The bar was smokey by this time of night.
It was a local hotspot, the kind of place girls go to dance where no one will recognize them. It was a place they say you go to relax at, but no one in the establishment looked very relaxed. Guys were hovering around the provocatively dressed women who tossed down drink after drink with their flirty smiles.
The atmosphere was chaotic in that sensual kind of way. Voluptuous figures moved back and forth as the lights flickered to their body strokes. Eyes devoured the scene, hungry for more as their hearts lay beating uncontrollably in their chests. Their minds were filled with devious thoughts, their souls buried deep under their own desires.
No one questioned the why's and how's of the nights adventure. They found themselves here as they did every weekend. Same place, same faces, same intoxicated thoughts for another dreamless night. They were all under it's deprived spell. It was a hypnotic rhythm of drowned out music, uninhibited talking, obnoxious laughter, and unequaled consumption.
The bell above the door to the little California bar at the end of the street jingled as he came in. It was a new face in a sea of same, and their red eyes all glanced towards him as he made his way to the jukebox.
The barely there music suddenly took over the scene as 'I Put a Spell on You' by Creedence Clearwater Revival filled the smokey air.
He walked through the sea of faces, each turning to him as he walked with an air of arrogance towards the girl at the bar. She was young, probably too young to even be in the bar legally. She was also exceptionally beautiful, even so in a room full of 20 somethings that could each steal a man's soul with a wink.
The man who had bought her a drink, the one who had been talking her ear off for half hours now trying to get her into the car he had wasted his entire savings on, saw him coming. He tried to keep her attention but it was useless. Even as he bragged loudly about his job and threw out his best lies about trips to Italy the girl's head was turning to the mystery man.
He stood next her, ignoring the empty seat right beside her. She smiled at him, knowingly giving him the rare kind of smile that caused men to declare wars and cheat on loved ones. But he stared back at her with the most uninterested look a man had ever given a goddess.
For her, it wasn't a blow off. It was a challenge, and not one she faced very often.
"Want to buy me a drink?" she asked with a flirty movement of her curvy barely contained form.
The man leaned in close to her and brushed his cheek against hers as he put his lips next to her ear. She felt a shiver go down her spine and between her legs. She was already flustered, already willing to let him ravage her, and he hadn't even spoken yet.
But when he did speak, her knees shook.
"No, I don't," he said in a thick french accent. "I want you to grab the man next to you and rip his throat out with your bare teeth."
She pulled back and looked at him with shock and horror.
"And then I want you to do the same to everyone in this pathetic human prison."
He decided to take the seat next to her finally. He took her drink and started to sip from it as the girl stared forward into nothing. The other man, the one that had been trying all night to do what this stranger had done in one movement, put his hand on her shoulder. He finally saw his chance.
Tonight was going to be his lucky night.
"Screw this creep. Let's get out of here."
The stranger glanced over at her and winked. Without warning the girl grabbed her would be suitor's hand and bit into his wrist, causing him to scream out in agony. She leaped on top of him and bit directly into his jugular, spraying blood on everyone around.
At first people stood around wondering what was going on. It was human nature to be curious and they had all slowed down to watch when they saw a wreck on the side of the road. But once the now feral girl grabbed another patron and bit part of his face off they all ran for the doors.
The man at the bar waved his hand and the doors and windows in the smokey bar all closed and locked themselves. People kicked and punched at them but to no avail. Some kind of supernatural force had turned the plain metal doors into a kind of fortress of bloodshed and death.
Some fended for their lives and tried to fight off the creature that was locked inside with them. Those lucky enough to grab her had their arms torn off outright. Smarter people who had grabbed weapons found their pool sticks impaling them and their stools used to break their heads wide open, spilling shattered bone and brain everywhere.
Those that hid were picked off one by one and torn apart by the ravenous young woman that had come here in her weekly uneventful quest for love and a good time. The girl had come dressed in a sexy mini skirt that she had to occasionally keep pulled down and a midriff baring tank top she occasionally pulled up to show off her flat stomach. Now her clothes were mostly torn off and she was instead adorned in the blood and entrails of the hopeless souls that had come here in the same pursuits.
Everyone was dead. Everyone, that is, except for the stranger that sat quietly at the bar finishing his drink.
The girl, coming down off of whatever kind of spell that had caused her to go savage, looked around at the bloody chaos and was too terrified to even scream.
The stranger stood up and made his way past the shredded corpses on the floor as the song he had put on came to a close.
The girl looked up at him with tears falling from her beautiful blue eyes. He put his finger over his lips, shushing her from the inevitable pity party she was going to throw for herself over what she had done.
"I knew you were special the moment I laid eyes on you. Shall I?" he asked as he held his hand out to her with a charming smile on his handsome young face.
The girl, with probably no real clue as to what he meant, nodded and took his hand. A light shone from behind her eyes and came out of her mouth as she screamed out in excruciating pain. It traveled through her shapely body, down her arm, and into his hand. When it finally faded he let go and allowed her body to slump over on the floor.
Her eyes were burned out of her skull, her tongue was barely there in her mouth and what remained was charred. There was a look of torment on her once lovely young face, a statement about the kind of pain and horror that engraved on her soul that now belonged to him.
A silhouetted figure walked slowly towards the front of the bar, whistling his new favorite song as the doors and windows opened themselves for him. The old neon sign above the door flickered, showing flashes of his chiseled face. He stepped into the blood soaked scene and looked over the sea of death and destruction his minion had created.
"Well played, Misha," Nephrite said with a smile. "Janelle?"
A curvacious woman in a skin tight dress that barely kept her ample breasts covered appeared at his side.
This would get their attention.
Somewhere far away, Mina stood against the sea of stars that surrounded the Moon on all sides. She surveyed the scene of destruction left in the wake of the Dark Kingdom's unholy war against Serenity. The smell of burning flesh and smoldering rubble nearly made her throw up.
"Am I dreaming?" she asked anyone that would answer.
She turned around to see herself staring back at her. But it wasn't exactly her. She looked similar, the eyes were the same, but this version was dressed in a battle maiden's armor. She was older, more mature, and carried in her eyes a soul that was forged in war.
"Am I dead?"
The older one grinned.
The two circled each other. One was dressed in her favorite Union Jack hoodie. It was a symbol of the part of her that held on desperately to her humanity. The other, head to toe in her battle worn armor, kept her right hand on the handle of her holy sword. It was given to her by the queen herself, and was a symbol of her loyalty and bravery in countless wars.
"What do you want from me?" the younger Mina asked.
"Courage. Faith. Things you lack."
"Bloody hell. I'm doing what you couldn't, so don't lecture me. I'm going to save the world!"
"Save the world? You couldn't even protect yourself. You're weak. It is a weakness that comes with youth and arrogance. You're impulsive and destructive."
"And I suppose you know a better way to live? Blind loyalty? Unquestioned devotion? Yeah, believing in that worked out real great for you, didn't it?"
"Maybe," Venus said as she stopped moving. "But at least I believed in something. What do you fight for?"
"Myself," the Brit responded. "I'm not going to make the same mistakes you did. I won't let this happen again."
"You're nothing alone. None of you are. If you can't understand that then you've already lost."
"Sod off," the reluctant fighter said as she turned her back on herself. "I'm not you and I never will be."
Venus smiled warmly at the person she had become.
"No. I suppose not," she said as her image blew away like dust in a wind that couldn't be felt on the silent and still Moon.
Mina opened her eyes slowly. The beeps of the machines that surrounded her had finally called her from her much needed rest. She looked around for the disappointed face of her former life but found only a dark hospital room with Artemis sleeping soundly in a chair nearby.
She climbed out of her bed with surprising ease considering the massive beat down she had suffered at the hands of that monster. She walked slowly to her private bathroom and was shocked to see nary a single wound or bruise on her face. She pulled her hospital gown off and stared at her own nude body with a confused smirk. The giant scar that ran up her torso was gone. Her flesh was as perfect as it had ever been.
The little sneak ditched her hospital gown and put on her bloody clothes from the fight that landed her here. She thought about waking Artemis, but decided it would be nice to get away from him for a little while and take a night off. She hadn't enjoyed one of those in a very long time. Besides, as best as she could remember she had just almost died. She deserved an underage drink or two.
The question of how she was still alive did nag at her though. She screwed up pretty big this time and it almost cost her everything. She had lost so much blood she was sure she was a goner. But she seemed fine now, and not only that but the scars she did have were completely gone. It was like she had been resurfaced like a scratched disc.
She didn't know whether to feel lucky or cursed. Regardless, it was time for a break out to enjoy a moment of peace before resuming her mission.
She hid behind her room door and waited for two nurses to walk away before she would make her big move. Little did she know the casual banter of the two would answer the perplexing questions about her well being and give her a new mission that would solve everything.
"Did you hear about the mystery girl?"
"The one they brought in ripped apart? Did she die?"
"Oh, no, actually the exact opposite. She's completely healed. It's some kind of miracle. Even stranger, some girl who came to visit her fell into a coma at the same time. They've got her in the room down the hall now. I hear she's not doing so well. They called her family not long ago and they're on their way to sit with her. Not sure it will do much good, though. I guess it's better to say goodbye while you can."
"That's terrible to lose your child so mysteriously."
"Yep. I've got to get out of this city. It's getting weirder and weirder by the day. First violent murders, now divine intervention?"
Mina rolled her eyes. It was so easy to create fantastical explanations and overlook the little details that make things the way they are. Still, there could be only one explanation for this turn of events. There was only one power she had ever heard about that could snatch someone away from death, and it didn't belong to God.
It belonged to that damned girl she had sworn to cut down.
The successor to that same cursed bloodline that brought chaos and destruction to whatever planet it was close by. Artemis had tried to keep them apart ever since she touched down in America, but now all of his tricks and sleight of hand was pointless.
It would end tonight.
Mina employed her natural grace and trained stealth techniques to make her way down the hall without garnering any unwanted attention. She had to do this fast and silently before one of the white coats or Artemis could stop her.
While the nurses kept themselves awake with idle chit chat and drowned themselves in cup after cup of coffee, she peered into every room at the sick and dying. She thought to herself about how weak humanity was, and suddenly the immortal lifespan of the moon people seemed even more selfish. So many lived and died painfully while they lived in their castle in the sky. Where was the justice in that?
She found herself at the end of the hall and staring at a pale teenage girl with blonde hair laying motionless. She checked the name on the front door and slid into the darkened room of one Serena Tsukino and shut the door quietly behind her.
She looked over the girl who lay near death in her bed and felt nary a pluck on the strings of her heart. She knew what she had to do for the sake of the world. She told herself it wasn't personal, and even though she knew she was lying to herself murder was nothing she would shed a tear over. She had killed hundreds to get to this point. The ties the two once had were a lifetime away, and one more faceless death wouldn't shatter her soul. It's not like either of them were innocent. Truth be told they were all as much monsters as the creatures they hunted. They were supposed to have died a very long time ago and their reincarnation made them something inhuman.
They were impure.
"Let me start by thanking you for saving me. I'm not entirely ungrateful. I'm sure you would understand why I have to do this," she said softly as she revealed a scalpel she had swiped on her way to her victim.
She walked towards Serena and studied her every intricacy.
"I'm afraid I haven't the time to explain the whole thing to you. Here's the jist. Once upon a time I lived in servitude of your family. For reasons I can't comprehend I died for you and that should have been the end of the story. But somehow your damned mother found a way to force me into slavery once more. I will not wear those chains ever again and the world will not suffer because of your selfishness. So it ends here with me and you. I hope you find peace in death. I hope we both do. Don't feel too bad."
She raised the scalpel high with every intent on shoving it through the young girls heart.
As her hand came down to deliver judgment, someone grabbed her wrist, stopping the blade just inches from Serena's chest.
Mina turned to see Artemis staring back at her with quite possibly the angriest look she had ever seen in her young life.
"Let go of my wrist."
"I'm not letting you kill her. That's not why I brought you here."
"This may be my only chance to save the world, Artemis. Let go!"
"You listen to me!" he said loudly as he aggressively pushed her away.
Mina stumbled back, almost tripping over her own feet. She readied her blade again, this time against her own mentor.
"This girl is the only hope for this world, not you."
"Liar! She had her chance! I'm the savior now!" Mina said as she fought back tears.
"Mina, please. I never told you the entire truth about this girl. I never told you about the blood that runs through her veins. There are some things even I don't understand about her. You just have to trust me. Please, if you can remember any of the feelings you had for me before, just trust me."
"No. Never again! Why are you protecting her? I'm the one who gave up everything! I'm the one who has suffered her whole life for these people and their beautiful lies. How many times are they going to bring me back just to suffer?"
Mina put the blade to her own wrist.
"It's either her or me. You choose who dies!"
"Mina, don't do this."
"Now, Artemis. I'm not fucking around."
Artemis stared blankly at the girl he had mentored through two life times.
In one, they were the best of friends and staunch allies on the battlefield. In secret, she was deeply in love with him, and filled with jealousy over his romance with Luna. She existed to serve Serenity, but she lived for his approval.
In this turn though, he felt like a thief. He had stolen this troubled yet normal girl from her new life and stripped away her humanity piece by piece. Over the past few months he had trained her to be nothing but an emotionless killer in the hopes that they could end the bloody conflict once and for all. He often mentioned her past life to her in the hopes she would remember her warrior ways, but in a lot of aspects he wanted her to keep all of those feelings and attachments buried so it wouldn't cloud their current mission.
It seemed all of his efforts were blowing up in his face at the moment. Would she really force him to make a life or death decision between a woman he's admired and loved his entire life, and this supposed savior who would destroy the darkness once and for all? He knew she would. He had trained her that way.
The two stared at each other in complete silence now.
One heart was broken.
One heart was utterly obliterated.
The next day at school, Lita's thoughts were still turned to Serena. She wanted to be at the hospital with her but couldn't find the courage to explain herself to the girls parents, who were staying vigilantly bedside by their daughter until she woke up. There were too many questions she would have to answer and she couldn't come up with lies quick enough. School was her excuse to get away from all the mystery.
Now she found herself up on the roof, where Serena loved to go, and she watched the world below her come and go during her lunch break.
"Look at this," said Ami, who slid her laptop in front of the sullen girl.
"Can't this all wait? With what happened to Serena, I just... I'm not in the mood."
Ami shook her head.
"We can cry about her later. We don't have the luxury to do it right now. Read the article. It was posted today by the mysterious Mamoru Chiba."
Lita, fighting back the urge to go off on the little bitch again, swallowed her frustration and read the words on the screen. It was a local news article on a murder/suicide that had occurred at one of the town's bars last night that left dozens dead in a very brutal animalistic way.
"They're getting bold."
Ami nodded as she took her laptop back and started scrolling through other stories.
"They're calling us out. So far we've managed to operate in secrecy and keep the truth, as well as ourselves, out of the spotlight. They're changing the game. Killing so many people at once is a frightening new development, and only the alleged killer has any signs of their life force being stolen. Not to mention the killer was a college girl with no history of violence that suddenly went insane and murdered everyone around her. They also found a note at the scene saying it would happen again tonight, and every night after until the 'chosen ones' stopped them."
"It's a set up."
"Of course it is. And our only choices are letting them continue to kill innocent people, or spring their trap and try to stop them."
Lita knew where this was going. She wasn't like Serena and actually enjoyed the violent side of their mission. It helped her get out a long of rage over her screwed up life. Still, with her thoughts drifted to their fallen comrade, who may not have been much of a fighter but brought a sense of hope and togetherness to the group.
"We'll have to go without her."
"We'll recruit the reckless one to help us. Now is a good time to see if the legendary soldier is as good as they told us she was."
"What about Serena?"
Ami shut her laptop and stood up.
"She gets in the way."
Lita glared at her so called friend as the petite Asian left the rooftop to go to her next class.
Serena's parents Kenji and Irene sat quietly in her room watching over their first born. They had got the call not long ago once the girl had been identified by the police and had been by her side ever since. The doctors could tell them nothing about their daughters condition. She was in a deep coma but had no physical injuries and all of their scans came up with absolute zero.
She just laid there as peaceful as anyone has ever been.
A knock from the door garnered the attention of the father, while the mother started hopelessly at her angel.
"Mr. and Mrs. Tsukino? I hope this isn't a bad time."
Standing in the doorway was Rei Hino, still clad in her Catholic school uniform with a silver cross around her thin neck.
"Who are you?"
"I'm sorry to intrude. My name is Rei. Serena and I are...acquaintances. My pastor told me what happened and I was wondering if it would be alright if I prayed with you over your daughter?"
An awkward look came across Kenji's face.
"I'm sorry, Rei. Our family has never been particularly religious."
"It's alright, Kenji," Irene said softly as she continued to watch Serena. "We could use the Lords help now more than ever, miss Rei."
Rei smiled politely as she motioned over to the comatose girls bedside. This was one of Lita's friends, and in her surveillance of the troubled high school student she had discovered the unusual condition of this Serena Tsukino. She decided to take time out from her attempts to understand her visions to offer some old fashioned comfort to a family that needed a miracle.
She looked familiar to Rei, but the raven haired beauty couldn't quite put her finger on where she knew her from. She looked so serene though, as if she was finally at complete peace. It didn't seem like an entirely awful fate considering how awful the world was becoming.
"How long has she been like this?"
"Since last night. She was visiting someone here when she collapsed. The hospital can't tell us much of anything about who she was here for or why she's fallen into a coma. They say nothing is wrong with her. She just won't wake up."
Irene started to cry and buried her face in her husbands chest as he spoke. Every time she was reminded of Serena's condition felt like she was hearing it for the first time.
"Don't worry Mrs. Tsukino. She has the Lord on her side."
Rei knelt down and started a quiet prayer for the oddly familiar face before her. She recited a passage she knew by heart, and meant every word she said. She was unwavering in her faith and hoped that this poor girl would somehow hear her.
Rei unhooked the cross necklace she wore so lovingly and placed it into Serena's hands.
As soon as their skin touched each other a wall of images crushed Rei's mind under their emotional weight. She saw flashes of a school attack, and a great palace on the moon. She witnessed the slaughter of thousands of innocent people, and distinctly heard the sounds of hammering in her head. Pieces of her nightmare came back to her, and the mysterious girl lamenting her failure to save the world suddenly and quite clearly became Serena. She heard the hammering even louder, and saw her savior Jesus Christ having his wrists nailed into a wooden cross. Somewhere in the sea of space she saw Serena crucified on a black crystal cross with a monstrous demon lurking in the blackness behind her.
In her bed, Serena opened her eyes suddenly and whispered "Help me..."
Rei screamed out loud and fell backwards as her legs gave out on her. She wrapped her arms around her legs and buried her face in her knees as she began to cry uncontrollably. Kenji and a group of nurses rushed over to the young girls aid, while Irene's eyes opened wide with disbelief.
Her panicked husband turned around to find a shocking sight. Serena was sitting upright in bed, staring forward blankly.
Kenji and Irene hugged their daughter tightly and smothered her with love and worry. There was no reaction, though. Her eyes were open now, but her condition remained largely unchanged.
From the ground, Rei stared up at the wide eyed motionless teenager with fear. What was that power she felt when she touched her? There was something about her that was both foreign and frightening.
She didn't feel human.
At the doorway in the sea of nurses stood Luna, who had watched the whole scene unfold from the shadows. She also felt the strange power that emitted when the two came into contact with each other, and she sensed something incredible in the Catholic school girl.
It was all coming together now.
She was sure she had found the final piece of the puzzle, but wasn't sure how she could break it to her. They were losing time and didn't have the luxury of letting her discover it all for herself.
Judgment was coming, Luna was unaware of Ami and Lita's plans to face off against the forces of darkness that very night without her or Serena.
Meanwhile, Artemis sat on the roof of the hospital staring out at the horizon of buildings and people going back and forth in their day to day lives. He wondered to himself if he had done this the wrong way, and if maybe he were to blame for Mina's rebellious nature. She was so different from the strong willed warrior he had known so very long ago. She was brash and arrogant now without the sense of honor and righteousness that made her so legendary during the Silver Millennium.
He didn't know who she was anymore. Even worse, he didn't know where she was. She ran from the hospital so fast after their confrontation that he never even had a chance to apologize or try to make her understand. He worried about her now that she was healthy again and mentally unstable. Before she was a violent teenager with an attitude problem. He had no idea what she would become now that she felt her had turned his back on her.
He felt like he needed to give her some space right now, though. The worst thing he could do was act like her estranged father. Right now though, he sure as hell felt like one.
"I'm sorry, Mina. I'm so sorry."
Mina frantically searched through the closet of the motel room she and Artemis had been renting since they touched down in America. She grabbed all the clothing she could and tossed it in a gray duffel bag that sat on the disgustingly cheap bed she had slept on while Artemis took the floor.
He was always a gentleman like that.
The thought did cross her mind for a split second in her frenzy. She smiled briefly at the thought of his companionship, both now and during her previous life. She quickly shook off that feeling though, and resumed her planned escape from all this madness.
She threw her bloody clothes onto the floor and slid on a new pair of panties. She reached for a t-shirt when a noise behind her drew her attention. She put her foot under her sword on the ground and kicked it up into her hand. She spun around and pointed the tip of her blade right at her intruders throat.
Jade stood motionless as he felt the tip cut into his skin a bit. He looked up and down the topless girls body and smirked.
"You humans continue to amaze me."
"I'm going to kill you."
"I could think of worse ways to die. This would be the nicest last sight anyone could ever see."
Mina pushed the sword into his neck more.
"Glad you like the view. Goodbye."
She swung the sword at Jade's neck, but he ducked under before the blade could strike him. Mina readied her sword again and pivoted around in search of her prey. A shirt hit her in the face as Jade appeared behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist and pinned her arms to her chest. He held her tightly against his body to where she could barely move at all.
"Put your clothes on. We need to talk."
He pushed her away, and she readied her blade once more.
"Please. If I wanted to kill you, you'd already be dead. I have a proposition for you."
Mina hesitated, but eventually dropped her guard. She pulled her shirt on and grabbed a pair of jeans from the floor and pulled them over her lacy black underwear. She started packing again while the mysterious young man watched her with a perplexed look on his handsome face.
"Did you hear me, girl?"
"I heard you. I don't care."
Jade laughed out loud as the girls brazenness.
"You don't seem to phased by this at all. So different from the other one."
Mina stopped and turned to face him.
"I am the reincarnation of a great warrior from a long lost kingdom on the moon. I was a normal kid until recently, and now I hunt monsters and kill them so the world won't be swallowed whole by a galactic demon soon. A pervert staring at my tits in a sleazy motel is the most normal thing that has happened to me in months. Not that you'd believe any of that, nor do I care if you do or not. Just stay out of my way."
Jade snapped his fingers and Mina was knocked by an unseen force onto the bed. Realizing this was no ordinary pervert she reached for her sword again to defend herself, but Jade held out his hand and the blade flew to him.
"I learned that from Star Wars. I never realized anything that epic could ever exist. I rather like this world, you know. I would rather not see it destroyed."
Jade threw Mina her sword.
"How would you like to be its savior?"
Mina laid her sword down beside her and sat still.
Jade sat down on the bed next to her and stared into her deep blue eyes. She was remarkably beautiful, and his time on earth had made him more vulnerable to a pretty face. Still, he had quite the tale to tell her and no time for failed romances. His story was one of heroes and villains, warriors and monsters, and the fall of man. He felt the need to play more than hand at once, and while Serena was momentarily useless he would find a new angle.
This girl, with her chaotic heart and overwhelming desire to be the hero, would be the perfect new pawn.
"Where do I begin?"