Her mother and her stepfather were already talking to the visitors--it was Dr. Goodman and all three of her sisters, and some others--their children, and perhaps a grandchild or two. And a funny-looking little man . . . a very little man, a midget. Nancy didn't know quite what to say first or whom to speak with. The little man looked back at her, and she was sure he must be picturing her naked . . .
Dr. Goodman smacked the little man on the top of his head, and said, "This is my grandfather, Dr. Alvarson, Nancy."
The little man held up a hand, and Nancy shook it. "I am pleased to meet you at last. My family has told me about you. More than you think."
"Really?" <Another mind reader?> Nancy shrugged.
"I'm sorry to rush in on you you, but we really have to be on time for our little surprise for U--for Sue. Would you go fetch her?"
The little man did not speak loudly, but his words had great weight for Nancy, almost like--<almost like Usagi when she orders someone to do something. And he nearly called her Usagi just now . . . > "All right, I'll get her." Nancy started up the stairs, and heard Dr. Goodman call out,"Be sure to bring your coats, dear. It's chilly out."
They all went wherever they were going in a decidedly mundane conveyance, a big, clunky, beat-up van that Dr. Goodman drove. "It's a rental. Best I could could come up with on short notice."
Usagi smiled faintly, and squeezed Nancy's hand.
Nancy asked, "What's this all about?"
The little man answered. "It is time for Sailor Moon to return to her own world. I can open a gate for her tonight. But we must hurry. It can only be done in one place, and in a small window in time. Only for a few moments in the time of the New Moon."
"Oh . . . I'm glad for you, Usagi."
"Thank you. I will miss you . . ." Usagi turned to the little man. "Will I ever be able to return here?"
"Perhaps, but not for some time . . . I have made no divination, but I feel that you will return someday." He pulled cards from a pocket, and handed one to Nancy, and one to Usagi. "You can send mail, if you like. It will take a while to get through, but if you post it to our local branch office, it will get through."
Nancy looked at the card the old man had given her. It read:
THE GREY COMPANY
And it gave an address in Maryland. Nancy glanced at Usagi's card and saw that its address was printed in Japanese.
Where they were going turned out to be a Caltrain station. They piled out of the van, went into the station, and walked very far back on the platform--and took the steps down from it. They had to undo a chain to do that. A man and a woman in uniforms, station guards, started coming toward them, but then the little man made a slight gesture. The guards stopped, looked for a few moments, and then turned around and began walking away, talking to each other.
"Did you make us invisible?" Nancy asked him.
"No, I just suggested that they didn't want to notice us. They really don't; it would mean a lot of paperwork, and their shifts are almost over."
They walked to a Caltrain passenger car parked on a siding. It was locked up with more chains and covered with official-looking stuff. The little man made another slight gesture, and all of that faded away. When she climbed aboard the car, all she could see through the windows was gray fog, and it seemed to be day--though through the door she had just come through, she could see the station, lit up the last trains of the night. Dr. Goodman closed the door behind her, the last aboard. The noises from outside were gone--completely.
"We could use your help, dear, said Dr. Goodman as she came up to "This is a difficult spell."
"I can't do magic. Not your kind."
"You don't know the art yet, but you can certainly help us."
The little man said, "You are a virgin. That could help. Hard to find these days." He gave Nancy an infinitely lecherous look while she stripped down to her skivvies for her transformation (to save her other clothes), and yet somehow conveyed that he would never harm her. Then he took one of her hands, and Dr. Goodman took the other. They formed a circle around Sailor Moon, who had taken on her nude angel form. The little old man and the four sisters chanted in a strange language. Nancy followed along, simply singing "Dah-dah-dah" to the same melody. Then Sailor Moon was no longer there . . .
A man in uniform was speaking to Usagi. A policeman.
"This is the University Station."
"Oh . . . I'm sorry, I must have fallen asleep." Usagi remembered. He was commuting himself, and had sat down next to her since she got on the train in San Francisco. "Thank you."
"I thought you'd never wake up. Hurry up. I think the train is about to leave."
"Thank you, thank you." Usagi rushed to the exit. The train started moving away only moments after she stepped down onto the platform.
Usagi watched the train move away until it was a tiny speck. <What a dream,> she thought. <So awful--and yet wonderful.> Jimmy; Nancy; the lady in gray; seeing Chibi-Usa again, almost a young woman . . . she shuddered at the terrible fate of Chibi-Usa. But it was only a dream . . . "Only a dream."
It was a guard, one of a pair, a man and a woman. They had come up to her while she was remembering the dream, and heard her talk to herself.
"Oh, nothing. It is silly. I fell asleep on the train, and I had a dream. A very strange dream . . . very strange." She felt queezy. "Excuse, can I use bathroom? I think I am a little sick."
They took her to the restroom, unlocked it for her, and the woman guard went in with her. Usagi threw up. Then the guards took her to a drinking fountain. She drank some water, and began to feel better. The guards were concerned. She decided to call Mamoru, to see if he could pick her up. He was very surprised to hear that she was at the train station, but he said he would come.
Waiting for Mamoru, Usagi explained to the guards who Mamoru was. When the man guard moved off to check on something else, Usagi told the woman guard about her trouble at school. "I worked hard, but I just did not learn fast enough. Especially English."
"Really? You're English sounds pretty good to me."
"Well, I have--"
"I have been practicing . . ." Usagi opened her schoolbag. There it was, the notice she hadn't wanted to show her parents--and something else. A little card, taped to the notice. She pulled it off. It read:
THE GREY COMPANY
The rest was in Japanese, and gave an address in Hokkaido.
Usagi began to cry. It had not been a dream. Chibi-Usa was really gone . . .
The other guard came back. Usagi knew they might call the regular police any minute, but she could not do much more than cry until Mamo-chan came. He shooed the guards away and took her to his old car, even older than Jimmy-chan's had been, and drove her back to his tiny apartment, a place in Ravenswood, a poor, tough town north of the train tracks, but close to Stanford.
Mamo-chan had many questions, but the only answer Usagi gave him that night was not in words. They made love, again, and again, until Usagi slept so soundly that Mamoru could not rouse her.
Nancy was standing on the Caltrain platform amid the four Goodman sisters, back in normal form, dressed as she had been before. The little man was not there. She looked down the platform at the siding where she had gotten onto the lone Caltrain car, but the siding was empty. Nancy looked around at the sisters, who were all looking at her and smiling, a little sadly. Then Dr. Goodman said, "She's where she belongs now, Nancy. Come. Let's go back to your home."
Usagi woke up, finally, when the sun shown onto her face. She sat up, taking in the tiny, worn-out place that Mamo-chan had made his home for now.
Mamoru was gone.
Usagi got up, pulling a sheet around her even though she was alone, and walked to the table. There was a note. It read: "I must go now. I will return after 3:00 and take you back home. I have already called your family, but you should call them, too. Love, Mamoru."
Usagi showered, and put on the uniform she had worn, thinking it would probably be the last time she wore this or any other school uniform. She found a pen, and on the back of the note Mamoru had written, wrote her own note. Then she put it down on the table, took off her ring, and put it on the top of the note. She left the place quietly, checking to be sure the door locked.
Usagi decided to walk to the Caltrain station, figuring she would not have enough money to get home if she took a bus. Along the way, a boy tried to sell her drugs. She just said "no." A little while later, a man pulled up in a car, showed her a gun, and told her to get in. She turned him into dust. No one seemed to notice. Usagi noticed a bag of fast food on the seat and took it. She didn't think of taking the car, but someone else soon did.To Be Continued in Book 2: Under Black Wings
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