“Minako-chan?” Moira-Selene noticed her expression first. “Something’s wrong, isn’t there?”
“Nani?! D-d-demo…?” Minako said to herself. “Masako…!”
“You might want to explain that, Minako-chan.” That had come from Jessica, who was slowly rising and coming closer.
Minako stared at Danie’s shoulder, then up to Jessica’s anxious face. “That guy…the one Usagi ran into…” She looked down and pointed at Danie’s shoulder. “…Had that same exact birthmark on him.”
The room went silent. Ami jumped up and went to Moira-Selene, who was flipping frantically through the thick book. Samantha declared that she knew someone at the Moon Spot and figured she could find out who the guy was by asking someone. After Samantha had bolted, Evie picked up another Volume. The remaining Senshi waited in silence as the sounds of beeping and turning pages filled the silence.
“What if…what is this means nothing?” Minako asked. “I could have been seeing things.”
Moira-Selene looked up for a moment to reassure her. “Minako-chan, if it wasn’t important, you wouldn’t have remembered! Trust me, you took notice for a reason, I’m sure.” She returned to the book.
“What exactly are you looking for?” asked Rei.
“Information on the Royal Family of Nova in the first or second century,” Moira-Selene replied. “Any of Queen Aidanne’s immediate ancestors and/or predecessors should be in here. And if there’s anything about that mark…”
“We’ll find it,” Ami finished. “There has to be something. These volumes have proved to be helpful thus far…”
Rei bit her lip. A moment later, Moira-Selene cried out in triumph. Usagi and Makoto came closer. The cats, having been napping in another room, came drifting into the room.
“What’s going on?” asked Artemis, jumping onto the arm of Jessica’s chair.
“We’re on to something,” Jessica answered.
Everyone went silent when Moira-Selene started to read from the yellowed volume.
“According to the book, there were two brothers—Queen Aidanne’s great-grandfather and great-uncle—in the Nova Royal Family at one time,” Moira-Selene explained. “The older brother was named Aidan, the younger…” At that, Moira-Selene paused. At Jessica’s prodding, she continued. “The younger was named Fiore.” Jessica and Evie both winced. The Inner Sailor Senshi appeared troubled. “Aidan was the rightful heir to the throne. Just as he was destined, he took the throne as King, married, and had a child—female, if I’m not mistaken. One day…one day, Aidan, who had chosen to fight heroically in battle alongside his soldiers, was killed mysteriously and Fiore took his place.” Moira-Selene looked up at Minako. “First-born crown princesses and princes on the Sun are born with the Mark of Nova on them.” In a quieter voice, she said, “And it never goes away.”
The silence came again. With their minds reeling, the Senshi processed the information in their minds.
“So,” Makoto postulated, “you’re saying…that this mysterious guy that Usagi-chan bumped into could be a descendant to this King Aidan?”
Moira-Selene nodded. “It adds up.”
“She’s right,” Ami agreed. “It does seem too orderly not to be.”
“So what do we do?” Luna asked.
Suddenly, Samantha rushed back in, panting for breath. She inhaled and exhaled heavily as Minako and Rei led her to a nearby chair. After she had caught her breath, she spoke.
“Okay,” she started. “My friend Rosa down there said that she saw a guy that fit that description down there a lot. Most of the time, he wasn’t alone.” Samantha, not quite having a hold on her breathing, sighed expansively. “This is the part that’s exasperating.”
“Well…?” Jessica said impatiently.
“She said he was mostly with a girl, blond, blue eyes, the whole bit. Then she said…then she said she was very cultured and spoke lots of big words with a British accent.”
The Senshi all figured it out in the same instant: Angelia!
“Then that means—” Moira-Selene guessed.
Usagi ran as fast as she could before Moira-Selene could even finish her sentence. As the other Sailor Senshi watched in shock, exasperation, and awe, Usagi had already made it down the street. Luna, fearing for her safety as she always did, went rushing after her, following her blond hair down Gracia Row. In their wake, Jessica left Moira-Selene to watch Danie, ordered the remaining Inner Sailor Senshi to find Alex and Amanda, and told Samantha and Evie that she would accompany them to follow Luna and Usagi.
Meanwhile, Usagi burst into Angelia’s apartment building a few blocks away from Cat Headquarters with her lungs screaming in pain. She hadn’t run like that since high school but that was the least of her concern now. Forgetting the elevator, she ventured up the steps, never faltering or stumbling once. Luna was galloping madly behind her, silently admiring her bravery and cursing her foolhardiness for taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Usagi flung open the door to the hallway and rushed through, and Luna managed to barely save her tail before the door slammed shut.
At the door of Apartment 410, Usagi panted and pounded her fists on the wood. The door was opened by a wide-eyed Angelia.
“Annie-chan!” she panted. “Annie-chan…you have to listen to me… Onegai…”
Scared at the tone in Usagi’s voice, Angelia cried, “Usagi-chan! What’s going on?”
As Angelia led Usagi in, Luna followed in behind them, virtually unnoticed. In the living room, Orlando sat on the couch in the middle of grading astronomy papers. He looked up at them, then his eyes lit up in comprehension as they fell on Usagi. Of course, her grim expression made him frown and he searched her face for clues.
“What’s going on?” he asked.
“That’s what I’d like to know,” Angelia responded. She turned to Usagi. “Usagi-chan, daijoubu ka?”
Usagi stared at her earnestly. “I came to save you, Annie-chan.” Her voice was soft.
Angelia’s eyebrows furrowed and her eyes widened. “Save me from what?”
The answer was an explosion from the door, splintering wood and the force of it sending Angelia, Orlando, Usagi, and Luna to the floor. As the smoke cleared, the three humans and Luna looked up with their gritty eyes and saw a man and a woman standing over them.
“I see you got here before us,” Amanda said to Usagi. Then she chuckled. “Just barely. But it’s not going to help.”
Usagi glared at her. “You leave Annie-chan alone. You’re never going to get what you want.”
“Like hell I won’t,” Amanda snapped. She turned to her companion. “Alex, get rid of this nuisance, would you please?”
The man with the short dark hair (obviously he had changed it back to his original color) opened his palm where a sunburst was forming.
Within a flash, Alex was on the floor, and Orlando had tackled him.
Angelia gasped and climbed to her feet despite Usagi’s protests. Amanda grabbed Angelia by the hair as Orlando struggled with Alex. Usagi’s eyes raced back and forth between the spectacle of Orlando fighting with Alex and Angelia writhing with pain and anguish. Orlando growled as Alex punched him in the stomach and something in his eyes glowed, making them seem almost golden, when Orlando retaliated with a punch of his own. Witnessing this, Usagi and Luna shared a look, then jumped into the fray.
Alex threw Orlando off of him and he flew into the wall then slid onto the floor, unconscious. Usagi went after Alex as he was about to attack Orlando. Seeing the light in his hand, Usagi shielded Orlando without thinking about herself or about transforming into Eternal Sailor Moon. Luna, claws extended, flew at the woman’s face and held, clinging for dear Angelia’s life. Amanda swore and tried to tear the cat away but Angelia kicked her in the stomach and turned to see Usagi’s back in flames.
“Usagi-chan!” she cried. She ran to help her, but Amanda grabbed her by the hair again and pulled her back. A blow to her head rendered Angelia unconscious. Amanda and Alex, having done what they had intended, set fire to Angelia’s apartment and left Usagi, Luna, and Orlando for dead.
A minute later, Usagi shifted, coughing over the acrid smoke. Her back was stinging and her clothes and hair were singed. She noticed Orlando under her and felt an overwhelming sense of purpose. Spying her cat, she crawled over to Luna as the cat revived herself.
“Usagi-chan!” she yelled. “Save him.” She struggled to her feet. “I’ll be okay. I can—”
At that moment, one of the ceiling beams cracked loudly. Usagi gasped and dived for Orlando’s prone body. Usagi rescued Orlando from the beam and fought to funnel energy in getting them out of there. The fire was too powerful for her. Drained of her energy, Usagi fell unconscious on top of Orlando, shielding him.
The window shattered and, with a burst of wind, Sailor Rose entered the inferno. The sound of sirens coming closer assaulted the roaring fire. After her came Sailor Mercury, and Rose called out to her to smother the fire. Using an Aqua Illusion, Mercury doused the fire enough for Rose to reach Usagi and Orlando. Mercury picked Luna up and was relieved to find that she was alright.
“Are they okay?” Mercury inquired.
Rose frowned, checking breathing and pulses. “They’re okay. They’re both burned, but they’ll be alright.”
The near-deafening sirens indicated that the firefighters and the ambulance had arrived so Rose and Mercury de-transformed. When the firefighters entered the apartment, they saw medical student Ami Mizuno and ex-renowned doctor Jessica Thomas standing over a small blonde and a soot-faced young man. She called out to them and explained how they came and put the fire out. Quickly, EMTs rushed Usagi and Orlando out on stretchers. Ami and Jessica ventured down to the street and consoled the other Senshi. They rushed off to the hospital not long after.
* * *
“This is it,” said Neo-Queen Serenity with Chibi-Usa in her lap. “It’s time.”
Orlando frowned. He was back in the flowery field, which was, if his memory served correctly, in Crystal Tokyo. He had been sitting on the ground talking with Serenity—but he couldn’t recall what they had been talking about. How had they come to this? And when? What had started the conversation?
“Time for what?” Orlando asked. “Are my questions going to be answered?”
Serenity turned as a petite woman appeared nearby and was walking toward them. She had long brown hair and deep brown eyes. She wore an orange-red robe over an orange dress that sparkled in the sunlight. She held nothing. When she paused a few feet in front of him, he could sense that there was something about her. He felt close to her, like she was kin. He sensed many other things about her that weren’t as tangible or easily named.
She held out a hand to him. “You shouldn’t be afraid of me. You have seen me before.”
You have seen me before. Right… Then in a flash: the mirror! But how could he have seen her in his mirror after taking a shower at his apartment in the twenty-first century, and then be here ten centuries later to see her—
“That’s why it’s called a dream, my child,” the woman said with a bit of laughter in her voice. “I can see that you’re confused already and I haven’t even begun speaking.” Something told him to take her hand and he did. Some of his anguish ebbed away.
“Can you answer my questions?” Orlando wanted to know. “I think I have a lot of them.”
The woman’s eyes twinkled. “I can answer some of them. The rest, time will answer.” She took her hand back. “It’s time for you to go. But we will meet again.”
This time, he expected the whiteness and was not at all perplexed by it. Perhaps more exasperated than ever.