Rebirth

Title: Rebirth
Plot, or Lack Thereof: Pluto sees the end of all existence looming in the future and plays a matchmaker to prevent it.
Reason for Banishment: Lost steam


The future is not written in stone.

In fact, not even Sailor Pluto, the Guardian of Time, could predict with any kind of certainty what would happen in the next year, day, or minute. The smallest single instant flashes by without Pluto knowing about it. Instead, the future is like a set of possibilities which may or may not happen due to certain circumstances. When various criteria are met, these possibilities may branch off and form its own universe, one separate from the main timeline.

In one such world, for example, much of the human population had been decimated by the creations of a single madman, who then himself became a victim of his own genius. Serenity and the Inner Scouts had also fallen to those creatures well before the Outer Scouts were old enough to realize their powers, thus delaying the rise of Crystal Tokyo by at least another hundred years.

However, that was not what was bothering Pluto at the moment. What was, was something that should have been trivial.

Saturn had been reborn. And no matter how many different alternatives Pluto explored, they always ended with the unleashing of the Silence. Not just the usual kind of Silence which would have been followed by the reawakening of Serenity, in which case Pluto wouldn’t have even bothered to care. Rather, this Silence it would be truly The Great Silence, one that would annihilate everything.

In other words, there would be nothing left, not even Time itself.

This must not happen, Pluto thought with determination. Even if I have to leave the Gates of Time and actively intervene here. she allowed herself a small, wry smile. Again.

***

Trunks wiped the sweat from his brow as he dumped another load of rubble into the truck that would head to the Capsule Corporation Headquarters for reprocessing. Now that he finally destroyed the Androids, people could begin rebuilding their lives. The severe shortage of supplies, however, had slowed progress to a glacial pace; most cities, like the one he was currently living in, were forced to cannibalize older buildings so that temporary shelters could be made to house the few people still surviving.

As Trunks paused for breath, sitting down to relieve his sore muscles, his ears picked up a strange noise.

“Did you hear something?” he exclaimed, alarmed.

“Uh, no,” a puzzled fellow worker replied. “You sure you’re not imagining things?”

Trunks sighed, remembering that his Saiyan heritage meant that he had more acute senses than the others. “Sorry, I must be too nervous,” he apologized half-heartedly, which was partly true. Even though he had made sure─several times, in fact─that the Androids were completely eradicated, he still kept a sharp lookout for any signs of danger. Or, in his mother’s joking words, he was ‘being paranoid’. Still, all kidding aside, even Bulma thought it better to be safe than sorry.

He heard the noise again and realized that it was not his nerves playing tricks on his ears. This time, he excused himself from the others and followed the source of the sound to an old building.

He was shocked to discover that a baby, swathed in dirty rags, lay wailing on the ground inside.

Trunks picked up the fragile bundle, being careful to keep his touch delicate. In a dying world where people were hard-pressed take care of themselves, abandoning newborns was a commonplace practice, but Trunks himself had never stumbled upon a child before. Holding the now quieting baby in his arms, he wondered how any parent could bear to part with their own flesh and blood.

It’s so tiny! He thought. A distant memory of a peaceful summer night suddenly came to him, and he knew what to call this child.

“Your name will be Hotaru,” he told the baby. “Because you are like a firefly that shines in the darkness.”

“Oy, Trunks!” one of the people outside called. “We really need your help here!”

“The work has to wait, guys,” Trunks called back, walking out of the building. “I’ve got a something a little more important to do right now.”

***

“All right, Trunks, ‘fess up: who was the unlucky girl?” Bulma demanded, the playful tone in her voice letting her son know she was joking.

Trunks blushed to the roots of his hair. “Mom! You know I’d never do something like that!”

Bulma smiled and patted his son on the shoulder. “I know, dear, and that’s what worries me.”

Trunks blushed even deeper, a task Bulma thought impossible. “Mo-THER!”

Bulma gave her son a small kiss on the cheek. “Just kidding.” She turned her attention to the baby in Trunks’ arms. “She’s probably no more than a few days old.” She stroked the baby’s downy, indigo hair and marveled at how much the name Hotaru fit.

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