|A Year and Change|
Her mother came home just a few minutes later, but it took her an hour to get enough senshi together to teleport to Boston.
Chibi Moon did have a good idea of what the car looked like, but unfortunately it was a commonplace car--by the time the other senshi started arriving, she had stopped five, and created gridlock through much of the Boston Metropolitan Area.
Sailor Venus was much the general when she arrived. She made a hard choice. She sent the fastest chibi sailors out to search the three main routes out of town: Pleione and Deja to the north, Zoe and Zara to the south, and Kimi Moon to the east, with Hotaru--Not as fast as Kimi, but faster than Venus, Mars, and of course Jupiter. She kept Chibi Moon with her central group, despite her great speed and firepower, because she needed to know where Chibi Moon had searched. Her final orders to the six she sent out were, "Don't fight if you can avoid it. Call for help if you have any trouble."
Kayama Mika was feeling horribly scared by that time, but she was beyond even Chibi Venus' range. She was not even in the same car.
The man who had taken her was smart. He'd stolen the car he'd used to stalk, and left it in to a parking garage only a few blocks from MIT. He might have stopped to enjoy his catch earlier, but the sight of an angel shooting violet bolts made him decide to move to a safer place, further away.
He would have turned off the interstate in one more exit if he hadn't been caught in traffic. A jacknifed big rig. And then he might have been all right, if he hadn't spotted a Massachusetts State Cop ahead that he thought he recognized--one that had stopped him earlier in the day.
But all was not lost. He was just past an off-ramp--there was enough room on the shoulder to back up and get off. The girl was beginning to bang around in the lockbox . . . He backed up in one smooth move, and was on the exit ramp. Other people got the same idea, so the cops wouldn't know who to chase.
This good luck was balanced out by the fact that Kimi Moon noticed the unusual motion from ten miles away. She zeroed in, and saw a woman locked away. She flew ahead of Saturn, not wanting to lose sight of the pickup for a second.
The man who had taken Mika did not drive that far after he got off the interstate. He found an orchard. A quick snip with bolt cutters, and he was through the gate, with less than a minute of delay. Another two minutes, and he was parked amid the deserted orchard.
He was getting too excited; trying to jump up in the bed, he fell, hurting his knees and dropping the keys. He had to fumble around in the dark, but fortunately, they had fallen inside the truck bed. The girl was screaming and banging the box frantically now. He banged on the top, and kicked the sides. It wouldn't make any difference. Then he found the lock, and was about to put in the right key when he heard the sound of wings. He was buffeted, and dropped the keys again. He batted at whatever it was. It screamed--like a little girl. Suddenly he was dazzled by a bright light in his face.
He pulled out his knife and slashed. There was another scream, of pain--he'd struck something. The light was gone, but the flash had ruined his night vision. He heard the wings again, and he lunged toward the sound--and fell over the side of the bed. That hurt, but he still had the knife--a "trench knife" with brass knuckles built into the grip guard, so it was all but impossible to lose in a fight. And he was in a fight. He slashed the knife around in the air above him before he got up.
He heard keys jingling. He could see just enough to make out the side of the truck now. He stabbed over it, and was rewarded with another scream, and the feeling of a more solid strike. But he was overbalanced, and fell; whatever it was escaped again. But there was another flash of light, not directly in his face. He was able to make out a winged form--he was fighting some kind of angel girl, like in the stories.
He had noticed she had been trying to free the girl in the lockbox. He pulled himself up over the side back into the bed, stood up, and yelled, "Come and get her, if you can!" He was excited and angry--and the angel girl was not very big; he'd seen that much, and heard her voice.
The angel girl shined the light in his eyes again, but he reached up and grabbed her, pulled her out of the air. He stabbed and slashed as he struggled with her, finally pinning the angel girl under his knees. He changed the grip on his knife, so that he could stab down, and then raised his knife high to finish off the little pest--and a cold chill bit his upraised arm. Then he felt warm drops falling on his face. He brought the arm down, but didn't feel the knife biting. In fact, against the light coming from the angel girl's head, he didn't see the knife--or his hand.
He didn't have time to really come to terms with this, because his head came off next, under the second sweep of Saturn's glaive. She sliced the lock off the lockbox, and then dropped the glaive to tend to Kimi.
Mika kicked open the lid. She was still bound up, though she had managed to work loose of the tape over her mouth.
"Help me!" Mika screamed again.
"Stay still, you are safe now!" shouted a half-familiar voice. "You too, stay still, while I try to fix you."
"Who are you? Help me!"
"Mika, I can't help you yet!"
Mika recognized the voice. "Hotaru? What are you doing here?"
"Please, just be still!"
"Am I going to die?" asked a tiny voice. "I can't see with my eye."
"No, but you are hurt badly . . . I must call the others . . . Sailor Venus! Come, all of you! We have found Mika, but Kimi Moon is hurt. I cannot heal her completely."
Mika kept asking what was happening in the next minutes, until finally someone helped her up. They didn't take the tape off her eyes, though--the person lifted her out of the box and carried her a little ways until she felt bodies all around her. Then she suddenly felt much warmer, and the air had a different smell.
Two women's voices keened, and one said, "Kimi-chan! Oh no!"
Kimi-chan. Shingo's niece.
There were many voices all together after that. Finally, when all the other voices were gone, someone said, "Sit still," and pulled the tape off her eyes. Then she realized it was Hotaru, Shingo's wife. Only it was not just Hotaru--it was Sailor Saturn. Saturn picked up her glaive, brought up the blade, and moved it toward Mika.
"Hold still, I am not going to hurt you. I am cutting the tape . . . there. Now your legs . . . You are free." She withdrew the glaive, stood up, and transformed, becoming the delicate girl who had stolen Shingo away from Mika. "Follow me."
"Where are we?"
"At my home," answered Hotaru. "I am going up to check on Rhea, and help with the other children."
"What happened? What happened to Kimi?"
"Kimi-chan is a senshi, but she is not a very good fighter yet. She fought the man who put you in the box, and he hurt her quite badly. I have some ability to heal, but it was not enough to fix everything the man did to her."
"What happened to that man?"
"I killed him," Hotaru said, as they got into an elevator.
Mika broke down crying, and embraced Hotaru. "I am sorry! You have saved me, and I . . ."
"Shingo told me."
"Told you? . . . How much did he tell you?"
"Everything important," said Shingo's wife.
That brought on a fresh stream of tears. "I owe you my life! And Kimi--will she be all right?"
Hotaru said, "I do not know. I am not a doctor. Maybe I will become one someday, when my daughter is a little older."
"Oh . . . This is all because of me!" Mika exclaimed.
Hotaru said calmly, "The man would have found another victim. We would not have known in time to save her."
"No, I mean Kimi . . . I am so sorry . . . "
The elevator doors opened, and a tiny woman handed Hotaru a crying baby. Mika watched Hotaru comfort her child, and tried to avoid the hostile looks of the small woman. <She knows . . . >
It was only then that Mika finally realized that "home" for Shingo's wife meant California. She recognized the place she was now in from some of Shingo's photographs.
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