Nine figures stood around a tenth. To the observer, the group would look like an ordinary group of young friends hanging out. The only thing that stood out about them were their eyes. On even the smallest member of the group, the eyes were too wise ... as if they had seen much more than they should have. These children had to grow up too fast.
The silence was broken by the center figure. "There is no more time. We must do it now, or all will be lost. You will all sleep through the years, and you will be awakened by future counterparts to yourselves. They will be similar ... children who have fought great battles. And in many ways have the same personalities." Her mouth quirked a little.
"What about you, Pluto? Are you going to sleep as well?"
Pluto smiled fondly at the speaker. A girl who should never have been a fighter in the first place. "No, Princess. I shall remain at my post and watch over the timestream. I will guide your counterparts and rejoin you when you awaken." She stood at her post as the younger members of the group came together in an embrace that was both a farewell and a wish for luck.
"Pluto ... what are you not telling us?"
Pluto turned to the young woman who had aged so rapidly recently ... a sign of what was to come. She now matched Uranus and Neptune in age. "Saturn ... the Prince will be awakened by one who should have been one of us, but Hyne took her from our ranks and hurled her into the distant future. The Prince knows of her. The important thing is we will finally be complete."
Saturn nodded and returned to her place, not completely satisfied, but she knew better than to press Pluto for answers she wasn't ready to give.
Pluto waited one more moment as the Princess finished kissing the dark haired young man who almost stood out. "Is everyone ready?" When she received nods from everyone, she called upon her powers over time. "I call upon my planet, Pluto, to freeze the warriors as was preordained by Selene ... Goddess of light and love!" She felt a great deal of sympathy for her sister soldiers. None of them were happy about this process, but they knew it had to be done. They would be needed at a different time, when they would be joined by others who would fight against the evil that forced them into darkness. When it was over, Pluto sighed at the nine crystals that surrounded her. "Go, my friends. Scatter and hide yourselves." She watched as, one by one, the crystals vanished. That done, she left the chamber as well to guard the time gate.
Years passed slowly for Pluto as she watched generations come and go. Then a certain group of children caught her attention. The eldest of which seemed to know when Pluto was watching. 'I think it is nearly time.'
"Sis? What's wong?"
Ellone frowned a little bit then regarded the little boy in front of her with a smile. Squall looked up at her with such adoration that she felt almost humbled. A part of her still wished that her Uncle Laguna had gone home with her to Winhill, but she understood that he was very busy now. Squall was now her responsibility, and she loved him as if he really were her little brother. "Nuthin's wrong, Squall. I just felt a chill. Go play with Quisty!"
Squall pouted a little. "I don' wanna! She's bossy an' gets mad if you don' do things HER way. She's no fun." Then he kicked at the floor a little. "Seffie's playin wif her dolls, Zell's no fun because he starts cryin if you so much as muss his hair, Irvy just wants ta play cowboys an' indians ..."
"And Seifer just likes to play rough." She sighed and wondered if the other children realised just how sensitive Squall was. He wanted to play like the other children, but he liked games that made him think. He liked playing chess and checkers as well as Triple Triad. Games where he had to plan his next move. "All right ... set up the chess board. Lessee if you can beat me this time." She had to smile as his face lit up just before he ran to do just that. Every game he played with her, he got just a little better. It now was the point where the other children would gather around them to see if the game the pair played would be the one where Squall finally beat her.
Selphie looked up from her doll house. "What's up?" She grinned as Squall dug out the chess board. "You an' Sis gonna play chess?"
"Uh-huh!" Squall smiled back as Selphie quickly put her dolls away and ran to tell the others.
"Everyone come quick! Squall an' Sis're gonna play CHESS!" She giggled happily. They all had their little roles. Quisty liked to keep track of the game by writing down the moves, Irvy made quiet comments while she was more colorful and said things that made Squall smile a little. Zell would root for Squall and Seifer would root for Sis. It was those few times that all the orphanage children came together for a single purpose. They'd gather in the main room where Matron could watch them.
Edea chuckled as she finished weeding. She was proud of the youngest child under her care. Of all of them, he had been brought to her as a baby. In essence, he was the closest thing she would ever get to having a son, and a part of her desperately hoped that no one else would adopt him so that she could keep the boy. Although Ellone had told her that the boy's father was still alive, she'd had no success in contacting him. 'Still ... the man seemed a little too flighty for my taste. It was as if he were a little boy trapped in a man's body.' She smiled up at her husband as he placed a hand on her shoulder. "Let's go see how he does this time."
Cid smiled warmly in return. Although he'd never own up to it, he was just as intrigued as the children when Squall played against Ellone. He felt as Edea did ... that Squall was the son they could never have.
From her position at the Time Gate, Pluto chuckled as she watched. 'Boy has a level head on his shoulders.' She found that she was liking the group despite herself. She waved her hand over the image to see which houses the children came from. She blinked in surprise ... not one child amongst them was a spirit from Earth. The eldest was from a house on Pluto ... which made sense to the Senshi of time. The brooding blonde boy who was rooting for the girl was from a house on Mars whilst the exited blond next to him was from a house on Saturn.
She turned her attention to the three youngsters in action. The strawberry blonde girl jotting down notes was from a house on Mercury ... probably of a noble family considering how strong the aura was. The cheerful little redhead who bounced a little was from a house on Venus. She found it odd that the boy with the nut brown hair and smiling eyes was from a house on Neptune, but there was a slight grace in his movements that shoved her doubts away.
Finally she studied the boy. Considering his seriousness, she had thought that HE was from a house on Earth, but that wasn't the case. He was most definitely of Lunar nobility. Perhaps even someone from the royal family. His aura was much stronger than the girl taking notes. 'Those two will attract one another ... I can tell. Auras that strong usually call out to each other. If not in love, then at least in friendship.' She smiled and nodded at how close the children seemed. 'Yes ... these seven are definitely part of the group. They will scatter and call out to others.' She nodded ... satisfied with them. 'Now all I have to do is wait.'
*-Two Years Later-*
And wait is what Pluto did. She waited and watched as those seven children scattered. She did feel a pang of sympathy for the boys of Mars and the Moon ... while the others left with new families, they were stuck behind. She watched as they grew and were sent to a newly formed school. 'Again ... problems in the world make it necessary for little children to fight!' She sighed and stepped out of the time stream once again as Setsuna Meiou. She demonstrated her knowledge and took a position as instructor of history. She walked into the first class, a small group of children who were missing their parents desperately, and smiled. "Let me tell you a story about a peaceful time ... for fables and legends are a part of history as much as actual events are. And many legends are based on fact." She took a breath and started telling them of the Siver Millenium so long ago ... and finished with the crytallization of the Senshi. "And no one knows what happened to them." She looked at the awe struck expressions. "Any questions?" She blinked as Seifer, the boy from a Martian house, raised his hand. She had learned all the names of those children. "Yes, Seifer?"
"Isn't." Setsuna gently corrected Seifer.
The boy scowled before resuming. "Why isn't there a Soldier for Earth?"
Setsuna smiled. "Because Hyne, jealous of Selene's charisma, took the soul belonging to Earth's soldier and flung it far into the future. The body it was to inhabit was stillborn. Although it did have a sibling that lived." She heard a faint mumbling. "What was that, Squall? I can't hear you when you mumble like that."
"I said that if Hyne's that mean, I'd rather follow Selene." Then he scowled a little. "Taking a baby's sibling away is just plain wrong!"
Setsuna would have given anything to be able to hug the little boy. He knew what it was like to love someone whole heartedly and then lose them. She would have commented, but the bell rang. "Class dismissed. Tomorrow we start on the real stuff ... so don't forget your notebooks." She smiled a little as the children filed out, talking excitedly about her tale. She started straightening up the room. Since so far, there was only a handful of children, she only had the one class each day. 'That will change all too soon. What a pity that the adults of this world can't fight their own battles.' She looked up as Cid walked in. "Can I help you with anything, sir?"
"Miss Meiou ... I hired you to teach history, not to tell bedtime stories." Setsuna smiled. "Headmaster ... I understand your position, but these children are feeling lost and abandoned. I gave them something else to think about so they are a little happier. I gave them something to dream about." She put a few foldres away. "Besides ... how do you know that what I told the children wasn't history?"
"Please! A time of great peace and prosperity where people could live on any planet in the solar system? Where every planet had a Princess who became a fighter?"
"And yet ... that's what these children are training to be." Setsuna sighed and leaned against a desk. "By telling them the story of a great peace, it gave them something to fight for. By telling them of the Sailor Senshi, it gave them rolemodels that they could identify with. Children who had to go into battle so people incapable of protecting themselves didn't have to." She sighed and walked over to the door. "I need you to be on my side here. Much more is at stake than you know." She walked into the hallway and nearly tripped over Seifer. "You'll be late for your next class."
"It's only the first day, and I'm not expected t' be on time. I gotta ask yoo a question!"
Setsuna crouched down and nodded. "What would you like to know?"
"Yoo said the Princess of the moon didn't have the other senshi when she was first awakened as Sailor Moon ... so how'd she get so far without 'em? Yoo said she wasn't s'posed t' be a fighter, but she was made one."
Setsuna smiled gently. "Because she had a knight who protected her." She didn't mention the fact that the knight wore a tuxedo and a top hat. "That knight was her Prince reborn, and he had sworn to defend her in all ways."
Seifer's eyes widened. "Did they fall in love?"
There was such yearning there, that Setsuna felt her heart wrench within her. "Yes ... yes they loved each other very much."
Seifer nodded. "When I grow up, I'm gonna be a knight! I'm gonna protect a princess from all danger an' I won't let nobody stand in my way!"
Setsuna blinked as he ran off. 'Hn! How do you like that?' She chuckled and shook her head as she headed for her room.
***** The next day, she was interrupted by Headmaster Cid entering with a few more students. She glanced over the small group as Cid introduced them to the class. Inside she smiled. There was a tomboyish silver-haired girl who glowed with the aura of Uranus and a tanned boy who was quite obviously crackling with the aura of Jupiter. 'All I need to do now is find the one who is from a house on Earth with the power within her to become a senshi, and the group will be complete. She nodded at the children. "Fuujin ... Raijin ... you two can take seats next to Seifer." She had a feeling that those three would bond fiercely. She brought her attention to a girl she recognized. "You can go sit next to Squall back there, Quistis."
Quistis practically ran to her seat, as if terrified of Setsuna and all adults. She paused a moment and smiled brightly. "Squall? Is that really REALLY you?"
Squall couldn't bring himself to smile ... although he was a little glad to see the bossy girl again. "Yeah ... what happened? Your cheek is all bruised."
Quistis made a face. "I got this two nights ago when I dropped a jelly-covered spoon onto the floor." She shrugged. "I was lucky I was able to sneak out ... had the man come home, I would have really been in trouble."
Setsuna overheard this and frowned deeply. The child had said it so nonchalantly, that she wondered if Quistis had received similar injuries. She shook off the anger and began her instructions. Every so often, she would walk around the room and offer encouragement by words or by touch. She hated that Quistis flinched for the first half of the class and stayed tense through the rest of it, but she knew the child needed to learn more than history. She needed to know that not all adults would be cruel. When the bell sounded, Setsuna kept Quistis back. She regarded the child who watched her with frightened eyes and kept her tone gentle. "Quistis ... calm down a little. You're so worried that I'm about to strike out at you that you're not paying attention to the class. Please sit down."
"What're you gonna ... going to ... do to me? PLEASE don't send me back! Don't let them send me away! I'll do better, I promise!"
Setsuna knelt before the sobbing child and pulled her into her arms. "Shhhh ... hush, now. I promise you that they won't harm you again."
Quistis looked up into her teacher's face and saw someone wise and caring ... something she had only seen one other place. "Can I call you matron when no one else is around? You remind me so much of her... PLEASE?"
Setsuna smiled gently as she wiped Quistis' eyes. "Of course you can. One of these days, I'd like to know about her." She chuckled as the girl hugged her before running off.
The years passed slowly. Eventually, Quistis stopped calling Setsuna 'Matron' and started to ask all sorts of questions about how she could become a teacher. Setsuna naturally offered to eat lunch and dinner with her and gave her pointers. On one such occasion, she smiled as the one that glowed with Saturn's energy argued with the school cook to give him some hot dogs.
Of course she was saddened that her first students stopped popping in ... but she knew they were forgetting her, and she thought it was for the best. She took a year off. When she returned ... no one except for Cid knew who she was. She felt the worst for Squall ... she wanted to talk to him and tell him she knew just what it felt like to be all alone with a burden. She resumed her teaching, feeling pride when Quistis joined the staff.
*-Several Years Later-*
Rinoa loved the view from the observation deck on the second floor ... despite being adrift for several days, she felt peaceful ... content ... and she smiled at the fact that Squall was forced to take it easy a little.
"Pretty view ... isn't it?" Setsuna was pulled towards the girl, and blinked at the aura that surrounded her. 'So ... YOU'RE the last piece to the puzzle. No wonder Squall was drawn to you.'
Rinoa smiled at the mysterious woman who, as Dr. Kadowaki put it, had been there forever. "You're instructor Meiou, right? You honestly don't look much older than Irvine, but I hear you've been here since Garden was founded." She shifted under the woman's intense gaze. "Ummm ... did you teach Squall?"
Setsuna let out a deep chuckle at the girl's discomfort. "Squall ... yes I did. He was one of my first students. The poor boy has known no other home. There were times I wished he were the type I could cuddle. But there was an odd aloofness to him ... even back then."
Rinoa frowned a little. "Doesn't he have a family somewhere?"
"I heard that he has a father somewhere, but I don't think the man knows of him. Who would leave their child in a loveless environment?" Setsuna frowned a little. "I want you to do something for me." Rinoa tilted her head. "What is that?" She forced herself not to take a step back as intense garnet-colored eyes bore into her. 'It's almost as if she's seen the beginning of time ... her eyes are so old!'
"Make him smile ... show him what it is to be young. The boy is only 17 years old! He shouldn't be dealing with all of this. No child should."
Rinoa gasped in surprise. "I thought Squall was older! When was he born?"
"The twenty third of August." When she heard a distressed sound from Rinoa, she frowned a little. "What's wrong?"
"I'm a couple of months ... OLDER ... than he is." Rinoa felt a great sorrow for Squall. No wonder he resented her a little. She acted like a spoiled little rich girl most of the time, and he had known nothing of family. Was it any wonder he was so cold and distant? She glanced over as the woman beside her placed a hand on her shoulder. "I'll do what I can." With that, she turned and ran into the Garden.
Setsuna smiled. 'Now all I can do is stand back and observe.' She stepped back into the void that was her post and stood at the time gate as she watched the events unfold.
Pluto gazed intently as the battle concluded ... 'I owe them a token of gratitude. I also owe them an apology. She would never have gotten loose had I been present at the Gate at all times.' She soon saw her opening and took it.
"SQUALL? SQUALL, WHERE ARE YOU?" Rinoa continued running in the timeless place. There was nothing anywhere within her line of sight. She yelped as she bumped into a shadowed figure. "Squall?" Then her lips parted at the strange woman who took form when the mist dissipated. She looked ... familiar. "Instructor Meiou?"
Pluto smiled gently and pointed her staff. "He's that way. Please hurry! The winds of time have a way of draining unwelcome visitors. When you find him, I'll get you both out of here." She watched as the girl walked away. "Remember your promise to me ..." She didn't have to wait long. Rinoa's cry of anguish was her signal. 'Please ... don't take him ... not now!' She clutched her hands together and begged her Guardian not to take the boy's soul. 'I have never asked you for anything before. Please ...' She felt, in her mind, a sigh of resignation. 'Thank you.' Then she sent them out of the void. "It is time, my sister soldiers!"
Squall groaned before opening his eyes. The worst of his injuries had been healed, but he was still stiff and sore all over. He debated staying in bed, then simply pushed himself into a sitting position. A wave of dizziness caused him to lean forward and rest his head in his hand. Someone knocked on the door and he looked up. "Come in." He tried to smile when Rinoa walked in, but he ended up wincing instead.
"You pushed yourself too much last night, didn't you?" Rinoa kept a slight chiding tone in her voice despite her concern. "You could have skipped the party, Squall. Selphie would have understood." She walked over and placed a hand on his forehead. "You feel a little warm. You really should take it easy today. If anyone has earned a day off, you have." She fluffed his pillow a little before helping him lie back. "How are you feeling?"
Squall covered his eyes with his arm. "Trust me ... you don't wanna know. It feels like the room is spinning ... it's almost as if someone has cast Sleep on me, but it won't work properly." He winced as his stomach lurched. "I'm glad I haven't eaten anything today."
Rinoa frowned in concern. "I'll go see Dr. Kadowaki. Maybe she'll be able to prescribe something for you." She caressed his face and smiled a little as some tension left his expression. "Just relax. I'll be back as soon as I can." She turned and walked swiftly out of the room.
Squall curled up on his side in an attempt to alleviate the pain and nausea he was feeling. He squeezed his eyes closed and bit his lip to keep from whimpering. He fought off total darkness for as long as he could, but he was so tired ... and the darkness brought relief with it.
Rinoa watched worriedly as Dr. Kadowaki examined an unconscious Squall. They'd found him curled into a tight ball in his room. His high fever was what had caused the elderly doctor to bring him into the Infirmary and place him in the seldom used I.C.U.. She ran to the door as Dr. Kadowaki left the Unit. "How is he? What happened? Will he be all right?"
"Calm down. The poor boy is exhausted and his systems aren't up to fighting the fever he has, so his body went into a self-defense of sorts. I'll keep him here for a while, but he should be fine with some rest. I've put some sleep powder into his I.V. so he'll be out of it for a while. Just stay calm." She patted Rinoa on the shoulder. "You did the right thing by coming to me as soon as you saw he wasn't feeling well. That boy was always so stubborn."
The sound of the door sliding open alerted Rinoa to Selphie and Quistis entering. Before she knew it, her friends were bombarding her with concerned questions. The doctor came to her rescue. "Calm down you two. Squall will be just fine. All he needs is some decent rest for a change. He's always pushed himself too hard. He'll be up and about giving everyone the cold shoulder as always in a few days. Just leave him be for today and tomorrow." She chuckled as the three of them reluctantly left the Infirmary. 'Amazing how so many people have gathered around him. It's good to see that. Maybe he'll come out of his shell now.'
"Oh no ... not HERE!" Squall looked around at the emptiness with a heavy heart.
"Be calm ... you're here for a purpose."
Squall looked over his shoulder then spun around. There ... in the middle of the vast emptiness ... was a door. He walked towards it and stopped short of an oddly familiar figure. "I know you from somewhere, don't I?"
Sailor Pluto smiled gently. "I brought you here ... Your body needs the rest, and you need answers to questions you never knew you wanted to ask." She tapped her staff gently on the ground. "As to who I am ... you knew me when you were a child as Instructor Meiou. Do you remember your first history lesson, Squall? The first one I taught?"
Squall frowned. "The one about the time called the Silver Millenium? With the Sailor Senshi?" He nodded. "Barely."
Sailor Pluto nodded solemnly. "This is my post. I owe you an apology, Squall. Had I remained here, at the Time Gate, Ultimecia would never have broken free of her own time. You went through something that you really weren't ready for and you were nearly lost because of it." She took a breath. "The story I told you was true. I, myself, am a Sailor Senshi. I am the Senshi of time ... Sailor Pluto."
Squall pursed his lips. "Why tell me?" He blinked as the solemn woman smiled brightly.
"Because ... after generations of waiting, it is time for the Senshi to reawaken. It is time for Crystal Tokyo to emerge. Lastly ... it is time for our numbers to be complete!" She felt like laughing for the first time in eons. "After so very long ... Sailor Earth will finally join us as she was meant to so long ago. And this time ... Hyne will not be able to interfere."
Squall frowned in thought. "I don't understand. What do I have to do with all of this?"
Pluto shook her head. "Nine are needed to awaken the nine sleepers. A tenth is to act as your focus as I shall act as theirs." She placed her index finger on his forehead. "You, Squall, are one of the nine. It is why I have stayed close by for so long. Your aura is strangely strong ... possibly your soul is of a member of the Royal Lunar family. You have not yet awakened to your true self ... which is why this timeless place was rejecting you." She spun around. "The moon has always been the center of attention. The Lunar house was always the lead." She turned her garnet eyes back to him. "The others always surround the moon. It is how it was with our Princess ... it is how it was with you." She drew a circle at his feet and nine other circles around him. The circle he stood in glowed with a crescent moon. "You know nine people ... speak their names to call them here. This place is outside of time."
Squall closed his eyes as a feeling of peace washed over him. He felt a warmth from inside soothing him and healing emotional and physical scars. He gazed at Pluto in awe.
"That's it. Don't fight who you are. Now I know you." Pluto smiled warmly. "The leader of the Knights of Selene ... The order of the Rose." Pluto nodded. "Call the others ... awaken them."
The first name came to Squall's lips with ease. "Rinoa..." He trembled slightly as he felt the call reach her. Before he could so much as blink, she was standing there.
"What?" Rinoa blinked as she looked at Squall. 'White suits him so much better than black does. And he looks even cuter without that scar on his face.' Something surged within her and she clenched her fists. A hand on her shoulder caused her to jump.
Sailor Pluto understood the girl's fear. They had all felt it at one time. "Do not fight yourself, child. Fear is Hyne's friend ... and He uses it to His utmost advantage. Be calm ... and awaken to your true self."
Rinoa nodded and closed her eyes. When the surge came again, she allowed it to happen. Glimpses of a time long ago flitted through her mind and she saw what should have been and what never was. She opened her eyes and felt sorrow for someone she should have known, but didn't. She looked down and gasped slightly. She was wearing a shimmering silver gown that fell gracefully to her ankles. "What is this?" She swallowed her fear, then felt it melt when she saw the look in Squall's eyes.
Squall called forth the rest of the group and Ellone ... who frowned at Pluto. Then he had to stop at the last three. "I don't understand."
Pluto shook her head in disappointment. "Uranus, Mars and Jupiter. Wind, Fire and Lightning. Don't close your mind." When she saw the shocked looks she frowned. "Never forget that Endymion himself was briefly taken by Hyne and very nearly killed Serenity. Yet he was not banished from their midst."
Squall nodded. Seifer had been seduced with an offer of something he had yearned for. Something he had wanted so desperately that he was willing to do anything to acheive it. He called Seifer and his posse.
Pluto chuckled as she approached the slowly angering Seifer. 'Mars was always full of a bunch of hot heads.' She held her hand up to calm Seifer's frazzled nerves. "Be calm. Do you remember me?"
Seifer narrowed his eyes and focused on the exotic looking woman in front of him. After a moment, he nodded. "Instructor Meiou." He relaxed a little. She was one of the few poeple who knew of his dream.
Sailor Pluto smiled warmly as he calmed. "I owe you an apology. You misunderstood my first lesson, and were seduced all too easily because of it." When he blinked in surprise, she nodded and continued. "Calm your anger ... become who you were meant to be. You remember what you, as an impulsive little boy, said to me? You told me long ago that you would become a knight and defend a princess. Remember?"
"So THAT'S why..." Rinoa mused with a small smile. She saw Squall's curious look. "Seifer's the one who gave me that title the Forest Owls called me."
Seifer flushed a little. "Yeah ... what about it?"
"Awaken to your true self. It was never your destiny to follow Hyne, but when you were offered your dream ... you saw only what you wanted to see." She smiled as he nodded in understanding. She was startled by the tall, tan form of Raijin whooping.
"WOAH! This is COOL, Ya know?" He was dressed in armor similar to the other men with a forest green cape. He turned to the scowling Fuujin. "You really ought try it, Fuujin! Ya might look cool, ya know?"
Pluto had to smile. The houses of Mars and Uranus were always the most stubborn ones. "You both have nothing to lose."
Fuujin scowled, but took a deep breath and closed her eye. She felt a breeze that came from nowhere and allowed it to surround her and saturate her with the energy it bore. She felt something change that she couldn't quite place her finger on.
Seifer felt his lips part in awe as the tomboyish exterior melted away. And his mouth dropped open at the most drastic change on her ... the eyepatch was gone and her eye was there as if she had never lost it in the first place. "Oh ... wow."
Fuujin was almost afraid, not willing to believe what she had felt. She brought her hand up to feel her face, and let out a mew of surprise when she felt her closed eyes ... two of them. She covered one as she opened them. She didn't even notice everyone as she slowly uncovered her other eye and stared at her hand. Her lower lip trembled and she swallowed to prevent the tears from flowing. "This isn't possible! It's just a dream!" Although, deep down, she hoped it wasn't.
"Yah ..." Raijin sighed. "How do we know this ain't some dream we're havin', ya know?"
Pluto chuckled. "When you all awaken ... you will have proof that you will not be able to deny." She tilted her head. "Will you take your place, Seifer, in the ranks of the Knights of Selene?" Her lip quirked a little. "You won't be a great leader, but your duty will be to protect Princess Serenity as well as the Princess of Mars, your home planet."
Seifer looked unsure of himself. He knew Fuujin and Raijin wouldn't mind, but what about the others? "If they'll allow me." He didn't notice them blink in surprise.
"It's up to the consensus, then? Very well ... everyone?" Pluto gazed at the group.
Quistis was the first to speak up. "Mercury accepts the Representative of Mars as a Knight of Selene." She, like Selphie, Fuujin and Ellone, was dressed in a simple tunic with leggings and an armored chest plate. Her tunic was Mercury's sapphire blue. Her leggings were a lighter, robin's egg, blue.
Zell sighed. "I don't know why, but Saturn recognizes the Representative of Mars as a Knight of Selene. Purple..." That got a chuckle from the others. He had been complaining of the offical color of Saturn since he first saw the cape.
Raijin nodded. "Well ... ya know ... I'm with them, ya know."
One by one, they told Seifer that - yes - he was welcome to join them if he wished to. When it got down to Squall, Seifer squared his shoulders ... knowing somehow that his rival's word held more weight than anyone else's. He braced himself for the rejection.
Squall studied Seifer. He'd caused so much grief to them all, but he'd had HIS share of grief as well. Squall knew what it was like to grow up feeling unwanted and unloved. He turned to Pluto, who was watching him with those all-too-wise eyes. "The Lunar House accepts the Representative of Mars as a Knight of Selene." He quirked a smile at Seifer. "Truce? Goddess knows I'd rather have you as an ally than a rival."
Seifer frowned a little, expecting it to be a joke. "You're serious?"
Squall chuckled. "Yeah. You're a really good fighter, but way too impulsive."
Pluto's smile returned. "It is unanimous, Seifer."
Seifer nodded and forced himself to relax. He felt the flames surround him, and felt them burn away his anger and hatred. He felt them purify and heal wounds he had never known existed. For the first time in his life, he felt ... whole ... complete as if he had KNOWN something was missing. In the center of the flames, he caught a brief glimpse of a girl with long ebony hair. In a way, she reminded him of Rinoa. Long, dark hair ... he knew this girl. When the flames passed, he blinked at Pluto. "I hate to sound like Squall, but who WAS that girl?"
"The Princess you were always meant to protect. Hyne knew it and did everything to prevent you from fulfilling your destiny." She waved her staff, and images appeared in a ring outside of the one the group was standing in. "These are the Sailor Senshi, Princess Serenity and Prince Endymion." She walked over to Rinoa and handed her something. "This was always meant to be yours. Take it ... and join the ranks of the Sailor Senshi." She nodded as Rinoa gasped. "You were never meant to be a Sorceress of Hyne, yet He tried to convince you otherwise."
Rinoa felt a surge of relief. Despite the calm, she'd had an anxiety that Squall would eventually be ordered to kill her. She knew he deserved much better than a life on the run. She smiled at Pluto. "What must I do?"
"Simply call out your transformation spell. The wand is the focus. Your absence is why Sailor Moon had to be created. When you transform, Sailor Moon will cease to be, and Princess Serenity will finally be free." Pluto stepped back. "Call out 'Earth Power Make Up' and awaken your brother." She chuckled at the surprised sounds. "Only a member of a royal house may join the Sailor Senshi. Rinoa's soul was flung far into the future, and the body she was to have been born in was stillborn."
Rinoa nodded. "The same thing happened with my mother ... she'd tried to have a baby, but miscarried in the third month." She took a deep breath and cried out her transformation spell. She felt the power surge again ... and she welcomed it. When the transformation was complete, she squealed with delight as she spun around and studied the Uniform. Her skirt was blue with bright red bows and boots. A green jewel sat in the center of the front bow.
Pluto walked over with tears in her eyes. "At last ... at last we are complete..." She tapped her staff to the ground. "The Senshi of Pluto welcomes the Senshi of Earth. Sailor Earth ... do you swear to protect Princess Serenity from all danger, and to use your powers only for good?"
Rinoa, now Sailor Earth, nodded. "I swear it." She gasped as a flash blinded her momentarily. "What was that?"
Pluto's smile never left her face. "That ... was your brother awakening. The rest of you must find talismans to awaken the senshi. Only when all are gathered at the Sorceress Monument will we be able to awaken Serenity." She tapped her staff on the ground. "Awaken, Knights of Selene, and meet Endymion ... of the House of Earth."
Before Squall could object, a bright light surrounded him. He was vaguely aware of a sudden throbbing in his head, but what forced him to open his eyes was a shocked gasp that came from who he knew was Dr. Kadowai. He gazed up at her shocked expression. "What? What's wrong?"
"Squall ... the scar on your face is ... GONE! It's like it was never there in the first place! And you shouldn't be awake already ... you still have quite a fever." She bustled about the small room and poured something into his I.V. "You rest."
Squall smiled a little. "Thanks." Then he let sleep claim him again.
Rinoa yawned and stretched. 'What a dream...' She felt a small weight hit her hip and she looked down to see what it was. She blinked as she picked up the small transformation wand. "It wasn't a dream?"
"Not very likely."
Rinoa let out a little yelp as a strange man gazed at her with deep blue eyes. "How...?" She calmed a little when his intense scrutiny of her eased into something more friendly.
"I awakened when you transformed. By transforming, you called me to your side."
Rinoa smiled a little, still feeling awkward. "Who are you?"
"Allow me to introduce myself. I am Endymion ... Prince of Elysion and royal consort to Princess Serenity. And ... unless Pluto was mistaken, Sailor Earth," he returned her smile almost tenderly. "I am your brother."
Dr. Kadowaki watched Squall as his face gave away the agony he was in. 'With all the Hi-Potions and Elixers I've been putting into his I.V., he shouldn't still be in pain ... and he should NOT still have that fever.' She took his temperature again and sighed as she shook her head. He murmurred something and she had to lean forward to hear what he was saying.
"Wren ... Bree ... no..."
She frowned deeply. 'Poor boy...' She shook her head and left the I.C.U.
"What's wrong?" Rinoa walked forward with Endymion not too far behind. She did NOT like the look on the doctor's face.
"His fever hasn't come down. If anything, it's gone up ... and he's delerious." She was worried. "Rinoa ... maybe you can do something?"
"I'll do what I can." She walked into the room and took one of Squall's limp hands. She squeezed it before kissing his palm. "Come on, Squall ... fight this! You're stronger than this!" She grabbed his shoulders as his body was wracked with spasms. His mouth opened in a silent scream, and Rinoa bit back her tears as she was forced to watch his pain. She kissed his forehead as he collapsed onto the bed with a tired whimper. "Please ... I know it hurts, but you have to keep fighting."
"Saturn would be able to help." Endymion had felt, if not heard, the scream that had come from the boy who had been his Commander in a previous life. The Knights of Selene had been bonded in much the same way as the Sailor Senshi had been. "Although her powers could destroy an entire galaxy, she can also heal."
Rinoa bit her lip. "We don't even know how to begin to search for the talismans. Where would we look? How would we know them? And once found ... what would we do?" She absently stroked Squall's fevered cheek in an effort to soothe him.
Endymion nodded solemnly. "Fire, Love, Ice, Water, Wind, Death and Lightning. Places that match those elements are where you would find the talismans. Saturn would be in a place that has the aura of death."
Rinoa frowned in thought, but was distracted as Squall suffered another attack of spasms.
'Where ...?' Squall looked around. The place was alien, yet familiar to him. An explosion nearby caused him to snap into character. "Get someone on those fires! Warn the people at the party ... MOVE!"
A chorus of affirmatives followed.
"Quill ... what about Serenity and Imbrium?"
Squall turned to the speaker. A young man barely older than himself. "You find Serenity and protect her. I'll look for Bree! She's probably still upset about that argument they had earlier." As the other ran off, Squall stopped him. "Endymion! You be careful, too! Wren would be really upset if anything happened to you, and no one makes my sister cry but me."
'What...? Who is Imbrium? This doesn't look like anything I've ever seen before.' Squall paused to look out a window and almost froze. He could see Earth hanging in the star dotted sky like a large speckled sapphire. He would have stopped, but his body wouldn't listen to him as he ran through corridors. "Bree? Bree!"
"No need to shout." A woman who reminded him of Adel approached holding the wrist of a girl with long brown hair. "The lovely little teardrop is right here."
"Beryl ... let her go this second!" Squall drew the unfamiliar sword before he could think twice.
The woman, Beryl, laughed shrilly. It made Squall's stomach churn as an image of Adel using Rinoa as a shield flashed through his mind. The girl, whom he assumed was Imbrium, made no effort to struggle. Her eyes were empty of thought and feeling. He'd seen that look before on Rinoa's face. 'Sorceress...' was the thought, but his mouth said something else. "Witch! What do you want with her?"
"My master will have this galaxy! This girl will assure that the prophecy will not be fulfilled, just as Sailor Earth's death has! The more safeguards, the better! Now if you'll excuse me, I have a little dove to handle." She grabbed the girl. "But first ... I have to put the protectors of the planets into chaos!"
Squall had no time to react as something shot through him. The last thing he heard was the shrill laughter of the woman.
"NO!!!!!" Squall sat upright so suddenly that he didn't even feel it for five seconds before he realized that Rinoa was trying to get him to lie back down.
"Shhhh ... easy, Squall. Take it easy!" Rinoa winced as he all but collapsed onto the bed. "You have to conserve your strength so you can fight this horrible fever you have."
Squall noticed the I.C.U.'s other visitor and narrowed his eyes. Before he succumbed to the exhaustion, he chuckled. "Been a long time, Dimwit!"
Rinoa frowned in puzzlement as Endymion blinked before actually laughing. "What?"
Endymion grinned in bemusement. "Too long, you Lunatic. It's no wonder Queen Serenity omitted you from everyone's memories. I know someone who would have been very sad to know that you weren't born with the rest of us."
Squall let out a tired laugh. "Sorceresses always seem to use the same Limit Break, don't they? If they can't kill something in fair play, they pierce it with a HUGE impaling object." He clenched his teeth as if just the memory was enough to hurt him.
Rinoa winced as she remembered how Squall's first battle against a Sorceress had ended. "Oh, Squall ... don't think about it!" She still remembered the look of pure agony on his face before he fell off of Edea's float. There were times she had nightmares about what he'd had to deal with in his life and she'd run to his dorm room just to make sure he was all right. She was surprised when Endymion clasped Squall's shoulder in a gesture of understanding.
"So THAT'S how it ended for you. Consider yourself lucky that Beryl didn't take it into her head to choose you as her consort." He grimaced at the memories he had glimpses of only in his worst dreams.
Rinoa covered her mouth in an effort to plug in her sorrow at the pain the two young men had gone through. "Squall ... just go back to sleep. Forget about it, please." She pressed her head against his shoulder. "It hurts me to see you in so much pain."
Squall gave her a languid smiled. "All right, Rinoa ... I AM pretty tired." He closed his eyes. "I just wish it weren't so hot..."
"I know. Don't worry about that, now. Just get better. I'll get a cloth to cool you down, if you want." Rinoa smiled at him a little as he nodded. "I'm going to get some cold water and a cloth. I'll be right back."
Endymion nodded and sat beside Squall.
"What is your name? I'm sure that, when you were reborn, your parents didn't name you Endymion."
"I think my name is Mamoru. I've never been sure since I lost my memory in the car crash that killed my parents. I've taken the doctors' word for it, though." He shrugged. "Endymion seems better right now." He was taken aback by the understanding in Squall's fever glazed eyes.
"I'm sorry about your parents. It sucks not having anyone."
Rinoa paused by the door, deciding to listen in. She had heard Squall's last remark, and wondered about it.
Endymion nodded. "Yes it does. I grew up in an orphanage."
"People passing you by ... only to adopt the next kid." Squall squeezed his eyes shut at the rememberance.
Endymion leaned forward with a frown. "Wanting someone to accept you, and going deeper into your own world every time you're rejected."
"Watching as your friends ... one by one ... leave you behind." Somehow, telling someone who knew exactly what it was like acted like a domino effect. He opened his eyes again and looked into Endymion's eyes. "I don't ever want to go through that again. I couldn't bear it again."
Rinoa had walked quietly into the room and put the bowl down before she leaned over to hug Squall, who was too weak to fight the tears. "It's all right. Shhhh ..." She bit her lip as soft, heartbroken sobs escaped him. "It's all right, Squall ... I've got you. I'm here for you and I won't let you be alone ever again." She pressed her lips to his temple then continued to whisper soothing words to him. She wondered why anyone would pass him by.
"He withdrew to escape the pain. Causing him to seem more sullen." Endymion sighed, wishing he wasn't speaking from experience. "You were never an orphan. That, in itself, is a rejection of sorts. You feel like that there must be something wrong with YOU. It doesn't help when people pass you by, sometimes smiling, only to choose someone else. It is never anything personal to the people, but to little kids ... when you're a kid..." He shook his head, unable to put into words the pain and lonliness. "Try and imagine all of your friends gone. Then have any new friends you make being taken into a new circle and then being ignored. You have no place to go ... no one to confide in. You're stuck all alone and slowly becoming bitter and resentful. In a word ... it hurts."
"I ... don't think I could live like that. I couldn't live without someone being there for me. I'd need someone to catch me when I fall."
"That's what everyone wants. Only thing is, not everyone gets it. I didn't ... HE didn't. We fell countless times. After a while, you put the pain into the back of your mind and just block everything and everyone else out. Sooner or later, you're too scared of being hurt to let anyone in. Defenses go up ... and you wait for every opportunity to see signs of people leaving you. You're so worried about being hurt that you no longer care what it looks like to others. All that matters is that you don't let anyone else in. All that matters is keeping that fortess up. Because ... Goddess forbid ... you let one brick fall and you get hurt again in that one vulnerable moment. You'd never recover from that."
Rinoa's bottom lip trembled as she thought back not too long. The memory of Squall lying lifeless in the middle of nowhere was brought to her forcefully. 'He ... WANTED ... to die!' She sniffled and gathered Squall closer to her.
"Hey..." Endymion stood up and rubbed Rinoa's back. "You found him at the crucial moment, right? That brief moment when either the wall or the spirit was broken. You found him and brought him back to his friends. There are cracks now in that wall. Soon it will crumble to nothing." Then he smiled. "You'll like Serenity. She was there for my one moment when I didn't even want her there." His eyes drifted as he chuckled. "I had just bared my soul to her ... expecting her to laugh in that way of hers. She was only fourteen at the time. Still ... there was the briefest moments that I spotted. A rare moment of maturity in which she told me that she once thought I was the worst person in the world." He laughed as he remembered the shy look she had given him. "Then she told me, and I'm almost quoting, that she then thought of me as the SECOND worst person in the world."
Rinoa had to laugh ... remembering how she had treated Squall in much of the same way when she first met him. "Oh I needed that!"
"Hey ... is this a private party, or can I crash it?" Standing in the open I.C.U. doorway, looking only slightly self-assured, was Seifer. "What happened to HIM?"
Rinoa eased Squall onto the bed. "He's very sick. Only problem is that Zell is in Deling getting some new techniques from a Tae Kwan Do Grand Master that I mentioned to him. And without him, we can't wake Saturn up. Not that I know how we would go about that and..." She blinked as a girl with long raven black hair stepped in. "Who...?"
Endymion beamed as he stood up. "Rei-chan!" He took two steps and gave her a quick hug. "Introductions must be made. Sailor Mars ... meet Rinoa, Sailor Earth."
Before anyone else could say anything, Rei hugged Rinoa. "The ... the Senshi of Mars welcomes the Senshi of Earth. It's about time we..." She blinked and looked around then whipped out a strip of paper and closed her eyes. "Rin ... Hyou ... Tou ... Sha ... Kai ... Jin ... Retsu ... Zai ... Zen!" Then she opened her eyes and slapped the paper against Squall's chest. "EVIL SPIRITS BEGONE!!!!" She then went into her meditation position and started chanting as Squall let out a scream. She kept chanting even after he had gone limp.
Rinoa gasped. "SQUALL!!!" She rushed to him and pressed a cool cloth against his skin. "Squall?" She felt a surge of relief as he moaned softly.
Rei stopped chanting. "We need to move the bed into the center of the room. I'll draw a circle of protection that he needs to stay within until he's strong enough to fight it on his own. Whoever's doing this doesn't believe in fighting fair. He was too weakened by battle to fight this off."
As Rei started on the circle, Rinoa turned on Seifer. "How'd you do it?"
Seifer sighed in mock resignation. Truth be told, he was glad to be back in the only home he could remember. "It's a long story." Then he took a deep breath and started to relate the events that led up to Sailor Mars' awakening.
A young woman stood in the darkness and narrowed her eyes in annoyance. She turned as a cold, uncaring voice addressed her.
"Jenna ... didn't I tell you to kill Leonhart off? Why didn't you follow the simplest instruction I have ever given you? Don't you realize that if the Senshi band together with their knights that I will have to leave? Then where would you be?"
Jenna nonchalantly pushed some hair away from her face. "It was more fun making him squirm. I had no idea that the knight of Mars would awaken his princess so soon." She snorted. "Some knight! He switches sides so easily! As for the senshi themselves, I fought them into hiding once before. What's one extra senshi against the power I possess when they don't even have the Ginzuishou?" She grimaced as a blast of cold air brushed against her cheek in a mockery of a caress.
"My dear child ... do not let yourself become overconfident when fighting the Senshi. That's what your mother did!"
Jenna didn't let out the cry that fought to escape as the cold air blasted her back against the hard stone of the cave. "My mother was a FOOL to let lust blind her! She would have been better off letting her general kill Endymion."
"And you make the same mistake as she did! You would be better off just killing Leonhart NOW ... before he recovers his strength."
The caress was back, but this time the shadows around her took a more solid form. She fought the whimper of terror as black hands wove through her hair. 'FIGHT IT! RUN! DON'T STAY!' Voices flitted through her mind as she looked up at her master. She found her hair pulled so she had to look up into that all-consuming blackness.
"Promise me, my little one, that you will kill Leonhart before the next full moon. You're starved for energy ... I can see it in your eyes and your stance. Promise me, and I will feed you." There was a deep, humorless chuckle. "Yes ... you're starting to feel the need. Promise me this instant."
Jenna's eyes watered. In that instant, she hated herself as much as she hated her master. She was a weak, pathetic creature. "I promise, my Lord. Leonhart will breathe no more by the next full moon." This time, the cry could not be stopped as cold lips captured hers and she basked in the energy pouring into her. She wondered why she had even wanted to toy with the pathetic mortal that Leonhart was. "I will kill him for you, my Lord, and let you drink of his blood."
The figure chuckled. "Not so swiftly, little one. Let them think they've chased you off. Wait until he thinks he is strong enough to fight against you. Then kill him, throw the rest into chaos and kill the rest of the knights and their respective Senshi. Only ... save Endymion for last! I want him to see the destruction of his precious princess before I kill him." He pushed the strap of her dress off her shoulder. The sound of evil laughter echoed through the night.
Rinoa sat beside Squall, running her fingers through his hair as she watched him sleep. After the Anti-evil ward had been placed onto him, the Hi-Potions and Elixers started to take effect. Now she was seated within a circle that was meant to protect Squall from another attack. Just the knowledge that his fever was breaking made her smile. She turned her attention to the I.C.U.'s other occupant. Someone she would never have thought she'd be so glad to see. "You promised me an explanation. How did you do it? The others will need to know how you woke Sailor Mars."
Seifer, who had been looking everywhere but at the pair of them, suddenly jumped a little and shrugged. "I wish I knew." When he saw the look in Rinoa's eyes, he decided to continue.
----- Seifer sighed as he looked at the two people he had relied on more than anyone else. "So ... we part here?" He looked around the Balamb train station ... forcing himself not to start bawling like a baby. What would he do without them? On the other hand ... he knew they had to part. It would be quicker that way. Besides ... it wasn't just about "The Posse" anymore. They were no longer just the Disciplinary Committee. They were members of the Knights of Selene in the Order of the Rose. Sworn to find and defend the princesses of their respective planets. He had felt drawn to Balamb while his friends had felt similarly drawn to other places.
Raijin ws the one to break the strained silence. "Hey ... it's not like we're never gonna see each other, ya know! We'll be back together and disciplining bad guys before we know it, ya know!"
Fuujin smiled a little sadly. She looked amazingly different in her white blouse and deep blue knee-length skirt. "It's not that, Raijin. We've been a team ... a posse ... a family..." She blinked her eyes to fortify them against her tears. "...For so long now. I ... I'll miss you guys. Even if we are only going to be apart for a few days."
Seifer clenched his teeth. 'CAN'T let them leave like this!' He opened his eyes and saw two faces that mirrored his expression. The three of them came together in a group hug with a lot of wishes for good luck. Fuujin even gave Raijin a very light kick in the shin for old times sake.
"You take care of yourself. Don't let any sorceresses brainwash you while I'm not here to watch you." Fuujin was trying hard to pretend that the idea of being on her own didn't tear her to pieces.
"ALL ABOARD FOR TIMBER! THE TRAIN FOR TIMBER IS DEPARTING IN THREE MINUTES!"
Seifer released Fuujin and watched as she walked up the steps to the train. "Fuujin ..." He walked over to her and took off his trenchcoat before offering it to her. "Wear it ... to remember me."
Fuujin smiled through her tears. "As if I could ever forget." Before she could talk herself out of it, she bent forward to kiss Seifer. "To remember ME by." Then she turned and ran into the train to keep herself from ignoring the pull. 'It's only for a little while. When he finds the princess of Mars, he'll be heading straight for Balamb Garden. Squall isn't likely to let him get into any trouble.' As soon as she was in the cabin she was going to share with Raijin, she looked back at Seifer. 'He looks so ... LOST!' She threw herself onto the bottom bunk.
Raijin shifted uncomfortably as Fuujin's muffled sobs reached his ears. He walked over and patted her on the back awkwardly. "Hey ... don't cry. We'll see him again, ya know." He blinked as Fuujin threw her arms around him and started to cry even harder as the train pulled away from the station.
Seifer watched until the train was out of sight before turning to leave the station. The ocean breeze hit his face and he smiled into it.
Seifer gazed at Balamb Garden, but opted to relieve some coiled up tension. Despite the proof that what had happened during the night had not been a dream, he was still nervous about facing the group. So he stepped off the path and headed for the cave where he had fulfilled his prerequisite. He still had his GF ... which he had never used because he used Squall's during the Field Exam and had depended on sorceresses since that time. He drew Hyperion and stepped into the cave.
It was just as he remembered it. The lava made the cave extremely hot. The heat distorted angles and caused his eyes to smart. He walked further in, looking all around him. For some odd reason, the monsters of the cave were staying out of sight. There were no Buels, Red Bats, or Bombs anywhere. He was suddenly glad that he HAD given Fuujin his trenchcoat. It was almost beyond his tolerance, and the coat would have made it impossible. Something off to the side caught his eye. He walked down the long path opposite of the draw point that ended at the sea of lava. Something on the ground caught the dull red light. He knelt down to pick it up and dusted it off a little.
Then the tiny crystal suddenly became much too hot to hold. Seifer dropped it and jumped back out of pure instinct. He held Hyperion at the ready position as a flash of light blinded him.
"You don't have to worry about me. I won't attack you."
Seifer gasped and almost dropped his gunblade. "Who...?" Then he remembered the girl in the flames. "Sailor Mars?"
"My friends call me Rei, but yes." She frowned a little. "Who are you?"
"Seifer Almasy, princess. I am the Knight sworn to protect you." Then he sighed. "Though I hardly think I'm worthy of it."
Rei nodded. "One ... if you weren't worthy, you couldn't have been able to claim you were what you said you are. Two ... please don't call me princess. Rei will be fine." She stepped forward and paused in front of him.
Seifer, not knowing what else to do, bended his knee and knelt in front of her. "I don't know what I should say, but I promise to protect you and Serenity from all harm even if it means the cost of my life."
Rei blushed a little. "I accept you as my knight and protector." She placed her left index finger in the center of Seifer's forehead and felt a surge of giddiness as the vow was accepted by Mars. "Rise, Sir Seifer of Mars." She glanced around. "Well now what?"
"...That's when we came to Balamb Garden. To tell the truth, I was a LITTLE relieved that Squall wasn't awake. I wasn't sure how he'd react to seeing me now that there are no barriers." Seifer sighed a little then shrugged. "I know it doesn't make any difference, but I'm sorry I got involved with the Sorceress in the first place. It's just..." He gazed past Rinoa into the distance. "Ever since I can remember, I've wanted to be special ... I wanted to be important to someone. Squall, here, got all the praise and all the kudos. I was second to him in everything. Just once ... I wanted to be first in someone's eyes." He snapped his focus back onto her. "I thought I had that, then I knew I came in second place yet again the night of the SeeD inauguration ball. You were dancing with Squall ... and you almost didn't see me."
Rinoa made a face and came to her own defense. "You shouldn't have been skulking in the shadows, then." After a pause, she smiled sadly. "I'm sorry I hurt you like that, Seifer. What we had was an infatuation. We cared for one another much like Laguna Loire cared for my mother, but to call it love was unfair to both of us. I was so hateful towards Squall at first ... and I was just this spoiled little girl to him. I WAS spoiled in my thinking. I thought that all I had to do was hire SeeD." She traced the part of Squall's face that used to be home to the scar Seifer had given him. "I didn't even bother to peek behind the wall to see the lonely person he was. Too angry to let anyone in and too scared to even try."
Seifer grinned. "You two look good together. You need the quiet that Squall can give you. You and I are too much alike in that area."
Rinoa returned the smile for the first time in a long time. She would have agreed, but a pair of arguing voices were approaching the Infirmary.
"I TOLD you we should have taken him in, but you NEVER listen to me!" This voice was feminine, and might have been sweet sounding if it weren't for the presence of anger.
"You know, as well as I do, that we moved around too much. He would never have had a stable environment." The second voice was trying to be calm. The deeper tone suggested a male. "And don't forget what we are!"
Rinoa stood up and moved in front of Squall to protect him. She was taken by surprise when the speakers entered the I.C.U.
The black cat paused to glare at the white one. "You are like all other men! You refuse to say that I am right!"
The white cat sighed. "Women ... oops."
Rinoa glanced at Seifer. "Tell me you see what I see."
Seifer gulped and nodded, but was taken by surprise when the black cat jumped onto the bed. "Hey!"
"LOOK at him, Artemis! He's little more than a baby!"
Rinoa watched as the cat stared at Squall, then she reached out to stroke the sleek animal ... who sounded like she was crying. "Hey..."
Artemis, the white cat, shifted uncomfortably. "Well how was I supposed to know, Luna? He was a cute kid!"
Seifer narrowed his eyes. "I know that voice."
Artemis looked up. "Oh dear ... Luna, I think we'd best go human. I don't think that they're used to the idea of cats talking."
Before either Rinoa or Seifer could react, where two cats had been were now two people. The woman was still sobbing and hugging Rinoa for comfort, and the man was regarding Seifer intensely.
Rei's entrance broke the strain. "LUNA! ARTEMIS!!!" She laughed as she embraced the two of them, and then turned to the two bewildered people. "Rinoa, Seifer ... let me introduce you to Luna and Artemis. They're the advisors to the royal family and are both wells of knowledge if you know how to get the information." She smiled happily unitl she saw Luna's face. "What's up? Has something happened to Usagi?"
Luna shook her head and then sighed. "Rei ... can't you sense it?" At the blank look, Luna sighed with exhasperation and pointed at Squall. "He's Prince Tranquillity ... Princess Serenity's older brother!"
Seifer frowned. "Wait a sec ... Puberty boy is a PRINCE? No way!" He started pacing ... knowing that, even as he denied it, the statement made sense. The way Squall always carried himself gave away some sort of nobility. "You're kidding me, right?"
Luna shook her head. Her long raven black hair moved like a river against her back. "We are not kidding. We would never joke about that."
Rinoa smiled gently at Squall, who was sleeping soundly ... blissfully unaware of the discussion. "So HE'S going to inherit whatever throne?" She felt bad for him. He'd always hated having responsibility.
Luna smiled in amusement. "No, he's not. The Silver Millennium was a Matriarchy. Selene believed the male of the species to be much more violent ... so she decided the only reason a man would come into power would be if the current queen had not given birth to a daughter. And then only until the king took a wife. If he refused to marry, he would be dethroned and the high priestess of the planet became the new queen."
"Does Endymion know?"
Artemis grinned at Rinoa's question. "If he doesn't, I'll be very surprised. Tranquillity was Endymion's best friend during the Silver Millennium. It's understandable that he didn't recognize Serenity ... she was more true to her nature when she was Usagi. She wanted to show Endymion that she could be serious. Tranquillity is another matter. They were as close as brothers would be ... despite the name calling."
Seifer chuckled. "I wonder if Squall hated his name as much as I would have. I mean ... come ON ... Tranquillity? What kind of name is THAT to stick to a guy?"
It was Luna's turn to smile. "He did hate it. His close friends knew better than to call him by his full name. He shortened it to Quill." The she giggled. "You can blame his name on his father, King Lunaris. The man was ... not the brightest person in the universe, but Queen Serenity loved him dearly."
Artemis rolled his eyes. "Come off it, Luna. The man was a nitwit! Princess Serenity got her disposition from him. About the only times she was ever REALLY serious in her studies was when her brother was around." Then he snorted. "Which was VERY rare since he had his hands full with his OWN studies as well as his training with the other knights."
"True ... she idolized him. I remember her tagging along and squealing that she didn't want to be left behind. She was too noisy for Quill, though. He preferred the quiet of the library or the study." Luna shook her head. "Different as day and night. Maybe that's another reason why Serenity attatched herself to Endymion. He was a little like her brother in nature, but no so much as to push her away. She amused him with her antics."
Rinoa smiled briefly at the mental image of a chubby little girl toddling after Squall, then she frowned in confusion. "So what were you two arguing about?"
Luna sighed. "About twelve years ago, we got a message from Pluto that it was time to seek out the Knights ... that they would all be children and that it would be best if we went in human form." She shot Artemis a look. "We found Edea's orphanage shortly after almost all the children were adopted. Only Squall and Seifer were left at that point." She smirked a little as Seifer narrowed his eyes. "You recognize us now, don't you?"
Artemis let out a breath. "The main problem was that we moved around too much. We didn't even qualify to fill out adoption papers. I knew better than to ask in the first place, but once Luna gets an idea into her head ... it's there until she gets her way." He shrugged off the glare he knew he was getting from Luna. "It would have saved her a LOT of heartbreak had she not gotten her hopes up."
Luna snorted. "Well at least I was willing to try."
Artemis gave Seifer a look that said 'see what I mean?' Then he turned to Luna. "Look ... there was no POINT. We needed to move about constantly to keep tabs on everyone until Pluto told us that they were all gathered in one spot. Honestly, Luna ... of the two of us, YOU were always more practical. When did that change? What happened to the kitty cat who liked to boss me around and take up airs because she was the advisor to Princess Serenity?"
"I NEVER took up airs!" Then she blushed at the look from Artemis. "Well ... maybe with Usagi I HAD to. The girl had very little common sense."
"Knock it off! You know you COULD have been more supportive of her in those rare serious moments. But you didn't because you wanted to feel important. It doesn't work that way, Luna." Artemis shook his head. He adored Luna, but there were times when she got on his nerves. He sometimes couldn't believe that he would sire Diana by her. "You put that girl down at any and every opportunity that came up."
"Could you two keep it down? I'm trying to sleep here."
Rinoa let out a delighted gasp. "Squall! You're awake!" She smiled at him as he opened his eyes. "How are you feeling?"
Squall closed his eyes again. "Tired." He let out a breath. "I just wanna sleep right now."
"Then sleep. If anyone deserves a good rest, it's you." She kissed his forehead. "You've been through more in the past few days than many people deal with in a lifetime." She held his hand as his breathing slowed slightly. Then she grinned at Luna with a look that said 'he's so cute when he's asleep.'
"Are you sure about this method, my Lord? What if the SeeD doesn't fall for it?" Jenna was rubbing a bit of gravel on her leg. She bit her lip as she drew blood to prevent from asking the impossible. In order to kill Leonhart, she had to be near him. Since there were representatives from Trabia and Galbadia, there was no way she could pose as a student. She had caught wind of a Seed staying in Deling to monitor and report the fighting. Since the deaths of the President and Sorceress, various gangs had risen up. Now Deling was one power struggle. She winced as she blinked. Part of the problem was that she had to be convincing. As a result, she'd been flung around a little so she could receive some VERY painful bruises including a black eye. She had seen her target, and knew what she had to do.
"Quite sure, little one. One last thing ..."
Jenna blinked in confusion, then cried out as the pain flared when the energy was ripped from her. It overwhelmed her and she crumpled to the floor, sobbing.
"Perfect ... no honest SeeD would be able to resist helping a meek and frightened little thing like yourself. Just remember one thing ... you are MINE! I own you." He grinned as He sent her near a rough group. "Let's see how far they get before her rescuer appears."
Zell chuckled as he walked next to a young woman who was only slightly taller than he was. "So you aged from a baby to your current state in under a year? That HAD to suck!"
Hotaru found herself liking Zell in spite of herself. He had awakened her in the Tomb of the Unknown King quite by accident and had promptly gone on his knees and bowed ... saying the words "I'm not worthy" over and over again. Apparantly, he had no idea that she was actually normal looking despite her reputation. "In a way it did, but I wouldn't trade it for the universe. Seeing the look on Chibi-Usa's face when she saw me made it all worthwhile."
"There's that name again! Who is this...?" His question was cut off at the sound of a girl screaming. "Not AGAIN!" He ran ahead and stopped with a sneer. A group of relatively strong looking thugs were surrounding a girl who'd been very badly beaten up. She had her back against the wall, clutching what remained of her clothes. She looked no older than 14. "Hey!" He went into his fighting stance. "Why don't you pick on someone your own size?" He almost groaned at the overused cliche, but these men were cowards. The girl was obviously not strong enough to fight anyone off. For the first time, he was glad he chose to wear the SeeD uniform. The creeps took one look at him and ran off. Zell took his jacket off and handed it to Hotaru. "I doubt she'll let a man get near her just now."
Hotaru smiled at Zell's thoughtfulness and approached the girl. She felt a pang of sympathy as the girl cringed against the wall. "It's all right. I won't hurt you." She kept her tone soothing and her hands in sight as she approached. She waited patiently as the girl cautiosly took the offered jacket. She almost frowned when she saw something ... familiar ... in the girl's eyes. It was a hunted look. As if her will was not truly her own. She chased it away with a smile. "See? We mean you no harm. What's your name?"
"Jennifer ... Jenna to my friends, not that I have any, but that's beside the point. who are you? Why did you help me? They probably have friends, you know ... they ALWAYS have friends."
"Has this happened before?" Zell hated the look in the girl's eye. She looked like she expected him to slap her. Her hair was an unknown color between brown and black due to it being pulled into a tight braid.
Jenna, weak and tired, went into the well-rehearsed explanation. "Where do you come from? This is Deling. This sort of thing happens every day. If not to me, then some other person who ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time." She sneered. "It's not like I can protect myself. I'm an easy target ... and it's not like I have the gil to leave. Even if I did ... where would I go? I really don't have any skills that will make me money."
Zell frowned. "How do you live now?"
Jenna snorted. "I don't live ... I survive. You'd be amazed what a girl will do to survive." Then she saw the slight disapproval saying that he thought he knew what she meant, and immediately frowned. "Now you're probably thinking that those guys were dissatisfied customers. It's people like you who make me sick! Don't jump to conclusions about what you don't understand." She took the jacket off and dropped it onto the ground. "I may be desperate for money sometimes, but I have more self-respect than to sell myself. Unlike you SeeDs. You have the skills to protect yourselves and the knowledge to do anything you want, and yet you whore yourselves off to the highest bidders." Then she gave him a look filled with contempt. "I don't expect you to understand. You're not like me. YOU'VE probably never had to beg for scraps." She pushed herself off the wall, but didn't get two steps before her weakness made her collapse with a whimper. 'I understand it had to be done, my Lord, but does it have to HURT so much?'
Zell opened his mouth to contradict her, but stopped. She had a point. Anyone in SeeD could do anything they wanted, yet allowed themselves to be hired out for money. She lacked any skill, and she struggled to get through each day ... hanging on to every shred of self-respect she had. Now here he was, making assumptions about her ... when he had no right. He retrieved his jacket and wrapped it around her.
Hotaru watched as Zell picked up the girl. "What do you plan to do?"
"It's not normal procedure, but I'm taking her with us." He frowned a bit. 'Man! She's lighter than SELPHIE is. When was the last time she ate?' Then he headed for the train station.
Hotaru frowned as she followed. "Our first order of business should be to tend to her injuries."
Zell nodded. "I'm contacting Garden. Dr. Kadowaki will want to give her a thorough exam when we reach it, but I have a few Hi-potions that will do the trick on the way to Timber." He sighed. "That's where we'll transfer to Balamb. We should be at Garden by tomorrow evening."
Squall was glad to be sleeping in his own bed again. The cots in the infirmary were all right, but they were way too uncomfortable. As much as he tried to hide the fact, he liked a mattress he could sink into. He was roused by the tones indicating an announcement and frowned as he heard his name. 'Great!' He pushed himself up and winced slightly.
Rinoa was already at his door. She did NOT look happy. "This had better be worth dragging you out of bed." She wrapped her arm around his waist ... more to support him than an act of affection.
Squall sighed as they made the walk to the elevator. "It usually is important, Rinoa ... Cid knows better than to ask me to do something trivial. And he has more common sense than he lets on sometimes." He leaned against the elevator wall as it started moving. "Whatever it is, it's more to keep me from going crazy than to drain my strength."
Rinoa grinned a little. "You and my brother are two peas in a pod! If there's nothing to do ... you MAKE something to do." THAT got a smile out of him. She followed him as he walked out of the elevator. She was surprised when not only was Cid there, but so were Setsuna, Dr. Kadowaki and Quistis. With them was a young woman with short, dark hair and violet eyes.
Setsuna smiled at Rinoa. "Rinoa Heartilly, meet Hotaru Tomoe. Hotaru ... this is Rinoa."
Rinoa had no time to brace herself before she found herself engulfed in a hug. "What?"
"Oh! I'm so sorry. Setsuna-mama has been telling me so much that I feel like I already know you!" She bowed a little. "The Senshi of Saturn welcomes the Senshi of Earth."
Squall's eyebrows shot up. "Setsuna ... MAMA?" He smiled when Rinoa giggled a little. "You called me, sir?"
Cid's eyes were tinged with concern. "For goodness sakes sit down before you keel over." He indicated the chair to Squall's right and nodded when the boy was seated. "I have cleared this with Dr. Kadowaki first ... just so you know, Rinoa." He started pacing. "In Deling, Zell took a girl under his wing and brought her here. She's now in the infirmary. She lacks any practical knowledge and Zell thinks she should learn some skills so she can defend herself. He also thinks that once she's cleaned up and is in better shape, she'll attract her share of protectors." He shrugged. "I've met her briefly. She's distrustful and just a little bratty. I have to attribute that to her life in Deling, though. Dr. Kadowaki...?"
The doctor nodded. "The injuries she received when Zell found her were not the first ones she ever had. After a thorough exam, I could see that her right leg had been broken ... twice, and there are indications of a cracked rib."
Cid took over. "I know you, Squall ... you're not the most social person in Garden, but I believe you'll get along with her. Your mission is to look after her and make sure no one challenges her. She's not strong enough to battle anyone, and neither are you ... but you have a reputation here in Garden that will protect her." He turned to Quistis. "YOUR mission is to be an open ear for her. You'll be someone she can talk too. No offense, Rinoa, but you and Selphie are just too hyper for her just now. She's very jumpy, and you might make her nervous. She needs quiet people at first." He waited as Squall, with Rinoa's help, got up. "It will be a few days before she's released from the infirmary, but I wanted the two of you to meet. Then you should go back to bed."
Squall frowned as he fell into the old habit of thinking. He was pulled out of his musing by Rinoa tickling him in the one spot she had found that was just ticklish enough to get him to smile.
"Don't think so much! The smile suits you much better." Rinoa turned her gaze to him as she gave him an impish grin. They shared a comfortabe silence as they resumed the trek to the Infirmary.
Squall's first impression of Jenna was not the best one. As Cid introduced him, she actually glared at him. Although he WAS impressed by her show of inner strength. A part of him frowned as she reminded him a little too much of himself.
"I do NOT need a babysitter. I don't want your help ... I don't NEED your help! I am OUT of here." With that, she pushed herself off the bed. She got as far as the door when Setsuna blocked her way. Although Jenna knew that she could shove Setsuna out of the way, something about the tall woman with the long greenish-black hair and garnet colored eyes told her to stay put. There was such understanding in the woman's eyes ... as if she knew, but didn't care, about Jenna's secret. She jumped when someone placed a hand on her shoulder.
"Woah! Calm down!" Squall raised both his hands to show he meant no harm and that he wasn't holding any weapons. "Listen ... I'm not crazy about the idea of being a ... babysitter ... any more than you like the idea of having one."
Cid sighed. "Jenna ... Squall is NOT your babysitter. His status as commander will protect you more than your lack of skills will. If the students know you're under his protection, you are off limits to duel challenges until you feel you're strong enough to handle them."
Jenna rolled her eyes. "Give all the details you want. A babysitter by any other name is STILL a babysitter. Teacher, commander, councellor, parent ... all these people are babysitters." Then she sighed as she turned to the young man whose life she was ordered to end. "Still ... as far as babysitters go, I suppose I couldn't do much better. He's got a cute butt."
Rinoa let out a squeak of indignation before walking over and taking Squall's arm and making a face at Jenna. "He's also got a girlfriend!"
Squall forced himself not to laugh at Rinoa's show of jealousy. 'Now she knows what it feels like.'
Jenna, however, did laugh. "Oh please ... he's not my type! There's no reason for misplaced jealousy! Well ... I guess if you feel the need to babysit my babysitter ... fine by me. I couldn't care less one way or the other. I didn't ask to be here, I don't WANT to be here. Since I AM here ... you might as well make the best of it just as I am." She took a few steps before turning back. "Well, Sweetcheeks, you gonna show me around this popsicle stand, or am I going to have to wander about on my own?"
Squall gave Cid a look that would have made anyone else nervous. "Why me?"
Cid shrugged. "Why not? It'll do you good to get a challenge."
Jenna snorted. "Don't talk about me like I'm not in the room, Gramps." She smirked as if something struck her amusing. "...It's rude!"
Rinoa let out another squeak as the girl left. "SHE should talk about rudeness! Sweetcheeks? Gramps? UGH!"
Squall turned to Rinoa. "Calm down. She's very frightened ... and the only way to assure herself is to put up a front. Each one of us has our own ways of dealing with stress. Zell comes up as macho, Irvine throws himself into being a ladies man, Selphie uses extreme happiness..." He smiled fondly at her. "...You look at them and call them meany."
Rinoa had to smile back. "Come on before the brat gets too far ahead of us." She was brought up short when she saw the aforementioned brat kneeling on the floor near Angelo. She had to force herself to remember the girl in the infirmary because she could almost swear it was a different girl altogether. 'Odd how much a genuine smile can transform a person.' She smiled herself. If Jenna liked animals, she couldn't be all that bad. "That's my partner, Angelo."
Jenna didn't even turn around. "He's gorgeous!" She stroked the dog's muzzle. "And he has such a sweet face! I always wanted a dog, but my situation never permitted it. I wouldn't wish my life in Deling on a dog."
Rinoa was amazed when Angelo let Jenna hug him. Any other person, even Squall, would be saying good-bye to their arm. "You like dogs?" She walked over to kneel beside the girl ... who looked lost and lonely ... and so much younger now that the defense was down.
"I like all animals. Animals don't lie to you. They can't trick you. It's not in their capacity to be deceitful. They won't use you as a rung in a ladder. All they ever want from you is food and an occasional scratch on the head in the one spot they can't reach."
Rinoa was torn. Angelo was HER dog, but ... she didn't really need him when she wasn't in battle. She could see that Jenna needed something that would be there for her when no one else was. "Angelo...?" She smiled into those brown eyes that spoke of his intelligence. "Will you look after Jenna, here? She needs a friend, and I know you've been lonely lately." She smiled as Angelo barked once and turned to give Jenna a lick on the cheek. She smiled at the bewildered expression on the girl's face. "You need him more than I do right now. He's a good listener and a great friend. He's very smart, and he'll protect you when Squall can't." There was that slightly guarded expression, but it was gentler now ... more normal.
Jenna didn't understand this. There was no hidden agenda in Rinoa's eyes ... only genuine friendliness and concern. It was alien to her, and she wasn't entirely sure she knew how to handle it.
Rinoa grabbed her wrist. "Come on! That uniform is just NOT you!"
Squall opened his mouth to remind Rinoa that Cid had told HIM to look after the girl ... but he thought better of it. 'Never argue with a woman.'
Quistis was still laughing. "So Rinoa dragged her off to be subjected to one of her famous makeovers, huh?"
Endymion chuckled at Squall's scowl. "Women never seem to change. There are two eternal pastimes for women ... makeovers and shopping."
Hotaru gave Endymion a look. "Watch it, buster. You'll be outnumbered soon enough."
Rei smiled when Rinoa entered the cafeteria. She couldn't see the girl that was the topic of discussion.
Rinoa smiled back and stepped aside with a flourish. "Tah-daaah!"
The sound of three chairs falling over echoed throughout the cafeteria.
Hotaru and Endymion simply stared. Rei was the one that broke the shocked silence. "Now that is creepy!"
Jenna's long brown hair was up in two ponytails topped with odango. For all intents and purposes, she could have passed as Usagi. Her facial features were identical ... as was her build. The only difference was in the coloring. Her hair and eyes were brown. She met Endymion's eyes and narrowed her own briefly before looking down and tracing an arc on the floor with her toe. "What are you all staring at?"
Zell whistled. "I knew you'd clean up pretty. But where do you plan to go in that getup?"
Rinoa grinned. "Selphie and I are taking her into Balamb for a major shopping spree."
Endymion looked at Hotaru with a 'What did I say?' look. "You see? Makeovers and shopping ... women never change." He gathered that if looks could kill, he'd be writhing in agony from the five glares he was getting.
The three women at the table stood up. Quistis smiled sweetly, which had Squall worried. "We'll just go along with them ... O-KAY?"
Squall swallowed and decided to just smile and nod. "Sure ... go ahead." He watched the five women walk away swiftly and gave Endymion a look. "What did you say THAT for?"
Endymion shrugged. "They'll forget it. When they get back, they'll be to hyped up about their purchases to be mad." He folded his hands and frowned a little. The girl looked too much like his Usako for his comfort. He didn't even notice Squall pushing himself up.
Selphie had met up with the group just as they were leaving Garden and was now studying Jenna with a frown. "Nope ... green is definitely NOT your color. Are you SURE you don't want to try the pink one on?"
Jenna was a little uncomfortable surrounded by the five strange young women. "No ... I never cared for pink."
Rinoa held an outfit up. "How about this?" It shimmered in a rainbow of pearlescent colors when the light hit it.
Jenna shook her head again. "No. Where would I wear it?" She yelped when a purple skirt was dropped onto her head.
"This color seems to suit you! What do you think? There's a white blouse over here that would look great with it!" Quistis smiled at the flustered girl.
Jenna nodded, then frowned a little as something tugged inside her. "Will you all please excuse me for a moment? I'll be right back." She ran for the restroom, unaware that it was already occupied. She swallowed as a chill swept through her.
"Jenna ... I sent you to kill Leonhart! NOT to admire his backside and go shopping with a bunch of twittering females and NOT to get all dressed up like a doll." With that, He yanked the fasteners out of her hair and tugged it out of the odangos.
Jenna bit her lip, ashamed of herself. She HAD started to enjoy the frivolity. She swallowed on reflex as invisible hands tightened around her throat. "Forgive me, my Lord ..." She whimpered as a blast of cold air struck her cheek with the force of a piston.
"Kill him, pet, before the rest awaken. Already I feel the stirrings of Venus and Uranus! Forget subtlety ... just kill him at your first opportunity or I will make you wish you had chosen death!"
With that, Jenna flew across the restroom and landed against the wall. She immediately drew her knees up to her chest and bit her lip to stop herself from sobbing like a wounded child ... which was not at all fitting for a follower of Hyne. She gasped when she felt a hand on her shoulder and looked up to meet a pair of kind garnet eyes. "Instructor Meiou?" The understanding in those eyes undid the shield and she sniffled.
"Shhh!" Setsuna felt like crying with the child as she pulled her into a comforting embrace ... much like the one she had given a badly abused Quistis so long ago. She rubbed Jenna's back as the girl fought a losing battle with her emotions. They sat like that for a good five minutes. "Let's get you fixed up."
Jenna sat, subdued, as Setsuna fixed her hair back into the odango arrangement with a slight alteration. Rather than leave the ends dangling to the floor, she brought them up and tied the ends to the odango with ribbons.
Rinoa gasped with worry when she saw Jenna holding her bruising jaw. "What happened?"
Quistis ran forward to examine the injury.
Jenna frowned. "The floor was wet and I slipped. I tripped on my hair when I tried to regain my balance. No big deal."
Rei was very close to calling her an idiot when she remembered that this wasn't Usagi she was talking to. "So that's why your hair is up now?"
Selphie walked up with the bags, but dropped them when she saw Jenna. "Omigosh! What happened? Are you okay? I like your hair! That's gonna be a nasty bruise!"
Jenna was taken aback by the girl. "I'm fine." She hoped Selphie would let the matter drop then and there.
She didn't. "Are you SURE? I mean, that looks like it's painful. How'd it happen?" The other girls informed her. "They really SHOULD put up wet floor signs. Unless they didn't know about it. In which case..."
Jenna frowned. "I SAID I'm fine. Just drop it, okay?"
Selphie frowned ... not used to being snapped at. "Well there's no reason to get snippy..." As she continued, she was unaware of the amazed looks the others were giving her.
Jenna drew her hand back to punch Selphie if only to shut her up. Her hand was stopped by an unknown barrier. Unknown until she opened her eyes.
Hotaru an Rei gasped in delight. "MINAKO-CHAN!!!"
Selphie was bewildered. "You can see Mina-P, too?"
Setsuna, who had been quiet this whole time, smiled one of her rare warm smiles. "Selphie ... this is Minako, Sailor Venus."
Rei rounded on Selphie. "How long have you had her crystal?"
"Since I was a little kid. I thought she wasn't real." No one noticed that Jenna was making a quick getaway.
No one, that is, except for Setsuna.
***** Jenna ran blindly back to the Garden and let her shoulders slump. 'Where am I supposed to go?' Something inside her pulled her to the right, and she had no choice but to follow ... like a reluctant child going to her first day of class. She didn't even acknowledge the greetings she was getting as she turned down a hallway that smelled of the vegetation in the Training Center. As if they were moving of their own accord, her legs made her turn to the left door. She saw her objective facing a T-Rexaur. They both looked as if the next blow would be the finishing one.
'He's weak, child ... it would not take much!'
'I can't!' Jenna felt torn ... confused. For some reason, she couldn't bear the idea of harming Leonhart now that she'd seen his face.
'Then I'll do it for you!'
Jenna felt her control of her body be ripped from her as her arm picked up a good sized branch. She heard her voice let out a yell that startled the T-Rexaur and caused it to run into the foliage.
Squall had just enough time to block the first vicious attack. When he saw his assailant, he gasped in surprise. "Jenna?!?!?" Something was wrong. Her eyes looked empty ... as if her body was moving but her mind was elsewhere. He remembered the expression in Rinoa's eyes when the sorceress had possessed her. "Jenna ... FIGHT IT!" There was a flicker of comprehension, but it was gone so quickly that Squall wondered if it had even been there in the first place. He stumbled on a root and lost his hold on his gunblade. He was unarmed and he knew he wasn't strong enough to withstand whatever would happen. For the first time in a long time, he panicked. "JENNA!"
'NO!' Jenna fought for control over her limbs. 'I won't let you do it!!' With the little strength she had, she forced her hands to throw the branch away. "I WON'T LET YOU DO IT!!!!"
'Foolish child! You DARE defy ME?'
Squall blinked as Jenna screamed and crumpled to the ground. 'Come on and fight this!' He wanted to help her. He had all but forgotten his gunblade when her head snapped up. The eyes told him that it wasn't Jenna but something else. He felt cold as a deep voice came from the girl's throat.
"Pitiful child ... do you think your measly attempts will protect him? I WILL kill him!"
Squall was in shock as Jenna's body ran and grabbed the gunblade. He stared up as he saw the cold expression on that face. 'I'm going to die!'
At that second, the girls - who had finally noticed that Jenna was missing - ran into the Training Center with Endymion and the guys not too far behind. The gunblade was already taking its downward path to end Squall's life. They knew that they would never make it in time. Rinoa drew a breath to scream.
The scream came, instead, from Jenna. "IIE!!!" there was a brilliant flash of light that blinded almost everyone.
Squall gazed up at the girl and saw her eyes change as Jenna took control again. There was more than distress there. There was ... recognition. He gasped as the gunblade missed by a mere inch. Then he saw what had caused the light. A golden crescent moon on her forehead. He gasped out a name he'd only spoken once in a dream. "Bree!"
Confusion blasted through her. 'Why am I doing this?' With a gasp, the memories Beryl had shoved away returned with a vengence. 'Oh ... mother ... what have I done?' With a scream of denial, Princess Imbrium started to bring the gunblade around to end her own life.
Squall saw her intent and lunged at her. He wrested the weapon away from her and pulled his little sister tightly against him. "It's all right, Bree ... it's all right." The petite girl was sobbing hysterically, unaware of the glares Pluto was receiving. Squall rocked with the girl and murmurred comforting words to her as she apologized over and over again in the old Lunari language. He looked up in distress as Rinoa approached with Angelo not too far behind.
The last traces of jealousy faded as she placed a hand on the girl's back. "What's she saying?"
Squall sighed. "She won't stop apologizing. I've tried to tell her it's not her fault." He held her protectively as the rest of the group approached, but he felt relief as, one by one, they offered their own comfort to the little princess who was the true youngest member of the group.
Rei smiled into Imbrium's distressed face and spoke, as best as she could, the old language. "^NOW ... we will be whole.^" She gasped as the girl gave her an enthusiastic hug. "^No one blames you, little dumpling.^"
"^Thank you, Mars. You always knew what to say.^" She turned to Squall. "^But I'm still sorry, Quill!^"
Squall nodded and smiled gently at her.
Rinoa watched as most of the group started leading the girl to the Infirmary. When they were out of sight, she rounded on Squall. "Now ... WHAT do you think you were doing? Forget what just happened, LOOK at you! You could have been killed! What GFs do you have junctioned?" She mentally counted the bruises and scratches on his face. "WELL?"
Squall cleared his throat. "Well ... Shiva, Ifrit and uhhh ... Carbuncle."
Rinoa scoffed. "And you're not compatible with any of them!" She shook her head. "What am I going to do with you?" She couldn't stay mad at him. He looked so adorable at the moment that she couldn't resist wrapping her arms around him to take the small sting off her scolding. "Can't you wait a few more days until you start battling in here again? One scare a week is more than enough for me." She rested her head over his heart to listen to the steady beat. "Can you just please give me a few days that I don't have to be worried that you won't knock on my door in the morning?"
Squall relaxed a little and returned the embrace. "Sorry..." After a moment, he sighed. "Let's go. I'm worried about Bree." He shook his head in bewildered amazement. "How could I not see it?"
Rinoa shrugged. "No one saw it, Squall. No one was looking for it." She smiled and released him so that he could take her hand and follow the path taken by their friends only a moment earlier.
Squall grinned. "Well ... one thing's for sure. With Bree around, things are going to get interesting really fast."
Rinoa didn't know whether to be pleased ... or worried at the playful look on Squall's face.
"That's a nasty bruise ... but it'll heal right up." Dr. Kadowaki sighed as the girl gazed at her blankly. 'Imbrium ... just this morning, she was a girl named Jenna.' She patted her shoulder and smiled. Then she turned to Squall, who was leaning against the door. "What were YOU doing in the Training Center? I had ordered you to take it easy. Do I have to tie you to a bed?"
Squall didn't have a chance to answer before he was tackled by Jenna ... no ... by Imbrium. "^What?^"
"^Big brother, where is Serenity? Where's my sister? I asked Mars, but she won't tell me!^"
Squall blinked and turned to Setsuna. "Help."
Setsuna chuckled as she walked forward. "^Small Lady?^" She opened her arms as the princess threw herself at a familiar face.
"^PUU! Why won't anyone tell me what's going on?^" Imbrium blinked as Setsuna placed an arm about her shoulders and led her into the ICU to speak to her privately.
Squall watched with a worried frown a moment, then was drawn into a conversation.
Rei was fuming. "I can NOT believe Pluto kept that from us! Usagi had a RIGHT to know about her! How long has she been in the Dark Kingdom?"
Minako frowned as well. "Not even that ... from the report, Hyne abused her. It's our duty to protect the princesses at all costs. Pluto took the same oath that we all did. She broke that oath by not telling us that there was another princess."
Hotaru's eyes were sad. "You should have seen her when Zell and I found her." A tiny smile quirked on her lips. "I finally know where Chibi-Usa got her attitude from!" She paused a moment as there was a cry of despair from the ICU. "Poor Imbrium!" She stood up as the door was thrown open and Imbrium bolted for Squall. She walked over ... prepared to help in any way possible.
"^Tell me Pluto's LYING! PLEASE tell me it's not true! Mother's dead? Our home's destroyed? Oh PLEASE, Quill! PLEASE!^" She started sobbing and crumpled against Squall. "^Please?^"
Rinoa covered her mouth to hold in her own sobs as the young girl was forced with the truth that the home she knew was destroyed. The grief was a physical thing in the room.
Squall held her as tightly as he could, understanding the pain she was feeling. Everything she had loved was ripped from her. All sense of safety was gone from her.
Quistis could only bear it for so long before she went against Garden's rules and cast Sleep on the inconsolable girl.
Squall picked her up and placed her on the bunk. She had just been through several traumas ... and he was actually grateful that Quistis had done it. He couldn't bear to see his sister in pain. Once he had tucked the blanket around her, he walked purposefully into the ICU. "Why?"
"Did you like fighting Ultimecia, Squall?" Pluto turned her dark eyes to him. "If she hadn't seen, for herself, what Hyne was capable of ... what He would make her do ... that's what she would have become. Yes. Before you ask, Imbrium would have eventually turned into Ultimecia."
"You were there. Why didn't you stop it? What does it acheive?" He sat down and buried his face in his hands. "I killed my sister."
"No ... no you saved her." Pluto sat beside him and took a breath. "My duty is to guard the Gate of Time and the Timestream itself." She sighed. "It's a terrible burden, Squall. To know what is to come and what has past. There are times I am in very real danger of losing all perspective. For instance ... do you know what it's like to know when, where, and how someone is going to die ... and know that you can't do anything to prevent it without causing a worse tragedy in the future." She sighed sadly. "I knew that the Silver Millenium was going to end in that way. I knew that all the children would be massacred. I knew all that, and was powerless to stop it. If I had interfered, the world as you know it would not exist."
Squall took a deep breath to steady his nerves. "What happens to her now? Does Hyne still have the power to control her?"
Setsuna shook her head. "I wish I could tell you that the possibility didn't exist, but Hyne doesn't play fair. He'll use any opening to take her back and turn her against us. This first breaking wounded her spirit, a second one might destroy her totally. She always was very sensitive. We'll have to keep her under constant watch until she settles down. Once she's capable of handling her actions as Jenna, we will be able to ease up a bit until Serenity is awakened. When that occurs, and Hyne is banished is when she'll be safe from Him."
Squall sighed in resignation as he was ordered to lie down on the second bunk in the infirmary. Well ... truth be told, he WAS stiff and sore and all he wanted to do was sleep, but he was worried about Imbrium. He could hear the low murmur of his friends as they discussed plans on how to protect her. He had to smile as he dozed off. Whether she knew it or not, Imbrium's reawakening had given his friends something they needed. A distraction to wean them off all the action they had gotten while trying to defeat Ultimecia.
Rinoa glanced over at the bunk Squall occupied and smiled a little. She knew that she really shouldn't baby him, but she couldn't help but to worry especially considering how she'd found him the other day in the void. She glanced at Setsuna and felt a wave of gratitude gentle the anger.
Rei pursed her lips. "How about we set up a guard? That way someone is with her 24/7!"
Minako shook her head. "Won't she get suspicious after a while?"
Selphie bounced. "Not if it's because we're teaching her to speak basic! What WAS that language she was speaking?"
Luna, in cat form and curled up at Imbrium's feet, spoke up. "That was the old Lunari language. Endymion was quite well versed in it."
Artemis, who hadn't budged from Minako's shoulder since she'd stepped into Garden, nodded. "Of all the things we could forget." His voice was laden with regret.
"Which REMINDS me..." Luna stood up and hopped off the bed to pad over to Angelo. "You may fool the others with this 'bow wow ... woof woof ... grrr' act because they really would be startled, but Imbri is going to need you now, so just drop it."
Rinoa grinned and nodded when Angelo looked at her. When she had first run into him, she had thought she was crazy, but...
"Sorry, Luna. I had an agreement with Rinoa so that no one would think she'd done it." Angelo chuckled at some of the double takes he got at that moment as the well-hidden crescent moon became visible at last.
Selphie squealed in delight. "You can TALK? KEWL! Can YOU turn human, too?"
Angelo nodded. "But I'm nothing flashy like Artie there. I look just like an average guy. I melt right into any crowd." Then he sighed. "I prefer to stay in dog form."
Minako frowned a little. "Isn't there a less confusing way to guard her? Can't you just put one of your sticky notes on her?"
Rei glared at the blonde. "They are CALLED oufdas! You know how much I hate it when someone calls them 'Sticky notes'! It wouldn't work, anyway. There's no evil energy being eminated from her."
Seifer frowned a little. "Why does this creep pick on girls so much?"
"Easy targets." A cool voice spoke up from the entrance and everyone turned to see a woman with a hard expression in her sky blue eyes. "I knew something about the wind felt off."
A teenage girl with her brown hair in a ponytail followed. "Hn! Well it looks like this creep picked the WRONG girl to mess with."
Seifer payed less attention to the strangers than he did to the familiar forms behind them. "FUUJIN! RAIJIN!"
The three friends came together in a heartfelt group hug, and each knew that all would be well now that the disciplinary committee was together again. He filled them in while the newcomers were introduced to Rinoa.
Haruka sighed when she had the whole story. "I can understand, Pluto, why you kept silent."
Makoto frowned as she cracked her knuckles, earning an interested glance from Zell. "That doesn't mean we have to like it, though."
Zell grinned a little to himself. 'PleasepleasePLEASE say she's a girl who likes to fight with her fists!'
Makoto glanced over at Zell and tilted her head. "What?"
Zell cleared his throat. "You do martial arts?"
Makoto laughed softly. "Yeah ... they used to call me the karate maniac at Usagi's school until she hooked up with me. You had to know how to defend yourself in some of the schools I went to."
Zell punched the air. "Oh YEAH! SWEET! You wanna spar later? I haven't had a decent sparring partner since I first came here!"
Minako sighed. "Here we go again! Next thing you know she'll say ..."
"You know something?" Makoto blushed a little. "You remind me of..."
"...MY OLD BOYFRIEND!" All the senshi present chorused.
Rei giggled at Makoto's fuming expression. "Oh come ON Mako-chan! Be honest! That WAS what you were about to say, right?"
Makoto, looking slightly abashed, cleared her throat. "Not ... necessarily."
A giggle erupted from the supposedly sleeping Imbrium. Dropping the act, she opened her eyes. "^Jupiter ... you never change! Always going gaa gaa over the newest cute guy.^"
Makoto sweatdropped. "Uhh ... what did she just say? I have the vaguest feeling that I've been insulted."
Setsuna shook her head. "Not at all ... she was just stating how glad she was to see something familiar."
Everyone in the room gave Setsuna a look that said they weren't buying the translation, but they weren't going to question it.
Imbrium tried to get up ... and almost managed to get on her feet. Her knees gave out, though and she strated to fall face-forward to the floor.
Makoto ran forward with a little cry of alarm and caught the pale girl before she collapsed entirely.
"^Have I been sick? Because I feel really weak and a little hungry.^" Then her stomach growled and she blushed a little. "^Okay ... so I'm a LOT hungry.^"
Pluto translated for her. "She just said she's hungry. Shall we take her to the Cafeteria?"
"Bad idea. There's never anything there that's edible besides hot dogs." Zell shrugged when everyone looked at him oddly. "Why else do you think that they sell faster than anything else? Have any of you TRIED some of the entrees they offer there?" He made a face like the very thought of the Cafeteria food made him ill. "BLEH!"
Selpie grinned at Zell. "So THAT'S why you go crazy to get those hot dogs!"
Zell cleared his throat. "Well ... it's either that, or I have to face the prospect of eating Lilly's cooking."
Quistis chuckleded. "Lilly as in that librarian you kind of like?"
Zell shrugged. "She's nice, but she can't cook to save her life ... and she isn't much of a fighter. Which is why she never went for her SeeD exam. I like her well enough, but I think she's not the right girl for me. I want someone who wouldn't be afraid to stand up to me if she thought I was wrong. I want a partner who can give as well as she takes." He shrugged again. "I dunno ... I just don't wanna have to pad around like I'm walking on glass that's about to break."
Makoto smirked as she rolled up her sleeves. "Well ... let me at that kitchen! I was able to cook for one princess without any problems ... I don't think this one will be much different!" She thought for a moment and remembered Usagi in some of her moments when she was hungry. "Then ... I hope she IS a little different in the eating department."
Imbrium recognized the expression in Makoto's face. "^Jupiter ... you're going to cook? YEAY!^"
Makoto's eyebrows shot up. "The 'Yeay' I understood. I take it she's happy that I'm cooking."
Rei placed a hand on Makoto's shoulder. "Who WOULDN'T be happy at the prospect of eating your cooking, Mako-chan?"
The other senshi in the room nodded in agreement as Setsuna scooped the young princess up to carry her to the cafeteria.
"^THANKS FOR THE FOOOOOD!^"
Everyone sweatdropped as the brunette practically tore into the food Makoto placed on the table. Rei and Minako shared a look that stated that if they ever doubted Imbrium's relation to Serenity, the doubt was gone now.
"Man ... she eats more than Usagi ever did!" Rei shook her head as the girl grabbed a second helping.
Makoto frowned at Rei. "Give her a break, Rei-chan! The girl was weak with hunger in the Infirmary. Naturally she'll attack anything that's put in front of her."
Minako shrugged. "You have to admit, though ... she's certainly more refined in her pigging out than Usagi was." She ignored the looks she was getting, then grinned a little when Imbrium let out what could only be defined as a 'lady-like' burp.
Imbrium blushed wildly. "^Oops ... pardon me.^" Then she blushed more when she realised the amount of food she had eaten. "^Uhhh ... did you all want any of that? I'm sorry ... I don't know what came over me.^" She looked down to her lap so as not to meet any of their eyes.
Setsuna placed a hand on Imbrium's shoulder. "^You were hungry ...it was understandable that you ate that much. Do you feel better now?^"
Imbrium nodded. "^Much better, thank you Puu.^" She wiped her mouth with a napkin and watched as Selphie stood up.
Selphie started gesturing wildly, hoping to get some semblance of communication going. "WE ..." She waved her arms indicating the group. "HAVE GOT ..." She made a fist and pounded her hand. "TO GET YOU ..." She pointed at the now dumbfounded Imbrium. "TO LEARN TO SPEAK ..." She made her hand move as if it were in a puppet. Squall was bent over and hiding his head in the crook of his arms at this point ... pretending he didn't know Selphie anymore. "OUR LANGUAGE!"
Setsuna grinned a little as Imbrium cleared her throat.
"Why you think shouting and speak slowly help? I know some, but is hard. Why you not speak Lunari?"
Everyone besides Selphie started laughing.
Selphie took a deep breath. "Why didn't you say you could speak basic?"
Imbrium grinned. "Why you no ask? Endymion teach all ... Quill much better than me."
Minako stopped laughing. "Well ... look on the bright side! It'll make teaching Imbrium much easier."
Selphie sighed. "You have a point, Mina-P." She held her hand out. "Let's get started."
Squall stopped them. "Selphie ... loan Bree your student uniform. It will make her blend in a little better than her gown will."
Imbrium looked around and frowned. "^They look itchy, Quill. I won't wear it.^"
Squall sighed. "^Bree ... I'm older than you and my job is to protect you. Do as I say.^"
Imbrium scowled a moment then smiled brightly as she stood ramrod straight and gave him a Lunari salute. "^Yes SIR, Prince Tranquillity SIR! Whatever you say SIR!^" Then she followed Selphie out by marching like a toy soldier.
"She's mad." Squall sat down and sighed.
Quistis raised her eyebrows. "What makes you say that?"
Squall smiled sadly. "She called me Tranquillity. She knows I've always hated that name."
Rinoa frowned. "Squall ...?"
"Hm?" He looked at Rinoa and was bewildered at the relief he saw in her expression. "What?"
"Just because you remember who you were ... don't forget who you ARE." She reached over and brushed her fingers against his cheek. Then she ran one finger along the path his scar used to take lovingly. "I fell in love with Squall Leonhart ... not Prince Tranquillity of the moon kingdom."
Endymion sighed. "Rinoa ... you have to remember something. Squall and Tranquillity are much the same person. Maybe I should go back to being called Mamoru ... although Mamoru died a thousand years ago when we allowed ouselves to be encased in crystal." He looked a little sad. "Our old selves died so that we could be awakened. Do you understand?"
Rinoa shook her head. "Maybe I have it lucky. I was never born in the Silver Millennium so I don't have this personality disorder." She bit her lip and fell into thought. Would she have to lose Squall in order to allow him to become the Prince? Would she have to lose herself in order to become the Princess? The thought made her heart ache.
Imbrium learned fast while Garden travelled towards Trabia. Quistis felt compelled to go there just as Irvine had felt the need to go to Fisherman's Horizon as soon as Ultimecia had been defeated.
"Once we pick Irvine up, we'll head for Esthar." Quistis looked up as Squall groaned. "What?"
"I'm just not looking forward to seeing Laguna again. The man is an idiot. How he's gotten so far in his life is beyond me!" Squall knew that he wasn't being totally honest. He really didn't want to have the talk Laguna had mentioned. He had a nagging sensation that he knew just what the man was going to say and he really didn't want to hear it.
Rinoa placed a hand on his shoulder. "Squall...?" She blinked as he turned away and left the control room. "Oh Squall."
Imbrium was sitting amidst the lush vegetation of the training center singing when Squall found her. The fact that she was in the more dangerous part didn't surprise him. What surprised him was she was sitting on a rather docile-looking T-Rexaur's snout. Still ... even that shouldn't have surprised him. Oddly enough, her voice had a soothing effects on the monsters. "They won't be of much use for training if you keep treating them like pets." He smiled fondly as his sister slid down and patted the creature before it turned away.
"Quill ... why do you keep these creatures here? It's cruel! It's like locking a bird in a cage so it can sing whenever you want it to." Her eyes were accusing. "If the students want to train, let them train with each other. Many of these poor creatures were orphaned and had to learn behavior on their own." She walked over to the nearby fallen log and hopped onto it, giving Angelo a scratch on the head as she passed.
"Bree ... the Training center ..." He paused and started again. "The creatures in here are bred for students to fight them in order to gain the experience they need for tougher fights in the real world. If we suddenly stopped using this facility, then the creatures would overrun Garden. Do you understand?" He gave her a small smile. "There's a balance here. These creatures won't survive anyway if we set them free. As you said ... they have no idea how to behave. It's like the Lunar Tigers so long ago. The creatures in here allow us to hone our skills."
Imbrium sighed sadly. "I don't have to like it, though."
Squall shook his head. "No one does, small one." He reached out and tapped her nose. "You be careful in here. We're almost at Trabia and I need to be on the bridge for who knows what reason."
Imbrium called after him. "You be careful, too. You still don't look that strong, Quill."
Deep beneath Trabia Garden, in a cavern long forgotten, was a large crystal that was covered with a miriad of cracks. Then, in a spectacular flash, the crystal shattered and disintegrated. The former occupant sat up and screamed out in fury and heartbreak. "HOW COULD YOU DO THAT TO ME?!!! TO US?!!!" The figure bent over and, for the first time in two thousand years, sobbed. The tears were for a home long destroyed, a friend long betrayed, and a princess long neglected. "I swear in Selene's name that I will do my best to atone for what I have done." With that, the figure that time had forgotten vanished ... sensing that the aforementioned princess was in danger.
Angelo kept his eyes sharp and his ears perked up to catch any hint of trouble. It was for this reason he preferred to stay as a dog. He could sense something was suddenly off. He sniffed the air and detected a scent that did not belong in the Training Center. His hackles rose of their own accord. "Highness ... I sense trouble. Stay here." In a shimmer, a man with shaggy dark brown hair and a cream jumpsuit was standing beside the fallen log. His dark eyes narrowed as he drew his sword, Wolf's Fang. "I won't go far." Although he could fight as a dog, Angelo was better when in human form.
Imbrium felt the hair on the back of her neck stand on end. Something about the mood of the air made her feel terribly afraid. She opened her mouth to stop Angelo, but opted to let him deal with whatever threat was there. She would only be a burden. She jumped as a tendril from a large Grat tapped her on the shoulder. She smiled gently at the creature. "You startled me. You'd better hide somewhere ... Angelo says there's trouble somewhere." Without warning, the tendril wrapped around her throat and tightened before she had a chance to scream.
"Foolish child ... did you think you could be rid of me? You are Mine now and always."
Imbrium whimpered as a hand colder than ice caressed her face. She looked around wildly for some sign of help. Tiny spots dotted her vision.
"Child ... you try my patience." Hyne pulled the smaller girl into His dark embrace. He placed His lips onto hers and breathed dark energy into her. He smiled as her lungs accepted the evil in the desperation to take in air. He reached up and pulled her hair out of the odango arrangement. "You are Mine in ALL ways!" He chuckled as a stone hit him. "Well ... if it isn't dog boy? Go away, mutt."
Angelo growled. "Unhand her!" He felt like a fool for falling for one of the oldest tricks in the book. Lead the enemy in circles while you go after your true objective. "Soon the others will be here."
Hyne laughed aloud. "Those children? They barely defeated one of my lesser followers at full strength. And the Senshi couldn't even manage Beryl without dying themselves." He laughed again. "They're no match for me."
Angelo smirked. "So why are you so afraid of them?"
Hyne smirked. "Why should I fear them. Reclaiming Jenna has nothing to do with it. She is mine." Hyne growled as something stabbed him. It didn't really hurt, but it distracted him long enough to release his hold on the girl.
"I think NOT!!!" A shadow dropped down.
Hyne recovered himself and swiped the newcomer away. As the group ran into the Training Center, he put up a forcefield, laughing as they pounded on it. "What is Mine stays Mine." He set Imbrium, now Jenna again, down. "She will obey me. She chose to live, but living had a price." He studied the empty-eyed girl before him. "This uniform is too conservative. It speaks of order ... and I cannot tolerate order."
Squall lunged at the forcefield as the sound of material ripping filled the air. "DON'T YOU DARE TOUCH HER!!!!!" He managed to make a little headway when his weakened condition got the better of him and he felt himself being thrown back as he lost consciousness. He just barely heard Rinoa crying out his name
Hyne threw his head back and laughed. "Silly boy. She is Mine ... in ALL ways." He smiled as he spun Jenna around, loving their various reactions to seeing her nude form. "She IS very beautiful ... for a mere mortal." He ran his hands over her ... smiling as Angelo pushed against the forcefield. "Would you like to watch?"
Quistis screamed out in anguish that the sweet girl she had come to know was suffering the same molestation she had gone through as a child. She pressed herself against the field as the dark god pulled Jenna close.
Angelo growled again and managed to make some headway. "Don't ... you ... DARE!!!!"
Hyne chuckled and placed His mouth on her breast, delighting in her moan as he started sucking. "Would YOU like a shot at her? That would be interesting. Maybe you should be in dog form for it." He loved the anger and hatred that was flowing throughout the area. "Enough of this foreplay, little one. Shall we?"
A single tear falling down Jenna's face was the only reply.
Angelo let out a wild war cry and struggled through the barrier that Hyne put up. He pressed onward as her sobs echoed through the area. He growled when he looked up and readied his sword. The only thing he was grateful for was that the evil being hadn't started the actual act.
Hyne laughed at the despair He knew everyone was feeling as He continued to use His little plaything, who was now whimpering in pain. A small trickle of blood ran down her pale legs from cuts He had given to her with His claws. "See, mutt? She is MINE!" With that, He threw her to the ground, taking advantage of Angelo's shock to run His hands over the girl who was trying her hardest to curl into a ball. "Now, child ... why do you deny that which you are?" He swore as He was interrupted by a sword stabbing Him in the back. He turned to Angelo briefly before turning back to the girl who had gone limp in his arms. "We will finish this another time, MY pet. And you will only have your so-called protector to blame for the agony you will feel."
Angelo growled as Hyne merely laughed and vanished.
Quistis ran over to Jenna to shake her awake, but stopped when the girl started screaming.
Angelo growled. Something had snapped within him when he had seen the evil god hurting his princess. "Get away from her! NOW!"
Squall managed to get up and limped towards Angelo.
Quistis backed away as Angelo in human form knelt down to pick up the hysterical girl, ignoring her punches and kicks. He gave Squall a dangerous look. "I am merely a fighter ... YOU were supposed to protect her. You grew weak in your guard and you let your queen and mother down! YOU could have stopped them from taking her! Why didn't you save her from this dishonor?" He looked to the figure who was just now approaching. "And YOU were her betrothed who chose to go to the opposite side. Where were YOU when this was happening to her? None of you will come near her again so long as I live!" He turned and left the Training Center.
Rinoa grabbed Squall before his knees could give out. "You go to the infirmary this instant. I know you ... you're that stubborn." She helped him out of the Training Center.
Seifer turned to the newcomer, who was looking to the ground in a dejected pose. "Who ARE you?"
The figure looked up. His sandy blonde hair fell haphazardly into his leaf green eyes. His face was a study of sorrow and regret. "I ... am Jedite. One of the four betrayers." He held his sword out to Seifer. "I ask that you end my life."
Angelo stood next to Jenna as Dr. Kadowaki examined her. In some part of his mind, he appreciated that the elderly woman paused to explain what she was doing whenever he growled in warning. He glanced down at the girl on the cot. The moon symbol was blinking as Imbrium fought for control. He looked up and drew his sword as Rinoa and Squall entered. "Stay back!"
Squall fixed his blueish grey eyes on Angelo. "You would commit an act of treason?" He sighed. "I TRIED, Angelo! Remember, I'm not recovered yet. I don't have my full strength back. I couldn't break through the barrier." He clenched his teeth as a wave of dizzyness hit him.
Angelo took a deep breath and sheathed his blade. "Forgive me. In my anger, I lash out at the wrong people."
Squall shook his head weakly. "How is she?" He groaned as Rinoa set him on the bunk.
Dr. Kadowaki frowned deeply. "As best as can be expected. Now YOU ... should stop pretending to be immortal." She started examining him. "That's a nasty bump on your head. Do you feel dizzy or nauseous?" When he nodded, she held up two fingers. "How many fingers do you see?" She frowned when Squall narrowed his eyes as if trying to make them focus. "All right, young man, you are going to stay in the infirmary until further notice ... even if it means tying you down."
Seifer frowned in confusion. "What do you MEAN, one of the four betrayers?"
Jedite looked past Seifer to where the Senshi were entering. "When Beryl started her takeover of the five main kingdoms on earth, she chose the crown princes of those kingdoms to become her Generals. We fought her, but we were weak. In my arrogance, I thought that the feelings I had for the Princess Imbrium would protect me. However ..." He smiled half-heartedly. "I thought of her as just a sister. Of all of us, only Endymion was strong enough to resist her at that time." He tried to smile, but failed miserably. "Please ... I no longer deserve to live. I beg that you end my life."
Seifer shook his head. "Sorry. Can't do that. Not myself, personally, at any rate. I'm a betrayer myself ... so it would be an act of hypocracy if I were to kill you. Anyone else wanna do it?"
Quistis shook her head. "That you're willing to put up with the scrutiny and temporary distrust is enough for me. Against Hyne, we'll need all the help we can get."
Rei snorted. "But ONE wrong move, and I'll dust you so bad your ancestors will feel it!"
Makoto blinked. "What's up?" Minako shared her confusion.
Ami smiled in understanding. "Jedite was the first of the generals we fought. He vanished after an incident at an airfield. We thought Beryl had disposed of him as was her wont whenever one of her generals failed too many times."
Jedite scowled. "I almost wish she had. You have NO idea what it was like for me. At least you had blissful unawareness. I knew every single second that passed. Every second was like a day, every minute was like a month, every hour was like a year." He shuddered. "I would not wish my fate on my worst enemy."
Rei nodded and turned to leave. "Just remember ... I'm keeping my eyes on you."
'Where am I?' The girl blinked her eyes open and bit her lip as a surge of painful confusion welled within her. Memories of both Jenna and Imbrium melded and clashed in such a melee that she almost felt like screaming out. Part of her was terrified and part of her was angry. Half of her was screaming to kill something while the other half was trying desperately to keep hold of the gentleness within her.
She slid out of the cot in the infirmary as quietly as she could. Her training as Jenna came in handy as she tiptoed past Angelo. Even her feelings towards HIM were in conflict. One half thought of him as an annoying distraction and the other half looked at him as the dearest friend she'd ever had. She walked awkwardly ... as if both her personalities had taken over her body. One side was sure of herself, the other timid and terrified. She paused briefly when she was passing the cot where Squall was sleeping. So far ... he was the only thing that didn't cause conflict within her.
She passed people in the hallways, glad that none of them knew her. She walked into the Training Center and sat on one of the logs. There is where she began weeping.
Jenna sneered. "Weakling! It's amazing that you became me."
"Go away! Leave me alone! I don't want you here!" Imbrium hated her alter-ego, and whimpered at the laugh that bubbled up.
"You'll never be rid of me, sweetie. You know that, don't you?" Jenna threw her head back and laughed at the simpering weakling that was still struggling for control. "Silly chit! What do you want to live for? You have no honor! You are my lord Hyne's plaything, and you know it!"
Imbrium sobbed as she felt Jenna taking control. Then she saw one chance in the form of a piece of broken glass. "I won't let you harm my family!" She grabbed the shard with the hand that she controlled.
"What are you doing? You little FOOL! If I die, YOU die too!" Jenna tried to get her arm away.
"You called me a weakling a moment ago!" Imbrium's voice rang clearly through the Center. "Now you see how strong I really am. I am willing to end my own life to protect those I love." She reached the opposite wrist and made a quick, deep slice. "It won't be long now." She ignored Jenna's attempts to gain control of her arm.
Angelo woke up with a start. 'Something's wrong!' He glanced at the cot and yipped in alarm. "Highness?" He sniffed the air and followed her scent to the Training Center. "Highness?" He froze a second at the scent of blood in the air. Alarm shot through him as he dashed towards the source. When he spotted her, he felt the dread fill him. She was lying on a fallen log with her left arm dangling on the ground. There was a puddle of blood on the ground that was growing wider as the girl's life essence drained from a cut in her wrist. "HIGHNESS!!!" He shifted to human form and knelt beside the girl. He grasped her wrist and put as much pressure as he could without breaking the fragile bone. Once again, the crescent moon symbol on her forehead flickered. After a moment, it solidified to a golden color.
Imbrium opened her eyes and looked up at Angelo. "Please! She has to die! She can't be allowed to harm anyone else!"
Angelo saw the shift between personalities. When he was certain Jenna was in control, he kept his voice calm. "Why are you doing this?"
Jenna let out a weak laugh. "As if I had a choice! I want to live the same as anyone else does! I didn't choose to exist ... I didn't choose to be evil. Now she can't deal with her darker nature, so she decides for both of us. Little fool doesn't realize that I AM her!" She winced. "She IS a weakling! Rather than fight to reach a middle ground, she chooses to end it by killing both of us."
Angelo growled softly. "Well I don't plan on letting EITHER of you die!" He shook his head as he picked the girl up. "Little fool." He ran faster than ever before towards the Infirmary. He froze at the sight of Quistis talking to a younger girl.
The girl turned to him, and the kindness in her blue eyes startled him. "So that's Imbrium?"
Angelo sighed in resignation. He really couldn't be mad at people who were sworn to protect the Moon Kingdom and its royal family. "And Jenna. Apparantly Hyne tried to brainwash her, and halfway succeeded. They're awake and not all that happy with one another."
The crescent moon was dull, but solid as Imbrium turned her head to look at the girl. "M ... Mercury ...?" She sniffled. "I'm SCARED!"
Angelo felt helpless as the blue haired maiden tended the slash on his princess' wrist. He shifted to dog form and simply rested at the foot of the bed. 'Idiot! Stop thinking of her as YOUR Princess. You're beneath her ... not fit to be a dog skin rug for her to walk on!' He sighed heavily and closed his eyes.
Rinoa stood in the center of the ball room in Garden. She was remembering when she dragged Squall out to dance. He couldn't dance at that time and she gave him a crash course in dancing since she was looking for Cid and couldn't be out there by herself. It was fun but she hadn't noticed his look when she found Cid and left him standing there.
Something flickered and Rinoa looked around then heard a strange noise. "Is someone there?" The only response was the same noise then the soft sound of metal clashing against metal in the distance. "Hello?" The sound got closer, the clashing faster sounding. Only a few feet from Rinoa, a wind picked up and blew through the room. At the same spot sparkles of violet light appeared and started to gather, the air seeming to become like water, the wind picking up to near huricane force. In the blink of an eye there was an explosion of light and everything was silent and still. "What was all that-"
From the same spot, a shadow appered and stummbled forward and turned only to get a sword stabbed through it by a figure that had long dark green hair pulled back into a ponytail. The shadow dissapered and instinct made Rinoa scream at the top of her lungs. The figure spun around and brought the sword up in a slash. The sword clashed against another blade stoping it an inch from Rinoa's neck.
Seifer grinned and pushed the figure away. "I don't know who you are, boy, but I can't let you hurt Rinoa." Seifer said as he held up his gunblade. "Rinoa!?" The boy freaked and knelt down, holding his sword up in offering. "Forgive me Queen Rinoa, I did not recognize you." Rinoa, Seifer and Jadeite, who had been off to the side, looked at each other shocked.
"Queen? Who are you?" Rinoa asked looking to the boy. The boy stood and sheathed his sword and bowed. "I am Takai Jikoku Meioh, son of Setsuna Meioh. I am the Sailor Soldier Hades, loyal to Lady Empress Serenity and the Council of the Queens." He was wearing black knee high boots, white pants, and a black jacket. In all a modified boy's uniform. He looked like a male version of Setsuna, only he was about 17. Again the three looked at each other. "Son of Setsuna Meioh!?" they all said as one.
The next morning Dr. K. was performing a full physical on the boy that claimed to be the son of Setsuna. "What year, month, day and time did this happen?" Seifer asked as he leaned back against the wall. "2900, October, 24th, 12 A.M. that morning. Are you done?" Takai looked to the doctor and she nodded.
"Yes. If my translations are correct, you name literally means 'Time Death King'. Now, show me what's on your right palm, before I let Seifer get his hands on you." Seifer grinned and the Takai held it out. On it, in violet, the glyph of Pluto was there. "And my name means 'King of Time and Death.' And one more-"
Squall was now sitting back in his bed propped up against the pillow. "So, where are you from?" Takai sighed. "I am from the Dead Planet of Time, Pluto, in the Crystal Millenium in the 30th century, the year 2917 to be exact." That's when Setsuna walked in. "Well, his story checks out to an extent. I felt the surge in Time and Space last night. And he does look like me."
"What was that Shadow, and why did you call me Queen?" Rinoa asked sitting on the edge of Squall's bed.
"That was a Shadow Warrior. A minion of Lord Hematite, ruler of the Black Rose Ravine, in the outer most edge of the negeverse. His cohort is Prince Tigermoon, and They have the Five Mystic Rose Essences. We of the Soldiers have the Five Mystic Roses, There is only one Rose left to find, and that's my job.... and i better shut up now." He had just caught the death glare from Sailor Pluto who had just walked in.
Seifer just laughed at the paranoid look on Takai's face. Squall looked to Pluto and then to Takai. Pluto stepped aside to let Makoto carry in a rather pathetic looking Zell and laid him on the bed, apologizing the entire time to him. Zell was rubbing his chin and Dr. K. brought over an ice pack for him. "And what happened here?" asked Dr. K. Makoto went to explain but Zell cut her off. "I got distracted while sparring with her, and got a foot to the face."
"Zell? Got distracted?? How?" Everyone, except Takai who didn't know Zell, said in unison. Zell blushed and looked at them all then at Makoto, then back. "By her legs."
"Gomen nasai, gomen-" her face turned beet red in a blush as she suddenly found the floor very interesting. Everyone was looking at her, and Takai tried to sneak out, but got stopped when the garnet orb on Pluto's Garnet staff came crashing down on his head.
"You are not going anywhere untill you tell me-" Pluto was intereupted by a voice from the ICU at the back calling out for Jadeite.
"Where in the Dark f**king Kingdom am I!? JADEITE!!?"
Everyone looked to Jadeite. "Oh shit. Jenna's awake and mad." Jadeite was now standing behind Seifer, hiding, which was rather odd to see, since Seifer had been leaning against the wall. Squall blinked. "I'd say she's pissed, not mad. And why is she calling for you?"
Before Jadeite could answer a bright light appeared in the ICU followed by the sound of leather snapping apart. "H-how thick is that door?" asked a trembling Jadeite. Dr. K. looked at him. "That door is a solid foot of titainium. Why?"
"Duck!" Just as Jadeite yelled the command, the door started to glow and blasted to pieces, and everyone coiled away from the sharapnel. Standing at the door, was Jenna, her hair down, and somewhat flowing as energy faded and she lowered her hand. Her eyes looked around and when she saw Jadeite she ran towards him. "Jadeite!"
She stopped dead in her tracks, eyes wide as she saw the green haired boy charging at her, who jumped up and tried to bring his sword down upon her. "You die now Negaverse Scum!" Takai yelled.
Jenna screammed and just before the strike, there was an explosion of light and Takai went flying back, his sword stabing into the door to the hall. In the blink of an eye Squall was holding Takai off the ground, both hands around his neck. "If you ever touch her again, I'll-" Pluto grabbed Squall's wrist appling pressure causing him to release Takai. "Touch this boy again and I'll kill you."
Everyone was busy wathcing Pluto, Takai and Squall when a wail above and beyond the Usagi Scale, pierced the noisy room, and all eyes turned to Jenna. Jenna was no longer standing there, as her hear was up in odangos. A crescent moon flashed into life at the center of her brow and her dress faded to a lavendar color trimmed in silver. Takai blinked, wondering how anyone could wail at such volume, without coming up for breath, and not breaking glass.
Then he got a good look at her and freaked. "Lady Imbrium!" He barely jumped out of the way as she ran forward, barging through, managed to grab the sword out of the door and held it up, trying to point it at herself. "Starkiller! Dispel and return!" Takai shouted as the blade was about to peirce Imbrium's midsection. A jewel flashed in the hilt of the sword, and the sword vanished and reappeared in Takai's sheath. She opened her eyes when the sword disappeared and she started to wail again. Squall cautiously stepped forward. "Bree, calm down, it's me, Quill." She blinked at him, crying and ran into Squall's embrace. "QUILL! What's going on?" Squall hushed her. "It's ok, Bree, it's ok."
In the Lunarian tongue, Imbrium spoke to Squall. "Quill, where's Ren?" Squall frowned a bit and shrugged. "I don't know Bree. No one knows for sure." Takai tried to listen, only making out a few words, since he hadn't been taught the Lunarian tongue. Bree looked ready to cry again and Takai knelt down, bowing his head. "Lady Imbrium, please, i beg your forgiveness for attacking you. I did not-" "You....Attacked me!?" In a flash Bree was once again Jenna and yelled at Takai. She sent a pulse of energy out in all directions knocking everyone away. Takai stood and grolwed seeing the change. "Hades Dead Chronos Confine!" Energy gathered into the glyph on his palm which then flew out and wrapped around her, the sounds of chains following. The energy faded and Jenna dropped unconcious into Takai's arms.
Takai took her to the ICU and restrained her to a bed and walked out, walking past everyone and out into Garden. Squall followed him down the hall to the central hub and grabed his shoulder and spun him around, and punched him, hitting him square in cheek, sending him stumbling back. Takai shook his head and blinked looking up at him, lightly touching his cheek and then spit to the side, a bit of blood coming out. "What's you're f**king problem!?" Takai shouted. Several students had stopped to watch.
"You are, boy! Beacuse of you, Bree almost killed herself, and now she's out cold." Squall looked down at Takai. Takai stood and narrowed his eyes. "And you tried to kill her!" Squall added. Takai growled and got up in Squall's face, as much as he could, since Squall was a good foot taller. "I attacked her because of the high level of Negative energy she was expelling. My mission is to dispatch any and all Negative Points. I did not know that Crystal Queen Imbrium, rather her past self, Princess Imbrium was also dark princess Jenna! Because of you, I confined the negative energy instead of trying to dispatch it." He turned and started to walk off, but hit someone and fell backwards.
"By the crystals, whatch where you're going!" Takai shouted then looked up, meeting a rifle face to barrel. He blinked and followed it up to see the guy dressed in a trench coat and hat. Squall looked to the cowboy who now stood there aiming his gun at Takai with one hand. "You ran into me, boy. You should show a little respect for your elders. Haven't seen you in Garden before... who are you?" "Irvine, that is Takai Meioh, future son of Setsuna Meioh." Irvine looked the boy over and raised his rifle to his shoulder and looked to Squall. "It would seem that things have happened whilst I was gone. Oh, and this lovely lady is Michiru Kaioh, Sailor Neptune." Irvine stepped asside to reveal a young lady with long flowing aqua colored hair and matching eyes.
That's when Jadeite came running out of the infirmry... was it before or after the sound of the restraints snapping and the voice of Jenna yelling his name out at the top of her lungs. Jadeite hid behind Squall as Jenna came out, floating just above the floor, energy flowing around her. She looked at Squall, then Irvine, then Jadeite and Takai. "JADEITE! Don't just stand there. That boy tried to hurt me!" Jadeite and takai just looked at each other, then at Squall and Irvine. "Bree, just stay calm-" Jenna smirked at him. "Oh sure Prince Tanquility, sir. I'll be a good little girl for her big strong silent brother." her voice was heavy with sarcasm, and Squall was getting iritated. He hated that name. "Don't call me that."
Takai and Jadeite tried to sneak away, but Jenna saw them and sent a ball of black energy craching into the floor infront of them. Both bolted and ran around the circle. Many of the gathered students jumped out of the way or just ducked. Others were stunned at the fact that some strange kid had been yelling at their commander. Clear across on the other side, Takai and Jadeite paused to catch their breath. "So, what now?" asked Jadeite looking to Takai. "Well, I could see about getting a Crystaisha Bangle."
"A what?" "Crystaisha Bangle, it'll allow Imbrium to control the darkness more easily. In the time i come from, Crystal Queen Imbrium wears one. I might be able to craft one... but i'll need items found only in this time." A shriek came from the other side. "JADEITE! GET YOUR CUTE LITTLE f**kING ASS BACK HERE!" Jadeite turned bright red and cringed. "Tell me what you need and I'll get them for you. First we better hide." Takai nodded and then turned, looking to the elevator at the center of the Garden. "Lets go to the second floor." Both make their way around, get in and go up.
"Bree just calm down, please." Squall said trying to stay calm himself. Michiru looked to Jenna, then to Irvine. Irvine just waltzed over to jenna and started sweet-talking her. "Hey there, miss. What seems to be the problem?" Jenna didn't seem to hear as she was still yelling for Jadeite. "Ah, I see, man trouble, eh?" Irvine said and gave a grin. "Please allow me to relive you of him, and his troubles." Jenna then looked at him. "The problem is that he's not coming when i call him. i thought he loved me!" She then disappeared when Michiru tried to grabb her. "That's a strong negative energy she has."
The elevator door opened and Takai went to step out and stopped seeing a very angry Jenna standing there hands on her hips. She glared at him then looked to Jeadite. "And where do you think you're going, Jadey? You're suppose to be protecting me from arrogant little f**king pricks that think they can waltz into our kingdom and attack th royal heir to the throne like he has good sense." She nearly stabbed takai, as she pointed at his face. Then she looked to him. "And as for you, mister big shot form another time who thinks he's the dispatcher of evil and what not. That little stunt you did was totally uncalled for. You have less then three seconds to get your..." she paused a moemtn to spin him around a bit then smriked and continued. "...cute little behind out of my sight, for now. Jadeite, you! Here! Now!" Jadeite sighed and walked forward and Takai stepped back into the elevator and went down. Jenna latched onto Jadeite and both sank through the floor back down to Squall, Irvine and Michiru.
When they touched down, Michiru held up her transformation pen. "Neptune Star Power!" In a splash of water she now stood in her sailor uniform. Many if the guy students still gathered there cheered when they saw the preety girl suddenly change into a rather revealing outfit. "Deep..." Water spalshed up around her then fell away in a wave as a ball of blue energy gathered to her hand with a ring around it. "..Submerge!" The attack then flew from her hand protelled by water aimed at jenna. She blinked and screamed. After a monet she opened her eyes and looked. Squall now stood, rather knelt before her, facing Neptune. He had jumped in the way and taken the hit. In a flash of yellow energy, the moon changed again and Imbrium left jadeite and ran to Squall. "Quill!" "Why? Why did you get in the way?" Neptune asked looking at Squall. Squall choughed and then stood shakily. "beacuse, I won't let anyone hurt my sister."
"Stand down Neptune. I'll explain later to everyone, if you really want to know." Everyone turned to see Darien walking up from around the curved path followed by Rinoa. Rinoa smiled and ran past and embraced Squall who winced a bit but embraced her back. Neptune ran to darien and knelt down. "Yes, Prince Endymion, sir." Takai had stopped behind Darien and moved around him to get a good look then also knelt down. "Lord Emperor Endymion, my lord." Darien looked at Takai first. "What?" Darien had both stand. "Forgive my lord, I forgett that i am in your past. I am Takai Meioh, Sailor Soldier Hades of the Crystal Millenium, your loyaly servant. In my time you and Princess Serena of this time, are the Lord Emeperor and Empress of the Sol System. Your daughter Rini is Small Lady Serenity of the Crystal Planet."
"Whoa, t. m. i." Darien said, putting a hand over Takai's mouth. Rinoa then looked back to Squall. "And what are you doing out of bed?" 'Well, I-" Bree suddenly hid behind Squall. "Quill, who are all theses people?" Squall glanced around and instantly, all the remaining students dispersed and went about their own affairs. "I want Ren." Neptune had detransformed by then and noticed the drastic change in auras. "This is odd, Just a moment ago she was filled with negative energy, now she's as pure as Small Lady. What the hell is going on here?" Darien sighed. Rinoa Dragged Squall back towards the infrimry, Bree latched onto his other arm. Jadeite stood by Takai, and Irvine walked over to Michiru. "That's a good question. Its like she's two people in one." Irvine added. Jadeite and Takai were talking. They then went towards the traing center. Darien looked to the new arrivals.
"I'll explain everything later... in the cafetria, in an hour." The three then went into the infirmry to join the rest there. Darien looked around the place. Zell on a bed, with Lyta talking to him. Squall on another bed with Bree on one side and Rinoa on the other. Angelo, in his canine form under that bed, pretending to be asleep. Rei and Seifer stood off to one side, and Dr. K. at her desk. "What a comittee." he then noticed Pluto stanbding next to him leaneing against the wall by the door. "Oh, you're here too? Well, um, Where's Mina, Selphie, and the cats?" Pluto looked to him. "They went shopping in FH." "Oh goody. Then we'll have to stay here for the night till they get back." Darien said. "Quill, can I go to my room? I'm tired and there's too many people here." Bree wimpered.
Angelo crawled out and peeked over the foot of the bed. Squall saw him and nodded his head towards bree. Angelo glanced to her then walked out of the infirmry. "Sure, bree. get some rest. I'll be up later to check on you." bree hugged him gently and stood and made her way out, paused and looked to Michiru and squeaked. "Neptune!" She hopped over gave her a brief hug, then left. In the hall she saw angelo is his human form standing off to the side looking out of the hall way. She walked over to him and he turned and smiled and escorted her to her room.
Later that night, Mina, Selphie and Luna in her human form, were getting a few more things. Artemis looked like a tree, severals bags hanging from his arms, boxes on boxes on boxes in his hands. "How did i get dragged into this?" he asked. "Well you're here, you might as well make yourself useful for something" Answered Luna. Atremis sighed and looked at them. They got their stuff and each now caried a small bag and started back to Garden. When they came in they went down to the dormitory and put their stuff away. Artemis then left to go to bed. Luna, Mina and Selphie started chatting and checking out everything they bought.
There was the sound of something breaking on the floor and the three bolted out and looked up the hall towards Garden. out of Squall's old room flew Angelo, slaming into the wall and slumpin to the floor. he moaned and looked up to see Bree floting over the ground, into the hall then towards garden. The creascent moon was flashing between the yellow and black moons. The girls ran up an Selphie went to touch her. "Don't touch her!" Angelo said and stood. "She's possed it seems an there's a barrier around her."
The gruop followed her, Luna parting company to go get the others. The Training Center. Angelo growled and tried to block her way, but when she got close he was repled backwards and to the side. She then disappeared. Angelo got up and started to run to the TC. When he got there, Hyne stood behind Bree.. no Jenna, who was alread nude. Angelow ran forward and rammed into a much stronger forcefeild than the last one encountered. He growled and tried to press forward. The others got there just as hyne sent a bolt of energy at Angelo and sent him crashing into them.
"Fools. Did you not learn anything last time? I said I'd finish. And there's no way your're getting through this time." He laughed and began to molest Jenna. The Scouts attacked the forcefeild with their strongest attacks. Nothing, the barrier flared into view as it absorbed the attacks. Angelo got back up and shook his head and growled and rammed the barrier again. Hyne just laughed at him and contined to feel jenna's body. Squall and Darien rammed into it as well, the three of them now pressing agaisnt it.
Hyne just laughed and ran his hand down along Jenna's body and was about to take advantage of her when the sound of the something tearing rose over the noise. Hyne glanced to the trio as they were almost berserk wioth rage, pressing through tyhe barrier. suddenly something stabbed into Hyne's back, and this time, he yelle in pain. The blade was then removed and Hyne turned, dropping jenna to the ground. He came face to fcae with Takai and Jadeite. Both had already been in the TC, and came in from behind. Takai's sword, Starkiller was glowing with white energy. Takai had the most evil of looks on his face.
"So, you're the source behind the girl's dark power." Takai said. When distracted, the barrier weakend and the trio tore through but stopped and watched. Angelo moved forward carefully to get Jenna. "How did you hurt me with that pice of metal?" Hyne asked. "Lady Empress Serenity herself blessed Starkiller with the Light of the Silver Crystal." Hyne growled and disappeared. "This isn't over, boy." Takai sheathed his sword and then looked to Angelo who was holding Jenna in his arms. takai walked up and held up a bangle of strange design. "Place this on her when Imbrium is in control, and it should supreee the dark power with in, long enough for you to find a way to help her." he then walked past and was about to exit when angelo looked to him. "Takai... Thank you." Takai tuned and nodded then walked out.
"Well, how is she?" asked an anxious Angelo. Dr. K. came out of the small room where Jenna was sleeping. "She seems to be just fine. Physically, there is nothing wrong. Emotionally, has yet to be seen. I need to talk to Squall about Laguna in Esthar. Please got get him." Angelo shook his head. "I want to stay with her. Bree may surface and-" "Alright. Takai, would you go?" Takai nodded, looked to Angelo then walked out and headed to the elevator. He went up to the third floor and walked into the office. Rinoa had just come down from the bridge and met Takai. "Rinoa, is Squall up there?" Rinoa nodded. "Yes. Go on up." Rinoa walked out and Takai went up and Looked to Quistis then to Squall. "Dr. K. wants to talk to you. I can't be sure, but I have a feeling it has to do with your next destination. Esfar, or something like that."
"Esthar? Oh God, No. Laguna. Thanks." Squall walked over beside him and the platform lowered. They made their way back to the infirmry. Dr. k. was at her desk and stood. "So, what about Laguna?" Squall said before she could speak. "He's gonna take the ragnarok out, and come to FH. He should be here later today." Squall frowned and started to leave when Angelo rushed out of the room where jenna was. "Something's worng!" The three entered the room with Angelo and Dr. K. checked on Jenna and nodded. "She's showing symptons. Hyne's affecting her body. I do not know the extent of this problem, but untill further notice, you three are confined to quarters here." Squall didn't seem to mind that, nor did Angelo. Takai however did and tried to protest but Squall shook his head.
Lyta and Zell were asked to meet Laguna, Kiros, and Ward. Laguna had planned to have a talk with Squall, but found out that he had been quarintined. Laguna sighed and Went to the bridge to talk to Quistis and Pluto. "Ok, well, since he's stcuk where he is, I guess i'll have to wait here till then." "Well, It's a good thing you saved us a long trip walking the tracks to Esthar." Quistis said. "Yeah, well, I herad you were still here at FH, so i figured i come see what's up. Why do you need to go to Esthar?" Laguna asked. "We need to get to the Sorceress Memorial. Princess Serenity's trapped there.
Back in the infirmry, Squall was looking at Takai. Takai had been staring out the window the entire time. "What do you want?" Takai asked without turning. "Why are you still here? You could have gone back to your time." Squall said. Angelo looked to him then to takai. Dr. k. glanced up from her desk. "Two reasons. one, when my mother used her time stop to save Neptune and Uranus, she was no longer the Guardian of the Time Gate. I took her job. I can't go back... the Time gate has been sealed. I'm not sure why, but only two things can unlock it. Pluto's Garnet Staff, and the Rose of Light."
"And the second reason?" Asked Angelo. "My mission." Takai said looking to the others. "Which is?" Dr. K. raised an eyebrow. "To find the Light Rose. It resides in the Heart Crystal of Princess Serenity. I've already checked Lady Empress Serenity.... its not there so it was removed in the past... so i came her, to remove it. But i have yet to find Princess Serenity. And..." He looked to Jenna's sleeping form. "It feels as though half od the rose is in Princess Imbrium." Squall blinked. "Well, when we can get to Esthar, we can wake up Serena." "Ok, i have good news and bad news." said Dr. K. "The good is Her sickness is not contagious, so you don't have to stay here. The bad is, this is Hyne's handi work, and there is a energy sourde in here that seems to be half of an bigger source. But as jenna, its confined and hidded rather well by dark threads."
"That's has to be the rose half." Takai said. he looked to Squall. "So, are you gonna stay here?" Squall nodded for obvious reasons. Takai nodded and left. After a few moments, laguna came in with a goofy smile on his face. "I'm glad that green haired kid with the long ass ponytail told me the good news that you're not under quarintine anymore. Now, about that talk, Squall." Squall put his hand on his face and shook it. "I'll kill him." he muttered. Jenna opened her eyes and glanced around, then saw Laguna, propeled herself out of the bed and hugged him tight speaking in lunarian. "Daddie!" She then promptly passed out. Laguna blinked at the girl that was passed out with her arms around her. "What did she say?"
"Translated loosley, Daddie." angelo said as laguna layed her back on the bed. Angelo then bowed to him. "Welcome to Garden, High Lord Lunaris." "Who?" Laguna loked at him then got a goofy grin. "Well, who am i to argue?" Squall blinked and then sighed. "First your a president, now you're a High Lord... what the hell? How does this always happen to you?" all the lights suddenly died and Takai came running in, just as jenna was lifted off the bed, surounded in a dark light then disappeared. "damn!" takai growled and stormed out. "What just happened?" asked laguna. "Hyne has jenna, that bastard!" Angelo grolwed.
"Oh. who's Hyne, and who are you?" Laguna looked at angelo. Squall coughed to get his attention. "Remember rinoa's dog." laguna nodded and then blinked as Squall nodded to angelo. he looked to Angelo then back. "you're kidding, right" Laguna asked. Squall gave him a look. Dr. K. chimmed in. "he doesn't know how to kid." Laguna blinked and then shrugged, then looked like he had sen a ghost. "Hyne!? That dark god from the legends, he's real?" Quistis's voice came over the intercom. All Scouts and SeeDs report to the Main Hall!"
"We need to get to the memorial!" Angelo said rushing out. Squall and Laguna followed. "Why? what's there?" laguna asked. "Other then the Scouts, only Imbrium can touch Serenity.... Hyne will have her try to kill her." Squall said realizing what was happening. "The fastest way is the Ragnarok at FH." laguna said. When they gpot to the front gate, Quistis had Rinoa, Zell, Irvine, Selphie, Kiros, Ward, Rajin, Fujin and Seifer all lined up in two rows. Luna, Artemis, Takai and Jadeite stood beside them with Darien. on Darien's otherside was Mercury, Mars, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto in two rows as well.
Darien Turned and looked to Laguna. "I hope that mechanical dragon of yousr has enough room." "Well, it might be a tight fit, but we'll manage. Lets go." The gathered force, including Angelo, Squall and laguna numbered twenty six. After seeing the size of the inside of the ship, Darien just looke at Laguna. "Idiot." Laguna scracthed his head. "Hey, hey, this only my third time being in this thing." Selphie flew the ship towards the memorial. Even in the Ragnarok, the journey was long. Takai had secluded himself away from the others, especial Squall. He sat on the catwalk over the cargo hold. Squall came through the door where the lift to the bridge was and saw him. He walked over and took the bottle from his hand and looked at the label.
"Midnight Thorn?" He looked to Takai, who shrugged. "Have a drink if you want, just don't tell my mother. It's alcoholic, made from a nectar found only in the black roses of the rose ravine." Squall sat down beside Takai and looked at the bottle, already one fourth of it was gone. "That wasn't smart, telling Laguna. I should to bust this bottle over your head for it." Squall looked to Takai, who didn't look plastered. "Would it hlp if I said sorry?" Takai asked taking the bottle back and taking a drink from it. He still remained sober. Squall blinked then took the bottle back and took a big drink. "Whoa! Not to much, too soon." Takai grabbed the bottle away, but it was too late. Squall was already out of it. "damn! That's some good shit. How come you're not..." Squall hiccupped. "...drunk?" Takai smirked. "I've drank it for years, I'm immune to the effects. "Well then, hic, give it here." Squall grabbed it back and took another, smaller drink.
"So, tell me... how'd you get black roses to make this... ain't that in the Negaverse?" Squall glanced at Takai. Takai nodded. "It is. I used to live there." "Really? how'd you manage to stay in the light?" Squall took another drink. "I just did." Takai shrugged and took the bottle and took a big drink, only to have Squall take it again and down the last in a long chug. "Squall, report to the bridge." Squall and Takai looked up and then stood, Takai helping Squall and taking the now empty bottle, and helped him to the bridge. Once there, Squall smiled a goofy grin at Rinoa. "Have I ever told you how... hic... h-h-hot you look in that outfit?" Selphie glanced over her shoulder, Quistis, Irvine and Pluto turned to look at him, leaning on Takai. "Who are you and hwta have you done with my boyfriend?" Rinoa asked the plastered Squall. He just smirked and the arm that was around Takai's shoulder patted the boy's chest. "Something called Mid...Mid.... black rose or something like that."
Pluto looked to Takai. "What's he talking about? Why is he drunk?" Takai shrugged. "Cause he was drinking?" Squall too the bottle and looked at the label. "Midnight Thorn, that's it." Pluto gave Takai a death glare. "You gave him Midnight Thorn?" Takai shook his head. "No! He did it, not me. He took the bottle and took a big drink." "We'll talk later." Pluto turned away. "Oh, don't be so hard on him. Hic. He hasn't lied yet, has he?" Quistis shook here head. "Anyway, you're gonna need to sober up and-" Several highpicted screams came from the passenger room. Everyone except Selphie and Irvine ran out.
When they got there, the site that met their eyes sobered Squall up instantly. The scouts had all moved to the sides, Angelo growling at the far end. Darien by the door. He turned and looked to Squall a moment, then back. A holographic image of Jenna stood at the center, nude once again. Hyne then appeared, grinning. "Hello everyone. Say hello my pet."
Jenna's eyes were blank and she answered in a monotone. "Hello."
Hyne chuckled as he started fondling her. "Now ... we are at my palace and you ... are not even close. You can't stop me now ... you can only watch." He held Jenna to show how small she was compared to him. "She is mine, and I look forward to planting my seeds in her womb and watching her grow heavy with my son, who will take his pleasure from her as well." He reached in front of her and squeezed her breasts. "I've taken her before, but saw no reason to let her bear my fruit ... until now. I'm going to enjoy f**king her blue and making you watch. She won't die, though. I need her alive."
Squall growled in fury as Hyne started sucking on Jenna's neck ... marking her. The body also belonged to his baby sister, Imbrium, and he was furious that he'd failed to protect her yet again.
Rinoa hugged Squall from behind in understanding of what he was going through.
Jenna's eyes were dull as Hyne forced her to the floor.
Hyne laughed at her lack of protest and grinned at those watching. "She is mine!" With that, he plunged into the girl.
Jenna didn't react as Hyne proceeded to rape her.
Hyne motioned one of his cronies and nodded his permission as he pulled the girl more upright.
The crony slammed into Jenna without preperation and started sodomizing her.
Hyne turned to where he knew the group was watching. "I hope you're enjoying the show ... I bet you're all getting horny watching me and my followers rape her."
Rinoa sobbed ... unable to watch as Jenna was gang raped.
Hyne forgot about those watching and proceeded to pick up his violent pace ... uncaring of the blood that was nearly pouring out of the girl he was raping. The crony finished and pulled out, but he continued pounding into her. He would have preferred it if she had more fight in her. He grinned as he thought of when he took the spell off her and raped her then. He was going to enjoy every second of owning her. With a growl he plunged into her one last time and came. He smiled in victory as his semen flooded her so much that some was leaking out. He grinned and removed the spell from Jenna, laughing as she curled into a shamed ball. He turned to his camera and laughed some more. "This, my friends, was just a sample of what I'm going to do to her. I can f**k her for days and not cum." He grinned and turned to the whimpering girl. "That doesn't sound like a bad idea, actually." With that, he grabbed Jenna's waist and proceeded to rape her again ... this time, with her struggling and sobbing. "I might even let her become the pretty little princess so I can f**k HER, too."