Chapter12: "Acceptance"
A Neo-Sailor Moon fanfic

By Bill K.

The two remaining sprite kings knelt in surrender. Their remaining armies knelt as well, awaiting the acceptance and terms of King Endymion and Queen Serenity. But no acceptance came forth. Curiously, King Gorphyn looked up. Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune were eying them warily, daring them to make a belligerent move. But Endymion and the other senshi were more concerned with Queen Serenity.

"Serenity?" Endymion inquired, while Sailor Moon hovered by his right shoulder anxiously.

"I've got it," Serenity huffed, winded by her efforts. "The palace is stable now. We'll still have to get out the cracks and where the walls have shifted, but it's habitable and it'll hold." Dropping her hands, the Queen stumbled back a step. Endymion caught her from behind and held her up. "Phew! That was too much like work!"

"Mom?" Sailor Moon asked nervously, while Mercury leaned in with a medical sensor.

"She's just a little exhausted," Mercury pronounced. "A little rest and she'll be fine."

"Don't I get a cookie?" Serenity pouted.

"I'll make you a whole pan, Hon'," grinned Jupiter as Venus looked on.

"And I'll make you some tea," Mars added, gently touching her shoulder. Serenity smiled at them.

Nodding that she was all right, Serenity and Endymion approached the kneeling kings.

"We await your pleasure, Your Majesties," King Gorphyn said with some lingering distaste.

"No terms," Endymion said. "We'll consider this a misunderstanding. Halleffle, your son is no longer here. He's decided to live his life his way. My advice, for what it's worth, is to let him."

"And what about his commitment to my daughter?" demanded Gorphyn.

"I have four sons, Gorphyn," Halleffle told him. "Your daughter can have any of the ones who remain. They're probably more reliable than Grindlewyn, anyway."

Gorphyn nodded in satisfaction, while Serenity stared askance at the two.

"I'm sorry if this makes things in your realm more difficult," Serenity offered.

"One of the others can do it," Halleffle shrugged. "It isn't like the tasks are complex."

"Then," Serenity continued, "why was it so important for Grindlewyn to come back?"

"He defied me," Halleffle growled. "I won't have it!"

Serenity's eyes popped. "You," she gasped, "you did all of this because your pride was wounded?"

"A man's pride is an important thing," Halleffle replied stonily. "Sometimes it's all he has."

"Especially if you cling to it so tightly that you let everything else slip through your fingers," Serenity shot back, turning on the man and gliding away. Endymion gave the two kings a look that told them he agreed with his wife, then moved to join her. Halleffle and Gorphyn scowled, then turned and signaled their armies to go home. In seconds they'd all disappeared back into their magical realms.

"You were great, Hotaru!" Yutaka exclaimed, leaning in and grasping Sailor Saturn by the shoulders. Saturn beamed proudly, then leaped up into his arms and the couple kissed passionately, oblivious to whether anyone saw them or not. And twenty feet away, Sailor Uranus watched them with an unreadable expression.

"Look at this place!" cried Cere when the four asteroids entered their quarters. "It's a wreck!"

Their quarters, like most quarters in the palace, looked like the aftermath of an earthquake. Possessions were on the floor or strewn haphazardly. Furniture was overturned or out of place. An ugly crack in the wall ran from the window almost to Palla-Palla's doll corner. All the dolls had fallen from their shelves and her ornate doll house was on its face. Thankfully it was undamaged.

"My end's not so bad," Ves shrugged, peeking into her room.

"Well you don't own anything, so you don't have to worry!" bellowed Cere angrily. She picked up her computer station and found a huge crack in the crystal screen. "Now I'm going to have to get a new work station! And 'The Renegade Prince' was streaming tonight!"

Realizing what she'd said just as the others had as well, the three girls looked over at Palla-Palla. The teen was kneeling in her doll corner, picking up the doll house and replacing dolls in their display area. She was lingering over the figurine that Grindlewyn had given her.

"Hey, I'm sorry, Palla-Palla," Cere offered. The girl turned to her.

"For what?" she asked, genuinely mystified.

"Well, you're probably really sad that Grindlewyn took off, aren't you?" Jun said, kneeling down next to her.

"Palla-Palla will miss Mister Grindlewyn-Sir," she explained. "He was nice. And he was nice to Palla-Palla. And he was the first boy to kiss Palla-Palla, and she liked it. But she knows he had to leave and she's OK with that."

"So you really didn't love him?" Cere wandered over.

Palla-Palla shook her head. "Palla-Palla knows what love is now. She watched the way Miss Hotaru-Ma'am and Mister Yutaka-Sir are. And she remembered that the Princess and Prince Horsie-Man are like that, too. And that's not the way she felt about Mister Grindlewyn-Sir. He was nice and she wishes he could have stayed, but she's not going to feel as bad as when her Mommy left her and got lost." She stared up at her three sisters. "Does that make sense?"

"Makes sense to me," grunted Ves. "And I say good riddance to the bum."

"But Ves-Ves," Palla-Palla persisted, "Mister Grindlewyn-Sir wasn't a bad person. He just wasn't as strong as you are and didn't have anyone to protect him like Palla-Palla does. So when his daddy was mean to him, all he could think to do was run away."

"Well you don't need a chump like that hanging around," Ves replied. "So we're still better off without him, especially you."

"God, I hope the next time Palla-Palla has a boy interested in her, you're on the other side of the planet!" scowled Cere.

Ves gave her a dismissive wave, which only angered Cere even more. While they bickered, Palla-Palla reached out and grabbed Jun's hand.

"Are you still feeling bad about your daddy?" Palla-Palla asked. "Palla-Palla wishes she hadn't said anything so you wouldn't know and feel so bad about it."

"I'll live," Jun sighed. "It's not the kind of news I was hoping for, but I guess part of growing up is taking the bad with the good. I do kind of wish there was something I could do for all the people he killed. You know - - sort of make up for it. I wouldn't be surprised if a few people hold what he did against me."

"Well Palla-Palla still likes you and still wants to be your sister, no matter what your mean old daddy did," the girl stated adamantly. "And you stuck by Palla-Palla when she learned her daddy was a bad man. Palla-Palla is going to do that for you, no matter what."

Jun leaned over and kissed Palla-Palla on the cheek. Palla-Palla reacted with utter shock.

"Thanks, Palla-Palla," Jun said. Her sister's shock changed to a wide grin of happiness.

Hotaru paused at the door to her quarters, waiting for the computer to recognize her. She was glad things had worked out between the king and queen and the leaders of the sprites. Right now, though, she wanted to get her medical kit from her room. Even though she was only in work-study at the infirmary, the place would be swamped with people injured during the battle and Mizuno-Sensei could probably use her help. It took all her effort to leave Yutaka. Only his encouragement that she was doing the right thing allowed her to do it. Now she had to actually do it before she weakened again.

The door opened, far too slowly for her taste, and she hurried in.

"Hotaru?" Haruka was standing there. Hotaru stopped and meekly turned. She didn't really want to fight anymore, but that depended on her papa.

"Yes?" Hotaru said meekly, her eyes cast down.

"His name's Yutaka," Haruka stated penitently.

Hotaru looked up at her and the wide, grateful smile that was blooming beneath her large moistening violet eyes made Haruka feel like she'd just conquered the world. The young waif traversed the distance between them and wrapped herself around Haruka's trunk.

"Thank you, Papa," she said.

Haruka just folded her arms around the teen. She didn't say anything else. If she tried, her voice was going to crack from emotion - - and Haruka couldn't let anyone hear that.

"You have an incoming call from Chief Minister Gomez of Colombia," the reactivated environmental control computer announced. Endymion and Serenity looked at each other quizzically.

"Maybe I better take this in my office," Endymion told her.

"Do you want me to be there?" Serenity asked.

"Let me find out what he wants first," Endymion advised.

Endymion headed off, arriving in his office a few moments later. It was there he found his office computer displaying video from one of the security cameras outside. He smiled to himself.

"That girl," he muttered. "Computer, transfer incoming call here." Endymion sat down and got comfortable. "Chief Minister Gomez," he nodded politely.

"Thank you for taking my call, King Endymion," Gomez said and Endymion noted a more contrite tone to his voice this time. "I hope I'm not calling at a bad time. I understand there is some trouble there."

"It's been handled," Endymion assured him. "What can I do for you?"

Gomez searched for a way to begin.

"I've been," he started, "thinking about what you said before. About the children of the raped prisoners being victims, too. And about what your wife has said - - about hatred begetting hatred. And how the cycle can only be ended by choosing not to hate."

"Yes," Endymion cautiously prodded.

"They're wise words. Perhaps if more of us practiced this, there would be fewer people like General Almonte in the world." Gomez paused. This was clearly hard for him. Being a forgiving person wasn't something that apparently came easy to him at this stage in his life. But he was making the effort and Endymion gave him all the time he needed. "I'm rescinding the extradition demand for Junelle Batista. You're right. She has no connection to Batista's crimes other than the unfortunate circumstances which brought about her birth. None of the children of these crimes bear any guilt in this."

"I think that's a wise choice, Chief Minister," Endymion told him. "Thank you."

Gomez nodded. Endymion was about to disconnect, but hesitated. Gomez looked like he wanted to say more.

"Was there something else, Chief Minister?" Endymion asked.

"The girl - - Junelle," Gomez ventured cautiously. "Would it be possible for me to speak with her? She is - - Rita's child, too."

"I'll leave that up to her," Endymion replied. "If you'll hold the line? I won't be long."

Ten minutes later, Jun was in Endymion's office. The teen sat down and looked at the strange man who was the ruler of her birth country, a country she couldn't recall. Gomez just looked at her for a few moments.

"I am Ramon Gomez, Chief Minister of Colombia," he said at last.

"Um, I'm glad to meet you," Jun said warily.

"We achieved a genetic match for your mother," Gomez explained. "It turns out, your mother is my - - was my wife, Rita. I can see it's true. You resemble her sister Consuela some."

"Really?" gasped Jun with surprise. "B-But how? I thought my father . . .!"

"I will tell you that story if you truly wish to know," Gomez said. "I warn you that it is not a pretty story. But before I do that," and he seemed to brighten with the memories he was recalling, almost seeming twenty years younger in a matter of moments, "I want to tell you about Rita. For of all the crimes you may have suffered in your young life, perhaps the greatest one is that you never knew her - - never got to meet her. May I do that - - Junelle?"

"Yes, sir," Jun nodded solemnly. "I think I'd really like to know."

Sun Zhong-Ju moved surreptitiously through his class of teenage ESPers, quiet so as not to disturb their concentration. Young people trying to corral great mental powers needed quiet to concentrate. They often had enough trouble concentrating due to their youth. They didn't need his heavy hand. When he observed a situation that needed his attention, he would quietly move in and lend his expertise to the teen. Though he was just turned sixty, Sun couldn't conceive of doing anything else with the rest of his life. Sharing in the triumph of one of these young ones when they mastered a skill related to their power kept him young.

His eyes moved to Hotaru Tomoe. She was lifting a ruler in the air with her mind. This was a breakthrough for her, as before she would strain and the ruler would wobble violently. But now the ruler was level and calm, and her face was serene and calm. Then the ruler began to spin in the air, end over end, the rotations picking up speed until air displaced from the spinning began to blow Hotaru's shoulder length black hair. Silently he approached.

"You've made a breakthrough," he observed.

"I don't understand it," Hotaru replied, still marveling at the idea that her mind was manipulating this ruler. "It was always so hard before. Lifting that ruler was like lifting a hundred kilo stone. And now it's so light."

"Emotions affect our mental abilities, Hotaru-Chan," Sun explained. "Before, your powers only manifested under strong emotions of fear or anger. Such emotions can bring out the power. But emotions can also inhibit the power. Before, these emotions were blocking your power. I can see the change now."

"What change?" Hotaru asked. The ruler gently descended to the desk.

"You're happy," Sun smiled. Hotaru felt her cheeks flush. "Before, you were clouded with doubt, with shame, with low self-esteem. You saw your power as a curse. You doubted your ability to succeed. You questioned your worth to those around you. But now, your grades are up. You have a loving family structure. You have a budding career as a physician. You are a valued friend to the Princess and her senshi." He smiled wider and leaned in. "And you've become quite close to a young man."

"Are you psychic, too?" Hotaru asked uncomfortably.

"No," Sun chuckled. "But I do have ears, and the palace is filled with gossipy busybodies. These things are bound to make you happy. And that serene state allows your power to flow more easily, where before your doubt and shame constricted the flow. And the happier you are, Hotaru-Chan, the easier this all will come for you." He patted her hand. "So be happy. That's your assignment for tonight."

"Yes, Sensei," Hotaru replied demurely.

But the more she thought about it, the more she realized he was right. She was accepted here. She was succeeding. Despite their recent trouble, Hotaru knew she was lucky to have drawn Haruka and Michiru as her guardians, far luckier than Jun or Grindlewyn had been in their draw.

And then there was Yutaka.

"I wonder if he's free tonight," Hotaru wondered. Then a quite uncharacteristically salacious smirk grew on her tiny mouth. "After all, Sensei did tell me to be happy. Technically, it would be homework."

Unnoticed, the ruler rose up into the air and began to spin again.

In her room, Jun sat on her bed and stared at the picture in her hand. Chief Minister Gomez had sent a picture of his wife - - her mother. He'd also told her the story of how she'd been conceived.

Tears specked the poly-crystal covering on the picture. She'd asked him to tell her what happened, then wanted to claw her ears out when she heard it. For a moment, Jun had wanted to end it all just so she didn't have to think of such horror. And then Chief Minister Gomez told her something.

"Batista created you to be a final slap in the face to me and to Rita," he told her. "But you can foil his wicked plans, Junelle. You must be the best person you can possibly be, a person Rita would be proud of. I've heard of some of your recent work. You're already on the path. You must never waver from this, Junelle. Rita's suffering must be for someone worthwhile. Or else Batista wins one last victory."

Jun remembered nodding solemnly to Gomez because she was too choked up to speak.

"If you ever feel yourself lost or wavering," Gomez told her, "please call me. And please keep Rita in your thoughts. You would have adored her."

In the dimming light, Jun traced the outline of the face of a woman she didn't recall with her finger. With tears in her eyes, she thanked the woman for enduring everything she had and vowed to ensure that the suffering had not been in vain.

In the countryside of southern Japan, Grindlewyn, late of the plant sprites, walked and admired the beauty of the flora. It was here amid the wild flora that he truly felt inspired to write his poems and be at peace. Of course he had an affinity with plants and flowers, as he was a plant sprite. But unlike a lot of his brethren, Grindlewyn saw the beauty of what they all created. It wasn't just a job. It wasn't just a duty. It was something to be expressed, to be passed along in word as well as deed. He wanted to recreate what he saw with his written words. Even more boldly, he wanted to create new beauty with his words that matched what he saw.

He paused by a tree that had seen seventy-two years. And it was worth giving up his previous life, his family, his people, everything that he had known, to be able to do that. Maybe some day he might come to regret it. But not now.

"Still," Grindlewyn mused so softly that only the tree could hear, "I wish I could spend the time with Palla-Palla." He smiled. "Such beauty as to rival a garden at sunset."

Nudging himself off of the tree, Grindlewyn continued his journey.

"But she's better off without me. My presence in the Crystal Kingdom would only serve to be a source of ire between them and my father - - and King Gorphyn. Better that I leave such kind people in peace. And who knows, one day I might have gotten the wanderlust and left anyway. Better now that there are fewer - - attachments." His hand drifted along the trunk of another tree. "But I will visit again some day. That's a promise."

The youth continued through the patch of green, turning verses over in his head and mulling over how to improve upon the meter. Suddenly a shape appeared in the brush. He stopped with a start and looked.

"Myrah?" he asked with surprise as the first daughter of the wind sprites stepped forth.

"Grindlewyn," she said, chastely, almost timidly. It was a different demeanor indeed for the fiery princess he knew. "So you've begun your journey? Where do you intend to go - - if I may ask?"

"Wherever my feet and my muse take me," he shrugged. "It may not be much of a life, but it's a free one."

"Are you not concerned about how you'll live?"

"I'll make do," he replied with good humor. "And I was dying before, trapped in my previous life. If this one is to be shorter, at least I'll have lived before I die."

"And the human girl?" Myrah asked.

"You were probably right, Myrah," Grindlewyn gave a melancholy reply. "It wouldn't have worked. I probably couldn't have stayed, and she wouldn't leave with me."

"I think that's best for all," Myrah nodded. "You're kind for saying I was right. I thank you."

Myrah paused and Grindlewyn sensed she wanted to say more. He knew the feelings she still had for him, and out of respect for them he gave her the time to summon the courage to speak.

"Would you," Myrah began, her eyes suddenly darting away, "like a companion? For your journey, I mean!"


"I understand why you didn't want to marry me," Myrah said quickly. "Though I would have gladly been your wife, I hated being forced by tradition and ritual to do a lot of the things I had to do as well. And father - - I can't make him understand. I can't make him see. I can't be what he wants me to be. I can only be me. And I won't be married off to anyone else when it's," and she looked down again, embarrassed, "you that I love."

"You've left him then?" Grindlewyn asked. Myrah nodded, still avoiding his eyes.

"And I'll not go back. I'll not face his wrath, and I'll not be wed to someone not of my choosing, as if I were a prize mare! I know you don't love me," Myrah said. "I'm not looking for that. Not anymore. But I still - - want - - I just thought - - since we're both traveling - - perhaps we could travel - - together? A-As companions!"

Grindlewyn smiled warmly. "And a better companion no man could ever find." Myrah's face lit up with joy. Grindlewyn grew serious. "I've nothing against you, dear. You've always been fine company. I may never be able to be what you want me to be . . ."

"Oh, and you can predict the future now, can you?" Myrah demanded with a wry smile. "You may yet surprise yourself, fair Grindlewyn."

He grinned. "That I may."

He held up his crooked arm for her to take. She took it and together they headed for the future.