They had reasoned that she ran away since there was no evidence to deter them from that theory. The note left in her stead read:
I'm sorry but I cannot stay any longer. I hope you can come to understand and forgive me in time.
They couldn't explain it, but they each were hit with a strong wave of disappointment though most of them were unwilling to show it so openly. Duo had been one of the few to display his dissatisfaction both in his demeanor and vocally. Every time he stopped to think about it, an overwhelming swirl of betrayal and frustration would sweep through him until he would get the impulse to hit something. He was never a fan of sparring but he had been doing it often with Wufei, Heero or any poor soldier that happened to be around when he was upset. The fact of the matter was that he felt they had opened up to her. A group of tightly strung soldiers, gundam pilots no less, had accepted her for who she was without question. They were even starting to like her, no longer minding that she was in there presence when so many before her were so quickly dismissed because they couldn't stand them. Didn't they deserve a better explanation? Weren't they worth more than just a sticky post-it note with little to no words written on it?
These questions had been thought by each of them and neither was able to resist the pain that harbored wherein. Milliardo returned to his illogic self that he was prior to the relocation, Heero was again hardly ever seen as he buried himself with missions his peers were uncertain even existed, Wufei had become more irate, snapping at every small mistake; Relena always looked to be in a pensive state never really appearing as though she were awake on the inside, Trowa was missing and Quatre had been seen frowning more often than was natural for the young blond. Even his optimism and faith in mankind seemed to be suffering. You see, it was difficult for either of them to get close to people despite their wide range of personalities, and they had definitely thought that Makoto was one of the few exceptions, so, it hurt to think that she could so easily abandon them without hesitation.
Alas, they could not completely understand why they let her decision taint them so much especially since they had only known her for such a short time. After all, this was not the first time they had to deal with disappointment so one would think they were experts at the subject…
"Where is she?"
"What? Who the hell are you talking about?"
"I think you know exactly what I mean! Tell me where she is or you'll have one less limb than you started off with!"
Duo's teeth grit in pure irritability. For the first time, he had actually felt something that more than likely related rather closely to the feeling Wufei held for the female race. This sandy blonde male impersonator was indeed a woman though she looked very convincing in her garb and even her strength, but Duo could not be fooled as he had an unmentioned knack at detecting women in any and every disguise.
Both Duo and the "Haruka" character snapped their heads to look for the producer of the voice. A stern raven-haired woman stood with hands on her hips as her violet eyes glared with frustration.
"I told you not to get aggressive! We're not trying to gain enemies here!"
Haruka scoffed, releasing her grip on Duo's collar and retracting her strange looking sword. Come to think of it, Duo hadn't even seen where it came from and now that he watched, he had to rub his eyes because it almost seemed as though the sandy blonde had made it disappear into thin air.
"Trying to be diplomatic is getting us nowhere. If we wanna find Mako-chan fast then we need to squeeze the answers out of these people."
"And what exactly makes you think this guy has any answers?" The raven-haired miko replied, pointing in Duo's direction. He wanted to make a mock-hurt gesture in response to the other female's somewhat insulting assumption, but a particular phrase from the gender-confused blonde captured his attention.
"Wait, Makoto? Kino Makoto?"
All eyes fell on him, the blonde's stance hinting that she might be planning to pull out her sword again. Duo hastily put his hands up as if to surrender and luckily the raven-haired girl was able to get the blonde to refrain by telling her to hold on.
"What do you know about Makoto?" The raven-haired woman asked.
He raised an eyebrow in her direction, uncertain as to whether or not he was completely conscious of what was going on here. These girls were affiliates of Makoto's and yet they seemed to be looking for her. He doubted they would staple "chan" to her name if they weren't close friends with the recently departed brunette so they couldn't be bad company. Was Makoto really missing?
"She was Relena's personal chef," he said. "But she resigned days ago and took off. I assume she went home."
"Resigned?" Haruka repeated with a perplexed look on her face.
Duo observed the both of them, taking notice of the concern marring the facial features of the still unnamed female.
"Exactly what day was this?" she asked.
"Three days ago," Duo asked. He couldn't help but feel anxious as the aura in the room plunged into one of panic. All his bad thoughts of Makoto were slowly disintegrating as he tried to formulate the possibility that she may not have left as abruptly as they all thought she did.
Haruka stared at her comrade as though she held all the answers and Duo's eyes undoubtedly did the same. The fair-skinned woman rubbed her head in thought, still trying to piece things together.
"Rei," Haruka said, a bit shocked to find her sitting in the living room of her humble abode. "What brings you here?"
Rei gulped nervously in her seat, eyes straying to Michiru for a bit of reassurance before continuing.
"I had a vision," she mumbled and Haruka immediately stiffened.
"What is it?" She asked hastily. "Is it an enemy? Do we need to reunite the senshi? Have you told the others?"
Rei vigorously shook her head, rubbing her temples as the vision left a rather taxing residue of discomfort on her mind. It was a very vague reading but danger kept stabbing at her so she could not ignore it. Small pictures of Makoto were shown in a strange contraption along with a foreign face masked with brilliant red hair. She could see nothing else but again the danger was much stronger than the picture.
She needn't say anything more, Haruka cursing under her breath about the brunette always being incapable of taking care of herself and also having a hazardous attraction to trouble. It wasn't that the brunette sought trouble on purpose, no. It was that trouble always seemed to find its way to her. Haruka grabbed her coat and put it back on, rummaging through her tray of keys until she finally found what she was looking for.
"What're you doing?" Rei asked, standing up from her seat.
"I'm gonna go save that little brat because she clearly can't do it herself."
"I haven't even told you what I saw!"
"No offense, Rei, but your face is easier to read than a children's book. I could tell before you said anything that someone was in trouble."
Rei frowned as Michiru shrugged in quiet agreement. Of course she had known they would inevitably have to do something in order to help Makoto but she wasn't accustomed to this on-the-spot decision making. Usually after a vision, she would tell Luna and Artemis who would in turn call the rest of the senshi to meet at the shrine. Then, they would have a long-winded discussion on what plan of action they should take. She had forgotten that the outers were very brief and to the point, a trait that she now remembered she oft admired.
"Well I'm going with you," she said with determination.
Haruka could tell that Rei was willing to dive into a strenuous unneeded debate if she refused her so she simply nodded.
"Did you tell Usagi yet?" she asked.
"No," Rei admitted. "I didn't want her to worry about it since she is planning her wedding…"
"Good," Haruka stated. She looked inquisitively towards Michiru, the silent connection between the two so strong that Haruka hadn't had to vocalize her question in order for her partner to know what she was asking.
"I think I should stay behind," she said softly. "Usagi-hime would know something was wrong if too many of us decided to leave."
Haruka bobbed her head in understanding.
"Alright," she said. "I'll keep in contact while I'm gone and call me if she happens to find out."
"Naturally," Michiru replied with a smile. Haruka left her a departing kiss on the cheek before leading Rei up to the roof towards the helicopter. Mere hours later would find them landing near the Sanq kingdom.
"That's the same day I had the first vision," Rei muttered to herself.
Duo again was thrown astray; as he cleaned his ears for fear that he was mishearing things.
"Did she say vision?"
Haruka ignored him, as she now started to sift through what she was saying.
"You had the vision three days ago?" Haruka was starting to get a bit peeved, the idea that the raven-haired girl had waited so long before sharing her discovery unnerving her. The idea that Makoto was in deep trouble now seemed to intensify as three days was more than enough time for something dreadful to happen.
"It was very blurry," Rei defended. "I couldn't see a clear picture of Makoto until today."
Haruka growled in annoyance, pacing angrily.
"So you're first vision, was it the same as the one you had today?"
"No," Rei muttered, Duo's presence completely forgotten. "My first vision had something to do with someone I've never seen before. The only feature I could make out was their hair. It's red…really red."
Haruka arched an eyebrow at the vague description. That was about a quarter of the Sanq kingdom's staff members, not counting the soldiers. It might take forever trying to weed them out to see which matched the "feeling" of the person in Rei's vision.
"And the others?" Haruka asked.
"The others are all the same. Makoto was unconscious in some kind of machine attached to a bunch of wires and the red-head was there too, just watching. Do you think…" she drifted as her violet hues flit to look at Haruka in concern.
"She's been kidnapped," Haruka cursed, running her hand through her hair. Who would want to kidnap Makoto? And why? "We're gonna have to get a personal interview with the Peacecrafts themselves. See if they're running some kind of underground operation."
"Not likely, babe," Duo interrupted after absorbing the exchange between the two.
He had found it interesting that they openly spoke of weird topics comfortably and imagined that Makoto too had probably been privy to this type of talk since she was obviously important to them. It was even interesting that they had decided to march right into the Sanq kingdom, assault him and take no caution! Either they were incredibly stupid (which he hadn't completely ruled out yet), insane or had a huge influential card up their sleeves. Either way, he was intrigued by their actions and by the idea that Makoto may not have left on her own accord.
"I'm basically head of the technological aspects of security and I work hand in hand with the Peacecrafts. I can honestly say that what you see is what you get. There's no secret agenda hidden here even if Lardo is a guy I can barely stand working with, he's not sick like that."
Haruka looked pointedly at him, Rei still unsure if he was a liable resource.
"Besides," he said as they still stood unconvinced. "I saw her resignation letter myself, held it and everything. There were no signs of struggle where she was last seen and if you guys are her friends I assume you know already that she's no easy target to get if your theory that she was kidnapped is even viable…"
Somehow he had earned their undivided attention, his little reference to her strength confirming that he did indeed know Makoto personally. However, this only made the situation more confusing as they now held anymore leads. If the Peacecrafts weren't responsible, then who was?
Cold, damp, and grimy, the only adjectives scrolling through the young brunette's mind as she lay groggily trapped in a deep slumber. It was the strangest experience. She knew she was sleeping, she could remember clearly what had happened, but for the life of her, she could do nothing about it, her eyelids sewn shut and her body refusing to listen to her silent demands. Years of senshi life did nothing to aid her in this situation and she felt immensely sickened by the prospect that she was now helpless.
She growled. How could she have been so stupid? Why didn't she think more about the suspicious fact that Irma was so easily able to weave an elaborate lie for her when she first found herself in a compromising position? Why couldn't she see through the redhead's fake persona? Had this been a youma in disguise, she would have spotted her for the monster she was a long time ago but supposedly since she was merely human, Makoto had automatically underestimated her.
She grimaced. Who was she kidding? She never expected to get stuck in the middle of an unknown feud. When she originally accepted the job, she took it as an opportunity to broaden her horizons. It was an opportunity to spread her wings, to escape from the fate that had been "predetermined" by her past life. She wanted this job to take her away from enemies. She wanted it to take her away from fighting.
It was a funny thing, Kino Makoto's true nature. She didn't enjoy fighting. To many that would be a surprise, hell, many wouldn't even believe it to be true. She enjoyed the strain it had on her body, the fatigue it left afterwards when she gave her all, but she didn't enjoy the bruises, pain and hurt that she caused to others. She never did. Since she was young, some unknown force urged her to become stronger constantly beckoning her to expand her physical prowess further and further. When she would try to ignore the urgings, she would grow sick and weary. Her skin would pale, her eyes would darken while admonished with unsightly bags beneath and her soul would tremble constantly bridled with anguish and dissatisfaction. It was as if her whole life force would slowly die every time she disregarded the drive to grow stronger. Succumbing to the silent prodding was the only way for her to survive, and survive she did.
Growing accustomed to the unseen counsel of a higher force, she could remember when she had awoken with the distinct prompting to relocate to Juuban district at the tender age of 14. Knowing from experience, she worked as quickly as she could to transfer there, still unsure of what had awaited her. It was no surprise when she found out she was the senshi of Jupiter. As a matter of fact, it actually gave her clarity to the lifelong drive she had to expound upon her physical strength. She learned every form of martial arts available to her all for the simple calling of Jupiter. That day had made every lonely day she spent training and being shunned by her peers worth while because Tsukino Usagi, Moon princess and sole benefactor of Makoto's protection, had given her understanding. Without hesitation, the young clumsy teenager befriended her and it was a friendship that Makoto could never forget.
The brunette's ears perked at the sound of heels clicking on the cold pavement, nearing her leisurely as she still lay disconnected to the rest of her senses. A steady sigh was heard at the conclusion of the clicking, Makoto's hairs standing as she felt the person standing over her. It was Irma.
"Pick her up," the woman ordered, a flock of feet shuffling across the ground towards the unconscious but aware woman.
Obediently, they lifted Makoto, her body limply folding into their arms. How pathetic it was to be in this state. Makoto's body was screaming in frustration, her gut wrenching at her inability to act. They dragged her for what felt like an eternity, her body finally placed roughly onto some kind of chair.
"HEY!" Irma fumed. "Careful with that!"
Makoto scoffed. She hadn't known whether Irma referred to her as being "that" or if the seat she was currently occupying earned the annotation. Either way, it made her angry, every good thought she ever had of Irma now going sour.
"Why hasn't she woken up yet? Didn't you say the tranquilizers wore off within 24 hours?"
Makoto gasped, or felt like she could have, at the words. She had been missing for more than a day? She frowned. She had expected to at least be found within that time frame being as the men that would first gain knowledge of her disappearance were well trained and dangerous. Insecurities quickly seemed to seep through her mentality as she wondered if they were even looking for her. After all, she had only known them for a short time. They really didn't owe her anything…
"The effects vary with every person," someone muttered nervously. "And it is especially difficult to predict when they'll wake up when you use more than the prescribed amount…"
Makoto could hear Irma growl, clattering of metal clinks crashing to the ground. Exhaling a deep breath, Irma tried to calm her rising anger. She now had the key to bringing down the Sanq Kingdom but the damn girl would not wake up! Her patience was wearing thin, every fiber in her being egging her to just annihilate Makoto on the spot. The only thing keeping her alive at this point was the possibility that in her lye some untapped energy that she was hungry to experiment with.
Her preying eyes were fixated on the brunette with undeniable excitement churning in the pit of her chest. Once she got her hands on that power, she was certain she would enjoy it. The taste was already in her mouth, the tempting ability rearing Irma into a fit of sadistic pleasure. Lightening, thunder and electricity…the scientists had said something about another underlying current in the pen but she didn't care to hear it since it appeared harmless and much too whimsical for her goal. She scoffed. They had said in using the pen they were able to revive a wilting rose bud, something she found completely useless. So, ignoring that bit of information, she told them to build a machine that could extract the lightening from its "vessel" and channel it to something operable to her.
To her satisfaction, they had actually succeeded. She looked to her hands, sleek styled gloves covering her palms. She knew Makoto was the noble type and would never freely offer her abilities which Irma thought to be awfully selfish. So instead of having to expend her energy in trying to persuade her, she would just take it. Once Kino Makoto awoke, Irma's dreams would be realized and there would be no one to stop her.
- Irma's Folly -
It was a beautiful town, small, quaint and full of life. The people enjoyed the simple aspects of Earth, the rocks, the plants, the berries, the fruits, the trees, and crops, even the little creatures that crawled and flew. Being small they had little attention from outsiders but they hadn't cared since it mostly kept them exempt from the outside influences of war and politics. The people of the town were the most civil, hardly ever disputing amongst each other and raising there children to follow in the same mold. Peace was all they new.
From time to time youngsters would dream. Dream about leaving the condensing walls of the town to live in the rumored colonies that had been established in space, dream about visiting the city to see how different life could be, dream even of flying in one of the planes that would habitually hover over their scarcely-known town, dream…
One group of friends were particularly known for their "extravagant" dreams as any dream that exceeded the confines of their town was considered as such, and most of the time they were not thought highly of. Outcasts, though never really exhorted by their neighbors and townspeople, they still reveled in the thought that they were different. Friendly group, they were, the friendliest even, but their ideals were still a bit too foreign for others to understand. The townsfolk reasoned why would you want to leave a place where everything happens so perfectly? No one starves like in the cities, no one kills like in the cities and no one lies! What more could you want?
Nevertheless, the group stuck strictly to their plans to get out, never once allowing the persuasions of everyone else influence their decisions. However, one particular girl stood out not only because of her fiery red hair but also because she could oft be seen with the group despite the fact she had no dreams of leaving. She liked living in the town and she could not imagine ever being without it. Supposedly, she ran in tight with the group because her own twin sister, whose only difference was that her hair was a deep brown, was the leader.
However minute the age difference, little Irma always admired her older sister. She was smart, beautiful and never afraid of anything. Irma of course was heartbroken that she would want to leave the town but with age and much reassurance from her sister, she came to accept her twin's dream and even helped her to achieve it. Until the time her sister would inevitably depart, Irma was adamant on spending every waking moment with her. They were inseparable and yet still retained their own separate personalities.
Aina, Irma's sister, was very obnoxious. She didn't take well to authority, cleanliness, or order and always tried to find the loophole in rules. No one ever wanted to try and reason with her because she often won, children and adults alike. However, she still managed to be on good terms with everyone. She could be the most polite, donating her time to help the townspeople with their various chores and even giving her nice things to others to appreciate since she never was one for worldly things. She could do no wrong though it was well-known that she could be the worse person to deal with in the snap of a twig.
Irma, on the other hand, was very quiet. She followed every rule known to man to a tee and never strayed away from structure and order. She could not handle being thrown into a situation that involved last minute detailing and abhorred things that were out of place. She was often buried in books of every genre and never gave much care to boys or even playing outside in the parks. Like her sister, however, she was very generous and also gave little value to worldly possessions as she gave them out freely and was always seen aiding those in need.
They were two peas in a pod, though polar opposites in the same sense. They clung to each other as if they were one and neither ever forsook the other throughout their entire lifetime together. On their eighteenth birthday, Aina and Irma had retreated to their secret hideaway, the two heartbroken by the fact that the time they would have to separate had come so quickly.
"This is it then," Aina said with a frown. "I can't believe it has finally come."
Irma smiled hesitantly as she again looked to the brochure in her hands. The Sanq kingdom was undoubtedly a gorgeous place and Irma was not at all disappointed by Aina's decision to relocate there.
"I'm sure you'll enjoy it there," Irma whispered meekly. Her hands shook despite the fact that she had tried so hard not to look depressed for Aina's sake. After all, this was her dream and Irma would never let her stay if it meant she was abandoning it.
Aina put a hand on her sister's, squeezing it softly as she too felt the same flurry of excitement mixed with sorrow.
"I know you don't like material things, hell I—
"Aina," Irma hissed at the hearing of the curse word to which Aina sheepishly grinned.
"Sorry Irma, I forget how squeamish you are about language. But, I got you something to remember me by." She pulled out a poorly made picture frame plastered with what looked to be much and hay. Irma had to stifle a little laugh as she took the gift but could not hold the tears as she looked at the picture Aina had decided to use.
It was a picture of Aina in the middle of a heated argument with a friend while Irma stood in between them trying to siphon off the fuel. It was a hilarious scene that had managed to capture both sisters in their natural states and Irma had prized it the most ever since Aina gave it her.
"That way you don't feel so bad that I'm gone," Aina remarked. "It means a lot less hassle…"
Irma lunged at Aina, trapping her in a bone-crushing hug. Aina couldn't help but laugh the two still in disbelief that they would now be traveling their own separate ways. Engaged still in a hug, Irma whispered feebly.
"Don't forget about me," she said.
The two released each other, Aina getting up as she heard a car traveling closer. Her boyfriend at the time was accompanying her on the voyage, Irma waving as they disappeared along the endless stretch of asphalt. She was hopeful in that moment, content that Aina was finally on her way.
To Be continued…
I finally got around to updating this! Yay! I am hoping to stay on a roll with this one and crank out the concluding chapters as it is getting very close to the end. Hope this was enjoyable since I do sometimes give less...I don't know...care? to this story but I do try, if that makes sense lol. I also think it would add to give Irma's story. At first I was going to include the whole thing in this chapter but I think it would be better to put it out in pieces and it gives me more time to tweak the rest of her history =]
Thank you guys for taking time to read and even more thanks for those who took the time to review! I sure do appreciate both readers and reviewers!
SmileyBasis: Thank you for your review! I really was surprised to get one from you XD but I'm glad you like this story even if it may not be my favorite to write ^^ And I hope you are still planning to continue your stories that far exceed anything I could ever write =]
Aurora of Moonblade: Lol I hope you didn't hate me too much for that last chapter ^^; and of course love is always welcomed! lol Hope you find this chapter as entertaining as the ones before!
IkariPanda: I'm relieved that the last chapter cleared up any confusion about the prior chapters and hope that I have not accidentally caused more confusion in this chapter. Ah the tangled web I always seem to weave lol. Anyhow, I know what you mean! Poor Trowa but I especially love writing his story though it is so painful! Hope you like this chapter!
Lita of Jupiter: Yup, Irma is definitely far more devious than she first appeared! And poor Makoto caught her attention. I'm not sure if I'll be adding more about Makoto and Trowa's parents but I guess I'll have to mull that over a bit in my head =) And yes, there were some visitors after all at the Sanq kingdom ;) lol always funny how you can guess what's coming next!
Oombala: After rereading all the chapters I have to say you're right. The last chapter did flow a lot better than the others and I think it might be because I actually enjoyed that one the most heh. I'm glad no one has said so far that nothing makes any sense lol because I often seem to think that and this story makes me the most anxious XD
Lady Light: Thank you for still liking it! I think I went back and put a line between the scene change in that last chapter after I read your review ^^; I sometimes forget to put in some time of visible break in between scenes so I appologize! I'm glad you were able to get through it though!
FlameingWings: I hope your questions were answered in this chapter! I always like to get questions in reviews because they sometimes help me outline what needs addressing and what I want to happen next, so I really appreciate them! Also, I'm happy the flash backs are making sense ^^
toowhiteprincess: lol he could have just dragged her away like some caveman but I don't think I would have done well in continuing it from that point XD I'm glad you liked the chapter!