a Sailormoon fanfiction by Dejana Talis
-not to be used without permission-
He crouched on the floor, doubled over, arms and legs curled protectively around his abdomen, shielding the area where the pain reigned. The intensity of the blow had been such that he nearly became ill; it seemed as if his body had imploded. Was it his imagination, or could he feel blood seeping into his gut? Still, he kept his eyes uplifted. Still, he kept smiling.
"Why did you do it?" the green-suited amazon repeated coldly, glaring down at him with eyes of ice. Sailor Jupiter. Her rage unabated even by violence, she trembled still, lips curled in a half-snarl that made it clear she could and would kick him again.
And she would enjoy it.
He knew she would take pleasure in his screams, his cries for mercy, if he were to give any. And so he continued to deny her. To defy her. He kept grinning. Kept matching her, stare for stare.
He had no regrets.
"I can keep asking this for the rest of your miserable life," Jupiter hissed.
She couldn't. It was plain as day to him how frustrated she was, how annoyed she was that he would not break. How close she was to completely losing it. He knew the other soldiers were just outside the door, but he didn't care if they failed to stop their comrade from committing murder. He had had his pleasure.
"Why? Why did you shoot her?!"
He had his immortality.
He could still see it now, could almost taste it on his tongue as he gasped for breath in the wake of an uppercut to the chin. Could almost smell the acrid aroma of the gunshot. That red blood slowly seeping through the white dress. The pain in those blue eyes, so much deeper than the physical, the agony of unexpected unimagined betrayal. The perfect desecration of her inviolate utopia.
It had all been so beautiful, the culmination of all his ambitions, all his desires. The murder of a goddess by an average man. The horror on the face of the king, the panic that radiated from him as he rushed to his wife's side, the tears on the woman's pale cheeks, were well worth the beating he was suffering now.
He continued to smile.
White-gloved hands seized him by the shirt and slammed him against the wall. An auburn-framed visage of snarling death hovered an arm's length from his own, lightning sparking in its eyes.
He spat blood on her face.
An instant later he was sliding across the smooth floor and crashing heavily into a wall, his left arm now throbbing so badly he was sure it must be broken.
"Traitor scum!" She stood panting, her clenched fists shaking at her sides. Blood on her white gloves. "All she ever wanted, everything she's ever done, was for your happiness! Is this how you repay her sacrifices?"
He laughed. The resulting motion of his abdomen was so painful that lights swam before his eyes, but still he chuckled weakly, unable to contain himself.
"You really believe that, don't you?" he gasped, pushing himself up against the wall, but not getting to his feet. "You really believe you've earned what you have."
"Haven't we?" Jupiter demanded. "The monsters we've fought, the enemies we've defeated-"
"Are meaningless." The smile twitched on his face. "Being soldiers does not give you the right to rule, to remake the world as you see fit."
"If you'd seen the world as it was before," the warrior snapped in disgust, "you'd be more appreciative of Crystal Tokyo."
"I have seen it." Now he rose unsteadily to his feet, bracing himself against the wall with difficulty. With his bruised abdomen and cracked ribs he could not stand fully straight, but it was enough to look Jupiter properly in the eye. He knew she could see the years on him now, could tell that he was one of the survivors of the old days without further evidence.
"It was green," he grumbled. "Not cold, white stone like this. Like bone. Like death. Pure and sterile."
Now it was Jupiter's turn to look away.
"We had no choice," she muttered. "Everything was dying."
"You were children!" He knew his words would be a death sentence, but he didn't care. She wanted to know. He would tell her. "What did you know about saving the world?"
"We'd done it before!" she snarled, her eyes flashing with lightning again, once more focused on him and sharper than ever. "You wouldn't be standing here if it weren't for the sacrifices we made back then!"
"You made mistakes," he challenged. "You know it as well as I do. You were little girls, with only a couple of cats to tell you what to do. Not all of the monsters disappeared as harmless sand. Not all of the victims escaped unscathed."
"We did what we had to do," the soldier argued.
"You did what pleased you," he replied, making sure to keep that infuriating smile on his face. If he was going down, it would be with his head held high.
"We fought for love and justice."
"But whose? Were you really thinking of the entire world's well-being when you fought your daily monsters, or were you hoping that boy you liked would smile at you the next day?"
"We fought every monster, every threat that set foot on this earth, without hope of reward or even recognition!"
"But only in Japan," he retorted smoothly. He watched the green-suited soldier struggling to hold herself in check, and he reveled in it, letting her anger fill him with strength. "Even at the end, the rest of the world could go to pieces as long as Japan survived. What of Cairo, Paris, New York, Rome? No, only Tokyo was fit to survive - because it was YOURS."
"You try ruling a world sometime," Jupiter seethed. "Under Serenity's rule, there is peace and happiness. Everyone is equal, everyone has what they need. There is no poverty or suffering. Crystal Tokyo may be small, but it WORKS! We made it work!"
"Always, the arrogance. Is there no room to admit you may be wrong?" He swelled with pride even as his injuries throbbed and screamed, thrilled to be the one to crack the crystal of this perfect world. The Sailor Soldiers had gone long enough without having their judgement challenged. It was high time for certain things to be said.
"You're nothing more than spoiled brats playing with fire, handed everything you ask for because of deeds you performed years ago, thinking yourselves goddesses because everyone else says you are. It's all an illusion. It's not real. You are not infallible. I proved it. I cut down that figurehead you held aloft as divine."
Sailor Jupiter's fury boiled over. She let out a roar and lunged forward, seizing him around the neck and slamming him against the wall so hard that blood ran down the back of his head. And she didn't let go. Her grip began to tighten around his throat, her eyes making it clear that that snarling face was to be the last thing he would ever see.
There were tears on its cheeks.
He choked, his lungs fighting for air that couldn't come as his body dangled heavily in midair, his left arm dead weight at his side. The room spun around him.
There was a gasp from across the room.
Jupiter turned her head to look. Through darkening, blurred vision her captive glimpsed a short, frail girl in servant's clothing cowering against the wall near the door, a basket clutched in her arms. Some poor innocent, obviously. She looked horrified.
He dropped to the floor in a heap of agony as Sailor Jupiter abruptly released him. He lay helpless for a moment, writhing and wheezing, unable to focus on anything beyond forcing air through his crushed windpipe. He didn't see what passed between the soldier and the girl but after a few seconds he heard the door open and close.
Footsteps approached him. He drew several deep breaths and tried to focus his vision, preparing himself for another round of torture.
Blue swam before his eyes. He turned his head and discovered, not a soldier, but the ordinary girl bending over him with a cloth in her hand and a bottle of water. Ah, so this was the part where they treated his wounds only to cause him further pain later. For an instant he almost resisted, but something about the girl's presence calmed him. He accepted the liquid she pressed to his lips.
As she wiped the blood from his face and helped him to sit up he was able to see her more clearly. She was young, and wearing a long ponytail and a light blue dress. Never in his life had he seen such a pitying look as he found on her face. There were tears of sympathy in the girl's eyes, and she tended his wounds with utmost gentleness. For a while they did not speak as she unrolled bandages and adhesive from her basket of supplies.
"She does love you, you know," the girl said in a half-whisper as she switched on a handheld bone regenerator. The quiet hum of the device added a slight warble to her words. "The queen. She loves all her subjects. She takes care of us all."
"So, you're one of the brainwashed ones," he answered with a snort of amusement. He talked hurriedly to distract himself from the stinging pain as the regenerator knitted the bones of his left arm back together. "Here is a lesson for you, the most important one you may ever learn. Serenity is no goddess. She's just a girl, no more divine than you are, and she knows it."
"She protects us," the girl said. "It's her duty to save the world from evil."
"Why, just because she happened to be born with magic powers?" he challenged. He flexed his fingers experimentally. At least some good had come from this artificial utopia; the medical field had not ceased to advance. "Because she had some prewritten destiny to conquer the world? That alone does not make her fit to rule."
"She never asked to be queen," she replied, wrapping his bleeding upper arm in gauze. "She did it for them, because they begged her to. Everyone says she has done well at it."
"Well, you seem to know your history. Do you know how old Serenity was when she became queen?" he asked. "Twenty-two. Twenty-two! Queen of the world at twenty-two! And the world surrendered control to her so easily, not because she was the most fit leader, but because she had SAVED them," he added in a mocking tone. "How many of them knew she had grown up a spoiled, whiny crybaby? She had a good heart, but power in the hands of innocents always goes astray. Always."
"She learned quickly," was the girl's response. "People often do, when the need strikes them."
"She's still so naive," he scoffed, glancing around at the walls surrounding him. "Look at this place, this makeshift jail cell they had to throw together at a moment's notice. She never expected to have to deal with criminals. She never gave a thought to protecting herself, never imagined that anyone in her domain could do anything but love her. It was so easy. I just walked right up to her, and...and did it. Just raised the gun and pulled the trigger."
He threw his head back and laughed so long and loud that the servant tending him drew away slightly, frightened.
"They keep asking me why I did it," he burst out. "I did it because I COULD. Because I know they're not as all-powerful as their followers believe. The very fact that I was able to carry out my plan proves it.
"They survived so much, those girls," he exclaimed with glee, "but did any of their enemies try firearms? The goddesses of our age, immune to all the worst the supernatural could throw at them, yet vulnerable to simple human inventions!"
"That is true," the girl admitted, returning to swab alcohol on his minor cuts. "They never looked for evil in humanity." With this, she gave him a reproachful look.
"There's no point in trying to make me feel guilty," he said dismissively. "If they're so foolish as to believe all evil comes from other planets, they deserve a lesson in reality. Besides, they are hardly innocents themselves. How many living creatures have they destroyed in the name of the Moon?"
Despite everything he had been through, the girl's sudden strong grip on his arm and the piece of cotton dripping with alcohol pressed harshly to his deepest scratch made him hiss with renewed pain.
"Do not say such things," she said in what was clearly intended to be a dangerous tone, but her voice wobbled with uncertainty. "The Sailor Soldiers fought demonic monsters, corrupt imitations of life made from inanimate objects and possessed innocents. Their enemies had no souls."
"I do." He turned his head to give the servant a long, cold stare. "Sailor Jupiter would have killed me with her bare hands. You saw her."
"You don't seem dead to me," was the reply, but he could see the unrest in her eyes. At least some of what he was saying was getting through.
"She would have killed me, given the chance," he reiterated, his gaze not wavering for an instant. "All that saved me was your arrival. The Sailor Soldiers can not risk shattering the image that keeps them in power, the illusion that they are defenders of the people."
"But they ARE-"
"No," he interrupted, unwilling to entertain more propaganda. "All their lofty ideals, all their creeds and mantras, it all disappears when their precious queen is threatened. In the end, they exist to serve her, and no one else. They need her to be the symbol of their authority. The people of this city made her a goddess when she deserved little more than basic gratitude. Now, with luck, she is dead, and if I am damned for it, I accept that fate."
He finally looked away and gazed into the shadows of the room, proof that darkness still existed in Crystal Tokyo. "Someone had to end the illusion."
There was a pause.
"She would forgive you."
He turned back in her direction, amazed that the servant could remain so faithful after all he had said.
"She could have made all of this go away, you know," the girl said quietly. "She could have made you love her again, and you could have been happy. Perhaps she still could."
"Oh, yes, Serenity's most famous trick," he chuckled. "Saving her enemies from their evil thoughts. Her most brilliant tactic. She brainwashed them just as they had done to her friends, only with joy instead of anger, and called it salvation."
"Do you prefer unhappiness?" she asked him, not meeting his eyes as she dabbed dried blood from his neck with a wet cloth.
"Without sadness, what is happiness? Without struggle, how can we appreciate our rewards? A life where all is handed to us on a silver platter is not a life." He lay back on the crystal floor as the girl moved the bone regenerator toward his injured ribs.
"There was a time when I worked for what I had," he mused. "It was hard, and I often wished to be free of it. But now there is no real happiness in things that were once pleasures. Serenity has done nothing more than transform us all into children like herself. Everyone is merely too blinded by bliss to realize it. Is that what love and justice are? Ignorance, and the blind sacrifice of basic freedoms to the control of the undeserving?"
"Many would say they do deserve this, that is it their reward," the girl said quietly.
"The Sailor Soldiers did great things," he admitted, "but they didn't earn this. Nobody can earn control over someone else's destiny."
He sighed, staring up at the darkened ceiling.
"I suppose they'll just brainwash me anyway, if Crystal Tokyo doesn't collapse and one of the soldiers doesn't kill me first. In the end, I'll be given the life sentence of being just like the rest of the robots here."
For a long moment, the girl was silent.
Then, after a brief, sideways glance toward the door, she leaned close to his ear. Her words were less a whisper than a breath of warm air.
"What if I told you I could get you out of here?"
Before he could react the door clicked open, and the slim figures of Venus and Mercury appeared. They did not look pleased. The girl could do no more than shoot the prisoner a brief apologetic look before gathering her materials back into the basket and getting to her feet. The two soldiers stood aside for her, and the three of them disappeared through the doorway, closing the heavy door behind them. He was left lying on the cold crystal floor, alone with his aches and pains. For now.
At least he had his memories of true justice.
As soon as they stepped away from the closed doors, Mercury took the basket from the girl to relieve her of her burden. The girl's blue eyes were sad as she reached up to untie her long blonde ponytail.
"Are you sure you're all right to be walking around?" Venus asked with concern, glancing at Mercury for confirmation.
"Of course," the girl replied, pulling her hair up into twin pigtails as they walked down the corridor. "You know Mercury's the best healer on Earth, especially when combined with the power of the Ginzuishou. Where's Jupiter?"
"In her apartments, unwinding," Mercury answered in a low voice. Her eyes were uneasy. "I've never seen her like that before. I can almost understand now why people used to find her scary."
"Well, it's not as if the rest of us don't feel the same way," Venus commented, a flash of fury momentarily contorting her features. "Anyone would. Honestly, what were you thinking, going in there? He tried to kill you!"
Neo-Queen Serenity winced slightly, but the bullet wound in her chest was now nothing more than a memory.
"I had to know," she said quietly. "I had to know why he did it. There has never been a human who sincerely wanted to harm me. There has never been a hatred I could not heal."
The queen clasped her hands in front of herself over the pale blue dress she was wearing. She was not yet ready to go back to the elegant royal gown that defined who she was just as much as the girl inside it. The two soldiers were walking much more closely at her sides than usual, as if they feared something might happen, and she had a horrible sinking feeling that her life was about to change even more.
"He was right, wasn't he?" Serenity murmured.
Venus rounded on her, stopping her in her tracks as she took a deep breath and raised her arms, her eyes severe.
Her hands stopped inches from the queen's skin.
There was a pause before she simply exhaled and gave Serenity a small smile.
"Of course not. How can you say that?"
In another time, Venus would have shaken some sense into her. She would've been scolded for being so silly, for thinking so little of a friend all the soldiers treasured. But now that she was queen, Venus was afraid to lay hands on her. Afraid to tell her how she really felt. Serenity merely sighed, once again belittling her disappointment.
"We are only human," she said. "Why are we any more deserving of power than he is?"
"We're Sailor Soldiers!" Venus protested, confused. "We're reincarnations of ancient warriors! Is there anyone more fit to lead these people than us? Than you?"
"We haven't gone astray in all the years you've been leading us, Serenity," Mercury added warmly. "People are happy, and safe. Why argue with success?" She smiled at her queen, but the monarch's eyes were fixed on the floor.
"No one has a more loving heart than you, and no one is more loved than you," Venus agreed, her eyes shining with contentment as they always did. "The people of Crystal Tokyo wouldn't want anyone else."
"Yes, I suppose you're right," was all Serenity could say. It was easy for the soldiers to say such things. They weren't the ones on the throne, the ones who would have to answer for their sacrifices and their sins. All she could think of were her would-be assassin's words, and the way he smiled as he talked about bringing down everything she had worked to create.
They had always believed their dreams were the same as everyone else's, that their desires were what everyone wanted. But his dreams, his happiness, came from the thought of her death.
Were his dreams less worthy of her protection? Who was to say whose dreams were the right ones, and which were wrong?
"When shall we tell him he didn't succeed?" Mercury asked quietly.
"Not yet," Serenity replied. "Let him have his momentary happiness." They walked on a while in silence.
Perhaps she could still help him escape.
At least then one of them would be free.
Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon and its associated characters and canon are the property of Naoko Takeuchi and Kodansha.