"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."
- Sentinel Prime
Morning sunlight filled the royal bedchamber of Konan Palace. Emperor Hotohori was seated in his luxurious bed. In his arms, nuzzled cheerfully against his chest, was his still sleeping wife. As he used one hand to affectionately pet her head, he moved the other downward to feel her bulging belly with his palm. The baby was due any day now.
Empress Miaka eventually began to stir. After blinking some of the drowsiness out of her eyes, she peered upward to her husband and offered him a sweet smile along with a modest greeting.
"Good morning, your majesty."
She had once been the virginal priestess of Suzaku, representing the hopes and dreams of her people. Now she was the pregnant Empress of Konan, carrying the future of the kingdom within her womb. It was a career change she fostered no regret toward.
Three wishes to Suzaku was all it took to leave Miaka in her current position. The first thing she wished for was the safe return of Yui, her best friend and fellow interdimensional traveler, to her home world. The second wish caused the fall of the corrupt empire of Kutou, swiftly ending the bloody war between it and Konan. The third wish was the most powerful, as Miaka had ordered the Four Gods to erase themselves from existence. This monumental, seemingly paradoxical act had the intended effect of reducing each of the gods' celestial warriors to ordinary humans and severing the connection that would normally allow more priestesses to be summoned from Miaka's universe. She had spared potential others from her world by forever trapping herself in this strange land. Now no one would have to witness tragedy she and Yui had nearly succumbed to, nor would anyone have to experience the despair and separation that had cursed the earlier priestesses of Genbu and Byakko. All she could do now was protect her new home.
Hotohori was always a great source of inspiration for her, but there had once been another in her life. When her fate of becoming a permanent resident of Konan was sealed, deciding who she would spend the rest of her life with had been a difficult one. She had realized her feelings were stronger toward her emperor, her most devoted guardian, and she ultimately accepted his hand in marriage.
The couple shared a short kiss in bed. Miaka cupped her hand over Hotohori's, completing the connection between mother, father, and child. This tender moment was ruined when the empress's stomach abruptly growled.
Hotohori couldn't help but respond with a hearty chuckle.
"Even earlier than yesterday. Your appetite must be growing by the hour."
Miaka's unrivaled metabolism had kept both her slender figure and her nearly constant hunger intact. By herself, she could easily level any main course without gaining a pound. Being pregnant only further complicated the matter, turning every meal she ate into something approaching a grand feast.
A light blush appeared across the young empress's cheeks before she replied. Her words came in a mix of embarrassment and impatience.
"It's not like I don't have a good reason for it."
After all, she was dining for two.
Hotohori used a gentle grin to ease his wife's mood. He next in gentle concern for both her and the baby.
"Do you feel up to walking around today, Miaka? I can have the servants bring you breakfast if you'd prefer to rest."
Miaka playfully shook her head as her expression began to mirror Hotohori's. She was determined to follow the schedule for the day, and a little extra luggage wasn't enough to make her change her mind.
"I'll be fine. I don't want to miss Tamahome and his wife when they come to visit."
Hotohori's eyes turned slightly away in thought as he continued combing the back of Miaka's head. He sounded like he was mostly joking when he spoke again, but he still seemed to be hesitating.
"Having second thoughts about choosing me?"
Miaka giggled quietly and leaned against her husband's shoulder to ease his worries. Competing with Tamahome for her heart had been a close call, but now she was his to cherish forever. Closing her eyes, she guided his lower hand to trace a small circle around the tiny life they had created together.
"Of course not. I'll always love both of you, but you're the one I'm happiest with."
She then opened her eyes and offered him a reassuring gaze.
"I just want to say hi to an old friend."
Three figures occupied the dark storage room of a local library. Yui and Keisuke stood with their backs against a shelf of dusty tomes, prepared to receive the worst possible news. Across from them was Tetsuya, who currently leafed through the final thinning pages of a book entitled The Universe of the Four Gods. His head sunk when he reached the rear cover and indirectly addressed his two onlookers.
"Well, the bad news is she's never coming home."
A look of despair appeared on Keisuke's face. He would never see his little sister again. To his side, Yui stepped forward with tears forming in her eyes. Her words conveyed her confusion, as she couldn't imagine anything positive coming from this scenario.
"What's the good news?"
Tetsuya replied after a deep, regretful sigh. When he turned his head toward Keisuke and Yui, they saw there was a bittersweet smile on his face.
"She lived happily ever after."