Quatre wasn't too sure what he'd been expecting when they arrived at Setsuna and Usagi's apartment, but it certainly wasn't the picture of domestic bliss that they found. The shock of seeing Heero calmly sitting on the couch watching TV with Hotaru nearly floored him, to the point it took him several seconds to realize that the dark grey shape hanging from the inside door handle was the cat.
"Doomo arigatoo, Luna," Michiru stated, setting the animal back on the floor.
It looked up at him with large intelligent red eyes and made a sound that didn't sound like a normal cat noise at all and instead a forced "Meow."
Hotaru laughed. "Good idea, Luna. I don't think Quatre-san can take another surprise today."
"Oh, you finally got here," Usagi stated, appearing at the kitchen door wearing a blue apron with a bunny face on it.
"Did you guys get lost or what?" complained Duo, showing up behind Usagi. It looked like they'd been either having a food fight, making out in the flour, or trying Duo's equivalent of cooking.
Frighteningly domestic indeed.
"I'm glad you're all here now," Hotaru continued, suddenly sounding very serious. "We have problems, two of them in fact, so far."
"So far?" Usagi echoed.
"Someone besides Maiko?" asked Setsuna.
"In addition to Maiko." She took a deep breath and stated, "Now we also have to worry about the Inner Senshi."
"What?" snarled Haruka.
"How could they have found her?" Michiru seemed to think aloud. Suddenly she snapped her fingers, apparently coming to a decision. "The Cherry Road gave it away."
"Who exactly are the Inner Senshi?" asked Trowa. "And what is the Cherry Road?"
"The Cherry Road was that red column of light we arrived in," explained Hotaru. "It comes from the Gate of Time to earth. As for the Inner Senshi, they are the ones who betrayed our princess and sent her here."
"Their act," interrupted Setsuna, "destroyed the peaceful future that was supposed to occur and instead created this future that you know."
"How do you know?" Trowa asked next.
She smiled sadly. "I was the Guardian of Time before Usagi and I were caught here, in this time and place."
"Is this history that was created the false Crystal Tokyo Maiko mentioned?" questioned Quatre suddenly.
"Exactly. And the false Crystal Tokyo shrank and withered until all that was left was the Cinq Kingdom. Unlike the true Crystal Utopia, it could not stand the test of time." She sighed. "But we'll never be rid of the Inner Senshi, it seems."
"And that would be Kino Makoto and Aino Minako, right?" Heero surmised.
"Right." All eyes turned to Usagi as she spoke. "And Hino Rei and Chiba Mamoru and Mizuno Ami."
"Mizuno Ami?" repeated Duo. She turned and nodded to him. "Heero, that was the woman at the library's name, the woman who told us how to find Bunny."
"Bunny?" the three newest arrivals echoed in one voice. It could have been Quatre's imagination, but he could almost swear the cat spoke too.
"So she's probably been watching Usagi-san all this time," stated Heero.
"Ami's not the one we need to worry about," Haruka put forth. "The other three Inners and Mamoru are."
"How do you figure that?" Usagi couldn't help asking.
"Ami was the one who told us what happened. In fact, she was waiting for us at the house when we got back from Osaka. She said she'd been trying to find you ever since that night. She only wanted you to know the truth, not to drive you away," explained the Senshi of Neptune.
"If our enemy is the Maiko of legend, then it will take a whole Senshi team to defeat her," Setsuna plainly stated.
"So who, exactly, is she, Setsuna?" Duo asked. "And what does she want with Bunny?"
"She is, if she is the same Maiko, an ancient enemy of the White Moon Kingdom."
"The White Moon Kingdom?" Heero repeated.
"A very long time ago," answered Usagi slowly, "there was a kingdom on the Moon. The queen of that kingdom used her power to protect the earth, with the help of the Sailor Senshi. But this kingdom was attacked and destroyed and its inhabitants killed. However, they were all reborn here on earth a thousand years later, in the twentieth century."
"So you're the princess of this White Moon Kingdom, and you were reborn 1,500 years ago."
"Anyway," continued Setsuna, "Maiko was banished from the kingdom. No one remembers why anymore, but it is believed that she tried to usurp the throne from the queen of that time. She swore revenge on the family of the White Moon, and she has done her best to kill each of the queens since that time."
"Is she a dangerous enemy?"
Setsuna glanced at Quatre, looking at him several moments before answering his question. "She has been successful several times, and the queens of the White Moon are not easily killed. But she is especially dangerous because she can travel through time more easily than even I can."
"And Usagi-san is the last princess of the White Moon," finished Hotaru. "She will not let her escape, not with her revenge so nearly complete."
Usagi gulped shortly, and Duo slid his arm around her waist, pulling her closer to him. "She won't be successful in killing her though. You can bet on that."
6 December 2000
Yay! Another Act done! I'm on such a roll! There's you a little background on the new enemy, Maiko. I'm really enjoying writing this, so I hope everyone is enjoying reading it.