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Sailor Moon X Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles and the Hare

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SAILOR MOON X TMNT: TURTLES AND THE HARE 

ACT 1 HARE TODAY GONE TOMORROW

Chapter 1:

“It’s a trap, my sons.” Master Splinter whimpered in pain. His ears twitched after he heard the faint sound of his four sons battling the foot clan down the narrow hallway leading into the Technodrome’s main command room. The old rat’s hairy limbs struggled against the metal clamps and chains that pinned him tightly against the metallic wall. His cherished students barged into the Shredder’s headquarters to save their master’s life, but they had fallen right into their archenemy’s hands. 

“This rock I stole from Krang came from Dimension X.” Shredder thrust his prize at the rat’s wet nose so he could get a glimpse of the flawless gemstone. He had disposed of the pesky brainy, tossing the freak into a prison and seizing control of the Technodrome for himself. “It possesses an enormous power that will help me conquer this rotten city once and for all!” 

“You are delving into a world that you cannot comprehend.” Splinter warned. The black stone radiated an energy so malicious that it made the rat shudder in fear. Chains clanked and rattled as the mutant turned his head to avoid the aura emanating from the crystal. “This evil is far beyond your control. Destroy it now or that crystal shall prove to be your greatest folly!”

“I’ve had enough of your fortune cookie wisdom!” Shredder brandished a poisoned dagger from his belt and thrust it into the rat’s side to silence him. It was not a killing blow, but the toxic substance coating the blade ensured that Splinter would suffer a slow and agonizing death. “You and your pesky turtles won’t be able to stop me this time!”

        Shredder towered over his gravely wounded rival and let out a thunderous laugh. He turned away, his long purple cape fluttering behind him as he carried the jet black crystal over to a high-tech cannon suspended from the ceiling of the control room. His bumbling mutants Bebop and Rocksteady flanked his sides, grunting arrogantly with guns of their own that they kept pointed at the suffering ninja master.

“Seems that my first test subjects have arrived right on schedule.” Shredder boasted as the four ninja turtles burst onto the control room’s perimeter balcony, brawling with his henchman. He inserted the crystal into a slot on his device, causing the electronic panels alongside mysterious weapon to gleam to life with flashing lights. 

    “I will finally have my revenge, Hamato Yoshi!” The gemstone pulsated with a purplish hue while he searched for his perfect shot, his fingertips resting on the red trigger button, anxiously awaiting the precise moment to fire his new toy. “Behold my awesome power and observe as I reduce your students into nothing but turtle wax! “  

“Look out for that gigantic cannon!” Leonardo ordered his brothers to fan out over the perimeter. He pointed one of his swords at the heavily armored villain, meeting the evil gaze that peered from underneath his shiny helmet. They had fallen right into the Shredder’s lap, just as he knew they would when he had kidnapped Splinter from their dojo in the sewer. Coming here was a predictable action that lacked any element of surprise. They would have to fight their way through the entire foot-clan to save their master, but it was a risk they were all willing to take. 

“A gizmo that big is kinda hard to miss, Leo!” Raphael snapped back as he drove his sai into the robotic skull of a mouser that had lunged at his throat with its sharp metal teeth. Three more of the mechanical vermin immediately took its place, but Raphael was ready for them, grunting with rage as he overpowered the annoying robots with his sai. Sprockets and computer chips burst out of the damaged creations littering the Technodrome.

 “I’ll save our sensei.” Leonardo commanded with authority. He parried a foot soldier’s strike with the katana he held in his spare hand while continuing to shout out orders."You three do your best to stop Shred-head from frying our shells!" 

Shredder swiveled the cannon and took aim at the balcony where he spotted the orange masked turtle struggling to fend off several of his henchmen with a pair of nunchucks. Seizing the opportunity, he slammed a gauntleted palm on the cannon’s red trigger button. The glow of the onyx crystal intensified, covering Shredder with a dark and evil aura as a deadly blast of energy zoomed at the exposed turtle.

“Yikes!” Michelangelo dipped his head into his shell, narrowly avoiding the dark reddish bolt of lightning that zapped right by him. The pizza loving mutant watched as the laser beam tore right through the circular ceiling and side panels of the Technodrome, cleaving through steel like a knife through butter. “That was a close one, dudes!” 

“Capture those turtles, you fools!” Shredder barked orders over a loudspeaker. His intimidating image flashed across the monitors displayed throughout the control room. The cannon’s power impressed him as he readied the device for another shot. He would have vengeance against his old rival and the turtles, even if it brought down the entire Technodrome with them. 

Donatello took a moment to inspect their surroundings and calculate their odds of success. More and more of the Shredder’s henchmen, including foot-clan and robots alike, poured through the four hallways that lined the control room. 

“That strange crystal appears to be the power source of that laser cannon!” The tech savvy Donatello remarked to his brother Raphael as he smacked his bo staff against the masked face of a foot-soldier, sending him hurtling over the balcony. “We need to remove it in order to disable that laser cannon, and we need to do it right now!”

“Easier said than done, Donnie!” Raphael could not even see his brother amongst the mayhem. He parried a sword with his sai and kicked another henchman square in the chest, desperate to reach his siblings. “They are everywhere!”

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Chapter 2:

An alarm clock buzzed from atop Usagi Tsukino’s cluttered nightstand. She had marked this special day on her calendar with a pink heart sticker for weeks ever since she had arranged this reunion brunch. Most of the Universities were now on break for the summer, so she had planned a full day of activities for her four best friends on a lucky day that they were all available. She was so excited she could hardly sleep all night in anticipation.

Usagi could not wait to get together and hear all about their experiences over the past few months. They had been apart from one another for the longest amount of time since they first met and became Sailor Guardians over four years ago. Time had passed since they vanquished their enemies and little by little their lives were getting back to a sense of normalcy. All of her friends had gone away to college in pursuit of their own personal dreams and goals, but she was the only one who remained behind, enrolled in a local community school a short walking distance from her home. Of course she had made a few new friends and was still dating the love of her life, but it was not the same without Ami, Rei, Makoto and Minako constantly around.

Warm rays of sunlight were shining brightly through her window and onto her face, but the groggy Usagi still did not want to get out of bed. She covered her eyes with a pillow to shield herself from the light and block out the alarm’s annoying buzz, but when that did not work she swung her hand at the clock to hit the snooze button. Her palm took out the clock, loose jewelry, a heart-shaped frame containing a picture of her boyfriend Mamoru and a bunch of other knickknacks in one fell swoop, all of which rained down onto her cat Luna who slept peacefully on the pink rug below. The black cat screeched as the clock landed right on her furry tail. She jumped onto the bed and nudged at her guardian, who quickly tossed herself away from the pesky pet.

“Usagi!” Luna hopped up onto the human’s body and continued to pester her. “Get up! You are going to be late!”

“Five more minutes!” she yanked the pink comforter over her head with a sharp tug that sent Luna flying off the bed.

“Do you know that it’s already ten o’clock?” Luna jumped back up. “Your friends are going to be waiting for you!”

“Ten o’clock!” Usagi ripped the covers off in disbelief. “But that’s not possible!”

“Did you remember to set your alarm back an hour last night?”

“Luna!” Her face squeezed in like she had tasted a lemon. “Weren’t you supposed to remind me?”

“Don’t blame me!” the cat turned up her chin. “It is not my fault you stayed up too late playing video games with your little brother while I fell asleep waiting for you to go to bed!”

“Hehe.” Usagi’s face turned red as she ran her fingers through her blonde hair. “Shingo and I finally beat Sailor V the game! I guess I got a little carried away.”

“Oh, Usagi!” Luna shook her head. “Hurry up and get ready!”

She changed out of her pajamas and threw on whatever clothes she could find scattered around her messy room, including a wrinkly pink t-shirt and a mismatched pair of socks. Usagi scampered towards the door, slipping on a pair of sneakers without bothering to tie them up.

“I can’t forget this!” the excited girl snatched her pocketbook off a chair. Her laces bounced off the floor and her long pigtails soared behind her head as she bolted out of the house. She may be a little late, but at least she remembered to bring her bag, which concealed her special surprise!

Chapter Text

Chapter 3

Usagi huffed and puffed as she sprinted towards the diner where her old team was meeting up for brunch. She spotted their silhouettes through a large glass window sitting around a table as she neared the restaurant. Overcome with glee, the pigtailed girl crossed the street and barreled through the entrance door, bumping into patrons as she hurried over to her companions.

“Hey, everyone! Sorry I’m late!” Usagi stretched up her hands to the ceiling in delight and tripped on one of her loose shoelaces while she raced over to their table. The clumsy girl stumbled forward, inadvertently knocking into a young waitress carrying a tray full of food and drinks. Pancakes, muffins, toast and a large cup of orange juice flew everywhere as the two girls collapsed to the checkered floor.

“Are you alright?” Ami immediately leapt out of the booth and helped the server back to her feet, after ensuring that the rough impact did not injure her. “We are so sorry about this. My friend just got a little too excited.”

“Ami!” Usagi popped right up and squeezed her arms around her timid friend, giving her a suffocating hug. She shook her back and forth while hopping up and down on her feet like a rabbit. “I’ve missed you so much!”

“I miss you too.” the hopeful medical student smiled awkwardly as the humiliated waitress stormed away in disgust, carrying her empty tray back to the kitchen. “Let’s help clean up first.”

Makoto and Minako had already grabbed napkins and scrubbed the wet floor. They picked up the fallen food items, apologizing to the server and her staff for their ditzy companion. Usagi could not help herself, bending down on her knees to give her two friends a quick hug as they helped fix the mess she had created. Her smile stretched ear to ear, her excitement and joy overshadowed the embarrassing scene she had just caused. This was the first time they had all been together since they started their first year of college, and they had a lot of catching up to do. But there was one more friend that she had not given a hug to just yet.

“Where is Rei?” Usagi asked her friends as she peered up from the floor and spotted a pair of red heels standing in a large puddle of orange juice that Minako desperately tried to mop up with a lump of napkins. Her eyes followed up a pair of long legs until she found her fiery friend standing before her with her arms folded across her chest. A scowl of disgust crossed her face as pulp and juice dripped down her long black hair and into the puddle beneath her. Rei wore a red dress saturated and stained with splotches of juice. Usagi went to give her a hug, but hesitated at the fire she saw in Rei’s eyes.

“I just bought this dress a few days ago.” Rei remarked as she glanced down at her blemished outfit. “And now it’s ruined, thanks to you!”

“Good thing I only spilled juice and not coffee or hot tea!” Usagi laughed to make light of the situation. “Then you would have gotten badly burned! So juice is not so bad when you think about it, right?”

“Are you thirsty, Usagi? Would you like some juice as well?” Rei did not find the comment funny. She snagged another tall cup of orange juice out of a customer’s hands just as he was about to take a sip and flung its contents at her friend’s face.

“Stop it, Rei!” Makoto yanked Usagi’s arm and pulled her out of harm’s way. The juice missed Usagi, but it splashed against the white apron of a chubby chef who was flipping pancakes behind the counter. 

“Uh oh...” Usagi mumbled as she spotted the soaked chef. The pancake he had just flipped came down on his face, covering his forehead, nose and cheeks with gooey batter. Minako could not help herself, pointing at the unfortunate soul with a finger as she laughed hysterically. 

“OUT! Get out! All of you! “ the enraged chef ripped the mushy batter from his face and raised the spatula high above his head. His eyebrows furrowed and a bushy mustache twitched in rage as he charged around the counter. The girls quickly gathered their belongings and made a run for it as the angered cook chased after them.

“We are so sorry for the trouble we’ve caused!” Ami paused at the door, trying to reason with the madman. “We can pay for the food we’ve wasted. Things will settle down if you just give us another chance.”

“I SAID GET OUT!” The man swung the spatula and would have hit her if it wasn’t for Minako, who grabbed her friend’s hand and tugged her outside.

Chapter Text

Chapter 4

“I am sorry for being so late!” Usagi apologized to her friends as they scurried down the sidewalk. The fuming chef could still be heard shouting and screaming at them, swinging his spatula over his head in a frenzy as the five girls hurried away from the restaurant. “And I’m sorry for ruining our brunch... And Rei... your dress...”

“Hmmph...” Rei grumbled and turned her head away, refusing to even look at Usagi. “These juice stains will not come out.”

“Don’t worry about it Usagi, we knew you’d be late like always!” the tall and athletic Makoto Kino broke the awkward silence and wrapped one of her toned arms around Usagi’s shoulder, gesturing to a wicker basket that she hoisted with her opposite hand. “I prepared a pleasant lunch for all of us. We can take a walk to the park and setup a picnic. It’s such a beautiful day for it after all!”

“That’s a great idea!” Usagi jumped for joy. “Your food is always yummy, Mako! Let’s go, I can’t wait to eat! I’m starving! “

“I’m sure there will be a lot of cute guys in the park today.” Minako twirled her blonde hair in anticipation as the warm sunrays caressed her face. “And speaking of guys. Did anyone meet any nice boys in college? I want to hear all about it!”

“I met one who reminded me of the senior who broke my heart years ago.” Makoto adjusted her baseball cap and shook her head sadly. “But it did not work out.”

“You need to get over him already!” Minako advised. “There’s plenty of fish in the seafood market, as they always say!”

“I believe the correct English phrase is that there are plenty of fish in the sea, not the market.” Ami Mizuno pointed out.

“How about you, Ami?” Minako asked after a brief chuckle at her expense. 

“Me? I’m too busy with my studies to even consider going on any dates.” the timid girl responded. “There are so many entrance exams I need to prepare for just to get into medical school. What about you, Minako? I’m sure you had a lot of fun.”

“Oh, I sure did!” She giggled. “Remember when I two-timed? I accidently tried three-timing, but it did not work out any better than it did last time! Let’s just say I plan on transferring to another university!”

“Accidentally, Minako?” Usagi laughed. “Don’t worry, you will find your one true love just like I did with my MAMO!”

“How is Mamoru Chiba doing these days?” Minako quickly changed the subject. She had a miserable academic year and did not want to dwell on it any longer.

“Great! He just graduated college and is looking for a job!” Usagi clamored. “I can’t wait for him to start his career so then he can buy me a big, shiny, sparkly, diamond ring!”

“And Yuuichirou?” Makoto approached the gloomy Rei, trying to get her involved with the conversation. She took off her baggy track jacket and offered it to her friend.

“What about him?” Rei accepted the oversized coat and wrapped it around her skinny frame to cover up her tarnished dress. 

“So...” Minako Aino prodded. “Are you still together?”

“He remained at the temple with my grandfather the whole time I was away at the University.” Rei answered. “I can’t seem to get rid of him.” 

“I don’t think you want to!” Usagi smiled brightly. “We all know you love him. You can’t hide it from us!”

“WHAT?” the unexpected accusation caught her off guard. “Love? HIM! No! Of course not!”

“Just admit it already.” Usagi nagged. “I can’t wait to be your maid of honor when you get married!”

“NOBODY’S GETTING MARRIED!” Rei screeched. 

“Well, it is my dream to marry Mamoru someday.” Usagi’s eyes lit up in jubilation at the very thought of her future wedding. “Everything is going to be so perfect! The flowers, the dresses, and of course my handsome groom! I can’t wait to share my special day with all of you!”

“Your GROOM hasn’t even given you an engagement ring yet!” Rei pointed out. “So keep dreaming!” 

“You are so MEAN!” Usagi threw a tantrum at the mention at that fact, throwing up her arms in frustration."He is saving up to buy me the most special ring in the universe! The diamond will be so big and flawless! You’ll see!"

“Rei...” Minako smiled as she nudged her friend with her elbow. “Tell us the truth already!”

“I do care for him.” Rei’s face reddened slightly. Expressing her feelings made her uncomfortable, even amongst her best friends. “But I do not want our relationship to effect my dreams of becoming an international businesswoman. If I stay with Yuuichirou, then I will live in that temple for the rest of my life. I know that would make him and my grandfather very happy, but that’s not how I envision my future. Not now, at least. I want to move on from this place and go somewhere new and exciting for a change. If Yuuichirou cannot accept this, then I may have to break up with him.”

“I TOLD YOU!” Usagi shouted! The klutz hopped on her feet and skipped circles around her friends. “She LOVES him!”

“SHUT UP, USAGI!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 5:

They strolled into the park and found a magnificent spot to set up the picnic by a reservoir. It was nice and warm outdoors, with a slight breeze and not a single cloud in the sky. Tall city buildings and skyscrapers may have surrounded them, but this park was a pleasant escape from the hustle and bustle of crowded Tokyo. Birds were chirping on a nearby tree full of green leaves, and children were chasing each other as they played a game of tag. 

“How cute!” Minako held her chin with both palms as she spotted a young couple paddling a dove-shaped boat in the water. The man kissed his girlfriend passionately, ignoring Minako who watched on with jealously from her spot on the hill. “I wish I could have a romance like that this summer!”

Ami and Rei spread out a blanket on the grass while Makoto sorted through her basket. Usagi hovered over her, eagerly waiting to dig into the feast.

“Here you go, Usagi!” Mako smiled as she handed her friend a warm pork bun from the container.

 “Thank you!” she responded before shoving the whole thing in her mouth with one big chomp. “YUM!”

“I am so glad you are all back home!” Usagi said in-between bites as they ate. “We are going to have so much fun this summer. I want to sing karaoke, go to the arcade, eat ice-cream and all other kinds of dessert, stay up all night and have sleepovers, just like old-times!” 

“Actually...” Ami spoke up. “I am very sorry, but I signed up for a summer semester. I need the extra credits so I can start medical school early. But don’t worry! I should have some spare time for the next three weeks to see you. Although, I will still need time to study and conduct research.”

“Well, I won’t be free too often either. I’m going to look for a boyfrrr... I mean another college soon!” Minako laughed. “If I can even find one that will take me in with my disciplinary record! I also need to go to court to contest this order of protection...”

“Order of protection? Rei furrowed her brow in confusion.”What happened?"

“Oh, that? It’s nothing! Just some silly misunderstanding!” Minako waved her hands quickly dismissing the subject. She did not want to discuss it any further.

“I am taking part in a karate tournament in Okinawa next month.” Makoto continued to serve her food. “Sorry, Usagi, but I will need a lot of time to train. If I win, there’s a chance I could go pro!”

“It’s okay!” The disheartened Usagi tried to keep her smile. “At least we can spend some time together during the next couple of weeks, right?”

“Of course! Sure!” They replied in unison, except for Rei.

“What about you, Rei?” Usagi asked her silent friend.

“Well...” she started slowly, knowing that what she was about to say was really going to upset her friend. “I accepted an internship for the summer.”

“Congratulations!” Ami smiled. “I am so happy for you. What kind of work does it entail?”

“It is with a news organization called Channel 6 News.” Rei beamed with excitement. “I will receive training and guidance with a professional journalist!

“Oh my gosh, that’s so great!” Minako applauded. “Will you be on TV? You are going to be so famous! Maybe you will become a star!”

“Yes, it is possible.” Rei said. Her eyes lit up as she thought about the possibilities, forgetting about her stained dress for the moment. “This could be my big break! I’ve finally received recognition for all of my amazing talents!” 

“Where in Japan is this internship going to be located?” Makoto asked. “I’ve never heard of Channel 6 News.”

“Oh, I almost forgot to tell you. Channel 6 is an American broadcast station.” Rei continued. “I’m going to their headquarters in New York City!”

“New York City?” They all exclaimed in unison with a mixture of shock and disbelief.

“But that’s so far away!” Usagi tried to hide her dismay, but it was clearly noticeable. “Why couldn’t you find anything closer to home?” 

“I’ve always wanted to visit the United States.” Rei said. “And this is a perfect opportunity for me to travel there and get valuable work experience! If I like it, maybe I will enroll in a university and stay there for a few years.”

“Years?” Usagi muttered in bewilderment as food particles fell out of her mouth.

“It’s possible.” Rei nodded. “Who knows that the future lies for me.”

“I know you will do well there.” Ami sensed Usagi’s disappointment and wanted to encourage her friend to pursuit her goals despite having her own concerns about this unexpected news. “When does this internship start?”

“On Monday.”

“Monday?” the baffled Usagi shouted, nearly choking on her dumpling. “Are you for real? That’s in a couple of days.”

“Yes, I am aware of that.” Usagi’s childish behavior was irritating her, and it showed in the tone of Rei’s response.

“But...but...” Usagi mumbled. “I had so many things planned for us this summer, and now you won’t be around for any of it! What about us? It’s not fair!”

“My career comes foremost.” Rei stated firmly, cutting off her friend as she stood up from the picnic blanket. She was losing her patience and did not want to get any more infuriated by Usagi than she already was. “I am very sorry everyone, but I have to head back to the shrine now. I have a lot of work to do before I leave, and I haven’t started packing. Thank you for the lunch, Makoto.”

“Wait, Rei! You can’t go just yet!” Usagi tried her best to keep her eyes from watering. “I got us all tickets to an amusement park for tonight. I wanted to take you all there.” She reached into her bag and pulled out five tickets and fanned them out.

“An amusement park?” Rei scoffed. We are not fourteen years old anymore! And besides, I don’t have the time for it today. You should have asked me before you purchased the tickets!"

“I thought it would be a delightful surprise...” Usagi whimpered.

“You are so irresponsible.” Rei walked away, but then suddenly turned back around.

“Rei...” Usagi could not hold back the tears, but did her best to stay strong as she saw her friend approach.

“I know you meant well, Usagi. I’ve missed you and your antics.” she gave her a quick hug. “Please come down to the temple tomorrow night at dusk. I will have Yuuichirou arrange a small party for us before I leave.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 6: 

“Mamo!” Usagi screamed in delight as she spotted her boyfriend walking towards the entrance of the amusement park, wearing his usual green blazer and slacks. The sun was setting. The last rays of the sun colored the sky a brilliant pink color as the streetlamps twinkled to life, lighting up the paved road that led to the gates of the amusement park. 

“Usako.” Mamoru started before she wrapped her arms around his waist and squeezed as hard as she could. 

“Thank you so much for meeting me here on such short notice, I know you were so busy today!” Usagi smiled as she handed him one of her five tickets. “You are the best, Mamo!”

“Yes, it was a long day.” he sighed. “I went on three grueling interviews.”

The bright lights, loud music, screaming children and enormous crowds of the amusement park were not exactly how he wanted to spend the evening, but he had a feeling it would upset Usagi if he did not go. He knew that she had planned to take her friends here tonight and thought he’d be able to relax in his apartment until she had called begging and pleading him to meet her here. Why was she all alone? He let out a loud yawn and stretched out his arms, but Usagi grabbed his hand and raced towards the entrance before he could fully exhale. 

“What ride she would go on first?” she asked as they presented their tickets and entered the park. “They have great rollercoasters here! Or if you are hungry, you can buy us some cotton candy or funnel cake! Or maybe we can play games! Can you please win a prize for me!”

“Let’s try something a bit more relaxing first.” the weary boyfriend suggested. “Like the Ferris wheel or the tunnel of love?”

“The Tunnel of Love?” Usagi’s blue eyes lit up. “Of course! My MAMO is so romantic! Let’s go find it!”  

“How did it go with your friends today?” Mamoru asked as they waded through the throng of park-goers. “You have not mentioned them once.”

“We had lots of fun!” the peppy girl hesitated slightly. She was still smiling, but he could tell something was off. “But I’d rather be on a date with my Mamo!”

“Usako.” Mamoru tightened his grip on her hand and forced her to turn and face him. She looked away from his gaze, and he could finally see the sadness that she was trying so desperately to hide. “I know how much you were looking forward to today. What happened?”

“I ruined everything…” Her eyes watered. “I woke up late, and I had to rush to the diner. When I arrived, I accidently knocked juice allover Rei! Then we got kicked out of the restaurant.”

“Rei must have been furious.” He shook his head, trying his best not to chuckle at his girlfriend’s clumsiness. “But I’m sure she will cool off.”

“She’s still a meanie!” Usagi continued. “But I deserved it. It was my fault. I ruined her brand-new dress.”

“What else happened?” he prodded her, sensing there was more to this story. “Why did nobody else want to come to the amusement park with you?”

 Now he saw Usagi teeter even more towards sadness. Perhaps he was too blunt with his questioning. Her lips quivered as she tried to hold back the tears that streamed down her eyes and around her cheeks.

“I missed my friends so much this year.” she sobbed, burying her head in his chest. “I was so excited to reunite with them since we had all finished school. I had hoped to spend a lot of time together and catch up on all we had missed… but they are still so busy with their lives. We used to love coming here every summer. I had saved my allowance all month to surprise them with these tickets, yet no one could come. Or maybe they did not want to!”

“Usako…” Mamoru held her close. “I know you meant well, but…”

“And Rei…” Usagi muttered through her tears. “She got an internship.”

“I’m glad she’s doing well.” 

“She is traveling to New York City!” Usagi peered up from his chest to give him a frown. “And if she likes it, she may decide to live there for a few years… maybe even permanently! All of my friends are going to drift away from me one by one.”

“They’ll always be your friends, no matter where they go.” Mamoru lifted her chin up. “You must support them, whatever path they decide to take.”

“I know!” she whimpered. “But I just wish things could go back the way they were. I don’t like change.”

“You want to marry me some day, right?” he smiled. “And start a family?”

“Of course!” she perked up at the very thought of her future wedding.

“Well, that’s a significant change, right?” Mamoru grinned. “Our lives will be different, and your friends will adjust, I’m sure!”

“That’s true…” Usagi cheered up a bit. “But that’s a change I want, not this.”

They had finally made it to the Tunnel of Love and took a seat on the next available boat. Mamoru wrapped an arm around his girlfriend and held her close.

“No matter happens.” he whispered into her ear. “I’ll always be by your side. I’m not going anywhere!”

“Oh, Mamo!” Usagi perked up and gave him a kiss as they entered the tunnel. “I’d never let you go!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 7:

“Arghhh!” Raphael was swarmed by enemies and had no choice but to launch himself off of the chamber’s perimeter balcony. Shredder had been waiting for that exact moment, his gun carefully pointed at the airborne turtle as he slammed his metal palm on the fire button. Raphael grunted in pain as the deadly projectile grazed against his arm in mid-flight, narrowly missing a fatal strike to his chest. The mutant turtle thudded onto the chamber floor; his arm so badly burned that he could no longer wield a sai with it. Henchmen came running to surround the injured turtle, but out of the corner of his eye he spotted Leonardo fighting his way past an army of foot-soldiers. Several ninjas assaulted Leo, and the graceful slashes of his katana were slowing down. The heroic sword fighter needed his help or he would die trying to make it to their master. He saw Shredder rotate his cannon at their leader and knew he had to act now to give his brother a chance to accomplish his mission. 

“Hey, Cheese grater!” Raphael spun on his shell and took out several foot soldiers with his muscular green legs as he popped himself back onto his feet and fought his way closer to the Shredder’s position. “Is that all you got?” 

He gestured with spare sai and threw it with all his might. The sharp sai clanged against the cannon, snaring the Shredder’s attention away from Leonardo for the moment. “I’m right here, you tin headed freak! Take your best shot with that peashooter of yours!”

Oroku Saki spun his massive weapon on its swivel and pointed the barrel at the exposed turtle who dared mock him. He would make him pay for his reckless audacity! The Shredder grinned as he fired at Raphael, knowing he would not miss him at this proximity. Raphael shut his eyes and braced himself for impact as he turned his shell to the laser, doubting his protective exterior would be strong enough to save him from certain death. He hoped Leonardo would make the best of his sacrifice and get to Master Splinter in time.

“Cowabunga!” Michaelangelo’s swung himself off the balcony on a loose cable like Tarzan in the jungle. The party animal snatched Raphael’s good arm and hoisted him away milliseconds before the fierce laser beam would have obliterated his shell. 

The misfire struck one of the central chamber’s main computer grids. It caught fire and erupted into a violent explosion that rocked the entire Technodrome to its core.

“Thanks, Mikey.” Raphael said as they barely swung away from the explosion’s blast radius. “I owe ya one.”

“Just order me a pizza later!” Michaelangelo kicked his legs to increase their speed. “And we can call it even!’

 A red alarm light flashed overhead and the words “DANGER - WARNING - DANGER” scrolled across the monitors throughout the circular control room, followed by the wail of a siren as the fire continued to spread.

“No!” Shredder shouted in dismay at destruction of his computers. His eyes furrowed in anger as his hatred of the turtles fueled his rage. “DAMN YOU TURTLES!” 

The frustrated Shredder slammed his hand on the trigger button so hard that it got jammed into the fire position. The dark crystal was now glimmering so brightly that he could barely make out the silhouettes of the two turtles that swung through the air on the loose cables, but he fired at them regardless. Panels and debris from the ceiling collapsed to the chamber floor. The erratic laser instantly destroyed monitors and other electronics alongside the walls. Foot clan members scurried about in a crazed panic in fear that the Techndrome would collapse in upon itself. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 8

“You should not have come.” Master Splinter coughed from the suffocating black smoke that clouded the control room. He struggled to lift his hairy chin and watched on in horror as the unstable laser whipped around the chamber in a frenzy. He did not think he had the strength to make it out of here when the Technodrome inevitably imploded and he did not want the turtles to die here foolishly trying to save him from his fate. 

“We could never abandon you, master.” Leonardo readied his katana and brought it down on the clamps that bound his sensei to the wall, cutting through them one by one until he finally freed the old rat. 

“I.... am... too weak...to escape...” Splinter collapsed to the floor in agonizing pain, clutching at a wound on his side. Shredder’s torture had left him at the brink of death. They have poisoned me…please...leave me.... and get your brothers out of here while you still can... my son..."

“Bepop! Rocksteady! Don’t just stand there! Stop them!” The Shredder and his two gigantic mutants had their arms wrapped around the deadly laser cannon, struggling to get it back under control in order to limit the destruction to the Technodrome’s structure. But the turtles were far more important to him than his wild death ray or his spherical base. Revenge had been so close that he could taste it. He would not let his archenemies slip from his grasp yet again.

“But boss...” The bumbling boar and rhinoceros looked at one another and then back at their leader with dumb founded and confused expressions on their ugly mugs. “If we let go...”

“Do as I say! Capture that decrepit old rat and his pets!” The Shredder ordered his cronies. “NOW, you stupid idiots!”

The muscular mutants obeyed and released their hold of the cannon. They scurried off to follow their instructions, but the bumbling rhinoceros bumped into the cannon so hard with his massive frame that he bent through the weapon’s steel barrel and broke it off of its swivel mechanism. The deadly laser clanked to floor, its barrel bent and broken, but the onyx crystal shone even brighter than ever as it tried to fuel the weapon with enough power to burst through. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 9:

Bebop and Rocksteady charged at Leonardo, who stood before his fallen teacher, shielding him from the oncoming mutants who sprayed their machine guns wildly in their direction. Leo easily parried away the bullets with his twin swords, but braced himself for combat as they stampeded his way. He knew he could handle one of these numbskulls on his own, but two against one was another story. He readied his katana for a fight as he heard the roar of an engine in the distance. A black object soared through the air and smacked the boar mutant in the side of his face. Bebop stumbled forward and crashed into a hanging monitor screen. Shattered glass and metal debris collapsed onto the fallen mutant as the hockey puck that had struck his skull wobbled on its sides until it finally fell flat onto the floor.

With only one bumbling fiend left, Leonardo stepped away from his master and knocked the gun out of Rocksteady’s gray hands with his blades. He ducked under a heavy hook punch and pushed his foe back with his katana until he heard the engine roar to life and race towards the dueling mutants.

“Batter up!” A baseball bat came down on the back of the big Rhyno’s skull and shattered into two halves. 

Leonardo leapt into the air and spun his foot into the side of the dazed mutant’s head, sending him crashing to the floor alongside his downed cohort.

“I had him right where I wanted.” Leonardo looked at the masked intruder aboard his motorcycle as he tossed away the bat’s handle. “But boy, am I glad to see you, Casey Jones.”

“April told me Splinter got kidnapped.” Leo could sense a smirk from under the vigilante’s menacing goalie mask as he discarded the remaining half of his broken hockey stick. “I figured maybe you guys could use an extra hitter off the bench. I can’t pass on an opportunity to take out some foot clan scum!”

“I’m sure you’ll get a chance for more action another day.” the ninja turtle raced over to his downed sensei who had just slipped out of consciousness. “I need you to get Master Splinter out of here, before it’s too late!”

“You got it...” Jones nodded as Leo hefted the rat onto Casey’s bike and secured them both to the seat with a belt. “I just wish I hadn’t missed out on all the fun!”

“There’s always next time!” Leo shouted as the Technodrome continued to fall apart around them. Casey revved his engine and floored it, zooming through a plume of smoke and swerving his motorcycle to avoid the fire and other obstacles in his way.

 Leo looked on and saw the Shredder standing amid the blinding light emitting from the fallen cannon. There would not be a next time for Casey to take on the foot clan. It was time for the final showdown with Shred-head. He would finish this right now, and put an end to his criminal ninja society, once and for all.

Chapter Text

Chapter 10:

A siren wailed as the warning message continued to flash across the few monitors that remained intact. Rising smoke from damaged computer systems, electrical fires from busted power grids, downed wires, cracked support columns and shattered glass were all drowned out by the blinding purple and black light that radiated from the crystal that powered up the damaged cannon on the floor. The surreal visage of Master Shredder loomed over the device at the center of the chamber, but the evil warlord stepped away from it as he spotted the four turtles closing in on him.  

The turtles had eradicated the Shredder's army of robots, reducing them to nothing but a mass of broken parts, busted computer chips and loose bolts scattered throughout the chamber's floor. Remaining members of the foot-clan fled from the chaos to save their own lives from certain doom. Oroku Saki was now defenseless. His mutants, henchmen and robots all defeated, but an arrogant grin still stretched from underneath his mask as the four turtles surrounded him. He clenched his hands into a fist, causing razor sharp metal claws to spring from his armored knuckles. He took up a fighting stance and readied himself for war.

"You better remove that crystal." Donatello tried to reason with the mad super villain as he spun his bo staff over his head in an elaborate pattern before snapping it to a stop. "It's only a matter of time before it explodes and eradicates our atoms from existence!"

"Come and get it yourself, coward!" Master Shredder laughed as he taunted the turtles, gesturing for them to challenge him.

 Donatello charged forward, attacking with his Bo staff as he spun it low at his arch-enemy' legs. Shredder jumped to avoid the sweep, but the turtle was lightning fast, following up with another swing aimed at the exposed neck underneath his helmet. The ninja turtle may have been quick, but Shredder was even more so, blocking the smack with one gauntlet and shattering the wooden staff with the sharp talons attached to his opposite hand. Donatello tried to thrust the remaining half of his weapon into the Shredder's masked face, but the leader of the Foot Clan swiped with his talons, gashing Donatello's yellow chest. The turtle collapsed to the floor and cried out for help as the Shredder raised his right hand, preparing to thrust his claws down into his prone throat.

"Donnie!" Michaelangelo shouted as he jumped onto Shredder's back and wrapped the chain links of his nunchaku around the villain's throat, squeezing the wooden grips with all his might. Oroku Saki had expected this technique and grabbed at the nunchaku before tossing Michaelangelo over this cloaked back. The dazed turtle landed on his shell and crashed through flaming debris as he spun away from the skirmish like a bowling ball.

"My turn!" Raphael shouted as he limped toward the Shredder, protecting his wounded arm. He had lost both sai and had taken quiet a beating, but he would not stand by as the Shredder harmed his brothers. He would fight till his last breath if he had to.

"No, you stay back!" Leonardo jumped in front of his injured brother. "Let me take him, you are in no condition to fight!"

"Get out of my way, Leo!" he defied his brother, pushing him away as he lumbered on with a fire in his eyes that matched the red color of his mask. 

"You are not even armed." Leonardo responded, but his angry brother would not let him get another word in. 

"I AM NOW!" Raphael swiped one of Leonardo's katana from its sheath and let out an angry war cry as he summoned all his remaining strength, storming the Shredder with his brother's sword held out before him.

Chapter Text

Chapter 11

The Shredder awaited the bickering turtles patiently, chuckling from underneath his mask as Leonardo gave chase to his brother, urgently trying to prevent his kamikaze mission. Oroku Saki readied his talon equipped gauntlets, awaiting the perfect opportunity to drive them straight into the weakened turtle’s chest before he even had a chance to come down on him with that sword.

 The red masked turtle leapt at his adversary, somersaulting through the smoke and dark crystal’s light as he slashed with his stolen katana in a long arcing motion. But before Shredder could proceed with his planned counterattack, Leo intercepted them both with his shell, shoving his brother out of harm’s way. The katana slipped from Raphael’s grasp and clanked to the floor as he landed on his side, slamming directly onto his injured left arm with all his bodyweight. Raphael could hear the cracking and of bone upon impact.

The mutant swore from the tremendous pain that assailed his body and in anger from his brother’s brazen actions. He could no longer move his arm, but would still get back into this fight, crawling back towards the dueling foes and in search of any weapon he could find on the floor.

“It’s over, Shredder.” Leonardo gritted his teeth as he slashed through the blinding light at his stunned rival, slicing through the armored plate protecting his chest but not deep enough to strike a fatal wound. “Surrender now or prepare to meet your death!”

Oroku Saki stumbled backward, tripping over a downed support column as he fell onto his backside. He touched his chest, watching in disbelief as his own blood trickled down the shiny metal of his gauntleted hand. A sliver of doubt crept into his mind for a moment until his free hand grazed across the hilt of the katana dropped by Raphael. Grinning, he retracted his talons and seized the sword from amongst the debris, rising to his feet with the blade’s edge directed at the turtle’s throat. 

“You cannot hope to defeat me!” The Shredder defied Leonardo, ripping the mask from his face and exposing the long scar that Splinter had given him when he was still human many years ago.

Sparks flew as the two swords clashed together. Leonardo started on the offensive, pushing the Shredder back while utilizing the many cutting techniques taught to him by his sensei. He had spent hundreds of hours training in the sewers and sparring with his brothers, preparing himself for this very moment, but the Shredder seemed to know what was coming every time his sword danced.

“YAHH!” Leonardo lunged forward to run the Shredder through with his sword before he tired out. Oroku Saki blocked the foolish attack and clenched his left fist, exposing the metal talons once again. They came down on Leonardo in a hurry. He got his sword up in time to prevent a fatal strike, but still took minor gash to his bicep. Shredder followed up with a boot to the mutant’s chest. 

“Damn it, Leo. Shred head is winning!” Raphael muttered in dismay as he watched the fight unfold from his position on the floor. He looked around for his two remaining brothers, but could not find them amongst the fire and smoke clouding the chamber. He wondered if they even lived while the Technodrome quivered beneath his prone body. If they were to die here and now, he would make sure that the Shredder did not live to celebrate his victory.  

Raphael grunted in pain as his good arm draped over the downed cannon. The barrel of the death ray was bent beyond repair, rendering the high-tech weapon inoperable, but the dark crystal still pulsated with tremendous energy. The cannon may not work any longer, but perhaps he could harness the crystal’s power some other way. He spotted the sai he had thrown earlier lying amongst the rubble alongside the cannon and suddenly came up with an idea. It could kill them all, but he had no other choice.

Leonardo got back on his feet and assaulted the Shredder yet again with a flurry of katana strikes. Oroku Saki grinned as he deflected each of the turtle’s futile swipes, before swinging the back of his gauntleted hand into his blue masked face. Leonardo collapsed to the floor in a heap, slowly pushing himself up onto one knee as he peered into the evil eyes of his arch nemesis. He raised his sword in one last act of desperation, but the Shredder battered it out of his hands, knocking the weapon several feet out of reach.

Chapter Text

Chapter 12:

Raphael turned his head away from the dark crystal’s light as he jammed his sai into the cannon’s power slot. He pushed down on his hand with all the strength that he could muster to pry the onyx stone free, but only budged slightly. The mutant grit his teeth, leaning onto the makeshift lever with all of his weight until the mysterious object finally popped loose. He leapt forward, seizing the onyx crystal before it could roll away from his grasp.

 Raph opened his eyes and fought through the brightness to catch a peak at the vivacious stone up close. A dark energy radiated into his hand, fueling him with strength and vigor. All his aches and pains vanished in an instant. Life even came back to his broken arm as his fractured bones healed, granting motion to his hand and fingers once again. Raphael welcomed the powerful effects of the crystal. His eyes glowed purple, matching the crystal’s light as the essence overwhelmed him. He surrendered himself to the amazing rock, but the healing power changed its course, now filling him with anger and hatred. 

    The violet haze within the stone spoke to him, clouding his mind with malevolence. Why should he help his brother after what he did to him just now? Maybe he should just let him die for interfering with his fight and breaking his arm. Leonardo always thought he was so honorable, but lacked the skill and guts that he possessed. He was always the better fighter of the two, but their sensei always seemed to favor Leonardo instead. But now, with this newfound power, he could take out the Shredder on his own. Splinter would finally give him the recognition he deserved, and he could take his rightful place as leader over his remaining brothers with his rigid brother out of the picture.

“What am I thinking?” Raphael shook these sinister thoughts from his mind. His eyes returned to normal as he saw Master Splinter’s rival preparing to bring his sword down on his brother’s neck. He took one last look at the onyx crystal, it blinked in his palm as conflicting thoughts battled within his mind. He turned away from the impious glow before launching the stone at his enemy. “I’m not going to miss this time.”

The pulsating crystal slammed into the Shredder’s sword, causing the blade to miss its mark. The edge scraped into the metal floor, inches away from cleaving a piece of Leonardo’s head. “

The Shredder glanced upward, his eyes following the effervescent crystal that had ricocheted off of his blade and bounced into one of the chamber’s walls. A tremendous flash followed by an explosion that ripped a large hole, not into the Technodrome’s structure, but into the very fabric of space and time. The crystal remained at the center of a growing portal, animated like a beating heart as the gateway into another dimension spread wider.

“No!” Shredder wailed, abandoning the turtle as he hurried over to the threshold. “My crystal!”

The supervillain peered into the anomaly and could see what appeared to be a spiral galaxy, with millions, if not billions of twinkling stars. Comets, asteroids, nebulas and other fantastic sights came into view. The awesome visage mesmerized his mind. Nothing else mattered for the moment. He inched closer to the portal for a closer view. Rising deep within the fissure was a round mass that looked like a planet... no maybe not a planet... it resembled the earth’s moon, only without its magnificent white light. This object did in fact glow, but with darkness.

Captivated by this awesome display, he had completely forgotten about the turtles. The wooden handle of a nunchuck rattled against his helmet and the splintered half of a bo staff thudded into his side, pushing him dangerously close to the opening. He turned around only to see three wounded turtles giving him all they had left. The blue masked mutant feinted with his sword, before driving the side of his foot into his midsection. Shredder teetered backward, but regained his footing right in front of the cosmic portal.

“BLAST OFF, SHRED HEAD!” the revitalized Raphael pushed past his brothers and stabbed with a recovered sai, shoving its sharp metal tip deep into his chest. The Shredder spit up blood and grunted at the stab wound to his chest. His back banged into the crystal, knocking it into the anomaly. The portal shut as the Shredder fell into space. Oroku Saki desperately reached out for Raphael, trying to pull him into this dimension with him, but the other turtles grabbed their sibling’s shell, keeping their reckless brother inside the damaged Technodrome with them. 

“I’LL.... GET.... YOU...... TURTLES!” Shredder stretched out with both arms, luckily snatching the onyx crystal. He cradled it against his bloody chest as he fell deeper and deeper into the portal. The ninja turtles watched in awe as the pulsating light dimmed away and the Shredder was no more. The portal collapsed in upon itself, disappearing as quickly as it had appeared.

“COWABUNGA!” They celebrated in unison, but their victory was short-lived.

“We gotta get out of here!” Donatello warned. “This Technodrome is becoming very unstable. I calculate that we have less than five minutes to make it out of here!”

“I’m starving!” Michelangelo’s stomach growled. “I hope we can find a pizza joint that’s still open for delivery when we get back.”

“Stop blabbering ladies and move!” Raphael mocked his brothers. He jetted through the smoke and towards the exit hallway without even looking back. 

“You heard him, let’s go!” Leonardo ordered as he gave chase, noting that something seemed just a little off with Raphael.

Chapter Text

Chapter 13

   Rei Hino swept up the stony grounds of the Hikawa shrine until she finally found a moment to slip away from her grandfather and his pesky apprentice Yuuichirou. She could still see them by the incense burner, bickering loudly over who knows what, granting her the perfect chance to slip away from both of them unnoticed. She dropped the broom and quietly pulled on the screen to the meditation room, letting herself in, before closing it discretely behind her to ensure that they did not see or hear her movement. A blazing fire lit up the room, casting her dancing shadow across the walls as she approached the ancient shrine on her bare feet.  

Rei sat on her heels before the fiery altar, her long black hair flowing so far down the back of her maiden uniform that it nearly touched the floor. The warmth of the flames caressed her skin as she closed her eyes and tried to forget everything happening in her hectic life. 

Preparing for her upcoming trip to New York City was both exciting and stressful. Between getting her traveling arrangements ready and her luggage packed, it was her responsibility to make sure that the day-to-day operations of the shrine would get taken care of in her lengthy absence. She had not had a moment of peace since she abruptly left Usagi and the others at the picnic and desperately needed to take a break. She felt guilty about ditching Usagi and scoffing at her idea of going to the amusement park. The truth was that she wished she could have stayed out and had a long night of fun with her friends. She hoped they forgave her for her brashness and not telling them about her plans sooner.

Unfortunately, she could not neglect her duties at the temple and needed to sort things out before she left town. Grandfather was getting up there in age and always got into mischief, especially when attractive young women visited the shrine. The old flirt needed constant supervision to keep him out of trouble. Even Yuuichirou was a bumbling fool who was prone to mishaps. It was one thing to live at a University that was only a couple of hours away by train, but New York City is on the opposite side of the planet. She could not return home so quickly should something go wrong. 

 Her friends would arrive soon for her farewell party, but she needed this time to herself to clear her mind of all her thoughts and insecurities. She had been away at the University for several months, but this was much different. Tomorrow evening she would fly thousands of miles away from her family and friends, leaving her completely isolated and alone from all those she loved. She always prided herself on being self-confident, independent and career driven, but a lingering uncertainty remained that she could not seem to get rid of. Was taking this internship the right thing to do? A trickle of doubt crept into her mind, but she had to let it go. This was her goal, her dream for many years, she could not give up on it now. Rei took a deep breath in through her nose and exhaled slowly as she relaxed into a meditative state. Maybe the flickering flames of the fire would provide her with insight as they had in the past.

“REI!” Yuuichirou screeched loudly. He tugged on the screen so hard that it nearly broke, immediately disrupting her meditation. The young man called her name repeatedly, tumbling into the room just as she had finally forgotten about her troubles.

“WHAT IS IT NOW?” Rei popped up to her feet in annoyance, resting her hands on her hips after she turned to face the unwanted intruder.

“AHH!” Yuuichirou cried out as he inadvertently collided with Rei. They fell to the floor together and landed dangerously close to the fiery flames. Yuuichirou plopped right on top of her. His dark blue eyes sparkled from the firelight underneath the bangs of his thick mane of shoulder-length brown hair. Rei blushed, both in anger and the fact that she found him incredibly handsome in that moment. A small part of her wanted to kiss him, but she was far too angry to get charmed by his good looks.

“GET OFF OF ME!” The fierce woman pushed him away and dusted herself off as she stood back up. Yuuichirou fell flat on his back from the violent shove, his hairy head smacked against the wooden floor so hard that he saw stars. “What were you and my grandfather arguing over? Is that what this is about?”

“Oh, that? No! Nothing! That was nothing! Nothing at all! Everything is fine!” Yuuichirou rubbed the back of his head as Rei offered a hand to help him up. He grabbed her hands into his and froze for a moment as he peered deep into her dark eyes. He clearly wanted to tell her something urgent but was hesitating to speak any further.

“Then what was so important that you had to come in here and disrupt my meditation?” Rei frowned, turning away from his gaze. “I’ve told you countless times not to interfere!”

“I know, I know.” Yuuichirou looked down at her bare feet. It seemed like he did not have the courage to say whatever was on his mind. “I am so sorry!” 

“Then what is it?” she did not have the time for this and was growing increasingly irritated with his presence. “Spit it out already!”

“PLEASE DON’T GO!” He shouted at the top of his lungs, pushing back the flickering flames with his wailing breath. He fell onto his knees and glanced upward at her, still holding her hands. 

“This again...” Rei could see the tears welling in his eyes. It was a pathetic sight to behold. She yanked her hands away and turned her back to her admirer, folding her arms in disgust. “We’ve had this conversation multiple times already!”

“I KNOW... BUT...LET ME COME WITH YOU!” he begged. “PLEASE!”

“NO!” she turned to face him, her resentment rising so high that she wanted to give him a smack right across the face. “NOBODY IS COMING WITH ME! This is something I need to do on my own for a few months! Why can’t you get that through your thick skull?”

“BECAUSE I CARE ABOUT YOU SO MUCH!” the lanky young man continued to pour his heart out. “I CAN NOT LIVE WITHOUT YOU ANY LONGER, MY REI!”

“I’ve explained how important this internship is to me! If you truly cared about me as much as you say you do, then you would support me in all of my endeavors. If you don’t want to stay here, that’s fine! I can ask my grandfather to take on another apprentice to replace you!”

“NO! DON’T DO THAT!” He cried out, bowing his head to the floor. The prospect of losing his job made his heart get caught in his throat. That would mark the end of their relationship, too. “I’ll stay and wait patiently for you to return! You have nothing to worry about!”

“Thank you.” she sighed in relief when her bluff worked. Part of her worried that taking this internship would finally make the eccentric priest give up on her. She would miss his constant companionship while overseas, but it was a necessary sacrifice for her lofty career aspirations. “Don’t worry, I will make time to call you every day, just as I did when I was at the University.”

 Rei offered her hand out to Yuuichirou one more time, flattered at his undying loyalty and devotion to her. If she was in his shoes, she would have broken up with herself long ago for her selfish and crude behavior. What was it about her that he found so special?

Yuuichirou mysteriously entered her life a couple of years ago. He was a drifter on a spiritual journey, wandering the streets of Tokyo when he had haphazardly fallen asleep on the grounds of her family’s shrine. She remembered that morning when she had found him passed out from exhaustion on the pavement, disheveled and smelly with barely any food in his stomach. She prodded him with her broomstick to wake him, begrudgingly offering the stranger some food and an opportunity to wash up.  

      The bizarre young man immediately regained his energy as he awoke and beheld her face for the first time. So taken aback was he by her beauty that it seemed to revitalize him. This odd behavior startled Rei. She quickly summoned her grandfather. Yuuichirou Kumada formally introduced himself to them as he pleaded the high-priest and shrine maiden to take him on as their apprentice. They politely refused, but he did not take no for an answer, stopping by the Shrine nearly every day for weeks on end until the old man finally relented and gave him the coveted job, much to her chagrin.

“Don’t worry, Rei.” the short and stout high priest assured her later that day when they spoke in private. “ I will make his training so strenuous and difficult that he will want to run far away from this place and never return!”

       Rei and Yuuichirou got to know each other little by little, and she gradually warmed up to his presence during his intense training period. Her grandfather had continued to push the poor guy to his limits, breaking him down physically, spiritually and mentally, but no matter how much the wiry elder challenged his student, Yuuichirou never gave up. 

       Until she found him late one night, barely conscious on the pavement outside the temple grounds, just like the first day they had met. Only this time there was blood splattered all over his white uniform. Welts and bruises covered every inch of his skin that she could see. Grandpa had battered the devoted trainee so severely that he could not get back onto his feet without her help. Rei was angry with her grandfather’s brutality, but suddenly felt very guilty for allowing the drifter’s poor treatment. She helped him to a warm spot by the fire in the meditation room and offered him hot tea as she removed his kimono and cleaned up his wounds with a towel. 

“I will depart by morning.” the trainee slumped his head in defeat, unwilling to look up at his beloved."It was an honor to train here under your tutelage, Rei Hino. Thank you for your hospitality and kindness."

“You can’t go. I won’t allow it!” Rei whispered into his ear, lifting his chin so their eyes could meet before planting a kiss on his cheek. The romantic gesture gave him renewed strength. Rei was proud to see the unlikely apprentice defy her sneaky grandfather and successfully complete the rest of his training soon thereafter with her help. 

She later learned that he came from a very wealthy family and had given up a rather large inheritance by becoming an apprentice at the temple. She never quiet understood what made him decide to do that. In fact, he had the type of life that she wished she had growing up: a loving family, a large house, no financial issues. Deep down she was a little envious of him and because of this jealously, she felt unworthy to be with a man with such a pure heart.

Yuuichirou proved his worth by putting himself in harm’s way to save her life from a monstrous youma on one fateful night. Luckily Sailor Moon arrived just in time to save them both from certain death. She would never forget his self-less and brave actions, but her feelings were constantly on a swing like a pendulum. 

Rei snapped back to reality as he took her hand. She helped him to his feet and their eyes met yet again. She finally smiled, blushing after remembering the time she kissed him in this exact spot, but the moment of happiness vanished when she came to a sudden realization.

“Wait a minute.” Rei paused. “Weren’t you supposed to pick up the food for the party? My guests will arrive shortly, and we are still not prepared!”

“OH? YES! I’m on my way now!” Yuuichirou broke free of her grasp as he hurried out of the mediation room. “Is there anything else I could do for you, Rei?”

“There is a red dress in my bedroom stained with orange juice.” Rei smacked her forehead with her palm in frustration."I doubt those splotches will come out, but can you see what you can do? Maybe take it to the cleaners in the morning."

“OF COURSE!” He lit up. “ANYTHING FOR YOU REI!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 14

   Usagi and Mamoru held hands while they walked down the tree-lined path leading to the Hikawa shrine. A full moon loomed overhead, guiding them to the holy site with its white glow. The farewell party wouldn’t start for another hour, but Usagi had insisted to that they get there a little early. She wanted to apologize to Rei for ruining her dress and not sounding too supportive when she first heard the news of her internship.

“Try one of my cookies.” Usagi let go of his hand and opened a container she retrieved from a bag slung around her shoulder, a smile widening on her upbeat face. “I made two batches, just in case one of them didn’t turn out so good!”

“I’m not hung...” But Usagi shoved a cookie into his mouth before Mamoru could even finish his sentence. He grimaced as he clamped his teeth down and tried to break the treat apart with his teeth. He winced in pain, grabbing at his cheek, but still gave her a thumbs up in approval.

“Try this one then.” Usagi saw right through his act and ripped what remained of the tough cookie out of his mouth and replaced it with a much softer one.  

“Usagi...” Mamoru’s face turned as green as the color of his jacket as he forced himself to swallow the second cookie. “Did you bake these long enough? It tastes raw!”

“LOOK OUT!” the oddball Yuuichirou came flying down the steps that led to the shrine’s gateway at blazing speed with his long legs. He leapt off midway, rocketing between the young couple in a flash. Usagi was more concerned with protecting her gift of under and over cooked cookies then helping save her boyfriend.

“What is his deal?” Mamoru said as he scrambled out of the shrubbery covered with thorns and loose twigs. Dirt and mud now smeared the back of his pants, but otherwise he was unharmed.

“Usagi!” Rei called out in the distance from atop the stone steps. She was still wearing her maiden uniform. “Is that you?”

“Rei!” the pigtailed girl was so excited she left her battered boyfriend behind and raced up the stone steps and through the middle of the shrine’s red tori gate.

“You are early for once.” Rei commented as her companion approached. Today was not the day she wanted Usagi to be punctual, especially after Yuuichirou’s unexpected interruption. “The party doesn’t start for nearly an hour. Is everything alright?”

“I know!” Usagi giggled awkwardly as she realized her friend was not too pleased with her early arrival. “I just wanted a chance to speak with you alone before the others came. Here I brought you some cookies I baked special just for you!” 

“Thank you!” Rei forced a smile as she gratefully accepted the container, but as expected the cookies did not look too edible. She hoped the other girls would eat a few to spare Usagi’s feelings.

“Congratulations on your internship.” Mamoru said as he abruptly he joined the conversation while continuing to flick away leaves and other foliage from his outer garments.

“I saw what happened to you!” Rei gasped. “Are you all right? I’m sorry about Yuuichirou. He can be such a fool, especially when he is late on his errands. I’ll scold him when he gets back for his recklessness!”

“No, it’s ok!” Mamoru held up his hand. “I’m fine, don’t worry about anything else. Just enjoy the party tonight.”

“He’s right!” Usagi jumped in enthusiasm. “We all want to give you a sendoff you’ll never forget!” 

“Come inside...” Rei gestured the couple to the spare room that Yuuichirou had set up for the party earlier in the day. “Mamoru, can you have a seat in here and wait for the others to arrive? Usagi, if you have care to chat, you can follow me to my room.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 15

   “Do you need any help?” Usagi waited patiently inside of Rei’s bedroom while she rummaged through her walk-in closet for something nice to wear to the party. Usagi noted the stark difference between their two bedrooms. Rei’s space was much more orderly. A more mature young woman clearly lived here. There were no girly posters on the walls and not a single knickknack or toy figure atop her desk. She did not even one have stuffed toy on her bed. In fact, the room looked too plain and boring to her. There were hardly any pictures displayed. She had to have at least one! Where were they? Her eyes scanned the room until she finally found a frame turned sideways in her bookcase. Usagi picked it up and beheld an old picture of the five girls together, taken on a night of fun at the crown arcade a few years ago. It reminded her of just how happy she was back then when they were all inseparable. She missed those days deeply. Not the scary fighting part of Sailor Team as much as the bonding they shared while vanquishing evil. Why had Rei forgotten all about this adorable picture? She dusted it off with the edge of her pink sleeves and propped the frame on top of the bookcase.

 Rei packed most of her favorite outfits in her suitcase and struggled to find anything she wanted to wear. She ran her fingers through countless dresses and other articles of clothing until she spotted a peculiar item on a hanger tucked all the way in the back of her closet. Rei grinned as she retrieved the hanger, overwhelmed with nostalgia at the sight of the ugly pink overalls she had loved to wear around the time that she had first met Usagi and the others. She knew her friends would all get a kick out of it, so she took off her maiden uniform and folded it up neatly before throwing the overalls on over a plain white t-shirt, just as she did when she was younger. She looked in the mirror and laughed at how ridiculous she looked. How did she wear these back in the day? 

“Look, Usagi!” Rei called out, a hint of excitement in her voice as she stepped out of the walk-in closet. 

“Oh, my gosh!” Usagi burst out laughing as she saw her friend striking a pose in her old outfit. Coincidentally, it was the same one she was wearing in the picture she had just propped up. “I remember those! How cute!”

“I can’t believe I still have these ugly overalls!” Rei remarked as she spun around by the mirror. 

“I think you should wear them to New York!” the cheerful girl chuckled. “You will definitely make an impression!”

“I don’t know about that!” Rei giggled. “This is a one night only comeback for these overalls and they are not for public viewing!”

“About New York...” Usagi’s tone became more serious. “Rei, I’m really sorry for acting so childish the other day. I know this has always been your dream and I... “

“No, I should be the one apologizing to you, Usagi.” Rei cut her friend off. “This has been a crazy year, and I have been so preoccupied with things since I’ve returned home. But that’s no excuse. I should not have waited until the last minute to tell you about my plans for the summer. I’m sorry for upsetting you and for not being able to stay out late and go to the amusement park with you. I know you put a lot of effort into planning the day.”

“It’s just...” Usagi continued to express herself. “I’m afraid of losing you! You are traveling so far away and I want us to always remain close friends forever.”

“Is that what your worried about? Don’t be so silly! After what we’ve been through together?” Rei put a reassuring hand on her friend’s shoulder and gave her a warm smile, but did not seem too overly concerned by the comments. Usagi always made such a big deal over nothing. Why was it so difficult for Yuuichirou and her best friend to accept her decision? ‘‘We will always be friends, no matter how far apart we are! Come on, let’s go. Everyone else should have arrived by now.’’

Chapter Text

Chapter 16

Usagi and Rei entered the party room and sure enough the entire gang was there awaiting them, including the cats Luna and Artemis. The girls greeted each other and exchanged pleasantries. Makoto, Ami and Minako had a laugh at Rei’s ridiculous outfit while Usagi gave out hugs.

“And then the pancake came down RIGHT on his face!” Minako could not maintain her composure, laughing out loud as she filled Mamoru in on more details from his girlfriend’s accident the other day. 

“I tried to get him to calm down.” the modest Ami spoke softly, still feeling a little guilty about all the chaos they had caused.

“And then he nearly decapitated her with his spatula!” Makoto chimed in.

“I saved her from that crazy cook, of course!” Minako smirked. “Usagi, how did you forget to tell Mamoru that part of the story?”

“I’m not sure.” Usagi chuckled nervously as she scratched the tightly wound buns on top of her head. Rei’s decision to go to New York and the threat it presented to the future of their friendships was the only thing on her mind the rest of that day. The thought of losing her friend for another few months had consumed her. “I was too embarrassed about it, I guess.” 

‘‘You, embarrassed?’’ Rei sneered. “That’s a first.”

   The frantic Yuuichirou interrupted the reunion a few minutes later, dressed up like a fancy butler with a white apron covering his sharp tuxedo. He wheeled in a cart filled with trays of catered food that they ordered for the party. Soups, salads, a steaming pot of tea and several cups rested on the top shelf. 

Why is he dressed like that? He looks as stupid as I do! Rei thought to herself. She gave the priest a funny look, but he did not speak a single word to her or any of their guests, so fixated was he on his work. 

They watched as the apprentice took the time to prepare everyone an articulately arranged dish, complete with several varieties of sushi, an array of dipping sauces, wasabi, ginger and rice. Each dish sported a decorative flower that the girls all admired. Rei received her dinner first. Yuuichirou bowed low as he placed it before her. Red rose petals surrounded the plate in a heart-shaped pattern. Rei blushed slightly as the other girls gave her a warming glance. Yuuichirou took time and effort to make this dinner really special for her. 

“Yuuichirou?” Rei called out after he finished serving the last visitor.

“YES, REI!” the butler’s eyes lit up when he spoke, secretly hoping that she would give him compliments for his diligence and possibly invite him to sit down alongside her and eat with them. 

“You forgot about the tea!” Rei grinned at the apprentice as she pointed at the steaming kettle. He was looking more handsome in that tuxedo as she got a closer look at it. Yuuichirou cleans up nicely, she thought. Perhaps she should have worn something nicer than these silly overalls. If only she had known he’d go through all this trouble for her."Can you pour a cup for each of our guests, please?" 

“OF COURSE!” He bowed low and hurried back over to the cart to grab the tea pot.

“So, tell us more about this internship.” Ami Mizuno spoke as she finished her meal and graciously accepted a cup of tea from Yuuichirou. The bizarre young man seemed frazzled by the very mention of Rei’s upcoming trip. The iron kettle swayed slightly in his shaky grip as he filled the next cup.

“My contact is a woman by the name of April O’Neil.” Rei answered. “April is a very successful news reporter and journalist! I’ve read many articles about her. She is quite fearless! She even fought against a dangerous clan of criminals. What a true inspiration and role model for young women like us! I look forward to learning all I can from her!”

“What amenities will they be providing you?” Mamoru asked.

“Channel 6 News has a headquarters in the heart of Times Square!” Rei got excited just talking about it. “They are even giving me a free hotel room nearby and I will receive payment and college credits for my work!”

“Wow, that is incredible!” Minako’s jaw dropped. “Times Square looks so much fun on TV! All the bright lights! The city that never sleeps! I wish I could be there on New Year’s Eve and share a kiss when the ball drops.”

“Who knows, maybe I will still be there in time to see that.” Rei watched Yuuichirou’s arm quiver as he poured the blonde girl her cup, spilling a bit of the boiling liquid onto the wooden floor as he moved on to the next guest.

 “I wish I could go to New York City.” Makoto sighed after she carefully accepted a cup of tea from the saddened butler. “I’ve always wanted to go watch a major league baseball game live in person!”

“Oh, that would be so much fun, I’d definitely go with you!” Minako smiled. “We could get front row tickets and try to meet a handsome American baseball player!”

“There would be so much to learn and see if I traveled there. I wouldn’t even know where to start!” Ami smiled as she thought about the unrealistic possibility. I could practice my English-speaking skills, visit museums and other historical sites." 

“Hey, maybe we can!” Usagi hopped onto her feet in enthusiasm, thrusting herself into the center of the conversation. “Rei, can’t we please come with you? We all have the free time for a couple of weeks. We can cheer you on and help you settle in so you don’t have to be all alone in a foreign country!”

“That would be amazing.” Rei peered up and noticed that Yuuichirou was standing at her side, staring at the pigtailed girl with his jaw dropped. His arms quivered as he poured blindly into a cup, spilling the remaining contents of the pot at the very mention of her friends accompanying her to New York City. Boiling tea dripped all over the floor. “But where would you stay? Hotels in New York are very expensive, and you may not find any vacancies!”

“Why, we can just stay with you in your free room and keep you company, of course!” Usagi beamed with delight. She danced around the room at the very prospect of a sleepover in New York. “We can catch up on all the time we spent apart during our busy first year of college.”

“Usako.” Mamoru tried to calm his girlfriend down a bit. “That’s a lot to ask of Rei. She will need her energy for the internship. Do not impose yourself on her. I’ve studied abroad and know how stressful it can be. It’s not all fun and games.”

“Oh, Mamo. Don’t worry! We used to have sleepovers all the time when we were younger!” she dismissed her boyfriend’s negativity and turned to face her stoic companion. “Rei, I PROMISE I won’t do anything to disrupt your internship. I won’t bother you one bit if you let us come! PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE!”

“Okay, but even if we stayed together.” the shrine maiden nodded reluctantly. “Getting an airplane ticket so last minute will be nearly impossible for you.”

“Actually.” Ami chimed in, snaring everyone’s attention despite her soft-spoken voice. “My mother often responds to emergency calls. She has connections with several airlines and can access last second tickets to the United States and Europe with her medical credentials all the time. I will call her first thing in the morning and see if she can help the four of us out. It won’t be for free, of course, but if you have saved up enough money…”

“You are amazing, Ami!” Usagi burst with joy. She had a feeling that her shy friend shared her same insecurities regarding the future of their friendships. Soon Ami would enter medical school and her schedule would likely be even more hectic than the other girls. If they were to drift apart and leading their own separate lives, then this trip to New York City together could be one last hoorah for the five of them. Usagi hoped that would not be the case. Perhaps she could make this trip so memorable that it will strengthen their bond to last forever and ever."

“If you can secure the airfare...” Rei started as she snagged a half-filled cup of tea from the jittery Yuuichirou. The lanky apprentice already looked deeply saddened and now thanks to Usagi and Ami she would need to spend all night defending her actions to him instead of getting the good night’s sleep she desperately needed. She was not excited at all about the prospect of the girls coming on the trip, but did not have the strength to be as upfront with Usagi about her feelings as she was with Yuuichirou earlier. “You are all more than welcome to stay with me.”

“Are you certain?” the concerned Ami asked. Part of her regretted speaking up. She deeply respected Rei’s aspirations and did not want to feel like she was intruding. “I will only get the plane tickets if you are truly okay with it.”

“Yes.” Rei hesitated as she eyed Yuuichirou. This was her chance to get out of Usagi’s outlandish plans, but she found herself speechless and unable to do so. Denying Usagi here would crush her fragile heart. There was no way they’d be able to plan a trip so quickly, even with Ami’s help. It was a gamble, but one she just had to take. 

“Yay! I can’t believe that I am going on a spontaneous trip to New York with my besties! Big Apple, here we come! This will be the greatest summer vacation ever! Let’s all celebrate with one of my cookies!” Usagi retrieved her container and handed the treats out. Rei accepted a burnt cookie, but her eyes were following Yuuichirou. The depressed butler’s head slumped forward as he slipped out of the room with no one else noticing. 

“Excuse me for a moment.” Rei spoke abruptly as she raced out of the party room. It was raining outside, and she could see flashes of lightning in the distance, followed by a boom of thunder. The apprentice had vanished into the dead of night without a trace.

          Rei ended the party when she returned. She provided her friends with the address of her hotel and told them to contact her when they landed if they miraculously got on a flight to New York. She tried to be as polite as possible, but was silently praying that Ami failed in securing the tickets. But that was the least of her concerns for the moment. She had to find Yuuichirou and console him before it was too late. 

“Good night everyone!” Rei said before abandoning her friends to look for the runway apprentice. First she checked his personal quarters, but he was not there. She ran back outdoors and into the rainy night, searching the dark grounds of the shrine, while calling out his name frantically. 

        “Yuuichirou!” Rei screamed as the rain worsened, saturating her pink overalls. Lightning flashed dangerously close by, followed by a deafening roar of thunder. It was getting too dangerous to look outside for him in these conditions. He could be anywhere. She retreated to the meditation room, hoping that he was inside, but unfortunately the apprentice was not there either. She added kindling to the fire and opened the screen door, hoping that he would see the blaze like a beacon and come back to her. Rei shivered on the wooden floor in her sopping wet clothes next to the fire, awaiting his return.  

Chapter Text

Chapter 17

“Are you sure about this trip?” Mamoru draped his green jacket over his girlfriend’s head to keep her dry from the torrential rain. The couple rushed away from the shrine amid the ominous cracks of lightning and rumbling thunder. 

“Yes, I’m sure!” Usagi shouted in delight. She cradled Luna into her arms, protecting her pet from the rain as they hurried over to the parked sports car.

“I don’t think it’s such a good idea.” Mamoru quickly opened the sedan’s passenger’s side door to let his girlfriend and her cat safely inside before scrambling around the hood of the car and into the driver’s seat. He put on his seatbelt and turned the keys to start up the engine while raindrops continued to patter against the windshield.

“Why not?” Usagi could tell by the tone of his voice that her plan had upset him.  

“I understand that you will miss your friend.” Mamoru turned on the headlights and activated the windshield wipers as he pulled away from the curb. “But this is not a vacation for Rei. It’s a business trip. She is trying to advance her career, and I am worried that you guys will interfere with her ambition.”

“I agree with Mamoru.” Luna the cat added from Usagi’s lap. “This idea of yours is a big mistake!”

 “I know Rei better than anyone. If she did not want us to join her, she would have said so immediately! She never holds back, especially with me!” Usagi countered. “It will only be for a couple of weeks at most! She will appreciate our company. Besides, none of this matters anyway unless Ami can get us the airfare.”

“And just how are you going to pay for your plane ticket?” Mamoru questioned as the car sped down the slick roads heading towards her residence. “I hope you’ve been saving up your allowance.”

“I could see what I have left in my piggy bank.” Usagi said, feeling incredibly dumb that she had not even thought about that important subject just yet. She was completely broke after buying the amusement park tickets, three of which did not even end up being used. “You know... my birthday is at the end of this month. I was hoping you could buy me a ticket for my gift!”

“That is going to cost a lot of money, Usagi.” Mamoru sighed, his grip tightening on the steering wheel. “I have not received a full-time job offer yet. There’s rent, student loans, and plenty of bills to pay.”

“I know, forget it.” Usagi frowned in disappointment. “Sorry. I know it’s way too much to ask of you. I will tell Ami in the morning that I cannot go.” 

“Just so you know, have been saving up a lot of money over the past year.” Mamoru felt a little guilty for crushing Usagi’s spirits and wanted to cheer her up. He hated seeing her sad and knew that if her friends went to New York City without her, it would leave Usagi completely devastated. “For something special to give you in the future.” 

“Really?” Usagi’s lit up with excitement. “Something I’ve been asking for?”

“Yes.” Mamoru nodded. He navigated through traffic until he pulled the car over directly in front of the Tsukino household. “I probably saved up enough for one ticket. I’ve put this money aside with you in mind. So, if you want to spend it for this vacation, then I will give it to you. It is entirely your decision to make.” 

He remembered back to the warm summer day nearly a year ago when they were walking in the shopping district and stumbled across a jewelry store having a sale. Usagi got so excited and begged him to go looking at engagement rings. She tried a few different options before falling in love with a white gold ring with a heart-shaped diamond. He could still see her blue eyes sparkling and the smile of pure happiness on her face as she stretched out her fingers. He went back into the shop the very next day and put down a small deposit on the ring she picked and has been setting aside money little by little to pay off the large balance remaining. If she was to take that money and use it for a trip with her friends, what did it say about their relationship. Did she still truly love him? Maybe her friends meant more to her than he does. As much as he did not want Usagi to go away, he felt obligated to help her, but he did not know how he would react if she took him up on his offer.

“Thank you so much, Mamoru.” She leaned over to give him a kiss goodnight. She had a lot to think over. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 18: 

 Ami paused in the station for a moment. She watched the bullet train zoom down its tracks until the glimmering taillights vanished from view into the dark tunnel. What trouble had she caused by opening up her big mouth? Now that the farewell party was over, she realized how foolish she was for even mentioning the possibility of acquiring traveling arrangements to New York City.

 It would be an incredibly selfish act to intrude on Rei’s lofty academic ambitions. This was a critical time where they forged their future paths. Accompanying Rei to New York could prove detrimental to Rei’s career advancement, and that was the last thing she wanted to happen. Of course she would stay out of her way and give Rei the space she needed, but what about Usagi?

She hated confrontations and knew how upset Usagi, Minako and Makoto would be, but she would have to call them first thing in the morning and explain why they cannot go on this trip. Telling them the truth was the only recourse.

Ami headed up the stairs and out of the terminal into a torrential downpour, shielding herself with an umbrella that she had taken knowing rain was in the forecast for tonight. Her feet splashed in a puddle as she raced across an intersection en route to her mother’s tiny apartment. 

 The dwelling was pitch dark when she finally arrived, but not because anyone inside was asleep. Ami flicked on a light switch to illuminate the silent dwelling and noticed the message her mother had left earlier this week on the refrigerator. 

Her busy mom departed for an emergency operation in Germany the night before she had returned from the University. They had just missed seeing each other, filling Ami with immense disappointment. Other than her four best friends, her mother was the only family she had, yet they hardly had the time to even speak because of the doctor’s insanely hectic schedule and her strict academic life.

Is this what the future had in store for her when she graduated and became a full-time resident? Her lifelong dream ever since she was a little girl was to become a doctor, just like her amazing mom. She was close to achieving her goal at long last, but would have to make a lot of sacrifices. If her mother barely had time to spend with her own daughter, how would she be able to maintain four friendships? What if she wanted to start a family of her own someday? How could she balance everything with her career demanding nearly every second of her attention? Maybe this wasn’t the right path for her after all.

“No...” she thought to herself, shaking away her doubts and insecurities. She had spent countless hours reading, studying, attending cram school and taking practice exams to get her to this point. There was no turning back now. 

This realization filled her with grief. She owed a lot of her success in life to Usagi for befriending her in school all those years ago. Even though she was still shy, Usagi had helped her come out of her shell. Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine she would awaken as a Sailor Guardian and battle evil forces as Sailor Mercury! Life wouldn’t be the same without Usagi’s presence. What could she ever do to repay her?  

      Ami approached the refrigerator and removed the note. At the bottom of the brief message was the Latin phrase “Carpe diem.” Maybe she should take her mother’s advice and seize the day without worrying about the future. It should be daytime in Germany right now and she should be awake. Ami took out her cellphone and scrolled through her contacts. If Usagi wanted to go to New York, she would try her best to make it happen.

Chapter Text

Chapter 19:

Oroku Saki cursed the turtles as he kicked his arms and legs back and forth in zero gravity, struggling to push his armored body towards the disappearing vortex before it was too late for him to escape. Blood gushed out of the stab wound in his chest, but he could still make out the visage of Hamato Yoshi’s students celebrating his demise as the chasm collapsed in upon itself, trapping him in this strange galactic dimension. Splinter was likely dead, but he had let another opportunity to conquer earth slip away thanks to the four turtles.

“I will find a way out of here and have my revenge on those turtles!” Master Shredder promised himself as he ripped the sai out of his dented armor and floated into the abyss surrounded by millions of twinkling stars. He still gripped the mysterious crystal tightly within the palm of his gauntlet as it continued to glow and radiate a strange and powerful energy into his body, healing his near fatal wound until it disappeared completely. That is when he realized that he was not drifting away aimlessly. The crystal was pulling on his arm, guiding him downward as if some all-knowing entity controlled it. He flipped his body over to see where he was heading and beheld the dark moon that had distracted him during the battle when the portal first appeared.      

A towering gray mountain came into view, and the precious stone in his hand seemed to take him straight towards it. Left with no choice, he surrendered to the onyx crystal’s will and allowed it to guide his floating body. Shredder observed the devastated surface of this strange moon, pounded away by the impact of many craters. More details came into view the closer he drifted to the ground. There were signs everywhere that intelligent life once inhabited this now desolate wasteland. Moon dust caked the collapsed structures and rubble ridden streets, yet they remained distinguishable across the rocky landscape.  

These surrounding craters did not form naturally by any asteroid or comet, in his opinion. They looked more akin to the aftermath of a nuclear blast or a similar type of powerful weapon, used intentionally to level everything in its wake. Shredder marveled at the power of these ancient weapons. If only he could get a grasp on this technology, the turtles would not stand a chance against him.  

         He landed softly on his feet at the base of a border wall that surrounded the remnants of what must have once been a major city with millions of inhabitants. The towering gray mountain was directly before him, and although the pulsating crystal was no longer controlling his movement, he could somehow tell that it wanted him to go in that direction. 

      Shredder walked through the eerily quiet streets of the devastated city as he headed towards the ominous mountain. Nothing lived within these walls. There were no birds flying in the air or critters scurrying on the ground. All that remained was death. Then he saw the remains of those who once lived here. Vicious monsters appeared, permanently trapped in stone like eternal statues. Most of the unfortunate souls were looking up towards the sky, their hideous expressions locked with the pure terror and anguish of their last moments of life before they met their fates.  

Oroku Saki marched on, not at all perturbed by the carnage surrounding him. He could now see that what he had initially thought was a mountain was not in any way a natural formation, but the ruins of an enormous palace. He climbed around the collapsed spires, columns, gigantic chunks of stone and other building materials until he made it to a lengthy staircase that took him into a broken gateway leading to the castle’s main hall. 

The onyx crystal illuminated the interior of the grand palace. He stepped onto a checkered marble floor that had astonishingly remained undamaged from the war, making his way to the center of the black and white chamber where he spotted an elaborate altar. Runes in an unknown language adorned the tomb-like structure which shimmered to life as he approached it. The appearance of the radiating crystal activated the magical runes, unlocking the altar. Shredder pushed away the top slab of stone, revealing the skeletal remains of a hideous woman inside of the sarcophagus. Her once elegant dress lay faded atop her yellowed bones, its cloth withered by time. The dead woman’s decayed hands held the shaft of a broken silver staff that was missing its headpiece.

The crystal pulsated so brightly that he needed to shield his eyes from it with his free hand. This is where it had wanted him to go. Was that staff the powerful weapon that had caused this calamity? If so, maybe he could harness it to escape this fallen metropolis. He thrust the crystal into the socket on top of the rotting woman’s staff. The vibrant inscriptions on the sarcophagus exploded, breaking apart the tomb. Ground beneath his boots quivered and shook before he could pry the staff away from the corpse’s lifeless grasp. 

The reunited device floated several feet above the woman’s remains as the tremors increased. Shredder fell onto his back, unable to maintain his footing as large pieces of marble and debris rained down from the damaged ceiling, cracking the well-preserved checkered floor. He knew he could not make it out of here alive, even if he ran away like a coward. Instead, he watched in awe as the hovering staff fired a ferocious laser beam into the unstable ceiling of the once magnificent palace, blasting a hole so wide that he could see the twinkling stars of outer space once again.  

The staff’s crystal fired its laser through the gaping ceiling and into the endless vastness of space until a swirling red cloud emerged, swelling from the crystal’s power. Shredder could have sworn that he spotted a devilish face within the demonic smoke as it descended from the heavens and onto the altar where enveloped the frail corpse. The lifeless husk levitated out of the broken sarcophagus, consumed by the cloud’s frightening magic. Her once decayed flesh softened throughout her body, regaining its vibrancy from her face all the way down her torso, spreading to her arms and long legs. Her fingernails grew back, painted a ruby red to match the long locks of wild hair sprouting from the woman’s head.

        The transforming energy even revitalized her elegant dress, it’s once faded color restored to a dark purple. The tatters, rips and stains of her garments all but disappeared while the gold and silver jewelry that adorned her body sparkled in the crystal’s glow with renewed luster. A tiara rested atop her head with a similar dark stone that glimmered to life as a reanimated arm slowly reached outward until its fingers seized hold of the long silver staff. A flare of purple light reverberated through the palace, shaking the supporting columns of the citadel until her eyes finally opened wide, fueled by the energy of the onyx crystal.

    “I am Queen Beryl. Ruler of the Dark Kingdom.” Awesome power of the shard surged throughout her entire body, bringing a sadistic smile to her beautiful face. She landed on the marble tile, admiring the ominous cloud of red smoke swirling over the palace before gazing upon the intruder. “Who might you be?”

Chapter Text

Chapter 20:

“My name is Oroku Saki. Leader of the notorious foot-clan. Master of the art of ninjitsu.” This mystifying witch did not intimidate the warrior. His eyes locked onto her from underneath his helmet, ready to fight if need be. “But you may refer to me as Master Shredder.”

“How did such a strong and handsome man from the planet earth like yourself discover my lost onyx crystal?” the lady spoke seductively, but her words did not charm him. Deceiving this fool may prove difficult.

“Why does it matter to you?” Shredder defied the Queen. She may appear beautiful now, but he knew what she truly was: a rotten and withered corpse brought back to life by the foul magic of the crystal and that red silhouette hovering over the derelict castle. Shredder was unwilling to tell her about Krang and dimension X. He clenched his fists, exposing the three-pronged claws attached to his gauntlets. One quick slash across her exposed throat would send her right back to eternal rest. “That lump of radioactive rock is mine by right. Give it back to me now or prepare to face the consequences, woman!”

“This magnificent gemstone belonged to me, thousands of years ago.” the Queen let out a brief chuckle, ignoring Shredder’s threat. “I kept it hidden in a faraway dimension where no mere mortal could obtain it, just in case they defeated me during my attack on the Silver Millenium.”

“I have never heard of such a place!” Shredder’s purple cape fluttered behind him as he approached the beautiful sorceress with disdain. 

“There was a great celestial war many years ago, as you can see. My forces overwhelmed the primitive lands on earth, forcing them to surrender and submit to my will. That is when I first met Prince Endymion. I offered him a chance to save his planet if he would bend the knee and become my Heavenly King. But he dared to reject my generous offer of mercy!” Anger and resentment crossed her face at the very mention of the Prince’s name. “ Soon I came to learn that Endymion and the Princess of the moon were secretly in love with one another. His heart belonged to her and I could not persuade him to relinquish it, no matter the cost! Fueled by my jealously, and the power of Supreme Evil Queen Metalia, I turned my full attention to the princess’s Silver Millenium and eradicated it from existence!”

 “Things did not work out so well for you after the war ended, it seems.” Shredder mocked in his deep voice, gesturing at the rubble within the devastated palace and the ruins outside. The fallen buildings, monstrous statues, gaping wide craters were all that remained from the ancient civilization. Beryl brushed past him, walking towards the exit of her palace to survey the remnants of her crushed kingdom from the castle’s elevated vantage point.

“I slew the arrogant prince and his pathetic Moon Princess along with her guardians, the Sailor Senshi!” Beryl relived the glorious memories of her ancient triumph, but then her expression quickly soured as she recalled her bitter defeat. “Queen Serenity of the Moon Kingdom survived the battle and escaped my wrath. Harnessing the power of her illusionary silver crystal, the vengeful mother sacrificed her own life in order to defeat me and my wonderful kingdom, sealing me away in that enchanted tomb for thousands of years, banishing my palace into this strange dimension. A lot of time has passed since then. Both of our ancient empires completely erased from history, reduced to nothing but myth and legend, while your planet earth slowly rebuilt itself into what it is today.”

“Your foolish love for that prince was your downfall.” Shredder remarked. 

“I have had centuries to reflect on my past mistakes.” the Queen glanced upward at the red mist over the palace. “But by bringing the Onyx Crystal back to its rightful place, you have awakened the Supreme Evil Queen Metalia. Her enchantment has given me the gift of life and rebirth so I can fulfill my destiny and annihilate the earth along with the rest of the solar system. I’ve waited patiently for thousands of years for this opportunity of redemption to arise!”

“Your fairy tale and that pathetic smog do not impress me.” Oroku Saki spat at the ominous entity. His patience was wearing thin. The more the chatty queen spoke of the ancient past, the more he wanted to take the staff and its crystal away from her by force.

Chapter Text

Chapter 21

“Queen Metalia and I are in your debt, there is no need to shed any violence here.” Beryl sensed the ninja master’s angst and smiled at him with her full red lips, lowering his metal claws back down to his sides with her soft fingertips. “You are free to return to your realm if you so wish. I shall provide you safe passage.”

Beryl waved the silver staff, summoning a portal just outside of her decrepit palace. The fantastic anomaly started as a small blur of purple and black energy, but it stretched wider and wider until a round grey shape came into view.

“My Technodrome!” Shredder shouted in dismay once the dilapidated sphere became distinguishable. Plumes of smoke rose from the eyeball atop the metallic structure. Then he spotted four green figures scurrying away from his inflamed base that threatened to implode upon itself at any moment. Shredder immediately descended the castle’s steps, heading towards the magical threshold, his thirst for revenge so great that he forgot all about the witch and her powerful staff at the very sight of his mutated adversaries. “Those reptile freaks are getting away!”

“Before you go...” Beryl teleported directly in front of the armored warlord, blocking his path. Shredder’s eyebrows scrunched inward with annoyance from underneath his mask. “Allow me to propose an alliance. I promise to reward you for your efforts if you decide to stay here and help me.”

“How so?” The Shredder asked, suddenly intrigued as he watched the four green dots disappear from within the flickering portal. His blood boiled with rage at the distant sight of his enemies, but it was too late to catch them now. The Technodrome was in shambles, all of his robots and foot soldiers broken or defeated. He would have to come up with an alternative plan, something the pesky turtles would not expect. That alien brain Krang and his army of rock soldiers from dimension X have failed him time and time again, proving to be useless allies. Maybe he could take advantage of this mad woman and use that dust cloud’s strange abilities to his benefit.

“The Supreme Evil, Queen Metalia is currently in a weakened state and requires the essence of human energy to regain power.” the sorceress pointed the staff at the ominous entity looming overhead. “Become my champion, Oroku Saki. Act as my envoy on the planet earth until Metalia is strong enough to return. It will be your mission to gather up as much energy as you can from the pathetic earthlings. I will nurture Metalia until the time is right to strike!”  

“That polluted fog has shown me nothing but petty tricks!” Shredder grunted. “I need to see more of what you and this Metalia is capable of, if I am to do your bidding.”

“Very well.” Beryl raised her staff over her head and fired a laser through the open portal. The fantastic beam wrapped itself around the Technodrome like a fiery chain of blinding light, seizing hold of the gigantic sphere. The Queen moaned from exertion as she tugged on the staff, struggling to draw the smoking structure towards the shimmering portal. Oroku Saki retracted his claws and grabbed a portion of the staff’s handle to assist her efforts. She smiled seductively as her long red nails scratched against his metal gauntlets. They pulled on the staff with their combined might, sending the Foot Clan’s unstable base flying through the threshold, rocketing across the black sky like a shooting star until it crash landed on a crater just outside of the palace. Beryl stepped away from the ninja master, giving him a wink before she fired another blast at the Technodrome. 

“What are you doing?” Shredder shouted in anger. Beryl’s wild red hair soared behind her head while she poured the crystal’s energy into the damaged structure. The beam exploded into the sphere with an incredible flash of energy. She collapsed to her knees, gasping for breath. The flawless gemstone no longer glimmered, having used up all its reserves. Beryl used the silver staff as a crutch to push herself back onto her feet and pointed at the Shredder’s base with one of her long fingernails.

 To his astonishment, the onyx crystal had completely rebuilt the Technodrome. Fires were extinguished and smoke no longer leaked out of intimidating eye on the top of the massive structure. The eerie pupil moved about, curiously scanning its new environment on this alien planet.  Advanced weaponry and cannons were back to their pristine working condition, and even the exterior showed no signs of damage.

“I have fully restored your base to its original glory thanks to my precious crystal’s magic. You and the foot-clan are now the esteemed guests of the Dark Kingdom. Here you will remain safe and kept hidden from your enemies as you collect human energy for the Supreme Evil, Queen Metalia!” Beryl reached out to the intimidating man and removed the metal mask that covered his rugged countenance. The ninja stared into her with a dour expression as she beheld the vicious scar that marked his weathered face. “What do you say, Oroku Saki? Will you become my Heavenly King?”

Chapter Text

Chapter 22:

“I will take your generous offer under careful consideration. For now, I must see what remains of the Foot-Clan and ensure that this refortification is no mere ruse or illusion on your part.” Shredder stormed past the Queen of the Dark Kingdom, marching over piles of rubble and debris to make his way back to the Technodrome. “I will have my head scientist Baxter Stockman design and manufacture weapons to aid in your request. I am confident that he can invent modern weaponry capable of draining energy from the filthy dregs of New York City, if he still lives, that is.”

“That is an excellent idea!” the lady Beryl commented with enthusiasm, but his slight hesitation did not please her. She needed to make certain that Shredder trusted her and would fully cooperate as her pawn. “Queen Metalia will be an unstoppable force once you have succeeded. I assure you that those repulsive green creatures and that nasty vermin will be no match for the Supreme Evil. You will finally have retribution for what they’ve done to you.”

“How do you know of my enemies?” the puzzled Shredder came to a halt as the Technodrome activated in anticipation of his re-entry. A metallic ramp descended from the spherical base and touched down onto the rocky terrain.

“The onyx crystal revealed many things when it brought me back to life. Vivid visions of both the past and present.” Queen Beryl glanced at the rumbling cloud lingering above her palace. “I know all about your past, Master Shredder. We have much in common. Our fateful meeting is no mere coincidence. It is destiny.”

“I am nothing like you, ancient witch!” Shredder’s boots thudded against the steel ramp as he stomped up the incline. “Now get out of my way, I am done talking!”

“Tang Shen was a lovely woman.” Queen Beryl blurted just before the warrior reached the gateway. It’s such a tragedy that she perished in that fire all those years ago."

“Never mention that name again.” the angered ninja stopped in his tracks, turning to face the sorceress. He exposed a set of sharp claws and gave her a warning glance. 

“Her striking beauty infatuated you, but unfortunately her heart belonged to another. Hamato Yoshi, your top rival at the secret ninjitsu dojo you both trained in. You watched in bitter shame for years as they fell in love, got married and brought forth a beautiful daughter into this world. Your abhorrence and disdain for your rival led to the formulation of a plan to assassinate Yoshi while heroically saving your desired love and her newborn.” Lady Beryl continued, ignoring the Shredder’s vicious threat. “Rebel ninjas who also hated Hamato Yoshi followed your orders and set fire to his residence. You charged into the apartment as wild flames engulfed the building, but Yoshi was ready as if expecting you. Sparks flew as your swords clashed, locked in a deadly combat over the woman you both loved. Yoshi’s blade slashed across your cheek, narrowly missing a killing blow. He could have finished you off, but he abandoned the duel to save his wife. Shen remained trapped in her bedroom, unable to escape with their beautiful daughter. By the time he got to them, it was too late.”

“Hamato Yoshi will pay for all he’s done to torment me!” Shredder ripped off his mask to graze his gauntleted fingers along the scar that remained from that fateful night. The mark’s permanent presence was a constant reminder of his failure to slay his enemy and claim the woman that he coveted. “It was his fault that Tang Shen perished in those flames!”

“It is so terrible that neither of us could win over the hearts of those that we loved. Your Tang Shen… my Prince Endymion... both dead because of our own hatred and jealousy.” the lady cupped his exposed face into her hands and peered deeply into his hateful eyes."I know your pain Oroku Saki, more so then anyone else in your world could understand!"

Chapter Text

Chapter 23:

“Then you understand why I am chasing a rat and four turtles?” Shredder broke away from the woman’s grip, stepping through the gateway and into the long narrow hallway leading to the central chamber of his restored headquarters. Beryl gave chase and entered the futuristic base before the metallic doors clamped shut behind her.

“Yes, I also know the truth behind those mutated abominations you are after.” Beryl’s heels clicked onto the metal grating as she pursued the impatient warrior down the passageway lined with blinking lights and other electronic gadgets. Masked Foot-Soldiers in matching uniforms stood at attention, frozen in stillness as their master made his way onward, paying no mind to the stunning lady who chased after him in her revealing dress. “After Shen’s tragic death you left Japan and settled in New York City where you formed the foot-clan, turning it into one of the most feared criminal organizations the world has ever known.”

“I have.” Shredder acknowledged his proud accomplishments, but did not stop marching. 

“Hamato Yoshi ventured to New York to stop you but was so overcome with grief; reduced to living in the sewers amongst rodents where he nearly starved to death; until he came into contact with a cracked canister of mutagen that had spilled into the sewers, transforming him into an anthropomorphic rat. That is when he found four baby turtles covered in a slimy ooze. He gathered them into a can and took them deep into the sewers, where he watched in astonishment as they grew larger and more intelligent. After a year they gained the ability to walk upright and even speak just as a human child would! That is when he passed on his knowledge of ninjitsu to them, training his students beneath the city for over fifteen years until his four adoptive sons were ready to take down you and your crime syndicate. They have been a thorn in your side ever since their appearance. You will never find peace until we eliminate them!”

“Hmmph.” Shredder made his way into the central chamber where hundreds of his foot-soldiers lined up along the perimeter’s balcony awaiting their master. Ninjas stood at attention armed to the teeth with swords, throwing stars, guns and other assorted weaponry. The monitors and computer systems were fully operational once again awaiting his commands. Queen Beryl’s magic proved quite impressive. They were ready for war.

“I also seek revenge for the past.” Beryl flirtatiously wrapped an arm around one of his gauntlets, leaning against his armored shoulder. “The onyx crystal has shown me that in her final moments, Queen Serenity used the last of her power to save the souls of her daughter the Moon Princess, her guardians the Sailor Senshi and even my lost love prince Endymion, reincarnating them into the modern world. They will no doubt try to thwart our efforts.”

“So what?” Shredder nudged the woman off as he continued to examine the restored control room. An ancient order of celestial guardians did not phase him. “Why should I care?”

“Can’t you see how our destines are linked?” Beryl argued. “It is no mere coincidence that we shared the same fate until this meeting point. But with our combined efforts, we can finally get the revenge we so desire and bring this planet to its heels. You may never come to love me, but I will accept that if you help me exact my vengeance. The Supreme Evil will engulf this earth if you are successful. Together we can rule over the devastation as equals once we have defeated once all of our enemies!” 

“Welcome back, boss!” The mutated rhinoceros Rocksteady thundered into the central chamber alongside his cohort, Bebop.

“Hey!” the massive warthog muttered asked as he noticed the strange woman caressing their leader. “Who’s the chick?”

“This is lady Beryl, Queen of the Dark Kingdom! Show her some respect!” Shredder announced loudly so that the mutants and all of his men could hear him. “For I am to be her Heavenly King!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 24:

      A chilly wind blew into the Hikawa temple’s meditation room, threatening to extinguish the dancing flames of the fiery altar. The shrine maiden shivered in her sopping overalls, her forehead burning with fever. She twisted and turned on the wooden floor, stuck in a miserable slumber that she could not awaken from. 

  Rei felt trapped in a terrible nightmare. Vivid images of a bleak future event flashed across her mind and she could not escape it. She found herself transformed into Sailor Mars, clad in a red skirt and matching heels in the middle of a crowded New York City plaza. An ominous cloud rolled in over the horizon, consuming the tall skyscrapers that surrounded her with smoke and booming thunder. A murder of Crows squawked loudly at the oncoming storm from their perch on top of telephone wires. They flew off when the sky darkened, flapping their wings in haste as the cloud drew closer.   

      Citizens darted out of their vehicles, fleeing on foot from an unseen foe. Pedestrians scrambled in a mad panic from the encroaching cloud and the towering figure accompanying it on the ground. A Youma or demon unlike any she had ever encountered before stomped over a sea of yellow cabs with its armored boots, filling the city with the sounds of crunched metal and terrifying screams. It swung a massive black sword, cleaving through whatever blocked his path in search of human flesh. Concrete and glass rained onto the pavement as the deadly cloud consumed the city overhead, flashing red bolts of lightning over Manhattan. The direct strikes transformed the frightened public into grotesque abominations, adding zombie-like soldiers to its growing army.

    The mythical figure stood at least fifty feet tall, covered from head to toe in titanium armor baring sharp spikes. A fierce helmet shadowed its face with a pit of darkness. Police fired their pistols at this giant, but bullets ricocheted away harmlessly. Even the brave officers gave up and ran from the horror alongside the rest of the scared New Yorkers. An endless army of undead followed in the warrior’s wake, devouring all those unfortunate souls who could not get away in time. 

“This is just a bad dream.” Rei muttered, hoping it would snap her back to reality. A sickening groan took her attention skyward, where she beheld a devilish face within the crimson cloud glaring down at her. The creepy countenance reminded her of a defeated enemy from the past. One she did not expect to fight ever again. It was not even possible! Sailor Moon had sealed her away for good! But regardless, Mars could not just stand there and watch Queen Metalia or whatever this entity was destroy the beloved American city. Sailor Mars pushed against the traffic of fleeing citizenry until she spotted another familiar figure squaring up against the armored demon. The female charged forth with her magical wand, ready to meet the black blade all by herself.

“Sailor Moon!” Mars shouted in horror. Her best friend faced this ferocious beast alone. Where were the other sailor guardians? She raced to her companion’s aid, but it was too late. The pigtailed senshi met the monster’s sword with a mighty swing, but her pink wand was no match for the demon’s steel. The armored brute shattered the moon stick before running his blade through the belly of the Moon Princess. Blood saturated Sailor Moon’s white gloves and sailor suit as she collapsed to the street. Life quickly slipped away with no one present to comfort her in her last moments. 

“NO!” Mars cried out in anguish. Sailor Moon could not die like this. The guardian lit up the streets in a blaze of fire, carving a path through the scores of undead, but she was not strong enough to reach Sailor Moon in time. 

    Zombies snarled and hissed, tearing at her sailor suit and clawing at exposed flesh, but it was an evil laugh that froze Mars in her tracks. Queen Beryl thundered into Manhattan, descending from the clouds and onto the cracked pavement. Her sadistic smile spread wide, marveling at all the destruction wrought by the Supreme Evil and her minions. Tears dripped from Rei’s eyes as she turned to face the vile witch. She pressed her fingertips together and pointed at the sorceress, summoning a swirling fireball at her adversary, but the Queen was ready for her, easily absorbing the attack with her silver staff. The weapon spun around in a blur, striking Mars in the back of her head before she could react.

“My time has finally come, sailor senshi!” Beryl cackled in victory, standing tall over the fallen guardian. “The earth is mine!”

Mars could only watch in horror as the witch waved her staff and unleashed an orb of dark energy upon her. The senshi screeched in agonizing pain upon impact. Her fingers and toes melted away one by one from the evil force, slowly erasing her entire body from existence. Mars could faintly hear Beryl laughing until her voice faded away and everything went black.  

END OF ACT 1

 

Chapter Text

SAILOR MOON X TMNT: TURTLES AND THE HARE

ACT 2: FIGHTS & FLIGHTS

Chapter 25:

“Yuu...ichi...rou?” the bewildered Rei muttered incoherently after sensing that there was a male figure hovering over her. She found herself back in her room, lying on her own bed and tightly tucked in under the covers. How did that happen? Did her boyfriend find her in the mediation room and carry her back here late last night? What a sweet gesture of him, if that was true. She was hoping against hope that Yuuichirou had returned so she could speak with him about last night. Unfortunately, it was her bald and wrinkly grandfather who stood over her pillow and not the young man she truly wanted to see.

“Oi! You must be really sick!” the wiry old man grinned. He felt the top of her warm forehead with the back of his wrinkly hand and quickly pulled it back, shaking out his fingers as if he had just burned them. “To get me confused with that ugly, shaggy headed nincompoop? I guess you can’t go to New York! ”

“Where is he?” Rei snapped, not in the mood for her grandfather’s jests. Her nightmare deeply troubled her, but she could not worry about it now. It was just a dream, after all. Sailor Moon and the rest of their team defeated Queen Beryl and Metalia a few years ago. There was no way that vile witch could ever return. But the realism of the nightmare was unsettling. Was this vision a dire warning similar to those she had experienced in the past? No, it couldn’t be. The Sailor Team had vanquished all of their enemies. Her days fighting demons and monsters as Sailor Mars have been over for quite some time after the defeat of Galaxia.

Her plane would depart in only a few more hours and with so much left unresolved, Rei could not contain herself. She had to find Yuuichirou before it was too late to make amends. She swung her legs out from under her blankets and tried to stand up, but found that she was too weak to do so. Muscles throughout her body ached in soreness. Her nose dripped, her throat burned, and her forehead pounded.

“I saw him leaving the temple at dawn with a big duffle bag.” Grandpa shrugged. He cracked open an amber bottle and poured its foul-smelling contents down Rei’s throat before she could object. “The boy said he had an important errand to run early this morning.”

“Are you certain he’s coming back?” Rei nearly gagged from the awful medicine. She lay her dizzy head back down on her pillow and curled up in a blanket. “I am worried that he has left us.”

“Bah! Who cares about him?” the stout old man let out a grunt. “If he doesn’t return, then I say good riddance to that lazy bum!”

“You can’t run the shrine by yourself while I am gone.” Rei coughed, her throat aching with each syllable. “You are too old!”

“And you are in no condition to go anywhere yourself, young lady!” the grumpy elder mocked. “I guess you have to miss your flight and stay here with me and work, work, work all summer!”

“I am getting on that plane tonight, no matter what shape I am in!” Rei defied her obnoxious grandfather. “I just need some tea and a bit more rest. Speaking of tea, prepare me a cup of piping hot green tea! NOW! And send Yuuichirou in here the moment he returns!”

“As you command, your highness!” the stout old man shuffled out of the room to fulfill his granddaughter’s demanding request.

“It was just a dream.” Rei Hino reaffirmed to herself as she shivered under the blankets. She desperately needed to get some rest to regain her strength and tried her best to ignore the lasting image of Sailor Moon doused in her own blood, dying alone in the middle of a devastated New York City street. “A bad dream, nothing more.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 26

Usagi buried her head into a fluffy pillow as her phone continued to ring and buzz atop her cluttered nightstand. She had suffered yet another long and sleepless night, torn between mixed emotions of whether it was the right choice to accept her boyfriend’s offer to pay for her ticket to New York and the ramifications it might have if she elected to do so. The sun had risen, its warm rays brightening up her room as they shined through the window blinds, but she had still not made up her mind.

“You can’t ignore them forever!” Luna pounced onto the bed and nudged the top of her furry head into the human’s cheek. “It’s almost noon! Get out of bed and decide already. I can’t take that annoying ringtone of yours anymore and you are being rude to your friends by not answering!”

“I know, you’re right.” the groggy girl yawned. Usagi grabbed her cellphone and noticed that she had over ten missed calls from Ami Mizuno before it started buzzing again in her hands. “Ami is always so calm and rational. She will surely understand if I explain why I can’t go with them.”

“USAGI!” Ami’s called from outside of her bedroom window as the doorbell chimed.

“Ami, is that you?” the perplexed girl raced out of her bedroom and down the steps, still wearing her pajamas. She swung open the front door to find her timid friend dressed modestly and standing next to a packed suitcase with a heavy blue backpack slung around her shoulders. Her cellphone remained pressed against her ears underneath her bobbed hair as she tried dialing Usagi again.

“Good morning!” Ami canceled the call and turned to greet her traveling companion. She was unusually cheerful this morning. It was very rare to see the studious girl so excited outside of a classroom. “I apologize for intruding, but I couldn’t wait any longer! My mother secured us four plane tickets for tonight, the same flight as Rei, in fact. I can’t believe this is happening!”

“I am sorry I missed all of your calls, I was sleeping! But about this trip...” Usagi tried to mask how deeply saddened she was. She didn’t feel quite right borrowing that amount of money from Mamoru, even if it meant that she could not go on this dream vacation with her best friends. He meant more to her than anything in the world, and she did not want to risk damaging their relationship. “I’m not sure that I...”

“We are going to have an incredible experience in New York City!” the suddenly upbeat girl continued as she wheeled her suitcase into Usagi’s home and dropped her heavy backpack onto the floor. “I have already spoken with Minako and Makoto and ensured that they received their confirmations.”

“Already?” Usagi gasped, knowing that it would be even more difficult for her to back out of this ugly situation she had created. “Have they paid for their tickets?”

“Yes! I told them to meet up here when finished packing.” the lively Ami continued. Normally Usagi was the one who dominated the conversation over her meek friend, yet today it was the total opposite and she could hardly get a word in. “I have never made a spur-of-the-moment plan like this, but we cannot pass up on this once in a lifetime opportunity. I am nervous and thrilled at the same time!”

“I know, but I...” Usagi still struggled for an opening to tell Ami the truth.

“When you mentioned accompanying Rei to New York at the party...” Ami’s tone suddenly became more serious. “I don’t know what came over me, but I spoke up to support your outlandish proposal. I’m sure that even you thought this vacation was just a pipedream when you suggested it.”

“It was a fun thought.” Usagi nodded in agreement. The astute Ami was right. Even she didn’t think this would happen, despite her enthusiasm at Rei’s farewell gathering.

“Little did everyone know that I really could help make this fantasy possible.” Ami’s head slumped slightly. “I just hope this was the right thing to do. I don’t want Rei to be angry with me.”

“No, don’t worry about her!” Usagi smiled. She put a comforting hand on Ami’s shoulder and lifted her chin back up. “This was all my idea in the first place, if anything she will be furious at me for suggesting it, not you!”

“The reason I mentioned my mother...” Ami shook her head at the notion of her two friends bickering. The last thing she wanted was for them to get into an argument. She tried her best to hide her insecurities for making these sudden travel arrangements. It would be on her if this trip turned out to be a complete and utter disaster, not Usagi. Getting the tickets from her mother was a perilous proposition, but it was one she just had to take. “Because...”

“What’s wrong, Ami?” the baffled Usagi sensed her friend’s anguish.

“I worry about the future.” Ami confessed. “Between my hectic career path and now Rei potentially moving overseas... it seems inevitable that we will go our separate ways someday. The Sailor Team will probably fade into a distant memory of our youth...”

“No!” Usagi shook her head as Ami mentioned her worst fears. “I won’t allow that to happen!”

“Who knows what will ensue when I graduate medical school and become a doctor full-time. They will require me to work 24-hour shifts and always remain on call. I may never have the chance to be with the four of you on a holiday like this ever again. That’s why I spoke up.”

“Don’t say that!” Usagi choked up as she seized her hands into her own. “I’ll drag you out of the hospital if I have to!”

“Do you remember the time we first spoke at school?” Ami noticed how upset the pouty girl was getting and felt guilty about it. She rarely poured out her feelings like her over emotional companion, but figured now would be the best time to let Usagi know just how much she meant to her. “I would always eat lunch alone and study while everyone else laughed and had fun in the cafeteria. But one day you went out of your way to find me and encouraged me to join the other students at your table...”

“Of course!” Usagi nodded happily. “How could I forget that?”

“Even back then...” Ami spoke softly. “I was always so focused on becoming a doctor and following in my mother’s footsteps. Nothing else mattered to me except working towards achieving my goal.”

“You were the top student!” she smiled. “Best in our class! I was so proud to call you my friend!”

“I performed well academically.” Ami wrapped her arms around Usagi and squeezed as tight as she could. “But more than good grades... what I really wanted... more so than anything else in the world... was a friend... and I was lucky enough to make the best friend I could have ever hoped for when you came to find me that day! I can’t imagine my life without you and the rest of the team. I don’t want to go back to being that sad and lonely girl that I was before I awakened as Sailor Mercury, but I am afraid that is my destiny.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 27

“Ami…” The timid girl had never opened up to her like this before, leaving Usagi speechless. She wholeheartedly understood Ami’s feelings and shared with her sentiment. There was no way she could back out of the trip now, it would hurt Ami way too much if she were to do so. But what was she supposed to do about Mamoru? Usagi felt completely torn between the dueling emotions but brushed them aside for the time being as she grabbed Ami’s hand and pulled her up the steps leading to her bedroom. “Come and help me pack up for this adventure!”

    The pigtailed girl burst through the door to her room and ran over to her cluttered closet, where she retrieved a small pink suitcase covered with colorful stickers. She plopped it onto her bed, disrupting Luna, who slept peacefully on the comforter.

“Usagi?” the befuddled cat sniffed the suitcase. “I thought you had told Ami...”

But before the chatty cat could finish her thought, Usagi started flinging out a barrage of clothing out of her closet and onto the bed. A wrinkled t-shirt came right down on the poor cat’s head, muffling her voice as she tried to reason with her owner. The frustrated feline shook away the garment and shrieked when a flip-flop whizzed by her whiskers.

“She’s hopeless...” the irritated cat whimpered to Ami as she dodged the projectiles and scampered out of the room before getting hit.

“Take your time or you will end up forgetting something important. There’s no need to rush!” Ami picked up the pieces of loose clothing off the rug and folded them up neatly before carefully placing them into the suitcase. “In the meantime, I need you to provide me with a credit card so I can provide my mother with the information in order to compensate her for your ticket.”

“Credit card?” Usagi peaked her reddening face out of the closet.

“Yes.” Ami nodded nervously. “Please tell me you have one?”

“Nope.” the embarrassed girl shrugged as she pointed to a piggy bank atop her dresser. “All the money I have is inside that cute ceramic pig, and it’s not much!”

“Oh, I see.” Ami lowered her head in shame. “I apologize Usagi. This is all my fault. I got carried away and didn’t take your financial situation into consideration. I was so foolish to plan something like this, especially so last minute. This idea was a huge mistake.”

“Don’t worry, silly!” Usagi emerged from the closet cradling a bundle of outfits in her arms. “I said that I didn’t have my own personal credit card. That doesn’t mean I don’t have access to one that I can use!”

“I assume your parents gave you permission to use theirs?” Ami wondered.

“With the lousy grades I got in college this semester? There’s no point of even asking them.” Usagi jammed the pile of dresses, skirts, blouses, shoes into the small suitcase. “But my wonderful MAMO says it’s OK that I use his card!”

“Are you certain?” asked the concerned Ami. “It is a very pricey ticket...”

“My birthday is coming up at the end of the month!” Usagi assured. “This will be my gift for this year... and the next... and the one after that... possibly until I am thirty years old!”

“Hah.” Ami chuckled awkwardly. “Perhaps you should call him, just to double check.”

“There’s no need to! We spoke about this last night!” Usagi closed the suitcase and noticed that there was no way it would zip shut with the amount of clothing she had crammed inside. “Besides, he has job interviews all day and then he’s coming straight here. He wanted to go out on a date, but I’ll have him take us to the airport instead!”

“Okay.” Ami nodded with a bit of apprehension. “But I need to call my mother with the credit card information as soon as possible to reserve your seat.”

“You can call her right now!” Usagi pounded on the cover of the suitcase with her fists. Ami helped press down on the baggage as Usagi exerted all of her effort on zipping the suitcase shut to no avail. “Good thing I know his entire credit card number by heart!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 28

Mamoru sighed as he pulled his red sports car into the driveway of the Tsukino residence. Another day of grueling interviews was finally over. The questions today were difficult, and he did not feel too confident about his performance. He couldn’t help but feel frustrated that he had received no job offers yet. The only response he got from the companies he applied to were rejection letters that arrived in the mail a week or two later. What was he doing wrong? He still had more interviews scheduled for tomorrow and the day after, but maybe he needed to take a break. Perhaps a nice evening out with Usagi would help take his mind away from his stressful predicament. He unbuckled his seat belt and stepped out of the vehicle, but before he could even close the driver-side door, he spotted his girlfriend hurrying out of her house. A crammed pink suitcase scuttled on its wheels as she dragged it along the cement.

“Pop the trunk!” the pigtailed girl called out. “We are running late!”

“Huh? What is going on?” Mamoru asked as Usagi hefted her suitcase off the ground and shoved it into his arms. She entered the car and pushed the button to open the rear storage compartment. The startled boyfriend walked to the back of his vehicle and placed the luggage in the trunk only to find her friends Minako, Makoto and Ami rushing towards him with their own baggage.

“Please watch my precious boy Artemis while we are away!” Minako Aino gestured to a cage she held containing her white cat. She peaked through the metal bars and waved goodbye to her pet. “Behave for Mamoru! Don’t get into any mischief!”

“It’s you that gets into trouble all the time, not me!” the defiant cat answered back. “Please behave yourself! Don’t do anything stupid in New York, for goodness’ sake!”

“New York...” Mamoru muttered in shock from the talking cat’s revelation.

“Yes. My mother got us on a flight!” the meek Ami struggled to hoist her heavy backpack into the trunk. He gave her a hand as she continued talking. “Thank you for paying for Usagi’s fare. You have no idea how much this means to us.”

“And thanks for the ride to the airport.” the tall and athletic Makoto contributed, slinging a large duffle bag from her shoulders into the trunk without his assistance.

The three girls squeezed into the sedan’s back seat as Usagi approached her boyfriend behind the car. She hoped to have a moment to talk with him in private before they left. He did not look happy with her actions, to say the least.

“Mamo…” Usagi was too ashamed to even glance at his dour face. She knew in her heart that what she did was wrong and could only pray that he forgave her.

But before she could speak another word, Minako stretched out and pushed the center of the steering wheel, causing the blaring horn to sound.

“Minako!” Artemis screamed his owner’s name and buried his head into the corner of his cage. “That’s too loud! Stop it!”

“Let’s go.I don’t want to keep your friends waiting.” Mamoru closed the trunk as he turned away from girlfriend and headed back to the driver’s seat. He buckled his seatbelt and started up the car.

“Put the petal to the medal!” an excited Minako shouted to their driver once Usagi got in the car across from him. “We don’t want to miss our flight!”

“I believe you misspoke. The correct phrase is pedal to the metal.” Ami corrected in her best English. “A petal represents each segment of the corolla of a flower which are modified leaves and typically colored. Medals are awards of recognition.”

“Well, in that case I’m giving the medal to you, Ami, for helping us secure plane tickets last minute!” Minako smiled. “I still can’t believe this is happening!”

“Neither can I…” Mamoru remarked.

Chapter Text

Chapter 29

Mamoru floored the gas pedal as he weaved through heavy rush hour traffic, racing his red car to the airport in blazing speed. The excited passengers in the back seat were completely oblivious to their driver’s anger and assumed that he was just doing his best to get them to the airport as soon as possible so they did not miss their scheduled departure. They chatted amongst themselves the entire ride, but Usagi sat across from her boyfriend, trapped in an awkward silence for nearly an hour.

        He screeched the car to a sudden halt once they reached the terminal and pushed the button on the dashboard to pop open the trunk. The three girls scrambled out of the rear to grab their things, but Usagi remained in her seat. Tears welling in her eyes as she opened her mouth to voice an explanation for her actions.

“I don’t want to hear it.” Mamoru lashed out. He turned to face his tearing girlfriend with a look of disgust. “Spare me the waterworks!”

“Forget it! Just take me home!” Usagi sobbed uncontrollably from the harsh tone in his voice. “I’m not going if you will be mad at me like this!”

“You’ve made your decision.” the irritated boyfriend shook his head in disappointment. “Get out of the car and enjoy your vacation. I hope it is worthwhile.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” Usagi whined. “Please forgive me, Mamo! I’ll pay you back every penny when I get back home. I’ll even get a part-time job and work as hard as I can during the school year! I promise!”

“I told you what I saved that money for.” he said. “Yet you spent it on this ticket regardless, without hesitation.”

“That’s not true...” Usagi whimpered. “You don’t understand...I...”

“You are right. I don’t understand.” Mamoru frowned. “I thought you loved me and wanted to marry me above all else, but I guess I was wrong.”

“How could you even say such a thing?” such an imprudent comment deeply hurt the shocked Usagi. His cruel words felt like a sharp dagger stabbing her heart. “If anything, you do not love me nearly as much as I love you! You were the one who left me behind to study abroad in London for months, even though I begged you to stay close to home!”

“That was to advance my education!” he countered. “This is a totally different situation! Your friends clearly mean much more to you then your relationship with me!”

“I told you my worries at the amusement park.“ Usagi cried. “Yet you don’t seem to care about any of my feelings. I just want to spend time with my friends before everything changes.“

“Things always change in life.” Mamoru scolded. “Especially when you make reckless decisions like this.”

“Well then, just break up with me already if that’s how you feel!” Usagi’s sadness turned to anger and frustration. She knew that her choice would upset him, but did not think he was going to overreact like this. Normally she could calm him down with a simple smile, but the more they spoke, the more their argument escalated. “I was so upset when you left for London, but I never held it against you! I missed you so much and wrote love letters every single week! You never responded, but my love and faith in you never wavered!”

“You know that wasn’t my fault.” Sailor Galaxia stole his star seed upon her invasion of earth, forcing Usagi to face her biggest challenge without his support. She avoided speaking about the Sailor Team’s ultimate battle, still clearly traumatized over what had transpired in his absence. In the days and years since, he noticed that his girlfriend had become even more clingy and immature, reverting to the way she acted when they first met.

“I was so sad, vulnerable and lonely during that crisis, but I ignored those who tried to convince me to move on from you.” Usagi recalled a particular individual from her past. Seiya, a member of the three lights idol group, had pursued her vigorously, but she rejected his advancements time and time again until rescuing her beloved. “Maybe I was wrong... Perhaps I should have left you!”

“Come on, Usagi!” Minako opened the passenger door as Mamoru turned away, utterly speechless. The blonde gave them both a concerned look before pulling her bawling friend out of the car. “You are going to make us miss the flight!”

“Is everything alright?” Ami asked when she noticed the tears streaming down Usagi’s face.

Mamoru ignored the prospective medical student. He reached across and pulled the handle of the passenger side door, slamming it shut. He revved his engine and pulled off the curve, zooming away much faster than the posted speed limit without saying goodbye to any of the girls.

Chapter Text

Chapter 30

    Rei Hino snapped out of a haze when the train conductor announced that her train was arriving at the airport station. A chime sounded, and the subway doors opened automatically, allowing a throng of passengers to exit in an orderly fashion. It forced the ailing traveler to scramble to her feet and grab her belongings in haste, narrowly escaping before the doors shut behind her.

      She had remained in bed awaiting Yuuichirou’s return until it was time to leave. The potent medicine her grandfather had provided left her feeling drowsy and weak. Her face was pale and flushed, her long black hair tangled in a mess of knots. She wished she could take a nice hot bath before she left, but did not even have the time to change out of her pink overalls. The plane had not boarded yet, but she was already counting down the hours to when the long flight would be over so she could check into her hotel and wash up.

     She was counting on Yuuichirou to return, partly so he could escort her to the airport and carry all of her belongings up to the security checkpoint where she could give him a proper goodbye. But the young apprentice had not returned to the temple like her grandfather assumed he would. Instead, she needed to carry everything on her own and it was proving to be quiet a hassle. Maybe her grandfather knew all along that he was not coming back, she thought to herself. That’s probably why he appeared so cheerful this morning.

     Her fever had subsided, but a runny nose and scratchy throat did not help her already crappy mood. Her forehead pounded and her arm and leg muscles ached as she carried her bags into the airport and went through the tedious process of checking her luggage and printing out the boarding pass at the kiosk. She passed through security and made her way to her allotted gate before she collapsed onto a bench in exhaustion. But before she could relax for even half of a second, there was an announcement that her flight was going to board shortly, so she stood right back up, gathered her things to wait on the long line that formed.

“REI!” she could’ve sworn she heard a man’s voice calling in the distance just as she was about to show her ticket to the clerk and head down the ramp. It sounded just like Yuuichirou, but it couldn’t possibly be him. Was her illness making her delirious? She glanced over her shoulder to find the bumbling apprentice barreling through the busy terminal, calling out her name frantically, with a bundle of flowers in hand.

“Yuuichirou is that you?” a flustered Rei stepped off the line and accidently dropped all of her bags. It was a relief to see the priest, but his presence in the terminal also infuriated her. He immediately bent down to help her recover her belongings. “How did you get in here? Don’t you need a ticket to be on this side of the gate?”

“Yes.” He gasped for breath and held out a crumpled piece of paper. “I have one right here!”

“I told you that you can’t come to New York!” Rei screamed in her hoarse voice, eyeing the pass with disdain. “You are not getting on this plane with me!”

“Oh, this?” he glanced at the paper. “I booked a ticket for another flight!”

“Where are you going then?” Rei demanded. She tried to see the details on the crinkled slip. Perhaps he really quit the shrine after all. She assumed he would return to his parent’s mansion up north. “

“I’m not going anywhere!” he grinned as he presented her the bouquet. “I just bought the cheapest ticket available so I would not miss the chance to say goodbye and wish you good luck on your internship!”

“That’s very romantic.“ Rei snatched the bundle of flowers out of his hands and admired them. “But you are still an idiot! You were seconds away from missing me! Why would you waste your hard-earned money on a ticket instead of just meeting me back at the temple like a normal person would? I was waiting for you all morning and afternoon until the moment I left!”

“I apologize...” he stammered. “For disappearing on you last night.”

“That was so stupid and immature of you!” the irritated Rei yelled. “Running off into a lightning storm like a big crybaby! Now I caught a cold at the worst possible time, all thanks to your insolence!”

“I know, I screwed up!” he carried on. “When I came back I found you passed out in the meditation room, shivering and with fever, so I carried you to your room and informed your grandfather of your poor condition.”

“You didn’t give me a chance to explain myself last night...” Rei coughed. “Usagi always comes up with these insane ideas. She hasn’t grown up one bit and still gets carried away like a child! I should have said no to her right then and there, but I did not want to hurt her feelings and leave everyone on such bad terms. I was going to pull Ami aside afterwards and tell her in private not to buy the tickets, but because of you I did not have the chance to do so!”

“Are they still coming with you?” he asked, still slightly annoyed at the remote possibility.

“I don’t know, I have heard nothing from them.” Rei sniffled her runny nose. “But I doubt it. Ami is so pragmatic, there is no way she would rush into a trip like this without carefully planning it out down to the very last detail. I’m sure she came to her senses when she woke up this morning. You see? Nobody is coming with me! There was no need to get all jealous and bent out of shape!”

“I have one last thing for you before you go.” Yuuichirou took off the backpack slung around his shoulders and pulled out a plastic shopping bag.

“My dress!” Rei brightened up as she opened the bag and took out the red garment.  She looked it over and observed that all the juice stains vanished. “You got it dry cleaned?”

“No.” Yuuichirou shook his head. “The cleaners told me it was beyond repair. I spent all morning carrying that dress into every women’s clothing store in Tokyo until I finally found it!”

“Why didn’t you just ask me where I bought it?” Rei bickered. “I swear, you are so foolish!”

“I thought it would be a pleasant surprise for your departure!” Yuuichirou smiled. “And I did not want to disrupt your rest.”

“You are much more important to me then this stupid dress.” Rei blushed slightly. And it wasn’t because of her illness. “Do you know how worried I was about you? I thought you left the temple for good!”

“Excuse me, Miss.” One of the airport attendants interrupted the conversation and tapped Rei’s shoulder. “We are going to be closing the gate shortly.”

“Rei.” Yuuichirou was at a loss for words. “You know I would never...”

“Well, I guess this goodbye for now.” Rei cradled her flowers and backed away from her handsome admirer. “I would give you a kiss goodbye, but I don’t want you to catch this horrible cold from me.”

“I’ll take the risk!” Yuuichirou tried to push past the airline staff, but security held the energetic man at bay.

“Maybe, you’ll get one when I return.” Rei waved a last goodbye before proceeding through the tunnel with all her belongings. “If the temple is still standing!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 31

     “Is there anything else that we can do for you, Master Splinter?” a concerned Leonardo asked as he knelt beside his sensei’s cot. The feeble rat sat upright in his tattered pink robe with blood-stained bandages covering up several lacerations throughout his furry body. One of his eyes remained swollen shut, and he labored to breathe through his nose, wheezing and coughing in discomfort.

The three brothers stood behind their leader with dour expressions. They were all nursing their various wounds and injuries that they had suffered from their battle inside the Technodrome, but those lumps paled compared to the beating Splinter had taken in his captivity. The turtles had finally defeated their archenemy at long last, banishing him into another dimension with a sai buried in his chest. But at what cost?

      The vigilante Casey Jones had gotten their kidnapped master out of the collapsing Technodrome on his motorcycle, transporting him safely into their hideout deep within the sewer system of New York City, but Splinter had remained bedridden for the days that followed the daring rescue and his condition appeared to be worsening from the poison in his system.

“You... must...” the raspy voice of Splinter cracked as he struggled to instruct his students. “Continue... your training...kata… kata… and more kata…”

“DAMN IT!” An angry Raphael pounded his green fist into the brick wall at the sight of their sickly master, convinced that sensei was dying a slow and agonizing death from the torture he had sustained at the hands of his rival Oroku Saki.

“You heard him guys. Head to the training hall.” a grim Leonardo turned to face his brothers. “Let Master Splinter get some rest.”

“Chill out, bro!” Michelangelo replied. “My shell is still spinning from the bumps I took! Can’t we train tomorrow?”

“Yeah, what’s the point of practicing? We have defeated Shredder.” Donatello agreed. “I need to make several repairs to the turtle van, and figure out how to get that darned engine to fire up!”

“Fine! Disobey your sensei’s direct wishes and do whatever you guys want!” a visibly upset Leonardo brushed past his brothers and stormed off towards the training hall. He felt helpless without his master’s guidance and couldn’t bear the thought that they may lose him if he succumbs to his injuries. Deep down he knew he was not ready to lead his brothers on his own without their sensei’s tutelage. “If anyone wants to challenge me to a sparring match, you know where I’ll be!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 32

      Leonardo walked down a dark tunnel and into the empty dojo where he and his brothers had learned many an important lesson from Master Splinter. They may have been surrounded by grime covered bricks and a barrage of leaking pipes, but over the years they had taken the time to decorate the room and cover its barren walls with Japanese scrolls, potted plants and weapon racks, matching the descriptions that Splinter gave of the dojo where he learned the art of ninjitsu in his native Japan. No matter how glamorous the world on the surface may look, no place on earth would ever feel more like home to him than this training hall.

        He drew his twin katana and performed the very first kata Splinter had shown him in the early days of his training. He remembered how he could barely hold a sword properly and could not mimic the proper movements of this form, no matter how hard he tried. His footwork was always off and he lacked balance, but Master Splinter always remained patient with his student and he gradually showed progress. Now, after years of nonstop training, he could perform that same kata without a single thought, entering the state of mind called mushin, that only true ninja masters attained. His gleaming swords danced like a gust of wind as he cut through an imaginary opponent.

“Hey Leo! You wanted a sparring partner? Well, you got one!” Raphael interrupted his brother’s training and drew both of his sai, spinning them in his hands as he stepped onto the matted dojo floor. “I have a broken bone to pick with you!”

“What the hell are you talking about, Raph?” Leonardo readied his katana once he turned to face the red masked turtle. The nerve of his brother to disrupt his kata. Raphael never took his martial art seriously. The hothead did not see the value of their master’s lessons and often scoffed at these rigorous and repetitive exercises. Interrupting him now was a blatant act of disrespect not only to him but to Splinter as well.

 Raphael loved to rely on his brute strength and power to overcome his adversaries, rather than utilizing skill, focus and precision like a true ninja.  Kata was nothing to him but a useless dance that he only performed when their master demanded it of him. Leonardo felt in his heart that his reckless brother never appreciated Splinter and all the virtues he instilled.  If Raphael wanted to fight, then he would oblige and show him the error of his ways.

“I could’ve killed Shredder with your sword!” Raphael grunted as he leapt through the air and thrust with his sai. Leonardo side stepped and parried the three-pronged weapon, countering with an arcing slash of his katana to create distance between the two combatants. “But you knocked me out of the way!”

“I saved your life!” Leonardo backpedaled, fending off his brother’s relentless assault. “Shredder was a master swordsman and you are not! He was baiting you to attack him. You would have gotten yourself skewered like a shish kabob if I did not intervene!”

“The wise and all-knowing Leonardo.“ the sarcastic Raphael kept attacking, pressing his uptight sibling towards the corner of the training hall. He planted a front kick right into his sibling’s yellow chest. The back of his shell ripped through one of the hanging scrolls as his tough exterior slammed into the brick wall. “I see right through your act. You just wanted to steal the glory for yourself!

“You are mistaken. Master splinter told me to get you guys out of there alive and that’s exactly what I was going to do.” Leonardo grimaced as he eyed the damaged artwork and pushed his brother back, finally going on the offensive with a flurry of sword swipes. “Unlike you, I actually listen to our sensei’s teachings!”

“THATS IT!” Raphael tossed his weapons aside and speared his shoulder into his brother’s torso. They pounded into the mat, barrel-rolling into the brick wall. Steaming pipes rattled above them from the violent impact as they continued to exchange blows. Staffs, wooden swords, and other training implements fell off their racks and clanked down to the dojo floor. 

“Now look what you’ve done!” Leonardo gestured at the ruined training hall, but Raphael could careless, pinning him up against the wall with a scowl of pure hatred.

“Shut up, Leo!” The irate turtle raised his right hand and folded it into a tight fist, ready to pound his brother’s face to a pulp. His eyes glowed, lighting the dank dojo with a purple aura. The hateful energy from Shredder’s crystal surged within him, granting immense power and the desire for bloodshed. Dark thoughts surfaced in his mind. How dare Leonardo treat him like this? He had saved his brother’s life in the Technodrome’s central chamber, but did not get any acknowledgment for his heroics. Instead, he gets scolded like a child for not being a teacher’s pet like that uptight Leonardo. He was the better fighter and had proven many times that his style of ninjutsu was more effective no matter what their master thought. Maybe they were both better off dead.

Chapter Text

Chapter 33

“Raph!” Leonardo spat out blood after taking a vicious hook punch to the side of his jaw. “What’s happened to you?”

“Stop it!” a familiar voice screeched across the dojo. “Let him go!”

Raphael looked over his shoulder and spotted April O’Neil standing there in her yellow jumpsuit with four boxes of pizza stacked in her hands. The woman’s jaw dropped in horror when she saw the turtle’s iridescent eyes peering out from under his red mask and the look of pure hatred that adorned his face. Raphael abandoned his victim and approached the panicky female, his knuckles dripping with blood.

“Uh, Guys!” April nervously backpedaled away from the corrupted mutant. She dropped the pizza and made a dash for the exit, but the adept ninja turtle snagged her by the wrist and threw her down onto the mat. “Donatello! Mikey!”

“You brought us pizza?” Mikey noticed the discarded cardboard boxes upon entering the training hall. “Totally awesome!”

“I don’t think that’s why she was calling for us, Michelangelo.” Donnie readied his bo staff after spotting their crude sibling towering over the news reporter.

“What’s the matter, dude?” the confused mutant slapped his brother on the shell, paying no mind to the corruption emanating from his mask. “There’s enough pizza for all of us!”

Raphael abandoned the human for the moment and spun around, swinging the back of his fist into the party animal’s neck snout.  Michelangelo fell backward from the powerful strike and collapsed into a decorative jar which shattered into a hundred pieces.

“He’s possessed!” Donatello shouted in horror, snapping the bo staff at his brother’s head. Raphael blocked the strike with his forearms and grabbed the shaft with both hands, using Donny’s momentum to toss him clear across the training hall. The turtle thudded into Michelangelo, breaking even more pots from the collision, leaving the prone April completely defenseless at the feet of the corrupted mutant.

“Don’t even think about it!” Leonardo limped away from the wall and retrieved his katana. “You are going to have to kill me if you want to get to her.”

Raphael picked up his sai from the floor and faced his brother. They squared off with their sharp weapons held out, ready to fight to the death. No more sparring, no more insults, no more games. This time it was for real. One of them would die.

“No!” April O’Neil overcame her fears and jumped in front of Leonardo to prevent him from attacking his sibling. She stared into the intimidating eyes of Raphael, pleading for mercy. “Raph, don’t do this! I know this isn’t you! Please come back to us if you are still in there!”

    Raphael raised his sai, eager to bury it into the woman’s neck. Ignore her... the crystal spoke. Kill them... Slay Leonardo and the others. Let Splinter see their corpses piled up on the mat before slicing his throat.

       The crystal’s commanding presence nearly took over. But then he noticed the helpless look of fear on April’s face. Sure, his brothers may have wronged him in the past, but the reporter was innocent. There was no way he could ever harm her or his brothers! What was he thinking?

      April braced herself against Leonardo, awaiting her imminent death, but Raphael fought against the dark spirit within him. He blinked his eyes until the raged subsided, letting the sai slip from his grip and clank to the mat.

Chapter Text

Chapter 34

“What have I done?” Raphael collapsed to the dojo floor and could not bear to look up at his family. Their weapons still held at the ready, just in case the corruption returned. “I don’t know... what came over me... I...”

“We know you would hurt none of us intentionally.” the bloodied Leonardo sheathed his swords and gestured for his brothers to do the same with their ninja weaponry. “You need to tell us what has happened to you.”

“My arm broke when you knocked me onto to the floor during the battle.” Raphael recalled the epic fight against Shredder. “I landed on it with all my weight. I felt it pop and heard a nasty crack when...”

“Ugh, that’s so gross!” April grimaced, clapping her palms against her ears. “You don’t have to give us every single detail! I’m not doing a news report!”

“I crawled along the floor.” the glum Raphael kept his gaze fixated on the dojo mat, still overcome by grief and guilt for attacking his brothers.  “Desperate to find anything that could help you against Tin Face. I  spotted the damaged laser cannon and pried out the black rock that was powering it up.”

“Yea, I saw you throw it, dude!” Mikey added. “Man, that was awesome!”

“But before I did, the shard’s essence absorbed into my body, filling me with life and renewed energy. My broken arm and all of my other wounds healed in an instant! I felt... unstoppable!”

“That’s fascinating!” Donny nodded in astonishment. “I wish I could study that fragment and discover the source of its power!”

“It spoke to me... in a way... I guess... Raphael confessed, pounding the padded mat with his fist out of frustration. “It filled my mind with a bunch of sick thoughts and ideas. I thought I got rid of them when I tossed the crystal away, but apparently the dark force is still inside of me. Damn it, this blows!”

“Don’t worry, Raphael.” the battered leader extended his arm and helped his brother to his feet. “We will find a way to help you get back to normal.”

“You guys don’t get it do you.” Raphael spun to face his brothers. “This is not about me!”

“What are you talkin’ about, bro?” the confused Mikey asked as he eyed the discarded pizza boxes. The smell of cheese pizza filled the dojo and making his mouth water and stomach growl in hunger.

“Shredder!” Raphael gritted his teeth. “He had that crystal in his possession when he drifted into the portal. Which means he’s gotta be alive!”

“Impossible!” Leonardo folded his arms in disgust. “You stabbed him in the heart with your sai and sent him hurtling into another dimension. There’s no way!”

“Come on Leo, the crystal definitely healed him up!” Raphael tried his best to control his anger, fearful of triggering another violent episode. “And if I’m right, then it is only a matter of time before he finds his way back to this city, more powerful than ever before!”

“I surmise that he could find a gateway back into our realm if he survived, assuming that he can control the crystal’s magic.” Donny added. “Who knows what that mysterious fragment is capable of.”

“Guys, I came here…” April butted into the conversation. “Because there is some bad news I wanted to tell you.”

“What news?” the four turtles asked in unison as she snagged their full attention. Things couldn’t possibly get any worse. Or could they?

“The Technodrome.” Ms. O’Neil muttered. “It’s gone!”

“Oh, great.” Raphael sighed. “That’s just perfect.”

“What do you mean gone?” Leonardo ignored his snide brother’s sarcasm. “We last saw it on the brink of total collapse as we made our escape!”

“Well, I took a full camera crew and a police envoy deep underground to that exact spot, and we found absolutely nothing! Not even a single scrap of metal! It’s as if it just vanished! I promised Channel 6 executives the story of the century and I failed to deliver! Now I am the laughingstock of the entire station! Vernon and my boss won’t ever let this go! I’m lucky I didn’t get fired for this mishap!”

“Are you sure you entered the correct GPS coordinates that I provided you?” Donnie asked. “That dilapidated Technodrome could not have physically moved from that location. Its computer systems were down, its power source depleted, the engines were malfunctioning, fires were spreading into the... “

“Yes, I’m sure!” April threw up her hands in frustration. “We searched everywhere!”

“Hmm. Maybe Shredder harnessed the power of the crystal after all.” Donatello contemplated. “Perhaps he could relocate the Technodrome somewhere else, possibly into the foreign realm we banished him into.”

“That means it’s only a matter of time before he’s back.” Leonardo agreed. “We need to come up with a strategy and formulate an attack plan.”

“We don’t have the time for your elaborate plans and tactics, Leo!” Raphael argued. “I’m not sitting on my ass in these sewers any longer.”

“Then what are you gonna do, dude?” Mikey asked.

“I’m going to find Shredder wherever he is hiding.” the brash turtle spoke as he stormed towards the dilapidated dojo’s exit. “And I’m going to steal that crystal back from him!”

“That can be extremely dangerous, Raph!” Donatello warned. “Interacting with that crystal again in your condition could be catastrophic! Let me run some tests! Maybe I can develop a machine that can...”

“I don’t care about my condition! And we don’t have the time for any of your crazy inventions!” Raphael snapped back at his nerdy brother. “I hate to break it to you guys, but Splinter is dying! That shard could be our only chance to save him from certain death. I am already corrupted by the crystal, there’s no point of putting any of you at risk. It is up to me, and me alone, to retrieve it and see if it can heal our master!”

“That vile stone is pure evil, and I don’t want it anywhere near Master Splinter!” Leonardo countered in disapproval. “I have faith that our sensei will recover, he is more resilient than you think!”

“Well, you guys can sit here, eat April’s pizza, train in the dojo, fix your gadgets and mediate on what to do next!” Raphael felt his rage increasing as his brothers disagreed with his idea. He grabbed a trench coat and fedora off a coat rack and quickly donned his disguise as he walked down a tunnel leading away from the hideout. “I’m going to find Casey Jones and see if we can hunt down Shredder!”

“Tell that creep to stop calling me!” the irritated newscaster snapped at the mention of the vigilante’s name. “Let him know we are through!”

“You got it, toots.” Raphael gave the woman a quick nod as he grabbed a skateboard and sped away from the hideout.

“Wait!” Leonardo shouted, but he did not bother chasing his brother outside of their lair, knowing that there was nothing he could say or do to change his reckless sibling’s mind.

“I’m sorry, Leo.” Raphael muttered under his breath even though they could no longer see or hear him. The red masked turtle stopped for a moment, jumping off his skateboard to look back down the dank tunnel leading to his home. He was not leaving his brothers solely to help save their master’s life. He was also doing it because he wanted no more harm to come to the guys at his hands. It was the least he could do for his disgraceful actions.

       The crystal had exploited the jealousy and disdain that he carried deep within his soul. Splinter had tried for years to get him to suppress his anger and raw emotions, but he obviously failed his master in that regard. Maybe Leo was right about him after all these years. He lacked the self-control and discipline of a true ninja.

Raphael felt the crystal’s essence swirling within his gut and was worried about that damage he could cause when it returned. Leaving was the only way he could protect his siblings from himself. He grit his teeth as he turned away, sloshing down the slimy sewer, wondering if that was the last time he would ever see his brothers.

Chapter Text

Chapter 35

“Leonardo, are you alright?” April found a discarded towel amongst the clutter of the muddled training hall and rubbed it onto the mutant’s bruised face, removing the blood that dripped out of his mouth from the vicious punches that Raphael had landed on him.

“I’m fine.” the swordsman stated firmly. He pulled the towel away and threw it down to the mat in frustration.

“About Raphael. If I can help you guys...” April spoke, but the defiant turtle cut her off.

“I think I’d like to take Raph’s advice and meditate for a while.” the stern leader announced. “If you don’t mind, can you please allow me some privacy to reflect on what has transpired?”

“Of course.” April gathered the pizza boxes off the dojo mat. “Does anyone still want this pizza?”

“No, thanks.” Donatello hurried out of the training hall, eager to get back to his work. “I have to recalibrate my kinetoscope and defrag a couple of hard drives.”

“Eh, I kinda’ lost my appetite.” Mikey slumped his shoulders and walked away past the reporter, taking a whiff of the freshly made pizza on his way out of the dojo. He paused at the exit, salivating at the smell of cheese permeating the chamber as a grin returned to his face. The hungry mutant raced up to April and snagged two of the boxes out of her hands before she could even blink. “But it would be a shame to see good pizza to go to waste!”

“I’m going to check up on Master Splinter.” April said after a quick laugh at Mikey’s antics. She could always rely on the goofball to cheer her up when she was having a bad day. “I’ll catch you guys later.”

“Peace out, dudette!” a happy Michelangelo waved goodbye as he raced off into the lair with his pizza pies in tow.

Chapter Text

Chapter 36

      April gave one last look to the troubled Leonardo, who sat cross-legged in the center of the dojo with his eyes closed. Blood continued to drip from his mouth and splash onto the stained mat, but he paid it no mind as he inhaled and exhaled his breath, slowly drifting away into a relaxed state. She silently prayed that he would find the answers he was looking for as she left him alone in the dojo.

   The news reporter entered another chamber where she found Master Splinter resting on a cot. She placed the remaining pizza boxes down onto a table and quietly pulled up a wooden chair next to the wounded rat, petting the bridge of his furry nose with the back of her hand.

“Ms... O’Neil...” Splinter rasped. His good-eye blinked open, locking onto her pale face.

“Master!” April gaped from the rat’s sudden outburst. She had thought he was sound asleep. “Forgive me! I did not want to disrupt your rest.”

“I… am.... glad… to... see you...” the old rat winced in pain. “How... are... you?”

“I’m doing great!” the woman lied as she forced herself to smile. Seeing the weakened rat like this nearly brought her to tears. She did not want to trouble Splinter with the drama between her and Casey, the news of the disappearing Technodrome and that fact that Oroku Saki could still be alive. Nor did she want to mention Raphael’s corruption and the terrible fight that led to his departure moments earlier. “The station is giving me an intern from Japan! She starts tomorrow, I believe!”

“Really?” Splinter coughed. “How... wonderful...”

“Yes!” April nodded, trying to look excited, but in reality she was dreading dealing with this foreign intern. She already had enough on her plate at work with her recent failures, and now she had to have a college student tag along as she tried to redeem herself. “I looked into her background. She’s a shrine maiden in fact.”

“Interesting.” Splinter muttered. “It would be... nice... to converse... with someone from... my homeland...”

“I’ll try to bring her down here to see you once you fully recover!”

“That is highly unlikely.” Splinter whimpered. “My strength wanes. I have but a few days left to live, I fear.”

“No, don’t say that!” April clasped his furry hand into her palm. “The turtles... they need you! Please, master! Fight through this for their sake!”

“April...” Splinter’s voice cracked. “Promise me... that you will always look after them... when...I..... am... gone....”

“I promise!” the grief-stricken reporter vowed.

Chapter Text

Chapter 37

“Forget about him for now, Usagi!” Minako urged her disheartened companion, dragging her down the crowded airport terminal before she could throw a tantrum. Ami and Makoto had created some distance between them, despite the fact that they were lugging even heavier baggage. Ami’s crammed backpack laden with heavy textbooks must have been half of her body weight alone, yet she was already at the gate! “Of course he still loves you! He will forgive you when you return home! I’m sure he will shower you with roses and beg you to take him back! Stand your ground and ignore him for a few days, that will drive him crazy!”

“Mamo...” Usagi whimpered as tears continued to stream down her face. His rude comments deeply hurt her, but she had also said some nasty things to him in their fight. She would have to call him once she got off the plane and try to reconcile. But what if he didn’t want to? What if this was truly the end of their relationship? She knew that this was all she would think about for the next twelve plus hours on this flight, but she had to find the strength within herself to not let this sadness consume her.

Mamoru was right about one thing; she had made a choice and would have to live with it. There was no turning back now. Despite the uncertainty facing the future of their relationship, she had to make the best of this trip. This dream vacation reunited the Sailor team with all four of her best friends, and this could be one of the very last times they were all together for an extended period.

“The flight is going to leave without us if we don’t hurry!” Minako pointed to Ami Mizuno, pleading with the airline personnel who stood guard over a closed tunnel. Makoto waved at the blondes frantically as an officer begrudgingly reopened the gate and allowed the two girls to scurry down the ramp.

“Wait!” Minako shouted, flailing her free hand as they hurried towards the open doorway before the security guard could close it once again. She tugged on Usagi’s arm as she sprinted as fast as she could with her friend and baggage in tow.

The clumsy girl could not keep up with her companion’s increased pace. She kept her head down in grief, not paying attention to her surroundings as she bumped into a young man walking in the opposite direction from the gate. Her backpack ripped open upon impact as they both tumbled to the floor.

“Usagi, You klutz!” Minako laughed out loud from the mishap as she helped her back up, yanking her arm towards the gate before she could even catch a glimpse at the poor sap they knocked into. “Now’s not the time to meet another boy!”

“OW!” Yuuichirou’s jaw dropped in shock as his head smacked against the white-tiled floor. He rubbed his eyes in disbelief upon seeing Rei’s two blonde headed friends, the uncoordinated Usagi Tsukino and the ditzy Minako Aino scurrying towards the gate and down the tunnel. A few things had fallen out of Usagi’s backpack from the collision, including her cell phone. The young man scooped them up and raced towards the gate, but the disgruntled security guard had blocked it off, barring entry.

“Not you again!” the defiant officer warned. “I suggest you turn around now if you don’t want to spend the night with the cockroaches in jail.”

“But that girl with the buns just dropped her phone!” he huffed and puffed to catch his breath, holding out the sticker covered device for proof of his claim. “Please, let me go and give it back to her!”

“That’s her problem, bud.” The officer took out his handcuffs to intimidate the quirky apprentice. “She shouldn’t have been so late for her flight. She’s lucky I even let her on the plane! Now scram!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 38

       Rei placed her belongings into the overhead storage compartment and slammed the unit shut before finally taking her seat. She exhaled a sigh of relief knowing that even though she wasn’t feeling a hundred percent better health wise, she had made the flight and learned that Yuuichirou had not abandoned the temple after all. She could finally relax and focus on her upcoming internship without having to worry about anything. The time had finally come for her to go on this journey and the excitement was creeping back. She couldn’t wait to meet her contact April O’Neil and the rest of the Channel 6 News staff. Who knows what amazing things she would learn her during her stay. This could be the start of her future career path. Maybe they would offer her a full-time job when her internship concluded! But what would she do about Yuuichirou...

        Even though she did not have a first-class ticket, she lucked out because there was no passenger sitting next to her. A stewardess passed by and handed her a pillow and blanket. Rei smiled at the young woman, graciously accepting the two items. She buckled her seatbelt and placed the pillow behind her head as the attendants run through the flight safety protocol.

“Excuse us!” a loud commotion sounded from the front of the plane, startling the passengers. Rei peaked down the aisle to see a couple of familiar girls brush past the flight attendant who demonstrated how to breathe out of an oxygen mask should the unlikely event of reduced cabin pressure occur.

“This can’t be happening.” Rei muttered to herself upon seeing her friends. Ami and Makoto hurried past the disrupted flight attendant and shuffled into their seats. Maybe her fever had returned, and she was just seeing things.

“Sorry!” a high-pitched voice squeaked. Another latecomer bumped into the back of a stewardess inflating a yellow life vest. There was no mistaking this passenger with her distinctly childish hairstyle. Usagi Tsukino was on the plane and heading in her direction. Rei quickly took a magazine out of the flap below her food tray and blocked her face, hoping that she would not notice her. Could she at least have a few hours of peace on this flight before the hyper Usagi drove her crazy?

“Excuse me, miss?” The bewildered girl looked down at her ticket and paused right in front of Rei’s row, staring at the empty spot. “I believe you are sitting in my seat.”

“Usagi!” Rei snared her friend’s attention as she threw down the magazine, unbuckled her seatbelt and shifted into the adjacent spot by the window.

“Rei!” Usagi’s eyes lit up in delight as she jumped into the open seat. Despite the girl’s usual happiness, Rei could see dried up tear lines on her face. Why had she been crying? “I can’t believe this! Ami not only got us on the same flight, but I have a seat right next to you! I’ve never felt so lucky in my life!”

“Yes.” Rei wondered aloud with a hint of sarcasm to her voice. She adjusted her pillow and blanket to get more comfortable. It was going to be a long flight. “We are so lucky.”

“You are still wearing those pink overalls?” Usagi giggled after she noticed the peculiar garments. “I was only joking when I told you to wear them in New York!”

“It was not intentional.” Rei sniffled her runny nose. “I had a long night and came down with a fever.”

“Oh, really?” voiced the concerned Usagi. “I’m sorry to hear that. I hope you feel better!”

“I’ll be okay.” Rei nodded, still in shock over the fact that her friends were on this plane with her. “I just need...”

“That’s great! Because I need to talk to you about something.” Usagi’s happiness diminished as her eyes welled up once again.

“What’s wrong?”

“MY MAMO! WAHHH!” Usagi wailed unintelligibly, disrupting the passengers surrounding them. Rei’s face reddened in embarrassment as Usagi buried her head into her shoulder, crying like a baby. Instead of being able to relax and get some much-needed recuperation, she would have to deal with her overemotional friend and whatever sob story she had this time. Rei glanced out the window as the plane pulled away from the tarmac, in route to the runway. They had not even taken off yet, but she could not wait to land in New York!

Chapter Text

Chapter 39

“Women, huh?” Artemis the cat spoke to his temporary caretaker. The human brought him into his apartment and opened the carrier, giving the white coated feline free range of his dwelling. Mamoru had not said one word during the long drive, and as much as he appreciated silence for a change, he needed to uplift the miserable man’s mood before it got worse. “I don’t know about you, but I could use a break from those girls. That Minako is a handful! You do not know what I have to put up with on a daily basis!”

“I shouldn’t have spoken to Usagi like that.” Mamoru’s anger had simmered down, but he remained visibly upset over the ordeal. He opened one of his cabinets and pulled out a can of cat food that he always kept stored in case he ever had to watch Luna. “I’ve ruined my relationship because I was angry about a petty thing like money. How stupid am I? Maybe I don’t deserve to be with Usagi.”

“Don’t say that! Couples get into arguments all the time about that complicated people stuff!” Artemis’ tail skyrocketed, rubbing his furry body against the human’s long legs as he watched Mamoru scoop the contents of the can into a bowl and place it at his paws. “It will blow over when she gets back home, I’m sure.”

“I’ve been very frustrated that I haven’t received a job offer yet.” Mamoru shook his head as he watched the cat devour his meal. “So I took it out on her. I guess I worried that I would never get employed at this rate. And if she took my savings, I could never pay off that ring she picked out.”

“She will forgive you if you tell her the truth!” Artemis spoke in between bites, eagerly munching the smelly tuna in his bowl. “I’m sure of it!”

“I hope you are right, but I really screwed up big this time.” Mamoru bent down onto his knee and scratched the pet under his chin. “I never thought I’d be taking love advice from a cat!”

“Glad I could help. I’ve been in the doghouse plenty of times myself!” Artemis leaned into the human’s palm, enjoying the nice scratch. “Luna can be quiet the feisty one you know.”

“What about Luna?” the sleek black cat announced as she climbed through the apartment’s open window and plopped herself onto the center of Mamoru’s bed.

“Luna!” Mamoru shouted the cat’s name is surprise. “What are you doing here?”

“I knew you would get upset when the girls surprised you with their suitcases in the driveway.” Luna spoke. “So I wanted to make sure everything was OK between you and Usagi!”

“He made a whole big mess when he dropped them off at the airport!” Artemis confessed. He jumped onto the bed and cuddled up next to her. “It got pretty heated! That was probably the worst argument I’ve ever witnessed them have with one another!”

“Thanks, Artemis.” Mamoru sighed as he took a seat at the foot of his bed next to the cats. “That’s enough.”

“Usagi is foolish and should not have gone on this trip.” Luna turned her chin up to gaze at the saddened young man. “We both warned her that this was a bad idea for many reasons. But as starry-eyed as Usagi can be, taking this spur-of-the-moment vacation is not entirely her fault.”

“What do you mean?” the perplexed human asked the talking cat.

“She had decided not to take your offer when she woke up this morning.” Luna continued. “But Ami unexpectedly showed up at the front door with her bags packed and ready to go before Usagi could return her calls! Ami was acting strange today. In fact, I don’t think I’ve never seen her so emotional. I would never have expected Ami to take the lead on such an impulsive idea, but she fears that when she becomes a doctor, she will never get to see her friends anymore.”

“Usagi shares the same concerns.” Mamoru acknowledged. “She thinks the Sailor Team will drift apart as they grow older and pursue their own individual goals. I tried to convince her it wouldn’t happen, and I’ll always be at her side and no matter what, but I guess it wasn’t enough.”

“Don’t be so down on yourself! She did not want to use your savings, but had no choice because of Ami’s actions!” Luna argued. “She wants that engagement ring you hinted at more than anything else in the world. Trust me, I know! That’s all she ever talks about!”

“Yeah, I believe it.” a hint of a smile cracked on Mamoru’s face. “I should never have doubted her love for me. I hope she finds it in her heart to forgive me.”

“Just call her when the plane lands!” Luna encouraged. “I’m sure she can’t stop thinking about the fight and wants to make up with you already. I feel bad for whoever’s stuck sitting next to her on that long plane ride.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 40

“Twelve... Thirteen... Fourteen....” Casey Jones grunted on his bench press, counting his reps as he pumped a barbell with multiple weighted plates on each end up off of his chest. Heavy metal music was blasting out of a boom-box somewhere within the smelly and disheveled bachelor pad as sweat poured down his face from the rigorous workout. “Fifteen!”

Casey finally dumped the metal bar on the rack over his head after completing his last set. He sat up from the bench and took a swig of an expired sports drink before wiping away his perspiration with a dirty towel.

The vigilante perked up when he noticed out of the corner of his eye that the door to his apartment had cracked open a bit, leaking a bit of light into the studio apartment from the hallway. He slipped off the padded gym equipment and reached for one of the old golf clubs scattered underneath his bed. Casey patted the base of the metal putter in his palm, testing its durability and admiring the grin on his face that he could see in its shiny reflection.

His guest of honor was probably a junkie off the street looking to score some quick cash. A common occurrence in these parts. He threw his body against the wall and waited for the intruder to enter the spare bedroom where he was hiding out of view, ready to surprise this punk and teach him a lesson in pain.

 Crime and violence seemed to follow Casey everywhere he went, but he didn’t mind living in such a dangerous and rundown neighborhood. In fact, he enjoyed it. The traffic wasn’t bad, rent was cheap, and he loved beating up on degenerates like these clowns. Where else in New York could you get all three of those factors? He kept himself busy by cleaning up the local streets from vicious gangs like the purple dragons that even the police were afraid to trifle with. It was the only chance he had to get some action now that he no longer played ice hockey and after the foot-clan’s defeat at the hands of the teenage mutant ninja turtles.

       He listened carefully and heard footsteps creaking on the scratched hardwood floor despite the deafening music still playing in the background. A bulky figure wearing an oversized trench coat and a fedora slowly crossed into the bedroom. Casey descended from his hiding spot and swung his golf-club at the burglar’s head. The intruder immediately drew a three-pronged sai from his belt and caught the putter’s head, preventing it from striking his skull by a matter of inches. A fat green finger jutted out of the trench-coat’s long sleeve and waved back-and-forth right in Casey’s stunned face as the golf-club clattered onto the floor.

“Raph.” the vigilante smirked after the turtle disarmed him. The mutant’s appearance was a pleasant surprise. He would present a much larger challenge over any thug or street rat that would try to rob him. Raphael loved to fight just as much as he did, and if that’s why he came to visit, he’d be more than happy to oblige. He reached into his pocket and cupped a hockey puck into his palm before clapping it into the side of the turtle’s head. “What brings you here?”

“Enough!” Raph shouted as he shoved the human away, throwing him into a dresser crammed with wrinkly clothes.  He rubbed the spot on his head where the puck had struck him while the dazed human gathered his wits. “I didn’t come here to fight you!”

“Oh, come on!” Casey’s hands swiped away empty beer cans and cheap cologne on top of the wooden dresser until his hands found the handle of a baseball bat. He charged at the turtle and swung the bat as if trying to hit a home run in the bottom of the ninth. “I always like to get some cardio in after I lift weights!”

“STOP IT, I’M WARNING YOU!” Raphael’s anger increased as he jumped out of the way and watched the wooden bat smash into the dilapidated wall, adding a decent sized hole to go along with the many scratches and marks that already tarnished it. He felt the negative energy of the onyx crystal swirling within him, begging to come to the surface.

“Steeeee---RIKE one!” the vigilante laughed as they spilled into the adjacent room.

     Casey readied the baseball bat for another swing, but Raphael did not even try to avoid the strike this time. The mutant caught the bat with his meaty green fingers and snapped it in half over his knee, tossing the two shards away before grabbing the vigilante’s throat.

“I... SAID... ENOUGH!!!” Raphael tightened his grip around the man’s throat and hefted him off the floor. His eyes glowed and the familiar feeling of power and authority coursed through his body, filling him with strength. Casey grabbed at the taut grip around his throat and gasped for air.

“RAPH! What the hell, man!” Casey barely got the words out of his mouth as he kicked his legs in desperation. “Let go of me!”

“ERRRRR RAHHH!” Raphael fought against the crystal’s force, slamming his eyes shut as he tossed Casey across his apartment like a rag doll. The human crash landed on top of a coffee table covered with empty pizza boxes and cartons of half eaten Chinese food, which helped break his fall. The table imploded on itself when the man’s heavy body smashed into it. Glass shattered as leftover food, plastic bottles and other miscellaneous items of trash and debris flew across the room from the brutal collision.

Chapter Text

Chapter 41

“Now that’s what I call a good fight!” Casey winced, crawling away from the remains of the shattered coffee table. Blood trickled out of various cuts along his exposed skin as he kept a watchful eye on his friend. “What happened to your eyes back there, bro? You on steroids or something?”

“Nope.” Raphael grimaced from the idiotic joke. He still struggled to suppress the evil essence within him. It remained buried in his gut, burning to return to the surface. “Apparently, one of Shredder’s toys contaminated me.”

“That laser cannon?” Casey Jones blurted out a guess. “It nearly zapped me off my bike at the Technodrome.”

“Good guess, pea brain.” the red masked turtle continued. “A strange crystal powered that gun. When I touched it, not only did it heal my wounds, but it gave me incredible strength.”

“That’s awesome!” the vigilante grinned. “Where can I get my hands on it? I bet that thing would impress a lot of babes. Or I could fetch a pretty penny for it on the black market.”

“Nah, you don’t want it, trust me.” the turtle shook his head in annoyance. “Its energy comes with a hefty price. The crystal’s essence is inside of me like a parasite. When it activates, it clouds my mind with a bunch of dark and evil thoughts. It feeds off my anger and fills me with rage and hatred I’ve never experienced before. I nearly killed Leonardo a couple hours ago.”

“Bummer...”

“And to make matters worse, Shredder possessed the crystal when I kicked his ass through that vortex, which means he is probably still alive and deadlier than ever.”

“Double bummer!”

“But don’t worry Casey, I’ll let you have the crystal if you still want it. We are going to take it back from the Shred Head and use it to save Master Splinter before he dies.”

“And just how are we going to do that?” Casey asked. He was more than happy to help, but did not know how it was possible for them to locate the leader of the foot-clan in some alternate dimension without Donatello’s help. “How can we even find that Tin-Can’s whereabouts?”

“I think I have an idea.” Raphael grinned.

Chapter Text

Chapter 42

“So...” Casey spoke as he and the mutant turtle cleared out a large open space in the middle of the apartment, sweeping away the glass shards and dumping all the trash and debris into a black garbage bag. “Have you seen April lately?”

“Yeah.” Raphael haphazardly grabbed the remnants of the broken table and dumped it all into the bag. “Right before I came here.”

“Did she... happen to say anything about me?”

“Actually, she did.” Raph chortled. “She called you a creep and said don’t bother her no more.”

“Damn it!” Casey swore. He bent a cardboard pizza box and threw it away.

“What happened with you guys now?” Raph prodded, wondering what excuse for his screw-ups he’d have this time.

“Ehh...” Casey shrugged. “I think she mentioned that we had some kind of dating anniversary or something like that. She made a reservation at a fancy Italian joint and I forgot all about it.”

“Hah!” Raph laughed. “Why am I not surprised?”

“The Rangers were playing in game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals that night! I was in a bar with my buddies and got distracted by the game. The place was rocking so loud I didn’t even hear my phone go off.” Casey argued as he recalled the glorious moment of his sport’s fandom. “They won the cup in the second period of overtime on a wrap around goal by Kaapo Kako! It was sick, man! How was I supposed to know she’d get all bent out of shape about it? An anniversary comes along every year, but who knows when the rangers will win another cup! Women just don’t get sports, I tell ya.”

“Well, it’s a good thing you don’t have to worry about her seeing this train wreck of an apartment.” Raphael mocked as he pointed at the massive mess surrounding them. “I think it smells better down in the sewers, then in it does in here.”

“Yeah, this place could definitely use a woman’s touch!” Casey laughed as he removed a slice of pizza from the floor and tossed into a fresh bag. “So what is your plan, anyway?”

“Master Shredder taught me and my brothers all sorts of esoteric ninja stuff over the years. I was only interested in fighting and never really paid much attention to that mumbo jumbo unlike my brother Leo.” Raphael explained. “But I remember Splinter talking about meditation. In one of his lessons I could’ve sworn he said that it is possible for your spirit to transcend space and time if you enter a deep enough state of relaxation.”

“And how is that supposed to help us?” the skeptic vigilante asked as he folded his arms. It sounded like a bunch of nonsense to him as well.

“The crystal’s essence is within me as you witnessed just now.” Raphael squeezed his fist in anger. He desperately wanted to be free of this curse, but did not know if it was even possible at this point. The experiment he had in mind could be very dangerous, especially with his lack of experience in this area of Splinter’s training. “Maybe if I surrender myself to the crystal in meditation, I can have it take me to its source. I can travel to the location where Shredder is hiding and maybe even learn what he is planning.”

     He knew that Leonardo would refuse to allow him to attempt this potentially suicidal mission. Surrendering himself to the crystal could prove to be a catastrophic idea, but he had to give it a shot. He was probably going to end up dead at the end of this curse either way. It was only a matter of time before the evil essence took complete control over him.

Chapter Text

Chapter 43 

        After crying her heart out for several hours, Usagi had drifted asleep in the middle of the never ending flight. Rei stared at her traveling companion with disdain as she curled up in a blanket and pressed the back of her head against the pillow, trying to block out the sound of the girl’s snores. The fiery Rei was so wound up and frustrated that she could not enjoy the flight. And to make matters worse, the medicine that her grandfather had given her wore off and the symptoms of her cold were returning. Her stuffed made it difficult to breathe and her throat was burning as if it was on fire.

         Even though she desperately needed to stretch her legs and use the restroom, she dared not get up from her seat and take the risk of waking up her slumbering friend. She had listened to her carry on about her fight with Mamoru for hours and could not handle the childish whining anymore. It took a lot of restraint to not tell Usagi that she agreed with Mamoru. It was selfish of her to borrow hard earned money that he had set aside for their future so she could go gallivanting in New York City with her friends. It was tempting to tell Usagi that she should have just stayed home, but that would’ve made things a lot worse. Managing finances was a very important factor in relationships and situations like this often led to breakups. Although she didn’t think Mamoru would end their relationship over this, Usagi’s immaturity may wear him out. But despite that, she knew Mamoru would calm down eventually and forgive her. She, on the other hand, did not possess his immense patience. If Yuuichirou ever borrowed her savings and pulled a stunt like this, that would be the end of him!

 The more she sat there, the angrier she became at Usagi and the rest of the girls for accompanying her on this trip. This summer was supposed to be her time to get some real-world experience, paving her planned career path as an international businesswoman. She wanted to prove to herself that she didn’t need anyone’s help whether it be her grandfather, Yuuichirou, or even her best friends in order to succeed. Hopefully, they would find enough distractions in the city to keep themselves busy and the next two weeks would go by quickly.

This flight was slowly turning into the longest and most miserable ride of her life. She checked her wristwatch and noticed that she had a couple of hours left before the plane would land, but even that felt like an eternity from now. When she glanced back up, she spotted Ami Mizuno walking down the aisle, heading in her direction.

     Ami stopped by their seats for a quick hello, but Rei shot her a sharp look, silencing the timid girl before could even open her mouth for a warm greeting. Rei gestured at the snoring Usagi, frantically waving a warning for Ami not to utter a single word. Ami got the message and continued down the aisle towards the restroom. A hint of sadness crossed her face as she distanced herself from her two companions. She could tell in that moment that Rei was not all that pleased with her. Doubt and insecurity crept back into her mind. Maybe this was a bad idea after all. She wanted this trip to bring her friends closer together, but now she worried that if it turns into a disaster, the vacation could bring about the end of their friendships even sooner than she feared, and it would be her fault.

Chapter Text

Chapter 44:

“Wake up! Wake up!” the cheerful Usagi’s high-pitched voice rang into Rei’s ears as she seized hold of her shoulders and gave her a sudden shake, snapping her out of the nap she had slipped into a short time ago. “We are here!”

       Rei blinked her eyes open to find her friend hovering over her with a bright smile stretched across her face. The excitement of finally arriving in New York must have temporarily clouded over her sadness from the fight with Mamoru. She let out a loud yawn and noticed passengers grabbing their belongings out of the overhead storage bins and slowly making their way off the plane in single file. Although she was glad that this wretched journey was finally over, she did not want to get out of her seat. The symptoms of the cold had left her feeling sluggish once again.

She had to start her first day of the internship early the next morning but did not know how in the world she would have the energy to make it between her illness, jetlag and the nuisance of Usagi Tsukino and the others accompanying her. Despite these obstacles, she had the determination to make it work.

The plane was empty by time Usagi and Rei had gathered up their bags and got off the plane. The tired flight attendants sighed in relief as the last two travelers made their exit at long last. They caught up with Ami and Makoto at the baggage claim area, standing by the round conveyor belt while they waited for their suitcases to tumble down the shoot and onto the rotating ring below.

“Are you all right?” Makoto asked after she noticed Rei standing there in her pink overalls with a frown crossing her flushed face. “You don’t look so good.”

“I’m fine.” Rei stated with a hint of attitude in her tone. She covered her nose with a tissue and blew into it, trying to clear the annoying blockage.

“If you are not feeling well...” Ami dropped her backpack to the floor and rummaged through one of the smaller pouches. “I think I may have some lozenges, or...”

“I SAID I AM FINE!” Rei barked, although she could desperately use some medicine to help soothe her sore throat.

“Where is Minako?” Usagi tried to stop her friends from bickering any further by changing the subject. “I did not see her the whole flight!”

“Oh, you won’t believe what happened to her.” Makoto shook her head. “She’s so lucky!”

“Tell me!” Usagi perked up.

“The airline overbooked this flight.” the meek Ami avoided Rei’s sharp gaze as she spoke.  “So they upgraded her to first class.”

“FIRST CLASS!” Rei gasped in complete disbelief, unable to hide the jealously in her voice. Minako got to spend the last twelve hours all alone, getting pampered with plenty of legroom in a comfortable pod while she was being tortured by the over emotional Usagi in a tight window seat. Minako should have offered to switch with her, at the very least. It would’ve been the right thing to do for surprising her on the flight like this. If it wasn’t for her taking this internship, none of them would be here right now. What she would’ve done to have a first-class ticket, without Usagi pestering her.

“I’m just glad I had time to catch up on my reading. Did you know that we humans share 92 percent of our genes with mice? That is why scientists commonly use them to conduct studies and tests.” Ami slung the textbook laden backpack over her shoulders in an effort to distract her friends from the news. Maybe she should have spoken up and asked if Rei could have the seat instead of Minako, even though that is technically against the airline’s protocol. If she had known that Rei had a severe cold, then she would have gone above and beyond to help her feel better. She saw the disappointment and fury burning in Rei’s dark eyes. They had just deplaned, and things were already getting off to an inauspicious start.

“HOW LUCKY!” Usagi ignored her friend’s facts. She wrapped an arm around Rei and squeezed her close. “But who needs first class? Nobody is more fortunate than us, right Rei? I still can’t believe I got to sit next to you! I wouldn’t trade that for anything!”

“Of course.” Rei spoke sarcastically as she shrugged away from her friend.

“Hey everyone!” Minako shouted as she raced over to the meeting point. Rei noticed how refreshed and energetic she looked. You could not tell that she had just been on such a long flight. Her long blonde hair and makeup and remained pristine, as if she had just gotten ready for a night out. She wore a cute, yet comfortable outfit that she looked amazing in, unlike Rei who felt like a total mess standing there in her ugly overalls with a runny nose and messy hair.  “Sorry, about that!”

 “Where have you been?” Makoto asked as she grabbed her duffle bag from the conveyor belt and dumped it onto the floor. “We’ve all been waiting for you!”

“I was just saying goodbye to this cute guy I met on the plane.” Minako giggled. “He was about to board a connecting flight to Florida, so I escorted him to the gate. It’s too bad he won’t be in New York City the same time as us, but I gave him my number anyway!”

“Not fair!” Usagi laughed. “I wish I got to meet him too, now that I may be single again...”

“Don’t worry, Usagi!” Minako smiled as she clasped her hands together in anticipation of the fun they were bound to have on this trip. “I am determined to find a boyfriend on this trip! I can help you get one too if you’d like! There will be plenty of more hotties for us to talk to here in New York!”

“Oh, I was just kidding.” the pigtailed girl’s face became more serious. “I just want my Mamo to take me back! I need to call him as soon as we get to the hotel and try to reason with him. What should I say? Do you think he will forgive me?”

“Here we go again...” Rei shook her head in annoyance.

“So how was first class?” the athletic Makoto asked as she hefted more of the group’s luggage from the belt.

“Oh, it was amazing!” Minako’s blue eyes lit up. “Those twelve hours just flew right by! The dinner was incredible they even gave me an ice cream sundae for dessert and...”

“LET’S GO ALREADY!” Rei interrupted, not in the mood to hear any more about first class experience as she tugged on the handle of her suitcase. She spotted an exit sign and headed in that direction, leaving her friends behind without looking back.

Chapter Text

Chapter 45:

Rei wheeled her luggage through an automatic door and the stepped outside, pausing on the paved cement for a moment to take in her first glimpse of America. What a dream come true! She had finally made it to the Big Apple! It was just past 10 P.M. but herds of people from all over the world were still making their way in and out of the hectic airport. Impatient drivers beeped their horns relentlessly as their cars crawled down the service road in a sea of red taillights. Her first impression of the city was that it appeared just as bustling as Tokyo, but it was very strange at the same time. It all seemed so foreign to her and was a bit overwhelming. She opened up her well-organized backpack and pulled out a folder containing information about her internship as the other girls caught up. She ignored them for the moment, running a finger down the cover sheet of her packet until she located the address to her hotel.

 “Do you ladies need a taxi?” a bearded man asked as he pointed to his marked yellow van.

“Yes.” Rei showed him the paper with the hotel’s location. “Can you take us here, please?”

“Times Square, huh?” he nodded as he opened the trunk and piled up their baggage. “That’s about an hour ride from Kennedy airport if the traffic is light, just to give you a head’s up.”

        The girls crammed themselves into the minivan and stared out the window for the duration of the ride. They clapped in joy as they passed over the Brooklyn bridge and got a closer look at the New York skyline, spotting the twinkling lights of the Freedom tower, the Empire state building and other iconic skyscrapers in the distance. Their excitement intensified when they arrived at Times Square. Even though it was nearly midnight, countless tourists and residents alike were out walking up and down the brightly lit streets. Usagi pressed her face against the glass, her eyes wide as she took in all the electronic billboards and colorful displays that surrounded them.

“Here you are, ladies.” The cab driver turned off the avenue and onto a narrow side street where he squeezed into a parking spot between two other cars. He exited the vehicle and slid open the door to let his passengers out of the van.

“Wait, this is it?” Rei asked as she looked at the plain-looking building and then back down at her papers to reconfirm the name and address of the hotel. “There has to be some kind of mistake.”

“Nope.” The driver shook his head as he unloaded their luggage. He pointed his fingers as at a broken neon sign hanging over one of the windows on the first floor. Only a handful of the letters were properly visible. Two of them were blinking and one had even fallen off the sign completely. They had been looking for the SUNSET INN, but you could hardly make out the name. “That’s the address you gave me.”

She paid him with cash and entered the building as the taxi pulled away. It was indeed a hotel, but not at all what she envisioned. She was not expecting to have a five-star luxury accommodation, but this was lodging was beyond primitive and looked no better than a cheap hostel!

“Rei Hino, checking in.” the disappointed Rei announced as she slammed her passport onto the counter to get the attention of a nerdy-looking receptionist who was half asleep. “I am a Channel 6 News Intern.”

“Welcome to the Sunset Inn.” the disinterested employee took an old key, hung up on the wooden shelf behind him and tossed it over without even bothering to check her credentials. “5th floor, room 502.”

“Okay.” Rei caught the key and took her identification back, securing it in her one of her bags. “Which way to the elevator.”

“Hah!” The lone employee chortled. “There’s no elevator here miss, take those steps on your left all the way up to your room!”

“Can you please summon a bellhop to help carry my things upstairs?” the aggravated girl dropped all of her belongings to the floor, too tired to hold them any longer. There was no way she could lug everything up five stories. “I’ve had a really long day.”

“Nope, we don’t provide that service here.” he shrugged. “Sorry lady, but you must do it yourself!”

“WHAT?” Rei screamed despite her scratchy throat. The man’s poor attitude really struck a nerve. “This is an outrage! I demand to speak with the manger!”

“He’s not here.” The pimply faced receptionist smirked. “And won’t be in till morning.”

“Don’t worry about your things, Rei.” Makoto yanked her angry friend away from the desk before she could argue any further. “I’ll help you!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 46

Rei’s dissatisfaction only increased after she climbed to the fifth floor and entered through the door of her tiny hotel room. Two people could barely live here comfortably, let alone five girls! How were they all going to co-exist in this wretched place for two weeks? There was no way this was going to work! She silently prayed that there were no bedbugs or roaches living here amongst them, but threw herself onto the single bed, regardless. The cot was hers to sleep on no matter what, and she was not giving it up. Everyone else would have to find a spot to sleep on the floor and take their chances.

“Where’s my phone?” Usagi wailed as she barged into the cramped quarters with Ami and Minako following right behind her. She opened her backpack and held it upside down, frantically dumping all of its contents onto the bed. “I could’ve sworn it was in here!”

“Do you have to do this now?” Rei sat up and watched the distressed Usagi scan through the clutter she created. “I want to go to bed!”

“It has to be here somewhere!” Usagi ignored Rei’s pleas as she ran her fingers through the scattered items, hoping to locate her lost device. “I just want to call my Mamo and let him know I’m okay and that I miss him already and that I am sorry and that I didn’t mean what I said to him and that I would never question his love for me!”

“Maybe you put it in your suitcase by mistake?” Ami mentioned as she searched through the empty pockets of Usagi’s backpack to no avail.

“Hmm...that’s possible!” the desperate Usagi hefted her suitcase onto the bed and zipped it open, throwing all of her once neatly folded clothes all over the tiny room as she dug for her missing phone.

“Stop it!” Rei snapped as she removed a t-shirt that landed on top of her head. “You are making a big mess!” 

But Usagi did not listen, taking everything out of her luggage until it was completely empty with no phone in sight. Shirts, skirts, socks and other items fell all over the miniscule dwelling, littering the dirty rug.

“Wait, I think I know what may have happened!” Minako interrupted. “Remember when you bumped into that guy while we were running to the gate? Your phone could have easily slipped out of your backpack without you even noticing it!”

“Oh, no!” Usagi’s eyes watered as she realized that Minako’s guess was most likely correct. “What am I going to do now?”

“Here!” the increasingly annoyed Rei shoved her phone into Usagi’s hands. “Just call him with mine!”

“Umm...” Usagi muttered as she glanced down at Rei’s device. “Do you still have his number stored?”

“No, I don’t think so.” Rei’s face reddened. Everyone knew that she had gone on a few dates with Mamoru years ago, but she had removed his number from her contacts list out of respect for Usagi when they started dating. “You mean to tell me you don’t know it off-hand?”

“Not all the numbers!” Usagi shook her head in embarrassment. “I can try to guess them...”

“Unbelievable! It’s almost impossible to be that dense, even for you!” the aghast Rei smacked her forehead. “You’ve been together for how many years now?”

“Why must you be so mean?” the flustered Usagi cried. “I stored the number in my phone!”

“How did you manage to memorize his credit card number?” Ami asked which lead to Minako bursting into laughter.

“I do a lot of online shopping!” Usagi tried to make up any excuse for her stupidity.

“Do you know his email?” Makoto asked. “You can write him a nice letter.”

“That’s a great idea!” Usagi cheered up as she played with Rei’s phone to compose an email. “What should I write?”

“Just do it in the morning!” Rei took the pillow from behind her head and whacked Usagi with it, knocking the phone out of her hands. “It’s time to go to bed everyone!”

“PILLOW FIGHT!” the over excited Usagi screamed at the top of her lungs as she grabbed for another pillow and slammed it against Minako’s back.

“That’s enough!” Rei shouted, immediately regretting her actions. She tried to get them to stop them, but it was too late. Feathers were flying out of the busted cushions as they giggled from the playful battle. All she wanted to do was get some rest so she would be ready to start the internship in the morning, but Usagi and the others were so thrilled to be in New York that sleep was the furthest thing on their minds despite the grueling flight they were just on.

Chapter Text

Chapter 47:

Mamoru’s eyes shot wide open after hearing the familiar jingle of his ringtone sounding off from within one of the pockets on his green coat slung over a chair in the kitchen. He assumed that Usagi’s plane had just landed, and she was calling to let him know that she was okay despite their quarrel. The clingy young woman never let much time pass before speaking with him, even when upset.  Mamoru haphazardly flipped the sheets off of his body, covering the two cats that had also been sleeping peacefully by his feet as he kicked his legs out of the bed and scrambled to get to his phone before the call went to voicemail.

He had struggled to fall asleep until the late hours of the night, tossing and turning under the sheets as he ran through what words to say in order to make amends. Thankfully, there were no interviews scheduled for today, so it did not matter that he had overslept. All he wanted to do was apologize to his girlfriend and wish her a pleasant trip. They could discuss their future when she returned home.

“Usagi!” Mamoru shouted into the phone after accepting the call just in time. He was glad that he could finally get the chance to talk to her after that restless night.

The cats fought their way out of the blankets and watched as a bewildered expression suddenly appeared on Mamoru’s face. He held the phone to his ear, nodding his head in enthusiasm as he spoke, but they did not hear the high-pitched squealing of Usagi on the other end of the line. Instead, he seemed to talk with some unknown man.

“Who was that?” the curious Luna asked once the human had concluded the brief conversation.

“I received a job offer.” the stunned Mamoru responded as if he could not believe what just happened. “The company wants me to start working as soon as tomorrow.”

“Congratulations! “Artemis raised his chin. “Do your best!”

“I will, thank you.” Mamoru sat back down on his bed and gave the white cat a scratch behind his ears, but he did not appear happy despite receiving a coveted offer of employment. 

“Now is the perfect time for you to call Usagi.” Luna hopped onto his lap trying to cheer him up, but she knew that his mood would not improve until after Usagi forgave him. “Apologize to her already and tell her the good news.”

“You are right.” Mamoru fumbled with his phone as he dialed his girlfriend. “She will be so happy to hear this, perhaps she will forget that our fight even happened.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 48

“What’s wrong?” Luna the cat asked as the disgusted human shoved the phone back into his coat pocket after trying in vain to contact his girlfriend for most of the early morning. This should be a time of peace with all the evil forces in the galaxy defeated. The reincarnated forms of the moon princess and prince of earth could be together at long last, but the black cat kept having to meddle in Usagi’s relationship because of her immaturity. She could hardly blame her this time for overreacting to Mamoru’s behavior, but she was getting tired of the fighting. Why must these humans constantly get into petty squabbles?

“She’s not picking up.” Mamoru let out a deep sigh. He took a seat next to the feline and covered his face with both hands as guilt and shame plagued his mind. “I’ve left a couple of voicemails and sent her several text messages, but she has not responded.”

“Don’t despair!” the hopeful Artemis remarked. “Maybe the plane hasn’t even landed yet.”

“I checked. The fight arrived in New York hours ago.” he shook his head in grief and ran his fingers through his fine black hair. “She must be furious with me.”

“Even if that’s true.” Luna spoke up. “Usagi loves you very much. I’m sure she will calm down. Just be patient!”

“Not after what I said.” Mamoru glanced at the cats with a look of despair. “I don’t deserve her love after the way I treated her at the airport.”

“Just keep trying to call her until she answers!” Artemis suggested.

“No, I can’t do that.” Mamoru stood back up and walked over to his closet to select a suit for his first day of work tomorrow morning. He wished Usagi was there to help him pick one out. She would be so excited and probably tear everything out of his closet until she found the perfect tie and dress shirt to compliment his outfit.  “I will give her some space and wait until she reaches back out to me.”

“But what if she doesn’t?” the white cat asked.

“Then our relationship may really be over.” He grabbed a suit hanging on the rack and prepared to iron the first dress shirt and pair of slacks he got his hands on without paying attention to the style. The apartment felt silent and empty despite the chatty cats trying to lift his mood. Maybe this hollow feeling is what Usagi experienced when he went to study abroad all those months? He felt terrible about his rash of selfish decisions over the years. Perhaps he had taken Usagi for granted somewhere along the way. It was too late for him to take back any of his actions, and now he may have pushed Usagi away for the last time at the airport. Maybe it was his destiny to be alone forever as punishment for ruining the best thing to ever happen to him.

Chapter Text

Chapter 49:

Yuuichirou wiped beads of sweat away from his forehead with the white sleeves of his uniform as he swept up the grounds of the Hikawa shrine, clearing up the stony path for tourists, worshippers or whoever else may wander here. The tall trees surrounding the serene temple did little to protect him from the blistering heat of the humid summer day. He angrily shooed away a bunch of lingering crows with his broom, letting them fly over the red torii gate and into the foliage beyond. Sweeping up and maintaining the grounds was usually Rei’s job. He gladly took over her tasks when she left for the University, patiently awaiting the end of the school year. The apprentice rejoiced when she had finally returned to the shrine after nine grueling months, but in the blink of an eye she left home once again. Doing her chores only added to his heartache and longing by reminding him she was no longer present.

       There was plenty of work to do today, between burning the unlucky fortunes, collecting the donations and preparing talismans for the new year, yet the frustrated apprentice could not seem to focus on his long list of duties. The visage of the beautiful maiden Rei was on his mind as always, even though she was currently thousands of miles away from the secluded shrine. Yuuichirou leaned the broom back against a wall as he spotted the short and stout high priest sitting in the meditation room. He peered in before quietly slipping towards his quarters at the back of the temple, tiptoeing past the old man without making a single sound.

He eyed the two cell phones that remained atop his dresser once he made it back to his dwelling. The one with a boring black case was his; the other sported a pink cover drowned out with girly stickers. It belonged to Rei’s clumsy friend, Usagi Tsukino, who had dropped it while hurrying to catch the plane to New York. He still could not believe that the four girls could accompany his beloved on her journey while she forced him to work the entire summer. He wanted nothing more than to be there at Rei’s side to support her academic endeavors, despite the tough resistance she put up. The headstrong young lady refused his help, eager to prove to the world that she was independent and capable of accomplishing anything she set her mind to on her own.

Of course he believed in Rei and admired these admirable attributes she possessed, but his love for her was so deep that he couldn’t bear to be so far apart, especially after waiting so long for her to return from a long semester at the University. Her reaction when he surprised her at the gate gave him a sliver of hope that maybe she wouldn’t have minded having him there In New York with her, even if she’d never admit it. He would have waited on her hand and foot, doing everything in his power to help Rei do her best. Usagi, on the other hand, was going to do nothing but cause her trouble. The fact that the pesky girl was in New York City with Rei right now while he remained stuck here with the demanding old man made him quiver with resentment.

    The pink phone continued to chime as it had been doing all morning, while his own phone remained eerily silent. He kept running back to his room every chance he could get to see if there was any word from Rei, but the only phone with activity was the pink one. An irritated scowl formed on his face as he picked up Usagi’s device and noticed that she had yet another missed call from her boyfriend, Mamoru. He was probably worried sick about her by now. Maybe he should call him back and let him know that Usagi had lost her phone. It was clearly the right thing to do.

But then he picked up his own phone, which had no new notifications. Rei had not even bothered to send him a single text so far, while Usagi’s boyfriend had been trying so desperately to reach out to her. Jealously coursed through his veins as he squeezed the phone in his hands, nearly breaking its glass screen. If he had to wait to hear from his girlfriend, then Mamoru Chiba could continue to wait as well! He threw the pink phone into an open drawer and slammed it shut, tired of hearing the annoying ringtone.

Why wasn’t Rei contacting him? Maybe she has already forgotten about him. Did she already meet another man? Was she lost or possibly in danger? Would she ever come back home or stay in New York forever? Would he ever get that kiss she promised him? These insecure thoughts circulated in his mind, filling him with a mix of jealously, anxiety and despair, and there was nothing he could about it.

“Hey, boy!” the wiry old man’s voice thundered into his bedroom. He jabbed a wrinkly finger at the youth’s chest and furrowed his bushy gray eyebrows in anger as he raised his voice. “How many times do I have to tell you that there is no phone allowed during work hours!”

“Sorry, I was just checking to see if Rei sent me a message!” Yuuichirou jumped so high in surprise after being caught red-handed by the chief priest that he nearly bumped his head into the ceiling. “Have you heard from her yet by any chance?”

“We need more wooden wishing plaques! CHOP! CHOP!” the old man ignored the question as a scowl formed on his weathered face. “It is your responsibility to make sure that we are well stocked, but I noticed that there are none left! You are so lazy and neglectful and it’s costing me... I mean the temple... lots of money! You won’t get to see my precious granddaughter again if I decide to FIRE you! “

“Yes sir, understood!” Yuuichirou scrambled out of his room and got back to work, but Rei remained on his mind.

Chapter Text

Chapter 50:

      Leonardo blinked his eyes open from under his blue mask after several hours of deep meditation in the center of the disheveled training hall, surrounded by torn scrolls, shattered ceramic jars and a clutter of weapons that had fallen off of their racks during his deadly brawl with Raphael. He took one last breath before he stood up from the mat and limped his battered body way back through the dark and grimy tunnel towards their hideout. The sewers were eerily quiet, except for the persistent dripping of leaky pipes and the occasional chirp of a rat scavenging the slimy crevices for scraps of food.

Their friend April O’Neil was long gone and must have returned to the surface world some time ago to go about her hectic life. He assumed that Donnie and Michelangelo were out doing their own thing elsewhere, too concerned with satisfying their own personal interests then to bother training for Shredder’s return.

 Raphael was still missing as expected and was probably still under the control of that onyx crystal which had given him immense strength, but also corrupted his mind with sinister thoughts of violence and bloodshed. The rude one had abandoned his brothers to meet-up with the vigilante Casey Jones in a futile attempt to track their archenemy.

       Shredder was last seen trapped in some alternate dimension. There was no way Raph could locate him, but he would not listen even if he tried to dissuade his brother. He understood that Raphael only wanted to help save their master’s life by getting the Onyx Crystal from Shredder, but he should not have let him slip away so easily knowing how dangerous that mysterious fragment is. The onyx crystal had cursed his sibling and proved to be from a source of pure evil. Surely no good could come from it, despite its healing properties. Raphael was now a clear and present danger, not only to himself and the rest of the turtles, but to the entire population of New York City.  

He had failed both his brother and his Sensei by allowing the rogue mutant to run off. Whatever plan he was concocting with Casey was likely to end in disaster and could get them both killed. Their blood would be on his green hands if that were to happen.

 He should have stopped him from leaving when he had the chance, but Raphael had gotten the better of him in combat and had broken his spirit. He struggled to defeat his brother in a fair fight, but knew he stood no chance against him now, thanks to the crystal’s enchantment. Raphael’s defiance led to the other turtles ignoring their leader’s orders, making him doubt his ability to direct the band of ninjas. How could be he a genuine leader if the other guys did not respect his authority and obey his commands? They were a fractured group without their master’s guidance, and he did not know what to do next. Meditation had not provided him with any answers. He desperately needed advice from Splinter on how to proceed.

Chapter Text

Chapter 51

        Master Splinter remained on his cot, wheezing for breath as he slept under a barrage of blankets. Leonardo slowly approached and knelt beside his sensei, grabbing one of his furry hands. His teacher’s wounds appeared to be healing, but his overall condition did not seem to improve despite his earlier optimism. What if Raph was right and the ninja sensei really was dying?

“What should I do, Master?” Leonardo asked the slumbering rat, knowing that he would not get a response. He wanted nothing more than to tell Splinter all that transpired after their daring rescue and about the mysterious Onyx Crystal, but it was not possible in his current state. Sensei was deteriorating before his very eyes, and he felt completely helpless. What had Shredder done to him? If only he could find a doctor or someone to examine Splinter, maybe they would get some answers... No, that was impossible. April and Casey were the only civilians allowed down here, and even that was risky.

“One day I will be gone....” Master Splinter’s raspy voice echoed inside Leonardo’s head as he remembered one of the many lessons Splinter had taught him over the years. “It will fall on you to carry on the traditions of my art... when I am no longer with you on this earth...”

“It would be my honor.” the anguished Leonardo repeated the words as he bowed his head and squeezed his resting master’s hands.

“But always remember one thing...” He remembered Splinter raising a hairy finger to emphasize the importance of his next message. “Family comes first and foremost... the four of you must fight together as one. Never stray apart despite your many differences. The surface world may never fully accept you, but you will always have each other no matter what happens... Rely on that, especially in hard times... Do you understand?”

 “Yes.” Leonardo nodded, overwhelmed with sorrow as he glanced at the sickly rat. “I understand now.”

    Leonardo stood back up on his feet with renewed conviction. It was up to him to rally his brothers together and rid Raphael of that curse. He had to protect his unruly brother from himself, whether he liked it or not. Splinter was right, family was the most important thing in life, and he would find a way not only to unite his brothers and take out Shredder but also heal his master without the use of that damned crystal. There was only one major concern on his mind as he glanced down at his ailing master. Time could be a very dangerous enemy, and it was running out.

 END OF ACT 2

Chapter Text

SAILOR MOON X TMNT: TURTLES AND THE HARE

ACT 3: BIG APPLE, 3 AM

Chapter 52

“Are you sure this is going to work?” the skeptical Casey Jones asked his mutant buddy as he tied up the ends of another heavy black trash bag and tossed it on top of a pile of garbage by the apartment’s scuffed up door. “And what is my role in all this exactly?”

They could spend hours cleaning up the place, but now was not the time. The cluttered bachelor pad still looked like a bomb had exploded on the inside, with plenty of dirty clothes strewn about the couch and countless mugs and dishes stacked up in the sink, but it was still a vast improvement over the way it looked an hour or so ago. The ninja turtle wasn’t here to be Casey’s maid. He was there to save his master, and every second that passed meant that Splinter was drifting closer to death.

     “We will find out soon enough.” Raphael shrugged as he took a seat on the stained hardwood floor. They had discarded the remnants of the broken coffee table. Its broken shards of glass swept away, clearing up a large space in the center of the studio necessary for his plan. This dump of an apartment sort of reminded him of the dojo back in the sewers, which was probably also in ruins after his fight with Leo. “Standby and pay attention. If this actually works, I will report what I see. Write everything you hear me say in case I don’t make it back.”

“What should I do if something happens to you?” the befuddled Casey grabbed a notepad. “I don’t know nothin’ about this bizzaro ninja stuff. Are you sure you want to do this without Leonardo and the rest of your brothers?”

“Don’t worry about me!” Raphael shot him a threatening glance at the very mention of his brothers. “Just do your damn job!”

The ninja turtle closed his eyes and tried to relax. He aimed to activate the dormant essence of the evil crystal within him, so he started recalling various memories from his youth including, squabbles with his brothers and disagreements with Splinter. Various arguments and fights floated through his mind’s eye, but nothing seemed to change. This was harder than he thought it would be. Perhaps the crystal would only awaken in times he expressed raw emotion and he couldn’t simply force it out.

“Damn it!” the frustrated Raphael muttered under his breath after several minutes of making no progress. The onyx crystal had shown no sign of manifesting itself, despite reliving disappointing times from his past. Maybe he was no longer cursed, but it was more likely that his foolhardy plan was setup to fail from the beginning due to his lack of experience in this practice. “It’s not working!”

    Part of him wanted to give up. This was utterly hopeless. He could not focus on a simple task that Leonardo could perform with ease. That is why their master chose Leo as leader. Splinter always stressed that ninjutsu was not always about physical strength and fighting prowess. There were other aspects of the art that he had ignored for most of his life. Mixed emotions of grief and guilt swam through him as he felt the crystal’s power stirred within his soul.

“Free your mind of all thought...” Splinter’s words of wisdom from a lesson long ago sounded in his head. “Nothing else exists in this present moment. Let it all go...”

This time he heeded his sensei’s words, and eventually he saw the blurry visage of his furry master standing before him in his pink robe, shaking his head at the rebellious turtle in disapproval. Raphael never saw the value of meditation, and always blew off his master when he tried to stress its importance, yet ironically here he was now trying to recall those lessons to help save his very life.

“This is a part of your training, Raphael.” Splinter’s voice echoed in his head. “A true ninja must harness the power of his mind, body and spirit.They work together as one.”

“I don’t care about any of this crap...” a younger version of the red masked turtle barked back at his sensei. “This stuff doesn’t work! It’s all useless! I want to learn to fight!“

“You will understand the meaning of my words in time.” the patient rat muttered as he turned away from his student and limped away on his wooden cane into a black void, disappearing from sight. “My... son...”

“Forgive me!” the guilt-stricken Raphael shouted as he reached out with his green hands. He had failed his master in more ways than he could count over the years. His anger, jealousy and impatience always overshadowed his technical skill and superior physical ability. He always resented his sensei for not appreciating him, but now he understood why after seeing the disrespectful way he had treated him in this flashback. “Splinter... come back... I’m sorry... for everything!”

“Splinter is a FOOL.... he NEVER respected your true might as a warrior!” The turtle felt the sinister presence of the onyx crystal awakening within him, bringing dark thoughts within his subconscious to the forefront. His body shimmered with the fragment’s power, emitting a purple hue of pure evil. “You don’t need him... or your pathetic siblings!”

“No...” The words stung Raphael as if someone had stabbed him in the chest with a sai. 

“Splinter was protecting them from you...” the deep and demonic voice of the crystal’s force continued. “He cast you aside because he could not control you as he could the others. He FEARED you... and your raw talents...”

“That’s not true!” Raphael squeezed his eyes and clamped his mouth shut as the evil energy awoke within, slowly spreading throughout his entire body. He wanted to scream at the top of his lungs and resist the evil spirit, but forced himself to go against his instinct and surrendered himself to the will of the mysterious energy until it completely consumed him to the point that his body was shimmering with a dark aura of pure malice.

“Come to me...” the wicked energy thundered into his brain. “Submit yourself to MY will...”

“Umm.... Raph! You okay?” Casey Jones backed away in fear, reaching for a loose golf-club on his ratty couch as a portal spread before the meditating turtle, sucking his very soul into a foreign realm of its source. The turtle’s plan appeared to be working so far, but would he have the strength to resist the crystal from taking complete control?

Chapter Text

Chapter 53

Raphael spun into an empty void containing nothing but darkness. Long gone was Casey’s apartment and vanished were the tall skyscrapers of New York City. He thought he might be dead for a moment until stars twinkled around him as if a light switch had just flipped on. What started out as a few sparkling white dots quickly became thousands and then hundreds of thousands, if not millions of tiny orbs illuminating the space. In a matter of moments, the brightness of the fantastic nebula became so intense that he could hardly see what lied in front of him.

     Then he realized that he was not in this strange place by a physical sense. A ghostly spirit left his body behind, drifting into this strange dimension through a wormhole. An ethereal form of himself, powered by the onyx crystal, floated down towards a battered planet, taking him across a rough landscape riddled with craters until a massive palace came into view in the distance, peaking over the flat terrain.

“What is this place?” he wondered as he spotted an ominous red cloud swirling above the fantastic citadel. Could that strange entity possibly be the origin of the crystal’s power?

“Soon you will learn...” The surging evil within his body had seemed to read his thoughts. “And then I shall grant you powers beyond your imagination to bring about the destruction of those who have wronged you...”

The palace was much larger than he had expected, but it had clearly seen its better days. Boulders and large clumps of broken stone and marble littered the outer perimeter. Parts of the roof had collapsed upon itself, reduced to crumbled piles of dusty stone and debris. There were no inhabitants or any other signs of activity on this strange planet that he could see. The ruined castle and its surrounding metropolis appeared dead, completely void of any life for centuries until he circled around the enormous castle and saw proof that he was not alone in this desolate wasteland.

A fully restored Technodrome came into view, blocking off the dazzling stars behind it. The metallic battle station rest atop of the dusty ground just outside the palace, armed to the teeth with shiny cannons and other deadly weapons just waiting for deployment. The magic of the crystal must be able to not only heal wounds, but it could apparently restore complex machinery as well. What couldn’t it do? The eye atop the spherical base seemed to watch him as his shadow flowed through an open window and into the immense fortress.

“The Supreme Evil Queen Metalia grows impatient. She thirsts for the life-giving energy of humans to bring about the destruction of this planet!” a beautiful woman spoke as she glanced at the swirling fog overhead. Her sinister voice echoed off the walls of the chamber as thunder rumbled within the strange entity, followed by blinding flashes of red lightning that lit up the castle’s interior through the gaping hole in its roof.

She sat atop a throne wearing a purple dress with wild red hair the same color of his mask that flowed down to the small of her back. In her slender hands she held a silver-staff with the onyx crystal as it’s capstone. The fragment let out a piercing light, pulling his spirit toward it like a magnet. Raphael desperately tried his best to fight it, as if he was swimming against a strong ocean current.

 “What is your strategy to satisfy her needs, my Heavenly King?” The mysterious lady did not seem to detect his presence as she stood from her seat and approached an intruder who entered through the grand door of the hall.

“Shredder...” Raphael spat out his archenemy’s name with disdain as he spotted the leader of the foot-clan approaching the gorgeous sorceress. His metal boots clopped along the faded rug covering the marble floor while his long cape fluttered behind him. He carried a scroll in his gauntleted hands and spread it out across the top of the stone altar in the center of the chamber. The dimwitted mutants Bebop and Rocksteady trailed behind their boss, carrying an advanced weapon prototype along with a large contingency of the uniformed foot-clan. They formed a wide circle around the pairing and stood at attention, awaiting his orders.

“My lead scientist Baxter Stockman has been working around the clock to design this new technology to extract human energy from the pathetic scum of New York. The new weapon systems you see before you are now ready for deployment by my foot soldiers!” Oroku Saki gestured at the parchment, which appeared to be a map of New York City, along with some pictures. “I have chosen two small targets for our first strike, and I am sure that you will be very pleased with the results once we are successful in carrying out this mission.”

“I SEE.... AN ORANGE BOAT...” Raphael screamed as he floated dangerously close to Shredder and this mysterious ally, hopeful that Casey could somehow hear him in the physical realm. “AND.... A LION STATUE?”

“Excellent work. I shall reward you with all that you desire and so much more, my Heavenly King.” Queen Beryl winked seductively after a short laugh. “I look forward to the day when we both rule over the destruction razed by the Supreme Evil... together as equals!”

“This is just a small taste of what I have in store.” Shredder grinned at the lady. “My ultimate target will pale in comparison to these petty test runs. Just you wait and see!”

“Metalia and I are grateful for your efforts, Master Shredder. Allow me to give you a token of our appreciation.” Beryl’s face turned serious as she gripped her staff and pointed it at the ethereal shadow hanging over her. “I promised to help you destroy your enemies, and I have lured one of them here just for you!”

“Uh oh...” Raphael swore as the witch locked onto him. Turns out she was probably aware of his presence all along. He had fallen right into a trap and there was no way he could escape it. She raised her staff, letting the onyx fragment shimmer brightly until it fired a laser beam at his chest. The force wrapped around the turtle like an electrical whip. A pain unlike anything he had ever experienced coursed through his body, which slowly materialized into this dimension.

“AHHH!!” the mutant turtle screamed in pain as the onyx crystal’s force assailed his body and everything went black once again.

Chapter Text

Chapter 54:

“What is the meaning of this!” Leonardo shouted after kicking down the apartment door of Casey’s apartment with a katana drawn in each hand. He had seen the evil energy radiating out of the rundown building’s windows and into the early morning sky as soon as he emerged from the sewers. He immediately bolted through the front entrance and up the stairs to take action, not caring in the least if a human spotted him. It would appear that his brother attempted something reckless, as he had surmised, and he had arrived too late to stop him.

“I don’t know, man! They took Raph!” the shell-shocked Casey Jones responded from behind his couch, gripping his golf club with both hands as he watched monstrous spirits and shadows jump out of a widening portal and grab hold of the limp turtle’s motionless husk, dragging it towards the threshold. “He wanted to try and locate Shredder by letting a cursed crystal take over his body in meditation or something like that!”

“Meditation...” Leonardo shook his head in utter annoyance. Raphael was inexperienced in these matters and should have known better than to attempt a plan like this without consulting with him first. But he could not let his frustration with his brother get the better of him this time. Raph desperately needed his help. His very life could be at stake if he did not hasten.

Leonardo made his way to the center of the cluttered apartment, slashing his katana through the ethereal forms that pulled his brother’s body through the open portal, but his blades proved useless against them. The creepy spirits and demons laughed with high-pitched tones, mocking him as they disappeared back into the flashing anomaly.

“Not so fast!” Leonardo steeled himself and leapt through the portal just before it sealed shut. He would do anything in his power to save his brother, even if it meant jumping into a strange an unknown world to certain doom.

“Leo? Raph? Guys?” Casey Jones peered back over the top of the couch a few moments later, with his golf club held at the ready. The portal was no more, and the apartment was pitch black and silent with no more scary spirits swirling about. In fact, he was now completely alone. His two mutated buddies vanished, and he did nothing but sit back and watch them float through some demonic portal.

“Shit!” Casey scrambled into his bedroom and grabbed his cell phone to call April. He could tell her what happened and get the remaining shell backs to come to his apartment to figure out what to do next.

“Come on!” Jones yelled in aggravation as the phone rang several times before going to her voicemail message. He immediately tried dialing again... and again, to no avail.

“Pickup, pick up, pick up!” but the busy woman he was trying to reach did not answer. She must still angry about forgetting their date. Regardless, he could not stop calling until she answered for the turtles’ sake.

Chapter Text

Chapter 55:

“YOU’VE CAPTURED ONE OF THE TURTLES!” Shredder’s eyes widened from under his metal helmet as he watched Beryl control the wounded mutant with her staff. The onyx crystal shimmered with energy as the electric whip released its stranglehold on their intruding enemy. Bebop and Rocksteady aimed their guns at the prone target, eager to blow him to smithereens at their master’s command.

“Indeed, I have. “ a smug Queen Beryl grinned as she swung the staff in a wide arc around the collapsed turtle. A bubble formed around Raphael, radiating with the energy of the onyx staff. “The onyx crystal branded him during the battle in the Technodrome prior to your arrival. It was only a matter of time before I drew here him. He foolishly believed he could sneak into this realm unnoticed and steal away my precious stone to save his sickly master.”

“Relinquish the wretched reptile over to me, now!” Shredder demanded the red-haired Queen. “I want to make him suffer a slow and agonizing death just like his sensei!”

“Not just yet.” Beryl smirked as she caressed his face with her smooth fingers. “I have other plans for Raphael. There is a way he can help our cause.”

“WE DON’T REQUIRE HIM FOR ANYTHING MORE THAN TURTLE SOUP!” the impatient Shredder shouted just as another green form fell from out of nowhere and into the center of the palace, crash landing into the stone altar with his shell.

Queen Beryl readied her staff and backed away from the creature as her jaw hung low in surprise. She was only expecting one turtle to make an appearance tonight, not two. What a pleasant surprise.

Leonardo gazed up at the swirling red cloud visible through the gaping hole in palace’s ceiling that he found himself in. He jumped to his feet and readied his katana, finding himself surrounded by the Shredder, his mutants Bebop and Rocksteady along with dozens of foot soldiers armed with guns and swords. The ninja glanced over his shoulder just in time to spot a witch in a purple dress swing a shimmering silver staff in his direction. He back flipped out of the way just before an orb of dark energy smashed into the altar, eradicating what remained of it into a crater of molten marble.

“Raph...” Leo landed back on his green feet next to the radiating bubble that encased his brother. The wounded turtle blinked open his eyes and tried to push himself up as foot clan surrounded the sword wielding mutant. Weakened Raphael pounded a fist into the electrical barrier to break through and escape but received a jolt that locked every muscle in his body.

“So you’ve arrived to save your master too?” Shredder arrogantly approached his adversaries. “Well, it’s too late! I personally stabbed Splinter with a blade coated in poison to ensure that he dies a slow and agonizing death, just in case you whisked him away from me. No antidote will save him now! It’s too bad that he won’t get to see my triumphant conquering of planet earth alongside my beautiful Queen.”

“You will never succeed, Shredder.” heartbroken Leo tried to remain strong, gripping his katana as he backpedaled closer to the bubble prison. The news regarding Sensei shook him to his core. It may be too late to save their master, after all. He should have acted with more urgency and helped Raphael with his plan earlier. All he could do now was try to fight back and make Shredder pay for all he had done to his family.

Chapter Text

Chapter 56:

“GET HIM!” Shredder ordered his men to shoot at the surrounded turtle. The foot-clan aimed their guns and fired, filling the enormous palace with a blaze of lasers spewing in every which direction. Leonardo somersaulted through the air and swung his katana like the wind, disarming several hooded foot soldiers while avoiding all the wild gunfire. The desperate turtle did not panic despite the terrible odds he was up against, fighting with vigor to help free his brother. Raphael looked on helplessly, itching to get into the fight to even their chances of survival, but there was nothing he could do but watch from within his electrical prison.

“DO SOMETHING YOU FOOLS!” Master Shredder urged his two henchmen into action. Bebop and Rocksteady charged at the turtle from two opposite directions as he clashed swords with a foot soldier. Leonardo heard the stampeding of their heavy feet and leapt into the air a moment before impact. The bumbling mutants crashed into one another and collapsed to the floor in a heap. Their guns flew out of their hands and clattered against the marble floor several feet away.

An irritated scowl crossed Beryl’s face as she watched the pathetic display. She had seen enough. How could one turtle make such elementary work against Shredder’s henchmen? Luckily she had a wildcard up her sleeves. She pointed her silver-staff at Raphael and removed the bubble shaped prison surrounding him.

The shocked turtle immediately sensed his freedom, grabbing one of his sai as he bolted for Shredder. He dove through the air with the point of his weapon aimed at the arch-villain’s throat, eager for revenge. Beryl grinned as she lashed a whip of energy from her staff that slammed into the mutant’s midsection just in time to save her heavenly king from an untimely death.

“HE IS NOT YOUR TRUE ENEMY!” the dark crystal thundered into Raphael’s mind as his eye sockets swirled with the essence of the crystal. “I COMMAND YOU TO SLAY YOUR BROTHER FOR ALL THAT HE’S DONE TO YOU! YOU HATE AND DESPISE HIM! EMBRACE MY BLESSING!”

      Raphael felt strength and power coursing through his body unlike anything he had ever experienced before. His fists and feet glowed with the power of the crystal. A sinister smirk crossed his face as he readied his sai to follow the entity’s orders and kill his brother. He made his way to this target, taking out members of the foot-clan in route to the turtle’s position.

“HOW DARE YOU BETRAY ME, VILE WOMAN?” Shredder exposed the claws on his gauntlets and as he watched the two turtles take out the rest of his soldiers until they were the only ones left standing.

“I have done nothing of the sort.” Beryl remained calm as she gestured to the red masked turtle under her complete control. “Please, just watch them destroy one another in a battle to the death!”

“Don’t do this!” Leonardo warned as he readied his katana. Fear crossed his face at the realization that he would have to go up against his own brother with the crystal’s enhancement once again. He eyed the witch standing there next to Shredder with her staff. If he could get to that weapon and destroy the crystal, then maybe he could put an end to this curse. “This is not what master Splinter would have wanted.”

“I can’t!” Raphael’s mind strained to regain control over his body and resist the crystal’s will at the familiar sound of his brother’s voice, but it was no use. His hands and feet moved at a cunning speed no matter how hard he tried to prevent them from doing so. Leonardo dodged his brother’s thrust, but suffered a pulverizing kick to the center of his chest, crashing his shell into the stone wall, shaking its foundation.

“You can’t possibly hope to defeat your brother with my enchantment. He’s always been the superior fighter. It is pointless to even try!” Beryl laughed as she held her shimmering staff over her head. “Perhaps you’d like to join my ranks as well? Submit yourself to the power of the onyx crystal and bend the knee to the Supreme Evil Queen Metalia, and you might live!”

“Never!” Leonardo defied the sorceress. “I’d gladly die with honor before bowing down to the likes of someone like you and Shredder.”

“Very well then.” The mad woman swung her staff, hurtling another orb at the dazed turtle’s direction. He leapt out of the way just in time as the energy blew apart an enormous chunk of the palace wall. Leonardo lost grip of his katana as he thudded away from the blast radius, but Raphael was on him in a flash before he could recover, pummeling his sibling with a flurry of punches to his face and abdomen.

“THE TURTLES ARE MINE TO DEAL WITH. “Shredder grabbed at Beryl’s staff as she prepared to volley another orb at the wounded turtle to finish him. “GIVE ME THAT STAFF AND LET ME HAVE CONTROL!”

“Unhand me!” Beryl yanked the staff back from Shredders’ grasp and inadvertently fired a blast of energy into the center of the palace. A portal spread upon impact as Raphael grabbed his brother by the throat and hefted him off his feet.

“END HIS LIFE NOW...” The crystal spoke to him as his grip tightened to the point that he was squeezing the life out of his limp brother.

“RAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!” Raphael summoned all the remaining will to fight against the crystal’s evil control and launched his battered sibling into the threshold before collapsing to the floor in agonizing pain as the crystal electrocuted his body,  in punishment for his actions.

Chapter Text

Chapter 57:

“One of the turtles has gotten away because of your insolence!” Queen Beryl frowned as she formed another protective barrier over the unconscious husk of Raphael.

“No, it is your fault, woman! You should grant the power of the onyx crystal to ME instead of my enemies!” Shredder complained. “I WANT THE ABILITY TO FIGHT LIKE THAT!”

“This fragment feeds off of the positive energy within those with a pure spirit. It fills them with negativity until it completely consumes them. This one here has little resistance remaining until he is under my total control.” Beryl gestured at the fallen turtle. “It will have little effect on someone with a dark heart such as yourself. Besides, every great king needs his generals.”

“What do you mean by generals?” Shredder defied. “I told you that I do not need any help, especially from the likes of a pathetic worm like him!”

“This one here is a great warrior.” Beryl argued. “Let us not waste his ability, but use it to our advantage in our invasion of earth. I know revenge is what you seek. Let this cretin annihilate his brothers and aid in our plans. When we have succeeded in our mission, then you can eliminate him as you see fit. But until then you must trust me.”

“Very well.” Shredder begrudgingly agreed. “I will allow you to keep your pet turtle... for now!”

“I will grant you the use of my staff while you are on earth, as I am too weak to assist you at the moment.” she reluctantly handed the silver shaft over to her ally, watching his eyes light up as he seized it into his gauntlets.  “Use it to transform people or objects into Youma.”

“Youma?”

“Demons...devils… beasts...” Beryl explained as she gestured at Bebop and Rocksteady. “Similar to those two buffoons, only stronger and more powerful.”

“Excellent.” Shredder peered into the shimmering light of the crystal as he admired his new found weapon.

“I just have one more request.” Beryl continued as she grabbed hold of her staff. “Defeat the Sailor Senshi if they interfere with my plans, but try to take one alive and bring her here to me.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 58:

A portal opened inside of Casey Jones’ apartment. The vigilante gripped his golf club as he slowly emerged from behind his ratty couch, preparing to strike whatever creature or entity might emerge from the strange anomaly in the center of his living room.

“Raph? Leo? Is that you bud?” Jones called out as he inched closer to the widening portal, peaking to see if he could spot either one of the ninja turtles. He debated whether he should charge into the swirling portal to help them out like a real badass. April didn’t return any of his calls, and it would take him too long to wander around the sewers to locate the remaining turtles. He had to act now. The vigilante gripped his weapon and shielded his eyes from the blinding light as he approached the mysterious gateway when an object came soaring out of it like a cannonball.

Casey absorbed the hurtling mutant into his midsection at full force, knocking them both into the shabby leather couch, which flipped over and tore open in several spots from the rough impact.

“Ouch!” Jones grimaced, pushing away the scattered seat cushions to check on his friend’s condition. “What happened in there?”

“They got Raph.” the dour Leo spoke as he dusted himself off. “Shredder has allied himself with an evil sorceress, and they are planning something big. I saw this red cloud hovering over the ruins of a gigantic palace. It radiated an aura of pure malice!”

“A red cloud?” Casey guffawed until he saw the concern on Leo’s face. “What is this, more global warming crap?”

“I can’t describe it, but it seemed to have a sense of awareness to it. As if it was alive.” the turtle reflected. “If only I consult Splinter about this. I need him now more than ever.” 

“Sounds pretty pathetic.” Casey shrugged. A few water droplets and ice crystals floating in the atmosphere on some alien planet didn’t scare him. “I’m sure Donnie could build us a machine to dissolve it. Like a giant windmill or vacuum cleaner! Or maybe even a heat ray! Yeah, that would be so cool!”

“I don’t think it’s going to be that easy.” Leo continued. “That witch wanted me to swear fealty to a Supreme Evil... Queen Metalia.”

“Who or what is that?”  

“I don’t know.” Leo shook his head. “But I bet there is a connection between the cloud and that onyx crystal. They are preparing to strike our realm as we speak!”

“I heard Raphael say something about an orange boat and a lion statue while he was mediating.” the perplexed Casey grabbed his notepad off the floor. “Any idea what that could mean?”

“Great catch! I assume those are the two locations they are going to attack, and we need to be ready for them when they hit.” Leo stated as he headed for the apartment door. “We have little time left if we are going to save Raphael and find a cure for Splinter.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 59

“So Shredder is alive after all?” Michelangelo asked he took a large bite out of a pizza slice. He sat around a cheap foldable table within their hideout alongside his two brothers and Casey Jones. The contents of the white cardboard box seized his attention, more so than anything Leo said, but still he understood the basics of his story. “That’s a total bummer, dudes!”

“They have Raphael!” Leonardo slammed the lid on the pizza box. He had tried to remain patient as his happy-go-luck brother munched down on his meal without a care in the world. He had taken the time to explain to his brothers what he had witnessed in that mysterious realm Shredder is hiding in, describing the palace and the eerie cloud hovering over it, along with the mysterious Queen and her powerful staff. “You need to take this seriously!”

“Relax, bro!” Mikey reassured. “We will kick Shredder’s butt when he shows up at one of those two targets you mentioned.”

“How are we supposed to know what Raph meant by orange boat and lion statue?” Casey Jones threw up his hands in frustration. “It could be anything!”

“Do I have to spell it out for him?” Donatello asked as his brother unfolded a tattered map onto the rickety table. “Those clues are quite obvious if you are familiar with this city!”

“We are going to need to split up into two teams.” Leonardo commanded as he gestured at the two locations on the map his brother had chosen. “Casey and I are going to patrol these waters, downtown. And you two will go here, in midtown.”

“Good thing I got the turtle van up and running.” Donnie commented. “Although, I’ll be sitting in a lot of traffic in that area.”

“Remember, they are going to target enormous masses of people, so be ready to protect the populace. We can’t worry about remaining cloaked in the shadows any longer, especially in such public spaces. There is no other choice.”

“Don’t worry about me.” Casey assured as he pulled down his hockey mask over his face. “I can’t wait to crack more foots-soldier skulls!”

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 60

“USAGI!” A groggy Rei Hino groaned as she awoke from her restless first night at the Sunset Inn, only to find her annoying friend sprawled out on the bed facing the opposite direction with a barefoot pressed firmly against her cheek. Rei felt exhausted, having only gotten a few hours of sleep after arriving in New York and settling down in this crummy hotel. She still had to deal with the relentless head pounding of jet lag combined with the lingering effects of her cold, not to mention the unexpected presence of her best friends. “GET OFF OF ME!”

      The soon to be intern angrily pushed the pink pajama covered legs off the top of her chest, causing the clumsy pigtailed girl to fall off the bed and thud onto the floor where one of her friends slept below.  She rolled onto Makoto, disrupting the athletic girl’s slumber from her spot on the rug.

“OWWIE!” Usagi cried as she rubbed the top of her blonde head and climbed her way back up onto the bed. “There was no more room on the floor! Why must you wake me up so early? You are so mean!”

“What time is it, anyway?” Rei scowled as she grabbed her cellphone and noticed that the battery must have died during the night. She had set her alarm for 7 A.M. to give her plenty of time to get ready for her first day at Channel 6 News, but had gotten distracted by the pillow fight and forgot to plug in her charger before going to bed.

“Look there, it’s only 10 o’clock!” the drowsy Usagi pointed to the clock on the wall. She let out a loud yawn and collapsed back onto the mattress, covering herself with blankets. “It’s sooo early, I just want to sleep a bit longer.”

“10 O’clock?” Rei’s jaw hung in disbelief as she stared at the hands of the cheap plastic clock. “

 “What’s wrong?” the puzzled Ami Mizuno awoke thanks to all the commotion. She crawled over to her backpack and unzipped a pouch to take her daily vitamins.

“I had to be at the news station by nine o’clock this morning. It’s my first day of the internship and I am already going to be late!” the panicky Rei scrambled out of bed and grabbed some clothes out of her luggage before hurrying over to the bathroom.

“I’m so sorry about this!” the guilt-stricken Ami apologized as she faced Rei with her head held down in shame. “Is there anything I can do to assist you prepare for your first day? I can accompany you to the office building if you’d like and provide them with an adequate excuse for your tardiness.”

“I don’t need your help, just get out of my way!” Rei brushed past her meek friend and swung the bathroom door open, only to get assaulted by a cloud of hot steam. She found Minako amongst the mist, staring into the tiny restroom’s foggy mirror with a white bath towel wrapped around her slender body. Hot steam escaped the cramped bathroom as she ran a brush through her sopping wet blonde hair.

“Good morning! Hold on a just a sec and let me get dressed and moisturize my face.” Minako smiled as she ignored her companion and continued to primp her appearance. “Who would have thought I’d be the first one up and ready to go? I’m so excited! I can’t wait to explore this city!”

“GET OUT!” the irate Rei shouted at the top of her lungs as she grabbed her stunned friend by her dripping shoulders and shoved her out of the slippery bathroom.

The furious Rei quickly dressed and splashed some water on her face before grabbing her bag and storming out of the apartment without saying a single word to any of her companions.

“Do your best!” Usagi tried to cheer her friend from her spot on the bed as she slammed the door shut behind her.  “We will see you later!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 61:

“This is it!” Rei exhaled a sigh of relief as she glanced down at her informational packet and back up at the towering office building that stretched high into the clear blue sky before her. “1535 Broadway, 52nd floor.”

The weather was absolutely gorgeous on this early summer day, but she could not enjoy the stroll, anxiously making her down the wide sidewalks crammed with heavy pedestrian traffic until she found the correct location. She had luckily arrived at the Channel 6 headquarters much faster than she had expected, but would still be over an hour late. It was only day one, but things were already not going the way she had planned. Making a good first impression in the business world was very important. How would she be able to do that now? She feared that the boss of this company would hold this lateness against her for the duration of her internship. It was all Usagi’s fault! From forcing her way onto this trip, to the never ending plane ride and staying up late on their first night, her friends were nothing but a thorn in her side and she would have to deal with them for two more weeks in that pathetic excuse for a hotel!

The embarrassed intern brushed these angry thoughts aside as she pushed through the revolving glass doors, briskly walking past a giant sculpture of a globe in the lobby until she arrived at the elevator bank and took the first available one up to the 52nd floor.

“Are you Ms. Hino?” a nerdy receptionist asked from her seat behind a simple wooden desk after spotting the black-haired foreign student step out of the elevator.

“Yes.” the serious Rei bowed her head at the secretary. “Please forgive me for my tardiness.”

“Nice to meet you. My name is Irma.” The nervous woman smiled awkwardly as she stood from behind the desk. The secretary had messy brown hair pulled back into a ponytail which reminded her of Makoto’s look, except for the thick-framed glasses that sat on her nose. She wore a light blue turtleneck that looked a couple of sizes too large for her skinny body, with a long skirt that nearly dropped to her ankles. She seemed nice enough, but desperately needed a makeover. “Follow me right this way for your orientation with the president of Channel 6. Mr. Burne Thompson.”

Irma led Rei down a narrow hallway into a large conference room where a mixed group of at least twenty individuals, including men, women and a few other young interns were spotted sitting on black chairs around a large square table.

“Excuse me, Mr. Thompson.” the bashful secretary interrupted the meeting, silencing the chatty assemblage. “Ms. Hino has arrived, sir.”

“Well, it’s about time!” A gruff, overweight middle-aged man with messy blonde hair gestured for her to enter. He folded his arms across his belly and leaned back on the swivel chair that acted as his throne in this conference room.  “Take a seat so we can finally get started!”

“Please allow me to apologize for my lateness.” Rei bravely addressed the president and his staff as her face turned red in embarrassment. The snooty interns and some of the other employees glared at her, trying to contain their laughter at her expense. She looked at their attire and realized that the wrinkly dress she had chosen in haste was far too casual for the orientation compared to the other girls here.

There was one open seat on the table next to a lady in a yellow jumpsuit with wavy auburn hair. She immediately recognized her as her mentor April O’Neil from news articles she had seen of her on the internet. April’s phone was buzzing in her hands, but she quickly put it away and smiled warmly at the late trainee as she took a seat and gave her an reassuring nod.”I got lost this morning and could not seem to locate this office building."

“Heh... nice try.” the portly president snickered. “We’ve worked out a nice partnership with that fine establishment you are residing. I received a text from one of my friends at the Sunset inn saying that they spotted you leaving the hotel well past nine o’clock.”

“My phone died, and I overslept. I got in very late last night and have been dealing with a terrible cold.” the flustered Rei spoke above the laughter from the news crew. April shot her a look and placed a gentle hand on top of hers in a subtle effort to calm her down, but she continued regardless. “It is no excuse, but that is the honest truth!”

“I am aware that you arrived late last night.” Mr. Thompson continued. “I heard you gave my nephew behind the desk a really hard time when you were checking in.”

“Nephew?” Rei thought back in anger to the lazy pimple faced guy who refused to help her with her belongings.

“He’s a good lad with a bright future ahead of him. Those are the qualities I look for in my interns, which some, but clearly not all of you, here possess.” the CEO nodded as he gestured to the other interns then glanced back over at Rei with a frown on his pudgy face. Sweat formed on her forehead. She was feeling the heat and had never felt this ashamed in all her life. “My wonderful nephew also informed me that in addition to your discourteous manner, you brazenly thought you could sneak some of your touristy girlfriends from Japan into your room. The paperwork you signed when you accepted this internship explicitly stated that these are single occupancy rooms only!”

“I don’t recall signing such a document.” Rei defied the president, causing members of the staff and interns alike to murmur amongst themselves at her insubordination. Even though she was in the wrong, she did not like this president’s attitude, just like his apathetic nephew last night. “My friends should not have come with me here, but maybe I was a expecting a better accommodation than that filthy dump you put me in!”

“This kind of behavior is unacceptable!” Mr. Thompson slammed his fist onto the table, silencing the laughter in the room. “I’m sorry, but maybe this internship is not for you. Your present comportment is not what Channel 6 News is looking for in our young student workers. Our intern selection process is usually very thorough with the background checks. I don’t know how they let this mischievous young woman slip through the cracks. Irma! Contact security and have them remove Ms. Hino from the premises at once!”

“Yes, boss! Right away!” the secretary raced out of the room in a hurry to follow her instructions.

“Wait!” April stood up from her chair. “Come on Burne, this girl flew all the way over here from Japan and you are going to fire her just like that?”

“Yup, just like that.” the CEO snapped his fingers. “You have a problem with that, April?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact I do!” O’Neil defied her boss. “Give the poor girl a chance to prove that she belongs here before casting her out on day one!”

“Hmm...” Mr. Thompson grabbed his double chin in thought. “You know what, April, your right. I’ve had a sudden change of heart. She can stay.”

“Great!” April couldn’t believe that her stubborn boss had changed his mind so easily. But there had to be some kind of catch.

“The only reason I am not firing her is because I’ve assigned Ms. Hino to you.” Mr. Thompson grinned arrogantly as he stood from his chair and pointed accusingly at the yellow garbed woman. “I was trying to figure out an appropriate punishment for that costly terror dome blunder you had last week, and I think I’ve found the perfect reprimand in Ms. Hino.”

“Technodrome!” April stated firmly as her face soured with disgust. “It does exist, and I will be there with my camera crew when it resurfaces! You watch!”

“Nevertheless, the bottom line is that our ratings are tanking because of you!” Burne continued after the chuckles at his reporter’s expense died down in the conference room. “Your risky errors have blemished the reputation of this fine news station. The police and our competitors have labeled us as fake news! It will take us years to rebuild our level of trust with the public! You should thank me! I was merciful not to suspend you without pay for your grave miscalculations!”

“Oh, thank you so much for not suspending me for doing my job!” April barked back with sarcasm. “I’m such a terrible journalist for following a good lead from a trusted confidant that should have given us the story of the century!”

“That’s enough, Ms. O’Neil!” Burne pounded his fist into the table yet again. “There’s one more thing. I am reassigning you and Ms. Hino as of today!”

“Reassigned?” the perplexed April asked. “To what?”

“Let’s just say you won’t be covering any crimes out in the field for a while.” the president let out a chortle. “But I have a very important first task for my star reporter and her new protégée. It seems that we are out of coffee, how ‘bout you two go brew a nice big pot and serve the interns a nice hot cup of joe to give them a proper welcome to the Channel 6 family.”

“You can forget it!” Rei screamed in rage as she stood from her chair. April tugged on her arm and pulled her towards the conference room’s exit. “I did not sign up for this program and fly thousands of miles from home to be a barista!”

“You will do exactly what I say if you wish to keep this internship for your precious résumé. I’ll have you scrubbing toilets if you continue to misbehave!” Mr. Thompson shouted as Irma returned with a team of security guards. They eyed Rei and April suspiciously as they scuttled down the hallway. “You are already on thin ice, young lady!”   

Chapter Text

Chapter 62:

“I loved the way you handled Burne back there.” April tried to make conversation with her stoic intern as they entered the office break room. A lot was going through her mind as she placed a new coffee filter into a machine and filled it with a scoop of fresh grounds from a tin can. Had the turtles received any word from the missing Raphael? How was Master Splinter doing in his recovery? “I’m usually the only one in this entire company who stands up to his bullying.”

“I’ve never been so humiliated in my entire life.” Rei covered her face with both hands in disgrace. “I should not have reacted that way, but he embarrassed me in front of everyone.”

“No, you put that big, fat jerk right in his place!” the aroma of coffee filled the break room as April slammed the lid on the machine shut and pressed a button to activate it. The device lit up and buzzed as hot coffee dripped into the pot below.  She ignored the hum of her cell phone from within her bag as she watched the coffee pot slowly fill up to its brim. Casey Jones had been trying to contact her all morning, probably with another lame excuse for missing their date. “I am very proud of you!”

“He would have fired me if it wasn’t for your intervention.” Rei looked back up and tried to force a smile. “Thank you for your help.”

“Don’t worry about it!” April waved her hands in the conference room’s direction. “We need more young women like you in the workforce that will speak their minds and stand up against stupid men like that!”

“Hey, is the coffee ready yet?” a man with slicked black hair wearing a pink dress shirt interrupted the conversation.

“Rei...” April’s tone hinted that she did not particularly care for this guy. “Allow me to introduce you to my esteemed colleague, Vernon Fenwick.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Ms. Hino. Just call me Vern.” A smug grin formed on his face as he extended his hand. “You are from Japan, right?”

“Yes.” Rei nodded as she accepted the handshake.

“That’s wonderful. My trainee is from Germany.” Vern’s grin widened. “She told me to tell you she likes her coffee with cream and two teaspoons of sugar!”

“Coming right up.” April lashed back with extreme sarcasm in her voice.

“Oh, and by the way.” Vern continued after a brief chuckle. “Mr. Thompson finally acknowledged all my hard work around this place. Looks like I’ll be stepping in front of the camera for a change instead of carrying one. I’ve been waiting for years to get my shot as a reporter! I will take over your usual assignments from here on out thanks to your reassignment. Do you have any advice for me?”

“Well, that’s just fantastic.” April forced a smile as she poured coffee into a Styrofoam cup and thrust it into his hands, nearly spilling its boiling contents. “Congrats, VERN, good luck to you!”

“Ahh, you almost burned me, that’s assault!” Vern shrieked as he gripped the cup and hurried back to the conference room. “Wait till Mr. Thompson hears about this!”

“Is everyone that works here that conceited?” Rei asked her mentor as she continued to pour more cups with coffee and place them onto a tray.

“Have you met Irma? She’s quite sweet!” April let out a deep sigh. “But I’ll be honest with you, It’s pretty cutthroat out here in the real world. People like Vern are everywhere in corporate America. They will try anything they can undermine you to promote themselves.”

“That’s terrible.” Rei shook her head.

“You’ll be fine!” April reassured her. “It’s important to always stay positive and not let fools like Vern get to you. I know the Technodrome will resurface, and when it does, you and I will both be there front and center to capture it on a live broadcast!”

“What is this, Technodrome?” The curious Rei asked as April’s phone chimed once again.

“Ugh, not him again, what does he want from my life!” April retrieved her phone from her bag and saw that Casey Jones was calling her again for the millionth time today. She did not want to discuss the Technodrome with her new trainee just yet and used this call as an opportunity to change the subject. 

“I know the feeling, trust me!” April handed her a tray filled with coffee cups when it suddenly dawned on her she had not contacted Yuuichirou since her arrival in New York. Her worrywart of a boyfriend was probably making many false assumptions for her absence. “April, do you happen to have a phone charger that I can borrow by any chance?”

Chapter Text

Chapter 63:

“OOO! Look at that scary dinosaur!” the animated Usagi pointed at the reconstructed fossils of a Tyrannosaurus Rex as the four girls walked through the museum’s ground level after purchasing tickets. She gaped at the extinct creature’s massive jaw and sharp teeth, imagining how terrifying it would be to encounter one if they still roamed the earth.

The argument with Mamoru plagued her mind all day, despite all the distractions surrounding her in this wonderful city. She remained deeply hurt by his harsh words and troubled with worries about what would happen to their relationship going forward, but she buried these feelings and kept them hidden as best as she could so they could enjoy the vacation. Thanks to losing her cellphone at the airport, there was no current way for her to get in touch with him and try to make up. It was beyond frustrating and it took all her strength to put on this false facade of happiness and not burst into tears from her inner sadness.

“I knew you would like the exhibits here at the museum of Natural history.” Ami smiled as she approached a neighboring brachiosaurus in order to inspect the remains up close. She admired the plant eater’s long and slender neck that stretched nearly to the top of the museum’s high ceiling “I read that their Ancient Egypt display here is impressive as well! They even have fully preserved mummy on display this month!”

“AHH!” Usagi shrieked in fear at the very thought of the wrapped corpse. “No thanks! I don’t need to see anything that terrifying!”

“Let me see if we can get a guided tour.” Minako suggested as she eyed a handsome young man in a blue uniform handing out informational pamphlets.

“Why bother with a guide when we have the walking encyclopedia Ami Mizuno with us?” Makoto answered. “You are just looking for an excuse to talk to that cute boy over there!”

“Okay, you caught me!” Minako laughed as she threw her hands up. “He’s so hot!”

“Besides, I want to save up my money for baseball tickets!” Makoto continued. “I can’t believe we came here just in time for the subway series. It is the hottest ticket in town!”

“What is this subway series exactly?” the puzzled Ami asked. “I’ve never heard of it before.”

“The New York Mets will play against the New York Yankees for the next three nights.” the athletic girl answered in near disbelief at her friend’s comment. “They currently have the best records in their respective leagues. This will be an epic grudge match to see which team reigns supreme in this city. The winning fan base will have bragging rights for the rest of the season! We HAVE to go to at least one game!”

“Of course, we will!” Minako could not take her eyes off of the attractive museum employee. “But not tonight. I have something special planned for all of us.”

“What do you have in mind?” Ami asked.

“We need to thank Rei for allowing us to stay with her.” Minako smiled. “So I say we surprise her at Channel 6 News and take her out for a night of fun once she’s done with her first day!”

“Are you sure that’s a good idea?” the meek Ami hesitated. “Rei seemed pretty angry with us this morning. Maybe we should give her some space for the evening. I think she will probably want to catch up on her rest and would appreciate that sentiment more than anything else.”

“We are only here for such a short time.” Minako argued. “This trip will be over before you know it, so we have to make the most out of each night. Besides, we need to cheer up Usagi after her fight with Mamoru and I know exactly what will do the trick!”

“My Mamo...” Usagi’s grief came to the surface at the very mention of her boyfriend’s name. It broke her heart that she had no method to contact him. She wondered what was going through his mind right now. Just thinking about him nearly brought her to tears. All she wanted to do was give him a big hug and say she was sorry for everything, but it was not possible. She could not dwell on the unfortunate situation and needed to remain strong for her friends to make sure they all had fun. This could be the last time for a while that they were all together like this... and possibly their last time ever, as their paths inevitably continued to split further apart.

Chapter Text

Chapter 64:

“We will see you tomorrow, Ms. Hino. Remember, work starts promptly at 9 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, so please make sure your phone is fully charged and set the alarm nice and early! “The pompous Vern waved goodbye to the black-haired girl as she entered the elevator. “Sayonara! Hope you don’t get lost on your way back to that five-star hotel!”

She ignored the insulting comments, tightening her fists in anger at the rude man’s insolence. A cackle of laughter sounded while the elevator doors closed shut and brought her down to the lobby. It had been such a long and miserable day filled with completing petty chores such as picking up lunch orders, replacing printer ink cartridges, clearing paper jams and shredding old documents. April O’Neil seemed to take the punishment in stride, but she did not have the reporter’s patience. This is not what she had signed up for. How she would learn anything of value now that they were both banished from doing fieldwork? The first day had been incredibly disappointing from the orientation to the moment she left the office floor. Part of her wished that Mr. Thompson had just fired her right then and there so that she didn’t have to put up with this pathetic excuse for an internship for another day.

Rei took a deep breath and finally powered on her charged cell phone as she walked past the lobby’s grand globe sculpture to the revolving doors. She paused for a moment, expecting a bombardment of countless texts and voicemails from Yuuichirou that would spam her phone with an endless barrage of chimes and notifications, but to her surprise only a couple of messages popped up asking how she was feeling and if she arrived safely. He kept the last text short and sweet. All it said was that he missed her and was looking forward to hearing from her when she had time.

  Part of her was a little saddened that she received such few messages from her admirer. Maybe deep down in she actually enjoyed all the attention and praise she got from him despite her conflicting desire for independence. She appreciated that he was being patient, understanding and not overbearing for once in his life, but knew it was all an act just to please her. The shaggy headed apprentice was probably glued to his phone at the temple waiting for her to check in with him, but she rewarded him with nothing but silence for over a day. She was not looking forward to his whining and complaining. But she had to endure the hour-long phone call sooner rather than later to make it up to him. First, she wanted to go back to the cheap hotel and take a nice hot shower to revitalize and refresh. It would give her a brief chance to forget about this disastrous day.

Chapter Text

Chapter 65:

“REI!” the clumsy Usagi’s shouted in delight as she waded her way through the cluster of pedestrian traffic until catching her friend scrolling through her phone just outside of the Channel 6 Headquarters. The upbeat tourist bulldozed into her from behind, wrapping her arms around her with a big hug that nearly caused her to drop her cellphone. “YAY! We made it here just in time to see you get out of work! How was your first day?”

“It was great.” Rei lied as she freed herself from Usagi’s grip. Her miserable start at the internship was the last thing she wanted to talk about right now. The others were right behind Usagi. They all looked so relaxed and happy after a fun filled day in the city, unlike her. “What did you guys do today?”

“I took them to the Museum of Natural History. It was such a fantastic experience!” Ami found the courage to comment. “I would definitely recommend visiting one day when you have free time during your stay.”

“Minako would go back there every day for the rest of the trip just to get another glimpse of that cute tour guide!” Makoto chimed in. “Even though I think he was much more interested in Ami.”

“That’s true.” the cheery Minako nodded as she nudged her bashful friend with her elbow. “He was totally into you!”

“Me?” Ami blushed in embarrassment. “I think he was just impressed with my analysis of their collection of fossils dating from the Jurassic period.”

“It’s not just that.” the blonde-haired girl grinned. “I saw the way he was looking at you! I was soooo jealous!” 

“Maybe you shouldn’t have asked him if aliens helped build the pyramids!” Makoto pointed out.

“Hey!” Minako pouted as she put her hands on her hips. “I needed some excuse to approach him and I watched a documentary on that conspiracy theory once!”

“Actually, I was just on my back to the hotel.” Rei forced a smile, interrupting the banter. She was hoping to have some privacy to call Yuuichirou and wanted to be alone after experiencing a rough first day.

“Aww come on, Rei!” Minako plead. “We came here to get you so we can celebrate our amazing vacation and thank you for letting us tag along. So let’s all go grab some famous New York City pizza!”

“PIZZA?” Usagi jumped up and down in joy. “YUMMY! I CAN’T WAIT!”

“I’m sorry, but I can’t join you tonight.” Rei continued walking away. ”Please, let’s do this another time. Maybe tomorrow night? I need to go back and call Yuuichirou immediately.”

“Can’t he just wait a little while longer?” Minako implored. “Just have a quick bite to eat with us, then you can head on back. It’s our treat!”

“I was going to have him contact Mamoru for you, Usagi.” Rei continued. “I could have him relay a message to him if you’d like. But I guess that will have to wait.”

“We can have pizza tomorrow!” the desperate Usagi’s eyes lit up at the thought that she could finally get in contact with her boyfriend. “Let’s go back to the hotel right now!”

“Can’t you two just forget about your boyfriends for a single day!” Minako argued. “This is our time to hang out in the greatest city in the world! I say we have a girls’ night and enjoy this time we have together! Do I need to remind you all that we are in New York City! All the phone calls can wait! Let’s party!”

“You make a valid point.” Makoto agreed. “But I think you are saying all this because you don’t have a boyfriend!”

“Neither do you!” Minako stuck out her tongue. “I’ll find one on this trip, you’ll see!”

“Okay, fine!” Rei interrupted the bickering and folded her arms across her chest. “I guess I’ll get a quick slice with you, but then Usagi and I are heading back for the night, okay?”

Chapter Text

Chapter 66:

The girls walked around the busy Times Square area until finally agreeing upon a restaurant. It was a crowded Italian place with checkered tablecloths and a wine-cask candle on each table. After waiting nearly fifteen minutes, a hostess escorted them to their booth.

“Mozzarella sticks, potato croquettes, fried calamari! I want all these appetizers!” Usagi’s mouth watered in hunger as she buried her head into the menu.

     After bickering on what to order, they finally agreed to share a couple of pizza pies. The service proved to be slow as they anxiously awaited their food to arrive. Rei sat there with her arms folded and a scowl on her face as she stared into her phone, not engaging with the others as they made small talk about their upcoming plans.

“What is on the agenda for tomorrow?” Minako asked. “Any ideas?”

“I’m not sure what you want to do during the day.” Makoto shrugged as she locked her eyes onto a flat TV screen hanging above the bar. The first game of the subway series just got under way and the Mets were about to come up to bat in the bottom of the first inning after their star pitcher Jacob deGrom retired the Yankees in order by striking them all out. “But I want to go the baseball game tomorrow night! You guys better not let me down!”

“There are plenty of more museums on my list to check out if you don’t mind.” Ami spoke up. “The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim, just to name a few.”

“No more museums please, it’s too boring!” Makoto chomped into a piece of bread while watching the game, nearly choking at the fantastic play she just witnessed. A Yankees outfielder just made a leaping catch on the warning track, taking a home run away from the frustrated Mets batter. “Let’s do something outdoors.”

“I want to see the Statue of Liberty!” Usagi jumped out of her seat and raised one of her arms over her head as if she was holding a torch to mimic the statue’s iconic pose.

“That’s a brilliant suggestion!” Minako nodded as the server finally came to their table with their pizza order, instantly snaring their attention. The smell of the cheese and tomato sauce brought smiles to all their faces, including Rei, who briefly forgot about her troubles. They eagerly grabbed a hot slice for their plates and dug in.

 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 67:

“I want ice-cream!” Usagi announced after wiping tomato sauce stains away from her mouth with a napkin. She just finished devouring the crust of her last slice, but was already thinking about what to have for dessert.

“It’s getting late. We really should get back to the hotel now.” Rei yawned as she looked out of the restaurant’s window and into the heavily trafficked sidewalk, watching the pedestrians pass by. The streetlights had just blinked on along with the headlights on yellow cabs and other vehicles as the New York streets grew darker. “Come on Usagi, let’s get going so we can make that phone call.”

“Not yet. The night is still young!” Minako waved a finger at the two girls as she left a cash tip for the waiter. “Please stay out just a little bit longer. I have something else in mind instead of dessert. It’s a surprise!”

“What is it?” the excited Usagi wondered what her friend had in store.

“A special place I know Rei will enjoy!” Minako winked as she darted out of the restaurant. “Follow me!”

“I think it’s time to retire for the evening.” Ami tried to voice her opinion as she noticed a visibly upset Rei grab her things and head towards the exit. “That way we can catch up on rest and get an early start tomorrow.”

“Oh, we won’t be here too long.” Minako assured her friends as she raced across the busy street to a gigantic neon sign. “Only about an hour or so, I promise!”

“Karaoke?” Rei read the brightly lit letters out loud in disgust. Her friend may have had good intentions to bring her here, but karaoke was the last thing on earth she wanted to do right now. The dinner had been a pleasant break, but she was not in the mood for this, especially after having such a terrible first day at the internship and failing to contact her obsessive admirer back home. All she wanted to do was throw herself on that uncomfortable bed in the cheap hotel and make the phone call to ease Yuuichirou’s worries, but it wasn’t even worth it to argue. Minako would not take no for an answer once she got an idea stuck in her head.

“I know how much you love to sing. So I made us a reservation for a private room at this lounge!” Minako grabbed her friend’s hand and tugged her up a narrow staircase to the entrance. “Let’s go!”

      An employee greeted the group and took them to their reserved space. Usagi looked through a book containing the extensive song list before plopping onto a couch. Singing was exactly what she needed to help her forget about her ugly situation. “I go first!”

Rei eyed Minako suspiciously as she darted out of the room, whispering something to one of the staff members. Usagi grabbed the microphone and immediately sang off-key to the song she had selected. The tired intern desperately wanted to press her hands against her ears to get away from the terrible screeching.

An employee came by the room once Usagi finished her song, carrying a tray with five glasses.

“I ordered us all drinks.” Minako smiled as she handed them each a glass. “Here you go, Usagi. I ordered this one especially for you, it’s fruit punch!”

“Oh, my favorite!” Usagi lit up as she lifted the drink up to her lips.

“Wait!” Minako interrupted before she could take a sip. “I want to make a special toast!”

“First, thank you so much, Rei, for allowing us accompany you here to New York! None of this would have been possible without you. It’s only day one of our vacation and I’m already having the time of my life!” Minako began as she held out her glass. “We wish you nothing but the best of luck in your internship! Channel 6 News will help propel you to super stardom and you will excel at everything you do, I just know it! And we will be there to support you every step of the way, whether you decide to live here permanently or not! I can’t say how much I admire you for your hard work and determination. You had a dream to become an international business lady and here you are living it and following your dreams!  As they say in English: Fortune favors the bald!”

“Bold.” Ami corrected as the girls raised their glasses. “Bald would imply that she has no hair.”

“Wow, that was such an amazing speech! Cheers to Rei!” Usagi commented as she took a large gulp out of her drink. “This fruit-punch is so good!””

“Have another!” Minako said as she patted her friend on the back. “They are unlimited after all! Order as many as you’d like!”

“Oh, no.” Rei muttered to herself as she took a sip of her drink and knew something was a bit off. She glanced over at Ami, who made a face of disgust after tasting her drink. “Minako, did you order us alcoholic beverages?”

“I just wanted to have a proper celebration!” the sneaky Minako admitted, placing her fingers over her mouth as she tried to contain her giggling. “Besides, Usagi has had it rough with that fight at the airport terminal and all.”

“MAMORU!” Usagi wailed as the server came back to the room with more drinks. She grabbed a glass into each of her hands and sipped the straw of first one until there was nothing left but ice. “My... MAMO.... MAMO! He will take me back right?”

“Enough, Usagi!” Rei snatched the full drink of her hand. “You are going to get sick again! Remember what happened the last time you drank that spiked punch in that ballroom!”

“YES! But I am much more mature than I was back then.” Usagi stuck out her tongue as she grabbed the glass back and gulped it down. “Where is that microphone? GIMMIE, GIMMIE!”

“No, it’s my turn!” Minako said as she yanked the microphone out of Makoto’s hands at the conclusion of her song. “You can have the rest of my drink while I sing, here you go!”

“I’ll never forget that magnificent ballroom. “Makoto laughed as Usagi started on her next drink. “It was so nice of Mamoru’s friend from overseas to invite all of us, but I’m sure he regretted it afterward!”

“I remember being so nervous.” Ami shook her head. “I wanted to test my English-speaking skills, but Usagi was the one with the courage to converse with those students after drinking the spiked punch!”

“Don’t make light of it, Ami. She made a complete fool of herself and embarrassed Mamoru in front of his colleagues. Remember, she got sick as a dog afterward!” Rei placed the remaining drinks out of reach. “Usagi, you are the last person on earth who should drink like this!”

“Your system will not withstand the high level of alcohol content in your bloodstream if you continue drinking at this rate.” Ami warned in agreement.

“Come on guys, just let her have some fun!” Minako handed another filled glass over to Usagi. “I want to see drunk Usagi again!”

“That night was so romantic.” Usagi took a gulp as she recalled the party. “Mamoru looked so handsome in that tuxedo. We danced to a beautiful slow song. All of you were there watching. It was so magical. I never wanted it to end.”

“Usagi...” Rei could see that her distraught friend was getting overcome with emotion as she reminisced about that unforgettable night out.

“I thought to myself that this is what my wedding day would be like.” Usagi’s eyes watered. “Celebrating our love with all of you, such a beautiful dream. But now that will never happen. Mamoru will never marry me after what I’ve done! I’ll never get to experience that magical wedding!“

“Your time is up in ten minutes.” A staff member entered the private room, intruding on the tantrum. “This is your last call for any more drinks.”

“GOOD.... EVEN.... NING.... SIR....NICE.... TO.... MEEEEEET YOU” the embarrassed Usagi spoke her best English as she wiped away her tears with her sleeves while wobbling over to the flabbergasted employee. “ONE!!!!!!!... MAWWW... FROOT...PAHH..  UNCH... PLEEEE  ZZZEEE... SIR!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 68:

“I am not drunk, I’m just a klutz!” Usagi insisted as she stumbled down the steps of the Karaoke lounge, bouncing off the railings on each side of the stairs like a blonde headed pinball. “I feel perfectly fine, really!”

“Watch out!” Rei warned as she grabbed hold of her friend’s shoulders. “You are going to fall on your face, idiot!”

“Meanie!” Usagi looked up from the railing and tried to stand on her own with no assistance, but her head bobbed and weaved in all directions from a sudden spell of dizziness. She broke away from Rei’s grasp and tried to skip in a straight line along the flat pavement, but the ground seemed to spin all around her. She staggered down a length of the sidewalk and clutched her arms around a telephone pole in order to remain upright. “Whoops! I’m just a little more clumsy than usual! Nothing out of the ordinary!”

“We need to carry her back. She’s never going to make it to the hotel like this, thanks to you!” Rei shot Minako a sharp look in anger. The other blonde had a bit too much to drink as well and could not help but laugh at the sight of their friend hugging onto that metal pole.

“Take her left side, I’ll get the right.” the able-bodied Makoto nodded at Rei. They pried their inebriated friend off the telephone pole and slung her arms over their shoulders.

“You... guys...” Usagi’s slurred her speech as her feet scuttled along the sidewalk, trekking back to the inn at a snail’s pace. “Are the... greatest friends.... a girl... could ever ask for! I love... all of you... so much!”

Rei exhaled a sigh of relief as the derelict sign of the Sunset Inn finally came into view. She never thought she’d be so happy to return to this rundown dump. They lugged Usagi into the lobby, where the pimply faced receptionist was there to greet them from behind his desk.

“HI!” Usagi waved her hand at same the boy from yesterday. “ARE YOU SINGLE? MY FRIEND MINAKO HERE IS LOOKING FOR A HANDSOME BOYFRIEND LIKE YOU!”

“Usagi! Stop it! What are you talking about? Of course I have a boyfriend! He works at the Museum of Natural History, remember?” Minako laughed uncontrollably as she eyed the ugly employee. “How many drinks did you have?”

A look of dread crossed Rei’s face as she saw the receptionist standing there with a frown, watching as the four girls struggled to get their clearly intoxicated friend up the staircase and back to their room on the 5th floor. Each agonizing step was proving to be a challenge, and her legs buckled from underneath her at the last step. Usagi tripped and knocked into Minako.  Both girls tumbled down to the hardwood floor and sprawled out on the rug, laughing hysterically at their drunken antics. But the receptionist did not find it amusing in the least.

“Get up!” Rei yanked the two blondes back to their feet and hauled Usagi up the steps by force. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed that the nerd reached for his cellphone and started taking a few pictures of the embarrassing scene unfolding in the hotel lobby. He would no doubt report this to his uncle Burne, the CEO of Channel 6 News, telling him everything that transpired with their unruly intern and provide him with evidence to boot! She would probably be in hot water tomorrow morning when she arrived. Burne would certainly fire her now, and she doubted that April could put a stop to it this time. Things couldn’t possibly get any worse!

“I am okay, let me go!” Usagi stood on her own two feet with no help as Rei opened the door to the hotel room. “Trust me! I am not drunk... now call your BOYFRIEND and have him contact my MAMO... right now!””

“You need to drink some water immediately!” a concerned Ami scrambled into the cramped dorm and retrieved a bottle of water from her backpack.

“Give me one minute.” Usagi brushed past Ami and inadvertently knocked the water bottle out of her hands as she wobbled her way over to the tiny restroom and slammed the door shut. “I just need to use the bathroom.”

“Are you alright?” Rei asked as she tapped on the door, but there was no response coming from the other side. The concerned girls barged their way in and found Usagi sitting on the cold tile, leaning against the wall, clutching her stomach with both hands.

“MY TUMMY!” Usagi wailed in pain as tears flowed freely from her eyes. “I DON’T FEEL SO GOOD!”

“This is a clear indication of alcohol poisoning.” Ami shook her head as she tried to get Usagi to drink from the water bottle once again. “It’s only a matter of time before she’s going to...”

“EXPLODE!” Minako covered her eyes as Usagi pushed her friends out of the way and hurried over to the open toilet seat. She made loud guttural noises as she heaved several times, violently puking up a messy mixture of the spiked fruit punch and bits of the pizza she had eaten earlier. Not all the vomit made it into the bowl in time, splashing off the lid and covering the tiled floor as Usagi doubled over in agonizing pain. The outburst did not spare the girls’ clothing either. All of their outfits were victims claimed by Usagi’s disgusting illness.

 Rei grabbed her friend’s pigtails to keep them out of the disgusting toilet water, holding her head over the bowl as she heaved several more times. Usagi howled with a mixture of crying wails and screeches like a frightened cat before more fluids projected out of her mouth until there was next to nothing left in her belly.

“You should feel better after vomiting, if that is any consolation.” Ami commented as she placed a comforting hand on her back while Makoto scrubbed up the floor. “Your body needs to expel all the toxins you ingested.”

“NO... MY TUMMY... IT STILL HURTS!” Usagi cried as she buried her head into the toilet for another round of profuse vomiting. She glanced up from the bowl with her face dripping with remnants of her expulsions “I’VE NEVER FELT... SICK LIKE THIS... IN MY... ENTIRE LIFE!”

“Look at what you did!” Rei shouted at Minako. “This is all your fault!”

“I’m sorry, I got a bit carried away at the karaoke lounge. I just wanted her to have some fun and help her forget about Mamoru for a little while!” Minako argued. “You can go to bed and get some sleep. Ami, the medical professional is here! We got this! She will be all right!”

“MAAAAMMMOOO!!!” Usagi whined from her spot over the toilet. “I WANT MY MAMMO!”

“I’m not going anywhere!“ the furious Rei shook head. ”How can I get any sleep knowing she’s like this?”

Chapter Text

Chapter 69:

Rei found herself with a stiff neck, sore shoulders, and a throbbing lower back as she awoke pressed up against the bathtub from only a couple hours of sleep. Her sick companion had spent much of the night throwing up profusely in between her bouts of hysterical sobbing, but the girls were there to support her through it all before they passed out from exhaustion. Every time they thought the disgusting nightmare was finally over, she somehow regurgitated more out of her tiny stomach long into the night. Rei removed the white bath towel that she had been using as a makeshift blanket and pushed her achy body up off the floor, nearly tripping over Makoto’s extended legs. Usagi snored loudly with her arms still wrapped around the bowl and her head resting on top of the porcelain throne’s closed lid.

“8:45 A.M.!” Rei shouted in disbelief as she retrieved her cellphone to check the time. She scrambled to her suitcase in desperation to get her things ready and change out of her vomit stained clothes. There was no time to waste on applying makeup or brushing her hair to look more presentable. Somehow she was going to look and smell even worse than she did on her disastrous first day! “I’m going to be late...AGAIN!”

“OWW! MY HEAD... ITS POUNDING!” Usagi complained from her spot on the toilet as she stirred from her slumber thanks to the panicky outburst. “QUIET DOWN IN THERE PLEASE!”

“QUIET DOWN?” Rei stormed back into the bathroom with fire brewing in her eyes. Her patience had finally worn out and her rage was beyond the boiling point. She could not contain herself any longer. She had been bottling up all of her emotions ever since Usagi made the comment that she wished she could tag along to New York at the farewell party. It was only a few short days ago, but between Yuuichirou’s brief disappearance, her awful cold, her friends surprising her on the plane, the disappointment of her first day and potentially ruining her relationship for failing to contact home, she could not keep it all together. Her severe aggravation turned to anger and resentment and she would now take it out on her four friends and let them know exactly how she felt! No more holding back. “I am going to be late again and get FIRED from this internship because of all of you! This will permanently tarnish my pristine academic record!”

“What’s going on?” the befuddled Minako yawned as she woke up from all the shouting. Her long blonde hair still looked amazing despite sleeping on the same tiled floor.

“YOU AND USAGI INSULTED THAT RECEPTIONIST LAST NIGHT. HE IS THE NEPHEW OF THE CEO OF CHANNEL 6 NEWS. HE IS GOING TO TELL HIM WHAT HAPPENED IN THE LOBBY LAST NIGHT! I AM SO SCREWED!”

“So what, calm down! We were just fooling around.” Minako argued. “We can apologize to him if you like. It’s no big deal.”

“YES, IT IS A BIG DEAL!” Rei shouted in fury. “YESTERDAY WAS PROBABLY THE WORST DAY OF MY LIFE! I’VE NEVER BEEN SO EMBARASSED AND ASHAMED OF MYSELF! AND JUST WHEN I THINK IT CAN’T POSSIBLY GET ANY WORSE, IT GETS WORSE!”

“Rei... we didn’t know...” the dazed Usagi whimpered. “What happened?

“YOU!!! THAT’S WHAT HAPPENED!” the enraged Rei ranted, taking out all of her pent-up frustrations on her friends. “THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT. YOU GUYS FORCED YOUR WAY ONTO THIS TRIP AND ITS COST ME EVERYTHING! MY PLANS, MY DREAMS! THEY ARE ALL UP IN SMOKE!”

“We didn’t mean to...” Ami spoke after waking from all the commotion.

“AND YOU, AMI THE GENIUS! I’M DISAPPOINTED IN YOU MOST OF ALL!” Rei threw up her arms in irritation. “SOOOO SMART, INTELLIGENT AND PRACTICAL. BUT FOR ALL THOSE BRAINS, YOU OF ALL PEOPLE DECIDE TO PURCHASE EVERYONE PLANE TICKETS LAST MINUTE SO THAT YOU CAN RUIN MY LIFE!”

“That wasn’t my intention...” Ami shook her head in sadness and rushed out of the bathroom, unable to look at Rei as grief overwhelmed her. Rei was right, she was to blame for everything. Her plans to bring everyone together for one last adventure before starting her demanding career had severely backfired. “I’m terribly sorry...”

“SORRY WON’T CUT IT THIS TIME!” Rei shouted at the prospective doctor. “I AM DONE! WITH ALL OF YOU! GO AND FIND ANOTHER PLACE TO STAY! NONE OF YOU BETTER BE HERE WHEN I GET BACK TONIGHT!”

“But...” the stunned Usagi could not process what was taking place. “What about the Sailor Team?”

“IT’S OVER AND DONE WITH! DEAD!” Rei snapped. “THERE IS NO MORE NEED FOR THE SAILOR TEAM ANYMORE! I RENOUNCE MYSELF AS SAILOR MARS!”

“You don’t mean that!” Usagi bawled as she crawled into the bedroom despite her pounding headache and threw herself at Rei’s feet, wrapping her arms around her legs. “I’m sorry! Please forgive me! I’ve already lost Mamoru. I can’t lose you too! “

“GET OFF ME!” Rei snapped. She slipped away and kicked Usagi to the floor with the top of her heeled foot.

“Hey!” Makoto intervened by pushing Rei’s shoulders. Her body rattled against the wall from the violent attack, knocking down a generic painting of a vase filled with flowers. “What is your problem? Leave her alone! How dare you treat Usagi like that, she worships you!”

“WELL IF ANY OF YOU TRULY CARED ABOUT ME, THEN YOU WOULD HAVE LET ME COME HERE ALONE SO I CAN FOCUS ON MY CAREER.” Rei retaliated by shoving her friend back, throwing her into Ami and Minako. They grabbed at her arms in an attempt to restrain their athletic companion from retaliating. “BUT YOU ALL DECIDED TO TAG ALONG FOR YOUR OWN SELFISH REASONS AND USE ME FOR FREE ROOM AND BOARD.”

“If you believe that’s the reason we came here with you...” Makoto ground her teeth together as she broke free from their grasp, cracking her knuckles as she prepared for a brawl. “Then you are nothing but a cold-hearted BITCH!”

“WHAT DID YOU JUST CALL ME?” Rei raised her arms, ready to throw a slap across Makoto’s face.

“STOP IT!” Usagi wailed as she got in between the bickering girls. “PLEASE STOP FIGHTING!”

“FINE!” Rei lowered her hands and grabbed her pocketbook. “I don’t need to waste any more time here with you fools, anyway!”

“Nice knowing you!” Makoto waved sarcastically as Rei slammed the apartment door shut behind her.

Chapter Text

Chapter 70:

“Ami, are you alright?” Makoto asked as she spotted Ami sitting at the edge of the bed burying her face into her hands.

“She’s right...” Ami muttered under her breath. She was not crying, but they could tell by the sound of her voice that Rei’s words deeply hurt her. “About everything...I’m... a complete... ignoramus! This trip was an egregious mistake on my part.”

“No, that’s not true!” the teary-eyed Usagi jumped on the other side of the bed and wrapped her arms around Ami. “I am the one who came up with this bone headed idea in the first place, remember?”

“That may be the case, but I helped turn your fantasy into a reality.” Ami sniffled as she stood up from the bed and grabbed her backpack and headed for the apartment’s door. “This is all my fault...”

“Where do you think you are going?” Usagi grabbed Ami’s backpack to prevent her from moving. “We have to make things right! Let’s go to Channel 6 News right now to try to help her!”

“That would cause more harm than good. Just let Rei cool off for a while.” Minako suggested. “I’m not letting her attitude ruin our plans for the day. The statue of liberty awaits us!”

“Yeah, your right.” Makoto agreed. “But I don’t care if she cools down. I’m never speaking to Rei again after that tirade!”

“I’m sorry, but I’m not up to it. Allow me to be alone for a while.” Ami adjusted her heavy backpack. “I think I would like to go to the public library and study.”

“No way!” Usagi whimpered in protest. “Don’t go to a stupid library! Stay with us!”

“Please...” the distraught Ami dipped her head in sadness as she opened the apartment door. “You three enjoy the day. I will catch up with you later.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 71:

Rei maneuvered her way through the foot traffic of the jam-packed sidewalk as she hurried over to the Channel 6 News headquarters. She immediately regretted treating her friends so harshly. Sure, she was extremely irritated with everything that had taken place, but it was wrong of her to react like that even after another sleepless night. Now she may have alienated her best friends, and for what? She was most likely going to get fired when she arrived to the internship late for the second day in a row. And even if they kept her, what would she learn today? How to serve coffee or shred paper more efficiently? Was ruining her friendships over this trivial job really worth it?

 She sprinted through the lobby, bumping into several businessmen as she passed the globe sculpture on her way to the elevator shaft. She hunched over after entering the crammed space, gasping for air to catch her breath as the elevator zoomed upward to her floor.

“Only fifteen minutes late today.” Vernon Fenwick commented as he glanced down at his expensive watch and then back up at the Japanese intern with an arrogant smirk when she emerged from the elevator. His German protégé laughed as she took notice of her disheveled colleague. “Do you remember how we take our coffee?”

“Shut up, Vern!” April O’Neil interrupted after stepping out from her cubicle. “Go and pour your own damn coffee!”

“APRIL!” Burne Thompson’s voice boomed, startling Irma the secretary who nearly jumped out of her seat. “YOU AND YOUR INTERN, GET IN MY OFFICE, NOW!”

“Don’t worry. “April reassured her nervous trainee as they entered the conference room. “I’ll handle him!”

“Unbelievable...” Mr. Thompson shook his head as he leaned backward on his swivel chair. “Late for the second day in a row, Ms. Hino? What’s your excuse this time?”

“I had her pickup a gallon of milk and some creamers from the convenience store across the street.” April argued. “I noticed that we were out this morning, so I shot her a text. We oversee the supplying of the coffee-break room now, am I right?”

“Hmmph...” Burne folded his arms as he flipped through a stack of papers on his desk. Rei noticed it was her application, with her resume and background information. “That still doesn’t excuse her erratic behavior last night.”

“What happened now?” April sighed. “Doesn’t the CEO of a major news corporation have better things to do with his life then worry about what a young intern does during her time outside of work? It’s creepy!”

“It has been a slow news week.” Mr. Thompson sharpened his eyes. “And her actions become my business when I receive complaints from the Sunset Inn that a group of drunken girls caused a disturbance, garnishing several noise complaints from guests staying at that fine establishment!”

“What do you expect from a bunch of college kids traveling to New York City for the first time?” April countered. “Give me a break, you just have it in for her!”

“I’m sorry, but it just boggles my mind that a shrine maiden could associate with such delinquents and engage in profane behavior and illegal activities such as underage drinking and lord knows what else.” Mr. Thompson flipped through more pages. “Maybe she lied on this application, or forged the transcript of her grades. I have a hard time believing she maintained this high of a G.P.A.”

“I DID NOT LIE!” Rei started, but April held out a hand to silence her.

“Are you familiar with baseball? They play that sport in Japan too, right?” Burne asked as he pointed an accusing finger at Rei. “Well, this is your second strike. One more... and you ARE OUT OF HERE! Do I make myself perfectly clear?”

“Yes, sir...” Rei lowered her head in disgrace. Now she was at the mercy of this despicable boss. There wouldn’t be any more disturbances, because she doubted any of her friends would ever speak to her again.

“Good.” Burne nodded as he handed Rei over a set of keys on a metal ring.

“What’s this for?” the puzzled girl asked.

“Those are the keys to the janitor’s closet.” the portly CEO grinned. “He called out sick today. So I’m going to need you to mop up both of the bathrooms. And make sure you scrub them toilets good!”

April opened her mouth to protest, but Rei grabbed the keys out of his stubby fingers and stormed out of the conference room to the sound of the chief’s arrogant laughter.

 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 72:

“This is unbelievable!” Rei mumbled as she locked herself in the empty men’s restroom and slammed the end of a mop into a bucket of water. She couldn’t believe that she was actually doing this, but had to comply if she wanted to keep her coveted position. This was truly rock bottom. The lowest point of her academic life. She had applied to overseas internships all semester and was so excited when this one had accepted her. It seemed like a perfect opportunity to advance her goals, shadowing a famous journalist in one of the world’s most famous cities. This internship was supposed to be a life-changing experience, paving her way to international success, yet here she was mopping up a filthy bathroom floor. I guess it was a fitting punishment for acting so cruelly to her friends earlier this morning. Maybe she was getting exactly what she deserved. She looked at herself in the mirror and couldn’t help but notice how messy her appearance was. Dark circles had formed under her eyes from the lack of sleep, and the outfit she had thrown on in haste did not even match. She turned the sink’s knob and took a moment to wash her hands and face with soap. The warm water felt so refreshing as it caressed her pale skin. Then it occurred to her that this was the first time she was finally all alone since arriving, yet instead of being in the comfort of a luxurious hotel room, it was in a disgusting men’s restroom next to a pair of urinals.

“Yuuichirou...” Rei spoke his name as she scrambled through her pocketbook resting on top of the sink to find her cellphone. Now that she was finally alone, she could take a few minutes to call him. She found his name in her contacts list and frantically pressed the call button.

“REI!” The apprentice’s voice sounded so loud that it forced her to hold the phone away from her ears. “I’ve been worried sick about you! I was going to contact the local police precinct to report a missing person.”

“Shhhhh! Not so loud!” Rei whispered into the phone. She did not want Burne or Vernon to hear her talking when she should be working. “I’m sorry, but I can’t talk too long.”

“OKAY! I know you must be extremely busy!” Yuuichirou could not contain his excitement, but she could hear the jealously in his voice. “I am sure you are doing great in your internship and having an amazing time with your friends.”

“Not exactly.” Rei sighed. She wanted to tell him everything but could not elaborate further right now. “I just wanted to tell you that I am okay. And I’m sorry for not calling you sooner. Things have been a little crazy over here since I’ve arrived.”

“I thought that you had already captivated some American man with your amazing beauty and charm.” Yuuichirou responded. “And already forgotten about me!”

“No, I haven’t!” the aggravated Rei tried to convince her insecure boyfriend. “The truth is, I am upset about a lot of things I’ve done. I’ve really screwed up and I want to talk about it with you later.”

“Of course, you know I am always here for you.” the concerned Yuuichirou implored. “I’ll be up all-night waiting for you to call back. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me at any hour, I don’t mind!”

“Thank you.” Rei knew he she could always depend on him to listen to her. There was no doubt that he would try to come up with any excuse in the book to justify her outburst, but that would not make her feel any better. None of his praising would likely change how she low felt right now. Makoto’s nasty insult lingered in her mind. Maybe she was right. It was her that had become coldhearted and rude, blaming everyone else for her own mistakes. She should have expressed her feelings from the beginning, like she did with Yuuichirou instead of hoping that they would not be able to get the plane tickets. If it wasn’t for Usagi, she probably wouldn’t have any friends at all. She could never forgive herself for kicking her away like an animal. But there was something she could do to help, even if she chose never to speak with her again. “One more thing, I have a favor to ask of you.”

“What is it?” the temple apprentice asked. “I’ll do anything for you!”

“Mamoru Chiba...”

“What about him...” the tone of his voice darkened upon the very mention of the man’s name.

“I need you to find a way to contact him.” Rei stated. “Usagi dropped her phone at the airport you see...”

“I know.” he interrupted. “I have it here with me. It’s been ringing off the hook!”

“Have you picked up the phone at all?”

“Nope.” He said. “I just let it go to voicemail. This guy must be so clingy! Why can’t he just give the poor girl some space!”

“You IDIOT!” Rei hoped no one outside the restroom heard her scream. “They got into an awful fight at the airport. He must be desperate to reach her. Now he probably thinks she is ignoring him. You of all people should understand how depressed he must feel!”

“I’m sorry!” he begged for forgiveness.

“It’s fine!“ she sighed. “Just get a hold of him. Tell him Usagi is fine and wants to make up, but can’t contact him because YOU have her phone!”

“Really?” he hesitated. “I have to do all that?”

“Yes, really!” Rei screeched. “Do it NOW!”

Just then a knock sounded from the bathroom door.

Rei instantly hung up her phone call at the realization that Mr. Thompsons may have caught her slacking off by. Could that be the third strike?

“Rei!” April’s voice sounded from the other side of the door, much to her relief. “Are you in there?”

“Yes.” Rei opened the door with the drippy mop in both hands.

“Get out of this filthy place.” April took the mop away. “We are going out in the field to cover a live story.”

“What?” Rei couldn’t believe it. “How’d that happen?”

“I let Mr. Thompson have it for making you do this.” April said. “I told him I would help you file a lawsuit for performing manual labor outside of the description of your work title and cited several labor laws. That put a good scare into him and he agreed to send us out into the field for the day to get rid of us, I guess.”

“Thank you.” Rei exhaled as she stepped out of the restroom. April had been nothing but kind to her so far and always came to her defense despite hardly knowing her. Meeting Ms. O’Neil was the only good thing to come out of this experience so far. Hopefully their time in the field would be a pleasant escape from all the drama in her life. “So what story will we cover exactly?”

“There are special summer events going on downtown, in Battery Park today.”

“Really?” Rei asked. “What events?”

“There will be jazz performance, followed by a dance recital.”

“Sounds fun.” Rei perked up. “I can’t wait!”

“Well...” April sighed. “Vern and his intern will be covering that job, unfortunately. We are to do a report on the chess tournament at the other end of the park.”

“A chess tournament...” Rei’s disappointment clearly obvious in her voice.

“You don’t sound so excited. Cheer up!” April smiled, wrapping an arm around the intern’s shoulders in support. “Things could always be worse. I once had to cover a fat cabbie contest!”

“Fat cabbie contest?” the perplexed girl repeated the words in confusion while they walked down the office hall towards the elevator.

“Yes!” she nodded after waving goodbye to Irma at the front desk. “A bunch of taxi drivers were having a competition to see who could eat the most cheeseburgers in an eight-hour shift.”

“Is that a popular sport in this country?” Rei asked, pressing the button for the lobby after they stepped into the lift.

“No, luckily it was a onetime thing!” April chuckled. “Thank goodness it didn’t catch on.”

“I see.” Rei sighed once the elevator reached the lobby.

“Come on, let’s go!” April retrieved the keys to the company van from her pocket and jingled them in her hands. “It will beat cleaning the men’s room, I promise!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 73:

“I think this is our stop!” Minako shouted in excitement. She pushed her way out of the crammed subway car and stepped onto the platform, signaling for her two companions to follow her lead.

She made her way through a throng of cranky commuters and hustled up a long flight of steps, following the arrows of a red exit sign. The warm summer sun caressed her face as she glanced around her surroundings once outside. A beautiful park was right across the street, with balloons and other decorations to draw visitors. She could hear instrumental music and see costumed dancers atop a stage, making her beam with excitement. How lucky! There must have a festival in that park today. She was eager to check it out, but her friends had not caught up with her just yet. What was taking them so long? Minako peered down the subway entrance to find Makoto ushering a sluggish Usagi up the concrete steps.

“Still not feeling well?” Minako asked once they finally joined her on the sidewalk. “You sure are a light-weight!”

“My tummy still hurts, and I have a pounding headache.” Usagi whimpered. “But that’s the least of my troubles.”

“Don’t worry, everything will work itself out!” Minako reassured, sensing that the argument in the hotel room still bothered her friend. “How many fights have you and Rei had over the years?”

“I am used to her being mean to me...” the tear eyed Usagi continued. “But Ami... it devastated her.”

“Rei definitely crossed the line this time. She said such terrible things about all of us.” Makoto agreed. “Even if she apologizes, I can never look at her the same way again. I won’t forgive her for this!”

“Don’t say that!” Usagi fought back.

“What’s done is done.” Makoto frowned. “You can’t take back certain things.”

“Come on, girls!” Minako broke up the argument as she ran across the crosswalk to the park’s entrance. “It’s such a beautiful day out, let’s go check out that festival across the street!”

“I thought we were going to see the statue of liberty today?” Makoto asked.

“Sorry, but I am not in the mood for any of these things...” Usagi whimpered. “I just want to go back to the hotel so I can lie down and sleep.”

“Rei banned us from there, remember!” Makoto argued as she eyed a vendor with various t-shirts and hats next to the park. “Come on, Usagi, we can’t let her poor attitude ruin the rest of our trip!”

“How about we take the Staten Island Ferry.” Minako suggested as she flipped through a tourism brochure as her friend browsed for souvenirs. “It says here that it is a leisurely boat ride where guests can get an excellent view of the Statue from the observation deck with plenty of photo opportunities, and most importantly, its FREE!”

“Free sounds good to me.” Makoto agreed, handing the vendor over a ten-dollar bill after finding a Yankees cap that caught her eye. She placed it over her head and pulled her ponytail over the adjustable strap in the back. “Maybe I’ll be able to afford field level tickets to the baseball game later!

“I’ll do that, I guess ...” Usagi sighed as Minako happily bought a white t-shirt that read I <3 NY, throwing it on over her current outfit. She then grabbed her hand and pulled her in the direction of the ferry terminal.

End of act III

Chapter Text

SAILOR MOON X TMNT: TURTLES AND THE HARE

ACT IV: FERRY FOLLIES

Chapter 74

“This must be it!” Minako raced along the sidewalk until she reached her destination. It was a square shaped glass building by the water sporting a sign that spelled out STATEN ISLAND FERRY in giant blue letters to greet the oncoming tourists and commuters. She hurried into the lobby and up an escalator, pushing her way through a sizable crowd awaiting the next boat.

“Aww look! What a cute little ship!” Minako remarked once she spotted the orange ferry approaching the dock. Locals eyed the upbeat tourist with annoyance as she marveled at the mundane boat they took to and from work each day. She pressed her hands against the glass dividing door, watching the handsome businessmen disembark. They walked out of the slipway and into the terminal before descending the stairs that led them to the busy streets of downtown Manhattan.

Minako burst through an opening once the sliding glass door granted her enough room to board the ferry. She beckoned for her friends to hustle so they could secure seats with the perfect view of the statue, but they seemed to lack her upbeat enthusiasm. A foghorn sounded as the blonde dashed up to the ferry’s top level and found a row of benches on the outer perimeter of the boat. This looked like the perfect place to sit and enjoy the scenic view of New York’s skyline. It was getting hot out, but the ship’s motion provided a gentle breeze as it drifted away from the dock. She readied her phone when the ferry neared the Statue of Liberty and snapped pictures of herself in various poses with the iconic monument in the background.

“Come on, Usagi!” Minako pulled her sluggish friend off the bench and stretched out her phone. “Take a selfie with me!”

“No, I don’t want to!” the distraught Usagi sniffled, throwing herself back onto the bench. “Leave me alone!”

“Maybe we can get a shot together when the ferry makes the return trip.” Minako suggested. She leaned over the railing to catch another glimpse of the statue before it disappeared out of view while admiring the towering skyscrapers in the distance. “What do you want to do next?”

“Is there anything worth seeing on Staten Island?” a doubtful Makoto asked.

“Staten Island is a mostly a residential community that was once home to world’s largest landfill!“Minako said after performing a quick google search on her phone. “Apparently they were going to build a Ferris wheel to attract more tourists, but it never materialized.”

“Too bad.” Makoto commented. “Usagi, you would’ve loved that, right?”

“No! I can’t enjoy anything fun ever again! In fact, I’m never leaving this boat!” Usagi pouted, pounding her fists into the bench like a crybaby. The mentioning of a Ferris Wheel had reminded her of the date she had with Mamoru at the amusement park before deciding to go on this ill-fated trip. She remembered that kiss they shared in the tunnel of love after she had confessed her fears about Rei taking this internship. Mamoru tried to convince her that her friends would never abandon her no matter what distance separated them, but she did not listen to his advice.

Now, not only was the relationship with her boyfriend strained, but she had fractured one of her most important friendships. Things would never go back to the way they once were, no matter how badly she wanted them to. Her fond memories of the Sailor Team were all that remained from the happiest time in her life. And that kiss in the tunnel... perhaps it was it the last one they would ever share. There was no way she could appreciate her time here in this fantastic city. It took a great deal of restraint not to curl up in a ball and cry her eyes out. She wondered what advice Luna would give her if she was around. She missed her wise cat and wanted nothing more than to return home so that that she could talk with Mamoru and give Rei some space to cool off.

Chapter Text

Chapter 75

“It’s time to go!” Makoto implored after the ferry captain announced that the ferry would dock in Manhattan momentarily. The athletic one tried to pry her depressed companion from the bench, but could not break Usagi’s grip around the metal bench despite her superior physical strength. “I’ll buy you lunch and some sweets! Anything you want, it’s on me!”

“Just let me stay here.” the sobbing Usagi muttered through her tears. “I’m too depressed to eat!”

“Whining won’t change anything!” a frustrated Makoto gave up her efforts to separate her stubborn friend from the seat. “I’m tired of this boring boat, let’s go!”

“I’ve taken selfies with the statue at every angle possible.” Minako agreed as she swiped through the pictures on her device. The ones with her friends did not come out too good. She was the only one smiling in the pictures. “Come on, Usagi!”

“No!” Usagi stammered. “I’m not moving!”

“Excuse me, girls.” a young police officer in a crisp navy blue uniform interrupted. He had a silver badge with several medals pinned to his chest. An eight point cap sat atop his brown hair and a sharp pair of aviator sunglasses covered his unseen eyes. “Didn’t you hear the announcement? All passengers must depart the ferry. Time to go!”

“Oh? We are so sorry, mister officer!” Minako lit up at the site of the handsome man in uniform. She nudged for the teary-eyed Usagi to sit up to check him out. “We are tourists from Japan. My friend here wants to ride the boat one more time if that’s okay with you.”

“If you want to make the return trip back to Staten Island, just enter the waiting room and get back on the boat.” the officer advised. “I know it sounds stupid, but those are the rules.”

“Will you be there?” the flirtatious Minako asked. “On the next ferry ride?”

“Yes. I kinda’ have to be.” The confused cop ushered the girls off the boat. “It’s my job.”

“Can you give us a tour of the ferry?“ Minako gasped with excitement. “Introduce me to the captain and show us the engine room. I want to see how this boat operates!”

“I’m afraid I’d lose my job if I were to do that.” He answered before distancing himself from the pesky foreigner.

“I guess I don’t mind taking one more trip!” Minako commented once they re-entered the terminal. “That blue uniform looked so sharp on that police officer, don’t you think, Usagi?”

“Are you kidding?” Makoto sighed. “I’m not wasting another hour of my life on a boring ferry ride! We have an entire city to explore!”

“Do it for Usagi!” Minako wrapped her arms around their depressed friend’s shoulders. “Have some consideration!”

“Don’t give me that crap! You just want to talk to that cop again.” Makoto argued. “Or try to meet another boy after you strike out with him! You promised that you would go to a baseball game with me, but all you do is get distracted whenever you see a cute guy!”

“That’s not true!” Minako said while waving frantically at the police officer as he opened the gate to allow passengers to board the ferry.

“Whatever, I’m out of here!” Makoto gave up. “I’m going to catch up with Ami. Hopefully she won’t flake out on me like you always do.” 

Chapter Text

Chapter 76:

Ami Mizuno kept her head low, ignoring the many costumed characters that tried to entice the tourist to take a picture with them in the crowded district. She hurried away from the shops and bright lights of Times Square and towards 5th Avenue where she would find the New York Public Library that she had circled on her map. The heavy backpack weighed her down, slowing her pace. She filled it with enough textbooks to keep her busy for the rest of the day. The fight in the apartment earlier this morning had left her feeling crushed. Usagi would try to blame herself for Rei’s tantrum, but it was not her fault. She was the one who went against her instincts to get everyone the tickets for this trip at the last minute. Everything Rei said about her was correct, and now their friendship was ruined because of her rash decision.

Her worst fears were coming true. Change in all of their lives was inevitable, but she had lost her friends even sooner than she had expected. That is why she wanted to spend the day alone at the library, to get away from everything and everyone. She always felt at ease by herself with a delightful book in her hands. Perhaps she should just fully commit to her career in medical science and accept the fact that she would be alone with no friends or family.

“I can’t believe this darned thing broke down on us again! And at the worst possible time!” a cloaked figure wearing a trench-coat and fedora hovered over the open hood of a peculiar yellow van. The roof resembled a turtle shell, captivating Ami’s attention with its unique design. Smoke poured out of engine, clouding the frustrated person as he struggled in his repairs. “I enhanced the cooling system, replaced the carburetor, topped off all the fluids, swapped out the air filters, checked the fuselage and this engine continues to overheat and stall out!”

“Relax, bro!” a response came from the front passenger seat. A white cardboard box covered his face and blocked off most of the windshield. “Have some of this custom pizza I ordered! It’s loaded with chocolate-chip pancakes, bacon and scrambled eggs. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day after-all!”

“Get this piece of junk on wheels outta here!” a cranky police officer threatened. “You are blocking the bus lane and holding up traffic!”

“Just give me a minute.” Donatello asked without looking up from under the hood.

“Move it, pal! Or I’m going to have you towed!”

“Excuse me, sir. Is that a 1973 Volkswagen transporter bus with a type-two engine?” the meek Ami interrupted as she approached the peculiar vehicle. Part of her did not want to go to the library. She was tired of being an endless slave to her studies. A pleasant distraction would take her mind away from her books and the horrific fight with Rei. This dilemma could be such an opportunity to do something else she enjoyed. She was on vacation, after all.

“You are correct, besides a few slight modifications I’ve made, of course.” Donatello’s head smacked against the hood after hearing the peculiar girl’s soft voice. The fedora fell off his head as he turned to face the young woman, exposing his an ugly green head with a purple bandana covering his dark eyes.

“I have a bit of engineering experience.” Ami backpedaled a few steps at the man’s grotesque appearance, but assumed that he was in an elaborate costume like those she noticed in Times Square pandering for pictures with tourists. The attention to detail on this reptilian face was incredible. “I once helped rebuild a custom vintage car similar to this one. Maybe I can locate the source of your troubles.”

“Feel free to take a look! I need all the help I can get at this point.” the desperate turtle extended a gloved hand and helped her hop onto the chrome bumper so she could see the rear engine up close. “My name is Donatello.”

“I’m afraid I haven’t seen anything quite like this before.” the nervous Ami gasped after introducing herself. She viewed the smoky machine’s interior. Everything inside appeared built from parts of other vehicles or contained crude custom made parts. It excited her to see something so unique. She rolled up the long sleeves of her outfit and dug her bobbed head in for a closer examination. “Hand me an adjustable wrench, please.” 

“I rebuilt this engine from scratch to soup her up a bit.” the proud Donatello sorted through his toolbox, handing her whatever instruments she requested. The unlikely engineer tinkered with the van for several minutes. He pressed the fedora down on his head and glanced over his shoulder to see the impatient police officer standing nearby with his arms folded across his chest.

“There!” Ami emerged from the engine covered with a mixture of black soot, oil and grease, but a timid smile had formed for the first time since the terrible argument. “I believe I may have solved your issue.”

“Hey, Mikey!” Donatello called out. “Fire up the turtle van.”

Ami glanced at the windshield where the other green figure reached over the pizza box to turn the key. A large turtle shell covered his back. It looked like more than just a costume. Who were these two?

“Amazing work!” Donatello remarked when the engine buzzed back to life. The shy tourist fixed his engine in such a short period. “Mind telling me what you did? Was it the transmission?”

“Well, it was quite a simple fix, really.” Ami started while handing over the tools she borrowed. “All I did was...”

“GET THAT VAN OUTTA HERE!” the cop interrupted as he tapped his baton against his palm.

“Maybe we can finish this conversation another time.” the green-faced stranger scrambled back to the driver’s seat. “Thanks a lot, Ami!”

“Peace out, dudette!” the companion in the passenger seat shouted as the van pulled off the curb and sped away from the meddling cop. “That was totally fabuloso!”

“Fabuloso?” Ami retrieved her backpack from the sidewalk and retrieved a wipe from one of her pouches, cleaning off the grime from her arms and face. Working on the car had uplifted her spirits ever so slightly. It was a scientific hobby she enjoyed, but rarely had the time to partake in because of her hectic academic life. How many fun things would she have to sacrifice in her life in order to achieve her dream of being a doctor? Would she lose all her friends as she feared? That seemed inevitable at this point. What about her hobbies and activities too? What semblance of her life would she have after starting her career? Her own mother could hardly enjoy watching her grow up over the years. All these concerns plagued her mind, but it was too late to change course. She had worked and studied for years to reach this point. It was her destiny to help those in need in save lives. Even if it meant being alone and solitary.

     Rei was right, the Sailor Team was dead. They all needed to continue down their own paths. That’s why it was wrong to disrupt Rei’s internship. How stupid was she to think this was a good idea? Maybe it was all for the best. She could no longer hurt those she cared about with foolish decisions like this last-minute trip had turned out to be.

 It was time to get back to studying. She had neglected her reading long enough on this trip already. Ami let out an audible sigh as she slung the backpack over her shoulders and continued on her way to the library, her eyes staring down at the sidewalk in sadness.

Chapter Text

Chapter 77:

“We finally made it!” April O’Neil announced after parallel parking the blue Channel 6 News Van in a tight spot between two cars alongside Battery Park. “I never thought we’d get here with all that traffic!”

Rei jumped out of the passenger’s seat, immediately noticing the crowd of people gathering here for the festival. Vendors were selling various souvenirs and street food including hotdogs, roasted peanuts and large pretzels covered in salt. Locals and tourists alike poured into the park through an archway of colorful balloons, making their way towards a grand stage set up in the center of the park.

A dancer swayed her hips as she sang into a microphone atop the platform. Her beautiful voice reverberated through the loudspeakers while a team of musicians played their brass instruments behind her. Minako would love this performance, she thought briefly to herself, but could not find the courage to text her after that terrible outburst in the hotel room.

“I believe the chess tournament is that way, ladies! Have fun covering that riveting event!” Vernon Fenwick pointed in a direction away from the stage as his intern and the rest of the news crew gathered their equipment out of the van. “We wish we could join you, but Frieda and I have our hands full with this story, sadly. My student is going to interview that wonderful up-and-coming talent you see on stage. Mr. Thompson is going to put her on prime time with this special!”

“Good luck!” April smiled warmly at the German, ignoring her boastful mentor’s snide remarks. She tugged on Rei’s arm, leading her down a tree-lined path before she could lash back. April could see it in her eyes that she had enough of Vern’s sarcasm and mistreatment. The fiery young woman was ready to let him have it, but she wanted to save her from getting a third strike. Fenwick would definitely report any misbehavior, just to embarrass April further. “See you later!”

The chess tournament had a much larger turnout than they both expected. There was a smaller stage set up with its back to the waters where the Hudson and East River joined. Governors island, Ellis island and the statue of liberty monument were visible out in the distance thanks to the cloudless sky. An orange ferry boat packed with people caught Rei’s eye as it slowly made its pass by the statue on its way further south.

    A large monitor showcasing a top-down view of several of the tournament games in progress. There was a grand prize of a thousand dollars awarded to the winner, and the runners up would win smaller consolations. Many of the diverse group of participants were young and close to her age, including a couple of handsome bachelors that Minako would have chased after.

“Ami...” Rei shook her head in grief. Her scholarly friend loved to play chess and would have kicked the competition’s butt. It would have been an easy thousand dollars for the brainiac to win. She knew that her selfless friend would have gladly split the prize with all of them to celebrate with a memorable night out in the city.

April and the crew set up a staging area to prepare for the shoot, but Rei could not concentrate on the task at hand. She felt incredibly guilty for treating Ami so poorly. Of course Ami would accept an apology, but she did not deserve forgiveness. In fact, she was not worthy of their friendship, especially Usagi’s for always giving her a hard time. Sure, Usagi was an immature brat and clueless scatterbrain that tried her patience, but she was her best friend. They would constantly get into squabbles and bicker about nonsensical things, but Usagi would take none of it seriously. At the end of the day, they always had each other’s back through thick and thin. 

Rei stared out into the rippling waters of the harbor, watching the ferry wade down river. She remembered a time when Michiru made a comment that she was Usagi’s best friend because of how often they argued. She scoffed at the notion and thought it was utter nonsense, but now understood the meaning of Sailor Neptune’s wisdom. They had truly accepted one another for their own faults and felt comfortable being themselves. Usagi had been the perfect counterbalance to her seriousness over the years, forcing her to relax and not be so uptight about everything. It was too late to fix things now. She had gone over the edge with her behavior to make amends.

“Is everything okay?” April approached the distraught protegee.

“Yes.” Rei nodded, masking her feelings. “I’m fine.”

“Great!” Ms. O'Neil exclaimed. “I hope you are ready, because you are going to interview one of the highly ranked contestants on live TV!”

“Me?” The intern gasped, turning away from the water to face her mentor. This was not what she was expecting on her second day on the job. She thought she would only observe April for now, but her teacher was already trusting her to perform a live broadcast. How could she go on television looking like this, in a wrinkly dress with no hair or makeup adjustments?

“Yes, you!” the yellow clad woman beamed. “I want to show Burne and the rest of the world just how talented you are. Just wait till we see the look on Fenwick’s face when he finds out!”

“Are you sure about this?” the foreign intern hesitated. April was giving her all that she had hoped to achieve, but this opportunity caught her off guard. Was she ready for the spotlight despite all the distractions in her personal life? How could she stay focused?

“It will be easy, I promise! All you need to do is read these questions I’ve written for you.” April patted her shoulders with encouragement. “I will coach you and give you plenty of tips. We can practice until they are ready for us. I know you can do it!”

“Okay.” Rei nodded, picturing the smug grin on Fenwick’s face that she knew would be waiting for her at the office if she screwed this up. “I’ll do it...”

Chapter Text

Chapter 78:

“Is your friend going to be alright?” the baffled police officer asked after noticing the pigtailed blonde sprawled out on the orange bench. The two girls were returning to Manhattan for the third time now. Usagi was acting even more glum after Makoto had left them, staying in the bottom level of the boat instead of the observation deck like their first voyage. Minako sat with her distraught companion, scrolling through her phone to pass the time until but she spotted the bored officer patrolling through their sparse section.

“My friend Usagi has had a rough couple of days.” Minako jumped out of her seat in delight after the concerned officer addressed them. “Do you want to hear about it? We need a man’s opinion!”

“I.... ugh....” the disinterested officer glanced over his shoulders to see if anyone else needed his assistance. He reached for his radio, pretending that he was receiving a transmission.

“Your job can wait, put that radio down! This drama is more important!” the pesky tourist would not relent. “My friend Usagi here is bit hung-over today...”

“Hungover?” The cop scoffed. “Aren’t you two a little young to be drinking?”

“We are both older than twenty-one, silly!” Minako giggled. “But she may have gone a little overboard last night.”

“Sure.” The cop took a step away to continue his patrol.

 “I kept feeding her drinks because she may have broken up with her long-term boyfriend. They had a massive fight before we came here. Then she lost her phone at the airport and can’t contact him because she doesn’t remember his number by heart. Such a pity!”

“I really need to go...” the cop started, but the animated girl continued ranting.

“Oh, it was so terrible, officer!” Minako exclaimed. “Now we’ve been thrown out of our hotel room after possibly getting our friend fired from her internship. We were staying with her you see....”

“Look, I’d love to stay and chat.” The cop interfered. “But If I don’t patrol the rest of the boat, the sergeant will be on my ass!”

“We will accompany you then!” Minako poked her friend in the back. “Right, Usagi?”

“Just go...” Usagi lifted her face off the bench with tears in her eyes. “Leave me here.”

“I can’t do that!” Minako turned to watch the cop continue down the narrow walkway. “Come with me!”

“It’s okay, really.” Usagi tried to break a smile. She was in no mood to walk, but did not want Minako to be angry with her as well. “I’ll be fine...”

“Thanks, Usagi! I’ll be back in a few minutes.” Minako assured, keeping her eyes locked on the young officer’s behind. “He’s so cute! I think he likes me!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 79:

Usagi watched Minako chase the irritated cop up a staircase and out of her life. Everyone she cared about had vanished, leaving her with nothing but sadness and grief. First it was Mamoru who had broken her heart, now all of her friends had followed suit. Never in her life had she felt so abandoned and alone, stuck in a foreign country thousands of miles from the comfort of her own home. She collapsed to the bench, allowing the tears to flow freely out of her eyes. Her biggest fears in the world had become a reality.

A blinding light pulsated through the windowpanes, startling the depressed girl from her wails of sorrow. The boat swayed on both sides, nearly capsizing. Usagi tumbled off the bench and smacked against the grimy floor. She crawled underneath the bench, staring in horror as an army of men clad in purple hoods stormed onto the boat, shooting at helpless passengers with advanced weaponry. Ninjas baring a red foot symbol on their forehead were everywhere in a matter of seconds, crashing through the glass panes on all sides of the boat. It was as if they had manifested out of thin air. This could not be happening!

     Bright laser bolts flew throughout the cabin, targeting innocent bystanders. Usagi trembled in her hiding place as a laser beam struck an innocent lady from behind, knocking her flat on her face. The ninja hovered over the terrified woman with his gun and squeezed the trigger. An essence emerged from the body, sucked into his gun as if it was a vacuum cleaner. The victim let out a deafening shriek, howling in pain until finally losing consciousness.

“They stole her energy!” Usagi could not believe her own words as the ninja hunted after his next victim. The Sailor Team had defeated many dangerous enemies who employed this same tactic. Had one of them returned? Usagi shuddered at the thought of it. Fear shook her to the core, freezing her in place under the bench. More mysterious soldiers swarmed the area, scanning the lower level for additional targets. She cowered below her seat, praying that the ninjas would not spot her. Never had she felt so alone.

“Minako...” Usagi gasped after realizing that her friend on the upper deck may have fallen prey to this vicious assault. She could not remain hidden forever. Crying would not summon Mamoru or any of her guardians to defeat these bad guys. Usagi’s heart raced as she reached into her pocket and pulled out a heart-shaped brooch. It contained the legendary Silver Crystal that gave her the ability to transform into an ancient Sailor Senshi. She still carried it everywhere, but did not think she’d have to use this power from her past life ever again.

       It was up to her to save Minako from danger. Usagi would always be there for those she loved, even if it meant placing herself in harm’s way. She truly hated fighting, and thought the days of fighting evil were long in the past, but there was no other choice at the moment. The pigtailed girl crawled out from under the orange bench when the coast was clear, clutching her broach against her chest. She never imagined that she would have to transform again, especially in New York City of all places, but she could not sit idly by after an enemy attacked the Staten Island Ferry.

“MOON PRISM POWER MAKEUP!” The Staten Island Ferry vanished upon shouting the words. Gone were the ninjas and the innocent victims of their terrible assault. A rainbow of bright colors swam around her weightless form, filling Usagi with a comforting warmth. Her mismatched street clothes disappeared one by one, replaced with her trademark sailor suit, with boots, gloves and a shimmering tiara. The brooch remained pinned to a big red bow across her chest. It reminded her of the power she possessed deep within her soul. The legendary silver crystal, along with the love she shared for Mamoru and her guardians, gave her the strength she needed to face this new foe. She would fight to win her friends back, even if she had to take on this army of ninjas by herself.

Chapter Text

Chapter 80:

“What kind of music do you listen to?” Minako pestered the handsome cop. She hooked her hands around his arm and leaned against his navy blue uniform. “I’m going to be a famous pop idol and sell plutonium albums, you’ll see! Would you like me to sing for you?”

“I suggest you let go.” the stern officer cautioned. “Unless you want to spend the night in a jail cell!”

“Oh, please arrest me! I’ve been such a bad girl this year!” Minako giggled. “Put me in those handcuffs and take me to the police station for processing! You can frisk me for weapons, read me my rights, and take my fingerprints. We can get to know each other while you file the paperwork! It will be our first date! What an awesome story to tell our future children!”

“I’m serious!” the cop shook his hand free. Why couldn’t some dirtbag commit a crime on this damn ferry so he could get away from this annoying tourist? “This is your last warn...”

A bizarre explosion granted his wish when it rumbled from just above the ferry, interrupting the one sided flirting. There was no damage to the boat. Instead, an expanding void roared like a thunderstorm, cackling in the cloudless sky above the open waters. The boat swayed back and forth like a seesaw, tossing the bickering pair away like a couple of rag dolls while a purple light filtered through the windows on all sides of the vessel.

“What was that?” Minako landed right on top of the officer’s vest with a thud. “It wasn’t me, I swear it!”

“Stay down!” the cop pushed the girl away and scrambled to his feet. He drew his firearm from its holster when a group of heavily armed criminals came flooding the steps from the roof. The officer took cover behind a post and aimed his weapon. “Shit, it’s the foot-clan!”

Foot-clan? She wondered. These invaders resembled stereotypical ninjas from her native Japan, clad in dark matching uniforms with hoods concealing their faces. What were they doing here in New York?

“Look out!” Minako shouted, but it was too late. A stealthy ninja dropped from a vent in the ceiling and blasted the policeman with his laser rifle before the cop could even react, sapping the very life out of his body. The officer collapsed to the floor, his pistol slipping out of his lifeless fingers.

Minako crawled behind a snack-bar in the center of the ferry, hiding behind a popcorn machine to avoid the enemy fire. The cornels continued to burst out of the metal pan and into the glass container below. Its wonderful aroma made her stomach grumble in hunger. Minako peered over the counter and noted the many motionless victims sprawled out on the ferry’s benches and floor.

She sank back behind the counter, pressing her fingers against her cheeks at the horror she had just witnessed. Why was this happening? Every aspect of this trip had turned into a complete disaster. She wanted to come to New York, not only to have some fun with her friends, but to escape the failures of a tough year at the University. She had made light of her troubles, too embarrassed to tell her friends how much of a struggle it was to adjust to life on campus without them. On the surface she appeared like everything was perfectly fine, but that was far from the case. Instead of confiding in Usagi and the rest, she kept her dire problems secret, leading to more drinking, partying, and throwing herself at every boy she met.

But none of that mattered anymore. A new enemy had appeared, stealing energy away from innocent civilians. It was terrifying and exciting at the same time. She could not allow this evil deed go unpunished. But what about Usagi? She had abandoned her to chase after that attractive cop. The heartbroken scatterbrain remained on the lower level with dozens of those ninjas firing their deadly laser guns. Protecting the moon princess was her sworn duty, and she had failed.

“Rei was right about me all along...” Minako shook her head in shame after recalling their argument. It was painfully true, all she cared about since starting college was partying and meeting guys. She had lost focus of her ambition to sing and become an idol. Her obsessions caused her to neglect her academics and nearly ruined all her friendships. It may be too late for her to change the past, but there was still time to redeem herself by saving Usagi and defeating these evil forces.

“VENUS POWER.... MAKE UP!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 81:

 Sailor Moon made her way up a staircase, taking her to the middle section of the ferryboat. This area was much more heavily trafficked than the one beneath her. Hundreds of innocents had already fallen victim to the enemy’s lasers that she could hardly move without carefully stepping over their lifeless bodies. Who was behind this terrible assault? She would punish those responsible, but first she had to find Minako. A laser beam whizzed by her head, nearly searing off her one of her long pigtails. More cloaked enemies turned the corner and began firing in her direction at once.

“Ahh!” Sailor Moon screeched in fright, running as fast as she could in her red boots. She hurdled over benches and zigzagged around unmoving bodies while a flurry of lasers sailed past her. Dozens of ninjas were chasing after her, and each shot they took came closer to finding its mark.

“Oh, No!” Sailor Moon came to a halt after noticing that another horde of assailants charged at her from the opposite direction, trapping her in the center of the boat. She spun around quickly, but one of her boots snagged onto a man’s pant leg. Usagi tumbled to the floor and came face to face with the unconscious police officer as lasers whirred over her the buns on her head. Luckily, a few ninjas got obliterated by friendly fire thanks to the accidental fall. Usagi watched in horror as they crumpled to the floor, with a ghostly mist evaporating out of their matching uniforms.

    Her clumsiness had saved her temporarily, but the remaining soldiers were closing in on her position. The only avenue of escape available was a snack bar just a few feet away. She scrambled over to the food stand, but it was too late. Hooded fighters fired their weapons at their magical adversary, filling the ferry with the brilliant glow of purple energy.

      Sailor Moon braced herself from impact, shielding her face out of instinct when a popcorn machine tipped over, shielding her from danger. Buttery popcorn littered the floor as a gloved arm stretched out, yanking Usagi behind the counter. Laser bolts pelted into the bar, bursting beer bottles and soda cans. Bags of potato chips, peanuts, and nachos popped until there was nothing left but a ruined pizza oven behind her.

“I knew you’d get hungry at some point!” Sailor Venus smiled down at the moon princess after pulling her to safety. A mixture of ketchup, mustard, barbeques sauce and soft drinks splattered against their sailor suits from the constant peppering of lasers. They would not remain protected here for long. It was time to strike back.

“CRESCENTBEAM!” Sailor Venus leapt onto the counter and pointed a finger the startled ninjas, summoning a powerful force of golden light that blinded the encroaching the soldiers. The searing flash jolted every muscle in their bodies upon impact, forcing them to drop their weapons as they collapsed to the popcorn covered floor in agonizing pain.

“MOON... TIARA... ACTION!!!” Sailor Moon emerged from the bar and launched her golden headpiece at the remaining soldiers before they could get a single shot off at her vulnerable guardian. The shimmering circlet turned into a glowing white disk as it smashed into the ninjas in rapid succession, before it returned to her outstretched hand like a boomerang. She caught the tiara and marveled at it for a moment before placing it back on her forehead. It had been quite a long time since she had used that attack.

“Sailor Moon!” Venus leapt off the bar counter and hugged her companion. “I should never have left you. I’m so sorry!”

“Thank goodness you are okay.” Sailor Moon glanced down at the unconscious officer on the deck who was not so fortunate. Venus bent down to caress his clean-shaven face. Enemies had drained his energy along with the rest of the fallen passengers and staff. The sight of so many lifeless New Yorkers brought her to tears. “Do you think a new enemy has invaded the earth?

“It certainly appears that way.” Venus stood up from the fainted officer and glanced at the stairs leading to the upper level. The explosion from earlier sounded from above the ship. Maybe that is where they could locate the source of this evil disturbance. “We need to get to the roof. I believe we will find our answers up there.”

“Okay.” an apprehensive Sailor Moon nodded. She was so scared that her legs trembled in her boots. “Let’s go…”

Chapter Text

Chapter 82:

“Looks like we are a bit late to the party.” Casey Jones shielded his eyes and pointed at the Manhattan bound ferry drifting in open waters. A burst like an exploding star opened a gaping rift right above the orange vessel. Hundreds of the Shredder’s henchmen dropped out of the portal, taking the boat by storm. They landed on its roof and split up into separate teams. Some filtered down the porthole on the bow and stern while the rest slid down ladders on each flank, kicking through windows on each level. Within a matter of seconds, a mighty force of foot soldiers had completely overwhelmed the Staten Island Ferry.

“Step on it!” an anxious Leonardo ordered.

“I hate missing the opening kickoff.” Casey Jones maxed the throttle of the makeshift turtle raft that Donnie had assembled earlier this morning. A powerful fan hummed to life, blowing their hovercraft over foamy waves that nearly sank the pitiful craft with each splash. Leonardo readied a grappling hook as they veered alongside the ferry. He could see the sparkling flashes of laser beams as the foot-clan fought their way across the lower levels of the boat. Shredder had summoned an army out of the rift in space in order to carry out his attack, leaving the innocent commuters defenseless. This sorceress ally of his was proving to be a formidable foe. How could they possibly compete with her magic?

“Let’s play ball!” Casey brought the raft to a halt. He slipped his goalie mask over his long black hair and slung a packed golf-bag around his shoulders fully loaded with clubs, bats, hockey-sticks and other sporting goods. Leonardo tossed the grappling hook, snagging the railing of the observation deck. He zipped up the rope and aboard the troubled ship before the crazy sports fanatic could even blink.

Leonardo drew his katana upon touching down on the deck. The stealthy turtle wasted no time, barreling his shell into an unsuspecting foot soldier. He swung his twin blades like the wind, disarming a fighter before he knew what hit him. His swords gleamed throughout the hall, vanquishing countless foes before they could escape the mutant’s wrath. The frightened clan aimed their guns at their reptilian nemesis, but Leonardo avoided each shot with ease, hopping away from each blast.

The ninja turtle’s stealth proved faster than the high-tech guns. He stabbed and slashed his way through a small army until there was just one soldier left standing. He leapt through the air and planted a roundhouse kick against the hooded fighter’s skull, sending him crashing through a glass panel. Leonardo kept his swords held at the ready, spinning on his green heels. The area was silent, disrupted only by the sound of the foot soldier splashing into the murky waters below.

“You couldn’t even leave one bad guy for me?” Casey Jones sighed after climbing onto the deck ready for battle, only to find nothing but defeated enemies sprawled out on the deck. “Next time I’m going to call a time out!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 83:

   The Sailor Senshi made their way to the top level. Unconscious civilians remained scattered along the deck, but they also noticed several of the hooded ninjas lying among them in pools of their own blood. Was another foe lurking nearby? Only that could explain this senseless act of violence. The grisly display gave them goosebumps.

“Look!” Venus pointed at a steel ladder. There was a caution sign barring entry that read NO ACCESSS, EMPLOYEES ONLY but the porthole was wide open. An evil aura seeped through it, flowing into the ferry like an encroaching shadow. “The roof is probably up there!”

They hurried over to the metal rungs but froze in their tracks when a barrage of ninjas dropped from the opening. The girls gasped and turned on their heels, desperate to run away, but additional reinforcements marched up from the lower levels, leaving them surrounded with nowhere to hide. Enemies formed a tight circle, with their rifles held at the ready.

“I guess this is it.” Venus exhaled in defeat. She stepped in front of Sailor Moon to shield her from enemy fire, determined to protect her princess to the very end. “Looks like I won’t be finding a boyfriend this summer after all.”

“Mamoru.” Sailor Moon whimpered at the thought of her lost love. Normally, Tuxedo Mask would appear out of nowhere and rescue her in these dire situations, but he was thousands of miles away. She wished she could profess her love to him one more time. Instead, there would be no chance to take back the awful things she said during their fight. What a terrible end to their romance. “I’m so sorry…”

  “FORE!” A golf ball whizzed through one of the glass partitions, smacking against a ninja’s skull. Sailor Venus watched as a muscular man wearing an intimidating mask burst through the shattered pane alongside a scary green monster wielding a pair of Japanese katana. The berserk fighter swung a hockey stick in a wide arc, sweeping three more invaders off their feet. “That long ball should take a couple of strokes off my golf score, huh Leo?”

“Who is that?” Venus’ eyes lit up. Her heart thumped at the presence of this mysterious vigilante. She payed no mind to the reptilian accompanying him, refusing to take her eyes off the handsome hunk. He wore a sky-blue hoody with the sleeves ripped off, exposing a set of muscular biceps. A pair of drawstring sweatpants torn at the knee covered his tree trunk sized legs. Sure, he looked a bit disheveled right now, but this brave fighter appeared rugged and masculine, traits she found very attractive. She imagined what he would look like in a tailored suit, or even a fancy tuxedo! But that scuffed up mask would have to go. The criminals turned their attention at the intruders, ignoring the senshi for the moment. This gave her the perfect opportunity to lend her heartthrob a helping hand.

“LOVE AND BEAUTY SHOCK!” Venus winked seductively at her desire, blowing a kiss to summon a golden heart. She spun the shimmering magic, targeting their common foes. The heart slammed into the foot clan, jolting them with its smothering love. The masked man raised his hockey stick and smashed it across the back of a stunned footsoldier, unable to shake off the golden energy. He discarded the broken stick and retrieved a croquet mallet from his golf bag, bopping it off the top of their heads like a game of whack-a-mole.

“YOUMA!” Sailor Moon wailed in fear as the shelled beast attacked their common adversaries with the deft precision of a highly trained warrior. The shimmering blades tore through the ninja uniforms with ease, splashing more blood onto the deck. Why was this Youma was attacking the ones stealing energy instead of her? Normally it was the other way around! There was no time to ask him. A pair of foot soldiers grabbed the turtle’s wrists, eager to take away his blades.

“SAILOR KICK!” She aimed the end of a boot into the yellow chest of the monster. The force of the blow freed the mutant from the grip of his foes as his shelled exterior crashed into one of the glass windows lining the perimeter. He swung his swords and quickly dispatched the ninjas with a single slash, inadvertently spraying the pigtailed girl with blood.

“STAY BACK, UGLY YOUMA!” Sailor Moon trembled. The grotesque creature resembled a turtle, only he walked upright much like a regular human. Blue protective pads covered his knees and elbows and matching bandana ran across his eyes. He sheathed his weapons behind his shell and offered a slimy green hand to help her off the floor, but Usagi scurried away in a mad panic, running along an aisle where even more footsoldiers awaited her.

“What’s with this girl?” The turtle somersaulted through the air, landing in front of the magical senshi with his swords drawn once again. He deftly parried away the laser bolts that would have easily pummeled into her body if not for his defensive maneuvers. His masked friend emerged from around the corner, barreling into the last remaining footsoldier with the mighty swing of a baseball bat. Sailor Venus was not far behind him. She jumped up and down in excitement, admiring his brute strength like a cheerleader.

“Come on, Casey. Shredder is up on the roof. We have to stop him!” the turtle warrior beckoned to the open porthole before turning to face the Sailor Senshi with a dire warning. “And you two… whoever you are… stay out of our way. We will handle this.”

“Casey...” Sailor Venus whispered the man’s name in admiration as she watched the two fighters scramble up the ladder. She turned towards Usagi with wide eyes and rosy cheeks. "A masked hero saved me from certain death, just like your Mamoru! How romantic! I’ve never felt like this before! Is this love at first sight? It must be! We have to help them!”

“WAA!! WAIIT!!!” a nervous Sailor moon gave chase as Venus darted towards the porthole. She was more than happy to let the demon take care of business. The last thing she wanted was to have those swords turned on her. “WHAT ABOUT THAT CREEPY YOUMA!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 84:

  Shredder grunted as a lone turtle and his masked companion finally made it on top of the ferry’s roof. It was only a matter of time before those wretched reptiles interfered. A large rift hovered over the boat, and all the essence collected by his henchmen flowed through it and into the dimension beyond just as Beryl requested. He gripped the silver staff in one hand, but kept his other arm wrapped around the neck of an old buffoon in a white uniform. This captain would make a perfect patsy for his experiment. The onyx crystal resting atop the weapon glowed brightly, its strength increasing as it enveloped more human energy thanks to their successful attack. He felt the awesome power swimming within the flawless gemstone and couldn’t wait any longer to unleash his new toy.

“Let him go.” Leonardo warned. “We’ve defeated all of your foot-soldier’s. It’s over!”

“HMMPH!” shredder chortled. “Do you ignorant fools really believe you’ve won? I’ve collected an abundance of energy to please my Queen and that god she worships. Earth will soon be ours!”

“Not if we kill you first!” the ninja turtle readied his katana for a fight.

“HOLD IT RIGHT THERE!” a high-pitched voice wailed from the entrance, interrupting the epic showdown between the youma and a cloaked man wearing a metal helmet.

“What the?” Shredder turned to see a young woman with soaring blonde pig tails wearing a white sailor blouse and blue skirt with red boots stretching up to her thighs.

“HOW DARE YOU DISRUPT THE COMMUTE OF HARD WORKING NEW YORKERS! TOURISTS FROM ALL AROUND THE WORLD DESERVE TO ENJOY A SCENIC BOAT RIDE IN PEACE! I WON’T ALLOW THIS!”

“WHO ARE YOU?” Shredder tried to contain his laughter. This pathetic girl did not look like much of a threat. He would squash her like a bug.

“I AM THE SAILOR WARRIOR OF LOVE AND JUSTICE, SAILOR MOON!” she announced, stepping forward with Venus beside her. “IN THE NAME OF THE MOON, I SHALL PUNISH YOU....”

“And I am the Guardian who fights for Love and Beauty! Sailor Venus!” She glanced over towards Casey Jones, blushing at the sight of him. “I’ll punish you with the power of love!“

“It appears the Sailor Senshi have appeared. You look even weaker than I had envisioned.” the cloaked villain chuckled, throwing his hostage to the ground. “Disposing of you will certainly please Queen Beryl.”

“Queen.... Beryl?” the startled Sailor Moon stared at the shimmering Onyx Crystal atop the cloaked man’s staff. That was not possible. The Sailor team defeated her long ago when they had first awoken to their past lives. The intimidating man raised his silver staff high, basking in the evil aura of the onyx crystal before launching an orb of dark energy at the stunned Sailor Senshi.

“LOOK OUT!” Leonardo warned as the two girls dodged out of the orb’s path a second before it slammed into the captain’s control room. They covered their heads on the deck as shrapnel and debris rained down on them. The green youma stood guard over them with his swords drawn as electrical smoke rose out of the destroyed cabin. He charged at his nemesis, swinging his katana with reckless abandon. If only he could disarm him of that staff...

Shredder knew what the turtle planned, keeping his guard up as he parried away the frantic attacks with the shaft of his weapon and drilled him in the chest with a vicious head-butt. The metal edge of his helmet ripped into the turtle’s skin, knocking him flat to the deck. Shredder exposed the claws on his gauntlet, preparing to slice his enemy to pieces, but Casey Jones would not let that happen.

 He dropped a bundle of hockey pucks to the rooftop, taking a bunch of slapshots in rapid succession, but the onyx crystal dispelled the hard rubber disks before they smashed into his heavily armored body. The vigilante threw the hockey stick down and took a cricket bat out of his bag next, charging at the intimidating villain. Shredder blocked the vicious overhead swing with his metal gauntlet and struck the fool with a mighty blow to his mask.

“Don’t worry, leave it to me!” Sailor Venus winked at the dazed masked man, eager to impress him. Her long blonde hair soared behind her as she called out her attack. “CRESCENT.... BEAM!”

The cloaked figure waved his staff, allowing the onyx crystal to absorb the guardian’s attack. The golden light turned to darkness, fueling the crystal with even more power. It released a glowing ball of power into his open hand, which he launched back at her like hot grenade.

“I guess that didn’t work!” Venus tried to cartwheel out of the way but got caught by the orb’s blast radius when it crashed into the deck, blowing through the roof like a bomb. She winced in pain after her body slammed against the deck, struggling to crawl towards her princess now left exposed to this ruthless villain.

“Sailor Venus!” A determined Sailor Moon grunted as she stood back on her feet to defend her wounded guardian. Her legs wobbled in fear despite her efforts to quell her nervousness, but it did not stop her from fighting. She had defeated Queen Beryl and her minions once before and could do it again. She gripped the tiara on her golden tiara and called out her attack. “MOON TIARA... ACTION!”

The shimmering disk soared towards the cloaked villain at blazing speed. Shredder waved his staff at the disk like a baseball player swinging for the fences and made contact. The onyx crystal smashed into the disk, reverting it to negative energy. Sailor Moon gasped as the blackened tiara came hurtling back in her direction, only this time it she did not want to catch it!

The wounded youma pushed her out of the way just as the headdress erupted into a violent explosion that rocked the ferry boat, damaging the roof further. Sailor Moon fell onto her butt, staring at the pile of debris that she would have been a part of if not for the creature’s heroic actions. Why would this violent youma keep saving her?

“I am impervious to all of your attacks thanks to this gift from my Queen.” Shredder let out a thunderous laugh as he admired the onyx crystal, brooding over his fallen adversaries. He walked over to the unconscious ferry captain and jabbed the glowing capstone of his staff into the man’s chest. “Now behold the awesome power bestowed upon me!”

“ARRGHHH!” the poor captain grunted as the evil essence overtook him. His white uniform ripped as his skin swelled. Tough blue scales replaced his pale flesh, while his face stretched in various places, transforming him into a hideous troll. The man’s gray beard grew before their very eyes like a weed, stretching down to the floor. Clams, starfish and crustaceans and other sea creatures latched within in the graying beard as if trapped within a fishing net. The beast still wore the captain’s hat, which had also grown to fit atop his humongous head. A wooden ship’s wheel materialized out of thin air, spinning into his fin-like hands.

“I’ll leave the rest to you, Sea Troll. It’s about time I move on to my next target. I don’t want to keep my Queen waiting.” Shredder marveled at the hulking beast. Beryl was right. This monstrous creation appeared far more powerful than any of the mutant turtles. He started towards the rift, bidding farewell to his enemies. “Enjoy your eternal rest at the bottom of the harbor!”

“SEAAAAAA TROLLLLLLLLLLL!” the bizarre creature hissed, ripping an eel from his hairy beard and throwing it at the Sailor Senshi.

“YAH!” Sailor Moon squealed as the electric eel landed flat across her face, blocking her vision. The slimy ocean dweller wrapped its long and slithery body around her skinny frame like a snake. She spun around and around in circles on the deck, helplessly trying to rid the disgusting eel before it zapped her into oblivion."SOMEONE HELP! GET THIS THING OFF ME!"

Leonardo made a mad dash towards the open vortex, desperate to follow Shredder back into his dimension before he could escape. The turtle leapt at portal just as it was about to close shut, when the clumsy girl received a shock from the eel.

“OWWWWWWW!”  Sailor Moon jolted several feet in the air as her body lit up like a Christmas tree thanks to the electric eel. She collided with the leaping turtle in mid-air, blocking him from his goal. He crashed back into the deck empty handed, staring up at the portal as it sealed up once again. Another lost opportunity to save his brother thanks to this annoying pigtailed girl.

Sailor moon removed the slimy eel from her eyes to find the sword wielding youma hovering over her prone body on the deck. She opened her mouth to scream as the blade arced towards her, ripping through the electric eel before it could give her another jolt.

Chapter Text

Chapter 85:

“SEEAAA TROLLLL!!!!” The hideous Youma turned its attention to Sailor Venus and the Masked Man on the rear end of the ferry. He reached into his thick beard and grabbed a handful of smelly sea dwellers before launching jellyfish, squid, starfish, urchins, bass, salmon and countless other species of fish in their direction.

“Annnnnnnddddd here comes the pitch!” Jones laughed as he reached for a baseball bat from the golf bag strapped to his back. Venus stayed behind him, watching in awe as the muscular guy swat away all the fish with expert precision, sending them back into the sea. The vigilante made his way closer to troll and took a mighty swing at the troll’s football sized nose, cracking the bone beneath the scaley flesh.

“That was amazing!” Venus clapped at the reckless act of bravery.

“SEAAAAAAAAA TROLLLLLLLL!” The beast grabbed his broken nose and gave it a crunching twist to even it back out. He waved his ship wheel overhead, calling forth a wave of disgusting New York City harbor. The boat rocked on its side, knocking them both off their feet as the massive tidal wave crashed down on the dilapidated roof. Venus gasped as Casey hurtled over the railing, falling towards the murky waters below.

“VENUS LOVE ME CHAIN!” Sailor Venus summoned her heart chain link and sent it over the edge of the ferry to save the masked man before he disappeared into the sea.

“I’ve got you!” Venus smiled down at the mysterious fighter as he seized hold of the chain a moment before impact with the treacherous waters. She gritted her teeth in exertion, using all of her body weight as an anchor while he climbed back up to the deck.

Leonardo regained his footing atop to soaked deck as the ferry leveled out, leaping atop the troll. He wrapped an arm around its thick neck as he readied one of this katana for a killing blow.

“NO! DON’T DO IT!” Sailor Moon warned. “THE FERRY CAPTAIN WILL DIE!”

“There’s no other way.” the grim turtle raised his sword. “It’s him or us at this point!”

“MOON TIARA ACTION!” Sailor Moon spun her tiara at the Youma and his reptilian rider. The glowing disk smashed into his body, knocking Leonardo off his back and causing the rest of the sea creatures in his beard to fall onto the deck where they flopped in search of water. The blast stunned the troll in place, giving her a chance to save the captain from such a cruel fate.

“What are you doing?” the Youma asked as the magical girl summoned a pink wand into her hands with a silver crystal resting on a golden crescent.

“MOON.... HEALING.... ESCALATION!” Sailor Moon waved her wand in an elaborate circle and enveloped the troll with its power of warm white light.

“REFRESH!!!!!!” The demon cried out in agony, overwhelmed by the holy aura. The Sea Troll’s form vanished in the blink of an eye, restoring the ferry captain back to his normal self. He collapsed onto his knees and fell flat onto his face, still unconscious after the traumatic transformation.

“Impressive.” Leonardo acknowledged her efforts. “But I think we have an even bigger problem on our hands now.”

 The ferry boat was speeding towards the Manhattan dock at breakneck speed, and there was nothing they could do to stop it.

“Please wake up!” Sailor Moon raced over to the ferry captain and frantically shook his shoulders, but no matter how much she whined, the man would not come to. The dock was rapidly approaching, and a deadly collision was imminent. “The ferry is about to crash! We need your help!

Chapter Text

Chapter 86:

Sailor Venus sprinted towards the damaged control room and tried the metal door, only to find it jammed shut. The masked man brushed her aside and knocked it off its hinges with a powerful thrust kick.

“You are so strong!” Venus complimented him as he entered.

“Come on!” the impatient vigilante beckoned her to follow. “Help me shut this thing down!”

“OKAY!” Venus entered the elaborate captain’s room and proceeded to push every button and tug on every lever. The operating system was more complex than she expected. Lights blinked on and off all around her, but nothing seemed to slow the craft down. The orb must have damaged the operating system. If only Ami was here. She would know what to do.

“It’s no use!” Casey grabbed hold of a golf club from his pack and started bashing the mechanisms in the operating room out of rage. The dock was fast approaching and if they did not stop it in time, all those unconscious people in the lower levels and the commuters waiting in the terminal would die from the crash. Those who survived would drown within minutes once the boat sank to the bottom of the harbor.

“Stop it, Casey!” Leonardo yanked the golf club out of his frenzied companion’s hands as electrical smoke filled the chamber. The engines had finally shut down, but they could not slow the boat down. Its momentum would carry them right into the dock. “That will not work! We need to use our heads!”

“Well, do you have any other ideas?” the masked man spat as he threw his bent club down in disgust.

“Our only chance is to steer it away from the dock before we crash into it!” Leonardo grabbed hold of the steering column and turned it as far left as he could. The boat veered to the side but was still on course to collide into the harbor at the current trajectory.

“It’s no use!” Casey tried to help the shelled youma in his efforts. “This thing is turning too damn slow!”

“WAIT!” Venus snapped her fingers as a thought crossed her mind. “I think I have an idea! You two keep trying to steer the boat, I’ll see what I can do to help.”

“What is your plan?” The masked man asked. “I’m not going to stick around here to die! We should jump overboard and save ourselves before its too late!”

“There’s no honor in that!” The green creature lashed out at his companion as he exerted himself on the steering column. “I won’t abandon all the innocent people on this ship!”

“Fine!” Casey grunted as he gripped the steering wheel. “This better work, lady!”

“I promise I won’t let you down...” Venus gave the masked man a wink as she left the control room."

Chapter Text

Chapter 87:

“PLEASE WAKE UP!” tears poured from Sailor Moon’s eyes. She continued to shake the old captain, hoping he would snap back to reality. “WE NEED YOUR HELP MISTER FERRY BOAT CAPTAIN MAN!”

“Sailor Moon!” Venus called once she stepped out from the control room. She beckoned for her friend to follow her around to the front of the ship. “Hurry this way, I have a plan!”

“We are both going to die!” Sailor Moon panicked as she abandoned the unconscious skipper to join up with her guardian at the stern of the ferry. They could both see the oncoming dock and the sizeable crowd of people gathered at the terminal and the park next to it.

“Maybe not!” a hopeful Sailor Venus pointed down at the murky waters ahead of them. “Maybe we can generate a tidal wave to slow this thing down and push us further off course.”

“I wish Sailor Mercury was here!” Usagi whined. “She would know exactly what to do!”

“It’s up to us to save to save this ship!” Venus implored. “Throw your tiara into the water and let’s see what happens!”

“But what if it doesn’t work? Or if something goes terribly wrong?” Sailor Moon cried in fear. “People will die if I capsize this ship!”

“They will die regardless if we stand here and do nothing!” Venus grabbed her hands into her own. “Let’s save them together! I believe in you!”

“Okay...” Sailor Moon trembled as she gripped her tiara. “Here goes nothing!”

“Let’s do it then!” Venus encouraged her companion. “NOW!”

“MOON.... TIARA... ACTION!” Sailor Moon shouted the words for her spell and launched her glowing tiara out towards the harbor beyond the ship. The object shimmered brightly, dancing through the sky over the open waters like a glistening Frisbee.

“VENUS... LOVE AND BEAUTY... SHOCK!”  Sailor Venus called out her attack the same moment as her companion, summoning another golden heart. She spun it out into the sea to meet with the shimmering tiara. They collided together in the middle of the sea, forming a golden ball of pure energy that slammed into its waves like a meteor.

“Grab hold of something quick!” The green Youma warned helplessly behind the glass windshield of the control room. The mysterious creature and his masked ally gripped the steering device, trying their best to veer the ferry away from the dock as the ferry boat angled upward, riding a monstrous wave caused by the magical attack.

“AHHHHH!!” Mist sprayed the two girls, soaking their hair and sailor suits as they screamed at the top of their lungs. The reverberation of their combined missile caused a shock wave that displaced the water in all four directions. An enormous tidal wave lifted the ferry, threatening to turn the boat on its side. They stumbled, unable to maintain their footing on the wet deck. Sailor Moon latched around a metal railing as Venus slipped away. She stretched her hand out and grabbed her companion’s red boot, holding on for dear life.

“Venus!” Sailor Moon grunted in exertion amongst the foam and water splashing atop the boat. It took all her strength to maintain her grip on the railing, but she would not last much longer with the added weight. She glanced downward and saw her friend holding onto her boot. It would be a pretty far drop at the boat’s current angle. Survival seemed doubtful if she fell.

“I think we did it!” Venus smiled reassuringly at her companion, but her grip on the red boot was on the verge of giving out. One by one, her gloved fingers broke free.

“NO!” Sailor Moon cried helplessly, watching in horror as her guardian tumbled down the near vertical deck to her utter demise. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 88:

Mamoru slammed the driver-side door after stepping out of his vehicle parked in an empty lot. Cicadas were singing somewhere amongst the bushes alongside the tree-lined path that led to the Hikawa Shrine. A brisk wind shook the canopy, causing the top branches to sway back and forth with the light of the moon occasionally peeking through them. It was close to midnight, and the darkness around him felt a little unsettling.

  He was ready to go to bed early, eager to get a good night’s sleep before his first day at his new job when he had received an unexpected call from Yuuichirou Kumada. The bizarre priest briefly explained that he was in possession of Usagi’s phone and that he can come and pick it up at the temple any time he liked. Mamoru did not want to wait another full day and headed over to the shrine right then and there. Maybe he could relay a message to Usagi through Rei and possibly have time to speak to her real quick if he was lucky.

“Thanks for coming with me.” Mamoru glanced down at the cats Artemis and Luna who had tagged along for the ride. They walked down the dirt path until reaching the bottom of the stone staircase leading up to the shrine’s torii gate. “This guy is a bit of a character.”

Yuuichirou was waiting for them at the top of the steps just outside of the temple grounds. He was wearing his sky blue hakama and holding a lantern up high above his head to provide a beacon for his guests. Its flickering flame cast a shadow on tori gate, giving the shrine a near ghostly presence. The peculiar figure locked onto Mamoru from under the bushy bangs of his mullet with his piercing eyes.

“Thanks for allowing me to come at this hour.” Mamoru extended his hand to the apprentice, who ignored the kind gesture. “I really appreciate it.”

“You have disrupted my nightly television viewing.” he replied with a hint of attitude to his voice.

“He sure is strange.” Luna muttered to her caretaker. “I doubt he’s going to help us get in contact with Usagi.”

“I’m sorry for the inconvenience.” Mamoru agreed with the cat’s assessment and tried his best to remain polite. “Can I just get the phone back? Then I’ll be on my way.”

“I suppose.” the oddball rummaged his hands into his pockets when a look of shock came over his animated face.

“What’s wrong?” Mamoru asked.

“I seem to have misplaced the cellular device.” Yuuichirou admitted. “But don’t worry. It has to be in my room somewhere.”

“Okay then. Let’s go get it.” Mamoru took a step forward, but the priest held out his hand to prevent him from inching forward.

“No!” he shook his head in refusal, pressing his palm into Mamoru’s chest. “You wait here! I’ll be right back.”

“What is your problem?” Mamoru asked as he pushed the hand away. “Have I upset you somehow?”

“I don’t particularly care for you, Mamoru Chiba!” He jabbed his finger into his chest, provoking him even further.

“What have I ever done to you?” the flabbergasted Mamoru snapped. He grit his teeth, ready to strike the priest down if he dared touch him again.

“Oh, come on!” Yuuichirou turned away in anger, tightening his hands into fists. “Don’t act like you don’t know...”

“I really don’t have a clue what you are talking about!” Mamoru threw up his hands in annoyance. His patience was wearing thin.

“Just admit it and come clean already!” He held the lantern up high, illuminating the scowl that formed across his face. “You used to date my Rei!”

“What?” Mamoru laughed. “Is that what this is about? Sure, we went out a few times, but that was years ago. Its ancient history!”

“You still have eyes for her! Admit it!” Yuuichirou accused. “I heard you got in a terrible fight with Usagi at the airport. You’ve realized it’s over between you two, so you want to steal my Rei back! That’s why you are here! Getting Usagi’s phone back is just a ploy so you can call MY REI!”

“Don’t be ridiculous!” Mamoru exclaimed. He couldn’t believe he was having an argument over a girl he went on a couple of dates with from so long ago. How jealous and obsessive could this so-called priest really be? “Besides. Rei is not exactly my type!”

“YOU LIE!” Yuuichirou nearly jumped out of his sandals. “Rei is every guy’s type! She is intelligent, beautiful, ambitious... everything a man could ever ask for! She is the embodiment of perfection!”

“You forgot to mention that she’s a bit of a hot-head…” Artemis muttered.

“She may be perfect to you.” Mamoru spoke cautiously. “But Usagi is...”

“I don’t believe a word you say!” Yuuichirou interrupted. “There is no comparison between that pigtailed klutz of yours and my Rei, so don’t even try it!”

“You are delusional!” Mamoru gave the apprentice a hard shove. He had taken enough insults from this crazed priest and would not allow him to speak of Usagi like that.

“ARGH!” Yuuichirou stumbled back, losing grip of the lantern as he fell onto his back. A cloud of dust from the dirt path floated into the night sky. He let out a grunt and charged at Mamoru, throwing a wild hook punch aimed at his face like an angry bull. Mamoru ducked under the fist and prepared to counter with one of his own, but Luna the cat intervened before he could do so.

“STOP IT!” Luna screeched, pouncing at the apprentice with her claws out. “STOP FIGHTING YOU DOPE!”

“OWW!” Yuuichirou crashed onto the dirt path once again and rubbed the scratch marks across his cheek. The cat had drawn blood with her sharp nails.

“Some priest you are...” Mamoru remarked.

“Enough!” Luna warned. “Both of you!”

“You are right.” Yuuichirou admitted in defeat. “I am sorry... I shouldn’t have spoken like that to you... I... just miss my Rei so much... I’ve been under a lot of stress without her.”

“It’s okay, I get it.” Mamoru extended his hand and this time the apprentice took it and got back on his feet.

“The truth is, I am bitter... because....I’ve always envied you and Usagi.” the shrine trainee sighed. “I wish I could have that type of relationship with Rei. I worship the very ground she treads upon, I cater to her every need but she doesn’t shower me with any affection. Why can’t she look at me the same way Usagi looks at you? That’s all I want.” 

“They are two very different girls.” Mamoru advised. “Rei may not wear her heart on her sleeves like Usagi, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t care about you.”

“I suppose you could be right.” Yuuichirou said as he dusted himself off and retrieved his lantern from the ground. “Let’s go get you that phone.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 89:

Yuuichirou guided them through the torii gate and past the temple until arriving at the priest’s quarters. The glow of a television lit up the meager dwelling once he pulled open the screen door. He tiptoed along the wooden deck and tried to get Mamoru to do the same. The last thing he wanted was to awaken Rei’s grumpy grandfather at this hour by making a loud noise.

“I’ve been watching American television every chance I get.” Yuuichirou commented as he retrieved the cell phone and its sticker covered case from atop his desk. “This is Channel 6 News; the station Rei works for.”

“Wait a second.” Mamoru pointed at the screen after accepting the electronic device. “Isn’t that Rei on television right now?

“WHAT?” Yuuichirou bellowed at the top of his lungs. He grabbed both ends of the monitor and cranked up the volume, his jaw dropping in shock as his beloved appeared before his very eyes.

“This is Rei Hino reporting live from the 5th annual Chess Championships taking place today here in Battery Park.”

“She is so gorgeous…” Yuuichirou nearly drooled on the screen. “Her voice sounds amazing, even on TV! Her English is flawless. No wonder she doesn’t have the time to call me, she is too busy becoming an instant star!”

“Get a hold of yourself.” Luna snapped at the priest. “I want to listen!”

“I am here speaking with the champion from last year and the current favorite to win this year’s competition, Mr. Hunter Adams.” Rei gestured towards the individual sitting opposite to her. The camera panned over to a very muscular man in his early thirties wearing camouflage fatigues with the sleeves cut off and an American flag tattoo on his bicep.

“The pleasure is all mine to be interviewed by a lovely young lady such as yourself.” Rei blushed as the young man smiled at her.

“HE’S FLIRTING WITH HER!” Yuuichirou tightened his fists. Sweat poured down his forehead as his body quivered with anxiety. “I KNEW THIS WOULD HAPPEN!”

“Relax, it’s just an interview!” Mamoru tried to get the flustered apprentice to calm down, but it was no use. More sweat beaded on his forehead as he paced back and forth in the cramped room until Rei’s voice graced the television set again.

“Mr. Adams is a veteran of the United States Army who took up playing chess while serving his country overseas. Tell me, what made you get interested in this classic game?”

“Well, when you first look at me, the last thing you’d probably guess was that I’m an avid chess player.”

“You are right about that one.” Rei laughed awkwardly. “I would have assumed modeling was your hobby!”

“URGH!!” Yuuichirou thudded to the floor, shooting his legs straight up towards the ceiling.

“I could have done that too, especially after the shape I got in after boot camp.” The veteran joked. “But chess gave me the ability to analyze situations that helped me immensely on the battlefield.”

“Ahh, I see.” Rei nodded her head a few times. Yuuichirou glanced back up at the TV, only to see her batting her eyelashes. Why has she never looked at him like that before? She looked completely smitten by this handsome soldier.

“I encouraged everyone in my platoon to try the game out and it grew in popularity among the troops.” The war hero continued. “But no one could ever beat me. When I returned to the States last year, I was in the need of a good challenge. I read about this tournament and decided to enter.”

“And now you return here as champion.” Rei commented. “Are you ready to defend your title?”

“I sure am.” the contestant said with confidence. “And if I win, I will donate all of my winnings to the Wounded Warriors fund, which benefits those returning from war with physical injuries and mental disorders such as PTSD.”

“That’s it, I’m finished!” Yuuichirou curled into a ball and whimpered on the floor. “She’s going to marry this guy. How could I compare to a hero like him?”

“Get a hold of yourself!” Luna lashed, batting his nose with her paw.

“That is very admirable of you!” Rei commented as a commotion took place behind her. People were racing past the staging area of her interview and over to the railing overlooking the harbor. A man in a pink dress shirt yanked the microphone out of Rei’s hands and pointed to the orange boat heading their way.

“Breaking news!” the man huffed and puffed to catch his breath. “We have just received word that the Staten Island Ferry is under attack by the rogue organization known as the foot-clan. The boat is out of control and heading this way! A deadly crash is imminent!”

“Foot-clan?” Artemis said as the two humans became transfixed on the screen. The camera zoomed in on the orange ship where Sailor Moon and Sailor Venus stood atop the roof.

“Usako?” Mamoru’s jaw dropped. He rubbed his eyes in disbelief as the Senshi initiated an attack. The screen went completely white for a moment as a bright object cast by the two women slammed into the murky waters.

“RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!” The cowardly reporter dropped the microphone in a mad panic as a tsunami wave hurtled their way.

“SAILOR MOON?” Rei could have sworn she spotted her and Venus atop the ferry boat, but could not know for certain without a closer look. The boat veered off to the right and would not crash into the park, but the oncoming tsunami wave was unavoidable.

“I agree with Fenwick on this one...” April grabbed her intern as the towering waters came crashing down on them. “RUN!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 90:

Sailor Venus flailed her arms wildly as she tumbled down the angled deck, desperate to grab hold of anything that may save her from a fatal fall overboard. She thought about using her chain to latch onto the stern’s railing, but did not want to take the risk of hitting Sailor Moon, who still hung on to it. The ferry boat groaned as the wave lifted it higher and higher, but Sailor Moon could still be heard, screaming for help after seeing her friend plummet.

      Venus clamped her eyes shut, bracing for a deadly impact when a firm grip seized hold of one of her outstretched arms. She blinked her eyes open to the find the muscular man in the goalie mask dangling out of the control room upside down on a hockey stick held by his monstrous friend. They swung for a moment over the near vertical drop. Venus wished she could pull that mask off and behold the surely handsome face underneath as she stared up at her rescuer. This stranger did not know her, yet he had risked his life for hers several times already. Maybe she had finally found her one true love at long last. The green youma pulled them both inside the dilapidated office as the boat leveled back out. They bounced around in the control room as another wave crashed down on top of the boat.

“Sailor Moon!” the concerned Venus put the romantic thoughts of her hero aside for the moment and scrambled out of safety to find her companion still gripping onto the railing for dear life. The Staten Island Ferry continued to bob up and down, but the worst of it was over. When the mist and spray had cleared up, she could see that their outlandish plan had worked! The runaway ferry had miraculously missed the dock and began to drift aimlessly up the Hudson River. The flow of the waters slowed the boat down as it made its way upstream.

“We did it!” Sailor Venus shouted in joy as she raced over to her companion.

“Venus?” Sailor Moon glanced over her shoulder to find her friend hurrying over to her. “You are alive!”

The pigtailed girl let go of the railing and ran to meet her guardian halfway, despite being completely drenched from head to toe with the disgusting harbor water. Her red boots slid along the deck, causing her to lose her balance. Venus tried to catch her, but they both slammed to the deck from the collision.

“You klutz!” Venus laughed as she turned over on her back, basking under the blistering sun. They both took a moment to catch their breath as news and police helicopters whirred overhead. Loud sirens from fire engines, ambulances and other law enforcement agencies sounded from land in the distance and their flashing lights could be seen in every which direction. The coast guard and police had sent patrol boats and had the ferry surrounded. Officers and paramedics entered the boat through one of the lower levels to help the victims and round up all the foot-soldiers.

Chapter Text

Chapter 91:

“We gotta split, Leo!” the masked man said as he emerged from the control room. “The cops will be up here any minute.”

“WAIT!” Venus hopped to her feet. “You can’t go!”

“We need your help.” Sailor Moon joined her companion. “That scary man with the metal helmet mentioned Queen Beryl. She is an enemy from our past. I don’t know how she returned, but we should work together to defeat them.”

“Look, I appreciate what you girls did. You saved this boat from a deadly crash that would’ve killed hundreds of people, but your attacks were ineffective against Shredder and that staff of his.” the youma defied the senshi. “I think it’s for the best if you just stayed out of our way.”

“Shredder?” Sailor Moon muttered. “Who’s that?”

“He is the leader of a major crime syndicate and our sworn enemy.” Leonardo did not have the time to tell her everything. “It appears he’s formed an alliance with that Queen Beryl of yours. I heard them mention their plans to steal human energy in order to revive a Supreme Evil, Queen Metalia.”

“We cannot allow that to happen.” Sailor Moon shuddered in fear. “If she is successful...”

“They’ve kidnapped one of my brothers.” Leonardo turned grim. He was losing patience with this magical girl, whoever she was. “She is poisoning his mind in this strange dimension to turn him against us. I could’ve gotten back in, but thanks to you I lost that opportunity to rescue him.”

“Youma can have brothers?” Sailor Moon wondered aloud.

“We are not demons.” He shook his head in annoyance. “Please don’t call me that.”

“Then what exactly are you?“ she asked.

“The leader of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles...”

“Turtles?” the bewildered Sailor Moon observed his shell and other reptilian features. “Ninjas?”

“POLICE DON’T MOVE!” Officers screamed as they raided the rooftop.

“Let’s bounce, Leo!” Casey nudged the mutant who threw a tiny ball at the deck. A burst of grey smoke appeared, blinding the two girls and the cops who stormed onto the ferry’s roof. When the dust settled, the turtle and his masked companion had vanished, and the senshi were back in their regular clothes surrounded by an army of officers with their guns drawn.

“Hiiiii officers!” Minako waved her hands at the confused cops while they stared down at her “I <3 NY” t-shirt.

Chapter Text

Chapter 92:

Ami Mizuno glanced down at her phone to check her navigation app and then back up at the magnificent building across the street. A smile came to her face as she hurried towards it. The first thing she noticed was a sculpture of a proud lion sitting atop a stone pedestal. It appeared as if the animal was a divine protector, guarding those inside. There was another lion on the opposite end. In her native Japan, gods were usually depicted on each side of the entrance to a shrine, just as there were two statues guarding the entrance to this library. She wondered what Rei would think about this. Was it a mere coincidence, or were these sculptures inspired by the Japanese in some way?  It was something of interest that she could research later. With her friends gone to enjoy their day sightseeing and with Rei infuriated, there was not much else for her to do but study. Helping those strange people fix their van helped uplift her mood, but she still felt distraught over everything that happened earlier and could not get the angry visage of Rei lashing out at her and the painful words that had stung her like knife to the heart. She doubted she could focus, but hopefully this library would help her ease her mind.

The architecture of the building before her reminded her of Ancient Greece. She noted the Corinthian style used in the towering columns that held up three archways. Above the columns she could see the words “NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY” etched into the grey stone. She adjusted her heavy backpack and took one more look at the eerie lion before proceeding up the stone steps and through a wrought iron door in the center archway.

   The interior of the library was even more impressive with marble floors and more Greco-Roman inspired designs. She made her way up and around a spiral staircase and entered a grand hall lined with wooden cabinets jam packed with dust covered texts and manuscripts. There were rows of wooden desks in the center of the room, and despite the extensive amount of people here, there were still places to sit and read. The immaculate hall was so quiet that you could hear a pin drop. It was the perfect place to get some reading done and forget about her troubles. She walked over to an opening towards the back of the chamber and placed her backpack on top of a desk. She slowly zipped it open to pull out one of her textbooks.

Chapter Text

Chapter 93:

A swirling vortex appeared over the heavily trafficked lanes of 5th avenue. Shredder’s cape fluttered in the wind as he fell onto into the middle lane. Cabs and buses screeched to a halt, nearly causing a multi-car pileup. The leader of the foot-clan ushered his henchman across the street to their target as they flooded out of the anomaly like an invading alien army. People abandoned their vehicles, running away in fright as an army of soldiers stormed up the steps and through the archways leading into the library.

“NOBODY GETS OUT!” Shredder ordered his minions with a thunderous shout. “DRAIN THE ENERGY OF EVERYONE INSIDE THAT LIBRARY!”

The foot-clan hustled inside with their rifles drawn and began zapping everyone with their lasers. Unsuspecting citizenry fell lifeless to the marble floor after the sudden attack. Security guards and those that survived ran for their lives, but the foot-clan pursued them deeper inside.

Bepop and Rocksteady were the last two to come hurtling out of the portal. The clumsy warthog mutant tumbled onto the hood of an expensive sports car, cracking the windshield with his massive frame.

“Whoops!” Bepop grunted as he scrambled off the destroyed car, only to have his cohort Rocksteady fall out of the portal next. The rhino landed right on top of him, causing both mutants to smash into the passenger side of a yellow cab. The turbaned driver braced himself as the vehicle rolled over from the impact of the mutated beasts. Cars screeched onto their breaks to avoid colliding with the gigantic creatures, but they weren’t as lucky. Horns honked as traffic came to a standstill, the four lanes of traffic blocked off from mulitple accidents.

“YOU FOOLS!” Shredder scolded the bumbling buffoons from the sidewalk. His silver staff shimmering brightly from its onyx capstone while his soldiers performed their task. “GET OUT OF THE STREET, NOW!”

“What do you want us to do, boss?” The rhino asked his leader.

“JUST STAY OUTSIDE AND GUARD THE LIBRARY!” Shredder ordered. “I’M SURE THOSE PESKY TURTLES WILL COME. YOU MUST STOP THEM!”

“But boss...” The warthog threw up his hands. “We wanna help collect the hoo-mun energy and stuff!”

“YOU IMBECILES WILL DO EXACTLY AS I SAY!” Shredder reamed as he strolled up towards the entrance and paused at the one of the lion statues. “I’m going to find some better help...”

  A grin surfaced under his mask as a thought popped into his head. Beryl had told him that the staff could change people and objects into youma. Maybe it would work on these statues. He jabbed the capstone at one icon and enveloped it with its magic. The stone pedestal shook, followed by fissures and cracks that formed in its base. The lion’s paw stretched outward; its stone body slowly became a thick coat of brown fur with a mane of fiery flames. It had long jagged teeth with a vicious overbite of two dagger-like fangs that could rip flesh. Its tongue was a flame of fire, capable of incinerating those that dared get close enough. Magnificent golden bracelets formed around all four of his paws, each sporting an onyx stone that shimmered with the same purple aura. A tail of fire sprouted from behind the beast as it jumped from the pedestal and sat by his master’s feet, eager to carry out his orders.

“EXCELLENT!” Shredder admired his creation for a moment before hurrying over to the remaining statue. His adrenaline raced at the thought of creating another of these fantastic creatures to aid in his assault. Two was better than one, after all. He struck the lion with his staff to create another fiery lion, but to his surprise this beast was different. Instead of being powered by fire, this one was blue. The hot summer air cooled around him as the frost covered lion jumped from the pedestal. The youma’s mane was a collection of deadly icicles, along with his teeth. Instead of one tail, this monstrosity was armed with four long rope-like tails that emanated cold air.

“ATTACK!” Shredder grinned, ordering his creations forth as he turned to face the library’s entrance. 

Chapter Text

Chapter  94:

“What’s with all this traffic?” the anxious Donatello gripped the steering wheel with both hands as he tried to peer further down the road, only to have his view blocked by the backside of a large truck. All four lanes remained stuck at a standstill in both directions. Frustrated drivers honked their horns and shouted swear words, but not one car budged an inch forward. “I’ve never seen it this bad, even for midtown. This is unbelievable! Can you see anything?”

“All I can see is that I am outta pizza bro!” Michaelangelo sighed as he slammed the white cardboard box shut and threw it on top of a pile of several empty pizza boxes in the back of the van.

“This isn’t the time to worry about pizza, Michaelangelo.” the purple masked turtle needed to get his brother to focus on their task at hand. “We can always place an order for delivery later.”

“Ugh Oh...” Mikey stuck his head out of the window and pointed a green finger towards the library further down the road. A vortex had formed in the middle of the street and armed foots-soldiers were pouring out of it at an alarming rate, disrupting the flow of traffic at the busy intersection of 42nd Street and 5th avenue.

“What do you mean “Uh Oh”?" the confused turtle asked as Michelangelo nudged his brother out of the turtle van’s driver seat and took the helm.

“Relax, I got this!” Mikey turned the wheel to right and slammed on the gas, cutting off an SUV and jumping the curb and onto the sidewalk. He knew the matter was urgent and his brother would never approve of the risks he wanted to take, but they had no other choice.

“What on earth are you doing! Watch out for that old lady!” the panicky turtle warned. “This is an obvious violation of the vehicle traffic rules and regulations code.”

“I’m just taking a minor detour through the park!” the partygoer laughed, weaving the turtle van around frightened pedestrians while holding a hand down on the van’s horn to alert them of his presence. He smashed the van through a black gate and into the greenery of Bryant park. Picnickers and ballplayers scrambled out of the bizarre vehicle’s path as they bypassed the traffic and made their way towards the rear side of the library.

“Looks like we got company!” Donnie pointed at the two mutants Bepop and Rocksteady who had spotted the turtle van careening down the asphalt next to the library. They each took a gun strapped to their back and started firing at the runaway van. The popping of the assault weapons filled the air as bullets pounded into the metal frame and ricocheted off the hood of the car.

“YIKES!” Michelangelo ducked his head as a round pierced through the windshield and ripped apart a piece of the headrest.

“Keep driving, I’ll take care of those ignoramuses!” Donatello raced to the back of the van and booted up a computer. A camera came to life on the monitor, giving him a live view of the bumbling mutants as they dropped their clips out of their firearms and reloaded with fresh magazines. He tapped a few buttons on the touchscreen and selected an option to lock onto the chosen targets before pressing a key to fire. 

A pair of sewer caps came soaring out of a cannon perched on the turtle van’s roof. The metal disks whirred through the air, and slammed into the two mutants, knocking them to the ground.

“COWABUNGA!” Mikey shouted as he sped the van past their stunned adversaries. He made a wide turn around the bend and stomped on the brakes, screeching the beat-up van to a halt directly in front of the library’s main entrance. The tire rubber left black skid marks along the pristine grounds at the base of the iconic library. “You got’em, bro!”

“We have to hurry.” Donatello quickly shut down the computer system and grabbed his wooden bo staff, but his brother was already out of the van and racing towards the library entrance.

Chapter Text

Chapter 95:

Ami let out an audible sigh before clapping her textbook shut atop her desk. She was having trouble staying focused and could not get through a single page without worrying about her friends and the trouble she had caused them. Instead of dealing with the problem at hand and facing the reality of her dire situation, she had chosen to runaway to the library to be alone. She thought reading would help ease her mind as it normally did, but this time it was different. Reading and studying was just a way for her to shy away from her problems. This method had gotten her through most of her childhood. Whether she was lonely because her mother was out of town or the popular girls had teased her at school, studying was always her fallback option, working towards her distant dream of becoming a doctor someday.

   But things have changed since then, and studying would not bring her friends back or fix the damage she had caused to Rei and her internship. Life had become more complex and now she had people in her life that she cared about, unlike when she was younger. If she was to make amends, she would need to act just as she did when she helped those strangers get their peculiar van started up. Sulking here in the library wouldn’t change things. It was a desperate move, but if she could just find Rei and talk with her, maybe they could salvage their once amazing friendship. She would explain to her that she is solely responsible for this terrible debacle. If she no longer wanted to remain her friend, she would fully understand, but would ask her not to hold her transgressions against Usagi and the others. She should have known better than to disrupt Rei’s internship after all. She had a lapse in judgment by buying these tickets, and it had cost her everything she held dear.

Ami thrust the textbook back into her heavy backpack and slung it over her shoulders, her mind fully made up. She would find a way to repair their friendship no matter what, then return home to Japan and focus entirely on her studies. It was for the best if they never saw her again anyway, that way she could no longer cause Rei any more problems. Her destiny was to be completely alone, with no friends or loved ones to worry about so that she could concentrate entirely on her studies and career. She would make things right before the lonely girl who sat in a quiet room with her head buried in a book and ate lunch far away from others would return to the surface.

A loud scream froze Ami Mizuno in her tracks. Men, women and even a few young children were running through one end of the grand hall to the other in a mad panic. She let her backpack slip from her shoulder and drop to the tiled floor, as an army of ninjas stormed into the chamber, firing laser bolts in all directions. Ami hid behind a large bookcase and watched in horror as innocent civilians dropped to the floor from the terrible attack one by one. The soldiers walked over their husks and drained their life essence before scanning the surrounding area for more targets. They pushed over bookshelves and overturned desks with no regard to their precious contents during their search. Who could be behind such an atrocious act of pure evil? Had a new enemy emerged? She would not stand idly by and watch the sanctity of this wonderful place of knowledge get desecrated by evil forces.

“MERCURY POWER.... MAKE UP!”

     A flowing stream of blue showered her entire body. The chaotic study hall disappeared, replaced with the calming stillness of water that soothed her soul. She emerged from the transformation clad in her sailor suit with a blue skirt and matching boots that stretched up to her knees. Ami glanced down at her gloved arms for a moment and couldn’t believe she was standing in the New York Public Library, forced to fight and defend it as the guardian of wisdom, Sailor Mercury. A renewed sense of confidence filled her, but she still wished that Sailor Moon and the others were here to help fight. There was no time to contact the rest of the team. She had to engage the enemy in battle alone.

  Sailor Mercury stepped from behind the bookshelf and observed that there were approximately fifty ninjas prowling the central chamber. One of them immediately spotted her and fired a bolt. The blast of energy soared past her, narrowly missing its intended target. The beam seared through a bookshelf, causing it to tip on its side. Ami instinctively turned her head, desperate to save the old texts from destruction but had to leap out of the way as several more enemies began firing laser beams in her direction.

“BUBBLE.... SPRAY!” Mercury called out her attack, summoning a mystical bubble between her outstretched arms. She cast it out into the middle of the chamber. The spherical air pocket multiplied upon impact, filling the center of the library with a plethora of soapy bubbles that confused and disoriented the ninjas. Sailor Mercury cart wheeled around the distorting spray and took out several of the distracted enemy soldiers with an array of punches and kicks.

“There’s too many.” Mercury gasped for breath as the purple hooded men began shooting at her bubbles, popping them in order to regain their vision and locate the girl trying to thwart their dastardly plans. They took aim and started firing at her once again. She scrambled out of the way, narrowly avoiding a fatal shot, but one of her boots snagged on the leg of a wooden desk. Mercury’s face smacked against the tile as a bookcase behind her wobbled, threatening to fall on top of her prone body. She glanced up at the towering wooden cabinet and braced herself with both hands, preparing to get crushed by a falling pile of wood and books. It would be a very ironic death.

A pair of green hands grabbed hold of the desk, saving the girl from impending doom. She glanced up and found a green creature wearing a purple bandana around his eyes. It was the same costumed man from earlier who owned that bizarre van she had helped fix, only now he was not wearing the trench coat and fedora. She observed that this was no mere costume for the tourist entertainment. The creature’s reptilian like skin was amazingly lifelike and the large shell on his back looked like an enlarged version of a real turtle. Was he some kind of mutant? How could this be?

“Don’t just stand there!” The strange turtle-like creature warned the bewildered girl as he pushed the bookshelf back upright. Normally humans would run away in terror from the site of his ugly mug, but this girl in a blue sailor suit seemed more intrigued by his presence than scared. “You need to get out of here, right now!”

“No, I can help fight!” the determined guardian got back to her feet and saw another one of the slimy humanoids somersaulting around all of her bubbles, spinning a pair of nunchaku at the dazed soldiers. He used her distraction to his advantage, beating up the disoriented ninjas with ease.

“Fine by me.” Donatello rejoined the battle alongside his new ally. He swung his bo staff into the midsection of a foot-soldier as the magical girl leapt through the bubbles and kicked an enemy from behind without being seen.

“COWABUNGA!” The nunchaku wielding turtle in an orange mask jumped for joy once his brother dispatched of the last clan member. “I thought there’d be more of them here. What a total bummer, dude!”

“Be careful what you wish for.” the more serious turtle warned as the very floor of the central chamber shook. The desks and remaining bookshelves rocked back and forth from the sudden vibration.

“What’s going on?” Michaelangelo asked. “Is this an earthquake, bro?”

“Highly unlikely.” Donnie shook his head. “New York City does not lie on an active fault-line, earthquakes are an extraordinarily rare occurrence here.”

“Look out!” Sailor Mercury shouted a gigantic beast entered the grand chamber. It resembled a lion from a distance, with brown fur and a mane of fiery flames leaping off its neck. Its mere presence evaporated the rest of her bubbles and heated the room to a sweltering temperature. The youma opened his maw wide and released a wall of fire at their direction. The searing inferno eviscerated many of the bookshelves as it made its way towards the Sailor Senshi and her two allies. Sailor Mercury called out her attack seconds before they all got cooked to a crisp.

“SHINING.... AQUA.... ILLUSION!” A bulb of water rose around the senshi and her new allies, protecting them from harm until it finally extinguished the fire spat out by the ferocious creature.

“Can one of you please distract that beast?” Sailor Mercury asked her companions as the protective waters vanished around them, leaving the three fighters vulnerable. “I may have an attack capable of defeating this youma, if we can get him trapped into a corner somehow.”

“Leave it to us, dudette!” Michelangelo charged forth and began teasing the lion by swinging his nunchaku over his head. He got close enough to the fiery cat and smacked its furry backside with the end of his chained weapon, causing the flaming lion to roar so loudly that the windows on the nearby wall shattered from the booming sound.

“Here kitty, kitty!” the turtle leapt out of the way as the beast swiped a paw at his shell, marking his hard exterior with a long slash mark. Michaelangelo used his agility and ran in circles, outsmarting the predator by dashing and dodging out of his grasp at the last moment. The lion was fast, but his ninja reflexes were faster. The enraged beast roared even louder and opened its maw again, breathing a wave of flame at the ninja turtle.

Donatello rushed to his brother’s aid by throwing a shuriken at the ceiling. The sharp ninja star cut through the chain suspending a massive glass chandelier. The creature leapt out of the way just before the pricy light fixture came crashing down upon his hide. A trail of flames ignited the ruined decor and spread throughout the hall, but Donnie’s ingenuity trapped the demon into a corner, giving Mercury the opening she needed.

“MERCURY... AQUA... RHAPSODY!” The blue clad senshi summoned a harp of flowing water into her hands. She strummed the ethereal strings with her gloved fingers, spawning a tsunami to crash upon the cornered beast. The powerful wave engulfed the fiery creature and when the waters subsided all that remained was the stone sculpture of the lion she had seen guarding the library earlier.

Chapter Text

Chapter 96:

“COWABUNGA!” Mikey jumped in celebration. “Man, that was awesome! I always knew cats hated water, but didn’t know it turned them into stone!”

“Great job!” Donatello turned to congratulate his new friend, but she had fallen onto her knees, struggling to keep herself upright. The mutant rushed over to her side and seized the weak girl into his arms before she fainted from exhaustion. “Hey, are you alright?”

“I.... I... think... so...” Mercury gasped for breath as a bout of vertigo overcame her. Playing the water harp must have taken its toll on her. It had been so long since she had battled a youma.

“Wait a second, you look familiar.” Donatello whispered after closely examining her face. “Are you that girl who...”

“SHREDDER!” Mikey interrupted his brother as their archenemy entered the grand hall. The ominous glow of the onyx crystal lit up the chamber, casting a dark shadow of evil over the library’s elegant tile.

“PERFECT!” The arrogant villain boomed. “Another Sailor Senshi and two more turtles for me to vanquish before I conquer this planet. Come and face me in combat if you dare!”

“We need to tactically relocate, Mikey!” an alarmed Donatello stated, still holding the weakened girl in his arms. She clung to consciousness, but was too weak to stand on her own at the moment. This was clearly a trap set by Shredder. They dared not to take the risk of engaging tin head without Leonardo.

“I’m right there with you, bro!” the orange masked turtle agreed."Let’s bounce!"

They hustled towards the exit on the opposite end of the hall when another lion leapt into the hallway, blocking their path of escape. This one was white as snow, with a frosty mane of jagged icicles instead of flame. The remaining fires died out near its presence, and the air turned so bitterly cold that the turtles could see their own breath when they exhaled. Each paw chilled the very tile it stood on, blanketing it with a thin layer of slippery ice. The behemoth had a distinct tail that split apart into several tendrils, triple the length of its enormous body. It stomped toward them, releasing a vociferous growl that nearly shattered the windowpanes. Tails soared wildly about like frozen whips capable of snapping off a limb.

“Not another killer kitty!“ Michelangelo gripped his pair of nunchaku. “Hey Donnie, please tell me you have a laser pointer or some catnip on you? Maybe a ball of yarn? Anything to distract this totally ferocious feline!”

“Sorry, I’m afraid I don’t!” a dour Donatello scanned the environment, searching for a solution to their current predicament. “Looks like we are going to have to fight our way to freedom!”

“GOOD LUCK WITH THAT!” Shredder chortled, holding up his staff so that the onyx crystal’s light could mesmerize his pet. He pointed the glowing shard at his enemies and ordered the icy beast to attack. “DESTROY THEM!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 97:

Makoto adjusted her Yankee cap as she walked up the steps leading out of the subway station and back onto the New York City streets alongside. She was still a bit annoyed over Minako’s insistent pursuit of meeting a guy on this trip. Her boy-crazed friend clearly wanted no part of going to a baseball game with her, and even if she did, she would not pay attention to the play on the field. Usagi was in even worse shape, too distraught over the fights with Mamoru and Rei to have any fun. The over-emotional girl would likely spend the rest of the day sulking on that ferry boat while Minako chased around that cop.

      Despite her concerns for Usagi, this was still their vacation and she would make the best of it no matter what. Rei’s terrible attitude would not stop her from enjoying it. If none of them wanted to go see a baseball game with her, she would go to the subway series match on her own tonight. But first she needed to check up on Ami. If she knew her friend the way she thought she did, then she expected to find Ami tucked away in the quietest section of that grand library, reading to her heart’s content. Maybe she would accompany her to the game. She would do her best to convince her to come, but if not, she would make sure that she was okay after Rei made those nasty remarks. They were all used to Rei picking on Usagi for her laughable antics over the years, but she had never attacked Ami with such vitriol. Their shy companion was very sensitive, and they all knew that she had been bullied and picked on by her classmates for much of her youth. Rei should have known better than to be so mean spirited to Ami. Her blood was boiling over the way she treated her. It was truly unforgivable! If she bumped into Rei again, she would not escape her wrath so easily as she did this morning.

    Makoto was greeted with the blasting wail of sirens and the persistent honking of horns under a cloudless sky. A large traffic accident blocked a major intersection at the end of this street. The roads were so congested and hectic that even the police and ambulances could not clear a path to provide assistance to those in need.

“What’s happening here?” She wondered aloud, gasping at the sight of people screaming and running away from the public library.

“Ami...” Makoto’s heart sank at the realization that her friend could be in danger if she still inside. She tried calling Ami’s cell-phone, but it went straight to voicemail. Ami had most likely turned it off or placed the device on silent after entering the library. She sprinted in the library's direction, against the herd of people fleeing the building.

Makoto darted behind a bush and noticed that a group of purple clad ninjas were patrolling the grounds of the library. Going in would be very dangerous, but she had to do it if Ami was in trouble. The predicament left her no choice but to transform.

“JUPITER POWER... MAKE UP!”

The Yankees’ cap and the casual clothes she wore disappeared. Her body filled with radiant light as electrical currents circled around her. She emerged from the transformation in her green combat boots, a matching skirt with a pink bow at her chest. Her brown ponytail fluttered behind her head as she landed back on the cement in her magical form.

“HEY...” A grumbling voice sounded behind her. “Ain’t that one of those Sailor chicks that the boss and his queen told us to look out for?”

Sailor Jupiter turned her head to see two grotesque monsters staring right at her. One was a warthog humanoid that stood nearly six feet tall, wearing a red vest and black pants under the overhang of his enormous potbelly. The hideous beast possessed an array of weapons, from guns and blades on his belt to the explosive grenades strapped on his chest. The creature’s face was hideously ugly. He had a purple mohawk and a gold ring running through his snout. She had never seen a freak so grotesque.

“Youma...” Jupiter muttered under her breath. What were these awful demons doing in New York City?

“Yeahhh.”  his companion nodded. This one resembled a rhinoceros with a tough grey skin rippling with muscles. Camouflaged cargo pants and boots covered his legs and she also noted the sharp horn in the center of his face in addition to the weapons he carried like his comrade.  “LET’S GRAB ‘ER!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 98:

Sailor Jupiter tightened her fists as the two youma charged in her direction. The warthog brandished a knife, while the rhino kept his head down, leading the charge with his deadly horn. Running away was not an option. Several of the purple clad ninjas rushed from the library’s entrance to block her escape. It seemed as if they were expecting her. Who were these strange criminals and why were they after her?

The hefty warthog arced his knife, aiming for the girl’s neck. She blocked the strike at the creature’s wrist and used the creature’s momentum to perform a judo throw over her shoulder. The surprised mammoth wailed as he thudded onto the cement. Jupiter immediately looked left and the rhinoceros humanoid was a few feet away from impaling her. She leapt into the air, pushing her hands against the youma’s wide shoulder’s as she back flipped over him. The befuddled creature looked up from his stampede and scratched his head in confusion that he had missed the magical girl.

“HUH?” the mutant mumbled as he felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned around to find his target standing before him with her arms up ready for a fistfight.

“SAILOR PUNCH!” Jupiter’s right hand charged up with electricity as she smashed it into the beast’s eye.

“OWW...” He stumbled backwards and tripped over the warthog who was struggling to get back up after the deadly throw.

The ninjas had caught up to her position and took aim with their guns. Jupiter gasped as a barrage of laser bolts soared through the blue sky at her direction. She cart-wheeled out of their path, avoiding the enemy fire until she found an opportunity to counterattack.

“SUPREME... THUNDER!” Sailor Jupiter called the words, summoning an array of rain clouds over the library, blocking out the sun. The ninjas stared up at the sudden storm in confusion as rain fell and thunder crackled overhead, but the warthog was not perturbed.

“I’LL SHOW YOU...” The enraged beast snatched his knife off the ground and charged at the female with the blade thrust forward.

Jupiter stood her ground with her eyes closed and hands stretched out to the dark sky as flashes of lightning answered her call all around the library grounds. A deafening bang rumbled above, followed by a powerful jolt that surged into the warthog’s metal knife. The beast’s limbs locked, and he seemed to turn white for a split second from the supercharge. The knife slipped from his grip as he fell at Jupiter’s feet. He wailed in pain, grabbing at her boots while smoke emanated from his cooked flesh.

     The ninjas scurried about in a panic to avoid the lightning, but most weren’t lucky enough to avoid the electrical swarm. They dropped like flies as bolts of lightning picked them off one by one. Jupiter ran through the rainstorm and towards the library’s entrance, her path now cleared of soldiers and youma thanks to her powerful attack.

Chapter Text

Chapter 99:

       Sailor Mercury winced in pain. She pushed herself up onto her knees and draped her arms over the corner of an overturned desk so that she could get a glimpse of the battle. Her reptilian allies provided her with cover and told her to hide while they took care of the ferocious lion and armored figure they referred to as “Shredder.”

The silly turtle with the orange mask darted around the enchanted sculpture, trying his best to get close enough for an attack with his nunchaku while avoiding its frosty tendrils that aimed to latch onto his shell. He batted them away with his nunchaku, but more nasty appendages kept coming. Everything they struck turned into a solid block of ice, from the fallen cabinets and broken desks to chairs and lighting fixtures. The surrounding tile turned to a sheet of ice, making it difficult for the ninja to maintain his footing on the slick surface while avoiding the obstacles littered around the chamber.

“WIPE OUT!” Michelangelo dodged another onslaught of slithery appendages, only to slip and slide on his protective exterior. The beast pounced towards his spinning prey, eager to snatch him into his maw of razor-sharp teeth.

The turtle’s brother fared no better, locked in an epic duel with the mysterious man wearing a shiny helmet. The evil villain toyed with the mutant, parrying the strikes of his wooden bo with ease until sweeping his legs with the shaft of his silver staff. He smashed his armored boot into the fallen turtle’s side, kicking him away. Shredder’s sinister laughter echoed through the chamber as he extended a three-pronged set of claws and gestured for the bruised turtle to attack once more.

It was painfully obvious to Ami that these reptilian humanoids desperately needed her help. She could not just sit back and watch them die.

“BUBBLE... BLAST!” a weakened Sailor Mercury emerged from cover and called out her attack. A barrage of foamy suds floated into the chamber once again, pouring out of the floor, ceiling and walls on all sides to fill the entire study hall with a bubbly substance.

Michelangelo took advantage of the momentary distraction and rolled out of the way just as the lion’s gaping mouth chomped down at his head. The ninja turtle swung his nunchaku with blind fury, connecting a vicious shot across the monster’s nose. It staggered backward, giving Mikey an opportunity to corral the beast.

“COWABUNGA!” he shouted, wrapping his reptilian hands around the frosty lion. The beast jolted back and forth, kicking its hind legs like an angry bull at a rodeo.

The lion freed itself of his rider, launching Michelangelo somewhere into the mist. It swooped down, but could not locate the turtle amongst the relentless torrent of bubbles fogging his vision. It swiped at the soapy air pockets with both paws and pounced to the left and right, smashing into the few bookcases that remained upright. Shards of wood and paper flew everywhere as the frustrated beast thrashed its body throughout the chamber. 

“ENOUGH OF THIS FOOLISHNESS!” Shredder slammed the butt of his staff to the floor, igniting the energy within the onyx crystal to life. All the bubbles popped in a flash, exposing the Sailor Senshi in blue.

“I won’t let you get away with destroying this wonderful library and harming these innocent people. Douse yourself in water and repent!” Sailor Mercury warned her opponent. “I demand that you stand down! Or... or... or else!”

“Or else what?” Shredder grinned. “You really think you can defeat me with bubbles, Sailor Senshi? Come and try your best. I dare you.”

“SHINE AQUA... ILLUSION!” Sailor Mercury summoned a single drop of water from the ceiling and cupped it into her gloved hands before unleashing a torrential rainstorm that pelted the warrior like a hurricane.

Shredder held out his staff and absorbed the droplets into its capstone before releasing them back at the senshi and the turtles. Mercury gasped as bullets of water slammed into her, spitting her down to the other end of the chamber until her back smacked into a towering support column. The deafening roar of the ice lion rang into her eardrums as its frozen tendrils came down upon her prone body.

“No!” the purple masked turtle swung his staff and pushed the girl out of the appendage’s grasp. He charged at the beast, swinging his lumber out of mere desperation, but soon found himself scooped up off the marble floor with icy tendrils wrapped around each of his limbs.

“Someone crank up the heat in this joint!” Michelangelo raced to his brother’s defense, only to get snatched by his ankles.

The dazed Sailor glanced up only to see both turtles dangling several feet off the ground and frozen into icicles within the grip of the lion’s appendages. Shredder approached as she scuttled backward in fear, eager to get away from this sadistic man. She peered out the window and noticed that the clear sky had suddenly turned overcast. Flashes of lightning lit up the chamber, followed by the rumblings of thunder.

“Sailor Jupiter...” The sign of her fellow senshi potentially coming to her aid filled her with a sense of hope. None of her water or ice attacks would have any effect on this youma, but if she held off Shredder for just a while longer than maybe she could and save the turtles and make a daring escape when backup arrived. She had to risk playing her harp again. Hopefully, it could overpower that ominous dark crystal that sat upon the top of Shredder’s staff.

“Mercury... AQUA... RHAPSODY!” The mystical harp materialized in her hands. She played a beautiful tune on the watery strings, generating a mega-tsunami from within the magical instrument. Shredder grinned arrogantly in anticipation as the wave descended upon his outstretched hands, absorbing the rushing waters directly into the capstone of his staff. Sailor Mercury collapsed from exertion, panting for breath on the cold marble. She glanced up only to find the cloaked figure brooding over her. A dark aura emanated from the crystal, brimming with her captured celestial energy.

 The villain slashed the staff in her direction, generating a swirling orb of pure malice that barreled into the Sailor Senshi. Mercury groaned in agony as a dark force surged through every vein of her body. It felt as if her very blood was on fire. She screeched loudly, wanting nothing more than for the intense suffering to end. Even death itself would be preferable over the torment she experienced from the onyx crystal. The guardian finally got her wish when the pain was too much to bare. She slumped to the floor, feeling her heart rate slow as life faded away.

Chapter Text

Chapter 100

“Sailor Mercury!” Jupiter gasped after bursting into the library’s central chamber, only to discover a warrior donned in a suit of armor unleashing an orb of energy at her companion. There was nothing she could do from her position but watch while the dark blast pummeled the lone senshi. The screams and wails of pain that followed were sickening to hear. Jupiter leapt over the broken cabinets and piles of books on the marble floor, rushing to her rescue.

There was only one problem. Before she could reach Mercury and defeat her assailant, a vicious youma blocked her path. This demon resembled a lion, baring snowy fur with a mane of jagged icicles. It had an array of tendrils in place of its tail that swung back and forth in the wide canopy of the chamber. Within their grasp were two green freaks, their shells encased in ice. She did not care who or what these strange beings were, only that she had to get past this lion if she was going to rescue Mercury.

The lion roared once it spotted the tall and athletic Senshi. Jupiter stood her ground while the frosty breath of the youma chilled her from her pale face down to her long legs. She gritted her teeth, refusing to let this powerful youma intimidate her. The creature backpedaled several feet at the sight of electricity swarming around the young woman’s gloved hands. It lashed its remaining tendrils at her position, but Jupiter cartwheeled out of its path as the nasty appendage obliterated a desk. Book binding and pieces of parchment fluttered throughout the chamber after each miss while Jupiter inched her way closer to the beast.

  Her green combat boots landed safely on a frost covered table within striking distance of the lion. The beast thrashed its giant frame in her direction, snapping its gaping maw at her head. Jupiter ducked just in time as sharp teeth tore a clump of brown hair from her lengthy ponytail.

  She had come dangerously close to death and would soon end up as this beast’s lunch if she did not take action. But before she could even plan an attack, the beast roared, releasing a volley of icicles from its mane like a machine gun. Jupiter dodged behind a bookshelf to protect her from the incoming fire. Shards of ice bombarded her position, battering through the wood and forcing her to move out of hiding. She would not run away from danger. Mercury needed her. The beast lurked, ready to pounce on the senshi the moment she appeared from cover, but Jupiter flipped the script on the youma. Instead of running away from the torrent of icicles, she sacrificed her body, leaping over a field of debris as shards of ice pounded into her sailor suit. The bloodied Senshi landed directly before the surprised youma. It opened its mouth wide, ready to devour her whole until she called out the words of her spell.

“SUPREME... THUNDER!” A crack of thunder rumbled within the library’s central chamber. She extended her hands, holding the beast’s teeth at bay as an electricity swam through her arms and into the youma’s jaw. The beast staggered backward, its tendrils flailing wildly from the vicious shock. Reptilian prisoners remained in its grasp, their shelled forms smacked against the chamber walls and reeked further havoc on the library’s interior. Their bodies smashed into light fixtures, desks and the few remaining cabinets until the beast regained its composure and let out another deafening roar.

This time the angry youma came at her with claws extended, leaping over the rubble with no fear of the Senshi. Jupiter stood her ground while a dazzling lightning bolt answered her call, descending from the ceiling in a flash to strike beast’s icy mane. The youma wailed in agony, its frosty body shrank and turned grey, slowing the creature to a halt. It tried swiping its paws at the guardian one last time before locking into place. Icy appendages cracked one by one, breaking apart into a million pieces as they crumbled down to the marble.

“OWW...” One of the green figures moaned after tumbling onto the floor, leaving behind a nice crack in the marble. “SHELL SHOCKED...”

Chapter Text

Chapter 101:

Jupiter ignored the green freaks and rushed over the wreckage, stampeding over piles of torn books and splintered pieces of wood. Blood trickled from the various cuts and scratches on her skin, staining her white suit and the pink bow pinned to her busty chest. She glowered at the intimidating figure before her, electricity coursing through her hands in anger. A mask concealed his face from underneath his metal helmet, but she could still hear him chuckling arrogantly. He gestured for her to come forth with a clawed gauntlet, standing over her fallen companion who lay sprawled out on the marble. Jupiter’s heart sank at the sight of the defeated Mercury face down on the cold tile. She struggled to hold back tears as she broke into a sprint; her face a mixture of grief and pure rage. She would destroy this foe, whoever he was. The cloaked figure gripped his staff with both hands. Its capstone shimmered brightly while he patiently awaited the senshi.

“SPARKLING...” Jupiter chanted her spell, charging up her body with an electrical storm that would fry this man’s brain to jelly. The mysterious warrior swung his staff in her direction, unleashing a purple ball of shimmering energy. She was confident that her attack would overpower her adversary, but an object struck her lower back before she could complete the cantation, causing the guardian to stumble onto her bare knees. The orb whizzed over her head and smashed into a marble column, reducing the stone to nothing but a fine powder. It would have obliterated her had it met its mark, but Jupiter was further enraged that someone dared to stop her from unleashing fury upon the cloaked figure. She pushed herself upright to find herself held back by the green creature wielding a wooden bo staff. He was hideously ugly, with slimy reptilian skin, a yellow chest and a large shell covering his backside. He wore a belt around his waist, with a purple mask, and wraps around his elbows and knees. Was this ugly beast a youma under the control of Mercury’s assailant? Or was he an ally? Regardless, she wanted to destroy them both.

“Shredder!” Donatello turned to face his archenemy, gripping his bo staff tightly in both hands. “Your fight is with me and my family. Let these girls go!”

“That is where you are wrong, ignoramus.” Shredder lectured. “I am under orders from my Queen to destroy these futile females. I have already dispatched two of them along with your leader! They are nothing but food for the fishes after I sank the Staten Island Ferry to the bottom of the harbor!”

“Minako… Usagi…” Jupiter muttered their names under her breath in disbelief. Had this evil warrior really killed her friends, as he claimed? Guilt overtook her at the very thought of it. If only she had been there to protect them. But what about Mercury? At least she still had a slim chance to save her. This was all Rei’s fault. Her selfish actions had split the girls apart. Together, the five of them could defeat any enemy with their combined might. Fighting separately, however, was another story.

“He’s lying!” Donatello sensed the tall girl’s grief and held out his staff to keep her at bay. The turtle did not know who these magical young women were, but their abilities would not work on Shredder as long as he possessed that crystal. He did not want her to attempt anything reckless. “Don’t let him get under your skin!”

“Phase one of my master plan is now complete. My foot-soldiers have drained a sufficient amount of human energy from these pathetic civilians. I think I will take this feeble adolescent who dared oppose me as a prize for my Queen.” Oroku Saki grinned from under his mask, waving his crystal staff overhead to summon rift in midair. A swirling gateway to another dimension materialized before them. He scooped the motionless Mercury off the floor and slung her over an armored shoulder. “I will allow you cretins to live temporarily, only to bear witness to the terrible destruction that is yet to come!”

“Sailor Mercury!” Jupiter shrieked, bursting past the green youma to stop the sadistic villain from escaping through the portal with her companion in tow. She tightened her hands into fists and completed the words to her spell. “SPARKLING... WIDE... PRESSURE!”

The library’s central chamber lit up with a brilliant flash of electricity that formed in the senshi’s open hands, filling her with vigor and the thirst for revenge. She immediately threw a dazzling bolt at the cloaked figure, like angry pitcher trying to plunk a batter that disrespected him. The electrical ball whizzed to the opposite end of the chamber like a missile seeking its target, but her newfound nemesis waved his staff, forming a protective barrier around himself with the darkness emanating from his shard. Jupiter found herself ensnared by the evil aura escaping the staff’s capstone. It mesmerized her with its wickedness, and her eyes flashed with its haze for just a moment before one of the mutants snapped her out of it.

“Holy guacamole!” the banged up Michelangelo grimaced from his position floor, watching the electrically charged mass bounce off the magical barrier and pinball off the ceiling until it crashed into the center of the chamber. The turtle braced himself as the ball broke apart and rippled across the marble like waves in the ocean.

“Look out!” Donatello called out while electrical currents swam up and around the walls, stretching past the windows until they converged at the top of the ceiling. The remaining crystal chandeliers burst into flame, shattering from the surcharge. The turtles twitched as the electricity gave them a shock, locking out their joints. They could still hear Shredder laughing from within his protective shield.

“Mercury!” the bloodied Jupiter outstretched her hands, crawling on the marble floor in a frantic effort to reach her friend before it was too late. She could still see Ami’s short blue hair and white gloves hanging limp over the armored man’s cape, but they soon disappeared from view as he jumped through a rift into another world. The portal snapped shut and just like that, Mercury had vanished. The electrical currents radiating throughout the library fizzled out, leaving her and the turtles shrouded in total darkness. Thunder rumbled outside the building, but the clouds were parting. A bout of vertigo overtook the senshi as the storm diminished. She had overexerted herself and now suffered the consequences. Jupiter fought against the writhing pain, but soon collapsed from exhaustion.

“Who on earth are these bodacious chicks?” Michelangelo approached his brother, who hovered over the unconscious girl.

“Beats me.” Donatello grabbed his chin in thought. “But we owe them our lives.”

“What are we going to do, bro?” Mikey asked his brother over the wailing sounds of sirens that grew louder and louder by the second. “The cops are coming!”

“We can’t just leave her behind.” Donatello looked through a windowpane and noticed a large contingency of police entering the library, rounding up members of the foot clan. A sense of guilt plagued his mind. He did not know who these girls were, but the one in the blue skirt had shown great kindness by helping repair the turtle van. Not only had he failed to protect her, but she had gotten kidnapped by their arch nemesis. They only had a few seconds left to get away before officers stormed into the central chamber and discovered the two mutants. If they stuck around here, the cops and media would surely blame them for the devastation to the once magnificent study hall. “Let’s take her back to the hideout and tell Leo what happened. He will know what to do!”

Chapter Text

ACT V: SEWER SURFIN’

Chapter 102:

April O’Neil and her intern scrambled for higher ground, gasping at the sight of a rising wall of harbor water. They abandoned their production equipment, running deeper into the park before the giant wave came crashing down on them and hundreds of park goers. Screams of panic filled the air as the surge obliterated the chess tournament, knocking over chairs, tables, and game boards set up on the grassy field.

The fleeing women became separated, swallowed up by the strong current. Rei swung her arms in a mad panic, unable to see a foot past her face in the murky seawater. Her friend… or perhaps former friend… Ami Mizuno was a skilled swimmer, but she never had a talent for it. The riptide pulled on her body and she was losing the battle, no matter how hard she fought against it. She was in danger of getting swept out to sea and would soon drown. A fitting death, considering the way she had treated Ami earlier today.

The disgusting water filled her lungs. Her flailing arms weakened until she felt a violent tug, forcing her head to break the surface. Rei half expected to find herself in the grasp of the handsome war veteran that she had interviewed earlier, but much to her surprise it was April O’Neil who held her, bracing against a tree trunk for support.

“Are you alright?” April asked after enough of the harbor water receded.

“I... am... okay...” the distressed Rei hunched over. Her long black hair dripped while she coughed up more water. A disgusting aftertaste lingered in her mouth, and she shuddered at the thought of all the pollutants she had inadvertently ingested into her system. “You saved me from drowning. Thank you.”

“There’s no need to thank me!” April pointed her hands at the orange ferry boat drifting upstream. Dozens of police and coastguard ships with blaring sirens surrounded the vessel. Helicopters hovered over the park as a tug boat dragged the ferry closer to the dock where medical personnel and other officials rushed to render first-aid. “Did you see those two girls atop the ferry? They threw some kind of flash-bomb into the water and diverted the course of the boat. Had they not done so, the ferry would have crashed and killed everyone onboard!”

“Yes, I noticed them too.” Rei was hesitant to reveal anything about her fellow Sailor Senshi to her yellow clad mentor. “I wonder who they are.”

“Me too, let’s investigate!” The excited April nodded. “What a great story it will be for the network! Imagine if we can get footage of those mysterious heroes!”

“But we lost all of our equipment!” Rei gestured to the ruined staging area. Their cameras and other tools remained trapped underneath a pile of metal and wood from the collapsed stage. Even if they could recover some items, she doubted they would work after being submerged.

“Don’t worry about that!” April reassured with a smile as they made their way down the muddy path. “I keep a backup camcorder in the news van just in case a situation like this arises. Lesson number one: always have a contingency plan!”

“That won’t be necessary!” Vernon Fenwick interrupted with his intern Freida alongside him, struggling to wheel a large case loaded with production gear along the slippery pavement. “It looks like the authorities have canceled the concert due to this foul attack. Mr. Thompson has informed me that we are to cover this top story and investigate those despicable criminals that nearly drowned you.”

“Those girls weren’t criminals!” Rei barked back at the obnoxious reporter.

“Hmmph. How do you know? Are you in league with them or something?” Vern snorted. “Such disrespect and blind ignorance from today’s youth.”

“The foot-clan was behind this and you know it.” April added. “I told you it was only a matter of time before they resurfaced!”

“Hey, I’m still waiting to see that tecmo bowl thing you were babbling about.” the news reporter mocked.

“Technodrome!” April snapped.

“Whatever.” Vern shrugged. “We will conduct some interviews and get to the bottom of this case. Freida and I will bring the prestige and credibility back to this station that you haphazardly destroyed. Now scram, before I report you to our fine chief executive officer for insubordination. You wouldn’t want a third strike, right Ms. Hino?”

Chapter Text

Chapter 103

“Damn that Fenwick.” April O’Neil sighed after climbing into the Channel 6 News van. She jammed in the key and gave it a turn to start up the engine. “Don’t let him get to you, okay?”

 Rei’s clothes were still sopping wet when she got in the passenger’s seat next to her mentor. She folded her arms and stared out of the dirty window toward the ferry dock, bustling with emergency response activity. Loud sirens and the blinding lights drew her attention to the orange boat in the distance. She wanted nothing more than to run out of this stupid van and get a closer look to make sure her friends were okay.

If only they had gotten to report on this attack instead of that abhorrent Fenwick. Not only would it have provided her with a thrilling experience to provide live coverage of this heinous disaster, but maybe she would have spotted her friends in the crowd and had time to make amends with them.

    A sudden sense of dread came over her as she remembered the nightmarish vision she witnessed the night before leaving Japan. Did they transform into Sailor Senshi simply to stop this criminal organization called the foot-clan? Or had a new enemy emerged as she feared? Could Usagi’s life be in danger now that elements of her dream were materializing?

The idling van hummed while April cycled through channels on a handheld radio system. Rei wondered what she was searching for but did not bother to ask as she retrieved her cell phone. Usagi and the others were probably furious with her, but she could not let another moment go by without reaching out to them. Should she call or send them a text? Minako was always glued to her phone and would surely get the message, but how would they react to it? They must despise her for all the mean things she said and kicking them out of the hotel room. Maybe they wouldn’t even bother to respond after her cruel tirade. She had renounced herself as a member of the Sailor Team, after all. She didn’t deserve their forgiveness, if they were even willing to accept it.

“Come on, you stupid thing!” Rei groaned in frustration at the black screen on her cellular device. She pressed the power button on her phone, but it would not boot up. Looks like she wouldn’t have the opportunity to make the apology unless she met up with them in person. And Yuuichirou... the worried apprentice would panic once he heard that there was a terrorist attack in the city. She silently prayed that he would not do anything rash. “The water must have damaged my cell phone.”

“We have an even bigger problem on our hands.” April held the radio up to ear, listening carefully to the police transmissions.

“What’s wrong?” Rei could see the concern on her mentor’s face.

“There’s been another attack.” The journalist shifted gears and pulled the van out of the tight parking spot. The tires screeched on the road as she slammed her boot on the gas pedal, weaving the Channel 6 News van around the heavy traffic of battery park. Rei gave one last look at the dock until the orange ferry boat disappeared from view.

Chapter Text

Chapter 104:

The police questioned Usagi and Minako after finding them on top of the ferry, but quickly let them go after a brief interrogation. They had told the officers everything they had witnessed, but the detectives on scene did not seem to believe their account and released them from custody. Emergency medical technicians gave them blankets, which they kept draped over their soaked t-shirts like a superhero’s cape. Police officers then escorted them off the ferry and onto a dock swarming with emergency response units, members of the media, concerned onlookers and other government agencies. The bewildered girls took notice that law enforcement had taken many of the hooded ninjas into custody, dragging them off the boat in handcuffs and collecting their strange guns for examination.

     Medical staff was shocked to find that the victims were still alive, however, most of them lingered in a lethargic or comatose state. Very few could get up and walk on their own two feet. Some could speak, but they did not seem to remember what had happened. The frantic medical professionals loaded as many casualties as they could into the back of an ambulance before the driver sped away to the nearest hospital, clearly baffled by the state of these poor people.

“Queen Beryl...” a worried Usagi spoke the dreaded name of an enemy she and the rest of the Sailor Team had defeated many years ago. The so-called ninja turtle had mentioned the vile sorceress after their skirmish with the Sea Troll. Maybe he was mistaken. How was this even possible? She did not want to believe it, but could not deny the similarity between this attack and events from years ago. Was Queen Beryl really alive? And if so, was she trying to revive Metalia? If that was the case...

“We need to find that Masked man and his sword wielding tortoise friend!” Minako’s cheeks reddened at the thought of her muscular savior. “It was our destiny to meet! I just know it!”

“Minako!” Usagi needed her guardian to focus on the task at hand. They needed to learn more about the strangers fighting alongside them and seek help against their common enemies. If Queen Beryl was truly the one behind these attacks, they would need all the help they could get.

 “Now I know why I’ve had such bad luck with love for so long.” the wide-eyed girl continued. “It is surely fate that I meet my one and only soul mate, just as you did with Tuxedo Mask. Can you believe that a masked man saved me too! This can’t be a mere coincidence!”

“We need to find them.” Usagi nodded in agreement. Her friend’s comments about her own personal masked savior made her think about Mamoru. She missed him deeply and wished he was here to protect her from their old foe, but it was not even possible to contact him. She could not rely on Tuxedo Mask to come and save her from danger at the opportune moment, just like old times. He was thousands of miles away, and probably still furious with her decision to spend his savings on a plane ticket to New York. It was up to her to put a stop to Queen Beryl’s plans, but she knew she could not do it alone."But first we need to contact Ami and Makoto and tell them everything that happened."

“You are right, I’m sorry.” Minako had promised herself after transforming into Sailor Venus that she would not get so distracted by boys and forget her true duty as a Sailor Senshi but she could not get the visage of the mysterious masked man out of her head no matter how hard she tried. “I can’t wait to tell them all about my handsome hero! Makoto will be so jealous. I knew I’d get a boyfriend during this trip!”

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Chapter 105:

“Ami and Makoto aren’t answering me.” Minako took her cell phone away from her ear and touched the red button on the screen to end her latest attempt. They walked away from the dock towards the greenery, where they could gather their thoughts. The chaos from the ferry incident lingered, with hoards of people inching for a closer look at all the police activity.

“Do you think something is wrong?” Usagi whimpered. She needed to gather everyone together in the worst way to tell them the dire news of Beryl’s reemergence.

“No, of course not. I’m sure they are both fine!” Minako tried to remain positive but couldn’t help but think that the Sailor Team had never felt so fractured. A large part of it was because of her negligence. This was another failure to add to her growing list of shortcomings ever since departing for college. "Maybe they went to that basketball game Makoto kept mentioning."

 “What about Rei?” the desperate Usagi implored."Have you tried her contacting her yet? She will know what to do!"

“Rei?” the stunned blonde turned her head away at the very mention of their companion, concealing her bitter scowl. Usagi could tell that the argument still upset her, despite everything that happened on the ferry. “No, I haven’t. Why even bother? She won’t help us defeat the enemy. Rei renounced herself as a Sailor Senshi, remember?”

“I refuse to believe that! Please try to call her or give me the phone and I’ll do it myself!” Usagi held back tears as she made a grab for the device. “I will apologize to her and make everything right. I will even beg for forgiveness if I have to. This is all my fault!”

“Usagi, that’s not true.” Minako assured her friend. “Don’t blame yourself for that meanie’s behavior!”

“I know that I’ve caused her enough trouble over the years, but I really screwed up badly this time. Mamoru and Luna were right about everything they warned me about.” Usagi let out an audible sigh. “I’ve been nothing but a terrible distraction to Rei ever since we arrived, just like they said I would. If only I had just listened to them and stayed home.”

“I should have realized that this trip was not a good idea as well.” Minako’s tone became more serious and her smile diminished. "I jumped on the opportunity to get out of Japan and have some fun with you guys because I really needed an escape from everything. I got a little carried away with the celebration last night, and it was wrong of me to push all of those drinks on you. It’s my fault you got sick, and that’s what caused Rei to explode on us, so shame on me! Please don’t blame yourself for this!"

“Escape?” Usagi had never seen Minako look so depressed before. What had caused her usual happy-go-lucky demeanor to shift so suddenly? Perhaps she was hiding something. “From what?”

“My first year of college did not exactly go the way I wanted it to.” Minako confessed. “I joined the drama club to jump start my goal of becoming a famous idol. It was tough to study and make classes, considering I was also the captain of the women’s volleyball team. I thought I could do both, but it proved too much for me to handle. My grades suffered as a result, and I could not maintain the required GPA to keep my athletic scholarship.“

“That’s terrible!” Usagi exclaimed. Why hadn’t Minako mentioned anything to her sooner? She seemed perfectly fine when they met up for brunch at the diner and their picnic in the park. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

“Things only got worse from there.” Minako continued. “I became obsessed with a member of the drama club. He was my love interest in this play we were co starring in. We spent a lot of time together rehearsing lines and I fell for him. One night I got a little aggressive in my interpretation of a romantic scene, only for him to reject my advances! He actually went to court and filed an order of protection! I lost my role in the play and got kicked off the volleyball team when word got out!”

“I remember you mentioning that you had to go to court.” Usagi said. “But you seemed so happy at Rei’s farewell party. Why didn’t you tell us everything?”

“Because I was ashamed. I felt completely lost after this happened, and turned to drinking, partying and chasing after every guy I met just to make myself feel better.” Minako admitted. “I wanted to tell everyone, but I didn’t want to take away from Rei’s success by having a pity party. I admire her hard work and determination. No distractions seem to bother her from chasing her dreams. I know she will accomplish everything she sets out to do. I am probably going to drop out of college all together at this point and I didn’t want you guys to think that I was a total failure.”

“I would never think that!” Usagi assured her. “You have so much talent inside of you just waiting to burst. I won’t allow you to quit on your dreams no matter what!”

“College made me realize that becoming a world famous idol is not a realistic dream.” Minako shook her head in sadness. “I was so naïve when I was younger to think I could become a celebrity when I grew up.”

“Don’t quit! I know you will become a star once you get another opportunity!” Usagi encouraged."I will never give up on you!"

“Thank you for believing in me, Usagi.” Minako’s smile returned. “I suppose we should not give up on Rei, either. She certainly has her reasons to be mad at us. Anyone who holds her drunken friend’s pigtails up while she pukes into a toilet is a loyal friend. Hopefully she will sweep this argument right under the bridge!”

“Hey, look over there!” an excited Usagi pointed to a tent where a couple of reporters were setting up production equipment."Channel 6 News! Isn’t that the station Rei works for?"

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Chapter 106:

“Excuse me, mister?” Usagi approached a tall middle-aged man wearing a pink dress shirt busy at work. He was adjusting a heavy news camera on top of a tripod so that he could capture the ferry terminal and the iconic orange boat in the backdrop of his shot.

“Sorry, I don’t do autographs.” the smug reporter did not even bother to glance at the pigtailed girl as he continued calibrating the equipment. “If you want to take a quick selfie with me, go on ahead. Just make it quick.”

“No, thank you.” she responded in her best English. “I am looking for one of the Channel 6 interns named Rei Hino. Is she here by any chance?”

“Rei Hino?” mentioning the name made him step away from the camcorder and look at the two girls in bewilderment. The blondes appeared to be about the same age and height and could easily be mistaken for sisters if it wasn’t for their distinct hairstyles and sense of fashion."Oh, that young lady from Japan? It’s too bad, you just missed her. She was covering a chess tournament until this shocking attack took place. The boss wanted the best reporter on the scene for a job of this magnitude, so he assigned me to cover it, naturally."

“Do you know where she went?” the hopeful Usagi asked. “We need to speak with her right away.”

“Oh, you two must be the friends staying in the Sunset Inn without permission.” the arrogant man grinned. “I’ve heard so much about you and the commotion you stirred in the lobby last night.”

“Yep, that was us!” Minako laughed. “Sorry about that. Please don’t hold it against Rei.”

“Don’t worry, it’s fine.” Vern noted her infectious smile. “Our CEO Mr. Thompson, is a very kind and understanding gentleman. Rei hasn’t gotten in any trouble for it, I assure you.”

“Really?” The two girls looked at each other in confusion. That was not how Rei made it seem.

“Unfortunately, you just missed my subordinates.” he extended his hand for them to shake. “The name’s Vernon Fenwick. Newly promoted anchor for Channel 6 News. You two didn’t come off that ferry boat just now, did you?”

“Yes, we saw everything!” Usagi nodded. “That’s why we need to find Rei.”

“Excellent. My intern Freida and I are interviewing witnesses shortly.” Vernon smirked as the thought of another plan to embarrass his revival and her protégée popped into his mind. “How would you like to be my guest on live television?”

“I am so sorry, but we really must be going.” a look of disappointment crossed Minako’s face as she politely rejected the offer.

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Chapter 107:

“Excuse us for just a moment!” a perplexed Usagi pulled her friend away from the beat reporter so that they could have a word in private. He gave the quirky girl a look and shrugged his shoulders before resuming his tasks.

“What’s wrong?” Minako asked.

“Don’t you see it!” Usagi squeezed her friend’s hands in excitement. “This is your chance! Your opportunity to fulfill your dream and get on live TV! How could you turn it down? Isn’t this what you’ve always wanted?”

“Of course it is!” Minako kept her voice low to make sure Fenwick could not hear her, but he was too busy combing his hair to pay them any mind at the moment. “But what about our duties as senshi? Our enemy has returned. That matter is far more pressing than my silly dreams.”

“We’ve defeated Queen Beryl once before. Surely we can do it again once we reunite with the rest of the team.” Usagi nodded with confidence, masking her inner fears to the best of her ability. The very thought of confronting Queen Beryl and dealing with her armored champion filled her with dread, but her friend’s happiness meant more to her than anything in the world. “I won’t let that vile witch put your dreams on hold!”

“You are so right!” Minako agreed. “We are still on vacation, after all. Let’s do this... together!”

“Did you girls change your mind?” Fenwick turned from the tripod only to notice that tourists had returned.

“I guess we can spare a few minutes for an interview!” Usagi smiled. “Make sure you capture my good side on camera.”

“Oh, I forgot to mention.” Fenwick dismissed her with a wave of his hand. The disheveled girl with the wild pigtails did not suit his plan, but her beautiful companion was perfect. “Sorry, but I only require one of you and I’d like to hear from your lovely companion instead.”

“WHAT!” Usagi pouted in disbelief. “Hey, that’s no fair!”

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Chapter 108:

“Do your best!” Usagi watched from the sidelines, cheering on her friend. Being on television would have been a fun experience, but the reporter would not budge despite her childish whining.

“So you just came off the ferry?” Fenwick began the interview. “What a frightening ordeal that must have been for you. Why don’t you tell the viewers at home exactly what happened? ”

“Yes, I am a key eyewitness and this is my story…” the excited Minako threw the blanket off from around her shoulders, exposing her white t-shirt with the “I <3 NY” logo emblazoned in the center. She tied the oversized garment above her belly button in a manner to make it a tighter fit. Minako could look beautiful in any situation with little to no effort. She adjusted her long blonde hair and gave an elaborate story of the events, relishing her moment in the spotlight. She truly shined on camera, and those innate skills were on full display during her account of the tragedy. There was no doubt in her mind that she could achieve that goal and become a world famous star, despite her recent struggles at college. 

“And then this masked man appeared out of nowhere!” Minako beamed at the mention of her mysterious savior. She talked with her hands, making many exaggerated gestures while she told her story. “He was so handsome with long black hair and rippling muscles! I could not see his face, but I could just tell he was very good-looking!”

“Well, I assure you it wasn’t me as much as I match that excellent description.” Fenwick chuckled. “What about the reports of two mysterious women on top of the ferry?” Did you see them?"

“Oh yes, I did!” Minako nodded with enthusiasm. “I don’t know who they are, but they both looked so beautiful while beating up those bad guys.”

“So they weren’t attacking citizens on the boat?” Fenwick’s demeanor suddenly changed, as if her answer disappointed him. “Are you certain?”

“No, of course not!” Minako exclaimed, slightly taken aback by the accusation. “They even diverted the course of the boat to prevent it from colliding with the dock! I tried to tell the police everything, but they didn’t believe me.”

“It sounds like a bunch of hogwash to me as well!” Vern stood in front of the camera, pushing Minako out of focus. “Those vile women attacked innocent bystanders in battery park with a massive tsunami wave according to other eyewitness accounts.”

“That’s not true! They were both heroes!” Usagi could not contain herself, jumping in front of the camera. She smiled in embarrassment at the realization that she had just interrupted a live transmission, giving a wave to the lens after blasting the reporter for his false accusations.

“Security!” Fenwick yelled. His patience for the pigtailed girl had run out. Hopefully, he had gotten what he needed with this interview. “Please have this brat removed immediately!”

Freida looked around and did not see any guards in the area, so she took it upon herself to step in grab Usagi to pull her out of the live picture. The clumsy girl scuttled her legs and bumped into Fenwick. 

“Whoa!” The reporter stumbled against the tripod stand.

“Uh oh!” Minako gasped. It was all she could do but watch as the precious piece of equipment smacked against the pavement.

“That’s assault! Police!” Fenwick shouted. Wait until Mr. Thompson finds out that Rei’s friends were in jail for criminal mischief. The news anchor abandoned the set to chase after the klutz. “Arrest her for destruction of Channel 6 News property!”

“YAHHH!” Usagi bolted before officers and staff could respond.

“Wait! It’s not even broken!” Minako noticed the camera was still rolling and hoisted it upright. She waved into the red blinking light, saying hello to the millions of viewers watching this debacle unfold in real time. What could she do to entertain them? She scooped up the microphone and sang her favorite pop song, pretending she was back in the karaoke bar. The jazz band heard her angelic voice in the distance. They took out their instruments and played them in support. A crowd formed around the young diva, cheering Minako on as she danced to the music during an interlude. The interview morphed into a live concert despite the surrounding chaos.

Fenwick gave up on Usagi, pushing his way through the spectators to make his way back on camera. He couldn’t miss this opportunity to showcase his talents to the world! The reporter clapped his hands and danced alongside Minako until she handed him the microphone. Vern jumped into the spotlight, seizing the moment to sing. Men and women grabbed their ears, cringing from the high-pitched mess that sounded worse than nails scraping against a chalkboard.

“Let’s get out of here!” Minako took advantage of the distracted reporter, slipping away from the set to reunite with Usagi. They raced out of the park with a mob of rowdy fans trailing behind her, eager for an encore.

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Chapter 109:

Shredder marched into the palace and down the faded strip of carpet with his prized prisoner slung around his shoulder. The onyx crystal shimmered around him, but its glow was no longer needed to illuminate the spacious castle. The strange crimson cloud hovering above him had swelled in size since he had departed on his mission. Rumblings of thunder and flashes of red lightning became more frequent, and the shadowy features of a sinister face were more distinguishable within the terrifying storm.

“You’ve done well, my Heavenly King.” Beryl announced, standing from her throne behind the open sarcophagus. She extended her arms and beckoned for her powerful weapon to return to her. The staff flew out of the Shredder’s tight grip and back to its rightful place in her outstretched hands. Her appearance had also changed somewhat. Her skin appeared more tanned and youthful, her wild hair and nails had grown longer. She possessed an essence of pure beauty that snatched his attention. Long gone was the visage of her creepy emergence from the rune laden tomb. The rotten garments and decayed flesh were now a distant memory to the flawless woman standing before him in a form fitting purple dress adorned with gold and jewels. His desire for her increased tenfold, just like the size of the storm swirling overhead."Your results have surpassed my expectations. The Supreme Evil is quite pleased with you."

“My foot soldiers drained human energy, and I have disposed of three Sailor Senshi already.” Shredder gazed up at the ominous storm and raised his voice over the cackling of thunder and lightning. He took Sailor Mercury into both arms and dropped the unconscious guardian at the feet of the beautiful sorceress like a rag-doll. “And I’ve brought one here for you... just as you requested of me.”

“And yet you allowed Sailor Moon to escape?” Beryl’s voice became a bit more serious. “Do not underestimate the Sailor guardians. They will stop at nothing to protect that pathetic planet Earth.”

“She survived? Along with the turtle? Good! Let them bear witness to the destruction that is to come.” Shredder smirked. He glared at the purple dome of energy off to the side. The turtle with the red mask sat within the magical boundary, eyed him with disdain. “Those weak girls and the turtles will be no match for our combined might.”

“Indeed.” Beryl nodded. “Metalia has grown more powerful thanks to your efforts. But it’s not enough. There is still work to do. I require more human energy so I can finally unleash the Supreme Evil! “

“Preparations for my next attack phase are nearly complete.” Shredder confirmed.

“Good. I look forward to what you have in store for us.” Beryl smiled seductively. Her ruby red lips and pearly white teeth enticed the Shredder. He longed for her embrace and a passionate kiss until her words interrupted his thoughts, teasing him further. “I also have a couple of surprises planned for you.”

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Chapter 110

Sailor Mercury blinked her eyes open, only to find herself encased in a dome of magical energy radiating all around her like a force field. Every muscle in her body ached and her brain pounded within her skull, leaving her rattled in excruciating pain. Despite all of that, she was grateful to still be alive, for now at least. She did not expect to wake up from the spell of darkness cast over her by the man called Shredder. But where was she taken to?

She gazed outside of the electrical prison and found herself within the ruins of an immense palace. A boom of thunder followed by a flash of lightning caught her attention. She looked up instinctively where she found a tempest of red clouds circling over a gaping hole in the castle’s collapsed roof. It all looked so familiar.

“It’s not possible.” Mercury grunted in agony, inching her way towards the edge of the prison on her hands and knees. This harsh reality was far worse than any nightmare, perhaps more so than even death itself. She could never forget the sight of the ancient enemy that had nearly claimed the lives of the Sailor Senshi when they had first awoken to their past lives. She made a grab for the border, desperate to escape the enchanted barrier by any means necessary, until a reptilian snagged her wrist.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” Raphael stared at his new cellmate and expected her to scream in horror like most ignorant humans did when they first beheld him, but all she let out was a gasp. A look of relief even seemed to cross her face. “Unless you want about a million volts of electricity to surge through your body, then go on right ahead, miss. But I can tell you firsthand that it’s not a fun experience.”

Raphael remained captive within the small confines of his electrically charged jail cell for what felt like an eternity. Shredder had left for some time now to carry out the witch’s diabolical plan, leaving him alone to muddle in guilt within the walls of the empty palace. He wanted nothing more than to fight back against Shredder and his army of foot soldiers to stop whatever it was this vile sorceress was planning but all he could do was sit back and hope that his brothers could interpret his warning and put a stop to it before it was too late. The ever-increasing intensity of the storm above the palace’s gaping ceiling did not leave him feeling very optimistic. It took all of his strength to resist the rage and anger dwelling within. Whenever these thoughts surfaced, the essence of the crystal would awaken, racking his brains with painful memories of the past. Beryl was eager to break him down to where he would submit to her and that onyx crystal in her possession, but he could not allow it to happen.

“You are not like the others.” the dazed guardian realized that this specific creature wore a red mask over his eyes and had distinct features than the other two humanoids she had met earlier today. The tone of his voice sounded a bit more sarcastic than his more intelligent sibling with the bo staff and the silly one who swung nunchaku, who seemed to have a bizarre craving for pizza. She did not know who or what they were, but the presence of another of these strange beings gave her a sliver of hope that she may find a way out of here.

“Huh?” the turtle released the grip around the girl’s slender wrist."Are you talking about my brothers?"

“I first spotted a shelled reptilian humanoid making repairs to a disabled vehicle on the side of the road earlier this morning.“ Mercury explained after a brief introduction.

“Yup, that sounds like Donnie.” Raphael shook his head. “That hunk of junk must have broken down on him again.”

“I helped get the engine running.” Mercury continued. “Then I proceeded to the public library to study when a clan of ninjas attacked. “

“Damn Shredder.” Raphael swore under his breath. The library had a pair of iconic lion statues sitting outside of it. Thankfully, his brothers made use of the clues he provided to them. At least his sacrifice may have helped save some lives.

“That’s what they called him too.” Mercury nodded as the visage of the cloaked figure flashed in her mind’s eye. “Tell me more about this Shredder.”

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Chapter 111:

“The sleeping beauty has finally awoken.” A female voice interrupted the conversation between her two captives. “I had feared that you were too weak to recover.”

“Queen Beryl...” Mercury muttered the name in disbelief. Her enemy stood outside the enchanted prison completely reborn, wearing her signature dress with her long red hair flowing behind it.

“It’s already too late for you and the Sailor Senshi to stop me.” the witch raised her staff, gesturing its magnificent crystal to the clouds. “It is only a matter of time before I unleash the Supreme Evil Queen Metalia upon your world and ravage the land.”

“You won’t win.” Sailor Mercury stated firmly. “Sailor Moon will defeat you once again.”

“HAHAHA!” Beryl’s thunderous laugh bounced off the stone walls. “Even you know that is not possible. This onyx crystal can dispel all of your Senshi attacks, rendering them useless. My Heavenly King has already dealt with them!”

“Don’t listen to her.” Raphael commented.

“I offer you a choice, Sailor Mercury.” Beryl stared deep into the senshi’s blue eyes. “Swear your fealty to me and serve as one of my generals alongside my Heavenly King and your newfound friend over here, or perish!”

“Go to hell, lady!” Raphael spat. “There’s no way I’m serving you, and she won’t break to your will either.”

“My Raphael...” Beryl teased. “You have proven to be more resilient to the crystal’s power than I thought. But don’t worry... it is only a matter of time before you bend to my desires as well.”

“Kill me if you must.” a determined Mercury answered. “I will NEVER betray my friends.”

“Oh, really? Friends, hmm?” Beryl brandished her silver staff and pointed the glowing capstone at the Sailor Senshi. “I think otherwise.”

“Look out!” Raphael warned, but it was too late. Mercury’s unblinking eyes locked onto the crystal. Her muscles seized up, freezing her in place as its essence overwhelmed her.

“Ami Mizuno...” a deep voice thundered within her mind that paralyzed her with fear. “I know all about you... and your troubled life... Your father deserted your family at a young age... abandoning you… your mother… barely around… always putting work ahead of your needs… you were nothing but a nuisance to her... no friends… no family… that’s why you were alone... and will forever remain... awkward... worthless… inept… ALONE!”

“No!” Mercury grabbed her head with both hands. She tried to turn away from the crystal, but found that she could not do so. The onyx shard seemed to delve into her soul, bringing out her deepest insecurities. “I’ll always have...”

“The sailor guardians are not your friends...” the demonic voice inside her head continued, as if reading her thoughts. “They’ve only used you all these years for your intelligence. Helping them with their homework and to prepare for exams. They do not care for you. You have never truly fit in...”

“FIGHT AGAINST IT!” Raphael’s voice rang, but eventually faded away.

“AMI THE GENIOUS...” Rei’s condemning voice and visage appeared in her mind. “I AM DONE WITH YOU!”

“They all mock you behind your back...” the crystal thundered as the image of her four friends laughing at her expense floated into her mind’s eye. “You bury your head in books... not for your studies... but to hide....because you are an outcast to society. You will never experience friendship... or find true love...”

“Usagi...” tears streamed down Mercury’s cheeks from the emotional torment. She muttered her friend’s name as if praying for her to come to her rescue. Everything the demonic voice reverberated in her brain was true. They were the darkest fears she kept tucked away all these years. These insecurities partly led her to getting the last-minute flight tickets to New York, and it was proving to be the worst decision she had ever made in her life.

“That foolish girl only pities you.” the voice continued. “You have always been the weakest of the guardians... and a burden to Usagi for recruiting you... but I can strengthen you. Prove your worth by facing them in battle. Make Rei Hino SUFFER for what she said.”

“No... I don’t want revenge.” Mercury whimpered. “Please... Make it...Stop...”

“Both of you have one day left to decide...” Beryl lowered her staff. She faced her captives with a terrifying grin as she released the hold over the senshi. “Join me, or face your deaths.”

“AMI THE GENIOUS...” Rei’s sarcastic remark lingered inside Mercury’s head. She collapsed to the floor, sobbing from both the physical and emotional pain inflicted upon her. “IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT...”

Chapter Text

Chapter 112:

The traffic in midtown was an absolute nightmare. Rei sat in the passenger’s seat in silence, staring out of the window with her ruined cellphone cupped in her hands. The bright sun from this morning was long gone, blocked out by a blanket of grey clouds that stretched over the horizon. A small drizzle of rain turned into a heavy downpour. The dreary sky perfectly symbolized all that was going wrong today. She needed to talk to Usagi, but how was that possible with a broken phone? She had thrown her friends out of her hotel room and renounced herself as Sailor Senshi. They may not even want her help after how she treated them. But if her vision back in the meditation room was indeed coming to fruition, then Sailor Moon was in grave danger. She would not allow any harm to come to her dear friend.

“This is as far as we can go, I think.” April looked at her distraught intern as she squeezed the van into a tight spot between two other vehicles. Her sudden words snapped Rei out of her trance. “We are going to have to make it to the library on foot from here.”

The reporter leapt out of the car and hurried over to the trunk, where she retrieved her backup camera. The heavy rain drops drenched them completely before they made it to a concrete barrier blocking off 5th avenue from any further vehicle or pedestrian traffic. Rei stood there with a grim face and watched while April flashed her press credentials and bickered with officers to gain access to the crime scene. A sea of red lights and uniformed personnel made their way to and from the library as the rain continued to pound the top of her head. She took notice of the purple clad ninjas being dragged out of the iconic building and thrown into the back of police cruisers. Their presence only seemed to invigorate April further, but the officers would not relent until an irritated police chief waved her through.

“This is nearly identical to the attack on the ferry!” April commented to her protegee as rain pattered her yellow jumpsuit. Comatose victims were still being carted out of the library and loaded into ambulances. “I wonder what the foot clan is planning. We need to investigate this further.”

They hurried up the slick steps and through the main entrance, sneaking underneath lines of yellow police tape. What they saw before them made their jaws drop in horror. The grand chamber lay in utter ruins. Collapsed book cases, ripped tomes and shards of wood littered the once pristine marble floor. A fire burned through pieces of furniture and artwork, their ashes still smoldering while certain sections of the hall in the same vicinity remained frozen, covered with a thin layer of frost and puddles of water.

“Is that the lion statue?” April retrieved her camera and started filming, panning the lens from one side to the other to capture the ruination of the once marvelous library when she stumbled upon the sculpture. Getting this exclusive footage would definitely put her back in the CEO’s good graces. The ratings would be off the charts tonight once this hit the airwaves. “How did it end up in here?”

“Youma...” Rei muttered under her breath after she sensed a foul magic lingering over the lion.

“What’s that?”

“Oh, Nothing!”

“I wonder if there were any more sightings of mysterious girls.” April took some still shots with her cellphone. No officers patrolled this room, but that would not last for much longer. She had to take advantage of this opportunity before they got kicked out.

Rei followed her mentor, walking amongst the debris until a blue bookbag loaded with science and medical textbooks snagged her attention. Rei’s heart sank in her chest when she yanked it out of the rubble for a closer look. This backpack belonged to Ami Mizuno.

Chapter Text

Chapter 113:

“I have a favor to ask of you, Mamoru Chiba.” a frantic Yuuichirou spoke as he yanked random articles of clothing out of his closet, folding them up tightly before he crammed a bunch of shirts, pants, underwear and socks into a large duffle bag. He rummaged for important documents like his passport, phone charger and wallet before zipping up the crammed bag once satisfied that he had all the necessities for his intended course of action. The camera footage featuring his beloved had gone dark after a wall of water came crashing down on her, filling him with angst. A message flashed across the television screen stating that the station was experiencing technical difficulties and he did not have the patience to wait for an update with more information. He knew Rei could not swim very well. What if she got caught up in the waters and drowned? The very thought of losing her tore at his heart and he refused to sit idly by. He would fly across the world just to make sure she was unharmed and also to protect her from the criminal organization attacking the city.

“What is it?” Mamoru tried to keep up with the crazed priest as he slung the puffed up bag over his shoulder and hurried out of his dwelling and through the tori gate, scampering down the steps to the tree-lined path. “Wait up!”

“Take me to the airport.” the priest demanded when he made it to the lone vehicle remaining in the parking lot. Cicadas sang in the darkness of night as Mamoru stood in there in silence, gasping to catch his breath.

“The airport?” the perplexed Mamoru responded. “At this hour?”

“Yes, that’s right!” Yuuichirou’s eyes were wide underneath his shaggy head of brown hair."I must take the next available flight to New York to make sure she is okay! Rei needs me! You saw what happened to her!"

“Fine.” Mamoru sighed after seeing that he had no choice but to help this quirky young man after getting Usagi’s phone back. He unlocked the doors to his sports car by pressing the remote attached to his keys."But I think you are being a little irrational here."

“I’m sure Rei is fine.” Luna agreed. “But aren’t you curious why Sailor Moon and Venus were fighting atop that boat?”

“Are you certain it was them?” Mamoru asked. “They were hardly visible on the screen and I couldn’t tell for sure.

“BOY! You disrupted my sleep by making all that racket!” A raspy voice called out in the distance. The two men turned to see Rei’s short and stout grandfather racing down the stone steps with a lantern in one hand and wooden walking stick in the other. “Where are you going at this hour? There’s work to do in the morning, you no-good bum!”

“Ugh...Sorry!” Yuuichirou fumbled for words. The elderly bald man always scorned him, but he did not want to alarm the priest with the truth that his granddaughter may in fact be in grave danger. “I have to go out of town for a few days. Please look after things while I’m gone.”

“I did not grant you permission to go on a vacation!” the old man thrust his cane and shook it. The angry look on his wrinkled face suggested he couldn’t wait to smack the priest across the face with his wooden stick. “Wait until Rei hears about this! She’s going to be furious!”

“Let’s get out of here!” Yuuichirou scrambled into the passenger seat. The cats jumped on his lap as Mamoru started up the car. The old man chased after them on foot until the twinkling light of his lantern finally disappeared in the rearview mirror. Trees and brush of the serene temple grounds gave way to civilization as Mamoru turned onto a main road.

Chapter Text

Chapter 114:

Mamoru gripped his steering wheel and stepped on the gas, speeding down the empty streets. It was the middle of the night and he had to start the first day of his new job in only a few hours. He wouldn’t get any sleep at this rate, but the sooner he arrived at the airport and dumped off the obsessive priest, the better.

He did not speak to his companion sitting opposite of him and turned on the radio to break up the awkward silence. The song “search for your love” by the three lights was playing, so he turned up the volume. It was still a popular hit, even though the group disbanded around three years ago. This was one of Usagi’s favorite songs. She would play it all the time and sing the lyrics aloud, much to his annoyance. What he wouldn’t do to hear her voice again right now. He wondered if that really was his girlfriend fighting on top of the ferry. No, it couldn’t be. Usagi had not transformed into Sailor Moon for years. There were no more enemies threatening the earth that he knew of. Yuuichirou was over reacting and Rei would probably strangle him when he showed up to New York. The anxious priest was most likely feeling very insecure after Rei had interviewed that muscular military veteran. This was nothing more than an excuse for him to go to America and rush to her side. But what if the girls truly were in danger?

Mamoru glanced over at his companion while waiting for a red light traffic signal to turn green. The priest stared at his phone, trying to find an app where he could get access to Channel 6 News. Both of the curious cats sat on his lap, eagerly awaiting more information to pop up on the screen regarding the sudden attack in New York. He turned off the radio when a familiar English speaking voice sounded through the cell-phone’s speaker.

“MINAKO!” Artemis the cat screeched from atop Yuuichirou’s lap once he spotted his guardian appear on the screen, taking questions from a news reporter. They listened to her account, describing all that she had witnessed from the ninjas of the foot clan to a green monster and masked man who had come to their defense.

“Where is my Rei?” Yuuichirou complained.

“SHH!” Luna hissed. “I can’t hear!”

He zipped his mouth shut and listened to what Minako had to say until the reporter started questioning her about the sightings of two women fighting the foot clan on top of the ferry. The arrogant reporter accused the sailor senshi of being culprits of the attack and intentionally setting of the tsunami wave that fell upon the park, putting the lives of civilians in danger. Minako stood poised to respond until another familiar face intruded on the interview, shouting at the top of her lungs.

“USAGI!” Luna shouted as her human guardian popped into the picture, passionately defending the two mysterious women.

“HUH?” Mamoru swerved to his right, nearly losing control of the sports car as he stomped on the brakes. He grabbed the phone out of Yuuichirou’s hands once the tires screeched to a sudden halt. Usagi bumped into the reporter during her unexpected interruption. Everyone tumbled to the ground, knocking the camera off of its tripod.

Chapter Text

Chapter 115:

“Sailor Moon is in grave danger!” Luna spoke up. “This is not good!”

“What’s wrong?” Mamoru scratched the black fur under her chin after sensing that the feline was distraught after hearing Minako’s televised report.

“I’m sorry.” the cat pulled her head away. “But I’ve been hiding something from all of you.”

“Luna?” even her mate Artemis appeared confused.

“Ever since the team returned from college, I’ve had an uneasy feeling that a dormant evil has awoken somewhere in the galaxy.” Luna continued. “I warned Usagi not to go on this trip, but it wasn’t just because she borrowed your hard earned money.”

“Why didn’t you say anything sooner?” a frustrated Mamoru asked. “She would have listened to you!”

“I should have been more adamant and I regret that now.” Luna sighed. “But I did not want to upset Usagi further after her childish reaction to Rei’s internship. She would have demanded that Rei stay home for her protection if I told her the truth.”

“How could you!” Yuuichirou wailed. This cat could’ve saved him a lot of heartache had she spoken up! He knew that his beloved would put her ambitions on hold for the sake of her best friend. She was a loyal sailor guardian foremost!

“This uneasy feeling has become more intense recently. I did not want to believe it at first, but after watching Minako’s interview, I can’t deny my suspicions any longer. A dangerous enemy has appeared in New York and is stealing energy. The girls are in trouble if we don’t do our best to help them.”

“I KNEW IT!” Yuuichirou nearly jumped out of his seat. “We have to fly to New York City and rescue them!”

“We?” a stunned Mamoru muttered.

“Yes, we!” Yuuichirou’s eyes beamed. “By that I mean, me, you, the cats, all of us! Right now!”

“That’s impossible.” Mamoru shook his head, unable to process all that was happening. “A ticket last minute like this would cost a small fortune, and I’m broke right now. Besides, I am starting a new job in the morning.”

“Usagi and her friends bought tickets last minute, didn’t they? If they did it, then so can we.” the intense priest’s face stared deep into Mamoru. “And how can you put a price on love? You can always find another job and crawl your way out of debt, but you will never find another Usagi. You heard the cats. Our women are in danger. None of your petty excuses should matter if you truly care for your partner the way I adore my Rei. Do you even still love her? It doesn’t sound like it to me!”

The sudden accusation took Mamoru aback. Part of him wanted to strangle the priest for his audacity. Instead, he grabbed the stick and violently shifted the car back into drive. The tires screeched on the pavement, leaving black skid marks in their wake as he pulled off a u-turn and sped off in the opposite direction.

“Where are you going?” Artemis dug his claws into the seat for balance.

“Back to my apartment.” the driver stated. “So I can get my passport.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 116:

Donatello and Michelangelo scrambled away unnoticed before the grand hall of the New York Public Library became swarmed by police and other first responders. They leapt out of an open window, where they found an entrance to the sewers and quickly removed the cap before disappearing into the underground labyrinth with the unconscious female in tow. Donatello peered down at the athletic girl cradled in his arms, wondering who exactly these girls were and how they got caught up in this mess. Had Shredder made an unholy alliance with one of their enemies?

    His feet splashed in the grimy waters of the tunnel as he raced back to the hideout. He felt incredibly guilty about letting the girl in blue get captured by Shredder, especially after she helped him fix the turtle van earlier. The intelligent engineer had looked like your average college-aged tourist but had transformed out of her regular clothing and into a sailor suit, wielding magical attacks that helped him and his brother escape with their lives. In the end, he had failed to protect her. The least he could do was rescue her friend.

 He worried it would upset Leonardo when he brought the girl back to their lair, but he could not just leave her behind after failing to defeat Shredder. They now had a common goal. Both parties had companions that were taken hostage by Shredder. It only made logical sense that they joined forces, but he doubted his brother would approve of this plan.

Donatello entered the dark hideout and was shocked to find that his brother was already in their lair, kneeling beside their sickly master by the soft glow of candlelight. Casey Jones placed a reassuring hand on the grieving turtle’s shell, giving a pat on his hard exterior in support. His heart sank at the very sight of their weakened sensei. Were they too late?

“He’s still alive, but the fever is worsening.” Leonardo spoke after sensing that his brothers just returned home. He pressed a hot towel against the rat’s hairy forehead without turning to face them. “Were you two successful?”

“Nah, bro.” Mikey shook his head. “That darned Shred-head got away from us and we almost had our shells fried and frozen like an old burrito in the microwave.”

“I would’ve stopped him on the ferry.” Leonardo squeezed the rat’s furry hand. “But these bumbling blondes got in my way.”

“Were they dressed up in a Japanese sailor uniform like this one here?” Donatello carried Jupiter over to another cot and placed the unconscious fighter on the springy mattress next to Splinter.

“You encountered more of them?” Leonardo turned away from Splinter. She was much taller than the other two he had met on the ferry, with long brown hair pulled back in a ponytail. “Why did you bring her into our hideout?”

“Yeah! A nerdy chick dressed in blue fought with us, spraying bubbles everywhere! It was awesome!” Michelangelo responded. “They are good guys, like us!”

“Shredder owns a magical staff that nullifies their abilities.” Donny added. “But we would be turtle soup if it wasn’t for these girls. Shredder took her companion hostage and escaped. I didn’t know what else to do.”

“It was honorable of you to save her.” Leonardo nodded in gratitude. “Taken care of her, but escort her out of here once she awakens.”

“Wait, she may be able to help us.” Donatello argued. “Perhaps she and her companions know more about this mysterious ally Shredder has made.”

“No, they will just be a nuisance.” Leo shook his head. “Shredder’s new toy renders them useless. He is planning something big and its only a matter of time before he strikes again. Only now we don’t even know where his next target is located.”

“We wouldn’t have gotten out of that library alive if it wasn’t for their help.” Donatello continued. “Maybe we don’t need their assistance in battle, but I am in their debt. We must do all we can to help rescue their friend, in addition to Raphael. Isn’t that the honorable thing to do, after all?”

“So can we keep her?” Mikey asked with a grin.

“Fine.” an irritable Leonardo sighed. Was he so lost without his sensei that his brother had to lecture him about honor? “You are right. Maybe they can be of some use to us.”

“What should we do for now?” Donatello asked his leader.

“I’ll order us a pizza!” Michelangelo jumped in delight despite all of his aches and bruises from the skirmish in the library. “We need to refuel.”

“Give April a call.” Leonardo ordered. “Tell her to come here right away.”

“April?” Casey made a terrified grimace, as if he had seen a ghost. He grabbed his golf bag containing his various sporting goods and made his way towards the tunnel. “I better get out of here then. She’s still pissed at me!”

“Where are you going?” Leonardo asked. “We will need your help in this fight!”

“I’ll be there with you guys when Shredder strikes again.” Jones confirmed. “But for now, I think I’ll go take batting practice on some street punks to prepare myself for the big game.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 117:

The sun was setting as April drove the news van back to the base. The rainstorm had passed and the remaining sunlight peaked through the clouds and towering buildings, leaving the sky with a beautiful pink hue. It had been a long and arduous day out in the field, providing coverage for not one but two attacks on the public carried out by the foot-clan. Rei had hardly spoken to her mentor after finding her friend’s backpack amongst the ruins in the library, but April was too wrapped up in her work to notice that her intern was distraught.

“Wait, a minute!” an alarmed April spoke into a peculiar device that looked like a cell phone but had a casing that looked like a turtle shell. “You mean to tell me you have one of them in the hideout with you right now?”

Rei stared at her mentor, wondering who she was talking to on the other line of that strange contraption, but was too upset about her unsettling discovery in the ruined grand hall to ask questions. Her mind was plaguing her with guilt, running through all the possibilities of what might have befallen her friend. Ami must have gone to the library to be alone for a while after the quarrel earlier this morning. She wished her phone was still working so that she could easily call to checkup on her and apologize. Hopefully Ami got away and escaped to some place safe, but she doubted that was the case. She would never forgive herself if Ami had fallen victim to the enemy. Now she had no way to contact any of her friends and let them know what happened. Part of her was ashamed to even face them again.

“I’ll head right over as soon as I get let out of work.” an excited April continued her conversation with the stranger on the other line. “Don’t let her go anywhere if she wakes up! I have so many questions I need to ask.”

The outdated station was in a frenzy by the time they made it back to headquarters. The C.E.O. Mr. Thompson sat in his crowded office talking to his staff and debriefing on their latest reports. 

“They have to be talking about the library.” April smiled at her silent intern. “That footage we captured was incredible! We will get back in his good graces. Excellent work today.”

“That’s great.” Rei replied with little enthusiasm. She could barely lift her chin up. The events of the hectic day had taken its toll. It was a struggle for her to contain her emotions and took a lot of restraint to resist the urge to quit this stupid internship right there on the spot. Her selfish ambitions had led to her ruining her friendships with her rude outburst. If only she had listened to Yuuichirou and just stayed at the shrine with him for the rest of the summer until the next semester began. She fought back tears at the thought of the serene temple thousands of miles away and the apprentice that adored her. He was still there waiting patiently for her to return, but she did not deserve his love just as he did not deserve friendship from Usagi and the rest. Why does she always push away those that care for her?  

“Our ratings are through the roof!” Burne clapped his hands together as April entered the office with her sluggish intern by her side.

“That video recording of the library was incredible, wasn’t it!” April said, only to notice that Burne was talking to her smug coworker Vern, who was leaning against the wall with a grin on his face.

“It was a hell of an interview if I must say so myself.” Fenwick stepped between the two women to gloat about his successful news coverage.

“Who was that blonde bombshell you found?” Burne asked as he pointed a remote at one of the flatscreen televisions behind his heightened swivel chair and pushed a couple of buttons. “The video of her singing and dancing with you has gone viral on social media!”

“Oh, her?” Fenwick chuckled as the blonde in question appeared on screen. “Actually, I believe she is one of Ms. Hino’s unruly friends.”

“Minako...” Rei muttered her friend’s name in disbelief. There she was on camera wearing an “I <3 NY” t-shirt looking as beautiful as ever. When she had interviewed the veteran at the chess tournament, she had felt that her performance was too stiff, yet Minako made it look so easy. The flawless blonde had a natural talent for being on television that she clearly did not possess.

“Now that’s Channel 6 material.” Burne pointed at the video screen before turning to face his Japanese intern. “Is it true that you know this girl?”

“Yes.” Rei nodded, failing to prevent her cheeks from flushing red with jealousy.

“Tell her to come down to the office when you see her.” Burne ordered. “Maybe we can bring her aboard since I am already providing her with free room and board. You are done for the day, young lady, unless you want to stay and finish cleaning the men’s room.”

      Rei tightened her hands into tight fists but said nothing as she turned away and pushed past April and back towards the elevator. Vern laughed while the disgusted intern stormed out of the conference room. Irma nearly spilled her cup of coffee as the fuming girl came down the narrow hallway.

“You are a big jerk!” April slapped her palm across Fenwick’s face, instantly silencing his laughter.

“This is what I get for having an eye for talent?” the reporter cupped his cheek. “How dare you?”

“That’s enough, April!” Burne rose from his chair. “You are here-by suspended indefinitely without pay!”

“This is what you do?” April defied her CEO. “Reward and promote people who try to turn two innocent friends against one another? Its despicable!”

“You assaulted me in front of our superior.” Fenwick lashed back. “You are lucky I’m not pressing charges. I could sue you for everything you are worth.”

“Can it, you worm!” April faced her boss. “It’s one thing to punish me for my false report about the Technodrome, and ignore the footage I risked arrest to provide for this network, but it is totally unacceptable for you to torment my intern like this. I’ve put up with a lot of crap with this unprofessional company but I ignored it for all these years because I love what I do and I wouldn’t trade it in for anything in the world! But I’ll be damned if I go another day working under such corrupt management.”

“You are creating a very hostile work environment with these baseless accusations.” Fenwick commented.

 “You can take your suspension and shove it because I QUIT!” April ignored her coworker and stared directly at her stunned CEO. “Ms. Hino and I will investigate the appearance of those magical girls. We will be there when the foot-clan strikes again with a camera in hand and sell our footage to a competing network. Maybe another station will appreciate our efforts.”

“Wait just a minute, April!” a sweaty Burne jumped out of his chair and followed the yellow clad woman out into the hallway. “This is a big misunderstanding. Let’s talk this out.”

“Later, fatso!” April slammed the button for the elevator.

“This is all your fault!” Burnes stomped back into his office and grabbed the collar of Fenwick’s pink dress shirt. “I can’t afford to lose her to another network! She may be unruly, but she gets me big ratings!”

“I apologize, sir.” Fenwick pleaded. “I’ll chat with April and straighten this out. Please don’t demote me. What will I tell mother when she doesn’t see her handsome son on the next afternoon broadcast?”

“You better fix this mess or you can kiss that promotion goodbye!” Mr. Thompson pulled his reporter closer so that they were nose to nose. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 118:

“Why won’t they answer!” a frantic Usagi buried her face into her palms. They had been trying to reach out to their missing friends ever since Minako’s concert concluded, but could not get a hold of them. Minako checked her phone and came across a newsflash detailing the attack on the New York Public Library. They raced to the nearest subway station and took a train back to Times Square, rushing through hordes of people on the busy city sidewalks until they got close to the iconic building. Police had a large section of the street blocked off with barricades while they conducted their investigation and arrested members of the foot-clan. Usagi could see the same ninjas being taken away in cuffs, but officers would not allow her to get any closer to the scene of the crime. Sirens blared as an ambulance rushed casualties to the hospital.

“AMI! MAKO!” Usagi shouted. What if those ninjas drained their energy along with the rest of these poor victims? She should have been there to protect her companions. Instead, they had done nothing but bicker with one another since this trip began. Why couldn’t they have all remained together and gotten along like old times? Their bond of friendship felt irrevocably broken. Maybe Mamoru was right. Things had changed and would never go back to the way they once were, no matter how hard she wished them to. Instead of accepting fate, she clung on to her memories of the past, following Rei to New York, hoping to revive their once inseparable relationship. That decision had proven to be very costly. Mamoru would never take her back. Rei had renounced herself as senshi and now Ami and Makoto may have fallen to an ancient enemy.

“Don’t worry.” Minako sensed her friend’s hopelessness. "We will find them and everything will be okay. Then we can go get some pizza!"

“What if Queen Beryl or Shredder got to them?” Usagi stuttered. Not even the thought of sweets or junk food would cheer her up.

“Don’t jump to conclusions.” Minako reassured. She tried her best to remain optimistic about their situation, but even she was fearing the worst with this new enemy on the loose. The police weren’t letting them get any closer, so there was no need to hang around the library. “But we can’t just stay here.”

“You are right.” Usagi wiped away her tears. She needed to stay strong, even though a large part of her wanted to curl into a ball and cry. “Rei needs to know what happened! Let’s see if we can find her at her office! I know she will help us!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 119:

It was dark out by the time they made it to the Channel 6 News Headquarters. The street lamps blinked on, lighting the pedestrian walkway outside the office building with an orange glow. Rei was still not answering her phone, so they had no choice but to stand there and wait for her. They faced the revolving doors, eagerly awaiting their friend to appear until an excited young man pointed at the two blondes.

“Hey look!” he shouted to his buddy, while he pointed to one of the large panoramic screens attached to the side of an adjacent building. “It’s the beautiful dancer from that viral video! Can I get a selfie with you?”

Minako’s jaw dropped when she turned her head, only to see herself singing on the big screen. Before she knew it, one fan turned to two, two became ten, ten became fifty people all rushing to get a glimpse of the blonde from the ferry interview. She made the peace sign with her hand and posed for a few pictures, but the surrounding crowd had grown so big that she could no longer see the entrance to the Channel 6 building.

“Hey, I was in the video too!” Usagi tried to stay close to her glamorous friend who was loving every second of the attention she was getting. None of the fans were interested in her, even though she had provided comic relief to the serious news story. They inevitably got separated and a rude New Yorker shoved Usagi aside, trying to snap a picture of the new celebrity.

“Owww.” Usagi scraped her knees on the rough pavement, but when she looked up from the cement, she spotted Rei emerging from the revolving doors, her eyes fixated on Minako.

“Rei!” Usagi ignored the pain and pushed herself to her feet. She raced over to Rei but cautiously kept her distance and did not give her a hug, despite the tremendous relief of finally reuniting with her friend. She did not know how Rei would react to her presence and found herself at a loss for words, fearful that Rei was still angry with her.

“Usagi?” Rei turned away from Minako and dipped her head low, staring down at Usagi’s feet in shame. The exhausted intern had left work fearing that she would have no other option but to retreat to the Sunset Inn with no method of contacting Yuuichirou or the others, forced to spend the rest of the evening alone to ruminate on all of her failures. She never expected Usagi and Minako to show up here after their altercation this morning. They must have come because they could not find Ami. It would be very tough to break the news of her unsettling discovery in the library. The over-emotional Usagi would not take it very well. “I saw you fighting on top of the ferry. I was worried about you all day until I saw the viral video just now.”

“Minako is a celebrity now it seems.” Usagi giggled awkwardly. She could tell by the way she was staring at Minako that she was jealous of her immediate success. “Why didn’t you answer your phone? We tried calling you a million times. Are you still angry with us?”

“It won’t turn on.” Rei tried her best not to appear irritated. “I got caught up in that tsunami wave that hit Battery Park and my phone was destroyed when I got submerged in that filthy water.”

“Oh, sorry! That was us.” Usagi chuckled awkwardly. “We had no choice.”

“I know. I saw what you did. It must have been terrifying for you to make a split second decision like that.” Rei shook her head. “You saved many lives by preventing that boat from crashing into the dock. Mine included!”

“I need to tell you something very important, but first I have to apologize.” Usagi ignored the praise and lowered her gaze down to her shoes. “You were right about everything you said about me earlier today. I am just an immature scatterbrain and I admit I screwed up badly. I’m truly sorry for all the trouble that I’ve caused you by tagging along. I should have never brought up the crazy idea of coming here in the first place. I know how hard you worked all semester, and I feel terrible for causing you so many problems. Your friendship means the world to me. That’s why I wanted to come with you. I couldn’t bear the thought of losing you, and I worried you’d stay in New York and forget about me. Please find it in your heart to forgive me for my stupidity. I promise I’ll change and grow up and act more mature from now on! I’ll give you all the time and space you need. Just please.. PLEASE... find it in your heart to be my friend again. “

“There is no need to apologize to me.” Rei interrupted, silencing her friend by placing a comforting hand on Usagi’s shoulder. The desperate pleading had only filled her with more guilt and regret. Coming to the channel 6 building and waiting outside to apologize was incredibly brave of her. It showed just how loving a person Usagi was. Truth was that she had grown and matured a lot over the years and this act of selflessness proved it. Usagi knew well enough how stubborn she was and was willing to shoulder all the blame for her inexcusable conduct. It was her that needed to grow up, not Usagi. “I am the one who needs to seek forgiveness. My behavior was unacceptable. The way I treated you... and Ami... I nearly punched Makoto... I even went as far as renouncing myself as your guardian. How can any of you even bare look at me again? I am a disgrace to the Sailor Team.”

“I know you didn’t mean any of those nasty things you said. We’ve had so many fights over the years, but you were always there for me in good times and in bad.” she lifted Rei’s chin so their eyes could meet. She had never seen her stoic friend so visibly upset. Was she hiding something? “And I know you would never give up on being my guardian, no matter what silly things I do.”

“I don’t deserve your forgiveness.” Rei broke away. “I’m not worthy of it.... Ami... she....”

“Have you seen her? Ami and Makoto are both missing!” Usagi’s face lit up with hope. “We hoped that you may have heard from them.”

“No, I haven’t.” Rei shook her head in shame, unable to break the news about her discovery in the library.

“Then we desperately need your help!” The terrible news had shattered Usagi’s heart, but she refused to give up hope. “Queen Beryl has returned. She is using the foot-clan and their leader to gather human energy in order to summon Metalia once again. I will not allow it! Help us defeat her and find Ami!”

“I fear that the world will soon end.” Rei trembled. “I’ve seen how it will all transpire. I was too foolish to heed the warning.”

“What are you talking about?” Usagi’s eyes widened.

“I had a terrible vision the night before we traveled to New York City.” Rei continued. “Youma flooded the streets as Metalia swept over New York City. You were there fighting against a giant warrior... but it defeated you in battle... I tried to help... but Beryl put an end to my life before I could get to you.”

“Why didn’t you say anything!” Usagi jumped in fright. Her heart pounded in her chest at the thought of her untimely demise. Was it truly too late for them to stop Metalia? If not, then she would never get the chance to lay her eyes upon her handsome boyfriend ever again. She could not pour her heart out to him and express how deeply sorry she was for hurting him. All she wanted was to be wrapped in his arms and share one last kiss, but it was impossible.

“I thought the vision was a product of my fever. Just a terrible nightmare. I was so focused on coming here for this stupid internship that I overlooked my sworn duty to protect you.” She shook her in shame. “I never in a million years thought we would have to face Queen Beryl again. We defeated her. How could she return? I should have warned everyone. We will all die because of my negligence.”

“Not yet.” Usagi implored. Defeating Beryl without the help of Ami and Makoto felt like an impossible mission. Not only would two of her best friends be unable to provide her with the support and encouragement she needed to take on such a wicked foe, but they were substantially weaker and without the ability to use a combined attack. “I made a couple of friends who could help us.”

“Friends?” Rei wondered.

“We fought alongside this masked vigilante and a green youma on top of the ferry.” Usagi refused to be pessimistic, despite the dour odds the three remaining senshi faced. She would defeat her enemies by any means necessary. If only she could locate the ugly green monster and convince him to join their cause.

“A green youma?”

“Wait no, not a youma.” Usagi thought for a second as she recalled the near fatal battle on top of the orange ferry’s roof. “I think he called himself a ninja turtle if I’m not mistaken.”

“Ninja... turtle... You know, prior to accepting this internship, I noticed that many of April O’Neil’s reports mentioned sightings of a group of four mutated turtles. They fought against the leader of the foot-clan, a man who went by the name of Shredder and stopped him from taking over this city. I hardly believed that they would really exist.”

“Maybe April can help us!” the very thought of it gave Usagi a glimmer of hope.

“It is possible that she is hiding something.” Rei considered carefully. “She was having a strange conversation on this weird communicative device that looked like a turtle shell earlier today now that I think of it.”

“A turtle's shell!” Usagi beamed with excitement. “Really? What else did she say?”

“I wasn’t paying much attention. I couldn’t stop worrying about Ami.” Rei admitted. “I think she said she would be going somewhere right after work.”

“She is probably going to see the turtles!” Usagi perked up. “Where is she? Did she leave yet?”

“We don’t know that for sure.” Rei tried to get her friend to calm down a bit. She still could not fathom that these so-called ninja turtles even existed. Perhaps they really were youma or some other cursed beast. Could they really be trusted? She did not want to place Usagi in anymore danger than she was already in with Beryl’s return.

“We have to find these turtles. Maybe they can help us find Ami and Makoto.” Usagi begged, grasping Rei’s hands into her own. Usagi could not keep up on her false front of confidence any longer. “Please...I... I... don’t know what else we can do. Will you please help me search for them?”

“Of course I will.” Rei nodded firmly. “I’ll always be your guardian.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 120

“Look! There she is!” Rei interrupted once when she spotted April O’Neil in her noticeable yellow jumpsuit pushing on the revolving doors as she made her way out of the Channel 6 News building with a look of disgust. She held the turtle-shell device up to her ear and her way down the congested sidewalk while carrying on a conversation with whoever was on the other end of that strange device. “We need to follow her closely and see exactly where she is going. I think she will lead us straight to those so-called turtles if we track her.”

“Why not just approach her now?” Usagi asked. “Surely she will understand why we want to see them. Let’s explain everything to her.”

“No, I don’t think that’s smart.” Rei said as she followed her mentor down the busy streets."She may deny that she has any knowledge of the turtles’ whereabouts. And it would require us to reveal our identities as Sailor Senshi. I’m not sure I want her to know about us just yet."

“WAIT! What about MINAKO? MINAKO!!!” Usagi froze in place and shouted her friend’s name in desperation. She turned around only to see that the crowd surrounding her suddenly famous friend had grown even larger. The boisterous fans drowned her high-pitched shouts out. There was no way that Minako could hear or even see them in all this mayhem. Once again, Usagi was torn between two of her friends. She did not wish to get separated from Minako, but there was no other option at the moment. April was getting away and Rei was chasing after her. If she did not follow them, then her hope of getting the turtle’s help would be lost. She took one last look at the swarm of fans surrounding her beautiful companion before bolting after Rei. “Minako....I’m sorry....”

Usagi’s pigtails soared behind her head as she shuffled down the busy sidewalk. She had lost sight of Rei and could not locate her or the yellow clad woman they were shadowing. Her heart pounded in her chest as she came to a halt at a red light. Tall buildings and bright lights very similar to those back home surrounded her, but this place still seemed so different and foreign to her. People brushed past her once the pedestrian signal lit up. Usagi crossed the street and wandered aimlessly until she finally spotted her friend hiding behind a dumpster near a narrow alleyway.

“Rei!” Usagi shouted in relief. “I thought I lost you...”

“SHH!” Rei held her finger against her lips to silence her friend. She grabbed Usagi’s arm with her free hand and pulled her down beside her with their backs pressed up against the siding of the metal trash bin. They peered over the top, only to see April O’Neil staring cautiously in their direction. The girls ducked and held their breath for a moment, fearful that they had been spotted, but when they peeked back over, they saw the news reporter placing the shell device back into one of her pockets.

“What is she doing?” Usagi asked as they watched the woman remove a sewer cap in the middle of the dank alleyway.

“Looks like she’s heading down into the sewers.” Rei commented as the reporter climbed down the hole and pulled the metal lid back in place for disappearing into the underground depths.

“Let’s go!” an enthusiastic Usagi darted from behind their cover and hurried over to the sewer entrance. Rei followed, but grimaced at the thought of following her mentor in such a disgusting place. “Give me a hand with this!”

Usagi grabbed at the sewer cap, but it proved to weigh far heavier than she expected. Her fingers slipped off the smooth, rounded edge, and she fell onto her butt with a thud. Rei couldn’t help but let out a laugh, but she herself soon realized that the lid seemed immovable when she gave it a try.

“It’s no use.” Rei sighed. “This thing won’t budge. How did April get this open?”

“We can’t give up.” Usagi crawled back over to the manhole cover. “Let’s try again!”

They placed their hands on the cover together and grunted from exertion until the cap finally slid a few inches. Rei and Usagi collapsed to floor and gasped to catch their breath as stream rose from the opening.

Chapter Text

Chapter 121:

“USAGI?” Minako called her friend’s name but could not spot her anywhere among the crowd of boys swarming around her. Sure, it was exhilarating to receive all of this fanfare, but her friends meant more to her than any of the fame she achieved. They had come here to find Rei so that they could look for their missing friends and defeat Queen Beryl and this new ally of hers. Nothing else mattered.

“EXCUSE ME!” A man’s voice sounded as he pushed his way through to her position. Could it be that the masked man from earlier was here to save her from this madness? Maybe he could help them find Ami. A familiar face appeared out of the crowd, but it was not the handsome vigilante she had hoped for. Instead, it was the reporter wearing the pink shirt with the slicked black hair. “What a pleasant surprise to run into you again. Come with me.”

“USAGI!” Minako shouted as the man pulled her through the crowd and into the Channel 6 News building. He ordered security to block the entrance to prevent fans from chasing after them. Minako frantically looked around but could not seem to locate Usagi or Rei. She turned to face the reporter with a scowl. “What is this about? Where is Rei?”

“Oh, she left for the day a few minutes ago.” Fenwick answered. “Who cares about her anyway? You are the star everyone wants to see. Not her!”

“I care!” Minako broke free of the reporter and raced to the revolving doors, but security stepped in to prevent her escape. “Let me go, I have to find my friends.”

“You can catch up with them later at the Sunset Inn where you have been staying without permission.” Fenwick approached the young lady. He was desperate to get back into his boss’s good graces. April had gotten away before he had a chance to talk, but he could always deal with her later. A golden-haired prize had fallen right into his lap. Mr. Thompson would be thrilled once he brought her into his office. He may even give him another promotion! “Our Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Burne Thompson, has seen our wonderful interview and is very impressed with your performance. He’d love to speak with you for just a few brief minutes.”

“Sorry.” Minako shook her head. “Maybe some other time. I can’t...”

“Please forgive my brashness.” the grown man dropped to his knees and grabbed both of her hands into his own. “I’m not a bad guy, really. I’m just trying to make it in this business. The boss sees star potential in you. Look at that crowd you drew from just one viral video. Hear me out for a few minutes. PLEASE.”

“Okay.” Minako sighed. Usagi and Rei couldn’t have gone very far. They were probably looking for her and didn’t realize she had been taken away. Eventually, they would find out she was brought into the Channel 6 News building. She could entertain these people for a few minutes and then catch up with them afterward. Hopefully, Usagi would get Rei to agree to help them. She fully believed that the hothead would calm down when they told her about Queen’s Beryl returned. But what would she do if she found out she was meeting with the Channel 6 News CEO? Rei will be furious if she heard about this!

“Fantastic!” Fenwick grinned as he escorted the girl to the elevator. “Follow me this way.”

He pushed the up arrow button and golden doors immediately opened up. They got into the bank and he took her up to one of the top floors. He walked her passed a nerdy receptionist who was typing away on a computer from behind her desk and into the conference room where Mr. Thompson sat, leaning on a swivel chair with his feet on the table staring at the monitor of one of their live reports that were providing the latest updates regarding the recent attacks.

“Did you patch things up with April?” The CEO kept his eyes locked on the monitor, not even bothering to turn and face his newly promoted anchor.

“No, sir.” Fenwick replied as he ushered Minako into the office. “There was a large commotion outside our building. You should’ve seen it! Look who I found!”

“It’s you!” Burne nearly fell out of his chair when he spotted the blonde from the viral video standing before him. She forced an awkward smile and gave him a quick wave with one of her hands. “The girl that drew us MEGA ratings today! What’s your name, missy?”

“Minako Aino.” She smiled.

“You have an incredible talent, Minako. That interview was very entertaining despite the magnitude of the situation.” the portly CEO commented. “You are a natural!”

“Thank you.” She nodded. “It’s my dream to be a famous idol someday. I love to sing and dance under the bright lights, so I cherish every opportunity to get some exposure.” 

“I can help make that happen.” Mr. Thompson grinned. “We have a few vacancies in our internship program. How would you like to sign on with us? You can shadow Vern alongside his other intern. What was her name again?”

“Freida.” Fenwick replied.

“Oh, yeah...” Burne shrugged.

“I appreciate the kind and generous offer, but I must decline.” Minako searched for an excuse. “You see, my grades are subpar. My academic and disciplinary records would not impress you. I even have an active order of protection against me. It may have turned into a warrant by now.”

“Meh, even more of a reason to stay here and not go back to Japan!“ the CEO grumbled. “I don’t give a crap about grades. These new interns all have good academic qualifications and letters of recommendation from their snobby professors, but not an ounce of charisma among them. I want TALENT! That’s what drives up ratings.”

“I can’t.” Minako appreciated how much they wanted to recruit her. It was an amazing opportunity for her, considering how terrible her first year of college had gone, but taking the internship would only anger Rei further. Their friendship was already on the brink, but if she was to take this offer, it would be like stabbing her uptight friend in the back. Rei had studied and worked diligently to get here, unlike her. “You see my friend...”

“I know, I know.” Burned grimaced. “I heard our troublesome Rei Hino is your buddy. She nearly lost it when she saw you on the big screen. Forget about that insubordinate brat. She’s as stiff as a board on camera. This job ain’t for her.”

“You can forget it!” Minako shouted. “I want no part of this place if that’s how you value Rei.”

“I think you should reconsider, young lady.” Fenwick interjected. “This company can make all your dreams of stardom come true. Who knows, maybe you will be a famous anchor just like me someday if you are lucky.”

“I may never become an idol. But if I do, I will earn it myself... the right way, just like Rei.” Minako defied the two men. “I refuse to step over my friends to get to the top of the mountain. They are more important to me than my silly dreams.”

“Hummph...” Burne grumbled. “She’s that significant to you, huh?”

“Yes.” Minako nodded with confidence. “So I’m sorry, but I can’t accept this position. Thank you for the offer.”

“Well, if you care about her, then I suggest you take the job.” Burne grinned. “Because if you don’t... Rei is as good as GONE.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 122:

Mamoru searched his pockets until he finally found the keys to his apartment. He opened the door and stepped into the dark apartment. It was just past midnight and the housing complex was completely silent except for his idling vehicle parked just outside where Yuuichirou and the cats were waiting. He turned on a light and walked into his bedroom. The plain suit and tie that he had picked out for his first day at his new job was hanging on the back of his door. He stared at it for a moment, knowing that he would not be needing it anymore after learning that Usagi was potentially in danger. Nothing mattered more than her safety, and if Queen Beryl or some other enemy were really behind those awful attacks in New York, then he would do whatever it took to protect the girl he loved. It still pained him to miss his first day at work. He would inform the company of his sudden departure in the morning, but they would most likely fire him on the spot when he explained his absence. All that time he wasted going on multiple interviews had finally paid off, and now his reward would get taken away in one fell swoop because of these unforeseen circumstances. Who knows how much longer it would take to find another job with decent pay and benefits. He could never get that expensive ring for Usagi, let alone afford the grand wedding she always wanted. That is, if she still wanted any of those things after their fight on the day of her departure.

   A loud honk of a car horn sounded from outside the building, blasting the silent complex with its irritating alarm and waking residents who were fast asleep inside their dwellings. Mamoru peered out of his window and spotted the anxious Yuuichirou reaching over to driver’s side of the red sports car to push the button on the center of the steering wheel. Mamoru scowled in frustration and closed the blinds to block the annoying priest out of sight and mind. He walked over to his closet and pulled out a small suitcase buried in the back before filling it with various necessities he would require for a quick trip. Once satisfied, he zipped the bag up and pulled on its handle, dragging the suitcase towards the door.

“Are you sure you aren’t forgetting something important?” Luna the cat spoke. He had not seen her and nearly trampled over the poor cat.

“Huh?” Mamoru watched as the black feline darted into his bedroom and returned with a white mask in her mouth, dropping it at his feet.

“Your tuxedo!“ the cat reminded with a hint of annoyance.

“Oh, right.” Mamoru bent down and scooped up the mask. He was tired and still unable to process the fact that he was going to fly to New York, but how could he nearly forget his tuxedo.

“Sailor Moon needs you.” the troubled cat spoke.

“I know.” He made his way over to the closet and dusted off the outfit he wore on many an occasion to save his damsel in distress. It felt like an eternity since he had last wore it, and he hoped the tailored suit still fit. He smoothed out the wrinkly fabric of his cape, recalling his misadventures assisting the Sailor Team against the many adversaries they had faced over the years. The passion he had felt toward Usagi was unmatched back then, after saving her from utter demise. He would do anything, even give his own life, to protect her back then. Usagi’s feelings toward him had never changed after defeating Galaxia, even though he continued to study abroad against her wishes. She loved him unconditionally no matter where he was, writing him letters and sending text messages every day. Usagi had never lost faith in him. But something had changed within him during his time spent away from her, and he realized it now as he nearly folded his tuxedo and placed it into his suitcase.

Getting a high-paying job had consumed him so much lately that he had forgotten what was most important. He had been cold toward Usagi, not reciprocating the amount of love she gave him. A shadow of doubt crept into his mind. Maybe Yuuichirou was right when he accused him of no longer loving Usagi. His actions and behavior towards his girlfriend showed that maybe the priest was on to something after all. What a fool he had been. Of course, he still loved her, but now it was time for him to show it.

Chapter Text

Chapter 123:

A plume of steam rose out of the gutter, accompanied by a foul odor that assailed their nostrils. Usagi and Rei covered their mouths. They stared at each other with widened eyes at the sudden realization that they would have to descend into the depths of a dark and disgusting sewer system.

“I’m not going down there!” Rei choked as she spoke, trying to halt her companion, but it was too late. Usagi had already stepped onto the rungs of a metal ladder, descending into the labyrinth below.

“We have to!” a determined Usagi glanced up at Rei after stepping down another notch. The rising steam frizzed her long pigtails. She locked onto Rei with her bright blue eyes. A look of sadness marked her face despite her attempts to remain optimistic and brave in this dire situation. “This is a perfect place for those mutant turtles to hide from the public. I don’t want to go into a sewer anymore than you do, but if it brings us help to find Ami and Mako... I’ll do anything... Whatever it takes... to get them back and defeat Queen Beryl.”

“Wait!” Rei tried to speak, but it was too late. The blonde buns on top of Usagi’s head dipped below the surface level, entering the underground sewage system of New York City. Usagi was right about everything she had just said. There was no turning back now. They would rescue their friends and defeat Beryl no matter what obstacles blocked their path, even if it meant crawling through the vile grime flowing underground.

Steam enveloped her body as she climbed down the manhole cover after Usagi. Between the vapor and the darkness, she could hardly see a few inches past her feet. She silently prayed that her fingers and feet would not slip on the thin metal railings as she carefully made her way to the slimy ground. The foul stench worsened with each step she took. She tried to take smell breaths through her nose but could not escape the putrid odor. If they were victorious over Queen Beryl, the first thing she planned to do was take a long bubble bath in scalding water. No, that wouldn’t be enough. She needed an entire spa day from getting her hair and nails done, a facial, and even a full body massage. Then she would get in contact with Yuuichirou. It was a wonderful goal to look forward to, but she doubted it would ever happen. The vision of a slain Usagi followed by her swift death lingered in her mind. Thankfully, the klutz had made it down safely. She snapped Rei out of her thoughts and assisted her to the grimy floor once she neared the bottom, meeting her dour expression with an awkward smile. Usagi always tried to have fun and make light of whatever situation they were in, but this would be a tough one... even for her.

Rei stepped away from her friend and bladed her hand over her eyes to help increase her range of sight. From what she could see, the sewer broke away in three directions. There was a narrow tunnel directly in front of them, or they could venture down a path to the left or right from their current position. Time wasted from removing the access lid and her brief hesitation at the surface had cost them dearly. April O’Neil was nowhere to be found. The reporter could have easily walked off in any of these three directions. It would be near impossible to find her at this rate, even if they chose the correct tunnel. 

“EWWW!” Usagi squealed before Rei could voice this obvious observation. She chose the center path, a round circular tunnel with a slow-moving river of sludge that reached up to their ankles. Her shoes splashed into disgusting grime as she ran into the opening of the narrow passageway. “IT’S SO GROSS DOWN HERE!”

“Usagi!” Rei had to fight against every inner instinct not to step her expensive flats into the raw sewage and whatever else made up the slimy liquid running down this tunnel. The disgusting mixture made the harbor waters from earlier seem like a pristine ocean off the coast of a gorgeous destination, like Hawaii in comparison. She gasped as the pigtailed girl disappeared before her eyes due to steam emanating from a cracked pipe along the wall. She pinched her nose tightly with one hand while flailing her other arm to find the curved wall so she could maintain her footing. The putrid stench worsened with every step she took. “USAGI!!!!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 124:

       Leonardo rose from his chair alongside his sickly master’s cot after hearing the frantic sound of footsteps approaching from the tunnel that led to the ninja’s hidden lair. The grim turtle drew both swords and held them at the ready, just in case a member of the foot-clan or some other enemy came barging in. Perhaps it was Shredder or his new ally. Instead, it was the reporter, April O’Neil, who burst into the hideout, just as he had expected. Donatello had followed his orders to contact the reporter to help question the mysterious girl in their custody. April slammed the makeshift door shut behind her, panting to catch her breath.

“What’s wrong?” Leonardo approached the woman with his weapons still prepared for combat. His gut was tingling at the sight of his ally, who appeared anxious and weary. Maybe there was an enemy lurking in the sewers after all.

“I had a strange suspicion that somebody was following me down here.” April O’Neil spoke. “I opened up a steam valve and kicked out a rusty pipe when I entered the sewers to create a smoke screen and get out of dodge. Hopefully that will slow them down a bit.”

“Good job.” Leonardo nodded. “Master Splinter would be proud of your awareness and how you used the environment to your advantage. You have the makings of a true ninja warrior yet!”

“How is he doing?” April raced over to the old rat’s cot. The master’s condition did not appear to have improved at all since she had last seen him. In fact, it had worsened even more so. Splinter’s eyes were closed shut and his breath was short and raspy. Each inhale was a struggle for the poor sensei. She turned her head to face Leonardo for a hopeful response, but the leader’s dour expression was all she needed to see to confirm her worst fears. There was not much time left.

“Hey April!” the cheery Michelangelo greeted the reporter with a smile, hoping to uplift everyone’s mood. “Did you bring any pizza? I’m totally starving!”

“No, sorry.” She stepped away from Splinter to face the happy-go-lucky turtle. “I felt like someone was following me, so I took no chances and came straight here.”

“Awwwwww man!” That’s a total bummer, dude!" the party animal grumbled in frustration. “I’m mega hungry after that nasty battle at the library. I nearly got my shell roasted and frozen at the same time!”

“You guys were there?” April asked. “I saw the interior of the library. What a disaster! Thank goodness you are all right!”

“Casey and I were at the ferry.” Leonardo added. “Raph helped us figure out that Shredder was targeting two locations so that he could test out his new weapon systems.”

“Ugghhh! That no good sports addicted maniac!” April rolled her eyes at the mention of her ex-boyfriend."You actually asked for Casey Jones’ help? You are lucky the subway series game played in the evening today. Otherwise he would’ve been at a bar with his eyes glued to the television."

“Hey, don’t blame us! Raphael went to him last night after our disagreement.” Leonardo said. “Casey confessed that they concocted a secret plan to get the Onyx Crystal to heal Splinter after my direct instructions not to bother with that demonic shard! Now our brother is being held prisoner by this witch Shredder has allied himself with in another dimension. We need to find him!”

“My gosh!” April exclaimed. “Who on earth is this witch?”

“We don’t know anything more than her name, Queen Beryl.” Leonardo shrugged. “We were hoping you could help us ascertain more about her and her whereabouts.”

“Do you really have one of the magical girls in custody? That’s fantastic! This will be my best story ever.” April beamed with excitement. “Wait till I show up to work with footage and pictures of the mystical female warrior. That will sure show Mr. Thompson and that no good Fenwick. Those buffoons believe these girls were in league with the foot-clan. That’s not true, is it?”

“Not at all. Casey and I fought alongside two of these magical girls but had to get away once the cops came so I couldn’t question them further.” Leonardo continued. “They fought for justice and helped prevent the ferry from crashing by diverting a boat with their powers.”

“I knew it!” April grinned. “Wait until I tell my intern that we were both right!”

“They offered to help us, but I rejected their offer.” Leonardo said with a hint of regret in his tone. “One of them was a huge klutz. She bumped in to me, preventing me from pursuing Shredder when he retreated into that strange dimension. I figured they would do nothing but get in our way and slow us down. Their attacks were useless against him in battle anyway, but I was wrong to dismiss them so quickly. Master Splinter would not be pleased with my actions. I failed to show true leadership.”

“Don’t say that.” April consoled the depressed turtle who turned his head to stare back at his ill master. “I’ll track the rest down and help you guys in any way I can.”

“Thank you.” Leonardo walked towards the tunnel exit with his swords out. “Mikey, come with me.”

“Where are you going?” a bewildered April asked.

“To get some pizza?” Michelangelo pumped his fists. “Alright! Awesome, dude!”

“No.” his brother shook his head in annoyance. “If someone followed April into this sewer, we are going to find them and you are coming with me!”

“Aww, do we gotta?” Mikey groaned as he made his way towards the exit. “Can’t I order a couple of pies first?”

“Stay here with Donatello.” Leonardo ignored his brother and addressed the reporter. “Please monitor Splinter and our guest.”

“Okay, I will!” April nodded. “Be safe out there, guys!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 125:

The crowds were all but gone by time Minako Aino walked out of the Channel 6 News Building at a late hour. She pushed her way through the revolving doors and back into the brightly lit Times Square in utter disbelief at what had just happened. A set of conflicting emotions played a game of tug of war in her mind. On one hand, Burne had miraculously granted her a second chance to achieve her dream of becoming an idol. The viral video of her interview had put her face all over the news, including the internet and social media. Maybe friends and family back in Japan would even get to see it. It would stun her classmates at the University for sure. This was a dream come true, and an internship with the news station could be the break she needed to catapult her into a successful career of super stardom!

    But it was not supposed to happen this way. The CEO, had manipulated her into signing up for the internship program by threatening to fire Rei if she declined. Rei would be beyond furious if she lost the position and would place the blame on them for causing her so many problems ever since they arrived. Sure, Rei would get to keep her job for now, but she would utterly despise Minako for joining up and think she is trying to steal away her spotlight after working so hard to get accepted to this position. She wished she could tell her friend the truth, but that would only make matters worse and crush her self-esteem. It was truly a terrible position for her to be in, especially with the reemergence of Queen Beryl and this powerful ally of hers.

Rei and Usagi were not waiting outside of the building, much to her dismay. Perhaps they had run out of patience and gone looking for Ami and Makoto without her. She could not blame them for that. Hopefully, they had found their missing friends somewhere safe. She rummaged for her cell-phone in her bag only to discover that the battery had died on her. All of those selfies she had taken and time wasted scrolling through her news feed, texts and emails had left her in a terrible predicament. Where was she supposed to go now? There was no way for her to contact any of her friends to meet up with them.

Minako started walking away from Times Square and back toward the Sunset Inn. She thought that she still knew where the rundown motel was located and left behind the bright lights and towering office buildings and strolled into a more residential neighborhood with lined with brownstones with cramped apartments. Even though Rei had banned her from staying at the hotel, she hoped Usagi could patch things up. Perhaps Rei and the rest were all there waiting for her. It was an optimistic, but very unlikely scenario.

 The lonely blonde wandered up and down blocks searching for the inn to no avail. A multitude of thoughts and concerns kept running through her mind. What would she say to Rei when they met back up at the inn? She was more afraid of her friend’s reaction to the news than facing Queen Beryl. Somewhere along the way, she realized she was utterly lost. It was impossible to navigate through this massive city without using her cell-phone. All of the surrounding buildings looked the same, except now the brick sidings were marked with ugly purple graffiti letters and green serpent logos. Their windows had metal bars running across them to prevent burglars. How did she wind up in this shady neighborhood? She cursed herself for not remembering the hotel address or writing it down at least. This district did not appear very safe, despite being a walking distance from a crowded tourist area. The area looked completely abandoned and lifeless, free of any pedestrians except her. Piles of trash and garbage littered the rundown street. Rats and mice scurried around a dumpster, gathering whatever they could to eat in their tiny mouths until a stray cat chased them away. There were vagrants sleeping on top of cardboard boxes lined up on the sidewalk next to a trash can with burning flame to keep warm. A police siren wailed in the distance, followed by a loud pop that sounded like a gunshot. She silently prayed that it was just fireworks. How did she wind up here? She was living up to the moniker of a dumb blonde with her stupidity and lack of common sense.

         She tried her best to remain calm, but found herself running down the sidewalk to get away from this treacherous district that was clearly not tourist friendly. A group of delinquents were sitting on a porch in the middle of the block, blasting music out of a loudspeaker as they finished tagging the front door with a crappy excuse for a dragon logo. They spotted the lost blonde staring at their crime and tossed away their empty spray cans before jumping down from the steps to block her path.

“You going somewhere, missy?” One thug asked as he took a cigarette out of his mouth and threw the butt to the curb. This intimidating crook was a disgusting looking bald fellow with a purple bandana sticking out of his jeans and clearly the leader of the faction. “This is purple dragon territory.” 

“I’m looking for the Sunset Inn.” Minako backed away from the suspicious-looking men as panic set in. They were gang members looking for trouble. “Do you know where it is?”

“Never heard of it.” She had bumped into a massive man standing behind her. This guy had tattoos covering his arms and a vicious scar across his cheek. He wore a tank top a bit too tight for his portly body. Even his belly button was visible. “You are kinda cute. Why don’t you come up to my apartment?”

“Sorry, I have a boyfriend.” Minako lied and tried to push through the men, but they would not let her pass. “He’s expecting me, actually.”

“Not so fast, lady.” The tattooed man had alcohol on his breath. He chuckled as more men had joined in on the conversation, surrounding her to the point of no escape. He took a swig of bottle concealed in a paper bag before pointing at her handbag. “Whatchu got in there?” 

“Nothing! Just makeup and other girly stuff you don’t want!” Minako gasped as she clutched the purse against her chest. In truth, it contained all of her money and documentation. She could not afford to lose it. “Let me go or I’ll call the police!”

“Heh! We ain’t scared of no cops! Even if they catch us, we will be back on the street by morning!” The bald guy grumbled, drawing a switchblade from his back pocket. “Now hand that bag of yours over or I’ll cut up that pretty face of yours so you look uglier than my friend Bob over here.”

“That’s not possible!” Minako defied the thugs, but their leader took a swipe with his blade. The knife cut through the leather strap and sent the handbag to the floor where one of the men scooped it right up and took off running down the street. Minako sunk her back up against a tree, her heart pounding in fear as the thug got away. There was nowhere to go.

“On your feet, lady.” The criminal brandished his knife again and pointed it at her throat. “You are coming with us.”

“No, please...” Minako whimpered. “You got what you wanted... just take it and go!”

“That’s not all we want.” The thug grinned as he grabbed Minako’s wrist, pressing the edge of the knife against her throat to force her onto her feet. Blood trickled down her neck, staining her I <3 NY souvenir t-shirt.

Chapter Text

Chapter 126:

A loud motorcycle engine revved in the distance. The bike’s glowing headlights got brighter and brighter, illuminating the crime infested side street. The concealed face of a stranger glared at the bald thug through eyes hidden behind a white hockey mask.

“It’s him again!” The gang leader shoved Minako down to the payment after noticing that the masked rider had taken out his cohort, running away with the purse with the swing of a baseball bat. The thief slammed into the side door of a parked car, breaking the passenger side window from the vicious impact. Minako could hear the window shatter before a blaring alarm wailed from the damaged car. The wounded criminal crawled over the broken pieces of glass, reaching for her pocketbook, but Casey Jones jumped off his bike and stepped on the man’s outstretched fingers.

“I don’t think that bag suits you.” He scooped up the pocketbook, holding the dainty bag like it was from an alien planet, before throwing it haphazardly into the golf bag strapped around his shoulders. The thug tried to get to his feet, but the masked intruder finished his foe off by cracking the wooden bat against the man’s lower back.

“You purple dragon thugs really have gotten soft these days.” The masked man mocked, peering down at Minako lying prone on the sidewalk. “Mugging a teenage girl? Pathetic.”

“Hockey Mask Man!” the blonde gasped at the sight of the masked man armed with sporting equipment. This was the second time in a single day that he had come to her rescue. He was her hero! Her savior! Just how Usagi had her Tuxedo Mask. This was her one true love. The man she was destined to be with. It could not be a coincidence. Thank goodness he had come at her time of need. All of her recent bad luck had led to this moment.

“Get out of here, girlie.” Casey Jones drew a putter from his bag and patted the metal club against his palm. “It’s time for me to hit the links.”

“GO AND GET HIM DRAGONS!” the bald guy ordered his henchmen.

Minako scrambled away and ducked behind a graffiti covered truck, watching as the masked man took on several of the thugs with brute force. He met them head on as they slashed away with their knives. More members of the gang were rushing out of the building to join in the fight. She would not stand there and let her hero fight for her honor, as romantic as it sounded. A pile of bodies already littered the sidewalk, groaning from their wounds. The masked man threw away his ruined putter and quickly reached for a heavy cricket paddle, but his weapon supply was running low. It was time for her to transform and exact revenge on these thugs and show the masked man that she could hold her own in a fight once again.

“VENUS POWER MAKE UP!”

Sailor Venus emerged from her transformation only to find that her masked hero was grappling with the fat tattooed guy. Casey Jones punched the man several times in his bloated gut, but the gang member snickered after absorbing the shots and smashed a bottle of beer over the masked man’s head. Jones staggered back but recovered by head butting his foe. The fat man tumbled to the ground, his forehead gushing from a nasty laceration. Jones reached for a hockey stick, the last of his weapons only to meet the grin of the bald leader who prepared to thrust to edge of his knife into his exposed neck. Casey caught the man’s wrist inches away from the intended target area, but was pushed back into the car with the wailing alarm. He gritted his teeth from under his mask as he tried to push the blade away, but the gang leader was much stronger than he appeared. His eyes widened with blood lust at the knife got closer to the vigilante’s throat. The notoriety and fame he would achieve within his ranks if he could boast that he was the one who finally killed this masked fighter that tormented the purple dragons.

“CRESCENT BEAM!” Sailor Venus summoned a golden beam of light into her fingertips and pointed it at the vile mugger. The powerful burst of energy lit up the dark street until it engulfed the delinquent.

“ARGHHH!” The bald man grunted in agonizing pain from the yellow bolt of light. His knife slipped from his grip and he collapsed to his knees in defeat. But Casey Jones would not let it end there.

“Time to take out the trash!” He picked the thug up and launched him into an open dumpster. The stray cat yowled in fright, jumping out of the container with a fried chicken wing clutched in its teeth.

“SHOOT THEM!” the fat guy shouted as he crawled away to safety, unwilling to engage in combat with Casey. He knew they could not beat the masked man and this strange girl in a sailor suit. 

“Look out!” Venus gasped as another member of the gang answered the call and opened a window on the third floor of a brownstone. He stuck out a pistol and pointed it down at the Masked Man.

“VENUS LOVE ME CHAIN!” Sailor Venus unleashed her golden whip of heart-shaped links at the open window. She yanked on the magical chain when it wrapped around the arm of the thug holding the gun. The criminal’s body shattered the window frame. Glass flew everywhere as the thug fell down into the dumpster alongside his leader.

“Let’s get out of here!” The fat guy grabbed some of his men and hobbled away, still dripping in blood from the gash on his head. “That bitch is crazy!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 127:

“I suppose this belongs to you.” Casey Jones ripped the white pocketbook out of his golf bag and tossed it over to the Sailor Senshi, who caught it with her gloved hands. They had defeated all the goons, leaving the two fighters standing alone in the middle of the barren road under the orange glow of a blinking street lamp.

“Thank you so much for saving me!” Sailor Venus smiled as she peered down at her recovered handbag. Her cheeks flushed in the presence of her savior. The Masked Man knew about her true identity, but she knew nothing about him. She was so curious and eager to learn more about him, but she really wanted to see what was underneath that bulky mask. “How can I ever repay you?”

“By staying out of my way!” Casey grumbled as he turned away from the sailor senshi and started marching back toward his motorcycle. “Keep yourself out of trouble. This ain’t the shopping district, lady. No pretty dresses for sale over here. Only guns, drugs and other contraband that I hope you’re not interested in purchasing.”

“So that’s it? You are just going to leave a defenseless girl like me alone in such a dark and dangerous place?” Casey had straddled over the seat and turned on the engine, fully prepared to move on to his next fight, but the mysterious girl grabbed the handles of his bike to stop him from going anywhere with determination. “That’s no way to treat any lady. Not to mention your one true love!”

“One true love?” The masked man guffawed. “What the hell are you talking about, miss?”

“Don’t you see it!” Venus’ blue eyes widened she let go of the handles and twirled in a circle while staring at the moon peeking out from behind the brownstone. It was hardly a romantic setting, but she would make it work. “First the ferry... now this chance meeting of saving me from danger once again... Can’t you see that you and I... are meant to be together. It’s pure destiny! An award-winning author could not script a romance story any better than this!”

“Sorry. You are not exactly my type.” Jones gripped the handlebars. “Now move it! I got more hoodlums to punish.”

“Oh, come on! I can be every guy’s type!” Venus argued. “I can be funny, dramatic, easy going, serious, flirty, sexy.... smart... wait, maybe not that smart... but... I like sports too! I played volleyball for my University before they threw me off the team because of my poor grades. I can even help you fight more criminals if that’s what you want!”

“Quit babbling! I don’t need any help.” the annoyed masked man revved his engine, desperate to be rid of the pesky blonde. “I’m at least ten years older than you. Give it up already!”

“Age is just a silly number.” Venus reached for the hockey mask and tried to pull it over his head, but he dipped back. “Let me see for myself just how handsome that face of yours is! Don’t be shy!”

“Stop it!” He pushed her hands away, but she only doubled down on her efforts. She giggled uncontrollably as her fingers glanced against the hockey mask. He clutched her wrist and locked his fierce eyes on hers. She could see that her flirting was not getting through. The Masked Man had enough of her blatant advances.

“Fine. Have it your way! Forget everything I said. I’ll be on my way.” She finally relented after letting out an audible sigh. She turned away from the vigilante and started walking back down the street with her chin turned up and her eyes closed in silent prayer, hoping that her trick worked. Sure enough, the Masked Man sped up to her on his bike. Men were so predictable.

“Do you need a ride?” The vigilante asked. “I don’t want to have to rescue you for a third time today.”

“Yes, please!” Her eyes lit up with excitement, and a wide smile grazed her pretty face. How could such a noble hero let an innocent woman like her walk away all by herself in such a dangerous neighborhood? Surely this proved that he was the kindhearted, protective, yet rugged and masculine man she had always been searching for with no success. Maybe she should beg to spend the night at his place. Rei banned her from the Sunset Inn, after all. What was the harm in begging the vigilante for shelter and getting to know him a little better? If she was lucky, maybe one thing would lead to another and...

Minako shook her head wildly to clear the dirty images out of her mind, confusing the masked rider. She was already forgoing her responsibilities as senshi yet again, placing her romantic fantasies ahead of her sworn duty. She had recommitted herself to her important responsibilities after the deadly encounter on the ferry, but was already brushing that aside to pursue another romance with this baseball bat wielding rogue. Was she so boy crazy that she was putting her infatuation with the Masked Man over her friends? This had to stop!

Her poor decisions over the last year to chase boys at the University leading up to harassing the cop at the ferry had proven to be very costly errors. If only they had just left the ferry when Makoto wanted to catch up with Ami at the library, maybe they would’ve gotten there just in time to stop that whole attack from happening. Her two friends were still missing, as far as she knew. She had to save them and defeat Queen Beryl in order to redeem herself. Nothing else in the world mattered more.

“Is something wrong?” the impatient vigilante asked. Minako stared at him with a blank expression on her face, but his sudden words snapped her back to reality.

“I have a teeny, tiny favor to ask you...” Minako spoke softly as an idea popped into her mind. It was time to be the leader of the Sailor Team her friends deserved, and she had a plan to do just that.

Chapter Text

Chapter 128:

     “I still can’t believe we are doing this.” Mamoru muttered to the two cats through a metal grill. He struggled to wheel his chaotically packed suitcase while carrying the handle of a plastic carrier containing the two cats. He thought it would be a hassle to get them on the plane, but the two felines and the bizarre priest insisted they come along for the spontaneous journey to New York. Yuuichirou had darted off the bus into the terminal at blazing speed, forcing him to run in order to catch up to the crazed priest. The cats meowed in a mad panic, sliding from one side of the bobbing cage to the other as the tired human dragged his feet down the pavement.

“Hurry!” Yuuichirou called out to his traveling companion. The priest had his duffle bag slung over his shoulder and was sprinting through the gate with a burst of energy as if it was midday. Mamoru, however, dragged his feet, completely exhausted. It had been a long drive to the airport, and it had taken a long time for them to park the car and take a slow shuttle bus over to the proper gate. All of this would be for naught if there were no flights available. This spur-of-the-moment plan was a tremendous risk, and he doubted it would work out like the priest hoped. Either way, they were both determined to travel to New York, even if it meant sleeping in the airport overnight. Mamoru resigned to the fact that he could not attend the first day of his new job and that he would most likely lose this wonderful opportunity that he had been waiting for. None of that mattered as long as Usagi was in danger.

When Mamoru finally caught up to Yuuichirou, he found him standing at the end of a very long line. The airport was busy with travelers, even at this late hour. They waited on the sluggish queue for what seemed like an eternity until a young Japanese lady in a blue pantsuit called for the two men to step up to her kiosk.

“How may I help you this evening?” she asked the duo. The stern lady looked like a no-nonsense type of worker."Do you have a flight reservation number?"

“No.” the priest answered bluntly. “We are in need of two tickets for your next flight departing to New York City, United States of America, please.”

“Let me see if we have anything left available.” the woman began typing into her computer rather quickly. “You are in luck. We have a few tickets remaining on a flight that departs in less than an hour.”

“We’ll take’m!” the overly excited Yuuichirou responded without hesitation.

“Wait sir, let me finish explaining.” the airline employee continued. “Coach is completely booked on this flight. Only first-class tickets remain. There will be additional surcharges, such as last-minute processing fees and so on. I can try to find you a better rate for the next flight in the morning, but...”

“That won’t be necessary. We need to leave as soon as possible.” He waved his hand to dismiss the employee from any more discouraging remarks. “Money is no object to me when it comes to the woman I love. She needs me and I will cross over the vast oceans and glorious mountains to make it back to her side!”

“Understood.... But...” the impatient kiosk lady interrupted the priest before he poured his heart out any further. She peeked over at the desk and stared at the cat carrier in Mamoru’s hands. The felines had their faces pressed against the grill, staring back at her. “You plan on taking your pets? That will incur even more charges.”

“That’s fine.” Yuuichirou nodded.

“You have less than an hour to clear security and customs to make your flight.” the woman warned. “And these tickets are non-refundable.”

“Yeah, yeah...” he scoffed.

“Okay, let me just total this all up for you.” Her fingers raced across her keyboard as she entered all the information into the computer. A number flashed across the screen, facing the two men. The amount was so large that Mamoru‘s jaw dropped in disbelief.

“That’s a lot of zeroes.” He muttered. There was no way he could afford it unless he sold his sports car. And even that may not be enough. “I can’t afford this. My credit limit is not that high.”

“Don’t worry about it.” Yuuichirou retrieved a credit card from his wallet and slammed it onto the desk. “It’s on me.”

“I guess Usagi was right about those rumors of about you coming from a wealthy family.” Mamoru commented. “I promise to pay you back, but it may take me many years to do so.”

“I refuse to take a single penny from my family.” Yuuichirou added. “Money is such a trivial object, and it corrupted my parents. I refuse to walk down that same path. I take very little payment for my services at the shrine. Maybe that’s why Rei’s grandfather allows me to stay. I pride myself on living simply and only buying necessities, like food and clothing. The rest goes towards gifts for my Rei. Truth is, I have little savings and I can’t afford these tickets either.”

“If you don’t have the money for this, then how are we paying?”

“I may not have any currency to my name.” A grin stretched across the priest’s face. “But the Hikawa shrine has plenty reserved in an account for situations just like this.”

“Is it okay for me to process this?” the kiosk lady took the credit card off the desk and held it out before them.

“Yes!” He exclaimed with enthusiasm despite Mamoru’s disbelief. “Go on right head.”

“I’m going to need your passports.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 129:

“USAGI!” the exasperated Rei Hino called out her friend’s name, flailing her arms wildly about to clear the steam clouding her vision and also to maintain her footing in the slippery mess she stood in. One easy misstep and she would fall face first into a nasty mixture of putrid waste. They had already lost track of April O’Neil in this underground labyrinth of bricks, pipes and sewage water, and now they were in danger of losing each other. Usagi had foolishly run off down a narrow channel, hoping to catch up to their target. The sewers were an immense maze with many offshoots and intersecting side tunnels leading to who knows where underneath the foreign city. Her flats kicked into the sludge flowing down the long circular tube, splashing the revolting sewage water onto her bare legs as she desperately searched for her scatterbrained friend.

“I’m over here!” Usagi screeched, her high-pitched voice echoed in distance. 

Rei darted around a curved tunnel and into a dank shaft, covering her mouth with her palm as the smell worsened around this bend. Usagi was there waiting for her at a clear dead end. The tunnel continued beyond, but a sealed door with a circular locking mechanism blocked the path ahead. Putrid sewage pooled in this area past their ankles, its flow halted by the plugged exit.

“Don’t run off like that, you idiot! We need to stick together!” Rei wanted to slap her friend for her stupidity, but kept her nose pinched tight and mouth covered. The smell was utterly unbearable at this point. It was a struggle to keep down what little food that remained in her stomach. “This is hopeless! April’s nowhere to be found. Let’s get out of here and come up with an alternative plan.”

“You are SO MEAN!” a frustrated Usagi fought back, sloshing through the dirty water in the opposite direction of her friend. Her blue eyes teared up at Rei’s harsh words. The one and only lead to finding the ninja turtles had eluded them and their odds of finding their missing friends, and defeating Beryl, had diminished with it. They were running out of time and she knew it. Usagi’s lips quivered at this sudden realization. The rusty senshi did not have the confidence in herself to take on Queen Beryl and her new ally without the rest of her team there to support and fight alongside her. A lump of doubt grew within her gut, filling the distraught girl with a sense of failure. The urge to quit and accept her defeat tore at her mind, but she tightened her slender hands into fists and shook away these negative thoughts. “I am not giving up. Go if you want.  I’ll search these tunnels all night if I have to. I’m not leaving until I find April and those turtles!”

“Wait!” Rei shouted in an effort to get her over emotional companion to stop before she could get away from her yet again. Usagi was right. There was no other option at the moment other than to keep searching this retched underground lair beneath New York City. Queen Beryl’s power may grow by the minute. It was only a matter of time before she summoned the Supreme Evil Queen Metalia into this world and bring upon its doom.

Chapter Text

Chapter 130:

Rei cursed herself and quickly gave chase to Usagi. Her flaring temper had upset her sensitive companion, causing her to run off and search for the April O’Neil with no help. She let go of the tight grip around her nostrils and held her breath, sprinting down the dark tunnel in pursuit with an arm dragging along the grimy brick wall for balance. It did not take long before she spotted the pigtailed girl standing in the center of a nexus connecting dozens of tunnels heading in every which direction possible. Some passageways were big enough to walk through, but most were too small to traverse unless you wanted to crawl through muck on your hands and knees. The room was cavernous, a vast interweaving system of pipes and tunnels connecting the massive city to running water and other plumbing services. 

     “Look, I’m sorry for what I said.” Rei sighed after stepping into the dimly lit chamber, her voice echoing in the vast space. Water dripped from cracks in the ceiling, and plumes of steam escaped from a messy barrage of metal pipes rattling overhead. Thankfully, the smell here wasn’t too bad, giving her a chance to catch her breath."You are right. I won’t let you do this alone. We can’t give up now."

“Chocolate cake...” Usagi muttered in response from the center of the cavern. A rumbling reverberated from above the ceiling, causing the pipes to shake and dust to fall on their hair. Rei looked up and assumed that the screech was most likely one of the many subway trains passing by, but Usagi’s stuttering voice was ridden with fear. She froze in place, worrying the noise meant that a terrifying monster lurked nearby.

“What?” Rei furrowed her black eyebrows in confusion. The very thought of food repulsed her at the moment. As she walked closer to Usagi’s position, she noticed that her skinny legs were trembling in fear.

“Apple pie... parfait... ice cream... cheese cake...” Usagi shied away, looking down at her feet and pointing a finger to the circular tunnel straight ahead. She looked as if she had just seen a ghost."Tiramisu!"

   “Stop babbling!” A foreboding sense of dread overcame Rei as she cautiously inched towards her shaken companion. Her gut told her that there was an evil presence lurking nearby, and her instinct was rarely wrong. Could it be that Queen Beryl was hunting for them in these depths? Perhaps it was a youma or some other monster?

Her friend kept mouthing off scrumptious desserts to distract herself from the whatever was hiding in the darkness. Rei’s sharp eyes caught sight of movement in the distance. It was coming, whatever it was. She jumped in front of her companion to shield her from the oncoming danger until it finally emerged.

“It’s just a rat, Usagi!” Rei exhaled in relief as the squeaking rodent scurried out of the dank tunnel. It was the size of a cat with a thick, coarse hide of brown fur and sharp teeth, but it ran away from the two humans and into a broken pipe.

“AHHH!!!” Usagi squealed as she ducked behind Rei’s back and covered her eyes. Her high-pitched shriek reverberated down the various side tunnels. “I HATE RATS!”

“Come on, let’s get out of here.” Rei yanked her friend to her feet. She tried to act calm, but the sense of dread lingered. Whatever Usagi saw or heard was not just a simple rat. They needed to get out of here, and fast.

“Wait! Do you hear that?” Usagi froze in place again and pointed into the dark abyss beyond."Is that... music?"

The once faint sound grew louder until turning into a distinguishable song. A mesmerizing tune from a woodwind instrument, like a flute. Rei grabbed Usagi’s hand and took a step towards the exit, her heart pounding in her chest. The evil presence was nearby, and it was coming for them. A few red dots peered out of the adjacent tunnels, followed by insistent squeaking that was driven louder by the hypnotic tune.

A horde of sewer rats under the control of the flute and whoever was playing it appeared by the droves. Their eyes glowed a crimson red, staring unblinking at the two girls as they came bursting out of the various tunnels, drainage pipes, vent shafts and every minor crack in the walls. Rats even began dropping from the ceiling like a hailstorm. The disgusting vermin were everywhere, filling the once empty chamber with their vast army. They hissed and squealed as if the song was driving them mad, snapping their mouths filled with jagged teeth, eager to tear them both to shreds. But they did not yet attack. Something was holding them back from doing so. Their flute playing master could control the rat’s position as if they were robots. The rodents closed in on the two girls, shrinking their space in the middle of the chamber little by little. Possessed vermin were everywhere. Their glowing eyes illuminated the chamber, giving way to more and more red eyes in the distance. There were thousands, if not millions, of them watching from every which direction, like bright stars in a galaxy.

“We must transform now.” Rei gripped her scared friend’s hand tightly. They would have to fight their way out if they wanted to survive. Usagi nodded silently in return. There was no other way.

“MARS POWER, MAKE UP!”

“MOON PRISM POWER, MAKEUP!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 131

  Rings of fire engulfed Rei’s body, filling her body with an intense warmth. Her hair fluttered wildly as a golden tiara manifested under her dark bangs, infusing her with a power she had not felt in quite some time. Gone was her filthy dress and ruined shoes, only to be replaced by her white sailor suit with a red skirt and matching high heels. Long white gloves stretched up to her elbows and a purple bow manifested in the center of her chest with a shiny red brooch.

     Sailor Mars emerged from the fiery transformation with Sailor Moon standing beside her. The transformation had left her feeling completely revitalized and refreshed, ready to take on the army of possessed rats and whatever evil entity controlled them.

“WHO DARES TRESSPASS ON MY ROYAL GROUNDS!” a hooded figure stepped forward through the wide tunnel, only to become visible from the glowing eyes of his army of vermin. A tall man came into view with a muscular body donned in ripped and torn brown rags held together with patches and bandages that wrapped around his body. He carried a golden flute in his right hand that all the rats seemed to be fixated on. 

“I am the pretty soldier of love and justice, Sailor Moon!” Usagi stepped in front of her guardian with newfound confidence. The army of rats still terrified her, but she did her best to control her fear now that she had transformed. “How dare you use that flute of yours to control these poor, innocent, ugly critters! They wish to stay hidden so that they don’t scare away girls like me!  N THE NAME OF THE MOON I SHALL PUNISH YOU!”

“BWAHAHA” The figure laughed uncontrollably. He pulled back his hood, exposing a ghostly pale face with a mop of unkempt orange hair atop his head. The very sight of the grotesque man took the Sailor Senshi aback. They instinctively back peddled away from him, but the army of possessed rats prevented their retreat, nipping at their legs with their jagged teeth. Sailor Moon frantically jumped up and down in her red boots, wailing at the top of her lungs in a mad panic to avoid a nasty bite. Mars steeled herself and punted the nearest rat away with a fierce kick. The critter smacked against the brick wall and scurried away unharmed, but the man before them was not pleased. “DO NOT INSULT MY ROYAL SUBJECTS. THIS IS EXACTLY WHY YOU IGNORANT HUMANS MUST BE ERADICATED FROM THE EARTH. PEOPLE LIKE YOU LOOK DOWN ON RATS, MICE AND OTHER MAGNIFICENT RODENTS. YOU SEE THEM AS NOTHING MORE THAN DIRTY AND DISEASE CARRYING PESTS. THE TRUTH IS, HUMANITY IS THE DISEASE. MANKIND IS THE REAL PLAGUE AND SCOURGE UPON THIS PLANET. INFERIOR NON-RODENTS LIKE YOU TWO ARE THE ONES THAT NEED TO BE POISONED AND CAUGHT IN TRAPS TO BE TAUGHT A PROPER LESSON FOR YOUR CRIMES AGAINST THE EARTH.”

“No, you are wrong!” Sailor Moon defied her enemy, but she couldn’t help but feel pity towards him. The deranged man must have been living apart from society for quite some time, judging by his dishevelled appearance. “There are plenty of people out there who love the earth and do all they can to take care of it. You can’t punish everyone for the actions of a few bad people! I would gladly give my life to protect all the good living on earth.”

“SURE I CAN!” he chuckled. “ONCE MY SONG SPREADS TO ALL ENDS OF THE SEWERS I WILL HAVE OVER THIRTY MILLION RATS UNDER MY DOMAIN. WE WILL TAKE BACK WHAT IS RIGHTFULLY OURS! FIRST I WILL RULE THE SEWERS... THEN THE WORLD!”

“In the name of Mars, I shall put an end to your evil plans.” This mysterious sewer dweller was the source of the evil energy she had been sensing. As if the looming threat of Metalia wasn’t enough, now they had to deal with this delusional creep and his diabolical plans of world domination. They could not take him lightly, no matter how crazy he looked. The rats could devour them within seconds once he gave the order. There were so many that it would be impossible to fight their way out unscathed. They needed to deal with him in a different way. Maybe this man was possessed by a malicious entity or a demonic phantom that had corrupted his mind and soul. She closed her eyes and summoned a holy talisman into her fingers as she called out the words to her spell. “EVIL SPIRIT BEGONE!”

Sailor Mars launched the strip of paper containing a blessed enchantment written in brush strokes of Japanese calligraphy. The transcript soared through the dank nexus like a paper airplane on rocket fuel until it slapped the ragged man in his forehead.

“GRRR!” He staggered backward, maintaining the grip on his flute. The possessed rats looked on with their beady red eyes as their angered master ripped the paper off his face crumpled it up into a ball before discarding it haphazardly. He lifted his golden instrument and played an eerie tune, snaring the attention of his army. “LOYAL SUBJECTS... SHOW WHAT HAPPENS TO THOSE WHO DISRESPECT THE RAT KING....DESTROY THEM!!!!!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 132:

Sailor Mars’ heart sank at the realization that her desperate plan had failed. Utilizing her holy talisman had done nothing more than provoke the so called Rat King to unleash his army of possessed rodents upon them. An endless horde of rats answered his beck and call the moment he pulled the magical instrument away from his pale lips. Millions of red eyes fixated on the senshi from all corners of the vast chamber, while thousands more of them poured out of hiding, flooding the sewer with a swarm of brown and gray fur.

Hungry rats stampeded over one another as they jumped and swiped at the two females, closing their once protective circle. Sailor Moon gasped, squealing in revulsion as she kicked and swatted away at the hairy vermin. They were everywhere, climbing up her boots, scratching and clawing at her sailor suit and gnawing at her long blonde pigtails. She let out a piercing shriek when a rat made it up to her shoulders and dug its jagged teeth deep into the exposed flesh on her neck. Blood trickled down from the open wound, staining her sailor suit. Sailor Moon grabbed the critter by its long, slithery tail and tossed him away into the throng of rodents, but several more rats were already climbing up her skinny body to take its place. 

“Sailor Moon!” a distressed Rei shouted after seeing her scared friend sustain an injury. The screeching Usagi was fighting out of fear, but it was only a matter of seconds before they were both overrun by this never ending onslaught of rats. She clenched her hands into tight fists and kicked a path to her companion in utter rage. Rats and mice were all over her body and long black hair, chomping and tearing through her once magnificent Sailor Suit and scratching her arms and legs with their sharp claws. 

Mars turned to lock eyes with the madman, allowing the power of fire and heat to course through her body until it manifested at her fingertips in a single flame.

“FIRE SOUL!!!!” Sailor Mars pointed her spare hand, not at the Rat King, but toward the nearest tunnel. A blazing stream of fire seared through the sewers, setting hundreds of the rats’ furry hide ablaze. The vermin scurried about in a mad panic, bumping into one another and causing the inferno to spread until all ends of the nexus were illuminated with a dancing flicker. The rotten stench of burnt hair mixed with the sewage made the unpleasant odor of the underground network smell even worse.

“WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!!!!” the Rat King thundered in a rage. He reached into one of his pockets and pulled out what looked like a hand grenade, tossing it into one of the major pipes suspended from the ceiling.

“RUN!” Sailor Mars yanked on her friend’s arm, tugging her towards the open path she had created with her fire soul attack. The rat king’s bomb exploded, rocking the chamber from the sudden detonation. A rush of water spouted out of the damaged pipes above, dousing the rats and flooding the chamber.

“AFTER THEM!” the rat king shouted. He blew into his flute, playing his mesmerizing song at a more anxious pace and ordering his minions to pursue his adversaries deeper into the sewer system. “DON’T LET THEM ESCAPE! FEAST ON THEIR FLESH!”

The Sailor Senshi fled down the grimy tunnel. Mars clasped her friend’s hand, knowing that if the klutz slipped even once, they would perish. She would not allow that to happen. The squealing of rats grew louder, forcing a terrified Usagi to glance behind her at the red beady eyes in the distance. Rats of all shapes and sizes were gaining ground on them. Her lungs ached for air and it was a struggle to continue, but her feet kept moving.

“Not another dead end!” Sailor Mars cursed her bad luck. She had inadvertently veered down a side tunnel with another metal door blocking their further advancement. They were completely trapped with nowhere else to go. Mars grit her teeth, turning away from the door to face the oncoming blitz of vermin, stepping in front of her friend to shield her from danger. “I’ll hold them off. Try to get this open and run for your life when you do!”

“No!” Sailor Moon stammered as she rushed back to her guardian’s side. “I’m not leaving you behind!”

“Do it now, you stupid idiot!” Mars demanded with fire burning in her eyes. She shoved Usagi away, pushing her towards the metal door. A stunned Sailor Moon fell onto her butt, splashing into the filth as Mars charged forward into the legion of rats.

Rei grimaced at her despicable actions. It was callous of her to shove Usagi away like that, but there was no other way to stress the importance of her escape in the heat of the moment. Sailor Moon would gladly fight to the death alongside her fellow guardian, but Usagi’s survival was far more important than her own. It was her sworn duty as guardian to protect her and keep her safe, even if it meant the ultimate sacrifice. Sailor Moon still had Queen Beryl and Metalia to deal with, not to mention their new ally, the Shredder. The odds of victory were slim, but without Sailor Moon, there would be no hope. If she had to give up her own life to get her out of the Rat King’s grasp, then so be it. She only wished she could have left Usagi on better terms instead of treating her so poorly. Rei only prayed that Usagi knew how much she meant to her.

     “FIRE SOUL!” a bright flash lit up the tunnel followed by a swirling blaze of fire. Sailor Mars ignited the tunnel with her blazing powers, setting the rats aflame, but they kept coming after her. Some of the nasty vermin the size of house cats stood on their hind legs, scratching and clawing at her despite their burning hides. She danced around the freakishly sized rats, kicking with her red heels and punching with her gloved fists.

“EEEEEE!” Sailor Moon gripped the metal wheel on the door, exerting all of her strength on turning the spokes to try to open the door, but they would not budge an inch. It must have broken or rusted shut, or maybe she was simply too weak to turn it. Tears flowed down her eyes as she banged her gloved hands on the panel out of frustration. She glanced over her shoulder, only to see Sailor Mars unleash another volley of flames. The fire eviscerated a countless amount of rats, but twice the number soon replaced them. Sailor Mars dropped to her knees for a moment, gasping for breath as a horde of rats pounced upon the tired senshi, tackling her to the ground.

“SAILOR MARS!” Usagi abandoned the door and touched the brooch in the center of her chest, summoning the moon stick back into her hands. She swung the magic wand back and forth, clearing a path down the tunnel as she fought her way to her companion’s position. One of the larger rats lunged at her with its gaping mouth of jagged teeth. Flames still leapt from its furry backside, but the beast was unperturbed. Locking its ruby red eyes on the blonde with the intense desire to fill its master’s wishes with no regard to its own wellbeing. The scary creature utterly horrified sailor Moon, but her concern for her downed guardian helped motivate her to conquer her fears. She waved her wand at the beast, summoning a flash of brilliant light. The rat’s eyes blinked back to normal for a moment and he scurried away, much to her surprise. 

Usagi gasped in relief, staring at her moon stick in disbelief. Did it have the power to undo the Rat King’s hypnotic flute?

“MOON TWILIGHT FLASH!” she pointed the wand at the pile of rats hovering over her swarmed companion. A crescent-shaped blast of radiant light barreled down the tunnel, overtaking all the rodents. The moon’s brilliant essence engulfed the vermin on top of Sailor Mars, returning their red eyes back to normal. They blinked in confusion, jumping off the prone senshi before scattering away.

“You... fool!” Rei muttered as she struggled to get to her feet with no assistance. Blood was trickling down her face and other cuts and scratches lined all over her arms and legs from the vicious claws and teeth. She was battered and bloody, too weak to fight and protect Sailor Moon any further at the moment. Surviving would only be a burden to Usagi and hurt her chances of making it out of here alive. “Why didn’t you just escape?”

“I will never abandon you!” Usagi brandished her pink wand. “Besides, the rats are gone see? I freed them from the rat king’s control!”

The faint sound of the flute reverberated through the narrow tunnel once again. The scurrying rats halted in their tracks and turned back around, their eyes once again turning red from the rat king’s hypnotic melody. Sailor Moon’s victory had been very short-lived.

“Uh oh, not again!” Usagi whimpered as the drooling horde of brainwashed rodents started marching back in their direction. She gripped Sailor Mars’ torn glove and pulled her wounded friend towards the locked door. The rats’ ruby red eyes were brighter than ever, and the rat king had apparently sent even more reinforcements that climbed over the charred corpses of their predecessors. Sailor Moon knew they were done for if she did not find a way to get that door open. She gripped her tiara and called out the words for her attack. “MOON TIARA ACTION!”

She flung the shimmering headpiece at the gate and grabbed Mars tightly, hurtling towards the door as best she could before the rats caught up to them. A dazzling sparkle filled the narrow pipe as Sailor Moon threw their bodies forward. The squealing of rats could be heard as she fell flat on her face after bursting through the sealed exit. The tiara had fortunately broken through the door, giving them passage into the next tunnel and another opportunity to get away from the vile pests.

“USAGI!!!!” Sailor Mars felt herself slipping away from her friend and into an unknown abyss. It was too late before the girls realized that this next tunnel began at a steep incline and descended into darkness. The disgusting water combined with the downward slope caused the senshi to slide down the pitch-black tunnel at tremendous speed, as if they were in a water park.

“YAHHH!!!” Usagi screamed at the top of her lungs. Normally she enjoyed thrilling rides like this, but she did not have her boyfriend Mamoru to cling onto. She closed her eyes out of instinct, but it wouldn’t have mattered since it was pitch black inside the tunnel with zero visibility. Her slim body whirled around a curve, the fast-flowing waters only increasing her speed as she dropped deeper and deeper.

Finally Usagi found herself being spat out of the pipe as if someone had fired her out of a cannon. She soared through the air for a moment until gravity caught up to her and she plummeted like a rock, letting out another deafening scream, not knowing what waited for her below. Thankfully, she landed in a large pool of icy cold water. She sank at least ten feet below the surface from the fierce impact of her crash. Sailor Moon swam up for a gasp of air and immediately spotted her weakened companion splashing her arms wildly to keep her head above the water. Mars tried to call out for help, but her black mop of hair kept dipping below the surface. Usagi knew her friend was a poor swimmer and that she would drown if she didn’t do something. She fought against a strong current and seized hold of her guardian, dragging her over to a ledge where she pushed Mars to safety.

Chapter Text

Chapter 133:

“I...really... hate... the... water.” a battered and soaked Rei lay sprawled out on the grimy surface of a balcony, coughing water profusely. This was the second time in a single day that she had nearly drowned. How many more times could she cheat death? Sailor Moon had saved her life this time, but if her vision were to come to pass, then she could not return the favor if they made it out of here alive. They would both soon die at the hands of Queen Beryl and the encroaching entity of the Supreme Evil Metalia. This little misadventure was only delaying the inevitable.

“Why do you look so glum! We escaped that vile Rat King and his minions. Now let’s go find April and those turtles!” a peppy and overexcited Sailor Moon helped her guardian sit back up. “Thank goodness you are alright!”

 Usagi could not help herself as their eyes met. She wrapped her arms around Rei tightly, forcing the stunned girl to spit out even more water from her squeezed lungs. Rei stared back blankly, unable to clear her mind of the awful image of Sailor Moon’s imminent demise. How could her scatter brained companion remain so positive and optimistic even in these dire circumstances? April was long gone and the turtles could be anywhere. Ami and Makoto were missing, and they were running out of time to stop Queen Beryl’s diabolical plan. Every minute they wasted in these sewers was granting Beryl and her allies more time to steal energy to call forth the Supreme Evil to their world. Part of her wanted to snap Usagi out of it and bring her back to their grim reality. Instead, she rested her head on her shoulder and returned the embrace for just a moment, for this could be the last hug she ever received.

“I wouldn’t say that just yet.” Mars grimaced as she fought her way out of the hug and climbed onto her feet. She summoned a ball of fire into her open hands and cast it into the darkness beyond to light up the hall. The body of water that they had fallen into was not a simple pool. It was a river running through a wide gaping chamber, even larger than the nexus above. Water flowed out of numerous pipes, feeding the river like an endless barrage of waterfalls, but what lay beyond that was even more amazing. A makeshift castle came into view, stretching up to the high ceiling. It was composed entirely of metal barrels, tin cans, plastic bottles, cardboard boxes and whatever discarded waste that was harvested from the endless river that flanked the castle on both sides like a moat. Pairs of beady red eyes peaked through openings in the derelict structure, further illuminating the vast cavern. They had not escaped the Rat King, they had only fallen even further into his clutches. “We need to get out of here, now!”

“This way!” Sailor Moon ran on her red boots down the narrow platform, running alongside the river. They were completely lost in an underground realm hidden away in the depths below New York City. The very thought of it filled her with dread. If only Tuxedo Mask could save the day and bring them to safety. Too bad he was thousands of miles away. Her heart longed for Mamoru, even in this tense moment. Their awful fight before her departure was always at the forefront of her mind.

 Sailor Moon did not know where else to go, but running away from the Rat King’s scary castle seemed like the best idea at the moment. A bloody Sailor Mars kept pace, hampered by the countless scratches and cuts she had sustained.

The sound of a roaring engine rose above the hissing and squealing of the possessed army of rats just as they reached a brick wall at the end of the platform. Another unfortunate dead end. Sailor Moon turned to find a hovercraft blinking with electronic gizmos floating above the river and heading in their direction. The disheveled Rat King grinned from the cockpit of his mechanical craft, tightly gripping a set of handlebars with his eyes locked on his two targets. The bizarre vessel was equipped with an array of deadly weapons, including what looked like a machine gun and even a rocket launcher. Mars gasped at the sight of their foe and desperately searched for a tunnel, a pipe or any crack or crevice along the brick wall that they could squeeze into, but came up empty-handed in her search. The only avenue of escape available to them was the river, but that would mean certain death thanks to her inferior swimming skills.

“I SHALL EXTERMINATE ALL THOSE VILE NON-RODENTS WHO RESIST MY RULE!” the creep shouted from atop his hovercraft. “THE AGE OF THE RATS IS UPON US! AND I SHALL BE ITS HERALD!”

“You will never win this war!” Sailor Mars barked back. She refused to be intimidated by this ragged madman. “Your disgusting rats only follow you because you control them with that golden flute! They want no part of this and you are no king! Just a creep with a magical trinket who belongs down here in the sewers because he can’t fit in with society. In the name of mars, I shall not allow you to spread disease and pestilence in this wonderful city! Your reign ends here and now!”

“BWAHAHA!” the rat king laughed off her threatening remarks and pressed a button on his control panel, activating one of his weapon systems. A red rocket fired out of a cannon on top of the hovercraft, hurtling their way with a trail of fire and smoke.

 “LOOK OUT!” Sailor Moon grabbed her guardian and leapt off the ledge and into the sewer river. The soaring rocket slammed into the brick wall where the senshi had just stood, obliterating it with a fiery explosion that filled the chamber with a searing wave of heat. Chunks of rock and stone collapsed into the river as the smoking fireball spread, melting through the brick and other debris.

“I’ve got you!” Sailor Moon reassured her companion before she sank below the surface. She tried to swim away with her friend in tow, distancing herself from the fiery blast radius until the Rat King’s hovercraft came buzzing towards them. He pressed another button on his raft, but this one thankfully did not fire another missile. Instead, it summoned a black projectile that popped in midair. The stunned senshi found themselves wrapped up in a nylon fishing net. They desperately tried to keep their heads above water and break out of the tough webbing, but it was no use.

“It is I who has you both trapped like a couple of mangy mice, I believe!” the rat king mocked, pushing another button on his grid to reel the two girls in. “l shall acquaint my rats with the taste of human flesh tonight!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 134:

“Not so fast, sleazeball!” A sharp sword sliced down on the rope, severing the caught senshi from the Rat King’s pulley. Another pair of green hands ripped through the black netting with ease and pulled the senshi free. Sailor Moon found herself sopping wet and standing on top of a surfboard controlled by the ninja turtle with the blue mask that she had met on the ferry.

      Another mutant turtle wearing an orange mask helped Mars on top of a mechanized surfboard. This one had a goofy face compared to his stern companion and wielded a pair of nunchaku. Rei hesitated for a moment, but accepted his slimy hand and begrudgingly allowed him to pull her out of the river. The very sight of the ugly creatures repulsed her, but she did not sense any evil essence within them. These so-called ninja turtles were not youma, demons, or corrupted souls like the Rat King. Maybe Usagi’s outlandish plan of seeking their help would work, but first they had to get away from the Rat King.

“You again?” The leader sheathed his bladed weapon behind his shell and gave the two girls a dour glance. “Hey Mikey, looks like we found the intruders stalking April.”

“I’m so sorry about that, Leonardo!” Sailor Moon recalled the swordsman’s name. “Please let me explain.”

“MORE TRESSPASSERS?” The rat king interrupted the brief conversation, running his oversized hands over his control board and activating more electronic gadgets on his craft. “THESE SEWERS ARE NO LONGER BIG ENOUGH TO HOUSE YOU TURTLES AND MY KINGDOM ANY LONGER! I SHALL DESTROY YOU AND FINALLY EXPAND MY EMPIRE OUT INTO THE SURFACE WORLD!

“We will talk later.” Leonardo nodded at the pigtailed sailor senshi. “But first we need to take care of this little rat problem!”

“YIKES!” Michelangelo pointed at the Rat King, who took a grenade out of his ragged garments and launched it their way. “LOOK OUT, DUDES!”

“Hold on to our shells!” Leonardo warned the sailors as he sped after the Rat King on his mechanized surfboard.

Sailor Mars’ jaw dropped as the grenade came hurtling right at them. She gripped her turtle’s protective shell and shut her eyes, bracing for an explosive demise, but the mutant whacked away the grenade with his nunchaku without a second thought to it. The bomb sank into the water and exploded, its aftershock reverberating throughout the river.

“YAHH!!!” Sailor moon squealed as her surfboard rode the wave that sent her and the turtle flying though the dank sewer. The clumsy girl could not maintain her balance and she slipped off the board, but the turtle caught her in midair with ninja-like reflexes and returned her to safety at his side once they touched back down onto the flowing river.

A crashing wave allowed Leonardo to close some ground on the Rat King. The pale-faced villain’s eyes widened in surprise as the turtle drew his katana and banged it against the craft, hoping to damage its controls. Rat King mashed buttons on his panel and sent his hovercraft in reverse to gain separation. His palm smashed down on several big buttons, activating more of his weapon systems.

Spiked balls spat out of a cannon mounted on top of the hovercraft craft and floated in place on top of the water while the Rat King’s makeshift vessel reversed itself at a blazing speed. The two turtles maneuvered their boards around the deadly buoys with ease, but it became a much more arduous task when the Rat King pushed another button, firing a barrage of rockets and torpedoes their way.

The two Sailors clung onto the turtle’s shells for dear life. Explosions rocked the sewers when the projectiles missed their intended target and blew up into the brick walls and sewer pipes alongside the river. Michelangelo nearly lost control of his board when he swerved around a missile and grazed along one of the sharp metal buoys.

“MY TOES, MY TOES!” the frantic turtle jumped up and down in a mad panic and nearly lost control of his surfboard.

“WATCH OUT!” Sailor Mars shifted grabbed the turtle’s shell and shifted their weight to veer the board out of the way just in time to avoid an oncoming missile. Searing heat of the blast radius nearly caught her sailor suit on fire as chunks of rock and other debris fell from the ceiling threatened to crush her head.

“I’ll distract him.” Leonardo pulled his surfboard alongside his brother to make sure he was alright and deliver his plan. “I need you two to close in on the rat king and destroy that craft of his. You’ll know when the moment’s right to strike!”

“I gotcha, bro!” Mikey leapt the surfboard over a row of spiked balls blocking their path and sped up his pace. Mars glanced over her shoulder and tried to monitor Sailor Moon, but it was nearly impossible to do so on these fast moving boards. She had no choice but to trust in the turtle to protect Sailor Moon. In turn, she would do whatever it took to put an end to the vile rat king’s reign.

Chapter Text

Chapter 135

“I can help!” Sailor Moon wailed. She had her arms and legs wrapped around the turtle’s rough shell like a barnacle. The zooming motion of the surfboard had her feeling woozy. Everything was moving so fast around her that she could not focus, but she was still determined to provide any assistance she could to her newfound ally.

“Just hang on tight!” Leonardo ordered with a commanding voice. He knew that his devised plan would work against their insane foe. The only thing that could jeopardize it was this clumsy girl if she were to fall off the board or get in his way. It was a tall order for him to protect the klutz that had fallen into his lap and defeat the wannabe monarch, all while avoiding the many deadly obstacles in his path. He remembered back to Master Splinter’s teachings. The old sensei had taught him to keep his mind clear of all thought in these tough situations.

 Splinter’s raspy voice rang in his mind, reminding him to rely on the long hours spent training with his brothers and practicing kata to prepare for these life or death moments. If you have done so, then your ninja skills will manifest. Never give in to fear. Prepare yourself for death at all times and you might live. Do not hesitate when it is time to strike.

“But...” Sailor Moon whimpered from atop the turtle’s back. All she wanted to do was prove to the mutant that she was worthy of being his friend. Her attacks may not have worked on their arch-enemy back on the ferry, but that did not mean she was weak, like he assumed. These mutants were excellent fighters from what she had seen, and she could sure use their help in the battles ahead, but she desperately wanted to show Leonardo that sometimes victory could be achieved without violence. If only she could talk to the Rat King one more time. Maybe she could find the root of his resentment towards society and convince him to stop all this hostility!

“Missed me, cheese breath! Is that all you got?” Leonardo mocked the villain, who could be seen gripping the handlebars of his hovercraft. "You and your rats are no match for turtle power! Why don’t you crawl back into that dumpster of a castle you live in and scavenge for more scraps!"

“RATS ARE SUPERIOR TO HUMANS AND TURTLES ALIKE!“ the Rat King jumped out of his seat and grabbed his flute. “ALLOW ME TO PROVE IT TO YOU...”

“YAHH!” Sailor Moon shrieked as beady eyed rats dropped from the ceiling and jump out of cracks and holes in the wall at the hypnotic melody of the golden instrument. One white-haired critter landed right on top of her head and started nipping away at her buns, its eyes red under the spell of its controller. The panicky girl inadvertently wrapped her hands around the turtle’s blue mask, blocking his vision as she desperately thrashed her head about, but Leonardo still maneuvered his board around the raining mess of rats and missiles until he could rip away her gloved hands.  

“I WILL DESTROY YOU FOR MAKING A MOCKERY OF MY KINGDOM! I HAVE STRENGTH IN NUMBERS. THE AMOUNT OF MY LOYAL SUBJECTS IS ENDLESS. I CANNOT BE STOPPED!” The frustrated rat king pounded away at his buttons. He left the cockpit and grabbed hold of the mounted machine gun and fired it sporadically. Sailor Moon pressed her face against the turtle’s rough shell for protection as live rounds whizzed by her head. Leonardo grabbed his katana and waved his twin blades in an arc to deflect any oncoming bullets while continuing to avoid the rats, spiked buoys and rockets all deployed to dispatch him and his female rider. He now had the total focus of the crazed Rat King and hoped that his brother Mikey would take full advantage of it.

Michelangelo and Sailor Mars pulled alongside the Rat King’s Hovercraft undetected while the sadistic villain squeezed the trigger of his machine gun, firing wildly out into the river. Flashes of gunfire lit up the madman’s pale face as he lusted for the death of the two trespassers.

He was so fixated on Leonardo that he did not realize another turtle had snuck right up from under him. Mikey swung his nunchaku into the side of the hovercraft with reckless abandon. The mutant pounded away at the vessel and even threw in a few powerful kicks into the system, destroying some of its electronic gizmos and disabling the rocket launcher and buoy cannon from firing. Sailor Mars watched in awe as the ninja pulverized the metal craft with brute force until smoke began the emit from all the damage it had sustained. The ninja turtle was lightning quick, yet extremely strong. They would make tremendous allies in the fight against Beryl. It gave her a sliver of hope that the terrifying sight of her slain friend could be avoided.   

     The smoking fuselage finally caught the attention of the Rat King, who released his hold of the mounted machine gun after running out of ammunition.

“I’LL MAKE YOU PAY FOR THIS!" The muscular Rat King hissed. He stomped over to the unsuspecting turtle and socked him in his goofy green face with a vicious hook punch. “I’LL BLOW THESE SEWERS TO SMITHERIEANS IF NECCESSARY!”

“Shell shocked!” Michelangelo wobbled on the board and collapsed into the river, taking the red skirted Sailor Senshi with him into the murky waters. A sopping Mars scrambled back onto the board, only to see the Rat King snickering as he climbed back into his cockpit. He gave an insulting wave goodbye to the wet Sailor Mars as the craft pulled a quick U-turn and sped away, retreating towards his castle to restock his explosive weaponry or perhaps to retrieve a deadly bomb capable of obliterating the entire underground system like he had threatened earlier.

 More smoke had poured out of the failing craft, filling up the sewers with a smell of gasoline or whatever fuel source powered the strange vehicle. The Rat King laughed as he distanced himself from the turtles and headed towards his rundown castle. He must have thought that he was making a clean getaway, but Sailor Mars would not allow him to succeed. If he wanted to get back to his castle so badly, then he would send him there in a brilliant ball of fire! She balanced herself on the shaky surfboard and closed her eyes for a moment to focus. When her eyes snapped open, she shouted the words to her attack while whipping her gloved fingers in a circular motion.

“BURNING MANDALA!” Five rings of searing flame materialized one by one before the radiant Sailor Senshi. Heat and fire surged around her body, filling Mars with vigor. The scratches and cuts she had sustained in battle melted away, and all of her aches and pains evaporated from the fiery embrace. The flaming rings spun faster and faster into a fierce whirlwind of fire before she finally released her hold, casting them out at the fleeing hovercraft.

The burning rings soared through the dank chamber, flaring up the sewers with an awesome glow until they bombarded into the Rat King’s damaged vessel one right after the other. The makeshift craft immediately caught fire and erupted with a violent explosion in a matter of seconds. It broke apart into a million pieces of shrapnel, but the protective cockpit was sent hurtling into the dilapidated castle like a shooting star crossing the night sky.

The sadistic Rat King’s wails of terror could be heard as his fiery chariot crashed into his proud castle, knocking it down like a bowling ball bursting through a set of tenpins for a strike. Oil barrels and tankards ignited into a wildfire, spreading the blaze to the boxes, plastics and other trash and debris comprising his home.

“COWABUNGA!” The orange masked turtle raised his hand for the Sailor to slap in celebration. “That was totally awesome, dudette! Where’d you learn to do that? I bet you could heat a cold pizza in no time with those powers. Must come in handy when you are hungry, huh?”

“Cowabunga?” Mars gave the mutant an awkward glance after giving him a quick high five. Adrenaline surged through her body at the sight of her fiery victory, forcing a grin to appear on her usually stern face. She couldn’t help but admit that it felt great fighting at Sailor Moon’s side once again after such a long time. The fire within left her feeling unstoppable and with a renewed sense of confidence. But the smirk quickly evaporated when she thought again of her missing friends, Ami, and Makoto. She was a fool to celebrate such a hollow victory when she still had to atone for her past mistakes. Her friends were put in harm’s way because of her and she could never forgive herself for that, even if Usagi found it in her heart to do so. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 136:

An orange glow illuminated the murky sewer, its light reflecting off of the fast-moving river that flowed into the darkness beyond its reach. Leaping flames devoured what remained of the Rat King’s smoldering castle. Bits and pieces of scrap metal and other miscellaneous junk fell down one by one, clanging against the grime covered platform or splashing into the river while the fire slowly consumed the structure. The once arrogant monarch sobbed in the distance from within his derelict home. He had survived his collision thanks to the protective cockpit, but remained trapped under a pile of charred rubble. Rats raced everywhere. Their once crimson eyes had turned back to normal. Hordes of them jumped out of the dilapidated structure, scurrying away into pipes or cracks, abandoning their master to save their own hides.

“DON’T LEAVE ME MY SUBJECTS!” the ragged figure bellowed at the top of his lungs. His deep voice echoed throughout the sewers, reverberating over the roasting flames and crumbling castle. “PLEASE, I BEG OF YOU!”

“Take me over to that castle.” Sailor Moon demanded, bopping the top of the surfboarding mutant’s shell to get his attention. “The rat man needs our help!”

“We need to be careful.” Leonardo surfed over to the platform. He agreed that it would be dishonorable to just leave the Rat King to suffer this cruel fate, but they must exercise extreme caution. The ragged rogue was a very devious and dangerous individual who could not be trusted."It might be a trap."

“I’m willing to take that risk.” The over emotional senshi jumped off of the mutant’s protective exterior and landed safely with her red boots on the elevated surface, moon stick in hand. Remnants of the Rat King’s hovercraft lay buried under a ton of debris, and his metal cage was bent and twisted in a way that he could not escape despite the strength of his muscular biceps. The flames were getting dangerously close to his position and if that didn’t kill him, the toxic fumes of black smoke spreading around them soon would.

“Forgive me for what I’ve done!” tears streamed down his pale face as the Rat King begged. He pushed with all his might and pounded his hefty fists against the confinement, desperate to escape his dwelling just like his pet rats, but the metal cage would not budge."Find it in your heart to show some mercy to this poor freak."

“Are you truly sorry for what you’ve done?” Sailor Moon asked, pausing a safe distance away, but the warmth of the fire was close enough to caress her skin. Leonardo had rushed up to her side, eyeing the Rat King suspiciously as he drew his twin swords for her protection, just in case. Mars and Michelangelo were not too far behind."Why would you say and do such terrible things?"

“I served in the military... Special Forces, to be exact... When I... got back from the war... life was very hard.” the tattered man dipped his head to avoid eye contact with the blonde. He was trembling and barely coherent, forcing her to take another step closer. “Being a soldier was all I knew... all I ever had... but...I found myself homeless...  and...with no family... no friends... nothing...”

“That’s terrible!” Sailor Moon could not help but feel pity for this strange man. The ragged yet muscular figure had looked intimidating and scary during their battle, but now he looked weak and pathetic. Hearing his story only made her more sympathetic. Her heart went out to him, and she wanted to help. “I’m sure there are people who still care about you.” 

“No...The only ones I could count on were these rats you see here.” he shook his head. “They became my friends... my family! I built this home for my unappreciated pets until your friend burned my haven to the ground.”

“Only after you tried to kill us!” Mars interrupted. She did not trust this freak, no matter what excuses he came up with. “And planned to invade the city with your army of disgusting and disease carrying pests!”

“My rats are unappreciated animals, cast aside by humanity as if they are a nuisance unworthy of being alive... Just like my poor self.” the rat king whimpered as he gestured at his golden flute lying next to him. “When I found this instrument and discovered its ability to control rats, I thought it would give me the opportunity to take everything I ever wanted, recognition and respect for myself and the rats as well! But I was wrong! Please get me out of here!”

“I’m not buying this!” Mars started. “I think you are absolutely insane...”

“I am so sorry for the way you’ve been treated. Nobody deserves to feel that they are all alone in life.” Sailor Moon interrupted her guardian before she could hurl another insult at the misunderstood homeless veteran. Despite their obvious differences, she understood where the Rat King was coming from. She knew all too well how miserable being lonely could make someone feel. Loneliness could lead to making poor choices, like the one she made to follow Rei here to New York City. She broke past Mars and the turtles and pulled on the wrought iron bars of the cage with all her might. “I’ll prove to you that there are still plenty of good people in this world, who have it our heart to forgive our enemies and always help those in need! I care about you, even though you are a stranger! You are not alone in this world!”

“Really?” The Rat King’s eyes lit up in disbelief as he pushed against the metal grate, adding his strength to Sailor Moon. The fire was spreading, threatening to reach his position in the cage. “Even after all I’ve done to harm you?”

“EEE!”Sailor Moon tugged on the bars, exerting all of her energy to free the Rat King, but it was clearly not enough. Mars hesitated for a moment, but when a teary-eyed Sailor Moon glanced her way, she hurried over and helped. Although it went against her instinct to free this shady character, she could not help but admire Usagi’s pure heart. The two turtles followed suit and ripped the metal cage away with ease.

Chapter Text

Chapter 137:

“FOOLISH GIRL!” The Rat King grabbed his golden flute and nimbly rolled through Michelangelo’s legs before the daydreaming mutant could catch him. The dexterous rogue scrambled up to the top of the pile of ashes and garbage that remained of his castle and played his magical instrument, once again summoning his fleeing army of possessed minions. “YOU LIE! THERE ARE NO GOOD HUMANS LEFT! YOU WILL NOT DECEIVE ME!”

“What a total bummer, dudes!” the party-going turtle twirled his nunchaku as red eyes twinkled throughout the cavern. “These rats need to take a chill pill!”

“MY SONG WILL REACH EVERY RAT IN THESE SEWERS!” the mad man bellowed down at his foes. “THEY WILL NOT STOP UNTIL EACH OF YOU ARE TORN LIMB FROM LIMB... EVEN YOUR MASTER SPLINTER WILL NOT BE ABLE TO RESIST MY COMMANDS!”

“MY HONORABLE SENSEI WOULD NEVER TAKE ORDERS FROM THE LIKES OF YOU!” Leonardo squeezed the grips of his twin swords, ready to carve his way to over to the Rat King and finish what they had started. The very mention of his ailing sensei filled him with grief, but he dared not react to his emotions with anger like his brother Raphael would.

“HMMPH! WE SHALL SEE ABOUT THAT, TURTLE!” The rat king grinned. “COME UP HERE AND FACE ME, IF YOU DARE!”

“IN THE NAME OF MARS I SHALL CHASTISE YOU FOR YOUR INSOLENCE!” A scowl crossed Sailor Mars’ face. The audacious Rat King had taken advantage of Sailor Moon’s kind gesture and put them back in harm’s way. She clasped her hands together and closed her eyes, letting fire course through her body, extending to her fingertips as she prepared to roast their enemy and all of his vile pets before the katana wielding turtle could reach him.

“WAIT! STOP IT! NO MORE FIGHTING!” Sailor Moon burst in front of her allies and approached the Rat King, climbing up the mountainous piles of garbage on her hands and knees to get closer to the king’s position. Possessed rats nipped and scratched at her, but she ignored their relentless assault until she made it to the top of the hill. “I’m not lying to you, I swear it! I know how terrible it feels to be alone, but you are taking this way too far!”

“STAND BACK!” the rat king barked, freezing Sailor Moon in place. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a hand grenade, holding it above his head threateningly. “I NO LONGER HAVE ANY DESIRE FOR HUMAN COMPANIONSHIP. MY ARMY OF RATS WILL HELP ME CONQUER THIS WORLD!”

“A true king...” Sailor Moon spoke softly as she held her hand out to stop her guardian and the two turtles from racing up the mound of junk to her rescue. Their presence would only antagonize their enemy further. She needed to do this alone.

The red eyes of millions of possessed rats were on her, watching her every move with their jaws clenched, ready to tear her apart once their master gave the order. Her attempts to persuade the Rat King had failed thus far, but she refused to give up on him. The Rat King had sacrificed much for his country, serving in the military to keep the people safe from foreign threats. Deep down inside, there must be a goodness within his soul. She would find it, even if it meant teaching him a valuable lesson. Her legs shook in fear of what she was about to say next, but it had to be done.

“A queen... or even a princess... must lead by example and rule their subjects with their best interests at heart. Loyalty and trust must be earned by performing good deeds, it cannot be forced by some magical instrument! I cannot forgive you for taking advantage of these furry creatures and manipulating them for your own selfish goals! You are no king! Your rats only follow you because you dictate their actions!”

“SILENCE!” the rat king roared in fury.Her strong words had struck a chord, sending the pale faced mad man into rage. He pressed the golden flute to his lips and played a tune. “ATTACK HER MY MINIONS!”

“SAILOR MOON!” an anxious Mars rushed up the hill in her red heels as an endless horde of rats swarmed around her. She cast a ball of fire into their vicinity, blazing a trail that incinerated all vermin in her path. What was Sailor Moon thinking! How could she expect to reason with this lunatic! She regretted allowing Usagi to leave her side to attempt this fruitless negotiation after the Rat King had proven to be untrustworthy. The Rat King better pray she did not reach him if her best friend was indeed harmed.

The turtles fought alongside the fiery Mars, swinging their ninja weapons to clear a path through the trail of flames only to find a defiant Sailor Moon standing still on the summit of the mountain of trash with her moon stick held high in her outstretched hands. The moon crystal shimmered with blinding light as she called out the words to her spell.

“MOON HEALING ESCALATION!” Sailor Moon spun her pink wand in a wide arc, spreading its radiant magic to all ends of the chamber. Millions of the hypnotized rats froze in place for a moment until the redness controlling their eyes evaporated, finally freeing them of the rat king’s foul magic. The sewers were no longer illuminated by the crimson evil of the mesmerized vermin, instead the chamber was now dominated by the glittery light pouring from Sailor Moon’s powerful moon stick.

“What the...That’s not possible!”The Rat King gaped, staring at his unconstrained subjects in bewilderment. He immediately raised the flute to his lips to play another melody, but Sailor Moon lunged with her Moon Stick and knocked the golden instrument right out of his meaty hands before he could do so. The mysterious gadget trickled down the trash heap until it rolled into the river and sank beneath the surface.

“NOOO!!!” His eyes widened as the magical recorder disappeared into the abyss of the murky waters flowing alongside the ruined castle. “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!”

 The Rat King abandoned his fight with Sailor Moon and descended to the remains of his castle. Nothing else mattered to him then, getting that flute back. Without it, he was nothing. The rats would no longer heed his call, foiling his plans of world domination. He could not obtain justice... for the rats and himself... if it were lost.

“OUT OF MY WAY!” A swarm of rats awaited him at the bottom of the platform, blocking his path to the moat’s edge. The frantic rat king started by nudging away his vermin, but the furry rodents of all sizes and colors kept pestering him with increased numbers, jumping on his combat boots and climbing up his broad shoulders to slow his progress. “I NEED THAT FLUTE!”

The frustrated monarch then resorted to kicking away his rats and throwing them off his body in a rage, but an endless supply of vermin kept coming to stop him. One sank its jagged teeth deep into his thigh, forcing the once mighty king to his knees, saturating the dirty rags covering his body with blood. He desperately crawled towards the bank of the river until throngs of hissing rats from every recess of the sewers piled on top of him, fighting amongst themselves for room to scratch and bite their master in order to prevent him from retrieving his prized object.

Chapter Text

Chapter 138:

“It’s over!” Leonardo thrust the point of his razor-sharp katana down at the Rat King’s face. Only his wide eyes and parts of his pale face were visible from the mass of squeaking rats encasing their ruler. The horde of furious rodents searched for an opening to sink their teeth into his body as an act of revenge. Despite the agonizing pain, the Rat King still stretched a lanky arm out towards the waters one last time, but rodents kept nipping at his fingers, tearing through the dirty rags covering his hands and forearms.

“Go on then.” the despondent rat king finally muttered in defeat, collapsing face first onto the grimy sewer floor. More noisy vermin appeared out of hiding, scrambling on top of the downed human to the point that you could not make out his muscular body. “Finish me off... I have nothing to live for... Without my rats to lead... I am worthless... I have failed them…”

“That’s not true!” Sailor Moon brushed past the turtle and waved her wand. A magnificent aura continued to emanate from her magical weapon, entrancing the irritated rodents. One by one the noisy rats jumped off their master’s back and scurry into hiding, disappearing into pipes, through cracks in the walls or under piles of garbage until all that remained was the beaten and battered rogue lying prone on the sewer floor, utterly abandoned by all of his subjects.

“The earth is facing an existential threat, Mister Rat King.” Sailor Moon took a knee by the defeated man and looked into his eyes, no longer intimidated by his scary presence. “A terrible evil has awakened and is gathering strength at this very moment. If our enemies are successful, then this threat will conquer the world of humans and rats alike! I know you don’t want to see that happen!”

“I can’t…” he muttered in utter disbelief that this strange girl with soaring blonde pigtails wearing a sailor suit was asking for his help. “I…”

“Don’t waste your breath.” Leonardo intruded before the rat king could continue mumbling. He put his swords back into their sheaths and turned his back on his pathetic adversary. The once mighty Rat King was no longer a threat without his flute, and even if he retrieved it, he doubted the rogue would bother anyone with his maniacal plans for a long time. He would spend months, if not years, scavenging the sewers for scraps and junk to rebuild his castle. The turtles would have to keep their eyes out on him, but they had more imminent concerns. “You won’t get through to him, no matter what you say. He only thinks of himself!”

“He’s right, Usagi. We cannot trust that maniac!” Sailor Mars eyed the madman suspiciously as she grabbed her companion’s arm and tugged her back on to her feet and away from the wheezing rogue. She struggled to contain her anger at Sailor Moon’s stupidity while dragging her forcibly to the turtle’s surfboards at the end of the platform. It was one thing to have empathy and show mercy to a defeated enemy, but to beg for their help in their fight against Beryl? She would never understand Usagi’s eternal hopefulness and faith in even the most wicked individuals, but deep down she admired her for it.

“We have much to discuss in our hideout.” The dour turtle bent down on one knee to let the girl hop onto his shell. “Forget about him.”

“I believe in you, Mister Rat King!” Sailor Moon shouted over the mutant’s green head while zooming past the inflamed ruins of the dilapidated castle. The fallen Rat King glanced her way in confusion at her persistent kindness. Despite their warnings, she refused to give up hope he might change his heart. With some of her guardians still missing, they would need all the help they could get in the upcoming battle, especially if the Supreme Evil invaded the earth. It was worth taking the chance, and she had faith that he would reward her conviction. “You don’t need that stupid flute. Love your pet rats, treat them like they are your best friends, not just soldiers, and they will follow you! Be the type of King you would want to follow into battle!”

Chapter Text

Act VI: Dark Awakenings

Chapter 139:

“Preparations are now complete. We are now on schedule to proceed with our next strike tomorrow evening.” Master Shredder took a knee before his beautiful Queen. His desire for Beryl only increased the more time he spent with her, despite his efforts to quell the increasing attraction. The memories of her rotten corpse rising out of the enchanted tomb were long forgotten, but he knew that getting romantically involved with this woman could pose trouble. The more energy he delivered from the dregs of New York, the more alluring the witch became. Her wild red hair and nails grew longer, her soft skin appeared radiant and youthful. Even her body shape looked more curvaceous. Then he reminded himself that this convenient alliance was about taking revenge on his arch nemesis by killing the ninja turtles. He would have to deal with her once they accomplished this task and conquered the world using that abomination shadowing over them. No way was he sharing his rule, no matter how tempting his Queen may be. That cloud would answer to him and do his bidding, if he had the onyx crystal in his possession.

“Good.” Beryl smirked at her Heavenly King and stood from the throne set up in the center of the ruined castle’s central hall. The swirling cloud of Metalia spun faster and faster over their heads, still growing in strength from the vast amount of human energy collected during the recent attacks on the ferry and library. Everything was falling into place exactly how she had envisioned. If her puppet was to be successful in their next attack, then Metalia would have enough power to break through this outer-dimensional prison and invade the earth. Victory was within her grasp at long last. The Sailor Senshi and all those who opposed her would face her wrath, and she would enjoy every second of it, starting right now. “I have just one favor to ask of you.”

“What is it?” Shredder glanced up at his Queen. His eyes found her heels and followed up her form fitting purple dress all the way to her fierce eyes. She strolled past him, giggling seductively as she walked toward the magical barrier containing her two prisoners with her onyx crystal capstone leading her path. He stayed close, taking in her intoxicating perfume through his metal helmet, lusting for both his Queen and the power of her silver staff.

“AMI THE GENIOUS…” Rei’s sarcastic voice rang relentlessly within Ami Mizuno’s mind, followed by mocks and jeers from various classmates from her troublesome time in high-school. “SHE’S SO STRANGE… WHAT A WEIRDO… DOES SHE EVEN HAVE ANY FRIENDS? USAGI MUST REALLY BE DESPERATE TO IMPROVE HER GRADES….” 

“SORRY I’M ON AN EMERGENCY CALL FOR THE WEEKEND AMI, MAKE SURE YOU STUDY WHILE I AM GONE.” Her mother slammed the front door shut, leaving her alone in the darkness of their tiny apartment.

“AMI THE GENIOUS! AMI THE GENIOUS! AMI THE GENIOUS! I AM DONE WITH YOU! ITS YOUR FAULT! I’M DONE WITH YOU! I’M DONE WITH YOU!!!” Rei’s visage appeared in her mind’s eye with a scowl of anger and vehemence across her face.

Mercury awoke from her nightmare, only to find Queen Beryl glaring down at her inmate with a sinister grin. The pulsating stone resting atop her staff pounded Ami’s brain, filling her with more negativity and dark thoughts throughout her captivity. The emotional abuse that the crystal the afflicted upon her was far worse than any of the physical harm she had received at the hands of Shredder and the youma in the library. Beryl was trying to crush her will and spirit with this brainwashing until she agreed to join forces against Sailor Moon, but she refused to break. The ninja turtle Raphael gave her strength and motivation to resist, but she was slowly losing this battle.

She had formed an interesting bond with the mutant during their torment, and they soon relied on one another for strength. Raphael explained everything from their origin to their battle on the Technodrome and how he ended up here trying to find a cure for their ailing master.

“If we escape this place…” Ami vowed to the turtle. “I promise I’ll do everything in my power to cure your sensei.”

Ami found herself fascinated by the ninja turtles and was eager to learn even more about them. Perhaps even conduct a scientific study and analysis of the creatures, if she was lucky enough to get out of here. The dynamic of the four brothers strangely reminded her of the Sailor Team. They seemed to share a lot of similarities, despite being so vastly different. Happy-go-lucky Minako matched Raphael’s description of his party going, pizza loving brother Michelangelo, and she had the same role as Donatello, being the brains of the operation. Makoto would love to learn the art of ninjitsu from their Master Splinter. She would probably spend the rest of the trip in their secluded dojo beneath the city, training with swords and other ninja weapons, only coming back to the surface to watch sports. But what struck her the most was Raphael’s description of his friction filled relationship with his brother Leonardo. Leo was the leader of the ninjas and often got into scuffles with his brother over various disagreements regarding their tactics and attack strategy. Ami sensed the regret in Raphael’s voice when talking about his disobedience towards his brother, but she assured him that everything would be okay. This strange bond of the two brothers mirrored the relentless bickering between Rei and Usagi over the years. Despite their many squabbles, both parties cared deeply about one another.

Ami trembled as she wiped a cold sweat away from her forehead. Every muscle in her body throbbed in pain from her battle wounds, and now she felt feverish and severely dehydrated. She tried her best to back away from the villainous witch, but Beryl reached through the electrical prison and yanked her out of it. Raphael stirred back to consciousness, but it was too late. Not even he could help Ami now.

“Sailor Mercury.” Queen Beryl dumped the senshi on the middle of the faded carpet lining the center of her castle. Ami could feel the cold of the tile beneath her. Her entire body shook as she struggled to push herself onto her knees while her foe continued to lecture. “The crystal has shown you many truths that you cannot deny. I offer you one last chance. Join me and gain revenge by slaying those who have wronged you or prepare to meet your doom!”

“No…” Mercury whimpered; she lifted her chin up to stare down the arrogant Queen in defiance. “I will never… betray… Sailor Moon… and my friends…”

“HAHAHA!” Queen Beryl’s maddening laugh echoed throughout the spacious chamber before turning to her armored ally. “Very well, then. Master Shredder, my Heavenly King, please dispose of this weakling!”

“As you wish, my Queen!” the cloaked figure extended the razor-sharp claws on his gauntlets and slowly marched down the carpet over to the prone senshi. Mercury tried to crawl away, but the ninja warlord was soon shrouding over her.

“ARGGHH!!” Raphael threw his body up against the magical barrier, sacrificing his well-being, hoping to bust out to save his innocent friend. A jolt of electricity jolted every muscle in the mutant’s body, but he forced himself back up and tried again and again. “LET HER GO, WITCH!”

“Another stubborn one who refuses to submit to the onyx crystal’s will.” Beryl cackled. “Don’t worry, you will join her in death next unless you decide to accept my offer and join me!”

“AHHH!” Mercury wailed in as a heavy armored boot thudded into her ribs, knocking her onto her flat back. Her head swam, but when she refocused, her eyes fixated on the villain’s pronged fists. He stared down at his foe with no emotion, eager to carry out his Queen’s orders by vanquishing one of her foes.

“WAIT!” Beryl turned toward her Heavenly King just before he was about to slice the senshi to pieces. She walked over to Mercury and bent down beside her, caressing her face and running her fingers through her bobbed hair like a loving mother would to a young child. “I am kind… and caring… even more so than that fraud Sailor Moon you value so highly.”

“You are… nothing… like… her…” It was a struggle for Mercury to even speak at this point. At least three of her ribs had broken by the Shedder’s heavy boot, and each gasp of breath strained her lungs as if the shattered bones of her ribcage were stabbing her insides.

“I will show you some mercy despite all of your false insults.” Beryl smiled. “If you can defeat my Heavenly King in battle, I shall grant you and your turtle friend freedom.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 140:

“YOU CALL THAT MERCY!” Raphael shouted from within his imprisonment. He launched with his shell against the pulsating barrier again, only to bounce right off and fall flat on his face, with streams of electricity coursing through his body. Anger coursed through him as the dormant essence of the crystal awakened within his gut, fueling him with a surge of adrenaline and rage that was felt so familiar. He no longer resisted the dark magic within. Instead, he embraced it. “LET ME FIGHT!”

Mercury spat out a gob of blood while she forced herself slowly onto her feet. She remained hunched over with her arms cradling her left side where the mighty kick had landed. She lifted her gaze to meet Shredder, who stood frozen in place a few feet away in the center of the cavernous castle.

With the odds stacked against her, she knew victory over this intimidating foe was highly unlikely. Beryl’s so-called act of mercy was just another ploy to drag out her relentless torment even further. There was little to no chance that she could win a fair fight against this despicable warrior, even if she was fully healthy. The only glimmer of hope was that Shredder wasn’t armed with the silver staff he wielded in the library now that it was in the hands of Beryl. Perhaps she could find a weakness and exploit it. Logic would say that he is more vulnerable without the onyx crystal’s protection. It was the only sliver of optimism she could cling to.

Mercury had to strive to keep her enemy at a distance and pepper him with senshi attacks, but it would be extremely difficult in her current condition. Maintaining a length of separation was her only advantage. There was no way she could fight him in close quarters. He would cut her down into pieces with those claws, especially in her bruised state. She glanced towards Raphael, who pounded against the barrier with his bare fists. His eyes glowed with the essence of Beryl’s crystal, leaving him immune to the electrical energy coursing through the barrier. The sight of the raged Raphael chilled her to the bone. Mercury realized that the angered turtle had inadvertently submitted himself to the crystal’s will in his futile attempt to escape, just as Beryl had planned. Even if she won this fight, she doubted the witch would adhere to her promise of granting them freedom.

“Bubble…. SPRAY!” Mercury summoned every sap of strength remaining in her battered body to cast out her spell. Her head swam with vertigo and her lungs ached with every syllable that left her mouth, but her senshi abilities did not fail her just yet, filling the ruined castle with countless white suds and millions upon millions of soapy bubbles of all shapes and sizes.

Beryl’s laugh cackled throughout the chamber as the disoriented ninja master slashed away at the pesky bubbles with the blades attached to his gauntlets, clearing a visible path over to the Sailor Senshi’s position. Mercury grabbed her side and gasped in pain, navigating her way towards the electrical prison one grueling step at a time. If Raphael escaped, maybe he could defend her against Shredder. It was a foolhardy and desperate plan, but it was her only option at the moment.

The bright glow of the magical confinement acted as a beacon guiding her towards it. Mercury spotted the mutant pounding against his barrier with both fists. Fury overtook Raphael. His eyes were dark with the crystal’s hatred. His jaw clenched in pure anger. She reached out to the barrier with her gloved hand, but something within Raphael’s face changed suddenly. He stopped striking the barrier and instead pointed behind the senshi in dire warning. She instinctively turned her head, only to see Shredder’s claws come down upon her in a flash. Six blades of razor sharp steel slashed across her belly, tearing through her white sailor suit and biting deep into her flesh. Mercury collapsed to her knees, eyeing the mutant turtle before slumping onto her back. She palmed her lacerated stomach to stop the bleeding, only to find her white gloves saturated with her crimson blood and innards.

Shredder proudly lurked over his victim, watching her slowly bleed to death while his Queen chortled uncontrollably, lauding their victory in the shadow of her crystal’s light. Mercury stared past him and into the ceiling of the chamber, watching her countless bubbles float higher and higher until they popped near the Supreme Evil hanging over them. She closed her eyes as the last of the bubbles burst, knowing her own life would soon slip away, just like them.

“Sailor.... Moon....” Mercury muttered her genuine friend’s name for a last time. Death was always a possibility for senshi when defending the world against malicious foes like Beryl, but now she could not protect the moon princess in her time of need. She closed her eyes and prayed that Usagi and the rest could defeat Supreme Evil without her.

Chapter Text

Chapter 141:

“Pizza!” Sailor Venus shouted with delight once the vigilante screeched his motorcycle to a halt in front of an Italian eatery still open, despite the late hour. This truly was the city that never sleeps. “What a fantastic idea for our first date! Pizza after midnight? I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m absolutely starving! You totally get me! I knew we had an instant connection!”

    She convinced the masked man to help her out, focused entirely on her duties as sailor senshi, but the exhilarating ride on the speedy motorcycle reinvigorated her infatuation with the rugged fighter. Venus kept her arms tightly wrapped around his waist while they zoomed through the city streets, enjoying every second of the wild ride. Her long blonde hair fluttered out of the helmet that he let her borrow until they reached their destination. It smelled of cheap cologne mixed with a jock’s sweat. Disgusting yet intoxicating at the same time. There was no doubt this was the man she was destined to be with. The parallels between the masked Casey Jones and Usagi’s Tuxedo Mask were no mere coincidence. She had found true love at long last.

“Relax girly, this isn’t a date.” Casey sighed after stepping off the bike. He pushed past his obsessive companion and entered the pizzeria, with Venus trailing close at his side. She tried to cling onto his arms, but he dismissed her by pushing through the restaurant’s cheap looking door. “If you want to earn the ninja turtles’ trust, you need to bring them their favorite food.”

“Picking up the special order?” A bell sounded when the two entered the pizza place, catching the attention of the lone worker on duty. The mustached cook behind the counter paid no mind to the masked figure and the woman standing next to him, dressed in a sailor suit with an orange skirt and matching heels. Nothing unusual seemed to surprise the New Yorkers.

“Yup, four pies.” Casey retrieved his wallet out of his pants pocket and slammed a few bills on top of the counter. “Keep the change.”

“Thank you.” the chef collected the money and placed the currency into his cash register before finally giving the vigilante an odd look. “Enjoy those toppings...”

“Allow me to help you with that!” Venus snatched the pizza boxes off the shelf before her companion could do so himself. The warmth of the food and the piping steam emanating out of the corners of the cardboard put a smile on her face. “This smells delicious!”

“I already told you, it’s not for us!” Casey grunted after storming out of the restaurant. Venus chased him down an alleyway behind the restaurant, where he bent beside a metal grate. Casey ripped it off its hinges, exposing a stairwell that descended into the dark sewers below. “Follow me.”

“Are you sure about this?” Venus paused at the foot of the entrance with the stack of pizza boxes in tow. The sewers looked like a dark and scary place, not to mention smelly and disgusting. “That doesn’t look like the most romantic place for us to eat pizza. Can’t we just go back to your apartment? Light some candles and maybe get a bottle of wine?”

“You wanted to my help to find the turtles, right?” an irritable Casey asked. The young woman had begged and pleaded with him after their encounter with the thugs, rambling on about an apocalyptic entity that threatened to extinguish all of humanity. It took a lot of relentless nagging about the danger her enemies posed before he finally caved and gave in to her wishes and agreed to escort Venus to their hideout to seek their help.

“That’s right.” Sailor Venus said with a hint of hesitation. “But perhaps we should wait till morning? Maybe we can get to know each other a little better?”

“What about that Super Evil thing you mentioned and Queen Benadryl or whatever you said her name was?” The vigilante shook his head in aggravation. Venus was clearly trying his patience. The poor girl couldn’t take a hint that he wasn’t interested, no matter how obvious he made it. Sure, she was strikingly beautiful, but his heart already belonged to another. He wouldn’t give up on April, even though she probably despised him at the moment after forgetting about their anniversary date. She would cool off and answer his calls again in time."Besides, I got to hit the gym tomorrow before the rubber match between the Mets and Yanks. If you want to see the turtles, it’s now or never!"

“Let’s do this then.” Venus nodded in determination. The mention of the subway series game reminded her of Makoto. It was her dream to go to a stadium and watch a live baseball game on this trip. She had promised to accompany her, only to get distracted by her obsessive boy hunting. It was her fault Makoto went running off in the first place. Her duties as senshi were paramount. She would find the turtles and unite the Senshi! No more distractions and daydreaming about the muscular hunk now matter how difficult it was to focus in his presence!

Chapter Text

Chapter 142:

“Can’t I just have one quick slice?” Venus asked before reaching the bottom of the hidden stairwell. She kept close to her masked hero as they made their way along an elevated platform running parallel to a river of murky water. The smell was horrific, but lucky enough for her, the steaming pizza was enough to ward off the worst of it. She kept her nose pressed against the top of the stacked pies, whiffing in the yummy cheese and tomato sauce while her stomach growled.

“I don’t know why I ever agreed to this.” Casey Jones muttered under his breath. In a few quick minutes, his escort mission would be complete, and he would finally rid himself of the bothersome blonde. She would be the turtles’ problem from here on out. He carried a hockey stick in both hands, ready to fight in case a member of the foot clan or something worse dared to attack. The sewers were always unpredictable.

“Hey, what’s that?” Venus peeked over her pizza boxes and into the flowing river. “I thought I saw something move in the water.”

“Probably just an alligator or a dead body.” Casey kept on marching, leaving the Sailor Senshi behind. “Ignore it! We are almost there.”

  Curiosity got the best of Venus. She took a step towards the edge of the platform, where she spotted a large object floating just beneath the surface of the river. A faint, yet distinguishable groaning sound gurgled from within the depths, and bubbles of air pockets floated around it. A living creature swam towards her and its size was absolutely massive. What could it possibly be? She inched forward to get a better look.

“Get back!” Casey Jones shouted as an alien-like creature emerged from the disgusting waters. He had seen these monsters before in these parts of the sewer, but not for quite some time. They had obviously not gone extinct yet, as Donatello had surmised. The wonderful scent of the pizza must have drawn its attention, bringing it out of hiding in search of food.

“AHH!” Venus backpedalled on her heels at the sight of the most hideous creature she had ever witnessed in all her days as a sailor senshi. It was a slimy humanoid, stretching over ten feet tall with slimy yellow skin and thick white scaled that protected its chest and thighs. Its cone shaped head was nearly the same length of her entire body, and the terrifying creature possessed a maw of jagged teeth and razor-sharp claws along with a long, swooping tail. It emerged from the waters and hovered in mid-air, preparing to feast on its fresh meal.

Venus nearly dropped the pizza boxes as the beast descended upon her with its mouth stretched as wide as its appetite. This was a scene taken straight out of a scary science fiction movie. The beautiful girls always escaped in the cheesy films, but unfortunately for her, this was real life! Venus was caught so off guard that the monster would devour her whole before she could defend herself with Senshi abilities. Casey Jones jumped in front of her, cracking the shaft of a wooden hockey stick against the creature’s thick skull. The fiend let out a high-pitched hiss as it splashed back into the running water from the impact of the vigilante’s melee strike.

“RUN!” Casey Jones hastily urged his companion. He took a baseball bat out of his golf bag and sprinted alongside the girl, who did her best to keep up in her heeled shoes while carrying four heavy pizza boxes. “Ditch the pizza!”

“No, I need it!” Venus huffed in between breaths. The pizza was her best chance for a peace offering to the turtles, and she hoped they would allow her to have at least one slice. She could not let her friends down at all costs and would do anything to atone for her past mistakes that led her into this dire situation.

A blistering screech made the pair glance behind them. The so-called pizza monster was hovering above the water once again, tracking their every movement. In addition, two more aliens seemed to join the fray, swimming in the murky waters alongside their levitating leader. One of them leapt out of the river and rolled through the air like a cannonball until it landed on its clawed feet ahead of them to prevent their escape. Jones jumped back just in time to avoid the beast’s gaping maw. He fended the beast off with his bat, but the creature munched down on the wooden barrel, splintering the baseball bat to the handle. 

Venus dropped the pizza boxes onto the grimy floor. Her masked hero was getting pushed back by the alien, who viciously slashed with its claws and snapped with its mouth. It was only a matter of seconds before the fighter ended up in the alien’s belly. She flipped open one of the cardboard covers and snatched the hot pie into her gloved hands. It was terrible to waste such delicious food like this, but it had to be done to save her one true love. She charged forward with the pie and flung it at the creature, hoping her aim was accurate. The steamy pizza flopped through the dank sewer before the melted cheese and sauce smacked right into the monster’s hideous face. The blinded alien swung its claws wildly, but Casey took advantage of the distraction and counterattacked. He reached for his heavy cricket paddle and bashed the flat end of his weapon into the creature’s skull. Sauce, cheese, and green ichor flew everywhere as the pizza monster collapsed into the murky waters with a splash.

“VENUS! LOVE AND BEAUTY SHOCK!” There was no time for Venus to admire the vigilante’s brave heroics. She immediately summoned a golden heart into her open arms and spun it into the chest of another monster that threatened to claw up the unsuspecting Jones from behind. Her magical energy slammed into the slimy creature, obliterating it with an explosion that sent green life fluids everywhere.

Her victory was short-lived. Five more of the towering aliens soared out of the waters and plopped onto the sewer platform, surrounding the two fighters. The terrifying predators had their prey exactly where they wanted them. They hissed and exposed their razor-sharp teeth as they inched closer, waiting for the proper moment to strike.

“Why do you always get into trouble?” Casey Jones asked after retrieving another golf club from his bag. It was the last weapon he had left in his arsenal, a cheap metal putter that would not pose much of a threat to their enemies. “I’m going to charge them. Get out of here while you still can.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 143:

“No, absolutely not!” Venus clutched onto her hero’s muscular bicep. Her face blushed at the notion that the masked vigilante would sacrifice himself to save her life despite hardly knowing her. How romantic and brave this masked man is! He was falling for her, just like she knew he would. It was inevitable with her good looks and charming personality. She would not allow the hunk to perish before she got to see the handsome face lying under that hockey mask and reward him with a passionate kiss. “I think I might have a plan!”

Venus retrieved two of the pizza boxes and flung them out onto the middle of the brick platform. The lean aliens immediately pounced upon their meal, fighting with one another as their jaws clashed, each one desperate to tear away at the cardboard to get to the cheesy crust within, even if it meant harming their own kind.

“VENUS LOVE ME CHAIN!” She summoned her golden whip of heart-shaped links and wrapped it around all five of the alien creatures, combating over her bait, pulling them into a tight knot like a cowboy lassoing a bull. The magical links trapped the monsters into a tout bundle of slimy flesh and scales. Their tails flailed about while their claws scratched away to break loose of the glowing shackles. Her trick had worked, but it was only a matter of time before the angry aliens escaped and hunted the humans down for their next snack. Venus scooped up the remaining pizza box off the floor and made a mad dash down the brick platform. She could not afford to lose this last one.

Hissing and screeching filled the sewers once the pizza monsters finally broke free of her enchanted chain. They sprinted down the grimy floor, gasping for a breath of the sewage reeking air as they put distance between themselves and the vile pizza monsters. The devilish creatures made up the lost ground in no time. Venus could feel the disgusting breath of the lanky alien’s snout on her long blonde hair as the beast snapped its maw, tearing a piece of fabric off the bow on the back of her skirt.

“Owwie! That was a close one!” Venus tripped to the floor, clinging to the pizza box as a jagged tooth scratched her lower back. Casey turned around, guarding the magical girl as the monster slashed at him with its claws. He braced for a deadly impact while retaliating with his pitiful putter. The beast would tear him to shreds, but he would not go down without taking the alien to hell with him. Venus clutched onto her hero’s ripped pants as tears poured down her eyes. This was not how it was supposed to end between them, although she always feared her love life would finish in epic tragedy.

“MOON TIARA ACTION!”

Venus perked up when her friend’s high-pitched squeal echoed throughout sewers. A blinding flash of white light enveloped the alien right before its jaw tore into Casey’s neck. The creature exploded, bursting into a million chunks of yellow flesh and clumps of black and pink organs. Before she could even wipe her face free of the nasty life fluids, Venus spotted one of the ninja turtles somersaulting through the air with his katana held out, slicing through a fiend with expert precision despite having a wailing Sailor Moon hanging onto his shell for dear life.

“YAHHHHHHHH!” the moon princess cried out as her rider cut through the beasts to free help free the sailor senshi and masked vigilante. The very sight of Usagi’s pigtails soaring through the sewers put a smile on her face and made her chuckle uncontrollably. How on earth did Sailor Moon end up down here in the smelly sewers? Now was not that the time for such questions. It was time for some payback. Venus hopped back to her feet, eager to get back into the fight, when two more aliens threatened to rip her limb from limb. Another mutant leapt from a surfboard floating in the river and landed on the creature’s back.

“COWABUNGA!” the ninja turtle shouted as he bashed his nunchucks into the alien’s cone head. The pizza monster thrashed back and forth like a mechanical bull, desperate to free itself from its rider. It eventually snatched the turtle off its body and slammed his shell into the ceiling, busting through rusty metal piping and paved bricks. The beast opened its jaw and snapped at the stunned turtle, lusting for a quick dinner as bricks and debris rained down upon them.

“CRESCENT BEAM!” Venus kept hold of her pizza box and pointed her free hand at maniacal beast, summoning a golden laser from her extended fingertips. The radiant ray of light burst a hole through the alien’s chest like a gunshot. The turtle slipped from the creature’s sharp claws and immediately smacked his nunchaku across the monster’s face once freed, knocking the beast back into the water. 

“BEHIND YOU!” Sailor Moon cried out from atop her turtle. Leonardo skillfully slashed and cut his way through the remaining aliens, but there was one more lurking behind the susceptible Venus, and they were too far away to help her. Venus gasped as the beast’s claws lashed at her chest, closing her eyes in anticipation of an imminent death.

“FIRE SOUL!” Mars bellowed her attack from atop a mechanized surfboard. A blazing ball of flame raced out of her outstretched hands and engulfed the creature’s slimy flesh before he claimed his prize. The alien hissed and cried in agony as his flesh charred away, piece by piece, from the burning flames. Despite this, the monster turned its attention to Mars, eyeing the red skirted senshi in fury. The flaming alien pounced toward the vulnerable senshi, desperate to take her out before he perished from the searing heat. A burdened Leonardo leapt through the air and struck true with his sword, slicing through the creature’s neck with expert precision. The alien’s flaming head wobbled on the platform until it finally slipping into the water, where it sank like a rock to the bottom of the river.

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Chapter 144:

      Sailor Mars grabbed Michelangelo’s hand, welcoming his assistance onto solid ground. Surfboarding was fun and all, but she did not want to go swimming or even look at a body of water for a very long time. She took in the countless alien corpses that littered the elevated platform, pooling on the grimy surface with their nasty life fluids. New York was proving to be a strange place between the homeless Rat King and these demonic creatures. She silently prayed that there would be no more surprises awaiting her beneath this city.

“MARS!” Venus deserted the pizza box and embraced her fellow guardian before she could get her bearings, saturating her already dirty sailor suit with alien blood and guts. “I knew you would fight alongside us again!”

“I’m sorry for what everything I said. I know I’ve been a big jerk to everyone since we boarded that plane.” Mars apologized, returning the hug despite being covered in filth. “But you know I’d never give up on being a Sailor Senshi, no matter how angry I get!”

“Of course! I didn’t doubt it for a second.” Venus nodded warmly until her mind filled with guilt. She was partly responsible for a lot of the trouble Rei had gotten into since they arrived here. To make matters worse, Burne Thompson blackmailed her into accepting an internship with Channel 6. She would have to break the news at some point. Rei’s wrath scared her far more than the alien creatures they just faced. Her blatant betrayal may just push Rei over the edge. In her gut, she knew this would not end well.

“YAY! GROUP HUG!” Sailor Moon hopped off the turtle’s shell and hurried over to join them, squeezing both of her friends closely together. Nothing made her happier than seeing members of the team reunited at last after this incredibly long day. It warmed her heart that Minako and Rei had patched things up rather quickly, but she still ached for her missing companions and hoped they were okay. There was a chance they could defeat Queen Beryl once again, but it would take the entire Sailor Team to do it.

“I don’t want to crash this party.” Leonardo interrupted after sheathing his swords behind his shell. “But our hideout is straight ahead. If you girls want to be our allies, then we need to discuss our next move against the Shredder. Time is not exactly on our side right now, and you’ll soon see why.”

“WHOA, YOU BROUGHT PIZZA!” Michelangelo jumped in delight after spotting the surviving pizza box on the grimy floor. “I knew these dudettes were totally awesome!”

“Yes!” Minako bubbled with excitement. The sight of the pizza had made the crazy turtle with the orange mask ecstatic, just like the handsome vigilante told her it would. “We bought four pies, but that was the only one I saved from those creepy aliens.”

“Bummer!” Michelangelo grimaced as he opened the box so that steam rose out of its sides. “I’m totally famished. I could eat ten pies, but I guess I’ll have to settle for the one.”

“That pizza is reserved for April and our special guests.” Leonardo ordered, slamming the cardboard lid shut and snatching the box away from his hungry brother. “You can have whatever is left after they finished eating.”

“Aww, man!” Mikey groaned in disappointment. “Come on, bro! Cut me some slack!”

“Looks like my duty here is done.” Casey entered the conversation after ditching his bent putter by casting it into the river. Once hearing April O’Neil’s name mentioned, he knew he had to get out of there. His ex-girlfriend would not be happy to see him and still probably needed more time to cool off after their fight. It would take time to win her back, but he would sweep her off her feet once again. “Stay out of trouble, blondie!”

“Wait, don’t go!” Venus chased after her knight in shining armor. “I don’t even have your number!”

“Don’t you have a world to save?” Casey found a ladder and climbed up the metal rungs to the manhole cover high above the ceiling but got halted in his tracks when the pesky senshi grabbed his boot to prevent his ascent.

“Of course, but we could sure use a strong and handsome guy like you in our fight!” Venus tugged on the shoe, nearly pulling it off his foot. “Plus, we make such a cute team!”

“Sorry girlie…” Casey took another few steps up the ladder, but Venus stood bound and determined to prevent his escape, following him up the rungs as she continued to yank on the combat boot with both hands. The worn boot eventually slipped off, and Venus fell to the sewer floor clutching the shoe to chest like she had just won a stuffed animal at a county fair.

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Chapter 145:

“Ami...” Sailor Jupiter muttered her friend’s name after awaking from a long slumber. She lay atop a cot in a dank underground chamber with a ratty blanket draped over her exhausted body. Every muscle in her body throbbed, and her forehead pounded with an intense migraine. It proved to be a struggle just to push herself up enough to sit on the edge of her bed to gather her wits.

 Memories of the battle in the public library returned, and the lasting image of Sailor Mercury being carried off into a portal by some armored figure impervious to their senshi attacks plagued her mind. She had tried her best to save her fellow guardian, but had failed and passed out from exhaustion. Jupiter put her face in her gloved palms, holding back tears at the return of such awful memories. She cursed herself for not getting to the library sooner. A few minutes may have made all the difference. If only she could have been there to protect Mercury, maybe this wouldn’t have happened. Either way, it was her fault for allowing Ami to study all alone by herself. What kind of friend was she to abandon her after Rei’s crude insults this morning? Even though Ami was introverted and liked quiet time to study, they should never have let her isolate herself after Rei’s crude insults. What kind of friends were they? Ami must have been crushed after that debacle in the hotel, despite her best attempts to hide her emotions, yet they let her go off on her own for their selfish reasons.

Makoto wasn’t nearly as sensitive as Ami, but knew all too well how it felt to be an outcast amongst her peers. Kids in school often avoided her because she had a reputation of being too tough and tomboyish. Her height and athletic ability intimidated them. No one attempted to get to know her true personality. She was into baking, gardening, cooking and boy bands just like the other girls her age, but because she was also interested in martial arts and sports, her classmates would make fun of her and whisper behind her back. Unlike Ami, she had the courage to confront these mean bullies. This led to fist fights which landed her in all sorts of trouble, worsening her reputation.

The guys at school were no better. They wouldn’t socialize with her because she’d beat them in whatever sport or activity they competed in, often embarrassing them with her skills. It was impossible for her to find a boyfriend, because most guys she liked labeled her as just a friend they could work out or train with. None of them had any romantic interest in her because they didn’t think she was girly enough. In reality, she was a hopeless romantic and had her heart broken several times, with no friend to talk about her struggles or confide in. That was until she transferred to Usagi’s school. Usagi was the first one to ignore these stereotypes and false rumors and truly get to know her. She had finally found a place to belong with the Sailor Team, just like Ami had.

The girls drifted down separate paths once they went off to college, even though they still kept in contact. It was uncharacteristic of Ami to go on a spontaneous trip with no planning, but now she understood why she had done it. Both Usagi and Ami had seen the writing on the wall. With no enemies left to fight, it was all but certain that they would stop talking all together at some point because of their busy lives. Rei taking this internship in New York must have been a reminder of how dangerously close this inevitable reality was. They all wanted life to return to the simpler days of highschool, but it was not possible.

 Her sadness quickly turned to anger at the thought of the other senshi. Things would never be the same after this. Even if she saved Sailor Mercury, she could never forgive Rei for her harsh words. Yes, she had failed to protect Mercury, but the blame lied solely on Rei for her egregious behavior. Usagi and Minako were not completely innocent, however. If only they had left that stupid ferry boat and come with her. Instead, Usagi had been moping around and Minako was too busy chasing after boys to care about their fellow guardian. It was totally despicable and selfish of them. Maybe Rei was right to quit this stupid team. It was dead anyway, and she no longer wanted to be a part of it, even though a new enemy had emerged. The only thing she would use her powers for was to find Ami, but how would she even start her search?

Chapter Text

Chapter 146:

         Makoto tightened her hands into fists, overwhelmed by mixed emotions of grief, anger, and frustration. Electricity coursed through her body and illuminated the dank chamber with its blinding aura of pulsating currents. The room that held her was no prison. Instead, it looked much like a teenager’s messy hideout, with empty pizza boxes piled on a table, a disheveled couch and an antique television set just to name a few of the items. Makoto groaned as she forced herself off the bed and walked around the room, taking in the various weaponry and Japanese scrolls adorning the walls. What a strange place, she thought. Where on earth was she? A wheezing sound caught her attention, leading her over to another cot on the opposite side of the room, where she beheld an ailing rat-like humanoid snoring underneath a blanket. The shocking sight of the creature made her gasp.

“Excuse me, miss!” A strange voice called from behind, forcing Makoto to turn away from the raspy rat only to come face to face with the bo staff wielding turtle she had encountered in the library. “I’m glad to see that you’ve recovered from your loss of consciousness, but you sustained several additional injuries in battle. I highly recommend that you lie down and get some more rest until my brothers return to our lair. Perhaps I could brew you some herbal tea in the meantime?”

“YOU!” Jupiter ignored the turtle’s request and gave him a hard shove into his yellow chest. Donatello stumbled backward into the couch, knocking the cheap piece of furniture over onto its side with his bulky shell. Jupiter kicked the pillows and seat cushions off of the turtle and hovered over him. Electricity coursed through her hands, ready to fry her mutant captor. “What did you do with my friend?”

“Me?” Donatello stared back up at the warrior in confusion from his spot on the sewer floor. “I did nothing to her. She was fighting bravely alongside us until our arch-nemesis, the Shredder, kidnapped her. I am deeply sorry.”

“Where can I find this Shredder?” Jupiter interrupted the pathetic apology and bent down alongside the turtle. She grabbed his green shoulders so that she could stare directly into his eyes.

“We don’t know. Tin-head appears to be hiding in an alternate dimension that I cannot gain access too despite all of my efforts trying to locate it in my advanced astrophysical programs.” Donatello could see the anguish within the green skirted fighter’s soul at the loss of her friend. The kind hearted Ami had not only helped him get the turtle van running, but she also saved both him and his brother Michelangelo from Shredder and those two demonic lions he summoned. He would do anything in his power to help rescue the girl in blue, but getting his guest to calm down might prove just as challenging."We were hoping you would have more information regarding Shredder’s new ally or the onyx crystal."

“You shelled freaks failed to protect Sailor Mercury, so you can forget about my help!” Jupiter turned away from the turtle with a scowl on her face. She limped over towards a pipe leading out of this strange encampment. “I have nothing left to say to you!”

“Donatello, what’s going on in here? I heard a scream. Is she awake yet? This is going to be my best story ever!” A woman wearing a yellow jumpsuit and holding a handheld camcorder came through the tunnel and paused at the site of Sailor Jupiter. The excited woman immediately powered on her device and started recording. 

“I don’t think....” Donatello tried to warn the reporter that their guest was a little riled up at the moment, but April continued talking.

“I am April O’Neil, reporter for Channel 6 News. Two warriors just like you prevented the Staten Island Ferry from crashing into Battery Park earlier today, saving hundreds if not thousands of innocent lives!”

“April?” Makoto muttered the reporter’s name. It overshadowed her mentioning of sailor senshi fighting on the ferry. She no longer cared what happened to Usagi or Minako. But the name April rang a bell. That was Rei’s mentor. “Channel 6 News?

“There are reports of magical girls at the public library crime scene as well.” Keeping the camera focused on the senshi, she continued her interview. “Many in the media are questioning your allegiance. Some say you are in league with the foot clan. Others, such as myself, are calling you heroes! What is your answer to that?”

“ERRRRA!!!!” Jupiter swung her electrically charged fist, knocking the camera out of April’s hands. The device smacked against the brick floor, scattering pieces of chipped plastic from the impact. She grabbed the collar of April’s jumpsuit and pulled her close. “CHANNEL 6...THIS IS ALL BECAUSE OF THAT STUPID INTERNSHIP! MERCURY GOT KIDNAPPED BECAUSE OF YOU AND REI!”

“Rei?” April gasped. Her jaw dropped in shock at the mention of her intern as the robust girl pushed her against the brick wall and raised her fist, eager to bash it into her nose.

“Let her go!” Donatello swooped low with his bo staff at the senshi’s long legs, sweeping the surprised Sailor Jupiter to the floor. He raced over to April and stood guard in front of her while the aching senshi climbed to her feet. The girl’s face filled with the anger and rage that possessed Raphael in the dojo. He tried to calm her down, but knew it was hopeless, just like arguing with his hot-headed brother. “Wait! Don’t do this!

“SUPREME....” Jupiter called out her spell, channeling her senshi powers. She would destroy this turtle and his female friend, punishing them for their part in Mercury’s disappearance. She would make them all pay, including Usagi and Minako. But the one she really wanted was Rei. The so-called shrine maiden could not escape once she caught up to her. This was just a warmup, a test run to the beat down she would soon get.

“We have to get out of here, now!” Donny pushed April through the tunnel, using his protective shell to provide cover, knowing fully well what was coming next after the magical girl called out the words. He had witnessed the awesome power up close and personal not too long ago.

“THUNDER!!!!!!” Jupiter released her energy into the cylinder. The electrical current lit up the entire hideout as a blast of lightning zoomed down the tunnel. Jupiter collapsed to her knees, fighting to remain conscious. Using her powers still left her weak and vulnerable. She peered down the exit, hoping to find a wounded mutant and reporter, but they were nowhere to be found. Her strike had missed. She pushed herself up to her feet, channeling electricity into her hands as she limped through the tunnel in pursuit of her enemies. She would avenge mercury, starting with them.

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Chapter 147:

“Do you know what happened at the public library earlier today?” Sailor Mars asked the more serious turtle in blue, breaking up the awkward silence. They continued in single file down the narrow platform, running alongside a stream of sewer water while the turtles led them deeper into the dark tunnels towards their hidden lair.

“Yo! I was there!” Michelangelo chimed in. “Shredder kicked our shells by turning these lion statues into mondo demonic kitty cats.”

“Youma...” Venus shuddered at the thought of it. The villain had summoned the Sea Troll to attack her and Usagi on the ferry, but they had vanquished it just in time to stop the ferry from crashing into the pier. It troubled her that the more Shredder got accustomed to his abilities, the deadlier the youma he called forth would become. Things would only get more dangerous from here on out. She wished her masked hero was there to hold her safely against his broad chest.

“One of our companions may have been there.” Mars continued to pester the happy-go-lucky mutant for answers. “Did you encounter any additional Sailor Senshi?”

“Yeah, dudette! Two of ‘em in fact! They were totally bad ass just like you guys!” Mikey paused, glancing at his leader. “But...”

“I’m afraid that I have both good and bad news to tell you.” Leonardo sighed. He paused for a moment and turned towards the pigtailed girl called Sailor Moon. She would not be too happy with what he was about to tell her. “Which would you like me to begin with?”

“Please start with the good!” Sailor Moon squealed at the turtle. She could tell simply by looking at the mutant’s face that something was wrong, but it was important for her to remain positive no matter how dire the situation became around her. She fought back tears and glanced over at Mars, who gazed down at her red heels in shame to avoid Usagi’s watery eyes. The sight of Ami’s backpack littering the library’s grand hall emblazoned in her mind.

“My brother Donatello took one of your companions to our hideout after the battle.” Leonardo led them along the pathway leading to their hideout. The over emotional girl would need to sit down for what he was about to tell her next. Sailor Moon grabbed his elbow pad and looked up at the mutant with an uneasy sadness, dreading his bad news. It would not be a simple task to explain that the Shredder had kidnapped one of their own. “As for the other...”

Bolts of electricity suddenly fluttered out of a pipe, whizzing into the ceiling and surrounding walls until the surge fizzled. Leonardo drew his swords from behind his shell after hearing a loud shriek escape from the tunnel up ahead. The hideout must be under attack! April and Donatello were in grave danger.

“JUPITER!” Sailor Moon shrieked.

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Chapter 148:

April O’Neil snuck into Donatello’s room and crawled along the floor, desperately seeking for a place to hide from the electrically charged Sailor Senshi. Her high hopes of filming a groundbreaking interview with the mystical fighter had turned into a complete and utter disaster. The mutant turtle pulled her underneath a metal desk housing one of his gigantic computer towers and hushed her to silence before she could give away their position. His cluttered dwelling was jam-packed with many noisy inventions and buzzing machines. Strange gadgets and gizmos lit up the room with various blinking lights, providing them with enough distractions to elude the madwoman’s wrath for the time being. If only they could hold out until help arrived.

“Come out and face me, cowards!” a brooding Jupiter snapped after entering the chaotic dwelling with no trace of her two targets. There was a mishmosh of miscellaneous car parts, computer hardware, blueprints, microscopes, robotics and countless test beakers filled with strange fluids lined up neatly in careful arrangement inside protective cabinets. Ami would have found this place fascinating, but she did not give a damn about any of this techno-crap. Makoto grit her teeth in anger and started flipping tables and knocking over the drawers, smashing various mechanical items in the room with her gloved fists out of pure rage. Glass shattered, monitors cracked, and computer parts exploded into a million pieces, littering the once pristine floor with broken equipment. “I know you are in here!”

“We are not your enemy!” Donatello finally emerged out of hiding and cast aside his bo staff. He could not help but wince at the destruction wrought by the Sailor Senshi. The furious girl had already ruined several research projects that he had labored many painstaking hours on, but he could replace them once this was over, unlike the warrior’s missing friend. He understood her anger and did not wish to engage her in combat if he could prevent it. The statistical odds of a peaceful resolution, however, were dwindling. “I fought alongside Ami... Please allow me to...”

“I DON’T WANT TO HEAR IT!” the very mention of Mercury’s name sent her into a frenzy. An intense surge of electrical energy pulsated from her golden tiara, frying the surrounding circuit boards and hardware like a nuclear shock-wave. The blinking lights burst, and the buzzing computer towers and servers crashed, revealing Sailor Jupiter in the center of the chamber with an aura of fully charged electricity at her disposal. She glared at the ninja turtle, preparing to unleash her celestial fury upon him. A fitting punishment for his failure to protect Mercury in the library.

“JUPITER, NO!” Sailor Moon yelped at the top of her lungs. She entered the laboratory with another mutant wielding two swords right beside her. Sailor Moon held out her hand to prevent him from charging at the green skirted Senshi and slicing her like a ribbon. The turtle hesitated for the moment and sheathed his weapons, but she had to act to save this potential alliance. “THE TURTLES ARE OUR FRIENDS! WE NEED THEIR HELP!”

“Friends, huh?” Jupiter chortled and turned to face Sailor Moon with a sinister frown. She immediately noticed that Venus, Mars and the goofy-looking turtle in orange were standing alongside the pigtailed senshi. Their sailor suits saturated and stained with a horrid mixture of a blood and ichor. The accompanying smell was even far worse, nearly making her gag in revulsion. They each looked like they had been through a war, but it didn’t matter what they had gone through. Her immense anger far outweighed any concern she had for her fellow guardians. “Some noble friend you turned out to be! Sailor Mercury was taken away from us, all because of your childish behavior! She could be dead for all we know! WHERE WERE YOU WHEN SHE NEEDED YOU THE MOST?”

“You are right...” Sailor Moon’s heart sank at the mentioning of Ami’s confirmed disappearance. If only she had listened to Makoto and gotten off the ferryboat when she had asked instead of carrying on over her nasty breakup with Mamoru. Tears streamed down her eyes like a waterfall at the unknown whereabouts of their companion. What if she truly was dead? Beryl could easily slay her prisoner as an act of revenge. The anxious fear of the unknown left her feeling completely hopeless. They could not defeat Metalia without Mercury’s support. It would take the forces of the sailor senshi and the teenage mutant ninja turtles to take down this unholy alliance. She should have considered Ami’s feelings more than her own. Now it was too late. Everyone she loved was slipping away and soon she would be all alone… If the world didn’t end in the meantime. “It’s all my fault... I wasn’t there for her. I let her down.”

“Don’t blame Usagi.... or anyone else for that matter.” Mars stepped towards Jupiter and noticed April O’Neil sheltering under a desk in the corner. The bewildered reporter clearly recognized her identity. There was no use hiding it anymore. The cat was out of the bag. She would have some explaining to do later, but for now she had to get Jupiter to calm down. In all their time as friends, she had never seen Makoto act so upset, and understandably so. “I can’t take back what I said this morning or expect you to forgive me. But your fight isn’t with Usagi or the turtles. It’s with me. I’m responsible for what happened to Ami, so if you want to take it out on anyone, I’m right here. I will accept any punishment you deem worthy of my atrocities… even if it means my death!”

“I’M GOING TO FINISH WHAT I STARTED BACK IN THE HOTEL!” Jupiter extended her hands, channeling a high-voltage orb that swelled into the size of a basketball. “YOU WON’T BE ABLE TO RUN AWAY FROM ME THIS TIME!”

“We all share part of the blame!” Venus came running to the support of Mars and clasped her hand into her own, hoping against hope that Jupiter would not dare strike to her down with lightning. “It may not be too late for us to fix things. It’s always darkest before the yawn and I won’t sleep until we get Mercury back safe and sound!”

“I’ve had enough of your botched wisdom.” Jupiter palmed her ball of lightning and prepared to launch it at the two girls like a closer in the bottom of the ninth.

“Wait… Please, Jupiter...” a teary-eyed Sailor Moon grabbed Mars’ remaining hand, forming a senshi chain link. “Venus and I found it in our hearts to forgive Rei, and I know you can do the same! So, if you want to shock Sailor Mars, you are going to have to electrocute us too!”

“Usagi…” Mars tried to break free of her stubborn friend, but Sailor Moon tightened her grip and refused to let go. It infuriated her that Usagi would put herself at risk for her sake, but she couldn’t help but feel touched that despite the harsh and terrible things she said, Usagi’s loyalty and trust in her never wavered.

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Chapter 149:

“NO, I WILL NEVER FORGIVE HER!” Jupiter hesitated for a moment to consider Usagi’s desperate plea, but ultimately launched her orb at the three senshi. How dare they forgive Rei so easily? Even after learning about Ami’s disappearance, they were still willing to let her off the hook. The Sailor Team was dead without Ami. She would never fight alongside Mars again for as long as she lived.

 “You are making a big mistake!” the split-second flinch provided enough time to allow the stealthy Leonardo to leap out of the shadows and tackle the unsuspecting senshi just as the orb slipped from her fingers.

“AHH!!” the sailors screamed in unison, ducking for cover as the charged sphere slammed into a humming tower of blinking computer parts behind them. The machine exploded with a burst of fiery sparks and smoke, but luckily the girls were unharmed. April O’Neil ushered them to safety under the desk while the turtle in blue tussled with the raging senshi. The reporter continued to stare at Rei in disbelief that one of the magical girls was right under her nose this entire time, but she said nothing as a fierce battle unfolded.

Leonardo and Jupiter rolled through more of Donatello’s contraptions, breaking whatever was left untouched by the senshi’s rage. The turtle tried to pin her to the brick floor, but the girl’s knowledge of martial arts surprised him. Jupiter eluded his grappling technique and reversed it, planting her booted foot into the turtle’s chest and flipping him over her prone body with the aid of her muscular biceps. Leonardo somersaulted out of the throw and landed safely, avoiding the brick wall and all the hazards in between it. The mutant spun around only to meet Sailor Jupiter with her electrically charged fists held under her chin, ready and eager to engage in hand to hand combat.

“Our master is dying.” Leonardo signaled for his two brothers not to interfere, stopping them dead in their tracks. Part of this feud between the girls struck him close to home, reminding the mutant of his own personal failures. It was his duty to fix this situation and repair the bonds of the team using Splinter’s teachings that he had failed to adhere to earlier. “My brother and I had our own disagreements and turned on one another. Now he’s kidnapped by Shredder as well. I regret my actions. Don’t let the enemy win by fighting your own friends.”

“I DON’T GIVE A DAMN ABOUT YOUR MASTER OR YOUR BROTHERS!” Jupiter threw a jab and right cross punch combination at the mutant’s face. The dexterous Leonardo dipped his head into his shell to avoid the strike, but still felt the shocking buzz of the girl’s gloves graze against his tough skin on the top of his bald skull. He did not counter, remaining defensive while the long-legged senshi attacked him with everything she had. A flurry of roundhouse kicks and punches came his way with lightning speed. “WHO ARE YOU TO JUDGE ME?”

The senshi was amazingly fast, but the mutant was even faster, blocking and parrying her relentless strikes with ease. Jupiter kept on the offensive,attacking with all her might, but her techniques became wild and sloppy the longer she fought. Leonardo could have easily ended the fight, but he allowed the senshi to chase after him like a cat trying to catch a feisty mouse. Jupiter grit her teeth in rage as her fists flew and legs soared, hell bent on destroying the ninja turtle. She took to the air with a ferocious kick, eager to the take the turtle out with one final kamikaze blow. Leonardo dodged her long legs just before her green combat boots caved in his face. Jupiter gasped at the misfire and crashed into one of the remaining tables, smashing the cheap wooden structure to pieces. She tried to scramble away, but the stealthy mutant was already right on top of her.

“Enough of this!” Leonardo offered the senshi his hand. “I’ll stop at nothing to get my brother back and I know you’ll do the same for your friend! Let’s save them together!”

“He’s right!” Sailor Moon burst out from under the desk to support her new ally. Mars and Venus tried to stop her, but she refused to keep hiding. “PLEASE STOP! Ask yourself, is this what Mercury would want?”

“No… I can’t… I won’t…. not after what SHE did!” Jupiter swatted away the turtle’s outstretched arm and rolled away to create distance. Electricity coursed through her tiara at the thought of Rei’s betrayal while she made it back to her feet. Makoto would allow no one to prevent her from getting revenge on Mars for her blatant betrayal, whether it be a ninja turtle or even Sailor Moon herself. They would all suffer! “SUPREME THUNDER DRAGON!”

Sailor Moon gasped, bracing herself as the energy surrounding Makoto manifested into an ethereal serpent with dark purple eyes of pure malice. The beast came hurtling toward her with a vicious maw of electrically charged teeth opened wide. Mars and Venus raced to her defense, but there was no way they could make it in time. They could not save her, even if they countered with their own senshi attacks. Leonardo drew his katana from its scabbard and arced his blade vertically before she could even blink. Usagi heard the sharp blade whir through the air until steel somehow cut into the mythical beast’s ghastly form as if it comprised actual flesh. The dragon let out a deafening roar as bolts of lightning oozed out of its wound, filling the chamber with blinding flashes of light that flickered on and off like a strobe in a crowded disco. It wobbled through the air, bouncing off the walls of Donatello’s laboratory until it finally crashed into its creator.

“AHHH!” The reeling leviathan slammed into the center of Jupiter’s chest and shocked her to the core as it transferred its essence back into her. The electrical energy comprising the beast was too great for her body to absorb. Jolts of voltage spread to every single muscle in her body, locking her limbs in place. Leonardo leapt through the air, avoiding charged bolts as he swept her with his leg, taking the stunned senshi out from behind. Jupiter was completely airborne for a split second before crashing to the brick floor. The electricity surrounding the senshi fizzled out, leaving everyone in total darkness amongst the remnants of Donnie’s lab.

Chapter Text

Chapter 150:

“What... have I... done?” Jupiter muttered under her breath, struggling mightily to remain conscious. Sharp jolts of pain swam through every inch of her electrified body until the last of the tingly currents faded away. Summoning the ethereal dragon in her weakened condition was a grave mistake, but how could she possibly turn on Sailor Moon after all they’ve been through? It was almost as if a dark force had taken control over her actions, filling her with hatred and malevolence directed at the turtles and even her best friends. She felt free of those sinister thoughts for the moment, but they were replaced with guilt and regret. Using her celestial abilities on her fellow senshi was more unforgivable than Rei’s nasty remarks at the hotel room. Usagi could’ve died if the shelled mutant did not intervene and put an end to her violent outburst.

“JUPITER!” Sailor Moon raced to her guardian’s side. She bent down beside the athletic warrior and pulled her into a tight hug. “Are you hurt?”

The sudden jerk caused Makoto to wince in agony, but she gladly accepted the warm embrace while the others surrounded her. Leonardo kept his katana held at the ready, fully prepared to strike in case the senshi wished to resume their fight.

“I’m so sorry.” Jupiter shook her head in shame while avoiding Usagi’s worrisome blue eyes. The pigtailed girl worried about her well-being, even after she had just tried to tear her apart with an electrical serpent. She truly was selfless and possessed an inner strength that she could never match."I don’t know what got into me."

“That’s because it wasn’t you.” Leonardo stepped forward and sheathed both of his swords behind his shell. He offered his hand back down to the brunette, and this time she accepted it after Usagi reluctantly released her hug. “It’s the corruption of the onyx crystal.”

“Huh?“ a confused Jupiter asked after standing upright. “What do you mean?”

“The dragon’s eyes were radiating a purple haze of pure evil.” the blue masked turtle continued. “I’ve seen those same eyes before… in my brother Raphael, when he was trying to kill me in our dojo.”

“What exactly is this onyx crystal?” a puzzled Sailor Moon asked. She had never heard of such a gemstone before. Could it be more powerful than the silver crystal in her possession? She hoped not.

“I was hoping you’d be able to tell us.” Leonardo grimaced. “Shredder was harnessing the strange crystal to power up a laser cannon in the techno drome while we were on a mission to rescue our master. We defeated him in battle and kicked tin-head through a portal, but he took the shard with him. The gemstone possesses the magic to heal wounds, but also corrupts those who touch it, or get exposed to its light, especially those who are susceptible to anger and negative thoughts.”

“Like me... I remember... an armored man wielding a staff with a shimmering capstone... It flashed into my eyes before I passed out.” Jupiter sighed. “Once Ami got kidnapped... I... I... lost it...”

“Shredder must have wound up in the dark kingdom.” Sailor Venus joined the conversation with upbeat enthusiasm. “And used his crystal to resurrect Queen Beryl! That would explain his ability to create youma!”

“Dark Kingdom?” Donatello asked. “I’ve never come across such an empire in all of my historical research.”

“It’s too much to get into right now.” Mars interrupted before Venus could start explaining the whole backstory of the dark kingdom and the origin of the Sailor Team. “All that matters now is that Queen Beryl has returned, and we must defeat her before its too late.”

“What exactly is she planning?” Leonardo asked. “You’ve defeated her once before?”

“It appears that she is having that scary Shredder gather energy so that she can call forth the Supreme Evil... Queen Metalia once again.” Sailor Moon answered, clearly concerned over the current predicament. She tried her best to remain calm, but could not stop thinking about Ami. It would be impossible to seal Beryl away without her help.

“Energy?” April O’Neil pulled a notepad out of her pocket and scribbled down notes. This story completely fascinated her. “What do you mean by that exactly?”

“Metalia feeds off the essence and soul within all living beings.” Sailor Venus answered. “That is why the foot clan attacked in crowded places like the ferry and public library. They will drain the life force out of the mass public and return it to the dark kingdom where Beryl can harness it to grow Metalia into an unstoppable force.”

“I see. That would explain why there were no deaths reported during both incidents.” April nodded as she scrolled through the live newsfeed on her cellphone. “They reported countless victims to be lethargic and sickly, some too weak to even walk on their own accords. It is as if their very soul has been sucked out of their bodies.”

“They will remain feeble and helpless.” Mars awkwardly added to her mentor. “Unless we can put an end to Queen Beryl’s plan.”

“What will happen if Beryl is successful in summoning this Metalia?” Leonardo questioned the red clad senshi. The swordsman wore a very serious expression on his green mug, clearly concerned about their dire predicament.

“The Supreme Evil will invade this city and we will all die.” Mars said. She closed her eyes and shuddered, remembering the terrifying vision she experienced the night before leaving Japan as she spoke. “It will roll through the sky, blanketing the moon and stars with its massive presence until all of New York City is swallowed under its control. An army of youma will attack the populace, reducing the entire population to mindless slaves. Metalia will absorb all of their energy and grow strong enough to spread around the entire world.”

“Total Bummer!” the expressive Michelangelo exclaimed. “I bet all the pizzerias in town would get closed down if that happens!”

“Beryl will rule over the lethargic masses once the earth has succumbed to Metalia’s will and there will be no one strong enough left to resist her once she disposes of us.” Mars ignored the goofy turtle’s remarks and continued with her dire warning. “I fear it is already too late for us to stop her momentum. I’ve seen all these events unfold in a vision the night before I traveled here. I should not have ignored the warning signs.”

“No, we have not lost just yet! If Beryl collected enough energy, the invasion would have begun already!” a desperate Sailor Moon shrieked. “The vision can’t come true! Maybe it was just a bad dream! That’s all!”

“I believe the Shredder is planning another attack for tomorrow.” Donatello proclaimed. “If what you are saying is true, then I predict that his next target will be on a much larger scale. A place that is packed and condensed with a great number of people so that he can effectively deploy his footsoldiers and their weaponry once again. The only question is, where will he strike?”

“I think I know.” Jupiter spoke up, snaring everyone’s attention.

Chapter Text

Chapter 151:

 “Tomorrow evening is the last game of the subway series between the Mets and Yankees at Citi Field.” Sailor Jupiter started. "I’m sure there will be a sell-out crowd at the stadium, with raucous fans ready to cheer on their favorite team. It is the perfect setting for Shredder and Beryl to strike."

“That’s an astute observation.” Donatello agreed. “There’s a high probability that you might be onto something.”

“I agree.” A dour Mars nodded. “A baseball stadium packed with unsuspecting New Yorkers is an ideal target for our enemies. If they are successful, Beryl will have more than enough energy to call forth the Supreme Evil and bring forth the destruction of this planet.”

“I won’t let that happen because we will defeat Queen Beryl’s wicked plan and seal her away for good this time!” Sailor Moon shook off her guardian’s negativity and clasped her hands together in hopefulness as if she was praying for such a positive outcome. “I promise you… that if we work together, we will save Ami and Raphael and bring them both home where they belong!”

“We will do our best, but it will not be easy. There are no guarantees that we will succeed.” Sailor Mars cautioned. Lasting images of her prophetic vision flashed inside her mind’s eye once again. Vicious Youma rampaged over the ruins of New York City… A wounded Sailor Moon slowly bleeding to death at the hands of an unknown giant… Queen Beryl ending her own life…  She would die a failure… unable to protect her princess in her time of need. “You must be careful and not act so recklessly like you did against the Rat King. Things are very different this time around, Sailor Moon! Shredder is a formidable opponent as long as he possesses that crystal.”

“And when this is over.” Usagi ignored her friend’s warning and continued to rant about her high hopes and dreams. “I’m going to take the first flight back to New York to beg my Mamoru for forgiveness. I know in my heart that he will accept my apology. It is still my destiny to marry him and celebrate that special day with Ami and the rest of you!”

“I guess we will get to see a baseball game, after all!” Venus smiled with excitement as she wrapped an arm around Jupiter’s shoulders. She had full confidence in Sailor Moon’s lofty expectations and knew that they could accomplish their goals, even if Rei remained pessimistic about their chances. The mention of Mamoru only reminded her of her hero, Casey Jones. There was no doubt in her mind that she would encounter him again during this adventure, but she wished she had more control over it. Instead, she would have to rely on fate and chance once again. "If only I had my Masked Man’s phone number. I would totally invite him to join us!”

“Who are you talking about?” a perplexed Jupiter asked.

“Oh, a handsome hero saved me, not once but TWICE!” Venus’ heart pounded in her chest at the very thought of the vigilante. Her smile stretched even wider, and she laughed uncontrollably throughout her speech. “I told you I’d find a boyfriend on this trip! I can’t wait for you to meet him, Mako! He is so obsessed with sports and has such a ripped bod! But I saw him first! He’s mine! ALL MINE! HAHAHA!”

“Wait, a second.” April muttered in confusion. Could this ditzy girl in the orange skirt possibly be referring to Casey Jones? The very thought of her ex-boyfriend repulsed her. He was a self-centered, egotistical slob who only cared about beating up gangsters and his favorite sport teams. Then she realized she had seen this girl’s face somewhere before. This appeared to be the same one from the viral video taken earlier today at the docks! The same girl that Vern and Thompson were gushing over, making Rei get visibly jealous.

“Okay, so here is the plan.” Leonardo interrupted the banter. “Donatello, Michelangelo and I will patrol the skys above the city in the turtle blimp. We will keep a lookout for Shredder’s reappearance and be prepared to counter should the foot clan decide to choose another target.”

“What about us?” Sailor Moon asked. “We want to help too, you know! Can’t we please ride the blimp with you? PLEASE! It sounds like so much fun!”

“No.” Leonardo shook his head in annoyance as he picked up a shell-shaped device from amongst the electronics scattered on the floor. He flipped it open to make sure the device was operational before tossing it over to the immature girl. “I suggest you get some tickets for the big game. We will stay in contact with the turtle-comm I just gave you throughout the day. If Shredder strikes, call us and we will be there to assist you in no time.”

“No fair!” Sailor Moon grumbled in dismay. “I want to fly in the blimp!”

“Leonardo is right.” Mars argued, trying her best to ignore Usagi’s persistent whining. “We will prepare to fight at the stadium, but the turtles can respond anywhere in the city in case our guess is wrong. This covers all angles. It’s a sound strategy.”

“Once we engage the enemy, my brothers and I will target Shredder and attempt to disarm him.” Leonardo commanded with authority to all the guests in the room. “Our goal must be to strip him from of that Onyx Crystal before he can gather the energy he needs to satisfy his Queen. If we are successful, Donny can examine the crystal here in the lab and try to locate this unknown dimension. Then we can devise a rescue mission.” 

          Mars could tell that he was a wise tactician by his commanding voice. The mutant’s skills as both a swordsman and leader would be a tremendous asset to their plan. Usagi was right to seek an alliance with the turtles. Maybe there was a way they could survive this mess and avert her nightmare.

“Sailor Moon, you and your team will be responsible to provide us with as much cover as possible.” Leonardo ordered. “Shredder will come armed to the teeth with the foot clan and the rest of his minions. Be prepared for anything. Including more of those demons.”

“You can count on us!” Sailor Moon put her hand out and beckoned for her teammates to join her in a bonding moment of unity. Venus jumped in immediately and placed her glove on top of Usagi’s, followed by Mars. But Jupiter hesitated, eyeing the raven-haired girl with disdain.

“This isn’t over between us.” Jupiter glared at Mars with a scowl of anger across her face. “I will never forgive you for what you said. Your words tore through Ami like a dagger to the heart. Things will never be the same.”

“Jupiter, don’t say that!” Sailor Moon begged. The last thing she wanted was to see another fight break out between the two guardians. “We will find Ami, and everything will be okay, I promise! Please, just make up! Please!”

“I will fight alongside you for one last time until we finally go our separate ways.” Jupiter reluctantly placed her hand on top of Sailor Mars’ glove and squeezed her wrist, giving the red clad senshi a stern glance. She could never forgive Rei, no matter how much Usagi wished it to happen. “Stay out of my way.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 152:

“You girls are all welcome to rest up in our hideout for the night.” Leonardo offered, breaking up the tense situation developing between his new allies before it could escalate any further. “We need to gather our strength for what lies ahead. It won’t be easy. Shredder is tough and merciless! He will stop at nothing to conquer the world!”

“Hey, do any of you gals want some PIZZA?” Michelangelo retrieved the lone box that Venus had saved from the monsters and carried it to the center of the room with a bounce to his step. The pizza loving turtle was willing to share with his guests as his staunch brother had demanded, but was hoping there would be enough of the delicious pie leftover.

“PIZZA!” Usagi and Minako exclaimed in unison. The hungry pair of blondes rushed over to the mutant and flipped over the white lid, eager to dig into a delicious cheese pizza. However, the sight and smell of the pie that greeted their eyes was not appealing at all. Both girls covered their mouths as their faces turned green, gagging at the bizarre contents within the cardboard box.

“Whats the matter, dudettes?” a confused Michelangelo asked as he ripped off the cover. A look of delight immediately crossed his face, and he could not stop himself from grabbing a juicy slice and shoving it into his mouth, devouring it in a single gulp. “HOW’D YOU KNOW TO ORDER THE MIKEY SPECIAL? PEPPERONI, ONIONS AND MARSHMALLOWS DROWNED IN A CLAM SAUCE WITH CHOCOLATE CHIPS AND EXTRA ANCHOVI HEADS! ARE YOU SURE YOU DON’T WANT ANY?”

“NO, THANK YOU!” Usagi took one more peak at the pizza loaded with the array of stray toppings and backed away from the revolting mess. Her stomach had still not fully settled after her drinking binge from the previous night. It seemed so long ago, but the memory of her drunken stupor and the night spent huddled over a toilet bowl was fresh in her mind. She’d rather starve than take a chance on eating that crazy concoction and risk getting sick again.

“AWW, COME ON!” Michelangelo shoved another fully loaded slice into his mouth before offering the box to the rest of their guests. “ANY TAKERS? LAST CHANCE BEFORE I MAKE THIS BOMBASTIC PIE DISAPPEAR!”

“I suppose I’ll try one!” Venus bravely approached the box and grabbed the smallest piece available. “I went through hell to save this silly pizza after all.”

“AWESOME!” Michelangelo tore another slice for himself and held it up as if making a toast. A couple of fish heads fell to the floor, and marshmallow clam sauce dripped down his hand as the turtle grinned. “Heres’ to orange, our totally tubular favorite color!”

“TO ORANGE!” Venus giggled before taking a bite.

“I CAN’T LOOK!” Usagi covered her eyes with her gloves, unable to watch her companion take a taste of the turtle’s specialty pie.

It’s not bad actually!” Venus raised her eyebrows and took a larger bite with no hesitation. “The marshmallows and chocolate chips really compliment the clam sauce! Have a bite Usagi, you won’t even taste the anchovy heads!”

“You can take a whole slice if you want it, rice-ball head!” Mikey offered her another piece, but Usagi backed away from it. Instead, it was Minako who snatched the pizza out of the turtle’s hand and chomped into, savoring every bit of the unusual toppings.

“HEY, don’t call me that!” Usagi yelled at the mutant but could not believe that Venus had already finished eating her first slice and was hungry for more. The unlikely pair devoured the rest of the pie, going slice for slice until all that remained in the box were a couple pieces of crust and an anchovy head jutting out of a marshmallow.

Chapter Text

Chapter 153:

“That was absolutely delicious!” Sailor Venus exclaimed, licking the rest of the clam sauce off her lips to get one last taste of her unlikely treat. The combination of bizarre toppings left her craving for more. “Whoever invented this is a genius!”

“You’re a bodacious babe! I knew you’d like it!” Michelangelo chuckled. “I’m kinda like an expert in the art of the crust! My brother Donny may be great with machines and all, but nobody can light a candle to my pizza crafting ability.”

“I may have to bring this back to Japan with me!” Sailor Venus jumped. “Maybe I’ll open my own pizzeria someday and specialize in whacky pies like this after I get married. I can see it now Minako and Masked Man’s Maniacal pizza!”

“I wouldn’t give up on your dream of becoming a star idol just yet!” Sailor Moon loved pizza and wanted her friend to succeed in whatever she dreamed, but even she knew that this idea was a disaster in the making.

“AWESOME IDEA, CHICA! I’ve come up with plenty of more pies, just like that. Lets see here…” Mikey grabbed his chin, recalling more of his delectable inventions. “There’s peanut butter and avocado with extra pickles…  Granola and licorice with extra garlic and chocolate fudge, ohhhh I know… shredded coconut with jellybeans… Strawberries and tuna… and popcorn with banana and chili peppers… OHH your going to love this next one…”

“Excuse me for a moment…” an antsy Sailor Venus clutched her rumbling stomach and made a mad dash out of the laboratory. The strange mixture of toppings did not seem to agree with her any longer, and the talk of all these crazy pies only made her stomach churn. There did not appear to be any working bathroom in the turtle’s lair as she rushed in and out of the various tunnels in the hideout, looking for a place to relieve herself. She would have to figure something out in the sewers, and fast! “I’ll be right back!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 154:

    Usagi chased after her guardian and tripped over a tangled set of cables and multi-colored wires on her way out of the cluttered laboratory. The klutz bumped into the tech-savvy turtle who sorted through the piles of his damaged equipment and computer hardware, trying to separate what he could salvage amongst the mess Jupiter had made of his tactical operations room. Donatello fumbled the switchboard in his hands and watched it crack against the floor as the pigtailed girl bounced off his shell and hit the ground just as hard as the ruined electronic device.

“I’m so sorry!” Sailor Moon scrambled over to the broken piece of equipment and scooped up all the various parts that had fallen off the hardware and handed them back over to the turtle in a jumbled clump of metal parts. “And I apologize for my guardian Sailor Jupiter and what she did to your lab. Please forgive her.”

“It’s alright.” Donatello sighed as he dumped the broken components into a wastebasket. He was going to have a busy night between cleaning out his chamber and getting at least a few of his computers back into an operational capacity. If only he could be carefree like his brother Mikey, who continued to lick the remaining sauce left behind on the pizza box as he carried it out of the laboratory."It’s the onyx crystal that made your companion snap and I hold no ill will towards her I assure you. Besides, I failed to defeat Shredder and allowed him to kidnap Mercury."

“Please don’t blame yourself.” Sailor Moon comforted the anguished turtle by rubbing the top of his shell with a gloved hand. “I should have been there to protect her as well.”

“Mercury is highly intelligent in addition to her impressive combat abilities.” Donatello commented after noting that the pigtailed girl looked very sad at the thought of her missing companion. “She even helped me troubleshoot the turtle van’s engine and make a repair that I had overlooked for months!”

“Oh, really? That’s Ami for you!” the news made her smile once again. Ami would always go out of her way to help those in need, despite her shyness."She is studying to become a doctor and has a love for computers and all sorts of scientific stuff just like you! I’m sure she’d love to help you rebuild your lab."

“I look forward to it.” Donatello nodded after sweeping up more debris into a pile. “Mercury is resourceful and will find a way to hang on until we rescue her from Shred-head and that vile witch!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 155:

“Sailor Moon.” the stoic Leonardo interrupted. Usagi could not help but remain intimidated by the serious swordsman. “Let Donny get back to work. Come with me, I want to introduce you to someone.”

“Okay.” She quietly followed the turtle into the hideout’s main chamber that looked like a fun place to hangout. They lived in an abandoned subway station from the distant past renovated into a cluttered encampment, complete with modern amenities such as an old television set playing the latest live report from Channel 6 News station and a ratty couch. Illuminated with a mixture of antique lamps and strings of multi-colored Christmas tree lights draped over pipes dangling below the ceiling. There was a cheap folding table stacked with empty pizza boxes, a pool table, chess-set, skateboards, an outdated boom-box, dart board, arcade machines, stacks of comic books, video games, DVDS and other junk scattered about on the floor like traffic cones and rusted street signs. The space looked like a typical teenage boy’s paradise, except for the intricate Japanese scrolls adorning the walls,bonsai trees, and an array of teapots, whisks and cups usually associated with traditional tea ceremony stacked neatly on shelves of a wooden cupboard. Who did these more intricate items belong to?

 The turtle escorted her over to a cot where a hairy figure wheezed under a patchy blanket. When she got a closer look, it took all her restraint not to scream and run away from the ugly mutant. His master was a humanoid rat in pretty rough shape from the severe beating he took at the hands of the Shredder and his foot clan. The thought that Mercury was now his prisoner made her shudder in fear. She prayed that her dear friend was still alive.

“This is our master, Splinter.” Leonardo knelt beside his sensei and closed his eyes in sorrow. The sight of the ailing rat devastated him. “He raised us, gave us a home and taught us the art of ninjitsu. My brothers and I wouldn’t be the ninjas we are today if it weren’t for his tutelage. He doesn’t have much time left.”

“You said you had to rescue him in a place called the Technodrome.” a puzzled Usagi recalled. “Why would that meanie Shredder want to harm this poor old rat for? And what is this Technodrome?”

“Our war goes back many years...” Leonardo told his new ally about the ninja turtles’ origin. Detailing the rivalry between Hamato Yoshi and Oroku Saki... the death of his wife Tang Shen and their newborn daughter in a tragic fire... the strange ooze that turned Splinter into a rat and mutated the turtles... their years spent training the art of ninjitsu in the sewers... their countless battles with Shredder... the Technodrome... Krang... and others... leading up to their most recent encounter... the onyx crystal... and the disappearance of Raphael.

“I’m so sorry to hear how you’ve all suffered at the hands of this evil man.” Sailor Moon hesitated at the sight of the freakish rat, but found the courage to pet his furry cheek. Tears rolled down her cheeks after learning about the fate of the rat’s family when he was still human. He had suffered in his life. A senseless act of jealously and hatred ruined a union of true love that forever altered his life. It was such a tragedy, but in that loss, he had gained a family in the four ninja turtles. They all loved him in their own way, especially Leonardo, who seemed to value his teachings and wisdom the most."It’s truly unforgivable. I’ll help you defeat Shredder in any way that I can, I swear it!"

Chapter Text

Chapter 156:

“Now that you know about us...” Leonardo did not take his eyes off his sickly master. “Who... or what are the Sailor Senshi exactly?”    

Sailor Moon informed Leonardo about the complex origins of the Sailor Team... their former lives as guardians from a long-forgotten past... Beryl’s jealousy and infatuation with Prince Endymion of earth and her anger over his betrothal to the moon princess which led to a terrible war... Metalia’s ancient destruction over the Moon Kingdom and murder of the moon princess and all of her guardians.

“Beryl was sealed away by my ancient mother, Queen Serenity who sacrificed her life to save me and my guardians... casting the very essence of our souls to the future in a time of peace where we could live our lives anew as her final act of love... her final wish was that I could one day be with my destined prince and achieve our destiny of marrying one another.” Sailor Moon continued talking to the intrigued turtle. The thought of Mamoru, her prince, made her heart ache. “Queen Beryl was reincarnated into our time and attacked Japan. I met a talking cat named Luna, who awoke me to my powers and revealed my past self. She helped me locate and rally my lost guardians.”

“A talking cat?” a perplexed Leonardo commented. “Better keep her away from Splinter.”

“Together, we defeated Beryl with the silver crystal entrusted to me.” Sailor Moon showcased her moon stick, with her prized gem seated inside a yellow crescent moon on top of a pink handle.

“It is ironic that both of our enemies have resorted to violence after being spurned by their desired love.” Leonardo surmised. “I think that this will garnish distrust between them at some point. One is bound to betray the other. It’s only a matter of time. We can use this to our advantage.”

“Beryl has manipulated many men in the past.” Sailor Moon continued. “She seduces her servants and declares them to be her Heavenly King, promising them wealth, power, love or whatever else they may desire.”

“Shredder has most likely fallen into the witch’s trap.” Leonardo confirmed. “That explains his devotion to her cause. He’s using his army of foot clan to gather energy to fulfill her wishes, but I’m sure he has no intention of sharing his rule, should they be successful.”

The longer she talked to the turtle, the more trust she placed in him. His presence gave her a glimmer of hope that they could indeed stop Beryl before it was too late. Although she tried to remain optimistic in front of her fellow guardians, she was terrified about the upcoming battle. What if something terrible happened to Ami? Would Jupiter and Mars be able to put aside their differences and work together? All she wanted was for the team to be at full strength… All she wanted was for them to be together again, have an innocent night of fun at a pizzeria… or sing karaoke with them. Why did all of this have to happen? Would their friendships ever return to normal? Or did Jupiter really mean it when she said nothing would ever be the same again. And what about her relationship with Mamoru? None of that would matter if Mars’ vision of their deaths became a reality. The turtles were her best hope to make this all go away.

“Master Splinter would be proud of you.” Leonardo lifted her chin with a green finger, as if he had sensed her inner sadness. “The way you saved the ferry from crashing and the mercy you showed to the Rat King are the makings of an honorable ninja warrior.”

“Ninja? No way! I’m just a klutz and a scatterbrain!” She chuckled. “Fighting isn’t really my thing. I hate it!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 157:

“Rei?” April O’Neil asked once they were finally alone in Donatello’s ruined laboratory. Her eyes widened in stunned disbelief that her stoic intern was standing before her in sailor senshi suit with red high heels and a golden tiara resting atop her crown of raven hair. She looked like a fantastic superhero taken straight out of a Japanese manga. “Is that really you?”

“Yes.” she nodded awkwardly to her mentor. “Sailor Mars, guardian of fire, war and justice.”

“And I assume those are the girls that caused all the problems back at the Sunset Inn?” the yellow clad reporter palmed her forehead. “I never would have guessed that you were a team of magical guardians of the solar system. Are you aliens or something?”

“I sincerely apologize for all the trouble we’ve caused you. Their behavior is no excuse for my incompetence.” Mars sighed. “And no, we are not aliens!”

“Then what are you apologizing for?” April laughed. “Those two blondes seem like a lot of fun and they saved so many lives on the ferry today! Your other friend kinda scares me though, I must admit.”

“Sailor Jupiter is angry because I flipped out on everyone this morning once I realized I was going to be late to work again.” Mars confessed. “The truth is, I didn’t want them to follow me here to New York. All I wanted was to spend my summer learning how to be an amazing reporter like you. Reading about your famous background and daring style of journalism inspired me. I worked so tirelessly to enroll in this internship, but everything has gone wrong ever since I told my friends I was coming here.”

“Glad to see at least someone appreciated my efforts.” April muttered under her breath, still annoyed with her boss. She worried that she may have overreacted in quitting the company, but there was no turning back now.

“I suppressed my feelings and put up with their antics until I finally couldn’t take it anymore. Now Ami got kidnapped and its all because of my selfishness. Jupiter is right about me. I don’t deserve any of their forgiveness. I’m not even worthy to fight alongside them in this upcoming battle. I even renounced myself as Sailor Senshi in total disgrace.”

“Come on, you can’t give up just like that!” April encouraged. “I’ve only known you a few short days, but I can already tell that you are way too hard on yourself. Redeem your honor by defeating Shredder alongside the turtles and rescue your friend.”

“You are right.” Mars nodded solemnly. But she did not think things would be so simple and easy. Her vision of a ruined New York and slain Sailor Moon was still at the forefront of her mind. Tomorrow may be their last chance to stop Beryl’s wicked plans. Hopefully Jupiter’s guess proves to be correct. “I wish had your resolve. You thrive at Channel 6 despite having a despicable boss and a sleazy coworker that tries to one-up you at every chance he gets. You won’t allow them to deter your passion for broadcasting.”

“Actually…” April hesitated slightly as a bead of sweat dripped down her head. She knew her next words were going to be difficult for her protegee to digest and she was ashamed that she didn’t take her intern’s fate into consideration. Thompson would fire Rei now, and if he didn’t, he’d make her life a living hell. “I kind of quit my job today.”

“WHAT!” Mars gaped; her jaw dropped to the floor. “WHY? Why on earth would you do that? You are the standard of Channel 6 News!”

“Well to be honest, it was because of you.” a nervous April confessed. “When you stormed out of that conference room I…”

“I didn’t mean for this to happen.” Mars shook her head in grief. She remembered seeing those fools Fenwick and Thompson gawking over Minako when the CEO brought her viral video up on the screen. Her jealousy returned to the surface, and she had left work without their permission to do so in a fit of rage. Those immature actions must have fallen squarely on Ms. O’Neil. It was most likely her third strike, and April had fallen on the sword with her. “I was insubordinate… unruly… I couldn’t get out of my own way… Now I’ve ruined your reputation as well.”

“No, don’t feel bad, Rei!” April smiled. “I think you misunderstood what I meant. I quit because I saw that you, a college intern from Japan, had the guts to stand up to those no-good bums Thompson and Vern! I let those pinheads push me around for far too long. It was totally unacceptable that they made you clean the men’s room. It was about time that I showed them who really runs that station, so I exploded on them for their abusive treatment towards us. I even gave Fenwick a smack right across his face!”

“That must have felt good.” Rei smirked ever so slightly. “Did it leave a mark?”

“One as red as your skirt!” the reporter chuckled at the sight of her intern lightening up.

“So, what are you going to do now?” Mars asked. Her shame and embarrassment had turned to pride at the fact that she could have such a tremendous impact on her own mentor. She was happy to see April put her foot down, but did not want to see it come at the cost of her successful career. Maybe there was a way that April could get her job back and humble those arrogant men at the same time.

“I’m thinking about going to the station in the morning and securing some press-passes and a top-notch camera crew for the big game tomorrow.” April grinned. Rei could tell that her mentor had a plan up her yellow sleeves. “Something tells me it’s going to be wild, and I want to have my intern there with me to cover it live and in person. Are you with me?”

“Of course!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 158:

     Leonardo finished talking for the evening and wished to spend the rest of the night alongside his sickly master, caring for him in what might be his last moments. Michelangelo provided the Sailor Senshi with a spare room so that they could spend the rest of the night here in the hideout before joining his two brothers. It was almost 3 A.M. so there was no point in returning to the Sunset Inn at this late hour. Sailor Moon was eager to get to bed. Today had been an endless day, and there would be a final showdown against their enemies in less than twenty-four hours. The anticipation of fighting again made her so nervous and scared. It would be impossible to get any sleep knowing that Ami was still missing. She missed her so much.

Sailor Moon started walking away, but paused for a moment to turn towards the depressed turtles hovering over their dying master. The sight of the mutants still startled her, but she felt the raw emotion of the pupils and their sensei. It saddened her heart to see them so upset. They truly were a family, mourning the loss of not only their fourth brother but their beloved master as well. She could not go to bed without comforting the turtles after hearing how they suffered at the hands of Shredder for so many years. They have already proven to be an invaluable help and she could not sit idly by.

“My friend Ami can cure him!” Sailor Moon approached the ninja turtles kneeling at their master’s bedside to offer them a glimmer of hope. “She is not a doctor yet, but…”

“What we need is a top ranked veterinarian who specializes in highly mutated rodents.” A hopeful Donatello commented. “Perhaps she can help me run some tests and produce an anti-dote if she concludes a positive diagnosis.”

“There’s not enough time for your experiments, Donnie.” a barely coherent Leonardo choked up, waving the senshi away. “I fear he will not make it through the night in his current condition. Please allow us to say our last goodbyes.”

“Are there any more of you Sailor Senshi out there that can help us?” a desperate Donatello asked. “Do the planets Saturn, Neptune, Uranus and Pluto also have sailor guardians? “

“Yes, they exist, too. But I don’t think we can count on them in this fight.”

It had been some time since she had last heard from the outer senshi. She had tried to remain in contact with them after the defeat of Galaxia, but they had slipped out of her life. There had been no word from any of them since she had started college. This contributed to her secret fears that Mars, Mercury, Jupiter and Venus would eventually follow suit and drift down their own separate paths.

“If only Raph coulda snagged that dang rock.” the usually happy-go-lucky Mikey lamented. Overcome with grief, he knelt beside the cot. Donnie joined him, patting his brother on the shell.

“I’ve failed you, sensei.” Mikey’s comment only seemed to further irritate the dour swordsman, for it reminded him of his failed attempts to rescue their lost sibling from the dark kingdom. Why couldn’t they have stuck together and found a way to improve Splinter’s condition instead of fighting amongst themselves. He joined his brothers, bidding his master a last farewell. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t say that! Have faith!” Sailor Moon’s long pigtails fluttered about as she shook her head wildly. Tears flooded out of her eyes like a waterfall, splattering on the rat’s brown fur. “Sailor Mercury can heal your master! If anyone can save him, it is her!”

“Well, she’s not here.” a frustrated Leonardo turned to face the senshi. “And neither is Raph with that cursed crystal.”

“Where…is… Raphael?” Splinter groaned, blinking his eyes open.

“MASTER!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 159:

A swarm of rage, anger, hatred and fury unlike anything he had ever experienced fueled Raphael’s body after helplessly witnessing Shredder cut down Sailor Mercury before his very eyes in the center of the ruined castle. The essence of the onyx crystal surged throughout his entire body, filling his muscular arms and legs with immense power. The growing entity of Metalia swirled faster and faster overhead, as if it was feeding off his fierce reaction. Instead of resisting the evil anomaly’s control, he succumbed to the force, allowing it to grant him even more strength beyond his imagination. He pounded against the electrical barrier encasing him with the thirst for blood and vengeance and found that he was no longer harmed by the currents. The sudden surge left him hungry for bloodshed. Shredder and that vile witch would pay for what they’ve done!

The pulsating energy around him weakened from his relentless strikes and the electrically charged dome itself cracked until it finally shattered like a broken glass window. Raphael pushed through the barrier, his arms stretched outward, ready to strangle his archenemy to death. Shredder stood arrogantly over Mercury’s corpse, with fresh blood still dripping from his claws. He beckoned for his mutated adversary to challenge him, eager to finish him once and for all.

“Foolish turtle.” Queen Beryl swung her silver staff, flashing the darkness of her onyx crystal at the possessed Raphael. The wicked magic drew him away from Shredder like a magnet, bending him to the crystal’s will. Raphael collapsed at her feet, unable to move an inch. “You fell right into my trap just as expected!”

“When will you allow me to slay that retched reptile once and for all?” Shredder asked his Queen. He brandished his claws, still drenched with Sailor Senshi blood. “My patience is wearing thin. I’ve had enough of your games!”

“Oh, my Heavenly King our revenge will be so sweet, I assure you.” The demonic witch stepped over the restrained mutant and over to the prone Sailor Mercury, lying motionless in a puddle of her own blood. She pushed aside the metal mask covering his scarred cheek and leaned forward for a kiss, but pulled her plump lips back at the last moment to tease the intimidating warlord. “If everything goes according to plan tomorrow, I’ll see to it that you are handsomely rewarded. Anything you desire shall be yours, my Heavenly King. Revenge on the turtles, domination over New York...and  most importantly... this precious body of mine I know you covet... hahaha!”

“Very well.” Shredder took a knee and bowed his helmeted head low to honor the Queen of the Dark Kingdom. Beryl’s radiant beauty and soft voice left him fully entranced. He forgot about the vulnerable turtle for the moment, consumed by the prospect of their imminent victory. Not only would he slay the pesky turtles and get rid of them for good, but he would conquer the entire planet and have the most beautiful sorceress in the Universe at his side! But there was one more thing he wanted to that she did not mention... the onyx crystal. Surely it was his by right as her King. If she refused to relinquish it to him permanently, then he would bring her to heel.

Chapter Text

Chapter 160:

Raphael realized Beryl had played him as a fool. His rage forced him to give in to the onyx crystal. The wicked essence within his body granted him the immeasurable power to escape his confines, but his freedom had been short-lived. His eyes had vanished, replaced once again by the evil dwelling within, only this time he was incapable of resisting its spread. The nasty parasite had taken hold of its host, conquering everything from his muscles and bones to his mind itself.

“This wretched freak is under our full control.” Berly glowered down at the stunned mutant. She nudged him onto his yellow chest with her staff and placed a spiked heel on top of his shell to pin him against the cold marble floor to show her dominance. “The inner anger and hatred dwelling within allowed him to surrender to my precious crystal at long last. Metalia has devoured both his body and soul. Now he is a pawn for our use.”

“Our enemies deserve nothing but pain and torment for their insolence, but I want the turtle dead, just like that weakling!” Shredder insisted while pointing at the still Mercury. He did not like the idea of fighting alongside Splinter’s student, even if he was being controlled by the Supreme Evil.

“Its such a pity. This one could’ve joined our cause, but she resisted me until the bitter end, preferring death then bowing before her rightful Queen.” Beryl bent down aside Sailor Mercury and caressed her cheek with the back of her soft hand, brushing aside her blue hair to expose more of her youthful face. “A true monarch must show mercy, compassion and forgiveness to the ignorant masses. I believe I will allow this one a second chance to atone for her crimes.”

“Mercy is for the weak!” an aghast Shredder spun back to his feet only to find Beryl waving her staff over the prone senshi while muttering words in an ancient tongue that he did not understand. Sailor Mercury levitated off the floor and floated towards the hole in the ceiling, past the few remaining bubbles, until the red storm cloud enveloped her lifeless form. Lightning flashed overhead, followed by deafening booms of thunder drowned out by the maddening laugh of Beryl. The storm intensified, its wind swirling down into the ruins of the castle to where the armored warrior had trouble maintaining his footing on the tile.

   Beryl had no trouble standing tall in the fierce wind. She stretched both hands overhead, pointing her staff at the Supreme Evil, hoping Metalia was indeed strong enough to grant her this wish. Her fiery red hair whipped about in the wind as Mercury emerged from the storm and descended in an aura of darkness. Shredder noticed that something about the young woman had changed. Her torn Sailor Suit was no longer ripped and stained with blood. The baby-blue bow adorning her chest was now black, as were her knee-high boots. Her plain and boring face had also changed somewhat upon closer inspection. Metalia had apparently given her a makeover, painting her lips and lining her eyes with an intense black. The Senshi also held a weapon in one of her gloved hands. A magical sword, composed entirely of ice that chilled the very air around them.

“Welcome, Dark Mercury!” Queen Beryl grinned once the transformed Senshi landed on the floor. The aura around the revived fighter dissipated and the swirling storm returned to its place above the castle, leaving the four individuals alone in the quiet chamber. Ice spread around the Sailor Senshi’s boots, covering the marble with a thin layer of frost.

Mercury had believed herself dead, drifting towards a bright light until a darkness seized hold over her sprit and offered the gift of rebirth, promising revenge against those who had wronged her. Ami still refused, eager for the peace and warmth of the light at the end of the tunnel, but a foul entity tugged her away from it. She flailed her arms, desperate to reach the goodness ahead, but could not overcome the grip that had taken hold over her spirit. The light diminished into a lone speck until it vanished entirely and everything went black.

Now here she was alive once again, standing before the sadistic Queen Beryl and her Heavenly King, armed with a deadly new weapon. She glanced towards the blade in her hands and found herself empowered by its very presence. With this ice-sword she could slay all those who stood in her way, starting with her ancient enemy.

“DIE!” Dark Mercury screeched. She slashed with her sword, gritting her teeth with the desire to sever the Queen’s head clean off her body in one swoop.

“Metalia has granted you abilities far greater than any other sailor senshi and this is the thanks I get?” The queen blocked the strike with her staff and grinned, allowing her crystal to pulsate into the senshi’s mind. “Do not turn your sword on your lovely Queen. You know exactly whose death you must seek within your dark heart. Those who have betrayed you all these years, search within for the answer!”

Ami clutched the black bow on her chest with her free hand as the onyx crystal pierced into her brain. She felt its presence within her and the influence it provided. Images of Usagi, Rei, Minako, and Makoto flashed across her mind’s eye. They laughed and giggled, pointing at her while whispering secrets about her into each other’s ears. She found that the sight of her former friends repulsed her. They never respected her abilities as senshi or truly valued her as a friend, only using her for her supreme level of knowledge and intelligence. Beryl was right. She never truly fit in with them. The Sailor Team had abandoned her, leaving her to die alone in the library. Sailor Moon had not come to save her. Instead, it was the Supreme Evil that brought her back into this dimension, preventing her passage into the afterlife. The essence of Metalia fueled her with negative energy directed towards her old companions, especially the one who had hurt her the most... the arrogant and conceited Rei Hino.

“DESTROY THEM ALL...” a dark voice within thundered within, rattling her brain to its core. “AMI THE GENIOUS!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 161:

      Leonardo bowed low to his sick master, hanging his head while explaining all that had transpired since their victory on the Technodrome. The grim ninja turtle detailed his dispute with Raphael in their dojo and his eventual capture through a portal in Casey’s apartment. He described Shredder’s recent attacks on the Staten Island Ferry and Public Library, including his method of draining the energy out of civilians with the foot clan’s laser guns and onyx crystal staff in his possession.

“Shredder has made an alliance with our ancient enemy, Queen Beryl. She is attempting to call forth the Supreme Evil Metalia into this world using the energy she has stolen from the public. We cannot allow her to succeed!” Sailor Moon clasped her gloved hands together. “They have captured one of my guardians as well.”

“Exactly who are these young ladies?” Splinter extended his furry hand over to the female strangers, clad in their sailor suits with various colored skirts and bows. He eyed the pigtailed girl with reverence. Her tears had not cured him, but they contained a magical energy, giving him renewed strength to hold on to life for just a bit longer. She had a special presence about her. "What is your name?"

“They are the Sailor Senshi.” Leonardo explained before the energetic Usagi cut him off with a dramatic introduction. She hopped in front of Splinter and shouted in her unusually high-pitched voice.

“I am the pretty guardian of love and Justice, Sailor Moon!” the pigtailed girl squealed loudly before striking a pose. “In the name of the Moon, I shall punish that meanie Shredder and Queen Beryl! Together we will rescue our companions and bring them back safe and sound!”

“Righteous, babe!” Michelangelo pumped his fist. “Then we can celebrate with some PIZZA!”

“Can we just get a plain pie for our victory party?” Sailor Venus cradled her bloated belly with both hands. “I don’t think my stomach can handle another Mikey special.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 162:

“Hmm... Sailor Senshi... that sounds oddly familiar.” Splinter grabbed his chin in thought, despite the ongoing banter between the two troublemakers clad in orange. “I remember hearing legends of such warriors when I was a boy living in Japan.”

“Oh? How interesting!” April O’Neil jumped into the conversation after hearing the unique connection. She wondered what else the ninja master might know about them. “Do you remember when I told you about my Japanese intern? Well, she turned out to be one of these badass women. I’m so glad I can introduce you to her.”

“The shrine maiden?” Splinter asked. He spotted the black-haired girl standing beside April and sensed an unusual aura around her. This one clearly had knowledge of secretive Japanese arts that were rarely practiced in the modern world.

“Yep, that’s her!” April nodded with enthusiasm. “What was the name of your temple, Rei?”

“Hikawa.” Mars gazed towards the mutated rat, who eyed her intently.

“Ahh, I am quite familiar with that temple in fact.” Splinter’s eyes widened. He knew the girl’s face looked somewhat familiar. “I believe one of the ninja of my clan was once a priest there. A short and stout, bald man with the family name Hino.”

“My name is Rei Hino.” Mars could not believe the rat’s words, but knew they were true. The sly old man could outwit the apprentice Yuuichirou despite being three times his age. She always wondered how he invented these absurd yet grueling training methods to torture her love-struck admirer, pushing his mind, body and spirit to the breaking point. “The man you are describing sounds just like my grandfather. He is currently the temple’s high priest.”

“Hino was a spry little devil, lightning fast with a bo-staff. I could never quite match his speed.” Splinter recalled fond memories of training from his youth. “And a bit of a skirt chaser too, if I remember correctly.”

“Grandpa Hino hasn’t changed, it seems!” Sailor Venus giggled.

“He never told me anything about being a ninja.” Rei folded her arms in annoyance, but not at her friend’s jests. She couldn’t help but feel a little insulted that her caretaker had never provided her with any such hidden knowledge. Ninja skills would have come in handy while fighting against youma and their countless enemies over the years.

“That is likely because you never asked him.” Splinter grinned. “Besides, I feel you have more familiarity with the way of the ninja than you think. Ninjutsu is much more than just stealth and combat disciplines. I sense that you have experience in more esoteric practices that most of my students, save for Leonardo, tend to resist and lack the patience and required dedication to pursue.”

“I’ve had visions of the future.” a perplexed Rei admitted. She never realized her grandfather had been secretly training her in these arts over the years, but now it all made sense. The long hours spent meditating and staring into the flames. It was all by design. He had been helping her develop her sixth sense without even knowing it."I’ve seen the destruction of New York City. Metalia enveloping the skyscrapers with her never ending storm. An army of youma marching down the streets, draining the lives out of those who could not get away... And Sailor Moon... “

“Stop.” Splinter held up his furry hand. He could tell that the unsettling images troubled the young woman, and he wanted to help put her at ease. “The future is not set in stone until it becomes the present. Let these visions serve as mere warnings of what may happen if we do not take action. There is still time for us all to avoid such a calamity, but if you dwell on the negativity, then it will manifest into reality. Do you understand, Ms. Hino?”

“Yes.” Sailor Mars appreciated the rat’s advice, but could still not get the image of Sailor Moon slain at the hands of an armored giant out of her head. It felt too real for her just to be a mere vision. Everything would hinge on tomorrow’s epic battle. They needed to stop Shredder and Beryl at the baseball game or wherever they attacked next. It was tough to remain optimistic in these dire circumstances. Ami was most likely dead, and they could not seal Beryl away without Ami lending her strength. Sailor Moon knew this as well, but clung to the hope that they could still rescue her.

“Enough small talk.” Splinter bowed before his guests. “I must get some rest. I suggest you do the same. Sleep well.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 163:

“I am responsible for Raphael’s recklessness. He would still be here if it wasn’t for my poor leadership.” an agonized Leonardo prostrated himself before his sensei on the brick floor, begging for his forgiveness once they could finally speak in private. “I am completely lost without your guidance.”

“That is not true, Leonardo.” Splinter advised his diligent pupil. “You have found formidable allies that will aid you in the war to come.”

“I resisted their help initially.” Leonardo shook his head in disgrace. “I’ve used poor judgment and made rash decisions. My lack of discipline does not differ from Raphael.”

“It takes a true humble warrior to admit when he is wrong.” Splinter advised. “We must learn and grow from our mistakes but make certain not to repeat them.”

“I don’t know how we can win this battle, sensei.” Leonardo spoke honestly. “Shredder owns a staff that nullifies the Sailor Senshi’s celestial magic. What if my plan fails and that girl’s vision comes to pass?”

“Find the path to victory, Leonardo. I cannot provide you with all the answers.” Splinter advised his pupil. “Some things you must discover on your own. Believe in yourself.”

“I’m not fit to lead.” he shook his head in grief. “What happened to Raphael proves it.”

“You are a master swordsman, Leonardo.” Splinter continued. “But the mind can be a dangerous enemy capable of overcoming the sharpest katana if we let such thoughts of doubt creep in.”

“What should I do, sensei?” the turtle pressed for advice.

“The girl, Sailor Moon. I sense great anguish and pain dwelling beneath that girl’s cheerful smile. There is more heartache disrupting her besides her missing companion. She is carrying an invisible boulder of worry and uncertainty on her shoulders, just as you are.”

“I did not know this.”

“That is because she is masking it to the best of her ability.” Splinter continued. “I sense great determination and resolve within her. She may not have the looks of a fierce warrior, but I believe she will never give up and fight to the bitter end. If she can carry her burdens into battle, then so can you. You must crush the boulder into the size of a tiny pebble so that it no longer weighs you down.”

“I understand, sensei.” The turtle nodded. “I will put aside these distractions and fight with honor until my very last breath. No matter the outcome.”

“Remember that it is always darkest before the dawn, my son.” Splinter put a reassuring hand on his pupil’s shell before slowly closing his eyes. The conversation had taken a lot out of him. “Look after this Sailor Moon. There is much you can learn from one another. Guide her with your strength. Instill her with the confidence she needs lead her guardians into battle.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 164:

Minako scurried up a rusty ladder and pushed aside a heavy access lid until there was enough room to squeeze her skinny frame through the opening and back into civilization. The sun was just rising, filtering warm rays of light between the towering skyscrapers of Times Square with an orange hue that eradicated the darkness of night. Minako took a deep breath of fresh air and enjoyed the brisk morning wind that blew back her blonde hair. It felt wonderful to be back outside, but she would not be able to enjoy this beautiful day.

The happy-go-lucky blonde thought she was the first one to wake up in the morning. She planned to get out quickly before anyone would notice her absence, tiptoeing past the snoring Usagi and slumbering turtles to make a clear escape. She nearly succeeded until Makoto caught her by surprise at the foot of the ladder.

“Just where do you think you are going?” Makoto emerged from the turtle’s training hall, dripping with sweat from an intense workout, her arms folded across her chest in disgust.

“Umm…” Minako thought of a valid excuse. She explained she was searching for the Masked Man to enlist his help but ensured that she would catch up with them at the game later, regardless of the outcome. Telling her the truth would only complicate things further.

 “Fine, just go!” Makoto was not at all pleased by her unsurprising response and did not argue, allowing Minako to leave without saying another word to her. Minako felt guilty, but that little white lie was the least of her problems.

The truth was that she had to be at Channel 6 News for her first day on the internship. If she did not show up, Rei might get fired. Inevitably, she would run into her new colleague at some point, but she had to do her best to avoid it today, with the looming battle. How would she be able to explain herself without damaging their friendship or hurting Rei’s feelings with the truth? It was a very difficult predicament to be in.

Minako found her way back to the Sunset Inn and skipped past the nerdy receptionist and up the stairs to their tiny room. She picked out a fashionable outfit from her suitcase and brought it into the bathroom before taking a steamy shower. There was plenty of time left for her to brush her hair and apply some makeup to make herself look presentable.

She felt anxious with a bit of excitement and dread over starting her first day at the news station. Maybe this was the fresh beginning and opportunity she was looking for after her disastrous year at the University. Or it could end up being an utter catastrophe like this trip turned out to be thus far.

Chapter Text

 Chapter 165:

  A groggy Usagi awoke only to find herself completely alone in the messy spare room set aside for them by the turtles. She glanced around the vacant chamber with her glazed eyes for a moment, wondering what happened to her friends, before plopping her head back onto her fluffy pillow, eager to get back to sleep. The foul smell, leaky pipes and strange rattling sounds did little to distract her from falling back into a blissful dream where she was back home with Mamoru, enjoying a sundae. If only it was real!

“Rise and shine, MEATBALL HEAD!” the sudden voice of Michelangelo brought her back to reality. Gone was the tasty ice-cream and the visage of her handsome boyfriend, only to be replaced by a mutant turtle devouring another slice of pizza from the cardboard box as he rolled out of the hideout on top a skateboard.

“Wait!” A frantic Usagi scrambled out of the blankets, only to find Makoto pounding her fists into a punching bag dangling on a chain. The messy turtle lair contained a traditional martial arts dojo that looked like it came right out of her homeland, transported into the sewers below the bustling New York City Streets.

“You are up late as always.” Makoto wiped the sweat off her forehead after spotting her companion emerge. Her knuckles were red from relentless strikes into the heavy bag. “I’m glad one of us could get some sleep.”

“Where did the turtles go?” a perplexed Usagi asked. She stretched her arms over her head and let out an exaggerated yawn.

“They went to patrol the skies for any signs of Shredder.” the fighter landed another punch.

“Aww, no fair! I wanted to fly on the blimp!” she pouted. “Where is everyone else? Did I miss breakfast?”

“April and Rei left for the news station early this morning.” Makoto spat at the very mention of their companions. She still held Rei responsible for Ami’s disappearance and would not forgive her. She envisioned Rei’s snooty face on the punching bag and wailed on it once again with a flurry of punches and kicks. The heavy canvas wobbled from its chain as the athletic girl gave it her all.

“And Minako?” Usagi sensed the brewing tension. The two girls had forged a temporary truce for the upcoming battle, but how long was that going to last? They would not win if the Sailor Team could not work together, even with the help of the ninja turtles.

“I caught that boy crazy bimbo sneaking out of the sewers.” Makoto scoffed in disgust. “Typical Minako! She gave me the excuse that she was searching for her masked man to help our cause tonight, but I’m no fool. I know that’s not the real reason. She doesn’t take her duty as senshi seriously anymore. All she cares about is finding a boyfriend! It’s up to the two of us to save Ami. We can’t rely on either of them.”

“That’s not true!” Usagi whimpered.

“Get a grip, Usagi!” Makoto turned from the punching bag to face her friend with an intense stare. “We aren’t in highschool anymore. Things have changed no matter how much you want to deny it!”

“Mako...” Usagi muttered her friend’s name in shock.

“Rei was right about one thing.” Mako slammed a fist into the bag as hard as she could. “The Sailor Team is dead. An enemy appeared and they only care about themselves.”

“Enough.” Master Splinter limped towards the punching bag and steadied it with his wooden staff. The rat remained weak, struggling to stand upright. He had overheard the arguing and felt compelled to intervene. Splinter helped his students resolve their disagreements over the years, but a girl’s drama could prove much more difficult to quell.

“Here, I want you to have this.”Splinter lumbered over to a chest in the corner of the dojo and retrieved a pair of tonfa wrapped in a green cloth. He handed them over to Makoto with both hands, bowing low.

“I’m not worthy of such a gift.” a guilty Makoto unwrapped the bundle and gripped the wooden weapons giving them each a spin. They were plain and simple hand crafted tonfa, worn with use. There was nothing particularly special about them, but she appreciated the kind gesture. “Is there any last wisdom you’d like to share with me, master?”

”You are very strong and physically gifted, Jupiter. But beneath those layers I can sense that you possess very soft and sensitive heart. You are plagued internally with resentment over the capture of your companion. I suggest that you do not let this predicament cloud your judgment despite the pain you feel. It is time to let go of your anger. Never lose sight of your mission.”

“It’s not her fault!” Usagi started to make excuses before the rat held up a finger to silence her.

“Sailor Moon.” the sensei coughed, falling on his knee. “The love you share for your companions enables you to fight beyond the limit you believe you are physically capable of. Your shining resilliance and faith is your greatest shield. Cling to it, even in your darkest hour and you shall never fail. That is my advice for the battle ahead.”

“Master!” Usagi rushed to help the poor rat back to his feet. “Are you alright?”

“My fever has returned.” Splinter admitted as she led him back to his cot. “I may succumb to this poison soon.”

“No, please don’t say that!” she cried. “Keep fighting! Promise me!”

“Do not worry about me, my child. I am not afraid of death.” the ninja master cracked a smiled. “Now go… Go to the ballpark. Have fun, but remain vigilant should the enemy appear.”

“We won’t let you down.” Usagi swore. “Please get some rest!

“One last thing…“ Splinter gasped. His head spun with vertigo but he had one last request. “Show my sons the power of your love… Sailor… Moon… Teach them… there is a path to victory… without… fighting…”

END OF ACT VI
END OF PART 2
STAY TUNED FOR PART 3 AND THE FINAL 3 ACTS!

Chapter Text

PART 3

ACT VII: Take me out to the ball game!

Chapter 166:

“Here, try this on!” April O’Neil rummaged through her closet until she finally found the article of clothing she was searching for deep within the countless horde of dresses, sweaters, pants and stacked pile of shoeboxes. “A journalist must dress the part!

Rei caught the wrinkly bundle in her open arms and held it out before her after entering the bathroom. To her surprise, the garment was a jumpsuit similar to April’s trademark outfit, only this one was red instead of yellow. This clearly wasn’t her style, but she desperately needed a change of clothes after the misadventures from yesterday left her dress stained and reeking of the sewers and river water.

April had led them back to her apartment nice and early so that they could have a chance to wash up and prepare for their big day. The plan was to head over to the News Station and gather the proper equipment and credentials to gain access to Citi Field. If Shredder and his minions were to attack, she would get it all on film and reclaim her tarnished reputation by reporting the incident live. That incredible footage would surely give her leverage in demanding her job back with a well-deserved raise and other perks. The look on Vern’s face would be priceless after the turtles and sailor senshi claimed victory and received their due as heroes. He would be the one cleaning the toilets if she had any say of it!

Rei let the cold waters wash off all her dirt and grime caked on her skin from the skirmish in the sewers. A nice shower was in order ever since the plane had landed, but she could not enjoy it with so much uncertainty facing her today. She desperately wished her phone was working so that she could get in contact with Yuuichirou one last time. If her unsettling vision truly came to pass, then she would perish without telling the handsome apprentice how she felt about him. Another regret to add to her long list. Her ambitions clouded her from what was most important in life, causing her to shun the man who loved her for the simple woman she was, not the rich and famous international star she strived to become in the future. 

“You look great!” April smiled when Rei emerged from bathroom clad in the red jumpsuit. The Japanese intern felt lost in the baggy garment with so many pockets, but April tightened the white belt around her waist and unbuttoned the top two buttons to give her a sexier look. “Let’s do this!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 167:

“Any word from April yet?” a grumpy Burne Thompson dunked a plain donut into his mug and swirled it around for a couple of seconds before shoving the softened treat into his mouth. “I’ve been trying to reach her and that Hino kid all morning!”

“Oh, who cares about them?” Vernon Fenwick grinned as he ripped a pot out of Freida’s hands and poured piping hot coffee into his boss’s cup before she could do so. “There’s no need to worry about anything. I assure you, I will step in and replace April as the top reporter for this station. The ratings for the Vern Report were through the roof last night. I’m sure that trend will continue!”

“That was only because of that blondie from Japan.” Burne took a sip of his coffee and motioned for more sugar. Vern immediately ripped open two tiny packets, emptied their contents into the cup and stirred it with a wooden stick. “Where is our newly hired intern, anyway?”

“Good morning Channel 6 News crew!” Minako Aino announced after entering the conference room.

Her infectious smile snared the attention of the two men who noted her cute yet stylish orange dress that was short enough to accentuate her legs yet conservative enough for television. Everything about her, from the red bow in her long blonde hair down to her heeled shoes, screamed superstar. Freida rolled her eyes at the sight of the adults obviously fawning over the new girl, completely forgetting about her existence.

“Early for her first day on the job. Impressive!” Vern commented after glancing down at his expensive watch. “You are already off to a better start than your friend.”

“I am eager to learn, sir!” Minako ignored the nasty remark. The mention of Rei made her feel uneasy. She needed to get out of here before she showed up. Getting caught in this building could jeopardize their plans to fight Beryl’s forces alongside one another. Her duties as senshi were the top priority. “What stories will we be covering today? Anything exciting in the news?”

“Actually, I’d love to have you in the office with me all day so that we can go over some things.” Mr. Thompson suggested. “There’s plenty that I can teach you about the business without having to deal with the traffic and rude New Yorkers.”

“Pretty please, sir!” Minako begged. “It’s such a beautiful day outside. I don’t want to miss out!”

“I have to admit, I like your enthusiasm.” The C.E.O. remarked. There was no way he could say no to such a gorgeous face. He picked up a stack of papers on the table and shuffled through them until his finger stopped on something of interest. “Let’s see here…”

“Anything good, boss?” Fenwick glanced over his shoulder.

“There is a penguin exhibit scheduled to have its grand opening today at the Central Park Zoo.” Burne grinned at the thought of his new intern reporting at the zoo with a bunch of penguins. The prospect of it could bring mega ratings, especially if hilarity ensued as it did yesterday. “Fenwick, take Ms. Aino and what’s her name over here and go cover this story right away! I want Minako on the nightly report today holding one of those cuddly critters!”

“How cute!” Minako grabbed Vernon’s hand and dragged him out of the conference room before he could even respond. “I LOVE penguins!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 168:

“Hurry up, stupid thing!” Minako repeatedly pushed the button to summon the elevator up to the 42nd floor while Vernon slicked back his greasy black hair with a comb and sipped on a cup of coffee. She was nearly in the clear after executing her plan to perfection. Rei was nowhere in sight. All she had to do was get out of this building and she could enjoy a pleasant morning at the zoo playing with penguins. Usagi would be so jealous when she found out about this!

Minako planned to catch up with the rest of the team at the baseball game later, just as she promised. Together, and with the turtles’ help, they would rescue Ami and put a stop to Queen Beryl’s evil plan. Then she could have that difficult conversation with Rei.

 A ding sounded, and the golden doors parted open. The blonde seized her oblivious mentor by the wrist and yanked him toward the elevator before inadvertently bumping into the person stepping out of it. Minako stumbled on her heels and fell, tackling the bystander to the tile. Vern maintained his footing, but spilled coffee everywhere.

“Minako!” a stunned Rei muttered her friend’s name in disbelief as her butt sank into a puddle of black coffee. She yelped, hopping to her feet from the sudden burning sensation to her backside. Coffee saturated her brand new jumpsuit, but Minako remained untouched. The dumbfounded blonde stood there in a stylish orange dress with her hair and makeup freshly done. “What are you doing here?

“You are looking at the newest star intern of Channel 6 News.” Vernon Fenwick stuck his hand in the elevator door to keep it open. A grin spread across the arrogant man’s face as he gloated about his precious intern. “My discovery here has enormous potential. A natural beauty oozing with charisma. I can see her as a reporter sooner rather than later now that we have a recent vacancy in our ranks. Isn’t that right, April?”

“This is despicable!” April O’Neil grimaced. “I can see right through your act. You and Burne hire Rei’s friend, just pit them against one another. You should be ashamed of yourselves!”

“That’s preposterous!” Vernon held up his hands defensively. “I’m merely giving the people what they want. Our dance video has over thirty million views in less than twenty-four hours on our official youtube account, breaking your record I might add. Besides, after you quit the company so abruptly, the Chief Executive Officer of this fine station had to come up with a contingency plan. So, we inked Miss Aino to a contract.”

“How could you?” Rei ignored the coffee still dripping down the back of her pants and thrust a finger into Minako’s pristine face. Her face flushed with red as deep as her jumpsuit. She balled her hands into fists, shaking them with anger at the sudden betrayal.

“You don’t understand.” Minako backed up at the sight of her friend’s clenched fists. She fumbled for an explanation or excuse that she could give, but Rei cut her off.

“I worked my ass off to enroll in this stupid internship while you drank and chased after boys for nine months!” Rei snapped, silencing her friend. “You couldn’t resist stealing the spotlight from me. I bet you planned this from the very beginning. You are the most selfish person I know! Always looking for your next big break no matter who you have to climb over to get it.”

“Sounds like somebody’s jealous!” Fenwick snickered.

“Shut up, Vern!” April shouted. “This is your doing!”

“This wasn’t my intention!” Minako said. “Believe me!”

“I took my frustration out on the wrong person yesterday.” Rei shook her head in rage. “You are the one who got Usagi drunk in the first place and sabotaged everything I worked so hard for! It’s your fault Ami went missing!”

“I’ve screwed up.” Minako acknowledged. “But we need to put this behind us for her sake!”

“Stay away from me!” Rei refused to accept the pitiful apology. “I never want to speak with you ever again! Get out of my life!”

“Why are you two civilians in the building? This is private property.” Vernon interrupted the argument separating the girls before things could escalate further. “Do I need to call security?”

“I just came to grab some things then I’m out of this place.” April exited the elevator shaft with Rei right behind her. She turned to give the man in the pink shirt a final warning. “If it’s a competition you want, you got one. We will be on the news tonight with a video that will get us a hundred million hits!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 169:

“Cheer up, Rei!” April O’Neil spoke after pulling the Channel 6 News van into a vacant parking spot near the stadium’s main entrance. Her intern had been silent for most of the ride, staring out of the window with a glum look on her face. It was becoming the norm for their brief partnership.

“I’ve always been a bit jealous of Minako.” Rei admitted after stepping out of the vehicle. The game was not starting for another couple of hours, but there were already hordes of excited Mets and Yankee fans making their way towards the rotunda to gain entrance to their seats. “Vern is right about her. Minako has the charisma and beauty to make an excellent television reporter. Traits which I evidently lack.”

“Don’t be so hard on yourself! You’ve only been my intern for a couple of days. You have plenty of skills to make it in this business, trust me!” April smiled. “We will make Fenwick and Thompson pay once I capture this footage of the Sailor Senshi and ninja turtles kicking butt side by side! You will be a viral star too, just like your friend!”

“It doesn’t matter anymore. I shouldn’t have reacted like that.” Rei sighed her eyes were low, fixated on the pavement instead of taking in the massive brick structure surrounding her. “I’ve allowed this internship to drive a wedge into my friendships. If Minako does not come to our aid because of my harsh words, then I not only let Usagi down, I placed her in direct danger. We can’t win with just three of us. And if Makoto finds out what I’ve done…”

“The turtles fight amongst themselves all the time and always pull through in the end.” April assured her intern while securing her camera and a bag loaded with equipment from the back of the van. “Minako will be here, I’m sure of it!”

“I hope so.” Dour Rei muttered after slinging a duffle bag over her shoulder. She did not share her mentor’s optimism. Everything on this trip so far had turned into an epic disaster, and this would be no different. They would fail in this battle and Metalia would conquer the world just as her vision had warned. It was all her fault.

“Come on, let’s go. The press entrance is this way!” April O’Neil beckoned her colleague to follow her down a sidewalk leading to a gateway protected by security guards. “Citi Field is one of the most beautiful baseball stadiums in the country! Let’s explore a bit before the game starts. You are going to love it!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 170:

“Cheer up, Rei!” April O’Neil spoke after pulling the Channel 6 News van into a vacant parking spot near the stadium’s main entrance. Her intern had been silent for most of the ride, staring out of the window with a glum look on her face. It was becoming the norm for their brief partnership.

“I’ve always been a bit jealous of Minako.” Rei admitted after stepping out of the vehicle. The game was not starting for another couple of hours, but there were already hordes of excited Mets and Yankee fans making their way towards the rotunda to gain entrance to their seats. “Vern is right about her. Minako has the charisma and beauty to make an excellent television reporter. Traits which I evidently lack.”

“Don’t be so hard on yourself! You’ve only been my intern for a couple of days. You have plenty of skills to make it in this business, trust me!” April smiled. “We will make Fenwick and Thompson pay once I capture this footage of the Sailor Senshi and ninja turtles kicking butt side by side! You will be a viral star too, just like your friend!”

“It doesn’t matter anymore. I shouldn’t have reacted like that.” Rei sighed her eyes were low, fixated on the pavement instead of taking in the massive brick structure surrounding her. “I’ve allowed this internship to drive a wedge into my friendships. If Minako does not come to our aid because of my harsh words, then I not only let Usagi down, I placed her in direct danger. We can’t win with just three of us. And if Makoto finds out what I’ve done…”

“The turtles fight amongst themselves all the time and always pull through in the end.” April assured her intern while securing her camera and a bag loaded with equipment from the back of the van. “Minako will be here, I’m sure of it!”

“I hope so.” Dour Rei muttered after slinging a duffle bag over her shoulder. She did not share her mentor’s optimism. Everything on this trip so far had turned into an epic disaster, and this would be no different. They would fail in this battle and Metalia would conquer the world just as her vision had warned. It was all her fault.

“Come on, let’s go. The press entrance is this way!” April O’Neil beckoned her colleague to follow her down a sidewalk leading to a gateway protected by security guards. “Citi Field is one of the most beautiful baseball stadiums in the country! Let’s explore a bit before the game starts. You are going to love it!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 171:

     Makoto and Usagi hurried down a flight of steps after getting off the crammed 7-line train and made their way through a sea of blue and orange jerseys towards the grand stadium before them. Mets and Yankee fans were already bickering why they believed their team would come out on top.

The sun was strong and there was not a single cloud in the sky today, perfect conditions for the ultimate game between two bitter rivals. Usagi gaped in awe at the spectacle of so many fans eager to see their favorite teams square off against one another. Part of her became a little excited for the game, even though she was not really into sports. She wished Ami and the rest were here with them so that they could enjoy a fun evening together, laughing and reminiscing about the good old days. Instead, a battle was coming, and she had to be ready. The fate of not only her friend, but the entire world rested on her shoulders. Why did these bad things have to happen? She was sick and tired of fighting.

“We may get to see the players take batting practice today.” Makoto placed her Yankee’s cap atop her head. She was happy to visit a major league stadium, but could not fully enjoy the experience knowing that Ami was still missing and the looming threat of an attack. The enemy could appear at any time and they had to remain on guard at all times. Splinter was right. She could not lose sight of her true mission, no matter what. They had to put an end to this chaos, here and now.

 “It’s going to take us forever to get in!” Usagi whined once they joined a humongous queue of rowdy baseball fans to pass through security and enter the stadium. She had no patience for long lines like this and her stomach grumbled. “I’m starving!”

“There will be plenty of food once we get inside.” Makoto readied the tickets she had purchased on her smartphone and let the employee scan them before walking through a metal detector. Luckily, the guards missed the wooden tonfa she had hidden beneath a baseball glove in her backpack.

Once through security, the two girls ran up the steps of the rotunda and through a narrow tunnel until the bright green grass, white bases and raked dirt of the baseball diamond greeted them. The popping sound of a bat smashing a ball instantly brought a smile to Makoto’s face, even though she could not see it. She put on her glove, eager to catch every bit of the action, but Usagi had already started wandering around the stadium looking for a food vendor.

“Oooh! Hotdogs! Hamburgers! French fries!” Usagi’s face lit up with joy after spotting the various stands. She walked towards the first stand, only to get distracted by the array of dessert options surrounding her. “Popcorn! Cotton Candy! ICE CREAM SUNDAE IN A HELMET!”

She raced up to an open register and ordered several options on the menu without caring about the expensive prices listed on the board overhead. The total came out to nearly a hundred American dollars, making Usagi turn red in embarrassment when she scrambled for money, knowing she didn’t have enough cash to cover that outrageous amount.

“You better share with me, Usagi!” Makoto couldn’t help but laugh at the sight of the total. She handed the clerk her credit card and generously paid for the food.

By time they got to their seats batting practice was over and the Mets had taken the field to start the game. They stood at their positions with their hands over their hearts while a talented young lady sang the national anthem.

Makoto had purchased two expensive tickets right behind the Yankee dugout. This would give her a perfect view of the game and allow them to respond should Shredder attack, as they believed. Makoto watched a handsome player take a few practice swings while the pitcher warmed up before noticing the empty seat to her left. She had purchased a ticket for Minako, but they had not heard from her ever since she snuck out of the sewers early this morning. Minako had probably gotten distracted by that masked man, neglecting her sworn duty as Sailor Senshi. How reckless and irresponsible, but sadly, it did not surprise her.

    Makoto assumed Rei was in the stadium somewhere, probably hiding on the upper-deck to avoid her. She didn’t even want her help, to be honest. Makoto glanced to her right and watched Usagi chomp into a greasy cheeseburger. She was so engrossed by her food that she was oblivious to the fact that the game was under way. The burger vanished within seconds and she hurried on to devour a hotdog, a basket of fries and finally her ice cream in a helmet.

      When the Mets’ starting pitcher struck out a batter to record the third out in the inning, the Mets’ mascot, Mr. Met, started dancing atop the dugout until he spotted Usagi devouring her extensive amount of junk food. The mascot jumped into the stands and started dancing in the aisle alongside the distracted girl. Makoto heard the stadium roar with laughter when her friend’s chocolate covered face flashed across the scoreboard with the adorable mascot at her side. A caption that read “OBLIVIOUS CAM” plastered below her messy face.

“Did someone hit a home run?” Usagi asked with a mouthful of food before finally noticing herself on the big screen. She jumped out of her seat from the surprise, bumping into Mr. Met’s big fat head. Her ice cream filled souvenir helmet, a bundle of napkins, ketchup packets, barbeque sauce cups, wrinkled aluminum wrappers, and the rest of her food went flying everywhere, raining down on the fans seated in the rows ahead of them.

“I knew watching a ball game would be even more entertaining with you!” Makoto laughed as Mr. Met covered his oversized eyes with his bulky white hands from the disastrous flop.

“Excuse me!” Usagi brushed past the mascot in search of her souvenir helmet. She planned on giving it to Mamoru when she returned home. It was a simple gift that he could keep in his cubicle once he got hired. Hopefully, he was willing to speak with her again after their tense departure. The turmoil of that terrible fight still weighed heavily on her heart.

Chapter Text

Chapter 172:

“Just one more take!” Fenwick commanded his intern Freida, who fixated the expensive camera on the news reporter and his recently hired protegee. The young woman did not seem so pleased that the upstart had already displaced her position. “Make sure you capture my good side this time!”

He held a cute penguin while interviewing with the head zoo-keeper, detailing the grand opening of the new exhibit. The process was not going smoothly today and Vern forced them to start over if even the smallest of errors occurred.

Minako kept a bright smile on her face while holding her own cuddly aquatic bird, but was losing her patience. This day was dragging on for far too long and the baseball game should be under way by now. She needed to get over to the stadium as soon as possible, despite Rei’s dire warning to stay away. Her friend’s words hurt her deeply, but she would not let them affect her commitment to redemption. The only thing that mattered now was rescuing Ami and stopping Queen Beryl. No more chasing after her foolish dreams of stardom or even her masked hero, who may very well be the one true love she was searching for her entire life. Saving the world from evil was paramount to all of those trivial things, even romance. Nothing would stop her from helping her best friends, even if Rei and Makoto hated her. It was up to her to win the day and redeem herself for all the mistakes she made leading up to this point. Her cat Artemis would be proud of her for finally realizing what was most important in life. The Sailor Team meant more to her than anything else in the world, and she would not let it fall apart like this.

“That’s a wrap!” Fenwick announced, shoving his smelly penguin into the zoo-keeper’s unsuspecting hands. A grin spread on his arrogant face as he thought of the ratings this perfection of an interview would get once aired on the nightly news. Whatever April had planned would be no match for the adorable penguins and his charismatic co-host. Her mere presence alone would draw viewers, and he would ride her coattails to the top of the company until her star power faded away. Once she returned to Japan, their high ratings would cement him at the top of the company. “Excellent work. I think we nailed that one just perfectly! Let me look at the raw footage just to verify.”

“Sir...” Freida pointed at her mentor’s pink dress-shirt as he approached the tripod stand.

“What is it?” Fenwick glanced down, only to notice that the penguin had pooped on him during the interview, leaving a large stain in the center of his chest. “OH NO! THIS IS TERRIBLE! MY GIORGIO ARMANI LIMITED EDITION DRESS SHIRT! I CAN’T LET THIS MONSTROSITY BESEEN ON TELEVISION! MINAKO! FETCH THAT ZOO KEEPER! WE NEED TO CONDUCTANOTHER TAKE IMMEDIATELY!”

“I say just leave it!” Minako looked up from her phone after checking the score on her phone and couldn’t prevent herself from bursting into laughter at the disgusting stain dripping down the pompous anchor’s shirt. The Mets had just tied the game 3 to 3 in bottom of the fourth inning. There were no reports of any criminal activity at Citi Field or anywhere else in the five boroughs. Maybe they were wrong and Shredder wouldn’t attack this primary target after all. Either way, she felt obligated to go to the game immediately. She had promised Makoto that she would be there. There was no more time to waste.

“ABSOLUTELY NOT!” a furious Fenwick pouted as he watched the replay. The penguin had made a mess of his shirt early on, ruining what would’ve been a perfect recording. “I will not suffer this undignified embarrassment. I have a fine reputation to uphold!”

“I think the viewers may find it hilarious!” Minako argued. “Think of the mega ratings!”

“Certainly.” Vern nodded in agreement. “But not at my expense. We shoot this again until we get it right! “

“What about that stain?” A clearly annoyed Freida interrupted. She did not want to be here a minute longer either."It’s not going to come out."

“I have my blazer hanging in the van's trunk. It should conceal this awful mess.” the irritated reporter took the keys out of the pocket and tossed them over at the German intern. “I’m always prepared for these unfortunate situations. Looking good on camera is the most important aspect of this job!”

“I’ll grab it for you!” Minako snatched the keys out of the air and raced down a treelined path leading to where the van was parked just inside of Central Park. The plan she had in mind would get her into a lot of trouble. She would definitely get fired from this internship and possibly arrested. But it had to be done. Her companions depended and her and she would not flake out on them anymore.

Chapter Text

Chapter 173:      

Minako slowed the van for a moment just in time to catch the sight of Fenwick flailing his arms in the penguin tank. Freida jumped in to help her fallen mentor, but he accidentally pulled her into the water with him while a throng of black and white penguins splashed madly around them. Getting away from the obnoxious reporter was proving to be easier than she had thought it would be! She pressed down on the steering wheel to sound the horn, eager to clear the path free of the many pedestrians and bicyclists in her way. Men, women and children alike gasped at the sight of the bulky news van rolling over the park grounds and leapt to get out of its way. A man selling balloons lost grip on his entire supply, releasing them to protect a group of children nearby. Minako exhaled in relief as the colorful balloons drifted up and away into the cloudless sky. It was total chaos in the crowded zoo, but once she made it to the main road, she would be free to rush over to the baseball stadium.

Unfortunately, a park ranger riding on an ATV pulled up alongside her and told her to stop the van immediately. Instead of following his commands, she floored the gas pedal through the outskirts of the zoo, ramming the van through a metal barricade and down a steep hill until it landed in the middle of a bicycle only lane. The ATV rider was not as lucky. He tried to stop his vehicle from striking the ruined barricade, but could not do so in time. He flew off the ATV after hitting the barrier, rolling down the grassy hill until he came to a stop in the center of the bike path.

“Sorry!” Minako shouted out the window. She hoped the ranger was okay, but she could not not wait around to find out. She stepped on the gas, weaving the van around the many bicyclists pedaling alongside her in the wide bicycle lane until spotting the 5th avenue exit just ahead.

  The News van veered down a winding ramp and came to a complete stop at a red traffic signal. Minako paused for a moment to watch the yellow cabs whiz by, her heart still pounding in her chest from the adrenaline rush of her escape. She thought she was in the clear until the sound of police sirens blared from deep within the park. Flashes of red and blue light bounced off the side-view mirror, causing Minako to panic and stomp on the gas pedal once again. The van’s worn tires screeched on the pavement as she turned onto the hectic 5th avenue. She may have failed her driver’s test several times, but this was just like one of the racing games she loved to play in the arcade. Only this time it was real and she could get in some serious trouble if she did not get away!

The police were catching up on her. Lights and sirens were everywhere. An officer on a bullhorn ordered her to pullover, but Minako did not give up, charging the van through a busy intersection as she grit her teeth, bracing for a terrible impact. Cars screeched to a halt, narrowly avoiding a deadly collision as she thread the bulky van through a tiny opening, bouncing off the door panels of two cars like a pinball.

“YES!” Minako celebrated. Heavy traffic in the intersection blocked the police cruisers from pursuing her further, but the reckless maneuver made her lose control of the van. She stomped on the brakes and swerved to the right to avoid rear-ending a truck. The van tipped onto two wheels, nearly flipping over! Minako tugged on the steering column, bringing the vehicle back down onto all fours before flooring the gas pedal. Citizens and tourists leapt out of the van’s path, but she could not avoid bulldozing over a jam-packed fruit stand. A large table, milk crates and cardboard boxes exploded upon impact, launching apples, oranges, bananas, pears and other assorted fruits all over the street. Minako activated the windshield wipers to clear the splattered remnants away, but it only made the visibility worse! She screamed at the top of her lungs, holding the horn down to warn those in her way until the van smashed into a telephone pole, bringing her joy ride to a sudden halt. The blonde unbuckled her seatbelt and scrambled out of the van at the sight of smoke rising out of the engine.

Pedestrians gasped at the sight of such a pretty young woman emerging out of the wreck, completely untouched in a nice orange dress. Onlookers rushed out of the bars and restaurants lining the fruit covered 5th avenue to see what had happened, snapping pictures with their cellphones at the demolished market, smoking van and cracked telephone pole. Police sirens got louder and louder as they closed in on Minako’s position. There was nowhere else for her to run. The officers would take in her into custody and she would spend the rest of the night in jail for her actions, unable to help her companions in the battle to come.

Chapter Text

Chapter 174:

Minako stood in the middle of the street with her arms raised in the air, ready to surrender as a swarm of police cars with flashing lights closed in on her position. The officers dashed out of the patrol cars, their guns drawn, at the unlikely thief who broke a path of destruction in central park and 5th avenue. Flirting with the cops would not get her out of trouble this time, nor would telling them the truth that the city may soon be under the threat of a revived Supreme Evil Queen Metalia. They would definitely think she was crazy if she gave that excuse. If only someone could rescue her from this dire predicament and prevent her imminent arrest.

     She spotted a handsome man in a leather jacket with shoulder length black hair pushing his way out of the sports pub on the corner of the street right next to the cracked telephone pole. Her heart skipped a beat as she ignored the oncoming police to catch a glimpse of the rugged man’s face as he made his way through the crowd, but could not make it out. The hair and the muscular biceps looked all too familiar. Could it really be him?

   Casey Jones placed his goalie mask over his head and dropped a puck to the floor before unleashing a vicious slap shot at the officers. The cops dodged the projectile and hit the pavement, covering their heads just as the rubber puck rocketed into the windshield of a police car, shattering the thick glass. The vigilante took advantage of the distraction and hopped on his motorcycle, zipping through the destroyed fruit market and past the startled police contingent until he came to a sudden stop right by the damaged news van.

“HOCKEY MASK MAN!” Minako jumped on her heels at the sight of the intimidating motorcyclist before her. He saved her once again in her time of need! First from the purple dragons and now the police! Surely, this proved that they were destined to be together. It could no longer be a coincidence. Tuxedo mask always arrived at the perfect moment to rescue Sailor Moon and now she had her own personal masked savior. How romantic!

“Why can’t you stay out of trouble, blondie?” The vigilante tugged her onto the bike’s rear seat, where she wrapped her arms tightly around the handsome driver. He zoomed away from the crash, accelerating the motorcycle to a dangerously high speed so that the police had no way to catch up.

“I guess I just love being rescued by you.” Minako answered, tightening her grip around him as she leaned against the back of his broad shoulder.

“Don’t flatter yourself. I only did it because you took out the electricity in the pub where I was watching the big game!” an annoyed Casey Jones responded. He wanted nothing more than to rid himself of the troublesome girl and catch the end of the game, but she kept disrupting his life. “Where can I drop you off?”

“Take me to Citi Field!” Minako demanded. “We can catch the end of the game together!”

“Citi Field?” Casey brought the bike to a sudden stop on the side of the road and turned to face the pretty blonde. “I thought I already told you, I’m not interested!”

“I’m not asking you out! I need your help!” Was he still playing hard to get? Or did he truly have no feelings for her despite what they’ve endured the past couple of days? She refused to believe that! Either way, her duty as Senshi was more important than her love life. He could profess his love for her once she helped save the world from utter destruction! “We suspect that Shredder and his minions are going to attack the stadium at some point tonight. My friends are expecting me and I’m late for the party!”

“I can’t say no to a chance to beat up more foot-clan and watch my Mets kick Yankee butt up close and personal.” Casey Jones spun the bike around, making a u-turn down a side street until hitting 2nd avenue.

“It’s a date then!” Minako joked as the bike sped over the 59th Street bridge, taking them into Queens. She glanced over his shoulder to see the sun slowly dipping beneath the skyscrapers in the distance. This thrilling ride across the bridge and the surrounding scenery was so romantic. She loved New York!

Chapter Text

Chapter 175:

      A turbulent descent stirred Mamoru Chiba from a restless slumber, plagued with nightmares of his recent argument with Usagi. Soon they would reunite, and he could apologize to her for his insensitivity. But that solace did not take away from the fact that an enemy had returned and posed a serious threat to the world. He had to do everything in his power to help protect the Sailor Senshi, especially the one he loved.

  The plane finally touched down on the runway of JFK airport, arriving in New York City after a grueling nonstop flight of over twelve hours. Yuuichirou had no patience to wait for the queue of passengers to depart the plane once it arrived at the gate. The anxious apprentice unbuckled his seatbelt and pushed his way through the narrow lane between cramped seating aisles while holding the carrier containing the two cats, nudging his way to the exit door so that he could be the very first one off the jet.

Mamoru scrambled to retrieve the rest of their belongings out of the overhead storage bins and apologized to the flustered flight attendants and passengers that cursed at him as he squeezed by to catch up with his traveling companion. He chased the bushy-haired priest down the tunnel and into the bustling airport, but failed to reach him until he made it to the street exit where the priest held his hand up high in order to summon a cab driver.

“What took you so long?” Yuuichirou asked after entering the rear of the yellow cab with the cat carrier. He handed the driver the address of the Sunset Inn and told the cabbie to step on it, before gesturing to Mamoru. “Get in! My lady Rei awaits us!”

Mamoru could not even respond, gasping to catch his breath after the mad dash out of the airport. He threw his bags into the trunk and slammed it shut before jumping in the back of the taxi. The cab sped away once he closed the door, taking the two men to the heart of Times Square.

Chapter Text

Chapter 176:

Yuuichirou popped out of the taxi before it came to a complete stop at the address he provided the cabbie. The peculiar hotel was not the five star accommodation he imagined his beloved to be living in during her stay in New York City. Surely Rei would have a luxurious suite that she well deserved, with a full spa, room service and complimentary chocolates on her pillow each night. Any company would be so grateful to have such a diligent and ambitious young woman like her as an intern. She deserved the moon and stars. Waited on hand and foot for her vast array of talent and skills, not relegated to a dump like this place. This had to have been some sort of mistake and he would get to the bottom of it. He ignored the building’s rough exterior, entering the Sunset Inn before Mamoru could even get their bags out of the cab’s trunk.

Mamoru struggled to carry all the baggage plus the cat carrier up the steps leading into the odd-looking hotel tucked in the middle of a sidestreet loaded with parked cars and trucks. He could already hear his companion getting into a verbal argument with the receptionist and almost dropped all of his baggage while trying to open the front door. The two cats meowed in fright as the carrier shook in his arms, but Mamoru kept hold of it. The rest of the luggage, however, went tumbling back down the steps. Shirts, pants, socks and underwear littered the cement steps after slipping through the open zipper on the suitcase. Dealing with the priest was stressing him out. He could not keep up with the energetic apprentice, who always remained a few steps ahead of him. He vowed to never to complain about his peppy and over-emotional girlfriend ever again once they made up. Even she was not this much of a handful.

“Where is my Rei!” Yuuichirou reached across the desk to grab the pimply faced receptionist by the collar, pulling the young man out of his chair with such force that he knocked over a bundle of brochures with various tourist attractions.

“I haven’t seen that snooty brat since yesterday!” the nerd confessed. He struggled to break loose, but could not free himself of the shaggy headed man wearing a white kimono. “She didn’t return to the hotel last night. There’s a rumor that she may have quit the company already!”

“YOU LIE!” an enraged Yuuichirou tightened his grip around the man’s polo shirt, nearly ripping off the cheap collar as he pulled the employee so that their foreheads nearly touched. How dare he refer Rei in such a rude manner? The woman he loved was no quitter. She would work through any adversity she faced. But why didn’t she return to the Inn? Was she in danger? Or maybe she had found a better place to stay? Perhaps another man had stolen her heart. That military veteran from the chess game had his eyes on her for sure. Perhaps she stayed at his apartment...

“Let go of him!” Mamoru snapped Yuuichirou out of his trance and helped free the receptionist from the mad apprentice’s grip. The nerd crawled off the wooden desk and slumped into his swivel chair. He reached for a corded telephone, desperate to call the police.

“I apologize for my friend here.” Mamoru snared the nerd’s attention as he pulled Usagi’s picture out of his wallet. “We just had an endless flight and are eager to catch up with our girlfriends. None of their cellphones are working and we have no other means to contact them. Can you please help us find them? It would mean the world to us.”

“The only one of Rei’s ILLEGAL guests I spotted this morning was that beautiful Minako Aino.” the tone of the receptionist hinted that he had a crush on her. “The newest star intern of Channel 6 News!”

“Star intern...” Yuuichirou muttered under his breath. That was Rei’s goal. How could her own friend betray her in such a manner? The very thought of it sickened him.

“My advice is for you guys to go down to Channel 6 News headquarters.” the receptionist kept a wary eye on the priest. “It’s a short walk from here. If you find Minako, she can help locate your missing girlfriends for sure. Tell her I said hi!”

“Thank you.” Mamoru handed over his credit card to the pimply faced employee only to catch his companion bursting through the door and back onto the New York City streets in order to continue their quest."I’d like to book a room for tonight."

“There are no pets allowed in the Sunset Inn!” the nerd pointed to the carrier containing the two cats.

“I’ll pay extra!” Mamoru had no time to argue any further. He let the felines out of their cage and abandoned most of his remaining property by the side of the cheap wooden desk as he chased the restless priest out of the sidestreet towards the heart of Times Square with the cats trailing at his heels.

Chapter Text

Chapter 177:

Mamoru hustled out of the rundown inn and down the sidewalk of the residential street, heading out of this dangerous neighborhood toward the towering buildings and bright lights of Times Square. Yuuichirou was nowhere to be found, having raced so far ahead that he could not keep up with him once again. He worried that the crazed priest would get lost in the bustling city, wandering around aimlessly in his hakama in search of his beloved. That would not be good, considering he hardly spoke English and was unfamiliar with his surroundings, unlike his well-traveled counterpart. The last thing Mamoru needed was another missing companion amidst the lingering threat of an ancient enemy. They had to catch up with Usagi and the rest immediately before it was too late.

Office workers and tourists alike crowded up the sidewalks the closer he got to midtown. Throngs of people were entering and exiting the subway system. There were mascots in costumes taking pictures, tour guides handing out information and vendors selling snacks and souvenirs. Yuuichirou could be anywhere amongst them and he did not even know where this Channel 6 News building was located! This maniac had tried his patience past the breaking point.

Luna and Artemis struggled to stay close to the human who rushed through the pedestrian traffic. A high-pitched meow startled Mamoru, who froze in his tracks to scoop up the poor felines before they got swallowed by the never ending horde of pedestrians.

“Look!” Luna climbed up onto his shoulders and pointed a black paw at a towering skyscraper a few blocks ahead. “Over there!”

Mamoru gazed upward, following the cat’s outstretched limb to a building baring a sign that read “CHANNEL 6” in big block letters. He made his way over to it only to notice a commotion in the lobby just past the glass revolving doors. Security guards in black suits blocked off the entrance while their coworkers dealt with a shaggy headed man in a Japanese kimono flailing his arms in distress while shouting in broken English.

“This can’t be good!” Artemis muttered as the guards closed in on the crazed priest. It took about six men to wrestle him to the ground and restrain his limbs. They carried the intruder out of the building before unceremoniously dumping him back out on the sidewalk. Yuuichirou face planted the cement, groaning in pain while they caught up to him.

“Are you alright?” Mamoru asked after helping the priest back onto his feet. “What happened in there?”

“Rei’s not here. Neither is Minako.” The priest whimpered, dusting off his hakama with his calloused palms. “I demanded to speak with the CEO himself to get more answers, but they threw me out before I could get to him.”

“You really have to calm down and stopping running all over the place!” Mamoru snapped. “Now we have no more leads, thanks to you. We will never find the girls at this rate.”

“Umm, guys.” Luna hopped off the human’s shoulder and padded towards a television set playing the latest live broadcast on Channel 6 News just inside the headquarters. They followed the feline, who stared at the breaking news flashing across the screen. “You may to want to see this.”

The humans pressed their faces against the glass to get a better view of the scene, showcasing a damaged news van crashed into a telephone pole. A dishevelled reporter wearing a pink dress shirt with a disgusting stain rambled into the microphone detailing the theft of his news van while walking through a street littered with a vast array of splattered fruit. A wanted poster flashed across the screen naming the top suspect involved with the crime accompanied along with a picture of a blonde-haired female.

“MINAKO!” Artemis shrieked. He knew his caretaker would get into massive trouble without his level-headed guidance, but nothing of this magnitude! He should’ve known better than to let her travel here without him!

Suddenly, the broadcast cut away from the chaotic accident scene with a special alert message.

Chapter Text

Chapter 178:

Mets were down one run going into the bottom of the 9th inning. The sun was setting and the bright lights atop the stadium flickered to life, illuminating the jam-packed stadium buzzing with excitement. The Yankees closer exited the bullpen and jogged down the grassy outfield to a chorus of boos until he made it to the mound to take his warm-up pitches to an intense tune that pumped up the restless crowd. All they had to do was secure three more outs and the Yankees would win the game, but the Mets still had a chance to fight back with the heart of their lineup due to bat! Makoto sat at the edge of her seat, cheering on the Yankees while Usagi rooted for the underdog despite her run-in with their baseball-headed mascot earlier.

     Shredder and his minions had not attacked the stadium thus far, and the turtles had not contacted them via the communicative device with any updates. They would have to regroup in the sewers after the game to come up with a new strategy for tomorrow, but until then, there was nothing else they could do but watch the conclusion of this epic game. Usagi scooped a handful of buttery popcorn out of the bucket on her lap and shoved it into her mouth. The Yankees closer made quick work of the first batter, striking him out on three pitches.

The next batter hit a weak pop-up to third base caught right in front of Usagi’s section for the second out. She hopped out of her seat, spilling popcorn everywhere as she stuck out her tongue at the arrogant fielder who mocked the pigtailed girl with a sarcastic wave after securing the ball into his mitt. He tossed the ball over the tall Yankee fan next to her, who snatched it in her outstretched hands. Makoto’s eyes lit up after catching the ball, completely love struck by the handsome player that had noticed her.

“It’s not over yet!” Usagi shook her distracted friend as the next Mets player stepped up to the plate and lined a screeching base hit over the third baseman’s head. She watched the ball roll into the left field corner where the hustling outfielder picked it up and threw the ball to the cutoff man. The batter slid safely into second base with a double, narrowly avoiding the tag from the relay throw. Excited Mets fans roared with renewed hope. Another hit could easily tie the game and home-run would win it!

“This next guy’s a bum! Easy out!” Makoto cradled the ball to her chest and cheered for her favorite team. “LETS GO YANKEES!”

“LETS GO METS!” Usagi wailed at the top of her lungs to support the lovable underdogs alongside a raucous band of pumped up fans eager to see their team rally with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. She never thought she’d be so into the outcome of a sports game!

The closer threw a vicious fastball right by the batter for strike one. Mets hitter fouled off the next pitch off, giving him a second strike. The count was now 0-2 and the Yankees pitcher had the clear advantage over his adversary, who was prone to strike out. The bitter rivals were one swing and a miss away from victory and the players and fans alike could just about taste the series’ clinching moment.

Mets and Yankee fans leapt out of their seats and clapped in anticipation as the next pitch left the pitcher’s hand. A thunderous crack of the bat silenced the crowd for a split second once the batter connected with a mighty swing, launching the tiny white ball high into the air as if it were rocketing towards the moon. The center fielder sprinted to the blue wall and made a desperate leap, stretching his glove over the top of the fence as the ball came crashing down just out of his reach!

“HOMERUN!” Usagi threw her bucket into the air and gave high-fives to random Mets fans in her vicinity as the popcorn rained down upon them. They rejoiced in celebration of the amazing blast against the flame throwing closer. “WE WIN! WE WIN!”

Makoto ripped her Yankees hat off her head in disgust as a big red apple baring the Mets logo rose from behind the center field wall to mark the walk-off homer accompanied by the popping of colorful fireworks that lit up the sky. The bitter loss was tough to swallow, but she couldn’t help but crack a smile at the sight of Usagi hopping on her feet in joy of the dramatic comeback. Sharing a fun day at the ballpark like this is exactly what she wished for, but she wanted to spend it with all of her friends, not just one. Minako had ditched them and she could not stomach the very sight of Rei after their fight. And what about poor Ami? Would they still be able to rescue her at this rate?

Chapter Text

Chapter 179:

        “Sorry about your team!” Usagi sensed her friend’s displeasure and broke away from the celebration with joyous Mets fans to wrap an arm around Makoto’s shoulder in support. “What an exciting game! I had a lot of fun!”

     “It’s not just that.” Her beloved Yankees losing was the least of her worries. Ami was still missing while they sat back and watched an entertaining baseball contest all afternoon. She was no less heartless than Rei. Her suspicions of an attack on the stadium had gone unfounded, leaving her feeling incredibly selfish. She did not know where they would go from here.

“I’m worried about Ami too.” Usagi reassured her friend as if reading her mind. “We will figure something out with the turtles. Don’t give up hope!”

A grand finale of fireworks sparkled above the stadium, but something else seemed to snare the fans’ attention to the center of the diamond. Makoto and Usagi noticed an orb of purple light pulsating over the field. It swelled in size, stretching into a galaxy of dazzling stars, and the colorful nebula of a parallel dimension emerged from deep within. This awesome spectacle was clearly not a part of the post game fireworks display.

   The celebratory Mets and dejected Yankee players stood side by side, frozen in place. They watched the anomaly grow bigger and bigger until a metallic object pushed its way through from the other side. The players ran away in a mad panic when the object became more visible. A spherical fortress armed to the teeth with turret guns and other contraptions took up most of the spacious outfield, tearing through the grass. An enormous eye sat on top of the tank, moving about wildly as it scanned its current surroundings.

“THAT’S GOTTA BE THE TECHNODROME!” Usagi recalled the description of Shredder’s base from her conversation with Leonardo. She flipped open her shell shaped communicator and screeched into it once the blue masked leader appeared on the screen. “THEY ARE HERE! PLEASE HELP US TURTLES!”

“We are on our way!” the mutant declared.

The Technodrome activated. The cannon fired a missile into the home run apple, eviscerating it with a violent explosion. A metallic ramp opened from within the sphere and out came the Shredder, leading an army of foot soldiers baring the same laser-guns they had used in their attacks on the ferry and library. Shredder barked orders at his men, basking in the onyx crystal’s light. Mets and Yankee fled while an endless horde of foot-clan stormed out of the Technodrome. They poured into the stands, stealing the energy from the innocent bystanders with their ray guns.

“WE HAVE TO TRANSFORM, NOW!” Makoto grabbed her wooden tonfa from her backpack and rushed down the steps. She leapt on top of the Yankee dugout, taking a moment to survey the attack. Their masked enemies severely outnumbered them. This would be a tough fight, even with the turtles’ help once they arrived, but she would not back down. Shredder had taken Ami away from her and he would pay for it with his life. “JUPITER POWER, MAKE UP!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 180:

“THIS IS APRIL O’NEIL AND REI HINO REPORTING LIVE FROM CITIFIELD IN QUEENS WHERE THE FOOT-CLAN HAS LAUNCHED A MASSIVE ATTACK!” The news reporter spoke into her microphone while staring into the camera setup in the upper-deck of the stadium behind home plate with a perfect view of the entire field. She tried to remain calm despite all the danger surrounding her. A massive army of foot clan marched out of the spherical base in droves, spreading throughout the grassy field and lower levels of the baseball stadium. It was only a matter of time before they made it up to her section. The flash of their lasers flickered with each squeeze of the trigger while the last of the fireworks died overhead. Fans and players alike collapsed, dropping like flies. Their life energy sucked away after absorbing the blast from the foot’s gunfire."IT APPEARS THAT THE EVIL WARLORD SHREDDER HAS INVADED THE STADIUM WITH HIS FORTRESS, THE TECHNODROME, SHORTLY AFTER THE METS CLAIMED A DRAMATIC WALK-OFF VICTORY OVER THE YANKEES IN TONIGHT’S RUBBER GAME! I WILL REMAIN ON THE AIR TO PROVIDE COVERAGE OF THIS DEVELOPING STORY!"

Rei left the live broadcast for the moment, pushing her way past a horde of panicky fans until she reached an overhanging balcony where she could get a better look. She spotted Sailor Jupiter and Sailor Moon emerging from their transformations on top of the third-base side dug out. There was no time for Usagi to give a glorious introduction speech this time around, not that she could hear it from way up here. The foot-clan was ready for the sailor senshi this time around and immediately started targeting the magical girls with their guns.

“SAILOR MOON!” Rei gasped after helplessly watching her best friend narrowly avoid a laser blast by cartwheeling off the top of the dugout just in the nick of time. Her red boots slipped on the raked dirt after landing awkwardly. She barreled into a foot soldier, inadvertently knocking him out while he hunted an umpire.

Jupiter stood guard over the fallen Moon princess, spinning her wooden weapons to clear a path to the Shredder who surveyed his attack by the entrance of the Technodrome. She would never get to him at this rate. The foot-clan had already invaded all ends of the stadium, making their way through the crowd in a strategic manner. Surrounded, the senshi would not stand a chance without help. They needed her, now more than ever. She hoped they could hold on until she made it down to the field. This was her time to prevent her apocalyptic vision from coming to fruition.

“MARS POWER, MAKE UP!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 181:

      April O’Neil ripped her video camera off of the tripod stand and chased after her intern, who had undergone a fantastic transformation into the guardian known as Sailor Mars clad in a red skirt and matching heels. Mars fought her way through the packed stands despite being outnumbered by the ninjas who had already reached the upper deck. April could not help but be impressed with her protegee’s fighting prowess. The reporter dodged an array of wild laser beams while keeping her camera held steady, determined to capture incredible footage.

“FIRE SOUL!” Mars summoned a wisp of fire into her fingertips and unleashed a searing blaze into back of a foot soldier who threatened to gun down a young boy grabbing at his unconscious father’s limp arm. She rushed up to the inflamed soldier and finished him with a fierce round kick to his masked skull. He flew backwards from the vicious hit and plummeted over the railing, collapsing into the mezzanine below. An appropriate punishment for someone who dared to hurt an innocent child.

      The star reporter did her best to capture all the action for the viewers watching the skirmish unfold from their televisions at home. April was eager to highlight the amazing ability of the Sailor Senshi and prove to her arrogant coworkers that they were heroes and not accomplices to these criminal acts of terror, even if it meant putting herself in harm’s way. She stuck close to Mars, feeling the intense combustion from her magic. Foot clan ignited into flames after taking the brunt of fireballs cast out of Mars’ extended hands. The ninjas danced around the stands, dropping their weapons in agony as they rolled on the cement to extinguish the leaping flames. Plastic seats melted from the searing heat, eviscerating an entire section.

Mars darted towards a stairwell, eager to reach the lower level so that she could help her fellow guardians on the baseball diamond. Together, they would stand a much better chance of victory. It was time to prove that she was loyal to her companions to the very end, despite her blaring temper and harsh words on this trip. She would protect the Moon Princess until she could no longer draw any breath. Metalia would not return to this world, even if it meant sacrificing her very life for that cause.

“WAIT UP!” April shouted after seeing Sailor Mars charge into a large grouping of foot clan heading up those same stairs to further their invasion of the upper deck. It would be impossible for her intern to fight all of them off by herself, even with her magic. She had to help.

“BURNING MANDALA!” Sailor Mars summoned rings of flame that encircled the oncoming foot soldiers, trapping them within an intense inferno at the base of the steps. She fought them off with a flurry of kicks and punches, only to hear her mentor screaming from the top of the stairwell. Mars turned around and found April in the grasp of a foot soldier. He knocked the camera out of her hand and kicked it away. The footsoldier taunted for Mars to come and rescue her, roughly yanking on the yellow collar of April’s jumpsuit.

“Let her go or in the name of Mars, I shall chastise you!” Rei sprinted back up the steps but held back from unleashing her fury upon the foot soldier after he thrust the muzzle of his laser cannon into the reporter’s neck. The moment of hesitation allowed for more foot-clan reinforcements to overwhelm the two women, trapping them in the narrow stairwell. They closed in on the Sailor Senshi, pushing her back into the metal doors of a closed elevator shaft. There was no escape. Mars grimaced in defeat, staring down the barrels of over fifty laser cannons aimed right at the purple bow on her chest. Was this truly the end? She would not be there to defend Sailor Moon. Nor would she get the chance to tell Yuuichirou how she truly felt about him. She had failed them both.

Chapter Text

Chapter 182:

      Casey Jones sped his motorcycle through the packed parking lot until he screeched to a halt right in front of the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. Minako begrudgingly released her grip around the vigilante’s waist as he got off the motorcycle, only to notice the spectacular sight of fireworks illuminating the massive brick structure.

“Aren’t fireworks so romantic?” Minako clung onto his arms and nestled her head against his sweaty bicep. Escaping the police on the bad boy’s motorcycle was so exhilarating that she never wanted the wild ride to end. Her masked savior was everything she ever wanted in a boyfriend. She had waited her whole life to meet someone so perfect. Tough, rugged, stoic, mysterious, yet protective. If only she could see his face. All she had to do was see what lied underneath that goalie mask. It would be love at first sight for sure.

“Damn it!” the masked man swore in frustration at the sight of the fantastic aerial display overhead. “Looks like the game’s over.”

 “I never got to thank you for saving me.” the game had already ended and the enemy had not attacked, so there was no harm in pursuing her hero before catching up with her friends inside the stadium. Minako cupped the scuffed mask into her hands and prepared to peel it off his face. She closed her eyes, her heart pounding in her chest in anticipation of the kiss she would plant on the lips hidden beneath that intimidating goalie mask.

“Do you hear that?” Jones held his infatuated admirer at bay and yanked his mask back down before she could get what she wanted. The unpredictable blonde was growing on him, but his heart still belonged to another. There was some sort of trouble brewing within the stadium, and if he knew his ex-girlfriend the way he thought he did, she would get caught in the thick of it, trying to cover a hot story and generate ratings. He grabbed his golf bag from the back of his motorcycle and slung it over his shoulder after drawing a wooden baseball bat from the top compartment. “Looks like it’s heading into extra-innings.”

Minako blinked her eyes open to see her courageous hero charging into the main entrance of the stadium and up the wrong way of an escalator with his stick held high over his head as if he was ready for war. The vigilante pushed his way past a horde of fans leaving the stadium, but they were not leaving in an orderly fashion. They were all running for their lives. And then that’s when she heard their terrifying screams. The enemy had attacked.

“VENUS POWER, MAKE UP!”

   Sailor Venus emerged from the transformation and chased after the Masked Man, battling a bunch of hooded foot soldiers inside of the vast rotunda decorated with pictures and memorabilia from throughout professional baseball history.

     There would be no time for romance after all. Her duty as Sailor Senshi would always remain the top priority, even if it meant that she was cursed to be alone for the rest of her life. She would fight her way through this army of foot clan until she found her fellow guardians and joined with them, despite Rei’s wishes for her to stay away.

“VENUS LOVE ME CHAIN!” Performing her sworn duty did not mean she would neglect the vulnerable public of her handsome hero. She relished the opportunity to fight alongside the rugged vigilante once again and rushed to his aid by launching her heart linked chain into the second level of the rotunda. The magical chain looped around several ninjas like a lasso before she gave it a sharp tug, sending the henchman flying off the balcony and onto the brick floor, where they flattened like pancakes. Venus sat on top of the railing of the escalator with her legs crossed until she rode up to her savior and gave him a flirtatious wink.

   “THIS WAY!” Venus panicked at the sight of a swarm of footsoldiers patrolling the grounds of the field level section heading right in their direction. Casey was eager to take them all on, but she knew better than to engage them here after spotting an open elevator shaft. She pulled on the vigilante’s calloused hand, yanking him into the lift before mashing the close door button. Better to hide in here for a moment and let the enemies pass them by before they could catch them by surprise.

“Listen girly.” Casey spoke as Venus peered into his mask. Something about his voice made her heart flutter. He removed his mask, making her feel so warm and fuzzy that she couldn’t think straight. Was he going to kiss her? This was the moment she had been waiting for so long! She leaned backwards, and the bow attached to the back of her skirt inadvertently pressed several of the buttons inside the tight metal chamber. “You are a really cool chick and all... but...”

“We can talk later.” Minako grabbed his mask and pulled it back down over the bottom of his face, despite every inner craving to rip it off and kiss him. Maybe she could get her wish once this was all over, but for now she could not have any more distractions. “The world is in danger. I must defeat this evil and protect my princess!”

A ding alerted the duo when the elevator arrived at the next floor up. Venus turned away from the dumbfounded vigilante, completely refocused on the task at hand. Casey shrugged his shoulders and readied his baseball bat, bracing himself for whatever they would meet on the other side.

Chapter Text

Chapter 183:

“There’s too many!” Jupiter shouted in frustration. Sweat poured down her forehead as she fought against an endless army of foot soldiers alongside Sailor Moon. They punched and kicked their laser toting enemies on the infield dirt under the bright lights of Citi Field, doing their best to protect the vulnerable Mets and Yankees players and fans alike. The uniformed athletes fled into their respective dugouts, eager to get away from the hooded ninjas still pouring out of the massive Technodrome. The sky lit up from the flaming home run apple and the barrage of purple lasers bolts whizzing by the prime seating area and up in the bleachers. One mistake could spell the end for either Senshi if they were to get hit. Reinforcements should on their way, but they could not get there soon enough!

The Technodrome deployed more of its weapon systems. A cannon spat out a black goop that splashed throughout the upper and lower decks of the ballpark. The tar-like substance trapped all the panicky fans trying to flee the stadium. Bullets fired out of the turrets, taking out the lighting system. Glass shattered, raining into the crowd as the field fell into darkness. The spherical fortress loomed over the outfield with its all-seeing eye on top, observing the destruction. They needed to disable this vicious machine, but how?

“MOON TIARA ACTION!” Sailor Moon cartwheeled out of danger until she reached home plate in the shadow of the towering Technodrome. She removed her golden headpiece and gripped it in her fingers before calling out the words to her attack. The shimmering object soared around the bases while the foot clan fired bolts at her from all over the diamond.

“SUPREME THUNDER!” Jupiter summoned a bolt of lightning from the heavens which struck down upon the tiara, charging it up with electrical energy. The tiara barrelled its way around the baseball field, shocking and jolting several ninjas in its path until it returned to Sailor Moon like a boomerang.

     The successful attack did little to slow down the enemy. Sailor Jupiter gaped in horror as a foot soldier gunned down the handsome third baseman just before she could reach him. The Yankee wailed in pain, clutching his chest as his life energy drained away. He collapsed lifelessly into her outstretched arms. Lasers flew by while she laid him carefully on the grass, eyeing Master Shredder. The capstone of his staff shimmered like a beacon, absorbing all the energy captured by his henchmen.

Rage and grief coursed through Sailor Jupiter. They were losing this fight. Where were the senshi and the ninja turtles? It was up to her to avenge Ami and put an end to this madness. She could not rely on any of her allies except for Sailor Moon. Jupiter smashed her tonfa into a soldier’s hooded face, knocking him out cold before turning to face the next one. Her wooden weapons swung with such ferocity that they generated an electrical tornado that sucked several footsoldiers into it, launching them into the stands like a catapult. The path to Shredder was now clear.

Chapter Text

Chapter 184

Sailor Venus raced out of the elevator only to find Mars and her mentor, April O’Neil, surrounded by the enemy foot clan. Enemy soldiers kicked away her expensive video camera, closing in on them from both sides of a narrow stairwell. There was absolutely no way for them to escape. She had to take immediate action to give them a fighting chance.

“CRESCENT FLASH!” A golden ball of light in the shape of a heart sparkled out of her fingertips and down the staircase until it exploded like a stun grenade, blinding a plethora of ninjas with its intense glow.

The sightless foot clan sprayed their lasers at the top of the staircase, hoping to strike the senshi. Venus back flipped, avoiding the projectiles while the love of her life charged forward, bravely bashing his way through the criminal organization with brute force.

“JONES LAUNCHES ONE INTO DEEP RIGHT FIELD!” The outlaw took a mighty swing and cracked his bat over the lower back of a hooded ninja before kicking him down the stairwell. The man bowled over several of his comrades on the bumpy ride to the bottom of the steps. Casey scooped another soldier into his muscular arms and body-slammed him onto the cement like a pro wrestler, making his way closer to his ex-girlfriend and her transformed intern.

“FIRE SOUL!” Mars took advantage of her companion’s timely distraction, using her fire powers to create a barrier of flames between her and another contingent of ninjas rushing up the steps. The searing flames incinerated the narrow passageway, sealing them off from further danger.

“Casey!” the masked man threw away the broken handle of his bat and grabbed April’s outstretched hand. He slung the yellow clad reporter over his broad shoulders. Jones carried her to the top of the steps before she slipped loose and fell onto her feet behind him. April did not appreciate the sentiment and gave him a smack across the white goalie mask, bending to retrieve her expensive news camera off the floor. She snagged the scuffed up device and exhaled a sigh of relief after a closer inspection. Thankfully, the sensitive lens and battery remained intact. What a stroke of luck!

“Ouch!” Casey grabbed at his face after the vicious hit. “That’s the thanks I get for saving your ass?”

“You deserve much worse than that!” April was still angry, but couldn’t help but crack a smile at the sight of her brawny ex. She was glad to have him at her side, especially in this dangerous environment. Maybe she would consider giving him a second chance when all this was over, but for now, she had a job to do. She powered on her camera and prepared to go live on the air.

Chapter Text

Chapter 185:

      Sailor Venus burst through a tunnel leading to the bleachers to survey her surroundings. They had arrived too late. The destruction wrought by Shredder was far worse than she expected. Thousands of fans could not escape the foot clan’s assault. Many remained slumped in their seats or trapped in gobs of sticky black goop. Screams echoed throughout the ballpark.

“I’m sorry for what I said at the station.” Mars spoke after catching up with her companion. She grabbed at the railing and peered at the massive Technodrome taking up much of the torn up baseball field. More members of the foot clan poured out of it with energy stealing rifles. It was utterly hopeless to defeat an army of this magnitude. “I didn’t mean it...”

“Oh, don’t worry about that. It’s water over the bridge!” Venus turned to face her friend with a smile. “I’ve done a lot of stupid things on this trip to make your life more difficult. I should never have accepted the internship. It was incredibly selfish of me. If anyone deserves an apology, it’s you!”

“You are a natural talent, Minako. I’ve always been jealous of your charm.” Mars admitted. “But I shouldn’t have reacted like that. I’ll gladly work alongside you, if we defeat this enemy.”

“That sounds fun!” Venus giggled. “But I’m pretty sure I am fired and facing a long list of criminal charges!”

“Huh?” Mars could only imagine what trouble her friend had gotten herself into, but that story would have to wait until later. Hopefully, they could laugh about it over a pizza, but for now they had to fulfill their duties as senshi and protect their princess.

“LOOK!” Venus pointed below after she spotted Sailor Moon and Jupiter fighting for utter survival on the baseball diamond. The flash of a tiara caught her attention as it spun around the bases, taking out all the enemies in its path. Jupiter brawled her way closer to the Technodrome, summoning electrically charged tornadoes. Their valiant efforts took out scores of ninja, but it was not enough. More soldiers kept coming after the senshi. They had to get down there immediately. But how?

“IT APPEARS THAT THE TEENAGE MUTANT NINJATURTLES HAVE ARRIVED TO SAVE THE DAY!” April O’Neil hurried into the bleachers and directed her camera up towards a blimp, anchoring itself to the roof of the stadium.

     One of the ninja turtles aimed a cannon and fired a plunger onto the infield grass. The projectile had a rope attached to it, forming a taut zipline that the mutants used to zoom to the baseball diamond at blazing speed, starting with their leader, Leonardo.

“COWABUNGA!!!” Michelangelo spun about in his harness. His brother tried to catch him, but the turtles collided, knocking them both into the on-deck circle. Donatello arrived safely and helped both of them back to their feet.

“Turtles, fight with honor!” Leonardo drew his katana and charged into the fray of the battle, working his way towards the Technodrome. It was his mission to disarm Shredder of his staff. Once successful, the Shred-head would be vulnerable to senshi attack.

    “I wish I could fight alongside you once again.” Venus ran up the steps to face her masked hero standing beside the news reporter. She planted a kiss on the scratched surface of his white mask before he could object. “I know you love me and it truly breaks my heart to do this, but I think it’s for the best if we go our separate ways for now. Please do everything you can to protect Ms. O’Neil and keep her safe! I will defeat Shredder and end this war!”

“What was that about?” April furrowed her brows in suspicion. “You have a thing for her?”

“No babe, she’s crazy!” he lifted his hands defensively. “She’s obsessed with me. Who could blame her?”

“VENUS LOVE ME, CHAIN!” Sailor Venus charged down the steps and summoned her chain, tossing it high into the air until it snagged onto the turtle’s zip line

“What on earth are you doing?” Mars gasped as her companion swung on the golden chain like Tarzan in the jungle. Mars leapt off the railing and grabbed onto her friend’s outstretched hand, hitching an express ride to the field.

Chapter Text

Chapter 186:

“YOU WISH TO JOIN YOUR FELLOW SENSHI IN DEATH?” Shredder stepped away from the Technodrome to meet the warrior who dared challenge him. His cape fluttered from the tornadoes that ravaged his men, but a simple wave of his staff put an end to them. He released the claws attached to his gauntlets, still stained with senshi blood. “I CUT HER DOWN EASILY. SHE STOOD NO CHANCE AGAINST ME AND NIETHER WILL YOU!”

“AMI!” The confirmation of her beloved companion’s death enraged Jupiter. She tightened her grip on her tonfa, allowing the electricity within to rise to the surface of her tiara and flow into her wooden sticks. She let out a ferocious cry and charged at the warlord, spinning her dazzling tonfa.

Shredder gripped his staff, using it to block the whirlwind of strikes. His words had angered the senshi, just as he had expected. The crystal shimmered, absorbing all of her robust energy. Once drained, he would slash her to pieces with his claws. And if she unleashed her celestial powers, he would return them upon her tenfold.

 “JUPITER.... OAK.... EVO...” Jupiter back flipped in retreat. The more time she spent in the dark light of that demonic crystal, the more lethargic her blows became. She raised her hands high, preparing to summon the most powerful spell she had in her arsenal. The spirit and will of her next attack would over power Shredder’s onyx crystal. She would destroy it, even if she perished. Avenging Ami’s death made her life a worthy sacrifice. Electrical energy manifested around her as thunder crackled in the overcast sky swarming above the Technodrome.

“NO!” Sailor Moon tackled her companion to ground just before she could complete her spell, knowing fully well what her guardian intended to do. She wouldn’t allow it. There had to be another way to defeat Shredder. “I can’t afford to lose you too!”

“THEY KILLED AMI!” Jupiter scrambled to her feet with tears in her eyes. She pushed Usagi away, eager to attack Shredder again, but the klutz held onto her arm with a firm grip.

“I can’t afford to lose you too!” Sailor Moon dropped to her knees, refusing to let go. “Please…”

“FOOLISH GIRLS, SOON THE SUPREME EVIL SHALL CLEANSE THIS LAND AND I WILL REIGN AS KING!” A maddening grin crossed his face as he approached the unconscious mascot Mr. Met lying on the infield dirt. He thrust the onyx crystal into his oversized head, seizing another opportunity to display the awesome magic Beryl had granted him.

 The costumed character levitated off the ground after being enveloped by the evil energy. Gone was the mascot’s cheerful smile, replaced instead with a sinister smirk and a mouth full of broken teeth. Its lanky arms now possessed bulging muscles that ripped the sleeves of his blue jersey. The red stitches across his ball-shaped head glowed with the aura of the demonic gemstone. Mr. Met returned to the ground, fully equipped with a t-shirt launcher and an oversized baseball bat. The lovable mascot had gone from cute and endearing to absolutely terrifying from the onyx crystal’s magic. Sailor Moon quivered at the very sight of it and back pedalled on her boots.

“I’D LOVE TO PLAY BALL WITH YOU, BUT I NEED TO RETURN TO THE DARK KINGDOM AND I WANT TO BEAT THE TRAFFIC OUT OF THE STADIUM!” Shredder captured the youma’s attention with his staff and pointed it at the two senshi, commanding his demon to slay the senshi so that he could return to his Queen with the vast amount of energy claimed by this assault on Citi Field. “DESTROY THEM!”

Mr. Met barreled towards the sailor guardians. The mascot’s oversized feet tore up the grass with every step he took in his spiked cleats, mangling the field into a muddy slop. He readied his cannon and took aim at Sailor Moon.

Chapter Text

Chapter 187:

“YAHHH!!” Sailor Moon bolted away from Mr. Met. Oversized white garments propelled out of his gun, large enough to cover her petite frame if she were to get snagged. The senshi skipped out of their path, bumping past the footsoldiers as she fled. T-shirts rained down from the sky, trapping the foot soldiers like a fishing net. She eluded capture despite her clumsiness, but lacked an opportunity for a counterattack. She huffed and puffed, sprinting around the bases as if she had slapped a baseball into the outfield gap. “WHY DO YOU HATE ME SO MUCH? I CHEERED FOR YOUR TEAM!”

       Jupiter hated to leave the moon princess behind to fend for herself, but it had to be done. She had faith that her friend would evade the youma and protect herself for the time being, even though it was her sworn duty to do so. She could not count the turtles and her fellow senshi on for any help. Defeating Shredder and putting an end to Beryl’s dreams of conquest once and for all was her destiny. Sailor Moon would disapprove of her selfish plan of action, but she would not allow Shredder to escape. Jupiter fought her way through the barrage of t-shirts, laser bolts and armed enemy soldiers, until she leapt over the unsuspecting youma’s head, bouncing off his cap towards the Technodrome. She spun her tonfa into all the foot clan impeding her path of revenge. Nothing would stop her from avenging Ami and saving New York City from this invasion of evil.

“MONSTER MET!” the deranged youma closed in on Sailor Moon. His target had slowed to catch her breath, giving him time to aim a shot. This time the oversized cloth struck true. A white t-shirt baring a Mets logo wrapped itself around the senshi, closing around her like a burrito from her neck down to the soles of her red boots.

“AHH!”  Sailor Moon screeched. Her face slapped against the grass with a thud. The sinister youma discarded his t-shirt cannon and headed her way with an elongated wooden club held high, ready to bash her brains in. She shook too and fro, trying her best to free her limbs, but they would not budge in the slightest. Her eyes shut in fear when the looming Mr. Met let out a guttural grunt, swinging his bat at her exposed head like a mallet smashing a watermelon.

“CRESECENT BEAM!” Sailor Venus fired a beam of golden light into the youma’s chest. Monster Met staggered backward. His bat slammed into the dirt a few inches away from Usagi’s head, splattering her with a cloud of dust. The blaze of energy only enraged the beast further. Monster Met let out of a roar that shook the stadium seats behind home plate. Remaining players, umpires and even some foot clan fled from the field in terror, jumping into the stands or rushing down the dugout steps and into the safety of the clubhouse to avoid Shredder’s creation.

“VENUS!” Sailor Moon screeched at the sight of the spectacular beam bombarding the youma’s baseball jersey. She thrashed her bound legs and shook her arms in excitement, desperate to rid herself of the bundle of cloth encasing her body.

“BURNING MANDALA!” Sailor Mars joined the battle and unleased a series of fireballs upon the stumbling youma. Monster Met readied his bat and took a mighty swing, knocking the magical energy back at the senshi and turtles. Fire balls sped toward them, singeing the grass wherever they landed.

“MARS!” Sailor Moon wailed her companion’s name in relief. She knew her guardians had not abandoned her. Her faith in them had never wavered. Usagi flipped and flopped, rolling down the third base line to reach her beloved friends until a green foot put a stop to the erratic movement. 

“HIIIYA!” Leonardo pinned the girl to the grass cut her free with a swipe of his sharp katana.

She scrambled out of the t-shirt and surprised the shelled mutant with a hug. The turtles had received her message and come to her aid. Together, they would have a much better chance of defeating the enemy. But where was Jupiter? Usagi scanned the field until she found the green clad senshi illuminated with flashes of lightning that radiated out of her tonfa as she fought her way closer to the ominous sphere. Sailor Moon’s heart sank at the sudden realization. Jupiter had pursued Shredder, determined to carry out her suicide mission. They needed to help her. This battle could only be won if they all worked together.

“Now’s not the time for hugs.” Leonardo advised his female ally. He gripped her by the shoulders and gave her a serious glance. “I have a plan, but I need you to take care of that youma. I will disarm Shredder of that onyx crystal. Have your senshi ready to strike with all of your magic when he is vulnerable.”

“Okay, I’ll do it.” Sailor Moon nodded anxiously. She tried her best to hold back tears as she begged for the mutant’s help. “Please protect Sailor Jupiter. She’s in danger!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 188:

“HOLY GUACAMOLE!” Michelangelo dove to avoid a fireball that nearly roasted his shell to a crisp. The fiery projectiles crashed around him like a meteor shower, leaving behind smoldering pits of flame all throughout the once pristine baseball diamond. To make matters worse, the foot clan immediately targeted the intruding turtles, lighting up the field with their bright laser beams.

“Need a lift, Mikey?” Donatello extended his bo staff to his brother, who grabbed hold of the wooden stick. He flipped his brother back up onto his feet, and together they sandwiched a footsoldier between their shells. The purple garbed criminal slumped to the ground, down for the count.

“TOTALLY TUBULOSO!” the pizza loving turtle shouted in appreciation of their teamwork. He gave his brother a quick pat on the back of his shell before gripping his nunchaku and whipping it off the head of a nearby henchman to knock him out cold.

    The ninjas broke apart and made their way into the stands. The duo made quick work of the foot clan, punching and kicking their way through the ballpark seats until the laser beams diminished. Donatello waved his bo staff, disarming the criminals with technical proficiency while Mikey used a more chaotic style, running amok throughout the seating area with his nunchaku swinging about wildly, sending a bunch of their enemies into a puddle of the bubbling black goop.

“HEY GUYS!” Sailor Moon sprinted down the line towards home plate to catch up with her companions. She surprised Sailor Mars with a tight hug right as she finished taking out a henchman with a roundhouse kick to the head. Leonardo had warned her about the excessive hugs, but she could not help herself.

“Sorry I was late to the game!” Venus joined in the fun, squeezing them both in tight. “I had a bit of car trouble!”

“GET A HOLD OF YOURSELF, BOTH OF YOU! WE ARE IN THE MIDDLE OF A BATTLE!” a grim Sailor Mars pushed her friends away. She owed them both a hug for her rash behavior, but that could come later if they survived this war. The sight of the ninja turtles buzzing throughout the stands gave her a sliver a hope that they could pull this off. But there was still the imminent threat of Monster Met looming in the shadow of the massive Technodrome. And where was Sailor Jupiter? Before she could even ask, the vicious youma turned its attention on the three young women, taking in a deep breath before coughing violently.

 Baseballs covered with spit flung out of the monster’s mouth, raining down upon the senshi like a hailstorm. Venus and Mars grabbed Sailor Moon, protecting her from the plethora of slimy baseballs heading their way. They cartwheeled through the air, avoiding the projectiles before taking cover inside the Mets dugout.

“Jupiter is still out there fighting. We need to get past this youma and save her before she attempts something reckless!” Rei’s strong words had snapped Usagi back to reality. She could not standby with their fellow companion in harm’s way. Balls bounced off the safety netting as Sailor Moon emerged from the dugout steps, despite Mars trying to hold her back. She appreciated her guardians’ concern for her safety, but she was tired of running away and done with hiding. It was time to face this danger head on and avert the grim future in Rei’s vision.

“USAGI!” Mars and Venus shouted in unison, giving chase to their over emotional companion sprinting towards the pitcher’s mound. The youma awaited them at home plate, kicking around the dirt in the batter’s box and hissing in anger.

     The two senshi couldn’t believe their eyes at the sight of Sailor Moon, running towards the dangerous youma with no protection. She avoided all the baseballs, smoldering pits of lava, and gobs of black goo, cartwheeling, jumping, and rolling out of their path like a stealthy ninja until she made it to the center of the diamond. Was this dexterous senshi the same clumsy and uncoordinated girl they knew and loved? How was that even possible!

“I am the pretty guardian of love and justice!” Sailor Moon stood at the top of the mound, giving her sharp introduction to the hideous youma. Mister Met retrieved his bat from the ground and banged it against the plate. A scowl crossed the monster’s face as he brought the bat up to his shoulders, preparing to take a massive swing. “A team mascot should bring happiness and joy to sport fans! I will not stand for this insult to the great game of baseball! IN THE NAME OF THE MOON, I SHALL PUNISH YOU!”

“MONSTER MET!” The hideous mascot pounded his enormous bat against the plate again, smashing the dish to pieces. He grinned wide, exposing a set of broken teeth as if encouraging the senshi to attack him. It was just like two rival baseball teams going head to head in the bottom of the ninth. She would strike him out and win the game for her team!

“MOON TIARA ACTION!” Sailor Moon refused to back down against the scary youma. She called out the words to her attack and grabbed her tiara, summoning the confidence of a pitcher going up against a tough batter in a high-pressure situation with the bases loaded and two outs. She wound up her arms overhead and kicked her leg like a fancy closer before unleashing the shimmering headpiece towards the youma.

Monster Met licked his lips and reared his bat back, ready to smash the glimmering object back at the sailor senshi with a mighty swing. All she could do was close her eyes and have faith that her pitch would succeed.

“FIRE SOUL!” 

“CRESCENT BEAM!”

The two senshi joined Sailor Moon on the mound and shouted their attacks, joining their celestial powers with the tiara. The combined energy increased the tiara’s speed and ferocity as it whizzed through the air like a hundred mile per hour fastball.

Monster Met took a massive swing at the magical headpiece, but whiffed. The glowing tiara bombarded into his lanky body with a massive explosion, rocketing its oversized head clean off the body. The youma wailed in agony, only to watch its very own body collapse to the grass. His wooden bat slipped out of its hand and rolled out of reach.

“TOUCH DOWN!!” Venus smiled at their awesome victory. “Finish him off, Sailor Moon!”

Sailor Moon brandished her wand, but Mars tugged her away from the baseball beast before she could even utter a single word of her cantation. They had not won just yet. Even though the youma was body-less, the mascot was still intent on devouring the senshi. It tumbled towards the pitcher’s mound, bowling over everything in its path with the goal of feasting on the three females.

     They ran for their lives, but the evil ball was closing in on them. Within seconds, they would be it’s lunch. Sailor Moon gasped as she looked over her shoulder, staring into the hateful eyes of the revolving youma. Its mouth opened wide, ready to chomp the senshi to bits. Mars yanked on her friend to keep her moving, pulling Usagi away from danger as best she could, but it would not be enough.

“BOY, THAT’S A FOUL BALL!” Michelangelo and his brother jumped back into the field and tore away the safety net behind home plate. They tossed the netting over Monster Met’s head and pulled tight, trapping the youma within the webbing before it could tear the girls apart.

“VENUS LOVE ME CHAIN!” Sailor Venus summoned her golden chain, wrapping the magical restraint around the baseball to further prevent the youma from breaking loose of their trap. Mars immediately lent her assistance, grabbing the chain to help keep the youma at bat.

“MONSTER MET!” the deranged mascot chopped away at the netting and magical links. Venus and the turtles did their best to hold the creature in place, but it was only a matter of seconds before it broke free yet again.

“DON’T JUST STAND THERE, SAILOR MOON!” Mars barked at her princess. She grit her teeth from exertion as her grip on the chain slipped. “DO IT NOW!”

“MOON.... HEALING... ESCALATION!” Sailor Moon waved her wand, enveloping the youma with its healing light. The youma screeched as it became overwhelmed by the blinding magic. The demon rose into the sky and twitched, shrinking back to size. When the light receded, Mr. Met had returned to normal, with his body reattached to his head. Sailor Moon cradled the descending mascot into her arms, trying desperately to wake him, but he would not stir. Mr. Met’s essence still belonged to the crystal. The only way to save him was to take out Shredder, destroy the onyx crystal so that she could reverse all the chaos caused in this attack.

“Bunga Cow!” Sailor Venus leapt off her feet and gave Michelangelo a high five in midair. The orange clad turtle and senshi danced together on the baseball field, celebrating as if they had just won the world series. “We did it!”

“This fight is far from over.” Sailor Mars warned, interrupting the fanfare. She eyed the ominous Technodrome resting in the center of the field as thunderous clouds rumbled, blanketing the stadium with an oncoming storm.

“Jupiter...” Sailor Moon heard the crackling of thunder above and sprinted towards the spherical base.

Chapter Text

Chapter 189:

Shredder marched up the Technodrome ramp with a grin spreading across his face. Victory was within his grasp, thanks to his successful mission. Once inside, he would return the energy he had gathered to the Dark Kingdom. A substantial amount that would surely be more than enough to please his Queen. The Supreme Evil would soon devour this city and he would take his crown as king before long!

“THIS GAME IS DELAYED ON THE COUNT OF LIGHTNING!” Sailor Jupiter flipped through the air and landed at the entrance, blocking the warlord’s entry. Hell bent on revenge, she spun her electrical tonfa at his helmet, connecting with a vicious blow that sending the unsuspecting warrior tumbling down the ramp. The senshi pursued the arch-villain with blood lust in her green eyes, seizing the opening to call out her attack. She hoped that Sailor Moon would forgive her, but understand the necessary sacrifice. “SUPREME THUNDER!”

Thunderous clouds rolled in overhead, blanketing the stadium as the athletic senshi channeled her energy and called for lightning to strike from the heavens. Several bolts dashed down upon the villain, but the shimmering onyx crystal absorbed them, protecting him from harm within a purple bubble that deflected the magical spell. The lightning gathered into the onyx crystal, which Shredder harnessed to return upon the Sailor Senshi. Jupiter found herself overwhelmed by streaks of corrupted lightning that shocked every single muscle in her body. Jupiter shrieked in tremendous agony.