While the other six girls sat mesmerized by the amphitheater screen displaying the underwater aquatic life forms, Usagi slipped out of her seat, tripped over a few people and made her way out of the theater with an excuse for the restroom.
Hehe, she thought, They won't miss me. She wandered through the crowed halls lined with all kinds of fish, sharks, and sea live until she finally reached a door with a sign that read 'Corridor to College.' She slipped through it with a giggle.
After a few minutes of walking around the campus aimlessly, Usagi noticed a cute couple walking down on of the pebble paths. She quickly went to investigate and soon realized it was Cadin.
Oh! So Cadin is making friends! That's great! She snuck to another bush for a better look. They sure got close fast, she thought as she had visions of Cadin's wedding and Sri as a cute little flower girl. The two finally sat down on a bench an as the man reached into his case to retrieve a newspaper, Usagi suddenly recognized him!
"Mamo-chan?!" She popped up from the bush she was hiding in.
"You there! With the meatball head!" A security officer stepped in front of her blocking her view. "This is private school property, students only. Where's your ID?"
Usagi was too busy trying to look around this large burly officer to heed his demands. She ducked his outstretched arms and tried to weave around him, intent on a closer look.
"All right young lady, that's it! Out you go!" The security officer was faster than his size might imply. He caught Usagi by her collar and started dragging her back towards the aquarium.
Mamoru didn't look up from his paper but asked, "What is all that commotion Mose-san?"
Cadin shielded her eyes from the sun, trying to see more clearly. "It looks like a trespasser," she said. "I believe that is your girlfriend."
Mamoru looked up to see long blonde pigtails trailing behind the security officer. He sighed. "We better go help her," he said.
"Excuse me," Mamoru said as they approached, "I'm really sorry to have left my guest unattended officer, she's with me."
At the sound of his voice Usagi jumped free from the security guard's grasp and flung herself into her lover's arms, squealing his name and feeling like a maiden saved. The security guard gave Mamoru a strict reminder about the Guest Policy, then went on his way grumbling under his breath. In all the excitement, Usagi had forgotten her original frustration with the sight of her Mamoru with another girl. Presently, she got straight to the point.
"So what were you two doing just now anyway?" She said with a scolding look to Mamoru as they walked back to the benches.
"Mose-san asked me to give her a tour of the campus and show her where her classes are before she starts tomorrow," Mamoru explained. Usagi nodded quickly, having known there would be a perfectly reasonable explanation. She was also satisfied they were still using formalities.
"You've been helpful," Cadin added, "it's fortunate for me that you are familiar with the school."
"How are your sisters doing at their new schools?" Usagi asked.
"Sri is completely absorbed in her new surroundings," she said with a hint of what sounded like frustration to Usagi. "However, given all the changes we've had, it might be for the best, at least for now." At the mention of their 'changes,' Cadin seemed a little distant in thought, and maybe even a little cold. Usagi decided to change the subject.
"Did Zoe mention that she's already met Rei?" Usagi probed.
"Now that you mention it," Cadin said, "Rei seems like an interesting person. What kind of things does she like?"
The question threw Usagi off for a moment but after a brief review, she was able to offer a little insight into the priestess including her love of fugu, her interest in martial arts, and her secret singing ambitions. Cadin nodded at each piece of information as if she were making mental note of each detail. She seemed pleased that Rei was single, which seemed a bit more personal of a question then Usagi might have expected from the somber girl.
Some things about these sisters just seemed to get stranger and stranger.
The next morning, Usagi and Makoto shoved through the crowd as they tried to make their way to the recent practice test scores posted in the hall. A large crowd had already gathered so Usagi hopped up on Makoto's back to see over everyone.
"Oh wow!" she yelled, "Mako-chan, you are not second to last anymore!"
Makoto got so excited she almost dropped Usagi, "Where am I?!"
"Third to last!" Usagi replied enthusiastically. Makoto slouched with a sigh.
"Well, what about you?" she asked.
Usagi scanned the rest of the list, "No way! I'M second to last!!" She slid off Makoto's back and they congratulated each other on their impressive move up the ranks.
"We've improved!" Makoto said.
"Every little bit counts! It's a miracle!" Usagi replied. People began starring at them and moving away slowly.
Suddenly, they both stopped.
Makoto uttered the thought they both had, "Then who is last?" She lifted Usagi up again.
Tendai came up behind them, "Hi guys! So how'd I do?"
Usagi looked down at Makoto, then at Tendai. There were just no words to say. Danika Tendai was last in the class and Usagi couldn't help but wonder how badly she must have done.
"Cheer up!" Usagi tried, "we've been there, it gets better!"
"Obviously," Tendai said gloomily.
"Maybe she should join our study group," Makoto said. Just then Tendai seemed to tense. "What is it?" Makoto asked, "are you okay? Really, don't let it get to you, it's just a practice."
"I'll be right back," Tendai said, as she swept down the hallway quickly.
"Do you think she's ill?" Usagi asked. Makoto shrugged.
Tendai slipped around a corner and caught her breath; there was some sudden power she had sensed in the hallway, it was unmistakable. Of course, she couldn't ignore this kind of a warning since it could be the girl for which they were searching. She peered around the corner to see Makoto and Usagi walking in the opposite direction. Where they had been standing, a tall red head stood checking the scoreboards; a powerful aura still lingered around her. Tendai recognized her as one of the girls she'd be in the homeroom: Kimura Misako. Tendai straighten her shoulders and focused, then walked around the corner intent on a conversation with her target.
Chibiusa and Sri were sitting on the green sloping hill in front of the Shinto shrine playing with Luna-P. Sri caught the purple ballish toy and turned it around to face her, "This is so cute, where'd you get it?"
She tossed it back to Chibiusa.
"Ami gave it to me," she said, refraining from added 'in the future.'
"Does it do anything else?" Sri asked, as she caught the toy again.
"Yeah, sometimes it makes noises," Chibiusa said, "but I think it's broken."
"Bummer," Sri said. "I don't have any cute toys like this, just my stupid doll."
"I thought that doll was pretty cute," Chibiusa said with encouragement, "it kind of looks like you!"
"Yeah," Sri said, "that's was Zoe said when she gave it to me."
With that, Cadin came walking up the steps, her deep, long blue hair floating behind her. It had only been about an hour since the girls had gotten home from school.
"Sri, it's time to go home now," Her voice was neither forceful nor sharp, but it still came across as a command. She reached the girls and stood with her back to the sun. Sri had to shade her eyes in order to see her.
"Aw, why do you always want me to come home when I'm having fun!" She threw Luna-P back to Chibiusa and stood up.
Cadin stared for a moment then said, "You know why you have to come home." Sri folder her arms in front of her chest and frowned. Cadin's voice remained steady and quiet, but she had a air of authority as she added, "It is your responsibility as the fourth."
"Maybe I shouldn't be the fourth!" Sri replied, stomping her foot. But Cadin was unmoved. "Fine!" Sri said then turned to Chibiusa, "I'll come right back over to your house after I take care of this."
Chibiusa agreed and said good-bye, though she felt a little out of place in the argument. Sri walked silently beside her sister as they followed after Chibiusa a few moments behind.
Cadin started after Chibiusa was out of hearing range: "Which of our secrets have you told that girl?"
Sri was astonished, "None! What kind of person do you think I am? I'm not stupid."
Cadin didn't respond as they walked up the steps and into the front door. Sri stomped up the stairs and into the living room where Tendai and Zoe were waiting around an upside-down box with tea and some cocoa for Sri. She took her place on the far end of their makeshift table and sipped the cocoa, pleased to find it had cooled enough so she could actually drink it.
"So what do we have?" Zoe asked, "Anything?"
"It's so hard to tell who she my be," Tendai complained, "there are so many girls that may be the one we're looking for, and we only have my one lead."
"Yeah," Shi agreed, "how will we know?"
Cadin placed her tea cup on its plate and wiped the bit of sugar off the rim, "Obviously this girl will have the grace and talent of my father. She's most likely a poised and sophisticated type with many optimal traits, one of course being modesty." By relation, Cadin's speech implied, these were traits she certainly held. Sri started to reply that that wasn't necessarily true, but Tendai shoved a cookie in her younger sister's mouth.
"As a matter of fact," she started, "the girl in my class that I mentioned earlier could fit what we are looking for. I definitely sensed something from Misako, plus she is an amazing artist and dancer. She told me that that her dance team won the national championships the last three years in a row."
"She doesn't sound modest," Cadin said with some disdain. "Is it worth our time?"
"I wanted to check her out more after that incident at school today, so I have plans tonight to meet her at Reyonni Hill." Tendai said.
Zoe looked at her sister with a raised eyebrow, "Ten-chan? A date? With another girl?" Sri nearly spit cocoa all over her lap and Cadin almost dropped her cup.
"Not like that!" Tendai defended herself while blushing, "I offered to help her stage photos of the sunset so she can paint it! I'm not into girls, unlike some people." Tendai's face was still flush with frustration as she threw one of the pillows at Zoe who caught it and threw it back.
"Anyway," Cadin said as she caught the pillow in midair over the half empty cups, "if you think it's possible this is the girl we are looking for then we will follow you on this 'date'."
They all stood up and headed for the door.
"It's not a date," Tendai mumbled.
Misako sat on the grassy knoll looking off at the horizon while she waited. She began making rectangle shapes with her hands and looking through them to find some good shots. She glanced down at her watch and noticed that it was getting late and thought the sun would be touching the horizon soon.
"I wonder if she'll make it on time," Misako wondered aloud.
A rustle in the bush behind her broke the quiet of the solitude and she jumped. "Tendai, is that you?" She walked over to the bush slowly and moved a branch away to see what had made the sound.
Suddenly someone sprang up and yelled, "Vine Enchantment!" Misako screamed and stumbled backwards as the bush in front of her seemed to come alive and wrap around her wrists and ankles, dragging her to the ground.
With a few quick twists of her body she was able to free herself from the tangled vines and she quickly backed away from the brush as it retreated to its original form. "What the heck?" she asked aloud.
"Just stop resisting and this will hurt a lot less," a feisty voice said from behind. Misako whirled around to see woman in a wild red, yellow and orange outfit standing offensively with a ball of what looked like flaming ribbons twirling around her open hand. With a thrust forward, the woman shouted, "Fire Opal Burning Ribbon!" and Misako just barely had time to react. One of the fiery ribbons caught hold of her wrist pulling her back as she tried to escape. To her shock and relief, the heat was just very warm, and it felt as though it would not burn her.
"Don't let it fool you," a calmer voice said, "Sailor Bellona's ribbons can get a lot hotter." It was Sailor Cybele that spoke, coming forward from the bush that had moved. She was wearing an outfit of green and she used her powers once more to produce vines that wrapped around Misako's free wrist and waist.
"What do you want from me?" Misako asked in a panicked voice. "Aren't you one of those sailor senshi?"
"What?" Sailor Bellona asked, "How could she possibly know that?"
Misako looked from face to face of the two senshi, confused. "The Sailor Senshi, the ones that protect people from danger. I've seen it on the news...Sailor Moon..." She trailed off as she convinced herself that these people were certainly not there to help her.
"Enough chatting," a third voice said as a fair skinned woman wearing shades of blue approached from behind a tree leading a younger child by the hand. The small senshi had lavender eyes and violet hair and she was dressed in a outfit of purple. Like the others around her, she wore a silver tiara with a jewel that matched her outfit. "Help me!" Misako cried out through her tears, as Bellona's ribbons forced her to her knees.
"Sailor Amphitrite, do I have to?" the young girl said, looking up to the woman that guided her.
"Go on Sailor Castallia," Sailor Amphitrite said with calm force. "I'm sorry," The little girl said as she shut her eyes, placing her hands over Misako's chest, "Spirit Opal Scroll Retrieve!" Misako screamed as a brilliant light formed above her chest, she struggled with the vines but eventually fell motionless as the light lifted above her. As it dimmed, Misako's body flickered and a scroll lay hovering above her, sealed with a golden band. The small girl grabbed it and ran towards the bushes. The other senshi released their attacks and followed her.
An older man came running up the hill panting as he reached the tree near the summit. He had heard the scream and had run up to find Misako laying on the ground, pale as the moon.
"Miss?" he called, "Can you hear me?" He checked for a pulse and found there was one but it was faint. He fumbled around through his pockets and pulled out his cell phone. Quickly, he dialed for emergency help.
Usagi, Rei, Minako, and Ami sat in Makoto's living room after school that day. Rei's grandfather was having Yuuchirou do a massive cleaning that day, so the girls had moved their study hall to Makoto's friendly, and food filled apartment. Luna and Artemis were comfortably lounging on the mats in the air conditioned room.
Makoto of course was busily preparing a delicacy in the kitchen. With all these guests, she couldn't resist fixing up something.
Ami and Rei sat by the table. Rei was frantically trying to understand the math equation Ami had just mapped out for her. They were going over it for the fifth time.
Minako and Usagi were busily engrossed in the soap opera on the television.
"Can you two please shut that silly show off!" Rei yelled, "How am I supposed to understand this with you two and the television making so much noise!"
"But Rei-chan! Hirko's wife just found out that he's sleeping with her sister!" Usagi complained.
"That show is going to rot your brain," Ami commented.
"Too late for that," Luna said drowsily. As Minako reached to clicked the television off, a breaking news story flashed on the screen.
"Top story tonight, a local young lady, Kimura Misako was found this afternoon in a coma at the top of Reyonni Hill near the west end of town. Experts say they have found no physical cause for her condition and are looking into the possibilities of it being and unknown virus." The anchor continued reporting the incident as a smiling picture of Misako was shown. Usagi jumped up.
"I know her! She's in my class!" Luna and Artemis stood up and walked over to the rest of the group.
"I don't like the looks of this," Artemis said, "no explanation? Could be serious business." Luna nodded in agreement.
"Let's hope it's an isolated incident," Rei said with a chill.
"You know, come to think of it, Tendai was acting a little weird today, wasn't she Usagi?" Makoto asked.
Usagi nodded relying, "I hope she's okay. We should check with her tomorrow and make sure she's not feeling sick."
"If this is a new enemy, she could be another target," Luna said, "we should all be on alert."
The girls nodded.
A small figure walked up the creaky staircase and pushed the heavy attic door open. Guided by the light from the candle she carried, she walked to the curtain at the back end of the long narrow attic room and pushed it aside revealing a second smaller room. She walked inside and let the curtain fall shut behind her. The ceiling was slanted and low, no more that four feet at the door and less that two at the far end. One by one she used her candle to light the fifteen others that were placed in holders around a low table. She then knelt down in front of it and reached into her pocket.
As she pulled the scroll from her coat, the rest of the room was illuminated by the unearthly glow it emitted. She gently lifted the seal and it unrolled revealing what appeared to be a blank interior, however she knew that this object was not all it appeared to be on its surface. The paper, if you could call it that, was practically weightless in her hand; she touched it sparingly, as one would handle a delicate flower petal.
After she gently rested the scroll on the table, she reached below and drew out a wide, shallow bowl and placed it on the table. From her other coat pocket she withdrew a small bag full of crushed sage leaves and sprinkled a few in the bowl. From under the table, she removed a few bottles of silvery liquid which she placed over one of the candles. As the liquid heated up it began to glow with a golden light. Beside the candle holder was a small container of water, which she now poured into the bowl, mixing with the golden fluid. Once the mixture was complete, she gently placed the open scroll into the mixture and peered into the water.
Moments later, her shoulders fell into a slouch and she lifted the scroll from the water and carefully replaced the seal. She blew out the candles and sighed disappointedly as she left the attic.
Usagi and the other girls were pleased when they heard that Misako had fully recovered from her coma, but they were extremely worried because there still had been no known cause for it. Luna had decided to call a meeting a few days later and the five girls and two cats now sat chatting on the temple stairs.
"Now, there is a possibility that we may be dealing with something not friendly," Luna said matter-of-factly, "so it's important to be on your guard." "Right," Artemis agreed, "we aren't too worried yet since it's only happened once, but it's always better safe than sorry."
"We spoke to Tendai," Usagi said, "and she brushed off my concern and told me it was nothing to worry about. She didn't seem to want to talk about it though." The girls all agreed that something certainly felt unusual about the incident. Suddenly Chibiusa came running up out of nowhere gasping to catch her breath, "Sorry... GASP... I'm... GASP...late!" She flopped herself on the steps.
"Chibiusa! You are beyond late!" Usagi said, clutching her fists.
"Oh Usagi! You shouldn't talk!" Chibiusa replied. They stuck their tongues out at each other.
Rei sighed, "Knock it off you two, geese it's like looking at a mirror image."
"What kept you?" Makoto asked.
"Oh, well, I was going to be on time, but I saw an advertisement in the market window for a carnival, so I went inside to get information." Chibiusa held up the flyer.
"Wow! And a fair!" Usagi jumped up. "Maybe Mamo-chan can take me! We can go on the Ferris wheel together!" She pressed her forefingers together as she smooched the air in front of her.
"When is it?" Makoto asked.
"Minako read the sheet, "It says tomorrow, Saturday, and Sunday in Shinozaki Park." She passed the paper to Ami.
"And if we go before four, we can get in for half off," Ami did some quick calculations, "that's only three thousand yen for all six of us."
"We can go right after school! Would you like to take Sri, Chibiusa?" Usagi was thinking that if Chibiusa had a friend there, she could have Mamoru all to herself.
"Oh that's the other thing! Sri and her sisters are already going tomorrow," She smiled, pleased that she had seen the advertisement. She had really been late anyway, but an excuse like this she knew was bound to take Usagi's attention.
"Great, tomorrow sounds good to me," Usagi said, "and while we're there we can keep an eye out for anything strange."
"And I can keep an eye out for cute guys," Minako said absent-mindedly. Everyone looked at her and the crimson color flushed into her cheeks. "Well, why not?"
Continued in Chapter Four