The Final Countdown

(Tears of Crystal - Pt.27)

© 1999/2006 by Stayka deyAvemta

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Lord Cyanite looked at the unconscious form of Kunzite. He was amazed that Celestine had been able to capture the former Master Mage. He wasn't sure that he would have been able to, if he was truthful. Ah well, probably she tricked him with some female guile.

But what should he do with him now, Cyanite pondered. He didn't want to kill Kunzite right away. Who knew whether he could use him for some elaborate plan? Maybe he could use him as pawn against Metallia?

The best thing would be to put him into a stasis crystal so he could reactivate him whenever he needed him.

Cyanite concentrated, and a pink glow began to surround Kunzite. The main problem was that Kunzite was a Master Mage in his own right and he needed the most powerful stasis spell to be sure that he couldn't break out.

Slowly but surely, a thin layer of crystalline energy covered Kunzite's body. It took Cyanite several hours to complete this particular stasis spell, and when Kunzite was enclosed in the perfectly symmetrical pink crystal, Cyanite felt pretty much exhausted. He wasn't even able to teleport into his quarters anymore, so he slumped down on his throne and tried to relax a little bit.

Thus, he was completely taken by surprise when suddenly Zoisite materialised in an angry flurry of pink cherry blossom petals. The small man jumped at him and began to violently beat him up with his bare fists.

"What have you done to my Kunzite-sama?" he shouted. "Give him back to me! I will kill you, if you don't give me back my Kunzite-sama!!!"

Unfortunately, Cyanite was much too exhausted to strike back with either his magickal powers or physically, and so Zoisite managed to beat him virtually black and blue.

"I will teach you to attack my Kunzite-sama!" Zoisite cried and began to entomb Cyanite in a crystal of his own making. Unfortunately, his usual problem with crystals resurfaced and it only turned out to become a greenish blue ice crystal, but for the time being it was sufficient to imprison the weakened Lord Cyanite.

Now that he had finished with the ancient Battle Mage, Zoisite turned to his captured beloved. With his fists, he beat at the pink crystal, but to no avail.

* * *

Endymion had the impression he had already been running through the depths of the Dark Kingdom for hours without finding Queen Beryl. The blonde klutz followed him with doggish devotion and got on his nerves with her perpetual love oaths, but he didn't manage to get rid of her.

Beryl and Nephrite likewise walked through the corridors of the Dark Kingdom. They intended to find Lord Cyanite and, if possible, assassinate him. In one dark tunnel, they ran into Endymion and Phonolite.

"Endymion! What are you doing here?" Beryl inquired with a deep frown. If he had been around, she certainly wouldn't have been humiliated by this insolent 'Lord' Cyanite.

"I'm looking for you, my Queen," Endymion said and sank to one knee in reverence.

"Well, that's nice, but I am looking for this scoundrel Cyanite." She looked from Endymion to Phonolite, then a mean smile appeared on her face. "But now I got a far better idea." She let out a devilish laughter. "Follow me!"

"By your command." Endymion lowered his head and followed his queen. Nephrite and Phonolite trailed along.

Beryl led them into Metallia's chamber. By now Metallia should have received almost enough energy to revive, and Beryl intended to give her the missing amount right now. She had to kill Cyanite, no matter what. He had humiliated her in front of the youma and she certainly wouldn't tolerate this.

"What are you going to do, my Queen?" Endymion asked.

"It is time now to revive our great ruler Queen Metallia!" Beryl exclaimed. Phonolite, kneel down in front of our exalted mistress!"

Beryl laughed again. Wouldn't be just the greatest irony when Princess Serenity now became the vessel to carry Metallia's spirit, her greateast enemy? Phonolite obeyed immediately. Beryl raised her arms and began an incantation to drain off Endymion's and Nephrite's energy and transfer it to Metallia.

Soon the cocoon glowed violently yellowish orange and cracked, a wave of fiery energy pouring out and entering Phonolite. Endymion's and Nephrite's unconscious forms sank down to the floor.

When Metallia's essence permeated Phonolite thoroughly, she began to grow and her yellow hair turned into a vivid violet. Her formerly blue eyes began to gleam in an eerie purple colour and she laughed mirthlessly.

"Finally! I'm free again!"

* * *

The Senshi and Jadeite entered the Dark Kingdom through Jadeite's doorway and found themselves in a dark corner of the audience hall. When they looked around, they discovered Zoisite, who battered his fists against a large pink crystal containing Kunzite, while Cyanite hung suspended in another crystal that seemed to drip water. Obviously it was an ice crystal, but how Zoisite might have managed to imprison the powerful Battle Mage escaped the girls.

"Kunzite-sama," sobbed Zoisite and hit the crystal again. "My beloved!"

"What happened?" SailorMercury inquired.

"Cyanite imprisoned my Kunzite-sama! Then I managed to beat him and put him into this crystal."

"It's already thawing." SailorVenus eyed the ice crystal doubtfully.

"I'm sorry, but can't create a proper prison crystal," Zoisite said aggressively. "So beat me!" Actually, it took him quite a lot of energy and willpower to create any permanent solid crystal except for his ice crystals, but he would never admit such a thing in front of the girls or Jadeite.

SailorMars went to the pink crystal and knocked against it. "It feels pretty robust," she stated.

"I think it's the same type of crystal in which Cyanite was imprisoned," Zoisite said. "Remember how long it took Kunzite-sama to break it?" Another tear trickled down his cheek.

"Well, if Kunzite had such problems to break it, we certainly won't be able to do anything at all," SailorMercury pointed out.

"But I want my Kunzite-sama back!"

"Well, I guess except for Kunzite there's only Cyanite who could dissolve a crystal like this," SailorMercury pondered. "But I don't think Cyanite will want to free him if he put him into this crystal in the first place."

"Moreover, he'll probably be really angry when he gets out of this ice crystal," SailorMars warned.

"I'm sure Obsidian could do it, too. After all, he freed Jadeite from the sleep crystal," SailorJupiter said.

"Obsidian? I seriously doubt it." SailorMercury lifted one eyebrow. "Do I have to remind you that he botches a lot of his spells?"

"But he told me that he is the son of the mightiest Mage who ever existed in the whole world."

"Of course," SailorVenus commented ironically. "And what else did he tell you?"

"Even if he is the son of the mightiest Mage, this doesn't say anything about his abilities," SailorMars stated.

"On the other hand, he is probably the best option we have at the moment. -- Or are you able to dissolve a crystal like this?" SailorMercury asked Jadeite.

"I'm afraid not," Jadeite admitted. "At least not fast enough. I'll contact Obsidian." He concentrated and sent out a telepathic call.

It took quite a while until Obsidian answered him as he had been deep asleep in his bed.

*Please join us*, Jadeite urged. *We have quite a situation here.*

*I'm on my way*, his sleepy thought voice replied. Obsidian dressed and appeared about five minutes later. The others waited impatiently.

Zoisite still hammered against the pink crystal when Obsidian arrived. The small man appeared totally distraught.

"What's up here?" Obsidian yawned. When he discovered the crystals, he just commented, "Oh."

"Well, we thought you might be able to free Kunzite from this crystal," Jadeite said. "After all, you freed me, too."

"Hm." Obsidian inspected Kunzite's crystal. "Your sleep crystal wasn't pink."

"Blue, pink... What difference is there?" SailorVenus asked.

"Blue is easier."

"But can't you try anyway?" Zoisite pleaded miserably.

"I could. But why should I?" Obsidian examined that small man.

"Because if you don't free Kunzite, we'd have to cope with an angry Cyanite as soon as he frees himself out of this ice crystal. And I really don't want to face Cyanite without Kunzite as backup," Jadeite told him impatiently.

"I think you have a point," Obsidian admitted. "But I'm still not sure whether I'm able to do it." He put his hands onto the pink crystal to analyze its structure. "It feels very complicated."

"Well, try it anyway."

"I have to check whether I'm able to find a spell that does it." Obsidian touched the amethyst pendant hanging around is neck, and the large black spellbook with the golden symbols on the cover floated right in front of him.

Obsidian browsed through the pages and promised himself that he would study it properly someday when he felt like it, so that he didn't have to search for the stuff anymore when he needed it. It took a while until he found something that looked like a fitting spell.

"I think I found something," he said. He left the book open so that he could read it word by word. He only hoped that he knew all of the symbols this time. It was so annoying that his father used all these arcane symbols all over his book.

Zoisite, Jadeite and the girls watched him intently.

"I fear I need your support, though," Obsidian said to the men. "I don't have the amount of power this spell needs on my own. I need to tap into your powers to complete it."

"Take whatever you need from me, but free my Kunzite-sama," Zoisite said. Jadeite gave his consent, too. Without Kunzite's support they wouldn't stand the slightest chance against Cyanite.

Obsidian concentrated and collected more and more energy from his colleagues. When he had the impression he would burst, he powered the spell with their combined force. The crystal began to glow in an incandescent light and dissolved in a flash. When it was over and Kunzite lay on the ground, moaning, the three other men lost their consciousness from the energy drain.

"Obsidian!" SailorJupiter ran to her new boy-friend and cradled his head in her lap. When she saw that he was only asleep, she gave a sigh of relief. "He did it! Wasn't he magnificent?" she asked and stroked his hair.

SailorMars was likewise worried about Jadeite, until she discovered he was also only deep asleep. Tenderly she caressed his cheek. If someone told her only a couple of months ago that she would one day fall in love with the blonde King, she would have laughed in their face, she thought somewhat bewildered.

SailorJupiter and Obsidian     Jadeite and SailorMars

"Don't expect me to look after either Kunzite or Zoisite," SailorVenus said, so SailorMercury scanned them with her visor. "They are both okay. Zoisite is unconscious, and Kunzite is already waking up."

The silver-haired man staggered to his feet. "What happened? Where am I?" He looked around and discovered Zoisite lying on the floor. "Little rat!" He scanned him in worry. "You totally exhausted yourself, my beloved. Why? And moreover, how?" He looked up and saw the large book still floating in the air. The spellbook of Amethyst! Kunzite inhaled deeply. When he looked around he saw Obsidian, also lying on the ground. Interesting. Obviously he had woven a spell and overtaxed his energy resources. But this gave him a great opportunity.

SailorJupiter and SailorMars were occupied with Obsidian and Jadeite, respectively. SailorMercury and SailorVenus only stood there and didn't do anything.

Kunzite went to the spellbook, carefully avoiding to touch the tome. He concentrated and analyzed the structure of the book. Fortunately he knew Amethyst's signature and spell weaving style; after all, the old Great Mage had been his teacher and mentor at the University of Magickal Sciences in the Crystal Kingdom for several years. It was a bit tricky to circumvent the copy wards of the spellbook, but he managed anyway, and then a greenish glow lighted one page after the other and an exact copy of the spellbook appeared next to the original.

SailorMercury stared at the process in awe. "That's cool! I wish I could copy the stuff I need for my studies as easily."

Kunzite finished the copy process and turned the book into its crystal form. It became an amethyst pendant just like the one Obsidian always wore, and Kunzite conjured a thin greyish metal chain for it and put it around his neck. When he became aware of the jogging suit he still wore, he shook his head before he turned his outfit into his standard Dark Kingdom uniform with the long, flowing cape. It was not a second too early, as suddenly a vicious looking Phonolite, with violet odangos and ponytails floating upwards into the air, burst into the audience hall.

"SailorMoon!?" SailorVenus exclaimed perplexed. "Why did you dye your hair?"

SailorMercury stared at her through her visor. "That's not SailorMoon! Or rather - it's her, but she is possessed by some really evil spirit."

"An evil spirit? That's my job!" SailorMars carefully lowered Jadeite to the floor, straightened up and took out one of her ofuda, aiming it at the possessed SailorMoon. "Rin, pyou, tou, sha, kai, jin, retsu..." The paper landed in the middle of Metallia's forehead.

With a sneer she ripped the ofuda from her face. "How dare you believe to vanquish me with such a cheap spell?"

"A cheap spell?" SailorMars grumbled and flung another ofuda at Metallia. "This has to work!"

Metallia uttered her insane laughter and began to glow in unearthly power. "Now you will all die and I, Metallia, will take over the world!"

"I won't let you triumph that easily!" SailorMars took out the moon sceptre and closed her eyes. If she invoked its full power it would certainly kill Metallia, but it would also mean the end of the world as they knew it - at least that was what Luna had said. She wondered if she should really dare to activate it fully.

"No!" Kunzite teleported to her and knocked the moon sceptre out of her hand. "The Silver crystal isn't meant for such abuse."

Metallia's laughter intensified, and Beryl joined her.

Kunzite grimaced. One hysterical laughter was too much already, but two high pitched shrill voices?!

Suddenly Cyanite's ice crystal cracked from the vibrations of the noise. The ancient Battle Mage held his ears and looked at the two evil women.

"I was imprisoned in this ice crystal and thus I am pretty angry anyway, but thine infernal noise doth top this sikerly," he growled and his eyes glowed a deep cyan blue. The short period of rest in the crystal had given him back enough of his energy to begin a powerful incantation that he directed at the violet-haired menace whose laughter grated more than that of the other.

While Cyanite's energies began to surround and immobilize Metallia, Kunzite opened his copy of Amethyst's book. He was sure he had noticed a useful spell during the copy process, but he needed to check it. Cyanite probably wasn't aware that he battled with Metallia right now and not some puny magical girl.

Ah, there it was. Kunzite began to read out the spell while Beryl and Metallia were occupied with Cyanite's magick. When he was through with it, Metallia-Phonolite stiffened. Suddenly a glowing bilious green crystal appeared over Phonolite's head and the more it solidified, the more the girl lost her wrong colours. When she was free again, she sank to her knees, the crystal above her glowing belligerently. Kunzite made another gesture and sealed her against magick permanently, so that Metallia's essence couldn't slip back.

Now Cyanite noticed Kunzite, but before he could direct his attack at him, Beryl took the chance to launch an attack of her own at the Battle Mage. As both were reaching their limits now, their attacks canceled each other out and they fell unconscious to the floor.

In the meantime, SailorMars had regained the moon scepter and glared at Kunzite. But before she could take any measures against the ex-King, Celestine materialized among them.

"Now I will finally assume the throne and rule the Dark Kingdom and the Earth Realm!" she exclaimed gleefully when she saw that practically all of her competitors lay motionless on the floor.

SailorMars looked at her in shock, then she remembered what she had told SailorMoon over and over again when the blonde had held the moon scepter in her hands. "I have to heal her," she said to herself. "Mars Healing Escalation!"

The moon sceptre glowed brightly and its light engulfed Celestine. The red-haired girl screamed when the healing light washed most of the dark energies out of her body and soul, until she collapsed onto the floor as well.

SailorMars looked at the inert forms on the ground and wondered who of them were still alive. Was everything over now? No, Kunzite was still standing upright. He was the last of the leaders of the Dark Kingdom and if she struck him down, too, then the Earth Realm should be able to live in peace forever. She brandished the moon sceptre...

"Don't even think about it," Kunzite said coldly, and his eyes glowed bright blue. The moon sceptre was ripped from SailorMars' hands and flew to Kunzite who caught it and tucked it into his belt.

SailorMars, SailorVenus, SailorMercury and SailorJupiter exchanged shocked glances, then they all nodded.

"We have to combine our powers," SailorMercury urged.

"Little girls, you are still no match for me!" Kunzite raised his hands and black beams shot out of them to form a black dome like the one that had imprisoned them only a couple of weeks ago.

SailorMars glowered at Kunzite. "Now you show your true face again!" she spat. "Do you want to kill all of us and destroy the Earth Realm now?"

Kunzite suddenly looked very tired. For the first time he realized that the constant pressure of Metallia's dark energies had vanished completely. "Shall I tell you something? I don't really want to destroy or rule anything. I just want to be left alone! I don't want anyone to give me commands anymore, I want to study Magickal Sciences and experiment like I did during the Crystal Kingdom." With a flick of his hands, he discontinued the assault, and the dome disappeared.

"You want what?" SailorMars asked incredulously.

"It wasn't my choice to be turned into the leader of the Dark Kingdom's forces in the first place. Beryl chose me because of my magickal powers which exceeded those of any other surviving Mage. My greatest wish is to return the Crystal Kingdom to its former glory."

"So why don't you do it?" A new voice asked. All heads turned to the newcomer. She looked like a twin sister of Usagi's, if it weren't for the fact that her hair was bound in only one long ponytail.

"Antimony," Kunzite greeted her. "But how?"

"Don't you have the sun crystal back now? You can use it to return the Crystal Kingdom to its former splendour. Selenite is dead and her last descendant is at your mercy. If you kill her here and now, you can be sure that her lineage is dead forever."

"There was enough killing already," Kunzite said wearily. "I'm really fed up with it."

"Anyway, you should take care of all possible threats while they can't defend themselves. Poor Crystal Princess, so warped by the hatred she nurtured over the centuries." Antimony looked at Beryl who lay prone on the stony ground, still clad in the dress Cyanite had conjured for her. "You should relieve her from her misery."

"I told you -- no more killing!" Kunzite's eyes glowed again. The Senshi were stunned to hear that from Kunzite's mouth.

"So what do you intend to do with them? Strip them of their magickal powers and imprison them? A quick death would be more merciful," Antimony said bitterly. She knew for herself as she had been stripped of her powers by her evil sister Selenite in the far past. It had been being thoroughly blinded and muted, bereft of her most important senses and abilities. More than once she had wished herself dead, only her hatred and thirst for revenge let her go on.

Kunzite looked at the inert forms. "I won't have to do anything about Jadeite, Obsidian and Nephrite," he mused. "Even though there were always rivalries among us, we have gone through so much together. I hope they will help me rebuild the Crystal Kingdom in which they grew up. As I sealed SailorMoon against magick, she will never be able to tap her powers anymore; so she is neutralized already. Celestine was cleansed by the power of the silver crystal, so I don't think I need to worry about her either. This leaves only Beryl, Cyanite, Endymion and the four girls."

"Just kill them and you will be free of the threats they pose."

The Senshi caught their breath.

"No." Suddenly Kunzite got an idea. He turned the amethyst pendant around his neck back into the big spellbook and frantically browsed through the pages until he found what he was looking for. This book was in dire need of a proper index. He went to Beryl and slapped her face until she stirred. "Crystal Princess Beryl? You want to become the lawful Queen of the Crystal Kingdom, do you?"

Beryl felt slightly disoriented. Wasn't she already Queen? "Why yes," she mumbled. Who dared to slap her like that?

"Then repeat the magickal formula that was given by the Powers in the beginning of time. 'I, Beryl, daughter of Heliodor and Morgana, hereby swear to uphold the Laws of the Crystal Kingdom...'"

"I, Beryl, daughter of Heliodor and Morgana, hereby swear to uphold the Laws of the Crystal Kingdom..."

"'I swear to rule wisely in the best interest of my subjects'..."

Beryl repeated the whole formula that Kunzite read to her from the book, and when she had finished, Kunzite took the opportunity of her weakened state, added a line that she would always heed his counsel and tied the oath to her life-force to insure her just rulership and prohibit the abuse of the ruler's absolute powers. The long time she had been under the influence of Metallia's dark force made it too risky to trust her word without the binding.

'So much for Beryl', Kunzite thought, pleased with himself for this stroke of genius. Now it was Cyanite's turn. It was way too dangerous to let him run around free - he would always be a danger due to his lust for power and strife. But to imprison him in a proper prison crystal he needed a vast amount of energy. Energy...

Kunzite's gaze went to the sickly green glowing crystal. The awakening of Metallia needed a huge amount of energy, and currently she was wide awake, albeit enclosed in crystal and thus not able to perform much magick directly. Of course she could still try to influence the unwary, and so it would be best to put her at least to sleep.

The practical side was that putting her to sleep involved drawing out her energy, which in turn he could use to fuel the creation of Cyanite's prison crystal.

Kunzite concentrated and laid the foundations of the spell that would accomplish both feats, and then he anchored himself as conduit for the flow. While he drew out the energy from Metallia, her crystal form dulled more and more, and in the same time a pink crystal started to condense around Cyanite who was still unconscious and would stay that way until the next time someone deigned to free him. Kunzite vowed that this would certainly not be him again.

The Senshi just stared in awe at the white-haired Master Mage and realized how lucky they were that they never had to battle him in earnest. But what would he have in store for them? SailorVenus and SailorMercury exchanged an anxious look. They didn't dare run, though. Or to be honest, they were far too curious to run away, and so they watched in fascinated silence how the pink crystal grew and solidified.

SailorMars used the waiting time to kneel by Jadeite's side and cradle his blonde head in her lap, tenderly stroking his hair, while SailorJupiter took care of Obsidian. Naru/Celestine and Zoisite lay unheeded on the floor, while Beryl still appeared somewhat dazed and slumped down on her throne.

With the unwilling aid of Metallia's essence it took only two hours, and Cyanite was stored away for good. The green crystal had turned opaque by then, and Kunzite pondered what to do with it. If it shattered it might give Metallia the opportunity to try and possess some new victim, but he wasn't sure he could destroy it in a way that wiped out Metallia's essence once and for all. This meant he would probably have to put it away securely somewhere, just like Cyanite in his prison crystal.

With a thought, Kunzite returned the copy of Amethyst's spellbook into the pendant form and hid it under his clothing. Obsidian didn't have to know everything.

"Well done, Kunzite", said Antimony. "It is not as final as I would have wished for, but I think it will do for now."

"I shall think about a permanent solution" Kunzite promised. "But now I have to consider Endymion. Where is he, anyway? And where is Nephrite?"

"Endymion is going to be my consort, of course" Beryl declared haughtily.

"I'd say that he should have a say in this, too, shouldn't he?" Antimony remarked dryly. "Moreover, he's your grandnephew, remember?"

The Queen started an angry retort, but suddenly she doubled over. Her intent to force Endymion to stay with her violated the oath to reign as a just ruler that Kunzite had made her take, and as it was tied to her life-force she couldn't do anything about this. She gave Kunzite an angry glare, but this, too, made her feel as if her energy just slipped away.

"Where are Nephrite and Endymion?" Kunzite repeated, deliberately forgetting any honorific in adressing Beryl.

"Last I saw them they were in Metallia's chamber. They are probably still unconscious from the energy drain."

The white-haired Mage nodded. "I see. You used them to complete Metallia's awakening. Will they recover on their own?"

"I think so. I only needed a small portion of their life-force."

"Good. Then they can wait a little longer while they sleep off their exhaustion." Kunzite was relieved. Somehow he didn't really feel like reviving Endymion and Nephrite at the moment. Definitely not as long as Zoisite was out, too.

"From what I remember from the past, Zoisite, Jadeite, Nephrite and I were Prince Endymion's advisors and counselors", Kunzite mused. "But to be frank, too much has passed since then, and I don't really feel like returning to that job. Especially as Endymion certainly will not take it kindly that I sealed away Serenity's powers and thus turned her into a normal human being. Probably it would be the most sensible act to seal away his powers, too, and then he can live out his days among the humans with her."

Now Jadeite, Zoisite and Obsidian slowly began to regain their consciousness.


"I'm here, my little rat."

Kunzite hurried to Zoisite's side and helped him get up.

"Obsidian did it!" The small man sighed and put his head against Kunzite's shoulder, while a tear of relief trickled down his cheek.

Wordlessly, Kunzite put his arms around him and just held him close.

of Kunzite and Zoisite by Stayka

When Jadeite awoke, he felt a tender caress and looked directly into two worried, deep violet eyes. If he hadn't lain on the hard stone floor, this would have been pretty close to heaven, he thought, but then he remembered the cause of his fainting spell. "Did it work?"

"Yes." SailorMars briefed him on the events. With some regret Jadeite got up from his nice position and rubbed his aching back, before he pulled Rei to her feet and into a close embrace.

Only a few steps away, Obsidian was similarly attended by SailorJupiter who gazed very proudly at him. If it hadn't been for Obsidian, things would have turned out pretty bleak.

As she watched the happy couples, SailorVenus sighed tragically. Everybody had their boyfriends, but she who was named for the Goddess of Love was the only one who never had any luck with the guys. This was decidedly unfair. As Naru/Celestine finally regained consciousness, SailorVenus went to her, while SailorMercury looked after Usagi, who still appeared to be in a kind of stupor.

SailorMercury turned to Kunzite. "Will she be okay?" She nodded to Usagi.

"With a little luck, yes. I extracted all of Metallia's essence from her, and that means she should regain her memories. I don't know whether she will remember her time as denizen of the Dark Kingdom, though."

"I don't think she will regret this", SailorMercury said. "Who knows what she did here."

"What... What happened?" Usagi stammered. Slowly she was coming to. "Where am I?"

SailorMercury summarized the events.

"You mean... You mean I was possessed by Metallia? Where's my silver crystal?"

"I took it back." Kunzite gently freed himself from Zoisite's fierce embrace, not without giving him soft kiss on the lips. Zoisite smiled and decided to assume his trademark pose and floated next to Kunzite.

"But it's mine! Give it back to me", Usagi demanded.

"No. It never belonged to you. Your mother stole it and thus she was responsible for the downfall of the Crystal Kingdom."

"That's a lie!"

"No, it isn't. Didn't you listen when I told -- oh, wait. You didn't listen. You were asleep." Kunzite shook his head and his silvery mane shimmered like condensed starlight. "So here's the short-short version for you: Your mother was a thief and stole the silver crystal that supplied the energy to keep the Crystal Kingdom in the Inner Earth alive. The Crystal Kingdom fell, while your mother set up her hypocritical, oh-so peaceful Silver Millennium on the Moon with the help of the energies of the silver crystal. Beryl bound herself to the demonic entity Metallia and attacked the Moon Kingdom, which then was destroyed. Your mother abused the powers of the silver crystal again to defeat Beryl and her troops who wanted to recapture the silver crystal and return the now Dark Kingdom to its former state. The souls of the Senshi, the Moon Princess and the others were sent back to Earth to be reborn in some peaceful time. Beryl searched for the silver crystal throughout the centuries, but as it only arrived with those souls of yours in the current era, the Dark Kingdom laid low all the time until then."

Usagi stared at Kunzite in utter disbelief. "This can't be! My mother, Queen Serenity, was a wonderful, peace-loving and just Queen. You're a liar!"

Kunzite shrugged. "That's why I call her and her Silver Millennium hypocritical. To set up this 'peaceful kingdom' of hers, she originally went over myriads of dead bodies. Selenite - that was her birth name in the Crystal Kingdom - had always been jealous of Beryl who was the Crystal Princess and destined to become the ruler of the Crystal Kingdom, while she was a member of nobility, but not of the ruling line. So she decided to set up her own Kingdom somewhere else, far away where she couldn't be touched. She chose the Moon, but to transform it into the paradise you knew, she needed vast amounts of energy. And the only energy source powerful enough was the sun crystal that supplied the Crystal Kingdom with the energy to flourish."

A waterfall of tears fell from Usagi's eyes. "You can't talk about my mother like this - she was good! You are evil."

The rest of the Senshi listened quietly. They heard the tale before, but only now the meaning of it really sank in.

"So, please excuse me when I will not give the silver crystal back to you", Kunzite closed acidly. "I will return it to its proper place as the sun of the Inner Earth and rebuild the Crystal Kingdom."

"But my moth--"

"Your mother was a ruthless criminal who didn't even stop at attacking her own sister", Antimony snapped. "When she fled from the ruins of the Crystal Kingdom, I tried to stop her, but she blasted me with her augmented powers and burnt out all my magickal abilities. So keep quiet about this precious mother of yours."

Usagi's mouth popped open. "You mean you are my mother's sister? Then you would be my aunt?"

"Unfortunately so. It's hard to accept that so much stupidity runs in my family."

Now Endymion and Nephrite entered the scene, both still a bit wobbly on their legs. As they were still short of energy, they had to walk the way from the former chamber of Metallia's to the audience hall.

When Nephrite saw Naru/Celestine sitting on the ground, still visibly shaken, he suddenly felt some flashbacks and regained at least part of his memories, the ones that involved him and the red-haired girl whom he felt meant a lot to him. But then she had been taken away and transformed to a darker version of herself. Nephrite mustered all of his strength and hurried towards her. He was torn between hope and fear - was she still under the dark influence, or was she back to normal again?

The girl was still clad in the grey uniform of the Dark Kingdom. She sat on the cold stone floor, hugged her knees and cried quietly.


She looked up and appeared thoroughly confused. "Nephrite?" A sob escaped her. "I don't know what is real and what is imagination anymore. Are you really here? What happened to me?"

Antimony looked at the girl with pity. "It seems the attempt to heal her didn't erase the memories of what she did while she was under Beryl's influence. I fear currently she has two conflicting sets of memories - her own and at least part of the others that were given to her by Beryl."

"But I used the Mars Healing Escalation on her", SailorMars said with a frown.

SailorMercury activated her visor and scanned Naru. "I can still sense the dark energy within her", she stated.

"With Metallia rendered inert again, this shouldn't prove too much of a problem. It seems some of the alterations Beryl did to her were not revoked,", Kunzite said. "Your scanner would show 'dark energy' within Zoisite, Jadeite, Nephrite and me, too. This is just the normal kind of energy we employ, and this notion of it being 'dark' only stems from your personal world view of what is good and what is bad."

"But I did some horrible things as commander of Beryl's troops", Naru sobbed. "I should have been stronger and fought her."

Kunzite snorted. "Tell me about that! It took me almost a millennium until I managed to break free, so how should you have been able to resist?"

When her gaze met Nephrite's, an expression of utter confusion appeared on Naru's face. She was torn between a feeling of strong attraction and revulsion, when her genuine memories and those Beryl had implanted clashed violently.

"Naru-chan?" Even if there were still vast blank spots in his memory, Nephrite knew he was worried about her. "Are you alright?" He knelt on one knee next to her.

"I don't know - no, not really, I think. Why is it that I both feel drawn to you and yet repelled?" Naru shook her head in a vain attempt to clear the haze in her mind.

"Queen Beryl brainwashed you and and supplanted your memories", Antimony elucidated. "In time, your real memories should resurface fully, now that you are not under Queen Beryl's influence anymore."

"I hope so. I hate not to be able to tell what I really feel", Naru said miserably. She eyed Nephrite and wondered whether he was that monster that one part of her memory described, or the man she had fallen hopelessly in love with. Or maybe both?

SailorVenus sighed. Everybody but her seemed to have found some sweetheart. Okay, SailorMercury didn't, but then, she wasn't really interested in romance anyway at the current time.

"Kunzite-sama, may I take care of Endymion?" Zoisite asked and landed on the ground again.

Usagi saw the mean glint in Zoisite's emerald eyes and started to wail again.

"I could take care of both of them, too," Zoisite added sweetly.

"Please, little rat, as tempting as it may be, but I think we should let them live out their normal human life spans in the Earth Realm."

Zoisite looked a bit disappointed, but complied. Kunzite directed his gaze at Endymion and lifted his hand.

Endymion, still clad in his uniform as prince, made a step backwards, and stumbled over the steps to the dais where Beryl's throne was located. Somewhat unroyally, he landed on his backside, when Kunzite's spell hit him head-on. As he was still to washed-out, he had no chance to defend himself. Within seconds he was surrounded by the spell weaving that sealed his magickal powers as completely as Kunzite had done with Usagi.

"This settles the matter of 'Prince' Endymion", Kunzite finally said. He turned to the Senshi. "Which leaves only the matter of what to do with you four."

Jadeite let go of SailorMars, stepped forward and placed himself between her and Kunzite. "I will not allow you to take any action against Rei!" The blonde man looked determined, and Kunzite raised one eyebrow.

SailorMars was torn between appreciation for his brave move and annoyance because his action implied that he didn't think she could handle the situation on her own. After all, one of the points that originally ticked her off most about him was his taunt that the Sailor Senshi obviously didn't manage to do anything without the help of a man.

SailorMercury made a step forward as well. "Kunzite-sensei, didn't you say you wanted to rebuild this University of Magickal Sciences here? I would be interested to sign up as a student."

The silver-haired Mage looked over the girls and thought about SailorMercury's request. "I think I would like this idea. - What about you?" he asked the other three Senshi.

"I would be interested in further magickal studies, too", SailorMars said and placed herself next to Jadeite. She would show him that she didn't need any protection from him - if they really were to stay together, then only on equal terms. Nonetheless, she took his hand and gave him a smile, before she put her attention to Kunzite again.

"Very well", Kunzite nodded. "Makoto?"

"I fear I'm not so good in these studies, but would you allow me to try anyway? I mean, Obsidian's home is here in the Dark Kingdom, and I would like to learn a bit more about him and where he comes from."


"It seems my mission in Tokyo is over. I will return to England, and I think I will return to being Sailor V and fighting crime there. I'm not really interested to stay here or learn this magick stuff - provided that you will not decide to conquer the Earth Realm after all."

"I think we will be busy enough to rebuild the Crystal Kingdom", Kunzite said. "When the sun crystal is back in place, we have all the energy we need to maintain a prospering society, so that we don't need to collect any energy in the Earth Realm anymore. -- Well, it sounds as if things are settled now." He was very pleased with the results.

"Well, I guess we have quite some things to set in motion now. I could need some people who help me rebuild everything here. As I expect that the girls will want to stay in the Earth Realm at least for the time to take care of their education there, this leaves you..." Kunzite looked at Jadeite, Nephrite, Antimony and Obsidian.

"As long as I get enough free time for myself, I think I could live with that", Obsidian said.

"Well, I'm in, too," Jadeite agreed. "I hope I'll manage to regain my memories of the past. If the tidbits I already gleaned are true, I was an engineer or something like that - and this might prove useful for the tasks at hand." At least this was what Rei told him from her fire readings. He smiled at her, pulled her close and wrapped his arms around her again.

"Well, I need to regain most of my memories past and current" Nephrite grumbled and gazed annoyed in Queen Beryl's direction who was responsible for the double brainwashing.

"Which reminds me," Kunzite said uncharacteristically cheerfully, "My Queen, as you were responsible for the mind lock that sealed away our memories, I would like to ask you to undo it." After taking the ruler's oath with the little extra of always heeding Kunzite's advice, there was no way she could refuse the request. Zoisite looked at Kunzite in utter adoration.

To be continued

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