Chapter One- The Offer
He sensed the attack coming and, rather than turn and freeze as other people would, he grabbed Molly and dove behind the tree they had been leaning against a second before a cluster of thorns struck the ground where Nephlite had been. A second slower and those thorns would have struck his shoulder.
I would have slowly died, my body reduced to Negadust.
“No!” screeched his attacker. “How could you have dodged that? It’s not possible!”
Nephlite chanced a peek around the trunk. He saw the same three youmas he fought earlier, but Zoycite was with them now!
“Zoycite!” he called. “Are you letting those three do your dirty work? Are you too much of a coward to do it yourself?”
“You dare call me a coward? All right.” She turned to her henchmen. “You three are dismissed. I will attend to the traitor myself.” Zoycite then faced the tree again. “Come out and face me, Nephlite, if you dare.”
Nephlite scowled at the mocking tone in Zoycite’s voice. That woman was asking for it! “Molly, stay here. Please,” he said as he stood up. Molly said nothing. She merely nodded.
Nephlite stepped around the trunk and saw Zoycite. She was alone and looking off to one side. “Well, it appears we have an audience,” she said.
Nephlite, too, looked over and saw the Sailor Scouts! How in the Negaverse did they find out where he had taken Molly? Perhaps, Sailor Mercury found out. She was certainly clever enough.
Nephlite quickly snapped his attention back to Zoycite and barely dodged the ice spear she had thrown at him. He summoned his sword and held it vertically with the edge facing outward and it neatly bisected the second spear that came at him. He suddenly charged at Zoycite, his sword vanishing as he tackled his opponent.
The two of them went down in a tangle of legs and arms. Nephlite was on top of Zoycite, looking triumphant. His expression turned to shock when he found himself flying through the air, thanks to a leg thrust from Zoycite. Nephlite hit the ground and skidded a few feet before stopping.
“Nephlite, I’m declaring you a traitor to our cause. The penalty for treason is death and I’m only too happy to do the deed.”
“Is that so?”
“Oh, yes. But, first.” Zoycite held out a hand and a black crystal rose off the ground and into her hand. His Star Crystal! It must have fallen out of his pocket when he hit the ground!
“That’s my crystal,” Nephlite snarled.
“Not anymore. It’s mine now. You won’t need it where you’re going.”
“You intend to do it with those pathetic spears?”
“What did you say?
“I said your spears are pathetic and so are you, Zoycite! A pathetic witch!” Nephlite watched with satisfaction as Zoycite’s face turned red.
“I’ll show you who’s pathetic! I’ll have this spear track your energy. It won’t stop until it hits you. Farewell, Nephlite.” Zoycite hurled the spear and waited until she was sure it couldn’t miss and then teleported out.
She left about five seconds too soon. Nephlite dodged it as soon as she was gone. The spear course-corrected and aimed itself for Nephlite who dodged again. Once more it changed direction, determined to hit its target.
Shit. Now, I’m in real trouble, he thought. The spear was attracted to his energy and would keep following him. Nephlite came to the realization that sooner or later, he would tire or make a mistake and then the spear would get him.
Suddenly, his foot tripped over a root and he hit the ground. He glanced back to see the spear aiming right for him! There was no way he would be able to avoid it this time! He looked away and closed his eyes. It was all over. Molly, I’m sorry, he thought.
“Moon Tiara Magic!”
Sailor Moon’s attack! Great. Apparently, the scouts wanted to do him in rather than let Zoycite have the credit. He waited to feel the tiara’s magic hit him and turn him to dust.
“Sailor Moon! Why did you save him? He’s the enemy!” the voice of Sailor Mars exclaimed.
Save me? He opened his eyes and looked over in time to see and hear Sailor Moon say, “Hey, saving people is what we do, okay?”
“But, he’s the enemy!” Mars protested.
“Perhaps not anymore,” Mercury cut in.
“What makes you say that?” Mars demanded.
“Didn’t you hear that woman? She called him a traitor. That means he’s not our enemy anymore.” Mercury started toward Nephlite who was getting to his feet. He calmly stood his ground as the scout approached. He wasn’t afraid of them and besides, Mercury didn’t look the least bit threatening.
“Nephlite, I want to make you an offer.”
“What kind of offer?”
“How about fighting on our side?”
“You would trust me?” Nephlite was surprised. After everything he had done to them, Mercury was suggesting he align himself with them.
“No way!” Mars called out.
“Of course I do,” Mercury countered.
Nephlite was silent for a moment. “I need to think it over. I’ll give you my answer right here tomorrow afternoon. I need to take Molly home right now.”
Mercury nodded. “Tomorrow afternoon it is then.”
Chapter Two- Turning Point
Nephlite dwelled on Mercury’s offer the following morning. Should he help them? He had been declared a traitor and no doubt Zoycite had told Queen Beryl that he was dead. His supposed death would release him from his loyalty to the Negaverse and essentially leave him a free agent. If he aided the scouts, the Negaverse would find out he was alive and endeavor to kill him. However…
I know information about the Negaverse that could be useful to the Sailor Scouts. If the Negaverse is unleashed on Earth, countless people will die- including Molly. I will not let any harm come to her! Despite the risk to myself, I will help the scouts defeat Beryl and save Earth.
That afternoon, Nephlite returned to where he had been the night before. He had been at a crossroads twenty-four hours ago in this spot and now he had made his decision. He knew he was doing the right thing by helping the scouts. He only hoped that he wouldn’t come to regret it.
The sound of approaching footsteps reached his ears and he turned to see Sailors Moon and Mercury heading his way. It was clear that Mars didn’t trust him due to her absence. He would have to work on earning her trust.
“All right, Nephlite,” Sailor Moon said. “We’re here, so what’s your answer?” There was a hint in her voice that suggested that she wouldn’t hesitate to attack if he attacked them first. Indeed, her hand strayed toward her tiara ready to use it if need be.
“I thought long and hard about it. There is no doubt that the Negaverse believes I’m dead. The way I see it, I am free to choose my own path. I choose to help you save Earth.”
“That’s good,” said a voice near his feet. “We could use all the help we can get.” Nephlite looked down to see a black cat with a crescent moon on her forehead. The cat smiled at him.
“Hello, I don’t believe we’ve been properly introduced. My name is Luna. I’m Sailor Moon’s guardian cat and advisor.
“I want to give you this communicator so that you can contact the scouts should you see the Negaverse attacking. The scouts will also be able to contact you for help.” Luna deposited a communicator at his feet, which he picked up.
“Speaking of which,” Mercury spoke up. “You should know our true identities so if you do call, you won’t be confused by the normal-looking girl.”
Nephlite nodded. “That makes sense.”
“Right. Sailor Mars is called Raye Hino. My true name is Amy Mizuno and Sailor Moon’s name is-,”
“Serena,” Nephlite interrupted.
“How…do you know that?” Mercury and Luna looked at the blonde scout, who rubbed the back of her neck, sheepishly.
“He…saw me transform,” she admitted.
“Sailor Moon!” Luna scolded. “How could you be so careless?”
“It’s not her fault,” Nephlite said. “I created a situation to force her to change.”
Nephlite stood by the school gates the next afternoon in his civilian clothes. He planned to take Molly out to get those parfaits she spoke about the other night. As students walked through the gates, he spied a girl with short blue hair. She bore such a striking resemblance to Sailor Mercury that he suspected that she had to be Amy.
The girl drew closer to him and her eyes flicked over at him. “Amy?” he asked softly. His question was answered with a smile.
“Hi, Maxfield,” she said. “What brings you here?”
“I’m waiting for Molly.”
“Oh. You will be at this afternoon’s meeting, right?”
“Of course. It’s at my place after all.”
“Okay. See you later.”
A few minutes after Amy left, Molly passed through the gates. He smiled at the sight of her as he called her name. Molly turned, spotted him, and ran up to him with a smile.
“Hey, Maxfield. Why are you here?”
“I thought maybe we could go out for those chocolate parfaits you mentioned.”
“Oh!” Molly’s eyes lit up. “I’d love to! Let’s go.”
Minutes later, the two of them were seated at the place Molly had mentioned with the desserts. She placed the order and while they waited, Nephlite looked around. It was certainly a nice place. If the Negaverse won, it would be nothing but rubble.
Well, they won’t win, he thought. I’ll tell the scouts everything I know and Queen Beryl will be defeated.
The clink of glass caught his attention and he saw a glass with white, red, and brown food inside it. Molly was already eating hers, so he picked up the spoon, scooped some up, and put it in his mouth.
A cold, sweet taste touched his tongue. It was delicious, just as Molly had said! He swallowed and saw the girl smile at him with an anxious look in her eyes. “So, what do you think?”
“Delicious. What’s in it?”
“There’s ice cream and chocolate,” she tapped each part with her spoon as she explained. “Parfait cream, strawberries, and whipped cream.”
Nephlite spooned up a bit of strawberry since he didn’t get some on his first try and tasted it: Sweet and tart.
He looked at Molly who had spoken his real name softly. “What are you going to do now that that evil society has kicked you out?”
“I’m free to do as I wish. That means the two of us can be together.”
“Hmm, I’d like that.”
“I knew you would.”
Nephlite teleported to his home after escorting Molly to hers. He needed to make it more welcoming. He hadn’t bothered to fill it with anything since he wasn’t really living there. Only his altar existed, where he consulted the stars. The first things he did was to provide chairs and couches as well as some light sources. He conjured a coffee table and a tea tray with tea and cookies already on it. Once that was done, he wandered through the house, conjuring items that he would need from now on.
The doorbell rang and he quickly answered it. Amy and Serena were on the other side along with Luna and a black-haired girl that he could only guess was Raye and she did not look happy to be there. He waved them in and led them to the room where the altar was.
As soon as they were seated, Luna began the meeting. “I want to start by thanking Nephlite again for his decision to help us. We’ll appreciate any information you can give us.”
“I do have a piece of information. Beryl may be seeking the find the Imperium Silver Crystal as we speak.”
“She must not obtain it!” Luna exclaimed. “If the crystal were to fall into her hands, she would unleash the Negaforce!”
“How do we find it?” Amy asked. “Where do we start?”
“I can ask the stars about the crystal,” offered Nephlite.
Luna nodded. “Do it.”
As Nephlite knelt at his altar, he heard Raye mutter, “I could have done the same with my fire-reading.” He ignored her as he asked the stars about the Imperium Crystal’s whereabouts. A beam of light struck his forehead and a barrage of images flashed through his mind. He jerked back slightly and put a hand to his head.
“What did you see?” Serena asked.
Nephlite turned to face them. “The crystal is not in one piece. Queen Serenity used the crystal against the Negaverse’s strongest warriors, the Seven Shadow Warriors. She defeated them by locking them in the crystal. Somehow the crystal broke apart into seven rainbow crystals with a warrior locked in each one. They came down to Earth and were reborn as ordinary humans who don’t know about the crystal or their former lives.”
“Well, then,” Luna said. “We need to find those crystals before the Negaverse does.”
Chapter Three- Lita
Nephlite didn’t know where to start looking for the crystals. He knew he could ask the stars, but the answers from yesterday’s question had been a lot to process and he was still sorting it out. He was still finding it hard to believe that he was working with the scouts now. Truthfully, if he had returned to the Negaverse immediately after avoiding Zoycite’s spear, it was likely that Beryl would have killed him. However, by choosing to help save Earth, he would remain alive.
At the moment, he was walking on the sidewalk, glancing at the storefronts. He had decided that morning that he was going to make more of an effort to act human and some humans like taking a walk and maybe shop a little. He found that he liked mingling with humans and the fresh air was great.
He looked ahead and saw Amy and Raye enter the arcade. He hurried over and looked in the window to see them talking to Serena who was next to a tall brunette girl in a beige uniform. He entered the arcade, not sure why he was doing so. It was as if some mysterious force was manipulating his actions. He forgot about it when Serena called out, “Hey, Maxfield!” which caused Raye and Amy, who was holding Luna, to turn around.
As he got closer, Nephlite greeted, “Hi, girls. I was just walking by and thought I’d say hello.”
“Oh, that’s so nice,” Serena commented. “By the way, this is my new friend, Lita Kino.” Serena waved a hand at the brunette. “Lita, this is Maxfield Stanton.”
Nephlite held out a hand. “It’s nice to meet you, Lita.”
Lita looked at him with a dreamy expression even as she took his hand. He heard her murmur, “He’s so dreamy”, but the moment their hands met, an odd sensation washed over him. It felt as if Lita wasn’t a normal girl. She wasn’t from the Negaverse, he knew that. A Rainbow Crystal Carrier, perhaps?
I better keep an eye on her, he decided.
A commotion nearby drew everyone’s attention to a crane game. A teenage boy was at the controls, effortlessly winning each time. The group drew closer to watch when Nephlite saw it: The boy placed his free hand on the glass and a faint red glow surrounded his hand. The result was instead of winning one prize, he got two!
“How did he do that?” he asked softly. “Who is he?”
“Everyone calls him Game Machine Joe,” Serena answered. “He always wins at the Crane Game. I wish I had the same luck with the Sailor V game.”
Nephlite sweatdropped at that last comment. He glanced at Lita who was looking at Joe with the same look she had given him. The girl had to be boy-crazy; there was no other explanation.
Lita followed Joe a good distance back some time later. She was curious about Joe’s winning streak and was waiting until the area was deserted before approaching him. She couldn’t get over how Joe looked like her old boyfriend. Then again, that other guy she met-what was his name?- Maxfield looked like her old boyfriend too. She recalled an odd feeling coming over her when she shook Maxfield’s hand. What kind of feeling was it and why with Maxfield?
A cry from around the corner snagged her attention and she rounded the bend to see Joe crouched on the street with a strange woman standing nearby hold a crystal. Joe was in pain and Lita wasn’t going to let that woman get away with it!
Furious, she launched herself at the lady. She threw punch after punch, but her opponent dodged them all. She tried kicks and trying to scratch with her nails, but to no avail. Then, she pulled off one of her rose earrings and threw it. The woman dodged it with her eyes closed. That gave Lita the opening she was looking for and went for it. She swung her right fist and nailed the woman’s cheek. The blonde reeled slightly from the blow.
Zoycite couldn’t believe this girl had the nerve to attack her. She was going to teach this brat a lesson! The sound of another girl’s voice, however, changed her mind. She would get even another time as well as get the rainbow crystal later on. She dashed away and teleported once out of sight.
Serena, Luna, and Nephlite caught up to Lita just as she was checking on Joe. Nephlite had already told Luna that Lita was not working for the Negaverse. “Lita, what happened?” Serena asked.
“Some strange woman attacked Joe for no reason. At least no reason I can think of.”
I can think of a reason, Nephlite thought. He must be a crystal carrier. We’ll have to keep an eye on him. Odds are that sooner or later, Zoycite’s going to go after him again.
Joe then woke up and staggered to his feet. One hand clutched his chest and he seemed rather angry, most likely because he had to be saved by a girl. He lashed out verbally at the three of them before walking away.
“We can’t leave him alone,” Lita insisted. “He might need help. Besides, I haven’t found out his secret at the crane game.”
Chapter Four- Sailor Jupiter
Serena, Luna, and Nephlite watched Lita and Joe from the outside of the café the couple was in. Joe’s demeanor toward Lita had softened for some reason and when he spotted them from his seat by the window, he invited her to join him. At first, Lita hesitated, but then joined him after Serena pushed her through the front door.
Nephlite felt a twinge of something as he watched Lita and Joe make small talk. He felt like walking in there and yanking Joe away from Lita. But, why? Why did he feel this way? Just what was it about Lita that brought out these emotions within him?
A figure appeared beside Lita’s table and Nephlite’s eyes widened. It was clear to the others that something was wrong. “That’s no waitress!” Luna exclaimed.
“Zoycite,” Nephlite growled softly, but it nevertheless caught Luna’s attention.
Lita was enjoying herself. Joe turned out to be a nice guy after all. He even explained his gaming success and demonstrated it for her. She thought it was cool that he was born with this talent and that he gave the prizes he won to orphans.
“May I take your order, Miss?” a voice beside the table inquired.
“Sure. I’ll have some tea with a slice of lemon and a piece of cherry pie with ice cream on the side, of course…” Lita trailed off and gasped when she saw the woman from before!
She must be his jealous ex, she thought as Joe beat a hasty exit and the restaurant window exploded, thanks to the woman who went after Joe.
Lita clenched a fist as Serena and Maxfield came over to her. “She sprung a surprise attack on us. She ruined our date,” she said tightly.
“How do you feel?” Serena asked.
“Angry!” Lita leaped to her feet and charged off in the direction of the chase.
“This is getting serious,” Luna spoke up softly. “Nephlite, follow Lita. Serena, transform.”
Both heroes nodded before splitting up. Nephlite ran after Lita. He was now certain that Joe was a crystal carrier, which meant if Zoycite took the crystal, Joe would transform into one of the Shadow Warriors. Lita would be in terrible danger!
His pursuit led him to the park and when he rounded a bend, he saw Lita on the ground and Game Machine Man standing nearby. He inwardly groaned at this. While the Seven Shadows all obeyed Queen Beryl, their loyalties were divided between the four generals. Two of the Shadows were under his command, Jedite also had two, but Zoycite and Malachite equally commanded three and Game Machine Man was one of them.
The warrior rounded on Nephlite and he sensed a feeling of hatred coming from the Shadow. No doubt his loyalty to Zoycite made him dislike Nephlite. Nevertheless, the brunette stepped in front of Lita, summoned his sword, and pointed it at Game Machine Man. “Leave the girl be,” he ordered. “She has nothing to do with this.”
“I’ll take both your lives,” the warrior declared. “It’s game over for you.”
“Hold it right there, Nega creep!” a girl’s voice rang out to Nephlite’s right.
“It’s Sailor Moon!” Lita exclaimed.
The moment Game Machine Man turned his attention to the blonde, Nephlite charged, swung his sword in a downward arc, and sliced off one of the warrior’s grappling hooks. Game Machine Man staggered back, groaning at his loss- for a few seconds. A brand-new hook erupted from the stump before he fired it at Sailor Moon.
She did her klutzy best to avoid the attacks, but she ended up tripping over her feet and hitting the ground. Nephlite stepped between Game Machine Man and the downed scout, ready to cut the warrior down, even though the human he was, was still alive inside him.
Game Machine Man was then lifted into the air and over the head of…Lita! She was actually holding him over her head without any visible effort! Who was this girl!? “New player up!” she announced. “And you’re heading for a big fall!”
Then, to Sailor Moon and Nephlite’s complete astonishment, a glowing green four appeared on her forehead! This strange occurrence confirmed Nephlite’s suspicions that Lita was not a normal girl. But then, what was she?
Lita heaved Game Machine Man into some nearby bushes, but he didn’t stay there long. He leaped from the leaves and fired at Sailor Moon again. This time, he succeeded. Nephlite moved in to free her, but was kept at bay by Game Machine Man trying to snare him as well.
Suddenly, a bolt of lightning struck Game Machine Man, causing the hook to open and knocked him down. Both heroes looked toward the source: A tall brunette in a dark green Sailor uniform.
“Oh, wow!” Sailor Moon exclaimed. “Lita’s Sailor Jupiter!”
Jupiter, Nephlite thought. He had recognized the clothes of a Sailor Scout, but not the name until now.
Game Machine Man’s groans reached his ears and he spun toward the warrior, sword at the ready. “Look out, scouts. He’s getting ready to attack again.”
“No, he won’t,” Luna declared. Nephlite looked back to see Luna produce a pink stick attached to a crescent moon which landed in Sailor Moon’s hands. “Wow, what’s this, Luna?” she asked.
“It’s the Crescent Moon Wand,” the cat answered. “Hold it up and say ‘Moon Healing Activation.’ It will break the spell.”
“You mean it’ll turn him back into Joe?” Nephlite asked.
Sailor Moon did as Luna instructed and Game Machine Man became Joe again.
“Good job, everyone and Sailor Jupiter, you were great,” Luna complimented.
“Thanks, Luna.” Jupiter turned to Nephlite. “I’m guessing your real name’s not Maxfield.”
Nephlite smiled. “You’re right. My name is really Nephlite. I used to be a general for the Negaverse. I was declared a traitor a couple of days ago. Now I fight alongside the Sailor Scouts.”
“And they are led by Sailor Moon,” Luna added.
“Me, leader!?” Sailor Moon exclaimed. “No way!”
“You hold the Crescent Moon Wand, an important tool to our mission,” Luna countered. “You must hold on to it until we find the Princess of the Moon.”
I always knew Sailor Moon was a leader, even if she is a bit of a klutz, Nephlite thought. But I wonder who the Moon Princess is?
Chapter Five- The Second Crystal
It had been a week since he decided to aid the scouts, but for some reason, Nephlite felt…unsure of the outcome of their latest mission: To find the remaining rainbow crystals before the Negaverse does. As he wandered aimlessly around town, he dwelled on a scout meeting they had had the day after finding Sailor Jupiter:
“Nephlite, I recall that you recognized the woman who went after Joe,” Luna pointed out. “Would you care to explain?”
Everyone was sitting on the stairs of Raye’s temple, Cherry Hill. They were all looking at him expectantly. Aside from fighting Negaverse monsters, his role in the group was that of an informant and what kind of informant would he be if he didn’t supply that information?
He cleared his throat before replying, “That woman is called Zoycite. She is the third-ranking general and is still my enemy. We never liked each other despite our mutual goal.”
“Which was unleashing the Negaforce, right?” Amy asked.
Nephlite nodded. “Clearly, that is not my goal anymore.”
“Right,” Luna added. “Now, we have to come up with a way to find those crystals before this Zoycite gets them.”
“You seemed troubled, my son.”
Nephlite was visibly startled by the voice. He looked around to see that he was in a graveyard and it was a priest who spoke to him. He gave a small smile as he nodded. “Yes, I suppose I am troubled.”
“Would you care to tell me your troubles?”
“I would.” Nephlite paused for a moment, trying to figure out how to be vague about the situation. “My friends and I are looking for some missing items. They are very rare and special. We don’t know how to find them before a rival of ours finds them first.”
“Ah. That is a problem. Surely, there is a solution to it somewhere.”
“Perhaps there is. Thank you, sir. I’ll think about it.” He bowed to the priest and walked away. When he was two rows away from the priest, Nephlite heard the man cry out in pain.
Whirling around, he saw Zoycite extracting a rainbow crystal from the man. He couldn’t let Zoycite get away with that crystal! However, before he could move to intercept it, the crystal flew off in his direction. Zoycite turned to track its path and her gaze fell on Nephlite.
He dove behind a gravestone and reflected on Zoycite’s expression. Her eyes had widened and her face had gone pale. In short, she looked like she had seen a ghost. He smirked at the thought. Why not? She believed he was dead and they were in a graveyard.
He risked a peek behind the stone and saw Bobo the Vulture where the priest had been. He had been Jedite’s warrior, but judging from his body language his allegiance had shifted to Zoycite. Was it because Jedite was locked in eternal sleep? What of his own warriors? Would they turn on him now that he no longer worked for Beryl?
A black blur appeared next to him. He looked over to see Tuxedo Mask glaring at him. It was understandable: The last time they met, they were enemies. He needed to let the caped warrior know they were on the same side now.
Before he could speak, Tuxedo Mask asked acidly, “Are you and Zoycite working together now?”
Nephlite’s eyes narrowed. “I would never work with that witch! I’m on your side now. You can ask Sailor Moon yourself.”
“Speaking of her, she’s in trouble. Gotta go.” Tuxedo Mask charged onto the field, grabbed Sailor Moon, and leaped upwards to avoid Bobo’s attack.
“Tuxedo Mask!” Sailor Moon exclaimed. “You saved me!”
“Sailor Moon,” he said softly. “Is Nephlite helping us now?”
“Absolutely. He’s our friend. We can trust him,” she replied.
As he landed on a gravestone, he announced, “Round Two: Tuxedo Mask versus Zoycite. I’ve got the crystal this time.” He stepped off the stone and put Sailor Moon down before leaping into battle against Bobo.
While Tuxedo Mask had Bobo and Zoycite occupied, Nephlite took the opportunity to search for the crystal. He needed to find it before Zoycite did. As he searched, a girl with brown hair came running toward them: Lita.
“Lita, transform!” he called.
“Right. Jupiter Power!”
Sailor Jupiter appeared and leaped onto the battlefield. Tuxedo Mask had just avoided Bobo’s charge and the Shadow decided to target Jupiter instead.
“Jupiter, I call upon you! Help me defeat this monster and save the rainbow crystal! Jupiter Thunder Crash!” A surge of electricity hit Bobo’s outstretched hand and shattered his boxing glove.
This gave Sailor Moon the chance to change him back and she succeeded. Once Nephlite saw the priest was healed, he returned to his search. In the end, Tuxedo Mask found the crystal and left with it. This didn’t bother Nephlite. Tuxedo Mask was an ally. As long as their side ended up with all or most of the crystals it didn’t matter who found them.
I imagine Beryl’s not too happy with Zoycite right now. She’s lost one crystal and failed to bring back either of the two Shadow Warriors.
Chapter Six,/u>- The Break Up
Nephlite sipped his tea as he surveyed the café’s other customers. He saw Serena near the front talking to a boy about her age. He looked very uncomfortable while Serena chattered away. After a couple more minutes the blonde left, Luna right behind her. He returned to his survey, but soon his thoughts returned to the crystals and he was soon staring into his cup.
He was still connected to the Negaverse and as useful as the powers he got from it were, he lately found himself wishing he didn’t have this connection. At that moment, he faintly felt Zoycite’s frustration at failing and her determination to succeed this time.
Nephlite looked up to see the boy who had been with Serena. “My name’s Greg. Can I join you?”
Nephlite nodded and as Greg sat down, decided to introduce himself. “My name is-,”
“Oh, I know all about you, Nephlite,” Greg cut in.
Nephlite felt stunned. How did he know his name? He wasn’t from the Negaverse and none of the scouts would slip up. “All right,” he said slowly. “What do you know?”
“I know about Zoycite and why she’s after me. I know what I will become. I know the monster inside me is still loyal to you. You must get my crystal before Zoycite does.”
“It sounds as if you can see the future. Do you know where I should be to get the crystal?”
“Yes. It’ll be by the lake in the park. There’ll be a bench there, too. You need to get there soon.”
“I will, Greg. Don’t worry.”
Nephlite stood behind a nearby tree, keeping an eye on the spot Greg had described earlier. He wondered which one of his warriors had been reborn as Greg. Neither one could see the future. It was clear Greg was born with that talent and it had somehow tapped the power of the crystal inside him.
He noticed movement nearby and looked over to see Sailor Mercury and an unconscious Greg. She placed the boy on the bench before wetting a rag and placing it on his forehead. Then, she stood by and watched over him. All Nephlite could do was wait. He sensed the moment he was looking for was getting closer.
A swirl of cherry blossoms appeared above the water after several minutes had passed, during which Greg had awakened and talked to Mercury. Zoycite had arrived and Nephlite paid strict attention to what was playing out.
Greg and Mercury had gotten up and faced the lake and Zoycite. The blonde had an arrogant smirk on her face and Nephlite wanted to wipe it off her face. If he timed it right, he would be able to do just that.
“You leave him alone,” Mercury demanded.
“Sorry, but I require Bumboo’s assistance,” Zoycite answered.
Bumboo. Yes, that was definitely one of his warriors and still loyal, according to Greg. He was also stronger than the last two Shadows, but his loyalty to Nephlite would prevent him from attacking the scouts.
Zoycite held out the Black crystal, its energy pulsating outward and enveloping Greg. The energy and Greg were soon encased in a red cloud. That was when Nephlite began to move. He charged forward, leaped into the air, and knocked Zoycite into the water just as the crystal flew toward them.
Nephlite stretched out his hand, snagged the crystal, and grinned as he started to teleport. Before he completely vanished he heard Zoycite scream, “Nephlite!”
Nephlite reappeared behind the tree he had been hiding behind earlier and admired the yellow rainbow crystal in his hand. He succeeded! The scouts and he finally had one! He put it in his pants pocket before stepping out into the open.
Zoycite had left and Bumboo loomed over a trembling Mercury. This Greg must be pretty special to Mercury, Nephlite realized, if she couldn’t bring herself to attack. She didn’t need to, either.
“Bumboo, stop,” he called out. The warrior paused in its tracks and turned toward Nephlite, who beckoned him with a gesture.
“He listened to you,” Mercury said. “But, why?”
“Each Shadow Warrior pledged loyalty to one of the four generals. I have command of two and Zoycite has three. Jedite had two, but apparently their loyalties are changing since Jedite is in eternal sleep. Bobo was Jedite’s, but he had decided to follow Zoycite.”
Bumboo now stood next to Nephlite. The ex-general discreetly put a hand behind his warrior and gave a surge of electricity to weaken him, but not to hurt him. Why he had chosen electricity instead of another option, he didn’t know, but it did the job, nonetheless.
“What did you do?” Mercury demanded, seeing the electricity arc over Bumboo.
“I simply weakened him. He would have been too strong for the Moon Wand to heal him. I believe from this point on, we’ll have to weaken them before healing them.”
Mercury nodded as Sailors Moon, Mars, and Jupiter arrived on the scene. Sailor Moon looked around, apparently expecting to see Zoycite while Mars and Jupiter eyed Bumboo warily.
“Okay,” Sailor Moon said slowly. “what happened here?”
“It’s all right.” Nephlite reached into his pocket and pulled out the crystal, holding it up. “Zoycite didn’t get the crystal and Bumboo here is loyal to me, even though I don’t work for Beryl. I weakened him so you can heal him.” Nephlite put the crystal back in his pocket and stepped away from his warrior.
Sailor Moon smiled. “Right. Moon Healing Activation.”
“You failed me, again, Zoycite! I will not accept another one!”
“My queen, I would have had the crystal if it wasn’t for Nephlite.”
“Yes and he’s joined forces with the Sailor Scouts.”
“Well, we will have to take care of the traitor when the time is right.”
“Yes, my queen.”
In another part of the Negaverse was the Negaforce. It was where the energy Jedite and Nephlite had managed to collect went and it gave the residents of the Negaverse their powers. It also connected the residents to itself. Through Zoycite, it learned of Nephlite’s survival and betrayal.
Beryl may wish to deal with Nephlite later, but I will not wait. Through his bond, I will infect him with a disease that will slowly and painfully kill him. The traitor will be dead in four days.
Nephlite twirled his straw in his glass nervously while Molly was in the bathroom. Now that Zoycite knew he was alive, it was too dangerous to keep seeing Molly. So, he met up with her after school and invited her out so he could break the news to her. The thing was he wasn’t sure how to phrase it and he really didn’t want to stop seeing her, but he loved her and wanted to keep her safe.
Molly returned from the bathroom and, as she took her seat, noticed Nephlite toying nervously with his straw. This concerned her. Why was he acting like this? He was always so calm and confident.
“Nephlite,” she said softly. “Is something wrong?”
Nephlite stopped playing with the straw and looked at her. “Yes, there is something wrong. The evil society I had belonged to has decided to kill me.”
“Oh, no! That’s awful!”
“I’m convinced that they will do anything to lure me into a deadly trap. That includes kidnapping you. I will not allow that.”
“What are you going to do?”
“Molly, I don’t think we can keep seeing each other.”
Molly recoiled slightly and her eyes started to tear up. “You-you mean you’re breaking up with me?”
“Yes and no. I want to keep you safe from danger and once the assassins are taken care of-,”
“Nephlite, you jerk!” Molly interrupted angrily. She hadn’t heard anything Nephlite had said past the word “yes.” “I thought you loved me! But obviously you don’t! I don’t want to see you ever again!” Molly got up and stormed out of the café, leaving a stunned Nephlite behind.
Molly ran home crying and once in her room, picked up her phone. She needed to talk to someone and she knew just who to call.
Ring, ring. Ring, ring.
“Molly, what’s wrong? You sound upset.”
“I was at the café near the school with Nephlite and he dumped me! The jerk dumped me!”
“Oh, Molly, I’m so sorry. Is there anything I can do?”
“Just be my friend, Serena. I’ll see you in school tomorrow.”
“Bye, Molly.” Serena hung up and stood there, thinking. Why would Nephlite break up with Molly? He loved her. He would never be cruel to her. I better go see him and find out what’s going on.
Serena entered the café several minutes later, spied Nephlite at a booth, and headed toward him. She plopped into the seat opposite him and prompted, “So, what happened?”
Nephlite looked up, startled by the sudden question. He had been thinking about Molly’s outburst. He hadn’t expected her to take it so hard. As he kept replaying the scene, he got a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach. He attempted to ignore it. Molly’s reaction was probably the cause of that feeling.
He looked up when he heard Serena’s voice. “Serena,” he said softly.
Serena saw a world of hurt in Nephlite’s eyes and felt bad for him. This proved that he still cared for Molly. “Nephlite, Molly called me several minutes ago and said you dumped her. What really happened?”
“Now that the Negaverse knows I’m alive, they will do anything to kill me. That includes kidnapping Molly again. I wanted to suggest that we not see each other until this matter is resolved. I believe Molly only heard yes when she asked if we were breaking up. My full answer was yes and no.”
Serena nodded. “You wanted to protect her.”
“I didn’t think she’d take it so hard and she never wants to see me again.” Nephlite’s voice broke a little on the last word.
“That’s awful. I wish there was something I could do.”
“You already have: You listened to me. Eventually I’ll be all right.” Nephlite knew that it would take a while to get over Molly, but at some point in the future, he would recover.
Chapter Seven- The Affliction
He coughed several times before moaning softly. Who knew he could contract human diseases? He had woken up the day after the break up with a fever and some coughing. He decided to contact Amy around noontime. He figured since her mom was a doctor and she was a smart girl, Amy could figure out what he had and how to treat it.
He brought out his communicator and called up Amy, knowing that it was lunchtime at school. A moment later, her face appeared on the screen. She had a smile on her face which quickly became a look of concern.
“Nephlite, are you all right? You look a little pale.”
“I’m feeling a little sick. I’ve got a fever and I’ve been coughing.” His point was punctuated by several coughs.
“Oh, dear. That cough sounds awful. I suggest you get some rest and I’ll come over after school.”
“Thanks, Amy. See you then.” Nephlite shut off the communicator and ended up falling into a fitful sleep.
A few hours later, Nephlite awoke as his front door opened. “Hello?” Amy’s voice called out.
“In here,” he called, his voice rough from coughing.
Amy entered his bedroom with Lita right behind her. For some reason, Lita’s presence comforted him. Why was that? What was it about Lita that made him feel this way?
Amy went up to him and put the back of her hand on his forehead and then on her cheek. “Hmm. That’s a mild fever. It could be the start of a cold.”
“Which is why I’m here,” Lita spoke up. She held up a brightly-colored bag. “I ran home and heated up some of the chicken soup I made last night for my dinner tonight.”
“Why chicken soup?” he asked. He wasn’t an expert on human medicine so the reason for the soup eluded him.
“Well, when someone has a cold, chicken soup is the best way to fight it.” Lita took out a bowl, a spoon, and a thermos as she talked. She uncapped the thermos and Nephlite saw steam issuing from the container. She poured the soup into the bowl, using mitts so she didn’t burn herself.
She spooned up some broth, blew on it, and held it out to Nephlite. He felt highly embarrassed. He was a grown man and Lita was planning to spoon feed him. However, his fever and the beginnings of a minor headache, prompted him to give in.
He opened his mouth and Lita put the spoon in and tipped it so the broth left the utensil. Nephlite swallowed and was left speechless. Lita was an excellent cook! The broth definitely tasted like chicken with several spices in it. Most importantly of all, he felt a little better. Lita continued to feed him until the bowl was empty. Amy checked his forehead again.
“The fever’s gone down a little,” she reported.
Lita beamed. “I told you chicken soup was good for a cold.”
“It was delicious,” Nephlite added. “You’re a very good cook.”
Lita blushed at the comment. “Thanks. I’ll…uh, leave everything here and pick it up tomorrow.” She put the bowl, spoon, and half-full thermos back in the bag and set it close to Nephlite.
Nephlite bid goodbye to the girls and rolled over with a soft sigh. The fever went down, his headache was gone, his coughing had subsided, and his throat was soothed. It was amazing what one bowl of soup could do. I’ll be feeling better in no time, he thought.
It was day three of being sick and it had gotten worse. His fever was raging, his coughs had become hacking fits, and a mild headache had come up. The scouts were worried. They had given him different medicines and remedies that seem to work for a little bit, but his symptoms would come back, worse than ever.
Nephlite was, likewise, worried. Shouldn’t he be getting better, not worse? Could it be that the medicine only worked a little on him? He may look human, but he certainly wasn’t human.
A sharp, sudden bolt of pain lanced through him, eliciting a pained gasp from him. His eyes widened when he reflected on where the pain had come from. He had discovered the origin: It had come directly from the Negaforce!
The Negaforce inflicted this disease on me. It intends to kill me…and it’s succeeding. A wave of despair washed over him. There was nothing anyone could do for him. He was going to die.
“You can’t die!” Serena exclaimed after Nephlite explained what he had learned.
The scouts and Luna came over on Nephlite’s fourth day. He knew from his connection to the Negaforce that this was his death day. He would be dead by the time the clock struck midnight.
“I don’t see how anyone can stop it,” Nephlite whispered hoarsely. “You all did what you could.”
“There has to be a way to cure you, to heal you,” Lita insisted.
“Heal? Wait, that may help,” Luna piped up.
“What’s that, Luna?” Serena asked.
“Well, since the Negaforce is causing this, perhaps the Crescent Moon Wand can heal him. It may even free him from his connection to it.”
“Let’s try it,” Amy said.
“Okay.” Serena dug into her bag and pulled it out. “Here goes. Moon Healing Activation!”
A feeling of warmth enveloped Nephlite, all his symptoms vanishing in an instant. He sensed the Negaforce in the back of his mind, screaming from the wand’s healing touch before its presence vanished from his mind.
As the warmth faded, he felt Amy’s hand on his forehead. “His fever’s gone.”
“Everything’s gone, including my connection,” Nephlite corrected, sitting up. “I’m completely free.”
It’ll stay that way, too, he added silently.
Chapter Eight- A Friend and a Date
As soon as the last bell rang, Lita was out of her seat in a flash. She sprinted down the hall, through the front doors, and down the sidewalk. She slid to a stop in front of Raye’s school and searched for her friend among the other students.
She finally spotted her and headed towards her. “Hey, Raye!”
The black-haired girl turned, saw Lita, and smiled. “Hi, Lita. This is a surprise,” she said as the tall girl reached her.
“Yeah, I know. I wanted to talk to you.”
“Okay. Let’s go.” The two girls started down the sidewalk for a few feet before Raye said, “So, what did you want to talk about?”
“I want to talk about Nephlite. Why don’t you like him? He’s our friend.”
“He used to be our enemy! You don’t know this, but he tried to collect energy from innocent people to power the Negaforce! It’s hard to forgive someone for doing all that.”
“He’s not like that anymore and besides, Serena and Amy have forgiven him.”
“We don’t know for sure that he’s changed. It could be an elaborate trick.”
“Oh, yeah,” Lita said sarcastically. “Real elaborate. You think his disease was part of your trick theory?”
“Good. Raye, he’s not connected to the Negaforce anymore. He’s, more or less, human now, just like us.” Personally, Lita thought Raye was being unreasonable. She thought of Nephlite as a special friend and ally.
I think I’m falling for him. There’s something about him that draws me to him.
Nephlite smiled to himself as he sat back on a park bench. The scouts insisted he spend the day relaxing after being ill the last few days. He acceded to their request. He really needed time to think, anyway.
I’m truly free. I don’t sense Zoycite’s emotions just as she can’t feel mine which is probably confusing her. I don’t know if I’m fully human. I can still use the powers I had before I lost my connection. They will definitely come in handy.
Nephlite paused in him musings and his thoughts turned to Lita. Ever since he met her, he felt drawn to her for reasons he didn’t understand. He didn’t know much about her, but it didn’t really matter to him.
As his thoughts continued to dwell on Lita, he briefly thought about Serena and Amy, but he paused when he came to Raye. Even though they were on the same side, she clearly didn’t trust him. He tried to be friendly, but she continued to turn down his offer of friendship. He wondered what it would take to break down her barriers.
Suddenly, his communicator went off. He pulled it out and heard Serena’s voice. “Amy, Raye, Lita, Nephlite. I need you. I’m at the art gallery.”
“On my way,” he answered. There could only be one reason Serena called: Another rainbow crystal. He happened to be close to the gallery and hope they would get this crystal, too.
As he rounded the corner that led to the street the gallery was on, he spotted Veena and Zoycite leaping over a fence that closed off a construction site that was across from the gallery. Sailor Moon was right after them, going through the entrance. He followed her and found himself in the start of a battle.
Veena was using feathers she had plucked from her wings to create rocks in mid-air which would then drop to the ground. Sailor Moon was doing her best to avoid them. Veena looked at Nephlite when he entered and her feathers started dropping rocks in his direction as well.
It figures, he thought as he dodged. She’s Zoycite’s warrior.
His dodges were carrying him further from Sailor Moon and he realized that if Veena unleashed something worse at this point, he would be unable to help her in time. His fear happened when Veena unleashed two lengths of rope toward Sailor Moon that turned to snakes! There was no way he would get there in time, even with his teleport power.
“Mars Fire Ignite!”
The snakes were instantly incinerated, thanks to the arrival of Sailor Mars as well as Mercury and Jupiter. Their arrival caused Veena to turn her attention to them and her feathers immediately created their rock barrage again. The three scouts were immediately separated from one another as they avoided getting hit.
With Veena distracted by her new targets, Nephlite was able to move in closer to the battle. Zoycite was probably long gone with the crystal, but Veena was not going anywhere that was for sure.
Then, he saw a very large boulder appear in the air and it was above Sailor Mars! The boulder fell towards the girl, who was unaware.
“Sailor Mars, look out!” Nephlite exclaimed even as he ran forward and tackled her with enough force to take them both out of the rock’s path.
Mars looked up at him, surprise etched on her face. “You-you saved me.” Her eyes narrowed suspiciously. “Why would you do a thing like that?”
Nephlite smiled at her as they got to their feet. “We’re on the same side. Why else would I save you? Besides, you’re my friend.”
Mars gave a small smile and as she re-joined the battle, Nephlite spotted a black figure on the scaffolding. It was Tuxedo Mask. If he was here, then that meant…Zoycite was still here! There was still a chance to get the crystal!
Nephlite teleported up to the top and as he appeared, he heard Tuxedo Mask say, “I’m not letting you get away with that crystal!” Nephlite’s appearance did not go unnoticed by either of the opponents.
Zoycite looked at him and a wicked smile appeared. “Ah, Nephlite. We finally meet again face-to-face. I thought you died awhile ago.”
“If you want to kill someone, do it right the first time,” Nephlite retorted.
“Hand over the crystal,” Tuxedo Mask demanded. “Then you and Nephlite can go back to fighting each other.”
“Sorry, I don’t think so.” Zoycite conjured an ice crystal that she hurled at Tuxedo Mask before leaving the scene.
The crystal was halfway to its target when Sailor Moon’s tiara struck it and turned it to dust. The scout leader landed in front of Tuxedo Mask. “Are you all right, Tuxedo Mask?”
“Oh, by the way, here.” She held out a star-shaped locket. “You dropped this.”
“You keep it. I’d probably lose it again.”
“What about that rainbow crystal you’ve got? Would you give that to me, too?”
“Sorry. I need it. I’m on a mission to collect them all and when the time comes, Nephlite, I’ll take the one you’ve got.”
Nephlite was stunned by the caped man’s words. I thought he was helping the scouts get the crystals.
“What’s this mission of yours?” he asked curiously.
“That’s my business. See ya.” Tuxedo Mask leaped off the building and out of sight.
Nephlite looked at Sailor Moon who was staring dreamily at where Tuxedo Mask had vanished. “Sailor Moon?” he ventured. When she snapped her attention to him, he continued, “I believe we have some unfinished business to take of down below.”
“Right, let’s go.”
“Hi, Nephlite. It’s Lita.”
“Hi, Lita. Is something wrong?”
“Oh, no. I was wondering if you like to drop by my apartment this afternoon for a visit.”
His eyes lit up. After yesterday’s battle with Veena, something as normal as visiting a friend was a welcome relief.
“I would like that. How does five o’ clock sound?”
“Sounds perfect. See you then.”
Nephlite rang the bell at exactly five. He wondered what they would be doing at her place. Tea, perhaps? He wasn’t hoping for anything grand. He was satisfied just knowing that Lita wanted to hang out together. A cozy dinner for two would be nice, though. He shook his head as though trying to drive the thought from his mind. Lita wouldn’t be thinking along those lines. They were just friends, nothing more.
The door opened to reveal Lita wearing her school uniform…and an apron? She smiled brightly at him, a light blush coloring her cheeks. “Come in. I was just finishing dinner.”
Nephlite stepped in and, as he slipped off his shoes, detected a rich aroma that seemed to permeate the entire apartment. His pulse quickened. Was Lita planning what he had been hoping for? No, surely not. She had been preparing dinner for herself that was all.
“Okay, done. Have a seat, Nephlite. I’ll get some tea.”
Nephlite sat down on the sofa before glancing around. The entire place had hardwood floors and plants were hanging everywhere. Lita apparently has a green thumb, not to mention that she’s neat and organized, he thought noting the apartment’s tidy state.
Lita came over with the promised tea and sat down next to him before pouring it and handing a cup to him. He took a sip and found it was better than any tea he ever had! Where did she learn to cook?
“So,” Lita began. “What are your interests?”
Nephlite cleared his throat. “I’m afraid there’s not much. I like astronomy and ice-skating.”
“Really? I like ice-skating too!”
“What else do you like?”
“Well, cooking, sewing, ballet, basketball, and dancing. I’m pretty good in my Home Economics class.”
Nephlite was impressed. She seemed to be a hands-on person as well as athletic. Cooking and sports don’t normally go together, but Lita managed to do it.
“Nephlite, there’s something I want to tell you,” Lita spoke up.
“What is it?” he asked gently.
“Well, I uh…I like you. I mean, really like you. I don’t know why, but I’ve felt drawn to you since we first met.”
“You have? I feel the same way about you.”
Lita flashed another bright smile. “Would you like to stay for dinner? There’s more than enough for two people.”
Nephlite smiled back. “I was hoping you’d ask.”
Chapter Nine- The Final Crystals
Nephlite and Lita began spending more time together, learning more about each other and examining their feelings about one another.
Lita showed Nephlite how to play basketball and shared some cooking secrets. It was during one such lesson that she revealed that she learned cooking from her mother.
Nephlite asked, “Where are your parents?” He was curious about why Lita’s parents would allow their fourteen-year-old daughter to live by herself.
“Oh, um, they’re somewhere else. I had to transfer because I kept getting into trouble at school for fighting.”
He noticed that she dropped her gaze and looked away when she answered. Clearly, talking about her parents was upsetting and he resolved to never mention them again.
“Um, so, how many rainbow crystals are left?” Lita asked after a few minutes of silence.
“Three,” he answered promptly. “One of them is my other warrior.”
“Well, that’s one less warrior we have to fight. I wonder what will happen after all seven have been found.”
“I wonder too, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”
Serena stared at Lita with concern written on her face. Her friend was staring into space with a dreamy expression on her face. What was with her? “Earth to Lita. What’s with you?”
Lita blinked before turning to Serena with a smile. “I think I’m in love,” she announced.
This was news to Serena. “You do? Who’s the possible boyfriend?” she asked eagerly.
Lita glanced around quickly to make sure they were alone before answering softly, “Nephlite.”
“What!? Nephlite? What happened to Andrew?”
“Nephlite and I just clicked. Besides, I hear Andrew’s in love.”
“No!” Serena wailed. “Why didn’t he mention her before? It’s not fair.”
“You still have a chance. Rita’s going away soon and that means you could still win him.”
“Of course I am. Romance will be ours and we won’t stop until we find it. We’re love scouts.”
“Then, let’s hit the arcade after school today so I can win him,” Serena declared.
Serena and Lita found out that Andrew was helping Rita pack for her trip. Serena was depressed until Lita mentioned that Andrew had asked her to help him learn to cook and she was going to head over to his place to make beef stroganoff that night. Serena immediately stated that she was coming along.
Lita led Serena to Andrew’s place. They had just reached the apartment building’s gate when a voice called, “Lita!”
Lita stopped suddenly and whirled around, a smile lighting up her face. “Hi, Nephlite!” she practically sang out.
“What are you up to?” he asked casually when he caught up to them.
“Andrew asked me to help him cook a meal for him and his girlfriend.”
“That’s really nice of you.” A light blush colored his cheeks as he said this.
Lita, likewise, blushed. “It is, isn’t it?”
Serena observed the exchange and didn’t miss the blush on either of their faces. They clearly liked each other, just as Lita had said. It seemed hard to believe, but there it was, plain as day.
“Perhaps, we can get together tomorrow,” Nephlite suggested.
“Sure. Tomorrow,” Lita replied.
“My place. Five o’ clock. See you then.” Nephlite held Lita’s hand for a minute before releasing it and continuing on his way.
Nephlite wandered aimlessly, his thoughts on Lita. The two of them had become very close in the last two weeks. He found her attractive and he enjoyed her company. She was fun and knew how to have a good time, but she was also serious, particularly when it came to something that meant a lot to her.
A beeping sound from his pants pocket alerted him. His communicator! He pulled it out. “This is Sailor Moon,” came a voice from the communicator. “We have a rainbow crystal alert.”
“I’ll be right there,” he answered. He put the communicator away and focused on the stars. Since it was nighttime, his altar wasn’t necessary to communicate with them.
“Stars, where is Zoycite right now?” He reasoned that his enemy was still in the process of extracting the crystal. His hunch was right. The stars revealed a construction site not unlike the last one where Zoycite took Peggy’s crystal. He focused on teleportation and he vanished from his present location…
…and re-appeared between Zoycite and Tuxedo Mask. He looked down and couldn’t believe his luck. The crystal was right there in front of him! He quickly snatched it up and teleported outside the site.
The ex-general looked over to see Sailors Mercury and Mars running up to him.
“Where’s the monster?” Mars asked. Nephlite pointed at the site. “She’s in there, but she won’t be a problem. I got a look at her. Her name is Techniclon and she’s my warrior.”
“What luck!” Mercury exclaimed.
“That’s not all.” He grinned as he held up a blue crystal. “I got the crystal too.”
“Well, let’s get in there and help our friends,” Mars declared.
The three friends entered to find Zoycite and Tuxedo Mask gone and Sailors Moon and Jupiter locked in a stand-off with Techniclon. The warrior broke eye contact with the scouts when Nephlite entered.
“General Nephlite! It’s you!’
“Hello, Techniclon. It’s nice to see you again. Are you ready to follow me again?”
“I’m always ready.”
“Good. Just close your eyes, stay where you are, and don’t do a thing.”
Techniclon blinked at the odd orders, but nevertheless closed her eyes and said, “As you wish.”
Jupiter caught Sailor Moon’s eye and nodded at the Shadow Warrior. Sailor Moon nodded and stepped forward, Moon Wand in hand. “Moon Healing Activation!”
Nephlite stepped inside the café two days after healing Rita. He had received a call from Lita asking him to meet her and Amy. He spotted them in the back of the shop and headed over.
Hi, Amy. Lita,” he greeted putting some love to his tone when saying Lita’s name.
Lita didn’t blush at the way he said her name like she usually did. In fact, both girls looked grim. He grew worried. Had the Negaverse concocted a plan to turn the scouts against him?
“What happened?” he asked, almost afraid to hear the answer.
“It’s Raye,” Amy replied with a sigh. “I’m afraid she’s out of line with her temper this time.”
Relief and concern washed over him. He was relieved that the scouts were still his friends, but he was concerned that Raye’s friendship with the others was in trouble.
“Tell me what happened.”
“I think Raye’s worried about her grandpa. She said he’s being acting weird since he fell off the roof last night.”
“Fell off the roof!? That’s awful.”
“Yeah, well,” Lita spoke up. “Apparently some down and out rock star showed up last night too and asked to be an apprentice. Grandpa played a joke on him- nothing serious just a bucket of water. Serena found it funny and started laughing and Raye yelled at her. Amy and I left the temple at that point, mad at Raye.”
“I’m still upset,” Amy cut in. “Ever since we met Raye, she and Serena were always arguing and I’m tired of having to play peacemaker.”
“Yes,” Nephlite said slowly. “I seem to recall a couple of disagreements between Sailors Moon and Mars.”
“Yeah. I’m kind of tired of them fighting, too,” Lita added. “Even now, Serena’s trying to apologize and hoping to get Raye to apologize also.”
“It sounds like she’s on the right track,” Nephlite commented.
“She can try if she wants to,” Amy said. “I rather wait until Raye grows up.”
“That’s a bit harsh, don’t you think?” Nephlite asked. “I mean, despite her temper, she is a friend, right? You did say she’s worried about her grandpa. It seems to me that she could really use her friends now more than ever.”
Both girls were silent as they let Nephlite’s words sink in. Finally, Lita nodded. “You’re right. If she’s having problems she’d be glad that her friends would be there to support her. Let’s go apologize right now, Amy.”
Lita smiled at Nephlite as she stood up. “Thanks for the advice. We’re lucky to have you on our side.”
Nephlite rubbed his forehead as he walked down the sidewalk, the river flowing along down and to his left. He had been having strange dreams for the past week. He didn’t understand what they meant. Actually, it was just one dream over and over. He kept seeing a figure who was dressed as a prince in armor, but he couldn’t see his face. It was always in shadow. Last night, his dream had expanded to show four figures standing around the prince in a square formation. Once again, no faces were discernible.
He lowered his hand and saw Raye leaning against the railing that separated the sidewalk from the river. “Raye!” he called.
Raye looked over and smiled. “Hi, Nephlite,” she greeted when he got closer. Her smile widened into an amused grin.
“Something funny?” he asked.
“Yeah. Several days ago I would have ignored you and now I’m happy to see you.”
Nephlite chuckled. “Yes, that is funny.”
Movement below caught their eyes and they looked down to see Luna and an enormous cat running from an open pipe. A massive outpouring of rats showed up seconds later.
“I’m sensing Nega-vibes,” Raye suddenly announced. “Mars Power!”
Nephlite kept an eye on the scene. Could that strange cat be a crystal carrier? If so, there was only one monster he could be. Raye had described the one her grandpa had become and he identified it as Jiji. So, the cat had to be Bakene, who had been Jedite’s warrior. Who knew who he would obey now?
By the time Mars had finished transforming; Zoycite had emerged from a pile of rats. Nephlite couldn’t help but see the symbolism of Zoycite’s appearance in this situation. He jumped over the railing and slid down the side as Mars launched into a speech about love. Zoycite gave an amused smile before proceeding to extract the crystal. As he suspected, the large cat was a carrier and he was Bakene.
The crystal was in Zoycite’s hand and as Nephlite stepped forward to wrestle it from her, a rose flew through the air and sliced across Zoycite’s hand, causing her to drop the crystal.
Tuxedo Mask appeared in front of the coppery-blonde and grabbed the crystal. “This one’s mine, Zoycite,” he declared.
“Give that back,” Zoycite demanded.
“Sorry. Finder’s keepers.” Tuxedo Mask leaped up the side, over the railing, and ran away with the crystal.
“Come back here!” Zoycite called after him. As she prepared to give chase, she added, “Bakene, get him!” before taking off herself.
But, Bakene didn’t move. Instead, his gaze was focused on Nephlite. This action didn’t confuse him or Mars, but she did have a question.
“Why do some of the carriers follow you and not Zoycite?”
“Each one pledged loyalty to one or more generals. Jedite had two: Bobo and Bakene. He’s locked in eternal sleep and for some reason, his warriors decided to shift their allegiance.”
At this point, Sailors Moon, Mercury, and Jupiter arrived and Bakene was reverted to his cat self.
Chapter Ten- Sailor Venus
“Our enemies have four of the rainbow crystals. We must get them in order to obtain the Silver Crystal and unleash the Negaforce,” Queen Beryl said, glaring at her number three general.
Zoycite bowed. “Don’t worry, Queen Beryl. I’ll get those crystals and I’ll start with Nephlite.” She held up the Dark Crystal. “Show me Nephlite’s greatest weakness!”
The image of a girl with green eyes and a brown ponytail appeared and Zoycite smirked as she took in the information the crystal gave her. “Lita Kino. She’ll help me get the crystals Nephlite’s got.”
“Allow me to deal with Nephlite.”
“Are you saying you don’t trust me, Malachite?”
“I trust you, Zoycite. But Nephlite knows your tactics. I have a plan. I’ll kidnap the girl like you would. Nephlite will believe you’re behind it and will be unprepared to face me. I’ll get him to trade the crystals for the girl. Meanwhile, you will distract the scouts to keep them from helping Nephlite and to draw out Tuxedo Mask and get his crystals.”
“Oh, Malachite, that’s brilliant. Queen Beryl will be pleased when we get all four at the same time. Let’s get started.”
Lita hummed to herself as she chopped up vegetables for the dinner she and Nephlite were having. All seven crystals had been found and now the race to gather them together was on. She just wasn’t sure how they could get the ones the Negaverse has.
At least they won’t get Nephlite’s, she thought. He’s keeps them with him at all times. Any monster would have to fight him in order to take them.
A knock at her door drew her attention. She checked the clock. Hmm. He’s a little early. No matter! I’d rather have a boyfriend who’s early than one who’s late.
“One moment!” she called, setting down the knife and heading for the door.
She smiled brightly as she opened the door. “Hi, Nephlite! I-oh!” She broke off her sentence when she saw an unfamiliar man at her door. He had blue eyes, long white hair, and was wearing a familiar uniform.
The man raised a hand and a concussive blast hit Lita hard, sending her to the floor. Lita hit the floor and before she lost consciousness thought, He’s from the Negaverse! Nephlite, help!
Malachite smirked as he picked up the unconscious girl, closed the door, and slid a note underneath it. That had been too easy. Nephlite was probably on his way, judging from the girl’s greeting. He needed to get the trap set. He teleported from the scene, the unconscious Lita still in his arms.
Nephlite walked down the hall to Lita’s apartment, feeling anxious. He felt like something was wrong, but he couldn’t place it. Try as he might, he couldn’t shake this feeling.
He reached the door and rang the bell. He didn’t hear Lita’s voice or her footsteps. He rang again and again he heard nothing. He checked his watch. He was a little early, but not that early. He was starting to feel concerned and decided to teleport in.
He appeared inside and looked around. No sign of Lita. Where was she? She had partially chopped vegetables on the counter and he knew she would never leave in the midst of preparation.
His attention was drawn by a folded piece of paper on the usually clean floor. He picked it up and opened it. He frowned as he read, “I have the girl. Surrender the rainbow crystals or she dies.”
Lita. Don’t you worry. Zoycite will pay for this! Nephlite clenched the note in his fist, electricity arcing over his fist and setting the paper on fire.
He pulled out his communicator. “Serena, I need your help.” Instead of Serena appearing, it was Sailor Moon, which surprised him. “Sailor Moon?”
“Nephlite, what’s wrong?”
“Lita’s been kidnapped.”
“I’m afraid the rest of us are in trouble. Zoycite set a trap for us.”
Zoycite? How could she kidnap Lita and set a trap for the others? It doesn’t make sense.
“All right,” he said. “I’ll save Lita. She’s at the abandoned warehouse at the pier. Join me there as soon as you can.” The note had contained the location before he burned it.
“We’ll do that.” The screen blinked off and Nephlite left to rescue his girlfriend.
As Lita came to, her first thought was, Where am I? She opened her eyes to see that she was in an abandoned warehouse. She further discovered that she was securely bound. She was unable to reach her power stick.
It took her no time to figure out why she was attacked: They were using her to get Nephlite’s crystals. It was a low, dirty trick to her. If you want something from an enemy, you should have enough guts to face the enemy head-on.
Lita wasn’t alone in the warehouse. The man who kidnapped her was there as well as two tough-looking monsters. None of them seemed to notice that she was awake. They were involved in their own conversation.
“Do you think he will come, General Malachite?” one monster asked.
“He will come. He cares a great deal for the girl,” Malachite answered. His eyes flicked over to Lita. “Ah, she’s awake.”
Lita responded by sending a glare at him. Amazingly, he took her expression the wrong way. “Don’t worry,” he told her. “I’m sure Nephlite will give up his crystals to save your pathetic life.”
As if on cue, the warehouse doors flew open and Nephlite entered, eyes sparking with fury. “Zoycite!” he yelled. “Where are you!? You’re dead this time!”
“Zoycite couldn’t make it,” Malachite replied, stepping forward. “But will I do instead?”
“Malachite,” he growled. “So, you and Zoycite are working together.”
“Yes. She will get Tuxedo Mask’s crystals and I will get yours.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure about getting any of the crystals.”
“You think so?” He nodded to one of the monsters, who produced a sword and put the razor-sharp edge to Lita’s throat. “Now, what was that you were saying?”
Nephlite looked at Lita, feeling helpless. Her emerald eyes looked at him, pleadingly but completely dry. If there was only some way he could free her so she could hide and become Jupiter, he would do it. But if he took a step toward her, the monster would surely kill her before he could take a second step.
Malachite floated toward him. “Just give me the crystals and I’ll spare her worthless life.”
“Her life is not worthless!”
“You’ve changed. You’re acting more like these pathetic humans.”
Nephlite said nothing, merely glared at his enemy. The truth was, despite his powers, he was human. It wasn’t the bad thing that Malachite was making it to be. Of course, there would be no point in telling Malachite that.
The white-haired general held out his hand. “Hand over the crystals, now or she dies!”
He hesitated for a moment and then with a sigh of defeat, reached into his pocket. He pulled out his fist and opened it to reveal the yellow and blue crystals. He closed his hand, reached out, and put them in Malachite’s hand.
Malachite teleported away the moment the crystals changed hands. The monster with the sword cut Lita loose and then he and his partner left as well. As Nephlite helped Lita up, the Sailor Scouts came into the warehouse.
“Are we late?” Mercury asked.
“Yes,” Nephlite answered. “Zoycite teamed up with Malachite, the fourth general. He was holding Lita to get my crystals. He succeeded.”
“You let him take the crystals!?” Mars exclaimed.
“He had no choice,” Lita spoke up. “I had a sword at my throat and as soon as he had the crystals, Malachite left.”
“Oh,” Mars said softly.
“Well as least Zoycite didn’t get Tuxedo Mask’s crystals,” Mercury added. “That was why she set that trap for us.”
“I wonder what the fifth scout is like,” Lita said as she and Nephlite continued making their dinner.
Nephlite knew what Lita was talking about. Luna mentioned a fifth Sailor Scout at their last meeting. He gave the vegetables in the skillet a light toss. “I have no doubt that she’s nice.”
“Yeah. I think you’re right. I can’t wait to meet her.”
Lita wouldn’t have to wait long. The next day, reports were made that Sailor Moon broke up an armed robbery. Nephlite had been at home when the story came on the TV news. He stared at the image on the screen. It almost looked like Sailor Moon, but the red parts of the clothes were purple. This Sailor Moon was a fake! Who was she? Could she be…the fifth Scout?
Nephlite was still pondering this when his communicator went off that afternoon. It was Serena. “Someone’s pretending to be me and we’re going to get to the bottom of this. She was heading in the direction of the pier.”
“We certainly will,” he replied. “I’ll meet you girls at the pier.”
Night had fallen by the time everyone had gathered together. Amy had also considered the fact that this girl could be the fifth Sailor. Serena was determined to face this girl and chew her out for impersonating her.
They located the fake Sailor Moon hanging from a crane with Malachite standing on a rooftop nearby. Nephlite suddenly had a bad feeling about the situation. But, if she was a scout, then she needed help. “We need to be careful,” he said at last. “Malachite is cold and ruthless. He’s also the toughest warrior of the Negaverse.”
“Yes, we need to be careful,” Amy agreed. “Perhaps, we need to come in from two sides. Nephlite, you could strike from there.” She pointed to a storage warehouse near the crane. “The rest of us will transform and come in from over there,” she continued pointing to Malachite’s right.
“All right. Let’s do it,” Nephlite declared. As he teleported to his assigned post, he heard the scouts speak their transformation words.
He appeared in the warehouse, among some wooden shipping crates. He moved to the doors where he had an excellent view of the crane, but no one could see him. He still had a bad feeling so decided to choose his actions carefully. After all, it hadn’t been all that long that Malachite had set a trap for him in order to get his crystals.
He then saw a black figure race toward the crane: Tuxedo Mask! He leaped into the air, cut the rope, and cradled the unconscious girl in his arms before landing on the ground. The moment he landed, a lightning bolt struck the crane, sending Tuxedo Mask charging into the warehouse he was in! He moved away from the door and into the shadows as Tuxedo Mask entered the building.
“It’s all right now, we’re safe. You’ll be okay,” Tuxedo Mask spoke to the fake scout.
The girl suddenly opened her eyes and Nephlite gasped. In spite of her disguise, he recognized her: Zoycite! It was a trap! He summoned his sword as he raced forward.
“Tuxedo Mask, look out!” he called even as he swung his sword and knocked the ice crystal Zoycite had summoned out of the woman’s hand.
Tuxedo Mask leaped back from Zoycite and gave Nephlite a thumbs-up. “Thanks for the help,” he said before heading for a hiding spot. Nephlite also hid. It was better to take Zoycite by surprise in this instance rather than face her head-on.
“You two can run, but you can’t hide,” Zoycite taunted. “I’ll find you both!”
It turns out that Nephlite hid himself better than Tuxedo Mask did because Zoycite found the caped warrior and forced him out into the open. Zoycite had formed an ice sword and swung it at Tuxedo Mask who blocked it with his cane.
“Surrender the crystals!” Zoycite demanded, blasting a stream of cherry blossoms at Tuxedo Mask, causing his mask to come off.
Nephlite gasped as he saw the unmasked face. I know that face! He’s the one I saw at that doll exhibit. What did Serena say his name was? Oh, yes, I remember. His name’s Darien. I only saw him once but why do I feel as if we had met before that exhibit?
“Just surrender,” Zoycite demanded again as she pushed the now glowing sword closer to her enemy’s face.
“I’ll never surrender,” was Tuxedo Mask’s answer.
“Fine. Have it your way.”
Nephlite then sensed another presence nearby. He glanced about and spotted a figure in a window above. It was female and she was wearing a Sailor Scout suit! “She’s the fifth Scout,” he said softly to himself. “She has to be.”
“You’ve got that right, friend,” a new voice spoke up.
Nephlite looked behind and to his right to see a white cat with blue eyes and a crescent moon on his forehead. “Who are you?” he asked.
“I’m Artemis, Sailor Venus’s guardian.”
“Venus Crescent Beam Smash!”
The sound of Venus launching an attack caused Nephlite to turn his attention back to the battle. A beam of light cut through the air and across Zoycite’s hand. Her agonized cry of “My hand!” brought him a sense of morbid satisfaction.
As Zoycite looked in Venus’s direction, Nephlite saw Tuxedo Mask gather up his mask and slip away. By that time, Zoycite noticed her opponent was gone. She looked back up and so did Nephlite. Sailor Venus was gone and he had no doubt that Artemis went with her.
“They both disappeared!” Zoycite exclaimed. “No! This can’t be! All the scouts are inside Malachite’s dome!”
Nephlite inhaled sharply upon hearing that. The scouts were in trouble? He needed to help them! He focused on teleporting to where he last saw them.
Jupiter was having trouble staying on her feet. Malachite was too strong and the dome was proof of that. They were in serious danger this time. They needed help.
A strong pull was suddenly felt. It felt like a magnetic pull on her planet, Jupiter. She opened her eyes to see Nephlite rushing toward them, a sword at his side. He raised his weapon; the blade glowing white and electricity circling it, and he brought it down, cutting the dome and shattering it.
Malachite flinched as the dome shattered. He glared at Nephlite who stared back levelly, his glowing, crackling sword held down at his side. Clearly, Nephlite wasn’t weak or powerless. I obviously underestimated him. I won’t make that mistake again.
“Impressive, Nephlite,” he said at last as Zoycite walked up next to him. He gave her a sideways look.
“I had Tuxedo Mask cornered when a Sailor Scout attacked me,” she reported.
“Impossible. You can see that all the scouts are right here.”
“Yeah, I see that.” She appeared thoughtful for a moment and then she fired an angry glare at Nephlite. “You! You must have tricked me with some kind of illusion!”
Nephlite didn’t answer. Zoycite knew he couldn’t create illusions and illusions can’t deal actual damage as her hand would testify. It was just ridiculous that she was trying to excuse her failure. The truth was she had gotten overconfident in her near-victory and distracted by Venus’s attack and appearance. He knew personally that overconfidence and how being distracted can lead to defeat.
Malachite raised his hands. “You got lucky with my first dome, Nephlite, but I’ll trap you with the scouts in another one that will be even stronger. You won’t be able to break out.”
“Stop right there, Nega-creeps,” a female voice rang out.
“There it is!” Zoycite cried. “That voice. It’s her again!”
Everyone looked up to a rooftop where a blond girl in a mask and an orange Sailor Scout suit stood. “Where’d she come from?” Malachite demanded as though someone could give an answer.
The girl leaped down to join everyone on the ground. She struck a pose before announcing, “I’m Sailor Venus and if you guys are looking to make trouble-“ Venus paused to remove her mask. “Here it comes right back at ya! Venus Crescent Beam…Smash!”
Once again, Nephlite saw a beam of light flash through the air, but this time it hit both of Malachite’s hands.
“Oh no, Malachite! Your hands!” Zoycite glared at the scouts and Nephlite. “You all will pay for this!”
“I don’t think so,” Sailor Moon said. “You guys are moon dust.”
“Malachite! Zoycite! Return at once!” Beryl’s voice suddenly thundered over the battlefield.
“We don’t have the crystals Queen Beryl,” Malachite protested.
Beryl’s face appeared in the sky behind the generals and Nephlite was reminded of how scary Beryl can be when she’s angry. Of course, he no longer had to fear her wrath.
“I know that,” Beryl told Malachite. “But leave them be for now.”
“We can win,” Zoycite insisted.
“Zoycite, Never Question Me!”
“We better hit it,” Malachite told his love.
“We’re in for an earful,” the coppery-blonde agreed. Both generals looked at their enemies.
“You got lucky today, but everyone’s luck runs out,” Malachite said. Then he, Zoycite, and Beryl’s face vanished from sight.
“Sailor Venus,” Jupiter said as the group stood on the walkway to the lighthouse. “I can’t believe it. It’s great to meet you.”
Venus flashed a bright smile. “It’s wonderful to be here.” At that moment, a breeze sprang up behind her, causing her hair to blow sideways.
“Oh,” Sailor Moon gasped. “Are you the Moon Princess we’ve been looking for?”
“I don’t know,” Venus replied.
Nephlite could see why Sailor Moon had asked that question because, at that moment, Sailor Venus certainly looked like a princess.
Chapter Eleven- The Moon Princess
The following afternoon, Nephlite, Lita, and Amy were heading to Cherry Hill Temple for the scout meeting Luna had called the night before. Serena wasn’t with them because she had gotten detention again. While the girls talked about school, Nephlite was reflecting on his recurring dream.
He was still seeing that prince with no face, but a few time he looked like Darien. On the other hand, the four other people, whom he guessed were guards, were still just shadowy figures. He didn’t start having this dream until after his Negaforce connection was broken. Why was he having this dream and what did it mean?
He started and blinked before focusing on Lita. She and Amy wore looks of concern. “I’m sorry. What?” he said.
“I was wondering if you were okay. You were a little quiet.”
“I was thinking about this dream I’ve been having.”
“Just one?” Amy asked. “How long have you been having it?”
“I started having it about a week before we found the last crystal.”
“What’s it about?”
“Actually, it’s more like a vision. At first, there was this prince only I can’t see his face. Then, I saw four guards standing around him in a square shape. Recently, the prince is starting to look like Darien.”
“Huh,” Lita said as they climbed the temple steps. “I wonder what it means.”
“As do I.”
“It seems strange that he would look like Darien,” Amy commented.
“Who looks like Darien?” spoke up Raye. They had just reached the top before Amy finished speaking.
“I’ve had visions of a prince and lately he looks like Darien,” Nephlite answered.
“That’s interesting. Hey, where’s Serena?”
“Detention,” Lita replied.
Raye huffed. “Honestly. Now we have to wait for her to start the meeting.”
“Not to mention Sailor Venus,” Luna added.
“That Serena’s not a Sailor Scout, she’s a Failure Scout,” Raye complained about an hour later.
“I’m really worried,” Amy said.
“Even for her, it’s beyond late,” Lita added.
“Yes, even with detention she should have been here by now,” Luna chimed in.
“I agree,” Nephlite added. “She might be in trouble.”
“You try her on the communicator?” Raye asked Amy.
Amy nodded. “I did and I got nothing but static.”
“Is this the Sailor Scout meeting?” a new voice asked.
All five, four people and one cat, looked at the entrance to see Artemis and a blonde girl in a school uniform like Amy’s except it was with a scarf instead of a bow. She looked familiar to Nephlite. Was she Sailor Venus?
The girl looked the other girls over, but they lit up when she saw Nephlite. “I am in the right place,” she declared.
“Who are you?” Raye asked.
“Don’t tell me you forgot a handsome cat like me,” Artemis said.
“I’m Mina,” the blonde answered.
Amy gasped. “Sailor Venus, is that you? You look different.”
“We all look different in real life,” Mina explained. “I didn’t recognize you at first.” She smiled at Nephlite. “I recognized you right away, though.”
Out of the corner of his eye, Nephlite saw Lita edge closer to him. She slipped her hand into his and gave Mina an unthreatening yet firm look that Nephlite was already taken. Interesting, he thought. Lita’s jealous. She thinks Mina’s interested in me. He gave Lita’s hand a squeeze to let her know that he was only interested in her.
“Let’s get to it,” Artemis cut in. “If Sailor Moon’s real name is Serena, she’s probably in a heap of trouble.”
“Looks to me like you guys were probably arguing because she hasn’t shown up yet and she hasn’t called or anything?” Mina said.
“Serena can be a real flake,” Luna admitted. “But this time, I’ve got a real bad feeling.”
Mina suddenly turned around toward the stairs. Lita called, “Hey, where are you going?”
“We passed the Starlight Tower earlier and got bad vibes. We should check it out. You guys coming?”
Mina’s knack for sensing danger was amazing, Nephlite couldn’t help noticing. The others were concerned about Serena being late, but hadn’t considered that she was in danger. Mina, however, put Serena’s lateness with the bad vibes at the Starlight Tower to conclude that she might be there.
The girls had transformed and now they and Nephlite stood outside the tower. At first glance, there didn’t seem to be anything wrong, but then he picked up nega-vibes like the scouts usually did.
“I don’t see any way in guys,” Mars said.
“Mercury, can you do a computer scan?” Jupiter asked.
Mercury switched on her VR visor and scanned the tower. “Serena’s trapped in an elevator with Darien.”
“Can we get them out?” Mars asked.
“I don’t think so,” Mercury answered. “Everything is sealed.”
“We got to get into that building,” Luna insisted.
“I call upon the great power of Jupiter! Help me bust into that building! Jupiter Thunder…Crash!” Jupiter unleashed a thunderbolt which blasted a door off its hinges. The result left the other scouts stunned.
“Nothing like the direct approach,” Jupiter commented.
I never get tired of watching Jupiter’s thunder attacks, Nephlite thought as the gang ran into the building.
As they ran up the stairs, Nephlite felt Negaverse powers at work. Either Malachite or Zoycite were pulling off something big.
“Hurry, everyone,” Luna urged. Her urgency made it clear that something big was going on. It became apparent moments later. He sensed the area was warping. Yes, the tower was transforming into a place that could trap them all inside.
“We gotta hurry,” Jupiter said. “I’m getting major Nega-vibes.”
Obviously I’m not the only one who noticed, he thought. An opening at the top of the stairs came into view. They stopped at the threshold and Nephlite briefly glanced around. The warped area reminded him of a cave and the Negaverse. He tore his gaze away from the surroundings to focus on two people several feet away.
Tuxedo Mask, mask off, was lying on the floor with a serous wound. It looks fatal, he thought, a lump forming in his throat. He wasn’t sure why this sight was affecting him the way it was. He felt sad about their ally being injured, but he couldn’t explain why it felt worse than it normally would.
Sailor Moon was kneeling next to Tuxedo Mask, crying. It made sense: She was in love with him and he was dying. There was no doubt in his mind of who was responsible for this.
His eyes flicked to his right and his face hardened. Zoycite was standing there, a smug smile on her face. She was a grim reminder of how he used to be before he fell for Molly.
“That’s Tuxedo Mask,” Venus said.
“Yeah, but I think we’re too late,” Mars added.
Sailor Moon sobbed, “Dear Darien, you can’t go. You can’t.”
So I was right last night. Darien is Tuxedo Mask. I still feel as if I’ve known him for a long time.
As he stood there silently feeling Sailor Moon’s sorrow, seven twinkling lights appeared above Sailor Moon: The Rainbow Crystals!
It would seem that Tuxedo Mask somehow lost his crystals. Nephlite watched in amazement as the seven crystals, one by one, merged together. Once they had combined…The Imperium Silver Crystal appeared! The sight of it took his breath away. It was even more beautiful than he imagined.
“What happens now?” he heard Artemis ask.
“I don’t know,” Luna replied. “Maybe the princess will be revealed.”
I’ve wondered for some time about the princess. Perhaps the waiting is finally over, Nephlite thought as the crystal attached itself to the Moon Wand and the item hovered in the air over Tuxedo Mask and Sailor Moon, the latter rising to her feet as if in a trance.
“It’s Sailor Moon!” Venus exclaimed.
“She’s the Moon Princess,” Mercury said, awed.
“Who’ve thought?” Mars marveled as Sailor Moon’s tiara disappeared to be replaced with a crescent moon and her Sailor suit became a floor-length white dress. Her entire figure was glowing pink.
“Sailor Moon,” Luna said in awe as her own crescent moon glowed. “You’re the Moon Princess from so long ago. Right in front of me and I didn’t even know it.”
“I never would have thought she was the princess,” Nephlite said.
“Yeah,” Jupiter agreed. “Who would have guessed that Serena, of all people, would be the Moon Princess? It’s a total blow away.”
“Tell me about it,” Mars added.
“What about Darien?” Mercury asked. “I can’t believe he’s Tuxedo Mask. Oh, Mars I’m sorry. You must feel terrible.”
Mars shook her head slightly. “I guess they were meant to be long before Darien and I,” she said as Serena knelt beside Tuxedo Mask and put his head in her lap.
“Enough with all your silly chatter,” Zoycite finally spoke up. “I want that Imperium Silver Crystal and I’m going to get it. Zoy!” She sent a black wave of energy at Serena, but it didn’t faze her. It might as well have been a pleasant breeze.
She rose from the floor, the pink glow already gone, and raised the wand. “Cosmic Moon Power,” she said in a voice that didn’t sound like Serena or Sailor Moon.
“No!” Zoycite cried out before a pink blast from the crystal sent her flying into a rock pillar. She hit hard and fell to the floor, unconscious.
Serena resumed her kneeling position by Tuxedo Mask. “Please do not go,” she pleaded in that same strange voice. “I need you.” A tear fell from her eye and landed on the unconscious man’s face.
Tuxedo Mask opened his eyes and focused on the princess. “You’re-you’re finally free Serena,” he said softly and yet he was heard by everyone. He put a gloved hand on her cheek. “You’re free and now I remember everything. It’s all so clear. I am Prince Darien.”
Prince Darien! The title and name struck a chord in Nephlite’s mind and once again he didn’t know why it did. He saw his dream flash through his mind again. Once again, the guards were in shadow, but the prince was crystal clear and it was Darien! The reason he was having this dream still eluded him but he sensed he was close to finding out.
“Prince Darien,” Serena spoke up, her voice also soft but audible. “I am remembering now too. I am Princess Serena of the Moon Kingdom and you were a prince from Earth. One day we were to be married. I can picture the last time we were together. I gave you my star locket so you would always remember me. It was right before the last battle with the Negaverse and you were going to defend our kingdom from the dark forces. It was the last time I saw you. You did come back and you set me free just like in our dream. We are free.” Serena’s form glowed again and she changed back to Sailor Moon before fainting.
“Sailor Moon!” Jupiter exclaimed as everyone rushed over to her.
“She collapsed. What happened?” Venus asked as Mercury put Sailor Moon’s head in her lap. The scout leader still had the wand clutched in her hand.
“This whole thing must have been too much for her,” Luna answered.
“Check her pulse. Is she gonna be all right?” Jupiter asked.
Venus checked Sailor Moon over before replying, “I think so. Just a little fainting spell.”
“How princess-like,” Mercury commented.
“All those memories flooding back must have overloaded her royal circuits,” Artemis said. “I’m sure she’ll be fine.”
Meanwhile, Mars was trying to wake Darien. “Come on, Darien wake up. It’s me, Raye.” All Darien did was lay there unconscious, yet groaning in pain.
“We gotta get him to a doctor,” Jupiter pointed out. “He needs help fast.”
“Nobody’s going anywhere,” a weak voice spoke up. Everyone turned toward it to see Zoycite slowly getting to her feet. “I hope you got a good look at your princess ‘cause she’s going back into history. You’re all…history.”
The weak sound of her voice stirred the tiniest bit of sympathy from Nephlite. She may be the enemy, but still he felt a little bad for her. It must be my humanity that makes me feel this way.
Malachite then appeared next to Zoycite, the latter collapsing against the former. “Zoycite, you’re trembling!” he exclaimed, wrapping an arm around her back and right arm.
Zoycite put her right hand on his chest. “Help me, Malachite. Help me get them all before they escape. They’ll find the exit and take the Imperium Crystal with them.”
“No, they won’t,” Malachite countered. “They’ll never find their way out of here. We’ll get that crystal, don’t you worry. But there’s something else we need to get too.”
“Oh, yeah?” Venus retorted. “Well, you’ll have to deal with us first, Pretty Boy.”
As Sailors Jupiter, Mars, and Venus stepped up to face Malachite, Nephlite called up his sword and stepped in front of the scouts. “If you want to get to the scouts, you’ll have to deal with me first.” He pointed the sword at Malachite and was shocked to see electricity circling the blade! He had seen electricity crackling along the blade’s length before, but this was different. Why was it acting like this?
Malachite ignored Nephlite as he said, “Cool your jets, Sailor brats. It’s not you I’m interested in.” He sent a blast of black energy like Zoycite had done earlier.
Nephlite held his sword vertically with the edge facing out. The energy veered around him and the scouts. Oh no! Sailor Moon! he thought in horror as he whirled around.
But Sailor Moon wasn’t the target. Instead the energy engulfed Darien and then disappeared, taking the prince with it.
“Darien, no!” Mars cried as Zoycite and Malachite teleported out. “They got Darien. What are they going to do with him?”
“They’ll keep him alive,” Nephlite told her.
Mars sounded close to tears as she asked, “How can you be sure?”
“If they wanted to kill him, they would have already done so. They probably want him for questioning or perhaps as a hostage to get the Silver Crystal,” he answered as he picked up Sailor Moon. “But, for right now, let’s find the way out.”
Chapter Twelve- The Past Revealed
“Which way, Mercury?” Jupiter asked sometime later. The gang had been wandering around the confusing caverns of what had been the Starlight Tower for a little while but didn’t seem any closer to getting out and Mercury confirmed it.
“I’m not sure you guys.” She took in readings of the area with her VR visor before punching the data into her computer. “It’s hard to get readings in this place. It’s like we’re in another dimension.”
“Like a time warp thing?” Luna asked.
“Yes,” Mercury replied. “It’s like a combination of time warp and negative space. And so now I have to try to convert the radical readings I’m getting in here into the same format as the original ones that got us in here. Only I’m not sure my computer has enough memory to do all the calculations.”
Nephlite didn’t quite follow Mercury’s explanation, and he was pretty sure he wasn’t the only one.
“And if there isn’t enough memory, then we’ll have to guess,” Jupiter said.
“That means we could be stuck wandering around in this creepy cave for days,” Luna moaned.
“Either way, Nephlite might need some help. She may be a princess, but I know she’s not light,” Jupiter added.
Nephlite felt Sailor Moon shift in his arms before hearing her mumble, “I heard that,” before opening her eyes.
“Sailor Moon, you’re awake,” Nephlite said, feeling relieved that she was all right.
“She’s going to be okay,” Mercury said, voicing Nephlite’s thoughts.
“Sailor Moon, are you all right?” Jupiter asked, clearly wanting to hear Sailor Moon say it herself.
“Yeah, you’ve been out of it for a while,” Mars added as Nephlite put her down. “Remember where you are? Remember what happened?”
The blonde leader gasped before saying, “Tuxedo Mask! Where is he?” She looked at Nephlite with concern. “Why isn’t he here? Did-did you abandon him?” Nephlite couldn’t bring himself to answer much less look at her.
“Of course not,” Mars answered. “The Negaverse took him.”
“Was he all right?”
“We don’t know. Seems he was hurt pretty badly.”
“I remember. Darien. What are we gonna do?”
“Okay, guys we gotta talk here,” Artemis cut in. “If we’re gonna help Darien, you need to understand your past. Luna and I are just remembering it now, too. It’s all coming back, isn’t it, Luna?”
“Yeah. Long story, too,” the black cat added.
“Are we part of the Moon Kingdom too?” Jupiter asked.
Nephlite had no doubt that the others were part of the Moon Kingdom. But he had no part of it. He was just a Negaverse traitor, but then why did he have a sense of failure when Darien was taken?
“Yeah, Jupiter. We just gotta be,” Venus spoke up. “I mean if Sailor Moon’s the princess, we must have had important jobs too. Right, Artemis?”
“Right as usual, Venus,” he replied. “A long time ago we all lived happily in a place called the Moon Kingdom.”
“It was a peaceful time for all the planets known as the Silver Millennium,” Luna added.
“And Serena lived there in the royal castle,” Artemis said.
“Her mother, Queen Serenity, was a fair and gentle ruler who was raising her daughter to follow in her footsteps,” Luna piped in.
Artemis took over the story. “But then the peace was shattered. When evil Queen Beryl found a way to break out of her Negaverse and into our universe, she attacked the Moon Kingdom with a vengeance.”
I suppose calling myself a traitor is a bit harsh. After all, I chose to change sides and Queen Beryl probably had decided to dispose of me just before I made my decision. Jedite certainly didn’t last long. Beryl doesn’t tolerate constant failure. I wonder how long Zoycite will last.
“The Moon Kingdom was forever destroyed,” Luna said picking up the story, but Nephlite’s thoughts kept cutting into her narrative.
And I helped destroy it.
“Her power broken, Queen Serenity used the last of her strength to send Princess Serena and her court to a new future on Earth.”
While Beryl and the rest of us were imprisoned in the Negaverse.
“You girls were all princesses of your own respective planets, but also part of Serena’s court.”
What part do I have with the scouts besides an informant? I’ll stand by them though, considering that I’m not connected to the Negaforce and Beryl would kill me in any event.
“Luna,” Venus spoke up. “Did Nephlite have a part in our past? His alliance with us can’t be a coincidence.”
“I’m glad you brought that up because I just remembered something concerning Prince Darien. You see, whenever Darien went to visit Serena, he always had a quartet of guards accompanying him.”
Nephlite’s vision flashed though his mind again. So, he was correct in thinking those figures were guards. But what did that have to do with him? Unless…
“Those guards were the best warriors on Earth, aside from Prince Darien,” Luna went on. “One of those guards was you, Nephlite.”
Four of the scouts gasped and Nephlite’s eyes widened. Now he knew why he kept having this dream: It was his past! But what of the other three guards? Was it possible they were…?
“Luna,” he said slowly. “Who were the other guards?” He had his suspicions, but he wasn’t sure he wanted to know. On the other hand, his curiosity demanded to be sated.
It seemed to him that Luna knew what he was feeling because she answered just as slowly, “The others were Jedite, Zoycite, and Malachite.”
“Oh, wow,” Mars said softly. “They guarded Darien like we protect Serena.”
“That’s right. Tell us, Nephlite. How did the four of you end up on Beryl’s side?” Luna asked.
“I’m…not entirely sure. I think it was the lure of power and knowledge. I can’t really seem to remember anything before joining Beryl.”
“Perhaps, she brainwashed the four of you. Now that you’re on our side, your memories might eventually return.”
“Why did Nephlite choose our side and the others hadn’t?” Mercury suddenly spoke up.
Nephlite immediately answered, “Molly. She showed me how to love and care for someone. I think my dream was a sign that my memories are just suppressed.”
“And I remembered something else just now,” Artemis chimed in. “Since Darien and Serena were together so often, the guards and the scouts interacted with each other. Eventually four pairs were formed. One was a close friendship, one was an intellectual friendship, and the other two had romantic ties.
“Venus, you had the close friendship with Malachite. Mercury had the intellectual friendship with Zoycite. Jupiter, you and Mars were in love with Nephlite and Jedite, respectively.
“Me, in love with that jerk?” Mars gasped in disgust.
Jupiter and Nephlite simply smiled at one another. So, their relationship now was fated to be. They loved each other a thousand years ago.
“I had a close friendship with Malachite?” Venus didn’t sound like she liked the idea, but neither did she hate it.
“An intellectual friendship with Zoycite? Hmm. Interesting,” Mercury commented before returning to her calculations.
“That’s not all, though,” Artemis continued. “As each of these relations grew, each guard gained power connected to your planet. For example, Mars has the power of fire and due to his relationship with Mars, Jedite acquired the power of fire.”
“The Negaverse’s promise of power probably suppressed the plant powers and connections,” Luna theorized.
I think she’s correct, Nephlite thought. Let’s see… I was a guard from Earth assigned to protect Prince Darien when he visited Serena. I fell in love with Princess Jupiter and developed a connection to the planet Jupiter as well as lightning powers, which have been resurfacing lately.
Then Beryl came along and lured me and the others to her side, brainwashing us to suppress our memories as well as the planet powers and connections.
“What kind of connection are you talking about, Luna?” Venus asked.
“Well, whenever someone used his or her power, a kind of magnetic pull was felt by the scout.”
“Wait,” Jupiter said. “I just remembered something from last night. I felt a pull while in Malachite’s dome.”
“I teleported when I learned all of you were in trouble,” Nephlite explained.
My connection to Jupiter has definitely returned, he thought.
“Anyway,” Jupiter continued. “How come we don’t remember about the Moon Kingdom? It doesn’t make any sense.”
“Sure it does,” Venus countered. “Serenity wanted us to be happy so she sent us to a new time and place hoping it would be peaceful there.”
“But if the Negaverse did show up again, Queen Serenity made sure we would be able to activate the Sailor Scouts to fight off any new attacks by Queen Beryl,” Luna explained.
“And now that we’ve got the Imperium Sliver Crystal, Queen Beryl doesn’t have a chance against us,” Artemis said, sounding quite confident.
“We may have it,” Nephlite cut in. “But Beryl will do anything to get her hands on it.”
“So basically what you guys are saying is that our battle with them has just begun,” Mercury said, still working on her computer.
“Uh-huh,” all three said.
“You got it, Mercury,” Artemis told her. “But now that they’ve got Darien, you guys have got your work cut out for you.”
He’s right. Beryl’s got Darien and I know she won’t kill him. There’s a chance that she’ll heal his injuries, but why would she do that? Wait…I remember her commenting on Tuxedo Mask being handsome when I was impersonating him one time. Could she be planning to brainwash him like she did to me and the others? Nephlite didn’t want to think about that possibility. Now that he knew his past, he didn’t like the idea that he might have to fight his prince.
“We’ve got to beat them,” Luna said. “If we want everlasting peace, we’re going to have to beat the Negaverse once and for all.”
“You’re right Luna,” Venus said. “We’ve got to stand up to them so that we have a future.”
“Yeah, all together,” Mars agreed.
“United as one,” Jupiter chimed in.
Sailor Moon, who had been silent while Luna and Artemis recounted the past finally said in a dead, depressed tone, “Count me out. I don’t want to fight.”
Everyone gasped and Nephlite stared at her in shock. She didn’t want to fight? How come? Didn’t she want to save Darien? Perhaps she’s tired. It’s been a long day and she did just have the memories from one thousand years ago come back to her in one big rush. It must have been overwhelming for her.,p> “Sailor Moon, you don’t mean that, do you?” Jupiter asked. “You’re our leader. We need you.”
“And you’re the princess,” Luna added.
“I don’t care. Somebody else can do it,” Sailor Moon said in that same tone from before.
“Come on, Sailor Moon,” Venus coaxed. “It’s your destiny. You’re the one.”
“I am not Venus,” Sailor Moon countered, now sounding close to tears. “I can barely handle being Sailor Moon, now I’m the Moon Princess too? I can’t do this, I’m telling you.”
“You’re just tired,” Luna said. “You just need some time to let it sink in and-,”
“I don’t want any of this to sink in!” Sailor Moon exclaimed, cutting Luna off. “I just want to be a normal teenager! Can any of you guys understand that? My name’s Serena! Not Sailor Moon, not Moon Princess, not Moon anything!”
Her voice dropped to a much softer voice as she continued, “Tuxedo Mask is gone and now we know that he’s actually Darien. And he’ll never call me Meatball Head again. Mercury, get us out. I want to go home. Please.” Tears started to well up at those last two sentences.
Nephlite saw a look of impatience spark in Mars’s eyes at seeing Sailor Moon’s tears and decided to step in. He stood in front of the scout leader and put his hands on her shoulders. “Sailor Moon. Serena. Listen to me. I know this has been a big shock, discovering who you are. I imagine it would be nice to just be a normal person, but that’s not possible, especially now that we have the Silver Crystal. Besides, we’ve got to save Darien. You can’t give up on him.”
She looked up at him with wide, watery eyes. “Darien,” she said softly. “I miss him so much.”
“You need to pull yourself together,” Mars ordered.
“Go away, Mars,” Sailor Moon said. “I know you hate me. You’ve always hated me.”
“That’s not true,” Mars answered.
“I gotta say, I never thought you were much of a leader, but I know I was wrong. Especially after seeing the way you handled that crystal.”
“Yeah, you totally toasted the witch, Zoycite,” Artemis said.
“A very pretty sight,” Luna chuckled.
“Oh, come on you guys. Let her be for a little while. After all this is Serena and this is a very big deal,” Mercury said before turning off her visor. “And here’s some good news: I found a way out of here.”
“Good work,” Luna commented. “What do you say we get some burgers and get our minds off all this?”
“Oh, yeah. I could go for that,” Venus said.
“Sounds good to me, too,” Nephlite added.
“Sorry. Dinner plans just got cancelled,” a familiar voice came from above. Everyone looked up to see Malachite floating in the air. Something about him seemed different to Nephlite, but he didn’t know what.
“I want that Imperium Silver Crystal,” the white-haired general demanded, not sound like his usual calm self.
“If you want that crystal you’ll have to answer to me,” Venus declared.
“And me,” Jupiter added. “Let’s double-team him, huh Venus?”
“Oh, you’re scaring me,” Malachite mocked.
“Jupiter Thunder…Crash!” Jupiter unleashed her attack, but instead of hitting its target, it hit a black dome shield.
“What gives? He’s absorbing all my energy.”
“I’ll take care of it. Venus Crescent Beam…Smash!” Once again, the attack hit the shield.
“This is bad,” Mercury said. “He’s sucking up any energy we throw at him. We’ve got to find a way to stop him.”
“What can we do, Mercury?” Mars asked.
“Nothing, girls,” Malachite answered her. Malachite summoned a ball of yellow energy that Nephlite recognized it as Venus’s energy before it was thrown at Venus and Jupiter.
“I’m sure not giving up yet,” Jupiter declared.
“Yeah, me neither,” Venus added. “But what can we do?”
“Like I said before: Nothing.” Malachite was forming another ball that had electricity mixed in it. The blue-white light lit up Malachite’s face and Nephlite saw some intense emotions in the other man’s eyes: Anger, mild insanity, and …grief?
Why is there grief in his eyes? Grief is usually felt when someone dies…Oh, shit. Beryl must have killed Zoycite. That would explain why Malachite is acting like this. What’s worse, his anger and grief has made him stronger.
Malachite threw the ball towards Venus and Jupiter. Nephlite, Mars, and Mercury barely had time to call, “Watch out!” before both girls were hit. The electricity’s power was strong enough to knock both out.
“Hand over that crystal unless you want to end up like your friends,” Malachite demanded again.
Nephlite looked at the unconscious Jupiter and felt a rush of anger flood through his body. Oh, Malachite was going to pay for hurting her!
“No choice there, huh guys?” Mars commented. “Mercury, get her out of here.”
“She’s right,” Nephlite added. He looked at Sailor Moon. “Go on. You’re the Moon Princess. The scouts protect you and the crystal and I promise to do the same.”
“Get on with it, would ya?” Malachite interrupted.
“Fine. Mars Fire…Ignite!” The fire hit the shield and was absorbed.
“Pathetic,” Malachite sneered. “What a joke.” He unleashed a fireball at Mars with enough power to knock her out.
Nephlite brought out his sword, electricity circling the blade again. “Malachite, stop this now!”
“Silence, you traitor!” Malachite threw another fireball, but the lightning-powered blade sliced through it and extinguished it.
“I’m no traitor, Malachite. It’s you and the others who are the traitors. Beryl-,”
“I said, silence!” Malachite roared sending a ball that was a combination of Venus, Mars, and Jupiter’s powers at him. He tried to stop it like last time, but the lightning in the ball cancelled out the one on his sword and he was sent flying backwards from the two remaining energies. He hit the ground and before he blacked out, thought, Defeat him, Princess. I know you can.
“Nephlite. Please wake up,” Jupiter’s voice pierced his consciousness and he opened his eyes to see Jupiter’s relieved face as well as the other three scouts. He stood up to see the tower was back to normal, albeit in ruins. “Wait, where’s Sailor Moon?” he asked.
“I think she went that way,” Mercury indicated a half-crumbled doorway that led outside.
They went through the opening to see the ocean, a rising sun, and Sailor Moon. She was okay!
“There you are Sailor Moon,” Jupiter said, causing the blonde to turn around.
“Hey girl, are you all right?” Venus asked.
“Yeah, fine,” Sailor Moon replied.
“Hope you know we’ll always be behind you, no matter what,” Mars said.
“I know. Thank you.”
“You really nailed Malachite today. I’m proud of you,” Luna praised.
“And your mother would be proud of you too,” Artemis added.
“All of you were great today. It’s going to be a tough fight all the way, but I know we can beat the Negaverse. We’ve got to,” Luna stated.
“We will beat them, Luna,” Nephlite replied. “We’ve come too far to give up or stop now.”
And we’ll save Prince Darien too, he added silently.
Chapter Thirteen- The Terrible Truth
“Oh, Nephlite! This is so romantic!” Lita exclaimed, taking in the table, the lit candles, and the lovingly prepared meal.
Nephlite smiled. “After everything we’ve gone through in the last two days, I felt we deserved some time alone together.” He pulled out Lita’s chair and, once she was seated, sat down himself.
“You’re right. We needed this.” Lita sipped some of the wine Nephlite had poured before asking, “Have any more of your memories returned?”
“Some have, yes. I vividly remember a ball Queen Serenity held once. Darien was invited so the others and I came also. I remember the ballroom. It was large and seemed to sparkle with stardust. There was music playing and couples were dancing. You were there and so were the other girls. You were wearing a floor-length emerald green dress with spaghetti-straps and matching elbow-length gloves. The two of us danced most of the time as did Darien and Serena.”
“Wow. That was vivid.”
“I wished I remembered how we met and got together, though.”
“You will. It just takes time.”
The next afternoon Nephlite and Lita along with Raye, Amy, Mina, Luna, and Artemis were at the temple to discuss Serena’s recent behavior. She was really bummed out about Tuxedo Mask’s kidnapping and it was affecting her daily life.
“I’m afraid you guys are going to have to be more patient than usual. Serena’s taking this thing really hard,” Luna said.
“Poor girl,” Amy said.
“And she actually stopped eating?” Lita asked. “This is really critical Luna.”
“Don’t I know it. She can hardly function. Last night, she was talking in her sleep and she kept calling out Darien’s name.”
I think I understand what she’s going through. I probably would be unable to eat or sleep if I lost Lita.
“What a wimp,” Artemis commented from Mina’s lap. “What kind of princess goes into hyperspace when we need her the most?”
“That’s not fair, Artemis,” Nephlite reprimanded. “She’s going through a rough period.”
“He’s right,” Raye added. “Someone she really cared about is out of her life. She’s just heartbroken. Is that really so hard to understand?”
“Well, Luna, you got to talk some sense into her,” Artemis said.
“I don’t think I can. Maybe one of you can think of a way to cheer her up. Poor kid could use a distraction, you know.”
“At times like this, some people like to be left alone,” Mina said. “But Serena is not one of them. Maybe I can think of something.”
He sat on the sofa, eyes closed and his breathing even and deep. He slowly entered a meditative state, hoping that more memories of his past would appear to him. All that happened was a calm and peaceful state of mind, which wasn’t all that bad really.
He frowned as he came out of his meditation. I don’t know why I did that. The memories that came back did so when I was asleep. Perhaps, the stars have some answers.
He walked over to his altar and kneeled upon it. He closed his eyes and called to the stars, asking for memories of his past. He waited silently for a response, reasoning that looking for one thousand year old memories would take some time. While he waited, his mind drifted back into its calm state.
Upon hearing that telepathic voice, Nephlite didn’t break the connection by opening his eyes as others would have done. Instead, he replied, Who are you?
Nephlite. Help me.
“Jedite!” he cried out, his eyes open and a hand outstretched. The connection was broken, but the call was still fresh in his mind.
That was Jedite calling. I’m sure of it. But why was he asking me for help? Plus, he’s in eternal sleep so how could he call?
Beep, beep, beep. “Sailor Venus here. Everyone’s needed at the new beauty salon. It’s a Negaverse trap!”
Nephlite promptly put his current questions to the back of his mind. They could wait for another time. He used teleportation to leave his home and arrive on the street where the salon, Slick Chicks was located on.
He appeared behind the scouts facing down a monster who loomed over Sailor Moon. Mars and Jupiter coupled their attacks to destroy the weapon on the monster’s right arm before Mercury blanketed the area in fog.
“Quick use your wand,” Venus called to their leader.
“Moon Healing Activation!” The wand’s power turned that one monster into several human women which surprised Nephlite. He had been expecting one human.
“Tuxedo Mask!” Mars suddenly called out.
Nephlite turned towards Mars and saw Tuxedo Mask standing nearby! He was all right!
“Are you all right?” Mars asked her cheeks red with blush. “You’re with us?”
“Keep your distance, Mars,” Venus warned. “He’s no friend of ours anymore. He’s been brainwashed by the Negaverse. Who knows what he might do. I know he can’t be trusted.” At everyone’s disbelieving looks, Venus added, “It’s true. That Negaverse monster was taking orders from him. He’s Queen Beryl’ s man now and don’t think for a minute that he’s working for anybody but her.”
Nephlite couldn’t believe it. He suspected that Beryl might turn to brainwashing and now, faced with the reality, he felt stunned. Their friend and his prince had been turned against them.
“Venus has got it right,” Tuxedo Mask said. “You’re my enemy now and I won’t stop until that crystal is mine.”
“It can’t be,” Mars said softly.
“They really did some job of brainwashing,” Mercury commented.
“Enough with the chat. I want that crystal and I’ll fight every one of you to get it. So, who’s first?”
Nephlite moved to put himself between the scouts and Tuxedo Mask, his sword appearing in his hand. Even though he didn’t want to fight Darien, he knew he had to because Darien wouldn’t hesitate to attack him.
A smirk graced Tuxedo Mask’s face. “Ah, so you want to lose first, Nephlite?” The caped man took a step forward and then froze. It looked as if he was deep in thought or listening to someone they couldn’t hear. It was probably the latter, most likely Beryl. He then took a step back.
“So,” he said. “You got lucky this time. But I’ll be back, don’t you worry. Next time it won’t be so pretty. And next time, I won’t leave without that crystal. Remember that, everyone. See you around.”
A portal to the Negaverse opened up behind him and he stepped through it. As it started to close, Nephlite felt a wave of psychic energy wash over him. An image of Jedite in his crystal prison flashed through his mind for a second before it vanished.
“Guess everything’s back to normal at Slick Chicks,” Serena commented as the six of them looked in the front window of the salon. Serena turned and walked a few steps before saying, “Hey, I’m starved. How about we pick up a double cheeseburgers, French fries, chocolate shakes, and triple hot fudge sundaes?”
“Guess things are back to normal with Serena, too,” Artemis commented. “She must be over Tuxedo Mask.”
Serena turned around with a cheery look on her face. “No way,” she squealed. “but I got a super cool plan to get him back! We’ll de-brainwash him!” The blonde laughed from explaining her idea.
“This from someone who can barely program a VCR,” Luna muttered.
“Well, I gotta say I prefer to have the old, goofy, food-crazed Serena back. She really had me worried there,” Artemis said.
“Well, after we finish de-brainwashing him, ooh, I’m going to tell that guy off,” Serena continued. “But, in the meantime guys, how about those hamburgers and French fries?”
They found a burger place that was open and were soon at a table with their food. Serena got what she had been thinking about, but everyone else opted for hamburger, fries, and a drink. Nephlite chewed on a bite of fry as he thought about this afternoon and tonight’s events. This whole business with Jedite was weird. Why was he communicating now after all this time and why with him?
“What?” He blinked and looked at Mina.
He smiled. “Yes. I just have a mystery on my mind.”
This caught Amy’s interest to say nothing of everyone else’s. “A mystery?”
He nodded. “I was consulting the stars this afternoon after meditating hoping for more memories of the past. Instead I received a psychic message from Jedite.”
Serena, Raye, and Amy chorused, “Jedite!?”
“You know,” Raye said thoughtfully. “I haven’t seen him since he got run over by a plane.”
Nephlite laughed at the shocked looks on Lita and Mina’s faces. “That explains why he came back with torn clothes and disheveled hair. I heard Jedite say he knew the real names of you three. Fortunately, Beryl wasn’t interested in that information. She punished him for his constant failures by putting him in eternal sleep inside a light blue crystal which she sent to another part of the Negaverse.”
“That’s terrible,” Raye commented. “The poor guy. What?” she asked, noticing the looks everyone was giving her. “I think my past relationship with him is resurfacing, okay?”
“Speaking of not seeing someone,” Lita spoke up. “We haven’t seen Zoycite lately.”
“Zoycite’s dead,” Nephlite answered.
“Why do you say that?” Serena asked.
“When we last fought Malachite, I saw grief in his eyes. He loved Zoycite so much and only her death could have affected him so greatly.”
“They loved each other?” Amy asked. “I didn’t think such a pure emotion like love could exist inside the Negaverse.”
“Why not?” Mina countered. “All living things are capable of love and judging from how they acted toward each other when we last saw them, I say they definitely loved each other. Naturally, Malachite would be crushed from losing her.”
“Anyway,” Amy said forcefully. “You said you received a message from Jedite?”
“That’s right. He was asking for my help. I’ve been wondering how he can contact me. Earlier tonight when Tuxedo Mask was leaving, I felt a wave of psychic energy and saw Jedite in his prison looking exactly the way he did when he was first imprisoned.
“My questions are why is he asking for help and how could I even help?”
There was silence for a while before Luna whispered, “Perhaps the proximity of your connected planets prompted him to contact you.”
“You mean because the planets Mars and Jupiter are next to each other?” Amy asked.
“Precisely. I believe the same thing goes for Venus and Mercury.”
“Maybe Jedite knows you’re no longer with the Negaverse and is working on making a portal for you to go through to rescue him,” Artemis whispered as well. “From what you said, it sounds like he’s got some serious psychic powers. We could use a power like that.”
“It’ll take time for him to build enough energy to make that portal, if that’s what he’s planning,” Nephlite pointed out. “But, if and when he does, I’ll be ready to rescue him.”
Chapter Fourteen- The Skating Rink
Nephlite spent the next few days strengthening his powers in the woods behind his home. He came up with some new sword maneuvers and new tricks with his lightning abilities. He could now shoot a bolt of lightning from his sword to a long-distance opponent. His training days were solitary because the girls were first in a princess seminar and then at a ski resort. That was all right: His first lightning sessions were a bit dangerous because he hadn’t been able to control its direction. Now, he had complete control over where it went and that pleased him greatly.
He went inside after another successful session, a towel draped across his shoulders and one end being used to dab his forehead. He turned on the TV and sat down to dry his face. He lowered the towel to see two people figure-skating together.
Wait, that’s Misha and Janelle! I’ve heard they won the gold medal in the last Winter Olympics.
As he watched the pair, a different scene appeared in his mind. It was another memory and this time he was awake. He saw the Moon Kingdom in the background and a frozen lake in the forefront. There were lots of people skating including himself. He saw the scouts as their princess selves skating gracefully across the ice, but the most graceful of all were Princesses Serena and Jupiter.
Nephlite blinked as the memory faded. Now he knew why he and Lita enjoyed ice-skating: It was an activity they had loved on the moon.
“So this is the new skating rink,” Luna commented as the group stood on an overhead walkway the next afternoon staring at the rink named Skater’s Palace.
“It’s the grand opening,” Serena explained. “And they’ve got Misha and Janelle giving free skating lessons! Oh, I’m so excited!”
“Ditto,” Mina agreed.
Misha and Janelle? The gold medalists? Why would they be giving free lessons? Nephlite wondered.
“Yeah, but I don’t see why you dragged me here,” Raye complained.
Amy mentioned an exam she could be studying for at this moment.
“Oh, Amy you’ll ace it,” Serena told her.
“We gotta have a group of six to get the free lessons. Come on guys,” Mina explained.
“That’s a weird rule,” Lita commented.
“Why six?” Raye asked.
“Good question,” Nephlite said. “Teaching six at once would be difficult, especially if they have different levels of experience.”
“Forget about that,” Serena said. “Come on. Let’s book it.” Together she and Mina pushed the other girls toward the rink. Nephlite followed after them. He wasn’t in need of lessons, but he was number six in their group. Besides, this would be a good chance to skate with Lita.
The six of them quickly got into their skating clothes and skates before waiting with the other people. Nephlite couldn’t help but notice that he seemed to be the only guy in the crowd. He felt a bit self-conscious in his skating pants and shirt while the girls were wearing skating dresses.
“Wow. There’s so many people,” Amy commented.
“Figure-skating sure is popular,” Raye added.
“I wonder where Serena is,” Lita said.
Nephlite looked in the direction of the skate rental and saw Serena with one skate on and was hopping toward them trying to get the other one on. She tripped and hit the floor. She sat up on her knees and wailed, “These skates make me clumsy!”
I don’t think it’s the skates, he thought to himself.
“Oh, poor Serena,” Amy said.
“She’s unbelievably embarrassing,” Raye muttered.
Nephlite kneeled beside Serena and put her remaining skate on before helping her up on them. Suddenly, Mina exclaimed, “It’s Misha!”
“Where? Where?” Serena squealed, practically trampling Nephlite in her rush to get rinkside.
Misha and Janelle had appeared in the rink and launched into a skating demonstration. Nephlite could hardly believe his eyes. Their teamwork was amazing to watch. It was better than seeing it on TV.
“Welcome to Skater’s Palace,” Janelle announced once the demonstration was over. “So, it’s time to slap on your skates and have a whole lot of fun. It takes years and years to become good skater, but the first step is to get on the ice.”
The crowd of girls cheered with Mina and Serena being the loudest and most enthusiastic. This reaction did not go unnoticed by the gold-medalist woman. “Oh, you two seem to be full of energy. Come on out here.”
Her invitation stunned both blondes, but they agreed to come and convinced the others to join them. Amy, Mina, and Raye pushed out onto the ice. Nephlite was about to join them, but Lita’s voice caught his attention.
“This isn’t your first time skating, is it Serena?” he heard her ask. He looked over to see Serena holding the rink wall to keep herself upright.
Serena laughed nervously. “Oh, Lita what makes you say that? Don’t worry. Artemis said I was a champ back on the moon. It’ll come back.” Serena nodded confidently.
Lita didn’t look convinced, but shrugged it off. She turned to see Nephlite by the ice and smiled. “Let’s go,” she said. Nephlite nodded and pushed onto the ice.
He skated past Amy, Ray, and Mina who were looking at their skates and moving slowly and carefully. He turned around to watch Lita’s entrance. She pushed out smoothly and glided towards him, passing the other girls as she did so. They didn’t fail to notice that the two of them had passed them.
Nephlite offered his arm to Lita once she got closer. “Would you like to skate with me?”
She grinned and nodded. “Sure. Let’s see what you’ve got.” She slid her arm through his, feeling hard muscles when her upper arm bumped against his. Wow. He’s been working out the last couple of days.
They skated arm in arm for several feet before they separated and went into individual moves that looked as if they planned it. Lita went into a sit spin while Nephlite circled her, performing single and double axles.
Lita came out of her spin and Nephlite’s circle and started to glide away, one leg stretched out behind her. Her partner glided up alongside her, sliding one arm around her waist while holding her hand with his free hand. Lita lowered her free leg as Nephlite placed both hands on her waist before lifting her up to his head level. He heard astonished gasps from their friends and the crowd in the stands.
“Look at them,” Amy gasped.
“They’re real good,” Raye added.
“They’re not just good,” Mina chimed in. “They’re amazing!”
Nephlite placed Lita back on the ice carefully before both slid to a stop. The applause that followed surprised and startled the both of them. “Very, very nice,” Janelle complimented. “Now, let’s all get out there and skate.”
As the others came out onto the ice, Lita turned to Nephlite. “That was so cool. You’re a terrific skater.”
“You’re pretty terrific yourself. I can’t wait to see what else you know.”
“Well, how about we stand next to the wall and rest a bit?”
“Sounds good to me.”
As they moved toward the wall, they passed Amy, Raye, and Mina trying to help Serena learn to skate.
“Serena,” Mina said.
“Try again,” Amy encouraged.
“I was supposed to be great, what happened?” Serena whined before falling down and taking the others down with her.
Raye stood up, huffed, and skated beside Lita and Nephlite. “Hey, you two were awesome out there. Seriously, everyone was impressed.”
“Thanks, Raye,” Lita said. “It didn’t feel difficult to do. I’ve been skating for years.”
“And I kept practicing in the Negaverse, though I didn’t know I was practicing. Thanks to the brainwashing, I believed I had never ice-skated before.”
“How did you manage to practice?” Raye asked.
“Zoycite would ice a section of floor for us to skate on.”
Before either Raye or Lita could ask more questions, Misha skated over to them and held out a hand to Lita. “Beautiful skater,” he said. “You want to skate with me?”
Raye, oblivious to whom Misha was asking, answered, “Oh, I’d love to. I’m so flattered you asked.”
Misha took Lita’s hand and skated toward the crowd. Nephlite stared after them, a sense of jealousy coming over him. Lita was his girlfriend! Why would that man come over and just sweep her away?
“Uh, Nephlite?” Raye asked. “You all right?”
“Hm?” he asked, looking at her.
“Well, you looked kind of angry. It’s about Lita, isn’t it? I mean, she is your girlfriend and Misha just skated off with her.”
“I admit, I am jealous. I need to put this emotion to good use and perhaps I’ll help Serena skate.”
“Good idea. Maybe she’ll actual be able to stand at least.”
Nephlite skated to where Amy and Mina stood beside a miserable, sitting Serena. He held out both hands to her. “Here, Serena. Let me teach you.”
Serena sniffled slightly before saying, “Okay.” She put her hands in Nephlite’s and he pulled her up into a standing position. Her knees trembled slightly as did her ankles and he used his feet to push her own into position so that she was stable.
“Good,” he said. “Now push forward with your left leg and then your right leg.”
Serena followed his instructions. Nephlite skated backwards, still holding her hands. “Left, right. Left, right. Good, Serena. You’re doing fine,” he said encouragingly.
As he continued his teaching, he saw Lita and Misha nearby. He saw Misha’s hands go around Lita’s waist and another wave of jealousy washed over him. His jealousy turned to smug satisfaction when Misha tried to lift Lita and failed. Misha apparently wasn’t very strong, despite being in great shape.
Nephlite nearly stopped dead in his tracks when Lita grabbed Misha’s hands and hoisted him high above her head! The entire rink gasped at this amazing feat and then Lita put the stunned man back on his skates.
I knew she was strong, but I didn’t know she was that strong!
he thought, his legs still moving backwards. He brought his attention back to Serena.
The blonde girl was now watching her feet, muttering, “Left, right.” to herself. He released one hand and Serena didn’t notice because she was focused on her feet. He didn’t dare release the other hand. Serena would definitely notice, panic, and hit the ice again.
“Attention, please,” came Janelle’s voice on the PA. “Your lesson is all over for today. Would you please leave rink immediately. Thanks for lovely afternoon.” Nephlite couldn’t help but notice that Janelle sounded angry. Was she jealous because Misha skated with Lita?
“Why so soon?” Raye wondered.
“It is a little early,” Nephlite agreed. He elected to keep his jealousy theory to himself.
“We’ll wait for you guys outside,” Artemis whispered as the gang passed by on the way to the changing rooms.
Several minutes later, they were heading for the front doors. Nephlite noticed that Serena was lagging behind and he turned and said, “Come on, Serena.”
“Yeah, I’m coming. Just go on ahead.”
Nephlite nodded, but his gaze was focused on the rink where Lita and Misha were still skating. Misha wanted Lita to stay for a special class. Sure, Lita was a great skater, but why would Misha pay so much attention to her?
“Hey, over here!” Artemis called once they were outside. All the other skaters were gone.
“Where are Lita and Serena?” Luna asked.
“Misha asked Lita to stay,” Mina answered. “She’s getting a special class just with him.”
“Oh, how lucky,” Raye commented.
Nephlite looked over his shoulder to see…no one else! “Hey, where is Serena? I thought she was right behind me.”
“Lightning Serena strikes again,” Raye remarked.
Suddenly, the blinds of the rink’s door and windows came down with a series of definitive bangs. The four of them stared at the now sealed building.
“What’s going on?” Raye asked.
“Do you guys think this is possibly another Negaverse trap?” Amy speculated.
“It’s got to be,” Luna stated. “Transform, girls!”
“We’ve got to get inside,” Artemis said. “Serena and Lita may need our help.”
“Mars Fire…Ignite!” Mars launched her attack at the shuttered door, but nothing happened.
“Let me try,” Venus said. “Venus Crescent Beam…Smash!” Once again, nothing happened.
“We sure could use Sailor Jupiter right now,” Mercury said. “Her thunderbolt would smash open the door.”
“Stand aside, scouts,” Nephlite ordered, his sword already in hand. “I’ve learned some new tricks recently.”
“New tricks?” Mars repeated.
“Of course,” Luna gasped. “Nephlite’s connected to the planet Jupiter and can use lightning like Sailor Jupiter.”
Nephlite raised the sword over his head and brought it down, unleashing a thunderbolt that blasted open the door.
“Great!” Venus cheered. “Now, let’s help Serena and Lita.”
They charged through the opening and toward a level above the rink to see Sailors Moon and Jupiter, Tuxedo Mask, and two Negaverse monsters who Nephlite believed were actually Misha and Janelle. They wasted no time in dropping down onto the ice.
“Guys, glad you’re here,” Sailor Moon said.
A flash of light caught the attentions of everyone on the ice. Malachite had appeared, floating high above the rink. “Nice to see you all again, one last time. And Prince Darien, if you only minded your own business, we’d have that crystal.”
The white-haired general gestured at a dome affixed to the ceiling and two air conditioner-like machines appeared and began blowing a bitterly cold air on everyone on the ice.
“Two minute warning,” Malachite said. “then you’re all getting iced. And then I’ll be coming back for the Silver Crystal. Nephlite, Darien, can’t say I’m going to miss you two.” Then, he vanished.
“Malachite,” Tuxedo Mask growled.
Everyone had fallen to their knees. Nephlite gritted his teeth as he looked up at the machines. It sure was cold, but if the power source was destroyed, they would be saved. Then, he saw it. The dome glowed red briefly. There was the source! He summoned his sword and threw it at the dome. The blade, charged with electricity, pierced the dome, shattering it and causing the air to cease.
“It stopped,” Sailor Moon said.
“It’s over,” Venus added.
Misha and Janelle and issued battle cries. They were ready to attack again. “Sailor Moon, that’s your cue,” Jupiter called.
“Oh, right.” The leader produced the wand and waved it. “Moon Healing Activation!”
The two skaters were healed of their Negaverse influence and were back to their human selves. As they skated by in perfect unison, Sailor Moon said, “Hey, where’s Tuxedo Mask? Where’d he go? Did you guys see him?”
It was night by the time Nephlite and five normal-looking girls left the rink. It was a nice night and the six of them decided to sit and chat in the park. Nephlite felt calm and peaceful sitting in this tranquil setting with Lita by his side. He closed his eyes and felt his body relax.
Jedite. It’s you again.
Yes. It’s me. I need your help.
I want to help the scouts. My memories and powers are starting to return, but I cannot break out of my prison. You, however, can help.
But I can’t get into the Negaverse, so how can I help?
I can make a portal to bring you to me. But, at another time. I’m losing power. Please, free me…
Nephlite’s eyes snapped open and a hand went to his forehead. He heard Lita’s voice, full of concern, say, “Nephlite, what’s wrong?”
He looked up to see all five girls looking at him with concern. He took a deep breath. “Jedite contacted me just now.”
“What did he say?” Amy asked.
“He wants to fight on our side. His memories and powers are coming back. He needs me to break his prison and at some point, he’ll make a portal that will lead me to him.”
“Why not do it now?” Mina asked.
“He was losing power when he told me of his idea.”
“When you free him, maybe you could grab Tuxedo Mask and I could heal them both,” Serena suggested.
Nephlite nodded. It sounded like a good idea. He would love to fight beside his prince instead of against him.
Chapter Fifteen- Carriers and Love
“Again, college student Rita, on leave in Africa, is missing.”
Rita? Nephlite thought. She was one of the crystal carriers. I wonder what happened.
His communicator went off and he said, “This is Nephlite.”
Luna’s voice came back, leading Nephlite to believe she was either alone or with a scout. His suspicions were confirmed when she said, “We’re at the temple. We need you to come over ASAP.”
“Got it. I’ll be right there.”
As Nephlite went to turn off the TV, the reporter said, “To update, Peggy Jones formerly known as Loni Lani, is missing. The discovery was made-,”
Click. The set was turned off, but Nephlite barely acknowledged it. Another crystal carrier was missing. The Negaverse had to be behind it, but why were they doing this?
“So, Greg’s back in town?” Lita asked. “And he thinks the Negaverse is after him?”
“Yes,” Amy answered. “He had a vision about it?”
“Wonder what they’re up to,” Artemis said. “The Negaverse knows something we don’t. Why else would they be going after Greg and the others all over again?”
“They must know something,” Raye insisted. “Hey, Nephlite. Do you think the stars might know?”
“They know everything, Raye. I’ll ask.” He closed his eyes and asked the stars what their enemies were up to. The information he received was so horrible and terrifying that when he opened his eyes again, the girls saw absolute terror in them.
“Nephlite?” Mina asked timidly.
He swallowed hard before answering. “Even though the carriers have been healed, the Negaverse could still harness their powers,” he said slowly. “They plan to trap the carriers in the Star- I mean the Black Crystal. Once all seven are inside, Beryl will merge them together into a being called The Invincible Shadow. This creature is as its name suggests: Invincible. None of us would be able to stand against it or defeat it, even with the Silver Crystal.”
All five girls exchanged horrified looks and then Lita stood up and looked at Amy. “What are you waiting for? Let’s go.”
“Where?” Amy asked. “Greg wouldn’t- He refused to tell me where he was calling from.”
“I think I saw him before Luna called. He’s probably wandering around downtown somewhere.” She came around to Amy’s side of the table, pulled her to her feet, and started steering her out of the room.
“I’ll come and help you look for him,” Nephlite offered, getting up and following them out. Once all there were in the hall, Lita stuck her head back in the room.
“Grandpa’s probably next. Better watch him, Raye.”
“Hold up, Lita,” Amy said some time later. “Maybe we should head back. We’ve been all over the city and no sign of him.”
“We can’t give up,” Nephlite told her firmly. “If we don’t find Greg and protect him, the Negaverse will get him and they’ll be one step closer to bringing forth The Invincible Shadow.”
“He’s got a point. Besides, the guy’s practically your boyfriend, right Ams?” Lita pointed out.
Nephlite saw Amy’s face turn red before she said, “Where did you get that nutsoid idea? Greg and I are just good friends.”
“Ever hear of that river in Egypt? De-Nile?” Lita asked.
“No way, Lita,” Amy insisted. “Besides, I don’t have time for a boyfriend with my schoolwork, and my computer class, and being a Sailor Scout.”
“I don’t believe that,” Nephlite said. “Lita has time for me despite her schoolwork and being a Sailor Scout.”
“Come on, Amy. Sailor Scouts get to have fun, too. Anyway, I think you’re just looking for an excuse.”
“Lita,” Nephlite gasped, surprised at her words.
Lita ignored him and continued, “You’re just scared because you like him so much. You keep him at a distance. You never let him know that you really go for him. This is your chance to let him know how you really feel.”
“I would never have the nerve.” Amy looked across the road at the opposite sidewalk. Her eyes widened slightly and she said, “No way.” Nephlite looked in the direction she was looking in, but didn’t see what made her react the way she did.
“Well, then,” Lita continued, lost in thought. “We’ll just have to figure out another way to get you guys together.” Lita stopped when she saw Amy walking back the way they had come. “Amy, where’re you going? Amy, wait up! Come back.”
Amy turned around. “I saw Greg,” she announced.
“What? Where was he?” Lita asked.
“There.” Amy pointed across the street where she had been looking. “He’s heading that way.” She now pointed in the direction they had come from. Lita and Nephlite exchanged looks before following Amy in search of Greg.
Lita and Amy transformed on a suggestion from Nephlite that the Negaverse was probably chasing Greg at this moment. Plus, Mercury could use her visor and computer to try and track him. She managed to find him running through an alley.
“Who’s there?” Greg demanded when he saw the three of them backlit from the streetlamps behind them. Greg took a good hard look before saying in relief, “Sailor Mercury.”
“You were expecting someone else?” Mercury asked.
“You were pretty hard to track down, you know that?” Jupiter commented.
A laugh rang out from above followed by a voice saying, “Are these your bodyguards now? This should be fun.”
Nephlite looked up along with everyone else and saw Prince Darien on the building’s fire escape! He was right. The Negaverse was chasing Greg. But why is he Prince Darien and not Tuxedo Mask? he wondered. Is it possible that as Tuxedo Mask he wouldn’t be strong enough to gather the carriers? Or is it something else, like maybe a memory surfacing from when he was on our side, collecting the rainbow crystals?
“Hey, that’s Darien!” Mercury and Jupiter chorused.
Said prince leaped down from the fire escape. “Correction,” he said once he landed. “Prince Darien, Champion of the Negaverse. Now, out of my way if you want to stay healthy. It’s not you three I want. It’s your friend. Now, run along if you know what’s good for you.”
Nephlite couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Champion of the Negaverse? Beryl had done some serious brainwashing on Darien. He knew they wouldn’t give Greg up without a fight, as much as he didn’t want to fight Darien, he knew he would have to.
“Sailor Mercury,” Jupiter said. “Get Greg out of here. Nephlite and I are gonna teach him a lesson.”
“No,” Mercury protested. “You two go with Greg. I’ll fight him.”
“No, it would really be better if you go,” Jupiter insisted. “Because of what we talked about.”
“But-,” Mercury began.
“You heard her,” Nephlite cut in. “Get going.”
“Okay, but be careful,” she conceded. As she took Greg’s hand and ran, she called back, “I’ll call for help.”
Nephlite and Jupiter turned back to their opponent. “All right, traitor,” Jupiter declared. “You ready to rumble? No way are we letting you capture Greg. We know what you’re up to, pal. This is the end of the line.”
“You two think you can stop me? Think again,” Darien sneered.
“We’ll see about that, Darien! Jupiter Thunder…Crash!” She unleashed her thunderbolt, but the evil prince avoided it.
“That’s your best shot?” he asked.
Scowling, she came at Darien with a series of quick punches, but he avoided all of them and even blocked the last one with his hand. Nephlite couldn’t believe it. Jupiter was a strong fighter; even he would have had a hard time avoiding the punches. But Darien acted as if Jupiter was moving in slow motion. Perhaps the other guards and I trained him too well.
“Very impressive,” he mocked. “You didn’t land a single punch.”
“I was just warming up, hotshot,” she retorted.
“Careful, Jupiter,” Nephlite said in a voice just above a whisper. “Remember, I was one of the guards that trained Prince Darien.”
“Like I said,” Jupiter stated. “I was just warming up.”
“That’s as good an excuse as any. Now, it’s my turn. You better take some notes because you’re going to get beaten and badly.” Then Darien began to launch a series of hand jabs, causing Jupiter to back up into a trash can which caused her to fall over.
“I’m warmed up now,” Darien declared.
Nephlite, who had been observing the face-off, couldn’t stand by any longer. He interposed himself between the combatants, sword in hand. Please don’t take this the wrong way, Jupiter, he thought. I know you can take care of yourself, but I just couldn’t stand by and watch anymore.
Jupiter stared at Nephlite’s back. She heard his words, only he hadn’t spoken aloud. She heard them in her mind. Are we telepathic now? Or is it just him? Speaking of Nephlite, there’s no electricity on his sword. Has he figured out how to turn it on and off?
Darien smirked as he drew his own sword. “You sure you want to take me on with a sword, Nephlite? It was you who trained me to wield one, after all.”
Definitely,” he replied. “Let’s do this.” He lunged forward, swinging his sword in a horizontal swing. The blade met Darien’s with a metallic clang. Again and again the men swung their swords, the alley echoing with their clangs.
Darien swung in a downward arc, but Nephlite blocked it once more. Darien backed up, smirking, “You’re good, but it will take more than swords to beat the Negaverse. Give up now, you’ll never win.” The prince turned and disappeared from sight.
“Traitor,” Nephlite and Jupiter muttered together.
Nephlite turned to Jupiter and helped her up. “Are you all right?” he asked. At her nod, he said, “Then we need to find Mercury and Greg before Darien does.”
“Right.” As they left the alley and headed in the direction Mercury and Greg had headed, Jupiter said, “I heard your thoughts back there earlier. I appreciate you stepping in.”
Nephlite came to a stop and looked at her. “Wait. You heard my thoughts? But, how?”
“Maybe it’s our connection to the planet Jupiter.”
Both turned to see Serena and Luna running toward them. Mercury had definitely called for help. “What happened? Where’s Darien?” Luna demanded.
“He got away,” Nephlite answered. “Greg was right. Darien’s hot on his trail.”
“Where’d they go?”
“Don’t know,” Jupiter answered. “Somewhere safe, I hope. They were heading in this direction.”
The four of them ran down the street, looking left and right for some sign of their friends. It was Jupiter who noticed the lit amusement park. “Hey, look over there,” she called.
“The park’s supposed to be closed,” Serena commented.
“Let’s check it out,” Luna said. “You may want to transform, Serena.”
“Right. Moon Prism Power!”
A commotion by the Ferris Wheel drew everyone’s attention and when they got there, there were six unconscious figures before Sailor Mercury.
“They’re free,” Sailor Moon said.
“So I see,” Jupiter commented. She looked at Mercury. “How’d you get the crystal? You did it alone? Just you against him?”
“I guess all of Luna’s training finally paid off,” Mercury admitted.
Sailor Moon gestured at the carriers. “Are they okay?”
“I hope so,” Mercury said. “Prince D- I mean Tuxedo Mask was trying to capture them all again.”
Nephlite looked over and saw Tuxedo Mask now standing before them. Why did he change from Prince Darien? Did he think Mercury would hesitate to make a move against him? If that was what he was hoping for, clearly it didn’t work.
“I still will capture them,” Tuxedo Mask stated. “but first, I’m getting rid of all of you.”
“You wanna bet? You picked the wrong enemy. I am Sailor Moon, Champion of Justice and on behalf of the moon, I will right wrongs and triumph over evil. And that means you!”
Tuxedo Mask didn’t react fast enough and was ensnared in the bubble and lightning combo attack.
“Sailor Moon, use your moon wand,” Luna called.
“I’m on it, Luna. Moon Healing Activation!”
Nephlite watched as the light and moondust washed over Tuxedo Mask. This had to work. It just had to! It had worked on the crystal carriers and the humans forced to work for the Negaverse as well as himself.
As Tuxedo Mask cried out in pain, Luna said, “It’s working, Sailor Moon! Don’t give up! Just a little bit more!”
A little more was all that was needed. Tuxedo Mask changed into normal Darien after saying, “No. Let me go!” though to whom he was addressing, Nephlite couldn’t say.
“You did it, Sailor Moon. It’s the old Darien,” Jupiter said as Darien collapsed.
“It’s really him,” Mercury added.
“At last,” Nephlite said.
Sailor Moon fell to her knees, exhausted from using the wand.
“Way to go, Sailor Moon,” Luna commented.
Suddenly, black light surrounded Darien and then it and Darien vanished.
“He’s gone!” Jupiter exclaimed.
“It’s Beryl,” Luna said.
“I really thought we had gotten him back,” Mercury said.
“No, not again,” Sailor Moon groaned.
The view of the park was amazing from a car on the Ferris Wheel. It was even more so with Lita sitting beside him. The view served to re-affirm his determination that Beryl will not win the fight.
“I spoke to Luna about my hearing your thoughts. She said that our relationship now is closer than it was before, however the telepathic link is only possible when we’re close to one another. At least for right now.”
Nephlite nodded. “Speaking of relationships, it looks like Amy and Greg are finally together. I guess your talk with her really helped.”
Lita glanced at the car across the wheel where Amy and Greg were sitting. “They definitely look happy,” she said. “You know, this is a pretty romantic spot.”
“I agree.” Nephlite turned Lita’s face to his, leaned forward and brought his lips to hers. Lita happily responded back to their first kiss.
Chapter Sixteen- Malachite’s Last Stand
“So, this is the place,” Artemis said. “Central Control said we would find a portal into the Negaverse here.”
The gang was in a deserted building and standing before a dark hole. To Nephlite, this didn’t seem possible, but then he used to teleport between Earth and the Negaverse. That wasn’t possible anymore, so this portal could be an alternate path.
“It leads to Beryl’s palace?” Venus asked.
“No way it’s that easy to get in, you guys,” Mars remarked.
“I agree with Mars,” Nephlite said. “There’s no way a portal could lead into the palace. It’s possible this portal is a path into the Negaverse, though.”
“There’s only one way to find out,” Jupiter said.
“Let’s do it,” Luna said, leaping into the hole. The others followed.
It turned that the other side of the portal came out in a network of caves. Artemis suggested splitting up with him and Luna going one way and Nephlite and the scouts going another way. They traveled down one cave until they reached a fork in the path.
“Let’s check this one out, okay?” Venus said, pointing to the right. They had only gone a few feet down the right-hand cave before Venus stopped. “Hold it, everyone. Something’s in here. Something cold.”
Nephlite saw pale green mist in the air that quickly coalesced into…Malachite! “Welcome,” Malachite greeted. “So you finally decided to surrender the Imperium Crystal. I’ll gladly take it off your hands.”
“Dream on, Surfer Boy,” Jupiter retorted. “Jupiter Thunder…Crash!”
Malachite teleported to avoid the attack and then twice more to get closer to the group. “Hey Sailor Moon,” he said. “Let’s make a deal. You hand over that crystal and I won’t toast your friends.”
“No deal with double-crossing, bad bleached job, Nega-trash like you,” Sailor Moon said. “Get ready, the Negaverse is dust.” She held the moon wand up to chest height as she looked at their enemy.
“Empty threat Sailor Moon,” Malachite scoffed. “We wasted Queen Serenity and we’ll do the same to you.”
“How do you know about Queen Serenity?” Sailor Moon asked softly.
“Because I was there on that glorious day when we trashed the Moon Kingdom.”
“Liar. She would never have sent crumbs like you into the future with us. You’re lying! And you’re not getting my crystal!”
Nephlite knew Malachite wasn’t lying about being there when the Moon Kingdom had been destroyed. He remembered that day, too. Unlike Malachite though, he now felt ashamed for having done such a thing.
Suddenly he and the scouts were blasted off their feet due to a wave of energy Malachite had fired at them. Sailor Moon cried out and he saw the wand fly out of her grip!
“The Imperium Crystal will be mine,” Malachite declared, reaching toward it. But, before he could reach it, the crystal began to glow and Nephlite blacked out.
As he came to, he heard Sailor Moon say, “What’s going on? Where are we? What is this place? It feels familiar. How…?”
He looked around as he got to his feet. There was crumbled rubble all around them. It, too, looked familiar to him, but not in the way that it did to Sailor Moon. Then, off in the distance, he saw the planet Earth!
Wait. Now I know where we are! We’re on the moon at the site of the Moon Kingdom! No wonder it looked familiar.
“This is your home, Serena. What’s left of the Moon Kingdom,” a gentle voice said. Nephlite looked in the direction of the voice to see a ball of yellow light floating in the air in front of Sailor Moon who looked surprised.
“Huh? What’s going on here? How do you know my name?” she demanded. The ball landed at her feet and changed into a small woman who Nephlite recognized instantly: Queen Serenity!
“Oh, Serena, you haven’t changed at all. Still asking a million questions. Just as curious as a kitten. But, I’m not surprised you don’t remember me. That’s the way I arranged things. I’m your mother,” the queen answered.
“You?” Sailor Moon gasped. “You mean we’re actually back on the moon? It’s not some weird dream or something?”
Serenity smiled as the others awoke and stood up. “No, Serena. This is not a dream. This is definitely real and since all of you have found your way here, it must be time you learned the truth. I’ll take you back to the final days of our kingdom.”
Suddenly, white light flooded the area and when it cleared, it looked the way it did a long time ago. Nephlite and the scouts were floating above the scene as was Serenity.
“I’m sure Luna told you all about the Silver Millennium when all the planets were at peace. The whole universe was a happy place and our Moon Kingdom was the happiest place of all. There were fireworks and parties every night and dancing and laughing. I raised you to follow in my footsteps. But most of the time you spent staring at the Earth for you had fallen in love with a young man from there.”
Nephlite watched and listened to a scene between Serena and Darien. He realized, from Darien’s words and knowing these were the Moon’s final days that he had already been lured to the Negaverse’s side. He was witnessing events before Beryl attacked the Moon. Through select scenes, Nephlite learned that Darien had been asked to help protect the Moon, that Artemis and Luna had sounded the call to battle, and he saw Mars, Mercury, Venus, and Jupiter attack the Nega-force, only to fail.
A surge of emotions went through him as the battle reached its climax and end. He felt anger when he saw Queen Beryl trying to lure Darien to her side and then pride when Darien refused. He felt horror when Serena and Darien were on the verge of being captured. He felt shame and guilt very strongly at the sight of the destroyed kingdom. He helped cause it. He felt sadness at Serenity’s death in order to save her daughter, Darien, and Serena’s court.
There was another flash of light and they were back in the cave. However, everyone’s thoughts were on the events they had just witnessed.
“She saved us all,” Sailor Moon finally said, tears in her eyes.
“She sure did,” Jupiter agreed, tears also in her eyes.
“She’s the reason we’re here,” Venus stated.
“Yeah. And what about Beryl?” Mars added. “That sleaze queen. She’s definitely going down.”
“Right,” said Mercury.
“I know I helped destroy the Moon Kingdom,” Nephlite choked, eyes bright with unshed tears. “But I will not allow Earth to suffer the same fate.”
Sailor Moon had sunk to her knees, holding the Moon Wand to her cheek. “We’ve gotta be strong,” she said softly.
Just then, the cries of the guardian cats caught their attention and they raced toward the sound in time to see Malachite blast the two of them.
“No, Luna!” Sailor Moon cried.
“Artemis!” Venus exclaimed. “We’ll save you.” “No, just run,” Artemis said weakly before passing out next to an already unconscious Luna.
The gang glared at Malachite as their leader declared, “This is low, even for a slime like you.”
“You can’t blame me, brat,” Malachite sneered. “They’re the ones who trained you to be as annoying as you are.”
“Let’s show this jerk what Artemis and Luna really taught us,” Jupiter stated.
“Excellent idea, Jupiter,” Venus said. “Hasta la vista, Pretty Boy.”
“Yeah, you’re finished,” added Mercury.
“Majorly toasted, Blondie,” Mars chimed in.
“This is the end for you, Malachite,” Nephlite said.
“Cut to the chase,” Malachite taunted. “You gonna stand there or you gonna fight?”
“I’m warning you Malachite,” Sailor Moon spoke up. “You’re never winning this one and you’re not getting my crystal!”
“Didn’t your mother teach you Never Say Never?” Malachite again taunted before summoning a pair of pink curved swords and threw them boomerang-like at Sailor Moon. They slashed at the blonde and she would have hit the floor if Venus didn’t catch her.
“Sailor Moon!” Venus cried.
“This guy just gets stronger every time we see him,” Mercury remarked.
“We got to protect the crystal,” Mars insisted.
“You can sure go ahead and try, but nothing stands in the way of the mighty Negaverse.” He summoned his weapons again, this time striking Jupiter and Mercury who remained standing.
“Come on scouts. Gotta rally here,” Venus called. “We fight as one. We can shut him down.” She handed the unconscious Sailor Moon to Nephlite before holding up her power stick with the others.
A cascade of dust and sparkles flowed from the sticks above Nephlite’s head and enveloped all of them. Malachite attacked again and the scouts were being slashed as was Nephlite. He started to sink to his knees just as Sailor Moon awoke and rose to her feet. Despite his pain, he stayed conscious to witness what was to come.
“I am Sailor Moon, Champion of Justice, Princess of the Moon Kingdom, and you’re worst nightmare. On behalf of the moon, I will right all wrongs and triumph over evil. And you’re the worst kind of evil.” She lifted the Moon Wand to chest height again. “Cosmic Moon Power!”
“Huh?” gasped Malachite before exclaiming, “No! I am not letting this Moon child defeat me. She’s no match for the Nega-power!” He launched another attack, but Sailor Moon used the wand to send it back at Malachite, striking a fatal blow.
“I’m…losing strength. Zoycite, it’s me. I’ll be coming to join you real soon, Zoycite. Do you hear me?” Malachite dissolved into bubbles and was no more.
Nephlite stared at the spot where Malachite had vanished as he got to his feet. His call to Zoycite had confirmed what he had believed for some time: Zoycite was dead. Jedite and I are the only ones who survived.
“Way to go, Sailor Moon,” praised Luna who had woken up minutes ago as did Artemis. “You wasted Malachite.” Both cats remained lying down, too injured to try and get up.
“Yeah, just like your mother,” Artemis added.
Sailor Moon knelt down and cradled Luna in her arms. “Luna, Artemis, what were you two thinking, going up against him?”
“It wasn’t really our choice,” the black cat protested. “He surprised us when we were coming back to tell you guys we think we found a Negaverse base set up in the northern latitude.”
“And from the look of it,” Artemis added. “Beryl’s getting ready to stage her first attack. We’re gonna have to put her away for good.”
“I think we’ve all had enough of that sleaze queen.” Sailor Moon looked back at her friends. “What do you guys say?”
“Trash her,” they chorused.
“Beryl is about to meet her match,” Sailor Moon declared.
They found their way out of the maze of caves thanks to Mercury’s computer. Once they were out, the scouts changed back to normal girls and they headed for the temple to dress Luna and Artemis’s injuries.
“Boy, Malachite sure was strong,” Mina commented, dabbing ointment on one of Artemis’s bruises.
“Yes, but why?” Amy asked.
“I know,” Nephlite said. “I remember that Malachite was the leader of the guards.”
“That explains why he was so strong,” Raye said. “I mean, he was the captain and all.”
“With Malachite defeated,” said Luna from Serena’s lap. “only Beryl stands between us and peace.”
Luna’s right, Nephlite thought. Only Beryl remains and we must defeat her.
Chapter Seventeen- Peace At Last
“Scientists are scrambling to find a way to dispel a huge, mysterious heat spot which is melting the polar ice caps and threatening civilization…”
That sounds like Beryl’s doing. I never knew she was willing to do such a thing. She must be stopped!
Beep, beep. “Nephlite, this is Raye. Come to the temple. We’re going to face Beryl now.”
“I’ll be there.”
As he put his communicator away and prepared to teleport, he heard Jedite’s voice say, It is almost time, my friend.
“So, we’re finally going to meet Beryl,” Raye said.
“Are you guys ready?” Mina asked.
“Yeah, can’t wait,” Lita replied.
“This’ll be our toughest fight ever,” Amy added.
“Psst, Raye,” Serena said, sidling up to the priestess. “Major question: You didn’t forget to kiss Chad goodbye, didja?”
Nephlite observed the scene quietly. He had intended to go with the girls to fight Beryl, but Jedite’s recent message told him that he better stay behind and wait for that portal.
“Well, girls, are you ready?” Artemis asked as he and Luna walked up, both still bandaged from last night’s encounter with Malachite. “This’ll be a rough one.”
“But we know you can do it,” Luna chimed in.
“Oh, yeah,” Serena cut in, sounding irritated. “We kinda heard enough. Moon Prism Power.”
Once they had transformed, Jupiter turned to Nephlite. “Ready to go?”
“I’m not going.”
“What?” all five chorused.
“Why not?” Venus asked.
“Jedite sent me a message before I got here tonight. He’s almost ready to open the portal.”
“Okay,” Sailor Moon said. “We’ll fight Beryl while you rescue Jedite.”
Nephlite nodded as the scouts held hands in a circle, combining their powers to teleport to the North Pole, where Negaverse base was situated. “Scout Power!” they said softly before disappearing.
Nephlite sat on the temple steps with Luna and Artemis beside him. After several minutes of silence, Artemis said, “I hope they’re all right.”
“So do I,” Luna agreed. “I just don’t think they’re ready to face Beryl.”
“Beryl’s not giving us much choice,” Nephlite pointed out. “I believe they’re ready. As long as they support each other, they will succeed.”
Suddenly, a black portal opened before them and Nephlite heard Jedite say, Hurry, Nephlite.
He stood up and said, “That’s the portal. I’ll be back with Jedite.” He stepped into the portal…
…and came out in a room that he sensed was isolated from the rest of the palace and could not be accessed through teleportation. Across from where he stood, he saw Jedite in his crystal prison. He strode quickly over to his captive friend.
“Jedite,” he said softly. “I’m here, but how do I free you?”
Jedite’s eyes glowed white. It will take both of us to break my prison. I have regained my fire powers. I will weaken the crystal from the inside. Then you can use your lightning sword to shatter it.
“I understand. Let’s do it.”
Jedite’s hands glowed briefly before fire appeared in them. They leaped to the crystal and spread across the part in front of him. The crystal became heated, but it did not melt.
Nephlite brought his sword out, the entire blade crackling with electricity. He cut a vertical line, a horizontal line, and two diagonal lines before swinging the handle’s end at the point where the lines intersected. The front of the crystal shattered and Jedite fell forward, Nephlite catching him before he hit the floor.
Footsteps outside the room approached in a slow fashion. It was a guard just making his rounds. He appeared at the threshold ready to move past, but the sight of Nephlite and the freed Jedite changed that.
“We have an intruder and he’s freed Jedite!” the guard shouted, which brought a second guard to the scene. Both of them drew swords as they stepped into the room.
“Oh, Beryl will reward us for bringing these two to her,” the first guard said gleefully.
Nephlite scowled. No way, they were going to be brought before Beryl. Both of them would be immediately killed. He raised his sword into the air and sent a thunderbolt slamming through the guard, killing him instantly.
The second one gaped at his dead companion. His lack of attention was all Nephlite and Jedite needed. The blonde whispered, “Lift my arm and I’ll finish him.” Nephlite did so and Jedite shot a stream of fire toward the guard, who snapped his attention back to them. The fire engulfed him and left a blackened corpse once it was extinguished.
“We better leave before someone else shows up,” Nephlite said.
“Agreed.” Jedite’s arm still raised, he summoned a portal and Nephlite carried them through it.
They came out at Raye’s temple and he heard Luna’s excited voice exclaim, “You’ve got him!”
“He needs time to get his legs and arms working again,” Nephlite explained.
“That makes sense after being imprisoned for so long,” Luna said.
“Is it usually cold and dark here now?” Jedite spoke up.
“No,” Nephlite answered, now noticing the cold and darkness for the first time. “Beryl hasn’t been beaten yet.”
“But, she will be,” Artemis insisted.
“I’m going to take Jedite home,” Nephlite said. “Call me if the Negaverse attacks.”
“We will,” Luna promised.
Nephlite nodded before teleporting the two of them to his home. Once there, Nephlite set Jedite on the couch before lighting several candles and sitting down.
“Nephlite, thank you for rescuing me.”
“I wouldn’t have been able to without your plan.”
“That’s true. Nevertheless, thank you. So, what has been going on after Beryl punished me?”
Nephlite leaned back in his seat. “Oh, man. Where do I start?”
“Perhaps, I could read your mind to see what you mean.”
Nephlite stared at him, amazed. “I think Artemis was right: You must have strong psychic powers. Of course, you can read my mind.”
Jedite leaned forward, managed to raise his arm, and placed his index and middle fingers on Nephlite’s forehead. A series of images flashed through Jedite’s mind, all from Nephlite’s point of view. He saw the seven Crystal Carriers, the Silver Crystal, Princess Serena and Prince Darien, learning of his past as well as the others, Malachite’s death, Prince Darien now serving the Negaverse, and the scouts teleporting to face Beryl.
Jedite removed his fingers and leaned back. “You’ve had quite an adventure. So, you and I are only guards to survive.”
“Yes. I found my love from the past: Princess Jupiter, also known as Sailor Jupiter.”
“And what of Princess Mars? Have you found her too?”
“All of them have been found. You know that priestess you worked for at one time?”
“Oh, yes. I found out she was Sailor Mars…oh, shit. She’s also Princess Mars!”
“Don’t worry. She won’t be hostile toward you. They forgave me, though it did take more time with Mars.”
“I look forward to meeting Jupiter and Venus as well as re-meeting the others.”
“I’m sure they look forward to seeing you.”
Suddenly, Jedite gasped and a hand flew to his right temple. This alarmed Nephlite. “Jedite, what’s wrong?”
“Beryl. I sense that she’s gone insane with anger. And it’s toward Sailor Moon.”
“Ah, they’ve made it inside. The epic final battle will soon be here.”
“Do you think they’ll win?”
“Yes. They have the Silver Crystal and their friendship. When they return, Sailor Moon can use the Crescent Moon Wand to destroy your bond to the Negaforce.”
“She can do that?”
“She did it with me. I don’t see why it wouldn’t work with you.”
At that point, a breeze went through the room and snuffed out the candles. Nephlite frowned in the darkness. “I know I didn’t leave a window open.”
“It’s Beryl again. She’s more insane with anger than I thought.”
“What do you mean?”
“She merged with the Negaforce.”
Nephlite gasped. “She must be desperate to win.” The two men lapsed into silence, each lost in thought. The silence was broken when Nephlite heard Jedite scream followed by a thud that told him that Jedite have fallen to the floor.
Then, Nephlite saw Jedite on the floor writhing and convulsing, his outline aglow with fiery energy: The fire of Mars. He knelt beside him. “Jedite, what’s happening?”
“Aaahhh! Beryl’s been defeated…Negaverse destroyed…bond is breaking…Aaahhh!”
That explains the screaming and convulsing. Perhaps his connection to Mars is re-forming and breaking the Negaverse bond which would explain the fiery glow.
Slowly, the firelight faded, plunging the room into darkness again before the electricity was restored. Jedite slowly sat up, his face haggard and exhausted, yet a small smile was on his lips.
“I’m free,” he whispered. “I’m no longer bonded to the Negaverse and my connection to Mars has fully returned.”
“That’s wonderful. Now, I think we should get some sleep. It’s been a long night.”
Nephlite was in a black void with white fog flowing around his legs. He knew he was in a dream, yet he sensed that someone or something was trying to communicate with him. Suddenly, Jedite appeared next to him. He seemed just as startled to see Nephlite as he was to see Jedite.
“What’s going on?” Jedite asked, his voice echoing slightly.
“I believe someone wants to speak with us,” he answered, his voice also echoing.
“Actually, there are two,” a new, yet familiar voice said.
Both men looked in the direction of the voice to see Malachite, who had spoken, and Zoycite. Nephlite noticed that they looked rather peaceful.
“The Negaverse is destroyed,” Zoycite said. “Malachite and I are free of its influence and we are now able to rest in peace.”
“We trust you two will continue to watch over our prince as well as Princess Serena,” Malachite said.
Both nodded and Malachite and Zoycite started to fade away. Zoycite looked at Nephlite, her eyes saying that she has let go of her hostility and resentment toward him. Nephlite smiled at her and nodded, likewise saying the same thing with his eyes. Soon, Nephlite found himself alone in the void, the fog now gone. He fell into a deep sleep, looking forward to a new, peaceful era.