High Flying, Adored

As he stood beside his king, the youthful priest of Elysion and his fellow guardians, Hisoka couldn't help but feel the same pride he knew emanated from Endymion. Though he supposed it could have been the lights. But it wasn't likely.

He hadn't ever seen the people of Crystal Tokyo focused on something the way they focused on this relatively short, quiet ceremony. The capital stood silent underneath the softly radiant moon. Light reflected on the marble floor, swimming through the thick crystalline walls with the same muted energy that had infected the people crowding around the gates. Hisoka quickly glanced away from his sovereign to steal a view of their audience.

The faces-young, old, beautiful, plain-covered the courtyard for what seemed like miles. They filed into streets, sat on rooftops... anything to get a good view.

It amazed him that the population of commoners, which only three weeks ago had been in a darkened state of mourning, had gathered enough positive energy to feed Chaos three times over. Their black and grey clothing morphed into a spectrum of light and color. Tears of sorrow transformed into tears of hope for a better future.

And for their new queen.

He turned back to Endymion when Sailor Neptune's violin began to ebb and flow. The rasping melody flushed through the palace throne room, cleansing the inhabitants with its distinct beauty. The only other senshi in the room was Uranus, who stared at her partner, transfixed.

Well, it didn't surprise him. Neptune was quite something.

And then the procession began. Mizuno Ami, Kino Makoto and Hino Rei approached the king and knelt before him. Their gowns, each in their own designated hue, trailed to the floor. Ami's fluttered with the consistency of waves, Makoto's crackled like a great storm and Rei's flickered as only a dangerous yet reserved flame could.

"Your Majesty, I, senshi of Mercury, humbly present to you the senshi of Pallas."

As if on cue, a small, blue haired girl with a bubbly disposition flounced before the king and curtsied, her short ringlets bobbing as she bent down.

"Your Majesty, I, senshi of Mars, humbly present to you the senshi of Vesta."

The second girl, with a crimson hairstyle shorter than even Uranus's cut, bowed deeply. She stood beside Pallas with a confident smile and turned around to see Makoto address the next girl.

"I, senshi of Jupiter, humbly present to you the senshi of Juno."

Juno's incarnation was, as Hisako knew, the most refined of them all. Her red lips projected a kind yet haughty smile and her posture was, as was expected, the image of perfection. A long emerald plait ran down her back, matching the dress she wore. She curtsied so lowly that the Shitennou believed she would have fallen over had she not been so well practiced.

With a flinch he noticed that Aino Minako, in all of her golden glory, had fallen to her knees in front of the king and his guardians. Her eyes, visibly red from tears, cut through the older man standing over her.

"I, senshi of Venus and Neo Queen Serenity's decoy and second-in-command, humbly present to you the... the senshi of Ceres."

The rose-haired woman, the spitting image of her mistress, shook as she curtsied before Endymion.

Minako rose to her feet after the fourth woman had taken her place beside her friends. The blond woman faced the girls as the ageless priest of Elysion, Helios, brought her a silver box he had been holding. "Thank you, Helios-kun," she said quietly and reached into the box with the urgency of Pandora. Pulling out a sapphire locket, she smiled warmly at Pallas.

"Wakahisa Mari, of Hokkaido, will you please come forth?" The youngest girl did as she was asked and Minako unclasped the chain on which the locket hung. "It is your duty, your life's work, to serve and protect your queen. She may ask of you anything, and you must accept without hesitation. You must use your mind to maintain the justice which her predecessor worked so hard to protect, and guide her with your outstanding intellect. Sailor Pallas, senshi of One Thousand Works, do you accept this call?"

Mari grinned. "Of course I do, Venus-sensei!" Minako's expression softened and she reclasped the necklace on the girl.

"Hikami Riko, of Osaka, will you too come forth?" The girl inhaled deeply and slowly made her way over to Minako, who had already gotten the ruby locket out of Helio's silver box. "With your inner warmth and spirituality, you must maintain the flame of this establishment. As Sailor Mars taught you, it is your job to not only be your queen's keeper, but also to act as the religious head of state. You are the soul between the people and God. Sailor Vesta, senshi of the Sacred Flame, do you accept this call?"

Riko nodded solemnly. "I do, with no qualms, accept my fate." After the locket hung lithely at Riko's bosom, she returned to the other girls.

"Miyako Arisu, of Tokyo, will you come forth?" The third girl took little time in approaching the pair and she bowed her head respectfully to them. "You have had a drastically different upbringing than any of the other girls, prim and proper. You have learned the ways of a lady and executed them flawlessly. But this is not why you are a senshi. You were chosen by Gaia to serve a greater purpose than finishing school could ever supply. You will liase with the public, making sure that their every last request is fulfilled. You are not only a servant of Fate, but also of the people. Sailor Juno, senshi of the Vital Force, do you accept this call?"

The woman who had never before hesitated bit her lip, but instead of stalling, smiled. "I will accept and fulfill any task I am given."

Minako nodded and clasped the emerald locket on Arisu, who seemed to beam at its procuration.

Aphrodite's child sighed as she carefully pulled the final locket out of the box. Her eyes watered as she returned to her position before the girls. "Aino Sayuri, of Tokyo, will you come forth?" The adopted child of Minako quivered as she walked over to her mentor. Hisako noticed both women were on the verge of tears.

"Aino Sayuri, or Matsuko Sayuri, you have been blessed with the long, long friendship of your new queen. Because you lived in a nearby orphanage, it seemed that Fate had been fully aware of my presence in town when you found your powers on that fateful day seventeen years ago. Of course, as your mentor I taught you right from wrong, though Sailor Mercury took care of your education. But from the moment I met you, I knew that you would make me proud.

"But I digress," Minako interrupted herself, smiling as she sniffed loudly. "You are Queen-elect Lady Serenity's decoy. You are her eyes and ears, her final line of defense, and her other half. She is lucky to have a decoy who has known her for the length of time which you have. You must always be aware, and this means no sneaking away from the palace in the middle of the night. Sailor Ceres, senshi of the Prescient Harvest and second-in-command, do you accept this call?"

Sayuri wiped her pink eye and nodded, her long curls falling over her bare shoulders. "I... I will honor Fate with my acceptance, Venus-sensei."

The rose morganite locket soon blended into the folds of the woman's dress and Minako curtsied before the king as Helios bowed his head politely. Endymion smiled and inhaled sharply as Neptune's violin began singing a wholly different tune.

Within seconds, the crowd, which had broken into applause at the commencement of the senshi's portion of the ceremony, silenced as a deceivingly youthful woman in an indigo hued gown began to walk down the stairway at the entrance of the throne room, trailed only by another woman in a raven colored gown which fell to her knees. Serenity's shoulder length pink curls highlighted the contrast between her ivory skin and the deep shade of the floor-length dress.

Hisako found his breath completely gone as he stared at the woman he had always known as the little girl with a fondness for bunnies and painting. Not surprised, he noticed the loving trance Helios appeared to be in. But Endymion, for all of his sorrow, just seemed happy. Relieved, even.

Chiba Usagi was the brightest, most caring girl he had ever met. She wanted to help her people survive the recession and the plague. She wanted to see them through the strife with more than just their names. She wanted peace and prosperity.

But this woman was no girl. She was fearless and resolute; not wavering in any way. She had finally grown after a millennium of stunted development.

As the princess walked through the long throne room, the Shitennou noticed the utter rapture in which the crowd was. The people stared at her, feeding on her beauty and solemn energy. Eventually, after what seemed like hours, she reached the throne where her father and protectors waited for her.

Up close, Hisoka saw the Lunarian pearl strands around her neck and waist. He saw her crimson eyes flare with a passion only damped by the loss of her beloved mother. But most importantly, he saw a woman who was finally, after more than 1,000 years, ready to reach the zenith of her life.

The whisper of a very excited Mari to a half-listening Riko caught his ears, sounding something like "jackieo," whatever that was.

Endymion smiled as she curtsied.

"Queen-elect Serenity Usagi Tsukino Chiba, the people have spoken," he said and shook his head, motioning for her to stop midway through the gesture. "Just as you wished, they were given the right to decide who their monarch would be, and unanimously voted for you. Still, you still have the chance to turn away from this burden. If you wish to do so, please speak now."

Serenity smiled and shook her head, a tear gliding down her soft cheek. "I would never turn my back on my people, Father."

The king nodded, sighing in what had to have been relief. "Naturally. Now, this crown," he started, picking up a delicate silver object off of a violet pillow beside him. "This crown was not the one Neo Queen Serenity wore. That is with her, scattered across Mare Serenitatis." He stopped and breathed deeply. Hisoka had to admire his composure. "This crown, made of entirely the finest silver extracted from the South American coast, is a symbol of a new beginning, just as you are," he declared, placing it upon her lowered head. "Do you solemnly swear that you will never abuse its power?"

She lifted her head. "Absolutely."

Endymion knelt before her. "My Queen, Lady Serenity, I wish you the divine favor of the gods."

And at that moment, Hisoka nearly jumped out of his skin as the crowd burst into shrieks, screams and cries for their new monarch. "Serenity-sama," they chanted. "Our love to Serenity-sama!"

She turned around and descended to the gates, her eyes sturdy and mind visibly resolved. In the throne room, the violin had ceased as each of the senshi, former senshi and Shitennou, along with Helios and Endymion, who had remained on his knees, fell to the floor. The people outside, however, stood still, waiting.

"I know this is a hard time for you," Serenity started softly. "Believe me, I know. My mother was the beacon of my life. She brightened the world with her ever luminiscent presence. She made Earth a single country of love and brotherhood. Lunarians and Martians, Venutians and Mercurians alike could find work and pleasure here, which cannot be said for the past during any monarch's rule. Those lost races returned with a flourish, but only because Neo Queen Serenity had the passion and drive to make it so.

"I do not pretend to be her. I do not ask you to love me as you do her. My mother was a diamond, shining so brightly that it blinded us all to her horrible ailment. To that loathsome affliction which I will someday develop. But do not fear, for I do not. We have years together, many, many years, before the fever of the ginzuishou takes its gruesome hold on me.

"I was 905 years old when I first touched the stone. You could say that I was greedy and vain, a bratty child with no direction or thoughts of others. Now I am 1003 with a doctorate in political science, and I hope that qualifies me in your truth-seeking minds. If it does not, I apologize, but I am now your sovereign, for better or for worse.

"But my mother did not even finish her schooling. The Great Ice claimed the Earth just as she was entering her senior year of university. And yet she led the world through three civil wars and protected it from eight invasions. She brought civilization back to Venus and Mars and Mercury and the Moon, saw the dawn of a new technological golden age, and crushed the 'Glass Ceiling.'

"I say these things because I do not pretend to be her. I stress that you may love me, hate me, want me dead, want me immortalized. You may want these things because they are your God-given rights, and as long as you remain peaceful, I will allow such thoughts and desires. I am not your master. I am your humble servant."

The silence which met her after the speech was almost immediately punctured by the crowd's thunder. They lavished her with more and more cries of "Saint!" and "Serenity-sama!" Hisoka watched as she bowed before them, and inhaled sharply as the shrieks, which had intensified exponentially with each second, filtered into the semi-open air throne room.

She waved and turned, heading back to her court. "I will retire now, otherwise tomorrow's ball will be a sluggish sort of thing. Good night!"

The group began to chatter, but Hisoka simply stared after her; he noticed Helios and Endymion watching her as well and didn't feel so out of place, although Minako sent him a jealous look.

It was clear that Queen Lady Serenity would always fly high, utterly adored.