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About Deviant Jeremy35/Male/United States Group :iconfantasiesunlimited: FantasiesUnlimited
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Complete Displayed Figure Collection by Greyman101 Complete Displayed Figure Collection :icongreyman101:Greyman101 13 4
Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse - Chapter 19
Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse
a Sailor Moon/X-Men crossover
Chapter 19: Day of Decision
Sailor Moon rubbed the bridge of her nose, shutting her eyes tightly as she shook her head in frustration. Upon opening them again, she looked back down at Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus. Just dropped off in their own backyard, wrapped up in yellow-and-black striped metal bars. Luckily for them, their little encounter with Magneto didn’t short out their communicators. Really powerful magnetic fields could do that, right? It didn’t matter. As it was, Sailor Moon was even less willing to dwell on sciencey details than usual. “Tell me, Dr. McCoy… Is wrapping people in metal bars a mutant thing, or is this just some new kink Haruka and Michiru keep trying out?”
“Very funny, Sailor Moon,” grumbled Uranus. Even with the only light afforded coming from the stars and a half-moon, Sailor Moon could see her exasperated face. Neptune’s wasn’t much differen
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Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse - Chapter 18
Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse
a Sailor Moon/X-Men crossover
Chapter 18: Fatal Attractions
With a little more telepathic trickery from Cable, Mamoru got Ami and Mayumi into his car without anyone noticing, then drove them to Meiwa University Hospital. Thanks to the growing darkness afforded by the setting sun, Ami was able to sneak Naru’s mother inside once they arrived. It was also fortunate that, for once, Ami could actually get hold of her mother. Normally, Saeko Mizuno was extremely busy. It was a minor miracle her mother answered the phone at all. Once Ami explained why they needed her, Saeko put all her other plans for the evening on hold to treat Mayumi. She barely knew Mayumi, but her being the mother of a good friend of Ami’s was all she needed to hear.
Ami and Mamoru stuck around, providing assistance as needed while Saeko secretly treated Mayumi in an examination room she set aside, with explicit instructions not to be disturbed. Saeko knew she couldn’t risk
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Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse - Chapter 17
Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse
a Sailor Moon/X-Men crossover
Chapter 17: A Touch of Evil
When Kitty saw what remained of the track crumble and the monorail car plunge, she felt so helpless standing there in midair, and feared the worst. Even with the three of them, they couldn’t act fast enough to get everyone out, and now Logan was trapped on that thing! Hadn’t they been trained to be better than this!? But then, she noticed tendrils of black ooze had wrapped around it, and more were shooting down to further secure the monorail car. Its plunge had stopped, and slowly but surely, it was creeping back up.
“Oh Naru, please… Oh no,” Kitty muttered as she turned back to the crowd. Naru had dug in her heels, quite literally, and anchored herself with even more tendrils. Understandably, everyone had stopped gaping at the girl standing on thin air, and the blue furry guy latching onto the other side of the safety fence with bare feet. While Kitty felt relief that t
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Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse - Chapter 16
Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse
a Sailor Moon/X-Men crossover
Chapter 16: Off the Rails
Rei’s eyes slowly fluttered open as the early rays of dawn crept into her bedroom. This previous night and the last had, mercifully, given the Shinto priestess restful, dreamless sleep. Which was surprising, given all that had happened to the Senshi, and the tough times that doubtlessly lay ahead, despite having new allies. Never mind how said allies proved their worth by locking horns with the Sailor Senshi, battling them all to a standstill. That is, until Usagi and the X-Men’s founder showed up and told them to knock it off.
She still had mixed feelings about Usagi’s arrangement with the X-Men. Their Blackbird was still hidden behind the shrine. One of the most dangerous superhero teams from the other side of the world, practically camping in her backyard. Rei hated to admit it, but she still found that a little disconcerting. Still, in hindsight, getting help from those who fought
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Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse - Chapter 15
Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse
a Sailor Moon/X-Men crossover
Chapter 15: Bridge Building
“So I couldn’t let up, even though I knew you Senshi were hot on my tail,” said Naru, finishing her tale of the night she threw on the disguise that would later get her dubbed Eclipse. “I figured the police in the area might’ve been bribed, so I couldn’t go to them. Even if they weren’t… Why bother? The yakuza are so entrenched everywhere, probably nothing would’ve been done. And I figured if the Sailor Senshi had any interest in stamping out yakuza operations, they would’ve done it already. Besides, I still wasn’t entirely sure Usagi was really Sailor Moon, and even if I was, well… I just wasn’t willing to trust anyone else.” There was the clear, unspoken implication of still feeling Usagi let her down, made her feel left behind. Usagi couldn’t help but feel ashamed. “So since I had these powers, I decide
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Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse - Chapter 14 (2/2)
Sailor Moon looked around at them again. Jupiter was sitting where Storm and Wolverine had been, willing her anxiety down, but Sailor Moon could tell the heartbreak from finding out who she lobbed lightning at was still fresh. Chibi-Moon, Mars and Venus were speaking with Storm and Wolverine, looking quite crestfallen. It was the same story with them. Lastly, she saw Tuxedo Kamen stood beside Xavier and Cable, who still watched over Naru, as if they could somehow sense something despite her resistance to their power. “Professor, the genes Naru received from Nephrite… The power’s quite unlike anything you would have encountered before, and even the Sailor Senshi still don’t fully understand it,” said Tuxedo Kamen. “And the powers she has naturally… Sailor Moon’s put a lot of faith in you, and I’ve always marveled at your work, but can you honestly say you can help her friend?”
“I will do what I can, Mr. Chiba,” said
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Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse - Chapter 14 (1/2)
Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse
a Sailor Moon/X-Men crossover
Chapter 14: The Secret of the Ooze
“The… X-Men?” Naru said softly, almost in a whisper. “Y-Y-Y-You’ve met their leader, you know who he is?”
“Yeah, I sought him out because, well… Like I said, Naru, I have no idea how I’m supposed to help mutants,” said Sailor Moon. The two of them still stood on a skyscraper rooftop, barely a block away from the hotel where Xavier had reserved rooms. So close now, to getting Naru the help she needed and then joining the Senshi at the shipyard. “But he’ll know what to do for you. My dad… He was there when the X-Men first fought Magneto, saw what they could do. They were just teenagers back then too, but they drove him off. Xavier’s trained a mutant who controls the weather, Naru! Think what he can do for you…”
Naru looked uncertain, conflicted. At least her ire from moments before was melting away
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TMNT Arcade - And It Works! by Greyman101 TMNT Arcade - And It Works! :icongreyman101:Greyman101 2 6
Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse - Chapter 13 (2/2)
Chibi-Moon ran from one container stack to another, hoping her small size and constant use of cover would let her slip by. Luna, Artemis and Luna-P tagged along right behind her. Looking up, Chibi-Moon still saw the storm clouds rushing overhead. The seas still churned, and powerful winds carried mist that sprayed everywhere. But for the moment, it looked like Storm herself wasn’t patrolling the skies around the barricade. That was a relief. She was arguably the most powerful of all the X-Men, and perhaps the most dangerous. Still, despite studying the X-Men during history lessons, it was beyond belief how their collective power was more than enough to turn back all of the Sailor Senshi. Hadn’t the Sailor Senshi faced teams of bad guys much tougher than these mutants? What was going on?
Luna echoed her sentiments. “How can this be happening!?” the cat grumbled. “There’s eight Senshi, eight of them watching over the barricade… Even odds, and non
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Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse - Chapter 13 (1/2)
Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse
a Sailor Moon/X-Men crossover
Chapter 13: Clash of Superheroes (1/2)
Gritting her teeth, Sailor Uranus shoved Tuxedo Kamen aside. Fire still flared in her belly from Rogue’s hit. Uranus didn’t immediately realize she had one arm slung across her midsection as she tried to stand without her legs wobbling. Spitting out another wad of blood, she glared over at the mutant team standing between the Sailor Senshi and Eclipse. She wanted nothing more than for the Senshi to charge and unleash everything, smash through that line, but even Uranus knew they had to be wary. As the Senshi of Wind, Uranus could sense the raw power this Storm could unleash through the very air around them. Plus, one couldn’t ignore the lightning crackling around her. Electrical output that equaled what Sailor Jupiter could normally do, at least. It also didn’t help that the X-Men outnumbered them, if only by one.
For the moment, Cable was more focused on keeping Ec
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Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse - Chapter 12
Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse
a Sailor Moon/X-Men crossover
Chapter 12: Collision Course
After having to wait almost half a day for the Inner Senshi to report back from D-Point, Sailor Chibi-Moon thought nothing could try her patience like that again. However, only an hour had passed after the stakeout of the shipyard began, and Chibi-Moon already felt like she was losing her mind. She was only dimly aware that the sun had disappeared in the west, beyond the buildings, as she kept looking through the scope of her rifle. It was handy for looking about the shipyard, scanning for anything fishy, especially from her vantage point. Chibi-Moon lay flat on her belly on a crate suspended by a crane. From here, she could see pretty much the whole shipyard. Ami, Rei and Michiru all had ways that could warn them that Eclipse had arrived, so they all took position down on the ground somewhere. Up here, Chibi-Moon could not only see just about everything, but would have the perfect shot once the oth
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Ninja Turtles Arcade Cabinet by Greyman101 Ninja Turtles Arcade Cabinet :icongreyman101:Greyman101 2 4
Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse - Chapter 11
Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse
a Sailor Moon/X-Men crossover
Chapter 11: Back to School
It wasn’t until the bus started moving that Usagi realized she made another big mistake. After throwing out that question in the auditorium, her scientist self made an impression on everyone there, especially the two X-Men. Given how the X-Men had to deal with a shapeshifter like Mystique, there was a good chance Ororo and Kitty could see through others’ disguises. Even if they didn’t suspect Sailor Moon snuck in there with them, they’d certainly remember the face of someone who put Erina Kizachi on the spot about Sentinels. Luckily, Ororo and Kitty had taken seats up in the front, while in the back, someone had left a newspaper. Usagi made it look like she was reading it, using it to hide her face, all the while peeking out to see where the two mutants would get off.
Unfortunately, being that far away from the two women meant there was no chance to listen in on them again. Usa
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Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse - Chapter 10
Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse
a Sailor Moon/X-Men crossover
Chapter 10: Miserable Piles of Secrets
It was weird, really. The other night, Sailor Moon had no problem tackling three X-Men. Granted, it was with the utmost reluctance, but there hadn’t really been any fear, either. But now, facing Naru again as Sailor Moon for the first time since that night Fish-Eye attacked Umino, Sailor Moon found dread bubbling up within her, though she tried to put up her usual cheerful veneer to hide it. It wasn’t because of Naru’s outrageous strength, should she suddenly go bonkers. After all, Sailor Neptune took a few hits from Colossus and walked away fine. No, it was something else, seeing the hurt beneath that cold stare of Naru’s. A stark contrast with Umino, who simply exuded more anxious exuberance than usual.
“Well, uh, this is certainly a surprise,” said Umino nervously. “Is there, uh, a reason you’re here, Sailor Moon? Should we be getting read
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Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse - Chapter 9
Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse
a Sailor Moon/X-Men crossover
Chapter 9: Shattered Dreams
It took a little more time for some of the Sailor Senshi to get over their shock at the Ginzuishou’s ineffectiveness than others. Sailor Chibi-Moon, in particular, couldn’t quite believe what her own eyes told her, not after growing up hearing about the the Ginzuishou’s power, then using it herself once. As she stood by Sailor Moon, grasping her shoulders as her future mother remained on her knees, shellshocked, Chibi-Moon saw Sailor Venus jump onto a nearby wire fence, then leap toward the roof of the building Eclipse scrambled onto. Venus Love-Me Chain let her latch onto the roof and pull herself up, while Cable nonchalantly used his telekinesis to levitate himself. Chibi-Moon glared at him as he ascended. There was more to this guy than just being one of the toughest mutants around, and she still aimed to find out what.
It wasn’t long before Cable lowered himself back down.
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Sakura Kinomoto by kawaiimiu Sakura Kinomoto :iconkawaiimiu:kawaiimiu 198 10 Sega Master System Memories by SPIDERLAL Sega Master System Memories :iconspiderlal:SPIDERLAL 7 10 The Foreign Quarter Commission by Irulana The Foreign Quarter Commission :iconirulana:Irulana 350 10 X-Men vs Sailor Senshi (com.) by ElynGontier X-Men vs Sailor Senshi (com.) :iconelyngontier:ElynGontier 64 31 Ikuko Regression by bbmbbf Ikuko Regression :iconbbmbbf:bbmbbf 118 11 Noriko's Rampage by Yilx Noriko's Rampage :iconyilx:Yilx 121 4 Super Cafe: Batman v Superman by Magolobo Super Cafe: Batman v Superman :iconmagolobo:Magolobo 248 18 Mech Turtle by Rofelrolf Mech Turtle :iconrofelrolf:Rofelrolf 8,453 487 Esme - commission by doraling12 Esme - commission :icondoraling12:doraling12 147 4 Alm and Celica - Body Swap by ThePontusAndersson Alm and Celica - Body Swap :iconthepontusandersson:ThePontusAndersson 66 24 Witchsona: Aurora by ArtCrawl Witchsona: Aurora :iconartcrawl:ArtCrawl 707 72 [Collab] VD Mia's twintails by Hank88 [Collab] VD Mia's twintails :iconhank88:Hank88 169 61 Supergirl optional NSFW on Patreon by evandromenezes Supergirl optional NSFW on Patreon :iconevandromenezes:evandromenezes 368 25 Manuel Lobato Humanes Favorite Villains by timmybrisbyfan1925 Manuel Lobato Humanes Favorite Villains :icontimmybrisbyfan1925:timmybrisbyfan1925 28 10 Sweet as Sugar by roamingtigress Sweet as Sugar :iconroamingtigress:roamingtigress 24 4 Batman Bomb-Runner Mockup by ItsFlippinFilip Batman Bomb-Runner Mockup :iconitsflippinfilip:ItsFlippinFilip 42 8


Complete Displayed Figure Collection
I moved sometime in 2017, to a place with built-in shelves that provided ample room for my figure collection. So of course I wind up getting even more and space is cramped again. ^^

Marvel heroes: Professor X, Wolverine, Storm, Cable, Shadowcat, Beast, Gambit, Rogue, Colossus, Deadpool, Warpath, Sunfire, Bishop, White Queen, Nightcrawler, Spider-Man, Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Thing, Human Torch, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Iron Man, Doctor Strange
DC heroes: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Robin (Damian Wayne), Supergirl, Big Barda

Marvel villains: Magneto, Mr. Sinister, Apocalypse, Sabretooth, Juggernaut, Toad, Mystique, Blob, Selene, Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Venom, Black Cat, Doctor Doom, Leader, Mandarin
DC villains: Lex Luthor, Doomsday, Joker, Poison Ivy, Bane, Cheetah, Giganta, Sinestro, Captain Cold, Darkseid

Video games:
Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach Toadstool (Popco)
Shyguy (World of Nintendo)
Link (Majora's Mask from Epoch)
Princess Zelda (Twilight Princess from Max Factory)
Samus Aran (Joyride)
Fox McCloud (World of Nintendo)
Celica and Alm (Fire Emblem Gaiden, Amiibo)
Bulbasaur (Tomy)
Palutena (Amiibo)
Solid Snake (MGS2 from McFarlane Toys)
Simon Belmont and Alucard (NECA)
Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Dr. Ivo Eggman Robotnik
Master Chief and Arbiter (Joyride)
Cortana (McFarlane Toys)
Squall Leonhart, Rinoa Heartilly, Irvine Kinneas, Selphie Tilmitt, Zell Dincht, Quistis Trepe, Siren (Final Fantasy VIII from Bandai)
Mega Man (4-Inch Nel) plus Beat
Chun-Li (S.H. Figuarts)

Television, Film & Animation:
Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo, Raphael (Ninja Turtles 2012 from Playmates)
Optimus Prime (Leader class RotF)
Spock, Montgomery Scott and Dr. Bones McCoy (Diamond Select)
Beavis and Butt-Head
Green Ranger/Tommy Oliver (or Dragonranger/Burai if you prefer)
Hikaru Shidou, Umi Ryuuzaki and Fuu Hououji (Magic Knigh Rayearth from Break)
Sailor Mars, Sailor Jupiter, Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune (Sailor Moon from S.H. Figuarts)
Naru Osaka (plushie from Japan) ^^
Darkwing Duck (Funko)
Gadget Hackwrench (Kellogg's mail-away)
Smurfette (Smurfs 2)
Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman and Kenny McCormick (South Park from Mezco)
Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie
Bucky O'Hare
Homer Simpson (Playmates)
Erina Nakiri (Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma)
Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse
a Sailor Moon/X-Men crossover
Chapter 19: Day of Decision

Sailor Moon rubbed the bridge of her nose, shutting her eyes tightly as she shook her head in frustration. Upon opening them again, she looked back down at Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus. Just dropped off in their own backyard, wrapped up in yellow-and-black striped metal bars. Luckily for them, their little encounter with Magneto didn’t short out their communicators. Really powerful magnetic fields could do that, right? It didn’t matter. As it was, Sailor Moon was even less willing to dwell on sciencey details than usual. “Tell me, Dr. McCoy… Is wrapping people in metal bars a mutant thing, or is this just some new kink Haruka and Michiru keep trying out?”

“Very funny, Sailor Moon,” grumbled Uranus. Even with the only light afforded coming from the stars and a half-moon, Sailor Moon could see her exasperated face. Neptune’s wasn’t much different.

“Seriously, this is ruining the image I had of you two,” said Sailor Moon, putting her hands on her hips. “That’s three times some of the Inner Senshi needed to come bail you out. Keep it up, though. Soon, we’ll finally be even.”

“Fine, fine,” hissed Neptune. “Can someone just get these bars off of us?”

Sailor Moon looked to her left and her right. Standing on either side were Naru and McCoy. Naru decided to come with her and Chibi-Moon, bounding clear across the city via rooftops, when Uranus sent out her call for help. She just wanted out of her house, saying her family’s obvious unease was too much. Professor Xavier was evidently keeping an eye on her family, since they soon came across McCoy, heading toward their house in a similar fashion.

Sailor Moon shrugged her shoulders while shoving her open hands forward, staring at them with an impatient look. Getting the hint, McCoy and Naru stepped forward. Naru knelt down, making short work of Neptune’s bindings. It took a little more effort on McCoy’s part to free Uranus. The Outer Senshi slowly stood, flexing their muscles after being bound up for well over an hour.

“There. Now that you’re free, care to explain just what possessed  you to try breaking into Kizachi’s building alone, when you knew damn well she’d have countermeasures ready?” demanded Chibi-Moon, folding her arms.

“Because sitting around on our butts while Kizachi’s plans go forward was an even worse idea,” said Uranus.

“Besides, we had reason to suspect Magneto was behind that monorail accident,” added Neptune.

“Magneto? He made that train nearly topple? Why?” demanded Naru, incredulous.

“To coax you into revealing your powers in public, why else?” said Uranus. “What better way to make recruitment more appealing than arranging events so plenty of people turn on you?”

“And did Magneto readily admit to this deed?” asked McCoy.

“He didn’t take credit, but he didn’t exactly deny it either,” said Neptune. “Magneto being here in Tokyo is bad enough, but he’s brought backup. The big bruiser Sabretooth and that shapeshifter Mystique were with him and Kizachi. Who knows how many more of the Brotherhood tagged along?”

“We were handling those two,” Uranus said quickly. “But then Magneto blindsided us and changed everything.”

Sailor Moon could see that yet another defeat at the hands of mutants weighed on Uranus and Neptune. And unlike before, these mutants truly were enemies of the Sailor Senshi. Magneto’s arrival in Japan seemed like a small, yet horrifying, possibility when this mess first started. This changed everything. He was here in Tokyo, right now. He could strike again anytime, and he already made short work of two of the toughest Senshi.

Little wonder people can get so worked up over mutants, Sailor Moon admitted to herself. Her gaze drifted to Naru, who had an odd, anxious look on her face. What was on her mind right now? Something told Sailor Moon this was hitting home far harder than it should have.

“You two are right about one thing,” said Sailor Moon. “There’s no taking Magneto lightly. So I hope this means you two don’t do something this stupid again!”

“Hey, don’t yell at us,” barked Neptune. “Storm tried to break in by herself, don’t forget.”

“While in constant telepathic contact with Nathan, with both Logan and Kitty acting as lookouts,” McCoy pointed out. “And Ororo pulled back when it looked like there would be too little potential gain when faced with such uncertainty and risk. It was a coordinated effort, and they were willing to call it off, and opposed to charging in blindly without a clue as to what Erina Kizachi had up her sleeve.”

“Now we have an idea, at least,” said Uranus.

“That’s for sure. Now we know Magneto’s right here in the city,” said Chibi-Moon. “AND he knows who we all are, something we couldn’t say about the Death Busters or the Dead Moon Circus. Which makes it even more important the two of you don’t go riding off like a couple of goddamn cowboys yet again, especially when we’ve got friends who know how to fight him!”

The others were a bit stunned by the little girl’s vehemence, even Sailor Moon. “Yeah, what she said,” was all she could say, pointing at her future daughter.

“Yeah, they’ve done a bang-up job so far,” growled Uranus. “I mean, if Cable’s such a powerful telepath, how come he doesn’t just rip the information we need right from Kizachi’s swelled head!?”

“Nathan has already tried, naturally,” said McCoy. “However, she seems to have some countermeasure against mutant telepathy. It was one reason the X-Men also suspected Kizachi was Eclipse for a time. Now we believe she’s come up with some technological defense yet unknown to us.”’

The mention of her Eclipse identity made Naru look uneasy once more, and she finally spoke up again. “Anyway, if you want, I’ll gladly go pound some answers out of them. This Sabretooth guy doesn’t sound too tough…”

“Magneto is another matter altogether, Ms. Osaka,” said McCoy quickly. “As the professor said, you haven’t been trained. The techniques the X-Men and Sailor Senshi have both perfected to utilize teamwork would be essential to bringing down Magneto.”

“Besides, if Uranus and Neptune are right about Magneto wanting you, it’s best you say far, far away from him,” said Sailor Moon. “You should just…”

A sudden crackling noise, accompanied by the stench of ozone, silenced Sailor Moon. There was a bright flash of light, and when she looked to it, she saw Cable standing there, in full uniform.

“Where’d HE come from!?” demanded Chibi-Moon.

“I call it a ‘bodyslide’, Chibiusa. Basically the same as teleportation,” said Cable quickly.

“I thought we agreed with the feedback your techno-organic components suffered after Sailor Moon’s attack, using that functionality would be less than prudent,” said McCoy delicately. Sailor Moon looked anxiously at the ground. She didn’t need reminders of how viciously their two teams fought before, not when the Sailor Senshi might need them against Magneto.

“A risk that has to be taken, Hank,” said Cable, shoving a box in McCoy’s arms. Sailor Moon could see that it was a medical kit. “Trouble at the jewelry store. It’s Naru’s mother. She needs help, now.”

“What!? What’s going on!?” demanded Naru. “No, wait… Just ‘bodyslide’ me back there with you, NOW!” Cable simply nodded, slinging his arms around Naru and McCoy’s shoulders.

“I’m coming too!” cried Chibi-Moon. “Maybe I can turn Luna-P into something Dr. McCoy can use.”

“Then come on, fellow partner in time,” Cable quipped. Chibi-Moon just growled at him as she grabbed hold of his leg along with Luna-P. “I’ll come back for the rest of you, especially since Haruka and Michiru’s options for transportation are now more limited.” With that, energy crackled around Cable, and the four of them vanished in a flash of light.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” demanded Uranus.

Sailor Moon grimaced. “Well, after you sent out that S.O.S., Minako kind of… volunteered to go ‘retrieve’ the dirtbike you rode over to Kizachi Technologies.” That’s when Sailor Moon heard a sound she’d never expect to come from Sailor Uranus: a pitiful whimper.

Thankfully, Cab le returned a moment later to ‘bodyslide’ the three of them into the OSA-P. It felt like she was getting sunburned, though the whole process wasn’t quite as intense as using the Sailor Teleport. When the blinding light faded, Sailor Moon realized they were in the back rooms of the jewelry store, no doubt so the light didn’t alert any cops outside. Cable motioned for the Senshi to follow him, but not upstairs or onto the showroom floor, but toward the kitchen.

When they walked in, that was when Sailor Moon saw Mayumi Osaka lying on the floor. Dr. McCoy already had equipment out, tending to her, while Sailor Mercury knelt beside them, furiously typing at her computer while scanning Mayumi. All the while, Naru was sobbing. Storm held her close, trying to comfort her, though of course she couldn’t hold Naru in place if she wished to break free.

“What happened here!?” demanded Neptune. “I thought you X-Men were keeping an eye on this place!”

“It musta been while the place was empty, after she took a brick to the head,” came Logan’s voice. Neptune and Uranus turned to see that Logan was hanging back in the shadows. “Someone slipped some sort of toxin into their food.” He pointed at the floor. That was when Sailor Moon saw a carton lying on it, its contents spilled. “I heard something funny going on soon after I relieved Kitty, so I busted in and saw this, then sounded the alarm.”

Mercury ceased her scans, though her visor was still on, and was now actively assisting McCoy. First she has to help her mother patch up Naru’s, and now this!? Sailor Moon thought angrily. Whoever poisoned their food must’ve been trying to get to Naru, but hurt her mother instead! Humans hurting their own kind, because of their hatred for mutants!? When would this end!? “B-B-But you found out just in time, Logan! That means Ms. Osaka’s gonna be just fine, right!?”

“I hope so, Sailor Moon,” said Mercury. “My scans don’t paint a pretty picture. Whatever was slipped into the juice carton is interacting with the medicines my mother gave her, exacerbating the effects.”

“Then we’ve got to get her back to a hospital!” roared Naru, finally shoving Storm off of her. Storm grunted as she got slammed into a wall. “What you’ve got here isn’t cutting it! We’ve got to…”

“I’m sorry, Naru, but… It’s too late,” said Mercury suddenly, sobbing. “She’s gone into cardiac arrest, and… there’s no hope of reviving her. She’s… gone.” McCoy grabbed Mayumi’s limp wrist to feel for a pulse, and shook his head, confirming what Mercury said.

Sailor Moon couldn’t believe what she was hearing. How could the hits keep coming for Naru like this!? And now the Sailor Senshi and the X-Men were working together! Between their two teams, they had to be able to do SOMETHING! ANYTHING!

“No, you’re LYING! NO!” Naru shrieked, effortlessly shoving aside Mercury and McCoy. She cradled her mother’s lifeless body in her arms, sobbing uncontrollably. Sailor Moon couldn’t even begin to imagine what Naru was going through. Being stomped on like this so cruelly, continuously, all culminating into this!? What was there Sailor Moon could do now? What was there to say?

“Naru, please understand, if there was something we could do…” Uranus began.

“I did everything I could, Naru,” said McCoy. “Y-Y-You were fortunate to have such a loving mother. I wish I could’ve…”

“Oh, SAVE IT!” Naru roared, shoving McCoy aside again, storming out toward the showroom, sobbing still. Despite having no clue what to do for her friend now, Sailor Moon didn’t hesitate to follow.

“Naru, we’ll find whoever did this, I promise you!” Sailor Moon called out after her. Naru had stopped in the middle of the showroom, shaking as she continued to sob. “Logan and Cable will be able to sniff them out.”

“A fat lot of good that’ll do my mom now,” hissed Naru, her back turned to Sailor Moon. “They were all too late to act, just like you were!”

“Just like… What’re you talking about Naru?” asked Sailor Moon anxiously.

“NEPHRITE!” roared Naru, rounding on her. “You Senshi were too late to do anything for him! And now both you AND the X-Men were too late to do anything for my mother!”

“Naru, you make it sound like Sailor Moon intentionally held back, purposely didn’t act fast enough,” said Storm calmly, stopping beside Sailor Moon. “You two have known each other for a long time. Can you honestly believe that?”

“What am I supposed to think, then!?” demanded Naru angrily. “She’s saved so many people, but the only ones she’s failed so miserably were two people I was closest to!”

“Naru, I’m not trying to minimize your loss, but please…” Storm began.

Naru still wasn’t having it. “She didn’t care I was a mutant! How many mutant kids can say that about their mothers!? She was one of the few I could rely on, and now she’s been taken away! And you people have no idea who did it!” As she ranted, Sailor Moon could see and hear dark power crackling all over Naru. Clearly, her oil slick wasn’t the only power closely linked with her turbulent emotions.

More people walked out into the showroom, hoping to calm Naru down. Logan was actually bold enough to step toward her, without hesitation. “Well, it ain’t Magneto, and it ain’t Erina Kizachi,” he said, sniffing. “But I don’t care if it’s some random asshole or some yakuza jackass or some Brotherhood dope we haven’t seen yet. I’ll be…”

“Oh just SHUT UP!” shrieked Naru, backhanding Logan hard. Hard enough to send him flying into a display case clear across the store. That was hardly the end of it. Tendrils of her oily sludge and bolts of black lightning shot out all across the store, smashing apart more cases and taking out chunks of the walls. All the while, Naru wailed in anger and sorrow as her powers raged out of control.

Uranus tackled Storm to the floor, just as a blast of dark energy sailed over them. Others weren’t so lucky. One blast knocked Cable down before he could get a telekinetic barrier up, while tendrils splattered onto Neptune and Chibi-Moon, pinning them against a mangled display case. Sailor Moon peeked out from behind another, having no idea what to do. What COULD she do? Use the power of Sailor Moon on her friend again? Naru already bore an ugly scar from the first time she unknowingly did so. The thought of resorting to that again…

Luckily, Sailor Mercury had a better option. McCoy covered her, shielding her from a writhing tendril as she shouted “Shabon Spray!” Blinding, icy fog engulfed the showroom, making Naru gag and sputter. More importantly, it weakened her oil slick, letting Neptune and Chibi-Moon slip free.

It also bought time for Cable to recover. As Naru whipped tendrils around to dispel the fog, Cable snuck up behind her and raised a hand. Suddenly, Naru stopped in her tracks, gagging and coughing as she clawed at her face. But no, her fingers weren’t even touching her face! It took a moment for Sailor Moon to realize what Cable was doing. A telekinetic barrier right around Naru’s head, cutting off her air. In her shock, she couldn’t muster quite enough strength to punch her fingers through it. Eventually, after long, torturous moments, Naru sagged to her knees, then hit the floor. The dark energy abated, and her oil slick slowly receded into her body.

“Well, things just took a swell turn this evening,” grumbled Cable as he telekinetically levitated Naru’s unconscious form off the floor. “Osaka will be harder than ever to reach and reason with, and we’ve got another mystery on our hands that needs solving yesterday.”

“Spoken like a true tactician,” sputtered Chibi-Moon as she wiped what gunk remained off of her. “She’s just lost her mother! Doesn’t that matter to you!? To any of you!?”

“More than you’ll ever know, darlin’,” said Logan as he picked himself up. Thanks to that metal skeleton and healing power of his, no doubt he’d weather Naru’s blow just fine. “We’ve taken hard hits before, lost some people. But we also gotta make sure this is the end of it. That no one else suffers because of whatever Magneto and Kizachi are stirrin’ up.”

“In any case, this will DEFINITELY alert any police outside. And soon they’ll realize Naru was here, thanks to the ooze,” Uranus pointed out. “We’ll have to discuss what comes next later, after we’ve cleared out.”

“Since Cable apparently can’t bodyslide everyone out at once, I’d suggest anyone who can fly or jump across rooftops do so. Now,” added Neptune.

“I’ll provide cover this time,” said Storm, her eyes turning white. Sailor Moon looked outside, and saw that a thick fog had suddenly enveloped the street. Getting the hint, she walked over to Naru and let Cable drop her in her arms. She followed the other Senshi to the roof, while Storm and McCoy followed her. Cable and Logan stayed behind, possibly to find as many clues as they could before they had to flee. Hopefully they would find Mayumi Osaka’s murderer soon. Sailor Moon glanced down at the unconscious girl in her arms as the Senshi and McCoy hopped from rooftop to rooftop. Why was all this happening to Naru? She wanted to reach her friend so badly, but one tragedy after another threatened to tear them apart, possibly forever.

“Gai, you UNMITIGATED FOOL! This could ruin EVERYTHING!” Erina screeched. She darted across her hidden office in an eyeblink to grab her nephew’s collar, slamming him against a shelf. He looked astonished that such a little woman had the strength to shove him around. Even more galling was how he just looked astonished period. All those years trying to look out for him as he got deeper and deeper into yakuza business, knowing he was pushing the limits of her patience. Tonight, Gai may have finally pushed her past that limit. “Mayumi Osaka wasn’t supposed to die! You were supposed to slip a toxin in their food that would debilitate her. Make her daughter think random humans were behind it, but not KILL her outright!”

“Hey, I can read labels and look at books to see what drugs do!” Gai protested, still too astonished to pry his aunt off. “What I slipped in that carton shouldn’t have been enough to kill her!”

“On its own, no!” roared Erina. “But your choice of poison interacted with the medicine Sailor Mercury’s mother gave Osaka! Any physician worth her salt would’ve prescribed something after a patient took a blow like that! Goddamnit, even the head injury itself could’ve caused your poison’s affects to be amplified! You should’ve come to me once we learned Osaka required a hospital visit! We’ve been planning each step of this operation meticulously for over a year, Gai, and you chose THE WORST POSSIBLE TIME to get sloppy! No wonder you got a finger chopped off, if this was the quality of your work with your old crowd!”

“How does this set us back, Aunt Erina?” asked Gai delicately. “Wolverine’s never had a whiff of me, so he can’t match my scent from their kitchen. And it’s not like his buddy in the wheelchair can read your mind and figure out it was us.”

Erina pulled away a little, eyeing the shelf she shoved Gai against. There, still writhing around in glass containers, where what remained of Telulu and Viluy, her one-time assailants. Better than eye-for-an-eye revenge. Just as they had been about to leave her for dead, so had the Sailor Senshi done with them, giving Erina a chance to collect what housed the last bits of their essence.

The monstrous plant that fused with Telulu right before detonation, the nanomachines that went rogue and devoured Viluy alive… Erina had put their work to good use. Now, in death, those two Death Busters served her. By reverse-engineering Viluy’s nanomachines and combining them with Telulu’s bio-engineered plant cells, she had a means of surreptitiously screening out telepathic intrusion. Not just for her and her nephew, but just about all of her staff, with them none the wiser.

“So yeah, in my old line of work, sometimes folks who don’t need killing wind up dead anyway. Sad fact of life,” Gai went on. “Anyway, I don’t see what the big deal is. There’s a difference between your flip-outs that involve your work, and the ones that involve something personal. This is more like the latter. Why? You hardly ever saw Mayumi Osaka. Besides, we’ve been spending nearly over a year conspiring to make her daughter’s life a living hell. Looking like poison nearly killed her, poison actually killing her, what’s the difference?”

“You DAMN WELL know what the difference is!” Erina shrieked, spinning around and throwing Gai to the ground. “A mother who wouldn’t forsake her mutant child… That’s as much a rarity in Japan as it is in the rest of the world! This was sloppy work, Gai, and I DO NOT TOLERATE sloppy work!”

“Nor do I, but in this case, for slightly different reasons,” came a cold voice from the ladder. Erina had heard that voice many times without feeling a shiver of fear, unlike so many other Homo sapiens. This time, however, there was cause for concern. Gai was right in that Mayumi Osaka’s death wouldn’t disrupt HER plans too much, but Lehnsherr’s plans were another matter. “Making it look like some random Homo sapien, acting on blind hatred, targeted her family was supposed to nudge young Osaka ever so closer into my fold. But now, there’s no telling what direction the death of her mother may push her in.”

Erina slowly turned to face Lehnsherr. He still had on the coat from either, and he wasn’t alone. Erina bristled when she saw Mystique was with him, but otherwise succeeded in keeping her emotions – fear mixed with annoyance – in check. A minor miracle, given how her nephew had taxed her patience yet again.

“It’s too soon to know how this will affect Naru Osaka’s decisions,” said Erina evenly. “If anything, this will drive a bigger rift between her and the Sailor Senshi than ever before…”

“Revenge against the Sailor Senshi is your aim, Kizachi,” Mystique cut in. “I could certainly care less about your vendetta, and I suspect Magneto feels the same,” she added dangerously with an evil smirk.

No, not the Senshi as a whole. Just Usagi Tsukino. Hurting the rest is simply an efficient means to further hurt her as well, Erina thought to herself. Out loud, she said, “But this also drives a wedge between Naru Osaka and the X-Men. In her eyes, they failed her mother as much as the Senshi did.”

“Still, this is an extreme emotional shock to Osaka, which will make her decisions unpredictable,” said Mystique.

“It is true that she’s now far less likely to accept my old friend’s offer,” said Lehnsherr. “That’s a small comfort, however, if she spurns our offer as well. So much relies on the people of Japan seeing Naru Osaka join us. A girl who had everything a human could want. A loving family, wealth, prestige, being admired by all around her. Only for that ideal life to fall apart upon discovering she’s part of the next phase of evolution, and showing the rest of Japan’s mutants there’s only one path to choose.”

“Which you know is the same thing I want, Lehnsherr,” said Erina testily. Mystique shot her a dubious look, but Erina ignored her completely.

“And now, thanks to your nephew’s incompetence, all that is in jeopardy,” said Lehnsherr. “As you said, Mayumi Osaka had more sense about her than most other human women. I would have gladly made a place for her on Asteroid M. But now, her daughter has one less reason to join us.”

“But still, a very good reason remains,” said Erina, raising a finger to Lehnsherr’s face. “Her mother wasn’t the only human close to her, remember? There’s still her boyfriend, Gerio Umino. With any luck, this unforeseen turn of events will goad her into taking action to safeguard the only human left in her life that matters.”

“You didn’t build your company and get this far by relying on luck,” spat Mystique. “Naturally, we don’t either.”

“I’m simply saying all is not lost, Darkholme,” Erina shot back. “Can either of you honestly see Naru going with the X-Men after seeing her mother die on Wolverine and McCoy’s watch? And now, who else is there for her to turn to? You’ve already made the pitch to her, Darkholme. We’ll all just have to be patient, wait and see if Naru bites.”

“All good points, Kizachi,” Lehnsherr relented. “It’s true that you’ve manipulated events quite adroitly on your end. So we shall wait and see. And perhaps, like you’ve suggested, events have been steered down a certain path for so long, there may be no chance of a radical course change. Still, I’d be lying if I said this turn of events hasn’t eroded my faith a little.” With that, Lehnsherr cast a withering glance Gai’s way. Erina could feel the chill going down her nephew’s spine.

“Let me worry about making sure my nephew doesn’t screw up anything else,” said Erina dryly. “Trust me, I’ve had half a lifetime to practice that delicate art.”

“But not perfect it, obviously,” Mystique snarled. “Honestly, I don’t see why we need to keep up this dog and pony show, Kizachi.”

“Because the Sentinels that Masato Sanjoin wanted me to build without Beryl knowing may yet serve your boss’s interests instead,” said Erina.

“Delightful woman, from what I’ve heard of her,” said Lehnsherr sarcastically. “And you’ve always said her hasty decisions when a minion failed her contributed to her ultimate downfall. So let’s avoid doing anything hasty… Raven,” Lehnsherr finished, glancing over at the shapeshifter. Mystique merely folded her arms, glaring at them.

Erina fought to not let out a sigh of relief. Lehnsherr still saw reason. That had never been a certainty, especially when she first sought out the Master of Magnetism. Erina had studied all the reports about the dreaded Magneto closely, but of course, being written by fellow humans terrified of what they didn’t understand, their veracity was in doubt. Was the real Erik Lehnsherr even more unhinged and bloodthirsty than the newspapers made him out to be? Or could he be bargained with if you made an inviting enough offer, even if you were just another Homo sapien?

Fortunately for Erina, the truth was closer to the latter. Lehnsherr was far more complex than she could have ever imagined, but like anyone else, he would respond to a big enough incentive. Upon realizing they were on the same page in so many ways, Lehnsherr agreed to her offer, albeit with a good deal of skepticism.

But as time went on, Erina proved herself deserving of his trust, her nephew’s screwup notwithstanding. Thus, Erina had the powerful ally she needed to counter the Sailor Senshi. Her Sentinels alone, masterpieces as they were, were no foolproof guarantee, as proven by that field test.

That would probably be crucial. No doubt the collective wrath of the X-Men and the Sailor Senshi would come down on her, and soon. But in a way, she welcomed it. Erina had no real plans for what came after their scheme finally reaching fruition. Her life already ended some time ago, not just the sham her marriage had become. So let those horribly naïve superheroes try to take her out, it didn’t matter. All that mattered was that she would go out knowing she had done the impossible, something so many failed at: crushing Sailor Moon’s heart beyond all repair.

Silence. Welcoming, comforting silence. It was what Naru let herself wallow in for over a day, after returning home to see her mother lying dead on the floor, the Sailor Senshi and X-Men too late to do anything. Not even a chance to say goodbye after that incident with the monorail. Having to lay low, move from one spot to the next, unable to risk going back to the OSA-P. These last few months, it was as if the world was determined to break her down until there was nothing left. And now, at last, Naru thought that moment had come.

She risked everything, exposing herself as a mutant, to save total strangers on that monorail. And put the fear of God into countless yakuza operatives before that. And what was her reward? Being turned into a pariah, left to bury her mother.

Why did this keep happening? So many times, after having her heart stomped on, things seemed to get better, the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, only to have it ripped out again. Nephrite died in her arms after protecting her, but then she found love again with Umino, only to have everything threatened again by rising anti-mutant hysteria. Both the X-Men and the Sailor Senshi backed off when they learned the truth, the former even making a generous offer to her and Umino, only for calamity to strike again and have the life she knew completely stolen away.

According to the X-Men and the Sailor Senshi, though, Magneto was responsible for the monorail accident. Ami even claimed she had proof. But it didn’t matter. Something would have happened even without Magneto, outing her as a mutant. Naru knew she was delaying the inevitable this whole time. But to lose her mother, probably because of hateful humans trying to get at her!?

It was just too much. And now, at least for the time being, it caused Naru to completely shut down. The X-Men and the Sailor Senshi mostly kept their distance. Not angry with how she lashed out, but also unwilling to pry her out of her shell, which suited her fine. So she hardly said a word to any of them, and hardly ate a thing, despite the black hole for protein that was her stomach growling in protest.

So she sat in silence in Rei’s room at her family’s temple, clad once again in shorts, leggings and a black leotard. Her grandfather and Yuuichirou were about to go off on a days-long training retreat, essentially giving the Sailor Senshi and X-Men free reign of the shrine. They were blissfully unaware of the X-Men camping in their backyard, but did know about Naru. Rei’s grandfather didn’t care one bit, though. At least there was one other human who wasn’t terrified of her. Even if it was just because he was always a sucker for any pretty face, regardless of what her DNA looked like.

Yuuichirou was a different story. “Rei, you sure it’s a good idea to stay here alone with, well…” Naru could hear him say right outside the door. She clenched her fists in her lap. Even after all his time here, was he unaware how thin these walls were!?

“We’re NOT going through this again,” said Rei defiantly. “Grandpa says she can stay, so that better be good enough for you. Now get going!” she finished, eager to be rid of him.

Naru heard Yuuichirou shuffle out of the shrine, only for someone else to walk in. A woman, evidently, judging by the clicking of heels. “Reluctant acceptance… I guess that’ll have to suffice from him,” Naru heard Michiru say.

“A pity Naru can’t stay the whole time they’re gone,” said Rei. “We have to keep moving her, throw off the authorities. After finding her mother’s dead body as the OSA-P, the police are stepping things up. They searched Usagi’s place this morning, and it’s a safe bet they’ll move on to the homes of her friends.”

“Haruka and I will take her next, then,” said Michiru. “No one suspects our connection to Naru.”

“In the meantime, we have to step things up ourselves,” said Rei. “You and Haruka had the right idea. No more piddling around with Kizachi and her allies.”

“Tell me about it. This whole mess is having repercussions on a global scale,” said Michiru. Naru heard the ruffling of a newspaper. “Japan is being excoriated in the foreign press. The Daily Bugle had its entire editorial column stuffed with pieces chewing us for villainizing someone who saved total strangers, and letting her mother die in the aftermath. And when you’ve lost the editor with a vendetta against Spider-Man…”

“I guess Americans can’t stand having a mirror thrown in their faces. The same thing happens over there,” Rei pointed out. “We can’t be too judgmental ourselves, though. Logan did say something about a lawyer over there trying to get clearance to practice internationally, so she can get Naru off. Jennifer Walker, or something like that…”

“Assuming Naru simply doesn’t choose to go to Xavier’s school with Umino,” said Michiru. “Which reminds me, I need to know where he lives. He’ll likely be the next target, of either Kizachi or vengeful yakuza members…”

Naru’s eyes widened. She had been so consumed with grief over losing her mother, she hadn’t considered anyone going after Umino. It was just… unthinkable. She had lost so much, but to lose the boy who loved her unconditionally, who would follow her anywhere!?

Naru waited patiently for the sound of Rei and Michiru’s footsteps to die away. Once she was certain they were out of earshot, she fished out the communicator Mystique gave her.

For many long moments, she stared at it again. So what if Magneto purposely outed her? It just showed how she couldn’t trust any normal humans besides Umino. Almost all of them saw her as their enemy. They turned on her despite saving some of their number, vandalized her mother’s store and then KILLED her! Now Umino was all she had left! And Rei was right about how this sort of thing happened in every country. She and Umino wouldn’t be safe anywhere on Earth!

But on Asteroid M? That was a different story.

With tears in her eyes, Naru stood up and pressed the button.

“Naru, dear? Is that you?” came Mystique’s voice, sounding scratchy thanks to the communicator. She asked that so sweetly. “I heard about your mother. My condolences. I assume this means you’re considering our offer?”

“Does this offer still include getting Umino on Asteroid M, where no other Homo sapiens can touch him?” Naru demanded.

“I’ll let you lay down your conditions with Magneto himself, as promised,” said Mystique.

“So Magneto’s here in Tokyo, just like everyone’s been saying?” asked Naru dubiously.

“And he’s ready to meet you, Naru. Whatever conditions you want met before joining his cause, he’s willing to listen,” said Mystique.

Naru took a deep breath. If she did this, there was no going back. But what was there to go back to? She was already a wanted fugitive. More importantly, Umino was all she had left. The Sailor Senshi failed Nephrite, and now they and the X-Men failed her mother. She had no choice but to ensure Umino’s safety herself. “Then name the time and place,” Naru said coldly, her mind made up. “I’ll slip out sometime tonight, and… YAAAHHHH!”

Naru screamed upon seeing a hand shoot RIGHT THROUGH HER CHEST, grabbing the communicator. It was still in her fingers when the hand pulled back, though, but now it was sparking and sputtering.

It took a moment for Naru’s mind to register what just happened. She nervously turned around, seeing Kitty standing there, with a fierce look that made Naru’s blood run cold. “I can’t believe you were about to do that, Naru,” Kitty spat icily. “The whole day I spent with you, trying to be your friend, getting to know you… I truly thought you’d be incapable of a decision like this! We all thought so! That’s why we didn’t do anything until just now, when the Blackbird picked up a weak comm signal!”

“Y-Y-You knew Mystique talked to me!?” Naru spluttered incredulously. “H-H-How!? No one can read my mind!”

“No one had to. Cable could peer into Mystique’s, plus we have Logan’s nose,” Kitty said frostily. “We knew almost as soon as Raven approached you, but no one said anything. With everything Usagi said, with the time the X-Men spent with you… We just couldn’t believe you’d ever consider joining a maniac like Magneto!”

“That was before my mother died on your watch!” Naru snarled. She threw a punch, but it sailed right through Kitty. Kitty folded her arms as more punches passed harmlessly through her. Naru tried one more time, only for Kitty to go solid again, duck under her swing, and hurl her over her shoulder. Naru collided with the far wall, but sprang back up, eyeing Kitty angrily as dark power crackled in her fists.

“Do I have to phase you into some solid walls like I did Makoto to get through your thick skull!?” Kitty spat, unimpressed. “Joining Magneto’s a road to nowhere, Naru. I can’t let you…”

“No, Kitty,” came a commanding voice. The door to Rei’s room slid open, revealing Ororo. Nathan, Logan, Rei, Michiru and Dr. McCoy were right behind her. The faces of the other mutants were unreadable, but Rei’s betrayed heartbreak while Michiru simply looked disappointed. “This is not how we do things, and you know it. We have no right to demand anything of Naru, to make decisions for her. If Naru ultimately chooses to follow Magneto’s path, we cannot stand in her way.”

“You can’t?” asked Naru, flummoxed. From what time she spent with the X-Men’s leader, Naru would have expected Kitty’s current antics from her. Fortunately that wasn’t the case, because Storm was the one X-Man in Japan who could stop her cold, quite literally.

Kitty was still mutinous. “Come on, Ororo! This is EXACTLY what Magneto’s been working toward, working Naru up so she makes a horrible mistake!”

“Kitty, do not talk about Naru as if she’s not even here,” Ororo scolded. “She has been through a great deal. We cannot be so dismissive of her loss, not when we’ve suffered terrible losses of our own.” Then she turned to Naru, her face softening a little. “But Naru, before you make your final choice, I ask only one thing of you…”

After so many years, it invariably came back to this. A never-ending game of chess with his old friend Erik. Unable to reconcile their differences, always struggling to thwart the other, scrabbling for whatever pawns they could. That harsh reality was a bitter pill Charles Xavier was forced to swallow time and again. Both of them were always scouring the globe for new recruits, both of them thinking they had the most to offer young mutants with emerging powers. Xavier was determined to provide a nurturing environment with his school where his students would feel accepted, not feared, while Erik sought to gear them up for a battle for survival. And at the end of the day, with training his most capable recruits in the Danger Room, Xavier’s aims weren’t too different from Magneto’s.

Still, there were profound differences between himself and his old friend. Things he had to make Naru Osaka aware of before she chose what path to follow. Xavier desperately wished it wouldn’t come to this. Yet like Ororo, he knew he had no right to force his will on the young mutant. Furthermore, Xavier couldn’t, even if he wished to. For reasons that still eluded him, mutant telepathy had no effect on the girl. That made it doubly necessary to resort to this, as stomach-churning as it would be.

And not just for Naru. Shortly after Kitty stepped in to keep Naru from meeting up with Magneto, Usagi and Chibiusa, along with their cat Luna, arrived at the shrine to check up on their old friend. They were crushed to discover Naru was willing to side with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and the Acolytes. Now their heartache would be even more profound. But most importantly, Naru would see what such a choice truly meant. Again, harsh reality. As a headmaster and a mentor to so many, it was Xavier’s natural instinct to want to shield his young charges from its full weight. Right now, there was no escaping it, though it tore at his soul.

And now, Naru Osaka’s.

“Hello nurse, we are the Acolytes. And we’re here to slaughter flatscans,” beamed a bizarre-looking mutant on surveillance footage taken from a hospital. A creature called the Kleinstocks, essentially the upper bodies of two huge men sharing the same pair of legs, fiery energy crackling in their fists. They were flanked by more mutants in matching uniforms, murder in their eyes.

And then, the preserved footage showed the carnage beginning. All throughout the hospital, patients and staff were mercilessly slaughtered in the most heinous ways imaginable. The hallways of the hospital sprayed with blood, the bodies of helpless patients flung about without remorse. The most vulnerable people, and those who dedicated their careers to their care, cut down without mercy. This was one reason why the X-Men existed, to counter such mutants who harbored such hate, who would abuse their powers. Hopefully, Ororo’s idea to show Naru the Acolytes’ raw savagery would dissuade her from becoming one of them.

Right from the start, it was working. It wasn’t long before tears were streaming down Naru’s cheeks as she sat there in front of the Blackbird’s terminal near the back. She looked on in shocked silence, not believing what she was seeing. The archived footage showed the Kleinstocks superheating the IV fluids of a frail old man in intensive care, heralding a slow, torturous death. A pitiful gasp escaped Naru’s lips. Even now, years after this Acolyte attack, Xavier still found it hard to believe even they were capable of such butchery. Xavier silently prayed the day would never come when he’d be unaffected by such horror.

Fortunately, it appears our new friends will never have that problem, Xavier mused, turning to Usagi. Little surprise she was just as horrified as Naru, and crying as well, while this ‘future daughter’ of hers was ready to be sick. Rei’s disgust was palpable, being someone who harbored deep, spiritual beliefs. Michiru also couldn’t quite keep the horror out of her expression. She and her partner were supposedly the most hardened of the Sailor Senshi. Yet with the evil nature of the X-Men’s enemies laid bare, not even she was unaffected. Even Luna, who lived through the destruction of the Moon Kingdom according to Ami’s files, was taken aback.

The rest of his X-Men stood by to watch as well. For them, the signs were subtle, since they had all fought the Acolytes before. Yet their enmity toward Magneto’s self-professed worshippers had not abated in the least.

As the footage neared its end, Naru’s faced turned a sickly color. Her hand flew to her mouth. Getting the hint, Nathan used his telekinesis to levitate a plastic bucket over from the other side of the Blackbird.

“Thank you,” Naru said weakly, taking the bucket and throwing up in it. After a moment, Naru picked her head back up to glance at the screen. The carnage continued. Now Senyaka was using his energized whips to burn and choke a nurse. “Ugh, glad I haven’t eaten much, I think I’m good… Never mind, there’s more!” After another bout of sicking up, Naru glanced up again, only to turn away in tears, unable to watch any more.

“Oh no, you don’t get to just look away!” snapped Nathan, and suddenly Naru’s gaze was locked with the screen again. Xavier could sense he was using telekinesis on her. “Did any of their victims get to just look away as the Acolytes slaughtered them all? I understand how much it hurts to lose your mother, but think of all the kids who lost loved ones that day. The animals you were about to join up with, they caused the same heartache you’re going through!”

“That’s quite enough, Nathan,” said Xavier, softly but firmly. Making Naru watch this was traumatic enough, no point in berating her further. Better to simply let her see what consequences her decision would bring.

“He raises a valid point, Professor,” said Ororo. “Naru, I was told you were considering a nursing career. Can you still say you’d want to join Magneto to protect Umino, if you’d be asked to take part in slaughter like this? I refuse to believe the girl Usagi told us so much about is capable of that.”

“Besides darlin’, you just saw what the lives of normal humans mean to these monsters,” added Logan. “You really want them lookin’ out for your boyfriend whenever you ain’t on Asteroid M?”

At last, they went through the last of the footage, and the screen blanked out. Naru could only stare blankly ahead, still in disbelief over what she just saw. “I-I-I-I… H-H-How could… I d-d-didn’t know…”

“Naru, I’ve LITERALLY had nightmares of you doing something like this,” said Usagi. “Please, please, PLEASE tell me this convinced you otherwise.”

“Before you answer her, Naru, you need to see something else,” Kitty cut in. She walked over and punched in a few commands, bringing up another round of archived footage. Lockheed was perched on her shoulder, shooting Naru a withering glare at point-blank range. “In case you’re thinking Mystique’s outfit is sufficiently less bloodthirsty, get a load of this.”

Xavier caught some bristling irritation from Michiru upon hearing that name, which wasn’t surprising. Michiru was surprised, however, by what appeared on the screen. “I recognize that… It’s the United States Senate. And that man speaking… Robert Kelly, your country’s own version of Kizachi’s husband. Why…” Michiru fell silent when the footage showed Mystique and her Brotherhood making their move, proudly declaring they were there to assassinate the senator. The X-Men, however, were there to stop them.

“Who’s the fuzzy goblin guy, and the man with wings?” asked Rei.

“Nightcrawler and Angel,” said Usagi. “Come on, Angel’s one of the original X-Men! Seriously, how come I still know more about this than you do?”

“And that guy with Mystique…” Rei went on, ignoring Usagi’s jab. “Ugh, I swear I’ll never call you a fat-ass again, Usagi.”

“Makoto was right to refrain from making any more bets,” grumbled Luna.

Naru watched as the fight spilled out onto the streets of Washington, D.C., with Pyro using his blaze to box in troops and Avalanche nearly burying others alive. Eventually, the X-Men subdued most of them and saved Senator Kelly. “I don’t get it,” muttered Naru. “Sure, the flame guy and the earthquake guy almost killed a whole bunch, but… Ororo, you and Kitty and Logan stopped them. Why show me this?”

“You don’t know the whole story,” said Nathan. “The reason the X-Men showed was because they got a tipoff. From the future, and not from me.”

“WHAT!? Then from who!?” Chibiusa demanded vehemently.

“From her,” said Usagi, pointing at Kitty.

Kitty nodded. “More specifically, my future self’s consciousness travelling back to take over her younger body. My fourteen-year-old self, seen in that footage.”

“Travelling back… taking over your younger…” Chibiusa facepalmed hard. “Oh, if I ever see Plu again, she’s got some explaining to do.”

“The point is, Kitty’s future self warned the X-Men that if the senator was assassinated, it would start a chain of events making anti-mutant paranoia rage out of control,” said Hank.

“Which would lead to a revitalized Sentinel program, which would go off the rails and eventually lead to not only the near-extinction of mutantkind, but the decimation of all the other super-beings on Earth,” said Kitty. She looked over at the Sailor Senshi. “And I do mean ALL of them.” Even Michiru looked a bit shaken by this revelation.

“But you averted that fate, didn’t you?” asked Luna anxiously. “You saved Kelly, and that program hasn’t come about.”

“Not yet. But every time we get a whiff of a new batch o’ Sentinels, we take it seriously,” said Logan.

“Hence why you’re all here,” said Michiru.

“So, you’re saying… Magneto and his teams… They’ll send the whole world down that sort of path?” Naru asked, horrified.

“Which is why, painful as it is, we X-Men always stand ready to thwart my old friend. Even if the rest of humanity doesn’t understand what it is we fight to prevent, we do it because we must,” said Xavier, wheeling himself closer to Naru. “Naru, whether or not you enroll at my school… I cannot ask such a decision of you just yet, not with the loss you’ve suffered. But I hope I’ve impressed upon you what a mistake it would be to join Magneto.”

“If this hasn’t worked, Professor, I’ll be glad to volunteer!” came an icy voice. Everyone turned to see a hologram flicker to life, not too far away from the terminal. Xavier sighed a little as he saw Emma Frost’s hologram stare coldly at the still shaking Naru. “Just let it be known, Ms. Osaka, that were you currently enrolled and had me as your instructor, I wouldn’t hesitate to drill some sense into you! And don’t think this immunity to mutant telepathy matters one jot!” The Senshi watched in confusion as her hologram suddenly changed, Frost assuming her form of living diamond. “I have OTHER means!” Xavier couldn’t help but notice Kitty flapping her hand as she mockingly mouthed Frost’s words, much to Lockheed and Usagi’s amusement. Would those two EVER get along?

Thankfully, Naru wouldn’t have to put up with Frost’s disparagement much longer. Rogue and Peter stepped into the projector back at the mansion. “Thank you, Emma, for checkin’ to see if the projector’s still workin’,” Rogue said sharply as she shoved Frost out of the way. “But I do believe Naru’ll be a tad more receptive to what Peter and I gotta tell her.”

Frost tried to butt in again. “Just hope you don’t wind up in my class, Ms. Osaka! Because…” Frost was cut off when Rogue pushed her so hard, she crashed into the wall of the communications room, making the projection shake.

“Wow, and you thought Ms. Haruna was a hardcase, Usagi,” muttered Luna.

“Rogue, Colossus… What’s this all about?” asked Naru.

“You saw the archived footage, Naru. But you need to hear it from people who were actually IN the Brotherhood and the Acolytes,” said Peter.

“What!? You two!?” Michiru cried incredulously.

“Yes, Michiru. In my grief, I turned to the Acolytes for a time,” said Peter, the sting of shame in his voice.

“What would’ve possessed you to do that!?” demanded Michiru. “The attack on that hospital… Why would you ever join THEM, Peter!?”

“The same reason Naru is tempted,” said Peter. “The loss of someone dear.”

This seemed to grab Naru’s attention. “Who was it?”

“My sister Illyana. She fell victim to the Legacy Virus, something Professor Xavier seemed powerless to stop,” said Peter. “In my grief, I ran off with Magneto’s group, feeling there was no place left for me on Earth. No doubt you wondered just why I could no longer paint for so long, Michiru. Now you know.”

“Peter’s long since learned what a big mistake that was,” said Rogue. “Me? I’ve had to live with some dumb decisions a lot longer.”

“So you were in the Brotherhood,” said Michiru dryly.

“It was more than that, Michiru,” said Rogue. “I hear you and Haruka had a run-in with my foster mother.”

Michiru’s eyes widened. “That shapeshifting psychopath… She RAISED you!?”

“More or less,” Rogue admitted. “I was part of her outfit for a good long while, up until that run-in with Carol Danvers. She’s the one I permanently got a lot o’ these powers from, plus a chunk of her psyche.”

“Soon after that, Rogue came to me for help. And I made her an X-Man over the objections of most of the team,” said Xavier. “Mentally, the ordeal left her a wreck, and I refused to go back on my vow to help a young mutant in need.”

“It also scarred Danvers for life, and I’ve had to live with the guilt ever since,” said Rogue, turning to Naru. “So I’m beggin’ ya, Naru, don’t go joinin’ my mom. Gettin’ mixed up in those outfits’ll lead to things you’ll regret forever, take it for me an’ Pete.”

As Naru fumbled for words, Michiru continued to stare at them in disbelief. “The kind of pain your powers led to, Rogue, and why you couldn’t paint any more Peter… I never imagined.”

“You had good reason to be suspicious of us, Michiru,” said Peter. “We have read the files regarding Mistress 9, but now you know the two of us are hardly blameless as well.”

“What’s done is done,” said Michiru firmly. “After our encounter with Magneto and his flunkies… Don’t worry, Haruka and I now know full well which mutants are truly our enemies.”

“What about you, Ms. Osaka?” Xavier asked, turning his attention back to Naru. “You’ve heard pleas from two people who know firsthand what it means to work with these groups, and you’ve seen what they’ve done in the past. Can you still say joining them to protect Umino is worth the price?”

“Especially if the price may very well be your soul?” Rei added.

Naru looked to them, eyes still full of tears. At length, she buried her face in her arms to blot them away. “N-N-N-No… I-I-I-I can’t do it. I could… n-n-n-never do all that…”

Xavier heard Usagi let out a huge sigh of relief, her hand over her heart. As elated as she was to hear Naru would never join Magneto’s army, Xavier could sense her lingering hesitation to approach Naru. These events still caused a rift between them, one Usagi still desperately wanted to bridge, but didn’t quite know how. Pain like this would take much time to heal, but he promised Usagi he would do what he could for Naru. It was his life’s work, and he was as determined as ever to see it through to the end.

In Usagi’s place, Ororo approached Naru to give her a shoulder to cry on. But soon, Ororo would have to return her attention to the task at hand. Logan was quite right about the need to squelch any new Sentinel program, and Magneto playing some unknown role in this mess made things even more pressing. On top of that, they owed Naru answers as to who killed her mother. They dissuaded Naru from making a terrible mistake, but Xavier knew his duty to aid this young, troubled mutant was far from over.

No, it’s not just Naru I have an obligation too, but the Sailor Senshi as well, Xavier reminded himself. He turned his wheelchair around, sensing the eagerness of some of the Senshi to speak with him. Usagi cradled Luna in her arms, her tearful eyes pleading. Rei and Michiru, however, looked impatient.

“Well, your people certainly diffused that time bomb in a hurry, Xavier,” said Michiru. “Now what about Kizachi, Magneto and those Sentinels?”

“Unfortunately, Ms. Kaioh, there may not be much we can do at the moment,” said Xavier. “You and Haruka did succeed in penetrating deeper into Kizachi’s facility. But from what you’ve told us, it confirms our earlier suspicions. The Sentinels, in all likelihood, are not being assembled there. Kizachi has a second site for their final assembly and deployment. I fear that even though the X-Men and Sailor Senshi could easily raze her corporate headquarters to the ground tonight, it would amount to nothing. Save increasing anti-mutant hysteria and turning your country against the Senshi.”

“We’ve heard that before, but we still have to do something,” said Rei. “Can’t you just read Kizachi’s mind, or the minds of her staff?”

“He’s tried, but Kizachi’s got some sort of defense against telepathy,” Michiru grumbled.

At least Rei’s gotten over her fear of my power, after our mishap, Xavier thought hopefully. And Michiru’s long since forgiven Rogue and Colossus. Our teams may yet mesh well together, but it’s clearly imperative I find a means to focus our collective energies. And frustrations. “Very true, Ms. Kaioh. Kizachi’s taken great pains to keep her Sentinel program hidden until she feels the time is right. Her company is still the key, however. Perhaps Kitty can work with Mizuno again to break into her company’s computer records. Additionally, Aino can redouble her efforts to track Kizachi’s financial transactions while Logan continues investigating yakuza activity. Her Interpol connections could be crucial to untangling this complicated web she’s woven.”

Xavier didn’t need his telepathy to sense Rei and Michiru’s festering impatience, but they nodded anyway. Luna, however, wasn’t so easily placated. “And what about Magneto and his outfit?”

“You must be patient, Luna,” Xavier pleaded. “I know Erik. How he thinks, how he works. Much like some of the enemies you’ve fought, his schemes can’t be foiled so quickly. I simply ask for your trust and continued assistance as the X-Men and I work to close in on him. When we’re getting close, I promise you the Sailor Senshi will be there to fight him with us.”

Usagi didn’t look all too eager to fight the Master of Magnetism. Tears still streamed down her cheeks. “A-A-At least we won’t have to fight Naru too,” she spluttered. “I can’t thank you enough, Professor. You kept her from turning bad…”

“We kept her from making the worst possible choice, for now. That is all,” said Xavier, turning back to see Naru still crying, though Lockheed was lapping up her tears. “I fear, Ms. Tsukino, that Ms. Osaka’s road to recovery will be long and hard. For all of us.”
Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse
a Sailor Moon/X-Men crossover
Chapter 18: Fatal Attractions

With a little more telepathic trickery from Cable, Mamoru got Ami and Mayumi into his car without anyone noticing, then drove them to Meiwa University Hospital. Thanks to the growing darkness afforded by the setting sun, Ami was able to sneak Naru’s mother inside once they arrived. It was also fortunate that, for once, Ami could actually get hold of her mother. Normally, Saeko Mizuno was extremely busy. It was a minor miracle her mother answered the phone at all. Once Ami explained why they needed her, Saeko put all her other plans for the evening on hold to treat Mayumi. She barely knew Mayumi, but her being the mother of a good friend of Ami’s was all she needed to hear.

Ami and Mamoru stuck around, providing assistance as needed while Saeko secretly treated Mayumi in an examination room she set aside, with explicit instructions not to be disturbed. Saeko knew she couldn’t risk bringing in any nurses or other doctors, not with passions about mutants running so high. Saeko herself didn’t even care about Mayumi’s daughter or what she had done, concerned only with the patient in front of her. Ami had never been prouder to have the renowned Dr. Saeko Mizuno as her mother.

“As it is, there doesn’t seem to be any indication of a concussion, or any other serious complications,” said Saeko as she applied stitched to the gash on Mayumi’s forehead. “In any event, I’m going to provide some medication that should alleviate any symptoms that may pop up later, in case I’m wrong. Without the hospital staff’s knowledge, of course.”

“Of course,” muttered Mayumi, wincing as Saeko went on with stitching her up. “The sooner I can get back to the jewelry store, the better.”

“Along with other obvious reasons, I suggest you don’t reopen just yet,” said Mamoru. “I understand how not being cowed by all those bigots is an important symbolic gesture, but maybe you should wait a day or two.”

“In any event, the ones who threw bricks were arrested, and the windows should be replaced soon,” added Ami. “There’s no need to push yourself, Ms. Osaka.”

“Something, as a medical professional, I strongly agree with,” said Saeko. “I’d rather not see you back here so soon because you overexerted yourself.”

“I’m… still surprised you agreed to see me at all,” said Mayumi.

“Some others in this hospital may not take their oaths as medical professionals seriously, but I do,” said Saeko with an acid bite to her voice. “You’re the mother of Ami’s friend, that’s all I needed to hear. Besides, now I feel we need to get to know each other better. I’m raising a daughter even smarter than I am. I want to hear how you’re raising a daughter who’s stronger than, well, just about everyone.”

She really doesn’t care if people are mutants, Ami thought in amazement. I guess with how intelligent I turned out to be, Mama feels she already has one for a daughter too. Oh, if she only knew the whole truth…

Mayumi snorted. “Not very well, if I can’t keep her from slipping out to pulp yakuza every other night,” said Mayumi darkly.

Saeko had finished with the stitches, and was now wrapping a bandage around Mayumi’s head. “Well, I’m sure Naru had a good reason,” she said dismissively. “I don’t know how you dealt with it, though. Knowing she was out there in the line of fire. I’d lose my mind if I knew my little Ami got involved in something like that.” Ami hoped her mother didn’t notice those words making her wither as she turned to smile at her. “I can just imagine you leaving a message like that on our dry erase board, Ami. ‘Sorry Mama, I can’t make it for dinner. I’m out fighting bad guys using superpowers and a weird costume, and I’m probably being shot at.’”

Ami smiled back awkwardly, but hissed softly so only Mamoru could hear, “Never ever ever ever bring up Sentinels around her, got that?”

“Agreed,” Mamoru whispered back. “Tough as your mother seems, I don’t think she could handle the totality of what being Sailor Mercury means. And Sentinels, being something more familiar…”

As Ami watched her mother wrap up her work with Mayumi, her mind kept dwelling on the Sentinels. And the creator of the newest breed. Her mother wore glasses, and sometimes let her dark purple hair grow out long. So sometimes, she resembled Erina Kizachi. Perhaps that was one reason why Ami was once infatuated with Kizachi and her work. No more, now that Kizachi had shown her true colors. It was amazing how a normal human, with no powers at all, was swiftly proving to be the most dangerous, vexing enemy the Sailor Senshi had ever faced.

Whatever’s going on, Kizachi had a hand in this. She’s partially responsible for Naru’s mother getting caught in the crossfire, I just know it, Ami fumed inwardly, clenching a fist. Kizachi’s husband kept stirring up anti-mutant sentiment, and she had yakuza connections through her nephew. Perhaps she had engineered conditions so that Naru would be goaded into attacking the yakuza with a vengeance, and helped foster an environment that would generate fear of a mutant vigilante targeting them. But why? What was her endgame? Was it all because of this vendetta against Sailor Moon? And on top of that, it couldn’t be a coincidence, that that monorail car was about to tumble into the drink right when Naru was there. Kizachi’s got all sorts of connections. Could it have been… Magneto!?

The thought made Ami shiver. Such a powerful mutant, able to blend in and strike like that. The Senshi, or even the X-Men, might never see Magneto coming the next time. And Kizachi probably had him on her side. That meant the danger grew with every passing day. So far, the X-Men had urged the Sailor Senshi to hold off on a full-scale assault on Kizachi Technologies. There was no guarantee what they were looking for was at her corporate headquarters, and the X-Men didn’t want the Senshi’s reputation to go in the toilet. Still, Ami felt she had to do something, had to get answers. She was supposed to be as smart as Erina Kizachi, smarter even. The time to find out was coming. Berthier said one bold move could change the time, Ami remembered. Soon, I’ll have to make one.

Morning finally came after a troubled night for all of the Sailor Senshi. That included Haruka and Michiru, as distant as they sometimes seemed from the affairs of the Inner Senshi. They took their duty to their princess seriously. Naru being exposed like this, and the furor that erupted in the wake of that revelation, could be viewed as nothing but a colossal failure. Something that stabbed at Usagi’s heart, and thus theirs in turn. While the two of them stayed at home, reviewing the X-Men’s files on everyone else’s urging, tragedy struck in such a way it would cut to the core of their princess’s soul.

The morning light brought no clarity for Haruka, no hope. As soon as Michiru turned on the television, Haruka grit her teeth, hearing the grating voice of Kizachi’s husband. She never paid attention to the blowhard before, but now, knowing that millions in Japan actually did turned her stomach. What made it worse was, a short time ago, a part of her agreed with him about the dangers of mutantkind, and Naru in particular. Haruka knew firsthand how dangerous she was, and truthfully, she was still wary of the girl. She couldn’t soon forget seeing how Naru worked over the people in that riverside warehouse, or Naru’s lingering wariness and distrust of the Senshi. But whatever Naru’s sins, that could be sorted out later. The Kizachi family was the bigger, more pressing danger.

“Don’t be fooled by Eclipse’s supposed act of charity yesterday afternoon, my friends,” drawled Seto Kizachi. Going as far as to use the stupid nickname the yakuza stuck Naru with, as some sort of slur. Haruka was holding a breakfast shake, not having the appetite for a proper meal, and felt the metal crunch as she clenched her hand. “This does not balance the scales after spending weeks skulking in the shadows, assaulting our citizens. Nor does it diminish the threat of other mutants in our midst. Don’t forget, Magneto attacked one of our ships not too far from our island nation. Who knows whether or not Eclipse has already allied herself with Magneto, and…”

That was all either of them heard before Haruka threw her can at the television so hard, it smashed right through the glass. Michiru stared at the television blankly as it spat out sparks and smoke. “Well, you showed our television who’s boss. Brilliant way to deal with pesky machines,” Michiru said dryly. “We better tell Naru to have plenty of sport shakes on hand in case she runs into Sentinels.”

Haruka only half-heard her, needing to force herself to steady her breathing. This did little to soothe her seething anger. No, she needed to get her hands on the real thing. Wring his neck, before moving on to his wretched wife.

“If we strike now, there might not be any more Sentinels,” Haruka hissed.

“That’s what we thought when we went after Eclipse, and we wound up almost making a huge mistake. Again,” Michiru reminded her.

Haruka didn’t need any reminders about how the Senshi all gave Naru a vicious beatdown. Naru barely trusted them now, and the fallout from her identity as Eclipse being exposed could shatter the poor girl. That made it all the more important to move against Erina Kizachi, and fast.

“Things are different now, and you know it,” said Haruka. “Now we know who our true enemy is. And whatever Kizachi’s plan is, we’re seeing it unfold right now, while we sit on our asses scanning computer files.”

“You think Kizachi made that monorail car tumble into the sea?” Michiru asked skeptically

“No. I think she had Magneto do it,” said Haruka. “There’s never been a monorail accident quite like this before, Michiru. That it happened at the exact time Naru was at that stop…”

“But if Magneto was there, wouldn’t Logan have sniffed him out?” Michiru pointed out. “He figured out Eclipse wasn’t Erina Kizachi with his nose alone. Surely he would’ve known if the X-Men’s worst enemy was following them.”

“Maybe… maybe he wasn’t in the crowd. Or he was in some spot where Wolverine couldn’t get a whiff of him. Magneto might know how to elude him, they even worked together once,” said Haruka. “And it’s not just the monorail car. We know about Gai Izumi. Maybe through him, Kizachi got his group to step up their pressure on Mayumi Osaka and her business.”

Michiru considered Haruka’s theory for a moment. “So, you think Kizachi is trying to get to our princess through Naru? It… seems like a lot of trouble to go through, with a good chance that such a plan wouldn’t work as intended.”

“And yet, Naru’s life has been turned upside-down, and it’s eating at Usagi too,” said Haruka. “Whether it was intentional or not, Kizachi’s got some endgame I’d rather not see reach fruition. Sentinels, working with Magneto… These are things just as dangerous as anything the Senshi have faced before. We’ve got to make our move.”

Michiru stared at her quizzically. “You’re suggesting we strike at the heart of Kizachi Technologies?” It wasn’t really a question.

“Even if that won’t stop the Sentinels’ construction outright, it will at least slow Kizachi down,” said Haruka. “And I’m not even suggesting something that drastic. First we at least get in and look for more answers. We got in before.”

“Thanks to Telulu and Viluy carving a path of destruction for us to follow,” Michiru reminded her. “Now, even the X-Man who walks through walls can’t sneak into sensitive areas.”

“We need to try, regardless,” said Haruka vehemently. “This isn’t the first time we’ve faced this situation.”

“You mean Mugen Academy,” said Michiru with a sullen look. “We waited too long, and when we made our move, the Death Busters transformed Hotaru into Mistress 9.”

“We’ve been trying so hard to avoid the mistakes of the past, only to wind up nearly repeating our worst one. And now I’m convinced Kizachi wanted it that way,” spat Haruka. “Well, I refuse to be too scared to try and strike again. Turns out that Kizachi has no powers whatsoever. All she can do is build those Sentinels, and they can’t fit inside her building. We get in, turn the place upside-down for information Ami and the X-Men can chew on later, and corner that horse-humping bitch and demand answers. Are you with me?”

Michiru hesitated only a moment. “Always, Haruka.” Haruka could tell she still had reservations. If she was honest with herself, Haruka wasn’t as confident as she tried to sound. But while the two of them were trying to come to terms with their horrific mistake, tragedy struck the poor girl again. If she didn’t try to keep Kizachi from ruining Naru’s life even more, Haruka wouldn’t be able to live with herself.

It had been so weird before, the sensation of going right through a wall, as brief as it had been. This time, however, circumstances forced Makoto to endure it longer, and it wasn’t any less unsettling despite being ready for it. A couple of cops were assigned to stay right outside the OSA-P, both to protect the place and watch for Naru returning home. Thankfully, they wouldn’t think to look for Kitty phasing both Makoto and Naru’s mother up through the floor, right in the middle of the store’s showroom. Makoto took a deep breath upon being unphased, trying to get her head in order. Mayumi was having an even harder time. Given her head injury, that was hardly a surprise.

“I don’t think I could ever get used to that,” Mayumi muttered in a whisper, a hand over her heart.

“I KNOW I’ll never get used to that,” grumbled Makoto. How the other X-Men did is anyone’s guess, she added silently.

“Hopefully, I won’t need to do that many more times, Ms. Osaka,” said Kitty. “Now that you’re in, with no one the wiser, you’re essentially hidden in plain sight.”

“I still intend to reopen in a few days,” Mayumi reminded her, looking at where the shattered windows were boarded up. “And even before then, I won’t just hide. My daughter… I have to see her, make sure she’s alright.”

“Naru’s fine, Ms. Osaka. We won’t let anyone get to her,” said Makoto quickly. And by ‘we’, I mean the Sailor Senshi. They’ll take her to America if that’s what Naru chooses, but we’ll protect our friend in the meantime. At the moment, Naru was still at the Tsukinos’, with Usagi watching out for her. But she figured either Logan was hanging around to sniff out unwelcome guests, or Cable and their professor were scanning the area telepathically. It was still a bit galling for Makoto. In the past, her muscle alone was enough to protect friends from everyday bullies, and her lightning could fry whatever monsters came after Naru or anyone else. This time, the threats were far more legion. Thugs chucking bricks, giant killer robots… No wonder Usagi seemed to think the Senshi needed help to counter them all.

“I can sneak her in sometime tonight,” said Kitty.

“I… would appreciate that, Ms. Pryde. I want to tell Naru how proud I am of what she did, saving those people on the monorail. That I have no regrets about what’s happened, and she shouldn’t either,” said Mayumi. “I-I-I do hope she chooses to join you, Ms. Pryde. Now that I’ve seen what good Naru’s powers can really do, any doubts I had before are gone. Do what you can to convince Naru to become one of you.”

“Let’s wait before asking Naru to make a choice that big, Ms. Pryde,” said Kitty.

“For now, you two need to look out for yourselves,” added Makoto. “Naru needs to lie low, and you’ve got to give yourself time. Don’t exert yourself.”

To Makoto’s surprise, Mayumi reached over to hug her. “Oh, I’m sure you’ll look out for her, too,” she said softly. “I’m always hearing about how you protected her and all your friends from bullies.”

“You have no idea,” Makoto said dryly, thinking back to all the times the Senshi’s enemies targeted Naru. And now those Sentinels were out there…

“Just promise me, as long as she stays in Japan, you’ll keep looking out for her,” pleaded Mayumi.

Makoto let out a nervous laugh. “Well, considering Naru can juggle pickup trucks, I don’t think she needs bodyguards anymore.”

“No, Makoto. She’ll need more than that. She’ll need her friends more than ever,” said Mayumi. Makoto didn’t know what to say. Considering she zapped Naru silly before learning the truth, she doubted she would ever trust her completely again.

Mayumi faltered a little in Makoto’s arms, prompting Kitty to rush forward to help steady her. “We’ll all be looking out for Naru, don’t worry. Just focus on getting better in the meantime.”

Makoto and Kitty led Mayumi up the stairs, and saw to it she was situated in her room with everything she needed. As the two of them went back down the stairs, Makoto turned to Kitty. “So where are you going now?”

“Me? Nowhere. I’m sticking around here to keep watch until Logan can relieve me later. He must figure he won’t need to go sniffing around into yakuza affairs, since they might be tempted to come after Naru’s mother,” said Kitty. “You can stick around and be an extra pair of eyes, if you’d like.”

“Don’t act as if I take orders from you, or you’re doing me a favor,” spat Makoto. “Naru may be a potential recruit for you, but she’s our FRIEND.”

“Wow, that’s harsh,” said Kitty. “It’s almost like I’m stuck on detail with Marrow again.”

“Who?” asked Makoto.

“Oh, just someone I hope Naru doesn’t have to bunk with if she comes with us,” said Kitty. “She’s quite brusque and… a bit eccentric. Like ‘keeps the rats she hunts in the sewers and subways in her room for a couple days before eating them’ eccentric.”

Makoto almost threw up a little in her mouth. “Eats… rats… From subways and sewers… Why would she…”

“Because that’s where she used to live,” said Kitty. “Anyway, we’re going off on a tangent here. Something’s bothering you, and I’d like to think it’s not just because I’m in close proximity.”

“You would?” Makoto asked dubiously.

“Yeah, I figured from what I looked over all those reports about the Senshi, you’d be the one I’d have the most in common with,” said Kitty.

Makoto was utterly dumbstruck. “B-B-But… I figured a computer nerd like you would work better with Ami.”

“True, Ami and I HAVE worked well together already,” said Kitty. “But let’s face it, being the blue-haired super-scientist is more Hank’s speed. As for you, reading about how Sailor Jupiter didn’t fear throwing herself in the thick of things… Well, I guess at first, you reminded me a bit of myself.”

“Not that you have much to fear, since hardly anything can touch you,” said Makoto.

“Says someone who can tank most of what a Sentinel can dish out,” said Kitty.

“Good point,” said Makoto. “But you must’ve had an idea which Senshi you challenged to a chess game. Why’d you have to interrogate me like that?”

“I’ll level with you, Makoto. Like I said, I didn’t know what to make of you yet. And the way you sounded so evasive… Well, perhaps I’ve been jaded by seeing too many humans too afraid to make a stand about anything, not just give in to blind hatred. But now I see how wrong I was about you,” said Kitty.

“How so?” asked Makoto.

“Come on, it’s clear how much you care about Naru. What she was born as, what she’s done, none of it matters to you,” said Kitty.

“But what the Senshi have done, or didn’t do, still matters to her,” Makoto pointed out.

“You’ll just have to give her time,” said Kitty.

“Given time, she may join you. But she’ll never consider joining us now, and may never completely forgive us,” said Makoto.

“Is that what this is all about?” demanded Kitty. “You think this mess with Naru has shamed the Sailor Senshi somehow?”

“We almost made a huge mistake with Naru, one you X-Men had to prevent,” said Makoto. “Besides, Naru’s one of you. I’m no stranger to being ostracized, but you still understand what she’s going through better than any of us. And you’ve dealt with these Sentinels before. It took four of us just to beat back one.”

“As if Sentinels never give the X-Men trouble,” Kitty pointed out. “Don’t you get it yet? The X-Men are counting on the Senshi to help crush the Sentinels this time!”

“Really?” asked Makoto, flummoxed.

“We just sent four senior, seasoned X-Men back to investigate a hotspot in America because we’re confident the Sailor Senshi have the extra smarts, muscle and firepower we’ll need,” said Kitty. “You’ve already trashed one of these new Sentinels, and we learned firsthand the Senshi are no pushovers.”

“Still, I can’t help feeling useless,” said Makoto. “Seeing what happened with that monorail... I’m nowhere near strong enough to do what Naru did, and I couldn’t have gotten people out before it toppled like the three of you.”

“It was no picnic for me either,” said Kitty. “Seeing that monorail car fall with Logan still inside, unable to do a thing… Look, Makoto, Naru’s got super-strength, dark energy and that oily goo. I’ve got my phasing power, ninja skills and computer smarts, and you’ve got mad kung fu and bring the lightning. We just do the best we can with what we’ve got, and we’re stronger working together.”

“You really mean that?” asked Makoto.

“The X-Men have teamed up with other superheroes before, and it let us beat the odds,” said Kitty. “Why would this time be any different?”

“Here’s hoping it won’t be,” muttered Makoto. She appreciated how Kitty was trying to cheer her up, and she realized how unusual it was for her to now lack confidence. Still, the knowledge of how badly she, and all the Senshi, let Naru down cut deep.

The Outer Senshi, despite their resolve, decided to wait until sundown before trying to break into Kizachi Technologies. Not only would it be too difficult to pull this off in broad daylight, but the X-Men and the Inner Senshi had a point about their reputations. Having law enforcement constantly hounding the Senshi would complicate any future missions. Still, Michiru could tell it sickened her partner to no end, letting such a thing affect their decisions. The wait until the sun went back down gnawed at Haruka’s soul enough. Now that darkness had fallen and they made their way toward Kizachi’s corporate headquarters, Michiru could see that loathing within Haruka still bubbled up.

“It’s… much like that night, when we saved that ungrateful bitch’s life,” Haruka commented as she peeked out from behind one of the company trucks. Michiru had to agree. The eerie sense of calm that belied the knowledge that terrible evil awaited within. Of course, this time, the evil stemmed from the one they wound up saving. “To think, we could’ve kept all of this from happening, just by smashing Kizachi’s heart of pure evil when we had the chance.”

“We had no way of knowing that kind of monster she was,” Michiru reminded her.

“Yes we did,” spat Haruka. “She flat out told us she would soon be gunning for Senshi, if we had bothered to listen. And we never gave Kizachi another thought until now, but we should’ve remembered her threat.”

“Well, perhaps tonight we can rectify our oversight,” said Michiru. She hoped she sounded more confident than she felt. As much as she agreed with Haruka about the need to finally take the fight to Kizachi, something still bothered Michiru. A subtle churning in the seas warned her of danger, and she wondered if Haruka sensed something similar on the winds. Then again, when did life-threatening danger ever stop them before?

So the two of them finally moved in, avoiding the cameras they remembered being there the last time, sticking to the shadows. If we were transformed and had our white fukus… Maybe the X-Men have the right idea, with those black bodysuits that blend into the night, Michiru realized. They looped around to the other side of the building. As expected, Kizachi had beefed up her building’s defenses considerably. The door that Telulu and Viluy made short work of was replaced with one that would require one of their attacks to force open. Doing so would surely attract the attention of anyone inside. So would simply transforming while so close. But Storm made it farther than this the other night, with no one the wiser, Michiru thought with a scowl as she ripped open a nearby box, exposing the wires. Then again, she can use her powers anytime. We can’t transform into Sailor Senshi yet, otherwise we’ll set off the sensors Usagi said alerted Kizachi. Out loud, she said, “I’m not Sailor Mercury, but I should be able to jerry-rig this to gain entry. Still, perhaps we should have asked her to come along.”

“A waste of time, Michiru,” muttered Haruka. “No doubt she would have urged restraint, just like the others.”

“I think you may underestimate just how profound her disillusionment with Kizachi is. And how much fighting her Sentinel affected her,” said Michiru as she toiled on. Soon enough, she coaxed the door to slide open, inviting them into utter darkness. Haruka cracked her knuckles and marched in without a second thought. Sighing, Michiru followed her partner. Whatever danger awaited, she wouldn’t let Haruka face it alone.

They decided to try the laboratory Usagi mentioned, the one she said even Kitty couldn’t slip into. If they were to find Kizachi tonight, or anything useful, that would be where to look first. Thankfully, at this late hour, there didn’t seem to be many lab workers or other employees of Kizachi’s out and about. Slipping by them was ridiculously easy, but that only served to fuel Michiru’s anxiety.

Despite her determination to get her hands on Kizachi, Haruka knew this too. “So far, there’s been no trouble. Surely we’ve been seen on some cameras by now.”

“Storm got in this far, didn’t she?” said Michiru, trying to shore up her confidence. “But you’re right. The way the seas are roiling… It’s like we’re being let in.”

“Should we turn back then?” Haruka suggested, a bite to her voice.

Michiru chuckled. “You know the answer to that.”

“Let’s keep moving, then. The laboratory Usagi said Kitty couldn’t break into should be up ahead,” said Haruka. Along the way they rounded a corner, and came across a security guard, his back turned to them. It was a simple matter for Haruka to clamp her hands on his throat and mouth, put him in a sleeper hold, then take his keys and security cards once he drifted off.

They stealthily made their way to a set of sliding doors that certainly looked like what Usagi had described. Michiru placed a hand on the wall. She thought she could sense some sort of current, the very thing that stymied Kitty days ago. “I believe we’ve found it,” said Michiru. “Now here’s hoping we snagged security cards with high enough clearance.” She slid the card Haruka boosted through the electronic lock, and mercifully, the doors began to slide open.

The area within was absurdly spacious. In the middle of the day, no doubt it was bustling with engineers and programmers, but at the moment it was barren. That eerie emptiness tugged at Michiru even more than the sense that the churning of the seas was about to pick up. “Haruka, I don’t like this,” Michiru pleaded in a whisper. “There should still be people here, and if getting in this part of the facility was so easy, how come Storm didn’t make it this far? She’s a thief on top of being trained in hand-to-hand combat.”

Michiru could sense how blood still boiled in Haruka’s veins. Thankfully, it wasn’t bad enough that she couldn’t see reason. There was a hint of wariness in her partner’s eyes. Perhaps the winds were whispering something similar to her.

Footsteps made them look across the expansive laboratory. There, far on the other side, was a woman in a lab coat, wearing dark glasses. She seemed completely oblivious to their presence.

“Trap or not, this is an opportunity we can’t pass up,” Haruka whispered back. Michiru nodded in agreement. They ducked down a set of stairs and slunk across the center of the laboratory, using the many workstations for cover. Soon enough, they ascended the stairs on the other side, and Kizachi was still there, her backs turned to them.

Haruka pounced on the opportunity. She grabbed Kizachi by the shoulders, twirled her around, and slammed her against the guard rails along the top level. “We got you cornered on your own turf, Kizachi,” Haruka hissed. No doubt Kizachi could feel her breath washing over her face, though oddly, she didn’t look all that surprised or fearful. “Now, you’re going to tell us everything we want to know. About the Sentinels, about why you’ve been conspiring to make Naru Osaka’s life a living hell, everything!”

Kizachi’s face had been completely blank, impassive. But Michiru felt her blood chill when suddenly Kizachi simply smirked at Haruka. An instant later, Kizachi sank her knee into Haruka’s gut, and in one fluid motion, flipped Haruka over her shoulder and over the edge. Michiru heard Haruka land hard on a workstation below, tools tumbling to the floor.

“Haruka!” Michiru cried, but then Kizachi rounded on her. Michiru launched herself at Kizachi, aiming to snap her neck with a quick chop. But Kizachi effortlessly countered that, then launched a spinning kick Michiru barely ducked under in time. Then Kizachi pressed on, forcing Michiru back, keeping her from checking on Haruka. Michiru came at Kizachi with everything she had, now fighting mad after seeing Haruka go down, but the little roboticist was swiftly proving her equal hand-to-hand.

Thankfully, Michiru didn’t have to fight alone for long. Haruka jumped up from below and grabbed the railing, flipping back over it. With a howl of fury, she rushed at Kizachi from behind. Kizachi ducked and rolled, moving past Michiru. After getting back on her feet, Kizachi made a series of spinning jumps backwards, fixing the pair with a mocking gaze after she finally stopped about ten meters away.

“Since when did Erina Kizachi become such a practiced martial artist!?” demanded Haruka, rubbing her head.

“Didn’t thoroughly research what your enemy could do,” spat Kizachi with a smile. “It wouldn’t be the first mistake you two made, now would it?” With that, Kizachi strolled back toward them. Maybe it was the dim lighting, but she seemed to change. It looked like she was getting even shorter, her hair was shortening, the dark glasses somehow vanished and… her clothes were changing?

“Oh no, what in…” Haruka muttered, anguish filling her voice. Michiru just stared in disbelief. Whoever this was, she had just assumed the form of Hotaru Tomoe.

“Why do you keep coming after me?” pleaded ‘Hotaru’ innocently. Michiru knew this had to be a trick. Still, that perfect imitation of Hotaru’s voice cut deep, rooting the two to the spot. “I never asked for this, I don’t want to hurt anyone…” But then, she changed again, bringing back even more bitter memories. Now this trickster was mimicking Mistress 9! “Or do I!?” she finished, now with the voice of Hotaru’s possessed self. Before Michiru and Haruka could get over their shock, Mistress 9’s hair shot out to ensnare them like before. With a maniacal cackle, Mistress 9 flung them back down to the lower level.

Both of them skidded over another workstation, knocking over computer monitors before hitting the floor and springing back up. Mistress 9 flashed a mocking smile, daring them to try something else. “Michiru, u-u-u-use the mirror. P-P-P-Please tell me this is some sort of trick,” Haruka stammered.

Michiru didn’t take her eyes off Mistress 9 until she had the Deep Aqua Mirror out. As soon as she looked into it, their suspicions were confirmed. “It’s not Hotaru at all! She’s the mutant shapeshifter!”

“So Kizachi did know we were coming, and sent her to toy with us,” grumbled Haruka, pulling out her transformation stick. Michiru did the same. “It’s long since past the time to transform, anyway. Uranus Planet Power Make-Up!”

“Neptune Planet Power Make-Up!”

As they transformed into Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune, the thing that was mimicking Mistress 9 changed again as well. Now she had assumed her true form, that of a blue-skinned redhead with eerie, yellow eyes, wearing a leather jacket, a silvery-grey dress, and a belt of silver skulls. Mystique just leered at them from the upper level, as if she was still amused by the two Senshi.

“Sailor Uranus, here to fight with elegance!” Uranus shouted.

“Sailor Neptune, here to fight with…” Neptune began, but someone grabbed her hair from behind and hoisted her up. A grunt from Uranus told her whoever it was did the same to her.

“Oh, will you two skirts put a sock in it!?” growled a menacing voice, right before he hurled them across the robotics lab, making them smack into solid concrete. Mercifully, now that they had transformed, they could eat the impact, painful as it still was, and immediately sprang back up. There, strolling toward them with the sharp claws on his fingers bared, was a huge man in a brown longcoat with ragged-looking garb underneath. At first glance, he could pass as human, but Neptune soon saw those unnatural, animalistic dark brown eyes underneath that mane of long, blond hair, not to mention the sharp teeth. “The name’s Sabretooth, ladies,” growled the big mutant with an evil grin. “So Sailor Uranus, I heard you tangled with the runty wannabe. Wanna see if you can handle the genuine article?”

Uranus produced her Space Sword and charged. “Neptune, take the shapeshifter!” she cried as she tackled Sabretooth to the ground. As Neptune turned back to Mystique, she saw the shapeshifter had produced a weapon of her own. Mystique jumped down from the upper level, firing a submachine gun. Neptune cartwheeled out of the way, but some of the bullets struck. Her fuku repelled them as with Eudial’s trap, but the impact still shook Neptune to the bone. “S-S-Submarine Reflection!” she cried, sending out a watery blast. It cut a swath across the laboratory. Well, at least we’re wrecking the place good, Neptune noted silently.

Unfortunately, it didn’t look like she tagged Mystique with her attack. In fact, she couldn’t spot the shapeshifter at all, what with the dim lighting coupled with the smoke and dust now kicked up. Neptune was about to look into her mirror for clues, but then felt the barrel of a gun press against her temple, just under her tiara. “So Kizachi’s intel was dead-on. The Sailor Senshi can eat normal gunfire,” said Mystique mockingly. “But I wonder, is it because those fancy fukus act as magical Kevlar, or will a .45 caliber at point-blank range through the skull still do the job?”

Neptune froze in place, saying nothing, trying to tune out Uranus and Sabretooth’s grunts and cries of pain. Mystique was fast, and nobody’s fool, and her Senshi transformation might not afford her enough extra speed to pull this off. Despite her uncertainly, Neptune would not be cowed. She swung her forearm up, knocking the submachine gun away with her mirror. As bullets sprayed elsewhere, Neptune followed up with a spinning jump kick to Mystique’s face. Neptune had hoped that would floor the shapeshifter, but Mystique rolled with it and sprang back up. Her forearm and fist enlarged to twice their normal size, clubbing Neptune and sending her backside careening into the concrete wall of the lower level.

An instant later, Uranus was slammed against it too. She had her sword sunk into Sabretooth’s gut, but the massive mutant still tried to claw through Uranus’s fuku with one hand, while clamping his other down on her face, his claws drawing some blood. Uranus grit her teeth as Sabretooth roared right in her face. Drawing her legs up, she kicked Sabretooth off of her. She dropped to the ground, gasping, but readied herself, figuring both mutants would charge any second.

Instead, Sabretooth grabbed Mystique and made a huge leap backwards, one that took them both to the upper level. “What in… They’re retreating? Why?” Neptune demanded.

Neptune got her answer when she felt some sort of electrostatic surge rise through the floorboards, paralyzing them. It faded once Sabretooth and Mystique touched down, but it had been enough to bring the two Senshi to their knees. “W-W-W-Where did that come from?” Uranus wondered, her breathing ragged. “Some sort of countermeasure Kizachi had in place?”

As Neptune stood back up on wobbly legs, she noticed a lot of objects strewn around them were rattling about. Computer monitors, tools, metal carts… even paper clips, loose change and bolts crept across the floor ever so slightly. Neptune’s eyes widened, a horrible suspicion coming to her. “I-I-I… don’t think so, Uranus…”

Neptune’s worst fears were confirmed when she heard metal being twisted apart. All of a sudden, several beams from the guard rails flew at them, wrapping around the two Senshi. Even worse, Neptune could feel a paralyzing current coursing through her again. A moment later, Neptune noticed two figures walking up to Mystique and Sabretooth. One of them had to be the real Erina Kizachi, while the other, at first glance, appeared to be simply a man in a grey coat and fedora. But considering only one man could’ve paralyzed and ensnared them like this…

“Victor, Raven, I do believe you’ve amused yourselves enough for one night,” said the man in a sonorous, no-nonsense voice. He raised a hand, and suddenly Neptune and Uranus found themselves levitated over to the quartet. The sheer power Neptune could sense conducted through the metal, giving her an inkling of what the man could really do… “As for you, my dear Michiru Kaioh, let’s point that mirror in a safer direction.” With that, some of the metal bars wrapped around Neptune shifted about. The next thing Neptune knew, her arm had been raised up, a beam wrapped around her it and her fist, making her mirror point right at Uranus’s head. Uranus cast a nervous sideways glance her way before glaring at Magneto.

“So, you’ve finally decided to show yourself Magneto, and you know who we are,” Uranus snarled.

With a sigh, Magneto removed his hat. For someone who survived the Nazi camps of World War II, he looked a bit younger than Neptune would have imagined. Still, the years had taken a toll on the man, what with his short, white hair and other signs of creeping age. “Indeed. Dr. Erina Kizachi has provided me valuable intel on the Sailor Senshi. And as I understand, my old friend has shared information pertaining to myself, my Acolytes and the Brotherhood.”

“So it’s true. You and Professor Xavier once were good friends, but he found out you were just too bloodthirsty,” Neptune spat contemptuously.

“Correct me if I’m wrong, but the two of you have no standing to lecture about friendships strained by differences in tactics,” said Kizachi with a sneer.

Mystique laughed as she changed again, this time taking Sailor Moon’s form. Clasping her hands, she mockingly pleaded, “Oh, I’m sure if we put our hearts together, we can find a way to do this without stepping on anyone!” She laughed again. Hearing such a chilling laugh made with Usagi’s voice made Neptune’s blood run cold.

But it simply angered Uranus to no end. She struggled futilely against the metal bars holding her. “Stop it! Don’t you dare assume her form, you witch!” she roared.

Mystique simply shrugged her shoulders, then reverted to her true form. “‘Witch’? Aren’t you two the only ones here who can use magic?” she asked delicately.

“The point remains that for a duo that’s all about doing whatever’s necessary to win, you seem to find yourselves paired up with allies who vex you to no end with their scruples,” said Kizachi. “First the Inner Senshi, now the X-Men. You’ve been granted access to the latter’s database. Surely you’ve read about how they handled Dark Phoenix.”

Neptune shuddered inwardly. Naturally, she and Uranus relished having so much new intel on extraterrestrial threats, but the X-Men’s files on Dark Phoenix had been difficult to read. It was almost like reliving the whole mess with Sailor Saturn. “And yet, the X-Men were right in fighting to keep us from Eclipse,” Neptune said quickly.

“Ah yes, that must’ve been difficult,” said Magneto. “Thinking she represented an old enemy reborn, convinced she was nothing but a thug, a butcher. Only to discover she was just a girl you knew rather well, trying to protect family. All that righteous anger, finding out it was misplaced…”

“Don’t talk to us about righteous anger, Magneto. And don’t preach when it comes to Naru,” snarled Uranus. “That monorail car… That was YOU, wasn’t it!? You WANTED Naru to expose herself! There’s no other explanation for…” Uranus cried out just as Magneto glowered at her. Neptune could see the metal bars binding her partner constricting a little.

“Stop it, Magneto!” demanded Neptune. “She’s right though, isn’t she!? You got Naru to expose her Eclipse identity, figuring she’d see things your way afterwards.”

“Indeed, something tells me Naru Osaka’s eyes have been opened,” said Magneto airily. “First needing her power to scare humans so ready to prey on their own kind, now the explosion of hatred after her being a Good Samaritan.” He still refused to actually admit to anything. Small surprise there, since it was the Outer Senshi in such a precarious situation, not he.

“A seed has been planted, for sure,” added Mystique. “What fruit will grow as a result, I suspect we’ll see soon.” The tone of her voice told Neptune there was more going on than she and Uranus first suspected.

“Well, these two ain’t gonna be around to see it, are they?” growled Sabretooth. He reached over to grab Uranus by the chin. Neptune struggled against her restraints as she watched those claws lightly drag against Uranus’s skin. Uranus betrayed no signs of fear, merely meeting Sabretooth with a defiant gaze. “I say we just waste them now. Two less skirts with magic sparkles the X-Men can throw at us later…”

“No, Creed!” cried Kizachi suddenly in a commanding voice, stepping forward.

“Come again?” Sabretooth asked challengingly, leering down at the roboticist.

“Call it being a slave to scruples myself, Creed, but I haven’t forgotten that I owe these two my life,” said Kizachi without a hint of fear. Then she turned to the Outer Senshi. “Consider us even now. You saved me from the Death Busters, so I’ll have Lehnsherr spare your lives. Besides, it’s not even you two I’m after. Far from it. Your princess is the only one I really want. I only need to see her heart shatter to pieces.”

“That’s supposed to make us hate you any less?” spat Uranus.

“You presume much, Ms. Kizachi,” said Magneto dangerously.

“I’ve asked very little of you, Lehnsherr, beyond what’s been absolutely necessary,” said Kizachi, still betraying no signs of unease. “Helping me balance the scales is less than nothing in comparison to what you’ll gain once our plans reach fruition.”

“I suppose that’s true,” said Magneto, relenting.

“What’s Magneto getting out of this, Kizachi!?” Neptune demanded hotly. “More importantly, what are YOU getting out of it? Is it just some sick need for revenge!? Against Sailor Moon!? WHY!? Why such hatred for the princess!? You were never part of the Dark Kingdom, so what did she ever do to you!?”

“It’s more like what Usagi Tsukino DIDN’T do, Kaioh,” was Kizachi’s acid retort. “Like I told her, do a little more digging into my affairs, and the answer may come.” She stepped forward, holding Neptune’s chin in her hand as Sabretooth had with Uranus. Uranus had suppressed a shudder of fear, but for some reason, Kizachi’s touch made Neptune’s blood run cold anew. As if this woman had a greater capacity for evil than she dared imagine. “I like you two, really. You have the capacity, the resolve, to do whatever it is that needs to be done. But it seems the whole mess with Hotaru Tomoe, and now Eclipse, have blunted your killer edge. A pity.”

“Sailor Moon proved us wrong both times,” sneered Uranus defiantly. “She’s changed us for the better. We stand with her, until the end.”

“As I said, a pity,” said Kizachi coolly. “That decision may guarantee your end comes sooner than you’d like. But not tonight. Lehnsherr?” Neptune heard some doors open on the side of the robotics lab adjacent to where they first entered. “And don’t worry, though the cameras clearly recorded your transformation, I’ll make sure no one sees it. Though, of course, I can blame the destruction of my laboratory on out-of-control mutants. One more incident I can use in my inevitable pitch to take my Sentinel program to the next stage.”

“So you DO want another Sentinel program launched, Magneto!” cried Uranus. “What for!? Once Kizachi uses them on Sailor Moon, won’t they be turned on your kind!?”

“Will they?” Magneto asked airily. “As Kizachi said, it’s best you not concern yourself with our affairs. Worry about yourselves. Next time, you may not be shown mercy.” With that, Magneto made a single gesture, and the two Senshi were flung out of the laboratory, through the opened doors. They went smashing through a window, and kept on being propelled right across Tokyo’s skyline. The whole time, Sailor Neptune could still feel Magneto’s power resonating through the metal.

There was little doubt now. The man was just as powerful as Rogue claimed, a fact that hit home again when they came tumbling down in the yard right behind their house. A reminder of how Magneto knew their secret identities, as well as a demonstration of his power. Of course, he hadn’t bothered to undo their bindings, leaving the pair there lying in the grass, still hopelessly trapped. Neptune could only lie there, trying to steady her breathing, trying to figure out how this mission went south so spectacularly.

Water was supposed to be Sailor Mercury’s element, where she could feel at ease. But looking down at the churning waters where that monorail car would have sunk, Mercury felt no comfort. To think, if Naru hadn’t been there, a good number of people, including Logan, might have drowned. But that one act of heroism has cost Naru so much, Mercury thought with disgust.

It had been a simple matter to slip past the police officers assigned to patrol the now-closed monorail stop, thanks to her visor. Climbing down the rocky wall to investigate where the track’s pillars collapsed, however, was another matter. Even with the extra strength afforded by her transformation, it was an arduous task, given how badly it had been weathered down over the millennia.

“Ugh, Makoto’s the sporty one. She could’ve done this in half the time,” muttered Mercury. “Or maybe rock climbing is another one of Haruka’s plethora of talents.” Mercury was more than halfway down the rocky wall, thankfully, which should’ve been close enough for her visor to gather detailed information. She looked away from the wall, and after being sure she had a firm enough grasp with one hand, reactivated her visor. Mercury waited patiently for the visor to complete its scans, hoping she was close enough to find what she was looking for.

Mercury was so focused on the data coming in, however, she neglected to notice how gusty winds were making some rather powerful waves splash against the rocky wall. One slammed into it pretty hard, the wave crashing right underneath her. This startled Mercury enough to make her lose her grip. With a sharp cry, she tumbled off the wall, falling headfirst toward the water. Mercury shut her eyes, praying that her transformation granted enough stamina to stave off paralysis if her head hit stone hiding right beneath the water’s surface.

But moments passed, and she didn’t plunge into the water. Opening her eyes, Mercury saw her face was hovering mere centimeters above the sea’s churning surface. Looking up, she saw that she was being suspended by, well, nothing. Nothing she could see with the naked eye, at any rate. That left only one probable explanation, one that didn’t require any scans.

“Cable,” Mercury muttered, looking around. That’s when she could make out a form floating toward her. The black uniform let him blend in with the nighttime gloom, but light from the monorail stop above reflected off his exposed bionic arm. And he wasn’t alone. Storm was flying toward her as well, also in uniform. Though of course, she suspended herself with the winds she controlled, not telekinesis.

“My apologies, Sailor Mercury,” said Storm as Cable levitated her up to them. “It appears my approach led to you nearly taking a dip.”

Cable set Mercury right-side up, and Storm offered her hand. After a moment’s hesitation, Mercury took it, and Storm pulled her close. She could feel the winds swirling all around Storm. Cable, meanwhile, looked intently at the collapsed pillar Mercury had been scrutinizing moments before.

Turning back to Storm, Mercury asked, “Not that I’m mad about what just happened but, just what are you and Cable doing here, Ororo?”

“Same as you, I’d wager,” said Cable. “No doubt you suspect this pillar didn’t just happen to collapse by itself when Osaka was conveniently waiting for the next train.”

“It’s… not just your arm that’s mechanical, is it?” Mercury asked delicately.

“The term is actually ‘techno-organic’, but you’re quite correct,” said Cable. “You got here first, though. Care to share what data you’ve crunched thus far?”

Realizing that her visor’s system had enough time to analyze all the scan data, Mercury flipped her computer open, now that Storm had her. It didn’t take long to see that her darkest suspicions were confirmed. “Just about all the metallic particles… They’ve been rearranged, as if subjected to an intense magnetic field! He was here!”

“My eye’s pretty much telling me the same thing,” said Cable. Mercury looked back over to Cable, and his left eye briefly flashed.

“So, Magneto wished for Naru to expose herself,” said Storm darkly.

“But why would Magneto want that!?” cried Mercury.

“No doubt to make Osaka more receptive to his sales pitch to turn on humanity,” said Cable gruffly. “And considering that Kizachi has it out for your boss, Ami, it stands to reason she wanted to hurt her by tormenting Osaka.”

“M-M-Magneto really would’ve risked all those innocent people dying, just so people would figure out Naru’s a mutant?” asked Mercury, aghast. Though in her heart, she already knew the answer, terrible as it was.

“All too often, Magneto has shown disregard for the lives of normal humans if there is a chance to further his own agenda,” said Storm. “He views the ascendancy of mutantkind by any means necessary as paramount. All other concerns are secondary to him.”

Mercury was nonplussed. For a time, she dared hope their newest enemies wouldn’t prove as craven as Queen Beryl, and all those who followed her. For all intents and purposes, unlike all their old enemies, Magneto and Erina Kizachi were still human. Or that’s what Mercury had hoped. This helped drive home just how unfettered the opposition truly was.

“He’s unhinged, sure, Mercury, but he’s been beaten before,” said Cable. “The X-Men have trashed his plans plenty of times, and judging by the intel you’ve shared, the Senshi have also handled some tough customers. Whatever Magneto’s up to in your country, we’ll stop it together.”

Mercury wished she shared Cable’s optimism. “We might beat him, Cable, but in a way, Kizachi and Magneto might have already won,” she said, tears welling up. “Even if the Senshi and the X-Men stop them, the damage is done to Naru’s life. She’s lost faith in the Sailor Senshi, and now she may lose faith in humanity.” Mercury couldn’t keep herself from crying. Storm said nothing, merely holding her closer and letting her cry. Moments later, Mercury said, “Storm, how do you do it? You must’ve faced so many situations like this, watching people you care about have their lives destroyed, left without hope…”

“Far too often. More often than you can imagine,” Storm replied softly. “And there have been times when I wanted to stop being the X-Men’s leader and fly away, believe me.”

“W-W-W-What stopped you?” Mercury sniffled.

“Many times, it was the simple realization that too many I cared for still needed me,” said Storm. “I imagine it was the same with Sailor Moon.”

“And it looks like we’re needed again, now,” said Cable. “I just got a flash from Logan.”

“How? Wolverine’s not telepathic, is he?” asked Mercury.

“He is, however, connected to all of us by rapports established by Nathan and the professor,” said Storm.

“He’s saying we need to get to the OSA-P, fast,” said Cable. With that, he shot up, propelled by his telekinetic power.

“Hold on, Ami,” said Storm, hanging onto Mercury a little tighter. A moment later, her winds kicked up, carrying the both of them high into the sky, following close behind Cable. Mercury said nothing. Normally, she would marvel at how someone could manipulate wind to do this. But dread over what they would find at the jewelry store eclipsed everything else. For all of Storm and Cable’s insistence that she should be confident, Mercury dreaded things were about to get far, far worse.
Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse
a Sailor Moon/X-Men crossover
Chapter 17: A Touch of Evil

When Kitty saw what remained of the track crumble and the monorail car plunge, she felt so helpless standing there in midair, and feared the worst. Even with the three of them, they couldn’t act fast enough to get everyone out, and now Logan was trapped on that thing! Hadn’t they been trained to be better than this!? But then, she noticed tendrils of black ooze had wrapped around it, and more were shooting down to further secure the monorail car. Its plunge had stopped, and slowly but surely, it was creeping back up.

“Oh Naru, please… Oh no,” Kitty muttered as she turned back to the crowd. Naru had dug in her heels, quite literally, and anchored herself with even more tendrils. Understandably, everyone had stopped gaping at the girl standing on thin air, and the blue furry guy latching onto the other side of the safety fence with bare feet. While Kitty felt relief that those trapped in that car would be saved, hardly any of that relief was mirrored in the faces in that crowd.

Once Naru was close to pulling the monorail car onto the platform, Kitty ran back onto it. Hank jumped back over the fence, just as the car toppled over and crushed part of it. Kitty gaped as Naru dragged it further from the edge with her bare hands. This little girl really was almost as strong as Rogue!

More than ever, Kitty was certain they could really help Naru, see to it that she reached her full potential. It wasn’t just her impressive array of powers. Performing such a selfless act, no matter the cost… This is what one looked for in a future X-Man.

Unfortunately, the people around her didn’t see it that way. Even that teacher, who almost seemed determined to get into Hank’s pants, looked aghast that her old student was the feared mutant supposedly plaguing Japan. No one was paying attention to her or Hank anymore. All eyes were on Naru. Umino held her close, supportive as always, but Naru’s attention was focused on the fearful crowd. So far, a pall of silence hung over the monorail terminal, but Kitty knew that would change. Soon, the threats and curses would be hurled. Naru could tank most attacks from the Sailor Senshi, but as a fellow mutant, Kitty knew full well how such threats and insults could cut deep.

The sound of claws ripping through metal made Kitty turn around. Logan had carved an oval in the overturned monorail car’s roof. One forceful kick opened a path for everyone still inside. Logan sauntered out, claws still out, ignoring startled gasps from those who turned his way. An old man also from the West followed, clutching a Japanese woman in her late-forties close. More and more passengers climbed out, looking about confusedly, while Logan strode over to Naru and Umino with Hank and Kitty. No doubt Logan was also expecting an explosion of mob-style fury, hence keeping the claws out to dissuade the more reasonable.

Razor-sharp adamantium claws may have coaxed some to keep their anxiety over mutants in check, but not all. As Kitty feared, some in the crowd raised their voices. Vehement voices.

“It’s her! It’s really her!” someone shouted. “That little freak is Eclipse!”

“What’s she playing at!? Trying to be a hero!? My brother was in that riverside warehouse she trashed!” shouted someone else. Naru bawled as her face sank into Umino’s shoulder. Kitty’s fists clenched. Naru just threw away her secret identity to save total strangers, and this was the thanks she got!? Why was it always the same story for mutants!?

A man suddenly grabbed Haruna Sakurada by the shoulder. “Hey lady, you sounded like you know who this freak of nature is! Who is she!? How d’you know her!?” he demanded roughly.

“Well, I… Errr, t-t-t-that is…” Haruna blubbered, but then fell silent, eyes filled with tears. She was torn between her shock of Naru exposing herself as Eclipse, and her instincts to protect a former student.

The chain reaction had started. More and more shouts, more and more demands that Naru get out of Japan, that freaks of nature like her weren’t welcome. Naru cried harder than ever, her worst fears realized. Soon enough, it looked like some would advance. Their mob-like mentality would override sense that should’ve kept them from tackling a mutant strong enough to lift a monorail car, and another with adamantium claws. But then, there was one shout that echoed over all their hateful taunts.

“Hold it right there!”

It seemed to come from above. Many looked up toward a nearby two-story building. There, balancing herself atop a flagpole, was Sailor Moon.

“Being a hero is thankless work, and even I can’t be everywhere at once,” Sailor Moon shouted down to the crowd below, arms folded. Even that high up, Kitty could see the contemptuous look in her eyes. If possible, Usagi was even angrier about the crowd’s reaction than Kitty was! “Who said the Sailor Senshi are the only people in Tokyo with superpowers allowed to use them!? I, for one, am GLAD that Eclipse could be here in time when I couldn’t! You turn on this girl right after she saved all those people!? UNFORGIVABLE!”

With that, she leapt down and made a three-point landing in front of Kitty. The sheer FORCE of her personality, her will, as she rose to stare down Naru’s would-be tormentors... Kitty had worked with plenty of other superheroes, but was still impressed by the force of will emanating from this girl. Which made everyone on her own team back off the other night. Little wonder she was a reincarnated princess. “And if anyone tries anything against this fellow guardian of love and justice, in the name of the Moon, I’ll punish them!” she finished, doing that infamous pose.

This left much of the crowd flabbergasted. Weren’t the Sailor Senshi supposed to be tracking down Eclipse, not protecting her? As it turned out, this was exactly what Usagi was banking on. She reached behind her, grabbing Kitty’s wrist. “That’ll buy a few seconds,” Sailor Moon hissed through gritted teeth. “Everyone, grab hold of Kitty so she can phase us out of here!”

Thankfully, everyone got the hint. Logan sheathed one set of claws and put his hand over Usagi’s, and Kitty felt Hank lay a huge hand on her shoulder. Umino grabbed Naru’s hand and placed it on her other shoulder. Then, with a thought, Kitty made them all sink through the ground.

Kitty caught glimpses of screaming, frustrated faces as they phased down into concrete. At least they could leave these ungrateful dolts behind. But Kitty knew full well that Naru’s troubles were just beginning.

“No no no no NO!” Erina Kizachi howled. “This is nowhere near calibrated and aligned properly! Start all over again. We’re not going ahead with assembly until I’m confident everything’s perfect!”

Many of the engineers working under Erina shot her dirty looks, but they didn’t faze her in the least. After working with the world’s most infamous mutant terrorist this long, how could fellow humans hope to get her to back off?

Fortunately for them, everyone assigned to her team knew when to take a hint. The lot of them were busy assembling the core processors to go inside a Sentinel head, though only a select few knew its true purpose. The engineering teams responsible for the parts that were undoubtedly meant for Sentinels, such as certain weapons systems and the outer structures for the heads, were busy elsewhere. Plus, the work was spread out between different facilities.

All this fandangling, secrecy, and clever shuffling of company records was necessary, at least for now. Erina had to be patient. Her husband was doing his part within Japan’s government, paving the way toward acceptance of a new Sentinel program, but the time just wasn’t yet ripe to spring the proposal. Erina was determined to have her Sentinels ready when they did, despite being cursed with some impatient and sloppy laboratory personnel. Her field test against the Sailor Senshi proved more fruitful than she hoped, though it meant a good deal of overhauls were necessary. Not to mention, the helpful data came at the cost of the Sailor Senshi being open to a partnership with the X-Men, and Erina knew she had no hope of manipulating them into dissolving it. It was frustrating, and Lehnsherr shared in that frustration, but she knew it was pointless to dwell on it. All she could do was go right along with her work on these Sentinels.

It was work she relished. Not because she necessarily wanted to construct mutant-hunting machines. Erina had a different purpose in mind for these Sentinels, anyway. No, she just enjoyed being in the thick of things whenever she could, getting hands-on and utilizing her genius in the most direct manner.

Not that she didn’t have skills in other areas. Together, she and her husband built this company up from nothing, in happier times. After that, with their fortune and her brains, it was a simple task to pave the way for Seto’s path into politics.

And unlike so many other politicians, that meant we could tell any yakuza interlopers to bugger off, Erina thought bitterly as reattached a circuit board. One that was made in-house, with one of the chips even bearing her company’s logo. A metallic sphere with several thin lines originating from the center, the longest ones pertaining to the four sides of a compass. Even if that weren’t the case, it’s not like I wouldn’t have manipulated events so that these last few weeks were a living hell for all the yakuza in this city…

Of course, their marriage was pretty much over, just a façade that had to be kept up in public. And once all this was said and done, Seto’s political career would likely be over. Not that Erina gave that any thought. At the moment, her sole focus was getting this part of her overhauled Sentinels perfect, so their production could truly begin soon.

Erina was so engrossed in her task, it took her some time to notice far fewer of her staff were still toiling alongside her. She looked up in annoyance. Her teams were working in the wide-open robotics laboratory on the lower levels of her company’s building, the one she knew Shadowcat tried to slip into the day of her seminar. Erina also knew Storm tried to break in before sunrise. Thankfully, she hadn’t penetrated too far. But Erina knew it was foolish to believe she could keep both the X-Men and the Sailor Senshi out forever, hence her annoyance with her employees slacking.

Looking around, Erina saw a cluster of her coat-clad workers around a television. Curious, Erina walked up to see what had them so engrossed. Her simmering frustration swiftly turned to joy upon seeing the news bulletin: ECLIPSE IDENTIFIED. And sure enough, there was Naru Osaka’s face in a sidebar. Along with footage of her using her powers in broad daylight, pulling a derailed monorail car to safety.

“Wow, good thing you’re speeding up building Sentinels on the sly,” one of her younger employees whispered into her ear. “Something tells me people will be howling for us to turn them loose on this little freak.”

Erina smiled. “I imagine so,” she replied softly, while chuckling on the inside. Such naïve fools, all of them. Both those who knew of her plans for Sentinels and those hopelessly in the dark.  Especially the former. Such desperation on their part, feeling the need to build machines out of fear of what was simply human evolution marching forward. How satisfying it would be, when all those like them saw their best efforts turned against them. Without that, her revenge against Sailor Moon wouldn’t be complete.

Slipping away from the gaggle watching the news, feeding on their own fear of what they refused to understand, Erina ducked into a supply room. Pulling out a small device, she flipped it open and whispered into it. “I trust you’ve seen the big news story by now,” she hissed with glee. “I trust you’re making plans to pounce on this opportunity…”

“Wow, anyone want to bet on how long it’ll take Rei to use this guy in a fat joke levied at Usagi, once she goes over this stuff?” quipped Minako.

Ami’s computer was hooked up to the television in Mamoru’s apartment. This way, the tactical information the X-Men downloaded for Ami could easily be studied by all of them. Makoto and Luna were also there as they went over all the X-Men’s files. Mainly, they were going over information on the Sentinels, and all the mutants still working closely with Magneto. The Sailor Senshi were caught off-guard by the X-Men, thanks to how they had no idea what to expect from the team as a whole. Well, except maybe Usagi. If they ran into Magneto’s cronies, it would be a different story.

“I think we’re all done making bets that involve Usagi,” muttered Makoto.

“As for this guy, it’s not just a body-mass index that’s nothing short of grotesque,” said Ami. “It’s how the Blob can generate a localized gravity field to anchor himself. And his skin and adipose tissue are highly resistant to conventional weaponry, and most other means of inflicting harm.”

“The eyes, ears, nose and mouth are somewhat vulnerable,” added Mamoru. “Plus, he’s not as resistant to fire and heat as other forms of physical harm.”

“So we don’t bother outmuscling this guy,” said Makoto. “Rei or I just wallop him from a distance. Got it. Instant smoked bacon.”

“Hmmmm, I wonder if Naru has the muscle to tackle Blob in case you or Rei aren’t around?” Luna mused.

“Forget it. Professor Xavier didn’t want her anywhere near the fighting,” said Mamoru.

“Since when to do we take orders from him, by the way?” demanded Luna. “We’re working with the X-Men, not for them.”

“He had a good reason, Luna. Naru just doesn’t have the experience the rest of us do, or our level of control over our power,” Ami pointed out.

Naturally, Ami and Mamoru would be the ones to completely agree with Xavier, Minako noted silently. Though Minako had to admit, things were going surprisingly smoothly after that horrible battle at the shipyard. Ororo simply shrugged off how Minako injured her quite badly, and the X-Men were certainly fulfilling their end of the bargain. So much tantalizing tactical data. It was like being back in Interpol, carefully scouring files, to probe for the enemy’s weaknesses, to plan how to trap them. That suited Minako just fine. Ami and Mamoru no doubt found all this data on other mutants fascinating, but she could tell Makoto was getting restless. Even those sparring matches with Kitty did little to quench her thirst for taking the fight to those responsible for this mess. And no doubt Haruka and Michiru were the same. “By the way, anyone heard from Michiru and Haruka lately? I hope they don’t go trying to hunt these Brotherhood yahoos without us.”

“Actually, something tells me they’re having even more fun with all this new information than we are,” said Makoto, a bit of sarcasm to her voice.

“Come to think of it, you might be right,” said Minako. “All those files we saw on bad guys from outside our solar system… That’s straight-up catnip for them!” Luna shot Minako a dirty look. “What? It would be!” she protested.

“It’s not really their whereabouts I’m worried about at the moment,” muttered Mamoru.

“Oh yeah, you sensed Usagi transformed,” said Minako. “But still no inkling she’s in danger, right?”

“That was the case last time, when she was so shocked, and not conscious long enough, for a sense of danger to sink in,” Mamoru grumbled.

There was awkward silence for a moment. It was one thing, trusting the X-Men on Usagi’s say-so. But no one really wanted to talk about how they now had to be a little wary of Naru.

“But Usagi’s got three of the X-Men with her,” said Luna. “Even if Naru does lose her cool, they won’t let any harm come to her.”

“Somehow, I find it hard to have complete faith in the ghost kitty and the blue gorilla,” grumbled Makoto.

“Get over it, people,” snapped Minako. “Back in my days working in tandem with Interpol, I sometimes had to partner with people I detested to get the job done. And these X-Men… They’ve made up for their mistakes, and then some. We need to remember who our real enemies are.”

“Whose files we’re scrutinizing, provided courtesy of the X-Men,” Ami added tersely. “So I suggest we get back to that, since there’s no telling how soon…”

“AAAAAH!” came a high-pitched wail from Mamoru’s bedroom. Immediately, Luna turned toward the noise, her ears pricked up.

“Oh no, Diana… Something’s wrong!” cried the mooncat. The rest of them followed Luna as she made a mad dash for the bedroom. Thankfully, it didn’t look like Diana was in any danger. She sat at the foot of the bed, a television remote at her side, right where Mamoru and Luna left her. “Diana, is something wrong? Why did you cry out?”

“The television, the news…” said the little kitten, almost in a breathless whisper. “The queen, and her friend…”

“Something about Naru on the news?” asked Ami. “Oh no, please don’t let that mean…”

But as they crowded around the television, Ami’s worst fears were confirmed. The first thing that jumped out at them was the bulletin ECLIPSE IDENTIFIED, along with a photo of Naru in the corner and looping footage of something that happened at an outdoor monorail stop. They all gaped at how those slimy tendrils kept a monorail car from plunging into the ocean, and hoisted it back up. “THAT’S</b> what Naru tried to clobber you and Ami with, Makoto!?” Minako cried incredulously. Makoto didn’t answer. She was too transfixed by how Naru dragged the monorail car away from the edge. Minako didn’t blame her. It was one thing to have their strength disparity elucidated with just numbers. To actually see what Naru could do with such strength was quite another.

“She… S-S-S-She saved all those people, but the reporters won’t even give her the benefit of the doubt,” snarled Ami. “They’re doing everything they can to cast Naru as the villain here, practically inviting people to turn on her.” Minako’s brow furrowed. She had put a lot of crooks away as Sailor V, and people loved her for it. Why was it the opposite when Naru saved so many?

They then saw Sailor Moon get in between the mob that was forming and Naru. Seconds later, Kitty phased their entire group down into the concrete. “Well, now we know why Usagi transformed. At least they’re all safe,” said Luna.

“For now,” spat Makoto. “T-T-T-This is going to destroy Naru. Things were looking up for her, finally, and now this.” There was no trace of envy of Naru’s strength in her voice. Rather, there was only empathy. She knew better than anyone what it was like to be cast out, branded as a brute.

“I’m afraid Ms. Kino speaks the truth. Ms. Osaka will need the support of her longtime friends more than ever in the days to come,” came a resounding voice suddenly, one that echoed in Minako’s head. With the way everyone else was anxiously looking about, Minako knew they heard it too. “For the moment, however, there is a more immediate concern.”

“Professor Xavier, remind me to have Kitty work with me on an interface for our communicators, too,” said Ami dryly. “Having you communicating telepathically is just… going to take too long to get used to.”

”My apologies, Ms. Mizuno, but I fear this could be urgent,” replied Xavier.

“Professor Xavier, where are Naru and Usagi?” demanded Mamoru. “Can you tell if they made it out safely?”

“They made it out just fine,” said Xavier. “Our primary concern, however, would be Ms. Osaka’s mother.”

“Mayumi Osaka? Why would…” Makoto began, but then her eyes widened. “Oh no, there’s a mob forming right outside her jewelry store, isn’t there!?”

“I’m afraid so, and I can sense the panic and animosity among many of those gathered,” said Xavier. His telepathic voice seemed to transmit his own sorrow. “I’ve already alerted Ororo and Nathan as well. They will meet you there, but you must hurry!”

Makoto cracked her knuckles. “Oh don’t worry, Professor. We’re on our way.” Minako certainly wasn’t going to object to that sentiment. It wasn’t long before they all reached the ground floor and clambered into Mamoru’s car. He must have run more than one red light on the way to the OSA-P. He found a parking spot less than a block away from the jewelry store. As they ran up to it, they could see an angry crowd had formed, just as they feared. But two figures hung back. Someone with long, white hair, and a big guy with a longcoat.

Nathan looked over his shoulder. No doubt he was expecting them to show, and stayed alert for their approaching thought patterns. “You made it just in time. It looks like things are about to get ugly.”

“Mayumi Osaka ejected her patrons and locked up her store, but I fear this crowd may soon go beyond chanting angry taunts,” added Ororo.

Minako took a moment to listen. Disgusting diatribes about how Mayumi gave birth to a freakish abomination, that they’d burn her store down to get to her daughter. Minako clenched her fists so hard, her fingernails nearly broke skin. “I got hailed as a hero for my work as Sailor V, but Naru gets branded as a monster!?” she spat acerbically.

“Welcome to our world,” muttered Nathan.

Minako thought she couldn’t be any more disgusted, but then, she noticed some police officers present. They didn’t seem to look too eager to keep things from escalating. In fact, many hung back as some in the crowd began throwing bricks through the windows. Ami, Mamoru and Makoto looked on in shock and horror, but what Minako felt went way beyond that. With all her time working with law enforcement, seeing police all but allow this sort of thing turned Minako’s stomach. “What’s wrong with those officers!? They’ve got jobs to do!”

“Then it’s time someone reminded them of that,” said Nathan. Minako looked up at the supposed time-traveler, and swore she saw his eyes glow from behind those sunglasses. Looking back to the police officers, Minako saw they finally sprang into action, instructing the mob to back off and disperse.

“And now, to take the wind out of that mob’s sails,” said Ororo. Minako then looked over to her, and watched her eyes turn solid white.

“Oh no, Storm, don’t tell me you’ll be throwing lightning bolts at them or something,” protested Minako. That wasn’t something she needed to see again.

“I had something a bit more surreptitious in mind, Minako,” said Ororo calmly. “Namely, lowering the air pressure in just the area that mob in concentrated in. Make it harder to breathe and concentrate, and thus harder to focus misplaced rage.”

“It looks like it’s already working,” said Ami. “Those police officers are having an even easier time keeping those ingrates contained.”

“So this is where you Senshi come in,” said Nathan. “I’ll mess with the cops’ minds long enough so they don’t notice you slipping inside, and I’ll telekinetically open the locks on the front door.”

“Yes, Sailor Senshi, hurry inside. See to it Naru’s mother is safe,” said Ororo. “We’ll stay out here, in case this mob gets out of control again.”

“Storm, Cable, thank you,” said Mamoru, and the mutants nodded. He then made his way toward the OSA-P’s front entrance, sparing furious glances over at the angry crowd. Mercifully, Ororo and Nathan managed to keep things from escalating further, thanks to such clever use of their powers. It was amazing how absurdly powerful mutants could use their gifts in such subtle ways, not to mention a little scary.

But that’s why Usagi wants them as allies. It makes much more sense to work with them than to keep butting heads with them, Minako reminded herself as the rest of them followed Mamoru. Allies who can use their superpowers on the sly, out of costume, sure do come in handy. And true to Nathan’s word, no one noticed them slipping through the front door.

The inside of the OSA-P didn’t look too out of the ordinary at first, other than being devoid of customers in the middle of the day. Minako then turned her attention to where the bricks smashed through windows, though, and noticed they also smashed up many display cabinets. That was far from the worst of it, however. They soon found Mayumi Osaka slumped beside one of the glass cases, clutching her head. Blood seeped through her fingers.

“Oh no, Ms. Osaka!” cried Ami as she rushed to her side. Makoto, meanwhile, looked back through the shattered windows. Minako knew nothing would make Makoto happier than to launch herself back out there and crack every skull in that angry mob. Deliver some eye-for-an-eye justice personally. “She’s still conscious, though she seems to be fading in and out. Oh, I should call my mother, have her check her over personally…”

“That… won’t be necessary, Ami,” muttered Mayumi weakly. “I more or less, rolled with the brick when it hit… It c-c-c-could have been much, much worse.”

“Still, that must’ve been a severe blow,” said Mamoru, kneeling down beside her. “You’ll need to be checked out at the emergency room.”

“Y-Y-Y-You’re… Usagi’s boyfriend…” Mayumi said listlessly. “Usagi, my daughter… Where are they? Are they safe?”

“Yes, they made it out of there just fine,” said Minako, trying to keep the anger out of her voice. This place, their friend’s family business, somewhere where they often gathered… Those windows getting smashed was like desecrating a holy site in Minako’s eyes. Just because Mayumi’s flesh and blood was a mutant… How dare these people do this? “Just worry about yourself right now.”

“B-B-But where can I go, with so many in the city screaming for my head?” asked Mayumi.

“Like I said, a call to my mother is in order,” said Ami. “She won’t hesitate to get you the help you need, and we have… friends who can help us slip past the mob.”

“T-T-T-Thank you Ami,” muttered Mayumi. “I’ll… need to get this store open again as soon as possible…”

“Aren’t you thinking a little too far ahead?” asked Makoto delicately. “With so many idiots out there treating giving birth to a mutant like a sin…”

“This is our family business, M-M-Makoto, I-I-I-I can’t simply abandon it,” Mayumi protested. “Besides, if Naru accepts this offer from the Xavier Institute, how else will I pay the tuition?”

“A bridge you can cross later,” said Mamoru. “Please, for now, save your strength until we can get you to Dr. Mizuno.”

Assuming she’s not as pigheaded as the mob out there, Minako added silently. Minako didn’t really think Dr. Mizuno would turn Mayumi down, but after Usagi ranted about what came out of her mother’s mouth, one couldn’t be entirely sure.

Ikuko was so absorbed in cooking dinner, she didn’t even hear Kenji come in. She only realized he was home due to how he was lured into the kitchen by the inviting scents. “Oooooh, that smells good,” said Kenji, evoking a smile from Ikuko. “I hope it’s not too much longer until dinner. I had to work so late on this assignment, I could sure use a good meal.”

Glancing out the window, Ikuko saw the sun was almost down. “Wow, they really had you working late today,” said Ikuko. “It must’ve been some big story.”

“Not one I particularly relished reporting on, as you might imagine,” replied Kenji.

“Oh, really?” asked Ikuko. “What, did you have to cover something about mutants?” Her husband made it painfully clear where he stood when it came to mutants. She wondered if it was the right time to tell him that one of his heroes had arrived right at their front door this morning.

Kenji looked back to her, perplexed. “What, you didn’t see it? The bulletin must’ve been playing on every channel!”

“What bulletin?” asked Ikuko. “I’ve been too busy most of the day to watch much television.”

Kenji sighed and shut his eyes. “I… hate to be the one to say this, but you’ll find out eventually. Everyone’s talking about it, going crazy. They’ve identified Eclipse.”

That name… A name evoking almost as much fear in the people of Japan as Magneto’s. Ikuko nearly dropped her carving knife. But there was something else in the way Kenji was telling her this. For not the first time, the memory of Usagi’s bitter outburst rushed back. Suddenly, her words made sense. “Oh no… Kenji, it’s our daughter, isn’t it!? THIS is the reason she lashed out at me!?”

“What!? Oh no, it’s not her,” Kenji said quickly. “But it is hitting far too close to home. It’s Naru, Ikuko. I figure Usagi knew about it, and that’s why she blew up at you and Shingo.”

This time, Ikuko did drop her knife. Ikuko stared back at her husband, wide-eyed with terror and shock. Her daughter’s best friend, actually this mutant carving a path of destruction in Japan’s underworld, without a thought of the consequences? And Dr. McCoy was here at this house, talking about recruiting new students, with Usagi coming along… It had to be Naru! “H-H-H-How was she found out?” she spluttered fearfully.

“She used her power in public, to rescue a monorail car about to plunge dozens of meters into the ocean,” said Kenji. “Far from being grateful, though, everyone turned on her. Eyewitness reports say another mutant made their group sink right into the ground to escape. Which included Dr. Henry McCoy, if you can believe it! Imagine, one of the heroes of Cape Citadel, right here in Tokyo!”

“Kenji, he was here this morning!” Ikuko cried. “Our daughter was with them! She could’ve been caught up in all this! What have you heard about her, Kenji!? Any idea if she’s safe!?”

“Wait, our Usagi, with Dr. McCoy?” Kenji asked incredulously. “No, this is the first I’ve heard of Usagi being involved. I’ve been worried about how Usagi would take this news, but if she was actually there to see it…”

“She already knew, Kenji! Why else would she explode like that!?” demanded Ikuko.

Kenji stared back, unable to answer. All rational thought fled Ikuko as she dashed out of the kitchen and flew up the stairs. The door to Usagi’s room was shut, but as Ikuko approached, she could hear a voice on the other side. Ikuko had been more absorbed in her cooking than she thought, if Usagi slipped in without her knowing. She cautiously crept forward, just able to make out what her daughter was saying. “Good thing I didn’t get rid of my old school uniforms,” she said. It sounded like she was talking to herself, as she did sometimes.

Sighing in relief, Ikuko opened the door. “Usagi, dear?” she said tepidly as she shut the door. “We need to…”

Ikuko was cut short when long, spiky, black somethings shot out, driving into the bedroom door, several barely missing her head. She remained there, flattened against the door, eyeing the inky-black spikes fearfully, before her gaze turned to the center of the room.

Naru Osaka stood in the middle of her room, a bemused, terrified look on her face. Apparently, Usagi’s talk about old school uniforms regarded her, as she must have put one on. Except it was in tatters, now that this noxious ink spewing out of her body ripped through it. One of the powers Eclipse was supposed to have. Here, right inside her home, was the dreaded mutant that had Japan on edge.

Out of the corner of her eye, Ikuko caught Usagi staring at her sheepishly. Then her gaze went back to Naru. “And there goes another perfectly good old uniform,” she said dryly. As if this sort of thing was commonplace for her. “Naru, I thought you said you had control over that thing?” Not a hint of fear in her daughter’s voice. Ikuko wished she could say the same. She stayed there, back against the door, only able to let out a whimper, her lip quivering.

“I told you, sometimes it’s like it just acts on its own!” Naru pleaded. “Like with the monorail car. And I told you, the first time this stuff came out of me, I almost skewered my mother with it!”

“So now you have to nearly skewer mine, too?” Usagi asked darkly.

“Come on, Usagi! I don’t do it on purpose!” Naru protested. “Besides, there’s what just happened to my mother…”

“It sucks, I know, but we can’t go yet,” said Usagi. “And we have to hang back from the OSA-P for a while, until…”

Their bickering finally stopped when Ikuko let out a shriek, unable to contain her terror and confusion a moment longer. The two girls sheepishly looked over to Ikuko, as if they just remembered she was there.

“Oh, right,” muttered Usagi. “Naru, the oil slick, you mind?”

Naru gazed over at Ikuko with a shameful expression, then jerked her shoulder back. The ooze receded into whenever Naru stored it inside her body. For a moment, Ikuko remained flattened against the door, despite not being pinned any longer. Also, she was unable to tear her eyes away from Naru. Back when Usagi started spending more time with girls like Rei and Makoto, with their bad reputations, Ikuko lamented how it seemed she was leaving Naru behind. What bitter irony, learning that Naru had a shady secret of her own.

“Well, that was my last good long-sleeved one you ripped apart,” said Usagi. She was digging in her closet again. Not a worry that such a dangerous mutant was in her bedroom. “Then again, I guess you don’t need long sleeves to cover up ooze anymore.”

Neither Naru or Ikuko really heard her. They kept staring at each other, crushing silence between them. What was there to say? Ikuko was scared out of her mind, frozen to the spot, while Naru actually seemed to wither from her gaze. What did Naru have to be afraid of, with freaky powers like that?

Just as Usagi fished out another uniform, Ikuko was nudged from her spot when the door was opened from the other side. Kenji and Shingo were forcing their way in. “Dear, was that you screaming? What’s…?” Her husband fell silent when he saw Naru standing there, some ooze still covering her skin.

“Oh God, she’s HERE!?” cried Shingo. “Who let her…” Usagi silenced him by driving her knuckles down onto his skull.

“I let her in, you little brat!” spat Usagi. “She needed a new set of clothes, and a place to lay low, at least for the night.”

“Of all stupid things to end all stupid things… Usagi, a MUTANT TERRORIST spending the night!?” demanded Shingo.

“Who just saved a dozen people on that monorail,” Usagi shot back. “If Papa was taking the monorail home from work, you’d be singing a different tune!”

Ikuko knew Usagi was right. Yet as she kept gaping at Naru, she couldn’t shake her terror. This sweet little girl who had been Usagi’s friend for so long, actually a mutant with dreadful power… “Usagi, you can’t be serious. She can’t stay here…”

“So you’re going to throw out someone you’ve known for years, even after she threw everything away to save total strangers? Fine,” Usagi challenged. She was making it plain she wouldn’t soon forgive Ikuko if she turned her back on her old friend.

“B-B-But Usagi, all the assaults she committed…” Ikuko protested.

“All against yakuza and those connected to them, to get them to back off from her mother!” Usagi snarled. “Who, in case no one told you, took a brick to the face after a mob formed outside their jewelry store!”

Ikuko gasped, looking back to Naru, who just quivered in silence and shame. A mob attacked Mayumi, just because her daughter was a mutant?

“It’s just for one night. Someplace familiar, before she makes a decision about where to go next,” Usagi went on. Further evidence that Dr. McCoy was out to recruit Naru. One night, and then this mutant would go across the Pacific, never to be seen again. Ikuko didn’t know if it was relief she felt, or vexation that a criminal would be getting away. Either way, Ikuko started to feel shame herself. “Anyway, if you can, I…”

Another voice cut Usagi off, and strangely, it came from directly above them. Looking up, Ikuko gasped again. That girl who was with McCoy this morning, now poked her head down THROUGH THE CEILING OF USAGI’S ROOM!? “Hey Usagi, Chibiusa wants to know how Naru’s doing. She thought she heard a scream, and…” Her words trailed off when she caught Usagi’s awkward expression. When Usagi pointed toward her door. Kitty turned her head around to see the rest of them, now wearing an awkward expression herself. “Oh. Hello again, Ms. Tsukino. I’m… just wrapping things up with Chibiusa up here. I’ll be out of your hair in a few minutes,” she said with a nervous laugh, right before her head vanished back through the ceiling.

An even more awkward silence hung over Usagi’s room than before. “Well, now you know how I got Naru in the house without anyone noticing,” Usagi said, shrugging her shoulders.

“So, she really was one of those freaks, too?” demanded Shingo. He hid behind his father when Usagi raised a fist.

Shingo had to retreat behind Ikuko when Kenji stepped closer to Naru. “Naru, I really do want to help you. I’ve been covering this story all day, and I understand what you’ve sacrificed.” It was then that Ikuko realized Kenji was addressing Naru as a person, rather than keep talking about her as if she wasn’t there. Shame welled up anew. “But, I’d be lying if I said I’m not worried about what happens if the police find out about this.”

“Oh, no one’ll find out. We don’t have any snitches here, now do we?” Usagi asked airily, shooting Shingo a dirty look. Shingo ducked behind Ikuko again.

“Still, he’s got a point, Usagi,” Naru said suddenly. “After what happened at the OSA-P, I couldn’t ask your family to do this. There are other places I could stay…”

“No. No way, Naru,” said Usagi. “You’ve always been welcome here, and that’s not changing.”

“Usagi, your father had a point,” said Ikuko. “If the police find out she’s here…”

Usagi sighed in annoyance, rubbing her forehead as she shut her eyes. “Fine, I hoped it wouldn’t have to come to playing this trump card, but here goes. Papa, exclusive interview with Dr. Hank McCoy if you let Naru stick around.”

Kenji’s eyes widened in shock and elation, and Ikuko knew it was over. Shingo saw it as well. “Mama, do something! We’re losing him!”

“Nothing I can do, Shingo,” said Ikuko. “It’s clear what his decision will be.”

“After all, it’s only one night,” said Kenji sheepishly, gazing apologetically at his wife. Ikuko didn’t really feel annoyed with him. In fact, she wasn’t sure what she was feeling, other than apprehension. This was Naru Osaka, one of Usagi’s oldest friends. As for her being a mutant, she had used her powers to save people on that monorail, and before that, only attacked yakuza to protect her mother, according to Usagi. Logically, there was no danger in keeping Naru here for a night or two, yet Ikuko couldn’t shake her fear. And that was the most shameful thing yet.

Naru sat alone on Usagi’s bed, more or less just staring into space, lost in her thoughts. Ikuko had finished cooking dinner some time ago, but not only was Naru’s appetite completely shot for once, she simply couldn’t face Usagi’s family again. Granted, Ikuko had good reason to be scared of her after nearly getting skewered. A pity that Naru could easily tell Ikuko’s anxiety stemmed from much more than that. Shingo was clearly petrified of her, though thankfully, he still seemed more fearful of his sister’s wrath. Even Kenji, someone who hero-worshipped the X-Men, seemed a little on edge, knowing such a dangerous mutant was in his home.

She tried not to imagine what was going on downstairs. No doubt it was the Tsukino family’s most awkward dinner ever. Trying to pretend everything was normal, trying to forget about the wanted mutant criminal upstairs, trying to pretend this revelation about an old family friend somehow didn’t change so much.

At least they’re still together, as a family, Naru realized bitterly. Umino’s parents will probably forbid him to ever see me again. Not like that would deter him, of course. And my mother got a brick in the face because of me. Hurt badly because of me, just like Nephrite. It could be much worse than Usagi or the X-Men are telling me, and I can’t even go see her! All this work, trying to keep the yakuza off her back, and now I can’t do a thing!

Tears flowed as Naru’s hands clenched into fists, nearly ripping into the mattress. Her life had been enough of a mess already. Why did things have to go from bad to complete and utter catastrophe!? All these months, working so hard to gain control over these powers, only to have it all thrown away, because she simply couldn’t let those people on the monorail die. Not to mention, all the people who wound up being protected by her disruption of yakuza activity. And how was she repaid? Cast out like a pariah, and her mother injured badly, their business threatened. Logan said X-Men always had to do the right thing. Did doing the ‘right thing’ always lead to so much heartbreak and disaster for them? Or did fate simply have it out for one Naru Osaka?

Naru was wallowing so deeply in her sorrow, she almost didn’t hear the door opening. Naru shut her eyes tightly, forcing her oil slick to lay dormant. This gunk always oozing out of her, it WOULD obey her, one way or another. Professor Xavier said he could help me with control. I guess he’ll have the chance. I may HAVE to go with him, just to escape all the people in Japan who want my head on a pike, Naru thought. She slowly turned and opened her eyes. “Oh, hey Usagi,” said Naru, seeing who it was. What a relief it wasn’t one of the others. “Is… dinner over?”

“Not really, but… It’s sickening how they’re all pretending there’s nothing amiss,” spat Usagi. “Going on as if everything’s all peachy, not a care in the world. Can’t dwell on the mutant monster upstairs, out of sight out of mind…”

Usagi sounded even more bitter about the situation than Naru expected. That was another thing she hated. As frustrated as Naru was with Usagi as of late, it still felt good, how their old friendship was getting patched up. But that cheerful optimism of hers was hardly anywhere to be found. It was as if Japan’s descent into anti-mutant paranoia made it vanish, crushed it completely. On top of that, the sheer venom in Usagi’s voice took Naru aback.

“It doesn’t matter Usagi. It’s not like I’m staying long term,” said Naru. “Besides, the sooner I go, the better.”

“Why should you go, Naru?” demanded Usagi, walking over to the foot of the bed. “You’ve always been welcome here before. That shouldn’t change.”

“It looks like it hasn’t. But just because you’re still welcome, doesn’t really mean you’re still wanted,” said Naru.

“All because you were born different,” scoffed Usagi. “Makes one wonder how they’d react, if they learned who Sailor Moon really is.”

“Sailor Moon’s not a mutant,” Naru pointed out.

“Exactly. Only mutants seem to get this stigma. Them, and no other super-beings,” said Usagi, hands on her hips. “Honestly, with the way the whole country’s turned against you, I wouldn’t be surprised if you went out and GAVE them a reason to be afraid. Starting with my mother downstairs. Still jittery around you, just because of a little slip-up. Well, maybe you should show her what your powers can do ON PURPOSE. It’s the only way to show you won’t be trifled with.”

The animosity in Usagi’s voice before was odd enough, but this!? Naru stared over at Usagi in disbelief, mouth agape. It took a moment for words to come to her. “U-U-U-Usagi, what’s with you!?” she demanded. “What’s going on!?”

Usagi said nothing. She simply closed her eyes and shook her head, sighing. But when she opened them again, they were a solid yellow, save for black irises formed from dots!

Naru gasped, scrambling backward on the bed. She could feel some ooze dribbling down her arms. ‘Usagi’ simply chuckled. “Oh, you should see the look on your face, Naru. Wait, hold on…” With that, some sort of wave washed over her. Her clothes changed to the short-sleeved version of the Juban Middle School uniform, her hair shortened and changed color… It was like looking in the mirror, at an exact copy of herself! Save for the eyes, which were still an eerie yellow. “You can!” she finished with a mirthful laugh.

Once again, Naru could only stare for a moment. At her own face, though twisted into a sardonic grin. “W-W-W-What are you?” she finally managed to splutter out.

Another wave went over the girl, and this time, more profound changes occurred. Her hair changed color to a vibrant red and lengthen a bit, and her skin turned a dark shade of blue. The school uniform suddenly became a leather jacket and a silvery-grey dress that went halfway past her knees. High heeled silvery-grey boots and a belt formed from little silver skulls completed the look. She also grew taller, towering over Naru like Storm did. Naru could only gape up at the stranger, noticing what looked like reptilian scales covering parts of her forehead and cheeks.

“I am Mystique,” she said to the befuddled girl, answering the question she’d already forgotten. “And I am much like you, Naru Osaka.”

“Another mutant?” It wasn’t really a question. She stared up at the blue-skinned woman a moment longer. “H-H-H-How’d you do that?”

“My power lets me shapeshift into any form I choose,” said Mystique, smiling. “It’s quite useful, obviously. But in the grand scheme of things, not quite as impressive as your array of mutant gifts.”

Naru ignored that last part. Her mutant powers certainly didn’t feel like ‘gifts’ as of late. “Why are you here?” she demanded.

“We are aware that the X-Men have made you an offer, to join their team,” said Mystique. “I’ve come to make a counteroffer.”

Naru was dubious. It had been Usagi’s aim to get her to join the X-Men, out of the belief they could teach her how to master her powers. No one ever mentioned a blue shapechanger belonging to another mutant group. “Who’s ‘we’?”

“Oh, certainly the X-Men you’ve spoken to have mentioned the Brotherhood,” said Mystique innocently.

“You mean the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants?” Naru asked dryly.

Mystique chuckled. “Well, we did drop the ‘Evil Mutants’ part a long time ago. Bad for the PR, you could say. It was to make a statement, though. A play on how humans think all mutants are simply creatures of evil, an excuse to hate us just because we exist. Something you’ve become all too familiar with.”

There was certainly no arguing with Mystique about that. Naru looked down, seeing ooze that inadvertently flowed down her arms, due to her shock. She willed it to recede, but some inky stains remained.

“Even if you hadn’t revealed your secret today, Naru, there’s no hiding the truth from yourself,” said Mystique, noticing. “You’ve seen the people of your home country swiftly turn against our kind since your powers surfaced, even as the Sailor Senshi bask in their adoration. Supplanting even Sunfire, another mutant, as Japan’s symbol of heroic might.”

Naru suddenly felt even more uneasy. Mystique was clearly probing for vulnerabilities. Unfortunately, Naru could feel it working. Resentment began to bubble up, despite herself. “I guess that’s to be expected. Sailor Moon tries to infuse people with hope and optimism. I wanted the Eclipse persona to be feared.”

“The people of Japan would have hated whatever alternate identity you created, simply knowing it to be that of a mutant,” said Mystique. “It’s always the same story, Naru. Over in America, the X-Men are detested no matter how much ‘good’ they do. As opposed to revered heroes like the Fantastic Four, the Avengers… Even Spider-Man and the Hulk get better publicity than the X-Men. And they expect you to join them? Flee one country that’s treating you as a pariah, only to have the same thing happen on the other side of the Pacific?”

Mystique had a point. It would be just like Naru insinuated to Logan. While in their mansion, there would be no persecution, only to face it anew every time she got into uniform and left it. She was already iffy about the idea of actually becoming a superhero, but if this was what would happen…  “B-B-But heroes don’t do what they do for fame. They do it because of an ideal they believe in,” Naru stammered, turning her gaze to the floor.

“And can you still believe in Xavier’s ideals, Naru?” Mystique asked delicately. She sat down beside Naru, placing a hand on her shoulder. Naru glanced at it, noticing the scaly protrusions on the back of her hand. “After all these years, they still cling to this dream that normal humans can live peacefully with our kind. Naru, they can’t even live in peace with their own kind. Just ask your mother. And who knows how your man’s peers will treat him, now knowing he dares to love a mutant.”

That cut right into Naru’s heart. She looked back to Mystique, tears welling up again. “What are you offering, then?” she demanded. “It’s not like a couple of normal humans would be welcome among the Brotherhood.”

“If safeguarding two humans is the price for your trust and loyalty, so be it,” said Mystique simply. “I would accept your conditions without hesitation, and so would Magneto.”

Naru shuddered a little. The Brotherhood apparently still had ties to the most dreaded mutant of all. “Magneto? Protecting humans?” she spat, dubious.

“As overbearing and obstinate as the Master of Magnetism can be, you’ll find he’s a man of his word,” said Mystique. “He can do more to protect them than the X-Men could. Asteroid M is a tad bit harder to breach than their school.”

As much as it sickened Naru, she found herself tempted by Mystique’s offer. All this time, she hadn’t been able to keep yakuza from harassing her mother, not entirely. And now Umino was in danger. On top of that, seeing how everyone reacted upon seeing her use her powers in public cut Naru to the core. It wasn’t just the idea of being a Sailor Senshi that had lost its luster. The notion of being a superhero in general was looking less and less appealing, if these were the consequences.

Still, Naru had deep reservations. She still couldn’t see herself hurting people as part of the Brotherhood, truly becoming the villain. “I… don’t know, Mystique. I have no real love for the rest of humanity right now, but I’m not angry enough to lash out at them. They’re not evil, just scared.”

“Because they know we’re the next phase of evolution,” said Mystique. “Their fear and hate stems from what they refuse to admit to themselves. Look at yourself, Naru. You’re over a hundred times stronger than the most accomplished human bodybuilder. You harness an energy that still baffles the best scientists, Dr. Reed Richards included. Your body commands an extension of itself that can only be compared to an alien creature. They hate you because they know you’re superior, and you’re just a glimpse of what mutantkind is capable of. That hate will lead them to lashing out at US, Naru. Sentinels would only be the beginning. What I’m asking you is to help us strike before that happens, to safeguard a future for our own kind. We must stick together, Naru. The Sailor Senshi weren’t there for you, but the Brotherhood looks out for their own.”

It scared Naru, how a lot of what Mystique was saying made sense. Still, she couldn’t bring herself to say yes. “I-I-I-I can’t, Mystique. I don’t think I could be a part of whatever it is Magneto wants.”

“It’s not something I’d ask you to decide right away,” said Mystique. She reached into a pocket on her jacket and pulled something out. “Take this, Naru. Think over what we’ve discussed. Something tells me you’ll see things differently soon enough. When you do, I can arrange a face-to-face meeting with Magneto himself, and you can ask him whatever you want. All you have to do is give me a call.” Mystique took Naru’s hand in hers, and placed a small device in it.

Naru stared at what Mystique put in her hand. Erik Magnus Lehnsherr, the dreaded Master of Magnetism… Supposedly, he was out to keep mutants from going through what happened to the Jews during the Holocaust. Did that justify what he had done over the years? Naru once thought she could easily say ‘no’, but after today…

A knock at the door made Naru look over her shoulder. “Naru, can I come in? Are you OK?” came Usagi’s voice.

Naru looked back to Mystique, but she had suddenly vanished. A sudden chill made Naru look to the now-open window. Gone, in a flash, but she left Naru with a means to reach her again.

Usagi opened up when Naru didn’t answer. “Uh, Naru, there’s plenty of leftovers if you’re hungry. And, well, given your power, you probably are.”

Naru couldn’t bring herself to meet Usagi’s eyes. “T-T-T-Thanks, Usagi. I-I-I might come down soon,” she got out.

“Naru, is something wrong?” asked Usagi delicately.

Oh, nothing’s wrong. Other than the whole country knows I’m a mutant vigilante and is screaming for my head, my mother got a brick in the face because of it, and the family that’s known me for years is keeping me at arm’s length! Naru wanted to scream. But she couldn’t. Instead, Naru looked down at the communications device in the palm of her hand. She could easily crush it into dust, right then and there. She knew she should.

But she couldn’t do that either.
Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse - Chapter 17
Things go from bad to worse after Naru reveals she is Eclipse. An angry mob gathers outside the OSA-P, and her mother is injured in the ensuing chaos, while Naru is forced to seek refuge at the Tsukinos' house, despite the wariness of Usagi's parents. Feeling more isolated than ever, Naru finds strange comfort in the words of a newcomer, who has an offer of her own...

Disclaimer: Sailor Moon is the creation and property of Naoko Takeuchi and Toei Animation. X-Men is the creation and property of Stan Lee, Marvel Comics and Disney.

Cover done by :iconkurumi-lover:, and he a DAMN fine job!
Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse
a Sailor Moon/X-Men crossover
Chapter 16: Off the Rails

Rei’s eyes slowly fluttered open as the early rays of dawn crept into her bedroom. This previous night and the last had, mercifully, given the Shinto priestess restful, dreamless sleep. Which was surprising, given all that had happened to the Senshi, and the tough times that doubtlessly lay ahead, despite having new allies. Never mind how said allies proved their worth by locking horns with the Sailor Senshi, battling them all to a standstill. That is, until Usagi and the X-Men’s founder showed up and told them to knock it off.

She still had mixed feelings about Usagi’s arrangement with the X-Men. Their Blackbird was still hidden behind the shrine. One of the most dangerous superhero teams from the other side of the world, practically camping in her backyard. Rei hated to admit it, but she still found that a little disconcerting. Still, in hindsight, getting help from those who fought Sentinels countless times was such an obvious choice, it was ridiculous how that meathead Usagi was the only one who figured it was worth pursuing. Then there was the reason Usagi tracked them down in the first place: Naru.

If only Usagi had told us. Maybe we could’ve done something for her. Figured out her mother was being harassed by yakuza and stepped in, Rei mused as she slowly sat up. In a way, she understood what gnawed at Naru’s heart all too well. All the whispered comments when people thought Rei couldn’t hear, the anxious stares of those unnerved by stories of her spiritual powers… And now with so many in Japan growing fearful of mutants, it was little wonder Naru was so terrified of her secret ever getting out. And now there’s such bitterness in Naru, because she feels we neglected her. And what did we end up doing? Try to blow her away. How do we make things right, after all that?

Her eyes finally opening fully upon sitting up, Rei was greeted with a most unwelcome sight. A pair of alien eyes staring back at her, and breath that carried an unfamiliar, noxious smell wafting up her nostrils. For a moment, Rei just stared wide-eyed at the alien dragon who had perched himself on her knees, staring back at her curiously. Then, with a scowl and a scream, Rei shoved Lockheed away. The little dragon snarled in protest. “Ugh, Lockheed, any special reason you’re in here!?” demanded Rei as he fluttered about. “Just because Kitty’s our ally now doesn’t mean you can barge in on us anytime. Especially in a place that’s not exactly fireproof.”

“Don’t worry, Rei. I’ve been keeping an eye on him,” came Artemis’s voice. Rei turned to see Minako’s cat partner glaring over at the fluttering dragon. Lockheed promptly landed in front of Artemis, glaring into the cat’s eyes as he had done with Rei moments ago. The tension that lingered between those two was still palpable. Artemis still had some lingering doubts about the X-Men, so little wonder he hadn’t yet gone back with Minako.

“Whatever, just make sure Yuuichirou and my grandfather don’t see him,” said Rei as she got out of bed. After throwing on a clean shrine maiden outfit in the bathroom, Rei made her way outside. The sun hadn’t completely emerged over the horizon, so a chill still hung in the morning air. Which made Rei aware of some aches that still lingered from the other night. To think, that Iceman guy packed such power, cold that seeped into the marrow of her bones, the Senshi that commanded flames! But he’s out of the country now. So are Rogue and Gambit, the Outers’ two least-favorite X-Men. So maybe they won’t be so edgy when our teams assemble again, Rei reasoned.

Still, the X-Men who remained weren’t exactly staying out of sight. Rei caught a glimpse of two figures clad in training gis, going at it in the grass not too far from the front of the shrine. At first glance, one might guess they were twins, given one wasn’t much taller than the other, and both sported brown hair tied back in ponytails. But upon further inspection, one would notice the Caucasian features of the shorter girl.

“Ugh, those two are at it again!?” Rei demanded of no one in particular. It was Kitty’s idea to have these sparring sessions, to get any lingering frustration out of their systems. Evidently, Makoto was far more miffed with Kitty than Rei could ever be with Iceman. Makoto came at Kitty with a howl, but Kitty sidestepped and grappled her to the ground, using Makoto’s momentum and mass against her. But Makoto’s strength, even while not transformed, meant Kitty couldn’t hold her for long. Before Kitty could get Makoto’s arms in a lock, she shoved Kitty off. Kitty sprang right back up, blocking a series of kicks Makoto launched at her face.

Rei winced a little. It would be a miracle if Kitty wasn’t bruised all over after these sparring sessions. Yet this was something both insisted upon. Mamoru once said harsh collisions were sometimes necessary for two hearts to understand each other. Hopefully, this meant that Sailor Jupiter and Shadowcat would understand each other very well.

“Ahh, such youthful energy,” came her grandfather’s voice all of a sudden. Rei hadn’t noticed him and Yuuichirou were standing at the front of the shrine as well. Unsurprisingly, her grandfather was paying VERY close attention to the girls’ sparring match. “And much easier on the eyes than the other one who’s sticking around.”

“I’ll second that,” Yuuichirou said. Rei was about to bean him good, but then he added, “This other guy who you took on as a temp… Seriously, he’s spooky.”

“Other guy? Temp?” Rei muttered. Looking around, Rei spotted someone else seated on the front balcony, some distance away from her grandfather and Yuuichirou. Rei froze in shock, mouth hanging open as she saw Logan sitting there, wearing the outfit of a Shinto priest trainee. He hadn’t taken notice of Rei, nor was he watching his fellow X-Man spar with Makoto. He just… sat there, staring straight ahead. Was he meditating? No, Rei could sense he was quite mindful of all his surroundings.

Still, Rei wanted to know what this was all about. As she approached, it struck her how enigmatic this whole situation was. How could Logan stick out like a sore thumb, sitting there like that, yet still give the impression that he belonged? Tranquility wasn’t a word one would use to describe the mutant fighting machine known as Wolverine, yet as he sat there, ‘tranquility’ fit the man perfectly. There was still a hardness to him as he stared ahead, but somehow sitting there like that made him look thoughtful, and almost vulnerable.

“What’re you doing out here?” Rei hissed. “Getting Grandpa to take you in as a temp, Logan? Come on, way to keep a low profile.”

“Just fulfilling our end of the bargain,” Logan whispered back, still staring straight ahead.

“Your… end of the bargain?” Rei echoed dubiously.

“You Senshi are our allies now,” said Logan. “It sounds like Kizachi’s figured out who all of you are, and if she’s workin’ with Magneto, his whole cabal might know too. I’m standin’ watch, darlin’. If any of ‘em comes to mess with the Senshi or their headquarters, they mess with me.” The hard edge to those final words could not be ignored.

Rei didn’t know what to say. Minako had made it sound like the Wolverine was a wild animal, lusting after battle. Yet here he was, a quiet guardian, content to let a fight come to him instead of seeking out conflict. And she was still mystified by how that outfit looked like it belonged on Logan, despite how he looked so out of place sitting there. She still wished to know how he understood the Japanese so well, but something told her it still wasn’t the right time.

“In the meantime, Cable’s got the Tsukino place covered from a distance, now that we’re all back from Kizachi Technologies,” Logan went on. “Me and Kitty were lookouts for Ororo. She was tryin’ to break in. It wasn’t easy, even with Ororo’s thieving talents.”

“I thought Gambit was the X-Men’s thief,” said Rei.

“He’s a</b> thief among the X-Men, not our only one,” said Logan. “Anyway, as for me, I’m here only until the Professor wakes up and can keep track of everyone.” Rei forced herself to stand firm. She wouldn’t let Logan think the thought of such a powerful mutant telepath residing right behind the shrine still made her anxious. “It shouldn’t be much longer. Once he can take over, me and Kitty got some business elsewhere.”

“What, more intel gathering regarding the yakuza?” asked Rei delicately.

“Did some more of that last night. Soon enough, I’ll get back to it,” said Logan simply. “But in the meantime, there’s other stuff I gotta do regarding Osaka. Your princess thinks she’s a good fit for the X-Men? Well, she’s had time to calm down after what happened the other night. High time we stated our case. Let her decide.”

The sun finally rose, and much work was left to do in the house. Yet Ikuko could not pull her gaze away from the television. She stood there in the middle of the living room, suffering from déjà vu. Here was yet another morning news report about anonymously donated footage showing a fight between the Sailor Senshi and the X-Men. Only this time, it was in the middle of a shipyard, rather than some back alley. And the devastation left behind in the wake of those two teams clashing was extreme. Something the newscaster did not hesitate to emphasize, though she seemed quite intent on pinning the bulk of the blame on the X-Men.

“A good chunk of the shipyard is in shambles after the mutants from overseas once again took on the Sailor Senshi, with over a score of cargo containers destroyed and one of its cranes damaged beyond repair,” said the news anchor. Ikuko’s hands flew to her mouth as she watched a woman in an eerie black suit fly, calling down lightning against a Sailor Senshi standing atop a crane. She thought only one of the other Senshi could do that! Her, and the supposed Asgardian thunder god with the Avengers. Yet here was someone BORN with that power due to a genetic quirk, not magic. And she was only one mutant among millions and millions!

More footage was shown of Senshi fighting the mutants. A man made of ice, creating a ‘slide’ to travel on, shooting blasts of cold down at Sailor Mars! One struck her shoulder, making her shriek. It looked like Sailor Mars’s arm went numb for a moment. Thankfully, Sailor Mercury was there too. She conjured piledriving tendrils of icy water from a harp that smashed apart his ice slide, and knocked him silly. After he hit the ground, Mars returned the favor by clipping the ice guy’s shoulder with a blazing arrow, while Mercury generated fog to stymie a man of SOLID METAL flanking them. He was much quicker than he looked, however. He managed to grab Mercury and toss her against the side of a van, so hard the windows shattered.

I can’t believe it… How dare they go after the Senshi like this!? Ikuko wondered silently as the newscaster went on. A man of metal, a man of ice… To think, there were so many people out there like this! It made Ikuko queasy, but as she thought back to that man of ice... Wait a minute, didn’t Kenji say there was an X-Man like that, went they first went after Magneto!? After Usagi’s outburst the other day, she asked Kenji about that. Ikuko had thought he’d never stop, going on and on about how the X-Men drove Magneto off in only a few minutes, after the American soldiers were rendered helpless for almost a day!

But Magneto was still around, and perhaps even in Japan! The very thought made Ikuko’s knees weak. Weren’t the X-Men still supposed to go after him? Yet they were constantly fighting the Sailor Senshi instead. It didn’t sound like her husband would see it that way. He was disheartened by how they were butting heads with Japan’s defenders, yet he hadn’t lost faith in them. And that obviously rubbed off on Usagi.

Usagi losing it the other day shook Ikuko to the core. What made her daughter explode like that? Usagi demanded to know what she would do if turned out she and Shingo were mutants. The hell of it was Ikuko truthfully still didn’t know. She loved her children dearly, and would still love them if they wound up being… different. But if Ikuko was honest with herself, she had to admit she had no idea how such a revelation would affect her. All those stories of parents rejecting their children… Ikuko would refuse to go that route. But Usagi raising such an uncomfortable question forced Ikuko to think long and hard. She truly was growing fearful of these mutants, but if Usagi was born different like they were, how could she justify trusting in her, yet fearing the rest?

The doorbell ringing snapped Ikuko out of her troubled thoughts. Before she could even take a step, she heard Shingo say, “I’ll get the door!” She then heard the door open, followed by a shriek of surprise from her son.

Eyes widening, Ikuko rushed out of the living room and toward the front door. Shingo had stumbled and fallen back upon opening it. Ikuko looked to see what had startled him, and barely suppressed a shriek herself.

Standing in the doorway was this big, blue, monstrous being, wearing a suit that belied his fiendish appearance. Though he was… smiling, as if nothing was amiss. He wasn’t alone, either. At his side was a girl only a few years older than Usagi from the looks of it, and a gruff-looking little man, barely the girl’s height! Both of them looked like they were from the West, and that monstrous beast showed himself to be as well, suddenly speaking with what was definitely an American accent. Yet, he spoke Japanese! Perfect Japanese!

“I apologize for the intrusion at such an early hour, madam, but Usagi Tsukino agreed to accompany us this morning, and we’re here to pick her up,” said the blue-furred beast. Ikuko was still flummoxed, but then, something clicked in the back of her mind. Kenji said that one of the original X-Men, the Beast, grew blue fur later on, taking on an even more monstrous appearance. Could this be him?

Shaking her head as if to banish her unease, Ikuko stepped forward, reaching down to hoist Shingo back on his feet. “And you… Correct me if I’m wrong, but are you Dr. Henry McCoy, the world-famous biochemist?” Ikuko managed to get out. As she waited for an answer, Ikuko realized she was holding Shingo close. She fervently hoped that these three didn’t pick up on that.

“Why, I most certainly am,” said McCoy amicably. “I’m here with fellow instructors at our school, Logan and Kitty Pryde.” The two with him… They both did a quick bow. They observed Japanese mannerisms as well? In a way, encountering Westerners who understood her language and culture so well was just as surprising as suddenly coming face-to-face with a mutant. And those other two, were they also mutants? “We’re on a… recruitment drive of sorts while we’re conducting business in your country,” McCoy went on.

“Recruitment drive?” Shingo echoed dubiously. “Don’t tell me you actually think my dumbass sister can sit in your classes…”

“Well, it’s not exactly Usagi who’s being offered enrollment,” said Kitty. “It’s a friend of hers, and she’s offered to come along so she can help make a decision.”

“In any case, don’t sell your sister short,” added Logan. “The kid’s made of sterner stuff than you realize.”

It was then that there was a sharp, resounding wail from the floor above. “AHHHH! Dr. McCoy is here already!? Oh, I’m so behind!” The next thing Ikuko knew, her daughter appeared at the top of the stairwell. But in her haste, she tripped, and wound up descending the stairs by bouncing on her butt the whole way down, crying in pain the whole time.

For a moment, all of them could only stare awkwardly where Usagi had fallen. As Usagi rubbed her aching behind, Shingo said, “Well, maybe you got a point about ‘sterner stuff’…”

Ikuko, meanwhile, kept staring down at her daughter. She recalled how some time ago, she regretted seeing her drift away from her old friend Naru Osaka. Instead, she spent more time with girls with shady reputations, like Rei Hino and Makoto Kino. Yet when Ikuko got to know those girls, she found the frightful rumors surrounding them to be nothing but vapor. Maybe these three had a point. Maybe Usagi was, in a way, wiser than she was. She clearly saw that mutants, as a whole, were worth sticking up for. Ikuko wondered if Usagi would wind up teaching her a thing or two.

Umino stared up at the American standing in his doorway, who smiled down at him slyly. His father was working another late shift, and his mother was out of town on business, so Umino was quite alone. That was for the best, as it turned out. This Remy LeBeau brought some unwelcome news. He looked exhausted and battered, and reeked of seawater, yet delivered his news with a wry smile all the same.

“W-W-W-What are you talking about?” demanded Umino, doing his best to play dumb. To not let it show that his worst fears might be realized. “W-W-Who are you anyway? H-H-How do you know about my girlfriend? Why are…”

“No need to play dumb, Umino. Your lady’s secret is safe with us,” LeBeau cut in. Umino just scowled back at him, not trusting him at all. “Because, y’see, your lady and I, we got somethin’ in common.” With that, LeBeau whipped out of a playing card seemingly from nowhere. After holding it a few seconds, it began to glow, and Umino noticed his eyes gave off a black and pink glow of their own. Despite his resolve, Umino took a step back. There was no telling what this power of LeBeau’s could do.

Thankfully, nothing destructive, at least not here. LeBeau tossed it into the air, and the card crumbled into ash in a flash of light. “I can charge whatever I touch with pure kinetic energy. Charge it up enough, and a single card can total a car, or even a mansion,” explained LeBeau. “Sort of like how your lady can take apart something a dozen different ways.”

It sank in that playing dumb was useless on this guy, but mutant or not, Umino still didn’t really trust him. There were bad mutants out there as well as good. Plus, he looked like that guy on the news, one of the three X-Men who went after Naru. Until he was sure of what he wanted from the two of them…

“Long story short, we figured out she’s the one callin’ herself Eclipse,” LeBeau went on. “And before you go getting all flustered, her secret’s safe, like I said. We got somethin’ to offer her. Her and you both.”

“OK, I’ll play along,” said Umino anxiously. “What is it?”

“Well, actually, it’s not exactly the same thing for the both of you,” LeBeau admitted. “Anyway, since you’re a smart kid, you’ll piece it together once the press gets wind of what just went down at the shipyard, so I’ll just tell it to you straight.” Umino tried to keep his eyes from widening. For days, Naru had talked about intercepting yakuza bribing shipyard workers in order to make a clandestine delivery. “I’m one of the X-Men, and we’re offering your girl a slot on our team.”

So he just came out and said it. With all the research he had done on mutants in his zeal to help Naru, Umino naturally came across copious material on the X-Men. The infamous mutant group branded as outlaws by many, but was always there to tackle mutants abusing their powers, especially Magneto. And now, they wanted Naru in their ranks? Well, she was tough enough for the job, that was for certain. Yet Umino doubted that would interest her much. Every day was now a struggle to keep her life in Tokyo from falling apart! The stress of actually being a superhero might be an offer Naru could easily refuse.

“Let’s assume that, yes, my girlfriend’s a mutant, and she would agree to join you,” Umino said in a reserved tone. “What’s that got to do with me? I don’t have any mutant powers…”

“Well, Naru said you’ve got a big brain in a head screwed on right,” LeBeau said with a grin. “That’s why you’d be a shoo-in for this.” LeBeau reached into his coat and pulled out a stack of papers. No, not just papers, big fat brochures. He handed then to Umino who, despite himself, flipped through them eagerly.

“The… Xavier Institute for Higher Learning?” he said dubiously, looking it all over. The late hour, and the shock of Naru’s secret getting out, dulled his thought process. But soon enough, the name clicked. “Wait a… Charles Xavier’s school!? The guy who literally wrote the book on human mutation!?”

“And founded the X-Men. He be a mutant too, Umino,” said LeBeau. Umino stared back up at the American in utter shock. “The school’s a front for our other operations. But while the X-Men are all mutants, that don’t mean the regular students all have to be. There’s no way Naru would ever go to the States without you, so you’d get enrolled, no question.”

This was too good to be true. The fabled X-Men, led by Charles Xavier himself… They’d be able to train Naru in the use of her powers far better than he dared dream! And he’d go along with her, to one of the most prestigious institutions on the planet!?

“There’s a catch. There has to be,” Umino muttered.

“Other than going to the other side o’ the world? Not really,” said LeBeau. He then put a hand on Umino’s shoulder and pulled him close. “Not a lot of guys out there would be so loyal to their girl upon findin’ out their DNA looks all funny. You’re different. You got somethin’ too many boys don’t, and you be proud of it, not carin’ what anyone else thinks. Consider this your reward. And the ultimate romantic getaway for the two of you.”

Umino scowled up at him again. “Sounds like you’re about to give all sorts of advice about girls…”

LeBeau let out a barking laugh. “Actually, I was thinkin’ we could compare notes. I’m all ears about how you handle a girlfriend that can punch a hole in a mountain!” After laughing again, LeBeau said, “Unfortunately, I gotta be leavin’ the Land of the Rising Sun. Some of the other X-Men be stayin’, though, and they’ll be by in a day or two…”

For the last day or so, Umino still half-believed LeBeau’s visit was just a dream, despite the stack of brochures still lying around in his room, offering tantalizing insights into Xavier’s school. And despite Naru coming by to tell him that, yes, the X-Men were here in Japan, and were ready to enroll the both of them.

Even now, as the two of them sat in Mayumi Osaka’s private study above the jewelry store, Umino had a hard time believing it. He sat at Naru’s left on one couch, his hand over hers. Her skin… Silky smooth, but nowadays Umino couldn’t help but think it felt like hard rubber. Bulletproof, according to her, yet it couldn’t keep fear and self-loathing from seeping into her heart. For their meeting, she threw on one of her old long-sleeved school uniforms. The special versions of her new high school uniform her mother bought had yet to arrive. On the couch directly across from them were Dr. Henry McCoy and his two companions from the United States. Dr. McCoy, the world-famous biochemist, would be one of their teachers!? The girl, Kitty Pryde, was apparently an instructor too, despite being only a few years older than either of them. She had an air of maturity about her, though. But that last guy, this Logan… Umino had no idea what he taught, and he dreaded finding out.

Usagi Tsukino also sat with the three X-Men. She looked even more anxious than Umino felt, and there was good reason. Naru said her suspicions about their friend were on the money. Yet even though Sailor Moon and Eclipse had clashed more than once, Umino sensed no anger between them. There was too much regret and confusion for that.

“Please understand, Dr. McCoy, that I’m grateful for what you’re offering my daughter. And how you’re being so… forthcoming about all that it would entail,” said Mayumi Osaka, who was sitting at Naru’s right. She reached for the table in between the couches, pouring herself more tea. “But as a mother, it’s hard to let Naru go clear across the world before she’s truly grown up. Not to mention you want to train her to become, well, one of the X-Men.” The three of them let Naru’s mother in on who they really were. Despite seeing them on the news fighting the Sailor Senshi over her daughter, however, she was willing to hear them out. Finding out your own flesh and blood was a mutant, and always doubting if you could do the right thing, left one open to whatever options presented themselves.

“It’s Naru’s choice whether or not she becomes an X-Man,” said Logan. “She’ll need more training to fully control her powers, regardless.”

“In the meantime, she’d get the best education,” added Kitty. “She could stay on with us as an X-Man and teach others, or return to Japan, with total control and contribute to bettering her homeland.”

“I-I-I feel like I’ve gotten better at control already, thanks to Umino,” said Naru nervously. Umino wished she wouldn’t put him on the spot like that. Compared to what Professor Xavier and Dr. McCoy could do for her, his efforts were pitiful stopgap measures. “As for actually being a superhero… I don’t know. It’s fun to think about it, but now that it may actually be possible, I’m not sure.”

“Besides, what if she’s called to confront this… Magneto?” Mayumi demanded, her voice shaking a little as she said that name. “Dr. McCoy, I understand that you were among the X-Men who fought him that first time, yes? Weren’t you still a teenager yourself?”

“I most certainly was,” said McCoy. “Though Professor Xavier trained us for a good long while before that fateful day at Cape Citadel.”

“Chuck knew Lehnsherr was out there, plannin’ something that wasn’t kosher. He knew the world had to be ready,” added Logan.

“At any rate, nowadays, potential recruits go through a lengthier training period, that’s far more rigorous, before they’re allowed to put on a uniform and rush into the thick of things,” said Kitty. “You have our word, Ms. Osaka, that your daughter would not be asked to fight someone like Magneto until she’s had sufficient training.”

This placated Mayumi a little, but Naru seemed to grow more doubtful. “Y-Y-You three really think I could be powerful enough to fight a mutant like THAT!?” The notion scared Naru as much as it fascinated her.

“Not precisely,” McCoy said quickly. “You must understand that Magneto is an exceptionally powerful mutant. The X-Men, and other groups, have only defeated him through rigorous teamwork. And from what I’ve surmised, this is how the Sailor Senshi defeat the majority of their foes as well.” Umino saw Usagi and Naru’s gazes meet, an uneasy look in their eyes. He could guess why. From what he pieced together, the Sailor Senshi used teamwork to render Naru helpless, only to be crushed upon discovering it was her the whole time.

“I saw that, on the news,” said Mayumi. “That’s how you kept the Sailor Senshi away from my daughter. I still can’t believe it was them who tried to bring her in.”

“That leaked footage didn’t tell the whole story,” Kitty cut in. “The Sailor Senshi now realize their mistake. They won’t be coming after your daughter any longer.”

“‘Specially since there’s no longer any need for an Eclipse,” added Logan. “I’ll be takin’ over the yakuza-suppressin’ duties. There’s a reason they call me ‘gaijin’.”

“You, Mr. Logan?” asked Mayumi dubiously. “You hinted at this before, but how… Just what is your power?”

“Mostly stuff you’d rather not see,” said Logan dismissively. “I’m the best at what I do, but it’s not pretty. But I’ll let you in on somethin’ that’ll help me out. Let’s just say I can tell you passed a sushi place and a florist on the way back here.” He then made a show of sniffing.

“I… see,” said Mayumi nervously. She then turned her gaze to Kitty. “But… what about you?”

Kitty smiled as she stood up. She took a few steps forward, and Mayumi gaped when she saw her legs pass right through the table!

Umino couldn’t keep from gawking himself. “You… have the ability to pass through solid matter!?” This defied most known laws of physics. But then again, so did a girlfriend who kept an oily exoskeleton in pocket dimensions housed just underneath her skin, not to mention harnessed an elusive form of energy. And if Usagi was truly Sailor Moon… THAT was a whole other can of worms!

“That and more,” said Kitty proudly as she backed up and sat back down.

Mayumi’s hand had flown to her heart. Despite seeing Naru use her mutant powers many times, seeing other examples still unsettled her. “Please, forgive me, Ms. Pryde. I… It’s ridiculous, I know, showing such unease after seeing what my daughter can do. And even meeting Shiro Yoshida in person.”

“You’ve met Sunfire? Oh, that must’ve been fun,” quipped Logan.

“It’s OK, Ms. Osaka,” said Usagi. “You’d be surprised what the X-Men let roll off their backs.”

“Ms. Tsukino is quite right. What matters is you’ve done right by your daughter,” said McCoy. “That’s, sadly, something that cannot be said of all parents who discover their children have mutant gifts.”

Or men who find that out about their girlfriends, Umino added silently, giving Naru’s hand a squeeze. He wondered if she even noticed.

“And I want to keep doing what’s best for her, even if it’ll hurt to let her go far sooner than I would’ve liked,” said Mayumi, looking ready to cry. “Even if I wasn’t so willing, well, Naru’s not exactly a child anymore.” Turning to her daughter, she said, “Naru, you do realize that whatever you choose, I’m behind you.”

“I’m… still not sure what to do,” said Naru. “These last few months, I’ve been laser-focused on protecting you and making sure I don’t slip up in public. But now that I may not have to worry about either… I-I-I-I just haven’t thought about what comes after.”

“That’s part of Professor Xavier’s life work, Ms. Osaka. To reach out to young mutants like yourself, to grant them opportunities they may not otherwise consider when mired in fear and uncertainty,” said McCoy. “Our hope would be that you no longer see your powers as a curse, but a blessing. Something that can be harnessed for the good of all.”

“That’s what bein’ an X-Man is all about,” added Logan. “Doin’ the right thing, no matter what.”

Naru still looked conflicted, uncertain. After considering their pleas in silence for a moment, she turned to Umino. “What about you? You’ve been offered a spot, too. Would you really want to go through with this?”

On the surface, the answer should’ve been obvious. But now that Naru put him on the spot, the totality of what was being asked of him sank in. Sure, he’d be studying under two of the most revered scientists in the modern age. On the flipside, not only would he be leaving Japan for years, but at this school, HE’D be the oddball. Well, a bigger oddball than usual. A normal human among scores of mutant students? But as he stared into Naru’s eyes, the answer came to him. None of that mattered so long as she could stay with THIS mutant.

“Wherever you go, I go, Naru,” said Umino, squeezing her hand even tighter. “I don’t know of anything that would change that.”

Though their meeting with her mother was finished, and she had given Naru her blessing to choose whatever path she wanted, her day with Usagi and the X-Men wasn’t over. She still had many questions to ask them. About what life would be like at Xavier’s school and as an X-Man. Not to mention, she still had questions for Usagi about what Sailor Moon was really all about. You don’t dump a story like that, something involving a magical kingdom from millennia ago and reincarnation in present day, all at once. It still rankled, how Usagi kept it a secret all this time. At least she was forthcoming now, finally.

At the moment, however, there wasn’t much talking. Out the corner of her eye, Naru saw Usagi staring at her, utterly baffled. Little surprise, there. After leaving the OSA-P, the two of them, along with Umino and the three X-Men, went to the Fruits Parlor Crown. That in itself wasn’t unusual. She had come here with Umino and Usagi many, many times. What was different, however, was Usagi never saw her pig out like this. Naru’s chopsticks moved at warp speed, shoveling the contents of her sushi tray into her mouth. And this wasn’t her first tray. Rather, it was her SIXTH.

“Are you really the girl that berated me for trying to eat lunch early that one day?” Usagi demanded with a deadpan air. “Seriously, does anyone have a camera? I want documented evidence for the next time Rei accuses me of being a pig.”

“I can’t help it, Usagi! I get so insanely hungry nowadays!” Naru cried in protest, throwing down the empty tray. “Believe me, I have no idea how I haven’t put on weight when sometimes it feels like I can EAT my own body weight. And some days, I probably have.”

“Doubtless this is all part of your mutant physiology,” McCoy interjected. “That oil slick doesn’t appear out of nowhere, after all. You must metabolize a massive amount of food, especially foods rich in protein, to build it up and replenish whatever mass is lost in battle.” Naru sensed rather than felt Usagi wince and shiver. The Sailor Senshi were responsible for most of the lost mass in her oil slick. Naturally, Usagi didn’t want any reminders of that. Naru didn’t want to dwell on it either. Today was all about reforging old bonds, as well as building new ones.

Thankfully, McCoy had to keep quiet about her mutant powers now that Unazaki arrived to refill drinks and gather up empty plates and trays. And bring yet another sushi tray. As hungry as she was, Naru just told her to keep them coming until she said otherwise. She couldn’t help but notice how Unazaki’s gaze kept shifting nervously over to McCoy. Unazaki cut it out, however, when Usagi cleared her throat and shot her a dirty look.

Usagi kept glaring at Unazaki, even after she turned and left. “I don’t believe it. Even Unazaki… I can’t believe how this country’s so distrustful of your kind, now.”

As for Naru, she suddenly didn’t feel as hungry anymore. Typically, Usagi was such an insufferable optimist. Now her frustrations and doubts carried over to her. What if Unazaki knew SHE was a mutant, too? They had known each other quite a while. Would she also view her with suspicion? Umino and her mother had been nothing but supportive, but Naru held no illusions about how everyone she knew wouldn’t be as understanding.

“It’s disheartening, I know,” said Kitty. “But it’s important not to get discouraged. To keep working toward a world where young mutants aren’t afraid about their powers.”

“What about you, Kitty?” Naru asked. “When did you find out about yours?”

Kitty chuckled. “Actually, it was a setting like this, being offered a spot at Xavier’s school,” she said with a smile. “But then some armored goons from the Hellfire Club smashed up the place, and I wound up kicking myself right through a wall.” Naru smiled back, but truthfully, that story weirded her out. There were supposed to be Sentinels out there. She didn’t want her powers revealed by the need to fight back against them.

Now that her hunger abated, Naru asked more about the X-Men’s past adventures, along with asking Usagi to elaborate more on the Sailor Senshi’s exploits. The X-Men’s tales wound up being as fantastical as Usagi’s. Mutants just as terrifying as Magneto, like Mr. Sinister and Apocalypse, who had been around for even longer. Missions that took them into space, including a heartbreaking one that involved one of their oldest members, Jean Grey, being possessed by a cosmic force that corrupted her with its power. And this was the sort of thing she would be taking part of as an X-Man, if that’s what she chose.

After they were all done at the Fruits Parlor Crown, they moved on. The X-Men and Usagi intended to spend the entire day with her and Umino, to answer all their questions about both their teams. So far, the day had gone better than Naru dared hope. It was good to be able to talk so freely with other mutants, who understood what she was going through. Of course, Usagi could also empathize with being born with power she didn’t really understand. Despite some lingering frustration, Naru was glad she came along. Even more than that night spent jumping from rooftop to rooftop, Naru felt she could put her disappointment with Usagi behind her. It was almost like before that mess with the Dark Kingdom, when they could just be two girls out having fun. But at the end of the day, it won’t last, Naru reminded herself. She’s still leader of the Sailor Senshi, and now I’m being called upon to join the X-Men.

Their trek through Tokyo took them to a monorail station, one overlooking the sea. As the six of them waited in line, Naru looked out to the ocean. If she agreed to join the X-Men, she’d be going across it, and stay in the United States for a long time. Going to a completely different country, to enroll in a school populated by her own kind, partly to escape this rising tide of anti-mutant paranoia in her own. It sort of smacked of cowardice, now that Naru thought about it.

“Logan, do you think I’m a coward if I choose to go with you back to America?” she decided to ask.

Logan actually looked surprised by the question. “Darlin’, you’d be asked to throw down on the Juggernaut by day and waltz with the Reavers by night. That’s hardly a choice a coward would make.”

“But I could go back to this mansion, where I wouldn’t have to worry about humans that fear and hate me. Like there are here,” Naru pointed out. She looked around at all the people. People who would be terrified of her if they knew the truth, and in turn that made Naru scared of all of them. “Would it be wrong if that’s the reason I choose to enroll? Take Umino from everything he knows, just so I can get away from every other human?”

Logan still looked flummoxed. According to Usagi, he was well over a century old. Not someone you could easily catch off-guard. He was the one who would keep yakuza off her mother’s back, delving deep into Japan’s underworld for the solution, yet he seemed stumped by such a simple question.

Logan never really got a chance to answer her, anyway, as they both overheard a conversation between Usagi and… Oh come on, how do we keep bumping into HER!? Naru wondered. Then again, Haruna Sakurada was one of the few humans in Japan who stuck her neck out for mutants.

“You say you’re with another teacher right now?” demanded Haruna. “Just what kind of… teacher… do…” Naru watched as Haruna fell silent, staring over at McCoy. At first, she thought her old teacher was simply fearful, as Unazaki had been. But that made no sense, not after Haruna tried to protect that one mutant girl while everyone else was screaming for her head. “Ms. Tsukino, you never told me you personally knew Dr. Henry McCoy!”

“Well, yeah. McCoy, this is Haruna Sakurada, my old English teacher,” said Usagi. “But actually, I only met him the other day.”

“Indeed. This is my first trip to Japan in quite some time,” said McCoy. “I’m on a bit of a recruitment drive for the school I teach at.”

Haruna’s eyes widened in shock, then turned back to Usagi, then back to McCoy. Suddenly, she pulled Usagi close to her, holding her so hard Usagi winced. “Well now, today is full of surprises! And here I was amazed I helped get Ms. Tsukino through her entrance exams. Now I find out my former student is being invited to study under the world’s leading authority on biochemistry!”

As Haruna laughed to herself, Naru could only facepalm. Did her respect for mutants have to lead to acting like a smitten teenage girl around one she admired? Sighing, she told Haruna, “Actually, Ms. Haruna, it’s Umino and I that are being offered enrollment.”

Haruna blinked and turned Naru’s way, noticing her and Umino for the first time. She let go of Usagi and pulled the two of them close in her place. “Is that so, Ms. Osaka? Well, Dr. McCoy, she and Mr. Umino were also my students! I’d like to think I’ve prepared them well to study in America!” McCoy looked rather befuddled by how sprightly Haruna was being. No doubt he wasn’t used to a grown woman gushing over him like this. “In fact, if you’re taking on new students while in Japan, I must ask, what about teachers? I’d like to think I…”

A strange crashing sound coming from the direction of the monorail track, along with startled screams from people waiting in line, cut Haruna off. They all looked over to the track. The next train had arrived, but part of the track was broken, as if the pillar underneath was giving way. Worse still, the last train car had separated from the rest, and now teetered nearly thirty meters above the water.

“Hank, much as I hate to break things up with your new girlfriend, looks like we got work to do,” said Logan gruffly.

Kitty nodded, then pulled Logan close. “You heard him, Hank. Fastball special for the both of us, now.”

“My apologies for cutting this short, Ms. Haruna. But as they said, my attention is needed elsewhere.” With that, McCoy grabbed hold of his two friends, and with a roar, spun and hurled them at the teetering train car. As for Haruna, she looked EVEN MORE smitten with McCoy after his display of strength, but gasped along with everyone else upon seeing Kitty and Logan go right through the train’s wall.

Naru watched helplessly as people screamed in panic. The monorail car teetered again. McCoy pushed his way past people, taking off his shoes as he did so. “What’re they doing!?” Naru demanded of no one in particular.

“Probably getting as many people off the train as they can before it tumbles into the drink,” said Umino.

“Well, we’ve got to do something to help!” cried Naru.

“You’re right. We better go someplace so I can transform and you can find something else to disguise yourself,” said Usagi.

“B-B-But Usagi, it could go over any second!” protested Naru.

“But Usagi’s got a point,” said Umino. “The X-Men don’t really have secret identities to protect. You and Usagi do.”

“C’mon, Naru! We better hurry!” cried Usagi as she ran to find someplace to transform. Naru started to follow, but turned back to look at the derailed monorail car, shivering as she saw it precipitously slide a little more.

Logan and Kitty hit the floor of the train car hard after she phased them through its wall, rolling to a stop. Grunting as he stood up, Logan took in the situation. A score of passengers they had to get off, from the looks of it. Hank’s fastball special landed them near the rear of the car. Logan’s eyes met those of a man sitting in the backmost seat, someone else who looked to be from North America. A relatively old man, by the standards of normal humans, though he still looked rather spry. He had short, matted white hair, and sported huge, tinted glasses. Beside him sat a Japanese woman approaching her fifties, sporting shoulder-length black hair, who also looked quite fit for her age.

Hopefully that means they won’t be much trouble to get off this train, Logan mused as he walked over to the closest set of doors. He heard many passengers gasp in fear when he popped one set of claws. He paid them no mind, just as he ignored the stinging pain he felt every time his adamantium claws emerged. Many things in life could hurt, something he had learned over many decades. What was important was learning to push past the pain, to do what was necessary. That was why he barely hesitated to return to Japan when Xavier asked, as painful as it was for him. Logan’s instincts told him he was needed in Japan again. And as it turned out, this kid Naru Osaka could sure use him, not to mention these passengers. I’ve always been able to trust my instincts before, Logan thought as he stabbed through the top of the doors. Let’s hope they’re still on the money.

Logan cut his way downward, then forced his hands into the gap he made, slowly pulling the train doors open. He felt the confused, fearful stares of the passengers on his back, but Logan ignored them. Soon enough, the doors parted just enough to get people through. As he hoped, Hank was already in position, latching onto the fence along the platform with his bare feet. Kitty phased through Logan as she ran out, using her power to stand in midair, right between the train car and the platform. It was a distance of about ten feet, far too much for these passengers to safely jump. That’s where the three of them came in.

“OK people, this is what’s gonna happen,” said Logan, turning to the passengers as he sheathed his claws. “I’m gonna toss you out the train, one at a time. Kitty’ll then catch you and toss you to Hank. The big, furry guy who’ll get you to safety. And please, no arguing. There’s no tellin’ how long we got until this thing splashes into the drink.”

Mercifully, there were nervous nods and little argument. Funny how fear of mutants faded when their powers were suddenly needed. “Kids first,” Logan said gruffly, grabbing a small girl and throwing her out to Kitty. She screamed in terror, coaxing Kitty to hug her tightly for a moment, whispering encouragement in her ear. It looked like the girl calmed down a little, despite being suspended precipitously over the churning ocean, so Kitty tossed her into Hank’s waiting arms. Soon enough, the girl was back on solid ground, and Hank was ready to receive the next passenger.

Thankfully, it looked like none of the passengers would be too heavy for Kitty to hand off. After getting a few more passengers safely out to Kitty, Logan dared entertain hope that he would get them all out alive.

Those hopes were soon crushed when the train car lurched again. Logan could hear the concrete in the pillar below giving way. “C’mon, faster! Faster!” he demanded gruffly as he grabbed a young boy by the wrist. He chucked him out to Kitty, then turned to grab someone else. Logan didn’t fear going down with this train car. He had survived far worse. But there was no way he’d let a single one of these passengers plunge into the ocean with it.

Despite his resolve and determination, the crumbling pillar refused to cooperate. The train car lurched once more, and Logan knew the pillar had finally collapsed completely, with him and a dozen passengers still in it. The old man at the back and the woman beside him, they screamed as the train car began its plunge. Obeying instinct once more, Logan tackled them to the ground while popping his claws, arms spread out. Both of them pinned down with one of his arms, his claws anchoring them all to the floor. Assuming these humans survived the car’s impact with the water, Logan could at least make sure these two didn’t get tossed around and injured more. He could get at least two more out alive.

Logan shut his eyes, bracing himself for when they hit water. Amazingly, seconds passed, and they didn’t splash into the ocean. Yet there was an odd sound in the place of a splash. A noxious, burbling, slurping sound. Opening his eyes, Logan looked up, along with the two passengers he had pinned down. Tendrils of some thick, black ooze spread over the windows. And then, to everyone’s amazement, the train car began creeping back up, slowly but surely, scraping against the side of the stone wall.

“Oh no no no. No kid, you didn’t…” Logan muttered as the train car continued its slow ascent. He told the girl that being an X-Man was all about doing the right thing, no matter what. He never imagined that saying something so innocuous would backfire like this. Naru probably saved the rest of these passengers from a watery grave. All at the expense of her secret. And if past experience taught Logan anything, saving all these people would barely register. All that would matter was Naru Osaka being a mutant.

It turned out that her control over her powers may not have been as good as Naru thought. It was almost like her oil slick shot out of its own volition, reacting to her emotions more than her thoughts. When Usagi ran to find a safe place to transform, Naru stayed behind, unable to tear her gaze away from the separated monorail car. Hope swelled within her as the three X-Men got a few passengers to safety, but then it was clear the whole thing would topple over with Logan and many more inside.

That was when Naru decided something had to be done. Partly of her own will, partly due to her emotions getting the better of her, Naru raised her arms, and her tendrils of ooze shot out through them. They wrapped around the monorail car just as it tumbled off the crumbling railway.

Naru screamed as the falling car dragged her across the outdoor monorail station, and people desperately dove out of her way. Gritting her teeth, Naru tried planting her feet firmly, but they dug into concrete as she continued sliding toward the platform’s edge. In desperation, she willed more tendrils to form. A few more wrapped around the car, but some shot out from her back, ripping through her clothes. The ones behind her drove down into the concrete, serving as anchors.  Between that and digging her heels in, it was finally enough to stop her slide off the edge, just when she came within a few meters of the mangled fence.

Naru’s eyes were screwed shut, but she could feel all the gazes upon her. In her haste, she forgot to cover her face with ooze. Now everyone would know she was really Eclipse! But at the moment, that hardly mattered. If she let herself dwell on how her fears had been realized, she’d lose her hold on that monorail car. Besides, Logan said being an X-Man was all about doing the right thing, always. There were so many people still trapped on that monorail car, plus Logan himself! He had volunteered to take care of her yakuza problems. Letting him plunge into a watery grave was a shoddy way to repay his kindness.

But this thing was so heavy! In her sessions with Umino, she had used her tendrils in conjunction with pulleys set up, to lift semi trucks with her oil slick. However, this monorail car was far more massive than those! It felt like its weight was pulling her tendrils apart, and herself along with them! But if she couldn’t drag this thing back up, that was it for its passengers.

Taking a few deep breaths, doing her best to block out the pain, Naru brought her forearms up, willing her tendrils to retract. She now knew her maximum lifting strength, but Dr. McCoy never tested the tensile strength of her oil slick. There was a chance her tendrils could snap, and she’d lose Logan and those passengers. Fear threatened to break her concentration, let the pain come crashing back.

No, this is what Logan said I have to do, Naru told herself. And this is why I wanted to be a Sailor Senshi before, to help people. She concentrated even harder on retracting her oil slick, bringing the monorail car back up with it. And after several long, torturous minutes, Naru opened her eyes to be greeted by the sight of the car’s roof emerging over the edge!

Utilizing all the control she had over her tendrils, Naru willed the ones coming out of her back to lengthen ever so slightly toward the edge, while the ones latched onto the monorail car now pulled it straight up. It tumbled over onto its side, crushing the fence underneath its weight, letting Naru get her hands underneath the middle of it. Now that she could simply use her own musclepower, it was a relatively simple matter to lift it up and drag it backwards. People gasped and screamed, but that was almost drowned out by the sound of the monorail car being dragged across solid concrete, sparking.

At last, Naru felt she dragged it far enough from the edge. Her oily tendrils retracted back under her skin as she slumped over, her breathing ragged. Despite all those sessions with Umino, learning to control her strength and even increase it, this felt like it almost killed her. Maybe McCoy and the others had a point about needing more training.

As she struggled to get her breathing under control, Naru heard Umino calling, running up to her. “Naru… Oh God, you’ve never tried lifting anything THAT heavy before!” he cried as he put an arm around her shoulders. “That was AMAZING! Are you OK!?”

Naru didn’t answer as she looked into his eyes. Then she took a good look around her. As she dreaded, everyone else didn’t look too impressed with her feat. Instead, they all looked terrified. Terrified not just about how she was clearly a mutant, but the mutant they had all heard horror stories about. Their gazes bore into her soul, filling her with shame, making her eyes fill with tears in turn. But the worst blow of all came when she spotted Haruna again. Even her old teacher, the one who stood up for a mutant days ago, looked absolutely petrified. “Oh no… Naru, how can it be you? You’re Eclipse…” she whispered fearfully, shock and horror etched in her features.
Sailor Moon X: Lunar Eclipse - Chapter 16
Now that the Sailor Senshi and the X-Men have set aside their differences, some of them turn their focus to Naru. The X-Men make their pitch for recruitment at their school ,while Usagi is determined to be her friend and help her make her choice. But a grisly turn of events may soon force Naru to make a different kind of choice...

Cover done by :iconkurumi-lover:, and he a DAMN fine job!

Disclaimer: Sailor Moon is the creation and property of Naoko Takeuchi and Toei Animation. X-Men is the creation and property of Stan Lee, Marvel Comics and Disney.


United States
  • Listening to: Reeltime - Siuil a Run
  • Reading: Wheel of Time 13
  • Watching: Fairy Tail
  • Playing: Fire Emblem Gaiden
Seriously, fuck you. If you're whining about Zack Snyder's vision being butchered by Joss Whedon and the suits at Warner Bros., fuck you. If you're still whining that Zack Snyder is a turd blossom of a director, fuck you. If you're calling this movie too dark, fuck you. If you're saying it's trying to be too lighthearted to be more in line with Marvel movies, fuck you. If you say it's too uneven in tone, fuck you. If you're saying it's perfect and craps on the entire MCU and only fanboy dipshits can't see it, fuck you. If you're saying it's proof that the fork should finally be stuck in the DC film universe, fuck you.

Basically, to millions and millions of people, I give a double middle finger salute and yell to the heavens... "FUCK YOU!"

Seriously, what the hell is it about these movies that spawns such vitriol and flamewars? Even I, who was ready to swear off these movies last year, after the mixed bag that was Dawn of Justice and the turd souffle that was Suicide Squad, am mystified. Wonder Woman proved me oh so wrong, and Justice League just delivered a pretty fun team-based film in this universe.

Again, that's the key word: FUN. Isn't that what so many said was lacking after Dawn of Justice? This movie really tried to deliver the goods after so many made that criticism heard loud and clear, but no it's STILL not enough!

It was enough for me. It really felt like this film, along with Wonder Woman, learned from all the missteps from past entries and tried to deliver what so many felt was important. Not too serious and dark, more or less focused, decent pacing... As for character development for characters lacking their own solo movies at this point, I felt it was there. Granted, while Aquaman could use a bit more, Cyborg getting the lion's share, and Flash somewhere in between the two. I was never bored like at some points in Dawn of Justice, nor was I feeling the whole thing got derailed in post-production like in Suicide Squad. The whole thing felt like a neat little package, fine as is, with no need to wait for a special edition on Blu-ray to provide the big picture, though I do hear some pertinent stuff was cut and will make its way into one.

I'll be first in line to buy it on home video, though. Hell, I'll probably go see it again in the theatre. If that makes you want to insist I have no taste in movies and I'm a microcosm of the reasons cinema is in decline or whatever, fuck you. And if you're insisting the film would've been better if Zack Snyder's original vision remained intact, fuck you. So many warring factions over this one, when the whole point of this film's existence was to make up for past missteps and let moviegoers HAVE FUN. So shut the fuck up, and at least TRY to have a little fun with it. I did. Sure, I had complaints. A paper-thin villain when Loki provided such an interesting foil in Avengers, for one thing, but it wasn't enough to kill the film outright. Plenty of MCU movies have had one-dimensional villains, too. I'm sure there's other things I could nitpick about, but I'd really have to sit and ponder about that, and I'll pass when the whole point was TO HAVE A LITTLE FUN.

So try to have some fun, and fuck you.

Justice League
gets an official Greyman101 rating of 8.5 out of 10, so fuck you.


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anasazidarkmoon Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Marvel Villains by PatrickBrown

I happened upon this when I hit the homepage, and immediately thought of you. :D
Greyman101 Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2017
Why? The only Marvel stuff I've used is X-Men, and this is only on the front page again because the Disney-Fox merger is on everyone's lips.

And I'm not happy about that. On top of inching closer to a media monopoly, I shudder to think what the MCU X-Men will be like when MCU Spider-Man turned out to be a clueless little shit.
anasazidarkmoon Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
It made me think of you because Sailor Moon X is the most reliably updated Marvel-related fic I've come across in a while, so there's a bit of a connection again.  I don't usually go on the front page, but it pops up on occasion when I start typing "deviantart" into my address bar, so I never really know what's gonna show up, or why.

I'm not particularly happy about the idea of a media monopoly either, though I am a bit curious about how MCU X-Men would turn out.

Of course MCU Spider-Man was a clueless little shit.  This is Peter Parker as a teenage boy, and teenagers in general tend to be clueless little shits, regardless of superpowers or intelligence. =P
Greyman101 Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2017
Yeah, I try to get a new chapter out every two weeks. This'll be done by the end of 2018 if it kills me.

So were the other two movie Spider-Mans, but they still had their heads screwed on right. Oh yeah, and were, what's the word... COMPETENT.
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blcksheep Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you for the fave. :)
GiantessStudios101 Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2017  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks for watching
TheLordTaxus Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2017
Happy late birthday!
LordDarkDiablo Featured By Owner May 24, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for watching. 😊
LordDarkDiablo Featured By Owner May 24, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for watching. 😊
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