A/N: Hello again, loyal readers! Getting into some of the good stuff now; love it! Hang in there with me, more surprises, twists, and turns. As always, thank you for those that continue to support the story and provide me feedback. Thank you! Onwards with the fic!
Read and review, por favor :)
Disclaimer: You guessed it! No property/ownership of quoted Sailor Moon properties in this 'fic. Just some good ol' fandom.
"I can't be sure, Haruka." Setsuna said to the blonde, in reference to the guardian Kali.
"So why bother saying anything at all then?" Haruka seemed a bit irate at Setsuna's mention of Kali, and her possible affiliation as a guardian; an ally perhaps. The time guardian was obviously certain enough so that she would be warranted to say anything at all. Now she took a more neutral stance as if she knew nothing.
Haruka felt the time guardian was more informed than she was letting on. Michiru walked in silence next to her partner, hands still interlocked. She could feel the athlete's hand tense up in her own. She mentally shook her head, thinking on how easy it was to set Haruka's short fuse ablaze. Smiling, she squeezed the other woman's hand as a gesture of reassurance. Though Haruka said nothing, Michiru still sensed the woman was fuming internally.
"Besides...we already told those girls more than I certainly wanted to tell them." The other two women rolled their eyes at this, Haruka's humor once more making a reappearance. "And they got to oggle me...really, how generous do we have to be?" Haruka seemed seriously bothered by the latter.
For a brief moment, the couple exchanged glances. Michiru's eyes spoke to her partner; stop.
Haruka's grin responded, displacing her fury with amusement. Tossing a quick wink at Michiru, the blonde looked forward once more. At this, Michiru felt her heart melt just the slightest. As far as charmers went, the violinist certainly knew how to pick them.
"There are new enemies with so many unknowns on each and every frontier we turn to." Setsuna began by saying out of the silence. "Old ones who still need destroying. A possible threat of indoctrinated victims throwing their lives away..." she paused, stopping as she did. This prompted the couple in front of her to stop as well, turning their bodies to face the time guardian.
Haruka and Michiru uncoupled their hands, sensing Setsuna's words as incredibly solemn ones. She hardly ever spoke anything of any other nature. Their faces hardened, perhaps expecting to be reprimanded for their open romance. Instead, Setsuna met their expressions with a smile. "And you two still find a way to fall in love. Uranus, Neptune...you will, in no lifetime, ever cease to amaze me as a pair." They stood there, the three of them, reveling in the moment.
"Individually though you two are about as predictable as they come." Amused with herself, the green haired time guardian began her walk once more, leaving the two other women behind her.
Haruka, shaking her head before speaking, called out to her friend. "Well when you've been around as long as you have, Setsuna," Behind her, Setsuna could hear a playful smack, more than likely Michiru reprimanding Haruka for being her typical self. "Really, Haruka...more age jokes? Further supporting my point of your incredibly predictive nature."
To the inner soldiers, every time they were just adapting to a new piece of information, the games of war they played seemed to develop an entirely new set of rules. Before, it was simple enough. Daimons are created for whatever intended purpose; destroy them, save pure hearts, return said hearts to owners; wait for new developments or leads. It was fairly cut and dry
For these new set of unknowns they had just been delivered, it made life so much more incredibly unfair and unpredictable.
The five girls walked in relative silence as they embarked on the path back to Rei's home.
"How do you beat something like that?" Makoto asked, bothered by the eerie silence. Usually someone was usually crying (Usagi), someone else yelling (Rei), someone else contributing to the silence (Ami), or someone audibly oggling a handsome boy nearby (Minako); the quiet storm lingering over the usually chatty girls was unnerving to Makoto.
Each of their faces calculated their answers, knowing what Makoto asked was not what she truly meant. It was Ami, most surprisingly to speak and clarify the question.
"What you mean is, how can we kill innocent people, Mako-chan." It was uttered so silently, hardly above a whisper; but they had all heard it, as they had all been pondering the same.
Usagi was typically wavering in her maturity, wisdom, but never her morality. In spite of all of it, she was their leader. Her moral guidance in dire situations is what made her, to the outers, appear as an extreme idealist. Never losing faith in humanity; that was Usagi, a true optimist. If anyone had a legitimate word on this, Usagi would; so Makoto figured. Yet, the blonde leading their small pack remained mute.
Makoto took this as a cue to attempt to elicit a response from her. "Usagi?" Makoto called to the girl. She was stirred from her thoughts with the mention of her name, raising her head in the direction of Makoto's voice.
"Hmm?" Usagi inquired to the taller girl. "What's your take on all of this new information?" Makoto reiterated, trying to bring Usagi back to the issues at hand. Makoto, as the other girls, sought something from their leader to rally the girls and put them at ease. This was a tall order to fill.
Usagi brought her head back down to her thoughts, pondering once more. Watching the ground where she walked; not in an attempt to ensure she wouldn't trip, she would do that regardless. It was almost an attempt to avoid eye contact; Usagi knew no more than the rest of them.
She hesitated still, truly unsure of her own thoughts on the matter. It was Luna who swooped in to offer a voice of guidance, as she and Artemis so often did.
"There is no one of us any wiser than the other; we're in it together on this ladies." spoke the dark feline, unwavering in her confidence.
"But we all have opinions, Luna. I'd like to know Usagi's too." Rei shot back in retort, bordering on hostility. "This is a sensitive issue girls; let's sleep on this for the night, and hopefully something different will appear in the next couple of days. It's not a great way to think, but it's better than what we have right now." Artemis spoke, seemingly in defense of his feline counterpart.
Usagi remained trapped in her own thoughts, unwilling to submit to the pressure of her friends. The answer for this did not come easy; they all knew that. It set each of them on edge, raising questions, tempers, and whatever else came with a general lack of information about an unfortunate situation. In response, Usagi shook her head slowly, then spoke. "We can't allow the slaughter of innocent people."
This much was clear to all, but to hear Usagi issue it almost as an order, is what seemed the most perplexing to Makoto.
"You heard Haruka and them, Usagi." Minako piped up, offering her two cents. "It doesn't really seem like there's any other choice."
"We can kill these people, who have no control over their thoughts or actions..." Ami said, following up Minako's statement further. "Or, we can let them sacrifice themselves to whatever this new enemy is, and allow them to be stronger."
Rei nodded, agreeing with Ami's implied message and commenting one step more. "Either way, innocent people will die. You have to see this Usagi." The color seemed to drain all from Usagi's face.
She stopped in her tracks, allowing herself to fall a bit behind her friends. "Absolutely not!" Usagi spoke loudly, furrowing her eyebrows, tears threatening to break free at any given moment. "That's NOT what we do!"
The group of girls turned to look at the blonde haired girl, some confused, angry, or saddened by the reality of things.
"Usagi, we don't have a choice! Look at the options." Rei stepped up short of Usagi, attempting to be within an arms reach of the other girl. More than likely not for the sake of comfort; that was never the case with Usagi and Rei being in each other's faces. "Don't be stupid!"
"Well they said that about Hotaru too, Rei; but guess what? She's alive because of how we protected her!" This was an unforgettable fact, with all of them. How could they forget, the troubled friend of Chibi-Usa? Haruka, Michiru and Setsuna had condemned the existence of Sailor Saturn from the beginning; ultimately, Hotaru. Her appearance would bring about the silence, the end of all they knew and loved. It was imperative she be killed.
But Usagi would hear nothing of it; how could a girl so innocent, so loved by her own daughter be condemned to slaughter?
"The outers were wrong before; they can be wrong again." Usagi attempted to quell the tears that wanted so badly to break free, but she knew it wasn't the time to look weak. For once this was not a time she wanted to cry in front of her friends.
As Usagi began walking once more, again talking the lead of her group, Makoto let the dialogue of their conversation repeat itself in her head. Sure, Usagi could be right...but could they risk a complete lack of involvement until new information was uncovered? If they did something; people would die. If they sat passively in the background, oblivious to the occurrences before them, people would die. There is no way to win.
Eventually all traces of sadness, anger, and confusion was removed from the five faces. Silence once more ensued them, but it was met with much more appreciation this time; better it than conflict.
"Ami, can you speak more on Kali as a religious figure?" Luna spoke, inquiring out of curiosity.
The blue haired girl nodded in response, turning her attention to the cat. "Yes, like I was saying...she is of Hindu descent. I'm not sure she really plays any relevance with this person Haruka mentioned, but it's always good..." Ami hesitated, unsure of her next words. Luna finished them, adding "to have a bit of extra information?" she offered.
Smiling, the blue haired girl nodded in eager agreement. "She has that name for some reason or another. It's not a very common name anyhow..."
Ami shook her head attempting to refocus the conversation. "Kali is the consort of Shiva; Shiva is the Hindu god of destruction." The girls looked nervous at the mention of this, but looked to Ami further. "But, it's not destruction as in the bad way." This drew confused looks from the other girls once more.
Makoto laughed a bit, but asked anyways. "When is destruction not bad?" The girls all nodded in agreement, clearly wondering the same.
The turned at the corner of a street, marked by a partly functioning streetlight. Looked as if someone had hit it with their car.
"If you consider a western theology such as Christianity; look at their myths. The world is corrupted, and it is destroyed. Flooded to be exact." They all nodded in understanding, seeing the relevance of destruction not always being a terrible theme. "Hinduism has a similar myth, though different names and plots are involved...but essentially, the world is corrupted, and wiped clean." "But...Kali is often referred to as "the black one."" They waited, wondering the same thing more than likely.
"So...are you going to tell us that being "the black one" doesn't necessarily qualify you as a force of evil?" Rei asked.
Ami thought on it, but shook her head in disagreement with the question. "No, I think the alias is pretty exact. Shiva is somewhat redeemable, but from what hindu theology implies...Kali is fierce."
The silence once again permeated the air around them.
"Yikes." Minako spoke, seemingly intimidated of the description of the goddess. A nervous laugh ensued, to break the tension.
"She's supposedly very maternal though; so perhaps she is fierce and dangerous in that respect. The same protective manner as if a mother protecting her child." Ami offered, considering the validity of Kali's reputation as an incredibly feared entity perhaps misunderstood.
"Basically, if Kali existed, she would destroy us all." Makoto spoke, smiling foolishly as she did so.
Rei nodded, agreeing to Makoto's statement. "Decimate."
"No, that's not at all what I was saying..." Ami started by saying, but not before being interrupted by Luna. "Ladies; what your preconceptions or views on the deity Kali are, are somewhat pointless. THIS Kali in Haruka's premonitions, is possibly a guardian entity, of our kingdom."
The girls took to approaching the lengthy stairs of Rei's family temple, the natural light of the moon their reliable guide in a shroud of darkness.
"In the same as Pluto existing as the guardian of time?" Ami asked, hushing her voice slightly more as they approached the main entryway.
Luna hesitated, they could all see this, but all were too weary to care. The emotional and physical wear of the day had ground them all into exhaustion. "I can't be sure." The only felines in the group exchanged eye contact for a brief moment, breaking quickly.
"We have a hunch, but it's better our assumptions remain unsaid. They would cause some unnecessary..." Artemis continued on with Luna's statement, but not before receiving a stare down by the other cat. "concerns." he concluded, not attempting to incite a riot with Luna.
"Whatever." Usagi mumbled before yawning; the walk to Rei's temple was always an exhausting one, and the walk tonight was no exception. The girls went to their common room they typically shared for such overnight stays at the temple. Going about their pre-bed routines, all five girls hastily hustled into their respective sleeping spots, letting the idle chit chat die off as they lay gazing at the ceiling.
It didn't take long for most of them to submit willingly to sleep; but for one such guardian, it eluded.
The dark feline sat in the perch of the window, looking out to the land the moon shone down upon. The crescent upon her head was well visible in the natural light of the object in the twilight sky. In her thoughts, Luna understood Setsuna thought the same as her with the mention of Kali; she also understood the hesitance for even mentioning the guardian. It was almost a traitorous act in the moon kingdom to speak of such.
Kali. Luna thought to herself on this name, secretly hoping this Kali of Haruka's premonitions was not in any way connected to the Kali they knew of the past.
We cannot trust her treacherous words, if she is the same.
"I mean, really Michiru, have you never wondered the same?" the blonde seemed genuinely dumbfounded.
The violinist stood against the railing on the rooftop of a scene they frequented often; it offered a tranquil, calming environment. Thinking back to the question posed by her partner, Michiru thought on it.
"Setsuna is a mysterious woman, Haruka. She has her ways." Smiling sweetly, she turned to look at her companion; perplexed by the thought of it. "She just disappears, appears, disappears again; but how?" The aqua-marine haired woman shook her head, not attempting to create a logical pattern to the complexity of Setsuna's random appearances.
"I think we have more pressing issues than Setsuna's disappearing/reappearing act, don't you agree?" Michiru stood straight, holding her arms against her body, facing her partner.
This erased all humor from the racer's face. Sighing, Haruka placed herself back into the grim reality of things; seeming as if there was never a break in the vicious cycle that had become their "duty".
"Unfortunately, I'll agree with you on that." Supplying her comment with a nod, Haruka continued. "You know as well as I do there is nothing further we can do on this." Haruka leaned with her back against the rail, facing the other woman who stood inches away from her.
"Keep fighting the good fight, right?" Michiru said reassuringly, a smile tugging gently at her lips.
Haruka scoffed at the terminology used by her partner. "What good fight? The fights we are compelled to fight are either a waste of time, or involve a complete reassessment of our humanity." Turning away from her mate, Haruka faced the expansive view of the city once more. Her fists gripping the solid railing, attempting to clear her mind of the sentence Michiru had uttered. There is no good fight in this line of work, she thought morbidly. The only reason the recent turn of events had hardly affected her was due to the fact how hardened she had already become due to their strife endured thus far.
Just when the racer kept wondering how things could unravel and develop any worse; the gods read her mind, and grant her with a new way. This new twist of evil, was completely despicable. Yet the soldier in her found it easy to decide which innocents needed to die. It sounded cold to Haruka, but she knew ultimately what she would do.
There were two possibilities in which innocents died, in Haruka's mind. Either kill the indoctrinated innocents to prevent the assimilation of their beings into this new force. Or, permit the innocents to live, converge into the form of their enemy, and risk losing countless more innocents to the deviations of the foreign enemy. Haruka would kill the innocents summoned to be the indoctrinated victims; they could not allow this new enemy to come into existence.
"Haruka?" the sweet sound of her partner's voice lifted her out of her cold thoughts. Rather than respond, the athlete tilted her head in the other woman's direction, locking eye contact.
"Don't leave me while you drift into your own thoughts; tell me." the smaller woman insisted, not wanting to be left out of Haruka's thoughts.
The blonde hesitated, wondering whether Michiru would truly agree on her determination with the situation. "Michiru..." she started, trying to consolidate her thoughts into an appropriately formed question. "We've had difficult decisions to make in the past...ethically questionable at times." Haruka spoke, turning her head to the city once more. She felt the violinist take gentle steps toward the railing, to stand next to her partner.
"Do you find this new situation any different?" Haruka asked, but did not let her attention stray from the beautiful lights of the darkened city. Michiru seemed thoughtful in her answer, as she did not immediately respond; she thought on it, as it was a difficult one.
"It's different in more ways than we know, this much is clear." spoke Michiru, switching her eyes from Haruka to the same scene the blonde gazed upon. "But, you know as well as I do...what is going to be the best course of action in this. Kali said it clearly and concisely; innocents will die." Haruka felt reassured at the words, reflecting the same as her own. They both knew this, they never denied this in any scenario. The best thing they could do was to minimize the causalities as much as possible. This was often the reality of their missions.
"When we find these targets, we'll try to help..." This took Haruka by surprise; her partner was almost always in agreement with her on their mission objectives. Haruka hadn't counted on any plausible possibility that the targets were able to be recovered; the blonde considered them a lost cause as soon as they were identified. It was the sad reality of things to Haruka; can't save everyone.
"And if that's not possible?" Haruka inquired, still not taking her eyes from the scene of the city. Her hands visibly tightened on the rail, tense with the present subject.
Michiru shook her head, sighing at the same. "Then we pray the next life fares better for them. We can't afford for them to become recovered by the enemy." Michiru's answer was clear, it made sense. "If we can't save them, we'll kill them. You're a bit more optimistic than I am." It was at this, Haruka turned her body away from the city and looked at Michiru. There was pain in the blondes eyes, yet a certain hardness to them as well.
"Everyone has a chance to be saved, Haruka." Michiru's own eyes struck solemnly; "But don't reduce this all to numbers; that's when the fine line between sacrifice and massacre disappears, and the distinction between us and our enemy becomes harder to tell."