Sailor Moon and associated characters/background were created by Naoko Takeuchi. No disrespect is intended in their use.
Version 3 - should be final version.
Emerald journals will be shown as usual( -#- )
Is it my destiny to be an assassin? Has Fate decreed that I live only so that I can make others die? Is this the sum total reason for my existence?
I still remember those times just before the Great Ice, when I was trying to act the hero. I still remember trying my hardest to fight the good fight, tried my best to be someone to look up to.
I remember failing.
There was always a distance between myself and the other fighters that I could not overcome. No matter how much I dressed myself up as something better, as something positive, there was always that nagging thought that it was all a sham.
I could teleport, yes, but only from shadows. I could draw energy from the elements, yes, but not as quickly as I could drain it from youma. I could fight in the open, yes, but never as effectively as when I struck from the shadows.
There was no getting around it. In a world of bright colours and short skirts, my powers stood me apart as something different, something darker. I remember always having my powers looked at with suspicion.
I ignored it, as best I can. My sister had spent months in convincing me to fight the good fight - I could not have borne to see her face if I had given it up. But for all that, after the events of the Great Ice, I remember afterwards how no one was ever very surprised that I became what I am. They expected it. I believe that they somehow think that it was my destiny.
Idiots. What you will become is not about what you are, or who you are, or who you are thought to be. My life, like anyone's life, has been a series of choices and consequences.
After the rebellion, it came down to this:
If I had done nothing, I would have lived - albeit in exile. If I fought the Senshi directly without allies, I would have died. And if I fought from the shadows, then one day it was possible that I might get my lucky shot and win. That, then, left me a clear choice - to do nothing, or to do what I can.
Destiny be damned. I choose to do what I can.
- Found by traders in a bundle of home-made paper in a ramshackle house near the old city of Rome in 2457.
Usagi had spent the majority of her life living in a densely populated metropolis. She was used to a constant level of background noise. The clacking of train tracks, the neighbour's radio, her brother's console games, even the snores of her father at night. Her occasional trips to nature - the hot springs or the snowfields - reverberated with the sounds of wind sighing through trees, of cicadas in the summer, the rhythmic clack of a traditional Japanese water pump, or the caw of crows.
She had never realised what silence truly was until this moment. The land around her was dead, grey dirt stretched in every direction. One look at the unnatural sky made it clear that this was not Earth. Besides this knight and her, there was no life here to make a sound. Her heart thumped in her chest, her eardrums throbbing with a rush of blood. But still, it was silent.
She gathered her courage, and looked up at the armoured man. Her voice managed to not crack as she stared at him and calmly replied, "I am not evil."
"Not yet, perhaps." The man allowed. "But I've seen the future. A choice is coming. Soon enough, you will be given the opportunity to take away all the negative energy on the entire planet."
"You can see the future?" She remembered Urawa, Ami's sort-of boyfriend, and nodded. "Okay. But that still doesn't sound very evil."
"Not at first glance, no. But a lot of good work has been done due to bad emotions. Have you ever looked at any of the great monuments - the pyramids, perhaps - and wondered why they were made? Or have you ever worked extra hard to pass a test? That's pride. It fuels the desire to do better and to leave your mark on the world."
Sailor Moon shook her head. "But there's nothing negative about feeling a little bit of justified pride."
"That's just it - there is no 'little' or 'lot' - when this sort of magic is involved there's only the choice of 'all' or 'nothing'. Either you take all of the pride, or you take none. And it doesn't stop there - have you ever wanted to improve yourself after seeing someone else do well? Have you ever dreamed of wearing something that you saw being worn in a catalogue? That's envy. It fuels the desire to improve yourself so you can be more of an equal to your peers."
He held up his hand when it looked like Sailor Moon was going to reply. "Even something as simple as eating ice-cream is a negative desire. Ice cream has no nutritional value, it does you no good to eat it. It's addictive and we still eat when we know it's bad for us. The only reason to have it is because it tastes good. That's self-indulgence." He buried his head in his hands for a moment, before growling. "Wait, scratch all that. That example was rubbish. Damn it, that sounded so much better in my head! I knew I should have written down what I was going to say!"
Sailor Moon blinked. The man was looking less and less like a knight, and less and less self-assured as he started berating himself. "I don't understand what you're saying. I'd never want to do something that would harm anyone. Why would I ever want to alter people's emotions?" Sailor Moon argued.
"I don't know why you are going to do it," the knight responded, falling out of his self-recrimination. "Right now, you seem like a good enough kid. But people can change in all sorts of ways. I don't know. Maybe the Ginzuisho corrupted you. Maybe your past life took you over. Maybe there's a side to you that you just don't want to see."
He shook his head. "I just don't know. But if you do what I saw, then don't you see? The human drive, the need to excel is tied to negative emotions. If you ever decide to take that away, humanity will languish. They'll have no drive or desire to do anything! Sailor Moon - just look at any one of your companions. Sailor Mars is proud and arrogant. If you took that away, you might think she'd be a better person. But you'd soon realise that she wasn't Sailor Mars any more. She'd be something else that's just wearing her body. A shadow of what she should be.
"We have to stop it now before it happens! Sailor Moon, please - we have to change what's to come." He knelt, offering his left arm to her. "I'm begging you! Please help me to stop the coming evil."
Sailor Moon looked up to the knight and his proffered hand. The words hadn't really made sense, but the desperation in his voice was easily apparent. "I-"
Silver light surrounded the girl. The man jumped back, arms crossed across his face. For a moment, he saw the ghostly image of a mature, silver-haired woman behind the girl, before light flared, and they were gone.
The crystalline armour dissolved into motes of energy as Emerald stared for a few moments at the spot where Sailor Moon had been. His shoulders slightly slumped and he muttered, "Typical."
Sailor Jupiter looked over at Sailor Mars as they searched the park for their leader. It didn't take a genius to realise that the Fire Senshi was feeling troubled.
"Rei, are you all right?"
"I'm fine," Sailor Mars muttered in an automatic response. Seeing the quiet disbelief on the Thunder Senshi's face, she sighed. "The last time I saw Emerald, he was being chased by Kunzite. I... don't think he got away. That youma general we faced tonight... I think... no, I'm pretty sure that it was him."
Jupiter blinked. "You don't mean..."
"Yes. I think the Dark Kingdom's caught and brainwashed him just like they did with Mamoru. And he's kidnapped Usagi."
"It's okay." Sailor Jupiter hesitantly put her hand on Sailor Mars's shoulder. "We'll get them both back."
Prince Demande glanced at the pale glow of the setting sun - one of the few things of even mild beauty on the harsh planet of Nemesis, before he walked into a small chapel-like building.
"Saphir, what are you doing here?"
Blue Saphir blinked, turning his attention away from a mural to his brother. "Is it time, then?"
Prince Demande nodded. "Yes. At last, after waiting so long, we are ready to attack Crystal Tokyo. I'm surprised you are not preparing as well."
"I was considering the past." Saphir pointed to the eight murals that covered the walls of the large room. Each mural depicted vaguely represented figures fighting against sailor suited women. Having been painted long after the original rebels' deaths, the painters had decided it would desecrate their memory if they guessed at how they looked - the faces, when they were painted at all, were left with only the broadest of features.
Demande walked up to his brother, looking up at the mural that had caught his brother's attention. The centrepiece of the room, and largest of the paintings, it showed the back of a black-clad man with long green hair. His right hand, glowing with energy, was pointed at two sailor-suited figures that lay prone at his feet. One of the figures was painted with a short sandy-blond hair, the other with wavy bluish-green hair. The man's left arm was shielding his face from the harsh glowing light of the woman floating before him - the Dread Queen Serenity.
"The tales say he was the last one standing," Saphir noted. "It is said that he outlasted them all. The legends say he was only moments from victory before Serenity took the field. They even say he escaped and may still be alive today."
"The legends are probably wrong," Demande replied.
"But what if they're not?"
"Then we will soon have a legend fighting on our side. Come, Saphir, let us go."
Sailor Moon looked around at what appeared to be ruins on the Moon's surface.
"My daughter, are you unharmed?" The silver-haired spirit looked at her with concern on her face. In her ghostly hands floated the Ginzuisho.
"Mother?" Sailor Moon whispered, her heart warming as if to confirm to her the woman's identity.
Queen Serenity nodded.
"Mother," Sailor Moon hesitated. "What that knight said... it didn't make any sense. I don't understand how he could have seen the future or how I could be the cause of something that would make him sound so desperate. Mother, am I destined to cause such pain?"
Sailor Venus looked behind a park bench. "Nothing here. That's the whole park." She turned to Sailor Mercury. "Have you found anything?"
Sailor Mercury looked up from her computer and shook her head. "The youma used a form of teleportation I've never seen before. I just don't have enough information to track him. I'm sorry."
Sailor Venus sighed. "Alright. We need to regroup with the others and-" She stopped, seeing a silver glow envelope herself and Sailor Mercury. "What's going on?"
"I think it's-" Sailor Mercury began, before they both disappeared.
Queen Serenity's spirit sighed. "Usagi, there will always be people who seek to sway you with words when they know they will fail to sway you with threats. This man is no different. He has lied so often that even he has trouble remembering the truth any more. My precious, sweet child. You must hold to the courage of your convictions, and forge forward. With your court by your side, you will always have the support to do what is right."
Sailor Moon turned, seeing the other Senshi appearing beside her, confused expressions on their faces.
"Remember the past so that you can forge a better future." The Senshi closed their eyes, memories of a long-ago ball filling their thoughts. "And know that this man has lied to you, Usagi. You must forget him and put your doubts aside, my girl."
The queen moved her hand, and the Ginzuisho floated down to Sailor Moon. Her crescent wand appeared, allowing the gem to reattach to the weapon. "Time has run out. The Dark Kingdom is preparing to invade the Earth. I can send you to where you need to be. Hold true, my daughter. Be brave, and hold true."
The Ginzuisho flashed, and the five girls were taken elsewhere.
Beryl's eyes widened as the Senshi materialised in the arctic plains, less than a kilometre from the dimensional entrance to the Dark Kingdom. Recovering quickly, she saw to it that five youma sisters were dispatched to intercept within a minute.
His eyes were closed, his body seated, his expression calm.
"You are even more pathetic than Beryl."
His eyes shot open at this. Floating in front of him was the ghost who had rescued Usagi. "Yes, well and whoever you are, you're dead," he replied. "And I know which of those two options I'd rather be. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm currently sifting through the dimensions trying to find someone."
"It is too late for that. I have sent the Senshi to where they are most needed."
His eyes narrowed. "What do you mean?"
"I have sent them to face their destiny. They will soon engage Beryl's forces."
"You what!? You sent those five inexperienced girls up against the army of the Dark Kingdom!?
The ghost regally nodded.
"You're insane! And you're lucky you're already dead or I'd rip you apart myself!"
"Why do you care?" she asked.
"Because it's my planet too, you sanctimonious cretin! My parents and my sister are still alive on that mudball and you've sent the girls with the best chance of saving them on a suicide mission! Besides using them to find Serenity, that's the other reason why I never tried to kill them - whether I like them or not, they do tend to save the world a lot! But you - you're unbelievable! You're just like her!"
"Neo-Queen Serenity, you pusillanimous imbecile! Always sending out others to do her dirty work. Always with that better-than-you attitude." He visibly stopped himself. "Enough. Thanks to your mind-numbing stupidity, I'll have to go on a killing spree."
His eyes closed, his mind going through the actions needed to bypass the teleportation eddies of this dimension, and he was gone.
The ghost turned to her companion, who had just materialised next to her. "That was a most unpleasant man. You were right, his buttons are rather easy to push."
"You are sure that provoking him was the best course?"
"Yes," Pluto affirmed. "I swore to you on your dying breaths, my queen, that my actions would be devoted to seeing your kingdom reborn. I swore that I would never endanger this future through any direct act of mine. As always, I remain true to that vow."
The spirit nodded, fading from view.
Kunzite frowned as he waited at the portal that led to the North Pole. Metallia had been confident that the Senshi would soon attack them, but still they were nowhere in sight. He bit off a growl of annoyance, contenting himself with thoughts of which attack to use when they arrived.
The advance spearhead of the Dark Kingdom invasion force gathered on the plains of their land, ready at last to retake Earth. Raucous laughter erupted as one or another beast told tales of what they would do once they were through the portal.
A swathe of energy shot through their ranks, disintegrating a dozen of the tightly packed monsters. The laughter died in a moment as the army turned as one to view the man facing them.
"I'll flay to the bones any of you who thinks you're taking one step through that portal!" the man shouted. "I didn't risk temporal annihilation just to let a party of throwback halfwits like you onto my planet. If nothing else, my sister would kill me if she found out that I let that happen! You have a choice - leave here or die."
"You! You can't escape us, spy," one of the youma hissed, grinning. "Not this time. There are some among us who can block teleportation. You're going to spend the rest of your life screaming in pain. You will learn the price of crossing the Dark Kingdom. You will only be the first of many once we conquer Earth."
"You bunch of mewling pissants," Emerald drawled in amusement. "Escape you? You just don't get it. You think you're the height of the monster kingdom? You're deluded enough to think you're special? You don't even compare to the toe-wart of some of the things I've faced - especially the Senshi. You don't realise just what it is I can do to you. Let me show you something." He held his hands out, palms up. After a moment, twenty small diamond-shaped crystals formed from nothing, standing in a little pyramid pile between his cupped hands. He stood there for a second, silent, before throwing the crystals into the air.
Hundreds of eyes followed the crystals' trails, widening when they saw the minerals crackle with energy, before transforming into large, threatening beasts. Each beast, vaguely feminine, landed around the man and surrounded him like a living shield.
"I've made quite a few improvements to their original design over the years," Emerald noted conversationally. "I never have much reason to create them any more, since the Senshi tear them apart like rice paper. But I think you'll find them to be sufficiently entertaining. Droids-"
The twenty monsters perked, facing their master.
"-oh, you know what to do," he said with a vague wave of his hand.
The twenty monsters grinned, each turning to face the surrounding swarm.
Screams of bloodlust and of agony ripped through the battlefield as the cacophony of war reverberated across the plain. Vision wavered as everywhere you turned there was the crackling of energy, the wake of ice and fire and electrical attacks, the snap of claw against bone.
"I can't remember the last time I was in a fun little fray like this," Emerald said conversationally to his crystal as he sidestepped a youma's attack. A jagged spike of crystal coalesced in his hand, before he used it to stab the attacker in the throat. As the youma died, he casually withdrew and then threw the spike with such force that it completely buried itself in the chest of another youma.
"Really?" He asked in surprise, grabbing the throat of an enemy and using it as a shield against several attacks until it disintegrated, then raising his hand and blasting away his attackers. "Has it been that long? I really didn't think that-"
He turned his head. The dimensional wall between Earth and the Dark Kingdom had frayed to the point where he could sense the auras near the connection point in the Arctic. "Was that... Jupiter?" He strained his senses. The droids, seeing their creator distracted, closed in and protected him from any attacker. After another minute, he felt it again. Another aura was being snuffed out of existence. "Mercury?"
He looked down at his crystal in confusion. "They're... dying? But how? I'm taking down the youma's army. What's left to take them out? Have I changed the past that much?"
He shook his head, his right hand pointing back and unleashing an energy blast that disintegrated a group of youma that had been sneaking up on him. "Alright. Something's going very wrong here. Droids!"
The fifteen surviving monstrous automatons perked their ears.
"No delays! Wipe them out. Now!"
The droids returned to the battle with increased fervour as he raised his arms and begun sucking energy from the opposing throng.
His face was grim as he held aloft the last of the youma, its body falling to dust as he drained its energy. For a moment his body glowed as he adjusted to the increased energy. He was still not as powerful as he had been before he returned to the past, but he was getting close. Even Serenity shouldn't be able to stop him now - at least not with her current level of skill.
The man looked at the 5 remaining droids. Each was heavily scarred by battle. Two were barely alive at all - if their existence could be called life.
"Thank you," he said with a nod. The droids bowed, then shrunk back into small crystals. He bent down, took the crystals, and stared at them as they dissolved into motes of light.
With that, he glanced up, and teleported to the last of the Senshi's auras that he felt disappear.
He looked down at the lifeless, entombed body, not even noticing the cold wind that was biting into him.
"Damn it, Mars. How could you let yourself die like this? You're supposed to be stronger than this. You're supposed to be more. I was supposed to be the one who killed-"
Feeling the wisps of energy, he glanced up. "-anything that threatened you," he rapidly amended as he looked at Sailor Mars's spirit. Her ghost looked back at him, a slightly sad expression on her face. For a moment, he considered changing back to what he'd originally intended to say. The girl was dead - she probably deserved the truth.
He looked down again to the entombed girl. She was no more than fifteen years old and here she was, dead and gone, and probably no one would ever know the circumstances to properly mourn her. He despised what she helped create, but she wasn't that girl just yet. She never would be now. To hell with the truth. He'd won - he'd outlasted her. Hurting her any further would just be petty.
He looked up at the spirit. "You deserved better than this, Rei. You deserved to go down fighting against a hundred or a thousand enemies. You deserved an end so epic that its legend would have to be written across the stars. You deserved more than being entombed like this - in this... ice."
"How touching. If you like her so much, you're welcome to join her. Although I doubt your death could be as pathetic as hers was."
Emerald turned to see Kunzite, his expression cold. "Mind your mouth, you miserable vermin. She was twenty times the fighter you ever were."
"I very much doubt that," Kunzite replied. "Although it was curious that they somehow snuck past me. Still, killing you might make up for missing my chance with them." He concentrated, his arms gesturing as he shot four energy boomerangs at the other man.
Quickly twisting, Emerald managed to manoeuvre to avoid being hit all of the energy boomerangs. With a snarl he brought both arms up and unleashed an unholy torrent of power. Kunzite's eyes widened as he felt his shield buckle in seconds. 'What are you?' he thought, his shields collapsing and his lungs burning away before he ever got a chance to say it.
"Do you understand now, Kunzite? Despite your power, you're nothing compared to her. That's the level of power that Mars was capable of. Oh, nothing to say?" Emerald wondered as the Dark General faded into oblivion. "I would have expected at least one last comeback."
Behind him the four energy boomerangs completed their return arc, slicing into Emerald's back with enough force to leave the edges jutting out from his chest. With the last of the energy imbued by the Dark General gone, the boomerangs faded into nothing, leaving only the wounds behind.
"Touché," Emerald gasped before falling to the ground.
The spirit of Sailor Mars looked down at the fallen man, her eyes taking in his terrible wounds. She took a step forward, then stopped. Her head turned, feeling a call. She disappeared as she realised that her princess needed her.
He opened his eyes, feeling the torrent of magic that was being cast nearby. With a grunt of effort, he dragged himself to a snow embankment. Leaning over that, he watched the last moments of Serenity facing some sort of huge creature - the auras seemed to be a mix of Beryl's and the Metallia creature.
He watched in that moment as the monstrous giant was destroyed. He saw Serenity fall. His senses saw her aura dim and die. He pushed himself onto his back, his eyes staring at the sky.
"Does this mean that I won? Just like that? Is... is Serenity dead?"
Tears slowly leaked from his eyes at the thought. After a few seconds, he choked off a sob. "She's dead." The tears started to flow faster. "She's... dead."
The biting arctic wind began to freeze his tears, but he managed to ignore the sensation. "Thank the gods, she's actually dead!"
He chuckled, and started to laugh. The laugh didn't last long before his injuries flared, and he passed out.
Nearby, Sailor Mars's body was enveloped in red energy. It rose, then disappeared as the Senshi were reborn.
In the middle of an ice field, some eighty kilometres from the North Pole, a broken body of a broken man lay unmoving against a small snowdrift.
He'd won. There was nothing left to do. The world could now go on as it liked. So was there any real point in going on? After all, with Serenity dead, he could-
His eyes shot open, realisation shooting through him. "Hold on..."
The clunk of a metal staff against the ice distracted him from an epiphany.
"Pluto." He didn't raise his head.
"Emerald," she murmured with a small nod.
"Come to kill me then?"
Her grim expression was her only answer.
"Thought so. I get that a lot," he noted before chuckling. "Sorry that wasn't really very funny." When she didn't respond, he forged on. "Oh - you'd probably know. Out of curiosity, can you remind me what my real name was?"
Sailor Pluto hesitated for a moment, then answered. "Your birth-name was Yukio."
"Really?" Emerald blinked. "Huh. Well that was a bit boring. No wonder I forgot it."
Pluto shook her head. "Enough. I'm here to finish this."
"Well of course you are," he agreed as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. "I'm surprised it took you so long."
She cut him off. "There was no need to hurry. Despite your attempt, nothing has changed. Nothing of significance, anyway. All of those youma you just killed? They would have died anyway. Your attempt to sway Sailor Moon? Wasn't even worth trying. Your entire life? Barely worth noting. And do you know what the funniest thing is?
"If you had left in exile after the rebellion, you would have found a way to link with the energy of the planet Nemesis and become supremely powerful. If you had only waited another fifty years before travelling to the past, you would have met the descendants of your rebellion and inspired them to a complete and total victory. Either way, you would have won."
He raised his eyebrows as if to say 'I really don't believe you'.
Her eyes narrowed. "But then, every time you come close to winning, you manage to shoot yourself in the foot. I've waited centuries to tell you this." She leaned over and whispered in his ear, "You lose. As always. For all your posturing and your woe-is-me journals, nothing you ever do really makes a difference. You will never win, Yukio."
He saw her eyes widen as she heard him chuckle in response.
"Ah, Pluto." He coughed for a moment, winced, then continued. "You don't get it. I don't have to win. All I really have to do is to see you lose."
Pluto stepped back as she felt a creeping lethargy move through her body. Her steps faltered, her power and strength dropping from the power drain that he was holding on her.
Emerald pushed himself up, his wounds visibly sealing and healing as he stole her energy. His eyes locked on hers, and he smiled mirthlessly. "All of the other Senshi fought me several times before they learned how to block my drain. They covered each other for those first few fights. But I've never directly fought you before, have I? Come on Pluto, you should have known better than this! In the future I've survived far worse than the damage I took from Kunzite. I halfway can't believe that you fell for it. Why attack me now, after so long?"
"I have no choice but to act," Pluto gasped. "With your attention now off the Senshi, you pose a threat to Crystal Tokyo. Dead Scream."
The attack splattered against his energy shield, clearly not taking him off guard.
"This is impossible," she muttered, feeling her strength sap away as more energy drained from her. "I should have seen this."
"Probably," he agreed. "I don't know if your reputation is deserved or overinflated. But I guess I will have to take the risk that you didn't and that you aren't acting. I'll let you in on a secret." He rose his left hand, allowing green energy to coruscate from his palm. Pluto slammed to the ground as his attack struck her in the stomach. "I didn't jump into the past with just a hope and a prayer that you wouldn't stop me. In fact, I was planning on you attacking me. Without you I had to waste months getting back enough power, and without you I couldn't attempt what I am about to do."
He blinked. "Wait. I'm gloating. That's always a good way to die. Better get on with it, then." Emerald set his legs and spread his arms. Energy began to build around him as he drew his power. The gem on his necklace glowed, seeming to add its own energies to the build-up.
"Dead Scream." It was harder to focus the energy this time, and again it shattered harmlessly against his shield. Worse yet, he was still draining energy from her. She made a motion with her Key to open an escape portal, but nothing happened.
"Most of your power is tied to Time, isn't it?" he noted conversationally, his hands starting to trace a complex pattern in the air. "Did you know that I can draw energy from Time, just as I can with the elements? It's how I was able to pierce the Time Barrier in the first place. You'll find that causality is currently too unstable around us to open a Portal."
"What are you doing?" Her voice was barely above a whisper; she struggled just to look up at him. Her hands were barely holding her kneeling form off the ground.
"I just felt the Senshi die," he noted. "But then again, I also felt Sailor Moon die just before the Great Ice. As I was lying there after Serenity's death, I had an epiphany. 'Fool me once' - isn't that the saying? And you just confirmed it. Nothing changed, you said. But the Senshi are dead - undoubtedly and undeniably. It seems more than likely then that they somehow have a way of coming back from death. But if that's true, then there's no point in my trying to kill Serenity. She'd just come back.
"Now that you've decided to show your hand, it occurs to me that I cannot afford to wait any longer for other solutions to present themselves. If I try to confront Serenity again, it's possible that you, or another person acting as Sailor Pluto, or even another version of you from another part of the timeline might be able to stop me. That means I must act now while you can't ambush me. So, I suppose I will have to go with Plan D."
"D?" A moment after her question, her arms buckled and she collapsed, leaving her to lie on the cold snow.
He nodded, but he never stopped drawing energy. "If I can't kill Serenity - my preferred plan A, or convince her to change the future - my fallback plan B, or somehow destroy the Ginzuisho - my unlikely plan C, then I have to ensure she can never do the one thing that started this whole mess." His eyes narrowed. "My pyrrhic plan D - stop the Purification."
"You can't," she whispered.
"Yes, I think I can," he responded with confidence as his hands made several jabbing motions to punctuate some of the hazy glowing green sigils he was drawing around him. "Thanks to your energy. I worked it out a long, long time ago. I can cast... an Anti-Purification."
"No. You can't. You don't know what it-"
"Oh, I can guess. Of course, doing this will almost certainly use all of my magic, which means that I cannot protect myself from a time paradox. That'll probably wipe me from existence. But not even a paradox will wipe out the outcome. Not when I'm using the powers of the Time Senshi to do it."
Emerald shook his head. "To be honest, I'd hoped to kill Serenity without having to try this. If this fails, I'll have no way of enacting plans E, F, or G. It's a pity, I really liked plan G. But as I said, it doesn't matter whether I lose, as long as your side does too. I'm tired of this endless fight, Pluto. I'm tired of being beaten down again and again and having to find the conviction in myself to return once more to the fight. At this stage of my life, I think even a pyrrhic victory is enough of a victory for me." The hazy sigils were beginning to sharpen in form as his hands began sketched the final symbols needed.
"Oh, and Pluto?" He looked at her as she struggled to bring her Time Key up for one last attack. "You lose."
With one last flourish, his hands completed the last of the sigils, and his power exploded towards the sky.
If I were asked to list the worst thing about being immortal, I would have to hesitate in my answer. Once, I might have thought that it was the ennui - the crushing boredom of life never-ending. Or the hubris - there can be no doubt of an immortal's over-weaning arrogance and the problems that it brings. But if I were to search in my soul of souls for an honest answer, I would have to say that there is nothing worse for an immortal than one thing:
Guilt. Regret can haunt you forever.
I have had countless crawling years to analyse my various failures. Chief amongst them, and my worst crime of all, was the realisation that I could have actually stopped it.
I could have stopped the Purification.
Not through the rebellion, which was perhaps doomed from its conception, but through my own powers. I could have actually made it so that Serenity could never have done it. In my own defence, I did not understand the relationship between my powers and hers until decades after she purified the world. I still remember the creeping horror I felt as I slowly came to a gradual understanding of what I could have done.
My power and Serenity's lie at opposite sides of the magical spectrum. Whenever they interact, they act much like matter and anti-matter, causing painful and explosive magical backlashes.
This, then, leads to the question: what if I had bathed the planet and its people in MY energy BEFORE Serenity had performed her Purification? What if I had performed some sort of Anti-Purification? The answer, I feel, is obvious.
The Purification would have failed. Crystal Tokyo would never have been possible in its current form. I would have won without a single drop of blood being shed.
It's too late now. While my energy could have ensured that a Purification was impossible, I cannot attempt it any more. I have no power to change men's minds. If I did, it would be a power that I would not dare use, for fear of falling to the same mistakes that Serenity did. No, humanity has been irrevocably changed, and I can no longer change it back.
I know that in truth I could not have stopped the Purification. I know that I would have needed the control over my power that I now have. I know that I would have needed more energy than I had at that time. I know that I did not understand my powers well enough back then to have succeeded.
Yet still, the guilt gnaws. Forever. Or until I die.
That is what it is, to be immortal.
- Retrieved from personal effects left behind after Mars pursued Emerald to a former hotel in the Caribbean in 2781.
Across the world, thousands of millions of people saw the world change. Burning bright emerald light spread across the sky, coming from the North to the South,
stretching East and West as it spread almost too fast for the eye to see. Ten time zones saw their night skies erupt into a pseudo-day. Well over a billion were woken as the light permeated every surface and through every barrier, shining brighter than day.
As the light blanketed the planet, green motes fell from the energy curtain, floating like light snow. Each mote travelled through brick and steel and concrete like it was not there, only stopping when it was absorbed by either the Earth or by a living creature.
Thousands of television cameras captured the phenomenon in a multitude of spots around the globe. For a couple of days, at least, this would be headline news. Experts' theories would hatch and breed and grow, and then die as time - as with most old news - let people grow disinterested.
In the wilds of a Japanese forest, six youma looked to the skies, their astonishment slowly turning to awe at the feeling of the energy above them.
In Tokyo, two cats - one black and one white - looked at each other, their worried expressions mirroring each other as the light illuminated their faces.
A young blonde girl, her memories still clouded from minutes-ago rebirth, woke screaming. Her eyes were wide, as she felt - without being able to explain it - that something had just gone horribly wrong.
A temple maiden frowned, leaning out of her bedroom window. Her psychic abilities stunted by her recent rebirth, she was not sure how and why she was feeling so angry and so sad at the same time. With a shake of her head, she wiped her eyes, before looking out at the light again.
In Osaka, a boy stared at the sky's display, confused at how familiar the green energy felt. He held out a hand, allowing some of the light motes to touch it. For a moment, his brown eyes flashed green, before he shook his head and returned home.
"Glorious!" he shouted, his power pumping into the atmosphere through his outstretched hands. His gaze turned from the sky to his crystal, which was floating in front of him. "Is it working?"
The crystal pulsed.
"That's what I wanted to hear!" Emerald shouted, turning his gaze back to the sky. "I can't believe it! I've done it! Ha haa! I've won! I've actually gone and won!"
After a few more moments, his energy fluctuated as he felt his body tremor. Instead of passing, the tremors got worse until his whole body began to shake.
"Oh. Well," he said as his eyes turned once again to his crystal, "looks like I was right about not having the energy left to fight that paradox." The last of his energy burst from his fingertips, and with that he collapsed to his knees, still wildly shaking. He looked up at his crystal, a slight smile on his lips. "You know, the truest friend is the one who helps you become something more."
He could feel existence slip away, his body beginning to fade from temporal reality. As quickly as he could, he forced out, "Thank you, my friend. You made me into something... so much more."
As he faded into nothing, his smile widened when he heard the crystal reply, words pulsing in his mind.
Goodbye, my friend.
Sailor Pluto slowly opened her eyes. She could feel the cold seeping through her limbs. Every breath felt like hundreds of tiny daggers were stabbing into her lungs. With a shuddering gasp, she forced herself to stand, using her Time Key as a crutch.
Her eyes scanned the skies. Already the light was fading as the man's power dissipated. Her lips quirked into a grim smile as she shakily raised her staff to create a portal.
Her exhausted voice was barely a croak, but she still managed to force the words. "Well done, Yukio; I lost. But there was something you never did learn. Sometimes losing is winning."
With a sigh, she gathered her remaining strength. Closing her eyes, she added, "If you knew your original fate, I think you would have thanked me." She shook her head. "You took too damn long to get this done." With that, she was gone.
"Pluto! There you are." Mars walked into the Time Senshi's personal quarters in Crystal Tokyo's palace. "I've been searching for you." She blinked, noting how haggard her fellow Senshi looked. "Are you alright?"
Pluto dismissively waved an exhausted hand. "I'll be fine once I get some rest. It was a necessary sacrifice." Her tired voice was barely a whisper. "Do you know, it took me thousands of manipulations over thousands of years, but I did it." Pluto raised her hands in a 'look around you' gesture. "I did it. Through my actions, Crystal Tokyo was born. It was due to me that this future came to pass."
Mars blinked. "Yes, that's... great. What's your point?"
"Oh, no point. Just thinking about past actions. Tell me, Rei, have you ever striven to gain something, only to realise only after you got it that it wasn't what you thought it was?"
Mars nodded. She hesitated, then asked "Are you sure you're alright?" She shook her head. "Wait, there's no time for that. You have to listen to me. I'm worried that Emerald might have found a way to pierce the time barrier."
Pluto raised her hand in a 'wait' gesture. "Come with me." She turned, and walked around a corner.
Mars stood there for a moment, her mouth tightening at being talked to so dismissively, before she followed the Time Senshi. After she rounded the corner, her sure stride skittered to a halt. Pluto was standing on her private balcony, but it was what was beyond her that made the Fire Senshi pause.
"What is that?" Mars's voice was tinged with horror. Beyond the balcony, beyond a dome of shimmering energy that Pluto had cast, where a crystal city of millions should have stood, there was only darkness. Her stomach began to churn as she realised that she could no longer feel a connection to her queen, or to any other Senshi besides Pluto.
"It is Nothing. In the most strict sense of that word." Pluto sighed, staring out through the dome of energy she was maintaining to keep the chronal entropy at bay. "Through no act of my own, the timeline has changed and this one is no longer sustainable. I cannot hold this off for long - I simply don't have the spare energy right now. I am sorry Rei. You were right. He did pierce the barrier, eventually. He should have managed it centuries ago. I thought that you should know you were right, before the end."
Mars's eyes narrowed as she looked at the green-haired Senshi. "What have you done?" she hissed as fire formed around her, blazing with her anger.
Pluto met her gaze. "I did nothing, Mars. Absolutely nothing." She raised her Time Key, before adding, "That was the whole point."
A moment after Pluto disappeared back to the Time Gates, the dome that was holding back the entropy flickered, then collapsed.
"Damn it all," Mars muttered, closing her eyes and letting her flames extinguish as Nothing washed over her.
Author Notes: Well, that is that. Thanks to my huge hiatus, it took around 10 years to complete this fic. Thanks go out to all the reviewers both now and in the past.
You might have noticed that a lot of loose ends weren't tied up. Neo-queen Serenity was never, ever directly shown to ensure that there would always be doubt over what happened - Pluto's motivations aside. That was deliberate. In order to write the fic, I worked out what Emerald's crystal was (and why it hated Beryl), what exactly happened before, during, and after the Great Ice, Pluto's full motivations, and so on. I didn't cover a lot of that because it was extraneous to the plot, but mentioning them made the story-world seem bigger/more real. Also, I felt that placing the full explanation within this story would have damaged the story flow. When the story was originally planned, a sequel was mapped out to explain what really happened - at this stage I'm not sure if I'll do that sequel, or move onto other projects.
Yukio stared in anger as the oni burst into flames. Letting the crystals that formed his helmet and armour dissolve, he turned to the Senshi in fury. "Hey, that was my fight!"
His teeth gritted as he fumed. Stupid sister making him wear this stupid armour so he could live out her stupid dreams of being a stupid Senshi just because he had these stupid powers. He was eighteen years old, damn it! How did he let himself be talked into playing her stupid superhero game? And then when he finally found something to fight, he doesn't even get 20 seconds with it before someone butts in and takes the creature down!
"What are you talking about?" The dark-haired Senshi walked towards him. "You were way outclass-" She gasped as she drew close enough to see him clearly. "It can't be!"
"What?" Yukio looked around him to see if there was something behind him. His green hair flew around, reminding him that he needed to get a haircut.
"It's been four years..." the Senshi breathed. "We thought you died with the Dark Kingdom!"
"With the what?"
Sailor Mars stepped up to him and slapped him across the face. Before he could react to that, she hugged him. "Don't ever do that again," she muttered.
Yukio blinked, then blinked again, still too confused to be angry over the slap. He looked down at the total stranger who was hugging him, his all-green eyes wide, before he shouted out, "Damn it all, what the hell is going on here!?"