ALL THAT GLITTERS
Chapter 1: "The Princess Gets An Idea"
A Neo-Sailor Moon fanfic
By Bill K.
Sailor Moon and all related characters are (c)2005 by Naoko Takeuchi/Kodansha and Toei Animation and are used without permission, but with respect. Story is (c)2005 by Bill K.
As always, for those only familiar with the English dub:
Finally, Haruka and Michiru are NOT cousins.
"Good morning, Princess Usagi," the computerized environmental maintenance program said through the speakers in the ceiling of Usa's bedroom. "The time is 0700. The day is October 29, 2996. Environmental control stations report a brisk day with a high expected to be twenty degrees centigrade. The sky is clear to partly cloudy with winds out of the north."
"Nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnngh!" grunted Usa. She clutched her pillow tighter and tried to burrow her head as far into it as she could without smothering. Her filmy pink nightie, which still gave her father fits that he couldn't quite conceal, rode up on her emerging woman's body. The sheet, twisted between her legs, tugged at her as she shifted on her futon.
"Princess Usagi," the computer prodded verbally. "It is now 0705 hours. If you do not get up, you will be late for school."
"So what?" Usa murmured, clinging to the warm spot on her mattress.
"Princess Usagi," the computer said when no response came in the allotted time. "This is your final warning. Please get out of bed."
Usa ignored the computer.
"Initiating sequence file Endymion 426," the computer stated.
Suddenly the room was filled with one hundred twenty decibels of Queen Serenity singing. The piercing sound knifed through the sleeping teen's ears until she couldn't stand it. Savagely kicking the covers away, the girl leaped to a sitting position on the bed.
"ALL RIGHT, END PROGRAM!" she bellowed to be heard over her mother's ear-splitting singing. "I'm up!"
"Thank you, Princess," the computer replied. "What ensemble would you like to wear today?"
"The blue jumpsuit, white boots and skirt," mumbled Usa. "I hate you, do you know that?"
"Yes, Princess," the computer replied with its maddeningly even, emotionless tone. Sighing, her pink hair cascading down her back in a thick mane, she trudged off to the bathroom. She was half way through her shower before she was awake enough to realize what day it was.
Stopping in the Royal Dining Quarters just long enough to say good-bye to her parents, Usa grabbed her school computer terminal.
"Good morning, Usa," her father said.
"Morning, Pop!" the teen said, gathering everything she needed as quickly as possible. Every moment she lingered was one less moment she could spend with her friends.
"Could you pause long enough for us to get a good look at you?" Endymion tossed out only half-mockingly. "We see you so rarely anymore that we're beginning to forget what you look like."
"Ha, ha, Pop," Usa scowled. She posed dramatically.
"That jumpsuit fits a little tight, doesn't it?" Endymion commented.
"Pop, don't start! Chastity belts went out of style a thousand years ago!"
"Yes, but decorum and common sense didn't."
"Fine, I'll wear a sack tomorrow! Will that make you happy?" She turned to her mother, Queen Serenity. Serenity looked barely awake, her head propped up on one arm while the other tried to put food in her mouth without using her eyes. "Actually made it out of bed, Mom?"
"Only as a favor to your father and my stomach," Serenity mumbled, trying to see out of eyes that didn't want to open. Her mouth only opened to take in breakfast when she felt the food press against her lips.
"And on that note," Usa grinned, heading for the door. Then she stopped. "Um, Mom, Pop - you do remember today is Puu's birthday, don't you?"
"Of course, dear," Serenity replied solemnly. "Were you coming to the memorial service tonight?"
"Yeah," Usa nodded. "I'll tell the Asteroids to be there, too."
"Ask the Asteroids," Serenity told her. "I don't feel right about forcing anyone to do anything."
"Yeah, unless she's your daughter," Usa muttered as she left.
The unkind thoughts quickly faded, replaced by memories of Sailor Pluto. Usa recalled once more how much she missed the tall, solemn senshi. She recalled all the time she spent with Sailor Pluto when she was a child and no one else in the palace had time for her. Sailor Pluto, the senshi of time, always seemed to have time for her. And she always seemed to have a smile for the little princess she dubbed 'Small Lady'. Few people seemed to realize just how easily Pluto smiled when given cause and just how radiant it was. Sailor Pluto seemed to smile so much in her presence, as if she got joy just from being around her. It was the same way with Hotaru now. Sailor Pluto - Puu - might have been the best friend she had until she met Hotaru.
Oh, did Usa miss her.
"I can imagine what you're thinking," the pink-tressed princess heard. Recognizing the lyrical, British-tinged tones, Usa looked down and found Diana walking with her.
"All you have to do is know what day it is," the teen sighed. "It's been three years since she went back into time, Diana. Three years since she's been gone. You'd think it would get easier."
"It is easier," Diana smiled. "You just don't realize it. Why, you should have seen yourself three years ago when you first found out. You were crushed. Now you're only melancholy. You see, time does heal."
"You should know, I guess."
"And she did sacrifice herself for a good cause," Diana added. "Going back in time to save Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune from that exploding helicopter was quite the courageous and selfless thing to do. It isn't certain that Pharaoh 90 could have been defeated without them. The world is as it is today because of her sacrifice."
"Yeah," sighed Usa. "But I still can't help wishing I could go back into time and snatch her away before the helicopter exploded. I miss her, Diana."
"As do I," Diana said with a tone of warning in her voice. "But mucking about in the past is EXTREMELY dangerous, My Lady. Please don't even consider doing such a rash thing. The consequences could be catastrophic!"
Up ahead, Artemis turned and corner and spotted his daughter with Usa. He approached them quickly.
"Morning, Kitten," he smiled. "Princess."
"Good morning, Dad," Diana smiled warmly.
"Your mother's looking for you," Artemis told the gray cat. "Something about tonight's memorial service."
"Oh, gracious!" Diana replied with obvious distaste. "Um, tell her - tell her I've got to tend to the Door Of Time!" Diana began to scamper off, then turned to the princess. "And PLEASE remember what I said, My Lady!"
"You want me to lie to your mother?" Artemis gasped.
"If you love me at all, YES!" Diana retorted and scampered off. Artemis looked up at the bemused princess.
"It's a good thing for her I do love her," Artemis quipped. "There's no way I'd brave something as dangerous as lying to Luna if I didn't."
Hotaru emerged from her sleeping quarters into the larger area she shared with Haruka and Michiru. Michiru was in the process of making breakfast, limping around the kitchen on her still bad legs, while Haruka sat at the table with her bad leg propped up on another chair. Michiru still suffered the effects of time spent on the planet Ravenheim, while Haruka was just nursing a pulled hamstring suffered running. The black-tressed waif bounded up to her adoptive parents and beamed at them.
"Good morning, Haruka-papa! Good morning, Michiru-mama!" she chirped.
"Good morning, Hotaru-chan," Michiru smiled.
"Morning, Firefly," Haruka smiled. "Hey, since you're the only one around here who can walk, could you fetch me that portable terminal. I want to catch up on the news streams."
"Yes, Papa," Hotaru replied patiently. Unlike Michiru, Haruka had been using her injury to guilt Hotaru into waiting on her.
"Did you have a good time with your young man last night?" Michiru inquired innocently. She smirked when she saw Hotaru's cheeks color.
"Yes, Mama," Hotaru whispered. "We got home on time!" she quickly added.
"Good thing," Haruka rumbled. "He didn't try anything, did he?"
"Papa!" Hotaru fumed. Then she noticed the chronometer-calendar readout panel on the wall. Hotaru's face went paler and her expression took on a sad, stricken quality. Haruka and Michiru picked up on this immediately.
"What did he do?" Haruka demanded.
"Nothing. It's not that, Papa," Hotaru replied softly. "I just realized today is Setsuna-mama's birthday."
Haruka and Michiru glanced helplessly at each other.
"It still hurts, doesn't it?" Michiru offered.
"Well yeah. Doesn't it still hurt with you?"
"All the time," Michiru told her. "Having been away in space for so long - and part of that time trapped on Ravenheim, we only just found out. Setsuna was here the last time we were here. To find out she's gone," and Michiru dabbed a tear from her eye, "and moreover to find out why she's gone," and Michiru's lip began to quiver. She was unable to go on.
"Mama?" Hotaru inquired.
"We all know how special Setsuna was, Firefly," Haruka said. "Knowing she's gone is hard to take."
"And knowing she's gone," Michiru croaked, fighting a losing battle to keep her tears at bay, "because she had to save us - because we were so stupid and arrogant that we blundered into - into that trap . . .!"
Hotaru was by her adoptive mother's side instantly, catching the woman as she collapsed into tears. Haruka looked on, her own survivor's guilt pushed aside by concern for her mate.
"It's not your fault, Mama," Hotaru whispered. "Please don't cry. It's not your fault."
"If we'd just," Michiru gasped out, "planned better . . .!"
"No, Mama, don't say that. You couldn't know." Hotaru gripped Michiru tighter. "If it's anyone's fault, it's mine. None of you would have been there if you didn't have to stop me."
"Hey!" Haruka said sharply. "None of that! It's not your fault Mistress 9 took you over. You were a kid and sick besides. You were up against something that was stronger than you."
"Yes, dear," Michiru added, stroking the girl's hair. "And even then you kept fighting, kept trying to stop her. And you finally won."
"Thanks to Sailor Moon," Hotaru whispered.
"Yes, Sailor Moon helped," Michiru cooed. "But you were the one who beat her - and you were the one who beat Pharaoh 90 ultimately. Never forget that. You saved the world."
"We saved the world," Hotaru replied softly. "Were you coming to the memorial service tonight? If it's too painful, I understand."
"We'll be there," Michiru whispered. "It's the very least we owe her"
The gathering was small, intimate. All the elder senshi were there, in their civilian guises, inners on one side of the room and Haruka and Michiru on another. Hotaru was there, with Yutaka. Usa was there with the Asteroid Senshi in tow. Cere-Cere was still melancholy and lonely while her love Gallan hibernated the winter. Ves-Ves fidgeted from boredom to hide her distaste at facing the fact that senshi did die in the line of fire. Jun-Jun glanced cautiously at Palla-Palla from time to time, but to her surprise her 'sister' seemed to sense the gravity of the situation and was very solemn. Usa had Diana in her lap and the pair seemed to console each other, while Luna and Artemis sat nearby and kept their own council.
No one else came. No one else in Crystal Tokyo had known the mysterious, shadowy figure known as Sailor Pluto. Stories had passed around and been augmented over the centuries about the mysterious senshi in black and green. She was ten feet tall and carried a staff that could cut you down in the blink of an eye. To risk looking at her courted madness, for none but the royal family and their guardians could gaze at her fantastic but cold beauty and stay sane. She could look at you and instantly know your past and your future, but to touch her was death. She walked alone, guarding the city against demons and devils that might swallow them up, a lone sentinel at the mouth of Hell. Perhaps she was part demon herself, defeated by the great Queen Serenity and bound to her service. Only the Queen and the equally charming Princess could approach such a fearsome being without fear.
During her long life Sailor Pluto had become a myth and a recluse, and neither has many friends. Yutaka was there only as a favor to Hotaru, while the Asteroids came because they knew how important Setsuna was to the Princess.
The door to the room opened. Queen Serenity glided in flanked by King Endymion. Her usual beaming smile was dimmed with the gravity of the moment. The door was closed. Rei got up, dressed in her priest's robes, and performed a purification ritual for the room. She nodded to the King and Queen, then sat down between Ami and Minako.
Serenity stood before the gathered, took a breath and searched for a way to begin.
"This is the third year we've honored our fallen friend Setsuna Meioh," Serenity began haltingly, "and it doesn't seem to get any easier. Perhaps that's a good thing. If it got easier, it would mean we were beginning to forget. That's something we can't do."
"That's right," Rei whispered. There were several nods of ascension among the group: Minako, Hotaru, Usa and Haruka. Michiru gripped her handkerchief more tightly.
"Setsuna was always dedicated to her mission," Serenity continued. "She was loyal to the dream we all fight for and always willing to sacrifice her own needs in favor of that mission. But she was more than that. She was kind, knowing, caring woman with a heart that loved selflessly and truly. She always gave. You had to force her to take, to see to her own needs." Serenity's lip began to quiver. "It's a fight I loved to be in! Someone had to look after her or she'd give and give until there was nothing left! I kept after her for centuries to take a moment for herself!" The queen paused to gather her voice. "And the one time I didn't do it . . ."
Serenity's shoulders began to shake and Endymion knew to step in. He gathered her up and led his wife to a seat amid sympathetic stares from the others.
"I-I'm sorry," Serenity squeaked as she sat down.
"Would anyone like to speak next?" Endymion asked.
To the surprise of all, Hotaru meekly got up and walked over. Endymion gave way and let her take her place before the group.
"I,' she began shyly. "This is my first time. I wasn't here the last time. I was in the twentieth century. You all know why I had to leave. It was hard. One of the reasons it was so hard to leave was because I was leaving three of the most wonderful people in the world. Haruka-Papa and Michiru-Mama and Setsuna-Mama were all so kind to me. They took me in when my real father couldn't care for me. They raised me and they loved me - even though I'd been trying to kill them just a few weeks before. They were all so wonderful to me. I wondered for the longest time what I'd done to deserve them."
Ves-Ves glanced over to Usa and noticed the princess wiping her eyes.
"And then I had to leave," Hotaru continued, her own eyes watering. "And it was hard. I think sometimes the only way I was able to do it was because Setsuna-Mama told me back then that we'd meet again." Hotaru struggled to keep her tears at bay. "I wish you hadn't been wrong, Setsuna-Mama. I really miss you."
The young waif stumbled back to her seat and feel into Yutaka's arms, nestling against him as she cried on his shoulder.
One by one the other senshi got up and spoke. They told stories, shared feelings and memories, all in an effort to exorcize their grief, for though Sailor Pluto had died a thousand years in the past, it had only been known for a mere three years. One by one they all spoke until only Usa, the Asteroids and Yutaka remained. Recovered from her own tears, Queen Serenity glided over and knelt down next to her daughter's chair. She could see her child's brow was knit and the girl was deep in thought.
"Usa Honey?" Serenity said, touching the girl's hand and drawing her out of her deep thought. "Did you want to say something?"
"Um," Usa began, then stopped. Her finger began nervously twirling the end of one of her pink ponytails. "Uh, no. Maybe I better not."
"Are you sure?" Serenity asked. "Everyone knows how close you and Setsuna were. No one will look down on you if you get emotional."
"It's not that," Usa began, then retreated again. "I - just don't want to, OK?"
"All right," Serenity said. She leaned in and kissed her daughter on the cheek, then stood up and faced the audience. "Thank you all for coming. I hope Setsuna heard us. I hope to see all of you here next year."
The senshi and friends began to file out. The Asteroids were about to join them, but stopped when Jun-Jun noticed Usa motion them over. The four girls gathered around their Princess.
"Did you want us for something, Princess?" Jun-Jun asked.
"Yeah," Usa replied, still mentally debating something. "Can I come by a little later and bounce something off of you four?"
"But you can't tell anybody," Usa demanded. "Nobody but the five of us can know about this."
The Asteroids nodded - what choice did they have. Usa was off like a shot out the door, leaving them staring after her.
"What do you suppose she's got cooking this time?" Ves-Ves asked her sister. Jun-Jun could only shake her head.
Continued in Chapter 2