Continuing Tales

Dark Kingdom Renegades 9: Thy Kingdom Come

A Sailor Moon Story
by Mark Latus

Part 4 of 12

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Thy Kingdom Come

The Overlord's Citadel, England, The Dark World - 12 hours before the anniversary party

Calcite awoke in a good mood. This wasn't really unusual, when you're the undisputed master of the world you've got a lot to feel good about. He stretched more from habit than any need. The power he contained would maintain him in top condition forever. Never aging, beyond the touch of all disease ... yes immortality agreed with him. Far superior to his long gone healing factor. He'd shared this blessing with the rest of the Dark Circle. He wouldn't want to lose his sister, his cousin, or Azurite. As for Magnesite ... well every rule had it's exception.

Because he was a thoughtful man he avoided waking either of the bed's other occupants. He eased the batwoman's wing off his chest and slid forward. Standing up he stepped over the human girl. A servant silently glided up and helped him into a green robe. Despite being king of the youma he saw no reason all his clothing had to be black. He ignored the servant and watched the slumbering woman. She'd claimed to be 19 but looked a lot younger now. Humans tended to get very tense (and very obedient) in the presence of youma. The only time he saw them really relax was in sleep. The girl mumbled something but didn't wake up. Just lay there, blonde hair sprayed out over the pillow.

He'd picked this actress as a lover for symbolic reasons. Because of her resemblance to someone now dead. Someone he'd hoped to kill himself. Her appearance wasn't coincidental. She was in the Citadel to play the part of Sailor Aphrodite in another tribute gushing stage production that was being mounted in his honour. He shook his head ruefully. He'd once mentioned how much he'd enjoyed the live theatre he'd seen during a few of his trips to London. So now his subjects kept putting on these shows glorifying him.

Well it was pleasant being praised and some of the shows had been rather amusing. He found light musicals preferable to heavy pseudo Shakespearian dramas depicting his triumph. Pyrite seemed to think this new show would be an artistic triumph and was being cagey about the details. Having had some experience of what his cousin considered art Calcite had some doubts. But he meant well and as long as it was entertaining who cared if there was any deeper meaning? Pyrite had hoped to be ready for the anniversary but there were some problems with his director. He had evidently wiped out half the human cast in a fit of pique. Artists! Well that had meant restarting almost from square one. Luckily there was no shortage of (literally) starving actors willing to chance appearing in the production. Not that they'd really had a choice.

Yzani (ah yes, that was the batwoman's name) stirred but remained asleep. Probably worn out. That was something of a drawback to his stamina, he tended to exhaust his partners. Not that there was any shortage of either volunteers (youma) or draftees (human). Oddly there was a surprising number of human women eager for his attention. Some just sought material benefit but the others ... probably the types who fantasized about serial killers which he'd also never been able to understand. A confusing breed humans, youma psychology was a lot simpler to understand. At any rate despite an abundance of candidates he'd decided to just use those two during the last rest cycle. Just an impulse but he hadn't bothered to analyse it. Something to do with the date probably. The choice of the human girl was fairly obvious. Now why the batwoman?

He studied the slumbering youma for a moment. Her lips had parted revealing her fangs and a thin line of drool ran down her chin. She groaned slightly and her wings twitched. Of course! How obvious. She'd reminded him of his first lover, Latitax of the DD Girls. Sacrificed on the iceplains of D point to delay the Senshi while Beryl set her trap and the Dark Circle worked secretly to revive Metallia. Latitax who'd gone in to battle with his assurance that the Dark Circle would bail her out if there was trouble. Latitax who'd thought she'd had him wrapped around her little finger so he'd do anything for her. Including making her leader among her sisters. Dear, sweet, stupid, Latitax.

For a moment the Overlord remembered the feel of her body and her wings wrapped around him. Perhaps he'd loved her a little. Then he shrugged. Can't make an omelet without breaking eggs. Which reminded him, it was time for breakfast.

He snapped his fingers as he strode across the bedchamber. Servants hurried to open the doors to the lounge. Within the buffet table was packed in preparation for whenever their Lord and Master awoke. As soon as the hot food showed signs of cooling or the chilled of warming it was discarded and replaced. Meaning a constant parade of serving carts from the elevators to the kitchens. It was for this reason that the palace staff ate better than any of their brothers and sisters in the nearby human enclave. The name for the human settlement was intended to drive home a message. This wasn't their world anymore, they were the aliens here.

Calcite didn't begrudge his staff the calories. The only thing he objected to was obesity. The staff were all female, beautiful by human standards and slender rather than thin. So long as they stayed attractive he had no objections to what they did with the discards from his table. Slovenliness and heftiness would get them dumped back in their enclave to scratch out a living. They were easily replaced. There was no shortage of those clamouring for the good life within the Citadel. Or any of the palaces of the Overlord and the Dark Circle. Calcite found this desperate grasping rather amusing. He'd formed certain views on the brotherhood of man and this just reinforced them. At any rate this policy meant the servants' gym and sauna was always heavily used. Staying in shape prolonged your life. Or at least made it more bearable. As for the enclaves themselves? Those humans who'd chosen death before dishonour had gotten their wish. Rebellion had been almost crushed out of humanity in the face of utter defeat.

Calcite nodded to the attending servants. Their short black maid costumes (which he'd decreed the servant uniform on a whim) rustled as they removed swiftly covers and bowed themselves out of the way. He briefly studied the exposed Terran and Dark Kingdom delicacies. After a moment's thought he selected grapefruit, croissants with thornyfruit jam, graxxat bacon, scrambled ktar eggs and a glass of orange juice.

As quickly and carefully as possible two of the servants set the table while a third preceded him to his chair. As soon as he was seated all three stood by with hands clasped and awaited further orders. Calcite ignored them and began to eat. Excellent as always. He sipped his orange juice and nodded his approval. He'd developed a definite taste for citrus fruits. Good thing he'd taken the entire Californian crop via teleport prior to triggering the San Andres fault. That had been a gift to his cousin. Why give him territory where a major earthquake would inevitably happen someday? Best to release the pressure and get it over with. Pyrite had found the tidal effects from the state sliding into the ocean fascinating and had set up an oceanographic research facility. Giving a few human specialists a secure future for which they were thankful. None of the youma bothered asking the surviving Californians for their opinions. Getting back to oranges the current climate was not kind to terrestrial fruits but he'd had greenhouses set up. Harvests were coming due so there was no danger of a shortage. It was a good life. As long as you were the right species.

He was halfway through breakfast when the twinge hit him. At his frown the servants rushed forward eager to placate him. He waved them away. The two longserving servants recognised the symptoms and bowed as they backed away dragging the startled neophyte with them. They'd explain it to her after the master had departed. The black aura that surrounded the Overlord seemed to deepen. Yes they'd explain it to her later. Assuming they were still alive.

This wasn't a serious attack. Just Metallia rattling the cage within his mind. Calcite nodded to himself, best to throw it a few scraps. His left hand made a gesture in midair. Unnecessary but he liked a bit of showmanship. A window opened in midair revealing a purple skinned creature with a badger's snout but the rough hide of an alligator. It wore a grey uniform resembling Jadeite's but with a black circle emblazoned on the right breast pocket. Varis, Chamberlain to his excellency the Overlord, snapped to attention and awaited his orders.

Varis had been one of the few members of Beryl's household staff to sense the change in the air and bow to Calcite. Most of the others had thought that Beryl lived and was simply playing a game with Calcite before arising to destroy him. A bad decision as the Dark Circle had decided a show of excessive and needless brutality was necessary to drive home the point that things had changed. For his wisdom Varis had been rewarded with this post. It was a comfortable life and a position of no little power and prestige. It was however very different to serving Beryl. Queen Beryl had always cultivated a regal presence. None except her body servants saw her appear clothed in anything but her regal dress and icy dignity. She would never have appeared before her chamberlain in a green robe that was flopping open at the chest while halfway through a grapefruit. If anyone had pointed this out to him Calcite would surely have replied that appearance was nowhere as important as power. And he had no shortage of that.

"Varis I'll be paying a visit to my guests after I've finished breakfast. Make sure they're ready to receive me." Varis bowed and acknowledged his master's order. The window disappeared and he grinned. While the flippant tone might sound wrong the Overlord's plans for the morning were in keeping with the very best youma traditions. He connected to the high security dungeon and gave orders for a cleanup and warning of an imminent royal visit. The guard captain nodded and his team got to work. Privately he considered the Overlord a little too fastidious about hygiene. Though he had to admit prisoners left to rot in their own filth were a bit hard on the nose. He ignored that and oversaw the routine. First sedate then clean exposed surfaces checking for signs of awareness. Ensure that only one limb at a time was freed for cleansing and stripping. Keep a watch on the power dampeners and never forget what you were dealing with. Letting them escape would be the last thing he'd ever do. If that ever happened he'd have to pray they killed him before the Overlord found him. As always his caution was rewarded and the two were prepared without incident. They were dressed and locked back into position. Everything under control. At his order the human janitors were allowed in. Several guards watched them but the majority watched the unconscious twosome.

Youma took care of the prisoners because of the risk factor but humans could be trusted to clean the floors and walls. Silently, ignoring the captives, the servants mopped and scrubbed the floor tiles clean of mess. The floor drains were opened and unplugged. When the cleaners were done the dungeon had an incongruous lemon scent. It didn't fit with the two chained figures, the pain inflicting engines and the trays of tools ready and waiting. The captain neutralized the sleep spell and the guards herded the humans out. He was closing the door as they began to stir.

Back in the lounge Calcite caught a reflection in his juice glass of the servants behind him. The newest servant looked confused, the woman to her left had no expression on her face. The red headed servant on the right was another matter. Her face was twisted in horror. He dismissed the matter and went back to eating. He didn't much care what they thought of him as long as they obeyed. Look on the bright side girl, it could be you.

Breakfast was followed by a leisurely shower. He ignored the women who were washing him and focused his attention within his mind. All the psi containment wards were firm. Still he'd feel a lot more secure when he had an alternate power source. He waved away the servant who suggested a hot soak. He was going to get himself messy anyway. His shield would block blood spray but he was going to provide Metallia an emotional conduit. Meaning working up a sweat from excitement at the very least.

The bathgirls towelled him dry and Calcite reflected that he was getting out of the habit of doing anything himself. Well not strictly speaking true. He did nothing menial himself these days. But his activities this morning would be strictly hands on.

His dresser glided up and suggested a white suit. The brilliance of it as it remained unmarked by blood would be an additional psychological blow to the prisoners. He thought about it then mentioned the sweat staining problem. The dresser bowed and apologised for her oversight then suggested a utilitarian dark slacks and shirt. He agreed and let her do her job. Fancier clothing could wait for the party and he was not one for excessive formality.

There was discrete knock at the door answered by a servant. Varis stood there awaiting permission to enter. Once allowed entry he respectfully proffered the current reports. Nothing priority one, a brief glance at the priority two summary showed nothing requiring immediate personal intervention. He'd made sure those chosen to supervise the enclaves and lands within his domain were good administrators rather than the most powerful of the youma. None of his subjects complained about his utilitarianism anymore. They'd learned he didn't care if his vassals were of the old elite, personally powerful or adept at flattery. To him the most important thing was not appearance, it was getting the job done. As this philosophy had enabled him to win the Kingdom for himself it was catching on. For what was more important than victory?

Calcite handed the reports to his secretary with a few comments on follow-ups he wanted done on a couple. He'd study them all in more detail later. He instructed Varis to inform the other members of the Circle he would talk to them in six hours. Nothing of import, just their normal discussion of any business. An unintended sideffect of shrouding the world in perpetual darkness was the elimination of time zones. For the first time ever the world ran on one clock. It made life simpler. Now it was time to get to work. Everything has it's price and this was one of his for the power he enjoyed. He opened a window to the captain in charge of high security and announced he would be there momentarily. With that he studied his reflection in the mirror once more, ran a finger over his scarred check unconsciously, then teleported.

After the guards had paid their respects they unlocked the door and he walked in alone. He could bypassed the teleport blockers and appeared in the dungeon before them with ease. But he found it more foreboding to appear at the top of the stairs having given them time to hear him coming. He looked down from the head of the stairs to the two figures below shackled to x shaped frames on opposing walls. Both wore copies of their Senshi uniforms. He'd turned the original costumes (which he damaged extensively during his initial torment of the Senshi) over to Pyrite for studied. Since then he'd had many intact copies of the uniforms made. It seemed only fair that they wore their robes of office. He had them supplied with a fresh one before each visit. But unlike the originals the fabric of these could be penetrated easily. In between his visits they normally wore the bloodstained rags he left them. Well, blood and whatever else they picked up. It wouldn't be a proper dungeon if the inmates didn't get to fester in a foul smelling pit. One must maintain a certain sense of tradition after all. He smiled at the thought. Within his mind something stirred and began to drool in anticipation.

"Good morning ladies. It's a beautiful day today. The sun is shining, the birds are singing and the flowers are blooming." As he said this matching images surrounded him. With a wave of his hand he banished the illusion. "Actually I'm lying. The sky is black as always, the cold is finishing off the songbirds and the flowers never sprouted due to the lack of sunlight. Other than that it's a perfect day."

Sailor Heaven lifted her head and glared at him with the eye he'd left her. That had been a mistake, he'd got a little too excited on one of his visits. She didn't curse him as she had in the early days. Nowadays she saved her energy, hoping to endure as long as possible. There was still defiance in her eyes ... eye.

By contrast Sailor Poseidon still hung with her head down and made a small whimpering noise. Not a complete surprise. The guards had reported lately most of Heaven's attempts at conversation were one sided. The whimper was a good sign. It meant she was near breaking instead of escaping into catatonia. Time to layer on the dread a little. Give it time to grow instead of just rushing right in. He began to saunter down the stairs, taking his time and humming a bit of retrofitted Gilbert and Sullivan.

"And it is, it is a glorious thing to be the youma king ..."

He reached the bottom and smiled at Sailor Heaven. "It's been a while since my last visit. Miss me?" He considered mentioned he'd recently killed the third Outer Senshi who'd been intent on breaking in and freeing them. But he dismissed the matter. To tell the truth that was a little troubling as they'd still had no luck tracing the reincarnate. Could she have displaced her soul through time?

He shook off the speculation. It was of no consequence. If she returned he'd just kill her again. And again and again should her soul still prove untraceable. There was no point in mentioning it. He would not be doing anything to crush her spirit. Heaven had no knowledge that she should be a member of a trio. He knew this just as he knew her birth name was Haruka Ten'ou, when she'd received her transformation wand and how she'd escaped the destruction of Tokyo. His mind control abilities had been boosted to undreamed of heights by his merger with Metallia. It had been simple to shatter her psi defences and make her tell all her secrets. At the time he'd hoped that she would say something that would destroy her partner, Sailor Poseidon (or Michiru Kaiou) emotionally. Sadly she'd just reaffirmed her partner's faith. As Poseidon had done for Heaven when he torn into her mind. But this dark cloud had a silver lining. The destruction of that love and trust would be most enjoyable to Metallia. Almost as enjoyable as their pain.

Calcite considered torture an inefficient way to extract information. Mind control was surer and didn't run the risk of being supervised by a sadist more interested in causing pain than extracting information. He took no pleasure in pain. He had publicly tortured them after their capture as a symbol of his power, to break help break humanity's spirit as they witnessed the grisly fate of their champions and to placate the entity he contained. He had already gained all their information that was of any worth before he began his broadcast. He had done it as efficiently as he'd done everything else that was disagreeable. You just do whatever is necessary. The only important thing was protecting your people. By any means necessary. The code he'd always lived by and still did. For who would seek Renegades among those who had conquered the world and murdered billions? Who would dare challenge the man who stole the power of their god? Who would call the youma who tortured Senshi a heretic? He had simply done what he had to. He took no pleasure in it. None at all.

Calcite snorted, he was lying to himself again. That had been true once. He'd done whatever was necessary to survive and protect the few people he cared about. Pure necessity, nothing more. But along the way things had changed. Killing his enemies had shifted from necessary, to simple and at last to fun. When he'd channelled Metallia's power and slaughtered the populace of Tokyo it had been all he could do not to laugh out loud. The sense of power had been intoxicating. As for the humans who'd suffered and died before him? Who cared?

Humanity was no better than the normal youma. They'd both have cheerfully slaughtered him and the other Renegades as freaks. Once he'd realized that everything had become so simple. It wasn't just the four of them against the Kingdom as he'd always believed. It was the four of them against everyone. After that realization it had been simple to make big plans. As always Pyrite and Azurite had followed him. Titanite ... He still felt a qualm at the memory. What they'd done to her hadn't been easy. Especially for him but it hadn't been pleasant for any of them. But it had been necessary. They had much to do and couldn't keep shielding her from the Kingdom. She had to learn to fit in. At length they'd succeeded and she could pass for a normal youma girl. Indeed she was now probably more capable of atrocity than any of them. The most extreme member of the Dark Circle. She revelled in her power more than Magnesite. She hadn't become a true youma. She still loved her brother fiercely. Her affection for Pyrite and Azurite was also true and firm. And they loved her back. Yet they couldn't help thinking they'd lost something irreplaceable. Changing her had been the most difficult thing he'd ever done. But it had been necessary. There was only one way to ensure the Renegades were safe. They had to be on top of the heap.

Now the youma ruled humanity and he ruled the youma. What no one outside the inner circle knew, or would know until it was irreversible, was the last laugh would not belong to the youma. It would belong to the Renegades. It wouldn't be soon, a project so monumental would take time. But thanks to Metallia's power they had all the time in the world. Though every now and again he had to throw Metallia a few scraps of atrocity to keep it satiated. So he'd kept the Senshi alive for that purpose. Every time he came here it got easier. And, like killing, he was learning to enjoy it.

Which was why he beamed and glanced from one Senshi to the other before asking cheerfully, "Well, who wants to go first?"

"Me!" Haruka's voice shook but she managed to hold eye contact. "Leave Michiru alone. Try and break my will Calcite." Calcite shook his head. Still trying to protect her lover. It was frustrating and undermined his theories on human behaviour. He was tempted to work off his annoyance on her but maintained his calm.

"No swearing? You used to turn the air blue when I arrived. Aren't you going to comment on my parentage? My relatives? My sexual habits or inability thereof? The parts of me you'll tear off and do hideous things with? Well?"

She shook her head slightly, conserving her endurance for what would follow. She would not give him the satisfaction of being amused by her helpless rage. Yes, she was scared. Yes, she felt a numbing terror as he idly stirred the contents of one of the instrument trays. Yes, she would scream as he inflicted pain she once could not even imagine. But if she could keep him focused on her and angered by her defiance he might ignore Michiru this time. That was all she had to keep going. "There's nothing I could say that expresses how vile you really are. You are a monster."

He didn't snarl and strike her. Or smile and pick up a probe. Instead he looked thoughtful for a moment before nodding. "I suppose I am. It wasn't easy for me." He gestured around at the torture equipment. "This sort of thing is second nature for most youma. Me? I had to learn it. But I had good teachers. Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, Chivington, Torquemada ... humanity was a great inspiration to me. You've done things to each other that a youma couldn't have imagined. Slaughtered one another in numbers we wouldn't have dreamed of. At least, not until I came along." He chuckled and reached out to brush her cheek. Haruka flinched away from his aura then cursed herself for her weakness. "Rebuttal?"

He thought she was going to say something but instead she began to cough. Thick chesty coughs. She bent over as far as she could sprayed and her new immaculate white fuku with red flecks. Though he gave no sign the Overlord frowned mentally. On closer examination her hair looked sparser that he remembered. She'd definitely lost some very recently. Probably during the shampoo and rinse she received during cleanup. There were new skin lesions on her throat. Definite warning signs. Pyrite had warned him the tests posed risks as there was still a lot of guesswork involved in exposure levels senshi could tolerate.

Which was why he'd only had one of them exposed. No sense losing both of his playthings. She could have received a fatal dose. DAMN! It wasn't her possibly dying that annoyed him. It was that she might die without his breaking her will. Perhaps he should have had Poseidon used for the radiation tests. She seemed nearer the breaking point anyway. But that was why he'd chosen Haruka. He'd hoped the tests, carried out in silence and without explanation would have preyed on Haruka's mind. Driven her closer to the edge. And perhaps roused Poseidon into a terrified helpless rage. That hadn't happened. Michiru had simply retreated further inside herself. That's the problem with these cold ones. They seem unbreakable but when they did crack they fall a long way. So neither goal had been achieved. Ah well, you can't win them all.

"No more." The voice was quiet and from behind him. Michiru's head still hung forward, the thick blue tinged tresses cascading to her waist. His interest piqued Calcite turned to watch her. Still some life left in her after all. As he turned away Haruka finished coughing and spat out the last of the blood. It bounced off Calcite's aura and spattered to the floor. He ignored it and she made a croaking noise as she tried to call him back. Part of her screamed to let Michiru sacrifice herself if it would save her. She ignored it and tried to work up a curse..

Calcite ignored the Senshi behind him. "Offering yourself to be today's victim?"

"No." The voice was low and shame filled but they both heard it. It took Calcite a moment to understand. Then he smiled. He stepped closer and reached down to her chin. Gently he tilted her head up so he could see her face. Tears ran down her cheeks and she wouldn't meet his eyes. In a muffled voice she whispered, "You said ... you said if we begged you ... begged for ourselves alone you'd stop hurting us. I ... I'm begging you ... no more ... please ... whatever you want I'll do ... just not again." She sobbed but didn't call back her words. He'd broken one of the vaunted Senshi. Calcite felt a sense of growing satisfaction. Was it his or Metallia's? Perhaps it belonged to both. Now to hurt Haruka with this.

"The torment only ends for you. I'll still be hurting her." He gestured behind him. Michiru wouldn't look at Haruka but she whispered. "I'm sorry Haruka ... I can't take this anymore." This should be doing wonders to Haruka. Metallia chuckled in his mind. It was not a pleasant sound. A thought occurred to Calcite. The perfect final touch. He held his empty left hand where Michiru could see and closed it around a nonexistent hilt. For the first time in weeks (perhaps months) he called forth his own inate powers. Psychoplasm manifested and shaped itself to the pattern he cast. He was now holding one of those razor edged commando knives. An efficient killing tool. Perfect for what he had in mind.

"Michiru, look at me." She tried to turn away but he held her chin firmly. Her eyes twitched back to look at him involuntarily. "See this knife?" She tried to nod. "Your lover is behind me listening to every word of this." She whimpered a little and tried to pull free. This was the crucial moment. "If I told you I would free you if you took this knife and cut her throat would you do it?"

There was a moment of silence. Then a weak whisper of "Yes." It seemed to hang in the dungeon's air. Calcite looked deep within her eyes ... and saw nothing but truth. Her released his grip and let the crying woman slump back. Roaring with laughter he turned back to Haruka.

"She'll kill you to gain her own freedom. So much for love undying!"

Haruka still had her tearducts so both her eye and her socket were wet. But her voice was firm as she said, "If I'd known that was what it would take I'd have told her to cut my throat months ago."

Metallia snarled and Calcite frowned. He said mildly, "You're not playing the game. You're supposed to curse her for having abandoned you to save her own skin."

"I won't play your sick game. You've tortured her for months and she's finally gone over the edge. One of us had to crack first. I wish it had been me. But anyone will break if you cause them enough pain. There's no victory in here! This proves nothing!"

Metallia squalled but Calcite seemed unperturbed. "You have plenty of spirit left but you said it yourself. Anyone will crack if you hurt them enough. As you'll find out." He gestured at Michiru with his knife hand. "That's your future. One day soon you'll beg me to do anything to anyone rather that hurt you again." Now for the final twist. He turned back to Michiru.

"I promised I wouldn't hurt you again. And I keep my word." His eyes glowed and to Michiru, Calcite, the dungeon and the castle beyond melted away. Haruka remained, fully restored, standing in the middle of a beautiful green pasture on a perfect summer's day. Haruka smiled at her and Michiru knew she was forgiven. They ran towards each other ...

Calcite watched Sailor Poseidon's face become vacant as the implanted fantasy took hold. Endorphins flooded her brain and her face became a study in joy. She was no longer connected to the real world. She didn't hear Haruka yell, "What have you done to her, you bastard!" or his response.

"I promised her I wouldn't hurt her again. Now she feels no pain ..." He drew the knife back and adjusted his intended swing. "... and very soon I'll never be able to hurt her again." Haruka's scream didn't disturb the smoothness of the blade's arc.

Blood sprayed forth and bounced off his aura. It would take long. Michiru's expression of happiness didn't change. Behind him Haruka screamed in horror and rage and power burned through her. He kept watching Michiru as he clinically wondered if Haruka's fury could focus enough energy to burn out the power dampners. She was achieving a higher power level than she'd ever registered before. Perhaps ... just perhaps he'd have to subdue her. Then the power wavered as physical weakness took its' toll. She tried to ignore it and focus on the rage but the sickness was unrelenting. She doubled over choking and fought not to vomit. Again her coughing brought up blood. Before him the flow of Poseidon's blood had slowed from a geyser to a stream. Michiru's expression changed to one of puzzlement as she felt a tremendous weariness. She must be tired, so much had happened so quickly. She closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep in Haruka's arms.

Calcite saw Sailor Poseidon slump back. The bloodflow slowed to a trickle and she stopped breathing. The bleeding became a drip as her heart ceased beating for lack of anything to pump. Her lifeglow flickered and disappeared. He logged the time and wondered momentarily where he'd find her. Then he turned back to Haruka.

The remaining Senshi had stopped gasping for breath. The power dampners had funnelled away the energy she'd built. Without the trigger of seeing her lover die before her he doubted she could achieve that level again. She'd gone berserk for a moment, bypassed the blocking fields and started channelling power from ... where? The Senshi drew power from outside sources but just what were those sources? It could be blocked or drained away but the original source remained unknown, its' location unidentified. Pity, if it could be found it could perhaps be stolen. Or perhaps not. Pyrite theorized that the Senshi perhaps drew on the mana of the planets that shared their names. An interesting if inconclusive theory as they have been should be unbelievably powerful with a planet's energy at their disposal. Of course there might be extreme limits on how much power they could draw without burning themselves out. Or perhaps a lot of power was lost if it was drawn across interplanetary distances. Most of it might bleed into the void and be lost before the senshi got it. Assuming the power was drawn through normal space rather than a subspace link. So many possibilities. But he shouldn't be standing here musing, he was ignoring his guest. Besides if the source of the Senshi's power was extraterrestrial it was inaccessible. At least for now. But it would soon be inaccessible for all without Senshi to wield it. Five down. Three to go.

"Well Haruka? You were trying to attract my attention?" Her face was a study in pure hatred. She looked a lot like Beryl when she talked of Silver Millennium. Metallia giggled at the sight. Sailor Heaven met his gaze. She didn't curse him. She was far past anything that minor. Her voice was cold and controlled. But very sincere.

"I swear but whatever is holy in this universe that before I die I will kill you."

He nodded. "I don't doubt your sincerity. But while the spirit may be willing your flesh is a little on the weak side."

"Whatever you've done to me I won't die until I've avenged Michiru. Then I will join her in whatever comes next."

Calcite smiled. What perfect timing. "I can tell you what comes next. Reincarnation and rebirth. Unfortunately for you Pyrite's developed this system we call 'Karmic tracking'." His hand reached into overspace and emerged full of photographs. He fanned the pictures like a deck of cards before the enraged senshi.

Confusion cut through her anger momentarily. "Babies?"

"Not just any babies." He selected one particular picture. "This one is the reincarnation of my old friend Sailor Aphrodite. We got a trace on her soul when she died at D point and tracked her after the takeover. We acquired her mother in California and took her back to the Kingdom. We gained the hosts for Endymion and the other Senshi the same way. We were careful with them, didn't want to accidentally cause miscarriages and have to look again. After we emerged to claim the world and the Citadel was built I brought them along. Their every need was attended and three months ago they gave birth to four healthy brats."

Haruka's voice was dull. "And then you killed them again."

Calcite looked annoyed. "Don't be ridiculous. That would have meant finding them again. No, there was a simpler solution." He held up a picture of a newborn baby being placed within a clear cylinder. "Stasis."

"Stasis?" What the hell was he talking about? This could be important so she tried to follow it.

"The word is a misnomer. Rather like invulnerable having come to mean 'very difficult to damage' rather than 'impossible to ...' It is not true stasis as time does pass within the stasis field. But very slowly. My sister was born my twin but she spent her first eight years within a stasis cylinder. I think she gained a day. Physical laws are a little different on Earth so the spell isn't quite that efficient. But with IV feedings they won't starve or dehydrate and it'll be centuries before they reach their teens. And then? Well they'll be no threat being adults with the minds of newborns but I'll probably kill them just to be sure they don't manifest senshi powers. Then I'll track down the new reincarnates and start the cycle again."

Why was he telling her this? NO! "MICHIRU!"

Calcite smiled. "I wonder what she'll look like next time around? Well we'll bring her mother in and in nine months I'll have my answer."

"YOU ..." She couldn't think of any curse that was sufficient.

"Death will not deliver you. There is no escape and no justice. Just me."

"You're not God. You still haven't got Sailor Hermes or Sailor Zeus!"

"Who you dismissed as kids getting in the way?" Haruka felt her cheeks burn with shame. They'd done more damage to the youma than the Outer Senshi combined. Calcite didn't notice, he looked almost wistful. For a moment he sounded respectful. "They are impressive. Children at the start but they've survived and learned fast. Worthy if hopelessly outpowered adversaries. And useful tools on occasion. Still, they have my respect for their valiant, if doomed, efforts. That is why I'll have them killed instead of brought in to join you."

"Since when do youma respect their enemies?"

"Most don't. But I am an exceptional youma."

"All you are is a bigger monster than all the others. Nothing more than that."

"Perhaps you're right". Calcite sounded agreeable. "Well if I am a monster I should act monstrously." He looked to the knife he still carried. Far too crude. With a thought it dissolved. He considered using psychoplasm but decided not to bother. There was no shortage of tools available, why not use them? How to start? Ah that would do. He picked up an ivory hilt. From it protruded a blade long as a pen but thin as a sewing needle. Light winked on the point.

"I am Overlord of the Youma, unchallenged ruler of the world and master of the human race." He advanced towards the spreadeagled senshi. The needle gleaming as the light caught it. Behind her defiance he saw the hidden terror.

"And yet it's the simple pleasures that remain the most satisfying."


Tokyo, Japan, Earth - Immediately after Sailor Hermes concluded her story.

Calcite paused a moment before speaking. "Let's summarise this. You claim that on your world not only am I a sadist and mass murderer but I have stolen the power of Metallia, seized control of the Dark Kingdom, conquered the world, wiped out most of the human race and become the next best thing to a god. You have no way back and want us to open a gateway between this world and yours. Somehow this strikes you as a rational idea."

Sailor Hermes just glared at him so it was Sailor Zeus who answered. "Well, basically yes. We have to go back!"


"Why?" The absurdity of the question was beyond belief. "Because ..." Makoto suddenly felt her train of thought derail. "Because ..." The answer to the question suddenly seemed a lot more elusive. They had to go back because ... well who else was left to fight the youma. "Yeah right, like you and Ami can stop them", part of her mind jeered. "Only thing you can accomplish is dying messily." Out loud she said, "Because ..." again but then her mouth seized up and an inner voice asked why she was so eager to throw away the second chance this world offered. She'd been so fixated on following Ami that the possibility hadn't really occurred to her. But now it had it was becoming hard to think of anything else. Was Ami thinking the same thing? She must look like an idiot continually saying "because" then sitting there with her mouth hanging open.

"Because it's the right thing to do."

All eyes turned to where Sailor Moon was sitting, surrounded by a lot of empty plates. "We're the Sailor Senshi. Fighting evil's our job. On behalf of the moon we have to go to there world and fix everything."

Sailor Hermes managed not to laugh at this naivete. Fix everything? Even if all the youma were destroyed tomorrow it would be decades, perhaps centuries, before the damage they'd done was repaired. If it could be. Could the biosphere be returned to its' pre-conquest state? More and more Kingdom species were filling the empty niches in the ecology. "It is the necessary thing to do. Right and wrong are somewhat nebulous concepts for me these days." Unbidden she added, "I don't fight for right or justice anymore. I'm not sure I believe in either anymore. I fight to kill youma and restore the human race to dominance of our own world." Sailor Moon looked both confused and a bit shocked by this declaration. Sailor Hermes cursed herself and vowed to hold the cynicism down before their counterparts. More courteously she said. "The hope of gaining your assistance is why we came here. With your help we can beat them."

Sailor Moon brightened up again. "That's right. So if Calcite-sama will give us one of those dimension travelling thingies Ti-chan mentioned we'll go fix things." Zeus noted that the other Senshi didn't seem to share her confidence. Nor did she. The others weren't thinking it would be that simple. But she was sure they had no real idea of just how bad it would be. This was seeming like an increasingly bad idea. My god, they'd be lambs to the slaughter!

All eyes turned to Calcite. Who calmly answered Usagi's request with a question of his own. "Let me ask you this Sailor Moon; are you prepared to risk the Dark Kingdom invading your world."


"It's simple really. We call the passages between worlds 'gateways' for a reason. They allow passage to another world but the reverse is also true."

Usagi thought about this for a moment. "I don't get it."

A slightly pained look crossed Calcite's face. Before he could simplify Sailor Mercury said, "A gateway is two ways. If we can use it to get to the Overlord's world he can use it to get to ours." There was a collective exclamation of surprise from the other Senshi.

"That's right. If you go there and lose you endanger this world. And before you say you won't lose remember that according to their story the youma of that world have a lot of power and experience in fighting Senshi. They also know Sailor Moon and all the Senshi except those two are dead or prisoners. So they'll wonder where these lookalikes came from. They'll start looking. And if they find the dimensional key you used to cross over or the warpgate then everyone in this world is in a lot of trouble."

Sailor Moon wasn't looking as confident as she had a few moments earlier. Hermes took the initiative. "What did you mean by, 'according to their story', youma?"

Calcite turned to face her. "It means we have only your word that any of this happened." Titanite was about to interject when Azurite placed a warning hand on her shoulder and Margrave shook her head. Titanite stopped before she said anything and sank back into the couch. "I have difficulty imagining any version of myself being that evil ..."

Sailor Venus snorted. "I don't!"

Calcite ignored the interruption. "... But in an infinite multiverse anything is possible. By that logic somewhere there's a world where the Senshi are the bad guys. Still even if this world exists as you've described it it's no responsibilty of either ours ..." He indicated the DKR, " ... or theirs!" He nodded towards the Senshi.

Sailor Moon frowned. "But fighting evil's our job."

"Really. There's no shortage of evil outside Tokyo. Why aren't you out fighting that?"

"Uh ... well that's the wrong kind of evil. See we just take care of the supernatural stuff. The police take care of the regular kinda evil."

"Then your responsibility is protecting this world. If you get yourself killed by this Overlord who's going to protect the people here?"

Sailor Moon looked very uncertain and the other Senshi looked equally confused. Sailor Zeus exploded. Maybe she wasn't sure this was right but she wasn't going to let Calcite wreck everything.


Calcite's calm didn't waver. "I do not accept that. I am responsible for my own actions alone. I have no responsibility for the crimes of Overlord Calcite with whom I share nothing more than a name and a face. Any more than Sailor Jupiter is responsible for anything you may have done." Jupiter nodded involuntarily. That was a good argument.

Zeus took hold of her temper. Don't alienate the other Senshi! In a quieter voice she asked him, "Why are you trying to ruin this for us?"

"My friends and I went to a lot of trouble to get out of the Dark Kingdom forever. We don't want it back." He paused a moment then dropped his bombshell. "In any event this is all academic. We can't open a gateway anymore. I destroyed the warpkey."

Both Zeus and Hermes looked stunned. So it was up to Titanite to shout, "WHAT!"

"I destroyed the warpkey. As Margrave can verify." Titanite stared at Margrave to see the catwoman looking a bit ill at ease. After a moment's hesitation she nodded.

"But ... but I wasn't through with it."

"That's one reason I destroyed it. After your little escapade a few months back (the Senshi all looked at Titanite who blushed) I considered the value of keeping it. Migrating to another dimension no longer seemed a good idea. If we left this world we'd adapt to another and become god knows what. Add to that the dangers that exploration would bring us into contact with something dangerous that could follow us back and the risk was too great. So a few weeks ago I removed the key from the safe, dismantled it then shredded the components. I caught Margrave spying on me during this but she didn't see enough to be able to rebuild it." Margrave looked a bit sheepish. She'd been sure Calcite hadn't seen her until he teleported behind her and tapped her on the shoulder. Embarrassing. She was getting careless with all this soft living.

Calcite finished. "So we no longer have the means to travel dimensions. And we will not build another."

Hermes snarled, "I can make you build another."

Calcite's gaze turned as cold as hers. "I will say this once. I have no quarrel with you nor reason to wish you ill. But threaten me or those I care about and that will change."

The glaring contest was interrupted by Sailor Moon. "Hey come on Ami ... Ami-Hermes, not Ami-Mercury ... we're the goodguys. We don't do that sort of thing." Hermes held the glare for a few moments more as she thought. Not good. Unbelievable as it seemed threatening the youma might turn the Senshi against them! Her counterpart had a shocked expression, unable to believe what she'd heard. Damn! What now?

"Very well." Hermes tried to organize her thoughts. "Makoto, we're leaving. We need to make plans ..." She nodded towards the youma, "... and I don't care for the company in here."

Calcite decided to try defusing the situation. The collars dissolved before anyone could ask. Sure he had their attention he asked, "Have you considered trying to settle into this world? I'm sure there's space for another two Senshi."

Jupiter brightened up. "Yeah, that's right. If you can't get back home then you can join the team." Something else occurred to her. "You don't actually have anywhere to go do you?"

Her counterpart shrugged. "Not in this world. Or our own come to that."

"Yeah well ... See I have my own place ..."

"I know."

Jupiter flushed a little. "Right. Of course you'd know that. Well there's plenty of room for you two until you've figured things out."

"I ... we appreciate the offer ..." Zeus glanced over at Hermes. "But we need to talk over a few things privately. So if we could drop by later?"

"Sure. Anytime's fine. I guess this a lot to take in all at once."

Her counterpart gave a weak grin. "That is an understatement."

"I imagine you don't have any funds?" Both Makotos turned to Calcite in surprise.

"Uh no. Nobody uses money anymore ..."

"I thought not." No sense sending them off any more embittered than they have to be. "I can provide you with money temporarily ..."

"The emergency funds right? I'll get them." Calcite turned to his sister in surprise.

"You know where they are?"

"Margrave told me."

He sighed. "Of course she did." Quietly he added. "Just one roll for now and don't touch the box keys." Titanite nodded and vanished. As she did Calcite opened the hallway closet. "You mentioned not being able to change back?" Zeus nodded. "Well as those outfits are a little conspicuous for wandering around in ..." He turned back holding two trenchcoats. "These should help a bit." Zeus took one with a bemused expression. Hermes studied him for a moment then silently took the other and pulled it on. It almost scraped the ground but that would be less noticeable than a miniskirt in the dead of winter.

Ami obviously wasn't going to say it so Makoto said, "Umm, thanks ... from both of us." If anyone had ever told her she'd be grateful to Calcite for anything ... She shook her head in disbelief. Titanite reappeared and handed her a roll of yen.

"Here you go. That'll hold you for a while. And I'm sure we can work something out for you guys." Her eyes flicked downward momentarily and Makoto saw a piece of notepaper tucked in with the banknotes. She casually stuffed the wad in one of the coat's deep side pockets. "Thank you." She pulled the coat on and noted the bottom just cleared the top of her boots.

Hermes nodded towards the door. "Let's go."

"Yeah. Uh well, bye for now. We'll see you sometime." Makoto looked from the Senshi to the youma. "Um well thanks for the hospitality, the clothes and the money despite us trying to kill you ..." Hermes flung the door open and looked at her. "Uh well ... bye." With that she followed Hermes out into the night closing the door behind her.

Everything was quiet for a moment. Until Rei asked, "So now what?"

The ever practical Mercury shrugged. "I suggest we go home. It's getting late and there is little we can do about the situation. Makoto, if you could call us when your house guests arrive?"

"Uh yeah sure. Man, living with myself. That's going to be weird."

Usagi surveyed the ravaged buffet but couldn't see anything left worth scavenging. "Well we should be going. Ti-chan, thank you for the food." Her friends echoed her. Then something occurred to Usagi. "But how do we get out of here?"

Pyrite volunteered, "We can ferry you back to that park."

"No way! Forget it!" Usagi didn't know what had happened to her earlier but she didn't want it repeated. "I don't want my brains scrambled again."

"Why not? It could be an improvement."

"What! Take that back Rei!"

"Just telling it like it is."

"Grrr!" There followed the inevitable razzing contest during which Ami used her computer to examine bus routes. "To avoid attracting attention it might be best to change back and head to the bus stop over here." She tapped the map displaying on her terminal. Nearby Azurite got a little concerned over the attention Pyrite was paying her. Then she realized her computer was the object of his desire. He muttered, "If I could just examine it for even five minutes ... Ow!" Something rapped him on the head.

He turned to see Azurite. "I wouldn't mind your drooling over the occasional other woman. But playing second fiddle to a computer is a bit much." He considered an explanation but decided a kiss would work better. As they embraced Margrave made a retching noise.

Usagi looked at the catwoman. "Is she all right?"

Calcite nodded. "Just a hairball caught in her throat." Margrave started to glare but remembered she was supposed to be cute. So she meowed. Then gritted her teeth and purred when Usagi came over and scratched her behind the ears.

"Usagi, toss me the disguise pen." She obeyed automatically then asked Minako. "Why do you want that."

"Let's just say all of us untransforming in a nest of youma might be a mistake. So I'm staying Sailor Venus but I don't want to look like me on the bus as that means I'll be signing autographs the whole trip. Therefore ... Disguise pen, change me into Minako Aino." With that she suddenly wearing the same outfit she'd been wearing before changing.

Usagi scratched her head. "Seems paranoid to me." With that she shifted back to normal. Titanite tapped her bracelet and her Sailor Polaris costume morphed back to her own clothes. "Nice meeting you again Ti-chan."

"Likewise. Maybe we can do this again someday." She caught her brother's expression. "But not till we've got things sorted out with the new girls."

The other Senshi untransformed with the exception of the apparently normal Minako. She gave Calcite a hopefully threatening look and stalked out. Almost immediately blowing her exit by stepping on a patch of ice. She picked herself up and glared at Calcite, daring him to laugh. He didn't, merely asked, "Are you all right?", which was even more aggravating. She was still glowering as the others said their goodbyes and joined her. The five girls headed off following Ami's directions. Calcite watched them go then shook his head. What a day.

As soon as she was sure they were out of earshot Margrave stretched, headed for the liquor cabinet and poured herself a large drink. "Darkness, all that being cute is really hard on the nerves." She looked around at the room. The food was gone and the atmosphere was definitely strained. "I guess the party is over."

Calcite nodded. "I would say so." With that he fell silent again.

Azurite tried to lighten the mood. "Well, we still only have their word that it happened right?" The others nodded. "And even if it did well that's just ... everything has to happen somewhere right? Just like you said."

Pyrite added, "Well I don't know that there's an infinite number of universes ... but that scar of the Overlord's makes me think that things must be very different."

Calcite tried to lighten the mood. "That's right. Especially if you're one of the bad guys. No offense cousin, but you're hardly dark lord material." They all laughed at that.

"Lord Pyrite!" Azurite had to chuckle at the image. She could maybe imagine a version of herself or Calcite who'd begun to enjoy the things the Dark Kingdom made necessary. But Pyrite? "And don't forget Princess Titanite." Everyone laughed at that and Titanite smirked. Princess Titanite indeed. That part couldn't be right. Could it?

"Umm ... these guys couldn't just have the same names and faces but otherwise be totally different?" The laughter stopped. After a moment Calcite said, "Frankly Ti, that's the only explanation that makes any sense."

"Oh." She looked at Pyrite. "So if we went there we'd become them?"

"Perhaps. It depends on if it's a parallel or an alternate world." Pyrite suddenly wondered if he'd said too much.

"What's the difference?"

"Well ..." Should he answer? "It's a matter of terminology. Parallel worlds have their own laws and rules which may be radically different to ours. Enter one of these and you become assimilated into their world. You've seen that happen." Ti nodded. "Okay, alternate worlds ... these are theoretical to date. They're are worlds identical to this one except a decision somewhere has been made differently from ours. Maybe a major decision, maybe a minor. But it's different. In short it's a world ours could have been if things just went a little different."

"So ... if they came from a parallel world it couldn't have happened like that here but if it's an alternate world it could have."

Yes, he'd definitely said too much. "That's right. But I'm sure they're from a parallel world."

"Yeah I guess so." Titanite looked thoughtful for a moment then looked at the dishes and cutlery scattered around the room. "What a mess. Margrave, could you give me a hand?"

"Couldn't you ask Azurite?" Ti shook her head.

"She's a guest now." Margrave gave a longsuffering sigh (which roused absolutely no sympathy from Azurite) and began to pick things up while grumbling. Calcite, Azurite and Pyrite continued trying to laugh off the story the two senshi had told. But the laughter had a definite hollow sound.

Titanite and Margrave headed for the kitchen. Calcite heard Ti saying, "I'll wash, you dry" and Margrave's muttered but far from enthusiastic agreement. He was feeling down. They'd looked so damned sincere ... just a lookalike youma with the same name. There's no other connection between me and this Overlord. There can't be!

Azurite guessed his thoughts. "Just a coincidence. And like you said it's nothing to do with us."

"Right. Not our world, not our responsibility." To Pyrite they both looked like they were trying to convince themselves. They needed a good distraction. Fortunately he could provide that. A quick rummage through the wintercoat he'd arrived in produced the crystal he was looking for. He rejoined the others and activated it.

Azurite looked puzzled and Calcite asked, "A force shield?"

He nodded. "A pretty weak one at that. But it'll keep sound from carrying so we don't have to worry about Margrave or Ti overhearing."

"What's wrong?"

"It's not exactly a matter of anything being wrong." Now how to explain this. "You know I've being taking tissue samples from us all trying to figure out a way we can survive outside of Tokyo." Both nodded though he'd been working on that for two years now. "Well I've been studying the samples cell structure trying to find an answer when I noticed something extraordinary." He wasn't sure how to continue.

Calcite noticed his hesitancy. "After all that build up and your precautions you've really got my attention. So let's hear it. We aren't getting any younger."

Pyrite almost laughed, Cal had no idea how ironic that was. "You're right we aren't getting any younger. But we aren't getting any older either."

Both of them tried to work it out and failed. "What?"

"That's an exaggeration but ... well simply put as a result of our regeneration factor our cells are constantly renewing themselves and our aging has slowed to a crawl. We're in a sort of biological equilibrium. It's not a true equilibrium as we are aging but the rate that's happening is almost too small to measure."

Azurite just stared at him. Calcite, his mind whirling, asked, "Are you trying to tell me we could have a lifespan measured in centuries."

"No ..." Calcite didn't know if he should feel relieved or cheated. Then Pyrite dropped his bombshell "... I'm saying we could have a lifespan measured in millennia."

They both stared at him. He could understand how they felt. When the implications had first presented themselves he'd been sure he must have made a mistake. He redone the tests twenty times, using new samples each time until he'd accepted the truth. After that he'd wondered about when to tell the others. But one thing he known was that he had plenty of time.

Calcite tried to order his thoughts. "But we aged normally for years!"

"I know. Far as I can tell we hit the equilibrium point in our early twenties. 21, 22 somewhere in there."

Azurite shook her head. "This is too much ... as a model I spend a lot of time looking in mirrors. I haven't noticed any changes since I started almost two years ago but I just thought I was aging well."

"You are."

"You know what I mean."

"Yes. Well you don't have to worry about wrinkles for a very long time ... ouch!" Pyrite winced when she poked him. Azure didn't like being accused of vanity.

Calcite tried to think through the implications. "Ti?"

"Aging normally. She's a good five of six years away from equilibrium point. But I have no doubts she'll achieve it. It seems to be natural for Renegades."

"Margrave?" Pyrite had been dreading that question.

"It's ... it's a consequence of being a renegade. We all have the healing factor. Margrave isn't ... so ..."

"How long?"

"I'd guess a normal youma lifespan so ... another forty years maximum."

"I see. Best to keep this from her for now. She's already got a large temptation to face. This could push her to head back to the kingdom." Azurite nodded, the same thought had occurred to her. She was glad to see Calcite was staying sharp despite everything.

Calcite fell silent. Azurite was also quiet as she tried to deal with this. A lifespan longer than recorded human history! The full implications were beyond her. Just grasping the edges was difficult enough. She was going to outlive Margrave by centuries. Shouldn't that make her happier?

Pyrite tried to fill the silence. "That's why I put the shield up. I don't know how either of them would react when they found out. But it's a good bet Margrave won't be happy. Still it'll be years before it's obvious so I'd suggest we keep this to ourselves."

The others nodded and Pyrite deactivated the shield. It had worked as he intended and Margrave hadn't heard a thing. What hadn't occurred to him was that they wouldn't overhear anything Margrave and Ti said.

Holding a dishtowel and drying a plate without enthusiasm Margrave looked at Titanite. The younger girl was up to her elbows in soapy water and scrubbing away at a fondue pot. But her thoughts were obviously elsewhere.

"So what do you want to talk to me about Ti?" Titanite looked up in alarm. Margrave jerked a thumb towards the kitchen door. "It's closed. And we still have all the soundproofing from when Azurite was living here." Calcite and Pyrite had both agreed that the soundproofing made life more bearable.

Somewhat hesitantly Ti said, "I need a favour."


"Tonight I need you to make sure Cal's ... uh, occupied. Just that he doesn't try to check up on me ..." She stopped as Margrave laughed

"Little one that doesn't need a favour. There is no way Calcite is going to leave me alone tonight."

That didn't sound like a boast. "What exactly do you mean?"

Margrave grinned. "Your brother has a nasty, suspicious mind. It's one of his more endearing qualities and the reason he did so well in the Dark Kingdom. Having heard the senshi's story it'll have occurred to him I'll be seeking a way to take advantage of it. We both know that while he doesn't have a warpkey anymore Pyrite wouldn't junk his own. So he's wondering if I'm going to try and steal it then cross over to the dark world. Once there I'd trade the warpkey to Overlord Calcite for a position of power. It's a perfectly natural plan for a youma. And in the unlikely event he hasn't thought of it Azurite will be sure to remind him what I'm like." Margrave chuckled again. "So it doesn't need a favour. Calcite will not let me out of his sight tonight even if he has to chain me to the bed." She looked thoughtful for a moment then smiled, "Now that I think of it ..."

Titanite didn't really want to hear the rest. "You wouldn't be telling me this if that's what you were going to do. So why not if it's what a normal youma would do?"

Margrave sighed. "Because it sounds like this other Calcite uses Dark Kingdom rules. Which means his word is worthless. Rulers don't have to keep their word to lowly youma like me and anyone I used as an intermediary would kill me for the warpkey. So the smart thing to do is stay here."

Titanite nodded. "That makes sense by youma logic." She paused a moment to scrub away a persistent stain. "On the other hand maybe you just don't want to betray us in the first place but you need a good youma reason to justify that." Margrave glared at her.

"Have I mentioned just how irritating you can be?"

"Not lately. But I'll keep quiet if you get serious about drying."

Margrave sighed. This was far too domestic for her. But she was stuck with it. "Deal!" As she got to work she saw how it would go. Ti would try and obtain Pyrite's key. Possibly he'd made it accessible for Ti in case of emergency. Say all the adult Renegades dead and the world coming to an end. She wouldn't enjoy the same privileges. In fact Azurite had specifically mentioned their hidden security system was set to recognise her and deny her access. Very wise of Azurite.

Once she had the key Ti would open a gateway for the alternate senshi. They could go home and Ti could close the gateway behind them. Sailor Mercury would be smart enough to know Calcite was right about the dangers of going through into the other world with a key giving access to this one. So no more youma hunting senshi, our senshi owe Ti so she's happy and they're less likely to come after us. Everybody wins. Except Hermes and Zeus who go home and get slaughtered. Well that was their choice. Why stop them? One worrying thing. Would Ti try to go with them?

She shook her head at the thought. Not a chance. Ti had experienced dimensional assimilation for herself. She wouldn't take the chance of becoming a true youma like Princess Titanite. Ti definitely didn't want that.

Beside her Ti was remembering her brief visit to the Dark World. She hadn't changed and now she knew why. It was an alternate world not a parallel one. So if she went there she wouldn't change. If she lead the Senshi there they'd be sure to let her join.

But there was a bigger reason. If it was an alternate world then something had happened to the renegades of that world. Probably Metallia had possessed them all. That was why they were doing terrible things. They were victims of the demon queen. But Sailor Moon could fix all that. She could cleanse them the way she'd fixed the rainbow crystal carriers. Once she'd done that they'd all be normal again. Ti thought how she'd feel if something turned her into a monster and shivered. She'd give anything to be free from that and that other Titanite was just like her. She had to help her and all the other members of the Dark Circle become whole again. Well everyone except Magnesite anyway. Big brother would be mad but afterwards he'd understand what she'd done. She'd be a heroine and they'd all be proud of her.

With that in mind Ti turned her attention back to the washing up. She began to hum the Rayearth theme as she worked. This was going to make up for all the screwups she'd caused by dimension travelling. Everything would work out. She felt incredibly confident.

Dark Kingdom Renegades 9: Thy Kingdom Come

A Sailor Moon Story
by Mark Latus

Part 4 of 12

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