Continuing Tales

Full Circle

A Sailor Moon Story
by Meara

Part 13 of 14

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Full Circle

Minako finally stopped screaming. She lay in Kunshin Tetsu's arms, shivering with pain and an icy cold that cut her to the bone. One hand curled around her throat, Kunshin never took his eyes from Goruden Kobushi while he slowly ripped the life force out of her, bit by agonizing bit.

Goruden was held against a wall, pinned in place by shadowy bonds at his wrists and waist. He strained at them, pushing with all the strength he had, but couldn't make them budge an inch. The frustration he felt made the Dark Man smile with satisfaction.

"Stop it! You're killing her!" Kobushi shouted in anguish. "Leave her alone, I'm the one you want, not her!"

Kunshin glanced at the woman in his embrace dispassionately. Minako was shaking, her body utterly exhausted by the physical and psychic assault. Draining any more of her sweet energy could kill her outright and he didn't want that, not yet anyway. The revenge Kunshin Tetsu had anticipated for years was finally here and he intended to savor it as long as he could. He slowly removed his hand.

"Don't be a bigger fool than you all ready are, Kobushi," Kunshin drawled as he stood up, Minako in his arms. A devilish grin split his face. "Of course I want her, she's quite delectable. Hurting you is just a pleasant bonus."

With great care, Kunshin set her down just out of Goruden's reach, but close enough for him to clearly see her trembling and gasping for breath. The drugs the Sons had given Minako made it much easier to keep her under Kunshin's control. Without them, he'd have to have put her into a much deeper stupor and then she wouldn't have been able to scream as delightfully as she did. It did, however, require a great deal of his energy and concentration to keep two people under his control at the same time. Kunshin could feel Mamoru struggling against the power that held him captive. Between keeping Minako immobile and the energy needed to subdue the Prince, he was pushed to his limits right now.

"Monster," Kobushi strained at the inky shackles once more. "When I get out of here, I am going to rip your traitorous heart out of your chest! How could you betray everything you believed in so easily? You swore an oath of loyalty to the True Prince."

That made Kunshin laugh. "So noble, so self righteous; you still don't understand, you blind fool. The Moon Kingdom was never the source of the evil that invaded earth. The Sons are a joke, Kobushi - a thousand year old fraud based on a lie!"

Contempt twisted Kunshin's features into a masked of hatred. "To think I wasted time being envious of an insignificant fool like you." He stepped closer to Kobushi, leaning forward. "And I did envy you, you know. The great Goruden Kobushi! The Golden Boy that everyone loved and couldn't do enough for while I labored in obscurity – in your shadow! I was never good enough for the Elders, never the one everyone thought might be the oh-so-precious True Prince."

Ebony light filled Kunshin's eyes, played around his body. "But I am so far beyond anything you could have ever dreamed of being," he hissed.

Turning, Kunshin walked to where Tuxedo Kamen sat on the floor, slumped like a broken doll against one wall. His half closed eyes were vacant and empty, staring vacuously ahead. Every now and then Mamoru would gasp, trying to break free of the prison inside his own psyche. It alarmed Kunshin to realize that it was taking a little longer each time for him to pull the Prince's mind back down into the darkness.

"Take a good look at your True Prince now Kobushi," Tetsu said prodding Mamoru with his foot. "Still think he's the one destined to rule this world?" the laughter that came from Kunshin was cruel.

Wiseman faded into a corner of the room, sitting in a pool of night. "Tetsu, you can amuse yourself with him later. There are more pressing matters to attend to. The planetoid containing the Black Poison Crystal, Nemesis, is finally close enough for you to access. Your destiny is at hand."

No face was visible within the tattered cloak he wore, but the pinpoints of light that were his eyes flared brightly for a moment. As past and future grew closer together Wiseman found himself remembering just how much he had despised Goruden. It was getting harder to keep the seething hatred Tetsu felt for the man from influencing him. Wiseman allowed himself only a moment to share the satisfaction Tetsu was feeling as he taunted Goruden before he faded back into the shadows that seemed such a part of him. He couldn't afford the distraction right now, not with the circle of fate closing so quickly.

"Usa…" Kunshin's voice was little more than a whisper as he imagined the delights he would experience channeling her power into himself. He gave Mamoru one more kick before moving back to Kobushi. "You and the Sons dreamed of getting your hands of the Witch Queen of The Moon Kingdom. I'm about to do what you couldn't Kobushi. And once I have her, I have the means to my impending ascension to godhood." He reached out a hand and took Goruden by the chin.

Kobushi tried to jerk his head free, but the hand was like cold iron and he couldn't move. "Godhood? You're insane," he managed to say threw clenched teeth.

Kunshin leaned forward until his face was just inches from Kobushi's. "Insane? Small words from an even smaller man." He slid a hand over Kobushi's face, leaving a dark and icy gag over Goruden's mouth. "Just watch and see how real power is taken."

Kobushi glared with unconcealed hatred at Kunshin Tetsu who turned and, laughing with delight, moved to face the portal now appearing. Shaking with rage Kobushi tried to shout a curse at Kunshin but stopped short when he saw Mamoru move slightly. Kunshin's back was still to the tuxedo clad Prince of Earth or he'd have seen the brief flash of golden light that ran though Prince's body. A name formed on Mamoru's lips and for a brief instant he called it soundlessly.


As his mind hovering between dreams and wakefulness, Mamoru drifted in a nocturnal sea. The icy waters cradled him gently, trying to lull him into an eternal sleep. He was tired, though, and the seductive call of slumber was hard to resist. But each time he started to slip away into true dreams a sharp pang ran through Mamoru. In a brief moment of clarity, he would remember how he'd come to this place of endless night and struggle to be free of darkness that held him enthralled. The rebellion never lasted long before the shadows rose once more to smother his thoughts and will. Mamoru was pulled back down into the void and he started to drift away once more.

How long he repeated the cycle of struggle and subjugation, Mamoru wasn't sure. But this time, as his mind fought clear of the darkness, words invaded the nocturne and an image burned itself into his mind. He saw Kunshin Tetsu standing over him, felt the discomfort as the dark man prodded him with a foot. But it was a single word that Mamoru clung to as the darkness rose to claim him once more.


That name brought a memory. The memory brought knowledge. The knowledge brought anger to which Mamoru clung stubbornly. He allowed it to fuel his rebellion against the shadows that wanted to hold him down.

He was Tuxedo Kamen…

…He Endymion, Prince of Earth…

…He was Chiba Mamoru and he would not be held against his will!

A flicker of light started deep within his heart, the warmth of it fighting against the icy paralysis in his limbs. The process was painfully slow but even in his spellbound state he knew that this was his way to freedom. Mamoru clung to the name that gave him the strength to fight. He repeated it endlessly. It was his battle call, his mantra, and his focus.


He had promised himself that he'd never be used as a pawn to hurt Usagi again. Whatever the cost for his freedom was, Mamoru was going to pay it – and then pay back Kunshin Tetsu for all the pain he'd caused. Pouring his strength into sustaining the golden light that grew inside him, Mamoru once again began his long uphill fight to freedom.

It was an interesting twist of irony that the same hands that wielded the instrument of total destruction, the Silence Glaive, could also heal, Makoto thought as she watched Hotaru work on Rei. Hotaru had never gotten very tall and, next to Usagi, was the smallest of the Senshi. But as with Usagi, size was no indicator of strength Mako knew. Sailor Saturn could destroy an entire world, but as Tomoe Hotaru the diminutive young woman could save a single life. Those healing hands glowed softly as they touched Rei, the warmth in them soothing away the pain of torn tissues and aching muscles. If only they could sooth an aching heart, Mako mused grimly, then it would be a miracle indeed.

Setsuna sighed quietly as she stood next to Makoto. "Be careful Hotaru-chan," she gently cautioned. "Don't give too much of yourself in the healing."

The hands lifted from Rei and Hotaru looked at her foster mother. "It's okay Setsuna-mama," she winked as she used the term of affection. "My gift seems to be getting stronger the more I use it."

Rei also opened her eyes, sitting up. "And I thank you for your help. Without you it would take me three weeks to heal as much as I have in the last three days."

"Dr. Mizuno isn't happy with you rushing the healing like this, Rei." Hotaru gave a long stretch.

Rei carefully slid off the side of the bed, pleased when her muscles didn't scream at her in protest. Ami's mother is an excellent doctor and a very nice woman, but she doesn't understand. When Ami finds where Mamoru and Minako-chan are being held, I have to be ready to go."

"Perhaps she's right this time, Rei," Setsuna said gently. "You should take all the time you need instead of rushing back to full duty."

Rei grimaced for a moment, fighting back the grief that threatened to erupt in her once more. "I won't lose anyone else I love to the Sons. No, I have to be ready to go."

Setsuna drew another breath to speak, but stopped when Makoto placed a light hand on her arm.

"Rei-chan knows what she's doing," she said. More than most people Makoto understood what was driving her friend. The conflicting emotions, the engulfing grief at odds with the burning need to find some kind of justice, were eating Rei alive. The only sane outlet for all of it was in a fight that she knew Rei considered honorable.

The door to the small room opened and Ami popped her head in. "Sorry. Is Usagi with you?"

"No," Rei replied, her heart beating faster in anticipation of what Ami would say. "She was here earlier but looked tired so I booted her home to get so rest. Why?"

"I think I've found where Mamoru and Minako are being held."

"Then what are we waiting for – let's go find Usagi and tell her!" Makoto started for the door when something caught the edge of her vision. He paused and turned to see Setsuna with a very odd look on her face. "Setsuna? What's wrong?"

Her head cocked at an odd angle, Setsuna appeared to be listening to something only she could hear. "I can feel Gate energy being used, but it's not a harmonic residence signature I recognize," she said with growing alarm. "Someone's trying to open a portal into the kingdom!"

Usagi was sitting alone on the couch in the semi-darkness when Luna's found her. The crystal rose Mamoru had shaped for her was in one hand and she held against her heart as if trying to draw comfort from the lingering traces of his energy it held. The only light was from the television screen that Ami had rigged up to receive satellite transmissions. The flickering, inconstant glow washed harshly across her delicate features, making Usagi look drawn and exhausted.

"Usagi-chan, you promised Rei you'd try to rest," Luna chided as she walked into the room. "Mamoru-san will be quite annoyed with me if I allow you to run yourself down from worry."

Cerulean blue eyes were fixed on the screen and Usagi waved at Luna. "Luna, come look at this."

Hopping up onto the couch, the midnight cat climbed into Usagi's lap and turned to see what had the Moon Queen so entranced. Like Usagi, Luna fell into silence, stunned beyond words while they watched the pageant unfolding in real time before them.

There must have been hundreds of people, Usagi thought to herself. They all marched in a peaceful fashion, yet the simmering anger just under the surface was more than evident. A few held up handmade signs while others shouted the occasional slogan. The crowd cut across social boundaries on almost every level. The rich alongside the poor, mothers and fathers with their small children, teenagers and the elderly, all came together with a single goal - an end to hatred.

Michiru had been more right than she knew when she said that the Sons very open abduction of Mamoru and Minako had not gone over well with the public. The first mistake was the woman used as bait – Chiba Megumi. Not only was she the mother of a current Tokyo police detective, she was the widow of a past one. The law enforcement community tends to be a tightly knit one and they didn't take what the Sons had done to her well at all. Every police officer, from beat cop to department captain vowed that the people who had done this would be brought to justice post haste.

The second, and perhaps the most telling mistake, was in rousing the public from its narcissistic stupor. The average person was much too consumed with trails and tribulations of daily life to get involved in politics in other than the most superficial manner most of the time. But once in a while, something happened that grabbed the public's attention and worse, made them angry. Sentiment had been slowly turning away from groups like the Sons of the Golden Kingdom for a while now. A movement based on mistrust of those who are perceived as "different" would always have its followers, but the vast majority of people eventually saw through the rhetoric and heard the ugly truths hidden under the elegant words. Hate was never pretty.

"Well, it's about time people woke up," Luna said primly.

The sight of the crowds cheered Usagi, giving her hope after three days of stress and sadness. I knew that people would come around eventually. If we can't believe that love can overcome hate, then what have we been fighting for all these years, ne?"

"Just when did you get so wise, Usagi-chan?" Luna teased gently.

A hand reached out the stroke the soft, black coat. "I had a good teacher." Usagi gave her guardian a fond glance. "Any word from Ami?"

There was magic in Usagi's hands and Luna settled down, tucking her legs under her neatly as she purred with enjoyment at the massage. "No, not yet. Don't worry, though. I believe in Ami-chan. If anyone can find out where the Sons have taken Mamoru and Minako it's Ami."

"I know," she replied softly, tears springing up behind her eyes again. The all-consuming worry about Mamoru and Minako seemed to hit her again all at once. "I just wish I knew if Mamo-chan and Minako were all right."

"You know what they say, 'Be careful what you wish for'."

The temperature in the room dropped abruptly and dark shadows crept in from the corners to gather together. A fissure in the fabric of reality opened up and in the center of it was the figure of a dark man. He was clothed in the shadows, only his head and shoulders visible.

"Hello Usa, miss me?" Kunshin quipped. "I've certainly missed you."

Not waiting for the Dark Man to strike, Usagi leapt to her feet calling out her henshin phrase as she went. "Moon eternal – make up!" n a flash of feather and enchanted light Sailor Moon faced the man in the darkness.

"Don't come any closer," she warned in a low voice.

Kunshin only smiled. "Don't worry, I have no intention of leaving this portal."

"Because he can't!" Luna snapped. Her back was arched, fur standing on end while she bared her teeth at the Dark Man. "The enchantments here won't allow him to come through." In fact, Luna was sure that the intrusion had set off alarms that would bring the other Senshi running.

Kunshin gave Luna a feral smile. "Quite right. The mystic wards around this place are much too strong for me to break through. That's not going to be a problem, however. You see, I may not be able to come to you," he lowered his voice in invitation. "But you can come to me."

Rolling her eyes, Eternal Sailor Moon gave Kunshin a look of contempt. "Oh yeah, like I'm going to just walk into that black hole of yours. Not in this lifetime, creep."

"On the contrary, my dear Usa. That's exactly what you are going to do." The shadows that had clung to Kunshin faded away. Lying limply in Dark Man's arms was Minako.

Usagi gasped in shock, "No…" With a surge of relief so sharp it was painful, Usagi saw Minako's chest move up and down in shallow and labored breathing

Kunshin glanced down at the woman in his embrace almost fondly. "She's been keeping me satisfied for the time being, but I'm afraid she won't last too much longer. Then it's his turn." He stepped aside so that Usagi could see what had been hidden behind him.

"Mamo-chan!" Sitting on the floor like a puppet whose strings had been cut was Tuxedo Kamen. His eyes were only partially open but dull and vacuous, staring blankly ahead. nger and fear caused Usagi's face to flush. "What have you done to him?"

"Your precious Prince is still alive Usa, and only marginally worse for the wear - so far." Moving to put Minako down, Kunshin knelt next to Mamoru and let his hand slid around the prince's throat. He glanced at Usagi, "How much would you give to save them?"

"What are you talking about?" A cold knot of fear started in Usagi's stomach as she watched Kunshin's hand snake around Mamoru's neck.

"It's really very simple," Kunshin replied, patting Mamoru's cheek before standing upright. "I'll exchange you for the two of them." He raised a hand, beckoning to her. "Come to me and I'll let them both go."

"Don't listen to him! You can't trust him. He's trying to trick you into going with him," Luna shouted at Usagi.

The look Kunshin gave the small feline was one of annoyance as he cut her off. "As I'm sure the talking furball can tell you, keeping this portal open requires a great deal of my energy. I can't maintain it forever. This is a one-time offer. If you want to save them Usa, then you have to come now."

The fissure started to close, dragging the icy shadows the filled the room with it. At the rate the hole was closing, Usagi only had seconds to act. She reached down and picked up her feline guardian, holding her close for a moment.

"I'm sorry Luna," she whispered to her. "I have to go. Tell Ami-chan I believe in her too."

An underhanded toss sent Luna sailing through the air to land on all four feet across the room. Never looking back Eternal Sailor Moon dove for the swiftly retreating aperture. Luna bounded for the collapsing hole, but too late.

"Noooo! Usagi-chan!" Luna screamed, "Don't go!"

"Don't go!"

Usagi was rolling end over end in manner that made her head spin and her stomach lurch. There seemed to be no up or down as she hung in the icy darkness. The wild ride was quickly over and Usagi felt the jarring impact as she hit the floor hard. Oh great, Usagi moaned to herself, Sailor Moon makes yet another graceful entrance!

Lurching unsteadily to her hands and knees, Usagi closed her eyes tightly for a moment, trying to make everything stop spinning dizzily around her. As best she could make out, she was in a small pool of light surrounded by a churning darkness. Usagi's vision at last stopped dancing and she saw that she wasn't alone. Minako was sprawled unconscious on the floor only a few yards away.

"Minako-chan!" Usagi scampered to where her friend lay. There was no answer as Usagi put a hand to her Minako's face. Her skin was cold and clammy and Minako shivered, gasping for breath with increasing difficulty. "Please Minako-chan, open your eyes. Please be all right!"

Usagi's eyes were drawn to marking that adorned Minako's slender throat. They writhed, glowing with a murky light that made Usagi's heart leap in fear. In an instant she knew what was going on. Kunshin was somehow still pulling on Minako's life energy, slowly killing her.

"I won't let him hurt you anymore," Usagi vowed. Her hands rose to cup the locket that sat in the middle of the bow on her fuku. It popped open, the ultimate magic of the White Moon Kingdom coming to her call. It glowed gently between her hands.

"Moon healing – escalation," she called out in a soft voice.

Warm, silver light moved in a palpable waved from her. t flowed outward, stopping to encompass Minako in its healing aura. With a thin, reedy shriek that Usagi heard both in her mind and her ears, the darkness fled Minako's body and darted into the chaos just outside the circle of light. Usagi kept the power of the silver crystal on her friend, bringing life and strength to a body almost drained dry of it by Kunshin's malevolent power.

The power continued to grow, expanding the small circle of light of which she and Minako were the center. The shadows resisted, writhing and pulsing as if alive, but slowly they moved to give ground to the purifying light. As the gloom retreated the figure of a man became visible. The shackles of night that held him melted away when the light struck them and he slid to the floor. Goruden Kobushi took deep gulps of air, grateful to be free of the cold and cloying darkness.

His mind raced with a thousand questions at once as he watched Usagi use the Ginzuishou. This was the dreaded Witch Queen of the Moon Kingdom – this tiny woman? if she was Serenity then that had to be the Devil's Stone between her hands, Goruden reasoned. But for something that had been portrayed as dark and evil, the light from it was warm when it touched him. All the questions in his mind came to screeching halt when he saw Minako lying on the floor. Kobushi stumbled forward on his hands and knees to reach her.

Still locked in concert with the Silver Crystal, it took Usagi a moment to notice the man who moved past her. By the time she narrowed her link to the Ginzuishou, the crystal retreating back into her locket, he had gathered Minako in his arms.

"Mina-ko," he said, holding her tightly. "Oh God, you have to be all right. I can't lose you again."

Sky blue eyes, cracked open as if waking from a long nightmare. "Kobu-chan?" Minako whispered dreamily, the soothing embrace of the Ginzuishou still lingering inside her. "Am I dreaming – is it really you?"

"I'm here, it's me," he pulled away enough so that she could see his face. He reached out to tenderly brush a lock of her golden hair and placed sweet, warm kisses on her face. His head tipped slightly when he finally looked at Usagi, trepidation creping into his voice. "Are you who I think you are?"

"Yes and no," Usagi replied, weary after using the Ginzuishou. "I'm the current Queen of the Moon Kingdom, but not the creature of 'eeevil' you seem to think I am. Look around you, am I the one sucking the life out of people here?"

There was confusion in the golden eyes as Goruden appraised the woman before him. He'd watched, unable to move or call out, as Kunshin had used both Minako and Mamoru as a lure to get Usagi here. That the Witch Queen of the Moon Kingdom had left the safety of her palace and come here shocked him. All the legends said that she was evil - a witch incapable of love who lived only to fulfill her own, selfish needs.

Something Mamoru had said to him came back in flash. You can't consider that you might be wrong, can you? Had the Prince been right, Kobushi wondered?

"I'm beginning to think that it's possible that we have been misinformed about the Moon Kingdom," Kobushi said cautiously.

"Minako-chan," Usagi asked gently, "Where's Mamo-chan? Have you seen him? Is he here?"

"I can't… remember," Minako began hesitantly. She was drifting between sleep and wakefulness as the ultimate magic of the White Moon Kingdom finished healing her.

After pausing only a moment, as if debating with himself, Kobushi spoke up. "Kunshin Tetsu has him."

"That's right, Usa, I have your Prince." The voice held a tone of amusement and seemed to be everywhere at once. "If you want to save him, you'll have to come to me."

The walls of night around them shuddered slightly, then a section of it parted revealing an opening. "Well?" Kunshin asked, "Do you want him back or not?"

"You can't do this," the words from Goruden surprised both Usagi and himself. "It's got be a trap."

"You think?" Usagi replied with a bitter laugh as she got to her feet. "Walking into that," she gestured towards the gap in the wall, "is not my first choice, but I don't think I have a lot of options right now. If I don't go Kunshin will kill Mamo-chan."

"If you do go, Kunshin will kill you," Goruden replied.

That brought a sad smile to Usagi's face. "I didn't think you cared, Goruden-san," she teased lightly.

"Neither did I," he replied as quickly, "but then again, I've been wrong about a lot of things lately." He paused a moment then added, "Serenity-san."

Usagi took a last look at the sweet picture of Minako in the arms of Goruden Kobushi. "Minako-chan said that there were good and honorable people in the Sons. I think she meant you." That the Soldier of Love had found a romance of her own at last was the only good thing to come out of this whole disaster. "She loves you, you know. Take care of her, ne?"

Usagi turned and walked into the small gap in the dark walls. As soon as she passed through it, the shadows closed once more into an impenetrable mass.

Shaking with desire, the Dark Man had watched as Usagi found Minako and used the Ginzuishou on her. The loss of Minako's life energy was a small price to pay for the assurance that she had the crystal with her. He'd soon have access to more power than he'd ever dreamed possible.

Kunshin was vaguely aware of Wiseman's presence, both in his mind and in the space around him. The dark crystal ball between the emaciated hands had a steady stream of night flowing from it. He could sense the energies of the Black Poison Crystal being used to create the walls of shadows that hid him so well.

A part of Kunshin Tetsu, the tiny bit of him that was still remotely human, knew that he should be alarmed at the way he could feel the ebb and flow of the power of the Black Crystal. But each time he started to question what he was becoming, he could hear Wiseman whispering into his mind, telling him of the pleasures that awaited him as he drained Usagi's life, and through her the power of the Ginzuishou, into himself. That was all that mattered, Kunshin decided, the ultimate pleasure that would be his – and the ultimate power.

He smiled to himself when Usagi finally appeared before him. It took every ounce of his self control to keep to the plan he'd devised. Keeping a calm façade, he smiled at his "guest", a hand still curled around Tuxedo Kamen's throat. The touch brought a renewed and disconcerting sense that the Prince was slowly winning the struggle against the power that held him. Where was he finding the strength to fight so hard, Kunshin wondered?

"Welcome, Usa. I'm so glad you decided to take me up on my offer." Kunshin managed to sound calm and in control.

"Offer? You want an offer you can't refuse you low life, scum sucking, bottom feeder?" Eternal Sailor Moon snapped at the Dark Man. "Let him go right now and I won't burn you to dust! How's that for a deal?" The power tier came to her raised hand and it glowed with building energy.

I think I liked it better when you were asleep and couldn't talk," Kunshin sighed melodramatically. "But since you seem to want to do this the hard way…" He let a blast of black lightening run down his arm and into Mamoru. Tuxedo Kamen's body jerked and twisted as the power arced though it. The pain broke Mamoru's concentration and Kunshin felt the Prince's mind fall back into the dark prison once more.

"No!" Usagi shrieked as she watched Mamoru writhe. "Stop it!"

As quickly as it had started the attacked stopped, Mamoru slumping to lay motionless once more. "I'm gotten much stronger since the last time we clashed. I promise you that long before you can stop me, I'll kill him. I'm a busy man Usa, so let's not waste time. I've got places to go and people to kill," the hand tightened around Mamoru's neck and he lifted him off the ground. "Now are you ready to be reasonable, or do you want to watch him die?"

"What is it you want from me?"

"You know what I want," Kunshin stared at Usagi with hungry eyes "I want you, your life energy and your power. Come to my arms without a fight and I'll let him go. Do we have an agreement?"

Usagi could hear Tuxedo Kamen choking, struggling to breathe while his legs dangled above the ground. he longed to wipe the arrogant smirk off Kunshin's face, but knew that in the end, she really had no choice. The power tier disappeared from her hand.

"Send them away from here," Usagi said, never taking her eyes from Mamoru. "Send them all away from here and I won't fight you."

Kunshin Tetsu smiled. Usagi had played, quite literally, right into his hands. It would have been all but impossible for him to maintain control of both of them at the same time. Even now he could feel the Prince's mind pushing back up out of the darkness. "Rather than sending them away, what say you and I go somewhere a bit more private, ne?"

One hand gestured lazily and a portal opened at his calling. A flat plain, dark and foreboding stretched out as far as the eye could see. Kunshin moved slowly towards it, dragging Tuxedo Kamen with him as he went. He stood by the portal, a cold and stale breeze blowing around him.

"Just step through and I'll let him go. Oh, but first I have a condition of my own. I want you, my Usa – not Sailor Moon."

The fuku faded and, taking slow steps, Usagi walked towards the dark man who beckoned to her. She stopped as she went by Mamoru, quickly leaning over to give him one, last kiss. "I love you, Mamo-chan," she whispered to him, "I will always love you."

Mamoru struggled with every bit of strength he had. Being held down in the cold and cloying darkness was his oldest nightmare and the first memory he could ever recall. The fear, rather than inhibiting him, fueled the need to break free and he used it the energy it gave him ruthlessly. Like a swimmer seeing things from underwater, he dimly perceived what was going on around him, but it was distorted and unclear. The events unfolding around him passed as in a dream, one that quickly turned into a nightmare.

Still unable to move, but knowing now that this was no dream, Mamoru felt Usagi's kiss brush his cold lips, her warmth and light filling him at the touch. He screamed at his body to move, but the icy paralysis that had him was slow to relinquish control. He watched in horror as she took the hand that Kunshin proffered. The Dark man pulled her into his embrace and through the portal.

A hand gently grazed her forehead. "Now sleep Little Usa, sleep," the Dark Man hissed.

A small whimper escaped Usagi's lips and, her eyes fluttering closed, she sagged against him. Kunshin swept her up into his embrace, going to his knees. Cradling her close with one arm he let the other hand slide onto her neck.

The portal was closing fast now, dragging the icy shadows that filled the room with it. Checking to make sure that Mamoru could still see him, Kunshin began to feed on Usagi's life. The light ran up his arm and into his body, shifting from silver, to gray then black.

"Thank you for your help Chiba Mamoru," Kunshin looked directly at Mamoru, then his eyes slid shut with pleasure as he fed. "I never could have made Usa come to me without you as bait."

The knowledge that Kunshin was going to kill Usagi filled Mamoru's mind, ripping at his soul. He stumbled to his hands and knees, thrusting a single hand at the rapidly closing fissure. It dissipated into a black mist that floated away.

And the small star of golden light inside Mamoru exploded into an inferno.

The Mt. Wilson Observatory was open to the public three times a month for tours. A graduate student unlucky enough to get stuck herding a group of neo-astronomers and their families around usually guided these tours, booked months in advance. This was Michael's last time doing the tour and he intended to go out and celebrate the fact with a stiff drink or two. After two hours of politely answering questions and listening to half baked theories of stellar creation, he was chomping at the bit to be done.

The last stop on the tour was a peek into one of the Observatories grand telescopes. Michael smiled until his face hurt as he watched the last person, a tall woman of middle age step up. Removing her glasses, she brushed her short, red hair out of her eyes and leaned forward gingerly, putting out a hand to steady herself. The hand hit a button and the great telescope whined for a moment. The poor woman jumped, a flush coming to her all ready florid face.

"No, no, it's okay," Michael quickly said. He scanned the digital readout. Happily, the telescope had moved only small bit. He thought and tapped in a new set of coordinates. The great machine whined again for a moment then stopped. "If you look now, you'll have nice view of Mars."

Peering myopically into the eyepiece, the woman looked for a minute. "Ummm, excuse me," she glanced at the grad student nervously; afraid she'd somehow broken the multi-million dollar telescope (and worse yet that they would make her pay for it!). "But is Mars supposed to be moving like that?"

"Moving?" Michael found himself repeating. He stepped up to the eyepiece and peered into it. "It's probably just an optical illusion. Sometimes it can be hard to know just what you're really seeing…"

His voice trailed off as Michael got a good look. Something definitely was moving – and it wasn't Mars. The black object was passing in front of the red planet at an amazing speed. What that something was suddenly becoming very apparent as it moved onward.

It was an asteroid…

A really big asteroid…

And it was heading in the direction of Earth.

The words escaped his lips before he could stop them. All in all as vulgar as the epithet was, it summed the situation up succinctly.

"Oh shit!"

Full Circle

A Sailor Moon Story
by Meara

Part 13 of 14

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