Neptune Needs Mercy
Age Rating: 13 +
Serena, Mina, and Rini were walking down the busy Japanese streets on their way to the video game arcade. "Why do we have to go here?" Rini whined. "I wish I could be with Hotaru."
Serena laughed. "Well, I know what I'M going to do! Andrew, get ready for Sexy Serena! He is sooo hot!" She started twirling around in front of them, hands outstretched and head tilted up. As she twirled, she bumped into a light pole. "Ow ow ow ooh!" she squeaked.
"You can dream all you want, Serena," Mina said sweetly. "But I'm going to beat that new Sailor Neptune video game. I hear she has to beat Sailor Moon." Mina laughed as Serena sobered instantly and began protesting.
Rini heaved a sigh. "Oh, come on, Moon Mama. She still owes you her life from when you saved her at the concert."
Serena still wasn't placated, but she stopped shrieking and simply growled under her breath. Finally, they were at the arcade. When they entered, a strange sight met their eyes. Serena, Mina, and Rini all gasped. All of the games were abandoned except for one. A huge crowd was around it, arguing and fighting over who could play it next. Poor Andrew had just gone back to the counter and laid his head in his arms, weary from trying to make peace. Serena and Mina hurried over to him, while Rini hung around the outside of the crowd, trying to figure out what was the problem. Diana poked her head out of Rini's hair.
"What's going on?" as ked the tiny grey kitten.
"I don't know." Rini tried to push her way through the crowd, but there were too many people. She heard snatches of conversation. "She's so mature and beautiful!" "Yeah, a true lady superhero!" "I want to play next! Her attacks are so cool and powerful!" "Come on, I want a turn!"
Diana looked puzzled. "Who are they talking about? Is it a new Sailor V video game? Or is it one about Sailor Moon?" The little kitten put her paws over her ears. "They're so loud!"
Rini commented airily, "It's really weird how different Sailor Moon and Serena are. One's really awesome and powerful and mature, but the other's totally not!" She giggled.
"Luna says it's because it's her Moon Princess and Champion of Love and Justice coming out when she transforms. Besides, isn't she better than when Luna first found her?"
Meanwhile, Serena and Mina were doing their best to console and encourage Andrew. He was totally bummed. "I don't understand it," he kept saying. "I installed the new video game and only a couple of people were playing it. Now a huge crowd is fighting over it. But the people who walk away look like they're entranced. They move slowly but their eyes are racing back and forth as if they were still playing."
Hm, thought Serena. This sounds weird. But she said, "Why don't you take a break and get a soda with us? I'll pay!" But Andrew shook his head. "I've got to make sure they don't wreck anything."
Mina said thoughtfully, "Hey Serena, I could go for a soda. We can come back with one for Andrew." Her voice dripped with meaning.
"Ok," said Serena, not really getting it. Mina hissed in her ear, "This sounds like Sailor business. I want to hear what Luna and Artemis have to say about it. And we'd better get Rini. You know, somehow she managed to get to the middle of that crowd. Someone might hurt her."
Oh!" said Serena. "Hey Rini!" she called. "We're going for sodas! Get over here ya brat." Mina and Serena headed over to the crowd just as Rini pushed her way out, Diana clinging to her odangos. "Hey, guys!" she said cheerfully. "I figured it out!"
"Shut up!" whispered Mina. "We'll talk it over at the Sailor meeting. We have to see Luna and Artemis."
Dr. Tomoe stayed up late yet again in his laboratory. But this time, he reached not for a test tube that would create a HeartSnatcher, but one on an isolated table in one of the shadowy corners. He mixed it with the liquid over the Bunsen burner, chuckling slightly with evil and sinister glee.
Kaori Night, resplendent in a glittery black evening gown. "What is it, Doctor? You haven't used the usual formula." She spoke with careful neutrality, eyes hooded, lest the doctor take offense.
But Dr. Tomoe was in no way upset. "I grow weary of having HeartSnatchers going away and failing their job. Now this creature, which I will call the HeartHunter, will seek out those with pure heart crystals and bring them here. Then a HeartSnatcher can remove it with no interruptions."
"Brilliant, Dr. Tomoe!" exclaimed Kaori Night. "Now we are sure to succeed!"
The ridged, egg-like object hovered up to the ventilation system and left, to the deranged, delighted roar of laughter from below.
An impromptu Scout meeting was called at Raye's temple as soon as Luna heard "weird" and "they weren't normal". Artemis heartily agreed.
When everybody was assembled, Rini related what she had discovered. "Everyone's fighting over the new Sailor Neptune video game, " she said. "But the people who play it aren't moving anything except their eyes and their hands. I poked one of them really hard and nothing happened. They don't even seem to be breathing."
"Yeah," chimed in Diana. "It was so weird."
"And Andrew said that when the people who were playing were done and walked away, their eyes were darting back and forth and their hands were twitching," added Mina.
"Awww, I know why that happens," drawled Lita. "You're so into the game that your muscles twitch afterward. It's happened to me a lot." She leaned back on one of the pillars. "It's no big deal."
"Yes it is," shot back Serena. "That's happened to me a lot too - but that's not it. It's as if they were brainwashed - as if their minds were taken and replaced with something weird."
Raye rolled her eyes in disgust. "Serena, of course, is the authority on this as she spends the most time at the video arcade," she said sarcastically. "You're there practically every second of your summer vacation except when you're with Darien. Were you born there or are you engaged to Andrew now?"
Serena instantly dropped into dreamland. "Oh, if only I were engaged to Andrew! That would be just SO wicked cool!"
"Does that mean I can have Darien?" asked Raye promptly. "Or are you planning on cheating on one of them, Serena?"
"Stop it, you guys. If those people put so much into that game, then only those with pure hearts could escape its trap.” Amy spoke for the first time. “And then those HeartSnatchers would know exactly who has a pure heart and could capture it right there.”
“Amy’s right, you know,” commented Artemis. “If Mistress 9 got hold of a pure heart crystal, who knows what could happen!”
Luna got up. “Nothing to do but patrol the arcade,” she said reluctantly, to the cheers of Serena, Mina, and Lita. “But NO PLAYING! You must keep your eyes and ears open at all times!” And with that, the meeting was over.
Michelle stirred uneasily on her sleep. Finally unable to even doze, she pulled on a dressing-gown and crept out to the couch, where Amara lay sprawled under a comforter.
“Psst! Amara!” she whispered urgently. “Wake up!” Michelle walked over to the sleeping form and gently pushed her shoulder. “Amara, wake up!”
The tall, blonde-haired girl yawned and awoke. “What is it, Michelle?” she asked sleepily. “It’s the middle of the night. Is anything wrong?”
Michelle nodded, her thick blue hair falling across her face. “Yeah. Oh Amara, I don’t know what it is, but something, something evil, is disturbing the currents. I’ve tried and tried but I can’t see it or find out anything about it. I don’t know anything.” Her voice caught on a muffled sob.
Amara sat up. She motioned for Michelle to sit beside her, and stroked her hair. “Michelle, it’ll be all right. Trust me. It’s going to be o.k.” Amara put her arms around Michelle, who cried into the night.
“You know, I’m getting really tired of watching this crowd. They’re so noisy,” Amy sighed the next day. “I could be in the library, studying for summer classes.”
Serena whooped. “Amy, don’t you ever think of anything other than school? This is fun! I get to stay here and talk to Andrew without Luna yelling at me!” She smiled and walked to the counter. “Oh An-drew!” she sang. “I’d like to TALK to you!”
“Oh great.” Raye buried her head in her arms. “Doesn’t she ever think of anything besides eating, sleeping, and GUYS?”
Lita turned back from watching the crowd. “What’s wrong with liking guys? Just because Darien chose Serena instead of you doesn’t mean you have to think they’re all terrible.”
Mina joined in. “Yeah, there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s better than if Darien liked Andrew or Serena liked YOU.” Mina giggled. “I’m glad Serena left Rini at home. She’d have some fresh remark.”
It was at that moment, when all the girls were distracted, that the HeartHunter sphere glided silently into the room. It floated around, then landed on a clay sumo wrester doll on the floor in the back room. The doll grew and grew, gaining strength, cunning, and life from the capsule. The HeartHunter flexed its muscles, a red light smouldering in its eyes. It shattered a window as an escape route, then sat in the dark and gloom to wait – wait for one with a pure heart.
Meanwhile, Amara awoke. She eased out from beside the sleeping Michelle and changed from her silk pajamas to black flared-led pants and a golden blouse. Running a brush through her hair and slipping in her single gold earring, Amara left a note telling Michelle where she was going. She hopped on her motorcycle and roared to the arcade. There was a new game there, and Amara was going to beat it.
Around twenty minutes later, Michelle reached for Amara. Nothing being there, she got up and looked around. Seeing the note on the little table, Michelle got up, pulled ger dressing-gown a little closer around her satin negligee, and went over and read it. *Oh Amara,* she thought, *you and your new stuff. Have to try everything new.* Michelle sighed. She got dressed in a frothy silver skirt and white wrap top and made a cup of tea. Sipping slowly, she trie to figure out what she had sensed that night. Something was definitely wrong, but what? Every time she tried to find it, it slipped away like an elusive eel. Michelle finished drinking and went outside. She headed for the video game arcade, wanting to talk it over with Amara.
“I am soo bored,” yawned Serena, nearly slipping off the counter she was leaning on. “Nothing’s happening here except that huge fight over a stupid Sailor Neptune video game.”
“Hey look, Serena. Isn’t that Amara and Michelle?” Mina pointed over to where the two older girls were waiting quietly in almost the front of the line. “I’ll bet you a double-chocolate sundae that Amara bets it within forty-five minutes!”
“You’re on!” exclaimed Serena. “It’s her turn! Who’s got a watch?”
Somehow the girls borrowed a watch from someone in the crowd and waited for Amara to finish.
Forty minutes later, Amara leaned back. “Hey Michelle! I beat it!”
“Great!” replied Michelle. “Now it’s my turn. Watch out, Sailor Moon. The Queen of the Sea is on her way.” She slipped into the seat just as Amara vacated it. Michelle started a new game and began fast and furious.
Over by the counter, the five girls were in shock. Amara beat that video game in only forty minutes! Most people who hadn’t been there for a few days walked out halfway through. And did Michelle have a chip on her shoulder with Sailor Moon or what? But most importantly, only people with pure hearts weren’t affected by the game. Could it be that Amara had a pure heart?
Meanwhile, after the HeartHunter had broken the window as an escape route and had scoped out the area, it lay in wait in the back room, peeking out the cracked door.
It gave a snort when Michelle finished. She wasn’t affected either. Then the HeartHunter put it together. Its eyes flashed red and it leapt out the door, giving a huge roar. It ran towards Michelle, who screamed and struggled when it caught her. With another loud roar, the HeartHunter bounded a few steps and disappeared.
“Wh-what happened? What was that THING?” shrieked Serena at no one in particular. Andrew was frozen with shock behind his counter. “We’ve got to get her back!”
“You won’t.” A low, sultry voice broke in. “I will. That was a type of HeartSnatcher. It’s too dangerous.” Amara strode over to the girls.
“What do you mean, ‘too dangerous’?” asked Lita haughtily. “I’d like to know what YOU could do!”
Amara didn’t rise to the bait. She kept a solemn face as she answered, “I can do plenty. It’s dangerous because that creature probably went to where it came from.”
“And where is that?” asked Amy.
Kaori Night looked over the limp, unconscious Michelle. “She’s not hurt. Maybe she does have a pure heart. Now we need a HeartSnatcher.”
Dr. Tomoe walked over to the test tubes and picked one out. Then, as he was waking back to the simmering liquid, came a clarion call:
“Uranus… World Shaking!”
A huge planet of energy sped toward Dr. Tomoe, throwing him to the ground and shattering the test tube. Kaori Night ran to his side, confirmed that he was still barely hanging on, and looked up, startled. “Who is that?” she inquired of the figure in the shadows.
“Lord of a new epic, I am Sailor Uranus, the Heavenly Sailor, Protected by the planet Uranus and I defend all that is right!” Stepping out of the darkness that had enfolded her, Sailor Uranus quietly demanded, “Free my friend or you will be destroyed!”
Dr. Tomoe struggled to his feet and stood beside Kaori Night before the cool but obvious danger in Sailor Uranus’ glance. That was all the now-awake Michelle needed.
“Neptune Planet Power!”
Dr. Tomoe and Kaori Night spun around, just in time Sailor Neptune transform.
“Lord of a new epic, I am Sailor Neptune, protected by the planet Neptune, and I graciously fight for what’s right!”
Sailor neptune leaped over the two stunned compatriots to land next to Sailor Uranus. “You two will never be stealing pure hearst again!
Neptune… Deep… Submerge!”
The water blasted Kaori Night full in the face. She staggered and fell backwards, limp.
“Uranus… World… Shaking!”
That one hit Dr. Tomoe point-blank. He, too fell in a heap.
“So, Neptune, you do have a pure heart. I hate to do this, but do you remember our promise?” Sailor Uranus said gently.
Sailor Neptune hung her head. “Get it over with.”
Then her head snapped up. “Not so fast, my friend Uranus!
Sailor Uranus collapsed.
“What did you do that for, Sailor Neptune?” demended a voice from the dusk. “She is your friend and ally. Don’t use your powers for evil!”
The another voice called out, “That’s right. Sailor Uranus never would have done that to you. I am Sailor Moon, Champion of Love and Justice, sworn to defend all that is good, like Sailor Uranus. In the name of the Moon, I will punish you!”
“No, Sailor Moon. You’re so stupid. Can’t you see there is more to this?” admonished Sailor Mars as she stepped from the shadows. “What’s this all about, Neptune?”
Sailor Neptune replied, “A few years ago, Uranus and I promised each other that to fulfill our mission, if either of us had a pure heart, the other would take it. Right now, I didn’t want that to happen to me.” She broke down and started crying. “Now I think I killed her!”
“She’s not dead,” said a voice over by Sailor Uranus. “She was knocked out and is just now reviving.” It was Sailor Mercury.
Neptune ran over and unceremoniously shoved Sailor Mercury aside, muttering, “Upstart Water Sailor,” and knelt by Uranus.
“That wasn’t very nice,” broke in Sailor Venus. “What a way to treat someone who was just helping out.” Sailor Jupiter stood beside Venus and added, “That was really crummy. Just because Sailor Mercury is of water and you’re of the sea isn’t grounds for being mean. Or is it because even through Sailor Mercury isn’t as strong as you, she knew that Uranus wasn’t dead? Sailor Uranus has Wind power and I have Thunder, which is pretty close, and we don’t fight.”
“Yeah,” put in Venus. “I’m the Goddess of Love and Sailor Moon is the Champion of Love and Justice, but we don’t fight either.”
“Sailor Moon is weak and I don’t have time to quarrel with you Inner Senshi. I’m sorry, Sailor Uranus, I really am,” Neptune continued with Uranus. “Please recover!”
“Isn’t that sweet. Go, HeartSnatcher!” Dr. Tomoe and Kaori Night had been secretly making a HeartSnatcher with the last remnants of the liquid, but it had mutated into somehing far more powerful due to some additions Dr. Tomoe had put in instead of the missing ingredients. Now it advanced on Neptune, Uranus, and Mercury were, stunned.
Mercury got to her feet.
“Mercury Bubbles… Blast!”
A huge mist formed in the lab, hiding everything from view. The HeartSnatcher growled, unable to find the girls. Mercury had bought them more time.
“Mars… Celestial… Fire… Surround!”
Tongues of fire shot toward the HeartSnatcher. They were barely effective.
“Jupiter Supreme Thunder Crash!”
Even through the mist, the HeartSnatcher dodged the deadly electricity. Jupiter’s attack failed.
“Venus Crescent Beam… Smash!”
The monster fell back against the frontal attack, but still kept going.
“What’s going on? None of our attacks are affecting that thing!” yelled Sailor Jupiter.
Sailor Moon stood out in a patch of moonlight, for the mist was fast dissipating. “Just wait for me!” She raised her wand, but the HeartSnatcher knocked it out of her hand.
“What can we do?” cried Sailor Mercury. “It’s advancing!”
The HeartSnatcher began laughing and pulled up a sleeve. A black star appeared, and began drawing out Sailor Neptune’s pure heart. She screamed, cried, and shrieked, but the Sailors could do nothing against the creature. Then the heart appeared, dazzling in its purity. The HeartSnatcher cackled with glee and darted forward.
“Uranus Space Sword… Blaster!”
Neptune’s heart still floated, shimmering, as the HeartSnatcher died. The pure heart was radiantly beautiful. Sailor Uranus gently replaced it. “I guess that friends are more important than any mission. Aaughkk!”
While the dead HeartSnatcher had been working, Dr. Tomoe had made two more. One of them grabbed Sailor Uranus and the other began extracting Sailor Neptune’s pure heart crystal again. The screams were heart-rending.
Sailor Venus acted quickly as a cover until Sailor Moon could retrieve her wand.
“Venus Love Me Chain!”
But she was too late. Both pure hearts were exposed, and Dr. Tomoe was wiggling in glee.
Then Sailor Moon rose. “You two dirty scum, I’ll make you into moondust for hurting my friends. You are the true evil, not Sailor Neptune!
Moon… Spiral… Heart… Attack!”
Both HeartSnatchers got bashed, but Dr. Tomoe and Kaori Night just got knocked unconscious.
“Great shot, Sailor Moon!” cheered Sailor Jupiter. “Maybe that will knock some sense into their heads! Venus, replace Uranus’ pure heart, and Mars, replace Neptune’s.”
“Whiew! Glad this is over,” said Sailor Uranus after her heart crystal had been replaced. “Thanks, Inner Senshi, and especially you, Princess Odango-Atama.”
They were just about to leave when a rose shot in front of them and stuck in the cement.
“This isn’t over yet,” said Tuxedo Mask, who jumped down after his rose. “Sailor Neptune used her powers in a malicious way towards one who fights beside her for good. Her magic is suspeneded until she can control her use of them.”
Neptune stepped in front of him to confront him, but hung her head instead. “I know that what I did was evil. If I hadn’t attcked Sailor Uranus, our mission would be fulfilled and our enemies vanquished. I almost killed my best friend and put you all in danger.” She turned to Uranus. “I’m really, really sorry.”
“No hard feelings, but I’d feel worse if I had taken your heart, because I would have lost you forever,” said Uranus, slightly embarrassed.
Then Neptune turned to Sailor Moon. “That makes twice you have saved my life, and once the life of my friend. I’m sorry I said you were weak, for now I see that when it comes to things that really matter, like loyalty, friendship, and pureness of heart, you are the strongest of us all. Truly you are the Moon Princess and future Neo-Queen Serenity.”
And she knelt before Sailor Moon in humble reverence.
Sailor Moon said, “We’re all friends, Sailor Neptune, united in a common cause – to eradicate evil and restore the reign of Silver Millennium. If nobody else does, I forgive you. You were just scared for your life.”
“I forgive her too,” said Sailor Jupiter.
“And I also,” said Sailor Venus.
“So do I,” said Sailor Mars.
“As do I,” said Sailor Mercury.
And all the Sailor Scouts turned and glared at Tuxedo Mask, who blushed and rubbed the back of his neck. “Ok, ok, I forgive her too,” he said. “She can have her powers back.”
Sailor Neptune hugged each one of them. “Thank you, my friends.” She was crying. “Thank you so much!”