|...Insert 'Clever Magical Pretty Girl Joke' Here...|
That was the last bit of contact, telepathic, visual, or otherwise, that anyone had until the location had been found. When it was, the scene was exactly as it had last been seen. Devils and demons were paused in mid-stride, some even in mid-leap. Icicles stretched out behind them, as if they were hit by a blast of freezing magic, but the icicles faded away into the air some distance back, and there was no ice of any kind holding those in the air up. Likewise, not an inch of the arena the fight took place in was frozen, only the participants. Were it not for the strange half-faded ice, it would have looked more like someone hit pause on a video player and forgot to hit play again. Of course, the blue-haired girl and her apparent captor, the warlord who calls himself 'Khas', were nowhere to be found by then. In a single move, though, Khas had used the girl to eliminate all of his competition. He was obviously no fool.
Weeks have passed since then, almost a full month, without any further information trickling in, short of Khas' insistence that the Hell Council will be de-throned. Makoto has not received any other hint of where Ami could be, substantial or otherwise... ... It seems unlikely that she suspects tonight will be any different. But it will be. Tonight, she will have dreams.
Makoto has been living here in his new world for about a month now and despite Usagi's friendship, Makoto has been very depressed. Ami's loss has hurt her badly and whenever alone now she's become quite despondent and apathetic. Usagi and Hild haven't turned up anything and the only place for her to go is to this resteraunt outside the palace that Ami would likely not approve of. She allmost ordered an actual drink to see if ithelped depression, but caught herself in time. Eventually titing of the sport programs they displayed there and wandered home, flopping into her too-big-for-just-her-sized bed
It isn't till Makoto drifts off to sleep that she'll notice anything, but when she does, it's almost like she's not dreaming at all. Everything is blurry at first, but her vision should focus onto a scene of the very same blue-haired girl from the images, who appears to be wearing that darker, draconic version of the sailor mercury outfit that the experiment with Metallia produced, back on Twisted. Her face remains shadowed from view, but bright blue eyes shine forth from within the shadows, and let's be honest... noone's going to believe that it's not Ami. Particularly not Makoto, of all people. Her hands are shackled together by a strange pair of pulsing black manacles, and tethered to similar constructions on her feet by a pulsing black chain. One doesn't have to see her face to see the weariness in her eyes, both of which seem visible no matter how deep the shadows appear around her face. They're Ami's eyes... but there's something cold in them, something distant. Perhaps it's the weariness, or perhaps it's something more.
Whatever the case, the girl is staring forward, showing no emotion on her face, as devils poke and prod in her general direction, all jeering as though she were a subject of their mockery, but none quite brave enough to actually touch her. At least, none after the first, who is lying off to the side, with most of his upper torso frozen solid, starting at his outstretched arm, which he will have a hard time retracting for a good many days to come, it appears. As the jeering continues, her hands begin to tighten into fists, and the slightest hint of cold fury begins to show in those eyes... a fury that has never shown in Ami's eyes in the years that Makoto has known her. It is at about this time that Makoto should be aware that she seems to be more than viewing, she seems to have a body, her own in fact, standing just at the edge of the crowd, looking in, from dead center.
At first the vision terrifies her, seeing Ami in this situation. Her own hands tighten into fists... she has hands? What about legs? She tries to step foreward, towards her friend. "Ami?" she calls. "I'm here. Tell me what you need me to do!" She has no idea if her voice will work until she tries it. She ignores the crowd around her, Ami is the only thing she really _can_ focus on.
Makoto whispers. "How can I save you?"
At the sound of Makoto's voice, the girl's eyes quiver for a moment, and then look uncertain. Her head suddenly snaps to the right, then the left, before looking towards the center of the crowd, straight ahead of her where Makoto is. Her eyes widen as they make contact with Makoto's, and then she's shouting, tugging on her chains and darting forward towards the crowd, despite the fact that her chains cannot possibly reach far enough. It's hard to hear what she's shouting over the crowd, but it most certainly involves Makoto's name, and there's the sound of despair, as well. Whatever happens next is swallowed by the crowd, as well as her form, and then the vision Makoto is seeing seems to blur, fading to black, before being replaced of an image of the girl in a cell. Her face is still shadowed, and those eyes still shine out from within the darkness, cold, but not so cold as earlier, and not so furious. Her fuku is filled with tiny cuts, and her left cheek is bruised, if only slightly. It's not hard to imagine that this is a later time, shortly after the crowd. She's looking away from Makoto, and doesn't seem to notice her friend. For that matter, Makoto doesn't seem to have a body just yet, this time around. It's taking longer, it seems.
The door to the cell opens, and a man walks in. He is handsome, with flowing long black hair, and his blazing red eyes have vertical slits in them, as if to make sure there is no doubt that he is not human. A black breastplate rests atop regal-looking black clothing, and he wears no shoes. His right hand is wrapped, and the bandages are perpetually stained red, quietly dripping a tiny drop of blood here and there, every so often. He speaks quietly, but there's a great deal of remonstration in his voice, and one gets the impression that he doesn't need to shout for people to feel in danger.
"...What were you doing, charging into the crowd like that, and without defending yourself? You know how important it is that you seem invincible, unassailable, especially now." His face is clearly displeased, and it's such a handsome face, it's almost painful to see it upset. He's naturally charismatic enough to lead an army, that's for sure.
The man shows a small amount of sympathy on his face, but shakes his head. His voice remains quietly disapproving, somehow more frightening in its quiet confidence than any amount of angry bluster that could have been summoned. "... You are the champion of Khas the bloody-handed, Mizuno-san... How do you think it will reflect upon me, if my champion is injured by the rabble of my own army? Fortunately, I was able to silence all those that saw, but..." He trails off, leaving an implication that it might not be so easy next time. It's at around this time that Makoto should feel her body re-emerging, but the blue-haired girl hasn't looked in her direction, yet.
Makoto is the furious one now. How dare this thing imprison her Ami so and yet claim any concern over her well-being?? But even as she thinks this, she realizes that Ami's injuries are because of her. Dreams never feel like dreams when they're happening and this brings a flush of guilt to her thoughts. "I will tear this world apart if I have to..." she whispers to herself. "I will get you back, Ami...." she realizes she can move, and here there's no rampaging horde to threaten either of them. She steps into Ami's line of sight if she can. But with the relative silence in the room she may have been heard already.
The man sighs, and shakes his head, before looking at the girl with another tiny hint of concern on his face. Just seeing it is enough to make him seem sincere, somehow, one of his charming characteristics, most likely. "...I believe we would know if you had found your friend... please be more careful next time." He doesn't seem to notice Makoto at all, just staring at his 'champion'.
It seems, however, that the girl doesn't hear him. As Makoto moves into her field of vision, those brilliant blue eyes widen, and her breath catches in her throat. After a moment, she calls out, her voice full once again of that despair. "Mako-chan?!" For his part, Khas looks to where Makoto is, but seems to stare right through her, before looking a little to the left an da little to the right, and then back at the girl.
"I do not see anyone else here, Mizuno-san. Are you feeling alright?" Those red eyes of his are narrowed, and he adjusts his black breastplate uncomfortably, trying to get a handle on what's going on.
The blue-haired girl doesn't even hear him. "Mako-chan, what're you doing here? You can't be here! You don't belong here! You should be home, far away from all of this!" She sounds like someone has ripped her stomach out, and she's still trying to speak, so thick is the emotion in her words.
Makoto can't restrain herself at that. Effective or not she'll feel better.. a little. She scowls and attempts to draw on her powers to barbeque this blind jerk's head. Noone threatens Ami... But Ami's words draw her attention back. "Home's gone, Ami...." The fury in her heart evaporates for the moment. "You're gone... and I'm going to get you back. No matter what it takes." She steps right up to Ami, between her and this black haired man. "I'm going to tear this place down and bury him in the rubble if I have to."
Ami shakes her head, her eyes widening, and then filling with tears. "No! You weren't home! You were away! You can't be here..." She looks like she's going to break down, and cry, and she steps towards Makoto, intending to rest her head on the girl's shoulder. At least if they're together, they can draw comfort from one another. But Ami's head passes through Makoto's shoulder, and her eyes widen. "... An illusion? ...Too cruel."
"Mizuno-san, noone's here. Have you gone mad?" Makoto should feel her powers just fine, at least in so much as she can in Hell, but somehow, they're not translating into this room like her movements and words are, as evidenced by the man not being hit by one mother of a lightning bolt. Instead, he tilts his head back, and curses in a language so foul, just hearing the curse might make lighter-hearted people faint. "... An illusion..." He snaps his head back to the door, and shouts out in a louder voice that isn't as frightening as his quiet one, but probably more effective at leading. "Someone is trying to contact the girl! Clamp down on the anti-divination and scrying fields, and flood the place with neuralysis! ...And bring me the fool that allowed this to happen!" Obviously, he's not pleased.
"No, wait!" Ami calls out to Khas, but it seems she's not heeded, and she takes a step back, so she can look Makoto in the eyes. "Mako-chan, you have to get back home! You don't belong here, you're so good..." She doesn't seem to be really processing what Makoto's saying, but then... having your closest friend simply appear out of thin air, in Hell, is probably not helpful in maintaining someone's focus. "I didn't get a chance to tell you that I--" Her words are cut off by a loud, painful shriek, and the dream ends abruptly, leaving Makoto to wake suddenly in her room. It's pretty obvious from the state of things that her abilities were used here, in her room, when she tried to fry Khas. It's dead silent, now, though, and the dream is over.. . Makoto sits bolt upright, looking at the ruins of the window looking out of the room, the outside air blowing in. She knows that was no mere dream... It was too.... That didn't come from her imagination. She wouldn't have cut off her own reunion with Ami like that... She's shaking and sweating as she gets to her feet. "I'll get you back Ami.... I promised we'd always be together." ...Heaven help anyone that gets in her way.
Makoto's room is silent after her outburst, but only for a few moments, before a familiar voice speaks, from a corner that the light didn't reach at first, when Makoto awoke. "She's right, you know..." Seated in a chair in a far corner of the room, a blue-haired girl sits in that familiar, darker version of the Sailor Mercury uniform. Like Ami's in the scene from before, her ice blue eyes shine within the darkness, the first things to be noticed. Then she slowly stands, making a disappointed sound. There's a flicker of the light in the room, and she's standing at the foot of Makoto's bed suddenly, as if she'd moved in between the passes of the light. "...You don't belong here, Kino Makoto..."
Makoto is on her feet in an instant. "Why not? What did you do to deserve being caged up??" She starts to step towards the young woman. "What do you mean 'she's right'?" She tilts her head a little, happy to see Ami in any form but more than a little shocked and upset by her dream.
"...You are not dead, and even if you were, you have not done anything that would place you here, in this realm. You are an anomaly, and it is strange to see you here, to say the least." The girl doesn't move as Makoto moves, and regards her cooly, without any of the emotion that the Ami in Makoto's 'dream' held. "...It is as Mizuno Ami says. You are not dead, and yet you are here. Why is that?" It seems more than a little odd, to think of Ami not throwing her arms around Makoto or at least showing some stronger emotional reaction than this...
Makoto's face shifts from concern to anger. "You aren't Ami.. and you have no right to wear that face. And you're obviously no judge of sin if you think Ami belongs here and I don't...." She holds her arms under her chest, the wind from the hole in the wall making her hair flicker over her face a little. "I'm here to find Ami and bring her home....." . The young woman raises an eyebrow at Makoto's words and tone, and glances down at herself, as if noticing how she appears for the first time. "...The form is not mine for the choosing, Kino Makoto, nor is it my place to judge anyone's sins. I know only that were you to die this instant, you would be reborn within the Galaxy Cauldron, and that Mizuno Ami was clearly not. Whatever you may think, these are inescapable facts." She looks back up to meet Makoto's eyes, her blue eyes holding steady. "...And how do you intend to accomplish your goal? Rest assured, Mizuno Ami will be delivered to you soon enough... but what will you do then?"
Makoto blinks at the idea of Ami being returned. "What did she do that was so bad that she was sent here..?" She's still visibly upset but her tone of voice is much more civil now. "Once I'm with Ami again... That's all that matters. I will do anything in my power to stay at her side...." she shakes her head and rubs her temple lightly. "Can I see her? freely? When will she be back?"
There is a slight chill that runs through the air, and the blue-haired woman shakes her head slowly. When she speaks, there is the slightest hint of sorrow in her voice, but it is a distant thing, not hers personally. "Mizuno Ami ended a life in cold blood, and knowingly tainted a star seed with great evil. Perhaps in the world you both come from, her good intentions and later good actions may have been enough to keep her place within the cauldron secure, but here, in the world you two have been residing in, Hell's pull is stronger than in most others. It lays just beneath the surface, waiting." The woman glances down at her hands, seemingly fascinated by the gloves she wears, but in more of an idle fashion than anything that particularly draws her focus. "...As to when you can see her... I suspect she will be 'rescued' from her situation before too much longer. Your patience will not have been for naught." There's something odd about the way the young woman emphasizes 'rescued', but she moves on a bit too quickly to really let it be noticed. "...Hell will not simply relinquish her because she has been returned to you. Do you intend to live out your lives together, here in this place? Is that all the ambition your fiery spirit has been reduced to, Sailor Jupiter?"
Makoto blinks in confusion. "I killed three boys when....." she closes her eyes and takes a deep breath. "I could be happy anywhere as long as I was with Ami. I proved that in Twisted and even if I have to live here to be with her... We're not without friends here either." Each step takes her further and further away from home. "I have no will to die... but I can't stand around and hope for the best. If I have to I will get her out or...." die trying. She leaves the last part unspoken. "Who are you? Are you that black haired guy I saw in my dream? Can you help me?"
"To kill in defense, or in reaction to violence, is a different thing than a willfull act to unnecessarily end a life that is of no threat to you or your loved ones. You may not be pleased with the distinction, but it has been made, nonetheless." The woman moves to the foot of the bed, placing her hand on the bedpost. "...I am afraid you are mistaken. You will not be happy here. The taint of this place is strong, and it will affect her more strongly the longer she is here, and even you, to a lesser extent." She looks off and to the side at the mention of the man in Makoto's dream, and there is a slight shudder and shiver. "I am not he... but I can help you, and I am. I have come here for Mizuno Ami, but finding another of the fold here, besides the guardian of time, was unexpected." ... That's a lot to take in, and implies a lot of things that haven't readily been explained to Makoto... "...Do not die, Kino Makoto, and do not peaceably settle for a simulacrum of happiness. If you care for the young woman whose form I bear, there is only one path to take. Only one path..." Her voice seems to change with those words, or rather, a second version of Ami's voice seems to be overlayed atop of them. This one has emotion, and there's a flash as Makoto sees a shadowy illusion of Ami, kneeling on the ground before her. "... I will take one path. Only one path..." And then the illusion is gone, and the woman in Ami's form is alone with Makoto in the room once more.
Makoto's brows furrows. "Pluto is here, too..." Then her eyes widen at the phantom Ami. She vanishes before Makoto can react though. "One path...? I don't understand." She looks back up to this person with Ami's face. "One of the fold.... The Senshi? We aren't exactly pushovers but.... Who are you? Just tell me what I need to do to get Ami out of there. She looked so.... weary.. alone..." Makoto lowers her head a little. "If this place will change us then I'll find a way to get her out. It's that simple because the alternative is not acceptable."
That draws a very slight smile to the woman's face, though it feels almost mechanical. "...That is the answer I had hoped you would give. You will follow the path then, when you come to it. It will not be difficult. After all, you trust this woman, do you not? I have borne witness to all of the seeds within the Galaxy Cauldron, and only a small handful of them have minds that shine brighter. Trust her, in spite of any evidence that you should not, and things will work themselves in much the way you desire... Save one."
The light flickers in the room, and the woman seems to flicker with it, before seeming further away, somehow. "... ... The workings of Hell are powerful, so much so that I must soon withdraw. Yet, it is curious. Do you really not know who I am, child? I have held you in my womb when you were but a seed, and I always shall. It is for that reason that I am here, to reclaim Sailor Mercury. It is most curious to find not only you, but the Light here as well. Tainted, she is, too, though I have not yet determined the extent of her change. She may yet be approachable..." It seems the woman alternates between giving direct answers, and being cryptic. Why do mysterious benefactors always do that? Hasn't anyone told them it's gone out of style?
Makoto nods "Thank you... Usagi's different, but she doesn't seem evil to me." She bites her lip and wishes she had more information... but she has a lot more now than she did when she woke up this morning. She closes her eyes, taking a deep breath with a new sense of hope. She looks back to the wall and sighs, wondering who she'll have to explain this to. "Is there anything else I need to know?" She looks back to the mystery woman to see if she's still there.
"...Yes...." The woman begins to flicker in appearance, independent of the room's lighting, and her face takes on a bit of emotion, sadness, perhaps. "...When one is reborn from the Galaxy Cauldron, their memories are taken from them, held until such time as they might need them once again, that they might lead a normal life. As Mizuno Ami has not yet returned, she will remember everything..." Those bright blue eyes seem dimmer, somehow, in sorrow or pity, perhaps. "...This is more significant than you may realize." Ami being able to remember things is good, isn't it? So why does the woman make it sound so ... ... ominous? As her words finish drifting through the air, the woman flickers once more, and then is gone.
Makoto sighs and takes it to be a good sign regardless. She turns to grab her jacket and go find someone to repair the damage she caused, her mind jumbled with all this information... one of them being the idea of Ami killing someone in cold blood... That's nuts.