Second Chance

Chapter 16

© 2008 by Plantress

This page was last modified: 2008/04/21

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Aiolos had started to pace, walking from one end of the Aries temple to the other again and again. He was restless. He could feel the powerful Cosmo of the Saint from the second temple and could tell it was easily overriding the Bronze Saints.

"I thought you said that the Taurus Saint would let them past!" He snapped at Mu.

"I never said that. But I wouldn't worry too much. Aldebaran knows something is wrong in Sanctuary, plus he's straight forward and honest enough that I'm sure he'll recognize that the Bronze Saints are doing the right thing and will let them past."

"WHAT!" Aiolos glared at the Aries Saint. "You said that he was on our side! I thought you had already talked to him!"

"Aldebaran is the only other Saint I actually trust will believe in us." Mu shot back. "But that doesn't mean it's as easy as it was for you to convince Aioria. He was your brother, he already believed in you and wanted to believe that you were innocent. You're asking someone to give up everything that they know as the truth. Mere words, particularly when they come form a traitor and someone who has been absent from Sanctuary for years, aren't going to be enough."

"Then why did you sent Seiya and the others to him?" Aiolos asked.

"Because there is already doubt in Aldebaran's mind, even if he doesn't want to acknowledge it. The way his mind is after he faces Seiya, he will start to think that maybe the Pope is wrong. I know it."

"I just hope you're right Mu." Aiolos turned away. "I can only hope you are right."

"Trust me." The Aries said. "Besides, even if I am wrong, nothing changes. They would still have to pass through Taurus, no matter what happens"

"That's true." Aiolos admitted. "I just wish it wasn't. Saints shouldn't be forced to turn on each other like this!"

"I wish that we didn't have to do this, too, but there isn't a choice, " Mu said softly.

"I know that," Aiolos sighed. He knew that but he didn't have to like it. When Seiya and the others cleared the way he would confront Saga no matter what and demanded that his former friend tell him why he had done this. Maybe then he would be able to make some sense of what his life had become.

Although he knew it was only minutes it felt like hours until the aggressive Cosmo in the second house faded. Just before that there was a surge of Cosmo that Aiolos had realized was Seiya's but only after it had faded. Never before had he felt the Pegasus's Saints Cosmo so powerful. There had been things different about it, too. Aiolos felt the moment that Seiya's Cosmo broke through the barrier to the Seventh sense. Although he had only reached it for a second or so, the fact that he had actually achieved it was enough to shock Aiolos. It was so distracting that he almost missed the hint of another Cosmo mixing in with the Saints. The only reason he noticed it at all was because he had been saved by the Cosmo and had been around it for years. He looked over at Saori quickly but her condition hadn't changed.

"Did I just imagine it?" he muttered. Mu looked over at him but Aiolos just shook his head slightly and turned his attention back to the battle. It finished with all four Bronze Saints continuing onward.

"See?" Mu said smiling, but Aiolos caught the relief that was hidden in his voice as well.

"So now they have to pass the third house," Aiolos said out loud.

"Yes," the Aries Saint sighed. Then he smiled slightly. "But before they do I want to see Aldebaran. I think now I might be able to talk him into helping us."

"Good luck," the Sagittarius Saint said as Mu headed toward Taurus. Then he walked over to check on Saori. There was no sign that she had awakened, even for a moment despite what he had felt. It was actually a relief to him that way. Even if the arrow wouldn't kill her, the wound still must hurt and he was very glad she wouldn't have to experience that pain.

"Were you helping him?" Aiolos said out loud as he gazed down at the young woman. Should I be relieved or worried if you really are?

Now the Bronze Saints would soon reach Gemini and Aiolos was growing nervous. Saga wouldn't dare leave the Pope's temple, not when there were intruders. But at the same time Aiolos knew the Gemini Saint would never let them pass through his territory without at least trying something.

He was pacing but there was really nothing else for him to do. Much as he wanted to help this wasn't his fight, not anymore. Every few minutes he checked on Saori, but there was no obvious change in her condition. The arrow seemed to be deeper in her chest but there was no obvious change in her breathing or pulse.

Even though he had half expecting it, it was still a shock when he felt Saga's Cosmo appear out of nowhere. He froze in mid-stride, then turned and ran toward the exit of the Aries temple. He gazed upward, barely able to see the Gemini temple. The Cosmo was fading already and Aiolos almost doubted that it had been the Gemini Saint's. It had been so much darker and more powerful than before that if he had been known Saga so well he wouldn't have recognized it at all.

The Cosmo flared again, and Aiolos realized that it was faint. If you weren't searching for it he doubted anyone would noticed it. He doubted Saga was actually in the temple now because s the Cosmo didn't feel solid enough to have originated there and he doubted Saga would risk leaving the seat of his power. But if Saga really was reaching all the way from the main temple...he had grown stronger since Aiolos had last seen him. Why am I even surprised about that? It's Saga after all. There was the stirrings of the dark Cosmo again. This time Aiolos concentrated on it. Now he was sure it was Saga reaching down. Even if the Gemini Saint wasn't physically there, Saga could still spell trouble for the Bronze Saints. Once when they had been young, shortly after he had earned his Cloth, he had gotten into an argument with Saga over something small. The next day the Gemini Saint had simply not let him pass his temple. Aiolos remembered trying to go through the third temple, only to end up back at the where he had started. After several tried he had became frustrated, started shout, and attracted the attention of the Pope. Both he and Saga had gotten yelled at, then made to apologize to each other.

A large flare of that dark Cosmo, so different from the way Saga's had been back then, and something around the Gemini house seem to twist. Although he could barely see what was going on from the first temple, Aiolos could have sworn that there were two Gemini temples up there. Be blinked and rubbed his eyes but the second one did fade. He knew one of them had to be illusion, although he couldn't remember Saga being that good at illusions. But he's at thirteen years to practice at it.

It took Saga a few minutes to realize what Saga was trying to do because it didn't make any sense to him. Why was he trying to split them up? If all he had to do was hold them there until the clock ran out then why the illusion? Why try to split them up? If he didn't want to deal with them personally then there was always the other Gold Saints. Did he just not feel like expanding enough energy to keep them trapped there?

You're underestimating them, Saga. Aiolos was surprised by the intensity of the through. Although he had his own misgivings about the Bronze Saints, he had been wondering if that was just because of his pride as Gold Saint. He didn't want to the image of the strongest of Athena's Saints tarnished. But you have to drop your pride if you want to save her. Those four are the only chance any of us have! Grim thoughts, but true. Saints were suppose to be able to create miracles, he just hoped these young Saints could prove that true.

"What do you think Saga will do now?" Mu's voice cut through his thoughts as the Aries Saint walked down eh steps toward him.

"Nothing good." Was the grim answer. Mu threw once last glance back up the mountain before he walked past the Sagittarius Saint.

"Has there been any change in her condition?"

"None. I don't know if that's a good or bad thing." Aiolos said. Hyoga's Cosmo was flaring now, and he wondered just what the Cygnus Saint was fighting. Hyoga wouldn't try to blast through the walls, would he? He had felt Seiya's Cosmo flare too, but the Pegasus Saint hadn't done that in a while. Dimly he could feel Shiryu and Seiya moving away from the third temple.

Hyoga's had stopped attacking now. For a brief second Aiolos thought he had managed to actual get through Gemini, but then Saga's Cosmo flared again. Power built until the Gemini temple, the only one now that the illusion had vanished, was glowing gold. The Sagittarius Saint realized he was clenching his fist so tightly he couldn't feel his fingers anymore. He forced himself to relax, although it was hard. Then, abruptly, the Cosmo surrounding the Gemini house disappeared. Aiolos blinked and wondered if Saga had decided that he didn't want to deal with the Bronze Saints personally. Saga's Cosmo enveloped Gemini Temple once again, giving the Sagittarius Saint his answer. This time Aiolos could sense anger in his Cosmo. One of the Bronze Saints must have annoyed the Gemini Saint. Shun's Cosmo was suddenly flared, only to be driven down by Saga's power. Aiolos drew in a sharp breath, suddenly afraid for the Andromeda's Saint life...then Shun's Cosmo started to rise once again. It clashed with Saga's Cosmo and although it didn't overpower it, the attack did something because the Cosmo that surrounded Gemini vanished.

The fact that it was Shun who managed to drive away Saga shocked Aiolos. He trusted Shun as a Saint but Saga was the most powerful person he could name. It was a miracle that Shun had managed to make it through.

"So they're past the third house?" Mu asked as the Aries Saint came up to stand beside him.

"Yes." Aiolos answered. He looked over at the other Gold Saint. "Do you think that they'll be able to get past Cancer?"

"They'll have to," was the reply. There was nothing more Aiolos could say to that, so he turned and went to check on Saori once again. There was still no change in her condition, although when he felt his heart jump when he realized the arrow had sunk deeper into her chest. Or did it just look as if it had gone deeper because he was worried? All he knew was that the arrow was suppose to pierce her heart at the end of twelve hours. Did that mean it would go deeper in each hour or would it wait until the end of the last hour to move at all?

He gave himself a mental shake. Stop it! By the time you have to start worrying about that, the arrow will be long gone at this will all be over. What that would entail was something that made Aiolos uncomfortable. For all the time he had spent planning how to take back Sanctuary for Athena, he had no idea what would happen after that was done. He hadn't seen the point of thinking that far ahead. Saga...they would have to deal with him, somehow. What that meant Aiolos found himself trying not to think about.

The powerful icy Cosmo that flared up out of nowhere served as a welcome distraction from the uncomfortable direction his thought had been taking. Mu had been walking toward him but now he paused and looked back.

"That's coming from Libra," the Aries Saint frowned.

"That's not Roshi's Cosmo anyway," Aiolos looked back at the temple. "but I don't know whose it is."

"It belongs to Aquarius Camus," Mu said looking puzzled. "He's out of his temple in the middle of an emergency, that's unusual for him."

"Camus...isn't that Hyoga's teacher?" Aiolos muttered, not really expecting Mu to answer. "Do you think he's going to join our side."

"I can't say," Mu replied anyway, "the one or two times I returned here he was in Siberia."

"Hmm.." Aiolos turned his attention to the Libra temple. His hope that they might have an expected ally was shattered when he felt the Cosmo of the Aquarius Saint flare, and fighting against him was... "Hyoga?" Aiolos said in surprise. He had thought the Cygnus Saint was still with Shun.

"What's Hyoga doing there? Deathmask and Shaka would never have let him pass with out a challenge," Mu muttered to himself. Aiolos choose to ignore the mystery for the time being. Instead he focused on the battle ahead of him. He felt some sympathy for Hyoga. The Cygnus Saint had spoken so fondly of his teacher that Aiolos knew the battle had to hard on him. To fight someone you cared about...the Sagittarius Saint didn't even want to think about what it must be like. But they had to get through the temples. Even Hyoga hadn't faced his Master here he would have had to once they reached the eleventh temple.

The icy Cosmos in the temple clashed for a moment, then there was surge of Cosmo from Camus as a light shot from Libra temple. It disappeared off into the distance, leaving Aiolos staring at. Before he could figure out exactly what it was intended to do, Hyoga's Cosmo flared with rage. It clashed with the Aquarius Saint's Cosmo...and the ice aura of the Gold Saint swiftly overpowered that of the Cygnus Saint. Aiolos felt Hyoga's Cosmos start to fade away and could do nothing as it disappeared entirely.

The Sagittarius Saint clenched his fist helplessly. Even though he had half expected the Bronze Saints to die in here, he had still be hoping that the four young men he had helped to train would survive.

"Stupid, senseless war!" He snarled to himself, then after one last look at the fire clock that was counting down Saori's life, he turned and walked back into the temple to check on Athena. There wasn't much else he could do now.

It was a while before anything else happened. Even then he barely noticed it as first since the Cosmo coming from Cancer was strange. It was only when he felt Shiryu's Cosmo flare brightly that he really paid attention to what was happening above them.

"So that's...Deathmask." Aiolos said to himself as he gazed upwards. A Saint who choose to follow Saga even though he knew what the Gemini Saint had done. He hoped that Shiryu would manage to defeat the Cancer Saint. A traitor like him did not deserve to be called a Gold Saint! But Shiryu's Cosmo was overpowered by the Cancer Saint's, and then he felt the Dragon fading away. For a minute he thought the Dragon Saint was gone, then he felt something. It wasn't the Cosmo of the Cancer Saint but...something made him look back to where Saori lay. Then he felt Shiryu's Cosmo flare from the Cancer temple once again. The Cosmo of the two Saints clashed then Shiryu's disappeared once more. A moment after that Deathmask's Cosmo disappeared as well.

"The Cancer Saints are able to open the door to the afterlife, remember?" Mu's calm voice said. Aiolos remembered rumors of that ability, but he had never seen it for himself.

"Are you saying Shiryu is already dead?"

"I'm not sure. I only saw his attack for a few moments when I interfered at Rozan, so I have no idea if it kills outright or does something else to the victim."

"So, in other words, we just have to wait." Aiolos finished bitterly.

Waiting was a word that Aiolos had come to hate a long time ago. He kept fidgeting and pacing with restless energy until he was sure he must be annoying the Aries Saint...when he suddenly felt Aioria's Cosmo flare. He stopped in mid-step when he felt the outright hostility in it. Startled the Sagittarius reached out toward his younger brother's mind to ask what was wrong...and encountered nothing but a wall of pure rage and bloodlust. There was none of his little brother's mind there, but a bestial rage.

"What the...!?" Aiolos raced to the exit of the temple, staring up the mountain. When Seiya's Cosmo flared and clashed briefly against his brother's he realized that something was very, very wrong. He tensed, glancing back at the unconscious Athena then up to where his brother was. Abandoning Athena was something that he could not do but...something was very, very wrong with Aioria. He glanced back and forth then slammed his fist into the edge of the doorway with a growl.

"Damn!" He snarled as the stone fractured. As a Saint of Athena he had always know that there might come a point when he would be forced to choose between his goddess and those that he cared about but he had never thought that day would really come. Least of all like this with his goddess wounded and something wrong with this little brother's very Cosmo, with him not being able to do anything to help either of them

"Go" Mu's soft voice said from beside him. Aiolos turned to stare at the Aries Saint, "I'm a Gold Saint as well, and this is my temple. I'm perfectly capable of guarding Athena. You go see what's wrong with your brother."

"But..." As stupid as he knew it was, Aiolos couldn't help but feel that he was abandoning Athena at her most vulnerable. Not that he doubted Mu's capability to protect her but he had been the one protecting her for the last thirteen years. He didn't want to give that up to someone else.

"She'll be fine," Mu insisted as the other Saint met his eyes. "You've given up everything to protect her. I doubt she'll begrudge you a moment of selfishness." Aiolos turned away from the Aries Saint, clenched his fists, then whispered, 'Thank you', before he took off up the steps,

Reaching Taurus seemed to take forever, although he knew it had only really taken a few minutes. With his heart hammering, he reached through the temple itself, only to be stopped at the exit by a massive figure blocking his way.

"Aldebaran," Aiolos said shortly as he gazed up at the Taurus Saint, "you've grown since I last saw you."

"Aiolos," the Taurus Saint rumbled in surprise, "what are you doing here?"

"Here in Sanctuary or here in your temple?" Aiolos asked impatiently. "Mu should have already explained about the first one, and right now I'm just trying to get to my brother's temple, so if you'll let me past..." The Sagittarius Saint tried to dodge around Aldebaran only to have the Taurus Saint move to block him.

"I can't do that," was what Aldebaran said, but the words were hesitant. The Taurus Saint felt as if he had to fulfill his duty but he wasn't sure if it was the right thing to do.

"I'm a Gold Saint, Aldebaran. I never once have abandoned my duty to Athena," Aiolos said softly, "there is nothing in this world that could ever make me turn against her." He met the Taurus Saint's eyes. "I mean her no harm, and all I ask is that you let me pass. I don't even want to reach the main temple." At least not yet. "All I want to do is reach Leo. Something is wrong with Aioria," the Taurus Saint still didn't move from his stop.

"Please, Aldebaran, it's my brother. I don't want to have to hurt a fellow Saint but I will if you force me too." There was a pause, then the massive Saint of Taurus smiled and moved to the side.

"Who am I to stop one of Athena's Saints," he said. Aiolos nodded his thanks as he ran past.

It wasn't until he was standing in front of Gemini that the Sagittarius Saint realized exactly where he was. He had to pass through the third temple but he had the sudden sinking suspicion that Saga was not going to let him through that easily. The Gemini Saint had already tried to stop the Bronze Saints, Aiolos knew he wouldn't let someone like him through. Steeling himself for whatever the traitor chose to send his way, the Sagittarius Saint ran into the temple. Almost as soon as he was inside, he felt that dark, tainted Cosmo that now belonged to Saga, descend on the temple. He could have sworn he felt the space start to twist and the exit seemed to disappear from in front of him...then reality seemed to right itself with a snap and he was out in the sunlight facing the stairs leading up to Cancer.

He stopped, then glanced back at the temple behind him. For the half second when everything had gone back to normal he could have sworn Saga's Cosmo had felt like it had back when they were children. Then Aioria's own rage-filled Cosmo flared again, and Aiolos shoved what he had just felt to the back of his mind. There were far more important things at this moment.

As he reached through Cancer, now empty of even the traces of Cosmo that would have indicated a Gold Saint was present, he wondered what had happened to his little brother and if he would be able to help him at all.

The End of Chapter 16 -- To Be Continued

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