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   VOLUME 4

Sailor Moon Cyber - Volume Four - Showdown at Sun Set

hotsad.jpg (12982 bytes)Hotaru closed her locker with a sigh, and sat down with her back against it. She looked down at her notebook, and the little bunnies Chibi-Usa had doodled on it, then back up at the others walking through the hallways of the school. As usual, no one met her eye. They walked by, quickening their pace as they passed her, afraid to even look in her direction. She suddenly felt the precence of another Senshi and looked down the hall to see Leti and Usagi rounding the corner. As had come to be a regular occurance over the past few days, several boys followed along behind, trying to attract Leti's attention; offering to carry her books, asking her out for coffee.

Hotaru closed her eyes and tried again to probe the energies around Leti, attempting to find out what it was about her that made her so uneasy. But as usual, there was nothing for her to read. Immense power, some hidden saddness, but nothing that Hotaru could immediately recognize as a threat or reason not to trust her.

"But I don't trust her." she thought to herself. "Something in my mind keeps telling me to watch out for her. Am I just jealous? She shows up out of the blue with a story of how she has waited 1000 years to re-join us, the others don't really remember if she really did exist way back then, but take her word for it. She manages in several minutes to do more than the rest of us combined and gets in all cosy with Usagi. And now she is the school's official boy magnet!" Hotaru sighed again and slowly stood up to leave.

"It must just be jealousy. What else could it be?" She began to walk down the hall towards the exit when she heard a voice behind her.

"Hotaru-chan?"

Hotaru turned around, and found herself suddenly looking into Nick's eyes. How had she not noticed how blue they were. Realizing she was staring, she blinked and managed a weak smile.

"Yes?"

"I.. don't mean to trouble you." Nick nervously stroked his hair with his hand. "But I have noticed that you, like me, do not seem to have many friends here. And, uhm.. well.. I guess what I want to ask.. is.. well, would you be interested in joining me for a soda or tea or something?"

Hotaru's eyes grew wide in shock momentarily. The dark, mysterious new guy was asking 'her' out? The boy that half her class whispered about and secretly drooled over, wanted to be friends with her? Hotaru wiped the shocked look from her face and smiled.

"I would love to Nicko-san!"

"Great!" And for the first time that she or anyone else could recall, he smiled. He took her books from her hand and they walked out the door together, causing more than a few stares and wide open mouths as the left. Hotaru grined and winked at Usagi as they passed by her and Leti. Usagi's eyes grew wide in astonishment, then she giggled and gave Hotaru a 'thumbs up' sign.

Nick nodded to the other two Senshi and continued walking with Hotaru.

"This is perfect." he thought to himself. "I don't know why I didn't see through their illusions sooner. I should have recognized who they really were. But, that doesn't matter now. What matters is that I have managed to get Saturn interested in me. And if I can use that darkness I sense in her to my advantage. I may just have a more powerful weapon against the Sailor Soldiers than I first anticipated."

Nhicodima smiled sweetly and linked his arm with Hotaru as they walked from the schoolyard into the streets of Tokyo.

During the course of their 'date', Nick kept his eyes focused on Hotaru's, talking softly and using every bit of charm he could muster up. Several times he felt her trying to sense his thoughts and he increased his mental shielding accordingly. Sooner than he had expected, he manged to move their conversation to Usagi and Leti.

"That girl, Leti? The one that hangs out with that slacker Usagi? What do you think of her? Personally, I find it disgusting the way she flaunts herself around, trying to make all the boys drool over her." Nick looked deep into Hotaru's eyes, seeing he had managed to hit on something that troubled Hotaru.

"Well," said Hotaru, twisting a napkin between her fingers nervously. "I don't really know her all that well, I mean, she's new, you know that. She came to the school the same day as you did. But honestly, just between you and me? I think she is hiding something. Something just doesn't.. feel right.. about her."

Nick nodded and continued to smile. This was better than he had hoped. Saturn was already harboring ill thoughts about SunFire. Now all he had to do was try and increase that gap between them.

"And the way she just latched onto Usagi like that, as if they have been best friends for years. Wasn't Usagi-chan your friend before?"

"Well, she still is.. really.. she just.. well, she has been busy lately."

"Is that what she says? Busy? Doing what? Shopping for new shoes with Leti? Flirting with the boys? Too busy to spend time with her friends?" Nick shook his head in disbelief. "Doesn't sound like the kind of friend I would want to have."

"Uhm.. well, " Hotaru tried to search for the right words. "Usagi has always had a big heart. She is kind and sweet to anyone she meets. I'm sure once the fascination with a new friend wears off, she will be coming by again."

"Are you sure?" asked Nick. "I have noticed that Usagi likes to be the center of attention. And more often than not, the attention centers around Leti lately. Do you really think that she would give up that attention so easily?"

Hotaru shrugged and looked out through the window, but Nick knew he had struck a nerve. He had planted the seeds of decent. Now all he had to do was tend to them, and watch them grow. Placing his hand gently on Hotaru's, he willed small amounts of dark energy to travel into her body. Not enough that she would notice, but if he could keep fueling her inner fires, she would soon be his pawn.

For the next few days, Nick spent as much time as he could with Hotaru, filling her mind with dark thoughts, and her body with energies even darker still. He slowly began to see the change in her. When Usagi or Leti would say hi to her in the halls, she would nod to them in a chilling manner, as if she wanted nothing to do with them.

"Perfect." thought Nick as he watched one such exchange from between a locker bay. "The time is right for the next phase of my plan." Nick stepped into the shadows and teleported to the roof of the school.

"Darkstalker! I have a job for you!"

The demon appeared and bowed to its master. Nhicodima outlined his plan to his dark servant, then returned to the halls of the school to set them in motion. Nick walked over to where Leti was standing, surrounded by boys as usual!

"Ahem." Nick cleared his throat to get her attention. "Sorry to bother you, but uhm.. Minako asked me to tell you to come and see her in the gymnasium if I saw you!"

"Oh? Thanks!" Leti smiled and walked off in the direction of the gym. As she walked through the doors, they quietly locked themselves behind her. Nick grinned to himself and walked out the front of the school to find Hotaru. As he waved to her and was about to walk over to where she sat waiting, his path was suddenly blocked by Leti. Or rather, the Darkstalker in the form of Leti.

"Ooh Nick, there you are!" the Leti clone smiled sweetly. "I have been looking all over for you! Do you wanna go have a soda with me?" The creature gently stroked Nick's cheek with its hand.

aw_hotaru_sm.gif (7734 bytes)Nick looked over and saw the look of anger and astonishment on Hotaru's face. His plan was working perfectly. He grabbed 'Leti's' hand with his and forced her away from him.

"How dare you! Is this how you treat your friends? You know that Hotaru and I have something together. Are you so selfish that you would take that from her as well? You disgust me!" Nick shouted as he stepped back from her.

The Leti clone looked at him and batted her eyelashes. "Oh come on. What's little Hota-chan got that I can't compete with!"

"Something you can never have. Me!!" And with that, Nick shoved his way past her and stomped towards Hotaru, holding out his arms to her. Hotaru ran to him and allowed herself to be held, her eyes, full of hatred, staring through Leti. She growled slightly and took a step forward.

"You came here pretending to be our friend!" Hotaru said angrily. "But now I see what friendship means to you. Well, you have just lost a friend this day!" And with that, Hotaru turned and walked away, grabbing Nick's hand and pulling him along with her.

The Darkstalker giggled and wandered back into the school. It walked past the gym and unlocked the doors, then disappeared into the shadows.

Sitting on a park bench by the river, Nick held Hotaru in his arms as she cried on his shoulder. Tears of rage and frustration streaming down her cheeks. Nick took a deep breath and decided to initiate the final stage of his plan, hoping that he had prepaired her enough for this moment!

"Almost makes you want to leave their little Sailor Club doesn't it?" said Nick as he gently stroked Hotaru's hair.

Hotaru nodded and burried her head into his shoulder. Then she suddenly sat up straight and stared at Nick with wide eyes.

"What did you just say???"

"I meant, if the rest think so highly of someone like SunFire... perhaps you are hanging around with the wrong crowd!"

"How... you knew? All this time? Why? Who? No! It can't be... you are.. Nick.. Nhicodima, how did I not put that together before!"

"Yes my darling Saturn. The one you have tried to kill several times, yet still holds you dear to his heart." Nhicodima let his disguise spell fall away and stood before her as he was. The CyberWarlock.

"Do you hate me now?"

"No." Hotaru shook her head. "I have seen what their version of friendship is now. I will not turn my back on you."

cybersat_sm.gif (5435 bytes)"Then my dear." Nhicodima held out his hand, assured now that all the spells he had cast around Hotaru had been worth the effort. "Shall we make them pay?"

"Yes my love. I really think we should!"

Leti walked out of the school and looked around for her friends. Such a weird thing. She had gone to the gym, but no one was there. Then she got locked inside. She still didn't know how the door got unlocked, and all she really wanted to do was go home, take a shower and relax. She wasn't going to get her wish. There, standing in the deserted schoolyard before her, was CyberWarlock, and standing beside him with her Glaive pointed in Leti's direction, was Sailor Saturn. Saturn smiled evily at Leti.

"Time to die little Sun Spot. Time to Die!!!'

The End of Part Four

SERIES ONE

SERIES TWO