Disclaimer: I don't own Sailor Moon.
Author's Note: Briefly, thank you for sticking with me this past year. It means so much to me. An extended thank you will be at the end. Another note, my use of "keiretsu" and "zaibatsu" is simply due to the fact that I don't believe the English translations hold as much weight as the original Japanese titles. Enjoy.
"If I had known that swearing fealty would have taken so long..." Serenity muttered, stalking onto the shrine grounds one week after her speech to the country. Luna, Jupiter and Venus followed at a respectful distance, their faces clearly stating their wariness of her mood. Most of her time in the last few days had been split between assessing the state of affairs around Japan, and having audiences with officials from the previous empire, and keiretsu. She expected the next week would be much of the same, with zaibatsu, and influential and elite families taking up most of her time.
"It can't have been too bad today," Michiru commented.
Serenity side-eyed her; she was jealous of her friends' abilities to power down to their civilian selves. Michiru teasing her didn't help to improve her mood. "Tell you what. Next week, you can take eight hours of oaths and try to find time to sort out the treasury every day, and we'll compare notes."
Michiru laughed. "Poor thing. Well, everyone else is inside; we were just waiting for you before things really got started."
Serenity made a face. Michiru put a comforting arm around her and led her inside. She looked over her shoulder at the other three and winked. They smiled with relief; Jupiter and Venus powered down before following after Luna. Hotaru was braiding Usagi's pigtails, while the princess gossiped about her 30th century friends. Setsuna had disappeared to the time-space continuum, but Serenity knew she would know her place in the new regime. Serenity took her place next to Endymion while Minako, Makoto, and Michiru took theirs around the room. Luna sat next to Artemis. Serenity drew a breath, and then nodded. "Alright, everyone. As some of you already know, I'm overwhelmed with how much there is to do, so... it's time to figure out what your roles are going to be."
"Mine's pretty straightforward," Usagi chirped. "I'm supposed to look adorable and endearing, and always have my way, and never have to go to school."
"Nice try, squirt," Serenity stuck her tongue out.
"And here we were hoping that you wouldn't turn out to be like your mother," Luna bemoaned, though her eyes sparkled in amusement. It was Usagi's turn to stick her tongue out.
"I believe I already volunteered as medical advisor," Ami spoke up. "Mother would be of assistance, I'm sure. We spoke the other day when I assisted in her field hospital... things are looking much better as utility repairs are being done."
Serenity nodded, and Endymion wrote that down. The others looked at the ceiling, or the floor, depending on their natures, in consternation. "Y'know, Ami-chan's the only one with real experience for a real advisory position..." Makoto commented. "I dunno what I could do to help, besides being a personal chef."
Endymion covered Serenity's mouth with one hand when she started to squeak with excitement. "While I'm sure Usako appreciates that... There's always food regulation and agriculture. You'd work with Ami in health and welfare."
The two women smiled at one another, and nodded. "Sounds fine with me. And don't count me out on the chef comment, I'm sure Hiro and I can keep everyone well-fed. Even if it's just with a snack," she winked.
Inwardly, Serenity winced at the reminder of her friends' lovers. She'd forgotten to see to their welfare, as she had with her brother, but she knew that her friends had known there were more important things going on. If Makoto knew he was safe, then he was safe. Instead, she turned to Haruka. "Would you be interested in transportation and infrastructure?"
The older woman pursed her lips. "Infrastructure, not so much... but I guess that's what ministers are for. I'd be your best bet for meteorology too."
"I can help there. You know how I get when there's a storm coming," Makoto added.
Endymion wrote these down as well. Michiru shrugged when Serenity looked at her. "Cultural appreciation? It feels so silly, compared to agriculture or health and welfare, but I have no other specializations... I'm willing to help wherever it's necessary."
"I might get you on the treasury, just as payback for earlier," Serenity told her, smiling.
The other woman bowed her head in acknowledgement. Between Haruka and Michiru, the two had been dealing with more money for most of their lives than any of the others. Serenity had confidence that they would be able to reorganize funds better than she could-Endymion had handled their accounts, before. He started to write, and then said, "Education in general... There was a sports and culture and education ministry. You and Haruka could collaborate."
Michiru thought about it, and then nodded. "As Haruka said, that's what ministers are for."
"Setsuna has full-time guardianship of all of time and space, I feel bad pinning more on her... Hotaru, do you have any input?" Serenity asked.
Hotaru shook her head. "I would like to finish university first. Let me see what you need a specialist in when we're done, that may affect how I want to change my education focus."
Minako sighed dramatically. "I'm no use anywhere. Call me if you want a reality show."
Ami rubbed her chin thoughtfully. "Minako, when we were looking at the damages done by the bombs, you immediately pointed out financial centers. You could overlook the economics and trade department."
"Oh geez, that sounds like work!"
"It is work, Mina," Artemis said. "Important work."
"I'm so much better at bossing people around..."
Haruka rolled her eyes. "You'll be bossing people around. Again, ministers who know what they're doing will help."
"UGH," Minako flopped back on the floor. "FINE. If the economy crashes because of this, I'm totally blaming you guys."
"It may help that the world economy is essentially starting from scratch," Ami giggled.
"I have faith in you, Mina-chan," Serenity told her.
"You're the only one," Artemis muttered. Minako whipped one of Rei's pillows at him in outrage. Luna elbowed him.
"And apparently I will be on hand with financial reports," Michiru added.
"Your fault if this blows up," Minako reminded them.
Endymion smiled as he wrote. "I'm very sure we'll have a hand in this as well. And as chief royal bodyguard, it would be beneficial to have several workers you trust to be in charge. I'm sure you'll find some way to get out of doing most of the work."
The others laughed. Serenity's eyes lit up. "Oh! What about a military advisor?"
"In all the free time I'll have?"
She shrugged. "I can only oversee so much in the public security sector."
"I was going to have a hand in that as well," Endymion told her.
She nodded. "It's not something any of us will take lightly, but if the three of us keep an invested interest..."
Minako shrugged. "Whatever. Put me where you need me, it'll work out."
Serenity looked to Rei. She threw her hands up. "I'm like Minako. I can be the national spiritual adviser, but I assume that responsibility comes with lots of free time."
Endymion looked at his list. He'd written down the former ministries of the government as well, and said, "Well... Makoto's going to have one eye on agriculture, but the fishing and forestry will have a gap... We'll need someone on that."
"Oh yes, that sounds right up my alley of expertise," Rei muttered sarcastically.
"With all of the spiritual landmarks we have in this country?" He asked.
She opened her mouth to reply, then stopped and considered it. He nodded. "As I thought."
"Fine. I'll give it a go."
"What's left?" Hotaru asked.
He looked over the list again. "Internal affairs, foreign affairs, finance... labor..."
"Fun," Hotaru made a face. "I'll think about it."
"Haruka and Michiru tend to handle a lot of foreign affairs, in my time," Usagi spoke up. "They weren't around when I was a kid because of it. Diplomatic relations and things like that. I only really met them when I went back for good. If that's something you want to consider."
They shrugged, but Serenity could tell they liked that idea more than their current jobs. "When the time comes, we'll discuss it," she told them. "Right now I think we need to focus internally before we do any outreach."
"Most countries probably feel the same," Usagi said. "If anything I'm sure you'll get diplomats in a few weeks, from countries who heard the news over the radio, but I wouldn't worry about it yet."
"We can handle any primary diplomatic missions," Luna said, indicating she and Artemis.
"We're fairly good at it by now," he added wryly.
Serenity smiled. "I appreciate it, but I really need you two at my right and left hands for now. If we're going to set things up right, you're the ones who knew how the old kingdom ran best. I'll need that."
Luna wore an odd expression. "Usagi-chan, I never thought I'd hear you say that you needed me..."
Voices were heard shouting outside. Everyone tensed. Makoto and Haruka stood, and went to the door to see. They visibly relaxed. "It's Minako's parents, and Ikuko. Chibiusa's with them."
Usagi pursed her lips. "Shit."
"Language," Serenity chided absently. "Just stay in here, I'll go out and see."
Outside, she hugged her mother tightly. Chibiusa clung to her, clearly traumatized by the long separation from her parents. Serenity managed to work around the child to hug Minako's parents as well, thanking them for taking care of her family. Ikuko looked a little better off than the last time she'd seen her, but grief was still etched in her face. "Have you seen Shingo?" She asked.
"I saw him just last week... about ten days ago. He was part of the resistance," Serenity said. "Why, when was the last time you saw him?"
"Longer than that."
An icicle struck Serenity's heart. "I called for a halt in the fighting. From the looks of things I was obeyed..."
"We heard there was still some resistance north of here," Minako's mother offered tentatively.
Serenity hugged Chibiusa tighter to her. "Ami-chan?" She called.
The blue-haired woman came jogging up. "What's wrong?"
"Your mother's field hospital. How... recent were some of the resistance fighters' wounds?"
Ami shook her head, thinking. "I wasn't in more than two of the tents... Recent enough, but I wouldn't say older than a week."
"And they're still active?"
"Yes, why? Is there a problem?"
"Maybe. I need you to go to her. Shingo's missing, and apparently some people thought it was a good idea to ignore the order to cease fire. I need you to find out everything you can from the wounded there."
Ami paled, and hurried to do as she was asked.
She called them to the field hospital later that night. Serenity ignored the stares, bows, and whispers around her as she strode through the camp, her skirts hiked up out of the mud, and flanked by Uranus and Saturn; she threw the tent flaps back to reveal her brother being tended to by Mercury and one of the camp nurses. "Shingo," Serenity said disapprovingly.
He grinned feebly at her as Mercury cleaned his head wound. His skin was gray from the pain. "Hey, sis. Good job, we're winning..."
"Shingo, this is exactly the sort of thing I was hoping to stop when I called for a halt in the fighting," she scolded, moving to sit next to him. "Mama's out of her mind with worry, and look at you! Battered half to death!"
"Should see the other guy."
"I don't want to. I have half a mind to let you lay there and suffer," she sighed. "But I can't, because I love you-even if you're still an obnoxious little brat who doesn't listen to his sister. And I need you clear-headed so you can tell me why there's still resistance."
She summoned the Crystal. Mercury pulled the nurse back while she worked. A wash of silver-white light spread over Shingo's body, and he sighed, his skin color returning to normal and his muscles relaxing. Serenity smoothed his hair as the Crystal faded again. "I can't fix it all," Serenity told Mercury, not looking up at her. "Too much at once, and his body won't heal as strong as it needs to be."
"He'll be in better shape than he was before, Your Majesty," the nurse stammered.
Shingo's eyes opened. "Whoa. You have that kind of power all the time?"
"It's contained inside me, yes."
"No wonder you're such a hyperactive ditz."
"Brat," Serenity chided, but her heart wasn't in it.
"Hey," he noticed the worry on her face. "I'm fine, Sis. Better than fine now."
She ruffled his hair. "Tell me about the fight."
Shingo sighed. "We've heard that there were problems with breakaway factions of the military, or with people who have decided they don't want to submit to your rule. Some people feel that your taking power is a callback to the War and the military rule."
Her blood went icy with rage. Shingo must have seen something on her face, because he said, "That's why we needed to do something, Sis, because they're wrong."
"I should have done something, not you. How many..."
"Mostly like me, a few worse off... but no one was killed."
She stared off for a bit, thinking. If there were still pockets of resistance, they might whip up others into frenzy, and she'd have a full-blown war on her hands. They couldn't afford that. She had to do something.
"I won't allow it!" Rei and Haruka shouted.
"Too bad," Serenity snapped. She stood, shoving herself away from the table. She stalked around the table to glare up at Haruka. Belatedly, she realized that the effect wasn't nearly as impressive as she'd wanted it to be, with the ten or so inches difference between them. She looked at Rei, who was closer in height but it still wasn't the same. She huffed. "Like I told everyone else. If I rule, then I rule. I'm making decisions, now why is no one listening to me?"
"Maybe it's because you're making all the dumb decisions, idiot," Rei told her.
"How is quelling a rebellion a dumb decision?"
"The last time you tried that, you got shot!"
"Kitten, we need to do this rationally."
"I am doing this rationally! Being irrational means abusing the power of the Crystal and changing everyone's minds for them!" Serenity gasped, and covered her mouth.
Rei and Haruka blinked at her. "That's... that's what Usagi's mother did, isn't it?" Rei asked.
Serenity twisted her mouth into a frown. "Yes, but... I was hoping to not do it that way..."
"It might be the only way," Haruka said.
"No! No, I won't force people to bow to me. That's not how it should be done! I want to talk to them, rationally! I want them to understand and accept me!"
"So what, you're going to visit every town, every city, every backwater hermit-house in this country until everyone knows you and accepts you as queen?!" Rei snapped.
Serenity looked at her. "You know I will. And I can't do it alone, Rei."
Rei pursed her lips and said nothing for several tense moments. Then she sighed exasperatedly. "Fine. You're going to do it whether I like it or not... Haruka, let's split everyone up. Endymion will stay here to receive the audiences Her Royal Pain-in-the-Rump will be ignoring while we frolic along the mountainsides, and he'll need a guard."
Haruka pushed her hair back in annoyance. "So that's why you're so eager to go... you just don't want to deal with the zaibatsu."
Serenity merely smiled her thanks.
And so, for almost a month, Serenity went from town to town, speaking with anyone they met along the way and turning skeptics into loyal citizens. Almost all of them, anyway. A few would need action to convince them, but Serenity assured them that there was enough work to be done that they would be able to make a sound decision about her character in due time.
Usagi came with them, hoping that the increased distance between her and baby Chibiusa would allow for longer stretches of time spent in the present. Venus and Mars accompanied them, as did Saturn and Uranus. When Serenity had pressed her, Uranus merely said that she didn't trust Serenity out of her sight for more than a few minutes, and that Michiru had needed some time to herself. Saturn was cheerful about coming along, saying that it was fun to finally be involved and invested full-time in Sailor business. Serenity hoped she still felt that way in a few years.
In some towns, they were able to send word ahead to announce Serenity's arrival. In those cases, the towns and villages were able to call in any outliers, so they wouldn't have to go door-to-door in the countryside. The few times that they did these one-on-ones usually resulted in meetings that went longer than the larger town meetings. Serenity would become actively invested in the peoples' lives, asking specific questions and inquiring about what she could do better as a ruler that would help them. Her guardians would practically have to drag her away, but the result was always a sympathetic and loyal citizen, with promises to help change the minds of any neighbors who doubted her.
Finally, after four weeks of traveling, they returned to Tokyo. Serenity was pleasantly surprised to see Endymion handling ambassador requests with the delicacy of a practiced politician. "Mamo-chan, I don't know what I'd do without you," she told him when he finished catching her up on what had happened in her absence; she kissed him thoroughly.
"And I take it your progress went well?" He asked.
She nodded. "There's a lot of work to be done, but I think... I think we have most everyone on board. And I didn't have to use the Crystal on anyone."
The silence in the room pressed down on her. She realized that, after so many long weeks of people talking at her, yelling, nagging, begging, and just generally communicating around her...
She was alone. She had a moment to herself, for the first time since before the disaster. Endymion was there, but not as someone who needed her. He was with her. Experiencing this first moment of quiet after so long.
The weight of everything that had happened over the past months crashed over her. The disaster, the destruction, losing everything they had once known, her friends being hurt, her family being torn apart, her father's death, being shot at herself...
Serenity wrapped herself in her husband's arms and cried. Neither said a word; he held her and stroked her hair while she cried out her sorrow, her frustration, and even her joy that the worst had not come to pass.
She was alive.
They all were.
And it felt so, so good to experience it.
"Well?" Venus asked.
They were gathered at the top of the shrine steps. Venus and Jupiter lounged on the stairs themselves, with Saturn sitting next to them and holding Junpei's hand. Hiro stood to one side, looking out of place next to Luna and Artemis. Mars, Mercury, and Neptune sat on the wall, with Uranus behind them. Sailor Moon gave them all a cheerful wave. "I'll tell Puu you all say hello, and that you'll be expecting regular reports from her now."
"I'm sure she knows that," Serenity said, shifting Chibiusa to sit higher on her hip.
"I'll remind her."
"Behave yourself," Endymion told her.
"I always do," Sailor Moon made a face.
"Tell your Senshi about what you did here. Maybe they'll listen now," Saturn told her.
The princess shrugged. "We'll see about that... more like they'll be impressed I snuck out and played least-in-sight with them for so long."
Serenity held out her hand. Sailor Moon clasped it. "Thank you, Chibiusa," she said. "For everything."
Sailor Moon stuck out her tongue. "Odango atama. Just don't let this happen again, I don't want to have to come back and kick your butt for causing us problems."
Serenity laughed, and wiped away a tear. "Get out of here, squirt."
Sailor Moon took out her Time Key and thrust it into the sky. "Oh, before I go... What're you going to do about the palace?"
Serenity smiled. "We'll take care of it."
A pink column of light temporarily blinded everyone, and then it, and Sailor Moon, were gone. Serenity hugged Chibiusa, who burbled in confusion. "You grow up to be a good girl, just like she did," she murmured into her daughter's hair.
"So what are we going to do about the palace?" Venus asked.
Luna touched her chin, thinking. "And there's location to think about..."
Serenity sniffed, and wiped her eyes quickly. "Well... Obviously I've never done this before, but I had... I had one idea."
Chibiusa screeched when she was handed over to her father. Serenity summoned the Crystal, and closed her eyes. She took a breath and let it out slowly. 'I wish for a place to raise our daughter in safety. Where no harm can come to her within its walls, or her daughter after her, or her descendents after. I wish for a harmonious place where we can live in peace and prosperity, a symbol for our people to know that we are entering a new, prosperous era, with rulers they can trust and love. I wish for a place of hope, from which the Moon Kingdom would be proud to call its capital. I wish...'
The Crystal blazed, and the air sparkled. The ground trembled slightly. Venus and Neptune glanced at each other nervously, hoping this minor earthquake wouldn't scare anyone to a dangerous level again. Jupiter stood and pointed. "Look!"
The burned out area of the government quarter shone as pillars of crystal thrust themselves into the air. The moon, suddenly full overhead, flared with silver light; the sky darkened as a pillar of silver light descended and hit the newly born crystal spears. Everyone threw their arms over their faces to block out the light. Chibiusa wailed.
And as suddenly as it began, it stopped. Serenity swooned, and Mercury rushed to catch her as the Crystal vanished. Jupiter pointed again, silently this time.
Where the moonbeam had struck stood the tallest crystal pillar in the group. They could make out a darker spot inside the top. Wordlessly, Mercury took one side of Serenity, and Mars the other, and everyone walked to the new palace.
Within a few blocks Serenity was able to walk on her own again. The monument was a clear destination, and one that people had noticed already. Their group soon became the leaders of a parade of people streaming to the new Crystal Palace. A crowd had gathered at the monument by the time they reached it. Serenity hesitated in front of so many people, but strode forward, her head held high.
She felt a new weight on her head as she crossed the threshold between two crystal pillars. Reaching up, she felt the curves and swoops of metal in her new crown. She swallowed hard, and turned to face everyone. Endymion, still holding Chibiusa, stood at her side, with her guardians flanking them on either side. She raised her arms in welcome to the crowd, and called in a clear voice, "From here, the Crystal Palace of Tokyo, we will begin again. With love and determination, we will rise up, and we will prosper once more. I'll need your help. Citizens of Tokyo, will you help me?"
There was a murmur across the crowd. Serenity felt her mouth go dry with nerves. Finally, one person shouted, "Long live Queen Serenity!"
Her heart swelled. Other voices joined in, until the entire crowd, and possibly the entire city, cheered.
"Hail Queen Serenity! Long live the Queen!"
((Thank you so much for everyone who has stuck with me over this very long story, both in terms of worth count and time. I appreciate all of the hits, the reviews, the shares, the fic recs, everything, you all really are what kept me going when I would have just given up on what turned out to be an enormous effort in terms of research and dedication to writing. And I'm about to do it all over again, since today marks the start of National Novel Writing Month! :)
I know some of the pacing in these last two chapters has been a little choppy, but the recovery portion of a rebellion is the part that people skip over for a reason: it's boring and wordy! Maybe in a few months when the fandom gets going again with the new anime revival I'll take a look at revising this, fixing the pacing in some areas and cutting down on some others.
Thank you all so much again, and I hope you enjoyed it! I hope I was able to grab as many loose ends as possible and tie this up in a satisfactory way! Thank you thank you thank you, and happy reading everyone!))