© 1997 Sharen Chin
The price we pay for a piece of rolled paper and the dangers lurking behind it... ... The Second of the Nightmare series. I know I'm supposed to be working on Slayers of Rayearth, but I'm absolutely out of ideas. HELP!!!
It was a new day and a new term. Usagi Tsukino, age 16, snuggled deeper into her cosy bed. No, she didn't want to go to school. "USAGI-CHAN!!!" Voices sounded outside her window. "Are you coming or not!!!" She gasped, wide awake. Rei-chan will curse her romances if she was late!
"Chotto ma de!!!" She yelled back, keepin a wide breadth from the window with a toothbrush in her mouth. It wouldn't do for Rei to find out that she had just woken up!
"Ne-chan! Where's my pencil case?" Her brother shouted from the dining-room as she nearly killed herself dressing and hopping down the stairs. "How in the world would I know!" Popping, into the dining-room just long enough to grab her packed lunch and steal a cut sandwich from his plate, she bustled through the door, nearly knocking down her friend Ami Mizuno, who was standing beside a glaring Rei, reading a book. Usagi stole a glance at the title. Something about astronomy and no pictures. Bo-ring!
"You know," Minako started from the drain pipe she was climbing to get up to Usagi's room. "One of these days you're going to break that door."
Hiyuki turned her attention back to the classroom. The blackbird she was observing came to life between a pencil and her notebook. The class bored her. The things she knew were far beyond those the sensei was struggling to tell the class of nodding, sleepy students. If only she didn't have to come to school... ...
She looked at the page. A leafy branch outside the window she was under, the blackbird, a few of the students, two figures in a Sailor fuku variation and a couple of spiral doodles. The bloody lesson was redundent. The school should have sent that teacher packing a long time ago. She twirled the pencil in her fingers, a trick she'd learned a long time ago. Her throat closed involunteerily. A long time ago, but not long enough. How much time had passed between Then and Now? She had no idea save that it wasn't long enough for the memory to stop hurting.
"Aino-san!" The snoozing girl in front of her started from a daydream.
"Huh? Stop right there! In the name of Love I shall punish you!" The class burst out laughing. The blonde reddened and dropped back into her seat. Hiko frowned. That's funny, her instincts, or rather Kiri's instincts, told her that she wasn't dreaming. Oh well, everyone has to have a few secrets of their own, don't they? It wasn't any of her business what other people choose to do with their bed-times.
"Youma! Yurusanai! In the name of Love I shall punish you! Venus! Love and Beauty Shock!" The creature side-stepped the attack easily with an amused sweep his arm. "Uso Da!" The golden haired senshi breathed unbelievingly.
On a roof three blocks away, two watched the battle with mild interest. Now that explains a lot. A deep male voice commented from the shadows.
"Figure they need a hand?"
It's not your fight. The darker figure pointed out.
"True," The taller gave it some thought. "But neither was Yikak,"
"Burning Mandala!" A look of concentration crossed the demaen's humanoid features. Sailor Mars stumbled back, dumb-folded as the magical ring of fire shattered into icy splinters at her feet. Absorption and avoiding she can take, but freezing?!
"Jupiter! Watch out!" Venus pounced onto her fellow Scout, pushing her down, missing a blast of dark energy by mere inches. "Just what were you doing!" She demanded of the taller senshi. "You could have gotten killed!"
"I... I..." Sailor Jupiter stammered softly, staring off into space. "He reminded me of my senpai... ..."
"Baka!" A white cat scolded as he scrambled to safety. "Minako!"
"Scouts! Sailor Planet... ...!"
"Chotto Made!" Sailor Mercury stopped the other senshis.
"What do you mean, wait a moment!" Mars shouted as she rolled out of harm's way. "That thing there's about to turn us into catfood!"
"What's your problem with cats!" Yowled the black cat dropping beside her.
Amusement arched the shadowy girl's lips.
Cats don't make too good a guardian, don't they.
"Just wait till Kath hears you."
I'll worry about that when I see her.
"Heck, I need the work-out."
"We can't attack it!" Mercury explained desperately. "I'm picking up bio patterns of a girl in its center! Apparently she accepted the demaen in free will and has merged with it!"
"Huh?" Sailor Moon blinked in a state of confusion.
"She means it's part of a girl, hurting it harms her as well and she ain't about to give it up." Venus whipped around at the sound of that vaguely familiar voice. "Old habits are hard to break, eh, Linquip?"
"Dare da!" The demaen growled, searching for the source. She stepped into the light.
"I see you've finally picked up a new tongue. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks." Faded blue jeans slit at the knees and tie-dye tee knotted at her slim waist, taunting light filled the lupine eyes reflected in the dark canine by her side.
Sailor Venus's eyes widened in recognition. "Tsukitela!"
The creature frowned in confusion. "Leave be! I have no fight with thou hearth!"
Tsukitela glared, snapping her hair-tie. "But I do! Sirius Genin! Light Up!"
A flare of white-blue light sent Linquip howling, tearing at his tearing eyes.
Squinting through her shielding hand, Minako saw grayish winds wrapping around her classmate, gentlely pulling back part of her pale brown hair, caressing her arms, legs and torso. Their colour darkened and slowly varied in tone while a swirl of gold leaves unlike any she's seen before danced on a silver breeze before settling behind Tsukitela, materializing into a quiverful of silver-blue arrows. The light gave a final blinding pulse before fading, forcing her eyes close.
"You!" Linquip spat in writhing hate.
Silhouetted against the rising moon, was an unmistakable silver Ferris wolf and his alien senshi in a blue-tinged variation of the hunter's grab in the early Roman era. Blue boots in the midnight shade complimented the fingerless gloves protecting the crossed arms in identical tone. An unseen breeze played slightly with the pale brown hair framing the proud cheekbones and stubborn chin. The diamond of dark gemstone set in a band of gold adorning her left arm caught the fading streetlight in a dazzling gleam. Dark amber eyes reflecting the scene before her in a cool air of their own, she spoke, chilling Mars to the bones.
"Thrice hast thou tempered the Hunt. I have come to collect."
Venus could not surpress a pang of jealousy. It was an entrance radiating fear and awe, far beyond her own. She prayed she would never have to associate herself in that elite class of its own. For if she were to face whatever the new Scout has gone through, Venus feared she would break, shatter completely beyond hope.
"Sso, the little girl ssurvived," The demaen lisped. "You should have gone with the otherss, Ssukitela Basstard."
"Tsukitela," She corrected flatly, uncrossing her arms. "And not so little any more." Grayish winds gathered, forming an elegant bow in her out-stretched hand, dark runes etched deeply along its silver grain.
Linquip smiled a serpent's grin. "Going to sshot me with your little toyss again?" Two golden fletched arrows landed before him on either sides. "Out of practice, milady?" He gloated. Luna stared with a vacant tension, watched by a worrid Artemis. Neither parties noticed a gray streak zipping behind the creature. Tsukitela sighted and let fly a third.
"Aha! Missssed again, have we!" Evil laughter echoed in the lonely streets.
"Not quite." She lowered the bow and brought up her right hand. "Kaze," Sailor Mars's eyes flared a soft pink, reflected from the first of the misfired arrows. "Kiri," The second arrow lit crystal blue with a soft hum. Luna trembled, from what Artemis couldn't tell. "Yume." Mercury, who was closest to her, could barely catch the word. The last shaft behind the nightmarishly human thing glowed mint green. Linquip started to panic.
It wasn't anything he had seen before, not in past encounters with the warrior maiden of Sirius nor any other entities he had parried with. He ran her tatics through his mind.
The Serenade she plays on some flute or another always gave his ears a hard time on the ending sonic blast, not to mention the annoying way it disrupts one's thoughts; the Dewpoint that freezes one up, easy to break, but causes most uncomfortable joint problems afterwards; and the ridiculous Genrou Jen, a work of art no doubt, but quite beyond her power to properly control. The last time he met with it, the spell had took in every living thing within a hundred square miles and baffled everyone's senses, including the caster herself, and broke only when her energy gave way. Wake up! He shook himself. The girl was an ametuer, and always will be, for there was no one left to train her. No one!
"Hiyuki no Mai!" The witch-lights flared, raising to form a white cone of power, trapping him in. A voice came through the veil of light, thick with fury.
"For destroying the Royal Palace, burying the Rulers and giving Alioth her fatal wound, thou oweth me!" At every sin something appeared to haunt him. Something distorted his orientation deep within. There was a fear, a great, terrible fear that he could not understand, stirring at his center. A stack of papers, a gigantic red mark, a pile of books and a man well into his forties rapping on a desk, mouth moving without sound... Something screamed inside him.
"No!" He shouted. "Thiss issn't real! The light rippled, as if giving way, then steadied. "It'ss all a trick! An illussion!" The girl at his heart cringed further. With a start he realised. Nothing came from his throat. The only voice was that bastard child's, the only words, the Keepers' Debt. "Now the Price I Take!"
With a final scream Linquip lost his hold on the girl's form and was pulled through the white pyramid, gripping tightly her Contract. He was met with an onslaught of attacks, too shaken to defend against. A heavy weight slammed into his back and twisted its way to the front, crushing his hand in relentless jaws and refused to be shaken off. He gathered his strength and blasted the wolf with as much energy as he could muster. He succeeded in removing the Ferris lupine; at the price of the Contract, gripped in the severed arm.
"Sailor Moon! Now!"
"Yoshi! Moon Gorgeous Meditation!" His last words were a sharp bark. "You've not sseen the lasst of me yet, Ssukitela Basstard!" Hiyuki frowned at the bloody scroll and the Ferris wolf.
"Do you always have to make a mess, Kiri?" There was no reply, save a bloodthirsty grin. Shaking her head, she turned to Sailor Venus. "If you can dispose of that, Aino?" At her blank look, she added. "Burning does the trick, I think."
"Well," Hiyuki started. "It used to, but then Linquip wasn't so careless back then." Jupiter nodded, still slightly confused.
"Burning Mandala!" Venus and Sirius, being the closest, jumped as flame engulfed the parchment.
You could give a body some warning, you know. The Ferris wolf grumbled, casting the Priestess a disgusted look. "As if you ever, cur." The lupine senshi was quick to prick her guardian's ego. "C'mon, let's go."
The Team stared after the two. "Why does it feel like I'm missing something?" Mars asked into the calm night. "She knows something we don't, but what?" Venus resisted the urge to thump Artemis on the head. "Shut up if you haven't got anything useful to say!" Mercury retracted her visor. "I don't think she's from Earth."
"What!"Sailor Moon widened her eyes in confusion. "You mean she's an alien? But I thought aliens were big and slimy and have half a million warts and arms and are all bent on world domination... ..." If cats could frown, Luna certainly was. "I think I know her, Usagi, if only I can remember where... ..."
Playing with the pendents at her throat, Sailor Sirius, Senshi of Illusion, left the night behind as she turned round the street towards her apartment, taking a sadonic pleasure in the faint voice screaming on the wind; a single syllable of denial only she seemed to hear.
"That youma looked like my senpai... ..."
Sailor Mars studied the light cone. "Erm... how do we get the girl out?"
Done? Go to the next chapter!
Vortex of Dreams