Second Primordium: Revisiting the Timekeeper's Lair (A Pleasant State of Affairs)

Once again, there she was, back at this evilly redundant task. Glaring down at the twinkling souls that seemed to be winking impishly at her (especially Jadeite's), she muttered, "You just _love_ doing this to me, don't you? I always knew you had a sadistic side, Kunzite. And we all knew about you, Zoicite. Nephrite–need I say more? You and those damned stars...and Jadeite. You had to have some secrets. Just wait till Rei gets her hands on you." The thought (and image) made her smile, and her mood became slightly better. The mistake had been made, but they had been reborn–again–and everything could be fixed.

'That was what you said the last time,' an evil voice in her mind whispered.

Resisting the urge to stick her tongue out, Setsuna settled herself at her oak-wood table and reached towards the generals' souls. 'Shut up. Last time was different.'

'Uh huh. What are you going to say next time this happens?'

'It won't.'

'Bet you the Ginzuishou–oh, by the way, the whole Japanese was a nice touch, by the way. I liked the odango atama thing, you know. I didn't know that you had planned to have them reborn in Japan.'

She gritted her teeth and fumed silently: twenty frustrating, insufferable years of searching, then watching and waiting while she alternately paced, hurled things, and threw temper tantrums to the nearly- silent Gates of Time had elapsed since the last time she had held these four luminescent souls of the Shittenou. During those twenty years, eighteen of them had been totally and utterly wasted. Somehow, Prince Endymion had been reborn four years ahead of Serenity and her senshi, so when he was four, the Moon Princess and her protectors finally emerged into the world. Around the time when a second child was born to the surrogate parents of Tsukino Usagi, as Setsuna thought of them, Chiba Mamoru had lost his parents and memory in a car crash (while observing that, Setsuna had felt pity for Endymion, for he had already had so much sorrow in his life–despite the fact that he was completely unaware of his past life), the two had met in the hospital. Usagi had given Mamoru a rose, and they had both kept that memory in their minds. When she had seen that, the Timekeeper's distasteful view of destiny had been renewed. Everything just had to be so planned, so perfect! She had had a horrible time preventing Fiore from finding out the truth about the origin of the rose Mamoru had given him.

As for the senshi's lives, they were anything but perfect. Aino Minako, the resurrected senshi of Venus, had been filming a few movies about Sailor V (Setsuna had had a good laugh over that movie, and she still had a few excellent copies of each of the tapes for blackmail) when Kaitou Ace or whatever he had called himself had showed up again. Setsuna had nearly had a cow when she had seen him–how the heck had he gotten into the Time Stream?! Minako had, thankfully, returned to Japan with her annoying guardian cat in tow and "experience in fighting youma." Compared to the knowledge she had once possessed in the Silver Millennium, it was as rudimentary as addition and subtraction were to the entire world of mathematics. Perhaps, she had thought acidly, the Moon cat's mind had become addled with his memory modifications and erasures, resulting in his lack of effort in spurring his student to greater heights. Knowing Luna, she would have said that her feline partner had been addled in the brain to begin with.

Surprisingly enough, the second senshi discovered by Usagi and Luna had been Mizuno Ami. Her painter and foreigner father had divorced her Japanese mother, and her other-worldly looks that actually resulted from Mercurian blood had earned her the name of "half-breed" among her peers. Possessing an I.Q. much higher than average, Ami had pushed herself to do the best each time just so she could have something to be proud of about herself. Her mother was much too busy working as one of the hospital's top doctors to be home much, and her father had little time to keep in touch as he traveled Europe, searching for elusive inspiration. The rare periods of time he recalled that he had a daughter, Ami had received paintings from him, beautiful paintings that she treasured and hung in her room–not that anyone saw them. The other joy in Ami's life, besides the escape by schoolwork, was swimming. Her connection with water meant she could stay longer underwater than most human beings.

Hino Rei, temple priestess at Hikawa Shrine, was popular at her Catholic school. Rei's father in that life had been a senator, and after her mother had died from cancer, he had dumped her with his father-in-law in order to pursue his political career without any disturbances. No one had found out about his ill treatment of his daughter, and Rei's grandfather had no wish to return his ignored and maltreated granddaughter to her father. Although he raised her to believe in the Shinto religion, he enrolled her in a Catholic school because of his deceased daughter's wishes. Despite the fact that Rei was fairly well-known and -treated among her peers, several more cruel and envious students whispered hurtful rumors behind her back that eventually got around school and ruined her reputation. She was ostracized by half-wits who were either too unsure of themselves to live without shunning the existence of others or followers who were unable to think up more pleasant pursuits on their own. Setsuna had been surprised that all traces of magic had disappeared from the world, except in books, movies, and fantasies. Rei, just as Minako had shown her aptitude for hand-to-hand fighting, had developed spiritual powers from her Martian and senshi heritage that resulted in her finally being regarded as a witch, an outsider, and someone to be avoided at all costs–unless, of course, there was a laugh to be gotten out of the raven-haired girl or some ingenious act of cruelty to accomplish.

Another outcast, Kino Makoto had been famous at her old school–but in a different way than the Princess of Jupiter had become accustomed to in her past life. Known as the girl who was taller than most, stronger than most, and an orphan, she had made no friends. When Setsuna had caught a glimpse of the foster mother Makoto would have gone to, she had broken a rule of destiny and arranged for Makoto live alone. Whenever the brunette girl had had problems paying the rent, her mysterious benefactor stepped in, and she received the notice from her landlady that she had paid for the month. In those times of desperation, Makoto had accepted it as her good fortune. She had been transferred from one school to another, kicked out each time for defending someone weaker and less able to stand up for himself or herself, when she had finally arrived in Juuban's school district and met Usagi, Ami, and Rei.

Together, the four girls had been able to keep the Dark Kingdom at bay: all right, Setsuna admitted, the youma were fairly stupid and could have been beaten as easily as one of them could have winked an eye in the Silver Millennium, and Jadeite had basically planned out his own demise (the idiot had returned to Beryl after his colossal failure, and even Setsuna couldn't see how he could have failed to kill them and Tuxedo Kamen, despite the fact that she was supposed to be on their side). Nephrite had fallen in love with Umino, and she still couldn't fathom why. Oh, right, Makoto hadn't been "found" yet...right? She could barely remember now, what with her memories spanning far before the time period B.C. After Nephrite, killed by Zoisite–she had wondered why he had become such a sick person. It was a given that Metallia and Beryl corrupted their followers, but Setsuna had definitely _not_ expected him to become involved with Kunzite, no less. Thankfully, the pretty-boy had died after "Sailor V" had made the scene, really Minako returned from England. Setsuna had genuinely liked Zoisite in the Silver Millennium and considered him a friend, but she had become sickened by his actions in the present. But anyway, Minako had joined the senshi as Venus, and the team seemed "complete." During that time, Setsuna had been keeping tabs on the Outers as well, but they seemed undisturbed and never ran into the Inners. It was a very strange situation indeed. Well, Moon had killed Kunzite (quite a comeback from when she had needed the jewels decorating her meatballs to help increase the sound waves of her crying, Setsuna thought acidly), and the girls had teleported into the Dark Kingdom. 

Oh, and sometime before that, Mamoru and Usagi had had their little "odango atama" and "jerk, etc., etc." fighting. She had fallen in love with him, but Zoisite had kidnaped him (the one thing he had actually done right). He had been brainwashed by Beryl to think he was Prince Endymion of the Dark Kingdom, and his vicious rivalry with Kunzite made Setsuna want to bury her face in her hands–in fact, she did, a few times–especially during the episode where Endymion had been chasing after Urawa Ryo. Another thing that irked her was the senshi's supposed love interest in Ryo, Yuuichirou, and Shinozaki. At least Minako had left Kaitou Ace behind in England. So after Kunzite was dead, Endymion was still in the Dark Kingdom and beloved of Serenity.

Lured by the Doom and Gloom Girls, disguised as said Endymion and also Ryo, the senshi had died, one by one, excruciatingly painful deaths. Setsuna had resisted the urge to hurl herself off a cliff as well, preferably a mountain–perhaps Mount Everest. How would the reborn senshi have been so abysmally stupid? Fate had smiled on them, bringing them together and saving them from death at the hands of the "Dark Kingdom generals," only to have them beaten by the Doom and Gloom Girls. Jupiter could have swept them away with one blast of electricity and had enough breath to laugh victoriously in the past. Serenity had gone on alone to face Beryl, convinced Endymion of their love (apparently, he needed more than a few reminders, as usual–despite the fact that Setsuna had not remembered him being as asinine in the past), caught him as he died, and sworn revenge. When she went to face Beryl, the Imperium Silver Crystal (a.k.a. Ginzuishou) had created a crystal platform that resembled a flower (Serenity had always been short, and the added height had made her seem _so_ much more imposing). After she seemed to be losing, Beryl had sacrificed her soul forever to Metallia, and the giant demoness faced the "puny little Moon brat." In the end, the spirits of the senshi had returned to help Serenity. As she died and their spirits returned to limbo (very briefly, for Setsuna had retrieved them almost immediately), she wished that they could be reborn with "normal lives" as "normal people."

Setsuna shook her head in annoyance. Sure, she loved Serenity, meatball head that she was. It was impossible not to. But Serenity threw the worst obstacles in her way: she had cursed the generals, cursed the senshi, probably cursed Pluto as a result of that, and now wished for normal lives. Unfortunately, if she was going to reunite the Shittenou and the senshi and leave some very subtle hints that they had to find a way to break that lovely curse from Serenity on their own, she was going to have to disregard Serenity's wish...partially. A slightly evil smirk spread over her lips as she devised their new lives...but then she remembered that she had to de-brainwash the so-called "Dark Kingdom generals."

~*~*~

The green-haired, supposedly immortal Keeper of Time, fumed and cursed the gods in as many ways and languages as she could recall (and she was the definition of multilingual itself). The "generals" Beryl had claimed were the Shittenou, even named and created to look like the Shittenou...just..._weren't_ the Shittenou. They were fakes, extremely well genetically-engineered copies (she had to give Beryl some credit for that), but they weren't the generals. Which meant that Setsuna did not know where Kunzite, Nephrite, Jadeite, and Zoisite had gone...and there would be hell to pay when she _did_ find them. If, a nasty voice in her mind corrected, if. She sneered at it and refused to answer, also ignoring the cold chills running up and down her spine.

~*~*~

She gasped as the Thing followed her in hot pursuit. She was traveling as fast as possible, which was quicker even than the speed of light (at least the kind that had been calculated by humans in the time and age she had been preparing the senshi to be reborn in), and it was a remarkable feat–and a bad sign–that her enemy could keep up. Something seriously dark and evil, darker even than Metallia (Beryl had merely been a good laugh yet someone to be pitied), was tracking her and keeping up. It had cleverly disguised its scent by masking it with youma traces. It had also instructed Beryl to make copies of the generals–Setsuna now realized that Beryl could never have come up with the idea on her own. But now this Thing was on her tail, and it frightened her. At least she had the Shittenou, she consoled herself–despite the fact that she would have major damage control to do. The Thing and its helpers had left dark seeds in the Shittenou, far more serious than the brainwashing Beryl and Metallia had done, and she had her work cut out for her–if she survived. Suddenly, a brilliant blast of silver-gold light blocked and trapped the thing, allowing her the precious minutes she needed to make her getaway. Teleportation took time and peace of mind, neither of which she had possessed when escaping from the Thing. Once she was safely back at the Gates of Time, where it could not deign to touch her, she sighed deeply and pressed a hand over her laboring heart. Another large rock had just been placed in the Streams of Time for the waters to try to go around or over...and sometimes, they didn't succeed.

~*~*~

AN: Wonderful. This chapter sort of ridiculed the first season...a lot...but I'm going by what's in the anime, because I don't remember the manga well (I only read a translated version once). I've also watched the original season at least four times, and the horrible-ness of it is embedded in my memory. I've always thought of Setsuna as a rather sarcastic person, and I thought it might me sort of nice to have it told in her POV (in a way). I know not much happened, but I needed some general explanation and a bit of dry humor. ^^ Next chapter, we'll leave the Time Stream behind...and the Thing–at least for now. Hope you enjoyed :) and thank you for reading.

~Ice