Are you interested, little one? You are? Okay, I'll tell you a story. My story. Before my end, I will tell you my truth. It is coming, yes? It is coming for me. Soon, I will be gone. So please, please listen.
I was an old woman when it happened, ninety two and looking forward to joining my husband in heaven. My grandson had grown strong, and my son and daughter-in-law were all successful, booming, and happy, even when those strange inexplicable things happened around Tokyo. Strange, dark things where people died mysteriously that were all stopped by these rumours of beautiful, young girl soldiers.
Senshi, they called them. Blessed by the planets.
Senshi, the people whispered, the planet's protectors from the universe.
The more scientifically minded people scoffed. Magic, planets, and true loves. Princesses on the moon. Space being a known frontier that could be broken by, what, a magical crystal fuelled by love? It sounded ridiculous even to the most devout of fans of Sailor V. Reality was much more than love. It was honesty, it was lies. It was realising that the good mattered, even when the bad happened. My old mind wasn't at its best state, and it isn't even now, and I am sorry. I dislike preaching. But even if I was slowing degrading, it was fine, it was natural, even. Do you know why? ...Yes, you're right. I had a family. A son, and his wonderful wife, and my grandchild with his girlfriend. So beautiful. They loved me.
Where are they now? I'll tell you that later. First, I'll tell you who they were. You won't mind, would you?
My son was a scientist, he studied marine biology. His name was Masahiro. Strong, just like his father, and so very, very kind. My daughter-in-law was a psychiatrist, who kept up furiously with politics. Haru, her name was Haru. Remember that for me, will you?
I guess the most important thing was that we didn't believe, even when the darkness destroyed half of Earth, crushing homes and killing many, oh so many. That darkness crushed the most vulnerable spirits. The ones who didn't have anyone to fall back on. I know, because everyone felt it. Oh no, not the darkness. That's just a given in life. Darkness is always there.
No, what we felt for the first time was how the darkness forced our bonds to shield us from such dark power. It wasn't pure light, it was pure love. Maybe that was when I finally realised maybe the rumours were true. Maybe love can be something to fight with. Only me though, only me. My family has always been stubborn. It's a family trait. From my great grandfather, apparently. But you probably don't want to know that.
Oho, you do? You're so kind, thank you. I'll continue now. To the end of those dark times. There were people you know, calling it the apocalypse. Mad people, who raved about how this was the predicted end from the divine, that we should all succumb to it. There were frightened people, and there were people like my family, survivors. Living day to day.
And there were the people who believed.
Senshi, people prayed. Save us.
I was ninety-two when Crystal Tokyo appeared from the darkness, around the ruined Shinjuku district. The people had been afraid of this looming, seething wall of despair threatening to swallow the Earth whole. I tugged my blanket around myself, selfishly happy that I had lived for so long, had a chance for happiness in face of apocalypse, but grieved for my grandchildren who wouldn't have a chance. He was twenty-two. Around your age, I guess.
Then a figure flew up wearing this fluttery rainbow thing (it was impossible, considering physics, gravity) held up her hand and in a flash of light, a crystal palace had been created for her feet to rest on, and the light beat back the darkness in one steady blow. A dark blot appeared next to the figure, and afterwards they waved weakly at the cheers. The sky cleared, the sun streamed down for the first time in half a year. All the devastated houses were replaced by beautiful, sparkling crystal spikes that had, somehow, living spaces in them and the city cheered.
My family huddled around me, asking me questions about my health, worried that in my old age I would be in shock. For the first time, I couldn't feel the aches in my bones. I stood up without my cane for the first time in seven years.
All around me, people were cheering, happy that someone had saved them.
Senshi, they all whispered, magic.
My family only ushered me back to the streets where our house would have stood. A crystal construct lay there instead, but we were too tired to argue, to feel strange. I stepped inside, my son lending me an arm I didn't need, for I had never felt better in my years. I was marvelling at the feeling new grass beneath my feet, the blue sky. That day seemed magical, at least. It was... a happy day.
And the Crystal Palace loomed over us all.
That figure? It was a girl, a young girl. It seemed like the girl soldiers were true after all.
She was called Neo-Queen Serenity, and she had saved the world.
Posters, photos, the internet quickly distributed her face around, and not even my daughter-in-law could complain. She was... She was impossibly beautiful, with long blonde hair that reached the ground and wide-blue eyes that projected love, youth, and power. She and her fellow team-mates showed their magic powers, purifying a few people who were depressed, who they called had 'demons'. After their purification, they looked happy.
As if all their burdens had lifted away.
The media had several field-days. They called her saviour. They accepted her explanation of her powers, of being the reincarnated princess of the moon. The moon kingdom, she said, was ruined. That's why when people went up, no-one could find anything.
Serenity assured that there would be no more alien attacks (because all those mysterious deaths were, apparently, alien attacks) for she had defeated the ultimate incarnation of Chaos. It was over, they were safe.
The media loved it. They loved her, her beauty winning people over, her slightly bashful smile the rest. The Neo-Queen had took over the world in one blast of light. Japan's monarchy allowed her a new spot in their government, but she insisted that she was Queen. Her destiny was to be Queen of the World, because she had time-travelled before.
And even if the world was saved, the world leaders around the world didn't want to bow to her. They had fought hard, fought bloody, fought in a political war for their countries, for their culture. A world Queen? That was something to be scoffed at.
America was the loudest protestor, insisting on democracy, on their policies on freedom, followed by China as their government frowned at an interloper daring to call herself Queen over just a night. A hero she may be, they said, but she was no Queen. That was rapidly followed by rumours of nuclear weapons in Korea. Russia was silent, while Europe was a mass of seething turmoil and confusion, as it had been hit the hardest, had lost the most (the darkness had not been kind to Europe). Australasia isolated itself, and Africa didn't care. Different countries didn't care if Japan had a new queen, not until she declared that she was going to rule the World, something about Earth being in her jurisdiction. They cared when the Queen wanted to dominate the rest of the world because of claims that their leaders were too violent.
Too corrupted, she said.
Japan was small, Japan had no military force. Japan was the country that had the least casualties from the darkness that pervaded the world.
The world started pointing fingers.
The world started fighting.
And Neo-Queen Serenity purified them one by one, and the world fell to her fingertips.
Love, she breathed. Justice. She stood, holding her newborn daughter with her husband, a family of impossible elitism, beauty and perfection. She bathed in light to shine it on the weak. She smiled, and it was wonderful and terrible all at once. Wonderful, because the fighting had stopped. Terrible, because she truly believed she was doing something good.
When little rebellions started, she purified them. They entered confused, angry. They left happy and peaceful.
I watched, waiting for death (my husband in the hospital, who promised to wait for me forever with his last breath), while my family clutched at me with determined fingers, their eyes cold at the face of this apparent utopia. For what else could people want? There was no violence, rapidly declining crime rates. The arts were booming, and people danced in the streets every week...
Are you still with me, dear? My story hasn't ended yet.
My daughter-in-law was a firm believer of democracy, of fair ruling. Of the saying 'absolute power absolutely corrupts'. She followed politics, she had a beautiful, sharp mind. Haru saw in other people their weaknesses and strengths, helping her job as a psychiatrist immensely. One of her patients had gone to Neo-Queen for a purification for his seemingly never-ending grief over the death of his daughter to the darkness.
He left happy, having accepted the death and realised the worth of his own life after a little bath of light that the Neo-Queen unselfishly gave.
My daughter only gripped tightly at my arm. She was crying, that night, mourning. Her hair shone from the small glow that the crystals in our house had. She was protesting, protesting that this wasn't right. That people grieved because it was an important process to how people worked. That suppression wasn't the answer, and demons existed in the mind of people so people could fight it themselves. People couldn't grow if they depended on magic to fix all their problems.
She cried into my shoulder for the man, for his daughter, for the loss of something even I didn't entirely understand. So I could only wipe away her tears, wrap my bony arms around her, and wonder why after five years I wasn't ageing.
They were purifying everyone one by one. They started with the most violent places, where war had raged and people were grieving. There, Neo-Queen Serenity and King Endymion gave everyone, from beggar to King, her blessing. They all became peaceful and prosperous after that.
They swept the world, leaving Japan last.
Europe, for their losses to the darkness. They purified the leaders first, before moving on to their country. That was how they got their allegiances anyway. What was a country, for the loss of humanity's innate need for darkness and evil?
And me, in those four years? In those four years, I realised with horror that I couldn't die.
I am old, I've accepted my death, made peace with my family, even. I was looking forward to my days with my family, because I was soon going to be dead. Death, the final frontier. Death, where my husband had gone (and eternally, eternally waiting for me. He said so, he had loved me).
I sat silent in my rocking chair in my own crystal palace, looking at the beautiful flower gardens that the people who had become unemployed had done. Doctors, medical scientists, lawyers, military men, all happily creating masterpieces from the land around us. Creating them only because the Neo-Queen had already eradicated all illnesses, purified all crime, and declared that science was something for peace, and sometimes unethical anyway. So people gave their occupations up, the passion, their life, to build gardens in her name.
I only found out about this later. My family could not get me out of my daze. Thinking back now, I am guilty for their worried expressions. My grandson and his girlfriend brought me flowers, arranged my bed. My daughter cooked, and embraced me, whispering stories of glory and war-heroes that I had told her I loved.
My son held my hands in his own, stronger, larger ones, and told me this was the last straw. In his eyes was strong determination from his love for his family, and his own thoughts of justice. He looked just like his father then, did you know that? Passionate and stubborn. Too smart for his own good.
I loved him.
I love him.
Just because they're gone, doesn't mean you don't love them any more. You would know about that, right?
In the two months before the Neo-Queen and her husband came back, my son stirred a rebellion. He raised the questions everyone had been avoiding, he rallied them and questioned. The pregnant ladies who were going to pregnant for the next millennia, the newborns whose parents would never see them growing up. People had already realised, see. Babies born after the purification didn't age. No first words. No incessant learning.
My son questioned the elderly, who had so many loved ones in the afterlife, and the children who would never understand the important morals that came from accepting the good and the bad. Who would never grow at all. Who would never truly lived.
He yelled at them, making them realise that this utopia was static.
In those days, he became the people's role-model.
Then the Rulers of the World came back.
They came back, and destroyed him. Destroyed them. My family. Their supporters. The supporter's families. They stood in front of them, looking at the crowd underneath their feet with pitying, patronising eyes (as if we didn't know the truth of the world. We, who have lived, and will live, and continue live on and on). They were given a chance for purification.
Some refused. The Queen, with that infinite compassion in her eyes, with too much responsibility and no advisors to tell her how to rule the world (she was twenty-two when she froze, young and uneducated) banished all the protesting people to the 'Black Moon'. An asteroid that had the bare minimum for survival. They wouldn't die, she explained to the frozen people who were waiting in line for purification. They would just be able to reflect. On their actions, on what it really means to have peace.
I rocked in my rocking chair afterwards, staring through the walls of my crystal house (too big now, too big), remembering my son's defiant gaze as he stood in front of my daughter in a futile effort to protect her. My grandson, holding tightly onto his girlfriend's hand, eyes believing in their cause.
And I, struggling to get through the crowds, to be with them. They were my reason to live. I was the reason why they were there.
(Because they loved me, that was why).
My son's gentle gaze as he pushed me away.
"Mother, stay safe."
I dreamed of warm determined gazes, of cooking, of flowers and comfort and love. I dreamed of my husband, who had died promising to wait for me. I slept, I didn't eat. I tried to starve myself. I wanted to die. But even then, even then, I didn't fade away.
You asked about my family, right?
Well now you know.
Now you know.
Our street was one of the last in the system to visit the Palace to get purified. I straggled behind, as the workers in the palace gently knocked on doors, invited people to the Crystal Palace with cherubic smiles on their faces.
The one that knocked on my door was understanding of my old age, offering his arm to me as I walked slowly towards the Palace. I refused. I didn't need an arm. Ridiculous.
(Give me my family back. Can you?)
I climbed the steps.
Walked down the hallway.
And she sat, resplendent in her white dress that was as pure as her heart, the blue of her eyes warm and welcoming as she greeted the last non-purified person on the Earth.
Yes, it was coming. It was coming for me.
"Let me die," I say to you now. "You are kind, you let me tell my story. Let me die."
She stares at me, innocent eyes wide. The Neo-Queen could have arguably been the most beautiful lady I've ever seen. Just coming out into womanhood, yet not having lost the spirit of innocence (naivete, ignorance). Then she blinks, and smiles at me. She is uncertain. She probably didn't expect something like that out of me. I did just confess to being the reason why she had to exile people in the first place, after all.
"I'm here to take care of you, to make sure that there is no darkness within you. If I purify you, you wouldn't have those thoughts…" She trailed off when I shake my head, my neck strengthened by magic, heavy with loss. That is what happens to you, when you are the only ugly thing left in a world full of purified, happy things. I am the only sad person left.
"How young are you, your Highness?" I ask politely, because I had talked for a long time. I didn't know anything about her at all.
"Please call me Serenity," she smiles sweetly, gesturing for me to sit next to her. I do, phantom pains in my knees creaking as she puts pillows behind my back. Bright red, orange and green. Autumn colours. Haru's favourite season was autumn, but my grandson preferred winter. But those thoughts only bring tears, so I focus back on the Queen's small hands. Her white dress. "I was twenty-two when I defeated the darkness with my comrades, the Sailor Senshi."
The same age. The same age as my grandson. Akashi, where are you now?
"Do you know anything about politics? Are there any diplomatic courses you've studied?" I question as kindly as I could. She has been kind to me during this conversation, so I must do the same. Even if I might hate her, just a little. It won't last anyway.
Her face blushes a little red as she examines the dancing shadows on the floor from the trees behind us. "I never had time for education, with defeating the darkness and friends. Even then, I was not a very good student," she confesses a little shyly.
"No wonder you're so naïve."
What? I never claimed to be tactful. Age and children have tempered me from lying and misdirection. She looks up at me though, curiosity in her eyes.
"One of the things that make life worth living is death, dear," I say at her curiosity, face in a soft smile. Sad smile. She immediately sits up and shakes her head vehemently. Blonde hair goes flying everywhere, and I wonder how she brushes it every morning. Maybe her love magic keeps it from tangling (and at that, I have to stifle the first bit of laughter I've had in days. Could it be purification? No, no, no, it hasn't happened yet, no)
"No, death is sad! Death is so much loss and pain. I've seen my friends die before, and I was so—" I interrupts.
"Did it drive you to fight even harder?"
She looks unsure, as she slowly slumps a little.
"I agree that death is pain and loss and everything you've said. But death is moving on, death is the knowledge that drives many to fear, and many to work harder to enjoy what they have. A little fear is a good thing. Bravery cannot happen without a little fear. You would know that, wouldn't you?" She scrunches her face a little, as if never thought about it before. Shallow, naive, innocent girl. Reincarnated or not, she is too young, to ignorant (and I stop there. I am being unfair, I must calm, I must not hate this person if I have to persuade her).
So I say, "I have nothing to live for, now."
She takes one of my hands in hers, denying what I just said. "What about your family? Your son wished for you to live, didn't he? Isn't that enough for you"
I shake my head.
"No, they are banished to starve on an asteroid. How can you ask me to live happily with that?"
She stiffens, her face flies into a mask of pain. She is no master of diplomacy herself. Had she always thrown herself at problems face on?
"My son, my daughter, my grandson and his girlfriend… Masahiro, Haru. Akashi, Nana... All sent away from me because they had a different set of justice than yours."
There was a silence after my soft accusation, the bright purity of the place chastising me for distressing its creator. Their pure, innocent, creator. Ignorant, blind, cruel creator. How can she be Queen, when she was so... so wilfully stupid?
(Ah, but she does not need to be smart, does she? A leader of peace is nothing but a figurehead)
"Do you blame me?"
"Yes." I look straight into her blue eyes. My eyes, plain, old brown, dulled with age. Only my husband had ever called me beautiful. "Without change, there is no growth. Without growth, people only stagnate. There is no higher cause to work, nor any cause to innovate. Without death, there are no doctors. Without crime, there is no law. Without those things many have no jobs. Without growth, we are barely human. This would cause turmoil if not for your purification. You taking away all will to fight."
She abruptly stands up to reach for some tea, which she pours into two cups, her face upset. Delicate china cups, beautiful workmanship. There is nothing ugly in this world (except for me, now. Hate is not a pretty thing).
"Not fighting is a good thing."
"I agree. But to accept that for yourself, for people to grow at their own pace, is a basic human right. Don't you believe in free will?"
She returns with her tea, handing one to me while the other she curls her small hands around. Serenity was much smaller than I imagined.
"Human right," she whispers.
"Yes. You've taken a lot of those away. Free speech, death, growth, time." I can barely understand why I am being so brazen, so forthright. Maybe it's because I have nothing left to lose. I am old and alone. I have a whole life in front of me that I don't want to have. My time had come. She took it away.
She took everything away.
The Queen takes a sip of her tea, sunlight streaming from the back to light her hair up in golden waves. "I've never stopped free speech."
"My son," was my reply.
And that was the end of that. I put down my tea, take her's from her small one and stand up, giving her a hug. She returns it after a few seconds, and I briefly imagine that it is my grandson. But she is too soft, too small. If I fail, I at least have this. Knowing that I tried understanding her, before she made me forgive. Make it my last act, my last moral act. After me, there will be no morals.
"You're young, dear. You're blind, and probably only interacted with a specific group of people, all young and blind and idealistic as you. Take the time to know your people, know their opinions, know how happiness can be fulfilled by oneself. That's what you did for yourself. Others might want the chance too."
I pull back, and stare at Serenity's face. No matter how the magic she wrought on the world had stopped my ageing, my mind couldn't help registering them, my spine protesting as I sat back down.
"You are wise, grandmother," she says.
"No, I have merely lived too long. Can you retrieve my family from the asteroid?"
Her face twists briefly.
I sigh my heartbreak.
"Will you let me die?"
"You're too good of a person for me to let you die. I've… I've never agreed to any death at all," she says, voice soft.
(Because she was only another human after all, reincarnated or not)
"Will you let me die?"
Serenity's hand is indecisive after I let it go, clenching her crystal before placing it down, picking it up and holding it to her heart, dropping it on her lap. Her eyes stare into me, young yet a little wise from hardship. She merely wanted no one to face the same darkness, but yet I couldn't feel forgiveness. Compassion maybe. But never forgiveness.
"Will you let me die?"
She raises her hand. Bright white light surges from her palm.
I don't know why I typed this, but this was just an idea. I... dunno, it's presented as an utopia but really what world is in absolute peace? Little bunny is like, six for what, two-hundred years. Imagine that for pregnant women and the elderly. Just... not good.
Anyway, I hope you review! It would be nice to know your opinions. :)