It was quiet. Quiet and still. Save for the sounds of her own breathing, all Pluto could hear was the sibilant whisper of the dust stirred by her own footsteps. Everywhere she looked there was nothing, just flat black rock as far as her eyes could see, in whatever direction she cared to look.
"My lady…" she reached up to adjust the communicator at her ear. "My lady, is there anything down there?"
"Nothing," she replied. "Have you been able to spot anything from up there?"
"No." The crackle of static filled her ears. "Something… is jamming our… scanners."
Pluto frowned. Rather than bring a battle fleet, she had chosen instead to bring an assortment of reconnaissance craft. In the unlikely event that she actually found her quarry, then a battle fleet would have been at best completely useless, at worst a wanton provocation.
"I see." Pluto pursed her lips and studied the featureless terrain for a few more moments. "Have you been able to get a general topography of the planet?"
More static. "Yes… it was difficult considering the clouds… but we've got some rough charts… we can send them to you now…"
"Good. Send them down."
She waited until she heard the familiar beep of an incoming data transmission over her communicator. The air in front of her shimmered and took on the form of a three dimensional map of the planet's surface. Rough as the map was, the sheer flatness of the terrain was surprising. It was almost as though someone had purposely levelled the entire surface of the planet, which was perhaps not far from the truth. Her eyes narrowed as she spotted something on the map. There was an indentation in the planet's surface, a deep valley of sorts several hundred kilometres north of her present location.
"I think I've spotted something on the map," she said to the ships in orbit around the planet. "I'm going to head north and check it out."
"My lady… be careful…"
"I always am." With that said, Pluto vanished in a swirl of crimson light.
She reappeared moments later at the edge of a vast canyon. Looking down she felt a shudder run down her spine. A yawning chasm of utter blackness greeted her; so dark it seemed to drink up what little light broke through the thick cloud cover. Worse still was the noiseless hum that seemed to fill the air. It tingled at the edges of her awareness. Power. That's what it was. Well hidden, yes, but it was there all the same, raw undiluted power. And it came from the canyon, from somewhere in that endless sea of shadow.
"I think you should see this," Pluto whispered, her communicator now switched to relay what she could see. "What do you make of it?"
A few seconds of delay, seconds that stretched to minutes.
"Are you there?" Pluto tapped her communicator. "Are you there?"
"Damn." She considered the canyon again. Should she wait until she was back in contact with her fleet, or should she press on? She tried her communicator again. Still nothing. Something moved in the corner of her eye and she spun, blood red power gathered around her hands. Only there was nothing there, nothing but dust and an unsettling quiet.
Pluto sighed and took a few deep breaths. She needed to calm down and think things through. There was no telling when she might get communications back and if she got into trouble she could always teleport back up to the surface. Her mind made up, she took a last, lingering look at the barren wasteland around her and leapt off the edge of the canyon and into the darkness below.
She fell down, down, down through the shadows. Tendrils of her power reached out, located the walls of the canyon and controlled her descent. Yet she still couldn't shake off the vague feeling of unease she felt. The walls felt slippery, as though her power couldn't quite find purchase. The sensation was… disconcerting.
The canyon was deep and falling through the endless darkness she soon lost track of time. Eventually she felt the bottom fast approaching and slowed her descent. She landed lightly on what felt like smooth rock. Everything was still. And quiet. With a flick of her wrist she summoned a small orb of light. She needed to get a move on.
The light revealed that she was on a narrow path between the two walls of the canyon. But which way should she go? She took a step forward and stopped. The sense of unease she'd felt so far exploded into panic. It clawed at the ragged edges of her control and tore the air from her lungs. The power she'd sensed at the top of the canyon washed over her. It felt like… like touching the coils of a kraken slumbering beneath the sea… it… was like touching something old and terrible that slept yet teetered on the edge of awakening. Pluto took a step back. The panic faded. A grim smile crossed her face. She knew which way to go now. Steeling herself as best she could, she strode forward.
How long she walked she wasn't sure. Eventually the path began to widen until at last she came to a huge hole in the rock. She ran her light along the edges of the hole. Above it, hewn into the rock was a single word: silence. The claustrophobic sense of panic returned full force and she bit her lip hard enough to draw blood. But the pain was good, it focused her, took her attention from the panic. Silence. Just one word, but it told her all she needed to know. This was what she had come to Saturn for, to find the resting place of the last Senshi of Destruction. She entered the cave.
The inside of the cave was devoid of any light save her own, devoid it seemed of any sound as well. Even the faint rustle of the wind in the canyon had faded away. Turning her light towards the floor her eyes widened in surprise. Instead of black rock, the floor was wrought of black marble. More disturbingly, large gashes were hacked into the marble, signs of a fight perhaps? If so, it would have been some fight. One of the gashes stretched for more than three hundred feet and was more than a foot deep.
Again she was confronted with a dilemma about which way to go. Only this time the sense of panic was no guide. It was chokingly dense, no matter which way she turned and it was all she could do not to turn and run. She did a quick circuit of the room. It was large, maybe a hundred feet long and about a hundred and fifty feet wide. Several passages branched off. It would be easy to get lost.
She did another quick circuit of the room and stopped. There it was. She could only just feel it, hidden as it was beneath the raw power that threatened to overwhelm her. It was a whisper, a ghostly echo that thrummed on the edges of her awareness. It called to her. And she followed.
On and on she went through the cave, her footsteps and breathing the only sound, her light the only source of illumination. Her breathing began to hasten, till she was gasping and still she staggered on, driven as much by a barely controlled panic as she was by the fleeting sense of knowing… of knowing that what she sought lay just ahead.
And then, as if coming out a dream she stopped. Somewhere along the line, her light had gone out. Darkness, total and absolute, surrounded her. She took a step back. Breathe. Just breathe. Do not panic. Do no panic. Do not…
She couldn't hear the sound of her own breathing anymore. In fact, she couldn't hear anything.
But in the darkness it was hard to tell if she was moving, hard to tell if she wasn't just standing there, too horrified to move, only imagining that she running, only imagining that she was going somewhere, when in reality she was just standing there… standing there screaming and screaming and…
And then there was light. And sound. Or at least Pluto though there was. Because it wasn't really light… or sound, not the way she normally knew them. There was just a sense of seeing, a sense of hearing. Words came to mind, jumbled and only barely coherent: light in the darkness, movement in stillness… music in silence…
She stared. A thin shaft of light cut through the darkness in front of her. It fell onto an altar and shone on the weapon that lay there. And what a weapon it was. She'd heard of it, of course, had heard the whispered legends, but she'd never seen it, never imagined the sense of elegant lethality it conveyed.
It was the Silence Glaive. Six feet of night black metal it seemed to bleed shadow, the sharpness of its edge almost palpable even from a distance. It seemed to hum, a noiseless roar that seemed to cut right through her soul. It terrified her and yet still she stumbled towards it, drawn to it.
Only when she was a few feet away did she realise that it wasn't resting on an altar. No, what the Silence Glaive was fastened to was the top of what looked to be a coffin. Only it wasn't a coffin. She glanced down at the floor. Runes of power were hewn into the marble but not to keep people out. No these runes were to keep something in. On the 'coffin' itself were more runes, symbols of power used to bind and chain things. Horror well up inside her. This wasn't a coffin. This was a prison.
She took a step back, then another and another as panic once again threatened to overwhelm her. What had she done? What kind of evil had she stumbled across? She needed to leave, to escape, to get out. She tried to gather her power, tried to focus her mind. All she got was silence.
Just then the runes on the floor lit up. Deep violet light filled the air and the silent roar of the Glaive grew louder still. One by one the seals on the prison and on the floor around it began to break. The Glaive screamed in noiseless joy, a ripping, tearing, soul-breaking shriek that drove Pluto to her knees with her hands over her ears.
And then she was screaming too, her eyes clamped shut, the Glaive's demonic cackle seemingly everywhere at once. Then, just like that it stopped. Silence reigned, absolute and total silence. And she looked up to find herself staring down the impossibly sharp length of Silence Glaive. A pair of violet eyes met her gaze. Everything went quiet. Everything went still. Time slowed to a crawl.
"Saturn…"Author's Notes and Disclaimer
First of all, I don't own Sailor Moon and I'm not making any money off it. Just somebody writing in their spare time…
Well… it's been a while, a long while. For those of you who've read my other stories and have been waiting for more, I apologise. Life has a funny way of resetting your priorities. That said this is something I've been meaning to get to for a while. When I originally wrote Sailor Moon: Requiem and then Sailor Moon: Requiem Redux, I had a story in mind, a sense of where I was going. Unfortunately I don't think either of those stories ever really got across what I wanted them to. This story represents an attempt to finally finish the story I had in mind when I wrote some of my earlier stories. Undoubtedly my style of writing has changed since I first wrote Sailor Moon: Reflections and Conversations. That's only natural. Hopefully though, the people reading this still find my writing enjoyable.
As always, please review. I'm very interested in what you have to say.