One day, on a warm, sunny afternoon, right as the school bells chimed for the last time, an airship descended into the airspace above the Juuban district of Tokyo. The unidentified zeppelin consisted of a large gondola under an even larger balloon, with the balloon taking on a strange shape, like a middle point between a gemstone and a pinecone. Sunlight danced on the airship’s sides, casting glittering lights on the ground below as it floated around in the air. Within the gondola, however, darkness reigned supreme. Surrounded by an almost magical lack of light, a figure stood by one of the gondola’s windows, almost invisible as she stared down at the city below.
“So this is what a human city looks like now,” the hidden woman commented, her low-pitched, yet pure voice filling the gondola. “Humans… Nothing else on this planet could have made anything like this. Almost all animals live from day to day and move by instinct, and they would never have the ambition to construct something as advanced as this… but humans are different. Humans are stronger. It’s not their physical strength, but their minds and spirits, that makes them stand above nature around them. Not only that, but they have a far stronger sense of individuality than animals do. Each human has its own personality, born from its unique memories and ambitions. Two humans might react as differently to the same stimuli as two separate species of other animals would… Do humans even know how much energy lies within that sense of individuality? I do.” The woman seemed to tilt her head backwards. “What about you, Garnets…?”
Sailor Moon: Mindful of Love
Act 1: Mindless Memory
“Whew,” Makoto commented, stretching her back with her arms behind her head as she walked away from Juuban Junior High with Usagi and Ami. “Finally out in the sun!”
“Usagi-chan,” Ami asked, “you look a bit down. Did you get bad test results again?”
“Do we have to talk about that,” Usagi replied, before starting to cry. “I only got 26 points! My mom is gonna kick me out of the house!!”
“You just need to start studying more,” Ami said. “These tests aren’t very difficult if you read the material first.”
“You’re fighting an uphill battle, Ami-chan,” Makoto shot in. “Besides, you study so much that your perspective on what’s difficult or not is a bit skewed.” In response, Ami looked away and laughed weakly, slightly embarrassed.
“Hey, look,” Makoto said as the three left the school grounds, seeing a familiar blonde girl by the road. “Minako-chan is here.”
“Yahoo,” Minako waved, “I decided to drop by and say hello! How’s everyone doing today?”
In response, Makoto pointed at the sobbing Usagi.
“A test, right,” Minako guessed. Usagi nodded as a reply. “I can relate… Anyway, what’s everyone doing today? Anyone got any plans?”
“I’m going on a date with Mamo-chan today,” Usagi declared with hearts in her eyes, her mood flipping like a switch.
“Er, okay,” Minako reacted. “Have fun…! What about you two?”
“I’ve got cram school,” Ami said, “but before that I’m going swimming.”
“Ooh, are you going to the beach,” Minako asked with twinkles in her eyes. “That sounds great!”
“Oh, no, sorry,” Ami corrected, “I’m going to the indoor pool to do swimming training.”
“I was thinking about buying some houseplants later,” Makoto said, to which the other girls immediately reacted with astonishment.
“Mako-chan,” Ami asked, “don’t you already have fifteen?”
“I do, but two more couldn’t hurt, right? I already know where to place them,” Makoto responded.
“Everyone’s got something to do, then,” Minako summarised, avoiding saying anything about what her own plans were, as she had none.
“Do you want to come along while I go shopping,” Makoto asked, picking up on why Minako had really showed up.
“Really,” Minako asked, her eyes lighting up. “I mean, if you don’t mind!”
Having reached a crossroads while walking, the four girls said some quick goodbyes before they split up and headed to their destinations.
A few minutes later, Minako and Makoto were walking around inside a flower shop, Makoto browsing for the best plants and Minako mainly just looking.
“Here it is,” Makoto suddenly exclaimed. “They have it after all!”
“Here’s what,” Minako asked, walking over.
“This is a wisteria sapling! Wisteria floribunda, to be specific.”
“Wiste-what? …Don’t saplings grow into trees? Mako-chan, you live in an apartment!”
“I’m going to make a bonsai tree out of it,” Makoto proclaimed.
“Oh! Right,” Minako replied. “I guess I’ll have to wait and see how it turns out. What else were you looking for?”
“This is the main plant I wanted, so I’ll just grab something that fits in. Let the heart decide, you know?”
“I can get behind that kind of logic!”
While waiting for Makoto to find something, Minako walked over to the window and looked outside. Almost instantly, she spotted the oddly shaped airship floating around in the sky. Before she had time to think about it, however, Makoto called her over again.
“Minako-chan,” Makoto said, “look at this one. Have you ever seen a flower like this?”
Makoto hinted at a small potted flower that looked like a crossing between a rose and a daisy. The stem was shaped much like a rose’s stem, including the shape of the leaves, but had no thorns. Its petals were red and arranged like the petals of a rose, but thin as daisy petals and equally numerous. An additional ring of orange petals stood out horizontally below the red ones.
“No,” Minako shrugged. “Mako-chan, did you manage to find a plant even you don’t recognise?”
“Apparently. Could you hold the wisteria sapling for me? I don’t really have room for three new plants, but I have to buy this one too.”
Minako and Makoto headed over to the counter and placed down the three potted plants; the wisteria sapling, an aloe vera plant and the strange flower.
“Excuse me,” Makoto asked the cashier, who was a teenage girl, barely older than Makoto herself. “Do you know anything about this flower?”
“Sorry,” the cashier replied while bagging the plants. “I’m new here and I just handle the sales, so I’m not an expert yet.”
“Oh well, that’s okay,” Makoto said. “I’ll look into it when I get home.”
“Thank you for your purchase,” the cashier waved as Minako and Makoto left the store. “Please come again!”
“Mako-chan,” Minako asked, “have you noticed the airship hanging around?”
“An airship,” Makoto asked back, looking up. “Oh yeah, there it is! What’s with the shape of the balloon?”
“Right? It looks super weird.”
“I guess you have to be a little weird in order to decide to get an airship at all,” Makoto shrugged.
“That’s for sure,” Minako laughed.
“Anyway, I’m going to head home and try to figure out what this flower is. It’s not going to be very exciting unless you’re really interested, though.”
“I don’t think I’m familiar enough with the field to appreciate that properly, so that’s fine. Let’s meet up some other time, though!”
“Right. See you around, Minako-chan!”
Minako and Makoto parted ways, each of them heading home.
At the swimming hall, Ami was preparing to make an attempt at her personal best, crossing the pool in a calm, consistent crawl. When she reached the end of the pool, she climbed up on the edge and began looking at the large clock on the wall. The instant the clock ticked over to a new minute, Ami dove back into the pool and began swimming as fast as she could, slicing through the water like a knife. The world seemed to stand still around her while she pushed her body to its limit, flipping around as she reached the far side of the pool and launching herself off the wall. The fifty meter long pool seemed to stretch to infinity, but Ami paid the optical illusion no mind, crossing the azure abyss with ease. Another two edge kicks later, she finished her time trial, grabbing onto the edge of the pool to let her body rest.
“Looks like I kept good track of the time,” Ami quietly commented to herself, looking at the wall clock. “My times should be accurate down to one decisecond… 50 meters, 24.2 seconds. 100 meters, 52.6 seconds. 200 meters, 1 minute and 56.8 seconds. 1.4 seconds behind my best 200 meter time. I seem to lose a bit of speed on the longer distances…”
Ami noticed that everybody else in the hall was looking at her, their expressions ranging from impressed to astonished, and she started blushing in embarrassment.
“U-um,” she stammered, before spotting the airship through the windows. “Hey, look, there’s a zeppelin up there!”
“Woah, look at that,” a teenage boy commented, having turned around to look. “Check out the funky design on that balloon!”
With the other swimmers distracted, Ami climbed out of the pool and headed to the dressing room.
“Cram school doesn’t start for quite a while,” Ami thought as she removed her swimsuit, grabbed her towel and headed off to the shower. “Maybe I’ll try the sauna today…”
When she turned on the shower water to rinse the chlorinated pool water off her body, Ami had a strange feeling wash over her, leaving her with a surprised expression.
“Were these showers always this pleasant,” Ami thought, closing her eyes. “It’s like I’m being gently embraced by the water… I can’t remember ever feeling like this just from shower water before. Maybe I’ll drop the sauna and stay in here a little longer instead, and just… forget about everything for a while…”
At the park, Usagi was sitting on a bench, impatiently kicking her legs and looking around while waiting for Mamoru. As she waited, several other couples walked by both in front of her and in the background, and she started growing jealous. Just before she felt like she was about to burst, Usagi felt a hand pat her head, making her jump.
“Hey, Usako,” Mamoru said, retracting his hand. “Sorry I’m late.”
Usagi turned around to look at Mamoru. He was dressed in a pink short-sleeved button up shirt, khaki pants and black sneakers.
“Mamo-chan,” Usagi sang, instantly dropping all her negative emotions as she got on her feet and locked arms with him. “It’s okay! Let’s go do something!”
“Sure, did you have anything in mind?”
“Umm… Well, we could go see a movie! Or head out to the bay! Or maybe go get some ice cream! Or, or…”
“Would you like me to decide,” Mamoru laughed, scratching his head.
“Sure,” Usagi quickly replied.
“Let’s see… I heard from Motoki that they’ve got a new game at the Crown. It’s a co-op game, so we could try it out together. How does that sound?”
“Ooh, okay, let’s try it!”
Usagi and Mamoru began heading out of the park and towards the Game Center Crown arcade, Usagi still tightly holding onto Mamoru’s arm.
Arriving back at her apartment, Makoto began unpacking her plants. She first placed the aloe vera plant in her bathroom next to two other succulents, then placed the wisteria sapling on her living room table, planning to repot it later on. Then, she arrived at the unidentified flower, which she had no planned place for. Makoto temporarily placed the flower on the table and moved onto watering her plants, moving around the apartment in a fashion akin to a dance as she watered each plant with just the right amount of water. She was once again stumped by the mystery flower, however, so she was forced to make a random guess.
“I really don’t know what this daisy rose… thing… is,” Makoto thought to herself. “Hopefully that was an appropriate amount of water. Where did I put my flora book again? …Oh, but I should make dinner first.”
Makoto went to the kitchen side of her living room and began taking out ingredients from the cupboards and shelves. However, she did not get much further than grabbing a pack of rice before she was interrupted by a strange scent reaching her nose.
“What’s this aroma,” she thought. “It’s so strong… it’s like all my plants just went into full bloom ten times over! Actually, isn’t that exactly what this smell is?”
Makoto headed back to her table and sat down to inspect the unidentified flower.
“Did you cause this,” she wondered. “Are you some kind of magic mystery flower?”
She tried smelling the strange plant, though it did not tell her much.
“This one doesn’t have any kind of strong scent… I’m not sure what the deal is here. I should really go find my flora book. This is a really soothing aroma, though… Maybe I’ll just sit like this for a minute first and just… forget about everything…”
At Hikawa Shrine, Rei finished up tidying the shrine grounds, her last chore for the day. After casting a quick glance at Phobos and Deimos, who were calmly sitting in one of the trees encircling the grounds, Rei put away her broom and headed inside. As she walked through the door, a slight sense of unease entered her mind, and her expression turned from content to concerned. Rei immediately began setting up one of her fortune-telling fires, sitting down by it and meditating as it began to burn. Once the fire got going, the flames burned calmly for several minutes while Rei patiently waited. Then, out of nowhere, the fire flared up just for a second, and within the temporary blaze, she saw a head. Rei only had time to see that it was a woman’s head, a woman with long, sharp ears and long, dark hair, who seemed to be pale-skinned. Before she could make anything else out, the image vanished and the fire returned to normal.
“What in the world,” Rei muttered to herself. “Who was that…? Is a new enemy about to appear?”
“Rei-chan,” her grandfather called, walking into the room carrying a small tray. “I’ve got some tea if you’d like.”
“Thank you,” Rei answered, “but right now I need to focus on reading the fire.”
“That’s alright, I’ll just watch it with you,” the old man responded, putting the tray with the teacups down and sitting down on the floor. “What a beautiful fire you’ve made tonight! Did you add something special to it?”
“What do you mean,” Rei asked, turning her head to find that the flames had changed while she was looking away. The fire was now letting off brilliant red, orange and yellow lights, as if it consisted of fireworks. “…No, I didn’t do this…!”
“Perhaps there was something in the wood,” her grandfather suggested. “The lights and warmth are captivating!”
“…It’s hard to focus on trying to read this fire,” Rei commented. “I don’t feel like doing anything but watch…”
“Watching a show like this really makes you feel like you could just forget about everything, doesn’t it…”
At the Game Center Crown arcade, Usagi and Mamoru waved goodbye to Motoki as they began heading out. It was now dark outside, and the tip of the crescent moon was just barely visible over the Tokyo highrises. As the night was still young, Usagi and Mamoru headed back to the park, sitting down at a bench by a fountain.
“It’s pretty warm outside tonight,” Mamoru commented. “It’s peaceful, too. Really peaceful…”
“It’s a perfect night,” Usagi said, leaning over to rest her head on Mamoru’s shoulder. “Look at how bright and pretty the crescent moon is!”
“Yeah,” Mamoru smiled. “…Hey, Usako, look next to the moon. There’s an airship floating around up there.”
“Oh, wow! Doesn’t it look a little weird? But imagine having an airship and travelling all over the world! It’d be so romantic!”
“If you had an airship, where would you go with it?”
“To wherever you are, Mamo-chan,” Usagi smiled.
“And if I was on the ship with you?”
“Then I’d let you decide!”
“I see,” Mamoru chuckled. “Do you want to move on, or should we sit here a bit longer?”
“Let’s stay here for a while,” Usagi said. “It’s nice to sit like this, it feels like I could just forget about everything else in the world…”
“Yeah,” Mamoru nodded, “I know what you mean…”
At her house, Minako sat in her room, spinning a pen around with a small pile of homework lying untouched on her desk. She had changed out of her school uniform and was wearing a loose-fit pink top with an orange neck along with a green skirt. While she avoided doing her schoolwork, she listened to the evening radio, and Artemis listened as well, lying by the window and looking up at the moon.
“We continue our reading of listener-submitted love stories,” the radio host, a man with a smooth, dark voice, said. “This letter was submitted by S-chan. Stories submitted under pseudonyms are, of course, always welcome. Ahem… On a particularly stormy day in June, I was running through the rain, trying to catch the bus to reach school on time, when a gust of wind ripped my umbrella out of my hands and threw off my balance. I shut my eyes and prepared to hit the ground, but instead, I fell into a gentle embrace. When I opened my eyes, and my gaze met his, it felt like time stopped…”
“What an encounter,” Minako sighed. “Imagine meeting your dream prince just like that…”
“I wonder if the story hasn’t been embellished just a bit,” Artemis commented. Minako sighed again, seemingly not having heard him. “…You’re not getting any work done, are you, Mina?”
“Hush, I’m in my element,” Minako swiftly replied, before sighing yet again. “Oh, to be surrounded by pure love like this… I could listen to these stories forever, just feel the happiness and love in the world and forget about everything else… not! Ah, I’m jealous!”
“That was weird,” Artemis thought to himself, “Mina seemed uncharacteristically selfless there for a second.”
“Listening to love is nice, but I want to experience it myself too,” Minako commented as she turned the radio off and walked over to the window. “Look, that airship is still there…”
“It arrived early in the afternoon,” Artemis said. “I don’t think it’s moved much since then. It’s got such a strange shape; I wonder if some eccentric billionaire owns it?”
“Some rich person seeing Tokyo from above… I guess that makes sense,” Minako responded.
“In any case, shouldn’t you be doing your homework by now?”
“Don’t worry, I’ve got it under control!”
“Under control…? Mina, you’re not thinking of using your magic items to cheat, are you- Agh!” Artemis suddenly found himself interrupted as Luna jumped into the room through the window and landed on him.
“Minako-chan, Artemis,” Luna exclaimed as she stepped off of the latter, “you’re both still here, thank goodness!”