Matters of State

© 1998 by Lord Malachite


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Author's Note:

This fanfiction is set in the Silver Millennium, approximately 2 years before Beryl's assault on the Moon. The future Kings of the Negaverse, being nearly immortal, are full-grown, while the Senshi are still young teens. I have attempted to keep somewhat to reality, and thus the Terran Kingdom does not cover the entire Earth. It is comprised of South East Asia and Oceana. I have left the rest of history relatively alone, making the Terran Kingdom a contemporary of the Holy Roman Empire, Eric the Red, and the Toltecs.


Matters of State

© 1998 by Lord Malachite

It was the Martian Director of Planetary Treasures, and he was not happy.

His image floated from the waist up in my communication crystal, garbed in the flowing red and black robes characteristic of Martian governmental officials. I could just see the hilt of his sword of office at the bottom of the image, and he was gripping it until his knuckles turned white.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"I mean exactly what I say, idiot! The Red Crystal was stolen, and I hold you responsible!!"

The Red Crystal was one of the seven Crystals, one of which had inhabited each Inner Planet, the Moon, and the Sun, since antiquity. The Red Crystal, the Crystal of Fire, belonged to the government of Mars, and was their most important planetary treasure. It, and the other crystals, were said to be worth more than nine hundred trillion Yen, each.

"That's absurd," I responded. "Why would the Terran Kingdom want the Red Crystal when we have the Grey one?"

"I don't know! You're the ones that took it!"

I felt my face redden in anger. Oh, how I would love to impale this pompous freak of nature on my pike. But, as Head Diplomat, it was my job to avoid just those kinds of outbursts, and keep the peace between the planets. I tried to stay calm. "What makes you think that?"

"Our guards saw the thieves. The bastards killed three of our Imperial Guards, and they were wearing grey Terran uniforms. I demand that you return the Crystal at once!!"

The communication crystal glowed silently, as these infinitely useful creations of Nephrite's did when someone else wanted to get through to me. "Hang on a minute, sir. I'll get right back to you." Director Fuegan managed to get out a strangled "But," but I had already picked up the other communication.

The normally calm, blue-garbed Mercurian Ambassador appeared. I sighed with relief at the break in the Director's verbal lashing, until the Ambassador opened her mouth.

"All right, I don't know what kind of joke this is, but we want it back and we want it back now!"

I blanched. This was going to be a bad day. "Want what back?", I asked in my most sugary, diplomatic voice.

"The Blue Crystal! I don't know what prompted you to break the long-standing peace between our worlds, but it had better be for a damn good reason!"

This was bad. This was very bad. Ambassador Quicksilver never cursed. Ever. I put my head in my hands. "Let me guess. A few thieves wearing Terran uniforms slipped into your treasury, took the crystal, and slipped out, but not before being seen by a few guards. Right?"

"Slipped in? Slipped out? Are you kidding? It was a full-scale invasion! 50 or so Terran soldiers raided the treasury building, killed all of the guards, stole the Crystal, and bloody blew up the place! Only six people were left alive to identify them as your men! This is completely unacceptable! If we don't get the crystal back, along with 40 million Yen to placate the families of those killed, it'll be war!"

"But... I.. Er....." The Ambassador's visage disappeared, to be replaced with that of the Director.

"It's about time! Keeping me waiting like this is the last straw! You've got one week to return the Crystal, or our alliance is over!" Then the Director disappeared as well.

I lay my chin on my desk, and stared at the blank crystal given to me by Nephrite to facilitate communication between the planets. I sighed. I hadn't ordered the Blue and Red crystals stolen, and I didn't know who had. The first robbery sounded like Zoisite's kind of operation, but the second sounded like Malachite's. Although it was inconceivable that they had decided to do this kind of thing on their own, the King might have given orders that didn't get to me. I decided to see them.

An hour and a half later, I entered Zoisite's office. She.. I mean he, I always had to remind myself about that, was listening to a report from one of his spies. The Terran government was well-known for it's spy network, and it was Zoisite's job, as Head of Intelligence, to keep the whole web in place and under control. As soon as he noticed me, Zoisite waved the spy away and turned to greet me.

"So, Jadeite, what brings you here? We usually don't see each other while we're on call."

"I know, but this is important. Have you by any chance ordered the Red and Blue Crystals stolen?"

Zoisite was famous for his fiery, Martian-like temper, which he unleashed on me like a Solar furnace. "Ordered what? Are you out of your mind? Why on Earth should I order the betrayal of two of our strongest allies?" His face turned bright red, and I could practically see the smoke rising from his ears.

It seemed like it was my karma to be yelled at today. "Well, high-ranking officials of Mars and Mercury have both contacted me to complain about the violent robbery of their respective Crystals, at the hands of men dressed in Terran uniforms. They're very angry. Well, maybe 'angry' is the wrong word. 'Homicidal' would about cover it."

Zoisite calmed down a bit. "Hmm. I'll tell my spies to look for those fake uniforms. Meanwhile, you continue asking if there have been any orders to that effect. Maybe we're just out of the loop."

"I'll do that. Thanks, Zoisite."

"No problem."

I left Zoisite's office, and headed towards the Palace. Malachite tended to hang around there, and rarely left. He lived a spartan life in a two room apartment inside the Palace, near the training grounds. He contrasted starkly with Nephrite, who lived in a rich, wine-filled mansion on a hill in the woods. I lived by myself in a middle-class house, in the suburbs surrounding the Palace, and worked in the Administration building to the north of the main Palace at Kyoto. Rumor had it that Zoisite lived in a pocket dimension, but no one really knew for sure. Anyway, she, I mean he, spent so much time with Malachite that they might as well have lived together.

I approached Malachite's chambers, but there was a note scrawled on the door informing anyone who cared to know that he was at the training grounds. I could have gone in and waited for him, but since his short-lived murder so many years ago, he had kept up extremely strong wards around his place. I decided not to risk it, and so I headed for the training grounds.

Mal was there, practicing with his boomerangs. Those weapons truly frightened me. One toss of them could decapitate thirty practice targets, in three seconds. They were bonded to his will, and as such were practically sentient. As I watched, they dipped and wheeled, neatly lopping off the limbs of the wooden targets. Personally, I preferred my pike. It wasn't long-range, sure, and could be unwieldy at times, but you just couldn't top it in terms of sheer destructive potential. And, unlike swords, axes, bows, and even boomerangs, it took almost no effort to use. Just pull it out at the last second, brace it against the ground, and your average opponent will walk right into it and impale himself. He's dead before he knows what hit him, and it's a slight matter to toss him over your shoulder and get ready to deal with another opponent.

Once Mal finished, he turned to me. I got the feeling that he had noticed me from the first, and that he just hadn't wanted to interrupt his workout. He was breathing hard from exertion, and sweat coated his face. It took a lot of mana to sustain the boomerangs, as they were really several different spells in one: a control spell to make them go where he wants them to, a destruction spell to give them their cutting ability, a binding spell to keep the destruction spell in check, and a hovering spell to keep them in the air. Given the difficulty of using them, I was surprised that he had any mana left over. Evidently he did, as he cast off the sweat and dirt, in sort of an instant shower. Appearances meant a lot to Mal.

"Jadeite. What's up?" He greeted me in his usual brusque manner

"Something big. The Red and Blue Crystals have been stolen, and the Martian and Mercurian governments are holding us responsible."

"What?!?" His usually soft voice jumped a few decibels.

"I know. I was wondering if it was really our doing, but I judge from your reaction that it wasn't."

"Damn straight it isn't our doing! Strong as Earth is, we couldn't take on Mercury and Mars, especially given that the Selenites would probably join them!"

I sighed. Leave it to Malachite to look at things from a military perspective.

He went on. "Jadeite, you'd better get on this. If worst comes to worst, I'll get us ready for war. But until then, this is your problem. Deal with it."

I turned white. That tone meant business. Mal was my superior, technically. I tried to stay calm. "Fine." I walked off. I could feel his eyes on my back.

I turned the corner out of the training grounds. Wonderful. Not only were two of the Terran Kingdom's staunchest allies convinced that we had robbed them of national treasures, but I was apparently alone on this one. Oh, well. Second Rule.

I had several Rules of Politics, of my own invention. The First was: "If possible, make it someone else's problem." The Second was: "If it's nobody's problem but yours, try to talk your way out of it." I planned to talk the two officials into the ground, and then assure them once again that it wasn't Earth's doing. Hopefully I could confuse them enough that they would be totally susceptible to even the most rudimentary arguments. Rule Six: "People are idiots."

Unfortunately, it didn't turn out quite that way. I spent three hours talking with the Director and the Ambassador, and although I spoke in enough verbal cloverleaf intersections to reduce the mind of your average Kingdom citizen to cotton fluff, the dignitaries remained undaunted. They were, I remembered, more than your average Kingdom citizen. I decided to add in a bit of hypnotism, not so much that it really heavily impacted them, but just to give them a slightly greater tendency to believe me. I was always especially good at illusion, and they left me thinking that though the Crystals weren't safe and sound, that they soon would be and everything would be fine. They would snap out of it as soon as someone really talked to them about the problem, which I figured would buy Zoisite's men a couple more days in which to do their dirty work, and me a couple days to do some investigating of my own.

As potential burglars, the Outer Planets were ruled out immediately; they weren't firmly established in the System, and they all seemed eager to foster a relationship with the Earth. So, I talked around the governments of the various Inner Planets, and it soon became apparent that, not only hadn't the Terran Kingdom taken the Crystals, but neither had any other major System government. That just firmly established what I had suspected from the start: that it had to have been a terrorist group, and one of some means. There were three such groups operating in the system at that time: the Anarchist Movement, the Black Moon Family, and the Disciples of Jupiter.

The Anarchists were just that: Anarchists. They just seemed to like blowing things up for the heck of it, and so I decided that these thefts weren't their style. That left the Disciples and the Black Moon.

The Black Moon Family was founded by Prince Dimand, a far-flung relative of some obscure branch Lunar royalty, who had in recent years made a bid for the throne. He was, of course, laughed down, but he seethed at the insult and built up a powerful criminal network. They were the largest crime syndicate in the System, and could possibly have seen the Crystals as a method to power. And since I had personally announced the Terran Kingdom's approval Dimand's refusal, they might want to make the Terran Kingdom suffer in the bargain.

The Disciples of Jupiter was an ancient society of unknown purpose and potential, although they had clashed several times in the past with the Terran Kingdom, and twice with actual Guardsmen. From Nephrite's report of his experience about 6 years ago, they had the manpower to do the Mercurian job, and they certainly had no love for the Terran Empire, but they really had no use for the crystals as far as I could see. The Black Moon seemed the obvious choice. I decided to have a meeting with one of their representatives.

Although I was hoping to speak with Dimand himself, or at least his flunky Rubeus, all I managed to get was a minor Family member by the name of Garnett, who resided in one of the less desirable sections of Tokyo.

Garnett was one of the Selenites who had joined the Family, not so much because he wanted to see Dimand on the throne, but for the profits involved in belonging to a crime syndicate. He was overdressed, and looked sleazy, like he had just crawled out of a sewer. He agreed to meet me in a gaudily decorated office on the second floor of a run-down whorehouse in Tokyo's bad section, and was flanked by six or seven scantily clad female Droids.

Droids were like Golems: they were magical creatures that could endure for years. Unlike Golems, however, Droids required no mana use by the caster: they were neat little crystal packages churned out by the Black Moon Family. Just add invocation. Garnett was apparently making a little extra profit on the side by using his Droids as dominatrixes, as well as bodyguards. Although Droids weren't particularly bright, they did posses as much intelligence as some humans, and as such I thought it prudent to weave an illusion.

Illusions were my specialty. Unlike other spells, they weren't cast: they were woven. The weaver had to build up a perfectly detailed and acceptable image in their mind. A coarse image would be seen through in a short while, or might not take at all. Given a good convincing image, however, it took very little mana to impress it upon the mind of the target. A really expert illusion weaver could convince even the most sensible person that up was down, in was out, good was bad, that everything was a particular shade of pink, and that a twelve-legged platypus was waltzing away on their little finger. I could keep a crowd of thousands convinced for hours that it was snowing during June. They would see it, feel it, taste it, hear it, and if I concentrated hard enough, some of them might just convince themselves that they had frozen to death. They would turn their own hearts off and die. For these eight, nothing so drastic was needed. Just a quiet but firm suggestion that I was holding the Red and Blue Crystals.

"Do you," I asked, "Know what these are?"

The Droids staid silent and poker-faced, but I noticed that Garnett's jaw dropped almost imperceptibly, and his pupils widened. Telltale signs of stress. He knew.

"No," he said, just a little too hastily to be sincere. He repeated himself more quietly and cracked a knuckle. These movements wouldn't be noticed by the average person, but I picked them up anyway. One got used to noticing the quiet, almost subconscious movements of people, when one needed to establish the truth of someone's statements as often as I did. Where others would need a complex and invasive truth spell, I did it almost automatically. Even Nephrite, the psychic, couldn't tell the difference between truth and lie as easily as I could. Politics is shady business, and old jokes place it as second in the Shadow Arts only to necromancy and espionage. They aren't far off.

"You're sure? You have no idea?"

"None." He motioned towards the Droids, who almost imperceptibly shifted to an offensive footing. "Now get to the point, before I have them throw you out."

I decided to ignore his threats, but did unlimber my pike from it's place on my back. "They're crystals, dumbass. Red and blue crystals, to be precise." Garnett peered closer. I vanished the crystals with a slight flourish, before Garnett could get too close a look at them. If he touched them, he would know they were just fakes. I hadn't bothered to include full sensory illusion for such a simple purpose. "We recovered them from the corpse of a Black Moon family member in a raid the day before yesterday. You might as well tell us everything."

I was lying, of course, stock-in-trade of the politics game. Hopefully, Garnett would get spooked enough by the supposed recovery of the Crystals to actually tell me something useful. I hoped in vain.

"I told you, I've got no idea what you're talking about." Another lie: his nervously twisting fingers spoke silent volumes. He switched to the offensive again. "Now look, do you actually have something to ask me, or are you going to stand there and insult my intelligence?"

Garnett wasn't totally inexperienced in conversational dueling, but neither was he an expert. I decided to provoke him. If I read him right, he would have the Droids charge me unless I appeased him. If I read him right.

"Yeah, I've got something to ask you," I said, leaning forward, "Why don't you just stop giving me shit? Now tell me why you took the Crystals, and I might not kill you."

This time I set him off. "Hey, man, I don't have to take this!" He stood up and motioned to the Droids. "Show him the door."

That was what I was waiting for. If he was smart, he would have taken the insults and just denied me to a standstill. But now, he had attacked a Guardsman. I was fully within the law to do whatever I wanted. With him, and his Droids.

One of the Droids, on my left, charged me. Wickedly curved blades sprouted from her forearms, but that didn't save her. I whipped out my pike and laid it's end into the ground. The Droid was instantly impaled. I stepped forward slightly, and brought the pike around to the right. The edge of the extra long blade decapitated one Droid, as the point speared another. Three down. Next to my right was Garnett, who had fallen backwards out of his chair. With him out of the way, I took a moment to brace myself, and kicked the corpses off my pike. They tumbled into the remaining four Droids, leaving all six in a heap. With a few deft downward thrusts, I eliminated every last one. End result, seven dead Droids. Elapsed time, six seconds. The bodies crumbled bloodlessly to dust, as was the way with Droids. I put away my still clean pike and hauled Garnett to his feet.

I decided to take the threatening approach. "Tell me why I should let you live."

He snapped, and words spilled out of his mouth like a torrent of water. I gave him a few good shakes to calm him down.

"OK, fine, man! Look, maybe I picked up a couple of crystals the other day, looked just like those. I got 'em from another Family member, went with him to meet with some upper-crust guys. Maybe I got there, and who do I see, Rubeus! Head honcho next to Dimand and Saffire themselves! I tell the guy to hand the gems over to Rubeus, but he says he wants more money, he knows what these are. So Rubeus goes, OK, and goes to get some money, but he turns around quickly again and breaks this guy's neck! I get the gems off the corpse, and give 'em to Rubeus, who hands 'em to this other scary-looking guy next to him and tells me I'll get the same if I ever say anything about this, and the other guy walks off and Rubeus just vanishes and you'll have to find him if you want more info and please don't kill me!"

I hmphed, and tossed a very powerful suggestion that he was dead at him. He stumbled and fell. I figured he'd be out for at least three hours. By then, he'd think it was a near-death experience and maybe find religion or something. Whatever. The thing now was to find Rubeus. No, scratch that. The thing now was to get back to my house, eat lunch, and get to my office to see what was what.

After sating my hunger with ramen, I showed up at my office. A secretary handed me a bundle of messages, which I paged through after sitting down.

First the good news. Neither the Mercurian Ambassador nor the Martian Director of Planetary Treasures had tried to contact me. My spell had held, even three days after the casting.

Next the bad news. Variously-titled officials from each of the Inner Planets and the Moon had left messages, running the gauntlet from "Please return our White Crystal," to "You have one week to return the Green Crystal, or it's war!" I placed my head in my hands and shook it. This was bad. This was very bad. The last message was from Malachite. The Grey Crystal was gone too, slipped away in the night without a trace. I massaged my eyes, turned around wearily, and stepped out once again.

Given my previous difficulty getting to see Rubeus, I thought that I would have to go through another dozen Family members to get to him. I proved inaccurate.

Halfway on my way to a known Black Moon hangout, Rubeus intercepted me. He was wearing green slacks and a red tank top, and hovered in the air, arms crossed, feet together. I stopped, took out my pike, and held it at the ready.

"I thought Malachite had that pose copyrighted."

Rubeus smiled and floated down to earth. "Hardly. Is this better?" He took a combat-ready stance. "I hear you're interested in our organization. Allow me to... enlighten you."

He threw a hard punch that went straight through my defenses and caught me directly on the jaw. I reeled backwards, and he followed up with an uppercut to my gut. I staggered backwards and spit blood. Rubeus tried to come around with a right hook, but by this time I had gotten things together again. I threw myself backwards and hauled up my pike. If Rubeus had stayed still, he would have been impaled. As it was, however, he twisted around to his right, and came down on his back to my left. I hauled myself up and jabbed downward with the pike, but Rubeus had rolled out of the way and flipped to his feet. I swiped at him, and he jumped back. I swiped again, but this time he blocked the pole with his forearms. He kneed me in the chin, and pulled a knife from a pocket in his pants. He threw the knife, which I smacked away with the flat of my blade. The knife buried itself in the dirt. I turned to bring the pike around to bear on Rubeus, but he stopped it with a kick that caught me in the side. I heard a rib crack, and winced in pain. Those boots hurt. I decided to get nasty.

I smacked him with an illusion of blades, swirling around him in all directions. He suddenly stood completely still, not moving in the hope that the 'blades' would miss him. I lunged at him with my pike, but this shattered the illusion and he swirled away just in time. I brought the pike around, and nicked him on the bicep. He turned towards me, having produced another throwing knife from who knows where. I knew that he wouldn't miss with this one, so I hit him with another illusion. I reminded him what it felt like when he got cut so slightly with my pike, and then mentally spread that sensation to every part of his body. Small cuts opened at various points on his skin. It was a very powerful illusion. He screamed, and charged me. Not what I had been expecting. I took his shoulder full in the gut, and heard two more ribs snap. I lost my grip on my pike, and crashed to the ground.

He brought his knee down hard on my throat, wound up, and broke my jaw. I got fed up. A blast of energy served to free me from his weight. Being a Mage of some skill himself, Rubeus blocked it, suffering only a few broken bones instead of the swift death intended for him. That gave me the time I needed to open a warp hole just below him, and smack him with one last disorienting illusion. He cursed at me, and vanished to the middle of the Pacific. The illusion would keep him from teleporting for some hours. He would have to fly back, a trip of several days. Meanwhile, I dragged myself upright. Hopefully, Rubeus would be the only thing the Black Moon felt like throwing at me. Hopefully.

My little 'meeting' with Rubeus hadn't gone quite as well as I had hoped, and now he would probably be six times more likely to attempt to kill me again than tell me what I needed to know. I decided to check back in at my office, to see if I had gotten any more news during the time I took to heal.

Once again, good news and bad. The bad news was that Quicksilver and Fuegan had snapped out of their trances and were screaming for blood. The good news was that Zoisite's spies had finally hit paydirt. They had found the uniforms in a Black Moon warehouse, guarded by a small army of Black Moon thugs. Not that that told me anything I didn't already know, but what the heck, it could be useful. I decided to let Malachite in on this one. He would appreciate it.

As it turned out, Zoisite had already informed her... eh.. his, lover. I arrived at Malachite's quarters only to find another note, to the effect that he was out raiding a warehouse and that he would be back soon. I teleported to the warehouse.

I arrived about three feet over Malachite's head and two behind him. He sensed my presence anyway.

"Ah, Jadeite, you're just in time. I've got seventy five good Kingdom soldiers ready to smear that building and anyone inside it across the countryside. Any specific requests?"

I floated down from my place to stand next to Malachite. He had something of a dark streak, that he indulged like this every once in a while. "Just one. I need whoever is in charge to be left alive. I want to talk to him."

Mal sighed. "Very well, Jadeite. If you insist." He switched focus from me to the building, and called out to his men. "All right, go in!"

The soldiers, garbed in the light, durable grey armor of the Terran Kingdom and wielding broadswords, charged the warehouse. A few of them went in by way of the front door, but most crashed through the blacked-out windows stationed at regular intervals in the walls. For about ten minutes there emitted from the building sounds of fighting, mostly scuffling but punctuated by the occasional clash of steel on steel or scream of steel on flesh. After the noise had quieted down, Mal and I walked in through the main door.

The warehouse was a maze of crates and weapon racks, most of which contained scimitars and crows-feet and other apparatus of war. Malachite walked over to a crate and ripped it open; the crate contained hundreds of gems blazoned with upside-down black crescent moons. Droids. While Mal rummaged through the Family's stockpile, I walked down hall after hall, looking for anyone who might be said to be in charge. I found it in the form of Rubeus.

He was sitting down with his back against a crate, pinned down by seven of the burliest Kingdom knights I had ever seen, one of whom had a broadsword at Rubeus' throat. Another held a crossbow leveled at his chest, another was sticking Martian anti-evil charms on every exposed portion of his skin, and yet four more were holding down a limb each. Four wounded knights and two dead lay in a corner, and despite the toll it took to bring him down, Rubeus did not look happy.

"So, Rubeus! Record flight time! Enjoy the South Pacific?"

Rubeus just snarled at me and tried to move, at which point the crossbow trigger tightened slightly, the swordsman tensed, the anti-evil charms glowed a bright red, and the limb-bearers made ready to wrestle Rubeus to the ground again. He went limp again.

I unhooked my pike, and gestured with it at the scars on his arms and chest. "Remember this," I asked. Rubeus darkened in rage. "Now. I've got a question or two about a little robbery involving the Rainbow Crystals. Tell me who you gave them to and I might not impale you."

Rubeus spat in my face. I drew back and wiped it off my cheek, before putting away my pike.

"All right. We'll do this the hard way." I raised my hand above his chest for dramatic effect, and started to weave. This was a touch-only illusion. I spoke.

"Now, tell me who you gave the Rainbow Crystals to."

Rubeus shook his head. I tightened my hand as if squeezing an invisible ball, and Rubeus broke out in sudden sweat.

"See? You really do want to tell me, Rubeus, don't you? See how your heart pounds when you don't?" I squeezed a little harder, and Rubeus grunted in pain.

"See? Now why don't you tell me who you gave the Crystals to?" Squeeze.

Silence.

"You want to tell me, Rubeus. You really do." Squeeze.

A noise.

"What's that?" I let up the pressure.

"An... Antares..."

"Why did you give him the Crystals?"

"We... we decided to steal them... make Earth look bad... with the System at war we could take over with ease... auctioned them off..."

I knew everything I needed to know. I clapped. Rubeus passed out.

"How I do love payback."

I turned and walked out of the warehouse.

Although I knew who had taken the crystals and why, I still didn't have them, and if I didn't get them back quickly then the Black Moon would still have accomplished it's objective. Earth would be at odds with everyone else, and the System would collapse into war. During the war, the Black Moon would attack the Imperial Palace on the Moon, and seize control of the government. Earth would be devastated, and the Black Moon would probably take control of it into the bargain. That Antares had the Crystals was just a coincidence. I wondered how much he paid for them.

Antares' place was a four story tower in Indonesia. I made my way up to it, and recalled the descriptions my companions had given me. It really did look like a dark Jovian flag, and radiated a general feeling of unease. I made my way up to the door and knocked. Shortly afterward, a receptionist opened the door.

"I'm sorry, sir, but Mr. Antares isn't in..."

I could sense the lie. She couldn't have made it more obvious if she tried.

"Like hell he is, woman. I need to talk with him." I barged in. The woman tried to stop me, but I passed a hand over her forehead. "Sleep," I said. She collapsed.

I started up a set of stairs I found behind the secretary's desk. After some weary climbing, I reached the door at the top of the flight. Nephrite made the climb seem so much easier in his report. I opened the door onto Antares' personal chambers. The three orbs that Nephrite had worked with had been removed, and replaced by a pillar, on which rested the seven Rainbow Crystals in a leather case. Antares was facing the door, glaring at me over the Crystals with his startling green eyes. I pulled out my pike. Antares started to talk.

"You Guardsmen! Every time I eliminate a political rival or try to harness the power that is rightfully mine, one of you comes knocking! Well, I'm sick of it, and this time you're too late."

"What on Earth are you talking about?!? You bought some stolen property, and if I don't return it the Earth is doomed. Now stop with the melodrama and give me the Crystals!"

"I'm afraid I can't do that. You see, your world is doomed in more ways than one. And, as I said before, you're a bit too late to stop me." And his eyes began to unglow.

Those unglowing eyes were the scariest thing I had ever seen. When Malachite got angry, or cast some great spell, his eyes glowed a cold blue-white. But Antares' eyes didn't glow. Instead of getting brighter and projecting light, they seemed to suck it up. They went from green to forest green to a green so deep it was almost black, and then, incredibly, they got darker. It was like I was staring into a bottomless pit, and the pit was staring back into me. I shuddered, and pulled away. At that point I noticed the Crystals.

Or rather, the lack thereof. They were all gone. One Silver Crystal floated above the case, projecting a light that filled every corner of the room, and yet was still absorbed by Antares' eyes. A voice seemed to speak to me from out of the Abyss.

***COME WITH ME,*** it spoke.

*I.. I don't trust you.*

***YOU NEED NOT TRUST ME,*** spoke the voice. ***SIMPLY COME.*** It was the darkest, most provocative voice I had ever known, filled with hidden promises of wealth and power, power and fame, and always power. Who could resist? I went away from the light.

* * *

Three days after Jadeite left to get the Crystals back, as I was sitting in my office thinking of Mal, Jadeite walked in, and plopped a large silver Crystal down on my desk.

"Jadeite! We need the Rainbow crystals, not some silver thing!"

"They're in there, Zoisite. All seven of them. They were... changed."

"Changed? How? How are you going to explain this to the Planets? They want blood! What should we do with this thing? Where have you been?"

Jadeite just looked at me coldly, and turned away.

- End -


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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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