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 [Story] Cardinal King -COMPLETE-

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Sailor Uranus
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PostSubject: Re: [Story] Cardinal King -COMPLETE-   23rd February 2013, 3:26 pm


Usako was in danger – why was Helios running away?!

They reappeared in a dark place, the room feeling small and cramped, his head almost brushing the ceiling and Helios’s wings folded in around him, adding to the feeling of claustrophobia and panic that surrounded him like a dense fog. Memories were returning to him quickly, threatening to bowl him over with their urgency and vividness, an overwhelming sadness ominously calling for his attention, begging to be seen and heard, to be remembered. He was afraid of it, afraid of what it could mean, what all of this meant, but he concentrated on throwing those worries to the background of his mind to focus on the terrifying and very real circumstances back at Tokyo Tower. “Go back! We have to help them!” he commanded, tensing for the teleport, already planning trajectories and reaching into his newfound power source for the energy to summon a rose. They could come in from above, surprise Venus or defeat her, and catch Usagi on the way down. So long as Venus didn’t see them coming it could work –

His feet suddenly hit the carpet as Helios slid out from underneath him, the Pegasus shrinking still as he flew away to land on the nearby table. They were back in his apartment, the slight light peeking through his window the only source in the blackout.

Incredulous and confused, Mamoru approached him quickly, “What are you doing!? We have to go!”

“No, Prince, we don’t,” Helios replied, his tone melancholy but firm.

Perhaps he didn’t understand?! “Helios!” he implored, “Venus has Usagi! We’re wasting time – we have to go back!” Still the Pegasus was silent, refusing to look him in the eye, and Mamoru’s raw nerves sent him forward, sidestepping to stay in Helios’s gaze, forcing his guardian to look at him. Finally he caught and held his stare, locking eyes with him. He would try one more time, voicing his greatest fear, “She’ll kill her, Helios. We’ve killed all of her colleagues and there’s nothing stopping her from taking revenge.”

“We can’t risk losing you,” Helios finally stated, looking away again. Mamoru froze, the statement killing all feeling within him, his mind and body deadened by the realization that Helios had known the entire time and had chosen to ignore Usagi’s plight. Helios was choosing to let Usagi die, rather than give him the chance to save her. “It is unfortunate but—“

“Don’t finish that sentence,” Mamoru cut him off as hot anger rolled through him. Calmly he stepped forward and placed the Golden Crystal on the table, leaving it, and their stupid mission, behind, then turned to the far window by the desk. If he ran as fast as he could, perhaps he could make it in time, Helios’s help or no.

“It’s too late.” Helios said, stopping Mamoru in his tracks. “Venus phased out with Jewel Tiara.” Mamoru pushed open the window and paused, waiting with one hand clutching the windowsill for Helios to finish, feeling as though he were balancing on the edge of a knife rather than a windowsill. “She was alive. Kunzite and the others are on their way back now.”

Relief made him pause; she wasn’t dead. Usako wasn’t dead. The thought was an anchor for him, something he constantly kept close to, as he slowly considered his options. He… he didn’t know what to do anymore. He couldn’t follow her – he didn’t even know where to start looking for her. The Moon Kingdom… his eyes rose to the sky, singling out the bright white orb suspended in space. The moon used to give him feelings of peace, but now, it only afforded him anxiety and dread. Was Usagi up there, alone and afraid? She had told him she hated to be alone… What plans did they have in store for her?

They would get her back. He stepped away from the window and collapsed in his desk chair, staring outside for the first sight of the Kings, pointedly ignoring the Pegasus in the connecting room. If he could promise nothing else about the outcome of this crazy and stupid venture, he promised that he would get Usagi back.



Moegi came in first, landing on the window ledge and stepping through, moving out of the way to make room for Midori, who carried something black and rigid in his hand, followed quickly by Hanada and Kobai, the fairy Beryl flittering in after them. The window shut without anyone touching it. Mamoru stood with them, and immediately all four of them bowed to him.

“Stand up,” he directed tiredly, not at all thrilled by their act of respect or chivalry or whatever they thought it was. Nothing had changed – they were still friends, still equals. No matter what just happened, or who he used to be. “What happened?”

“Do you remember now?” Kunz—Kobai asked, ignoring his question.

“I’m trying not to.” Mamoru stated flatly, making it clear that the present counted more than a life that ended thousands of years ago. “What happened?”

Hanada looked at him directly, his constant eye-contact conveying the truth as he retold the events. “When we escorted you to Helios she came with us – we were planning on sending her with you two to keep her safe, but as we helped you on Helios, one of Venus’s attacks came through Kunzite’s defense. Her golden chain was heading for you and Jewel Tiara jumped to defend you, and the chain wrapped around her instead.”

Mamoru nodded, accepting that, even more than he had originally thought, he was directly responsible for Usagi’s situation. He didn’t think he was possible to feel worse than he had before the Kings had arrived, but he was surprising himself all over the place tonight.

“Once Helios teleported you away, we fought to get her back, hoping to kill Venus, but she used Jewel Tiara as a shield so our hands were tied. They disappeared before I could think up another strategy,” Hanada finished, finally looking away.

“You did the best you could,” Moegi stated, putting a hand on Hanada’s shoulder. “It was over in seconds – if you had come up with something that quickly you’d be controlling computers with your mind or something.” Removing his hand, the blond looked to Kobai, “When the Golden Crystal was activated, did you watch Venus?”

Kobai looked at him critically.

Moegi sighed exasperatedly, “Did you see the image behind her, or was I crazy?”

“What image?” Mamoru asked immediately.

“I thought I saw something, too,” Hanada added. “A woman with blonde hair appeared behind Venus and said something to her.”

Kobai nodded, “I saw her as well. Helios? Beryl?” he prompted, looking at the pair standing on the table.

Helios looked thoughtful, but shook his mane in response. Beryl watched Helios, patting him on his neck before replying, “I don’t know who it was, but I remember her from that day.” She looked back to Kobai, her eyes flashing to Mamoru momentarily, “When the Moon attacked, she led their forces in battle before their Queen arrived. She was the one that…” she trailed off, glancing at Mamoru nervously.

“The one that what?” Mamoru prompted.

“The one that killed Princess Serenity.”

Killed Princess Serenity. The world began to spin. Mamoru stepped backwards and fell into his computer chair before falling into another age, his mind too tired to fight the memories any more.


……….The Golden Age………
They had met in the springtime. It was early, early morning, the sun barely breaking the horizon; Endymion, after a long night of debate and strategic planning for a new water project, had made the foolhardy decision to stay up just a bit longer, to greet the start of a new day from his gardens, his view of the skyline nearly unobstructed to the east. When he took his seat the sky was warming. As he relaxed the stars disappeared – all but the planets Mercury and Venus, who remained up until their shine was overtaken by the brightness of the morning sun. As its rosy fingertips stretched out, giving the greenery a golden glow and casting long, loving shadows over the world, Endymion made the mistake of relaxing just a little too much and fell asleep. Always a light sleeper, he awoke mere moments later, but the strangeness before him had him questioning his consciousness. He blinked, but stayed otherwise motionless, not wanting to scare the ethereal being away were this truly reality. Instead, he watched it – her – as she watched him: with interest and mild fascination.

The ethereal sight took the form of a young lady. She had light skin, almost alabaster, as though she had never known the sun, and long silver hair that reached well past her feet despite the odd hairstyle the silver locks were knotted into. She wore a dress of white, spun like spider-silk, glittering with dew drops and held in place with pearls and rings of gold. There were only two true colors on the young woman – a bright golden sigil shaped like an upward-facing crescent in the middle of her forehead, and her bright blue eyes the color of the twilit sky. Those eyes were trained on him as his were on her, but when he blinked a second time a third color overtook her as the apples of her cheeks flushed soft red and she started to disappear, pushing herself out of sight behind a tree.

He sat up straighter and, never considering where this strange encounter with the fascinating, mysterious girl might lead, he asked, “Don’t go.”

And she didn’t.



That morning, while the world was still awakening, he met Serenity. In their first meeting he learned many things about her: first and foremost, no matter how impossible it seemed, she was real. She seemed as delicate as a pale sunbeam, but as her shyness wore away her bright and beating heart shone through; she was excitable, engaged, and as curious as a kitten – she metaphorically pounced him with a thousand questions about his garden and the city, about the flowers and the animals, the people and the parties – her thirst for answers was incredible, and the scope of her topics varied widely, always keeping him on his toes as her mind bounced from one question to the next. Her every action, every expression, endeared her to him – he couldn’t help but like her, and the looks she gave him, so unguarded and trusting and happy, just made him want to live up to her expectations of him. She made him feel stronger.

But before it was her turn for questioning, she paused, looking behind her shoulder, her blue eyes tracing skyward, and took her hand off his. “I have to go,” she simply said, giving him a final smile, one not as true as those ecstatic flashes she had given earlier. She stood and he stood with her, but as she quickly leapt away into the trees he had no chance of catching up with her – she was too fast. And then she was gone.


….


It was a month later when he saw her again. He had made it a morning routine to be in his garden at daybreak and would sit in apparent meditation for an hour, waiting to see if she would reappear, before conceding and returning to the garden areas closer to the castle for breakfast. His days were filled primarily with project meetings as he and his team attempted to make the world a better place for those subjects in the outermost areas of the Kingdom, but when occasionally left to his own devices Endymion would spend time in his library, researching what he could of a topic he had never quite given real thought to: the occult. From spirits and monsters to witches and gods, he searched deeper and deeper for a hint of an explanation for what he had seen that morning. The longer the span grew from their first meeting, the less sure his mind was that the girl, Serenity, had been real, but in his heart he couldn’t just accept their conversation was something his overtired mind had created.

And so, when one morning she reappeared before him, rather than the once-well-rehearsed ‘Hello again,’ the words that came out of his mouth were “You’re real.” It was more perplexed statement than question, and her light laughter made him feel immediately foolish for not keeping a tighter hold on his vocal cords.

“Of course I’m real,” she laughed.

When finally he asked her about herself, he had no choice but to openly accept the odd story about her origin; in truth, the idea that there was an entire kingdom on the Moon both fascinated and worried him. Fascinated by the very idea that the seemingly lonely neighbor was alive and filled with people like Serenity; worried by the realization that Serenity could traverse the space between them easily, and if she could, what would stop an invading force? The Moon Kingdom undoubtedly had access to powers that the Golden Kingdom did not, and while there had been no ill-will between their kingdoms, that didn’t necessarily mean there were any good feelings either. But, perhaps, his meeting with Serenity would start the process to an alliance between their Kingdoms and he would not have to worry about the threat of a war.

It was during that meeting, too, that their friendship was suddenly laid out in the open as Kunzite fell upon them, somewhat apologetic with his already-stern unstated disapproval of the meeting. When he blatantly asked Serenity for her identity and purpose – for which Endymion immediately called him down for – rather than Serenity answering for herself, a blonde young woman in a short-skirted orange-and-white outfit appeared and stepped between them defensively. Serenity, laughing pointedly, took her companion’s elbow and pulled her away. She introduced the young woman as Sailor Venus, and the blonde took over to make it clear that she was “Princess Serenity’s” guardian. Kunzite then took his introduction into his own hands, adding embellishments like his status as leader of the Heavenly Kings and birthright of the sub kingdom to the west beyond his capacities as protector of “His Royal Highness, Endymion, Crowned Prince of the Golden Kingdom and Possessor of Earth’s Own Golden Crystal” before making a remark about how hard it must be to be rein in ‘such a curious princess’. It was stated innocently enough, but Endymion knew it to be a subtle prod and called him out again.

Serenity – Princess Serenity, he had to remind himself, wondering how that revelation might affect their relationship – was then escorted away by her guardian, Venus, but the smile she gave him as the blonde was telling her how terrible she was for sneaking away told Endymion that she would be back. He was looking forward to it.





He smiled at her gradual appearance above him, how her form seemed to glimmer for a moment before she was suddenly there, floating momentarily with her silver hair spreading weightlessly like she were suspended in water, before she was caught by his planet’s pull and softly fell. He reached for her and she reached back, smiling radiantly. When their hands touched her fingers threaded between his and his smile widened; she pulled herself closer so when finally her feet touched the ground, she was pressed against him, their entwined hands at their sides. Again, with her presence so close to him, he felt stronger than he could ever be when alone, and, again, he was already dreading the moment when she had to leave. In his mind the crazy idea surfaced, not for the first time, but here, in the morning light, he felt it was finally appropriate to say aloud.

“Serenity,” he began, her name still a blessing on his tongue, a word he thrilled to hear. “I love you. Would you --”

“Endymion,” she answered quickly, her voice strained, her intention clear – she didn’t want him to continue, and immediately he felt a fool. He had misunderstood. Somewhere down the line he had thought their feelings were mutual – that the stolen kisses and shared dreams meant that she, too, was falling for him. He pulled away from her, avoiding her eyes to spare his wounded heart and pride some pain. On the Moon it could be that the intimate displays of affection they had shared were commonplace, as normal and platonic as handshakes on Earth. He really was a fool. Embarrassed, he freed his hands and started to move away, but she caught him, holding one of his hands with both of hers, and asked, “Please, wait.” He could never refuse her, and allowed her to lead him to the bench, the very same he rested in when he first saw her, and sat down beside her. He dreaded what would happen next – the speech, about how she saw him as just a friend, how they weren’t meant to be, how they were all wrong for each other; he had heard it before, he had even given it once, and as hard it was to be on the giving end, he knew it would feel much worse on the receiving.

“Endymion,” she repeated, but the weakness in her voice caught him completely by surprise, and his gaze was torn from the elm tree across the clearing to her, his entire body on edge, his will already determined to fix whatever had made her waver. In her blue eyes there were tears, her brows pressed anxiously together, her lips pursed in some unknown distress. He reached for her, putting his hands on her shoulders comfortingly, yet protectively – he should have known this would be harder for her. He would fix it –

“Serenity, it’s okay –“

“We can’t keep doing this!” she cried out, suddenly finding her strength. “We can’t be together! It’s against the will of the gods – we mustn’t fall in love!” He nodded, hoping to placate her; in truth, he would defy a thousand gods if it meant he could be with her, but if it were important to her he would respect her wishes. At the very least, he took solace in the fact that he hadn’t been completely wrong about their mutual attraction. He was just born on the wrong planet.

“But it’s too late.” Her voice was a whisper as she leaned forward and kissed him, her hand pressing against his cheek, fingers curling in his hair. He returned the kiss gladly, sealing a pact between them that nothing could separate them. Not even the gods.


…..



The battle was brutal; the Moon Kingdom had attacked at night during the full moon, coming out of the darkness with their terrible powers, dressed in battle regalia the likes of which the Earth had never seen before. Like silver wrought from the stars, it incased them in a beautiful and terrible light, making their soft and flowing clothing look fierce and formidable. At the forefront of their attack was Diana, who directed the troops even as she fought wielding her two spears; the Planetary Guardians were in attendance as well, but it seemed as though they held back.

Tense conditions and a well-timed warning from Serenity’s messenger, a white cat, had alerted Endymion and his Heavenly Kings to the threat a mere hour before the onslaught began, and they were able to evacuate the town as they armed the standing army stationed in Elysion. To better protect his planet and his people, knowing full well that the enemy was after him for his possession of the Golden Crystal, Endymion used his powers connecting him to his planet to sequester the Golden Kingdom of Elysion into a pocket on the planet itself, an alternate dimension Helios and his maenads had created. There they waited, but still the attack caught them off guard with its quickness and severity. It was as though they were being hunted.

But only when the moon itself seemed to fall from the sky did things become truly dire.

It was not the Moon, as it turned out, but instead a glowing white chariot caped in fabric as black as night, so that when it moved it covered the true Moon to give the illusion that the celestial body itself were falling upon them. When his troops involuntarily gaped up at the terrifying sight, the Moon army turned and gave a hearty cheer, and Endymion wondered then what new horror had befell them. Already they were grossly outmatched; if not for Zoisite’s strategies they would have already been lost, but now… now the tide of war truly raged in their direction, and as he finally saw the figure standing astride the chariot pulled by great and magnificent stags, he knew why.

He had never seen her before, but still he knew the strikingly beautiful woman to be Queen Serenity, for her daughter much resembled her. The Moon landed behind their troops and soon the warriors of the Moon doubled their efforts, and to make the wave complete, finally the Planetary Guardians came forward to fight, wielding their energies against his people. Knowing only they stood any chance against the girls, he and his Heavenly Kings descended into the battle themselves, and quickly lost sight of one another as they were swept away by the harsh reality of war. Kunzite lasted with him the longest before he, too, separated to duel a senshi alone.

Endymion kept his own against many foes, his presence alone encouraging his men and women to fight stronger, smarter, harder. But when it seemed his section was finally making true gains on the field, a smaller chariot landed and off stepped Diana, her spear pointing him out, selecting him as her opponent. She was not tall, but her very presence was formidable. Piercing blue eyes locked on him as she stepped forward gracefully, a smirk on her lips. He kept his sword at the ready, waiting for her, hating to see the spherical buns in her blonde hair for they reminded him too much of Serenity and the stark difference between the Princess and the General should allow for nothing of them to be the same.

She was suddenly there, spears crossed against his sword, leaning towards him with all of her weight on her weapons, still smiling wickedly. He pressed back, making her keep her distance as he fought to remain calm, to put some sense into what she had done – there was no way she could move that fast, there had to be some other explanation.

“Give it up, Prince, you’ve lost!” she breathed, as though the statement were a secret between the pair of them.

“Good will always triumph over corrupt hearts!” he replied, throwing his sword backwards against her. She retreated a few steps, her spears falling to her sides, but then grinned cruelly and was gone. He kept his guard up, looking for her, searching the crowd – “Move away!” he cautioned, and his people were quick to obey, leaving him to clear the immediate field of hiding places; a radius of 50 meters was emptied, and still Endymion was alone; Diana had not resurfaced. It was probably a tactic, a trick she would use to keep him off his guard –

He turned quickly to the sound of swishing fabric and a startled gasp behind his back and immediately dropped his sword as Diana disappeared.

No.

He caught her as she fell back against him, taking her lightly beneath her outstretched arms just as they grew limp, supporting her without thinking, his mind blank and confused as it fought to catch up. He stepped backward, going down with her, knowing subconsciously that she needed to be kept level. Finally he was on his knees, holding her, his eyes sluggishly moving to take in her injuries. Her chest and abdomen bled freely, the bright crimson blood soaking her delicate white dress. She had taken the blow for him head-on. “No.” The single word escaped him as finally this thoughts reengaged. “No, no no,” he repeated, pulling her closer to free his hands, resting her head against his chest as he worked his fingers over the wound and pooled his healing powers into her. The connection to her body made, he received signals of her vitals and his heartbeat quickened as his hope fell, and he poured more power into her, willing the golden energy to knit the arteries together again, to grow vessels and mend muscle, but his hands shook with fear. “Serenity,” he called, looking down at her, his chin nearly touching the top of her head; her eyes were closed, her expression slack. “Serenity,” he begged, shaking his shoulders once in an attempt to stir her, but her head simply turned to the side. He kissed the top of her silver hair, moving his hands farther up her chest and throwing more energy at her, but her signals were fading fast. There wasn’t enough time.

“I won’t lose you, Serenity,” he promised; he wouldn’t consider losing her – it wasn’t an option anymore. She was his life, the sun in his sky, his very heart. He didn’t dare think of what losing her would mean, for he knew if that if he turned his mind down that road he, too, would be lost. But then… he held her closer, what was life without her? If she were to die, he would follow her. Simple as that. Then she wouldn’t go alone and he wouldn’t be alone and that was good enough, right?

Yes. That was enough. Within a heartbeat he knew, too, that the others had died in this terrible war, the light from their soul gems gone or about to fade out. They would all be together in death, and that was good enough…. But could it be better?

A mad thought stuck him – flowers. Flowers died in the fall and were reborn in the spring, the seeds of one life creating another. Could he do that? Could the Golden Crystal’s power of growth be extended to rebirth?! Could she live again?! It was worth it – it was worth everything, this insane idea that could mean his love would keep her life and live again. Maybe he would be reborn, too; maybe they would meet again. Maybe they would fall in love.

He unleashed it – all of his power - letting it go in one fell swoop. Letting it encompass him, grow beyond him, engulf her and his world and his friends, all the while keeping his wish as his final thought: Let us try again.


....Modern Day Tokyo….
It had almost worked. He had been reborn, as had his friends, his guardians. The senshi, too, had been reborn, and so had their commander, but ultimately he had failed. Again he sent out is power to scan for her and her soft silver shine, but it was of no use. She wasn’t there. Serenity was gone, and so was half of himself.
“Mamoru-kun, I’m sorry,” Nephrite – Mamoru narrowed his eyes, forcing his mind to stay in the present; this was where he lived. This was his time now, and he had to pay attention; they couldn’t lose the war. Midori hurriedly apologized, placing the item on the kitchen table, facing him square-on and shaking his head, “If we had known Usagi-chan were Jewel Tiara before –“

Usagi-chan. Usako. Emotions roiled within him – love, worry, fear… then shame for his betrayal as suddenly Sailor Venus’s words made sense. Is your love so fickle, Prince?

“What would that have changed?!” Moegi demanded, stepping away from Midori to physically oppose him. “Why would that have mattered?”

“Unless…” Hanada started, moving away from Midori as well, his expression hardening, his green glaring with his accusation. “You knew.”

Midori broke eye contact, looking away, but Kobai met their gaze head on. “You knew?” Mamoru repeated, standing. It made sense – it made perfect sense. It would explain why Kobai was insistent about the two of them staying together; it had nothing to do with him protecting the false Prince Kobai, but rather the strongest of the Kings protecting him, the real Prince. It explained why Kobai and Midori had followed him earlier that night – they were protecting him, without his knowing, as though giving him some slack and just letting him believe he was alone. Midori had continued to play the role to continue to shade his true identity, even from their other teammates. Helios had moved back in to keep an eye on him while keeping up the charade. He was shocked at having been lied to so much and so thoroughly, and by people whom he had trusted. On top of everything else that had happened… He closed his eyes, not wanting to even look at them. All he asked was one question, one whose answer had better be good and well-reasoned, else any semblance of friendship between them be forfeited. “Why?”

“To keep you safe,” Kobai replied immediately, as though the answer were obvious.

“Not good enough,” Mamoru replied, forming his hand in a fist at his side.

“Moegi told –“ Midori started, but Moegi quickly interrupted.

“Leave me out of this! Apparently that was the plan all along anyway, right?” Moegi snapped, crossing his arms angrily.

Midori started again, talking over Moegi’s protests, “Moegi told me that before you found me and thought I was the Prince, your plan was to finish this thing without involving him. You didn’t want to drag him through this and make him fight, you wanted to protect him and respect him by leaving him be, and letting him lead an ordinary life while we, the Kings, took care of things and resolved the Dark Kingdom’s plot. When Kobai and Beryl told me the truth of things, I thought…” he paused, as though considering, “I thought it would be best to resume the original plan. While you weren’t entirely out of the loop, you could still continue on without knowing and together we could defeat the Venus and the whole Dark Kingdom scheme would crumble and you’d never have to remember what happened back then and have that mar your current life. I continued to act like the Prince so you wouldn’t have to really be him.”

Mamoru sat back down and put his head in his hands. It was too much to process at once; his brain felt like it would explode and he wanted to scream. He wanted to scream until his voicebox burned, until he had nothing left: not the duplicity of Kobai and Midori’s actions or reasons, not the soreness of his body for using the Golden Crystal for the first time, not the shock of losing Usako and the guilt for involving her, or the pain of really, truly losing Serenity. His eyes burned, remembering those sunlit mornings and her smile.

“Let’s go.” Hanada stated, moving towards the door and pulling Moegi along with him. To the second’s protests he quietly, but still audibly replied, “We can ask them about it later.” Their footsteps receded to the entryway, where they waited.

“Helios?” Kobai asked, though his question was more a command.

“I know.” With Helios’s reply, Kobai moved away, Beryl’s flittering wings following him.

“Midori.” Hanada called.

“She…” Midori started, his voice still coming from where he had stood before. He heard scrapings as Midori lifted the black object from before off of the table. “She dropped this before Venus took her. She knew what the gems could mean and…” he hesitated, then the put the object – Jewel Tiara’s Soul-Gem-studded belt – back down. “I’m sorry, Mamoru. I really like Usagi-chan. We’ll get her back, I promise.”

And with that, they left, and Mamoru tried to piece his life back together.

___________________________



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Sailor Uranus
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Outer Senshi Admin  Roleplay Director

Title : Oh, you mean you DON'T have an Elephabulous? Shame.
Posts : 13114
Join date : 2011-09-15
Age : 30
Location : NE Texas


PostSubject: Re: [Story] Cardinal King -COMPLETE-   26th May 2013, 7:12 am

All that night and through the next morning, Helios was as quiet as possible – a smart move on his part, for while Mamoru understood the rationality behind what Helios had done, he had not forgiven him for it. Mamoru slept for nearly 14 hours that night, rocked by constant nightmares, one after another, focusing primarily on Usagi and the Dark Kingdom. In one she was caged, in another, bound, in yet another she was lying in a coffin, the flesh melting off her face and reforming into something sinister. Each dream was worse than the last, each her situation more dire, the consequences of losing her to Sailor Venus becoming ever more terrible. And while the dreams were horrible, he did not wake up screaming; whether he physically couldn’t or his mind wasn’t letting him as further punishment for not being able to save her were both likely candidates as to the reasoning. When finally he broke through and woke up, he was drenched in sweat and his heart was racing painfully. Taking a few deep breaths, he started his day as normally as he could, going into autopilot as he tried not to think at all. He went through his morning routine, modifying where he had to due to the late afternoon hour. It was almost easy, until he went in to make himself something to eat and saw her belt on the table, the little gems shining with inner light.

She dropped it. Even though her life was in danger, though she faced Sailor Venus, she was still thinking of others first. Before even trying to free herself she made sure that the senshi’s power crystals would not be used to awaken their evil Queen. Usagi… he looked away, feeling ashamed all over again. He should have been there.

Without touching it, he left the kitchen, slipped into a pair of shoes, and left, deciding that he wasn’t hungry after all and that some sunshine would be good for him. As he exited his building he was immediately joined by Moegi, who kept quiet but alert as they walked. His presence was comforting; after all, Moegi hadn’t known anything, thus hadn’t hidden anything from him. He could still trust Moegi. He didn’t know where he was leading them until they were already there: the Crown Fruit Parlor and Arcade. “Old habits die hard,” he commented, more to himself than Moegi, and turned to look down the street, wondering where else he could go for some lunch without the possibility of running into Midori or Kobai.

“Do you want to go in?” Moegi asked, but as the door to the arcade opened they both stepped out of the way to let the young patron leave. He was a boy, probably late elementary school in age; as he left the building he was looking down, but glanced up at them once he made it through and paused, looking at Mamoru. Mamoru was sure he had never seen the boy before, but there was something unmistakably familiar about him; maybe the younger brother of someone on the soccer team?

“You’re Chiba Mamoru, aren’t you?” he asked, looking up at him with a bold expression that contradicted the timid hope in his tone.

Moegi looked like he was about to say something, but Mamoru nodded to answer the kid; he looked as though he were on a mission and, honestly, Mamoru hoped the mission was for him. He needed some sort of distraction; if the kid really was related to someone on the team, then maybe they were looking for him for practice. He’d be able to ignore Midori and still play to keep his mind off his life.

“Have you seen my sister?” he asked, sticking his hands in his pockets nervously and glancing away and back again. Mamoru’s hope for a distraction plummeted as he suddenly placed the familiarity; the boy’s general features shared similarities with hers. His eyes were even near the shade of hers. “I know you guys are dating and I saw you drop her off last night, but when the lights went off we couldn’t find her and I just thought… well I thought maybe she snuck out to go on another date with you or something.” He looked up, waiting for an answer, then shuffled his foot once before continuing, as though talking aloud was helping him through his worry for her. “She didn’t come home this morning, and my mom and dad are getting really worried. I told them she was probably spending the night at Naru’s house, but Naru hasn’t seen her so I thought I’d try checking out her arcade and when I saw you I thought… well, have you seen her?”

Mamoru’s mind skidded to a stop. What should he do? He couldn’t tell them the truth; they’d think he was lying and making light of their situation by suggesting their daughter was a super hero – it would be downright disrespectful. He should offer to help them find her, but then he’d be wasting time he could be spending actually searching for her. But what, then? Lie to them? Keep them hanging and uncertain?

“I’m afraid we haven’t seen her since yesterday, kid,” Moegi said for him, speaking sympathetically. The kid, Shingo, he remembered, nodded, looking away from them. “We’ll keep an eye out for her though,” he consoled, “Maybe there was a surprise candy store opening? I know how much Usagi-chan loved her sweets, right?”

Shingo shook his head, looking pointedly away from them as he gritted his teeth.

“We’ll find her, Shingo-kun,” Mamoru stated, “I promise.” He meant it. There was no running, no distractions. They needed to find her and get her back – first priority. Shingo nodded once, mumbled “Thank you”, and walked away. As soon as he left Mamoru turned around, facing Moegi, and twitched the watch hands to noon.

“What are you doing?” Moegi asked incredulously as his watch started beeping.

“Cutting the crap and calling a meeting.”



With his arms crossed, leaning against the counter watching the door, Mamoru waited for Midori and Helios to arrive. They were the last; Moegi stood to his left, Hanada to his right. Kobai and Beryl sat at a table in the center of the room. If he could avoid involving them he would have, but doing so would be asinine. Both Kobai and Midori were strong, and Beryl and Helios had knowledge about the past that they couldn’t afford to ignore. Even if neither of those were the case, begrudging them for their actions was wrong – they were just doing what they thought right, but while Mamoru could rationalize their behavior all he wanted, there was no changing how he felt. Finally the door opened to admit Midori and Helios. The brunet removed his shoes before entering and took a seat across the table from Kobai. He folded his hands on the table and stared at them, looking for all the world like a broken dog.

“We’re finding Usagi-chan,” Moegi announced as a way to start the meeting. “So… what do we know about the Dark—er, Moon Kingdom’s whereabouts and their motives?”

“After last night I started remembering bits and pieces of my past life,” Hanada offered, “But I don’t remember any open hostility from the Moon Kingdom. Or anything about them, really.” He paused, “until the last battle.”

Both Moegi and Midori nodded in agreement. Kobai looked at Helios for answers. After a moment watching him, wondering if Kobai knew more than he was letting on, Mamoru looked to Helios as well.

“They were mostly an unknown,” Helios commented, standing on the table to survey them all. “From what I remember, up until the last few years of the Golden Kingdom’s reign they were just benevolent and silent overseers of Earth, almost like a last defense for life. Older tomes told of times when they would descend from the Moon and fight mysterious evil forces on our planet, then leave.”

“What made them change so drastically between those ‘olden times’ and our Golden Age?” Hanada asked.

“I’m not sure…” Helios trailed off, looking over at Beryl, who sat on Kobai’s shoulders with her knees drawn up.

Sensing their eyes on her, Beryl folded her legs another way and took a curl of her hair between her fingers and worried it as she spoke, “We didn’t know for sure, but…” she glanced apologetically at Mamoru, “it might have had something to do with their Princess falling in love with a Terran.”

“None of that matters now,” Mamoru stated, closing the subject and internalizing further implications that this entire mess, all of their hardships, was his fault. “Where do they call base now? Where are they keeping Usagi? Are they on the Moon?”

“How could we get to the Moon?” Moegi marveled. “Midori?”

Midori’s chuckle was half-hearted. “I think that’d cost a little more than my yearly allowance.”

“I don’t think they’re on the Moon anymore,” Beryl quietly said, her wings fluttering. “Throughout the eras following the fall of the Golden Age, I remained in Elysion, watching over the holy city and the gardens. I didn’t know what the golden light did to everyone, but when the blonde warrior returned less than a year ago, I hoped it meant rebirth for everyone in the battle. The way she moved was purposeful, and though I didn’t know what she planned, I left to find you, hoping you all had been reborn that I could reawaken you before the Dark Kingdom could destroy us again.”

“They’re in Elysion?!” Moegi spat incredulously. Mamoru’s hands tensed into fists as a sour taste invaded his mouth. They were in his Kingdom, his capital city, planning the destruction of Earth from its ancient seat of power; the thought infuriated him. Why would Diana use Elysion when her Moon Kingdom should have been whole? Was it to enrage him? Well, it worked. No more waiting; they would save Usagi and defeat Diana and end this millennia-long war.

“How do we get there?” he asked, unfolding his arms and straightening. He had brought the Golden Crystal with him; they could leave from here. He’d already be on his way if not for Elysion’s relocation to a separate dimension. To his credit, Midori pushed back and stood, ready to go with him.

“Are we ready to face them?” Hanada asked cautiously. If it had been anyone else, Mamoru would have brushed them off and repeated his original question, but Hanada wouldn’t have asked if he didn’t mean it and have a specific reason in mind. So he paused, giving his attention to the blond. Hanada met his eye, “Venus won the last battle. She was in our world, we fought her on our time, and she still won. Do we really want to go running into their base while both she and blonde warrior are still at large? This could all just be an elaborate trap in order to secure the golden crystal; she might have taken Usagi specifically to get us to Elysion before we are truly prepared for this final battle. I think we should wait.”

“Wait for what?” Midori asked, shoving his hands in his pockets as he stared Hanada down, “It’s not like our waiting here for a more opportune time is making it any easier for Usagi-chan. The longer we wait, the rustier our skills get and the less chance we have at surviving. So long as our Prince is up for it, I say we go now.”

“But is he up for it?” Kobai asked, leaning back in his chair and glancing back at them. Mamoru wanted to hit him. He was smug, he was elitist, he was secretive, he kept the truth from them seemingly without regret or remorse, and now he questioned Mamoru’s abilities; there was nothing more Mamoru wanted to do than to punch him in his holier-than-thou face. Catching his stare, the grey eyebrows quirked. Mamoru twitched forward; immediately Hanada’s arm went before him defensively, cautioning him to stay where he was. “Dislike me all you wish, Prince,” Kobai said, his tone infuriatingly calm, “But it’s my job to keep you safe, and, to my knowledge, you have never used the Golden Crystal offensively. Would you really like your first time to be when the Earth’s survival is at stake?”

Keeping his eyes on Kobai, Mamoru released his frustration by unlocking his arms and slamming his fist into the cabinet behind him before turning sharply away, walking around the bar area into the billiards side of Hanada’s game room. There he paused, breathing deeply as he stared at the green felt table and wishing the “Morning Star” wasn’t right. He had never used the Golden Crystal to hurt anyone, in this life or his last. Now and in the Golden Age, he had only used it to rejuvenate. How, then, could it be of any use in this fight? Seemingly Ages ago, when it had only been the three of them, Helios had suggested the Golden Crystal would be the answer to all their problems; it would defeat the Moon Kingdom threat in no time, else it would at least stand equal to the Silver Crystal in battle. But what good was it if it could only heal? How could he use it to destroy this evil presence and save innocent lives? To save Usako’s life?

He felt helpless. They had been so sure, yesterday; they had their plan and they were well on their way to completing their mission. One more senshi to go and the world was safe. They had found their Prince, completed the Heavenly Kings, and with Jewel Tiara on their side, they had secured immense wells of power that could not then be utilized in the Dark Kingdom. “Yesterday had been so much better,” he commented quietly, staring at the white dots that marked the billiard table. His life had been so good yesterday. He knew who he was. He had a family, he had friends he trusted with his life – friends he would both live and die for – and he had Usagi, someone who brightened everything and made him feel complete. It couldn’t have gotten any better than yesterday. But now?

Now he was a twofold failure, both betrayed and betrayer. He had been lied to and it had cost them all dearly; Midori almost died, Usagi had been kidnapped, Venus lived. He couldn’t trust Kobai farther than he could throw him, and now he had to question his feelings for Usagi based on his love of Serenity. He had found that it was his fault that the Moon attacked, his fault that Serenity died, his fault that they were all here now, and he hadn’t even managed to do what he had sacrificed it all to try: Serenity was dead. And to top it all off, he couldn’t even utilize their only hope, the Golden Crystal, in any truly useful way. They had put so much stock in the Prince and the Golden Crystal being the last line of defense, the thing to turn to if nothing else worked.

And now here he was, completely useless.

“Hey.” Mamoru focused, then turned to acknowledge the speaker. It was Moegi, looking a little uncomfortable. Behind him, Hanada and Midori were speaking very quietly with Kobai; based on Hanada’s subtle gestures, it wasn’t a particularly nice conversation. Part of him liked that, the other half felt like they were fighting his battles for him. Looking back to Moegi, Mamoru waited for him to continue. Moegi shrugged self-consciously, looking away, his eyes darting all around the room before he finally said, “I believe in you, okay? So yesterday was chibi, so what? We’ll get through it and kill the crap out of that blonde, rescue Usagi-chan, take back Elysion and save the world. That’s all there is to it.” Moegi crossed his arms, still uncomfortable, staring at the score-board mounted on the other side of the room.

Mamoru half-smiled. As terrible as he felt, he really appreciated Moegi’s for saying what he did; that he even offered to say anything so openly and honestly meant a lot. Maybe they would do alright. Maybe he could learn to direct the Golden Crystal’s energy into attacks. And maybe pigs would fly and Midori would pass all of his classes. In any case, he wasn’t giving up, even if it did seem hopeless. He’d continue to try until they killed her or she killed them. “Diana,” he corrected, a little late.

“Who?”

“The blonde in charge. Her name is Diana; she was the general of their forces and right hand of Queen Serenity.”

Moegi looked at him full-on, both brows furrowed incredulously, “Okay, so? She’s dying either way. I guess we have something for a headstone now, thanks.” He shrugged his shoulders, putting his palms up the ceiling, and turned back to the others, “Did you hear that? Beryl, make yourself useful and start carving a tombstone for Diana. Make it tiny so we can step on it after she’s dead. We’re sure-as-hell not burying her in Elysion.”

The quiet conversation stopped and Beryl jumped into the air, flittering above the table hesitantly. “And when do you want it ready by?” she asked, continuing with the charade as a means of masking another question.

All eyes shifted to Mamoru. As much as he wanted to say ‘immediately’, there was no way they would have a chance if they left now. Kobai was right – he needed more practice with the crystal. Hanada was right, too; they couldn’t face Venus and Diana and whatever other monsters they had prowling around in Elysion and still hope to come out of there alive. No matter how worried he was about Usagi, going in now would probably cause her death rather than her rescue. They had to wait. “No rush,” he answered, and the tension in the room plummeted.



Their meeting ended soon after without much progress anywhere else. Sunday was spent on the rooftop, trying to coax the Golden Crystal into attacking various targets to no avail. Monday came with a reluctant return to school; for the first time in his life, Mamoru considered skipping in order to try again with the Crystal, but in the end decided to go in hopes that when concentrating on academics, the solution for his problem would surface. He worked hard throughout the day, and continued to stretch himself in soccer, where ignoring Midori was a hassle, but doable. Afterwards he and Hanada went back to his place so he could work more with the Crystal.

By Thursday he was beginning to see some results; if he acted as though he had just thrown a rose, the energy would sometimes follow his hand, bursting forward with a golden glow. It worked best when his palm faced outward, but then he was beginning to see that the Golden Crystal’s powers were more connected to his hands than anything. Through his hands he could heal, he could locate people and objects, and, as he practiced more and more, he could focus energy and send it out. Still, while it was impressive to affect things without actually touching them, he felt as though this development still wasn’t enough to tip the scales in their favor. If only he could magnify the amount of energy; it felt almost like it was bottled-necked, like he wasn’t allowing as much to pass through as he wanted or as it could allow. He had to figure out how to get around the block if he wanted any chance of success. He needed to find a way.

After school on Friday they started back towards his apartment to keep trying, but Moegi intercepted them on the way.

“Hey, Moegi,” Hanada greeted, a little confused, “Don’t you have debate practice?”

Moegi shook his head, “Rescheduled. Do you guys want to go hang at Crown for a bit?”

Hanada looked to Mamoru, obviously willing to do whatever he decided. Mamoru considered; while he needed to continue working with the crystal and the developments of the day before were interesting, he knew he needed a break. It wasn’t that he felt depleted energy-wise, but mentally he could use a bit of time off, and hanging out with Moegi and Hanada would probably be a good step in that direction. He shrugged and nodded, and the three of them turned towards the shopping district.

When they reached the Crown Fruit Parlor and stepped inside towards their regular spot, Mamoru paused when he saw Midori sitting in the booth. He started to turn back when Moegi caught his arm and held him with a hard glare. “Time to “cut the crap”, remember?” he spoke quietly, “It was a jerk move not to tell us, but he thought he was doing the right thing. Your ‘silent treatment’ or whatever you’re pulling with him is messing him up; just forgive him already. You know he’s got your back and he won’t pull that chibi again.”

Pride flared instantly in reaction to the condescending tone and Mamoru’s first instinct was to push past, keep walking, and add Moegi to his chibi-list. The only thing stopping him, in fact, was the knowledge deep down that he was right. Would he have done the same thing if his and Midori’s roles had been reversed? No, and he’d proven it – they told Midori that they thought he was the Prince almost immediately after his first transformation. But did he agree it was a rational alternative to their original plan to keep the Prince in the dark? Grudgingly, yes. He would not have agreed to such a plan, personally, but he could understand why Midori and Kobai did. Well, Midori more than Kobai; Midori, at least, seemed regretful when it blew up in their faces. And that regret Midori displayed led him to believe that Moegi was right in that he wouldn’t do it again. Kobai on the other hand…

“We’ll see,” Mamoru growled in response, thinking of Kobai and wondering whether the man could persuade the others into something like that again. He turned around and completed the trip to their table, paying little attention to Midori and the somewhat-shocked look on his face as he sat down across the booth from him.

“Hey,” Midori greeted, a small touch of apprehension creeping unbidden into his otherwise-casual tone. He leaned forward a bit, his hands folded together over the newspaper he had been reading.

“Hey,” Mamoru replied nonchalantly, meeting his gaze in a conveyance of gradual forgiveness. He nodded towards the counter, “Go get me a drink.”

Midori’s brows furrowed, his face filled with shocked disbelief as he balked “Go get your own!” and folded his arms crossly. Mamoru chuckled, glad Midori wasn’t going to try an apology by way of overcompensation; Midori, seeing his reaction, started laughing along. And just like that it was practically back to normal, so long as he could ignore what the other night had meant, or what faced them and the stakes of their upcoming battle. Hanada and Moegi joined them and conversation was easy, but distinctly avoiding mention of their other lives, of senshi and missing friends, of Crystals that didn’t quite work, of Kobai and Beryl, or the world they were now starting to remember; however, while their words kept safely to clubs and sports, it was obvious that their minds were hovering around those unspoken topics.

___________________________



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Title : Oh, you mean you DON'T have an Elephabulous? Shame.
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Join date : 2011-09-15
Age : 30
Location : NE Texas


PostSubject: Re: [Story] Cardinal King -COMPLETE-   26th May 2013, 7:12 am

As they finished their food and the plates were taken away, Mamoru’s eyes suddenly focused on the newspaper article Midori had been reading before he sat down, the title and content of which he had obscured throughout their time in the booth in one fashion or another in a manner that made it seem inconsequential; however, as Mamoru’s eyes briefly glimpsed the title, his mind changed. “Midori,” he asked carefully, not immediately wanting to jump to the conclusion that Midori had been actively keeping secrets again, “What newspaper is that?”

He saw Hanada’s eyes shift warningly towards Midori before the lights went out. As the hum of electricity died, so too did the voices in the café, until, all at once, the thrum of curiosity tinged with fear turned the restaurant to a quiet frenzy of whispers. Immediately Mamoru assumed the worst, but hesitated momentarily, having caught a snippet of conversation, “Was a blackout scheduled?” “It’d make sense, right? Based on what happened last week?” “But they didn’t release such a statement…” Without needing to wait or ask, Hanada moved to let him out, and the four of them made their way through the darkness of the Crown Fruit Parlor towards the street, their feet guided by memory alone. Hanada led the way, and after just a few encounters with the other patrons, they managed to leave, spilling out into the street to find themselves in a loose crowd that stared in every direction, the people mumbling to each other, trying to find out what happened. Unlike last time, there was no full moon to aide them; only the faint stars.

They spread out, each looking up in a different direction, trying to catch sight of the telltale glow of Venus. Mamoru’s section was dark and desolate, but while he moved to rejoin Hanada he kept his eyes peeled, just in case, part of him daring to hope that Venus would surface and would bring Usagi with her. “Nothing,” he reported, his findings echoed by his friend and, moments later, by Midori and Moegi.

“Could it really just be a blackout then?” Midori asked aloud, his stance relaxing, but his shoulders still tense as his eyes shifted over the crowd warily. “Chiba, the crystal…” Midori started uncomfortably, “is it…?”

Guessing what he meant, Mamoru nodded curtly and replied, “Always.” The crystal was always with him; he found he felt incredibly uncomfortable without it on his person, like he was constantly forgetting something urgent, like he had left the stove on or the door unlocked or had left his homework at the public library; it made him anxious. So the Golden Crystal, the most powerful weapon in their arsenal, the supposed carrier of his very soul, was in the front left pants pocket of his school uniform. Not exactly glorious, but it worked. Midori nodded at the reply, understanding, and stepped forward a touch, facing down the street, his eyes to the sky.

Mamoru crouched down and pretended to tie his shoe, masking his true intention as he laid his palm to the ground and sent out a single pulse in an attempt to locate Venus, were she even there. In his mind’s eye buildings faded as the energy rushed past, a hundred thousand white lights springing into existence, each belonging to a citizen of Tokyo; however, other than the greens and blue glow of his guardians surrounding him, there seemed to be no sign of – wait. He sent out another pulse, directing the majority of the energy towards the strange singularity downtown, but while he came up empty, he tried again, as something didn’t feel quite right. A third and fourth time followed as he increased the frequency of the signal until, at least, There – he caught it. The tail end of a saturated orange-yellow glow. Venus. “She’s here,” he said quietly, a warning as he sent out other pulses, trying to figure out what was going on; one time she’d be there, the next she wouldn’t – it was as though she were… teleporting.

He stood to find himself partially surrounded, each of his friends having taken a direction to scan as they waited for more information. “It looks like she’s teleporting; I couldn’t tell where she was heading but she was never in one place for too—“

“GET DOWN!” Hanada cried, turning to barrel him over as a bright light streaked past them; just as quickly as he was down, Hanada was back up and Midori took Mamoru’s arm to pull him to his feet as Moegi yelled for the crowd to run and find cover, but his voice was lost in the cacophony of screams that echoed about the streets as chaos broke loose. Four, five – ten beams of light sailed down from the sky, each striking a target and knocking the person to the ground; breaking free of Midori’s grasp, Mamoru dashed over to the closest victim, calling the Golden Crystal’s healing powers to bear as he fell to his knees and turned the girl over, fearing it would be too late. What was the Moon Kingdom’s game, harming innocents like this?! But as he turned the girl over and felt the life beating faintly within her, he realized that the game hadn’t changed, but Venus’s beams had.

“She’s taking their energy!” he cried, his voice straining to carry over the roaring sound, “Kings! Transform!” Pushing himself back away from her, Mamoru tried to concentrate on his powers and transform instantaneously, but with more beams landing by the second, people dodging, screaming, crying, he eventually gave up, needing to be ready faster, and yelled the phrase aloud, “Pyrite Power, Transform!”

“Jadeite Power, Transform!”

“Zoisite Power, Transform!”

“Nephrite Power, Transform!”

Cloaked in their garb of the past, filled with strength and power, the four of them raced through the crowd, eyes up and searching for their enemy. Already East King’s lightning-infused stone knuckles had come to bear; with a powerful thrust, he lunged off the ground and launched himself into the air, his boot catching on the side of a building to propel him upwards, his cape helping him to soar impossibly high, but by the time East reached their enemy’s level there was no one there to meet him. “Left!” Hanada yelled, and Mamoru turned quickly, a rose on his fingertips and sailing skyward towards the yellow-garbed senshi as she bombarded the fleeing crowd with more energy-sapping beams, but before his rose could strike the target, she had disappeared yet again, her manic laughter echoing behind her.

“We need an advantage!” South shouted angrily, dodging around and over collapsed citizens.

“Rooftop!” North replied sharply, and the three of them joined East on the roof in a few short jumps. Venus reappeared and Mamoru threw another rose at her, this one laced with a bit of Golden Crystal energy. It hit, grazing off of her thigh as she twisted away. Her blue eyes sending him a hateful glare, she teleported away again, reappearing father down the street and raining down laser blasts on the confused populace. Surprised at her choice to run instead of fight, they gave chase, racing from rooftop to rooftop after her. He threw attacks after her as he could but she was too quick and anticipating; none struck. The toll was rising – if she got away, the energy she gathered would be an incredible boost to her cause, and an incredible loss to Tokyo and its people.

With a kick of speed he pushed forward, launching over alleys and connecting streets and finally gaining on her, his thoughts turning from the good of the world to the good of one – what had they done with Usagi? Each step was a kick forward, his legs propelling him such that each step was a leap closer to an answer, the thoughts he had kept bottled tightly threatening to spill: was she alright? What were they doing to her? Was she punished for dropping the gems? Were they taking care of her? Had she somehow managed to escape? … had her life energy been sacrificed to their queen? “Venus!” he yelled, the command to stop clear in his voice as he threw another rose at her, his eyes dangerous as he prepared another – he would have his answers!

She dodged the flower and was immediately on top of him, her gloved hand slamming closed on his throat as the force of her blow pushed them both backwards. His back hit the concrete roof roughly, and in the moments he spent in helplessness, the breath knocked completely out of him, she leaned close, her face inches from his with her golden hair falling around them like a curtain, her constricted blue eyes staring at him eerily. Her voice unlike that of a week ago, she hissed, “Where is the Golden Crystal?” Gritting his teeth he glared up at her and recognized that something was off about the girl – there was no cold calculation in those eyes, no hate-filled passion or heartbroken pain, just crazed obsession that seemed to increase at every moment; her tiara, too, was missing; in its place her forehead was marked with a symbol, a circle atop a cross, pulsating with an orange glow. Her lips pursing unhappily at his apparent hesitation, she pressed harder into his neck, crushing his windpipe. Willing his muscles to answer him, he tried to throw her away, but knew he wasn’t quick enough when he felt the icy grip of her heart chain wrap itself around his leg and the uncomfortable pull began in his body as his energy slowly drained away. Finally his lungs started again, and in the first moment he pulled in as much air as he could around her vice-like grip. “Where is the Golden Crystal?!” she repeated, her eyes narrowing further, her pupils smaller than he could have believed possible.

“Whe—“ he stared answering, but with his Adam’s apple caught beneath her grip he choked on his words. Her scowl deepening, she leaned closer as though to hear him better, her grip lessening marginally; this was his chance. “Where is Usagi!?” he countered, forcing his voice to work as he brought his right hand to bear and threw Golden Crystal energy at her. She was thrown backwards off of him, her chain ripping and tearing as it left with her, gouging his leg deeply, but he had no time to properly heal it. He rolled to his feet, favoring the leg, and quickly turned a rose into his sword. Holding it at the ready, he stood, prepared, as she picked herself up off the ground, visibly snarling. She whipped her chain around and he waited, wondering suddenly if the Crystal could combat lasers.

He never got to find out.

As the chain of interlocking hearts streaked towards him he threw up his sword as a shield, but before the attack could hit the chain was caught by a whip of malleable ice and jerked to the side. The force of the pull put her off balance, but for only a split second as she dropped the chain and pointed her index finger towards him. This action, too, was stopped abruptly as three fiery knives streaked through the air towards her, one piercing through the back of her hand. With a cry of rage she reached to remove it, ducking and rolling away as East King rushed her, his fist pulled back and ready. When he missed the King jumped out of sight and Venus had the split-second chance to pull at the metallic object, both of her gloves singed and burning as South’s powerful fire spread. She managed to dislodge the blade only to have a handful more streaking towards her – she rolled to get out of their path and then looked straight up and lunged away as East King came down fist-first onto the rooftop where she would have been, but while she missed the brunt force of his attack, the shockwave sent her flying backwards, right through the tip of West King’s sword.

The joint attack by his guardians was as quick as it was brutal, but still the battle wasn’t over. Mamoru’s eyes never left Venus, hoping to find some resemblance of humanity, some change in her, but even as her body staggered at the shock of impalement, the mark on her forehead blazed and her eyes never changed, her pupils pinpricks and expression manic and crazed. What had happened to her? ‘Is your love so fickle, Prince?’ she had so softly demanded before, but now… ‘Where is the Golden Crystal?!’ Putting a hand on his wound he healed quickly, then stepped forward to approach her, both North and South Kings appearing slightly ahead and to the side of him, their weapons at the ready as they provided an escort towards the senshi that clung to life.

“Give me the Crystal!” she cried angrily. He tried not to pay attention to the trickle of blood running from her mouth down her chin, or the dark spot spreading quickly through the white leotard of her uniform, but the details stuck with him. The senshi were no different than they. Though they allied with darkness they were still just flesh and blood. If only they could be redeemed.

“Is Jewel Tiara still alive? Where are you keeping her?” West King demanded, his voice solemn and threatening. He held her in place with his forearm around her shoulders, keeping her impaled on his curved scimitar. The move was calculating and cold, but the choice of question caught Mamoru off guard; West King had always seemed so intent on the greater mission, and yet now, with their first and possibly only chance to interrogate the enemy, he was instead asking the question Mamoru most wanted to know, rather than the one that would mean most to their knowledge of the events transpiring in Elysion.

“Do you really want to know?” she returned, her tone changing, growing softer while her eyes remained as hard as ever. She tilted her head back towards West King, reaching up with one burned and bloody glove to place her hand comfortingly on his elbow, index finger tracing up his arm; it was odd, almost like a lover’s caress. Something was definitely wrong – she could still be dangerous but Kobai seemed oblivious. Behind them cement crumbled as East King pulled himself out of the hole he had created. The distraction almost covered her words, “Shall I take you to see, my Evening Star?”

“West!” North shouted a warning, stepping forward in an attempt to break Kobai of whatever trance she had him in. At hearing his voice Venus snarled again, her index finger glowing as she prepared to fire, but West King was already reacting. Gripping her tightly, he pulled his weapon to the side, and she screamed, “For My Queen!” before erupting into light. Mamoru covered his eyes hastily, his cape appearing to counteract the massive shockwave that burst forth from her destruction. They all slid backwards over the pavement, but in the rush of wind that barraged him, he thought he heard her true voice softly whisper, “Serenity.”

When it was all over he opened his eyes to see her Power Gem hovering in place, its inner light harsh compared to the softer glows the other gems had emitted. West King, his expression pained but resolved, reached out and took the stone in hand. He gasped in unexpected pain, his hand quickly releasing, but with determination he forced his gloves to close around it.

“West?” East asked hesitantly.

“It burns,” West commented quietly.

Beryl, flitting in from behind a stairwell on the rooftop, hovered before West, her hands reaching out to take it from him. “You were enemies; your kunzite energy is fighting her Venus energies,” she said softly, but matter-of-factly. “Here, let me hold it for you, it won’t harm me.”

All eyes on her, South was the one to ask, “Why wouldn’t it harm you?” his voice hinting at the sudden knot of suspicion they all felt. She herself had just said that Venus’s enemies, or the enemies of the Moon Kingdom, could not hold it. But then, Mamoru wondered, glancing away from them all, what did that say of Usagi?

Without taking her eyes off of West’s, Beryl replied, “I don’t have a soul anymore, so her energies will not conflict with mine. Let me take this from you, Kunzite.”

She had no soul? Mamoru’s attention snapped back, staring at the small fairy with the long wavy hair; no soul? Was that the price she had paid to survive the fall of the Golden Kingdom? Kunzite – West King – shook his head negatively. Still looking at the jewel in his hand, he asked of Mamoru, “Jewel Tiara’s belt is still in your apartment?” Mamoru nodded, and West continued, “The belt must have some sort of containment function; we’ll store it in there for now.” He then sharply turned away from them, walking forward towards their destination, the arm that gripped the stone visibly trembling despite West’s attempts; but it was his choice, so Mamoru didn’t try to dissuade him.

They all fell in behind him, jumping from the battle-torn rooftop onto another, and another, running through the city, their eyes glancing down to the streets to gauge the amount of destruction Sailor Venus had wrought. The pavement was pock-marked with small craters, but most of the people were slowly picking themselves up, looking around confused, but safe. Helios joined them not long after. “I was able to release most of the energy before it left,” Helios stated, coasting along beside them, “but some… might not make it.”

They all stopped, staring at Helios and the implications of his words – some might not make it? People would die as a result of this attack? Citizen casualties… “Couldn’t Chiba –“ South stopped, glancing over at Mamoru through his red mask, “I mean, if he wanted to, couldn’t he heal them?” Mamoru looked to Helios for the answer; if he could do something, he would. It was his fault all of this happened, and no one deserved to die because of him. Not again, he thought automatically, forcing down remembered images of Serenity’s sacrifice and the emotions that he had yet to deal with. Even now, just the whisper of her memory threatened to undue him. He forced it down, concentrating on the Pegasus and the present.

“He could, but the ambulances are already being sent out; by the time we separated the unconscious from the awakening, it’d be too late.”

“Unless we found what hospital they’re all being sent to,” Hanada commented, “In a situation like this, they’d probably gather those with similar symptoms to the same place. We could find that place, get in, heal them and leave.”

“You think they’d let him leave?” West commented condescendingly, his hand tight on the crystal as he stared at them all openly.

“Yeah,” East commented, his brown brows knitting together in agreement with Kobai, “Guy comes in, mysteriously waves his hands over people, they wake up, and you think they’ll just let him walk out? You’re dreaming. They’d want to study him or dissect him or something.”

“I won’t let people die for this.” Mamoru stated with finality, ignoring the confliction on Moegi’s face, or the gradual acceptance on Hanada’s. He would heal them. He was responsible for them anyway, right? And who says he’d get caught – he shouldn’t have to hover over people to heal them; he could act like a visitor. Maybe just sending out a steady flow of power would work. Before anyone else could speak up, he stated, “Whether you approve or not, I’m going.”

“I don’t approve, but if you’re going I’m going with you,” Midori stated, his arms crossed in annoyance and his mouth set in a scowl. “Someone’s going to have to break you out of whatever science lab they stick you in.”

“They’d have to go through us first,” South shrugged cockily, “And I like those odds.”

Mamoru nodded, appreciating the support. He turned to Hanada for a suggestion of which hospital to visit first, but found the blond looking to their fourth, his expression hard to read. Kobai wasn’t looking at them, instead his gaze moving through the buildings towards the rising moon. Beryl flittered beside him, her small voice barely carrying across the ten foot distance between them; that the crystal was hurting Kobai had slipped Mamoru’s mind, and while they might not be on the best of terms at the moment, West had tried to find out about Usagi’s predicament, and West was fighting for him. They’d just have to split up. Turning to North, South, and East, he quickly split the group into two teams. “You three figure out the situation with the people – once you find out which hospital they’re grouping them into, send a message over the communicator and I’ll meet you there. Helios,” he added, looking to the hovering Pegasus, “Monitor energy signals; if someone’s energy gets too low…”

“I’ll keep an eye out,” Helios replied, then disappeared.

“West, let’s go,” he finished, then led the caped King and the fairy Beryl, on to his apartment and Jewel Tiara’s belt as North, East, and South got organized. As they got out of earshot, Mamoru slowed to run beside Kobai, at first keeping deliberately silent. Kobai, the Evening Star, West King, Kunzite; from what memories he allowed through from the past, he knew that they had been close back then. Like brothers. But now… Kobai had willingly withheld the truth. He was cold, he was calculating, he was stand-offish, and yet earlier he had wasted a chance in an attempt to help Mamoru, and only Mamoru. “Why did you do it?” he asked at last, keeping his eyes forward. He was still angry, but more willing now to listen to reason.

“Do what?” Kobai answered monotonously.

Any number of things, really. Mamoru chose the first, “Hide my identity.”

He scoffed, “To keep you safe. To throw off the Dark Kingdom. It was never supposed to happen that way; if you were to awaken we had hoped it would have been after the Moon Kingdom had been dealt with. It was all for you, and, according to Midori, it was what you had intended as well.”

Mamoru nodded, but did not comment.

“I regret what happened to Tsukino Usagi; I operated without enough information. If I had known she were Jewel Tiara I—“

“Wouldn’t have let her anywhere near me?” Mamoru finished bitterly, remembering the distaste Kobai and Beryl had for Usagi’s alter-ego.

“Truthfully, yes,” Kobai replied, “but we didn’t know who she was or what she was after –“

“I knew!” Mamoru interjected angrily, stopping suddenly. Kobai skidded to a halt and faced him. “If you had listened you would have known, too! But right from the beginning you and Beryl had been against her – she didn’t know who she was or her part in this – she was alone and had no one helping her or showing her the way, but she wanted to help us! She was as much against the Moon Kingdom as we were, and she didn’t have history fueling her fire! She despised them for how they treated people – Jewel Tiara fought for justice, and you treated her like a spy for the enemy. If you had only trusted me –“

“Trusted you?!” Kobai spat, his anger bubbling over at last, “Endymion, my life is for you! Since you were born I have been protecting you, watching over you, learning and growing with you – you are like a brother to me! And so I, more than anyone, know of your weakness for her! You gave your heart to her and some of your sense along with it! You destroyed our world for her! So if the Moon Kingdom wanted to send a spy to unravel us, to steal the Golden Crystal and kill you, who better than a doppelganger of the Moon Princess? Who better to gain your trust and mislead you? So forgive me for not trusting you then! I said before that I regret that I was wrong, and I am truly sorry for the loss of Tsukino Usagi, for you, for her family, for the world, but I do not regret my mistrust towards your judgment of her!

“I did what I did to try to keep you safe.” Kobai finished, his silver eyes hard as he stared out from behind his mask. “I will never regret any action taken in that spirit.”

They faced off against each other for moments more, Mamoru seeing the reason in Kobai’s words, unwilling to fully accept the apology hidden there. Yet he broke the stare first. He nodded once, walking forward again, “Let’s go.” They fell into step as they jumped away, nearing Mamoru’s apartment. Kobai was right – from his perspective, everything he had done was an attempt to shield and protect Mamoru, but he didn’t need that anymore. He was fully capable of making decisions for himself, and as they landed on his rooftop he told him as much. “I deserve a hand in my own fate. Keep me informed from now on, got it?”

Kobai nodded and they powered down, then went through the open stairwell and down the few flights to Mamoru’s apartment. Once there, Mamoru found Jewel Tiara’s belt and laid it out on the table. Kobai held the gem above the belt to one side of the gems already present and a spot opened for it, as though it knew what was going on and was ready to accept the gem. Holding it for a moment longer than what Mamoru thought was necessary, Kobai finally pressed the gem into the waiting space and stood back. Now that all four gems were together, it was easy to see that the Venus crystal was different from the others – its energies more violent, its inner shine more saturated.

“What do you think that means?” Mamoru asked, motioning for Kobai’s hand as he watched the lights dance within the pyramidal crystals.

Kobai offered up his burned and blistered appendage and shrugged. Beryl, who had stayed absolutely silent throughout their trip, seemed to have no answer as well. “More powerful, perhaps?” she offered.

“But if they are the power gems of the planets, shouldn’t Jupiter’s be strongest based on size?” Mamoru asked, already nearly finished with healing Kobai’s hand.

Beryl shrugged her shoulders. “I’m not sure.”

At that moment, both Mamoru and Kobai’s watches went off in an alarm. They both twitched the hands to noon and Hanada’s face appeared. “We found it.”

___________________________



Super Awesome Space Museum//Kyra's RP's


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Title : Oh, you mean you DON'T have an Elephabulous? Shame.
Posts : 13114
Join date : 2011-09-15
Age : 30
Location : NE Texas


PostSubject: Re: [Story] Cardinal King -COMPLETE-   8th September 2013, 12:35 am

Mamoru and Moegi pressed through the lobby of the hospital, their journey difficult as the throngs of people pressed forward, yelling to be heard over the cacophony of voices that bombarded the staff. It was as close to mass hysteria as Mamoru cared ever be. Hundreds of people, pressed in and forward, wearing business suits and housecoats alike, some crying, others angry; a news team had forced themselves inside, the journalist closing her ears to hear herself over the noise, practically screaming into the microphone. The attack had been big news; that some victims woke up a small victory compared to the hundreds that lay in comatose states. The pair of them were the forward for this mission – untransformed, they were supposed to blend in as they found and discretely healed people. Hanada, Midori, and Kobai were stationed at exits, just in case, and Helios and Beryl kept watch from farther away, keeping out of site. Mamoru and Hanada aimed for the trauma unit, but as soon as they lied their way into the hall, they found they didn’t have to travel that far to find the energy-drained victims of Sailor Venus’s attacks.

“There must have been too many,” Moegi commented, not bothering to quiet his voice with the chaos around them. Mamoru nodded, already approaching a sleeping young man on a gurney. Casually as possible, he took hold of the man’s wrist and fed him energy; just a little. Just enough to kick-start normal body function. When his skin felt warm again and his breathing deepened to true sleep, he moved on, Moegi keeping watch for too-curious onlookers, be they staff or visitors. By the tenth victim, Mamoru went from worried to anxious; they were fading too fast, each person weaker than the last. There had to be another way.
 
“Chiba,” Moegi hissed urgently, and the pair of them moved on, quickly traversing the hallway to turn into an open room.

“You two! No visitors! Can’t you see this is an emergency?!” an angry nurse yelled after them, his voice rising to follow. “Get out of here!”

The trauma room they entered was in a frenzy; medical professionals swarmed bodies, equipment beeping and flashing as voices gave commands, some calm and collected, others frenzied. Heart monitors were sounding alarms everywhere, doctors were readying AED’s and syringes – but that wasn’t what they needed! Mamoru rushed forward, both hands outstretched over a victim as Golden energy poured out of him – the doctors were causing more harm than good! They were trying their best but they were only making it worse! One person, another – but then patients were flat-lining. He’d be too late!

“Chiba!” Moegi called again, his voice a barely audible warning, but he couldn’t stop now – they needed him. But he’d be too late! Unless… unless… Mamoru reached into his pocket, his fingers catching the Golden Crystal deftly. He had been reaching into it for power, drawing energy out of it to use, but what if it worked backwards? Where did the crystal get its energy from? The Earth, right? And that power was pulled through the crystal and into him for him to use; could he cut out the middle man? Could he force it from the crystal originally, without it having to pass through him? Holding it tightly in one fist, Mamoru concentrated; forcing all of his power, his healing energy, through his hand back into the crystal and out over the crowd. It hurt – much in the same way it hurt when he had healed Midori a week ago; that was how he knew it was working.

“Endymion,” she called playfully…


No. He pushed it aside, concentrating on the crystal, listening for the machines to stop their shrill alarms. His legs were going numb when the alarms gradually silenced, going from a single call to the multiple blips and beeps of a steady heartbeat. Doctors were shouting orders and murmuring and Moegi was at his elbow, “Time to go.” He cut off the stream and his arm fell to his side, deadened as well. He was able to force the crystal back into his pocket moments before the prickling sensations began. Gingerly he stepped forward, until someone called out to them. Without waiting to see what they wanted, the pair of them took off, moving through out the door and down the hall as quickly as they could without blatantly running.

They’ve stabilized,” Helios commented telepathically, “They should have a full recoveryAll of them.”

Moegi slapped Mamoru on the back, the blond smiling to himself as they turned another corner, seeing an Exit sign at the end of the hall. This, too, was lined in victims, one of which… Mamoru froze. Lying in a gurney, her eyes closed and her chest rising and falling peacefully, was Tsukino Usagi. Her hair was askew, one of her buns completely unraveled, the other loose and filled with gravel, but he’d know her anywhere. For a moment he couldn’t breathe, all of his fear for her gripping his heart and finally releasing as joy rushed up through him. She was safe.
Usako.

“Hey! You two!” the nurse from before yelled, “I’m going to need to see some I.D.!”

Moegi doubled back for him and pulled him forward, running now, much to his legs’ and heart’s remorse, towards the door. He wanted to stop him, to go back to Usako, to heal her further, wake her up, and make sure she was okay. He wanted to apologize, he wanted to hold her and promise that nothing that terrible would ever happen to her again. He never wanted to leave her side. But he knew better, and so he ran. He loved her, but going back now would only cause trouble for them both. She was safe, and that had to be enough for now. He’d get home and call the Tsukinos and tell them what he had seen – they’d pick her up and take her home, and he would see her tomorrow. They burst through the door with the nurse pounding down the hallway after them, and they jumped over the concrete wall that shielded the dumpsters from public view. The landing aggravated his nerves so much as to make him stumble, but he picked himself up and kept running, Kobai with them now. As they left the hospital behind, Mamoru glanced back, the promise of tomorrow almost too good to be true.

:

“Are you sure?”

“It was her,” Mamoru replied, a smile in his voice as he reached for the telephone receiver.

“They just let her go?” Hanada puzzled, leaning against the counter with a puzzled expression.

Midori, smiling too, replied, “Hey, they just lost their last senshi. They’re out on the ropes – maybe they’re hoping to get in our good graces! Are you sure we can’t go back and get her tonight?”

“We’d never be able to check her out properly,” Mamoru explained again, “And if we did go back and get her and take her home, her parents would know we did so illegally and I’d prefer they didn’t think I was a delinquent. Besides,” he continued, starting to dial their number, “they’re her family. They get this.” He meant the reunion. They should get to pick her up from the hospital, should be the first people she sees; as much as he wanted it to be him, this was the right thing.

“Are you sure you want to do this, Mamoru?” Kobai asked seriously. His tone made Mamoru pause, looking to him as a sign to continue. He knew it was Usako, and if he learned nothing from their conversation earlier, he knew that Kobai wouldn’t question his knowledge of that. So he was curious as to his caution; what was he getting at? Kobai, standing in Mamoru’s small kitchen, caught his eye and help it with gravity as he spoke, “What if something is wrong with her? She’s been in the MoonKingdom’s keep for a week now; do you really want her parents to see her first if something is indeed wrong? The MoonKingdom’s magic is unknown to us; they could have done a number of things to her mind that might be unsettling to the Tsukinos. Are you sure you want to give her back to them, only to take her away again should something prove wrong?”

He hesitated. He hated this. She was home, she should be safe again; he didn’t want to even consider that she wasn’t. He shouldn’t have to. It was wrong. All of this was wrong – she was at the hospital, she was alive after a week in Hell, she didn’t deserve to have anything else thrown at her! She deserved love. And her family deserved whatever time they could get with her. Even if… he swallowed, having to consider the alternative. “They would have to keep her for surveillance for a few days, right? Because she’s a missing person?”

“It depends,” Hanada replied, his knowledge gained through journalism still surprising. “They might keep her for a day for questioning, but otherwise they like to get minors back to their parents as soon as possible.”

“And if…”

Hanada finished for him, “If something’s wrong mentally, they’ll keep her for counseling.”

“I still think you should call them,” Moegi offered. “Anything is better than not knowing.”

Thinking of Shingo, and of Usagi alone in the hospital, Mamoru finished dialing. Anything was better than not knowing.

:

They had been so grateful and relieved that Mamoru was sure he had done what was right. However, as they all relaxed around his kitchen table, it became clear that Helios wasn’t entirely at ease with their situation. Standing on the countertop, he stomped the surface uneasily, tossing his head every now and again. Beryl had joined him and seemed to be speaking quietly to him, but Mamoru didn’t like the idea of being kept out of the loop yet again and so broached the subject, interrupting a story Midori was telling about his exploits during the week. “Helios, what’s wrong?”

Everyone stopped talking, glancing from him to Helios, and Midori came back down to four chair legs. “You don’t think its over yet, do you?” Hanada asked straightforwardly, voicing the uneasy feeling that gnawed at Mamoru’s stomach.

It doesn’t make sense,” Helios agreed, “If they were giving up, why didn’t they return the energy Venus stole?

“Maybe they can’t?” Midori offered, “I mean, they’re evil, maybe they don’t know how to undo stealing energy?”

“Hmm,” Hanada hummed unsatisfactorily as both he and Kobai looked away thoughtfully. “Maybe they’re thinking of another way to get the energy?” Hanada mused, his brows furrowed, “The senshi originally sent out monsters, right? Do you think this Diana would send out those monsters to gather energy again?”

“It’s an idea,” Kobai acknowledged.

“Guys, take a victory for a victory!” Midori enthused, putting his hands on a table. “You’re seeing ghosts where there aren’t any! C’mon, you agree with me, right, Yuu?”

Moegi frowned, “I want to, but something feels wrong.”

Midori rolled his eyes and crossed his arms, catching Mamoru’s eyes and raising a brow skeptically. Mamoru shrugged in return, his mind working the problem over; even while he wished he could be as confident as Midori in the finality of the night’s battle, he found it unbelievable that Diana would give up. She had lost her soldiers, true, but he knew from experience that she didn’t keep herself out of battle. “We should continue to be careful,” he said, and Midori sighed and stood to grab something out of the fridge. As soon as he moved, the moonlight streaming through the window by his desk fell across the table and Jewel Tiara’s belt buckles started to glow. He watched it carefully, tilting his head slightly, wondering if he had seen the Moon’s reflection on the pearl rather than an inner light, but no matter which direction he moved, the glow was constant. He seemed to be the only person to notice – Midori was pouring himself a drink and commenting on how paranoid they all seemed, the others were thinking on their problem, and while one word could draw their attention, instead he quietly reached forward, each hand taking one side of the belt to reconnect it.

“Mamoru!” Kobai called out warningly, but it was too late. He had connected the pearl-studded halves together. But… nothing happened. The pearls continued to glow softly, the soul gems of the senshi emitting their own light, Venus’s still shining violently on one side, but otherwise the belt behaved normally. Midori was quick to quirk a brow at Kobai as he continued to pour himself some milk.

They sat quietly for a moment, Mamoru watching the spinning lights inside the gems, until Hanada leaned forward, a suspect look in his gaze. “Could Diana—“

Usagi-chan!

Mamoru had only a moment to react to the faint and mysterious voice before he found himself on the floor, West King standing between him and the table. What in the world – “Who are you?” Kobai – West King demanded. Mamoru rolled out of his upturned chair and stood to see whom Kobai addressed, and immediately stepped forward when he did, putting one hand on West’s shoulder as a means of telling him to stand down, his eyes focused on the spectral image hovering above Usagi’s belt.

“Isn’t that one of the MoonKingdom’s messengers?” Hanada asked with alarm, transforming instantly into North King; Moegi and Midori followed suit.

“Hold on!” Mamoru commanded, his eyes locked on the ghostly cat standing on thin air above the pearl belt. He knew it, or recognized it in any case. Without delving too deeply into the memories of his past, he knew the animal was Princess Serenity’s cat – one of them, anyway; he had more experience with the white one, but had caught glimpses of this one, the black one, on occasion. Enough to know that the black cat and Serenity had been close. What was its name?

Prince Endymion,” the cat addressed, bowing its-her- head slightly, “I was not expecting to meet you.

“And just who were you expecting to meet? What do you want? Where are you communicating from?” Beryl demanded, launching herself off of the counter to buzz angrily before the cat, blocking Mamoru’s full view of her. “How are you still alive?”

“Beryl!” he rebuked, but other than the fur on its back fluffing slightly, the cat did not seem too upset. It licked a paw, its gaze moving around the table before it decided to answer, completely ignoring the small, angry fairy floating right in front of it.

I was expecting to meet Usagi-chan, a girl to whom we gave power,” the cat explained calmly, its eyes back on Mamoru’s, “to thank her for completing her mission and reclaiming the Sailor Crystals of the Guardian Senshi.”
“Sailor Crystals – does it mean soul gems?” Midori asked over the cat’s head, looking to Helios.

“So Usagi-chan was working for the MoonKingdom the entire time?” Moegi repeated with indignation. Mamoru refused to fully consider the idea, waiting for the cat to respond.

“It appears so,” Hanada replied instead, staring down the cat as he continued in a harsh tone, “but, too bad for you, her mission hasn’t been completed. These “Sailor Crystals” have not been reclaimed for the MoonKingdom – they remain in the hands of the NewGoldenKingdom, and we will not return them to you!”

“That must be what Diana is after now!” Beryl exclaimed, “She wants the Power Gems!” she redoubled her effort against the cat, “Where are you communicating from?! Is Diana so cowardly that she will not face us herself?!”

The cat’s eyes turned hard and jumped to its feet, its fur standing on end as it hissed at Beryl and declared, her voice growling, “We are not with Diana!” Her tail flicking back and forth with aggravation, the bright eyes turned to all of them as she growled again, “Do not forfeit the Sailor Crystals!” And she was gone.

“Not with Diana?” Hanada repeated thoughtfully, “but then…”

“But she had a crescent moon on her forehead,” Midori reasoned with some confusion, “Isn’t that the royal symbol of the Moon? How could she be from the Moon but not with Diana?”

What was her name? What was… “Luna!” Mamoru called, at last remembering the pet without unlocking the pain the memory of her master summoned. He put his hand forward to offer Beryl a perch; once she had taken his thumb he carefully moved her aside, positioning himself before the belt. He leaned down and called, “Luna, please come back.”

She gradually faded back in, looking threatened as she glanced around at his friends. “Where is Usagi-chan?” she asked lowly.

“She’s alive,” Mamoru replied, glad to have a solid answer. And now that the cat had returned, he hoped he’d get some solid answers for Usagi, as well. “Why did you choose her to collect the crystals?”

The cat looked away, “She was the best candidate.”

“What do you mean?” he asked, prying to get a better answer, but Luna lapsed into silence, refusing to give him a direct answer.  “Why Usagi?”

When it became completely apparent that Luna did not intend to answer his question, Hanada stepped in respectfully. Raising his hands placatingly, he asked, “I know you are not aligned with Diana, but where are you right now, Luna? Are you in Elysion? Can you help us?”

I cannot, I’m afraid.” She replied, her eyes finding Helios. “We are not in Elysion.” Looking away from him, she sat down and bowed her head. “But we wish you luck in your endeavor.” She started to fade away, and in the spur of the moment he could not think up another question to ask her. If she wouldn’t share information about Usagi’s mission and she could not give them information about Diana…

“Where are you, and how have you survived?” Beryl asked again, most of the malice out of her tone.

The cat’s ghostly outline strengthened, her tail curling as she found Beryl in the palm of his hand. “The Moon, and we did not survive. Before our death we saved our intelligences in the Moon’s main computer, just in case the past were to repeat itself, as it now does. We are holograms, and nothing more.

“We?” Mamoru breathed, his vision growing dark, everything fading but the black cat hovering above Jewel Tiara’s belt, and the golden insignia on her brow. The same insignia… we… “Serenity?” he asked, his heart not even daring to beat. He couldn’t tell if he wanted it to be true, or if he feared it; he wanted to see her, to talk to her, to bewith her, but… he’d be talking to a memory. No matter how much he wanted her, she’d be just a programmed approximation of herself, and knowing that was almost more painful than understanding that – that she was –

No,” Luna replied sharply, the denial giving him a reminder to breathe again. There was pain in her voice as she continued, glaring at him, “No, she left to help youPrince, despite our efforts to keep her safe, and now she’s — ” she choked up, her shoulders shaking once, but she kept her eyes on him. “For the sake of the innocents, we wish you luck in your endeavor, Prince.

When she disappeared this time, he didn’t try to call her back.

“It wasn’t your fault,” Kobai stated, his transformation fading away. Deftly he unhooked the belt buckle, laying the wide strip of stiffened fabric flat on the table. “The Princess came knowing what she would face.”

He nodded, but knew it was true, his mind clutching the cat’s accusation closely; he knew it was his fault. If he had been paying more attention, if he had reacted faster, if he hadn’t taken on Diana alone, if he had tried harder to broker a peace between their kingdoms – Serenity might have… He nodded again, not wanting to talk about it or listen to their thoughts about it. They hadn’t been there, they didn’t know what happened. He single-handedly rightened his chair and took a seat, staring blankly at the belt, and offered another subject for them to talk about. “If she’s a hologram projecting from the Moon, it could explain the belt and its abilities. The adornments could be computer hardware.”

Perhaps the signal from the moonlight activated the cells and started the transmission based on the completion of the belt…” Helios mused, gliding to the table and examining the belt up close. He had done it before on a number of occasions; Mamoru had walked in on him examining the belt several times throughout the last week; it was interesting to hear the Unisus’s thoughts, but they didn’t completely hold his attention. “Lunar technologies would explain how the belt can safely contain the senshi’s soul gems.”

“She called them ‘Sailor Crystals’,” Hanada mused, taking his seat beside Mamoru, “Is the phrase synonymous with Power or Soul Gems, or is there a different connotation involved?”

Beryl released her hold on his thumb, her little face turned towards him as she offered her opinion, “Synonymous, I believe; they fit the description of what I’ve read in our texts.”

“My question is about the longevity of the transmission,” Moegi commented, crossing his arms as he took his seat, “It’s been thousands of years, right? How could technology last that long?”

“The Moon is dead,” Hanada replied, resting his elbow on the back of his chair, “There wouldn’t be much of anything to erode the computer systems. And if it were solar powered I don’t see a reason why it couldn’t continue.”

“But it is dead,” Kobai repeated, making a point of the last word, “so it wouldn’t have any protection from magnetic Solar storms; any technological devices on the Moon should be long gone by now, unless there are protections there that outlived the Lunar royalty. From my understanding of magic,” Kobai stopped, looking to Beryl as if to request her confirmation, “once the caster dies the enchantment dies with him, or herin this case.”

Beryl shrugged noncommittally, “That’s how it’s supposed to work…” she trailed off, looking away from Mamoru as though a little embarrassed. She jumped from his palm and landed by Helios. “But that’s magic as we know it.”

Regrettably, the Moon has usually been much more technologically advanced than we,” Helios commented, pawing at the table, “In part due to their longevity. They might have found a way to bypass many things… but the mysteries of the Moon Kingdom are not of our current concern. It is apparent from her warnings that the Lunar messenger believes Diana to still be a threat to Earth and her people. We need to be careful and keep up our guard.

“Do you think she’ll come after the soul gems?” Hanada asked, though it was apparent the thought was what he believed.

“It would be the quickest way to her goals,” Beryl agreed, adding, “Those gems or the Golden Crystal.”

“Then we shouldn’t keep them in the same spot,” Moegi declared, standing and carefully taking the belt.

“The belt belongs to Usagi,” Mamoru stated. It was her belt, her responsibility, her mystery; maybe Luna would tell her what she would not share with them, and give Usagi a clue as to why she was chosen and her role in this story. Was it over, now that the gems were collected? Could she return to a normal life? What was she to do with the gems?
“Would you return it to her and risk her safety?” Kobai invited, staring forward with one hand resting on the table. “Entice Diana into attacking her family, or wherever else she might store the gems?”

“It’s part of her transformation,” Mamoru argued, “It should disappear to wherever our masks and uniforms go. It would be safe there, and Diana shouldn’t be able to get her hands on it.”

“But if it were part of her Jewel Tiara outfit, wouldn’t it have already disappeared?” Hanada countered.

“It’s Lunar technology,” Midori defended, “So who knows if it operates under the same rules? It might disappear when she gets it again. She might even still be technically transformed, we don’t know!” He nodded towards Mamoru, his elbows casually planted on the counter behind him. “I think Mamoru’s right; it’s Usagi’s and it should be returned to her.”

While he didn’t know if it was what Midori really believed or if the brunet was just being loyal in an attempt to make up for before, Mamoru appreciated being backed. They both looked to Moegi, who held on to the belt as he asked Helios, “Would it be a bad move to leave it here?”

Helios paused, considering, his red-eyes staring at Mamoru. Mamoru stared back, unwilling to back off on this. “If it makes you feel better,” he bartered, “I won’t give it back to her until we decide it’s the best thing to do.”

The unisus nodded, though not happily. “Diana doesn’t know where this apartment is. I’ll watch over it and keep my senses open to any rifts between Elysion and Earth. It can stay here for a time.

 
The meeting ended not long after, and Mamoru soon went to bed. With so many developments that night – sorting things out with Midori, fighting Venus, healing hospital victims, finding Usako, and gaining information from Luna – it took him no time to fall asleep, a smile on his lips at the thought of seeing Usagi again the next day. He’d find her, whether she were at home or in the hospital, and make sure she was okay. Maybe he’d bring her a movie… and ice cream…

___________________________



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PostSubject: Re: [Story] Cardinal King -COMPLETE-   8th September 2013, 12:36 am

The next morning Mamoru sat on his couch, eating cereal with Helios as they avidly watched the news. He typically enjoyed breakfast at his kitchen table, but the content of the bulletins was too pertinent to only listen to; he had to watch. And while he knew that the channels would be talking about the events of the previous night all day, he was too impatient to wait any longer than necessary. He wanted to know about the patients in the hospital. Were they being released, relocated, or kept for further surveillance? Though his ears were hanging on the reporter’s and news anchors words about the hospital, the general program was very interesting.
 
Every fifteen minutes or so they’d have a “News Update” to catch up those who had slept in on Saturday morning; by noon, he figured everyone in Tokyo, and maybe even more of Japan, would know of the strange events of the night. Or, rather, how eye-witnesses remembered the events. The update usually sounded like a variation of: “For those of you just tuning in, this is Channel ___ News with an important news break. Last night the streets of Tokyo were set upon by a mysterious malevolent force that left our city pockmarked and our citizens unconscious. While authorities have not released any information regarding the cause of the attack or its sudden end, they advise those with missing family members contact this emergency number:” Once the hotline number faded from the screen, they typically returned to the streets, where their reporters were either reporting live with footage of the small craters Venus’s attack left in the pavement and on the buildings, interviewing eye-witnesses about what they had seen, or sharing updates from the crisis center (which housed the volunteers that ran the hotline and could supposedly connect loved ones with which hospital their missing family member could be found), or they would show last night’s coverage of the overcrowded and chaotic hospital waiting rooms (Mamoru thought he spotted the back of Moegi’s head in one of the shots), or interviews with politicians, conspiracy-theorists, college professors, paranormal specialists, or any other professional they thought might be useful in explaining the strange events of the previous nights.
 
Some of the eye-witness accounts were actually pretty good – a flying girl in an orange sailor uniform shot lasers out of her fingers at random people while laughing, or lasers hit people and they fell to the ground; one even said that he saw four figures jump from the street to the roof – but then other accounts were so far off Mamoru figured the true events would be lost in all of the incredible drivel other witnesses described. A giant alien was slinking through the streets, grabbing people with its tentacles and flinging them into other streets, for example. Or men in black suits wielding ray guns were shooting down nonbelievers. Some of the stories made Mamoru smile at their creativity, as Helios groaned about the dependability of mobs during a crisis to provide inaccurate information.
 
About once an hour, or sooner if something useful came up, Hanada would update them on internet forum chatter via communicator. Midori, a little upset that the arcade and fruit parlor were closed for the day, had originally scoffed at the necessity for such updates, but quieted soon enough when Hanada reminded him that it was through his forums that he had uncovered information about “Evening Star”, Cardinal King, and had found that information on Midori’s mother; after that, any time Hanada referred to Midori he would call him by his first name, “Nero”, in an attempt to irritate the brunet, but he just shrugged it off. Thus far, only a handful of ‘true believers’ on his forums had connected the attack to them, throwing out (admittedly correct) theories that tied this incident to the incident with the unexplained black out last week and the video-rental riots weeks before. Some jumped on board with that eye witness’s account of four figures jumping to the rooftop, though they assumed that it was really just Evening Star and the witness had been mistaken about there being four of them. Other than that, the theories were just as wild online as those on the television.
 
Until someone’s camcorder video suddenly went public at 10:00.
 
It was blurry, dark, and unfocused, but the shaky image showed bright yellow lines streaking down from the sky and hitting people, making them fall. The voice of the man who shot the video just kept repeating ,“Oh god, oh god!” as he turned the camera up and caught a glimpse of Venus’s outline before she teleported away. After that it showed people on the ground, groaning or unconscious, and the news suddenly had enough information to fill the entire weekend with speculation as to the night’s true events.
 
At exactly noon, two hours after the start of the frenzied theories started flying and experts started debating, Mamoru gave up on the news for providing information about the victims. Putting his mug on the coffee table, he stood, turning to Helios as he excused himself. “I’m going to check on Usagi.”
 
You should take someone with you as backup,” Helios recommended, jumping up and coasting to follow him into the kitchen as he slid out of his slippers and into his shoes. As Mamoru paused to shoot him a critical gaze – Helios knew he’d been waiting all morning for news about her – the white Pegasus cocked and shook his head, “It wouldn’t take too long for someone to meet you. You heard the implications of the Lunar Messenger – we’re not out of the woods just yet.” Mamoru turned back to the door, making sure his wallet and keys were on him, and reached for the doorknob. Helios flew ahead of him, hovering with an annoyed look, “Fine. I’ll go with you. I’ll be the stuffed toy again. But put a bow on me and we’re through.” He landed on Mamoru’s shoulder, draping across it as he had across Usagi’s at the masquerade months ago. Trying to hide a smile, Mamoru left his apartment, locking the door behind him, and descended the stairs.
 
Turning in the stairwell on the second floor, he nearly ran into someone on their way up. “Excuse—“ they both said as one, and then Midori laughed and slugged Mamoru on the shoulder opposite Helios. “Hey! I was just coming up to hang out! They still won’t open the arcade and I’m bored stupid over here. My cousin is having her wedding reception at my place and I don’t want to touch that craziness with a ten foot pole.”
 
Mamoru, smiling, shook his head, “Shouldn’t you be there? I thought you were on good terms with your cousin?” he asked, remembering that she was the reason Midori had been at the bridal store the day he first transformed.
 
He shrugged, “I am – we are, but that doesn’t say anything about the rest of that side of my family. And the manse is just a mess right now with caterers and florists and that wedding planner,” he grimaced and shuddered theatrically. “So, you heading out?” he asked, turning around on the stairs.
 
“Yeah,” Mamoru answered easily, internally marveling at how easy it was to slide back into how it had been between them over a week ago, before they had fought. There were no hard feelings, just that little reminder that Midori had kept secrets from him floating around the back of his mind. “I was going to visit Usako—“ he caught himself and changed the nickname immediately, “-gi-chan –“ he knew that cover’d never work; he typically referred to her as ‘Tsukino’ or ‘Odango,’ but he continued despite Midori’s sly grin, “in the hospital.”
 
“Can I come, too,” Midori asked in smooth, teasing voice, “Or would I be interrupting something?”
 
Mamoru stepped around him, heading farther down the stairs. “You can come so long as you keep your mouth shut.”
 

 
When they arrived at the hospital they found it much less crowded than the night before. Notices were posted on the wall about visitation hours, the number for the volunteer emergency hotline with instructions to call there to find loved ones before inquiring at the front desk, and a general sign that proclaimed that there had been no loss of life following the events of the night before, a sign probably intended to calm worried families so that they could follow the hotline instructions without that terrible worry over their heads. He and Midori were two of twenty in the waiting room; when Mamoru approached the desk and asked to visit Tsukino Usagi, the nurse took their names and they were told to wait a moment. They took seats in a small row of chairs and Midori picked up a magazine and started flipping through it casually.
 
He had only gotten past page ten when the door opened and a nurse called their names. His stomach started doing flips as they followed the older woman into an elevator and ascended to the fourth floor. As they walked down the corridor his butterflies were practically out of control; he started worrying his hands in an attempt to calm himself, or distract his nerves from the fluttering sensation, but when the woman stopped by a door and knocked softly, it was all he could do to keep himself breathing properly. Midori snickered and Mamoru snapped out of it, sending his amused friend a very unamused glance as the door opened to reveal a tall woman with very long and curly purple hair, who looked at him curiously.
 
“Mrs. Tsukino,” Mamoru assumed, bowing slightly. “I’m—“
 
“You must be Chiba Mamoru!” the woman replied, her smiling voice filled with tired relief mixed with the faintest twinge of worry. She reached for him, gently taking his hand in hers. Her smile was soft and genuine. “Thank you,” she said, her gratitude the most sincere he had ever heard. “The doctors say Usagi-chan is fine; she hasn’t woken up yet but the case worker for last night says that’s normal for what happened,” she chuckled, her laughter an attempt to return to normality as she invited him into the small hospital room. While the walls were pale and barren, the large stuffed bunny made the instruments poised about the bed look a little less sinister. Tucked into the blankets, her undone blonde hair flat on the pillow, was Usagi, sleeping soundly. She really was okay. His gut began to unclench as he approached hesitantly, his eyes flicking to her father, standing protectively by the head of her bed.
 
“Hey, Mamoru-kun,” Shingo greeted from one of the chairs, playing away at a hand-held video game, “I wondered when you’d show up.”
 
“Shingo,” he replied in a way of quick greeting, stopping just in front of her bed, where Midori joined him.
 
“Chiba Mamoru,” her father addressed, and he subconsciously stood straighter. The man seemed flustered as he said, “Thank you for finding our daughter.”
 
“Mr. Tsukino – “ he started, not exactly sure what to say.
 
“This in no way means that I give you my blessing!” the man finished with an angry flare, “Usagi is not old enough to be dating anyone, and she’s grounded for three years!”
 
“Kenji!” her mother sharply addressed, and the man shut his mouth and crossed his arms, glaring at Mamoru from across the bed. If this wasn’t the single most embarrassing moment of his life, it was definitely up there. He fought hard against the blush creeping across his cheeks, but he felt the attempt was only making him redder, a hunch validated by Midori’s smirk beside him. How was he supposed to respond to that? Had they even technically been dating, before? Just thinking about it – thinking about her – kept the glow in his cheeks and resummoned the butterflies in his stomach, even as a rock seemed to solidify in his gut. Hanging out at the Crown, teasing her until she pouted, walking her home at night… that kiss at the masquerade… the other, on Tokyo Tower. The memories made his pulse quicken in nervous pleasure, but his heart was torn. He felt guilty, like there was some force tearing at him, pulling him in different directions. He really liked Usagi, maybe even… but he had loved Serenity… was being with Usagi now a betrayal to her? And was he really being fair to Usagi in any of this?
 
He didn’t want to think about it. Every part of him rebelled against trying to sort out his heart, examining who he was as Endymion, specifically because it was so wrapped up in Serenity and it hurt too much to think about her. But didn’t he owe it to Usagi to figure it out? She deserved someone who knew who he was and could give her all of himself; ever since she figured out he was Cardinal King he thought he’d be able to do that with her, but now… now everything was messed up. Now he was Prince Endymion, and now there was always Serenity. Even looking at Usagi now had his vision swimming as it tried to overlay memories of the Moon Princess onto her, envisioning her hair silver instead of gold; had he always been doing that? Had he only been attracted to Usagi because he had been subconsciously connecting her to Serenity?
 
God he was messed up.
 
“So her vitals and everything have been normal?” Midori asked, sounding far away.
 
He wasn’t Endymion anymore. That was over – that was then, thousands of years ago. This was now. He was Chiba Mamoru, a second year student at Azabu High School. He played soccer and was a less-than-active member of the physics club. He had great friends that he would fight and die for, and a talking Pegasus was his roommate. At night he transformed into Cardinal King to save the world from the Moon Kingdom, and soon they would defeat Diana once and for all, earning their peace. That he was Prince Endymion was not a factor – all it did was give him a tool to use to bring about the next Golden Age. He was Mamoru Chiba. And he liked Usagi Tsukino, and he could like her because this was his life. He shouldn’t feel guilty about it. He liked her, he liked being around her, he wanted to make her happy, she made him want to be a better person. He liked Usagi.
 
This was his life.
 
He forced it back, pushed it down, repeating his thoughts until he had the insecure notions buried deep, no longer bubbling at the surface when he looked at her. He forced himself to see only Usagi, repeating until he was almost confident in it. I am not Endymion, I am Chiba Mamoru. An unsteady peace settled within him, and shakily he found himself following Midori as the brunet backed away from the hospital bed. Midori chuckled and plucked Helios off of Mamoru’s shoulder in response to some remark made by Shingo; it took him a moment to activate his comprehension.
 
“Well, she named it Luna and Mamoru thought she’d like it to keep her company; would you mind if we left it?”
 
“Oh! How nice of you!” Usagi’s mother exclaimed, accepting the offered “toy”, “I’m sure she’ll love waking up to it! I’ll tell her you two came by!” She waved, and Midori waved back. Mamoru waved as well – but since when were they leaving? He followed Midori out, wondering what had happened that made them have to leave, but they were barely down the hallway when Midori turned to him.
 
“You okay, man?” he asked sincerely.
 
“Yeah, why?” Mamoru replied, the reply made more out of habit than after actual consideration. But, really, now he did feel a little bit better. Finally making the decision to really bury Endymion made him feel lighter, a little more at home in his own skin.
 
“You blanked out back there.”
 
Mamoru winced – way to look like a spaz.
 
“I covered for you,” Midori continued, “You can thank me later. Anyway, Helios is going to stay with her and see what he can find out about her condition; he said he’d contact us when she wakes up. But I think it’s odd that she’s still unconscious, you know? I mean you healed me and I woke up from near death just minutes later, practically fully functioning. I kinda want to look into other cases from last night.”
 
“You think it might be more of an aftereffect of her time with Diana than the fight against Venus?” Mamoru clarified, not too pleased with the likeliness of the idea, Kobai’s words last night setting a shiver in his spine, and he was glad that Helios had apparently decided to stay and check things out for him.
 
“We’ll see what we can find out. Or what Hanada can find out – he’s got ‘sources’, right?”
 

 
Turned out Hanada’s sources revealed that most of the knock-outs from Friday night woke up sometime early Saturday morning, and while some were still weak most were conscious and able to talk. They were kept for surveillance and debriefing, each person describing in their own words what had happened, but on the whole their eye-witness reports were about as valid as those first reported on television on Saturday morning. By Saturday night patients were being released, and Sunday afternoon had all but the oldest victims gone from the hospital.
 
But not Usagi.
 
Someone was always by her side, whether it was her mother, father, brother, Mamoru, or her friend, Naru, but while her companions changed shifts, her condition stayed constant: sleeping, dreaming, but never waking. Each day her room filled with flowers, cards, balloons, and stuffed animals to keep her company and remind her that she was missed. After a time, Mamoru built up the courage to hold her hand while someone was in the room with him, ignoring their curious looks. He concentrated on sending her energy, silently calling for her to come back, but with the end of every failed night his spirit fell a little more, the smallest of thoughts giving life to the fear no one wanted to voice: what if it were permanent?
 
Thursday afternoon found Mamoru alone with Usagi; Ikuko had excused herself earlier in the afternoon, soon after his arrival, to go home and get some rest. As soon as she left he started feeding Usagi more energy, willing the power to find something, anything broken inside of her and fix it. Helios kept him company – the unisus had remained by her side diligently, as alert for any changes in her as he was for disturbances made by Diana or her monsters. So far, nothing on either front. Mamoru was exhausted, discouraged, and anxious; he hadn’t had a full night’s sleep since Saturday, hadn’t had an appetite since Sunday, and hadn’t been able to concentrate on anything other than Usagi’s condition or Diana’s plans since Tuesday. Something needed to happen, good or bad, sometime soon, or else he might really lose it.
 
And despite the resolution he had made the other day in this very room, he continued to have doubts about himself and whether he could actually exist as only Mamoru, and not Endymion. Thinking about it gave him headaches – this was Endymion’s war, but he, Mamoru, was fighting it. Endymion’s crystal, but his crystal, too. They were different, separated by millennia, but they were also the same, right? Just with different life goals and… loves. But who was Endymion without Serenity? How could accept that part of him into his life and still be true to his feelings for Usagi?
 
He would have to let Serenity go.
 
But he can’t! His heart thundered in his chest, physically rebelling against even the idea of releasing her. She wasn’t dead! … She was dead. And he couldn’t save her. And it was his fault that she had been there. He might as well have killed Serenity himself, and now… now he was sitting in another girl’s room, desperately hoping she’d wake up. ‘Is you love so fickle, prince?
 
“You’re very warm,” a light, froggy voice commented. Disbelieving his ears, Mamoru looked up, wide-eyed, at the sleepy-looking Usagi who offered him a smile as she watched him from her propped pillows. She cleared her throat, “It’s nice.”
 
“Usako!” he exclaimed, jumping to his feet, his eyes on hers as he prayed he wasn’t hallucinating. She looked back at him with some amount of confusion, but with a nod from Helios he knew he wasn’t hallucinating. “Are-?” He had so many question to ask her, but shouldn’t he call in med staff to make sure she was alright? He glanced over at her vitals and everything looked normal enough, so he chanced continuing, “Are you alright? How do you feel?”
 
Her brows furrowed, as though really considering the question, “I’m tired, and a little… foggy, but I think I’m okay.” She smiled then, friendly but different than before, and her eyes traveled the room, alighting on all the gifts surrounding her. She was happy, but still… different.  “Are all of these for me?” she asked.
 
He smiled back at her – after everything she had been through, asking about the treats and gifts first was just like her. “All of them. Mostly from classmates.”
 
“That’s nice of them!” she grinned, and her eyes came back to him. She cocked her head to the side slightly as she considered him, her slight brows furrowing once again, as she slowly spoke. “You look familiar…”
 
His hope fell.
 
Amnesia? He stood straighter, more formally. He didn’t want to confuse her so quickly with overfamiliarity. Amnesia was an outcome he should have considered; either as a mental safeguard against what had happened to her, or as a result of what Diana could have done, yet the thought hadn’t crossed his mind. Amnesia. But you look familiar. Was this the universe’s way of solving his problem for him? Usagi didn’t remember him, so she didn’t remember her time as Jewel Tiara, or her time with the Moon Kingdom in Elysion. She could make a clean break from all of this, and from him. She could go back to being an ordinary girl. And he… she would be safe, and that would be enough for him.
 
“Just one of those faces, I suppose,” he replied, his heart in his shoes.
 
“No,” she replied almost immediately, still considering him closely, “I know you, and you’re mean for not telling me who you are,” she teased, her voice laced with false hurt.
 
The door opened to admit a medical team that rushed into the room, checking Usagi’s vitals, her charts, starting an examination and questioning her; Mamoru was practically pushed out of the room to keep doctor-patient confidentiality. As he stood in the hallway, watching through the small window as Usagi looked away from him and up at one of the doctors, he knew two things: one, he shouldn’t come back. She was safe, she was awake, she was free from this dangerous double life fighting monsters. Two, he would come back. Maybe not right away, maybe not until the Moon Kingdom threat had been absolved and his mind put into order, but he would come back to her, because she was Usagi, and he couldn’t imagine life without her.
 

 
That night he slept well, despite his strange dreams. He went to school and could actually concentrate during classes. Usagi was awake; now he only had to worry about Diana and her future scheme. Luna was certain that Diana hadn’t given up, and they would continue operating with that in mind. If only they could get some information, some idea about what was happening in Elysion. Did she have an army? Had she been able to awaken their Queen? When would they strike? Between classes, Mamoru made another trip to the school’s library to check out more astronomy books, to see if there were some special astronomical dates approaching, specifically those with a lunar bend to them, but came up empty handed. He decided to head to the Tokyo Library after school to see what he could come up with, maybe visit the local observatory for their take on it if his research came up dry.
 
He was on his way to the library when his watch went off. Ducking into an alley, he answered it, finding Kobai on the other end. “Stay where you are! Moegi and Hanada are coming for you.”
 
“What’s wrong?!” Mamoru demanded, adrenaline rushing in as he automatically looked skyward for a threat like Venus. “Is it an attack?!”
 
“She’s got the crystals.”
 
What?!
 
“She used Midori – he’s pretty banged up, but we don’t know where she went. Watch out! And whatever you do, don’t go anywhere with her!”
 
“With whom?!” Diana? Why would he go anywhere with Diana?!
 

A voice coughed in the background, and Kobai turned the watch’s screen to a Midori, whose face was partially covered with a deep purple bruise, “Usagi,” he coughed.

___________________________



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Location : NE Texas


PostSubject: Re: [Story] Cardinal King -COMPLETE-   14th September 2013, 11:46 am

“What did he mean?!” Mamoru demanded as he, Moegi and Hanada flew over Tokyo streets, running and leaping over rooftops as they tore across town as quickly as they could. They were transformed, ready to fight in case an enemy should show; before them flew Beryl on point, Helios was behind. “Usagi’s still in the hospital!”
 
“Not anymore, apparently!” Moegi replied in a growl, his attention more on their surroundings than on Mamoru’s questions.
 
I found Midori barely conscious on your kitchen floor,” Helios informed, “He was trying to use the communicator, but his fingers are swollen, possibly broken, and he couldn’t work the dial. Jewel Tiara’s belt was gone; he kept calling “Usagi”. After alerting Kobai I rushed back to the hospital and her room was empty.
 
“You were supposed to be there with her!” Mamoru furiously accused, his chest tight with anger at his guardian and worry for both Usagi and Midori – what had happened?! He thought they had an understanding! Helios would watch over her until she was fully recovered!
 
There was a disturbance in energy levels earlier in the afternoon and I went to investigate. She was sleeping soundly when I left and her mother was there so I didn’t see a problem!” Helios defended.
 
“What was the disturbance?” Hanada asked, cutting off Mamoru’s heated reply. How could Helios just leave like that, without telling anyone?! Usagi was awake, but they didn’t know about her true status – what if her memories started coming back? What if only the initial Jewel Tiara ones, her need to find the crystals and keep them safe, returned? She might not even remember that they were allies and have attacked Midori thinking him a threat – all things that could have been prevented if Helios had stayed at the hospital, or at least told him that he was leaving! Now she could be anywhere, alone and uncertain – perhaps there was a way for Luna to contact her to tell her what was going on, but with no moon in the sky that was a slim chance!
 
They arrived at his place, powered down, and rushed down the few flights of stairs until they reached his floor. He threw open the door and could barely recognize the place. The kitchen was in shambles: plates broken, cabinet doors askew, the table thrown into the living room, a chair lay in pieces on the floor. Without pausing, he scanned the area and hurried over to the couch where Kobai had put Midori, immediately calling up the energy to heal him. He looked bad – his face was swollen and bruised, a few of his fingers broken, his lips were split, but even against the full array of wounds, his expression looked the most hurt. “What happened?” Mamoru asked as he concentrated first on the bruised ribs. “Is Usagi alright?’
 
“She found me,” Midori began, his green eyes staring at Mamoru as if asking for forgiveness. “I was walking to Crown and she found me. She seemed like herself, she smiled and joked about hospital food, and then asked if I could give her back her belt. You had said that you wanted to give it back to her, that it was hers, and she seemed normal – she really did! And her eyes, there was something strange about them, but you had said that the belt was hers and she could have it so I took her back here. She said you wouldn’t mind, that she was looking for you but hadn’t seen you – she really seemed normal!
 
“But as soon as I used the spare key to open the door and we came inside, something changed. She threw me against the wall and grabbed the belt, saying something about the Greatness of the Moon Kingdom. That’s what I heard, I’m not making it up. I tried to stop her but she was too strong – we fought, I lost, and she disappeared into thin air. She’s with them, Mamoru. She’s fighting for the Moon Kingdom.”
 
He didn’t want to think about it now, so he pushed it aside, choosing not to have heard, or pretend to himself that he hadn’t. Usagi wasn’t ‘with them’; she would never be with them. Not willingly. Diana had found a way to kidnap her, or replace her with a double – she wasn’t with them, and that was as far as he’d let himself take it. He had to concentrate on healing Midori.
 
“They’ve got the senshi’s power gems,” Hanada repeated, speaking quickly, “This was Diana’s plan, to use Usagi to get the gems. How quickly do you think she’ll put them to use?”
 
Diana’s plan, not Usagi’s. Midori’s wrist needed more attention.
 
“I don’t know!” Beryl replied, her tiny voice frantic somewhere to his left, “I don’t know how their magic works! They might need to build an extraction system, or she could be draining them as we speak!”
 
‘Them’ as in the power gems, not Usagi’s soul.
 
“We need to get to Elysion, now!” Moegi turned to Helios, “How do we get there?! How do we get in?”
 
I… I’m not entirely sure how to get there from here. My movement is directly between the dimensions, but I cannot take you through there. If we knew where its old location was we could unlock the door to the dimension, but the world has changed so much since then -
 
“I think I may know where the capital used to be,” Kobai broke in, “but we’d need a plane.”
 
“I’ve got that,” Midori announced, coughing minimally, and as the others turned to start hastily planning their departure. Midori grasped Mamoru’s wrist with his unbroken hand. “I’m sorry.”
 
“About what?” Mamoru replied, his eyes on Midori’s cheek as he finished knitting together the broken arteries in his face. He stood when he finished, offering a hand to pull Midori off the couch. “We’ve got an evil Queen to defeat.”
 

 
Friday evening found them all on one of Midori’s private jets, flying west out of Tokyo. The cabin was sealed off at Midori’s request; after seating them and serving a light dinner, the flight attendant excused herself to sit at the front of the plane, with the pilots, and closed sound-proofed door behind her. Typically this plane was used for Midori’s mother’s business, so hastily put together flights with private meetings in the cabin were not new to the plane’s crew, Midori had explained. They ate mostly in silence, calming nerves and settling themselves as they watched the world pass beneath them. Before too long they were flying over the Sea of Japan, the sun setting behind them creating wonderful colors beneath them; by the time the sun had set, they were passing over South Korea. It would be a long flight, one that… Mamoru looked around the cabin at his friends, wondering when, if ever, he’d see them so calm again.
 
Hanada, his dark blonde curly hair pulled back in a low ponytail, leaned over his tray, writing furiously in a large yellow legal pad. Mamoru smiled – working on another news story, even now. The blonde wore his typical gray scarf over a blue and white horizontal striped shirt, black vest and jeans, not unlike the outfit he wore the first time he transformed into North King, several months ago. His pendant of Zoisite hung over his shirt, swaying back and forth as he wrote. He had needed only minutes to explain the situation to his parents – barely ten elapsed between his entering his apartment in his school uniform and exiting his current clothes, carrying a small overnight bag to fit the cover story he had concocted.
 
Moegi had taken a bit longer than that; his parents wanted all the details of the trip, not only where he was going and with whom, but also of what sort of impact it would have on his college applications or resumes. According to them, Midori, whose family they admired, was just taking some friends on a little trip; Yuu assured them that he would be shadowing some very important people while he was away. Now the blond was staring out his window, looking at home in his black slacks and white shirt and tie, the sleeves rolled up past his elbows. His expression was guarded, but Mamoru easily read him. He was determined, but questioning, worried about something. His family? The life he could be leaving behind? Their future? That was probably on everyone’s minds, well… everyone except, maybe, Midori.
 
The brunet napped in his seat with his feet propped up in his window sill, snoring softly with his empty plate in his lap. Mamoru could help shaking his head, grinning. If they were keeping score, Midori was at least on his second life – well, technically third, if the Golden Age counted in the tally – and still he gave everything his all. He lived with his heart on his sleeve and unshakable, even overconfident hope in his heart, an easy grin and a joke always at the ready. Of all of them, he came off as the least worried about the outcome of the upcoming fight, and Mamoru both enjoyed and felt he didn’t deserve that confidence.
 
And finally, Kobai, who caught his gaze and held it with his silver-gray eyes. He seemed to know what Mamoru was thinking, understand, and accept it, all in one gaze. Kobai was the late-comer to their group; he came in and immediately accepted and added on to a lie that they had thought was truth, all in the attempt to keep Mamoru safe. His actions had led, maybe not directly, to Usagi’s kidnapping, and of the group that had known the truth, he seemed the least apologetic about hiding the truth from him. He was stubborn and came off as arrogant sometimes, but Mamoru had grown to appreciate and even want the calming presence that the Evening Star brought with him. It gave him clarity, even as it made him second-guess his own decisions. He could trust Kobai to do what was needed, and to fight him when his decisions weren’t the best. Kobai was reliable, a natural leader, and despite it all, Mamoru was glad he was there.
 
They would make it back.
 
“Iraq, huh?” Midori asked, suddenly awake, his eyes looking over at Kobai. His question caught both Moegi and Hanada’s attention; they all looked to Kobai for his reasoning, even Helios and Beryl perked up from their quiet meeting in the seat beside Yuu.
 
“It makes the most sense Archaeologically and mythologically,” Kobai explained, “The ancient city of Babylon, located in modern-day Hillah, Iraq, was an ancient seat of power for the old world. A center of knowledge and learning, located in Mesopotamia, the Fertile Crescent, both Babylon and Babylonia have loose connections to the myth of Endymion, as the Prince, the Astronomer, and the Shepherd. When Elysion disappeared, it would make sense that the Prince of the Golden Kingdom live on in his subjects minds, inevitably turning into legends and then to myth. It’s only an educated guess, but I feel strongly about it.”
 
“It’s stronger than anything else we can come up with,” Moegi replied, “And if it’s wrong –“
 
“It won’t be wrong,” Midori interrupted, “Kobai’s been looking this stuff up for weeks now and he’s a history buff; I trust his judgment. Plus,” he turned to Kobai, “You’re originally from that general area, right?”
 
“More or less,” Kobai shrugged. “I’m having a cousin meet us at the airport to take us to Hillah. There is construction going on in the area so I’m guessing it shouldn’t be too hard to get into the ruins.”
 
“And once we’re there?” Moegi prompted, looking to Helios.
 
We’ll use your powers to open a portal into Elysion,” the unisus supplied, garnet eyes shining.
 
“And then steal the crystals and take down Diana before she can awaken the Queen, or take down the Queen before she amasses power, or whatever, and save the world,” Midori finished, putting his hands lazily behind his head and shrugging, “Easy enough.”
 
“We’ll find Usagi, too,” Hanada added, catching Mamoru’s attention as he confidently nodded his head. “With Diana gone, I’m sure whatever warped her will be lifted, and she’ll return to the Usagi we know.”
 
Mamoru smiled back at him, nodding in return, but deep down he wondered if Usagi would ever truly be the same again. She’d been kidnapped by the Moon Kingdom, then used to deliver the crystals to them, going against her very mission as Jewel Tiara. To his mind came the memory of one of the nightmares of the previous week, where Usagi’s flesh melted off her bones and she screamed; he shuddered. Had that been a vision, rather than a dream? Was the Usagi he had spoken with in the hospital nothing but a copy, the real Usagi having died back then? … like her… he pushed the silver haired memory aside roughly, focusing instead on his friends, and then wondering suddenly if he would be causing their deaths yet again, leading them now to their doom on the very battlefield they had originally died on.
 
The truth was that Mamoru still wasn’t ready. He hadn’t found a way to turn the Golden Crystal’s healing energy into an attack powerful enough to subdue Diana, so what were the real chances that they would prevail here? He was in no mental position to fight, either; he was worried about Usagi, angry at Helios, afraid for his friends, despairing about his ineptness, and the thought of returning to the battlefield where he had lost Serenity threatened to undue him before they ever reached their destination. They were returning to Elysion, returning to Endymion’s home, his home, and he was nowhere near prepared, but he had to pretend to be else they really would suffer. The thoughts were driving him dizzy.
 
Yet, despite his inner turmoil, Mamoru felt himself growing tired, and quickly falling asleep.
 

 
Little more than nine hours later, they landed. It was still in the middle of the night in Tokyo, but in Iraq, the night was still young. Mamoru awoke refreshed but confused for having been able to sleep so soundly on the eve of what could be the greatest battle ever fought for Earth when lately sleeping had come without much luck for him, but then he supposed falling asleep had been more like passing out than really drifting off. His body had probably had enough and taken over for him. The plane taxied on the runway, but when the stewardess came out to help them with their bags, she was politely dismissed. They wouldn’t need a change of clothing or toothbrush where they were going. As they descended the stairs to the tarmac, Hanada stayed behind, giving the woman instructions about his legal pad, while Midori talked to the pilots about return times. Mamoru wondered what, exactly, he told them.
 
Outside the small airport, Kobai’s cousin waited for them with a small white van. Kobai sat up front, the rest of them piled in back, settling in for another hour-long drive from Bagdad to Hillah. Helios and Beryl flew overhead, unseen in the darkness as they watched for any incoming threats. The four in back rode in relative silence while Kobai talked casually with his cousin; Hanada suggested catching another hour of sleep, but Mamoru wasn’t tired, so he took to relaxing and listening.
 
It was interesting to eavesdrop on a conversation in another language; he hadn’t heard much of any language other than Japanese and English, with a touch of Korean, so listening to fluent Arabic was a welcome puzzle for his mind to work on, rather than focusing on what lay ahead for them. He picked up on some of the verb conjugations quickly, and general sentence structures; he used to think that being able to understand and even copy languages had been a quirky natural talent, but now he wondered if he was so easily able to catch speech patterns because, as Endymion, he had known many of the languages, or their predecessors, personally. After a while of lazily listening, he had deciphered several different words and phrases, many based on familial names or family news, and had heard Kobai’s name pronounced in his native tongue, and ‘Khalid’ sounded infinitely better coming from his cousin’s mouth than it did from Midori’s.
 
As soon as they passed into Hillah, the earthquakes started. Small at first, barely able to be registered, but soon their energy increased, jolting the car. Kobai requested his cousin continued to drive as long as possible, and the man obliged. Lights came on all over the city, police sirens wailing and city-wide alarm systems sounding to alert the sleeping populace of the quakes.
 
That’s strange,” Kobai’s cousin said, “Earthquakes aren’t that common around here.”
 
That is strange,” Kobai replied, glancing back at them, “How much farther to the ruins?
 
This was it. It was starting now, the battle for Earth’s future. Five guys, five teenage guys, a Pegasus, and a fairy, led by a young man who couldn’t unlock his true potential, up against an ancient and powerful force of destruction. Great. The van stopped and Kobai got out, opening the side door for them to exit as he spoke to his cousin about waiting for a phone call.  The man nodded, looking confused, and drove away, taking the solid light source of his car with him. As the Earth shook once again beneath them, they let Helios lead the way through the mounds that marked the ancient ruins of Babylon.
 
It was hard to believe that the barren ground they stepped over had once been green and fertile; it was nothing more than dry dust, hard-packed sand, and the occasional patch of scrub grass amid ancient rocks. The ground crunched beneath their shoes as they pressed on; past the chain link fence was a maze of dried stone walls, corridors of an ancient city long since destroyed and buried. It was eerie, almost too quiet as the city’s sounds were absorbed or swept away the farther into the ruins they traveled, and the notion that he had been here before as Endymion was throwing him. Had this really been his home? Babylon? It didn’t sound right – the Earth’s capitol had been Elysion, not “Babylon”, but… the stars seemed right. The ground beneath him, though tired and dry, felt familiar. Had Babylon perhaps followed in Elysion’s wake?  Before too long, however, they found themselves in an area of construction. Workers cranes littered the area – the current leader of Iraq was building on the site, erecting what appeared to be a modern day above-ground model of the ruins of the ancient city beneath; what if the area they were looking for, whatever it was they needed to activate to get into Elysion, lay buried beneath Earth and concrete? What if this wasn’t even the site? What if the battle they were attempting to fight was over before it began, ended by the natural flow of time?  Before he could worry further, Helios stopped ahead, beyond the half-reconstructed buildings, and hovered above a particularly large hill. “Here.”
 
Under Helios’s instructions, each of them lined up with their cardinal direction; Hanada Kaito, holding his blue pendant of Zoisite, stood north, facing south into the center of their circle. Moegi Yuu, holding the green pendant of Jadeite, stood opposite him, facing north from south. Midori Nero stood to the east, facing west, holding the Neprhite “good luck charm” his mother had giving him when he was five, the reason he was able to transform without Helios’s gift. To the west stood Kobai Khalid, holding his pink Kunzite pendant, standing tall. In the middle of them all, holding his Pyrite pendant in one hand, the Golden Crystal in the other, stood Chiba Mamoru. Once they were settled, Helios nodded for Moegi to start.
 
The King of the South requests entrance to Elysion!” he called into the night, his voice ringing against the sirens of the city. His pendant started to glow, and then shone brightly, the burst transforming him into South King and continued to shine.
 
The King of the East begs entrance to Elysion!” Midori shouted confidently, his darker green stone bursting with light as Midori became East King.
 
The King of the North entreats entrance to Elysion!” Hanada yelled, his blue stone lighting up as he became North King.
 
The King of the West desires entrance to Elysion!” Kobai called, his voice the most convincing of them all even before he became West King.
 
Once he finished, his pink light glowing to complete the circle, a white light grew to surround them. Energy flew in all directions; their capes appeared to combat the power, the air crackling with electricity, warm breezes, cold chills, and a metallic taste; Mamoru steadied himself best he could. Now was his turn. Holding both of his items aloft, Mamoru yelled, “The Golden Prince calls open the doors between Earth and Elysion, that they may admit him and his guard!” Power flowed over him from the gems in his hand as he transformed to Cardinal King. Light as bright as the sun enveloped them all, calling the other shines together, until the world was so bright that he had to close his eyes. A cold sensation gripped him, reminding him instantly of the feeling of Jupiter’s cloud draining him of energy months ago at the Masquerade; he fought back, throwing more energy around them, cocooning them against whatever magic was at work as they crossed dimensions. The feeling lessoned until it finally disappeared, and when the light faded enough for him to open his eyes, he knew it had worked.
 
They were in Elysion.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
They were in a small thicket, standing before the ruined gates of a derelict stone wall, taller than three of them together in some places, crumbled to the ground in others. The greenery, it seemed, was an addition that crept forward from the roadside, for below their feet were the worn stones of an old road. The cover came as a welcome surprise, but still they ducked, wondering if their arrival had been noticed. With a nod from West King, they hastily moved off the road and out of the sight of the castle beyond the gates, ducking behind thicker brush as they surveyed the area. With another nod, Helios disappeared, doing covert aerial reconnaissance. Mamoru watched them go; the sky was an odd color, the lighting reminiscent of a stormy day despite the lack of clouds. As he looked around him he noticed similar properties in the living things; the grass, the trees, the leaves were different, too, their color dark as midnight emeralds. It was an oppressive feeling, almost like a betrayal; it was only too easy to shift his thoughts and see the area how it used to be, thousands of years ago, with bright summer skies and verdant, lively and manicured greenery. There should be a lake to the east, and to the north…
 
The battlefield.
 
Where was Diana? He looked behind him, at the old castle, his first birthplace and home. Was she there, corrupting Earth’s Kingdom further by her very presence within its sacred halls? It was the most easily defended, even in its broken state; had she found the secret passages leading out? Could they find them again to get in? Where would she be holding Usagi? There was no dungeon, no tall tower –
 
North!” Helios cried, winging in fast, landing amongst them. Hanada paid rapt attention, but as Helios’s sides heaved, he elaborated, “She’s amassing an army to the north! There’s something there that they are protecting – I could not see what it was, but the energy surrounding it is immense.”
 
“But that was the old battleground,” Moegi offered, his brows bent in confusion, “It’s indefensible – the grounds were cleared of obstacles; unless the plants have somehow provided some cover – “
 
“Or she built something – was there a structure?” Kobai asked, looking north through the trees but speaking back to them.
 
None that I could see,” Helios replied.
 
“Perhaps that’s what the army of monsters is for?” Midori offered.
 
“What, to be her construction crew?” Moegi snarked, glaring over at Midori.
 
“No, idiot,” Midori snarked back, “To be that defense she’s lacking.”
 
“Did you see what they were protecting?” Hanada asked, his cool voice slicing neatly through the tiff between East and South.
 
Helios shook his head. “I couldn’t get close enough without them seeing me; the creatures were keeping watch. Beryl, did you get—“ he paused, looking around, “Beryl?” he called, and suddenly Mamoru realized that he hadn’t seen the fairy in a while. He had assumed she had been keeping close to Helios or Kobai, but Helios clearly hadn’t been partnering with her and Kobai looked just as confused as the rest of them. With all eyes on him, he shook his head once – he hadn’t seen her.
 
“She wouldn’t have abandoned us,” Kobai reassured, though Mamoru was fairly sure none of them had thought it of her. Beryl wasn’t the type to give up without a fight. She had come to Tokyo of her own accord, had found Kobai, trained him, and gave him any information she had gathered. She was secretive, bossy, argumentative and a little annoying, but he had never doubted her loyalty or her drive to save the world and win back Elysion. Which, to him, only left them with one option for her whereabouts.
 

“We need a plan,” he stated, and immediately everyone started talking at once.

___________________________



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Title : Oh, you mean you DON'T have an Elephabulous? Shame.
Posts : 13114
Join date : 2011-09-15
Age : 30
Location : NE Texas


PostSubject: Re: [Story] Cardinal King -COMPLETE-   3rd November 2013, 9:21 am

In the end, there were no brilliant plans, no daring options. Diana was surrounded by monsters in the middle of a battlefield cleared of greenery thousands of years ago specifically to make covert attacks near impossible; even after all this time there was only grass covering the expanse. They played with the idea of sending someone in on Helios’s back in an aerial strike, but none of them, save Mamoru, had any wide-angle attacks that would cut through the ranks of the youma, and Kobai flat-out vetoed the idea of having Mamoru up there. There were too many unknowns, the most glaring of which was whether any of the enemy creatures could fly. They toyed with the idea of working their way around, picking off the outer rim guerilla-style, but there was an army out there – it would take hours to pick them off one-by-one, and with the senshi’s crystals in Diana’s grasp, they didn’t have hours. The only option they had was the direct approach: run in swinging and hope for the best. No one particularly liked the idea – least of all Hanada, who felt like he had failed them all by being unable to come up with anything else – but what other option did they have?
 
They chose, at the very least, to skirt around through cover for as long as possible, and so set out through what used to be a line of trim trees – now an overgrown copse – that lined the road. There was some discussion over running versus creeping – quickness verses stealth – and, in the end, they chose to compromise and moved forward in a crouched run. They made some noise, but not enough to carry through the underbrush, especially with an army up ahead. How the hell were they to face an army?! Even as Mamoru rushed forward, determined not only to fight but to try to win this battle for Earth, he wondered how their victory would even be possible, but he was unable to keep his mind on the looming problem for long.
 
Eerie echoes through time kept catching up with him as their run turned to a creep towards Diana’s forces, his mind seeing double: both the grim, overcast and overgrown, and the bright, verdant and nostalgic as his memories of the Golden Age oozed through the dim reality, filling him in an unfamiliar yet welcome way. He felt almost whole as what he saw evoked emotions of forgotten joy; just there, beyond the orchard, was where he had learned to ride; he had learned archery over by the lake – his teacher had made him swim to catch whatever arrows had missed their mark; he, Nephrite, Jadeite, Zoisite and Kunzite used to play ‘capture the castle’ over on the far lawn – they’d swap partners, but whenever Zoisite and Kunzite were on a team together they always won. There were sad and shameful memories, as well – like when they had hunted before the season had begun, and his father sat him down just over there to talk about what he had done and took the opportunity to tell him about the permanence of death, or when his mother personally knelt down in front of him, right at his eye level, took his arms and shamed him for bullying and teasing a boy from the lower social class. He remembered incidents like that strongly, clearly; he remembered how they shaped him, how his parents had affected him…
 
But he refused to believe that they had truly affected his current life.
 
The thought that who he was now had been affected by his past life was both comforting and unacceptable – comforting in those memories of a childhood with parents, unacceptable in the notion that his own real parents, the Chibas, had little to nothing to do with whom he was. He couldn’t remember them, true, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t have an impact. Who was to say that they also hadn’t also imparted those lessons on him? Who’s to say they hadn’t been even better parents? Completely discounting them in his development was disrespectful in the worst way, and he refused to consider the notion that who he had been hundreds of years ago affected who he was now. He was Mamoru Chiba, not Endymion, and he had to believe that in order to keep some semblance of control over his life.
 
“You okay?” Hanada asked quietly from his shoulder.
 
Mamoru nodded, unclenching the fist at his side. “Fine.”
 
“Nervous?”
 
“Really, Hanada?” Moegi cut in, “Final showdown with head enemy boss with the planet on the line – do you really have to ask?”
 
“Eh,” Midori cut in with a shrug, “What’ll be will be. We’ll fight our hardest, kick chibi, and go home. Mamoru’s ready for this – I believe in him.”
 
“We all do,” Kobai added, slowing them down and ducking behind a tree. Their cover ended just ahead, and they could see from where they were the mass of hulking beastmen ahead of them. Once in relative cover, Kobai continued, catching and holding Mamoru’s gaze. “You’re ready for this – trust in your judgment and just let the crystal do its work.” Mamoru nodded through the knots of doubt in his stomach, wondering if he should’ve told them all that he hadn’t mastered the crystal  yet, but before he could warn them of his shortcomings and what they could mean for the future, Hanada’s sharp whisper threw his attention skyward.
 
“Helios!” the blonde hissed, “What are you—“
 
I’ll draw their attention.” Helios was already out of sight, flying back towards the citadel behind them, “Protect him, Kings! Get him to Diana, whatever the cost!” The order sent a chill down Mamoru’s spine – this was really it. The realization continually hit him; at one moment he felt like he accepted it, but whenever he was reminded it hit him anew. They could die, and if they did, the world would end. They had no army, no support – it was just the six of them – now the five – against an ancient and powerful force of evil, and they were on a time crunch. They steeled themselves, readying for whatever diversion Helios was setting up, convincing themselves that the stupid horse wouldn’t do anything too stupid in the process, when Mamoru got his own personal message from his ‘mentor’. “Prince, I know I haven’t always been fair or truthful, but I have enjoyed being at your side in this lifetime, as I had not been in your last. It has been an honor and a privilege, Mamoru. Give her hell.
 
An explosion tore through the air, and Mamoru gritted his teeth, summoning his Rose Sword. He made a dash forward, but West King, Kobai, caught him and held him back, waiting until the monsters that were leaving to check out the disturbance had left. Once it was relatively quiet ahead of them, Kobai let him go. Turning to the others he said, “You heard him. Let’s not let his sacrifice be in vain.”
 
As one, East, South and North pulled out their weapons, and together they all charged the field.
 
 
Helios’s diversion had cleared a good number of the monsters, who were now running loudly back towards the Golden Palace, but those who remained spotted the kings and reacted. For some it was too late, and they disintegrated as they were hit with fiery knives, or struck with an icy whip, pommeled with stone fists, or sliced by a curved blade. The Kings’ momentum carried them far, but it was clear that they would not make it to the center of the throng of beings and Diana. As the ugly creatures hemmed them in, the four stood to guard Mamoru’s back as he sent a spray of energy forward, clearing a path farther in. They rushed forward, but one set of footsteps were missing. Mamoru paused, looking back to see who they were missing, ready to turn and fight, but Moegi’s hand on his shoulder propelled him forward.
 
“Wait – “
 
“He said to go on without him,” Moegi replied, staring straight forward as he ran, his hand still on Mamoru’s shoulder. His voice subtly caught as he continued, throwing a knife to the side to send three of the encroaching monsters bursting into flames, “He’ll hold them off.”
 
Mamoru turned his head to see Midori standing alone, his lighthearted taunts carrying above the clamor of monster voices. “He doesn’t need to! We can go through together – “ Mamoru protested, slowing – they couldn’t just leave him! This time Moegi was joined by Hanada, who both pushed him forward, their attacks flinging to either side to keep the enemies at bay.
 
“Don’t waste the chance he’s given us; if he weren’t there we’d be overrun. If we turn back now it’s over!” Hanada advised, holding his arm and forcing him to run. From behind them the ground shook, and one final glance back showed a wave of monsters falling to dust around East King, with more rushing in to take their place. Soon he was lost amongst their forms, and was gone. Mamoru faced forward, knowing that he wasn’t dead, and wasn’t going to die. He wouldn’t let that happen. If only the stupid crystal worked! Kobai swung his sword ahead of them, destroying any monsters that approached from that angle.
 
But they were only four, and soon they were flanked. Mamoru brought the crystal to bear in one hand, his sword in the other, and concentrated, trying to force the energy outward, to destroy the crowd of snarling, lunching monsters, but nothing happened. Nothing at all. Hanada stepped forward in his green-trimmed uniform and brought his whip to bear, sending it outwards dangerously, keeping the creatures at bay. “Leave me!” he yelled, looking back at them through his blue mask, “Get to Diana! End this!”
 
Mamoru summoned a rose and threw it into the crowd, standing his ground.
 
Now, Mamoru!” Kaito yelled, and Kobai grabbed him and threw him forward, towards their goal, as Moegi took the lead, his flames keeping the monsters at bay or exploding them should they attempt to get in their way. Before too long a high pitched whirring sound hit their ears – Hanada’s whip, slinging quickly over his head in a circle. Another short shockwave reassured them of Midori’s status, and Mamoru started to run fully. They were okay. They could hold their own.
 
“This looks like me,” Kobai announced as the earth shook beneath them; the footsteps of a towering beast that rose from amidst the horde. It was as tall as a building with fearsome tusks and a slight minotaur-esque appearance. Muscles rippled along its arms and legs and it yelled a warning.
 
“You can’t fight that alone!” Mamoru protested, incredulous at the sheer size of the foe.
 
“There’s no time,” Kobai replied, holding his blade ready, eyeing the beast fiercely. “She could be using the Crystals as we speak. Go!”
 
Moegi doubled back and slid in beside Kobai, his blades ready. “Two can hold this off better than one. I’m with you, West.” The blonde turned back to Mamoru, and slung a blade behind them both as he said, “There’s a clearing ahead with some sort of barrier – we hit the end, Chiba.”
 
“Go with him to the barrier,” Kobai ordered.
 
“What?!” Moegi rebuked.
 
“It might take a moment to figure out how to break it – defend him.”
 
Moegi growled, but nodded. “Don’t get in over your head,” he announced, then turned to Mamoru, “Looks like you’re not rid of me yet. Let’s go!”
 
He was tired of this, but it was almost the end. Nearly there. The barrier ahead of them was shining almost like a bubble, and he slowed his approach, in case it would just send him backwards. Moegi stood facing outwards, back the way they came, throwing knife after knife into the thinning crowd as Mamoru brought some warm power to bear and touched the barrier’s surface. His hand passed through easily, and he stepped through into the dead silence beyond. He turned, waiting for Moegi, but as the blonde stepped back to go through the barrier, he was stopped immediately, as though hitting a solid wall. The blonde turned, looking over his shoulder at him through his red mask, and said something. Mamoru couldn’t hear him, so stepped forward to go back through – maybe he had to pull him through, infusing him with the Golden Crystal’s energy – but this time when he hit the barrier he, too, was stopped. Even brining his power to bear, he could not pass through. Moegi waved him off, throwing more knives into encroaching monsters, and said something else. Making a thumbs up, the pushed himself off the barrier and shot into the beasts, wielding knives as he created his own pathway back towards where they had left Kobai, the towering beast a clear indicator that that battle was not yet over.
 
He was alone, and they were counting on him. Everyone was counting on him. Taking a deep breath, he turned away from the barrier and the battle raging just beyond it, and rushed deeper into Diana’s lair, determined not to fail them.
 
 
The farther he traveled, the more apparent it became that Diana was not hiding in any sort of lair or fortress; the only structure of any sort was a strange, crystalline formation that sat in the middle of the field as though it had grown there. All but invisible until he had entered through the barrier, it was nearly two stories tall, made out of clear stone – perhaps quartz? – and had several smaller crystalline features bursting outwards from it. He ran towards it, his sword at the ready, knowing full well that he would not have surprise on his side. It was too open a field for that. As he expected, she was the one who surprised him, but he wouldn’t give her an ounce of an opening beyond that.
 
“Why, if it isn’t the young Prince Endymion,” Diana drawled, smirking as she suddenly appeared to his left. She was dressed as she was in their last battle, holding a long and thin silver spear topped in a crescent scythe in her right hand. Beside her stood Jewel Tiara.
 
Cardinal King brandished his Rose Sword before him, his eyes glaring into Diana’s, standing tall and firm. In his peripheral he tried to get a feel for Usagi – she didn’t seem hurt, but there was something about her that was off; the scowl on her face, perhaps; the unsettling similarities between she and Diana for certain. Diana’s blonde hair was up in odangos, just as Usagi’s, just as Serenity’s, but the similarities didn’t stop there. The length and cut of their dresses were similar, and while Jewel Tiara’s had cleaner cuts and a more modern style, it was obvious that it stemmed from the short toga-esque attire Diana sported. While Jewel Tiara wore small black boots, Diana wore strapped sandals of the same height. Where Jewel Tiara had the red gorget, Diana had a thick studded red necklace. Doubt attempted to bubble up from his stomach, recalling all the warnings his friends had given him about Jewel Tiara and her possible alliance with the Moon Kingdom, the new ties being made between their appearance and attire – could Usagi be one of Diana’s warriors, reborn? – but he squashed it, thinking only of Usagi, her ditziness and her clumsiness, her loud protests and her pure heart. It wasn’t possible, he stubbornly refused.
 
Keeping a tight grip on his sword, he refuted Diana’s greeting. “I am not Endymion – I am Chiba Mamoru! Stop what you are doing and return Usagi and the Crystals!” He couldn’t see the crystals on either of them – Usagi’s belt was missing, the gems along with it, but as the terrifying force Diana was attempting to summon didn’t seem to be around, he had to assume they were still there somewhere, and he had time to stop Diana before things got worse.
 
“My, my, not Endymion, eh?,” Diana chided, smirking at him as she put a hand to her hip, her other hand angling her spear to the floor as she tilted her head to the side. “Then why are you here, Mamoru Chiba? This fight is not yours. Surrender the Golden Crystal and I will let you return from whence you came in peace.” She was toying with him.
 
“Never!” he cried defiantly. “This is your last warning – Usagi and the Crystals, now!”
 
She turned her head to raise a brow at Usagi. Turning back to him, she scoffed, “Why should I? I do not fear the Prince of Earth, why should I quiver at the demands of a high school student? I have the crystals, I have your dear little love, your allies are lost to you, and you don’t have the power to face me. I grow tired of this, boy; hand over the crystals and I will not run you through.” She reached towards him, palm up, and waited, a scowl on her face.
 
Scowling back and thinking quickly, he lowered his sword and hesitantly stepped forward, as though fighting with himself over the decision to surrender. He’d get close, then ram her through and be done with this – he didn’t need the powers of the Golden Crystal after all, he just needed good timing. With her dead, the barrier should fall; he’d grab Usagi and the crystals and make it back to Hanada and Midori and the others, heal them, find Helios and Beryl, and then teleport out of there somehow. They’d come back for Elysion later, when they had a better plan for the monster infestation. When he was within a few feet of her, he reached into his pocket as if to pull out the Crystal, then lunged forward, blade level, and summoned a rose to throw at her as she side-stepped out of his way. She jumped back a few paces and he turned to face her, backing up and holding the corner of his cape out to shield Usagi from her view. Plan failed, but it wasn’t over yet.
 
Diana’s eyes twitched once, and then she smiled slowly, “If you insist.” In a quick and fluid motion, she lobbed her spear at them. Mamoru reached back, pushed Usagi out of the way and fell; the spear barely missing him, whizzing over his head so fast it was but a blur. He rolled up to his knees and summoned another rose, but froze. Diana had Usagi, a small curved blade held at Jewel Tiara’s throat. “Last chance, boy,” she said, shaking her head as though he were a petulant child.
 
He needed time to figure out another plan. “Why do you need the Golden Crystal, anyway? Weren’t the Senshi’s soul gems enough?” he asked, standing to face her yet again, his sword at the ready as he started circling her. She kept her body squared to his, moving Usagi around with her. There was something wrong with Usagi – he had seen it before, but now it was fully apparent. She was comatose still, her eyes glazed over, standing and moving but no one was home; she wasn’t really there. What had happened to her? “Wake up Usagi,” he ordered in a whisper, hoping to somehow get through to her.
 
“They never were,” Diana replied indulgently, with all the confidence of a cartoon villain. This was typically the villain’s downfall – revealing their plan, their actions, and while Mamoru hoped to glean information from what she had to offer, as the cartoon heroes always did, with his friends out of reach and Usagi in some form of unconsciousness, he wondered if there even was a way out of this. If only he could use the Golden Crystal the way Helios had described…
 
“Not enough power?” Mamoru prompted, still circling, hoping to find some sort of flaw in her defenses, or some flaw in the barrier behind her.
 
“The Silver Crystal can only take power from the Sailor Crystals when its bearer asks for that power – she cannot receive it when she is sleeping, she never could.”
 
“Then why did you want them?” Mamoru asked, dread settling over him.
 
She smirked, confirming his suspicion, “I never did.” It was a trap. It had been all along. “What I wanted was the Golden Crystal and its powers of healing – and here you are, hand delivering it to me. You really are too predictable, Prince, no matter what you choose to call yourself. You restarted the world for the girl you loved – nice job, by the way,” she sneered sarcastically, “so all I needed to do was to set a trap using the new model.” She turned and patted Usagi’s cheek familiarly, “She’s cute. An odd case, but cute.” She turned back to him, her blue eyes hard on his. “Oh, but you disappointed me. When I had Venus kidnap her the first time, we expected you and your forces to come running immediately; when you didn’t, I had to think up a new plan. Threatening her safety wasn’t enough, apparently, so I had to use your illusions about the Sailor Crystals and threaten her again to get you down here. Pity I had to sacrifice Venus, but it all worked out in the end. Or it will. Now, the crystal, or she dies.”
 
He was a fool. Throughout his whole journey as Cardinal King, ever since he had been threatened in his apartment by an overly-bossy Pegasus, he’d had the same thought over and over – he was a fool, and despite how much he thought he had grown, or how much he had thought over the different angles, his foolishness was proven to him over and over again, and now… she had him. They walked into this thinking that they would surprise her, or throw her off, intimidate her and defeat her, when all the while she had personally invited them in. And now there was no way out. The only plus to all of this would be that he had time on his side – she needed his Golden Crystal to awaken their Queen, so he could stall as long as he wished and the world would not suffer – but that wasn’t true at all. They were out there with their lives on the line – Hanada, Midori, Moegi, Kobai, even Helios and Beryl. The world had time, but they didn’t, and the longer he waited the longer they had to fight, and the more tired they would become. He chuckled darkly – it was a really good trap.
 
But he knew what had to be done. There was only one ending they could accept, and her getting his crystal was not it.
 
He raised his sword yet again, crouching to face her. There was only one way out of this, and that was through Diana’s demise. Without the power of the Golden Crystal behind him, the fight would be remarkably one sided, as it had been all those years ago, but he would go down fighting. Earth wouldn’t be handed over on a silver platter, even if… even if Usagi’s life were in the balance. He had to find a way to rescue her – if only she weren’t so distant! If only she would react! But even so, he knew what she would have wanted in this scenario. All those times when she sided with the innocent; he hated to think on it, but he knew that, like himself, she would rather die than let Diana have her way. And perhaps, while the crystal wouldn’t allow him its powers of destruction, he could still use its power of healing to save her.
 
“You fool,” Diana spat, her eyes narrowing. But then a smile crept over her face. “You won’t last. Jewel Tiara!” she released Usagi, whose head snapped up in response, her body tensed and ready for action. His sword arm wavered. “Get the crystal from him and give it to me.”
 

Usagi nodded, her deadened eyes staring at him, and charged forward with her hand out, reaching for him.

___________________________



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Title : Oh, you mean you DON'T have an Elephabulous? Shame.
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Join date : 2011-09-15
Age : 30
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PostSubject: Re: [Story] Cardinal King -COMPLETE-   3rd November 2013, 9:21 am

He dodged her advance, twisting aside and angling his blade away. “Usagi!” he cried, turning to avoid her punches. “Wait!” he entreated, ducking to avoid a well-aimed kick. “Usagi, it’s me!” he caught her wrist and held it, imploring her familiar spark to surface, to show some sign that she was still in there, but instead his hesitation was met with her other fist hitting him square in the temple. He faltered, dropping his sword, and rolled away as her foot swung through, barely missing a kick that would have stunned him further. “Usagi!” he yelled, his head swimming and throbbing with pain, the world moving beneath him as he tried to regain his sense of balance, “It’s me! It’s Mamoru!” Glancing up he saw the double image of her pacing towards him, the blonde-and-white blur of Diana standing ominously behind. He pushed himself up off the ground, uneasily getting to his feet, one hand holding his head as the other reached out ahead of him, waiting to stave off another attack. She lunged forward, elbow first, to strike him; he caught her elbow and used her momentum to throw her aside. He stumbled from the sudden change in motion, but he could feel himself healing, his headache lessening and his vision clearing. Usagi was on the ground, but she came back to her feet easily. Dirt smeared the right side of her dress and face, blood coloring the mix, but she didn’t react to it in the least.
 
Usagi!” he pleaded, his mind racing – she had seemed better at the hospital, but what if she had never been?! What if the Usagi he knew was still lost, and had been since she was taken by Venus that night? What had Diana done with the real Usagi?! She was moving even faster now – he was barely managing to dodge her. Diana was laughing now as she landed punch after punch – he couldn’t attack her. He couldn’t hurt her! But suddenly the laughter was behind him and he rolled just in time to get away from Diana’s surprise attack, her hand swiping the air where he had just been. She disappeared, reappearing where she had been before, her expression one of amusement. His nerves were on fire with the realization that Usagi was meant to be a dangerous distraction. He ducked and dodged Usagi’s advance, his senses wide open for any hint that Diana had teleported again, one hand always swiping behind him to keep her back should she attempt to surprise him. He couldn’t last like this. He had to stop one of them, and with Usagi acting like a drone…
 
His heart sunk as he caught her arm again and twisted to spin her around, pinning her to him and immobilizing her arms. She kicked back hard into his knee; he buckled, but he kept her close to him. She shot her head backwards and he turned his face up and to the side, her skull slamming into his neck rather than his jaw or nose. It was hard to breathe – his grip loosened and she regained the use of her arm. With it she reached for her forehead to use the weapon worn there.
 
Diana’s voice chided from behind him, “Ah, ah, get the Crystal.” He tightened his hold and swung Usagi around, her legs shooting out to ineffectively swipe the area behind him, keeping Diana back a few paces.  She struggled in his arms, her free arm thrusting backwards to elbow him in the stomach. Quickly he grabbed it, pinning it to him again as he fought to breathe.
 
Was there really no other way? Did he have to hurt her to make her stop? “Please,” he begged, speaking just for her, hoping she was still there somewhere. Not like Venus had been in the end, driven to madness, but truly there, even if buried deep. The world needed Usagi Tsukino, it needed her bright shine; her humor and her disposition, her smile and her clumsiness, her heart. If not for her, who was he saving the world for? His heart jumped straight to his friends, but what if…? His jaw tightened, refusing to let the thought move further, even as his heart jumped to that terrifying conclusion. What if he succeeded, but only he survived? His heart constricted painfully, and he held her closer. He’d been alone before, but he had never truly understood what it was like to have a family. To lose them all, and all at once – “I need you, Usako.” Her muscles twitched, the death-grip she had on his arm relaxing slightly. He kept talking, hoping that she could hear him, hoping he wouldn’t have to hurt her, hoping he could somehow get through to her. He was panicking, being selfish, but the thought of losing his family and her threatened to undo him nearly as quickly as Diana could. If he could get her back, if he could save even just her – “You are everything that is good in the world – don’t let her take you, don’t let her win! Fight back, Usako! Please, fight back!”
 
Diana appeared behind him and he turned to swing at her. This time, Usagi’s leg straightened into a full kick, her hands holding his arms for support rather than trying to push away. He almost cried in relief. “Usako!” He released her, watching her closely in case it had been some sort of trick, ready to grab her again, but when she turned to face him, her eyes were her own, bright and vibrant and expressive.
 
“Behind you!” she warned, and immediately he called his Rose Sword to hand, turning and swinging widely. Diana teleported aside, scowling.
 
When she reappeared it was nearer to Usagi; he summoned a rose to throw and Usagi prepared a kick as Diana commanded in an authoritative tone, “You belong to me.” Her blue gaze was intense, and for a moment Usagi faltered. He threw his rose at Diana, the thorns cutting into her. She scoffed, breaking eye contact, and Usagi jumped back, shaking her head. He ran to her defense – whatever Diana was attempting, it was definitely some sort of mind control.
 
“You are your own person, Usako,” he countered, the tip of his blade directed at Diana, “You don’t belong to anyone, no matter what you were in your past life!” adding the last in case there had been a connection there, in case his every instinct about her alignment had been wrong. Diana disappeared and as quickly as he could, he whipped around, arm out to shield Usako, watching for where she would resurface. “Usako, you okay?” he prompted, wanting to get her talking and keep her talking, to give him a warning if she should succumb to Diana’s tricks again. He knew he could get her back now; he just had to keep talking, to get through to her.
 
“I’m okay, Mamochan,” she replied, hearing her say her nickname for him relaxing him all over again. He almost smiled – she was back.
 
“You know, we never finished watching that movie you liked so much,” he said by way of conversation, needing to hear her speak as he continually turned, scanning the field. With her by his side, they could defeat Diana – he was certain of it, somehow.
 
“Kiki’s Delivery Service?” she replied, instantly knowing which he was talking about. She was moving with him, covering his back, “Moegi never wanted to watch it, did he?” she said, a smile in her voice.
 
“We can watch it together when we get back,” he promised.
 
“Where is Moegi? And Midori and the others?” she asked hesitantly.
 
He glanced to the outer rim of their fighting field, able to see the movement beyond the force field, but unable to glean any information. “Outside,” he replied simply, his eyes returning to the immediate battlefield. Where was she? What was she waiting for?
 
“Mamochan, there!” she yelled in alarm – a rose was in his grip in an instant, the flower flying through the air towards where Usako had indicated, but when his sight caught up, Diana was already gone. But then she was to his left – he threw another, and another, as Diana repeatedly appeared and disappeared. Usako yelled warnings when she spotted the Lunar warrior, but his attacks were always a split second too slow, and without a pattern to her teleportations, he was hard pressed to come up with a better plan. “Mamochan! No!
 
The scream tore at his heart as he heard blade pierce flesh –he spun around, his heart hammering, and came eye to eye with Diana, her smile cruel and amused, her arm outstretched, her hand gripped on a spear that had stopped midthrust. Usako was doubling over. Diana pulled her bloody spear back and disappeared as Usako started to fall – he caught her, his mind and heart reeling – it was happening again. Just the same as before – she had jumped in front of Diana’s spear to save him, just as Serenity had, and now she would die, just as Serenity had. “No,” he breathed, his whole body deadened in defeat as he fell with her, cradling her against him in a matter only too familiar.
 
“Oh, dear,” Diana said in mocking remorse, appearing in front of them. “How unfortunate. I was aiming for you.”
 
Usako looked up at him, ignoring Diana’s words. “I’m sorry,” she winced, smiling. He put his hands over her wound, pressing down, preparing the crystal’s power, concentrating on his mantra. He was not Endymion. Endymion had failed, but he wouldn’t – he could save her. Just as he saved Midori, just as he had saved all those people in the hospital – he could save her.
 
“Looks like you should use that Crystal of yours to heal her,” Diana remarked, her tone offhanded, but the meaning striking home fast. The power he used to save Midori and the people after Venus’s attack had been immense – it had affected the world around him, not just whom he was healing. His mind raced, searching for a different answer, grasping at straws – he had to save her! She couldn’t die! But if he used the crystal…
 
Diana’s Queen would awaken.
 
She looked up at him, her gaze curious, then understanding. With a small smile, she put her hand over his, the white material turning red. He had to stop the bleeding, or else – “Hey, Mamochan?” she asked quietly, tearing his attention away from her wound. Her eyes were so beautiful, her expression so calm – how could she be so calm?! “You were the Prince after all, weren’t you?”
 
He nodded curtly, wondering fleetingly how much she knew, regretting everything he had yet to tell her, about Luna and Artemis, about the crystals, her parents – he slipped his hand into his sleeve, wishing he had more material to use to stop the bleeding.
 
“I wouldn’t hesitate too much longer, Prince,” Diana commented, “Unlike the first one, this girl would have no chance of being reborn should you hit the Reset Button.” Usagi’s expression was confused as he finally looked at the blonde with the cruel smile. “If she dies, she dies for good.” Diana cocked her head to the side, one of her buns resting on the bloody sickle spear, her lips pouting as she elaborated, “You fell in love with a girl without a soul crystal – she won’t even have an afterlife to look forward to if you fail to save her.” She tutted, “Poor little dear.”
 
His heart hammered in his chest as he looked back down to Usako, dying in his lap. Pieces of the puzzle were falling together – Luna and Artemis had chosen her as Jewel Tiara because she had no soul gem, thus no energy to fight against the Senshi’s soul gem energy, the same reason why Beryl had claimed to be able to handle the crystals. It might explain what had happened earlier, why Diana had been able to control her so easily – but all of that were nothing, suppositions that passed in an instant, as the dark reality settled. He had to choose between saving her and dooming the world to the evil Queen’s reign, or refusing to use the energy, saving the world but dooming her to death without an afterlife, without hope of being reborn. He pressed down on her wound harder.
 
“This has happened before?” Usako asked, her voice quiet but curious, “with another girl?”
 
He nodded again.
 
“I bet she was beautiful,” she smiled.
 
“She was nothing compared to you,” he stated.
 
“Did you love her?”
 
“Not as much as I love you,” he said, imploring her to believe him.
 
She shook her head, “Don’t say that.” He froze, not knowing what to say. “If she did what I did, she must have loved you very much; don’t discount her for my sake.” She squeezed his hand, “I love you, Mamochan, no matter who you loved in the past.” Her heart was so big; the love he felt washing over him was so warm and full and open, so unconditional, that he wondered how he had been so blind as to miss it in the first place. He nodded. “What was her name?”
 
It hurt him to open up that part of him, but with the warmth of her surrounding him he did so anyway, allowing a trickling stream of his memories of her come through. “Serenity.”
 
“That’s a pretty name,” Usako smiled, “What was she like?”
 
“Like sunshine,” he replied, tears springing to his eyes as he let more memories pass through, slowly breaking down the dam he had built to protect himself and his hold on the present, the walls he had erected in his heart to protect the feelings he held for Usako. Memories of Serenity’s smile, her easy laugh, the way she pouted, how she stomped her foot when she was annoyed. “She was always smiling,” he told her, “always.” She was so easy for Jadeite to annoy, and she’d stomp and stick out her tongue and act upset, but she had already forgiven him. Serenity was free, and unabashedly childish and innocent. He loved her for all the worry she could just laugh away, envied her for her bright picture of the future, how sure she was that everything would always come out okay. She had shared with him her fears, too, but, no matter how dark the night or somber the tone, she was always able to move past them and keep smiling. And the truth was, as much as he tried to deny it before, she and Usako were a lot alike in those respects.
 
“So you did love her?”
 
“Yes,” he choked, a weight falling from his chest as he did so. Tears overflowed as his love of her washed over him, followed by sharp pain. “But I couldn’t save her! I was too weak back then – she died because of me! It was my fault!” he shook his head violently, starting to pour small amounts of his energy into her wound, “But I’m not him, Usako! I’m not Prince Endymion, and I can save you!
 
“Mamochan,” she called, lifting her cleaner glove to his face, making him pause – he wouldn’t give up on her. He wouldn’t let her die, too, no matter what happened to the world. “Mamochan, you are Prince Endymion –“ he shook his head and she shook hers back, her movements weak but determined, “You are! And you’re Mamochan, too – you’re both, and that’s okay! You don’t have to choose between them; if you can love Serenity and me, then you can be both Mamochan and Endymion.” He nodded to please her, and kept pouring in energy, trickling, then flowing, his gaze flickering to Diana for any sign from her that the energy was escaping outwards. At this rate, however, he didn’t know whether he could… but he had to. He pressed farther. “This is where you used to live, right?”
 
He looked down at her questioningly, then nodded – she meant Elysion, the Golden Kingdom. “I remember them talking about it. It used to be very pretty, right?” He nodded, and she smiled, faintly, her eyes starting to close. “Like heaven, Sailor Venus said.” She started trailing off and his heart rate skyrocketed as he fed her more energy, not caring about Diana anymore, but still Usako was fading. His breath quickened, pulse racing, putting all of his own reserves into healing her, fighting with himself over whether to use the Crystal. “Maybe, if Mamoru and Endymion work together, it can be like heaven again…”
 
She stopped breathing.
 
“USAKO!” he yelled, pouring all of himself into her, pushing the boundaries, but still it wasn’t enough. Her heart was slowing, the blood loss too great – he was losing her! He couldn’t lose her! He wouldn’t let her die! He was Mamoru, not Prince Endymion, and he could save h—“Maybe, if Mamoru and Endymion work together…” As Mamoru, he had done all that he could. Even if he used the Golden Crystal now, and used all of its powers, he only might be able to save her. But if… maybe, if he accepted himself as Endymion as well, if his past and present worked together –
 
Maybe he could save her.
 
Reaching deep into the place in his heart where Serenity lived, he fell into his old life, surrounding himself with those memories, of his Kingdom, his family, his life as the Crowned Prince of Earth. He remembered galas, court sessions, learning how to rule a country the size of a planet, and all the responsibilities that came with it. He remembered training, he remembered planning, he remembered hunting trips and the rare moment he had to relax with his friends, and with Serenity. His life as Endymion fit him like a glove, a custom-fitted second skin that, once he accepted it, felt more than natural. He wasn’t different, he hadn’t changed, he was just… both. Both Endymion with his training, and family, and memories of court and King and responsibilities, and Mamoru, with his little family, his school, his sports, and his dreams. He was fuller, more rounded, more centered. More powerful.
 
With a command the Golden Crystal flew from his pocket to hover before him, and with just a feeling, it magnified his energy, pulling from the planet itself to provide healing energy to the failing Usako. He directed the flow, magnified it, and released it – so much at once that her body was enveloped in golden light and began to glow as a pulse of pure golden energy burst outward. This was his power – this was the true power of the Golden Crystal! Usagi wouldn’t die – he wouldn’t let her. And together, together they would save the world and everyone on it!
 
It was over quickly, the amount of power flowing through knitting together her wounds – all of them – quickly and neatly, and as the light faded she was breathing normally. Blinking, she sat up and turned to face him with a smile. “Mamochan.” He opened his arms and she threw herself into him, hugging him tightly; he held her close, eyes closed, amazed and grateful and thankful that she was still there. He had done it. He didn’t lose her. And it was all because of her.
 
“Thank you,” he replied, to her and to the crystal. She was safe, and he wouldn’t let anything hurt her again. He pulled back, wanting to enjoy the moment, but never forgetting where they were and what was happening around them. Taking her hand in his, he stood, helping her to her feet, and noticed the new yet familiar feeling of a permanent cape on his shoulders; he was dressed as he had back then, as the Crowned Prince, and he couldn’t have been more comfortable.
 
“No, Thank you,” Diana replied, laughing manically. She was behind them now, standing before the crystalline structure which, as they watched, was rapidly fading away. The Golden Crystal had done its job; the Moon Queen was waking. “Soon, my Queen will reawaken and together we will declare war on the Earth! We will end life here once and for all, destroying civilization after civilization in glorious battles! All will fear us and obey!” She turned, her hands raised skyward in celebration; he had only this chance – if she saw him coming, she would teleport away in an instant. Releasing Usako’s hand, he summoned his Rose Sword, and dashed forward as Diana began to laugh, the last of the crystalline structure disappearing. “My Queen!” she yelled, her voice dropping to become grave, “My Queen, your daughter is dead, and that despicable and greedy Earth Prince is responsible—“
 
His blade caught her then, and she silenced, gasping in pain. She had never seen him coming, and while he would have felt guilty with anything or anyone else, this was Diana’s tactic. Twice she had almost killed him by attacking from behind, and to him it was only right that her end be this way. “Your treacherous words end here, Diana,” he announced, pulling his sword free. She whirled on him, clutching at her open wound, and fell to her knees in the dirt, her blue eyes still glaring. He remembered now all the lies she has spread about him, his court, and his kingdom to the Moon Kingdom, all the people she had turned against them on her lies alone, Queen Serenity among them. It was she who set the Moon Kingdom on the attack path, she who was responsible for that battle, all of those lives, and Serenity. But while he knew she was behind everything, he still did not know her reasons. Why did she hate the Earth Kingdom so much? “Tell me why,” he bargained, lowering his sword, “and tell us how to put the queen back to sleep, and I will heal you.” Usako joined him, taking his free hand in support, her gaze rapt on Diana.
 
“No,” she replied, choking on the blood that bubbled up when she chuckled. “I am ready for death, and so, too, should you be.” She smiled cruelly, “She is waking, and the life you just saved will be extinguished, as will many more before She is satisfied.”
 
Usako’s hand left his as she took a step forward. “But why?” she implored, “Why are you doing this?”
 
“I am the Moon’s war council,” she grinned cruelly, her chest heaving in obvious pain, “and I grew bored.”
 
Fury rose up within him – she had been bored? Thousands dead, worlds destroyed, because she was bored!? His fist clenched with his jaw and he stepped forward to end the life of the evil woman, but paused when he saw Usako bowing her head, her hand reaching up to brush away a tear. She was too merciful for this, too forgiving, he’d ask her to turn away – but then her hand came away holding her tiara. The weapon glowed brightly as she slung it forward. It flew true, and sliced neatly through Diana’s neck, killing her quickly and cleanly, as her body near immediately turned to dust. He watched with rapt attention as some sort of black smoke or shadow rose sluggishly from the dust pile and wafted away on the air.
 
Usako caught the tiara as it returned and dropped it to the ground. He went to her, finding her face tear-streaked but fierce. When he reached for her hand she took it, lacing her fingers in with his, and used the back of her hand to wipe her cheeks. He kissed her temple gently, hoping to comfort her. As much as he wanted to tell her that it was over and they could go home, their biggest battle was about to begin. “You can do it, Mamochan,” she said, squeezing his hand. “You can save everyone, I know you can.”
 
“We can do it,” he corrected, “Together.”  Keeping tight hold of her hand, they turned, watching as the last of the crystal disappeared to reveal a shining alabaster pedestal. On top sat a woman, her long frame wrapped in an elegant sleeveless gown. Her legs stretched out before her, her arms braced beside her, silver hair spilling down around her from their twin silver buns. Her silver eyes glared at them from across the distance, their depths filled with hatred as the crescent symbol on her forehead glowed.
 
Queen Serenity was awake.

 

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Title : Oh, you mean you DON'T have an Elephabulous? Shame.
Posts : 13114
Join date : 2011-09-15
Age : 30
Location : NE Texas


PostSubject: Re: [Story] Cardinal King -COMPLETE-   3rd November 2013, 9:22 am

The revelation of her identity disturbed him greatly; he had imagined a monster queen, a being of darkness and evil, but instead there was she, Queen Serenity, matron ruler of the Moon Kingdom, possessor and controller of the Silver Crystal. Princess Serenity’s mother. They looked incredibly similar, but her aura was off, the air seeming to crackle and snap around her scowling, beautiful face. He had only seen her in person once, on that last day when she came to the aid of Diana’s troops, but while he had never met her he had heard much of her through Serenity. Years ago she had been a just and merciful queen, but Serenity spoke uneasily of how her mother was changing. She had always drawn a hard line when it came to the safety of her people, but she began to cut all ties to Earth, though Earth had done nothing to provoke the act. He knew now what was behind it – rather whom – but any hope he had upon realizing who it was dissolved away quickly with her determined and hate-filled glare and the evil-feeling aura that saturated the air. He gripped his sword tighter, not daring to break her gaze. Should he attack first?
 
The tightening of her glare was the only warning he received – he dropped his sword and called the crystal, holding it tightly in his hand, and threw out its energy to block the first energy blast. It worked to divert most of her attack away from them, but the wind buffeted both he and Usagi, and he had to dig in his heels to keep upright, his cape whipping out behind him to provide stabilization. When it ended, they were both shaken, but standing. She hadn’t even been trying with that blast – there was barely a flavor of Silver Crystal energy, and it had nearly stripped his shield completely. He needed a plan, and he needed one fast!
 
Prince Endymion of Earth!” Queen Serenity yelled angrily. She was standing atop her pedestal now, a wand topped with a golden crescent held confidently in her hand, the point angled towards him. He could sense it there – the Silver Crystal, primed and ready. He planted his feet, preparing the channel to pull more energy, trying to remember how he had just shaped it as a shield, hoping the trick would work again with the full force of a Power Gem against it. Her eyes were fierce and her face raging as she declared, “For your grievous crimes against my Kingdom, I sentence you to death!
 
No!
 
His concentration scattered with the new addition to the battle. An object fell heavily to the ground beside them as the new voice tore past, moving fast. It took a moment to identify the black mass with the soft lights, but when he did a short sting of fear struck him. It was Jewel Tiara’s belt. But that meant – “Beryl!” he shouted, jerking his attention back towards Serenity just in time to see the fairy angling in from the side – she was after the Silver Crystal! He dropped Usako’s hand to race forward, trying to stop her – Queen Serenity was too strong! And too quick; he hadn’t moved more than three steps before the Moon Queen backhanded the fairy with her weapon, sending Beryl flying. “No!” he yelled, training his eyes on her flying body, watching for where she fell – Beryl wasn’t his favorite person. She was annoying, bossy, and controlling, but she had a good heart and no one else would die for him! And Beryl had no soul --
 
Silver Crystal Power!
 
moon turds!
 
He had barely brought the crystal’s power to bear when he was thrown backwards in the blast. The magnitude of power was intense and incredible; he had to continually pull power from the Earth to keep combating it. When he could move, strained against the overwhelming barrage, with every fiber in his being he pushed himself backwards, keeping the angered Queen in his sight as he fought to keep control and move back towards Usako. His heart pounded in fear; at once he wanted to turn and see if she were safe, but was afraid that doing so might guarantee her death, as well. His heart unsure and unsteady, the Golden Crystal’s power waivered. “USAKO!” he yelled throwing himself to his feet, unable to take not knowing, and turned to find himself face-to-face with Sailor Jupiter.
 
He nearly dropped his defenses he was so shocked – she was supposed to be dead; he had been there, she had died! His Golden power flared at his fingertips and his mind worked quickly, desperately trying to find a way to defeat both Queen Serenity and Sailor Jupiter, but he knew it would be useless. If they worked together, he would… but then, the green Senshi was not moving to attack. He studied her quickly, the threat behind him too great to take too much time. Jupiter was different. She was relaxed, she was… she was crying, as she had been in the rain of their first battle, but now she was smiling. Her arms were outstretched, as though protecting someone with both arms open, green light shooting straight out of either hand. His heart surged with hope – was she protecting Usako? Her chest glowed with soft green light, illuminating her from within; she was not all there. Her image, all but the crystal, was semi-translucent, enough to give her shape and color and form, but she was not solid. Her spirit, then?
 
Queen Serenity flourished her wand and her efforts redoubled. He returned his attention to her, his mind working through what he had just seen. Jupiter’s spirit was released, her power gem, or Sailor Crystal or whatever, was released from the belt’s containment field and was, he prayed, protecting Usako from the Silver Crystal’s blast. He didn’t know why, or what angle she was working, but he was grateful all the same. His power flared. If Usako were alive, if she were safe -
Endymion.”
 
His heart stopped beating, the inflection and intonation of his name pulling him into the past, into nights spent in gardens, laughing quietly and holding hands, into galas, dancing in disguises; into blue eyes framed by soft silver hair. Unprepared for whatever came next, Mamoru turned completely, his lungs leaden as his eyes searched, expecting to find a spectral image along the lines of Sailor Jupiter, but through the senshi behind him, he saw only Usako, her hands pressed together gently in front of her mouth. Jupiter’s crystal floated around him, putting itself between his back and Queen Serenity, and the Silver Crystal’s power ceased to affect him. He cut off the Golden Crystal’s energy gently as he stared forward, waiting, hoping, Serenity might show herself. He had so much to say, yet no way to say it; and that Usako was alive, and Jupiter was protecting her – he had to thank Serenity for her protection, too. How... how could he ever… how did she forgive him? As seconds passed his hope faded; whether he knew what to say or not, he wanted… he had really wanted to see her again, to talk to her, just once more. Would she speak to him again?
 
Usako’s shoulders shook gently, and really looking at her now he could see that she was crying, though her expression suggested disbelief more than fear or sadness. Had she seen her? Had they spoken to each other? He found himself wondering what Serenity would have said; knowing her, she probably would have thanked Usako for keeping her friends’ crystals safe, and maybe knocking some sense into him, too. He hoped they had spoken, but he regretted missing her. Offering Usako a brave smile, he held the crystal and started to turn, remembering his friends still fighting outside, and knowing that the Queen’s wrath would not abate with time. She had had over a thousand years to cool down; this battle’s progression was sealed. One of them would not leave the battlefield alive. As his eyes swept the area to his left, he spotted an ethereal Sailor Mars in a position similar to Sailor Jupiter, red energy shooting out of her hands to make a barrier in that direction; he reasoned Sailor Mercury must be on the other side. They’d keep her safe --
 
Endymion!” her voice laughed; a laugh he recognized twice over. He whipped around to find Usako, her guilty mouth smiling widely as she dropped her hands and dashed towards him. She had said his name with a different intonation and inflection than she had earlier, pronouncing it just as… she jumped into him, her momentum carrying them both around; he would have enjoyed it more if he weren’t utterly confused. When her feet hit the ground she cupped her right hand over his left cheek, her blue eyes dancing with joy, looking for all the world as though she were seeing him for the first time, and kissed him. “Mamochan, I remember everything now!” she cried, pulling back. His mind whirled, “The Silver Millennium, the Moon Kingdom, Earth, and you, and…” her face fell, her hand leaving his face as she slowly turned to see Queen Serenity, “Diana… and my mother.”
 
“Usako,” he called. She turned around and he concentrated only on her, not daring to jump to any conclusions without clarification, “what are you talking about? What do you mean you remember?”
 
She smiled softly, taking his hand, though her eyes spoke only of how worried she was. “It’s me, Endymion; it’s been me, all along.”
 
“Serenity?” he prompted, his heart still hesitant to believe, “You – Usako, you’re Serenity?” she nodded once, though was still clearly preoccupied with the battle raging beyond the senshi’s border of protection. But he had to know. He placed a hand gently on her shoulder, catching her attention, “How is this possible?”
 
She smiled hesitantly, “I might be able to explain later, with Luna and Artemis’s help. But for now,” she turned around, and he stepped up to stand beside her. He didn’t know how it happened, or how it was possible. He didn’t know how it affected their past, or how it would affect their future, and while all he wanted to do was be with her in that moment, to fully realize what she had said and celebrate in it, she was right. For now they had to put it aside; for now they had a dangerous enemy, and a possible means to communicate a truce.  They both watched as Queen Serenity used her wand to throw more energy at them, and he took Usako’s, Serenity’s, hand in his, squeezing it gently in support. He would let her lead.
 
She took a deep breath, steadying herself, and then shouted, “Mother!” she took a few steps forward, her eyes hopeful as she stood beside Sailor Jupiter, her hands balled in fists as she yelled again. “Mother! Stop this, please! This isn’t you!”
 
Queen Serenity did stop, her expression bewildered as she stared at Usako, her eyes taking her in, from her Jewel Tiara dress to her blonde bunned hair. A frown creased the Queen’s face as she dropped her wand to her side and strode forward on her pedestal, “You cannot fool me with your tricks, Earth Kingdom criminals!”
 
“This isn’t a trick! Mother, it’s me! It’s Serenity!”
 
You’re lying! I know my daughter to be dead, struck down and killed by Prince Endymion, the very villain you are trying to protect!
 
“He isn’t a villain! Diana—“
 
“Isn’t a villain?!” she interrupted, her bark of laughter making Usako flinch, “He planned to take my kingdom! Threatened to kill my subjects! Started a war and succeeded in taking my daughter away from me! He and his people are a menace! It is my duty as Queen to destroy them before they can do more harm!
 
Mamoru reeled – how could she have been so misinformed?! The only interest he had had in the moon was Serenity, finding out more about her, learning about her kingdom and her ways – he would never have even thought about a takeover, let alone consider one!
 
“But you started this war!” Usako yelled, shaking with emotion, her hands in fists before her, “The Earth Kingdom did nothing, but still you did not listen! You did not listen to Luna or to Artemis – You did not listen to me!” she choked and he moved forward to support her – she was trying her hardest, but Queen Serenity was not wavering in the least. Her silver eyes were still hard and murderous, her expression chiseled with anger and hatred despite Serenity’s attempts to get through to her. Taking a deep breath, she kept trying. “Diana had you seeing monsters where there were none! Stop this, now, mother! Before it’s too late!”
 
Queen Serenity scowled at the last, then repositioned her hold on her wand. She seemed to have grown tired of their attempts. “For attempting to impersonate the Crowned Princess of the Moon Kingdom, you, too, shall die! Silver Crystal Power!” The wave of energy she called to bear was so great it had a silver sheen, and crashed towards them like a tidal wave. He held the Golden Crystal tightly, readying a shield should the senshi’s barrier fail. As the wave struck Sailor Jupiter her image faded drastically, but her crystal shone on, the green beams of light holding steady. He turned to glance at Mars and Mercury; both faired similarly. He turned to warn Usako, but she was gone.
 
She stood well on the other side of the barrier, and while his heart constricted in terror, she seemed almost unaffected by the energy stream. “You once told me that we all have a star in our hearts,” she yelled, her voice full of emotion. “You said that it was our greatest charge to keep that star shining brightly and use it to banish the darkness! What happened to your shine, mother? …What happened to your heart?she put both hands before her, as though preparing to catch something tossed to her. “Legendary Silver Crystal, give me your strength!”
 
Mamoru could scarcely believe what she was attempting. He ran forward, out into the energy field, the Golden Crystal energy battling the silver as he fought to lend Usako his strength. She was attempting to claim the Silver Crystal as hers, taking it from her mother’s control and into her own. Energy crackled and tore around him, but he managed to make it to her, and, placing his arms around her shoulders, he called up his power to add to hers. If she could reclaim the Silver Crystal as her own, Queen Serenity’s threat would be nullified. But to do so… what would it take for the Silver Crystal to change allegiances? She had the claim to its power – the crystal served as her power gem, too – but it had served the mother faithfully for so long, what could she do to tempt it to her?
 
Steadily he sent his flow of power into her and prayed that the Silver Crystal would heed her call, that it would somehow recognize that Usako’s need was greater, her intentions more deserving of its strength.  Queen Serenity screamed in disbelief as the Silver Crystal moved of its own accord, separating from the crescent wand and flying through the air to land in Usako’s open palms. In a wash of cool light, she transformed into Princess Serenity. He could sense her now – that soft silver glow he had so desperately missed, and his earlier questions began to answer themselves. All along he had been depending on that glow to find her, trusting his powers more than his own heart, and had been blinded in that she and her mother shared the soul gem, thus as long as her mother held it, he could not sense Serenity for who she truly was. He held her closer, silently apologizing for never having known.
 
Queen Serenity yelled, putting her palm outward, staring intently at her daughter without a hint of recognition in her eyes, her attention solely on reclaiming the Crystal.  Princess Serenity reluctantly held the jewel aloft, “I, Princess Serenity of the Moon Kingdom, using the power of the Moon, seal you away!” The crystal’s glow intensified until it was painful to even look at, its power shooting forward with a pure and intense light; he averted his eyes but kept his energy flow constant, sensing Usako’s personal energy fluctuating dangerously. She was putting all of herself into this; if she were to go too far… but that’s why he was there. He wouldn’t let it take her. “By the power of this sacred light, you are contained!
 
He fed her energy so fast it felt like it was tearing out of him, pouring into Princess Serenity nearly as quickly as her energy shot outward. He gritted his teeth, pushing it through, willing it to sustain her as the Silver Crystal threatened to drain her dry. He wouldn’t let her die, not now. When it was finally over her knees buckled, the energy cutting off instantaneously. She fell to her hands and knees before he could catch her; “Usako!” he called, following her down, placing a hand lightly on her back to keep the energy flowing as he knelt beside her. “Are you alright?” he asked as her dress flickered and faded back into her Jewel Tiara attire; worried, he pulled even more energy, afraid that it still wasn’t enough.
 
“I…” her fingers pressed into the Earth as she shook her head, warm tears falling to the ground. “I couldn’t do it.” Her voice shook; without needing to think he rested his hand on her arm closest to him and she responded, sitting up hug him, burying her face in his chest as she hugged him fiercely. He held her back, keeping her close; he had no idea what she was going through, but he had to know whether Queen Serenity was… taken care of. She answered his question before he had to ask, sobbing quietly but gaining strength quickly as she pulled away and looked up at him, still shorter despite both of them kneeling, her face red and eyes heartbreakingly sad. “I couldn’t do it, Mamochan! I couldn’t kill her!”
 
He nodded and pulled her in to hug her again – she looked like she was about to break. He held her, his mind whirling with possibilities – if she hadn’t killed Queen Serenity, where was Queen Serenity now? Where did she escape to? He looked around, scanning the immediate area for any sign of her; Usako stopped him. “She isn’t here,” she said, her voice reverberating through his chest. He stopped looking around; she continued. “I sealed her away, and sent her to the Moon.”
 
He let out the breath he hadn’t realized he had been holding. “Then Earth is safe.” He barely dared to say it, but once it was out relief flooded through him. However; she was still tense, still holding him tightly, like a lifeline. He held her, waiting for her to talk it out, but she seemed intent on holding it in. “You did the right thing,” he coaxed, hoping to convince her, “There was nothing else you could have done. She was too far gone; Diana’s words had done their damage.” He paused, “You saved the world, Usako; you saved everyone’s lives.”
 
She held him for a minute more, then finally nodded and pulled back slowly “Only after you saved mine,” she said, and kissed him. As her lips touched his he felt something like a spark, and then it was like he was weightless; there was only Usako, only Serenity… everything else faded away. Her lips, her breathing, her skin against his fingers… her familiar silver shine. He lost himself in her completely; the kiss could have lasted for a moment or for an eternity, and he would not have minded the latter for an instant. It ended when she reluctantly pulled away.
 
But really he wasn’t finished yet. “You saved mine first,” he replied, pulling her in for another. She was back – back from the dead, back from the Dark Kingdom, back with him.
 
He could get used to that.
 
“Well, well, well!” The kiss ended abruptly as they both pulled back, searching for the source of the interruption. Mamoru nearly fell backwards when he found them – all four of them, walking their way, their weapons held casually or completely gone. “Here we thought he might need help, and what do we find? He’s macking on Usagi-chan!” Midori shouted, his teasing voice light and filled with laughter. They were different – each had changed, their outfits white and gold as opposed to blue-grey, their capes fully unfurled; they were dressed as they had been in their previous lives, mirroring his own transformation. While bruised, they held themselves without obvious pain; he couldn’t help the smile on his face. He stood, helping Usako up, and waited for them to close the distance, letting whatever mocking remarks they came up with fly.
 
“I don’t blame him, I guess,” Moegi dropped, grasping Mamoru’s forearm as Mamoru grabbed his in a familiar handshake from their previous lives. The blond gave him a devious smile, “Usagi-chan is pretty and charming and fun; I’d probably forget all about my friends if a girl like her wanted to kiss me. Even if they were in mortal peril.”
 
“Are you guys okay?” Usako asked worriedly.
 
“He’s kidding, Usagi-chan,” Hanada replied, glancing at Mamoru as he continued, “It got pretty bad for a while there, but with that burst of power not too long ago, we pulled through.”
 
He looked as though he wanted to hear about what had happened, but Mamoru gave him a look that said “later”, and instead asked, “What about the army of monsters? Are – did you get all of them?” He could easily believe it, just based on how much Midori was preening.
 
“Not all of them,” Kobai replied honestly, “A few escaped, but they won’t take long to hunt down.”
 
“But we did get most of them,” Moegi added quickly.
 
“Four of us against an army and who wins?” Midori nodded conceitedly, “Yeah,” he brushed off his left shoulder, “This is Golden Kingdom territory.” He casually raised a fist and Moegi bumped it. “Told you we’d win.”
 
Hanada and Kobai rolled their eyes, though the second did crack a smile.
 
They had all survived. Well, all but… “Helios?” Mamoru asked, tensing immediately.
 
Hanada nodded, “Resting, but alive.”
 
He let out a breath of relief. If that horse died… well, who else would breathe down his neck every morning? Helios, Hanada, Moegi, Midori, Kobai… they had all made it. But Beryl… he left them, looking for where he thought he saw her fall. Kobai followed, and together they scanned the barren earth and scrub grass until finally he spotted her. He knelt down, his hand hovering above her body, and felt for signs of life. For a moment there was nothing, but then he felt it – a tiny, weak heartbeat. Immediately he sent the healing energy into her. Kobai, beside him, offered the little brunette his finger as a way to help her stand.
 
“What happened?” Kobai asked as Beryl took the offered help and pulled herself to her feet, her wings beating weakly.
 
Mamoru answered before she could, glad she was alive despite whatever trouble she caused. “She went looking for the senshi’s power gems and brought them back to Usako, then tried to wrest the Silver Crystal away from Queen Serenity.”
 
Kobai’s face contorted to a look of absolute incredulity, but before he could voice his admonishments, Beryl spoke up.
 
“It wasn’t the best idea, I admit, but it was the only one I could think of,” she looked up at Mamoru, dark eyes holding a sadness that her smile betrayed. “Looks like you did it without me.”
 
“Thank you for trying,” he replied, not sure what else to say.
 
“No problem,” she replied, brushing off her skirt before hopping into the air, recovered enough to fly. He didn’t like where he was leaving things with her – she risked her life trying to save him, how do you thank someone enough for that? But she didn’t seem to want anything else; she was flitting about, looking anywhere but at him. He sighed. Things between them might get even more strained. Standing, he looked around, too, taking in the barren field, the scraggly forests, the dilapidated castle in the distance… Elysion was going to need some work. And with monsters still on the loose it would take even longer to make things right.
 
But they wouldn’t do that now. He had already decided – Elysion was their responsibility, his most of all, but for now, they would go back to Tokyo and celebrate their victory. They’d hang out in the Crown Arcade, watching as Hanada and Midori competed for top scores, grab a soda at the Fruit Parlor, maybe watch a movie… His eyes found her and a smile tugged at his lips until he realized what she was doing. Kneeling, she was picking up another of the senshi’s power gems; Mercury’s, based on the position. He went to her, as did Midori and Moegi, Kobai and Hanada following him.
 
“So… what do we do with the Crystals now?” Midori asked, “Is there some sort of disposal protocol, or…?” he looked over to Hanada, who shot him a dirty look, putting a finger to his lips. “What?” Midori returned defensively.
 
“You okay, Usagi-chan?” Moegi asked with some confusion, clearly a little uncomfortable with the situation.
 
She stood and Mamoru put a comforting hand on her back, wanting to show his support as he walked with her. She returned to what had been the center of the square, where her belt lay across the ground, Venus’s gem still shining violently within. She sat with her legs bent beneath her, placing Jupiter’s, Mars’s, and Mercury’s crystals carefully in her lap before she reached for the belt and freed Venus’s crystal from its containment system. As her fingers grasped its yellow-gold surface the light within danced and orange sparks erupted across its surface.
 
“What happened to her?” he asked.
 
“Diana,” she replied. She reached into her pocket and withdrew the Silver Crystal; behind him he could hear the capes rustle as his friends reacted to its unexpected emergence. The crystal glowed briefly, bathing Venus’s crystal in a soft light. Within the gem, the frenzied motion slowed, stabilizing until it finally shone again with a shine similar to the other senshi’s gems. Returning the Silver Crystal to her pocket, she held her friend’s soul in her hands, her eyes brimming with tears again. “Rest in peace, Venus.”
 
He knelt down with her, not knowing what else to do or say, when suddenly the belt buckle started to glow. He reached forward and turned it over, letting the pale stone shine upward, and near immediately Luna’s holographic forum materialized. “Princess!” the cat cried.
 
“Princess?!” Midori echoed, and was immediately shh’d by Hanada.
 
“Princess, you’re alive! And the whole time, right under my nose – I’m such a fool! Serenity, I’m so glad – but what’s wrong?”
 
“Luna,” Usako replied, “Venus, and Jupiter, and Mars and Mercury… my mother, they’re all… and you, too, aren’t you?”
 
The cat smiled, “Your mother returned to us not too long ago; she’s safe here, resting in the Kingdom she created.” Luna paused, watching Usako with love in her eyes, taking her in as though memorizing her. “Don’t be sad, Serenity. Or should I say, Usagi-chan?” there was a smile in her voice,  “You’ve been given a second chance at life on Earth, live it. And if you should ever wish to return to the Moon –“
 
“But it’s not fair!” Usako cried, clenching her open fist. “Venus and the others were given a second chance, too, weren’t they?! They had new families and new lives, and Diana ruined them! It’s not fair that I should get a second chance and they don’t!”
 
“Usagi-chan…” the cat nudged her head forward, as though bunting Usako across the vast distance between them. “The Illusionary Silver Crystal is strange and powerful, and they say it, too, can perform miracles…”
 
 
 
 
They must have looked strange, if not downright suspicious, especially now that they were back in their civilian clothes. When Kobai’s cousin returned with the car, they could all barely fit; the number of occupants having doubled since the trip over, which had been tight as it was. It was a sign of family that he didn’t ask Kobai any questions about the four unconscious girls that barely fit into the backseat of his car, and a testament to his driving skills that they weren’t pulled over in the early morning traffic. When, after nearly an hour of quiet groans and complaints about not having any room, they reached the private landing field at the Airport (Midori had called ahead), they managed to squeeze themselves out of the car and get the civilian-clothed girls on their backs to carry to the plane. Usako ran around them, Helios as a “stuffed animal” draped over her shoulder as she adjusted arms and jackets and skirts; Hanada was the only one unencumbered, as Mamoru had previous-life-Sailor Mercury on his back; he didn’t know how the blond had managed to get out of carrying one of them, but he didn’t mind the weight in the least. Midori had some questioning glances when he approached the plane’s stairs with a tall brunette’s arms draped across his chest and her sleeping head on his shoulder, but with a small rant about passports and rescues, his crew helped them aboard, settling the girls in with seatbelts on the back row.
 
As the plane soared easily in the skies, heading east, and the stewardess was taking drink orders, Mamoru turned to Usagi who sat beside him, leaning across him to get a better look at the girls. “So they won’t remember anything?”
 
She shook her head, her blonde hair draping into his lap. “Luna said they probably won’t.”
 
“What do you think they’re like?” he asked.
 
Usako looked up at him, then leaned back in her seat, and put her head on his shoulder, her bun softly touching his ear. “They’re wonderful. I just know it.”
 
He smiled, putting his arm around her as she took his free hand, interlacing her fingers in his. He enjoyed the feeling for a moment, the sense of completeness that came with being beside her, knowing that the nightmare had ended. Diana was defeated, Queen Serenity sealed away, and the Earth was safe. And not only that, but he had Usako, and Serenity, and his friends, and now hers. Somehow it had all worked out. Elysion would take time to heal, but one day he would restore it to its former glory, and then…
 
Well, he didn’t need to think that far ahead just now.
 
“Looking forward to more hospital food?” he teased; Usako would have to return there; after her escape the doctors would have to check her out again, and probably keep her under surveillance for a bit.
 
She made a face. “No, but the longer I stay there, the more I get to know them,” she replied, ending with a smile. They had decided that, while transformed, they would drop the four of them off at the hospital. The police could handle it from there, finding their parents and reuniting the girls with the families who had been without them for months. Usako’s thumb rubbed the back of his hand nervously. “I hope they like me.”
 
He kissed the top of her head, but Midori, fully reclined in a row of seats in front of them, replied before he could. “They will; it’s impossible not to like you, Usagi-chan.”
 
“Are you going to tell them about being Senshi, if they don’t remember?” Hanada asked, tapping the back of his pen on a fresh notepad that he had fished out of his bag right after liftoff. Across from Hanada, Kobai was watching closely for her answer.
 
Usako shook her head. “No,” she replied, “They deserve peace.” She paused. He smiled, agreeing with her. They all deserved peace; Hanada, Moegi, Midori, Kobai, Helios, Beryl, him and Usako. They could let the past rest and simply enjoy the present, with school and clubs and discussions over drinks in a café. Usako cocked her head thoughtfully, adding, “And video games. And ice cream, and cake, and crepes.” He chuckled. She yawned, “By the way, how long is this flight?”
 
“A few hours,” he replied.
 
In minutes most of the plane was sleeping. Usako was asleep on his shoulder, breathing softly, one hand still holding his. Midori was snoring softly, his long and curly brown hair draped down to the floor of the plane, his right foot propped up on the wall beside him. Moegi slept quietly, his forehead pressed against the shaded window beside him; across from him, Hanada went in and out of sleep, jotting something down whenever he stirred. Only he and Kobai were really awake, and Mamoru was fading fast. Kobai smiled at him, and he smiled back. They didn’t need to say anything.
 
 
 
 
The End.
 
=D SO THAT WAS THE VERY FIRST FANFICTION I’VE EVER COMPLETED!
 
… but it’s not over yet. O_o  Because this whole story was told from Mamoru’s perspective, I feel that a lot of stuff was left out – conversations that he wasn’t part of, events he wasn’t there for, explanations and thought processes he wasn’t privy to – and so I don’t think the story is truly finished. And then we have the whole Silver Millennium to play with! And what happens afterwards?! Will there be a Chibi-Usa, or a Chibi-Mamo?! What is their future like in the New Golden Kingdom? Is Nehelenia still around? Pharaoh 90? Who knows! =D I certainly don’t; not yet, anyway.
 
But I can tell you that I’ve got powerups planned for the boys, so those’ll probably show up in one form or fashion, either in the little one-shots that I plan on posting after this story ((Yes, It’ll be marked as completed, yet I’ll still occasionally update it with new one shots ♥)) or even as a whole sequel.
 
Anyway! Thank you for sticking around until the very end! Thank you for your follows, favorites, and reviews! They kept me going and enthused about this project!
 
Immediately next for Cardinal King is a few little one-shots I have already started (or finished, haha) and editing previous chapters – I’ve noticed a few grammar mistakes and wrong-words (>.> I trust the red and green Microsoft office squigglies too much), and then I have to swap all East King to West King stuff officially, and make sure that everything I wrote in one chapter stayed through throughout the story. ^_^ Editing, woo!
 
Thank you, everyone!
 
Sincerely,

Kyralih.

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PostSubject: Re: [Story] Cardinal King -COMPLETE-   22nd February 2014, 5:44 pm

Quote :
While writing Cardinal King, I tried keeping the chapters in a loose parallel to the manga chapters (you know, until the end there. …sorrynotsorryXD), but in doing so I left a lot out - a lot of tiny moments, important conversations that Mamoru wasn’t privy to (and thus could not be in the main story), realizations from other characters, their backstories, their feelings, memories from the past that never came to light in the telling of the tale. So while I may or may not continue with the timeline, following Mamoru and his Heavenly Kings until they realize New Elysion on Earth, I do want to get these stories out (of my system, at least).

They’re alphabetically themed, so there’s that. probs going to be 26 then. o_o yup.

Here is A is for Answers, written with “Angels” by Within Temptation playing in the background xD

She landed with a thud, first her feet, then her knees, and then her hands hitting the soil before she launched herself forward, fumbling as her balance fought with the stronger gravity of the planet. She stumbled, but continued, racing as she finally gained control, running full-out towards the castle. A rush of energy sparking through the air told her that they had followed; she pushed harder, striving towards the gates. She had to know.

“Princess! Come back!” Venus pleaded, her voice strong as she accumulated to the surface world.

“No!” she yelled, her toes pushing her forward as she finally reached the stone passageway. She threw her hand out to catch a column and propelled herself down the hallway that ran perpendicular to their garden; out of the corner of her eye she saw Jupiter racing parallel to her, meaning to cut her off at the next opening, so she caught a doorknob, twisted, and spun inside, her feet tripping in the process but she made it through, able to close the door after her. She was in a tea-room; Endymion’s rooms were still above and east of her, so she kept running. Her feet stained the soft carpet beneath her with grass and mud, but… her brows tightened and her heart hurt; what if it were true? But it couldn’t be! No! She raced forward, faster than the rumors could spread, faster than the doubt could move.

Careening around corners she startled sleepy guards into following her, but with Venus and the others behind there was no way the guards would catch her. She stumbled up the stairs and down the hall, then finally found his rooms. She pulled the door open and dashed inside, then to his bedroom door. This would be locked, so she hit the door flat-palmed, “Endymion!” she called, “Endymion! Endymion!” her cries getting louder and louder; she couldn’t tell if he was moving behind the door – she couldn’t be quiet long enough to listen. They could be here any minute –

“Princess Serenity?” a breathless Kunzite breathed curiously, his sword drawn and ready as he entered the room; he lowered the blade, but she had no time to give to him. She continued to call for Endymion, yelling now. Behind her the room started to fill – Kunzite was joined by equally confused Nephrite, calculating Zoisite, and suspicious Jadeite. And then the senshi were at the door; a confrontation started –

“Princess!” Mercury

“Let us through!” Jupiter shoved into Nephrite, who barely held his ground.
“What’s going on here?” Kunzite demanded.
“Move aside!” Venus replied, equally demanding.
“What is going on?!” Zoisite seconded; the shitennou were on guard now.
“She said Move aside!” Mars repeated.

- but finally her palms moved farther as the door flew open. She threw herself at him, her hands hitting his bare chest as she stared up into his eyes, looking for truth or lies in the blue depths she loved so much.

“Serenity, what—?” he started, but there was no time for niceties!

“Do you intend to invade the Moon?” she interjected, her voice calm despite the mad beating of her heart, the flames and ice water coursing through her veins.

He looked honestly confused. “No,” he answered, but she pressed him further.

“Are you planning to extend Earth’s boundaries to encompass the Moon?”

“No,” he replied, his voice strengthening as the line of his brow furrowed in something akin to betrayal.

“Is Earth going to start a war?!”

“No!” he rebutted, his eyes concerned as she felt his hands take her shoulders, suspicion growing in his body language, “Serenity’s what is going on?!”



B is for Backup
He had known from the moment they landed in Elysion that he wouldn’t be with Endymion at the end.

He slammed his fist in the face of a huge bull-like creature and felt some small satisfaction when its snout caved in and it flew backwards, knocking over other enemies in its wake. He liked that his weapon was meant for close combat – stone knuckles that created shockwaves? Jackpot! – but the victories here were always short-lived; while that one had disappeared, another slid into place, its maw snarling and hissing, reaching for him hungrily, and beside it, another, and another. His fists flew out to knock them back, to try to cut a path through the throng that would get them to Diana before it was too late, but even with Kobai, Moegi, and Hanada contributing, they were getting nowhere fast.


It had been a weird thought – the notion that he would let them go on without him – but, stranger still, was how completely calm he was about it. It wasn’t about him anymore; it was about something so much bigger. It was Earth, it was peace. It was about Mamoru, and Khalid, Yuu and Kaito, and the future that they would bring. It was about Usagi-chan, and his hope that she was alright; as much as he believed in Mamoru, he knew it would devastate him were she completely lost to them.

They were outnumbered, the monsters replacing themselves faster than they could destroy them. He took a step back to give him room to strike forward and nearly jumped when his shoulder crashed into something – he whipped his head around to see the new threat, but found himself staring slightly down at Yuu Moegi, a dagger in his hand, glancing back at him. Yuu’s blue eyes were determined through the red mask on his face, though his concern for the situation was written plainly on his face. In that moment he knew what he was going to do, and knew that Yuu understood. Someone had to draw the monsters off again, give the others a brief respite, time to move farther in, and Nero had the perfect little trick to do just that. Yuu frowned, not liking the idea; Nero smiled, reassuring him, and turned back to the battle.

He had wanted to be with Mamoru just in case Usagi-chan really was gone; he wanted to face it with him. He wanted to face Diana, to punch her straight in the face, hitting her so hard she went back into the past and stayed there. He wanted to be there when all of this was over and brag about how he knew they would make it.

The brief distraction he needed to implement his idea was presented by Mamoru, as his Prince sent an energy blast forward, creating a path through the monsters towards the center of the battlefield. He gripped tight on his weapon in his left hand, and used his right to push Yuu after Mamoru, standing his ground and nodding to Kaito and Khalid as the West King brought up the rear. His friend paused only for a moment, then saluted him with his curved blade and followed after their Prince. They would get him to his goal – Nero knew that. He moved to block their exit and started yelling out taunts. He didn’t know if the monsters understood what he was saying about their faces or their mothers, but it looked like his point got across okay.

As he laced his fingers together and brought his power to bear, he still felt like they would make it. Dropping quickly and slamming his fists into the ground with all his might, he created a shockwave that threw the monsters back for a good twenty meters; but already more surged forward to fill their places. He smiled, catcalling them – maybe he was thick-skulled, but he still believed they would make it.

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PostSubject: Re: [Story] Cardinal King -COMPLETE-   9th June 2014, 10:34 pm

C is for Corruption
 
Venus tossed her bait to the floor as soon as they landed back in the decrepit palace of Elysion, scowling as she motioned a Phase-creature over to take the prisoner away. She turned to leave, to report to Diana and plan a new attack. She hadn’t gotten the crystal; she hadn’t killed the Prince.
 
“You’ll never win!” the girl cried out defiantly as the Phase-creature hauled her to her feet, “The Heavenly Kings will stop you!”
 
…But she had a consolation prize. She turned and strode powerfully back to the girl, her gloved hand easily wrapping itself around the girl’s throat as she pushed her backwards into the crumbling wall, Venus’s eyes slicing into hers. This interloper needed to understand her place – she was the new love interest of the old Prince of Earth, and the final nail in his coffin. If he had shown even a fraction of her own pain at the loss of Serenity, even a shadow of the loss she felt, she might have tried to talk Diana out of enslaving the world, but now? Now that the Prince had shown that his “one true love” was but infatuation, something easily thrown away in sight of a new face, she finally saw what the others had seen. Finally she understood the true worth of Terrans and found them and their shallow hearts to be cheap. She squeezed a little harder, her anger eclipsing despair and regret as she recalled how naïve she had been, how easily she trusted that the Prince’s heart had been true, and how much time she had wasted pulling punches in memory of her Princess’s love. If she had only realized sooner, would Mercury and Jupiter had to have died? But no matter, now she would avenge that heart and the heartache the Princess would have inevitably caused; and she would break him, starting with the girl he had sold the planet for.
 
Venus’s hand relaxed momentarily in confusion, and not wishing to appear weak, she used the opportunity to toss the girl aside and walked away, a troubling thought worming its way into her mind. There had been something in that girl’s eyes, something in her resilient, yet understanding gaze that felt almost familiar.
 
---------------------------
She stood stoically beside Diana, watching the hoard of Moon Phase creatures writhing beneath them in a sea of monsters. One hand on her hip, one foot propped up on the ruins of the parapet they stood on, she was making mental notes and calculations, planning both for an invasion and a defense of Elysion, should Endymion take the bait. But even as she surveyed and planned, she could not shake the uneasy notion that had been brewing in the back of her mind since her interrogation with ‘Jewel Tiara’, Tsukino Usagi. A brief scan of the empty rooftop around them gave her an opening, and while even the notion made her feel foolish, she asked her question anyway. “Is there even a chance that Serenity has been reborn with us?”
 
Diana stepped back from the ledge and gave her a suspicious glance, “Impossible,” she replied, “We have spoken on this topic before. Serenity could not be reborn as you and I and your fellow senshi had been, for she had died before the miracle gave us new life in this future.”
 
Mars had asked a similar question several months ago, when all of it had begun, when they had begun to remember their past, and understand their present situation. Their duty to the Moon Kingdom to avenge the death of their people and their beloved Princess. “But,” she tried again, despite Diana’s annoyance with her continuance, “What if the timing was just perfect? What if her essence had been saved?”
 
“By ‘essence’ I assume you mean her soul, and, again, we have spoken of this, Venus,” Diana turned to her with a mix of exasperation and pity, “Our souls are protected by our Star Seeds, yours by your Sailor Crystal, and Princess Serenity shared her star seed with Queen Serenity in the form of the Silver Crystal. You have seen that Silver Crystal, Venus, and Queen Serenity’s body encased therein; it was not reborn into this future. I do not know what happened to Princess Serenity’s soul; I don’t know if it faded away, returned to the Galaxy Cauldron, or is being protected in the same way Queen Serenity’s body is, but there is no chance that it was reborn.”
 
Feeling sheepish, Venus held her tongue and returned to her job. It had been a stupid idea anyway. The similarities in appearance between Jewel Tiara – or, Tsukino Usagi – and Princess Serenity were mere coincidences, the elaborate trick of thousands of years of genetics working their way perfectly to give her pause. But the pause it gave her… the girl’s smile, her demeanor, the feeling of familiarity when their eyes met… she couldn’t let the argument go just yet. “If she had been reborn, how would our mission change?”
 
“Venus, we are planning a war; your hypotheticals serve no purpose here.”
 
“Would we even have a war?” she continued, thinking of the girl’s easy smile, her trusting gaze. “If Princess Serenity were here, we would have no reason to fight Earth anymore, would we? We could go back to the Moon Kingdom and rebuild, we could live in whatever peace we could muster –“
 
“And lose?!” Diana yelled, anger flaring in her eyes.
 
“We have already lost!” Venus yelled back, her voice cracking. “Our people, our Kingdom, our friends!” she paused, the memory of their deaths in this lifetime had left her empty, and this complete denial of the chance that Serenity could yet be alive after secretly building hope in Usagi was tearing down whatever reserves she had left. “Mars, Jupiter, Mercury! They fought and died avenging Serenity’s death, gathering energy from the Terrans – innocent Terrans, who had no hand in what happened in our past – so that we could awaken Queen Serenity – for what?! To destroy the world that had destroyed our Princess?
 
“But what if she had gotten the same chance we have?! If Princess Serenity has been reborn, we don’t need to fight anymore! We don’t need to risk awakening Queen Serenity and confronting the corrupted crystal – we could live in peace!”
 
“Venus!” Diana snapped, a scowl darkening her face.
 
“It’s not what Serenity would have wanted in the first place!” Venus continued, her resolve strengthening. They could escape, she and Usagi; they could return to Earth, go into hiding. She wasn’t sure if the girl was her Princess reborn, but she was willing to take the chance, and to separate herself from what Diana was planning. She might even jump sides to prevent this massacre. Why hadn’t she thought of this before?! They had been operating on their own feelings of sadness and anger and loss, rather than considering what Serenity would have wanted for them. “She would have never wanted something like this to happen – killing innocents to somehow make up for her death? Continuing to fight in a war that ended thousands of years ago, a war that she detested? Diana!” she pointed out over the fields, “This is no way to honor her!
 
“She is alive,” she continued, “I know she is. I’ve found her. Diana, if you would just talk to her, listen to her voice, look at her, you would see it, too! We haven’t killed anyone yet, we can still stop before it’s too late!” She paused, breathing heavily, watching Diana, gauging her, her body tense and ready to run.
 
Diana’s expression became neutral, her eyes softening. “Do you really think it’s her?” she asked, and Venus’s heart surged.
 
“I do.”
 
Diana looked out over their field of monsters and sighed. “Then it’s already too late,” she said.
 

Confusion kept her grounded for only a split second longer than usual, but that split second cost her everything. Diana was on her, knocking them both down, her fingers clawing at Venus’s forehead, casting her tiara aside. Venus struggled, but Diana had her arms pinned beneath the weight of her knees. The last thing she felt was Diana’s thumb pressing against the center of her forehead, and then a rush of burning energy.

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PostSubject: Re: [Story] Cardinal King -COMPLETE-   10th June 2014, 1:38 pm

D is for Decoy
“I’m home!” Nero Midori yelled to the empty foyer, his voice echoing loudly through the grand hallway.
 
The fairy, who had been in a terribly bad mood from the get-go, practically shook with distaste as she rounded on him, “Have you no respect?!” she hissed quietly, her tiny finger pointing at him angrily.
 
He smiled broadly, laughing loudly into the cavernous space, “What, for empty rooms? Chill out, Fairy Princess, no one sleeps near here.” His grin faltered as his clever nickname caught up with him. “You weren’t a princess in the past or anything, right?” His stomach flipped – what if they were related? Or, worse, betrothed? His nose crinkled at the thought.
 
“Hardly,” she replied snippily, flying off, hopefully to cool off about whatever had her in a tizzy.
 
He led the way to the guest rooms, walking casually with his hands behind his head, glancing around to see if the decorator had swapped out any paintings recently. The silence creeping up on them, he glanced over at his guest, the last of their team. Khalid Kobai was a transfer student, like him; he originally lived in the Middle East, but through small talk Nero had already learned he moved back to Tokyo with his mother after something happened with his father. Or, at least, that was Nero’s best guess, as the other guy hinted at only needing to tell his mother about his new living arrangements. They’d decided – rather, Helios, Khalid and Beryl had decided, it didn’t really matter to him one way or another – that Khalid would move into the mansion here to better help with his defense. The notion irked him a bit – he could take care of himself, did they not see that giant crater on the back lawn? – and, logically speaking, he was pretty much cleared by Moon Kingdom standards, right? Jupiter’s ghost cloud or whatever had been through here and came back empty handed, so why would they need to revisit his humble abode?
 
Eh, regardless, he like the opportunity to get to know the other, see what it was like fighting alone for so long. Maybe coax him into playing some video games – the guy looked like he could use a little amusement. As they rounded the last corner to the hall of guest bedrooms and he chose a room at random, opening the door for his guests, he made an attempt to strike up a conversation, asking casually, “So, you’re going to be the Decoy Prince?”
 
“Looks like you’ve already got that covered,” Khalid replied, his tone cool as he stepped through the door.
 
“I…what?” Nero replied, the insinuation struggling to make sense. He looked to Helios and saw his confusion mirrored there. Beryl zipped between them, and Helios was quick to fly into the room after her.
 
What do you mean?” his mentor asked with suspicion, and Nero followed, wanting to know exactly the same. He shut the door behind them. Khalid stood at the window; Beryl on the wardrobe beside. Nero stepped aside as Helios grew in size, probably as a means of getting the truth quickly out of the pair of them. Nero’s arms crossed his chest defensively – what did they mean, he had it covered? He wasn’t the decoy prince, Khalid was; they had just discussed it back at the scene. “Midori Nero is no decoy – he –
 
“Well he’s not Prince Endymion, so what would you call him?!” Beryl interrupted in an agitated yell, stomping her foot and glaring at Helios without remorse, “He is not Prince Endymion, and your farcical attempt to keep that quiet has put the real prince in danger! It’s just unforgivable, Helios!”
 
Not Prince Endymion?!” Helios returned, nearly as passionate, “Midori Nero transformed without a pendant, has rallied the Kings and has access to the Golden Crystal! This is Endymion, Prince of Earth!
 
“Oh please,” Beryl scoffed, pointing at Nero. Her eyes were still bright with anger as she stared down Helios, “It’s Nephrite, can’t you see that?!” her words hung in the air as Helios turned, slowly, to stare at him. He could feel Helios’s questions in his gaze, his disbelief, and Nero fought not to let it get to him, standing straight under the scrutiny. A moment passed, and Nero met and kept Helios’s gaze. “You really can’t, can you?” Beryl added, her voice softening. “You’ve forgotten, as they have… Well,” she said, suddenly taking flight, “This is one thing you need to remember,” she alighted on Helios’s nose and knelt down, her hand touching his forehead beneath his horn. She muttered something, and Helios stood stock still as her hand began to glow.
 
“What’s she doing?” Nero asked.
 
“Trying to unlock his memories,” Khalid replied calmly, still looking out towards the city.
 
He hummed a response. Seconds ticked by. “Has she tried that on you?” he asked, trying to get a better picture as the energy of the moment strummed in the air.
 
“Yes,” Khalid replied.
 
“So… do you remember it?” Nero asked, clarifying, “Our past?”
 
 His guest turned to face him, “Enough,” he replied with a shrug.
 
He smiled, “I’m really not him, am I?”
 
Khalid shook his head, “No.”
 
Nero nodded his head. He wasn’t the Prince. He felt like that should have come as a relief, or maybe should have made him a little envious or jealous of whoever it really was, but, honestly, he didn’t feel much of anything. Probably because he hadn’t really taken the whole Prince thing seriously, he reasoned. It had been annoying, really; being ordered to sit on the sidelines, always having someone with him, having to ask his dad weird questions about that old family heirloom. … Honestly the constant company wasn’t too annoying; he liked these guys, they felt like the first real friends he’d had, but not being the prince didn’t change that at all. Well, not for him, anyway. “Who is it?” he asked instead, considering the three of them: Mamoru, Yuu, and Kaito.
 
“You already know.”
 
Did he? Yuu acted like a prima donna sometimes; if he were the real prince they were all doomed. Er, comically speaking, he mentally amended, not wanting to inadvertently jinx this whole save-the-world deal. Kaito as prince… well, it wouldn’t be a bad idea, would it? Kid’s smart, annoying for sure, but Nero could picture him running a country. …but it didn’t feel right. Glancing at their new ally, he suddenly wondered if his chain was being pulled – was Khalid the prince? He had that leadership quality, a little more on the tough side than Mamoru, but… and suddenly it hit him. He got it, and he felt idiotic considering anyone else. “It’s Mamoru, isn’t it?” he decided. He didn’t exactly know how he knew, just that he did.
 
Khalid nodded just as Beryl jumped off of Helios and the unisus blinked, shaking his head. ‘Mamoru, all this time?’ he trailed off, hanging his head. ‘All this time and I never realized… I was living with him and I never even suspected…
 
“Hey,” Nero offered, interrupting Helios’s little self-thrown pity-party, “Couple thousand years or so would mess with anyone’s memory, right? Don’t worry too much about it. I mean he’s alive and kicking, that’s gotta count for something.”
 
Beryl, back on her wardrobe perch, huffed, muttering quietly, “Risking his life fighting senshi, dallying with unknown entities, practically giving himself away to the enemy with a narrowly avoided Golden Energy attack, but, you know,” she gesticulated wildly with an exaggerated shrug, “hey, at least he’s still alive and kicking so there’s that.”
 
Nero scowled at her blatant sarcasm but let it go; mistakes had been made in ignorance, now they can make things right. “So what’s the plan now?” he asked, though he already knew how he wanted to move forward.
 
“Clear up this whole business and get to doing what we’re supposed to be doing – protecting Endymion,” Beryl stated. “Where does he live?”
 
“Wait,” Nero called, before Khalid could unlock the window, “Would that really be protecting him?” they all paused, Beryl looking at him like he was an idiot, Khalid not too far behind. “Helios, Moegi told me once about Mamoru’s original plan to protect the prince…
 
------

Loo de doo, always wanted to write out one of Beryl’s angry rants about how Mamoru had been treated xD I love reading through the first few chapters as though I were Beryl or Kunzite watching in on what was going on XD So many “WAIT, HE DID WHAT?!”s XD teehee bahaha.

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PostSubject: Re: [Story] Cardinal King -COMPLETE-   11th June 2014, 10:12 am

E is for Evening Star
 
He reclined, staring up at the night sky with a wash of puzzling nostalgia and momentary anxiety, his pulse reacting in a way he had never understood. It was just the full moon.
 
When he was younger he had calmly questioned his mother about it; having read something about repressed memories, he asked her about the stories told to him when he was a small child, wondering specifically if any had vilified the full moon. However, his mother could not place his apprehension, either: none of the bedtime stories she remembered telling featured the full moon or the moon in general. He would never know if the feeling stemmed from his father, so he was resigned now to accept it and move on. The full moon was something he subconsciously dreaded for a split second every time he laid eyes on it.
 
At first he had tried to dispel the fear by studying all he could about the moon; if he knew everything about it, there would be no reason to be afraid. He could recite many facts now about the moon, could tell time using its face, could predict tides and plot eclipses, could name every major feature of its Earth-facing side, yet still the feeling remained. He had been able to face down every fear he had ever had; he had learned what he could about it, faced it, and overcame it; but how could you face and overcome the moon?
 
The fear faded – it only lasted for a few seconds – and he looked away, instead watching the leaves twitching in the faint breeze. He let the night calm him, and once he was at ease, he looked up again, felt the fear, and tried to quiet it faster, his every nerve on end as the pale white glow started to burn into his eyes. He would overcome it.
 
 
The night progressed, his mother had been out to see him and retired to bed, and still he sat, watching the moon trek across the sky. His eyes were growing heavy when he felt a sharp jolt in his chest, a fear similar to that he was trying to fight, but must stronger, must more directed. He sat up with a start, taking his eyes off the moon to regain control, but the sharp panic did not falter. He felt the urge to run, and immediately fought it. He would not flee, especially from invisible dangers. He stood, breathing deeper, looking around and wondering if he had somehow driven himself crazy; and then wondering if a crazy person would ever consider that, feeling only marginally better about the situation.
 
Minutes passed and still the panic remained, lowering only slightly, and his instincts were on overdrive. Fight or flight. Fight or flight. But nothing was there. He could not calm himself down, and so he did what he always had: he decided to overcome it. He stood, not exactly knowing where he was going, and grabbed the nearest object to use for defense – a broom. Swinging it up over his shoulder, he let the bristle end hang behind his back as he strode casually into the front yard, and then down the street, away from their storefront home, following his feeling of fear. A scream up ahead threw him forward faster – it wasn’t his imagination, something dangerous was out there!
 
In a full sprint he raced down the block, following the scream, turning down an intersecting street, mentally reviewing his training in Wu Wei Kung Fu, a form of martial arts his father taught him. As he came upon the scene he hesitated for only a moment; he had been expecting thugs, maybe a thief, maybe a gang, but instead found himself face-to-face with a hulking beast. Strewn about in its wake were a trio of people, barely conscious; in its grip was a fourth, the woman who had screamed. He flipped the broom around and rushed forward, lunging to the side to avoid a swipe of its great paw, and stabbed, jabbing upward until he felt the end of the handle connect with something soft - the beast’s eye –and then pushed a little further and released.
 
It growled in rage, releasing the woman, whom he lunged for, caught, and deposited safely on the sidewalk before turning to face the beast again.
 
“Who – Kunzite?!” a high-pitched voice cried in alarm; he paid it no heed; still squaring off with the monster, moving slowly to keep its attention.
 
“Help them and run,” he instructed to whoever the new voice was, “And then call the police.”
 
“The police can’t help you,” the voice admonished as its owner flew in beside him, hovering close, but not blocking his view of the monster’s good eye. “They don’t have powers here; now what are you waiting for? Destroy it!”
 
Don’t have power here? He chanced a glance at her, and, shocked, forced his gaze back to the monster ahead of him. Was this some nightmare he had inadvertently provoked? A tiny human with insect wings was speaking to him as though they knew each other and suggesting that he had some sort of special ability that law enforcement did not; however, he had not fallen asleep. The world around him was real, he knew that. He also knew that the creature was about to strike. “Move!” he instructed sharply, ducking as a mammoth paw sliced through the air over his head; he dropped to a crouch and then sprang up to strike at a vulnerable spot. The beast recoiled, stepping back away from him, and the fairy flew back into view.
 
“You… you’re like them…” she stated, her voice suddenly unsure. She disappeared from view and he jumped and rolled aside, out of the monster’s attack, and struck again at an undefended flank; he could tell, however, that he wasn’t doing much damage. At this rate he would tire well before it did. “Oh! I understand now!” the fairy exclaimed, reappearing in front of him. “We’ve just got to unlock it! Here!” she hovered in the same spot and he dashed away, giving the creature another target as she did whatever she was doing; a moment later a pink stone was flying at him; he caught it instinctively. “Call upon it! Kunzite Power Transform!”
 
But he didn’t have to yell anything; as soon as he touched the stone a power washed over him, invigorating him, giving him strength. In a flash he felt a hilt form in the palm of his hand, a curved scimitar fitting comfortably, almost like an extension of his arm. He slashed forward, the weapon feeling natural in his grip, and sliced at the beast. He dealt a crucial blow; the creature yelled, then crumbled to dust as blue light dissipated. The light moved towards the unconscious victims, and immediately the people took a deep breath and started struggling to sit up.
 
 What was all that? His mind felt fuzzy as a narrative streamed through his consciousness; thoughts and memories that were far away, and yet he knew they were his. He was Khalid Kobai, and yet… he was someone else. Someone who had lived a different life, in a different land, someone who had something very important to protect; he was Kunzite, the King of the West, and… “Evening Star…” he said aloud, the name evoking a pang of sadness, a memory of shadows and light, murky and indistinct, took over his mind and was gone in a flash. What… or who…?
 
“West King…” the fairy called softly, bringing him back. “Are you…?”
 

“Let’s go.” He beckoned, turning back the way he had come, the long cape trailing theatrically behind him as the woman who had screamed called out after him, asking his name. He jumped, feeling he needed space, and found himself easily on a second story roof; he continue walking, the maneuver new and familiar at the same time; he jumped to neighboring rooftops, and finally stopped when he was well away from the scene. He turned to find the fairy - the name Beryl came to mind – and, accepting the indescribable assurance that nothing would ever be the same, invited an explanation. “What’s going on?”

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Title : Oh, you mean you DON'T have an Elephabulous? Shame.
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PostSubject: Re: [Story] Cardinal King -COMPLETE-   11th June 2014, 7:28 pm

F is for Fairy
 
Who is that?
Oh, her? I forget her name, but she’s a representative from one of those outlying areas.”
“Really?!”
“Shh!”
“Well, what’s she doing here? Vying for one of those water wells Prince Endymion is promoting?”
“I don’t think so; I heard she calls herself a sorceress.”
“No way!”
“I heard she came to join the Maenads – “
“Did she get in? We should go introduce ourselves – “
“No, I heard she choked on the exam; she was dismissed before even seeing Helios!”
“A charlatan then?”
“Probably.”
“Why is she still here?”
She softly sifted sand onto her paper, the particles clinging to the fresh ink, helping them to dry. Taking deep and even breaths, she deposited the remainder of her handful in the tiny sandbox built into the library’s table, then collected her pens, topped her inkwell, and stood to gather her precious tomes. She handled the books carefully, arranging them neatly in a stack to be carried, her eyes lingering on the topmost title, “The Science of the Arcane”. That this library would even consider letting her borrow a book such as this… that was why she remained. She collected her belongings, stowing the writing utensils in her soft shoulder bag, placing her letter on top of her books, and carefully lifted the stack from the table. She used her foot to tuck her heavy chair back into place, then turned towards the exit, her dark eyes casually passing over the pair of gossipers by the shelf of arcane books; their hair was done in the maenad styling, their eyes following her every move, their whispering voices hissing out from behind careful hands that blocked their mouths.
 
Who needed them? She told herself.
 
She turned to open the library’s great door with her back, putting her weight into turning the hinge; when enough space had been made, she twisted out into the sunlight of midday, blinking furiously to adjust to the light level, walking carefully so as not to disturb her precious cargo. Bells rang the hour, their reverberations singing through the city, and Beryl took another deep breath, expelling the air slowly and purposefully, releasing the rejection as best she could. This is where she belonged. She just had to make a place for herself.
 
Traversing the streets, she had one place in mind. If the Maenads would not have her, there were alternatives. She would continue to practice her art – they’d realize what fools they’d been one day – and meanwhile work to better herself –
 
A sharp tug at her shoulder set her off balance and her precious books fell into the street as her bag was torn from her; “Hey!” she tried to resist, her hand grabbing to the strap as best she could, but the thief’s speed quickly overcame her strength and she, too, fell into a heap in the street. Her bag, her belongings, her money, her hopes and future – what was she doing here?! Her eyes welled up, threatening to cry in her frustration at the world, at her shortcomings and her failure, but suddenly her bag reappeared before her.
 
“Are these yours?” a voice asked as a young man crouched down to her level. She nodded and gratefully took the satchel back, checking its bindings to be sure it was still intact, that nothing had broken.

“Thank you,” she said, satisfied that it was intact, and looked up to see whom her advocate had been; her breath caught in her throat, her eyes doubling in size – “Prince Endymion!”  He was looking off down the street in the direction the thief had run, but she would recognize that profile anywhere. Her heart thumped loudly in her chest, her cheeks blushing furiously; embarrassed, she looked away and immediately spotted her books. Gasping involuntarily, she lurched forward to recover them, hoping they had not been damaged; a pair of hands joined her and her concentration wavered.
 
“I apologize for the inconvenience,” he stated, “The guard in this sector will be increased.” She could practically feel his gaze shift to her, his attention making her jittery in an embarrassing way. “Are you hurt?” he asked, placing a book atop the one she had recovered.
 
“No,” she shook her head, “just a scratch.”
 
His hand hovered over hers and a pleasant warmth spread through her, gathering at her scraped palms and easing the pain in her shoulder from the sharp tug from before; she marveled, barely able to respond; he put the last book on the stack, scooped them up, and stood, offering his hand to her. Hesitantly she took it and he helped her to her feet. He offered her books and she held out her arms to accept them. “Thank you,” she replied, still feeling dazed and a little star struck; she had hoped to run into him again, but when she was a little more impressive…
 
“Oh,” he stooped and stood again, his charming blue eyes tracing a line in his hands, “Is this yours?”
 
She glanced at it and blushed, “Oh, um, yes it is,” she replied, spying her letter.
 
He smiled, placing the letter atop her books, “I’m sure you’ll do well at the University.” He caught her eye and his brow raised curiously, “Do I know you from somewhere? You look familiar…” She could barely breathe, yet she somehow managed to utter the name of her home town; she didn’t need to explain anything else, the recognition in his face told her that he remembered their brief time together without further description. “You’re Beryl, right?” She nodded, partway astonished that he remembered her name when they had barely spoken. “You were a great help constructing that well,” his smile was genuine as he added, “Elysion is lucky to have you.” Her heart skipped a beat. He then nodded his head and wished her a good day, calling out to one of his Heavenly Kings down the street as he left.
 
Why hadn’t she left?
 
…because she still wanted to work with him.
 
------------------------------
Within a year she went from student to colleague, surpassing her peers and learning everything she could about ancient mysticism and the arcane arts, along with general community planning and design; she was invited to the castle by a teacher to sit in on a debate over using public funding to build improvements away from their capital city; little by little she found her voice in these meetings, and soon was a deciding voice for the people from the far reaches of the Earth Kingdom. There she was strong, she was decisive, and she was good at what she did. Good enough, in fact, that she was noticed by Zoisite, one of Endymion’s guardians, and earned an invitation to sit at deciding meetings about future Golden-Kingdom-backed public projects.
 
At that point in her life, everything was perfect. She had power, she had a voice, she was recognized for her intelligence, and she was working closely with the Royal Family; even, on occasion, Prince Endymion. Still her heart fluttered when she saw him, but when she finally worked up the courage to approach him… she was gently turned down. She could not begrudge his choice; the world was changing, but not that quickly. She was from nowhere, she had no titles to her name, no power that she herself did not scrape up, but… it still hurt. She was able to hide it effectively; she continued to work closely with Endymion and the Heavenly Kings; they were on a first name basis, and while they sometimes joined forces to tease her, she felt like she was almost part of the team. And while she had not been inducted to the Heavenly Kings, she privately vowed to use her abilities to help protect the Prince in whatever way she could. She learned all she could of his power and theirs, of the Soul Gems they held, and acquired a Beryllite stone to use as her own magical focus. She wore the dark stone as a pendant across her forehead, closest to her power center – her mind – and did her very best at her job.
 
When rumors began to spread about Endymion’s love interest, she ignored them as best she could. It didn’t concern her; she wouldn’t get involved, she wouldn’t spread or listen to the rumors, she just did the best she could to continue working, and to quiet the little voice inside that still thought there was hope for her. However, when rumors reached her about the possibility that the girl was from the Moon, she took an interest. She had heard of such a notion – of people from the Moon – while studying… without much on her part, she suddenly became a leading authority on the Moon Kingdom, despite the lack of general knowledge about the place. She started academically reporting directly to High Priest Helios, so when hints of a war started brewing, she was on the informational frontline.
 
--------
The night of the battle she had been ordered to evacuate the castle with all other noncombatants, yet she remained, offering her arcane gifts to help Helios and the Maenads move the castle to the depths of Elysion. Once the deed was done, the Maenads and Helios turned to medical purpose; she, instead, stood watch from above. Using her skills she covertly aided the Earth forces where she could, but she knew from the beginning that it was futile. When Endymion and his protectors left the castle for the battlefield, she followed, shadowing Endymion quietly, a sword in hand and shield at the ready. She had not been trained in combat. She was afraid, but she had made her vow, such as it was, and she would not live with herself if something were to happen that she could have prevented.
 
As Diana honed in on him, she took his instruction and move back with the rest, her eyes on him, her mind running through enchantments that might help, fighting to remember a spell that could slow Diana down, maybe prevent her from teleporting – but in the end it was useless. She was there when the Moon Princess sacrificed herself for Endymion, and she saw the look on his face, the desperation in his tone, and knew that she never even stood a chance. But as desperation turned to crazed, to determined, she prepared herself for whatever came next. The Golden Crystal was known for its powers of growth, of rebirth; if he were to activate them now, everything could be sent to the future. They could all be reborn, the Moon Kingdom as well; they could be walking into a trap. As the Golden light erupted from his body, she had moments to decide on a plan; putting all of her faith in one notion, she cried out an incantation and shed her mortal skin just as the light moved through her, and came out whole. The rest of the populace was gone, sent who-knew-where or when, and she was alone but for two bodies. One was encased in crystal, the moonlight shining off of its surface in a threatening way. The other was hers.
 
 
Years passed; flowers grew over the grave she had made for herself, and she wondered how long the peace above would last. The library survived with her, but with time the entire castle was soon overtaken with the greenery of the inner-earth realm. She understood the fate she had given herself; in her new fairy body, she was no longer mortal. She would not age; she would not die of natural causes. She had exchanged her chance at an afterlife for the ability to one day be of some help to him; her soul gem was too weak now to ferry her on to whatever lay beyond. And while the notion could depress her, she continued on, waiting, caretaking, learning Elysion inside and out, until the day the reborn Moon Kingdom general returned…
 
----
The yelling had drawn their attention, and she flew ahead of Kunzite to scope out the scene; when she arrived the situation was nearly out of control – Zoisite hung in the air, held in place by one of the Sailor Senshi, Nephrite was motionless, Jadeite threw daggers ineffectively, but Endymion – she raced forward, aiming at his glowing hand – he was going to give himself away! After all they had done to throw suspicion on Kunzite, after all their careful planning, he was about to throw it all away! Her distraction worked, and she turned in time to see Kunzite’s sword plunge through and eliminate the blue warrior, but Zoisite was badly hurt.
 
As Endymion worked to heal him, both her mind and heart raced; she had forgotten what it was like to be near him, how he made her feel, but while her emotions were running wild she fought to regain control, thinking back to those texts she had memorized, that theory she had worked on; could she repurpose a soul gem? Could she adopt it as her own, give her soul another casing, another chance at an afterlife? With a powerful soul gem, maybe; it would have to be one that outlived its hosts corporeal form, one like that of a senshi… her eyes flickered to the blue gem suspended in space, and it was only respect for Endymion that kept her in place. When he had finished and the girl had taken it instead, her fury at the lost opportunity overpowered her hesitation around Endymion. They fought, and she fought back, taking out all of her frustrations in her argument, presenting solid points, and for a while it felt like no time had passed at all between them, until…
 
“Who are you, anyway?
 
… she was Beryl. And this time, he didn’t remember her.
----------------------------------------
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Phew! Sorry it got all EXPLAINy at the end there. ^^’ and brushed over a lot… and I’m still not sure if all the Beryl points I wanted to make were in there… But hopefully her motives came across, as did her reason for wanting the Sailor Crystals, and why she was so hurt that Mamoru did not remember her. ._.

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Sailor Uranus
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Title : Oh, you mean you DON'T have an Elephabulous? Shame.
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PostSubject: Re: [Story] Cardinal King -COMPLETE-   13th June 2014, 1:28 pm

G is for Grief, an alternate timeline starting just before the end of Chapter 11. In this, after awakening as Endymion, both Mamoru and Usagi escaped on Helios. Usagi was never captured.
 
She was gone. Gone! His heart ached eternally, a burning hole in his chest that sunk deeper and deeper. His mind could only think of her, Serenity, and how he had utterly failed her. She died for him! She died for him and she was never coming back! He failed, and she was paying the price yet again. In his hands the Golden Crystal was hot, burning like the sun in his palms, a false sun with thousands of promises it could not be counted upon to keep. How could it? How could the Golden Crystal bring everyone back but her, the one it was supposed to save?! Closing his fist around it, he threw it away, using all of his strength to send it flying into oblivion – it was only a curse. A useless curse. Limitless power? Power of growth, healing, and rebirth? Lies! If it were truly powerful it would have brought her back! Helios slowed, arching his wings to follow the crystal’s trajectory, screaming something in his mind, but he didn’t care, and he wouldn’t take it back!
 
He dismounted right then and there, bringing his leg over Helios’s back and slipping off into the cold night air, falling quickly but landing softly, his black and red cape doing its job to keep him safe. Once on the ground he started running, pushing his muscles harder and harder, faster and faster until his legs burned with the effort. Buildings flew by at incredible speeds, and yet he could still think. He thought of her, of her smile, her laugh, her face as she selfishly died in his arms. How could she? How could she leave him like that?!
 

 
And now… he tripped, his legs faltering at last. He lurched forward and landed on his knees, skidding forward harshly until his cape could minimize his inertia. He fell on his hands there, bracing himself as his tears finally flowed freely, his vision swimming before him. Everything was dark. Everything was black, but for her shining face. Like the moon in the dark of night, her memory reached out from the past and lit up his tunneled vision, his mind mercilessly teasing him with what could never be.
 
 
 
“Mamoru?” a soft voice hesitantly called after what seemed like an eternity spent staring at her face, tracing the curve of her cheek, the line of her eyes, memorizing what he had already committed to heart. What he could never again have. He did not answer the voice. Mamoru? Chiba Mamoru was but an empty life. His only true friends and family were from the past, a cruel exception made by the Golden Crystal; his time as Chiba Mamoru ended when his true self awakened to this nightmare without her.
 
“Endymion,” the voice corrected, the footsteps edging closer slowly.
 
“Go away, Zoisite,” he stated, unmoving from his position on the ground, staring still at the black pavement on hands and knees.
 
“We have to get you back to safety,” Zoisite insisted. “Venus escaped and she would like nothing more than to kill you.”
 
Is your love so fickle, Prince?’ His heart resounded, thumping painfully as her guardian’s words hit home again. He had been unfaithful to Serenity, his one true love. “Let her,” he replied. The idea blossoming like a beacon of light in his mind. He had tried and failed; Serenity was gone, so what reason was there that he survive? And if she were there… if there were such a thing as an afterlife…
 
A hand wrapped around his arm and pulled him up. He lashed back, striking whoever it was in the chest and sending them flying backwards, freeing his arm. He turned his head to see who he had struck and saw Jadeite collapsed with his back to a dark streetlamp, his blond head lolled to the side. But now he was conflicted, his mind fuzzy; Jadeite had done nothing wrong. Moegi had done nothing wrong. He should not have struck him. He should help, go apologize, heal him, but in his hesitation it was Zoisite who reached him first. He knelt down, putting a hand on Jadeite’s shoulder before twitching at something on his wrist that beeped for a moment before he calmly commented, “Kunzite, we found him.” He nodded, green eyes intent on something just above Endymion, but before he could fully analyze the curious gesture his back was hit with something hard and jolting.
 
 
 
He awoke in his bedroom, his eye snapping open, his senses reading the room; his shitennou were there, as was Helios. Throwing out his planetary senses he again searched for her, part of his heart still hoping that he had been mistaken, but amongst the tiny soul lights throughout the planet, there was no cool silver shine. The window beside his bed was shut and locked, the fairy version of Beryl sitting and staring down at him with some form of concern. Beyond her was the moon in the sky. Soft and pale, nearly full but not quite, its face waning in its cycle. The sight of it gave him conflicting emotions – longing and pain, anger and fear…
 
“Mamo-chan?”
 
He wouldn’t have even acknowledged the name if it hadn’t come so unexpectedly from the foot of his bed, but there she was. Serenity’s doppelganger, her blonde hair done in Serenity’s style, her blue eyes nearly the same shade, but that was no excuse. She wasn’t Serenity; she didn’t have Serenity’s glow. She was simply Usa– Tsukino-san, and anything that he might have felt for her was a betrayal to Serenity, his own heart. He didn’t say anything. They hadn’t officially been together, anyway; the kiss from earlier was initiated by her, not him; he’d just have to tell her that he wasn’t interested. He averted his gaze to the ceiling.
 
“You don’t really want to die, do you?” she continued, her voice shaking.
 
As if guessing his response and interrupting before he could make it, Kunzite reported, “Sailor Venus managed to escape, but they now know who you are and that we have the Golden Crystal.”
 
“Venus already knew,” he contradicted. “As did you, Beryl, Nephrite and Helios.” He turned his head on his pillow to face them, watching the look of confusion and betrayal pass over Zoisite’s and Jadeite’s face, part of him marginally relieved to see the latter seemingly recovered from whatever pain he had inflicted. “Am I wrong?” he challenged, but the guilt on Nephrite’s face served to confirm his deduction.
 
Kunzite met his gaze full-on, the silver eyes calm and free of remorse as he replied, “You are not wrong.”
 
We were attempting to spare you –“ Helios started.
 
“Spare me?!” he shot back, propping himself on his elbow, his attention split between Helios, Kunzite, and Nephrite, “Spare me from what?! From memory of her?!” Again he sent out a wave of power, and again nothing surfaced. She was gone, and if he had never reawakened… it would have been as though she had never existed. She could have been lost to the ages, her secrets, her dreams, her hopes, herself, never thought of, never remembered. His voice had lost some passion as it broke through the silence. “I didn’t think you capable of such cruelty.”
 
“Mamochan,” Tsukino commented, compassion in her tone.
 
“Take Tsukino-san home,” he ordered, trying to ignore her reaction to the formality of her name, the way she gently withdrew her hand from the end of his bed, how she looked away. It was for the best. He focused the command on Nephrite and Kunzite, knowing now that they obviously knew where she lived, having followed him so many times in the past few weeks. “Give her a communicator to use to contact us if anything happens with the senshi’s soul gems. Keep an eye out for Venus; this isn’t over yet.”
 
Nephrite, guilt clear on his face, formally bowed, joined by Jadeite rather than Kunzite. They both turned to escort Jewel Tiara home.
 
“I take it the Moon Princess was not reborn,” Kunzite hazarded, and in the rush of shame and loss Endymion felt, he lashed out, hitting the wall behind him so hard his fist broke through the drywall. The small part of him still concerned with manners wished that Tsukino hadn’t witnessed that as the last thing she saw of him before leaving, but overall the shock of pain and moment of destruction somewhat eased the monumental agony sitting in his chest.
 
 
 
When finally they all left, Zoisite and Kunzite trusted to strategize defenses and consider offensive capabilities and Beryl scouting for Venus, Endymion lay back and tried not to think of anything, but was thwarted time and again by the ever-present pain. He wanted to scream. To run, to break walls, to destroy things, anything to ease and distract from the overbearing loss he felt. An idea came to mind as he felt his greatest tool within arm’s reach; he turned on his side to reach for it, the Golden Crystal.
 
What are you planning to do?” a disapproving voice demanded of nowhere, Helios suddenly popping into existence and growing until he was fully sized, his garnet eyes glaring, golden horn reflecting the moonlight. He had known. He had known and kept it a secret
 
“I do not answer to you, High Priest,” he replied coldly.
 
You do now!” Helios’s mind-speak raged, eyes whirling as he stepped closer, “You answer to all of us – your Generals, your Kingdom, and, yes, your High Priest!” Helios’s white wings unfurled, displaying aggressively behind him.
 
“What has gotten into you?!” Endymion demanded as Helios’s horn inched closer to the head of his bed.
 
What has gotten into me?” Helios returned with disbelief, “What has gotten into you?! You ended the world, Endymion! You put thousands into stasis, each and every one at risk, erasing lives, destroying families, veering the course of human history, on a whim! For a girl you refused to let die, while hundreds more were already dying for you and your Kingdom! And now you act as though you will do it again - I will not stand by and let that happen!
 
“What need have I to end the world?” he replied calmly, Helios’s outburst slowly processing, sinking in, internalizing for deeper examination. He turned his gaze to the crystal, raising it above him, watching its facets scatter moonlight across his ceiling. “It did not work the first time, why would I try again and bury her further in the past?”
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Baah. XD I tried to write more on this alternate chapter but don’t want to spend too much time on an outcome that never happened. ^^’ I swapped to the other version pretty much right after “Am I wrong?” and hadn’t touched this since, but wanted to include it in this Alpahbet extra thing because I like the beginning XD Yesss, Mamoru—er, Endymion, mourn her, mwahahahahaa, she’s still right in front of you, fufufufufuu.
 
Originally this was the way I had planned for the story to go; rather than Mamoru refusing to accept Endymion, focusing on Usagi and completely refusing to deal with Serenity until the very end, it would have been Endymion living in the past. Usagi would eventually work her way in, comforting him and staying by his side as he mourned Serenity (ouch teeheehee ouchouch ‘cause Usagi is still in love with Mamoru and it obviously hurt her to see him like that), and in the end she would fight with them against Diana and almost die in the process. The Mamoru inside of Endymion is still in love with Usagi, no matter how much he was trying to bury it, and in saving her he finally releases the death-hold he had on Serenity’s memory. … only to have her reawaken as Serenity when the Silver Crystal emerges on the scene, yaaaay happy ending ohohohoh Endymion you food ohohohohoh
 

Ahem. Back to normal actually-happened-in-Cardinal-King stories with H!

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PostSubject: Re: [Story] Cardinal King -COMPLETE-   18th July 2014, 11:55 am

H is for Her.
 
“Kino Makoto.”
 
“Here,” Makoto replied sullenly, leaning back in her chair, both arms and legs crossed as she glared forward, determined not to pay heed to the gawkers on either side of her or their stammering whispers thinly hidden behind their hands. Hadn’t they seen bandages before? And if they thought she looked bad, they’d hate to see Inohara and the rest of his gang. Her eyes slid over to Inoue-san minutely, unable to help herself, but the quiet girl sat ram-rod straight, looking anywhere but back at her. Loneliness pulled at her heartstrings – she had protected the girl from a pack of bullies and hadn’t expected anything in return, but she would have liked if this time… if this time, the person she protected didn’t end up as afraid of her as their would-be tormentors.
 
The teacher didn’t get very far into the rest of the roll call before an announcement came over the loudspeaker, summoning her to the office. She emptied her desk into her bag, slung it over her shoulder, and left, knowing she’d never see that classroom again.
 

Expelled again. The boys’ families had spoken up on their behalves – they were only suspended – but she had her reputation against her and no one to vouch for her, so she was out of there and onto the next public high school. She stopped in at an outlet to pick up her new uniform – brown and white, extra long skirt – and afterwards headed home, her gait tight and proud, her green eyes scanning the crowd, daring anyone to mess with her, or to mess with anyone while she was around. She had always fancied herself a protector – in her most romantic of moments, she thought of herself as a guardian, of sorts. Protector of the weak, defender of the downtrodden: Makoto Kino, angel of the streets. But no one would ever see her like that; she was Makoto Kino, tall and scary man-girl. A frown threatened the integrity of her perfected scowl and she checked herself. No weakness.
 
As she turned the corner to her street a funny, tingling sensation spread throughout her chest. She paused – she was only 14, it couldn’t be a heart attack, right? She shook her head – of course not, she ate well and took care of herself. She continued, but the feeling only proved to grow stronger, until suddenly there was a great weight on her chest, pulling her down; she collapsed, her hand clutching at her chest to ease the pain; every breath was agony. And then there was a voice calling to her, soft at first, but then loud and insistent – ‘Jupiter!

She didn’t remember fainting, but in her next conscious moment she was somewhere completely different, somewhere stagnant and dead-feeling, the air heavy around her without the hint of a breeze. She sat up carefully and looked around to find herself in the middle of a field of old yellow grass that spread out in every direction for at least a kilometer; about fifty meters behind her loomed a large crystalline structure; around her were for other girls, a blonde with long hair, a girl with long black hair, and another girl with short blue hair; each wore a different school uniform, each seemed to be just waking up.
 
Immediately her defenses went up – where were they? Had they been drugged and kidnapped? She struggled to her knees, her head feeling heavy, her thoughts sluggish. “Are you guys okay?” she asked as the others started looking around.
 
“Hnng,” replied the girl with blue hair, her hand to her forehead, “I’m not sure; I can’t think straight.”
 
“Where are we?” the blonde asked, her eyes scanning the field.
 
The black-haired girl was glancing around, too, her body language tense. “I’m getting a bad vibe –“
 
“Well of course you are,” a calm and confident voice interrupted and Makoto wheeled around, falling to her backside as she stretched her hand out to one side, instinctively blocking the girl with the blue hair; she seemed physically the weakest. Before them stood a small woman that exuded power and confidence, dressed in a toga-like uniform. Her hair was done up in two blonde buns at the top and to the side of her head, her eyes were dark and cold. She knew how to fight – the way she carried herself told Makoto that much, and the way she regarded them told her that she was used to winning. “You are gathered in the stronghold of the Earth Kingdom, our sworn enemy – it is only proper for you to sense danger here, Sailor Mars.”
 
Sailor Mars?  It sounded almost like a name –
 
“Who are you?” the blonde behind her asked, her voice a direct command to the woman before them.
 
“I am Diana,” she replied haughtily, “but you will remember that and more once you awaken.”
 
“Awaken?” the blonde repeated quietly, like a question.
 
“What do you mean, awaken?” Sailor Mars, if that was the black-haired girl’s name, demanded. She stood and Makoto joined her. “I don’t want any part in this! Take me back to Tokyo!” the other girls stood, joining them.
 
“I’m afraid you’re already part of this, and there is no going back.”
 
“What do you mean?”
 
“I mean those lives you were living were false,” she stated coldly, the conviction in her sharp voice made one of the girls behind her take a small step backwards. Makoto’s hands clenched into fists; if it came down to a fight, this Diana wasn’t going to get off easily. Diana, sensing the change, held up a hand placating, her had cocking to one side as though trying to reason with them. Makoto would have taken the opportunity right then and there, grabbing opening to down their captor and escape, were it not for the woman’s words. “Haven’t you felt it? The feeling that you didn’t belong? Like something was missing from your lives, something you could never quite pinpoint. None of you have ever fit in anywhere, am I right?” She paused, and Makoto’s fists loosened; the statement hit home. She had never belonged anywhere, not since her parents died; no one had really accepted her for who she was. “And you’ve always felt like you were meant for something more? Something bigger than yourselves? … it’s because you are.”
 
Diana straightened, staring at them openly, “You four were elite Lunar warriors, guardians of the Moon Kingdom and protector of the Moon Princess; your lives ended abruptly in a battle against the encroaching darkness threatened by the very kingdom we are standing in now. By some miracle we were reborn, and I ask of you: are you willing to take your places and fight against this evil?”
 
A crease formed in Makoto’s brow as she looked away, considering; Lunar warriors? Moon Kingdom? Moon Princess? The strangeness of it all was entirely off-putting, but what she had said before, hinting at the loneliness… she had always been good at fighting. She had always been strong, had never questioned her odds in a fight – could that be because she was actually an elite warrior? If darkness were approaching, she would want to fight against it anyway, right? She was Makoto Kino, ‘angel of the streets’. Her mouth twitched up in a semi-smile – alien angel of the streets, she supposed. Moon Kingdom – were they actually from the Moon? “I will,” she stated, crossing her arms.
 
“Me, too,” the blonde behind her declared, stepping forward until she stood by her side. She was shorter than Makoto – but then what else was new? – but her stance was determined.
 
“And me,” the short blue-haired girl stated, joining them.
 
The girl with the black hair paused, and Makoto wondered if this were an all-or-nothing deal. What would happen if Sailor Mars refused? Luckily she never had to find out, as the girl stepped forward with some aggravation and stated, “This’d better not take up a lot of my time.”
 
Diana smiled – the gesture a little too far on the calculating side for Makoto’s preferences – and suddenly a long pointed spear appeared in her hand; Makoto instinctively fell into a defensive pose, but rather than attack them with it, the woman waved the spear in an arc over her head and then planted it firmly in the ground beside her, her hand lingering on the staff.  Bright light pulled Makoto’s gaze upward, and found herself staring at a silver crescent mark hanging in the sky – was this… it couldn’t be magic. … could it? As she watched, the crescent seemed to take shape, growing ridges and shadows, growing larger and larger, as though they were being pulled closer and closer to… a crescent moon?
 
When the image grew so large as to take up the entire space around them, Makoto finally saw what they were zeroing in on: a castle on the moon made of white stone, a structure new and yet familiar…
 
And then it all came crashing back to her.
 
Her life – her younger years, the first time she met everyone, how they waited and waited for Princess Serenity to be born; their first enemy and her creepy prophecy; meeting Serenity for the first time, and loving her from that instant forward. She remembered growing up, from lessons in academics to lessons on the battle field; she remembered visiting the castle gifted to her upon her birth, she remembered playing in the gardens on the Moon, she remembered growing older, attending galas with her friends, dancing or skating the night away under the light of full-phase Earth.
 
She remembered Serenity’s knack of sneaking off, remembered catching her down on Earth, remembered teasing her about her crush on their Golden Prince, remembered Mars’s apprehension about it. She remembered the stern lectures from Luna and Artemis about how Serenity should not be allowed to visit Earth, that beings from the separate spheres were forbidden to fall in love. She didn’t fully understand why – the gods? What care would the gods have – love is love, and if it is pure it is good; what problems had they goodness and happiness? She remembered Serenity’s confession to them, her trepidation laced with barely-concealed joy. She remembered Queen Serenity’s proclamation, and the heartache it brought. She remembered comforting Serenity, how they all supported her, even if her love was forbidden.
 
And then came the rumors. And then the fear. And then they could support that forbidden love no further, because Earth was preparing for war.
 
According to intelligence shared with them by Diana, Earth was amassing weapons in secret, privately training commonfolk in the art of war, looking to the Moon with greed in their hearts. She, too, had heard the stories of the Golden Crystal’s powers, its uncanny ability to solidify the territories of Earth under one banner. Its last bearer brought all continents and peoples of Earth under one flag, Diana warned, would this new bearer wish to bring the Moon Kingdom under his command? Jupiter had never seen war before; she had studied it, read it in the histories, understood it, but the way Diana described the wonton destruction that war brought made her sick to her stomach – Earth was planning that? She could scarcely believe it, and yet the intelligence reports were there. The Earth Kingdom was planning to invade the Moon Kingdom, to take it over violently. What would be the fate of survivors, if survivors would be had?
 
Their guard of Princess Serenity increased, though something about the whole situation sat foully with Jupiter, something voiced only with her dearest friends, Serenity excluded, and only in the most private of settings. Venus suspected something was amiss – if Earth truly wanted to be joined to the Moon, all they would need was to let things unfold as they had been. Prince Endymion was in love with Princess Serenity, and she with him – their kingdoms could be joined in peace, not war. Mars countered that they did not know the heart of the Earth Prince; Serenity might truly love him, but was he using her? Mercury contradicted that even if he were playing Serenity – and god help him if he were – the result would be the same and Earth would still have no reason to go to war. All Jupiter could voice was that it didn’t feel right, but they all agreed that Serenity’s safety was their top priority.
 
Which was quite embarrassing when scant days later she managed to escape to Earth and led them on a merry chase through Elysion’s castle that ended with a showdown between them and Endymion’s generals as Serenity pounded on the Golden Prince’s chamber doors. His responses to her direct questions seemed honest – he seemed to have no knowledge of his planet’s upcoming invasion. The meeting ended shortly after, with halting warnings to watch his people and confused returns about for what. Jupiter wanted to trust them, but Serenity’s safety came first. Venus stayed behind to question them further as they escorted Serenity back home.
 
The next few weeks she remembered as a confused blur; they had tried to tell Queen Serenity that Prince Endymion himself had not known about any invasion plan – leaving out the part about her daughter’s involvement – but all they got in return was anger at their venturing to the surface. She didn’t want to listen to them, choosing instead to remind them what was at stake. Princess Serenity could be killed, and if they were choosing to place their trust the words of the man that could do it over cold hard facts, she hinted that they might not deserve their positions.
 
And so the Moon prepared for war, deciding on a preemptive strike in an attempt to dissuade further warfare. Again in secret she and her friends discussed their unease with the notion – wouldn’t striking at their capital only serve to enrage the masses further? – but in the end they knew that they were still students. They had not witnessed war as Diana and Queen Serenity had, and they had read of tactical preemptive strikes working; they had to put their trust in the War Council’s decision.
 
The last thing she remembered was the night of the attack, the shock of finding themselves in a new plane of reality – they had moved the principle castle to spare their city and their people, somehow knowing ahead of time about the surprise attack. Their warriors met the warriors of Earth, and she and the other senshi kept in careful agreement to stay out of Diana’s ordering range. They did not want to fight – they were not meant to fight in such wars. Sailor Senshi fought evil, and this… this did not feel evil. But when Queen Serenity landed they had no option to ignore her commands, and so fight they did. She held back, just pushing Earth’s forces into a retreat, until she was met on the field by a challenger – Nephrite, the King of the East, sent to destroy her. He fought hard, and she matched him at every turn, still pressing forward, as Queen Serenity had commanded. She felt unsure of their presence, and fear for her friends – Zoisite was cunning, Jadeite ruthless, Kunzite coldblooded; if they were holding back, they might… she remembered her fatal last step, remembered the crunching of her ribs as his stone knuckles solidly connected with her stomach, remembered calling the lightning and sending it through him… and that was all.
 
But she was alive. They were all alive – they had survived the battle, and here they were; she turned to the others to find them in their senshi uniforms: Venus, Mercury, and Mars, and her mouth broke into a smile as gratefulness swept through her. “Guys!” she cried, holding her arms out to pull them into a hug. They were laughing together, the sounds almost incredulous, scarcely believing their luck.
 
“We’re alive!”
 
“But what happened?” Venus asked, her arms still holding everyone as her eyes regarded Diana.
 
Diana shrugged, “I’m not sure – a miracle, certainly, perhaps by Queen Serenity and the Silver Crystal.” The woman’s gaze turned to the crystalline structure behind them, and Jupiter’s eyes followed. Queen Serenity… that wasn’t – it couldn’t be…
 
Immediately, always steps ahead, Mercury pulled back and summoned her computer, pointing it towards the structure, her visor racing across her forehead as data rushed the screen. She seemed puzzled, then attacked the keyboard again with another set of commands. “It’s…. it is Queen Serenity. She’s alive, but barely; she’s in some sort of stasis, protected by the quartz tower.”
 
“The Silver Crystal?” Diana asked, tension in her tone.
 
“It’s there, with her,” Mercury replied.
 
“How do we break her out?” Diana asked again, and Mercury paused, tapping again at her keyboard.
 
“What happened to everyone else?” Mars asked, “The combatants from both parties – were they, too, reborn?”
 
“We can assume,” Diana stated, though her attention was clearly still on Mercury.
 
“What about Serenity?” Jupiter asked; though her heart was filled, there was still a piece missing; a piece that could only be filled by a mischievous princess. If Queen Serenity had saved them all and brought them to the future, surely Serenity, too, would… be…. But the look on Diana’s face crushed her assumption and set anxiety coursing through her. No.
 
“She wasn’t at the battle,” Mars spoke quietly, “and this plane is in a dimension separated from our own; the Silver Crystal’s power did not reach that far, did it?”
 
“No,” Diana shook her head.
 
“Then she lived on without us,” Mars supposed, looking off. “It must have been terrible for her.”
 
Jupiter put a hand on Mars’s shoulder, “She had Luna and Artemis with her, right? And the noncombatants of court – she would’ve made it. I bet she made a fantastic Queen.” Her heart was leaden, thinking of Princess Serenity having to go forward alone, robbed of them, of her mother, of her love… but Queen Serenity was right to stop the battle. It should have never started in the first place.
 
“Princess Serenity never became Queen,” Diana stated, her words like slivers of ice, freezing Jupiter in place with dread. “She died here, on the battlefield.” Barely able to move, Jupiter’s head turned to follow Diana as the warrior raised her arms and stepped backwards, halfway towards the spire containing Queen Serenity.
 
Everything that had felt so right was rapidly dissolving as she fought to accept what she was being told. Serenity, on the battlefield? But that wasn’t possible; she knew it was dangerous, she’d been ordered to stay… but Serenity on the battlefield – images flew through her mind as her heart, with her long pigtailed hair and thin white dress, danced across the deadened grass, her face smiling and serene as she picked her way around soldiers dead and dying – she didn’t belong there, it was too dangerous! She died here, on the battlefield. Serenity, approached by some unknown evil, its sword raised, terror on her face – “No!” she yelled, collapsing to the ground, her arms wrapped tightly around her chest. They had failed her.
 
This time, Mars gripped her shoulder, sharing her determination as a means to chase away the imagined images of the past. “Then she was reborn with the rest of us, we just have to find her!”
 
“I’m afraid not, Mars,” Diana stated, though there was very little regret in her tone. “Our souls guide us to being reborn, and –“
 
“Are you suggesting Serenity had no soul?!” Mars demanded, her white hot anger summoning similar feelings in Jupiter. That Diana outranked them meant less and less, and now she was threatening to cross a line she would very much regret crossing.
 
“Serenity shared a soul with her mother!” Diana shot back, “Have you forgotten the circumstances of her birth?” she snapped, her eyes nearly contemptuous as she continued. “Her soul was protected with her mothers in the Silver Crystal, as your souls are protected in your Sailor Crystals, and others by their starseeds; we were reborn because our starseeds could separate from our bodies and return to the Cauldron, or whatever other region the miracle had set up for us. If the Silver Crystal is incased in the quartz tower with Serenity, then the Princess could not have been reborn!”
 
“Then she is gone?” Venus asked quietly.
 
“Yes.” Diana replied.
 
“And you are certain of this?” Venus pressed.
 
“Yes.” Diana repeated firmly.
 
“Then why awaken us?” Venus coldly asked. “What are you scheming?”
 
“Scheming?” Diana spat, straightening to her full height. “Watch your words, Venus. I do not scheme, I plan vengeance on those who killed our Princess – or do you think her death unworthy of avenging?”
 
“The people of Earth are not to blame,” Venus contradicted, “They were victims in this war, too.”
 
“All of them?” Diana challenged, teasing in her tone. Venus’s face was resolute, but she did not answer. “You thought this war was concocted, didn’t you?” Diana continued, pacing slowly before them. “That was why you hesitated in the final fight; did you ever wonder what could have happened if you fought under my direction with your full strength as soon as the battle began?” she paused, her gaze jumping to each of them in turn. “We would have won, and Serenity could have been spared. … You think me some kind of warmonger. You think this battle was unnecessary, this war unjust – don’t deny it, I heard of your ‘secret meetings’. What you don’t understand was how deeply you had been fooled. Had you but trusted in me and my judgment over the Golden Prince and his lies, he might not have had the opportunity to kill her.”
 
She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “He what?”
 
“He killed her. Prince Endymion killed the Princess Serenity, mercilessly running her through with his blade. I saw it, though I was not fast enough to prevent it. I fetched Queen Serenity, hoping the Silver Crystal’s power could heal her, but when we returned we were too late, and she was gone, lying dead in a pool of her own blood, alone and betrayed.”
 
The image was too much; her heart felt so beaten and broken she wished it would just stop beating. She heard Mercury sobbing quietly, the sound of keystrokes having stopped minutes ago. Tears were in her own eyes, tears of regret, sadness, pain and loss, but those feelings were soon replaced by blinding anger. They had trusted him.
 
“That was when the miracle happened – Queen Serenity must have – wait!” Diana called, but both Jupiter and Mars were already moving. She had gotten to her feet in a flash, locked eyes with Mars, and both had understood the other exactly. Screw Diana and her scheme; they would find that prince and kill him themselves, plain and simple. It was their duty – Protection and Courage, War and Passion, they would avenge their Princess and bring the filth of the planet to justice. They didn’t know how to leave this dimension, but the ruins of the castle seemed like a good place to start looking.
 
Diana teleported in front of them, blocking their path. Her eyes were murderous, “And how do you propose to find him? The city is filled with millions of people, of which he could be any. And would he be enough? Is one prince worth our Princess? What of his generals, his advisors, the scores of other people reborn from that time period? The people of Earth are a poison too dangerous to let roam free, and already they have landed on our Moon. We will have our revenge on the Golden Prince and stop them, but you must cooperate with me to make it happen. We need to awaken Queen Serenity, and for that,” she turned back to Venus and Mercury; Jupiter turned too, to see the pair of them conversing quietly, Venus’s hand on Mercury’s arm as they looked at the screen together. “We need energy. We need the Golden Crystal.” She pulled their attention back to herself, “Help me find it,” she promised, “and you can have the Prince to yourselves.”

 
And so they started. Diana was able to weave her magic into shadows to turn them into creatures that followed their every command; they used these creatures to gather energy from the surface and transport it back to Serenity’s encasement. At first it went very well, but then, slowly, their Phases were attacked and defeated, the energy they gathered dissipated before it could be used. They started accompanying the creatures to keep an eye on things and defend the energy, and it was then that they met their enemy.
 
The “Heavenly Kings”, the general s of the Golden Kingdom reborn. Mars fought them first, and it was by their hand that she met her end.

Mercury rushed to the center of a scorched circle, her computer out and visor filling with information, as both Jupiter and Venus called out for Mars, knowing in their hearts that she was gone. But there was still hope – if they could find her Sailor Crystal, perhaps there was some way that they could bring her back. Maybe Queen Serenity could give her new life, else guarantee that she would be reborn someday, but in the end they found nothing, and Mercury’s data suggested that Mars’s Crystal had been stolen from the scene.
 
“Serenity,” Jupiter choked, “And now Mars, too?! What happens to her? Why do they want her Sailor Crystal?! It wasn’t enough to kill her - they had to imprison her soul, too?!” Lightning sparked all around her, her mind struggling to come up with a reason for that amount of cruelty. “I’ll get her back,” she vowed, “I’ll make them give her back, or I’ll kill them! And then I’ll kill them anyway for what they’ve done!”


In the end, she wasn’t strong enough. She had underestimated them, made mistakes. She didn’t find out where Mars’s Crystal was, and the anguish that had been wracking her heart made her clumsy. She was once again pitted in battle against Nephrite, and this time, he won. When she realized what had happened, she only had one wish: to see them all again. Serenity and Mars, Mercury and Venus – she felt the tear in dimensions and their presence before she disappeared, wishing Mercury hadn’t seen her final moments. If only they could have had more time together, without war. A normal life with them – that was her wish.

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PostSubject: Re: [Story] Cardinal King -COMPLETE-   3rd January 2015, 9:30 pm

!!!

pkmndaisuki of tumblr has asked me for permission to turn Cardinal King into a comic!! XD I'm so excited! I'll post updates here when I get them! She's done two fanart pictures so far and her art style is really cute and light and I love it XD 

Here are the two pieces she's done so far! (And I'll add in other fanart I've gotten for Cardinal King, too!)









FROM TSUKI-LOVE~ (aka Sailor Neptune!) 
JEWEL TIARA LOOKS SO BADASS I LOVE HER SO MUCH






By NeoKingEndymion on tumblr! LOOK AT THEM. LOOK AT MY KINGS YAAAASSSS  and then let Jewel Tiara rip you to pieces, bwahahahahahahaha





I was asked to keep the artist of this one anonymous!! XD BUT LOOK SO FIERCE YESS

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PostSubject: Re: [Story] Cardinal King -COMPLETE-   7th July 2015, 3:59 pm

((Ssh I might've completed I, j, m, q, and z while on Loa))

((Oh and plotted out season two and am more than halfway into the first chapter))

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PostSubject: Re: [Story] Cardinal King -COMPLETE-   8th July 2015, 10:27 am

@Sailor Uranus wrote:
((Ssh I might've completed I, j, m, q, and z while on Loa))

((Oh and plotted out season two and am more than halfway into the first chapter))

Yay! I can't wait to read those!   

(I also have a third fic lined up in the pipeline of things inspired by this one. I hope you liked the other two.)

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PostSubject: Re: [Story] Cardinal King -COMPLETE-   10th July 2015, 7:05 pm

I is for Insurance

My name is Hanada Kaito, and if you are reading this, two things have happened:
1. The World has been saved.
2. My friends and I are dead.


Those two statements may seem to be unconnected, but I assure you, they are intimately linked. Our performance today will determine the fate of the planet, and the chances that we will survive are knowingly slim, but still we will fight to our utmost to save this world. We are the Kings, and we are all that stand between peace and utter annihilation by an alien force, and if we do die while saving the world, I, North King, do not want to slip quietly into the night, leaving parents and loved ones in the dark as to our whereabouts and the rest of the world blind to our sacrifice, so in this missive I intend to spell out everything that lead up to this point, answering questions I’m positive the police and media have been dying to understand.


First off, many suppositions made on the web forum Tokyo Underground have gotten very close to the truth, and I’m almost sorry to have had to purposefully lead the authors astray in their trains of thought by providing false logic – my screen name there is TrueBlue, and after __May 19th__, anything I wrote was purposefully leading a false trail away from the truth.


Chronologically, the truth is this:
Many millennia ago, the world was united under one kingdom – the Golden Kingdom – centered in what we believe to be the old Babylonian area near the Fertile Crescent, in a place then called Elysion. All corners of the planet – not just Europe, Asia, and Africa, but the Americas, Australia, and Antartica, too – paid homage to the Golden Kingdom; major rulers of the areas sent their first born sons to serve as guard for the heir to the Throne of Earth to show their allegiance and solidify their ties. It might have continued in this manner indefinitely, but the era came to an end in what was meant to be a great time of peace, when suddenly and without provocation, the Moon Kingdom attacked.


What we have pieced together in this present time is that certain powers within the Kingdom of the Moon – eventually named the Dark Kingdom – used the knowledge that the Prince of Elysion, Endymion, possessed the powerful Soul Gem of Earth to twist the Moon Queen’s mind against us. (I know this is complicated and foreign, but try to keep up).

Before the Moon Army struck, the magical priests of Elysion moved the capital to an alternate dimension, so that the Moon Armies could not strike at the rest of the planet and endanger its citizens unnecessarily. The armies met in a great battle, and in the end, the Moon Princess died. Upset by this, the Earth Prince used the soul of Earth to end the fighting by transporting all of the lives in that battle to be reborn in the future. 


And now we get to the present day.
Months ago, odd attacks started on citizens of the city that left them either dead or drained of their energy, until sightings of a mysterious costumed hero started saving the day. The name he was given in the papers – the usually dismissed articles – was the Evening Star, a moniker, I believe, granted by the sight of light reflecting off of his scimitar. We know him as West King, Kobai Khalid to this era, Kunzite, a guardian to the Prince of Earth, in his last. He was the first of us to awaken, and served as a decoy to better protect the reborn Prince.


Unfortunately, fate saw differently, as the next of us to awaken was none other than the Prince himself, though neither he nor many of us recognized him until much later. Many remember the attack on the jewelry store where only a rose was left behind, and the sighting of a mysterious masked youth reported by the night worker – that was Cardinal King, Chiba Mamoru in this life, Prince Endymion of Earth in his last. The pegasus spotted with him was Helios, the High Priest of Elysion who sought us out to fight against the creatures that were attacking Earth.


Next to awaken was yours truly, in the fight on the cram school. I awoke as North King, and in my past life I was Zoisite. Cardinal King and I worked together alone for a time, as West King kept his distance and we had yet to find others.


When we did, it was during our first battle against a powerful warrior for the Moon Kingdom, reawakened in this life and turned against the planet that had raised her. Her name was Sailor Mars to us, but in recent newspaper articles about the five missing girls, I’m confident that she was born here as Hino Rei, daughter of the congressman. Unable to change her, we had no hope to escape without defeating her, and we would have been defeated ourselves had it not been for Moegi Yuu, who transformed into South King and turned the dangerous situation around. In his past life, he was Jadeite, another of Prince Endymion’s guardians.


Our folly at this point was that we did not remember any of our past lives until much later. We pieced together that Evening Star was a protector of the Prince, but not that Mamoru was the prince reborn, so, treating Mamoru as another of our own, and knowing only what Helios remembered in his fractured memory, we set out to find our Prince.

We thought we found him in Midori Nero, our investigations landing on the night his mansion was attacked by Sailor Jupiter; that night, too, we might have been defeated were it not for Jewel Tiara, an as-of-then unaffiliated heroine who appeared periodically to help us out or collect a Sailor Crystal (left when a Sailor Senshi, like Sailor Mars, was defeated). In this life, Jewel Tiara was born as Tsukino Usagi; we do not believe she was reborn from the past, so in all of this, her actions are to be the most applauded, and the most grieved should we fail and she not return.


In the attack at the Bridal Store, Midori Nero awakened as a King, and while we thought he was the Prince, he is instead East King, known as Nephrite in his past life. He was instrumental in saving the day, having defeated Sailor Jupiter, saving the rest of us and several members of the public in her downfall. In this life, I believe she was the missing orphan, Kino Makoto.


The night of the jewelry store riots was yet another attack by the Dark Kingdom, orchestrated through video tapes by Sailor Mercury. That night, West King officially joined our team, and Sailor Mercury, the missing genius Mizuno Ami, was defeated.


At that point, things became even more complicated – skipping over a small number of events, we arrive at the first city-wide blackout, and the appearance of Sailor Venus. We knew she had to be taken down, and devised a plan to do so, but in events that followed, Jewel Tiara was attacked, East King – then still thought to be our Prince – stepped in front of the blast and nearly died. Cardinal King, in an effort to save his life, unlocked the power of the Golden Crystal, the soul gem of Earth, to heal East King and fully awakened as Prince Endymion.


In the confusion that followed – suddenly our Prince’s identity had changed and the Crystal, the object the Senshi was searching for, were both out in the open – we got Endymion out of there, but Jewel Tiara was captured by Sailor Venus, who then escaped our grasp. In a courageous act, Jewel Tiara left behind the crystals she had collected from the fallen senshi, refusing to let them be used by the Moon Kingdom to further their ends. We kept them safe for as long as we could, and learned what we could from them and the ancient Moon technology that contained them.


Next we get to the most recent blackout, wherein most of the city and many people were attacked. That was no U.F.O., or great creature – it was Sailor Venus. Her attacks – golden lasers – drained targets of their energy. We finally caught up to her, fought her, and defeated her. In this life, I believe she was Aino Minako.

Cardinal King was the reason those at the hospital fully recovered that night. He selflessly risked exposing himself to the media to save as many lives as he could, channeling the healing powers of the Golden Crystal to energize and stabilize the injured population. Many people owe him their lives, and based on what happens tonight, many more now do, too. Chiba Mamoru is the most selfless, honorable, and best person I know, and if his name is ever forgotten, I will never forgive any of you.




That night Tsukino Usagi was returned to us, and awakened days later from a coma. She found Midori, and tricked him into retrieving the sailor crystals for her; when she got them, she nearly killed Midori before teleporting back to the enemy’s base – in her time being kidnapped, she was brainwashed and is being controlled by the enemy to serve their needs.


We are now flying towards where we believe the enemy to be stationed – to Babylon, to the alternate dimension created thousands of years ago – to Elysion, and the battlefield that has stood empty since that time long past. We believe the enemy, Diana, will use the powers contained in the sailor crystals, along with the energy Sailor Venus collected from the people before her demise, to awaken the ancient Queen of the Moon, who will then destroy or enslave the planet in revenge for her daughter’s death all those years ago. We believe this threat is credible as she may possess the Silver Crystal, a gem as powerful, if not more powerful than, the Golden Crystal, with a near infinite capacity for destruction.
We do not know if we will win, but we will do our best to save this world.


If you do not wish to share our story in its entirety, please at least tell our families and the families of the missing girls that we will not be returning, so they don’t worry unnecessarily and can move on with their lives. 


And open some sort of medical treatment fund in the name of Chiba Mamoru. I think he’d like that.

Hanada read over the final draft of his work, finally deciding that he had struck the right balance of information and too-much-information in the piece. He sighed, then signed it, and placed it in a fresh manila envelope. The plane began its descent and he sealed it, and wrote out careful instructions on the front, despite the captain’s instructions over the loudspeaker.

When the plane hit the tarmac and everyone started to leave, he stayed behind and gave his instructions verbally to the flight attendant before relinquishing the envelope; if Midori hadn’t assured him that she was left with instructions for time-sensitive, important documents before, he wasn’t quite sure what he would have done to ensure its security.

He felt more at peace as he piled into Kobai’s cousin’s van now that their legacy had a chance to be shared, but the peace was soon overtaken by nervous energy at the idea of what was to come.



---------------------------------------------------------------

J is for Jewel Tiara

Usagi woke up, looked around, and groaned. She rolled into a sitting position and stared grumpily at the homework on her table. She let out a great sigh and picked up her pencil – she had her name on her paper. She could definitely do the English worksheet from this point. She moved her pencil to the first question and read it in her head – The cat (sit / sat) on the porch. – and tapped the choices thoughtfully.

What time was it, anyway? 

She glanced at her chicken alarm clock – 2:00 am?! Oh no way! She had to finish quickly so she could sleep! She circled an answer and went on to the next one. The man (stand / stood) on the platform. She chewed on the end of her pencil in concentration; stand or stood? Why was the man on the platform? Was he waiting for his girlfriend to come home? Maybe they were separated from each other against their wills, and had devised a secret plot to meet up again so  they could run away together, just like in her manga? Her eyes strayed to the open comic beside her homework – what would happen to them next? Could they get away without her yakuza brother finding out? She was halfway reaching for it before she caught herself, shook her head, and got back to work, choosing an answer at random.

The girl (run / ran) to school.

The cow (jumps / jumpeds) over the moon.

Cows jumping over the moon? Usagi snickered to herself, choosing a random answer. Her lamp turned off at that moment, and she groaned – the bulb just had to go now, when she was on a roll, right? But then she stopped, staring at the shadow on her desk, backed by the moonlight streaming through her window. Two cats? She turned around quickly, putting her knees beneath her so she could see over her bed to the window beyond, her pulse racing –

But nothing was there. 

She whipped around, looking for the shadows, but they were gone. 

Doing homework this late at night was just not good for people, Usagi decided, putting the half-completed papers back into her english folder. For her own health, she should go straight to bed – it was really her only option. She stood and stretched in the dark, then turned back towards her nice comfy bed, with her cute rabbit and moon duvet and fluffy pillows and black and white cats and – WAIT!

She jumped backwards, throwing herself against the wall, staring at the intruders as her heart slowly came out of her throat and back into her chest. She laughed at herself, “Hahahaha, There you two are, I thought I was imagining you,” she scolded mildly, waving them away. “Now, listen, I would love to keep you, but Shingo hates cats and, this being an unfair and truly cruel world, that means I’m not allowed to keep you. So head back through the window and…” but the window wasn’t open. How had they…

“Tsukino Usagi!”

Usagi threw herself back against the wall, looking around for a place to hide. The cat talked. The black cat talked. It knew her name, and came in without a window, and now it was sitting on her bed, talking to her. Maybe she was still sleeping. She had to still be sleeping. Yeah, she hadn’t  woken up yet, this was just a weird dream. “Ha ha ha… I’m dreaming,” she nervously stated – if you told your dream you were dreaming you could wake up or control it or something, right? 

“This isn’t a dream, Usagi,” said the white cat. She really wished he hadn’t.

“Usagi, we have a very important mission for you, and we believe that you’re the only one that can do it.”

Usagi motioned to herself, slowly peeling off the wall. 

The white cat nodded. “My name is Artemis, and this is Luna, and we need your help.”

The black cat – Luna – jumped and spun in the air, and when she finished, a pretty white hair clip landed on the bed. “Take this pin,” she said, her voice heavy and sad through her determination, “And call out Moon Twilight Activation.”

Feeling sad for the cat, Usagi reached forward and took the hair pin, her fingers moving carefully over the pearly substance so she didn’t accidentally drop it. She repeated the phrase, and in a rush of chills, she was suddenly transformed – her pajamas changing into a pretty white dress, cinched at the waist with a wide black belt. She wore boots and gloves, and a really thick collar-necklace; there was a veil over her nose and mouth, and a tiara across her forehead. What in the world…?

The pair visibly relaxed. “Good. Now,” said Luna, “Things are changing in your world, Usagi, and we’re helpless to stop it. We need you to do something for us, something that means a great deal to us.”

Usagi inched closer and sat on the edge of the bed; neither cat moved in the slightest. She reached out to touch Luna – she seemed so sad, she wanted to comfort her, but her hand passed right through her. Concerned, Usagi tried one more time, as her eyes welled up with tears – was this why they couldn’t do anything now? Were they ghosts? Why were they so sad?

“Usagi-chan,” Luna replied gratefully, though Usagi didn’t think the cat had actually felt anything. “Thank you. Will you help us, Usagi-chan?”

Usagi didn’t know if she could. She wasn’t really smart in school, wasn’t particularly good at sports, or anything beyond video games and reading manga, but they were so sad, she couldn’t say no even if she didn’t want to help. “I can try,” she replied, and they told her about the crystals left behind when a sailor senshi died. She didn’t understand everything they said, but she believed it was something she could do. Monsters would be attacking the town, they wanted her to hang around the battles and, when they ended, if a girl in a brightly colored sailor costume was defeated, they wanted her to take the crystal that appeared when the girl disappeared. They wanted her to take it and run as fast as she could, to hide it from people who wanted them. They showed her where the crystals could fit in her belt, and told her that if anyone but her were to touch the crystals, they could get very hurt. 

And then they left.

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PostSubject: Re: [Story] Cardinal King -COMPLETE-   10th July 2015, 7:16 pm

^ These are awesome. Hanada's testament kind of makes me want to explore an AU where they do die but everyone's saved, and Usagi's is adorable. 

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PostSubject: Re: [Story] Cardinal King -COMPLETE-   10th July 2015, 7:36 pm

M is for Motive

Year after year.

Decade after slow-moving decade.

It was always the same now. Nothing seemed to change – not since the Chaos Wars. Not since Serenity settled down on this tiny moon in this remote system and summoned guardians from the surrounding planets. There was nothing but peace and prosperity and parties.

She hated every moment of it.

Sure, at first it was almost interesting. The star of the system – Sol – was without a sailor crystal, which meant one of two intriguing situations: either a) the previous senshi of this system had been one with Sol and had recently died, which meant Chaos must have been here recently and could return at any moment to finish the job, or b) the sailor crystal of Sol had been permanently destroyed, leaving the star open to Chaotic invasion. In either case, she had to be on her toes that first century, watching the star for any sign of movement, chaotic or cosmotic, as Serenity set about creating and assembling her court. Serenity trusted her to see to all matters of war – offense and defense. She trusted her to think faster than the enemy and react to keep them on top. Diana reveled in this trust, and worked hard to secure Serenity’s hold on the system, but time wore on and nothing happened. 

Soon Diana had had other duties – the training of the Defense Senshi, assisting in setting up the  stations on their gas-giant (and dwarf planet – the range would be useful) home-worlds to alert them to any dangers approaching the system, teaching them to revere and hold close to the love and respect they felt for Serenity and her infant heir as they set out on their missions.

She assisted in training the Guardian Senshi – she had even helped pick the number for the guardian team. Three was customary, but she suggested four – the inner terrestrials. When Serenity refused to awaken the senshi of the planet Earth to use in her heir’s defense, Diana did not reconsider – they needed four, so they took the largest and closest of the gas giants to fill in the gap. These four were awakened soon before the heir’s birth, and after the second Serenity was born, their growth readjusted to match the infant’s, rather than racing to reach Serenity’s maturity, so at first she had very little to do – she left that stuff to the babysitters from Mau. They would teach the guardians through their younger years, and she would take over once they were mature enough to handle combat training.

And she did. She analyzed their powers, their strengths and weaknesses, both mental, physical and energetic. She saw the potential in Venus and gave her special training in strategy and leadership, of looking for and exploiting weaknesses in their enemies, and set into motion her training as the heir’s body double.

But once all that was set into motion and became routine, she grew bored. There were no battles to fight, no wars to be won, no enemies to test herself against.

Every now and again she would take the guardian senshi to Earth, detransformed, and lead them on various hunts. They took down fantastic and dangerous monsters as well as clever and mysterious prey, testing their mental abilities and physical beyond the boons granted by accessing their sailor crystal. Once in a blue moon – a favorite expression of those on Earth – they would come across a pocket of Chaos against which they could truly test themselves. 

But still she grew bored.

A millennia past – or very close to one – and her discontent had filled her to the brim. She was not an instructor. She was not a dancer. She was a hunter – a warrior, a defeater of evil, an intelligent strategist, and here she was, wiling away her time on this white rock, listening to ballroom shenanigans while others were getting better and better at the hunt. She watched the battles on Earth closely, occasionally alighting in disguise to help one side or another as she saw fit, and that was when she got her idea.

The Moon should go to war against the Earth.

They could test their strength, and finally bring the last planet under their control; she could convince Serenity that Earth shouldn’t be left to it’s own devices – free will of the population be damned. 

They could be dangerous, after all.



----------------------
Q is for Queen

As she stared down at the brilliant blue marble, she couldn’t help the tilt of her head, or the furrow of her brow; could Diana be right? 

The Earth had always been her charge – part of the deal she made to inhabit this moon was that she would watch over the Earth and protect it from Chaotic influences. Centuries had flown by since she took up the mantle of benevolent overseer, and she had done nothing wrong. She had even left the planet’s sailor crystal to its own devices, refusing to pull it into her service in favor of seeing what the senshi of Earth would do on her own, despite the odd choices it had made in repeatedly choosing a male host and thus never developing as a senshi. She had stayed out of the budding civilization’s politics, made it law that her people should not interact with Terrans, less they risk antagonizing them, and yet here were the reports, straight from Diana’s sources: Earth’s Golden Kingdom was secretly amassing armies, possibly intending to take her Moon into its possession. 

Her finger twitched towards the display, and the covert pictures opened and spread out, Diana’s message repeating itself in her memory.

Your Majesty, is it really so far-fetched to believe that the Earth would  want us under their control? Even our most basic sciences seem as magic to them, and our magic itself could be confused with god-like powers – taking the Moon would mean advancing themselves, leaping forward by several millennia in just one crucial battle. Serenity, it’s the start of a new Golden Age; you know as well as I that the Earth Prince Endymion has possession of the Golden Crystal, and as all other holders, his goal will be to spread peace and prosperity, but only after reuniting his race through war. His predecessor united the people under one banner after several bloody years of conflict and ushered in the long peace – we know little else about the Golden Crystal beyond its ability to bring the humans of that planet together. They’ve got their planet – we’re the next thing. The next big target.


And if we allow them to continue as they are, they’ll overrun us.

--------------

Months passed, and still Diana’s reports flooded in, pictures of training camps in remote areas, of the Earth Prince and his ‘Kings’ playing war games, of councils held in Elysion, their capital city. While at first she had not been convinced, with more evidence piled at her feet it was foolish to turn a blind eye on the activities. Her concern mounted as Diana tastefully reminded her what was at stake.

Her eyes slid from her Earth-gazing balcony to the gardens below, where Serenity and her guardians chatted and laughed, Luna and Artemis with them. If Earth were to attack… 

--------------

Where were they? Her eyes scanned the Earth’s surface, staring hard at the Fertile Crescent region and the hidden training facilities therein. Her cameras searched in live-time, but still she could not see them. But she knew they were there.

Plotting, no doubt.

Plotting her demise, planning the murder of her daughter, the massacre of her people, the destruction of her kingdom. They were there, all right. How could she have been so blind? So trusting? So gullible as to let them govern themselves? To let the Golden Crystal choose its own host that could rise in such a way to oppose her? Her, the Queen of the Moon? Empress of the Solar System?!

If she could but find the planned usurpers and do away with them, she could stand to spare the rest – or could she? … if she killed their leaders, even if it were in preemptive self-defense, it would give them reason to attack again in the future. She sighed, staring harder – she might have to restart the entire planet as to not deal with the repercussions.

Why did they have to be so selfish?!

If only she could just use the Silver Crystal and restart it now they could spare pain on both sides. Earth would just fall into a soft slumber and a new populace would be able to take up where they left off. She might even be able to warp their memories – erase all knowledge of her Moon Kingdom from their minds – but with the Golden Crystal still on Earth, actively protecting the citizens, her Illusionary Silver Crystal might not be able to completely rework them. She’d have to send it to the Cauldron first.

Which means Diana’s plan might be the only way.

The Moon would have to go to war, to protect itself and its future.

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PostSubject: Re: [Story] Cardinal King -COMPLETE-   10th July 2015, 7:40 pm

^ I'm sorry if you don't like me responding to everything you're posting, but M makes me want to shove Diana off a cliff and Q makes me sad.

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PostSubject: Re: [Story] Cardinal King -COMPLETE-   10th July 2015, 7:43 pm

Z is for Zenith

Mamoru stepped carefully around his broken table, edged between a cabinet with broken plates and a splintered chair, and touched down on living room carpet, where he warily resisted the urge to start cleaning up the cutlery and shattered glasses strewn across the floor. He tried to push the thought of the fight that had caused the destruction from his mind, but it wasn’t easy. 

As soon as he had entered the building, the supervisor had stopped him and berated him for the incredible noise from the previous day – a lot of his neighbours had been disturbed by the commotion, and he should really be more considerate of others if he wanted to remain a tenant of the building. He had briefly considered blaming it on a break-in, but cast the thought aside; as nice as it might have been to have financial assistance reoutfitting his kitchen and some of his living room, he didn’t want the police looking into it and possibly linking Midori and Usagi to the destruction. Instead, he had apologized, stated it would never happen again, and went on his way. 

And now, just glancing back into the kitchen would remind him of how they had found Midori. Seeing the couch out of the corner of his eye as he passed it reminded him of what Midori had said, and the picture it had painted of Usagi, possessed as Jewel Tiara. In the end they had made it – they had, against the odds, saved the world, but the journey had been a hard one.

Mamoru made it through the living room and into his bedroom, grabbed a bag, and started packing to spend the night elsewhere – Hanada and Midori had offered; he’d take one of them up on it. As he was in the restroom, packing his toothbrush, a voice startled him.

So this is where you disappeared to. Mamoru’s lip twitched up in a half-smile involuntarily as a small pegasus popped into existence just over the toilet. Helios threw his head, rearranging his mane as he regarded him with a sunstone-hued eye, Everyone had been so sure you returned to the hospital to visit with Usagi-chan. 

“She should rest,” he explained with a shrug, packing other toiletries, “She and the other girls have been answering questions from detectives ever since they woke up again.” 

So you did go and see her again. Helios smugly replied.

Mamoru ignored the jab and led his bag through the door to his bedroom, where he packed pajamas, some clothing, and threw his bag on his bed to cover his school uniform with a dry-cleaning bag, all the while remembering how nervous and excited Usako had been when he popped by before heading back here; the detectives were annoying, but she was following the other girls’ leads with the answers – they had remembered nothing. They had faint recollections of falling down in public, and hazy images of a wide-open field, but that was it. Usagi was fairly certain that was all they remembered, honestly, except she believed they might recognize each other from somewhere. He had left soon after, noticing that ex-Venus was striking up a conversation with ex-Jupiter and knowing Usako deeply wanted to meet them again. 

He knew they would love her; he hoped they would never have to reawaken as Senshi again. They deserved peace and a normal life, free from whatever terrible memories awaited them should transforming prove to cure them of their current amnesia. 

You’re going back to school tomorrow, then? Helios asked as Mamoru slung his overnight bag over his shoulder, and then his uniform on top of that, gripping the hanger head with the duffle straps. 

He reached down and picked up his school briefcase, a brow quirking at Helio’s question. “Why wouldn’t I?”

You could stand to take a few days to rest, too, you know. Helios replied, gliding to keep pace. Midori’s practically declared he’s staying home for the rest of the week, and is working on getting the others to join him.

Mamoru smiled, “And what does Kobai have to say about that?” Really, practically anyone else’s name could have fit there, though; then again, Hanada had been known to skip school on occasion, so maybe not...

He looked almost agreeable.

Both of Mamoru’s brows raised – Kobai didn’t seem the type; Kunzite definitely hadn’t been, but then, they weren’t their past selves.

He locked the door behind them, and glanced down the hallway to make sure they were alone before he asked, “Has Beryl come back yet?”

No, Helios replied gustily, She intends to stay in Elysion and do what  she can to repair and cleanse it.

“Should I…” Mamoru trailed off, not exactly knowing how to phrase the question, just as he didn’t know what he would say to her if Helios said he should. He had hurt her feelings – without meaning to, mostly – and nothing about their relationship had changed. She had nearly died for him – twice, if you count transforming herself into a fairy and sacrificing an afterlife on the off-chance he and his friends would be reborn – but that didn’t mean he returned her romantic affections, and he didn’t know how else he could tell her that would make her feel any better.

No, Helios replied, to Mamoru’s relief, I think it’s best to  let her be for a while. 

They started down the stairs together before Mamoru asked his next question, honestly a little nervous about this one, too. “So, what are you going to do now?”

Helios tossed his main irritably, What, you think you could get rid of me so easily? He whirled around on him, red eyes flashing in playful irritation, Prince Endymion, you have been reborn without court or council but with the ability to change this planet, for better or for worse. My job as your chief advisor is only just beginning. There is no way I could leave you now.

“So now you’ve promoted yourself to ‘chief advisor’, huh? On whose authority?” he teased.

On my own, as the High Priest of Elysion. Helios sniffed.

“Oooh, so you’re keeping that title, too?”

It’s still mine. Chief Advisor is simply an addition to my previous duties.

“I don’t know, that seems like a lot for one person.”

It’ll be tough, but I’ll manage somehow.

Mamoru grinned. “I’m sure you will,” he replied, in all honesty. They reached the door to the stairwell and he paused, his hand on the handle. Helios drifted into place on his shoulder, arranging himself as a stuffed toy – something neither of them particularly enjoyed, but at the moment he preferred that to going without his company. “Helios,” he said before opening the door, “Thank you. For everything.”

Helios flicked his tail so the long silver hair smacked Mamoru on the back of his head. It’s not over yet, but you’re welcome.

He opened the door and almost ran into a young boy on the other side. He excused himself, ignoring the look Helios was getting from the red-eyed child, and they went on their way.

------------And so ends Cardinal King's first arc, launching Mamoru and his friends forward towards their next adventure...


((BTW totally will fill in gaps when i finish other letters XD))

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PostSubject: Re: [Story] Cardinal King -COMPLETE-   10th July 2015, 7:44 pm

@mercury_viola_rhapsody wrote:
@Sailor Uranus wrote:
((Ssh I might've completed I, j, m, q, and z while on Loa))

((Oh and plotted out season two and am more than halfway into the first chapter))

Yay! I can't wait to read those!   

(I also have a third fic lined up in the pipeline of things inspired by this one. I hope you liked the other two.)

@mercury_viola_rhapsody wrote:
^ These are awesome. Hanada's testament kind of makes me want to explore an AU where they do die but everyone's saved, and Usagi's is adorable. 

@mercury_viola_rhapsody wrote:
^ I'm sorry if you don't like me responding to everything you're posting, but M makes me want to shove Diana off a cliff and Q makes me sad.

XD I love it!! no problem at all!! I'm on my ipad and it didn't tell me anyone replied - I like your mini reviews!! >D and isn't Diana great? mwahahahhaa

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Super Awesome Space Museum//Kyra's RP's


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[Story] Cardinal King -COMPLETE-

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