call you Sailor Moon? It doesn't really matter since they're both you."

Usagi stopped the hand that had reached automatically for her locket.

'Me, Sailor Moon? Are you crazy?' she was going to say, 'do I look like Sailor Moon', but decided not to. One of these days she was going to have cut her hair.

"Let's not play that game shall we? I have pictures of you changing into that winged freak. It's from the other day when all your Sailor friends helped you. 'Serenity – I thought I had lost you my love.' That was what he said to you, right? I have all of that on film."

"The day you drugged and nearly killed me," snapped Usagi. "That might get you some time in prison."

Kashu appeared unimpressed. "That was your fault. If you were the human you pretend to be you wouldn't have reacted like that to a very commonly used sedative."

Usagi's face turned red from embarrassment at the intrusion on a private moment, and in anger. "What are talking you about?" She suddenly rose from her chair. "This is over. I am so out of here." Abandoning her books, she took her purse and started to leave.

Before Usagi got more than a few feet Kashu's voice filled her ears, "Fine, then I'll go to the media with my tape. By morning the whole world will know who and just what you really are."

Usagi stopped and slowly turned to look at him. "What do you want?"

Giving her his most charming smile, Kashu strolled towards her. Usagi found herself instinctively backing away from him. "I want you, of course, you and the other Senshi. The power that you have is extraordinary. I want to learn to use it."

Usagi bumped into the wall in back of her and realized she had no place left to go. "No, you want to learn to control others with it. My power comes from love. That's something you don't understand."

Kashu put his arms against the wall on either side of Usagi, effectively pinning her there. He gave a skeptical laugh, "So beautiful, so naïve… Power is meant to be used and people like me know how to do it best."

He leaned forward until his face was inches from her. Despite herself Usagi gave a shiver of revulsion. "Forget about Chiba. I don't know what he does for you…" Kashu whispered in her ear. His hand slithered up her body to grasped one of her breasts, "…but I can do it so much better, Serenity."

Usagi pushed him away from her with a shout, "Don't touch me!" Anger flooded her and she slapped his face so hard her hand stung.

The man in front of her changed in the blink of an eye. The smooth charm faded and rage suffused the handsome face. He drew back his arm in a wide arc, intending to strike her.

The blow never came. Mamoru was suddenly there and grabbing him by the arm, tossed Kashu to the floor. In an instant he had a knee on the man's chest, his forearm pressed against Kashu's throat. The other man's eyes went wide with shock at the sight of Mamoru.

"You are a dead man," growled Mamoru. He started to pound at whatever part of Kashu he could reach. Mamoru's fist was like a pile driver, smooth, deadly and relentless. Kashu's nose shattered in two blows. Blood flowed down his face and he screamed in pain, but Mamoru was beyond hearing his cries for mercy.

"Mamo-chan, no!" Usagi's voice penetrated the haze of insane anger that controlled Mamoru. "Stop, please, stop!" She clutched at his arm, panic in her voice, "You'll kill him!"

Mamoru stopped hitting Kashu. Still on his knees, he took the man by the shirt front with both hands and pulled him off the floor. Mamoru was still shaking with anger, his breath coming in jagged gasps of rage. "I will see you rot in prison for what you've done, you worthless piece of…"

Kashu's face was starting to swell from the beating. "I know about your girl friend, Chiba. I know she's Sailor Moon," he managed to say. "Let me go or I'll tell the world everything."

Mamoru threw him back to the floor in disgust. "You're a bad liar, Kashu."

Kashu shook his head, "I have proof, pictures and blood work. She's not human Chiba. Did you know that? Your lover isn't human!" The ghost of a smirk flickered on his battered face, "It's your choice. Do you let me go, or do I tell everything?"

"He said had a camera going the other day," Usagi was crying now, "He filmed me when I transformed."

The fear in Usagi's voice reached Mamoru's heart. With effort, he banked the fires of rage that burned in his soul. Mamoru rose from the floor and went to where Usagi stood. She threw her arms around him, oblivious to the blood that stained his shirt and hands.

"I'll not say a word about any of this," Kashu said, "You have my promise on that."

"I want to leave, Mamo-chan," Usagi cried, burying her face in his chest, "Please, I just want to get out of here!"

"All right, Usako, we'll go." Mamoru glanced once at Kashu, "As of this moment, any plans you had are over. Oh, and if you go anywhere near Usagi again, know that I will kill you. Do you understand?"

Kashu watched them leave. He lay on the cold floor for a moment and then painfully lurched to his feet. A hand went to his face and he spit a loose tooth into it. The sight of the broken tooth seemed to bring him out of his shock.

"This isn't over, Chiba. Not by a long shot."


Mamoru told Usagi about Kashu's part in the attempt on his life as they drove to a quiet park that overlooked Tokyo bay. When they arrived the rain still fell lightly, but neither of them cared. If nothing else it would help to give them some privacy. Together they walked to meager refuge given by the canopy a large tree. In the gathering darkness of the evening, they held each other silently.

The rain slowed down, then finally stopped. One storm, at least, was over for now. The streetlamps came one by one and still they stayed together, unwilling or unable to leave the timeless shelter of their love for each other.

The light from the city obscured what few stars could be seen through the low clouds. Usagi lifted her eyes to dim light from a half moon. The part of her that was the last princess of the Silver Millennium longed to go home.

"What happens now, Mamo-chan?"

"I don't know," he replied, "But whatever it is, we'll face it together."

"He said I'm not human. That can't be true, can it?" Usagi asked softly.

Mamoru gave a snort of derision, "Kashu also said he won't release that tape. I don't believe that either."

"He can't do that!" Usagi appeared outraged at the idea. "You can go to the police and have him arrested. That jerk tried to have you killed!"

Taking Usagi's hand in his, Mamoru led her to a bench under a light. "There's no hard proof that can link Kashu to that thug who ran me off the road, Usako. No, right now all we have is a kind of stalemate. Eventually, he'll get up the nerve to go to the press with what he has.

But…" Mamoru put a finger to her lips as she started to protest, "We have time before that happens. Tomorrow we'll have a meeting and discuss this with the others."

Usagi leaned into Mamoru for support. "I have to tell my parents before someone else does."

"We'll do it together first thing tomorrow morning," said Mamoru. He put an arm around her, "For now, let me take you home."

"I want to stay with you tonight, Mamo-chan." She raised her cerulean blue eyes to him, and Mamoru almost lost himself within them.

"I want that more than anything, my love…" he started.

Usagi sighed in defeat as she finished the sentence. "But my parents would go ballistic."

Mamoru managed to laugh. "Usako, there are very few things I truly fear in this life, but your father on the war path is one of them."

Still holding hands they headed for Mamoru's car. "So what else that scares you as badly as my father?" she asked.

"If you must know, clowns." Mamoru said as he assisted her into her seat and closed the door.

"Let me get this straight. You've fought monsters, wackos from the future and a member of the Yakuza, but a man with a red nose and big hair scares you?"

"Yep," he replied as he popped into his seat and turned over the engine. "Keep my secret?"

Usagi gave him a sad smile that made his heart ache, "Forever, my love, forever."


Usagi was able to keep a smile on her face as she gave her parents a quick goodnight kiss. Even though Usagi wasn't a little girl anymore, her mother and father still waited up for her when she was out with Mamoru. She almost broke down when her mother had, as mothers often do, seen that something was not quite right with her daughter.

"I'm okay, Mom," she managed to say lightly, "Just really tired. I'm going to go to bed." Placing a tender kiss on her mother's forehead, she trotted up stairs to her room.

Closing the door behind her, Usagi slipped to floor and began to weep. She grabbed a pillow off her bed and pulled it her face to smother any sound she might make. Sitting in the dark, Usagi mourned for what she had almost lost and what she was about to lose.


Usagi pulled the pillow away to see a glowing pair of eyes across the room. Luna hopped down from the windowsill and ran to where her princess sat huddled on the floor. Usagi picked up the lunar cat in her arms and held her close.

"Don't ask Luna. Please, please, don't ask," she whispered. "I can't talk about it right now. Just stay with me, ne?"

Carrying Luna in her arms, Usagi went to her bed and lay down. Luna curled up beside her purring unspoken support. The window was open, and the night air still smelled of rain and damp earth. Usagi stared at the distant moon as she lay on the bed, so tired yet unable to sleep because of what lay ahead.

In the morning, she was going to tell her parents the truth and nothing would ever be the same again.

In a small computer room at the studio of Tokyo's largest television station two men sat in silence. The first was utterly enthralled by what he saw on the small flickering screen in front of him. Talking was painful for the other, having had his nose broken in two places, then set.

"My God, Hikaru-kun, do you know what you have here?" said the man who watched the screen. "This is the biggest story of the year. Hell, this is the biggest story of the millennium! How did you get this?"

"Just being in the right place at the right time," responded Kashu

disingenuously. "There's more to this story than what you see on this tape, Yoshi." He reached for the briefcase at his side. Producing a large folder, he tossed it on the desk.

Yoshi opened it and looked at the charts and lab tests inside it. Being a newsman, not a scientist, he was lost. "What is this?"

Kashu sat back with a smug smile on his face, "That my friend, is proof positive that Sailor Moon and probably the rest of her Senshi companions are much more than appear."

"It's proof that the Tsukino girl isn't human."

Fatal Exposure

A Sailor Moon Story
by Meara

Part 4 of 13

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