Guess what, everyone! It took me 6 agonizing months to crank out this part - but it's done! *Renee jumps around the room caroling for joy* Man - I didn't think that this part would be so hard to write! I think I lost myself in there somewhere, had two major writing slumps. It was not much fun. I apologize for how long it took me to finish this, and I thank you all for waiting as patiently as you have. :) Part 4 shouldn't take quite as long to crank out, I hope...

Dedication: Sherri, this one's for you. *^_^* If it weren't for you, I probably would have given up on this part, many times over - your comments and advice were of incalculable value. *HUG~~~~~~~~~* (Wow, this is the first time I've done a dedication...)

I'd also like to thank everyone who has responded to me over e-mail to tell me what they think of my writing - it's been wonderful to know that people out there are actually reading this stuff and enjoying it. :)

Disclaimer: None of the Sailor Moon characters belong to me. The four Captains (I know there's only three - I'm counting Torrin in here), General Maloreon, Relli, Leea, and anyone else I forgot, do. Please don't use them without my permission. :) If you want to post this story on your page, feel free! Just don't forget to let me know, so I can come visit! :)

Generals' Hour: Part 3

Outside of Healer Hall, a battle raged. A seriously irate Captain of the Royal Army had most of his attention focused on a different, far more important battle. "It's just a scratch! For goodness' sake, people! You didn't need to snatch me off my post! There's a war going on out there! Or hadn't you noticed?" seethed Captain Roland.

A green robed Healer suddenly looked up from her station nearby, "Roland? That you? What'd you do this time?"

Roland gritted his teeth, "Nothing. Nothing. It's just a scratch. There's nothing wrong with me. Nothing."

The Healer smiled, "You sound so sure of that. Why don't you let me take a look so we can clear it up, hmm?"

Roland opened his mouth to object and then closed it. He had enough of a latent Healer's Gift to know that his wound actually would need a Healer's attention, for all that it was just a scratch. He acquiesced.

The Healer walked over and pulled back the blanket. Roland's left leg sported a nasty looking gash from hip to ankle. The Healer placed her hands on his left leg, under his knee. She whistled through her teeth, "Man, Roland! You sure don't do things by halves, do you? It's a good thing they did pull you off your post! Another hour and you might have bled to death!" She started massaging the back of his knee, encouraging the Healing to start. Within minutes the wound had begun to close. Her Healing finished, the Healer grabbed a roll of bandages and began to dress what remained of the wound.

Roland relaxed, much of the pain gone. "Thanks Leea. I appreciate you helping me, but is it possible-"

Leea's pace didn't slow, but she smoothly interrupted with a firm, "Not on your life, pal. I didn't patch you up to have you go run off and destroy my handiwork. General Zoisite can do without her Head Captain for the rest of the battle. I mean, what would she think? A MasterHealer, specially trained by herself, who let a wounded man go back out to fight, mere minutes after being Healed? Uh-uh. No way." She shook her head for emphasis.

Roland growled, "Somehow, I didn't think so." He let his body drop back onto the cot.

Leea allowed herself a sly smile. Crossing her fingers behind her back, she assumed an innocent expression, "You know, Roland, I think I may have something for you to do around here, if you're up to it..."

He sat straight up, "Anything, Leea! Anything would be fine!"

She laughed at his eagerness, "Don't like to sit around idle, do you? Just as well. I need someone on comm duty. We had to recruit our normal communications officer to cut bandages. It's a bit inconvenient not having someone monitoring the channels for "Mayday" calls. You game?"

"Count me in! Anything to keep busy."

Leea laughed again and dragged an armchair and footstool over to the comm station, "You'll probably be here awhile, so you may as well be comfortable," she arranged him carefully in the chair, "If you need anything just yell." He nodded enthusiastically.

Leea smiled and turned to leave, when a totally unexpected sight assaulted her eyes. General Nephlyte and Captain Zafir had burst through the main door carrying a wounded man. She ran over and tried to reach their unconscious burden. The sudden press of people wouldn't allow her access. She stared, helpless, from the fringes of the crowd. She caught Zafir's eyes and sent a silent plea for help. He caught her gaze and tugged on Nephlyte's sleeve. He pointed at her and said something to Nephlyte that she didn't catch. Nephlyte nodded and quite suddenly the crowd parted. Nephlyte didn't often use his telekinetic powers, but he certainly knew how to put them to work effectively when he did.

The General motioned for her to come over. She walked through the parted crowd and knelt down. She let out a small gasp. The half-dead person at her feet was none other than General Malachite, himself. Leea suddenly didn't feel up to the task. Zafir caught her hesitation and put a hand on her shoulder, "What's wrong, Leea?"

She gulped, "I can't do this, Zafir. I'm not good enough to Heal something this bad!"

"We need Zoisite," he stated bluntly.

She nodded, unable to speak.

"Damn," he whispered. He walked over to Nephlyte and explained the situation. Nephlyte knelt next to a trembling Leea, "Can you keep him stable until Zoisite can get here?"

She shook her head slowly, "Not for more than a couple of hours."

"That should be enough," he reassured her. He looked out a window, "And it looks like the fighting is breaking up for some reason. Maybe it's over." He turned to Zafir, a conflict in his eyes - find Zoisite or stay with Malachite. At this point he didn't know which to do. Seeing the problem, Zafir volunteered to look for Zoisite. Roland piped up from the comm console, "Can't we just call her over the comm channels? Oh wait, she usually turns off her comm unit if she's in the thick of the fighting. Damn."

Zafir walked over to him, "You've got the right idea, though, Roland. Put a continuous call through for her on the emergency channel. I'll go out and look for her at the same time. One of us will eventually get to her. OK?"

Roland nodded, "Sounds good."

"Great," Zafir unsheathed his sword and jogged out towards the now emptying field of battle.

Nephlyte picked up his friend and carried him into the nearest room with Leea in tow. As soon as Malachite was settled on the bed, Leea set to work trying to keep him alive until the cavalry could arrive.

Zoisite carefully took stock of herself and her surroundings. No major injuries. That's a blessing. She turned around and slowly dropped to the ground when she saw the carnage around her. Dead and dying people lay strewn over the field of battle like toys dropped by an irresponsible child. She crawled over to the nearest person and felt for a pulse. She didn't find one. Taking a closer look at the man's face, the General realized that the man was one of her Lieutenants. She swallowed, hard. I think I am going to be sick, she thought.

She stood up and began searching for her Head Captain. He was nowhere to be found. She added a vocal call, hoping that whatever state he was in, Roland would hear it. "Roland! Where are you? Roland!" She continued looking, hoping to find some clue.

A low groan drew her attention to the right. She bent down near the young woman, "Diana?" Zoisite put her fingers to the woman's neck and found the pulse was strong, "Captain Diana? Can you hear me? It's General Zoisite."

Diana cracked an eyelid open, "Huh? I'm up, Mom. Don't worry. I won't be late for school..."

Zoisite laughed, in spite of the dire situation, "Diana? I don't have any children. And even if I did, you're not young enough to be one of them."

"General Zoisite!" Diana sat bolt upright, cracking her head on the bottom of the General's chin.

Now it was Zoisite's turn to groan, "Owww..."

"Sorry, sir," Diana was all remorse, "I didn't realize you were so close."

"That's all right, Captain. One more bruise won't kill me. Do you think you can stand?"

"Yes, sir. I think so."

"All right. Just take it slowly, Diana. You've got a minor concussion. You'll feel dizzy for awhile," Zoisite cautioned.

"No problem, sir," Diana replied. Once the Captain was on her feet, she had a brief fight with her own nausea, "Oh Great Jupiter! Are any of these people alive?"

"Yes. If you think you can stand on your own, now, then I should call Healer Hall and get the trauma teams out here."

"Yes, sir. I think I can manage that."

"Good," Zoisite pulled her comm unit out and switched it on. The emergency light started flashing. "Damn," she swore, I wonder how long that's been on. Quickly, Zoisite opened a channel to Healer Hall. To her immense relief, her Head Captain's friendly face stared back at her over the channel.

"General? That you? We've been callin' you for hours! What the heck happened to you?" he yelled.

"Berate me later, Roland. This field is literally littered with wounded and we need to get the trauma teams out here as of yesterday. Got it?" she paused, "And what are you doing on comm duty in Healer Hall, anyway? I've been worried sick about you!"

He held up his left leg so it was in the field of view, "The dear Princess took a slice at me when she had Mercury coat the area with her fog bubbles. I remembered to warn my men to get out of the way, but I didn't move fast enough myself. Pretty slick, huh?" he grimaced.

"Does it hurt?" Zoisite asked.

"No," he said sarcastically. Then he made a face at her, "Literally littered, General?"

"I'm sorry for the terrible alliteration, oh high king of grammar! I'll do better next time!" Zoisite looked up when she saw the trauma teams begin teleporting in. "Oh good, the teams are here. Now why were you calling me on the emergency channel?"

Roland's cheerful expression dropped from his face, "We need you here. Big time. General Nephlyte and Captain Zafir just brought General Malachite in. He got trashed pretty badly. MasterHealer Leea is keeping him stable, but she's not good enough to actually Heal his wounds. That was about four hours ago, and he's not lookin' so good, anymore."

Zoisite went pale, "Oh great Mother Goddess! I'll be there as soon as I can teleport in." She ended the communication and looked up at Diana. Diana's face was grim. Zoisite answered the question in her eyes, "I'm going. Now. Everything else can wait. If we lose Malachite, we're all screwed. And you need to have that head looked at, so you're coming with me." With that, she grabbed Diana's arm and teleported to Healer Hall.

Upon arrival at the Receiving Yard, Zoisite grabbed a green robe off the rack and ran into the main building. She "looked" for Leea's power signature and teleported directly to it. Even her macabre thoughts had not prepared her for the awful reality of General Malachite's wounds. She sat down quietly on the bed.

Leea didn't look up, but she noticed Zoisite's presence, "Zoie? I need help here," she gathered her thoughts, "He's got a massive gut wound - looks like the work of a mighty sharp sword. I think he got clipped by some sort of laser beam-"

"Or a 'Venus Crescent Beam'," Nephlyte interjected, bitterly. Diana put a comforting hand on her General's shoulder and he reached up a hand to give her a pat, "Glad to see you're OK, Diana. Wouldn't want to have to train a new Head Captain with all that's going on." His voice was rough with suppressed tears. Diana gave him a hug.

Leea cleared her throat, "Anyway, he's got a host of internal injuries, he's lost a lot of blood, and he's in shock. I don't know what else to do for him - I didn't know if I should risk any drugs..." Zoisite took over, "You did the right thing, Leea. From here you can leave him to me," she glanced around the room, "Would you mind leaving me alone with him? It's hard for me to concentrate with everyone else in here."

Everyone, except Nephlyte, left the room. Zoisite frowned, "That meant you too, Nephlyte."

"Perhaps. But I don't intend to leave him, again. I did once, and look what happened. Besides," he shrugged, "his mind will need something to focus on, to hold it here until he wakes up."

"What?" she spluttered. "Why you?"

"Why me? Come on, Zoisite. You don't spend thirty-some-odd years soul-bonded to a person and not be able to recognize when he can't anchor his mind in the here-and-now. Wouldn't do you much good if you saved his body, but his mind died," he said dryly.

"Oh right," she blushed, and changed the subject, "You guys were raised as brothers, right?"

"His mother died in childbirth, as far as we know. As for Maloreon, his father... Well, when Malachite was about 2 years old, an "unofficial" legion of Palace soldiers ransacked his home and killed Maloreon. My mom passed by and heard him crying - the soldiers had missed him in the general confusion. She brought him home with her, and that, as they say, was that."

For once, Zoisite was speechless. Her own home and loving parents sprang suddenly to mind. To think of growing up without their gentle care - it was unthinkable. The thought of what it would have been like for him, not to know his own parents... She covered her unease by setting to work. Gently placing her hands on either side of the gaping wound in his stomach, she tackled the internal injuries.

Nephlyte took Malachite's hand in his own and kept vigil over them both.

~~~~~~~ * * * * * * * ~~~~~~~

The dawn was quiet. Calm. Most people lay sleeping in their beds. Never wake before the sun itself, the sun would be insulted and hide its face in the covers. One young man snorting in disgust at the old wives tale, stared out at the splendor of the rising sun. He, alone, of this village knew the truth behind that old wives tale. All it takes is one solar eclipse and a scared young Bard... Pah. What fools. He stared up at the sunrise, a sunrise that shone through atmosphere alone. No crystalline forest to reflect its fiery radiance. No Terran sunrise could compare to a Lunar one in full splendor.

The young man had cursed the turn of fate which had exiled him to this primitive planet. That was before. Now, nearly three years later, he was forced to reevaluate his opinion. Earth had its own natural wonders - warm, vibrant, and comforting. Not like the icy cold beauty of the Moon. She had loved Earth. Only her station in life had prevented his only love from uprooting and moving there. Ironic that it should be he, the aloof, condescending outsider, who should settle in the midst of this rich planet. No, he certainly did not curse his fate anymore. His son deserved a chance at a real life. He deserved to run through fields of grass and apple trees before the pressures of life under the rule of the Silver Millenium claimed him, too.

The young man heard a stirring in the house, Ah, Relli must be up. "Relli! Come here, girl!" With a bound and a leap, a graceful golden dog raced out of the house. She jumped up and licked the man's face. He laughed and petted her. "Easy girl, we don't want to wake the kid, right?" She took up her usual spot, guarding at his feet. Relli had been a last present from his love when he left for Earth with their baby. Trained with the Guardian Dogs and Great Cats of the Moon Kingdom, Relli would probably die before she let anything happen to himself or his son.

A piercing wail shattered the dawn silence, Oops. Woke him up. He went into the house and slipped into his son's room. Wow, he's got a powerful set of lungs. He went over to the bed and lifted his son. He started crooning to him, "Easy. It's OK. Daddy's here. Daddy will protect you. It's OK. Easy." His son's crying soon diminished and then ceased. He heard a light giggle in his ear and his son started wriggling. He uttered the one word that he seemed to love more than anything, "Rell-i! Rell-i!"

The young father sighed at his son’s fickle nature and put him down. The pair instantly scampered off to play in the apple orchard. He sat wearily down on the bed and ran a hand through his hair. One more day to face. One more day without my love. Why us? What was so wrong about us being together? My rank was high enough. I had titles, lands, Royal Honors - what was so wrong about me? Why did they deem me so unworthy? Why must she never know her son? He lay down and closed his eyes.

A loud bang echoed in the stillness. The young man shot up off of the bed and grabbed for his sword - which no longer hung at his side. Damn! Before he had time to plan an escape route the men were in the room. He tried to fight free, but they outnumbered him nearly twenty to one. Two soldiers forced him to his knees before their commander. The commander looked down at him.

The man glared back. The commander laughed, "So, the great General Maloreon, first General of the Royal Army of the Moon - captured at last! What a great jest! We thought to find you in the home of what passes for "nobility" and "royalty" on this planet. And instead we find you in some dirty, little hovel on the edge of a backwater village. What a great joke! Tell me, where is that little bastard brat of yours?"

Maloreon stared back at him, My son! So that's what they want. Damn! My life is already forfeit, but there's no way I'll hand over my son! He looked Captain Torrin straight in the eye and said simply, "General Maloreon, First of the Royal Four, Serial Number 784-35-G." The smile dropped from his former Head Captain's face, "Not funny, General. We're going to find him with or without your cooperation. If you cooperate, I'll give you a merciful death. That's the best I can offer you, now."

"General Maloreon, First of the Royal Four, Serial Number 784-35-G," was his only reply.

The laughing, cruel mask of the Captain cracked, "Dammit, Maloreon! Don't make me do this! Don't make me haul you before the Tribunal! You know what you're charged with - Crimes against the Sanctity of the Royal House of the Moon! You know the punishment! They hate you. They'll want to make an example of you. The very least they'll do is sentence you to be tortured for the gods-only-know how long before they let you die!" Torrin cried, "I don't want to see you brought so low. None of us do. The Army is still yours at its heart. We don't want to see you suffer, but justice must be served."

Torrin knelt down next to Maloreon, who stared straight ahead. Torrin pleaded with him, "If you tell me where the child is, I'll give you a merciful death - to Hell with Justice! I'll say it was an accident - you fought us and it happened during the fight! No one will know!"

Maloreon looked at his Captain, his eyes filled with an infinite sadness, "I knew what my actions would bring when I took them. I was well aware of the consequences. My son makes it all worth it. I can't hand him over to you. He's my son. To Hell with the consequences." He turned away from the Captain and stared ahead.

Torrin stood up and looked down at the General at his feet. He pleaded, "At least tell me his name." Maloreon shook his head. Torrin uttered three words, "So be it." He motioned to the two soldiers and they hauled General Maloreon to his feet and out of the house. When they were well away from it, Torrin raised his hands and called lightnings down on the house. Those who witnessed it swore that he was crying as he did so.

Only two other souls saw the tragedy take place - a small boy and his faithful, golden dog. Relli stared after Maloreon, anguished. She knew she could not save her Master, but she believed that she could save his son. She gave one mournful howl that sent shivers up the spines of the retreating soldiers. Then she grabbed the boy's collar and dragged him to the front of the house. She saw a woman walking down the dirt road in front of the house. She sniffed and wagged her tail ever so slightly. She knew this woman - she had a pup of her own who often came to play with the Master's boy. She nosed the boy into the ruins of the house and started to bark. The woman heard and ran to the house.

"What's the matter, girl? Where's Loreon?" she asked. Just then, the boy started to cry. The woman caught her breath and ran into the house.

Satisfied that the boy would be safe, Relli ran to a secret room in the back of the house. It still stood, she saw with relief. Her whole being was screaming at her to return to her First Master - the Master's love. Endless repeats of the drill had made activating the teleporter easy. She stepped onto the platform and back to the Moon. When her First Master saw her, and realized what must have happened to the Master - she broke down and cried, "Maloreon! No! Oh Goddess, no! My love! My baby! Oh please, no!"

After that night, she was never the same. Her mind began to dwindle and lose its vivacity and rebellious nature. All she could focus on were simple things, like balls, and parties, and dresses. She slowly became what she had always feared becoming - a petty and ordinary noble lady.

The boy, whose very name was unknown to his noble mother, grew in the protection of the Earthwoman, and eventually took his father's place as First of the Four Generals of the Royal Army of the Moon Kingdom, though he did not know it.

~~~~~~~ * * * * * * * * ~~~~~~~

All of this flashed through the drifting mind of the adult who had been that boy. He cringed in horror when he finally saw the face of the woman who was his mother. What this would mean, he couldn't possibly know.

She drifted, every line of her being heavy with exhaustion. I've never performed such a massive Healing before. I think I overreached myself. I feel so drained. Something nudged her. And nudged her again. She heard a hard thump. Something must have fallen on the floor. When an ache began on her bottom, Zoisite realized that she was the something that had fallen on the floor. She pried her eyes open. She was sitting straddle-legged on the floor next to Malachite's bed. Nephlyte still kept his silent vigil. She looked about, trying to figure out how she had fallen off the bed - and encountered a pair of golden brown eyes set in a golden furred face. A face with teeth. She screamed.

Nephlyte jerked up out of the chair, his sword drawn. The face slammed into the floor and paws descended over its ears. Nephlyte looked over at Zoisite and the poor dog moaning in front of her and began to laugh.

Now that she had her bearings, Zoisite saw the humor in the situation. She'd been so drained after Healing Malachite, that the dog had managed to shove her right off the bed. She reached out her hands and scratched behind the dog's ears, "I'm sorry, girl! I didn't mean to scare you. Are you all right?"

The dog wagged her tail once or twice and lolled her tongue out. She whined and looked up at Malachite. After giving Zoisite's hand a lick, she jumped up on his bed. He looked like the Master and the First Master. Of that, there was no doubt. This was the pup. He'd grown into a fine, young man. She sniffed around his face, rememorizing his unique smell. She had tried to tell the First Master that this was her pup on several occasions. She hadn't been successful. She settled down across his legs. To her canine nose, the family tie between them was obvious. Stupid bipeds and their weak noses. Hmph.

With Sailor Pluto's help, Relli had managed to show the pup the events of his sire's last day on Earth. He deserved that much. And she didn't remember the pup being as dense as his mother, maybe he'd figure out who his mother was from that dream. She sighed, She sure hoped so. She picked her head up and looked at the pup again. He sure didn't look good. That color might be healthy for a poodle, but she doubted it was for a human. She licked his face once and jumped off the bed. The Healer-Woman would care for him. She ran off to find her First Master, leaving the pup in capable hands.

Sailor Jupiter slowly stood and stretched. She had checked the field from one end to the other - no sign of any of her fellow Scouts. She swallowed a sudden lump of tears in her throat, They aren't fellows, not anymore. They haven't been for quite some time. Jupiter, was I blind!

~Maybe next time you'll listen when I tell you something! Humans. Puh. Think they know everything. Hmph.~

Sailor Jupiter smiled, "Good to know you care, Jupiter!" The she sobered herself, "By the way, I never got a chance to thank you."

~For what?~

With a sweep of her hand, Lita indicated her new uniform and the Starsword, "For this. I wouldn't have had a chance out there without this. Thank you."

Jupiter mental tone warmed considerably - a sure sign that he was pleased, ~You, of all the Scouts, have earned the additional power. Enjoy it!~

Lita felt her God's presence fade from her mind. You old softy, she smiled, Not that you'd ever admit it. She sighed, Guess I'd better go find out what everyone plans to do about all this.

Another hour found Sailor Jupiter wandering the Palace halls in search of another living being. She finally found one in the Ball Room. Queen Serenity sat blankly on the floor, rocking back and forth. Jadeite sat about five feet away, staring at the Queen. Lita walked over to him and put a hand on his shoulder. He jerked up, then relaxed when he saw who it was.

"Lita! Thank the Gods, you're all right! I need your help," Jadeite suddenly grabbed Lita's hand, "What's wrong with her?? Why won't she get up?? She hasn't spoken or anything since the Crystal shattered! What do I do with her?"

Lita pried her hand out of Jadeite's grasp, "Take it easy! Let me go take a look. OK?" Jadeite nodded.

Lita slowly approached the Queen, "Your Majesty? Queen Serenity? Please, talk to me." There was no response from the Queen. Lita tried again, "Your Highness? We need you now. Please, snap out of it." There was still no response. It's as if no one's home to answer me. What the heck happened?

~She has been steadily declining for many years. Her daughter's betrayal was merely the last straw that pushed her over the edge.~

"Jupiter?" Lita was surprised. It wasn't like Jupiter to contact her twice in such a short time.

~No, Little One. It is not Jupiter with whom you speak. We all look over the children of the Moon. The start of this problem was an affair of the heart, and such is my specialty.~

"Venus!" Lita breathed, shocked. "But why speak to me?"

~Because you are the only Scout left with us - other than Pluto, who is busy elsewhere. You must forgive the rest of us if we meddle in your life more as a result.~

Oh great! Lita thought, That’s just what I need - 6 more gods meddling in my life! Wonderful. Out loud she said, "Whatever works best for you. I’ll be here if you need me - I don’t plan to go anywhere." She turned to the Queen, "What happened originally? I mean, what could cause such major damage?'

~An affair of the Heart - what else?~ was Venus’ cryptic reply. Oh that helped, Lita grumbled. "OK, so what do I do with her now? She looks like she’s a mental vegetable!"

~Bring her to Healer Hall - it is possible that with rest, she may recover. I fear that her heart has seen and felt far too much ache to heal on its own though. With help, perhaps we should... could we?...~ the goddess' mental voice trailed off.

Lita felt Venus’ presence lift from the room. She turned to Jadeite, "According to the Goddess of Venus, we have to get Queen Serenity to Healer Hall. Think we can manage that?"

Jadeite rose and took one of Serenity’s arms, "Ready whenever you are."

Lita took her other arm and they hauled the Queen to her feet. After a few steps Lita stepped on one of Serenity’s pigtails and fell flat on her face - taking Jadeite and Serenity with her. Jadeite piped up from the other side of the Queen, "Uh... Jupiter? What was that maneuver supposed to accomplish?"

Jupiter growled a response, "Absolutely nothing." We don't have time for this. She stared at the queen, willing her to come out of this self-imposed trance. What kind of queen goes into hyperspace just when we need her the most? Jupiter was filled with a sudden rush of anger at the impotent queen. She grabbed her Starsword out of its sheath and hacked Serenity’s hair off at the shoulders, no longer caring about the respect due this person - Serenity certainly hadn't done anything to earn it in her book, broken heart or not. "All right, stop staring, Jadeite. You see short hair on people every day. Get over it," she got to her feet and mumbled, "It’s not as if she’s awake enough to care, anyway."

Jadeite said nothing. He grabbed one of the Queen’s arms and dragged her back to her feet. Lita took the other arm and they slowly made their way out of the Room.

"And what excuse do you have for your failure?" Beryl screamed, "I am not at all pleased. You promised me results."

The youma quivered. When the Queen got this angry, heads would roll. The six cowering ex-Sailor Scouts seemed to know it, too. But not the Princess. Princess Serenity was affecting an attitude of total indifference - almost superiority. She leaned against a stone column, her long braid hanging over her right shoulder and her black-clad legs crossed at the ankles. She was polishing her sword.

Beryl silently fumed at this outrage, Just who does this girl think that she is! I allow her into my ranks, she fails me, and then she has the gall to ignore me when I try to chew her out! The nerve! She felt a hollow voice creep into her skull, ~Are you afraaaaaiddd of her Beryyyylllll?~ She sat up straight, No mighty Metallia, I am not afraid. Her eyes narrowed, Just furious. She placed her hands on her crystal ball and caused a boom of thunder to crash through the room. She shrieked at Serenity, "How dare you ignore me! Look at me when I speak to you!!"

The Princess slowly sheathed her sword and uncrossed her legs. She strode purposefully, yet casually over to Beryl's throne. The youma started murmuring in worry, if the Princess annoyed Beryl it would not be she who would suffer, but they. The Princess reached the dais, and to everyone's horror - began to climb the steps. Beryl watched in mounting fury as the Princess came up the stairs right to her very self! She'll pay.

She started to open her mouth, when the Princess spoke her first words since awakening in the Negaverse, "Can it, Beryl." Her voice was cold as ice. She grabbed Beryl by the hair and drew her up so they were face to face. She hissed, "Now let's get something straight, Beryl. I am no underling of yours. You are to treat me with the respect to which I am due. And I want to hear nothing from you about my failure until you have a success of your own to present me with! Is that understood?" Beryl's eyes widened in shock, and a little fear. She hissed back, "Oh yes, Princess, very clear." Serenity smiled, "Good." She threw Beryl from her with a jerk of her arms and tossed her staff and crystal ball down the steps after her.

She turned and settled herself down in the grand throne, crossing her legs primly. She addressed the assembled, "There's a new boss in town - anyone got a problem with that?" The assembled youma cheered. Serenity smiled, What fickle fools. Oh well, there's no use for it. She motioned the ex-Scouts to the throne, Good thing I brought my own bodyguards. She didn't even bother to watch as Beryl, growing in fury and determination by the second, slunk from the throne room to ask Queen Metallia what she should do about the Princess.

The Scouts gathered in their new meeting room to discuss the recent turn of events. It had taken all of them by surprise - just a few days ago, they had been planning a war against Beryl, and now they were supporting a Princess who had joined Beryl and then overthrown her. They needed to talk.

Uranus and Neptune walked in together, looking a little bewildered but more at home than most of the others. Uranus had a hand protectively around Neptune's shoulders as if daring anyone to touch her. Neptune smiled pleasantly at all of them as they sat down. Mercury, Mars, and Saturn had gotten there first. Saturn seemed resigned to their lot, and with her Silence Glaive resting in her hands, she looked ready to take on the world - or the Universe.

Mercury and Mars, on the other hand, didn't look ready to take on anything. Mercury sat, silently typing away at her computer - the Princess' remark earlier had stung. 'Useless in a fight...if it weren't for her computer skills...should have offed her years ago...' She was determined to make herself indispensable to the Princess - if she wanted to live, she had no other choice. Mars was perched on the edge of a couch cushion, tense as a bowstring. Her hands were clasped tightly about her knees and she was extremely pale. Of all the Scouts, she seemed the most out of place. To her dismay, she could still hear echoes of the thoughts of her god - maybe because she'd been so tightly bound to him to begin with. But, like Mercury, she was determined to fit in - because it was really the only choice she had left.

The door creaked open - Venus entered, eyes flashing and hair flaring out behind her. Her eyes scanned the occupants of the small lounge and she snorted in derision, "What's the matter girls? Need to have a hug-me/love-me fest?" She laughed, an eerie sound that reminded Saturn of Zoisite - if the Healer had turned evil, that is. "I'm gonna explain this to you slowly and simply - we're a part of the Negaverse, now. Nothing is going to change that." She shifted her gaze to each of the waiting Scouts in turn, "And if I find out that any one of you is having traitorous thoughts, you will be exterminated like the expendable bodyguards that you are. Do you understand? The Princess and I will not tolerate traitors." The other Scouts paled a bit and nodded, not trusting their voices. Venus smiled, "Good - one traitor was more than we needed. Oh yes," she added as an afterthought, "If any of you meet Jupiter on the field of battle, you are to make sure she is taken - alive." At the horrified looks on their faces, Venus flipped them a V-for-Victory and left the room, her eerie laugh echoing down the corridor.

Part 2 | The Graveyard | Part 4
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