It wasn’t meant to be like this. It wasn’t. It couldn’t.
But there, as Naru sat frozen in horror, was Eternal Sailor Moon crashing through the cafe windows.
It felt like slow motion as the window shards sliced Naru’s cheeks and hands, but in those moments, her attention was not on the pain. Instead, it was on that familiar, freckled face that careened over her table.
Sailor Moon’s wings brushed Naru’s face, turning pink where Naru’s blood stained the soft feathers.
Naru’s lips parted as her eyes went wide. A panicked shriek escaped her throat even as her mind processed the scene.
All around, chaos broke loose. The other, wiser, customers fled, screaming as a figure cloaked in scarlet stalked forward from across the street.
Cars swerved and squealed to avoid the villain, but the less fortunate ones were easily brushed aside by the sword and claws.
Somewhere in the distance, Naru’s mind registered the blaring of a fire alarm.
Pushing down her fear and shock, Naru rushed, instead, to where Sailor Moon still lay unmoving in a pile of window shards.
Naru’s hands shook as she brushed the jagged little pieces away from soft cheeks. The glass tore at her skin, but she was numb to physical pain as she cradled the blonde heroine. “Usagi...”
It had been years since Naru had last seen her friend. Going to different high schools and running in different circles made drifting apart a sad inevitability. Outings would be cancelled, rescheduled, forgotten, and cut short. And then somewhere along they way they simply dwindled into nothing.
Naru was no fool. She had read the papers and watched the news enough to know how busy Sailor Moon had been these last few years. And when you’re surrounded by literal goddesses who help you save the planet, who has time for the jeweler’s daughter?
No. Naru tamped down the intrusive thoughts. She could be petty another time.
She gently cupped Usagi’s face. “Come on, Sailor Moon. You have to wake up. The bad guys are here.”
Sailor Moon remained motionless.
Naru felt her pulse quicken and the seed of dread in her stomach began to sprout.
“Get up, Usagi. Get up!” she whispered urgently.
As the scent of smoke began to burn her throat, Naru realized that the fire alarm wasn’t nearly as distant as her initial shock had suggested.
Naru’s muscles twitched. Instinct begging her to flee.
Usagi’s sailor fuku was ripped in many places. Blood oozed from countless cuts and stained the yellow and white of the uniform. With another glance, Naru could see the marks of future bruises mottling Usagi’s skin.
Naru’s horror only grew as she realized that she could smell seared flesh over the burning of the kitchen. Her hand came away bloody from where she had pulled Usagi close.
“What did they do to you?” Naru cried. She shakily wiped away the blood from Sailor Moon’s busted lip. “Oh no. No. Nonono-Oh God, Usagi....Where are the other senshi?” she begged, hoping for anything- a twitch, a cough, any responsiveness.
Naru looked around desperately, trying to search for a way to get them both out.
Behind them, the kitchen fire raged, eagerly burning through the cooking oils and throwing shadows against the walls.
In front lay a field of broken glass and overturned tables with the figure looming closer.
Smoke began cloud the ruined café, and sweat ran down Naru’s brow and into her eyes, turning red where it picked up the blood from her cuts
Just as Naru was about to drag Sailor Moon through the wreckage, the flickering gray shadows took form.
“Not so fast,” hissed an echoing voice. “The Moon Brat dies.”
All around, the tall shadows rose into cloaked figures that mirrored their scarlet counterpart.
The wraiths circled the pair, and Naru could feel a flashback threatening to take her back to the day she lost Nephrite.
“Come on! Please,” Naru begged, shaking Sailor Moon as hard as she dared. “I can’t lose anyone else like this.”
The footsteps of the main scarlet villain drew closer, crunching on glass shards near the cafe windows.
Local authorities had gathered outside the building by now. Naru could hear them shouting at the figure.
Naru shut her eyes, feeling hot tears make their way to her cheeks at the sound of screams. The scent of carnage soon filled the air, and Naru retched.
She shook Sailor Moon harder now, the panic in her veins roaring faster than her pulse. “Wake up!” she urged. “We need you. I need you!”
She spotted a blinking light on Sailor Moon’s wrist. The communicator. Of course! She could call for backup.
She yanked it toward her face, flipping the lid and pressing the first button.
A moment later, an irritated voice came through, “You’d better have a great explanation for why you’re late!”
“Help!” Naru cried. “Sailor Moon is hurt. We’re-Ah!”
Naru recoiled, hissing in pain. The communicator was now pinned to the far wall with a black spike through it.
“Not a wise move, human.” Naru looked up at the scarlet figure. Mottled white skin poked out from behind their dark mask.
Naru glared, shaking. Despite the roaring kitchen fire, she shivered as the robed spirits swirled around.
“Leave her alone!” Naru shouted when one spirit flew too close.
She was so scared and so angry that she could barely hear Sailor Moon’s ragged breathing over her own pulse.
The footsteps came closer, slow, taunting, cruel. “You have a pretty face for a human. It would be a shame to mar it further. Especially over the futile desire to protect the Moon Brat.” The figure nearly spat the words. It was jarring against their lilting speech pattern.
Naru shook as the bloody sword tipped her chin up. Vacant white eyes bore into her soul. The mouth never moved as the words escaped. “Last warning. Leave now, because one way or another, the White Moon brat will die.”
The sword dropped, and Naru gasped for air. Smoke was all she got instead.
She didn’t have to look now to know they had no escape. She had no way to protect Usagi.
Still, Naru growled, clutching Sailor Moon tighter to her chest. Blood from her earlier cuts rolled down her forehead, but she dared not let go of the girl in her arms to wipe away the red. She wasn’t leaving. Not this time. Not this girl.
“Go to hell!” Naru shrieked, leaning so her body shielded the unconscious guardian.
The figure rasped a laugh. “Then I shall see you there.”
The sword came up and the spirits circled the air gleefully.
Naru glanced around one last time. Nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide.
Resolute, she closed her eyes. “Forgive me, Usagi,” she whispered, burying her face in the crook of the blonde’s neck as her tears soaked through the grit coating their skin.
Just as the cold, unforgiving metal cleaved the air, blue eyes snapped open and turned silver.
Sailor Moon thrust her hand out.
White light spilled from her palm, shattering the blade upon impact and forcing the shrapnel back at the scarlet figure.
“No!!!” the figure roared, mask slipping away to reveal her face.
The energy of Sailor Moon’s attack combined with the sword debris to pierce the youma’s skin and turn it to dust.
Despite the still-blaring alarm, an eerie silence swept through the building.
A chill raced up Naru’s spine, cold enough to extinguish the flames.
The wraiths screamed for bloodlust, but Usagi was spent. The light died, and she crumpled. Fevered shivers wracked her body as the spirits dove for them both.
“I’m sorry, Naru-chan,” Sailor Moon rasped, her trembling hand barely able to muster more than a few glimmers. Her vision blurred as she slipped toward unconsciousness again.
The spirits frenzied. One yanked at Naru’s hair and earned a yelp. Another sliced the back of her arm with its claws.
Their cackling grew more sinister as they all rose to circle the girls like vultures.
The dive was moments away. Naru braced for impact.
“Love and Beauty Shock!”
Naru never thought she’d be so happy to see the senshi as she was when Mars and Venus appeared by the broken window.
Their attacks took out several of the spirits, but the last few roared angrily.
Venus leapt off the table, calling, “Venus! Wink Chain Sword!”
Venus drove the sword into the ground, and chains of golden light snapped into place around the remaining wraiths, turning them to dust on contact.
Mars came to kneel beside Naru as Venus yanked the sword free and hefted it over one shoulder.
Naru remained in stunned silence even as Venus gently separated her from Sailor Moon and scooped her up
Mars sighed softly as she wiped some of the soot off Sailor Moon’s face. “Stupid girl,” she said without malice as she slipped her arms around Sailor Moon and lifted her in a bridal carry.
The warriors made short work of carrying the two injured girls out into the fresh air and up to to the top of the neighboring building.
Naru spared a glance for the ambulances that had flooded the street. It was a bloodbath down there.
Venus hummed after a moment. “We need to get Sailor Moon to Mercury.”
“I’m coming too,” Naru announced, crossing her arms.
Mars and Venus shared a look.
“I’ll take you to a doctor, Miss,” Venus offered.
Naru glared. “You will do no such thing, Minako.”
The senshi recoiled at the name.
“You knew?” Mars asked.
“Of course I knew!” Naru snapped, still shaken from the near death experience. “How could I not notice my best friend gallivanting around Tokyo by moonlight in a miniskirt!? Now get us the hell out of here before the authorities spot us.”
Venus blew out a breath and chuckled uncomfortably. “Alright, Mars. You heard the lady. Back to the shrine for us.”
Mars grumbled under her breath, but she saw the way Naru was looking at Usagi, and she didn’t like her odds against the jeweler’s daughter today.