R: OK all, I have a confession to make... like our alter egos (the Moon Mages), Lauren and I goofed.

L: No, you goofed. I was three states away at the time. I was an innocent bystander person.

R: *grrr...*

L: Been hitting the sugar again, dear? EEEEEP!! Mommy!!!!

R: *shaking dust off hands* Ahem. That's better. As I was saying, we goofed. Any objections?

L: Being good!! *turns away and mutters* But I still didn't do anything.

R: *in a singsong voice* I didn't hear that! Anyways, the part 7 disclaimer really should have been at the beginning of Part 6, because that's when we returned you to your regularly scheduled fanfic! 'Kay? Forgive us?

L: Renee, no one cares. Move on with your life! Get over it! It's not a big deal. OK?

R: *grrr...*

L: Umm... Anyway, what I really wanted to say is that none of the characters in this 'fic belong to us (except the Mages, Rusty, the Arcadian Kniiii....

*Lauren fades back into hunk induced mindlessness.*

R: *sweatdrop forming, smacks her forehead* Oh for cryin' out... The Mages, Rusty, the Arcadian Knight, Zalisite, and Faithful belong to us. Everyone else is the property of whoever created them. Now why don't you guys get to reading Part 8 while I try to snap her out of this in time for her scene, OK?

L: ...blond...

R: *hangs head and sighs heavily* It's gonna be a looong day...

Part 8 -- The Rediscovery of Some More Old Friends?
by Renee-chan and L.M. Griffin

Picture this. A cold, dark, echoing, cavern. Now, picture this. At the front of that cavern, sits an imposing, elaborate, and not quite empty throne. Its occupant was not very happy. In fact, he was sulking.

"I don't believe we ran. We ran, Faithful!! I can't believe we were such cowards!" Zalisite complained.

The sheepdog at his feet snarled, "Speak for yourself, Zalisite! I did not run! A Dog never runs. I beat a strategic retreat."

"In other words, you ran."

"Well, uh,..."

"I know, Faithful. I'm not happy either. But what could we have done? Those Moon Mages are freakin' crazy! Who would have thought that saying "Tic-Toc" would turn them so vicious!?!"

Faithful shrugged, "They have an inborn fear of cuckoo clocks?"

A cold voice filled the dark recesses of the once mighty throne room, "Any fool who claims parentage of the Negaverse, should know that General Malachite's last words to the two Moon Mages before he killed them were "Tic-Toc". What kind of fool are you?"

The voice was politely inquisitive, as if it were asking what breed of fool he was as opposed to whether he actually was a fool. Zalisite took exception to that assumption. Then he realized that there wasn't supposed to be anyone in the cavern except himself and Old Faithful. "Who are you?" he yelled into the echoing emptiness.

A figure stepped out of the emptiness. Zalisite's eyes nearly popped out of their sockets. At first glance the voluptuous woman appeared to be one of the infamous Moon Mages. Yet, no one who lived past the first glance to take a second glance could ever have confused the two. The woman had the same shimmering tank dress as any Moon Mage, but her robes - that was were the difference became noticeable. The red robe which covered her Ruby colored tank dress was not red as most would recognize it. It was such a dark blood red, it was nearly black. Only enough color remained to identify that it could once have been red.

She was soon flanked by two others with similar costumes, the woman had a yellow tank dress and the same evil streaked robe. The man wore a billowing purple shirt and pants, covered by a robe stained with darkness. These three beckoned into the darkness. Five more came to stand at their sides. The two women wore outfits similar in cut to the other two, yet in total black. The three men wore outfits similar in cut to the other, yet also in total black. The only relief to the ever present black were the grey stripes which encircled the collars of the five.

The woman in red stepped forward, "We are the Dark Mages. I believe that you could use our help. Was I mistaken?"

The tone of the woman's voice told Zalisite that he did not want to disagree with her, "Uh, n-n-n-no?"

She smiled, "So, so, and exactly so. We have plans for you..."

Zalisite and Faithful exchanged a quick glance as they were surrounded by the Dark Mages. Faithful said it, "Uh-oh..."

"She's coming out of it!" exclaimed Renée.

Lauren's head flopped to the side to examine the Arcadian Knight from a different angle, then her eyes glazed over again.

Renée frowned, "Nope. I was wrong. She's still way deep into it."

The Arcadian Knight leaped from his perch and gracefully landed next to the smitten Mage and her disgusted friend. He put a hand on Lauren's shoulder and asked Renée if her lady friend would be all right.

"It is a strange illness which has afflicted this noble lady. What is its cause?" he inquired.

Renée spluttered, "Uh, well, uh,...I can't say."

Lauren dazedly muttered, "You..." Then realizing that the Arcadian Knight was standing right there, abruptly jerked out of her trance. "...were a real great help today!" She finished.

Tuxedo Mask gave her a skeptical look, "Smooth, Sapphire. Doing what?"

Sailor Moon promptly stamped on his foot. Lauren mouthed, "Thank you!" Sailor Moon mouthed back, "Best Friend!" and smiled, as Tuxedo Mask hopped around the clearing on one foot. When he finished hopping, he poked the Arcadian Knight in the shoulder, "All else aside... What the Hell are you doing stealing my Shtick????"

The Arcadian Knight finally lost his cool, "I'm stealing your shtick? Oh no, friend I beg to differ. The turban and white rose was always my shtick! You borrowed it from me! And this is the thanks I get? Huh!"

Tuxedo Mask had the grace to be embarrassed.

Jupiter perked up, "Who are you anyway?"

The Arcadian Knight smiled winningly and said, "A friend to the Sailor Scouts... and the Moon Mages," he turned to Darien, as if about to taunt him with his next remark, "And, the Protector of the Earth." With that last enigmatic comment, he leapt into a tree and disappeared.

Tux's mouth dropped open and his face turned rather red, then Sailor Moon glared at him. He shut his mouth, put his hands behind his back and murmured, "I'll be good, I'll be good!" Then when Moon looked away he muttered, "But I'm the Protector of the Earth! I'm Prince Darien, son of King Endymion, ruler of the Earth! Aren't I?" No one was interested enough to answer.

Lauren sniffed her white rose and grinned dopily. Renée looked at her and snorted, "Are you done now? Can we return to reality?"

Lauren retorted, "You're just jealous...Besides, this is my payback for you getting to land on Darien forty billion times!"

Mercury typed into her computer for a few seconds, and gasped, "He...He...just completely disappeared! I can't find him on my scanners anywhere!"

Venus stared at Mercury and said slowly, "What do you mean, disappeared??"

Mars snapped, "She means, Gone. Left the premises. No longer here. Gonzo, See ya Later, Sayonara! What did you think, you ditz?!?"

Luna stepped between the two scouts before a tongue war could occur, and said, "Well...whoever he is, he appears to be on our side."

Artemis said sardonically, "Ya think? I don't recall any Negaverse guys handing out floral arrangements. Aside from Zoisite, but she doesn't count."

Rusty was off in a corner muttering to himself, "Now why the hell did he seem so damned familiar?"

Moon, for a change, took on the role of peace maker. "Now, now guys...let's not argue about trivialities. We have more important things to think about. Like...who was that Negaverse guy? And that annoying dog? And...and...when are we going to get dinner? I'm Starving!"

Renée rolled her eyes, "Now isn't that just so typically Serena? Always thinking about her stomach."

Serena wailed, "But I'm hungry!!!!!!"

Lauren patted her on the shoulder, "Why don't we all go get dinner, hmm? I'm kinda hungry, too."

Renée's eyes went wide, "You just had an ice cream sundae!"

Lauren paused, then proclaimed, "I burned it off fighting the bad guy! Now I'm hungry again!"

At this point, everyone was ready to get the heck out of there (not to mention out of their fighting costumes), so they readily agreed to hit the food district for some major chowing down.

Faithful had quickly climbed up into Zalisite's lap and started shaking like a leaf. These Dark Mages were evil. Totally evil. The last person he remembered that filled him with this much dread was that funky red-haired lady, the one who wore nothing but that tight purple dress, and way too much white face powder. And what was with those horns, anyway? 'Focus Faithful, this is no time to go off on tangents!' he reprimanded himself, as the Dark Mages circled the throne.

Zalisite gulped and managed to squeak out, "Um....I hate to seem inquisitive...but what kind of plans did you have in mind?"

The Yellow Dark Mage smiled darkly, and commented, "Why? Don't you trust us?"

Faithful piped up, "Well, not to be rude or anything, but, NOPE!"

The Dark Mages all laughed, a evil, sinister sound that somehow reminded Zalisite of his Mother. The Purple Dark Mage commented dryly, "Perhaps you are not as foolish as we originally thought..."

Zalisite managed a smirk, and a dry comeback of his own, "Glad to know I'm moving up in the ratings system... just how exactly are you going to help us anyways? Besides making me sweat bullets, and Faithful jump into my lap like a scaredy cat?"

Faithful snorted, "I RESENT that remark!"

"Sorry...it was just a simile..."

"Simile, schmimile. I am NO Cat! I am a DOG. D-O-G, DOG!"

The Red Mage commented darkly, "Oh good...the little Dog can Spell... NOW, CAN WE GET ON WITH THIS?!?" as her voice raised at least ten decibels, shaking the cavern walls.

Zalisite just sat and shook, fearfully, as Faithful moved from his lap to under the throne. The Red Mage's face went from snarling to pleased - it was always nice to know that you could still scare the dickens out of your Negaverse contemporaries. "Good, now we can get on with business, as it were?"

Zalisite gulped and then said, "Uh - sure. No problem."

The Red Mage smiled and a small table appeared between her and the throne, a rather large armchair behind it. She settled herself into it, "Now we can talk. I understand that you are having problems with some meddling little girls, are you not?"

Zalisite nodded vigorously, "Yes! The Sailor Scouts - the brats that killed my parents! And two other chicks - I think they were the last two Moon Mages."

The Red Mage put a hand to her head and said in a muffled voice, "Of course they're the last two Moon Mages! Why the heck do you think we offered to get involved?? And as for your parents," she looked Zalisite straight in the eyes, "You should know that Queen Beryl killed your mother - not the Sailor Scouts."

At Zalisite's shocked expression, the Mage hastened to reassure him. "But that's no reason not to want to kill the Scouts! They did kill your father, after all!" she said in a rush. When Zalisite's face cleared she quietly said, "Whew! Maybe he's not such an idiot after all..."

"Anyway," she said, "We can take care of the Mages for you - we know their weaknesses. As for the Scouts - they are hardly a shadow of what they were back in the Moon Kingdom, for all that they have stronger powers. The Princess is no sort of leader. Given a hard enough attack by enough youma, they should succumb easily."

Zalisite cleared his throat, "That's a wonderful plan, really it is. I just have one little, eensy-teensy, hardly noticeable, itty-bitty..."

"I get the point!" the mage yelled.

"Right!" Zalisite yelped, "Anyway - just one little problem. All my youma suck!"

The Red Mage dropped her head to the table and started moaning, "It's not fair...It's not fair..."

Zalisite said, "What's the matter with her?"

The Yellow Mage put a hand on the Red Mage's shoulder and patted it awkwardly. She looked up at Zalisite and raised an eyebrow, "Little Boy... In all your studies of Negaverse history, where you never taught who made the youma?"

Zalisite looked at the collection of Eight Powerful Dark Mages and laughed the first truly evil laugh of his life.

Part 7 | The Graveyard | Part 9
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