Chapter IV: Two Faced Evils
Astera ran down the path quickly, so fast that Demetrius had some trouble keeping up. When she finally got out of the gardens and was sure no one was following her she slowed down and caught her breath.
"Demetrius!" she said in a harsh, low voice, "Why didn't you run from her?"
The cat made no reply and Astera gasped for air and slammed the side of her fist against the building beside her.
"This takes away an important aspect of the plan you know," she finally said. "This means she won’t trust me anymore. They’ll know I wrote that note and I've lost my element of surprise." Astera continued walking in the direction of the train station and Demetrius followed.
"You can't play off her friendship," the cat said. “It seems that it was leading you to other means of distraction anyway...”
can stop right there," she scoffed. They were rounding the last corner before the train station. There were a few people around but the place was pretty desolate. She took a brown paper bag out of her jacket pocket and unfolded it. No one took much notice of her; she was just another lonely face.
"Get in," she said to Demetrius as she pointed to the inside of the bag. He obediently did what he was told and by these means, was able to board the train. It was nearing eleven when they finally reached the hospital. Demetrius was thankful; he had been terribly uncomfortable on the bouncing train floor. “She at least could’ve put me down on a seat,” he thought.
Astera stepped off the train and made her way past the Emergency Room entrance to the Ambulance lot. The parking lot was desolately empty. She let Demetrius out of the bag and they found a safe inlet in the building to conceal themselves in. There they waited.
“This is perfect,” Astera considered to herself. “With Kuzreo at my side and Thyrei soon to follow, I will be untouchable.” Her mind drifted and she remembered the great Ministers that had served by her father's side. Minister Kuzreo, with his light hair and dark determined emerald eyes, was gifted with the powers of controlling material right down to the molecular level. In a sense, he could control motion and speed of anything he could bond with. And Minister Thyrei, the more massive of the two, with his stunning white goatee in stark contrast to his black hair and crimson eyes, played a key role in the battle on Astera with his power over the molten elements of his onyx hellfire.
They were loyal and courageous to King Yukio. Blessed by his kingdom, they came from Astera’s moons as chosen warriors to fight for the kingdom of Astera, and in this case, to die for it. They both fell protecting the King in the final battle. That hellish Queen of Crystal Tokyo had been to powerful, even for King Yukio, the greatest warrior of Astera. The Ginzuishou, that vile thing, was the source of all evil and hatred.
Sailor Astera was upset that her cover as ‘Sakura Katakini’ had been blown, and she scowled at the missed opportunities to strike that vile girl Usagi and destroy that fearsome power. Back on Nemesis, she realized that she had enough strength from the Adazuishou – her amethyst - to bring herself to the past, but she knew she could not defeat the future Queen’s guardians alone. In her last dream the night before she left Nemesis for the past, she had seen a figure cloaked in dark shadow. At first she was afraid, but the voice was so soothing that she began to trust it. Could it have been her father's spirit beckoning her once again?
With the power from the Adazuishou, the cloaked figure told her, she could bring with her the spirits of the two Great Ministers of Astera. However, it also informed her that she did not have the power to put them on earth in any physical form. Sailor Astera knew she could trust the Great Ministers but if only in spirit, what could they do? The shadow figure told her to find weak humans who were incapable of sustaining themselves, those who had suffered great traumatic experiences. The spirits of the Ministers could posses the bodies and take a more useful form.
A nest body for Minister Thyrei had been easy to find. Sailor Astera had rested his spirit in a weak boy that had suffered years of emotional and physical challenges. She made her way into the family’s life as a confidant of the boy’s mother while he was very sick. Imagine! The family believed it was her thoughts and prayers that had healed their son. They had been guided back and Astera’s plan was in motion; she would awaken that power when the time was right.
Astera had then searched for another weak person for Minister Kuzreo to possess. That opportunity came from Toroku and his motorcycle. She almost enjoyed running him down and watching him lying on the ground in a pool of blood crying. He was soon dead but with Kuzreo's spirit entering him he was given enough power to be revived. He then was patched up by doctors and began his rehabilitation, all the while not knowing about the powerful energy sleeping inside him.
A thought occurred to her.
"Demetrius, why didn't we wake the Ministers when we first got here?" she asked as they sat behind a cement wall.
"The bodies they were in were too weak. You were not ready to fight. I was not ready to let you go off with thoughts of revenge and no power to back it up." He was quite blunt. She did not have a reply.
Finally a siren came screaming though the night, getting louder as it approached.
The ambulance pulled up to the emergency door and a nurse came rushing out to meet it. Astera grabbed her wrist and pulled her into the darkness, covering her nose and mouth. The nurse paniced and tried to get loose from Astera's suffocating rip, but eventually she weakened and collapsed. As the stretcher was lowered to the ground and brought into the hospital, Astera followed it wearing a nurse's uniform. The medical bag over her shoulder was full of cat.
Once they were inside the building Astera dropped off into a hallway. She made her way to the nearest elevator where she found a chart that listed room numbers. For convenience, the room numbers corresponded with the level they were on. Therefore, room 210 was on the second floor. She pushed the up arrow beside the elevator doors.
The doors slid open and two doctors in the midst of conversation brushed past her with less attention than a nod. Astera proceeded to the room without encountering anyone else until she reached the nurses station.
As she was walking by the nurse looked up. "Miss?" she said politely, "I'm sorry Miss but visiting hours are over. The patients are all asleep. Could you please come back tomorrow?"
Astera turned around and causally brought her medical bag to the nurse’s attention, "Oh I'm on duty." She said with a smile.
"Oh!" The nurse said, "You must be new! I'm terribly sorry; I thought Nanako was on tonight. I'm Tamaki." She said over the desk. "You've got a long night a head of you."
"Yeah, well, nice to meet you," Astera said, "I am Usagi." She lied. "Well, hopefully I'll see you around again but I really must go now - like you said, very busy." They said good-bye and Astera continued on.
When she reached the room she let Demetrius out of the bag. Then, pressing down the door handle, she quietly entered. The room was very dark with the exception of the blue light emanating from the bedside nightlight.
Toroku was asleep in his bed, totally unaware of the woman in his room. She admired his charming boyish looks for a moment while he was trapped in the innocence that sleep brings to a face. She believed one could really see the true face of a person only when he slept. In Toroku, all she saw was Kuzreo, the warrior.
Toroku opened his eyes and peered into the darkness. It was broken by a glow beside him on the night stand. He focused on the faint violet light and forced his tired eyes to adjust and see its source. What he saw there appeared to be a rock of some sort. He reached over to touch it lightly and as his hand approached it, the light grew stronger. He recoiled.
Astera laughed quietly in the darkness at his reaction. "Do you like it?" she asked.
Toroku looked up startled, "Who's there? Who are you?"
Astera stepped slightly into the light of the amethyst. Her nurses outfit calmed him for a moment. A golden chain and amethyst pendant fell from her collar. He noticed the stone on the pendant was similar to the one on his nightstand, and asked her once again who she was.
"Oh Minister, you do not recognize me yet?"
"Why do you call me that? Are you a real nurse?" he asked, "I think you are mistaken. You have the wrong room or something lady." The light began to dim again.
"I am not in the wrong room Minister Kuzreo," she paused and added, "Toroku."
He sat straight up and the hair on his neck rose at his name. He went to stand but of course, he could not get his legs to move right. "Why don't I know you?" he asked. "What do you want from me?"
She looked at the stone on the nightstand and he followed her gaze. She did not say a word as he reached for it again but did not actually touch it. When it began to glow bright once again he turned to her. "What is this then? Will you at least tell me that?"
He wanted to be angry with her. He wanted to tell her to leave so he could rest. But he wanted to know who she was. Who was this beautiful woman that had made her way into his hospital room? He waited for her reply.
"It is a present," she finally said, "it's for you - to get well again."
He touched it and it lit up once again, but this time he did not pull back. It felt warm to the touch and as he picked it up he felt secure and safe. He thought perhaps a miracle was about to take place. Then, suddenly, the light grew immensely and became almost blinding. Toroku tried to put the stone down or throw it away, but it was impossible. It seemed to have fused with his flesh! His attempts to cry out for help failed as he found he had no voice; the light was suffocating him and he felt his body being slowly lifted off the hospital bed. His injuries sent severe pain shooting through his body.
"Kuzreo," Astera said softly, "wake up now."
The white-purple light filled the room with a blinding glow and even Astera had to turn away. Demetrius, who had been watching from just inside the doorway, covered his eyes with his paws. At last the light ceased and a massive body fell to the bed jarring the springs. The Adazuishou hit the floor with a loud clank.
Astera reached down and picked it up. It was still hot. She walked to the hospital bed and took hold of the seemingly lifeless hand that hung off the edge of the mattress; when she touched it, the body trembled and reawakened. Astera stepped back as the man opened his eyes and took a raspy breath.
As he sat up and slowly stood up beside the bed, the torn and tight hospital gown vanished. It was quickly replaced by elegant half-plate armor and flashy medallions of honor. "Mistress," Minister Kuzreo said as he knelt before Astera and kissed her hand. “It is with the entire honor of my King that I serve you.”
Mamoru jolted out of bed and shut off his alarm clock. He had been dreaming something just before that revolting noise had disturbed him, but he could not remember what the dream had been about. He found that happened often. He knew he dreamt every night, even with his restless evenings, but no matter what he tried, the dreams often seemed to evade his memory in the morning.
“These dreams,” he thought, “why do they give me such a bad feeling? Why do all these omens come through in my subconscious?” He opened his closet and pulled out the tan khakis and navy shirt he had bought the week before. Always one to dress sharp, Mamoru had bought this particular outfit hoping to take Usagi out to dinner. Today he planned to take Toroku with them when he and Usagi went out that night. Maybe if they were both there, he would be able to divide is attention more effectively between them. Mamoru struggled to remember the dream as he got dressed. It seemed to linger just beyond the reaches of his mind.
As he reached into his dresser to select socks, the broken glass in the barrel caught his attention and he frowned. It was still really bothering him; there were so many things about the night before that lead him to believe someone had been in his house. When he found it, the broken frame had been far from the dresser it previously sat on. The added surprise of not being able to locate the photograph stirred him to instant uncertainty. He had searched the apartment for an intruder twice over but he had found no one. To his surprise however, he did find something most interesting: his balcony door had been unlocked.
Still there were other things that bothered him about the events of the previous night. The fact the other pictures on the dresser we untouched, each in their place with a thin layer of dust collecting in the corners disturbed him greatly.
“Whoever it was broke the one of Usagi and I,” he thought, “And they took it as well. I don’t like that. It’s as if we were targeted, like a warning sign.” He sighed aggravated as she pulled on his dress shoes, “She could be in trouble.”
He wanted to go see her right now and talk to her about the night before, but he had to go pick up Toroku. He hesitated as he glimpsed at the phone before he left. It was only seven in the morning and for that reason alone he did not call Usagi right then. She would most likely be asleep and he did not wish to disturb her dreams and possibly make her forget them. Still he wanted to let her know about the plans for tonight.
“I'll call her from the hospital,” he thought, “it’s all right; she probably won’t be up for a few more hours. She'll be fine. And plus,” he figured, “I will know if she is in danger.”
The streets were calm as he stepped out of the building into the fresh morning air. The sun had lifted some of the evening chill off the city and Mamoru unlocked the door of his car.
As he drove down the quiet roads his mind drifted through the events of the past day or two over and over. He had hoped to return to a peaceful Tokyo when he and Usagi could be together and not have to worry about left over evil from a past life, or any other disturbances. They had each other, so why could that not be enough? It seemed that since he returned more and more strange things had begun to occur. He thought that maybe he should have just stayed in Kyoto.
“No,” he scolded his selfishness, “no, I came home to see Usagi.” He had been so worried about her the whole time he had been away, yet somehow now that he was home he felt he should stay away from her. His mind reeled. “Why am I doing this to us? Why am I staying away?” He hit the steering wheel. “I came home to see her so what is stopping me?” He remembered when he had arrived at her house. He had given her a hug and had smelled the sweet smell of her hair against his face. He had longed for nothing more than her kiss right then but something had stopped him.
“It was that girl,” he realized. “Her eyes...they were so...” He snapped out of it. “Could it be something from her? Am I jealous of her attention to Usagi?” He was confused. He had never been so transfixed on anyone's eyes except for Usagi's.
His mind was filled with these troubled thoughts as he pulled into the hospital lot and got out of the car. He made his way into the building and greeted the women at the front desk. From here he was directed to the second floor nursing station. A young lady was there typing diligently at a computer. She did not even notice him approach until she looked up to check the time. She was due for a break soon.
"Oh!" she exclaimed, "I didn't see you sir! How may I help you?"
He was looking at the ring on the woman's delicate finger, it was a gold band mounted with a heart shaped amethyst stone. His attention was momentarily distracted as he gazed into the stone.
"Are you all right sir?" the woman asked.
"Oh, I'm sorry," he blushed slightly. "I'm here to pick up Toroku Chuki, room 210." He tried to keep himself from looking at the stone. It was enchanting, the way the lights played off it.
The nurse typed a few things it the computer and finally looked up after a moment or two. "I'm sorry sir, it seems Mr. Chuki was discharged last night."
“Last night?” he thought. "By whom?" he asked.
"I'm sorry sir but that's classified information. Are you family?"
He sighed, "No, I'm not. All right, thank you." He walked down the stairs and into the lobby. He was about to leave when he stopped for a moment. “I should call Usagi,” he thought. He turned and walked to the pay phones. He hoped she would be up by now. On the third ring she picked up.
"Hello?" her voice came through the phone.
"Usagi, it's me," he said quickly. "I’m sorry about the other night. Look, I wanted to make it up to you by taking you out tonight with Toroku, but –"
“Out to dinner?” Usagi’s excited burst interrupted him. “Really?”
Mamoru smiled, "Well, it seems Toroku’s already left the hospital so I wanted to go over to his place and see if he will be staying there or not. I am not sure if we will get back in time to go out, but I wanted to call you and let you know so you could keep the time free." He paused for a reaction but Usagi did not say anything. "I promise I'll call as soon as I get home."
"Are you really going to try to make it back on time?" she asked, suddenly sounding upset again. He realized he made a mistake by telling her about dinner. He probably would have been better off just letting her know where he was going for the day.
“Usagi, I will try my best to get back in time.” She did not reply right away, but eventually muttered something about waiting for him and said goodbye. He tried to tell her he loved her, but the line on the other end had already been disconnected.
Usagi slammed the phone down and flung herself on her bed in a fit out pouts.
"What is going on?" she asked the empty room. "Did I do something so awful that he doesn’t even want to see me?" She moped around her room for a while before she went outside and walked to the playground. There were lots of children there laughing and playing. “Enjoy your carefree life,” she thought sarcastically. She went to an empty section of the playground near the edge of the gardens.
She spent so much time in there now just thinking about life and where it leads. She had begun to doubt destiny and fate; she had even lost faith in herself occasionally. She was indeed falling into a deep state of depression that she felt could not be lifted. All the fighting, it always came back to her somehow. “I must be overreacting,” she thought. However that did not soothe her.
She heard voice coming from around the corner of the garden wall. The voice was a familiar one, was it Sakura? Usagi jumped behind the slide and held her breath. When they came around the corner Usagi almost cried out. It was Sakura, or rather Sailor Astera as Sakura! But she was not alone. Toroku was with him! “No,” she thought, “I am not seeing this! Mamo-chan would not lie to me!” But the evidence was plain and simple to her, Toroku was right there before her eyes. And he was walking
! He didn't look like he'd broken anything! “So what is
Mamoru doing?” She was almost so wrapped up in these fears that she almost forgot what had happened the night before.
“Sakura! Oh no! Sailor Astera!” She jumped out.
"Toroku!" she shouted, "get away from her! Sakura isn’t who we thought she was!" They both looked to her with surprise. Then a slight smile came over Astera's face.
"Usagi," she paused, "my dear
friend." A slight laugh escaped through her lips. "Sakura is dead to me now, you should know that. Why are you all alone, Usagi?"
She realized her mistake but she could not let Mamoru's friend be harmed. She repeated her warning and took a defensive stance. "Toroku, step away from her! She's nothing but trouble!"
Usagi did not understand why he was not running. Did he not believe her?
"Oh silly girl," Astera said, "You really come off quite pathetic. Can't you sense it? Minister Kuzreo’s powers are with me now?"
"What did you call him?" Usagi was awfully confused, and the thought of Mamoru lying to her continued to nag her mind.
Toroku stepped forward and bowed to Usagi. "Neo Queen Serenity," he said with a voice so unlike the one that should have belonged to that body, "a pleasure to meet you once again."
She looked at him with wide eyes, "I do not understand... How do you know...? Why aren’t you with Mamoru?"
"In good time,” he laughed, “For now, you don't have to understand, your Highness. Perhaps you never will," he spoke the words with a bitterness that stung.
"Enough taunting, I am in no need of your assistance right now. Now that she is alone..." Astera reached into her pocket and took out her brilliant amethyst stone. She kissed it and Usagi backed up to the wall behind her. "You shouldn't wander by yourself Miss Princess. Now I shall have my revenge! Amethyst Crystal Power! MAKE UP!"
Astera held up the stone and it released a bright flash of light that engulfed her whole body.
A gust of wind flew around her as she raised her arms high above her head. Her golden hair rippled violently towards the sky and in a flash, she stood before Usagi in a sailor senshi outfit of purple and black. There was another flash of light and a golden crescent moon appeared on her ivory forehead. She opened her violet eyes and when she did, Usagi saw the bright flash of an exploding planet. Not even a second had passed as the transformation was complete and Sailor Astera stood in front of Usagi looking down on her with hatred is disgust. Children and their parents ran screaming from the park.
"I am Sailor Astera, soldier of revenge! You destroyed my home, my life, and my family! I shall not forgive you, and I will avenge the death of my father." She walked up close to Usagi slowly and in a voice so that only she could hear she said, "And for my revenge, I shall take pleasure in destroying you, personally." Toroku was no longer there. In his place stood the Minister Kuzreo is all his gilded glory. He watched the scene unfold condescendingly as he admired his mistress’ skill in provoking her victim.
Ami and Derek pushed their way along the busy street side by side holding hands. They were heading to the park where they hoped to catch a moment alone and along the way passed by the Crown Game Center.
Makoto and Minako were quite busy enough flirting with Shinozaki and Motoki to not notice them when they walked by the arcade. Rei did take notice however, and worked to get the love struck girls' attention.
"Hey, that was Ami," Rei tugged on Minako's sleeve. She was giggling and hanging all over the guys while Motoki’s boss called for him to get back to work and stop wasting the day on young girls.
"Well, I better go," he said blushing.
"Yeah, me too," Shinozaki said, "I have to go work now anyway." The girl's said their good-byes and made their way outside to the crowded sidewalk.
"So what should we do now?" Minako asked.
"Well, as I was saying earlier, Ami just walked by with Derek," she made a face, "but you two were too busy drooling!"
They both blushed; Artemis was waiting for them outside. “It’s about time you guys came back out here; I was worried I was going to be forgotten forever!” Minako laughed and picked him up, laying him over her shoulder and scratching his back. He purred.
"Well, what are we waiting for? Let's follow them," Rei suggested.
"You mean spy on them?" Makoto asked with a raised eyebrow. Rei looked at her with a smirk and the three girls immediately ran off as fast as the crowd would let them in the direction Ami had gone. Artemis, in turn, was plopped to the ground and left to follow behind shaking his head, "Girls..."
They got to the gardens just after Ami and Derek. The girls, whispered obnoxious things and waited until Ami and Derek were a few yards in before they followed. They were walking arm in arm now and Ami was resting her head on his shoulder. The noise of the city was considerably less within the confines of the garden walls.
"They look so adorable," Minako practically shouted as she was not one to quickly adjust to volume changes.
"Shh! Keep it down Minako!" Rei hushed as they group crept slowly along just behind the couple.
Artemis butted in, "This is silly, and I don't understand why you girls do this. I almost got trampled back there you know!"
“SHHHH!” was the reply he received from all sides.
Ami and Derek sat on a bench and continued their low conversation. Minako climbed on a bench nearby and peeked over the shrubs. Rei tried to climb up behind her but their balance was off and they both toppled to the ground. They burst into hysterics. Makoto too could not keep the laughs under control. They all tried to hush each other but this simply made them laugh all the more.
Ami looked up in the direction she had heard a noise from. Derek felt her tense under his arm.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
"Nothing," she said, "I just heard something." He smiled at her. “My little Ami-chan,” he thought, “afraid of being seen showing affection in public I bet.”
"There are other people in the city," he said with a slight laugh, "I will protect you." He lightly touched her chin and turned her face up to his. Her crystal blue eyes faltered and her cheeks flushed a little.
Rei, Minako, and Makoto were climbing all over each other trying to see.
"He's gonna kiss her!" Makoto said astonished as she balanced her tall frame with her left hand on Minako’s head.
"Our Ami’s in love!" Minako whispered feeling melancholy while standing on one foot and peeking through the shrubs.
"Ow! That's my foot!" Rei said in a harsh but low voice as she tried to free her toes from Minako’s cumbersome weight.
As Derek's face grew near to Ami's she closed her eyes. Her hands were shaking and she almost got up and ran, but stubbornly she held herself in place. Within a second, as the suspense was becoming unbearable for Ami as well as her hidden audience, a high pitch scream broke the garden silence and disturbed this delicate scenario.
Derek jumped and Ami almost fell off the bench. Rei wobbled back, then forward into Minako who, yelping swung her arm up and knocked Makoto off the bench. She in turn landed on Artemis who let out a horrible yelp. Minako and Rei followed suit in clamoring to the ground, all but the poor feline in stitches at their situation.
Derek and Ami had already begun to run in the direction of the scream by the time the others had reorganized themselves. The spies were right behind them within a few moments and they all came around at once into the playground. Usagi was lying beside the swing set rolled over on her side. A woman stood above her in a black and purple sailor senshi outfit. She had a wicked smile on her face and looked down on Usagi as if she was less than dirt. Rei was the first to notice the dispirited girl on the ground was in fact Usagi.
"Usagi!" she cried as she ran towards her. Astera turned.
"Amethyst Dynamic Burn!" she shouted as a bright purple beam shot from the crystal she held in her hands. Rei dodged the blast as best she could in civilian form but it caught her shoulder and she fell to the sand wincing in pain.
Makoto went to step forward but Derek's voice came first.
"Who are you?" he asked as he stepped in front of Ami. "What do you want from these young girls?"
Sailor Astera laughed with an evil echo, "My dear Thyrei, you are still so blind."
He scowled at her, "I don't care what you call me! Just get away from here! And you leave these girls alone!"
She calmly walked up to him and stared his stern face right between the eyes. He stood strong and tried to stare her down but the deep violet of her eyes took hold of his mind. Her lavender scent was all around him.
Suddenly, she leaned forward and kissed him! Ami cried out and tried to slap her out of spite and jealousy but Sailor Astera was quicker and caught Ami's arm in a tight hold. Derek fell suddenly unconscious to the ground and Ami struggled to free her wrist from Astera's tight grasp. Her face was hot with resentment.
"Jupiter Star Power!" Makoto yelled out.
"Venus Star Power!"
"Mars Star Power!" The three girls transformed and in a flash became the pretty suited sailor soldiers Sailor Jupiter, Sailor Venus, and Sailor Mars. Each stood tall and proud, gazing at Sailor Astera as though she was not fit to bear the title. Sailor Astera flung Ami across the sand to Usagi who was still mumbling incoherently on her side.
"I don't know what kind of senshi you are, but you're not one of us!" Mars said.
"You picked the wrong girls to mess with," Jupiter hissed.
"We are the Sailor Senshi of the White Moon and we've vowed to protect the Princess," Venus announced, “Whatever business you have with her will be settled with us first.”
"Petty, empty threats," Astera scowled. "I am Sailor Astera, sworn to destroy the Moon Princess and
her pathetic royal court. Let me introduce Minister Kuzreo." The man with the dirty blonde hair and olive eyes appeared beside her at this summons. "Destroy them," she said, "I'll be back for the Princess. Remember, she's mine!"
Chapter V: Minister Kuzreo