St Patrick's Day in the Dark Kingdom

Part 1

© 2000 by Thomas McKee

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Something was up in the Dark Kingdom. Nobody knew exactly what or why but it had been preoccupying Queen Beryl for many weeks now, some would say months. The rumour machine of the Dark Kingdom was running at full steam. Powered by the tittle-tattle of the masses of youma and many of the lower-ranking officers, it was churning out explanations of the current state of affairs nineteen to the dozen. These explanations, like all but a few tabloid exclusives, were apocryphal, contradictory to other explanations, absurdly garbled and hopelessly inaccurate.

Of course, everybody except a few exceptionally dense youma in the place knew that these rumours should be taken with a pinch of salt and this only served to give the rumour machine more power as they strove ever harder to get the truth of the matter.

Were the four Kings of the Dark Kingdom aware of all this? Of course they were. How could they not? All the gossip of the lower ranks filtered up to Jadeite, Nephrite, Zoisite and Kunzite sooner or later. In fact Zoisite was doing his little bit to keep that rumour machine well oiled by surreptitiously dropping in stories of his own.

But no matter how many different stories are in circulation and no matter how much those stories may differ, sooner or later there will be one particular story that will be more generally told and accepted as truth than other stories.

The gist of that particular story was that there was to be a parade - not just any old parade either. It was to be the greatest, most spectacular and extravagant parade the Dark Kingdom had ever seen or would ever see.

All the gossip and rumour mongering came to a head when Jadeite received a report from the youma Rugano. "It doesn't bode well for us, Queen Beryl's subjects."

Jadeite groaned. "She hasn't been quite right in the head since she started taking anti-depressants and sedatives at the same time," he said to himself. "A hundred and twenty of each a day. I knew no good could come of this." Then to Rugano he said, "what have you managed to learn?"

"Well, she's been in communication with the Roman Emperor Caligula, or at least she imagines she is."

"Oh, my life! Hallucinations! What next?"

"And she's been talking about the need for the Dark Kingdom to put on special events," the youma went on.

"We already have special events," retorted Jadeite. "There's the one called 'the Ape Avoids the Fire.'" This was where a youma was hung by a chain on a metal scaffold and he or she would be swung round a huge bonfire and the idea was to free yourself without being burned alive or dropping head-first into the fire.

"Or 'the Giraffe on the Rope Bridge,'" suggested Rugano. Here a youma was made to walk along a length of bungee cord, which was fixed up like a conveyor belt and suspended over a vat of boiling water, and the youma had to move fast enough to avoid the water as its level and its temperature rose. If he or she didn't move with sufficient speed or act with sufficient cunning to get out of this situation, the audience would be treated to the spectacle of an unfortunate youma turning every conceivable colour as he or she was boiled alive. Some spectacular scenes occurred when a youma with fire-based powers failed the test: there would sometimes be an explosion of flame as the water reacted to the body's inflammable chemicals.

"There's my favourite of all," cackled Jadeite, "Russian Birthday Cake Roulette!" The youma cringed. In this so-called game as many as two hundred youma would be seated around a huge birthday cake (usually baked by Zoisite) and each youma would bite into it in turn and each would swallow each and every bite. In each bite there would be a ball of arsenic, a small cylinder of compressed methane, a stick of TNT whose tiny fuse lit the moment it came out of the cake, or, for the unluckiest youma, a bit of Kotobuki C-ko's bread-and-butter pudding.

"Well, this time, apparently, this event is going to be really spectacular," said Rugano. "There's going to be lights, fireworks, banners, horns, cannons..."

"Fireworks? Cannons? Surely Queen Beryl could give us all the effects of fireworks and cannons with her own powers."

"I must admit I don't exactly see the logic behind it myself," said Rugano.

"That's probably because there is no logic," said Jadeite.

* * *

The other three Kings agreed with that point when Jadeite related the news to them. "We haven't got time for events like that," said Kunzite.

"I thought our whole raison d'Ítre was the resurrection of Empress Metallia," said Nephrite.

"Maybe Queen Beryl is planning all this for when Empress Metallia is finally resurrected," mused Zoisite.

"How can we think of events at a time like this?" fumed Kunzite. He was furious that he, the highest-ranking King of the Dark Kingdom, had been among the last to know. "Not only are we no nearer than we ever were to finding the Silver Imperium Crystal, we've still got those blasted Sailor Senshi to deal with, not to mention that goofball in a dinner jacket and top hat!"

At that moment the PA system kicked in with a hiss. The first four notes of "The Star-Spangled Banner" chimed out and Queen Beryl's voice bellowed out, "KUNZITE! Report to my throne room at once!"

"Rather him than me," thought the other three simultaneously as Kunzite left.

* * *

Later that day, Zoisite visited Kunzite in his quarters. "So what was that meeting with Queen Beryl about?" He could make an educated guess as to how it went; Kunzite's normally stolid face bore a distinct sign that he had been put through the mangle.

"Guess," said the older King.

"An event," suggested Zoisite, knowing this would certainly be the right answer.

"Right, and not just any old event. The Queen is considering having a really elaborate festival on March 17th. She plans to have islands, causeways, ballrooms and palaces specially built for the occasion."

"That's insane!" gasped Zoisite. "Has she any idea how much all this will cost?"

"Do you mean in terms of money or energy?"

"Both! And even if we used manual slave labour to build all this, it's still going to stretch the kingdom's resources far beyond the limit." Zoisite was jabbering now apparently without pausing to breathe in. "I mean, think of how much money and energy went into building that Millennium Dome in London. We could have rebuilt the Moon Kingdom en masse in a couple of hours with all that..."

"Zoisite, it's gravely unwise to say such things aloud," warned Kunzite. "And you certainly shouldn't talk of the Moon Kingdom when Queen Beryl's in the mood she's in. Anyway, the Queen wants this festival to go as smoothly as possible so it's fallen to me to see that it does."

Zoisite became aware that he was shivering. "Why don't you turn on the heater? Its like an icebox in here."

"I know," said Kunzite, "but I have to keep the room at this temperature. Any higher and I can't concentrate."

Jadeite's head popped round the door. "Am I disturbing anything?"

"Yes," said Zoisite. "It seems we are to have a festival on March 17th."

"That's St Patrick's day," said Jadeite.

"That can't be the real reason to have a festival, can it?" wondered Zoisite.

"Not unless Queen Beryl has Irish blood in her."

"I didn't know she had any blood in her," joked Zoisite. Suddenly he checked himself. Queen Beryl might hear him. "Why March 17th, then?"

"Who knows," said Jadeite. "I guess we'll find out in good time from the gossip among the youma."

"Do you suppose she's going to model the festival on the St Patrick's Day parade in New York?"

"Jeez, I hope not!" said Jadeite. "Everybody should know there are only three places to be on St Patrick's Day: Dublin, Belfast and the Cheltenham Gold Cup."

"Okay," chuckled Kunzite, "I think we can forget about painting all the youma green, then!"

"By the way, Kunzite," said Jadeite, "do you know you've got condensation outside your front door?"

The End of Part 1 - Goto Part 2

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Disclaimer: Sailormoon is the property of Takeuchi Naoko, Kodansha and Toei Animation. All characters, settings etc. are used without permission. This is an amateur fiction, and I definitely won't make any money of it.

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