Year 503 of the Immortal Reign of Neo-Queen Serenity and Prince Endymion
"Why are you doing this to me?" Serenity whispered, far too low for any of the people gathered in the sunny courtyard below to hear. She wound her fist in her long white dress and felt the old urge to run away.
Amara raked her fingers through her short, sandy hair and shot Serenity a look she had not seen in at least a hundred years. Exasperated and affectionate. The big sister she had never, always had. When had Amara stopped looking at her like that? When had she stopped noticing?
"Why? Because you don't listen, Bunny!" Amara kissed her sovereign's forehead and stepped away, taking her wife's hand where Michelle stood by the parapet.
"My queen," Michelle curtsied, somehow keeping the gesture as graceful and modest in the mini-skirt of her Scout uniform as when she accepted the applause of a packed concert hall in an evening gown. "We swore to serve you as long as we lived. I hope you will understand that we are keeping that vow, not breaking it. We serve you in this."
"We tried everything else, majesty," Amara said. "We love you. Now, in the name of the right to live and die—" Amara pulled Michelle close.
Before Serenity could lunge forward, before she could wield the matchless power of the crystal, before she could think or breathe, Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune blew themselves apart. The soldier of earthquakes and the soldier of oceans were gone.
Screams started in the courtyard below. They spread throughout the palace.
Mud rained from the clear sky.
Serenity sank to her knees and let the tears come. She was Serena again, just Bunny — only fourteen and watching her friends die one by one at Beryl's hands — only sixteen and watching her allies fall to the Doom Phantom — only twenty-one and scrambling to save anyone at all from the end of the world, brought on at last by politicians and terrorists, rather than the aliens and monsters she knew how to fight. She was not ever supposed to have to do this again. That was the whole point of Crystal Tokyo. That was their triumph! She had worked and striven and sacrificed so much so that no human ever had to die again.
So why would they do it?
She had heard rumors of it happening, rarely, to sad, strange people on the borders, on the fringes, people who had moved away from her City and clearly lost their minds, poor things, in the unrecovered wastelands not yet ready to inhabit. And of course there were those silly petitions, every year, that Endymion agreed she need not mind. The unpleasant business with those she had had to send to Nemesis. That foolish "right to live and die" fad. But Amara and Michelle are — were — Scouts!
How could they abandon her like this?
Serenity's guards were around her almost instantly, but they did not approach her as she sobbed. Eventually, Endymion and Raye arrived. Her husband picked her up and carried her to their rooms, while her chief of intelligence took in the scene as only Sailor Mars could. When Raye joined them again, Serenity stifled her tears, as she had learned to do in the years before the survivors found the blooming land that became her City. Serenity asked, "Pluto, too?"
Raye's eyes widened. "I think so. Not dead, but... gone. From this plane. How did you know?"
Endymion stroked Serenity's hair as she sighed. "And Saturn?"
"I still can't feel her. Anywhere. Neither dead nor alive. She's like a hole in a sound."
Endymion raised an eyebrow at her.
"Hey, when you're people-psychic, instead of object-psychic, then you can question my similes." Raye frowned at the prince consort. "For the moment, no matter what we call it, Hotaru is still missing."
"And Rini with her," Endymion said what neither of the two women would.
The heir to the throne had disappeared, along with her best friend, whose adoptive parents had just so spectacularly committed treason by daring to die.
— End —