Disclaimer: I do not own Sailor Moon.
By Silver Sailor Ganymede
Death had come for him: that was the only thought that raced through the man's mind as he stood within the maw of oblivion itself. Death had come to claim his soul; he was damed forever… Biting cold and searing heart gnawed like vicious demons at his body and mind, and indeed at his soul itself: the pain coursed throughout his veins and held him in a state somewhere between torment and rapture, making him cry out as tears began to fall from his eyes, though he did not know which of these two states had caused these tears to come; perhaps it was a combination of the both. Life and death, love and hate, time and space, pleasure and pain: at that time he knew them all, and he knew that none of them truly ecisted; they were merely states of mind that mortals fooled themselves into believing to be reality. All life was an illusion, an unbreakable illusion, but now… now he was above it all… all these illusions had been broken…
He felt the pain of a thousand Hells – or was it a thousand Heaven's? He didn't know the difference any longer – sear within him as he was pushed back into reality. He suddenly felt colder than the ice on the fartherst asteroids as he blearily pulled open his lead-like eyelids and scanned the place around him. It was then that he realised that this place was not reality as he knew it: it was neither time nor space nor anything else… it was just there, a tair in the fabric of the universe. That was when realisation finally came to him; he had done it, he had finally done it! He had done what had before been presumed to be completely impossible; he had created a doorway between times, a doorway between worlds. Whatever they had been taught of the Gods must surely have been wrong, he thought, for they said only gods possessed the ability to shape space and time; they were wrong, for a mortal like myself can do this… a mortal like myself can become a god…
With that he wretched, coughing and coughing until blood began to run down the corners of his mouth. He was beyond exhausted but he had no care about that; he had done it, he had become the Lord of Time. He, King Chronos of Pluto, was no longer a mortal; he had become a god…
"The tapestry is coming undone," a voice like a silver bell rang crisp and clear through the cavounous hall. The word's echoed back and fore as if trying to attain an eternal melody amongst themselves.
"The tapestry?" a second voice, darker in timbre this time but soft as velvet. "You mean a mortal has broken through the fabric of our universe?"
"Yes," the first figure nodded. "A mortal."
"The King of planet Pluto in the Sol system."
The second figure paled. "Chronos… you should never have let him live among mortals… never have let him believe he was mortal…"
"It's too late for that, Mors."
"Gaia, we must go back and change the timeline…"
"Even I do not have that power," the first reliped, her voice darkening slightly with sorrow. "I control life, you control death: we can give or take life but
not what is in between."
"Then whom among us has that power?"
"None of the council of five whield power over time. We control life, death and the three elements that create it. We are of space, time is not: it is omnipotent, beyond our control."
"Then why has he been granted that power?"
"He his my son, half deus, half mortal; perhaps that is why time yeilds unto him alone."
"Perhaps, but what is to be done about this situation."
"Nothing, Mors," Gaia quietly replied. "We will watch and wait, and let time, however distorted it has become, take its destined course."
Far away from the halls of the council lay a small, completely insignificant planet that was known by the name of 'Te'empus'. It had once been rich and prosperus, trading with many local starsystems, but that was before the draught had set in. The planet, which had once been covered mostly in fresh, pure water, was fast becoming inhospitable, uninhabitable desert: bcause of that the economy had crashed leaving interplanet trade almost impossible. Most Te'emusia'ahns fled the dying planet, but some, the poorest of all, were forced to remain on Te'empus as it edged closer towards its final demise.
These few who remained banded into nomadic tribes so that they could move around and find the water, which was fast becoming scarce. They would move from place to place, taking refuge in now semi-derilict buildings. Only Ma'athajh'ja, the rulers of Te'empus, had enough money to irrigate land in order to keep their palaces from draught. Conditions on Te'empus were harsh, almost unbearable at times, but still many survived in the foreboding conditions, no matter how impossible that may have seemed.
This is a story of one of these Te'emusia'ahns, a girl whose birth was surrounded by mysetry, an illigitemate child with dark, green-black hair and terrifying, blood-coloured eyes, a girl who was raised solely by her mother; she never knew her father, nor which planet he had been from, for it certainly wasn't Te'empus. This is the story of Setsuna, born without a surname and later found to be Hadesah Setsuna… but that will become clearer later.
The girl's early life was peacful, no matter how enpoverished her family had been. It was a pluss side that her clan had no war with any others and was able to trade peacfully, sometimes trading its beautiful garnet sculptures with even the Ma'athajh'ja. Beatiful garnet sculptures that were, oddly enough, the same hue as Setsuna's eyes. Perhaps that was an omen of sorts, for the girl was quickly revealed to have immense talent at carving some of the most spectacular garnet sculptures ever seen, even within her own clan.
She lived her life in peace with her mother and her family, but one day, tradgedy struck. No one knew how exactly Setsuna's mother had become ill, but whatever illness it was it had struck her hard and fast. She died a month after contracting the illness. Needless to say Setsuna was left in a state of shock: she channelled all of these negative emotions into her carving and produced more beautiful garnet sculptures than had ever before been seen on Te'empus: beautiful, yes, but forever mournful.
Soon news of the girl's immense talent had travelled far beyond Te'empus: indeed it has travelled beyond the reaches of the Kjithas'toaar system, though because of the way in which Te'empus was ruled she and her clan were still impoverished.
But one day Setsuna received a summoning from the Zj'haii Ma'athajh'ja, the High Ruler of Te'empus. She was terrified of what might happen but decided to go regardless; it was what her mother would have wanted, she said. This is where her story truly begins; it was the beginning of the end for this talented young girl.
Setsuna still remembered that day, when she was brought to the Palace of the Zj'haii Ma'athajh'ja. She had known in her heart that that was what she had had to do: she had known it all along. Her psychic powers had scared those of her clan, so she tried to keep them hidden: but she had seen this meeting coming, though whether it would be for good or evil she didn't know.
She remembered being spellbound by the architecture of the Zj'haii Ma'athajh'ja's palace: it was as terrifying yet wonderful as the garnet itself. She was afraid to touch anything there though; she had heard of the Ma'athajh'ja's cruelty, so she was surprised to find that the Zj'haii Ma'athajh'ja was nothing more than a gnetle, kindly old man. His deep green eyes readiated not malice but wisdom and he had a faint smile on his wrinkled brown face. The man with him, however, was different entirely, and he was certainly not a Te'emusia'ahn. His skin was white as the bone, but his hair was black as midnight, tinged perhaps with deep green, and his eyes were the shade of blood… the shade of garnets. Indeed Setsuna found his resemblance to her quite disturbing.
"Who are you," she asked him, her garnet eyes narrowing in suspiscion.
"I am Chronos, King of Hades in the Sol system. You may know the planet as Pluto, is that not correct?" he spoke and Setsuna noted that his voice had a brilliantly rich, dark timbre.
"King?" she asked: the word was completely alien and unfamiliar to her.
"King," he replied. "Like the Zj'haii Ma'athajh'ja."
She nodded, she understood: it made sense to her that other planets would have hieraachy also.
"But why have you come from your planet to here?" she asked with suspision in her voice. She would not be taken as a concubine for some alien ruler. He laughed as she thought this and she was shocked.
"I have better reasons that that for taking you with me," he replied. "Much better reasons. Pluto is, as a whole, lacking in those with a gift for art, and I would be much honoured if you would come with me to my court."
Setsuna's instinct was to refuse his offer, but she then realised that this was a command in guise of a request and it would be far better for her to take it graciously.
"I would be delighted, King Chronos," the girl lied through her teeth.
He smiled despite the fact he could see through her lie. "We leave tomorrow."
She was shocked, of course, but she had no time to reply as the man had disappeared from sight and she somehow knew that no matter how hard she tried she would not find him. Her fate had been sealed.
Setsuna did not recall her journey to Pluto; the last thing she remembered was being in a room in the Palace of the Zj'haii Ma'athajh'ja, but now she knew for certain that she wasn't in the Palace, or indeed on Te'empus at all. It felt strange, the cold seeping into her soul like it had never done before. Not even the coldest night on Te'empus was like this…
She sat up in bed and looked around the room: it was all so dark, so strange… so cold. She felt tears coming into her eyes and falling down her face; she knew she would never see her family again: she was stuck on a desolate planet, even moreso than her own, and she was alone again, so alone. She burried her head into her knees and continued to cry and cry until there were no more tears left. She was alone on an alien world, more than she had ever been before. There was nothing left.
Setsuna had somehow managed to adjust to life on Pluto surprisingly quickly. The Hadesahn Court was as different from her previous life as it was possible to get; the people of Pluto were rich beyond the wildest dreams of even the wealithiest Te'emusi'ahns, even the peasents had silver abound.
The weekly balls were probably the hardest things for Setsuna to get used to; there were no such events of Te'empus, not even among the Ma'athajh'ja. It had felt extremely strange to her the first itme she had had to wear a heavy, floor length dress of such rich fabric and ornate design. She had felt trapped by it, uncomfertable, and she still was not used to it even after months on Pluto.
However the strangest things about the balls were the guests that frequently arrived. That night the deligation had come from the planet Poseidon, which Setsuna had known previously as Ne'eptüne, the ruling planet of Sol, though Pluto seemed somewhat independent to this rule: in fact it seemed almost as though King Chronos was superior to the Queen of Neptune – Setsuna later found out that a queen was the female equivelent of a king and found the concept quite bizzare, as the Ma'athajh'ja were exculsively male.
She remembered that night particularly well, and this was not without reason. The moons of Pluto had been shining an almost unnatural hue at that time; their cold, unforgiving spheres glaring down at this tiny and yet immensley powerful kingdom. She had been staring out one of the windows and admiring this fact at the time; it was beautiful, so beautiful, and yet there was just something she could not rid her thoughts of, a feeling of unease that deepend with every passing minute.
She had turned from the window then and seen some of the Poseidonah deligation standing behind her, along with King Chronos himself; she rarely caught sight of him, even though Pluto was such a small place; she supposed he was often away from his homeland, visiting other planets and organising treaties with them. Next to him was the Queen of Poseidon, Queen Sireane: her looks were as astounding to Setsuna as she knew her own had been to those of her planet. The Queen's hair was strangely curled and cascaded down her back in a waterfall of seagreen and her dark golden eyes stared shrewdly at Setsuna as she stood there, trying her best not to stare.
"You never told me you had a daughter, Chronos," the queen spoke, her golden gaze piercing to Setsuna. She expected the King to correct the Queen, but he made no move to either affrim or deny what she had said. That was when Setsuna began to worry; the King's sanguine gaze was wavering, the tears coming unbidden into his eyes. He turned away and that was when she realised the truth; there had been a reason she had been taken to Pluto after all, and it had nothing to do with the garnets.
For weeks after this incident, Setsuna hardly left her quarters at all: she only engraciated herself with the people when she was obliged to do so. That night there had been no ball to attend so Setsuna was glad to finally have a change to rest in peace. It was just before she fell asleep, however, that someone knocked on her door. She glanced up, thinking she was hearing things in her state of half-slumber: then the knock came again, louder this time. She sighed and stood up, glaring at the ornate wooden door as she did so, then walked over and opened it, but nothing could have prepared her for whom it was that waited outside.
The King himself stood there, regal in his blood-colored robes even at that late hour. His hair was out of place, falling from where he had tied it at the nape of his neck, and his sword, slung so loosly and carelessly at his side, was glowing in an almost preternatural way. Setsuna wondered why he was in such a state, though she knew better than to ask.
"May I come in?" he asked, more out of politeness than an actual request. She nodded; it would not be wise to refuse him, and maybe she would get some of the answers she so badly sought.
He closed the door behind him and walked over to one of the chairs in her room, Setsuna herself perching on the edge of her bed then he pulled the sword from where it had been at his side. Setsuna felt her eyes widen; what was he going to do to her? Why come into her room then so suddenly draw a sword, what had she done wrong? She flinched away, every inch of her effort being used in order that her eyes remained open, and was shocked as he stood up and placed the now glowing sword into her lap.
She stared up at him, feeling both somewhat relieved and utterly perplexed at the same time; why had he handed her his sword, something he was never seen without? She stared at the blade more closely and noticed that it's argentine surfice was alive as bizzare shapes and forms snaked their way across it, eventually fading away one by one, flames snuffed out by a cold, biting wind.
"What are those shapes?" the question was out of her mouth before she could stop it. "Why are there ancient runes on this sword?"
He sighed, as though he had half been expecting her question, yet that still did not clear up why he seemed so sad, so lost. He averted his eyes from both Setsuna and the sword then opened his mouth to speak.
"So you can see them," he sighed, his words half question, half statement. "I feared as much."
She frowned: what did he mean? What was there to fear from runes, unless of course an ancient form of dark magic cursed the sword itself… yet there was something about those runes; it was almost as though they were too old to be possible, reminents of a time unimaginable, almost as though...
"Those runes were set upon the sword at a time when magic itself did not exist," Chronos said, his voice almost inaudible.
"A time when magic did not exist?" Setsuna asked, her confusion growing. "But magic has always existed…"
"There was a time before always, a time before time itself. The nothingness, the deus; they were the ones who made this, it bears no curse." He paused for a moment then continued, "Only those descended from Gaia are able to see those runes. I was her only son, the bastard child of a goddess and a mortal man," he spat this out and Setsuna could almost taste the bitterness in his words. Her eyes widened with recognition as she realised what he had meant by this statement.
"But if you were her only descendent and I can see these runes, then that must mean…" she trialed off. "Queen Sireane was right…"
"You're my daughter, Setsuna, the only heir to the throne of Pluto, the only heir to a line of gods that spans back before the beginning of time itself," he replied.
"But if you knew then why didn't you say sooner?" she asked, feeling tears rise in her own eyes, so very like her… father's. It felt so strange to be able to put a face to that word… father.
"I wanted to save you from what I went through," he replied. "I never knew my mother; she left soon after I was born, back to her own realm; they do not interfear with us so much as we do with them, only when fate calls for it. I didn't want to know that I had caused anyone to suffer in much the same way I suffered because of my mother. I'm sorry."
She sighed; apologies were of no use to her, and had he not come at the right time, to save her from what may otherwise have been disaster. She told him as such; bitterness had no use to her, and he smiled slightly; perhaps there was one thing, at least, that he had done right.
"You're not alone now," he sighed, "not anymore."
He left her and closed the door behind him, and she was glad of the fact that she couldn't see the tears that had begun to snake there way down her face.
Eyes of stone surveyed the desolate plane on which they had landed. A black cloak was wrapped around this figure, obscuring its features: there was a reason for this but no one need know that. This lone figure leant back into the chill winds that wrapped around the corrupt little planet like a blanket, tears falling unseen from its eyes, glowing rubies that could be seen even under the black hood it wore.
It was then that a second figure appeared, one that was taller than the first though it too wore a cloak that covered all of its features from view. It seemed more comfertable in the biting cold than its companion, perhaps unnaturally so. The two stood in silence for a time until the second spoke.
"You must go, Gaia," it's voice had a rich, dark timbre to it, like black velvet.
"I know," the second sighed, its clearly female voice musical even in its deep sadness. "I know."
The second figure sighed and disappeared, leaving the other alone to greive silently about a task that must be done, no matter of her own thoughts and feelings. She walked quickly towards the palace of Pluto, the only grand structure on that place. She knew that the King must never have let his daughter stray from their palace; she would never have remained there had she seen the abject poverty in which their people lived.
Guards stood at the gates of the palace, cold sneers on their blue-tinged faces visbale underneath thick layers of fur. The first reached out to grab her, to turn her away from the palace. Quick as lightning she drew a blade from the folds of her robes and sunk it through the furs and into his chest, though nowhere vital was pierced; all the poison on the blade would do was put him in a deep sleep for a while.
Others grabbed her from behind and kept her from moving, though this was exactly what she had wanted. Her plan was working: they took her round into the dungeons of the palace where she spoke. She had to see the King immedeately; she would curse them if they did not let her. To show she was not speaking in jest she did as such, placing a simple, harmless hallucination curse on one and making the other fall unconcious. They paled in fear then and she knew that her plan was working.
For a long while, life on Pluto passed peacefully for Setsuna. Sadly this peace was not meant to last forever. That day had started out just like any other since Setsuna had found out the truth about her heritage, in fact it was not until she received summons from her father that she knew something out of the ordinary had happened.
When she arrived at the throne room he was sitting on his throne, his customary burgundy robes flowing around him like a river of wine, his eyes narrowed at a prisoner who was bound infront of him. Setsuna could not see the captive's face for it was clothed in hooded, black robes, and nor could she tell if this prisoner was a man or a woman.
She strode over to where her father sat, trying her best not to shiver as she walked through the cell-like throne room where only darkness shone. Had she not known better she would have thought that this was the lair of some demonic overlord, but her father was not like that; he was not obsessed with power and thus he was not evil, was he? She reached the dias on which he sat then turned to look at the prisoner, whom she then saw was bound as well as being held back by guards. Her curiosity grew. Then the wave of power struck her and she fell forward onto the floor, her world spinning round in an entirely chaotic manner.
It stopped. She looked up, tears in her eyes, and shakily stood again. This force, what was it? Only the gods had such power as to infect the mind in any way, only the gods… Her face paled; was it true? Was it a god that her father now held to his mercy? She felt that even if that was the case, and she knew it was unlikely, it would hardly surprise her at all; nothing surprised her now, not after what she had found out.
Setsuna looked up at the cloaked figure in front of her and felt a pang of recognition. Perhaps it was just the curse toying with her mind, perhaps not; she had no way of telling. It was then that the room began to get hazy: Setsuna felt panic rising in her chest; she had never seen this happen before, what was going on?
The next thing she knew, the guards had disappeared from the throneroom, leaving only her, her father and the cloaked figure standing there. Chronos had risen to his feet, his eyes ablaze with fury.
"Who are you and what the hell did you just do," he hissed, his temper cold as always. The figure just sighed in response and tossed its head to one side, or at least it seemed to do so.
"You know who I am," the figure spoke, its voice clear as a silver bell but tinged with unimaginable sadness. "At least you may do, I doubt he ever told you about me or why I left you here."
Chronos' eyes flashed in hatred at that again but his face remained an icy mask. "I've asked you before, now tell me, who are you?"
"My name is Gaia," came the reply as the figure tossed back the hood and revealed its face. The figure's hair was the deep green of endless lakes but its eyes were red, pinpricks of blood against the Plutonian darkness. "You know the rest."
An animalistic growl came from Chronos' throat as he lost his temper and leered at her, "Why now do you choose to meddle with our world again? Why now, now everything is perfect?"
She shook her head and sighed again, "I have only come because the council decreed that it would be so."
"The council?" Setsuna asked, curiosty getting the better of her.
"You're a curious child," Gaia smiled, "A pity really, knowledge is not the truth many would think it to be.
"But yes, the council. The Council of five is…"
"It's the council of the five most superior gods and goddessess," Chronos spat. "Gaia is it's meddling head.
"Now I asked you before, and give me a straight answer this time, why are you here?"
"You speak to me as though you are a deus and not simply a…"
"I know exactly what I am," Chronos sneers, the venom clearly audible in his voice. "A pathetic halfbreed. But I changed that when I found the key to Time, I have become what I was born to be!"
Gaia shook her head, "My son, that was always your fault; you would try to become someone you are not and never will be. Your blood is your blood; your powers are your powers. Not even we have the ability to meddle with time, and it should stay that way. Everything happens for a reason."
"Yes," he hissed, "everything happens for a reason. Do you not think that everything might possibley include what I have done? Do you not think I was born this way inorder that I become not equal but superior to you? No? I thought as much, you never think yourselves, only do as whatever else almighty commands you to do, is that not so?"
"You were not born to change the flow of time," she sighed, "and Time is no one's to change in such a way as you have, you should have realised that and ye…"
"And yet I managed to understand it in such a way that you could never even dream of," came the furious King's reply. "I have maipulated Time itself!"
"No, you have torn time. You have created a wound in the fabric of the universe that is irreprable; the tapestry is spiriling out of control, the stream of life has changed its course now. Someone must now watch over Time and manipulate it lest the future of all universes be changed."
"If that is all I have to do, then fine, I gladly give up my post in this filthy mortal world."
"No, Chronos, the council has dclared that…"
"I do not give a damn what the Council say," the vemon was so thick in his voice this time that Setsuna could almost feel it choking the air around her.
"The counil has declared that you be placed under eternal sleep in order that you do not create even more harm that you already have done," Gaia said, tears filming over her eyes.
"Then what has Time now to do with me?" Chronos asked, his own fate seeming nothing to him. "Besides, the eternal sleep will not harm me; I am the highest immortal that has ever lived."
"The Guarding of the Gates shall be the post of your daughter."
"It is not the place of the council to decide what her fate shall be!"
"It has to be done," Gaia whispered. She reached out a touched Chronos lightly on the cheek. It was then that tears fell from her eyes and matter began to form from nowhere. Heat, cold, pain, pleasure, light, darkness, real, ethereal, all opposites combined into one: the bitter King fell into a deep, dark sleep, a garnet crystal encasing his body as his eyes stared out maliciously and his face contorted in pain and anger. His glowing sword was still clutched to his chest, ready for any battle he might face in future, if the future ever came.
Setsuna was shocked; she didn't know what to do. She tried to run but found herself completely petrified, unable to move. Chains of a substance somewhere between the light, shadows and darkness had bound her. She fell to the floor, tears of fear and humiliation freely falling as she shook in terror of what was to come. She glanced up at the darkness of the throne room to the garnet prison of her father. Then there was nothing.
She never saw her father or her planet again.
Setsuna did not know how long she was unconsicous for – it may have been seconds, it may have been eons; time had no meaning there, she knew, although where exactly they were remained a mystery to her. She felt that whatever had bound her was gone now; she sat up and stared around. Wherever she was it was a ruin… it was old, like the sword… the sword.
She shuddered slightly, at the memory of the sword… the sword he had died with but never attempted to use on his mother, the goddess whom he had despised so much.
The single building in front of her was grand but ruined, old, new and nothing at all. Strange plants spiraled along its surface like so many snakes. However the most striking feature of the place, wherever it was, were its gates. They were made of pure garnet stone and appeared heavy, though when Setsuna, on impulse, touched them they swung open as though made of nothing more than the air itself. She studied the carvings on the gates, fierce battles and utopia, life and death: everything was, in some form or another, depicted on those gates. Things that has passed, things that were and things that were yet to come: they were all depicted there somehow, everything. It was then that the hypnosis kicked in and Setsuna found herself moving against her will… moving into the swirling argentine mists that lay beyond those beautiful yet foreboading gates…
She walked continuously for a while, though for how long she had no way of telling, until she stopped. The mists had no scent, no taste, no feeling whatsoever to them and that made Setsuna… uneasy. She saw a shadow out of the corner of her eye and spun around, a cold sweat breaking out as she did so. Then a hand clasped her shoulder and she spun around, screaming.
Gaia stood there, greif lining her features.
"It's no use crying," she whispered. "No use at all. No one can hear you now; we are outside of everything you know. This dimension has no space, no reality, no imagination… nothing. It is simply Time." She tightened her grip on Setsuna's shoulder somewhat. "I'm sorry."
"It has to be done. It is not my will… but it has been written by the hands of Gods, so it shall be done."
Setsuna felt a jolt of pain such as she had never felt in her life. She collpased to her knees, clutching around where her heart lay: then she realised that it was not pain at all… it was pain and pleasure all at once. She knew everything, everything and yet nothing, knowledge was a curse. Tears fell from her eyes and her breath caught in her throat, ragged, salty. She let out an inhuman scream when this chaos of the senses reached its climax. Her vision went red, blurred, and she shivered uncontrollabley. And then it subsided.
Gaia stood in front of her, holding in her hands a distortion of everything and nothing. Her eyes closed in deep thought and then a swirl of blood formed and encased the strange distortion. Setsuna realised then that she could not feel anything, and it was not just the torture that made her feel this way; she did not feel drained… just empty, completely, utterly and unendurabley empty. Then Gaia handed her four keys of emerald and the orb. It was then that she knew why she felt so cold; her sould had been taken from her and encased in garnet for all eternity.
"I'm sorry," Gaia whispered, reaching down and pressing her cold lips to Setsuna's own icy flesh. She disappeared forever and left Setsuna lying there, on the floor of the Halls of Time, a bleeding, souless child, punished for a crime that was not her own, held to a fate that she could not bear.
A dying child she was as she lay there, a dying young girl and nothing more. Her soul had been taken from her and her lifeblood bled at such a rate that she felt she would surely die… yet she did not, and she knew she never would. Her punishment was eternal, she was a dying immortal, a shattered innocent with bloodied garents for eyes, bloodied garnets that had seen too much of the world… and would never see it again because of her fate.
She had only the cold and the emptiness to look forward to then, an eternity of cold: an eternity of emptiness… an eternity alone. The garnet spheres of her eyes were bloodied; they were broken, shattered… her soul was lost forever.