The Crystal Weaver Saga: An Ill Fate Marshalling
by E. Liddell


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December 2, 2989AD

It's good to be home again, I thought, leaning against Nephrite's chest with a sigh.

<<Mom!>> an indignant voice chided inside my mind. <<You're squishing my foot!>>

<<Sorry,>> I replied, and straightened up. Marcasite was still glaring at me from his perch on his father's shoulders. He wouldn't be getting many more piggy-back rides after this. At the age of four months, he and his twin were already the size of a pair of human four-year-olds.

Morganite tugged at my hand. <<How much farther is it?>>

As I told him, I asked Nephrite privately, <<Why did I ever think it was a good idea to walk?>>

He smiled. <<I think you were feeling nostalgic. Next time we'll teleport. Or drive.>>

<<Not with you at the wheel!>> I replied.

There had been real changes in Tokyo over the six months of our absence. The first tower of the crystal palace was already visible against the downtown skyline, and the rubble left behind by the two planes that had fallen on the city center when the ice spell hit had been cleared away. Still, for the most part, it looked the same.

I had to carry Morganite up the stairs when we reached our destination. Precocious though they might be in some ways, the accelerated physical development of our twins meant that their motor skills didn't match those appropriate for children of their apparent ages.

Nephrite, who had his hands free, rang the doorbell.

"Who is it?" asked the voice from inside. Just the way that she always had.

"It's us!" I replied.

The door swung open.

"Kids," I said aloud, "this is your grandma."

My mother smiled at us all as she waved us inside. "I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever see any of you anywhere except on the TV screen."

Morganite made a face. The twins had been media personalities since before they were born--the reporters had latched onto them as a "human interest" story to make Crystal Weavers seem more "normal"--and they both hated it.

"It was all we could do to keep the cameras out of the delivery room," I admitted. "But you've probably been hearing about us all the time. How have you been?"

I'd barely even dared to hope for this time during the months of intensive work we'd put in to help get the world back in shape, but Mom and the twins were really hitting it off. She had her family. At last.

And so did I.

* * * * * * * *

General Cuprite
April 21, 2994AD

Staffless and unable to navigate properly, I staggered back out of the Timestream considerably later than I had intended. Fortunately, no one seemed to care.

<<You're back!>> Avi grabbed me and whirled me around in something that was almost a dance. <<I was almost beginning to get worried!>>

<<How did the war go?>> I managed to ask. <<And where is everybody else?>> I hadn't expected to find the throne room completely deserted except for the two of us.

<<We won. Of course. And the others are . . . resting. Or not, as the case may be. In fact, I could do with a little of the "or not" myself. Are you coming?>>

I smiled. Hardly surprising that the people here would feel a need to celebrate life after being a part of the death that had been stalking the streets of Crystal Tokyo before I left. No, the twins and young Opal, Sapphire's daughter, were the only ones likely to actually be sleeping. Well, maybe Pyrope and Demantoid. As far as I knew, neither of them had anyone to spend the evening with.

<<In a moment, love,>> I told her. <<I have something that I have to do.>>

I could have teleported from the throne room to my modest quarters, but I chose to walk instead. The halls were deserted. Apparently even the youma were . . . resting.

The staff stood in its usual place beside the bed. The artefact had had a long journey--back a thousand years through time, then forward again in my hands. It was time, now, to return it to its proper master.

They'd chosen to accommodate her at Nephrite's, rather than in the Negaverse proper. I teleported into the little ground floor room and strode forward to place the staff beside her on the bed. Sailor Pluto's good hand curled loosely around it, and I think she smiled. I wondered if she had woken up yet at all. Most of the bandages that had been there before I left were still in place. Wise Man had ripped her up pretty badly before she had escaped.

My hands felt empty as I backed away again. Only a loan, I reminded myself. Never more than that. I'd taken it from her limp, unresisting fingers as she collapsed at my feet, not intending to do more than keep it safe until she could accept it back. And then the Dark Moon attack had devastated Crystal Tokyo, and I had finally understood.

Guess I'll just have to find something else to fill my hands with, I thought, and left in search of Aventurine.

* * * * * * * *

September 14, 3043AD

What happened?

Something was . . . not wrong, exactly, but different. I could feel it. I kept my eyes tightly closed and gave no sign that I had returned to consciousness. There might be enemies all around me.

Where am I? The last thing I remember is Wise Man . . . Wise Man . . . I faltered, realizing exactly what that memory meant. I'm dead. But then what am I doing here? I certainly seem to have a body. Someone must have revived me somehow, but who and why? Malachite? I seemed almost to vaguely remember a brilliantly lit room, and the King of the Negaverse facing off against Wise Man . . .

<<Diamond? Brother?>>

My eyes flew open. <<Sapphire?! But you're dead too! Your body fell apart in my arms!>>

<<I was dead,>> he corrected gently. <<I'm very much alive now, and have been for more than fifty years.>> He self-consciously adjusted his blue-trimmed grey collar and smiled at me, or tried to. <<Malachite and the others brought me back.>>

<<Fifty years! Then why has it taken so long for you-->> I gritted my teeth and ended the question in mid-sentence. I didn't want to know the answer. The only possible one that I could think of would have meant that my brother had betrayed me, for real this time. Perhaps he had anyway. He was wearing the uniform of the Negaverse, which had been the enemy.

He closed his eyes. <<Neo-Queen Serenity requested that you not be revived during her lifetime. In the interests of not making relations between Crystal Tokyo and the Negaverse more strained than they already are, King Malachite decided to comply with her request. I did the best I could, but how was I supposed to argue with a man who's more powerful even than you? So instead, I waited.

<<I think the hardest part was watching our attack happen all over again, from the point of view of the defenders this time, and not being able to do anything to change the outcomes of our actions or even spare you a little pain. You have no idea how much I've missed you.>>

I didn't know what to tell him. I just didn't. Except . . .

<<I've missed you, too,>> I admitted.

Maybe it wasn't the reunion either of us had been hoping for. But it was enough.

* * * * * * * *

The Doom Phantom
c. 3100AD

It was truly disgusting.

Even bound as I was, I could see into the Negaverse, or at least the fringes of it. Under Malachite, the Crystal Weavers were flourishing. And multiplying, damn it! There was Prince Diamond, irritating thorn in my side that he had always been, wearing a white- trimmed uniform, in conference with his niece and nephew. Jasper--Damn him eternally!--and the Weave that he now Centered were being coached in battle technique by the elder Crystal Weaver, Demantoid. And there were more than a dozen others, all going about their daily lives in perfect contentment.

I raged. I hurled insults through the aethyr. But I knew as I did that both activities were futile. The wards kept me from harming them.

I would have to keep a careful eye on the state of Malachite's health, but I wasn't optimistic about my chances for freedom. In ten thousand years, I would most likely still be trapped here, brooding.

How I envy them!

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