Usagi sat on the mansion steps, staring up into the blackened sky. It had been dark ever since Vritra arose, and there was no sign of it abating anytime soon, not unless they could find a way to destroy the dark god.
//That will take a miracle at this point, little one,// a familiar voice echoed in her mind.
"Hyperion-tousama?" she whispered, head whipping side to side as she tried to place his location.
//Didn't I teach you anything, Usagi?// She could hear faint exasperation and amusement in her foster father's voice.
She choked back a grin then had to immediately hold a sob from escaping. "But... you're dead. I saw Thanatos kill you."
He sighed deeply. A well-known hand touched the top of her head then settled around her shoulders. It was like before the war, when they would sit outside his home and stare up at the brilliant lights of the colonies as they shone in the night sky. Even just the thought of those easier times brought tears to her eyes, but she resolutely held them back. There would be time enough to cry later, when she didn't need to hear what he had to say. Nostalgia could wait.
//Thanatos is losing his grip on the souls he's stolen to increase his own power. He cannot hold us in and contain Vritra within his body as well. It's too much for even an Elder God like him.//
She blinked sharply. "He summoned Vritra... into himself?!"
He chuckled softly. //That's the way it's done, little one, I'm afraid.//
"Why can't things be easy anymore?" she lightly pouted.
//Because the stakes are so much higher now. Before, in your previous fights, it was just Tokyo at stake. Now it's the entire world, as well as the space colonies. Naturally it will be a more difficult battle.//
"Nothing changes your talk of battles, does it?" She sighed and made herself comfortable. "So what's it going to take to win, now that we have Vritra to deal with as well as Thanatos and the demon girl?"
//Tomoe Sakura. She's an old acquaintance of Fujimiya Ran. You always need to know your enemies, Usagi.//
She had to roll her eyes at the sheer common place-ness of the phrase. How many times had she heard that in the four years she'd lived with him, even if he was away in the war most of the first year? "Okay, Tomoe Sakura. What do we need to defeat her and Thanatos and Vritra?"
If she listened closely, she could faintly hear him leaning back against the steps, and she followed suit. //The only thing that can stop Vritra now is an opposing force with a comparable power level. The only thing that measures up is Amaterasu, but she'll have to be summoned like Vritra was.//
"So she'll have to be called down into someone's body?"
//That will be the end result, yes. You'll need the three treasures back first though. Then will come the hard part, then she can be drawn down.//
"There's a harder part than recovering the treasures?" She had to wince. "What is it?"
//Once the treasures are gathered, there must be a... sacrifice for the goddess to rise into the one body in all the worlds that can hold her power.// She could almost see him turning a disparaging look on her. //I know you, Usagi. You won't want to sacrifice anyone, but for the goddess to arise, someone's lifeblood must taint the three treasures. Only then will she appear.//
She sat back up and stared at her lap. "So after someone dies, she'll appear, and then what? Who is this one person who can hold her?"
//You will know when the time comes, Usagi.//
She groaned. "Do you always have to be so cryptic?"
She had to grin as she heard him chuckle. //Of course.//
"So who is the one person who can contain Amaterasu's power?"
//I think you already know, daughter.//
"I am. I'm the one person who can hold her."
//And the person who can contain her will also be the person who must be sacrificed for her.//
She managed a smile. "Then I won't have to worry about my friends. At least it will just be me." She lifted her gaze back to the sky. How sad. She couldn't even see the moon anymore, much less the colonies. "Thank you for telling me, Hyperion-tousama."
//There is one more thing. No one knows for sure if it's true or not, but it has been said that whichever side wins, their sacrifice will be returned. It's also said they'll gain a single boon of either Vritra or Amaterasu, whichever wins.//
The smile on her face grew wider. "We're going to win this war, tousama. I know it."
//How do you know it?//
"We have the Gundam pilots on our side. We cannot be beaten now." She pushed herself to her feet. "We may lose a battle or two along the way, but we'll win the war for sure." She nodded once in determination. "For sure."
//Then rally your troops, my little goddess. Position them where they need to be. And you might want to send Aed after Morrigan, before she does anything... rash. She is wont to do so, after all. And keep your two closest allies with you. You'll need their strength, and they'll need yours. Days will be getting even darker soon.// He was silent for a moment. //And not everyone is going to make it through this. You will lose people along the way. You will have to accept this and proceed or, Gundam pilots or no Gundam pilots, you will lose.//
"I know, Hyperion-tousama. I'm as prepared as I can get for what's coming."
Warm, strong fingers gripped her shoulders and turned her to face the tall blond man behind her. "Then go face you future with all your strength, little one."
The tears finally broke free, and she couldn't resist throwing her arms around her foster father, holding on till he finally faded away and the man once known as Hyperion and Treize Khushrenada was no more.
First draft: 09 July 2003
Rewrite: 29 February 2004
Maa maa... I didn't think I was going to finish up this chapter! It didn't want to end; Hyperion and Usagi didn't want to shut up!!! So, was Hyperion who you thought he'd be? Any guesses on who the new gods will be? The last section contains a clue, and clues are littered throughout the chapter.
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