Continuing Tales

Fatal Exposure

A Sailor Moon Story
by Meara

Part 6 of 13

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Fatal Exposure

Kashu Hikaru should have been happy, but he wasn't. Just as he'd planned, the world was beating a path to his door, desperate to talk to him. At this moment he was the most famous man on Earth.

He'd managed to do what others had dreamed of for years. Kashu had hard proof that extra-terrestrials existed. What's more, he had hard proof that they were here on Earth at this moment. But as he sat in his darkened study and watched the videotape once again, he was haunted by what he saw.

She was so exquisite, so inhumanly beautiful. As she transformed into her true form, every detail of her flawless figure was visible to him. With a burst of light and she shifted into the regal woman in the white dress. Power beyond human comprehension suffused her body until she was incandescent with it.

With a flick of the remote, Kashu froze the picture at the moment the power had reached its peak and stared at the face of the woman on the screen in front of him. The ghost of a smile was on her lips, her eyes half closed and her head tilted at an angle that showed her delicate beauty at it's best.

Kashu raised the glass of wine in his hand to his face and looked at her through it. Somewhere along the line, and Kashu wasn't just sure where, a strange thing had happened. The enchanting woman with the sunshine hair became more than just a means to an end. She had became the end. She was everything he wanted in a woman and more.

The memory of Usagi in the library that afternoon filled his senses and for a moment, Kashu was overwhelmed by the thought of how close he'd been to her. He'd been a fool to let her go, to let his temper rule him after the incident with Chiba. Chiba; the name made Kashu's blood boil. He was going to settle his account with Chiba Mamoru and soon.

Kashu downed the rest of the wine in a single gulp. There had to be a way to get Serenity back under his control. He raised the now empty glass to the picture of the woman in front of him.

"I will have you again, Serenity. I want you, and I always get what I want." He said more to himself than to her image.


"Mamo-chan, help me!"

Mamoru ran through the gray mists that surrounded him, panic rising in his heart. No matter how fast he ran Mamoru couldn't get to Usagi. She was always just ahead of him, just beyond his reach, a form outlined in the mist. He ran until his lungs burned and his heart threatened to burst. When he began to lose hope of ever finding Usagi, the fog finally parted and he saw her.

Usagi struggled in the arms of man whose face he couldn't see. As Mamoru shouted her name the faceless stranger produced a blade. The dagger blade was plunged into Usagi's heart and she gave a scream of fear and pain that ripped at his soul.

The man vanished like the mist around them. Mamoru reached his beloved as she began to fall to the ground. With Usagi cradled in his arms, he went to his knees. A stain in the shape of a red rose blossomed on her spotless white dress. Usagi's life was bleeding away while she looked up at him with disappointed eyes.

"I needed you, Mamo-chan," she whispered with her last breath, "Why didn't you save me?"

"No! Don't leave me, Usako!" Mamoru shouted as the light faded from her eyes, "Usako!


Mamoru woke with a gasp, his heart pounding in his chest. He blinked his eyes several times as the nightmare lingered unpleasantly in his mind.

"Mamo-chan?" Usagi's voice was thick with sleep, "Are you okay?"

She rolled over and snuggled up next to him. With relief Mamoru slipped his arms around her and pulled her close. She sighed and rested her head on his shoulder.

"Just a dream, Usako. Go back to sleep."

As the woman he loved slipped back into slumber, Mamoru silently held her. That he was having this dream again was a sign that he was deeply troubled about what was going on. While most of the time Mamoru was very good at ignoring the fears and insecurities that plagued him The loss from two lifetimes had left him deeply scarred.

Although Mamoru would never admit it, his biggest fear was being left all alone, yet again. That was what this dream was all about. Usagi would be gone and he'd be left with nothing but dreams of a shattered future and an empty, aching void in his soul that would never heal. Having her next to him like this helped more than he could ever say.

It had been impossible for Usagi to go home after the meeting at Rei's had ended. The media had surrounded the small Tsukino home in Juban. There was no way Usagi could have gotten through that crowd.

With an assurance from Luna that she'd tell Usagi's parents that their daughter was staying with "a friend" (although from the look on the cat's face, she knew exactly how "friendly" Mamoru intended to be) he and Usagi had come here. This wasn't how he'd planned on them spending their first night together but right now he didn't care. Mamoru placed a feather light kiss on Usagi's forehead as she slept.

Part of what he loved so much about her was his Usako's willingness to see the good in people. Unfortunately, Mamoru feared that her good heart would not serve her well this time. He knew all from bitter experience that the world could be a dangerous and cruel place.

There would always be soulless creatures like this Kashu Hikaru who didn't care how many were hurt or killed as long as they got what he wanted. That was how Metallia had risen to power so long ago, by playing on the basest emotions mankind was capable of.

Mamoru held his beloved close and prayed that Mankind had changed enough in the thousand years since he'd been the last Crown Prince of Earth to prevent history from repeating itself.

It had been quite late by the time the afternoon meeting at Rei's temple had broken up. They'd spent more than a few hours discussing what should be done in increasingly heated tones. When all was said and done there were two camps among the Senshi. The first wanted to confront the press and the second wanted to ignore the press. Even Luna and Artemis had been divided by that particular argument. Luna thought it best to deny everything while Artemis was ready to book Usagi on Larry King Live.

Makoto had offered to let Minako stay her at her place and she'd gratefully accepted. The thought of going home to an empty apartment was too painful for Makoto and Minako didn't want to have to face her parents right now. She was still much too angry with them to be able to have a rational conversation about being Sailor Venus.

Exhausted from the long day and emotional day, Minako was asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow. Tomorrow, at least, was Saturday, Minako thought as she collapsed into the bed. She could sleep in for a change and Mako had promised to make her favorite breakfast. The prospect of fresh blueberry pancakes warmed Minako's heart as she drifted off into blissful slumber.

The sun wasn't even up before the noise awoke the Princess of Venus. There was persistent metallic whine that filled the room around her. Minako was so tired that she managed to incorporate the sound into her dream at first but it was just too bizarre for her to ignore for long.

Slowly opening her eyes, Minako glanced at the clock by the couch bed. The neon red three inch high numbers gave the pitiless news that it only five thirty in the morning.

The annoying whining noise filled the room again. Artemis grumbled but didn't awaken as Minako rolled out of the bed. She moved on unsteady legs toward the window and snapped up the shade, intending to see what was causing the racket. As she did so, Minako found herself face to face with a man standing outside the window.

Since Makoto's apartment was on the third floor it was something of a shock. Minako shrieked, stumbled backwards and tripped over a chair to land on the floor with a resounding thud.

"Hello, Ms. Kino," the man (who Minako finally noticed was standing a cherry picker) said in a conversational tone, "I'm with the BBC. I understand that you are a friend of Usagi Tsukino and we'd like very much to make you an offer for your story."

"Umm, I'm not Ms. Kino." Minako replied as calmly as she could before shouting, "Mako-chan! There's a man at the window here to see you!"

Mako had been alerted by Minako's shout of surprise and ran into the living room armed with a broom.

"Hello, Kino-san" the man in the bucket repeated as he gave Mako a short bow. "I'm with the BBC. I understand that you are a long time friend of Usagi Tsukino and we'd like to make you an offer for your story."

"And I'd like to ram this broom right up your sinuses, which is what I'm going to do if you don't get the hell away from my window before I count to five!" Makoto brandished the broom like it was a baseball bat. "One…"

The man in the cherry picker fumbled into his pocket for a second, "Here's my card. Call me!"

"Two, three…" Makoto deliberately spit into each of her palms, and then took a stance like a Johnny Damon as she continued to her count. She left the impression that she was going to hit the newsman's head all the way to China if she had the chance. "…Four…"

As the bucket, and the man in it, moved away grudgingly, Mako looked pleased with herself. Are you okay, Minako?" she asked her friend.

Minako stumbled to her feet then fell back onto the bed with a bounce. Artemis finally stirred and gave a long feline stretch. "What's going on?" he asked through half closed eyes, "Did I hear voices?"

Minako reached over and gave him a pat on the head, "My hero."

The hospital had been amazingly understanding about Mamoru needing to take a little unscheduled vacation time. After telling them that his fiancée was Tsukino Usagi, the woman whose face was just about everywhere, they happily agreed that having him at work right nowmight be disruptive. Geraldo Rivera from Fox News had all ready found out that Mamoru worked at Tokyo General. He and a camera crew were milling restlessly about already making nuisances of themselves.

Usagi announced that she wanted a shower. While she did that Mamoru diligently went around the apartment making sure that the window shades were indeed closed, double checking the lock on the door and taking the battery out of his cell phone. He half listened to the television. A small panel of so-called experts was discussing Usagi.

"Although his research was somewhat crude, Dr. Kashu is essentially correct in ascertaining the alien origins of Ms. Tsukino." One of the "experts" stated in a pompous tone, "She is undoubtedly of non-human ancestry."

The white haired man next to him nodded vigorously, "It would be very interesting to find out if it is possible for beings like this 'Sailor Moon' to breed successfully with humans. We could have a multitude of extraterrestrial hybrids within the population right now and not know it. The first task is to identify them and then research the changes the alien DNA …"

"No, no," interrupted another man, "the first task is to establish a dialogue with these aliens. We need to open diplomatic and friendly relations with them!"

The sound died away as Mamoru turned the machine off. "What a bunch of morons," he mumbled mostly to himself.

"Oh Mamo-chan…" came Usagi's voice from in back of him.

Mamoru turned to see Usagi standing in the door to bathroom wearing nothing but a small towel and an inviting smile. He dropped the remote, his fingers going numb as the blood rushed to his head. Usagi leaned back against the doorframe.

"Want to open friendly relations with me?"

Mamoru grabbed at his shirt and yanked it over his head. "I suppose I could be talked into it. After all, you extra-terrestrials need to be researched and studied."

Usagi walked slowly toward him. She innocently raised her face to him, "And you're willing to do some boring old research just to better humanity? I am deeply touched by your selfless nature."

Mamoru swept her off her feet in a single, smooth motion. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders as he smiled at her, "Usako, it's not my selfless nature that's about to touch you deeply."

She exploded into laughter and together they fell onto the bed behind them. Mamoru pulled Usagi into a slow, deep kiss that left them both breathless. As they lost themselves in each other, Usagi became aware of loud beeping from the nightstand beside them.

Mamoru was kissing her neck, slowly making his way down her body as the beeping became even louder.


He either didn't hear the noise or was, more likely, ignoring it.

"Mamo-chan…I have to get that," she sighed.

"Let it ring."

"If I don't answer it someone will come looking for us."

Mamoru sighed as he pictured one or more of the Senshi rushing into the room at an inopportune moment. He gave an amazingly articulate grunt and rolled to get the communicator. He flopped onto his back as he handed it to Usagi.

"Usagi-chan, can you hear me?" came the gentle, piping voice of Ami, "I'm just checking in to make you are all right."

"Yes, I'm just fine," replied Usagi in a level voice. "Can this wait? I'm sort of busy right now."

"Busy?" came the annoyed voice of Hino Rei from somewhere in back of Ami. "What could she be doing that so bloody important?"

"Research!" shouted Mamoru in the direction of the device. "Very important research! Usagi will call you later. Ja ne, Ami." Mamoru took the communicator, gently shut it and then threw it half way across the bedroom.

"Ah," he said with a sly smile, "the things I do for science…"

Minako cursed softly as she looked at her e-mail. There were 269 new mails as of this morning and about 50 or so were from her agent. After opening the first 10 she had a good idea what the other 259 were about.

Dear Ms. Aino,

We at CNN would like to talk to you about your dear friend, Tsukino Usagi. Since we know that your time is valuable, we hope that our offer will make it possible for you to schedule a few minutes for us.

"Sweet mother of pearl," Minako moaned as she looked at the sum of money offered, "This isn't an offer! This is the gross national product of Canada!"

Rei peered over her shoulder at the six figures on the screen. "Well that didn't take long. I thought we'd have a few days, at least, before the media tracked us down."

"At least they haven't figured out that we're the other Senshi." Mako added. She was still fuming about the man who'd showed up outside her window this morning. The moron had knocked over the window box of herbs that had taken her months to grow. Now they were ruined! Nothing ticked Mako off faster than thyme wasted.

"And if we're very careful, they might not," added Ami. "All we need to do is outlast the media's interest in this story. How much more can they possibly say about a video tape that only lasts about three minutes anyway?"

"Trust me Ami-chan," sighed Minako, "They've just gotten started."

Yamamotto Jiro had been in the news business for almost fifty years. He'd seen television news rise from a five minute broadcast that covered locals fire and cats stuck in trees to the juggernaut it now was. The line between covering the news and making it had been blurred beyond recognition, Jiro thought as he glanced at the small TV in his office.

The talk show host was very careful to "guide" the audience into the desired direction. He kept going back to the fact that society was replete with unknown aliens who were a threat to (and Jiro hated this line) "our way of life."

With an unhappy grunt he snapped the TV off. Going to his window, Jiro shook his head what he'd just seen. That fool on TV was more interested in garnering rating than thinking about what he was really doing, whipping people up into frenzy over an imagined threat. Once, thought Jiro, just once more I'd like the chance to be a real newsman, not an entertainer.

As he pulled up the Venetian blinds his prayer was answered in the form of a man in a black tuxedo. The man stood calmly on the ledge even though it was ten floors above the street. Jiro pushed aside the impulse to give a surprised yelp and forced himself to open the window.

"Unless I miss my guess, you must be the man known as Tuxedo Kamen," said Jiro. He flung the window open to its widest point and motioned with his arm. "Please, do come in. I'm too old to be hanging out of windows for a story anymore."

The man in the black tuxedo gave a wry smile as he entered the room. "Sorry for the dramatics but this way seemed less likely to cause a commotion." He settled himself in the proffered chair with elegant grace. "How would you like an exclusive interview with myself and Sailor Moon?"

"If you didn't all ready know the answer to that question, you wouldn't be here asking me. Now I have one for you. Why me?" asked Yamamotto. He was gratified by the surprise that briefly flickered on the man's face.

"Because you seem to be an honest man," came the reply, "And someone who is less interested in self aggrandizing than in pursing the truth of a matter."

"What's the catch?" asked Jiro. This was just too good to be true.

Tuxedo Kamen shook his head, "No catch. There's only one ground rule for the interview. You can ask, but we will not tell you who the rest of the Senshi really are. In exchange for that, Sailor Moon and I will give you an hour that will make you the envy of every reporter on the planet."

Yamamotto pretended to be thinking about the offer. He slowly counted three in his head before he spoke again. "You'll have to take off that mask if we do this. If the rest of the Senshi are off limits, then you'll to tell me who you really are.

In response the man in the tuxedo smiled then took off his hat. He reached up, removed his white domino mask and placing it in the top hat, handed both to Yamamotto.

"My name is Chiba Mamoru."

"Will tomorrow afternoon at about one be a convenient time for you and Ms. Tsukino to come here, Chiba-san?" asked the newsman.

Tuxedo Kamen rose from the chair and headed back for the window. "One tomorrow it is, then." His black cape billowed in the wind and in a flash he was gone.

Jiro looked at the hat he held in hand for a long moment. Placing it carefully on his desk he grabbed the telephone and buzzed his secretary.

"Imiko, get a hold of the owners and all the senior staff. Tell them to come to my office at once. I have something that they will be very interested to hear."

"What?" Kashu all but shouted. "Chiba Mamoru is Tuxedo Kamen? Are you sure, Yoshi?"

Yoshi lowered his head and upper body in a way that gave him as much cover in the open newsroom as possible. "You heard me the first time, Hikaru-kun and I can't repeat it. I'm taking an awful risk as it is just calling you. If this news gets out before the interview and it's traced back to me, my career is finished."

"Then why are you calling me?"

Yoshi looked at the floor. "Because we both believe that this 'Sailor Moon' and her allies are a threat to all we hold dear. I can do nothing to stop these aliens but you can. This is the moment we dreamed about in college, Hikaru!" Fervor crept into his voice but he managed with effort to keep his tone from attracting attention.

"We can unite Japan against this threat! We can use it to regain our rightful place as the leaders of this country. Once the Samurai and other noble families restore the Emperor's rule, Japan will take her place as the leading nation on Earth!"

"Leave it to me, Yuri-kun," replied Kashu. "I know just what to do."

Kashu's mind was already racing before hung up the telephone, formulating a plan for what needed to be done. Chiba was Tuxedo Kamen? That answered a lot of questions and presented the solution to a major problem for Kashu. In a single move he could eliminate his rival for Serenity and her strongest protector. With Chiba gone, she would be his for the taking.

Yuri and his kind were fools. They saw only the glory of Japan's Imperial past and their heritage as nobles in a feudal society. Kashu had much bigger plans than restoring the old ways. With Serenity under his control, he could rule much more than a single nation.

His path to power was clear to him. In an instant he would achieve everything he wanted. All he had to do was kill Chiba. The thought of that moment gave him almost as much pleasure as the thought of having Serenity.

Rei's voice had been the strongest in opposition to making any kind of public statement. She didn't take the news very well. Fear and outrage vied for supremacy in her soul while she listened to what Mamoru and Usagi had planned. In the end, Rei handled the fear the way she always did, by getting angry.

"I can't believe you're going through with this madness," said Rei in an exasperated tone. "Kami-sama have mercy, Usagi, I thought you'd outgrown doing things this incredibly stupid!"

"Just because you don't like it doesn't make it 'stupid'," Usagi shot back, "And I'd thought you had grown out being this moronically pig headed, Rei!"

Mamoru sighed heavily as he came to stand with Usagi. Suddenly the two both seemed like they were fourteen years old again. He hoped they wouldn't start sticking their tongues out at each other.

"You're entitled to your opinion, Rei, but unless we come forward with some kind of response, someone out there will make one up for us," Mamoru said.

"You don't understand…" Usagi began again.

Rei was abruptly right in Usagi face, madder than Mamoru had seen her in years. "No, you don't understand! This is serious. This is dangerous. Kami-sama give me strength! Minako treats this whole thing like a game. Well, it not a game these people are not to be trusted. You have no right to do this, Usagi, no right."

"You're over reacting Rei-chan. We've faced worse villains than the media," said Usagi putting a hand on her friends shoulder, "Mamo-chan and I can handle this."

Rei reached up and slapped the hand away. "You fool. Do you have any idea what you are about to do to the rest of us? Have you even thought about that? Because you're the princess we have to sit back and watch you kiss up to some old man in front of a camera. Royalty doesn't pander Usagi, or do you think your mother the Queen would have approved of you prostituting yourself this way?"

Usagi jerked away from her friend as though Rei had struck her. She stopped as Mamoru put a hand on her arm. "That's enough Rei." His eyes were cold as ice as he turned to look at the Priestess. "If you feel that strongly about the interview, then don't come with us. I'm sure we can manage without your help today, Mars."

Her hands balling into fists, Rei glared right back at Mamoru. She let her transformation go. "That suits me very well, your Highness," she spat the title at him, hurt by his dismissal. "This way I won't have a front row seat as you two commit suicide on live television."

Gathering her purse, she stormed out of the Chiba apartment without a backward glance. Tears of anger were in her violet eyes as she left. Part of her knew she'd gone too far and regretted her harsh words. Part of her thought she hadn't gone far enough.

"Rei-chan…" Usagi moved to follow, but was stopped by Mamoru.

"No, Usako," he said taking her gently by the arm, "let her go. Give Rei some time to cool down, ne? You can talk to her later, after the interview."

Tenou Haruka, Sailor Uranus, stood with arms folded in front of one of the four doors in the studio. She was doing her best to appear unapproachable and it seemed to be working. Haruka noted with pleasure that the technical crew and station owners were keeping well clear of her.

When Minako had talked Usagi and Mamoru into this wretched interview, Haruka had insisted that she be one of the Senshi that went along to make sure that the Prince and Princess would be safe. She and Rei were of the same mind in this matter. Talking publicly about being Princess

Serenity was a monumental mistake. Minako was laboring under the misconception that in working with the media, they could exert some kind of control on the way the story was covered. Haruka remembered only too well how the press had savaged her by outing her relationship with Michiru. The was a small but persistent part of the media who were little more than a pack of jackals, Uranus thought, those who could never be controlled once they smelled blood.

Several of the younger male stage hands that were taken by Neptune's delicate beauty kept trying to talk to Michiru, not that Uranus could fault them for that she supposed. A glance told her that Jupiter was also the recipient of furtive looks. Uranus sighed inwardly. Mercury was lucky to be in the control room, watching over the technical aspects of the live broadcast. She was there to make sure that no "editorial" surprises popped up on the screen.

Haruka, Michiru and Makoto had been obvious choices to act as bodyguards. If they were somehow recognized they had least amount to loose. Makoto didn't have any family still left alive. Michiru's family, with few exceptions, had stopped talking to her when they found out about her relationship with Haruka. And as far as Haruka was concerned, Michiru was all the family she'd ever have or need. Minako's insistence at going along had been a surprise, though.

Almost as much a surprise as Mars sudden and unexplained absence.

A quick look at the Senshi of Venus showed that she was totally focused on the over lit stage where Usagi and Mamoru sat. There was something else driving Minako, Haruka knew, but exactly what that was remained a mystery.

The Senshi of Venus had done everything but write "Hello! I am Aino Minako" in fiery letters above her head. While the other had been very careful not use anything other than their Senshi names, Minako had been throwing her first name around and loudly, too. She was acting in a manner that was bordering on reckless. Haruka made a mental note to talk her and find out what was really going on later.

The Princess and her Prince sat side by side, linked in a way that was invisible, yet very clear for all to see. They were like day and night, sun and moon. She was in a white gown that seemed to glow softly. He wore a formal, black tuxedo and a domino mask. Even Uranus had to admit that Minako was right about having Usagi appear in capacity as Princess, rather than as Sailor Moon. Usagi had grown into her role as heir to the Silver Millennium over the years. When she thought of herself as Serenity, Usagi was somehow more graceful, more commanding of respect.

Mamoru hand's moved to his face and removed that mask as he told the world who he really was. In carefully measured tones first Mamoru, then Usagi, told the world about the last night of the Silver Millennium and how they had come to be reborn in this time and place. Yamamotto, to his credit, let them finish telling the tale before he asked the first questions about it.

"Prince of Earth and Princess of the Moon Kingdom?" he repeated Usagi's words slowly, "But what moon circling what planet?"

Usagi gave an innocent smile that showed her good heart. She pointed toward the ceiling, "That moon, Earth's moon, of course. It's true that I'm the reincarnated Princess of the Moon Kingdom, but as Tsukino Usagi, I was born not ten miles from this spot."

"So people have no reason to be afraid of you two and the others in your group?" asked Yamamotto.

Mamoru looked the newsman in the eye. "No. No cause other than a blind, unreasoned fear of the unknown."

"There's nothing to be afraid of," protested Usagi, "I was born in this city. I went to Juban High School and now go to Tokyo University. Yes, we're a little different genetically than most people, so what? Someone who had blue eyes is different genetically from someone who has brown eyes."

Haruka was amazed by the way most of the people in the small room were nodding their heads in agreement with Usagi. Experience had taught Uranus just the opposite about mankind, but Usagi's earnest belief in the basic goodness in people was infectious. Haruka prayed that the Princess was right this time.

Setsuna watched the crowd grow with unease. Last night, for the first time in years she'd felt something stir and awaken within her. She'd hoped it was just the shrimp she'd eaten, but sadly acknowledged what it really had been.

Setsuna had a kind of foresight, a gift from her mother's people, the Sh'Eyre, but she hadn't had a prophetic episode in centuries. Why would the gift suddenly reawaken now, she wondered? There was the unpleasant sensation of someone whispering in her ear but Setsuna couldn't make out the words. With a loud sigh, she forced herself to think about something else.

Sailor Pluto should have been in that studio with Usagi and Mamoru. While Setsuna understood that the existence of the Timegate had to be kept a secret, it wasn't as though Sailor Pluto had never been seen in public before. However, in deference to the wishes of the Princess and Prince, she'd agreed to stay out of her fuku and in the car.

'Selene help me,' Setsuna grumbled to herself, 'how the mighty have fallen. I've been relegated to chauffer.'

From inside the vehicle she watched as small groups of people started to show up outside the television station. Part of her knew that this kind of thing was inevitable. When most of the TV station's personnel knew about the interview, it was bound to get out ahead of time. It was the fact that the crowd was much too well organized for this to be happenstance that caused Setsuna alarm.

There were signs, some handwritten but most professionally printed, that shouted slogans like, "Earth for Humanity!", "Send back the illegal aliens!" and most disturbingly, "Keep Humanity Pure". Within five minutes there was a sea of agitated people surrounding the television station.

The whispers in her mind were growing louder now, more demanding. She was gripped by the urgent need to get to Usagi and Mamoru. Setsuna almost called out her henshin phrase right in the front seat of the car, but stopped herself at the last moment.

Logic told her that the appearance of Sailor Pluto could cause this crowd to boil over. A riot was the last thing they needed right now. Tucking the car keys into her pocket, Setsuna steeled herself and waded into the sea of protesters.

Sometimes, Kashu Hikaru mused, the simple ways were the best. He'd simply let an old acquaintance from college know that Sailor Moon and the Senshi would be here today. That man had called another man who held the same, narrow and xenophobic views and voila, an instant protest.

Kashu smiled to himself as he pulled his rifle out of the small case he carried and began to put it together. When chaos erupted, and he had no doubt that it would as soon as Serenity appeared, he only needed a minute at most to take advantage of it and remove Chiba. The rifle he held was equipped with infra-red sights and could drop a deer a half a mile away. Chiba would soon be very dead and Serenity would then be his within days.

Setsuna pushed her way through the increasingly agitated crowd. This was taking too long a part of her shouted She had to get to the Prince and Princess, now! With discipline she mastered the adrenaline charged feelings that gripped her.

Pluto suddenly remembered why she'd always disliked these charming, little episodes of precognition. It was like having someone yell frenzied instructions at you in a language you didn't understand, like trying to see someone who was just a shade to far away. Setsuna envied Rei's control of her second sight.

Some man with a bull-horn was shouting at the crowd. "The government isn't doing anything to protect us from these aliens," he called out to the people who flocked like sheep around him. "We have a right to keep our homes and families safe from alien influences and ways! They are un-natural, Godless creatures that shouldn't be allowed near decent, normal people. We know how to deal with them, don't we?"

The man with the bull-horn turned toward the building in back of him, "Send them out!" he called, "Send them out or we'll come in there and get them!"

The crowd roared its approval and pushed forward. Setsuna forcefully began to move people out of her way. The throng was chanting "Send them out!" as she neared the front.

The doors opened and the chanting became howls of anger. Usagi appeared with Mamoru on one side and Mercury on the other. Uranus, Neptune, Jupiter and Venus, in turn, surrounded them.

"Stop, please!" Usagi tried to shout above the noise, "There's no reason for this! You don't have to be afraid of us!"

Someone threw a rock toward Usagi and the trickle of anger in the crowd became a torrent. As if in cue, they started to rush toward the Senshi. Setsuna began to shove at the protestors in her way with increasing desperation. The voices of the people around her echoed the frenzied words in her head. The mass of writhing humanity was too much for Setsuna. Damning the consequences, she lunged forward shouting her henshin phrase.

"Eternal Pluto power, make up!"

Even as Setsuna began to transform, something inside her shattered with a painful snap. Jumbled images flooded her mind. The world seemed to slow and she experienced a curious kind of double vision.

Suddenly Setsuna knew, she saw…

Uranus raised a fist and it glowed as she gathered her power to her in a silent threat. Mako's brow furrowed as the air about them startedto crackle with gathering electricity. The crowd shouted its anger but backed off for a moment. The hostility in the throng was almost palpable.

Minako and Ami were pulled out of position as they tried to get the crowd to back off with a display of light and sound that was mostly for show. They knew that they couldn't use their attacks against people without risking severe injury or death. Neptune came up behind them and joined in the display.

Mamoru was totally focused on Usagi and keeping her safe. He never noticed the flash of red light the danced across his chest but Setsuna did. Pluto ignored the frightened shouts of the people around her as she transformed. Vaulting out of the crowd she brushed by the guardian Senshi. Even as Setsuna launched herself at Mamoru, she screamed her fear and rage across the bond she shared with her twin.

'He's after the Prince! Please God, let me be in time'

An invisible hand slammed her into Mamoru and they fell together. There was a moment of pain so acute that Pluto was struck mute by it. Setsuna was on top of Mamoru who looked at her with such child like surprise. His mouth was moving but she couldn't hear what he was saying.

Everything began to fade to gray as the pain pulsed in time with the beating of her heart. The last thing Setsuna was aware of was Lorilei's frantic, anguished calling in her mind. Then the world slipped away from her and she fell into a bottomless black hole.

Fatal Exposure

A Sailor Moon Story
by Meara

Part 6 of 13

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