Return of Astera
A Sailor Moon Fanfiction
All manga illustrations obtained from The Oracle
Story & Original Characters © 2000 Sarah Ruth Hughes
Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon © 1992 Naoko Takeuchi/Kodansha, TOEI Animation.
Notes (will open in a new window)
Chapter I: Introductions and Revelations
The long tendrils of clouds turned a hazy pink as the sun kissed the horizon. At the same time, a small tired hand ran across a furrowed brow. Ami Mizuno had just finished preparing herself for the marine biology mid-term exam. Now, she was contemplating going for a walk in the gardens to let her overworked mind settle before she ate supper. It was still early - only five o'clock - but she had gotten accustomed to eating earlier because rigorous study sessions she had been keeping recently. Feeling as though she reserved this break, Ami decided it was still light enough to go out. As she was picking up her jacket, the telephone rang.
She lifted the receiver with one hand while the other came through the jacket sleeve, "Hello?" It was Usagi Tsukino.
"Ami!" Usagi’s brilliantly excited voice pierced through the phone. Ami smiled as she pulled the phone away from her head and turned the volume down. She caught the end of the next explosion as she returned the phone to her ear: "So we are all going out for ice cream," Usagi continued. "Would you like to join us?"
"That sounds great,” Ami replied honestly. “I was just going out for a walk anyway. Only, I still have some homework to do..." She guiltily looked over at the scattered and untouched physics notes spread in a wide array on her bed.
"Oh, Ami!" Usagi cried, "It's Saturday! You can study tomorrow! Plus, you know you'll ace anything!"
"Well, I suppose," Ami agreed, "but not to late, all right?"
“Deal!” Usagi agreed. She added that Ami should bring some extra money in case they decided to go somewhere else after. Ami grabbed a few dollars off her dresser and scrawled a quick note for her mom to let her know the plans for the evening in case she arrived in Ami’s absence. Placing her keys in her pocket, she headed out to greet her friends.
It was chilly outside; Ami wrapped her collar up around her neck so that it met the end of her hair and covered her neck. She figured it would only get colder as the sun set. “I wonder if mom will make it home before I do?” she thought as her mind wandered with her steps down the sidewalk. Her mother, a doctor, had been very busy lately with all the work at the hospital with all the new patients. There was some new strand of flu going around and people were falling ill all over town. The media was having a field day with it. Ami recalled her mother's apathetic words after watching a late night news segment titled ‘Epidemic Sweeps Tokyo.’
"It’s not an epidemic," she had sighed, "this happens every winter." But it still worried Ami; she hated being sick. Even though her mother was a doctor, she had always felt that way: cautious around those that were ill and fearful of disease. To challenge that fear, she'd set her heart on becoming a doctor in order to help others overcome those challenges. Her mind drifted through those private thoughts as she walked toward the parlor.
When she got to Frosties everyone was already there: the bubbly blonde Minako Aino, the tall and tough Makoto Kino, the mysterious and beautiful Rei Hino, and of course, the ever impatient – very hungry – Usagi. All of them plus the two cats, Artemis and Luna, huddled up in one of the corner tables looking over the menus.
"Hey Ami-chan, took you long enough," Makoto said playfully as she scooted closer to Minako to make room on the bench.
"Yeah, we were waiting for you to order and Usagi was going crazy with choco-holic anticipation," Rei teased. "She just can't wait to shove more food down her throat!"
All the girls laughed except for Usagi who snubbed her nose at Rei and stuck her tongue out. Thankfully, before she could start another war, the waiter was there to take their order.
"Hello girls, welcome to Frosties! What would you like this evening?" His nametag was missing but he was adorable from head to toe, even in that silly pinstripe uniform with bright buttons all over it. He had deep brown eyes, almost black, and his hair was auburn, a soft color that was not quite red but not quite brown. All the girls gawked open mouth and wide eyed, except for oblivious little Ami who was far too busy looking at the menu Minako had just handed to her.
"He totally looks like my old crush!" Makoto whispered to Usagi who giggled.
The waiter smiled uneasily under their ogling eyes, and was thankful when the cerulean haired girl finally spoke up. "Hmmm...I think I'll have a..." Glancing up, Ami’s eyes widened and she momentarily seemed to choked on her words. She turned ghostly pale and blinked a few times. "Derek?" she finally sputtered out in astonishment.
"Derek?" All the girls said at once.
"Ami," Usagi asked curiously, "is that a new flavor?"
The waiter smiled, "That is not really you Ami-chan, is it? Wow! I mean, hi! Geese, I was really hoping to -"
But Ami was not saying anything now. She did not even move. Her face seemed to grow a little paler and actually, to Luna, Ami looked as though she were about to throw up. Feeling suddenly dizzy with an overwhelming amount of shock, she almost slipped off the chair.
"Are you okay Ami-chan?" Usagi was really hoping Ami would not be suddenly sick. If she were, the other girls would definitely want to take her home and forget about having ice cream. Besides, Usagi thought, why would such a hunk make her stomach turn?
"I'm fine." Ami said as she blankly starred at the boy in front of her. He looked at her with concern and was just about to say something else, when all of a sudden tears began to well in Ami’s eyes. She unexpectedly jumped up and strode off in a daze toward the bathrooms at the back of the shop.
"Um, I'll… go talk to her," Minako whispered as she got up and followed after the shaken girl.
After a moment of silence and utter confusion for most involved, Usagi sputtered, "Well, this is odd."
"Maybe I should explain," All the girls turned to the waiter. "My name is Derek Sullivan and Ami-chan and I were friends when we were much younger, only we’d lost touch." He looked at the sets of eyes gazing at him in various states of disbelief.
The raven-haired girl spoke up, "That's why she ran away from you like a plague?" Rei was suddenly very suspicious of this boy and his story. Her eyes narrowed.
Minako found Ami watery eyed and sitting on the floor in the girl's bathroom staring at the wall, clinging to a balled up piece of toilet paper.
"Ami, who is he?" She was really worried; Ami did not usually act like this. She always was the calm and collected one of the group, always knew how to manage.
"I’m in shock." Ami said matter-of-factly, she was troubled. “After all this time…” she thought to herself. “...after I had finally accepted that he… that Derek was…”
"Come on Ami-chan, you can trust me. Is he an ex-boyfriend?" She playfully joked, trying to lighten the mood of the downcast girl.
"No, Minako, it not like that," Ami half laughed. “It was a long time ago,” she started in between softening sobs, “we used to live near-by one another. His family had moved from America a year after his birth, and his mother and my mother became instant friends in the neighborhood since both families were new to the area.”
Minako listened intently as Ami told her about her childhood playmate. Derek had been her best friend and they had spent almost every day in the light of each other’s company, growing up together. Every summer Ami and her family would go on vacation for a month and she would miss him terribly because there would be no one to play with. But he was always there on her front porch the day she returned, waiting for her to play once more.
"It was all so childish and fun,” she smiled, “Except that last summer, the summer before I moved after my father left us.” She looked up at Minako with a straight face, “He wasn't at my porch when I got home that time. In fact,” she sighed, “he was never at my porch again. While we had been away, my mother told me, he had gotten very sick and it hadn’t gone away," She recollected her imagined images of Derek in the hospital all tied to machines and tubes. She fought back another wave of tears. "His parents had taken him to the hospital and they had discovered a malignant tumor attached to his heart," she choked on the words.
She began to cry: "They had to go to back to America because the medicine and technology was more advanced there and I never saw him again. He wrote, once. The next thing I heard was that the chemotherapy and other treatments had not worked and he had died. We were only eleven at the time! All this time, after I’ve grown up to accept the loss of my first dear friend…” she trailed off, thinking of Derek, standing in the parlor after her storming off like she had. What a mess.
Minako put her arm around her friend and Ami quietly wept into her sleeve. "It's like he's back from the dead," she managed to say.
Minako sat with her and talked to her quietly. After Ami had collected herself and calmed down a bit they went back out to their table. Not wanting to upset Ami more, Derek had excused himself and to Usagi's disappointment everyone decided there had been enough excitement for the night after Minako's explanation. Rei had to go back to the temple and Makoto and Usagi were going back to Usagi's house to spend the night. Minako offered to walk Ami home.
"Thanks Minako," she said in her mousy voice with a weak smile. She glanced over her shoulder as she left the shop; the silhouetted figure of a boy was clear in the doorway facing the road and she watched his figure until she could not see him anymore. She desperately wanted to talk to him again.
Days passed and Ami got over the initial shock of finding her best friend was alive and well. They got together one afternoon and walked to the rose gardens. It was Derek's favorite place to walk and Ami's as well. She had been pleased to find out the corporate plans to build a tower here had been thwarted by protestors and environmentalists, so they had used that news as an excuse to celebrate.
"I'm so sorry Ami," Derek said after a long silence that came up while discussing the picketing. "I didn't know that you thought..."
"It's okay, really. I mean, how could you have known, right?" She glanced at him, he had become amazingly handsome in his supplementary years, but she couldn't look at him long because it was still sort of like looking at a ghost. Her eyes wandered to the pavement and she began to count her steps robotically.
"I just feel terrible thinking about how you must have felt," he said, "I stopped writing because of all the treatments. Your letters came but I was extremely weak and my parents didn't want to trouble me by letting me read them, so they kept the in a draw for me to read when I was well again." He looked at the ground as they walked. "I thought you had forgotten me."
Ami gazed at the sky above and she felt fresh tears welling. "I could never forget about you, Derek," she whispered. Later when he had gone into remission, Derek explained that he had read the letters and even replied. But it was to no avail, since Ami’s family had moved at least three times since he had left. He had meant to tell her he was coming back to Tokyo. Reminiscing, they walked to the center of the garden and sat on one of the benches. The crisp, cool air had been there for weeks but there had been no sign of any flurries to come.
“Snow.” Ami thought back to their childhood. In her mind, her reminiscing continued as she kept her attention on her feet, “We used to have so much fun in the snow, making tunnels and having snowball fights. I wish it would snow again; it’s so rare here...”
"You know Ami,” Derek’s voice caused her to jump out of her memory and look up, "wouldn't it be nice if it snowed?" Her eye widened at his suggestion and then she giggled; he always managed to do that somehow.
"What’s so funny?" He asked smiling.
Her giggle turned into a mild uproar as she grasped his arm tighter. Other than the other girls, she had never felt as at home as she did with Derek.
"What?" He asked again laughing with her. But all she could do was continue laugh at the perfect feeling of it all as they walked arm and arm.
Ami and Derek had been spending a lot of time together since they had been reunited. Derek's family had decided to come back to Tokyo after he had been in remission for three years and he had wondered a lot about Ami on his flight over. He had only been eleven when he last saw her but how could he forget those captivating sapphire eyes and that silly, playful grin. He also recalled how serious she could be. He wondered if she would still even be in the area with all that talent.
He got the job at the ice cream place in hopes of running into anyone familiar; he was so scared when he found Ami that night. He was worried she would hate him for leaving, but thankfully, she didn't. Not in the slightest.
Usagi was discussing the subject with Minako over tea a month later. Luna was asleep on the carpet and Artemis was sitting on the table pawing at the end of a placemat in boredom. "Well, I think he has the thing for her," Usagi stated.
"Oh Usagi, you think everyone has a ‘thing’ for anyone they look at." Minako was right, Usagi loved to play Cupid. Though quite often she ended up just causing a whole lot of trouble where none should have existed. "Yeah, Usagi,” Artemis’ peanut gallery comment began.
But he was interrupted by a dreamy Usagi: "But can't you tell by the way he stares into her eyes? I'm telling you, he's dying for her!" She paused, and then cracked up laughing, "Ah! He he he! HA! Get it? Dying
Artemis did not laugh. Minako rolled her eyes but broke a smile. Luna lifted her head at the terrible crack and gave Minako an ‘is-she-for-serious’ look.
Minako broke into a sigh. "But seriously,” Usagi plowed on, “have you spent any time with Ami lately? No. And neither and I nor any of the other girls have either. Know why?"
Minako did not even bother with an answer to this one-sided conversation; she was finding this display of love knowledge quite humorous after all. Artemis was about to reply with something witty but was once again interrupted.
"It's because she's always with Derek! See?" She got another idea. "Maybe they are destined for each other like Mamoru and I! How romantic?" Her eyes got hearts in them and she puckered her lips like a kissing fish. The sight was more than enough for Luna, who finally decided her afternoon nap had been ruined.
Minako stirred her tea and giggled at the though of Ami having a real boyfriend. "I don't know Usagi," she said, "but if not, then he better watch out cause I know a few girls around here that wouldn’t mind getting under that cute little pinstripe Frostie’s uniform." She was being flirtatiously playful of course. Her interest was perfectly content in her unspoken crush on Motoki, the arcade guy.
"Not me!" Usagi informed her matter-of-factly, "I have my guy!"
"When is Mamoru getting home anyway?" Minako recalled that he had left a week and a half ago to visit a friend who lived in Kyoto. Luna sat up and stretched kitty-style, half listening to the conversation above her.
"I'm not sure," Usagi said despairingly, "he hasn't called." As if on cue, the phone rang. Usagi leapt up and got it before it completed the first ring. It was not Mamoru.
"Usagi, is Minako there?" It was Rei.
"Yeah she is, why what's up?" Usagi noted the twinge of apprehension in Rei's voice.
"Something strange is going on. I think you guys should get down her right away. Makoto is already here and Ami's on her way." "Gotcha," Usagi said and hung up the phone. "Let's go. Rei's got something."
“What now?” Minako groaned, downing the rest of her tea and grabbing her mittens. Luna jumped onto the table, "Looks like I woke up just in time for the fun." She followed the girls out the door. The five girls and two cats gathered at Rei's temple on the stairs faces stern and ready for business. Artemis asked Rei what she had been looking into.
"Well, I was doing some chores around the temple when I glanced out the window and saw a blonde girl sitting alone out here on the stairs." Rei went on, "She was all by herself so I was a little concerned she was lost or something. You know how people just end up here sometimes,” she rambled. “Well, anyway. I went outside to see if she needed some help.” Her eyes widened as she told her tale. “But when I got there all I found was this." She held up a piece of stationary paper folded in half.
"Well, what does it say?" asked Makoto.
Rei unfolded it and cleared her throat, "Sailor Mars," she began, followed by a collective gasp of shock. "She knows who you are!" Usagi practically yelled, "What are we going to do now? Who is this girl? What does she want?"
"Will you let me finish?" Rei yelled, steaming at the irritating blonde. "Anyway,” she continued, “Sailor Mars, yes I know your identity - I know who you and all of your friends are. I want you all to know that I am coming. You and your little White Moon friends can't stop my forces and I from getting the vengeance we yearn for. If you try to defy us, we will destroy you. I will destroy you." Rei stopped.
"That's it?" asked Artemis.
"No signature?" asked Luna.
"That's the weirdest part." Rei said incredulously, "It's signed, Sailor Astera."
“Sailor?!” Minako, Luna and Usagi all gasped at once. Makoto leaned in over Rei’s shoulder to read the paper for herself.
"Astera?" Ami repeated, "That's definitely not the name of any planet I know of."
Rei’s brow furrowed in annoyance and Usagi ripped the note from her hand, dying to read the words for her own. "Me neither," said Artemis. "Not in this system."
"Well, looks like I’ll have to do some research," Ami said, "it sounds familiar to me but I don't know where I've heard it."
"Could it be more people from The Dark Moon?" Makoto asked.
"I doubt it," Minako replied, "The Nemesis was destroyed."
They began to discuss the various enemies they had encountered but Luna noted they had never come across another sailor senshi. A new enemy presenting themselves in such an odd manner, and with what seemed like an uncommon amount of knowledge, was certainly reason for caution.
Nevertheless, conversation soon fell off topic and it got near lunchtime. Soon the girls left and Rei sat in front of the temple for a while contemplating the idea of a new sailor senshi: “Well, she's obviously not very friendly…” Rei thought as she reread the note. “I still say think she's just an impostor.” They had discussed that too. There had been other cases of villains appearing as sailor senshi, even once as Sailor Moon herself. Rei wanted to take some kind of action to help understand this situation more, but what could she do when she did not know her enemy? She walked back into the temple and sat in front of the fire searching for answers.
"After all," she said aloud to herself, "what kind of a planet name is Astera anyway?"
A slender female figure in a sailor senshi outfit sat perched in a tree near the temple, her long black hair falling along beside her. Her outfit was similar to the true identities of the girls below and included colors of black and purple, with her front and back bow shaped in three points and a thick stripe running along the edge of her skirt. Adorning her forehead was a golden crescent moon.
Sailor Astera watched the girls below read the note and listened as they discussed what to do; she could not help but smile when they called her an impostor. The chocolate brown cat that sat near her had the unmistakably recognizable mark of a golden crescent moon mark on a collar around his neck.
"They all look so weak, Demetrius," she said to the cat, taking time the scratch the top of his head affectionately. Her violet eyes sparkled with anticipation of the revenge she would have, the revenge her father had sought but failed to attain. She leaned forward for a better look at Rei as she sat on the steps watching the others leave. "I've watched for almost a year now,” she breathed, taking in all the time and effort this mission had used up. “I know everything about them, even the boys they like. Why can't I just obliterate them now?" She smiled at her feline companion.
"Don't be deceived, Astera," the cat replied. "They are much stronger than they appear to you, both individually and together. You have not seen them at their full potential" To himself, he thought about how she could never imagine the real power of the White Moon Princess and her four guardians. “There will be a time,” he thought, “eventually. You will come to terms with their true power.”
"It's hard to believe," she scoffed, "sure they managed to defend themselves against that fool Metallia and her little underlings, but honestly, they weren't that impressive." She reached into her pocket and pulled out a glistening amethyst crystal. This small crystal, which fit nicely in the palm of her hand, was called the Adazuishou – the Revenge Crystal. It was her source of power and strength. Her fingers ran across its surface gingerly as the sunlight bounced off of it brilliantly. She kissed the gem and placed it safely back in her pocket. “I won't fail you Daddy,” she thought. She narrowed her eyes eagerly as she watched Rei walk into the temple; a pleased chuckle echoed through the treetop.
Chapter II: Dreams and Visions.