Title: the looking glass world v.1
Theme: If only... the senshi had been turned evil instead of the shitennou
Genre: AR Drama
The world splintered like glass and I fell through the gaps, into light, into nothing. Pluto was calling my name, even in the gathering dark I could hear the urgency in that normally calm voice, but everything was falling away from me, it didn't matter.
Then my body crashed into the ground, and the shock was so intense, it made me cry out. I lay still for a moment, stunned, then moved each arm and leg. They all responded, though my nerves shrieked with every movement. I reached out with my hands, the only part of my body that wasn't on fire, and pressed against the ground.
I was lying on a road, the surface was too smooth and regular to be anything else. There was broken glass all around me, but no blood on my body. The air was filled with the thick heavy silence that comes after an explosion, muffled with dust. I took a deep breath - feeling as if my ribs were pinching my lungs - and pushed myself up with my arms. They trembled, but did not give way. This was encouraging. I tested my legs. Standing proved more difficult, due to the high heels, but I did manage to get myself upright.
Brushing my skirt and torso down with shaking hands, I looked around, and the hope inspired by my relative wellbeing went out like a candle.
This was not Crystal Tokyo. Everything was darker. Dirtier. I could almost taste the grit and greenhouse gases in the air. The street was completely empty of people. Yet the buildings seemed familiar. I turned around and around, trying to understand. It was like a tickle inside my mind instead of my body. Despite the glass around me, I couldn't see any broken windows. My heart tripped as I realised it must have come from the palace. I had a crazy urge to pick up a shard, the only thing connecting me back to home, I even bent down to see if there was anything to help me get back there.
I froze at the sound of the voice. It was unfamiliar, it was male, but at least it was speaking Japanese. Wherever I'd landed, I was definitely in Japan. That was something. My mind immediately switched to battle mode: forget figuring out my locationg and what had happened, I had to stand and fight.
"Turn around. Slowly."
"Or you'll what?" I called back, not moving a finger. I would do this on my terms, not his. "I don't make deals with the likes of you."
There was a harsh laugh from my left. "Blown to kingdom come and not even a scratch! That dark energy cures everything, doesn't it?"
"Why don't you come closer and see?" I taunted, while my mind was in freefall. Dark energy? How did he know? How could he know? That had been centuries ago. Was he a time traveller? But time travel was forbidden, Pluto didn't allow it, only Small Lady had been allowed to come and go, even that was for her training-!
I heard footsteps on the road, measured and sure, so I straightened, but I didn't put up my hands. I wasn't going to surrender to these men. I pivoted on my feet and looked my enemies full in the face.
Two men, far taller than me (damn). They were both blond, though one had his hair cut close to the scalp, where it curled up in a sort of halo, and the other had his tied back in a smooth, professional ponytail. They were dressed in a similar uniform, tight fitting trousers (shimmering blue and green respectively) topped by white tunics quartered by a golden cross, and cloaks that matched their trousers. The one in blue held a glittering sword while the one in green held a strange device that looked weirdly like Mercury's scanner.
"A new senshi?" questioned the one in blue, raising his eyebrows.
"Fairly new," I said, trying to act tough and confident, which is rather difficult when you have no idea where the hell you are.
"And where did Nehelenia find you?"
There aren't many things that freak me out, but that name is one of them. My knees almost gave way. "Nehelenia's alive?" I whispered.
"Of course she's alive, isn't she the one who-"
"Jadeite," said the one in green, putting a hand on his arm. His eyes were narrow, focused on my face. "Look at her. She's not like the other senshi. Her uniform's different, her eyes are different. There's nothing dark about her."
"It doesn't matter what kind of uniform she's got on, Zoisite, she's a sailor senshi, she's the enemy!"
My whole body started trembling, I couldn't stop it. All the fight drained out of me. Nehelenia alive, sailor senshi branded 'the enemy'? I had no idea what was going on, all I knew was that I was a very long way from home. "Where am I?" I demanded, looking around. "What planet is this?"
"It's Earth," Zoisite said, looking at me strangely. "Are you saying you're from another planet?"
"What year is it?" I demanded.
"1995," answered Jadeite, also looking at me as if I were crazy.
I put my hands over my mouth, trying to stop a moan of dismay escaping my lips. I was crazy. This had to be a dream, or shock, or a coma or something!
"Why? What year did you think it was?" Zoisite demanded, stepping closer. Jadeite grabbed his arm.
"Look, it doesn't matter what she thinks or where she's from, Zoisite, she's a senshi-!"
Zoisite pulled his arm away and held up that strange machine, moving it up and down. I took a step back, thinking it might shoot or hurt me, but all that happened was a strange clicking. Zoisite's eyes widened. He looked at me, then looked at the machine again. Then he looked at Jadeite.
"We need to take her to the Master and Kunzite, Jadeite, right away." He looked at me, his face worried. "What's your name?"
"Ceres," I whispered.
"Take her to the Master, are you insane?!" Jadeite exploded. "If she's from a different planet, there's no way I'm letting her near-"
"She's from a different planet all right. She's from another Earth."
Those were the last words I heard. Then my legs finally gave out and the ground came up to meet me in a dark, hard kiss.
Title: the looking glass world vol. 2
Theme: If only... the senshi had been turned evil instead of the shitennou
Genre: AR Drama
The voice echoed inside my head. I fought against it, fought against opening my eyes. I already knew that I didn't want to wake up and face the world. Because this wasn't my world. This wasn't real. It was all a dream and I wasn't opening my eyes until it ended and I was back home, back in a place where senshi were the good guys.
"Ceres, please, open your eyes for me."
But there was something familiar about the voice, about the way it phrased the words. I opened my eyes and stared into the face of a young man. Most of it was obscured by a large domino mask, but I could see his eyes, deep pure blue that made me feel as if I were falling all over again. Oh yeah, I definitely recognised him. Those eyes and the voice were the same, even in my time.
"Your Majesty!" I said, sitting up and bowing. "Please forgive me, I..."
There was sniggering. Somebody was laughing at me. I turned my head to my right. It wasn't Jadeite or Zoisite, it was another man. Thick shoulder-length brown hair, dark eyes, lips curled in a smirk.
"What's so funny?" I demanded, trying to get off the sofa where they'd put me, but the King pushed me back down.
"You aren't going anywhere, you need to rest."
"But your Majesty, I'm fine, I-"
"And you don't need to call me 'your Majesty'," he interrupted, his cheeks turning red. "My name's Tuxedo Kamen. I'm not a king or anything like that."
"You're the Prince of Earth," said a dry voice to my left. "Obviously in her world, you are a king. She's just giving you the proper respect."
"I was the Prince of Earth," the King corrected, looking even more embarrassed. "Now I'm just a normal high school student."
"You're anything but normal, and you know it. Nobody in this room is 'normal', Master."
"I wish you wouldn't call me that!"
I put my hand over my mouth and giggled. This was so like the exchanges I heard between Mars and the Queen about propriety and social etiquette that it made me feel a little less homesick. The argument stopped and the King looked at me, puzzled.
"Sorry," I apologised. "It's just... he's right. You are a king in my world."
His eyes widened. "So you do come from a different Earth? I thought it was just another of Zoisite's wild theories about parallel worlds," he muttered, sitting back down in a chair. The man who'd laughed at me leaned on the back of the chair and put a hand on his shoulder.
"We all did, Master." He looked at me. "Sorry, by the way. I wasn't laughing at you. I was laughing because I knew how he'd react." He nudged the King as he said this and laughed again. "Way too modest for his own good."
I heard movement and the third man came into view. This time I couldn't stop myself staring. He was tall, maybe even taller than the King, and he wasn't just blond like Zoisite or Jadeite, he was silver. Everything about him was pale, except for his eyes, which were the same green as Artemis's eyes. Artemis... Luna... Were they even alive in this world? If the senshi were evil... what about Sailor Moon? I could feel the tears starting up and put my face in my hands for a moment, taking deep breaths.
"Would you like a drink?" the King asked softly.
I nodded and I heard someone walk off. This was no tiny rat hole, the King's flat was big. I kept trying to remember what Mercury had taught us about this period, but it was like my memory was swiss cheese, full of holes. I took my hands away and looked at my surroundings. The room was filled with soft yellow light, a product of the old-fashioned electric bulbs. Through the blinds, I could see the multi-coloured lights of downtown Azubu. The audio and video equipment was hilariously bulky: the television wasn't even flatscreen and the sound system almost took up half a wall. I couldn't even look at his "modern" phone, which was like a brick with an aerial sticking up out of it. I was pretty sure if I started laughing, that would lead to crying.
I didn't know how they'd done it - nobody had made a sound since the King asked me if I wanted a drink - but Jadeite and Zoisite had come into the room and they were now sitting with the King. Zoisite gave me a reassuring smile, Jadeite just nodded. I figured he was still suspicious. I couldn't blame him. As he said, my uniform didn't really prove anything. The dark-haired man came back into the room and silently handed me a glass of water, which I sipped gratefully. The pale man drew up a chair and sat down, then cleared his throat.
"They tell me your name is Ceres, is that correct?" His voice had lost its dry tone and was now quiet, almost gentle.
I nodded. "Sailor Ceres, leader of the Sailor Quartet."
"My name is Kunzite," he said, "and I'm the leader of the shitennou. That's Nephrite, Jadeite and Zoisite. We serve our Master, the Prince of the Earth, once called Endymion."
Now I recognised them, all right. And I felt cold and sad. I had never met the shitennou in my world, because they had been killed long before I was born. In fact, in my world, they had already been dead in the year 1995. I didn't know how I was going to tell them that. In fact, I didn't know how much I could tell them about my world, if anything. Surely it was in everyone's best interests that I return home as quickly as possible.
"You recognise our master as King and say that you come from a parallel Earth," Kunzite went on. "Can you tell us how you got here?"
"There was a battle," I said slowly. "But what you have to understand is... I don't just come from a different Earth. I come from a different year. A different century." I took a deep breath. "I was fighting in the year 2995."
There was a dead silence after my announcement. They were shocked, of course, and I couldn't blame them.
"The thirtieth century?" the King said, his voice soft with disbelief. "You're saying that the human race has survived that long?"
I nodded. "And you're the King. You rule with our Queen."
His eyes sharpened and he leaned forward. I saw the faces of the shitennou change as well, suddenly warier, and I began to understand just how careful I would have to be while I was here. The King didn't know about the Queen. For all I knew, there might not even be a Sailor Moon in this time!
"What's the Queen's name?" asked the King, as I had known he would.
"I can't tell you that," I said quietly.
"Why not?" His voice was sharp as well.
"Because it might affect our future and she doesn't want to do that," said Zoisite, who was watching my face carefully.
Jadeite shrugged. "Personally, I think we should just get her back to her own world. It's bad enough fighting sailor senshi without trying to take care of one. No offence," he added, raising an eyebrow at me.
I shook my head. "None taken. I just want to go home. Believe me."
"And how do you propose we get her back?" Kunzite asked dryly. "We don't have the technology to time travel, let alone move between parallel worlds. And we can't just throw her out on the street. Assuming she's telling the truth, she doesn't have any parents or relatives here that could take care of her, she has no bank account, no identity. I understand that you want to go home, Ceres, but at the moment, I don't see how we can accomplish that, so you will have to stay with one of us." The King opened his mouth and Kunzite immediately shook his head. "Unless you have a plan to explain this girl to your parents, Master, I don't think it should be you."
So the King's parents were alive here. I made a mental note: Do not tell the King that he's an orphan in my world.
"She could stay at my place," Zoisite said suddenly. "My father's setting up an exhibit at the moment and we're looking for a new lodger. It's perfect."
"But I won't be able to pay," I said, panicked at the thought of having to deal with another stranger.
He smirked slightly. "My dad's an artist. I'm the one who keeps the books. You won't have to worry about rent."
"Oh," I said, letting out a sigh of relief. "But I don't have any clothes or... I don't have anything." I hugged myself, self-conscious. I was beginning to realise that however awkward and stressful this was at the moment, it would only get more so with every passing day I was here.
"So this means we're going to reveal our civilian identities?" Jadeite asked, folding his arms.
"Unless you want to drug her and keep her blindfolded and gagged in a dark corner somewhere?" Kunzite replied.
Jadeite flushed. "I was only saying..."
"I already know the King's name," I said, watching the King twitch at his title. "Chiba Mamoru-san, right?"
"Yes," he said with relief. "Could you at least call me 'Chiba-san'? People will get the wrong idea if you call me 'your Majesty'."
"Yes, your Ma... Chiba-san." The name felt so strange in my mouth.
He moved his hand and his tuxedo disappeared, leaving a high school uniform. It was strange to see him looking so young: in my world, even though he hadn't physically aged, you could see the wisdom and pain of the years in his eyes. But Chiba-san, as I had to call him, didn't have that. His eyes were clear, and despite everything, hopeful. That was why I dared to ask the question.
"What about Sailor Moon? Is she evil?"
"Sailor Moon?!" Chiba-san actually leapt forward and grabbed my arms. I flinched back, cursing my stupidity. I should have known, I should have known not to say anything, why had I pushed my luck?
"Who is she? Do you know? Do you know who she is? Is she in your future?" Chiba-san begged, his eyes burning into mine, and oh, I wanted to tell him. It wasn't just that he was my King, though that played a part. It was his dark hair, the smell of his aftershave, the blue eyes. He's Small Lady's father, I reminded myself. He's the KING. Don't let him get to you.
Kunzite saved me. He grabbed Chiba-san's shoulders and literally dragged him backwards. I drew my knees into my chest and hugged them.
"Sailor Moon's not evil," Zoisite said slowly. "But we don't know much about her. She appears to help us and then she's gone again."
"I don't think you should say any more, Ceres," Kunzite said, still holding Chiba-san.
I nodded. At least Sailor Moon was alive. And that meant that Luna was around. And that meant that there was hope for this world, even if it was a small hope. I had to find her. I had to find Tsukino Usagi. That, at least, shouldn't be too difficult. But I had to get away from the shitennou and Chiba-san first. There was no way I could risk them finding out her identity, it might jeopardise everything.
"Come on," Zoisite said, standing up and holding out his hand. "We'll get you home and I can give you some of my pyjamas. We'll go shopping tomorrow and get you some clothes you can wear before you go back home."
I took his hand and stood up. I turned to the others, to Chiba-san. "I'm sorry, I can't tell you anything else," I said softly, shivering at the desperation in his eyes. "It might ruin something, something that you don't know about, but which could be very important."
"We understand," said Kunzite, before Chiba-san could open his mouth. "But could you at least tell us your name? You do have a name, right?"
I nodded: I did have a name, though I hadn't used it in a while. "Haruna Hanako."
"Flower child of spring," Jadeite said slowly. "Pretty."
"Thanks," I said, not quite sure how to react. It was the first vaguely nice thing he'd said to me.
"Get some sleep," Kunzite said. "We'll meet up later in the week and maybe work out how to get Haruna-san back home."
We all nodded, even me. There was just something about him, something that reminded me of Pluto or Saturn. This natural authority in his voice. Zoisite was nice, Chiba-san was familiar, but Kunzite was trustworthy. I knew that he would try to get me back home. Chiba-san might not, because now he knew that I had information about Sailor Moon, and he would do everything he could do to get that information out of me. As Zoisite and I walked out into the corridor, me wrapped in his coat, I wondered how much I'd end up regretting mentioning her.
Title: the looking glass world vol. 3
Theme: Resolution (January 2009)
Genre: AR Drama
When I woke up the next morning, I thought that it really had been a bad dream. For one delicious moment, I believed that I was in my bed, in my room, in my world. But then I heard the sound of the traffic outside and I had that falling feeling again and my body jumped, jolting me awake.
"Haruna-san?" Gentle but insistent knocking on my door.
I pushed myself up and rubbed my eyes. "I'm up, Zoisite-san."
"Hey, I told you, it's Yori-san. Come on, I've got breakfast ready. If you're hungry."
If I was hungry? My stomach was about to eat me for breakfast, but I decided not to mention that to him. The clothes he'd found me were a bit baggy but at least they were female. Although why did he have female clothes lying around? Was it his father? He was an artists and they had open relationships, at least, that's what I'd heard. Or maybe it was him? Maybe he had a girlfriend - no. My mind shied away from that thought. I'd rather they were his than his girlfriend's. And I wasn't going to examine that thought, either. Underwear, skirt, T-shirt; then I attempted to brush my hair and arrange it in an old-fashioned style. A messy bun was the best I could manage but at least my hair wasn't falling over my face like yesterday.
I was feeling pretty good until I walked into the kitchen and saw Yori sitting at the breakfast bar. Oh my God. How could he look that good when he'd just got up? Yesterday I'd been suffering from "time travel lag" and a concussion so I hadn't really noticed what he looked like. But now I was noticing, I was noticing everything. He was like a shoujo manga hero come to life, complete with razor-sharp cheekbones and impossibly soft lips. Not that I was looking at his lips.
"Morning," he said with a smile. "Tea? Juice?"
I grabbed the box with the orange on it and poured some juice. It tasted horribly synthetic and sugary but I didn't care. Anything to stop myself from staring at him. First resolution of this new life: do not stare at Yori. Do not even look at him if you can help it.
"So, twentieth-century Tokyo, what's the first thing you'd like to do?"
Find Sailor Moon and get the hell out of here. I made a show of looking thoughtful and not really looking into his eyes. "I'd like to see Juuban Junior High, please."
"Juuban Junior High?" he repeated in a deadpan voice. "Any reason why?"
"Because it was my school and I want to see what it looked like back then... I mean now," I corrected, trying not to blush. Please don't let him realise that I have an ulterior motive. Please don't let him guess I'm trying to contact Sailor Moon.
Yori stared at me for a moment and I tried to look as innocent as possible, even though that's not my speciality. Pallas is the one who's good at looking cute. Artemis is always telling me that my eyes let me down. I just pretended that I was staring at him because he was good looking. Okay, maybe I didn't have to pretend too hard.
"Okay, Juuban Junior High," he murmured. "Give me a few minutes to get ready and we'll go down there." He stood up and left. I waited until he was gone, then I dived into the living room to look for a portal.
Only there wasn't one. There was a massive box of a computer on a desk and... oh my God, they were still using wires. I almost threw something against the wall, but nil desperandum as Mercury's always saying. Mercury... She was evil in this world. And Jupiter and Mars... and Venus. I put my hands over my mouth, cold horror washing over my body and leaving me trembling.
I had to get out of here. I had to get back to my world.
I sat before the computer, looking for a touchpad in vain. Finally I saw the ancient sign for 'power on' in the body of the computer and touched the button. Nothing. I was going to have to push it in? This would take ages! I dropped my head onto the keyboard with a loud crash. So much for modern technology.
"What are you doing?" Yori was standing in the doorway, staring at me as if I were crazy. I probably was. There wasn't much study on how time travel messed with your mind. Small Lady never really told us much about how it felt to see your parents when they were teenagers. My parents weren't even born yet in this time.
"I was just trying to turn the computer on," I said pathetically. "But I failed."
He smiled. "You don't do it with your head. Our technology isn't that cutting-edge."
"You don't turn things on with your head in my world, either," I said, unthinking. "Not physically, anyway."
He raised his eyebrows. "You need to make sure you don't say anything about the future," he observed. "Or I can't vouch for what the Master will do. He's desperate to find out Sailor Moon's true identity, as you saw. And she won't tell him anything..."
Well, that made sense, but I wasn't going to say anything about her. "I'll be careful," I promised. "Can we go now?"
He nodded and held out a coat for me, just slightly too big but cut for a woman. His mother's? I wasn't going to ask. The less I knew, the better. The less I said, the better. So I left the apartment with three resolutions:
1. Say nothing about the future.
2. Find Sailor Moon.
3. Get back to my world as fast as I can.