A/N: Some things you should know: This is AU with some obvious plot influence from the series. This is primarily a Haruka/Michiru fanfiction as you may guess, but there will also be other pairings. However, I don't want to give them away. The major plot points are mapped out from here to the end of this little fanfic and it's going to be quite a journey.
Major thanks to my beta, Soleil-Lune.
Let this disclaimer stand for the whole fic: Sailor Moon belongs to Naoko Takeuchi and not to my poor college student self.
It was an old forest, the trees thick and tall. Twilight was made permanent by the leafy canopies, and in the few clean rays of sunlight, pollen floated almost mystically. Foliage and vegetation of all kinds ran along the patches of dark soil. Travelers to this forest were few and far between, and there was no discernable path to guide the wary journeyman. Most avoided the ancient woods with the legend and myth that wrapped around the darken edge of massive trees.
But only one tale proved to be more than mere folklore.
In the heart of the forest, past the twilight and nightfall, the trees cleared and the sun fell, leaving a small brook, grass, and wildflowers. In the center of this clearing lay a shrine as ancient as the forest. Made of stone, it was simple and small, with the trees towering above it. It could have been mistaken for a house, yet larger and more decorative than most, and marked with a carved symbol upon the front of its entryway.
A lone figure resided inside. She appeared as a beautiful young woman with long dark green hair a shade close to black. Her skin, darker than most, was a smooth light brown akin to one with a deep tan. Crimson eyes belied her true age; deep and wise, resolved, yet with a hint of weariness. Her facial features were carefully crafted, strong, but feminine with high cheekbones and thick lashes.
Her long frame was currently hunched over a simple oaken desk. A quill in hand, she was writing furiously, the quill scratching sharply against the parchment. Jars of ink and sheets of parchment covered the desk as well as a few lit candles for extra aid. Sunlight spilled in through open archways, casting the rest of the room into light. It was filled with books and parchment; scrolls too were stacked together completing the opened study.
She wore a long, simple dark red tunic with a black cross pattern and black belt at the waist. Her arms were bare except for a metal bracelet, and her feet, crossed at the ankles were adorned in hemp sandals. She lifted her quill from the parchment, and dipped it into an open jar of ink.
Suddenly, she froze, the quill stilling in midair and dripping ink onto desk. Her visage adopted an expression of barely discernable surprise, which meant she was actually quite startled to warrant that much.
Her eyes closed and she breathed outward, composing herself in a small sigh.
She stood, crimson hues narrowing, and she concentrated her energy. An aura surrounded her, power breathing around her form in a dark glow and making her all the more intimidating. She grasped the staff leaning against the corner of her desk and wall. Slender and silver, it had some curious slightly protruding edges. The staff all together resembled a key, but the most striking feature was the deep red orb mounted onto the top.
She took a few measured steps forward, leaving her study and stepping into the sunlight of the clearing. She held the staff in a practiced hand, it fitting comfortably into her grasp. She appraised her clearing with a measured look, and then spoke, her tone sharp yet low.
"You must be here for a reason. Don't cower away in the bushes."
A laugh echoed her words, a man's laugh, cocky and sure. A lone figured stepped out of the shadows at the edge of the trees.
He was taller than most men. Slightly scuffed black leather boots took surefooted steps as he approached. His midnight blue shirt, open at the neck and wrists was of the finest cloth and matched his black pants well. There was little sign to his aging, his clean-shaven face only creased with a few lines and his dark hair held no tint of gray. He had a thick, muscled torso and arms, hinted at by his shirt. A simple black cloak was fastened as his neck with a gold chain and a hilt of a hulking broadsword stuck up over his right shoulder.
She leveled her glaze at him as he stopped a few paces from her.
"Ochas of Areth. Why do you come to Charon?"
He smiled emptily in response, giving her a small bow. "I'm glad to hear you know of me Pluto, deity to the people of Revlis El'inmilnum. Charon is quite a distance away and navigating this forest is certainly no small task."
"Why are you here?"
"Oh? You mean you don't know?" He said lightly, keeping his empty smile.
"Do not take me lightly Ochas. I'll ask once more. Why are you here?"
"My, my…being in this forest for so long sure has stunted your conversational skills." He lifted his left hand and closed it into a fist. She raised her staff immediately in response, the orb on top of it brimming with power.
A dozen more figures emerged from the trees as a reply to Ochas's signal, and made their way toward the couple. These, in contrast to the simple, yet fine clothes of Ochas, were clad in various forms of armor and wielded a selection of vicious weapons.
Pluto's remained impassive. "Are you a fool? Do you not know who I am?"
"Which identity do you speak of? Pluto, the Guardian of Time or your other name, your human name…the one that has been long forgotten…Setsuna, do you mind if I call you that?"
A flicker of surprise crossed her face, but she recovered. "An arrogant fool who knows more than most then. What is it that you want?"
The other figures had all finished their approach and now loosely circled the two. They held their weapons out warily posed at the slender Guardian of Time.
Ochas stepped out of the circle, walking past his warriors. Setsuna kept her gaze on him as he walked toward her shrine, laying a hand on the smooth stone. He regarded her out of the corner of his eyes with a small smile.
"Charon has been here for a long time. As have you. You do have something I require…" He turned then and leaned against the stone wall, his stare cutting, "the Garnet Orb."
The warriors shifted around Setsuna, drawing closer. She stood still, composed and unmoving.
"A dozen men are all you bring? I thought you knew my power." Setsuna answered, energy flaring around her at the last of her words.
Swiftly, she reached out and grabbed the wrist of the nearest man. Ochas watched with what could only be satisfied fascination as the life drained away from the man, his body collapsing and decomposing in upon itself and turning completely lifeless in the space of less than a second. The other warriors backed away in response, eyes widening in fear, perhaps just now realizing who they faced.
Ochas pushed through his terrified warriors, drawing his sword made for two hands and wielding it with ease in one. Setsuna was quick to meet his blade. She swung, unleashing the power in the Garnet Orb only to stop in her tracks in shock as he merely held out a hand, smoking in an obsidian power, dissolving the purplish energy of her attack.
Ochas smirked at her momentary surprise, but again, Setsuna was quick to recover. This time, power exploded from her body in a flare of purplish energy. The soldiers around her wheezed once, hands going to their chests, and pain crossing their faces. With their hearts completely stopped, the soldiers fell to the ground dead. Yet Ochas still stood.
He caught the swing of her staff with his blade, and unleashed an obsidian power with his free hand directly into her diaphragm.
Setsuna choked and froze. He brought his hand back a small width brimming with the dark energy that stilled her completely. Ochas smiled as Setsuna's face skewed into a grimace of pain.
"You know, I especially liked how you killed the first man…just sucked his time away. You are a deity, aren't you?" He brought back his sword, but kept his hand poised just away from her torso, her body remaining frozen.
Ochas stuck the blade of his sword downward, leaving it in the soil of the ground. His smile disappeared as he studied the Garnet Orb. "Now…how to get this…"
Setsuna glared at him, her mind racing. She struggled, mentally and physically, anything to free her from Ochas's dark magic, especially now as he seemed distracted. Yet she found nothing. Even Time was held just at the edge, unable to be released.
"Ah…that's it." Ochas suddenly said after a minute of utter silence. He held out his free hand, gathering the now familiar dark energy into it and gripped the top of the staff. Setsuna cried out, body twisting in pain as the Garnet Orb came free, separating from the staff.
Ochas smiled in triumph, releasing Setsuna as he grasped the Orb in both hands, looking at it with a lustful gleam. She dropped to the ground in a heap, unmoving.
Ochas ran a hand almost reverently across the Orb's smooth surface, before appraising the collapsed Guardian of Time with a raised eyebrow. "I won't kill you. After all, where would Time be without its mistress? I need you alive to still give power to the Garnet Orb…but I can't have you wandering off to warn others and form meager plans. Stay here for me, won't you?"
He raised his hand, and Setsuna, who had just lifted her head to watch him warily, heard him mumble a few inaudible words under his breath. More obsidian energy shot forth from his hand, this time doming over the clearing. Setsuna stiffened on the ground, trying to form her own power, but her limbs felt too weak, her muscles refusing to move. Her last sight before darkness claimed her was of Ochas, smiling at the Garnet Orb as he sheathed his sword and walked away.
"It will only be a lunar cycle Haruka, and then we'll be back together. And Serenity will have returned by then too."
"Ah yeah…I don't see why I can't just go with you and then go to the mountain. We haven't been separated for this long since…"
"Since we've been together…yes."
"More than a full lunar cycle…agh…"
"If we traveled together that would double the journey. And while I certainly wouldn't mind, a lot of the people accompanying us would."
"Michiru, they don't really need us. We should stay in the capital anyway, they can go without us."
"But we told Serenity we would help as much as we could while she was gone. If they need us for something, it's the least we could do to honor our queen's words."
"Oh, stop. It is only a lunar cycle and then we'll be back together."
"You don't seem to care all that much about being away from me. And you know it'll take longer than a lunar cycle."
"Stop pouting love. Of course I'm going to miss you. Do you want to spoil our last night together for awhile…or…would you like me to show you how much I'm going to miss you?"
"Come here you."
"Hmm…that's the Haruka I know."
"Well…I suppose it isn't that long of a time in the grand scheme of things."
"Exactly. Ah, what would Serenity say if she heard you being so optimistic?"
A/N: Alright let's play unscramble the anagrams! I'll negotiate a prize if you can unscramble them all! And if you were already privy to the answers…then you don't count.
The words to unscramble are:
Just use your knowledge of Sailor Moon…and you'll find it easy enough. :)
As always, all reviews are appreciated.