The Wars of Light and Shadow
by E. Liddell


* * * * * * * *

She woke in darkness. That was becoming usual for her. Darkness and the sound of someone else's breathing. That was not so usual.

She remained there, lying on her back, as she tried to puzzle out what happened. I . . . died? Is this what death is like? Somehow, her view of the afterlife hadn't included lying naked on a hard bed that was already occupied by someone else. She stretched out her left hand and touched an arm. The skin was just a little too warm under her fingers. Nephrite?

"You're all right," his voice whispered out of the darkness as though in response. "We were so afraid . . . None of us had ever tried reviving someone before, and our memories were still too patchy to know for certain if we'd done it right."

"You did fine," she whispered back, running her hands over her body. She stopped. It felt wrong. "How long was I . . . ?"

"Dead? Almost two months. We were all exhausted, and then we had to find a . . . physical matrix . . ."

"Are you saying that you killed someone to bring me back to life?" Molly covered her face with an arm, even though she couldn't see anything.

"No, of course not."

And without being able to see his face, I can't tell if he's lying. I don't think I want to know. Ever. She rolled over and pressed her face against his shoulder.

"Why do I feel so strange?" she asked.

She could feel Nephrite's hand playing with her hair--longer than his, when had it had a chance to grow so much?--as he said, "You're older, that's all. About seventeen. Physically."

He turned so that they were facing each other and ran his hand along her side. It felt strange . . . good . . . right. She could even hear the laughter in his voice as he said, "And I think you're old enough now that I can show you what I was thinking about the last time we woke up this way."

* * * * * * * *

Somewhere far distant in time and space, another was also waking to darkness and strange surroundings. But he was alone.

The rock under him wavered in the dim light as he forced his eyes open, looking almost organic for a moment. Where am I? The last thing I remember is their blasted Center--what is his name? Malachite?--throwing me off the roof. The Ancient levered himself to his knees. Bizarre place. Looks almost like a throne room. Some several centuries after the king moved out, that is.

His chest ached. A delicate touch located a scar just below his left nipple, where Malachite's sword had gone in. Judging from what little I know of human bodies, that should have killed me. Why didn't it?

#I have a purpose for you yet.#

#Great One?# But the Eternal Light refused to respond. The Ancient shrugged and looked around, trying to force himself to take interest in his surroundings. Chances were that he would be here for a very long time.

* * * * * * * *

The Eternal Light turned its thoughts away from the Negaverse. The campaign had been a disastrous one, and all of its children were dead. All, except this strange new creature.

It would have to wait and see how successful the hybridization experiment would be.

* * * * * * * *

"Serena, I know she's dead, but lurking in your room isn't going to bring her back. It's been, what? Almost four months? You've got to try to start to live again."

"I know that, Darien, but . . ." Serena leaned back against her fiance's arm. But this is the first time that something in my life as a Sailor Scout has completely destroyed anything from my life before Luna found me.

A low-slung red car sped around the corner, weaving through a puddle from the morning's rain and spattering both of them with water.

"Somebody sure needs to get a license," Darien remarked.

The car pulled over to the curb in front of them, in front of a club that was quickly becoming one of the city's most popular night spots. The driver's door swung open, and a tall man got out. Nephrite. And dressed for a night on the town. He sure got over Molly fast enough. Even that thought--perhaps especially that thought--hurt.

The auburn-haired general stepped around the vehicle to open the passenger-side door and help a woman out. Wow, Serena thought. For someone like that, I'm not surprised. The stranger was tall, slender . . . beautiful, with long red hair that hung almost to her waist. I wonder if she's a model? She sure looks the part.

She had linked her arm with Nephrite's, and they were turning toward the door, when her gaze crossed Serena's and her eyes widened. Yellow eyes. Eyes that Serena couldn't help but remember.

Molly? the blonde girl mouthed, but the woman was already looking away. What happened to her?

I don't think I can tell the others about this. Not yet. Maybe it wasn't her. But in her heart of hearts, Serena was certain that it was.

"Come on," Darien said. He must have missed it all. "We'd never get in there, Meatball Head. It's way too expensive."

Serena grinned suddenly. She isn't dead. She isn't dead! A dark cloud seemed to lift away from her. "Let's go for a hot fudge sundae instead!"

"Okay," Darien said, "but don't expect me to roll you home when you get a stomach ache from too many sweets."

Serena giggled as they ran down the street together.

* * * * * * * *

The End (for now)

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