Continuing Tales

Dark Kingdom Renegades 9: Thy Kingdom Come

A Sailor Moon Story
by Mark Latus

Part 11 of 12

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Thy Kingdom Come

While not particularly pessimistic Pyrite was of the opinion things were looking very bleak. Indeed it would not to be unfair to term the situation hopeless. The energy webs the Overlord had created still ensnared him, Azure, Ti and Sailor Venus. Unfortunately possession hadn't interfered with those. Equally unfortunate he was unable to sense any weakness in the web he could manipulate to free himself and the others. Though what he could possibly hope to accomplish if free was questionable. The one bright spot about all this was his counterpart along with Ti's and Magnesite's were too distracted to bother with them. Though compared to what Metallia was likely to do to them they might welcome the Dark Circle's attention. At worst they were merely evil. Metallia was the Abyss incarnate.

Lord Pyrite's opinions of the current situation were running in a similar vein. But it didn't seem anyway near as urgent to him. Beside him Princess Titanite was staring at the Calcites in the vain hope her brother would announce he was just kidding. On his other side Lord Magnesite had managed to pull himself together enough to demand, "What in the Abyss is going on!" He had no idea what was happening beyond the obvious. Hermes and Zeus had broken in and trashed things before getting caught, everyone else in the Circle suddenly had a double and one of the Azurites was dead. He was holding out little hope for getting a straight answer though he suspected he might prefer to stay ignorant. Unfortunately Pyrite's answer confirmed his suspicions.

Nonchalantly his fellow lord told him, "We've been invaded by alternate versions ourselves and the senshi from another universe. Calcite's counterpart has broken the seals that contained Metallia and she's possessed both of them. She's free to avenge herself on us for binding her so it looks like Judgement Day has just arrived." Magnesite just stared at him aghast. Pyrite sounded like he was discussing the weather. In the same tone he added, "If Azure hadn't just died this might bother me a lot more."

"Comfort yourself with the thought you will join her before too long!" The voice was Calcite's but there was someone else looking out of their eyes. Both had the same chilling expression of barely contained malice and seemed to radiate malignancy. The Overlord had spoken but it was the unscarred Calcite that continued. "But not as soon as you will wish. I created your kind to serve me! You dared to turn upon your Goddess! To bind me like some common demon!" Titanite and Magnesite cringed from her wrath, Pyrite didn't seem to care. After losing Azurite it was hard to work up any more despair. He was in just about the right mood for the end of the world.

Metallia switched back to speaking through his cousin. Lord Pyrite wondered idly if switching the body she spoke with was Metallia's whim or an involuntary side-effect of the double possession. "You have no idea of the depths of my hatred. For centuries I sought to heal and just as I was about to be reborn you enslaved me! Did you maggots think you could ... control me ... I am ... you cannot ..." The Overlord's face suddenly twisted as though he was straining at something. The unscarred Calcite stood unchanged as the Overlord contorted with pain. "This is ... my mind ... I ..." The aura surrounding him writhed, throwing of streamers of dark power. Princess Titanite allowed herself a trace of hope. Only to see her brother's features slide back to Metallia's mask.

As abruptly as it had begun all traces of rebellion vanished and the possessed man straighten up. Almost as soon as he did the second Calcite suddenly seemed to be waging an internal struggle. A new expression appeared on the Overlord's face. Disbelief. They had recovered from the shock of possession and were resisting her. That wasn't possible! She was the Mother of Demons and Avatar of the Abyss. She could not fall to mere mortals. Yet the flow of words ceased as both minds struggled against her and she had to turn her attention inward.

"Cal?" Princess Titanite heard Polaris call to her brother. It was hardly surprising he didn't respond. Both Calcites were locked in psychic battle against the invader. It was unlikely he was even aware of anything outside his own mind. Even if he had heard her he could hardly spare the strength to reassure her everything was going to be fine. Which would be a lie as it all looked balanced on the razor's edge. Her own brother's eyes were flickering between purple and black as the battle shifted back and forth. Unable to think of any way to help him she was getting angry. But at least she wasn't trying to distract him at a crucial moment. Her contempt for her counterpart exploded. It was sickening to think she could have grown up to be such a gutless weakling! She raised the Ginzuishou and turned to face the pseudo senshi. What she saw surprised her.

Polaris didn't look scared. Instead she was watching her brother with a look of utter confidence. She hadn't even noticed her, all her attention was fixed on her brother. "Come on Cal, if I could beat the Lord of Chaos you can beat this prehistoric bit... uhm demon queen!" Her voice was quiet as she didn't want to distract him but determined. She didn't seem to doubt the outcome. The Senshi were also all intent on the duel pair. With the exception of Hermes and Zeus who were hanging in their holding field recovering from her brother's ministrations. Which heartened her.

"Forget it weakling. There's no way a softheaded fool like your brother can master a demon! My brother is another matter. He will triumph and crush Metallia back into servitude. After which he will rend that second rate copy up there limb from limb." Polaris's eyes shifted to her counterpart, that was about all she could move. She didn't look impressed.

"If a twisted creep like your brother can do it then it'll be a cinch for Cal! He's in no danger of falling for Metallia's line of bull. As for the weakling part cut me loose and let's try a rematch!"

The Princess smiled and raised her gemstone. "Forgetting this?"

"Big deal! You don't know how to use it properly or you wouldn't have had to turn that Shadow creep loose on the Senshi. All you can do with that is boost what you've got. If you could work it properly you could beat Metallia yourself!"

The casual dismissal of her prowess enraged Princess Titanite. The Ginzuishou glowed brighter as she drew upon its power. Unnoticed by all the entranced Usagi Tsukino twitched and looked toward the stone. Then the Princess lowered the stone abruptly. "No, you're not going to trick me into finishing you quickly. You will live long enough to see your brother die! After that ... your kind have cost me my big sister." She glared at the trapped Azurite and Pyrite. "They did the deed but I will not rob Pyrite of his just and righteous vengeance! But you're the one who opened the way to our world. It's your fault! Azurite was my sister by choice if not blood and I loved her. You have cost me more than you can ever know! Your slow death will not bring her back but maybe it'll make me feel better!"

Lying forgotten at Ti's feet Margrave was debating the wisdom of telling the Princess to stop picking on Ti versus remaining overlooked by a psychotic girl holding the Ginzuishou. Fortunately Rei took the initiative.

"Leave her alone!" The indignation became a cry of pain as the Princess slapped her with youma strength. Rei glared back defiantly ignoring the blood dripping from the gash opened by the gemstone.

"I haven't forgotten you Mars. You're mine too!" She smiled as she looked from one to the other. "You can keep each other company in a cell like Poseidon and Heaven. We'll see which of you breaks first. Pity you're not as close as they were but I'm sure your shared misery will build a close bond. Which I'll enjoy shattering!"

"If you're so bad why aren't you doing something instead of acting tough!" Startled by the interruption the Princess glanced down to see the mysterious catwoman whose appearance had so amazed her brother. Who was she anyway and what made her talk so freely to her betters? Undaunted the lower class youma kept going, "Like she said in our Dark Kingdom the Ginzuishou beat Metallia. And that was in the hands of a purehearted weakling like Sailor Moon!" Her eyes flicked over to the bound girl in bunny pajamas. "You're not tough enough to do what a mere human accomplished when Metallia still can't manifest herself or even fully control her host? How pathetic can you get? I'm sure your brother will be impressed when you tell him how you stood here watching him beat Metallia cheering every step of the way. He may not ask you why you didn't intervene but he'll certainly think ... OOF!" Margrave gasped for air as the Princess's kick slammed her against Rei's column and the immobile Ti. The Princess stalked away to rejoin Lords Magnesite and Pyrite who were still transfixed by the struggling Calcites.


"I ... I'm okay, kitten." Okay as I can be, she thought. Despite the pain she felt a surge of triumph and hid a savage smile. She'd played that just about right. Their one chance of getting out of this would be if the right Calcite won. If the Princess's intervention would make any difference to Calcite's struggle she didn't know. But anything that distracted Metallia was worth trying and hopefully it would at least rid them of that mini Beryl. Why it angered her when the Princess picked on Ti she wasn't sure but it did and she was a firm believer in not bottling up anger. Besides anything that diminished the Dark Circle was worth trying.

Princess Titanite fumed as she rejoined her cousin and (hah!) her lover. Magnesite was somewhere between inbred religious awe and terror while Pyrite was watching the whole thing with clinical detachment. It was impossible to say who was winning as both Calcites flipped between awareness and possession in the space of instants. The black auras around both flicked out streamers which gouged holes in the throne dias. The throne itself had already been reduced to shattered blocks of black obsidian. No matter, he rarely used it and could rebuild it with a thought. Though he might redesign it, image was one thing but even with the cushions it wasn't suitable for prolonged sitting. Hold on brother, in a few moments you'll be free to do whatever you like.

With this thought in mind Princess Titanite pushed past the other two and focussed on the Ginzuishou. It glowed in response to her will and she began summoning power. "Cousin, what are you doing!" Pyrite's voice was urgent, it seemed she had shocked him out of his apathy. Good, she didn't want him falling apart on them. Yes, Azurite's death was a blow but they had to keep going. There could be no turning back! The cat slut had been right. If Sailor Moon could beat a fully formed Metallia then she could defeat one weakened by a battle on the psychic plane. Her brother's aura might automatically defend against threats but psychic attack was another matter. He had psychic defences but those could be sidestepped. That was how the other Calcite had made contact. Abyss! He must have helped the other Pyrite build that psi bomb! That was the only way a cheap trick like that could have worked! She felt her own latent psychic powers awake and smiled. As always the power intoxicated her as it filled her. Nothing was impossible, she could do anything! Her mind surged toward her brother grappling for Metallia bearing a single thought, "BROTHER, AWAKEN!"

On the psychic plane Metallia staggered as a third mind slammed into her. Her vision of the physical plane shifted like a kaleidoscope as she fought for control of her host bodies but the glimpses revealed the source of the new assault. Her grip on the Overlord was being torn away, she had to act fast! She abandoned her struggle with the second Calcite and poured herself into a strike on the Overlord. The alternate maintained his own psychic link with the Overlord, she'd ride back along that to control him later. Right now she had bigger problems. The Abyss connection passed through the Overlord, if she lost her grip on him she could lose that! Her full strength slammed into the Overlord's psyche overwhelming him momentarily. Giving her control of his body again. He'd rally in moments but that would be long enough. His hands filled with black fire as he raised them. Princess Titanite's smug smile vanished.

"CALCITE, NO! FIGHT HER!" Her psychic attack broke as she frantically refocused her strength into a forceshield. The energy tore from his hands and popped her shield like a soap bubble. Princess Titanite had time for one brief horrified shriek before the black flames consumed her. There wasn't even a sprinkling of dust left. The Ginzuishou hit the floor and skittered away from the throne. Metallia felt the Overlord's mental scream and rejoiced. That was how to overwhelm her hosts! Grief! A weakness she thought she'd bred out of the race but no matter. If it worked on one it would work on the other. Still in control of the Overlord's body she began to turn to the second Titanite. Sailor Polaris struggled futilely against the holding field trying in vain to escape. The Overlord's motion suddenly slowed as though he was moving in thick, unseen fluid. Ti say her brother's eyes blaze purple as he resumed the mental assault. Yet little by little the Overlord was raising his hand towards her. Slowed but not stopped! Death was approaching! Despite the terror she didn't dare cry out. She couldn't distract her brother. He could beat Metallia. He had to!

Calcite felt the Overlord's body keep moving despite everything he threw at it. This wasn't his normal battleground, he didn't know the tricks of psychic combat! Worse with his counterpart traumatised by the death of his sister at his own hands he was fighting Metallia alone. If he could induce the berserker mindstate he could beat her but he didn't know how! If that wasn't enough at any second Metallia might realize she could simply break his psychic link to the Overlord's mind then finish the fight in the real world. He had seconds to act or Ti was dead followed by everyone else! Desperation tore through him, there had to be some way to stop the Overlord while they were still linked ...

Suddenly he knew what he had to do. Almost involuntarily he looked to his sister long enough to say, "Goodbye!" Then his mind shifted to his own nervous system. He'd synchronized with the Overlord when their minds met, that was why he'd acquired the aura. Without any more ado he reached out overriding his regeneration ability by force of will and touched his heart. It stopped beating.

Metallia shrieked as the effect echoed in the Overlord's body. Taking advantage of the distraction he hurled his mind on her. Dimly he was aware of his body collapsing in the physical realm but it didn't matter. He had to overwhelm her before their bodies combusted or she'd revive them. He heard a howl of fury louder than Metallia's and saw the raging Overlord throw himself upon the demon. He took advantage of the distraction to tear into the demon's mind. Metallia screamed again in disbelief. This couldn't be happening! On the physical plane they wouldn't have lasted a second against her! She was right but this was the psychic plane where it was her mind against two others. One driven by determination, the other by hate. She was weakened by still needing a host form and her chosen ones dying. Worse with the Calcites tearing into her she couldn't cast out to find another body. She had to beat them then restart their bodies but they were tearing her apart! On this plane they were her equals and she wasn't used to fighting those who could resist her. She fought by overwhelming those who opposed her with her unrivalled power. She had never fought hand to hand or mind to mind combat. Not since the days she'd been human so long ago. She flailed wildly hurting them but not slowing them. Her cry echoed Beryl's, it couldn't end like this!

A psychic visualizing the battle would have seen two green haired men who could have been twins ripping apart a black cloud with their bare hands. Red rippling frantically inside the cloud as gaseous limbs formed and struck at the men causing pain but not slowing their attack. Perhaps the melee would seem to be happening as all three fell though none showed any concern over it. They were intent purely on the battle. They didn't even notice the nightmare manifesting below them.

The Overlord tore another chunk loose from the mass and cast it away. Calcite heard him exclaim, "ABYSS!" but assumed it was just a curse. He was intent on something else. Within the dark mass he could see a red silhouette of something humanoid. He punched into the cloud ignoring the pain and grasped something. Using all the strength he possessed he pulled back tearing the shape free. The woman in gray necromancer's robes stared at him in sheer terror. The black cloud that had enclosed her thinned then flowed after the Overlord as he flew through it. He was smiling as his strike almost tore Metallia's head off.

If it had been her physical body rather than a psychic construct Metallia would have died instantly. But nothing truly had form here, that was imposed on the battle by the participants as their minds and souls clashed. Metallia was damaged but tried to rally. Only to feel Calcite's fists tearing into her as he reached for her heart. Her true body had died eons ago but by merging with the power of the Abyss she had cheated death and become a Goddess. Queen of the Demons, not merely their creator. Now her link was broken and her psyche being shattered. Battered as she was she couldn't recreate her power link. Below them the Abyss gaped hungrily, its psychic gravity pulling at her. She dimly realized the Calcites had ceased their assault. Indeed they seemed to be receding. Fear restored her senses as she realized they were hovering above her while she fell.

The Abyss spread before her a dark roiling cancerous mass. The resting place of human evil rather than it's source. The evil that men did living after them. Once source of her power and her home. She'd thought it hers forever. Now she fell into it like any demon tainted soul and it looked hungry. She shrieked for a mercy she'd never shown as she plunged downward. Neither Calcite moved as at long last Metallia returned to the Abyss. All that she was absorbed into the Darkness and consumed in instants. After uncounted millennia Metallia had finally suffered the true death she had cheated for so long.

Watching the spectacle the Overlord laughed while Calcite felt sick. He felt no sympathy for Metallia but he had rather been hoping that the Abyss was a legend. But in his heart he had always known it was real. As afterlives went it was definitely on the low end of the scale.

Overlord Calcite felt that power that filled him and hissed, "The link to the Abyss remains even without her. It's all mine! Alone I didn't have the strength to prise her from her shell and let the Abyss take her but she couldn't resist the two of us. Now the power is mine alone and I am free of Metallia. Restart our bodies and let's return to the physical plane."


The single quiet syllable cut through the Overlord's elation. His counterpart was gazing into the Abyss and didn't like what he saw. Yet he was refusing to restore them. Did the fool not understand? "Are you mad? Our bodies are dying back in the real world. If we're seeing the Abyss we're pretty close to the point of no return! If we don't get back soon we're going in there." Already he could feel the first tugs.

"I know." What the hell was his counterpart's problem? Time was swiftly running out.

"Do you want your soul consumed?" Confusion and the beginnings of fear touched the Overlord. He had lost his sister and Azurite to the Abyss now he faced his own soul death. That would scare anyone.

With an effort Calcite shifted his attention from the Abyss to the Overlord. "Falling into the Abyss terrifies me more than anything in my entire life. But if we go back you'll slaughter me and everyone I care about."

The Overlord started to deny it then cursed. The other knew him better than anyone. Of course he would destroy them, what other course of action was there? He tried to think. "I'll grant you safe passage back to your own world. As a bonus I'll toss in the Senshi. Keep them on your side of the gate and they're no threat to me."

"You're lying. You can't afford to let us go knowing we might return someday. Besides now the senshi know you exist they'll do everything in their power to return."

Damn it! Try again. "A bargain then. You've linked to my power, so we'll share it. Stay in this world and I won't have to fear your return. With Azurite and my sister gone there are two vacant domains. They are yours to rule as you please. If you really want you can be nice to the humans in them. Rule them justly if it makes you happy."

"The Senshi?"

"You're right, exile wouldn't work. They'd seek to return. We'll have to kill them."


"NO?! Don't give me that! I've seen your memories! You're no saint! If you had to sacrifice the Senshi to save your own group you would do it! I know you from the inside. We are different aspects of the same soul, closer than brothers. There is nothing I have done that is beyond you!"

Calcite's expression was bleak. "I'm afraid you're right. Perhaps it's better we both die here."

"I think you've missed the point. We're both bastards, I just go a bit further than you. You can't tell me you're willing to throw your life away to save the Senshi!"

"You're right, I'm no hero and I'm not ready to die. But you play by Beryl's rules so you'll never be content to share power. You can't have an equal capable of challenging you around. So if we go back you'll dedicate yourself to severing the powerlink and destroying us."

The Overlord raged. He couldn't fool this man and death was fast approaching! That left one option. "I'll make you restore us!"

"I don't think so. On this plane we're evenly matched, remember?" Calcite felt something touch him and looked up to faraway light. "Besides it's too late. I've stalled you long enough. We just passed the point of no return."

The Overlord felt himself slipping downwards and cursed. All his efforts focused to fighting off the pull. Calcite was surprised not to feel the tug of the Abyss. Did that mean he'd spend eternity hovering over it? The thought of eternity was interrupted by a more urgent one. Something had just grabbed him! He looked down to see the Overlord grasping him trying to stop his descent. Instead he just slowed it as Calcite began sinking with him. Despite everything the Overlord smiled. "Wouldn't want you too miss the trip brother." Calcite tried to prise him off but like he'd said they were evenly matched. The two grappling figures slowly drifted towards the Abyss.

On the physical plane things looked rather different. Titanite heard her brother suddenly say farewell in the midst of grappling the Overlord's body physically and mentally. Suddenly he had slumped and the Overlord had clutched at his chest. Both had collapsed to the dias, their auras lashing around wildly. She heard Lord Pyrite exclaim, "They're not breathing!" and felt fear for her own life replaced by fear for her brother. She renewed her struggle against the holding field and found some give. Azurite also began moving in slow motion as did Venus and Pyrite. Hermes and Zeus began drifting towards the floor. Pyrite was about to say something about the holding fields being weakened by whatever had happened to the Overlord but swallowed it. Right now the only free people in the room were Lords Pyrite and Magnesite and both were watching the Calcites. Attracting their attention would be a mistake. This effect seemed limited to the energy field the Overlord was generating. The material artifacts he had created, like the cage around Margrave and the pillars holding the senshi seemed secure.

Almost free Azurite saw Hermes and Zeus showing signs of life. What was worrying was that Sailor V ... Venus was also breaking loose. So far the Dark Lords hadn't noticed them but she would undoubtably make a speech and attract their attention. Sure enough Minako tore free and struck a pose. Before she could say anything the more practically inclined Azurite fired a hurricane burst at them without advance warning. She had never been much on chivalry but did pick Magnesite as her target. This incarnation of Pyrite might be the more dangerous of the two but she couldn't shoot him in the back. Even the blunt and practical warrior types have to draw the line somewhere.

The vortex burst never reached Magnesite. It passed close enough to Pyrite to trigger the preset defence spells in his armour which deflected it. Alerted the two Dark Lords turned to face their opponents. One real senshi and three counterparts. Lord Pyrite would have happily killed Venus and his own counterpart but the others were a problem. Polaris could pass for his late cousin and Azurite ... he couldn't fight her. The thing to do was stall.

"You've just lost the element of surprise. Perhaps you have the power to beat us but those senshi are sitting ducks. Especially with the self destructs built into those pillars. I can trigger them before you break them so hands down Venus!" Minako hesitated then lowered her hands. On the floor behind her the sprawled Hermes tried to take aim at the youma lord. Only to have Zeus grab her wrist while whispering, "no!" With poor grace Hermes subsided. Seeing he had everyone's attention Lord Pyrite resumed.

"Now here's the situation. It seems your Calcite shut down his autonomic nervous system. Thanks to the psi link it echoed the effect in my cousin's body. Rather ingenious. He must be gambling Metallia will lose her grip on their bodies and they can cast her out. I'm assuming he can restart his body."

"I don't know. He's never done this before." Pyrite saw the stricken look on Titanite's face. "But I'm sure he can. He wouldn't have tried it otherwise."

"Unless he decided sacrificing himself was the only way to contain Metallia. My cousin might have done the same thing to protect the Circle. Which now consists of just the two of us." Azurite had never imagined Pyrite could look that grim. Maybe he couldn't, the alternates weren't them. Just youma with the same names and faces. Lord Pyrite managed a humorous smile, "Our battle is inconsequential. Everything will be decided by whichever of them wakes up. Both; neither; one of them. Not to mention what comes back with them. So until that happens we'll withdraw to the far side of the dias. Remember try and settle things prematurely and you can kiss the hostages goodbye!" Mars, Jupiter and Mercury didn't look too happy about these latest developments. Still locked in her trance Usagi seemed unaware of anything. No one had realized she was looking towards the late Princess's gemstone.

Unnoticed and forgotten Margrave squirmed away from the base of Rei's column. Probably the inbuilt senshi killer was a massive energy charge rather than a bomb. After all the Overlord wouldn't want to trash his own throne room (though recent events had done a pretty good job of that). So getting a little distance should let her survive if Lord Pyrite hit the button. She had been planning to call Ti back to break her free but if Ti took a step this way he'd think she was trying to free the Senshi and kill them. Which was exactly the sort of thing that could get held against you later. Right now, like everyone else, her attention was fixed on the Calcites. They would be deciding the outcome of everything. Except to her heightened senses both seemed to be spiralling towards death. It felt like something had seized her own heart.

The two dark lords stood on one side of the throne dias with an unobstructed view of the captured senshi. Ti, Venus, Azurite and Pyrite clustered opposite them. Everyone was watching the two sprawled figures surrounded by the auras. If it hadn't been for Pyrite's declaration that touching either aura would be lethal Azurite would have tried CPR. There had to be something they could do! Then the scream tore through the minds of everyone in the Citadel. Without questioning how they knew all who heard it would have said without doubt that Metallia was dead. Hermes smiled grimly. Soon as her strength was back she'd mop up.

Despite this neither Calcite stirred. Pyrite muttered, "Brain death in sixty, combustion anytime after that." Titanite heard him and stared at her brother. Why didn't he wake up? Next to her Venus was still muttering, "He wouldn't sacrifice himself, he's nowhere near noble enough! It's got to be a trick!" Venus didn't look sure of that but Ti had more on her mind than defending her brother's reputation. What if he couldn't revive himself! She couldn't just stand here and watch him die. She had to do something but what? Wait!

Ti spun and glanced wildly along the floor. There! Glistening among the debris. With a cry she dived and rolled to her feet holding the Ginzuishou.


"If it worked for her it'll work for me!" Ignoring Azurite's warning she gazed into the stone. Okay Ginzuishou, help my brother and I'll give you my life. That's the deal, right? I accept, now bring him back! As if in response to her thought the stone glowed and an aura of light surrounded her. The calls of the others faded along with the rest of the world.

Above the Abyss Calcite and the Overlord continued inexorably towards it. No good, he couldn't break free. Just like he'd always thought, do something heroic and it would be the death of you. No way out this time. He just wished he knew that Ti, 'Grave, Azure and Pyr would be all right. The last he'd seen they were all in trouble. The thought that with the Overlord dead humanity could maybe rebel successfully against the youma didn't cheer him up much. Still it was something of a legacy to leave behind. Though Hermes would undoubtably rewrite the story not wanting to acknowledge not all youma were evil. As for him he'd never know how things turned out after he was gone. Perhaps that was the real tragedy of dying. He'd just have to be optimistic. Though when staring into the Abyss while fighting a twisted version of yourself that was far from easy.

Their fall was accelerating when the light appeared above him. A figure attired in light alone accelerated down towards them. An angel? No, that couldn't be right. Not for him. It ... no, she was getting closer and they were decelerating. She was close enough to identify and both Calcites were astounded.



She didn't respond to either. Her glowing hands reached out and effortlessly broke the Overlord's grip. Seizing her brother's hand she flew upwards. Behind them the Overlord shook off his awe and cursed. He was nearly into the Abyss and barely holding off the pull. In the material world he could feel his body dying. It was over and the bastard responsible was getting away. There was no comfort in the thought that he had been the only one good enough to beat himself. Darkness! Well as he'd told Beryl there was no fairness in the universe. He couldn't even come up with any good last words. All that came to mind was, "Everything was going so well." He'd had it all now nothing remained except ...

A new thought struck him as he fought off the psychic gravity. He wasn't dead yet and Metallia had once been human! If she could do it then somehow ... A long shot but there was nothing else to lose. He glared into the Abyss. He had been many things in his time; Killer ; Conqueror ; Monster. One thing he had never been was a coward. He took a moment to speak his final testament to anyone who might be listening then stopped fighting the pull and drove himself into Abyss. A cry of defiance rippled through the Abyss then was smothered by the darkness. The rest was silence.

Above the Abyss the psychic message he had transmitted bounced through the psychic plane seeking receptive minds. The message was simple enough. "This has been the worst day of my entire life!" Not particularly profound last words but they would have to do.

Back in the real world Lord Pyrite gasped as his cousin's body went into deathflare and began to crumble. He alone remained ... beside him Magnesite cursed. He was as good as alone anyway. Yet the Abyss power wasn't gone. The other Calcite remained unchanged, his aura shielding him from the Overlord's combustion. In fact his aura was absorbing the Overlord's as the dark power flowed from the crumbling corpse to the him. Calcite's counterpart still wasn't breathing but he showed no signs of combusting. Something was suspending him between life and death and Pyrite was sure he knew what. He made a quick decision and triggered a special precast spell bound to his armour. He had never been discourteous enough to use it in his cousin's home before but he had always been prepared for blocking fields. After a moment's hesitation he grabbed Magnesite's arm. An instant later both vanished, reappearing by the stasis field serving as Lady Azurite's coffin. The three figures vanished just before Hermes blasted the spot. The remaining Pyrite felt the teleport blockers coming back on line but wasn't concerned. He had much graver worries.

"What's happening?"

"I ... I'm not sure. Cal's not combusting but he's not reviving ... I've never sensed anything like this. It's not stasis but I don't know what it is. Somehow Ti's using the Ginzuishou to suspend him between life and death." Ti's face had been a study in concentration. Now it was contorted with effort and she was clasping the stone with white knuckles. "She's stopped him dying but she can't revive him ..." Suddenly the implications of the aura hit him. "Sweet Jesus, Allah, Buddha, Gaia and Rodenberry!"

Azurite got worried. Pyr only gave his "covering all the bases" oath when things were terminally serious. "We're in deep shit, right?"

"That's an understatement!"

Elsewhere Titanite tried to pull her brother from the darkness that had coiled around him. They had ascended almost all the way back to the real world when they stopped dead. The black tendrils coiled around him like a tether then continued onward through the glowing portal that marked transition between this realm and the physical world. She didn't wonder how she knew this. Merely fought to pull him free. She was blind and deaf to everything except the task. Which was rather unfortunate.

Azurite felt her blood run cold as Pyrite explained. "The link to the Abyss ran through Metallia to the Overlord. Calcite tapped into that circuit when he mindmerged with the Overlord. When Metallia died the link became the Overlord's alone. It should have died with him and returned to the Abyss but Ti interrupted that. She kept Cal from dying so the power flowed to him through their link."

That hadn't sounded so bad. "Then Cal's got the power of the Abyss at his beck and call?" Margrave's ears pricked up and she began to purr. But stopped abruptly as the explanation unfolded.

"If he was awake yes but he's not even alive right now. The Abyssal energies are flowing through him as they flowed through the Overlord and they're preventing Ti from bringing him back. All she can do is maintain him until her strength fades. When it does ..."

"Calcite dies. Too bad." Hermes didn't sound overly sympathetic but Pyrite didn't notice that. He nodded.

"Too bad for all of us. When a youma dies his powers flare and consume him. But Calcite's got the Abyss as a power source. When he dies the deathflare will draw on the power of the Abyss. its energies will explode into the world!" Hermes turned pale.

"Uh ... what exactly does that mean?" Pyrite turned to Venus.

"Put simply, Armageddon." Everyone started shouting at once, Azurite took a deep breath and headed for Ti. There was only one solution, Ti had to reverse what she'd done and cast Calcite back. Hopefully that would break the link to this world. She drove the implications from her mind, she'd weep over her friend later. Locking in her own aura of white light Ti seemed unaware of anything. Azurite reached out to touch her and shake her awake. Her scream cut through the babble.

"Azure!" Pyrite was at her side as she clutched her hand and cursed. He seized the injured limb and probed it seeking damage. Thankfully there was none as Azurite managed to hiss, "Never felt anything like that before. Like burning and freezing at the same time!"

"No organic damage. Just immensely painful, some sort of neural shock."

"Should have put your forcefield up, Azzie!" Azurite turned to glare at Margrave.

"I did. It went through it like it wasn't even there!"

Zeus made her own grab through the aura and pulled back abruptly. Whitefaced she managed to gasp, "Seems it works on Senshi too!"

Hermes looked at Calcite and began, "If we can't wake her then we have too ..." She trailed off abruptly in confusion. What was she supposed to do? Even if the aura didn't defend him automatically destroying Calcite's body beyond hope of revival would trigger the very disaster they sought to prevent! The only real solution was to revive Calcite and she had no idea how to do that. She had dedicated herself to killing youma. It had never seemed important learning how to save one's life. Hysterical laughter bubbled within and her eyes started watering. The world was going to be destroyed and she couldn't decide if she wanted to laugh or cry.

Everyone gathered around Titanite bellowing at her in the hope she'd hear them. Mercury, Mars, Jupiter and Margrave added to the wake up call the demands for immediate release forgotten in the crisis. None of them noticed Usagi staring at Titanite or saw the thin tendrils of energy arc from her aura to Usagi's pillar. The pillar seemed to ripple and Usagi stepped free. Walking like a sleepwalker she passed her startled friends without acknowledging them. She stumbled over Margrave but got to her feet again and kept going with no sign of discomfort. Rei muttered, "She's still in that trance or she'd be wailing her head off!"

Zeus was understandably surprised when Usagi pushed by her. That threw her off for the moment it took Usagi to touch Titanite. She didn't scream and before anyone could pull her back the aura had surrounded her. Her clothing seemed to ripple as it began bleaching itself pure white. Her bearing seemed to change becoming more poised ... almost regal. Her pajamas morphed seamlessly into a dress seen only a few times before. Hermes and Zeus stared in shock as they remembered the day the rainbow crystals were reunited and their Usagi briefly became someone else. In fact she looked like ... Venus whispered, "Serenity" confirming the resemblance.

She seemed to wake up and rested her hands on the oblivious Titanite's shoulders. Affectionately she said, "I understand. Rest now and I will restore him." Titanite slumped against Serenity and her hands opened. The Ginzuishou remained hovering where she had held it. Serenity looked at Calcite and concentrated. The aura around him surged like an angry sea and Serenity seemed to buckle. She straightened up as though shouldering an unseen weight and light poured from the stone to the aura. Everyone felt something shift as the aura blinked out. Above the Citadel the darkness that filled the sky vanished as though an unseen wave was erasing it. For the first time in a year the stars could be seen over England. Calcite abruptly gasped for air and Pyrite made a quick rush to his side. Azurite started to follow then decided to keep an eye on Titanite.

Serenity looked around the room then addressed the stone. "I understand. You are not mine. Yet I need a little more of your power." After a moment she said "Thank you." The pillars that had held the Senshi dissolved, flowing back into the floor. Almost as an afterthought Margrave's own bindings disappeared. She didn't notice being transfixed with terror at the sight of the woman who had destroyed her homeworld. The Genocide was back! She didn't hear Serenity telling her not to be afraid.

The Senshi rushed to join the group clustered around Serenity as her own Ginzuishou rose from the rubble. It was still lifeless but she seemed unconcerned. She turned to Zeus and told her, "This stone is not mine so I must cease using it. Keep it safe until your Princess needs it again." Then addressing her Senshi she announced, "This form requires to much energy to maintain and I can only store so much. So I need a simpler form. Keep her from doing anything reckless as her resources are limited until you return home." With that Serenity seemed to fade as her clothing broke into multicolored ribbons and wrapped themselves around her.

Sailor Moon blinked at the assembled group in confusion. "Huh, what's going on. Weren't we fighting someone?" She lost her grip on Titanite and Ti would have hit the floor if Azurite hadn't caught her. Sailor Moon looked at her, "Polaris-chan? What's going on? Where are we anyway?"

Azurite ignored the many and varied babble of explanation as she checked Titanite. Thankfully she just seemed exhausted and from Pyrite's signal Cal was alive but out of action. She gently eased Ti down then whistled shrilly. As she'd expected it got her their attention.

"Don't relax so soon, ladies! The Overlord may be gone and the Dark Circle broken but we are still standing in a castle full of hostile youma!"

Zeus cracked her knuckles and Hermes smiled again.


Calcite struggled back to consciousness his thoughts a jumble. He seemed to remember dying but he was waking up. Maybe life was but a dream. His eyes opened and he tried to focus on his surrounding. It took him a few minutes to pull himself together. He was in a bed about the size of the average football field and the warm thing curled by his side was Margrave. As though she'd heard him identify her she suddenly unwound herself and smiled.

"Welcome back, I've been worried about you."

That was a real surprise. "You have?"

"Absolutely. Anything happens to you and Azurite's in charge. Believe me that's a grim prospect."

"Ah." Figured, he should have known better. Margrave gave him a look he'd have called sympathetic on anyone else.

"Don't look so surprised. I've never given you false hopes about our relationship. I have fun, you have fun. That's all there is to it. Try not to impose your crazy Renegade illusions on me."

"Sorry." She was right, she'd never implied there was anything more to it than that.

"I'll let it go this time, you're a bit messed up right now." Her grin widened. "As you're in no shape for any exertion I'd better spread the word you've recovered." With that she stretched as erotically as possible and headed for the door. A little later Azurite arrived.

"How are you feeling?"

"Like death warmed over."

She smiled faintly. "That's appropriate. What do you remember?"

"I'm not sure. Everything's kind of blurred. What happened?"

She shrugged. "You did something heroic and self sacrificing."

"No wonder I feel like crap. I must have been out of my mind."

Azurite nodded, "I figure it had to be temporary insanity. What else makes sense?" Both chuckled then she turned serious. "What do you remember?"

"Bits and pieces, as I said my memory's blurred. I remember I killing myself and dragged Metallia and the Overlord down with me. After that it gets kind of strange. I have a memory of Ti somehow pulling me back except she turned into someone else."

"That's ... more or less accurate. Cal, you should be dead but somehow Ti pulled you back with this world's Ginzuishou."

"That stupid ...! Is she ...?" The stone exacted a price for its powers. It had nearly killed Sailor Moon on several occasions. Had it cost him his sister?

"Easy! She's fine, just a little tired." Calcite settled back, shocked at how weak he felt. "She's pretty well recovered by now. You've been out of it since yesterday. After she was up and around again she was in here waiting for you to wake up until Margrave took over."

"Margrave volunteered for something?" That was a surprise.

"Don't make a big deal of it. She just wanted to get out of Hermes' way and figured this was a good place. Right now we're the only youma left in the place. Everyone else is dead or fled. Hermes emancipated the serfs but told them this floor is off limits. She didn't want anyone getting a look at you and panicking. If we venture off this floor we have to use glamour so the humans won't recognise us."

"That would complicate things."

"So does Mercury and Jupiter. She's practically confined them to this floor as well and the other Senshi are sticking around out of sympathy. Which saves her having to explain how Moon, Ares and Aphrodite returned from the dead."

"They're putting up with that?"

"More a case of humouring somebody very dangerous. Well that and this is really Hermes and Zeus's moment so they don't want to hog the spotlight. What they really want is to go home but we've been putting that off until you recovered."

"I'm a long way from recovered. Feels like I've got about as much strength as a wet dishcloth."

"You look it but we can carry you through the gate on a stretcher if need be. Another first for interdimensional travel."

"Heh." After a pause he commented, "So Ti's fine and I owe her my life."

"Yup, quite the reversal. Ti's almost back to normal ... matter of fact she's already causing trouble again. Oh and while that sorry carcass of yours isn't worth a lot try and show a little gratitude when she comes to see how you're doing."

"Yes mother. Anything else incredibly obvious I should know?"

Azurite looked offended but felt herself relaxing. She'd been afraid Cal would come back raving about the "Black Pit" experience common to youma who'd had near death experiences. Especially as Cal had gone a lot further than anyone else. As for what he had seen she would ask him when he wanted to talk about it. She also decided not to mention the fact that Ti had inadvertently almost destroyed the world in bringing him back. That could also wait until he was feeling better. Right now Ti didn't know that either and she wasn't sure if she should tell her. But there were a few things she could tell him.

"We don't know how but Ti managed to link with the Ginzuishou somehow in a way her counterpart never could ..." She stopped to chuckle, "... nor can Hermes. She's livid at the thought a youma can do something she can't. Seriously we think it's something to do with state of mind. Only the innocent can use its full power. Everyone else, best you can hope for is boosting what you've already got." After a pause she continued.

"I said Ti pulled you back but that's not entirely accurate. She kept you from dying but she couldn't revive you all the way. That took Sailor Moon in her Moon Princess mode. She shut off the flow of Abyss energies meaning we've got blue skies out there again!"

"Where are we anyway?"

"The Citadel. This is ... or was the Overlord's bedroom. As he doesn't need it anymore we figured you might as well use it to recover. You've been out of it close to a day."

"So I did kill him."

Azurite nodded again. "Yes, he's gone. And I killed Lady Azurite. Which puts us in a fairly unique category of people who've killed themselves but are still alive to talk about it." Calcite ignored her attempt at levity and sighed.

"So we beat the Dark Lord, destroyed his power and made the sun shine again?"


"Hasn't made as much difference as everyone expected has it?"

"Nope." After a moment she continued, "Most of the human race is still dead, those who are left are living in youma controlled areas giving them a hostage population. The youma still have all their weapons and are spread out worldwide ..." She sighed, "Now do you want the bad news?"

After a brief hesitation he nodded, "To make matters worse Pyrite's been doing some estimates on youma survivability. Without the Abyss to provide mana the background radiation level will drop back below survival point but that won't happen overnight. With the mana well here pumping out juice plus the one under Tokyo ... what used to be Tokyo releasing energy that'll slow down the decay. Gradually the worldwide fields will shrink back so only here, Tokyo and D point are youma friendly but that's going to take time."

"How long?"

"About ten years."


"It gets worse. Agriculture was shifted to Kingdom crops to make up for the environmental changes. Now it's suddenly shifted back to terrestrial it's all dying off. Pyrite thinks the Jundroot will be fine but the staple is Kristha. It's hardy stuff but it's just not used to ultraviolet. He figures it'll last about two weeks before it starts suffering irreversible damage but bottom line is there will be a second famine. Of course the youma can always retreat back to the Kingdom but the humans ...?"


"Pyrite's got an idea for darkhouses to preserve the crops until the humans can restart the traditional stuff but that'll take youma cooperation so who knows?"

"Any more good news?

After a pause Azurite said, "There is a bit of genuine good news. Most of the youma are locked in civil war so they're too busy to bother us. Two members of the Dark Circle are left. Lord Magnesite and ... Lord Pyrite." She might have said something else but instead she shook her head and resumed. "They got away during the confusion somehow. Magnesite began broadcasting his version of what had happened and declared himself Overlord as senior surviving member of the Circle. That kicked off worldwide insurrection in the Overlord and the Princess's domains with regional governors either declaring independence or their support of Magnesite or Pyrite. The situation's a bit different in my late counterpart's. Most everyone declared Lord Pyrite their leader and have been filling the airwaves trying to contact him. The situation in North America is unknown as they've been coding their transmissions and keeping a tight lid on everything but it looks like he's firmly in charge."

Calcite's mind finally kicked into gear. "Lord Pyrite's still at large. Abyss! He probably built this place's defences! We've got to ..."

"Calm down, Cal. I took care of it. While the Senshi were securing the Citadel I had Pyrite find the defence systems and rework them. So we're not going to have cruise missiles slipping by the air defences or whatever."

Calcite tried to make himself relax feeling more than a little foolish. "Sorry, should have known you'd think of that."

"Absolutely, I had a very good teacher!"

Something else occurred to him. "Do the Senshi know any of this?"

"Hermes and Zeus, yes. Ours think the job's done, they've saved the world again so it's time to head home. Hermes was going to tell them to try and guilt them into sticking around but Zeus talked her out of it. Said the Senshi have to protect their own world but fixing this one is their job."

"I see ..."

He seemed to be thinking over something. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"Nothing specific, just mulling a few things over. So the Senshi are eager to get going."

"Yeah, they're getting hungry. Especially Sailor Moon."

That didn't make any sense. "There's a food shortage already?"

"Are you kidding? This place has provisions for about ten years ... except there's a shortage of oranges. Getting back to the Senshi they're on sort of a hunger strike ... well more of a fast really. It's sort of Ti's fault." Calcite felt a little puzzled, Ti was a great cook. Except that her speciality ...

"She didn't serve them Kingdom food, did she?"

"Not exactly. It happened yesterday after Ti was back on her feet and things calmed down. Sailor Moon started complaining about being hungry. While she got into a razzing duel with Mars, Ti decided to make herself useful. There's a small kitchen on this level, probably for quick snacks so the Overlord didn't have to wait on the main one sending stuff up. Anyway Ti slipped in there and made some sandwiches."

Calcite thought he could see where this was going. "So she used graxat meat or something?"

"No, she knew that would be trouble. Fortunately there was a supply of preserved beef, ham and so forth besides our traditional meats. I guess in case the Overlord wanted some variety." She paused for a second and fought off a grin. "The problem was she couldn't find any butter or mayonnaise."

"So what did she use?"

"Wixxel grease."

Calcite frowned, "What's so bad about ..." Then he remembered human sensibilities, "Uh oh!"

Azurite nodded, "Right. She might have got away with it if Jupiter hadn't noticed the taste and asked her what it was. When she told her it was wixxel grease Jupiter wanted to know what that was. So she gave them an explanation ... mass nausea is pretty ugly. It got worse when Ti tried to show them there was nothing wrong with the sandwiches and finished hers."


"Yeah, even the indomitable Hermes went green."

"You smiled when you said that."

Azurite looked surprised, "Did I really smile when I said that?"

"Yes, you definitely smiled when you said that."

"Very probably. Look, I know that girl's been through one hell of a hard time but she's a real pain in the ass. Her habit of blaming us for our counterparts' sins doesn't exactly endear her to any of us."

"Ah." Calcite's good humour seemed to desert him. Looked like she'd reminded him of something. Maybe something he'd seen in the Overlord's mind. He hadn't said a thing about that so far and might be nowhere near ready to talk about it. Still she couldn't leave him sitting there radiating gloom, "Cal ...?"

"Azure, did you ever think of us as a tribe?"

She blinked. "What?" The question was about the last one she'd have predicted."

"Us, the Renegades. Did you ever think of us a tribe?"

"Well ... I never used that term but I guess you could make a case that we made up one. Why?"

"Tribalism's a type of behaviour. The important point is it's only those within the tribe who are important. Everyone else is either enemies or useful allies. But you can sacrifice those allies in the blink of an eye because they don't matter. Only the tribe matters."

"That's ... okay maybe we were like that but what was the alternative? We were a tribe bound together by our differences. Surrounded by people who would kill us if they knew what we were. Of course we stuck together. What was the alternative?"

"None. As you say we had no choice except dying. What else could we have done?"

Feeling like she was walking through a minefield Azurite ventured, "This has something to do with the Dark Circle?"

For a moment he didn't seem to have heard her. "Dumb as it is I keep thinking of the Trek episode Pyrite kept mentioning."

"'Mirror, Mirror'?"

"Yeah ... guess we've both seen it."

"We've both seen more Star Trek and cartoons then we ever wanted to!"

Calcite lightened up a bit and chuckled briefly, "Truth in that". Then he turned serious again. "I was thinking this world was like that. When you want an evil version of a character you just stick a black hat on them and make them act like a mean bastard. There's no explanation, it's just the exact same character but they're suddenly evil. There's never any explanation how they got that way, it's just a given. That's how I thought it was here."

He fell silent and Azurite digested that. That definitely had unpleasant implications. But she had always preferred facing an unpleasant truth to leaving things hanging. Which was why she steeled herself and prodded, "What are you trying to tell me?"

At first she thought he wouldn't answer. Then he sighed, "Ever since this thing started I've been thinking in those terms. The Dark Circle had our names, even our faces but they weren't us. We could never be like them. I was wrong." He stopped talking again but she didn't dare say anything. It wasn't necessary, he resumed on his own.

"When I mindlinked to the Overlord I saw his memories. He was me!" She made a noise of disbelief and he shook his head. "Not at the end but his childhood ... our memories matched. Everything he'd been through I remembered!" He shuddered at the memory. "I didn't want to believe it but I couldn't deny what I was seeing." Azurite hesitated then moved closer.

"Once I saw that I had to know why we were so different. I was thinking there must have been a terrible trauma that changed him so I started looking for it." He smiled sadly, "But you know what, there wasn't one. It was just a few little things that added up over time. Giving in to fear and anger which I did my own share of, he just did it a bit more. Made choices that I could have made. That in a sense I did make. That's the real horror of it. He was just a more extreme version of me. Protecting the group was all that mattered. I'm the same, it's just that he didn't draw any lines. Or if he did he crossed them. Know what he said to me just before he died?" She shook her head, the question was obviously rhetorical. But this might be the key to it all.

"He told me, 'I know you from the inside. We are different aspects of the same soul, closer than brothers. There is nothing I have done that is beyond you!' You know what? I think he was right. Am I really that fragile? Could I become a monster so easily?" Without waiting for an answer he continued, "I've told myself that I wouldn't have killed Sailor V but I was never tested. If it came down to kill her or risk exposing us as Renegades I can't say I wouldn't have sacrificed her."

"You also can't say you would have killed her. Look I remember you bending yourself out of shape worrying about a kill order. If you were willing to do it you wouldn't have got so worked up." She paused for breath then got going before he could say more than, "I ..."

"Cal, we all have our dark sides. We just don't give into them. You're just ... look I'd probably be in the same shape if I'd got a look in Lady Azurite's mind but ... " Great, she didn't know what to say that wouldn't sound trite. "Look you've always done your best ... maybe you could have been him but you weren't. You said it yourself, you're responsible for your own actions not the Overlord's. Beating your breast isn't going to undo anything he did or accomplish anything apart from making yourself feel miserable. You're not feeling sorry for the bastard are you?"

"No, he chose his own path. But I can't help feeling he dragged the others along with him."

"Was he controlling them."

"No, but he was their leader."

"Don't get too full of yourself mister. You're the leader but I chose to follow you. If you decided to walk into the mouth of hell I'd tell you, 'you must be bloody joking'. Lady Azurite got to chose her own path. She didn't have to follow him blindly if he didn't have power over her.

A memory flared through Calcite's mind; pleasure, sweat, flesh on flesh, Azurite moaning ...

"Cal? You okay, you look flushed."

He shook his head violently, "One of the Overlord's memories I picked up. Looks like they trigger at the right stimulus."

"You've got him in your head?"

"Bits and pieces. They should fade." At least I hope so, he thought, or things could get complicated. He couldn't help wondering if Lady Azurite had followed the Overlord thinking she loved him. He'd loved her in his way but couldn't afford the distraction. So she'd wound up with Pyrite in this world too. Could it have worked if he hadn't been so committed to his cause?

"Azure ..."


"Never mind, it's not important. You look like you've got something to say."

You're right, so listen up! Stop worrying about it. You're not the Overlord! I'm not Lady Azurite! Pyrite's definitely not Lord Pyrite and Ti's nothing like Princess Titanite!" A sick expression crossed his face.

"I wouldn't be so sure of that if I were you."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Princess Titanite was exactly like Ti."

"You could have fooled me ..."

"JUST LISTEN OKAY! Like I said she was just like Ti but she didn't fit in. They couldn't keep protecting her the way we did. They were too busy. She had to be able to take care of herself. They did something to her ... the memory was cloudy, I think he'd tried to repress it. It was the only thing left he felt ashamed about. Whatever they did it was effective. When they were done the old Titanite was gone, in her place they had Princess Titanite."

"Abyss ... that's ...! His own sister?"

"Amazing what you can rationalize as necessity."

"I think you just got rid of any regrets I had about not taking him alive!" After a pause she added, "Look, Ti's going by the black hat theory. She thinks that for some reason we all got born bad here. Especially her counterpart."

"It might be best if she keeps thinking that."

"I tend to agree." Darkness! What a mess.

After a few moments silence Calcite asked, "Think Lord Pyrite might be salvageable?"

Azurite hesitated before answering. "He might have been before we killed everyone he cared about. He hates us and he wants revenge. I don't know what he'll do but Hermes and Zeus are going to have their hands full."

"Yes ... yes they are aren't they?" He seemed to be mulling over something. Before Azurite could ask what she sensed someone approaching.

"Feel up to dealing with Venus?"

"Do I have a choice?"

The door opened, "Doesn't look like it."

"Good morning!" She looked cheerful enough and was holding a half eaten bowl of grapes. "How are you feeling?"

"As well as can be expected."

"Great, so we'll be able to home soon. The sooner the better far as I'm concerned. Frankly this place is depressing." She paused and eyed Azurite who folded her arms and made it clear she wasn't budging.

"Uhm look ... maybe I've sorta misjudged you. Your plan did get us next to the Overlord and it almost worked. Then when you switched yourself off to get rid of Metallia and the Overlord ... well that was ... kind of noble. So I guess what I'm saying is ... I'll forget about what happened in England if you do."

"It's a deal."

"Good, well that's settled then." She glanced at the grapes and decided there weren't enough left for a sick man. She'd better finish them herself. Their eyes met as she looked down at him trying to think of something else to say. Funny, he was rather handsome. Why hadn't she noticed before? She blanched and managed to yank that train of thought off the tracks. Whoa, Minako! The guy was your Arch Nemesis! Maybe you've forgiven and forgotten but you have to draw the line somewhere! She searched for something to say so she could leave. "Uhm ... I'd just like to say that I was wrong when I said you were a complete bastard. You're maybe 60% at most. Errr ... Bye!"

Venus left in a hurry and Azurite shook her head. "That girl has a definite future in diplomacy." Then she noticed Calcite gazing after her. "Uhhh ... Cal?"

He seemed to shake himself out of the trace. Maybe it was the near death experience talking but he suddenly said, "Brave girl. Not the complete airhead I always assumed." Looking wistful he added, "If she was five or six years older ..."

Azurite felt a certain dread, "Yes?"

"... I might do something incredibly stupid. But she isn't, she's the same age as Ti and I suspect I'm talking like this because I lost some braincells so let's forget it."

Azurite laughed, "Cal, I never thought I'd hear myself say this but stick with Margrave. It'll make life a lot easier." After a moment she said, "I'll go round up Ti, she'll want to see you. You going to be all right?"

"I think so ... mind finding Pyr and coming back. I've got a few things I'd like to discuss with you two."

"Will do." At the door she paused, he didn't look as bad as he had but he was definitely down. "Cal, one thing I'd like you to remember before you sink back into existential gloom. Maybe you could have been the Overlord, but he could just as easily have been you. Don't ever forget that."

The door closed behind her and she started off down the corridor. Then stopped at an alcove holding a statue of the Overlord. "Come on out."

After a moment Margrave emerged from cover. "Why are you hanging around here again?"

The Catwoman shrugged, "Too many crazy senshi wandering the halls to make me feel secure. Besides I don't feel like doing the cute act again. So I decided to stick around here ..."

"... And eavesdrop!"

She again shrugged, completely unapologetic. "Knowledge is power. What else do I have going for me? Apart from being unbearably sexy and Calcite eating out of my hand."

Azurite didn't react to this but Margrave wasn't bothered. She was actually in a very good mood. Amazingly they'd made it through this fiasco without casualties or serious injuries. Her migraine was gone and Ti had prepared a few Dark Kingdom delicacies she'd never expected to taste again. If only Calcite had retained those powers so he could have replaced the Overlord things would have been perfect. Ah well, looks like you couldn't have everything.

For her part Azurite was wondering if Margrave could have any other reason for hanging around near Calcite. Could she actually be worried about ... What was she thinking? Margrave didn't give a damn for anyone but herself. But, for a change, she had some use for her.

"Listen up cat, right now Cal's very down. I don't think he should be alone right now. He needs someone to hold him, comfort him and make him feel loved."

"So why are you looking at me? I don't love him and he's in no kind of shape for any fun and games."

"I know that. But Cal's never got over the illusion that you give a damn about him and you're all we've got. So you'll have to do. You owe me one for keeping Uranus and Neptune from dusting your furry butt. But I don't expect gratitude from you so here's a good youma reason. If you don't go cheer him up I will hurt you. Then you can keep him company as a fellow invalid."

Margrave looked thoughtful. "Well if you insist on putting it like that ..."

"I do."

"Okay, but only under duress. I don't want a story that I've got a heart of gold or any crap like that circulating."

"Believe me when I say I will never say anything good about you."

"I'll buy that." Margrave started towards the bedroom then stopped. "I'm still a little surprised by all this. Normally you're happier if I stay away from him."

Azurite shrugged. "Like you said he could do worse. You'll do until something better comes along."

Margrave grinned, "Darling, there's no one better. Lend me Pyrite and he'll tell you himself." A breeze rolled through the corridor.

"Get in there!" Margrave sauntered in and Azurite glared after her. Aggravating little ... Still as she'd said Cal could do a lot worse. For a moment she contemplated a truly crazy thought then walked off chuckling. A youma and a senshi? No chance! Life just wasn't that crazy.

It was hours later when everyone met in a small conference room near the throne room. Calcite was still weak but strong enough to handle this. Azurite looked over Hermes and Zeus. They definitely weren't going to like hearing this.

Hermes opened with, "Now that your leader is well enough to travel how soon are you going to get the hell off our world?" The Senshi looked surprised but none of the youma (except Ti) had expected gratitude.

Calcite met her glare without flinching. "We'll be restoring the Senshi to their world as soon as this meeting is over. However we're sticking around."

There was a chorus of "WHAT!"'s with Hermes' being the loudest. Once order was restored Calcite continued. "In our adopted world we are the last of our kind in more ways that one. Not only the last youma but the last Renegades. We have no idea how many of our spiritual brothers and sisters perished when the Kingdom was destroyed ..." He hesitated but Sailor Moon didn't seem to pick up the inference. "Here there's still a large youma population at large. There could be other Renegades among them. We've talked it over among ourselves and we intend to try and find them."

Hermes had recovered and coldly hissed, "What makes you think I'll let you hang around doing this little quest of yours?"

Calcite wasn't impressed. "It's quite simple really. You're a realist. You don't like us but you know you're shorthanded. You can't afford to turn down the power and help we represent. Plus your whole world is a mess. You need our interdimensional technology to establish trade links with the other Earth until things are back on their feet."

Hermes ground her teeth in frustration so Zeus took over. "In case it's escaped your attention you look like the most hated people on the planet! You can't help people if they run at the sight of you ..." She trailed off as Calcite became a gray eyed man. Titanite and Azurite hit their transmuters and assumed their senshi identities. Then, for a change, they overlaid their Titania Hobbes and Azure DeWitt glamours. Azurite said, "I realize just switching hair and eye colour isn't sufficient but I can add a few more facial changes to the glamour. When I'm done Sailor Arcturus won't look a thing like Lady Azurite." Titanite nodded and pulled off her mask.

"We won't need these as we won't have secret identities anymore. Pyr, you'll have to come up with something." He nodded, Margrave had already shifted to her Catharine Margrave glamour.

"Excuse me Calcite-san ..." This time it was Mercury not Hermes, "... you spoke of interdimensional trade?"

"Yes, this world is in dire need. Primarily of food and medical supplies but it could also use military ordinance, surveillance technology and a variety of other things." Hermes nodded thoughtfully, this actually made some sense. "Your earth can't be expected to pour in all that without getting anything back. But after the drop in population this planet's got more raw materials than it needs and no end of living space. Gradually the youma will have to retreat back to the Kingdom freeing it all."

"But ... but that means revealing the existence of other dimensions ... of confirming our own existence!"

"Yes ... is that a problem?" Mercury hesitated. Was it supposed to happen or would it cause their future to be altered. Could this abort the creation of Crystal Tokyo somehow? Yet could she really oppose it when this Earth needed so much help?

"No, I can see no reason to oppose it."

Sailor Moon looked up from her bowl of pretzels, "Well if Mercury says it's okay then it's a great idea These are good ..." Then she frowned and looked at Calcite. "Say, when you say you're all staying does that include Polaris-chan?"

Calcite sighed and shook his head. "After lengthy discussions we've decided Ti will be less likely to do anything stupid if she stays with us. I think she'd be happier in your Tokyo but ..."

"Forget it big brother! I'm one of the group and I'm sticking with you!" No way they were dumping her while they had all the adventure! Besides there weren't many Senshi left on this Earth so Sailor Polaris could become a major star. But most importantly they were family. She couldn't bear hanging around Tokyo not knowing how they were doing.

Silently Cal, Azure, Pyr and Margrave resolved to keep her off the front lines at all costs. Out loud Calcite said, "So here's the plan. We'll transport the senshi to Tokyo and open the gate and they go home. Then we close the gate and head back here. When we've done some preliminary planning of what's most vital to acquire and how to set things up on their world we will reopen the gate and cross over ourselves. We'll set the wheels in motion and wrap up the loose ends of our human identities. After that ... well things will get interesting." That would turn out to be an understatement.

Hermes was glaring at him but not protesting the plan. As he'd expected she was too pragmatic to turn them down. Suddenly she gave a thin smile and asked, "Did you tell me your real reasons for staying or are you trying to atone for what you did to our world."

Calcite felt a rising anger but squashed it. He met her gaze and coldly told her, "I have no guilt to expunge as I didn't do this to your world. I am not the Overlord. Don't ever forget that!" Which was true, what happened here wasn't his responsibility. He had nothing to feel guilty for. Nothing at all. But then why get angry at the question? He sighed. The youma heart was as mysterious as the human version. Did anyone ever know what truly motivated them?

The goodbyes in Tokyo weren't too intense. After all they'd be seeing each other again within a week. Mercury was still pondering the implications of what they were doing but Hermes wasn't showing much emotion anyway. By contrast Jupiter was a bit embarrassed by Zeus' earnest apology for doubting her story about events at the North Pole. With a final round of waves the senshi stepped though the gateway and into their world. Mercury was the last in line and had just exited when her computer began screaming warnings.

She'd entered the gate with her vizor in place eager to learn what she could by scanning. Now a "DANGER! ENERGY FLUX" warning was flashing. She managed to shout, "GET DOWN!" Then dived knocking Usagi to the ground. Everyone else was already hugging the snow when the night turned to day. It was a few seconds before their eyes returned to normal. As soon as the spots vanished Ami began scanning where the gate had been. Her computer reported nothing anomalous, there was no gate nor any trace there had even been one.

"What just happened?" Ami answered Minako without turning around

"I don't know but the gate is gone. I don't think they closed it, at least not voluntarily. Something slammed it shut ... maybe some sort of natural phenomena ... maybe somebody did it for them."

Rei joined the group not wanting to listen to Usagi complaining about the stains on her fuku. "Could they have done it deliberately. Sealed themselves off from our world?"

"I don't think so. Their arguments for opening a permanent passage between the worlds seemed genuine."

"Then could this be a ... well a sign that it's not time for it to become public knowledge that magic, other dimensions and senshi exist?"

Ami frowned. "I suppose that's possible. We've certainly had stranger things happen to us. But if it was a sign who was it a sign from?"

Rei looked blank.

At length following some discussion the senshi dispersed to their homes. They had come up with the story of what had happened on their ski trip while sitting around the Citadel after the fighting was over. Rei was sure Usagi would get it wrong but it would look even more suspicious if she read from a script so Rei would just have to hope for the best.

Just before the group broke up Usagi made a prophecy, "Don't worry. Whatever happened I'm sure they'll repair their gate thingy and we'll meet again." She would turn out to be right but it would take a lot longer than she ever expected.

Pluto watched them leave and shook her head. Patching up history was a tricky business. Reality was a lot more fragile than people thought as her own recent run in with the Elder Gods clearly demonstrated. As she had feared those interdimensional disturbances had neutralized the warp storm that Metallia's passing should have generated. History recorded the Renegades becoming trapped in the other world for years but evidence had shown a possible paradox about these events. So she had prepared herself. As she had rather suspected her intervention had been necessary. Perhaps she had been overly dramatic in her choice of when to trigger the scramblers but it had seemed like a good idea at the time. Subjectively speaking anyway. Now according to the device's builder it would be six months before the nexus point in the other world cleared. By which time it would be inaccessible to the DKR for other reasons. Unfortunate but necessary. They couldn't return too early and when they did ... No matter that was years away. An instant later, with a thought, so was she.

In another world similar events unfolded at the gate. At length unable to explain what happened Pyrite installed recording sensors and the seven uneasy allies returned to the Citadel. Sometime later Pyrite was still pondering what had happened. The energy flare had been unsupected but he had detected it just in time to warn the others to shield themselves. By contrast Hermes had been far from amused when her eyebrows were singed off though only Zeus had dared giggle. The only thing that looked clear was that it would be several months at least before they could reopen the gate. As Calcite said that pretty well wrapped up their human identities for them. In his case banks get edgy when vice presidents vanished without a trace so Calvin Hobbes was history. Ti was moping over not getting to say goodbye to her friends and Azurite was muttering over her career coming to an abrupt end. His musing was interupted by Calcite's approach.

"Any luck?"

"Not really. I think it might have been a warpstorm. Which were purely theoretical concepts until the flare. Assuming that's what it was."

"No chance the Senshi did it deliberately?"

"Highly unlikely. They knew zero about interdimensional mechanics before recent events and even Mercury couldn't learn that quickly."

"However it happened the bottom line is we're stuck here for the forseeable future. So no offworld aid in any form."

"I'm afraid so ... though I may have some good news regarding our situation."


"Yes." Now how to say this, "Have you noticed things got very different on this world over the last year to the way things run on the other?"

"How do you mean?"

"Well the tendency to happy endings and the lack of civilian casualties."

Calcite frowned, "Well yes but that's just the nature of our world ... I should say that world. Here ..."

"Things were exactly the same. At least until Metallia started radiating Abyss energies through the Overlord."

"I'm not sure where this is going."

"Neither am I but here's the theory. Metallia's presence distorts the universe. Her release in the days of Silver Millennium made the other planets in the system uninhabitable. Her presence on Earth did something similar. For the past year this world has been playing by Dark Kingdom rules which meant things got grim and nasty. Just like our homeland. Now? Now the Abyss has no link to this world so we're back to the old way of doing things. Hopefully that means things will lighten up a bit. Plus the goodguys always win and we're on the side of the angels this time around."

Calcite thought about this then shrugged. "I hope you're right. We are vastly outnumbered and can use any break we get." He paused then added, "But I'm not about to ask Hermes to ease up."

Pyrite nodded, "That makes two of us. But it should make for interesting times."

Calcite smiled, "Isn't that a curse?" and Pyrite spread his hands

"Time will tell."

He was right.

Dark Kingdom Renegades 9: Thy Kingdom Come

A Sailor Moon Story
by Mark Latus

Part 11 of 12

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