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Metallia, all in all, felt as satisfied as a bodyless entity of energy-sucking malevolence could be. She drank another sip from the silver crystal's energy and enjoyed the tingling sensation. With the Earth darkened and her ancient enemies now turned into the loyal lieutenants of her new high priestess - another unexpected master stroke from Mercury - existence was good. Except for one nagging little detail. The implementation of her Chaos-given agenda to spread hatred and suffering throughout the universe was stymied by the fact that she didn't really understand how these tiny little mortals worked. Which was a problem, since they didn't really suffer much if they just went squish, after all. Fortunately, that was what she had a high priestess for.

Frightened citizens hid in their dwellings as the giant, yellow-eyed darkness blacker than the sky descended on their city. Mercury, punctual as ever, was already waiting on top of one of the higher structures, flanked by her retinue of short-skirted girls.

"The non-lethal agony spell I asked you to develop. You have it?" Metallia asked without preamble.

Mercury approached with stiff steps, ignoring the angry gaze the red-skirted girl threw at her as well as the tearful, imploring look from the pig-tailed blonde. With great precision, she started outlining the required arcane gestures. "P-please don't overuse it. Exhaustion caused by overexposure could still be fatal."

Gleefully to observe the effects of her new toy, Metallia aimed it at the emptying streets below.

As the screams started, the sailor girls ran to the railing and stared down at the collapsing population with appalled expressions on their faces. After a moment, their eyes went wide and their jaws dropped open, and one after the other, they looked away.

"And they are in agonising pain right now?" Metallia, not an expert in human behaviour, asked, just to make sure. Something felt a bit off about this.

Mercury was looking studiously anywhere but at the writhing bodies of the "test subjects". Her face was just as tomato-red as that of the others. She coughed several times and put strained smile on her face. "Clearly. They are screaming and twitching. Those are outward signals of pain!"

"So are the moans," the long-haired blonde in the orange skirt commented helpfully. She was the only one who hadn't turned away. In fact, she was leaning over the railing to get a closer look, at least until the raven-haired girl noticed her and pulled her back.

"Ahem. Yes. And the moans, too." Putting her hands together, Mercury stared up at the demonic figure hanging like a mushroom cloud in the air, and waited for a reaction.

Screams, moans, spasms. This did sound right, Metallia thought. The late Queen Beryl's victim's had demonstrated the same symptoms whenever the Queen punished them. "Well done. Now the world shall know the true meaning of suffering!" She expanded two crackling black appendages that looked like clawed arms from her main mass, amplifying the magic to cover a wide area. Below, gasps and screams started escaped from every window in the city. Gleefully, the dark entity zoomed off to find more cities to torment.

When Metallia had disappeared over the horizon, Ami's shoulders sagged in relief. Then, she spotted the faces of the other senshi. Sailor Moon was pointng at her, beet-red, and staring with wide while her mouth opened and closed soundlessly. Sailor Jupiter, also blushing, stood with her arms crossed and her eyes closed, frowning deeply. Venus raised an eyebrow and looked at Ami with a strange and somewhat speculative expression on her face. Mars's face was red too, but from the way she was taking breath, she was winding up for one of the tirades usually directed at Moon. Unable to meet their eyes, Ami hid her face in her hands.

In the coming weeks, Metallia would find herself a bit disappointed by the resignation that drove the crowds into the streets as soon as she approached a city, ready to welcome the suffering she meted out. Their quiet - not for long, hah! - acceptance of their fate was taking quite a bit of fun out of the entire thing.

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