written by Patrick Drazen
using characters created by Naoko Takeuchi and others associated with
the manga and anime “Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon”
Chapter 7: “Meet Minako! Rescue on the Docks!”
They also talked to the new girl, Aino Minako. She also had recently moved with her family to Edo, from Hokkaido in the north. The family decided to move once they recognized Minako’s talents as a musician. “Anyway,” she said, drinking from a flask of water she carried, “they see the talent they want to see. They like the music; that’s acceptable for a girl. I’m playing for the bunraku only because their regular shamisen player hurt his hand carving a new puppet.”
“But what about the archery?” Usagi asked. “You’re better at that than anyone I’ve ever seen!”
Minako smiled, her eyes glowing. It’s as if she’d never heard compliments about her archery before, Usagi thought. This is a terrible world if it won’t take girls seriously.
“I know a few people on Hokkaido who wish they’d never heard of me,” Minako went on.
“What do you mean?” Shinnosuke asked.
“When I first met Shiro, there was a lot of trouble in our village with robber bands. He told me to call on Myoujou, the morning star. That made me twice the archer I was before then.”
“Did you help the authorities, then?”
“No, actually. Both sides tried to catch me. Neither the robbers nor the daimyo liked my archery any better than my parents did.”
“Did your parents know what you were doing?” Rei asked, surprised.
“They didn’t know then and don’t know now, or they don’t want to know. They want me to learn music. That sort of thing is easy for me, but I always felt like I was supposed to do something more with my life.”
“Well,” Makoto said, “now you know why. We were all destined to be senshi.”
“But why here? And why now?” Shinnosuke asked. “Mika, you’ve just told us a story of what happened a thousand years ago.”
“Because…” Minako’s eyes were wide with understanding. “Because it’s all happening again.”
Mika nodded gravely. “Queen Beryl has returned. Once again she aims to create her Dark Kingdom, although at this moment I don’t see how throwing Japan into chaos can help her.”
“Well,” sighed Rei, “we’ll just have to ask her, won’t we?”
Usagi looked amazed and frightened at once. “You can’t really do that, can you? Maybe it’s not a good idea.”
“Oh I’m not going to do it tonight, or even tomorrow. The truth
is, the idea scares me. But we need to find this out, and it may
be the only way we get any answers.”
When Usagi got home, just before dinnertime, she saw a piece of paper on the floor near her window. She read it through, then hurriedly reread it twice more:
Usako, I can’t stand it any longer. I want us to be together forever, starting tonight. Come to the warehouse at midnight. Do not tell your plans to anyone. from Mamoru
It wasn’t a dream! Mamo-chan had finally broken down and confessed his love! She knew she wouldn’t be able to wait until midnight. But she also knew that she had to. Tonight would be a full moon, but it would also be hot and sweaty down at the docks, and that always makes some of the laborers act a little crazy. She couldn’t risk loitering about the docks just waiting for him.
She folded the note and put it inside her kimono. Mika doesn’t have to know about this, she thought.
All through dinner she said nothing but beamed happiness and sunshine. She gave her family no arguments, even when mother upbraided her for missing yet another day of lessons. She’s too happy, her mother thought. I wonder if a boy—No, it’s too soon.
Usagi watched the moon as it slowly crawled through the night sky. At last, with the house quiet and midnight approaching, she slipped out of her futon and changed into a light yukata. Only this time, she didn’t wear anything underneath. She felt unbelievably daring as she sneaked out of the house, then ran down the road to the docks. This way, if Mamo-chan wants me right away, we won’t have a chance to change our minds. I wish we had a pillow-book to show us all about how to do it, but we have the rest of our lives for that.
When she arrived at the warehouse, the docks were completely deserted. She could hear nothing except the waves lapping against the piers. She stuck her head in the door.
She took two steps into the warehouse. Without warning, she was grabbed from behind. A rag was stuffed into her mouth, then tied into place.
“There,” a familiar voice hissed. “We’ll have none of that moon nonsense tonight.”
Usagi tried to get away, but a pair of large, rough hands grabbed her wrists and bound them, then threw her into a corner of the shed. The figure sat on the floor in front of Usagi.
“You’re a pretty little thing, as humans go,” he hissed, “but Queen Beryl will stand for no more interference. Yes, I sent you that note. I’m here to stop you once and for all. Of course, that doesn’t mean I have to eliminate you right away.” The figure moved into the moonlight. He wore no ninja mask, and Usagi could see his face. Her heart cracked in her chest; it was Morobiki, Kuruda’s secretary! So he’d been spying for Beryl all along?
In the moonlight he could see the curves of her breasts. He reached his hand out and pawed at one breast through the yukata. Usagi wanted to die of embarrassment on the spot, especially when his hand moved down to undo her sash. In another second, she would be naked and exposed to his rude eyes.
There was a sudden jerk, and the rude eyes clouded over. Morobiki turned his head, trying in vain to look at the arrow that pierced him through the neck. An arrow that glowed golden as the sun. The eyes rolled back, and he fell over dead.
“You were lucky this time, Usagi-chan.”
Usagi looked at the window. Minako sat on the sill, bow in hand, the large straw hat pushed back on her head. She slipped into the room and undid the gag, then started to untie Usagi’s wrists.
The first words out of her mouth were, “Minako-chan, we have to go!”
Usagi gestured toward Morobiki. “He’s important, even if he does work for demons. If a policeman sees you with that bow, he’s not going to care about the Moon Princess or Queen Beryl or any of it.”
“Good point. Let’s go!” Minako grabbed Usagi’s hand, and practically dragged her at top speed through the mostly deserted docks. Usagi didn’t dare say a word, but after a while she felt as if her lungs would explode. Finally, Minako slowed down, and they both fell panting against a wall.
“How…how did you know?” Usagi gasped.
“I didn’t. I usually roam around at night. It’s an old habit from my days in Hokkaido, and they say old habits have nine lives.”
“I think you mean old habits die hard.”
“Anyway, Shiro thought he saw you, so I followed you.”
“I’ll bet he’s mad at me,” Usagi muttered. “Mika would be too.”
“They have a right to be angry. They’ve lived and died and been reborn a hundred times to protect the Moon Princess.”
“And what about you?”
Minako looked at Usagi and smiled. “How can I be mad? This is what I was born to do: protect the Moon Princess, even if it means saving her from herself.” They walked toward Usagi’s house. “Just be more careful. They know they can get to you through Mamoru-san. They’ll probably try again.”
“You think so?”
“Yes.” Minako’s voice got suddenly quiet. “That’s what they did to me back in Hokkaido.”
“Really! You had a boyfriend there? What was he like?”
“I’m sorry, but I can’t talk about it now. Maybe another time.” Whatever happened, it was enough to shake Minako’s spirits. Her usually good humor was totally gone as she remembered her past. In a minute, though, she brightened up again. “Anyway, you’re home now. I’ll see you in the morning.” Minako ran down the road and disappeared around a corner.
Usagi snuck over the back wall and into her room, where Mika was waiting on the futon.
“Don’t say it,” Usagi sighed, slipping under the covers.