By Saturn Knight
The night wasn't easy for the girls. Both of them squeezed on the tiny
bed in the darkness of Hotaru's room; the rhythmic hissing of the respirator paired with
the beat of the heart monitor made for a symphony of restlessness.
"UGH, that beeping is driving me crazy!" Usagi said in the darkness, "I can't
sleep with it! I want to SLEEEEP!" She glared at the offending device, but was
reprimanded by an angry Chibi.
"If that thing stops beeping, you'll get a few hours of sleep…. but Hotaru will
never wake up…. now stop complaining and block it out." The tiny girl curled onto her
side and tried to do the same, but was finding it very difficult. She sighed again,
wondering what Hotaru is thinking, what she's seeing, what she's hearing, what she's
feeling. Eyes glancing to the window, to the sky that was slowly losing it's inky
blankness in favor of a mild purple as the sun was creeping up over the horizon, she
stared at the slowly brightening sky for a time, before her eyes closed she didn't reopen
Chibi's sleep was tormented, torturous, and troubled. She had visions of a
happy, almost mocking future of herself, around Usagi's age. Seeing herself at her sweet
sixteen party surrounded by the other Senshi and her friends, as she was opening the
presents from a large stack on a nearby table, and the others were standing around her,
two were sitting on the sofa next to her: Hotaru to her right, and Usagi to her left. She
was flanked by Haruka and Michi who stood behind the sofa, Michi against Haruka's
chest, cradled in her arms, both of them smiling brightly.
The inners, too, were there. Ami, as always, was telling them to be sensible
about what they're eating, her voice was as clear as always, "Minako! You shouldn't be
eating so much cake!" Her lips pursed slightly as she looked at the senshi of love with a
huge piece of chocolate cake in her hands, half of it in her mouth.
"Mmh! Mm-mm mmh!" Mina mumbled over the massive piece of cake in her
mouth, narrowing her eyes at Ami, but with everyone laughing at her, she soon blushed.
"Why not just rub it on your thighs, Minako?" Makoto chimed from the
armchair where she sat with a large glass of cherry soda. "That's where it's headed
anyhow," the brown haired girl quipped to her friend before taking another drink from
Chibi glanced over a single, black velvet box sitting on the table near her.
Blinking gently, she reached her hand out and picked it up, studying it carefully before
spotting a tag on the bottom, "To my best friend. Love always, Hotaru." She grinned
widely before opening the box, and gasping at the contents.
The other senshi all stared at her with piqued curiosity at what was in the box,
including the outers, save Hotaru, who looked away with a smile. Reflecting the light
back on Chibi's face was a small, silver locket in the shape of a heart, her name engraved
across the surface in calligraphy. "Oh my…" was her only reaction at first, before her
hand reached up and opened the locket. On one side of the locket was a picture of Hotaru,
and on the other was a picture of Chibi. "Hotaru it's beautiful…thank you." She stood up
and moved to her, "Put it on me, please?" Hotaru nodded quickly and reached her hands
up to take it; she could feel the other senshi's eyes on her as she placed her arms around
Chibi's neck. Chibi felt the warm, smooth touch of Hotaru's fingertips as she fumbled
gently with the clasp, but as the clasp closed the sensation changed.
Trying to pull back to show the locket off, she caught some resistance, not
physically restraining Chibi, but rather like something was hung around her neck heavier
than it should be, as if Hotaru's limp hands were holding onto her.
"You ok, Hotaru?" Chibi asked, wondering if her friend had a fainting spell or
something, but Chibi received no answer. Reaching up to pull Hotaru's hands away, to
help her to a bed, Chibi stated aloud, "Someone help me here, I think Hotaru fainted…"
but, again, silence was her answer.
Fingers curling around Hotaru's wrists, Chibi jumped at the sensation. They
weren't as smooth and soft as they were before… they were dry and brittle, and as she
pulled back, the hands cracked and slumped lifelessly to the side of the couch. The thick,
tangible silence was shattered with Chibi's scream her eyes fell on Hotaru…or rather,
what Hotaru had become laying lifelessly on the couch.
What once had been a beautiful, lively young woman, remained nothing more
than a set of grayed, decaying bones dressed in the costume of the Saturn senshi.
Hollowed, dark sockets that stared blankly at Chibi's terrified form, the jaw still attached
to her face causing the skull to grin knowingly at the pink haired woman who stood
petrified in the center of the room. "What's the matter Chibi?" the former Hotaru said,
her voice floating eerily on the chill air, sounding pained and distant. The head turned
slowly, stomach-churning crack sounded before her eye sockets began glowing with a
faint purple light.
Turning quickly to face the rest of the senshi, she was greeted only with a
similar horror everywhere she looked. Each of the senshi in various states of decay and
death, rotted flesh hung from dried bones in all directions. "What's wrong, Chibi-Usa?"
Michi's voice too oozed over the still air, "Our daughter isn't good enough to be your
friend any more? Don't you know she saved all her money to buy you that locket? And
this is all you can do to repay her?!" Michi's sockets flared green a moment, then picked
up in intensity.
"N- no…" Chibi managed to choke out, her voice shaking, until it climbed in
urgency, "but…. what's going on here?!" she shrieked at the top of her lungs, but only
got a cruel chuckle from the living corpses that started to close in around her. Their bony
fingers began to grasp for her body, causing her to writhe and struggle, but this only
leading her to slam into another…they had her trapped. Tears began to stream down her
face as she tried desperately to fight her way out of the circle, only to be thrown harshly
back in by inhuman strength.
"Aw…look at the little ingrate cry," Usagi said as she picked up the knife that
was used to cut the cake, her grotesquely misshapen hands, deformed by decay, gripping
the handle tightly. Holding the weapon high, Usagi grinned; metal blade reflected the
light menacingly over the frosting covering the steel. "We'll give you a reason to cry!"
the hiss of the blade carving through the air sliced the silence, caused Chibi's eyes to
widen and cry out in vain.
The sound of the point slamming into her chest woke her with a start, causing
her to fall off the bed and onto the cold, hard tile landing with a pronounced yelp that
woke Usagi. Chibi's eyes darted around for any sign of something to prove her existence
in this reality, where the senshi were alive and spotted Usagi yawning and staring down
at her, "You ok?"
"Yes!" Chibi answered quickly, staring Usagi down hard. The blonde looked
Chibi over for injury, and caught the glare from her. Chibi stood and began to back away
from Usagi, all the way to the wall, "Just fine!"
"Uh…what's wrong with you? You look like you seen a ghost." Usagi stretched
her slender arms and placed her feet onto the floor. By now the sun had fully risen, and
shone down into the room brilliantly. Chibi checked herself over, and then quickly placed
her hand to her chest, looking for the locket. Nothing. Her sigh of relief cut short as she
noticed Hotaru's bed was gone.
"Where's Hotaru?!" Chibi immediately went to the call button and pressed it a
several times before again having her hand removed once again by Usagi. She waited
impatiently, moving to peek out the door, looking for a nurse. Just as her hand tightened
around the handle with the intent to step outside, the door opened of its own accord,
admitting a doctor… one whom Chibi recognized at a moment's glance to be different to
the one from the previous night. He was dressed the same however, green S.C.R.U.B.s
under a white coat, roughly 35 or so.
"We have some news on your friend…" the man looked directly to Usagi, as
she was older, before turning to Chibi. His eyes were a sea green; soft and delicate,
paired with slightly graying brown hair, clean cut and well shaven. He paused for a
moment glancing down at the chart with a sigh, "We've found an abnormality on the CT
The sweet, rich whisper of a flute woke Hotaru from a deep slumber. Her eyes
fluttered gently as she glanced slowly around another torch-lit room. She was on a soft
mattress in a wall-less, ceiling-less black room very similar to the place she had
previously been. Rising to a sitting position, she saw a figure sitting on a chair adjacent to
the bed, the man who had wielded her glaive before.
The music stopped.
"So you're finally awake…" The man said, his voice as smooth as the flute was.
His mask was still on, though his clothing was different from, black still, but it wasn't
bloody. He was sitting close to the bed, his legs crossed, looking over her. He didn't
speak after this, only watched her motions carefully, not cautiously, but he seemed
curious about her.
"Who are you…?" Her voice was weak, it shook gently with a combination of
fear, uncertainty, and exhaustion, "...and where am I?" The youth looked thoughtful for a
moment, rubbing his chin through the thin cloth mask that shrouded his identity. He
looked a bit like Mamoru, now that Hotaru thought about it.
"No…I'm not Mamoru." His voice sounded as soon as Hotaru had the thought
manifested in her head, "My name is Seisen." He paused for a second regarding the latter
question, thinking of how to answer her, while she sat dumbstruck at the way he detected
her thoughts. "I suppose the best way to describe this place would be the astral plane."
"Astral plane…? Isn't that the out-of-body thing?" her violet eyes looked him
over, not really buying this astral plane business, but…where else could she be? This
wasn't like anywhere she's ever been before.
"Yes…something like that. However, there are some differences between the
out-of-body and our existence here. You didn't come here from your own will, like I did,
and you weren't brought here because you died in what you perceive as the 'real world.'
You came here because something else brought you here. It wasn't me, I'm sure you'd
thought that already," which, in actuality was the first thing that came to her mind as he
suggest it. It was starting to frighten her that he could so easily read her mind. "That
creature you witnessed earlier is what brought you here."
"Why would it want to… do that?" her eyes glanced away, her tone
melancholy, and frightened. "I'm just a girl…" She glanced away, careful not to think of
herself being a senshi, but instead thought of a lamp she owned at home, not wanting to
give herself away. "Why would it want me?" She recalled in detail the base of the lamp.
"Very interesting lamp." The youth chuckled lightly, "You are very clever, but
I already know who…or rather, what, you are; there is no use in trying to deceive me, but
be certain I'm not here to harm you." Her mouth dropped open, and she sputtered a
moment, trying to think of a way to explain that she wasn't something special. Her
attempts at protest were cut short when he held up his hand. "Don't… you don't have to
make excuses, or try to hide what you are."
"How do I know you're not here to hurt me…?" she edged carefully away from
him, but couldn't get too far on her weak hands. He shook his head, glancing to his side
then back to her.
"Here…" he reached down onto the floor and picked up something, then
thought better of it as Hotaru tensed. "It's nothing to hurt you…trust me." She didn't ease
any when he put his flute onto his lap and used both hands to lift the object. Her eyes
narrowed onto the flash of silver from her glaive.
"That's-- she started, but stopped when he nodded to her.
"Your glaive…very nice, actually." His eyes wandered the weapon for a
moment, before turning it in his hands, so the blade faced inwards toward himself
"Here." His left hand extended the grip of the weapon to her, carefully aiming it away
from her body due to the large spike at the end of it. "It's yours anyhow."
"Yes…" she reached her hand tentatively out to the weapon and placed it
around the grip before sliding it onto the bed next to her since she couldn't lift it with her
fatigued muscles. "Why did you have it?"
"A very good question," His eyes smiled, though his mouth couldn't be seen
from behind the mask, "Well, when you don't have it with you, it does go somewhere
you know. All the senshi's weapons reside here when not in use; this way no one can get
their hands on them. The first breech happened today with that creature, but it will not be
happening again. I have seen to that." His eyes wandered to a dark part of the room, then
back to Hotaru.
"Are you some kind of security guard or something? And why did that creature
want my weapon…?" She too, let her eyes then move to the blackness that cause his own
attention before tearing her eyes it, to focus back on his eyes.
"Yes, and no. I am not required to guard the weapons, but I don't let anything
near them. Not that it was a problem until today. "It wanted your weapon because that
was the only certain way of calling you here; it was only a matter of time, having gotten
its hands on the weapon, before you could be brought here…" His hands folded in his lap
over his flute.
"Why would it want me here…?" This was starting to make some sense, but
still a bit hard to believe, it made her head spin. She left her hand on her glaive, its
presence making her feel much better than had she been alone.
"It wanted to kill you," Seisen told her dryly. "If it killed you here, it would
have killed your spirit, thus preventing you from being reborn. When you are here, you
are physical, tangible, much like you would be back home." His hand moved to his chest,
patting it gently, "But I'm sure you saw that, anyhow."
"Why did you stop it?" Her eyes moved to his chest, where he touched. He
should have been dead; that wound wouldn't have simply closed on it's own.
"Would you rather I let it kill you?" he chuckled lightly, shaking his head.
"And my wound is healed. You're not the only one with a healing power, Firefly."
"You can heal too?" He had her attention now, and she sat up straighter against
the mass of pillows on her bed; it made her think he had gone a bit too far to make sure
she was comfortable.
"Yes…you saw what other power I have. Does it look familiar to you? Only
difference is that your power moves on the circle of life. Your revolution is meant to
show that everything lives, and then it will die." He paused a moment, adjusting his
sitting position by uncrossing his legs. "My power lies on a single side of that, either life,
or death, never both.
"Why do you have the powers I do?" Her eyes narrowed in confusion, and she
fidgeted, wanting to work out the stiffness that deadened her limbs.. Seisen studied her a
moment, his black eyes softening as he looked over her face. She was so weak, so frail,
but so completely powerful…after all Hotaru was both sides of the coin, much like her
"Well…" he paused a moment, reaching his hands behind his head to untie the
mask's ribbon that held the dark mask to his face. He let the top of the mask fall to reveal
his nose and mouth, running his hand through his dark black and purple hair.. His face
was sharp, boasting well chiseled features, but still seemed very much innocent. "It's a
long story, but it would be a bit odd that you have powers when your genetic copy
"What do you mean you found an abnormality?" Usagi eyed the doctor
as she spoke. Chibi stood looking up between two, not exactly sure how she should react.
"Well, it appears there some trauma as her head hit the ground, causing her
brain to swell a bit. This could be completely harmless, or it could lead to possible brain
damage. Amnesia, paralysis…death." He quickly looked away from them as he spoke the
word "death", not wanting to watch their reaction. Usagi decided immediately that she
didn't like this doctor.
"How can something range from nothing to death? It doesn't make sense."
Usagi cried, narrowing her eyes at the doctor. "Just do whatever you have to do to make
sure she'll be fine" Usagi narrowed her eyes at the doctor, who shifted uneasily under her
The doctor shifted uneasily under her glare, shaking his head. "We can't…until
the guardian decides what is best for the child, we simply cannot take any action,
otherw—" Usagi's jaw dropped with disbelief that they would play God to simply await
an order from the guardian. "If this was an emergency, or something of the sort, we
could…" He began to stammer, sweat forming on his brow from the steadily-increasing
heat of Usagi's glare.
"What do you mean IF this was an emergency? She could DIE! What does she
have to do for you to consider it an emergency!? I don't believe this!" Her hands curled
into fists as she began to advance on the doctor, her mind simply refusing to take what
the doctor claimed to be as the only solution. Chibi, now fully understanding the gravity
of the situation began to move on the doctor as well, on her mother's left side to block the
"Well….what I mean to say is that it-it has to be a trauma b-before we can do
much…" the doctor's back hit the wall, and he swallowed hard as he was stared down by
Usagi, and flanked by a pink haired child. The blonde girl's left eye twitched, and she
stopped suddenly in her tracks, glancing away from the doctor to the ground, her mind
giving her a possible solution.
"Well then," Ceasing her forward motion, Usagi grew eerily calm as she smiled
knowingly up at the doctor…" Chibi stopped and looked up at her; the cool, steely
manner of her mother made her remember her dream and caused her to shudder, but she
didn't speak. "I guess I'll just have to let you have your way…I'll just go make a phone
call." Usagi said to the doctor, who was more than a bit surprised at her sudden change in
"If you're trying to call this Haruka person, the phone isn't being answered."
The doctor stepped from the wall and straightened his coat nervously.
"Oh no…I'm not going to call Haruka." She placed her hand on Chibi's
shoulder, but was taken slightly aback as Chibi stepped away from her. Usagi let it pass
for now, but continued, "I'm going to call a lawyer. Do the phrases 'Malpractice,' and
'wrongful death' mean anything to you, doc?" She was now very glad Ami had a big
mouth and insisted on babbling to Usagi and the others. The doctor's eyes went wide, and
he opened his mouth to speak, only finding himself quickly silenced… "Should
ANYTHING, God forbid, happen to Hotaru…you will be very, VERY sorry. And my
first task as the owner of Hotaru Tomoe memorial hospital will be to fire you."
"Well…" the nervous man began to shake visibly, and Usagi began to wonder
exactly how long he had been a doctor, and if this was the first bad news he'd delivered.
"I suppose this can be treated as a trauma…"
"Yes…and if it isn't a trauma, it can become one…not hers, of course, but I
think I can handle you." Usagi said with a smile and a tilt of her head, "Now run along
and have the nurses get a real doctor in here, 'Kay?" Usagi surprised even herself,
thinking that what she just did would be more suited for maybe Rei, or possibly Haruka,
but never herself. It made her feel good. She brushed past the doctor on her way out, and
Chibi looked up at the man a moment, before following her mother, leaving the
dumbfounded man in the white coat glancing sheepishly at his feet.
"M…my genetic copy? A clone? You're a man, though." Hotaru looked
the face of the man who sat before her, his black eyes closed. "I don't understand…"
"I didn't expect you to…I'll explain in a moment. Would you like something to
drink? I have some juice here if you'd like some." He said, and waited as Hotaru
considered his offer. But as she shook her head in rejection, Seisen turned his head away
from her, feeling a bit dejected. "Alright…well, I suppose I should start at the beginning,
"When you died in the lab explosion…you were not supposed to recover. It was
no accident that the place was blown up. However, your father sold his soul to have you
reborn, and thus placed a great evil in you, and in him. Now here's where I come in…"
Pausing a moment to gather his thoughts, he allowed his rich black eyes to slowly move
over the weakened girl in front of him. "You've heard the theory 'for every action, there
is an equal and opposite reaction', right? Well, that's me. I'm your reaction. You were
reanimated as per the agreement your father made, but you became Mistress 9."
"Yes…" Hotaru didn't like discussing the time period she was Mistress 9, it
caused her to recall fuzzy memories that had no real place in her mind. It only tormented
her and caused horrid nightmares.
"Fearing you were too powerful to be stopped by the senshi, I was created by
another force to counter balance your existence." A shadow crossed his dark features as
he glanced away, looking towards the sword that leaned against the chair near him. "I
was created to kill you."
"To kill me?" Hotaru's fears returned as she increased the grip on her glaive,
thinking she was a fool to have trusted him…to sit and talk. Seisen, upon sensing her
discomfort and sudden mistrust, sighed deeply, shaking his head.
"Yes… I was created using your base DNA, but XY rather than XX…to receive
your power plus increased physical strength due to being a man. You were raised as
Mistress 9, and I was told that you were my enemy, that you were the plague of
mankind…harsh I know, but I bought into it. I was brought up in the way of the
warrior…trained daily to strengthen mind, body, and spirit so that one day I would be
able to kill you with little difficulty. However…I did all of this knowing that you were
my 'sister'. Since we are of basically the same DNA, there isn't another way to phrase
it." Hotaru let her eyes fall away; that would explain why he was defending her, and the
mass of pillows that was bigger than she was, but it still didn't make enough sense. "The
day Usagi and the others encountered 9; I was there to make sure they succeeded. If they
failed I was to finish the job. When it comes down to power, you can beat me out any
day, since I'm just a copy. But, since I wasn't biologically produced, I don't have some
of your…" thinking of the best way of phrasing it, but only finding himself able to
express himself clinically, "your physical weaknesses."
Seisen looked her directly in the eye, his dark, but enchantingly innocent
features growing even more distraught as she instantly turned away. "I'm not going to
hurt you…" His voice was small, pained. His lack of tact and instant distress proved he
wasn't used to dealing with people.
"You just said you were supposed to kill me." Hotaru frowned as she turned to
her glaive once more, her fingertips gently moving over the smooth metal of the blade.
"Now you say you won't hurt me. I don't know what to believe."
"I was created to kill Mistress 9. She doesn't exist anymore, so my existence is
pretty much useless." Seisen shrugged and leaned back in his chair, closing his eyes with
his hands behind his head. Hotaru glanced from him to the glaive by her side; his
vulnerable position might let her wound him and flee to find some way to get back home.
"You can, if you like…you'd probably be doing me a favor," his eyes slowly
opened to look at her, "I won't stop you if you try." With his hands still behind his head,
he pulled the ribbon on the mask once more around his head and tied it into place, again
concealing his features, his eyes again closed..
"What do you want from me? I don't understand all of this… You don't let it
kill me, but you were supposed to kill me…you go out of your way to make me feel
comfortable." Hotaru let her eyes move from him to the darkness of the room, looking for
any possible exit, or a portal of some kind. "I just want to go home."
"Then I'll take you home, but leave your glaive here. You can't take it with
you, but it will be safe." He stood up, flute in hand, and stretched his body. He was tall, at
least as tall as Mamoru, and his build was above average, which did fit his story to
Hotaru. Picking up his sword, he slung the sheath around his body and latched it into
place, where it was in reach of his right hand over his shoulder. "Come on," he said,
placing the flute in a slot on the sheath's strap, which crossed his chest from right to left.
"They should be happy to see you…"
Making their way along the darkness of the astral plane, Seisen guiding the way
past the torches that lined each room, and crossed the paths of others like a roadway
system. Hotaru was weak, and only shuffling along behind Seisen by will power. More
than once collapsed under her own weight, only to be caught by a blinding motion of the
ninja-dressed youth who offered he carry her, but she adamantly refused.
"We're almost there," the black-eyed man looked up at a portal that swirled in
the darkness, purple spinning in a clockwise fashion, drawing in the very light that
surrounded them. Gusts of wind began to pull at the two as they neared the portal. The
long ribbons of Seisen's mask began to flutter around his face, just as Hotaru's hair did
the same, but her weakness caused her to drop to her knees. Seisen turned to regard her
for a moment, and shadow crossed his face as he drew his sword and faced the girl fully.
The black blade of the sword shimmered with a crackle of purple electricity as Seisen flat
out charged Hotaru, enough power and speed to physically counter the portal's pull,
making the air still for a fraction of a second before his powerful sword thrust came
hailing down just above Hotaru's head.
She had long enough to think, "I'm dead," before the blade met flesh.
On the flight from Japan to the United States, Haruka and Michiru sat
in the plane, hoping for the best, but fearing the worst. They had been in the air for what
seemed like forever; the hospital had called them the night before and they had caught the
first plane to anywhere in the US, which landed in New York in about 20 minutes.
"Sir?" the flight attendant regarded Haruka, her bright green eyes and sugary-
sweet smile shone down on the shorthaired woman. Haruka played it off, not bothering to
explain she was a woman, nor caring at the moment. "Would you like something to
drink? A soda? A glass of wine maybe?"
"No, thank you. I'm alright." Haruka answered, and the woman, undaunted,
inquired if Michi would like something. She likewise refused politely though she was
being destroyed inside. She didn't want to have to do this again; she couldn't take things
like this. Why Hotaru? kept going through her head.
"We land in 20 minutes," Michi checked her watch, "We can catch another
plane to Maine, or we can just get a bullet ca- a cab, rather."
Haruka just closed her eyes and sighed, "We'll take a cab. We don't need to
wait for another plane… I hope they can drive fast."
Usagi now stood impatiently at the nurse's station, her tautly-crossed arms
dangerous expression warning everyone she was not to be toyed with at the current time.
Taking a lesson from her daughter, she began the same full on assault on the bell Chibi
did only a few hours beforehand. "Hello! I need a doctor! A REAL doctor who CARES!"
She turned to glare at Hotaru's room in time to see the man slipping out of the room like
a weasel, and scurry into a lounge to avoid a confrontation with Usagi.
A nurse came to regard Usagi and looked to the pink haired girl. The whole
floor knew what room they were from; it was not very often that you find a small midget
girl with pink hair done in ondangos. "Yes? A doctor will be right with you, Doctor
White just called and said he will no longer be on the trauma case, but to have someone
look at her right away." Usagi nodded in triumph, feeling much better about herself, and
the situation, though Chibi only regarded her with a wary glance, her dream still not
shaken so easily.
"Where's Hotaru?" Usa finally managed to ask the nurse, standing on her tip
toes to see over the counter. And ensued a verbal exchange that must have broken the
sound barrier at some point.
"What's she doing there?"
"Getting another cat scan."
"When will she be out,"
"When it's done."
"Don't you talk to her like that!"
"I don't know when she'll be out!"
"Then find out!"
"I would ma'am, but I can't just call and ask them to hurry!"
"No, but you can call and ask them how long it's going to take!"
"I'm busy right now,"
"Doing what? All I've seen you do is eat that nasty little salad."
"Maybe you should get a salad, it might improve your temper."
"Salads are not food! Vegetables are what food eat!"
"I have to go now, I'll have someone in her room shortly,"
"We'll be waiting."
"Don't hold your breath,"
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