(Invitation) The Face of a Friend
Feb 18 2018
Written by Lish
Could it really be this simple? Could Haruka have been here the entire time? Holding a newspaper in her hand, with a picture of Haruka Tenoh standing beside his race car, Setsuna knew that face, it was a face that she could never forget. Even dressed as a man, the paper's reports claiming him to be a man, Setsuna knew that face. It was a face that Setsuna had seen only once in person, when they worked together to awaken Sailor Saturn, but Setsuna had seen that face from afar at her time door several times. Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune had not been awakened during Sailor Moon's time by the time the wormhole had opened, but in the future, the Outer Senshi had very much been awake, and working diligently on missions of their own. Setsuna had watched them try to change the future, to try and keep the sacred talismans away from each other, never knowing that they had no chance of ever finding the third one, not until Setsuna was ready to reveal it. She had watched the two struggle and succeed together, all to prevent the destruction of yet another lifetime. And they would succeed, in the future, and save the future for everyone. But Setsuna could never speak of this to anyone, which was far easier when Setsuna had no one to talk to.

Standing in a viewing box above the race track, Setsuna had come to the track the moment she saw the face on the paper, hoping that it was really her. Of course, even if it was, it was unlikely that Haruka would recognize Setsuna, no one ever did, but if Setsuna could just remind Haruka of who she was, then they would have another Sailor on their side. Setsuna could only hope, however, that the Haruka of this world was as determined to protect her princess as the Haruka of the Silver Dimension. Looking down at the track, her back to the door, Setsuna didn't fully understand the 'sport' as cars ran lap after lap around the track, but that was nothing new. She had learned that this world was strange, and while Setsuna could watch and understand several things from her time door, sports was something that you had to be present for to both understand and enjoy.

Using her job as an event coordinator, Setsuna lied to the people at the front, claiming to be setting up an event for some of the sport's largest contributors. Expressing her desire to speak with Haruka Tenoh in hopes of having him come to the event, Setsuna was led to an empty box and told to wait. Whether or not Haruka Tenoh would be willing to come meet her was now the next challenge, and as Setsuna watched the cars, she could only hope that the racer was curious enough to come find out what was going on.

Wearing a grey skirted suit, with a black blouse beneath the blazer, Setsuna made sure to look the part of her job. Her long green-tinted hair was pulled back in a half bun, allowing the other half of her hair to fall straight down her back, lightly curled at the ends. This world had taught Setsuna that appearances mattered very much, and while she had never needed to curl her hair before, now it was seen as a way of looking presentable, like you put effort into your appearance. A black leather tote sat near where Setsuna stood, and from it she could produce business cards and custom stationary to prove her position, allowing her to get closer than most places would allow any normal person.

This post was last modified: 04 Mar 2018, 03:17 PM by Meioh Setsuna.

Written by Eli
The skies were restless.

It was as obvious to Haruka as if the storm clouds were directly above her and preparing to rain across the entire Sankakusu area. Something had been setting in motion recently, and though she couldn't for the life of her figure out what, it was reflected clear as day in the world around them. Storms had been harsher lately. The wind blew temperamentally, with a mixture of restlessness and anticipation.

Haruka had found herself increasingly on edge as of late,and though she knew personally that was not without reason, it wasn't really something she could openly share with others. Not only would they not understand but – well – it was a bit odd to talk about the tumultuous state of the weather when the sun was shining bright as day overhead and there was nary a cloud in sight.

It wouldn't last. The storm was croaching up on them, like it had begun to do so more often as of late. Uranus could feel it in her soul.

And Haruka really was not in the mood to get caught in the rain tonight.

After running a few laps and meeting with some members of the press previously that morning, by mid-day Haruka had dressed down from her racing gear into her mechanics slacks and set herself to making some necessary adjustments along the drive train of her racecar. Finally being able to get away from others and just focus on something that made sense to her (and cars did make sense to her, in a way that people never would) was a relief. There wasn't much left planned on her schedule for the day. With the events that were being planned further on into the future, a large portion of employee's attention was on organizing everything that would be needed later on. It had lead, quite nicely, to a lull in events and planning.

Which gave her more time to focus on the issues she actually needed to think through. But in turn, it was another reminder of how everything had turned to the worst. How she'd failed and now herself and her partner were backed into a corner, grasping at the last modicum of hope they had left.

Haruka was almost missing the hustle and bustle of activity. It was much easier to pass as another regular person when her thoughts were focused solely on work.

Which is likely why she'd been too focused inspecting the axle to hear that one of the stadium staff had slipped into her workshop.

“Tenoh-san, there's a woman here asking for you. She introduced herself as Meioh Setsuna-san,” a voice spoke out suddenly from the quiet, jostling Haruka out of her reverie and in doing so, rolled herself out from under the vehicle.

She looked up at the employee – Hayano Sakura, her nametag read – and raised an eyebrow curiously. It was enough of a prompt for the other woman to continue.

“Sounds like she's setting up some sort of event and is hoping you'll attend. She seemed very eager to speak with you in person. The director sent her to wait in one of the spectators boxes.”

Naturally, only after Haruka was fairly certain she was done dealing with press for the day.

She suppressed her sigh, instead shooting the other girl a smile. “Arigato, Sakura-chan. I'll head up there as soon as I've finished here.”

It was enough for the younger girl to leave with a pleased blush, and to give Haruka more time to collect herself. She finished with the work on the drivers side and, deciding that would be enough for the day, washed her hands before making her way to the elevator.

She wasn't in the most presentable attire she could have chosen for a meeting, but Haruka had also never had anyone comment on it before. Getting a bit of grease and smudge on her clothes was part of the job. As much as a nice hot shower sounded wonderful in that moment, it sounded even better in the comfort of her own apartment.

Far away from prying eyes.

As she reached closer to the top floor, something started beckoning her closer. To come forward. Faster. Haruka wasn't in any sort of rush. The skies were still clear, no sign of the impending storm in sight. Distaste aside, it wasn't as though she were afraid of getting caught in a downpour either.

Yet half way to her destination, she found herself running. Haruka hadn't even realised it until she noticed that the sounds of voices up ahead were getting louder much quicker than normal. It was disorienting. She slowed herself back down to a walk before anyone could question her, though still proceeded with a sense of urgency. Finally coming in sight of the exact door that she'd been looking for was a huge relief.

Hand on the doorknob, it was only after Haruka had turned the handle and begun walking into the room that she realised she'd never asked anyone which spectators box she was supposed to be heading to.

It only took a glimpse of long, dark hair for Haruka to be certain that she'd gone to the right place. In that instant, she was hit with an overwhelming sense of deja vu.

If she hadn't had four years of practice in hiding her weakness for necessity, she would have stumbled from the wave of dizziness that hit her in that moment.

Haruka kept it from showing on her features, but she was decidedly on alert. Taking in her new companion, something about this felt odd. Like she was missing a necessary piece to a puzzle that she should know.

Without it, all she was left with was a misplaced feeling of familiarity.

Still, she shoved the distrust aside, mustering up the same cordiality that she did with all of her fans. Her smile reserved, but no less charming.

“Hey. Meioh-san, is it? I was told you wanted to speak with me?”

Written by Lish
Three minutes

It was just long enough for the woman to return to the lobby, then to proceed whatever way she had to, to find Haruka. The clock on the wall ticked off the minutes, but Setsuna never glanced at it, she didn't have to. Blood of the very god of time flowed through Setsuna's veins, and while she might not have been able to command it at the moment, she could still feel it. Each and every second, Setsuna starred down at the cars, absentmindedly counting off the minutes within her head. Some people might believe that it was boring, to feel every second, to not get so distracted that time 'flew by' as they seemed to describe it, but Setsuna was never bored by time. Time could never be returned, and people allowed their time to fly by far too fast, dying without ever doing what they wanted in life. Life was short, time was precious, but living was the longest thing anyone would ever accomplish in their life.

Six minutes

With the way that the girl who helped Setsuna moved, she assumed that by now, she must have met Haruka and was explaining the situation. The receptionist moved quickly, and Setsuna appreciated that, she didn't waste her precious time on just moving somewhere, she put effort into it, clearly caring about her job. Dark eyes followed the cars below her, as they lapped around the track, circling the same center over and over again.

Ten minutes

Surely Haruka knew that someone was here to see her by now, though Setsuna stood patiently, waiting for her old comrade to come. If Haruka refused, the girl would have been back by now, explaining to Setsuna that she needed to leave and had no business here. This was a professional setting, and Setsuna was likely taking up space in a box that could be sold for a good amount of money to watch the races. Of course, most of the big races were already done, but Setsuna wasn't here to watch a race.

Twenty minutes

It was almost time, and as Setsuna watched the cars turn in circles, one after the other, coming up on their final lap, her eyes darted from each of the vehicles, taking a closer look at each of them. Red lips parted just as the door handle began to turn, and words formed the moment the door began to crack open. "The car 28 looks like the crowd favorite, but 13 is moving a fraction of a second faster and will win." Speaking the words, Setsuna had no idea if it made perfect sense, she didn't watch this sport, but she was making an observation. The red 28 was in the lead, people were on their feet cheering as it neared the finish line.

Turning around, away from the glass, Setsuna's gaze met with Haruka's. There was no denying it, Haruka was Sailor Uranus, her face gave it away in the paper, but her presence gave it away now. The way she stood, tall and powerful, Uranus was always on her guard, the leader of the Outer Senshi, she was the best knight among them, and loyal to a fault. "Yes, thank you for agreeing to meet me." As Setsuna finished her words, noise exploded from below the box as the 13th car overtook the 28th car at the very last second, winning the race. There was clear excitement and disappointment, though Setsuna ignored the sound.

Reaching for her tote, Setsuna pulled out the newspaper with the picture of Haruka on it. "The paper speaks very highly of you, and your partner, Michiru-san. A talented driver and a remarkable musician, it seems you make the perfect storm, against the odds of such solitary professions in life."

Written by Eli
For the most part, Haruka was acquainted with just about every racer that ran this track. Most part for necessity, but there was the rare occasion that she found another competitor whose acquaintance she quite enjoyed. Though he'd never been quite near the top-tier in terms of the competition, Takashi was one of those people. He also happened to be the driver of car 13.

So, as Setsuna spoke referring to the current race down on the track, Haruka couldn't help but be curious. She hadn't paid attention to the results of any other competitions since her last run of the day, entirely focused on her work as she had been. She came closer, slowly walking up to the glass to look down at the track, though still keeping a safe distance between the two of them.

The news from the other woman's observation came as a bit of a surprise, but it was no less of a pleasant one. And honestly, Haruka would gladly take the mental distraction.

Dark blue eyes met maroon. Her eyes narrowed, if only slightly. While she managed to keep her expression neutral, Haruka was also taking a good look at the woman in front of her. Offhand Setsuna didn't appear to be anything more than she seemed, but Haruka knew better than anyone that looks could be deceiving.

As the crowd erupted from below, it was as much of a sign as she needed to tell them that her companion had been correct. Haruka was admittedly impressed. Even with a trained eye such as her own, noticing such a minute difference in speed was difficult. Takashi was likely ecstatic and swamped by the press the moment he exited his car. Fans were already going crazy, if the noise level was any indicator.

Yet with most things as of late, Haruka couldn't help but see the scene before her and feel detached. This happiness was short-lived. The planet was being destroyed. Every day, the scent of death grew stronger.

Things were just getting worse, and they hadn't made any progress.

It was disheartening but even more so, it was frustrating. She and Michiru had put in the work. Hours of it, yet it didn't feel like they'd learned anything more. If anything they'd fallen even further into the enemies clutches, and with nothing to show for it.

“We're lucky to have garnered such positive attention from the media. As celebrities that's all we can really ask for, right?”

She accentuated the statement with a laugh but internally, Haruka could feel her heart rate increasing. It wasn't unusual for her to be questioned about their relationship; it just generally didn't come from anyone at work. Sakura had made it sound as though Setsuna was solely interested in her for whatever event she'd been referring to.

Every time someone brought up her partner without prompting, it increased her anxiety exponentially. The widespread belief among the Black Moon was that she dead. Haruka knew that.

But if somehow they had learned otherwise; if there was any chance the woman before her had figured out their identities and was trying to trick her into revealing herself - then Haruka refused to be caught off guard.

She swallowed.

It was the way Setsuna phrased her sentence that bothered her the most. Once again, Haruka was  left with the distinct feeling that she was missing something. The sinking feeling only grew stronger the more Setsuna spoke.

This felt like a trap.

Her hand clenched into a first at her side. She gave the other woman a rather strained smile.

If it was, she'd be damned if she was going to take Michiru down with her. Haruka refused to entertain  that line of conversation.

“But I didn't think you were here to talk to me about that.”

Written by Lish
"Who we choose to spend our time with, is very telling of who we are as people." Setsuna hadn't come here to talk about them as a couple, but what Setsuna knew about Uranus and Neptune was that they were inseparable, always. If you found one of them, then you found them both, though the media had seemed to pick up on that as well, writing about their relationship in the article about Haruka.

"Do you follow astronomy, Tenoh-san? The outermost planets are beginning to draw closer to each other, which is a very rare phenomenon indeed, it has only happened once before. When they come together like that, they are pulled towards each other like magnets. There is a lot of speculation about what happens when this occurs again, but it has been determined that the closer they come to each other, the stronger the winds on Uranus become, the tides of Neptune rage further and Pluto appears to remain distant and resolute."

Standing calmly, Setsuna couldn't bring herself to openly ask Haruka if she was aware of what was going on, if she truly recognized who Setsuna was, beneath the professional suit. Returning the article with Haruka's picture to the tote, Setsuna hesitated for a moment before deciding to try another bold move, hoping that it might signal for Setsuna if the other woman was aware or not.

Grabbing onto a notepad and pen, Setsuna removed the objects from her tote, using the end of the pen to hook the metal strand that held Setsuna's space-time keys. As she pulled the pen out, a couple of the keys came out as well, hanging out of the pocket that the pen was retrieved by. It was very much a long shot, because no one except Setsuna would truly understand the keys, but they had been something that Setsuna had worn around her waist since the moment she took up the mantle of time guardian. Sailor Pluto always wore the time keys, keeping them on her body to better protect them, but had any of the Outer Senshi who Pluto had briefly exposed herself to during the fall of the Silver Millennium actually noticed the keys?

"I believe that your presence would be wanted for an upcoming event." Trying to hide behind her guise as a event coordinator, Setsuna wasn't certain if her presence was actually enough to prompt Haruka to remember the older guardian. If not, she needed to come up with a idea to keep her original reason for the visit sound legit. There wasn't a event coming up, Setsuna wasn't hired to start a new event, and now she needed to hope that she could come up with something that sounded legit if Haruka pressed her for details about the fake event.

Staring at the other woman, however, Setsuna hoped that it wouldn't come to that. She wanted the other Outer Senshi to recognize her, she wanted to be able to talk openly with Haruka, but not at the expense of being too bold on Setsuna's end. If it wasn't time for the Outer Senshi to meet up with each other, then Setsuna could not alter that, she believed in the sanctity of time.

Written by Eli
Haruka couldn't breathe. She could only hope that the fact didn't show on her features – but there was only so much that could be done while she felt like she was drowning. Anxiety kept her feet locked in place while all she wanted to do was run. Dread trickled down the blonde's spine.

She knew. Setsuna had to know. Haruka couldn't for the life of her figure out how she'd been found out, but she couldn't think of any other conclusion to derive from what the other woman had just said. Her relationship with Michiru was telling. Both of them had been practically attached at the hip, just as they had been as Uranus and Neptune. There was a reason she'd pushed her partner away at the beginning of all of this, after she'd narrowly recovered from her brush with death and wanted nothing more than to keep the other woman near, and it was for this very reason.

They'd gotten complacent. The Black Moon had determined Uranus dead. Haruka had allowed her guard to slip.

It had been nearly three years since that now. How had she gotten found out? Aside from their appearances together, they had been careful.

There was nothing that she could think of to say, so Haruka chose to say nothing.

Nothing about this situation felt safe. The more Setsuna talked, the more the racer felt like she was being lead into a trap. But even more so, the greater her confusion became.

None of this sounded like anything the Black Moon should know. Let alone anything they would care about. Not unless they'd discovered there was a connection between each senshi and their planet, but there was no way that could be the case, right? Even more so, Setsuna hadn't just left it at Uranus and Neptune. She'd mentioned Pluto, too. No one aside from herself and Michiru even knew that Sailor Pluto existed. No one except...

Dark eyes widened. They sought out the other woman's with an expression of confusion.

But that couldn't be. ...Right?

Her eyes tracked Setsuna's movements on instinct. Haruka never did enjoy being caught off guard but even more so, it had become an instinct of self-preservation. Just because this was a workplace didn't mean anything was less likely to happen here. The White Moon were legally to be executed on sight. If a weapon was drawn, Haruka would have no choice but to fight back. At the same time, that would be viewed by any of the enemy as an admission of guilt. It was a lose-lose situation no matter how she played it.

When the items that were pulled out turned out to just be a pen and paper, she almost found herself feeling silly, up until they drew something else out with them.

At first, Haruka didn't even notice the keys. At a brief glance they were nothing significant to her. They didn't look like anything she recognized nor a weapon that she had to watch out for. Her attention left as soon as they were drawn there, visually nothing significant to her.

Then she heard it.

Soft as the sound was, the clink of metal-on-metal as each key brushed against the next rang in Haruka's ears loudly. She didn't even hear the next words that were spoken to her, because her brain was spending too much time playing catch-up. She knew that sound. It was so small and insignificant and yet it spoke volumes.

She had heard that sound in her dreams plenty of times. Just minutes before startling herself awake, broken out in a cold sweat.

The atmosphere had been cold, then. Still and eerie in a way that nowhere but the further edges of the solar system could embody. Everything had been brought to ruin. The Silver Millennium had fallen. All the inner court and their Princess dead and slaughtered in the wake of the Earthlings tirade.

Silence permeated through the air after the three Talismans had been brought together. The winds subsided after their summoning, dying off in a way that Uranus could only read as their acceptance.  It was quiet, then. In the few moments before Sailor Saturn appeared before them. But it was the agony of the final calm before the storm.

She could remember the sounds very distinctly. As the whistling died down in her ears, Neptune's short breath could be heard from off to her side. Her partner had rubbed her hand against her mirror and as Pluto shifted next to her, garnet rod in hand, a distinct clink-ing followed the chain of keys settling around the other senshi's waist...

Haruka snapped back to the present.

But that meant...

She couldn't afford to voice her thoughts aloud. Not on the offchance that she was wrong. But the more she took in the slight of the woman before her, the stronger that sense of familiarty now became.

And it was familiarity. Long-green tinted hair. Mentioning of the three outer planets.

Haruka just had to be sure. She chose her next words carefully, praying inwardly that it wouldn't give her away. Not if she was wrong.

“What do you speculate would happen if all three planets were brought together again?”

There were only two  people in existence who knew the correct answer to that aside from herself, and Neptune wasn't there right now.

Written by Lish
Time ticked by as the two stood, staring at each other, a fair distance left in-between them. Though Setsuna's powers over time were broken, her connection to the very essence of time was unshakable, it flowed in the blood that pumped through her body.

It had been millennia since Setsuna had been forced to truly fight, but her skills had remained intact, and when Sailor Moon and the others came into the space-time dimension, Setsuna had proven herself against the other Senshi, until the princess came and ordered her to stop. If Haruka picked a fight now, Setsuna was ready, but she knew that it would be a challenge. A strong warrior, Haruka stood tall among the Outer Senshi, her bravery untouchable. A true warrior, Haruka would fight with pride, if she chose that route.

Her transformation pen within reach, Setsuna stood firmly, waiting as time passed, watching Haruka's body language. The world had never laid eyes on Sailor Pluto, she could not transform, even if it meant engaging in a battle with Sailor Uranus, because the world could not know about Setsuna's existence. It was their greatest chance against the Black Moon, and if they could not win on their own, then Setsuna would be forced to seek out Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune to awaken Sailor Saturn. It was a very last resort, but Sailor Pluto could not let the Black Moon run free with time, not for any longer.

A solitary question from Haruka, Setsuna closed her eyes as she recalled the past. "If the three outer planets were ever to come together again, there would be absolute destruction, followed by a silence so strong that no one could ever properly describe it."

Sailor Saturn, the guardian of destruction and silence, she served only one purpose in the world, to end everything. She was the last resort, the ultimate fail-safe if ever their mission should fail. If the Princess were ever to fall, if Neo Queen Serenity never came about, then Saturn would need to be called upon, because without Neo Queen Serenity, there was no future for Earth, or the universe, at all.

A last act of a desperate queen, the Outer Senshi were summoned together to wake Saturn by Queen Serenity to restart the universe, because with destruction, always followed rebirth. The fallen Sailor Senshi only made their way to the new Earth because of the power of the Silver Crystal, and in this universe, it did not work. A summoning of Saturn at this point would end the universe, but the Senshi would not survive it this time, not at this moment anyway. Opening her eyes, Setsuna's attention remained locked on Haruka, watching once more.

"It is a great burden to bear, destruction, but rebirth always follows it."

Written by Eli
Who would have ever thought that the mention of destruction would give Haruka such immense relief? It was likely the first and last time that she was ever going to be able to say that.

There was no peace in her dreams. Nightmares plagued Haruka consistently, and though there was no pattern in the order in which they chose to appear in from what the blonde could tell, the dreams cycled between two very distinct memories. The first had happened in this lifetime, but the second...

Ever since her awakening, Haruka could remember everything from the Silver Millennium. Years upon years of dedicating herself solely to her duty, up until Saturn lowered her glaive and they were met with a bright, blinding light, and nothing but pain.

The experience had been horrible. Even now, those final moments still haunted her. She'd never wanted to go through that again.  Let alone get to the point where she was aiming towards it. But what other choice did they have? The earth was dying. They were criminals.

And finally, finally it appeared as though it was time for the third talisman to reveal itself.

After years of searching, Haruka would have never guessed that Pluto would be the one to find them.

Where the hell had she been?

She let out a shaky breath. Visibly, Haruka's posture relaxed. The racer hadn't realised how tightly her shoulders had wound up during their conversation until that very moment. The sudden lack of pressure was a relief. Her new found solace didn't bring the same comfort she received when the blonde was alone with Michiru, but it came pretty damn close. If Meioh Setsuna was Pluto – and she had to be, though every instinct she had told Haruka to tread lightly regardless – then they finally had found their third ally. The last piece to the puzzle.

They could finally end this.

Dread filled her stomach with nausea just at the thought of it. But Uranus knew her duty.

And with the Princess dead, what was the point anyway?

As far as Haruka was aware, the two of them should be safe speaking freely in the spectators box. There was no recording equipment here, no other observers in sight, and if her previous experience running in and out of the rooms while races and other events were going on suggested – were primarily soundproofed from outside ears.

However – they were still technically in public. It was that reason among others that the blonde couldn't convince herself to speak bluntly. There were too many variables; far too many unknowns.

But dammit, she hated speaking in riddles. Michiru was the poetic one. She was far better at being straightforward.

“And? Would you say it's finally time for those three planets to come together again?” Haruka couldn't help the slight twinge of annoyance that crept into her voice as she asked the question. The emphasis was clearly on finally.

How was she supposed to find peace in the idea of rebirth when this was the hand that fate had dealt them the second time around? Was it so much to ask for peace? To be happy?

All she'd wanted to do was protect their Princess with her own two hands.  

“Damn good job that did the last time, didn't it.”

She was only a little bit bitter.

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