Part 4

the sailor syndrome





Gemma Constantine Masters slept uneasily, with odd dreams
haunting her once more.

She found herself floating amongst the stars in the empty
void of space.  In the distance she saw the sun, appearing
far smaller than she was accustomed to.  Around that spun
the planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars.  

Behind her, the gigantic Jupiter hovered, while all around
her floated the thousands of spinning asteroids that formed
the asteroid belt.

And then she heard it.

At first, they were whispers, barely audible in the void.

And then they grew louder.

And louder.

And then the screams of a million souls pierced her soul.


- - -


"Look, Dr. Tybalt, we really do need the funding for the
trip to Tokyo!  It's vital for our research, really!  Hello?
Hello?  Oh, bugger.  Gaffo won't like this, no..."

A pale, thin young man in a black trenchcoat frowned and
hung up the phone.  "Okay, no trip to Japan.  Damn."

Another pale, skinny lad burst from a dark corridor nearby
into the dimly lit study room.  "Guys! Guys! You won't
believe this!" 

"For frig's sake, Wonker, keep the volume down!"

"Mikey!  Mate, y'won't believe it!  There's a-"

*WHAP*

Mikey put away his mallet and sighed.  "Take deep breaths,
Wonker.  Deep breaths.  Now what?" 

Wonker pointed with quivering hand towards the darkened
corridor, where, a moment later, two figures appeared.  One
was a rather nondescript middle-aged man.  The second
figure, on the other hand.... 

Mikey's jaw dropped.  "Holy shite!  One'a THEM!  Here!  In
this building!"

"Keep on staring at me like that, arsehole, just keep on
staring," grumbled the woman with a tone of extreme menace. 

"Oh, er, um, sorry!" blurted Mikey, clearly nervous.  "Won't
you, er, have a seat, um, yes?"

"And give you bloody perverts a chance to look up my skirt?
I don't think so."  She took a moment to blow cigarette
smoke in his face.  "Just tell the Prof I'm in, eh?"

Mikey frowned.  "The Prof?  He's out, sorry."

The woman glared at Wonker, the sort of glare a woman gives
a man that promises further violence should any further
silly buggery be attempted.  

"Thought you said he was in!" she snarled.

Wonker cringed.  "Thought'e was!  I swear!"

"The Prof's out, but his assistant is in," offered Mikey
helpfully.

"His assistant?" asked the woman.  "Not Gaffo."

"Yeah, Gaffo."

The woman scowled.  "Great, the freakin' pervert.  He'll
have to do.  Lead the way, Wonker."

"Righto!  Hope you don't mind me askin', miss, but what's
yer name?  Er, codename?  Whatever you call yourself?" asked
Wonker nervously.

"Constantine.  John Constantine."

Wonker paused for a moment.  "John Constantine?  That's not
a girl's name," he muttered.  "Not girlish atall, no..."

Realization seemed to dawn on him at last.  Wonker's eyes
bulged, staring at John in a way that was, fortunately, not
lustful, but instead one of tremendous shock.  John, on the
other hand, did not look amused.

"NO FRIGGIN WAY!  YOU'RE-"

*WHAP*

"Stop gawking and start walking, arsehole," growled John.

"Owww... sorry, righto."

"See, Chas?" said John to her companion.  "Told you they was
worse." 


- - -


John was right, thought Chas.  Being with a building full of
solemn, mysterious, chanting monks would've been better.
With the monks, he might've felt a little out of place, and
at the very worst, a little scared.  With this sorry lot he
felt extremely embarrassed, and more than a little annoyed.

Unbeknown to Chas, John was feeling exactly the same way.

"C-Constantine?!  That's YOU?!"

At the moment, the two were in a private office, cluttered
with books and yet again dimly lit.  Seated behind a messy
desk was yet another scrawny pale figure.  They all seemed
to look alike to Chas. 

"Yes, Gaffo.  Me John.  John Constantine.  Okay?  Cigarette. 
Trenchcoat.  Treats you like shit.  Who else do you know
that's like this?"

"It is you," said Gaffo in awe.  "Bloody hell, John, but
you're sexy!  ACK!" 

"Say that again and I hit you so hard your bloody
ancestors'll be spinning in their graves!  GOT IT?!" 

"ACK... yes... righto... can't.... breathe..."

"Right then."  John released Gaffo's throat and leaned back
in her chair, closing her trenchcoat around her.  "Now, I
know you nerdy sods are big on this sort of thing, so I need
some answers from you lads."

"Um, anything we can do to help, John."

"I need to know who's who, what's what, and why the HELL I'M
LIKE THIS!"  She took a moment to calm down, take a deep
breath, then continued.  "In other words, lemme see your
files and tell me what you know."

"Oh, right then, this way."  Gaffo lead them through more
hallways, the lights on this time much to John's relief,
until they arrived upon a small wooden doorway with a lock
on it.  Gaffo pulled out a silver key and unlocked the door,
and motioned for them to enter.

What greeted John and Chas within was... disturbing.  Not
horrific, not terribly shocking, but still, disturbing.

Everywhere, from wall to wall, pictures of various teen-aged
girls in short skirts and sailor uniform-esque tops were 
plastered.  Quite a few of them managed to catch a little 
'peek' at the fabric underneath their dresses.

"Jeez," muttered Chas.

"Perverts," marveled John as he stared at the walls.
"Bloody pedophiles, you sick bloody bastards."

"I-it's not what it seems, really!" insisted Gaffo.  "These
girls, all these girls, are part of what seems to be some
sort of cabal.  Why they're all so young, we don't know, but
they are all definitely associated with each other."

"Uh huh," replied John, looking quite skeptical.

"Look here," said Gaffo, opening a file cabinet.  "They
started up a few years ago with this one particular girl
known as Sailor V.  Have a look, eh?"

John opened the file, and then raised an eyebrow in surprise.

"Oi, John, innit the girl that kicked your arse?" asked
Chas.

"Shattup, Chuckles."

"You met Sailor Venus?" asked Gaffo.

"Yeah, ran into her 'bout an hour ago," said John.
"Ridiculous little girl."

"Sailor Venus is BACK in London?!  Oh, bugger.  We've got
to send out our people, maybe even get an interview... oh
my..."

"Oi!  Gaffo!  Snap out of it!"

"Oh, sorry.  Right then, what you've got there is the very
first of the 'Sailor Scouts' that appeared in public.  She
went by the name of Sailor V for a while, then changed it to
Venus a bit later." 

"I saw another girl with 'er," said John.  "Looked a bit
older, long green hair, matron-like." 

Gaffo gasped.  "Sailor Pluto's here too?!  Holy mother'a
God... she's the most elusive one of'em all!  Hold on a
moment, John, I really gotta call the lads."  

Gaffo went to a nearby phone and began talking excitedly
while John looked through the various photographs.

"Hallo?  Roddy?  S'me, Gaffo.  Yes, I know what time it is. 
This is important!  ...  I'll forget you said that." 

All in all, there seemed to be fifteen people photographed. 
Twelve were teen-aged girls, two were just children, and one
person wasn a boy, probably of college age, in a tuxedo,
top hat, mask and cloak.

The girl with long green hair once again caught John's eye,
and she felt hatred bubble in the back of her mind. 

"Sailor Pluto, eh?" mused John.

"Listen up, you stupid arsehole, SAILOR PLUTO IS IN LONDON! 
Yes, you heard me right!  She's here!  And she's with Sailor
Venus!  Get your arse out of bed and get the cameras
rolling, 'ey?  No, Davey's not available, he's over in Norway
looking into the cult of the Norns.  Whaddayamean yer car's
broke?!  Get Birdy t'give ya a lift!  JUST DO IT!" 

"What is it," John asked the image of Sailor Pluto.  "Just
what is it about you that I don't like?" 

"Sorry about that, John," said Gaffo, hanging up the phone. 
"It's just that it's terribly rare for us to have the
opportunity to see them LIVE and IN PERSON, you know?  We
managed to get the university to fund a research trip to
Tokyo last year.  However, after seeing the bill we'd run up
for sake, sushi, okonomiyaki, and the visits to the hot
springs, the university got far more stingy."

"Heh, I'll bet."

"Anyway, as you can see, there's quite a few of them.  The
one thing they all have in common... well... except in the
case of the Tuxedo fellow... is that they're all associated
with solar entities.  One Sailor for each Planet, y'see,
except Earth.  And then there's the three Sailor Starlights,
who don't really seem associated with any known astronomical
bodies.  Odd, those." 

"Who's the three Starlights?  The dominatrix trio in black
here?" asked John, pointing to three not-very-clad girls,
each wearing black hip boots, short shorts, and fairly
revealing tops.

"Yes, those are them," said Gaffo.

"Rather androgynous looking, eh?"

Gaffo blinked.  "Say... you may be on to something... until
you, we had no reason to think any of the Sailor Scouts were
boys.  If it is possible, then the Sailor Starlights are
definitely candidates.  Hmm."

John frowned.  "Uh-huh.  Right, then.  Who's the one in the
tuxedo then?"

"Him?  Tuxedo Mask is what he's known as.  Good combatant,
fairly intelligent, and seems to be romantically linked with
Sailor Moon."

"Ah, all this AND romantic drama," said John dryly.  "Why
the link with planets?  And why the silly bleedin' 'Sailor'
title?"

"Well... the sailor bit... er... we aren't entirely sure on
that.  There's several puzzling questions in regards to
that.  For some odd reason, the majority of them have
re-emerged in Japan."

"Yeah, so?" asked John.

"Well, you see, the clothing that they wear is rather
identical to the clothing worn by Japanese schoolgirls known
as a 'sailor fuku', you see."

"Ah, right."

"But it still puzzles us why an ancient race of guardians
would choose such a mode of dress.  Not that we're
complaining, mind you." 

"Perhaps they want their enemies to underestimate them. 
Badly.  Lord knows I already do," said John sarcastically.

"Underestimated'em enough to get your arse kicked," mumbled
Chas, which got him a quick elbow from John.

Gaffo blinked.  "Oh.  Hm.  Now that IS an idea.  Anyway, as
to their origins, there is an old legend found in a handful
of ancient texts referring to a kingdom of the moon that is
destined one day to rise again.  Each of the Sailor Scouts,
by legend, were from the kingdom of said planet.  It's kind
of like the Arthurian legend, except that the entire round
table comes back."

"Indeed."  John shook her head, amused and annoyed at it
all.  "What a silly bunch," he muttered.  "Love Me Chain
indeed."

"Oh, actually, they all have a rather nasty habit of having
silly attack names," said Gaffo.  He pulled out another
folder, flipped a few pages, then smiled.  "Ah, here we
are.  Our associates in Japan have managed to get quite a
few names of their attacks, and we must confess we find them
very damned silly.  For example, there's the Love Me
Chain..."

"Been there, done that," grumbled John.

"Then the Mercury Aqua Rhapsody, Sparkling Wide Pressure,
Jupiter Oak Evolution..."

"Wot's that do?" asked John.  "Give a man a woody?"

"... the Moon Tiara Action, the Starlight Honeymoon Therapy
Kiss, the Mercury Bubble Blast..."

"These are certified?" asked John doubtfully.

"Oh, yes, yes.  In fact, the one attack that really stands
out, it was voted most obscene in the club poll, was 'Star
Gentle Uterus'."

John blinked.  "Star Gentle Uterus?"

Gaffo nodded.

Chas looked a bit ill.

"I don't think I wanna know," said John.  "What next?  Full
Mooning?  Star Irregular Bowels?  Star Penile Spray?" 

"Er, mercifully, the Star Gentle Uterus is about as bad as
it gets," said Gaffo.

John and Chas took seats, John flipping through the file in
his hand and Chas feeling terribly embarrassed to look
anywhere, for risk of being accused of pedophilic
tendencies.

"Right then," said John.  "Take it from the top. Explain to
me what this silly bunch of sods is all about."

Gaffo ahemed and straightened out his shirt, trying to look
somewhat scholarly.  "Well, their origins, as I said before,
seem to be told in some rather ancient tomes found buried in
ancient Greek ruins on the island of Lesvos.  There are
legends of a kingdom on the moon in other cultures as well,
particularly Japan, but the Greek texts predate those
legends by quite a bit.  It tells of a kingdom whose capital
was based on the moon, and whose reach stretched across the
planets.  Called themselves the Silver Millenium.  At first
it was generally assumed that this was some sort of legend
or myth, but then there was the discovery of this." 

Gaffo tossed a thin folder to John, who opened it up and
viewed a black and white picture of a somewhat dilapidated
archway being held by a crane over the ocean.

"See that?" asked Gaffo.  "That archway was found in the
Atlantic ocean, some two hundred miles north of the
Antarctic and several miles deep."

"What's so special about it?"

"Y'see, first of all it's got inscriptions in an unknown
language.  BUT it does have symbols indicating the solar
system as well as unknown markings also used in the Silver
Millenium document in Greece.  See picture number two,
yeah?"

John flipped to picture two.  "Um-hm."

"And second, that archway was made out of moon rock." 

John arched an eyebrow and nodded.  "Lemme guess, a coverup
by the United Nations or something?" 

"Exactly, John! A conspiracy!  They don't think the world's
ready for this sort of thing, y'know?"

"Could be that it was just carved outta some meteorite,
y'know?" suggested John.

"Could be, yeah, but it's still a bit peculiar.  Now then,
the Silver Millenium document tells of a time when the
royal houses of the kingdom shall be reborn when the stars
are right."

"When the stars are right?  You make'em sound like Cthulhu,
Gaffo." 

"No, Great Cthulhu doesn't look nearly as good in a fuku." 

"Now there's some great friggin mental imagery."

"Um, where was I?" asked Gaffo.

"Stars were right, reborn, et-cetera."

"Oh, right then.  The stars happened to be right a couple of
years ago, during the emergence of Sailor V, later to be
known as Sailor Venus.  Soon after, Sailor Moon appeared-"

"Who?"

"The blond one with the two long ponytails."

"Ah, right."

"Anyway, with Sailor Moon appeared several others.  Tuxedo
Mask, Sailor Mercury, Sailor Mars, Sailor Jupiter-"

"Saturn, Your Anus, right, get on with it!"

"Oh, um, righto.  Well, that pretty much covers the broad
view, pardon the pun."

John and Chas looked at him blankly.

"Er, right, nevermind," mumbled Gaffo. "Anything else?"

"Yeah, you haven't answered the big question.  Why am I
currently a Sailor Girl?"

"Oh, er, well, that, um..."  Gaffo scratched his head. 
"Only reason I can think of is that you might be the
reincarnation of one of them."

"Me?  A girl?  In a former life?" asked John.  "I don't
think so."

"Sorry, that's the best answer I can give you.  Anyway,
you're welcome to look through our files as you like.  If
you'll excuse me, I need to join the search party for Sailor
Pluto." 

With a grunt and a nod, John dismissed Gaffo and began
flipping through the Sailor Venus file.  Idly, he flipped
through picture after picture, then slowed down and stared
at one.  Then he flipped back and looked at them again.

He paused at one photo, then glared at it with
astonishment.

"THE CAT!"

"Cat?" asked Chas.

"The cat in this pic!" yelled John, yanking a photograph out
and shoving it in Chas' face.  Her finger pointed at a small
white cat which was being carried by Sailor Venus.  "That
stupid cat was on my doorstep this morning!  I bet the
little bastard dumped that wand there!  C'mon, Chas, we've
got a cat to maim."

Chas scowled.  "Shit, great, running about London past
midnight looking for a cat.  Great way to spend it, right." 

"Wait, it's past midnight?" asked John.  "Oh, bugger me, I
haven't checked up on Gemma!  She'll be wondering where I'm
at.  Hold on, I'd better give'er a ring." 

"John, I don't think that's such a good idea."

"Why not?"

"Y'think she'll recognize Auntie John over the phone?"

John scowled yet again.  "Oh.  Yeah.  Shite.  Oi, Chas,
give'er a ring for me, eh?"

"Me?"

"Yeah, just say I'm pissed drunk or something and won't make
it home tonight."


- - -


*riiiiing*riiiing*riiii-

"Hello?"

//Allo Gemma, s'me, Chas.//

"Oh, *yawn* hi Uncle Chas."

//Oh, did I wake you up?  Sorry'bout that, luv.//

"No, I wasn't sleeping.  Just tired.  What's up?" 

//I was just calling for yer uncle John.  Y'see, he got
himself pissed drunk and stranded at my place, so he won't
be coming in.  He just wanted me to check if everything's
fine with  you.//

"No problems here, Uncle Chas."

//Oh, good.//

"Hey, d'you know if Uncle John's got a problem with cats?"

//Don't think so.  Why?//

"Well... maybe I shouldn't have, but I picked up a stray cat
today.  I hoped Uncle John wouldn't mind."

//A cat, eh?  I don't-  er, hold on, Gemma.//

Gemma blinked as she heard some woman in the background
yelling something at Chas.

//Say, what kind of cat is it?//

"It's a small white one."

//Does it have a funny mark on its head?//

"It had a cut there, actually.  So I put a bandage onnit.
If there was a mark there, it's covered up right now.  Why'd
you ask?"

//Oh... er... s'just that my daughter lost her cat
recently.//

"Geraldine had a cat?"

//Er, yeah, just got it recently.  Anyway, gotta go, the
missus is nagging.//

"Give Gerry my love, eh?"

//Right.  Be seeing you.//

-click-


- - -


"THE CAT'S IN MY FLAT!  I don't believe this!  Chas!  Bring
me home!  Now!" 

Chas scowled.  "Rephrase that."

John stared at Chas for a moment, not understanding, then
gave him a swift kick in the shin.  "You bloody know what I
mean, arsehole.  Let's go!" 

The duo briskly walked through the halls, pausing only a
moment when they ran into a pack of the 'wanker occultists'
as John called them.  One of them dove to his knees in front
of John with a camera. 

It was a clear attempt to get the treasured 'Under The
Skirt' photo. 

"Bloody Hell!" snarled John.   "HELL'S FOOT UP YER SCROTE!"

---WHAM---

"AAaaaaaoooooow!  Scriv!  Jamie!  'Elp!  She friggin cracked
me nuts!"

"Bloody perverts!" spat John.  She glared them both for a
moment, then turned away.

And then she changed her mind.

"HELL'S BOOT UP THE ARSE!"

---WHUD---

"AAAAAAAAAOW!"

"HELL'S HEADBUTT!"

---WHAM---

"Soddin' amazing," said Chas.  "John Constantine finally
wins a fist fight."

"Bound t'happen sooner or later," said John.  "Cripes, I
think this whole Sailor shite is getting to me.  I'm
startin' to yell stupid catch phrases like they do.  C'mon,
Chas.  I've had enough of the bloody geek squad." 

John and Chas strolled away, leaving the three fanboy
occultists writing on the floor.

"Tell me Tommy," whimpered Jamie. "Tell me ye at least got
the pic?" 

"HELL'S CAMERA APOCALYPSE!"

--BLAM--


- - -


The Not-So-Dynamic-Duo was once again on the road, with Chas
behind the wheel as usual.  John, on the other hand, had
decided to stretch out in the back.  The long day had
finally taken its toll, dragging John into the realm of
dreams.

But even that would not be entirely restful.

John found himself to be a he once more, floating in an
endless void.

"Ah, what's this then?  Limbo?"

The darkness slowly lit with the twinkling of distant stars,
then a sphere of light that could only be the sun.

"A 2001 flashback.  How nice."

Soon, John found himself amongst a thick area of asteroids.
The asteroid belt, he guessed.  He'd never had any dreams of
galactic proportions before and wondered where this one was
headed.

In the distance, he saw a shape, a figure, a girl floating
deep within the asteroids, with ebony wings folded around
her, as if to shield herself from the world.  Her face was
turned away from him, staring out into space.  John floated
to the girl, seeing now that she wore the same manner of
dress that he'd been wearing. 

Him in his past life, perhaps?  Curiosity spurring him on,
he moved closer to the girl, until at last he was floating
before her.

And then, slowly, she faced him.

John lost his voice, able to only stare at her.

At last, reaching out a hand to caress her face, he spoke
softly. 

"Oh no... Gemma... not you."


-  e n d  p a r t  4  -