A/N: Hello folks; another chapter up :) Always fun to write, even with these longer breaks in between chapters. I'll be posting another one shortly, maybe this weekend. Not much to say on this one, hope you all have the opportunity to leave a comment, critique, or just a hello! Thank you.
Disclaimer: You guessed it - I own nothing related to Sailor Moon or anything else. Just a fan borrowing their wonderfully creative characters.
The environment Haruka found herself in wasn't a particularly uplifting one.
There was an endless abyss around her as far as she could see, indicative of a western interpretation of limbo. It wasn't an illuminating atmosphere, but it certainly wasn't a brimstone and hell type either. Without much consideration, she understood where she was, and hardly felt herself surprised by it.
Haruka's foreboding dreams had made a return, for reasons unknown to her; they were back. Rather than be fearful, Haruka was eager. Eager to address the nature of these dreams and unveil the intended message.
These dreams were so distinct to her, they hardly felt like dreams. It felt so incredibly real to her, which provoked the fear, long after the dream had disappeared, to grip her holds of sanity while in waking. Most dreams you could dismiss as just that; dreams. Not reality. Such was not the case with Haruka's new series of dreams.
She walked warily, expecting to confront the specter at any given time. The mysterious nature of the shrouded figure aided in painting a rather dark picture to these premonitions, for their affiliation still remained as much of question as their identity; friend or foe?
Her steps took her further to nowhere in particular, as there were no distinguishing markers in the solitude of the abyss. It was dark, but not out of despair. The floor beneath her bare feet had no feel to it. She knew there was a solid surface she walked upon, but the texture of it was indeterminable. Everything was a mystery about these dreams.
Stopping, she reassessed her surroundings. "Waiting on you, mystery man..." pausing, she gave it some thought. "Or woman." If she thought it to herself, or spoke it out loud, it mattered not. The specter seemed to be of some type of psychic nature.
"So you are, Tenoh Haruka." Spoke a voice steps behind Haruka. The blonde turned her attention quickly to the source of the sound.
"Stranger." Haruka said, turning her form to meet gazes. Cross her arms, she examined the person before her. The figure was shrouded physically, as expected. The identity of this anomaly could be verified no easier than in her past sequences.
"Let's cut to the chase." Haruka spoke quickly, not attempting to waste this random encounter.
The specter shook their head in disagreement. "I'm not here to entertain your inquiries, Uranus." This wasn't the first time the specter had referred to Haruka by her soldier identity; she found it unsettling. Moreso because she didn't have her sailor garb on, so the assumption could not be derived from that. Whoever they were, knowing her personal and soldier identity could pose a danger to her and her team. The specter's equally hasty response made Haruka grit her teeth, setting her on edge.
"So why are you in my head?" Haruka asked, not attempting to mask her anger. This person obviously knew what Haruka thought in any event, so putting on a façade would be moot.
"I'm not here to ally myself with you." The specter spoke, clarifying the question of allegiance Haruka had often wondered. Before Haruka could interrupt, the figure continued. "Nor am I to have you in my sights as an enemy."
Well so much for that, Haruka thought. Shaking her head, she stayed silent, waiting for the figure to continue. Moments of silence passed, and the blonde grew impatient.
"You said people are going to die. They'll know..." Haruka started, but not before being cut off by the specter. "And they will sacrifice themselves." The mystery figure confirmed and reiterated what was already known.
"You want to know why." The specter spoke silently, coldly. Again, Haruka said nothing in response. Instead, her silence acknowledged the specter. She took that moment to examine the image of the person before her. Cloaked in dark garments, from head to toe, the figure stood before Haruka, though considerably shorter in height. There were no physical characteristics Haruka could use to possibly identify this person. The voice, could belong to either a man or woman; this proved nothing to Haruka. Haruka wondered something else, aside of the person's physical traits.
"Who are you?" she asked seriously, tiring of referring to the anomaly before her as "the specter" or "the mystery figure".
"My identity is unnecessary for you to be aware of." The specter returned in reply. The blonde was having a hard time figuring out why this person was not considered an enemy. "Though an acceptable alias for you to call me would be Kali." This took Haruka back, as the specter offered an identity of sorts, more than likely one fabricated. But it was better than referring to the mystery person as "specter" or something equally uninformative.
The name Kali rang familiarity, with theology in particular. Shaking her head clear of these thoughts, Haruka pushed once more.
"Kali." She started, attempting to identify the specter with a proper name, rather than an ambiguous term. "Why do more innocents have to throw their lives away?"
For several moments, Kali remained silent; unmoved as if Haruka's words had fallen on deaf ears.
"You don't understand the nature of the enemy on the move towards you, Uranus. And the others." Thinking on the girls Haruka had to think of as part of her team, this worried her.
"Then tell me." She demanded, no longer attempting to negotiate with this neutral force. Uncrossing her arms, Haruka dropped them to her sides, balling her fists tightly in a show of defiance, as if she might act on her violent urges.
"Your enemy, has a way to indoctrinate it's targets." Haruka thought on the term indoctrinate; associating it with a form of brainwashing. This was typical of most enemies she fought, but with innocents; it was a threat like no other she and the soldier's had encountered. How could she kill innocents who were brain-washed into thinking they were doing the right thing? This information was new, and was certainly better than what her and Michiru had been operating on, but it seemed to insist on more questions than it did answers.
Kali paced slowly, displaying what seemed a sign of anxiousness, unveiling this new information to Haruka. Kali continued, speaking more on the subject. "These targets possess something, something even I am unsure of. It is a fiercely sought trait in the eyes of your enemy." Stopping, Kali turned their form once more to Haruka. Their eyes seemed to glow, devoid of pupils. It seemed completely inhuman, not typical of a mortal being.
"And they are brain-washed into believing the cause for their sacrifice is a worthy one; something worth their life, their entire being."
"What are they being sacrificed for?" Haruka inquired, releasing the tension she held in her hands, eager for understanding and clarity.
"A new enemy." Kali said solemnly; turning their body away from Haruka, Kali walked opposite the blonde. "I'll be in touch, Tenoh Haruka." with that, Kali was gone, and Haruka left with a hunger to know more, and understand the new forces at work in opposition of her.
Haruka shot up in the dark once more, quickly taking in her surroundings again. To her relief, she found herself in her home, in the company of the woman she loved. Haruka instantly stood up from her spot on the bed, turning on a light on her nightstand in the process. Walking to the bathroom in the hallway, she turned the cold water on, grabbing a handful from the faucet and splashing her face with it.
Too real...the "construction" of a new enemy? How is that possible? As Haruka pondered her thought process, they were interrupted by her partner's presence, leaning on the doorway frame of the bathroom. She wore a robe of Haruka's, a cream-colored one, quickly becoming a new favored garment for her.
"We know more now, Michiru." Haruka spoke morbidly, gazing at her reflection in the bathroom mirror overlooking the sink. "But now, I almost wish we didn't."
The blonde stood straight, turning to face her mate. Shaking her head, then proceeding to cross her arms, she sighed. "I wish I didn't know any of it."
Michiru stayed silent, listening to Haruka. Rather than say anything, she walked to the taller woman, embracing her. Michiru knew Haruka well; and she knew when the blonde needed reassurance, and when to back off.
"Let's talk about it." The violinist offered, taking Haruka from the bathroom to their kitchen.
Neither of them could sleep after Haruka awoke startled; this was typical. Instead, they settled for having tea together in the dark hours of the morning, long before the sun was expected to make it's appearance.
It hadn't taken long for Haruka to explain the contents of the dream, to include the identity of their mystery informant.
"Kali, is it?" Michiru inquired, though not necessarily out of question, but for the purpose of thinking aloud.
Haruka nodded, though understanding the necessity for Michiru asking. Haruka noted Michiru's expression, thinking, calculating, pondering. She was clearly still thinking on the name. Kali.
Haruka sat on one of the barstools, leaning her elbows on the countertop, hands supporting her face. Her gaze was transfixed on her still warm cup of tea, lost in her own thoughts. While her counterpart stood in the actual kitchen, also leaning on the countertop, studying Haruka's face. Standing, she spoke. "If it's of any relevance..." she paused, thinking on it before continuing. "Kali is a goddess in Hinduism, I believe."
This caused Haruka not to move anything but her eyebrows, in a quizzical manner. Eyes still focused on her now cooled tea, Haruka spoke. "So this Kali I've been communicating with..." she paused, thinking on it still. In reply, Michiru shook her head, in disagreement with Haruka's unvoiced opinion.
"You heard them yourself, Haruka. It's just an alias. The name could be indicative of something, but I am not inclined to believe they're along the lines of immortality." Michiru thought more on something, thinking Haruka might be pondering the same.
For several minutes, they stood in silence. Pondering the next move to anticipate this new foreign presence. It was Michiru who broke the quiet.
"This is something the inner soldiers need to be aware of as well, Haruka." This made the taller woman draw her eyes from her cup of tea, to her partner's face. She very much wanted to disagree with this, at least until there was more information. In return, Haruka shook her head in clear disagreement.
"We don't know enough Michiru. What could they possibly offer?" Michiru began walking off from the kitchen, presumably to ready herself for the day. "We won't know until we speak to them." Michiru offered before walking out of the room, adding a touch of finality to the discussion.
"I'm not telling them everything!" Haruka shouted, turning her head slightly toward the direction Michiru had walked off in.
From the hallway Michiru could be heard saying, "Well if the matter weren't so serious Haruka, I'm sure that would be a complete relief for them!"
Haruka grinned at this, knowing well Michiru was referencing Haruka's excessive need to inform the girls of "adult" things.
Haruka and Michiru had agreed on meeting with Usagi and crew in one of the local parks, in a typically desolate outdoor amphitheater. Granted, it was a small amphitheater, but it was the solitude of it that the women sought. It offered privacy, which was very well needed for the intent of relaying such sensitive information.
For the sake of maintaining a more secured privacy, the two parties agreed on meeting at night. Late enough where the sun had been long gone, and the moon having taken it's position high in the sky.
The couple walked as they typically did; close, but not connected. They always wanted to be in the arms of one another, attached somehow, but they both knew well the place and time for such things.
As they approached the pre-designated rendezvous, Haruka half expected to greet the girls still in their pajamas given the late hour. Rather, they were in their school clothes still which made Haruka arch her eyebrow in a questioning pose. Smiling, she stopped her and Michiru at the top of the stairs leading to the main platform where the girls were.
"Five pretty girls in school outfits at this hour?" Haruka couldn't help herself; she knew the necessity of maintaining seriousness, as always around these girls. She couldn't help missing them at times though, which made her save up all her witty comments for their next meeting; what better time than the present? "Well..." she stopped, looking at Michiru's own attire; they were no exception as they too were in their uniforms. Haruka in her plaid pants, blazer with her loosened tie. "My mistake; six."
Michiru looked to her partner, holding a chastising look. Shaking her head, she addressed the girls. "Ladies. Thank you for meeting us." She offered a polite bow, to which the inner soldiers returned.
They all nodded, obviously eager to hear what they had agreed to meet for. "I have to ask, before we continue..." Haruka started saying, but not before exchanging a quick glance with Michiru. "We have our reasons...but on your behalf, the uniforms?" she finished, expecting to be reprimanded once more; Michiru had to have known what the blonde was going to say. She always knew.
Instead Michiru's face remained motionless, unphased. Haruka had to assume it was because the violinist was just as curious as her.
The girls weren't expecting the question clearly, but Usagi spoke up. "The study session took FOREVER tonight; we told our parents we were spending the night at Rei's house." Haruka nodded in response, but still seemed perplexed. Rei spoke, seeing the racer's confused expression still.
"For once, Usagi is not exaggerating. We studied for-EVER." She said, placing emphasis on the last word. Ami nodded to support the claims by both girls. "I insisted we study a bit more. We still need to cover a bit more material before..." This made the group of girls look at Ami incredulously.
"Ami, you're insane. My brain is dead!" Usagi cried out.
"Usagi, we all know that's not new! Stop being a crybaby!" Rei said, turning her head towards Usagi.
"Seriously Usagi, you're such a blonde..." said Minako, then recalculating her thought process on said comment. "Wait. That's not what I meant!"
"You guys can't be serious." added in Makoto, covering her forehead with her palm out of exasperation.
"LADIES!" Artemis, of all parties included, spoke. "A little maturity at this late hour, would be helpful." he said, resuming his restful pose on the railing next to Luna. The girls ceased bickering, and provided their attention to the outer soldiers grudgingly.
"Errm...Setsuna?" One of the girls inquired out of the air of silence.
This made Haruka and Michiru exchange questionable glances. Well it certainly wouldn't surprise me,Haruka thought, recounting the various times just recently Setsuna had seemed to materialize out of thin air.
"Yes?" a voice called in response; none other than Setsuna herself. Approaching behind Haruka and Michiru, she took her respective place with her small knit group of outer soldiers.
"Apparently they had ninjas even in the silver millennium..." murmured Haruka, always curious as far as Setsuna's quick and sporadic appearances. Setsuna threw a smile at Haruka, before continuing. "Haruka, I believe we have a purpose for this gathering besides you oggling these school girls."
Haruka smiled, shaking her head. "Of course" she said with a cool confidence. Her face hardened, removing all traces of the smiles and grins from just moments past.
"If you hadn't known, I've been having dreams." Haruka hesitated on using the last word, as she felt these were not dreams; but warnings. Predictions. Blueprints for the future.
"Which sounds childish; but these are dreams similar to what Rei or Michiru might experience." The girls all expressed mixed reactions, between confusion to seriousness. Immediately, Haruka felt this was a mistake. But she also placed enough faith in Michiru in her guidance towards telling these girls as soldiers what was next on the tide of war.
One spoke up; Ami. "These are premonitions of a type, you believe?" the blue haired prodigy asked. Haruka and Michiru nodded in response.
"There is no doubt about their nature. These dreams are warnings." Michiru confirmed, reemphasizing the serious nature at hand. "There's something I sense about them, in the same way I did when I dreamt of the silence."
Haruka walked to lean against the same railing where Luna and Artemis sat, observing the discussion. Crossing her arms, she continued. "The threat and implication in these dreams is real. The specter who has warned me about the new threat is called Kali." Haruka continued solemnly. Michiru walked over towards her as well, standing next to her in a similar pose.
The girls absorbed the information, each calculating and interpreting the information differently. Apprehension with some, resolve with others. A new enemy was something they were not expecting upon being called to their meeting.
"Kali is a goddess in Hinduism..." Ami offered softly in a somewhat shy manner. "She's often associated with being the counterpart of Shiva." They nodded in acknowledgement of Ami's comment. She then continued, "she is also associated with death and destruction." This made all parties freeze and turn their gaze to meet Ami.
"But, this is just an alias. This...Kali, didn't want to give Haruka any more than that." Michiru reminded the girls they were not in dealings with a goddess. At this reminder the inner soldiers all seemed to be put at ease a bit, though still unwary or unsure.
Haruka continued for what seemed a lengthy amount of time, describing all the elements and discussions she'd had with Kali in her various dreams. By the end of it, the inner soldiers all knew what Haruka and Michiru knew regarding the impending threat.
"Indoctrination..." Setsuna said quietly. "That provokes an entirely different challenge." It was Makoto who spoke in challenge to Setsuna's comment. "How so? We defeat daimons on a constant basis just like that."
Setsuna disagreed, shaking her head to reflect the same. "Daimons are artificial; synthetic. Created. They are never given options or capabilities as free will. The process of indoctrination does not occur because they are...programmed that way."
"These targets that will be indoctrinated; they're people. They have the capabilities, emotions, and functions daimons lack. To be persuaded to perform against all these otherwise innate actions, is indoctrination. Especially to the degree of sacrificing themselves for the form of a new enemy." It made sense to Makoto, she nodded in agreement understanding the clarification.
"This seems kind of out of character for you guys to tell us this kind of stuff." Usagi said, speaking seriously.
This made Haruka give Michiru a type of 'I told you so' look. Michiru smiled, and turned her attention to Usagi's inquiry. "We thought it was important to let you know you need to be on the watch for targets being indoctrinated."
"How will we know?" asked Luna, out of her own silence.
Haruka shrugged to this, unaware of this vital piece of information herself. "I wish we knew; but we don't. We can only wait. If we find something indicative, we'll pass it your way. We expect the same courtesy." Haruka said in reply to the dark haired feline.
"It's time to kick your physical training into high gear again, ladies." Haruka issued to the group of girls, walking away from them in the direction she and Michiru had approached from. "Which means cutting down on the sweets, Odango." Smiling as she said so.
"We have minimal information for preventative measures accordingly; be prepared." Setsuna said in agreement, trailing behind Haruka. Behind her, Michiru smiled at the girls, offering one final comment. "Be ready when the time calls for this new enemy to show it's face. We won't be there to pick you up always." With that, the outer soldiers took their leave of the girls, leaving some still puzzled.
After some distance had been placed between the inner soldiers and the outers, Michiru spoke to the other two women in her group. "Nice of you to have joined us, Setsuna."
Setsuna smiled at this, always enjoying the brief time and company of her companions. They walked alongside one another, the trio. Haruka and Michiru conjoined their hands, walking jointly. Setsuna knew everything there was about the couple, hiding anything was completely unnecessary.
"Nice to see you two worked out." Her smile vanished gradually, and the time guardian's serious composure reset once more. Looking ahead on their path, she spoke further. "I suspect I know this Kali, you referenced Haruka." This caused the couple to look to Setsuna in shock. "What? How?" Haruka asked curiously.
"She's another guardian, of types." Setsuna continued.
"She? Of types?" Michiru inquired, equally as surprised and confused as her mate. Setsuna nodded in return. "If this Kali is the one I know, yes, she. And yes, a guardian." Pausing, Setsuna calculated her next words carefully.
"I suspect I may already know...but why would you not reveal this to the inners?" Michiru asked, tilting her head in Setsuna's direction. The time guardian shook her head, "These girls think entirely too much with their hearts; knowing there is some personal attachment to Kali could prove to work against us."
"In other words, their ethical obligations will cause them to falter; and fail." Haruka offered in addition to Setsuna's comment.
"What's more, is Ami's interpretation was not completely inaccurate. Kali has a great hand in death and destruction, though she's not a goddess, certainly not of Hindu descent." This took back Haruka and Michiru, making Haruka reflect back on Hotaru and her own dark role as Sailor Saturn. Another entity with the capabilities to be matched with Saturn could be as equally terrifying as the next enemy on the horizon.