(Invitation)  blood & sweat
tagged: star maker // february 7th, 2031

Was a Queen meant to fight? Such was an age old question, one entrenched in history as much as time itself. Her advisors would stand against such a proposition - she was fragile, like stained glass, meant to be adored and protected; without her, her family dynasty would crumble, an event that hadn't occurred in Kinmoku in generations. Without her, her husband would be presented with a very clear and very real political danger. Without her, the Empire would lose one of the few beings capable of full-scale purification - and thus, Saariyah's chances at being cleansed would fall fewer.

For now, Liuxing was a tool, an instrument to rally for victory - and while, in the past, she had been somewhat content to be protected, she could no longer. All tools dull over time, and she more than any needed a good sharpening.

Her decision to participate in upcoming battles was one met with severe hesitance, even from her own inner voices; the last time she had fought, properly, had been a short-lived attempt, only long enough to give Eternal Sailor Moon more time. Perhaps this is why she had opted for such a decision - no longer did the fate of the universe lay on upon the silver Queen's shoulders. No, it was now that the silver-haired Starlight's fate teetered in the balance, a scale tipping ever so quickly. Selfishness prevailed - the universe would always be repaired, and there were no threats to the Galaxy Cauldron, that she was aware of. The universe was expendable - Saariyah was not.

This resolve was why the woman found herself within a battle simulation chamber, her lithe frame clad in something more sporty than any would expect her in. Faint beads of sweat were forming on her forehead, her long hair pulled up into a ponytail, slowly becoming messier and messier with each exercise. She had dismissed Kes from her duties for the day, a reoccurring trend that struck her with only minor guilt. Slender fingers tapped away at a keyboard, programming for something bigger, something better. Something to push her, to almost break her.

She was no senshi, not truly - every aspect of one she lacked. She was no speedster, no Olympian. She had no strategic knowledge of warfare, no extraordinary powers. Around her formed beings of hard-light, who charged upon the woman. Faint stars formed at her fingertips, a trick of the light that, as much as she tried, did not grow into a force of energy she desired. Through gritted teeth, her other hand pushed outwards, thorn-ridden vines forming to constrict one of the simulations. The Queen's eyes brightened for a moment, a minor victory that perhaps seemed childish, only to be dashed as she felt a rippling, blunt pain in her back. Falling to her knees, she could only look behind her to see a simulation aiming directly at her, only for them - and all the other simulations - to pause and dissolve into static.

Leaning back to sit, Liuxing desperately tried to keep her breath, the pain subsiding as it was meant to. Another failed training exercise, another pathetic attempt. Seconds passed, her eyes dull as she felt herself falling into some kind of pit, only for her reverie to be snapped by an echoing voice, addressing her.

(This post was last modified: 20 Nov 2020, 03:32 AM by Guihua zhi Liuxing.)

Chandra should have been opposed, should have voiced what Saariyah would: Liuxing, you cannot fight. It is not your place as our Queen. Yet Chandra could only think that this was a thing that needed to happen. If their Queen was to feel secure, to feel as if she were doing something and not succumb to the pain within her heart, then she needed to train.

... that entire train of thought was likely unexpected, especially given that they were not known for encouraging such and often sided more with Saariyah than Kesatria in mindset and sensibilities.

Ultimately, however, it meant that they would need to ensure their Queen was able to train and prepare herself without overdoing it at the same time. Not that they expected it to be easy, just as they fully expected that Liuxing would likely push herself for too much too soon, trying to use powers she was unused to channeling.

(In the back of their mind, they were beginning to see some of the problems with simply protecting and sheltering the Queen. Perhaps it was time for change, though they were well aware that when--not if--they got Saariyah back they would likely get an earful for even allowing Liuxing to go down this path.)

It was absolutely no surprise to find that Liuxing had taken up temporary residence within one of the battle simulation chambers. Chandra watched through a feed, albeit briefly, to see how the Queen faired. They were not able to watch for long, unable to stand aside while their Queen faltered in trying to find her footing as a Sailor Guardian (because as a Queen they were beauty and grace and so much more).

Watching Liuxing take out one of the simulations made them smile, though the attack had left her back open and-

Not missing a beat, Chandra dismissed the battle simulation before another blow could be struck upon Liuxing. It would take another handful of heartbeats to see them actually enter the room.

"My Queen," they called as they entered, the doors sliding shut behind them. "Liuxing," said Chandra in a softer voice once they were closer. They dropped to their knees next to her, looking her over to make sure that she was alright. A handkerchief was pulled from their pocket (they were wearing a rather stylishly cut suit for the day) and dabbed away the sweat from her face.

"I am not going to tell you to stop," they said softly, "but I am going to tell you that you are pushing for too much when you are just learning." They paused before explaing further. "Not so many opponents to start."

Slender eyebrows knitted themselves together as the woman allowed Chandra's words to sink in; and while it was true, that one had to walk before one could run, she felt like she didn't have the time to do so.

Such was a luxury she couldn't afford, now - that any of them could afford. 

She knew Chandra would chastise her for such thoughts, in their own calm and logical way. Even still, the Kinmokuseian couldn't help but feel faint remnants of bitterness - a feeling of being handled like she was fragile, like she was a child. You only have yourself to blame, Liuxing would chide herself, her eyebrows relaxing and any signs of stubbornness fading from her features, your own childish breakdown condemned you to this. The Starlights and the Galactica had looked for her to strength ever since arriving on this green land - a beacon and a pillar, their trust planted firmly in the Queen's own cause - and her own reckless outpour of emotion threatened such a status quo.

Sighing, she shook her head, a soft gesture of disagreement as she pulled herself from the crystalline floor. "Time is of the essence," Liuxing responded, barely containing the melancholy slithering behind her words. For a moment she watched Chandra, body completely still - a look plastered on her face that only one of her three guardians would be able to decipher, a melting pot of regret and determination, of a specific resolve mixed with trepidation. Brief seconds passed and she stepped closer to the center of the room, her head lowering as she inhaled.

"I cannot expect you and Kesatria to watch me in battle - real battle." Bringing a palm ahead of her chest, she once again attempted to summon starlight, her teeth clenching as something more similar to snapping electricity and light flickered around her finger tips - a sign that her battery was nearing its zero hour. Nails began to dig into her palm, her breath exhaling, and hand dropping to her side as shoulders slouched. Calmly, she moved her head to look upon her guardian over her shoulder. "From this moment, I am no longer the priority." The woman's voice was level, eyes resonating with some kind of distinct, regal intensity. "If it comes to the point where it is me or Saari..."

Her body swiveled on her heel, her full, small body now turned towards Chandra, her hands clenching into fists. "I will do everything I can to make sure it does not come to such a decision, but you... you will choose Saariyah over me." She knew that such a decision would only possibly bode with Chandra - Kes would refuse, even such a direct order, she knew within her heart. She turned once more, her hand waving in front of a control panel, fingers deftly moving over the menus as she summoned another simulation to fight, which materialized into existence in front of her.

For now, she would take Chandra's advice, if only to soothe the Starlight - at most to perform a game of tug and pull, that she would follow their recommendations, as she hoped they would follow hers.

To another Liuxing's expression might have said something different--after all, she had learned well how to comport herself--but to Chandra and Kesatria (and, they supposed, someone who could read emotions) there was so much to be found. Not only in the relaxing of her face but the slope of her mouth, the curve of her lips upward or downward even the smallest bit.

It was why they knew that Liuxing was going to refute their words. No immediate response came, Chandra simply listening as their Queen spoke. If anything, Liuxing would be able to see the slight tensing of their posture at some of the things said (mostly due to the entire Saariyah comes first). Only when it looked as if she were heeding the advice

"With what's happened, I cannot expect to watch you any more than I could watch Kesatria or Saariyah. However ..." said Chandra, watching their Queen. "We are meant to fight together, my Queen, to depend on one another and look out for one another, not fight alone."

Chandra was quiet as Liuxing's fingers moved across the control panel, content to see that she was setting it up for only one opponent. "This one you can fight alone but next we will fight together. You need more experience working alongside us, not protected and behind." There was still a moment before the simulation attacked, Chandra finding a position to the side to keep an eye on things. Whatever pause in their talking was an obvious tell, especially to Liuxing. There would be no denying Liuxing her request but it did not mean Chandra would hold back their words.

"Your will is mine, Liuxing," they said, "but Saariyah would never approve. Just as she would never approve of this." In many ways, the youngest Starlight could be something of a misogynist and that was after the fact Saariyah clung to the traditions of their home(moons)worlds. "Thankfully, I am more ... lenient than the others." They certainly did include Kesatria in that. "As well as understand that sometimes we must do things that go against our traditions and otherwise."

A soft sigh escaped as they saw the simulation begin to move.

"In fact, my only complaint is that I am not looking forward to what Saariyah will say about all of this when we bring her home to us." To Chandra it was only a matter of time and that was how they would continue to speak about it.

She felt defeated - broken and beat down, but she refused to give in. She couldn't, she would tell herself - and once more, those words repeated through her fragile mind. Time is of the essence. She couldn't allow herself to give in - especially not when she saw the miniscule change of posture from her guardian. Chandra was perhaps always the voice of reason within the Starlights - a steady bolder among tumultuous waves. (Perhaps it was their advice that Liuxing valued the most - but such was not a thought she had ever uttered aloud.)

"Perhaps..." the words came through pursed lips, a way of musing or appeasing the noble, air exhale from small nostrils. "Perhaps I simply need to strengthen my power to allow myself to fight alone." For a moment, her eyes were distant - focusing once more on Chandra's reaction several seconds later. "Until then, I will concede."

She stood motionless, her eyes glossy as she examined the simulations. A finger was lifted above the button that would breathe the combative life into them - a pause as she listened to Chandra's words. The imperial Queen knew Star Maker was right - Saariyah would be beside herself if she had been present, and she knew some of the choice words her senior lady would have. The thought brought a soft, albeit fleeting grin on her lips - one that was bittersweet at best.

Why was it, when she thought of Saariyah, she thought of her in remembrance? Like she was already deceased and gone?

It was Chandra's casual determination - when we bring her home to us - that would rip her from such a grim mindset, her head whirling to attention on the simulation. The technology had only created a singular enemy this time - one of intermediate difficulty in theory, but for her already drained energy, a tricky opponent. "I suppose her tongue lashing will be the price to pay," she affirmed, her palm opening in front of her, vines swirling around her wrist.

She wasn't sure how much time had passed - each dodge felt like an eternity, and each summon of her power equally long. Once more she found herself drawing upon plants and vines, almost excluding her other facets of abilities. The simulation flickered and waned in front of her, disappearing entirely upon it's defeat, followed by Liuxing herself falling to her knees, her breathing labored and heavy. "How long did that take?"

She almost didn't want to know.

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