Continuing Tales

Full Circle

A Sailor Moon Story
by Meara

Part 3 of 14

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Full Circle

Usagi was having the dream again.

Something dark was chasing her. The thing behind Usagi was silent as death and as unmercifully relentless. The only sound she could hear was that of her own ragged, exhausted breathing. No matter how fast she ran, it was always there, just behind her. Fear drove Usagi endlessly forward, but she couldn't get away. In a moment of sheer terror she knew that the thing that chased her was almost on top of her.

The knowledge that the thing that chased her was about to pounce was where the dream had always ended in the past. But this time was different. Claws raked her shoulder, digging into her skin. The claws became mottled hands that pulled her into a deadly clinch. Usagi was held fast, her back against the chest of the creature that had pursued her so relentlessly. The skeleton thin hands turned her around in a motion that made everything spin dizzily out of control. Through the nightmare haze of motion Usagi finally saw the creature that had her.

There was no face, only a restless mass of shifting shadows where one should have been. Two bright points of light were the thing's eyes. The intensity of that gaze caught and held her own like a snake holds a bird. The power in those cold, reptilian eyes transfixed Usagi. They left her unable to summon the strength to move or even speak. Hands, human hands, came out of the darkness that made up the creature's body. They grabbed her, pulling her into an endless, black void. Strange, cold arms wrapped Usagi in an embrace that made her shudder and try without success to scream. The thing that had her kept changing form. One moment it was Kashu Hikaru, the man who had tried to rape her. He laughed, enjoying her fear.

"My sweet Serenity, I will have you no matter where you try to hide," Kashu said. "The future cannot be denied."

He lowered his face to hers and kissed her, hard. But as he lifted his head again, Kashu's features began to blur and change. He became a man Usagi didn't recognize. The stranger swept her off her feet, cradling her paralyzed body in his arms. With surprising tenderness, he lowered her to the ground, keeping an arm around her to prop her up like a doll.

"The future cannot be denied," he repeated, whispering to Usagi, as he pulled her closer.

A dark smile came to the man's lips as he held up his other hand. It burned with a black fire that also flickered in his eyes. That strange, cold hand reached out and lightly brushed Usagi's cheek before sliding down onto her neck.

"You will give me all that I need, forever..." Pain exploded in her as icy fingers stroked her neck. Usagi tried to fight but couldn't as the agony engulfed her. She could feel her life being pulled out her.

And Usagi woke screaming.

Yuuichirou considered himself the luckiest man on this world or any other for thatmatter. He stood quietly near the door to one of smaller rooms of the Shinto Shrine and watched the woman he would marry in about a month. Rei hadn't noticed him, so absorbed was she in her task. Nimble fingers deftly moved a golden needle and silk thread through the fragile fabric. The design of a firebird in flight was taking shape under her ministrations.

Rei was working on her wedding kimono.

Every day, at this time, she slipped off for to work on the golden silk robe. Most of the antique kimonos that had belonged to Hikawa Shrine had been destroyed in the fire, the rest abandoned when they had to leave Earth. This robe would not be as lavish or as costly as some, but to Yuuichirou it would be a gown fit for a princess because Rei had made it herself. So much had happened since the day he first walked into the Hikawa Temple and saw her. His life had never been the same, but for all the problems Yuuichirou knew that a life without his Firebird was unthinkable.

Rei let her mind wander as she drew the thread through the silk. She loved doing this, and had so little time with her duties as both priestess and Senshi. It was a way for her to reconnect with the simplicity of life, a way for her to meditate, pray and give thanks.

The sharp stab of the needle against her finger made Rei start. She gave a soft hiss and pulled her hand away from the silk, afraid of getting blood that would never come out on her wedding kimono. A single drop of blood welled up on the tip of her finger and she found herself staring at it, drawn to it.

The images that engulfed Rei were sudden and overwhelming. She stood in a murky place that seemed to go on forever. Her attention was drawn to a luminescence in the cloistered darkness and she was pulled towards it. Rei saw that Usagi, radiating silver light, lay propped up against the arm of a sinister man. Usagi's eyes were partially open, but dull and unseeing. The creature raised his free hand and Rei could see that it that it pulsed with a dark glow. The man let his fingers gently stroke Usagi's throat once before latching onto her neck. Rei watched with growing horror as energy flowed from Usagi into the stranger. He closed his eyes, vile pleasure written on the lines of his face as he fed on the life of the woman who now shuddered with pain in his arms.

"Usagi!" Rei shouted. "What are you doing to her?"

The shadowy man opened his eyes and turned his head to look directly at Rei with a cold, mesmerizing gaze. He laughed darkly, triumph in his voice. "The circle closes - and I am its master, now."

As quickly as it happened, the strange images were gone. Yuuichirou face, etched with concern was near hers. "Rei-chan? Are you all right, Firebird?"

She blinked owlishly several times, unsure of what she'd just seen. "Oh, yes, I'm fine."

She got to her feet to shake off the effects of the episode. The closest window had a view of the wing of the palace that held Usagi and Mamoru's private rooms. The drapes were still drawn shut, she noticed, a sign that Usagi had yet to awaken. Ami had said that Usagi was simply deeply asleep, but to Rei's mind it had been much too long.

"What just happened? Did you have a vision?" Yuuichirou asked coming up behind her quietly.

A chill ran down Rei's spine and she shivered. "I don't know," she replied looking at the closed drapes, "I don't know."

Usagi abruptly sat up in the bed, screaming a single word over and over. The panic that consumed her hit Mamoru like a blow. He lurched across the bedroom desperate to get to her, calling her name. Usagi couldn't seem to hear Mamoru at first, she just kept shouting in horror at something that only she could see.

"No, no, no, no..."

Arms held Usagi again, warm arms this time. "Sssshhh, it's all right, everything's all right now." His touch and voice broke the spell the nightmare cast on her and Usagi found herself relaxing against her husband as the last of the dream faded from her mind. Her eyes began to adjust to the diffuse light in the bedroom.

Mamoru's voice was soft and soothing in her ears. "It was just a dream."

"Just a dream," she repeated, willing herself to believe the words. "It was just a dream." She held onto Mamoru tightly. He was her rock, her touchstone and steady anchor. Just as surely as he called her back from the fatal bliss of the Balance, Mamoru's presence helped Usagi banish the last traces of the voice that echoed in her head.

He held Usagi in silence, while she cleared the last bits of sleep fog from her mind. Finally, she gave a loud sigh and spoke up, knowing that Mamoru wouldn't talk until she did. There was one need that managed to push her nightmare from her mind.

"I'm starving. Any chance I can get something to eat?"

Mamoru laughed as he got up from the bed she lay in. "As a matter of fact, I think I can safely say yes." He took a large tray from a nearby table and uncovered it. A flick of a wrist produced a rose, which he popped into a bud vase of water.

Usagi's eyes widened and her stomach growled as Mamoru put the tray in front of her. She scampered into a better position. The smell of fresh baked bread reached her nose and she gave a purr of delight.

"Ooooh, food..."

The King of the Silver Millennium smiled as he watched his graceful, delicate, silver haired wife practically inhale the first slice of bread she slathered with jam. Makoto had come up with the special high protein; nutrient dense bread and Usagi absolutely loved it. Going into Balance with the Ginzuishou took an enormous amount of energy. One (and the only one to Mamoru's mind) of the benefits for Usagi was that she could eat anything and everything in sight and without gaining an ounce. Just the opposite, she had lost weight in the last few months despite her ravenous appetite. He waited until the first frantic moments of feeding leveled off to a more civilized pace before speaking again. Mamoru learned a long time ago never to get between Usagi and food when she was like this.

"How can you eat that fast and not choke?" he finally had to ask. Sometimes watching Usagi eat was like seeing elephant on ice skates. You had to stare at it to believe what you were seeing was real.

Usagi wagged a finger at him, "I'll have you know it took me years of careful practice to learn to do this right. I'm an eating professional, Mamo-chan, so don't try this at home." She reached for plate of red, seedless grapes. Moochi was in the room, she noticed. The little rabbit gave a joyful jump and started to run around, showing off for Usagi.

"Are you sated enough to talk to me for a minute?"

That caught Usagi's attention enough for her to stop in mid-chew. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing you have to stop eating for, Usako," Mamoru replied with a small smile. He waited until she staring chewing again to continue. "The Kingdom is safe. In fact we have another thirty-seven arrivals that came in."

Mamoru saw the look that flashed in Usagi's eyes. "In one day? Geez, Lorilei is a busy girl, isn't she? "

"Not one day - three," he replied evenly. "You've been out of it for over three days. That's what we need to talk about. What's the last thing you remember clearly?"

The grapes gone, Usagi was attempting to peel an orange. Why didn't these things have zippers, she mused? Usagi stared at her fingers trying to make them work better. "Ummm...drinking that awful stuff Ami came up with."

Mamoru came to sit on the edge of the bed. "You went into shock. When I got you back here you weren't making much sense. By the time Ami and her mother arrived you had passed out."

"So what does that mean?" Usagi asked. Mamoru looked very solemn and she was afraid to hear the answer. Usagi bent her head to concentrate on the piece of fruit. "Everything's fine now. Whatever happened couldn't have been all that bad, right?"

Taking the orange from Usagi, Mamoru caught her eye. "This is serious. If I hadn't recognized the symptoms, if Dr. Mizuno hadn't gotten here as quickly as she did...shock can and does kill, Usako." He deftly finished peeling the orange and handed it back to her. "You have to stop using the Ginzuishou for a while."

Part of Usagi was relived to hear the words her husband spoke. She was sick to death of always being so drained, feeling that there was nothing left inside her. The other part of her (in a voice that sounded suspiciously like Luna) said that she was Queen now - and the Queen was expected to do what was necessary for the good of her people, no matter the personal price. "I have to go into Balance to release the pieces of the Silver Millennium inside some of these people, there's no other way. Besides, I only do it once a month." She popped a segment of the orange in her mouth. It was oddly tasteless as Mamoru continued.

"Then we'll have to find another way to cope for a while. I don't think you understand what I'm trying to tell you." There was no trace of humor in his eyes, only fear that he was doing his best to hide. "Going into shock was your body's way of saying it can't handle any more right now. There's no way of predicting what will happen the next time you try to go into the Balance. If you aren't strong enough..."

The intensity in Mamoru's eyes held Usagi in a way that reminded her too much of her nightmare. For a fleeting instant Usagi remembered the feel of those strange, cold hands touching her. She shuddered, looking away from him. Confused, Mamoru reached out for his wife.

"Usako, what...?"

Moochi chose that moment to hop onto the bed. He'd smelled the fruit and decided to see if he could get Usagi to share. He spared Mamoru a furtive glance when he brushed right by the man. Sitting up on his back legs, the little rabbit gave Usagi his best look of pitiful hunger.

"Ooohh," Usagi cooed at him, delighted with a handy way to change the subject, "poor Moochi. Didn't anyone pay attention to my fuzzy, little Senshi while I was asleep?" She slipped him a tiny piece of melon. He sat back down, greedily chomping on the treat, eyes closed in sensuous joy.

Mamoru sighed with irritation, "Don't let him fool you. Your 'fuzzy, little Senshi' had been cosseted and fed by everyone but Haruka for the past three days. He's been just fine." A hand snaked out to scoop up the pet and deposit him on the floor. "Stay off the bed," he grumbled darkly at the rabbit.

Unimpressed by the menace in the King's voice, Moochi started to groom one floppy ear. The little rabbit wasn't about to leave the room when there was the possibility that Usagi would slip him another treat. He did, however, turn his back to Mamoru, ignoring him.

"Now that you've finished almost everything on your plate like a good girl, would you like to see the surprise I have for you?"

Usagi gave a squeal of delight, "A surprise for me? What it is? Can I see it now?"

Mamoru chuckled, "Close your eyes."

Usagi did as she was told and felt Mamoru get off the bed. She started to crack her eyes open a tiny bit.

"No peeking," he said as he returned. "Hold out your hands."

Usagi did as she was told and felt something heavy drop into them. Her eyes flew open immediately to see a large golden box marked "Godvia" in her hands. "Chocolate! Where did get this?" The lid was off the box in record time and she greedily put a piece into her mouth. Usagi's eyes closed in sensuous joy and Mamoru refrained from commenting that she looked just like Moochi when she did that.

"Lorilei's back," he said instead. "And she brought a few requested items with her. She also asked for a meeting. Do you feel up to attending?"

Usagi gave a nod, and mumbled at him, her mouth full with another piece of the decadent confection. Although she wasn't able to speak clearly, Mamoru picked up on what she was getting at. Their bond had grown stronger in the last few months and he half expected to hear her thoughts one of these days.

"Yes," he said with a wry smile, "You should have time for a bath. Are you sure you don't want me to stay and help?"

That remark nearly caused Usagi to choke as she swallowed. "If you stay to 'help' then we'll be in my bath all afternoon. You just keep those good thoughts until after the meeting."

With great care Mamoru lifted the box of chocolates away from Usagi and placed them on the other side of the bed. Usagi was about to protest when she saw the look in his eyes. He sat down next to her and pulled the now smiling woman into his lap. A quick dip had them both lying on the bed.

Usagi knew what he wanted to hear. It was by now an old and well loved exchange between the two of them. "Mamo-chan, you are shameless."

Mamoru nuzzled Usagi's ear as he whispered to her. "Just wait until tonight, wife. Then I'll show you how 'shameless' I can be."

There was mischief in her eyes as she answered, "I'll hold you to that promise, husband!"

They considered themselves a race apart. For over a thousand years, the families had very carefully maintained the purity of their bloodlines. Children were betrothed to one another when barely out of diapers to keep the noble families unsullied. Duty demanded that they be prepared for the days the Book of the Golden Kingdom spoke of. The sons and daughters of the noblest families contained within them the genetic "seeds" that would allow the true prince to rise and use the old powers. The list of these powers was short but impressive - psychometry, healing and most importantly, the ability to be a channel and use the great power of Earth, the Golden Crystal. When the Moon Kingdom rose once more, a son of the most noble of families would restore peace by breaking the seal and releasing the Golden Crystal.

Goruden Kobushi knew the prophesies by heart. He was one of those favored sons and it seemed to that the times spoken of in the Book were at hand. The long plane trip back to Japan gave him ample time to think. The future King must be alive now. Why hadn't he, or any of the other potential princes for that matter, felt the call of it crystal? Was it possible that someone outside of the Circle of the Chosen was fated to have the sacred stone?

Goruden Kobushi looked yet again at the stack of still photographs on the table beside him. They showed the last moments in the life of the man called Chiba Mamoru. What drew Kobushi back to these pictures time and again was the faint, golden glow that surrounded the man. It could have been a trick of the camera, as most said, but Kobushi wasn't convinced.

When Chiba Mamoru had told the world that he was Endymion reborn, the elders of the Council didn't believe the man. If he truly was the prince, they argued, then he should all ready have the Golden Crystal. Tuxedo Kamen had never shown that he possessed that kind of power. Chiba was dismissed as at best a dupe, or at worst a fraud hoping to fool them all. Only Kobushi remained skeptical of the Council's pronouncement on the matter.

Could Chiba Mamoru be the one? But if he was the true Prince, wasn't he dead? The world believed he and that witch, Sailor Moon, had died in the explosion. Kobushi knew enough about the treachery of those of the Silver Millennium to believe it might be otherwise.

The more he thought about it, the more convinced Kobushi was that it had to be so. The Book of the Golden Kingdom told very clearly how its last Crown Prince, Endymion, fell under the evil spell of the Moon Princess. The Prince had been forced to turn against his own people. So enthralled was he by the dark magic Serenity had woven about him.

No one had seen the new "Monarchs" of the Silver Millennium. No names or faces could be put to them - simply the tittles, King and Queen. Could history be repeating itself, Kobushi wondered? If Endymion had been reborn, without the proper protection he could have very easily been ensnared once again. Righteous anger filled the soul of Goruden Kobushi as he imagined what the Chiba might be enduring at the hands of the Moon Kingdom's wicked Queen. He was, no doubt, a slave to her twisted whims.

Kobushi nodded to himself as he settled on a plan of action. As soon as he got home, he would go straight to the Council. If they had been successful in getting an agent to the new Moon Kingdom, he should have the answers he needed. The Prince would be saved this time. Whatever price fate demanded of him to accomplish this, Kobushi would pay - even if it meant his own life.


"That's what the media is calling them," Lorilei replied to Mamoru from where she sat beside Setsuna. She fidgeted nervously with her hands as she spoke, finally folding them neatly on her lap. "There have been rumors about these places for months, but until this week that's all it was - rumors. Both the New York Times and the London Times broke a story about them on the same day. They have proof that China is actively searching for and then imprisoning people who were reborn."

"My God," Usagi said, her voice a horrified whisper, "It sounds like concentration camps. Hasn't humanity learned anything from history? What can they possibly hope to accomplish?"

"China has been very open about what it wants. They call it a 'national security issue'. They think that these people may have Senshi-like power and they say that the power belongs to the State," Lorilei said.

Luna shook her head sadly, "These people are just that - people. They don't have any kind of hidden power to exploit."

"Add in the rising popularity of these 'Sons of The Golden Kingdom' and it makes the whole picture that much bleaker." The young woman with the violet eyes glanced down at her hands in embarrassment. "I'm sorry to dump this in your laps, but I just don't know how to handle it all."

"You did the right thing in coming to us with this news," Mamoru replied while Usagi nodded her head beside him.

"No one would expect you to even try to 'handle' this alone, Lorilei," Usagi added. "I know you're closer to the Outer Senshi, so trying to deal with trouble on your own may seem natural. But we all work as team these days - together."

I told you that no one would blame you. But do you listen to me? Nooo... Setsuna's voice in her head gently teased Lorilei, causing her a small smile to tug at her lips.

Nag, nag, nag, Lorilei quipped to her sister silently, even as she spoke aloud. "So what happens now?"

Artemis looked at Usagi and Mamoru. "The Moon Kingdom has never allowed any of its people to be enslaved because of who or what they are."

"And we aren't about to let that start now," Usagi added, anger in her voice. "I won't allow it to happen. We need to make that point in a way it won't be forgotten."

They all knew that it was only a matter of time before they'd be forced into a situation like this. Precautions had been taken. Usagi's family had, seemingly, disappeared from the face of the earth. In reality, they now lived in California. There they were safe - just another Asian immigrant face in the crowd. Some of their friends, like Motoki and Naru, worked inside Japan, giving information, supplies and whatever else they could. A handful of others were scattered around the world, always willing to help when asked.

A wicked smile crossed the handsome face of the new King of the Silver Millennium. Usagi found herself smiling back at him. She knew that particular look all too well. "Mamo-chan?"

"You know, I think may have an idea how to do just that." He cocked his head and gave his beloved his most charming smile. "Ready to dust off the fuku my Bishoujo Senshi?"

"To see you in that tux and cape again?" Usagi laughed, "in a heartbeat!"

Haruka was hot and frustrated. There was grease on her hands, under her fingernails and even her face was dirty with sweat and grit. She cursed not so softly as the wrench slipped and her knuckles scraped against metal. A knock at the door of the small garage she'd built was ill timed.

"Yes?" she shouted much louder than she intended to.

The door slowly opened to reveal Michiru's head, cautiously poking into a make shift garage that was her Lifemate's private territory. "You sound like you're having fun."

Haruka was sucking on the bleeding knuckle as she got to her feet. "This miserable hunk of spare parts is being temperamental..." she gave the odd looking motorcycle a kick on the fender. "You can yet end your days as scrap," she mumbled at it.

The machine, predictably, didn't answer. It just rocked back and forth from the force of her kick. To Haruka, though, it seemed to be laughing at her.

"Well, " Michiru sounded cheerful, "then I have just the thing to cheer you up. Guess who brought you a present?"

Michiru pushed the door open wide. Setsuna stood behind her and Lorilei was peeking out behind Setsuna. She had a small bag in her hand and she held it up to show to Haruka.

"You got it?" Haruka asked as she stalked, wolf like, towards them.

Lorilei wordlessly nodded, still taking refuge in back of Setsuna. She thrust the little white plastic bag marked, "Napa Auto Parts" at the advancing Senshi of Uranus. If this is what all of Hotaru's dates faced when they came to get the teen, it was a wonder that the girl had any social life at all, Lorilei thought. Haruka could be very - intense.

That intensity shone in her eyes as the bag was opened. A quick look inside was all that was needed to put a grin on the tall blonde's face. " I can complete my work," she hissed in satisfaction. Her head turned to address the motorcycle "I've got you now, you metal beast."

"There's a meeting in an hour, Haruka," Michiru reminded her. "Don't lose complete track of the time, ne?"

"Five minutes, Michiru, "Haruka assured her with a wave of her hand as she headed back for the motorcycle. "I just need another five minutes."

The elegant woman sighed and shook her head, pastel hair playing gently around her shoulders, "You two go on ahead. I think I'll stay here. Five minutes has a way of turning into an hour when Haruka is like this."

The head of the woman in question was stuck inside the guts of the motorcycle again. She raised a hand to wave in the general direction of Setsuna and Lorilei. "Thank you," came the muffled voice, "Oh yes, it fits!"

"You shouldn't frighten Lorilei like that," Michiru teased as she shut the door. "She's really very shy, you know. It took Setsuna months to get her comfortable around you and I think you just undid all that work."

A sandy head, eyes brimming with mischief, popped out of the machine, "Come on, I'm not all that scary am I?"

"Not to me, anyway." Settling herself in a chair near Haruka, the gentle Senshi of Neptune shook her head slowly. "It's not just you, really. Lorilei is all wound up inside about something. I don't think her unexpected visit home is good news, Haruka."

Getting to her feet with a grunt, Uranus went to a nearby sink and began to wash her hands and face. It starts again, she thought as she used the towel to dry off. Life was a battle, Haruka knew. You had to grab what happiness you could, when you could. Tossing the towel back on the rack she went over the motorcycle. A deft flip of a switch and she gave a leap that jump started the machine.

It roared to life and Haruka gave a wicked smile. "Well, since things are about to get interesting again, what say you help me break this beast in before that happens?" She extended a hand in invitation.

Rising Michiru went to her lifemate. "You know," she said with a glance at her watch, "we just might have enough time to go down to the Sea of Serenity and watch the tide come in." She took the hand and hopped onto the back of the machine.

The large garage door slowly opened. "Hold on tight," Haruka called to her. The breeze that came to her held the scent of the sea on it today. Letting that good omen soothe her, Haruka opened the throttle and the first motorcycle on the moon started its maiden run.

Kunshin Tetsu stood in the background and watched with intense black eyes as Goruden Kobushi gave his report to council. Those august elders always seemed to hang on every word the man spoke. Although Kunshin was older, more experienced and much more worldly, the job of being the public face for the Sons of The Golden Kingdom had gone to Goruden - and had he hated him even more for it, if that was possible. For the past few years Kunshin had watched and seethed silently as he saw all the best assignments going to the man he referred to as "the golden boy". It was obvious that the elders were grooming Goruden for power.

There were a dozen young men in what was called the "Circle of the Chosen" by the elders of the Golden Kingdom. Each of these young men, due to his lineage, had the potential to be the one who would be able to use the great power of Earth, the Golden Crystal. The one who could use that power would be undisputed King of Earth when the time came. The Moon Kingdom had arisen once again, and it seemed that the time for the seal of the crystal to be broken was at hand. A number of the Elders made no secret of the fact that they thought Goruden Kobushi would be the one to have the Golden Crystal. In the past that kind of thought would have caused Kunshin's blood to boil, but no longer.

Kunshin Tetsu had a secret of his own.

The gift had first awakened when Kunshin was a teenager. He'd been at the movies with his date the first time it happened. They were seeing the latest "horror" movie from America. The girl he was with had been frightened by the gory trash on the screen. She'd squealed as the monster used a chainsaw to hack yet another stupid, western teen to bits. Kunshin had taken the opportunity to slip his arm around the girl. He had been hoping to take advantage of her fear and "comfort" her while slipping his hand to places the girl would normally object to. But the strangest thing had happened. A jolt, like an electric shock ran through him as he touched her. It had felt so incredibly good, Kunshin remembered and he'd held the girl until she gave a short squeak and collapsed against him. He'd convinced her that the movie had been too much for her, and she'd merely fainted. Several more trips with different girls to the same movie had the same delightful effect. Each time the girl he was with was absolutely shaking with fear, he'd touch her. The incredible sensations that burst inside him that was like nothing else he'd ever felt.

Kunshin learned, over the years, that more intense the feeling, the more pleasure he would derive from taking the bio-energy generated by it. The depths of fear or the heights of passion worked equally as well for him. He became a master of seduction, using women for as long as they were able to supply his needs, and discarding them once they no longer gave him what he craved. The siphoned off life energy would give Kunshin a physical boost almost as intense as the feelings taking the life energy did. It made him stronger, faster for at first hours, then finally days afterwards.

Kunshin Tetsu knew what he was. The ability to channel the power of the Golden Crystal was the one gift that would set the true prince apart from all the other pretenders - and he had it. He told no one else about it. He was no fool, after all. If others with the Circle of the Chosen found out about his gift, one of them might move to eliminate him in a very permanent fashion. So he'd spent quiet years learning to use his power to the best of his abilities. He thought he'd trained the gift to its limits when the Dark Man showed up.

Kunshin had been suspicious at first, thinking the odd man a trap set for him by a rival. But the creature had taken Kunshin to a place where he had been able to absorb the energy generated by emotions so intense that it left him shaking and feeling he would burst from the pleasure when it all ended. At that moment, Kunshin Tetsu would have sold his soul to feel that exquisite power running through him again.

"I can show how to do this again Tetsu," the dark man whispered. "I can even teach you how to go deeper, take more, increase the pleasure a hundred fold. What I can teach you will change you forever. You will have more power than you ever dreamed of."

He was still enthralled by the after effects of the wild, wonderful sensations, but Kunshin's mind was working well enough for him to be cautious. "What do you get out of this?"

"Your victory will be my victory, Kunshin Tetsu. It will be a revenge I've waited to claim for longer than you can imagine."

Kunshin was by nature a suspicious man. "I don't know anything about you. Who are you? What's your name?"

The dark man appeared unmoved by Kunshin's questions. "I've had many names over the long years. They no longer have any meaning for me. But if you insist, you may call me 'Master'."

"I think not," replied Kunshin raising an eyebrow.

The odd man in the enshrouding robe seemed clothed in the shadows of this place. "What you should call me will come to you soon enough. Until then you may call me, the Dark Man."

"Tetsu! Are you listening to me?"

Kunshin was shaken out of thought by the irritable voice of one of the elders. He managed to look properly chagrined as he bowed, "Gomen nasai, I was thinking of the great days to come."

"Well? Is our agent in place on the moon yet?"

Discipline kept a smile from Kunshin's face as he answered. "Yes, Sensei. One of our men in America was able to convince a woman returning to the Moon that he loved her. She made it all the easier by asking him to go with her. He has the camera and will send the information we need as soon s possible."

What Kunshin didn't say is the man was also an assassin. At his orders, the agent would kill the King of the Silver Millennium. This would not only throw the Moon Kingdom into an uproar that he could take advantage of, but allowed Kunshin the honor of doing what the Sons had dreamed of for a thousand years. He would be the man responsibly for the death of one of the Moon Kingdom's monarchs. This would make him first in line for the throne of Earth. Goruden Kobushi would be shamed by Kunshin's bold act of leadership and fade into the background.

"Trust me," Kunshin said, a dark smile tugging at his lips, "all goes according to plan. I know exactly what needs to be done to secure the future for us."

Full Circle

A Sailor Moon Story
by Meara

Part 3 of 14

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