By Dr. Xadium
PART 4: "I HATE YOU, SOUICHI! THE OTHER WOMAN IN PROFESSOR TOMOE'S LIFE RETURNS!"
NOVEMBER 24TH, 2011
Thanksgiving this year was an odd affair. Unlike the boisterous thankgsivings of years past, there was no party, no large gathering to share the events of the last year, no giving thanks to one another. Everyone was worn out, tired, and just giving thanks that the one-ton elephant (not) in the room, Tsukino Usagi, was somewhere *else* and not making their lives a living hell.
As the TV droned on unwatched, broadcasting Aino Minako's "Don Don BIG THANKSU!!!" game show, where the contestants dressed in giant turkey suits and tried to cram themselves into "ovens" which opened out into chambers either filled with fabulous prizes or horrific slimings, the few guests at the Thanksgiving dinner sat quietly, just decompressing after the lst few stressful weeks.
It was a surreal sight, seeing Haruka stroking a full, scraggly beard, and Hotaru craning forward to reach appetizers on the table from her high chair.
Professor Tomoe sat at one end of the table, Mimete next to him, snuggling close. She still carried a tan from Costa Rica, and bruises from her battle with Zonway Toshiko / MOSAIC. Mizuno Ami was at the foot of the table, sucking cranberry juice through a curly straw.
Everyone else had bowed out of the gathering. Rei and Makoto had been exceedingly hard to get a hold of, and no one knew why. Michiru had checked with her mirror, but had seen no danger around them. It just seemed, that for whatever reason, they had just decided to lay low. Jedite and Sakura April were enjoying "Quality Time" with one another, and rei.bot was off meditating, something she seemed to do more often these days.
Hotaru, for her part, missed Chibiusa, who had said something cryptic about heading for Gotham City to do something with an ex-boyfriend before donning her nun's habit and wandering off to get a cab.
"Here you all are, dears," Michiru said flatly, walking into the dining room, carrying a large covered dish. Everyone winced, knowing that underneath was ostensibly the "Turkey" for this year.
"Thanks, Michi!" Haruka chirped, his eyes suddenly going blank. "Sven is hungry."
"Enjoy," Michiru said flatly, slamming the dish onto the table and lifting off the lid. Underneath was... a generic pasty-white rectangle of a thing.
"...Tofu?" Hotaru asked incredulously, poking at the raw, uncooked slab with her fork.
"It's good for the environment," Michiru said slowly, adjusting her black, thick-rimmed hipster glasses.
"SVEN DOES NOT APPROVE!" Haruka said in a low, demonic voice, flapping the beard like it was talking.
"SVEN can kiss my perfect posterior," Michiru replied elegantly. "Back in my day, Thanksgiving was all about being with friends and family and sharing the good times, not obsessing over food items like a pack of rabid wolves at a kill." She nodded and crossed her arms in front of her chest.
"SVEN IS ENRAGED!" Haruka proclaimed, standing up and Sparta-kicking the table aside. He then hopped, nursing his cracked toes and made his way to the livingroom to convalesce.
"My dinner!" Michiru yelled, following him angrily.
"Maybe we should order in?" Mimete asked Tomoe, who was cackling in amusement at the turn of events.
"Derp," Ami drooled, sipping her cranberry juice.
"What is with that beard?" Hotaru mused, even as she pondered what Michiru had said. The arrival of Usagi had seemingly put an end to "the day" Michiru was referring to. Everything had changed so rapidly. Ironically, Michiru-momma-as-hipster was still more personality than she'd had ever, so some things seemed to have gone for the better, but she could not help but think that a darker day was still to come.
Still, as she looked over at Mimete snuggling her father, she smiled a little. Life was moving on, even if a bit slowly, and even in the face of this newest threat.
The sound of that still did not sit right with Hotaru, and she bet it didn't sit right with anyone else, either. This was no evil to be crushed or beaten. This was their friend, making some frankly ridiculous and ill-advised choices. There was something wrong in the head of Usagi Tsukino, and that had to be sorted out. That was the unspoken reason why no one was going after her. Sakura Aino had speculated it was a fear of the Ginzuishou, but she was only part-right. A godmoding crystal was not *that* far beyond the ken of those in the Ten'Aino house... but a godmoding crystal being wielded by one who had been not only leader but friend in the past... that was. And it was a shock that was not easily overcome.
There was a clatter of silverware on the floor. Hotaru almost missed it, so engrossed was she in her thoughts. But dimly, she looked to her left, at Mimete's position. The blonde had dropped her fork, and was looking agape at something behind Hotaru.
Hotaru turned to follow her gaze, and saw a strange woman at the door. Tall, thin, elegantly dressed, with a strangely familar face.
She looked back at her father, whose face had gone from it's usual happy insane crimson grin, to a strange, sad look of confusion.
Hotaru looked back at the woman. She blinked twice, seeing the face floating in her earliest of memories... mixed in with a face she had grown to hate in its perverse parodic form...
A lump formed in her throat.
"M---" she forced out. "M...mother?"
The woman smiled angelically, no hint of malice or evil about her.
Hotaru jerked her head back to angrily lock gazes with her father. "WHAT DID YOU DO!" she yelled, standing and shaking like a leaf. "YOU PROMISED
But her father's shocked expression told her all she needed to know-- this wasn't his doing, either.
...Usagi?! She looked back at her mother. No, Usagi wouldn't know enough about her past... and what motive?
Hotaru kept cycling through possibilities in her mind as she looked at the woman before her, who was ostensibly her mother, Tomoe Keiko.
"Hotaru-chan," her mother began slowly, in that quiet, demure, soft voice Hotaru dimly remembered. "Don't be mad at your father... his computers carried on the work he had started so long ago... and they finally got the formula right." She smiled gently.
Hotaru's eyes misted up in tears, all theories just blotting away in her mind. This... this was beyond anything she could have imagined...
"Tomoe-sama," Mimete began slowly, recovering from her own shock, remembering the face she'd seen in a photo frame on his desk so many times at Mugen, "is this... your..." she clung to his arm tightly.
"Mama..." Hotaru squeaked, daring to reach out... to touch she who had been gone for so long...
But Keiko's eyes had locked onto Mimete. The blonde, so clingy, in her all-too revealing lab-coat, pressed to the arm of Souichi. The blonde who was occupying her place. HER PLACE by HER HUSBAND.
Brusquely, Keiko shoved Hotaru aside with one arm, eyes glowing intermittently red, hair beginning to float upwards, also flashing red. "GET AWAY FROM HIM!" Keiko roared, her body subtly shifting to a more ash-grey skintone, becoming more like the women Tomoe had cloned previously trying to recreate her... becoming more like...
"No... not KAOLINITE!" Hotaru screamed, her dream of seeing her mother revived shattering before her as the transformation completed. "NOT AGAIN!"
"Damn!" Mimete leapt off of her chair, summoning Charm Buster and swinging the staff in front of her defensively even as Professor Tomoe slouched to the side, all his will to even move just lost.
"GET AWAY FROM HIM!" Keiko / Kaolinite VII yelled in desperate agony, outstretching her hand and sending forth a massive blast of power that knocked Mimete clear off her feet and smashing her to the ground, unconcious. The Charm Buster shimmered and vanished.
"Derrrp," Ami drooled. "Herrrpa Deeeerp Make-up!" Leaping up and gracefully transforming, she became Sailor Mercury, and then leapt straight into a wall, knocking herself out in a pool of drool.
Hotaru forced herself to focus. Her father was not moving, probably feeling the same shock she was... no, probably more so. After all, here was the woman he had loved so strongly he'd tried to get her back from the grave for almost two decades. And just as he'd let go, and finally allowed himself to find someone else... she'd shown up again.
Kaolinite VII stalked over to Tomoe and grabbed him by the lapels of his jacket, lifting the huge man clear off his feet. "UNFORGIVABLE!" she boomed.
"Dammit," Hotaru growled. Where the hell were Haruka-momma and Michiru-momma? A rhythmic thumping coming from upstairs and the falling of ceiling plaster gave her her unwanted answer.
It was all down to her. Mother or not, Kaolinite or not... her father was in danger, and she had no choice. Hoping that Usagi's meddling hadn't interfered with her power, Hotaru clenched her fist, gritted her teeth and willed to power, silently, mentally praying--.
"Saturn Power... MAKE UP!"
TO BE CONTINUED
Next time on Suburban Senshi: Endgame! Episode 5- Hotaru takes a stand against her past and fights for her future! Can she survive?!
"Mother vs Daughter! Hotaru's desperate choice!"