Roll Away Your Stone

Wherein Nephrite and Kunzite win a Silver Crystal key fragment, Makoto reveals her identity, Kunzite remembers, Rei punches him, and Usagi purifies Nephrite. Also, treehouses. Busy day.

Date: 2016-02-17
Pose Count: 68
Mamoru Chiba 2016-02-17 04:04:26 29374
The entrance to Nephrite's domain from Zoisite's -- in a large room at the back, glittering with stars and marked with a separate quarter of the quartered circle from the entrance to Jadeite's -- lets out into a high platform in an ancient, immense forest. The platform itself, being (from the perspective of Nephrite's domain) the entrance to Zoisite's, is decorated with painted wood and stone with symbolic representations of fire and foliage. It feels like the piece of Nephrite's heart that he didn't know was missing; it feels like the golden energy of the Earth; it feels like home-- and the soul of the place resonates with Nephrite's on an incredibly deep level.

The girls enter the place maybe five minutes later. Nephrite can feel it, he can feel the intrusion like someone he forgot he gave a key to has come in and begun making themselves at home, he can feel the notification system at work, shining bright and pulling at him. It's a little like if someone came into one of his locked-off pocket dimensions with no effort, which is uncanny in and of itself. What's stranger still is that the place didn't fight it.

Where the girls come in is on the forest floor, and before them is the inside of a gate much like the inside of the arch at the Hikawa Jinja, as though they were about to leave a shrine. Beyond that gate is the forest -- and from their point of view, it looks like a veritable tree city, some parts of it grown, others hollowed out; places where the canopy of leaves breaks for platforms for viewing the sky; rope-and-plank bridges in some areas, gracefully arching grown bridges in others. The place has the cleanest air, the bluest sky, and the brilliance of autumn leaves everywhere. A multitude of colors, bright and vivid and too-real.

Like each of the palaces so far, there is a motif: the quartered circle, here grown organically by trees trained in those shapes, and carved deep within the wood. Unlike the others, the other themes present are distinctly reminiscent of First Nation decor: stylized animals, patterns, carvings. The scent of the sea is not far, despite the unending trees.
Makoto Kino 2016-02-17 04:17:15 29384
"...really not sure what's going to happen," Sailor Jupiter says quietly, almost a murmur. She's walking ahead of the others, distracted from the moment they step foot through the doorway from Jadeite's palace by the sight of this place - the trees, the faint scent in the air, the voice that she can almost-not-quite hear whispering in the rustle of branches all around them. She raises a hand, grazes her fingertips over the lines of a carving.

Ami's device is pinned to her collar, unable to transmit but recording everything for later analysis. "If we're going to get through to him," Makoto says, "this might be our best chance."
Usagi Tsukino 2016-02-17 04:22:40 29388
Sailor Moon follows close behind Jupiter. After all, this is her fight, and Moon's still feeling more than a little guilty for the hit Jupiter took for her earlier that week.

"What there's a puzzle like the others, though? Like...constellations? I only know Orion, and that's just because he looks like a sideways bow! There are no bunny constellations, Jupiter. None!"

Her voice is quiet, though, because EERIE, (and pretty,) and if she's clutching two of her girls' hands, she can't be blamed, right?
Nephrite 2016-02-17 04:33:35 29395
Nephrite knows this place. He cannot remember it, exactly. Cannot picture any particular memory here. But he feels it resonate through his bones. Even when standing on the platform, his feet feel more firmly rooted on the ground than they ever have before. The smell of the air, cedar and greenery tinged with the ocean somewhere nearby, energizes him.

He lays his hands on the railing, so thick with moss that it is more like resting his hands in a plush carpet. Unlike Jadeite, he does not mind the moss. It makes the place feel even warmer, more full of life.

He feels he could stay here forever, but Kunzite steps up near him, a cold reminder of their real mission. He studiously avoids showing his pleasure at being here, at least as much as Nephrite can ever avoid showing his emotions.

"They're here already," he comments instead, reluctantly leaving behind the high platform's impressive view and starting down a swinging rope bridge.
Rei Hino 2016-02-17 04:40:09 29401
    Mars follows in after Moon and Jupiter, not moving her hand away if scaredy-cat Usagi grabs it. "If there's a puzzle we'll just have to solve it. We should be able to handle it, right? I mean we're two out of two already."

    To Jupiter, she says, "We're right here with you, Jupiter-chan."

    Mars strolls through the forest along with the other two, not really knowing what to expect. All of these things have been trippy in one way or another, so she's wondering what's going to be unique and strange about this one. When she looks up and sees platforms, she has to comment. "I wonder if somebody lives up there."
Kazuo Takeba 2016-02-17 04:45:05 29404
Emotions. Maybe that's what Beryl took out of Kunzite when she reworked him -- not, arguably, that there was all that much there to remove. The platform and the rope bridge feel more alive than he does. Even his irritation at the latter is confined to a narrowing of eyes that lasts no longer than a blink. He follows Nephrite's lead without argument, though. One of them can see clearly here, and it's not him.

Besides. There are implicit rules in these places. He can't see those here, either.

"That's fine," he says to Nephrite's information. Warning. Whatever category it falls into. "It doesn't matter who puts their hands on the thing. Only that we leave with it."

At least he remembers that 'we' is a pronoun that exists.
Mamoru Chiba 2016-02-17 05:00:06 29416
There's a shrieking cry from the sky, and an enormous bird with glowing eyes and a jagged, toothy-edged beak dives past the Shitennou on the bridge. As it passes Nephrite and Kunzite, it eyes the former pointedly; the gaze of the thing is weighted and intelligent, attentive and powerful, half-spirit and half-dream but all physical in this place.

It continues its descent, plummeting; just as it's shrieking again as it bullets toward the Senshi on the ground, it blasts its wings out to the sides, the span of them blocking out the sky and the brilliant reds and oranges and yellows of the leaves above their heads. It swoops up just short of them, the wind from its passage pulling wildly at their hair and skirts, then circles rapidly and lofts to an impossibly gentle landing in front of them.

It pulls itself up; it's at least four meters high, and its clearly delineated plumage is almost stylized -- but it is so very much a living thing, wise and piercing. Its voice is deep and rumbling like distant thunder. "Daughters of the White Moon. Take care. Your enemy approaches with divided spirit. Remember that not all courage and strength are physical, and that medicine can be as bitter for the one that administers it."
Makoto Kino 2016-02-17 05:14:58 29421
Jupiter glances back over her shoulder, tips her head a little in agreement to Mars's words and gives Sailor Moon's hand a soft squeeze. "Whatever the test is, it can't be something that'd be impossible for us to pass. Otherwise what's the point?"

Turning her eyes ahead again, she continues on, until Rei makes that comment wondering if anything lives up among the treetops overhead - and is answered by that piercing raptor scream. "You had to ask," Mako complains wryly under her breath, reflexively releasing Sailor Moon's hand to step in front of her as the enormous bird comes hurtling down from above.

It is not an attack. As the great beast lands, Sailor Jupiter straightens, regarding the bird with a growing sense of respect bordering on faint awe. Of course there'd be a guardian, she thinks. Its words, however, draw a quiet sigh out of her.

"So... he's already here, and this is probably going to hurt a lot." She says it in the resigned tone of someone who might've hoped for something different, but wasn't really expecting it. She glances to her friends, shrugs a little helplessly.
Usagi Tsukino 2016-02-17 05:17:30 29422
PARDON ME, MARS! Usagi isn't a scaredy cat! Just because her hand has yours in a death grip! SHEESH!

Her other hand feels cold where Jupiter's left.

Her eyes widen at the large bird. So pretty! Why do her fingers itch to pet each mystical critter on this whole Kingdom Tour of the Shittenou?

Wait, no, stop, Serious Busniess!

She thinks about what the giant (beautiful) birdie says. Her (cold, abandoned, not really ignore her) hand rests on Jupiter's. "Nothing worth it is without a little pain?"

It would sound braver if her voice didn't raise in a question.

Or, you know, if her knees weren't knocking together.
Rei Hino 2016-02-17 05:22:49 29427
    Mars laughs with embarassment as the screech from above answers her question. "I did, didn't I?" She watches as the giant bird lands in front of them, and it... warns them? Well this isn't so bad, considering the last two palaces had helpful but strange animals in them, too.

    Mars considers the words of the strange bird that has just landed in front of them. 'Not all courage and strength are physical.' Huh okay, well that makes perfectsense. 'Medicine can be as bitter for the one that administers it.' Nope, no clue what that means!

    "So they're here already. I guess we shouldn't be surprised."

    Mars squeezes Moon's hand, and then shakes her head. "It's not ideal, but what can you do?"
Nephrite 2016-02-17 05:24:14 29428
Nephrite freezes at the sight of the massive bird. Its sharp, jagged feathers are like lightning cutting across a night sky. The energy radiating off of it can only be likened to what he feels from the stars.

It seems to stare straight through him, inspect for itself the answer to Zoisite's question only a few days ago, about whether indeed there is a soul inside of him or not. And then it flies away. For all the creature's enormous, mythical size, the trees are each like their own tower, and the bird quickly vanishes through the thick canopy of leaves. Nephrite feels... abandoned, unworthy.

And then he sneers. So /what?/ He is not here to win this place's acceptance. He is here to make his queen happy enough that she considers not torturing him when he returns.

"It's headed for them," he informs Kunzite. And Nephrite, who always keeps his feet on the ground if he can help it, leaps from the platform.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-02-17 05:30:36 29430
Of all of them there, the creature pays Kunzite no attention at all. There might be meaning in that. There might not. It gives him little pause; not something he's about to consider.

In contrast, there's the barest instant of stillness as Kunzite processes what Nephrite tells him about what it's doing. He's only had to face one of the Senshi since their Queen restored him. And that one, he had a certain advantage against.

She won't, he's certain, be here. That leaves the others.

Maybe whichever one of them got to him before.

It doesn't matter. Less than a heartbeat, and he follows Nephrite; if he loses track of the man, he might never find his way back out of this place.
Mamoru Chiba 2016-02-17 05:45:53 29435
The Thunderbird's feathers ruffle, enlargening it further for a moment before its glowing eyes turn up toward the trees in the direction of Nephrite and Kunzite. The eyes narrow. "I will observe," it rumbles, and then spreads its mighty wings and lifts itself powerfully into the air, looking crankier than before. It perches, loomingly, on the top of the lightning-blasted remains of a tree that hasn't yet decayed to return to the earth.

The ground is covered in fallen leaves, and the blast of wind from the enormous bird's wings has scattered them, and the rich topsoil below them created by its generations of ancestors is likewise disturbed. Here and there, damp earth is caked on something smooth below it, perhaps stone; what's visible is regular, as if laid intentionally.

They're exposed, here.

A scuff of a booted foot or a red high heel against the caked parts reveals, in passing, a strip of blue sandstone.
Nephrite 2016-02-17 06:17:01 29437
Where a massive bird appeared in the sky moments ago, Nephrite is suddenly there, descending from the heavens. Smaller and less impressive, perhaps, but with much darker intent.

He does not hover in the air to taunt them first. He is not a man of such subtlety. He rushes for the ground in the middle of the senshi instead. Physically drops himself into a three-point landing, punching the ground as he does so. The resulting slam shakes the earth. A whirlwind whips around him, scatters leaves and bits of moss everywhere.

He looks around at the assembled senshi, and turns to Sailor Jupiter. "You know, when I gave you that nickname, I did not expect it to mean 'giant pain in the ass.'" He grins darkly at her. "Foresight is a delightful thing."
Kazuo Takeba 2016-02-17 06:23:52 29441
First, the bird. Second, Nephrite. Third, Kunzite - with less overt drama than either of the two before him. He never reaches the ground, never makes it that easy for Jupiter -- or perhaps he's simply letting Nephrite be her preferred target. He spreads his hands and summons his shadows instead, coming to a halt twenty feet or so up in one of those all-too-familiar dark spheres. Not in tune with the place the way Nephrite is; failing to echo its solidity, its groundedness. Or maybe somewhere in his subconscious he still has unfortunate associations with 'forest' and 'fall.'

Granted, he's not hovering to taunt them, either. He scans the trio with a glance, then keeps looking. Not trusting that they're indeed alone.
Makoto Kino 2016-02-17 06:29:42 29442
She gets only a split second of forewarning; if Jupiter's eyes hadn't tracked the direction of the Thunderbird's stare upwards, there wouldn't have even been that. As it is she abruptly swears, a sharply hissed "--shit!" and with no time to be more gentle, she whirls to shove Sailor Moon back and away in the instant before Nephrite crashes down among them hard enough to shake the ground.

She'll apologize later, if there is a later.

Her stance is defensive, feet braced and shoulders set and fists curled protectively in front of her, but there's no anger on Jupiter's face. Nephrite's verbal jab only makes her look pained.

When she sees Kunzite hovering above them, something cold turns over in the pit of Makoto's stomach. She fixes her eyes on Nephrite's.

"We don't have to do this," Sailor Jupiter tells him.
Rei Hino 2016-02-17 06:43:12 29444
    Mars watches as the thunderbird flies away. "Observe? What do you mean by..." Oh it's gone. She turns towards the other senshi, "... Sounds like we're getting started!"

    Violet eyes turn down to the... something... caked with dirt in the ground. She frowns thoughtfully at it, and starts scuffing it with her high heels, seeing if she can uncover the... whatever it is. Blue sandstone. Right.

    "Keep an eye out for the Shitennou." She keeps scuffing the ground with her feet, trying to see if she can uncover more before something big happens. Scuff scuff. Scuff scuff.

    Then something big happens. Nephrite shows up. Kunzite is with him. Two shitennou against three senshi. She grits her teeth and holds up her arms defensively as the ground shakes and the wind rages, whipping her raven hair backwards. She steps in front of Moon, protecting her further as Jupiter shoves her back.

    After Jupiter's words, Mars decides not to immediately start lighting things on fire, but every muscle in her body tenses. This is what they came here for, right?
Usagi Tsukino 2016-02-17 06:49:09 29447
Mamoru's here. Well, not here, physically, but he's there, and it's warm and cozy and lets her know she's not alone. She knows he'll come if she needs him.

That alone stops her knees shaking.

And then, the bird is off and there's --

Uh oh. This can't be goo--


She lands, hard, on the blue cobblestone and what she refuses to believe is anything other than dirt.

Ouch...she deserved that!

She tries, somehow, to let Mamoru know she's okay, but it probably comes across as bunnies and kittens tumbling around on the ground. Who knows.

She rolls to standing, and now Mars is in on this.

Now the line is filled with Grumpy Cat and military tanks.

She looks up at Nephrite, trying to look like she hadn't just taken a tumble. "You know, nicknames can mean many different things. Like calling someone a jerk. Not that I'm calling you a jerk, but I have various degrees of annoyance and affection when I call someone that."
Mamoru Chiba 2016-02-17 06:54:24 29449
The whirlwind and groundshaking power of Nephrite's confident arrival has done more than send the Senshi on the defensive: it's blown away a full layer of dirt and grit and leaves, sending it scattering and stinging and smudging clothes as it goes. When it's settled, the design they stand (or sprawl) on (or view from above) is clear. It's an immense sigil inlaid in the ground.

Where in Zoisite's palace, it was elegance and changing light and shadows, alternately revealing and concealing a delicately repeated motif? In this expansive place, full of things so much bigger and older than human beings, the symbol is as oversized as everything else: blue sandstone, polished smooth and gleaming, the stars glittering in its navy depths-- the quartered circle. The alchemical symbol for Earth. Pi r squared over four.

Nephrite has landed in the dead center of it.

The trees rustle with the wind, shedding brilliantly-hued leaves which catch in curling-away little whorls of air, and the Thunderbird sits and judges. And then its glowing eyes move to stare unblinkingly at Kunzite.
Nephrite 2016-02-17 07:00:17 29451
Nephrite does not glance Kunzite's way, but he is hyper-aware of the other general's presence. He does not know how much of Kunzite is Kunzite anymore, but he has to assume that his loyalty to Beryl is absolute. So yes. Of course they have to do this. He will suffer if he does not do this.

He paces slowly over the quartered circle, polished stone gleaming like starlight at his feet. "Then why don't you give up now? If you give me the other two keys, I might even let all three of you go."
Kazuo Takeba 2016-02-17 07:05:49 29452
Watcher, watched. More than one cycle of that, too. And yet of everyone there, there's only one person in a position to notice something about one of those watchers.

Kunzite waits. Unhurried. Patient. Attentive to everything. Except --

Jupiter has reason to see it, in that moment when her stomach turns cold. And reason to understand what it is.

The pattern on the ground is brilliant, immense, obvious. Impossible to ignore. And he's doing it anyway; he can't bring himself to look at it. Even now, he's drifting down and back, drawing himself to an angle from which he can watch the Senshi, guard Nephrite, without having to look at the thing.
Makoto Kino 2016-02-17 07:30:18 29458
Give up - no. It's been Makoto's creed all along, the thing that kept her going until she could find her way to Usagi and the place that she belongs: if she gives up, that's when she's failed. Only then.

"I won't," Jupiter answers Nephrite, immediate and flat and final. "Do you still not understand? What's been done to you? What's been taken from you?" Her voice rises as she speaks, rough with the force of her feelings. "Do you still not remember?"

Throwing a furious glance upwards, once again she draws the shape in the air, not with the too-steady motion of a half-remembered dream this time but sharp, desperate. Threads of electricity trail from her fingertips as a sweep of her hand describes the circle, slashes through it once, twice - the quartered circle burns in the air, silver and shivering, for a few seconds before the energy begins to unravel again.

"Open your eyes!" Sailor Jupiter cries out, half demanding and half pleading.
Usagi Tsukino 2016-02-17 07:35:29 29460
This time, it is not her plan. It's Jupiter's. And she's not going to do anything (purposefully) stupid this time around. The taller girl has enough on her plate as it is.

Sailor Moon scans the ground. Such a pretty color. And big.

Much bigger than the last two.

She nudges Mars and stares down at her feet for a second.

She wonders.

How in the heck is this thing gonna fit in her subspace pocket?

(Unless it's...not it?)

She blinks and looks up.

Jupiter is watching Nephrite.

Sailor Moon decides to keep her eye on Kunzite.

There may even be some angry judgement.

She's still pissed about Mercury.
Rei Hino 2016-02-17 07:37:50 29463
    "That's not going to happen, Nephrite." Mars slides one foot back, holding up her hands and making them fists. "You know that." Eyes go to Kunzite as he backs away, and then back to Nephrite. She isn't going to throw the first punch... but she's still expecting this to turn into a fight at any moment.

    Mars watches as Jupiter makes the symbol for Earth in the air, trying to plead with Nephrite even now. At Usagi's nudging, she looks down at the sandstone, then to Usagi. Mars whispers to Moon, "If that was the thing, our memories would've come back when we touched it, wouldn't it?"

    At least, that makes sense in Mars's mind.
Mamoru Chiba 2016-02-17 07:52:27 29465
"My lord Nephrite," the god admonishes, and instead of the rumble of distant thunder, it is the sharp crack of the sky splitting above. Raindrops patter to the earth, to the leaves, to the starry blue stone beneath their feet. They are scattered and irregular, but they come with the thick scent of salt and ozone in the air. "Take care that you know what you ask."

It fixes its unblinking gaze on Kunzite again, resettling itself on its perch. Though its attention is weighty and judgemental, there is yet another attentiveness focused carefully on him, heavier and more ancient still. It calls up disjointed imagery of a dark and pure blue and focus, of the white-gold color of clouds at sunrise, of the warm gold and stillness of a sunny afternoon in a forgotten meadow, of the quiet peace of a dark glade in a primeval forest, of the unbending solidity of mountains. It does not judge. It waits, patient too, and steady and faithful.

At Jupiter's words and actions, and the steady support of her sisters, at her wholehearted unbreaking determination, something else happens:

A shoot begins to rise from the ground in the triangle of space between the three girls, growing with unnerving swiftness into a sapling; its green oak leaves burst forth, and a branch extends and curls, browning and fading, bark chipping off. Like tree-limbs trained with rope to grow a certain way, it moves upward and into itself, then detaches and falls like an acorn at Moon's feet.

Smoothly polished wood with a beautiful grain, it is one quarter of a circle.
Nephrite 2016-02-17 08:06:11 29469
The sheer scale of the symbol on which he stands makes it easy for Nephrite to see it only as an abstract thing. A pretty stone cut into a wedge.

Drawn in the sky he always looks to, he cannot ignore the crossed circle. And he knows that symbol. Not from any distant memory, but from a very recent one, of a boy with a whiteboard and pleading eyes.


He balks for a moment, and the leaves overhead rustle uneasily. He turns pale as the stern warning from the thunderbird shudders through him. A tree is growing right from the symbol's center, and all he can do is watch dumbly as it happens.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-02-17 08:19:17 29472
Kunzite does not know that symbol.

Kunzite does not --


(He does not remember what the symbol meant. He does not remember where he remembers it from. He only remembers struggling to hold on to it, to the image drawn in lightning. Last of all the memories taken from him, the one he held most tightly to himself, the one that -- if he could only keep it -- everything else would follow from, in time.)

(He fought for it for what seemed like years, sometimes by desperate force of will, sometimes by attempts at cunning, sometimes by trying to hide it in memories he was permitted to keep.)

(It took Metallia far longer to take it from him this time than when she first reworked his mind in this life. This time, start to finish, it took her almost four minutes to rewire him.)

(And that last memory was lost so thoroughly that even the key in Jadeite's palace could only almost unlock it.)

He stiffens silently; his eyes widen. He might be almost about to attack Jupiter in order to banish the thing from his sight, to try to regain some precarious balance.

There are some things more important than his sanity.

The tree grows; detaches; falls -- and Kunzite is falling, dropping from his place above to land in a crouch behind Nephrite. The shadows that sustained him flow fast, fast as thought, to form a small, tight dome over the wooden quarter-circle. To keep the Senshi away from it.

"Not this time."
Makoto Kino 2016-02-17 08:31:45 29476
She sees Nephrite stop, and Sailor Jupiter's eyes brighten as she begins to hope--

--And then, with the worst possible timing, the piece of the key appears and the look on her face breaks into one of horror. "No--!"

She gives herself no time to think. A wild sweep of her hand sends a surge of wind and tumbling petals blasting towards Kunzite, too late - he's already dropped clear of where she was aiming, but Jupiter doesn't see the rush of petals miss the mark because she's already lunging, dropping her shoulder and charging at Nephrite to simply ram into him bodily at full force.
Usagi Tsukino 2016-02-17 08:34:20 29477
And Sailor Moon isn't exactly far behind.

Well, not literally.

A dome over the key bit?

Darnit, Kunzite, she's already mad at you!

Off comes the tiara and it's circling, hard, toward Kunzite.

And her wand's in her hand.

Don't make her turn this kingdom around so help me!
Rei Hino 2016-02-17 08:37:27 29478
    Mars looks at the tree that is growing right next to her. Since she and Jupiter are on point, she actually has to look back in order to see it. While it shoots rapidly in the air, she shouts with worry, "Sailor Moon!" and reaches out for the princess only to have the growing tree get in her way. Branches force her to withdraw her hand and watch.

    When the wooden quarter circle drops to the ground, and verifies that Moon is mostly alright, she immediate turns towards the other two Shitennou, watching as Kunzite moves to prevent the senshi from taking it.

    "This time and every time!" shouts Mars. Jupiter launches her attack, and Mars is quick to follow. If Jupiter is focusing her physical power on Nephrite, then Mars will just have to go up against Kunzite!

    She circles around Jupiter and Nephrite to reach Kunzite. She holds off on using her magic because she remembers Kunzite's energy redirection, but seeing that tiara going towards him she decides to help Moon's attack instead.

    "Fire Soul!" As she shouts, flames reach out and wrap around the tiara, adding some additiona firepower to Moon's attack.
Nephrite 2016-02-17 09:02:19 29485
Nephrite never sees Jupiter coming. He drops to the starry stone sigil like a sack of bricks. As he hits the ground, something else hits him--not physically, but far deeper than that. A sharp tug of attention on his very soul. Only once before has he felt that tug, and so he knows immediately who it is now. Endymion is calling out to him.

A flash of knowledge floods him of what happened to Zoisite. Understanding, a feeling that he is not /alone/.

In his shock, Nephrite feels the quiet and firm expectation that he will return to this place. Endymion--it /must/ be Endymion--demands agreement. He only hesitates a moment. /Yes,/ he thinks clearly, and promptly moves to sweep Jupiter's feet out from beneath her.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-02-17 09:09:51 29488
Gravity takes him out of the way of Jupiter's flowers. Nothing's going to take him out of the way of that tiara. Kunzite pulls the edge of his cape around and up, using it as the secondary focus for his power; it deflects the tiara off to one side, away from Nephrite. It deflects -- most of the fire. He lifts his hand to draw an attack from his stored energies --

And hesitates, just for an instant. No. Not that one. Not here.

That hesitation brings an opening for something else.

"Endymion?" The word echoes Nephrite's shock. His expression hardens an instant later. But there's that instant, before he's flinging tendrils of stolen black-green lightning out toward Moon. He doesn't expect them to hit her, of course. Mars or Jupiter is far too likely to get in the way.
Makoto Kino 2016-02-17 09:51:08 29494
Jupiter goes down hard, barely managing to get her hands and one knee more or less under her to catch some of the bruising force of impact with the polished stone. She sees the blast that Kunzite unleashes towards Sailor Moon, but there's no way she can make it back onto her feet in time - instead she gathers herself up just enough to spring at Nephrite again before he has the chance to get all the way back up himself.

There's no kind of grace or artistry in this; it's pure rough brawling, her fist smashing down at his face. Tears stream down her face even as she strikes at him, her face twisted in pain that has nothing to do with the fall she just took. She didn't want to do this, but if they lose the piece of the key, then what?

"Are we just going to repeat the mistakes of the past?"
Rei Hino 2016-02-17 10:01:00 29495
    Mars sees Jupiter get swept off of her feet, and Kunzite is launching an attack at Moon. There isn't a whole lot that Mars can really do to Kunzite that wont just help him, but Moon on the other hand still has a role to play here. Which leaves Mars as the best person to tank the hit that Kunzite is throwing at Moon.

    Plus you know, guardian senshi, she kinda has a responsibility here.

    She quickly leaps in front of the black green lightning heading for Sailor Moon, but she doesn't just take it. She throws her hands in front of her, palms forward, hair blowing back as fire roars from her hands. In front of her is a solid wall of flame, hopefully cancelling out at least some of the green lightning before it breaks through and electrocutes her.

    She's on the ground after that, raven hair splayed across the sandstone, scorch marks marring her white gloves and small tufts of smoke rising from her.

Usagi Tsukino 2016-02-18 23:14:04 29734
Sailor Moon's expression changes from anger to horrified.

She doesn't get the gory details, but she doesn't need to.

As frustrating as she finds Zoisite at the present time, the glimpses Mamoru shows her, a brief impression of the attack in progress against the youngest shittenou, and a vague estimate of the length of time their queen took to take out her aggression makes her stomach turn for him.

And this is before Mars takes a blow for her.

A shriek, because people keep taking hits for her. Mamoru will likely notice a spike of fear and worry and guilt being crushed into a ball and packaged instead as a brightly gift wrapped box of annoyance.

"You can take it!" This isn't shouted to Mars, who she wraps her arm around, both to comfort and hold back, or Jupiter, but to Kunzite.

To her own girls, as her grip on Mars turns to one of a girl seeking comfort, she clarifies. "I don't want that bitch to do to them what she did to Zoisite."

Her glare at Kunzite is cold. "This doesn't mean I forgive what was done to Mercury."
Nephrite 2016-02-18 23:30:00 29735
The emotion on Jupiter's face is mirrored back at her, but not for the same reasons. His brother tortured, Endymion's voice in his head, and if he doesn't return with the prize in his hand he will suffer the worst consequences imaginable. And here is Jupiter, conveniently giving him something that he can hit back at. Everything the others have to say, all of their magic flying around, falls by the wayside the moment she's on top of him.

Both Jupiter's first and second punches hit Nephrite square in the face--one side and then the other, slamming his head back against the shimmering polished stone. He blindly thrusts his forearm up at her torso, trying to dislodge her from on top of him. He has all the weight advantage, but that is hardly going to help him while he is floundering on his back.

"Everything is just a repeat," he snarls, wrestling for control, his fists coming up to strike her just as hard as she did him. "Why should you be the exception?"
Kazuo Takeba 2016-02-19 00:20:09 29737
Mars is down. Kunzite is singed by her fire; that doesn't matter. Their Queen's orders matter, and their Queen wants the Senshi dead. Kunzite lifts his hand again, collecting energy the color of pain -

For no reason he can name, he glances toward Jupiter and Nephrite.

In the less-than-a-second that he's distracted, Moon has tangled herself with her teammate, and is calling out to him. Invoking their Queen's only priority higher than killing their enemies. Kunzite's mouth tightens. He could just kill her anyway, wound Moon in the bargain...

He doesn't.

Long strides carry him past the two girls, closer than he likes, but that attack is still held ready. And what could she do to really hurt him now, anyhow? He spares a glance for the blonde in turn as he passes. "So she's still alive. I'm impressed."

He isn't sure why he doesn't say next time I'll be more careful. He doesn't think about it. Only drops to one knee, banishes the dark force protecting the key, reaches out to take hold of it.

He thought it would take one of the Senshi touching the thing to do more damage.

The memories half-drown him; he comes up from them gasping, unable to speak. His head whips around, silvered hair flying, and his gaze locks on to Nephrite, compass needle to polestar.
Makoto Kino 2016-02-19 00:48:26 29738
The shout from Sailor Moon has Jupiter's head snapping up and towards her, eyes wide with shock and confusion. "What--?!"

Her momentary inattention costs her. The question cuts off sharply in a breathless cry as Nephrite's forearm slams into her, taking the wind out of her; she curls around the blow, gasping, grappling wildly at his arm in an effort to trap it in a joint lock before he shakes her off.

None of this is right. None of this is right, but the piece of the key is already out of her reach. All she can do is trust in Sailor Moon and stay on the path that she's started. Jupiter's eyes lock onto Nephrite's. "What did she do to Zoisite?"

Her voice is still rough in her throat from the blow he dealt her. She's leaned over him, face right in front of his, eyes blazing with urgency. "What did she do to Kunzite?" she demands, heedless of whether Kunzite's paying either of them any attention at all. "What did she do to Jadeite, again and again until he couldn't take it any more? It has to stop--"

Kunzite's hand closes on the wooden quarter-circle.

(--fascinated, fingertips grazing along the lines of the carving, the angular shape of it at the same time foreign and familiar. "Did you know?" she asks, looking up to meet his eyes. "Where I come from, the eagle is a sacred beast... the bearer of the thunderbolts. Perhaps your Thunderbirds know the trick of flying through space, and found their way to Jupiter."

A smile curves her lips as a warm feeling grows in her chest. It's an oddly heartening thought, comfortable and comforting. "You see? Our worlds aren't so very far apart after all.")
Rei Hino 2016-02-19 01:00:02 29739
    Mars was already on the floor when the flood of memories rushes back to her. Memories of a previous life simultaneously wake her up and keep her pinned down. She sits up, hand on her forehead. Usagi's arm is around her. Yay warmth. There's something stoney she's laying on. Oh right. She's fighting isn't she?

    Mars gets back on her feet too quickly, because one simply doesn't lie around while fighting, but at the same time she stumbles on her footing and has to catch herself because she's still hurting.

    If Moon is here next to her, and Jupiter is still over there with Nephrite, then who touched the-- Oh no.

    Mars looks behind her, at the one person in this fight she hasn't accounted for yet, and sees Kunzite holding onto the key. "No!"
Usagi Tsukino 2016-02-19 01:06:01 29740
It's the familiar blur of memories, an involuntary daydream. Her only consolation is that everyone fighting is having the same flash.

When it passes, the others are already recovering. She stands up to support Mars, and catches her before she could lunge forward.

"No, it's okay." She really hope it will be! Her voice is low. "They need this victory. We'll get it back."

Her grip loosens, easy to pull away from if Mars chooses to.
Nephrite 2016-02-19 01:16:42 29741
The rush of returned memories may be growing familiar to Nephrite now, but there is nothing pleasant or welcome about it. Not when it feels like pieces of his mind trying to punch their way out of the rest. He coils into himself as the sickening lurch takes him over again.

(Lightning dances over her fingertips, playful and controlled and shimmering. When she is not looking at him, when he is not trying to pretend to be less serious and yet wiser than he is, all he can do is watch in awe. He never knew things like her existed outside of myth.)

He blindly scrambles beneath Jupiter. Frantic, terrified, fingers digging into soil, legs kicking out. He has no more taunts left in him, not even words to form a full sentence. The only fight left in him is for self-preservation.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-02-19 01:35:36 29743
Kunzite hasn't risen. He's still down on one knee, leaned protectively over the key segment. But his attention isn't on it, strays to Moon and Mars only for an instant ... and that instant is when Moon tells Mars that the Shitennou need this. Not when Mars voices protest.

His expression is wrong. Not cold, not blank, not filled with contempt. Oh, he's trying his best to make it look that way. But it's not working; there's something too haunted around his eyes, something too solid in the set of his shoulders.

He looks back to Nephrite and Jupiter, focused on what's happening there as if it were more important than the Crystal itself.
Makoto Kino 2016-02-19 01:47:26 29747
Even Jupiter's strength can't keep Nephrite pinned down, not against this mad struggle. Shaken by the wave of memory, her grip breaks and she's thrown off of him, tumbling across the glittering sandstone and coming to rest sprawled awkwardly on her side.

"Nnnh--" Bracing her hands underneath her, Sailor Jupiter levers herself up shakily and looks up, panting. Takes in the sight of the others - Sailor Moon holding Mars back. Kunzite, looking at her with those haunted eyes. Nephrite.

"There's still a way to save you," she says as her eyes find Nephrite's again. "All of you." It's her last, most desperate gamble and it stands to lose them so much more than it gains, but force will not work here and she has no other card to play. The air shivers around her; the green and white and pink of her sailor fuku dissolve into the looser tan and white of a distinctive sailor-style uniform that belongs to no local school.

The girl is the same, sprawling half propped-up on her hands; the same tumble of cinnamon-colored hair, the pink rose earrings, pleading green eyes in the same tear-streaked face. It's been her all along.

"It's not too late." Makoto's voice shakes with intensity, imploring. "Nephrite, please."
Rei Hino 2016-02-19 01:50:58 29748
    "What do you mean it's okay?" Mars turns her head to the side, trying to look at Usagi without turning away from Kunzite. "How in a million years is this okay?" Yet, despite her questioning, she doesn't fight it. If Sailor Moon really thinks they should have it, then shouldn't she trust that?

    She didn't get any indication of what happened to Zoisite, or any knowledge of why they should suddenly give up this very important thing, but she feels Moon's grip on her loosening, and she has to do something.

    She breaks free, running towards Kunzite after Jupiter de-henshins, trying to use it as a distraction. She doesn't go for the key. Instead, she swings a punch at Kunzite's face.
Usagi Tsukino 2016-02-19 01:57:26 29750
Sailor Moon doesn't answer Mars because she just stares at Jupiter. Er, Makoto.

She gives no resistance as Mars pulls away.

She tries to send reassuring vibes or whatever those thingies are, but really, she's having a hard enough time doing much more than opening and closing her mouth.

She's not sure who to go to! Makoto, or Mars! On the one hand, Jupiter's not...Jupiter at the moment. On the other, Kunzite's...not Kunzite.

Decision made, she flashes Nephrite a warning look if he even sees it, and dashes after Mars. What happened to Mercury will not happen again, thank you very much.

Her tiara's in her hand. She's not quite sure what to do with it yet.
Nephrite 2016-02-19 02:13:47 29753
"Mako-chan." Not her. Why did it have to be her?

Nephrite stares at Jupiter. At Makoto. Both his enemy and the girl who watched the stars with him, who gave him chocolates, who made him feel... different. From how anything in the Dark Kingdom felt.

Did he really think he could keep that? When nothing else he cares about is safe?

He backs away, the roar of frustration in his voice suspiciously close to a sob. "Of /course/ it's too late! It's always been too late!" He is moving. Away from her and towards Kunzite. He has lost Makoto, but he can't lose Kunzite too.

He's at Kunzite's back, hand over his shoulder, pointed at Moon and Mars. "We are /going,/" he snarls. "We're done here!"
Kazuo Takeba 2016-02-19 02:56:49 29762
Mars comes after Kunzite, and it's not as if he can't see her. Not as if he doesn't have time to cast out at her a bolt as much force as energy, to send her flying back, or a black dome over her to keep her from getting far, or one over himself to foil her plans and her Fire Soul alike.

He lets her run. Blocks with a forearm, deflecting the force of her blow, leaving her momentum carrying her into him in a tangle. But something about him is steadier than it has a right to be, that seeming solidity translating into balance; he doesn't fall. A moment later, he's using the arm trapped between them to push her off, back toward Sailor Moon.

And then he reaches up, straightening as he does, and clasps Nephrite's hand in his own - with the quarter-circle of the key between them. And between Nephrite and the two Senshi.

"No," he says. His voice isn't what it was even a few seconds ago. There's inflection in it again. Conviction. A calm that's something other than a void.

"Not too late. Endymion prepared a place for us long before he found us, Nephrite. It's still waiting. So is he. What Beryl made of us isn't what we were reborn for.

"Come home."
Makoto Kino 2016-02-19 03:14:05 29769
Raw desperation flashes across Makoto's face as everything falls apart, Nephrite withdrawing, Mars and Sailor Moon both going at Kunzite. She's not hurt worse than bruises but somehow she can't make her body move the way she wants it to, can only reach out uselessly across the impossible distance between them. "No, don't--!"

Kunzite speaks. Makoto forgets how to breathe.

Slowly, shaking, she gets her legs underneath her and picks herself up. She has no words, can't find a single one - there's just her eyes, brilliant with desperate hope. There's just that outstretched hand hanging in the air, half supplication and half welcome if only it can be taken.

Rei Hino 2016-02-19 03:23:56 29771
    Sailor Mars isn't even sure of what to make of what's going on. Moon's at her side with a tiara. Nephrite is giving up on love. Kunzite is... suddenly on their side again? Or on Endymion's side, anyways? What... what's going on here? The confusion is more than enough for her to allow Kunzite to push her backwards on her already-unsteady legs.

    She shoots a glance at is part questioning, part pouting, and part Rei-mad. It's the kind of look that one would wear while making a demand, but whatever it is she wants she can't really speak it. Not right now. Going by the situation, probably what she wants most of all is an actual explanation. She just isn't sure if getting one now is a good idea or not.

    "It's not too late," she repeats what others have said. "It's not too late, and you don't belong with that psychotic woman. You don't owe her any loyalty at all. Especially not after what she did to you, and your prince."

    If they care about their prince the same way the senshi care about their princess, then that has to anger them. On some level.
Usagi Tsukino 2016-02-19 03:42:13 29782
She's proud when she keeps that undistilled hate burning in her gut off her face at the reminder Mars gave. She smothers it as much as she can, because there's someone out there who doesn't need to see her face (or be nearby...) to know what she's feeling.

Instead, she's clutching Mars, having kept her from falling when she was shoved back.

She focuses instead on Kunzite's change in demeanor, tilts her head to the side. She wonders (quite loudly in her mind) if its genuine or a trick.

Her eyes dart to Nephrite. "You could stay. This place is yours."

Of course, that probably wouldn't end well. Or it would end beautifully.
Nephrite 2016-02-19 04:04:02 29791
Could anything else have penetrated the haze of desperation that Nephrite is lost in? Anything other than Kunzite's voice, solid and calming as it once was?

The way he clings to Kunzite's hand would be crushing if it belonged to anyone else. The key between them presses into both their palms. Go with Endymion? Of all the possibilities he has never considered, it sounds... 'home' is certainly a word that seems appropriate.

He wants to trust Kunzite. Even though he entered this place not trusting him at all. He wants to believe that there is something better than this.

He glances back at Makoto. "...Okay."
Makoto Kino 2016-02-19 04:26:40 29799
'Okay.' Just that one word, but it feels like a lightning strike - the bolt of divine illumination, the sudden and violent restoration of equilibrium. Makoto's whole face lights up with it, breath catching as the feeling of pressure lifts from her heart and lets her begin to smile, hesitant and heartfelt.

She wants to say - something, but her voice still won't work around the tightness in her throat.

Her vision blurs as her eyes start to fill with fresh tears and suddenly she's moving, bolting across the starstruck stone to once more throw herself bodily at Nephrite - not in attack this time but to fling her arms around him in a fierce hug.

Mako has probably had better ideas than abruptly and without warning hugging a Dark General who literally a few seconds before was vehemently rejecting any possibility that they could not be mortal enemies. On the other hand, she's definitely had some worse ones.
Mamoru Chiba 2016-02-19 04:50:05 29808
With Nephrite's acquiescence, the threatening storm overhead faded somewhat embarrassingly away, pulling back and letting the sun shine forth again. The thunderbird ruffles its feathers, shaking off the scattered droplets that'd landed in the interim. It stops eyeing anyone, really, and fades from view; the wind from its wings kicks up the leaves again anyway, as it departs, invisible.

That's when there's a presence noticeable behind the girls, in the direction of the entrance to Jadeite's palace. Especially noticeable to Usagi, obviously. Visible to Nephrite and Kunzite, known to them anyway.

Endymion steps out into the sun, looking -- in some ways -- more whole than either of the Shitennou has seen him in this life. Alive, awake, aware, blue-eyed and all the lights on, and wearing the colors he wore when they swore to him aeons ago. They're his colors. Endymion's colors.

There's the smallest smile-- and that's Mamoru's.

A half second later and it's surpassed in an instant by the biggest grin. "You guys. Welcome back. Mars-chan, are you okay?" he asks, jogging up to them, hesitating at the last second, stopped right about level with Usagi-- who gets his hand resting on her lower back. "Kunzite, can we get Zoisite? Can I call him? Will he stay if I do? If you don't bring that thing back with you it's going to be a high speed trainwreck."
Kazuo Takeba 2016-02-19 05:03:16 29812
There are many places in the world that it is not wise to be. One is between Jupiter and her target -- even when she's not Jupiter at the time. Kunzite steps clear without pulling his hand from Nephrite's. That's a contact that will be broken on the seer's terms, not on his.

That may, granted, be while Kunzite's taking that step. Jupiter can be... convincing.

His attention focuses on Endymion at once, once the prince makes himself known. Something darkens in his eyes at the questions. "I don't know," he says. "I tried to reach him, but -- Jadeite. We may have lost both of them."

The grim tone in which Kunzite speaks Jadeite's name says plainly enough that he's the only one here who isn't in on the man's survival.

He turns his head, then, to speak to the other two girls. "Mars. I don't know if what I used on you had side effects. I do know that it came from someone who thought I looked like an interesting research specimen. Be careful."
Rei Hino 2016-02-19 05:09:39 29815
    "Don't worry about me," says Mars to Endymion, despite the fact that she's only standing because Usagi is holding onto her. "I'll be fine." Will be. Future tense. She's not really standing up straight right now. She'd be staggering without Moon's support.

    She looks at Endymion, then Nephrite and Kunzite. "Is this it? Are you finally ditching that godawful Queen? I mean. Fine by me."

    It's sudden, but if it's a surprise to Mars, then hopefully it's a surprise to Beryl. She's been given enough context clues to at least be relatively sure that this is what's going on.

    Either that, or it's an elaborate ruse to get the Sailor Senshi to lower their guard... but while she's sure that Kunzite or Nephrite might do that, she's also pretty sure that Mamoru wouldn't be a part of such a deal. She feels Usagi clutching her, supporting her, and she turns towards her with a brave smile. "I guess it's your show now, Sailor Moon!"

    Mars hears Kunzite's words, and turns towards him. "Research specimen? What kind of person were you fighting?" She shakes her head. "I'll have Mercury look me over later. Thanks for the warning."
Usagi Tsukino 2016-02-19 05:16:58 29818
Sailor Moon's eyes blink at Makoto's running pounce against Nephrite. She is very much not one to judge. (Actually, she is! A score of eight-point-four. Good execution, nice dismount, perhaps a bit lacking in the landing, but then again, not every Hug Tackle Team has perfected that last move. By next year's Huglympics, they'll have a good chance at silver.)

Is it just her or does the world literally brighten whenever Mamoru walks into a magical dimension? Heehee.

Well, her face lights up, then there's a small furrow between her brows until she feels his hand rest on her back. Sailor Moon relaxes and leans back, just so, still holding onto Mars.

She tenses again at Kunzite's warning to Rei, and her hands tighten on her a little.

Her show? Well!

Before that, though, she looks at Nephrite, her eyes wide. First time she tried against someone's will, well, Zoisite. Second time it took almost ten people to beat Endymion within an inch of his life for it to work.

"It's up to you." She shrugs. "It works easier if you're a volunteer."
Nephrite 2016-02-19 05:36:52 29826
Nephrite doesn't move to catch Makoto's hug willingly. He's still hesitant. Still confused and terrified and half-certain that the other shoe will drop any moment now. But--he wants to believe this is really happening. That there really is another option besides fighting for a queen who is as likely to hurt him as his enemies. So he does not pull away, either. She keeps him tethered to the ground, the way that Kunzite does, pushing away the panic that still threatens to rise in his chest.

And then, just like that, Endymion is there. Not the broken doll that had been drifting through the halls of the Dark Kingdom. Not even just the student Nephrite had once threatened. He is a complete picture now, a fuller being--

And seeing him, at last, Nephrite's memories click properly into place. That person who always hovered on the edges of his visions, whose face he could never quite place. Overhead, the sun shifts suddenly, dips down to the horizon. A red-gold sunset glows through the forest, while stars rapidly appear in the royal blue sky overhead. Straight above them, the constellation Leo takes form. And in its center, the heart of the lion, Regulus, shines like a beacon.

For the first time, Nephrite laughs. "I thought it meant power. But that's not why that star kept appearing for me, is it? Regulus literally means 'prince.'"

He turns to Kunzite, releases his hand to lay it on his shoulder instead. "Jadeite is alive. Zoisite and I thought he was captured, but..." he looks to Endymion. "He's more like you now, isn't he?"
Makoto Kino 2016-02-19 06:10:25 29839
There's a good bit being said that Makoto honestly kind of isn't processing right now, under the circumstances. Some of it she'll just have to catch up on later. But she does soon enough disentangle herself from Nephrite and step back a little, reaching up to scrub the side of her hand hastily over her smudged face and start composing herself. Her other hand stays on his arm, a point of anchoring contact as much to reassure herself as him.

It's the first time Mako's seeing Mamoru like this herself - it'd be a little overwhelming, except for that familiar smile. The rapid change that comes across the sky has her tipping her head back to look; recognizing the name of one of the stars that Nephrite pointed out to her before, Mako smiles.

"Jadeite came to us," she explains earnestly, attention returning to Nephrite. "He couldn't stand what Beryl was doing any more, so he asked for Sailor Moon's help. She freed him from everything that Beryl did to him, that's all." A quick glance sweeps from Sailor Moon and Mars to Endymion to Kunzite. "She can do the same for you, if you let her. But what about Zoisite? What do we need to do? We're not leaving anyone behind for her to mess with any more."
Mamoru Chiba 2016-02-19 06:21:40 29844
There's the little smile again, this time the variation that's only ever for Usagi, and his hand slips around her waist to hug her close to him for a second. Then he lets go, giving Mars a nod. "I can also see what I can do for it, if you want. Mercury's likely the better option."

His attention goes to Kunzite, and his expression goes a little strange. While he hesitates on whether or not it's safe to tell the eldest Shitennou (which by the way kills him) Nephrite laughs, and Endymion looks up at the sky to see what's so funny -- then looks infinitely wry. "Well-- when you didn't get pi r squared over four..."

Yes, he remembers.

Then Nephrite spills the beans, and the prince laughs too. "RIP," he says with a wide-armed shrug. "I didn't know if it was safe to say so. It might not be, depending on whether she gets you again when you step outside," he adds matter-of-factly to Kunzite, "but if she does, she'll make you forget again." He takes a breath, pushing himself past it. "Zoisite's alive, too, Neph's been looking after him." He glances to Makoto, nodding again. "And I can call him here, I was just-- he's afraid."

There's a moment where it looks like the young prince is going to stick his hands in his pockets, but he remembers at the last second that he doesn't have real ones in his henshin and lets his arms drop to his sides again. "Jadeite's finally himself, yeah. He's putting himself back together. He really is okay, or will be. But listen," he says, stepping forward, putting a hand on Kunzite's shoulder briefly -- contact -- before moving to hold his hand out to Nephrite. "Zoisite wasn't lying about what it felt like. What Sailor Moon does is strip the dark energy from you, and it's buried deep. If you take off your glove and hang on to me, I can probably make it hurt less."

Mamoru gives Kunzite a sidelong look. "Honestly, if Jadeite had actually just died, do you think I'd've been congratulating Zoi on a job well done on our way back there? It was an illusion, Kunzite. And Zoisite knew it. He was saving Jadeite the only way he could."
Kazuo Takeba 2016-02-19 06:36:50 29850
What kind of person was he fighting? "One who ran away. He called himself Riventon." Kunzite's not going off on a tangent right now, but the identification might be useful if there are any unfortunate side effects. Most of his attention is on the rest of the conversation. On Endymion; on Nephrite --

Nephrite, who's surprising him again. Admittedly, that kind of surprise on Kunzite looks like a single blink. He lets out a breath a moment later, inclining his head to Nephrite, tracking over to Makoto and then Endymion as the various stories change hands in the telling. "Jadeite broke the conditioning again a little after I did," he says. "He couldn't have stayed and kept his mind. So he came across early. Zoisite ... and I are going to have a talk about his improvisations, later." He can already project how that talk is going to go. It worked; warning would have been nice; the look that conveys Zoisite's opinion of Kunzite's ability to fake that reaction.

"In the mean time. Yes. I won't remember this conversation, and if they had some way of accessing my memories without me, you'd already know. This --" Kunzite gestures more or less toward his head with his free hand. "This is still temporary. I'll lose it soon once I leave here; it won't last that much longer while I stay. What Moon does won't work on me. Mercury was working on a solution, but she's lost weeks." He takes a couple of steps away from Nephrite and Endymion anyhow. Given the energies he's carrying, he doesn't want to risk being caught in the fringes of the effect. Not here. It wouldn't be good if they got loose here.

... and then, once again, Jupiter -- Makoto -- has a delayed reaction on him. There's the smallest of frowns. But whatever she's caught his attention with, it'll wait a few minutes. They have a few minutes, at least.
Nephrite 2016-02-19 06:57:37 29858
Nephrite watches as Kunzite pulls away with a sharp pang of sadness. "You really can't come too?"

This isn't right. Leaving the other two behind. The whole point of this was to all be together. But what happened if he went back now, full of these memories and knowing what he knows? He could never hide it, not the way Zoisite and Kunzite can. And maybe, if he's with Endymion, if he's with Jupiter, he can help. Help them in a way he never could under Beryl.

He removes his glove, and takes Endymion's hand. "Then let's do this."
Usagi Tsukino 2016-02-19 07:03:58 29863
Even though she knows it won't work on Kunzite, the reminder is still sad. (And this isn't the mean bully who almost killed Mercury, this is the guy she threw a coffee cup at!)

She doesn't have to go Princess on anyone today, even if the urge to do so tingles along her spine because Endymion.

The wand comes out and she points it straight at Nephrite. Fortunately, this time, her 'patient' has a snuggly cuddly healing generator of Mamo-chan-ness to hold his hand through it.

"I'm sorry it really hurts."

That's all the warning she gives.

Rei Hino 2016-02-19 07:05:23 29865
    Mars nods at Endymion. "Well... I wouldn't mind if you did! ... but with a warning like that I'd still want to double check with Mercury." After all, better safe than sorry, right?

    Then Mars stands back as Moon works her magic. Does this mean Jupiter's plan worked after all? Mars guesses so!
Makoto Kino 2016-02-19 07:10:35 29867
Makoto doesn't move away from Nephrite when the wand comes out. She's not Mamoru; there's nothing she can do to help him through what she knows from Jadeite will be an excruciating experience. Nothing but stand as moral support. Still she stays where she is, her hand lingering on his arm, lifting her other arm to shield her eyes from the brilliant coruscating light of the Escalation when it blows her hair and her skirt wildly in the rush of its purifying energy.

When it's over she looks immediately to Nephrite, there to support him if he needs it. There's a question in her eyes, a hint of anxiety--

But what she says is, simply and quietly, "Welcome back."
Kazuo Takeba 2016-02-19 07:12:36 29868
"Soon," Kunzite answers Nephrite's half-rhetorical question. Straightforward, matter-of-fact, certain. Not today, not tomorrow; soon. Everything's going to come down, soon. And he trusts that the Senshi will keep them standing, afterward.

But for now, when Moon raises her wand, even at a distance he still turns away and takes shelter.
Mamoru Chiba 2016-02-19 07:22:49 29870
It doesn't hurt Mamoru, the escalation. Not the attack itself. The feedback he'll get from Nephrite, he can work past; he's had practice. The important thing is that as the brilliant silver-white rays stream forth from the Crescent Moon Wand and start to hit the brunet, Mamoru instantly starts healing him, taking the pain away-- not all of it, it's soul-deep-- and being another anchor for Nephrite to hang on to. With Makoto on one side and himself on the other, odds are pretty good that Neph will be able to hold on.

It's more than just the sense of Endymion that the contact brings, skin to skin, it's more than the sense of home; this is an active thing, the stability of mountains and the expansiveness and changeability of oceans, the depths of forests and the brilliance of the summer sky, all focused on shouldering as much of the burden as Mamoru can. This is warm sunny gold mixing with the stark purity of the silver moon; this is Endymion painstakingly and swiftly working to restore what the dark energy has eaten away.

It hurts, but-- people who love him are there, sharing it, lessening it as they can.
Nephrite 2016-02-19 07:28:17 29873
The light rushes through him. It feels like he's being burned from the inside out. Like his insides are being stripped bare, layer by layer peeled away. Nephrite's head rears back and his back arches in agony, but he bites back on the scream. Endymion's hand is pushing a different kind of light through him--golden and healing and warm.

When it is all finished, Makoto's stilling hand and Endymion's healing one are the only things stopping him from teetering over entirely. He feels shaky and hollowed out and /different/ but... somehow his thoughts have never felt clearer.
Usagi Tsukino 2016-02-19 07:28:55 29874
Sailor Moon shifts a bit during the aftermath, putting the wand away.

"Sorry." It's a quiet thing, but it needs to be said because even if she's helping, she doesn't like people...hurting. Especially from her.

So, she sidles over and kind of leans against Mars.