Chapter Twenty-Four

A/N: What a good number to end on! :) I am a bit sad to be ending this. Maybe that's why I've been dragging my feet? I really hope this last chapter is everything I intended it to be (although, it probably won't. My plans for this story have changed so many times over the... well, 12 years since I started it in my notebook). I don't know how many times I re-wrote and edited the first chapter, all in anticipation for this chapter, all those years ago. Thanks to anyone who has stayed along for the ride. And, apologies, also. I know I'm not good at being a consistent updater. In fact, this will most likely be my one and only long-story (well, maybe I'll finally complete my Gundam story... so, two, but that's all!). I can't handle the guilt of unfinished stories.

So, here it is. The conclusion, enjoy! And leave me a review! Even if it's just to tell me that you're disappointed I lost steam at the end.

The moments following the initial attack where all but a blur. It happened in an instant, with no warning. The palace was sheer pandemonium. Venus jumped into action, abandoning the reverie she had lost herself in, and took off to find the Princess.

Luckily for the senshi, Serenity had remembered their directions to meet in the side-hall to the throne room in case of an emergency. Venus found Serenity there, along with the other three senshi. Quick hugs were exchanged before all eyes landed on Venus.

"What do we do?"

"We need to secure Serenity in a safe-"

She was cut off by Serenity rushing away from them into the throne room. "Endymoin!"

They followed her into the large room, eyes open for danger within the chaos of people running for safety.

"Endymoin! What are you doing here?"

Venus cocked a brow and crossed her arms. "How did you get here?" She knew the barrier was still up. The fact that he was standing here worried her.

"There is no time!" He smoothed the hair of the princess who was currently tightly holding onto him, face buried in his chest. "We have to get her to safety."

"Who is attacking us?" Mars demanded.

"You don't want to know the answer to that."

They all exchanged worried glances before Venus spoke again. "Jupiter. Mercury. Escort the prince and princess to the safe hold. Mars, you go to the east wing and direct forces there. I'll take the main entrance. The west wing should be relatively secure for now. Jupiter, once you get them to safety, make your way there. Mercury, stay with the Princess. Send a message out to the Queen. Inform her of our positions."

They all nodded in unison. Mars grabbed Venus' hand just before she turned to leave. She didn't say anything, but her look said it all. Good luck.

Sword in hand, Venus took off toward the great hall. She could only assume that Metallia was responsible for this. How, she didn't know. Selene's magic was too powerful to break through. The thought of fighting someone who was powerful enough to... didn't seem imaginable.

As she reached the entrance to the great hall, the main door busted open. The soldiers already there clashed their swords with the attacking forces. Which, she could now see were both youma and Terrans. "You don't want to know." Her face hardened as she got a better grip on her sword and launched herself into the crowd.

Several minutes later, when it seemed they had beaten back the invading forces, Venus realized too late that this was not the main army. Merely a distraction. From the halls behind her and her troops, youma and armor clad men poured in. They were surrounded. She didn't know if they'd make it alive out of this hall, but she couldn't look weak now. Those standing with her needed the hope.

She looked them over once, nodded, and shouted her war cry before hurling herself into the opposing force. It wasn't long after swords began clashing again, that she felt a strong hand grab her arm and pull her into a nearby alcove.

"Unhand me, you-!"

Her words were halted by a finger. It was only then she stopped to see who it was. Silver hair. Grey eyes. A pained look on his face. "K-Kunzite? What are you doing here?"

He stroked his hand down her face, pushing the stray hairs out of the way so that he could see her, clearly, although later might have regretted doing so. Her eyes were like daggers. "No, what are you doing here? You're supposed to be somewhere else."

"Somewhere else?" Venus gasped and took a step back. Realization hitting her like a brick wall. "You... you planned for me to not be here? You... you knew this was happening?" She took another step back. Her heart was racing. He reached for her, but she turned her body, evading his touch. She watched a chain slip from his neck as he reached forward. A chain with the teleportation stone Selene had given her. Her eyes grew wide. "Kunzite! What have you done?!"

He placed his hand on the stone, and tucked it back under his vest. "Venus, you have to listen to me." He reached for her again.

"No! Don't you touch me!" She was frantic. She retreated until she felt the stone wall behind her.

Again, he tried.

"I said," she reached out and shoved him. "Don't touch me!" She looked out into the hall. They were getting slaughtered. I need to help them. But why can't I move?

"I need you to listen. There isn't much time." He looked nervously out into the hall behind him. She couldn't tell what he was looking for, but the sincere look on his face and tone of his voice told her she should listen.

"Then, hurry up," she demanded.

"I know what this looks like." He looked down, then back up when she grabbed his hand—a gesture that caught him off guard. "I didn't have a choice. At least, I didn't feel like I did. Help her, or she destroys my planet. Steal the pendant, to spare you. She tried to convince me that you would be the end of me. The end of my prince, but I couldn't believe her. So, I struck the deal." He squeezed her hand. "You aren't supposed to be here. She won't leave any survivors. You have to go. Now."

She stole her hand away. Anger flaring up again. "And what makes you think I would be safe afterward? Or would even agree to such a thing!?"

"That's why you're not supposed to be here. I knew you wouldn't. So, I arranged for you to be away when it happened."

She couldn't believe what she was hearing. She glared at him incredulously. "And you were what, going to keep it a secret that you led them to kill my friends and family? You were just, just going to never tell me? Thought I'd never figure it out? My love for you would allow me to overlook it? I would be able to get over it and live happily ever after with you?"

"I-"

She slapped him. "Traitor." She didn't feel the need to put any emphasis on the word. She knew it would sting without. "I won't leave my friends to die."

"I did this to save us. You don't understand her power."

She shook her head. "I'd rather die than walk away right now."

Kunzite began to lose his composure. He was angry that he couldn't reason with her. "I could not save us any other way. I know it's not honorable. I am not proud." He paused. Took a deep breath to calm himself, and then continued. "I can't imagine living without you. The thought of you dying was too much. That's why I did it."

She scoffed. "Powerful General Kunzite, scared of losing his girlfriend." She shook her head. "Part of me is flattered. Grateful, even. At least I know you're not full of-"

He grabbed her by the shoulders and looked directly into her eyes, catching her off guard. He lessened his grip when he felt her tense up, and spoke to her in an even, strained tone. "When I was captured, I refused to talk. I don't know what sort of trickery she used—that witch—but she knew who you were. And knew of our relationship. She threatened to kill you. To tear you limb from limb. To make me watch. I wasn't going to let that happen." Another pause. "I returned to you. But not whole. She'd poisoned my mind. I starting having these nightmares. I knew then, that I was no match for her sorcery." Venus looked down, obviously distressed with the news. He lifted her chin back up. "Say something."

"Why... why didn't you come to me? We could have figured something out."

"It was too late, my love."

"I wish you had..."

"I know."

She wasn't listening to him anymore. She couldn't. "Because now I have to kill you."

He returned her earlier look of disbelief. "What do you mean? We can escape this. I've arranged for it."

She wiped the few tears that had broke loose away, and stepped away from him once more. "You are a traitor. A threat to the crown of the Moon. And if someone is going to kill you for your crimes, it should be me. Because it's my fault this happened." She gripped her sword and got into a battle stance. This man was no longer her lover. He was a traitor, and he would pay, no matter how hard it would be to do so.

"I won't fight you."

"Don't be a coward." She tapped the sword hanging from his waist with her own. "Fight me."

He stood tall, his face defiant. "I won't fight you."

"Afraid you'll lose?"

"No."

She smirked. At least he was honest. He had won every spar they ever had. "Don't be afraid to win. You've already sealed my fate, General." She tapped his sword again. "So, fight me."

"No."

"Coward."

"No."

That didn't work. "Bastard."

He glowered.

She searched for something she thought might break his resolve. "Traitor. What would Endymoin think?"

He sighed.

She felt that nothing would be enough. Killing him without a fight would not be satisfying enough. She wouldn't let him go out a coward. She respected him too much for that. "Fight me, damn it!"

"Just run me through already."

"No."

The Moon's defense had been run over by now, the opposing forces had pushed their way further into the palace. She wondered momentarily how her friends were faring. If the Princess had made it to the safe hold. If Saturn had been awakened.

Before she knew it, he had grabbed her by the wrist and led her out into one of the side gardens. Much to her surprise, she did not stop him. She was caught between her duty—what was right, and what she wanted—which she wasn't sure she could go through with. Could she run off? Promise to meet him at some secret hideout, and live a life after her friends had passed? Forsake her duty? Was this love worth that?

She allowed him to pull her through and to a spot he knew no one would be. They stared at each other for a few minutes before he spoke. Her, thinking of her options, and he, wondering if he could sway her. "If it is any consolation, I am sorry." He brushed some hair from her face. "Perhaps, it would have been better for everyone, had I just allowed myself to die then. It may have only delayed the inevitable, but we would at least not be having this conversation now."

"Stop. Please." She was not pleading with him. It was an order. Running off was not an option, she had decided. Not under these circumstances. How she wished he had come to her sooner, before making this foolish choice by himself. She did not pity him. She could not. Not at this moment. Maybe later, when doing so wouldn't allow her to falter. Now, she needed to be strong.

He froze as a small platoon of soldiers ran past just a short distance away. Small fires had broke out, and smoke began looming from several sections of the palace. He looked back to her with pleading eyes, he snatched the chain from his neck and placed the stone in her hand. "This is your last chance to leave, Venus. Please. We can find some where to go-"

She pressed a finger to her lips to hush him. She was angry. Furious even. But she was fond of him, and even now, couldn't help herself. "I told you, I am not going anywhere. No amount of pleading is going to make me go." She paused, withdrawing a few steps back from him, dropping the stone to the ground. "And no excuse you give is going to mend the trust you have broken. And what are we without trust, Kunzite?"

He nodded solemnly.

She lifted her sword to his chest. "Don't make me execute you. Draw your weapon."

He stared at her for a few moments before placing his hand on the hilt of his sword. "I owe you that, I suppose."

"Don't hold back."

With a nod, they began. Both held back at first, not wanting to strike the other down. But, as pieces of the palace crumbled down and screams of the innocent who had been hiding rang out, Venus' attacks grew fierce. Her rage finally took hold of her, and she began her final onslaught. Her ferocity caught him off guard, and he fumbled. With the opening, she knocked his sword from his hand, and with just a second of hesitation, ran her blade through his abdomen. Had the situation not been what it was, she knew her hesitation would have cost her. But her dearest Kunzite had a death wish. He did not cry out, rather muffling the pain through a grunt, which she thought suited him more. His eyes never dropped from hers. Those sad, grey eyes. They would haunt her for eternity, she thought, as she began to withdraw her blade.

As she straightened and stood over him, she watched as his eyes widened, and his mouth opened to say something, but it was too late. The steel exited through her midsection. His warning was not quick enough. She gasped as she fell to her knees next to him.

"Venus!" he strained as he rolled to his side, blood starting to roll from the corners of his mouth.

The attacker let out a sigh of disgust. "You are concerned for her? She just struck you down. I should slit your throat now. Or perhaps I should be less generous and tell our Queen to let her pass judgment."

Before Kunzite could respond, Venus turned, arm extended. "Cresent BEAM!" A powerful beam of energy shot from her finger, and struck the assailant right between the eyes. Exhausted, she fell to the ground. Kunzite gathered the strength he could and rolled to be closer to her, their eyes meeting once more. She let out a melancholy chuckle. "And here we are."

He brushed some hair from her face, and she did the same. Her fingers lingered on his jaw line. "I never meant for this."

She rubbed her thumb across his cheek. "Maybe it's better this way."

"You aren't going to die here." He reached his hand down to inspect her wound, she flinched as his fingers pulled back the stained fabric. "I don't think he hit anything vital. You can go on. You don't need to sit here and watch me die." He reached back up, smearing a little bit of her own blood on her cheek as he caressed the side of her face. "I was stupid. Go right this terrible wrong."
"What if I don't want to leave?"

"I deserve to die for my crimes. You were right about that." He coughed, the blood starting to catch in his throat. "Don't waste any more time. There is still a chance to turn this around."

She started to get up, but felt like she didn't have the strength. But was it that she couldn't, or she didn't want to?

Seeing her struggle, he urged her. "Get up. Go find Endymoin and Serenity."

She strained, grabbing her sword and using it as a crutch to help her stand. "And what shall I tell them of you?"

His eyes dropped, and he rolled back onto his back. Blood sputtered out his mouth again, as she reached for his hand and gave it a slight squeeze. "Tell him what you must. Just go."

She lifted his hand to her lips, unable to bend over any further. "I'm sure the words will come." She lingered just for a moment before rising to her feet and slowly making her way back to the great hall, striking down a few soldiers on her way.

Kunzite watched her, as his eyes began to get heavy. He'd been a fool. She had been right. Had he gone to her, revealed what had happened, not been so foolish to think he could change things himself. Maybe then, things would have worked out sooner. "I'm so sorry... I love you..."

Before his eyes closed, the red-haired witch appeared before him. "Oh, not yet. Your soul belongs to me, Kunzite."

He screamed out in pain, as the witch ripped his soul from his body, before turning to find her true prize.

–-

Artemis opened up the small leather book that sat in Venus' chamber. He flipped through the pages, looking for the last journal entry.

"Dear Diary,

How the fates have changed. I feel like only yesterday, I was pining for my soul mate. Desperate to find someone like Serenity has found. Jealous of her rendezvous. And now, now I lay next to that man. It does not put me at ease, this love has it's own list of complications. But, I don't think I could say in honesty that I'd be willing to give it up.
I will marry this man, if he'll have me. I can imagine us growing old together. Having children. Being more than just the guardians to the Prince and Princess. One day, we can have our own lives, where we are free to do as we wish, when we wish.
I don't know if that time will be sooner rather than later. I may be asked to leave my duties when the truth of it all comes out. But, I think, I think that I would be okay with that, so long as we could be together.

I must sound like Serenity."

Artemis chuckled slightly to himself. She did.

As he began to set the book down, the palace shook violently. Eyes wide, he rushed from the room to find his Queen.

The end.

A/N: The end! The end! You made it to the end! Congratulations. There a many, many better SilMil fics out there, so thank you for taking the time to read my meager attempt at it.

In most stories I read, the free-will of the generals is stripped from them completely. It's brainwashed betrayal, and nothing more. I wanted to throw a little spin in there. Just a little something different. Kind of a "what if" thing. I did not originally plan for it to end this way. My original note for this chapter read:

"-V is at Moon. Ruckus. Endymoin runs to warn. Grabs Serenity and goes to hide. Scouts stand off. V secures prince and princess and runs to find out what is going on. Confrontation with K. "I trusted you." They fight. V kills him. Throw in K saying something about how she is weak, because she is an emotional woman, and couldn't dare hurt someone she cared about. She is wounded in the fight. Goes to find her friends.

End."

I just didn't get there. Writing the last few chapters, I didn't manage to work in the brainwashing a-la-nightmares as I had intended. . And I kind of like the thought of Kunzite not being a total tool.

Anywho, thanks again! Reviews are appreciated. I'm going to go start a new project now. I'm excited to be free of this monster. Haha. Ja ne!