Title: For the Good a Kingdom
Author: Silent Figure
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters, they belong to the Sailor Moon franchise.
Suggested Song: "The City is Made of Our Flesh" – Harlots Season 1 (Original Soundtrack)
"People have to be angry at someone. But as Leader, one cannot simply react to everything." – Winston Churchill, The Crown
"Good evening ladies and gentlemen! And welcome back to our show! For those of you just joining us here after the commercial break I'm your host Cassidy Tate and welcome to Elysion's number one go to show for global capital coverage. This is Cassidy's Corner", a tall red haired woman announced with just the right amount of pizzazz to stop anyone from changing the channel, her sparkling hazel eyes a light with knowledge. She was, to say the least, a gorgeous woman, thin, tall, modelesque. But the manner in which she spoke, the intelligence glistening behind her eyes made her charismatic demeanor, hard to ignore. A short montage of images of the host's past broadcasts aired to light happy instrumental music before ending with a refocus of her current position, sitting on a beige loveseat on a stage typical of any famous talk show.
"Prior to the break we were discussing the arrival of our Former Queen. Even aired some footage of her very theatrical entrance". Behind the host's head a square of video popped up displaying what looked like an amateur recording of Minako lifting her arm, a beacon of light emitting from her finger yips before what appeared to be a bolt of lightning blazed down the path of light. The flash quickly faded away to reveal the former Queen of Earth.
"So as most of you know our former Queen has returned to Earth. After five long years of silence", Cassidy explained pausing for the boos and applause that soon followed. It appeared there were a greater number in the audience booing their former Queen's return. The faction cheering was nowhere near as prevalent.
Once it receded she continued, "I know, I know. It is an unpopular move, an unexpected one even. So it appears the rumors have been proven true: just last week a Lunarian dignitary visited our palace as was suggested by an anonymous tip. Why our King waited to formally announce her visit until just yesterday is a question yet to be addressed." This time the crowd booed even louder.
"Now, now he is our Sovereign King after all. I am certain his actions were in our best interest. So why are they here? The palace at least answered that: negotiations for a treaty with the Lunarians. We are heading towards an alliance", She paused again to hear reactions, once more it was mixed with the disagreeing faction coming out on top.
"Agreed. It is a bit surprising as just weeks ago we had several Chancellors who sit on our King's Council here on this very show, explaining how they were about to pass a piece of legislation outlawing emigration to the Moon. Anyone caught in the act could be tried for treason. Such a law could even be retroactively applied to our former Queen, whom is here now", this pause in particular from Cassidy was poignant, longer then the others. She practically basked in the applause emitting from that last comment in particular.
"It will make for an interesting week, these negotiations. Now, let us remember nothing has been signed, and I have no doubt that between our King, his elected and selected council, and our congress it will turn out for the better", she stated with a wide smile as more applause resounded, a few boos was issued but she remained poised.
"Tonight we have a special guest joining us", Cassidy explained once she was left again to silence, no doubt cued by sign holders in the audience. "May I welcome on to this stage for the first time on this show Councilman Vargas!"'
"Well we all know where this is going", Venus finally muttered. The room had been silent as the four Sailor Senshi sat around their shared parlor along with their Queen watching Cassidy's Corner. Their bags unpacked, their time their own at least for a couple hours more before they were to begin dressing for dinner, their first event on the evenings itinerary.
Each one found a moment to glance at one another nervously as they watched Vargas walk across the stage to predominately cheers on the popular cable show. "Welcome to our show Councilman, we've been waiting a long time to get you on this stage", Cassidy welcomed the newcomer who took a seat next to her facing the audience.
"I must apologize Cassidy I've been a big fan of this show for a long time but I am afraid public service, as of late, has been incredibly demanding of my time", the Councilman professed as sincerely as a man like him could manage.
Serenity, who watched silently, felt her chest constrict at her first sight of the Councilman since her return. Even though she wasn't seeing the man in person, the anger, the sorrow, washed over her almost as if what happened five years ago was only yesterday. She had after all, done so well in actively forgetting his very existence. "Well no one can blame you. You're popularity with the public has soared in recent years. Your plain speak, speaks to all of us. You recognize the threats of our time in ways so many others refuse to recognize or even acknowledge"
"Why thank you Cassidy. I've worked hard in the last few years to undo the damage of our prior administration and government. When we moved away from Crystal Tokyo, my party and I had one goal in mind. We wanted to rebuild our Government, in coordination with our King, in the best way possible. Most notably without the influence of outsiders whose interests were in the restoration of an empire Earth has long forgotten. Earth needed a new more Earth centric direction and I believe we've done a good job of providing that", Vargas explained.
A round of overwhelming applause soon followed again. The air of dread in the parlor became even more palpable, "And we greatly appreciate it. Our economy has never been better, we've had mostly peaceful times. We've made so much headway globally and intergalactic relations are going marginally well", Cassidy complimented as she reached across and laid a hand on Vargas arm, smiling excitedly.
"So let's get down to business: the negotiations are currently underway. What are your thoughts?"
Everyone in the parlor watched with baited breath. Vargas grinned handsomely running a hand over his face. "Wanting to go there already huh?"
"But of course, it's what is on all of our minds especially given the discussion we had only a few weeks ago with your deputy", Cassidy laughed causing everyone else in the audience to follow suit, receiving even a light chuckle out of Vargas.
"Well, my party was opposed to it initially. But new information has been brought to our attention that makes it favorable as of this moment", Vargas explained ever so diplomatically.
"What kind of new information", Cassidy prodded further, not missing a beat.
"While I do not want to cause any alarm. The Moon and ourselves have a common enemy that will not discriminate between us in its destruction. And it is heading for us as we speak", the Councilman answered forebodingly.
"Oh Christ", Jupiter shouted sitting straight up slapping a hand to her forehead. It was obvious from the loud gasps in the audience, the subsequent questions and general alarm this was the first time this news was being delivered to the public.
"I am going to kill him", Venus growled shaking her head in absolute disbelief at the councilman's gall to speak out of turn on an issue his King had not yet addressed with his world, himself.
"Did he even have authority to talk about this", Mercury questioned everyone in the room just as stunned as the rest of them, at this point the show was forgotten as Cassidy tried to reign in control over her upset and disgruntled audience.
"Probably not. Mercury did this air at home", Mars asked her fellow soldier who had pulled out her computer not a moment later to check.
"It did", she replied maybe two minutes later. Jupiter put her face in her hands.
"We were supposed to deliver the news together tomorrow", Venus groaned, her face infuriated by the Councilman dropping the bomb so early.
"Well, he went off book obviously", Mars replied. Venus opened her mouth to reply but was silenced as Serenity finally had something to say, "He isn't done yet".
Everyone's eyes turned back to the television. The audience had settled down to watch Vargas whom was mid speech about informing the public of this very recent threat and why it was important they consider an alliance. Once he was finished Cassidy asked, "So what kind of alliance will you and your party be advocating? A purely military alliance?"
"Oh yes very much so. It is important that it be just that. We come together only in times of war. Furthermore, it is vital our economies remain separate and our intergalactic outreach be separate."
"So what you are proposing is that we not even begin trade with the Lunarian kingdom?"
"As of right now yes. This is new to us. We don't know what our markets interacting with theirs could mean for us. My party's stance is we maintain our self interests above all else", Vargas explained.
Eyes met around the room as they recognized such implications. "And I also maintain we be on equal footing with the Lunarian's when it comes to our defense. We provide equal amounts."
"But do we not have a greater army then theirs", Cassidy questioned her hand in her chin, eyes narrowed as if she were truly playing the devil's advocate.
"We do and we have the greater population. But supposedly, theirs is the greater power due to the Silver Imperium Crystal's seemingly endless abilities. Furthermore, they have the Sailor Senshi who have gone up against great threats before. Their experience against foes will be worth far more then any standing Army."
Serenity's chest rose and fell heavily, apprehension, anger and indignation welling up within her with each word. "So what you are saying Councilman is not only should we ally with them, but we should let them take the lead when it comes to dealing with our common enemy?"
The Councilman paused dramatically, his face schooled and unblinking. "Yes that is precisely what I suggest."
"So all the risk is ours", Venus spat in disgust her eyes finding the Soldier of War whose features had gone grim.
Mars was about to respond when all eyes turned to Serenity rising from her sitting position slowly. "I think we've seen more than enough here", she said in finality. From behind the group Celeste shut off the television with a click on the remote screen.
"Leave us", Serenity commanded turning to Celeste who recognized the gravity of what her former Queen had just witnessed on early evening television. She promptly did as she was bidden.
Serenity's eyes glanced over her sailor soldiers with a great deal of meaning until her gaze fell on Mercury, "Mercury, get word to our immigration offices. Have them prepare for an influx of migrants. Vet those incoming as much as possible. Given our slightly lengthy process we should set up a refugee camp in a remote enough location where we can in process our people safely before entry into our society. Perhaps near the Sea of Serenity on the outskirts of our Capitol".
"Serenity I don't think-", Mercury tried to interject but Serenity continued her eyes falling next on the leader of her protectorate, "Venus reach out to our clandestine agency, they are to begin messaging to Lunarian populations still residing on Earth. They are no longer guaranteed safety and security should they remain. Those who carry our genes either by rebirth or inheritance and their families will find asylum on the Moon. Lunarian sympathizers are welcome. Restart the caravans as soon as possible. Increase them if necessary."
Venus did not so much as blink before she stood with a bow and obeyed. Though Mercury remained firmly planted in her seat. "Serenity please give this a second", Mercury tried to protest but her Queen found the Soldier of War next.
"Mars reach out to our war council and our citizen council. Have them draw up plan of actions for a possible two front war. Earth and Nemesis. Do not alarm them, it is merely precautionary. This should be followed up with military and civil defense exercises. Increase recruitment efforts however necessary but let us not slip on the training. This will be paramount. Have Artemis reach out to our intergalactic alliances and make sure they are secure. See what they may be willing to provide should things get ugly. Princess Kakyuu should be contacted first. When Artemis does reach out he should not mention the possibility of war with Earth."
Mars stood bowing before exiting the room glancing back at Mercury with a shake of her head. After that Mercury stood up defiantly loudly exclaiming, "You cannot possibly be thinking this is the correct course of action Serenity. We have not yet even begun negotiations. If they find out about any of this it will undermine this entire process."
Serenity whose back had been to Mercury turned facing her. "I cannot ignore what we just witnessed. How could you possibly be so naïve as to not see as I. Vargas and his party have a great deal of power and it appears to be ever growing. The move he just made. Do you not recognize it Mercury? Was it not you who spent hours with me teaching me the history of nations and great powers?"
Mercury remained silent, her head nearly bowed. She wanted so whole heartedly to disagree. "Even if Endymion had meant to unite our two worlds in a mutually beneficial alliance Vargas has outmaneuvered him, by way of public opinion. He will hold Endymion hostage to it. He has used the element of surprise of an impending threat not to unite the Earth and Moon, but Earth itself against a common enemy. And what is worse, he has served the Moon up as a scapegoat should they suffer any losses. He has made the first move and it is now his game we play. We've known he's been building a super nationalist platform for years. Now it is so powerful that we can no longer be passive. It will come at a cost to our people should we do so. Celeste has informed me that your test is now out there for public use and has been used to test the people for signs of Lunarian origin", Serenity explained every word beginning to sink into Mercury like a heavy weight.
It was against her belief system, war between worlds. It always had been in both lifetimes. There was nothing that could not be solved by reason and diplomacy. Her culture, her very nature dictated it to be so. She felt her heart drop once Serenity had mentioned the current use of the blood test she had long ago created out of curiosity for the origin of their power. Her head dipped even lower as this knowledge sunk in.
"I will not do as my mother did and hope for the best. I cannot place all of my faith in Endymion and his monarchy. They failed thousands of years ago. And now they have a propensity to do so again. We learn of the past, so we are not condemned to repeat it. That is the saying is it not? The responsibility of my people's safety and security both here on Earth and at home rests on our shoulders now. Not our parents. Us. We must act for them, it is our duty, our very purpose, their governance and protection", Serenity finished more softly as she rested a comforting hand on her friends shoulder.
Mercury finally made eye contact with her Queen again. She could not refute her points, no matter how dearly she wished it be otherwise. There was a brief moment where she had to wonder when it was Serenity had surpassed her as a statesmen. While a part of her worried for it and what it meant for her Queen's soul, there was something inside of her that made her proud to know she served this monarch.
"I will do as bidden my lady", Mercury conceded, placing a hand to her heart giving her Queen a deep bow of respect. She left the room shortly there after, her eyes making contact with the last of the Sailor Senshi in the room who gave her a smile of reassurance. She too believed in her Queen's words, which was mildly disheartening for Mercury. Not a single one of them truly believed there was an alternative way to deal with this new set of circumstances. Once Mercury had left Jupiter spoke up, "And what of me? What would you have me do?"
Serenity sighed before turning to the remaining Senshi. "Damage control. We need to make contact with the media at home. Release official statements from our office as soon as possible to all the outlets. Have Luna address the nation tonight alongside our Prime Minister about our current situation with Nemesis. Lastly coordinate with Mamoru's public affairs office when you get a chance. The both of us need to speak to our people together first thing tomorrow."
"Endymion", Jupiter corrected having heard the King's unofficial name. "What", Serenity asked taken aback.
"You said Mamoru. His name, my Queen, is no longer Mamoru. It is Endymion. It is best you think of it that way", Jupiter informed her Queen hoping she was not overstepping. But it was best to remind her Queen that her former husband, was long gone and in his place a monarch whom may yet become her enemy.
"Yes, yes of course. Also Jupiter, please remind the others when you are finished we have a quiet formal welcome dinner this evening with Endymion and his generals, a few of their dignitaries and what not", Serenity replied barely acknowledging Jupiter's point, though completely comprehending the meaning.
It was best she not spend too long analyzing or dealing with that slip up. "Also no one is to be in uniform. Formal dress is required", she added.
Jupiter nodded her head in acknowledgement, and with a bow she exited joining the others in setting about their imperative tasks. Serenity sat down slowly in the armchair she had previously occupied. Her hand came to rest at her mouth. Part of her was frightened of herself for having making those commands and yet, the other fully recognized its necessity. There was a sadness to it all. Her confidence and trust in the man whom she had loved for two lifetimes was gone. This was proof. She had not even given him a chance to help or aid her in these challenges. She had to marvel at her own callous, which seemed so foreign to her.
Sighing she tried to turn away from such thoughts, and her eyes searched the room for anything to distract her of them. Finding the remote she turned the T.V. back on. She grimaced as she noticed that while the show they had previously been watching had ended, Vargas's image and his revelation of Nemesis's impending threat was making headlines on all the news channels. As she looked at his face, her memories began to swim before her eyes. One in particular stood out replaying over and over again…
Serenity sat in the garden's quietly in contemplation. She breathed deeply of the fresh roses and their scent. It was peaceful here, quiet. No voices. Least of all any that were raised in argument, a now daily ritual between her and her husband. The only thing that soothed her as of late were moments like these and the sound advice of elderly married couples who advised her fighting was normal in the early years of marriage. And given their ascension to the global throne it was even more of a likelihood. "Your majesty", a voice interrupted. Serenity looked over her shoulder to find Luna standing patiently behind her.
"What is it Luna", Serenity questioned her long time advisor and oldest friend. She had taken more recently to using her human form, given that humans tended to respond better to it, not many could handle a talking cat.
"The King is looking for you. You two are to be introduced to the newly elected council."
"Oh my, it is that time already? I have not been paying close enough attention. Mercury will be angry with me. Who won the majority?"
"It was close but the traditionalist party maintained their power. One of the minority parties has shifted into a new, seemingly more powerful party. They have new representatives some of whom are much younger and well, quite different from their predecessors."
Serenity could see the unease behind her mentor's eyes but chose not to question it. She had bigger problems, namely her marriage and this silly obsession of Endymion's to return his Shitennou to life as soon as possible. Worrying over the politics of this new leadership seemed comparatively smaller. Besides they always came and they always went. Serenity stood following obediently, though surprisingly in silence. She was about to ask Luna about her silence when Endymion's excited voice called out to her, "Serenity!"
From behind Luna she could see her husband surrounded by a group of men, and a singular woman who she assumed was the newly elected council. Photographers sat at the ready for the congratulatory shots of the councilmen and their Monarchy. As Serenity came upon them she barely made note of how quickly Luna departed. Clearing her throat she put on her best smile as she came to stand beside her husband, who wrapped a dutiful arm around her. Meeting his eyes she gave him a quick peck relieved to see he appeared to be over their morning row.
"Ladies and gentlemen, some of you know my wife but a few of you others do not. May I present her majesty Neo-Queen Serenity", Endymion introduced to the group. Serenity reached out her hand shaking hands, offering bows with several of the council members. Their names she almost instantly forgot upon introduction. She could remember most of the countries they represented by their various states of garb, but still it all felt a little overwhelming. She was pulled from her thoughts as a handsome man stepped forward. His hair was a dark brown, and his eyes were a green that sent an instant chill down her spine. He reached for her hand and as hers grasped his, she found herself surprised as he leaned down laying a kiss upon her knuckles, "Neo-Queen Serenity", he whispered against her skin.
She tried to maintain her smile but it faltered just a bit. His lips were cold, colder then any she'd ever felt before and he held her gaze in a daring way that made her squirm against her husband's warmth. This man was the last of her introductions. "This is the newest member of the minority sectarian party, Councilman Edgar Vargas."
"Nice to meet you Edgar", she tried to sound sincere. But something about this man seemed off. Seemed not right. The man himself grinned widely as he raised himself to her level, in a fashion that felt more like a wolf having caught his prey then a man who had just met the most famous woman on Earth.
"And you as well. Though please do call me Vargas. I'm a military man and very few actually refer to me as Edgar."
Serenity smiled politely nodding her head before replying dutifully, "Of course. Vargas it is then. Welcome to the Crystal Tokyo palace. And congratulations on your election."
He nodded his head before turning to face the King whose hand he shook with great enthusiasm, "It is a great pleasure and honor to meet you my King", his emphasis falling on the word 'my' causing a brief moment of curiosity for Serenity. Though she shook it off almost immediately.
"Thank you Vargas, I was watching your race. It was very close but it is nice to see a younger man win. They do often like to discredit one based on their youth. It shall be nice to have someone in the room who is much closer in age to us", Endymion replied, giving her a light squeeze and a smile. She met her husband's eyes happily but still felt Vargas's attention shift to her.
"But of course your majesty. I hope to become a great ally of yours", Vargas explained his eyes narrowed on Serenity as he gave her a once over again. It took a lot of effort not to cringe. She chanced a glance at Endymion to see if he had noticed but he'd been distracted by someone behind them accidentally brushing against him.
One of the photographers stepped forward, "Your majesties shall we take the picture?"
"Oh yes, yes of course. Everyone gather around", Endymion ordered as each member filed in around the couple, but Vargas chose to station himself directly to her side and moved in close. For a human being she couldn't help but notice he lacked body heat. The unease only amplified as the photographer asked everyone to get in closer. Her eyes widened a little as she briefly felt Vargas's chilly hand graze against her hip, a seemingly inappropriate gesture though he appeared to have not meant to do it. "Apologies Neo-Queen Serenity just doing as I was told", he whispered lightly. She feigned a smile at him before turning to face the photographer.
"Everyone three. two. One", and the light flashed bright in her eyes.
A hand slammed against the table. "I want him before me as soon as we have the opportunity", Endymion bellowed. He was infuriated, beyond infuriated. To have witnessed what he just did, on live television of all ways, and with no forewarning. "Who the hell gave him the authorization to speak publically about all of this?"
Nephrite swallowed hard before he stepped forward to answer, "Sire, I'm afraid an undersecretary from my team made a mistake on the end date for the classified status of our brief and the documents accompanying them. "
Endymion's eyes narrowed into slits as he faced the Shitennou. "Explain further", he demanded.
"He mistakenly believed the classified status would drop upon arrival of Serenity or so he says", Nephrite explained meeting his King's eyes.
"How could such a gross oversight have been made? Our news conference is not until tomorrow. It is on the damn agenda in those classified documents. "
At this the leader of the Shitennou came forward, "Sire, we are looking microscopically into this undersecretaries allegiances and background."
Endymion's turned his furious gaze on his lead guardian, "So if I am tracking correctly we believe Vargas or someone from his party may have somehow convinced this guy to put the wrong date on documents so Vargas would have a loophole to use to his advantage?"
"Sire, we've already taken a hard look into his background. This blunder does not match his record. But he has a gambling debt that was recently paid off."
Endymion pinched the bridge of his nose for a moment before sighing. "We need to do damage control here and fast. That undersecretary better have been fired. I want him and anyone who handled those documents with the incorrect dates out of our offices today. And once we have our evidence prosecute him. As for Vargas am I to go ahead and assume we cannot find evidence linking him to the payment of this undersecretary, otherwise he'd already be in jail?"
Nephrite replied quickly, "The undersecretary was relieved of his duties an hour ago. I will go speak with the council now and Vargas will be in your chambers within the hour. I will put my people on potential press statements. Have my executive assistant reach out to the Lunarian representative so we can arrange for damage control press releases this evening."
Endymion nodded his head in thanks before Nephrite left the room. He turned to the rest of his men, "We need to start looking at ways to satisfy our council and to make this work with the Lunarians. We were outmaneuvered today. It's a bad first step, a blunder on our part. We figured Vargas and his fellow similar minded councilmen would at least put global security first, but at this point I have no doubt they'll do whatever they can to undermine these negotiations so they can put their law back on the table. We need to consider Vargas and his party's moves in all aspects of these negotiations. We need to predict how far they are willing to go to interfere in this. Furthermore we need to rally support with his opposition. Elections aren't far off. His opponents can use this to counter attack. We can use his interference against him."
Zoicite nodded his head in agreement. "We make it look like he'll sacrifice Earth over this prejudice. He'd rather have war with everyone, then peace with the Lunarians."
"I don't think we need to make it look like anything, I think he already is doing it. We just need to shine a spotlight on it", Endymion replied before he turned to Kunzite, "Find a way to leak our suspicions to his political rivals. I want to see this in the news by tomorrow but with no trace that it came from our people. Understood?"
Kunzite nodded his head slowly before standing up. "Sir might I also suggest we take a look at Serenity's camp."
Endymion raised a brow at that, "Speak plainly Kunzite. At this point, we don't have a lot of time to waste with hesitancies".
"Serenity may have seen this, if she has not she has certainly been informed by now. We don't know what the Lunarian reaction will be, what her next steps are. What Vargas did is nothing short of threatening. He laid down what looks like Earth's intentions at these negotiations. Those intentions will certainly have the Lunarian's acting in self -defense mode and they will begin to take precautionary measures. We need to know what those are".
"You're talking of spying on them", Jadeite stated rubbing his chin in serious consideration.
Zoicite's eyes narrowed. "He already is", Zoicite spoke in a matter of fact tone as he put two and two together, "Celeste."
"Oh well that will go over well if she is discovered, not just with Serenity, but with Celeste's family on the moon", Jadeite scoffed.
Kunzite refrained from rolling his eyes, "I have simply asked her to inform us if there is anything to be alarmed of should she hear something while attending to Serenity. She agreed to this. She will not go snooping around in her personal belongings or intentionally spy on Serenity, but if she hears anything indicating our negotiations are going south then she will pass it along. Her intentions are true, she simply wishes to see an alliance restored. Serenity would understand."
Endymion remained silent a while before weighing in, "I think it is necessary having a gage on their reactions. But to be frank, given all you have said, we should also task our clandestine services with monitoring Lunarian activity and messaging." Kunzite gave Endymion a curt nod, recognizing Endymion bid him without saying it out right to take action immediately.
Endymion barely glanced at his exiting General. Instead his eyes turned upon the second youngest whose brows rose in interest awaiting his orders. "Even more importantly, we need to ensure whatever actions they take are not discovered by Vargas' people. Jadeite you have the best rapport with those who reside here, our staff, and the sentry. I need to know whom we can trust and whom we likely cannot. Use your best people to ferret out those we trust the least. Then let's find a way to move them to the periphery."
Jadeite was at first silent appearing to ponder his instruction as he came to a stand. "Well sire, shouldn't be too much trouble. My men are already working on such a list. Anything else you need of me", he asked grinning cheekily, proud of himself for being a head of the game.
"Yes", Endymion face remained impassive as he gazed at his guard, "you're well acquainted with Cassidy Tate are you not?" Jadeite's smile fell his eyes sliding to Zoicite who could barely contain the sly smile on his own lips, his forefinger resting under his nose and thumb above his mouth. Jadeite glowered shaking his head slowly at the man who'd clearly divulged one of his more recent liaisons. Zoicite merely offered him an unapologetic shrug in excuse.
"I was sire", he sighed reluctantly, "though we've not been acquainted for some time now." Endymion's brows rose though he remained silent a verbal cue for Jadeite to elaborate. Licking his lips he continued, "Things progressed…a little too…quickly for me your highness."
Finally Endymion cracked a smile, he glanced down rubbing his chin before glancing up at his embarrassed General. "Think it is high time for you to call her back."
Jadeite's lips thinned as he cast his glare downward unwilling to offer up such blatant disrespect directly to his King. "Hope this will not be an issue General", Endymion inquired amusement in his voice.
Jadeite smiled tightly nodding his head, his facial expression schooled as he answered, "No sire. It will not be an issue. I can assure you she will be quite…eager to hear from me again."
A chortle escaped from Zoicite who did a poor job of covering it up by clearing his throat. Jadeite's eyes shot him a vengeful glare. "See to it then. You have your orders." Jadeite bowed deeply accepting his orders, "Yes my King", before exiting the room, the door shutting behind him just a little too forcefully.
"As for you Zoicite", the King turned to his youngest general who cleared his throat, straightening up, his amusement forgotten.
"Make sure he acquires the right information from Ms. Tate", Endymion requested pointedly. Zoicite deflated a little but nodded his head in acceptance. No use debating the topic. "And", Zoicite's head shot up, "see to it that our council is scheduled an array of mandatory briefings over the next week. I want them kept busy."
"They are aware Sire that the negotiations are already closed", Zoicite reasoned carefully.
"I do not want there to be any opportunity for interruption", he countered fully aware what went unsaid by Zoicite still he did not care if their ploy would be transparent to the council.
"Besides death by power point seems fitting at this point", he chuckled, "encourage those not of Vargas' party to take some annual leave. They're innocent bystanders. No need for them to suffer."
Zoicite stood believing Endymion finished delivering orders. He made to exit for the door when Endymion continued, "Start the briefings this evening."
Zoicite gave his master a curt nod before setting about his business.
Nephrite pinched the bridge of his nose as he listened to his exasperated assistant. "Panya", he addressed the Russian silencing her, "relax. I know I've put a lot on you. But we'll get through this alright?"
"You need to make choice here sir. Send me to round up Vargas or to the Lunarians. I cannot be in two places at once. I do NOT have the time to do both this evening, on top of getting the press statements ready and released, and reworking the press brief tomorrow."
"Delegate then", he suggested with a sigh. "We fire the last guy I delegate to", she growled her accent particularly thick today as she turned her grey eyes down to her phone, an object seemingly always in her hand. She rolled her eyes groaning as some bad news was clearly delivered to her via email.
"Look sir. I go handle Vargas, he like me better then you anyways", she suggested still not meeting his eyes as her fingers texted away furiously on her phone. "I have reason to see him. He went to the show without looping us in. This is against protocol. He take it better coming from me. Let Endymion do the punishing ok? You have to work with Vargas more directly more often."
"Panya", he sighed, "it probably is best I not be the one going to the Lunarians."
She cursed, "Piz-dets sir you have too many enemies for a man in public relations."
"Panya", he groaned and she simply smirked her fingers typing away once more. "I can only work so many miracles. Pick one. Or would you like to do the press statements", she replied.
"Fine", he grunted, "I'll go to the Lunarians". She typed a moment longer before looking back up at him.
Reaching up she lightly patted his cheek, "You see? Not so bad making decisions." His face deadpanned. "I go now", she finished as she left him to himself walking out.
"I am a damn soldier not an ambassador", he muttered to himself, annoyed that this particular duty fell upon him. He was not a particularly talented man when it came to public relations, he just happened to understand people and their wants. And he had a way with words. This somehow made him qualified for a post he would never have selected had it really been up to him. Of course it didn't help this position was vacated and held prior by the former Queen's own Senshi of Jupiter. He couldn't help but recognize the irony in that it was her position he assumed. And that really either of them would work in such a field. The pair of them in their prior lives certainly wouldn't have found any interest in it. Truthfully he doubted she did in this life either. They were far more simple creatures, preferring solitude to crowds, nature to the hustle and bustle of cities. But then again, what did he know of his reborn lover? She could be nothing like the woman who enthralled him in his prior life.
Running a hand through his long chestnut locks he made to head towards where he'd dropped off the Soldier of Jupiter earlier in the day. He snorted thinking of the interaction. She'd not so much as looked at him during their ceremony or even as they started their walk in dead silence. He'd nearly opened his mouth to speak a few times but every time he worked up the nerve to do so he suddenly felt her scornful gaze turn on him. Such a look warned Nephrite against speaking. And truth be told, at the sight of her expression he hadn't the stomach to hear what she might say. Her look alone was burning with hate and disgust. He stopped short in the hallway as he heard her very voice from around the corner, "And how did the press conference go Luna?"
He walked up cautiously afraid he may be found intruding. As he turned the corner he found the Sailor of Jupiter with her back to him. A mini hologram of a dark haired woman, who must've been this Luna, projected from her wristwatch. Jupiter was already wearing her fuku, the dress of a Queen removed. Her brunette hair which had been in an ornate fashion now returned to a simple ponytail. He kept from smiling at it, she never did feel comfortable adorned in fine dresses and jewelry. She'd always preferred her fuku or plainer clothing. "It went as well as can be expected Jupiter. The civilian minister was not pleased to be pulled mid dinner to address the nation with little to no time to rehearse our talking points."
"Not surprised but it's his job. If he fusses too much just remind him he signed up for this. What does our crowd sourcers have to say about the public reaction", she questioned further.
"So far it has been mostly surprise. There is a fair amount of outrage at having learned in this manner, they feel they should've heard it from Serenity before ever she entered negotiations."
Jupiter nodded her head. "We'll be ready to address them first thing in the morning. I want Naveah on this. She's our best writer. Can you task her with organizing a call with our people? They need to be reforming our talking points tonight so we're ready to go. Have her call me first thing in the morning. She has the schedule. And have our crowdsourcing team reach out to the one here to gage reactions on Earth. I'll get you a contact."
The woman also nodded her head. "Ah so this means you'll actually be talking with him this time."
Nephrite's eyebrows shot up in intrigue. He couldn't see her facial expression but he imagined it was grim. He heard her sigh, watched the back of her brunette shake almost as if in denial. "Yes, best do it like a band aid and get it over with. By the way, who has such a big mouth that you already know of our interaction? It has only been a few hours."
The hologram woman chuckled, tilting her head in a motherly fashion, "Whom do you think?"
From the tone of Jupiter's voice he could only imagine the roll of her eyes that accompanied her annoyance, "I often forget that she is not in fact Serenity of old, but Usagi."
The elder woman laughed heartily, even Jupiter joined in with a chuckle. Nephrite felt it in his soul, Juptier's light hearted tinkle of laughter, an odd warming sensation growing from the center of his chest at the sound of it. "Well my dear I am afraid I must get to work. It'll be a long night here working on this press conference tomorrow. Best you get to work as well, and then get some rest."
"Fat chance that'll happen. We have dinner with them here shortly. I'll have to go make myself prim and proper. Anyway, make sure you get some rest too. Have a good night", the soldier bid the woman before her. The hologram nodded in agreement, "And you as well Makoto. Give the young general behind you my warmest regards."
Nephrite's eyes widened and he straightened into a tense posture almost at the exact moment the young woman before him stiffened. "Go ahead now and pull off that band aid", the elder holographic woman teased before the connection terminated. The Senshi turned around slowly, fixing him with a sharp glare. It was hard to school his features to keep the apprehension from his face, rather deciding the only way to handle this was with strict professionalism. Her brow raised instantly as she looked upon him, though not in the teasing way he once used to enjoy provoking.
"I suppose I could lecture you on how it is rude to ease drop on someone's conversation but we've been at this kind of juncture before. Except in this life I haven't the taste to revisit such conversation", she addressed him harshly, her words pricking him in the chest, the once warming sensation now freezing in his veins as he recognized the exact moment of which she was referring.
Nephrite looked down a moment shoving his hands into his pockets, contemplating what to say next before meeting her unyielding stony gaze again, "My apologies Jupiter. I did not want to interrupt your conversation."
She gave him a curt smile a moment before asking, "What is it you've sought here General? In case you haven't already gathered yourself I have quite a bit of damage control to be handling before we try to enjoy our dinner."
Even though she had not said it directly he could hear the blame in her voice. "Panya Yahontov is my team lead. I'll have her connect your people with our director of Crowd Sourcing. Panya will be at your disposal. There is no one better on my team to help you handle this mess", he offered knowing his assistant would not be pleased to add to her work pile this evening but still finding it the most appropriate thing he could do, "Shall I send her to you now before dinner or after?"
Her eyes narrowed slightly. It was clear, she did not expect him to be so serious, let alone generous. He'd always had a fire in his blood, though it appeared she had forgotten just how much bating it would take before he became reactionary. She assessed him a moment longer before cautiously accepting his offer, "Before dinner. Thank you General. That'd be greatly appreciated."
He gave her a curt nod and a quick bow, "Is there anything else we can help you with?"
She shook her head no before looking down at her watch seemingly reading a message that'd appeared on her communicator. "No not at this time. Thank you." Recognizing the dismissal Nephrite turned his back on her walking back the way from whence he'd just come, never realizing the moment his back was turned her emerald eyes had lifted and followed him until he disappeared from sight.
"Is it custom to stare here on Terra", Jupiter asked turning her emerald eyes upon him, crossing her arms startling him in that she'd caught him in said action, "because where I am from it is considered a rude practice."
Sailor Jupiter and the General Nephrite were awaiting their charges in the same torch lit hallway leaning on opposite walls across from one another. Stationed together, told to stay put, wait until after Endymion had toured the young Lunarian heir his castle, a castle fortunately vacant of most its staff. Both of Endymion's parents had gone on their yearly world tour, servants using the respite to return to their home villages. And the young prince was so unwisely left alone to his own devices with only his Shitennou to keep him company for a fortnight. An opportunity he took advantage of to continue to meet with his latest and perhaps most dangerous fascination, a forbidden friendship with the Supreme Princess of Lunaria.
Tonight was the first time someone other then Kunzite and Sailor Venus kept watch over the pair. So far Nephrite was certain both Jupiter and himself had failed in their essential function the moment they acquiesced to the order they stay behind and allow the royals some privacy. If Kunzite found out, he was surely in for hours of physically demanding punishment. But the damned Jupiter had agreed for the two of them almost immediately upon the order, never once questioning it. Now, in this dimly lit hallway Nephrite had taken to watching the female guardian even though she'd barely even acknowledged his presence since they'd first been introduced earlier in the evening. So when she finally addressed him it'd been a bit of a shock.
Mirroring her stance and crossing his own arms he replied non-chalantly, "I've never seen one of you before."
Her facial expression morphed into one of disdain as she presumptively sneered, "A female warrior?"
"No", the corner of his mouth lifted almost into a smirk as he faced her more squarely coming to stand away from his leaning on the nearby wall, "no that I've seen. We have them here on Earth believe it or not. They are few in number but they are certainly a fearsome thing to behold."
Her eyes narrowed in scrutiny, clearly unsure of him and his meaning. "A Senshi, I've never seen one", he supplied for her.
Still she did not answer, rather choosing to stay silent though the look of disdain remained ever present on her face. It was clear in how she was handling this discussion she had assumptions about him, likely stemming from some sort of prejudice against Terrans. "You're not quite what I was expecting", he dared to comment further containing his smile as he saw her eyes harden at his audacity to continue the conversation.
"And what is it you were expecting", she bit out turning her gaze away from him again in anger, clearly trying to contain her reaction.
"I've never seen a warrior bare her legs before", he answered honestly eyeing the short skirt and bared legs the woman before him was sporting, effectively aggravating her further.
"And what is it your warrior women are forced to wear here on Terra? Dresses and fine skirts", Jupiter asked haughtily
"Breeches actually. Leathers", Nephrite commented in matter of fact tone before shifting it to one of playful derision, "you know a kind of protective barrier of sorts."
There was a moment of pause before she scoffed defensively re-crossing her arms, "Well can your women warriors call lightning to their fingertips and incinerate men alive?"
This time he allowed his teasing grin upon his lips, a dimple forming in his cheek as he too re-crossed his arms in interest, "Now that I've yet to witness."
Sensing his longing to see such a sight she rose away from the wall, "Better pray than to your Gods Terran you never have to."
This time he scoffed in mockery, "You're not the only one with power here Lunarian."
"I'm Jovian", Jupiter glared, "and talking with the stars does little to deter lightning."
His own eyes narrowed as he took a step forward towards the now suddenly irritating woman. "Aye I'd agree with you there", he taunted taking a few steps closer, "But that was not what I was referring to."
The Sailor Senshi angled her body toward his as he neared her, her eyebrow arching in defiance and disbelief. It was clear in the leisure of her stance she was not intimidated even if he towered over her, even if he had the broadest shoulders she'd ever seen on a man. "And what measly power do you possess hmm? Can you conjur some flowers Terran", she taunted.
Nephrite leaned back away from her ever so slightly, his tongue gliding across his teeth as he nodded his head, he had to acknowledge her bravado. "How about you join me in the arena? Find out for yourself", he dared tilting his head, shrugging his shoulders.
Jupiter smirked haughtily, her eyes glistening with superiority. "Oh Terran you wouldn't even want to pit yourself against me with weapon or bare hands. You'd most assuredly never survive a battle of power. You're simply", she paused as if to ponder in earnest, "under trained and overmatched."
She made to step past him, walking to find somewhere away from the obnoxious man. But his hearty laughter taunted her, halting her mid action. "You're a cocky one", he stated as he caught up to her, "Challenge accepted."
"What", she snipped turning her head to face the General who'd come to stand alongside her.
"Let's start with hand to hand", he suggested. Her brows knitted together in surprise before she answered him with an obvious sardonic smile of dismissal, "The princess has been here long enough."
"She's been here barely an hour and a half. A complete tour of this castle will at least take yet another hour or so more. And we both know she'll be upset should you steal her away too soon. What's a bit more time here?"
Her face scrunched up in disbelief, her arms crossing once more mouth slightly agape in disbelief. His eyes dropped down purposefully at the defensive gesture, she uncrossed them immediately. "Now I know you've got the words but I am not so certain you've the sand", he goaded her further finding her eyes again, his eyes glistening with challenge.
"You're going to regret this Terran", she acquiesced her eyes darting forward so that he could lead her to their training arena.
"No Jovian", he smiled daringly, "I rather think I'll enjoy it." Her chest inflated and she huffed in aggravation. They walked in tense silence, him leading her into their training arena. They both reached for the handle of the entryway to the arena at the same time, Jupiter shooting him a glare for trying to open it for her. Nephrite cleared his throat, trying to contain his smile before stepping back allowing her to pull the handle and enter. They separated upon entry, her walking directly onto the sand at the ready and him coming round to a nearby bench where he proceeded to remove the jacket of his uniform, draping it on the bench, his back to her as he rolled up the cuffs of his white undershirt, before pulling his long hair into a ponytail at a leisurely pace. He could feel her impatient energy from behind him, he smiled to himself as he heard the crunch of her boots pacing on the sand.
"Shall you brush your pretty tresses to", she scoffed from behind him. He chuckled turning to her unable to help himself, "You think my hair is pretty."
There was the slightest of pauses, as if she were taken aback by something. He couldn't have known though that it was his teasing smile that made her suddenly aware of how handsome he really was. She recovered quickly though, her eyes rolling skyward in obvious annoyance as she answered him, "I think you're stalling."
He grinned as he stepped into the sand of the sparring pit. "I am ready", he replied his arms open in gesture. "Finally", she growled before charging him, her arms wrapping around his middle effectively tackling him to the ground. He let out a grunt as his back hit the sand. He was stunned in that she made the first move almost immediately. Realizing she was going for the side guard by wrapping her arm around his head trapping one of his arms in her embrace, he rolled to the side she was aiming to lock him in on, shoving the arm not trapped against her waist while lifting his hips breaking away enough space for him to quickly wrap a leg around her and leverage her weight to flip her onto her back. Both of his legs sat on either side of her waist putting her briefly in a precarious position. Before he could make another move she bucked her hips hard, lurching him forward so he'd lose his balance before she snatched one of his arms. Her foot kicked one of his out from under him as she rolled him back over, releasing the trapped arm so she could shove at the legs grasp around her hips. She came to a stand with a smile, which fell from her face when he swept her legs out from under her. He was quick to launch at her again, and they rolled around each other for sometime before he finally spotted a weakness in her guard. The match ended with her face pressed to the ground, him leaning against her side and her arm held in a bar above her head. Any move she could think of making would lead to the displacement of her shoulder he had in his brace. "By the Gods you are strong", he grunted as she wiggled in vain against him, his voice breathless, "though not strong enough I am afraid."
"Get. Off. Of. Me Terran", she growled into the dirt her voice muffled her lower body still attempting to wretch free. She hissed as she felt the sharpness of her shoulder being pressed.
"You surrender", he questioned amusement blatant with her predicament in his voice.
"Obviously", she replied lowly, fiercely. His eyes widened at the sight of electricity sparking at her fingertips on her free hand.
Still though he pressed on her shoulder a little bit more earning a grunt, her eyelids squeezing shut. "What did you say there Jovian", he taunted laughter in his voice.
"I surrender", she finally conceded loudly her free hand slapping the dirt. He eased up off of her, releasing his hold on her before coming to a stand proudly. He reached out his hand offering the dirt covered soldier still on the ground aid in standing, a peace offering. Rather then accept it the Jovian offered him a glare as she stood up, before turning on her heel to leave. Not even bothering to wipe off the dirt.
"Wait where are you going", he asked her retreating form, "I think we earned ourselves a round of ale after that match".
"I've dallied here long enough. Some of us have duties they must attend to", she called back over her shoulder undeterred as she marched her way towards the doors of the arena.
"Oh come now Jovian don't be so sore with me. It was all in good fun", he called after her. When she made no move to halt he shouted, "I look forward to our next match."
She was at the doors with one halfway open when she paused. Turning to him slightly though still not fully facing him she answered loud enough for him to hear, "If we're doing our jobs there won't be another one Terran." With those words she went through the doors, which slammed shut behind her. Sighing he took a step forward towards the door as if to follow her, perhaps apologize. Maybe he had been too rough with her. But a bolt of lightning shot down before him forcing him to step back in a brief heart stopping moment of fear. Fragments of the roof fell before his feet as he looked up at the hole in the ceiling of their arena shocked, his mouth agape. The message clear that he should not follow. Sighing Nephrite placed his hands on his hips. He would have a hell of a time explaining the hole in the ceiling to his Commander on top of everything else that had occurred this night. Still though, there was no part of him that regretted it.