2019-05-16 - Intermission 5: Promise of the World

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Intermission 5: Promise Of The World

Madoka meets Setsuna at her post. They discover more in common than they expected, but only one will remember it.


Madoka Kaname, Setsuna Meioh


The Time Gate

OOC - IC Date:

5/16/2019 - 06-02-2015

*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ Dimensional Space +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+
  Where the vast wonders of outer space extend in all directions within         
  Earth's primary temporospatial dimension, many other 'magical worlds' occupy  
  another dimensional space entirely. There are as many theories as to their    
  origin, 'true' location relative to the Earth, geography and greater meaning  
  as there are visitors to these realms. None are conclusive.                   
  Unlike Earth, Magical Worlds often utilize magic publically and prolifically  
  to improve their societies, though many remain feudalistic, and others        
  outright barbaric. When magic itself ceases to be secret, the necessity for   
  a magical girls identity to be hidden diminishes as well, and recognition     
  inhibition is weak or absent in many such worlds.                             
  Methods of travel between and within dimensional spaces are manifold. The     
  simplest are permanent portals, often attached to sites such as standing      
  stones, which can create bridges through space or time. Dimensional           
  transport spells can be invoked by more powerful magi, and at the extreme of  
  fancy footwork are entire mobile fortresses, from starships to floating       
  towers, that whisk whole families or armies between, and beyond, the stars.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"I want to erase every witch before they are even born! Every witch, from every universe, from every dimension, from every past, and every future. With my own hands. I don't care what I become. I don't want to let all those girls cry, all those Puella Magi who believed in their hope and fought against witches. All their friends who tried so much to help but could only win pain. I want them to live on with smiles on their faces. I will destroy the rules that prevent that. I will change them. This is my prayer. This is my wish. NOW -- fulfill it, INCUBATOR!"

Light is born...

...and blots out the whole world with whiteness...

...which, gradually, becomes just a little bit clammy, and more than a little bit familiar. It smells like nothing here. And it sounds like nothing, too. Most of all, this place that isn't, outside of time, is defined by absence.

There is one thing, here, though, in the endless fog.

No, there are two things.

One is tall, massive; the other is tiny and slight.

One is stone, and the other is flesh -- or at least spirit.

The pink of their hair is so terribly similar that it's possible to make the mistake for a single instant, but after that, there's no mistaking Madoka for who she is.

Madoka, in her school uniform, is leaning up against the Doors of Time -- back pressed against them, arms held in front of her, thumbs twiddling. One leg is straight, the other bent loosely.

She doesn't look bored; she looks patient, and thoughtful, and both wholly herself, wholly childish and little and ordinary, and wholly herself, wholly mature and composed and extraordinary.

There's a light behind her smile that just won't quit.

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Pluto [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

There is nothing so rare as a miracle, even in the lifespan of a timeless and Timesworn Guardian. Sailor Pluto's loyal heart beats quick and light with wonder, or...

Or she retains a sense of that heightened vibrancy, at least, an echo of that original brilliant light within her chest before it takes on a feel her bones know, before she inhales a scentlessness and before she feels a void's absent breath upon her bare arms and before a nothing she knows so well fills her ears.

One slow heartbeat and she opens her eyes to the mists which cradled her throughout solitary eons. She knows what else she will see, or thinks she does--

But starts as if she sees a ghost, then catches herself mid-happy stride forward, because that pink is not quite the same pink, those puffs of hair do not curl the same way. The Guardian of Time regards an ordinary girl -- an extraordinary girl -- framed by her solemn charge, and closes her eyes for the span of a slower heartbeat.

Then she strides forward to be received at her own place of power.

"Kaname-san," she says, quiet and sad. Pluto is not always those things, but they fit her as comfortably as her senshi silks. "You knew... but you made your wish even so. Your eyes open to the costs."

The wonder is still there, like a faint sheen upon her voice. "But you're smiling." The Outer Senshi knows the world to be full of terrible costs; those, she understands. The smile, she does not. It makes the mysterious and solemn Guardian of Time more unsure than the girl leaning up against the sacred Gate. "What does it mean, us meeting, here?"

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Madoka's smile widens until it threatens to fall right off her face; she is obviously and unselfconsciously happy to see the brave and stalwart and beautiful Sailor Pluto, to no longer be by herself in this lonely place.

She pushes herself upright, stands up straight and tall and glad, which means she comes up to Pluto's elbow or something.

Presence is the great leveler, however. It wasn't so long ago that she was a timid little creature, hesitant to show her sketchbook to a friendly stranger. Now there is not such a great distance between them. It might even be the other way around... there's a strength to Madoka, a strength of heart that pours right out of her eyes and off her lips and exudes from every pore in her skin, and it is both familiar and unfamiliar, natural and alien, if only because it's so different.

"You tell me," she replies, cheerfully and with a healthy dose of childlike wonder. "I have no idea where I am! Although," she glances at the Doors, and their engravings. "I'm guessing it has to do with your being the Space-Time Senshi," as she's heard the woman announce herself in battle, more than once.

One of her hands sneaks up to pick at the unclaimable tufts of hair that never stay tied up in her twintails for long, a slightly nervous tick. Not nervous that she's going to get hurt -- trust shines openly in her eyes, along with great affection. Nervous, perhaps, that she's hurt someone by accident.

That she's going to hurt Pluto, by asking.

Ah, she cares, so so much.

"What is this place... to you?"

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Pluto [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> The Flaming Lips - The Observer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkQ_3dV4utU

"This..." Time's Guardian considers, then finds a kind twinkle for her garnet eyes. That nervous gesture of Madoka's makes it easier, somehow, returns to Pluto some of her own steadiness. "This is the Time Gate, a place you are not allowed to be. Circumstances being... whatever they may be, I shall overlook your transgression, this once." The smile does not need to be on her lips to change her face.

But it is a deeper question than that, and she is full of deeper answers for it.

The tall senshi gives Madoka a quieter look, then, and strides up alongside her -- but facing past her, toward the lonely monolith. Simplest to build on what is already said.

"No one is allowed here but me. This," she does not choose the word 'home,' "is where I have spent almost all of my life. My sacred duty."

She reaches, and gloved fingers trace the perfectly circular outer edge of one of the many moon phases inscribed upon the Door. Crescent, waning. "I watched the world from here, rather than being of the world. I was meant to stay, but..."

But she came to the Tokyo of 21st century Earth, instead. "I'll come back. When my task is done." Her face is as grave as the great Gate, and there is no smile left on her face.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Madoka listens dutifully -- her eyes filling with both understanding and a taste of Pluto's own sadness.

She turns around, so that they're both facing the same way... and takes the closer of those great, gloved hands in her own. Clasps it -- clasps her -- gently, and warmly.

Her hands feel like twin suns, especially in as bleak a place as this.

"I guess," she says, at first hesitant but only with thought, and then more freely as she finishes shaping the thought, in much the same way that she shaped her wish, "That means that I'm here to apologize. Only now I need to apologize twice... I didn't mean for this to happen... for you to be drawn back here. But intent," she says with the wisdom of her Mama, "Is not what's important."

She looks up at Pluto with her great big eyes -- they're huge right now, with very real contrition and concern -- and the other woman gets the sense that she isn't seeing a soldier at all.

Only the girl inside the uniform.

"I'm very sorry that we're here, Sailor Pluto, where you least wish to be."

Her two hands squeeze Pluto's one.

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Pluto [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

That one large white-gloved hand is lighter than might be expected, caught between Madoka's smaller; after her fingers' stillness betrays her surprise, they curl, gingerly. Toward that utter refutation of cold.

Without changing her stance, Pluto turns her head to look Madoka's way. Her attention has a thorough quality to it, an intensity which something in her eyes softens.

More apologies from this girl who has already apologized too much, she thinks. Madoka gives her that look, with those eyes, and says what she says -- and Pluto feels her heart squeeze.

Her voice emerges more softly for it. "Please, Kaname-san. If you apologize to me, for this, then it is as if you take the weight of my waiting duty upon you, too. I could not in good conscience allow that, not when you have already taken on so much. So much..." The Wish; the Incubator's disbelief. "The scope evades even my perspective."

Even taking on the holding of a sad woman's hand is taking on a lot, to Pluto. "Where I wish to be does not matter as much as where I must be. My sisters understand. Some might not, but... I would not choose any other path." Acceptance is a stone in her, smooth and worn from handling. "What about you, Kaname-san?" And empathy is a well, still and deep.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Madoka considers Pluto's rebuke in a long and thoughtful silence... then nods.

"Mmm," she agrees, packing a great deal into a single syllable.

A great deal of respect.

A great deal of comprehension.

A great deal of compassion.

She does not apologize again.

She just looks back -- sharing hands, sharing hearts, sharing gazes.

A chord resonates between them silently, one Madoka never had a chance to know was there; one that Pluto never will remember.

"My road is easier," Madoka replies, after a time, after consideration. Earnest. Happy -- her unstoppable joy, overflowing gladness at her own choice, her own path, returning to the fore. It pours through her and between them.

"Because I will be exactly where I wished to be."

She nods a second time, making her twintails bounce.

"Where I must be -- it's the same!"

And she smiles, all for Pluto, as she realizes something important.

"We have the same wish, don't we? To protect the ones we love..."

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Pluto [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

To share this sort of understanding with another soul over the depths of duty is, for Pluto, surpassingly rare. Like miracles. It may even qualify as one, on a personal level.

It warms her, like a hand held between two others. It would sadden her, too, for Madoka's sake... if not for that smile, so luminous. Thanks to it, the gladness is shared between them, too. "After all that has gone before... it is good, very good, to know that your road is easier."

A deep inhalation brings the mists into her lungs. She nods, and her answering smile is a smaller thing, but it touches the corners of her eyes.

"Everything I do is for them. To keep them safe, to stand between my loved ones and whatever would threaten them. If I didn't know it was for the sake of protecting their smiles... the ones Small Lady makes when she thinks no one is looking, or the ones Kassie makes when she knows I am... the ones Haruka and Michiru share with each other. I don't know if I could do this. Any of it."

After a thoughtful moment, the one she shares with Madoka grows. "So perhaps intent has its way of mattering, after all, if only to the one with the intentions."

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Promise Of The World https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuhOUeZHEBo

Madoka is lying, about her road being easier.

Or maybe Madoka thinks she's telling the truth, but doesn't know any better yet.

This isn't Madoka at the end of her road, after all.

This is Madoka before she's set out upon it, just before.

But she's well past thinking about herself.

Madoka's heart pounds at Pluto's words, or perhaps it's the other way around; Pluto's words pound at Madoka's heart. Either way, she quickens. With breathless understanding -- and -- perhaps less predictably -- with excitement.

Her light within has begun to gleam without in an entirely new way.

Madoka knows a secret.

But she hasn't ever been any good at keeping secrets.

Not when they're hers.

Not when they're hers to share.

She stands on her tiptoes, and uses her leverage on Pluto's hand to lightly tug her down, enough that they can meet in the middle, lips to ear.

"By being in Tokyo, you already are where you must be. You're already there... on the path of your own choice, too."

She beams, and, coming down from her slightly precarious angle, says the rest out loud, sweetly, forthrightly... firmly. Let the fates hear it. Let them try to stand in their way, the way of two girls who wish to protect the ones they love.

"Believe in your choice, Sailor Pluto... let's believe in ourselves together!"

And then she lets go of the Guardian's hand --

-- and walks through the Doors of Time.

They didn't open. Sailor Pluto has not failed in her duty.

Madoka simply passed between them -- like a ghost, like a blithe spirit -- as though they weren't even there.

As she vanishes into the darkness, beyond... the light returns, and so does Tokyo.