Act 3: Rei -- Sailormars
First publication: Nakayoshi, 4/1992.
Published in tankoubon form by Kodansha; acquired by the webmistress in the summer of 1993. ( :
Queen Beryl stands on a dais, one hand resting near the crystal ball. Jadeite stands a few paces before her, head bowed.
"Jadeite," she says. "This is the second time you've failed. You had better be prepared."
"Yes," he answers. "I apologize."
Another man in a general suit is lounging against the wall behind Jadeite. His hair is long, dark, and curly, and he is sipping a drink. "You've made your soldiers of dirt," he says. "They're weak and fall apart easily. Queen Beryl - let me, General Nephrite of North America, have this task! I will gather energy to devote to our great ruler. I can definitely get the ginzuishou!"
Another general is perched on a ledge. His long, wavy blond hair is tied back in a ponytail. "The Sailor senshi..." he says. "Could they also be searching for the ginzuishou?"
"Queen Beryl," Nephrite says, turning to the dais. "Tell us about it. What is this ginzuishou?"
Queen Beryl considers a moment, then nods. "The ginzuishou is the source of great energy. It carries infinite power, and the person who wields it can become the ruler of all space. Who do these upstart Sailor senshi think they are, to block the will of our Dark Kingdom? Jadeite, commander of the Far East! For the time being, I will postpone the search for the ginzuishou. This is your last chance, Jadeite."
"I understand," Jadeite answers, sinking to one knee. He places a fist over his heart. "I will dispose of these interfering Sailor senshi myself!"
A girl sits before a fire, her hands clasped in prayer. Her hair is long and dark, and she is dressed in a kimono. Her eyes are closed in concentration.
"Something's coming..." she whispers. "Something strange is going to happen..."
The sign: Sendai hill bus stop. Two girls run out of the shrine on Sendai Hill towards the bus, backpacks bouncing on their backs and ponytails waving. One of them turns back and waves towards the shrine. "Bye-bye, Rei-chan!" she calls.
The dark-haired girl in the kimono is sweeping the shrine. "Good-bye, Mii-chan," she smiles. "Have a care."
As the bus leaves, the driver looks back at the shrine. The driver has Jadeite's face.
The girl looks at her watch. "Six o'clock..."
Rumours fly around the school. "Has anyone heard about the six o'clock bus?" ... "I have! It stops at Sendai Hill." ... "Whoever gets on the six o'clock bus at Sendai Hill disappears!" ... "No way!" ... "Death's at the wheel of that bus!" ... "It takes people to hell..."
Usagi is sleeping, her head pillowed on her desk. Luna sits in the crook of her arm. "Girls like to gossip..." Luna muses. "Usagi, wake up. We're meeting with Ami to talk about our strategy."
Usagi sighs. "Luna... I wanted to go home today and relax."
"Five o'clock at the game center," Luna says mercilessly.
Usagi springs to her feet, saluting. "Roger!"
Haruna-sensei walks in, apologizing for being late. Luna jumps onto her head. "Yaaaa!" Haruna squeals. "Whose cat is this? Why is there a cat in my classroom?"
"Sorry," Usagi apologizes. "That was my cat. She'll be leaving now."
"Tsukino-san..." Haruna-sensei sighs. "So it's you again."
Ami and Motoki watch Usagi play the arcade game. "Your game is improving, Usagi-chan," Motoki smiles.
Usagi giggles. "Ami-chan's been teaching me very well. Ami-chan, I can't believe you're so good at this! I've never played this level before. Are there patterns to this game?"
"Luna..." Ami says quietly. "I still don't quite believe this. We're soldiers of justice, with amazing powers..."
"You're still newly awakened," Luna says. "In time, you'll understand."
"Luna, who are our enemies?" Ami asks. "What do they want? What are we supposed to do now?"
"Our mission is to protect the princess and the ginzuishou," Luna answers.
"The 'ginzuishou?'" Ami echoes.
"Oh, wow!" Usagi grins as the game machine plays music. "That's the second level clear!"
Luna glances at the machine, and her eyes glow.
A packet pops out of the dispense slot.
"Hey, look!" Usagi cries, catching the packet. "The game gave me a prize again!" She takes the objects out of the packet. "Oh look, it's a wristwatch. There's one for Ami-chan, too!"
Luna grabs them. "I can make these into communicators."
Ami looks measuringly at Luna. "Luna... did you do something to the game machine...?"
Luna winks at her. "Ami-chan," she says, "it's five o'clock."
"Oh no!" Ami cries. "I have English class today!"
"But if you leave," Usagi points out, "I'll get bored."
"Then why don't you come along too, Usagi-chan?" Ami smiles. She looks up. "Oh, if we get on the bus, maybe we'll see a really pretty girl. She rides the bus once in a while."
They go to the bus stop. "The Sendai Hill bus, is it?" Usagi says, reading the sign on the bus. "I think I've heard of it..."
Umino pops out of nowhere. "That's the six o'clock bus that everyone's talking about! You shouldn't get on it." Usagi and Ami dismiss him, saying that it's just rumor, and get on the bus. A beautiful girl with long black hair gets on the bus behind them.
"Look, Usagi-chan!" Ami says. "That girl is wearing a uniform from the elite T-A Private Girls' School!" Usagi stares. The girl looks away.
Eventually, Ami gets off the bus. "See you later, Usagi-chan!" she waves.
"Next stop," a recorded voice says, "Sendai Hill and the Hikawa Shrine."
Usagi follows the dark-haired girl off the bus. "What are you doing?" Luna wants to know. "Why are you following that girl?"
"She's so pretty..." Usagi explains. She goes to the shrine. Two black crows swoop down and start pulling at her hair and clothes, making a horrible racket. "Hey!" Usagi protests, shielding her face. "What are you doing?"
Inside, the dark-haired girl had changed into her kimono. "I feel something..." she whispers. "Could it be the evil spirit I sensed?" She runs outside, and sees the crows attacking. "I won't allow evil people to cause disasters in my shrine!" She grabs a strip of paper with characters on it, and throws it. "Evil spirit - begone!"
The strip of paper hits Usagi squarely between the eyes. Stunned, she falls to the ground.
"Oh!" The dark-haired girl puts a hand to her mouth. "Oh, it's a girl! Oh, I'm so sorry." She bows gracefully. "Usagi-san? I apologize. It was my mistake... I thought I felt evil approaching."
"Haha... that's okay," Usagi smiles nervously.
The girl raises her hands, and the crows come to her. "Phobos and Deimos don't normally attack people like that," she says. Usagi stares, wondering if the girl is a shrine maiden.
A woman at the shrine makes an offering and clasps her hands in prayer. "I wish my Mii-chan would come home," she says.
The dark-haired girl looks at her. "Ma'am? What happened to Mii?"
The woman looks worried. "Rei-chan? You haven't heard it on the news? She's gone missing... Everyone's talking about the evil six o'clock bus. Mii gets on the bus right here, and I was worried..." she smiles apologetically. "Oh, but I didn't mean to say that your shrine was dangerous, Rei-chan."
The woman walks off with another man. "That girl ..." the man said. "Her face didn't react at all!"
"Oh, Rei-chan of Hino-san's shrine... she's a little strange," the woman answers. "She prays to the fire, and shares a strange rapport with crows. It's as if she's gifted."
Luna stares wide-eyed at Rei. Gifted? she thinks. A calm girl with amazing powers... noble features... a flowing manner... could this be - our princess!?
"Five hilltops meet to form Sendai Hill," Rei says conversationally to Usagi. "The place is unusual. But actually, a long time ago, people were saying that there was an illusory sixth hill. People are saying that the evil six o'clock bus is being sucked into the sixth hill when it disappears. Do you know what that's called? It's divine disappearance."
Nephrite leans against the wall, his arms folded across his chest. "You had better get moving on this, Jadeite," he says.
"I'm luring them out," Jadeite answers, chuckling quietly. "The more hostages I have, the more I will be able to sacrifice to our great ruler." He indicates a corner. There, girls in school uniform huddle together, eyes closed and faces blank. "And," Jadeite continues, "I'll also give him the heads of these sailor senshi."
People are talking in school again... "Did you see the news? The seventh graders that take the bus to school are missing!" ... "I heard that ten kids disappeared in the Ichinohashi area!" ... "It's the evil six o'clock bus!" ... "They all disappeared on Sendai Hill!" ... "I'm scared..."
Haruna-sensei stands before the class. "Quiet, please! A lot of kids have gone missing recently, so everyone should be very careful."
Divine disappearance... Usagi thinks.
Umino waves his hands frantically. "Usagi-san! These are the doings of a new kidnapper!"
"This is all very suspicious," Luna says as Usagi carries her down the street. "Usagi-chan, I think we should investigate the bus and Sendai Hill. We should also talk to that girl Rei-chan... I think she might be an ally."
Usagi considers the mysterious, beautiful priestess. "Well, she could also be an enemy," she points out.
"At least you're becoming more careful," Luna approves. "Look, there's the bus!"
Usagi mutters something about the bus being scary, but boards the bus anyway. "If anything happens, it's your fault," she tells the cat as Luna settles on her lap.
"It's all right," Luna reassures her. "It's only five o'clock. You should get in touch with Ami on the communicator - ah -" she stops talking abruptly, and meows urgently.
"What?" Usagi blinks. "Luna, are you all right? Why aren't you talking?"
"Yeah, Luna," says a voice beside her. "Let's hear you talk!"
Usagi looks up to see the dark-haired guy from before. "What...!" Usagi points a trembling finger at him. "It's you again!?"
He cocks an eyebrow at her. "Quiet down, odango atama," he says. "We seem to bump into each other a lot, don't we?" This time he is not wearing a tuxedo, but the white shirt, black tie, and gray jacket of a student.
"But - what are you doing here!?" Usagi stammers.
"I always take this bus from school," he answers.
"Wow!" she says. "You're a junior high school student?"
"I'm obviously in high school," he retorts, holding out a student ID card.
" 'Chiba Mamoru, Moto Azabu High School, junior class,' " Usagi reads. "Hey, if you take this bus... do you know about the six o'clock bus, the one that keeps disappearing?"
"I've heard of it," he replies. "It's this route, right? Unusual things occur in this area."
Usagi stares at Mamoru's face as he takes off his glasses. That profile... she thinks. He looks like that amazing Tuxedo Kamen... She shakes her head, confused, and looks away. It can't be... why is my heart beating so fast?
Mamoru gazes at Usagi, imagining a mask over her eyes. "The senshi for justice..." he murmurs absently.
Usagi jumps. "Wh - what!?"
"Uh, it was nothing," Mamoru says quickly, blushing slightly.
"Next stop, Sendai Hill and the Hikawa Shrine," the bus speaker announces. Usagi gets off the bus hurriedly, taking Luna with her.
"He - he surprised me!" Usagi says, still shaken.
"He's clever," Luna agrees.
Mamoru looks back as the bus drives away, remembering...
"...get in touch with Ami on the communicator," the cat said...
"...Find information about the ginzuishou!" his computer says. "Find it..."
Meanwhile, the parents of the missing children are confronting Rei at the temple. "We want you to use your special gifts to find out where our children are," one woman tells her.
"If you want to know for sure," Rei answers thoughtfully, "you had better leave it to the police."
"Can't you be a little more cooperative in a troubled time like this?" the woman asks. "We came all the way here... Is it your fault? Are you the one who's taking our daughters away?"
"Get out!" Rei cries angrily.
Usagi watches as the parents leave the shrine, muttering to themselves. "Poor Rei-chan," she murmurs.
In her arms, Luna looks concerned. "I can't figure out what the enemy's trying to do," she says. "If they were actively searching for the ginzuishou, I'd understand... but what they're doing now, it doesn't make sense..."
"So the enemies are searching for the ginzuishou as well?" Usagi asks.
"Exactly," answers Luna.
Inside, Rei is meditating by the fire. Think... Her hands are clasped together, and her winged brows are lowered in concentration. What is happening here? Why?
With her inner eye, she sees Jadeite's face in the flames. Who's that? Then the image shifts, and Rei sees that Jadeite is holding a struggling Usagi. ...Usagi-chan...?
"...but, Usagi-chan," Luna continues, "remember that the enemy must never acquire the ginzuishou."
Hidden close by, Tuxedo Kamen listens intently.
Rei's eyes open. I have a feeling of dread... Usagi-chan - she's in danger!? She rushes out of the shrine. The bus passes by, and stops near her.
Rei stares at Jadeite, who is driving the bus. That bus driver - he's the face I saw in the fire! He notices her, and smiles. Rei takes one step towards the bus, and then another. My legs - why are they moving?
Step by step, Jadeite brings her nearer, until he reaches out a hand to help her into the bus. "Now, why don't you come in?" he offers. "We're going to another dimension."
Usagi looks at her new watch. "It's getting near six."
The bus rolls down the street. "Usagi-chan!" Luna cries. "The bus!! It's got its destination lights on!"
As the bus passes them, they see Rei unconscious in one of the seats. "Rei-chan!?" A black swirling hole opens up in a nearby wall, and the bus starts heading through it. "Oh - the wall, the wall, it opened up a black hole! This has got to be the evil six o'clock bus! I have to rescue Rei-chan!" She grabs for her disguise pen. "Moon power!" she cries. "Make me a stewardess!"
Luna stares at Usagi-stewardess. "Usagi-chan!? Why a stewardess?"
"My mission is to protect the passengers and see to the comfort of their trip!" she answers happily. Chasing after the bus, she manages to grab the back window, with Luna hanging on to her feet. Usagi kicks a couple of times to regain her balance, dislodging Luna in the process. Luna yells as she falls into blackness. "Luna!?" Usagi cries.
Luna falls into the arms of Tuxedo Kamen. He chases after the bus, but the speeding bus quickly leaves them behind.
"Ah -" Usagi says worriedly, "I'm lost and scared. Luna... and Tuxedo Kamen... I'm alone now..."
"That girl..." Tuxedo Kamen muses, "she transformed right in front of me! Who is she?"
Luna jumps from his arms, and runs off. Tuxedo Kamen straightens his clothes, looking a little miffed at being left so abruptly.
At school, Ami's wristwatch suddenly begins beeping urgently. She jumps up from her desk and runs outside. "Luna!?" she cries, coming upon Luna. The cat is typing into a laptop computer.
"Usagi-chan's on the bus!" Luna says, typing madly. "It's a good thing we gave her the communicator. I can use it to trace her location." A little glow pops out of the computer, and floats downward.
"Her location is... under us?" Ami wonders.
Suddenly, Usagi's voice is transmitted over the communicator. "...Anybody? Luna? Luna?"
Ami gasps. "Usagi-chan?! Where are you?"
Usagi is, in fact, standing in a stone hallway, still in stewardess form. "Ami-chan!?" she cries. "What do I do? We came out of the black hole, and all of a sudden I'm in this place like a stone castle! I can't see the bus! Luna, what do I do now?"
"Usagi-chan," Luna says through the communicator, "transform! Everyone's depending on you!"
Usagi nods, teary-eyed but determined. "Right."
Rei lies unconscious on the ground, her kimono pooling around her. Jadeite reaches out to stroke her hair. "Beautiful," he murmurs. "From the first time I saw this girl, I've always wanted her..."
"Luna," Ami says urgently, "take me to where Usagi-chan is! When I transform, we can use that power..."
"I understand," Luna says. She hands Ami another pen. "Ami-chan, take this..."
Ami stares at the two pens for a moment, surprised by the similarity between them. Then she tosses her own pen into the air. "Mercury power!" she cries.
At the same time, Usagi crosses her arms in front of her. "Moon prism power ... Make up!" In a flash of light, Sailormoon appears; beside her, Sailormercury pops into existence. "Ami-chan," Usagi cries gladly.
"So you're here, Sailormoon!" Jadeite says, standing up.
Ami sees him. "Sailormoon! Over there!"
Swiftly, Jadeite seizes Rei and hooks an arm around her throat. "Yes, right here!" he answers.
Usagi gasps in anger. "Let Rei-chan go!" she yells. "You can't be allowed to kidnap innocent people! In the name of the moon, I'll punish you!"
Rei, still struggling, looks up. "What?! That voice..."
Ami holds out an arm, and the room fills with fog. "Usagi-chan!" she cries. "Save Rei-chan while the fog's spread!"
"How sweet," Jadeite sneers. He spreads his free hand, and the fog condenses into little ice crystals. Ami gasps.
"He's using the fog!" Usagi says. "He's making it into ice. I knew this wouldn't work, Luna!" She sniffles, and tears form in her eyes.
"Don't cry, Usagi," Luna says quickly into her headset. "Or else you'll summon the supersonic waves again. The world you're in is unstable, and you won't be able to save everyone. Usagi-chan, use the Moon Frisbee!"
Usagi clenches her fists in resolve and reaches for her tiara. "Moon Frisbee!" she cries, launching it.
Jadeite catches it, letting go of Rei. "Huh?" he says. "What's this?"
"Now I've got you!" Luna cries, slamming a paw onto the keyboard.
Jadeite yells in surprise as the frisbee becomes a hoop around him, pinning his arms to his sides. He glares at the Sailor senshi, and beams of energy shoot from his eyes. Sailormoon and Sailormercury are thrown back, yelling. Meanwhile, Rei gets up from where she's fallen, alarmed and ready to help.
"Ami-chan!" Luna calls into the headset. "The pen I gave you before - everything depends on it now!"
Ami throws the pen towards Rei. As she does, the sigil of Mars appears on Rei's forehead, and the pen glows brightly. The two crows fly overhead, cawing loudly, and Rei appears in a sailor fuku much like the other girls'. "Rei-chan!?" Ami and Usagi say.
"Phobos! Deimos!" Rei cries commandingly. The two birds fly closer, and she stretches a hand out towards Jadeite. "Evil spirit, begone!" she calls. Fire crackles from her outstretched hand, and Jadeite screams as he's burned away.
Usagi and Ami stare.
"The fire has caused a disturbance in that world!" Luna cries, as she stares into the computer screen. "It's getting dangerous, Usagi-chan! Gather everyone together!"
There is a moment of vertigo, and then all of the girls appear at the Sendai hill bus stop. "What?" one of the girls says dazedly. "Where am I...?"
"Didn't we just get on the bus?" another asks.
Rei looks decidedly confused. "What happened to me?" she asked. "What are these clothes?"
"Rei-chan," Luna says happily. "You can control fire, and you're under the protection of the planet Mars. Sailormars! You're a sailor senshi!"
"A senshi!?" Rei repeats unbelievingly.
Usagi grins. "You're our ally, Rei-chan!"
"We've been searching for ally senshi like you," Ami puts in.
"It's wonderful to find you at last, Sailormars," Luna smiles.
"I'm Sailormars..." Rei repeats. "The reason I was gifted with special powers... was because I am a Sailor senshi?"
Nephrite watches the three girls in the crystal ball, his face appalled. Behind him, the blond man with a ponytail looks on.
"Dammit!" Nephrite cries. "They destroyed Jadeite, one of us... one of the Four Commanders!"