Ok. Legal stuff. All of the characters in this work are the property of the creators of Sailor Moon. They are used without permission, and all that stuff that I can never remember
Jellax Ascension'I should never have let her go'
Artemis thought dejectedly as he paced back and forth in front of the Hikawa shrine that was Rei's home.
Until Luna or any of the others came back, all he could do was reflect upon the magnitude of the disaster than had befallen them all.'There was just too much we didn't know about Droid Jellax. Minako was so sure of herself, and she was right about one thing. We didn't have any better ideas. I just wish she'd taken Mamoru with her'
It had been over a week since the Sailor Senshi had fallen. Luna and Artemis had begun to worry when Minako failed to bring the others back after half a day. The guardian cats had dared to hold on to a shred of hope, reasoning that perhaps Minako's plan had just taken longer than she'd thought to execute. That hope had already begun to fade as the days passed, and then last night it had been dashed utterly.
Droid Jellax had kidnapped Chibi-Usa.
There was simply no way that Minako or any of the others would have allowed that had they been in possession of their own minds and will. Artemis had been crushed. To his ever-lasting shame, he hadn't even considered a rescue mission. He'd been grieving his beloved Minako. Luna had taken charge in, finding an inner strength that Artemis both envied and admired. She had gone straight to Mamoru. Tuxedo Mask was their only hope.
"I'm so sorry, Minako" Artemis murmured, looking up at the stars. He wanted so badly to save her. He'd give almost anything to save her, including his own life.
The slightest noise behind him made him turn his head. No human would have heard it, but for a cat it wasn't all that difficult to hear each other coming.
"Luna!" he cried, "Is there any word?"
Luna shook her head as she approached.
"Not yet" she replied, "But give it time. They can still be saved, Artemis. They all can. Usagi can restore them all with the power of the Silver Crystal. She just needs to have her heart and mind freed first. Seeing Tuxedo Mask should be more than enough to awaken her, and he has Uranus and Neptune to protect him while he gets close enough"Nemesis
Twin energy blasts struck the ground where Jelly had been standing a moment ago. She didn't recognise her attackers as such, but their attire was certainly familiar. She couldn't quite place why, but their attacking her seemed like a betrayal. That was of little concern though. They were a threat to Mistress Jamanen and they must be neutralised.
In a way, this fight was more difficult for Jelly than facing the earlier Sailor Senshi. These attackers did not fight with the strange hesitation, not did they call her unfamiliar names. They showed no mercy. That was the difficult part. The easier part was that Jelly had more help this time. Slimey, Drippy and Muck were with her. Connected through the power of the Jellax, they could co-ordinate and strike at the speed of thought.
While Jelly slithered out of the path of another blast from Uranus, Drippy came bursting forth from a crack in the ground, wrapping her wondrous gelatinous body tightly around the tomboyish Sailor Senshi. With her upper arms pressed against her sides and pressure on her chest and neck, Uranus struggled instinctively. She tried to grab the slime and pry it free from her throat, but only succeeded in trapping her forearms within Drippy. Kicks aimed backwards at where the legs of a human attacker would be were equally useless. Within moments, only Uranus' head remained free of the red slime.
"Uranus!" Neptune cried, reaching for her partner and then recoiling quickly to avoid the next attack. Slimey had made a grab for her, and Neptune knew that she couldn't help Uranus by getting caught herself.
She leapt away and landed in a crouch, hoping for a moment's respite. The former Sailor Senshi were just as formidable in their new forms as they had always been. Though they had not yet demonstrated any special attacks, their slime forms made hand to hand combat suicide... and now three of them were coming right for her. She took a breath and prepared to dodge.
A red rose stopped Jelly, Muck, and Slimey in their tracks, and all eyes turned to the source of the rose. Tuxedo Mask, balanced unnaturally well about thirty feet up a nearby rock face. Evidently he had seen the Outers' predicament and had chosen to help them before completing his own mission. He was already reaching inside his jacket to pull out more roses.
"Keep going, you fool!" Uranus yelled up at him, still struggling within Drippy's slimy grasp, and trying to ignore the kisses that the slime girl was planting all over her hair.
"Anything they do to us can be reversed if you get to the Princess!"
After a moment's hesitation, Tuxedo Mask nodded once and started moving again, traversing the rock face until he was within jumping distance of a cave entrance. His heart told him that somewhere in that cave, he would find his beloved Usagi. He dropped down, landing in a crouch, and then ran into the darkness, his cape billowing behind him.
"Usako!" he called out, unsure if he would get an answer, but hoping against hope that her heart would recognise him.
"Mamo-chan?" Gooey murmured, looking away from her Mistress. Her eyes sought someone, though she did not understand why. She had no idea why the echoing shout had prompted her to say that name. She didn't know who or what Usako was, and yet something in her had reacted.
"Pay it no mind, sweet Gooey" Jamanen purred, stroking her cheek. She leaned in closer so that her mouth was almost touching Gooey's ear.
"The man in the cape will soon be part of us"
The thought of that made her happy beyond reason, and so she waited in Jamanen's embrace, contented and excited. They sat together in the Mistress' oversized throne, patiently watching proceedings through the eyes of the others.
Chibi-Jama smiled internally. For the moment, she was oozing along shapelessly in Tuxedo Mask's wake. At any time she chose, or her mother Jamanen prompted her, she could overtake him and give him the shock of his life before sealing his conversion. A loving mother, obedient slaves, and Tuxedo Mask as her boy-toy. It would be perfect. The only way it could be better would be if enough of Usagi was left inside Gooey to understand just how completely Chibi-Jama had beaten her.
In her memory of her human life, Chibi-Jama remembered that Tuxedo Mask was the object of her every love and desire, and that she had competed with Usagi for his affection. She remembered loving her mother but being unable to be with her due to the interference of outsiders, quite possibly aided by Usagi. And then at last Jamanen had found her. They had merged, body and soul, and the love shared between mother and daughter had been absolute. Instantly, they had agreed upon the plan to enslave the troublesome Sailor Senshi, to convert Tuxedo Mask into their husband, and then to liberate mankind of their burdens, bringing them the harmony of the Jellax.
Outside, Uranus was beginning to drift. Her revulsion at Drippy's kisses was rapidly diminishing and her struggles had become far less frequent. Neptune was still just about free, but it was becoming clear that the others were just toying with her. When they got bored, they would engulf her too, and that would be the end of that. It was all up to Tuxedo Mask now.
Tuxedo Mask felt that he was getting closer. It was difficult to see in the gloom, but he was using far more than just his eyes. His heart and soul said that Usagi was near. He could save her. It had to be done. They were destined to be together. They would become king and queen of Crystal Tokyo and protect the world from all who would threaten it. There was so much that absolutely had to happen. That knowledge gave him the confidence that the plan was sound.
And then he heard a familiar giggle behind him.
"My Tuxedo Mask" Chibi-Jama cried excitedly as soon as her head had formed. She continued to flow upwards into a human shape, watching her beloved turn to face her, and delighting in his pained expression. Human pain was good. It made the Jellaxing into an even more blissful release.
"You came to find me" she went on, "I'm so glad. What do you think of the new me?"
She traced a finger up from her belly button all the way to her neck, passing between the tiny breasts that she hadn't had as a human. Her face bore an expression of naked lust. Clearly she thought to seduce him.
Just barely keeping the anger and revulsion from showing on his face, Tuxedo Mask forced himself to remember that he could still save Chibi-Usa if he could get to Usagi.
"You look... different" he managed, his mind racing. He made a silent vow that Droid Jellax was going to pay for doing this to an innocent child.
"Chibi-Usa. Can you show me where Usagi is? With your help, I can save her, and she can make you all human again"
Chibi-Jama shook her head and gave a snort of derision.
"Why would I want to be human?" she sneered. "Humans can't do this"
On 'this', she began to change. Her body grew, becoming more womanly as she concentrated on an image in her mind. Within moments, she stood before him as a grown woman, her face and hair exactly as she had been years ago when Wiseman had used the Dark Crystal to turn her into Wicked Lady.
"I can change my age at will" she said, "Become a toddler so that mother can hold me up without merging, become an adult to seduce human adults, or stay as a pre-pubescent child and have fun for eternity. Such are the gifts of Jellax form, my dear Tuxedo Mask. Do you want to learn?"
After asking that question, she returned to her 'standard' age, leaving Tuxedo Mask shocked.
"This isn't who you are, Chibi-Usa" he declared, throwing back his cape with a flourish.
"Childhood is precious because it comes only once. It should be savoured while it lasts and then fondly remembered as we grow into adults. I will save you from Jellax. This I swear"
Chibi-Jellax shook her head.
"You can't" she retorted, "Because even if I wanted to be made human again, there isn't anything left of Usagi. You can't reach her for whatever plan you cooked up"
Her expression softened for a moment as she looked at him.
"Did you bring my Luna-P with you?" she asked sweetly, "I miss it"
Distracted by hope and sympathy for his future child, Tuxedo Mask knelt before her.
He was about to speak when he felt a stabbing pain in his back. A red blade emerged from his chest and he stared blankly at it, unwilling to believe that his own child had suckered him.
"It's alright, Tuxedo Mask" Chibi-Jama murmured, walking forward to embrace him.
"We'll be together forever"
She kissed him then, full on the lips, and Tuxedo Mask melted completely.
Moments later, a new slime person arose from where he had been kneeling. He looked more chiselled and statuesque than his female counterparts. He was a rock of gorgeous masculinity. He was perfect. Jamanen and Chibi-Jama would own him for eternity. He would love them, obey them, and bring endless pleasure. He was their man. The only question that remained was what to call him.'That can wait'
they thought together as they started to tickle him; Jamanen tickling his shoulders while Chibi-Jama tickled his stomach.'I think the girls nearly have some new recruits'
Outside, Uranus was losing herself. Though enough of her remained to be angry at herself, she no longer fought against Drippy, nor against Muck, who had joined them. Her clothes were gone, torn off a piece at a time by Muck "so that nothing ruined the sensation". The slime cocoon writhed all over Uranus's body, while Muck and Drippy continued kissing her face and hair. With almost her entire body in direct contact with the slime, things were accelerating. She could feel the changes inside her already. Parts of her body were beginning to yearn for oneness with the former-Senshi.
They whispered to the part of her that had initially refused the call, urging her to let go of the pressures of being a Sailor Senshi and to accept their slimy bliss.
A short distance away, Neptune was similarly engulfed within Jelly and Slimey. She tried to resist as best she could. The longer she and Uranus could keep these slimy remnants of the Sailor Senshi busy, the better chance Tuxedo Mask would have of reaching Sailor Moon. Little did she know that it was already too late.
"Uranus" she gasped, "You have to keep fighting. I believe in you, Uranus... my Haruka-chan"
Her words did not seem to have the desired effect. Watching her love fall like this was agony.
Slimey seemed to sense that and gave her a kiss.
"The pain will go away when you're both part of us" she whispered, "You'll be together forever"
As Uranus' face began to merge with the slime, Neptune began to cry. She was so afraid that Slimey was right. Her last thought before she saw Uranus submit was 'What is taking Tuxedo Mask so long?'
and then she surrendered too, unwilling to face life without her beloved...
Weeks passed without word. The families of the Sailor Senshi grew more and more depressed as the police investigation into the disappearances of their daughters dragged on uselessly.
Luna and Artemis stayed at the Hikawa shrine, alternating between inconsolable grief and frantic planning. It was obvious now that Tuxedo Mask had failed. If the plan had worked, the Sailor Senshi would all be back by now. The weight of that failure was crushing, but Luna was not ready to give up. The situation was desperate enough that they had no other choice in the matter. They would have to contact Sailor Pluto and go back in time to before Ami and Usagi had embarked on the mission that had started all this. Only then could everything be put right.
"It's over, Luna" Artemis grumbled, "It's been five weeks since Tuxedo Mask left. If Pluto was going to help us, she would've shown up by now"
Though he hadn't mentioned anything to Luna, Artemis was so depressed that he was seriously considering alcoholism as a career path. He had seen many humans turn to alcohol in an attempt to wash away their pain and sorrow. He didn't know if it would work for him, and if he was honest, he didn't expect that it really worked on humans for very long, but even a short period of forgetfulness and peace was better than nothing. Minako had been his world for years. Though they were physically incompatible, he had adored her like no-one else, even Luna.
"Artemis, it's not that simple" Luna insisted.
She was pacing now, wishing that she could keep Artemis from giving up. She had to stay strong. As long as there was a chance of getting the Sailor Senshi back, she was going to try anything.
"We both know that Sailor Pluto can't leave the Space-Time Door unguarded to come down here on the off chance and check if there is a problem. She should have sensed something though. Usagi, Mamoru and Chibi-Usa falling like they did surely destabilised the timelines enough that she would have to intervene"
"Maybe she just doesn't care" Artemis scoffed bitterly, subjecting his paws to an unprecedented level of scrutiny to avoid having to look Luna in the eyes.
"Of course she cares" Luna shot back, unwilling to acknowledge her own lingering thoughts on the Pluto matter.
"Perhaps she is fighting something that seeks to take advantage of the damage to the timeline"
Even as she said that, Luna knew she was grasping at straws. Where was Pluto? Did she really not know? That seemed unlikely, though her duties would pretty much force her to intervene and she hadn't. Was she somehow being prevented from doing so? But who or what could have that kind of power?
"There is only one way to be sure" she declared.
"We have to recover Chibi-Usa's Luna-P and use it to contact Sailor Pluto. Without the Time Key, we have no other way to reach her"
Luna-P had been deemed strange enough by the police to be confiscated as possible evidence. To the best of Luna's knowledge, the police still had it.
"Artemis, please help me. We will get Minako and the others back"
Artemis sighed, defeated. He could see now that Luna wasn't going to let him be alone with his grief. She was going to try crazy scheme after crazy scheme until they ran out of resources... which they pretty much had. Pluto was their last hope, short of restoring Hotaru's full memory and awakening Sailor Saturn. Of course that had more chance of destroying the planet than getting Minako back. Even though Hotaru had saved the world from Pharaoh 90 last year, her powers were too greatly feared to risk awakening her again. It was deemed far safer to let her be a normal girl and a friend to Chibi-Usa.
The police seemed oblivious to the presence of a pair of space cats in their midst. They were all too busy with various cases to check what was going on beneath their feet. While that meant that no-one was yet questioning how Luna and Artemis had gotten in or why, it presented a different risk in the shape of lots of feet. Being stepped on was an even worse prospect than merely being discovered. After some searching, the cats found that the case had taken another very worrying twist. Another girl had been taken, and evidence was missing. Covert surveillance from underneath tables revealed that the extra missing girl was Hotaru and the missing evidence was Luna-P.
It seemed that Droid Jellax was always one step ahead, and probably about to complete her collection of Sailor Senshi...
"We've lost" Artemis whispered, "No way to contact Pluto, and no way to get the others back"
He fixed Luna with an accusing look, seemingly blaming her for trying so hard to give him hope only to have it dashed again and again.
"I'm not giving up, Artemis" Luna insisted, fighting back tears. She couldn't just give up, but she was running out of ideas.
"There has to be something we've missed. We should stay here for a while and monitor the investigation. If they still have Ami's computer, there might be something on it that can help us"
Artemis groaned and shook his head. Another straw for Luna to clutch onto. Would it never end?
"We can make them do whatever we want!" Chibi-Jama cried excitedly, and commanded Gooey and Muck to form themselves into swings while Splataru looked on.
The former Sailor Saturn was still getting used to her form, and to the idea that she and her best friend were free to do absolutely anything they wanted. She was so grateful to Chibi-Jama for sharing this gift with her. In time, once she learned how best to use her new abilities, she could enjoy things even more.
The young Jellaxes continued to play with their slime slaves for several hours before Jamanen oozed over to them with Luna-P floating in her wake. As had been the case when Chibi-Usa had become Wicked Lady, Luna-P had changed itself to match her. It's eyes now glowed green, and the moon on its forehead was red and slimy.
"It is time, my daughter" Jamanen declared, placing a loving hand on Chibi-Jellax's head.
"Are you ready for your greatest performance?"
A devious smile played across Chibi-Jama's lips. She was more than ready. Once Sailor Pluto was added to their collection of sailor slimes, there would be no-one left to stop their plans to spread across the Earth.
"I'm ready, mom" she declared eagerly. This was going to be fun. So much fun.
She held out her arms and the Luna Ball came obediently to her hands.
A few moments later, she concentrated on Sailor Pluto, and both slime girl and ball vanished.
The area around the Door to Space-Time was thick with fog that was barely distinguishable from the clouds that made up the ground. Only the fact that the ground was solid while the fog was not made it possible to tell at all.
Chibi-Jama wandered this concealed landscape, searching for Sailor Pluto. She had already moulded her outer shape to look as if she was wearing a school uniform and she clutched her Luna-P as if her life depended on it.
"Plu!" she cried, projecting far more fear and desperation into her voice than she actually felt.
"Help me, Plu!"
And on it went, her little voice echoing through the fog as she ran and called out for Pluto until she reached the point where she felt that as a human, her body might start to betray her.
She made herself fall over. Though she felt no pain, she reacted as a human child might and burst into tears.
A few minutes later, the fog lifted, and Sailor Pluto came into view. As usual, her long flowing hair and her staff gave her a timeless, ethereal look. She moved with an easy grace, and her flawless face showed genuine concern.
"Small Lady?" she asked, "Is that you? What happened to you?"
Chibi-Jama did not answer. She just kept crying, prompting Pluto to come closer and to kneel beside the once and future Princess of Crystal Tokyo.
"I promise it will be alright, Small Lady" Pluto said soothingly, offering no resistance as Chibi-Jama hugged her.
"Tell me what did this to you, and then I can put it right"
Unseen by Pluto, a wicked grin appeared on Chibi-Jellax's face. Her slimy hands instantly changed into blades and shot deep into Pluto's sides, racing for her heart.
"This happened, Plu" Chibi-Jellax announced a moment later, sure that the conversion was about to set in.
Pluto gasped. The shock was greater than the pain, at least for the moment. How had she not realised that the temporal instability that she had sensed growing for these past few weeks was so tied to Small Lady? Why had she let her guard down? She knew the answer to that. During the attack on Crystal Tokyo by the Black Moon Family, she had become responsible for Small Lady. More than that, she loved the young Princess. Seeing her altered like this had provoked more compassion than caution. She was paying the price for that now. She could feel her insides beginning to change.
"Oh, Small Lady" Pluto gasped, collapsing backwards.
"I can't let... this... happen"
It was hurting to talk now, and her breathing became more and more laboured as she fought against the change with everything she had. Though she knew that it was inevitable, she had to delay it just long enough to fulfil her ancient mission.
She dropped her staff, and held her right hand over it.
There was an almighty flash of purple energy that left Chibi-Jellax blinking against the afterglow for a long time. Pluto's last act as a Sailor Senshi had been to destroy the Garnet Eye Rod, locking the Door to Space-Time forever. She was Sailor Pluto no longer. She was a slime slave now. She would do the bidding of her Mistresses for the rest of time...
Back on Earth, Luna and Artemis were finally alone with Ami's laptop computer. It was slow going, especially given that paws were nowhere near as helpful for typing as fingers. As Luna had expected, everything related to the exploits of the Sailor Senshi was protected. Ami was far too smart to leave that sort of stuff laying around for anyone to find. Fortunately, Luna knew Ami, and had been the one to help document some of the content. She knew what she was looking for and how to get at it. She just hoped that there was something that could help.
Engrossed as she was in her research, she didn't notice Artemis leaving.
By the morning, Artemis felt abysmal. He had spent part of the night with a homeless drunk who was so out of it that he hadn't even found it bizarre that his new drinking companion was a talking cat. Experimenting with alcohol had made him feel worse. Oh, for a brief moment it had washed away the pain, but in short order the painful memories returned, backed up by feelings of terrible guilt that he should even want to forget Minako.
Seeing the potential spiral of self-destruction for what it was, Artemis had undergone a change of heart. He still grieved, but he knew that to destroy himself was an insult to Minako's memory. To that end, he would help Luna in any way he could, and if nothing could be done, they would honour the Sailor Senshi until their last breaths. No other course of action seemed acceptable to him now.
The cats met up at Usagi's house at around lunchtime and quickly reconciled. Luna had the beginnings of a plan, but no way to implement it yet. Further discussion was forestalled by the News. Things were getting worse."The number of disappearances continues to grow exponentially. In what may or may not be related, as the disappearances increase, so too do sightings of 'strange red slime monsters'. More on this, as it develops"
Luna and Artemis exchanged grave looks. They knew what this meant if it was true. An invasion.
"We have to find some way to deal with this" Artemis declared.
Luna nodded in agreement.
"You're right. If Droid Jellax is invading the city, she could have the Sailor Senshi with her. Perhaps there is a way to reach them. Reading Ami's files reminded me of the Lunar Mind Meld that we used to awaken their memories last time. I don't know if it would work again, but it's our only chance. Come on!"
Artemis didn't need telling twice. Together, they ran outside to begin their search.'This is all so much fun'
Chibi-Jama thought to herself, watching her mother converting more humans. They were spreading the love and harmony of the Jellax and replacing the chaotic hardships of human life. One became two became four became eight and so on in a self-replicating wave-front of salvation.
Watching from a vantage point atop a skyscraper, Chibi-Jama wore the shape of Wicked Lady and revelled in their progress. Behind her, half a dozen new Jellaxes were exploring the wonders of their new forms.
"No-one can stop us now" she murmured, "And only those driven by fear of the unknown would even try"
Hours passed with no luck.
Luna and Artemis had seen hundreds of slime people, but no Droid Jellax and no Sailor Senshi. With the conversion spreading at such an alarming rate, it was very much like looking for a needle in a haystack.
Finally they caught a break. They found Droid Jellax with Chibi-Usa and Usagi at her sides.
The trio were in an otherwise deserted street in front of an apartment complex.
"This is a big risk" Artemis said thoughtfully as the two of them eyed up the situation.
"I agree" Luna replied, "I would have preferred to get to Usagi on her own, but if Droid Jellax knows as we do that she is the key, she'll never leave Usagi unguarded anywhere that we could get to her"
"Look. Chibi-Usa has Luna-P. That could be a problem"
Artemis' observation was correct. They both knew that Chibi-Usa could command Luna-P to become all manner of tools or weapons.
As Luna and Artemis observed, a group of five slime people came oozing out of the nearby apartment complex to present themselves to Droid Jellax. Four of them were the former Nemesis Sisters; agents of the Black Moon Clan until Sailor Moon had used the Silver Crystal to purify them and make them human. The fifth was Mianko. Artemis let out a pained gasp at seeing her like that.
"Stay strong, Artemis" Luna said, hoping to encourage him and to keep him from falling into despair again.
Artemis nodded once.
The cats continued to watch as the Nemesis Sisters stood as still as statues in front of Droid Jellax.
"We will serve you always, Mistress" the sisters droned.
Smiling, Droid Jellax placed a loving hand on Avery's face.
"It's just like old times" she murmured, "Except for the part where I am now your Queen, and you are my subjects. Do not despair, Sludge Sisters. I harbour no ill will against you for what the Black Moon Clan taught you. Tell me. How do you feel?"
"We feel good, Mistress" the sisters droned.
"Which of us looks best, Mistress?" Berthier asked, prompting Chibi-Usa and Droid Jellax to stifle chuckles. Not even a change of species could put an end to the sisters' obsession with their looks.
"You all look exquisite" Chibi-Usa said reassuringly, "And the best part is that you won't need to worry about that ever changing"
Her words had an instantly gratifying effect on the sisters.
"Now, help to spread the gift of the Jellax throughout the city, and I'll get you some choice gifts"
The sisters didn't need telling twice. They oozed away eagerly, leaving only Droid Jellax, Chibi-Usa, Minako, and Usagi.
"We may never get a better chance" Luna and Artemis said almost in unison.
"Luna, no matter what happens, get to Usagi. I'll buy you as much time as I can"
As soon as he said that, Artemis sprang into motion, rushing towards Minako. Luna followed just behind, aiming for Usagi.
Halfway up the street, Artemis banked left while Luna banked right. A distraction would do no good if she was right next to him while he was performing it.
Artemis slowed, waiting until Luna was on the opposite side of the street, past the group, and banking to come at them from the other direction before drawing maximum attention to himself.
"Minako!" he cried at the top of his voice, racing towards her as fast as he could.
All four of the slime people turned to look at him and he leapt, claws extended, for Droid Jellax's face.
Though she felt there was little chance of this strange white cat doing any damage to her Mistress, Muck reacted as she was conditioned to do. She swiftly interposed herself between the two and formed a clinging net from her arms with which to capture the feline attacker. She held his body fast in her slimy grip but left his head free.
For reasons that she did not understand, the white cat was still calling her by a name that she didn't recognise. She was Muck and she was sure that she always had been. It didn't make any sense to her unless the cat was mistaken.
Luna had known that Artemis serving as a distraction would put him at risk, but she was glad that Minako had reacted fastest and grabbed him in a non-lethal fashion.
With all eyes on Artemis, she got into position. Marshalling her strength of will, she prepared to make the connection. She just needed Usagi to look at her so she could do it.
"Usagi!" she shouted.
As planned, Usagi turned, but so did the others. Luna immediately started the meld, sending a golden beam of energy from the moon on her forehead towards Usagi's face.
What happened next was not what anybody expected...
Luna-P interpreted the energy beam as an attack and moved the intercept it almost as soon as it had made contact with Usagi. Not only did this interfere with the transmission of memories, it caused Luna-P to explode violently.
When the dust settled, it looked to all the world that Usagi and Luna had been destroyed.
The anguish was palpable as Artemis screamed for Luna, while Jamanen and Muck screamed for Gooey, and Chibi-Jellax screamed for Luna-P.
None of them could believe what had happened.
Artemis fully expected that he would now be blamed for this and suffer physical agony to match his mental agony. He was mistaken.
"She was the only other one of your kind, wasn't she?" Jamanen asked, her tone suggesting genuine sympathy.
"I am so sorry. I too know that dreadful loneliness and pain. I was the last of my kind for so very long. I was forced into servitude and only my near death at Sailor Moon's hands saved me"
"Then why did you destroy her?" Artemis demanded.
"Why take your saviour and make her a slave? Why do the same to my Minako and then to so many others?"
Jamanen looked thoughtful for a moment.
"My civilisation is gone" she said, "I wanted it back, and for a long time I did not know how I could possibly do that. I saw the human race suffering, and I learned how to change humans into Jellaxes. I could save their civilisation from itself and rebuild mine all at once. I did not think the Sailor Senshi would understand, and at first I was right. They thought I was still a monster. If I was to achieve my goal, I would need them to help me spread my gift to others and then protect the resulting civilisation"
"None of the newly converted are slaves here" she went on, making a sweeping gesture towards the rest of the city.
"They welcome the harmony that I bring and revere me for bringing it. They are happy to be part of our whole. Everyone is happy, and that is what I want. Those that have not yet experienced the gift fear it, but their fear will pass. Soon the whole world will rejoice in the loving harmony that we bring"
She was not going to say anything in front of Muck that would make her realise that she had ever had a former identity. Though she thought it was incredibly unlikely that any of the Sailor Senshi could regain their old personalities, it was best from her perspective to be cautious. She needed them loyal and loving.
Jamanen once again looked at Artemis with an expression of pity.
"I regret that I cannot give you the same gift, last of the moon cats" she said gently.
"I shall miss Gooey terribly, as will we all"
She leaned closer to whisper into his ear.
"I understand that you want your Minako. My darling Muck is as close as you can get now. Love her, and she will love you. Do not try to change her as that could do her terrible harm. She likes the way she is. If you love her, why torture her mind with tales of a life that she won't believe she had?"
Meanwhile, Luna and Usagi were very much alive. They had no earthly clue where they were, but they were alive, and a lot was going through Usagi's mind.'Who am I? Am I Gooey? Am I Princess Serenity? Am I Usagi Tsukino? Am I Sailor Moon? What is the truth? Was I born Jellax or human? On the Moon or in Japan or on Nemesis? Why is everything so messed up? Where am I? What is this place?'
Luna awoke slowly and looked around her. She appeared to be floating in mid air against a starry red backdrop. Beneath her, and approaching slowly, appeared to be part of the palace from the Moon Kingdom. Floating beside her was a big blob of red slime. Usagi's face formed slowly on the surface of that slime, wearing a somewhat bewildered expression.
"Are you Luna?" Usagi asked, sounding half asleep.
"Who am I?"
Luna was glad that Usagi recognised her. That was a good sign. It was about the only good sign. It seemed as though the mind meld had been only partly successful, but now they were stranded somewhere. Were they in a representation of Usagi's mind or had the blast from the Luna Ball sent them into another dimension.
"Yes, I'm Luna. You are Usagi. Tell me. What do you remember?"
"It's all a mess, Luna" she said sadly.
"I have all these voices in my head insisting that they are the real me. Usagi the normal girl, Sailor Moon the super-hero, Princess Serenity of the Moon Kingdom, and Gooey the Jellax. You say I'm Usagi, but that would make me human, and I don't feel like I have a human body. I feel like I'm made of slime"
Luna sighed and nodded
"It's very complicated" she said as reassuringly as she could.
"If you let me finish the Lunar Mind Meld, hopefully I can straighten everything out"
Usagi looked doubtful for a moment, then formed more of her head and nodded.
They were just now reaching the ground, settling down on a marble floor with rows of columns around the edges.
Luna formed the connection again, hoping to repair the damage to Usagi's memory. During the process, Usagi cried out for Mamoru, for Ami, and for Minako.
After perhaps half a minute, the meld was complete.
Usagi sank back into an amorphous blob for a moment then oozed forward, surrounding Luna.
A worried expression appeared on Luna's face, and then the Usagi-slime began to change form.
First came her head, then her neck and shoulders. As she continued to rise up, her arms formed and held Luna to her chest. Up and up she went until she stood completely human-shaped, but still made of red slime.
"I remember everything" she said breathlessly.
"Luna, where are we?"
Luna smiled as she looked up at Usagi's slimy red face. She was so relieved that it had worked.
"I don't know" she admitted.
"It looks a bit like the place we went to when Queen Serenity first restored your powers. We have to move quickly and get back to Earth! The evil Droid Jellax is enslaving the whole planet and only the power of the Silver Crystal can stop her!"
Usagi shook her head.
"Luna, her name is Jamanen and she is not evil" she admonished.
"She was the last of the Jellax race and corrupted by the rulers of Nemesis. I've felt her mind, Luna. She's lonely. She wants her civilisation back and she thinks that normal people are suffering too much. She thinks that she is helping everyone by taking humans and making them into Jellaxes. She is just misguided"
Seeing Luna's look of shock, Usagi continued to explain.
"I know that she enslaved me and the rest of the Sailor Senshi. That was wrong, but I forgive her. She's known evil for so long, she doesn't understand that she's going about her goals the wrong way. She's forgotten what choice is. Changing people without asking them if they want to be changed is wrong, but changing volunteers is not. Luna, I am going to stop her, but I won't destroy her. I'm going to use the Crystal to heal her and show her that she doesn't have to use force to get a new civilisation"
All Luna could say to that was "I hope you know what you're doing"
Usagi smiled, and set Luna down in front of her.
"I hope I do too" she replied, then closed her eyes.
Her body changed again, going from looking naked to looking like she was wearing a long flowing dress. The dress of the Moon Princess. She even formed the jewellery of the Princess in the same red slime as the rest of her body. A golden crescent moon appeared on her forehead, and the Silver Crystal formed in the middle of her chest.
"Ok, Luna" Usagi said, "Let's go save the world"
She knelt down so that Luna could jump up onto her shoulder, then stood once again.
It was time. She took a deep breath and then concentrated on what she wanted to happen.
"Moon Crystal Power!"