Sweet Dreams

Chapter 30: We Must Analyze our Faults

© 2006 by Pyrite aka Jessi Duffour

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"Thank you for coming, Tori."

I stared back to that impassive doll before me, lifting my brows slightly. She didn't have a shell around her. The Youma had an iron fortress with no doors. No way in. No way out. And empty all around as those lovely dark eyes stared flatly through me.

"How did you manage to do that, Pyrite-sama?"

A thin brow I lofted as I peer to the Youma quizzically. I've done enough (intentionally and not) that sometimes it was difficult to keep track. Following my body language, she explains evenly.

"I saw her smile."

"Oh...I see. Well...I talked to her. I didn't hypnotize her or put her under a spell if you're thinking that..."

"I do not expect those to be in your abilities."

I winced slightly. Too true.

"...I spoke to her as an equal. Well, she actually got a laugh when I slipped and dropped my head on my desk..."

I reached up with a rueful wince to my still throbbing cheek. I know it must have been a hell of a bruise. Noticing those dark eyes watching me...I stayed my hand then dropped it.

"I was thinking it was most unlike her to strike anyone...much less a General." Her words were distant...thoughtful. Then much to my surprise, she did something unexpected. Rising to stand, she reached across the desk to touch her hand to my cheek. Her hand was dainty and not warm, but not cold either. More of a soothing cool. An eerie tingle seeped from her touch as she continued to stare to me almost blankly. The aching pain in my cheek began to vanish. Reaching up to her hand, I couldn't help but blink. Then I slid my eyes askance to the mirror in the corner...and lo and behold...no bruise!

"Tori...that was amazing!!! Lord Kunzite said you had no powers of attack...but I see...you have healing magic. That's wonderful!" I do believe my enthusiasm caught her by surprise. She hesitated then nodded. On a brazen whim, I clasped her hands in both of mine as I met those empty eyes with my most energetic smile. I can see that I was beginning to slip a wedge, if thin, in her placid guarded demeanor. Perhaps time will allow that iron citadel to crack open.

"I need you Tori...we all do! A force that can be rejuvenated and revived...will be unstoppable."

"Kunzaito-sama never believed it a viable asset. Healing isn't mandatory in a full assault."

"Awww... screw his thoughts. Full assaults are great if your opponent's doing the same. But, we're not dealing with that, here, are we?"

The delicate youma remained silent for a moment, then shook her ebon tresses after I released her hands.

"I'm more concerned on having us SURVIVE first. Dead people can't come back victorious, can they? And the wounded are too easily picked off. You have a special gift. And your duty will be to make sure we are all working at our fittest and best. Will you accept this responsibility?"

"With great Honor, Pyrite-sama."

She glided up to stand before me...sinking to bow low. There was a subtle...something. A definite change. And when she arose...though she had that placid doll-like blankness to her face, there was a hint of determination in those dark eyes.

I've given her a challenge.

She accepted it.

* * *

I stared with an unwavering gaze backed by indomitable will and stubborn determination at the wolflike Youma sitting across the polished desk from myself. From the moment she arrived and sat, she had begun this staredown in a challenge for dominance.

As a wild wolf would an opponent it sought to dominate.

We continued this for an uncomfortably long time...our eyes locked in a silent battle of stubborn will and grim persistence until finally she hunkered her shoulders in a defeated reluctant slump as she averted her eyes.

After a lingering drawn sip of the wineglass filled with water beside me, I leaned back into the sanctuary comfort of the chair...feeling muscles tight and aching from that long held tensed position.

"Now that that is over, shall we get down to business?"

Awaiting patiently, but grimly, I eased somewhat as she finally nodded in her assent, though I could tell by her lupin features...she was none too pleased.

"Ookami...I was hoping we might be beginning with an amicable start...but I can see that you have your reservations. Understandable. However...your other team mates as well as myself will be needing to rely on your strength and your skills to succeed. I don't expect you to agree with me all the time...but your cooperation will be necessary. I'm going to ask you this now."

But a brief moment did I pause as I made certain I had her attention, meeting her amber eyes with a firm gaze.

"Can I put my faith in you?"

Growling low, the furred demon verily bristles with menace as her furred ears draw back. Finally, she spat out bitter words.

"Yes, Lord Pyrite."

Exhaling a soft low breath, I leaned back into the chair...plucking through my thoughts as I considered her vicious defensive reactions. Finally sitting back in the chair, I laced my fingers as I stared thoughtfully to the visage glaring to me from across the table.

"Ookami...something is on your mind...you may as well speak it. Unlike Kunzite...I'm interested in what my soldiers have to say."

Glowering darkly at me for a moment longer, she then relents and rises to stand, placing her clawed deadly hands on the desk and leaning forward to snarl sneered words with a shrewd bite to them.

"Fine. I'm sick of being treated as a dog...a beast. And it disgusts me even more that I'm forced to serve Lord Kunzite's new bitch who's just a WEAK green kid."

Staring to the huffing Youma on my desk, I remained silent for a long moment, then I relinquished a faint sigh to curb my annoyance.

"You are making three grossly erroneous assumptions, Ookami. First...don't presume that I will treat you as others do. My Youma are all equally, and greatly important to me...especially as individuals. Second...As I said before, there is NOTHING going on between Lord Kunzite and myself. And Thirdly...you shouldn't let appearances deceive you. In hand to hand, I can give Lord Kunzite a run for his money...and I assure you...he does NOT go easy by favoritism. He is just as ruthless a fighter to me as he is to others."

Warily she sat with a sullen disbelief in her eyes before grousing grudgingly.

"Oh, I know he favors you, we all can see it. Especially since you resemble...Him."

Exhaling a soft sigh, I breathed a faint smirk of a grin.

"Then, I'm certain you can see that I'm not Lord Zoisite. Coincidences happen."

"You will never be half of what he was."

"Ookami...I am not trying to replace or be him. I am just Pyrite. Nothing more. Nothing less. And...if you want to be treated more as a person rather than an animal, I am more than willing to comply with that. I would prefer it, in fact. However, I suggest you try acting more like a person. Maybe even spruce up your attire a bit. Wear something comfortable. The way you act and appear more often than not dictate how others treat you. I guarantee you'll enjoy it more."

Despite the healthy dose of skepticism leveled my way, I could tell I piqued her interest with my words even though she clung stubbornly to her distrust.

"Funny, none of the other Generals ever said that before."

"I'm NOT like the other Generals. Which is why I have faith we'll be victorious."


I let a smile touch my lips as I inclined my head into a nod.

"Yes. You...Herculae, Kurai, Tori, myself. We. If we set aside the petty crap and bickering and focus on what we can give to the group as a whole...we will be not only successful, but the best damn squad in the Dark Kingdom."

Ookami quirked perked ears as she listened, canting her head aside slightly as she met my bold unwavering gaze.

"You're crazy, Lord Pyrite."

Grinning, I rose to my feet and held out my hand to her in a comradely offer to shake.

"Ah, but the craziest plans are often successful and least expected. Here's to success."

Drawing her feral lupin lips into a toothy grin, she reached up to take my hand in a firm powerful grip...claws digging into my wrist and the tender flesh near it.

"I can't wait to see your precious half baked plan fall about you."

Pushing back a wince at the sting...I firmly grasped her hand instead in a shake. A wickedly mischievous smirk as I shook her deadly mitt.

"Touche. We'll see what happens, then."

Releasing my hand after a last squeeze, she withdraws back a step. Luckily, I believe I managed to gain her cooperation for the time being...only if it IS because she wants to see everything flop. This is where I prove her wrong.

"That will be all for today. We will begin bright and early tomorrow."

The wolven lass snorted a breath as she stalked to the door with a sarcastic remark.

"Oh, I can't wait."

* * *

"You disgust me."

"That's nice."

"I cannot believe Lord Kunzite puts so much faith in a weaseling little Sakura like you."

"It amazes me as well."

"Who do you think you are to come waltzing in out of nowhere and just jump to a command position."

"Me, myself and I."

"Are you mocking me on purpose?!"

"Are you instigating me into a fight on purpose? If you are, then by all means, feel free to swing the first punch."

And that was how it began.

What precisely?

An all out brawl in my quarters with a shadow mastering ninja Youma. Kurai was a tricky and swift opponent, however, her pride and ego led her to severe underestimation of my abilities. Before she knew it, I had her pinned down atop my desk with the chill sharp edge of my blade at her throat.

Though I despised direct confrontation...I had to firmly establish the hierarchy in the beginning with the prideful willful Youma.

I admit, I goaded her into throwing the first punch, but it was, without doubt, necessary to prove to Kurai that not only was I capable of defending myself, but that I wasn't a pushover either.

It was a demand for respect through violence, I admit...a tactic of Kunzite's...and one he favors greatly.

However, I was going to do something different. I was going to encourage her to participate...to be a part of the team. Because if she believed she was stronger than myself, she would refuse to cooperate ...and likely stage a rebellion. If I could prove to her that though I was technically stronger and more powerful than she, I still needed her and requested her assistance rather than forced it...then perhaps I might be able to meet her at least halfway on that battlefield between us.

Huffing a low breath and blowing wayward bangs out of my eyes, I glared down to the Youma at the mercy of my blade.

"Now we've gotten the territorial pissing matches over with, shall we get down to business, Kurai?"

Emphasizing the seriousness a moment longer, I withdrew and banished the crystalline blade with an idle flick of my wrist as I sat once more in my seat, hands clasped on the desktop.

"Please....have a seat." I gesture to the chair on the other side of the desk as if nothing had happened, and reluctantly she sat.

"You aren't like Him." Ah yes...the statement of the evening. Shaking my head with a shrug, I indulged in a wry chuckle.

"Everyone tells me that. Ironically, after I tell them the same thing."

"I MEANT Lord Kunzite." Oh...well, now that was certainly different. After a moment of a sheepish look, I met the sullen gaze of the Youma.

"He has His was of dealing with things...and I have mine. He likes to control...I prefer to influence. Which brings me to my next topic, Kurai. I am not looking to be your enemy, your Master, or your best friend. What I AM seeking is to meet on a middle ground and work together with all of you. Perhaps you resent my appearance, my station, or my personality. I do not know. And frankly...there is nothing I can do about those things. But...I DO want to work together with all of you to put every legion out there to shame."

Though visibly skeptical, she seemed to finally be considering my words.

"Yeah yeah....teamwork...bah. You just want us to make you look good."

I cant my head aside slightly with a deep consideration of her statement. Yes...she had quite a bit of doubt. I'm certain she must have been betrayed at some point in time...hurt badly. Well, now it was time to make a small gamble.

"I'll make you a deal, then. If at the end if this any one of you does not make it to an outstanding level...if I abuse your trust or betray any of you or fail you, you may find a new home for that knife at your side in my heart. And if you, in return fail to give me your best, I'll kill you."

This of course caused her to sit back and stare at me in disbelief. In essence, I gave her full permission to kill me if I mess up....but I was gambling that this might earn her interest, if not her cooperation.

"You're serious about this.....you're CRAZY."

"No...I'm making a promise I'm willing to risk everything to keep."

"Since when did a General give a damn about their Youma."

I grinned mischievously.

"Since me."

* * *

When Kurai left my quarters, it was in mass of confusion over my crazy wager.

It honestly was crazy.

*You've just signed your death wish, you realize.* Ah yes...my secret friend. Closing my eyes, I eased back into the chair in the dismal room, relaxing and pondering over these recent occurrences.

"I haven't heard from you in a while." A faint snort resounded through my thoughts.

*I wanted to save my energy for worthwhile comments.*

"Despite what it looks like, I know what I'm doing."

*So do I, and that's what scares me.*

"Yar yar."

*They are Youma...you shouldn't associate with them, just command them.*

"No one likes to be commanded...not even you, I'm guessing."

There was a pregnant pause.

*You question far too many things. That sort of behavior leads to unpleasant results, I assure you.*

"Whatever." I breathed a soft grunt as I pushed out of the chair...passing before the mirror with my thoughts heavy and tumulus, Unbuttoning my coat, I began to tug it off...then blinked in surprise...staring at my own reflection in a sudden unexpected shock. It looked...a little different. It was difficult to say. That image looked like me...and yet, not me. A little bolder, maybe features a little sharper. IS this what I could be when I grew older? Was my time in this place really changing me so?

Letting the unbuttoned coat hang casually off my shoulders...I reached out to lightly touch the surface, the mirrored hand doing likewise. Just as my fingers touched the surface of the mirror tiny waterlike ripples spread from the contact.

And much to my surprise my reflection smirked in a most provocatively sinister manner, evoking a gasped sound of startlement.

*Well now....surprise surprise.*

What the HELL?!

A startled cry of alarm squeaked from my throat as fingers wrapped about my hand touching that lucid surface...wrapping about my wrist in an unbreakable grip. I was caught in a moment of absolute shock and surprise as I was suddenly yanked into that fluid mirror's surface...forced past a barrier of blood curdling cold that bit straight to the soul.

The End of Chapter 30 - Goto Chapter 31

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Disclaimer: Sailormoon is the property of Takeuchi Naoko, Kodansha and Toei Animation. All characters, settings etc. are used without permission. This is an amateur fiction, and I definitely won't make any money of it.

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© by Pyrite aka Jessi Duffour - Email: duffour@gmail.com

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