It felt like she was flying - no, floating, she vaguely thought to herself. Nothing supporting her but air and a warm, gentle light. Thought seemed an irreverence in this serene place, but one did manage to seep into her mind.
"Am I dead?" she whispered aloud. Nonetheless, her voice echoed.
Of course you're not, Usagi, a startlingly familiar voice replied.
"Rei-chan?" Surprise filled her voice.
All of us really, responded another voice.
"Minako-chan? Mako-chan? Ami-chan?" Tears were threatening to spill over her large blue eyes as she looked around her for her friends.
Hai, Usagi-chan, Makoto answered.
All of us are here with you, koneko-chan, continued yet another voice.
"Haruka-san? Michiru-san? Setsuna-san? Hotaru-chan? You're all here?" She paused, wiping her eyes as her face suddenly hardened a little bit. "Is this a dream?"
Well, Minako began, it is and it isn't.
This place exists only in your mind, Michiru stated plainly.
You created it when our Star Seeds merged with yours, Setsuna explained. We exist here because of that fact.
As our powers merge with yours, Usagi-san, Hotaru continued, you are becoming more powerful. Strong enough perhaps to defeat Galaxia where we could not. Even as she spoke, more lights began to surround them. Your new power is calling other Sailor Senhi's Star Seeds into this new crystal we are forming.
"A crystal of the universe," Usagi whispered.
And for this new crystal, began Hotaru.
There must be a new Sailor Senshi, Setsuna finished. Usagi-chan, I think you know what to do.
Good luck, Usagi-chan!
Be sure to take care of yourself, Usagi-chan.
"I will, Ami-chan. I will."
That goes double for both of us, koneko-chan.
Usagi smiled at the yellow and teal lights before her. "Of course, Haruka-san, Michiru-san."
Be careful, Usagi-san, Hotaru advised.
"I will, Hotaru-chan. Goodbye, Setsuna-san."
See? I didn't break my word, Usagi. Even in this strange way, we will be together until the end, ne?
"I'll miss fighting with you all the time, Rei-chan."
Be sure to snap up that handsome man back there waiting for you. Usagi could almost sense her friend winking at her. He's hot!
Usagi felt herself blush incredibly red, and even though no one could see her, she covered her cheeks with her hands. "Ano, Minako-chan. . . Trunks is. . . And what about Mamo-chan?"
A phantom hand touched her arm softly. Looking to that side, she could almost - almost - actually see Rei standing beside her. Mamoru-san didn't come with us because he didn't want to upset you anymore than was necessary, but he did ask me to tell you something for him. He said that Galaxia has changed all of our futures and there is no point in you wasting your life away for him when there is someone with you who is better for you.
"Demo, Rei-chan. . ."
No 'buts', Usagi. You have to do what's right here, and that is to move on with your life. We'll always be here, in this special place in your mind, but the world where we met each other and became friends is disappearing. Once Galaxia is destroyed, there will be nothing left of our world but ashes, even if Galaxia can be destroyed.
Trunks-kun offered to let you go back to his world with him, Makoto reminded her. Take him up on the offer.
Tentatively, Usagi smiled. "Okay, minna-chan, I will."
There's no more time for us to talk now, Usagi-chan, broke in Setsuna. Hayuku! You have to transform into your new form now!
"How?" she called out, but this time no one answered. In her mind, she searched for the words that would let her transform. "Universe Power, Make-up?"
* * *
Never in all her days as a Sailor Senshi, nor even in her days on this planet, had she ever seen such a fighter. The way this young man moved was simply amazing to watch; not even the Senshi no Uranus compared to him. And it took the disappearance of Usagi in that white light to set him off. And for all of several long moments, all Healer could think was that she was glad she'd done nothing to set him off while she was at the Hikawa Shrine Temple. He was dangerous and he was angry, and even Galaxia wasn't faring well against him.
Something about Usagi was bothering her - besides the fact the blonde girl had disappeared into a huge opaque ball of white light that various Star Seeds continued to fly into. Sailor Star Healer wasn't too sure why, but as she figured it, this feeling started when the light swallowed the Senshi of the Moon and the purple-haired young man's hard blue eyes had settled on Galaxia.
"Why did you attack her?" he'd demanded. Galaxia did not answer.
Galaxia didn't seem to be holding back anything - and considering her opponent, that would have been wise - then suddenly an unexpected snarl appeared on her face. She placed both her palms on Trunks's chest, and a black-tinted power pushed him far away from her. He actually went through a wall of a building before he stopped himself.
The bracelets on Galaxia's wrists shattered, and the same dark power ran up her body. It seemed to leave its stain on Galaxia; in its wake, her entire outfit and even her headpiece turned solid black; all that could be seen of her hair was a shockingly blood red color, as did her eyes. And when she spoke again, her voice sounded mechanical and demonic at once.
"You're too strong to be allowed to live," the creature that had once been Galaxia stated. "If the most powerful Senshi of this universe is unable to destroy you, then Chaos shall."
Light exploded without warning, blinding in its pure white intensity, and a clear, strong, and familiar voice rang out, "Cosmos Power, Make-up!"
The light subsided a moment later. Chaos looked down to see a sword leveled at her throat, in the hand of a woman dressed all in white with whitish-blonde hair. "Yurusunai, Chaos, Galaxia," she stated, her voice hard.
"Kibou no hoshi," Chaos whispered.
6 August 2000
I'm doing pretty good getting these chapters out, ne? Only one more chapter and an epilogue to go. Please bear with me! It gets better!
Dedicated to Chibi712 for all her wonderful help with this chapter. I couldn't have done it without her!