892/The Meloncholy of Setsuna Meiou Episode 892: Camping at the Gates of Time

From Radiant Heart MUSH

The Meloncholy of Setsuna Meiou Episode 892: Camping at the Gates of Time
Date of Scene: 17 December 2023
Location: The Gates of Time
Synopsis: Following on from Soryuu Shrine: Silver Crystal, Sailor Pluto takes the newly identified Prince and Princess to safety at the Gates of Time. Brought along are Sailor Uranus as her guard and Kunzite as his. Naru manages to hitch a ride because she's NARU. Very tentative plans are made, tents are set up, futons are placed...and a gift to Mamoru and Kunzite of Sir Terrence Pratchett to keep them occupied.
Cast of Characters: Setsuna Meiou, Haruka Tenoh, Usagi Tsukino, Naru Osaka, Mamoru Chiba, Kazuo Saitou

Setsuna Meiou has posed:
Once everyone has been sorted out for the trip to the Gates, Sailor Pluto turns to look around at those near her, "Alright...everyone coming with, gather close and ideally hold hands. I'm told the transition can be a bit disconcerting to the unready."

Once everyone seems prepared, she strikes the ground with the Garnet Rod and releases another minor pulse of power...but this time feels ever so slightly different.

This time, the energy from the pulse lingers for just a few seconds on those going to the Gates of Time...like a mark. Then, in a clear and carrying voice, Sailor Pluto calls out, "By my power as the Guardian of Time, I cast open the path to the Gates. Let the power of my Father, Chronos protect us and grant unto us the path of light!"

Once that is said, there is a flare of white light that obscures the vision of everyone present...and then it quickly dissapates and those that were going with Pluto to the Gates are gone.

===At The Gates of Time===

As the light fades for the travellers, they might experience a moment of confusion...as their vision goes from bright white to just...unrelieved white. An endless, featureless expanse of white with no beginning, no end, and no features to distinguish where the 'land' ends and the 'sky' begins.

Well, until one turns a bit to look around, that is.

When one turns to face the opposite direction from where everyone had been facing when the transport happened, one can see the fabled Gates of Time.

And they certainly DO deserve those capital letters. Easily at least fifty feet tall and at least half that wide, the posts are decorated with a pair of columns in a style that those from the modern era would call 'Corinthian', while the lintel is topped by a pair of giant scrolls coming up on each side to a central plinth with a sculpted representation of the Silver Crystal.

After a momentary look, however, it becomes apparent that the Gates have seen better days. There are many places on the front and sides of the posts beneath and beside the columns where it's obvious that there HAD been a concealed panel...but said panels are easily picked out because of some obvious soot outlining the panels...as if there had been a fire or blast from inside some time ago and the panels were later closed again.

As she turns to look at the Gates, Pluto pauses, then shakes her head and sighs before continuing on to start walking a bit past them, her high-heeled boots clacking on the surface beneath everyone as if one were walking on concrete.

As one continues to turn, off to one side of the Gates a short distance away is an assemblage of various chairs, tables, shelves, racks, containers, and possibly even a bed...all, as one bright mind once put it, 'arrayed theoretically as if it were decorating a room, but without the intrinsic room-ness'.

Pluto absently waves her hand, "Feel free to look about in my place over there, but try not to make a mess if you can avoid it. My library has some books and other reading material in it, but I don't think I left anything there written in any language more modern than Latin."

Haruka Tenoh has posed:
    Sailor Uranus looks around, sliding her hands down her sides as though there are pockets for them to sink into, but Sailor Fuku Shorts do not come with pockets. "Is this where they put you?" she asks. She kind of knows it is, but... processing their level of isolation here, in this lifetime, it's both shocking and reminds her of an isolation of her own long ago... a Lonely Place. Without people. Without even each other. She involuntarily shudders, and brings a gloved hand up to rub her own opposite arm. "So... the Princess stands before us, with her Prince." she begins.

    "I know that means a lot of really important things, but it'd be nice to know... which specific things?" Sailor Uranus asks. "What do we do now?"

Usagi Tsukino has posed:
It takes a little time to sort everything - Endymion and Kunzite are being evacuated to the gates, and there is no world where Serenity - Usagi - Serenity will allow him out of her sight just yet, but there are too many of them to all flee for the Gates at once. Serenity has a moment, too fleeting, with her guardians, before she is gathered with the others. Usagi grabs Naru and Mamoru's hands, the silver crystal glowing faintly between her hand and Naru's, and together they are transported.

It isn't as disorienting the second time around. That's the small relief the moment offers. When she opens her eyes again to that stark, unrelenting white, she's more ready able to find the Gates, and then the room that isn't beyond them.

She squeezes Endymion's hand as she looks at the smattering of belongings, and winces at the first question Uranus asks, and frowns at the second. A part of her wants to never, ever, ever, make another plan again - it was her bright idea that had lead to Mamoru bleeding before her, Endymion dying (but not dead, thank the gods not dead) in her arms again.

"It means that... Endymion and Kunzite must hide, at least for a time. That woman... she will stop at nothing to find him."

Naru Osaka has posed:
Today's been a lot.

Naru didn't even die, and today's been a lot.

Naru holds Usagi's hand tightly, cause like hell she's letting her bestie.. who's a princess.. but still her bestie.. out of her sight right now. And Mamoru. Whoever he is currently. And well.. Naru is along for the ride.

Naru blinks at the white and then turns to see the Gates. She's quiet still, letting others ask the questions as she just comes along and listens. At least for the moment. She's still got the borrowed sword, and borrowed Device and borrowed candies.

Mamoru Chiba has posed:
"Hopefully I'll find something I can read, but it's okay if I don't," murmurs Endymion with a little laugh, now definitely working on getting his bearings instead of just working on remaining upright. Little bit of blood loss makes for a little bit of lightheaded. "You're really-- you're so kind, Pluto-san, thank you again and again."

No bearings yet. He's decidedly looking at the room layout, not the Nothing or the Gates.

He glances to Uranus, then to Serenity -- even as he half-leans on Kunzite -- and closes his eyes for a second, working on dropping this new transformation. "I think life also goes on," he says, and then he's Mamoru Chiba in his school uniform, needing a haircut, glasses smudged. "There are still things to do. There are things we need to find, and as soon as I unscramble my brains, I'll give you all the information on that. And the faster the other guys can be sat on and purified, the better... I want to come with you, though. When you do that. Maybe borrow Naru's sword."

Kazuo Saitou has posed:
There are some things that more than one set of guardians have in common, and this is one: Kunzite is perfectly patient in keeping his prince from falling over on either the ground to one side, or Serenity's very, very white dress on the other. And a moment later, Kazuo Saitou is perfectly patient in keeping Mamoru Chiba from falling over. At least their uniforms still match.

He probably wants to say quite a number of things. He doesn't actually voice any of them. It's enough that he's allowed to be here, in this strange place. To keep Mamoru from having to be alone the way Pluto did.

Setsuna Meiou has posed:
Sailor Pluto nods to Uranus, "It is, indeed." A glance is given over her shoulder at the following couple, "...and indeed she does." A beat, "...THEY do."

She smiles a bit, then continues for Uranus, "...many things will probably have to be worked out...but at the VERY least? An ally gained for us and an asset lost for the enemy."

She then sighs, "For the moment, however, I think we're all going to need at least a couple of hours to process before next level plans can be made. Which is why I brought them here, where I am quite certain that no Dark forces can retaliate against them."

She nods as the Princess weighs in, agreeing with her, "Keeping them out of her sight gives us some breathing room."

Then Endymion weighs in and she snorts, then smiles. She'd half-guessed because of she discussions she had earlier with the young man that he would likely want to rescue his friends. A nod is given towards the Prince, "...and there's the next stage plans in a very very early phase. Steal some of the Enemy's biggest assets."

The discussion between the group during the walk has carried them more or less 'behind' the gates and also a short distance away from them...where there is a small stack of various boxes, "I went with the best case scenario when I was putting in for supplies, but since things kind of happened ahead of schedule, I hadn't had a chance to set things up, but that shouldn't be TOO hard."

Once one approaches, it's obvious that there are at least five boxes that each claim to contain a modestly large one piece folding tent. Basically the kind you just unpack and twist back into the shape needed with a self contained floor and everything.

Another set of five boxes indicate that they each contain a futon matress and bedding. All of it's the high end stuff, too.

Finally, there's another, smaller stack of ten boxes which are somewhat less clear on what they contain at first glance.

Well, depending on how good one's English is.

Each of them is clearly printed with 'MEAL, READY-TO-EAT, INDIVIDUAL' 'DO NOT ROUGH HANDLE WHEN FROZEN'

For some reason, on top of each of the two stacks of five cases is what appears to be a cleaned rock, that is more or less flat on the bottom with the words 'A ROCK OR SOMETHING' written on them in neat English script.

Finally, just beyond that can be seen several cases of bottled water and a few empty large trash cans.

Haruka Tenoh has posed:
    Uranus nods. "Well, I'm certainly happy to deny that creature who calls itself a queen an asset, at the very least." She says, folding her arms. "By assets to you mean the ones that tried to stab me, crush me in gravity, and generally made a mess of my fabulous uniform? I don't know how I feel about that." Sailor Uranus admits.

    "Still, it feels like things are at least a little bit better than they were when all of that started. Not exactly a hundred percent according to the plan you shared with me... but a good outcome." she notes. Then she turns to Serenity. "Sorry about the whole... rabid guard dog thing back there. It's just the last time you were like that, and I was like this... things were not going super well." she says, understating it a lot. "It's really hard to trust... anybody around you, when you're like that. Something I'll have to work on." she admits. "Sorry it made things... weird. I'll get me sorted eventually. There's... a lot going on." Understatement.

Usagi Tsukino has posed:
Naru is clutching her hand tightly, and Serenity has never been more grateful - because she is not entirely herself. She is more than she was, her faintly shining skin feeling altogether too full, her hair trailing along the floor with its length, pale silver-white hair shining against the white of her dress, the gold of its detailing. Endymion becomes Mamoru Chiba, and Serenity tries to become Usagi - and fails.

There is too much power, in her heart, in the shining crystal resting between her hand and Naru's. Even with the wave of magic that flowed out across Tokyo, there is still too much for Serenity to recede.

She's the princess. She's the princess. The one she's been searching for, all this time, and the answer was - her.

There's something in that, irony and destiny, but all Serenity can think of it as is exasperating.

"They would be the assets," she confirms, wincing at Uranus' displeasure, at Pluto's tactical phrasing of it. "Jadeite, Nephrite, and Zoisite. They are Endymion's other guardians, and they are - not themselves. Of course you'll be part of the effort to retrieve them," she tells Endymion - Mamoru - eyes wide and sincere. "They are yours, not hers. Only you... and a boatload of purification magic... can help them see that."

Or maybe they know - they didn't try to snatch him away, to snatch her crystal away, even though that was surely what that creature would want.

The preparations of the Gates of Time are enough for a few days, surely... but she still frowns to think of her love in a tent, fleeing from Beryl, even for just a short while.

And then she blinks, turning baffled eyes on Uranus. "You were being yourself. Or - your other self? I... even knowing that we could trust everyone, it was a relief, to see you at guard, Uranus. Things did not go to plan at all, even if we won, and I knew - you and the others would never let anyone close enough to hurt us."

Naru Osaka has posed:
There's just a little nudge from Naru to Usagi, a gentle bump from shoulder to shoulder as she grins. "I told you we just needed to be patient and fate would take care of things."

Okay sure, so Fate and copious amounts of angst and desperation and heartstopping panic.

"They aren't hers. No matter what she thinks, and they don't want to /be/ hers." Naru comments with a nod..

Mamoru Chiba has posed:
"They've got a literal demon that wears them like edgar suits whenever they start trying to act on their own," Mamoru tells Uranus bluntly, adding to Serenity's explanation. "I'm sorry. I'm the one who led them to it, and I'm the one who was ostensibly in charge of them, so that's my responsibility." A beat. "Your uniform is fabulous, though." Another beat. "I need to sit down."

He squeezes Serenity's hand, then definitely enlists Kazuo's aid in sitting down without falling down, and he doesn't quite put his head between his knees like someone trying not to faint, but it's clearly on the menu. Like the MREs. "You really went all out on the camping equipment..." he says, a little inanely, then refocuses on Serenity. "Thank you," he says and it's a breath, it's a breath of air in a vacuum, all of a sudden, that relief. "They all know they should be mine. It's just the kind of complicated that only a miracle's worth of direct purification can simplify." He nods to Naru. "They hate her as much as I do."

Then the prince asks in a slightly unreal-sounding voice, "Did I really die?"

Kazuo Saitou has posed:
Kazuo winds up on one knee beside Mamoru, and just settles into sitting from there as well, so that if there is sudden lack of consciousness he can help catch Mamoru before he hits his head on ... the ... white. Whatever the white is. He looks up and away, quickly, across to Serenity and Naru. There is also white there, but it's less distressing to look at. Mostly because everyone involved is still breathing this time.

Despite the prince's question. Which he doesn't answer, because he doesn't know.

Setsuna Meiou has posed:
Pluto reaches out and puts a hand on Uranus' shoulder...then pulls her a little closer in a quick sidearm hug. Lending a little silent support when her friend is still unsure of her footing.

She gets a look of mild concern as Mamoru needs to sit...but then realizes that the poor boy has probably been running on adrenaline and willpower these last few minutes.

Her long legs take her in some hurried steps over to the cases of water...where she frees a bottle and carries it back to the young man, "Here you go. I think you could probably use this."

Then Sailor Pluto takes a momen to think back over the fight, trying to recall if she saw which attacks Uranus was talking about, and Sailor Pluto binks at a bit of memory before turning to look over at Naru, "...Naru-chan...was I imagining things, or was there a point there towards the end when one of the generals was wounded but doing everything he could to protect you?"

She shakes her head...and while waiting for the younger woman to respond, turns to the various boxes, "Does anyone have a knife or something sharp? We should probably get these set up, because I imagine the Prince over there probably isn't far from suffering an extreme case of exhaustive consciousnness failure."

Naru Osaka has posed:
"Nephrite came over to protect me, yes." Naru confirms, her smile gentle as she does. "Bleeding everywhere too." She is trying not to think about the fact that he was bleeding /green/. That's the least of the weirdness at this point.

Okay, perhaps not the least of the weirdness.

"I think only for a moment, Mamoru." Naru erms softly. As if that somehow makes it better, but it DOES explain why he might be feeling a little fuzzy around the edges. "If it's anything like losing your soul, it takes a little while to get your bearings back."

Naru erms softly to Pluto. "I have a sword, it's rather overkill for slicing open boxes, but it'll work."

Usagi Tsukino has posed:
"I should listen to you more often," Serenity - Usagi - Serenity says softly, looking down at Naru. She squeezes Endymion's hand once more and then sinks down beside him rather than release him, never mind how awkward it is to hold Naru and Mamoru both like this. She cannot let go. Her hands are red and the Silver Crystal is warm between her hand and Naru's and it feels as though Naru is all that keeps her grounded to the other part of herself in this moment, with everything else tugging at the past, at the present.

And then Endymion asks if he truly died and there is steel and iron and love and determination that had clawed forth a miracle from deep within herself when she breathes, "No."

A moment of pause, a breath, and she says it again, stronger this time, "No, you didn't. Not even for a moment."

It took a miracle. It was a miracle. But she can feel the power still lurking in her spirit, no longer churning and sparking. There is nothing here to set to rights. There is exhaustion, but nothing to heal, and so the power waits. "We had a miracle - but... if we work together, I think we can have another. They don't want to be with her. If they won't resist my power and your call..."

Haruka Tenoh has posed:
    Uranus shrugs. "Well, we got a second chance to do this whole fight the crazy witch thing again. That's a miracle. You got your guy back. That's another miracle. At this point I don't know why we wouldn't keep trying." Uranus says, with a smile, and leans into Pluto's hug a bit.

    "If it keeps happening do we keep calling it a miracle though?" she asks, tilting her head. "Nephrite protected you, huh? That's impressive considering one of the other shadowy-folks stabbed him in the back." Uranus pauses. "Actually, anybody know what was up with that? One moment we're clashing swords and my adrenaline's screaming, and the next moment dude is getting literally backstabbed and poofs away."

Mamoru Chiba has posed:
Mamoru takes the water bottle gratefully, and starts to put it between his knees to hold it to untwist, then remembers!! He can foist off bottle-opening duty to Kazuo, and he does, while still not letting go of Serenity either and also leaning a little on Kazuo. "Thank you," he tells Pluto again, a little sheepish. And then he starts to nod to Naru when Serenity very firmly sets them both to rights.

See him face! That's a boyfriend thoroughly in love, not only with Usagi's brightness and sunny optimism and good cheer and wailing and math homework and fits of pique and honest anger, but her strength and determination and honestly this-- he has so many questions. He has so many questions! But they can wait.

"They'll come with us," he agrees, relaxing a little.

Then he grins at Uranus. "That! Is something I can tell you for sure. That was La Crima, she's an energy vampire who's also like... a dusk zone xenobiologist or whatever. Botanist. Zoologist. She was mad that the Midnight Tokyo Project was basically drilling for oil in her arctic."

Kazuo Saitou has posed:
Bottle is opened duly and returned to Mamoru. Hopefully he can lift it all on his own. "I have a knife, if you want less overkill," Kazuo offers. Because even in his school uniform, of course he does. It is a more minor miracle (probably the one sitting next to him trying not to faint) that he has not wound up in the nurse's office this year. Serenity is on the ground; he starts to try to ease Mamoru's lean onto her, so that he can get up and lend Pluto a hand. If Mamoru protests this, he will give up promptly and settle for extracting the folded knife from a hidden pocket and offering it upward, to Naru or to Pluto or to whoever else wants to do the hand-lending instead.

"Nephrite's been fighting the thing in his head harder than any of the others," he adds. "I think he managed to get almost-loose often enough to be able to measure when he annoyed the thing enough into taking over."

Setsuna Meiou has posed:
After a moment, Sailor Pluto blinks, then slaps her palm to her forehead, "...hangon..."

Then She raises her right hand and twirls her fingers...and a pen flickers into existance there. She frowns and narrows her eyes, "...bert's towing service..." A small shake of her head and another twirl...and that pen is replaced with...a standard Sharpie. Frown. Twirl. A highlighter. Twirl. A marker. Twirl. A CRAYON. Blush. Twirl. A long stick that looks like nothing more than a wand. It's about 11 inches long and a good eye will mark it has being made of holly.

Sailor Pluto blinks, "...huh. I was wondering where I'd put that." She shakes her head, then twirls her fingers once more...and the wand is replaced with a slightly ornate but apparently quite functional letter opener, "THERE we go!"

She turns and starts cutting open boxes, "...seriously, one of these days I need to sort out my pocket."

Naru's smile is noted...and of those present, perhaps only Uranus will know well enough to tell that gears are turning behind the little grin the Pluto gets.

It's not terribly long to cut open the boxes...and after a few minutes and a few minutes figuring out the trick...two of the tents are popped open and deposited down, "Uranus, can you grab a futon for one and I'll get the other? That way the boys will have somewhere to sleep."

Naru Osaka has posed:
"Neph and Jadeite had more moments of clarity when they could actually have conversations, without extra assistance. At least for a little while." Naru nods in agreement with Kunzite.

There's a plethora of cutting implements and Naru lets go of Usagi's hand to be able to help with tent set up and bed acquisiton and general amounts of usefulness.

Haruka Tenoh has posed:
    Sailor Uranus nods, helping Pluto with the futon and anything else where she can be useful, instead of sitting around and just wondering about all of the things that are currently going on. She knows Pluto is planning sometyhing and she also knows Pluto well enough to not get in the way or get caught up in it. But she does speak again.

    "Well, at least that's good. Between the other -ite guys trying to get free and the fact that ther plan has upset even other people in the big evil company, at least the shrine plan is probably bupkus, right?"

Usagi Tsukino has posed:
Serenity absolutely does not go to help with anything. Serenity stays with Mamoru, smiling at the growing chaos of the work everyone has going on, and when Naru gets up to help, closes her hand around the Silver Crystal. She might need to get a pendant for it - she's pretty sure it won't be going back inside her any time soon.

"It's a miracle as long as it's something we couldn't do before, I think," she says, frowning in contemplation - looking more like Usagi like that, rather than the semi-goddess vibe. "But... oh no! I forgot to call Wako-chan, and I really don't think we get reception here!"


Mamoru Chiba has posed:
Mamoru gets put where directed, leaning against Serenity. He does protest when Kazuo moves to actually get up, though, and therefore still has both his Princess and his Knight. He drinks some of the water. "Yeah, the project is DOA. I knew you could do it. I'm going to tell Inai-sensei I knew you guys would kibosh it."

He watches the tents go up, feeling vaguely like he should help or let Kazuo help, but being selfish instead. "I think," he says, "it may be sleep time for me."

Setsuna Meiou has posed:
Sailor Pluto nods as the tents go up and bedding gets put in them, "Alright. That should have the two of you sorted until at least tomorrow."

She then blinks and clicks her fingers, "OH! I did have one other thing for you, since when you wake up you might need something to keep yourselves occupied."

With that, she turns about and walks off at a fast trot towards the assemblage of stuff she has off to the side.

And for some reason, she walks a fair bit further than she has to in order to enter the general area...at which point one can see her walking an odd and somewhat convoluted path through all the chairs and furniture before getting to an area with racks and several boxes.

Pluto can be seen to look across them for a few moments before she smiles, grabs two modestly sized boxes and returns along that same convoluted path before turning to trot back towards the people near the tents.

Before both Kunzite and Mamoru, she deposits a pair of identical boxes...or half-boxes. This close, they're obviously boxed sets of books...and the art on the back of each box is a starfield with prominently placed in the center a large sea turtle with four elephants on it's back...and balanced on their backs is a giant disclike world.

Each of them appears to have been signed by the author, 'Terry Pratchett'.

She waves, "These should keep you entertained. They're light, fun reads...which I think you both probably could use about now."

Kazuo Saitou has posed:
"The fact that you're awake enough to recognize that is amazing," Kazuo tells Mamoru, and gives Serenity a rueful smile. "I forgot to tell her I'd be out of sight for a little while, too. I hope she doesn't worry too much." A tilt of his head to Uranus, and he adds, "She was taking care of at least one of the other seals while all of that was going on. Even if someone tries to pick it up, there's no time for them to reestablish everything. And Nephrite -" He glances at Naru, helping with the tents. "Nephrite won't be telling them what they'd need to do."

He regards the boxes with puzzled interest. Perhaps Mamoru's sleepiness is rubbing off. That's a lot of elephants. And a lot of turtle. "Thank you," he says up to Pluto, serious. About the books, and more than the books. And then prepares to try to - when Serenity permits - herd his prince to bed.