In Medias Res
Written for the Sailor Moon Monthly Fanfiction Challenge
January 2008 - Day One: In Vino Veritas
by Kihin Ranno

"Do you know who I am?"

Queen Serenity looked up from her correspondence, eyebrow carefully arched. She studied the woman before her, wearing the clothes of a palace servant but the eyes of something sinister. Black, matted hair trailed near her feet and skin like the rock of the dead seas stretched across sharp bones. Her eyes were quite striking, not the color, but the cold fury.

"You are a rebel," Queen Serenity pronounced smoothly. She leaned back over her letter and quickly finished the last sentence, taking care that there was no visible difference in her handwriting. "From Earth if I place the accent correctly."

"You do," the woman assured her, unsurprised. She carried a tray with grapes and a wine glass, filled the brim with a dark merlot.

Queen Serenity sniffed the air although she doubted there was anything. "You've come to poison me." She leaned back in her chair and crossed her legs. "I only drink white."

"Then I'll just throw this out." The false servant grasped the goblet and splashed the contents on the floor. Some of it splashed on the queen's dress. It was eaten away quickly, just like the stone.

"Deadly," the queen remarked, mildly impressed. "And very hard to come by."

The other woman was attempting to remain cool, but the fidget, slight as it was, could not be overlooked. "Aren't you going to ask me why I didn't let you drink that?"

The queen smiled. "I had assumed that it was because you'd been previously informed that I do not drink red, but found yourself at a loss after you'd used up your poison. Or perhaps you correctly assumed that I would not drink anything handed to me by a palace worker I did not recognize. But I think the most likely of my conjectures is that you know that we have been aware of your presence in the palace for the last three days and that I have three palace guards and Sailor Jupiter waiting outside that door to fall upon you the second I give word."

Queen Serenity had been expecting the revolutionary to now look less like a woman and more a thwarted child. Her esteem for her opponent rose a bit when she saw the woman take it in stride. She could not be shaken as easily as all that. "You've heard that there's truth in wine?"

"I am familiar with the phrase, yes," Queen Serenity responded.

"This is the truth I found when I looked into your death draught," the woman announced, leaning forward. "Killing you first resolves nothing. You die, and your daughter ascends. She will be directed to act just as you did, and she's too insipid to behave otherwise."

Queen Serenity's fingers plucked at the satin of her dress. "Insipid is not the word I would use."

"Nevertheless, she would not think originally," she continued. "The people would rally around her. Any chance at change would be halted in its tracks. Your death would stop the revolution it's meant to fuel."

Queen Serenity smiled again. "Very good."

The rebel glared, resentful of being treated like a bright pupil in school. "So I'm going to have to kill you all at once."

Queen Serenity ran her fingers through the freed parts of her hair, letting them rest across her shoulders like a silken shield. "There isn't enough of that poison to go around."

"You know what I mean."

The monarch looked up at the peasant through her lashes and scoffed. "You would risk war with us?"

"I would win a war with you."

In the face of such a threat, there was nothing to do but laugh. "Ah, the naiveté of the willful. Tell me, my dear, what forces will you use to wage this war? I am well aware of just how many able-bodied men you have converted to your cause, and it is not enough for an army to crush my own."

"I have hell on my side."

Queen Serenity paused, her mouth suddenly longing for wine, poisoned or no. "Metallia."

Now the pupil took on the tone of teacher. "You know of my mistress."

"I know of the devil you've foolishly raised," Queen Serenity spat. "You're stupid to think you can rule malevolence. You'll be swallowed even if you do succeed."
"I will succeed," the woman assured her. "And I will not be swallowed."

Queen Serenity sighed. "Whether by the powers of my Sailor Soldiers or your own mistress, you will fall, Beryl."

She paused, momentarily put off. Then she shook her head, a dark cloud that seemed to grow larger with the movement. Queen Serenity fought to suppress a shudder. "I'll be scraping the blood of you and your daughter from beneath my fingernails when it's all over."

"Metallia's teeth will taste it long before then."

Beryl glared and stepped away, her body suddenly fading and merging with the shadows. Queen Serenity rose as she left. "You will lose, Witch-Queen. You will lose, and you are the fool if you think you have a chance against Metallia and her legion."

Queen Serenity stared out at the now empty room and sighed.

"And you are a fool if you think they will serve you."