The Last Sacrifice
*Timeline: "A Child of Darkness and Light", "Crystals of Love: Masks", "The Last Sacrifice part 1: The End of the Silver Millennium", "CAS 1: The Trouble with Love is the Lovers", "CAS 2: To Defy Destiny", "Every Cloud", "Crystal Shards", "CAS 3: Unwilling Accomplice", "Our Past 1: The Reason We Fight", "CAS 4: Princess of Light", "Our Past 2: The Reason We Still Fight", "Our Past 3: The Reason We Fought", "CAS 5: One Last Shining Star", "In the Darkest Forest", "Destiny or Duty", "Desperately Searching", "The Last Sacrifice part 2: Kazeko", "Chronicles of the Star Senshi 1: The Gathering", "Chronicles of the Star Senshi 2: Castle in the Sky", "Chronicles of the Star Senshi 3: Queen of the Moon", "Chronicles of the Star Senshi 4: Separation Anxiety", "Crystals of Love: Betrayal", "Crystals of Love: Forsaken", "Chronicles of the Star Senshi 5: Black Moon Family", "Crystals of Love: Destined Couple", "Crystals of Love: Horoscope", "Crystals of Love: Haiku", "Crystals of Love: Thunder Goddess", "Crystals of Love: Blood of the Rose"
*Disclaimer: I don't any characters from Sailor Moon
*Note: This is a complete overhaul and rewrite of my previous fic of the same name. The former version will no longer be available as I have decided that the discrepancies between it and my later fics are too great to be ignored. Also, I feel like I spent too little time on the other pairings of the Silver Millennium compared to how much attention I give them now. So, without further ado, here is the 7-year-later rewrite of my first full-length fanfic.
Part 1: The End of the Silver Millennium
Chapter 1: Motherless Queen
Her mother had died birthing her. It was a strange occurrence among the citizens of the Silver Millennium for a woman to die for her child, even more strange for a senshi to die in a way that her queen could not prevent. And yet the Queen of Uranus, always seen as a slender, frail woman, had lost far too much blood for a tiny child that resembled her almost exactly. All of the Queens had been present for her birth, as was common when an heir was due, but her father had not been in Miranda Castle that day. He had not been able to say goodbye to his wife, and he could never look at his daughter without resenting her for that. The poor child, passed into the care of nursemaids and tutors, was granted a name that indicated her place in her father's eyes. Haruka. Distant. Born a queen, the laws of the Silver Millennium would not let her receive her crown until she could become Sailor Uranus, so she lived a sheltered and lonely life as the only princess of Uranus.
The King of Uranus looked up from the near endless stream of reports vying for attention in the air above his desk, moving most of them to the side with a wave of his hand as one of his oldest and dearest friends entered his private study. Only a woman could be a Sailor Senshi, one of the powerful protectors of the Solar System and the Queen, so only a Queen could truly rule her people. The Queen of Pluto, though she held no rank in the Uranian court, was still Koshu's superior, and none of his servants would dare prevent her from entering his study.
She was clearly visiting him on Palace business, dressed in her sailor fuku, a dark staff holding a garnet stone in one hand and a small crystal in the other. Her long, dark green hair flowed down her back in silky straight waves, somehow remaining clean and free of tangles no matter how hard she trained or fought. He had been entranced by her garnet eyes the first time they met, surprised at her olive skin in a kingdom full of fairer royals. She barely resembled anyone in her family, and it was often hinted that the True Sailor Pluto was only born once every few generations, while the ones in-between were only pale substitutes. If that rumor was even remotely true, then Pluto Setsuna was certainly the real deal, power in every motion.
"Pluto Setsuna, to what do I owe this pleasure?" He stood and gave a shallow bow, indicating that her station was slightly above his. "A visit from the Queen of Pluto is not light matter."
"It most certainly is not," the senshi replied, a small smile taking the sting out of her words. "We have been friends since I introduced you to Kazeko years ago, and I have come for a number of reasons."
Koshu clapped his hands, calling for servants to bring refreshments as he and the Queen settled themselves before a simple table. "Please, tell me why you have come." The servant poured tea for both of them before leaving the pair alone.
"Koshu, your daughter is yours to raise as you wish, but the other queens and I are worried that she is not receiving the proper education to become Sailor Uranus."
Koshu shrugged, letting his mind wander to the last time he had seen his daughter. She was well educated in practical sciences and royal etiquette, but her recent studies had turned to war strategies and swordplay. Having little interest in the girl, he let her practice with any weapon she decided to pick up, knowing that her love of swords was part of her Sailor Uranus destiny. Lacking a female role model that did not bow to her every whim, Haruka had begun to cut her blonde hair short and wear princely suits instead of princess dresses. She had become a master of the blade before she was as tall as the weapons she wielded, and she yearned for more, for anything that would make her father notice her. In his grief over losing Kazeko, Koshu could never make himself stay in the same room as his child for any length of time.
"I see you are thinking about her."
"She has received an education proper for a Uranian Royal, and she is becoming quite an accomplished swordsman for a child her age."
"But she has yet to travel to the other planets and meet the women who will defend the Solar System with her. Training with the other senshi is the only way she can ever hope to be strong enough to defeat any enemy she meets."
Koshu clenched his hand into a fist, staring into his tea for a moment before responding. His voice was harsh when he finally spoke. "What would you have me do? I have no interest in spending any time with the other Queens who let my wife die, and I can't look at Haruka without seeing Kazeko's face. She's going to look just like her mother."
"Do you blame her?"
"What?" Koshu's head shot up at the question, noting the sadness in Setsuna's eyes. For a moment he saw her, the lonely Queen of Pluto guarding an equally lonely Time Gate with no husband or children to keep her company, and he remembered that Kazeko had been her best friend when they were growing up. "How could you suggest such a thing?"
"Because Haruka has thought it. She knows that her mother is dead because of her birth, and she wants to make it up to you. She wants to be you, wants to make you proud. If nothing else, Koshu, you were the finest Sword Master on Uranus years ago, and no one can train her to protect this world better than you. If she is not ready when she is called to fight, she will die. Do you want that? Do you want Kazeko's only child and your heir to die because you can't stand to look at her?"
"No, of course not," Koshu whispered, eyes falling to the table. He did blame her, a little bit, but such anger was pointless. She was an innocent child, and she certainly had no control over whether her mother lived or died on the day she was born. Kazeko had always been frail, and Haruka was as strong as a boy when she was born. Her mother had given all of her strength to her child so that the next Sailor Uranus would be strong enough to protect the Silver Millennium when she could not. "I'll try, Setsuna, if you think I should. I don't want her to die." He spoke the words in Plutonian, a language that could form no lies, and Setsuna accepted the sincerity of his statement. "Why else did you come here today?"
Setsuna handed him the crystal she had been carrying, waiting for him to plug it into the nearest reader and scan the document. "The Queen has given birth." Koshu, reading the letter in shock, never noticed the slight hitch in Setsuna's voice, or the shadow of pain in the back of her crimson eyes. She regained control of her emotions as the king turned back to her.
"We are invited to a party in her honor? All of the Royal Families?" The missive was written in Lunarian, a complex language that the King and Queen of the Moon only used for special occasions. The message was brief, though the letters and grammar of the language used made it five times longer than it would have been when written in Sol Standard or even Uranian.
"That is correct. All of the other Royal Families have accepted and will attend with the heirs to their senshi legacies. The princess will be their Queen, so it has been decided that all of them should meet her now." The command in Setsuna's voice was absolute, and Koshu knew better than to disobey.
"Haruka and I will be there, dressed for the occasion. It is time for her to learn her place in the Silver Millennium."
"Good." Setsuna stood to leave, placing a hand on her friend's arm as she offered the only sympathy she could. "You are not the only one to lose your partner, my friend. There is no King of Neptune and I . . . I have lost the only person my soul would have. Do not despair, Koshu, and please try to keep in touch with the other kingdoms more."
"I will. Thank you, Setsuna."
Haruka twirled awkwardly, her nose crinkled in disgust at the dress her maids had forced her into. One of them struggled to hold her still while another slipped tiny jeweled pins into what little hair she had. Her emerald eyes sparked angrily, promising retribution upon whomever demanded that she dress like a girl. "Do I have to wear this? I like my suits much better."
"You're a princess, Haruka, and must dress the part." The servants gasped and struggled to hold the princess and bow at the same time as King Koshu entered the child's chamber. Haruka stopped struggling at once, wide eyes locked on her father and the splendid golden suit he had chosen for the party. Koshu smiled and touched Haruka's head, ruffling her short hair to the dismay of the hairdresser who had just combed it. "You look like a little angel. The other queens will love it."
Haruka huffed and crossed her arms over her chest. Her father barely talked to her, and almost never smiled at her, but even that treat could not make up for the fact that she was wearing a dress and going to some stupid party. "Why do I have to go anyway? She's the Princess of the Moons and I . . . I won't ever have anything to do with her." The last she growled in Uranian, a rough, harsh language of warlike expediency that was usually seen as barbaric and unwelcome at the Royal Court.
"Haruka, stick to Solarian. You know better than to use that rough tone in polite company. And you're wrong on that point. We Outer Kingdoms exist to protect the Moon from foreign threats, while the Inner Kingdoms protect the Silver Millennium from any domestic disputes. One day you will be Sailor Uranus, and the burden of protecting the Queen will fall to you."
Haruka's green eyes widened as her servants finished dressing her. "I'm a Sailor Senshi? I'm one of the powerful warriors in my history book?"
"Yes, just like your mother. I'll show you her talisman, the Space Sword, and her henshin stick when we return from the Moon. One day you will wield them, and you must be familiar with your power. Your mother was Sailor Uranus, our Queen, and it was her destiny to fight for our kingdom."
"I'm the Princess of Uranus; is it my destiny to fight?"
"One day it will be. But for now, it will be enough to meet the others who will fight beside you when you are grown."
Haruka followed her father into the palace, proud to be among such an elite group of people allowed to see the newborn princess, but uncomfortable among so many royals. She knew she was one of them by birth, but she felt like an outsider, like they were intentionally avoiding her. Her father greeted some of the kings and queens warmly, taking the time to meet their daughters, but none of the adults he greeted would speak to her. Why wouldn't any of them greet her? Were they intentionally avoiding her because she didn't have a mother?
"That's not the reason," a tranquil voice whispered from behind her. Spinning around, knowing that her father was too busy talking with the King of Jupiter to notice her, the princess found herself facing a tall, olive-skinned woman with long green hair and sad garnet eyes who seemed to be hiding in the shadows. Even though she was as richly dressed as the other royals, she didn't hesitate to kneel down to Haruka's level so they could speak more easily. "They know that your father has spent little time with you, so they believe that you are wild and uncontrollable. They are afraid to talk to you."
"I'm not wild," Haruka replied, crossing her arms over her chest. "I'm a Princess of Uranus and I know how to act in Court."
"Of course you do," the stranger whispered, smiling as she gestured at the modest crowd. It never crossed Haruka's mind to ask how this woman knew her thoughts, but she did question what she was expected to see.
"I don't understand."
"When the princess is presented, show everyone that you are an educated princess and that you deserve their respect and the future Queen of Uranus."
"I will," Haruka announced, squaring her shoulders as she glanced over her shoulder and smiled at her new friend. "Thank you . . ."
The woman sensed the question in the pause. "I am Setsuna, Queen of Pluto. It is a pleasure to meet you, Haruka."
The princess grinned as she dashed forward to rejoin her father, the king halfway across the room in an animated conversation with the King of Saturn. He had not noticed her absence, but she was determined to do something that would make all of them notice her. In the shadows of the room, Setsuna faded away, returning to the Queen's side just in time for the Presentation.
All noise in the small ballroom ceased as the heralds at the top of the stairs sounded their trumpets. The royals gathered in their family units, forming a rough circle around the small dais where the Queen would sit during royal parties and balls. With no more fanfare than that, the tall, silver-haired woman who ruled over them all entered the room, her long hair floating behind her. She carried a tiny bundle in her arm, her dark-haired king behind her as every royal hit one knee, bowing to their sovereign.
"Thank you all for coming," Queen Serenity whispered, her use of Lunarian indicating the importance of this event. Haruka glanced up and noticed that some of her fellow princesses were unable to completely understand the Queen, though she herself had been speaking the High Language for almost three years now. Serenity placed her tiny heir gently into the crib beside her throne, smiling as the royals rose and approached the throne. The King stood back, nearly in the shadows, having always been a vague presence at Court and never greatly noticed.
"It is good to see that all of you could make it," Serenity continued, speaking in Solarian for the sake of the children of her Queens. The queens of Mars and Venus smiled and embraced their queen, murmuring something to her too softly for Haruka to understand. All of the adults looked at the princess, bowing and moving away, leaving the children to meet their future queen.
Haruka decided that she would be the first princess to see baby Serenity, since she was already technically queen and most, if not all, of the girls around her were younger than her. Carefully lifting her expensive golden skirt, Haruka hopped up the two steps to the throne, leaning forward to see the baby princess. She felt all eyes turn to her, everyone wondering what this wild princess from Uranus would do, but Serenity opened her pale blue eyes at that instant, and nothing else seemed to matter. Her hair was blonde, just like Haruka's, but much more vibrant and probably much softer. She cooed and reached out her hand, giggling as only a baby could when Haruka's hand met hers.
"Princess Serenity, I swear to protect you at all costs from any threat, no matter where it originates. I promise to love you as my sovereign and guard you even when you tell me not to. I will never follow an imposter, and I will always recognize you, in this life and the next. This I swear, my Princess." Haruka bowed to the baby, feeling the weight of the Lunarian words she had spoken bind her heart. One could never make a vow in the High Language and fail to obey it, and she had no intention of failing to protect her princess. She might not be the most feminine Queen, and she might be a wild, untamed Uranian, but she would be the strongest Senshi she could in order to protect this girl.
She looked up as Queen Serenity placed a gentle hand on her shoulder, smiling at the blonde girl. "That was well said, Sailor Uranus. I know I can trust my daughter's life in your hands." Haruka blushed, sketching a clumsy curtsey to the queen, but the woman did not mock her efforts. "You have your mother's eyes, but there is a strength in you that she always wished to possess. You are truly her heir, Haruka, and I know my kingdom will be safe as long as you are guarding it."
And with Serenity's words, all doubts and worry were gone from the room. The other princesses gathered around Haruka, dividing their attention between the newborn and the Senshi who had seen her first, demanding to know her name and anything else about her that she was willing to share. From the shadows behind the throne, the King of the Moon smiled sagely, glad that the princesses were all getting along so well.
The princess of Jupiter introduced herself to Haruka first, her long pale green hair only barely as tamed as Haruka's, her soft emerald dress clearly dyed to match her vibrant eyes. "I am Jupiter Makoto, the only daughter of my family. My brothers are all so jealous that they couldn't come to see the princess today, but I am going to be Sailor Jupiter so Mother and Father brought me. Uranus is a planet of war, like Jupiter, isn't it? What's your favorite weapon?"
"Sword," Haruka replied, already warming to her new friend. "It's my talisman, too."
"My talisman is a quarterstaff and I've been practicing with it for years. I don't know about your planet, but on Jupiter you can only be a commander if you can defeat the previous one in armed combat. I have to defeat my mother to claim her henshin stick."
"The law is the same on Mars," another girl piped up, eager to join a conversation about war when she had dreaded the entire visit would be too girly. Her long, blood red hair shone with golden highlights in the brilliance of the room, and her amethyst eyes danced with joy to have found friends. "I'm Mars Rei, and I specialize in archery, though I am also learning to use swords. On Mars we never pick just one specialty since we are trained to use our enemy's weapon if necessary in combat. Mother tells me that Uranus, Jupiter, and Mars form the core of the Solar Army but it hasn't been needed offensively in hundreds of years."
"As Sailor Venus, it will be my duty to command the Senshi team and to be the decoy for the princess in times of need." The blonde girl pointed at her long hair ruefully, letting the other princesses see that she was nearly identical to the baby Serenity in coloring. "The princess is always blonde until she becomes queen and gains the full power of her court and the ginzuishou, so the physical similarities my line shares with her lets us protect her even from assassins. My talisman is a chain, but I like swords, too."
"We'll have to train together sometime," Rei offered, taking her new friend's hand excitedly.
"One day all of us will train together," a new voice piped up, the small blue-haired girl fidgeting shyly as she became the focus of the group. "Mother says we need to learn to fight together, so when we are old enough we will begin to train as senshi together. I'm Mercury Ami, and I specialize in strategy, healing, and protection."
"What's your talisman?"
Ami blushed lightly at Makoto's question, clearly concerned that her inheritance wasn't as impressive as her friends' talismans. "It's a harp, but I can't play very well yet."
"A harp? That is a wonderful instrument for a princess to play." The gentle voice washed over the other princesses, calming them and reminding them of days at the beach when the tide was coming in. The speaker, younger than Haruka but older than her other peers, smiled at the group as she brushed her wavy aqua hair over her shoulder. "It would be nice to play together some time when we are not busy training."
Haruka froze as the other princess's vibrant eyes locked with hers, absently noting that the sapphire orbs shone teal in the light. She felt drawn to the girl in a way she could not describe. "What . . . instrument do you play, Princess Haruka?"
"Piano," she managed to stutter out, not having planned to let anyone know her secret. "But I don't have much time for that with my weapons training."
"There is always time for art, even on a planet of war." The girl smiled and sketched a graceful curtsy. "I am Michiru, princess of Neptune, and my talisman is the Deep Aqua Mirror. On my planet we practice peace, though the senshi herself is well-versed in fighting tactics she needs to protect the kingdom from outside threats."
"It's very nice to meet all of you," Haruka remarked smoothly, noting that the princess from Neptune refused to look away from her. "I'm glad that we will be able to train together when we are older."
"Michiru!" The children looked up, startled, as an elegant woman in a lavender dress thundered up the group. Her long blue hair was streaked with aqua and tipped in white, her resemblance to Michiru obvious. "I will not have you associating with that rough child and ruining your education. A lady of Neptune must never consider the warrior mindset that is so prevalent on Uranus."
"Mother, I was just meeting the other future senshi," Michiru protested, grimacing in pain as her mother grabbed her arm and roughly dragged her away.
"There will be none of that, either. As an Outer Senshi you will fight alone so there will be no need to mingle with the warrior children of Jupiter, Mars, and Uranus." The rulers of the named planets glared at the Queen of Neptune as she passed them, furious at the insult to their planets but unwilling to argue with the irate woman. Haruka sensed that something terrible had happened among the kings and queens to isolate Neptune from her peers. She had no idea why the queen singled her out, though. As Michiru's mother removed her from the ballroom, her teal eyes locked with Haruka's emerald once more, a request and a promise passing between them. No matter what her mother thought, Michiru would see Haruka again.
As soon as the irate queen was gone, the other rulers gathered near the dais and began to collect their own children. Koshu, an old pain in his dark eyes, took Haruka's hand to lead her away. "Shousha is right, of course. No matter what Setsuna told me the other day, you won't be training with these girls. The Outer Senshi train and fight together and only interact with the Inner Senshi at Court functions."
"But what if I want to interact with them?" She glanced over her shoulder at the friends she had only just met as their parents separated them.
"It will most likely not be allowed. I'm sorry, but your destiny is a lonely one. Come, we must go home so I can show you your talisman."
"I'd rather have my friends," the blonde princess whispered, forcing back the tears threatening to fall from her stormy eyes.