Story: A Meeting of Minds (chapter 2)

Authors: SoftRogue

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Chapter 2

Title: Two

A Meeting of Minds
Chapter 2

a Sailor Moon Fanfic
by SoftRogue
whiteb100@hotmail.com

Disclaimer:
I do not own Sailor Moon or any
other people mentioned.

---Silver Millennium---

I sit in stunned silence at the revelation my Queen just showed me. This young child before me, Pai, had been Awakened as the next Senshi of Mercury at an unprecedented age of four. In my mind, I franticly attempt to decipher the possible impact this event might have upon the Time Stream.

While this is the first time that I've ever had to cope with the Awaking of a new Senshi, I remember well the teachings of my predecessor. I recall the well-known fact of how, with the birth of a new successor to the Throne, new Senshi would come forth for each planet; save for Pluto and Saturn. I also remember the little known fact of how the Star Seeds within the new Senshi would slowly grow in strength until they are ready to take up their mantel and the power it entails.

Normally, the average age a child is discovered to be a Senshi is about 10 years old. I myself was discovered to be the next Senshi of Pluto at age seven, the youngest in history...until now. And it was nearly a year until I was able to even begin to tap into my abilities. However, there also have been a small handful of cases in the past where a Senshi had been violently Awakened to her powers.

It was apparent to me that young Pai was such a case. Most likely, when she was threatened during the attack on her village her powers manifested themselves in a desperate act of self-preservation. However, history has shown that such violent Awakenings can have a far-reaching effect upon the entire Solar System, specifically on the Mana Streams.

The Mana Streams; the primal currents of energy that ebb and flow across the entire universe. The Mana Streams are the basic building blocks of creation...and the source of a Senshi powers. Normally, when a Senshi uses her power, she allows the particular Mana Stream that she is attuned with to pour into her much like a pitcher in a river of water.

However, when a Senshi is violently Awakened the situation is dramatically different. The newly Awaken Senshi reacts instinctively, wrenching at the Mana Stream and bending it to her will. The result is that the course of that particular Mana Stream is affected, causing it to swell in strength without a corresponding increase in the flow of the other Mana Streams. Since Pai is the Senshi of Ice, this means that the best-case scenario is that there will be a slight decrease in the average median temperature across the various planets, planetoids, and moons throughout the solar system.

The worse case, however...

Before I can continue with my bleak musings, I feel a slight pressure on my hand. Startled, I look up into the smiling face of my dear friend.

"There is nothing to worry about, Iria-chan." she says, cradling my hand in one of her own.

"Of course, your Majesty." I reply as convincingly as I can.

"Good!" Serenity said, giving my hand a reassuring squeeze before releasing it. "Now then Iria-chan. About the reason I asked you here..."

---Present Time---

I chuckle softly. To this day, I still don't know how she did it. I remember all the arguments I used to try to persuade her that she was wrong. And for every point I would bring up, she would have a carefully prepared counter. Of course, the worst part was that none of her arguments had any basis in actual fact.

For nearly an hour, Serenity and I...discussed her idea, while Luna and young Pai looked on. To this day I still don't know how she was able convince me to agree with her plan. I vaguely remember observing Luna and seeing a look of absolute shock on her face as I argued and fought with my friend. I doubt that the Mau was able to understand how one of her Majesties Senshi was able to forcefully disagree with her decisions until this day.

I also recall how young Pai stood there, her face downcast, avoiding eye contact with me. It didn't take long until Serenity (almost absently) lifted the small girl up onto her lap. Part of me was amazed how quiet and withdrawn she was acting in our presence. There she was, sitting on the lap of the Queen of the entire Moon Kingdom who was discussing her future with one of the most revered and reclusive of Senshi.

"Yea, right." I snort, remembering how the general populous would react to my presence.

But then I remember the tragedy that had just happened to young Pai. Her entire life destroyed; everything she knew turned upside down. She had gone from being a normal little girl in a small fishing village to seeing everyone she knew killed. From there she was brought to the halls of power and was told that she now has a place here; that her old life was no longer important.

Taking a sip of my tea, I smile ruefully, remembering how surprised I was; a short time later; how, once again, my friend was correct in her knowledge of people.

---Silver Millennium---

Walking out of the Royal Suite, I barely acknowledged the presence of Senshi Venus and Senshi Mars. Luna was padding along on my right, slightly behind me while young Pai trailed us both. I shake my head slightly, unable to believe how Noodle Brain was able to get me into agreeing to her idea.

'Me. A teacher.' I think to myself in bewilderment.

With all of my responsibilities to guarding the Time Stream and protecting the Gates of Time, I now somehow find myself with the added duty of being responsible for the education of the newest Senshi.

In part, I can understand where Serenity is coming from. I myself am familiar with the problem of being thrust into the limelight at a young age. Also, apparently from all reports, young Pai was fairly intelligent so it would make sense for me to help with her intellectual development. While that all might sound logical, it wasn't very practical for me to help in such an endeavor. However, I had agreed, with great reluctance, and I would definitely keep my promise to my only friend.

'Well, might as well figure out what I'm dealing with.'

"When is the coronation ceremony?" I ask Luna with all the authority I could muster.

"I...uh...that is cough, I mean to say..." the young advisor stumbled over her words for a moment, apparently not expecting me to question her. ‚ÄĚLady Pais' coronation as the titular Princess of Mercury is scheduled in two days. Her Majesty has also repeatedly denied the Mercurian Court's request to allow Lady Pai to be raised at Mariner Castle."

I nod absently, already knowing that Serenity wouldn't allow young Pai to become embroiled in Court politics.

"Forgive me, Lady Iria." Luna says hesitantly. "I know that this is presumptuous of me to ask, but there has been talk about why a new Senshi has been Awaken at such a young age. I was wondering..."

I stop in the middle of the hall and give the young advisor the 'look'. It was an expression that Serenity had convinced me long ago to learn and practice until it had become second nature. It said 'I know things far beyond your ken and I have seen things that would drive you insane yet I have remained unchanged'. At the time she insisted that I learned the 'look', I thought that it was a complete waste of time; but now I'm thankful for the time I spent schooling my features. It keeps people from asking me bothersome questions about things I have no way of knowing or am unable to answer.

Seeing Luna flinch at my gaze, I ask with mild reproach, "What does her Majesty say?"

The Mau faltered for a moment before she answered, "Her Royal Majesty said that what occurred was a great tragedy to us all and we all must take care to see that it never happens again."

I resist the urge to kick Luna down the hallway. Young Pai is standing silently next to us as the Mau talks about the tragedy that happened at Griffor's Cove as if it were nothing more than an abstract concept. Especially since I know Serenity well enough to know that what Luna just told me was a crude abbreviation of what must have been a heart wrenching speech.

Turning to dismiss my opinion of the young advisor, I'm about to continue escorting young Pai to her quarters when I'm interrupted.

"Ex-excuse me, Lady Pluto?" I hear young Pai say softly.

"Yes, child?" I ask; keeping my frustration at the situation I've found myself in out of my voice.

"You...you are the Senshi of Time, correct?" she asked, looking at the floor in abashment.

"Yes I am."

"I...I was wondering..." Pai said slowly, before launching into a complicated question about how the relative mass of an object would effect its space/time curvature as it passed through the event horizon of a black hole.

I find myself blinking in surprise as I listen to her asking her question. I'm flabbergasted as I see a visible change come over the young child before me. Where once stood a shy, withdrawn girl who was in a situation that was beyond the scope of her normal worldview I now see some who is self assured and filled with curiosity. Watching her, I'm amazed to see that this girl of four years of age isn't merely reciting words she might have heard before, but she actually understands many of the concepts she's talking about; concepts that very few people could even comprehend. While some of what she asked about was incorrect, many of the theory's surrounding her question were dead on.

Perhaps Noodle Brain knew something after all.

Once she's done asking her question, I kneel before her and look her in the eye. "Pai?" I ask cautiously, placing a comforting hand on her shoulder. "Where did you learn about such things?"

The light fades from her eyes when she says "My...my papa, he...he had some books, and..."

I silence her by pressing a finger to her lips. "I understand." I say softly, then smile at her. "Well then, why don't we go over the Royal Library? I'm sure that I'll be able to answer your question better there."

"Lady Iria!" Luna protested, "There are things that Lady Pai must attend to!"

Standing up, I give the Mau the 'look' again. "I see no reason why such matters can not be taken care of at another time." I say with all the authority of the Senshi of Pluto; certain that were she not covered in black fur I would see Luna turn white at the tone of my voice.

Ignoring the young advisor, I extend a hand to young Pai. "Well, shall we?"

"Hai, Sensei!"

---Present Time---

I smile as I recall how young Pai and I were ensorcelled in a back corner of the Royal Library that day. Bent over several thick technical books as I first answered her initial question, then we went into a detailed discussing about several related theories. I remember (with a grin) rudely dismissing Luna when she again insisted that there were more important things that needed to be taken care of immediately. Also, I remember giving several servants that arrived the 'look' until they departed. It wasn't until the Queen herself arrived that I realized that we had been there almost the entire day. I still remember the smile she gave the two of us when she announced that we had missed the evening meal.

Of course, at the time I had no idea that the prodigy who was now my responsibility was beginning to form the foundations of her own plan.

I shake myself, trying to dislodge my memories of the past; knowing that what once was would never be again.

***********

I stop to lock the car door before I join the rest of my family. With barely a thought, I take Michirus' hand and the three of us walk towards the entrance of the Hikawa Shrine. Arriving at the steps, I watch Hotaru sprint up the stairs. Michiru squeeze my hand and I can't help but to smile. After her last growth spurt, the weakness that had plagued our daughter her entire life still affected her. Now, at age 14, she had finally been able to build up her strength and endurance to the point that she was able to do many of the things that a 'normal' girl her age could do.

Arriving at the top of the steps, I see Hotaru leaning against the Torii. She's out of breath and there was a sheen of sweat on her brow, but the bright smile on her face warms my heart. Together, the three of us walk over to the family quarters of the shrine.

The door opens before us and we're greeted to the overly perky face of Minako as she leans out of the doorway (giving me an excellent view of her cleavage in the process). "Oh, hey! You're here! And on time too! Come on in!"

We step inside, pausing to remove our shoes. I look around the room and I see the rest of the Inners already there...well, except for Usagi. But that comes as no surprise.

Rei turns to face us and I'm treated to a variety of expressions that cross her beautiful face. First is surprise, which is quickly replaced with a friendly smile. That smile is quickly followed with a look of disappointment that then becomes a fierce scowl.

"Arg! Where is she!?" Rei exclaims before storming out of the room.

I feel Michiru squeeze my hand tightly in a subtle warning. This doesn't keep me from laughing on the inside, however. I've always speculated with Michiru about the exact nature of the type of...relationship the Inners have with each other. I've never mentioned my 'pet theories' to anyone else besides her for a very important reason.

None of our couches are very comfortable to sleep on.

Minako gives us an apologetic shrug before going after the fiery priestess to calm her down (he, he). Ami seems engrossed in what looks like a new laptop computer while Makoto is practically hovering behind her.

"Oh, hello Michiru-san, Haruka-san, Hotaru-chan." the brunette greets us warmly.

I give Makoto the once over as I give her a friendly grin and a wave. Next to me, Michiru gives a polite nod while Hotaru smiles brightly.

"So, what's up?" I ask, stepping over Artemis, who's stretched out in a convenient sunbeam.

"Not much." Makoto replies. "Rei's just..."

"I know." I say, which earns me an elbow in the ribs.

"Say, Hotaru-chan? Do you want to help me out in the kitchen?" the brunette asks.

Hotaru turns to us and gives us her 'puppy-dog eyes' and I feel myself turn into goo. For the umpteenth time, I wonder how Setsuna is able to resist that look; because I know neither Michiru nor I can refuse her when she looks at us like that.

My love comes to my rescue once again before I end up making a fool out of myself. "Go right ahead, Hotaru-chan. Just remember to listen to whatever Makoto tells you to do."

Hotaru leads Makoto off to the kitchen, leaving us with Ami, who apparently hasn't even noticed us yet. Michiru drifts over towards the blue haired girl and I follow. I can't help but notice how great she unknowingly pulls off the whole 'sexy bookworm' look, especially after her glasses have slipped down her nose, like now.

"Hello, Ami-chan." Michiru says politely, surprising the other girl.

"Oh, hello Michiru-san." Ami replies, her hand over her chest. "You startled me. I didn't notice you come in."

"So, I see you got a new toy." I say with another grin, "You planning to surf the Internet for any fun pictures?"

That comment almost earns me another elbow to the ribs, but both of our jaws drop when Ami says, "Why, yes I am. In fact, I already have a beautiful JPEG of your anus. Here, let me show you."

A moment later, I'm struggling to contain my laughter as I look at a high-resolution picture of my patron planet, Uranus. I don't even mind the swat to the back of my head that Michiru gives me, since I know full well that she misheard Ami exactly like I did.

"So, what were you working on before we interrupted you, if you don't mind my asking." Michiru asks.

"Oh! It's no problem. I was trying to work out a program code that will enable me to access the Mercury Computer. I've been working on it for several days now, but I think I might finally be on to something. The technology base of the Silver Millennium is quite a bit different and more advanced that what we have available today, but I believe that I've finally narrowed down the proper sequencing. Right now it's just a matter of writing the code correctly."

"Why do you want to do that?" I ask, perplexed. "I mean, like you just said what we use to have back then was light years ahead of today. So why bother?"

"Well, you see. There are a lot of files I can't access with the Mercury Computer or with my visor alone. Looking around its subsystems, I've concluded that there were many other devices that I was able to interface with using the Mercury Computer. I've already asked Luna and Artemis about it and they confirmed that with the Mercury Computer I was able to access just about any piece of technology back during the Silver Millennium, such as a Holographic Imager."

"Ah, I see." Michiru responded with a nod. "So you believe that you have a lot of images stored on your Computer that you can't access now, correct."

"Exactly." Ami says with conviction. "Not that they are all that important now, mind you, but imagine all that we'll be able to see and learn about the Silver Millennium." She pauses for a moment and, once again, I find myself almost fascinated at how quickly Ami can change from a self-assured genius to an introverted schoolgirl. "I don't see Hotaru-chan or Setsuna-san here, did they come with you?"

I smile, realizing that she was so engrossed with her computer she probably wouldn't have noticed a bomb going off next to her. "Well, Hotaru-chan dragged Makoto off to the kitchen. As for Setsuna-san, well, she begged off for whatever reason."

"Oh." She says softly, "I...I recently came across an article about the orbital decay of white dwarfs and I really wanted to get her input on it."

For just a moment, I swear I see a flash of longing and regret reflected in Ami's eyes, but it's gone before I can be absolutely sure of what I saw.

About that time, Minako and Rei return to the room, followed shortly by Hotaru and Makoto bearing several trays of food. I relax and munch on one of Makoto's brownies while I listen to the conversation around me. Ami and Michiru begin talking about merits of various computer art programs while Makoto seems to hang off of the blue haired girls every word. Hotaru and Minako begin talking about their different schools while Rei fumed silently.

After a while, I glance at my watch and frown. '10:16. That's strange.' I think to myself. I then hear a commotion outside and, with a wry grin, I set my watch back a minute.

With a loud bang, the door opens reveling an out of breath Usagi. "Hi, everyone! Sorry I'm late!"

"Arg! Why do I even bother planning these things! You'd better have a good reason for being late, Odango Atama!"

"WWWAAAHHH!!! You're so mean to me, Rei!!"

Inside, I laugh.

------
To Be Continued...

Author's Notes...
Well, I hoped you enjoyed the second chapter of this
shoujo-ai fic. I have a lot planned for it, so it might
take a long time to get everything I want written up, so
please beer with me.

Oh, before anyone says anything, I have no idea what I
was talking about when I mentioned the whole 'black hole'
and 'white dwarf' thing. It just sounded good.

Any C&C would be appreciated at whiteb100@hotmail.com

06/03/05

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