R: Well, here we are back again...
Z: And I got to be in this part!
R: Shut up, dear. As I was saying, here we are again. Sorry it took so long to get this part out, but we had finals and such - you know how it goes. ^_^
L: So I finally get a line, huh? You know, Andrew and I don't take up this much space in the disclaimer.
R: *growls* What she meant to say is that none of the characters of Sailor Moon belong to us, but some of the characters in this story do. Please don't use them without our permission.
L: No... What I said was that you're taking up too much room in the disclaimer with your mushy stuff! "Yes, dear. No, dear. Shut up, dear." Get over it!
R: *pouts* You're no fun...
L: Damn skippy! Now let's start this fic! And so, for your viewing pleasure this evening, we present to you the long-awaited Part 11 of Misdirections!
"Jupiter Thunderclap... Zap!!"
"Mars Celestial Fire... Surround!!"
Mars and Jupiter let their hands fall to their sides as they looked expectantly at the results of their work. They then dropped into a fighting stance, ready for whatever came next - and it attacked with a vengeance. Luna shook her head, "No, no, no girls! You don't wait for a lull in the fighting to attack! That's a good way to get yourselves killed! And now that you have these new powers, you have to learn how to fight all over again! Jupiter, this new power is more focused than your old one - that means you have to aim it!..." The lecture continued as Venus and Artemis giggled off to the side. Luna stopped her lecture and rounded angrily on Venus, "I wouldn't laugh if I were you - you're next!"
Sly let out a chuckle, "Would you listen to her? You'd think the Scouts were totally incompetent to hear her lecture!" He turned back to the two Moon Mages, "OK, Sapphire, Emerald, listen up. I know it's been 1000 years, so I expect that you're a little out of practice- "
Rusty coughed, "A little?? You weren't here when they transformed and ended up in the wrong uniforms!"
Lauren piped up, "Hey! We fixed it! We went to the bathroom and changed, and stuff - even though it was hard to get out of Renee's dress (it was a little tight...) - and it took us a while to remember how to put everything on - but we fixed it, and yeah..." she trailed off.
Rusty chortled, "Need we mention that you didn't need to take an hour and go to the bathroom, but merely needed to use your magic to switch uniforms?"
Renee tapped a finger to her chin, "You know Lauren, he does have a point..."
Lauren glared accusingly at her friend, "Who's side are you on??"
Sly growled, "Anyway, the point is that you're obviously out of practice and need to get back into the habit of using your powers. Sapphire - see that target? Good. Blast it."
Rusty perked his ears forward, "What in the world is that supposed to help them practice?"
Sly turned to the Dog and growled, "Look, fuzzball, you train your Mage and I'll train mine!"
Rusty bared his teeth, "Fine!"
Sly, not to be outdone, snapped, "Fine!"
Lauren interrupted, "Now that we've established that everything is fine, can I blast the target?"
Irritated at the interruption, both Guardians turned to Lauren and yelled, "Fine!!"
Lauren turned to the target, and using one finger, let loose a blast of power that rocked the very foundations of the Temple. It also blasted the target to smithereens. Everyone stopped moving. She turned back to Rusty and Sly and said, "If I hear the word 'fine' escape either of your lips, one more time..." she pointed at the target. All four Guardians put their tails between their legs and sat down meekly.
Lauren giggled and smiled impishly at Renee. She pointed at the two cats, dog, and fox, "Heehee - I scared 'em!"
Sly shook himself and stood up, "Right! Uh, I mean - Wrong! You didn't scare me," he took a moment to slick back his fur, "But, to continue - it is not necessary to shake the world around to destroy a single youma! That's what we call overkill, and you use up your reserves far too quickly - it's a very inefficient use of your energy." He nodded to emphasize the point.
At this point, the whole group heard a terrified shriek quickly approaching - they all readied their powers. Sailor Moon came running around the Temple, screaming her head off, and being chased by Mercury and Mask. Mercury was panting slightly as she clocked Serena on her computer. Might as well take advantage of the ridiculous situation and collect some data... She yelled out to Moon, "Sailor Moon! You're not supposed to run away when we attack you! You're supposed to return fire!"
Serena answered back with a wailing sob, "Darien, you don't love me anymore!!"
Tuxedo Mask let out a low groan, "Serena, I still love you, you meatballhead! We're supposed to be practicing! I had to throw the rose at you!"
Serena turned towards Darien from where she had hidden behind Renee and sniffled, "Do you really mean it, Muffin?"
Sly and Artemis started to make gagging sounds and were promptly whacked on the head by Lauren and Venus. Renee was busy making faces at the others - her dress was getting very wet where Serena's face was leaning against it. Darien gave her a wry smile as he stepped over to Serena and cupped her face in his hands. His eyes were shining with love, "Of course I love you, Serena - but we have to practice."
Serena felt her knees start to turn into mush and she collapsed into Darien's embrace, "Oh Muffin... I could never hurt you."
Darien held her close, "I know Serena, but you really need the practice." This opinion was quickly seconded by all of the Scouts and the two cats.
Serena pulled away from Darien, and she crossed her arms, slowly tapping her foot. She glared at the other Scouts and gave them her best icy stare. Rei, unperturbed, said, "Of Muffin, oh Muffin, oh mush! Serena, you know you need the practice - even when you're not running away, you can't shoot straight! Not only do you need work, you need glasses, spaghetti-for-brains!"
Serena turned her glare solely on Rei and asked pleasantly, "I do?"
Lauren looked over at Renee, Sly, and Rusty and pointed to a nearby rock, "Take cover - now?? Please??" They hastily agreed.
Serena yanked the Scepter out of her interdimensional pocket and ground out the words, "Moon Prism Elimination!" Several beams of light shot out from the scepter, instead of the usual one. The main beam made straight for Sailor Mars, while the others targeted everyone but the Mages and their Guardians. Everyone yelled, screamed, and did fairly good Serena imitations as they hastened to run away. Serena smirked, "Now what were you saying about practice?"
Renee turned to Lauren, a fierce expression of pride on her face, "We didn't give her that one, did we?"
Lauren smiled, "No... But I can honestly say that I'm impressed!"
Sly and Rusty solemnly nodded.
Serena smiled as her allies began to emerge from where they'd all bitten the dirt. She walked over to Darien (busy wiping off his white shirt), swinging her scepter lazily all the way. Darien looked up, pride in his Princess shining in his eyes. He held his arms open. Serena said merely three words to her dearest love, "Oh Muffin... Run." She raised the scepter, and he did just that.
Renee laughed and turned to Rusty, "Hey Rusty, you wanna see practice?" She snapped her fingers and two bags of popcorn appeared in her hands. She handed one to Lauren, as Darien ran by, screaming for help.
Lauren said, snidely, "Oh Darien, remember - the roses work better if you throw them!"
The two Moon Mages then settled down on the rock, contentedly munching their popcorn and enjoying the show.
The scene which laid itself out was a strange one. The Dark Mages stood in a circle around the Great Cavern, heads bowed and hands covering their faces. They were bent double, and from far away, they seemed to be deep in prayer or meditation. Zalisite was sitting cross-legged in the center of their circle holding a tom-tom in his lap. He was wearing naught but his uniform pants and streaks of multi-colored war paint. He presented quite an imposing sight with Faithful prancing around him, letting out tremendous war whoops every two steps.
As Faithful completed another circuit, Zalisite turned to the nearest of the Mages, "Now you're sure that Beryl used to do this all the time?"
The Mage, overridden with emotion at the glorious sight, barely managed to choke out a reply, "Oh yes, great Leader. All the time."
Mollified, but no less embarrassed, Zalisite turned back to his tom-tom. Faithful caught his eyes, and the evil look harbored in the dog's steady gaze promised retribution. He let out another whoop.
Shivering, Zalisite turned back to the Mage, "Now what is this supposed to do again?"
The other Mages could stand it no longer and fell to the ground, rolling in hysterical giggles. The Mage standing closest to Zalisite managed to gasp out, "Absolutely nothing! That's the beauty of it! We just wanted to see if you'd actually do it, oh Great Leader!" before she, too, collapsed into hysterics.
Zalisite slowly rose to his feet, clutching the tom-tom until his knuckles turned white from the strain. He stared down at the laughing Mage and pulled back his arm, launching the little drum at her with lethal force. She barely managed to get out of the way. Looking up, she saw all of Hell's Fury in Zalisite's eyes.
He ground out, "All right. I may be young, and I'll grant that I'm naive and inexperienced, but you have No Right to treat me with such flagrant disrespect!" By now, his voice had risen several decibels in volume, eerily echoing off the walls of the Great Cavern, "By rights, by law, by the fact that I am very ticked off right now, I am your "Great Leader"! So you get your lazy butts into that workroom and make me some decent youma before I send you to join my parents in the bowels of Hell!!" With that last comment, he turned on his heel and marched off towards his private quarters.
The Mages shared a glance with each other, still trying to take in what had happened. One commented, "You know, he looked kinda mad..."
Another answered, "He's starting to look more like his parents every day..."
A third shook her head, "Oh no. What we saw here, my fellow Mages, was the spitting image of Queen Beryl in a rage."
They shared another glance, the Red Mage finally summing up all their thoughts as she scrambled to her feet, "Maybe we should go make those youma, now..."
The others quickly rose, nodding their heads in agreement, "Something vicious, evil, quick, and lethal. We don't want to disappoint him after this..." They then collectively left the Cavern to do just that.
Zalisite paused in his vigorous toweling when Faithful walked into the room. Faithful jumped up onto Zalisite's bed and settled down, a look of quiet pride on his face. Zalisite resumed drying his hair - it had taken forever to get that ridiculous paint off. He walked back into the bathroom to fetch his comb, wondering what Faithful wanted.
Finally, Faithful couldn't stand the silence any longer and spoke, "You know, it's about time that you took those mages in hand! I mean, the things that they were getting away with were absolutely ridiculous! You can't let your underlings get the better of you, I always say. You know? Give 'em a city and they'll be asking for a planet before you know it! No decency, I tell ya! Anyway, next time - don't take so freaking long about it! Hey, boy - are you even listening to me?"
Zalisite put down his comb and slowly walked out of the bathroom, eyes calm, body relaxed. He raised an eyebrow at Faithful, "Am I listening?" He looked up, suddenly, twitching a finger. The vase of flowers by his bedside rose up and flew straight for Faithful's head. Fortunately for Faithful, he ducked, letting the vase smash into the wall. Zalisite advanced on the dog's position, levitating another vase as he walked. This one soon went the way of the first. Faithful was soon on the other side of the bed, attempting to calm his charge, But damn he can use his powers when he wants to!, "All right, Zalisite! You have to calm down! You do not want to start picking up this particular one of your Mother's bad habits! Zalisite! Put the bookcase down! Right now! I mean it!"
Slowly, sanity returned to Zalisite's eyes, and he let the bookcase fall to the floor. He turned to Faithful and pointed to the door, "Just get out."
Faithful's tail drooped to the floor and he hung his head, "All right. I'll leave. Just do me one favor, Zalisite - take a few hours and relax, OK? You really do need to calm down. You can't afford to let your temper rule your life - Zoisite did, and look where it got her!" Before Zalisite could deliver an angry retort, Faithful scooted towards the door, "I know, I'm leaving. Just - go have fun, or something. You need it." He then left the room, tail dropped between his hind legs.
Zalisite sighed, and ran his fingers through his long blond hair. He glanced over at the picture by his bedside. The gold frame was exquisitely designed, and the two people in the photo looked happy. Imagine, Malachite and Zoisite happy. Almost an impossibility. They lived for their love, their life together. When they started to live for Beryl, that was what destroyed them.
Suddenly, Zalisite felt another rush of anger run through his system. He glared at them, and whispered, "I never wanted this. I never wanted to be the leader of anything. I didn't even want to be PART of your war with the Scouts. But no one EVER asked me what I wanted... ever..."
He went to his closet, throwing clothes on, still speaking in low, frustrated tones, "First it was you two, grooming me to be General. Then Faithful took over when you were gone. Then these damned Dark Mages showed up. And they all, you two included, all wanted something from me. Well you know what I want? I want to know when it ends."
He stood, dressed in jeans, his brown loafers, a long-sleeved, white shirt, and his leather jacket. He gazed at himself in the mirror, hanging on the closet door. He whispered quietly, "When does Zalisite get to make his own decisions? Stand on his own two feet?" He opened a portal with one hand through the mirror. He glanced at his parents, and finished, "When do I get to live my own life?"
Then he disappeared through the mirror itself.
Renee looked up from where she was throwing lightning bolts at a series of targets. She sighed heavily, This is boring! Rusty glanced up in her direction and frowned, "What's the matter? You were doing fine?"
Renee sat down on the ground and rested her chin in her hands, "I'm so bored. I already know how to do this - it's a waste of my time, and my energy. We should be planning for the next attack, or something."
Mina giggled, "Wow. Was Renee actually trying to be serious?"
Amy interrupted, "I suppose that she's entitled to her moments of gravitude, just like Serena."
Renee fumed silently, "What exactly are you implying? I'm intelligent! I'll have you know that I carry a 3.5 GPA!"
Lauren snickered, "But you're also flaky! Who left the remote control on top of the TV, then proceeded to look for it everywhere but there?"
Renee blushed, "But, I- "
Lauren bore on, "And who keeps having giggle fits every time someone sweatdrops?"
Renee looked down, "Well, I just think- "
Lauren snorted, "You think? You're intelligent? Let me submit to the court that you're the one who was flirting with the enemy! Is that intelligent?"
As all the Scouts stared at Lauren in disbelief, Renee surged to her feet, "I didn't know that he was the enemy!"
"No, you just knew that he was tall, blond, and cute! Goddess knows, your moronic hormones could have gotten us killed!" Lauren answered, becoming even more incensed as she got into the argument.
Lita frowned, "Tall?"
Amy raised an eyebrow, "Blond?"
Mina shrieked, "Cute??"
Rei yelled, "You were flirting with that new General!!!"
Renee stared at the bunch of them, not quite knowing what to say. She wasn't even sure how they'd gotten onto this topic in the first place. She turned her eyes to Serena and Darien, the only two who hadn't spoken. Their eyes were full of some strong emotion. Serena stepped forward, "Is it true? What she said?"
Renee nodded, "Well, I suppose... I didn't know that he was the enemy, though! I didn't find that out until later!"
Lauren had her arms crossed, "Yeah, but even when you found out, you didn't want to accept it..."
Renee turned back to her, "But I did, didn't I? And isn't that what's important? Besides, he seemed like a really nice guy! What if he doesn't mean to be evil? You know, like the Four Sisters!"
Darien frowned, "Well, there's no proof to show that that's the case..."
Renee whipped her head around, "But there's no proof to show that it isn't, either! How can you judge him so quickly?"
Lauren laughed shortly, "Simple. He wears a grey General's uniform and he tried to kill us. If that doesn't say "bad guy", then I don't know what does..."
Renee stared at them all again, "I don't believe this... Everyone can be serious but me. Everyone can chase after guys but me. Everyone can make decisions about who I'm allowed to talk to, and who I'm allowed to see, but me. Who died and left you in charge of my life?"
Rusty moved as if to speak, but Renee made a chopping motion with her hand, "No. I don't want to hear it. Just leave me alone. Right now, I don't want to talk to any of you." Before any of them could forestall her, she raised her hands and disappeared in a flash of green light.
She next appeared in the middle of the park. When she realized where she'd teleported to, she tossed her head back and yelled at the top of her lungs, "Enough with the damned clichés!!!" Chest heaving, and eyes glazed, she dropped down to the ground.
A quiet voice spoke up from the trees, "If I had to guess, I'd think you were a little angry..."
Renee blushed and surged to her feet, shifting into normal clothing as she stared around at the undergrowth. She knew that voice...
Zalisite stepped out of the woods and leaned against a nearby oak. He crossed his arms over his chest and gave Renee a sad smile, "So you're a Moon Mage, huh?" He shook his head, "Of all the people I could have fallen in love with, you'd have to be a Moon Mage..." He cocked an eyebrow as he examined her clothes, "But why the change? The dress looked fine..."
Renee turned away from him, "And why aren't you in your General's uniform?"
Zalisite smiled a little, "It's a uniform." At Renee's answering giggle, he said, "Oh - I see. That's your uniform..."
She turned back to him and nodded. Her eyes suddenly widened and she backed away from him, "We can't do this... It's not right! You're a - and I'm a - we just can't!"
Zalisite frowned a little, "Why do we always have to do what's right? I want to do what I want, for a change! And what I want is to get to know you."
Renee shook her head, "You don't get it! I almost got disowned by the Scouts for talking to you the other day! You're evil! This whole thing is just sick! I can't be in love with you - it doesn't work that way!"
Zalisite refused to rise to the bait, "You're in love with me?"
Renee growled at him, "That isn't what I said!"
Zalisite stepped away from the tree and walked towards her, "But I'm willing to hazard a guess that it's what you meant."
Renee stared at him for a moment, then let out a little scream, "And with the clichés again! This is starting to feel like Romeo and Juliet!"
Zalisite smiled, "One of the classic pieces of Earth literature. By a man named Shakespeare, I believe. My mother was quite fond of it." He thought for a moment, and his smile widened, "Now that you mention it, it is rather appropriate... Though I do hope that you don't kill yourself over this."
Renee blushed, "You... Argh! You are so frustrating!" She backed up again, then shook her head, "OK. You want to get to know me?" At his nod, she crossed her arms, "Fine, then. Why don't you start by telling me your name?"
Zalisite leaned forwards to snag one of her hands, then bent to kiss it as he'd seen his father do. His twinkling eyes raised to meet hers, "Zalisite."
She pulled her hand back and cleared her throat, "Well, it's nice to meet you, Zalisite. My name is Renee." She fell silent.
Zalisite held his arm out to her, "Would you like to go for a walk, my lady?"
Renee hesitantly slipped her arm through his, "OK. I suppose that would be a good next step." She lapsed into silence again, still not quite sure why she was doing this. She cleared her throat again, "So, where's your dog?"
Zalisite frowned, "Faithful and I had a fight. I'm not talking to him at the moment."
Renee surprised him by giggling, "Sounds familiar... I had a major spat with just about all my friends, today."
Zalisite shook his head in amusement, "My, my. Coincidence upon coincidence. Maybe we were fated to meet like this."
Renee said, "It's a nice thought, but I don't believe in fate. Every person is responsible for their own destiny."
Zalisite looked at her, "I wish I could say that. But my life has been far too often governed by that force. Or rather, I find that my life is governed by others who seem to think they know what's best for me."
Renee smirked, "And you allow them to do this? Why?"
Zalisite stopped walking and stared at her, "Well, I don't know really. I don't like it that way, but they don't give me a choice."
Renee shook her head, "Uh-uh. Doesn't work that way. If you want to make your own decisions, you have to do it, and not worry about what everyone else will say. Whether they give you a choice or not, doesn't matter. Get it?"
Zalisite smiled slightly, "I suppose. So, I guess that means that you don't think I'm evil?"
Renee let go of his arm and took a step back, "That depends on you, Zalisite. Entirely on you. Not me, not anyone else."
Zalisite took a step closer to her, again closing the distance. He put his hands on her arms and bent his head towards hers. He whispered, "You could help me..." He slowly became aware of how rigid her muscles her under his hands. He frowned and pulled his head away. When he caught sight of her white rimmed eyes, he felt his heart sink. He said, "What's wrong?"
Renee grabbed his shoulders and wrenched him around to face the opposite direction, "That!" Zalisite's own eyes went wide when he saw the youma snarling in front of them - the Dark Mages had outdone themselves with this creature. He stood seven feet tall, a black snarling mass of muscle. His only visible weapons were razor sharp talons on his hands, and two overly long fangs. His eyes glowed a bloody crimson color. Zalisite stepped protectively in front of Renee and slowly ground out, "Those Mages have the worst sense of timing I have ever seen. I'm gonna have to kill one of them for this..."
They both shifted into their uniforms and readied their powers. Emerald tossed out a sarcastic comment, "Oh yeah, you Generals sure know how to treat a lady, all right."
Zalisite declined to comment as the youma slowly advanced - their deaths in his eyes.