|Date of Cutscene:||06 November 2015|
|Synopsis:||Kunzite isn't just fighting the Senshi. He's also fighting his own mind and memories. It makes trying to plot against them difficult; it makes spying on them even worse. Despite Rei and Luna and Artemis, despite the White Flower, despite Kyouko's redemption, over the course of weeks, he slowly gathers the seeds of a plan...|
|Cast of Characters:||Kunzite|
Kunzite's view of events taking place over October 16th through November 6th. Log references for this are:
October 16: (Apatite) ... For Destruction
October 22: Who Is Mamoru Chiba?
October 24: Can We Defeat The Borg In It
October 25, afternoon: Milkshakes For Four
October 25-26: With Us
October 26, afternoon: Guardians, Generals, Princes and Princesses
November 1: Ice Cream Is Not Inherently Evil
and offscreen Fall of the White Flower I: Blumenacht
November 5: Infinity University Charity Ball
November 6: Your Problematic Fave
October 16, afternoon.
There was something about Apatite's debut that still bothered Kunzite. He couldn't put a finger on it. The girl who could detect illusions was one problem; but Zoisite was the only one that power might directly endanger, and Zoisite was busy elsewhere. The girl who wounded Apatite was another, the brightness of her feathers hiding a startling destructive ability ... unless he'd mistaken the origin of the attack in the fight, which was always possible. But there was something else. The one girl who'd targeted him in particular. What had Queen Beryl called her? Sailor something-or-other. The bright light of her attack, pale, cold, lethal. His own fault, really, for estimating wrongly the amount of energy he should devote to his defenses. But that silvery light, that he'd reacted to so quickly. Where did he know it from? Why did he despise it so much? It was like any other light, bright, cheap, trashy. But there was something more to it than that.
He couldn't find it, so he set it aside.
October 22, afternoon.
As far as Kunzite could tell courtesy of his little shadow spy, Mamoru Chiba had three hobbies. One: getting drained of that anomalously vast energy he held. Two: studying. Three: tutoring. So many tutoring sessions. So many teenagers. So many children. Kunzite was pretending to be an actual teacher in an actual school, and he wasn't entirely sure which one of them had more students.
This one had blue hair, apparently. Short blue hair. Trim and --
Why was she carrying an animal? Why was the place permitting animals in the first place? Was that usual for human establishments these days?
Then the animal was standing on Mamoru's paperwork and glaring, and Kunzite flinched away from the image, dispelled it entirely, without ever quite understanding why a crescent on a cat's forehead should affect him so much. It troubled him, nagged at the edges of his consciousness, insisted that there was something wrong, not with the cat's face, but with its fur.
Until he managed to push the memory away entirely, that is. It took something less than an hour.
October 24, after dark.
Interesting. Something made the boy drop everything and run. Something pulled him to a place that looked to human eyes like every other place. But the boy could recognize it, could sense the energies coursing through it, could find it -- somehow -- at a distance --
And then there was Sailor Moon. And the boy expected her to be there.
Kunzite sat up sharply, leaning forward to examine the image, to analyze every syllable of his spy's report. The connection to the senshi might explain Nephrite's strange reactions; more, might offer new approaches to Queen Beryl's goals. Particularly if the boy knew Sailor Moon's human identity; that opened a variety of ways to pressure her, to ambush her or force her reactions or drive her to despair. And if the boy provided her with support ... that, too, could be taken away.
Something interfered with the spy's energies for a little, dissolving the image before he could learn precisely where Sailor Moon lived, where she slept, where she was most vulnerable ... but the boy's position before and after the interference gave him a general area. A beginning. Valuable. So much of value, in those few minutes. If he learned nothing else from planting that shadow on the boy, the investment of energy and time would already have been worthwhile.
October 25, afternoon.
The boy seemed half to be living in that arcade. And the constant flocks of chattering girls were growing tiresome. Still, there seemed to be something --
The cat just talked to --
He stood frozen, stunned, for breaths' worth of time. Until the second cat appeared, the white cat escaping a backpack and settling down on Chiba's shoulder.
Kunzite didn't have the time to register his own reaction. Only to treat it as a threat, to banish the image once again, to recoil and bury whatever-it-was back down where it belonged. To forget, completely and in an instant, that anything had happened. To pull back so hard that he vanished from the cavern he'd been spying from, settling instead in a place absolutely dark, frost-rimed, silent.
It wouldn't be till the next day that he remembered again that he sent the dragon out at all.
October 25, evening. Or perhaps 26, early morning. Not in a place where clocks exist.
Kunzite didn't know why he thought of it as that-damned-arcade; it only annoyed him, made him tempted to pull so much energy out of the place that not only did the machines go dark and the humans collapse, but the walls of the building aged and crumbled and decayed. A heap of dust and corroded metals over splinters of cracked bone. It'd be pleasant, to reduce it to that.
It actually irked him that someone else seemed to have the plan in mind; that was his target to destroy, when the time came, not some robot's. Ah, well. Second best would be good enough.
And Chiba's reaction to the threat was an interesting one. What was that he was holding? Kunzite couldn't see it clearly; and then the boy gave up on it and concentrated on misplaced efforts to save the other humans. Be a pity if the boy died too early -
A wall of ice.
Jadeite's name. And Chiba and Jadeite working together better than Kunzite's been able to make most of the Dark Kingdom do.
"He singled you out because you belong with us."
So much to harvest from that one. Details about Nephrite's fate, perhaps. About powers that shouldn't belong to a human boy. About Jadeite's and Chiba's behavior.
Kunzite stared into the darkness without taking the risk of thought; and for the first time in longer than he could remember, he noticed the cold.
October 26, afternoon.
Chiba stepped through that-damned-arcade's door, glanced around, started toward the counter. And then there was an instant of something --
All Kunzite could see was a sudden glory of dark hair, before "Akuryo TAISAN!" drove his perceptions out of their target, leaving him staggered, crouched on the floor, both hands clasped across his forehead and temples as if trying to hold his skull together against the fiery pain threatening to burn through skin and shatter bone.
It took long seconds, longer breaths, before he could regain enough of his composure to straighten.
It was several breaths more before he began to laugh.
November 1, early morning.
Past midnight, and past the hour after midnight, and Kunzite was not entirely at ease with the world. Dreams were enough of a problem on the occasions when he slept. Having dreams chase him onto Earth was not something he wanted to make a routine. And what was the flower, the pale shadow over Tokyo? He wanted Zoisite's perspective, or Nephrite's.
It gave him something to think about, anyway. Something other than the senshi and the masked man she'd been with.
They were at the -
- there was something burning -
"Strength is the only justice in the world. Anything else gets you in trouble."
She was right, of course. Apatite was straightforward and impulsive, but she was exactly right in that. She didn't know she'd hit in passing on just the reason that Kunzite served the Dark Kingdom. The only possible source of enough strength to enforce justice, to put things right. To redeem the world by dragging it down into the radiant dark.
Redeem the world from what, he never quite thought about.
November 5, late enough to be November 6.
One of the advantages of posing as staff was the ability to help clean up after the dance. Kunzite did not, of course, care about the state of the auditorium. He cared about only and exactly one thing left there. The girl with the butterflies had been wearing a dried rose when she first came up toward Chiba.
When she collided with him, the rose in her hair had been fresh.
When he met her again at the doors, shortly thereafter, there had been no rose in her hair at all.
It was not in the best of condition when he found it. The blossom had been stepped on, crushed, and there were a couple of separate petals that he picked up from the floor nearby. It should have been dying. It should have been dead.
It does not begin to wilt that night, nor that morning.
He wished again that he had Zoisite to consult; in lieu of that, after the tediousness of his cover was dealt with for the day, he consulted with someone at a botanical garden. She was at first far too inclined to take the matter public, until he expended enough dark energy to bring to life a different aspect of her latent greed. There would be consequences, of course. But Linnaea would be a consequence useful to him.
Confirmation: it was not a rose known to the botanists of this world and time.
November 6, late.
He stepped from his conversation with Jadeite into a place absolutely dark, frost-rimed, silent. It would be fitting if he could still his breathing, come to match the place; he could not, but he slowed it to an even, measured, meditative pace, and in the comforting beauty of the darkness he reviewed what he knew.
Nephrite was missing; not merely absent, but missing. They'd lost him, at least for now.
Apatite, new as she was, had already proved her value. And there was something important to her stability that she was beginning to lose her grip on.
And Jadeite ...
Kunzite knew the effect that Mamoru Chiba had on him, and his contact with the boy was measured, distant. Jadeite's had been more immediate. The effect should have been commensurately greater.
It was great enough that Jadeite was unwilling to admit it existed, lest the weakness be used against him.
Despite himself, Kunzite longed for Zoisite's sharp, self-absorbed presence, that might hold some immunity to whatever it was this boy was doing to them. And despite himself, he was glad that Queen Beryl had sent Zoisite elsewhere: whatever happened, at least Zoisite would be safe.
He wished, with a terrible strength, that Jadeite had been willing to trust him. Perhaps together they might have been able to analyze the strangeness that the human boy brought, the chaos that was a weapon turned against them rather than one serving them. Perhaps they would have been able to sort some meaning out of the flowers plaguing them.
As it was, he knew only one thing, one that struck too true for him to be able to conveniently forget.
There was a crushed and battered rose in his quarters, stubbornly refusing to die, that smelled like the end of the world ...
... and not the one they'd been working for.