Sailor Moon G: Venus's Brightness Shines Anew. Kariudo the Lancer Appears!
By Dyne

     "IT'S NOT FAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIR!!!" Aino Minako wailed as she threw herself onto her stuffed animal-ridden bed. The news that she had been dreading for the past week had finally reached her ears; she was no longer allowed to attend Juuban Jr. High because her grades had dropped too far. Minako had been enjoying the time she was spending with Usagi, Ami, Makoto, and recently Debe, all under the same school roof and how they would always be able to talk at lunch and meet right away after school to go to the arcade or other fun things. However, it was the last test she had taken during the previous week that had killed her chances of staying with her friends. While she had overcome the challenge of getting a better score than Usagi (and thus winning a bet to earn a date), the score was not high enough to bring her grades back to what they had been before her transfer. But with her date being too chicken to actually take her to the planned dance, and a youma attack severely injuring Makoto and her friend, Shinozaki, the news she received upon returning home that night was the third and final blow. Her parents had waited until after the dance to deliver the bad news because they didn't want her to feel down during the activity, but Umino had taken care of that. Minako didn't know if she wanted to cry or beat something up out of frustration.

     Her guardian cat, Artemis, knew better than to get too close at that moment, so he stayed laying on her dresser.

     "Mina," he consoled, "at least this way you won't be distracted so much and come time to enroll in high school, you'll be able to go back to being with the other girls." Her response was simply to throw a pillow right between his eyes. After a hard landing, he simply picked himself up from off of the floor, jumped onto her bed (out of kicking range), and continued, "I know how much you like being with your friends, but Ami will agree with me that getting a good education will be better for you in the long run." He dodged another projectile aimed at him. "You know I'm here to help you, but I don't want people to put you in the punch line of the dumb blonde jokes I hear all the time." Artemis's joking nature picked a very bad time to surface, "I can hear them now: 'If you looked in a dictionary under 'Dumb Blonde,' you'd see Aino Minako's picture next to- URK!'" and his words were cut short as he felt Minako's ribbon, which she'd undone and used like her Venus Love Me Chain, wrap around his neck.

     "Artemisssss..." her glare would have been enough to easily frighten even the most dreaded of demons as her head seemed to increase to nearly three times its normal size. But the white cat was helpless as he was pulled towards the angry girl and became the target of her frustrations.


     The wailings of the poor feline could be heard for blocks.



     The next morning was a very welcome Sunday for Makoto as she and her three companions entered her apartment. The night had been both extremely long and unusual, but in her opinion, rewarding. She and her friends had also had their plans on going to the school dance interrupted as a youma, clearly insane and bent on destroying anything around it, appeared out of nowhere and became the catalyst for her most recent life-changing experience. Debe was the only one of the four in her group that was able to do any fighting without a transformation, so he held the youma at bay while Shinozaki took her and Ami to safety. Makoto didn't know exactly what happened, but she too joined the fight after Guardian Mercury took a hit. Her anger had exceeded its capacity when she saw the youma become the cause of an accident that had her assuming Shinozaki was crushed under a pile of rubble. However, her anger backfired as the youma's own rage at seeing her become Sailor Jupiter powered it enough to nearly kill her by draining her life energy within a hair of empty then slowly killing her in ways she didn't want to know about. Her salvation came in the form of her own Guardian's memory awakening and destroying the youma with the help of Sailor Mercury. Debe had proposed to her that Shinozaki was her Guardian, and he had been right. His memories were partially awakened upon seeing her transform and they were fully restored later that night while she was in a coma. Shinozaki enlisted Debe and Mamoru's help to defeat the other two youma that they had seen when the first arrived, and they were glad to be of assistance. In her comatose state, Makoto sensed the battle across town, witnessed a vision that returned her strength, and arrived in time to help finish the two youma that had fused into one. After a tearful reunion with Shinozaki, Jupiter's Violin, the royal instrument of her home planet, appeared from her body. Once things had calmed down, Sailor Jupiter returned to the hospital to get her clothes, sign out, and invited the three men for breakfast at her place. Sailor Pluto had also arrived to help with the battle, even becoming the one to turn the tide in their favor, but she declined the invitation and returned to the Realm of Time, promising to further assist if she was needed.

     "You guys have got to be tired," Makoto noticed the black rings under the men's eyes for the first time, "were you up all night looking for that thing?"

     "Yeah," Debe answered with a yawn as since the adrenaline of battle had worn off, exhaustion caught up to him, "but knowing your cooking, sleep can wait." Shinozaki immediately agreed with that one.

     "You guys are the best," Makoto wrapped one arm around each of them into a group hug. Had Mamoru been in the hug as well, he would have known the pain that stood alongside the loud cracking noises coming from the two younger boys. When she did let them go and walked into the kitchen to start breakfast, they immediately held their ribs in pain.

     "How'd you survive watching over her for so long?" Debe joked as he stretched his arm and popped his shoulder, possibly back into place.


     Once breakfast was ready and everyone gathered to feast on Mako's specially prepared rice and miso soup, the conversation soon turned to matters of the utmost importance.

     "Two of the Guardians have surfaced," Mamoru took the lead of the discussion, "but we're the only ones who know about Jupiter."

     "That's right," Shinozaki said, "Debe didn't say anything to anyone about what happened to me when Mako-chan got hurt."

     "Actually," the grey-eyed youth corrected, "I told Ami-chan but not Usagi, Rei, or Minako because, knowing them, had your memories not come back while you were out cold, Shino, they'd probably be asking you things you couldn't remember. If you found yourself being asked questions on 'What was Mako like 1,000 years ago?' or 'What was life like on Jupiter?' I have no idea what kind of chaos would have resulted."

     "Debe-kun," Makoto asked, "what do you mean?"

     "Think of it this way," he explained, "if the events in his memory were presented to him before he was ready to learn about them, he might never have accepted his former role as Guardian Jupiter, thus not accepting it in the present. That probably would have ruined all chances of him fully awakening."

     "I know what you're saying," Shinozaki looked at the violin at his side, "kind of like in a class where they give you a test on material that was never mentioned in class," he picked up the shining instrument by the neck in one hand, extended his free fist, and a long bow made of solid but enchanted wood appeared inside of it, "but now that I know who I was, I've accepted my duty and-" he stopped and looked questioningly at the food in front of him.

     "Is something wrong, does it taste bad?" Makoto inquired.

     "No," he shook his head; "it's strange. I was starving a moment ago, but now I feel full."

     "Double check what's in your hands," Debe informed.

     As Shinozaki examined his hands, realization hit his head and the bow vanished, "Forgot about that."

     "Forgot about what?" Mamoru and Makoto asked at the same time.

     "He held both of the royal treasures," Debe explained yet again, "remember how I explained that while I was in possession of Mercury's Sword and Ocarina, my aging process stopped?"

     The brown-haired girl and black-haired man nodded.

     "The two royal treasures of Jupiter have a similar effect, only in that while they are held, the bearer never gets hungry or thirsty."

     "That's why he felt full," Mamoru concluded.

     "Yeah," Shinozaki confirmed, "but now I'm hungry again."

     "The effects last only while you're holding both," Debe continued, "but I would be careful not to hold them for too long otherwise as soon as you separate them, you'd die of thirst or starvation if you hadn't been eating or drinking."

     "So there are drawbacks," Mamoru stated, "abusing their power and not correcting for it could be fatal. What are the effects of Mars and Venus?"

     "I'm not too sure," Debe looked down, "I can't quite remember. I just know that the instrument of Mars is a war drum and Venus is a golden trumpet." He looked at Shinozaki.

     "You remember more than I do," he simply said, "I haven't been awakened as long."

     "Wait a minute," Makoto realized, "Debe-kun, how long did you hold Mercury's treasures?"

     He thought for a second and responded, "Eight years. Six before being put in suspended animation and two before meeting with Ami-chan again."

     "Then shouldn't you be eight years older now?" She and the other two men looked at him as he shook his head.

     "I don't know," he answered, "I don't know."

     "There's something else I want to know," Mamoru spoke again, "Debe is able to use some degree of power even when he's not transformed. Shinozaki, are you able to do something similar?"

     "I can't answer that yet since I haven't had time to experiment," he said, "but with a little training I should be able to find something," he looked to Debe and nodded.

     "It's good to have you here with us," Mamoru diverted, "especially since we don't know exactly what we're up against."

     "All I know is that our enemy is some dark lord named Amethyst who came from another system, or possibly galaxy," Debe summarized, "I'm going to ask Rei to call a meeting at the Hikawa shrine after school tomorrow so we can plan out a way to start gathering info, maybe even have her do a fire reading."

     "We'll worry about all of that later," Makoto said, "but for now, who's going to tell the rest of the girls that Shinozaki-kun is Guardian Jupiter?"


     The newly awakened Guardian wouldn't have to spend too much time with the group before he learned why Debe and Mamoru's faces suddenly paled beyond belief.


     Not long after finishing their breakfast, Makoto sent the three boys home so they could get some sleep. Debe greeted it with open arms as he trudged into his apartment, two floors above hers. With all of the time he had spent being awake and the energy he used up in using his new attack, which he named Parting the Water, he was arguably the most exhausted of the three. He had just walked in and collapsed onto his bed when the phone rang.

     I'll let the machine get it, he thought as he closed his eyes and let it ring four more times. He was just about to enter the world of sleep when whoever called could be heard leaving the message. It was the sound of Ami's voice that caused him to forget his thought and snap awake.

     "Good morning, Debe," she said happily, "I assume you're out on your run. After you get home can you please call me? I'll talk-"

     Not wanting to make the girl he loved wait longer than necessary, he immediately picked up the receiver and greeted, "I'm here, Ami-chan."

     "Oh, you startled me," she slightly gasped. "Did you just wake up?"

     "Technically, yes," he grinned. "What can I do for you?"

     "I received a call from my mother just a minute ago and she told me that Mako-chan disappeared from her room a few hours ago. Do you have any idea what happened to her?"

     "Believe it or not, Ami-chan, she's fully recovered and back at home."

     "That's hard to believe, she was in a coma," the blue-haired girl was musing. "How did she recover?"

     "Your guess is as good as mine," he shrugged and failed to notice how his lack of sleep was about to affect their conversation, "she just showed up and helped us win the battle against those last two youma."

     "You went after them alone?" Ami asked both in surprise and in sternness.

     "N-no," he quickly assured her, "Mamoru-san and Shinozaki came with me," and briefly explained how his memory had returned as he lay in the hospital. "It was actually his idea and, even though it took us all night, we defeated them before they could hurt anyone else."

     "Oh, I understand. You just got home and was going to bed when I called?" Ami figured, "I'm so sorry. I'll let you get some sleep. I'll call everyone else and tell then that Mako-chan is okay and what happened."

     "Thank you, Ami-chan," he yawned.

     "You're welcome, but get some sleep. It's not healthy to be awake all night. Bye."

     He nodded and, as soon as he hung up, feeling very relieved that he wouldn't be the messenger and also appreciative that Ami was concerned about his well-being, fell asleep before his head hit the pillow.



     Topaz slowly opened his eyes as he awoke to the sounds of clinking glass and beeping machines. He didn't have to double-check the other half of the bed to know that Garnet had already gotten up and gotten to work. As soon as he cleaned himself up and changed into his uniform, he stepped into the Realm's laboratory and, indeed, found Garnet once again busily working on the formula she had been working on for the past two months, only one of three of her major projects that needed to be finished. He sighed, knowing that she was overworking herself as it had taken him nearly an hour to convince her to go to sleep the previous night. He also wanted to be able to help her with those projects, but her expertise in the subjects outweighed his knowledge 1000:1.

     "You're just in time," she said, sounding relieved but not turning around, "I've just finished it."

     "Congratulations," he stood next to her to watch as the formula she had mixed sat in a large beaker.

     "It has to cool for about 30 hours," she explained, "otherwise it will be too unstable to inject into humans."

     "Hmm," Topaz thought aloud as he watched the emerald green compound in front of him bubble, "that will work out for the better. It'll take me at least a day to find out about those two guinea pigs I promised you."

     "That reminds me," Garnet literally snapped her fingers in remembrance, "Lord Amethyst contacted me this morning."

     "I see. What did he have to say?"

     "'The first phase has been implemented,'" she quoted verbatim. "'Continue your research and be ready to execute Operation Dark Realm when I return.' His estimate in gathering youma for his army is about a month."

     "That doesn't give us much time to execute the Operation. But you can take a break for today, you've earned it." Topaz turned and headed for a more open part of the room.

     "Where are you going?" Garnet asked.

     "Back to Tokyo," he replied as he motioned his hand to open a Gate. "Those two girls who fought over me and nearly pulled my arms out both looked to be teenagers, so I'll check the schools in that district and try to find some records on them." Without another word, he stepped into the black wormhole that linked the Realm Fortress to Earth's crust.

     "Don't be gone too long," he heard Garnet speak after him.



     "Yuichirou!" Rei shouted from the entrance of the shrine's house. She didn't bother to wait for him as she stepped back into the living room and sighed; the condition of the room had become the victim of the earthquake that had been centered on the shrine. Plants had fallen over, furniture was overturned, books had fallen from the shelves, and so on. Even though an earthquake hadn't actually been what had caused the damaged, it may as well have been. The truth behind the chaos was Usagi having come over to borrow more of her manga. Once Rei had given her permission to borrow them (after a long argument of course), rather than leave immediately, the blonde plopped down onto Rei's bed and decided to read them there. However, it was her constant and loud laughing that began to scare the visitors to the shrine outside, who were buying charms or praying. The high-pitched yowls frightened all of the customers away and, as they left, she heard them muttering about how an evil spirit had come to haunt the shrine and they'd tell all of their family and friends to never come here. Thus, because Usagi was responsible for the shrine's losing a lot of business, Rei spent at least ten minutes chasing her through the house with her broom until the odango girl finally left.

     "Yes, Rei-san?" Yuichirou appeared behind her as he had heeded her call.

     "Help me clean this up, will you?" she asked as she began to pick up some of the books. Luckily, none of the vases had been broken, mostly due to the fact that ever since she had met Usagi, she starting laying down extra matting around the pedestals containing breakable objects. She didn't listen to Yuichirou's rambling on how grateful he was that she had asked for his assistance as she continued working.

     Rei had only gotten a full stack of books into her arms when the phone rang.

     "Grandpa, can you get that?" she asked loudly.

     "He left to go shopping," Yuichirou informed her, his voice straining to signify that he was carrying something heavy.

     Rei muttered something under her breath about what he really meant by "shopping" before saying, "Fine, hold these," and dumping her stack into his already full arms.


     The crash came just as she picked up the receiver.


     "Hikawa Shrine," she greeted.

     "Hello, Rei," came Debe's voice from the other end.

     "Ah, Debe-san," she answered. "What's going on?"

     "I just woke up and I need to ask a favor."

     Rei checked the clock. It's already after noon. Why would he sleep in so late? she thought, but decided not to question.

     "What do you need?" she asked.

     "I'm calling a meeting for everyone at the shrine tomorrow after school."

     "That's no problem, we always meet here."

     "I know, but I also would like you to perform a fire reading so we can try and find out more about our enemy."

     "Sounds good. I'll do my best."

     "Thanks, Rei," he concluded, "see you tomorrow. Bye."

     "Bye," with that, she hung up the phone and turned back to the living room. "Yuichirou! Quit lying around and help me finish cleaning up! I've got to go meditate when we're done."

     Yuichirou, still caught under the enormous pile, simply said, "Yes, Rei-san..."



     The next morning, Minako sighed as she placed her Juuban Jr. High uniform on its hangar after holding it up to herself in the mirror for the last time before her mother would return it for her. Her Shibakouen Jr. High uniform lay on her bed next to a still bruised and battered Artemis. Whereas the night before she started at Juuban had been restless due to excitement, the previous night had been so for the opposite reason.

     "Mina," the white cat asked quietly as he held his paws over his eyes, "have you gotten dressed yet?" He knew he would only be in more pain if she saw him looking at her in her underwear.

     "No, not yet, Artemis," she answered surprisingly calmly. definitely showing her depression.

     "Cheer up, it's not like you're leaving Usagi and the others forever. Keep your grades up and you'll be able to go to high school with them."

     "Yeah..." she whispered and began to slip the uniform on.

     "And you'll still have your old friends."

     They were never really my friends, she thought, remembering how they would be nice to her at school only because of her Volleyball skills. It was never hard to overhear them whispering rumors and other things about her behind her back. But she only sighed and again said, "Yeah..." She continued to think about the times she had spent with Usagi, Ami, and Makoto over at Juuban and how their laughter during lunches had been genuine. The happy conversations, the good food, the meetings right after school, they were now gone all because she had neglected her studies too long.

     By the time, the blonde girl had fully dressed and stood up, saying, "I'm going to I won't be late," and walked out of the room without another word. Artemis quickly followed after her, just in case.


     When Minako finally arrived, after having walked as slowly as possible the whole way, she stood just inside the gate of Shibakouen and looked around.

     Nothing's changed about it in the past couple of months, she mouthed as she thought quietly, then shook her head and began to come to grips with herself. It's not like I've ever been here before, the depression immediately surfaced again as she continued, I'll bet nobody even noticed I was transferred. Her silent statements of self-defeat were vanquished by a loud, excited voice that called to her from behind.


     "Minako-chan!"


     Minako turned around in time to see two of her former classmates, Megumi and Shinobu, run up and fall in step with her as she began walking again.

     "Hi guys," she greeted quietly.

     "Welcome back, Minako-chan," Shinobu returned, smiling, "you were transferred so suddenly that we didn't even get to wish you luck. But now you're back and we can at least say hello."

     "We missed you," Megumi continued, "classes just weren't the same with you not there. Even when you were in England it was like that. But this time it was worse because we didn't think you'd be coming back.

     "Really?" Minako looked at them. They both nodded.

     "And you couldn't have come back at a better time," Shinobu grinned sheepishly, "a new guy transferred here last week and he is to die for!"

     Minako began to listen more intently and asked, "What's he like?"

     "An absolute dream," both girls sighed as their heads entered Cloud 9.

     Shinobu then continued, "His name's Paito Kariudo and he's everything a girl could ever want: Tall, strong, handsome, funny, and nice."

     "More, tell me more," by now, Minako's eyes had become hearts and she was on the verge of drooling. She entered into an internal struggle equal to the conflict found in a world war as, while they described this new guy, she debated on if she should go to the office to find out her class assignment and complete her registration, or wait outside to meet him and possibly be late. By a margin finer than a human hair, the office won out as she didn't want to have him see her being punished. But once she found out that she was staying in Class 4, the same as before, and not in the same class as Kariudo, she wished she'd run the risk of being late.

     From his vantage point in one of the trees, Artemis smiled. It had been worth the effort to find the phone numbers of Minako's old friends and "anonymously" tip them off to let them know that she was returning. Feeling that she would be find for the rest of the day, he leapt out of the large plant and outside the school fence, only to be kicked into it and then stepped on by a large blur that was running towards the gate shouting, "I'm not going to be late if it kills me!"

     As the white cat lay sprawled on the sidewalk with a large footprint on his back, he simply moaned, "I thought only Minako could hit that hard..." He could only see that same figure turn around and scoop down to pick him up, asking, "Hey, are you okay?" before he lost consciousness.



     Over at Juuban, lunchtime had arrived and Usagi, Ami and Makoto had all met outside for possibly the last time in a while. The late autumn weather had begun to set in and temperatures around the country were beginning to drop. Despite the occasionally cold wind that blew through the area, being outside was still quite enjoyable. Plus, the beauty of the changing leaves rivaled those of the sakura blossoms at spring.

     "It won't be long before we have to change to our winter uniforms," Makoto commented, then sighed as it really made no difference to her as the school still had yet to get a uniform her size.

     "Don't worry, Mako-chan," Usagi chimed while scarfing down her food, "the uniform doesn't matter. You'll always be one of us just like Minako-chan and Rei-chan."

     "It really does feel different without Minako-chan here," Ami observed, "but then again it also felt different when she transferred here. But that shows how we can adapt to changes at any time."

     "Speaking of transfer students and changes," Usagi nudged her blue-headed friend in the ribs, "why doesn't Debe-kun ever eat with us? Half the time I don't even see him at all during school."

     "He's been very busy," Ami sighed, "he's doing everything he can to realize his full fighting potential and find the other Guardians. I'm worried that he's overdoing it and will only exhaust himself."

     Makoto scooted over on the other side of her, "Ami-chan, you do know what you have to do, don't you?"

     "Huh?" the sandwiched girl looked back and forth between her friends.

     "Ask him out on a formal date," Mako grinned, "someplace where the two of you can be alone."

     "Yeah, yeah," Usagi agreed, "a candlelight dinner and dancing."

     "B-b-but I can't do that," Ami's face turned its predictable shade of red, "I mean, I can't afford to a-and he only lives on the interest generated from his savings. I don't think he could afford it either."

     "Ami-chan," Makoto shook her head, "you're only making excuses again. Your mother's a doctor, Debe-kun as over 2 billion yen in the bank. Both of you could easily afford some formal dates. Where do you think he gets the money for those gifts he gave you?"

     "B-but Mako-chan-"

     Both girls opened their mouths to say something, but were interrupted by another burst of cold wind that carried a new sound; the sound of music. Only this wasn't the normal sound of Debe's ocarina, but a slightly higher pitch than what they were used to hearing whenever he played.

     "Is that Debe-kun," Usagi asked, "or did they come back?" There was no need to explain who "they" were. The tone of Usagi's voice rose as she did and began to get overly excited.

     "Calm down, Usagi-chan," Ami said as she turned towards the source, "that's not the tune Ail plays. But it does sound like what Debe does. I think he might be playing a different instrument."

     "Then what are we waiting for?" Usagi took the lead and marched around the corner to where Debe, whose hair was wet, as if he'd just showered, sat under his usual tree. As Ami had predicted, he was not playing the small ocarina that he bought after giving Mercury's back to her, but a long, brightly polished, silver flute was the creator of his song. He obviously sensed their arrival as he stopped his tune in the middle of a measure.

     "This sounds better, doesn't it?" he asked them with his now-trademark half-grin and gestured for them to sit with him.

     "It's beautiful," Makoto complimented as the three girls all took their seats on the ground, "but why did you get a new instrument?"

     "That's easy," he answered as he placed it in it's case, "the ocarina I bought isn't anywhere near as beautiful sounding as Mercury's. I got the flute because it has a greater range of notes, sounds better, and comes much closer to sounding like Mercury's Ocarina. Also, it's always been my favorite instrument. It's a little bigger than an ocarina, but still worth it."

     "When did you buy it?" Ami asked.

     "Saturday afternoon before the dance. But yesterday was the first time I got to play it."

     "Debe-kun you sound like you've played it for years!" Usagi exclaimed.

     "Maybe I have," he just smiled, then his face returned to its normal, serious look, "but, sad to say, there hasn't been a lot of time for fun lately."

     "Yes," Ami nodded in agreement while the other two developed sweatdrops. "This is the first time we've heard you play at lunch in a while. What have you been doing? Have you even been eating lunch?" she obviously knew that his wet hair meant something.

     "Okay Ami-chan, you got me," he confessed, "I've been using the lunch hour to get some more training in. Usually there's not much time to even eat by the time I finish showering." That was more than he needed to say. Ami spent the rest of the lunch period giving him a long talk on the importance of not overexerting himself and also the necessity of eating three square meals a day. Usagi and Makoto only watched and smiled as he sweatdropped and laughed nervously.



     By this time, back at Shibakouen, Artemis was finally beginning to awaken after his morning-long bout with unconsciousness. It was the light of the noon sun pouring into his eyes that fully roused his rational thinking process.

     "Ow, it still hurts," he muttered as he softly touched the large bump that had appeared just above his crescent moon, then looked around. "Where am I?" A brief glance around the room he was inside of quickly answered that question. The sight of several mats, balls, bats, sticks, and other sports equipment labeled it as the PE storage building. In fact, he had been lying on one of the mats. However, there was no visible escape route present.

     Artemis had just begun to search for a way out as the door to the shed began to open and a large silhouette stood in its frame.

     "Good, you're awake," a male voice spoke, "I thought I'd hit you harder than I did."

     The white cat immediately recognized the voice as the same as the person who's kicked him against the outer wall. His instinctive reaction was to crouch low and hiss.

     "Hey, I'm a good guy. I'm not going to hurt you, so you don't have to be afraid," the young man slowly stepped closer. "I brought you something," and stooped down, holding out a full-sized shrimp.

     Artemis decided to continue to act like a normal cat, slowly inched his way towards the particularly tantalizing fish before him, sniffed it a few times, then scarfed it down in one bite.

     "Wow," the guy was impressed, "you're a hungry one."

     As Artemis chewed his large morsel, he was finally able to get a clear look at his new friend. Had he been fully upright he would have stood taller than anyone his age. He had short, light brown nearly dirty-blonde hair with a medium shade of blue eyes. He had the profile of a star athlete, even seen through his uniform. By this time, Artemis had swallowed.

     "Still hungry?" the boy asked. "I snuck out and got you this," he produced a small box full of several more of those large, succulent shrimp. The cat meowed in appreciation and immediately began to pig out while thinking, This guy isn't so bad after all.


     Later on, when school had ended, Minako had said good-bye to her friends and was heading over to the gym. She was still interested in Kariudo, but she also wanted to say hi to one of her former teammates, Asai. Her mood had greatly improved since that morning as many students and teachers genuinely welcomed her back. She never thought that she had been so popular and, forgetting her earlier thought that it had all been because of her Volleyball skills, her ego began to be filled at an alarming, practically dangerous rate. Fortunately for anyone in the vicinity, she was distracted from the conceited soliloquy she was going to give when she saw something unusual: a guy she didn't know was coming around the corner from behind the school with Artemis following him. She quickly jumped behind a nearby tree and only watched the cat as the two of them walked by and listened.

     "Why'd you stay in the shed the whole afternoon?" the guy asked. "I left the door open for you. Your owner's probably wondering where you are."

     "More like what he's doing!" Minako practically barked at the cat as she whipped around from her hiding place, grabbed him by the hair on his back, and lifted him up to the level of her glare. Artemis just gave her a wide, satisfied smile.

     "Hey, he's a nice enough guy and didn't do anything wrong. I just fed him some lunch. What's his name?"

     "Artemis..." Minako turned to look at him, then practically threw the feline aside as her eyes fell on the guy who he'd been with. Wow! He's absolutely gorgeous! "Who are you?"

     "Kariudo..." he seemed to be as mesmerized by her as she was of him, "Paito Kariudo."

     "Aino Minako..." the words barely escaped her mouth as he began to open his again.

     Yes, she thought, he's been so captivated by my beauty that he's going to ask me out right now! Though I'd love to see him in-


     "You're hot!" he spoke loudly. "I'd love to see you in a swimsuit!"


     This time, Minako did throw Artemis aside as she lifted her hand and slapped Kariudo dead on the cheek before forgetting about the gym and storming off towards the main gate. Megumi, who had caught Artemis and seen and heard the incident, quickly ran up to the blonde.

     "Minako-chan, wait!" she called. "Kariudo-kun was only joking!"

     If he was joking then how come he said exactly what I was thinking! She wanted to strangle Artemis again because his quiet snickering from the other girl's arms told her that he knew that fact as well.



     About an hour later, everybody began to arrive at the Hikawa Shrine for the meeting that Debe had requested. As usual, he was already waiting when everyone else, except for Rei, began to arrive.

     "Why didn't you tell us that Shinozaki-kun was Guardian Jupiter?" the black-haired girl asked sternly as she continued to sweep the walk. Debe was keeping an eye on her, in case she'd start sweeping at him, while the other eye looked at the hilt in his hand.

     "It was his idea," he answered, "he wanted the two of us and Tuxedo Kamen to fight those last two youma because Sailor Jupiter was down. Ironically, she was the one who finished them off."

     "That's why you asked to meet?" she asked. "To talk about those new youma?"

     "Yes," he stood up and formed the blade of his sword. "I want to know who this enemy is and what his motives are," raising the weapon he studied its blade, "the Sailor Senshi were re-awakened to fight Metallia and the Dark Kingdom. But now there's something happening that's serious enough for the Guardians to be awakened too."

     "The earth is in danger," a male voice stated as Shinozaki and Makoto reached the top of the stairs, "and I wish to know why our memories weren't restored sooner."

     Debe put his weapon away and shook his head, "If only we knew."

     "And there are only two of you," Mako stepped in, "and Debe-kun, you told us there are two more. Do you think they'll show up soon?"

     "Fate seems to go the all-or-nothing route," he answered, "so they'll be awakened eventually."

     "Let's just hope they'll be in time," Ami, who had just arrived behind the other two, said quietly.

     "We're going to do the best we can, no matter what happens," Makoto grinned. "Even with just Shinozaki-kun and Debe-kun, our combined powers have already increased big time."

     "Don't give us too much praise," the grey-eyed man sighed, "we have our weaknesses too."

     "What do you mean?" the three girls asked in unison.

     "Despite your elemental affiliations, all of the Senshi are able to combine their attacks, right?"

     They nodded.

     "I learned the hard way that the Guardians can't. We can only combine our attacks with our respective Senshi."

     "How did you figure it out?" Ami asked.

     "I really don't want to say..." Debe's voice tapered off as he moved his eyes away from the group. The night before, he had taken Shinozaki for a brief training session just to see if he knew any different abilities than just his Thunder Arrow. He soon got the idea to try an experiment and see if by combining Guardian Jupiter's Thunder Arrow with his own Parting the Water, his attack would become inundated with lightning and deliver a much more powerful blow. He didn't know how it happened, but the lightning backfired and gave Guardian Mercury a pretty nasty shock. They wisely decided not to try that again.

     "Hi everyone!" Usagi chirped as she finished the climb. The only reason she'd been on time was because she'd come with Mamoru.

     "Usagi-chan," Makoto commented, "you're full of energy this afternoon."

     "Probably because she slept through all of her classes after lunch," Rei commented without lifting her head.

     "Rei-chan, why are you always so mean?" Usagi asked, her good mood crumbling as the stream of tears again shot out of her eyes.

     "Do these arguments break out often?" Shinozaki asked.

     "This has been happening every day lately," Ami sighed as she placed her hand on her forehead.

     "Ami-chan is right," Makoto agreed, also sighing.

     "It's getting ridiculous," Debe continued, "if it's not those two it's something else. Usually because of that, these meetings never last long."

     Fortunately, the fight between the two didn't last more than a minute as Mamoru was easily able to comfort his Usa-ko while Ami scolded Rei on her inappropriate comment.

     "Now, where's Minako?" Debe asked, as she was the only one not there.

     "Coming!" her voice fumed and everyone swore there was smoke coming out of her head as she walked along the stone path.

     "Minako-chan," Usagi asked, "what happened?"

     "There's a guy who just transferred to my school and-"

     "New guy?" Rei and Makoto zipped over to the blonde. "What's he like?"

     Although Minako was still angry, she described Kariudo to them in every detail. She didn't say what her experience with him had been and she refused to admit why she was angry.

     "Hmph," Usagi didn't listen, "why should I want to hear about other men when I have Mamo-chan?" She hugged his arm tightly.

     "Usa-ko," he smiled, but requested, "I do need blood to get to there," as he sweatdropped.

     "He sounds just like my old boyfriend," Makoto soon commented, which was expected.

     "Mako-chan isn't going to change anytime soon," Shinozaki grinned.

     "Debe, I don't understand," Ami asked him via their telepathic link, "Mako-chan knows that Shinozaki-kun is her Guardian, but she still chases after other boys."

     "Because someone was a Guardian doesn't necessarily mean they were going to marry the princess," he answered. "While Shino is Makoto's best friend, she hasn't seen him as a boyfriend. And if I remember right, there have been a few women Guardians in the history of the Solar System."

     "They'll be at this for a while," Debe spoke. He knew exactly what to do and withdrew a deck of cards from his pocket. "There's more than enough time to teach you this game I learned in the States." As he dealt the cards and explained the rules to the other two men and two girls while the rest continued to fish for every piece of information on Kariudo, down to the atomic level, they could from Minako.


     A good half-hour passed before the meeting finally began, then ended another full hour later. The group had discussed the possible connection between Rad and his Capsule Monsters with the recent youma. Rei had performed a fire reading as she had promised to do so, but could see nothing. Her explanation to that was that their subjects weren't anywhere on the planet. Despite the theories presented by everyone, they didn't leave much smarter than when they arrived.

     "Why did Debe-kun keep us there for so long?" Minako sighed to herself as she walked home, having forgotten that the grey-eyed Mercurian's time had been partially robbed by her. But as she walked, she recounted his final warning to be wary of suspicious people before they all left.

     "There's a distinct reason why Shino and I had our memories restored and powers awakened," he had said. "Something really big is about to happen and the incidents with my father, Rad, and those youma were only the beginning. All we know about our enemy is that his name is Amethyst and he is the true ruler of the Dark Kingdom. That's also assuming that Rad was telling the truth when he told us that. But as for anything else, we know nothing. Luna and Artemis are already out scouting for information, but I want all of us to keep our eyes open for anything suspicious."

     Minako had listened closely to his advice as he seemed to have taken the position of leadership for this battle. When she fought alone as Sailor V, she know how it felt to be alone with such a heavy burden. With only Artemis as her confidant before she began working with Katarina, she was isolated from everyone else. But meeting Usagi and the incident with Fiore and the Kisenian flower only a month before the Death Phantom's defeat and Guardian Mercury's revival had reminded her that she wasn't alone and that her friend would never abandon her.

     Minako's mindset was suddenly changed as she began to round a corner and was suddenly knocked aside by a fast-moving person.

     "Ow!" the blonde yipped as she landed hard on her rear. "Why don't you-" she didn't get to finish as she was interrupted by the person who'd run into her, which was unusual because she expected him to keep running. But who it was caused her to facevault and also to quickly cover her legs with her skirt.

     "Hey, sorry about that," Kariudo extended his hand to help her up, "I was trying to beat the light."

     Minako didn't say anything as she was lifted onto her feet and asked that "Are you okay?" questions. The incident after school returned to her mind and a stern look appeared on her face.

     "Don't touch me, pervert!" she snapped her hand out of his and began to walk away.

     "You're the Aino Minako that everyone at school's told me about," he stated without asking.

     The blonde stopped, "You've heard of me?"

     "Sure, the guys on the Volleyball team keep telling me about how good you are and the girls told me how you're always full of energy." Kariudo then continued without hesitating, "But they said nothing about how cute you are."

     C-cute? Minako thought as she felt a tiny red tinge appear on her face, maybe he is a nice guy despite the fact that he's a-

     "And you are a pretty nice girl," he was still talking, "despite the fact that you're an arrogant loud-mouthed girl."

     Even though he clamped his hands over his mouth to shut himself up, it was too late.


     SLAP!


     That jerk! That pervert! THAT PERVERTED JERK!!! The words repeated inside her mind again and again as she stormed down the sidewalk. How did he know exactly what she was thinking... twice! Was he able to read her mind? Smoke continued to pour out of her ears until a sports car pulled up onto the curb next to her. The man inside was someone she recognized.

     "Hey, Minako-chan," the man, who was really Topaz, waved from the driver's seat, "nice to see you again." The hearts in her eyes came before he could blink.

     "Hi!" Minako rushed to the side of the car. "You remembered my name!"

     "Sorry about the other day, I was in a hurry."

     "Oh that's all right. But you never told me your name."

     "Tsujimoto Junichirou," he quickly replied. "Did you still want that date?"

     "Sure, Jun-kun."

     Topaz smirked, "Get in."

     Minako, expecting an enjoyable date, immediately entered the car. Oh, it's such a sin to be so beau- she didn't get to finish as the second she sat in the passenger seat, a puff of sleeping gas blew from the vents of the car and into her face. Minako didn't even remember passing out.


     "That was almost too easy," Topaz commented as he withdrew his communicator and reported, "I've got the first one."

     "What about the other girl you had mentioned?" Garnet's voice asked from the other end.

     "She's a Shinto priestess, so sneaking up on her without her sensing my energy won't be nearly as easy."

     "I understand, one will be enough for now. I'm opening the Gate." With that, Garnet closed the channel.

     Chuckling to himself, Topaz floored the accelerator to quickly turn around and reach the forming Gate just across the intersection.


     "Ow," Kariudo rubbed the red hand mark that still stung on his cheek, "she didn't have to hit me that hard." As he stepped back towards the corner to wait for the crossing signal to give him the OK. However, a revving noise caught his attention just as the light turned blue. He quickly turned around in time to see and react to a sports car speeding along the sidewalk heading straight for him! Kariudo's instincts kicked in and he quickly leapt and rolled aside.

     "Jerk! Watch where you're-" he started to shout as he stood up, but he stopped as he saw an older man driving it and Minako was in the passenger seat with her head slumped to the side!

     "Minako-kun!" he shouted and dashed to follow the car. He didn't even give a second thought when he saw the vehicle enter a mysterious black hole that had appeared out of nowhere on the other side of the street. With an enormous leap, Kariudo dove into the portal just as it finished its closure. During the whole time he was enveloped in darkness, the young man had absolutely no idea as to what compelled him to run after that car, or rather the girl he barely knew. He could no longer think as the darkness completely overtook him and he lost consciousness.



     Later that night, Artemis was returning to the Aino household after a full afternoon of continual investigation. However, his and Luna's observations on the locations of the previous encounters with both the youma and Capsule Monsters had yielded nothing. There appeared to be no connection to the events at all other than the possibility of the name they had been given and how Amethyst was declared the true leader of the Dark Kingdom.

     When the white cat returned to his dwelling, he was greeting by the sound of a slightly hysteric Aino Junko, Minako's mother, speaking on the phone.

     "So you haven't seen Minako since then, Usagi-chan?"

     Artemis's keen hearing allowed him to hear the odango atama girl on the other end.

     "Sorry, I haven't seen Minako-chan since after school. Did something happen?"

     "She hasn't come home yet and she always calls if she's going to be this late!"

     As Artemis had lost track of time, a glance at the clock informed him that it was nearing 1:00 AM. No wonder Junko was worried. Because of Minako's strong sense of duty, unless she was being influenced by chasing a handsome man, she did try to not worry her parents much, despite the difficulty of being a Sailor Senshi and keeping that fact hidden from them. He didn't bother to listen to the rest of the conversation but chose to stealthily make his way up the stairs and into Minako's closet where he could contact Luna in privacy.

     Debe's prediction in something happening came true a lot sooner than anyone could've guessed, he thought.



     Across the district, Luna was busy tossing and turning. She had been startled awake by Usagi's mother when she'd banged on a pan with a wooden spoon to get her daughter to wake up when she received the emergency phone call from Minako's mother. The black cat wasn't awake enough to be able to listen to the conversation, but when Usagi came back into the room, she was given no choice.

     "Luna...!" she called in a loud whisper. "Luna, are you awake?"

     "Usagi-chan..." Luna yawned and kept her eyes somewhat closed, "what's wrong?"

     "I just talked to Aino-san, Minako-chan is missing!"

     "Missing?" the cat's eyes finished opening in a blink.

     "Yes, she didn't go home after our meeting at Rei-chan's."

     "Did you try using your communicator?"

     "Oh, right," Usagi reached over for her watch communicator and opened the channel to call Minako, only to have to cover her ears to block the sound of scratching static that came from the other end.

     "Kyaa! What is that?" Usagi yelped.

     "That can only mean one of two things," Luna concluded, "her communicator was destroyed or she's out of range. But the second isn't likely because their range can cover the whole world."

     "Like the fire reading," the human girl spoke softly, "Rei-chan couldn't see a thing..." Just as she closed the channel, another call came in.

     "Artemis!" Luna and Usagi exclaimed at the same time when they saw the white cat with his headset phone on the other end.

     "Where have you been?" the black feline questioned.

     "I just got home from looking for more information on the enemy," he answered. "But that's not important, Minako is missing."

     "We know."

     "Her mother's been calling all of her friends just to make sure she didn't stay with one of them tonight. But I think she might've been kidnapped by the enemy."

     "What are we doing to do?"

     "Start looking for clues. I'm heading for the Hikawa Shrine now."

     "I'll meet you there," as Luna began to turn to leap from the bed, she saw the other girl in the process of getting dressed. "Usagi-chan?"

     "I can't sleep knowing Minako-chan could be in trouble," she said firmly, pulling on a sweater and not taking time to put her hair into her trademark buns. Even though Luna knew that, because of this, she would fall asleep in school that day, she couldn't help but smile at Usagi.


     "Hey, baka Usagi, keep it do-" Shingo shouted as he threw open the door to his sister's room, only to find it empty. He failed to notice that the window was open and that the wind was blowing through the curtains.



     Minako had no idea where she was or how long she'd been asleep for, but the last thing she remembered was getting ready to go on a date with Junichirou before her mind quit. Her current surroundings were a white room on all sides except for a barred door on one end. That door and the fact that nothing else was in the room at all told her she was in a prison cell.

     "Hey!" she shouted as she pulled herself up from the floor and heard her echo repeat as it traveled down the hall. "What do you think you're doing! Let me out of here right now!" But her shouts didn't reach anyone, or anyone who cared.

     "Hmph," she turned back to the other wall, "I know how to deal with this." She quickly willed her pen from her dimensional pocket into her hand, "The Crescent Beam can easily get me out of here." She raised it into the air.


     "VENUS STAR POWER! MAKE-UP!!!"


     Only nothing happened...


     "What the..." Minako growled as she took a look.


     Her pen had a deep crack running along the side and the symbol of Venus was no longer present.


     "Not good," she muttered as she also checked her watch. Her efforts in trying to call anyone were also in vain as only static appeared on the other end. She had no other choice but to slump against the wall and sulk.

     If only I could transform, I could get out of here, she thought. It looks like I'm going to have to wait it out and plan a different strategy before whoever caught me comes back. She also couldn't help but giggle as she realized that Ami would have been proud of her for using her head.


     At some other point in the Realm, another person was just beginning to awaken after the unexpected drain on his energy due to travelling through the strange black hole, leaving Kariudo completely dry. As he shook his head to clear his vision, he found himself amongst large rows of crates marked in a strange language that he obviously didn't recognize.

     "How the hell did I get here?" he asked himself as he waited for his eyes to adjust further. A small investigation of the aisle he stood him brought him to the car that had nearly run him down. The distance between his landing point and where the car stood was definitely the space it had required to slow down and stop, leaving him out of sight from the driver's point of view in the darkness.

     Whoever took Minako-kun probably carried her out but luckily didn't see me. What a sicko! I'm not going to let him do anything to her! He didn't know who he was up against or how many there would be, but Kariudo wasn't leaving without the only girl he'd ever called cute and sincerely meant it.



     "Something happened here," Luna observed as she, Usagi, and Artemis reached an intersection hear the Hikawa shrine. There were barriers and police lines set up at one corner were a fresh set of tire tracks was prevalent. Sadly however, there were no officers present to ask about the incident.

     "This is where she disappeared," Artemis sniffed the air, "I'm sure of it."

     "But that doesn't tell us where Minako-chan is," Usagi complained. "How are we going to find her?"

     "We look the hard way," Luna informed her, "we get everyone to search the whole district, maybe all of Tokyo if we have to."

     "No way..." Usagi fell to her knees.



     "Hey you, wake up!"

     Minako slowly began to stir as she felt a small object hit her back. It hadn't been easy to pretend to fall asleep on the hard floor, but the hours of waiting had actually caused her to fall into a slumber. But now she had the advantage of surprise. She immediately stood up and proceeded to rush the person who'd called to her through the cell bars. She turned around, only to stop when she saw who had called her.

     "Jun-kun!" she exclaimed in shock. The man now wore a strange military style uniform but looked nothing like the uniforms that Beryl's generals had donned.

     "Annoying girl, my name is Topaz," he spoke coldly, "and I suppose I should congratulate you. Because of your attempt on me last week you've been chosen as one of our guinea pigs."

     "Guinea pig!" Minako asked, then turned to a sweet tone. "What would you want to do to such a lovely and helpless girl as myself?"

     "To you? You'll regret that statement if I answer it," Topaz stated bluntly. "As a Sailor Senshi I think you've had some combat training so I doubt you'd be able to consider yourself 'helpless.'"

     "Huh?" she pretended to be confused. "What's a Sailor Senshi?"

     "Don't play dumb with me, annoying girl. Your attempt to transform when you first awoke only added to the proof. Too bad for you I figured out how to destroy it before you could wake up after I finished searching you."

     The blonde girl again looked at her cracked pen, "You were searching me?" Minako covered her chest and stepped back while glaring at him and wondering at the same time how he'd found her pen as it wasn't on her body. "Pervert!"

     "Hmph, I'm not interested in your ugly body anyway. You're an ape compared to Garnet."

     As anyone who was acquainted with Minako would know, she did NOT take comments against her looks or age very well. Her mind began to plot a plan to pay him back as slowly and painfully as possible instead of figuring a way to escape. Had Topaz been looking closely, he would have seen the horns appear on the top of her head as the devilish plan began to unfold. But this was bad for Minako as her thoughts were too occupied for her to realize that the lieutenant was revealing his entire plan to her. He said that it didn't matter if he told her his plan or not as, once he finished with her, she would forget everything. The blonde was so out of it that she didn't feel the small dart shoot into her arm or the hardness of the floor as she collapsed.


     "Where am I now?" Kariudo asked himself as he entered another strange room filled with what looked to be a large Chemistry set. To say he was lost was an understatement as this strange place was enormous, though "enormous" was also too light of a word to use.

     As he approached and examined he bubbling green liquid, his eyes caught the light of a nearby monitor containing Minako's picture. Whatever textual information there was on the screen, he couldn't understand it at all as it was in the same language as the crates in the storage area. This hadn't been the first room of this unusual nature that he'd stumbled upon. One room contained an unusual kind of throne surrounded by a console that looked like something from a Sci-fi movie. Another room was filled with racks containing hundreds, maybe thousands of sealed test tubes that held a sickly brown liquid. The final unusual room contained a large holographic map of an area he'd never seen before. While he stored these places into his memory, his objective was to find Minako and find a way to get out of there.

     Kariudo was about to turn and leave when he heard the sounds of footsteps approaching the room. The young man wasn't dumb, he quickly dove behind the desk containing the lab and waited.

     "So the first injection is complete?" a female voice asked.

     "Yes," a male voice answered, "she's unconscious for now. Her body will soon crave more and more as she becomes addicted to the formula." Kariudo guessed that the voice belonged to the man who had abducted Minako. He continued, "But Garnet, I want to know something."

     "What is it?"

     "Before Rad's demise, he practically turned into a Capsule Monster simply by drinking the compound for one. Why not just inject that into that annoying blonde girl?"

     'Annoying blonde girl?' Kariudo thought. He's gotta be talking about Minako-kun.

     "Ingesting the compound only gives a person the power of a Capsule Monster, and temporarily. It doesn't affect his personal control at all. Not only that, it's very unstable. This formula works differently; the addictive nature of it slowly eats away at a person's ability for self-control. Also, the three injections allow the stability to remain high as it doesn't just give the human the power of the monster, it turns him into one that is much stronger than a normal one. If the experiment with the girl succeeds, the other guinea pig will be used to fuse with a youma when Lord Amethyst returns with his army. As she spoke, Kariudo could hear her working at the table.

     Another guinea pig? Are there two girls captured in here?

     "I understand now. When will she receive the next injection?"

     "In two hours, the third being an hour after that." She gave him something from the table.

     I've only got three hours, Kariudo thought again as he listened to them leave. Minako-kun, where are you? Another question came to his mind, And what time is it?



     Kariudo's question would have easily been answered had he been able to see the world at the surface of the planet. Back in Tokyo, school had just ended and everyone had split up to begin their search for Minako. It had been suggested that everyone search either alone or in groups of two to cover more ground in shorter time. Some had opted to go in groups while others went alone. While they had no idea as to where to look for clues related to the disappearance, they each all sought out their own ideas: Usagi and Mamoru searched the Crown arcade and fruit parlor along with other recreational areas that she was known to hang out at. Ami went solo and checked out Juuban hospital and the local police station and boxes in case someone had found her and turned her in. Shinozaki and Makoto worked together in searching date spots and parks. Rei's assignment was to check the local shrines and temples in case somebody had taken her there like she and Makoto had taken Debe to the Hikawa Shrine after his loss against Blade.

     While Debe had desired to go with Ami, he decided to split off and ask around at her school and other local schools in the district. He was able to find and speak with Megumi, but she told him that she wouldn't be of much help as the last time she'd seen Minako was after school the day before. But she was the first to mention her encounter with Kariudo and the fact that he hadn't been at school that day either.

     "Is Kariudo the one who she was angry at yesterday?" Debe asked.

     "She did get mad at something he said to her," Megumi answered, "but Kariudo-kun apologized right away, even if she didn't hear him. I don't know why she slapped him though, that kind of comment was actually something I'd expect Minako-chan to say."

     "Something you'd expect Minako to say? You're sounding like he was able to read her mind."

     "That's what it sounded like, Ohara-kun."

     Debe immediately knew what was going on as he pieced the puzzle together and silently whispered, "The Lancer..."

     "Huh?" Megumi blinked.

     "Never mind, my mind was elsewhere. Megumi-kun, thank you for your help." Debe quickly bowed and moved on, thinking, I don't know why, but I have the feeling that they're in the same place. Wherever that is. Despite the new theory he'd just formed, he couldn't bring it out into the open until he had more evidence. For now, he would continue his search while he contacted Artemis and asked him to find out all he could about Paito Kariudo.

     The young Mercurian's next location was that of a high school, which he didn't intend to stay at for too long as his new information partially ruled out the idea that she'd found an older man to "learn" about. However, his attention was caught by a small commotion on one side of the building. He decided to check the situation out, which led him to the school's track where either practice or a meet was taking place for the Track Team. This was one of Debe's weaknesses as he enjoyed watching a good track meet as it was his dream to join that team in high school and possibly compete in the Olympics.

     "Okay!" the man who was obviously the coach shouted, "We're going to run a time trial! If you want to try to break a personal record, do it now!"

     "Sensei," a dark-skinned but purple-haired girl called to him, "one of our timekeepers isn't here!"

     "Hmm," the coach looked around and found Debe. "Hey, you! Help us out for a moment!"

     "Sure," Debe hadn't even answered before the coach tossed a stopwatch to him. He asked as he approach the starting line, "Who will I be timing?"

     "Tenou," he pointed at the tallest girl he'd ever seen in his life. Her short blonde hair could have made her look like a man if she also wore the right clothes.

     "Tenou Haruka," she bluntly greeted.

     "Have a good race," Debe replied.

     Once the coach reminded the timekeepers how to properly track the run, the team positioned themselves at the starting line. The gun was fired and the race began. As Debe watched the runners move along the track, the purple-haired girl took an early lead, but he was amazed to see Haruka quickly pull and stay ahead for the remainder of the race. Her speed was unlike anything he'd ever seen. She was like the wind. No. She was the wind. Once the race was over, Debe could have sworn that he'd just seen the making of a new world record.

     "Tenou," the coach called, "how'd you do?"

     "Ask my timekeeper," she gestured to Debe as she grabbed a towel to wipe the sweat from her brow, not really seeming to care to want to know how she did. Debe immediately informed the coach of her time.

     "Great job, Tenou!" he cupped her shoulder. "You and Grey will win the National Championship for this school easily!"

     "The race is everything," Haruka simply responded almost in contradiction as she began to walk towards the locker room to shower and get changed.

     Debe simply wanted to thank the coach for the opportunity to help and be on his way, but something held him back. He wanted to talk to Haruka more, to find out what her motivation was. She didn't even look surprised when she exited the locker room, now dressed in a riding uniform, and saw him waiting.

     "Yo," she greeted again.

     "Tenou-san," Debe spoke, "I want to ask you something."

     "Hmph," she smirked, "come with me." Haruka lead the way and spoke with him as they made their way to her motorcycle. "Go ahead."

     "Your running skills are nothing short of impressive, Tenou-san-"

     "Haruka," she invited.

     "Sorry, Haruka-san. I hope to compete once I enter high school and I'd like to know how you do it."

     "If I knew then I would tell you. I take each race one step at a time, one meter at a time, becoming one with the wind. I can only tell you to run hard, run fast, and lose yourself in the race."

     "You do realize that one day we may run together or against each other," Debe gave his half-grin.

     "I'll look forward to it," as they reached her bike, she suddenly pulled out another helmet. "Need a ride anywhere?"

     "No thanks, I'm not really headed anywhere in particular."

     "Well, good luck and I'll see you again, maybe in the race." Haruka gave him a type of salute as she revved her bike and rode off.

     She reminds me of someone, Debe thought as the wind of her departure blew through his clothes and hair.



     "Hey, it's too cold in here!" Minako shouted in another of her calls to drive Topaz crazy. She'd woken up after sleeping for a half hour and had been calling him for various, almost trivial reasons every minute or so just to drive him insane as part of her fiendish plan. He'd filled her request for food and water as he had to keep her health up so the formula would have as strong an effect as possible. But she would always call him back just as he was about gone.

     Soon, he thought clenching his fists, soon the drug will take effect and she won't bother me anymore!

     "Hey!" Minako called again, "There's no bathroom in here!"

     "Use the corner!" Topaz shouted back as he appeared and immediately withdrew a small type of gun and fired a second dart into her arm.

     "Ow! That's no way to treat a lady!"

     "Be glad I haven't done anything more," Topaz immediately turned and walked away.

     Back in her cell, Minako laughed devilishly as the horns again appeared on her head. But she couldn't laugh for long as, suddenly, her insides felt like they'd been clamped shut by a vice and she fell to her knees for not the first time.

     "What's... what's happening to me?" she asked weakly as her strength fled her body. "I want... I want something..." As the cravings began to kick in, she suddenly stopped caring about everything else.


     "I should've followed him," Kariudo muttered under his breath as his wanderings continued. "Whatever that drug is, it'll turn Minako-kun into a monster if she gets those last two doses." Unfortunately for him, two hours had passed and Minako had received the second injection, with the third to come shortly.

     Kariudo was about to continue his trek towards possibly the final area of the huge place when one of the doors next to him opened and he saw the woman whose voice he'd heard earlier standing in the frame.

     "Who are youmph!" she didn't get to finish her sentence as Kariudo quickly clamped his hand over her mouth before she could be too loud.

     "Where is Minako-kun?" he demanded.

     The woman motioned with her eyes down the hall in the direction he'd already been heading.

     "Get back in there and don't come out for fifteen minutes," he ordered then shoved her back inside before taking off in a full sprint.


     "How did he get in here?" Garnet asked the air as she rushed over to a comm. panel inside of that room and opened a channel. She could have taken him but he had the advantage with the element of surprise.

     "Topaz here, what's going on?" Topaz greeted.

     "There's an intruder in the Realm looking for that blonde girl! He's heading for your position now!"

     "Do you want me to take care of him?"

     "No. Administer the drug to her right now and get her back to the surface so she can deal with him herself."

     "Right, fighting in here could damage our equipment."


     Minako was only a shell of herself in person. She was now laying on the floor only twitching occasionally. She wanted, needed something, but didn't know what it was. She was barely even able to lift her head when she heard someone approaching.

     "Time for your last dose, annoying girl," Topaz informed her as he raised the small gun that contained the drug.

     "Hold it!" another voice shouted and a different man, though much younger, suddenly tackled him, causing him to drop the gun.

     "Ka... Ka..." Minako couldn't even speak more than that.

     "Bastard, what'd you do to Minako-kun!" Kariudo shouted as he grabbed Topaz's shirt and pinned him down.

     "So you're the intruder Garnet warned me about," Topaz snickered, "for a rat I have to admit you're quick. How'd you get in here?"

     "The kappa who talks to me in my sleep forewarned me," Kariudo's sarcasm could have easily been tangible.

     "Idiot!" Topaz retorted as he used his foot to flip Kariudo over him and into the wall before quickly scrambling back over to the gun.

     As Kariudo quickly got back onto his feet, he noticed a thin pipe running along the wall. With an impressive display of strength, he tore a length of it that was the length of a good staff from its place and threw it like a javelin to knock the gun further out of reach.

     "You're not a half-bad fighter," Topaz legitimately complimented as he picked up the pipe and swung it, only to have it caught and his balance lost as Kariudo quickly followed through with a quick foot sweep.

     "You're dealing with the heir of my father's school of martial arts," he declared, revealing his lifelong study of fighting, and pointed the end of his weapon at Topaz's neck. "Give me the antidote, Minako-kun, and tell me how to get out of here."

     "Ha! I hate to tell you this, but there is no antidote. And if she isn't given the third dose, her addiction and craving will kill her."

     "You're bluffing!" Kariudo wasn't shaken, even though Topaz was telling the truth.

     "If you want to believe that," he quickly pushed Kariudo's weapon into his ribs, though the edge wasn't jagged enough to pierce the skin, it was strong enough the push him back far enough for Topaz to roll aside and grab the gun.

     "No!" Kariudo, expecting him to fire immediately, leapt between him and Minako.


     But his timing was off.


     "Again, you're an idiot," Topaz taunted as he had waited to fire until after the young man had landed back onto the ground on his side.


     Topaz didn't miss.


     "Garnet!" Topaz shouted into his communicator, "Open the doors and the Gate!"

     Kariudo was about to attack the lieutenant again when the door to Minako's cell opened at the same time another black hold appeared and consumed the blonde.

     "Minako-kun!" Kariudo shouted again as he, still holding his weapon, jumped in after her.


     Still in the Realm, Garnet responded to Topaz's request, "They'll be deposited in Juuban Park. Her transformation will be complete in less than two minutes. If all succeeds, I'll report to Lord Amethyst immediately."

     "Excellent," Topaz replied. "When you're able, send me to a place nearby to observe directly. But just to be safe, create the departing gate from the Capsule Monster storage room."

     As Garnet began entering the coordinates she, at the same time, began to prepare her report to Amethyst and prepared to take any notes on flaws in the formula.


     Kariudo had become adjusted to the strange method of travelling and didn't pass out this time. He was able to see that he and Minako, who was out cold ahead of him, seemed to be shooting through a vacuum tube surrounded by blackness, with the only light being the growing dot at the end of the shaft, being obviously the exit. As they traveled, Minako's skin was starting to become as gold as her hair as it and her clothes seemed to meld with her body. The only thing that wasn't assimilating with her was a strange pen that dropped aside and Kariudo was able to catch as he passed by it. If the sudden jolt he felt from grabbing that pen hadn't already nearly knocked him out, his hard landing on the ground would have.



     In Juuban Park, Makoto and Shinozaki had just met back together after having looked over half of the area each.

     "Any luck?" Mako asked as they reunited on a trail that ran through a small cluster of trees.

     "Nothing," Shinozaki shrugged, "Aino-kun isn't here either and-" something moving caught his attention, "what was that?"

     "Huh?" Makoto turned around and saw what she thought he'd seen. "It's just a few squirrels chasing each other, Shinozaki-kun-" As she turned around to face him again, he'd suddenly vanished!

     "Mako-chan, what's wrong?" his voice asked from the same place he'd just been standing!

     "Y-y-y-you're not there!" she stammered.

     "Huh? Mako-chan I didn't go anywhere at all."

     "Wait..." Makoto thought of something as she looked at the trees behind him, "come over here," then walked back over onto the open path. As soon as the young man was no longer against the background of the trees, he immediately became visible again.

     "I knew it!" Mako exclaimed.

     "What is it?" he asked.

     "I remember Debe-kun telling us about how you Guardians are able to use some of your powers all the time. Because you're from Jupiter, I think you can camouflage yourself against a forested background."

     "Hmm, I didn't know. Sorry for startling you, Mako-chan. But it does make sense."

     "I don't think you know how to control it," she observed.

     "I haven't had a lot of time to train since the other day."

     "Don't worry about it," Makoto patted his back, "Debe-kun will start working on you right after we find Minako-chan."

     "Thanks, Mako-chan," Shinozaki smiled.

     The tall brunette was about to speak more but she was cut off by a piercing cry of, "Kyaa! Monster!" from the direction which Shinozaki had gestured to only a moment before.

     "This things have got the worst timing!" Makoto growled as she pulled out her pen. "Are you ready?"

     The bow was already in Shinozaki's hands, "Let's do it!"

     Two teens entered the midst of the trees and only a few seconds passed before Sailor and Guardian Jupiter emerged.

     "What the hell is that thing?" Sailor Jupiter wondered aloud as they could see the creature that had sparked such a reaction from the nearby people. The monster was completely gold, looking to have somewhat of a lion's mane but looked almost entirely else like a human. It reminded her of the Cardian that had attacked Shinozaki nearly half a year ago now.

     "A youma?" Guardian Jupiter asked.

     "No," Sailor Jupiter replied, "youma are able to talk. This is a Capsule Monster!"

     "Capsule Monster?"

     "Damn! Why now?"

     "I'll distract it while you call everyone else," Guardian Jupiter was already running in to use his arrows to steer the monster away from the people.

     "Everyone!" Sailor Jupiter called into her watch, "The enemy's shown up again! This time at Juuban Park!"

     She didn't even wait for responses when bolts of lightning began crackling between her hands.


     "SPARKLING-"


     Guardian Jupiter was doing a good job of keeping its attention away from her as she readied her attack.


     "WIDE-"


     This thing won't know what hit it, she thought as she smirked.


     "PRESSURE!!!"


     The lightning ball left her hands and sailed to hit its target dead on.


     "WAIT!!!"


     Both Jupiters could only watch as a young man, wearing a boys' school uniform from Minako's school and holding a thin object, as he ran in from nowhere, leapt into the air, and intercepted the attack with his body!


     Kariudo's body could only watch as Minako's transformation complete itself. He was too drained from the sudden jolt from the pen to do anything. He could only watch as she lost all of her will and became a monster. He could only watch as she mindlessly tried to attack a small number of civilians. He could only watch as one of the Sailor Senshi and someone else showed up. But as the Senshi prepared an attack, he could no longer only watch as he summoned the strength he didn't have to stop the attack before it could kill Minako. With the last of his energy, he took the attack, knowing it could come close to killing him. The split second between the attack hitting him and it hurting him became years as Kariudo's eyes were overloaded when the bright light hit him.


     "It is time," an almost haunting voice declared.


     "What?" Kariudo was surprised he hadn't been destroyed, but looked around to see that he was still in front of the lightning ball, but at the same time he was seeing it happen from where he'd landed upon exiting that portal! He looked normal, he was still wearing his uniform, and he felt fine. The only difference was that he no longer held his makeshift weapon.

     "What's going on?" he was able to effortlessly stand up and walk up to himself. "Did time stop or something?"

     "Time doesn't exist here," the voice came again.

     "What're you talking about?"

     "It's simple, you are in the space between life and death. Your spirit remained when your body ran to save Minako."

     "So I'm dead?"

     "No, but unless you do exactly as I say, you will die the second you return to your body."

     "Wait a minute! Why should I trust you?"

     "Do you really believe that you have a choice in this matter?"

     Kariudo pondered for a moment, "Well, if it'll keep me from getting killed... I might as well."

     "Good, now listen carefully," as the voice spoke, the day suddenly became night and the stars began to appear. But one began to outshine them all.

     "Go to that star," the voice directed.

     "Go to it?" Kariudo's jaw nearly hit the ground. "How the hell do I do that?"

     "You can go anywhere in your spirit form if you simply will it."

     "Okay, if I just will it," he took a deep breath, then thought about travelling to that brightest star and was nothing less than shocked at his speed.

     "AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!" he shouted, despite the fact that he didn't feel any movement, as he completely left earth's atmosphere and headed towards not a large ball of gas, but earth's next-door neighbor; the planet Venus.

     As Kariudo's spirit broke through the clouds and into the heated, acidic surface of the planet, he became convinced of being outside his body as he not only didn't feel the heat of the burning of the acid and the crushing pressure of the atmosphere, but he also felt nothing as he slammed into the ground.

     "This isn't the way this place used to look," he said almost unknowingly as he got onto his feet and surveyed the area. His statement felt accurate to him despite all of what he'd learned about the planet in school. Then he realized what he'd said.

     "Wait a minute, I've never been here before. Nobody has!"

     "At least not for 1,000 years," the same female voice he'd heard on earth informed him.

     "Okay, I'm here! What the heck do I have to do now?"

     "Watch, and remember."

     "Huh?" Kariudo shielded his eyes as he was enveloped in a cosmic light.


     Flicker...


     The entire landscape glowed a stunning gold as the barren landscape of the planet transformed into a majestic palace surrounded by a grand city. Kariudo's point of view zoomed into one particular house that wasn't too far from the palace itself. There, he could get a closer view of the streets, which held the same aura of golden light as everything else. But inside the courtyard of the large house, he saw a little boy in training with a spear. The boy had dirty blonde hair and sky blue eyes and was working with his weapon remarkably well for someone his age. He had no trouble in wielding the weapon with the same skill as the much older man next to him, whose pattern he was following. When the routine was finished, the older man spoke.

     "Excellent job, Kariudo," he praised.

     Kariudo?

     "In all my years I've never seen anyone your age do so well with any weapon," the man continued. "This proves that you are my son."

     "Thanks, Dad," the young Kariudo grinned as he spun the spear over his head and thrust the blunt end into the ground as a type of victory pose.

     This is getting weird.

     "Lord Darius!" a messenger suddenly came running into the courtyard. "A visitor!"

     "Send him in!" Darius acknowledged.

     "But my Lord, it's the queen!"

     "Regardless of if it's the queen or no, we do not return until our training session is finished. Ask her to meet with me at the gate, I will speak with her there." He then turned to his son, "Kariudo, wait here."

     As Darius left, he should have realized that his son wasn't going to pass up an opportunity to see the Queen, so Kariudo followed silently behind his father and hid behind the wall of the estate as the Queen of Venus stepped from her carriage with a young girl following at her side. From his spying point, Kariudo suddenly didn't care about seeing the older monarch anymore as the younger girl's long blonde hair and red bow caught, and kept, his attention. He didn't know how long his father and Queen Venus were speaking, but before he knew it, he was being addressed.

     "Kariudo," Darius spoke sternly.

     "Y-yes?" he suddenly stood at attention.

     "You didn't have to hide, you could have come out and met the princess if you wanted to. If I'd known she was here as well I wouldn't have asked you to stay behind."

     "Huh?" the boy turned to see that the carriage was just rounding the corner.

     "Never mind now. Let's resume our training," Darius began to walk back to the other end of the yard.

     "Okay Dad," Kariudo followed willingly but still turned his head back to look. From that day on, he always tried to seize an opportunity to sneak any kind of glance at the princess whenever she would pass by.


     Flicker...


     Several years later...

     "Hey, Kariudo!" the young teenage boy's neighbor, Koji, called up to him from the street. "Are you watching out for the princess again?"

     "Leave me alone!" Kariudo shouted back at him from his standing point on the wall of his father's estate. He'd really been getting on his nerves.

     That's what I would have said. So that guy really is me...

     "You're up there every day to get a look at the princess! You're only wasting your time as she'll never notice you!"

     "At least with me being up here she's more likely to see me and not a ground-dwelling loser who she'd intentionally try to run down," his sarcasm was again almost tangible.

     Koji was getting irritated as he had a very short temper, "Just because your father is a high-ranking officer in the army doesn't mean you can bully me around!"

     "I'm not bullying," Kariudo stately bluntly, "I'm only stating the truth."

     "You jerk!" the other boy picked up a rock and chucked it at the one on the wall.

     Kariudo easily caught it nonchalantly and continued his sarcastic assault, "It might help if you open your eyes when you throw."

     "I'll get you!" Koji leapt onto the wall and launched an attack at him on the narrow ledge. The two of them had been trained how to fight and were thus able to keep their balance as Kariudo's blocking and dodging eventually took them into a large tree next to the wall. Their spat prevented Kariudo from noticing that the princess's carriage was passing by along the road next to them. Either by Fate or by Luck, the two boys' quarrel had brought them to the edge of a limb, where it could no longer support their weight. A loud CRACK caught their attention.

     "Huh?" they both asked in unison just as their platform broke.

     When the two of them fell, they both landed on their feet and only continued their fight in the middle of the street, not knowing they had an audience.

     "What's going on here?" a young female voice soon demanded. Kariudo took a split second to see who was getting involved.


     It was the princess!


     "You've got no busy here, girl!" Koji shouted, apparently not seeing who was there.

     "'Girl?!'" both the princess and Kariudo asked in irritation.

     "You take that back!" Kariudo immediately ordered and affirmed that order by going on the offensive and connecting a punch to the other's jaw, flooring him.

     "Okay, okay, you win! I'm sorry!" he didn't even look at him as he got up and simply walked away.

     "That guy never learns," Kariudo huffed as he watched Koji leave.

     "Umm... thank you for standing up for me," the princess was smiling when he turned back to her.

     As his cheeks took on a shade of red, Kariudo responded, "I couldn't let him insult your beauty like that, Princess." Was he dreaming? He didn't dare pinch himself to find out.

     The blonde girl, her ego fed, laughed and took Kariudo's arm, prompting no small nervous reaction from him.

     "I like you," she grinned, "come back to the palace with me. Mother will certainly want to meet anyone who would defend me so readily."

     Kariudo smirked at the irony, he would soon realize that he would need to thank that annoying neighbor of his.


     Flicker...


     "Ah, you're the son of Darius," Queen Venus realized as Kariudo introduced himself, "you have earned quite a reputation as a strong warrior from your father's training."

     "He has trained me from the day I could hold a weapon, Queen Venus," Kariudo answered confidently, still bowing.

     "And you seem to have an attraction to my daughter."

     Kariudo couldn't help but to look up as he stammered, "Um... I..."

     "Be honest."

     "Yes, my queen. From the day I first saw her, I've thought your daughter is the most beautiful girl I've ever seen."

     "Did you tell her that before she brought you here?"

     "Sort of."

     The queen mused, "No wonder she brought you back so easily."

     "My queen?"

     "Never mind that. You see, young Kariudo, my daughter is ready to become the next Sailor Venus, but she hasn't chosen a Guardian to fight to protect the planet when she takes on the mission to protect Princess Serenity."

     Kariudo felt a lump in his throat as he asked, "May I speak freely?"

     "Yes."

     "My queen, I thought that the princess would have several people offering to take on the training to become her Guardian."

     "That is the problem, young Kariudo. She has too many and, at the same time, she wants to choose them all because they compliment her on her beauty."

     Realization his Kariudo's mind, especially after his incident, "I understand."

     "But young Kariudo, I wish to know why you've never offered to take the training. You've always wanted to meet the princess since you first saw her and that is the easiest way."

     "Well, to be honest it would be a dream come true, but I've devoted my life and training to follow in my father's footsteps and inherit his school of fighting. I would gladly accept being Guardian Venus, but I may not be worthy."

     "I see," the queen pondered for a moment before asking, "What do you consider your specialty?"

     "I'm most proficient with spears, my queen."

     "Just as he told me..." Queen Venus whispered to herself, then spoke up again. "That is perfect, wait here for a few minutes please."

     The queen stood up, stepped out of the room, and returned a few minutes later with a light spear, with the craftsmanship and sheen of it exceeding even his own, which his father had commissioned the greatest weaponsmith on the planet to forge. It held the mysterious glow of purely refined gold.

     "Take it," she offered, "I'd like to see a demonstration of your skills."

     "Y-yes my queen," Kariudo intended to run through the hardest katas he knew, but the moment he took ahold of the weapon, a pillar of light immediately arose around him, then converged on his body. The light took on the shape of a full suit of heavy golden armor with a dark blue cape. Kariudo's confusion could have been read by anyone.

     "W-what just happened?" he asked, looking over himself.

     "I knew it," Queen Venus confirmed, "your father was correct. The Planet has decreed you worthy." What she said next shocked him beyond belief.


     "Guardian Venus."


     WHAT?!?!?!?!?!?!


     Flicker...


     Princess Venus, whose name was Minako, just like the Minako Kariudo had met at school, was just as surprised to find out she had a Guardian when she hadn't even chosen him. The queen explained to her in a straightforward manner that her fickle nature and waiting too long to choose had left the decision solely to the Planet instead of simply deeming her choice worthy. But Kariudo and Minako didn't have time to really get to know each other for very long, as only a few months passed from the time he took the oath as Guardian Venus, she became Sailor Venus, and the fateful trip to the Moon.


     Flicker...


     "It's nice to see that you have finally chosen a Guardian, Princess Venus," Queen Serenity smiled at the two of them.

     "Thank you," Minako returned the smile and hugged Kariudo's arm. "We haven't known each other for long, but we've been getting along very well."

     "That's the way it should be," Serenity continued. "Guardian Venus, I hope you enjoy your time here tonight."

     "I don't doubt it," he was about to bow, but a sudden CRASH against the palace nearly caused him to lose his balance.

     "What was that?" all three asked.


     Their answer came in the form of the cry, "We're under attack!"


     Flicker...


     "I can't hold on any longer," Guardian Venus strained to say a his Cloud Barrier defensive attack began to break under the force of the enormous blast that had taken everyone else out. He was just barely able to form the shield around himself and sadly, had no chance no form it around any of his allies. His hope to block the attack until it died failed as the pressure buildup against his shield destroyed it and killed him instantly.


     Flicker...


     Kariudo's spirit blinked as he suddenly found himself back on the surface of present-day Venus.

     "Do you remember now?" the haunting female voice asked.

     "No wonder I wanted to learn Martial Arts when I was a kid," he said to himself, "it's because I was a warrior in my previous life."

     "You are only partially correct. You were reborn, not reincarnated. Your personality and traits are exactly the same now as they were then."

     "So Minako-kun is that same Minako..."

     "Yes, and you're the same Kariudo who was taken to the queen that day."

     "I'm Guardian Venus..." he looked at his hands, then back up. "What about the other Sailor Senshi and Guardians? I know that the Jupiters are there."

     "There is no longer any time for this. Return to Earth and do what you must in order to avoid death."

     "Wait!" he shouted. "What about my spear? I can't transform without it!"

     "Observe your physical body when you return."

     "I'd better get a full explanation behind all this after it's over!" Kariudo declared as he willed himself to return to Juuban Park.


     Back on Earth's surface. Kariudo saw that everything in the scene hadn't changed at all, with one small exception: the pipe he had been using as his weapon was now Venus's Spear!

     "When did that happen?" he asked aloud.

     "When you touched Sailor Venus's pen," the voice again explained, "the spear, which was inside of your body, reacted to it and emerged. Now go!"

     As the young man leapt back into himself, he silently promised, "Minako-kun I swear I'll find a way to turn you back into the beautiful girl you are!"


     From her vantage point in front of the Door of Time, Sailor Pluto sighed after finishing with Kariudo.

     "He'll never believe that the actual time he spent between leaving and returning to earth was less than a nanosecond in the realm of the living. But he barely even had that much time."


     Sailor Jupiter was, simply put, freaked out when she saw her attack about to kill an innocent civilian! She could only watch in horror as the Sparkling Wide Pressure came into contact with the young man. But she could also only watch as a sudden flash of golden light blocked and dissipated her attack! Once the brilliance subsided, she stared at the young man, who now wore heavy armor shining with golden light and wielded an equally golden spear.

     "Just as the light of the sun cannot penetrate the clouds that cover my planet, nothing can break through my Cloud Barrier," he explained confidentially.

     "Who are you?" Sailor Jupiter demanded.

     "Wait," Guardian Jupiter stepped forward, then blinked, "Kariudo?"

     "You know each other?" the girl asked.

     "Yes."

     "Did you go to the same school?"

     "No, he's Guardian Venus."

     "Huh?" Sailor Jupiter looked back and forth between the two.

     "He's right," the other guy responded. "I'm Guardian Venus, the Lancer. It's been a long time."

     Sailor Jupiter hadn't noticed this until that moment, but since the light around Guardian Venus shone, the Capsule Monster had been completely stunned by it.

     "Why did you just protect that monster?" she asked.

     "Because that monster is Minako-kun!" Guardian Venus answered, "The enemy turned her into it!"

     "What?" both Jupiters asked.

     "I don't have time to explain," he turned back to it, "is there any way to heal her?"

     "Sailor Moon can," Sailor Jupiter assured him.

     "But she's not here yet," her Guardian commented.


     "Somebody call me?"


     The other three looked over to see an odangoed shadow standing atop a streetlight in the waning daylight. Nobody had to guess twice as to who it was, especially once she began her speech.

     "Attacking and scaring innocent people for a purpose that is in no way good is evil! Even if the Head of Park Services should forgive you, I will not! I am the pretty sailor suited soldier of love and justice, Sailor Moon!" With the usual hand motion, she finished, "In the name of the Moon, I'll punish you!"

     "Does she say something stupid like that in every battle?" Guardian Venus asked, sweatdropping.

     "I wouldn't know, this is the first time I've fought with her," Guardian Jupiter replied.

     Sailor Jupiter ignored them. "Sailor Moon! Don't attack this monster, it's really Minako-chan!"

     "Minako-chan?" Sailor Moon's surprise was enough to cause her to lose her balance and fall. Luckily, only to be caught by the one she'd been searching with.

     "Also here to fight side-by-side with the Sailor Senshi, Tuxedo Kamen!" he declared as he set her back on her feet, "Frightening people and destroying this beautiful landscape only demean the park's reputation. It is a place of peace and beauty, I won't let you harm it any more!"

     "This is a real waste of time to give speeches to only one monster that's stunned," Guardian Venus mused.

     "Remember Prince Endymion of earth?" Guardian Jupiter asked. "That's him."

     "Sheesh, he looked better with his armor."

     "Though I have to ask who you are," Tuxedo Kamen motioned to the new guy.

     "Guardian Venus," he replied, "I saw Minako-kun being turned into that thing," he gestured back to the paralyzed golden lioness.

     "Sailor Moon, you know what to do," he turned to her as he said that, but then back to Guardian Venus, "I'll believe you and trust you if this monster truly is Minako-chan."

     "Right!" Sailor Moon raised her brooch.


     "MOON CRYSTAL POWER!!!"


     The white light of the Ginzuishou washed over the prone body of the monster to bathe and purify it. Within seconds, it emitted a cry of "Gorgeous!" and Minako, back in her human form and school uniform, lay on the ground.

     "Minako-chan!" Sailor Moon was now definitely convinced on what Guardian Venus had said and immediately rushed over to her friend's side as she began to moan and push herself up.

     "Sailor Moon..." she spoke softly, "what happened? How did I get here? I don't remember anything."

     "You were turned into a monster," Tuxedo Kamen explained.

     "But Minako-chan," Sailor Jupiter informed her, "you have your Guardian to thank for telling us that that monster was you." She shuddered at the thought of what would have happened had he not been there to stop her attack.

     "My Guardian?" Minako's energy was renewed instantly as she leapt onto her feet, asking, "Where? Where?"

     "He's right over here," Guardian Jupiter gestured.

     Minako's good mood shattered when she recognized the man in the golden armor, "Kariudo?!"

     Guardian Venus laughed and scratched the back of his head as he sweatdropped, "Yeah, I was pretty surprised too." He then realized something, "Oh yeah, here's your pen," he withdrew it and offered it to her.

     "Thanks," she admittedly accepted and noticed, "hey! How did it get fixed?"

     "It was broken?" Sailor Moon asked.

     "Yeah, and I couldn't transform."

     "Maybe Kariudo's transformation repaired it," Guardian Jupiter guessed.

     "That may be true," Tuxedo Kamen said thoughtfully, "but who did this to you?"

     "There was a man who Usagi-chan, Rei-chan, and I met last week. I ran into him again yesterday-"

     "Aww," Sailor Jupiter interrupted, "why didn't you ever tell me about him?"

     "But it turns out he's with the enemy," the blonde finished.

     Everyone else in the group blinked as they asked, "What was his name?"


     "I'll tell you myself!"


     Everyone turned to see that Topaz had arrived on the scene.

     "It's you!" Minako and Guardian Venus shouted.

     "Hmph, I never would have guessed that the Sailor Senshi and Guardians had the ability to heal," he muttered. "As for who I am, my name is Topaz, one of Lord Amethyst's right-hand men."

     "You're pretty stupid to attack us knowing you're outnumbered 5-to-1!" Sailor Jupiter shouted.

     Topaz only laughed, "Would I have achieved my rank if I did that? Unlike Rad I don't rely on brute force." He reached into his uniform and withdrew eight vials between all of his fingers. "My strategy deals with the use of numbers. Now the odds are 9-to-5!" He then threw all one of them to surround the group. Upon breaking, various Capsule Monsters began to emerge and take form.

     "We're surrounded!" Sailor Moon cried.

     "Stay back-to-back," Guardian Venus advised.

     "Can the five of you take on two each?" Topaz asked.

     "A piece of cake!" Sailor Jupiter retorted confidently.

     "Especially since you forgot about me!" Minako, who was in the center of the group and didn't want to be left out, raised her pen. "Like they say, 'It takes one to make a free-for-all!'"

     "Umm, don't you mean, 'All for one and one for all?'" Guardian Jupiter corrected.

     "It sounds the same to me," Minako shrugged.


     "VENUS STAR POWER! MAKE-UP!!!"


     After her transformation was complete, Sailor Venus noticed that her Guardian had fallen to the ground and blood was pouring from his nose. "What happened to him?"

     "He watched you transform," Sailor Moon said softly, with a large sweatdrop on her head and her face in a "shush-shush" position.

     Sailor Venus simply pulled him back up by his cape as she shouted to Topaz, "You might like to trick beautiful girls, but I'm going to fight back! Now it's 9-to-6, that's only one-and-a-fourth for each of us!"

     "One-and-a-half!" Guardian Venus corrected.

     "Everyone, let's work together!" Tuxedo Kamen shouted and they prepared to hold their position as the monsters closed in.


     Guardian Jupiter and Tuxedo Kamen were the first to take one of the Capsule Monsters down with a well-shot arrow and rose to the eyes of a type of bird creature. Sailor Venus took down a strange rat with a scorpion tail with her Crescent Beam. Sailor Jupiter and Guardian Venus teamed up as she took down a large crab that had snuck up behind him while he dispatched a cat creature with his spear. Sailor Moon's Moon Princess Halation eliminated a one with the body of a squid but had human legs, much like the one the Senshi had fought in their very first encounter with Capsule Monsters at Blade's mansion. That left one more, a strange beetle with dozens of legs. It seemed to be much faster than the others and was able to dodge their attacks easily. Luckily, it was also too busy dodging to counter their attacks. But everyone had forgotten about the last two, two more birds, each with only one eye. Their mission wasn't to attack, but to retrieve. Their aim carried them diving down at Sailors Jupiter and Venus, but the one aiming at the brunette wasn't about to know what hit it.


     "BURNING MANDALA!!!"


     Three of Sailor Mars's rings burned through the first bird, melting it down into the sickly brown sludge that Capsule Monsters were made of and what they were reduced to upon being destroyed. Unfortunately for Sailor Jupiter, the remains continued to speed towards her and landed right on her!

     "Blech!" she spat, "Not again!"

     "Sorry I'm late," Sailor Mars finished running to join the group.

     "Come anytime," Guardian Venus smirked.

     "Huh? Who are you?"

     "He's my Guardian," Sailor Venus beamed.

     "Ah, Venus you're so lucky," Mars sighed.

     "Shouldn't we worry about the enemy," Guardian Jupiter asked, holding an arrow nocked at the beetle.

     The second bird, meanwhile, had avoided the other half of the Senshi of fire's attack and was renewing it's assault towards the red-bowed blonde, this time undetected.


     "AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!" Sailor Venus shouted as the Monster slammed into her back and came through the other end.


     "Venus!" Sailor Moon ran to her comrade, who'd fallen to her knees and was holding her stomach. "Venus, hang in there!"

     "Let me see!" Guardian Venus rushed to her other side to try and examine the wound on her back. Strangely enough there was no hole, and no blood. "What the-?"

     "Did you forget that something important was in her body also?" Topaz asked as he returned everyone's attention to him. Just as their eyes fell on him, they saw the bird dropping a golden trumpet into the lieutenant's hand. He didn't seem to care as his final bird was shot down by another one of Tuxedo Kamen's roses.

     "Bastard! That belongs to my home planet!" Guardian Venus shouted as he tried to rush towards Topaz, but was intercepted by the beetle, which also distracted it.

     "This thing's just in the way," Sailor Mars looked down at the insect and, as it scuttled by her before it reached the Lancer, she simply stepped on it, HARD.

     "Ouch!" Sailor Moon almost felt sorry for it as there is obviously no greater pain then being stepped on by a woman in high heels.

     Surprisingly enough, Mars's heel only wounded it, but slowed it down considerably and also cracked its shell open to expose a weak point.

     "This one's mine!" Guardian Venus raised his spear and pointed the tip at its flesh.


     "BRIGHTEST STAR!!!"


     A small sphere of energy gathered at the tip of his weapon, then fired, looking exactly like the Crescent Beam, but only much more powerful. It was more than enough to finish the hard-shelled Capsule Monster.

     "Now," Tuxedo Kamen spoke as the group advanced on Topaz, "what are your reasons for being here?"

     "Did I say I was beaten?" Topaz responded harshly and withdrew one more vial. "Answer me this: Which is more powerful, a group of people that can take on a single powerful foe or a single powerful person who can take on a group of foes?"

     "Um," Sailor Moon guessed, raising her finger to her chin, "the first one?"

     "Find your answer in this!" Topaz tossed the vial against the ground between them. The monster that emerged was three times the size of all the others that consisted of the first group and it could have easily been considered a Venus flytrap with several large vines growing from its body below its enormous mouth. It shot out several vines that dug into the ground as it spewed a foul colored breath at the entire group. Everybody tried to avoid it, but the noxious fumes caught up and overpowered them, causing them to begin choking and coughing. The vines that were under the ground shot back up and wrapped around everyone in the group to trap them.

     "Sorry," Topaz shrugged and shook his head, "but your answer was incorrect." He turned to his monster. "Kill all of them except the black-haired girl. We need her to lure the last one out."


     Sailor Mars, along with everyone else could only begin to wonder why he wanted her when the vines began to drain their energy. She couldn't position her hands to use her Fire Soul so things didn't look good, until several small blue blurs flashed by the monster and cut them loose. Not only that, Topaz suddenly yelped and dropped Venus's Trumpet as the back of his hand was also cut.


     "Hiding behind your monsters again?" Guardian Mercury declared as he leapt down and retrieved the instrument and pointed his blade at the officer. "Drop your cowardice and fight me directly!"

     "Ha!" Topaz laughed as he held the wound on his hand. "You ambushed me when I'm unarmed and you call me the coward?" The taunt didn't faze Guardian Mercury at all, but it distracted him long enough for the plant to shoot a burst of acid at him. Still, he wasn't worried.


     "SHABON SPRAY FREEZING!!!"


     Sailor Mercury's freezing bubbles intercepted the acid, dissipating it, and continued to freeze the monsterís mouth shut, giving Guardian Mercury time to fall back to the group, still holding the royal treasure of Venus.

     "Are they okay?" he asked.

     "Their energy's been drained but they'll be fine," the blue-haired girl assured him.

     "Even with only the two of you, you still can't win," Topaz remarked.

     "Don't declare victory while your army is busy raising the flag of surrender at the same time," Guardian Mercury raised his sword into the air. "Mercury, aim for my sword."

     Sailor Mercury's face retained its battle expression as she raised her hands.


     "SHINE AQUA ILLUSION!!!"


     The Guardian's weapon absorbed the entirety of the stream and began to glow a much more fierce shade of blue. The young man followed up with his attack by slashing downward until he hit the ground.


     "AQUA CUT!!!"


     The Shine Aqua illusion, combined with Parting the Water, washed over the plant, encasing it in and turning it completely into ice. Guardian Mercury, with his ability to manipulate water only had one word for it now.


     "Shatter."


     The plant immediately fell apart into pieces as if it had literally been put into an enormous ice crusher.

     "Damn you!" Topaz suddenly drew a sword and charged in at Guardian Mercury. But once again, him being left-handed distracted Topaz as, while they dueled for a few moments, he was soon able to fake him out and succeeded in stabbing him through the shoulder, running the blade through entirely.

     "[Crap, I didn't want to go that far in!]" Guardian Mercury lamented in English and immediately willed the blade of his sword to vanish.

     "Augh!" Topaz grabbed his wound and fell back a few steps as blood began to soak his uniform.

     "Tell us what you're doing here," Guardian Mercury demanded as he began to tear off part of his cape to make a bandage.

     "Ha, you think you've won," Topaz taunted as a Gate appeared behind him and he fell backwards into it. "But you're only helping us. As soon as the last Guardian awakens, our plan will be fully put into motion!"

     Guardian Mercury would have tried to follow him had Topaz's statement not added to the enormous confusion that already filled his mind about their objectives.

     "He got away," Sailor Mercury commented as she ran up to him.

     "What... what do they want?" he asked nobody as he clenched his fists, then shouted into the air, switching languages again, "[Damn you Amethyst! If you can hear me! I'm not going to let you do what you want by attacking innocent people!]"

     "Damn, man," Guardian Venus complained as he began to get onto his feet, "you really know how to wake the half-dead."

     Guardian Mercury only sweatdropped.



     "You're wounded!" Garnet exclaimed the moment Topaz emerged from the Gate, holding his shoulder. The brown-haired woman immediately supported his walking, "You need to get into a healing pod right away."

     "The formula worked," Topaz reported calmly as he leaned on her, "but giving three doses may take too long. We might have to make it powerful enough to change humans into Capsule Monsters after only one dose."

     "I'll report it to Amethyst for you," Garnet offered, but her voice fell on closed ears.

     Where have I seen that style of sword fighting before? the blonde man asked in his mind over and over.



     "It's good to have you with us again, Kariudo," Debe acknowledged as he cupped his comrade's shoulder. "You couldn't have been awakened at a better time."

     "It definitely explained how I suddenly said strange things around Minako-kun," Kariudo laughed, "that must've been what she was thinking about me."

     "Three of us are here," Shinozaki commented, "there's only one left."

     "He'll show up when he's ready to receive his memories," Mamoru concluded, "let's just hope that he won't be too late."

     Somewhere else in the city, another young man sneezed.


     A few meters away, the girls were also talking.

     "Ami-chan," Usagi smiled, "it's a good thing you were late this time."

     "Not necessarily," the blue-haired one shook her head, "if was had arrived sooner then maybe none of you would have had your energy drained."

     "That's right," Makoto realized, "you two got here at the same time. Were you out on a date?"

     Ami's blush came before the word "date" had been fully spoken, "N-no. We were looking for Minako-chan and were at the other end of the district. We were working separately when we got the call from Mako-chan and happened to meet up not far from the entrance of the park."

     "Well, don't let Usagi's bad habit of always being late rub off on you," Rei teased.

     Usagi was about to shout, "Rei-chan is mean!" and attack her, but was interrupted by a VERY flat sounding BLAT sound that came from nearby, causing everyone to cover their ears.

     "I guess I need more practice," Minako laughed and sweatdropped as she lowered Venus's Trumpet.



     "If you can improve on the formula then do so," Amethyst said to the holographic image of Garnet. "What about the progress of converting the Realm into a habitable place for youma and the fusion formula?"

     "Both are ready for testing," the scientist answered, "I simply need some youma."

     "That presents a problem," Amethyst mused, "unless there's a way to connect the Realm and Dark Kingdom without having to travel to earth's surface first."

     "I'll begin working on it right away."

     "No, keep the transformation drug at top priority and tell Topaz to let his wound heal before he begins and kind of special training."

     "I understand and will begin immediately," Garnet bowed as her image immediately fazed out.

     "Ryoko!" Amethyst called.

     "Yes, sir!" the youma general immediately stood behind him.

     "Is everything ready?"

     "Yes, my Lord."

     "Excellent, thank you. Inform everyone that we move out at dawn tomorrow."

     "Right away," Ryoko returned in the direction from which she'd come.

     "My exile is over," Amethyst said to himself as, now alone, he withdrew a slip of paper similar to a photograph that contained a picture of an exquisitely beautiful woman in a flowing white dress and having matching crystalline blue eyes and long hair. A jewel encrusted circlet adorned her head.


     "Soon... I'll return home soon..." Nobody would have been able to see as a tear landed in the middle of the picture.



     "Um... Mina?" Artemis began to ask again for the fourth time.

     "Stop complaining and keep taking the pictures when I tell you," Minako shot him down for also the fourth time.

     The white cat sighed and again clicked the shutter. He didn't get it; she had hated Kariudo when they first met and had even slapped him when he made that comment about wanting to see her in a swimsuit. But now that she'd learned he was Guardian Venus, she suddenly had a change of attitude towards him. This was overly emphasized at this moment by the fact that she was forcing him to take pictures of her in her purple and white striped suit, claiming to be for her portfolio when she became a teen idol. But Artemis knew better.

     "Why are you doing this?" he was able to ask quickly.

     "Kariudo must have undergone great hardships to beat everyone else who wanted to be my Guardian," star-filled hearts began to appear in her eyes. "Especially with my unrivaled beauty attracting so many candidates back then. I can only begin to repay him by letting him appreciate it. Oh, it's such a sin to be so beautiful."

     As she began to laugh with an annoyance that directly rivaled Esmeraude's, Artemis had to cover his ears and wait it out as the lights from neighboring houses clicked on, the phone began to ring, and before much longer, the police knocked on the front door of the Aino household.



End of Sailor Moon G 4



Author's Notes:

     Ah yes, 4 down, 6 to go.

     Amethyst and his followers live in the Realm Fortress, or simply the Realm, deep within earth's mantle.

     At last, you know the reason why Minako was sent to Juuban at the beginning of the series. But everything's back to normal now.

     Minako's Volleyball talent and Asai are all talked about in one episode of S.

     The fake name Topaz used was just pulled out at random.

     In Japan, the traffic lights are red, yellow, and blue.

     My theory as to how the Senshi keep their transformation pens hidden is they keep them in the anime "self-subspace" and can will it into their hands at any time. That's also how Guardians Jupiter and Venus store their weapons.

     If you've seen the original Japanese SM, any person turned into a youma cries, "Refresh!" when healed and a phage, "Beautiful!" The "Gorgeous!" is for people turned into Capsule Monsters.

     Think of Topaz's last CM as something similar to a Malboro from the Final Fantasy series and there it is.

     If you haven't noticed yet, when Debe swears, it's always in English.

     We learn a LOT more about Amethyst and his plans in Part 5, which is coming along nicely.


Part 5 has the Guardians' greatest challenge!

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