Continuing Tales

Dark Kingdom Renegades 1: Refugees

A Sailor Moon Story
by Mark Latus

Part 1 of 7

     Home     Next >>

Once upon a time; an unoriginal opening I admit but it seemed somehow appropriate. Anyway there were five girls who had lived and died in the distant past and been reborn into the present. When they were were fourteen years old they regained their powers and the memories of their past lives. They were known as the Sailor Warriors. Don't ask me why, they just were. If you want individual names they were known as Sailors Mercury, Venus, Moon, Mars and Jupiter. With the enthusiasm of youth they dedicated themselves to fight evil in the struggle for love and justice (admittedly one of them was more than a little reluctant but that story's already been told). Perhaps they'd have had second thoughts if they had realized they were condemning themselves to eternal combat. Justice is not a natural force but something for which you must constantly strive. This isn't particularly fair, but then fairness isn't intrinsic to the universe either.

Between the departure of the extraterrestrials known as Ali and Ann and the arrival of the girl they would come to know as Chibi-Usa the Sailor Warriors encountered some unfinished business. It particularly concerned Sailor Venus. Their first adventure had been the struggle against the Dark Kingdom. At the end of which the Kingdom was gone without a trace. At least that's what they thought.

The inhabitants of the Kingdom (better known as youma) were regarded as evil, murderous, treacherous and basically bad company. As a rule this was true. But every rule has its' exceptions. In this case, four of them. This is their story. But to understand it a little background is in order.

Thousands of years ago Earth's first civilized era came to an abrupt end. The cities of Earth were conquered and assimilated by the forces of the sorceress Beryl. Had she been content to rule Earth alone she might well have reigned over the planet for centuries. But the Moon held a civilization of great power, the Kingdom of Silver Millenium. Fearing they would intervene in her conquest Beryl launched a preemptive strike on the Moon Kingdom. The slaughter was terrible and annihilated the inhabitants of Silver Millenium. Beryl's big mistake was not killing Queen Serenity right away. Her sadistic nature found it amusing that Serenity witness the loss of everything she held dear before her own death. Not the smartest thing she could have done. With nothing left to lose Serenity released the full power of the mystic artifact known as the Silver Crystal. The invaders on the moon were cast into another dimension, a segment of a barren storm wracked world. As was the entity known as Metallia.

If it controlled Beryl or if Beryl controlled it is uncertain. What is certain is that Metallia's power had massive influence on the Earth's environment. With Metallia banished the climate shifted dramatically. Drought devastated the cities of the Earth as an ice age began. Rain became infrequent as moisture became locked into ice. Civilization fell and the relentless ice ground away all traces of the cities. Mankind was again reduced to scattered bands of hunter/gatherers who would one day begin the slow climb back to civilization. Soon all that remained of the first era were legends of a golden age from which mankind had been cast. Along with stories of a terrible battle in the sky between light and darkness.

Imprisoned within the other dimension Beryl renamed her new realm the Dark Kingdom. She soon learned that the Kingdom was separated from the earth by more than space. It was also separated by time. Time flowed slower within this dimension that it had on Earth. To return to Earth a way to integrate into its' space and time were necessary. No one knew how. Still they had all the time in this dimension to learn.

On arrival Beryl was the only one of those exiled to look nonhuman. She had been transformed by the power emenating from Metallia. Metallia had been sealed into a comatose state by Queen Serenity but it still radiated its mutagenic energies. Slowly the inhabitants of the Kingdom began to change. Beryl's four generals Jadeite, Nephrite, Zoisite and Kunzite did not consider this an attractive situation. Their own magic was sufficent to enable them to retain their human appearances. However it couldn't stop the internal physical and genetic changes. While they still looked human none of them were. As time passed children began to be born, they tended to look less human than their parents. The new generation became known as the youma, in the language of the first era it meant "the children of the darkness". Most of the youma could cast a glamour that let them appear human. Not that they bothered. Earth was a fable to them, the Kingdom was all that was real.

As thousands of years passed on Earth centuries ticked away in the Kingdom. All the original generation died except for Beryl and the four Generals. Touched by Metallia's power they didn't age. Which meant no room for advancement for the ambitious among the youma. Intrigue became the fashion as newcomers sort to displace the old guard, and invariably died for it. Eventually it was accepted that the four were here to stay and youma jockeyed for positions within their legions. Each general had his own army which newcomers had to fight their way into. So on entering adulthood youma chose the General they would seek to serve. After which they would fight and die for meaningless ranks within their armies. The high rankers fought to hold onto their positions, the lower ranks didn't like getting newcomers edging them out of promotion. Seeking advancement within the armies was literally murderous. It's not surprising that several independant forces formed. They made no move against the Four, they simply waited and watched for signs of weakness.

Meanwhile nature continued to play strange tricks on the youma. Occasionally children would be born who looked indistinguishable from human babies. Like the four generals it was a matter of outward appearance only. Still to honour (and suck up to) the four generals it became traditional to give these children names ending "ite". In the latter half of the twentieth century there were five youma bearing human appearance. One of them was an ambitious little bastard named Magnesite.

Magnesite headed one of the independant forces. It was a small group comprising Magnesite, three of the four other humanics (human mimics), a few lower level youma and the terminals. The terminals were literally dying Youma. Born with defects that would kill them long before middle age they were regarded as useless by the rest of the Dark Kingdom. Magnesite had offered them sanctuary. He thought it might be useful to keep some expendable troops handy. Magnesite could have passed for a human in his early forties. Although it would have been a little tricky explaining why his fingernails were blue and the irises of his eyes were white. His features would be best described as rugged. Unlike many Youma his hair was an unremarkable dark brown. Many said that the real power behind Magnesite was his second in command Calcite. Calcite was held to be both more powerful and smarter than Magnesite. Many of the lower ranks wondered how long before they had to salute "Lord Calcite" when he upspurred Magnesite's self appointed title. These whispers didn't bother Magnesite. He knew Calcite wouldn't overthrow him for two reasons. Firstly Calcite had an absurd sense of honour. Laughable but it made him one of the few youma you could trust at your back. Secondly and most importantly Magnesite had something big on Calcite. To him it ensured his subordinate's loyalty. As a human philosopher (Chuck Colson) once said, "When you've got them by the balls their hearts and minds will follow."

For years Magnesite had waited and watched for his opportunity. Now at last it seemed to have arrive. After all the centuries of separation the Kingdom was beginning to integrate into Earth's space and time. The human world was within their grasp. At least it would be soon. In theory anyway. Of course the four generals would lead the assault, but there should be other opportunities for an ambitious Youma to prove his worth to her majesty. One of them seemed to have arrived.

"Calcite!" Secure within his headquarters Magnesite called his deputy's name. Since he wasn't one of the Four Calcite was not immediately teleported into his presence. Still his power was sufficent to telepathically page his subordinate.

Within his well fortified home Calcite felt the summons. He sighed and put down the crystal ball he'd been studying. The latest observational data from Earth that Pyrite had been able to scan continued rolling by. He froze the image. His master's voice had called, he had to answer the summons.

"Ti, Magnesite's called. I'll see you later."

"But dinner's almost ready! I've spent hours on it and everyone will be here soon!" His sister sounded exasperated. She'd never caught on just how dangerous it was to cross Magnesite. Especially for her sake. Perhaps he was overprotective of her.

"When Azura and Py arrive you might as well start. Something tells me this is going to take some time."

"He's going to make you do something dangerous again isn't he?" Titanite looked worried. Concern about another, even a close relative, was unusual in the Dark Kingdom. That was the whole crux of the problem. If Ti was a better actress I could probably have avoided making my deal with Magnesite, Calcite reflected. Although that probably wasn't true. His own nature limited what he could do.

"I doubt it, he just wants to spend hours outlining his plans. He loves the sound of his own voice." That could be a lie, Magnesite had been sounding ambitious lately. If he overreached himself he could bring them all down with him. Still no need to upset Ti prematurely. Calcite took a moment to get into character (think cold & brooding) and vanished in a flicker of red light.

"Take care, Cal." A little late he'd already gone. Why was she so different from the other youma? It forced her to live virtually isolated in this house. Because that was the only way other youma wouldn't recognise her for what she was. Heretic, renegade, human ... there were many names for what she was and many ways of dealing with her. All of them agonizing and ultimately fatal. Of course her brother, her cousin and Azurite were also renegades. If they weren't they'd never have risked themselves by protecting her. But they'd learned young to mask their natures and present a facade to the Kingdom. To make the compromises they had to in order to survive. She'd never been able to do that.

"We're only human." Her brother's old joke echoed in her head. Heretics came in all forms, you didn't have to be a humanic youma. Why they existed nobody knew. Evil wasn't a learned behaviour among Youma, it was their nature. They were born genetically programmed to enjoy violence, treachery and destruction. Except every now and then youma were born without that drive. Born with a love of life and light. Which made them far from popular with the other youma. In one sense they were popular, killing them was regarded as excellent sport. The only heretics to survive to adulthood were those who learned as children to emulate their peers. Unless they had someone to look out for them. As she did.

Titanite caught her reflection in the mirror and sighed. A pretty 14 year old looked back at her. Were it not for the fact that, like her brother, her natural hair and nail color was green she could have passed for a human girl. At least as long as she didn't bleed, Calcite had told her that human blood was red. Hers was as blue as her eyes. If she'd been born on Earth they wouldn't have any of these problems. Her brother wouldn't be virtually enslaved to Magnesite by his promise to protect her.

Enough complaining time to check dinner, Azurite and Pyrite would be here soon. She remembered Pyrite saying that the genetic flaws that created humanics and the one that created heretics were so rare that it was about 100,000,000 to one that both traits would combine in a single individual. Which raised the question of how four of them had come to be born inside a single decade. Something to do with Chaos theory, whatever that was.

Calcite materialized inside Magnesite's Sanctum. "You sent for me, my Lord." It never hurt to layer on the servility. Magnesite studied his second in command. Calcite could have passed for a handsome young man of about 22 except for the color of his shoulder length hair and fingernails. Still, according to Calcite's own observations, there was no shortage of places on Earth were unnatural hair colors went unremarked on these days. Strange people humans. Even Calcite's dark purple eyes might have caused little comment.

"Calcite, the time is approaching to prove my worth to her majesty." Calcite repressed an alarmed expression, Magnesite sounded jovial, this could be real bad. His boss continued, "What do you know about the zone?"

"Everything you do, probably more. I'm the one who's been gathering the data for you." Calcite didn't say that out loud. He crossed over to the marble slab that served as Magnesite's desk and spun the globe he'd assembled with Pyrite's help. He tapped a spot on the north pole. "There are two zones on Earth. The first is here, the area known as north pole D point. It's the place the Kingdom has spacially integrated with and currently the only spot on the Earth we can use our full powers. It's also one of the most inhospitable places on the Earth making it the worst spot imaginable to acquire the human energy her majesty has deceed we require. Any youma who leaves the zone begins dying, the rate at which this happens depends on the strength of the individual.

"Go on."

"The second zone is located here, the nation known variously as Nippon or Japan. It centers on this city, known as Tokyo, and extends in a radius of about 150 km from this central point. (No they don't use the metric system in the Dark Kingdom I'm just translating the measurements.) Why this zone exists we don't know, however it's currently the only place on the planet we can currently survive. Again leave the zone and you start dying. We don't have physical access to this zone but a dimensional gate between it and the Kingdom has been established. Right now it's difficult to send more than two youma through the gate at a time. Currently we can't fully integrate into the zone so it's impossible to begin lifeforce draining operations or use our full abilities. It's expected full access will be possible in a few weeks." At which point, Calcite added silently, the Generals will be fighting among themselves to lead the draining operation. Meaning we'll get killed if we try to muscle in.

Magnesite nodded then asked, "Remember Wyrren?" Hard not too remember.

"Talked Queen Beryl into letting him cruise the zone to gather intelligence. He's a very powerful telepath and he's been scanning humans to acquire the current languages. Came to you trading the data for our creating a functional translator. You turned the matter over to me and told me to do it. I worked with Pyrite and we created a telepathic interface crystal that does the job once implanted. Wyrren stole the prototype and used it to acquire a high position on Jadeite's staff. We'd created two prototypes so we still had the backup. We've been selling copies secretly to the other generals in exchange for various considerations. Along with implanting them in ourselves." He already knows all this, what's this leading too?

Both Calcite and Magnesite were speaking a language unintelligable to any human. It had begun as the First Era language, which was as lost as all other traces of that time, and mutated over the centuries into something unique. Being the only language they knew the youma had been relying solely on what they could observe of Earth. Technology hadn't confused they as much as you'd think. They simply dismissed it as another kind of magic, who cared how it functioned as long as it did work? Then Wyrren crossed over and began scanning the zone inhabitants. Initially he'd been limited to Japanese but he'd learned to look for tourists and learned a whole new set of languages.

Calacite unconsciously rubbed the right side of his neck. His implanted translator was limited to Japanese and English. Observation seemed to indicate given zone limitations that was all he'd need. Magnesite had been furious about Wyrren's double cross, if he was about to enact his vengeance they were all in deep trouble. "My lord, hitting one of Jaedite's highest ranking youma..."

"Is unnecessary!", Magnesite broke in. "He's not coming back, on his last trip into the zone a human took him out. At least we think she's a human. Check this out." Magnesite activated a crystal ball, it showed Wyrren in human form brain draining some poor sap. As integration into the zone proceeded Wyrren had been able to use more and more of his telepathic powers. Now he could just suck all the data from human brains instead of painstakingly copying the information by scanning. It didn't do the humans much good but as Wyrren said, "So what?" Magnesite froze the image, "By a stroke of luck I was spying on the doublecrossing bastard when this happened. Now this is the good bit. Is your translator on?" Calcite nodded.

The scene in the crystal began to move, blue light crackled around Wyrren's eyes as he stared into his victim's eyes. The entranced human shivered as his memories uncoiled and flowed away. Then from somewhere outside the scene came a cry of "Sailor V Kick!" Something slammed into Wyrren knocking him to the ground and breaking his connection to the human. The scene expanded, Magnesite must have adjusted the view to see what was happening. The man Wyrren had been draining still stood locked in his trance, Wyrren (using his human glamour so he looked like a middle aged salaryman) pulled himself off the ground and snarled, "Who are you?"

His opponent appeared to be a girl of about 14. In his observations of the zone Calcite had seen girls of similar ages wearing those sailor suit style school uniforms. If Titanite had lived there she'd probably be wearing one. However the blue skirt was a lot shorter than on the uniforms he'd seen, and the mask was definitely unique. The girl looked at Wyrren and said, "I am Sailor V. Defender of the innocent and enemy of the Dark Kingdom!"

Wyrren didn't look particularly impressed. "The only people I fear are other youma and your aura marks you as a human. You know far too much human so you're going to die." Wyrren shifted back to his true shape, his height increased 50%, his skin became covered in scales as his features shifted to a reptilian appearance. He howled a challenge exposing his long, razor sharp fangs.

The girl showed no sign of fear, she just pointed on hand at Wyrren and shouted "CRESENT BEAM!" The flare of light from her fingertip washed over Wyrren's face. His headless body crashed to the street. The human he'd held entranced also collapsed. The human who'd called herself Sailor V rushed to his side. The picture was beginning to break up. Magnesite must have linked it to Wyrren. With him dead and his body disintergrating there was nothing to lock onto. In the crystal a fuzzy image of Sailor V was kneeling by Wyrren's victim. A new barely audiable voice said, "Nothing you can do for him ... phone ... hospital ... out of here ..." If there was anything else it was lost in the white noise. Despite the fact she was kneeling Sailor V seemed to be looking down at whoever had been talking. The picture faded into fandom colors and Magnesite shut down the crystal.

"Maybe this explains the other three missing youma." As he said this Calcite wondered why Magnesite had summoned him. Just to gloat over Wyrren's death? Or was it something else? Sailor V? Could she be connected to the ancient enemies known as the Sailor Warriors? Impossible, they died millenia ago. By now their bloodlines must be extinct.

"You've studied the Kingdom's past. I asked you about the final battle with the Moon Kingdom once and I remember you mentioning something about the warrior sailors. Tell me about them. Knowledge is power."

"And having someone else do the research is management."

"I didn't catch that Calcite."

"It was nothing of consequence. Well according to the ancient records the Sailor Warriors were the most powerful of the Moon Kingdom's defenders. There were at least four ..."

"At least four?"

"The records are unclear. While four are specifically mentioned there were occasional references to the seven Sailor Warriors. Anyway the four who were named were Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter. Each was associated with a different planet, the four nearest Earth. Their prime purpose was defending the royal family of Silver Millenium. All four were killed by the seven Great Demons during the assault on the Moon Kingdom. Curiously all four names reappeared during the second era on Earth. While originally applied to gods they were subsequently used to name the planets of this solar system. The exact same planets the warriors had been associated with. Possibly due to some sort of mythic resonance."

"Ah yes ... mythic ... yes very good." Magnesite had no idea what that was but he wasn't about to admit it. "Well you must be wondering what this has to do with us?" Calcite nodded, his superior smiled. "Queen Beryl has learned of this incident and wants to know more about this Sailor V."

"Learn more? Not track down and kill?"

"Doesn't sound like her majesty does it? However she's got some idea there's some connection between this individual and the Moon Princess. Some old prophecy, I don't know it and she's forgotten most of it. Until Metallia revives no one will know what it actually says."

"Where do we come into it this?"

"I volunteered to investigate the matter."

"Meaning I just volunteered."

Magnesite ignored Calcite's disrespectful reply. "Yes, you'll head for the zone for preliminary investigation, we'll have gate access in about three hours." Calcite didn't say anything but Magnesite was sure his subordinate was looking for a way out. No one wants to go to an alien land to face someone proficient in killing your kind. Magnesite smiled again, "By the way how's your sister?"

"Fine." Calcite's voice was stone cold.

"Such a good girl."

The threat was clear, do this or your sister burns as a heretic. Maybe you burn with her. Calacite was silent for a moment then said, "I'll make my preparations and be ready to transport at the appointed hour." He was about to ask for leave to depart when something struck him. "Wyrren was one of Jaedite's top people. Doesn't he want to track this Sailor V down and destroy her?"

Magnesite shook his head. "No, he's too busy squabbling with the other generals over who will lead energy draining operations once those become possible. Which reminds me, I promised the Queen you'd ensure this Sailor V doesn't interfere with those once they start."

Never rains but it pours as the humans say. Calcite took his leave and teleported home. Magnesite chuckled. "If you hadn't made the mistake of promising your mother you'd take care of your sister you wouldn't be in this mess. No that's not true, your big mistake was making a promise you meant to keep. Still your bad fortune is my good fortune. I shield your sister from prying eyes, you do everything I say. It's a great deal." Meanwhile Calcite rematerialized in his home. Pyrite sensed the energy flux and turned to greet him. Pyrite's black hair wouldn't have attracted comment on Earth. The fact his fingernails matched and his eyes were a dark golden color might have.

"Welcome back cousin we ... " Pyrite's greeting trailed off as he got a good look at Calcite. Something was going on. Something major.

"Pyr, Azura, glad you're here. Seems Magnesite's got some things he needs me too do. I could be away for a while so would you mind taking care of Titanite?"

Pyrite felt very cold. The last time Calcite had asked him that had been nine years earlier. The day they'd both lost their mothers. He'd been 14, Cal was 13, Ti was only 5. Byran, his mother had been a victim of a failed coup in one of the independant forces. She'd backed the wrong youma in a takeover bid against Vekris. Since she'd been a ringleader Vekris decided that in addition to killing her he'd have her son, her sister and the sister's family killed. Pyrite had seen his mother die and ran. His powers were geared more towards analysis and shielding rather than revenge. He'd headed for his cousin's home. He had learned that Calcite was another heretic a few years earlier. Which meant that Cal was the only person in the Dark Kingdom who might help him. He'd made it to the house when his mother's killers found him again. Pyrite had been expecting to die when both suddenly sprouted knife hilts. The one with the blade sticking out of his skull went down immediately. The second, sporting a blade in the chest had looked down in disbelief then keeled over. The brainshot Youma began dissolving, the second was dying rather than dead. Pyrite had turned to see Calcite creating another knife and looking for a third target. There was none.

Calcite was one of the few youma who could manifest and shape psychoplasm. He was best at shaping it into swords, knives and similar weapons. Pyrite had run through the door and begun to babble his story when he saw what was lying in the hallway. There wasn't much left of Vekris's assassin, Calcite had killed him several minutes ago. But that had been after he fatally wounded his prime target. Titanite was further down the hall, crying her eyes out beside the disintegrating hulk that had been her mother not long ago. Calcite had teleported to the Youma he'd struck in the chest. The dying Youma had little resistance left and told Calcite who had sent it after a minimal burst of mind control. Calcite had teleported back to his sister's side and held her until she'd cried herself asleep. Then he'd looked at Pyrite and asked him to watch Ti until he got back. He had some business with Vekris.

"Pyrite? Hello?"

"Uhh sorry cousin, just remembering a few things." Pyrite tried to focus on the present but the past kept slipping into his mind. Calcite had reappeared several hours later covered with healing wounds and smeared with blood. Most of it wasn't his. He'd collapsed and been very weak for the next two days. Examining him Pyrite couldn't understand how he was still alive. Calcite showed signs of wounds that should have killed him but were instead nearly healed. Somehow his regeneration ability had kicked into overdrive. Vekris was gone, so were most of his agents. Calcite never talked about it but Pyrite heard plenty of stories. Of how an unstoppable green haired berserker had hacked his way through Vekris's toughest youma. Before turning Vekris into fist sized chunks. The only thing Cal would say was that vengeance was only sweet when you took it. Afterwards all you felt was an emptiness inside.

"So what's Magnesite making you do?" Azurite tried not to show any concern in her voice. No sense upsetting Titanite. Azurite was the only one of those present not related by blood. At least as far as she knew, her father's identity was as murky as Cal & Ti's. Had she been born on Earth Azurite would have been deluged with offers to model, dates, and obscene propositions. Since she lived in the Dark Kingdom she was regarded as being as freakish as the other humanics. Still this attitude meant everyone expected them to band together. Which was excellent cover for the fact that they were all renegades. She was the only other fighter of those present, which could mean she'd have a better perspective on this than the other two. Pyrite didn't handle combat well, her lover's powers weren't geared towards fighting. He excelled at research but that wasn't a priority to most youma. Still Cal had always realized the value of Pyrite's powers as well as her own. On several occasions they'd fought side by side, Calcite's tactical sense had made excellent use of her air vortex generation abilities. Though he tending to complain if she shouted "Hurricane punch!" while using her powers.

Still she couldn't match Calcite in either power reserves or range of ability. Calcite had a real grabbag of powers, psychoplasm shaping, mind control, shock blasts and energy broadcast through his 'plasm creations. The last of which meant if one of his knives hit you he could fry you by transmitting his energy through it. Assuming the knife hit something nonvital which was fairly rare. You do what you have to in order to survive, and judge your conscience by how well you sleep. That was the rule they lived by. Like Cal she possessed superhuman strength and endurance though to a lesser degree. All four of them had teleportation abilites, though in Ti's case this induced severe nausea. Theoretically Titanite was potentially as powerful as her brother. If so her full powers hadn't manifested yet. She was limited to generating a kinetic force sphere, powerful but it took time to generate. Though she also possessed paranormal strength and endurance this was fairly standard for Youma.

Calcite also possessed a remarkable healing factor. He'd survived incredible wounds in the Vekris incident. That was before she'd known the other humanics were also heretics. She'd hung around with them, everyone being careful not to give clues that they weren't typical youma. Laughable in retrospect. Back then she'd dreamed that one day she and Calcite would be together. But she'd delayed making a move because of shyness, something most female youma didn't have to contend with. By the time she'd overcome it she was too late. Pyrite had been her second choice though she'd never let him know it. Calcite had never caught on that she'd wanted to be more than friends, perhaps that was just as well. Still when she thought about the main reason his healing powers got used she wanted to ...

"Red eyes?" Been a while since she'd heard that nickname.

Calcite's voice snapped her out of her reverie. "Hmmm, sorry Cal I didn't catch that. What did you say."

"I said Magnesite's sending me Earthside, to the prime zone."

"What! Why?"

"There's some sort of paranormal human hunting Youma. Either that or a renegade youma on the loose. Either way I get to go and investigate."

Azurite ran a hand through her long blue hair. "Why you?"

"Because Magnesite isn't about to risk his neck in unknown territory." Damn, now he'd scared his sister. "I'm exaggerating Ti. I'll just take a look around and try to pick up a few clues. Pyrite, I want you to figure out a way to mask my presence as much as possible." Pyrite nodded and headed for the workroom. "Azurite, you can help me assemble my human disguise." She nodded. "Titanite ... try and figure out what you want for a souvenir." Azura and Cal headed into his study. Titanite had seen them like this before, everyone would be oblivious to everything the rest of the evening. She sighed and started clearing the table.

A little later Azurite was studying the blond caucasian before her. She glanced over to the crystal ball displaying a Tokyo streetscape. "You know you'll never pass as a local. If you adjust your skintone a little more ..."

"I don't want to pass as a local."


"It isn't the Dark Kingdom, they don't kill anyone who doesn't fit in. Otherwise humans wouldn't have developed a tourist industry. So I'll be going as either a North American or a European. Better pick a country of origin."

"You'd blend in better with an asiatic appearance."

"Physically yes, but there are huge gaps in our knowledge of human cultures. I'm bound to make errors that someone born there wouldn't, but an outsider will be expected to screw up."

Azurite smiled, "Clever. But what do you do when you get there?"

That was a good question but Calcite didn't have a good answer. "Wing it, I guess."

Pyrite entered and tossed a medallion on a chain to Cal. "That's a new look for you cousin. Anyway wear that and it'll blank your aura. Unless you use your powers, I don't know if it'll blank a major energy flare."

"Got it. Nice work for such short notice."

Pyrite looked smug, "Well, I am a genius you know."

"Great, well mr. genius I need every type of portable scanner you can come up with. You've got a bit over two hours so get busy." Calcite turned back to Azurite, like him she was wearing a grey uniform with a diagonal red stripe across the chest. Why Magnesite picked that design was unknown. However it was unlikely to be common wear on Earth. "OK, next problem is appropriate clothing ..."

Two hours later Magnesite saw his deputy materialize close to the main gate. It took him a moment to recognise the denim clad blond as Calcite. With his faded jacket and backpack looked like a student intend on hiking his way across Asia. Further study of Wyrren's data indicated he'd built his translation matrix for English from a tourist from London. So Calcite was planning to claim to be British if anyone asked. He just wished he knew more about the place.

As he studied the Gate's shimmer something became clear to Calcite. "Someone went through a few minutes ago!"

Magnesite nodded, "Chabris. He's decided to find and eliminate Sailor V."


"Seems Wyrren was going to advance him to his number two slot. With Wyrren dead it's back to square one."

"Whoever told him she killed Wyrren didn't happen to mention Queen Beryl wants her alive."

Magnesite nodded. "Someone's eliminating some competition. If he fails he dies, if he succeeds he gets executed."

"Great. How long do I have?"

"Gate reversal is in six hours. Don't be late."

"I'll be there. Here goes!" Calcite jumped into the gateway. The transition wasn't the worst thing he'd ever felt but it was pretty far up the list.

His vision cleared and he took in his surroundings. A small alleyway next to the building that hid the gateway. No one in sight. Good, the way his head ached he couldn't trust his mind control abilities to convince anyone they hadn't seen him appear from nowhere. First thing to do was find somewhere to stash the passive sensors, after that ... well he had no real idea.

The brightness struck him as he exited the shadowed alley. Incredible. You could see how much light there was in the images of this world but the crystal balls didn't convey the utter vividness of everything. Gawking at everything he stumbled along, unwittingly helping his disguise of an ignorant gaijin tourist.

About twenty minutes later he stumbled on the park. The trees looked perfect for what he had in mind. When he was sure no one was looking his way he casually slid a yellow fistsized crystal from his backpack and held it against the trunk. The stone phase-shifted and merged with the tree. Good, Pyrite was sure the sensor would be undetectable when fused to a living object. All he had to do was find another three trees and this phase of the operation was complete.

He'd implanted the last sensor when he felt the aura flare. Definitely a youma, not far away and using its powers. Must be Chabris. Could be fighting Sailor V, could just be causing trouble. In the latter case Sailor V might sense him. He'd better go observe. Over there, he could sense the dark power. Of course the screaming people running in the opposite direction were another good indicator.

Meanwhile, not far away, a girl by the name of Minako Aino was walking along a street talking to a cat. Actually her name was Aino Minako but the chronicler is bringing his own cultural biases to this record. Anyway lots of people talk to their cats, that's not unusual. The cat answering back in Japanese was unique. At least at this point in time.

"I don't see why you're so worried about these Dark Kingdom monsters Artemis. All four of my fights with them have been over in about a minute."

The white cat glanced around to insure no one was in earshot. "Don't get overconfident. So far you've had the advantage of surprise but that won't last much longer."

"You worry too much."

Artemis sighed. His memory wasn't 100% but he was pretty sure she'd been more sensible in her first incarnation as Sailor Venus. Actually, all things considered, she'd dealt with learning she was the reincarnation of a warrior who'd been dead for millenia remarkably well. But she'd only remembered parts of her first life, enough to convince her the talking cat wasn't nuts. It was ancient history to her. She didn't truly understand the horror of the war. The Dark Kingdom had been dangerous enough when it had been composed of humans. Now? All he knew for sure was the inhabitants of Dark Kingdom were nonhuman. This had happened after he entered coldsleep so he had no idea how he knew this. Why he had awakened first while Luna was still in cryogenic suspension he didn't know. All he'd awakened knowing was Sailor Venus lived again and it was his job to find her. That and he was more alone than he'd ever been in his entire life.

The Sailor V identity had been her idea. Close enough to make the youma wonder at the connection to their ancient foes without giving away the link. Assuming the youma remembered the Sailor Warriors after all this time.

Then Artemis felt a surge of negative energy. Youma. Fairly close. A quick glance showed no one close enough to witness Minako changing. "There's a youma nearby, transform to Sailor ... Glark!" The final remark was caused by Minako dropping her ice cream cone to grab her transformation pen. "V power makeup!" Her modified Sailor Venus costume replaced her ordinary clothes. Resisting the urge to make a speech about who she was and what she'd do to her enemies Sailor V looked down at Artemis for direction. Then broke out laughing. Artemis tried to look stern but that's difficult when smeared with dairy products.

"When you're through laughing we've got a few things to take care of!" Minako composed herself and Artemis shouted "Follow me!" Proceeding in bounds that were physically impossible for humans or cats they headed for the source of the power.

Calcite was already there. He'd joined a crowd of onlookers who were torn between watching in fascination and running away. Not far away, surrounded by overturned cars, stood a purple humanoid approximately fifteen foot tall. With the horns, taloned hands and cloven hooves it was fairly close to a traditional devil image. Chabris was shouting for Sailor V to face him or he'd destroy everyone in his sight. Since he'd neglected to get a translator Calcite was the only one present who understood him. His size and aura confused Calcite for a moment. Charbris was only seven feet tall, but that wasn't an illusion. A moment's study gave him the answer. Psychoplasm. Charbris had surrounded himself with it and shaped it into an enlarged duplicate of his own form. Question was how long could he maintain the psychoplasm before it broke down? Long enough it seemed, a masked girl had just landed down the street from Charbis.

"Youma, why don't you pick on someone your own size ... not wait a second that doesn't work. Well anyway fight me! I am Sailor V, enemy of the Negaverse! I mean the Dark Kingdom, stop fussing Artemis."

The crowd was getting interested, a cute girl had fallen out of the sky and challenged the monster. This was shaping up to be just like television.

Charbis had no idea what she'd said but he recognised her from the image he'd been shown. He started towards her. Minako decided this guy was way to big to attack physically. Best to go straight to the heavy stuff. "Cresent Beam!"

The energy beam punched a hole the size of a basketball clean through the creature's chest. It didn't fall over. Instead there was a swirling inside the wound as the hole closed. The words "Uh oh" seemed very appropriate.

Calcite watched as Chabris's left arm picked up a car by the undercarriage. Sailor V's attack had failed because it had completely missed the real Charbris. It had punched through his psychoplasm construct, about five feet above Charbris's head. Question was had Charbis figured that out or had he just got lucky. Second question was should he intervene to keep Sailor V alive? Then Charbis flung the car at the girl and it all seemed irrelevant.

Calcite had underestimated her. Sailor V jumped clear of the car, having to dodge half a ton of onrushing metal was a great motivator. She bounced off the street and sailed upward in an impossible arc. Whoever, whatever she was she had superhuman strength and agility. As she flew over Charbis's head she tried again. "Cresent beam!" This time it punched straight through the psychoplasm shell, directly through Charbis and gouged a small crater in the street.

To the onlookers the monster suddenly shrank (as the psychoplasm broke up) then disintegrated into dust. The process was clearly faster on Earth. Normally it took about half an hour for a dead youma to break into a heap of dust. Also the dust didn't normally blink out of existence.

Sailor V landed and made a short speech about being there to defend everyone. Cameras emerged and she began posing for pictures. Strangely the photographers seemed more interested in her than they had in Charbis. Off to the side a white cat made throat clearing noises. When that failed to attract her attention it began extremely loud and theatrical coughing. Sailor V sighed, muttered "Allright, Allright!", scooped up the cat and leapt away at a fairly ridiculous speed.

Calcite listened in to the conversation of the humans around him.

"She was really cute!"

"How old do you think she was?"

"Does she have her own model kit?"

"Anyone get the monster's name?"

"What color were her panties?"

"White. I got a few good pictures ..."


"Let go of my camera!"

"Just a leotard with a skirt added. What's the big deal."

"Not a bad monster."

"But a lousy villian. Real villains need style. Like him."

For some reason Calcite picked up on that comment. He followed where the last speaker pointed. It was a theatre ... or cinema, one of the two. A place humans gathered to watch entertaining fictions. This one was showing something called "Star Wars".

"I didn't know they rereleased that. Hope they improved the dubbing."

"Yeah, but my point is Darth Vader had real style. He was a real villain."

"True. Every decent hero has to have a really good villain."

Calcite pondered this then headed for the cinema. Tracking Sailor V without using his powers would be impossible. He had the glimmerings of an idea.

The lady at the ticket counter stared at the gold coin. Odd, everything seemed to indicate humans valued gold. He wasn't sure why but it had seemed accurate. So he'd molded a few coins before departure. "Not enough?"

"This is pure gold! It's too much, I can't accept this!"

Calcite sighed and decided to risk using a little power to influence the human. "Look, why don't you keep the extra as a ... gratuity? I think that's the word."

"But ... the manager will insist on yen." She was definitely weakening.

"Well if you pay my admission you can keep the coin." His eyes glowed slightly as he said this. She nodded, pocketed the coin, tossed some bills into the register and handed him a ticket. Calcite wandered in, he was going to have to learn more about human economics.

Several hours later Calcite was back in the park he'd stumbled across. It was evening and the park was quiet. A little later it would start filling with couples. For now it was private enough. It wasn't long until the gate activated, time to collect the sensor data. The blue stone he pulled from his pack suddenly gave a high pitched hum and glowed brightly for several moments. Then it was just a blue chunk of rock again. OK time to go, Sailor V might have detected that.

She hadn't. Artemis was the one who could sense Dark Kingdom power but his tracking abilities were limited to destructive energies.

Calcite didn't know this as he headed for the gate. After the movie ended he'd spent the rest of the day studying the humans. He understood money a little better. The paper stuff was theoretically backed up by gold but enough gold to replace all the paper didn't exist. Anyway for operating capital you'd have to change gold for paper. He'd found a coin shop and replaced his remaining coins. The owner had thought he was cheating Calcite but gold was easy to find in the Dark Kingdom. Which was probably why it wasn't valued by them.

Well here he was, time to head home. At least now he had a plan to control Sailor V. Problem was if he became Darth Vader he was going to need a few stormtroopers. Meaning expendable youma who could die fighting her. Damn. He stepped through the gateway and felt the same spaceripping transition. It felt a lot like cold electricity crawling through your skeleton.

"Crossing will get easier as spacial integration proceeds." Calcite's vision cleared and he saw Magnesite watching him.

"Glad to hear it." His shivering stopped. "By the way Charbis won't be coming back."

"Who cares? So how are we going to control Sailor V?"

"We?" Calcite avoided saying this. Instead he replied, "By giving her something big to distract her. An image she won't be able to resist."


"An arch-enemy. A youma she'll think is the overlord of the whole Dark Kingdom. An enemy she must continually battle to prevent the world being plunged into chaos."

Magnesite stared at him. "Idiot, if we had that kind of power ..."

"It doesn't matter that we don't, what matters is that she thinks we do!"

Magnesite thought for a moment, then smiled. "Yes, I can see that. Humans are so gullible."

"I hope so because my life's riding on this." Again he merely though this. Now for the nasty part. "For the deception to work she's going to need some servants of the Dark Lord to fight and destroy."

"The Dark Lord? Ahh I see ... no problem, use the terminals. Hah, I knew they'd come in useful someday."

"I'll need a few days to prepare the image, brief the terminals, prepare a few plans ..."

"You've got two days, get moving! 'Lord Calcite'." Magnesite broke into laughter and Calcite dematerialized. He'd have to practice laughing like that. It seemed to fit the image he had in mind somehow.

Everyone was waiting for him. "See told you everything would work out." Titanite smiled, she'd been afraid he was never coming back. Cal tossed Pyrite what looked like a blue rock. "If your sensors worked there's about five hours of material on that stone. See what you can find. Azurite, I could use a little assistance. I've got a new disguise to design. Something with a lot of black. Titanite ..."

"How about I make you something to eat. You skipped dinner and I'll bet you didn't risk human food." Besides I don't want to get sent to bed, I want to hear about the human world.

"That'd be nice. Any of the blindworm stew left?"

"I saved you some, there's also some of the beetle souffle left."

"Great." Dark Kingdom cuisine was heavy on insects and fungi. There wasn't much in the way of native animal life. You get used to anything in time.

When she arrived in her brother's study she saw what he'd meant about a new disguise. He'd let his hair and skin return to their normal shadings. The extreme paleness of his face and neck contrasted with the black cloth that covered every other part of him. The costume was completely black, with the exception of the red, skullshaped epaulettes that held the black cape in place. Azurite was telling Calcite, "I'm not sure you need the helmet."

"It's all part of the image. Hold on." Calcite picked up the black, crested helmet. Apart from the eyesockets it was featureless. He fitted it into place, only his mouth and chin remained uncovered. He concentrated a moment and his eyes became a solid glowing red. "Ok now for the voice .... ahem ... FOOLISH HUMAN, YOU DARE TO CHALLENGE ME!" He dropped from the booming deep tone back to his regular voice. "How was that?"

Azurite nodded, "I like it, somehow it fits the image perfectly."

"You sound kind of scary Cal."

Calcite pulled off the helmet. "That's the whole point, Ti. If Sailor V thinks I'm someone really dangerous she'll have to fight me."

"But isn't that dangerous?"

"That is the flaw in this plan", he thought. Out loud he said, "If I actually fought her face to face I'd have a problem. Instead she'll just take on my underlings." He sighed. "Azura, I'll have to talk to the terminals tomorrow. I could use some company."

"And someone to watch your back when you tell them you're sending them into battles they won't come back from." Not wanting to upset Titanite all she said was "Sure. You are the boss after all." True. Technically she and Pyrite were his subordinates. Unlike Pyrite, whose job was weapon and surveillance orientated research, she had command of a small troop of Youma. Thanks to her "bitch from hell" routine she used when not in the company of other renegades none of her subordinates dared cross her.

Meanwhile in the workroom Pyrite was studying one of the sensor readings closely. Most of the observational data the youma had came from the zone, it was hard to get a lock on anything outside. Besides expanding the observational radius his sensors were designed to track energy fluxes. If he was right there was a third zone out there somewhere. He'd have to find out if that was right. Build a probe that Cal could launch next time he crossed over. Oblivious to everything else Pyrite set to work. Azurite who had just looked into the room sighed and stepped back. She recognised that mood, it would be impossible to get through to him tonight. Seemed she'd be sleeping alone. She headed for the guest room, the two of them spent more time in this house than their own quarters. Of course their own place wasn't as secure as this. The fortifications and Calcite's reputation kept most youma away.

Next morning (the cycle of the day when the sky lightened, there was no sun) Calcite looked into the workroom. Pyrite was sprawled on a bench surrounded by crystals, grimores, strange tools and the other pariphennalia of a youma researcher. He sensed the intrusion and awoke, "Whosit ... ah, good morning cousin." Calcite could never understand how Pyrite could work most of the night, get an hour's sleep and be ready to get back to work.

"Morning. I have a new project for you to start after breakfast."


"I need you to start designing a few devices that'll look scary as hell and perform an impressive sound and light show. Something I can pass off as some sort of doomsday weapon."

"Sort of a special effects gizmo. Like the Souleater we used to bluff Biroc?"

"You've got it."

"Let's see if I ..." Pyrite stopped talking and started sketching something arcane.

It can wait until you've eaten ..." Calcite gave up. Pyrite would be oblivious to the outside world for the next few hours. "I should have told him after breakfast."

As always Ti had got up early to cook. The past few years she'd insisted on preparing all the meals in this house. She'd insisted that she had to contribute something for her sheltering. Since it seemed to make her happy he'd agreed. Her early efforts had been fairly disasterous but by now she was a fairly decent cook.

Calcite sighed. She seemed happy but what kind of a life was it being confined to this house? Unless she learned to mask her nature she'd have to spend the rest of her life indoors. Besides he couldn't count on always being there to protect her. Even without this Sailor V business dangerous times were approaching. Soon the Dark Kingdom would be preparing for war, and Magnesite was sure to put his subordinates between himself and the front lines. He'd actually though about deserting, take the others through to the zone with him and forget about the Dark Kingdom. But that was just a fantasy, they'd be hunted down and killed. No one walks away from the Dark Kingdom. Of course until recently there was nowhere else to go.

When Azurite joined him about half an hour later he was already wearing the Dark Lord outfit, minus the helmet. At her inquiring stared he shrugged and said, "Since I'll be dressing like this when they're on Earth with me they'd better get used to it."

"Makes sense I guess. Anytime you're ready."

"OK, just get into character and ... let's go!"

There was a flicker of red light and the two figures vanished.

The cavern that housed the terminals stank of the dead and the dying. Neither Calcite or Azurite showed any expression at the stench. The terminals recognised both of them, Magnesite's ice hearted deputy and the ruthless bitch who served him. Perhaps Magnesite felt their usefulness was at an end and had sent them to purge this place. Then Calcite began to speak.

"Brothers and sisters, for too long you have languished here! Dismissed as useless by your peers you have wondered how to prove your worth to both her majesty and Metallia. Wonder no longer! Lord Magnesite is sending me to Earth to conduct operations vital to the Kingdom. I have chosen you to be the troops that accompany me."

Azurite could sense the terminals fascination. She maintained her cold expression.

"It will be dangerous. Many of you will not survive. But you will have proven you value to our lord, our queen and our god!" He had them. "For now only one of you will be able to accompany me each trip. A deadly enemy waits and you may well not return. Knowing that who would choose to accompany me?"

There was a howl as all the terminals began shouting at once. A few of the louder cries were understandable.

"We're dying anyway, a chance to dying fighting for the Kingdom ... pick me Lord!"

"Glory to Metallia, Choose me!"

"A chance to walk on Earth, to taste human blood ... Take me!"

"Hail Magnesite!"

"Hail Calcite!"

"Glory to Lord Calcite!"

"Pick me!"

"Choose me!"

"ENOUGH!" Calcite's dark lord voice boomed over the din. There was silence and he pointed at a youma that seemed a combination of man and spider. "You, what is your name!"

"Arachnis my Lord."

"You'll do. Be ready to depart at any moments notice." He cut off the youma's torrent of thanks and said, "Some of you may try to eliminate Arachnis and take his place. If anyone does that I will find them. I will not kill them but they will forever loose the chance to go to Earth." The youma who'd been eyeing Arachnis looked away suddenly. "I will return when it is time to cross. Be ready!" Both Calcite and Azurite disappeared. Arachnis began glorying in the envy of his fellows.

Back in his home Azurite looked at Calcite in amazement. "They're actually happy to get chosen for suicide missions!"

Calcite nodded. "Those poor, stupid, bastards!"

"Well, guess they figure as they're dying anyway at least they get to die for something." Calcite grunted. He didn't look very happy. "Hey they chose to go and the plan won't work without expendables right. Ok, it's not the ideal solution but better tham than use right."

"Do you know what the entire renegade philosophy can be reduced too?"

Calcite sounded bleak, this was really upsetting him. "No. What?"

"One word. Survive. We do whatever it takes to stay alive. Maybe we're just kidding ourselves. Maybe we aren't any different from the other Youma."

"Bullshit! There's a lot of crap we wouldn't pull when the chips are down. Even if we wouldn't survive otherwise. In any case you swore to protect your sister right? Hard to do if you're not alive. The terminals made their choice. You're taking them to their deaths but they're already dying. At least they get to die happy!"

"That's rationalization. But you're right. Thanks, I can always count on you to keep me from screwing myself up."

"That's what friends are for." I wanted to be more than friends but you didn't pick up on that. By the time I had the courage to tell you it was too late. Azurite repressed a sigh. She wasn't unhappy with Pyrite, but sometimes she wished ... enough. What's past is past, wishing doesn't change it.

"Hey Cal!" Pyrite wandered in, "I think I've got what you want. Check it out." He held up a sketch of construct composed of crystal rods and covered with bizarre symbols. "The Earthripper Mark 1. Punches a hole through the planetary crust to the magma inundating the city with lava."

"That's a joke right?"

"Yeah but she won't know that. I figure the beam will get about 50 meters max before the assembly blows."

"Hopefully she can stop me before than. Otherwise it's going to become obvious I'm faking."

"Anyway it'll all fold up to this cube about half a metre square so you can carry it through the gateway. So how are you going to use it?"

"I'll pick some public place, scare off the humans, tell Arachnis to guard the area then set it up and radiate as much power as possible. Then I very ostentatiously gloat about the terrible things I'll do to the city."

"Will it work?" Azurite thought she could follow the logic of this scheme.

"Who knows?"

"By the way cousin ..." Pyrite held out what looked like a giant ruby. "Next time you cross over I need you to lauch this probe for me. It should hold together long enough to transmit confirmation back to the sensors."

"Confirmation of what?"

"A third zone."

That was quite the bombshell.

The following day Calcite stood with Arachnis by the gateway. Arachnis was using his glamour. He looked like a thin and sickly teenager. Which was in fact what he was. "Remember to maintain the glamour until we've reached the power point. And address me as Lord Calcite on the other side." Calcite had made up a story about various points of energy existing in the city which he'd be using to power the Dark Kingdom's battle machines. The terminals had bought it hook, line and sinker. "Ok let's go!

"On to glory!" Fearlessly Arachnis stepped through the gate. Carrying a large cube disguised to look like a parcel Calcite followed.

School was just letting out and the crowd of girls by the lockers was making as much noise as possible. "Say Minako want to drop by the arcade? There's this really cute guy there now."

Minako was about to say yes when she saw Artemis at the window. His cresent mark was glowing, something was wrong. "Sorry, gotta go!" She raced off. This Sailor V stuff was starting to mess up her social life.

Behind her someone said, "Lately she's always running off alone. I'm getting sick of it."

"Yeah, why do we keep including her?"

"The heck with her."

That was the point Minako's isolation from her classmates really began. Right now she had other concerns. "What's wrong, Artemis?" She'd ducked into a nearby alley. The cat looked grim.

"Big trouble. Something major's going on at the Hasegawa gallery, I've never felt this much power before. Transform fast!"

There was a flare of light and her clothing reshaped itself. "Let's go."

At the gallery the manager was trying to deal if she was dealing with a crazed conceptual artist. The black clad figure had materialized in the main exhibit room flanked by the sick looking kid and pointed at the wall which had immediately exploded outwards. He'd then announced he'd do the same to any human still on the premises in sixty seconds. Everyone else had cleared out but Akane had stuck around. The captain going down with her ship. The man had gestured at his parcel which had floated up about two meters and unfolded into this thing. Two black marblelike pillars with an array of twenty crystal rods about the diameter of a golfball and half her length between them. All twenty had rotated to face their pointed ends at the ground. The stranger looked at her and smiled, "The Earthsplitter is almost fully charged, in a moment I'll set it to discharge and we'll depart. You'll have a firsthand view of the magma welling up. Your gallery is about to become the hottest place in town!" He began to laugh, the kid echoed him.

Then a new voice broke in, "How dare you terrify people from our cultural centers forcing more of them to turn to television. Just because art is boring doesn't mean people shouldn't look at it. Well maybe it does and there's nothing wrong with TV ..."

"Wrap it up fast." Artemis reflected he'd have to get Minako to work on her pre battle speeches. Assuming they both survived.

"Well anyway Sailor V is here to stop you!"

The figure in black looked puzzled by all this, "What the hell are you talking about? Oh who cares, you're that pest I heard about. Arachnis, DESTROY HER!"

"As you command Lord Calcite!" The sickly kid made an impossible leap at Sailor V. As he flew his shape changed. Two more pairs of arms emerged from his sides, arms with talons instead of fingers. Mandibles emerged from his cheeks and extra clusters of eyes emerged from his forehead. He was one of grossest things Minako had ever seen. She dodged to the side just before it would have hit her. The floor shredded where the clawed arms hit. He spun and spat something greenish at her. It missed and began burning a hole in the wall. Acidic. The thing leapt at her, Minako realized she was in trouble. She managed to roll to the side and leap to her feet. For the first time in years Arachnis forget his pains. This effort was killing him but it was just as Lord Calcite had promised. Glory. Time to finish this.

"CRESENT BEAM!" The energy bolt caught Arachnis in the middle of his leap. The remaining half of him crashed into Sailor V knocking her down the corridor. Ignoring the ringing from her head striking the floor Minako pushed the disintegrating remains off herself. The other one was still in there. She staggered in and saw the apparatus glowing with light, the air filled with a rising hum.


This was it, could she concentrate enough to focus the beam?

"You can do it Minako. I believe in you!" Artemis's voice was filled with total confidence. She gathered her strength and screamed "CRESENT BEAM!"

The structure exploded. As it fragmented the pieces vanished rather than peppering the gallery with lethal shrapnel. She'd done it.

"CURSE YOU SAILOR V." It seemed Lord Calcite wasn't amused. "You may have won this round but this is far from over. This town is full of energy points I can use. Next time I will succeed!" There was a flicker of red light and he was gone. Minako let herself slump against the wall. Her head was aching worse than it had in her entire life. Good thing he hadn't stayed to fight her.

"You alright Min ... Sailor V?"


The cat sighed. "Man that was close, I thought we were all finished."

Despite the pain Minako managed to glare at the cat. "I though you said you had total confidence in me?"

"I do. Within certain limits."

"Listen cat ..."

"Excuse me?" It was the gallery manager. "What just happened? And who are you?"

"I am Sailor V champion of ... owww!"

"Forget the drama until you're feeling better. Lets go!" She nodded, winced and leapt away through the hole in the front wall. Akane looked around the at the mess and wondered how she'd explain this to the insurance company.

Minako kept going until she spotted a secluded spot to change back. She found her hope the pain would disappear when she stopped being Sailor V to be false. How was she going to explain this to her parents? Probably she'd tell them she slipped on something and struck her head on the pavement. There was no one around. Massaging the lump on her head she squatted down by Atermis. "You were right, they are getting more dangerous."

Artemis nodded. "The first true foe has appeared. Whoever this Lord Calcite he will be back. The true battle is beginning!"

Not far away Calcite, back in his tourist guise, was heading for the local library. He had a few hours to kill before the gate reversed. There was a lot of stuff he wanted to look up. Everything seemed to have gone well. Except for Arachnis there had been no casualties. Good, he'd been afraid of hurting human bystanders. Scaring them shitless he could live with.

Four hours later he downloaded the sensors' data again and headed for the gate. He wondered if Pyrite's probe had found a third zone.

Later back in the Dark Kingdom he joined Azurite and Titanite in Pyrite's lab to hear the results. Well there both is and isn't a zone!"

"Mind explaining."

"Sure." Pyrite pointed to his globe. "Ok the source is here. The country known as Britain ... or England. Same thing I suppose." He tapped the globe. The image of the country he'd indicated expanded dramatically. "The source is here." The area he'd tapped also grew. They saw an incomplete circle of monolithic stones. "The source seems to be under this artifact. Maybe it was erected to mark the spot. It's a sort of protozone"


"Well you could establish a gate to this place. You'd have to bounce off the main gate in Tokyo ..."

"I found out the place is named Juban, it's on the outskirts of Tokyo."

"Whatever. Anyway you could gate to this place but you couldn't survive for long. You'd die slower than in any other place in the world but you'd still die."

"If you stayed long enough. Presumably you could gate out before death."

"Well in theory ..." Pyrite's eyes lit up. "In fact while you couldn't return to the Kingom before prime gate reversal it should be no trouble gating from the protozone to Tokyo. Or Jubal or whatever you called it."

Azurite looked at Calcite, "Just what are you planning?"

"Nothing yet. I can feel an idea shaping up but I'm not sure precisely what it is."

"Just don't do anything too crazy big brother."

"Don't worry Ti. I don't take unnecessary risks. Well time to start planning Lord Calcite's next caper. Also I think my dialogue needs work."

Several weeks later Minako was sitting in her bedroom with Artemis studying a town map. They had plotted all of Calcite's appearances and were looking for a pattern. There didn't seem to be one. Artemis muttered that maybe she should try drawing lines between the points. Perhaps there was some sort of mystical symbol being formed.

Though he wasn't letting on she knew Artemis was worried about the latest clash with Calcite. Until now she'd never got a clear shot at him. He'd always send his underlings to fight her while he worked on his various machines. Today she'd managed to take out the youma, destroy the Hypersonic generator and throw a cresent beam at Calcite.

It had bounced off. He had raised his right hand and she'd been knocked down the hallway by some sort of forcewave. Stunned she'd watched him approach, energy crackling around his hands. Then his wristband had begun to beep. He'd screamed, "NOT NOW! DAMN. I WILL FINISH YOU NEXT TIME.", and disappeared. It had been several minutes before she could get up and limp home. Her parents were definitely worried by these recurring injuries. In fact Artemis had been forced to use a mind control technique to calm them down.

"He must have some sort of time limit on how long he can stay on this world." Artemis's voice broke in on her remembrance. "So you found all this junk in his hideout?"

"Yes. Strange isn't it. Why would a youma be interested in England?" Minako looked at the pile of books, maps and pamphlets. All concerned the British Isles. What did it mean?

"Maybe he's planning to relocate."

"What do you mean Artemis?"

"I've told you the Dark Kingdom can only this world via Juban Town. I could be wrong. If there's a place over there Calcite thinks he can materialize ..."

"... then he'll have a whole new country to terrorrize. One without a Sailor Warrior to trouble him."

"Yes." Artemis closed his eyes and thought. The only Dark Kingdom incursions of late had been Calcite's. Was he the ruler of the Dark Kingdom? Or just the agent in charge of operations? If the former and he was heading for England then Minako must go to stop him. If the latter that would leave this town defenseless against any other agents who crossed over. What should he do? "Minako, you may have to go to England!"

"What! But my parents ..."

"I'll have to ... ahh convince them you're on some sort of exchange program. For that matter I'll have to hack into your school's records to make them say the same thing. Probably I'll need to brainwash your principal and teachers to think the exchange program exists."

"Great ... a vacation in the middle of term ... start setting it up. Say when you brainwash my history teacher do you think you could get her to raise my grades a little?"

Artemis felt a large sweatdrop form on his face. "Try and take this seriously OK? We don't know if you'll be going yet. Besides it won't really be a vacation."

"Yeah, yeah ... so what should I pack? What are they wearing in England ..." She kept talking but Artemis stopped listening. He sighed. Well at least she'd forgotten about her injuries. Why couldn't she take this more seriously. He was willing to bet there wouldn't be this much trouble when the other Sailor Warriors revived.

Meanwhile across town a croygenic cylinder invisible to human eyes cracked open. After some time a black cat emerged into its new world. One thought hammered through her brain. The Princess, she must find the Princess. Somewhere out there were those who would help her in her quest.

Back in the Dark Kingdom Azurite was watching Lord Calcite's last showdown with Sailor V. "You get very careless. You're damn lucky your forceshield was strong enough to withstand that!"

"Keep your voice down, I don't want to worry Titanite." Calcite sighed, "But you're right, I underestimated her. I'll be more careful in the future." He nodded towards the recording, "She's improved a lot in the past few weeks."

That was true, a study of the recordings showed that. The epaulettes on Calcite's costume were more than simply decorations, they recorded everything around him for subsequent playback. After Arachnis died he'd shown the terminals the recording of his death. Why he done this he wasn't sure. It hadn't discouraged the terminals from volunteering. Dying fighting seemed preferrable to waiting for their luck to run out and drop dead. So despite a 100% mortality rate he still had more volunteers than he'd ever need.

Azurite was looking confused. "What's the deal with the wristband?"

"Oh I triggered tha. Just a gimmick I came up with to duck out of a fight before I had to seriously injure her."

"Which you would have to do otherwise to maintain your character."


"Say Cal?" Azurite sounded worried.

"What am I going to do if orders change and I get told to eliminate Sailor V instead of study and occupy her?"

"Should have known you'd already have thought about it. Well?"

"I don't know? I really don't know."

Calcite sounded really uncertain, best to change the subject. "So do you think your plan's going to work?"

"I don't know. Getting to England's not a problem, just bounce off the main gate and materialize above Stonehenge. From there I can teleport to London without much trouble. Staying alive once I get there is the real problem." Azurite tried not to look concerned. This might well not be one of his better plans. It had seemed simple at the time. He'd told Pyrite "Humans are able to stay alive in a variety of environments that would kill them without the appropriate protective clothing. Can you come up with the mystical equivalent. Something that will enable me to function in England. Or at least temporarily delay my dying?"

As always Pyrite had delivered. Hopefully anyway. The field augmenter hadn't been field tested yet. Even if it worked Sailor V still had to take the bait. He'd been leaving indications that he was planning a move to England, centering on London at the last few operations. Magnesite was getting edgy. In about a week energy draining operations would be possible in the zone. He'd promised the Queen Sailor V wouldn't interfere. If she did then he'd be facing royal displeasure, assuming the general directing the operations didn't take him out first. Magnesite had been making a lot of comments about not going down alone.

If the England operation worked he'd be operating on his own most of the time. Few terminals had forceshield capability. Without a shield to modulate Pyrite's gizmo wouldn't work. Enough worrying, time to get to work on the final phase of Operation London Calling.

It was the following night in Juban Town. Artemis was alone in Minako's bedroom. She was out as Sailor V checking the place he'd theorized Calcite would appear. When he'd connected the points he'd realized Calcite's strike points formed a large pentacle. Only one point remained, if the design was right Calcite would be in the warehouse district, pier 5. He still had the problem of what to do if Calcite was leaving this town. Should Minako pursue him across the world to England and leave Juban defenseless? If she didn't would the Dark Kingdom break through in England and sweep across the ocean to engulf the whole of Japan? He'd set everything in place for the phoney exchange program (except for the brainwashing part) but didn't know if he should use it or not.

Then his communicator beeped. He activated it expecting Minako, but the voice that emerged was a real surprise."

"Central control?" It was Luna's voice, she sounded very confused. Artemis realized the videolink on his communicator was malfunctioning.

"Luna, is that you?" His voice was distorted by the malfunctioning communicator.

"Yes, this is agent Luna. Hello, Central Control." She didn't recognise his voice. "I knew how to contact you when I woke up. I'm afraid my memory is somewhat scrambled."

"That's only natural after so long in hibernation."

"I suppose. No sign of that useless furbag Artemis. Looks like I'm the only agent around."

Useless furbag? Fine, then I'm staying Central Control as far as you're concerned. "Agent Luna in future you will give this password before beginning a report." Artemis quickly thought up the most ridiculous password and countersign he could.

"Er ... what does that mean?"

"That is not something to concern lowly fieldagents. Now why did you contact us?"

"I haven't found the Princess yet but I believe I've spotted Sailor Moon's reincarnation. I will attempt to awaken her." Although Luna didn't know it a run in with kid who thought her cresent mark needed bandaging would delay matters considerably.

"Sailor Moon? Oh yes ... I remember her." It was vague but he remembered her now. Strange, until Luna mentioned the name he'd thought there were only four of the inner senshi. But there were five; Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Moon. How could he have forgotten one?

"I will awaken her tomorrow."

"Excellent work agent Luna."

"Thank you, Luna out."

Artemis switched off the communicator then began fiddling with it. After he'd repaired it he'd set it to distort his voice and display a blank screen when Luna called. It would work normally when talking to anyone else. Useless furbag indeed! Still Luna had solved his dilemma. Minako could go to England if need be and whoever the new Sailor Moon was could guard the city. It was perfect.

Meanwhile Sailor V was creeping through a darkened warehouse. There was a sickly glow ahead illuminating the two figures by the bizarre constructs. Apparently Dark Kingdom technology leaned heavily towards crystal based, at least Calcite's version did. Stones of various sizes glowed, circled through the air and hummed as they performed some incomprehensible task. One of them was unmistakeably Calcite, the other a youma that looked like a combination of woman and plant. Her hands ended in things like venus flytrap jaws. Hopefully that was some sort of coincidence. In the center of the room two huge pillars glowed with energy. The air between them looked distorted.

Calcite glanced down casually at a soft glow on his wristband. Sailor V was in earshot. Time to get on with his plan. "Well Pretor the time has arrived. Though my attempts to use the powerpoints failed due to Sailor V's intervention I have completed the pentacle. The gateway to London is ready to open. A city without the accursed Sailor V to protect it! While she stays here waiting in vain I will bring the Dark Kingdom through to England. From there we can inundate the whole world in our beautiful darkness!"

Pretor looked at him longingly, it sounded truly wonderful. Like all the terminals she was unaware Calcite's schemes had been fakes. "Can I not come with you Lord?"

"Alas faithful Pretor the transistion would kill you. It will take me several days to recover once I cross. But no matter, without my enemy to interfere I can stand a few days healing. Sailor V ..."

"Is right here!" Minako stepped out from concealment. About time too, Calcite thought. He'd been afraid he'd have to end his speech with a burst of mad laughter. He still wasn't very good at it.

"Not now, not this close! Pretor ..." Pretor was already leaping for Sailor V. Minako dodged. She had to avoid this thing. The priority was destroying this mechanism before Calcite could use it. The pillars had to be the heart of it. Calcite was doing something, all the floating stones were glowing. An image was forming between the pillars, a street somewhere there was still daylight.

Minako aimed for the lefthand pillar, "CRESENT BEAM!"

"NO!" Pretor cannoned into her knocking her hand skyward. The beam tore a large hole in the roof. Debris began to rain down. Minako leapt clear, realizing as she did her leap would carry her waay from Calcite's device. There was a squelching noise behind her as a roofbeam landed on top of Pretor. Over the din she heard Calcite shout, "TOO LATE SAILOR V!"

Calcite stepped between the pillars. She brought her hand up to aim at the righthand one, maybe destroying it would finish Calcite while he stood between them. "CRESENT AHHHHHHHH!" The flare of light from the pillars blinded her. Instinctively she shut her eyes and turned away. The light vanished and the warehouse went silent.

It took several minutes for her vision to return. The warehouse was darkening, the glowing jewels were fading and beginning to crumble. The pillars were beginning to crack. She'd seen this before, all Calcite's creations broke apart into dust when destroyed. Calcite must have set it to do this after he'd used it so she couldn't follow him. She'd failed to stop him, now her archenemy was thousands of kilometers away. In a few days he'd recover his powers and then ... no choice, she had to go stop him.

Also getting out of school for a while was undeniably attractive. Artemis wouldn't appreciate her attitude but she wasn't about to make being Sailor V her whole life. It was already alienating her from the other girls at school.

The only things Calcite had brought that weren't disintegrating was a pile of guidebooks to London. She gathered them up, perhaps they'd give clues to his objectives.

Elsewhere in Juban town Calcite was in a bar trying some human drinks. Hopefully that had worked. The hologram had looked realistic enough, he'd stepped toward it then teleported under the cover of the flare. He had an hour to kill until gate reversal then it was back home. After that ... well in a few days he'd cross to the Stonehenge gate, teleport to London and see if Sailor V was in town. Hopefully he could keep her distracted while he considered the feasibility of his own scheme. Perhaps there was a way out of the Dark Kingdom after all.

"Artemis, Calcite's got away. He's in England."

"Fortunately we've got lucky for once. Luna my ... ahhh assistant has located a second Sailor Warrior. She can guard Juban while you're tracking down. I'll set the wheels in motion tommorrow."

"All right, this is going to be fun ... vital, I mean vital!"

Artemis sighed, "There's no reason you can't have fun as long as you stop Calcite while you're doing it. I won't be able to accompany you due to quarantine regulations. So you'll need this."

"A compact?"

The mirror detects youma energy, within a limited radius. It's the best I can do. Besides Calcite doesn't tend to be subtle."

"True. He just appears somewhere, terrifies people and begins using one of his gizmos."

"Right. Now let's work on your English."

"Oh, right." That was the one point she'd forgotten. "You don't have a magic translation device?"

"No." Actually I do but it's implanted in me. How else could I emerge speaking contemporary Japanese. Artemis wasn't about to tell her that.

"This may not be as much fun as I thought. Oh well."

In Heathrow Airport Minako had had a stroke of luck. Her English was pretty bad but she'd run into an exchange student returning from Japan. His Japanese was still fairly shaky but they'd been able to understand one another and he'd helped her find a bus into town. Once there he'd helped her find the house Artemis had arranged for her to stay. They'd exchanged phone numbers. Alan had told her he knew what it was like to find yourself floundering in a foreign country. He told her she could call him if he needed help. Alan was a nice guy, very cute too. Admittedly several years older than her, being a university student. She had just settled in when the compact began beeping.

Calcite returned from his first London mission feeling a little shaky. The field augmenter needed work. But it had worked, Sailor V was there. Mission accomplished. Just in time too. Jaedite was about to begin energy draining operations in Juban town.

A few days later Minako was using her communicator to talk to Artemis. "... and Alan's got this beautiful blue eyes and these wonderful broad shoulders and I think he really likes me!"

Artemis looked very sourfaced. "Thank you, that's very useful."

"Huh ... oh right Calcite. Well he showed up today at the London Museum but I chased him off. I think he's weaker in this country."

Meanwhile at the museum the police were trying to make sense of the eyewitness reports. Stories about monsters, men in black with red eyes and laserbeam throwing masked girls in miniskirts tended to strain their credulity. Policewoman Katrina DeWitt heard a lot of the stories as she dealt with crowd control. She should be in there asking questions, but she'd been busted from detective after running afoul of the old boys network. There was something fascinating about this, there had been similar reports a few days earlier.

In the Dark Kingdom Magnesite was finishing showing the latest recordings Calcite had made of his battles with Sailor V. "As your majesty can see Sailor V has been removed from the operations area. Additionally she is clearly a different individual from the one who ruined Lord Jaedite's plan."

Queen Beryl nodded, "Yes, you have carried out my orders Magnesite." She smiled, "Continue the operation, it is amusing to see this Sailor V chasing shadows." She turned to Jaedite. "You were charged with collecting human energy from the zone, if you cannot handle that ..."

"Of course I can you majesty. This Sailor Moon is nothing to worry about. You need not hand responsibility for her over to Magnesite."

"Very well. I will hold you to that. Zoisite!"

"Your majesty?"

"There is something I want you to find for me."

"I live but to serve you."

"Never forget that."

Magnesite was dismissed. He had shown her Majesty his dependability and Jaedite had been shown up. Things were looking good. He'd better go see Calcite.

Meanwhile at Calcite's home Pyrite was finishing fiddling with the VCR. "Okay I think the power flow from the generator will approximate the electricity these things need."

Azurite was studying a videocase, "So tell me again how you stumbled across this?"

"Well I was doing a tour around London planning my next caper. I still had two hours before things got critical. Suddenly I saw Magnesite's face in the window of this store. Turns out it wasn't Magnesite of course, just this human actor who'd looked like him. Still it was fascinating so I bought the tape and acquired the devices that would run it."

(An electronics store in London.

"So let's get this straight. This bloke says he wants the top of

the line VCR and TV. You bring them out. There's a flash of light and

he and the machines are gone. All that's left is a bag containing about

five pounds of gold?"

"Errr yes."

"Fairly unorthodox sale but we can't complain. Must have been an

eccentric millionaire.")

"Ok I think we're ready."

"You said that an hour ago", Titanite commented.

"This time for sure." Pyrite said with more confidence than he felt. "Here goes!"

There was a whir and human lettering began crawling across the screen. It took their translators a moment to synch in then it became clear.

Calcite stood up suddenly. He'd sensed someone teleport to the front gate. Then he heard the telepathic call. A moment later he was unsealing the door. "Welcome Lord Magnesite."

Magnesite strode in. "Greetings Calcite, I have just had an audience with her majesty ... what is that sound?"

"A ... human artifact that shows their fictions. I have been studying these things to help my trips to the surface world."

"I would see this device."

"Of course my Lord." This could be trouble.

Everyone leapt to their feet when Magnesite entered. He acknowledged their salutes then studied the screen. Then gasped, "That's me!"

"No Lord, merely a human who bears a resemblance to you."

"I see, why is there no color?"

"When this was made humans could not film color. They can now."

"Interesting. I will watch this."

"Of course."

A tense hour and a half followed. At the end of which Magnesite nodded in appreciation. "Such a handsome fellow. Are there other ... movies you called them, of his?"

"I believe so."

"Excellent. You can acquire them on your future trips to London. Her majesty wishes to continue the Sailor V operation. Despite the appearance of this Sailor Moon."

"Very good my Lord."

Magnesite nodded. "I'll be taking this apparatus for further study." Calcite nodded. "By the way what was his name again?"

"Bogart, Humphrey Bogart."

Magnesite nodded. At his gesture Calcite picked up the case for "The Maltese Falcon", tossed it onto the pile of equipment and picked the whole awkward mess up. Then Calcite removed the locks keeping unauthorized visitors from teleporting in or out of the house and vanished along with Magnesite.

Pyrite shrugged, "Look on the bright side, at least he liked the film." He studied the place the electronics had stood. "A very neat invention."

In London a few days later policewoman Katrina Dewitt was chasing a suspect. He'd attacked a group of japanese tourists going for the teenage girls among them. He'd been screaming something about Sailor V not spoiling it this time. Apparently puzzled by their lack of resistance he'd run when she challenged him.

The youma named Tural was aware he was in a lot of trouble. Lord Calcite had told him to wait while he took care of some matters. Then he'd spotted the tourist, reasoned since they were the same nationality as Sailor V she must be among them, and attacked. Now he was being chased by someone of unknown capabilites. Worse he was straining himself, he'd been warned that if his forceshield collapsed he'd die very quickly. He needed some breathing room. Then he saw the child.

Katrina saw the attacker grab a six yar old girl and hold a large knife against her throat. She froze. Then the man's shape began to change. Tural had realised he could conserve energy by dropping the glamour. Katrina stared at the thing before her in disbelief. It couldn't be real. It smiled showing its fangs and looked down at the child it held.

Then something slammed into the monster knocking its grip from the child. The masked girl bounced clear with the former hostage. The impact stunned Tural and his shield collapsed. He had a few seconds to howl before he dissolved in the hostile environment.

Katrina saw the rescuer gently put the hostage down. "Sailor V, I presume."

She smiled and that was how it began.

Not far away, holding a stack of video equipement and currently dressed like a local, Calcite was looking around for Turbal. Where was that idiot? Then he felt the flare of youma disintegration. Seemed he'd found Sailor V. Calcite scrubbed today's mission. Things might not be a total loss, the sensor he was carrying would have picked up on Turbal's death. Time to get his wildcard plan in gear.

Later in the Dark Kingdom Pyrite studied the sensor crystal. "So you want to know if it's possible to adapt ourselves to survive outside the zones?"

Calcite nodded. "I realise it's a long shot but I'd like you to try it. I got the idea when I heard Zoisite was hunting for the Silver Crystal. That's the thing that created the Dark Kingdom. Now if it shows up and falls into the wrong hands ..."

"It could be goodbye Dark Kingdom forever?"

"Right. So if that's the case I'd like a way out."

"We could survive in the zone."

"Except that's starting to fill with Sailor Warriors. As in people who don't like youma and are expert in killing us."

"Two is not full."

"I concede the point. Still do you have anything better to do?"

"What the hell, I enjoy a challenge. I'll do it after I rig up the new VCR. So what did you bring back?"

"The films that inspired me, the Star Wars trilogy. I've also got 'Treasure of Sierra Madre' for Magnesite."

Speaking of the zone, a few weeks later in Juban Town Artemis was staring at his communicator in disbelief. "You told this Katrina your real name?"

"Well yes, it's making things a lot easier for me. I'm learning a lot from her. Since Calcite's only showing up about once a week I've been helping her with regular criminals. Big sister Katrina's a good person, don't worry Artemis."

"Minako ..."

"So how's everything in Juban?"

"Under control I guess. Despite how much Luna complains about Sailor Moon she keeps getting the job done. Anyway Sailor Mercury counterbalances Sailor Moon's weak points. I don't know enough about Sailor Mars yet, she just appeared yesterday."

"Great. Well I'm meeting Alan for lunch. Bye."

"Bye." Just what is the Dark Kingdom doing?, Artemis wondered. This Jaedite character (can he possibly be the original one?) is trying to drain human life force. Calcite wasn't, what is Calcite doing? What was he missing?

London a few weeks later. "Here's your copy of 'Casablanca' sir."

"Thank you." Calcite thought about Pyrite for a second. "Say do you have anything with people who talk in a babble of technical terms and keep pulling miracles out at just the right time?"

"Star Trek's on that rack in back."

"I'll try that then." It had been a fairly good day. The standard, "next time I'll defeat you Sailor V" routine, followed by an abrupt disappearance. Still thirty minutes left before his shield went critical.

Back home he found Pyrite wasn't in. Azurite had said he'd been spending too much time on the project and dragged him off. Probably just as well, it was a real longshot anyway. "Anyway Ti, I'm told human kids your age like cartoons so I thought I'd pick a few up for you. Here."

"Thanks Cal, I'll watch it later." Titanite studied the box marked "Akira" then put it aside. Weeks later Calcite would realize this was the day that started his sister's anime obsession. Pyrite's Trek obsession didn't begin until the following day. In the meantime Calcite had to deliver a video to his boss.

On entering Magnesite's sanctum he noticed a few changes. The statue of the black bird on the desk, the trenchcoat Magnesite was wearing, the psuedo cigarettes. "Ah Calcite, good to see you." Magnesite seemed jubilant.

"Ah, your new movie sir, also I have a status report to deliver."

"Good. Today is a great day!"

"It is?"

"Jadeite just got the Eternal Sleep."


Magnesite looked very happy. "He screwed up one time too many, blew his last chance at redemption and got the crystal treatment." Frozen into a giant crystal, immobile, no senses and yet alive and aware. The ultimate in sensory deprivation. Very nasty. "Think I should try for his place?"

Alarm bells screamed through Calcite's mind. "That would be unwise. The remaining generals would probably band together against a newcomer. Better the devil you know."

"I suppose. Well Nephrite's taken over the operation. Wonder if he'll do any better."

"I don't think so."


"He's smarter than Jadeite but he's just as arrogant. He'll also underestimate the Sailor Warriors because of their youth. Besides like Jadeite he's rusty after centuries of doing nothing but maintaining his position. I'm very careful not to underestimate Sailor V."

"Allright. Say we should see about finding out who she is under that mask."

"I'll look into it sir."


Calcite teleported home and entered his study. He opened his desk and looked at the photograph of Minako Aino. Finding out her identity had been simple. Sailor V was often in the company of a policewoman by the name of Katrina DeWitt. The same woman was often in the company of a Japanese exchange student name of Minako Aino. She was the right age, build and appearance to be Sailor V and had shown up a few days after Lord Calcite announced he would head for England. Calcite had decided to keep this from Magnesite for the time being. There was a buzz of English voices from the viewing room, Ti must be watching her video.

Two weeks later Calcite arrived home to find the others waiting. He shook his head, he was developing the theory that television was a subtle human weapon to addict youma. He put "The Big Sleep" aside for Magnesite, gave Ti her anime tapes and Pyrite his trek tapes. Azurite hadn't become obsessed with television. However she had developed a fondness for certain magazines. He handed over her copies of "Vogue" and "American Survivalist". It was fairly crazy, he thought, this obsession with human culture. Different as we are this stuff isn't our culture. Anyway enough time wasting, he'd picked up the director's cut of "Bladerunner" and was taking over the TV. The difference between him and his kindred was that he could give this stuff up anytime he liked.

Life settled into a pattern for both Sailor V and Calcite. Once a week he'd show up and run some scheme, she'd defeat it and he'd exit quickly. Strangely enough Nephrite was operating the same way against Sailors Moon, Mars and Mercury. The difference being that he wasn't planning to lose. Getting into a routine almost killed Calcite.

Titanite heard her brother materialize and went to meet him. She forgot to ask if he'd picked up Dominion when she got a good look at him. There was a healing burn on the left side of his face. He dropped his helmet, it had a matching gouge in the side. He also dropped the briefcase he'd been carrying. He slumped into a chair and groaned. He'd got careless, got too used to the routine. It had been too damn close for comfort. He had to give these situations his full attention. Remember Jaedite and Nephrite are more powerful and they couldn't beat other Sailor Warriors.

His perceptions were off because of the shock. Which is why he didn't pick up the intruder until it was too late. White furred arms ending in lethal claws wrapped around his neck.

This didn't panic Calcite as much as it would most people. A voice purred in his ear, "Hello stranger."

He looked up into the face smiling down at him, he began feeling better. "Hello Margrave."

If you genespliced Kathy Ireland and a white persian cat you might have produced something like Margrave. OK you probably wouldn't but hopefully that conveys the idea. Margrave had a body that would have fascinated a great many human males. Until they realized that it wasn't a costume, the fur grew from her skin. Or they noticed the claws emerge from the recesses on her fingers. Or saw her grin exposing her razor sharp fangs and realized those weren't weird contacts the pupils of her eyes were elongated. Having grown up in the Dark Kingdom Calcite had a different set of standards with regards to women. He'd seem a lot stranger in his time.

"Auntie Margrave dropped by, she asked me to keep it secret." Margrave was the only non-renegade youma Titanite saw on a regular basis. How she had failed to recognise Titanite as what she was remained a mystery. Calcite thought Margrave must like Titanite for some reason. Azurite put it down to stupidity.

"Like the kid said, I wanted to surprise you. Mind if we go discuss a few things?"

"My pleasure. Ti your tapes are on top in the case, put "Key Largo" aside for Magnesite, the magazines got to Azurite and the other junk is Pyrite's." In addition to the tapes that included the sensor crystals he'd seeded a few weeks earlier.

"Don't wait up."

Some time later in a small glade near the Screaming Forest they talked. The noise produced by the forest was supposed to sound like humans being tortured. Calcite generally found it a depressing place but Margrave liked the ambiance. She'd added her own screaming to the cacophony not long ago. Now she ran a hand over Calcite's chest and asked, "What are you thinking about?"

"Just wondering if my back was healed actually."

Margrave pulled her hand back and watched the claws slid in and out of her fingertips. "Sorry, I do tend to lose control. Roll over and I'll take a look." He turned and she studied the blue stained gashes. "They've all closed up. I'll just clean the blood up."

He felt her tongue slid over the clawmarks. A fairly enjoyable sensation although he could do without the injuries in the first place. Still play with fire and you inevitably get burned. An attitude Azurite had never been able to stand.

"So did you really want to talk?"

"Actually yes. I wanted your advice."


"Well with Jadeite gone like the rest of his legion I'm out of a job. Think I should join Nephrite's army?"

"No, I think Nephrite's not going to last much longer. Zoisite's next in line but he's only lasted this long with Kunzite's backing. On his own he'll screw up and get himself killed. Which will screw up Kunzite and probably bring him down."

"So when's Magnesite making his move?"

"Not until the old guard are gone."

"On your advice, yes? Look at me, I know Magnesite wouldn't make a major move without consulting you."

"Yes, you're very observant."

"Thank you. Think you can get me into your group?"

"We'll be expanding soon. I'm sure I can find you a place." She purred.

Back at his house Pyrite was studying the sensor crystals. "So Cal didn't wait for us?"

"Auntie Margrave dropped by and ..."

"Auntie Margrave!" Azurite was furious. "I don't believe this everytime she shows up he stops thinking and follows her like ..." Pyrite gave her a "not in front of the kid" look and she shut up. She wasn't sure why they tiptoed around the subject of sex in Titanite's presence. Hell, both she, Pyrite and Calcite had been younger when they lost it. Maybe because Ti looked so... so damn innocent. Besides confined to this house she was looking at a fairly celibate life.

Calcite reappeared sometime later. He looked a lot better than he had on returning from Earth. "Enjoy yourself?", Azurite asked somewhat acidly.

"Yes, very much so."

"Cal, I've said it before and I'll say it again. You are out of your mind messing around with her! She's not one of us, she's pure youma! She was spying on you for Jadeite all along. Now he's gone she's trying to get you to give power in Magnesite's force."

"Of course, as you say she's pure youma. What else would she want?"


"I can't be smart about everything. So what do you think Pyrite?"

"I think theoretically it's possible. We'd need to set up a new gate into the zone. This one would be designed to alter youma who pass through it. A small adjustment at the subatomic level and we'll be able to exist anywhere on the planet."

"OK work it out on paper. Don't try to implement it for real. Right now this is still just a vague hope.

A little later Azurite was looking over the plans for Lord Calcite's newest plan. "So she comes in to stop you and falls into this deathtrap. Then she escapes and wrecks your cosmic whatever gizmo. What's the problem?"

"The trap might be a little too good. I could kill her."

"That's a problem."

Calcite's eyes lit up, "But I just came up with the solution. According to the stuff I've seen on Juban there's some guy named Tuxedo Mask who keeps showing up when things look bad for the Sailor Warriors."


"So if I'm already playing the villain there's no reason I can't be the hero as well."


A few days later Minako was treading water and wondering if she'd finally run into more than she could handle. The trail had lead to an abandoned watertower. When she'd entered the door had sealed and the valves had opened. She'd tried to blast her way out and found the interior of the place was mirrored. Her beam bounced around, nearly striking her until it expended it's energy on the water. So now she was floating and watching the roof get closer. Another five minutes and there'd be no breathing room left. This wasn't fair!

Then she saw movement to her side. The blade cut through the side of the tank without resistance. A large circle of metal dropped away and water began pouring out. Caught in this current Minako headed for the hole. Just how high up was she?

As she plunged through the hole someone grabbed her arm and hauled her out of the stream. Her rescuer hung on an outside access ladder with one hand and gripped her right arm with the other. He swung her up onto his back and grunted "Hold on!" The waterlogged Minako clung on as he climbed down the ladder very fast. They arrived on the ground, he squatted down and she released her grip. She got her first real look at him. He wore grey body armour over a grey jumpsuit. Grey boots, grey gloves, grey mask, grey hair, grey eyes, even a greyish tinge to his complexion. "You reasonably OK?" She managed to nod. "Fine, stay here. This is man's work!" A sword appeared in his right hand. Not surprisingly it was also grey. Moving at a speed she could match but few others could he headed for the pumping station. A series of strange lights, explosions and noises followed. After a while things went quiet again. He emerged from the station limping slightly. "He got away. I almost had him. Wrecked the gizmo anyway!"

Minako tried to talk. "Sailor V."

"Yes I suppose life's like that sometime."

What? Oh yes, Alan had pulled that same awful "Cest le vie" pun on her. Or was he serious? "No, that's my name, Sailor V."

He looked at her. "Well I suppose that makes sense to you."

"Who are you?"

"If I wanted people to know who I am I wouldn't wear a mask."

"Sailor V's not my real name, what do they call you?"



"It seemed appropriate."

"Sailor V?" The call came from the other side of some pipes.

"Big sister Katrina!"

"She's with you?"


"Fine, then she can take care of you." With that he headed away in a series of superhuman leaps.

Katrina emerged in time to see him depart. "Who's that?"

"He calls himself Gray. Whoever he was he saved my life."

Not far away Gray dropped a smoke grenade and disappeared within the cloud. When Calcite reappeared a mile away he was wearing his blonde tourist look. So far so good. He spent half an hour gathering supplies then teleported to Salisbury Plain. He stepped through the gate, bounced through the Juban gate and appeared in the Dark Kingdom. Magnesite was waiting. He looked very happy.

"Calcite, great news!"

"My Lord?"

"Nephrite's dead!"

"I see, so her majesty ..."

"No, no, no. The idiot fell for a human girl and was executed for treason by Zoisite's hit squad. Fool. Now we wait for Zoisite to destroy himself. This is a good day. By the way this is a list of human weapons I'd like you to obtain."

"I'll do my best, they have these laws ..."

"You'll find a way."

"Very good my Lord." Calcite teleported home. He stood in the arrival chamber for a time and thought about Nephrite and his death. After a while he whispered, "I wonder if you were my father?" According to his mother he'd been one of the two possibilities. The slightly preferrable one.

Meanwhile Minako was talking to Artemis on her communicator. After her report Artemis said, "I wonder if this Gray character is connected to Tuxedo Mask."

"Who? Oh right, the guy who helps the other Sailor Warriors."

"Actually he seems to be concerned with Sailor Moon rather than the other two. Anyway he always shows up with things look bad. Initially he didn't do much but he's started fighting youma. We still don't know who he is, why he interferes or the source of his powers."

"Well Gray's got a London accent so he must be a local. Though I don't know why he chose to fight Calcite."

Speaking of Calcite he had emerged from the arrival chamber. Azurite was waiting for him. "So how'd it go?"

"Good." Calcite touched the leather band on his wrist. His jeans and t-shirt shifted to his normal uniform. Azurite looked a little startled. Looked like Pyrite hadn't shown her his latest invention. "This little beauty rearranges treated fabrics into preprogrammed forms. This has four designs. You've seen two, the others ..." He touched it again and was wearing his Lord Calcite outfit, another touch and he was wearing the Gray disguise. A third touch and he was wearing his standard uniform.


"Guess Pyrite's planning to surprise you with your model."

"Why do I need one?"

"Because I need to establish that Gray and Lord Calcite are different people. If Sailor V never sees them together she might smell a rat. So how do you feel about transvestism?"

"Meaning you need a stand-in as Calcite while you're playing Gray."

"Right, with enough force your wind control can pass for my shock blast."

"Aren't you worried she'll figure Gray's got the same powers as Calcite?"

"No. I haven't used my psychoplasm powers as Lord Calcite. I was saving them for emergency use only. So she's never seen Calcite pull swords or knives out of nowhere. Look you don't have to do this, it's dangerous and may not work. I can try using an illusion of Calcite."

"Don't be silly that wouldn't work. Hell, I'm curious about the surface world."

The following week Minako found herself racing down a tunnel flanked by Gray. He seemed to like to say as little as possible. Four crystal spheres covered in spikes popped out of the floor and flew towards them. Before she could start zapping long thin blades appeared between Gray's fingers. He flung them at the onrushing drones. The blades penetrated the spheres and exploded. Bits of crystal bounced off his body armour. Not for the first time Minako wondered at the practicality of the Sailor Warrior uniform. It was great for attracting guys' attention but as combat and cold weather gear it was certainly lacking in protection.

Calcite was waiting for them at in the hall. Gray said "Stand back and leave this to the grownups", pulled a sword out of nowhere and leapt at Calcite. Halfway there a small hurricane struck him and slammed him into the wall. So much for leave it to him. Calcite was standing there waiting for her. Minako knew from past experience the Cresent Beam wouldn't finish Calcite. if he was standing there to draw her fire what was he distracting her from?

There! The right hand wall glowed slightly. She blasted it, through the hole she could see another Dark Kingdom mechanism. Behind her she heard Calcite howl in rage. "CRESENT BEAM!" The thing shattered before her bolt, breaking apart into fragments that collapsed into dust. Calcite glared at her and disappeared. There was a groan and Gray pulled himself free of the wall. He looked shaken but otherwise unhurt. She couldn't resist, "Very good move, especially the part where you embedded yourself in the wall."

In a tone of wounded dignity he replied, "I was attempting to lull him into a false sense of security."

"It worked. He thought you were out of action."

Gray glared at her and limped away. He ducked into an alcove. She saw grey smoke billowing out. When it cleared there was no sign of Gray. She shrugged and headed home.

The next few weeks passed in similar fashion. Calcite showed up, tried something and she stopped him. Sometimes Gray appeared to help her out of Calcite's traps or to overcome Calcite. Of course sometimes she had to save his hide when he overdid it. She still knew little about Gray and he didn't volunteer any information. One time after a one of their battles she'd asked about his name.

After a moment he'd told her. "Things are rarely black and white, there's a lot of grey areas out there. I'm one of them."

"How so? You fight the bad guy which makes you a good guy right?"

"But vigilantism is wrong, private individuals taking the law into their own hands undermines society."

But ... but who else could fight these people?"

"Exactly! It's a grey area."

"You're a strange guy."

"You're far from a normal teenager."

Still his help was welcome, big sister Katrina and Alan were always there for her so life was pretty good. Except that Artemis wanted her to come back.

"Look Minako can't you leave that Gray guy to fight Calcite? Things are getting fairly serious over here."

"They just got a fourth warrior right. Things must be under control."

"Well yes but this rainbow crystal business is major. I think they're the key to finding the Silver Crystal."

"But you don't know that, or if Gray can handle Calcite on his own?"

"Well ... no."

"So I'm staying." The connection broke.

"Maybe you're right", Artemis mused. But he'd developed an ugly suspicion about Lord Calcite. Juban seemed to be where all the real action was taking place. First the energy draining, now the rainbow crystal hunt. Both Jadeite and Nephrite had fouled up too much and been replaced. What exactly had happened to Jadeite was unknown but Artemis didn't expect him to be back. Calcite had been failing continually for a longer period and he was still around. Part of Minako's function as Sailor V was a decoy for youma hunting the Moon Princess. Suppose Calcite was the youma equivalent? A fake youma boss designed to keep Sailor V busy? Or was he wrong and Calcite was a real menace?

He didn't know? What was he supposed to do?

Back in the Dark Kingdom the rainbow crystals were also on Calcite's mind. Each was soul bonded to the reincarnation of one of the seven great demons. Zoisite was charged with finding them. So far he'd located four though he hadn't retrieved many of them. Still how had he found so many? "I don't get it Pyr. There are billions of people in the world. What are the odds that four of them would show up in the only place in the world Zoisite can search. For that matter what are the chances that all the Sailor Warriors would also show up in the same area?"

Pyrite smiled the way he did when he was the only one with the answer. "The odds are a lot higher than you'd think. In fact I don't think they could have manifested anywhere else."


Pyrite spun his globe and tapped the zone. "While the polar zone was created by the Kingdom's return the Juban zone was already here. It's the synchronistic point of the planet."

"Which means? Try and keep it simple."

"Basically the zone is a magnet for every parnormal event that could happen in the world. It's impossible for these events to happen anywhere else on the planet. If it's truly abnormal and it has to happen it has to happen here."

"Meaning that the remaining three crystals must be in there somewhere."

"You've got it. By the way I'm running low on those field augmenters. Before long you'll be unable to survive in England."

"Frankly I'm amazed the operation's still going. It was originally set up to get the only Sailor Warrior out of the way of operations. And to find out if she was this Moon Princess."

"Is she?"

"I doubt it. Anyway now that there's four of them running around Juban it's sort of pointless."

In the throne room Queen Beryl was talking to Magnesite. He'd ditched the Bogart mannerisms for this audience. She had recollected the Sailor V business, time to wrap it up. "So you are convinced Sailor V is not the Moon Princess."

"Yes your majesty."

"Very well, destroy her. The game has ceased to amuse me."

"As you command your majesty."

The next day Pyrite was working in his lab when Magnesite appeared. Fighting down a rising panic he managed to say, "You honour me by your presence in my humble ..."

"Shut up and give me a field augmenter."

"Here sir, its ready to go if you just ..."

"Has Calcite gone through?"

"I believe so ..."

Magnesite vanished. Pyrite tried to figure what the hell had just happened. Thankfully Magnesite hadn't known what he was working on.

Calcite watched through binoculars as Katrina and Sailor V headed for the garage. The clues at his last caper had lead there. Inside they'd find the evidence to lead them to his new lair. Everything was going like clockwork.

Minako nodded to Katrina to stay outside as backup and dashed inside. The garage was dark, empty and ... and someone just opened a door. She spun to fire and saw it wasn't Calcite. The figure wore a trenchcoat and fedora, like a detective in one of those old Hollywood films. Something dropped from his hand and bounced across the floor. What was it?

HAND GRENADE! The figure vanished, Minako dived for the windows.

Katrina was knocked away by the explosion. Her head cleared and she saw the blazing ruin before her. "MINAKO!" Even as she screamed she knew it was useless. Nothing was coming out of that alive!

Calcite dropped the binoculars in shock. What just happened? Did she blast a petrol can and send the whole place sky high? Then he sensed the teleport energy. He found the source and warped to the point of appearance. "WHAT THE HELL DID YOU JUST ... Lord Magnesite?"

"Morning Cal, it certainly is bright in this world."

"Good Morning Lord, Errr ... this was my operation."

"Her Majesty decided she wanted it ended."

"So you decided you'd prefer it if you were the one to conclude the operation."

"I knew you'd understand. Well, shall we go."

"As you command."

"Never forget that."

Had they stayed they'd have been very surprised. Minako managed to open her eyes and stagger up. She'd blasted the boarded windows and got out just before the place blew up. She was bruised and bleeding but it was nothing terminal. She heard Katrina call her name and was about to answer when she saw Alan arrived. Katrina collapsed against him and cried. She heard him say , "It'll be alright, I'm always here for you." A lot of things clicked and she finally understood. Alan didn't love her, he loved Katrina. It made sense, they were a lot closer in age. She was probably never more than a kid sister to Alan. This hurt a lot more than her injuries. She staggered away. When she was out of sight she fished out the communicator. Luckily it was still functioning.

Artemis stared at her image. "Minako, what happened!"

"I'm coming back. Make the arrangements."

This was a drastic change. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing ... Everything. Look do you want me back or not you stupid cat?!"

"Uhm, yes, yes of course. I'll hack into the right systems and you'll find a ticket waiting at Heathrow."

"Fine ... oh and Artemis ..."


"Sailor V is dead, from now on I'm Sailor Venus."

Back in the Dark Kingdom; "Not your fault Cal, why rip yourself apart?"

"You're right Azura. Hell it couldn't have ended any other way could it? At least I didn't get ordered to kill her. Such a waste." He sighed, "So anything new?"

"Zoisite just got the fifth crystal."

"Guess he's improving."

A bit over a week later Magnesite summoned Calcite to his sanctum. He looked worried. "Watch this!"

Calcite observed as Kunzite and Zoisite's attempt to gain the rainbow crystals in Tuxedo Mask's possession came to a dismal end. The cause of the disaster? The fifth Sailor Warrior, Sailor Venus.

"It's her isn't it. I didn't kill her after all."

"Looks that way sir."

"What are we going to do?"

"We? I don't recall telling Queen Beryl I'd just terminated Sailor V."

"Don't give me that crap! I'll take you down with me, I swear it."

"Calm down." Calcite considered. "We'll just have to hope Zoisite's continued failures distract her majesty from the origin of this new Sailor Warrior. Luckily the costume's different and she's stopped wearing the mask."

"Think that's enough?"

"Our options are fairly limited. I'll head back to England long enough to confirm Sailor V is listed as dead. If I go as Gray I can tie up a few loose ends."

"Get on with it then."

"As you command." Calcite disappeared.

A week later the renegades were meeting at Calcite's home. Azurite looked at him, "So what's up this time?"

"Zoisite's dead, her majesty executed him this afternoon."

"Not to put too fine a point on it, so what? The guy had no redeeming qualities."

Pyrite added, "I guess the rumours were true."

"What rumours?"

"That Queen Beryl liked him. She executed him rather than giving him the eternal sleep."

"That's one way to look at it. Anyway the reason he got executed was for allowing the Silver Crystal to fall into the Sailor Warriors hands. Sailor Moon appears to be the reincarnation of the Moon Princess."

"As in the person who can use the damn thing and maybe blow the whole Dark Kingdom away?"



Calcite looked at them. "It's a great danger, but this is also our greatest opportunity. The chance to escape from the Dark Kingdom." They all stared at him. "Pyrite, you think you can get the modified gate working?"

"Yeah, it'll work in theory. Once we pass through it we'll be able to live anywhere in the human world. But the only place we'll be able to open a gate to is the zone."

Titanite frowned. "Couldn't we just stay in the zone?"

"Yes. But if the Kingdom's destroyed that means the Sailor Warriors have won. They live in the zone and kill youma on sight. It's not a good environment to stay in."

Azurite looked at him. "So where do we go from the zone?"

"England for starters. I've learned enough of the customs to fit in. It's too far to teleport from Japan so we'll have to use local transport."

"That'll require a lot of human documentation, money and so on."

Calcite smiled, "I'll arrange that. If I gate into Juban and control the right people we'll have all the material we need."

"Couldn't we just use the Stonehenge gate again?"

"Sorry Azura, that only works when you start from the Dark Kingdom."

"Scuse me Cal ..."

"What Pyr?"

"Where do I build the gate? It's got to be somewhere everyone avoids and with masking shift radiation."

"I know just the place."

The Hall of Eternal Sleep was open to everyone. Queen Beryl thought it made a good object lesson. It was one of the most avoided places in the Kingdom. Telepaths who approached the imprisoned tended to go mad. So there was no one to interfere when Calcite, Pyrite and Azurite concealed Pyrite's equipment there.

Azurite looked around, it was the first time she'd been here. There weren't many occupants. You had to really screw up for Queen Beryl to dump you here rather than simply kill you. The newest crystal held a familiar face. She almost felt sorry for Jadeite, all those centuries of holding onto power just to end up as an exhibit. Almost.

"So now what?"

Calcite sighed, "Now? We wait. If we jump before the Sailor Warriors attack Beryl will have us tracked down and killed."

"If they attack, if they win, lot of ifs."

"True. But we've got better odds than any other heretic had. For now we wait."

It was a month later when Kunzite confronted Magnesite. "Listen you little maggot, it's obvious to me Sailor V and Sailor Venus are one and the same. Now I won't bring that little fact to her majesty's attention if you give me a way to use whatever you learned against the Sailor Warriors."

Magnesite summoned Calcite. Cal made a quick calculation of his chances of taking out Kunzite. Realized they stunk and made a quick decision. "There was a policewoman by the name of Katrina DeWitt who was a good friend of Sailor V. Perhaps she knows Sailor V's real name."

"She lives in the zone?'

"She can be brought there."


"If you'll permit me to cross over and make a few phonecalls ..."


Calcite headed for the gate. At least this way the Sailor Warriors would have a chance. He already knew the identity of all five. It had been simple really. On a clandestine visit to Juban a few weeks earlier he'd spotted Minako Aino. From there it was a simple matter of observing her friends and matching them to the profiles of the Sailor Warriors. Hopefully they'd attack the Dark Kingdom before DeWitt got to Juban.

Unfortunately the Sailor Warriors still hadn't located the gate. Without it they couldn't find the Dark Kingdom to counterattack it.

Receiving an anonymous call that Minako was alive and currently operating as Sailor Venus Dewitt had immediately checked the information. Shaken she'd taken vacation time and got the first plane to Tokyo. Alan would have come but she insisted he complete his exams. Shortly after arrival in the zone she'd been possessed by one of Kunzite's youma.

Back in the Kingdom Calcite dropped the items he'd had completed while Earthside. Azurite leafed through the passport, the picture was awful. According to it she was a British citizen who'd entered on a month long visa two weeks earlier. Matching records existed in various databases in both Japan and Britain. It had taken several clandestine trips but he had done it.

"Why two weeks from now?"

"Because Metallia's very close to awakening. Inside of two weeks it'll all be over one way or the other."

Earthside Minako was talking to the possessed Katrina. She'd been choosing topics that didn't concern Alan or why she disappeared. "So, any news about Lord Calcite?"

"Not a thing since you ... disappeared. Gray was sighted twice. One time he rescued a group of hostages in a bank holdup. The other he came to see me."


"Yes. He announced that he didn't like to take the law into his own hands but had too as few people could deal with paranormal menaces. However since Calcite was gone and showed no signs of being replaced he was retiring for the time being. Until the next menace appeared."

Kunzite's telepathic call rippled through her mind. "Forget this nonsense, find out about the other Sailor Warriors!"

"Minako ..."

But that story's already been told. It ended about as happily as it could. Within a week the Sailor Warriors had relived the destruction of Silver Millenium, killed Kunzite and were about to launch their own assault on the Dark Kingdom.

The renegades had been camping in the Eternal Sleep Chamber since Kunzite died. They knew the Sailor Warriors were coming soon, they wanted to be ready for a fast exit. Several times Calcite had begun talking about making space for a fifth youma, if they found a suitable candidate. Each time Pyrite had told him the gate was attuned for four. If they added extra bodies there was no saying where they'd arrive. If they ever arrived anywhere. Azurite avoided saying anything but she was glad of that fact. Margrave was far too dangerous to either bring along or tell about the gate's existence. She'd be sure to betray their secret to Beryl. Why couldn't Calcite ever recognise Margrave for the menace she was?

There was a loud warbling noise, Pyrite had placed a sensor on the surface at D point to warn of the Warriors arrival. He activated the crystal, it showed the five Warriors standing at D point looking for the entrance to the Kingdom.

Azurite commented, "I will bet those are the first polar explorers to wear miniskirts."

"Not the most practical attire ... hey where's Ti?" Calcite glanced around, he couldn't see his sister.

"She can't have gone far, you know she hates teleporting."

In the throne room Queen Beryl studied the intruders, she seemed amused. Magnesite smiled, this was his moment. Beryl would ask for volunteers to destroy them. He would lead his elite strikeforce to glory. He sent out the telepathic call, "Calcitie, Azurite, Pyrite, join me!"

Nothing happened. He couldn't even sense them. Were they all dead? If they were alive he should have caught a hint of presence. What was going on?

Had Magnesite thought it over he might have realized there was a telepathic blindspot in the Kingdom. The Eternal Sleep Chamber had been blanked to avoid the mental screaming of the sensory deprived inmates from polluting the psi bands.

But Magnesite didn't think of that. He was still scanning when Queen Beryl called for volunteers and the DD Girls took the challenge. His chance for glory gone. How dare they humiliate him like this! Then he sensed the presence at Calcite's home. He teleported there. No one saw him go, the crowd in the audience chamber were all watching the images of the chosen youma taking on the Sailor Warriors.

Titanite found what she'd been looking for. A little earlier she'd realized she'd forgotten her locket. It had been a gift from her brother years ago and contained the only picture of her mother. She could have asked one of the others to teleport home for it but it didn't seem right to endanger them for her mistake. Besides she was tired of being protected all the time. Lots of girls in her tapes had superhuman powers and they didn't take crap from anybody! Of course those were just cartoons and they were about superhumans living among humans, still ... She took a quick look at her anime collection, considered packing it, then pushed the idea aside. Just the necessities. Perhaps when they stopped in Juban she could find original versions instead of the English dubs she'd be watching. Although with neither Japanese or English her native language did it really make a difference? She was heading for the front door when it exploded in her face.

Magnesite strode in. "WHERE IS HE?"

Titanite was stunned by the blast, "What! I don't ..."

Magnesite grabbed her by the throat and shook her, "DON'T GIVE ME THAT YOU LITTLE BITCH, WHERE'S YOUR DAMN BROTHER!" He flung her back down the hallway. Titanite opened her eyes to see Magnesite heading for her. No one else to depend on, just her. She focussed on the area between her hands, a sphere of energy formed. Magnesite noticed and raised a hand at her. Before he could complete the attack her forceball surged forward and slammed him down the hallway. Magnesite slumped by the door. Time to get out of here.

As she passed his body Magnesite woke up. He lashed out and knocked her feet from under her. She hit the floor and felt something grab her hair Then Magnesite slammed her facefirst into the door. It hurt.

She regained consciousness to find Magnesite pinning her against the door. One of his hands gripped her throat, the other held a large knife. He wasn't yelling, his fury had gone from red hot to ice cold. When he was sure she could understand him he said. "It's all your fault isn't it? It was having to watch over you all these years that screwed Calcite up. Well I'm going to solve his little problem. He'll thank me later." He raised the knife, "Feel free to scream."

Titanite closed her eyes and tried to think of something to pray to. The unmistakeable sound of metal into flesh followed.

Titanite opened her eyes, she didn't feel any new pain. Magnesite was standing stock still staring down at the blade emerging from his chest. Calcite stood behind him holding the hilt of the sword. There was a clang as Magnesite dropped his knife. He managed to say "Killed ... me ... for ... a heretic?"

"You protect what you love. I love my sister, I'm also a heretic."

Magnesite made a whining noise and fell over. Titanite began to slump, Calcite caught her. "Let's get the hell out of here!" Lucky he'd guessed right. He could teleport back but Ti didn't handle that well at the best of times. Holding his sister he began to run at his top speed.

Azurite hissed as she saw Ti. "What the hell happened!"

"Magnesite. I just burned all our bridges, he's dead!" So all his evidence against Titanite would be delivered to Beryl shortly.


Pyrite looked away from the crystal ball. "I hate to say it but we may have backed the wrong side." The picture showed Sailor Moon weeping over the remains of Sailor Mars. "She's the only one left."

Calcite managed to repress a curse. "She's the wielder of the Silver Crystal, it can still happen. Stand ready, I'll see if I can speed up Ti's healing." On the screen Queen Beryl summoned Sailor Moon into her presence.

Someone else was looking for Calcite. Margrave had caught his scent heading away as she approached his house. Her powers consisted mainly of her strength, speed and claws but she had a touch of precognition. It was telling her something very bad was about to happen. She had to find Calcite, he'd protect her. She didn't know why he always did, but she knew he would.

The quakes that rocked the Kingdom were the first sign that the final battle had started. Pyrite retuned the crystal to see a Beryl grown to giant size confronting the Moon Princess. It had begun. Calcite managed to shout "TAKE YOUR POSITIONS" before the rumbling drowned out everything. Everyone took their compass point. Titanite took west point, she looked woozy but stood without assistance. Pyrite took east point, Azurite took south point, Calcite took north point. Calcite faced the monitor and watched as they linked hands. The mental link formed, the gate entered standby mode, they waited for Calcite's signal. The crystal showed the escalating battle between light and darkness. The end was near. Calcite faced south so he didn't see Margrave emerge from the north tunnel, Azurite did but quickly flicked her gaze away. It was impossible to hear anything except the crashing of stone. Calcite saw Beryl dissolve before the Silver Crystal's power.

"NOW!" he shouted through the mindlink.

He didn't hear Margrave yell at him to wait, didn't see her leap to join him. He never heard her scream in fury and despair.

The transistion was more unpleasant than he'd ever felt before. Calcite became aware he was lying in an empty park. Azurite was moaning, Pyrite was twitching, Titanite was still. He checked her quickly. Just unconscious, she'd been sick but that was her common reaction to teleporting. This was the placed he'd planted the sensors all those months ago. It was the ideal place to use as reappearance point having been analyzed constantly all this time.

Azurite groaned again and sat up. "I hurt therefore I am. It worked?"

"Well we're here."

"So now what?"

"We pick up our companions and find a hotel. Tomorrow I'll see about getting us a plane to England. But first activate your glamour, blue hair's kind of rare round here". He shifted his from green back to the blonde he'd got used too. Azurite became a redhead.

It was the following afternoon when they boarded the flight to London. Calcite had spent the morning buying them luggage and things to put in it. Thanks to the gold he'd been smuggling into Juban from the Kingdom he had lots of cash stashed in a variety of banks under several aliases. There was another cache waiting in London. Calcite was in a good mood. Everything was under control.

The plane was still climbing when it all fell apart. Calcite recognised the pain. He'd overstayed in London once and felt the pain hit just before he teleported. They were outside the zone and the outside world was still lethal! He grabbed Ti, ripped their seatbelts loose and headed for Azura and Pyr. Pyrite looked lousy, so did Ti, Azurite was still hanging on. Ignoring the stewardesses ordering them to return to their seats he forged a mind link. He teleported dragging the others with him. The disappearance of four passangers rather panicked everyone. So much so that the flight turned back.

Calcite had other worries. They'd reappeared in the park but it wasn't empty now. There had a large crowd watching them. Calcite focussed his mind control powers as never before and broadcast, "YOU DIDN'T SEE ANYTHING UNUSUAL! THERE IS NOTHING REMOTELY INTERESTING ABOUT US! GO ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS!" The crowd broke up, human nature makes people prefer the familiar to the abnormal. Calcite clutched his head and suffered the worst migraine of his entire life. Titanite finished retching and groaned. She really hated teleporting. "What went wrong?", she asked. Nobody answered.

Later, in another hotel, Pyrite had recovered enough to explain. No one was sure if Calcite was listening, he just lay on a bed clutching an icepack to his head. Having to make the desk clerk stop asking about none of them having any luggage hadn't help. Actually they did have luggage but it was in the plane's hold on it's way to England.

Pyrite sighed. "All I can say is I screwed up big time. The Dark Kingdom is gone. Totally gone, as if it never existed in the first place. That threw everything off, including the phase shift field. Bottom line, we're still alien to this world. We can't survive outside the synchronistic zone. Even the field augmenters won't work anymore. Leave the zone and we die."

Azurite looked at him. "So we're stuck here?"

"For the time being. Give me time and I'll figure something out. Someday."

"This is not so bad." Calcite's voice emerged from under the icepack. "Our original need to get out of the zone was based on the presence of the Sailor Warriors. We know four of them are dead. If Sailor Moon escaped when the Kingdom blew I don't know. If she did she should think the youma are extinct."

"So what do we do?"

"When I've recovered I'll fake us a few new identities. We'll keep a low profile and wait for Pyrite to find us a way out of the zone. If everything weird in the world will happen here then it's a good place to get out of. It'll be easier to stay gaijin for the time being. When we understand this society better we can become locals if necessary." Calcite nodded, winced, then said, "I think we'll be all right. The Kingdom is gone, the Sailor Warriors are gone and we remain. There's no reason things shouldn't go smoothly. Now I'm going to heal so don't bother me for the next few hours.

It's a mistake to prophecise with limited information and there was a lot Calcite didn't know. Still he was partially right, things did go smoothly. At least for the following six months.

Dark Kingdom Renegades 1: Refugees

A Sailor Moon Story
by Mark Latus

Part 1 of 7

     Home     Next >>