Chapter VI: Minister Thyrei
Derek sat up. The bed was warm and familiar and the room had a sweet smell. He looked around him and noticed there was a small frame on the nightstand beside him. He leaned over to turn it into view but a piercing headache forced him to lie back again.
"You're awake," a sweet voice said, “thank goodness.”
Derek opened his eyes and forced them to focus on the ivory rounded face and crystal blue eyes. He tried to speak but found that the sound of his voice was like a cannon going off in his head.
"You're probably still tired," she said as she pushed her short blue hair behind her ears. She placed her hand on his and he noticed how cold it was, how strange the skin felt. He reached up to touch her cheek trying to signify his gratitude. He found it to have the same harsh cold as her delicate hand. Her eyes were the perfect sapphire he loved but they lacked the tender passion he usually found there. The slight smile that had slowly crept into his lips began to fade slowly.
"What's wrong?" she asked.
“You!” he managed to utter as he pulled his hand away and stood up. The sudden movements made his head swarm. The room around him vanished and he found himself standing in an empty apartment. The image of Ami smiled and her eyes diminished to a deep violet. Her cerulean hair flowed from her head to her knees and changed to a pale blond. With a pass of her hand the sweet face was altered to that of Astera's and she let out a laugh as her junior high school uniform became a violet cocktail dress.
"I guess I can't fool you," she said. "You might be too smart for your own good, boy."
He ran for the door but just as soon as he reached it, he felt himself being pulled from it. His body was thrust backwards and he groaned as his back slammed against the wall opposite the door.
A piercing laugh broke the darkness, "Oh silly boy! Don't fight your destiny!" She appeared beside him, kissed his cheek and vanished again.
He jumped back and swung at the air. He had a scowl on his face and his head was still pounding. “You witch,” he shouted, “leave Ami alone!”
"Are you afraid?" she asked. Her voice was all around him and inside his mind. "Do you fear me?" She laughed and he tensed suddenly aware of everything around him. She appeared in front of him and walked around him once. He eyed her cautiously, aware that his chances to escape were probably slim.
"So my friend, you now know the secret of your beloved Ami," a flash of memory when off in Derek's mind. He had seen Ami transform; she was Sailor Mercury!
"But trust me, she not worth the time or the effort!" She reached into her black purse and took out her Adazuishou. "Thyrei," she coaxed approaching his apprehensive and fearful face, "wake up."
She touched the crystal to his chest and watched the mist of purple light envelope him. He tried to force her away, but his chest ached intensely and he felt his knees give out. She laughed menacingly as his figure began to change. Through the haze she saw his arms grow stronger and his eyes burn red. The scream of the fading Derek uttered one word before it evil inside consumed his whole being: "Ami-chan..."
The five girls walked in silence. Little had been said that day and no one really wished to speak first. Ami was like an empty shell. She had gone through the motions of the day after the battle without really thinking about anything. Her mind was lost on thoughts of Derek. He had vanished after the fight and the possibilities of his whereabouts frightened her into silence.
Rei was also feeling apprehensive. Yuuichirou had not been at the temple when she had returned the night before and her grandfather had no idea where he had gone off too. She was worried that some harsh words they had recently exchanged may have impacted him more deeply than she. “It's not like him to just run off,” she thought, “not that I really
care...” she lied to herself.
Minako was the first brave enough to speak, "Come on, let’s go to the arcade." No one really responded; Usagi barely nodded. "We can get our minds of this business for a while," she persuaded, "We can't get down on ourselves!" Minako knew that they needed to stay positive to stay strong. “Plus, maybe Matoki will be working,” she thought.
Everyone more or less just followed Minako halfheartedly as she chattered away along the cluttered road to the Crown Game Center. When the entered the arcade they were greeted by a very worried Unazuki, "Rei, Minako! Have you seen my brother?" Minako was taken aback by Motoki’s sister's concerned greeting.
"I was hoping to find him here," Minako stammered.
"No," she replied shaking her head, "I haven't seen him since yesterday. Right after work, he left to go meet Shinozaki and go to the mall," Makoto looked up at the mention of her beloved friend, “but he didn't come home last night." She motioned to the chrome clock on the wall, "He should have been here for work two hours ago."
Minako was beginning to fret a little.
"Have you called Shinozaki?" Makoto asked.
"Sure," Unazuki said, "his apartment and his cell phone, but there's been no answer." She threw her arms up in the air as if admitting defeat. Makoto nodded to the others and, wanting to withdraw herself from the situation, she stepped outside into the cooling evening air. It was dusk and the sky was hazy. She thought about the last time she had really done something with Shinozaki. Had it really been that long ago? They had always shared a close relationship as friends, but there were moments when she felt the desire for something more from him. She blushed for just thinking about that.
To herself but aloud, she whispered his name. To her utter shock, a voice behind her answered. She turned sharply.
The boy in front of her was tall and dark haired. He had soft, sweet eyes that gazed at Makoto with warmth as he smiled.
At that moment Rei turned her head from the conversation and glanced out the window. Through the glass windowpane she saw Makoto with a boy. “Is that Shinozaki?” she started walking toward the door and as she did a cold fear gripped her chest. She walked faster as she exited the arcade.
Usagi noticed her exit and she broke from conversation with Minako, "Rei! Where are you going?"
As the boy was about to embrace Makoto, Rei came up behind him and shoved him hard from behind. He tripped and fell on his knees as Makoto jumped back and stared in shock for a moment. Without even seeing straight, she dove forward and hurled a fist in the aggressor's direction. Years of martial arts had been effective and Makoto's fist caught Rei's jaw square. As she fell toward the ground Makoto realized whom she had just punched and ran to catch her. “Rei!”
Usagi came to the door at the same time and saw the whole scene. She ran over and the rest of the girls came pouring out of the arcade into the evening air.
"Rei!" Makoto yelled again. Usagi helped Makoto lift Rei to her feet. She was conscious enough to fight back tears and tried to stand on her own. All the while Makoto was apologizing profusely.
"Honestly! It was a natural reaction!" She looked back at Shinozaki who was slowly getting up and wiping the mud off his pants. Rei stood and regained some balance, her hand on the lump that was forming on her face and her eyes were burning. Shinozaki stood and smiled as cold, simple smile.
Usagi was confused, "Makoto, why did you hit Rei?" She looked at Shinozaki then back to Makoto.
Rei spoke with a brittle voice, “Stay away from him! He's not Shinozaki!" Makoto scowled at the thought of someone impersonating her best friend.
"Show your true self!" Minako said.
The man laughed a sharp crewel laugh and was abruptly and violently enveloped in a purple haze. As the mist faded, so did the image of Shinozaki. The gathering crowd of civilians looked on at the man in his place.
He was dressed in the same style the Minister Kuzreo, however, Thyrei was even taller and his eyes were burning red. His cloak and armor was dark grey and silver, lined often with gleaming white. His black hair was a stark contrast to the white goatee on his chin, and his right hand clutched a bow of silver. On his weapon, seven onyx stones gleamed in the sunlight.
Now the civilians scattered. Some ran as far as they could, others ran to the nearest object to hide behind. Makoto was boiling with fury and her eyes were severe and violent. Rei glanced at her and stepped back near Minako who was standing with Ami in front of Usagi.
The Minister bowed slightly and smiled, "I am Minister Thyrei, servant of the Mistress and the strongest of Astera's Ministers. You girls are my new mission." His gaze fell upon Usagi.
She narrowed her eyes and tired to figure out how to transform without the growing crowd around them seeing. She looked at Ami who nodded and then ever so slightly motioned to Rei who also nodded. Rei walked towards Thyrei slowly and he smirked at her. "Okay you want to play?" she taunted.
In one quick and sudden movement she jumped out at him and lashed at his face. A thin line of blood appeared as he caught her wrist as she made her break. Before he could even turn, the other four girls had vanished. He swung Rei away like a used towel and she caught herself with no more than a small twist at her ankle as she hit the pavement. “Don’t waste my time,” he muttered. She watched him stalk off toward the gardens and followed him until she was sure he was not coming back. She took out her communicator.
"All set guys. He's coming your way," she said in the speaker, still feeling the throbbing of her pulse in her ears.
There was an affirmative reply. She transformed and ran off behind him.
The Minister walked leisurely under the star spattered sky and into the gardens where he was confronted with a tree full of bird settling in for the night. He looked at the inferior creatures and chuckled. With a lifted hand he formed an arrow of bubbling molten metal and shot it at the flock. A hundred birds took off in fright but one remained: a charcoal blast pile of embers against the truck of the tree. A voice came from within the hedges behind him and he turned to see four suited soldiers standing defiantly across the clearing. They were each more than a foot shorter than him, with the exception of the brunette who was slightly taller than the rest. She looked the most vicious.
"Hey," Sailor Moon said, "If Astera sent you here then you're looking for me." She narrowed her eyes and recited, "I am Sailor Moon, champion of love and justice. In the name of the moon, I will punish you."
He smiled, "I would love to see you try but unfortunately my orders are not to harm you." He looked at the other three senshi; that tallest one was scowling, “A real fighter,” he thought.
He looked at Sailor Venus who stood partially in front of Sailor Moon now. “A guardian,” he thought. He looked at Sailor Mercury and noticed her eyes were cast toward the ground unlike the hard cold stares he was receiving from the others. “Pathetic and weak,” he thought, “perfect.”
"Sailor Mercury," he called to her, "feeling a little under the weather?" He chuckled, forming a molten arrow in his bow.
Mercury looked up but her eyes were empty. She felt always on the verge of tears but knew she had to be able to focus in order to fight. Her mind was foggy; her thoughts were hard to organize.
Thyrei drew the arrow back and took aim. Jupiter took a defensive position, "Don't try it," she said menacingly. She crossed her arms across her chest as he drew the arrow back on the bow.
"Jupiter Supreme Thunder!" she called as the arrow soared through the air. The lighting hit the tip of the arrow and was absorbed into it as it plunged on its course to Sailor Mercury.
In a quick move Sailor Mars came running in and jumped at Mercury. The arrow sliced through the air less than an inch from the back of her bodysuit and her skin blistered as the cloth melted to her skin. She cringed as she held in her cry of pain, and Mercury rolled across the ground from the impact. Mars muttered to herself how unfortunate and ironic it was that she always seemed to take the brunt of fire attacks.
Wasting no time, Thyrei formed another arrow and aimed again at the fallen Mercury. Sailor Venus acted fast, "Venus Love and Beauty Shock!"
A shower of golden energy rained down on Thyrei and he turned the bow on Venus. As he released it, she dove and the arrow flew by her, singing her hair.
Jupiter had maneuvered herself behind Thyrei and was about to call on her Oak Evolution when a hard blow to the head caused her to grow dizzy and slip to the ground. The violet eyes laughed as Sailor Astera threw the thick tree branch to the side. Jupiter tried to stand and fight but her head was churning and throbbing. Mercury and Venus were trying to help Mars stand but the burns on her back were unbearable. Sailor Moon was standing alone in the center of the clearing.
"Well done, Thyrei!" Sailor Astera was delighted! What agony those burns would cause! She kissed him patiently and broke off only when Sailor Moon spoke.
"What do you want here?" she asked.
"I want you to die," Astera replied simply. But she was not pleased with the effect, so she continued. "But before that, I want you to suffer. I want you to lose all those you love, and I want you to feel the agonizing pain of loneliness." She watched the ivory face and blue eyes for some reaction but the expression did not change. It was not fear in her eyes, it was not even hatred. Astera began to grow irritated.
It was an ignorant enough question to Usagi. Here was some sailor senshi from who knows where, seeking to kill her for reason apparent to her. She wanted to know why, simple enough.
"You are heartless," Astera replied, a little taken by the question, "You and your friends," she twisted the word friends and motioned to the other senshi who had gathered around Jupiter. "You are all cruel and spineless with no real understanding of death and what it feels like to be alone. You are the root of all evil in this system and in my life." She lifted up her amethyst Adazuishou, "So therefore, you must die."
"I don't understand," Sailor Moon said in all honesty, eyeing the crystal Astera brandished. "What have I done to harm you, and when?"
Astera cried out in anger, "Would you not seek revenge on those who will grow to kill your father?"
Sailor Moon opened her eyes wide in amazement. "Your father? I will kill...," she shock he head, "Impossible. You are misguided."
Astera ignored the comment and looked to Thyrei who had found his way to floating slightly above the ground a few feet away, "Get down from there and rid me of these pests so I can take her without any interruptions." She was enveloped in a violet flash and was gone.
He smiled and touched his feet back to the ground. He formed an arrow and reached for his silver bow. Sailor Moon ran at him from the side and with a sweeping motion he quickly shoved her back with his left arm, entrapping her in a crystalline bubble before she slammed into the ground. By now, Sailor Moon was beginning to expect Tuxedo Mask to show up. “Anytime now,” she thought, “anytime.” But he was nowhere to be seen.
She struggled to get out of this new trap, but found it impossible; her cries were muted.
"Why do you listen to her Thyrei?" Sailor Venus asked. "You don't have to take orders from her."
"She is the Mistress. She gives the orders and I take them. There is no free will involved. It’s a matter of honor." He leveled the arrow at Venus' chest. "Now would you be so kind as to die." He released the molten projectile and Venus froze as it soared at her.
"Shine Aqua Illusion!" The arrow was surrounded in a cascade of water and extinguished inches from Sailor Venus. Her bow had been singed at the edges. "Stop this right now," Sailor Mercury said. "You don't have to listen to everything she says. There is no honor in attacking us."
"You are a foolish little girl, and weak at that. You are the most pathetic of the pathetic. What purpose do you serve; certainly we are all better without you." He leveled another arrow at her.
"I don't think so," she replied. She raised her arm above her and her eyes fell shut. "Double Mercury Ice Storm Blast!"
She twirled around and swung a huge wave at Thyrei as he released the arrow. It was enveloped in the wave and fell as solid ice to the ground just as the wave reached Thyrei.
He had turned to run but had only taken one step before being frozen in place. The bubble around Sailor Moon collapsed and she fell two feet to the ground with a thud. By now Sailor Jupiter had come to and was being helped to stand by Venus. Mars was lying on her stomach, the burns exposed to the open air, her face quiet and calm.
"I don't know why your Mistress sent you here to destroy us, but I won't let you hurt me or my friends any more!" Sailor Mercury was screaming at the frozen figure. Never in her life could she recall being so angry, but there was a twinge of pity there too. “Why feel pity,” she thought, “for someone so pathetic that they can't act on their own accord?”
"Damn you,” she screamed in frustration, “you
are the weak one!" She touched her hand to her ear and brought her visor across. She read the display. “He is weakest near his heart,” she realized, examining the data, “figures.” The visor continued clicking figures away as she folded her arms in front of her, "Mercury Aqua Mirage!"
She opened her eyes as she released the violent aquatic attack. A bright blue light was flashing in the corner of her visor's screen and when she looked up at Thyrei, she saw the shocking stat flashing, "Human. Human. Human."
"No!" she cried out, "No stop!" She dashed towards the frozen figure but her attack was far faster. It shook the ground on contact and the sound of the shattering ice was ear splitting. The others hit the ground as shards of razor sharp ice flew like tiny daggers through the air. Sailor Moon cried out for Mercury to get down but she was set on reaching who she could only assume was Derek consumed by this evil man.
Tiny scrapes began to appear all over her exposed skin and droplets of blood formed; her sailor senshi outfit was ripped to shreds bit by bit. As the angry rush of the attack settled Sailor Mercury fell beside the fallen Thyrei. He still had the appearance of the Minister and his eyes were still harsh and crimson. But somewhere behind all the cruelty, Mercury could sense Derek was there. Through her visor she could see it was Derek, trapped. She threw herself down beside him and began using her ripped clothes to bandage his millions of tiny scratches all the while sobbing.
"Forgive me," she whispered, "Had I known...oh God, I'm so sorry..." She realized her efforts were useless; she couldn't do this alone. She stood up, "Sailor Moon?" Her voice was pleading and filled with all the hope she had left. Sailor Moon walked over to her and touching her hand to Mercury's cheek, nodded. She stepped back.
"Moon Healing Escalation!" With the Ginzuishou and her moon wand, Sailor Moon released some energy to try to heal Derek. She had to be careful no to use too much of the energy or else expend her own life force. Slowly, the man on the ground faded back into the image of Derek. Sailor Mercury closed her visor and knelt beside him but Sailor Moon began to feel weak and was forced to stop. She fell to her knees where she stood and rested there, waiting and watching.
His voice was a mere whisper. Mercury had to put her ear right to his lips to hear him, "At least we got to be together again," he breathed, "I will always think of you, my Ami-chan." She clutched his hand tight and looked into his eyes as a tear rolled down her face. She could see his pain even more through those eyes and was surprised when she saw him smile. He lifted his arm and turned her face to him, "I love you." Softly, he kissed her and then he laid his head back. She was overcome with uncertain calm, and nodded, "I love you too. It's okay for you to go." With that reassurance, he closed his eyes and stopped the fight. As his hand hit the pavement a sob broke out from Mercury's throat. She cried his name out to the empty night sky and the stars above seemed to dim for just that moment. The others turned away.
Chapter VII: Twisted Fate