“That can’t be the end of the story….” ChibiUsa pouted. “There has to be more.”
CereCere looked curiously at PallaPalla before turning back to the pink haired Princess. “What do you mean more? The battle’s over. Isn’t that a good thing?”
“That’s not what I meant. What happened after Saturn’s glaive fell?”
“Maybe I’m confused….” CereCere muttered.
“That’s nothing new,” VesVes commented, although the other girls knew that despite her cool tone she meant it in jest.
PallaPalla cleared her throat as CereCere started to open her mouth in response. “I think what ChibiUsa is asking is what you meant by hope and rebirth.”
CereCere grinned and turned to ChibiUsa. “I would think it’s obvious since we are all here today.” Her arms gestured to the enclosed space around them, the tall thick shrubs providing them with the ideal hideaway.
At ChibiUsa’s urging, CereCere finally agreed that they would all ditch their afternoon classes in order to have a day of fun. JunJun had even gone as far as to sneak out sweets from the kitchen while the cook had her back turned so that they would have something to snack on while they sat perched in their favorite hiding spot tucked away in the garden maze. It was probably the nicest summer day they’ve had all season and the girls were ecstatic to be able to spend it outside even though they knew that they would be in trouble if they got caught skipping their classes again.
The pink haired guardian had been out exploring one day when she discovered this blocked in area of the labyrinth through some brambles of the tall shrubs. Even the ceiling was grown over with branches to prevent this spot from being viewed from above. Either the architect had made a mistake in the design, or else he wanted a place to hide while taking breaks himself. Regardless, this spot had been their best kept secret if not their only kept secret….
The four girls making up the Sailor Quartetto sat with their Princess on a blanket they kept stashed away, amongst other assorted items, in this location rather than have to bring materials back and forth and risk being caught. The few snacks that remained un-eaten where left in the center of their circle along with several flower petals as CereCere tended to leave trails of them when she became excited. Needless to say, she had been acting out the story nearly as much as she had been talking and so the petals had become quite abundant over the course of the afternoon.
“Is this even a true story?” ChibiUsa spoke to CereCere, but looked at PallaPalla knowing that the blue haired girl would make sure CereCere’s answer was truthful.
“ChibiUsa!” CereCere gasped, her face appearing to be astonished as well as hurt. JunJun elbowed VesVes as she bit her lip trying not to laugh while VesVes merely rolled her eyes, both girls had long since become accustomed to the dramatic antics of their pink haired leader. “Of course this is the truth,” she clucked her tongue. “But if you feel this way then I will be sure to keep any new and interesting stories to myself since you find them too farfetched to be bothered by them.” She crossed her arms and turned her head to the side, looking aimlessly around at the tall shrubs surrounding them.
“No, Cere!” ChibaUsa squealed, climbing over the assorted snacks in front of her to embrace her friend. “I didn’t mean it that way!”
“Good! Because I heard the most delicious gossip today about my favorite couple!” she gushed.
“No more gossip,” VesVes chided. “Didn’t you learn your lesson the last time you spread gossip around?”
“But it was really interesting….” she whined.
ChibiUsa sat next to her friend and held her hand consolingly. “I’m not ready to change the subject yet!” she protested. “I’m sure the rest of you must have heard about this. Please tell me,” she begged of the other three girls who looked at her blankly.
VesVes quickly pinched JunJun’s hip and looked at her knowingly. JunJun silently mouthed the word ‘no’ to the red haired girl but only received a sharper pinch on her hip in response. JunJun hesitantly looked up at her Princess before continuing. “I heard my Sensei talk about something horrible that happened when she was a young girl. She said it was the catalyst for the birth of Crystal Tokyo.”
“I heard that there was a great darkness before that claimed many innocent lives,” VesVes spoke hurriedly, shooting a sharp looked at the blue haired PallaPalla.
“I heard that the world was encased in some sort of Crystal for nearly a millennia,” PallaPalla spoke quietly.
“You know how hard it can be to get anything out of my Sensei,” CereCere whispered conspiratorially even though there was no one within earshot. “But once I heard her apologizing to him and that’s where I picked up some of the juicier parts of the story.”
“That’s all that you heard though?” ChibiUsa asked again. “I’m still confused. What did Eternal Sailor Moon’s crystal do? And what did Sailor Cosmos’s Cosmos crystal do? Most of all, why did Sailor Saturn have to end everything the way that she did? The Silver Crystal should have been enough to make everything better.”
“You ask too many questions,” CereCere responded with mock annoyance.
Again VesVes rolled her eyes as she could see CereCere basking the extra attention she was receiving. “Don’t you get it ChibiUsa?” she asked exasperatedly. “She’s making the whole story up.”
The smile fell from ChibiUsa’s lips. “But you all just said….”
“VesVes was just having fun at CereCere’s expense,” JunJun laughed. “We were only kidding.”
“But it’s true!” CereCere exclaimed. “It all happened!” The other girls stood up and started walking out of their hideout after checking to make sure that no one was nearby to see them emerging through the shrubs. “You are so cruel, VesVes,” CereCere whined as she followed after the other girls as they made their way through the turns of the labyrinth.
“You shouldn’t make stories up,” she chastised. “ChibiUsa believes everything you tell her.”
“I really didn’t make this one up. I heard-.”
“I heard,” a sharp voice spoke up from in front of them and all the girls jumped as the Sailor Senshi appeared at the entrance to the maze, “that none of you were present for your afternoon classes,” Venus spoke firmly.
“Have you girls been hiding in the maze all day?” Sailor Mercury asked.
ChibiUsa looked around at the four new faces and paled, realizing that they must have lost track of the time. “It’s my fault,” she started to say.
“It’s valiant of you to try and protect your friends,” Sailor Venus responded, “however it would be much nobler of them to acknowledge that they are just as much at fault.” Her eyes drifted over to CereCere. “Some more than others.”
CereCere slowly stepped forward ahead of the other girls and faced Sailor Venus. “I am sorry Sensei Venus,” she spoke in her most adult tone. “As the leader of the Sailor Quartetto, it is my responsibility to make sure that we are prepared to protect our Princess. Without proper training we will never realize our dreams of becoming as legendary as Neo-Queen Serenity’s own protectors.” She paused to look at the other guilty faces of her circle. “We will report to the training arena at once.”
Venus snorted quietly at the young girl’s prepared answer so that only Sailor Jupiter, standing close to her right, heard. “I expect no more delays.”
The Senshi and the Sailor Quartetto started to walk off towards the training grounds, leaving Venus and CereCere alone. “How did you know we were here?” she asked quickly. “We were so careful to keep this a secret.”
“Who do you think made that hideout of yours?” With a wink she turned and walked away, heading towards the Palace instead of the training grounds. CereCere watched her with a look of admiration. She wanted nothing more than to be like her mentor, but she knew that she still had a long way to go before she would become the leader she needed to be for her own Senshi. Venus was confident and smart and always seemed to know everything. She just knew deep down that the stories she had heard about her sensei were true whether the other girls believed her or not!
Venus slowed her pace as she saw Neo-Queen Serenity standing a short distance from the entrance of the Crystal Palace waiting for her. The silver haired woman stood regally as the light breeze tugged at the ends of her flowing dress, the tails of her hair also swaying from the warm air brushing against them. “Do they know now what happened?”
“Most of it,” Sailor Venus responded. “As it turns out my young charge has been paying better attention than I realized,” she chuckled for a moment. “More than once now I’ve noticed her ear pressed up to the door, but she isn’t aware of that yet. I want her to listen and to understand, and if I have to trick her into paying attention so be it.”
“Don’t you think it’s too much of a burden to put on your charge, telling her all of this now? They are all so young.”
Venus schooled her features back into a serious expression. “For the same reason that only I out of all the other Senshi know the truth, she must know as well. If she is going to be their leader she will need to learn quickly what that means, and on that day I will tell her the remainder of the story. But for now, it’s enough that she knows what she does.” She paused for a moment, softening her expression. “One day we will need to tell the other Senshi what happened as well.”
“In time,” Serenity answered. “I think that it may be too much for them to understand right now.” She shook her head sadly. “Everyone is just now learning again what it means to be happy and there is nothing I wish to do to jeopardize it. Besides, how can I explain to them what I have become? They will not understand – I barely understand.”
“Cosmos,” Eternal Sailor Moon whispered softly, “will you help me?”
“It’s my fault that all of this has happened. I brought Chaos to your time and now I must send her back to where she came from.”
“Then take my Crystal, it will help you to defeat her.”
“That would be the same as taking your life,” she replied kindly, “I realize now that I was wrong in wanting to take it from you in the first place. It doesn’t matter what happens to me, I will make things right.”
“We are one in the same, I cannot let you go back to where you came from alone.”
“And I will not allow for Endymion to die,” Cosmos stated firmly, turning her attention back to where Endymion was still kneeling on the ground. She could see the pain and sadness in his eyes as he felt the same death that was being imparted on his planet.
“You have the ability to manipulate time with your Cosmos Crystal,” Eternal Sailor Moon looked into the multifaceted crystal glowing near her own. “Bring our timelines together.”
“No, our times were once the same and now they shall become so again. Bring our worlds together and we will defeat Chaos. You don’t have to be alone.”
“What if you’re wrong and we end the possibility of a new future?”
“My future lies within Crystal Tokyo and it will come to pass,” Eternal Sailor Moon spoke assuredly.
Sailor Saturn swung her glaive high in the air. “Always with the end comes hope and rebirth.”
“The timeline was corrected; I suppose that is enough for everyone to know.”
“Yes, my Cosmos Crystal was thankfully enough to mend the rift between the timelines. It was a risk that I don’t know if I should have taken. Suppose I was wrong and I altered the future?”
Sailor Cosmos reached out with her Crystal, murmuring softly as a myriad of colors erupted from the surface. Eternal Sailor Moon did the same as well, reaching out with the power of her Silver Crystal, a tear slipping out from the corner of her eye as she prayed to the stone emanating a silvery glow. Sailor Saturn’s glaive swung high over head before sailing down towards the Earth. Silence and darkness ensued, both incarnations of Sailor Moon closing their eyes and bracing themselves against the cold air that beat heavily against them.
When they opened their eyes they were alone, standing face to face. Cosmos reached out to the winged woman in front of her and grabbed her hands. A gentle glow illuminated the immediate space around them leaving everything else to appear as an empty vacuum of space. “Did we fail?”
“I don’t know,” Eternal Sailor Moon answered.
“But you said that there was a future!” Cosmos exclaimed.
“Hope and Rebirth,” she replied kindly. “That is who we are, one and the same just like Sailor Saturn is the End.” She gently leaned forward and placed a kiss on Cosmos’s lips. A glow formed between them and Eternal Sailor Moon slowly pulled back, revealing the two Crystals that had appeared between them. Moon scooped the Crystals into each hand and slowly brought them together.
“You made the right choice by joining your two selves together,” Venus said with an air of authority. “Remember what Pluto told you before her death? If your actions would have done anything to alter the future of Crystal Tokyo she wouldn’t have allowed herself to be slain.”
“She spoke forcefully as if she knew what would transpire.” Serenity’s voice faded as her mind drifted back to the distant memory. “Sometimes I don’t know if I can believe my memories. I have all of my memories from after the battle at the Galaxy Cauldron, but then I also have her memories of the battles she fought after her own encounter with the Galaxy Cauldron. Or maybe those are my memories and I
share the memories of Eternal Sailor Moon’s battle at the Galaxy Cauldron.” She placed her fingers delicately at her forehead. “I was so weak then. I knew that Chaos would be reborn into the Cosmos, but I never imaged that she would resurface in the way that she did.”
“I’m sorry that an incarnation of mine did what she did to you,” Venus apologized.
“It was never you that did this. Chaos travelled to that time, to the day where we battled Zoicite, when you first revealed yourself to us. It was that moment that changed the flow of time. You – no, your counterpart – did not realize that by changing something as simple as to which turn she took would have such devastating effects. It was Chaos that brought you and Endymion together that night.”
“I would never on my own-.”
Serenity raised her hand to silence the woman in front of her. “I know, Minako.” She smiled softly. “I also know where your heart belongs. It has been a difficult path for the both of you, and I wish that there was something I could do to ease your pain.”
“In time we will learn to forgive one another for what we have done. But for now, we have all the time we need.”
“None of us knows what the future holds.”
Venus gently touched her fingers to Serenity’s forehead, pressing lightly against the gold moon sigil on her forehead. Faintly she could see the silver star that lay underneath, symbolic of the merging of the timelines when Sailor Cosmos and Eternal Sailor Moon joined together to become one and the same. She only allowed Venus and Endymion to see this combined sigil, opting to wear just her crescent moon sigil when around any others. Since that day, she never again attempted to transform into Sailor Moon, unsure of which form she would take.
“I must go now,” Venus spoke simply.
Serenity watched as her friend and guardian walked back towards the Palace. At the entrance to the gate stood Endymion’s silver haired Shitennou, waiting patiently for the blonde. After a few exchanged words, and even more unspoken, they walked off together towards the training arena. Serenity smiled as she noticed them walking so close to each other that their shoulders were nearly touching. Memories resurfaced of the day back in the Moon Kingdom when she had been strolling through the garden with Endymion. Mars and Jadeite had accompanied them only after Jadeite had made his false excuses for being seen with the raven haired Princess. She and Endymion were not too blind to see the love between the two, nor were Mercury and Zoicite who were assigned guard duty that day. She could still see the look between Venus and Kunzite in that moment before they were discovered. A large smile pulled at her lips as she could more clearly remember the look between them once they realized that they had been discovered.
Everything appeared to be as it should. Her Senshi were once again reunited with their Shitennou counterparts, and finally, after two millennia she was married to her Prince, Endymion. ChibiUsa would one day rise to rule this Crystal kingdom with the Sailor Quartetto as her loyal guardians. One day they in turn would have to rise up to fight Chaos in whatever her next incarnation might be. On that day, Serenity promised herself, she would reveal the secret of the Cosmos Crystal so that her daughter would be able to come out triumphant in her battle against darkness. ChibiUsa would become the ultimate form of Sailor Cosmos to fight in this battle. Serenity lied when she said to Venus that no one knew what the future held – she did and when the time came for her daughter to fight she would have to be strong enough to win this battle on her own. But for now, there was time enough for her to grow into her destiny.