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   VOLUME 9

Sailor Moon Cyber - Volume Nine - Home Is Where the Heart Breaks

Sailor SunFire swung her Starcraft around the asteroid and adjusted the forward energy shields. There was a lot more debris and rock than she remembered. The patrol ships used to keep the common spaceways clean of asteroid and ice particles. Another sign that no one would be there to greet her. She already knew what she was going to find, but kept her course straight none the less.

From what little Luna and Artimus had managed to piece together, after Queen Serenity died, the magicks that she had used to keep the planets of the solar system habitable had slowly faded and eventually dissipated, leaving behind empty barren rocks and gases. What few starfaring societies had managed to escape in small shuttles and ships, had either gone to earth or, as many had done, set course for the nearest star system and hoped for the best. There was no trace left in the system of the once Silver Millennium.

SunFire swung her ship into orbit around the large planetoid, now just another hunk of space rock. She looked down at the scarred, asteroid marked surface and choked back a sob. Not even one building or even an ancient ruin remained on the desolate orb that was once Horus. Locking in a descent pattern, she closed her eyes and concentrated on the energies that flowed through her body. Taking a fraction of those energies, she created a barrier around herself, to protect her from the cold void of space.

The Starcraft settled gently against the corroded soil as the sublight engines powered down. Taking a deep breath, SunFire accessed the controls that opened the cockpit canopy and stepped out.

It was like returning to the moon after the last great battle. Silent, lifeless and barren. She wandered for several hours, searching for some sign that life had once existed here, but found nothing. SunFire sat down on the cold hard dirt and cried.

CyberWarlock sat in his silver throne watching with interest as SunFire wandered the deserted rock. He had tracked the ship since it left earth's orbit, curious as to where the redheaded Senshi was going. He had thought perhaps, she would lead him to some great power of discovery that he could use or gain knowledge from, but he could not fathom why it was she was here.

"There is nothing there but dust and rock? What possible reason could she have for going there?" he wondered aloud. The Darkstalker just shrugged and continued playing with the handful of stones it had brought back from earth. CyberWarlock shook his head in wonderment. "Simple pleasures..."

He brought his eyes back to the viewing portal and was shocked to see the tears in SunFire's eyes.

"She seems so strong. Yet here she is, sitting in the middle of space, crying? What has happened?"

Nhicodima had picked up something else from his time with the elves. Not only had he learned their magicks, but had also developed their insatiable curiosity. He had to know. And as curiosity often makes one do stupid things, he stood up, and did what he was sure was one of the stupider things he had ever planned. He opened a portal to the planetoid and stepped through.

Sfiremad_jef2_sm.gif (14748 bytes)SunFire looked up in surprise as a dark form slowly faded into existence before her. She jumped up, assumed a fighting stance and slowly backed away from the CyberWarlock. Panic gripped her mind as she realised she had left her Ankh Staff in the Starcraft. She was practically powerless to defend herself.

CyberWarlock spoke something to her, or at least that's what it looked like. His mouth moved, but no sound came from it. They both looked confused for a moment then Nhicodima got a look like "oh yeah!" on his face as he realised there was no sound in space. He raised his hand and cast, creating a pocket of atmosphere around them.

"There, that's better. Now, as I was trying to say... Good evening Sailor SunFire. What brings you way out here?" he bowed slightly and raised his eyebrow at her.

"I could ask you the same? This is... was, my home. And if you think you can just come here and start causing trouble just because I am alone, you will find out that I can hold my own." SunFire silently called out to her staff. How far had she walked? She hoped it would reach her in time.

"Down girl!" chuckled CyberWarlock, as he sat down cross legged on the dirt. "This time, I only came to talk."

SunFire looked at him and raised her own eyebrow. "Right. And why should I believe that? Isn't it rather convenient that I'm all alone and you just happen to be in the neighborhood? A little far from Earth to be coincidence."

"Indeed, it is no coincidence. I followed you. I had hoped that you might be going somewhere interesting." He picked up a handful of dirt and let it slip through his fingers. "And I was even more curious to learn why you had come here of all places. Now I know."

"And now you can leave!" replied SunFire. "This doesn't concern you!"

Nhicodima leaned back and looked up at her. "You really don't like me very much, do you?"

"Like you? You tried to kill me!" SunFire looked at him with a shocked expression. "I suppose you are going to tell me that that is how you express your feelings for someone? What, do you wake up in the morning and think, 'gee, I like this person, I should try and kill them today'?"

"I won't deny that I have wanted you dead, but you must admit, our first meeting was hardly as cordial as this?" CyberWarlock swept his hand around, drawing attention to the emptiness around them. "And besides, don't you get tired of fighting all the time. I know I do."

"So next, I suppose you are going to tell me how misunderstood you are. How you really aren't all that bad, circumstances have just forced you to be so?" SunFire wrinkled her nose and looked at him.

"Why would I tell you, since you obviously wouldn't believe me if I did." replied Nhicodima. Standing up once again, he placed his hands behind his back and slowly walked a short distance to the left. He stopped and turned to face her once again. "Tell me something if you would. If you suddenly found yourself in a strange place, where everyone looked down on you and thought you were some sort of freak. Would you not hate them?"

"Hate is a strong word." said SunFire. "I don't think I would be happy, but I'm not sure about hate."

"Alright. Well, then lets say that before you came to this place, you grew up in a place where the people thought the same things about you. A place where every whisper held spite and fear. A place where you could only count of you and you alone." CyberWarlock looked up and his normal eye flashed red for a moment. "Tell me then, my virtuous warrior, would you not find it more difficult. Would hate not course through your blood like fire? Would not some small part of your mind scream out, Destroy Them All, They Mean NOTHING!?"

SunFire looked at the expression on his face and didn't speak for a moment. Finally, she looked down and said softly, "I don't know... perhaps I would. I haven't experienced that kind of thing, so I can't say."

"Good enough." nodded CyberWarlock as he began pacing once again. "And now, when you hate everything and everyone in the world, and you are fully content to destroy them one by one, someone comes along and gives you a second chance. Someone says something to you that makes you think, 'Well, maybe there are people who can care no matter what?' Would you then, start considering the possibility that you may have been wrong?"

SunFire scuffed her foot in the dirt, then looked up into his eyes. "Yes. I believe I probably would."

"And so," CyberWarlock stretched his arms out, then let them drop to his side. "Here we are."

"Here we are." echoed SunFire, still unsure if she should believe him, or be wary. He had repeatedly tried to destroy the Senshi, yet that scene with the muggers the other night had made her think that perhaps there was more to him than first met the eye. Well, no, she knew there was more to him than they first thought. He could be downright scary when he set his mind to it. But there was something more. A deep sadness that she sensed. A sadness that matched her own. The sadness she kept buried deep in her heart, that she had let her Queen down and that she had never had a chance to say goodbye to her family and friends before the end came. Something in the back of her mind told her she would be safe.

"May I ask you something?" Nhicodima's voice broke the silence of her thoughts and SunFire looked up. She nodded and he continued.

"What happened here? You said this was your home, but I can see nothing but rock and dust. Nothing at all that would suggest anything used to live here. How can that be?"

"It was a very long time ago." began SunFire. Her Ankh Staff floated into reach and she took it in her hand, then set it on the ground beside her as she sat down and recounted the final days of the Silver Millennium. Nhicodima sat down and listened intently, nodding his head now and again. As she finished her tale, he could tell she was fighting back her tears. CyberWarlock looked into her dark brown eyes. She was still as beautiful as the first day he had seen her, ascending down towards him like a vengeful spirit. There was a kinship about them that he could feel. Two warriors, out of place and out of time, both looking for something they as yet did not know where to find.

CyberWarlock stood and walked a few feet away from her, facing the opposite direction. He stared at the stars for a moment, saying nothing, then slowly turned back to face her.

"Can I offer you something? A gift, between two lost souls?"

"Uhm, well, I guess that depends on what it is?" SunFire replied, feeling somewhat nervous once again.

"I never knew my parents. I never had a chance to even meet them. I am offering you, the chance to say goodbye, if you want to take it?"

"What do you mean?" SunFire looked puzzled.

"You mentioned how the power of Sailor Moon's crystal sent your friends to the future? Well, the power of life flows through it. That same power can move things back in time as well. I can take you back, let you see your family again."

"Why would you do this for me? How can I trust what you say? You could be planning to just drop me off somewhere and be rid of me?" SunFire shook her head, uncertain of what to believe.

"I'll tell you this." replied CyberWarlock. "Your story intrigued me. I am going, with our without you. I want to see this Silver Millennium for myself. I offer you, as a gesture between us, the chance to go with me."

"I... I don't know..." SunFire looked down. The chance to go back? To see her family that she had left so long ago. It was too good to be real.

CyberWarlock raised a gloved hand and closed his eyes. A swirl of light and energy began to form in the air in front of them. As the portal grew larger, SunFire gasped and sat up straight. Through the hole in time and space, she could see Horus as it once was. Alive and lighting up the dark skies with light. Nhicodima held out a hand to SunFire.

"Shall we?"

SunFire nodded and took his hand. They stepped through into the warm air of her home. CyberWarlock stopped and looked around.

"Magnificent." he said as he looked upon the buildings and monuments of the city. "But we can not stay long."

"Hmm? Why is that?" asked SunFire, overwhelmed with happiness and suddenly concerned that she might not have time to do what she needed to do.

"I have never been to this time period, however, you still exist here. The longer you remain, the greater the chance that it could create rifts in time and space. And that could mean anything from random particles passing through small holes to the possibility of an entire planet being tossed through time."

SunFire's eyes grew wide and she nodded solemnly. "I will be quick."

"See that you are." Nhicodima nodded. "I am going to go take a look at this moon kingdom of yours. I shall return in one hour. See you then." He bowed and faded from sight.

SunFire ran as fast as her legs would carry her towards her parents' home. She had to see them, had to warn them of the danger they all faced. If nothing else, she had to be sure in her heart that her parents had escaped. She would make sure that they did.

Leti walked into her parent's home and tears brimmed from her eyes. It was as if she had never left. The sights, the smells, they were all the same. She threw herself into her mother's arms and held her tight.

"Leti-chan? What is it? You are acting like you haven't seen me in years?" her mother smiled and brushed a hand through her hair.

"I feel like I haven't!" replied Leti, not wanting to upset the timeline by telling her mother the truth. "But I came to warn you. There is trouble coming. Something the Moon Kingdom will not be able to handle. I want you to promise me that you and Dad will be safe."

"What do you mean? Leti, don't talk craziness!"

"I'm not crazy Mother! You know that I work closely with Queen Serenity, trust me when I say I know that we will not win this fight! Promise me that you will leave Horus! Please! Take a Starcraft to Earth!"

"Leti... I..."

"JUST DO IT!" Leti snapped, then quickly mellowed again. "Please?"

Something in Leti's eyes made her mother realise the seriousness of her daughter's pleas and she nodded her acceptance. "I promise my darling."

"Oh thank you mother, thank you!" Leti burst into tears and held her mother tightly. She spent the rest of the time just allowing herself to be held, wishing she had more time.

Finally, she stood up and told her mother that she had to return to the moon, to help the others prepare for the coming battle. She transformed again into her Senshi form, and kissing her mother's cheek, walked back out into the city, to await the return of CyberWarlock.

Nhicodima stood by the fountains in front of the Moon Palace.

"It's a shame that this place was destroyed." he thought to himself. "I think I could have been happy here. For once." He shrugged and skipped a pebble across the shimmering waters, then readied himself to leave. As he touched the energies that controlled the portals between space, he noticed something odd. Concentrating, he willed himself to the source of the strange energies he sensed.

Floating in space, between Earth and the Moon, was a hole. A rift.

"We have stayed too long." he thought. "Definitely time to go." He probed the rift with his mind, attempting to figure out how bad the damage had been. He shuddered at the sheer power and overwhelming sense of evil he got from the portal. Shock and despair flooded his face as he suddenly realised what he had done.

"The Negaverse! This is where they came from! And I am responsible! Because of me, all these people are going to die! No!" he shook his head and tried to come to grips with what he had done. The people of the Moon Kingdom had never done him any harm. It was not them that he had wished harm upon. And now, because of him, the Silver Millennium was about to end. He quickly teleported to Horus, and found SunFire waiting for him. Taking he a deep breath, he walked forward and began to re-open the portal, back through time.

"We have to go, now!" he said hastily. "We have already stayed too long!"

"Is there a problem then? Have we created a rift?" asked SunFire as the time portal began to form before them.

"Yes..." replied Nhicodima. He looked into her eyes, then looked away. "Nothing serious though. If we leave now, it should fix itself."

SunFire nodded, believing the lie and they stepped back through the portal to the now barren sands of the planetoid.

"I must leave you." said Nhicodima, as the portal closed in upon itself. "Did you accomplish what you set out to do?"

"Yes!" said SunFire, a smile on her face. "I did. Thank you! I am in your debt!"

"No!" replied CyberWarlock, with a little more force than he meant to add to the word. "We are even now. This remains between you and I. I am still unsure as to what the path ahead holds for me, and I can not guarantee that the next time we meet, I will still be willing to just talk."

"I don't understand?" SunFire said, puzzled. "I thought you wanted to change your life? Wasn't that why you did this for me? To prove that you were not the evil creature we thought you were?"

"My dear," sighed CyberWarlock. "I have done more evil than you shall ever know. I did this for you out of respect for your sorrow. Because something in your story touched what is left of my heart. But do not expect too much from me so soon. There are some things that have stained my soul so much, that I may never be free of their memories." He shuddered as he thought of the power he sensed emanating from the Negaverse, and he could hear the cries and screams for help echoing through time. Through it all, a voice in the back of his mind kept repeating, 'You did this! You killed them all!'

"Farewell Sailor SunFire. I trust you can find your own way home?" he said, as he slowly faded from sight.

"I can." she whispered to the empty night. "Thank you. For what it's worth, I think there is still some goodness left in him." She hoped with all her heart that he would do the right thing.

Nhicodima returned to his home between worlds and fell to his knees. He screamed his rage into the empty blackness and beat his fists against the ground. Finally, exhausted, he curled up at the foot of his throne and shook, with confusion and sadness.

From a shadowed corner, Darkstalker watched silently, and a tear rolled down her cheek.

The End of Part Nine

SERIES ONE

SERIES TWO