She placed the book she had been skimming through back on the shelf and slumped into a corner with a sigh. Really, she didn't mind having to do all the nitty-gritty work, but it would be nice if she had a little help to sort through the three-hundred plus reference she had found to 'sprit scrolls' or 'Ra system' in the city library. Not to mention someone with a few spare inches to reach the books on the highest shelves.
As her head rested against the hard bindings of the dusty books behind her, her eyes fell on the corner of a thick volume poking off the top of the bookcase across the isle. Odd, she thought, it must be out of place. With new hope, she pulled herself up and dragged her stool under the book. She climbed up on it, balancing precariously on the wobbly wooden contraption, as she reached a hand upward to the book. It was just out of her reach but she could read it's binding: Astral Travel and Dimensional Planes.
Blazing colors raced across the open roads in the late afternoon air. Michiru's arms instinctively wrapped more tightly around the waist of her companion as they sped across the outskirts of the city on Haruka's blue Kawasaki motorcycle. They were headed for the music shop just south of the Juuban district and traffic was light. For that reason, paired with Haruka's insatiable urge to speed, they arrived faster than one would expect; Haruka cut the engine and Michiru hopped off, removing her helmet and hooking it to the back of the seat.
"It doesn't impress me when you do that," she said, checking her watch.
Haruka raised her visor and her eyebrows, "Liar. See you in an hour." The engine gunned and she was gone as fast as they'd arrived.
Michiru walked calmly into the shop, her spirits lifted by the citrus smell of the polished wooden instruments. She walked casually to the violins and picked up the newest model of the reed brand she adored.
"Miss Kaiou Michiru? That is you, isn't it?!" The anxious female voice had the hallmark sound of attempting reservation while containing overwhelming joy and admiration. Michiru was keen to the tone and turned to see a young girl with curly blonde hair that could barely contain herself as she held her clasped hands quivering at her chest. Michiru wouldn't have been surprised if they girl had danced and bounced outright, but was grateful she did not. "I have all of your recordings!" she was saying, "Even the one you did with Mintz Shlomo, even though it was an import and terribly expensive! Oh but I don't care, because you are so talented and inspirational to me! You know when I was five and a half..." It went on, and on, and on. Michiru smiled and nodded at each line of praise. She was learning to be more patient with fans, she offered and granted and autograph; still, it persisted. Now that Michiru had drawn attention, other young women and men in the store had begun forming a small group around her.
She couldn't contain it for much longer. She sighed.
"Thank you all very much," she said most sincerely and graciously, with no hint of annoyance at all. "If you please, I must have a few moments alone - you have all filled me with a sense of hope and creativity, so I must reflect upon this and see what comes of it." The group was more than happy to disburse; imagine if they had inspired the mind of Kaiou Michiru!
Michiru ducked behind a rack of sheet music and rubbed her hand across her forehead; fame was something that never went away.
"You must be pretty popular," a quiet voice said without even the hint of actually being impressed. Michiru turned to see a blue-haired, pale faced girl standing beside her, reading a book of theory. She did not raise her eyes from the text.
"In some circles," Michiru said, trying to sound equally as casual. "You don't know who I am?" Her pride had taken a small jab, she couldn't resist the bait.
"Oh, I'm sure I should," the girl replied with a small hint of friendly kindness, "but I am not from... the area." She looked up and smiled, though Michiru noticed, the smile did not seem to reach her liquid blue eyes. "My name is Cadin," she said, bowing, "Completely unknown to all."
"Kaiou Michiru," was the reply, "I play the violin." Something of an understatement... she added in her mind. They spoke as new acquaintances, exchanged ideas on modern music, and of other topics of interest. Michiru was pleased to talk to someone who was not so much interested in her fame, but more so in herself and her thoughts on matters of composition and style; Cadin was pleased to talk to someone about something other than sprit scrolls or 'the mission.' They enjoyed each other's company, and as time passed they began to let down their respective guards. They genuinely felt a strong connection, though neither of them could attribute from where such a connection flowed.
Michiru's mind was filled with visions of water as she spoke to this pleasant - albeit, slightly strange - girl. She couldn't help but feel as though they were both a strong part of something, some vast ocean. Was it the music? Or was there something more?
Zoe placed the receiver on the cradle and grinned. It was too funny to her that Mamoru's girlfriend should answer the phone. She thought about the repercussions. Serves him right for interrupting her plans. Her conscious neglected to nag her on the matter and there were more important things to think of right now.
"Sri, could I see you?" she called down the hall and she sat herself on the mat on the floor. In a few moments, a mass of violet hair wandered out of the bedroom and sat in front of her. "I know it's not what you would choose to do," Zoe started, trying to choose her words carefully.
"You don't have to explain it or anything," Shi said without looking up, "I understand."
Zoe still felt a desire to soothe the matter. After all, she was asking the child to sacrifice the only true friend she had ever found outside the four of them. Instead all she said was, "You will call her tonight then, at ten o'clock. You'll have to sound very concerned." Shi nodded and asked to be excused. Zoe granted her leave and sighed heavily. Soon this will be over, she thought. Then we can go home. However, she wasn't really sure if home was where she wanted to be.
Usagi's parents had taken Shingo out to see a new super hero movie and have dinner at his favorite pizza place; Ami had called everyone to discuss a matter of severe importance so Usagi was pretty upset about missing a delicious, greasy meal on top of having a broken heart. It didn't help her mood that Ami was also the last to arrive.
"I'm sorry, I was trying to drag some last minute info together before I..." she stopped noticing Usagi's tear streaked face and Minako's arms around her. "What now?" Ami's tone took a sharp tone of accusation which was very unlike her, and very unbecoming. Usagi swallowed hard under her stare, fresh tears welling in her big, sad eyes.
"Oh have a little heart Ami," Minako whispered as if she was a memorial service, "Mamoru's seems to have strayed..."
That's it. I've had it.
Ami dropped the book she was carrying on the floor and the whole house trembled under its massive weight. Her face grew red with frustration as she tried to control herself. "Do you know what I did today?" she asked, trying to hold back her own tears. "I sat on the floor in the back room of a dust infested library, going through book after book, page after page, word after word, looking for more about these, these, people!
I spent hours in there, went through 285 books, got eight paper cuts on three fingers, and twisted my ankle to get THIS book that finally holds some answers! And you," she pointed an accusing finger at Usagi, "you go off and get in a fight with your destined lover and expect everyone to just drop everything to mend your broken heart?" Ami too a few deep gasps of air and shook her head as if she could just will all of those words right back into her big mouth. Five faces stared blankly up at her.
Falling to the floor, she pulled the book to her chest, clutching it as if it were possibly a time capsule that could take her back to one minute ago, return her sanity, or else otherwise edit-undo that little outburst. Makoto's eyes shifted to meet Rei's in silence; neither of them really knew what to do.
"Look," Usagi started carefully, wiping her now drying tears, "I'm sorry, Ami. I mean you're right, mostly." Ami's knuckles turned white against the book she grasped and she did not look up. "We are thankful you work so hard to help us, and I'm sorry we don't always seem grateful." Usagi tried a smile and Ami looked up, still red with embarrassment, but meeting that smile with her own meek one.
"I think maybe we're all really tired and stressed out," Chibiusa said with reason they weren't expected. "Maybe we just need something to relax a bit and take the edge off. Like cookies?" She was hoping to brush the scene away by distracting Usagi with snacks and helping Ami refocus. Chibiusa hopped up to run to the kitchen to get the basket of goodies Makoto had brought for everyone.
"Anyway," Ami said, trying also to shrug off the spectacle she'd created, "I did find something in here." She turned the book around, Astral Travel: A Theory in Dimensions
"What's it about?" Minako asked, then hastily added: "In a nutshell."
"Well, basically, the author explains the ability that some people have to travel on astral planes, levels of spiritual existence other than the physical world we are in. It discusses the ability to travel into other dimensions via these planes." She waited to see if she'd lost anyone.
"So, like when we have a dream?" Makoto asked.
"Not quite," Rei chimed in, knowing a little about astral travel. "In astral travel, you basically leave your actual skin and bones body, and your spiritual body is free from the restrictions of this physical world. You can go anywhere without restriction."
"That's right," Ami said, "and the author goes further than that. He discusses another level of travel in which one would be able to leave this dimension and go to another parallel dimension. Only he theorizes there would be problems when returning to the origin after your travel." Ami opened the book to the page she had marked and turned the page around to show them the illustration. It was a sketch by the author of a woman's figure, a light glowing at the center of her chest, a long ribbon with unreadable marking flowing from the glow.
"So this is what those Opal Senshi have been after?" Minako asked.
"Well, it's at least a start," Ami said, "though some of the things he talks about get slightly confusing, even to me."
"Why would they want to find some kind of voodoo, dimensional scroll thingy here?" Usagi asked.
"Well," Ami theorized, "it seems as though this scroll 'thingy' detects what dimension your physical body is supposed to be in. They seem to be looking for a scroll that doesn't belong here, perhaps a scroll that belongs in their dimension. Or something."
"Why would someone from their dimension be here?" Makoto asked. "If this is all just theory, who could even do something like that?" No one noticed the house phone had rung. "That's the trouble," Ami shook her head, "I'm not sure. The only other clue I found was something about the passing of dimensional markings from parent to child, so a child would have the same markings on their scroll as their parents." Ami suddenly wondered what would happen if a child had parents from two separate dimensions. "Hey guys!" Chibiusa called as she walked in, "Sri just called, and she sounded kind of upset, can I go over? I know it's really late, but she was really upset when I was over the other day and I think it might be important."
Usagi looked at the others, they nodded, "Sure, Chibiusa, but be safe." Chibiusa smiled and ran out the door.
"Okay, so they need a scroll..." Rei started.
"To find someone from their dimension...?" Minako added uncertainly.
"They are looking to find their relatives, perhaps," Ami muttered. Everyone looked at her, waiting for her to continue. Ami snapped into the realization all at once, "I think understand!" she said. "They are looking for a scroll that had the markings of their dimension because they have come here to find someone that belongs there because they need it for something that's clearly worth risking lives!" She flipped through the pages of the book and stopped, placing her finger down on a line to read aloud. "It is my belief that the scrolls of the spirit could serve as a revival for the deceased because time is not linear and all times and dimensions exist simultaneously. Such as the scroll calls the soul to the body, the scroll can also call the soul from the plane of the dead, or from another time. It is possible then, that the scroll of the child, who holds the same markings of the parent, can be used to call back the sprit of the parent. However the consequences of taking out one's scroll and reading it can be deadly for the child..." She did not finish the paragraph.
"So their looking for their mom, or something?" Rei asked.
"Or a child? Though I don't know why a child of their dimension would be here..." Usagi wondered. They all contemplated the question. "Well, what are we going to do, just sit here until they attack someone else?" Makoto asked. No one replied. "I can't," she said, "I have to go take a walk or something. This is all a bit beyond me, anyway." She wandered outside. The others sat in silence, the snacks on the table untouched.
Chibiusa and Shi sat on a marble bench across from the fountain at the center of the park. Chibiusa felt a little uneasy about being in the park alone so late at night, but Shi had insisted she would be able to talk to her out here. They had been sitting in silence for a long time before Shi finally managed to talk.
"It's okay that I keep secrets from you, right Chibiusa?" she kicked he feet back and forth slowly along the cement. "I think you are my best friend ever and I know friends are supposed to tell each other everything, but sometimes you have to keep a secret." She looked at Chibiusa for her approval.
Warm pink eyes smiled back, "Of course Sri! It's perfectly okay for friends to have secrets from each other. Sometimes they have to keep secrets from each other to protect each other." The answer seemed to make Shi uneasy, her eyes shifted to the surrounding shrubbery; her sisters were there, she could feel them watching. She shifted her weight and looked around nervously. "What's really bothering you," Chibiusa asked, "if you want to talk, I'm here for you."
Shi saw the oufit of greens step out from the shadows across the clearing before Chibiusa did. Her other two accomplices appeared around the fountain, eagerly focused on the pink haired little girl on the bench. Chibiusa stood up and took a defensive stance in front of Shi. "Not you guys again," she spat, "can't you have the decency to give us some privacy!"
"I hardly think I didn't already know anything you two were talking about," Sailor Bellona's fiery eyes glared at Shi who had failed to take Chibiusa to the agreed upon place in the gardens.
"Shi," Chibiusa said without turning to her, "run away, right now. Run as fast as you can." Oh man, there's no way I can take these three by myself... she groaned in he mind.
"Come now, Shi," Sailor Cybele said as soothingly as she could manage, "we know you were trying to delay us, but the time has come so let's get going."
"You stay away from her!" Chibiusa said wondering how she would transform and fight with Shi there. I might just have to give up my secret, she thought as she clutched her hand tightly around her compact in her pocket. She was more than surprised when Shi got up and stood protectively in front of her.
"I'm not doing it anymore!" Shi shouted at the top of her angry little lungs, "I won't let you hurt her! And I won't hurt her, either!" She was angry, confused, and frustrated beyond all repair; she was not sure what it was the caused her to jump to the defense, but she swore to herself they would have to go through her first if they wanted to get to Chibiusa.
"Have you gone completely nuts?" Sailor Bellona walked right up to her and picked her right up off the ground by her school uniform collar.
"Ow! You're terrible! Let me go, right now!" Shi cried, clawing at her elder's arms and hands. Chibiusa found herself stuck still in shock, but she was snapped out of it as some strong hands grabbed her by the shoulders and pulled her back.
She felt a wave of panic wash over her for an instant before she heard a familiar voice in her ear say, "Stay quiet, little rabbit." She knew that smooth sound, neither masculine nor feminine. She let herself be pulled into the shadows and knelt down beside Sailor Uranus. A faint glint of light from a tree branch above indicated the presence of her partner, Sailor Neptune. "All right," Chibiusa thought, "back up."
"What the heck, Bellona?" Sailor Cybele said, completely losing her usual cool. They'd seen something rush by in the shadows, and it seemed as if Chibiusa had simply vanished.
"Oh, you want to start with me now, do you?" Bellona said, dropping a sobbing Sri and walking towards Cybele with a fist in her palm.
"Seriously, enough! Both of you! This isn't a game!" Sailor Amphitrite said, trying to take command. "Sri, you never even intended to go through with this, did you?"
Sri was still on the ground, crying into her fists.
"You're such a WASTE of a sailor soldier," Bellona said, turning back to Sri. She towered over her and raised a fist as a ball of fire sparked up around it.
"Leave her alone!" Sailor Chibi Moon appeared on the bench she'd previously been sitting on. She called out to Shi, but Sailor Bellona had already dragged her back behind some hedges and down a path. "Let her go, she's just a little kid!"
"Calm her down," Sailor Amphitrite called back to Bellona, "and I don't mean with force! We'll need her ready. And as for you, a sailor soldier, too? That explains some things..."
"I get it now!" Sailor Cybele said, "I mean, it totally makes sense. All these sailor soldiers, they have the right light, don't they?"
"That's right!" Chibi Moon said, "And just you wait until they get here! They won't take it from you, not anymore! And neither will I!" She braced herself for battle, "Pink Sugar Heart Attack!" A ripple of vibrating pink hearts forged its route towards Sailors Amphitrite and Cybele.
"Oceanic Wall!" came Amphitrite's reply as her defensive attack grew up from the fountain between them, stopping Chibi Moon's attack in mid stream. "I hope you have more than that!" she sneered.
"Oh, I do," Chibi Moon sneered.
The attack came from the depth of the darkness and lit the whole courtyard in an errie yellow hue. Sailor Amphitrite slipped smoothly away from the core of the attack and felt it push her slightly farther away than she'd intended. Sailor Cybele leapt to the top of the fountain out of the attack's wake. She flipped over Chibi Moon and landed gracefully behind her, clutching the smaller girl's wrists behind her back. "We didn't expect to have to fight a senshi," she said, "never mind one with back up. Good thing you've still got you training wheels on!" She felt a sharp pain as Chibi Moon dug the heel of her boot into her left foot. "You rotten little runt!" she cried, tossing her to the ground.
Sailor Bellona leapt out from the sidelines and engaged in hand to hand with Uranus. Sailor Cybele fell down hard on Chibi Moon, pinning her to the ground. Chibi Moon turned her head and spat out the chunk of grime she'd just taken in the fall and saw Sri running towards them. She could also see the flashes of blue and green from Neptune and Amphitrite dueling by the fountain. Uranus continued to exchange blows with Bellona. As Shi approached, she felt Sailor Cybele shift her weight and heard her say, "Vine Enchantment!" The thing but strong viens wrapped so tightly around her she could barely breathe in. She saw them tangle up around her friend's ankles and lift her effortlessly off the ground. Shi... she tried to call out, but the darkness was growing and she slipped into unconsciousness as the battle around her continued.
Continued in Chapter Eight (Coming Someday™)!