Continuing Tales

Full Circle

A Sailor Moon Story
by Meara

Part 7 of 14

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Full Circle

It was strange, Wiseman thought, how all his most vivid memories centered around one person. She was at the center of his past, his present and his plans for the future. His life had begun and his life had ended with that one person. In many ways she was as much an enigma as he was. She'd had so many names over the long years and he knew them all. They echoed in his shattered mind like a litany of misery.

Princess Serenity of the Moon Kingdom, Tsukino Usagi, Sailor Moon and the one he hated most – Neo-Queen Serenity of Crystal Tokyo.

His only vivid memory of his mortal life was, ironically enough, the last memory of his mortal life. He knew whom he had been and where he had come from, but all his recollections prior to the moments leading to his "death" as Kunshin Tetsu were so fragmented as to be useless. The only thing he could remember clearly was the feeling of Usagi in his arms and the rapturous, all consuming, delight of her power flowing into him as he glutted himself on her life.

In the midst of the most incredible pleasure, it had all turning inexplicably to pain and then darkness. His next memory was his first memory as Death Phantom - waking inside the giant Black Poison Crystal as it floated through the cold and silent depths of space. He didn't know just how he'd gotten there, but Usagi's face was burned so deeply into his mind that he could never forget it no matter what she called herself.

It was her face he saw in his last memory as Wiseman of the Black Moon. The terrible determination in the eyes of Neo-Queen Serenity, as she passed judgment on him, burning him with the Ginzuishou in an effort to destroy him.

Circles within circles, the wheel of fate turned endlessly. Kunshin Tetsu died so that Death Phantom could be born. Death Phantom became Wiseman of the Black Moon who in turn showed himself to Death Phantom, the master of the great silence - final arbiter of life and death.

Still the wheel of fate moved once more in his favor. When Neo-Queen Serenity had turned the power of the stone of illusions, the Ginzuishou, on him he was sealed within it's inescapable light. But that light cut across time and space. It even pierced the fourth dimension with its clear, brilliant power. In destroying him the Ginzuishou took him to the one place where he could survive. A fragment of his consciousness was able to flee into the silent, black depths of that place between times.

He floated, wounded and weak, for what seemed like an eternity. Humanity with its capacity for endless hatred and violence fed him through the long years. The boundless, negative energy of war and hatred, of bigotry and persecution slowly made him strong again. He husbanded the power and along with it his plans for revenge.

All that was left to Wiseman was his crystal ball, his fragmented memories of the future and a shard of the black poison crystal. The way he'd cheated oblivion had robbed him of clarity in places, but he still knew enough to steer the course of events to his advantage. He slowly, patiently, bided his time,carefully gathering his pawns just in case he might need them in the future.

Kashu Hikaru had been the last and most important of his tools to die. Wiseman made sure that Kashu's obsession with Serenity flowered. He allowed the seeds of it to follow Kashu's soul into the future. When the man was reborn as Demando, the deeply ingrained need to possess the Queen of Earth (and Demando's hatred of Endymion) would be waiting for Wiseman to exploit.

That left Wiseman free to concentrate his full attention on the most important creature ever to be born – Kunshin Tetsu. From his last moments as Kunshin, Wiseman was able to draw an important conclusion. He had "died", Wiseman reasoned, because his mortal body couldn't handle the immense power Usagi (and through her, the Ginzuishou) held. Wiseman would change that by changing Kunshin a little at a time so that when the moment came, his body would be ready to absorb and control both Usagi's life energy and the power of the Ginzuishou.

The time to take control of the future was fast approaching. He could feel the planetoid that held the Black Poison Crystal getting closer. It was at the outer fringes of the solar system now. Soon it would be close enough for him to use. Wiseman's life as the mortal Kunshin Tetsu was following its predestined course to a cataclysmic conclusion.

But this time Wiseman would control the flow of events. He would prevent the mistakes of the future by preventing the mistakes of his past. He would no longer be a mere passenger on the ever-turning wheel of fate.

The circle was closing at long last, but this time, he would be its master.

Usagi had seen a lot of very strange things over the years. The assorted Youma, daimons, and other sundry forces of evil tended to be on the bizarre side by nature of what they were. To be honest though, Usagi had often thought that some of the monsters she and the Senshi had faced were down right silly – powerful and dangerous to be sure, but also really silly at times.

Being an inky minion of the Powers-Of-Darkness must not have very stringent job requirements, Usagi decided. The twisted masters they served tended to be smart enough, but the underlings were inevitably as dumb as a post. From the various nasties the Dark Kingdom had sent to the warped creatures that came out of Dr. Tomoe's lab the second tier forces of evil, in Usagi's estimation, were weird, dim-witted and had no fashion sense what so ever.

But who or what ever had created the abomination Usagi was looking at so intently had to be very, very, very evil. The thought of the twisted genius that'd come up with this idea made her blood run cold. She was held almost spellbound by the frightening visage in front of her. Mamoru came to stand beside her, but Usagi's eyes never left the horror that held her attention.

"Usako," she heard Mamoru whisper in her ear, "What is that?"

It took Usagi a moment to gather the strength to answer. Drawing a deep breath she finally said, "I think it's supposed to be…me."

The small, plastic Sailor Moon doll in the brightly colored box had hair a shade of yellow not found in nature. The waist was impossibly small; the legs molded into tiny spike-heeled boots that made Usagi's feet hurt just looking at it. The doll had a little stick glued to the hand that vaguely resembled her crescent moon wand.

"Ami, Mina, Rei, Makoto…" Usagi pointed to the other boxes beside the Sailor Moon one. "Hey, no fair, they've all got moon wands too!"

"Hmmm…" Mamoru mumbled beside her like an art critic, "well, at least they got your bust right. Maybe we should get one as a souvenir."

That got the King of the Moon a quick elbow in the ribs from his wife. "Very funny, smart guy. I saved the best for last." She reached in back of the female dolls and pulled out a black and silver box. Inside was a ken doll dressed in a tuxedo and a mask. "Think I should get one to put away for when Chibi-Usa is born?"

That question changed Mamoru's mind in a hurry. "The people who did this are evil. We must find them and punish them severely." He raised an eyebrow when he realized that the so-called male doll was, in reality, a tuxedo eunuch. "This is one thing Tuxedo Kamen will definitely not forgive…"

Putting the dolls back with a shudder, Usagi took Mamoru's arm. One hand strayed to the bandana she was wearing, making sure it was still where it was supposed to be. It was rolled and tied around her forehead to cover the crescent moon. Her silver hair was done in a simple braid that went halfway down her back. They strolled out of the store and into the chilly sunshine of late October afternoon.

This was their last day in Maine and Mamoru had promised Usagi that they could do a little shopping and have lunch out. Dressed in clothes from LL Bean, they looked like just another young couple spending some time together. Mamoru noticed that Usagi was drawing looks from a fair number of the men they passed. Not even the suburban American chic of jeans and a sweater could hide her beauty, it seemed.

"Hungry?" he asked her as they walked in the sea air.

"Always," she laughed.

"So what sounds good to you?" Mamoru noticed that Usagi really did seem better today. There was a sparkle in her eyes that had been missing for far too long. "Let's see," he looked around at the various signs (and knowing that Usagi would never be able to read them since they were in English!). "A kosher deli, French food, Italian, MacDonald's…"

They turned the corner and Usagi gave a delighted squeal. Not twenty feet away was a restaurant sign in both western and kanji letters that proclaimed - Umi's of Japan.

"Oooh, oooh, that one, Mamo-chan! I want to see if they have sesame noodles." She pulled Mamoru in that direction.

"We come all this way and you want Japanese?" he laughed as she dragged him along. "We could get sea-food. Something local like…"

That got a finger waved in his face, "No lobster!" Usagi replied, "Now that I know how they're cooked I can never eat it again."

Familiar but still tantalizing smells greeted them as they entered the small restaurant. Mamoru smiled at the huge grin of delight that came to Usagi's face. "Then I don't suppose you want to know how they make sushi, do you?"

Kunshin Tetsu was not a happy man. He sat in the quiet of his study and brooded about what his life had become. He was tense and more than a little shaky with a need that never quite went away these days. Ever since the unexpected visitor had popped up in Usagi's dream, Wiseman had insisted that Kunshin be very, very careful. He'd been relegated to lurking quietly in her dreams and stealing whatever energy he could for days now.

Part of Kunshin was growing more and alarmed at the changes going on inside him. The driving, insatiable cravings for the energy he took from Usagi had become the focus of his life. Everything he did was either connected to or a way of killing time until he could have "Little Usa" in his arms and feed again.

As if his situation wasn't miserable enough, he'd had to sit through weeks of these interminable meetings. It had taken the Grand Council over two days to decide that killing Endymion wasn't really an option.

The Sons of The Golden Kingdom had spent centuries slowly making Prince Endymion into a paragon of power and virtue. Now that the flesh and blood man was within their reach, they had to face the unhappy fact that Endymion was only human after all. Some of them weren't taking that disappointment very well.

Their endless bickering and causal disrespect for the "scared" Book of the Golden Kingdom was the last piece in a puzzle that had been slowly coming together for Kunshin.

The Book was wrong about just about everything and the Sons of The Golden Kingdom were nothing more than an anachronistic joke. There had been no grand and glorious attempt to save Prince Endymion. It was only an excuse for the slaughter of a rival kingdom. "Blessed Beryl" wasn't a holy woman chosen by the angel Metallia, just an ambitious peasant with a lust for power and the last Crown Prince of Earth.

History books were written by the winners, Kunshin knew – the Golden Kingdom's participation in an attempt at genocide was well hidden inside the myth of a righteous cause and a holy crusade. In order to justify the annihilation of an entire race the Moon Kingdom simply had to be evil. Everything he'd been raised to believe was based on a lie.

So why didn't that revelation bother him? The answer, Kunshin decided, was very simple – power. The Sons of the Golden Kingdom were nothing more than avenue to the power he wanted - one that Kunshin Tetsu would use to his best advantage.

As much as it galled him, Kunshin found himself working with Goruden Kobushi. If Goruden had any doubts about the validity of the Book of the Golden Kingdom, he hid it better than Kunshin would have thought him capable of.

Tetsu was able to steer people in the direction he wanted them to go with the manipulated assistance of the golden boy. Goruden was a master orator and his brilliant ability to sway people with the sincere passion of his words made Kunshin hate him all the more. When he achieved the power Wiseman promised him, Kunshin very first act as supreme ruler of earth would be to put Goruden Kobushi to a short, but excessively painful demise. The fantasy of having the golden boy begging for his own death gave Kunshin considerable pleasure.

That thought made his hands itch with longings he could barely control. Kunshin looked at his hands, covered by white cotton gloves that effectively hid the reason he had to wear them in the first place. The cold mottling had crept up his hands and was now slowly changing the flesh on his arms. It didn't really hurt anymore – just the opposite. Each surge of frigid power that signaled another encroachment upon his body gave him a rush of twisted pleasure.

There was a tray of untouched food growing slowly colder by his chair. It was perfectly prepared, beautifully presented and a dish that had been his favorite for years. He found himself repelled by the thought of eating it and that bothered Kunshin Tetsu more than a little. He no longer craved any other sustenance than the life energy he was able to channel into himself. All he wanted, all he needed was contained in the petite body of the Moon Queen.

"This is intolerable," he whispered to the darkness around him.

"Soon, Tetsu, soon," came a voice he knew all too well. "The day draws near when you will hold her in your arms and drain her dry."

Kunshin didn't so much as look up as Wiseman faded into the room. He simply templed his fingers and rested them on his lips.

"So you keep saying. I want answers Wiseman, and I want them now. Why this course of action?"

"Because it was Chiba who entered her dream the other day. He grows suspicious about the nature of the nightmares she is having. Trust me Tetsu, getting Chiba Mamoru under your control will give you what you want. Having him will force your 'Little Usa' to come to you."

"That's not what I meant." Kunshin was pleased by the surprise he could feel coming from Wiseman. "I all ready guessed that it was Chiba's presence I sensed in Usa's dream. It only stands to reason that if he figures out that I'm using the dreams to take her life energy he'd try to put a stop to it. Don't concern yourself about him. I have my own plans for the 'true prince'. What I want to know is why I can't just pull every last drop of power from Usa now and be done with it?"

The demon hands of the Wiseman were the only part of him that moved. They continued their endless, repetitive circling of the glowing crystal ball suspended between them. "Yes, you could take enough in her dreams to kill her. But to tap the power of the Ginzuishou through your 'Usa', you must have her physical body in your hands. Her link to the stone of illusions will give you what you so desire – power unmatched by anything on this world."

"You aren't telling me the whole truth. I can feel that you're holding something back." Kunshin turned to look intently at the dark man.

"You can sense that? Excellent, your power grows even faster than I had hoped." Wiseman seemed oddly pleased by the revelation. "Very well, then. It's time for you to know about…this."

The hands stopped caressing the floating sphere. Wiseman turned one palm up and the ball came to rest above it. The other hand curved around it, making the physical contact Wiseman had always avoided before. When he lifted that hand away, a small black shard of crystal floated free of the ball.

"This is a small piece of the greatest power in the universe." With a small gesture, Wiseman sent to shard to hover in front of Kunshin Tetsu. "It is called the Black Poison Crystal."

Kunshin stared at the ebony sliver of crystal in front of him. It called to him and he raised shaking hands to cup it. For a moment, Kunshin worked his hands around it, never actually touching it. It was the part of him that he had never known was missing until this moment. The ebony shard reacted to his presence, pulsing softly between his hands. He closed his eyes in pleasure as the discordant song of power it promised sang in his equally black soul. "The Black Poison Crystal?"

"The rest of the crystal approaches Earth even now. It has slept in the cold and perfectly silent depths of space, waiting for you to be ready to claim it. Once it is close enough, the day of your ascension will be at hand. The life energy of the Moon Queen and through her, the power of the Ginzuishou will fully awaken it. The Black Crystal will make you invincible, unstoppable – a god among men."

The tiny piece of crystal between the hands of Kunshin Tetsu glowed a sickly greenish black – the color of rotting leave at the bottom of a stagnant pond. The same unhealthy fire flashed in Kunshin's eyes. He looked up from the shard and for a moment, Kunshin could have sworn he heard the thoughts of the Wiseman echoing inside his own mind.

"The future I have waited for approaches." Wiseman hissed in satisfaction. He called the small piece of ebony crystal back and let it sleep once more inside the glowing ball between his hands. "The circle closes at long last."

So strong, for an instant, was the link between the two that as Kunshin spoke he wasn't sure of he was giving voice to his own thoughts, or those of the demonic man who floated in the shadows. "And I am its master."

"As it was meant to be." Wiseman began to fade back into the writhing shadows, the shining points of light that were his eyes piercing the dark veil that was swallowing him whole. "The future cannot be denied."

Usagi was in heaven. Not only was she on her second plate of sesame noodles, but she could actually talk to the people who ran the restaurant. After over a week of enforced public silence (it was hard to carry on a conversation when you couldn't understand what people were saying to you) she could finally chat to her heart's content.

"No way!" she said to the waitress, a young woman named Yuriko who was about Usagi's age. "They changed the uniforms at Juuban High? That's not fair. If I had to wear that butt ugly outfit so should everyone else!"

"That's what I said too. Some people have no respect for tradition at all," the waitress replied. "And do you know why they changed it? Some two hundred year old fossil on the school board named Hirogu-san said that the uniforms looked too much like the fukus the Sailor Senshi wear. Is that stupid or what?""

Mamoru had been sitting back watching Usagi enjoy herself. "You sound like you don't agree with that line of reasoning."

The Waitress gave Mamoru a look that spoke volumes. "I had a cousin who went to Mugen School. The Sailor Senshi saved her and a lot of other people from something a lot worse than death."

"They also leveled three acres of prime real estate," called a man behind the counter. "I think that was what really frosted old man Hirogu's butt. His family invested in Mugen!" He finished and, wiping his hands on his apron, walked towards the table. "Have you been back to Tokyo lately?"

"No," replied Mamoru with a glance at Usagi. "We both took jobs that forced us to move out of Japan."

Yuriko snorted. "Consider yourselves lucky, then. Things have changed back home and not for the better. You have to have an identity card to prove you're human before you can get into or out of the country. And the better high schools - they've actually been turning people out saying that they're aliens."

"Now Yuriko," the man in the apron chided her, "I'm sure the Government knows what it's doing. If people just cooperate everything will be fine. Things are bound to settle down eventually."

Yuriko threw up hands. "Is my brother a complete idiot or what?" She turned slapped him on the shoulder. "Sure things will settle down, but will Japan be ever be the same again? It is a place you'd want to live? I know I'll never go back there now!"

"You are such a drama queen, Yuriko! You make it sound like the end of the world," he grumbled as he headed back for the kitchen. "Well come, let's leave these nice people alone, ne? Can I get you some more noodles…I'm sorry what did you say your name was?"

Usagi felt Mamoru slip a hand on her leg as he answered for them both. "Furuhata. Motoki and Reika Furuhata."

"Domo arigato gozaimasu, Furuhata-san. Can I get you another plate?"

"No, thank you," Usagi replied in an even tone. "I think two plates of sesame noodles in one day is my limit."

They watched the two leave, Yuriko slapping her recalcitrant brother with towel as she made a point. The sound her calling him a "baka" again floated back towards Usagi and Mamoru.

The small table in the back of the restaurant had a splendid view of the Atlantic. It was a prefect late October day in Maine. The skies were a clear, brilliant blue and the sun shone on the water casting bright jewels of light across the ocean's surface. The surface of the sea was quiet today, but Mamoru knew that waters beneath it were forever moving and changing.

The end of the world. Could it be? They had never discovered the chain of events that were supposed to lead to Crystal Tokyo.

Mamoru had that look on his face again, Usagi noted as she finished the last of noodles. "All right, Mamo-chan. Whatever you're thinking about can't be all that bad."

"Excuse me?" He asked as Usagi's voice jolted him out of his thoughts.

"Whenever you do this…" Usagi brought her right hand up to her mouth and made a fist. She started to tap her lips with the fist while furrowing her eyebrows in a creditable imitation of Mamoru. "You are about to go into full brooding mode and I'd like to know why."

"I've been reading the newspapers since we've been here," Mamoru started. "Things have gotten worse since we left – much worse. The camps Lorilei told us about are only the tip of the iceberg."

"And you wonder if we should keep to our policy of isolation?" Usagi finished. "If we aren't making things worse by it."

Mamoru gave her a smile of pleasant surprise. Usagi may not be a scholar in the truest sense of the word, but her ability to read people's hearts was almost uncanny. "I thought you couldn't read English," he replied.

"I can't – but I can watch CNN like everyone else. You don't have be a rocket scientist to figure out what's being said and done. China is still majorly ticked off about what we did when we rescued those people."

"You have no idea," Mamoru said in whisper. "Until today all they've done is put out the usual, moronic propaganda. Did you know that we're evil, imperialist creatures that like to roast socialist babies over an open flame for fun?" That got a smile from his wife. "Today though, it changed. I read in the paper before we left this morning that China has flatly said that anymore 'incursions' will be met by a military response."

"So what are they going to do?" Usagi asked in a skeptical voice, "Shoot at us? We're on a different planet and I don't think they have any guns that can reach us from earth."

The look in Mamoru's eyes stopped her cold. "Usako, they do have a weapon that could reach us – an intercontinental ballistic missile."

What little color Usagi has regained during the vacation drained from her face. "Oh dear God," she whispered, horrified by the thought, "They wouldn't use…nuclear weapons? Are they crazy?"

"It could just be an empty threat," Mamoru hasten to reassure her. "I think the time may have come for us to try and approach some kind of understanding with the nations of Earth. Right now the Moon Kingdom is a big and very convenient target to place blame on for just about anything."

"I know the Advisory Council will think it's a great idea. A lot of people are happy to be safe, but still want to be able go back to Earth – back home. I know I do."

She looked out the ocean and her eyes grew distant for moment. "Watching Yuriko and her brother argue makes me miss Shingo. You know, I was dreaming about my Mom and Dad just last night. It's been so long since I've seen any of them."

The sunlight caught her profile as she turned to look out the window. The weight Usagi had lost made her cheekbones appear more finely etched on her delicate face. Even with all the good food, sea air and rest, it was as if she could never quite catch up on herself.

As if, Mamoru suddenly thought, something was pulling her energy out of her faster than she could replace it.

He may not have been sure about how long it would take Usagi to completely recover from her near fatal use of the Ginzuishou, but Mamoru was very sure of one thing. The cycle of nightmares she was in was only draining her further. The images he'd seen when he'd awakened Usagi the other day flashed through his mind.

Usagi lay like a broken doll in the arms of a strange and dark man. Exactly what that man was doing to her, Mamoru couldn't tell, but he could feel the pain it caused her. The eyes of the thing that held Usagi so tightly snapped open, mere points of light in a face made of writhing, shifting shadows. The creature looked directly at Mamoru as if sensing his presence - and gave a cold, mocking laugh of triumph. The darkness boiled up from the ground to swallow both Usagi and the man who held her.

Mamoru had the growing sense that there was much more to these nightmares than either of them knew. Small bits and pieces were starting to come together in his mind in a way that only made him more worried. Why wouldn't the rash on Usagi's neck heal? Why did Usagi always feel so cold after waking from one of these episodes? Why couldn't she remember more detail about a dream she was having over and over?

"Usako," he began slowly, "Tell me about the nightmares you've been having."

She looked back to Mamoru, startled by the request. "There's not much to tell," she began hesitantly. "I can't remember much of it too clearly."

"But you're still having them, ne?" he pressed.


His hand reached for hers and gave it a reassuring squeeze. "Then tell me what you can recall and we'll take it from there. I want to know everything you can remember about them."

In many ways this had been the three most boring weeks of Minako's life. There was much more to the Sons of The Golden Kingdom than anyone knew, Minako decided. She sighed, resting her chin on arms that were folded neatly on top of a table holding yet another dusty old tome. Thank God Ami was digesting the information she sent and giving her back useful notes.

History had never been Minako's best subject in school and she found that this assignment was only really interesting about ten percent of the time. But that ten percent more than made up for daily, grinding boredom as she slogged through one old book after another.

She had Goruden Kobushi hooked, that she was sure of. They'd had dinner together every night for the past week and half. He always made it a point to stop in the archives and see her whenever the never-ending "board" meetings he was sequestered in took a break. In the few weeks she'd been here the man had fallen for her – hard, just as she'd planned. So why did Minako feel so conflicted about that?

One part of her, the part that was Sailor Venus, Leader of the Inner Senshi, said that Goruden was the enemy. He and his followers were out to destroy everything she held dear. Information about the real intentions of the Sons was vital to preventing bloodshed. This was her duty, nothing more.

The other part of her, the part was known as the Soldier of Love, was diametrically opposed. Kobushi wasn't evil. All he really wanted was for the peaceful unification of Earth. He longed for the same things she did – a happy and peaceful future. Everything she'd found out about Kobushi only reinforced her perception that he was a man of honor and conviction.

He's just misinformed, the Soldier of Love said. Once we can prove that Usagi doesn't want to dominate Earth he'll see that we can all work together. Love can change Kobushi's heart and show him the way to achieve his goals without violence!

The way? The leader of the Inner Senshi replied. Hello! In case you haven't been paying attention, this guy's way to the future is a road paved over our dead bodies! It doesn't matter if the man holding the gun on you is evil. If he shoots you, you are still just as dead.

It could get very loud inside Mina's head some days. She slowly massaged her temples in an effort to stop the pounding headache she could feel developing. The back of her neck was as stiff as a board with tension and from all the reading she'd done.

A gentle hand slipped onto just the right place on Mina's neck and slowly worked the muscles. She gave a sigh of relief and let her head fall forward onto the top of the book with a dull thump.

"You have a week to stop doing that Kobu-chan," she mumbled, her words obscured by the fact that her face was pressed against the page.

"Been working too hard?" came the dulcet tone of Goruden Kobushi. Mina N. Charles was a delight, he thought. She was so open with her feelings, so unlike any other woman he'd ever known.

"Umm humm," she agreed as his hands worked magic on her neck.

"Then let me take you away from all of this, sweet Mina," he whispered in her ear, sending a delicious shiver down her spine. "Or at least let me take you to dinner tonight."

Mina gave a sigh as she sat up. "I can't, I'm sorry. Remember I told you that a friend of mine from college is getting married?"

"Is that this weekend?" Kobushi replied. "Does she live very far away?"

You could say that, Mina thought. "Kind of far away. I'll be gone for a few days. But I promise I'll be back by Monday morning. After all, I have to keep working way on my research."

"Excuse me, Kobushi-kun, but the board is ready to start again," came a male voice from the doorway. Kunshin Tetsu smiled at Mina as he came into the room. He hadn't missed the look on Goruden's face as he talked with the English woman. The office rumor mill had it right for once. Goruden had fallen hard for the foreigner – and she was just as beautiful as everyone said.

"Thank you Tetsu-kun," Goruden said politely in English. "Have you met our visitor from England yet? Ms. Mina Charles, this is Tetsu Kunshin – a prominent member of our organization. Ms. Charles is here doing some research on the origins of our movement with the blessing of the board."

Turning on the charm, Kunshin took Mina's hand and gave it a kiss. "A pleasure Ms. Charles," he said, also in English. As he took her hand Kunshin felt a brief tingle even through the gloves he wore. That he could sense her life pulsing so vibrantly through her intrigued him.

Geez, Mina thought even though she smiled, this guy is a ten on the creep-o-meter! "Thank you Mr. Kunshin."

He held onto her hand a moment longer and caught her eye. "My personal library has a number of antique volumes not found in the archives here. You're most welcome to come to my home to see them."

"What a gracious offer, thank you. I'll have to see if I can fit into my plans," Mina smiled back. When pigs fly, she thought, firmly removed her hand from his. There was something about this man that made her skin crawl.

"I'll try to see you again before you leave, Mina," Kobushi said as he turned to leave the room. "If not, have a nice weekend and we'll talk on Monday." Kunshin's back was to Kobushi and he mouthed, 'call me!' at her.

Kunshin went to follow Goruden hesitantly. "It was very nice to meet you Ms. Charles. I hope to see you again very soon.

Giving a nod of acknowledgment, and a glance at Kobushi, Mina pretended to become quickly engrossed in the book on the table. "And you also, Mr. Kunshin."

Kunshin hadn't missed the exchange between Goruden and the young woman. That his rival was attracted to her made Ms. Mina Charles all the more desirable to Tetsu. A smile came to his lips as he entertained the thought of seducing her away from the golden boy. She might not be Usa, but her energy would still help to stop the gnawing cravings that ate at him. Kunshin Tetsu decided that he was going to get know Ms. Mina Charles better – much better and very soon.

It was only a small chapel, but it was home to the growing community of Christians on the Moon. There hadn't been time to build a real stone and mortar church building yet and the space was shared by several of Christian sects. As strange as it may have seemed to some people back on Earth, the situation was working very smoothly. This evening saw Roman Catholic priest, Father Robert Marcelino and Evangelical Minister, Pastor Eugene Leaman discussing plans for a combined celebration in the upcoming Christmas season over a game of chess in the tiny office at the back of the structure.

"Are you sure it's not too much to ask, Gene?" Father Marcelino asked as he watched his friend move the rook. "It'd be a lot of work for some of your people."

"Are you kidding? They've been dying to get a chance to perform at a big event." Pastor Leaman smiled. "Besides, I've heard your choir sing, Bob. Trust me, having our group do the music is an act of Christian charity. Oh, and checkmate in five moves."

The priest scrutinized the playing boards and shook his head slowly. "The ladies choir means well, but God have mercy, some of those old gals have a voice that could strip paint right off the walls." He finally moved his knight. "I've always figured it's just one of the crosses our Lord wants me to bear."

"Checkmate in four moves now," came a voice from in back of them.

Both men turned to see a man walking into the small room that served as the office for the chapel. As he moved out of the doorway, just who he was hit both of the good Reverends - it was the King. They both started to get to their feet.

"No, no," Mamoru said, motioning for them to both remain seated. "Please don't stop on my account. This isn't a visit from the King, just Chiba Mamoru."

"That's all right, son. Pastor Leaman was beating the pants off me as usual anyway," said Father Marcelino. He waved the King to a nearby chair. "How can we help you this evening?"

Mamoru reached into the breast pocket of the coat he wore and pulled out an envelope. "I'm glad you asked. As you may have heard, the Advisory Council met earlier today."

Pastor Leaman nodded his head. "I spoke with Rabbi Meir and he said that an important announcement would be made in the next day or two." The Orthodox Jewish Rabbi currently held the seat on the Council reserved for the clergy. "I gather this has something to do with that announcement?"

"This is a letter asking for help in setting up a meeting between various nations of Earth and the Moon Kingdom. Since the Vatican has a long history of acting as a mediator in situations like this, we were hoping that you'd be willing to deliver this letter for the Council, Father Marcelino."

"Deliver," the priest said in an uncertain voice, "as in my going to Rome - to see the Pope? I'm just a simple parish priest. There must be someone else more…influential…to send."

Pastor Leaman was enjoying the look on his friend's face. "Well, Bob, God does work in mysterious ways. And as we've discussed before, he doesn't measure how worthy we are to serve Him by titles like Cardinal or Bishop. But if you don't want to go I'll take it for you. I hear Italy is nice this time of year and I do speak a little polish."

The good father took the hint from his colleague. "I'd be honored to help in any initiative that can bring about peace."

"Thank you, Father. We can arrange for the Gate to take you there whenever it's convenient," Mamoru said with a gentle smile. "I don't think I need to tell you gentlemen that this matter has to be kept quiet until an official announcement is made."

"Don't worry, son" Father Marcelino said as he turned the envelope in his hands over and over. "If there's one thing all members of the clergy have in common, it's that we know how to keep a secret."

Everything was going according to his plan and that pleased Wiseman a great deal. He looked at Kunshin Tetsu while the man surreptitiously fed on Usagi's life force as she lay dreaming. The rapt expression on the man's face indicated that he was getting a good dose of energy from the Moon Queen this time. That Wiseman could feel a psychic "echo" of the pleasure Tetsu was experiencing meant that the changes in Kunshin's body were accelerating. He would soon be ready for the next step on the path to his destiny.

There was enormous satisfaction in knowing that the future Neo-Queen Serenity was personally supplying the power that would lead to her destruction - and it was being done right under the noses of her pathetic guardians. As much as Wiseman was enjoying it, he knew that this phase of the game was almost finished.

Chiba was much closer to discovering just what Tetsu was doing to Usagi then Wiseman had told him. The bond between the future Neo-Queen and her King would cause him to uncover the truth and very soon. There was only one way to handle that situation. Kunshin was much too addicted to the energy he took from Usagi and the feelings it gave him to rationally consider what must be done. Sometimes in order to win, Wiseman knew, you had to appear to lose.

All the pieces he needed were coming into place. Wiseman's long cherished dreams of revenge would be realized very soon. Usagi would die knowing that it was her power that enabled him to destroy everything she'd ever held dear. When that moment came, Wiseman would delight in hearing her screams of pain and anguish as he held her in his arms and ripped the last of her life out of her.

The long awaited end-game was getting ready to begin and Wiseman would take no chances on losing.

Full Circle

A Sailor Moon Story
by Meara

Part 7 of 14

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