Three Messengers (Part 10 is posted here now!)



  • –----
    PART 1 - Mascot Swap

    The Mysterious Star. It's a peaceful star with seven countries inside. Not too long ago, something strange was happening to the "Blessing of the Sun," which provides light to the people, and allows their world to stay alive. Whatever crisis was happening was averted by the efforts of the Princesses of Sunny Kingdom, Fine and Rein.

    The Kingdom of Magic. It's a normally peaceful kingdom, run by a Mechanist monarch, and where every person has an identical counterpart on Earth. The current crown princess, Erika, recently had a crisis to deal with - which a good friend of hers, known as Himeko Nonohara (who is also Erika's duplicate) managed to fix.

    Speaking of Himeko Nonohara, she dwells in Kazetachi in Japan, on Planet Earth. Although she was forbidden to use magic, she is still technically a witch. She currently has a Disguise Ribbon (that doesn't work) and a Diary that she uses to keep in touch with Erika.

    Normally, the three worlds are separate. However, someone in the Kingdom of Magic was experimenting with a Transportation Mirror when things went...

    well, things went wrong.

    It wasn't too bad at first - since it only connected his laboratory to Himeko's room. Imagine her surprise, when Sei Arei (the first person she had ever dated) was looking at her through her mirror. While she was changing. When Erika found out, she wasn't very happy - since for everyone involved except for Sei, it looked like he was peeping. He was banished to the Human World for a month as a result. Himeko wasn't happy with this decision, but didn't argue against it.

    Only, nobody managed to end the spell connecting the mirrors. Himeko suggested that the mirror be moved to where Erika slept at night, and was surprised when Erika told her that nobody else had thought of that.

    It was when the mirror was moved that things started to get weird. Poomo, assistant to Fine and Rein, managed to get switched for Pokota, Himeko's talking stuffed lion. Nobody could figure out why this had happened, since there had been no prior contact between the Mysterious Star and the Kingdom of Magic (or the Planet Earth, for that matter...)

    It was Fine and Rein who noticed the switch first. Instead of Poomo's Box in its usual place, there was a stuffed lion. They grabbed it, looked at it, poked it... but nothing they did was of any use. This was because Pokota could only move around and talk when Himeko was wearing the ribbon.



  • –----
    PART 1 - Mascot Swap

    The Mysterious Star. It's a peaceful star with seven countries inside. Not too long ago, something strange was happening to the "Blessing of the Sun," which provides light to the people, and allows their world to stay alive. Whatever crisis was happening was averted by the efforts of the Princesses of Sunny Kingdom, Fine and Rein.

    The Kingdom of Magic. It's a normally peaceful kingdom, run by a Mechanist monarch, and where every person has an identical counterpart on Earth. The current crown princess, Erika, recently had a crisis to deal with - which a good friend of hers, known as Himeko Nonohara (who is also Erika's duplicate) managed to fix.

    Speaking of Himeko Nonohara, she dwells in Kazetachi in Japan, on Planet Earth. Although she was forbidden to use magic, she is still technically a witch. She currently has a Disguise Ribbon (that doesn't work) and a Diary that she uses to keep in touch with Erika.

    Normally, the three worlds are separate. However, someone in the Kingdom of Magic was experimenting with a Transportation Mirror when things went...

    well, things went wrong.

    It wasn't too bad at first - since it only connected his laboratory to Himeko's room. Imagine her surprise, when Sei Arei (the first person she had ever dated) was looking at her through her mirror. While she was changing. When Erika found out, she wasn't very happy - since for everyone involved except for Sei, it looked like he was peeping. He was banished to the Human World for a month as a result. Himeko wasn't happy with this decision, but didn't argue against it.

    Only, nobody managed to end the spell connecting the mirrors. Himeko suggested that the mirror be moved to where Erika slept at night, and was surprised when Erika told her that nobody else had thought of that.

    It was when the mirror was moved that things started to get weird. Poomo, assistant to Fine and Rein, managed to get switched for Pokota, Himeko's talking stuffed lion. Nobody could figure out why this had happened, since there had been no prior contact between the Mysterious Star and the Kingdom of Magic (or the Planet Earth, for that matter...)

    It was Fine and Rein who noticed the switch first. Instead of Poomo's Box in its usual place, there was a stuffed lion. They grabbed it, looked at it, poked it... but nothing they did was of any use. This was because Pokota could only move around and talk when Himeko was wearing the ribbon.



  • –----
    PART 2 - A Somewhat Normal Day

    Himeko was still half-asleep when she woke up that morning. "Good morning, Pokota."

    The silence that greeted her reminded her of what happened.

    "Oh, right, the ribbon..." She walked over to her desk, and opened up a drawer. Inside of it was a ribbon. Other than a small rip, it looked as though she had just received it yesterday.

    Suddenly, a box on her desk (that she somehow hadn't noticed before) opened up. Out of it rose... something. Whatever it was, it wasn't Pokota. "Aaaah, I slept like a rock-poomo. Are we at the Jewel Kingdom yet-poomo?"

    Himeko froze. Not because of the strange creature. Not because Pokota had been replaced with this... thing. She had heard her sister Aiko's door open. She grabbed the thing and started shaking it.

    Poomo was used to this treatment. Not that it was easy to deal with it. "Altezza - let - go - and - stop - shaking - me - we - didn't - use - Telepoomotion - to - get - here - I - just - woke - up - and -"

    Himeko whispered urgently "Shut up, stop talking and be quiet! If my sister-"

    There was a knock at the door. "Himeko, who are you talking to?"

    Automatically, she replied "Just practicing for a play that the Drama Club's planning on doing." She then whispered to the thing "Where are you from?"

    The thing whispered "The Mysterious Star-poomo" just after Aiko asked "Which one?"

    Himeko, not sure if there was a play with that name already, said "The Mysterious Star." She had a bad feeling in the pit of her stomach.

    She could hear her sister's excitement. "The Mysterious Star? We should bring Yumeko and Shintaro! When are you putting it on?"

    "We're not even sure that we're going to do it yet."

    Disappointment crept into Aiko's voice, but she did her best to hide it. "Oh, okay. Well, let me know when you're going to do it. Also, don't be late to school. Gori-sensei would have a fit if you were."

    Himeko held her breath as she listened to Aiko go downstairs. When the footsteps disappeared, she let go of Poomo. "Who are you?"

    By this point, Poomo knew that he wasn't speaking with Altezza. "I'm Poomo, attendant to Princesses Fine and Rein of Sunny Kingdom-poomo."

    Himeko didn't know what to say to this, so she walked over to the box, stuffed him in it ("Hey! Be careful-poomo!") and started changing.

    "Wh-what are you doing-poomo?"

    "You look and I'll find some way to make you regret it."

    It didn't take Himeko long to get dressed, but she left Poomo in the box long enough to write a message to Erika explaining the situation.

    Poomo came out of the box just as Erika wrote back. "So, what should I ask first-poomo? Your name, or why the book is doing that-poomo?"

    Erika's response: We know, and we're working on it. Sending the watch and the palette with Sei's Crow, Kantarou. Tell him, Sei can erase his memory later.

    Himeko sighed. She just knew that it was going to be weirder than back when she was testing the Ribbon for Erika. "My name is Nonohara Himeko, and until about a year ago, I was testing a magic ribbon for a friend of mine..."


    Himeko was running full speed towards school, as usual. She would have been on time today, if Poomo hadn't kept asking questions - or if Kantarou hadn't tried to eat his tail. With watch on wrist, and palette in pocket, though, it was like old times. And, just like her first day of her second year at Kazetachi Middle School, there was Sei Arei, also known as "Arisaka" Sei, also walking late. (It couldn't be called running, what he was doing). Since he would have been locked out, and she needed to tell him about Poomo, she decided to help him along.

    This... well, it didn't end well for Sei, who was dragged by his arm past the gate, up the stairs, and into Gori-sensei's classroom. This resulted in him having bruised up and cut up legs, as well as a dislocated shoulder. AND they were still late.

    "Nonohara, if you're late one more time, I'm going to have to talk with your parents. Now grab the water buckets and go stand in the hall. Arisaka, why are you here?"

    "I'm going to be in Kazetachi for at least the next month. Er, can I go to the nurse's office?"

    "Why?"

    "Hime-chan dragged me all the way up here from outside the gate. I guess she didn't want me to be late."

    "From the look of it, you made her do all the work. Nonohara, you're excused from holding the buckets. Arisaka, go to the nurse, and then the Principal. Everyone else, calm down."

    Himeko grinned, and took her seat. She looked around, and saw that Daichi wasn't there. She flicked a piece of her eraser at Tetsu. "Where's Daichi" she whispered.

    Tetsu shrugged and said "Dunno." A few rows up, Hibino Hikaru turned around and said "We thought he was with you, but you came in dragging Arisaka. I thought you were going to focus on Daichi." she finished slyly.

    "I was. I mean, I am! Anyway, I was hoping if he and I and Arisaka could meet up somewhere to discuss things."

    "Like...?"

    "Well, Arisaka's house was torn down after he moved away, so he's going to need somewhere to stay." And someone to keep a leash on him, she added mentally.



  • –----
    PART 3 - Ladies Mysterious

    Meanwhile, somewhere else, someone had a headache. It wasn't a bad headache, but it did mean that the future had changed drastically.

    She stood up and hit a pool of water with a staff, then looked in it. What she saw must have amused her, because she smiled at it. She then hit the water again, and paid attention to the ripples.

    Except for a small blip close to where she struck the pool, the ripples behaved normally. She took note of where the blip was, and then consulted a map of the nearby city.

    Whatever the disturbance was, it had interfered with the true future, and had to be removed.


    Himeko, Sei, and Daichi were at the abandoned old house. Himeko had brought Poomo with her. She also had the ribbon, which was now fixed.

    Sei frowned. "Hime-chan, are you certain that the ribbon's magic is still... not whole?"

    Himeko nodded. "Last time the ribbon was torn, I got impatient and ended up as Daichi the whole day. That's why Erika sent the watch and palette. The duplication magic is tied to the same magic that makes Pokota talk, which is also tied to the part of the spell that lets me return to normal. If I can't duplicate, it's not safe to use the ribbon."

    Poomo, while this was being explained, had been trying to return to Sunny Kingdom by his own power. It didn't work, and he decided it was because he was cut off from Fine and Rein.

    Himeko stood up. She tried to put on the ribbon, and then dug into her pocket and pulled out the Magic Palette. "I'm going to try it again." she announced. Daichi got up and fixed the ribbon on properly. Sei couldn't stand the thought of having lost to Daichi, so he looked out the window for the time being. He didn't look back until he heard the incantation.

    "Tinka, Tinku, Tinkara, Tinkuru! Futari ni nare!"

    There was a brief, soft glow, and a copy of Himeko faded into existence for the first time in about a year. Poomo, not being used to the magic of the Magic Kingdom, looked on in wonder, and then asked "So-poomo, this means that the ribbon is fixed-poomo?"

    Hime-copy answered him "It most certainly does, Mister Poomo. Miss Himeko, are you sure this was a good idea?"

    Everyone blinked at her. "Whaddya mean, 'was this a good idea?'" asked Himeko.

    Hime-copy sighed. Part of having half of Himeko's personality also meant that she was only half as short-sighted. "We don't know where Mister Pokota is."


    "FINE-SAMA! REIN-SAMA!"

    Camelot was dashing down the halls of Sunny Castle, looking for her charges. Lulu, her apprentice (and a talking female Felinoid, which is a kind of cat-person that's more cat than person) was following closely, taking notes, and also calling for Fine and Rein... who then ran into them from behind.

    After a frenzied explanation, Camelot frowned. "I thought Poomo was your attendant. Why's he off wherever only he knows?"

    Fine, who was holding Pokota, shrugged and said "He is our attendant. His box is gone too. All we found was this stuffed cat."

    "I am NOT a CAT! I am a LION!" shouted Fine's hand. The normally in-control Pokota lost control at being called a cat, and in this case, he even forgot that he wasn't anyplace he was familiar with. Of course, once it was said, it couldn't be unsaid. Fine, who was very afraid of ghosts, dropped him like a hot potato and started to babble incoherently. Pokota tried to run off, but Lulu caught him before he could go anywhere.

    Rein took this chance to ask "So, who are you and where is Poomo?"

    Pokota was about to answer, when he felt his body grow stiff and numb. Of all the times for Himeko to have taken off the ribbon...


    "Hime-copy's got a point, Nonohara. If we don't know where Pokota is, you probably shouldn't wear the ribbon."

    Poomo blinked at Daichi. "Why not-poomo? Pokota's probably with Fine-sama and Rein-sama-poomo."

    Himeko sighed. "And what if he isn't? If Hibino-san has him, or if someone notices a talking moving stuffed lion, Erika would probably erase everyone's memories because of it. I don't want to forget Pokota after all this time." She picked up the Palette and opened it back up. "Sinka, Sinku, Sinkara, Sinkuru! Two become One!" Hime-copy smiled, and then faded out of existance for the time being. Himeko turned to Daichi.

    "Right, before I forget, where were you this morning?"

    "I was just getting back from Juuban."

    "The place with all the monster attacks?" She took off the ribbon.

    "The only monsters I saw were a pair of talking cats with moons on their foreheads. I left them alone, they're probably from the Magic Kingdom."

    Kantarou chose this moment to appear. In the middle of the room. "Sei-sama! Himeko-sama! Daichi-sama!"

    Daichi wasn't amused. "Kantarou!? Why so formal?"

    Kantarou ignored this. "The King told me to tell you to leave the Ribbon on! Kamilu and Robelia think they can use the connection between Pokota and the Ribbon to find him!"

    Poomo floated away from Kantarou. "Is Pokota nearby-poomo?"

    Kantarou shook his head. "He's not on Earth, we know that much. Well, that's my message. See ya!"

    He faded away. Himeko put the ribbon back on. Poomo looked confused. "Does this sort of thing happen often-poomo?"

    Daichi laughed. "Only when Nonohara's involved."


    Rein and Fine decided to take the stuffed lion with them to the Jewel Kingdom. Not because they were afraid that he would cause problems, but because Rein wanted to see it talk again. Not that Pokota was going to talk or move or anything like that. Even though there was no way to make the girls, that old lady, and the talking-cat-that-wasn't-Pink-chan forget what he had said and tried to do, he figured that, as long as they thought he was just a stuffed lion, he would be alright.

    He had never seen Fine and Rein try to fly their Baloon. For the most part, the twins did a decent job of keeping from crashing, mainly because Poomo wasn't the one steering. Every once in a while, Rein would poke Pokota and ask him where Poomo was.

    Eventually, Fine started to chat with Rein about cake and dancing and stuff like that. The two of them became so excited about some sort of party that they forgot to fly the baloon. Pokota felt the magic come back to him, but decided to stay like a doll.

    "...blah blah eat lots of food blah blah..."

    "...blah blah dance with Prince Bright blah blah..."

    Pokota became nervous. "Umm, who's flying this thing?"

    As soon as the words were out of his mouth, they started to plummet. Fine grabbed the controls and steadied the baloon, and Rein started poking Pokota again. "I know you talked just now, so talk some more!"

    "..."

    "Please?"

    "..."


    She looked at her map again. Although the pool said that the disturbance was close-by, the place that it had indicated was not on her map. It also didn't seem to have an effect on the future she was interested in.

    This is what troubled her. It was a major disturbance that did... nothing to threaten what she had worked so hard to build. She decided to call some friends of hers, to see if they had noticed anything different.

    Sooner or later, she told herself, she was going to have to intervene. Especially if this headache continued.



  • –----
    PART 4 - A Long Night For Almost Everybody

    Pokota was even more lost than the time Hibino had taken him skiing with her, but at least he could have told you what planet he was on then. He was able to see out the window from where he was, and he could see a mountain coming closer and closer. Just beyond it looked like a castle made of jewels and gemstones.

    Rein poked him again. "You don't talk much, do you?" She was absorbed by the poking of Pokota.

    Fine was too busy trying to make the balloon go up to talk. Poomo had a knack for flying the balloon, and usually made sure that they got where they were going without crashing.

    So, because Fine was busy trying to make the balloon go up, and because Rein was watching him instead of the approaching mountain, Pokota had to actually say "Mountain!" to have them realize what was coming.

    Unfortunately, by the time he had said it, Rein only had enough time to grab him before they crashed. Fine struggled to make the balloon go up, down, back, anywhere that wasn't forwards or down. She ended up making it go forwards and down.

    They all landed on the mountain side. Pokota landed underneath Rein, who was then squished by Fine (who had held onto the controls long enough to tell it to go up and away).

    "Ow ow ow! You're heavy!" ached Pokota, before remembering he was pretending to be a doll. Fine immediately panicked and started failing to run away screaming "AAAAGH! GHOST!", mostly because Rein had already grabbed Fine by the leg.

    Pokota took this chance to try to escape, but Rein's other hand managed to grab him around the belly before he could get away. "I'm not going to let either of you get lost. Not when Jewel Castle is on the other side of this mountain."

    Fine stopped trying to run away, and looked up. "Aaaaah!"

    Rein sighed. "What, a ghost?"

    "No, the balloon floated away!"

    Rein looked up too, and then also went "Aaaaah!"

    She dropped Pokota, and started to do a strange dance with her sister, saying "I hate hate hate this. I hate hate hate this..."

    When they were done, Fine decided to carry Pokota. By the tail. He knew it would only be a matter of time before he "gave up on the silent treatment," as Rein had put it.

    It was a long night, but they made it to Jewel Castle without further trouble.


    The mysterious woman (whose name has not yet been mentioned) was placing calls.

    Her headaches didn't usually last this long unless the future had been changed too much. But, every time she looked, it was the same as it should have been. Except for the blip that she couldn't locate.

    "Hello, Mizuno residence."

    "Ah, hello Dr. Mizuno. I'm a friend of Ami's. Is she home?"

    "She isn't home right now. Would you like to leave a message?"

    "Yes, tell her that her friends are meeting up at the shrine tomorrow afternoon. And tell her to tell her friends."

    "Alright. Uh, will I be telling her which friend called her?"

    "She'll find out tomorrow; I have a splitting headache."

    "Have you tried taking Ibuprofen?"

    "Yes, but it's too soon for it to kick in. Good night, Dr. Mizuno."

    She looked into the future again. No change. Her head pulsed with pain.

    Setsuna Meioh knew it was going to be a long night.


    There was another explosion. Kamilu emerged out of a smoking laboratory with a blue face. Behind him emerged Robelia with a green face, and a strong-looking black haired boy with an orange face. They all coughed, and then laughed at each other's faces.

    Kamilu sighed. "How much longer do you think it will take to find Pokota, Kanro?"

    Kanro stopped laughing. His face was serious. "I'm thinkin' it'll take us until at least T'morrow t' find Pokota. Longer'n that if we keep blowin' ourselves up."

    The odd trio sighed, and then went back into the laboratory.

    Meanwhile, in the palace, there was another explosion. Ren, butler to the Princess, emerged from a smoking laboratory with a gray face. He was struggling to keep from smiling. He wiped off his face, and then knocked on the door.

    "Erika-sama, I think we have another headache to deal with."

    Erika emerged from the door with a purple face. Behind her was an explosion. "What?"

    "Do you remember where Kobayashi Daichi said he was this morning?"

    "No, actually, Himeko never told me where he was this morning..."

    "Well then, let me suggest that you tell Himeko-sama and Daichi-san to keep a lookout for the cats he saw when he was in Juuban."



  • –----
    Part 5 - The Secret is Out!

    The sun rose bright and early the next morning. At a shinto shrine just outside of Juuban, a young, raven-haired priestess was preparing for the day.

    The previous night, she had been called by a close friend of hers. When she had been told that there was to be a meeting at her shrine the next morning, and that nothing she could do would change it, she decided that the friend who had called her would get a solid whack on the head from her broom if she was even one second late.

    Said friend was still asleep, even though her alarm clock had been beeping for the past hour. In her hand was clutched a picture of a man in a tuxedo, herself in a nice-looking, but not overly formal dress, and a short, pink-haired girl in a similar dress. On the picture was written "my future husband and daughter."

    There was a banging at the door. A boy's voice was yelled into the room. "Stupid Usagi! Everyone in the neighborhood is awake now because of your stupid alarm clock!"

    Usagi mumbled something and threw what she thought was her pillow at the door. The 'pillow' hit the door with a surprised yelp and a loud scratching. Shingo laughed. "Stupid Usagi, throwing your cat at the door."

    The word 'cat' wandered across Usagi's mind, looking for something to connect to. There was another bang at the door. Luna, feline advisor to Sailor Moon, decided to try an attack from the rear.


    Aiko blinked. She blinked again.

    She had opened up her closet, expecting to find clothing hanging in it. Instead, out fell her sister's boyfriend, a girl she didn't know, and a boy she didn't know but thought she could recognize. All of them were dressed in outlandish clothes. They all fell on a pile in front of her closet door.

    "Daichi" got up and looked around. "Kanro, are you sure that this is the store-room?"

    Kanro looked up. This was a mistake. Aiko kicked him in the nose, then ran out of the room.

    "I don't think we're in Magic Kingdom anymore, Kamilu." said Robelia simply. He helped her up, and they both watched the dazed Kanro struggle to find his face.

    Out in the hall, Aiko ran into Himeko. "What's wrong, sis?" she asked.

    Aiko was on the verge of uncharacteristic rage. "D-D-D-Daichi... closet... perverts..."

    Himeko moved to punch the wall. "That Daichi! He was peeking at... wait." She stopped. "What? Daichi just got off the phone with me, telling me classes were cancelled for today."

    Himeko ran past Aiko, stopped, ran back into her own room, then dashed past Aiko again with a strange looking makeup compact. She ran into Aiko's room and slammed the door. Aiko frowned. She had never seen Himeko wear makeup offstage...

    Aiko leaned against the door to her room. This was strange. Almost first-date-with-Hasekura-strange.

    What she heard was even stranger.


    Ren plugged his ears. Like so many times during that year last year, Erika was yelling at Himeko in vain. Himeko couldn't hear her through the crystal ball, and Erika knew that. It was sort of like watching a horror film and knowing that whoever opens the door is going to be blasted by Zod - you couldn't stop yourself from saying "DON'T OPEN IT!"

    Erika turned around and summoned up her great-grandfather's magic talking broom, Chappy. "Ren, I'm going to go wipe Aiko's memory."

    Ren snapped his fingers, and Chappy appeared in his hand. "I'm afraid that I cannot allow you to leave the Magic Kingdom until the reason that Kamilu and company ended up in Aiko's closet is discovered, Erika-sama."

    Erika just stared at him. "Is this restriction on everyone, or just me?"

    The king of the Magic Kingdom appeared behind her. "It is on everyone, Erika. Please inform Himeko that the council has, in light of recent events, decided that Aiko is allowed to know about the Magic Kingdom - but only Aiko."

    Erika couldn't believe her ears. "What? Why? This isn't like you! You've always taught me that rulers are rulers only so long as they uphold and obey the law!"

    Her father smiled weakly. "Erika, the council decided this because of what happened to Pokota, and because of... other problems."

    Erika wasn't satisfied with this. "Why Aiko? Why not Hibino?"

    "There is a precedent for allowing family members to know." The king explained, blushing a little.  "There is not, however, a precedent for allowing people dedicated to exposing the secret to know. In light of recent events, the council thought it would be wise to permit Aiko to know."

    "Then why not Yumeko? She's come closer to learning the secret than even Hibino!"

    The king turned around. "I promised that I wouldn't say anything about Hasekura." he said, hoping that this would be enough to get Erika to start investigating. Before Erika could respond, he had already left.


    Himeko slammed the door behind her. She grinned impishly and grabbed the nearest book (a thick German book, not that it matters to the story), not knowing that Aiko was now leaning against the door. "Kamilu. Thought so. Hello, Robelia."

    Robelia made a short curtsey toward her. Kamilu followed it with a stiff bow. Kanro was still trying to re-assemble his nose, which was still bleeding.

    "I take it you were the unlucky sap to look up my sister's clothes?" She moved towards Kanro, ready to strike. "Looks like Aiko already punished you. Er, who are you, any way?"

    "Name's Kanro."

    Himeko looked at Robelia. "Have I met him?" She shook her head. Himeko sighed, gave Kanro a sharp thwack with the book, then put the it back where she found it. "Any luck finding Pokota?"

    Kamilu tried to look Himeko in the eye. "We know he's not on Earth, and we would have heard from him by now if he was in the Magic Kingdom. Kanro figures we'll know by tomorrow evening where he is, as long as you keep the ribbon on. Hopefully, it'll be somewhere where his talking and moving won't lead to too many questions."

    Aiko chose this moment to come in. She blinked. She blinked again. They were still there, and still conscious. In fact, Himeko had a worried face like the others did.

    Before Kamilu or Robelia could stop her, the compact and words were out. "Verse, Riole! Time, backwards go!" She sprayed pink makeup dust around her, and pointed at the ceiling.

    All this did was make a pink mess of things. Aiko stared at her. Kamilu and Robelia buried their foreheads in their hands. Kanro pulled a tissue out of nowhere.

    Aiko blinked again, and said "Himeko, what are you doing? Why haven't you hurt these people yet?"


    Pokota couldn't take it any more. He didn't mind Prince Bright. In fact, when he had rescued him from Fine and Rein, he decided that he liked Bright. That was before he knew that Bright approached being a prince the same way Himeko approached eating food. He also had a sneaking suspicion that Bright knew that he wasn't just a stuffed toy, even though Fine and Rein hadn't had a chance to say anything about it. Mainly, this was because every person that Bright had met between rescuing him from Fine and Rein and leaving for a meeting had been introduced to him, and he to them as "a stuffed lion that Fine and Rein brought with them". Pokota figured that either Bright was going insane, or that he wanted everyone to think he was insane. If it was the latter, it was working.

    Pokota had found a small air-vent that had been left open. He entered it, and started to wander. He knew it wouldn't be long before his disappearance was discovered... he was stuck in the opening! And there was someone coming in!

    "Help! I'm stuck!" he called out. Someone grabbed him roughly and started pulling.

    "Don't worry, I'll get you out, just as soon as I get this cat out of the way." It was a girl's voice.

    "I am not a cat, I'm a lion!"

    "Whatever, I'll get you out as soon as I get this lion out of the way!"


    Fine, Rein, Bright, and a blue-purple haired boy were sitting around the table. Their topic of discussion: Pokota.

    Bright looked at the other boy. "Prince Shade, are you sure that the lion is one of the messengers in the warning?"

    Shade did not look at him, but just stared ahead blankly. "It seems that this is the case. In any event, Poomo is missing, and the lion was found in his place." He then looked up and recited something that sounded like it had been memorized. "'When the messenger of the sun, the messengers of the moon, and the messenger of the stars come together, their princesses will destroy the barrier that kept them apart. Then Death Herself will awaken to rebuild it.' That's what Old Woman Erica said to me last week."

    Fine and Rein looked at Shade. Fine asked "So, is this why you wanted us to come here? Because of that old woman's words?"

    Shade didn't have time to nod, because a golden-haired girl came barging into the room, holding Pokota.

    "Altezza!" yelped a surprised Rein. "Is there something we can help you with?"

    Altezza ignored this, and shoved a struggling Pokota in Shade's face. "Here you go, he's your problem now. Stupid cat!"

    "I'm NOT a CAT, I'm a LION!" shouted Pokota, "and you almost pulled my tail off!"

    "It didn't mean you had to try and tear my hand apart! And after I got you unstuck, too!" snapped Altezza.


    Himeko smiled a little. "Wherever Pokota is, I think he just blew the secret."

    For the second time in as many moments, Kamilu and Robelia both buried their heads in their hands. Kanro, under the stern gaze of Aiko, reached for another tissue. They were in Himeko's room now, mainly so that Kamilu and company could make a quick getaway if it became necessary.

    Aiko still couldn't believe it. There was no way that her sister was a witch, even though it explained so much. "So, Pokota can talk?"

    Himeko nodded.

    "And you can do magic?"

    Himeko nodded again.

    "And Daichi already knows this?"

    Himeko nodded a third time. Her magic journal started to shake.

    "Why is the book doing that?"

    Himeko sighed. "Erika, the friend of mine who gave me the ribbon, also gave me that book so that we could stay in contact. She's probably on her way to wipe our memories now."

    Once again, Aiko blinked. "Why?"

    Kanro pointed his finger at Aiko. "Because you weren't sp'osed to find out. Heck, th' only reason Daichi still knows is b'cause th' council made an exception for 'im. C'n I wipe 'er memory now?"

    Himeko was not responding.

    Kanro poked her. "Oy! Am I modifyin' memories or not?" He glanced down at the book, and read what it said out loud.

    'Himeko, the council has decided that Aiko - and only Aiko - may be added to the list of humans allowed to know about us. Something has happened to Hasekura, and I don't know what it is yet.'

    Aiko repeated the last few words. " '...something has happened to Hasekura, and I don't know what it is yet.' "

    Poomo decided that now would be a good time to not be remembered.



  • –----
    Part 6 - Damage Control

    Everyone was there... except for Setsuna.

    Haruka frowned. "It's not like her to call a meeting and then be late for it." She turned to Ami. "You're sure she said 'first thing in the morning'?"

    Ami, who was studying a map of the Kanto area, didn't answer. Every so often, she would pull out the Mercury Computer and check something.

    Rei tossed another Rice Ball at Usagi's head. "This is the sort of thing I'd expect from Food-for-Brains, not from the Time Door Keeper."

    As Usagi spun around and started bickering with Rei, Makoto and Hotaru busied themselves with arranging white roses that Mamoru had brought with him. Every so often, Minako would take a handful of them and, under Mamoru's watchful eye, would try to do her Tuxedo Kamen imitation... with mixed results.

    Michiru had recently come to own a flute, which she was determined to master, having learned of a seventies progressive rock band that had used the flute in their music to much success. At best, she had been able to make a grating high note, but was otherwise unsuccessful. (Fun Fact: Ami knows how to play the flute, and had Michiru been able to swallow her pride and ask the other Water-themed Senshi for help, would have learned to hold it properly.)

    Haruka sighed at the state of affairs. Even though Usagi was technically the leader of the Senshi on Earth, ever since Galaxia's defeat, it was Haruka who was organizing things more often than not. Granted, she did this so that "the Inners", as they were sometimes called by others, didn't have to get involved. It didn't help that Usagi had named her 'Second in Command' after that little disaster in Nerima.

    That was when she heard it. Rather, she felt the wind shift, and with it was Pluto's scent, mixed with the scents of rage and... fear?

    "Michiru, the wind's changed." She turned to her companion, who apparently hadn't heard her. "I said, 'the wind's changed'." This seemed to wake Michiru from her trance, as she set down the flute and pulled out her talisman, the Deep Aqua Mirror.

    Her response was hard to understand. "The sea is calm, the threat isn't one."

    Haruka pointed at the rapidly approaching clouds of dust. "Tell that to Pluto."

    Everyone stopped what they were doing and looked down the stairs of Hikawa Shrine, and saw something that made every one of them wish they had stayed in bed that morning.

    Setsuna was running full speed up the stairs. Behind her were three people: Osaka Naru, Usagi's first, and closest friend, followed by Gurio Umino (Naru's boyfriend and the school gossip-monger) and a boy who looked somewhat like a cross between Jadite and that Tsuyoshi guy from SMAP. Naru was trying to catch up with Setsuna, and was holding something that looked suspiciously like the Pluto Planet Pen in her hand.

    Before anyone could get out of the way, Setsuna and her pursuers had ploughed into Haruka and company. After the dust settled, Naru was trying to pull Usagi's hair from her scalp, Setsuna had retrieved her pen, and Umino was dragging an unconscious unidentified boy from the collision site.

    "OWOWOW! Naru-chan stoppit~!" cried Usagi. "What's gotten into you?"

    "Why didn’t you tell me?" screamed Naru. "All these years... could’ve been killed... thought I was..." she fell to her knees, crying. "thought I was going nuts..."

    Umino handed the boy over to Ami, who had pulled a first aid kit from out of nowhere. "She just found out that Usagi was Sailor Moon." He ran over to Naru and did his best to keep her from killing Usagi. "She wouldn’t have found out if he -" he pointed at the boy, who now had a cold compress on his head and a stethoscope to his chest " -hadn’t fell on her - " he pointed to Setsuna " - and made her drop her pen."

    Everyone glared at Setsuna, who suddenly wished that she could rewind time. Hoshi, a trickster fox-spirit that was watching the boy, wished he could help.


    Aiko looked at Himeko. Tears were streaming down her face, but she could still see her sister as she scribbled something in the magic journal. Kamilu, along with Poomo, was escorting Robelia and Kanro to the Old House where Sei was staying. It had been Himeko’s idea to send the four of them there, although it was mainly to keep Kanro or Kamilu from doing something insensitive to Aiko.

    The mirror on Himeko’s closet door shimmered, and the image of Erika appeared. "Hello, Himeko. Hello, Aiko." Aiko hiccupped a little, then turned to face the mirror. In it stood Himeko... no, it wasn’t Himeko, the hair was too long, and she wasn’t wearing a ribbon.

    "A - are you... Erika?" she asked.

    "I am."

    Aiko dashed over to the mirror, knocking random things over. "What’s happened to Hasekura?" she demanded.

    Erika took a quick glance at Himeko before answering. "We’re not sure why it’s happened just yet, but he’s safe. However, he - along with Masshi - have lost their memories."

    Aiko didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at this, so she settled on another hiccup as she sat down on the nearest thing. Himeko turned to the mirror. "When a person’s memory is erased, what happens to their heart?"

    "No magic can change one’s heart." Erika answered. "If I were to erase your memories, you would still love Daichi; but you wouldn’t know why you did. Such is Hasekura’s situation."

    Aiko smiled at this. "So, he still loves me?"

    Erika nodded. "He just doesn’t know you. Oh, Himeko, we’ve found where Pokota is." Her voice was sad. "We can’t reach him yet, though."

    Himeko was in the middle of her cheering-up ritual of Ike Ike Go Go, when she heard the second part of Erika’s news. "Where is he?"

    "He’s on the Mysterious Star" was Erika’s response. Aiko blinked. Where had she heard that before?

    "That’s where Poomo says he’s from. Okay, so now at least we know where he is. What about Hasekura-sempai? Where is he?"

    Erika looked from Himeko to Aiko. She was forgetting something, but since she had forgotten it, it couldn’t be important. "He’s in Juuban, with Masshi. Hoshi’s watching over the two of them."

    "Who is Masshi?" asked Aiko.

    Himeko looked at her sister, but her hand clenched into a fist. "He’s a trouble making spirit, sorta like a fox, and he can stop time for a bit." She looked at Erika. "Did those troublemakers do this to Hasekura-sempai?"

    Erika had to keep herself from giggling. "While it does seem like the sort of mistake Hoshi would make, it was Masshi whose memory was messed with. I don’t think they had any more to do with this mess than those cats Daichi saw."

    Aiko’s watch started beeping. It was quarter of eight. Time to get ready for class.

    She was not looking forward to it.


    Prince Bright was the one to diffuse the situation. Before anyone could stop him, he had grabbed Pokota by the tail and bopped him on the head. "Enough, you two. Altezza, this lion is to be treated as though he were an ambassador from another kingdom. Lion, you are to behave as such." He released Pokota. "Whether you are or not."

    Altezza and Pokota glared at each other, then looked at Bright expectantly. There was an awkward silence for the space of a few seconds, the Shade stood up.

    "Well, since it looks like pretty-boy there is going to do anything else, I’ll try to get this meeting going again." He bowed to Pokota. "I’m Prince Shade, of the Moon Kingdom."

    The other prince, as well as the princesses, followed suit, with Rein and Fine going at the same time. Finally, Pokota stood up, cleared his throat, and began.

    "I am Pokota, friend of and assistant to Himeko, who is the close friend of and exact duplicate in appearance to Princess Erika of the Magic Kingdom."

    Everyone looked around, asking the same question: "Magic Kingdom?" Pokota sighed, and started to explain about Erika, the Magic Kingdom, and Himeko.

    The only person truly interested was Shade. Bright and Altezza were interested at first, but when they found that Pokota was not a member of the court of the Magic Kingdom, they did not pay full attention - although they did pretend to listen. Fine and Rein, on the other hand, were all ready to go back to the feasting and dancing, now that they knew that Pokota knew nothing about Poomo (and knew for a fact that he could move and talk).

    Pokota’s stomach growled. He wanted to eat, too.



  • –----
    PART 7 - Cold Fury

    It had been a week since Aiko had found out about the Ribbon and all the other fun things Himeko could do.

    Any normal student of Himeko's age would only really need to be worried about getting into the high school of their choice. Himeko also had to deal with her boyfriend, her ex-boyfriend, the three troublemaking friends of her ex, and a bizzare fairy thing she had come to own (for lack of a better word).

    So, when Arisaka Sei invited her to his "sixteenth" birthday party on March 15, she jumped at the opportunity to relax and goof off and not study her brains out for a night. On the condition that all the others in Kazetachi that knew about the ribbon's power were invited.


    Of course, the Sailor Senshi weren't sitting on their hands for a week. With the information on his ID card, Ami had pinpointed exactly where he needed to go in order to go home, and how to get there, within an hour of Naru no longer trying to murder Usagi. Since Ami had also determined that whatever Setsuna was sensing was also in Kazetachi, Hasekura Kouichi returned to his home town under the protection of sailors Mercury, Pluto, and Tin Nyanko (the last one coming along because she was bored and her home planet had been orbiting a dead star when Galaxia had found her.)

    Setsuna, for her part, came along because she needed to know what sort of future-altering power could be both dangerous and unable to affect Crystal Tokyo at the same time. And because she had a sneaking suspicion that her headache would not go away unless she came to Kazetachi, not that she was going to say anything to the others.

    Since it would look more than a little suspicious if three Sailor Senshi were walking around Kazetachi, they were using the usual trick of bounding from rooftop to rooftop. Thank goodness nobody ever thinks to look up, thought Setsuna.

    "Hoy, Mercury, what exactly are we looking for?" asked Tin Nyanko. They were on the rooftop of an apartment complex. There was a small park across the street, and there was also a house that looked like nobody had taken care of the premesis. At least, those were what was easily noticed from their position.

    Mercury just kept sweeping the area with her computer and goggles. "I'm running a generic search for magic energies. So far, I've got a handful of readings all converged in that house over there."


    Aiko was... underwhelmed... at the magic users that were gathered together at the party. Probably the most powerful one was Himeko, and she wasn't even born as one.

    For the past week, she had been pretending that she didn't notice when Himeko went and disappeared, or when there seemed to be two Himekos, or that Himeko hadn't told her anything. It didn't help that Robelia's cover was that she was visiting Aiko's school to see how she liked it.

    Robelia managed to invite Aiko to Sei's party. Since Himeko was going, and Aiko liked Robelia, she figured it would be a good opportunity to ask anyone who wasn't Himeko about what was going on.

    Of course, once she, Himeko, and Daichi got to the house where the party was going to be at, it became obvious that Sei hadn't been told that Aiko knew and was allowed to know. So, the first half hour of the party was wasted in bringing Aiko and Sei up to speed, answering questions and whatnot.

    Once everyone met everyone for the first, second, or in one case, third time, Himeko turned to Aiko and said "You want to see him, don't you?"

    Aiko couldn't help but blink. "You mean Kouichi-kun?"

    "I sure don't mean Gori-sensei or that kidnapper." said Himeko with a grin.

    "Which kidnapper?" Asked Daichi "The one that took Shintaro, Yumeko, or our actress friend?"

    "I was thinking that Yakuza guy that took our actress friend, but now that you mention it, I don't know what would happen if I'm not specific enough with the incantation."

    Kanro looked outside. He thought he saw people standing on top of the apartment complex across the way, but then he dismissed it as seeing things. Poomo asked "What if you don't know what the person looked like-poomo?"

    Himeko shrugged. "Not work, I guess. I never ran into that sorta problem."

    "Well then-poomo, why not try transforming into the 'Princess of the Moon Kingdom'-poomo?"

    Himeko just nodded. It's not like she had anything better to do with her magic with Pokota elsewhere. "Sorry, Oneechan, Hasekura-niichan's face has to wait for the sake of knowledge. Paralelu, Paralelu..."


    "What kind of readings are they, Mercury?" asked Pluto.

    The senshi were in the yard out front of the "abandoned" house. Hasekura was hiding in the bushes near where there was a gap in the fence. Ami was still scanning the house.

    "There are three different auras coming from the house. One of them is a youma-like aura, fairly weak. It doesn't seem to be feeding. Then there are four beings in there with an aura that's completely foreign. The third aura is like Pluto's aura, only with a sort of outer shell of aura similar to the other one. The Pluto-like one is the strongest aura. Also, there are two normal humans in there."

    Tin Nyanko sniffed the air. "There's something familiar about the magic here. It's sorta like the magic from my home planet, only less depressing. I don't smell any fear, though, so maybe the Youma is still disguised...?"

    "Wait!" said Mercury suddenly. "The big aura's got another layer now. It's..." A flash of fury entered Ami's eyes. "Unforgiveable! It's Usagi's aura! How dare they make a mockery of our princess!"

    Pluto gulped. She had never seen Mercury like this before. Mercury was frightening when she was angry.

    And Ami was angry!


    "That-poomo, is not Princess Milky-poomo"

    Himeko had transformed into a tall-ish blonde girl with long hair done up in twin pigtails and odango. She was wearing a pair of khaki shorts and a pink button-up shirt. On her chest was both the Ribbon-pendant and a gold heart-shaped locket.

    "This feels really wierd," said Himeko "but at least now we know just how unspecific I can be with the transformation." She prepared to de-transform.

    Robelia shrugged. "If Erika had been here, we would have just been able to-"

    CRASH! The door came crashing in. The room filled with a cold fog. Through the fog came an enraged voice.

    "Defiling the image of our Princess and corrupting her magic! For that, I will punish you in the name of Mercury!"

    Himeko-as-Usagi tried not to panic. Keep the voice busy, buy time for the others to escape. "What are you talking about?"

    Aiko could practically hear Himeko's plan. She gathered the others and shepherded them towards the nearest exit. Sailors Tin Nyanko and Pluto, assuming that they were captives of the person Ami was fighting, helped lead them out.

    Ami was losing her patience. Not only the face and aura, but the voice as well! "You transformed into our princess and precious friend! How dare you pretend to be innocent! Shabon Spray Freezing!"

    Himeko was on the verge of de-transforming. "Lulerapa, Lulerapa, Moto no sugata ni-"

    Too late. Rather than risk some sort of attack, or worse a disjunction effect, Ami froze Himeko in place. Assuming it would be safe, she decided to see how Pluto and Tin Nyanko were doing with the former "captives". Hopefully, they weren't trying to get autographs or anything.

    Outside, Aiko and Daichi were trying to get back inside. Tin Nyanko was keeping Aiko busy, and Pluto had Daichi in some sort of western wrestling hold. Ami was a little confused. The humans were trying to get back inside, and the magic users and youma were behaving? "Is everybody okay?"

    Aiko stopped arguing with Tin Nyanko. "Where's my sister?" she demanded.

    Ami blinked. "Who?"

    Daichi broke free of Setsuna's hold. "The girl you accused of defiling an image! Her sister! My-" Everyone looked at Daichi expectantly. He gulped. "My dearest friend!" Everyone that knew about Daichi and Himeko's relationship just fell on their faces. What a dense kid!

    Inside, Himeko had thawed out enough to move. Quietly, she de-transformed. If that blue-haired girl can freeze us like that, we probably shouldn't make her angry. She went out into the garden just in time to hear Daichi fail to save face. "You're such an idiot, Daichi. I guess that's what I like about'cha, though." She turned to Sailor Mercury. "I'm sorry about... whatever it was I did to make you so mad. What did I do, anyway?"

    Pluto looked at Mercury. "She's got a point. What was so wrong about it? It's not like she'd be able to use her powers just by transforming into her."

    Mercury fell to her knees. "I... I don't know... why am I so worn out? And why aren't you angry at me, Ribbon-girl?"

    Tin Nyanko shrugged. "You've been Sailor Mercury all day, maybe you're worn out?"

    It was Daichi's turn to blink. "Wait, Sailor Mercury of the Sailor Senshi? I thought you all worked out of the Juuban district. Why are you here in Kazetachi?"

    Mercury sighed. "We're looking for Aiko Nonohara; we think her boyfriend fell on Pluto last week. Hasekura-san, you can come out now, my psychotic rampage is over. Erm, can we go inside?"

    Aiko and Himeko just fainted. Too many coincidences, too little time. Daichi sighed. "Come on in, just let us explain stuff before we have to wake up the Nonohara sisters."



  • –----
    PART 8 - The Plot Inches Forwards

    It was night in Sunny Kingdom. But for Pokota, there would be no rest tonight. The more he'd heard of the Fortune Teller Erika, the more excited he got. No small part of him imagined that, just as Hime-chan was Erika's duplicate on Earth, so too was Erika Erika's duplicate, and he strongly suspected that this Erika would be his key to getting home. As the night wore on, his thoughts wandered to Hime-chan, and how she was doing. For a brief moment, he envied her connection to Daichi. They at least could see each other whenever they wanted. Pokota could only see his love, Pink-chan, when Himeko was invited to the Magic Kingdom.

    When he finally did fall asleep, it was to dreams of being with Pink-chan. Fine and Rein didn't bother to wake him, they just quietly stuck him in the depths of Fine's hat and left Jewel Castle for Aurora Town, home of a certain shrew-woman. Of course, before they had left, they had sent messages to the other kingdoms - they had originally planned for all the princesses to meet up at Aurora Town in the late afternoon for a festival, but that was before they had the whole Missing Poomo problem to deal with. So, instead of meeting up at the town itself, they were meeting up at the Castle of the Moon Kingdom in the morning, would meet with Fortune teller Erika, and from there would head to the Aurora Town Festival.


    Himeko opened her eyes. She could smell the dust of the abandoned house, and recognized the relative softness of the couch in the map room. The first voice she could recognize was one similar to her own and Erika's. "...really, though, if I'd known that Mercury would go berserk like that, I'd have asked for someone less... volatile."

    Another voice - the voice of the ice-witch that attacked her - sounded a little hurt. "Now hold on, Nyanko-san, how was I supposed to know that Nonohara wasn't going to hurt anyone?"

    A deep, older voice tried to intervene. "Mercury, Nyanko, cool it, my headache's back. I'm sure there's a completely understandable and perfectly innocent reason that a witch would have a monster in her care."

    "I'm not a monster-poomo, I'm a poomo-type fairy-poomo!"

    Mercury's voice again. "Maybe so, but I still find it suspicious that nobody's going to tell us what's going on."

    Himeko decided to answer this time. "It's not their story to tell. Besides, our memories will get erased if too many people find out about our secrets." She sat up and looked from Daichi to Poomo to Aiko to the huddle of Magic Kingdomers off to the side. "Thanks for not telling, but what if they attack again? I don't want any of you to get hurt because of me."

    "You're pretty much my only way home-poomo, I can't abandon you now-poomo."

    "We're sisters, and it's thanks to you that me and Hasekura were able to have such a wonderful time. If I don't stand up for you now, he'll never remember anything."

    "Nonohara, when you died that time, I was devastated. There's no way I'm gonna let you risk your life again if I know I can prevent it."

    Aiko looked at Daichi, then to Himeko, but left the question unasked. Himeko smiled. Kamilu, Robelia, Kanro, and Arisaka were still standing off to the side. Kanro poked Kamilu. "Hey, ain't there somethin' familiar about th' green-haired one?"

    Kamilu nodded. "She looks like Amora from the book in Granny Riley's shop."

    Pluto visibly flinched at the name. "Granny Riley's still got that? I thought she got rid of it."

    Mercury just boggled at her. "Just how old are you, anyway? Or are you supposed to be at the gate of time right now?"

    Arisaka also boggled at Pluto. "How in the worlds do you know about Granny Riley?"

    Pluto sighed. "Remind me to keep my mouth shut at times like that. I swore not to tell anyone about the court of King Johannes Vulcan unless they already knew about it."

    Kanro nodded. "Sei here is one of his grand-daughter's suitors."

    Arisaka tried to bop Kanro weakly. "Was. I was one of the suitors, but I set up that whole scheme to get her father to break it off, remember?"

    While that conversation was going on, the only person that noticed that Himeko, Daichi, Aiko, Hasekura, and Poomo were leaving was Nyanko. For a brief moment, her eyes caught Himeko's, and with a silent nod promised that she wasn't going to say anything. She wasn't sure why, but she felt a special connection with her.

    Not five steps out, they walked into Erika and Chappy, the magical broom. Hugs were had by all. "Erkia, why're you-"

    Before Himeko could finish the question, Erika was already answering her. "Granny Riley told me that I should be here right now, and Papa wanted me to come collect Robelia and them."

    Aiko pulled Hasekura forward a little. "Can you fix his memories?"

    "Right now, no, but I'll ask Papa if he can help with it."

    Daichi pointed at the house. "I think that the other people in there already know about the Kingdom of Magic. Is it safe to tell them about the ribbon?"

    "Maybe, maybe not. I'll find out if it is, and we'll go from there... oh, right, I almost forgot!"

    Himeko looked at Erika with a silly little grin on her face. "Wait, let me guess, answering 'hai' to anyone calling my name ends the spell?"

    Erika giggled. "No, not this time; Ren - Aiko, that's my adviser - said I should tell you to keep an eye open for the cats Daichi saw in Juuban."

    "Some of the Sailor Senshi came from Juuban, they're talking with Arisaka and them right now." said Daichi. "He didn't tell you this last week, did he?"

    "Himeko, Granny Riley said that she may be able to help Poomo get home." Erika was talking a little louder, and acted like Daichi hadn't said anything other than that it was the Sailor Senshi. "Well, as long as Sailor Pluto isn't one of the ones that's in there, this shouldn't take too long."

    Before anyone could warn her that Sailor Pluto was, indeed, inside, Erika and Chappy were inside the house.


    They had arrived at the Pokota hadn't expected that he'd be dealing with a handful of what Himeko would have called "Petting Zoo People", but then again he wasn't exactly on Earth or in the Magic Kingdom. Of course, they were all princesses, but since everyone here where he was seemed to be royalty, this didn't exactly surprise him.

    "I'm Princess Sophie of the Windmill Kingdom." An energetic girl with long, floppy rabbit-ears bowed.

    "I'm Princess Mirlo of the Waterdrop Kingdom." A very soft-spoken girl with short, stiff dog-ears bowed.

    "I'm Princess Lione of the Flame Kingdom." A kind-sounding girl with lion-like ears bowed.

    "Babu ba, babu bai babu ba, babu ba babu babui ba babu bai" Said a very young girl, not much larger than Pokota, that was sitting on a floating star. She pointed to a tall woman wearing a large moon on her head. "Babu ba, babu-bu babu babui bai babu ba bai babu bai babui ba babu ba." They both bowed.

    Pokota frowned. "I'm sorry, what?"

    Fine laughed a little. "She said, 'I'm Princess Milky of the Moon Kingdom, and this is my mother, Moon Malia.'"

    Pokota turned to Fine. "You can understand her?"

    "Me and Prince Shade and Moon Malia can, but I don't think anyone else can. She's almost using the right number of syllables now, though, so it shouldn't be too long before she starts using words that the others can understand. Everyone, this is Pokota, friend of... wait, was it 'friend of Erika, Princess of the Kingdom of Magic'?"

    Pokota sighed. "Close. I'm 'Pokota, friend of Himeko Nonohara, who is the exact duplicate and item-tester for Erika, the Princess of the Kingdom of Magic'. But that's too much of a mouthful to say, so just call me Pokota."

    Everyone nodded, and the new people (except for Moon Malia) started to ask Pokota about the Kingdom of Magic. Moon Malia motioned to Shade. "Is that the one from the prophecy?" She was talking low enough for only Shade to hear.

    "I believe he is, yes. Prince Bright seems to think so too. Fine and Rein were planning on paying Fortune Teller Erica a visit before heading off to the Aurora Town Festival tonight, I'll ask her while we're there."

    "Last time you asked that mouse something, I didn't see you for a month. Are you sure it'll be alright?"

    "Now, now, it's all part of the plan. The more of us there are to 'help', the sooner she'll call the price paid. That's why I suggested that all the Princesses come today."

    "I... interesting. Are you sure you're not a villain, Eclipse?" Joked Moon Malia.


    Somewhere in the gap between dimensions drifted a mass of black crystal. It had been banished from its latest victims, yet its time had not yet been. Somehow, it knew that it was soon to be in the right place.

    Near the crystal, a rift opened in the non-space. A small piece of the crystal broke off and fell through it, to land in a dark forest near the palace where Erika dwelt. With this, the crystal was content.

    Its time would come, its time would come...



  • Pokota wasn't sure what he was expecting Granny Erica to look like. The group of Princesses, following Prince Shade, wouldn't say anything about it. Mostly because they were talking about school. Or rather, they were talking about going to a new school.

    Pokota looked at Shade. "I didn't know they had a school for princesses."

    Shade smiled a little. "The school is one that just opened last year, but because of… problems, we didn't have the resources to send anyone there. Everyone's hoping that the school will help Fine and Rein avoid being called 'The Most Unprincess-like Princesses in the History of the Mysterious Star.'"

    Pokota had to keep himself from laughing. "Do you think I'd be able to get Hime-chan into that school?"

    Before Shade had time to answer, an old rat-woman, dressed in greenish robes and carrying an overly-large monocle, bumped into him. "Ohh, I'm so sor- Oh! Prince Shade! I am honored with-"

    Fine cut her off. "Hello, Granny Erica! Can you help us?"

    Erica pouted a little. "How am I supposed to... nevermind. So where is the cat I'm supposed to send home?"

    Pokota scowled. "I'm not a cat, you overgrown rat, I'm a lion!"

    "Right then, you're the lion Pokota?"

    "Y-yes, I am."

    Erica smiled mysteriously. "Very well. You know, it's a good thing Riley told me about you. I can only see for those born on the Mysterious Star."

    Pokota tripped as he stepped back at that. "So then how-"

    "Because Riley can see for those touched by the Magic Kingdom." Erica sighed. "Everyone, come in and pick a job. We've got a lot of work to do if you're going to be paying in advance."


    Setsuna sighed. "Hello, Princess Erika. Is your father well?"

    Everyone in the old house looked from Erika to Sailor Pluto. Erika buried her face in her hands. "You'd think by now I'd expect the worst possibility just on principle. Hello, Amora-sensei."

    "I'm Setsuna now." Pluto unscrewed the Garnet Orb from the top of the Time Staff. "And don't worry, the talismans have already been activated."

    "That's supposed to make me feel better?" Erika was terrified. "First of all, if you're here, nobody is guarding the Door of Time, and second of all the fact that the talismans have been activated means that Rhea is awake! If Earth is in that much trouble already then we're going to have to seal off again!"

    "She's Hotaru now, and she's quite friendly in this life." Pluto handed the Time Staff to Erika. "Actually, I'm sort of glad I ran into you here. If our investigations didn't turn anything up, I would have shown up on your doorstep sometime this week."

    "What? Why?" Erika held the Time Staff, inspecting it. No visible damage, so she handed it back to Pluto.

    "I've been having a time-induced headache. Last time that happened, Usagi, formerly Serenity, had her daughter land on her head."

    Erika was confused at this. "Why would something like that give you a headache?"

    "Her daughter from a thousand years from now."

    "Oh. OH."

    "Anyhow, I was able to detect a disturbance coming from this town, so we came to investigate. That Hasekura kid was just a convenient excuse for me to come."

    Erika smiled. "Well, then, that makes things both easier and harder to explain, and maybe easier to solve. Dad will want to talk to his old teacher, though, so maybe you should stop by sometime."

    Nobody noticed Mercury, Tin Nyanko, Robelia, Kamilu, Kanro, or Sei leaving.


    Aiko, Poomo, Himeko and Daichi, now joined by the other Magic Kindomers, and Sailors Mercury and Tin Nyanko, had all migrated from out front of the old house and were now in the park across the street. They had already introduced everyone to everyone else, and now everyone was aware of the situation involving Pokota as well as what Kouichi Hasekura was dealing with.

    Aiko still was having problems believing what was happening, having firmly believed that the Sailor Senshi had always been a publicity stunt by the people of Juuban, but she was more worried about Hasekura than anything else.

    "... and that's our story. Pluto's here because of some sort of disturbance, and we're here to make sure that Hasekura gets home safely." concluded Ami. "I'm also half-worred that a new Senshi is going to crawl out of the woodwork, but with all the magic happenings here in Kazetachi it wouldn't surprise me."

    "What about magic happenings? Why are you here with Nonohara-san, Daichi-kun? And who is that...?"

    Himeko and Daichi flinched at the voice. "Hibino-san, what are you doing here?"

    "I was following me." Hibino Hikaru said simply. "Wow, I never thought I'd be able to say that with a straight face. Anyhow, is this some sort of group date?"

    Himeko looked at Daichi, who nodded. "Yes. Yes it is. What are you going to do about it?"

    Kanro stood up. Hikaru's eyes followed him. "Who is he?"

    Kanro felt the burning gaze of desire on him. "I'm th' game master, Kanro. We're all planning on playin' a tabletop game, but we were needin' t' figure out how much magic would be in th' game."

    Hibino laughed at that. "Yeah right, and I'm Sailor Sun. Try feeding-"

    Nyanko leapt up and started shaking both of Hikaru's hands. "You're Sailor Sun? We've been wondering if that was just a legend or something! I'm Tin Nyanko and this is Mercury! Why didn't you help in the fight with Galaxia?"

    Horrified, Hibino leapt back from the crazed and fangirling Tin Nyanko. "I didn't mean... you really are playing... huh. Well, I'm Hibino Hikaru." She looked at Himeko. "She sounds like you, Nonohara-san."


    Four things happened at once, though not all in the same place.

    The Black Crystal Shard crashed into Youmaga's Forest, and started feeding on the negative energies that formed its power.

    A Pink-Haired Girl fell out of the sky and landed on her future mother... for the third time in the latter's life.

    A raven-haired priestess, doing a fire reading, saw a red-haired girl encased in black crystal, and two Sailor Plutos was defending her.

    And on the other side of the story, Pokota decided to take a nap, having cleaned all the dust from under Granny Erica's furniture.



  • "What are you doing here, you little runt?"

    Usagi had been having a fairly decent day up until now. She had woken up for school on time, successfully snuck off at lunchtime to eat with her boyfriend, and was just getting ready to go home for a nap when a young pink-haired girl with a hair-style similar to her own landed on her head.

    This strange, pink-haired girl was none other than Usagi's future daughter, Usagi 'Small Lady' Serenity, known in Tokyo as Chibi-Usa. Climbing down from her mother's head, she whispered "I'll explain later." As she ran 'homeward', she said "See you later, Usa-'neechan!"

    Usagi blinked confusedly. "Since when does she call me onee-chan?"

    –--

    Ikuko was happy to see her younger 'daughter' again. The official story was that she had been in Europe as a foreign exchange student, and had been living with Minako's 'Uncle', Bob Robertson. It wasn't entirely a lie on Chibi-Usa's part, as this was perfectly true from her own time-perspective. That is to say, it would have been true had it been said a thousand years later from Ikuko's perspective.

    That evening, Chibi-Usa, Luna and Usagi were talking in their shared bedroom. None of them knew that Shingo had taken up listening at doors.

    "I actually came back to talk to Puu." began Chibi-Usa. "Pluto told me that things weren't moving fast enough for her liking. She also said something about the Black Poison Crystal, but I didn't hear her properly because of the door of time."

    Luna twitched visibly at the mention of the Black Poison Crystal. "I thought it was destroyed for good when we defeated Wiseman."

    Chibi-Usa shook her head. "Yes and no. It was destroyed from our shared time-perspective. The problem was that we destroyed it before it really began existing from this time-perspective." She took a sip of milk. "And it's because of that that we may have a problem. Pluto said that its first target is some place called Youma's Forest or something."

    Usagi shuddered and started to whine. "Why is it that even when there's peace, there's trouble?"

    Luna and Chibi-Usa sighed, and prepared themselves for the glass-breaking cry that Usagi was famous for. It never came. When they opened their eyes, Usagi had her communicator out and was trying to contact Ami.


    "So what kind of game is this, again?"

    The Kazetachi people - that is to say, Himeko, Daichi, Poomo, Sei, Robelia, Kamilu, Kanro, Hibino, Mercury, and Tin Nyanko - were all sitting in the park across from the Abandoned House, discussing the 'game' that Kanro was making.

    "It's called Th' Elsa Alliance. I'd been workin' on it fer a few-"

    BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! Mercury's computer started beeping.

    "Hai, hai, Ami here. Usagi!? What's the matter?" All eyes were on Mercury.

    "I see. Roger!" She closed the palmtop. "I'm sorry, but I have to sit this one out. It was a pleasure to meet you all, and I'm sorry for attacking you like that, Nonohara-san. Tin Nyanko, go get Pluto, we've got a forest to search for."

    The two sailor senshi jumped off into the distance. Everyone was confused greatly.

    Kanro coughed and resumed talking. "Like I said, I'd been workin' on it fer a few months now..."


    "Your Highness, it is an honor to see you again."

    Sailor Pluto bowed deeply towards her former student. Erika had taken Setsuna to the Magic Kingdom palace to meet with the King and Queen of the Magic Kingdom.

    "Papa, Sailor Pluto here says that Rhea... excuse me, Tomoe Hotaru, who is Sailor Saturn, is awake and active on the Earth." Erika shuddered as she said this. "However, she says that we have no reason to seal off the Magic Kingdom at present."

    The King looked at Pluto intently. "Is this true, Amora? Is Saturn truly being kept on active duty?"

    Pluto nodded. The King looked at his wife with a sad look in his face. Pluto sighed, and said "She had been awoken about a year ago by Earth's reckoning in part of an attack from a Tau System. We succeeded in keeping her from annihilating the Earth, and she has been helping us repel invasions for the past year. Please do not be alarmed, I have been keeping a close watch on her. She is quite pleasant to talk to, and has a friend who will not be born if the Earth is destroyed."

    The Queen shook her head. "A Time-Traveler?"

    Pluto nodded. "Serenity's future daughter."

    A moment of awkward silence passed. Suddenly, the King, the Queen, and Pluto all thought of something horrible at the same time. "There's nobody guarding the Door!" they whispered in a horrified unison.


    There was a loud Sneeze behind her.

    Old Woman Erica pulled herself away from the closet door long enough to see that the house was almost clean, even for having had the Twin Princesses Fine and Rein here to 'help.' She frowned. If the house is genuinely clean, then there's no money in the fortune-tell. She dove back into the closet. "Where's that mirror!?"

    Fine and Rein asked together "What mirror?"

    "The mirror that Riley gave me so that we could stay in contact! I had put it in this closet before we started cleaning! Without it, there's no connection to the Mahou no Kuni!"

    Shade coughed and closed the closet door. Mounted on the outside was a large mirror, embossed with the western letters "H.R."

    Pokota climbed onto Sophie's shoulders to get a better look. "That was made in the Magic Kingdom! Erica-obaba, we found it!"

    Everyone looked around. "Erica-obaba?"

    There was an explosion of noise coming from the closet. "LET ME OUT OF HERE!"


    Pluto walked out of the Abandoned House just as Tin Nyanko got there. Before Pluto could object, Tin Nyanko grabbed her and started running towards where Mercury was. "We need to find a place called the Youma's Forest."

    Pluto blinked confusedly. "The Youma's Forest? Not the Youmaga's Forest?"

    Tin Nyanko shrugged. "Mercury said that Usagi said that Chibi-Usa said-"

    Pluto tried to stop, but Tin Nyanko dragged her along without noticing. "Chibi-Usa-chan's HERE?"

    "Technically, she's in Tokyo, but yeah, she's here and she said Youma's Forest."

    Great, thought Pluto. At least that explains my headache.


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