The grounds of the castle shone in the silvery aura of the moon, their colors fading quickly as candles lighting rooms in the palace were extinguished. Most residents, having retired to their rooms hours ago, were climbing into their beds for the night, but on a dark balcony overlooking the gardens below stood a pair of young boys, one older than the other by two summers. The younger had thick black hair cut short; the older had silver hair that reached to his shoulders. He was leaning on the grey stone banister, staring out over the expanse of the gardens and enjoying the peace. The night was quiet but for the symphony of crickets and the breeze through the treetops, which brought with its cool kiss a scent of fresh roses stolen from the flower beds below. He was just thinking about what his father had told him earlier – that he was the Prince's advisor now, his guardian and his confidant. He knew the prince well and liked his character, but he wondered what his future might bring…
"Kunzite?" the younger boy asked, staring intently up into the night sky.
"Yes, Prince Endymion?" he answered, turning his gaze upon his young friend.
The moon was reflected in the younger boy's eyes and he did not break eye contact with it as he spoke, "what would it be like to live on the moon?"
Kunzite thought for a moment. In his lessons he had learned about the kingdoms on Earth – the kingdoms of the four cardinal directions that were under the Earth Kingdom's rule – and had learned about the different landscapes and animals and had even met other boys from the different kingdoms who had come to live at the castle, too. But he had only heard that there was a kingdom on the moon, nothing more. "Well," he said, thinking back to what he had heard in his science lessons, "it's probably cold, and there aren't any trees there… the ground is all white and covered in powdery sand. They have water up there, like we do, but everything is lighter on the moon because it's smaller than Earth."
The young prince seemed to be listening but did not respond. "Why do you ask, my Prince?" Kunzite prompted curiously.
Endymion broke his gaze and looked at his friend, "it's beautiful, but looks really lonely." Endymion looked away, down into the gardens. "Hey!" he turned back to Kunzite, "I have an idea! Do you think we could go there one day?"
Kunzite was a bit taken aback. Go to the moon? But why? It's perfect right where they were. But Endymion looked like he was serious, so Kunzite really considered. Sometimes one of the King's assistants went to the moon, and sometimes a blonde-haired woman came down to Earth to talk to the King about the moon, so maybe she came from there. It might be possible for them to go sometime. "I think it's possible, Prince," he replied.
"Really?" Endymion smiled, "I would really like to go. I want to bring them flowers."
"Flowers?" Kunzite repeated, confused by the young prince's suggestion. "Why would you want to bring them flowers?"
"Flowers always cheer people up. I want them to not feel lonely anymore."
Jewels of the Moon Kingdom
Everything was quiet and still. The teen sat alone on a bench beside a porthole in the ship, enamored by the spacescape just outside the window. The impenetrable blackness of it all, dotted with pinpricks of pure, white light. Glowing with a bright heavenly aura, the moon hung suspended in space, growing bigger with the approach. Endymion stared through the tinted window at the surface, examining the various craters of its pockmarked surface. The moon was so empty, so devoid of life – nothing like Earth and its trees, its winds, the wildlife…
A door whisked open and closed behind him. A glance told him it was Kunzite, whom smiled and inclined his head in greeting. Endymion raised a hand in welcome and turned back to the window.
"Strange, isn't it?" Kunzite said, taking a seat beside him on the window bench, "to realize how small our planet really is?"
Endymion rested his forehead on the cool glass, keeping an eye on the approaching moon. Though he did not say it, he was thinking of all the life found on Earth – even if his planet looked miniature in the big scheme of things, he would never think of it as being small, not holding all of those creatures and foliage.
"It looks lonely, even," Kunzite added, turning his attention towards the window.
"If anything is lonely, it's the moon," Endymion said, not breaking his gaze, "The surface is barren and monochrome – all of its wildlife are in zoos and were brought there from Earth. The plants are imported – only the people are native, and there aren't many of them. It's a sad little thing, all alone," the prince paused then turned his blue eyes to his companion, "so, if anything is lonely, it's the moon."
Kunzite smiled unexpectedly. "You know, you said something very similar about ten years ago," he said.
Endymion sat up, "What?"
"Yeah," Kunzite confirmed, "You said something about the moon looking really lonely," he reached into his jacket pocket and brought out a small flower bud, its roots wrapped securely in a soft white cloth, "and you wanted to give them a rose from the garden to make them happier." He offered the rose to the prince, who took it, still looking taken aback.
"Really?" Endymion asked, though he knew it must be true. Kunzite's memory was excellent, and it wasn't the first time he thought the moon looked lonely.
"Yes," Kunzite nodded, "but you know what? Since then I've thought about it, and I have to disagree."
"You do, huh?" the prince asked with a raised eyebrow, placing the plant gently in his lap.
"The moon isn't lonely at all – it's always with Earth. The two are pulled towards each other, locked together forever. So even if it isn't brimming with life and the elements, it is never alone."
"Locked together?" Endymion looked back to the bright white moon, mentally evaluating Kunzite's interpretation. "I guess so…" he replied, not entirely convinced. Watching over something, but never quite being able to enjoy what it has? He didn't quite believe that that would make it feel less lonely.
The intercom clicked on, a voice announcing that the ship was readjusting to orbit around to the Mare Serenitatis; the ship slowed and began drifting to the right, towards the day/night line of the moon.
"Could you imagine what it's like to have two weeks of day and two weeks of night?" Endymion wondered aloud, his eyes glued once again to the moon.
Kunzite considered, "It would take some getting used to… but I hear they have artificial darkness and daylight for those periods. Think of it though – how beautiful must it be to see the Earth go through phases, instead of the moon? To be able to see cloud patterns and storms from above?"
The prince thought, and suddenly wished to visit the moon during its weeks of darkness, when the Earth would be full. "Do you think the Earth is in its "new" phase now?"
"Probably waxing crescent, since the moon was waning gibbous," the general said offhandedly.
The two sat in silence for a time as the moon drifted past.
"Who is the ruler of the moon?" Kunzite quizzed unexpectedly.
It took Endymion a second to remember, sifting through hundreds of names and faces before he could place the Queen of the moon, "The moon is a monarchy under the rule of Queen Serenity. No king is said to have ever been in rule."
"Her advisors are?"
"They go by the name Luna and Artemis, but none from Earth have ever met with them."
"The royal family?"
"A princess, Princess Serenity, who bares remarkable resemblance to the Queen, they say." Endymion had always wondered a bit at that – no king or courtier ever mentioned of the Queen, yet she had a daughter, and the daughter was as spitting image. It was odd, but it didn't seem so be an item of mystery for the moon people.
"The princess has guardians. Their names and ranks?"
"Er…" Endymion thought for a second. They had something to do with the planets…
Kunzite counted down, "Three…. Two…. One…. Sailor Senshi, Sailor Venus, Sailor –"
Endymion interrupted, "Mercury, Mars and Jupiter. Venus is the leader and they are rumored to be princesses of their respective planets, though we have no record of civilizations on those planets."
Kunzite looked him over, his green eyes critical. "Well, you'll do. Zoisite is in charge of memorizing names of any officials we meet beyond those that you already know; he'll be at your shoulder as usual, so work out a sign if you forget a name and he'll jump right in. No worries, no one expects this to be an official Earth visit, just a prince getting to know the alliance. I think there's a ball in store for tonight, thrown in honor of your visit. Your state attire will be waiting for you in your room when you arrive; we'll be staying in the palace."
"How long are we staying, again?" Endymion asked, thinking of his horse, his forest, and the gardens waiting back at home.
Kunzite smiled slyly, "Thinking of going back already?"
"I just don't think I'll be comfortable here."
His expression did not change. Endymion was just about to question it when the door behind them slid open with another soft whisk. Jadeite walked in, the younger general wearing confidence like a cape.
"We've got about an hour left before we land, so… what do you two say to a game of cards?" he asked deviously.
Kunzite stood, "You sound like you think you have a chance at beating me."
"A chance? Ha! I have much more than a chance," Jadeite responded with a bark of a laugh, cockily striking a pose. "When I'm through with you, you're going to wish you had declined my offer!" A moment passed in complete silence. Clearing his throat, Jadeite dropped the pose and the air of extreme arrogance as he redirected his gaze from Kunzite. "What about you, Prince Endymion? Would you like to play?"
The black-haired boy considered the blonde and his offer. Cards, or staring at the moon? Sure, tough choice. "I'll play. Which game?" He placed the budding rose carefully into an inner pocket of his jacket, instinctively keeping it safe.
"Not poker – you owe me too much already, Jadeite," Kunzite admonished.
"I could win it all back—"
"Or you could end up owing me much, much more. Face it: you just don't have a poker face. What else can you think of?" Kunzite walked to the door, Endymion joining them both.
As the door whisked open, Jadeite offered several other card games, "Euchre?"
"Nah, I might end up paired with you or Nephrite," Kunzite vetoed.
"Hey! Now that's just uncalled for!"
"How about hearts?" Endymion suggested as the door closed behind them.