Choices - Epilogue

© 1999 by E. Liddell

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"...and so it looks like everything is going to be okay," Sumire completed, "except for maybe the Silver Crystal. It's too early to tell about that yet."

I reached out and ruffled her hair. "That's great."

I hadn't realized how much I missed my little sister until she'd walked into my hospital room. Or maybe that was just because the hospital was such a boring place. My sister. Sailor Saturn. Well, if anyone deserved it, she did.

"What are you going to do once they discharge you?" she asked.

I didn't answer her directly.

"Watch," I said, and cupped my hand palm upward. It took almost no effort to make a little ball of light flower there. Sumire gasped, then smiled. I smiled back.

"They told me all along that I had magic," I explained. "I just never believed it. Or maybe hosting that demon shook something loose inside of me. Anyway, there are three different universities fighting to get me to work with their departments of Magical Studies. I haven't decided which one to accept yet. The one offering me the most money...well, the administrator seems to find me a bit disturbing. It's not easy being green."

Sumire laughed. Well, I was still green, or at least, greenish, even though my skin had reverted to its proper human texture. I was always a bit surprised to run a hand over my face and not feel the slick leatheriness of youma hide. My claws were gone, too, and my teeth were only a little bit more pointed than normal. My tail was mostly gone, although I still had an inch-long stump. Oddly enough, I was at peace with all that. Somehow, after the demon, what my body looked like didn't seem so important, so long as it was fully functional and under my control.

"I thought you might want this back," she added, pulling something on a leather thong out from under her shirt.

"My good luck charm!" I'd thought that it was lost forever. Its value was purely sentimental, though. I'd bought it at an amusement park when I was about seven years old. No chance that it would have any real magic clinging to it, even though it certainly seemed to have brought my sister luck. "Thanks, Sis!" I propped myself up on my elbow so that I could give her a quick peck on the cheek.

The communicator on Sumire's wrist beeped.

"Gotta go," she said. "Take care of yourself, and drop by to see me when they let you out tomorrow." I promised that I would.

Things were definitely looking up.


<<So, what are you doing out here in the hall?>>

Cass shrugged. <<I thought that Sumire and Taro deserved to have their reunion in private. What are you doing in the Palace at all? I thought everyone was on their way back home.>>

<<I didn't get a chance to congratulate you earlier,>> I stated, although that wasn't quite the entire truth.

<<To check up on me, you mean,>> she corrected. <<Alex, sometimes I swear that you're worse than both my parents put together.>>

<<Well, there has to be someone responsible in our age group whose job is to rain on everyone else's parade.>> I sighed. Lies by implication, lies by omission... I'd been living in the Negaverse for so long that misleading other people was beginning to seem almost natural.

<<Yeah, but Marc's just as bad as you are, which means that there's one too many of you...>>

I studied her profile for a moment as she grinned. Then something inspired me to state, <<You know what you want now, don't you? To do with your life, I mean.>>

<<I guess I do. Oh, I'll be a Scout for a few decades, probably, until I find some nice human girl to succeed me, but the home.>>

To you maybe. I'm still trying to figure out whether it's *my* home or not. But I wasn't about to tell her that. No.

I did shake my head, though, as Cass's communicator went off and Sumire left the infirmary, shooting past us.

Home isn't a place, I reminded myself. It's people. Jay and the others. Avi. Cass. That was what kept me heart-whole, living in a darkness where I knew I didn't really belong.


<<Rutile? Vermarine?>>

There was no response, not even the mocking laughter that Malachite had reported when he'd handed the Crystal over to me. Complete silence.

There was definitely something wrong with the Crystal, though. The spectral response was skewed, for one thing, and the test impulses I'd been sending it never quite produced the proper feedback. And I knew the Silver Crystal, inside and out. It wasn't just my creation -- for over a thousand years, it had been my home. I just didn't understand what could be producing this sort of effect. It was almost as though the Crystal wanted to be troublesome. And that just didn't make sense. It wasn't really self-aware. Or not unless one of the personalities inside it had awoken, which was the theory I'd been testing. Two of the people inside had been my friends. But it was the other one that worried me, the nameless Dark Moon Crystal Weaver who had taken my place. I'd thought, when I'd taken over his body and trapped him inside the Crystal, that he was too badly damaged to ever return to anything like sentience, but I'm not a mind-Healer. I could have been wrong.

I smoothed the paper lying in front of me on the desk. Malachite would accept whatever I told him (albeit with greater or lesser amounts of suspicion), but Neo-Queen Serenity would want her report in writing. I doubted that I would be permitted to keep the Crystal for the several months that would probably be necessary to figure out exactly what was wrong and how to fix it, so I would tell them what I could.

Every time I thought about someone actually using the Crystal, something like a wall of blackness appeared inside my mind. The first time that had happened, I'd almost lost my last meal. There was evil here, deliberately acting to block my precognition, but I was absolutely certain that if Serenity ever tried to use the Silver Crystal again, it would result in a terrible tragedy.

I was going to put that in my report. I just hoped that it was going to be enough.

I had the sinking feeling that it wouldn't.

The End

(Well, for now, kinda-sorta-maybe-almost.)

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