There was something strange in the air, Usagi noted briefly, before returning her attention to the young men with her. "Thank you so much for coming shopping with me," she repeated yet again.
"It's no problem, Usagi-san," Trowa answered.
Quatre smiled. "I have twenty-nine sisters; I'm used to frequent shopping trips."
Duo tightened his arm around her waist. He was about to say something, probably about how Wufei and Setsuna were spending an awful lot of time together lately, when red lightning came down through the skylight. Glass rained down, and Duo shoved her down, covering her with his body.
A laugh so thick that it raced along the skin and wrapped around the heart like a heavy weight echoed through the enclosure. Usagi lifted her head to see a woman in a full-leather bodysuit (minus the arms and stomach) with long black hair and eyes as red as the electricity crackling around her as she floated above the fountain at the center of the shopping complex.
"Where is she?" the woman demanded, eyes searching the crowd.
"Get out of here," Duo whispered in Usagi's ear.
"I won't leave you," she returned.
"The princess is hiding somewhere among you, and believe me, I have no problem with killing all of you until I find her."
"No!" a woman yelled behind them. They turned to see Relena standing away from the crowd, arms held wide in surrender. "I am Princess Relena of the Cinq Kingdom."
The woman chuckled softly, apparently quite amused. "Last princess of the false Crystal Tokyo," Usagi gasped, turning to stare at Relena in new-found shock, "you are not the one I seek. I seek the true princess, the Star of Hope. Pretender, be gone from my sight." A sudden wind threw Relena back into the crowd.  "Where is the true princess? Has she gone from here?"
"Duo!" Quatre yelled. "Take Usagi-san and get out of here!"
Duo nodded, grabbed Usagi by the arm, and started pulling her toward the mall exit. Two shots rang out almost simultaneously; Usagi glanced back to see smoking guns in both Quatre's and Trowa's hands.
The woman didn't even seem fazed by either bullet; she slowly turned and smiled in the direction she had thrown Relena and that Duo and Usagi had run. "I was mistaken, it seems. Now that I know your face, Princess, you'll never escape me." And with that, she vanished in a red trickle of electricity.
"Bunny," Duo began, "maybe you should get out of here."
She slowly nodded. "Maybe I should. Is she going to be okay?" She nodded in Relena's general direction.
He grinned at her. "She's a very important person. Naturally she'll be well taken care of."
"Okay. Are you all right?"
"Of course. I'll see you later on, okay?" he whispered, pulling her close to him and kissing her.
"Okay," she replied a moment later, her voice shaking and a bit husky.  "See you later, Duo-kun. Ja, Quatre-kun, Trowa-kun."
She'd gotten to the doors before Quatre finally stated, "I'm going to follow her, make sure she gets home okay."
Duo sighed, looking uncharacteristically bothered as he stared at the blonde woman about to leave. "Please do, Quatre. I'll be behind you in a moment."
"As soon as I get his arm bandaged," Trowa finished. "Some of that glass apparently cut him up badly."
"I'll keep a good eye on her, Duo," the Arabian promised and sprinted after the girl.
She'd stopped at the doors, and she still stood there, staring at a red pillar of light. Then without warning, she took off running in that direction at a breakneck speed; he was extremely hard pressed to keep up with her.
Without warning, her head jerked to the side, and she yelled, "Is that what I think it is, Setsuna-san?"
"It shouldn't be, but it is."
"Could it be. . . them?"
The green-haired woman shook her head sharply. "No, they're stuck in the situation they created for themselves. This could be anyone; be prepared."
"I am, Setsuna-san. I am."
~ * ~ * ~
If it wasn't one thing, it was another these days, Heero decided when a column of red light hit the ground right before him and literally knocked him off his feet. As he climbed back to his feet, a figure began to appear from that light. Half a second later, a gun was in his hand and several shots had been fired from it.
The figure raised a staff he hadn't been able to make out until now and yelled, "Silence Wall!" The bullets hit an invisible wall at the staff and fell to the ground.
"Who are you?" he demanded.
"The soldier of destruction and rebirth, Sailor Saturn," she returned, swinging the blade end of her staff to his throat. "Where is the princess?"
"Relena?" he asked cautiously; the last one hadn't wanted Relena either.
She looked puzzled. "I mean Princess Serenity, the one true princess. Where is she?"
"Hotaru?" a soft voice whispered. Heero's eyes flitted over to land on Usagi. Setsuna stood behind her. Behind them both, Quatre skidded to a silent stop. "Hotaru-chan?"
Tears filled the girl's purple eyes. "Usagi-san!" she cried, flinging herself into the blonde's open arms. "We finally found you!"
26 November 2000
Yay!!! Another Act done!! I think I'm doing pretty good here. What about you?
 *Evil laugh* I have found Relena's true purpose in life: cannon fodder!!!!!
 Okay, little explanation here. I was riding back with my okaasan from shopping, and a song by Faith Hill called "The Way You Love Me" came on the radio. Normally I don't listen to country - at all - but this one sent me to thinking evil thoughts. The first two lines go like this: "If I could grant you just one wish/I wish you could see the way you kiss..."