When SunTzu left Bel Iblis's Fleet after twelve hours he was beyond disappointed, there hadn't been a counter attack, not even preparations for one. He jumped back to Ansion, feeling defeated and useless. Not that the assembled ships could have started much of a counteroffensive against a whole Yuuzhan Vong Domain but maybe the attack would have been enough to make time to evacuate the remaining survivors. Being only a few hours away and not being able to do anything had weighed him down even more.
He had been on standby to immediately commence fighting for the whole twelve hours, apart from a single break of a few minutes to stretch out his legs.
As soon as he was in hyperspace he tried to fall asleep, but nightmares woke him up every time he tried to. Finally he began to practice a few Jedi mediation technics and fell asleep with the thought of Rei in his mind.
When he woke up again, halfway refreshed but his stomach growling, he was just minutes away from Ansion.
“I see you finally got some sleep in.” AICA told him, as he opened his eyes.
“Yeah, finally. Where are we?”
“5 Minutes and 32 seconds before we arrive at Ansion.”
“Really?” He slept way longer than he thought. “That’s great. Is the Taskforce waiting for me?”
“Negative, the Taskforce moved on, shortly after arriving here. But we got some new orders, delivered when we left Bel Iblis’s Fleet, from the Neo Queen herself.”
“Really? What are those orders?”
“Transport and PSD for a certain high ranking member of the Diplomatic Service.”
SunTzu’s lips curled into a half smile, hopefully the high ranking diplomat would be okay with that as well.
“Does the VIP know, that it’s us two picking her up?”
“Affirmative, the VIP just contacted me as well and told me to tell you to contact her as soon as you are in system. It seemed to be important.”
SunTzu thought about it for a moment, if Rei didn’t want to see him she would have made that clear.
A few minutes later AICA fell out of Hyperspace and SunTzu called Rei via Holo.
“Hey.” She took the call.
“Are you okay?” Both said at the same time and both had to smile shyly.
“I had better days to be honest. But I’m glad to hear your voice. And you?” SunTzu said.
“I guess we all have seen better days. Did something happen over at the other Fleet?”
“No, I just waited for 12 hours to do something but apparently nobody gives a shit about Rago.”
A short silence followed.
“As expected. Unfortunately.” The Senator sighed before she continued. “Listen, I’m pretty much done down here, just a last meeting tomorrow morning. I’m in the capital, why you don’t get here and have dinner. When was the last time you had a proper meal? And slept in a bed?”
And now SunTzu had to really smile, a genuine meal and a night in a real bed sounded wonderful. And maybe it would get even better.
“I’m on my way. You do join me for dinner, right?”
“I was hoping so.” Rei replied with a certain insecurity in her voice. “Listen, come here and let us enjoy our evening, get our minds off of the last few days a bit. Just the two of us.”
“Sounds great, I’m on my way.” A brief moment of silence followed before SunTzu continued. “I missed you.”
“I missed you too, TopGun. I really did. And I hope you’re still fit enough for passionate make-up-sex after dinner, because I need to feel you as close to me as possible.”
Ansion Flight Control hectically came in on SunTzu’s tactical comm channel as AICA suddenly accelerated like crazy and rocketed towards the capital.
It was late at night at Ansion’s capital and in Rei’s guest room inside the Presidential Palace, SunTzu was gently stroking the long, raven wave of hair that fell over Rei’s back. Rei was already sleeping, she had fallen asleep just after a few seconds of listening to the for her ever so calming beat of his heart.
Rei had met him at the landing spot they had assigned him at the Palace and the first few minutes between the lovers had been awkward and rather taciturn, as she guided him into the room, so SunTzu could have a shower and change clothes.
He was finishing putting on one of his uniforms while she silently watched him, sitting on the bed as he turned around.
“I’m sorry, that all this happened.”
“Me too.” Was her short but honest answer and within an instant he was in front of her and they both had embraced each other, each one fighting not to cry over the immense negative feelings that weighed both of them down.
After what seemed an eternity they broke their hug and decided to finally get some dinner. Both decided to not talk about their fight anymore but rather enjoy their time together, after all, because of the war, nothing was promised anymore. Rago just had shown that very clear.
Caressing her hair while she was sleeping, SunTzu thought about that in the next few days the engagement ring should be done and how much he wanted to ask Rei for her hand in marriage. He had felt defeated, bested, his last believes in the good things of this Galaxy finally completely blown to pieces on Rago, but as soon as Rei was back in his arms he felt a purpose again, a reason to be. He couldn’t wait for the day to propose to her. And then he fell asleep as well, sensing Rei on his chest, and her closeness finally relaxed him to sleep in peace and without nightmares.
She had needed her Head of Intelligence or rather the funds of the black budget the Head of Intelligence had at her disposal and it had been a major pain in the ass to make it clear to her Chief Official and his staff, but in the end, Neo Queen Serenity II., Ruler of the Moon and Crystal Tokyo, as well as acknowledged ruler of Planet Earth and the Sol System by the Galactic Alliance of Free Systems, had made it possible that housing for tens of thousands of refugees could be built. Neo Queen Serenity had known that the war would bring refugees and so the young queen made sure that Crystal Tokyo was prepared. And it wasn’t just makeshift housing but real apartments in real houses. The small nation could make use in the newly available manpower as well. When Mamoru’s and the Royal University’s plans for a new, green and clean drop-in propulsion for vehicles would finally be in full-scale manufacturing, they would need workers. And salary people and more employees in the tertiary econcomical sectors as well. Not to mention the other economical sectors and the military. Although Crystal Tokyo already was a social melting pot with people from all over the Planet changing their citizenship into the Utopia’s one, most Earthlings were still reluctant to follow and join the dream yet. Maybe individuals from half the Galaxy away, that had lost everything but gained another chance on Crystal Tokyo, would make an example that lead more earthlings to follow them.
So while Taskforce Sol, it’s Flagship, the Gladiator-Class Star Destroyer Far Side and it’s three accompanying Corellian Corvettes of various types, along with one of Crystal Tokyo’s newly acquired Star Galleons, descended onto the Taskforce’s Base near the Palace of Crystal Tokyo, they were already awaited. Lines of ambulances, buses and trucks, along with other vehicles, stood ready to bring the refugees of Rago, the one's that had decided to come to Earth, around 16.000 in total, to their new homes or to the hospitals of Crystal Tokyo.
The flags over Crystal Tokyo were flying on half mast as the ships descended onto the island containing the kingdom.
What nobody expected was that the Taskforce and the Refugees would be greeted by it’s Galactic Senator and the Queen’s First Knight, both dressed completely in black, as sign of their condolences.
They had skipped past the rest of Taskforce because of AICA’s newest quirk. Being totally amazed by her two wingwomen and how they discovered the Hyperlane to Coruscant, she had begun to search for unidentified Hyperroutes or faster jumps on existing ones. She’d never use a risky one, especially with someone onboard but just when Rei and SunTzu were about to jump from Ansion to Coruscant, talking about that they missed Artemis’s radio show last night onboard the Far Side, the AI came in and told them that she had found better navigational data the last time they went to Ansion and that they could use it to save time.
In the end they were at earth three hours before the Taskforce and Rei could even brief the Diplomatic Service about the amounts of work which was laying before them.
The Inner Circle of the Taskforce was pretty surprised to see the couple standing next to each other, hands intertwined, near the Far Side’s landing spot.
The Senator had also brought the news, that the government-in-exile of Rago had begun it’s work with her.
It was at least some relieve for the evacuees from Rago, that the young Queen and further on, her Inner Circle, the Princess and the members of the Taskforce hadn't spoken empty words when they gave them hope. They were welcomed with open arms and as soon as their paperwork on Earth was done, the first of them were on their way to their new housing.
The Royals, the System’s Senator and the other high ranking members of the Kingdom wished the refugees welcome, while they were getting ready to leave for their new places, hoping that a fresh start could at least help them loose their pain and sorrow a tad bit, while the wounded Ragonians were already brought on their ways to the hospitals.
Soon SunTzu helped with the uneasy task of bringing children, all of them orphans now, to a line of busses, who would bring them to a specially built orphanage.
Some of the kids did, fully or at least partially, understood what happened to their parents and the crying and looks on their devastated little faces probably would haunt the pilot for ever. But he couldn't let the children see his own heartbreak.
Makoto and Hotaru helped him in this task, although he had tried to sent them away, but both had told him, that they knew better than anybody else how these kids were feeling.
Bringing these kids, their age ranging from the baby Makoto had rescued and this time again carried with her, to teenagers.
“Me and Kenji always wanted kids, but couldn’t get into it yet. I’d adopt this one here on the spot if it wasn’t for my duty in this war.” The brunette Special Forces Captain told the pilot while she carried the baby and he had a little, olive skinned, dark haired girl, maybe five years old, sitting on his shoulders, on their way to the waiting busses.
Rei had told him she would be busy and after working until late at night at least, might go home to the Shrine, seeing how her grandfather and the Koronians were, before they had parted and he helped with the orphans.
It was okay for him, he didn’t want her to see him or sense him that down inside.
Tonight screams for a drink.
Haruka had helped with the embarking of families that had lost family members and she apparently had the same thought when she walked over to a smoking SunTzu as the last busses left while the November sun was slowly sinking over Tokyo.
From her empty gaze, as empty as his was, SunTzu immediately knew that she also needed a cigarette and as she she came closer he extended cigarette etui and lighter to her.
They were smoking in silence, watching the busses disappear and were almost done with their cigarettes when Haruka finally said something. Both really needed a drink.
“9pm, your place, no girlfriends. Michiru is staying with Hotaru, as Setsuna will be busy in the med bay.”
Haruka arrived with british punctuality and when SunTzu opened the door she was dressed in a navy colored army sweater, white shirt underneath and jeans, as he had been waiting for her in flannel shirt and jeans. Both were wearing tactical boots and of course both did carry concealed guns for safety, this time nobody would fly through a window.
The friends greeted each other with their special handshake. Their moods weren’t pretty high, both of them needed to have a drink. A stiff one to be precise.
“Figured we have a drink before we head out.” Haruka said.
“So, drinking before we head out for drinking?”
“That’s what I love about you, priorities always set right.”
Her lip twitched for the blink of an eye.
“Mate, I wanna get so pissed that I forget the last week and wake up after a two-days-bender on a naked Michiru’s tits.” SunTzu nodded approvingly. “Wouldn’t mind the same on Rei’s comfortable pair of boobs but I guess she’s too busy for me the next few days. Well at least trying to fill up the emptiness inside with warming liquor could help until then.”
“Bout that Mate, brought something to warm us up from inside.” She held up a gift bag and produced the packaging of a bottle of a Yamasaki Single Malt, 12 years old.
“You shouldn’t have Sis, some cheap vodka would have been enough to start getting wasted.”
“It’s a gift Bruv. For saving Michiru and me, back there.”
“You’d done the same. Also it wasn’t technically me saving you, AICA took the shot.”
“Well, since AICA doesn’t drink, as far as I know at least, I guess you have to drink that stuff.”
“Thanks Haruka.” They shook hands and he took the bottle out of it’s packaging.
“Now, you just gonna look at it or we’re getting drunk tonight?”
SunTzu nodded over Haruka's remark and walked over to the kitchen counter to fetch two glasses.
He came back and put them on the table at the sofa, before he opened the Whisky and filled them up, handing one glass to Haruka.
“To Marvin. And to Rago. And to everybody else that we couldn’t safe.”
“Toast to that.” The friends clinged their glasses and each drank a big sip.
After another glass they took a cab and went to a pub somewhere in Shinjuku and extended their drinking streak, sitting at the counter. Haruka made the order.
“Listen Governor, bring us each a pint every ten minutes, until I say faster.”
The barkeeper was intimated but did as he was told.
Two hours later the pride of Crystal Tokyo’s and the Galactic Alliance’s Starfighter Corps both wavered out of the pub and down the street, holding onto each other to keep walking straight.
After some street food on a stick the two moved on to the next bar.
The two pilots stayed out until dawn and then took a taxi back to SunTzu’s place, where both of them fell in his bed.
At noon they were woken up by the vibration of SunTzu’s phone.
“For God's and Queen’s sake Mate, turn that off!” Haruka’s hoarse voice came in from the other side of the bed when SunTzu tried to grab the phone on the night stand with eyes still closed. He knew if he would open them it would mean pain so he choose to let his tactile sense do the search.
Finally the Bavarian found the phone and took the call, noticing that he was still anything but sober.
“Konnichiwa TopGun! Glad that you finally decided to pick up your phone.”
“Rei?” And immediately he was sober.
“Yes, the one and only. Rei, your girlfriend if you still remember about that. Since I haven’t heard from you since yesterday I decided to check up on you, while I found a second to breathe in my work. Not that you could have shot a text at least.”
“Sorry, you seemed so busy and I didn’t want to disturb you. How are you?”
“Tons of work, but it’s for a good cause so it’s manageable. How about you? Where are you?”
“I’m still in bed.” Next to him Haruka growled and put her pillow onto her head.
“What was that?”
“Oh, don’t mind. That’s just that blonde tomboy i took home with me yesterday night after absolutely getting smashed with her.”
“Yeah, I heard about that from tomboy’s girlfriend. That’s why I called in as well, to check if you guys are still alive. Tell Haruka to better turn on her phone and answer Michiru if she doesn’t want to permanently stay in your apartment.”
“Hold on a sec.”
SunTzu ripped the pillow from above Haruka’s head.
“Ey Tommy, call your girlfriend. She’s been trying to reach your drunk ass!”
“Wot da fuck!?” Haruka protested and bolted up. “What’s wrong with you, you sausage eating, Volkswagen driving cunt?”
SunTzu just held a finger up to motion her to wait and got back on the phone.
“Message delivered.” And then he continued to talk with Rei, while Haruka shot him an angry glare.
“When do I see you today?”
A pause followed.
“I’m sorry, I don’t think I have the time today. Soon as I’m done here, I’ll need to head to the Shrine and help with the books there. Nobody, except me, is really understanding about that anymore.”
“Oh. What about sneaking into my bed at night?”
“I really wish I could and I really wouldn’t mind your tender care after a long day, but I will probably collapse on the spot after finishing today. I’m sorry, I really am.”
“It’s okay. Tomorrow then.”
“Uhm, I can’t promise things, but I see what I can do. Anyways, I gotta get back. I shoot you a message when I can. Cure your hangover, TopGun.”
“Will do. Good luck with work.”
“I’ll do my best. Hey SunTzu?”
“I love you.”
“I love you too Rei.”
With that the call ended and SunTzu put the phone back down.
He and Haruka were back to back on arched backs in the bed now. For a minute nobody said a word, as Haruka tried to wake up and SunTzu was just thinking about some things.
Suddenly he asked Haruka something.
“Hey Haruka, are you feeling any better now? You know mentally?”
“Not as much as i had wished for.” Came the answer after a moment of reflection.
Another moment of silence followed.
“Hey SunTzu, you remember what you told me yesterday?”
“About Rei and Michiru? Sorry, I was fucking drunk.”
“What? No, not that. Bloody hell, as I said already, I totally share your opinion on that. Sex between these two would be the fucking pinnacle of erotic aesthetics. If there would be a video of it, I’d fucking do myself to it so hard for days. But no. I mean about that ring. You said you’re grabbing an engagement ring for Rei tomorrow.”
SunTzu turned around and was lying on his back now, his arm under his head, looking at the ceiling.
“I didn’t tell anyone about it but you so far.”
Now Haruka turned around and faced him.
“I wish you guys would have had the chance to experience a regular relationship in peacetime, at least partially.”
“Who knows, maybe normal wouldn’t work for us. But thanks. You do know I’ll need a best man also.”
Haruka’s lip showed a half smile for a second before she moved closer to SunTzu and clinged her head on his.
“War or not, you girls gave me everything I could wish for.”
“Speaks for your quality as a human.”
Staying in their position their hands reached out for each other and they pulled close for a hug.
They stayed like that for a moment before Haruka sat up.
“I’ll better call Michiru up now, I guess Rei wouldn’t like it, if you suddenly had a room mate. Especially since you guys probably will get married soon."
Both friends shot each other a smile.
A shower and some coffee later Haruka was on her way to go, the Uber was already on it’s way.
“You’ll be good, Ruka?”
“I’ll try to fill the rest of the emptiness inside me with ravaging Michiru. Might wanna do the same with Rei, being as close as you can with the one you love helps a lot. But you know that already.”
“Yeah, I know. But Rei’s too busy the last few days and counting.” SunTzu said with a grin.
“Too bad. What also helps me a lot to keep me sane is going for rides. Bike, Car, Voyager, doesn’t matter. Might wanna try as well. Take AICA out for a spin.”
“She’s with Hotaru, I’ve been sending the lil one on as much training exercises as I can lately.”
“Oh. Then get a car or a bike and ride out. I mean you’re rich, buy a Lamborghini or so. You get the idea.” She said half jokingly and SunTzu had to smile.
It was late afternoon when SunTzu called up his protégé to see how she was doing and to listen to how affected she was with the things that happened in the last few days.
Hotaru was okay, as Sailor Senshi of Destruction she had been mentally prepared for things like what happened on Rago but when she wasn’t training with AICA she was with Chibiusa as the princess had been deeply affected by what she had experienced. SunTzu had shuddered when she told him that she had been mentally prepared for things like what happened on Rago but decided to not ask about it, partly to safe himself to listen to some things he didn’t want to hear. He instead asked for Chibiusa and Hotaru told him Chibiusa was better already and at least opted for a meaningful approach how to handle things like Rago in the future, swearing to Hotaru that there would never be another Rago.
When SunTzu ended the call he didn’t feel any better, instead he also knew that Hotaru was also busy, so another person he felt good being around with, wasn’t available as well.
After another hour of basically just staring at the wall or at his phone to wait for Rei’s answer to the text he had been sending her after calling up Hotaru, he decided to leave the house.
Two hours later he was in a seedy bar somewhere in a small alley and drinking heavily again.
At least the liquor kept the bad feelings at bay.
Somewhen later at night, somewhere in a club with international audience, just after he had told a flock of local girls, which had tried to talk with him, to fuck off and do their gaijin hunting somewhere else because none of them wasn’t even worth to stand on the same planet his fiancée was on, SunTzu, between two sips of Rum and Coke was thinking that Haruka probably had been right, he should buy a Lamborghini.
At least he had made it home before dawn as he started to vomit after leaving the club, in a mixture of intoxication and being so disgusted with people that celebrated like nothing just had happened somewhere else in this Galaxy.
The next day went pretty much was the same as the day before, until afternoon. Except this time he had woken up without a friend around.
And this time he was the one to call Rei. And he did his best to not let her know that he had been drinking again, yet, alone and too much.
She still was too busy to do much at all, but she did let him know, that she missed him dearly as well and that she was sorry. He told her it was okay, her work was important. Rei promised him to make up for it.
When the couple finally finished the call, SunTzu began to stare at the wall in his room again, wondering how to fill time today. And then he remembered that tomorrow would be the day that the ring would be ready.
And that gave him the impulse to get up. He went to the bathroom and took a look at himself in the mirror. After two straight days of binge drinking he looked horrible. But he would change that. He had to be at his finest, inside and outside for what would come in the next few days. And for the first time in days he saw a light at the end of the tunnel. It wouldn’t help anyone if he’d just succumb to his inner demons. The enemy might had beaten them horribly at Rago, but the War wasn’t over. Furthermore there was a future after the War, a future with Rei by his side. So he decided to put all the negative emotions to rest, bury them deep down inside and focus on the future, on Rei and him.
After making himself halfway presentable, he went for a run. He vomited again, very inglorious in someone’s trash can, but he kept running until the alcohol and the hangover had been sweated out.
The next day, early afternoon SunTzu, dressed in one of his best suits and feeling genuinely happy for the first time since ever he saw Rei on Ansion, was disembarking AICA. He was even whistling a song as he left the cockpit, having a hand carefully inside the left pocket of his pants so he could make sure the etui with the ring wouldn’t fall out.
The red diamond had been honed to fit in an artfully forged platin ring, and SunTzu really hoped he got the right size when he secretly had been measuring Rei’s hand while she was sleeping a few weeks ago.
As he had put both his feet on the hangar’s ground and was about to pull out the etui to take another look at the ring someone suddenly audibly cleared his throat behind him.
“I saw you made a small trip to Antwerpen.”
Of course the spy always knows where I’m at…
SunTzu turned around to greet the person.
“Oh hi Ami, i didn’t know you were in here. How’s it going?”
The blue haired genius looked him in the eyes as she came nearer and after staring at them for a moment she began to sniff around him.
“The Netherlands for a short trip, huh? Do we have to let you do a drug test?”
SunTzu broke into laughter.
“Wait? You thought I went to Antwerpen to visit a coffee shop?”
“Of course, most of us are still distressed with what happened on Rago. I was a bit afraid of you trying to cope with taking drugs.”
SunTzu still grinned as he shook his head.
“Oh Ami. I appreciate the concern but I actually had to pick something up in Antwerpen.”
Ami’s left eyebrow went up.
“And what could that be?” And then see remembered for what Antwerpen was famous for as SunTzu pulled out the black etui from his pocket.
The pilot opened it and for a moment even the ever so cool-headed and rational Ami dropped her jaw and was speechless.
“Sun-SunTzu… that’s a ring. An engagement ring as far as i see it.”
SunTzu nodded while Ami took a closer look at the fine piece of jewelry.
“Oh my gods. Is that a real Diamond?”
“Yup, two karats. Wasn’t easy to let AICA bypass your financial surveillance with such a high amount of money.”
“It’s beautiful. Does Rei know about it? Di-did you already propose?”
“No. To be honest I haven’t seen Rei ever since the Taskforce arrived back at Earth because she's so busy.” Ami nodded, she knew that.
“But she called me this morning and to make up for it, I’m meeting Old Man Hino tomorrow. And as soon as I have informed him about my plans, I’ll propose. Rei told me that she had made it clear to him lately, that we both are a very fixed thing by now, so I guess he’s probably expecting it already.”
SunTzu smiled at his friend and Ami’s lips curled up as well.
Suddenly she pulled her arms around him and hugged him.
“This is sooo beautiful. The other Senshi will go crazy.”
“If Rei says yes.” SunTzu said jokingly, with a wink.
“Oh come on, this is out of the question.”
SunTzu’s smile became as wide as it was physically possible for him after hearing this.
“You do me a favor Ami?” SunTzu looked her in the eyes, his voice a bit more stern now.
“Of course, I’ll keep my mouth shut. Take that as word from someone who is trained and experienced in keeping things secret.” The blunette shot him a wink.
This afternoon Rei finally found some time and both lovers were beyond happy to have each other again, although it was just for a few hours. They didn’t even bother to go out for dinner and when evening fell onto Greater Tokyo, a finally halfway again whole feeling, undressed, hair whirled, grinning SunTzu had his head lying on his equally naked and tousled girlfriend’s hip as both ate Pizza they had ordered to the Palace in between passionate love making and physical closeness, inside her bed in Rei's room in the Crystal Tower.
Self Care was important after all.
SunTzu was delighted that Rei finally managed to pick a date to introduce him to her grandfather and even more that he would propose to her tomorrow. Everything was falling into place just perfectly and he gave the Force a small mental thank you.
Crystal Tokyo’s First Knight do wished he could spent the night with his beloved girlfriend but unfortunately she had to leave for the Hikawa Shrine, but helping grandpa so much would cheer the old man up and would make sure the old man was in a better mood for tomorrow.
Before SunTzu left the Palace to get himself groomed for the big day he managed to meet Hotaru outside the Crystal Tower. The older pilot just wanted to make sure that the younger pilot was really okay and the black haired teenager was surprised but happy to see that her superior was in a way better mood than yesterday, back when they had talked on the phone. In fact yesterday she had been quite a bit worried about him, as she understood how much the Fall of Rago had weighed him down. But right now it seemed he was back to his old self and when he said his goodbye and gave her a small headpat with a smile and told her how long her hair had been growing by now, it was now falling almost down below her shoulders, she couldn’t help but to smile too. She didn’t know what it was that had built him up but she was happy it did.
Rei left the Palace soon after and took her Porsche to the Shrine, sinking once again in the bookkeeping and organizational paper work of the Holy Grounds.
It was after eleven pm when Rei finally went to bed. After all the work, she took a bath and the last thing she did before sleeping was having a small telephone call with SunTzu wishing him a good night.
But after going to bed, she laid awake and couldn’t sleep, something inside her didn’t feel right. No, something urged her to get up, to get up and head for the Shrine’s Sacred Fires and meditate. She knew that feeling all too well, as over the years she had felt it so often. The Sacred Fires wanted to herald a vision to her.
Almost in trance the Shrine Priestess turned Senator moved over to the building containing the fire.
On her way Phobos and Deimos appeared at her side, both in their crow forms, but Rei sent them away, something told her to be alone for what she was about to see.
The two crows sat down on the roof of the building containing the holy fire, watching on as her Mistress entered the building.
As soon as she was in front of the fire, which was blazing more than usual, Rei began to meditate.
The Vision came fast, very fast and hit Rei like a truck. What she saw turned her stomach around and sent ice cold shivers through her body.
It began with SunTzu, leaning over her, shielding her with his body, lifeless and limp, bleeding. And then he suddenly came back and his eyes opened again. The vision broke and now it showed SunTzu, inside of a large starship, in front of him a large window showing the system’s fiery sun in the distance and a green and blue planet in the foreground. And around him lay Death, dozens of dead people in uniforms or overalls.
His eyes were glowing yellowish as he looked down on somebody, and then suddenly the sun outside began to erupt and a supernova took place, the fire of the star swallowing everything in it’s path. The vision shot back to SunTzu, or at least someone looking exactly like him, although he felt like a different man now, a different soul. And the yellow glow of his eyes was gone and exchanged with what seemed to be pure darkness.
As the fire began to swallow the planet, SunTzu began to grin, an evil grin, and then everything got emblazed in light and the vision ended.
Rei had to fight the urge to throw up. She had to put her hand around her stomach to fight the physical pain the vision had caused her.
Cold sweat streamed down her back as she retched and tried to contain the contents of her stomach.
In a matter of seconds Phobos and Deimos, now in their human forms, were at her side, they had heard her struggle even from outside.
Rei didn’t say a word, she just looked on into the Sacred Fire and prayed to the Gods, to her Mother, to everything that was holy to her, that this vision would never become reality.
After a moment she had brought herself under enough control again to tell the Koronians that she was fine and didn’t need any help. It had not the first bad vision she had.
But what she didn’t say and what weighted on her mind was, that her visions almost always had been right.
She excused herself and went back to her bed. As soon as she sat on it, still brooding about what she just had visioned, she passed out of exhaustion and fell into a deep sleep.
When Rei woke up the next morning she didn’t know if everything had just been a bad dream or if she really had this vision.
She put on her miko clothes, grabbed her keys, stepped into her geta shoes and walked out of the building where the living quarters were located in.
As soon as she opened the door the two crows appeared above her, the sun was rising on the horizon.
Both Koronians transformed and landed on their knees in front of Rei.
“Princess Mars, are you alright? We were worried about you yesterday.”
So I really did have this vision…
“I feel well, thank you girls. Tell my grandfather I needed to run some errands and that I will be back in the afternoon for the meeting I was talking about.”
That said she walked down the steps leading to the Hikawa Shrine and was gone.
SunTzu had just opened his eyes, as the first rays of light fell into his bedroom and woke him up, when he heard the familiar sound of an incoming vehicle.
What a nice morning surprise.
He smiled as he heard the door to his apartment being opened and when Rei opened the door to his bedroom she found him eyes closed, widely smiling.
He heard her light steps as she moved towards the bed, felt how she entered the bed. Wide cut clothes, was she wearing her Miko clothes?
A moment after SunTzu felt her sitting down on his lap, he felt Rei’s hands cup his face.
“Look at me SunTzu, look into my eyes.”
That was a strange request, especially in the pleading tone she had said it, but he opened his eyes and looked into her blue eyes, the eyes he always had felt that he could drown in.
She looked into his eyes as if she was searching for something. Suddenly she stopped and drew her hands from his face and searched for his hands instead. She grabbed them firmly. While SunTzu was honestly beginning to wonder what was wrong, she laid her head on his bare chest and closed her eyes. He sensed that she was trying to enter his soul and he granted her entrance into it. Apparently she was searching for something and it wasn’t intertwining with his soul. A part of him concentrated to not let her know about today’s plan which wasn’t easy, especially as she was such a strong psychic and him being so excited about it.
Rei could feel that something was different than it had been before, it was like a part of his soul was inaccessible to her, but this probably was just the emotional damage Rago had caused, a pain he shielded from everything. Something that he was trying to lay to rest and she knew that this would take time and didn’t think any further about it. Other than that it was like always, his warmth and the immensely pleasuring and welcoming feeling of his love for her.
After a few moments of probing his soul he could feel her relief and she withdrew her psychic powers and her face appeared above his again.
“What was that about?” He asked, still wondering what was wrong.
“Nothing. Just a bad dream. I needed something to build me up.” Rei said, with a perfectly faked smile before she leaned down and kissed him.
“Ohayo gozaimasu TopGun.”
“Ohayo. Nice surprise.” SunTzu smiled at her and his hand began to run through her hair.
“Can you hold me a bit?” Rei asked and he pulled her in a tight embrace in which they stayed for a few moments. But while Rei could let go most of her tension, there still was something in the back of her mind, that reminded her on the Vision.
But this is SunTzu, Personified War of the Prophecy or not, he wasn’t capable of destroying a whole solar system. Sure the War was working on all of them but he was the last person to hurt an innocent in cold blood.
Rei thought SunTzu did all the things he was doing for her since ever they had gotten up because she had told she had nightmares and it was incredibly sweet from him. Rei thought that this was why he was wearing this suit he was looking ultra hot in and why her boyfriend was even more on fleek than usual when he went out with her. Matter of fact though SunTzu would have done all of this anyway, as today would be the day he would be introduced to her grandfather and then propose to her he wanted to give her the most perfect day he could.
He had treated her to her favorite breakfast spot, followed by a romantic walk in the park, where the leaves had turned on all their different fall colors, and even a small visit in the art museum she loved so much, to see the pieces of their new exhibition. But Rei still couldn’t completely shake off the thoughts about that vision. Maybe it wasn’t SunTzu, maybe they would use someone looking like him to false flag him. Or for once her vision had been wrong, maybe her psychic powers were clouded, after all the war had been getting to her lately. She decided to ask someone with similar powers.
Rei, dressed in a long sweater dress, over knees and a hat, excused herself in the museum and headed towards the rest rooms, while SunTzu stayed in the exhibition room.
Near the entrance to the women’s rest rooms she pulled out her phone and called Michiru.
“Rei, nice to hear from you. How are you?”
“Hi Michiru, I’m sorry to call up and disturb you. But there’s something I wanted to talk about with you. Got a minute?”
A small pause followed.
“Sure, what’s the matter? Is it about SunTzu?”
“It’s… it’s... Listen Michiru, did you ever had a vision over the Deep Aqua Mirror that proved wrong?”
“Well… as you know the future is always in motion and things can change but I can’t think about a time the mirror was plain wrong. Why? Did you had a vision about SunTzu? Is something wrong? Do we have to worry about something? You know, regarding the Prophecy?” Michiru sounded really concerned by now.
“Oh, no. Not at all. Sorry to make you worry, that wasn’t my intention. It’s probably nothing and just the exhaustion catching up to me. Listen, I’m at the Mori Art Museum with SunTzu, I better get back to him. Excuse me for disturbing you.”
“You didn’t. You know I’m here if you need to talk with someone. Or to air the annoyance, which the behavior of our two lovers inevitably cause, out.” Michiru said the last sentence in an ironic tone.
“Thank you Michiru. I appreciate it. Give my regards to Haruka.”
“I will. Say Hi to SunTzu. Bye Rei.”
Michiru let the phone in her hand sink down and wondered what was going on with Rei, she had sounded pretty mixed up. Next to her Haruka was nervously eyeing her.
“That was Rei, right? What did she say? What did she say?”
Michiru sighed, Haruka had been out of it the whole day, nervously eying her phone every two minutes as if she was waiting for something. When asked though, she said, it was nothing.
Rei put her phone back in her handbag.
The future was always in motion, Michiru had said, and that was something Sets had been always preaching as well. Her vision began with SunTzu apparently being dead, shielding her, which meant, that if she would stay out of combat and of trouble, he wouldn’t need to save her. Obviously it hadn’t been in the Senate because Coruscant and the Senate District were fortresses, with the New Jedi Temple located there as well, not even Abeloth would dare to attack the Senate. Maybe it really was time for the Goddess of War to stop fighting physically and concentrate on only fighting on the political battlefield anymore.
Rei went back to SunTzu, he was looking at a abstract sculpture roughly his size from a young artist with a US-Japanese background.
Rei linked into his arms and squeezed his hand.
“I was thinking this would make a nice piece for your office on Coruscant.” SunTzu said and turned to Rei.
“Are you alright?” He said as he noticed that Rei had a troubled look on her face.
“Yeah, it’s nothing. Don’t worry.”
Two hours, a bought sculpture and a small stop at SunTzu’s apartment later, to get the gift he got for grandpa, the couple arrived at the Hikawa Shrine. She even had let him drive the Porsche and on the way to the Shrine Rei finally had calmed down enough to just enjoy herself and secretly marvel at his swagger today.
He really, really was at his best today, no matter if it came to looks, behaviour or simply being. In the car’s audio system Nicki Minaj was asking her lover how he could see right through her while Rei Hino bit her lip as she observed SunTzu, his muscular shoulders and chest showing through the fabric of his fitted collared shirt while he swerved the Porsche without any indication of stress through the streets of Minato.
Inside SunTzu was nervous as hell and it got worse as closer as he got to the Shrine. But he was in high spirits as well. He had to concentrate on the street, as he kept falling into daydreaming how Rei would react to his proposal.
They arrived at the parking lot and disembarked the red sportscar.
SunTzu held up a tie, asking for Rei’s opinion. Now even Rei could sense that he was nervous and she found it to be adorable.
Rei shook her head but fixed his collar under his jacket.
“You’re meeting my grandfather, not my father. He might not like foreigners but he doesn’t care about looks that much.”
She finished her work and let her gaze wander over him.
“Looking sharp, TopGun.”
And then she put her hands on his jacket and pulled him in for a kiss.
“No matter what will happen now, remember I love you with all of my heart.”
So why does this little vision derail you so much if you love him with all of your being? Do you even love him as much as he does love you?
Rei’s conscience stung into her.
“Rei?” SunTzu asked her and she snapped out of it.
“Something seems to be concerning you today? Is really everything fine with you?”
“Yeah, sorry. I was just wondering what you got for my Grandpa.”
“Oh, I made a quick trip to Germany yesterday evening. You said your Grandfather likes liquor and candy so I got him some Liquor from Lake Constance and some homemade cookies from there as well.”
Rei nodded acknowledging, that really wasn’t the worst gift for Grandpa. Now she only hoped that the old Man would be nice to SunTzu.
Hand in hand, both lovers, being nervous but dedicated, walked up to the Shrine.
Phobos and Deimos were busy sweeping the fallen leaves from the Shrine’s Plaza and greeted with a small bow.
“Where’s my grandfather?” Rei asked her protégés and both motioned toward the main shrine building behind them.
“Shinsoku Hino has a guest.” Deimos said, her voice in a for them very unusual severe tone.
Suddenly the door to the building opened and Rei’s Grandfather appeared, with a big, happy smile on his face.
And behind him was another man, also dressed in the clothes of a Shinto Priest.
He was around the age of SunTzu, a Japanese, athletically built, with a handsome face, which sported a five-day beard. His most prominent feature was his long brown hair that reached down to his shoulders and with it’s bangs falling into his face. He had a smug grin on his face and his eyes lit up when he saw Rei.
Rei’s jaw dropped instantly, she couldn’t believe who she was lookin at, standing in front of her.
SunTzu looked at his dumbfounded girlfriend with a curious look in his face, as she finally opened her mouth to speak.