Chapter 5

'family'

He was standing in a meeting room. All round him politicians and military officers were laughing and sipping champagne. As he watched they all transformed into pigs though still in their fine coats and dresses with the ever refilling wine glasses in their hoofs/hands. The pig at the head of the table raised his glass and proposed a toast. "To us and to victory!"

He was now surrounded by darkness and there was no sound. One by one the politicians and officers, now returned to their human forms, rose up and towered over him. Where they had previously been laughing jovially they were now smirking and sneering, the shadows turning their faces into grotesque masks. A girl's voice could be heard screaming from pain. "No! Please no! Don't make me do it!" The voice shrieked. The figures disappeared. He was alone in the void. There was nothing left.

Darien woke up and stared at the ceiling above him. He breathed deeply, trying to slow his heartbeat as he untangled the sheets from around his sweat-drenched body. Sitting on the edge of his bed Darien clutched his head, his eyes shut trying to hold on to every detail of the dream. But as dreams do it slowly disintegrated as if it were sand slipping through his fingers until the only thing left was a voice screaming, "No! Please no! Don't make me do it!"

That dream again. Why am I having it now? And why here?

-

Darien walked along the corridor carrying a box for Ami, lost in his thoughts. Though he couldn't remember all the details, he knew that the dream he'd had earlier that morning had been exactly the same as the dream from five years ago. Darien could still remember clearly the morning he had left home not long after turning seventeen. He had woken up in his bedroom at the shrine, the dream constantly running on a loop in his head. It had been so vivid and realistic that Darien had almost felt he had received a vision. He had spoken about it with Grandpa Hino straight away, who had agreed that it was some form of vision. They had discussed it further and Grandpa had tried a short fire reading, though the only thing that he had been able to divine was that Darien would leave on a long and difficult journey. He had left that morning right after Rei had left the shrine for school, not knowing how long it might be before he saw his home of eight years once more.

Remembering that vision and morning from years before brought Darien's thoughts back to his dream. He was trying to figure out why he would receive the vision again after so long. There didn't seem to be a reason as to why he saw the vision again at this exact point in time. Granted he had never been able to find a reason as to why he had seen the vision the first time and why he had been the one sent on this... mission was the only way Darien could describe it.

"Pennilen for your thoughts?" Ami asked, startling Darien and dragging him back to reality.

Darien glanced at Ami walking beside him. "Just thinking about my cousin. I haven't seen her in a while," he replied, "so I was just wondering how she was. I know she's a tough girl but I was just feeling a little concerned about her since I haven't spoken to her for a month. But it's nothing important really."

Ami bit her lip and paused in her struggles to open the cardboard box she was carrying, unsure whether she should be nice to this man or not. She looked at him out of the corner of her eye, the box somewhat forgotten as they continued walking through the ship. His concern for his cousin certainly seemed to be genuine. Ami closed her eyes briefly and counted to ten. Mina was not going to be happy with her for this. "You know," she began slowly catching Darien's attention; "if you really are worried about your cousin you could use the viewscreen in the commons to try and contact her."

"Seriously?" Darien knew that just about everyone on this ship was wary of him. He was surprised that Ami didn't think he was lying or assumed that he would try to pass a coded message to evil, evil criminals. "That would be great. Thanks so much."

Ami gave him a small smile. Sure she might not be able to completely trust him but even so she couldn't help but like the tall man walking next to her. There was some sort of charm about him that made a person instantly like him. Except of course for the few that that same charm had an adverse affect on which made them instantly dislike Darien. "It's no problem at all really." They turned a corner and just a few steps in front of them Serena stood drawing on the wall.

Ami stopped suddenly, having just remembered that she had been trying to open the box in her arms. Darien turned his head to see why the blue-haired girl had ceased walking and saw that she was struggling to get the tape off to pull the lid open. He pulled out his pocketknife and was flipping it open to give to Ami when an ear-piercing shriek stopped him immediately. "No!" Darien's head whipped around to stare at Serena. She had dropped her pen on the floor and was now pulling on both of her long pigtails never moving her eyes from the drawing she had just finished. "No!" Serena continued screaming, repeating the one word over and over again. "No! NO!"

Darien must have made a slight movement because Serena's eyes flicked to the hand that was holding the pocketknife. She crossed the distant between them in three steps, snatched the knife from his hand and then was back at the wall dragging the knife through the drawing before either Darien or Ami had a chance to react. When Serena took the knife away from the metal and began sawing at her hair Ami dropped her box and leapt forward into action. "Serena don't!" She yelled as one of the pigtails dropped to the floor. Ami grabbed on to Serena's hand as she began to raise it to the other pigtail. There were tears running down Serena's face as she struggled against the taller girl, still attempting to chop off the rest of her hair. Ami was having trouble trying to get Serena to drop the knife. The small blonde was obviously far stronger than her size suggested. Darien was still staring at the two, completely frozen in his place. He was rather at a loss as to what to do. Sure he could break into a top secret government base without batting an eyelid but he had no idea what to do when an insane girl was trying to cut off her hair.

A few moments later and the knife clattered to the floor. Serena followed it, dropping to her hands and knees, sobbing so much she could barely breathe. Ami knelt next to her and wrapped her arms around the smaller girl's shoulders. She whispered comforting words to Serena as she helped her stand and begin moving slowly past Darien. Right before they turned the corner, Ami looked back and said, "Darien could you finish taking that stuff to the commons for me? Thanks. Oh and go ahead and use the viewscreen while you're in there." Without waiting for a reply she turned back around and continued leading Serena around the corner.

Darien looked around the corridor at the knife gleaming innocently in the artificial light, the box still on its side where Ami had dropped it and the length of blonde hair which had scattered everywhere. If he hadn't seen it for himself and if the result wasn't in front of him, Darien wouldn't have believed that the last five minutes had happened. He shook his head slightly, picked up his pocket knife and slipped it away. He stacked Ami's box on top of his own and began to walk once more towards the commons but paused as he reached the spot where Serena had been drawing on the wall. Darien turned his head to see what had set Serena off (for he assumed that it was the drawing which had upset her - though he wondered why she would even draw something in the first place if it would only upset her). Drawn in black pen were three people - a small family. The mother had long hair done in two buns and ponytails, the father was tall with dark hair and the little girl standing between her parents had shorter hair though done in the same style as the older woman. Serena had dug the knife in the metal and carved a large cross through the family.

-

When Darien had reached the commons he decided that he would be the gentleman and put away the things in the boxes for Ami. Of course, it had been the perfect chance to snoop around and he hadn't been about to give it up. After putting the food away and looking around he had turned towards the viewscreen with a repressed sigh. Darien had found very little out of the ordinary. Though the amount of medicine that he had found in one of the drawers was rather interesting. Aside from the usual painkillers and first aid supplies there had been boxes and boxes of sleeping pills as well as bottles of liquid tranquilizers packed next to a pile of syringes and needles. As interesting as the find had been he didn't much like to think of the implications of those tranquilizers for he could only think of one possible reason for their being in the ship. Aside from the one bout of insanity or recklessness or whatever it was that Darien had just witnessed, Serena had appeared so sweet and innocent and fragile. Far too innocent and fragile to be forced into submission as the pills and needles suggested.

He suppressed another sigh as he touched a few buttons on the screen getting ready to call Rei. After all, it wasn't his problem regardless of how disturbing he found it that Serena's own family and friends would attempt to control her in such a way. Darien typed in a combination and hoped that Rei would actually pick up her mobilescreen for once instead of ignoring it like she usually did. He growled lowly when the call rung out without Rei answering it. It was a few minutes of continuous ringing before Rei finally decided to answer her calls. "About time Raelene," Darien said frowning. "What took you so damn long?"

"Well gee Mamoru, I'm sorry," Rei replied sarcastically. "But answer me this - how is my not answering my mobile any different to you not answering yours? I've been trying to call you for more than a day now." The dark-haired young woman crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow at her cousin.

"The stupid thing broke on my holiday in Questacon. Which is only one of the many things that went wrong in that bloody city."

"You're okay right?" Rei's brow creased in concern. "You didn't get mugged did you?"

"Came close. But I got out of there before the idiots could take anything from me."

She nodded and dismissed the matter. Darien wasn't injured and he wasn't in gaol. That was all that mattered. Rei glanced around the room that Darien was standing in. "Where are you anyway?" she asked.

"I managed to get a ride on a cargo ship yesterday morning. They agreed to drop me at home while they're traveling their route."

"At home? But I thought we were meeting up at the capital?"

"Change of plans. Besides it'll be good to see Grandpa again don't you think? Anyway do you think you can get in contact with Toki before he leaves?"

"Yeah sure thing. But Mamoru-"

"Protector." The word had floated through the air from behind him. Serena stood there with Shingo at the doorway. Now that Darien had moved both Serena and Shingo could see the face of the girl on the viewscreen. "Sailor Mars," Serena whispered.

Rei tilted her head as she looked at the newcomers. 'What was the girl on about?' she thought.

Darien whipped back around. "I have to go Raelene. Take care of yourself okay? I'll talk to you soon."

"Don't I always? See you when you get home Mamoru."

Darien waved slightly as Rei ended the call. "Why did that girl call you Mamoru?" Shingo asked suspiciously.

Darien turned to answer the younger boy's question but blinked in surprise as he found Serena standing unnervingly close to him. Her now shoulder-length hair swayed though there was no air to move it. He looked past Serena to where Shingo was still standing by the door and replied, "Childhood nickname. That was my cousin."

"And why were you using the viewscreen without permission?"

"Ami said that it would be-" Darien broke off immediately when he felt two small fingers stroking down his cheek. Shingo stared at his older sister, too stunned to do anything. Darien's head immediately jerked downwards and he was suddenly staring into Serena's blue eyes once more.

"False face must hide," Serena's voice was eerily soft. Her fingers moved to his chest and rested above Darien's quickly beating heart, "what the false heart doth know."(1)

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(1) Macbeth, William Shakespeare, Act I Scene VII