Hunters Hunted

(Tears of Crystal - Pt.2)

© 1997/2006 by Stayka deyAvemta


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"Endymion!"

The call reached him in the depths of darkness. What did the strange sound mean?

"Endymion, wake up!"

He floated in a starless night, alone with his thoughts and the voice. It was a command, so it seemed that Endymion was a name - his name, as there was no one else around.

He soared towards higher levels of consciousness. Dark energy began to fill his mind, and he felt strangely revived. He opened his eyes and saw another kind of darkness which was pierced by an eerie, duskily coloured light.

Feeling returned to his body, and he discovered that he was lying on a hard surface, held by chains of dark light. Rings of energy pulsed over his unmoving form and filled him with renewed strength.

"Finally you are awake." That voice again, female, seductive and infinitely powerful. Knowledge seeped into his mind. It was Queen Beryl, his Queen, his mistress, the one he had to follow without question.

He felt the chains dissolve and got up. When he looked down his body he saw that he wore a black uniform with a long cape. In front of him he could see a majestic woman with fiery red hair sitting on a throne - Queen Beryl. Immediately he knelt and bowed deeply before her.

"I appoint you to be the commander of my forces, Prince Endymion," she announced. "Your task is to hunt down two traitors and retrieve the silver crystal from our enemies." She gave him the details of the job, and he knew that it was his destiny to fulfill her wishes without hesitation or doubt.

"I hear and obey, my Queen." Prince Endymion turned and went away to gather a task force of youma.

Beryl sighed. She should have interrogated him before the mind wipe, she thought, angry at her omission. Now his knowledge of the Sailor Senshi had gone with the rest of his memories.

* * *

"Somehow we have to free Tuxedo Kamen!" Tears streamed down Usagi's face, and her friend Rei tried to calm her down, to no avail.

The five Senshi had gathered in Rei's room at the Hikawa Shrine and tried to figure out a way to release their hero Tuxedo Kamen from the clutches of the Dark Kingdom.

Ami's information that she had seen Kunzite and Zoisite in the city only complicated the situation. The Dark Kings certainly were peeved because they had lost the rainbow crystals and with them the silver crystal.

The cats Luna and Artemis looked worriedly at Usagi. In her current state she was prone to inconsiderate actions, and fighting both Kunzite and Zoisite was something that needed thorough planning.

Kunzite almost managed to kill four of the Senshi on his own, and if it had not been for SailorVenus' surprise appearance, he might very well have succeeded. Zoisite on the other hand gravely wounded Tuxedo Kamen twice, and he would have finished him, had he not been called back by Queen Beryl.

"I just don't understand how we can be useful for Kunzite's plans," Minako wondered. "I admit I don't like this at all!"

"You may call it farfetched, but I have the impression he had things in mind that weren't related to his usual job," Ami said thoughtfully. "Neither he nor Zoisite wore their usual uniform."

"Jadeite and Nephrite disguised as normal humans, too," Rei observed.

"But they didn't hesitate to attack us immediately when they encountered one of us," Ami said. Actually she was even more perplexed about the fact that they had acted like a couple of lovers. The inhabitants of the Dark Kingdom were supposed to be utterly heartless creatures, weren't they? And the fact that they were two guys only added to the confusion.

"They abducted Tuxedo Kamen," Usagi cried angrily. "In the name of the Moon I will punish them! - Where have you seen them? We should go there and challenge them!"

"Usagi! I don't think that's a good idea," Luna squealed. Makoto also made a face. She vividly remembered how her Supreme Thunder had been effortlessly absorbed by the powers of the silver-haired King, and she really disliked feeling that helpless.

"But I have to do something!" Usagi almost broke down again.

"We still don't know where the entry to the Dark Kingdom is located," Minako sighed. "The Kings can open their own doorways - maybe we should try to lay a trap for them and force them to let us in."

"Do you think we can leave the Dark Kingdom again once we've entered it? I do not even speak of how we could overcome all the youma, Beryl and the two Kings to free Tuxedo Kamen." Ami looked doubtfully.

"As Tuxedo Kamen is still there we have to rescue him!"

The others sighed audibly. Usagi was rather single-minded when it came to her beloved hero.

"I suggest we first try to figure out what Kunzite and Zoisite are up to," Ami said. "If they're still around in Tokyo, I mean. When we observe them we might even figure out a way to enter the Dark Kingdom stealthily."

"As much as I would like to strike directly, this is the best idea yet," Rei agreed.

* * *

"Only one more room!" Zoisite wrapped his arms around Kunzite's waist and gazed up to him expectantly.

Kunzite sighed. Conjuring things demanded quite at lot of energy, but unfortunately he couldn't deny Zoisite anything, especially when his beloved looked at him like this. Kunzite almost lost himself in these wonderful emerald eyes again. He smiled and gave Zoisite a gentle kiss on the lips before he went back to the task of redecorating the next room.

By now they were a third through with Nephrite's mansion, and it definitely looked much nicer in the parts that they had finished. Of course a lot of small things were still missing, but Kunzite decided they could obtain them in the mundane way. It was much too energy consuming to conjure devices with lots of details such as technical equipment.

"This was enough for today," he finally said. Exhausted he brushed back some strands of his long silvery hair that had fallen into his face. "I really should teach you to conjure something other than ice crystals or fire, little rat. Actually it's not too difficult."

"I know - I have already managed to conjure clothing for me! - but somehow my power level is quite a bit lower than yours. We should rather train that," Zoisite said sulkily. Even though he sincerely loved Kunzite, it still rankled that his mate was much more powerful than him.

"We will - in due time," Kunzite promised. Playfully he curled a strand of Zoisite's coppery golden hair around his index finger. The colour always reminded him of the burning fire that Zoisite embodied and that he had grown so fond of.

"Okay. What about dinner? You must be starving after all the magickal work."

"Only if I don't have to teleport."

"I think I should be able to open a doorway that bridges the distance to the city."

"Just a moment. I want to check the detector net I left in the city to see whether there are youma around who might detect us." Kunzite concentrated and set up the connection which was a tiny tendril of magickal energy that should go unnoticed even if there were youma out in search of them. "Okay, everything is still quiet. Then let's go."

Zoisite opened the doorway and they arrived in the city and steered into a nice little restaurant. Fortunately money wasn't an issue as they had turned some conjured gemstones into a more than sufficient amount of the local currency.

"I wonder why Beryl hasn't sent any youma to catch us yet," Kunzite remarked.

"Maybe she's occupied with her dear Tuxedo Kamen." Zoisite grinned wickedly. "If he's still alive, that is."

"Probably."

They ordered an opulent meal and indulged in their feast. The Earth Realm had a lot of amenities to offer, they discovered. Zoisite gave Kunzite a beatific smile, grasped his hand and laid it against his cheek.

"We should have done this a long time before," Kunzite said and caressed him tenderly. "As soon as we have overthrown Queen Beryl we should introduce a couple of changes in the Dark Kingdom."

"I vote for some nice Japanese restaurants," Zoisite grinned.

"Just what I had in mind."

When they had finished their dinner, the Kings decided to return to Nephrite's - or rather now their - mansion. They left the restaurant only to run into Aino Minako.

Of course they didn't recognize her in her civilian outfit, but probably they wouldn't even have noticed her, had she been clad in her Senshi fuku.

Minako was rather amused when she saw the affectionate looks the two exchanged. One could almost forget that they were evil and had to be fought. For a moment she considered turning into SailorVenus and challenge them, but alone she didn't dare. And anyway, she agreed to follow Ami's idea of observing them to find out what they were up to.

The Kings looked rather strange without their usual uniforms, but Minako had to admit they were really handsome. It would be especially a pity to blast Kunzite into oblivion, she mused. Quietly she followed them until they reached a small deserted street where they conjured a doorway of black energy and disappeared.

Minako frowned. What were Kunzite and Zoisite up to? She only wished she could find out where this doorway led to. Well, the least she could do was to check the restaurant if they left some youma there to gather energy or whatever.

The blonde girl returned to the restaurant. It was a really nice place, a bit on the expensive side, to be precise. Under the perplexed looks of waiters and patrons she examined the interior, but to her surprise she couldn't sense any negative energies around. It became more and more puzzling.

* * *

Endymion sat in the quarters he had been given and thought on a promising strategy. Beryl was utterly displeased with the performances of his predecessors, and he wanted to show her that she could trust him to succeed where the others had failed her.

Unfortunately he had even two tasks at the moment, none of them easily accomplished. The silver crystal was on Beryl's wanted list for quite some time now, while the two traitors were the former commanders of the youma task force. Endymion feared that there were several youma who still were loyal to Kunzite or Zoisite which might complicate his job even more.

The next problem was that no one seemed to know where they had fled to. Beryl had tried to locate them, but much to her anger they seemed to have dissolved completely. Cowards! Probably they hid in the Earth Realm where Beryl's powers were comparably weak.

Much more obvious were the five Sailor Senshi who stood against him when it came to retrieving the silver crystal. He reviewed recordings of their appearances that Beryl hat conjured in her orb and wondered how those pathetic girls had managed to thwart almost every action the Dark Kingdom had taken.

They were ridiculously weak - he was sure he could blast every one of them single-handedly - and still they had overcome all of the youma and Kings that were sent against them. He had to try something new and unexpected to emerge victorious.

* * *

"So they haven't done anything to the restaurant," Rei said, "but that doesn't mean they're not up to anything evil."

"Maybe they make a vacation," Makoto proposed. The others looked at her and just shook their heads. Normally comments like this should have come from Usagi, but SailorMoon was still on her revenge trip.

"Why can't Ami locate them so that we can surprise them together? If we join our forces..."

"...we will still be overpowered by Kunzite, that's for sure," Rei said frustratedly. "Remember - my Fire Soul attack was sucked up by the force field dome he had created, just as the attacks of Makoto's."

"Well, I managed to hurt them with my Crescent Beam," Minako said smugly. "Maybe you should bait them into an ambush so that I can hit them from behind."

"Minako!" Makoto looked at her with shock. "We're supposed to be the good guys, and such an insidious attack doesn't befit our reputation at all!"

"But I guarantee you that it would work."

"We first have to find Kunzite and Zoisite before we can do anything," Ami said. "When we only run into them by chance we're never prepared to attack. We should dig out their hiding place and take the battle to them. That way we hopefully won't endanger innocent bystanders either."

"In theory that plan sounds great - but how can we go about it? It's not as if we could just ask them 'Hey, where are you going?'," Minako commented ironically.

"Can't you get a reading on them via your computer?" Rei asked Ami.

"That would be possible if they were in the vicinity, but it seems their base is farther away than my scanner reaches."

"It was much easier when the Dark Kingdom just sent some youma that we could simply blast apart," the black-haired girl grumbled. "I feel pretty uneasy imagining what things they are stealthily setting in motion behind our backs."

"I'm sure they will torture Tuxedo Kamen," Usagi sobbed. "And I can't do anything to help him!"

Further planning was stalled when the Senshi tried to calm down their leader, a task that wasn't too easily accomplished.

* * *

Prince Endymion finally settled on a tactic. He ordered a small legion of energy sensitive youma to occupy some strategical locations in Tokyo.

Hopefully either the Senshi or the traitors would trigger the sensor net - or maybe even both - and he could spring the trap and teleport them into the Dark Kingdom where Queen Beryl would take proper care of them.

Now all he could do was wait until someone used his or her powers.

* * *

"Don't you think it's awfully quiet?" Zoisite looked out of the window of their house. The dark forest outside reminded him a bit of the gloomy landscape of the Dark Kingdom. "Normally I ran into those Sailor brats every time I appeared in the Earth Realm, and now we're here for several days, and except for that Mercury girl we haven't seen any of them."

"Maybe they went on a vacation?" Kunzite shrugged and stepped behind him. "I won't complain that they didn't disturb our shopping trips." After the first visits in town they had tried to be as inconspicuous as possible and refrained from using either doorways or teleport spells.

Zoisite had convinced Kunzite that he should try out the red Ferrari which stood in the garage behind the house. After a time of trial and error, Kunzite had even managed to drive the car out of the garage, but not without demolishing the rear bumper when it accidentally started in reverse.

But shortly after he was able to steer the automobile halfways securely through the streets, and Zoisite declared that he wanted a car, too, but one that didn't have any dents and scratches in the varnish. (Well, the garage door wasn't as wide as Kunzite would have liked.)

By now they had also finished the renovation of their house - or rather Kunzite finished it. Zoisite had been irresistible when he convinced him that he, Kunzite, could do it much faster and better than him.

This threatened to become a habit, Kunzite thought wryly. He really should try to withstand Zoisite's enchanting smile and teasing kisses once in a while. Although, if he actually managed to do so, his beloved would certainly pout, and that was even worse.

Kunzite wrapped his arms around the smaller man.

"What about the silver crystal?" Zoisite asked and leaned back against him. "It's still in the possession of SailorMoon. If she doesn't show up anymore, how are we supposed to get our hands on it?"

"Currently I worry more about the fact that we haven't seen or heard anything from Queen Beryl and her troops," Kunzite remarked. "And I'm likewise astonished that Obsidian hasn't shown up yet to harass us."

"Well, first they have to find us. As long as we stay here, or don't use our powers while we're away from the wards of the house, it should prove rather difficult for them to locate us. Although I hate it that we have to hide from Queen Beryl." He turned to face Kunzite and looked up to him. His lover's cool platinum eyes always had a soothing effect on him.

"I don't like it either - but I must admit I don't want to try out if I have managed to break her hold on me permanently, or if she can control me again once I'm back in her reach. I wonder anyway how you have managed to defy her so often, little rat."

"Must have been my bad temper," Zoisite grinned. "You know I don't listen to logical or other arguments if someone gets me mad."

"Hm, as far as I know there are some arguments that never fail to get your attention." With a smile the silver-haired King tenderly caressed the nape of Zoisite's neck, and the young man couldn't help but melt against Kunzite's body.

"But that's your privilege only," Zoisite purred.

"I hope so."

"And what are we going to do now?" As he did most of the time, Zoisite looked up to Kunzite for guidance. It was always much easier to let him decide what to do.

"We could walk a bit around the city and check the detector crystals I set up so that we can be sure they work properly and we could visit our favourite restaurant. What do you think?"

"Sounds good to me."

They dressed for their trip. Zoisite had grown rather fond of colourful clothing since he didn't need to wear his dull grey uniform anymore, and he put on a combination of red shirt, blue jeans and a white jacket, while Kunzite chose an outfit in dark blue and black.

When they mounted the Ferrari, Kunzite sighed. The car was in a bad shape from his first driving experiments, and he wasn't sure if glossing over the dents with a magickal spell would suffice to get everything in order again. He had the feeling the chassis was slightly contorted, too. Nonetheless, he repaired the scratches and dents in the varnish with a flick of his hand.

"What about buying a new car?" Zoisite asked. "I'd like to have a small one in green or white."

"I think you're right. This car draws too much attention."

They drove into the city and got rid of the damaged Ferrari. Shortly after they owned a nice white Toyota.

"And now let's get something to eat," Zoisite proposed. "By the way, do you sense any youma in the vicinity?"

"I have the impression there is a whole horde around, although currently they don't seem to be active." At least the crystals detected a considerable amount of dark energy in the area.

"How touching that Queen Beryl wants to get us back that badly," Zoisite said ironically.

"I wonder if we could not convince at least some of the youma to join us," Kunzite pondered. "I know there are several of them who should still be loyal to me."

"No wonder if you consider the rate at which our beloved Queen fries them whenever something doesn't work out to her liking."

"Exactly. We can use that to our advantage and turn the balance a bit more to our favour."

"It's too bad that some of my best youma were obliterated by those Sailor brats, among them Gureepu, Suzuran and Housenka." Zoisite grumbled. "And if Nephrite were still alive, I would kill him for frying Yasha."

"Unfortunately we don't dare trust Obsidian, for he's a bit peeved at you since you ordered Nephrite's death and he got this new nursemaid, but there are some youma among my troops that we might contact," Kunzite said thoughtfully. "Oniwabandana certainly, and maybe Burizaa and Shakoukai. We shouldn't get in touch with too many of them anyway as they could give away our hiding-place."

"That would be prudent. Now that we renovated our home, I'd like to stay there for a while." Zoisite took Kunzite's arm. "Let's go to the restaurant. I'm hungry, and we can think about a plan much better when we sit down in nice surroundings with a good meal and something tasty to drink."

"Good idea. I still wonder how I can contact my future 'allies' without alerting the rest. Especially as the setup of all these youma here reeks of a trap."

They went to their restaurant and enjoyed a grand meal.

"The main problem is that we can't use our powers actively at the moment," Kunzite pondered. "If I could figure out something to shield our powers from the youma! It's absolutely annoying that we can't risk a teleport or conjuring here in the city anymore."

"You're so right," Zoisite sighed. "Even one of my ice crystals would give us away, and this makes me feel utterly unarmed."

"You could resort to more mundane weapons. Knives would do almost as well."

"But my trademark attack are ice crystals and fire beside telekinesis! What will the people say if I suddenly start to throw around knives? No way! You will have to devise something that allows us to work our magick again."

Kunzite sighed. This was typical. He had to devise something.

"Well, you are stronger and everything," Zoisite gave him his best enchanting smile, as he knew the current facial expression of his lover too well.

"Yeah, and you know how to twist me around your little finger, little rat." Kunzite closed his eyes and pondered how he could get a message to Oniwabandana without triggering the trap. Maybe he should check her civilian persona Asahina Nana. "Are you finished with your meal? We have to make a visit."

"A visit?" Zoisite looked wonderingly.

"Correct. When we're lucky we will meet a certain reporter in her house."

"Oh, you mean Oniwabandana?"

"The same. Only that she goes under the name of Asahina Nana when she's in the Earth Realm."

They paid and went to the youma's house in Tokyo.

* * *

Kunzite rang at the door, and a brown-haired human female in colourful clothing opened. When she recognized the silver-haired King and his companion, she smiled and saluted.

"Lord Kunzite! You know that Queen Beryl sent Prince Endymion with a veritable army of youma to retrieve you?" She waved them into her house. It was elegantly furnished, and they took place in the living-room, Kunzite and Zoisite on the sofa and Oniwabandana opposite them in an arm-chair.

"Of course. I assume your loyalty does not lie with Endymion?" Kunzite concentrated to sense if the youma lied.

Unfortunately he couldn't weave a real truth spell for fear to be discovered, but he was sure that he could tell any falseness Oniwabandana spoke as she had been in his service for many years now.

"Certainly not," she assured. "I won't forget that you have always treated me fairly and even saved me from Queen Beryl's wrath more than once."

"Good." Kunzite relaxed. She had really spoken the truth as far as he could tell without the spell. He would have hated to destroy this particular youma.

Zoisite looked askance at him. What did Kunzite have in mind? His lover smiled and stroked his neck.

"Would you like me to take another photo of you?" Oniwabandana asked amusedly.

"Maybe later. For now I'd like you to inform me about the plans of Prince Endymion and try to find out who is still on our side."

"You might be surprised - there are more youma on your side than you would guess. Queen Beryl's last rages cost lots of loyal minions their lives, and they grow more and more malcontent. The only thing that prohibits an uprising is the fact that they aren't organized and they fear Beryl's power."

"Well, that's something one can work with," Kunzite said thoughtfully. "We only have to find a way to contact the rebellious youma back in the Dark Kingdom without being noticed. I suspect that Queen Beryl is well aware of dissatisfied minions and has them under surveillance."

"And I can't ask too openly either," Oniwabandana warned. "The Queen knows that I belonged to your troops and will watch every suspect move I make."

"Then we'll have to find someone who's innocuous enough and who still won't betray us," Kunzite pondered. "It might be amusing if we could catch Endymion and brainwash him again to serve our side."

"I don't have to remind you that Endymion's power is probably as great as yours, Lord Kunzite?" Oniwabandana raised her eyebrows.

"No. But Beryl mind-wiped him only a short time ago, and no one can tell me that this wouldn't affect his abilities as well. He may know how to use his powers in general, but everything that needs training should be difficult to master for him for a while."

"You shouldn't forget that you have me to back you up, too," Zoisite said slightly pouty. "Remember, I almost got the twit in his Tuxedo Kamen alias."

"Of course, little rat." Kunzite gave him a consoling smile and tousled his hair. Actually he would prefer Endymion alive and mind-wiped again and not dead with an ice crystal in the back. "From today on we'll become the hunters' hunters," he declared with determination.

Zoisite and Oniwabandana looked expectantly at Kunzite to hear what he had in mind.

The End of Pt.2 - Goto Pt.3


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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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