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 [One-shot] Entropy

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Sailor Uranus
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PostSubject: [One-shot] Entropy   12th July 2014, 7:42 pm

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Entropy: the gradual decline of Cosmos (orderly and harmonic) into Chaos (disorder and confusion).
 


 
She knew now – she understood everything. With a calm determination she rushed forward, sure in what she had to do. Would this save everyone? Maybe not, but perhaps this would be enough to satiate the universe. They all belong together – the darkness chases the light and the light brings the darkness, everything wants to be as it was in the beginning, when they were all one within the cauldron. Hers was the brightest star of all, and his, the darkest chasm in the galaxy. Only she could subdue him without destroying everything. She reached the end of the precipice and propelled herself forward, diving down into the mass of churning stellar matter, flying as though to surround Chaos with the love in her heart, the understanding and acceptance she had just gained. This was what she was meant for, because no one deserved to be alone!
 

 
When she awoke she found herself in her own bed. Sitting up straight, she surveyed her surroundings, searching for anything amiss, wondering if she were within the confines of the Cauldron. … Was she dead? But everything was as she had left it… as the alarm clock sounded its shrill little “cheep cheep!” beside her, she was sure: this couldn’t possibly be heaven.
 
“Usagi! Wake up or you’ll be late for school again!” her mother yelled from downstairs, and with a wide smile she got up and dressed in her high school uniform, dashing from the room and down the stairs, for once moving quick enough to have minutes to spare before she had to leave for school. Skidding to a stop beside the table she hastily took a seat, smiling at the batch of pancakes her mother had made for her. Picking up her utensils she cut into the stack with enthusiasm. As she tasted the first delicious mouthful, sighing at the amazing flavor, she glanced around the room for any sign of Luna, and asked aloud after her. “Where’s Luna?”
 
Her mother stopped mid-pour, the orange juice glass still in her hand as she gave Usagi one of the saddest looks she had ever received, and the beat of her heart faltered. Her fork fell as her mother’s blue eyes glanced away and then back again; she swallowed hard as Ikuko-mama regained her resolution and put the jar and glass on the table. With the resounding thuds, tears sprang to her eyes as she realized that the events at the River Lethe must have actually transpired. Luna, Artemis, and Diana were dead. Ikuko rushed forward and surrounded her in a hug, whispering comfortingly, “Did you forget?”
 
Usagi nodded, hugging her mother close.
 
She was told she didn’t have to go to school that day, but what she wanted most was to be with everyone. Did they know? Losing Artemis… Usagi had to be there for Minako. Maybe they’d skip school together, but she didn’t want to stay home alone. On the familiar path to school she would alternate between walking slowly, taking in the trees, the sky, the morning air, a stark contrast to the fight she faced only hours before, and running, not wanting to miss Minako at the spot where their paths usually crossed on the way to school. She kept an eye out for Ami and Makoto; though they took a different route to school, part of her hoped that they would double back to walk with her. She hadn’t seen them since… she pushed past the thought. All of that was over now. They won, and now they could go back to the way things had been.
 
As she turned a corner her eyes fell across a patch of sidewalk that took her comforting thought and pulled it out from beneath her. Her breath caught in her throat and she froze, staring at the exact spot where she had met Luna, all those years ago. Her eyes swam and her breath caught, but she pushed herself forward, ignoring the tears on her cheeks as she rushed for the intersection ahead where Minako would nearly run into her as they raced to get to school on time.
 
Minako never came. Usagi waited until the school bell rang, just in case she had been really late, but in the end she went the rest of the way alone. Maybe she had been the one who was really late, or maybe Minako stayed home alone. She decided to get to school and see if her friend was there, and, if she weren’t, go with Ami and Makoto to her house instead of second period. She raced through the empty school yard alone, tore through the empty hallways, up the stairs, and slid to a stop in front of her classroom. She took a hasty breath and slid open the door, her eyes searching first for blonde hair, then blue, then brown. They were absent.
 
“Tsukino-san?”
 
As her heart sunk lower and lower and her chest turned to lead, she searched the room for the long ponytails of the visiting senshi, Seiya, Taiki, and Yaten, but their desks, too, were empty. Her legs stopped working as her mind frantically tried to shut itself off; she slid to the floor as their homeroom teacher rushed forward and her classmates stood in a world far away from where she was.
 
It couldn’t be this way.
 
She remembered the teacher feeling her head, remembered the class representative rushing out of the room, the looks of concern and the whispers, the glances to the empty desks.
 
But it couldn’t be this way.
 
She pushed herself to her feet, forgetting her book bag as she ran away, down the hallway, the stairs, across the ground, down the street. She ran as fast as her legs could take her, her chest heaving as she finally slid to a stop in front of the Aino residence. She knocked on the door with as much control as she could, ignoring the desperation the quick knocks betrayed. When a woman answered, she all but blurted, “Is Minako-chan home?”
 
“Usagi-chan, no,” the woman shook her head, concerned confusion coloring her features, “I thought – I hoped she was with you. Wait!” she called after her, “Where is Minako?!”
 
But Usagi had already bowed politely and ran off, her heart hammering from more than the exertion as she dashed down the street, skidding to a stop to catch a bus. She tossed the proper coinage into the receptacle and ignored the curious glances as she took a seat, putting her head in her hands and concentrating on breathing, pushing back the panic as best she could. She counted the stops, waiting as patiently as she could until her stop arrived. She used the doorway to give her an extra boost as she threw herself off the bus and towards the steps of the Hikawa Shrine.
 
She fell once as she climbed but kept going, pushing her legs until she broke the top level. “Rei-chan!” she yelled as loud as she could manage, breathing heavily. She waited, watching the shrine for movement. “REI-CHAN!!” she called louder, and her heart jumped as a door slid open, her knees giving out on her again. Rei was there, and any minute she’d appear and reprimand her for yelling and startling the birds and scaring off the patrons, and for being stupid for doubting that they had made it, and being even more stupid for going to school instead of going straight there. And then Ami-chan would say something about how they really shouldn’t skip any more school because they could be held back, and Mako-chan would pat her on the shoulder and say how it was useless at this point anyway, and Minako-chan would celebrate because if they had missed too many days this year already, why bother going back to school at all? And then they would all be together again, and laugh and cry and –
 
But it wasn’t Rei.
 
She wrapped her arms around her chest and cried, giving in for the moment to the horrible suspicion that everything she had feared was true, that none of them had returned from the cauldron. That she had saved the universe, but she hadn’t saved them. Grandpa Hino didn’t say anything, he just hugged her, patting her on the back in a comforting manner, whispering soft words meant to calm her down, but there was no reason to calm down, right? Because it couldn’t be true. They had to be alive – fate wasn’t so cruel. No one deserved to be alone, she had used that to defeat Chaos. She pushed herself up off the ground, breaking free of Grandpa Hino’s embrace, and practically flew back down the stairs, running as quickly as she could towards the tall apartment building Ami lived in. She was denied entrance to the building, told that Mizuno Ami was still away on holiday. Makoto’s apartment remained quiet, despite how hard she banged on the door, despite how many times she yelled. The super intendant had been called on her for making so much noise, and he informed her that if Kino-san did not pay rent soon, she would be evicted from her apartment.
 
Their headquarters below Crown Arcade were empty, the computer systems functioning but untouched.
 
Ikuko and Grandpa Hino found her curled up in a phone booth, dialing and redialing the same number, listening to the away message, “We’re sorry, but we can’t come to the phone right now. If you have a message for Tenoh Haruka, Kaioh Michiru, Meioh Setsuna, or Hotaru-chan, please leave a message and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.” Before hanging up and dialing again.
 
“They’ll get back to me as soon as they can,” Usagi repeated brokenly as her mother pulled her close. She told them everything, about how they had died, but she had gone to the Cauldron to save them, and had to fight them and destroy them, but she had won and it wasn’t fair that she came back and they didn’t. The story was interrupted many times as she skipped ahead, then fell back, pausing to hiccup or sob, but her mother listened patiently, holding her close, letting her cry, never interrupting with a question. When she was finally done, or as done as she could be at the moment, Ikuko kept her close until she could breathe normally, only then pushing her back to look her in the eye.
 
Ikuko’s eyes were wet as well, but she was firm when she said, “Their mothers need to know, Usagi-chan. They can’t be left in the dark anymore.” Usagi nodded. “I can tell them,” Ikuko offered, giving her a way out, but Usagi shook her head. Only she could tell their full story, about how brave they were, how selfless and amazing and how much they done, time and time again. Only she could hope to express how much they meant. Ikuko told her that Minako’s mother had appeared at their house earlier that day asking after her daughter, leaving only a few minutes before Grandpa Hino had found her and they started looking for Usagi. That night, then, she would tell them everything.
 
As the sun started setting, Hikawa Shrine was closed to visitors. Within one of its great rooms were gathered Usagi’s family, Ikuko, Kenji, and Shingo; and the surviving families of her friends, or those that she could locate: Ami’s mother; Rei’s grandfather; Minako’s parents; and the two people outside their group that knew their identities and had kept them secret: Naru-chan and Asanuma-kun. The two of them, along with Grandpa Hino and Ikuko, helped give Usagi’s story credibility as she told them the truth, from the beginning. Who their daughters had been, what they stood for, everything they had accomplished, the countless lives they had saved – all of it came to light, including the real explanations behind the ‘strange weather events’ of the past few years. A lot of what she said brought looks of disbelief or anger – why was she saying this? Why was she lying to them? –but with nods of support from the four who had known or suspected, the outbursts were quieted before they were voiced. But still, despite the flashes of recognition that crossed their faces, the simultaneous hope and fear in their eyes, they did not fully accept what they were being told. It wasn’t until Usagi transformed that Ami’s mother started to cry.
 
Together they buried the bodies of Luna, Artemis, and Diana, the only corporeal representations they had for everyone they had lost, and said their goodbyes.
 
 
 
Later that night, curled up on the couch in an empty apartment, Sailor Cosmos cradled a picture of what should have been her family. Her eyes traced their features, those of her one true love and their future daughter, and regarded the line of pearl rings on the fingers that held the frame close. This was the path she ended on, rather than the path they had forged together. The future they had seen, the millennia they were to spend together, the happiness they were to have had, she had missed it somehow. She would never be Neo Queen Serenity of Crystal Tokyo, surrounded by her dearest friends for all of eternity. In the clarity that came when emotions were exhausted, she considered the repercussions of her final action. She had not destroyed the cauldron; of that she was fairly certain. She had embraced the loneliness of Chaos, gave her light to its darkness, and that she lived now must mean… something. Perhaps she healed the cauldron and dispersed Chaos, putting things in balance yet again. Perhaps she had failed, and the cauldron and chaos were completely destroyed. Maybe that was why her friends hadn’t returned. Maybe that was why she had transformed into Cosmos rather than Moon; she had become the antithesis of Chaos, and threw the universe into unbalance in the other direction.
 
The battle would continue then, and she had to stay and protect the people from chaos, just as she had always done.
 
Slowly her transformation faded away, leaving only Usagi, small and very much alone. As she gazed down at the images she had memorized a thousand times over, no more tears came. Even as she tried to say her goodbyes to Chibi-Usa and to Mamoru, she knew there would never truly be a goodbye, not with Mamoru, not with any of them. She would never forget them. She wouldn’t let their memories fade; her heart was now theirs, and until she joined them again in the Cauldron, they would survive in her. She wouldn’t let them go.
 
 
Weeks passed and slowly she recovered. She would get up in the morning, would get dressed and have breakfast with her family. She started accepting Naru’s invitations out, she could walk down the street without always being reminded of them. Eventually she could talk about them without crying, but then she would accidentally turn to someone who wasn’t there, or reach out for a hand that couldn’t hold hers, and she would start shaking.
 
 
The first attack on Earth surprised her with its familiarity. Lemures attacked the city, a Dead Moon Circus staking its tents in town. She transformed and went to its source, Nehelenia reborn, and despite the pain in her heart, the nightmares she had been facing, watching and rewatching the many sacrifices her friends had made, she could not see her as a monster to be destroyed. Nehelenia was angry and violent, crazed into madness by the rejection she had suffered, the pain of being forgotten, the fear of growing old, and the ever-present loneliness that Usagi had felt in Chaos. As Cosmos, Usagi approached Nehelenia and subdued her with her understanding. She drew her close and gave her the light that she craved, along with a piece of herself: her feeling of belonging. She needed it more than Usagi did, for Usagi still felt everyone’s love, even if she did not feel like she belonged.
 
Nehelenia left, taking her servants with her; healed of the malicious feelings within, she set up her own court on the far side of the moon, and lived there in peace.
 
Isolation and rejection took root in Usagi’s heart, but still she carried on. She spent more and more time alone; through no fault of her own, Naru started to forget about Usagi, and Usagi let her. She understood what she had given up, but still she felt the love of her friends in her heart and she could be happy.
 
She spent her time waiting at Infinity Park, between the Meioh, Tenoh, and Kaioh buildings, sitting in a bench outside the building that had sprung up in the ruins of Mugen Academy, waiting for Mistress Nine as though she were an old friend. With a great tear in the fabric of time and space, Pharaoh 90 appeared instead, his chaotic need destroying everything in his path. Usagi as Cosmos stood before him, holding her arms out, and gave him the light he craved. As he calmed she felt his true emotions – the desperate panic of danger, the need to survive in a hospitable environment; as she embraced him the only way she could, she considered only for a moment the repercussions her gift would have on her. Her feeling of security and safety was a human need, but she believed she could live without it, so long as she had their love in her heart. As it left her, newfound anxiety wracking her from within, Chaos calmed and retreated, mending the tear it had created. It would find a new area of space to inhabit and live there peacefully.
 
Usagi’s days and nights were long and tiring; often she found herself transforming without reason, always searching around her, never feeling safe or accepted. A glance down at her engagement ring, a symbol she had broadened to encompass her friends’ love as well as Mamoru’s, would comfort her, bringing her back to herself, rooting her in reality.
 
The next attack was not by Diamond, but by the Death Phantom himself. He came to her in the middle of the night, appearing in her bedroom suddenly, and immediately started draining her of energy. She transformed into Cosmos, giving him more of what he sought, and in her light she read him truer. He was angry, jealous of the longevity she had been promised, and wanting more than he had, more than he had ever hoped to attain. His greed was the stem of his discord, and so Usagi gave him her contentment along with her light. His malice faded, his thoughts clearing, and the death phantom disappeared, returning to the time stream in peace.
 
Bitterness, anxiety, and rejection were Usagi’s constant companions. Without the ring to ground her, and the love that it represented, she knew what kind of person she would be. Already she was struggling not to snap at people, not to attack the world around her, not to succumb to the depression her internal isolation threatened upon her; as confusion and second-guessing enveloped her life, she felt she was slowly dissolving into Chaos. Every bit of herself she gave away was another step into darkness, and yet she did not begrudge her once-enemies. She understood them, and in so doing she could not hate them. They were part of her.
 
The next incarnation she would face gave her the most pause; she knew who was to come, and what she would want. The fear of giving it up nearly drove her insane with worry – her love? She couldn’t give that away, she couldn’t lose it! Not them, not him, none of it – they were hers, they gave her reason, they kept her grounded, she could not give them away, no matter how lonely and unloved Beryl or Metallia were. Her friends were hers, her love was hers, and she could not have them!
 
She was driven to such desperation she had the door to the timestream opened before she realized what she was doing. Her plan had come to mind without contemplation, without thinking – she would go into the past and convince herself not to do this. She should have destroyed the cauldron and lived with the consequences… else died with them. Her decision to give Chaos what he needed was the wrong choice; this was not something she could live with. Her friends, her love, her… greed. Her anxiety. Her need for acceptance, her need of safety, her need of contentment. Her need of love. She was no different than they; did Metallia not deserve the peace she had once enjoyed? Was she that selfish?
 
She closed the doors as her emotions threatened to boil over. She let the transformation melt away and stayed up the rest of the night, staring at the heart-shaped stone resting on her ring finger, thinking of the loop it rested on and the meaning behind a ring; it was never ending, a symbol of eternity, married to the symbol of love. Eternal love; if she gave that to Chaos, would that stop it once and for all?
If she gave that to Chaos, what would become of her?
 
Jumpy, nervous, and needy, she still somehow found the strength, courage, and bravery to take the first step. She awaited Metallia at D-point, and as an intense wave of hatred washed over her, she felt the arrival of her companion. Again she felt the urge to run away, but the reason she wanted to run was the very same that kept her grounded. No one should feel that alone and unloved. She strode through the snow towards her old foe and the being howled, bunching for a fight. She threw her staff away, her eyes moving from the weak spot on Metallia’s forehead to the being’s eyes, and opened her arms wide. The rage she felt nearly knocked her over, but she held her ground, sending out the comforting light the Chaotic creature sought. She felt tired, but still she pushed through the urgency her newfound greed sent to mind; this was the last of it, the last of her light. Once she gave away her love she would have nothing, but still she pushed through, unable to ignore Metallia’s heart. She gave it what Beryl had craved, the feeling of being openly loved, and as the emotion was sent from her, her heart was instantly claimed by the feelings that love had kept at bay. Anxiety wracked her, bitterness overcame her, rejection threw her, confusion angered her, and as the emotions rolled together to become hatred, her light finally faded and went out.
 
She fell to her knees in the snow, hugging herself to keep her power in check; she had lost her light, but she could sense the immense power of Cosmos within her. “Go!” she yelled, for Metallia remained. “I forgive you! Please, go, I have nothing left to give! Go, before I can’t hold it back!”
 
Anger, malice, fear, depression, rage, rejection – these emotions told her to call her staff, to strike out at Metallia before she could leave, to dissipate the shadows that remain with the cruel light of the Cosmos, but she only held herself tighter. Metallia had to escape – she deserved a chance to enjoy peace. When she left Usagi would take to space in exile; she would hide herself away, taking the darkness with her; she felt it taking over her already; her white skirt and bodice turning black. Was this her true destiny? To expend herself as Cosmos only to become Chaos?
 
Was this how Chaos was born?
 
“I forgive you.”
 
The words broke through the tempest of emotions like a shock of ice water. She looked up, still holding herself close, and saw Metallia staring back at her, the shadowy frame shrinking in size and brightening.
 
A rift opened in the time stream to emit the Death Phantom, though he no longer resembled his name. “I forgive you,” he stated, green eyes on hers.
 
In an explosion of sound and light, the sky tore open to emit Pharaoh 90, though now he appeared as a nebula of colors and light. “I forgive you,” the voice boomed.
 
Landing in the snow behind her, Nehelenia stood with her hands held before her, a smile on her lips. “You had nothing, and yet still you helped us become whole. Moon Princess or Earth Queen, I forgive you.”
 
Each exoneration made her lighter, the turbulent emotions fading as each original owner gave her their forgiveness, the understanding a need she had never quite identified before, but felt relief at now. She had destroyed them before. She had ignored their needs, never seeing past their evil, and had banished them to darkness; she had acted in ignorance, and while she had atoned in her own way, their mutual understanding of her methods calmed the knot in her stomach. Slowly all emotion left her, the black seeped out of her uniform, but as the emotions left she felt more and more tired, lighter than ever before.
 
“Thank you,” she replied, her voice faint as a breeze, and fell face-forward into the snow, her soul at peace.
 
….
 
When she awoke she was alone and far away from D-point. The air was warm and smelled of familiar flowers, and every sound she made echoed in the emptiness surrounding her. She sat up, noticing that her Cosmos uniform had disappeared, but she was not afraid. She felt peaceful, despite the faint rumbling around her. Her heart thumped loudly in her chest, and with it returned emotions of concern. Where was she? Was this the Galaxy Cauldron? Memories of the past months slowly disappeared, giving way to memories of her time fighting for the Galaxy Cauldron… memories of the past few hours… but while she forgot the exact means, the troubles, the hardships she had faced, the feeling of the forgiveness of her enemies remained engraved in her heart.
 
Before her a small figure appeared. “I am Guardian Cosmos.” …
 
And the rest is history. The end.

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PostSubject: Re: [One-shot] Entropy   21st September 2014, 1:51 pm

So rereading this for the first time in forever, I think it needs polishing. ((yes, I'm reviewing my own stuff XD))

I think it could make it as a multi-chapter fic if I wanted to stretch it out as a full narrative, as the first half attempts to be, and dedicate one chapter to the build-up and "battle" against each of the chaotic forms. I think it could be interesting to play with Usagi as she loses core parts of her self, but then I also like how this can read as a short story, almost like a fairy tale type thing, which makes me want to rewrite the beginning to fit more into the style at the end.

XD It's almost like two story tellers mashed something together. ... which is kinda true, as I wrote the first half nearly a year before writing the second, as I had the general idea for the story but didn't know how I wanted to finish it until I just sat down with it this summer and played with the idea of Cosmos becoming Chaos. 

^^ Overall I like it, but it definitely needs reworking in some places, rewording in some places, and a bit of a polish all around xD

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PostSubject: Re: [One-shot] Entropy   21st September 2014, 2:45 pm

Ooh, I read this a while ago and I loved it. It's beautiful. Haunting in a way. The idea that Usagi keeps giving a piece of herself away to save her enemies is very appropriate. Of course, our Usagi never loses them because she has limitless love but this was an interesting what-if. ^^

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