THE END OF EDEN
Chapter 1: "Desperation's Gambit"
A Sailor Moon fanfic
By Bill K., based on the writings of Naoko Takeuchi
Sailor Moon and all related characters are (c)2007 by Naoko Takeuchi/Kodansha and Toei Animation and are used without permission, but with respect. Story is (c)2007 by Bill K.
This story refers to events in my previous chapter story "Violence And Corruption".
Deep within the bowels of the Earth, far beneath the point where any life existed or could possibly exist, a woman sat on a granite throne. Once she had been comely, in a serpentine fashion. But now her thick brown hair was dull and lifeless, her serpent's eyes lined and listless. Her reddish skin was haggard and leathery, and her wiry, womanly figure sagged within the sleeveless green silk dress with twin red dragons embroidered upon the front. The woman stared out ahead of her at nothing, clearly wan and in pain. Her breath was labored. Her energy was gone. Her regal bearing was broken.
The brush of a foot on the cavern floor caught the woman's flagging attention. She turned with some effort and looked at her visitor. Her visitor, an obsidian creature in the shape of a lithe female, possessing long flowing silver hair and a featureless face save for two glowing eyes, knelt in supplication before the woman on the throne. Her head bowed and her hands extended upward toward the seated woman.
"Oh great Talon Umbra," the creature said with no lips to form speech, "I beseech you! Have you not suffered enough? Will you not take action against your enemies and become again she who is anger and suffering upon the world above?"
A wan smile worked its way onto Talon Umbra's withered face.
"What would you have me do, Tygos, that I have not done already in the four hundred years since my defeat?" she asked. It seemed like responding was a herculean task for her.
"Send me to Earth, My Mother," Tygos pleaded. "I will go there and I will defeat your enemy! I will bring you Queen Serenity's beating heart for you to devour and grow strong upon! I will lay waste to her minions! I will sow bloody vengeance upon the pestilence hole that is Crystal Tokyo for turning away from you and robbing you of your glory! I . . .!"
"Tygos," Talon Umbra exhaled. "Are you so arrogant that you think you may succeed where even I have failed? Serenity destroyed me once, when she was known as Sailor Moon. And now her brilliance has robbed me of the rancor and hatred I grow strong upon. Her influence upon the people of Earth has enriched her even as it has stunted my rebirth." Talon Umbra drew a pained breath. "I fear - - she may win before too long. She has become that powerful. And you think you may slay her where even I could not?"
Tygos looked down in frustration.
"But My Sire, it pains me to see you broken and dying like this! I am your blunt instrument! I am your weapon of chaos and destruction! But I cannot aid your glory if I remain sheathed! Let me strike in your name! Even if your enemy strikes me down, I vow I will not go down lightly! I will exact such a terrible cost before my heart beats its last that your enemy will be weakened and ripe for the picking! Please, My Sire! Let me draw the first blood in your terrible name!"
"It would be a futile gesture," Talon Umbra whispered, her concentration flagging. "No, the wisest course is to wait for an opportunity to seize rather than lash out in blindness and futility."
"And if you wait too long?" Tygos asked.
Talon Umbra looked up to her with fondness and resignation.
"Then I will die the death that knows no resurrection," she whispered. "It will be an interesting experience." The serpentine woman drew in another ragged breath. "This one is not like the others. She has proven to be a formidable opponent. I have come to realize that I could very well lose the eternal battle to her."
She seemed about to say more, but stopped suddenly. Tygos watched in guarded anticipation as Talon Umbra raised a shaky hand to her face. Cupped in the hand was an image from Earth. It was an infant newly born. He was an ordinary human, drab, bent, homely. To Tygos, he seemed even more wretched and loathsome than the rest. But Talon Umbra watched him with keen interest. Tygos felt a presence near her and turned to find her sister, Tenera, by her shoulder.
"You sensed it, too?" Tygos asked Tenera wordlessly, with gestures and body language. Tenera communicated her assent.
"What is it, Mother of us all?" Tenera asked, kneeling before her and bowing in supplication.
"A spark," Talon Umbra said, her concentration fully on the image of the infant in her hand. "A tiny pinpoint that, with the proper nudge, could develop into the opportunity I have waited for."
She studied the child even more intently as he seemed to grow from infant to young boy in her hand, marking the passage of time on Earth, and as she did she began to smile.
"Yes," she hissed with elation and more energy than she'd demonstrated in eons. "This is the seed. Properly nurtured, this seed's branches will someday mean your end, Serenity."
Tygos and Tenera watched her, thrilling to the sight of life in the eyes of their mistress once again.
On a balcony in the palace of Crystal Tokyo, overlooking the glittering city below, stood Queen Serenity. Night had fallen on this quiet, warm day in early summer. The humidity of summer had temporarily abated, allowing the weather control satellites a day off. The soft breeze of that late June evening wafted over the balcony, lightly tickling the folds of Serenity's floor length white gown and gently moving the twin trails of blonde hair extending down from her head.
The evening was peaceful, as most evenings were now in Crystal Tokyo. The noise of mechanized traffic had been replaced by the quiet hum of crystal fusion power. The shrill light of eons past from the retail districts had been replaced by a muted krypton-argon light process that allowed the stars to shine brilliantly from above. Most importantly, the silent aura of fear and anger that once permeated the nighttime was gone. Few were old enough to remember when Crystal Tokyo was anything but a paradise of goodwill. Among those who did were the Royal Family and their court, the Sailor Senshi. But it was through their work and good graces, Queen Serenity's most of all, that Crystal Tokyo knew the peace and freedom from avarice, hatred and want that they now had.
As dusk fell completely and turned into night, cheers and singing rose up from the city. Serenity heard it, distantly, but paid it no attention. Instead, she gazed up at the stars longingly.
From behind her, a girl entered the room connected with the balcony. She was eleven, two years from blooming into the first glimpse of womanhood. The child had long, straight,silken black hair, a face that one might almost describe as somber, and the largest, most sensitive brown eyes ever seen on a child. Bangs fell haphazardly into the eyes and over her forehead. She wore a breathable polymer blouse of blue with black synthetic cotton jeans. Spying the Queen on the balcony, the child walked over.
"You don't seem to be having a very happy birthday, Usagi-Mama," the child said. Serenity turned from her star gazing to the child. The monarch tried to force a smile onto her face, but as usual proved to be a terrible actress. "Didn't you like your presents?"
"Oh, Yoko-chan," Serenity sighed, bending down to the girl who was even now nearly as tall as she was and hugging her. "I liked my presents fine - - especially the one you gave me. And at my age, I've seen so much that the thought is more important than the gift anyway. After all, I am - - um, four hundred and twelve."
"Four eighteen," Yoko corrected with a malicious smile.
"You don't have to be so smart," Usagi replied, giving her a playful pout. The pout faded, though, into melancholy. "I guess I'm just - - I don't know."
"You were hoping Aunt Michiru and Uncle Haruka would be here," Yoko surmised. "I kind of wish they'd come, too."
The pair looked up at the heavens together.
"Why did they have to go?" Yoko asked.
"Because exploration of space has given us many wonderful contacts with other planets and other peoples," explained Serenity. "And it's given us many scientific breakthroughs. And since they don't age, Haruka and Michiru felt they were best suited for long-range missions. It was only logical. That's what your Aunt Ami told me and I learned long ago to trust your Aunt Ami."
Yoko had heard this explanation before, but it didn't make any more sense now than it had in the past.
"And," Serenity continued, some emotion creeping into her voice, "they felt they couldn't turn away from the challenge. They felt there was nothing left for them to accomplish on Earth. The decades of peace, here in Japan and around the world, left them with nothing to strive against - - nothing to defeat." She sighed, trying to remain upbeat. "Peace is a wonderful thing, Yoko-chan, don't ever think otherwise. But to some people, too much peace is a slow death. I wanted them to stay, but they wanted something else - - and we have to respect that."
"Even if it hurts other people?" Yoko asked. Serenity looked down at her inquiringly. "Like you."
"Oh, Yoko-chan," Serenity misted up. "It's not that big of a hurt. As long as I've got you and your brothers and sisters and Endymion, I'll be fine. Plus I've got your aunts and a whole city full of people to love. We can spare Haruka and Michiru to follow their passions. I'm just being selfish."
She caught the girl's hand and turned back to the balcony door.
"Come on," Serenity told her. "That's enough wishing for tonight. Let's go back inside. I think there's still some of my birthday cake left."
"Mama, you had three pieces," Yoko sighed in exasperation.
"I'm sorry I ever taught you how to count now," Serenity fussed.
"Actually, Aunt Ami taught me how to count," Yoko replied.
The icy glare she received from her step-mother served after a few moments to melt Yoko's confident smirk. The pair both dissolved into giggles as they passed through the door of the room and into the hall.
Amid the cheers and singing and general merriment of the city of Crystal Tokyo, awash in celebrating the unofficial but traditional holiday observance of Queen Serenity's birthday,Danguro Fujita shuffled home. There was a scowl on his face, deep and dark and terribly foreboding to any who might glance at him. He brushed past revelers brusquely, without stopping or acknowledging them. Some stared after him, wondering why he wasn't happy on this, the happiest day of the year on the Japanese calendar?
Danguro ignored them. He had never been one to celebrate Serenity Day. Danguro had always thought of Queen Serenity and King Endymion as hypocrites. They spoke of peace and harmony from their lofty thrones of privilege, never once having to work or strive or suffer. They never had their ideas ignored, their shining potential wasted, their dreams crushed by lack of opportunity. That was Danguro's life. Despite the Royal Family's overt attention to social programs that provided everyone with a home, a job and medical care simply for being citizens of Japan, Danguro yearned for more. He yearned for recognition, for himself and his ideas. He yearned to lead a grateful public like Endymion and Serenity did.
But it would never happen. No one took him seriously. No one could see the genius that lay within him. And even if they did, Endymion and Serenity ruled by acclimation. And should they ever die, the throne would pass to their child by right of birth and ascension. He believed that was why the childless Serenity kept taking in orphans under the pretense of charity. She needed successors should she finally manage to die. The throne of Crystal Tokyo could never be his. Some foundling that Serenity took pity on had a better shot at succeeding her than he did.
The door to Danguro's crystal dwelling hissed shut behind him. He sagged back against the barrier. And it would never happen regardless. Not since the news he'd received hours ago from his healthcare physician. He had Lateral Radiation Toxicity. The diagnosis was confirmed. There was no mistake - - and no cure. Danguro Fujita had anywhere from six weeks to six months left.
Queen Serenity had four hundred and eighteen years on this earth and showed no signs of slowing up. The city cheered. He'd only had forty-one.
And for a moment, it seemed like the city was cheering that, too. Danguro's fist slammed back and struck the Plastoid-Fiber door.
Dropping his shoes on the stoop, Danguro shuffled into the dark abode. Sensing his arrival, the lights came up to a pre-programmed level. He passed his entertainment hub without stopping. Neither vid-streams nor music files interested him. His preoccupied path took him into the kitchen. Danguro paused for a moment, then sighed in resignation.
"Grilled salmon, steamed rice," he told the food preparation unit. Obediently the unit removed the requested items from refrigeration and began preparing them according to programmed recipes. Danguro tried to mount some enthusiasm. After all, he had to eat.
The thought came unbidden and out of the blue. Why? Why did he have to eat if he was only going to die in six weeks? LRT was such an insidious condition. The victim was fine right up until the end, not knowing the effect the toxic radiation levels were having on the red corpuscles inside. Then, suddenly, the corpuscles began multiplying geometrically until the entire blood stream was choked with them. Unable to move, the victim underwent a massive stroke and simultaneous heart failure, dropping dead on the spot in agonizing pain. No cure had been found and any treatment attempted only prolonged the final agony. It was beyond even the fantastic power of "the great Queen Serenity" to alter.
So why, Danguro thought, should he keep prolonging a life that was destined to end so suddenly and so horribly? Why not end it now? Suicide had been an alternative taken by more than a few LRT patients. Given the historical tradition of suicide in Japanese culture, some had seen it as an honorable alternative to the predicted end.
The food preparation unit signaled that Danguro's meal was ready. With little relish, he removed it and sat at the table he'd shared with no one since leaving his parent's home at nineteen. That was another mark in the column of taking his own life now. Who was there to live for besides himself? The only woman who had ever cared for him in his forty-one years on Earth was his mother. He had always been attracted to women, but had always been rebuffed by them. He wasn't considered attractive by them. He wasn't considered charming. Apparently he wasn't seen as good breeding material. He had no particular sense of humor. He had no large amounts of wealth, thanks to King Endymion's society of equality, nor any particular position of status. So he was alone.
His first bite barely registered on his taste buds. His second was forced into his mouth. The third dangled in his hand, then dropped softly to the plate. This was paradise? Sure, there was no war, no want. Avarice and hatred were considered sins in this perfect society. And yet,there he sat, alone and dying, with no one to care and no one to mourn him but his parents. And Danguro felt rage. He felt anger. He felt naked loathing for the society that ignored him, that refused to acknowledge the unfairness of his life and that would little care about his imminent passing. And he felt hatred for Queen Serenity most of all, for this was all her responsibility. She had led Japan and the world to this spot in history, through her clever lies about peace and harmony, of good will to all and all that. She stood like a silver beacon in the midst of his world, mocking him with her promises of utopia that were all lies.
A sudden, angry motion launched the plate across the room. It and his dinner impacted with the far wall, then clattered to the floor. Instantly, small maintenance robots activated and emerged from their storage compartments in the baseboard. They glided along the floor on miniature compressed air propulsion and converged on the mess. Like scurrying mice, several of the units ingested the spilled food, then returned to their storage cubicles to dispose of the waste in the dwelling's disposal system. The rest carried the undamaged plate to the cleaning receptacle to be dealt with. Once their job was done, they returned to storage.
Danguro ignored it all. Instead he brooded. Oh, how he wished he could make everyone on Earth, could make life in general pay for ferrying him to this desolate point in his existence. But he couldn't. He had no way. There were too many to be made to pay and he had so little time. He glanced up at the ceiling, looking for something to affix a noose to. Better to end it all now. The defiant act of suicide in the face of terminal illness was the only realistic option left to him.
Just then his communications port signaled an incoming communication. Danguro read the display and saw it was a doctor, but he didn't recognize the name. Perhaps there had been a mistake in the diagnosis? Probably just another doctor trying to get him into a treatment facility so he could "expire with dignity". For a moment he wanted to ignore it, but the faint hope of a reprieve kept tempting him until he finally gave in.
"Yes?" Danguro responded. On the video display was a woman. She was attractive, with bewitching violet eyes, a long, elegant face, and long black hair draped almost seductively over one eye. Her prim anti-contamination suit gave her allure a respectable veneer.
"Fujita-San?" she inquired.
"Yes," Danguro repeated impatiently.
"My name is Dr. Kono. I've reviewed your case and I think I can cure you. Is there a time and a place where we can meet?"
Continued in Chapter 2