Across the ward, while Rei was being spiritually torn asunder, a certain pigtailed martial artist was in the process of, once again, navigating his own mental landscape. Once again, he was faced with his dreams of being some ancient prince to a long dead kingdom that no one had ever considered existed. He was currently in his mother's throne room, his faithful panther by his side once more. He had just finished giving a report to the queen about the lack of ability in the guardsmen and had been told about a now forced engagement.
He knew the prophecy as well as the next. Over a millennium ago, a Seer for the Solar Royal Family received a vision. In it, the Solar Kingdom, whom had split from the Lunar court about five millennia previously, would again be united under a single banner once again. This unification would bring an unparalleled era of peace and prosperity for both nations. Unfortunately for him, it seemed as though fate had dealt him an unwelcomed hand. If what everything he had overheard was true, he was now the proud receipient of his very own fiance . The worst of it was he had absolutely no say in the matter whatsoever.
Several days later passed in a instant to Ranma as he continued to watch from outside his dream self. He was beginning to wonder just how much of these dreams was based in reality and how much was actually fantasy. Never before had he ever had such lucid dreams or ones with the amount of detail he had been experiencing, and recalling, in these. But that was insane. This couldn't be real; could it? Despite not being the best student academically, he still knew enough world history to know that a few gaijin astronauts had landed on the moon, and they certainly didn't find any evidence of some great lost civilization. So how did this all add up? Shelving that for the time being, he turned his full attention back to 'himself' just in time to see him meet his mother and make their way to a strange circular multi-leveled dais guarded by two men in similar armor to himself and two cloaked individuals behind them, directly in front of the dais.
Kaneda Lunar stepped onto the teleportation dais with his mother, dread in his thoughts. He knew what today was. His mother had promised the Solar Kingdom delegation that at the end of the week the two of them would be arriving to meet the Solar Royal Family. He sighed inwardly, the sound of his armor shifting slightly the only real sound he made as he crossed to the center of the dais, keeping in step with his mother at all times. The pair stopped as they reached the center and, for about the hundredth time in the last half hour, the crowned prince wished his mother had let him bring Nova to this little meet-and-greet. He already missed the panther's presence, both empathically and physically, at his side.
Queen Serenity glanced knowingly at her eldest child as he took his place beside her on the teleportation platform. Despite already coming into manhood and leading the Lunar Guard, Kaneda was still her son. Despite how society saw him, the queen would always see him as a young boy who would always be his mother's first born. She was actually sorry that this engagement would happen for him, though it would certainly make the process of choosing a wife for him much simpler. Already, most of the newborn Senshi were relatively close acquaintances. Some, including the new Senshi of Mars and Mercury, were showing signs of wanting to move to a much deeper relationship with her son. While she normally might have enjoyed the show of the court's guardians vying for her son's attentions, it was not to be.
Each queen before her, and after the Great Split, knew the prophecy of Amunaten once he made it. With the signs all pointing to the prophecy coming to fruition, Serenity could not pass up this chance at reunification. When Sol and Vulcan initially ceded from the Lunar Kingdom they did so from a solely isolationist perspective. The immense power base the star represented helped the two former bodies of the Lunar Court to effectively shield themselves from any and all unwanted communication directed towards their new fledgling kingdom. Over the years, though very sustainable thanks to Sol's nigh infinite power supply, the new kingdom had waned simply due to being so closed off. It was after the first two hundred years that the first delegation from Sol had requested a conference between their royalty and Luna's. She remembered reading the scrolls of that meeting from her ancestor's reign. While Sol and Vulcan had not left on the best of terms, it had never been the intention of the Lunar royalty to remove the two from the fold. After all, the stones representing the planet and star were still embedded into the entrance to the throne room as an enduring reminder of the kingdom's initial composition. Therefore, it had been at the queen's behest that both the teleportation and communication networks linking the Lunar Kingdom to Sol and Vulcan remain intact until such time as the prodigal children wished to resume contact with them.
It had not been a relatively long wait, all things considering. The original kingdom had stood for millennia prior to the Split, so only losing contact with the 'Solars' for approximatelyl two hundred years was not as bad as it could have otherwise been. No, Serenity surmised, the Solar Kingdom could not have forseen such a circumstance as what Amunaten had prophesized that day. However, they did share the news with their once allies. At the time, making no initial guarantees to anything should the circumstances of the prophecy ever emerge. It took the time up until now to have agreeable terms set in place for what would happen when the 'conditions' were met and how everything would proceed from there. Over the last few centuries, it had been relatively commonplace for delegates of both kingdoms to meet and discourse the current climate of both kingdoms in order for preparations to be made if it seems that the kingdom's reconstituion may happen during that generation.
Serenity snapped back to the present from her mental wanderings as she felt her son's hand rest on her back in a show of affection and support. She looked down to see him smiling slightly. "What is it, Kaneda?"
"I just wanted to let you know that I love you, Mom. I know I don't really say it as much as I used to, and I'm sorry for that." Serenity smiled warmly at her oldest child as he expressed his sentiment. "I also wanted to let you know that I will do my best to honor the agreement we are inciting today."
At this, Serenity's smile faltered slightly. "Oh, Kaneda. Please do not feel obligated by this, my son. While we are indeed arranging a marriage, I want you to know that I still want you to be happy with the resulting union. You have my blessing to take as long of a courtship as is necessary to determine if a union between yourself and the Solar Princess is feasible. If it is not, then I will speak with Their Majesties and we will come to a mutually beneficial agreement that will allow us to coexist, no matter how long it takes."
"I appreciate that, Mother. I do." With that, he gave an almost imperceptible nod to his mother and turned his full attention back towards the direction they entered the dais, standing fully erect.
Understanding his son's posture, Serentity turned to the two mages who up until now had been waiting patiently for their ruler to signal she was ready. "You may begin at your leisure, gentleman. Thank you for being patient with us."
"There is no need, Your Majesty," spoke the mage on her left. With that, the two men linked voice and body together in a quick, yet intricate, chant accompanied by even faster hand gestures. Within moments, a pillar of light shot down from the sky enveloping the dais and the two royals standing upon it. As the blinding light faded, the mother and son of Luna had vanished.
A scant matter of seconds later, another pillar of light touched down in a much different locale than the one the two Lunar royals departed. As the blinding light of the teleportation spell faded and the pair's eyes adjusted, Kaneda and Serenity took in, for the first time, the grounds of Solari Palace. Where Luna and the planets had varying forms of 'normal' flora and fauna, it seemed the book had been rewritten on Sol. As the pair descended the dais, after greeting the mages and guards, they were almost immediately overwhelmed by a strange mass of almost living light. The crowned prince had never seen such a strange sight. Before them was the equivalent of an amorphous globe of pure light that seemed to be formed from hundreds of strange glowing insect-like creatures and rested in the boughs of an equally strange-looking tree. Suddenly, the mass scattered until there were only a few of the peculiar animals left. Kaneda cautiously moved closer to examine the curious butterfly-like insects.
Just as he crouched down and reached out an inquisitve hand to touch one of the hovering animals, a voice broke his concentration. "I see your son has discovered the pyreflies, Queen Serenity."
The queen smiled at her son, before turning her full attention to her counterpart. "You are quite correct, Queen Herania. I am reminded of my first reaction to these beautiful creatures all those years ago. I recall, by the end of my visit, begging my mother to allow me to keep one and take it back to the palace."
"Yes, I remember watching that conversation. I felt so sad for you then. Of course it is impossibel for the pyreflies to leave Sol's surface, but you didn't know that. I wonder how many impassioned pleas such as yours have been made over the millenia?"
"One can only guess, Queen Herania." By this time Kaneda had returned to a proper standing position. The First Knight of the Lunar Guard stood at attention, his face relaxed but the rest of his posture was completely formal. "Now, Queen Herania, this is my son, Kaneda."
Herania took in the sight before her and smiled inwardly. The boy had not expected to be greeted by the queen and so had relaxed himself with gazing at the pyreflies prior to entering the castle proper. She had noticed his inquisitive nature and tender nature when he attempted to touch, not capture, one of the hovering creatures. It spoke volumes of how he treated others, especially of how he treated things which were new to him. She hoped that same nature would help him once he met Karina. If it didn't, spirits help the boy because nothing else certainly could. "It's quite alright, Kaneda. You don't need to put on formalities for me. Just treat me with the same respect you treat your mother and that will be fine."
At the Solar queen's comment, he immediately placed his right hand on his opposing shoulder and bowed politely to her. "Very well, Your Majesty."
"Such a polite boy you have, Serenity."
She smiled at the compliment, "You have no idea, Herania."
"Well then, off to meet the family," said the queen. Her gait was neither hurried nor lethargic, but it did carry an almost playful bounce to it as she led them through the gardens towards the Great Hall.
Kaneda remained silent but watched in slight amusement at the childlike nature of Solar matriarch. She must have been an interesting parent. He idly wondered what the child of such a parent would be like. He chuckled inwardly since he would be answering his own question momentarily. As they made their way through the grounds, he continued coming up with question after question about what this girl would be like. His mother already told him that if it didn't seem like it would work out, that he could end the engagement and they would find a mutually beneficial arrangement between the kingdoms. But she also said to give this arrangement every possible opportunity. So he would. For her. Not for anyone else...
"What is the meaning of this travesty? I am engaged? You cannot actually be serious. Why, Father?" If looks or screams could kill, then the heir to the Solar Kingdom would have commited regicide in that moment. She was betrothed? Mother agreed? They could not be serious. She refused to stand for this. She, the greatest of all the Senshi. She, the heir to the great Solar Kingdom. She...she was being reminded by her father's steady gaze that they were not the only ones in the room.
King Helios continued to raise a level gaze to his daughter as she inwardly seethed. He audibly sighed at his daughter's question. For such a bright girl, she was asking a rather obvious question. Although considering she seemed to almost outright refuse to pay attention to interstellar politics, even she knew to prophecy of Amunaten. If she refused to wake up to the fact that she was an only child and that the Lunar Kingdom had only produced one male offspring, that was her fault. It's not like she and Princess Serenity had not met before. In fact, for the last millenium, the Lunar princess has been the guest of the Solar Kingdom in every generation. While the offer was always reciprocated, however, the Solar Kingdom clung to their xenophobic ways and never ventured back to the ancient seat of power of the kingdom from which they ceded. "Karina, stop your tirade this instant. You disrespect yourself, your family and your kingdom when you do so. Especially in front of other nobility."
At this point, the princess at least had the temerity to look abashed. However, her question was not about to get answered as the side doors to the Great Hall opened to reveal her mother, the Lunar Queen and a young man her age. Her betrothed had entered the building. Perfect.
...especially not for some stuck up little princess that thinks she is the sole owner of all reality. He could already feel himself closing himself off. Shutting down the pathways to his heart. Erecting inpenetratable barriers to let this, this thing (calling her a person was an insult to his kingdom and probably hers as well) through. There is no way in the Nine Circles he was going to stand to be engaged to some narcissistic, self-aggrandizing tramp of a female. He just wasn't.
That being said, he would try. For his mother. On his honor as a Lunar Guardsman and Prince he would try. For her, and no one else.