Ultimate Mystic Force: Recap

 

Exposed and on the run, the Mystic Rangers stumble across an amnesiac girl named Serena. Necrolai chases after her, and the team learns why: Serena is actually a reincarnation of Queen Serenity, a Heavenly Saint who took mortal form before space/time. Now called Sailor Moon, Serena is the Key to the Gateway that sealed the Hades Beasts in Hell.

 

After regaining her memories, she started to tell the Rangers the truth about her past as a Heavenly Saint.

 

Chapter 15: Ultimate Mystics

The Earth Prince

 

The Rangers used their magick to teleport to Root Core with Serenity. Back in her civilian form, she looked different than the girl Nick met. She appeared the same but carried herself with more maturity and seriousness, as if an older soul and not a young girl — not far from the truth.

 

She gathered around the Viewing Globe with the Rangers’ cat spirit, Kuro, and told them her story.

 

***

 

Before Time and Space

 

Prince Endymion leaned back in his throne, within Earth’s Golden Kingdom of Elysion. His four Shitennou — Jadeite, Nephrite, Zoisite, and Kunzite — kneeled before him.

 

Jadeite lowered his head. “We managed to repel the Dark One’s forces yet again…but we still don’t know how they reached our realm.”

 

“Keep searching,” Endymion told the Shitennou, his royal guards and protectors. “The Dark One’s minions continually attack the heart of our world…I want to know how.”

 

Nephrite scowled but said nothing.

 

Endymion noticed. “You have something to say, Nephrite? Speak freely…”

 

“It’s…the Moon Kingdom, my prince,” he said. “There is something dark growing there. We should no longer trust them.”

 

Endymion shook his head. “Queen Serenity is a powerful ally. She serves the Creator and The Power.”

 

“An ally? Is that all she is to you?” Nephrite asked.

 

Endymion narrowed his eyes. “I don’t care for your tone. She is a Heavenly Saint in mortal form, and I am a mann.”

 

“Of course, my prince…” Nephrite said, less than convinced.

 

Endymion didn’t press the issue. Instead, he dismissed his royal guard and sat alone. He lowered his head and sighed, tired of the burden of rule.

 

“Queen Serenity…” he whispered. “My Usagi…”

 

Moonlight beamed through the rear window; Usagi shimmered into view, wearing robes of white and gold. An astral projection, Queen Serenity stepped behind Endymion and wrapped her arms around him.

 

“My prince…” she whispered. She dared not appear to him in physical form, but loved him greatly, despite the taboo of a Heavenly Saint mating with a mann.

 

“Usagi…” Endymion said. “What Nephrite said…is it true?”

 

“There is something…dark,” she said. “But I don’t know what. My four guardians have yet to find out.”

 

Endymion nodded. “You should let me send troops to help. Or the Shitennou themselves. They can-”

 

“No,” Usagi said. “They already suspect us.”

 

“Then let them suspect,” Endymion said. “I love you, Usagi. And you love me…Let’s declare that love, and unite the Earth and Moon Kingdoms as one.”

 

“I…cannot,” Usagi said. “The other Heavenly Saints would never allow our pairing.”

 

“Then why bother letting you take physical form?” Endymion asked.

 

“To learn,” Queen Serenity said. “Not to love.”

 

“To love is to learn…”

 

***

 

Beryl scoffed with disgust as she watched Endymion and Serenity through her crystal ball. “‘To love is to learn’? Fools.”

 

A soft voice came from the shadows of Beryl’s private chambers. “Jealous, my dear sister?”

 

The priestess narrowed her eyes. “Moridyn…”

 

Moridyn stepped from the darkness. “Beryl. How lovely to see you…”

 

“Leave, Forsaken,” Beryl said.

 

I am not the forsaken one this day,” Moridyn said with a mocking grin. “Does your heart yearn for the Prince of the Earth Kingdom? A mann?”

 

“I said leave,” Beryl said.

 

“I will leave in due time. But first, I must deliver a message,” Moridyn said. “The Dark One has not forgotten your service to his cause. Yet you fail to commit to him completely.”

 

“I commit to no one…” Beryl said. She found herself glancing at her crystal ball, showing Endymion embrace the astral form of Queen Serenity.

 

She narrowed her brow with anger and swatted the crystal ball aside; it shattered against the wall.

 

Moridyn smiled at the sight. “Feel better?”

 

“I will not be mocked in my home,” Beryl said.

 

“But you make it so easy,” Moridyn said. “Look at what you’ve become. You used to be the most talented among us. And now you waste away in your chambers, pining over a mortal, growing bitter over his tryst with a Heavenly Saint. Such things are beneath us.”

 

“What is your message?” Beryl asked impatiently.

 

“The Dark One recognizes your talents as the most gifted channeler in all of creation,” Moridyn said. “Give yourself to him and his cause, and he will give you the prince of the Earth Kingdom, as well as the Moon Kingdom itself.”

 

“…How?”

 

“He has his ways,” Moridyn said. “In exchange for this favor, the Dark One would ask of you one thing…”

 

“What would that be…?”

 

“To carry his child.”

 

***

 

The present, Root Core

 

Chip wrinkled his nose. “To what?”

 

“Carry his child,” Serena said as she continued her story. “The Dark One wanted to create a new race, a race of his own.”

 

“Demons…” Nick said.

 

Serena nodded. “He infused Beryl with his power, and she gave birth to a creature of dark, twisted spiritual energy: The First Demon, Azmodai.”

 

“How romantic,” Vida said sarcastically.

 

“Then what happened?” Chip asked with a hint of excitement to hear the rest of the tale.

 

Serena’s face paled at the memory. “War…”

 

***

 

Before Time and Space

 

The Crystal Palace of the Moon darkened into black. Beryl stood on top of the palace and lifted her hand, which pulsed with dark energy.

 

Shadow Lines split from the palace and wrapped around the moon like webbing, grasping the world in a hold of evil.

 

Queen Serenity leapt to her feet within her throne room, which shook from the intense power of Beryl’s spiritual pressure. Color drained from the walls and floors, as darkness spread.

 

The doors shattered open; streaks of smoke burst into the chambers and twirled around the room. Demons, the creatures howled with madness that intensified with the might of a storm.

 

Queen Serenity called for her guardians. “Ami! Rei! Makoto! Minako!”

 

The queen pulled her scepter from her gown and ignited the weapon with golden power. She thrust the wand at the demons.

 

“Moon Halation!” The scepter glowed with golden power that washed across the room, blasting the demons from the air.

 

Outside, the four Sailor Guardians rushed towards the palace. But a wall of darkness erupted from the ground and blocked their path.

 

The darkness spawned creatures, demons called Youma.

 

The Youma lashed out with bolts of shadow. The Guardians leapt aside and scattered to avoid the blasts.

 

Ami — Sailor Mercury — rolled into a crouched stance and crossed her arms over her chest.

 

“Aqua Mist!”

 

She formed globules of hydro energy that shot towards the creatures. The blasts punctured through their bodies with bursts of spark, whipping them backward.

 

A squad of Youma moved in towards Sailor Mercury from behind. The creatures looked lupine, with short dark fur and long white manes. They growled with jaws of razor sharp teeth, and bright yellow eyes.

 

Sailor Mercury didn't turn to face them in time.

 

But Sailor Jupiter did. She faced the creatures and crackled with electricity.

 

“Supreme Thunder!”

 

A bolt of lightning tore through the skies and blasted the Youma to ash.

 

More creatures sprouted from the shadows and surrounded the sailors to attack. The darkness grew as thick as smoke, making it hard for the Guardians to see their opponents.

 

Sailor Jupiter called for her teammates, who she couldn't see. She dropped her guard just long enough for a Youma to pounce at her from the side. She quickly turned and thrust her palm with a burst of lightning that blasted the creature to ash.

 

Nearby, Sailor Venus placed her palms together, as an army of Youma surrounded her. She spread her palms apart, summoning a chain of orange energy.

 

“Venus Chain!”

 

She snapped the chain like a whip, firing bolts of power that splashed across the creatures and hurled them through the air.

 

“They keep coming!” Venus shouted.

 

Sailor Mars rushed through the darkness and spotted another group of Youma advance towards Sailor Venus. Sailor Mars crossed her arms over her chest.

 

“Burning Mandala!”

 

She formed a ring of flames, which formed eight smaller spheres of flame. The spheres of fire blasted towards the Youma and splashed through them, incinerating their bodies into ash.

 

***

 

Below, the menn and womenn of the Earth Kingdom stared into the night sky. They saw the moon darken and pulse with black energy.

 

Endymion stood alongside his soldiers and narrowed his eyes. “Usagi...”

 

He composed himself, then turned to his men. “Arm yourselves! We march to the Moon Kingdom, and to the defense of Queen Serenity!”

 

Suddenly, a burst of green light exploded in the midst of Endymion's army. The blast hurled him through the air; he crashed and skid across the ground.

 

Slow, he climbed to his feet and looked up to face the attackers: The Shitennou.

 

“Jadeite...Nephrite...Kunzite...Zoisite...why?” he asked with a hoarse voice.

 

They didn't answer. Instead, their eyes shifted solid black, demon possessed.

 

***

 

Queen Serenity spun her baton and fired another wave of light. The blasts ripped through demons and tore the throne room to pieces. The walls and ceiling exploded, exposing the room to the darkness that shrouded the moon.

 

The queen attacked relentlessly, blasting every demon that dared to cross her path. As she battled, Queen Serenity heard the laughter of Beryl echo through the air.

 

Sailor Moon looked over her shoulder to find Beryl floating in a sphere of dark energy.

 

“Beryl...” Serenity whispered with disbelief. “Are you behind this...? Why? You’re one of the Priests!”

 

Beryl laughed. “You pretty, naive girl. Why?! You were a Heavenly Saint...yet you chose to take the form of a mortal, and court with a mann! Prince Endymion...”

 

Serenity narrowed her eyes. “And for that you would betray your own people?”

 

“For my own prince? My own kingdom? Yes. I would.”

 

Beryl lifted her hand with a pulse of shadow energy that shot towards Serenity. Sailor Moon swung her wand with a pulse of light that blasted the shadow aside.

 

“Release your hold on this world!” the queen shouted.

 

“Never...” Beryl said.

 

Suddenly, blasts of light exploded around Queen Serenity and whipped her to the floor. Slowly, she climbed to her feet and looked up to see four globes of energy descend into the palace. The globes dissipated to form the Shitennou.

 

Jadeite tossed Endymion onto the floor. He crashed with a grunt, wincing with pain as blood dripped down his forehead.

 

“Endymion!” Serenity shouted as she ran towards him.

 

Nephrite lifted his hand with an invisible TK burst that knocked her to her knees.

 

Kunzite laughed and lifted Endymion by the hair. “How do you like your prince now, queen of the moon? So frail and weak, like the earth below and moon above.”

 

“Let him go!” Serenity shouted.

 

Kunzite dropped him to the floor with a chuckle. “Very well.”

 

He kicked the fallen prince, who grunted with pain.

 

Serenity swung her scepter towards the villains, but Beryl summoned a gale force of Shadow Fire that swept her off her feet.

 

***

 

The Heavenly Saints rallied above the Moon and in the skies above the Earth. The cosmic beings tore through creatures and demons with waves of power and light, elemental and spiritual, tidal waves of pure, unbridled power.

 

They didn't expect resistance from former Heavenly Saints who joined the cause of the Dark One. These creatures, now called Archfiends, twisted into monstrous forms that mirrored the darkness of their power.

 

The creatures bashed against the Heavenly Saints with an explosion of shadow energy that shook the cosmos.

 

Mikhail swung his fiery sword, hacking through a pair of Archfiends that surged towards him from the side.

 

The Heavenly Saint narrowed his eyes, wondering why the first cosmic beings who forged the universe remained silent and out of sight.

 

He started to call for his fellow Saints Flagel and Volgel. But a massive spiritual pressure filled the cosmos and threatened to crush the Saints, and every sentient creature near the planet.

 

The intense power belonged to the Dark One himself.

 

***

 

The Creator’s palace stirred. The Life Giver felt the darkness of evil cloud the Earth and Moon, and the cosmos that spanned for infinity. And he felt the power of one of his first creations, the Dark One,

 

The Dark One’s emotions ebbed with anger, hate, loss and loneliness. Abandonment. A pulse of darkness splashed across the Earth with a shockwave of energy that defied description. The shockwave shook the Creator from his palace.

 

Omnipresent, the Creator spread to encompass everywhere, as did the Dark One. They clashed with bursts of energy like cosmic storms. Stars exploded into supernovas that spanned light-years. Black holes enveloped planets that burst into rubble. And nebulae twirled like tornadoes that crashed into one another, shattering into particles of light.

 

The flesh-and-blood races cried out as their worlds perished, and the cosmic races screamed with agony as their realms shook apart.

 

The Dark One summoned all his strength and used the fibers of existence itself as a weapon, as did the Creator.

 

The Creator forged a sword of suns and plunged the weapon into the essence of the Dark One, with bursts of supernovas. The Dark One growled with pain, a vibration that shook the stars and planets.

 

The villain smashed planets into rubble and used the fiery power of their cores to deflect the Creator’s attacks. But the Creator intensified his assault with relentless resolve

 

The Life Giver ignited plumes of cosmic energy and snapped them like whips, thrashing through the essence of the Dark One. Then, with a final burst of Holy Light, the Creator singed the entire infinite being of the Dark One. The impact forced the villain into corporeal form. He crashed against the surface of Hades and skid across the barren landscape.

 

The villain rolled to his knees, snapped his shadowy wings, and started to spread into dark mist that covered the cosmos. Quickly, the Creator pierced the Dark One with lances of Holy Light that pinned him to the surface.

 

The Dark One howled with anger. “You’re mad! You made me into this, Creator! Father! You always favored the others, with their special gifts and talents! Talents of creation! But you made me a warrior! A weapon without a wielder, a soldier without a war! You-”

 

The Creator ignited the core of his being into massive waves of light and power that spanned forever. The mighty surge of power splashed against the Dark One and forced him through the surface, deep into its core. The villain lashed out with strands of black mist and shadow. But the Creator forced the geysers of evil power back into Hades, which shook from the indescribable power.

 

The struggle lasted for what mann would consider eons — the Eternal Conflict.

 

***

 

The Dark One cried out with pain. And his Forsaken heard the cries. Compelled to assist, they shifted across the planes of the cosmos and landed on the surface of Hades.

 

Moridyn narrowed his eyes. He never expected the Dark One to lose. Never. All logic and reason predicted his victory. The Forsaken doubted himself. Was he wrong? No...He could never be wrong.

 

Moridyn stepped into the maelstrom of power, and the other Forsaken followed. Their spiritual pressure intensified as they channeled the energy of The Power and the Dark One himself. They felt his energy flow through their veins, which carried the blood of immortals. Priests of the One Power. The strongest channelers in existence.

 

The Dark One reached through them, aimed their power, and lashed out at the Creator with strands of darkness and shadow. Their own spiritual pressure nearly crushed them as the Dark One amplified their might and unleashed it upon the Creator.

 

The Creator no longer had Priests of his own, nor Dragon Knights, all killed by the Forsaken and Green Dragon Knight before the latter's death. So he focused his own power and intensified it, into a focused Silver Crystal. The Crystal blazed with light that washed across Hades and swept up the Forsaken.  

 

With seven bursts of power, seven splinters of his very existence, Seven Seals, the Creator pushed the Dark One and his Forsaken into the depths of Hades and imprisoned them there. The Creator shifted Hades into its own dimensional plane, later called Hell, with a final burst of Holy power.

 

That burst shattered the Creator — his power drained, he splintered into slivers of life essence that rained across the cosmos.

 

***

 

Mikhail felt the Creator's last burst of power. His last breathe. And he cried out with agony. The infinite wave of light and power moved the Heavenly Saint to tears as he crashed upon the Earth.

 

***

 

Morticon stared into the abyss and trembled with rage. The Dark One? Gone. The Forsaken? Sealed with their master. Hades? Vanished.

 

“My home...my home!” he bellowed.

 

He heard the faint sound of laughter from behind, and snapped around to face the shadows. “Who’s there?!” Morticon shouted as he lifted his sword. “Answer me!”

 

“So demanding...” a voice whispered. Slowly, a dark figure stepped out of the shadows. “The battle is not yet over, Morticon. Most of your armies were spread across the cosmos when the Creator banished Hades. They can still fight. As can you.”

 

Morticon snarled and lifted his blade. “You...I recognize you...You are Prince Endymion of the Earth Kingdom.”

 

Endymion smirked. “Not anymore...” he whispered. “The Dark One reached out from his prison and wrapped me in his embrace — a final gift from Beryl. I am now his voice in the cosmos. His Emissary. And our war is just beginning...”

 

***

 

The present, Root Core

 

Chip arced an eyebrow. “So the Dark One possessed Endymion?”

 

“Not possessed,” Serena said. “Tainted. Beryl cast a spell on him before her imprisonment, and that spell allowed Endymion to act as the Dark One’s eyes and ears. It corrupted him. Completely. Endymion...my prince...became the Emissary and carried out the Dark One’s war.”

 

***

 

Before time and space

 

Mikhail stood in the ruins of the Crystal Palace on the moon, now barren thanks to Beryl’s Shadow Line. Youma and Shadow Monsters dotted the landscape — which Beryl had dubbed her Dark Kingdom before her imprisonment. Mikhail's fellow Saints and Sailor Guardians battled the demons in several engagements spread across the surface.

 

The Heavenly Saint Sungel and his companion, Raigel, approached Mikhail from behind.

 

“The fighting goes well,” Raigel said. “We’ve pushed most of the Dark One’s remaining forces back into Hades. A final strike should eliminate them all.”

 

Mikhail shook his head. “No...They are up to something...”

 

“A trap?” Sungel asked.

 

Mikhail nodded. “Yes...”

 

“Even so...” Raigel said. “Our combined might should be able to destroy the forces of darkness once and for all...”

 

“Someone is giving Morticon and the others new direction,” Mikhail said. “New purpose.”

 

“The Dark One’s Emissary?”

 

“He’s a mouthpiece,” Mikhail said. “No...This is something different. Something powerful. I’ve heard whispers of a name: N’Ma.”

 

“Is this N’Ma an Archfiend? Demon?” Sungel asked.

 

“I do not know,” Mikhail said. “But I fear it’s nothing that simple.”

 

“All the more reason to strike while we can,” Raigel said. “If this is a trap, we can still win. We have the numbers, and the power.”

 

“Power?” Mikhail asked.

 

“The Silver Crystal,” Sungel said. “A shard of the Creator's essence...”

 

“One shard?” Mikhail asked. “He was a being of all-power. Shouldn’t there be more?”

 

“Yes...” Sungel said. “But we’re not certain what happened with the remnants of his life energies. Whispers say he spawned new deities, lesser beings, which splintered from his essence.”

 

Mikhail shook his head. “One shard will have to do.”

 

“Queen Serenity has asked to wield it,” Sungel said. “For justice. In repayment for the destruction of her Moon Kingdom.”

 

“Very well...” Mikhail said. “Rally the Saints.”

 

***

 

Morticon entered the realm of Hell and regrouped with his forces on Hades. He gathered his army of Hades Beasts and demons, and prepared to launch an offensive into the heart of the cosmos.

 

He stood in Denzoberranzan, his great city, and lifted his sword. “The Creator has fallen! His Priests are dead! His Dragon Knights are gone! All that remain are the Heavenly Saints, and we will rip them into scraps of nothingness!”

 

Suddenly, Hades shook, and light flashed through the darkened skies. A wave of Heavenly Saints rushed through the shadows and stormed towards Denzoberranzan.

 

Morticon grumbled and lifted his sword at the Saints. “Kill them!”

 

Mikhail landed with a swing of his fiery sword, incinerating a group of demons with waves of light and fire.

 

While Mikhail led the charge from the air, Sungel led the charge from the ground. He lifted his hand and fired a massive wave of sunlight from his palm. The light blasted through the walls of Denzoberranzan and incinerated ranks of Hades beasts. From above, Youma swooped through the air to attack Sungel's army.

 

Sungel lifted his hand to blast the demons. But a blade stabbed through his back from behind. The Heavenly Saint gasped and staggered forward. “What...?”

 

He turned to face his attacker: Heavenly Saint Raigel.

 

“Raigel?!”

 

Raigel laughed. “Did you think you could win so easily? This was a trap, you fool. We lured you all here, to kill you all, with one strike. Then we will free the Dark One, and his power will-“

 

Sungel screamed, pounced and bashed his fist upside Raigel’s head. “Traitor!”

 

Raigel laughed with insanity and fired bolts of lightning. The blasts thrashed Sungel with bursts of spark that whipped him backward. 

 

“You call me a traitor?” Raigel mocked. “You allowed the Creator to horde the power of the cosmos for himself! Now the Dark One’s forces will wield that power, as we should have from the beginning! We are no mere flesh-and-blood races! We are gods!”

 

“You are a fool and a blight on the realms,” Sungel said.

 

Suddenly, the Saints heard stomping come from around the walls of Denzoberranzan. The city’s giant guardians, the Hades Lords, stomped across the surface of the realm.

 

Sungel stared up with shock. “What are these...abominations?”

 

Mikhail narrowed his eyes with concern. “They are the trap, my friend.”

 

Raigel laughed. “They are the greatest of the Hades Beasts, forged by the power of the Dark One himself during the Eternal Conflict!”

 

The Hades Lords Dagon and Drake breathed streams of flame that washed across the landscape. The blast slammed against the Heavenly Saints and pushed them from the city.

 

Slowly, the Saints shot to their feet and into the skies. Gorgon snapped her hair tendrils, swatting the Saints from the air. And Cyclops opened fire with his sniper weapon, blasting the Saints with bursts of spark.

 

Mikhail ignited his sword with holy fire, shot through the air, and punctured through Dagon with massive bursts of spark and flame. Dagon growled with pain, turned, and swatted the Saint from the skies. Mikhail crashed and skid across the surface of Hades.

 

Queen Serenity led her fellow guardians through the city’s broken walls and approached the heart of the fortress. Alone, they faced an onslaught of Hades Beasts that scrambled from the depths of the surface.

 

“Moon Tiara Action!”

 

“Burning Mandala!”

 

“Supreme Thunder!”

 

“Aqua Mist!”

 

“Venus Chain!”

 

Their combined power rippled through the air and tore through Hades Beasts with bursts of energy. The remaining Beasts split up and fled through the city’s walls, to attack the Heavenly Saints outside.

 

Queen Serenity narrowed her eyes with concern. “Follow them,” she ordered her guardians. “I’ll stay here and seal the city.”

 

“But you’ll be trapped,” Sailor Mercury said.

 

The queen pulled the Silver Crystal from her robes. “Not trapped. Freed from this form. Like my prince...”

 

“Queen Serenity...” Sailor Mars started to plead.

 

“I have to do this,” the queen said. “I can’t stay in this form, not with my Prince Endymion gone. The pain is...torment. I know he is no longer bound to his body, corrupted by the Dark One. His spirit is free...mine will be too...”

 

“Queen,” Sailor Mercury said. “You can seal the walls from the outside. You don't have to remain-”

 

“I do,” Queen Serenity said as more Hades Beasts rushed towards the walls. “I will hold them off, so no more can escape. Then...I will seal this place forever. This city will fall. Go now, my friends, before that happens...”

 

One-by-one, the guardians hugged Queen Serenity and reluctantly left her alone.

 

Sailor Moon turned to face an Onslaught of Hades Beasts, and she heard the Hades Lords rampage around her. So far the Hades Lords remained within the walls. The Queen planned to ensure they stayed that way.

 

She held the Silver Crystal in her left hand and scepter in her right. She tightened her grip on both. “Moon Halation!”

 

She swung her wand with a wave of lunar light that splashed across the Hades Beasts with massive force, pushing them backward.

 

The Queen fired again, and again, while channeling her power into the Silver Crystal as well.

 

Queen Serenity thrust the crystal upward. “Silver Crystal! Lunar Starlight! Release!”

 

The crystal flashed with light that enveloped Queen Serenity. Her energy and the crystal's became one, merging into a shimmering force of silver and golden power. The energy shot towards the broken walls and solidified, forming a massive gate that started to swing shut.

 

“Queen Serenity!” Sailor Mercury shouted from outside the walls.

 

The gateway slammed shut with a burst of power, sealing the Great City of Hell, which sunk into the surface. 

 

***

 

The present, Root Core

 

Serena looked down at her hand and tightened her palm into a fist. “I gave up my life, and my power, to create that gateway and seal. But my spirit energy lingered, as did the power of the Silver Crystal.

 

“Formless, I watched the battle between the Heavenly Saints and corrupted Saints, the Archfiends, continue. I saw new gods emerge, formed from the essence of the fallen Creator. They took sides, some allying themselves with the Saints, and others with the Archfiends. Both sides sought to bring their own form of order, and control the affairs of mannkind and the other races, through what became called the Sin Wars. These gods became the gods of your myth and legend.

 

“Eventually, the gods tired of their open warfare, and they forged the Wheel of Time: the First Age of the first universe, space/time as you know it today. In doing so, they unintentionally banned themselves from entering the mortal realm. This made things...interesting. The gods continued their machinations, but they did so from their own realms.”

 

Chip arced an eyebrow. “How does a god accidentally ban himself from the universe?”

 

“They’re banned from direct contact only, and have been since the turning of the Wheel,” Sailor Moon said. “This was an unexpected after-effect of the same spell that sealed Hades in the dimension called Hell. However, the gods can still influence mortals and events.”

 

“How do you remember all this?” Nick asked, with the slightest bit of envy.  

 

“When the Wheel of Time first started to turn, it pulled me into its pattern, and wove me through reincarnations, along with my guardians. I have lived and died countless times. But...this is the first time I have ever remembered the truth about my past life...and the truth about the gateway...”

 

“What truth?” Xander asked.

 

“The former Ranger, Simon Kaden, jarred Denzoberranzan awake when he broke free from Hell...but the city remained sealed. As it will be, until...” she hesitated. “Until my death. My true death. And the destruction of the Silver Crystal. That's why I’ve been reincarnated since the Wheel of Time began — a part of the spell to keep the forces of the Great City of Hell contained.”

 

“Oh, great,” Xander said sarcastically. “I don't suppose these angels and saints of yours can help.”

 

“Not any more than they already have,” Serena said.

 

“They haven’t done much of anything,” Xander said.

 

“They’ve lent you their power,” Serena said.

 

“Whatever happened to Raigel?” Chip asked. “That Saint that betrayed you?”

 

“I do not know... ” Serena said. “He disappeared during the Sin Wars, as did many others...”

 

***

 

Koragg stood in a pit within Hades. He grasped his shield in front of his chest, lowered his head, and focused on the dark energy that ebbed through the dimension of Hell.

 

He used his magick to channel that darkness and strengthen his Life Force. His spiritual pressure increased with an intensity that shook the ground for as far as his eyes could see.

 

“Now…” he whispered, his voice like gravel. “Now…I am ready…”

 

***

 

Steam hissed from Morticon’s head. The villain stomped to his feet and faced Nai and Mare.

 

“To fail…” he growled, “…when so close to succeeding?! Which one of you will I feed to the Hades Beasts first?!”

 

Suddenly, Koragg dropped into the chamber with a burst of dark energy.

 

“Koragg!” Nai and Mare shouted as they scrambled behind the villain.

 

“Good timing,” Nai said.

 

“Timing,” Mare repeated.

 

Koragg stood tall with his shield in hand.

 

Morticon glared at the knight and stomped towards him. “You bastard! Where have you been, you worthless knight?!”

 

The villain lifted his sword to attack the knight. But the portal of N’Ma stirred, casting a crimson hue across the chamber.

 

Koragg and Morticon gathered around the portal and stood at attention.

 

Koragg lowered his head. “It is finally time…Time to end the battle against those Magicians of the Five Colors…Time to erase the Key to the Gate from this world.”

 

“And then the door will open…yes?” Morticon growled. “I can finally appear on the surface, and unleash my destruction?!”

 

“For N’Ma…” Koragg said. “And for the Dark One.”

 

***

 

Nick crossed his arms over his chest and looked at the Viewing Globe. The sphere twirled with images of shadow and darkness.

 

Oh no! Kuro shouted as he hopped onto the Viewing Globe. “Something's coming. Something dark!

 

“We’ll keep you safe...” Nick said to Serena. “It’s the least we can do.”

 

She smiled, revealing a bit of herself before her true memories returned. “Thank you, Nick...”

 

“Don’t-” Suddenly, pain stabbed through Nick’s mind. He staggered backward and grasped his head. “Koragg…”

 

Serena narrowed her eyes. “Telepathic magick…”

 

“What’s he saying?” Xander asked.

 

Koragg’s voice drilled into Nick’s thoughts: “Come, Magician of the Red. Pretender. And bring me the Key to the Gate!”

 

Serena gasped. “A magician in Hades? Raigel! It has to be him!”

 

She stormed from Root Core, and the rangers followed.

 

***

 

“Serena, wait!” Nick shouted as he and the others ran after her. “Where are you going?”

 

“To stop the traitor,” Serena said.

 

“But what if something happens to you?” Nick asked.

 

“Yeah,” Chip said. “A bad something. Like…death and stuff. The Hades Gate would open!”

 

“Gee, thanks for worrying,” Serena said, sounding like her teenage self.

 

“We’ll handle Koragg, Serena,” Nick said.

 

“Yeah right you will,” Serena said sarcastically, sounding more like the girl Nick met than an ancient Heavenly Saint. “Even all five of you can’t stop someone like…him.”

 

“But Serena...” Nick started to say.

 

Serena lifted her hand and whisked the rangers away with a pulse of lunar light.

 

“I’m sorry, Nick...” she whispered after they vanished. “This is something I have to do alone…”

 

***

 

The teens landed in a white void, bright and endless.

 

“What the…” Nick stammered as he climbed to his feet. “Where are we?”

 

Xander shook his head. “I don’t know...but that new girlfriend of yours is crazy, Nick.”

 

“She’s not my-” Nick sighed. Why did he even bother? “We need to figure out where she sent us…”

 

Madison closed her eyes and breathed deep. A witch, she reached out with her powers and sensed their surroundings.

 

“We’re in a corner of the astral plane,” she said.

 

“I don’t suppose the astral plane has an astral exit?” Xander asked.

 

“Somewhere…” Madison said. “Probably…”

 

Vida shook her head. “Why would she send us here?”

 

“To keep us safe,” Nick said. “She wants to go after Koragg alone.”

 

“Why would she do that,” Vida said. “If anything happens to her, the Gateway opens. End of story.”

 

Madison noticed Chip staring aimlessly into the distance.

 

“Chip...?” she asked. “You’re acting...quiet. What’s wrong?”

 

“Um. Well,” Chip said. “You know how we each have some strange supernatural past Udonna wiped from our minds?”

 

“Yeah...” Madison said.

 

“Well...” Chip said. “I think mine has something to do with this place.”

 

“Why do you say that?” Nick asked.

 

Chip lifted his hand with a burst of yellow light that washed across the astral plane.

 

***

 

Koragg stood in the mountains and waited. He stayed rigid, with his shield in hand, and didn’t flinch — not even when beams of moonlight stabbed around him with massive bursts of spark.

 

He looked ahead to see Sailor Moon walk towards him.

 

“The Key to the Gate…” Koragg whispered. “Alone?”

 

Sailor Moon narrowed her eyes. “Looks that way…Raigel.”

 

***

 

The yellow light faded, revealing a platform surrounded by white columns. Still on the astral plane, the rangers stepped onto the platform.

 

“OK...” Nick said. “Chip, what did you just do?”

 

Chip shook his head as he looked around. “I have no idea.”

 

They stepped closer to a wide pedestal that sat in the center of the platform.

 

Madison traced her fingers along its edges. “What is this place? It feels...peaceful...”

 

Suddenly, a black blur dashed across the platform and landed on the pedestal. The blur took shape to form a black cat, with a crescent shaped bald spot on her head.

 

Chip arced an eyebrow. “Kuro?”

 

No...I’m Luna!” the cat spirit said telepathically.

 

“Another talking cat?” Xander asked with disbelief.

 

The first! Luna said. “I belong to Serena. I’ve been trying to reach her, but I’ve been trapped here!

 

“Trapped?” Nick asked. “By who?”

 

Koragg...” Luna said.

 

***

 

Sailor Moon summoned her baton with a burst of light; she thrust the weapon forward. “Moon Halation!”

 

The baton fired a wave of light that blasted Koragg’s shield with massive bursts of spark. The impact forced him backward as his heels skid across the dirt.

 

The Heavenly Saint pressed her attack. She summoned her tiara with a burst of lunar light. The weapon shifted into a crescent-shaped blade of energy.

 

“Moon Tiara Action!” She thrust her hand, and the tiara shot forward.

 

The weapon smashed Koragg’s shield with a strong enough blow to knock him to his knees. Secondary explosions ripped through the ground around him with massive bursts of spark and smoke.

 

***

 

Luna told the rangers her story. Cat spirits existed since before the turning of the Wheel of Time. Queen Serenity kept one such spirit, Luna, as a familiar. Once space/time began, Luna and the other cat spirits retreated into the astral plane and made a home for themselves.

 

Through the eyes of earthly cats, Luna watched over Queen Serenity through each reincarnation. The spirit waited until the time she needed to help Queen Serenity awaken her memories and powers. But when that time came weeks ago, Koragg created a barrier that trapped Luna in the astral plane.

 

Chip nodded after hearing the story. “Yeah...I can feel it. Kind of.”

 

“You can what?” Vida asked.

 

“Feel the barrier,” Chip said as he waved his hand through the air. “This is freaky.”

 

“How is that possible?” Madison asked.

 

Two reasons...” Luna said. “First, Chip, you descended from a line of Heavenly Saints in human form! That’s why the astral plane seems so familiar to you. It’s a plane of existence as natural to Heavenly Saints as the earth or the sea.”

 

“Huh...” Chip said with disbelief. “You said first. Is there a second?”

 

There is...” Luna said softly. “Something has happened. At some point in the future, or maybe even outside of time, reality shattered. Some people are starting to feel those effects. You’re one of these people.

 

“What do you mean reality shattered?” Nick asked.

 

Something destroyed the universe,” Luna said. “The shattering will spread across time and space, barely noticeable at first: A stray memory that doesn’t belong, or slightly heightened sensitivity to the supernatural. Then it will all end and tear apart. If Chip and others are feeling the effects...it’s too late to stop it.”

 

***

 

Sailor Moon slashed upward, firing a blade of moonlight that cut through the ground like a giant fin. The blade smashed Koragg with massive bursts of flame that raged around him.

 

Slowly, Koragg climbed to his feet and snapped open his shield, absorbing the fire.

 

“Is that all you have?” Koragg mocked. “Is that the limit of the Saints’ power?”

 

The knight lifted his sword across his shield. “Touza Wol Zazard.

 

The shield snapped open and fired energy bolts shaped like the heads of wolves.

 

Sailor Moon lifted her palm with a burst of lunar energy that acted like a shield. The wolf blasts smashed the shield with massive bursts of violet energy. The shield shattered with a shockwave that hurled Sailor Moon off her feet.

 

Koragg stalked forward. “Show me your true power, Saint…” Koragg said. “Make this a challenge…”

 

“You…” Sailor Moon said as she climbed slowly to her feet. “You’re not Raigel…”

 

“Very good,” Koragg said as he stalked towards the Saint.

 

“What are you?” Sailor Moon asked.

 

“That is a story for another time…” Koragg said as he unsheathed his sword and aimed at the Heavenly Saint.

 

To be continued…Chapter 16

 

***

 

The Wheel of Time turned, beginning the First Age, which started with darkness. One evil tyrant ruled all, and one champion would challenge him, as would happen in the next age, and the age after that, and the age after that,

 

Akuma climbed slowly to his feet and rubbed his eyes. He remembered the Forsaken killing him. Turning his body into dust. He looked down at his hands. And with barely a thought, barely a whisper, he realized the truth of what happened. The truth of his existence. No longer the Dragon Knight known simply as Akuma, no longer the instrument of the Forsaken, the Dark Man laughed.