THE NEGAVERSE OF CAESAREA
By Saint Erythros 

PART VI
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________________________________________________________________________

Zoisite sat in midair, as usual, brushing out his coppery hair. 
"I'm still not sure how you remember being in the Dark Kingdom, and we don't," 
he said, looking at Jadeite.  "It's as if for us, the time in the Dark Kingdom 
under Beryl never existed.  Why is that, Jade-kun?" 
The blonde general scowled, dark blue eyes going icy for an instant.  Then he 
sighed, and his eyes returned to the warm light blue that Zoisite remembered.  
Jadeite even managed a crooked smile, one that lit up his tired, narrow face.  
"You've been reborn," said Jadeite simply.  "You and Lord Kunzite -- " with an 
ironic glance at same, which the argent-eyed general returned -- "were reborn 
into your real selves, your original forms, the ones which you occupied in the 
Imperial days of Earth.  The ArchDemon's taint is completely drained from you 
and your souls, which means that Metallia has no impact upon either your 
thoughts or your memories. 
"Naturally, you only remember the events that occurred before and after 
Metallia's touch.  You don't recall being an avatar of the ArchDemon, you don't 
remember all the horrible things that we did while under the influence of the 
ArchDemon Metallia."  Jadeite sighed, looking momentarily lost.  His hand came 
up to lightly touch the emblem on the left breast of his gray uniform: a golden 
sun-in-glory, crowned by a crimson rose in full bloom. 
Zoisite, watching from under a shimmery red-gold veil of his own hair, doubted 
that Jadeite was even aware of his motion; it looked habitual to him.  Zoisite 
wondered about that; as far as he was aware, the sunburst-and-rose was most 
definitely NOT a symbol belonging to either Beryl or Endymion.  What was the 
sunburst-and-rose to Jadeite, that he wore it as his sigil and apparently gained 
peace from its touch? 
Kunzite stirred in his chair, silver gaze flickering over to the crystal that 
held Sailormars.  "A very pretty sight," observed Zoisite's lover coolly.  Lord 
Kunzite darted a vaguely satirical glance at Jadeite, sitting across from him.  
"What do you plan to do with her?" 
Jadeite smiled again.  "Nothing whatsoever, for now."  The blonde general toyed 
with his staff, an odd weapon that Jadeite had called a diilyao.  Whatever that 
might be; the name told Zoisite nothing, except that apparently Jadeite's 
expertise in weaponry extended far beyond Zoisite's own.  Which came as a 
surprise, and not a pleasant one; Zoisite had served Prince Endymion as Imperial 
Weaponsmaster for the Armies of Terra.  It vaguely irritated the copper-maned 
man that this knowledge was beyond him; but then, Zoisite always got annoyed 
when anyone was better than him at anything. 
"Why not?" Kunzite asked, apparently calm.  Zoisite wasn't fooled; his lover's 
beautiful argent eyes had narrowed, a sure sign that Kunzite was getting testy. 
The blonde general stood, adjusting his swordbelt slightly over his lean hips.  
It struck Zoisite suddenly how very thin Jadeite looked; the blonde man had 
always been slender, but now he looked downright gaunt.  His narrow face, while 
still attractive, was a bit more planes-and-angles than it had been the last 
time that Zoisite had seen him.  He bit his lip worriedly; Jadeite didn't look 
at all well.  He would have worried far more if, in Jadeite's eyes, there didn't 
exist a serenity that overlapped into the blonde man's physical wellbeing. 
Jadeite said, after a pause and a delicately raised eyebrow at Zoisite, "I'm 
just as reborn as you are, Kunzite.  I'm a new person: neither General Jadeite 
of the Dark Kingdom nor Lord General Jadeite of Imperial Terra.  I'm only 
Jadeite, and I have ties to neither Metallia nor Endymion.  Do you understand?  
I'm sole ruler of the Dark Kingdom now; my only ties are to the youma and the 
other people of this kingdom."  He turned to regard the crystal of Sailormars 
silently; Zoisite saw one single tear slide silently from Jadeite's eye.  
Jadeite closed his eyes for a moment, then opened them and dashed away that last 
tear. 
He turned to his old comrades, looking up at Zoisite in the air, and said 
genially, "I can't very well let her wander around the kingdom; my new official 
stance on the Senshi is that they're to be regarded as positive-neutral allies.  
Unfortunately, I haven't yet found time to make that common knowledge, and it 
would be far too easy for any youma to see a litle girl in a sailor fuku 
wandering around, and decide that she'd be fun to rip into little tiny pieces.  
I don't care to see the carnage she could wreak -- the Senshi have reattained 
and surpassed their powers of the Silver Millennium. I managed to catch them 
offguard once; I don't believe I could do so again, and certainly none of the 
youma could stand against a Senshi at the height of her power. We can't babysit 
her to keep her from barbecuing my people, and I lack the power right now to 
send her back to Earth.  So she's going to have to stay frozen for a few more 
days or weeks while the Shondarins and I wrap up the ArchDemon. 
"Does that suit you, Kunzite-sama?" 
Zoisite glared at Jadeite.  "I don't like your tone to Lord Kunzite," he said 
hotly.  He knew that his green eyes must be glimmering, as they so often did 
when he was angry; he couldn't really help it.  Kunzite, in an unusually light 
mood, had once compared Zoisite to a cat: "You're beautiful," the silver-eyed 
general had said mock-thoughtfully, "you're so deliciously vicious, and you're 
only content so long as you have your own way." 
Zoisite had rather liked the comparison; he loved the arrogant beauty and grace 
of cats, and had felt flattered that Kunzite saw him as feline. 
However, right now the copper-haired man was one very very annoyed kitten with 
claws bared.  He didn't care how good a friend Jadeite was/had been; no one 
talked to Kunzaito-sama in that tone of voice.  At least, not if they ever 
wanted to have children.... 
Jadeite apparently recognized his imminent danger of being castrated; he held up 
his hands placatingly and said, "Forgive me; that didn't come out quite as I 
meant.  Easy there, Zoi; don't scratch!  What I meant was, I'm sorry but you 
have no say in my business; and Sailormars is right now most definitely my 
business.  You see, even though all of the youma will remember Lords Kunzite and 
Zoisite, the meanest sumbitches in Beryl's semi-pantheon of generals, you won't 
remember, and you'll probably throw all of my youma into cardiac arrest if you 
start lecturing on how it's not exactly Terra-friendly to be sucking away energy 
from -" 
"You are still gathering energy?" Kunzite interrupted, in an almost friendly 
tone.  Zoisite smiled happily to himself; it began to distinctly sound like 
there was a fight directly underway.  Good; he would be sorry to lose Jadeite as 
a friend, but on the other hand, Zoisite lived for fights.  Unfortunate that it 
had to be against Jadeite, but he hadn't felt the special joy of battle for so 
long... 
Besides, Jadeite had been beginning to annoy him. 
Jadeite met the argent gaze of the eldest general squarely.  "I'm still 
absorbing minute amounts of energy, yes," he said quietly.  Zoisite found this 
interesting, in a boring sort of way; the Jadeite he remembered would have 
snarled and snapped.  As quick with a blow as a smile, Jadeite had been; little 
wonder that his nickname among the Imperial Army had been "Lord Quicksilver." 
"Unlike Beryl's old ways of gathering it, however," Jadeite said, leaning his 
cheek on his staff, unconsciously touching that symbol on his breast again, "I'm 
garnering energy from everyone on the planet simultaneously.  The total output 
is far more than Beryl ever got in a year, and I've only been tapping it for 
three days, ever since Dhearec and Gurean and I found out the correct 
Patternings for the spell.  No one on Earth will ever notice a thing; since the 
population is so great, I'm able to take minute quantities from each person, 
little enough so that it's the equivalent of one hundred calories per person per 
day." 
Kunzite said shortly, after apparently doing the math in his head, "That's 
enough to yield, in one day, power for the entire midplane for three months, 
yes?" 
Jadeite smiled, nodded.  "Yes.  I have Dhearec's computations to thank for that. 
 In about three more weeks, I should have enough energy to implement a new 
spell, one that will set up ley-lines and nodes for the midplane itself -- 
energy for the Dark Kingdom, sustained by the Dark Kingdom, and we will never 
need to rely on Earth again.  It's such a simple spell that I'm surprised that 
no one ever thought of it before; the only drawback is the enormous quantity of 
energy needed to start it."  Jadeite paused, thought about this for a moment, 
then grinned.  "That's why, I guess.  All the excess energy the Dark Kingdom has 
ever had always went to Metallia." 
Kunzite was silent a moment; disappointed, Zoisite noted that his lover didn't 
appear annoyed at all anymore.  Damn.  No fight.  He sulked, and went back to 
braiding his hair. 
"Very well," said Kunzite at last, dark narrow face back in its accustomed aloof 
expression.  "I yield that you need this energy and you aren't harming Earth by 
it.  Fine.  But back to Sailormars -- you have so little feeling for your old 
lover that you'll keep her locked in a stasis-crystal just to keep her out from 
underfoot?" 
Jadeite winced; that shot had struck home apparently.  The blonde general sat 
down on his bed with a whump, and looked unhappy.  "I told you that I was 
reborn, a new Jadeite?  Well, I remember loving Princess Rei, remembering vowing 
to love her forever -- I didn't count on  -- on -- on all this."  He gestured 
around him, meaning everything that had happened since that long-ago declaration 
of love.  "I'm a new person now, Kunzite -- I have no ties to Princess Rei, nor 
to Sailormars.  Possibly, if I began to court her again, I'd fall in love all 
over.  But both she and I are different, and -- well -- the last time I saw her 
she seemed to indicate that she'd just as soon see me dead."  Jadeite took a 
deep breath, passed his hand briefly over his eyes.  He looked up at Zoisite and 
Kunzite with a pained smile.  "Can you possibly see why I'd have a bit of a 
problem setting her loose, if all I could do was let her run around my kingdom?" 

Zoisite, deciding that it was high time that someone paid attention to him 
(since he was obviously the most perfect person in the room with the possible 
but not likely exception of Kunzite), said, "I don't know what you're talking 
about -- I'll love Kunzaito-sama forever, no matter what happens." 
"Well," said Jadeite sarcastically, eyes going icy dark blue in an instant, 
"thanks for that breathtaking insight, Madame Zoi-chan.  And golly gee -- I 
must've been mistaken!  I've loved Rei all along, and thanks to you I've 
realized the depth of our true love!  And what about your  fondness for Princess 
Ami, hmm?  You apparently feel the same way about her that I feel about Rei!" 
"Stop it!" barked Kunzite, the sound making both Jadeite and Zoisite settle back 
down.  One simply does not ignore the most powerful mage of Imperial Terra. 
The deathly cold argent glare swept over Kunzite's lover and his friend 
impartially.  Jadeite shut up and sat down again, taking his hand off his 
swordhilt; Zoisite was close to tears.  He hated it when Kunzite scolded him, 
and it was even worse that the rebuke had to be delivered in public. 
Kunzite, apparently deciding that the two miscreants had been punished enough by 
his glacial stare, said quietly, "Jadeite.  I understand about your ... 
feelings.  I respect that; I'll not interfere in your... business... again.  And 
since Zoisite and I obviously have no place in your kingdom, as soon as we are 
rested we will go to find Prince Endymion's new incarnation  -- Tuxedo Kamen, 
Chiba Mamoru, yes?" 
"Yes," said Jadeite, who had recovered with surprising quickness; Zoisite had 
always remembered that Jadeite sulked something awful whenever he was caught out 
in misbehavior.  He found this cool maturity slightly upsetting; he wanted his 
old friend/playmate/fellow prankster Lord General Jadeite, not this cool-eyed, 
mature, weary-looking King. 
Jadeite blew out an unhappy sigh.  "I wish that you wouldn't go," he said, with 
surprising sadness.  "The Shondarins are my friends, but I know that when they 
defeat the ArchDemon, they'll leave, and I'll be alone save for the youma, and 
the other denizens of the Dark Kingdom.  No more memories of Imperial Earth -- 
and I liked being with the three of you, Zoisite, Kunzite, poor Nephrite and his 
bloody stars..." 
"We aren't leaving right now," said Kunzite practically.  The silver-eyed 
general stood up, white cape flowing behind him as he walked towards Sailormars' 
crystal.  "And I think that I have an idea about what to do with the Mars 
Senshi..." 
Zoisite, heartened by his lover's light tones, chirped, "What is it, 
Kunzaito-sama?  What, koibito?"  He swung himself down from his perch in the 
air, unwilling to face another instant outside his beloved's arms. 
The copper-haired man snuggled under Kunzite's strong arm, as the eldest general 
said calmly, "My lab, the place where we first woke up, is fully warded against 
unfriendly intruders. I noticed that when I woke up there. Apparently --" his 
tone went faintly ironic for a moment --"even if I was a treasonous fool to 
serve under Beryl, I still was a magician to be reckoned with." 
"Yes," Jadeite said, just as ironically, "you were." 
Kunzite threw him a quelling glance, and went on: "If anyone intended harm to 
Sailormars, they couldn't get close enough to succeed in hurting her." 
"Wait a minute," objected Jadeite.  "You want me to set her free, and you'd put 
her into your lab?  Lord Kunzite, forgive me, but that's a bloody stupid idea.  
Trust me; I'm the tactician here, remember?  She'd destroy the entire room, then 
get free and wreak havoc. You are indeed a magician greater than any human I've 
ever seen, but the Senshi are avatars of their planets. Remember when Senshi 
Saturn destroyed the planet Lucifer, creating the Asteroids?" 
Kunzite touched the crystal lightly, then turned his eyes of argent ice to 
Jadeite.  "Jae," he said, smiling strangely, "trust me, for a change.  This will 
work, I promise you; Sailormars out of your way until you can send her back to 
Earth to tell the other Senshi that you mean them no harm.  She won't come into 
any harm; my youma Cirra will take care of her." 
Jadeite looked dubious, but finally sighed, "All right." 
Zoisite noticed again that Jadeite's hand stole up to lightly finger the emblem 
on his breast.  And Zoisite also noticed that when Jadeite did so... the emblem 
glowed. 
________________________________________________________________________

"I'm only going to ask one more time before I begin," said Xer'Dun al'Linas.  He 
balanced his dagger thoughtfully on his palm, looking at the bound youma with a 
calculating look. 
The trussed-up demon glared back at him defiantly.  "I won't tell you anything," 
she said.  Her huge gray eyes blinked at him resentfully. 
Xer'Dun sighed.  Every now and then the Silver Flames ran across a difficult 
youma, one that refused to acknowledge King Jadeite's alliance with the 
Shondarins.  When that happened, Xer'Dun was called in to soften up the youma's 
attitude a bit.  It didn't seem to bother anyone that no one ever again heard of 
any youma assigned to Xer'Dun. 
It was lucky that Aneiron had split the three of them up to search the castle;  
if Kwedja Aquara or the red-headed pest himself had been with Xer'Dun when he 
had found the youma in a corner, then Xer'Dun would have been required to forego 
his fun.  Aneiron had explained to him once, in no uncertain terms, that 
Xer'Dun's chosen form of entertainment made him violently ill. 
The al'Linas lord scowled at the memory; the youma whimpered a bit at the flinty 
expression that crossed the darkly handsome face. 
Xer'Dun smiled down at the creature beatifically.  "It's very good that you're 
so loyal to your master," he said gently.  "However, there's a time and a place 
for loyalty, and this is most definitely not it.  I'm sorry, but I'm going to 
have to see if a bit of pain will change your mind."  He bent down over the 
table, and deftly used his knife to peel away the fuzzy skin of the naked 
youma's belly. 
He selected some salt from his belt pouch, sprinkled the glittering white 
miniscules over the flayed area.  While he waited for the youma's hisses and 
screeches to die down, Xer'Dun occupied himself by wondering what exactly was so 
special about this renegade mage anyway.  The Dai Shahre had never taken any 
particular interest in magicians before; it was one of dai'Merolan's trademarks 
that he so rarely used sorcery in his attacks. 
The demon sobbed, catching her breath at last; Xer'Dun blinked and came back 
down to earth.  "Now," he said remotely, looking down at the table where he had 
methodically bound her down.  "Is there something -- a name, perhaps, or a 
location -- that you would like to divulge?" 
The youma spit in his face.  Actually, it didn't make contact, but Xer'Dun had 
always believed that it was the spirit that counted. 
"I'm sorry that you feel the need to be so rude," he chided her. 
He set her hands on fire. 
Nothing permanent, mind; Xer'Dun would never dream of being so crude as all 
that.  No, he merely coated her hands with oil, and telekinetically heated the 
oil to bubbling.  When the youma's wailings had reached a high enough level, he 
brought the heat back to normal and gently wiped away the oil with his 
handkerchief.  He was nothing if not thorough. 
"Is there something you'd like to tell me?" 
The youma was crying too hard to answer.  Xer'Dun patiently waited for her, 
handsome face serene.  What, he wondered again, was so special about this 
unknown magician?  Surely if he were powerful enough to be a threat, the Soul of 
Shondar would protect the Silver Flames against him.  And if he were not 
powerful enough to be a threat, why not let him use up his magic trying to 
traverse the wilds of the Dark Kingdom, and wear himself out? 
It made no sense.  But then, Xer'Dun had always been content to leave tactics 
and strategy to people like the Dai Shahre and to the Qimrais and the Grand 
Admiral.  He just fought when and where and how he was told to fight, loyal to 
the death for the Three Thrones of Shondar. 
And on the side, there was always pain to be found and elicited everywhere.  
Xer'Dun's hobby was nothing if not flexible. 
It took him a good ten minutes, but he did succeed in breaking the youma.  
Listening carefully to Cirra's hoarse, delirious screams, Xer'Dun was capable of 
picking out the words "kunzite" and "zoisite" and "resurrection." 
Xer'Dun smiled.  "Thank you, child," he said gently.  "Would you like me to kill 
you now, or would you like to meet my commander the Dai Shahre?" 
The demon only wept harder. 
On second thought, Xer'Dun decided just to leave her as she was, bound and 
bloody.  He'd heard that there were still rats in this part of the dark kingdom, 
and he was certain that they would do a far better job of killing the demon than 
he would.  He wondered if he could possibly link up a spell that would feed him 
her pain, and regretfully decided that he had no time. 
Singing in a Bard's rich resonant baritone, Xer'Dun the Soulsinger and 
spellsinger wiped his knife and left the chamber.  Kunzite and Zoisite and 
resurrection.... 
The Dai Shahre would be pleased. 
________________________________________________________________________

 The Hikawa Shrine was very rarely peaceful. 
Not only was it serviced by Hino Rei and her grandfather, who led anything but a 
quiet existence, but it was also frequently home to many high-decibel arguments 
between the Senshi -- or, more accurately, between Usagi and Rei. 
Now, however, it was as quiet as a Lutheran caught face-to-face with the Pope. 
The four remaining Inner Senshi, plus an uncomfortable Mamoru and the two feline 
guardians, gathered in the back of the temple, maintaining a brooding silence.  
Even Usagi, who had actually been on time, was quiet, neither eating nor reading 
a manga.  It was that bad. 
Artemis broke the silence at last: "We'll have to go after her at some point, 
you know." 
Usagi muttered, not quite quietly enough, "I don't wanna...." 
"Usako," said Mamoru patiently, "don't be such an odango atama.  We're going to 
recover Sailormars, and that's all there is to it.  We've beaten Nehelenia and 
Galaxia; is Jadeite truly such a challenge?" 
"I'm NOT an odango atama," Usagi said rebelliously. 
"Oh, really?" Makoto said, almost giggling.  "What do you call those things on 
your head, then?  Pompoms?" 
Usagi just glowered, but mercifully decided to spare her friends the wailing 
they'd all come to know and dread.  Instead, she said humbly, "I'm sorry.  I 
want Rei back too, even if she is so darn MEAN to me....  And Artemis is right; 
we're going to have to go into the Dark Kingdom after her.  So how do we do 
that? Is there anyway to get back in to the place... the place that I destroyed 
in the last battle with Beryl?" 
Heads turned expectantly to Ami, who was already tapping away on her computer.  
"Just a nano, girls," she said absently. 
Finally, Ami's head raised; the blue-haired Senshi looked troubled.  "I'm 
getting unusual readings," she said hesitantly.  "You remember when Jadeite 
attacked, he had those other two guys with him?  The tall one, and the one with 
red hair?" 
"Who could miss the tall one," sighed Makoto, looking dreamy-eyed.  "Those eyes 
-- so blue!  He was so hot..." 
"I thought that the redhead was cute," interposed Minako, until now quiet.  
"He's too short for you, Mako-chan, you take the tall one.  I've got dibs on the 
redhead."  She giggled; her resemblance to Usagi was brought prominently into 
play.  "Dibs on the redhead!" 
"Girls," said Ami, quite nicely, "quit being ninnies and help, for pity's sake.  
Be sensible!  If those two were helping out Jadeite -- and they were; both of 
them called him 'my lord' and appeared to be taking orders from him -- then they 
are as evil as is Jadeite." 
"Quite right," said Luna.  Artemis, not to be outdone, added, "And let me lay it 
on the line for you, ladies: EVIL GUYS ARE VERBOTEN." 
"What's 'verboten?'" said Usagi, looking confused.  Mamoru explained it to her 
in low tones while Ami went on with her computer's findings. 
"The auras of those two men were neither youma, nor human.  They're of a 
completely different race!" 
"See," said Artemis to Minako, in an insufferably smug tone.  "I toldja; evil 
guys are just no picnic at all."  She grabbed him and rubbed his fur the wrong 
way until he promised to shut up. 
"ANYWAY," said Ami, with a cool glance at the white cat and his mistress, "all 
of the possible openings to the Dark Kingdom are absolutely choked with the same 
auras.  That means," she added hastily before Usagi could pipe up with the 
inevitable 'huh?', "that it might not be Beryl's minions who are reviving the 
Dark Kingdom; it might be this race that those two men with Jadeite belong to.  
You see?  We could be up against an entirely different enemy this time -- and 
one more powerful than Beryl ever dreamed of being!" 
Usagi let out a brief wail; this, at least, she understood.  "Whaaaat?  But -- 
but -- I don't WANT to fight against a new enemy!  I was perfectly happy being 
just Tsukino Usagi again! What good is defeating Galaxia and Dimando and Pharoah 
Ninety and Nehelenia if I have to go out and fight some more?" She sniffled for 
a moment, then absolutely screeched, "Why didn't Pluto-sama tell us?!" 
In the absence of Rei, Mamoru took it upon himself to say, "Hush, odango atama; 
it won't be that bad.  It won't, honestly.  All we have to do is get Rei and get 
out again.  No Kunzite, no Zoisite, no Nephrite; all we have to do is defeat 
Jadeite again -- and if you've forgotten, my Usako, we've beaten Jadeite before 
-- even before you had attained your ultimmate power."  He chuckled slightly.  
"No, we face a bit of danger, but not that much.  With the Queen Metallia driven 
back into dormancy and Beryl dead, I seriously doubt that any youma or any of 
the Shitennou -- be it Kunzite himself -- can threaten us, yes?" 
Usagi sniffled, and beamed up at him trustfully, if a bit tearfully.  "Yes," she 
said, conviction shining forth. 
Ami cleared her throat; Minako and Makoto looked at her.  "If everyone is 
finished," said the blue-haired genius precisely, "I'm pretty certain that I've 
worked out a way to get around this odd matrix on the Dark Kingdom entrances.  
It's surprisingly easy; the patterns are elegantly simple." 
"Sure they are," said Makoto.  "If you say so, Ami." 
"Well, they are," Ami replied, turning back to her computer for a minute.  
"Venus and Jupiter should take the entrance here at the temple; Sailormoon and 
Tuxedo Kamen-sama can have the one by the arcade; and I -- "  She stopped, 
momentarily unsure.  "Oh, I wish that Rei were here -- I'm the weakest of us 
all!" 
"It's all right," said a husky voice easily.  "We'll come with you, Mercury." 
Every head turned towards the entrance. 
________________________________________________________________________

Aneiron sor'Brannan Jander wasn't having a good day. 
Currently, he was mumbling to himself, occasionally raising his voice to a 
shout, and pacing all over Kunzite's laboratory. 
But, since Aneiron was a Jander lord, he couldn't even pace like a normal person 
would; oh, no straight lines, back and forth, for Aneiron.  Paltry things like 
walls or ceilings or the patent impossibility of walking at right angles to 
gravity didn't stop Aneiron; whenever he came to a perpendicular surface, he'd 
simply readjust his local gravity and walk straight onwards. 
He was in the middle of his eighth lap around the room, stalking across the 
ceiling and swearing to himself in Bolonarian, when the crystal materialized 
lying across the stone table in the middle of the room.  Aneiron paused as the 
air shimmered, then he lost his concentration in sheer surprise when the crystal 
appeared in the middle of the shimmer. 
He was so surprised that he abruptly realized that he wasn't really supposed to 
be walking upside down thirty feet feet above the ground, and with an "Oh, 
Madros' gonads!" of dismay, he plummeted downward.  Curling himself tightly into 
a ball, tucking his chin into his chest, weaving a hasty and not-very-good 
levitation spell at the last minute, he was able to absorb most of the impact 
onto his left buttock (thinking dourly of what bruises he was going to have 
later) and rolled tightly over. 
Aneiron caught his breath, just lying there for a moment, then he was up on his 
feet and roaring. 
"WHAT IN THE NAME OF SAINTS MADROS, CAESAREA, AND CALADAN SANDOR IS THIS 
DISGUSTING SILLINESS?  C'mon, I dare you, whoever the hell dropped that right 
where I would see it, come on out and just bloody tell me that you don't like 
me, hey?  Come on, you bloody jerk, I want this explained IMMEDIATELY!" 
Aneiron calmed slightly as he stalked (limped) over to the crystal, rubbing his 
poor abused posterior all the way.  "Oh, COOL!" he exclaimed gleefully as he 
ascertained just who happened to be stuck inside the gemstone.  "All right!  
These things just seem to be attracted to me, y'know?  All right!  Let's see 
Dhearec explain THIS one..." 
He drew his dagger and began tracing familiar arcane symbols on the primary 
facet of the huge gem, drawing the circle right over the lovely terror-stricken 
face of Sailormars.  While he worked, he hummed his favorite aria from "Madame 
Butterfly."   Aneiron just loved having something difficult to do; it showed the 
world that he wasn't just another Jander trickster.  He smiled, a bit grimly; oh 
no he wasn't.  One day, he would wear the Iron Circle of the Qimrais, the 
commander-in-chief of the Imperial Army, or know the reason why.  It wasn't as 
if he had any competition for the job, anyway; the current Qimrais was old and 
tired, and the Conclave of the Generals was stuffed to the gill-slits with 
inflexible morons who'd be in serious trouble if anyone ever dared threaten 
Shondar.  Aneiron had to prove himself worthy of the Iron Circlet, when it came 
time for the Dai Shahre to appoint a new Qimrais. 
If he had to break a few gems to make his omelet, well, it was really all in a 
days' work. 
He finished his spell and stepped back nimbly as the crystal shattered.  Flying 
shards of clear glassy gemstone flew all over.  When Aneiron judged that it was 
safe, he stepped forward and looked at his captive in interest. 
"Hi," he offered, as the raven-haired girl sat up in total confusion.  "My 
name's Aneiron.  You're Sailormars, I guess.  You know," he added, totally 
tactlessly and totally Aneironish, "I really expected you to be a bit more 
impressive.  Yeah, your aura's really something else, but I'm just not that gone 
on the short skirt. It lacks that certain soldierish quality, see... Um - " he 
finished, rather lamely, as Sailormars glared at him. 
"I am Sailormars," she said tightly. "And you have approximately ten seconds to 
tell me why I shouldn't turn you into a charcoal brisquette." 
Aneiron decided that, while she couldn't really harm him with her puny little 
pyrotechnics -- probably -- he thought not -- it might be more prudent to comply 
with her request. Professional courtesy, and all that. Not because her aura was 
beginning to depress him with how brilliantly intense it was. Cripes, it was as 
bright as Dhearec's, and Junior was the most powerful magician in the Silver 
Flames. 
"Ah -- I just freed you from that crystal," he hedged, wondering where the hell 
Kwedja and Xer'Dun had disappeared off to.  "And, might I add, if you turn me 
into a crispy critter the Dai Shahre, not to mention Lord Jadeite, will prob'ly 
be upset." 
That had, apparently, been precisely the wrong thing to say.  Sailormars' eyes 
narrowed, and she placed her fingers together.  "If it grieves Jadeite," she 
gritted through clenched teeth, "then I'll be absolutely delighted!" 
"Oh, damn," Aneiron said, not altogether cheerfully.  He very quickly spun a 
shield out of the Soul of Shondar, using all his strength and drawing on a bit 
of Dhearec's power, and waited for the blast. He appropriated Kunzite's 
worktable to stand behind; not that he was scared, or anything -- after all, he 
was Aneiron Jander -- but, you know, sort of to cushion the blow and save 
wear-and-tear on his shield. He wasn't scared. 
Hell, no... He bit his lip and watched. 
"MARS ... FLAME ... SNIPER!"  A bow appeared in her hands; she loosed in one 
fluid motion, and an arrow of flame sped towards him.  Aneiron was impressed; 
impressed enough, in fact, to yelp in shock and throw himself to the ground. 
Only his Shondarin quickness and the fact that the shield was using all of his 
strength saved him. 
By all the Saints... there was enough power in her to level a bleedin' city... 
The arrow shattered against his shield, and fire billowed around him, trying 
vainly to slip through the energy of the Soul of Shondar.  Through the bright 
curtain of flame, he could see Sailormars looking both surprised and angry that 
her attack hadn't worked.  Before she could try anything else nasty, Aneiron 
deftly slipped a shield over her. He wasn't sure if it would work, but anything 
was worth trying at this point. 
"Now then, sugar," he said solicitously, sitting down in midair in the manner 
that so annoyed Xer'Dun and Feriom, "will you please stop tryin' to attack me?  
See, it doesn't hurt me-" well, not yet, anyway, he'd been astonishingly lucky 
-- "and I think it amuses you, but honestlly, it's just not getting us anywhere." 

"Go to hell!" she snapped at him. 
"Cram it, babe," Aneiron said pleasantly.  He stared at her thoughtfully. How 
the hell had they defeated her the first time? Maybe there really was something 
to be said for Jadeite's heavy-handed approach. 
"Sailormars," he said patiently, again wishing that Kwedja and Xer'Dun would 
show up soon -- he was getting bored and he wanted to get back to base.  "I 
really really don't wanna hurt you, but if that's what it'd take, then I'll do 
it." If I can manage it without burning myself out...  "See, I'm just carrying 
out my orders here -- I'm trying to find some hotshot wizard who forgot to check 
in with the Dai Shahre before he set up shop in the Dark Kingdom, and if at all 
possible I was hoping to do that quick and easy, without any interference.  
Follow me so far, girl?" 
"Don't call me 'girl,'" Sailormars said heatedly, glaring at him with a violet 
flare.  Aneiron was charmed; this kid had spunk, he had to give her that.  
Unfortunately, she was also making him nervous and wasting his time.  The 
renegade mage was obviously long gone, and from the power-signatures Aneiron had 
caught in this room, he had the sinking feeling that he knew just who exactly 
had helped out the renegade.... 
All he needed was for Kwedja and Xer'Dun to get their tardy asses back here, and 
he could get back to base so that the Dai Shahre could be ironic at him about 
his failure.  It wasn't so bad, really; the Dai Shahre always expected success, 
but his punishments for failure were more mental than physical.  The Dai Shahre 
believed whole-heartedly in humiliation as a way to build character; that, and 
the knowledge that someone had failed the Dai Shahre, their adored and beloved 
commander, were usually sufficient to ensure that no one failed more than once. 
"Sailormars," Aneiron said, eyes darting to the door and back, "if I release the 
shield on you, will you promise not to attack me?" He crossed his fingers, 
praying she'd say yes. There was just no way he could keep pouring his energy 
into keeping that shield up; he was a brilliant and subtle sorcerer, but 
unfortunately not that powerful. Not compared to this girl whose aura was so 
blindingly crimson as to make his eyes water. 
The girl thought about this for a moment; Aneiron used the time to cross the 
room and holler out the door, "HEY!  Xer'Dun sor'Eles al'Linas!  Kwedja 
sor'Alais Aquara!  I need you! Now!" 
He came back and resumed his airy seat, looking at her inquiringly.  At last, 
the Senshi said grudgingly, "I won't attack you as long as you don't attack me.  
For some reason, your aura seems all right." 
Aneiron grinned broadly, quite pleased with himself. He uncrossed his fingers 
and mentally scored up another one for his good looks and charm. "Naturally," he 
informed her.  "I'm Aneiron sor'Brannan Jander, whom as everyone knows is the 
closest damn thing to perfection that civilization has yet come across." 
Sailormars fought a losing battle with the smile that eventually won and crossed 
her pretty face.  "And modest, too," she said. 
"Yeah, well, that's life," said Aneiron.  He stood up as Kwedja entered, her 
violet eyes flaming. 
"Really, Aneiron," the Aquara snapped, her accent clipped and precise.  "It's 
not enough that you drag us here, you must drag us back too, just when it gets 
interesting?  Chief of Staff or not, you are a pest, you are!" 
Aneiron gave her his best guilty scapegrace grin; after a moment, Kwedja 
relented and turned to Sailormars.  "Hello, rellas," she said.  "I am Kwedja 
sor'Alais Aquara, servant of the Iron Throne of Shondar in the Silver Flames.  
You are our friend, yes?" 
Sailormars hesitated.  "I am Sailormars," answered the Senshi at last, "and I'm 
not quite sure of my status to you guys as yet.  I mean, you're working with 
that creep Jadeite, and I can still feel the Dark Kingdom's taint in this place! 
 I'm not sure if you people are good or evil!" 
"Well," said Aneiron, wearing what he accurately judged to be an infuriating 
grin, "Xer'Dun's evil...  the rest of us ain't."  He gestured to the tall dark 
and handsome figure striding in the door, moving with the grace of a dancer -- 
or of an assassin. 
Xer'Dun al'Linas gave Aneiron a thin-lipped, condescending smile; nodded 
noncommittally to Kwedja; and turned the full force of his most charming smile 
on Sailormars.  "Milady," Xer'Dun said, almost lilting the words in what Aneiron 
recognized as a minor spellsong of friendship, "I am Xer'Dun sor'Eles al'Linas, 
and I demand the honor of laying all that I have, am, and will ever be at your 
feet." 
Much to Aneiron's disgust and Kwedja's amusement, Sailormars actually blushed.  
Aneiron scowled at Xer'Dun over the girl's head; the al'Linas smiled coolly back 
at him. 
"Yes, well," Aneiron cut in, annoyed at having his captive audience taken away, 
"now that we're all here, we're going back to base.  And then, sugar, you're 
coming with me to the Dai Shahre so he can explain a few things to you.  Maybe 
then you'll explain to me just how you managed to get away from Lord Jadeite, 
yes?" 
"Aneiron," said Xer'Dun softly, "you're being a bit harsh with the poor young 
woman, aren't you?" 
Kwedja, mercifully, rescued Aneiron from having to choose which interestingly 
nasty thing he might say in reply to this.  The purple-eyed woman snorted, and 
said, "Oh, really, Xer'Dun.  Do not be more of a precociously malicious brat 
than you can possibly help, I say.  Rellas Sailormars, don't listen to a thing 
he says; he's more of a liar than Aneiron is." 
"I'm not a liar," said both Aneiron and Xer'Dun in unison.  Aneiron glared at 
Xer'Dun, and in his sweetest tones asked, "Where've you been, dus'Xer'Dun?  And 
how come I kept hearing screams?" 
An expression of well-bred boredom crossed the al'Linas lord's face.  "I've no 
idea why you care where I've been," he said, "but I've got something of interest 
to report to the Dai Shahre, so we'd better get going." 
Aneiron wasted half a minute trying to figure out whether or not he ought to 
whack Xer'Dun across the room for insubordination, then shrugged and let it go.  
Xer'Dun was a jerk and a creep anyway he looked at it, and there was just no use 
trying to reason with him.  "All right," he said, grinning.  "Come on, angel, 
we're going to the Dai Shahre; Xer'Dun and Kwedja, you get to report to Dhearec 
cuz I'm in a nasty mood, and I see no reason why I should have to put up with 
Junior if I can possibly shunt him off to you." 
"Rank hath its privileges," Xer'Dun said snidely.  Then he lost the supercilious 
look and said, "OW!" 
Kwedja put away her dagger, smiling faintly as Xer'Dun rubbed his shoulder and 
glared at her.  "Let's go, I say.  Aneiron, stop wasting time, yes?" 
"Everyone's a critic," Aneiron muttered as the teleport spell took effect.  
Kwedja had been right, though; he had been wasting time.  He didn't relish the 
prospect of having to tell dai'Merolan that the renegade mage had escaped; not 
only escaped, but had had the Imperial Princess of Shondar as an accomplice. 
________________________________________________________________________

"Haruka?" said Ami at last. 
The blonde outer Senshi stepped inside, clad in full Sailor regalia.  
Sailorneptune followed regally, sea-green hair flowing around her dainty 
features.  "The one and only Sailoruranus, yes," replied that worthy.  "Pluto 
appeared and told us that someone or something is causing a ripple in Time, and 
she told us that it was a possible threat to the princess." 
Usagi grumbled, "Oh, great.  I thought you said that we wouldn't be in any 
danger, Mamo-chan!" 
As Mamoru tried to regain his credibility, Uranus and Neptune discussed with the 
rest of the Senshi.  "Ami's plan will work great," Sailoruranus said crisply, 
"and Neptune and I will go with Sailormercury, to balance her weakness."  She 
paused briefly, her eyes meeting her lover's.  "That's the plan that we'd 
already worked out on the way here, wasn't it?" 
Sailorneptune nodded, said in a cultured, soft voice, "It works very well, 
actually; the strongest are paired with the weakest, with Sailormoon protecting 
Tuxedo Kamen and all the rest of us protecting her.  By the way, Ami, well done 
on the entrance matrices; couldn't have done a better job myself." 
Luna said, "Before we start handing out congratulations, there's just the 
smallest matter of getting the plan to work.  Mercury's already handed out 
entrances; as soon as we get inside the Dark Kingdom, we're to search out 
Sailormars, grab her, and rendezvous near the chamber of Metallia in two hours, 
yes?" 
"I'm not sure about this chamber of Metallia thing," said Minako uneasily.  
"That's where the evil power is concentrated most, isn't it?" 
"It's all right," said Sailoruranus, clearly impatient to be gone.  "Metallia's 
gone dormant, since Beryl bit the dust. Classic demon thing to do.  Can we go, 
already?"  Sailorneptune sighed at her beloved's impatience and quietly took up 
a stance behind Ami. 
"All right," said Artemis in a resigned voice.  "Everyone transform, get to your 
entrances, and in fifteen minutes exactly everyone will enter the Dark Kingdom, 
right?" 
Everyone grumbled, "Yes," and split up. 
________________________________________________________________________

"Who are You?  What is Your Name?" 
Dhearec paused.  For just the slightest instant, he had been certain that he saw 
the ArchDemon's face, that he heard a deep cool voice reply to his own.  But the 
resonances were foreign to him; as hard as he tried, as much as he applied his 
formidable intellect to the problem, the meaning of the answer eluded him. 
He stared intently at Metallia's crimson prison.  At last, the Madros lord 
changed his question. 
"Am I the correct person to address You?  Is there someone else, to whom You 
will reply?" 
The ArchDemon's face studied him coldly, expressionlessly. 
At last, the ArchDemon Metallia nodded: yes. 
________________________________________________________________________

"Fifteen minutes," said Sailormoon, glancing at Tuxedo Kamen for confirmation. 
He nodded.  "We've got to go.  Ready?  I'm opening the portal to the Dark 
Kingdom." 
Over in the Hikawa Shrine, Sailors Jupiter and Venus opened their own portals 
and stepped through, shadowed by Artemis and Luna.  Sailors Mercury, Uranus, and 
Neptune opened a great portal in the park, walking through with no hesitation. 
Predictably, it was Sailormoon who was last of the Senshi to enter the Dark 
Kingdom; as Tuxedo Kamen held the portal into the yawningly dark, disquieting 
pocket of alternate reality, Sailormoon stared up at the round golden globe of 
her former kingdom.  She wondered, as she stepped through and the portal closed 
behind her, if she'd ever see it again. 

END OF PART VI.
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________

To Part Seven 
Hey, is it just me, or are the Senshi totally great? I thought so. I mean, c'mon 
-- Sailormoon's wahnderful. Who else do yoou know who can heal an entire world, 
ne? And she has wings. Yeah...
  

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