R: OK... I think this title needs a bit of explaining... See, it has to do with a really funny scene in the movie "LadyHawke" when Matthew Broderick's character says "God's Truth! She flew away!" when questioned as to the whereabouts of this certain woman. And this kinda became a catch phrase - almost a motto, actually - for Lauren, Jess, and I. And it just seemed to fit...

L: *looking bored* Are we done lecturing now? I really don't think anyone cared to hear all that.

R: *sighs* OK, OK... I'll do better next time.

J: *pops her head in* It's all that Power Rangers stuff she's been thinking about lately...

R: *blushes beat red, shrinks into her chibi form and waddles over into a corner to sit and sulk*

L: *smirks, then turns to the "audience"* As always, SM and it's characters don't belong to us, they belong to Naoko Takeuchi & Co. Any chars who don't belong to her, do belong to us, so please don't use them without our permission.

J: *smiles brightly* And now on with the story, right?

L: *with a proud smile* She learns fast, doesn't she?

Part 12 -- God's Truth! She Fell!
by Renee-chan and L.M. Griffin

Emerald stared up at the snarling youma, barely managing to control a convulsive shudder. Zalisite stood to her right and slightly in front of her - probably trying to play the brave knight. She snorted - how sweet. Too bad this wasn't the Middle Ages. She took a step forward so that she was even with him and grinned when he frowned at her. Much better. The youma opened its mouth and let out a mighty growl of rage. Emerald blinked once or twice and then turned to Zalisite, "OK, General-boy - does this thing have any weaknesses?"

Zalisite stared at her uncomprehendingly, "And how should I know?"

Emerald cleared her throat and waved a hand in the youma's general direction, "It's your youma - I would think you'd know its weaknesses..."

"Well you thought wrong," he growled. "I've never seen a youma like this in my life."

Emerald swallowed hard and glanced over at the youma, "Right. This is not a good thing." She paused a moment, then squared her shoulders, "Right. OK. Here's what we're gonna do - you go right, I'll go left and we'll try to catch it in a crossfire. How does that sound?"

Zalisite looked around the clearing and shook his head, "It'll never work. There are too many places it could take cover..."

"And you've got a better idea??" Emerald exploded. "God Almighty! It's a youma. It may be big and scary-lookin', but for the most part, youma are fairly lacking in the brains department. It probably won't even realize what we're doing until we have it pincered!"

Zalisite nodded slowly, "You have a point... But this would work far better with more than two people."

Emerald crossed her arms over her chest, "Well, all we've got is you and me. Do the math." Zalisite looked resigned as Emerald spoke again, "Now, I certainly hope all of your pretty words weren't just words, before. This maneuver is requiring a massive amount of trust on my part."

"How so?" he looked genuinely confused.

Emerald calmly pointed out, "You're my safety, here. As long as I stand near you, it can't attack for fear of hitting you. Once I step away from you I lose that protection."

Zalisite nodded, a serious look on his features, "Well, I certainly hope your trust is not misplaced, my lady."

The Moon Mage took one step back, "Remember - the future is what you make of it, not what it makes of you, Zalisite. My trust and faith are in your hands - don't mess this up." And with those last words, Emerald started to slink across the wooded clearing to the left-hand side of the youma.

Zalisite swallowed hard as he watched her go. Why couldn't he take the easy way out? It would be so easy to let the youma kill her - he would be rid of one of the vile enemies that cost his parents their lives - twice! Her words echoed in his mind, My trust and faith are in your hands - don't mess this up. And he knew in that instant that he wouldn't. If he owed her nothing else, at least he owed her this - for opening his eyes to the possibility of choice. The future is what you make of it... He nodded, decisive. Well, he would make something of it, right now. He ducked behind a tree and began creeping towards his chosen spot, eager for whatever reason, to prove - to Emerald and to himself - that he could make his own choices.

Lauren sighed deeply as Renee disappeared. "Great. Just great," she muttered to herself. She turned to the others, an unhappy frown crossing her face.

Rei pointed her finger at the Mage, "Don't you try and blame this on us! You're the one who brought up the whole liking-evil-guy thing!"

Lauren smiled wryly, "Yeah, I suppose I did. But you know...."

Serena came forward, and gave Lauren a pat on the shoulder, "You're only trying to protect her. And as long as we've all known each other, it's always been that way. But you know, you can't guard Renee forever. She's a big girl now." She giggled, adding, "She can dress herself and everything."

Rusty rubbed his nose on Lauren's knee. She looked down at the Guardian, as he said, "If it makes you feel any better, I do the same thing. But Serena has a point..."

Rei snorted, "Amazingly enough." The comment earned her dirty looks from all the Scouts this time. Lauren shook her head, and started for the door of the temple.

Mina's blue eyes followed her, as she asked, "Where are you going Lauren?"

Lauren turned back, and smiled at the Orange Scout, "To go admit that I was wrong for yelling at Renee for this one. I kinda owe her..."

Lita cautioned, her hands on her hips, "You be careful! We don't know where the Negaverse is going to pop up next!"

Lauren called back, as she headed down the temple stairs, "If I get in trouble, don't worry. I'll just scream really loud."

The Scouts all nodded their heads, then paused. Darien yelled back, "That's not a very comforting thought there, Lauren!"

But there was no answer, for Lauren was already gone. The Scouts all sat there for a moment, looking at one another. The Guardians, as well, sat paused in thought. Then Serena spoke up, "Why are we just sitting here?? Let's go after her!"

Mina grinned at her leader, "Serena, you're getting smarter every day."

Serena smiled back, as she led the group towards the door, "Amy's rubbing off on me."

Ami commented, "Highly unlikely Serena, since brain waves can't be transferred... as of yet..." The group quietly groaned while Amy went into one of her Science Empowerment speeches.

Lauren walked down the street, her hazel eyes thoughtful. "Now..." she spoke to herself as she turned the corner, "If I were a Renee, where would I go?"

The park's sign appeared across the street, and Lauren shook her head quietly. "You know..." she called out, looking up to the sky, "Sometimes the clichés are just too obvious. Tokyo's a big city, don't heroes and youma go ANYWHERE else?" She waited for a moment for a sign of holy divination, then muttered, as she crossed the street, and walked into the park, "Guess not..."

Hidden in the foliage of a nearby oak tree, a silent figure in white stood. His brown eyes quietly followed the girl as she walked into the park proper, and he took a deep breath. Something within his face softened, but then vanished. Without a sound, he leapt from that tree to another, following her.

Lauren spoke to herself, getting several strange glances from bystanders, "Now, if I were a Renee, in the park, where would I be?"

The sudden growl of something not of this Earth, and a blast of green lightning flashing across the afternoon sky, sort of made the question moot. She started to swing her hands upward to transform... when she glanced down at herself. She rolled her eyes; she was already Sapphire. "Sometimes... you just miss out on all the little details..." She muttered again, starting out into a dead run towards the fighting. Above her, the white figure trailed along.

Renee glanced up at her "partner", a wide grin lighting her face when she saw him. Zalisite had taken up a position on the opposite side of the clearing. Seeing her watching him, the young General picked up a hand and saluted. Emerald lifted her own hand and saluted back, then pointed over at the youma. For its part, the youma was sniffing the area that Zalisite and the Moon Mage had just vacated, and looking rather confused.

Suppressing a giggle, Emerald raised a hand, an emerald green lightning bolt now shining from her closed fingers. Across the clearing, Zalisite readied a lightning bolt of his own. Seeing that the youma was otherwise occupied, Emerald and Zalisite let fly with their lightning bolts. The youma let out a startled cry of pain and whirled to face its attackers. Emerald yelped and scuttled backwards as it ran towards her. Damn it! That thing's got a hide thicker than Rei's head! What the heck?? She jumped upwards, grabbing a tree branch and pulling herself up onto it.

Zalisite ran towards them, another lightning bolt held at the ready. When he was at point blank range, he threw it. A blinding flash of light lit up from the youma's new shield. The youma turned, its facial expression as close to a smirk as Zalisite had ever seen a youma get. Oh shit... He turned and bolted back to the other side of the clearing, trying to get the youma to follow him away from Emerald. The ploy worked - only too well. The youma quickly had him chased up a tree on the other side of the clearing.

A deeply amused voice sounded from a branch above him, "A fine day for tree climbing, isn't it? Though I'd hazard to say that this tree is already taken..."

Zalisite, a bit flustered, said with an aggravated tone, "Well, I'm sorry! I didn't know that permits were necessary to climb up trees to escape youma! You don't own this tree, do you?" He took another look at the owner of the voice: white turban, white mask, white outfit, tiny white scimitar in a white scabbard belted at the waist. He raised an eyebrow, "And who are you, anyway? The Clorox bleach spokesman?"

The white clad figure straightened from his relaxed posture against the tree trunk, "I am the Arcadian Knight! Defender of truth, justice- "

Zalisite cut in, "And endangered Clorox everywhere? Or were you going to say 'truth, justice, and the American Way'?"

The Arcadian Knight crossed his arms over his chest, "You don't have to be rude, you know. I am here to save you from the youma... But since you seem convinced that you don't need me, I'll just leave..."

"No, no! That's OK - really you don't have to go. I'll stop cracking bleach jokes... Just, uh - if you really think you can help, feel free." Zalisite flashed him a huge grin, "I won't stop you..."

The Arcadian Knight smiled softly, "I'll just bet you won't..." He turned to the youma and straightened his tunic a bit, then conjured a white rose. He cleared his throat and, in a clear, ringing voice, said, "Halt your doings, foul creature! I, the Arcadian Knight, am here to put an end to your evil ways!"

Zalisite hid a smirk in his hand and muttered, "Who needs my jokes? This guy's a joke all by himself."

Thankfully, the Arcadian Knight did not overhear this comment. He raised his white rose and threw it down at the youma. The flower swam down, and stabbed the foul beast in the chest. The creature screamed in pain, as it pulled the flower out, and threw it to the ground. Encouraged, the Arcadian Knight threw another. The youma's palm came out, and stopped the flower. The youma looked at the rose, plucked it neatly out of midair, and sniffed it appreciatively. Then it looked up at Arcadian Knight, smiled darkly, and crushed the flower in the palm of it's hand.

The Knight looked over at Zalisite, and they both muttered in unison, "We're in trouble. Big Trouble."

Emerald, in the meantime, had started to climb down from her perch. Just as she was letting herself down unto the ground, there came a rustling from the bushes, and a cry of, "Never fear! Moon Mage Sapphire is here!" Emerald tried to hold unto the branch as she saw her friend come up beneath her, but it was too late. WHOOM, the green Mage landed on the blue one.

Sapphire groaned from the forest floor, "Okay... who's the wise guy who threw an asteroid at me?" Emerald, pulling herself from her prone friend, jabbed her in the side angrily.

"That was me, Miss Smarty Pants.", the green Mage growled softly.

"Oh...", as Sapphire pulled herself to her feet, "I wondered when asteroids got all soft and squishy."

Emerald bit back a sarcastic remark, as she asked bluntly, "So what are you doing here? I thought I told everyone not to follow me?"

Sapphire looked at her friend, an eyebrow rising, "Well, I came to apologize for being snippy, but if you're going to be all rude about it, I'll just leave you to play with the big ugly youma."

Emerald stared at her friend, "You were going to apologize? The Negaverse must have frozen over. Either that, or you're not really Sapphire..." Her aquamarine eyes narrowed, "...maybe you're another youma, pretending to be Sapphire."

Sapphire's hand came swinging around, and smacked Emerald a good one upside the head. Her tone came out crisp, "Would a youma do that?!?"

Emerald held her head, "Yeeeeeees, if they were trying to convince me that they were you. Or visa versa... wait, that makes no sense. God, I wish my ears would stop ringing. Did you have to smack me so hard?"

Sapphire crossed her arms, and growled, "Would the youma know about the forty billions fanfics you write... at the same time?"

Emerald scoffed, "And what about you? Miss Oh-My-Gosh-I've-seen-a-new-show, and-now-I-have-to-write-a-fic-about-it! And... Lauren! It is you!" Emerald threw her arms around her friend, and proceeded to hug the air out of her lungs.

Sapphire gasped, "Okay... Renee... Let go now.... Can't breathe.." Emerald released her with a grin, as Sapphire leaned down, forcing the air into her lungs. Sapphire managed to whisper, "Okay... what's the situation?"

Emerald looked up, blinked a few times, and coughed, "Uh... not very good. The youma chased- uh, well, it chased -uh, well... it chased... the Arcadian Knight and- and-" Emerald put a hand over her mouth and muttered, under her breath, "Zalisite," then in her normal speaking voice, she finished, "-up a tree!" She gave Sapphire a wide, innocent grin.

Sapphire started to pace back and forth, speaking quickly, "Okay, so the youma has the Arcadian Knight and Zalisite... and Zalisite... and... Emerald..." She stared at her companion and paused, then her hands starting swinging back and forth as she repeated, "Zalisite... Emerald... Zalisite... Emerald." She stopped suddenly, and glared at Emerald with a raised eyebrow, "Are we seeing something wrong here?"

Emerald flushed a brilliant scarlet, "Well... It's sort of a long story..." She hung her head for a moment and just breathed as Sapphire crossed her arms over her chest and tapped her foot. Finally, she looked up at her partner, took a deep breath and said, "I really don't want to get into this argument again. I know you don't approve, and I'm sorry. But Zalisite, no matter who he appears to work for, isn't a bad guy. He's actually very nice and you might even like him if you gave him half a chance."

Lauren gave her an incredulous look and shook her head, "OK. Ew. Whatever. Let's just get to work - we can burn this bridge when we have time to argue it properly."

Renee didn't look happy at all with her friend's response, but she had to agree with the necessity of it, "OK. Here's the problem. This youma, somehow, can learn. Whatever we throw at it works once, then it figures out how to counter it. So, how do we fight a smart youma?"

Lauren pondered for a moment, then shrugged and answered with a smile, "We fight stupid?"

Renee stared at her friend as if she'd grown three heads, "Uh... I have but one thing to say." She paused to let her next words sink in, "What the heck are you talking about????"

"OK - this is how it goes. You know that when you attack in a wise and thoughtful manner, you conserve your energy, attack in waves, and always make sure to cover your back."

Renee's eyes lit up with understanding and she started to bounce on her toes in excitement, "Oh-oh-oh!! I get it! So, what you're saying is we hit it with something so big it'll get destroyed by the blast and we won't have to even worry about it thinking of a way to counter it! Right?" She looked eagerly up at her friend for confirmation.

Lauren smiled proudly, "Very good. I see you've been paying attention in class. You can now have a lollipop."

Renee gave her a thumbs up and bounced a few more times before calming herself down, "OK. So, here's what we do. We both gather up as much energy as we can and blast the youma with it all at once. Make sense?"

"Crystal Clear - and not Destiny. Let's go." Sapphire gave Emerald and sharp nod and began to gather a ball of blue energy in her hands.

Emerald took only the second that was necessary to wince at the awful pun before beginning to gather her own green energy. After several tense moments of watching the youma attacking Zalisite's helpless tree, the two Mages prepared to cut loose their energy blasts and do some serious damage. Sapphire quietly counted, "One... Two..." Before she could get the last syllable out, a very unexpected and very unwanted sound announced itself in the clearing. Lauren and Renee looked up, met each other gazes and began quietly cursing...

Sailor Moon stood calmly in the Mages' line of fire with the Scouts behind her in one of their classically over-dramatized poses, "I am the Champion of Love and Justice, Sailor Moon! On behalf of the Moon I will right wrongs and..."

As the rest of the speech droned on in the background, Sapphire and Emerald reluctantly withdrew their gathered energy back into their auras. Emerald leaned over to her partner with an unhappy look on her face, "Now what?"

As the Mages ponder the problem the Scouts start throwing their attacks at the youma - one at a time, naturally. The attacks work to stun the youma - once each. By the time the Scouts start teaming up to throw their attacks, the youma has figured out how to counter them and is throwing them back, driving them hard into the Scouts' teeth. The only Scout who hadn't yet thrown her attack was Moon, but she had been knocked down as Mercury was thrown backwards into her.

Lauren turned to Renee and in a sarcastically cynical tone of voice, answered her friend, "Now all hell breaks loose." She had barely enough time to say that as one of the youma's random blasts screamed their way and they were forced to jump apart.

High above the trees - but not too high a swirling vortex opened. Had Serena and Darien been in any condition to notice it, they both would have screamed in frustration. Out of the vortex a young, cinnamon-haired girl (of surprisingly Oriental appearance) fell, screaming, "AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!!!!"

Zalisite and the Arcadian Knight looked up, then looked at each other. Zalisite hesitantly voiced the thought on both their minds, "Did you hear something?"

The Arcadian Knight nodded solemnly, "It sounded like a young woman yelling from somewhere above us... But that couldn't possibly be right, could it?"

They both looked nervously up at the higher branches of the tree which were now beginning to shake with some unseen force. The sound got louder, then abruptly changed...

"AAAA-- Oo... Ow! Ouch... Damn it - BRANCH! Owie... AAAH!!"

About this time, the afore mentioned young woman careened off the branch directly above them. The two startled young men tried to grab her before she could fall to the ground and do further damage to herself - or the tree - but failed miserably. Instead of checking the girl's momentum, their wild grabs only served to overbalance them so badly that they fell out of the tree with her. Fortunately for all three, something some broke their fall. The Arcadian Knight bit back a laugh when he realized what - or rather, who had broken their fall.

He helped the other two off of their dazed, tuxedo-clad landing mat and patted his back, "You all right, Tuxedo Mask?"

Tuxedo Mask glared at his three sky-born visitors, scowling darkly, "Not really - but thanks oh so much for asking." He stood up and angrily brushed off his tux muttering something about how much it cost to get the damned thing cleaned.

Dazed, confused, but still with it, Jess (the hapless plummeter) muttered, "Cheapskate."

Tuxedo Mask (fortunately for all concerned) didn't hear her muttered commentary on his personality. Zalisite did, however, and diplomatically hid his smile behind his hand. This trip was turning out to be far more interesting than he'd had any hope for it to be! As if that thought had brought him back down to Earth (figuratively this time), Zalisite recalled the reason they'd been up in the tree in the first place. He glanced anxiously about, trying to locate Emerald's diminutive figure in the melee of flying Sailor Scouts and snarling youma.

After a few tense moments he located her clear across the clearing, standing near Sapphire, and breathed a sigh of relief that she still looked relatively OK. He noticed the Arcadian Knight looking in vaguely the same direction and smirked slightly, sudden irrational visions of double dates floating through his head.

Emerald and Sapphire made their way back to each other, still staring amazedly at the group who had fallen from the tree. Much to her consternation, Renee noticed that Sapphire's eyes were fixed on the Arcadian Knight. She gave her friend a little poke in the ribs, which earned her a sharp glare. She pointed over at Jess, who was still brushing leaves out of her hair, "Are you seeing what I'm seeing?"

Lauren just shook her head in disbelief, "What were the odds?"

Renee shrugged, then a light lit her eyes and she tugged sharply on Lauren's robes. Lauren turned to face her again, a confused look in her eyes, "What is it now?"

Renee was so excited by this point that she was almost bouncing again. Lauren prevented that with a heavy hand on her friend's shoulder. Renee just pointed at Jess a few more times, "Lapis!!!"

Lauren turned to look at Jess again, her eyes narrowed as she searched her mind for a memory to fit the word. It didn't take long. She breathed out quietly, "I'll say it again... What were the odds? Wow. Lapis Lazuli - it sure has been a while..."

While the two Mages were quietly reminiscing about their old friend and trainee, the youma wasn't exactly wasting time. Seeing the Scouts all down for the count, he had begun looking about for new targets. Being hidden by the bushes as they were, the Mages hadn't stood out enough to be noticed yet - but not even one of the run-of-the-mill stupid youma could have failed to notice the ruckus by Zalisite's tree. Seeing two of the cluster were those whose attacks he had already deflected, the youma figured them for a likely group of victims and began to trundle their way.

Lauren and Renee shared an anxious glance. The Scouts were no longer in their way, but with such a short span of time to gather up their energy again, there was no way they could gather enough. A thought flashed through Sapphire's mind and she prayed as she yelled that Jess' subconscious would remember what to do when she heard her next words... "Lapis Lazuli!! Moon Mage Strike on my mark!" She watched in satisfaction as Jess' hands flew up, a brilliant blue glow already lit around them.

She paused just long enough to share a grin with Renee as the two readied their own powers. She nodded once, then Emerald and Sapphire yelled out together, "NOW!!!"

The three Mages - and to their shock, Sailor Moon - hit the youma all at once with as much power as they could muster. The youma turned into ash without any further argument. Sailor Moon let out a triumphant yell as the two Moon Mages threw their arms around each other and did a victory dance. Around this time, the Scouts started to wake up from the beating they'd taken at the youma's hands. So it wasn't until much later that Lauren and Renee made it through to the tree were Jess was still standing, a profoundly rendered "What the fuck?" look on her face. Her hands were still held out in front of her and she stared at them as if they might suddenly up and decide to attack her next.

Jess' eyes finally tracked up to land on the two anxious Moon Mages. She cleared her throat and said quietly, "Renee...? Lauren...?" She swallowed, then in a rush of words that grew in volume as each one was spoken, said, "Why are you wearing sparkly bath robes and why the hell did blue fire just come out of MY HANDS????????"

Lauren started chuckling quietly to herself and Renee laid an understanding arm around her friend's shoulders, "Jess... It's a long story."

Part 11 | The Graveyard
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