Continuing Tales

Full Circle

A Sailor Moon Story
by Meara

Part 12 of 14

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Full Circle

His eyes were blue. The same midnight blue as her husband Hitori's had been; eyes that looked right down into your soul, able to strip away all illusion and see you for what you really were.

"If they're forcing you to do this, I can't leave you…" Mamoru started.

"I'll be fine – go!" Megumi shrieked. In that instant nothing mattered but keeping him safe. "Please, please go!"

Sailor Venus was pulling on his other arm and in the last moment before he left, Mamoru looked at her with Hitori's eyes, and then was gone. The door slammed behind him and Megumi was driven to her knees by a grief she hoped to never feel again. Her husband had been gone for over twenty years, but she still missed him everyday.

"Hitori…" she whispered, "Oh God help me, what have I done?"

Overwhelmed by shock and a cascade of conflicting emotions, Megumi never noticed the pool of night that slowly descended on the room. When the dark power struck her, Megumi barely felt it. She simply froze, like a deer trapped in the headlights of an oncoming car.

Floating in the shadows, Wiseman allowed himself a moment to savor what he was about to do. The circle of past and future was closing quickly now and his link to Kunshin was strong enough to reawaken ancient hates. Chiba Mamoru, Tuxedo Kamen, King Endymion – the man was an annoyance in each and every one of his incarnations. The small measure of revenge he had taken here brought twisted pleasure to Wiseman's black soul.

"You have done well, woman. All proceeds as I have planned," came Wiseman's voice. There was one last task to attend to. The tone was low and mesmerizing, implanting itself into the woman's mind. "You were being used by the Sons of the Golden Kingdom to get to Chiba Mamoru. Goruden Kobushi is an evil man. Goruden Kobushi would do anything to get to Chiba Mamoru. Goruden Kobushi threatened to hurt your daughters if you didn't help him."

The dark energy encasing Megumi flared for a moment. She gasped and stiffened before blindly nodding her head. Yes, that man Goruden, he was going to hurt Sakura and Tenshi if I didn't help him."

"Very good," Wiseman purred. "When the Senshi from the Moon Kingdom come, this is what you will tell them…"

Rei lost the baby four hours after they got her to the hospital. The blow to her abdomen had ruptured the placenta, tearing it from the uterine wall. Hotaru's timely intervention had stopped Rei from bleeding to death, but nothing could be done to save the baby. At under twenty weeks, little Miya was simply too small to survive on her own. The tiny baby girl died moments after her birth; her lungs too under-developed for her to even draw enough breath to cry.

It was hours later, the afternoon turning into night, before Usagi, Ami and Mako were finally able to see Rei. The lights had been dimmed, but as the three entered the room and Usagi could see that Rei's skin was starkly white against her raven hair, deep exhaustion written on her face as she lay in the bed.

"Rei-chan?" Usagi called out softly.

There were deep shadows under the purple eyes, but Rei tried to manage a wan smile for her friends. "It's okay, come on in. Yuuichirou is taking my grandfather back to the temple. He'll be back in a few minutes.'

"Oh, Rei-chan, "I'm so sorry…" Makoto began. She came to lean over Usagi's shoulder when the petite blonde sat on the edge of the bed.

Tears ran down Rei's face for an instant and she worked her jaw back and forth. Taking a deep breath she shook her head for a moment and the tears stopped. "Thank you," she replied, strangely calm. "But it wasn't her time to be born. I can only hope that the Kami sends her back to me when that time is right someday."

Coming to the other side of the bed, Ami took Rei's hand; alarmed by the brutal efficiency with which she was suppressing her emotions. "Don't do that, Rei. Don't try to be strong for us. It's okay to cry."

The hand was jerked away, as if Rei had been burned. "I don't want to cry," she said in a rough voice. "I can't."

Usagi couldn't stop her own tears. "Yes, you can Rei. It's all right…"

"No, no it's not all right!" Rei shouted at her. Usagi jerked with surprise by the outburst of anger. "You don't understand, none of you understand. I don't want to cry."

Doubling over, Rei wrapped her arms around herself. "I feel so empty. There's this hole inside me now," she moaned. "And it's so deep and I'm so afraid that I'll fall into it."

"Rei-chan," Makoto reached out to gently cup Rei's face. "Don't be afraid. If you fall, we'll be there to catch you."

The love and concern on their faces was too much. Rei began to shake, weeping with a grief that tore her asunder with each breath. "I never got to hold her," Rei sobbed, shattered by her loss. She buried her face in her hands. "I never even got to hold her!"

Usagi lunged for Rei, throwing her arms around her, desperate in the need to try and comfort the crushing grief. Makoto and Ami joined her, throwing their arms around the sobbing woman as she rocked back and forth in anguish.

"I want my baby," Rei keened as she wept. "I want my Miya! Make them give her to me."

They all cried, mourning with Rei for the little girl who never had a chance to live. Sheltered by the unconditional love of her friends, Rei wept her heart out. The tears were cathartic, laying down the foundation for the very long and painful road to healing. Rei would grieve the rest of her life for her lost child, but never as bitterly as she did at that moment. Finally, aided by the sedative Dr. Mizuno had given her, she fell into an exhausted slumber.

Yuuichirou, who had left only briefly to take Rei's grandfather back to the temple, came to sit on the side of the bed while the three young women left as quietly as they could. "Oh Firebird," he whispered reaching out to tenderly stroke her face.

The love and tenderness in his voice reopened a bleeding wound in Usagi's heart. Mamo-chan, she thought, where are you?

The damage to lesser Gate had been surprisingly minimal and Setsuna managed to get it up and running in only a couple of hours. It had been hoped that, finding the Gate unavailable, Mamoru and Minako would have sought sanctuary with one of their friends in Tokyo. Torn between the frantic need to find Mamoru and staying to support Rei, Usagi had allowed herself to be convinced that it was unwise for her to go to Earth right now. Haruka and Michiru had been dispatched to try and find them, but that had been hours ago. With each passing minute, Usagi was more and more convinced that something awful had happened.

As she moved into the hall, Usagi saw that Haruka and Michiru were waiting for her. The look on their faces said it all.

"Let's go some place where we can talk," Michiru said gently. "The good news is that they're alive."

Haruka looked grim. "The bad news is that the Sons have them."

"It was very well organized and was over in a matter of minutes. By the time the police got there, they were long gone. This whole meeting was a trap set by Goruden Kobushi." Haruka sat hunched forward with her elbows on her knees, a picture of suppressed anger.

"Usagi, we're sure they're both alive," Michiru added raising her eyebrows at her lifemate. Haruka could be much too brusque, too much to the soldier sometimes. "The woman Mamoru was going to see, Chiba Megumi, said that both of them were alive but unconscious when they were taken away."

A strange calm had settled over Usagi after they left Rei. She wasn't sure if it was confidence that they would rescue Mamoru and Minako or shock at having her worst fears proven to be true. "You spoke to her? Does she know where they took Mamo-chan and Minako?"

Michiru continued while she watched Luna hop up onto the couch beside Usagi and climb into her lap. "That's what took us so long. The press is all over her. It's seems the Sons miscalculated badly on this one. The public isn't happy at all with their strong-arm tactics. We had to get Motoki-san to come with us before she'd even open the door."

"That bastard Goruden was threatening her children to gain her cooperation," Haruka growled. "Goruden didn't tell her where they were going, but Megumi overheard some of the men talking about the Dogo Spa area."

"The Dogo Spa area is fairly remote, and about three hours away from Tokyo. We used to go there when I was younger," Ami put in thoughtfully. "There are also a goodly number of large estates owned by rich families out there. It would the perfect place to hide Mamoru and Minako."

"So how do we find them?" Makoto asked. She was anxious and upset by the day's events. The thought of being able to vent her frustrations by pounding several of the Sons into the ground was an appealing one.

Ami looked at Setsuna and they shared a wry grin. The two were the most technically adept of the Senshi and shared a fascination with computers. A project like this would keep her mind active and centered on something other than the grief of Rei's miscarriage. "The old fashioned way," Ami replied succulently. "I'll hack into the provincial computers and try to find a property that might be owned by this Goruden Kobushi or the Sons."

"You can do that?" Makoto sounded impressed. "Sweet! Maybe someday you can hack into the traffic court computers and take care of some outstanding parking tickets for me."

"I'll take it under advisement. Setsuna would you care to join me?" Ami asked.

"Thank you, perhaps later. There's something else that also needs attending to at the moment." Setsuna turned to look at Usagi. "I've hesitated to bring it up before now, but we of the Outer Senshi have been experiencing an unease that may have something to do with the current situation."

"Why haven't you said anything before now?" Luna sounded peeved.

"Because until today all we've had is a vague feeling that something wasn't right," Michiru replied. "But earlier this afternoon I was using the Mirror to try and pinpoint what was causing that unease and I got an answer I didn't expect. Something, some dark shadowy creature, used the Mirror to look back at us. It even spoke to Hotaru."

"I sent him packing," Hotaru said, pleased with herself.

"The Dark Man?" Artemis wondered aloud from his seat next to Ami. "Do you think it was him?"

Usagi paled at that the thought that the same creature who'd been stealing her life energy now had her beloved and one of her best friends. "Kunshin Tetsu is with the Sons."

Ami saw Usagi's reaction and spoke up at once. "Mamoru and Minako are alive, Usagi. I've been researching these Sons for weeks now and if there's one thing I'm very sure of it's that they won't hurt Mamoru. They've spent almost a thousand years all but deifying Endymion – and if they went to all this trouble to get Mamoru they have got to know that he's Endymion reincarnated. They'll do anything to protect him."

"But what about Minako?" Artemis all but shouted. He was frantic with worry about her, but trying to hide it. "They think she's some sort of witch!"

Usagi was stroking Luna's soft coat and gave the white cat a sad smile. "Mamo-chan won't let them hurt her, Artemis."

"More than likely she's being held as a hostage to his good behavior or the Sons they would have killed Minako outright." Uranus noted with a shake of her head. "That gives us at least a little time to try and find them."

Usagi got up and went to the window as Haruka spoke. She pulled back to blinds and stared at that blue planet just now rising above the horizon. "We will find them," Usagi vowed softly. She called out to Mamoru with all the strength of her love for him.

Mamo-chan, Minako, please be safe. You promised me Mamo-chan, remember? 'Together what ever happens'. You can't break that promise. I won't let you!

Time ceased to have much meaning for Mamoru. He half woke at countess intervals to confusing blur of faces and voices. He ate what was put to his lips without protest, drank what was offered and then slept once more. Maybe it was yet another dream, but for a moment, Mamoru thought he could hear Usagi calling out to him and it roused him from his slumber. It was the scent of freshly brewed coffee, French vanilla, that finally pulled Mamoru completely awake. The aroma was familiar and he gave a soft smile as his eyes opened. He expected to see Usagi, silver tresses falling down around her in a glorious silken wave, cradling a thick, stone-wear mug of her favorite morning drink in her delicate hands.

That wasn't the sight that greeted the Prince of Earth.

A woman, young and very pretty he noticed in a distracted way, hummed to herself as she set a large tray down on a nearby table. It took her a moment, but at last she saw that Mamoru was awake. She batted large, green eyes at him and giggled coquettishly.

"Well, good morning!"

His mouth was very dry and Mamoru licked his lips, confused. "Do I know you?" he asked, unusually blunt. His head was buzzing unpleasantly and he blinked several times as his vision blurred. Why did he feel so strange?

"My name is Angelina," she sauntered towards the bed. "And I'm here to serve your," she paused to look him up and down. Then leaned over the bed to give him a good view of her very generous assets. "Your …every need."

Two thoughts came to Mamoru at the same time. The first was that this Angelina would give herself a nasty case of whiplash if she stood upright too quickly. The second was that if Usagi walked in on this display she'd rip the lips right off this girl's face in record time.

It was about then that the dark haired prince of earth noticed that he didn't recognize the bed in which he lay. For that matter, it slowly filtered into his fuzzy brain, the rest of the room was unfamiliar too. Unless Usagi had done some serious redecorating while he slept, then something was very wrong here.

"That will be quite enough, Angelina," came a male voice. "You're here to serve the prince his breakfast, not have him for lunch."

The voice provoked a stirring of memory in Mamoru. He swung his head towards the man, trying to ignore the dizziness the action caused.

"Oh, Kobushi, you such a spoilsport" Angelina pouted. "I'm wasn't going to hurt him."

Goruden Kobushi folded his arms across his chest and tipped his head at the young woman. "I know exactly what you were going to do with him, my dear." A hand dismissed her. "Out."

Mamoru barely notice the young woman as she flounced out of the room, a pout spoiling her pretty face. His whole attention was turned on the man with the golden eyes. Bits and pieces of memories, like a fragmented dream, floated disjointedly in his mind. The fight on the roof, Minako screaming in pain, hands holding him down while something wet and cold was put over his face – it all came back to Mamoru with a rush.

"Minako," Mamoru demanded in a slurred voice, "Where is she?"

What seemed to be pain passed across the face of Goruden Kobushi. "She's been sedated, but is unhurt, I promise. The others wanted to kill her, but I told them that she's more valuable alive and as a hostage to your cooperation than dead. As long as you behave yourself, I can convince them to leave her alone."

Going to the window, Kobushi's gaze grew distant. "I know now that she enchanted me, stole my heart through magic, much as you were bespelled my Prince. Even still, I find I can't let them hurt her."

"You're with the 'Sons of the Golden Kingdom', aren't you?" It was less a question than a statement. "What do you want with me?"

"We've come to set you free, Endymion."

Both men turned to see an elderly man, small with neatly trimmed white hair, stroll into the room. He had an air of authority about him, crisp and effective. This was a man used to getting his way by the force of his personality.

"Yes," he saw the slight narrowing of Mamoru's eyes, "We know who you are. You are Endymion, the rightful and true Prince of Earth. With our help, you'll soon be free of the dominance of the Witch Queen of the Moon Kingdom."

Mamoru wanted to tell these people that they were wrong, but his mind was still too foggy to form a rational argument. He wanted to henshin, find Minako and get the hell out this place. He wanted to be back with Usagi.


There was something about these Sons of the Golden Kingdom that was dangerous to Usagi. A name danced elusively at the edge of his memory. A voice, cold as death and the vision of shadowy hands wrapping themselves around Usagi's neck flashed through Mamoru's mind. All the thoughts mixed together at once, making the dizziness return in force. Why was it so bloody hard for him to think?

"Drugged," he said more to himself than the others. He looked at the Goruden and the Elder. "You've drugged me."

"I told you he'd figure it out, Elder," Goruden said with what sounded like humor.

"So you did Kobushi," the Elder replied with a sharp glance at Goruden. "You also said the he'd care about the life of the witch that was with him. If her safety means anything to you, my Prince, you'll do as we ask."

"The medication is just something to make you more," Kobushi stopped to find just the right word. "…more amenable to the help we're going to be giving you. Please, if you don't cooperate they'll kill Mina."

The anger that rose inside Mamoru helped to burn off some of the dizziness. His mind turned in furious circles. Mamoru wasn't sure how long it would be before they would try to pump another round of "medication" into him. Once that happened, his ability to think even semi-clearly would be gone. He'd be a puppet, a pawn for them to use in an insane quest against Usagi. Whatever the cost, Chiba Mamoru swore that he'd never allow himself to be used like that again.

The door opened yet again and a third man entered. The toothy, almost feral smile he wore was enough to make Mamoru's stomach knot with apprehension. With a confidence that bordered that arrogance, he walked towards the Prince.

"Hello, Mamoru-san," his voice was smooth and his charm practiced. "I'd like to have a talk with you about the Moon Kingdom."

This was the best day of Kunshin Tetsu's life. Goruden was in with their precious "True Prince" right now. Before that, though, Kunshin had happily watched the delightful spectacle of the Golden Boy looking at the nearly unconscious Senshi. Kobushi hadn't said a word, just stared at her and the pain on his face brought joy to Kunshin's black heart. Revenge was everything he'd ever hoped for – and best of all, it was only just beginning.

The house the Sons had taken Mamoru and Minako to was in a fairly remote location. Only a dozen people even knew of this location and seven of them were here to oversee the safety of the Prince. Kunshin was able to take them out, one by one, draining their lives from them as he went. There was only one man standing outside the door to the room that held Minako. Doped up to her eyeballs, the young woman was very unlikely to be able to muster any kind of resistance to her imprisonment and the guard was more for show than anything else. The man wasn't even armed and that made Kunshin's task all the easier.

Checking to make sure that they were quite alone, Kunshin opened himself full to the dark power inside him. The air temperature dropped precipitously and the guard looked around, confused. It was doubtful that he ever saw the demonic hands that snaked out of the cold and grabbed him by the throat. As quickly as they had struck, the hands pulled back to Kunshin. There was a moment of stark terror on the guard's face and he struggled vainly against the power that held him.

Kunshin's eyes flashed with the dark energy that was so much a part of him now. "I'm going to take charge of the prisoner now," he said to the shocked man. "I trust you have no objections to that?"

The guard's life was sucked out of him before Kunshin even finished speaking. The empty husk of a body was tossed carelessly aside and Kunshin opened the door. Minako was on the bed, all but insensible from the poisons in her system. She saw him and tried to unsuccessfully to rise, but Kunshin loomed over her an evil smile coming to the shadowy face.

"Hello Mina," his arms slithered out to grab her, "I believe we have some unfinished business."

Cold, dark and lifeless, the asteroid moved through the silent realms of space on a path laid out by fate thousands of years ago. It appeared to be an unremarkable hunk of rock to the casual observer; the surface pitted and scarred during its eons long journey. But hidden from view under layers of stone and metallic ore was an ebony jewel. The now dormant Black Poison Crystal lay at the very heart of the asteroid, waiting to be awakened.

Wiseman could sense Kunshin draining the life energy from the people who were in his way, one by one. The changes in his past self were accelerating at a geometric pace now, though Kunshin was only marginally aware of that fact. Wiseman was carefully suppressing thoughts that might make Tetsu question the cost of the path that he had to travel in order to secure the final victory. The pleasure his past self was experiencing echoed vividly though the consciousness of Wiseman. The two were growing more strongly linked with each passing hour.

Wiseman turned his attention away from Tetsu and the addictive lure of physical pleasure. He could sense that the planetoid containing the quiescent Black Poison Crystal had now slipped within the outer fringes of the solar system. The moment that Wiseman had spent so long waiting for was at hand. Although exactly how long he'd been here in this dark corner of the fourth dimension he couldn't truly say. Time was not bound by rules in this place and it moved according to its own whims.

Something tugged at the edge of Wiseman's perceptions, subtle and fleeting. The tenuous invader was trying the pierce the veil of endless and silent night that was Wiseman's sanctuary. Carefully, he started to follow the thin thread of consciousness back to its source. There was a flash of concern and surprise, then link was abruptly severed, but not before Wiseman deduced the identity of the stranger – no he corrected himself. There had been more than one mind searching for him. It seemed that these Senshi were more clever than he'd thought.

The circle was closing quickly now and Wiseman knew that his chance to seize control of the wheel of fate was almost upon him. He could risk neither interference nor intrusion at this point. Opening his shattered mind to the darkness around him, Wiseman became one with it and let it reflect the insane chaos of his twisted soul.

And the fourth dimension exploded into seething, temporal storm.

For all her elegant ways, Michiru could be driven once she got an idea into her head. Her lifemate, Haruka, had learned over the years to simply stand back and let Michiru have her way. Still, that didn't mean it was easy for her to do. Arms folded across her chest, the tall, blonde Solider of the Sky watched with silent apprehension as Michiru tried to link herself to Setsuna. She glanced at Lorilei who stood quietly a short distance away. The shy musician was worrying her lower lip with her teeth. That Lorilei was nervous about this did little to reassure Haruka.

"Are you sure this is a good idea?" Haruka called out once more. The thought of having someone poke around inside her own head was not a pleasant one and she wondered why Michiru would willingly invite that kind of intrusion.

"Not really, "Michiru replied, "But I still need to do it."

Setsuna, for her part, would attempt to guide Michiru and help her sort through the confused, rapid-fire images the Mirror gave her. She opened her own, limited telepathic gift and gently took Michiru's hand. The contact allowed her to "see" what Neptune was seeing as she, in turn, opened her own bond to her talisman.

It was chaos, utter, total and complete chaos. A thousand shades of black all mingled together in full arisen sea of night. The brief flashes of images within that dark ocean hit like lightening. The microsecond of clarity among the roiling shadows was almost more confusing than the shadows themselves.

One image, came Setsuna's voice in Michiru's mind. The essence of that voice was rich, tempered by age and experience, an island of calm in the sea of confusion. Pick one image and ignore the rest.

Michiru felt ghostly "hands", as Setsuna tried to help her pull a single image out of the sea of chaos. For an instant, they had it and she clearly saw a black gem. Multifaceted, it shone with an unearthly light that fed the swirling ocean of shadows.

Before she could wonder just what it was, there was the feeling of another mind trying to enter the link - cold, dark and monstrous. With a flash of alarm that Michiru felt, Setsuna immediately severed the connection, but not fast enough. The ocean of darkness rose up, trying to engulf Michiru and with her, Setsuna.

But Setsuna had her own anchor in the storm, her link with Lorilei. That bond was at a level too deep to be broken by anything but death. It allowed Setsuna to pull herself and Michiru out of chaos and unerringly back to their bodies.

Eyes that had been clouded while she used her inner sight cleared suddenly, and Michiru swayed unsteadily for a moment. Haruka darted forward to help her lifemate. Setsuna felt Lorilei press a hand into her own, their fingers intertwining. With that touch some her sister's strength flowed into her.

"Are you all right," Haruka asked. She knew this wasn't a good idea. "What just happened?"

"I'm not sure," Michiru replied. She shuddered with a lingering chill. The mind they had encountered was evil enough to make her feel soiled by its brief touch.

"I am." Setsuna's voice was strong and clear, but couldn't hide the apprehension. A raised hand called her Timestaff and it came at once to her. The garnet orb pulsed softly as Pluto opened the portal to the Timegate. The ethereal "doors" slid open to reveal a mass of churning darkness that roared like a ravening beast.

"That," said Setsuna," is a time storm. You were quite right, Michiru. Whatever the evil approaching is, it is a creature that lives outside the bounds of time and within the fourth dimension."

The maelstrom was oddly compelling for Setsuna and she raised a single hand to gently stroke the edges of the Gate's portal. "This display of chaos is meant as both a barrier and warning."

With a grunt, Haruka folded her arms across her chest again. "I may not be a Seer like you two, but even I can read the message here." She gestured with her head towards the seething portal, her voice grim.

"Keep out."

Mizuno Ami was very good at puzzles and, in a way, they were a kind of obsession for her. Most people assumed that with her gifted intellect and quick mind, she relished the challenge of one. In reality, she hated the organize chaos that some people tried to pass off as amusements. "A" plus "B" should always equal "C". Her orderly mind couldn't rest until she figured what was missing to make the equation work.

She knew that "A, in this case, was the Dogo Spa area. "B was in all likelihood a private house, Ami reasoned. Very few respectable hotels catered to clientele who brought in people trussed up like a roasting chicken to keep them from escaping. "C" would be the exact location where Mamoru and Minako were being held.

She hacked into the Provincial Government computer with relative ease (another pitfall of nepotism in government was hiring someone's cousin to do security instead of the best qualified person). There were close to four hundred private homes in the area and she kept having to narrow her search parameters down incrementally. Within a day she'd managed to narrow the list down to one hundred homes.

Over the next two days, helped by a revolving door of people, she slogged through the records on those homes, one by one, looking for a way to tie them to Goruden Kobushi and the Sons. Ami laughed softly when the answer was finally before her. Like most puzzles, the answer was absurdly simple once you knew the proper question to ask. The answer to "C" was Elysion.

The house was an estate that had been owned by the same family for generations. It wasn't the largest in the area, but at over 20 acres, it ensured more than enough privacy to quietly hold two people against their will. Ami had missed the most vital clue the first time she'd looked at the records on the property. The title to the property had been amended only a few months ago. In the 1920's and the subsequent rush by some in Japan to appear "modern", some ancestor had taken a page from western culture and named the estate Elysion. The change on the title was to have that name stricken from the records. To most people, it would seem to be nothing more than a fastidious owner undoing the pretentious affectation of a great-grand parent, but Ami knew better.

Elysion was where the Golden Kingdom had existed a thousand years before.

She didn't allow herself to bask in the afterglow of scholarly accomplishment. Ami instead brought up all the geo and topographical maps of the area she could locate and printed them out. The next puzzle to be solved was even more complicated than finding where the Sons might be hiding Mamoru and Minako – how to free them without people getting killed.

From the look on the face of the man who wanted to "talk" to him about the Moon Kingdom, Mamoru decided, he wasn't very happy. That suited Mamoru just fine, as he'd spent the last three and half hours doing two things at once. The first was arguing with almost every word that came out the man's mouth. The second was less noticeable than the first, but much more vital and most of his attention was focused on it.

Slowly, very slowly so as not to attract attention, Mamoru was using the golden crystal inside him to burn off the effects of the drugs he'd been fed. As with the shaping of the crystal rose for Usagi, it was delicate work. Parts of his body, like his liver and kidneys, needed to work faster, without dramatically increasing his blood pressure.

"So you see, Mamoru-san, Blessed Beryl left us the task of finding and freeing the Golden Crystal – and as it turns out, finding and freeing you. Her love for you was boundless," the man speaking had a look of satisfaction on his face.

"Blessed Beryl?" Mamoru found himself repeating, incredulous.

The man shook his head quickly in agreement. "Yes, Blessed Beryl. Remember what I told you? She was aided by the angel Metallia on her quest to free the earth from the evil grip of the Silver Millennium."

Despite his intentions to keep a poker face, Mamoru burst out laughing. That, clearly, was not what the man had expected to see.

"Your 'Blessed Beryl' was, quite literally, a witch. And Metallia was anything but an angel! The only boundless emotion Beryl had for me was lust, not love." The drugs in his system made Mamoru a little freer with his tongue than he normally was and he found himself vocalizing thoughts he hadn't meant to.

With a sigh and a shake of his head, the man seemed more than a little frustrated. "I can see that your re-education is going to be a lengthy process, my Prince."

Goruden Kobushi sat on the chair backwards, his arms and chin resting on the top of the back of it while he observed. We have always been told that Prince Endymion was very strong willed. But perhaps he's a little more so than even you anticipated, ne?"

"I have vowed that I'll free our Prince from the spell the Witch Queen of the Moon Kingdom cast on him and I'll do just that. Even if it takes a year!" From the way things were going at the moment, the man thought, it just might take two.

Still too much in the grip of the pharmaceuticals in his blood, Mamoru burst out laughing again as it hit it him. Everything came together in a moment that gave him hope that his mind was starting to work again.

"You're trying to brainwash me? You have got to be kidding," he said consumed with grim amusement. "Excuse me, but I've been 're-educated' by professionals and trust me, you don't even come close to a Metallia or a Nehelenia."

The energy used for the laughter took its toll and Mamoru reeled, the room spinning around him. He slumped backwards in the large bed, things going gray around him. He felt a glass pressed into his hands and raised to his lips. Mamoru started to push it away, fearing more drugs hidden in the drink. He was so close to breaking free. Another infusion would undo all the work of the last three hours.

"It's all right," came the soothing voice of Goruden, "It's just orange juice. There's nothing in it, I promise."

"He needs another dose of medication," the man said. "The Prince should be much more receptive than he is. Something isn't right."

"No more for now," Goruden snapped, golden eyes angry. "Can't you see that the drugs are hurting him? This session is over for the day."

"You don't have the authority…" the deprogrammer started in a huff.

"I damn well do and you know it! Challenge me on this and I'll see you permanently removed from this endeavor."

Mamoru gulped down the glass of juice, his mouth still dry as dust. "Thank you," he said to Kobushi. The man was such a contradiction, Mamoru thought. One moment Goruden was quietly watching while Mamoru was worked over by a man toying with his mind and coming to his aid the next.

"I won't let them hurt you," Goruden replied honestly. "This world has waited too long for you, and it needs you too badly. Once you're free of the influence of the Moon Witch, then you can lead us on a quest that will finally bring lasting peace.

Whether it was the drugs in his system, or the fact that Kobushi seemed to honestly care, Mamoru smiled at him. "How can I get you to understand that you're wrong about the Moon Kingdom?"

The smile that Goruden returned was a sad one. "I'm sorry, but the enchantment she's woven about you is so strong that I'm not sure you even know what you're saying. The evil is there, you just can't seem to see it."

Slumping against the pillows, Mamoru groaned. For some reason a line from the Christian Bible came to his mind. There are none so blind as those who will not see.

Mamoru looked at Goruden and sighed. "You can't consider that you might be wrong, can you?"

Before Kobushi could answer, the temperature in the room seemed to drop suddenly. The hairs on the back of Mamoru's neck stood up while shadows crept in, filling the area with a freezing black mist. Goruden looked at his Prince, wondering if he was somehow doing this when a voice grabbed both their attentions.

"You are such a fool, dear Kobushi-kun." Out of the cold and darkness Kunshin Tetsu walked into the room, the body of the now dead deprogrammer held in one mottled hand. "Your precious Prince Endymion is quite correct, you know. The evil isn't on the Moon. It's right here."

The fog in Mamoru's mind burned off a little more as a surge of adrenaline ran through him. He knew that voice and reacted to it. With a low growl, he shot off the bed, his wrist twisting to call one of his enchanted roses. Tuxedo Kamen came to life, but the drugs had taken their toll. Mamoru's reflexes were slowed and clumsy. He had only time to pull his arm back in preparation to throw the dagger sharp rose.

Dropping the body, dark energy shot from Kunshin Tetsu and into the Prince, catching him squarely in the chest. Mamoru slammed into the wall behind him, slumping to the floor in a daze. Mottled hands slithered out to grab him by the throat.

"Tetsu?" Goruden shouted, at last finding his voice. "What the hell are you doing?" He leapt at Kunshin, trying to protect Mamoru and was immediately struck by black fire. He convulsed and fell to lay unmoving.

Kunshin ignored the prostrate Goruden for the moment, pulling Mamoru to him and turning the full force of his power on him. "Sleep," he snarled with real hatred. "Sleep, oh great True Prince. As much as I'd like to kill you right now, I need you alive for a bit longer."

Black fire engulfed Mamoru and he stiffened with the agony it caused him. His eyes grew heavy, half closing as a vacant look filled them. In his mind the shadows rose up, swallowing him whole. Mamoru could feel it grabbing him, pulling him down into a cold and deadly darkness from which there was no escape. The last thing he was aware of was the sound of Kunshin laughing.

"Now Usa must come to me."

Full Circle

A Sailor Moon Story
by Meara

Part 12 of 14

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