Second Chance

Chapter 8

© 2007 by Plantress

This page was last modified: 2007/07/27


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The week of grace that Ikki had granted them past far too slowly for Aiolos peace of mind. Although he knew that time was passing at it's normal rate, to the Sagittarius Saint, it seemed as if they days were twice as long as they usually were. He suspected it was the same for Hyoga and Seiya. The Cygnus Saint had been training almost constantly, nothing heavy but he was always doing some sort of physical activity. Aiolos supposed it was as much to keep his mind off the passing of time, as it was to get ready for the upcoming fight. They didn't saw Seiya everyday, but the Pegasus Saint didn't stay long. H would come to see if Shiryu had returned, then pace for a while before leaving.

"I keep having nightmares about Shiryu being attacked by... something." Aiolos had gotten the Pegasus Saint to confess. Although he had managed to convince the younger Saint it was nothing, the Sagittarius Saint had begun to wonder. Although he doubted that Seiya was actively sensing the Dragon Saints cosmo, he wondered if something was a connection that was enabling to be aware of what was happening with Shiryu. It wasn't unheard of for Saints to have a connection like that, although Aiolos had only ever heard of it being attributed to Gold Saints and the telepathic communication they used.

If things were moving too slowly for the other Bronze Saints, he had the feeling that they were moving far to fast for Shun. Aiolos felt sorry for the young Saint. To have to fight against his own brother... he tired not to think about how that must feel. Aiolos also tired to ignore the part of his mind the kept reminding him that if Aioria had been granted the Leo Cloth, he would be one of the Saints that would be fighting against them. It was a nightmare that the Sagittarius Saint had tired to ignore, and nothing think about until it became a reality.

Despite the various feelings of those involved, the days marched by as the always had, and at least a week was up. Shiryu hadn't returned.

"What's taking him so long?" Seiya said as he paced. The airplane that would carry them for the first leg of their journey was being prepared and they Saints were left at loose ends for a few minuets. "How long does it take to repair a cloth anyway?" Aiolos was beginning to wonder about the Dragon Saints absence as well. And since he had never had cause to bring the Sagittarius Cloth to be repaired he didn't know how long they took and if a week hadn't been enough.

"We'll just have to go without him. Shiryu will catch up if he can. " Hyoga spoke up. Shun hadn't said anything in the last hour or so, and instead seem to be focused inward.

"Maybe you should stay and wait for him, Seiya."

"No way!" The Pegasus Saint glared at he blonde. "Even without my Cloth, I can still fight. Besides.." He grinned cockily. "I can't let you and Shun have all the fun."

Further conversation was stopped when Tatsumi showed up and told them that the plane was ready. All of them stood, and left the room. Everyone, even Saori and Tatsumi were going. All though they would only be making sure the Bronze Saints actually got to the area, Tatsumi hadn't wanted Saori to go. There had been an brief argument about it, one that had ended when Aiolos had asked the older man who Saori would be in danger from if they went with them. Since he couldn't think of a reason, the Bronze Saints would have the pieces of the Gold Cloth, what Ikki was really after, they would all be safe.

Although... Aiolos thought to himself. Even if he gets his hands on those pieces, even they will be useless to him. He was more worried about who else Sanctuary might have sent to help Ikki. Saga wouldn't just send those fake Saints. He would send at least another Bronze Saint to help Ikki. It wasn't like Saga to leave things like this to chance. It was also strange that Ikki hadn't taken the Gold Cloth back to Greece after he had stolen it, stranger still that he had tried to put it on. His only support was the Black Saints and that was strange too. It made a sort of sense but, even with his twisted version of thinking that he used now, he didn't think Saga would come up with something like this. It just wasn't him.

Not that I really know who Saga really is. I haven't for years, and maybe I never did.

* * *

The flight to the mountains and the subsequent helicopter the boarded to take them close enough to the mountain was quite. Everyone as absorbed in their won thoughts, and the only conversation was between Saori and Tatsumi. Aiolos was too preoccupied with trying to piece together the puzzle of Ikki's actions and always coming up short.

It's as if I'm missing a piece. I know something is wrong with my reasoning but I can't seem to figure out what. Aiolos trusted his intuition, at least on things like this. Some of the Saints believed that it was part of the cosmo warning them about something, even if Aiolos didn't know what that something was at the moment.

At last they reached the valley that Ikki had chosen. He heard Tatsumi informing the Bronze Saints about it. Aiolos listened with half an ear, he had heard all this before when Saori had first gotten a hold of this information. The local were convinced the valley was haunted, it was filled with volcanic vents that in some places spewed gases that could kill if you breathed in enough of them. It had develop a reputation for being a place where anyone who entered died. Undoubtedly that was the reason Ikki had chosen it. Trying to intimidated us. I'll give you points for trying Phoenix, but you aren't dealing with your fakes. These are real Saints, they won't be scared off by a few ghost stories.

Seiya abruptly spoke up, asking if which Saori valued more, the lives of the Bronze Saints or the Gold Cloth. Tatsumi started to say that the Gold Cloth was more valuable, but Saori interrupted and said that both were of equal value to her. Aiolos felt a surge of pride in her for saying something like that. From the looks that the Bronze Saints were giving each other, they hadn't excepted that. He hoped they realized that she had changed from the little girl she had been when the had last seen her. Each of them was given one piece of the Gold Cloth, and then they jumped our of the helicopter, the deep snow serving as enough of a cushion for everyone, even the Cloth-less Seiya.

They watched them slide down to a relatively level area, and once it became clear that they were alright, Tatsumi singled the pilot to take them to the hotel they would wait at until the battle was over. Whatever the outcome was, Aiolos hoped those young men survived.

* * *

What came next was the part of the battle he had been the most of afraid of : the waiting. Back when he had been a Gold Saint, Aiolos had hated to sit around and wait for others to do something. He was the first to volunteer whenever there was a crisis, no matter how minor or beneath his station it was suppose to be. Shura and Saga had never understood his need to be out doing something, and had laughed at him for it.

Even now Aiolos hated waiting. But over the last thirteen years he had learned patients. Still, he hated being forced to sit out when a life or death battle was happening nearby. Although rationally he knew that he was doing something, he was guarding Saori and making sure Ikki wasn't using the battles a diversion. But in his heart Aiolos was cruising himself for being useless.

Aiolos knew that even without his cloth he would be a match for the Black Saints, fake who were so weak they hadn't even been able to earn a real Saint Cloth honestly. Aiolos had gotten used to many things since he left Sanctuary, but he had never gotten used to being useless. If he could just fight then maybe he would be able to feel like himself again. He hadn't had the chance to take on a real opponent in so long that he had wasn't sure how rusty his fighting skill really where. Taking on those Black Saints... it would help him to measure how weak his body really had become. It would help him to measure how much of him was still Sagittarius Aiolos, and how much of him had become Kido Akira.

As the day on, he felt the battle, however distinctly, as the Cosmo of the Bronze Saints clashed with those of what he assumed to be the Black Saints. It became harder and harder for him to sit still, and he ended up pacing. How hard it was to sit here when he knew that even half-crippled as he was, he was more than a match for all the Black Saints. Ikki... there

was still something about Phoenix's Cosmo that bothered him but he boy was still a Bronze Saint. He would defeat him... or at least he would be able to if he dared to leave.

There was really no reason for anyone to attack Saori. She didn't have the Gold Cloth and as far as Ikki knew wasn't of anyone of real importance. If he wanted to, Aiolos was sure he could leave and be sure that she would be safe. But... what if he was wrong about that? What if this was just a ruse to make him leave her side so that an assassin from Sanctuary would able to go after Athena without having to worry about a Gold Saint interfering? Aiolos could leave her, not when there was the slightest bit of danger. Some might call him paranoid, but after what he had seen, he wasn't about to take chances. Now when she had nearly been killed by a similar lack of judgment back at Sanctuary. He would stay here and guard Athena. That was his duty as a Gold Saint.

* * *

A couple of hours or so after the battles had started there was a surge of Cosmo over in the mountains. Aiolos recognized it and the hate that it embodied.

So they found you Ikki... That was the only enemy he had been truly worried they wouldn't be able to defeat. The Phoenix was far above the level of a mere Bronze Saint, and he wasn't sure the other boys had realized it yet. It worried and frustrated him, because he knew that if had gone with them this would all be over. I might be half crippled but I could still take on someone like Phoenix. Even if it was a challenge, I would still be able to win. He had been standing out of the deck that was attached to their room, and now he was gripping the edge of the railing that surrounded it so tightly it began to splinter. He took a deep breath and forced himself to let go.

I want to be up there dammit! I want to be doing something to help them! Suddenly something touched his mind. It wasn't a though but more a feeling, a request. He froze for a second then surrendered and sent a tiny bit of Cosmo in the direction the touch had come from. Whatever it was didn't feel as if it meant him any harm, if anything it felt like it was trying to help. It also felt familiar, as if he had felt it before, even though he would have sworn he had never felt anything like that before. Ye the feeling was gone now, and he was beginning to wonder if it had all been a figment of his overworked mind.

A sudden surge of cosmo off in the distance distracted him and he forced his mind away from the touch and more on the battle that was to going on.

* * *

Before they had let them go, they had found a place that the boys would go to when they were done with their battles. A helicopter was making runs up to the point and scheduled intervals. The pilot had been the one who took the boys up there and had orders to pick them up... but only if they weren't wearing black Cloths.

Hours after they had first been dropped off, the helicopter radioed ahead that he was bringing the Bronze Saints back. They had all rushed to the landing area and waited anxiously. At last the helicopter touched down. The all rushed forward to greet the warriors, but stopped when the saw the looks on their faces. Shiryu was with them now, Aiolos had though he sensed the Dragon's Cosmo but had hadn't been sure until now. Seiya had his Pegasus Cloth on once again, and since both it and the dragon cloth were repaired he assumed that Shiryu had gone there directly from Mu's, although how the Dragon Saint had found out where the would be and managed to get there was a mystery.

Saori stepped forward.

"The Gold Cloth?" She asked anxiously. Seiya simply sighed and then held out the helmet.

"Where's the rest of it?!" Tatsumi demanded. No one else moved or offered any explanation, enough of an answer for all of them. The bald man drew in a lungful or air, and looked as if he was about to start shouting at them right there, but Saori stepped forward first.

"You can tell us what happened when we get back to the mansion." She said. "We don't know who might be listening here." The Bronze Saints nodded warily, and then followed Saori as she made her way toward the airplane they had waiting. Aiolos heard Tatsumi shouting at someone to be prepare to take off as he hurried after the others.

The flight back was a silent as the flight toward the fight had been, but for different reasons. In the earlier flight you could have cut the tension in the air with a knife. Now all Aiolos felt was sense of disappointment and exhaustions. The disappointment even affected him. He had wanted to know that his cloth was out of the hands of the enemy, but it seems that wasn't too be yet.

* * *

Once they arrived back at the mansion, the Bronze Saints were allowed to get quick showers and change back into their normal clothes for Saori called them in to her study to hear what had happened. The told them what had happened.

Aiolos paid attention at the beginning of the tale, but after Shiryu began to describe what Mu had done to repair the cloth, the Sagittarius Saint's thoughts drifted. He had been keeping track of the battle by sensing the cosmo of the various combatants, so he knew how the battles had went even if he didn't know the specifics of how. He should have been paying attention but he couldn't. He was too busy wondering about Mu.

Aiolos didn't know how much Shiryu had told Mu, or what he had talked to the Aries Saint about. If the Dragons Saint had let something slip... or if Mu had guessed at something... then they could all be in trouble.

But if he could convince Mu that he was right, if the Aries Saint had sensed that his master was not the one who currently lead Sanctuary, then they could have a powerful ally. And they would need all the help they could get. Besides, he had been pondering going to see the Aries Saint since he had first heard were Mu was. He doubted a Saint would choose to live so apart from his fellows for no reason at all. There had to be a reason, and if it was because of something had happened in Sanctuary.

Seiya had started talking now, describing the battle against Ikki. Aiolos was still only listening with half a ear, until Pegasus mentioned that the Gold Cloth had protected him. The Sagittarius Saint felt his head snap up and he focused on the younger man. That's my Cloth! Why would it protect Seiya when it has me..? Suddenly that mind-touch he had felt in the middle of the battle didn't feel like a dream any more. And he realized why it felt familiar. It had been remarkable similar to the surge of anger he had felt when he had touch the Gold Cloth before. A chill swept though him and he knew it had nothing to do with the fact that Ikki would willingly have killed all the other Bronze Saints. It had been said that the Gold Cloths were almost alive at times, and now he had received more proof that it was more than rumor. It had protected Seiya, although Aiolos himself hadn't know that Seiya was in danger. He was happy with the outcome but it was very unnerving to think that it was something that had been done without his knowledge.

Then Seiya began to describe the attack that had happened after they had defeated Phoenix and Aiolos had to struggled to keep the alarm off his face. Apparently he had been right. Ikki wasn't the only person that Sanctuary had sent... if he had been sent at all. It seemed more and more as if the boy was acting on his own. But if that was true, why where had he gotten the Black Saints from? And who had this Docrates been? Usually when a Saint introduced themselves, they gave their constellation as well as their name. Yet for some reason Docrates hadn't.

Seiya had finished the story, and silence fell over the room as each person became lost in their own thoughts. In a way Aiolos felt the most sympathy for Shun. In the end Ikki had been able to keep at least part of the Gold Cloth out of Sanctuary's hands and had paid for it with his life. The Andromeda Saint had watched his brother die. The Sagittarius Saint would have been surprised if Shun hadn't felt something about his brothers death.

Aiolos was busy worrying about the Docrates and what it could mean. He had been sure that Ikki was working for Sanctuary, but from what Seiya had said that might not be true. If Ikki was acting independently, then where had the Black Saints come from? Why had they been following him? Aside from that, Sanctuary had apparently known what the Phoenix Saint was doing and hadn't taken any action. Had they been waiting to see if he succeed or not? That made the most sense. Since the every advertisement for the tournament had mentioned the Gold Cloth, it wasn't a matter of them trying to find.

The pervading silence didn't last long. A soon as Tatsumi had realized that everyone else was done talking he began to yell. As the older man began to rail at the Saints, Aiolos became more and more annoyed. However before the Sagittarius Saint could say anything, the one person Tatsumi would actually listen too spoke up. It surprised, but pleased him when Saori ordered the older man out of the room. She tried to cheer up the Saints, but unsurprisingly they weren't listening. They were blaming themselves, and Aiolos didn't want to say anything because, in the most honest of words, it was true. They had been there and had been unable to stop their enemies from stealing his cloth. They were the ones that let if be taken away.

Saori assured them that their enemies would come after the cloth, and when the boys began to question her, she admitted to Kido's plan to draw out the evil. The boys began to wonder if Ikki had been sent by their enemies. Aiolos wanted to say something, but since even he wasn't sure of the truth of the matter he didn't dare put out anymore theories. Shun mentioned that Ikki had been trying to warn them about Sanctuary, and they began to wonder if something was wrong there. The Sagittarius Saint bit his lip to keep from breaking into half hysterical laughter. Something wrong!? There is no maybe about it, and I doubt your even considering how far the poison of that place has spread!

Hiding here may have saved his life but Aiolos was becoming increasingly aware of the fact that it had also cut him off from the world of the Saints. He had not idea what had happened in Sanctuary since he had left, nor did he have any idea what how many new Saints had earned their cloths over the last few years. Small details, but one that might help him discover his enemies. Unfortunately, it was extremely hard to get information on Sanctuary. Even Kido had tired, but he hadn't managed to get any solid information Being hard to get to may have kept the birthplace of the Saints safe for millennia but that lack of information wasn't going to keep it's goddess safe. They needed to know that Saga was likely to do, but they had nothing about recent activities around there. He doubted that Saori would have anymore luck than her Grandfather had. Any speculation from that point on was interrupted by Tatsumi's panicked shouts from downstairs.

Everything seemed to slow to a crawl, as the Sagittarius's mind kicked into overdrive. I don't know how they found out here we were so fast, but we have to make sure that Saori is safe. He turned toward the door. If he could get out there, he could at least delay whoever had been sent after them. Much as it hurt to admit it, he wasn't sure he would be able to win against the attacker. Although their cosmo was mostly untrained, it was also very powerful. The Bronze Saint had reacted as well, and they headed toward the landing with him. Shun stayed behind to keep guard Saori and the helmet (something Aiolos knew was unnecessary) while everyone else followed him out. The made it to the top of the stairs... only to discover Tatsumi being held aloft by... a child? As Aiolos looked on in confusion, Seiya and Hyoga started to laugh as Shiryu sighed.

"Kiki, let him down." The Dragon Saint ordered.

* * *

There was a bit of confusion after that, but things settled down once Shiryu managed to introduce Kiki. So that is Mu's pupil, hmm? From what they had said, he had been the one that had guided Shiryu to the battle site and returned Seiya's cloth. It did make sense that Mu would give his pupil the task of returning the Cloth. But how had the Aries Saint known where the battle was to take place? Aiolos had given up trying to find an answer to that question, and instead focused on a more worrying fact. Mu now knew where to find them.

Even if the Aries Saint himself didn't mean them any harm, if he let slip to Saga that the four Bronze Saints were staying here, it would all be over. Once Sanctuary realized that Doctrates was not coming back they would send someone to try and figure out what had happened, and it would take long for them to find the only few Bronze Saints that hadn't yet sworn their loyalty to. And as Aiolos knew first hand how Sanctuary felt about traitors. Even if Docrates death wasn't pinned on them, there was still the fact that by participating in the Galaixain Tournament they had been using their powers for their own personal gain. There was one of the things that was considering unforgivable in the unwritten code of conduct they Saints lived by.

Seiya had decided to leave shortly after things had been sorted out and it had somehow been decided that Kiki was staying here with Shiryu. Aiolos saw on reason to stop Seiya. Sanctuary still depended on more mundane means for their operative to report with, so it would be several days before anyone even realized that Doctrates was dead. In the mean time they would have a little breathing space, until Sanctuary decided to send someone else after them.

And he had no idea what that new enemy was going to be like. Would be as strong as Ikki, or stronger? Would he be another Bronze Saint, or a Silver? Worse yet, would Saga consider them a big enough threat that he would send one of the Gold Saints to end things one and for all? Because he had no way of what changes Saga had made in Sanctuary, he had no way of knowing what the rest of the Saint would think of a his orders. That lack information hurt, and now he had seen a way of possibly getting around that.

Mu had sent his pupil with Shiryu, and had then let Kiki stay here. The boy didn't seem worried about his master finding out here he was, which hinted that Shiryu had Mu's approval at least. If that was true, and if what he suspected about the Aries Saint was also true, then he could be the one who could tell him what kind of place Sanctuary had become. But if he was wrong... then it could be the end of everything.

He already know where you are, Gold Saint. It's only a matter of time until Saga finds out. Part of him argued. It's not like you'll be risking that much.

But he doesn't know who you really are! Another part of his mind said. You're a traitor of Sanctuary! Even if he isn't loyal to Saga, he could still attack you or ignore whatever you have to say as the ramblings of a mad-man! You could ruin everything you have worked so hard for just for a few bits of information!

Information that is needed! Something had changed in Sanctuary, the presence of the Black Saint confirms that much! They would never have been allowed when Shion was still alive. You need to know what else Saga has changed, or else you won't be able to fight back. Aiolos realized that he was arguing with himself and sighed. There was an immense risk with going and seeing Mu but there was also a chance to gain a lot as well. If he could find out just what Saga had corrupted while he had been in power, then Aiolos was sure he would be better prepared to protect his Goddess.

The only problem was that in order to get that information to he would have to got to Jamir himself. It made him uneasy. He hadn't left Saori's side since Kido had brought them to Japan and he wasn't sure he liked the idea of leaving her alone with only the Bronze Saints for protection.

Aiolos continued to debate with himself as the Bronze Saints drifted off to their rooms, and Saori decided to head up to her planetarium. He ran through the evidence for each side of his arguments and realized that he was repeating himself. Saori came out of the planetarium looking troubled, but she wouldn't tell why when he questioned her. He really wasn't trying to hard for answer though, and even though he followed her up the command room that was hidden in the depths of the mansion, he wasn't really paying attention to what she was saying.

He knew that there was no way she would be able to get significant data on Sanctuary no matter how hard she tired. The only way to get any solid information was for him to got and talk to Mu. He had to go and talk to the Aries Saint. He wanted to go talk to the Aries Saint.

It had shocked Aiolos at first but he realized that he really did want to talk to Mu. At the very least it would be something he could actual do. He had never felt as helpless as he had when he had been stuck monitoring the fight between the Bronze Saints and Ikki's minions. Even though they had been fighting over his cloth, he had been unable to do anything. He wanted to do something now, even if it was only getting information. At the very least he wanted to feel as if he was being useful. The Sagittarius Saint smiled when he realized that he doubted he would be able to talk himself out of going. He and Saori had left the command center by now, and where heading down the hall toward his room.

"Saori?" He said. They young woman turned around puzzled.

"What's wrong, Ni-chan?" Saori looked worried. Aiolos ran his hand through his hair then sighed.

"I may know someone who can get us more information on Sanctuary." He said carefully. Purple eyes widened, then she frowned.

"Why didn't you say something sooner?" She demanded.

"Because I'm not sure if they'll be willing to help us or not." Aiolos had struggled with how much to tell her. He did not want to worry or have her forbid him from going, but he didn't want to lie to her and get her hopes either. "I'm the only one that has a chance of getting them to talk and it could be dangerous."

"But we need the intelligence." Saori said, echoing his earlier thoughts. "And we need to how much a threat they are." Aiolos nodded reluctantly.

"But it means I'll have to be the one to go. I'll be leaving you here defenseless."

"Defenseless?" Saori smiled. "Ni-chan, I have four very cable Bronze Saints here with me." She turned. "Besides, I don't think Sanctuary will make a try for the Gold Cloth so soon." Since those were the same arguments he had been using against himself, the Sagittarius Saint could do any more then try and stop himself from smiling.

"If your sure Saori, then I'll go."

"Please do Ni-chan... somehow, I think this will be important." It was all she said, but to Aiolos it just confirmed what he had felt.

Besides, it was an order from his goddess and he couldn't ignore something like that.

* * *

The next morning, Aiolos left very early. The only one really awake at that time was Shun, who gave him a puzzled look but didn't say anything when he left. He had a car brought around and ordered it to drive him to the edge of the city. Although he doubted there was anyone besides the Bronze Saints capable of sensing cosmo in the city, but you could never be to careful. He didn't want anyone noticing that there was someone of Gold Saint strength staying at the Kido mansion. Although the drive gave him a strange look when he ordered him to return to the mansion without a passenger, Aiolos ignored it. He would find a way back if he survived this. Once even the sound of the engine had faded, the Sagittarius Saint closed his eyes. He activated his cosmo, then almost sighed in relief as the familiar feeling of the teleportation arrived. For a heart beat it felt as if weightless and falling through darkness, then the light came back and he opened his eyes to see he was in Jamir.

Those who came seeking Mu's help were suppose to come from below, and fight their through the animated skeletons below. Aiolos however, had decided to teleport directly to the Aries Saints tower. He had no desire to waste his energy fighting a useless battle.

The moment he touched down, he flared his cosmo. He was care of keep hostility and anger out of it, using it only as a beacon to let Mu know that he had a visitor. For nearly a minuet there was not response, and Aiolos was just starting to wonder if the Aries Saint was even here, when a massive Cosmo suddenly flare to life. While there was no open hostility in it, there was an implied threat in this cosmo that made Aiolos stiffen.

"Who are you and why have you come here?" A voice said from behind the Sagittarius Saint and Aiolos whirled around startled. He hadn't even heard the Aries Saint come up behind him, but there he was, already clad in the Aries Cloth.

"Who are you?" Mu repeated. "I will not ask you again."

"I am Gold Saint Sagittarius Aiolos., I have come to talk to you Aries Mu." It felt good to be able to introduce himself by the proper name once again. When Mu heard it, the eyes of the Aries Saint widened, before he was able to school is face into an impassive mask.

"And why should I speak with a traitor?" Was the clipped reply. Although he had heard Shura call him that when they had fought, some how it hearing from the lips of a fellow Gold Saint managed to bring back the pain from so long ago.

"I'm not a traitor!" Aiolos hissed through clenched teeth. "I am as loyal to Athena as you are."

"You tired to kill our goddess!" The accusation stung so much more than Aiolos had thought it would. To be called a traitor was one thing. To be accused of something like that after all he had been through angered him.

"I swear on my honor as Gold Saint that I would never even think about hurting Athena. I tried to save her from those who would have done the crime you are accusing me of!" Aiolos clenched his fists. He had known that this would be hard, but he hadn't thought that Aries Saint had would so thoroughly believing the lies that Saga had been spreading.

"And who would dare to try and harm the Goddess? The Pope himself ordered your execution? Do you dare say that even the Pope was deceived those who you think are the real criminals?"

"The Pope was not deceived." This was the crucial point in all this. If he could get Mu to believe him, if the Aries Saint had any doubts he could play on, then he would have an alley. If he couldn't get the support of the Aries Saint, then he would be dead. "The man who gave the orders for my execution was not the Pope, but a traitor and a liar who wanted Athena dead. He was pretending to be the true Pope, but he is not. He is the true traitor Mu not me!"

"A false Pope?" There was a moment of hesitation in Mu's voice and Aiolos jumped at the chance.

"As much as it pains me to tell you this Mu, your master is dead. Someone else has been hiding behind the mask of the Pope and poisoning Sanctuary from within." Mu tensed and Aiolos began to wonder if he had said too much too fast. Then the Aries Saint relaxed slightly.

"And what if I told you that the Pope has claimed that he is conveying Athena's wishes?"

"What!?" It hadn't occurred to Aiolos that Saga would try and claim that Athena was still in Sanctuary. That he dared to claim to speak with the goddess voice when he thought she was dead was grotesque to him that didn't know what to say. It took him a minuet to find his tongue. "That's not true! He's lying to you! Athena is far away from Sanctuary and safe from his hands." The Aries Saint looked at him, and gave a faint smile.

"So your telling the truth. No matter how good of an actor you are, you wouldn't have been able to duplicate the outrage I felt from your cosmo." Mu's voice sounded vaguely amused, and Aiolos blushed. He hadn't thought that he would get that emotional, and affect even the way his cosmo felt.

"So you knew?" He said to the Aries Saint. Mu sighed.

"Fourteen years ago I felt my Master's cosmo vanish. I went to Sanctuary at once to see what had happened to him, only to find out that apparently nothing had. There had been no notice that anything had happened, aside from your turning Traitor and trying to kill Athena." Aiolos clenched his fist involuntarily, then forced himself to relax.

"When I went to try and talk to the Pope I was told that he was busy and couldn't see me. I went back to training but when I didn't hear from him for several weeks, I went back to see if everything was alright. This time I was told that my Master was meditating and he wouldn't see anyone."

"Did the ever let you see him?" Aiolos couldn't help but ask. Mu smiled bitterly.

"Yes, but only once he had called a meeting of all the Gold Saints. I've never been able to see him alone since your supposed betrayal." There was sadness in the Aries Saint's eyes. "I've suspected that the man behind the mask isn't my master for years, I just haven't been able to find any proof to support my claims."

"And saying things like that would make you look like a traitor." Mu nodded.

"I didn't really believe that the Pope was acting on Athena's orders. We Gold Saints are really the only ones who know about Athena. I thought it would be immediately announced to the rest of Sanctuary after she was returned safely to us, but it never was. Besides... " Mu looked a slight smile on his face. "Shura was the only one who actually saw her, and according to him that was when you were carrying her away. No one has seen her since then and more to the point, no one know who brought her back to Sanctuary."

"Since she isn't in Sanctuary." The last came out a growl but Mu turned toward him.

"Then where is she?" Aiolos didn't answer and he didn't think Mu was really accepting him too. After a few moments of silence, the Aries Saint asked a different question. "Do you know who is running Sanctuary then?" Aiolos pondered not answering that question as well, but then decided that it wouldn't do any harm to answer it.

"Gemini Saga." he said shortly. It was hard for him to recall that day when everything had changed for him. The look in Saga's eyes when he had confronted his former friend had been so strange, it was liking he had been staring down a totally different person. Mu had look startled for a second then shook his head.

"I makes more sense than you know." The Aries Saint said, then continued when Aiolos gave him a curious look. "A short while after you left, Gemini Saga was sent on a special mission by the Pope. No one has seen him since, and only the fact that no one has been trained to take up the Gemini cloth makes people think he might still be alive." Aiolos nodded, Saga was smart enough to tie up any loose ends and make sure there was no one left to question him. Mu cleared his throat.

"Why did you come to see me Aiolos? I don't think it was just to tell me about Sanctuary."

"I about Sanctuary, and whatever changes Saga has implemented since I left. Believe me, anything you can tell we will help immensely." Mu nodded.

"It's only fair anyway, you gave me information." Mu looked over at the tower that was his home. "The first few years there wasn't really any change. I think Saga must have been trying to fool people into thinking Shion was still in power. The rest... trainees and Saints that should rightfully have been sent to Death Queen Island or execute had their crimes ignores. People I would never have wanted as Saints began to earn their cloths. Worse still, people who claimed to be Saints but wouldn‘t name what constellation they belonged. They also held cloth that I had never seen before and whose descriptions I don‘t remember from the archives my Master me read through." Mu's expression turned grim. "Then, these last few months things started happening, and if even half the rumor are true I would have known it wasn't my master in charge anymore. He would never have allowed these things to happen." Mu went on to describe the rumors that he had been talking about and Aiolos went paler with each one.

According to rumors men who were either Saints, or had Saint-like abilities had been stirring up rest in some countries, starting civil wars and aiding in them. There had been no response from Sanctuary and there was even one that said that had the tacit approval from the birth place of the Saints. Others things Mu told him, the Aries Saint had been able to confirm with his own eyes. The training at Sanctuary had been intensified. Now the death rate was high, they were dragging any child who looked as if he had a spark of cosmo in, and then putting him through a course that only the most ruthless survived.

"Also" Mu finished. "it's said that the old Pope died and put his brother in charge of things, and that's why things have changed so much."

"But he didn't die. Saga just decided to quit acting and start being himself. He has to reason to hide anymore." Aiolos muttered stunned. "But isn't there anyone who has noticed something has wrong."

"Anyone who dares to question the Pope's orders are now considered traitors. No wants to speak out and find themselves being tortured by the Popes personal guards."

It hurt Aiolos to listen to all this. The Sanctuary he remembered growing up in had been a hard place, but it had been nothing like the hell Mu had described. He took a deep breath, suddenly longing to be back with Saori. He wanted to see the living goddess he was protecting, to see the hope that things would get better.

"I appreciate you telling me all this. Now I have to take this information back with me." The Aries Saint nodded gravely. Aiolos began to gather his cosmo.

"Aiolos." Mu said suddenly. "I thought you might like know... " Aiolos looked at him curiously.

"The name of the Leo Saint... it's Aioria." Aiolos blinked the found himself smiling, despite the grim news and the knowledge that he war wasn't over. You did it little brother, you actually did it! Pride and happiness filled him for those few seconds as he smiled at the Aries Saint.

"Thank you." Was all the Sagittarius Saint said before he teleported away.

The End of Chapter 8 -- Continued in Chapter 9


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