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A Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon story
Chronicled by Dro'gan NiteFlier

Disclaimer: Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon belongs to Takeuchi Naoko, Koudansha, TV Asahi, and Toei Douga, and DIC, and I would be a supreme idiot for claiming it or any of its affiliated characters.

Foreword: On Timelines: This story is set directly after the Doomtree story arc, but takes place in the alternate universe of "Assassin's Loyalty", and as a sequel to it.

On Names and Postfixes: In this story I use the Japanese names in the Japanese manner. Thus George Bush would be Bush George, and Usagi Tsukino would be Tsukino Usagi. Also, the postfixes -chan, -san, -dono and others appear attached to names. Don't worry if you don't know what they mean. I use them simply for flavor, and like any flavor can be left out without altering the reading (or edibility) too much.

Warning: This chapter gets into several adult situations. You have been warned.

Chapter Six: Information Dissemination

Sunday, without any distractions.

A day that most girls my age would be spending outside, going shopping, playing games, or hanging out with friends.

Like I know several other girls are doing.

I briefly reach out with my mind, and touch Meskira's. She acknowledges it, and returns with a cacophony of emotions. Hope, joy, love, and more. Just by feeling her, I know that the others are with her, all of them having a good time, for Meskira sends her own invitation to me.

I cannot join them, and she realizes why, sorrowfully.

I send my own mélange of emotions to her, then slip out of the slight trance I had entered.

Quickly reassessing my location, I move further into the complex, dispatching any who get in my way.

"Hey, Minako!"

The blond shook her head slightly, and turned to the brunet who was shaking her shoulder. "Huh? Oh!"

Makoto gave a wry grin. "Drifted off from us for a minute there, Mina-chan. Thinking about someone?"

Minako sheepishly smiled. "Yeah, Anhara contacted me for a second."

Makoto blinked. "Contacted you?" The others in the group turned to them at this bit of information.

"Well, yeah…" Minako shrugged at the attention. "She's been doing it off and on ever since that day that she gave Usagi back her memories."

The odangoed blond blinked at this. "So you what, talk to each other?"

Minako shook her head. "Nothing so simple as that. It's more of… Well, I don't know, kind of trading emotions, like I send her what I'm feeling, and she sends me the same. Mostly…." the girl trailed off.

Haruka slid into the seat next to the girl, and the others clustered around. The rest of the Crown was ignored in favor of getting more information on their newest and still somewhat reluctant member. "So can you tell us why she decided to skip out now? We did plan to meet here after that debacle on Friday."

Several of the girls shuddered, not wanting to be reminded of how they learned of Ami's true profession. There had been an uproar at the school upon finding Crow's body, but since there were no identifying marks on him, there was little for the authorities to do.

Minako gave a weak smile. "She's… busy. You know what kind of 'busy'."

The others finally got her meaning, and quieted. Michiru shook her head at it. "And she chose now to contact you? How morbid can she get?"

"It's not like that!"

Everyone blinked at the outburst, especially since it was from Haruka. The older girl looked each of them in the eye. "I told you before that my father was her contact, and you should have figured out what that meant by now. That other assassin, the one she killed, spoke of a 'New Way', but Mercury refused it. The traditions she follows are as old as the Moon Kingdom, both Minako and Usagi remember that, and I've had inklings of it as well. Back then, it was sanctioned by the Queen herself!" She once again looked at each of them, only the other two blonds meeting her gaze. "Does what we know of Queen Serenity make you think that she would sponsor something decrepit as what you all are thinking?"

"The Assassin's Guild was only to target those that were corrupt, those who abused their power over others, and those who were guilty of treason." Usagi picked up from Haruka. "I still don't have all my memories from back then, but I remember that one of the Royal Advisors was an Assassin, and several of the Senshi in the previous generations had been as well. Ami, or Mercury, is merely following in the footsteps of many other Senshi!"

The mood was somber, until Minako abruptly snickered. At their questioning looks, she merely replied, "Mercury was raised by that same Advisor! And I remember what he really was!"

Usagi suddenly broke into laughter as well, while the others looked on, confused.

She was known in this life as "Rabbit". It was a surprisingly accurate description, in my own opinion. Even though there were times she personified her past self, "Serenity", she showed none of the docility that would engender such a name full-time.

I slowly walked up to her, standing on that bridge and looking out at the sunset, wondering upon her name. Like mine, it was what she was, pure and simple.

I reached her side, and leaned against the railing, doing nothing but sharing in her silence as we enjoyed the beautiful twilight.

"It always struck me as odd," she suddenly started. "That such beauty was caused by pollution. Are we not defiling this world? Then how can destruction create splendor?"

I ponder this for a time, as the sky grows dark. "I would think that as there is beauty in creation, so must there be beauty in destruction, for one is merely the cause of the other, no matter which way you place them. A flower grows because other things have placed what it needs into the soil, and taller plants do not block its light. Once the flower dies, it becomes the soil that other flowers may grow on." I pause, looking down at my hands. I know that they are clean, and that they have not a trace of the day's activities on them, but I can still see the blood that weighs on my soul. "I kill. Yet in that, I give rise to other opportunities. Today, I cut off the head of one of the branches of Yakuza in Tokyo. I know that the snake will still thrash, and that it will be eaten up by other snakes, but it is dead, all the same. In that death, it feeds other branches, and too, gives life to new opportunities in more legal pursuits."

I glance up at her face, the last rays of the sun highlighting it. She is deep in thought, perhaps pondering my answer, or perhaps she has moved on to different questions. "Penny for your thoughts?" I ask, knowing that she would have heard the cliché.

She smiles, and turns to me. "So much? Most would have offered just a yen." I shrug and she continues, "I am thinking of the future. What kind of future I can make. We went there, you see, with my daughter to guide us. We fought on the glaciers that this world had become, to save my daughter, and the world above us, Luna." She pointed up, and I can see the crescent moon above us. "I saw cities and lakes and dreams up there, in that future. Yet here I stand, with no insight of how to make it. Destiny says I will, and I have even spoken to my future self, and seen each of us in that future." She paused, then canted her head. "All except you. I took no note of your absence then, for you were not here now. But now that you are here, I wonder why you were not there. I should have asked, but now that I think, the expression upon that future Venus's face when she saw her present counterpart…" She trailed off. "I wonder if she might have wanted to spare her past version pain, but Pluto, and Saturn, and even Uranus, they were always with her, to keep her from speaking, or from running to who knows where, I know not." She sighed, then looked up at the awakening stars. "Two days ago, he proposed a bargain to you. My life for yours. I saw you. You were not only considering it seriously, you looked prepared to make the transaction right there!" She gazes at me again. "You meant your words, didn't you? You would not, and will not swear loyalty, but will do anything for me, from trading your own life to killing hosts of others." She draws a ragged breath, as if trying to hold back tears. "Why? I've told you that you were not there in the future, so what do you think now? Will you not rescind your oath to me, now that you know it means your death?"

I gaze into her eyes, the turn and point to a small dot on the horizon, barely visible among the other stars that speckle the darkening sky. "That dot. It is Mercury, my world. Do you remember then? Even in the Silver Millennium, it was uninhabited save for a precious few. Not because of its short distance from Sol, but because of its desperate cold beneath its concealing clouds." I turn to her, as she stares at the planet. "Each Mercury must survive one full Terran year on that planet to attain the title of Senshi. Alone, without resources, and nearly without hope." I take her hand, forcing her to look at me. "I may not have done so in this life, but I know what I went through then. The one thing that kept me going, when I had been stripped of everything, food, clothes, friendship, shelter, and all else, was the bare, slim hope that I would be able to give my life for the Queen." I take her face in my hands now, and kiss her brow. "My oath was the same then as it is now. I shall give my all in your service, until the day I am struck down defending you."

I see tears in her eyes, and I know that there are the same in mine. I draw a breath, then make a courtly gesture, waving her to proceed me on her way home. She gives a tremulous smile, takes my arm, and we are off.

She has told me of my future, and I will not waver from it.

"You wanted to speak with me?"

Tenmura looked up from the play of children. Ami stood there, with Haruka beside her. It appeared as though both of them had come just from the school. He gave a weak grin and waved to the bench opposite his. Ami settled herself on it, and his daughter sat by him.

"Well, business before pleasure, so…!" He pulled an envelope out of his pocket, and handed it to the young girl. She took it and opened it, shaking out a brass shell. "To put it in western terms, you threw down the gauntlet. This is their way of telling you that they wish a reprieve — for a time." He shook his head. "I don't know when or how they will choose to resume it, or if they will even give warning, but they are begging for you to lay off of them for now."

He watched as the Assassin brought the casing up to her eye, turning it this way and that, as if searching for something. The frown on her face suddenly eased, and placed the shell back into the envelope. "Excuse me for a moment." She closed her eyes in concentration, and Tenmura though he felt something being released. Mercury opened her eyes again, and Tenmura shivered.

"I was followed?" he hazarded. At her nod, he let out a gasp of air. "And I let both you and Haruka…."

The blue-haired girl shook her head. "It is not your fault, Tenmura. How could you have known? Besides…" She held the envelope back to him. Tenmura cautiously took it. "…Just because someone asks for something does not mean that they shall receive it."

Tenmura shuddered. "Well," he began. "Now on to pleasure, I suppose." He turned to Haruka. "My dear?"

The blond looked at Mercury carefully. "We wanted to offer you a… Well, a base of operations, to be frank. Our home is probably better than the apartment that Minako told us about, and no one would take it odd that a policeman had a few firearms." She held up her hand to forestall argument. "We already know that by you living with us we will be in considerable danger if your secret were found out by the Gangs. We don't particularly care, since we have been living under that same danger for years. All we are really asking is for you to trust us." She held out her hand to the younger girl.

Mercury's gaze went from Haruka, to her hand, to Tenmura, and back again. She hesitantly reached out her own, and clasped it. Both Ten'ous broke out in grins, and Mercury slowly followed with her own.

The week passed quickly after that, with everyone pitching in to move Ami from her rundown apartment to the Ten'ou home. By the time the weekend rolled around again, Ami was once again preparing to cast a major spell.

Minako looked around the dusty warehouse, surprise showing on her face that there was this much unused space near the center of Tokyo. She and Ami were here to set up a meeting, but other than that, Minako had been left in the dark. The blond was almost certain that it had nothing to do with the darker side of Ami's life, but she was clueless to what else it might be.

The shorter girl was pacing out a circle in the floor, inscribing it with a line of white chalk. Minako carried several packages of different colored chalk sticks, and something in her memory stirred as she saw the circle, but it was not enough to bring it out into the fore of her mind.

"Say, Anhara, what are we doing, anyway?" Minako asked, hoping to get information from her lover.

"Well, Meskira," Anhara began, "I'm going to need you to draw."

Meskira blinked. "Draw what?"

The blue-haired girl gave a short grin. "This spell was more your area back then, you being the leader and all, but I'm pretty sure I can knock it off on my own. I just need you to draw it, because you know the specifics better than I, and I don't want to waste energy dredging it up when I can just ask you."

Meskira blinked for a few seconds, then the answer snapped into her mind. "You're going to try a Calling!" At the other's nod, she advanced on the girl. "But you remember what Usagi told you about the other times we tried to call the Guardians! The one time that she Called to them without being in danger, Saturn nearly killed us instead!"

Anhara waved placatingly. "I know that, but if you recall, when the Princess did that back then, it was a desperate shout for help! You remember the version that was the polite request!"

Meskira stopped in her steps. She did remember that, now that she thought of it, and with it… "On one condition."

Anhara nodded, "What?"

Meskira held out her hand. "I want my Key."

Anhara's eyebrows shot up. "Remember that, too, eh?" She smiled. "Done! I was going to give them to you and the rest anyway, so why not now?"

Meskira realized that she had wasted a perfectly good bargaining chip, with nothing to gain that was not already going to be hers. "Damn. Well, lets get to work."

A short time later, the diagram was complete, and Anhara stood at its center. The girl drew in a breath, then focused her magic upon the runes drawn on the floor. The glyphs began to glow, and then, suddenly, Anhara was no longer there.

I feel a brief sense of displacement, and suddenly I am surrounded by white mist. I immediately wrap an area of knowledge around myself, and suddenly become intimately acquainted with the vagaries of pure magic.

I groan as I lift myself off of the floor. That had hurt more than I could have believed. Enough that the spell had been canceled out, and my brain had stopped feeding back on itself. Foregoing magic, I spread my more mundane senses out around me, while internally checking myself for damage caused by my recklessness.

As my magic reported that no harm was done to me, so too, do my senses tell me what they can make of the fog that surrounds me.

Walls of white, ever flowing, blocking vision.

Absolute silence. I can even hear my raspy breathing, something so quiet that my heartbeats drown it out.

No smells, save the odors that come from me and my clothes.

The mists make no impact on my skin, I feel as if I stand in a great emptiness, neither hot nor cold.

I growl near silently, but it echoes here. I had meant to ask Pluto to come to me, not the opposite!

I center myself, letting go of my emotions, and extend my primal awareness, something that goes beyond both senses and magic, into the blankness that surrounds me.

There, a feeling of something off, behind me, and to the left. Forty, maybe fifty meters away.

I slowly turn, until I am facing the disturbance, and start walking. I keep my awareness open, knowing that even here, there may be danger.

I close to within five meters, and I start to make out a shape in the mist. Coming closer, I stand before two columns, and I realize, that this is the vaunted Gates of Time.

For the first time since I came to this place, I hear a sound not my own. Footsteps, from behind, coming closer. I stay where I am, trusting that the even, measured steps belong to the one I wished to speak with.

The footsteps stop, some three meters behind me, and I hear her voice, "So powerful, so weak, so young, yet still old."

I growl at her over my shoulder. "I didn't come here for oxymorons, however true or false they might be."

Her laughter is hearty and full. "No, I suppose you did not. Questions you have, and you think that Answers I keep."

"You have answers," I reply. "Just maybe not to my questions."

There is a pause, and I can feel something in the air, almost as if she were holding back a smile. It reminds me of my time with Black, for the same happened with him. I give a wry grin of my own, and turn to face her for the first time in this life.

Dressed in the fuku that Moon templated, she stands easy, the Staff held firmly in hand, but not rested against. Dusky cinnamon skin gives way to emerald hair, tied back in a ponytail and reaching mid-back. Her face is open, and her wide, sky-blue eyes remind me once again of Black.

Not surprising that she does, for she is, after all, his daughter.

She taps the Staff on the ground once, and a hollow, echoing boom resonates from the gray metal. Its sheer sides flow up to an open sphere that has grey spikes that protrude out from the giant garnet inside. A formidable weapon, indeed.

"So," I say, "what questions of mine will you answer?"

"What is on your mind, Anhara?"

My grin grows. She refuses to be led. "Currently? Many things…" I trail off. There was one thing… "Do you see the future? Or merely probabilities of happenings?"

Her smile dims. "Probabilities. Many, many probabilities. Some are strong, strong enough to permit travel to and from, as I did with Usagi of the future, and with the present Usagi and her Senshi. Some… not so probable." She grimaced. "And some that I work diligently to make sure never to come to pass."

I scowl. "So you force the future to happen?"

Pluto gives a short bark of humorless laughter. "No. No one can force the stream of Time where it wills not. To do that would corrupt the very meaning of my post. I merely… prune, as it were. There are times that I do things to help it along, but there have been several times in the past that I have grieved for not doing better." Her eyes close, as if remembering.

I hesitate, for her features quite clearly show pain. "Was it wrong for me to join with Meskira so? Will it cause her more anguish in the future than it is worth?"

Pluto's eyes snap open, "What?!" I flinch back at her tone and volume. "Never! Never ever say that love and hope are worthless, for that is all that the pain of parting is. Has not Usagi taught you better? I grieve for love that was lost before its time, not the love that was dimmed by separation or death."

I am almost physically staggered by her vehemence. "Then as it is!" I rejoin. "I did not say 'love' or 'hope'. I merely asked of her! I know that I will die. That is fact that she has told me; and the timeframe of it, which I did not know." I glare at Pluto, daring her to contradict me.

The Senshi settles her nerves, but frowns. "I will say no more on that subject, then. What other questions did you have?"

I sigh, and gather my composure. "Yourself, and Saturn. Why do you keep away from her? Is it not your duty to her?"

"We have our duty to her, but we have others as well." Pluto smiled lightly, regaining a better mood. "Have we not come as she called?"

I frown, and nod. "Yes, but only as called. Can you not see when you are needed, and arrive at the precise moment?"

"Yes, at least, most of the time. But then, why should we step forward, when there are others that can fulfill our roles as well, if not better? Yourself for instance, when you saved her."

I snort in disgust. "You play pawns, you mean." I turn to the Gate, and study it. "Why did you not come to the circle? Why did you bring me here?"

"That is your last query?" I can hear a soft smile in her voice again. "Very well, here time is unanchored, but there time is bound by strict rules and bindings. How much time has passed for Meskira, do you suppose?"

I frown, and try to reason out that statement. Was not the Gates the ultimate anchor for Time?

Before I can ask, I feel a sudden shift—

Meskira blinked as the light died down. There was Anhara, exactly as she had been a moment ago. The blond looked around for any sign of one of the Guardians. "Where is she? I know I made the circle correctly. She can't take that much time to answer can she—?"

Anhara raised her hand to stop her. "It's alright, Meskira. You made it properly, but instead of coming here, she brought me to her."

"Okay…" Meskira blinked at how tired the blue haired girl looked. "Hey, let's get something to eat, you don't look so good."

Anhara merely nodded, and the twain walked away together.

Pluto stood in the mists, waiting. The Assassin had struck a nerve, and she was still not sure about her composure.

She sighed as a hand was laid on her shoulder. "I'm sorry, White. I didn't mean to…"

"Hush," the other woman said. "You should not feel bad. It has been a long time, but some wounds heal slower than others."

Pluto drew a long breath, and let it go slowly. "So, what did you think of her?"

White smiled. "You were right, but you forgot one: Wise, yet ignorant."

Their soft laughter could be heard far into the mists.

It is surprising to me the occasions that I think of Meskira. At school, or on a normal day, I think of her, but don't try to contact her. I've found, however, a recurring event that goes along with our communication.

I've always been on assignment.

Like now, here in Abashiri, on Hokkaido.

The cold winds whip around me as I climb the outside of the tower, unmindful of my seriousness in their play.

When I had continued killing Yakuza after their "surrender", the remaining leaders fled to the corners of Japan, each hoping, perhaps, that I would pick their fellows over them, or mayhap forget about them all, so far from Tokyo.

They are partially right. I work my way through their ranks, slower now, but steady. One of them resides in this tower: Suichirou Quickeye.

I hang by cracks in the woodwork of this aged, forgotten temple, and touch briefly with Meskira.

I blink as I am flooded with panic and worry, then she feels me, and hope comes up in her breast. They are fighting, and the daimon is powerful. Mimet is there as well, untouchable, but feeding more power into the monster.

I lock my emotions down, but Meskira feels a bit of my own fright. I can almost hear her questions. Wanting to know where I am, why I am not there now.

I focus myself, and send to her, ~~I can't! I'm in Abashiri!~~ I feel her own panic well, and jarringly, our connection is severed.

Summoning my magic, I know that she is well, but that Jupiter saved her from the daimon in her distraction.

I curse at the sky, and continue climbing. There is nothing I can do for them, for I cannot teleport there. I fling myself into the temple, running straight into a watchpost, and quickly kill the two men there. I snarl as I see that they have guns, and wrap myself in magical protections. I storm the building, caring not for those who cross my path.

Venus cried out as her link with Anhara was broken, feeling another body slam into her own. As she looked up into Jupiter's face, she also saw the daimon wing its way where her head had been, its razor talons extended.

"Thanks," she said shakily.

"Don't thank me yet!" cried Jupiter. "Where's Ami? Why isn't she here?"

"She can't!" Venus replied, rolling both of them to the side and avoiding another dive by the monster. "She's in Hokkaido!"

"What?!" came the cry from several of the Senshi.

"Dammit!" shouted Uranus. "Fine time for her to be on assignment!"

"We can do it!" yelled Moon. "We just have to work together!"

All of them prepared as the daimon cried out, "Nevermore!" and attacked again.

I grit my teeth as I keep a running description of the Senshi's battle going. I have almost made it to my quarry, but I am more concerned now for Meskira, and my friends.

"Dammit!" I curse to myself. I can't concentrate on my assignment. I should be there with them! I place my hand to my head, thinking that there had to be some way to get there, but I can only teleport as a Senshi.

A Senshi, who cannot be loyal to the Princess.

Something reflects in my memory, something that Black taught me when dealing with contracts. Something about….

"Consider it as laws. The directives of your mission can be prioritized by number, say, give the highest priority, '1', to the target itself, or whatever the contract wants."

"We may not always be going for a kill?"

"No. There are worse things than death, as you well know."

"What if the assignment goals compromise our safety?"

"Ah… I got an idea from a well-respected author. He, too, needed an answer for that question, so he came up with a law that superseded all previous laws. My modification is simple. Whenever you are in a situation where the contract endangers your life, or your oaths, they supersede the contract."

"What is that law called?"

"The law of ZEROTH."

"I need a Zeroth law…" I whispered to myself. I reached under my shirt and touched the symbol of Mercury on my stomach. My mind quickly went to work, but before it came up with an answer, my line of information from the battle told me something that could not be true.

I snapped my head to the south, and yelled, "PRINCESS!!"

The Senshi fired attacks, but the birdlike daimon sped past them, and sent them tumbling. Mimet's cruel laugh rang through the area, patronizing them. Uranus regained her feet only to be sent flying courtesy of the daimon. She looked up to see all of the Senshi to be flattened in one way or another.

Just as Sailor Moon stood once more, Mimet tossed a package into the middle of the sprawled Senshi, and it exploded. The bomb was not so much fire as shockwave, and once more, the Senshi were down. "Nevermore!" called the Witch. "Do it now!"

The divebombing daimon flew straight to Sailor Moon, and pinned her.

Before any of the Senshi could react, the daimon's talons rose to the air, and with the cry of "Nevermore!" it struck at Sailor Moon.


To be continued.

Chapter 7
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