I wrote this and even I'm speechless with anticipation.
Let the battle commence!
SAILOR MOON: BANISHED
The pulsing violet ball of white-hot, hyper-concentrated, negatively charged sonic energy – actually a form of semi-solid antimatter - launched by Sailor Pluto would have flattened an entire mountain upon impact, had it been targeted at such on the surface of a planet. Galactus merely shrugged the glowing, ringed ball of destruction away with a movement of his shoulder. He continued his descent with no other reaction than that.
Even at less than full power, Sailor Saturn's Silence glaive could blow away earth-sized planets in their entirety. To Galactus, her destructive beam was like a shower of warm rain. To her horror, he continued his relentless advance through the blinding white storm of quantum disruption ribbons without even slowing down!
Sailor Pluto tried another attack - like her first, this one also newly gained after being powered up by the micro big-bang event between the double planets of Yaat.
At her command, from the bubbling quantum foam that comprised the very fabric of space itself, a newborn mini black hole immediately expanded up out of nothingness to totally encircle the titanic form of her adversary. For a split-second the light image of Galactus wavered as the fearsome gravity field tugged at his colossal body, trying to compress it down to orders of magnitude smaller than a pinhead.
"Get back, Hotaru!" Pluto screamed out, sensing the invisible wave front of the high-gee snare expanding out towards them. "That gravity well I just created will drag us both in, too!"
Instantly, they both teleported several kilometres away from the gravity-sucking monster, further into the void of space, to watch the newly born singularity from a hopefully safe distance.
"We've done it!" Sailor Pluto rejoiced. "He's g-!"
Then Galactus drifted free of the grasp of the Black Hole, as if its colossal gravitational tug was merely the faintest embrace of a drifting cloud of mist.
"Setsuna-mama! He's still moving!"
"…Damn. Okay, let's go, Hotaru-chan. We can't give up yet – billions of lives are depending on us!"
As the two grim-faced sailor scouts approached the Star God's orbital position once more, both being very careful to stay well away from the drifting, still active singularity, this time Galactus actually turned his helmeted head to face them, and his eyes abruptly glowed brighter with a blaze of yellow fire. Next second, twin subatomic disruptor beams flashed from his fiery orbs, first at Sailor Pluto, then his lethal gaze arced towards Sailor Saturn, in turn.
As soon as she saw the deadly glow flaring in the eyes of the omnipotent giant, Sailor Pluto knew what was about to transpire. Her 'Garnet ball' force field couldn't stop such a devastating attack, but she knew of one defence that could.
"Silent Wall!" Saturn shrieked instinctively as she saw what was happening. A circle of pure darkness instantly enveloped her tiny form - just as the twin disruptor beams struck its ebony surface and vanished into oblivion.
Galactus knew what they had both done, of course. The null field erected by Sailor Saturn had neutralized his attack. Her defensive construct was emitting vibrations at frequencies that were the total opposite of all of the wavelengths of this universe – including his disruptor beams - rendering them harmless, and cancelling them out of existence. When activated, her shielding wall was totally impenetrable by anything.
What Sailor Pluto had done to thwart his attack was just as simple, and just as effective. She had merely opened a dimensional portal in front of her and sent the twin beams harmlessly into another parallel, totally uninhabited reality before they had come anywhere near her.
Galactus knew that his disruptor beams could, and had, cut completely through entire planets, molten iron cores and all. Yet all that unleashed raw power had been blocked with little effort by the fledgling deities confronting him. Impressive.
The Eater of Worlds was supposedly devoid of emotion, but it was almost as if the faint hint of a smile tugged at the corners of his mouth at the unexpected bravery and fighting spirit of the two young star-seed humanoid beings confronting him. In all of his uncountable eons of travelling through the galaxies and consuming the life energy of living planets, he had not been challenged by any sentients quite as powerful as them for millennia.
Am I, Galactus, actually enjoying myself? That is – unheard of…!
Then his faint smile disappeared. Sailor Pluto had unexpectedly encased him in a multiple-layered circle of flickering, constantly changing, alternative pocket dimensions in an attempt to remove him from this particular physical location in space/time and get him lost elsewhere in the myriad of invisible sub-space and extra-dimensional realms, all of which were integral building blocks of this many-layered galaxy. At the same time, Sailor Saturn had dropped her impenetrable shield and was concentrating hard, summoning and compressing as much power as she could possibly muster into a single, violet-white hot point of space in front of him.
The onion-like multiple layers of the dimensional trap were as useless against him as the black hole had been. Galactus – capable of being anywhere that he wished to be in any physical reality by merely wishing it to be so – simply stepped free of its many-layered embrace.
Sailor Saturn's attack was something else, entirely. Hurriedly she re-erected her Silent Wall, extending it as far as she could – which was now thousands of kilometres - through nearby space to totally enclose and shield herself, Sailor Pluto, the Watcher, the starship 'Ark II' and the entirely of the hapless planet below them – just as the close proximity of Galactus to the sphere of primordial energy detonated it!
The resulting blast was unimaginable in its fury. And, unlike their almost identical experience with the white hole that had been born at the exact center of the now atomized inner moon of Yaat, this explosion was totally unrestrained. Reflected away from the two cowering sailor scouts and the rotating, now momentarily lightless blue and white world at their feet by the impenetrable Silent Wall, a sub-space shock wave on the quantum level was flung outwards at far faster than the speed of light by the titanic flare of zero-point energy. Such was the concussive force of the mini Big Bang event, this expanding wave front instantly destabilised the stately orbits of the nearest two of the outer planets of this remote solar system! As the sub-space pulse struck the first massive world that was unlucky enough to be currently in its arc of expansion, and then the second, more distant planet in turn, both remote gas giants heeled over and wobbled violently. Then, under the impetus of the irresistible tide of quantum particles being blasted outwards - on every dimensional level - from their epicentre, the two giant planets abruptly veered off their usual courses, both now heading out of their momentarily twin-sunned solar system on brand new, highly parabolic orbits.
And the two unlucky worlds still had the rapidly approaching gamma-ray pulse – which was travelling at the comparatively snail-paced speed of light – from the seemingly endless explosion to contend with, followed by the remnants of the physical blast wave of energy, as well.
K-Kami-sama, Sailor Pluto thought in a mixture of awe and unease, sensing what had just occurred in the other side of the massive sphere of inky-black energy that was protecting her, her daughter and the suddenly dark world below them from instant annihilation. Did little Hotaru-chan just unleash that?! Wow! I thought that she could only pull off something on this scale by dropping her Silence glaive to destroy the entire solar system! But this power she just used was something totally different to 'Death Reborn Revolution'.
I…underestimated her. Even I had no idea that she was this strong, now!
And – I still don't know for certain just how powerful I am now, either. What are the upper limits of our powers…? Chronos-papa, because of you, what have we now become?
Nearly half an hour later, when the glare of the subatomic fire had faded sufficiently for Sailor Saturn to drop her protective shield, they both stared hopefully off in the direction that Galactus had been advancing from. And to their joy, he was nowhere to be seen…except for the fading glow of the still dissipating blast, space in that direction was totally empty of all other movement.
"Sailor Pluto!" Hotaru screamed with delight, waving her Silence glaive above her head like a flag of victory. "He's gone! Galactus is gone! We've won!"
"It…certainly seems like that, child," Sailor Pluto remarked in overwhelming relief, icy tears of happiness forming in her eyes. "And Hotaru-chan – well done!"
They joyfully embraced each other, and then, still in each other's arms, both sailor senshi turned to commence their descent back down through the atmosphere of the no-doubt joyous world that they had so unexpectedly managed to defend. It was only then that Sailor Saturn noticed something definitely unusual in nearby space.
"If we did beat Galactus, why is the Watcher still here," the teenage sailor scout queried with a frown, gesturing towards the distant, shadowy, toga-clad figure of their bald headed observer. "He should have gone by now, shouldn't he?"
At her puzzled words, Sailor Pluto's heart froze with fear as she realized what that ominous portent must mean.
"Hotaru-chan! Be on your guard! It's not over yet! Galactus must be still out there somewhere!"
Whirling around to face back out into deep space, the keen eyes of the pair quickly picked out a distant pinpoint of white light moving swiftly in their direction. The dot rapidly expanded as it approached, resolving itself into a white-hot fireball, a humanoid-shaped fireball…!
An enormous and very angry humanoid-shaped fireball! Galactus!
"Silent wall!" Hotaru screamed in terror, throwing up her Silence glaive in an unconscious attempt to protect them both from the fury of their unbelievably powerful returning attacker.
But this time she was too late! Galactus had created two null fields of his own – one materializing around Sailor Saturn's Silence glaive, the other enclosing Sailor Pluto's Garnet rod. Unable to hold on to their artifacts, both objects slipped from the dismayed sailor scouts fingers, to slowly drift off through nearby space.
A split second later, before either Sailor Pluto or Sailor Saturn could even begin to react to the loss of their staff weapons, Galactus mentally disrupted the nerve synapses of their physical bodies, cutting off the electrical signals from their brains, paralysing both sailor scouts instantly. Neither girl could now fight or flee. They were trapped, totally at the mercy of the Devourer of Worlds!
Realizing that the two sailor senshi were now totally helpless, the fiery sentience came to a sudden halt right in front of them, the raging flames immediately being absorbed back into his giant frame as Galactus resumed his former shape, just before the searing tendrils could engulf and vaporize his powerless adversaries. A few seconds later, having cooled sufficiently in the nearly absolute zero temperature of open space to allow him to do so without risk of burning them, Galactus gripped one of the motionless girls in each of his gloved hands. He then raised them up to his eye-level and stared at them with a look that turned their nerveless bodies to shivering jelly.
And then the Star God spoke.
"My attacks against you were a measured response designed not to damage the surrounding fabric of space-time in this planetary system," Galactus intoned, his telepathic voice as cold as icy breath from the grave. "Yours, on the other hand, showed no such concern. That mini black hole and the dimensional trap you devised are ample proof of that, Sailor Pluto."
"Did you not stop to consider what would have happened when – not if - they both collided? The black hole would have sucked in the dimensional trap within mere minutes; they are so close together in space. This would have created a multi-dimensional black hole that would feed on matter from thousands of other dimensions, not just this insignificant one we currently inhabit. It would then have grown at a exponential rate, simultaneously consuming entire solar systems in these thousands of other dimensions, and causing incalculable damage to the fabric of this entire galaxy itself!"
Momentarily turning his head away from the terror-filled pair, Galactus dissolved both of the slowly-but-definitely converging cosmic abnormalities away with a nod, before rounding back on them with severity.
"And as for you, Sailor Saturn – creating a small nova so close to a populated world is inexcusable. The resulting gamma ray pulse was so intense that you could have destroyed the living life force of that planet below us before I have had the chance to consume it. Furthermore, such was the undirected force of your thoughtless attack, you fried the atmospheres of the two closest outer planets in this solar system, and broke them free from their eons-old orbits. Now, hear you this. Because of the recklessness of your actions, I have judged that you are both too dangerous to the order of the galaxy to be allowed to continue on your way."
"What?! But you would've eaten that planet behind us, anyway," Sailor Saturn mentally cried out. "I was trying to save it from you!"
"Silence!" Galactus roared, his eyes glowing again, this time with fury. "It is my destiny to return to the universe all the life force that I have taken from it, and more! You, on the other hand, could have wiped out the portion of it possessed by that world, forever!"
Poor Hotaru could take no more. In her terror, her eyes glazed over, and mercifully she fainted.
Using only the power of his mind, Galactus then transferred the unconscious Sailor Saturn across to the suddenly unfrozen arms of Sailor Pluto, her slender body held securely in his other hand.
"Sailor Pluto, Sailor Saturn. Through your own ill-judged actions, you have incurred the wrath of Galactus. Prepare for my judgement."
"Never! Planet Power will defeat you!" Pluto's mind defiantly beamed back to him.
"Your world of Pluto is merely a tiny ball of frozen rock and ice. You lack the power to stop me. But you have slowed me down – and that I cannot countenance." Galactus raised his car-sized free hand. "Know you this, at my hand, neither of you will be reborn again in any guise. I shall erase you from all space/time in this universe, forever."
"As you cannot escape me, I grant you both full movement again. And now, awaken, Hotaru Tomoe. It is time for you to also know and receive your well-deserved punishment."
At his fateful words, Hotaru's eyes snapped open, widening with misery as she raised her head to stare at her impassive judge. Knowing that the game was up, Sailor Pluto hugged Hotaru to her tightly and whispered into the ear of her trembling daughter. "Just close your eyes, Hotaru-chan – it'll be all over in a second. I love you."
"I love you too, Setsuna-mama…! Goodbye."
The sudden, strange voice had seemed to come from everywhere, and yet nowhere at the same time. Sailor Pluto's eyes widened with hope. Could it have been…The Watcher? Or even the Face of Boe? No, it had been someone – or something – else. And she was positive that she had heard that deep, very familiar sounding voice not all that long ago, as well…!
An enormous grey shadow had appeared in the very fabric of space beside them. As her eyes fell upon the wispy apparition, Sailor Pluto's heart leapt with joy when she realised just who it was.
It's my Otōsan! He's actually left Chronos castle to save us!
"I am Chronos, the embodiment of time for this galaxy," the shadow being declared, in a voice more ancient than the present generation of distant stars that surrounded them – and the previous generation before them, as well. "I came into being at the birth of my spiral galaxy, 13. 2 Billion years ago, and I will be here at its ultimate demise. I control the flow of time in this stellar realm, on all of its levels of existence."
Galactus turned his attention from Sailor Pluto and Sailor Saturn to face the ghostlike cosmic form of the Elder God.
"I am Galactus," the living force of nature replied formally, in tones just as imposing. "I am the sole survivor from the Universe that existed before the one we now inhabit came into being. My purpose is to drive evolution and change in this new universe. My hunger must be appeased, so that this barred spiral galaxy that is your domain, and the entire universe itself, evolves on its correct path towards its final, glorious, future destiny."
"True. But be as that may, Galactus, your battle here with my child is destabilising my realm of space/time in this location," Chronos declared, dropping the formality and immediately getting to the point of his most unexpected, though extremely timely, appearance. "Already this solar system we are currently in has been badly damaged by your confrontation…two outer worlds have broken their orbits, and nearby space was full of space/time rifts, quantum tears and singularities. I sense that you have already erased all of the latter, as expected, but as for this fighting, I say, no more."
"As you are not doubt aware, Chronos, it was the reckless actions of your pugnacious offspring and her overly destructive companion that are responsible for the majority of the chaos afflicting this solar system," Galactus pointed out. "Furthermore, because of their vigorous but futile resistance against the inevitability of what will soon occur, these two impudent young star-seeds have momentarily delayed me from my ordained mission. For all of these reasons, I have judged them both, and found them sorely wanting."
"All you have said is true," Chronos admitted. "But in mitigation, I also know that they were trying to gain time for the inhabitants of that world below to flee, with the help of the Face of Boe, before you consumed it. Trying to save sentient life is a praiseworthy act, not one worthy of your anger. Furthermore, it has been said that Galactus would pass by an inhabited world if other suitable worlds without physical life forms were nearby."
"There are none nearby. In this sector of space, this is the only suitable one. My hunger must be fed, and I will brook no further interference from your child, or anyone else."
"I have already foreseen that my eldest daughter and Sailor Saturn are not fated to perish here at your hands," the God of Time declared. "On the contrary, they are both destined to return to the solar system of Sol, to help defend its worlds against numerous future threats. So I now make you this solemn promise - spare them, and I will personally see to it that they will not interfere with your ordained duty here any more."
Galactus gave thought to the Elder God's words, and came to a decision. Chronos was about as near to being his equal as any other entity in the entire known universe. And these two young 'G' class children had managed to impress him, after all…and that wasn't easy to do.
"It matters not whether they go, or stay here and perish at my hands," he finally declared. "I care not. My journey will go on. Very well. I release them both into your charge."
"I have now re-stabilized the orbits of the two damaged planets," Chronos informed the star god. "Proceed with your task, Galactus. You will be hindered no more by them, or by me."
"Very well. Farewell."
With that, Galactus resumed his interrupted descent without another word.
Abruptly solidifying out of the invisible fabric of space itself and shrinking his cosmic shape down into his usual eight-foot tall human form, Chronos materialized before the two very relieved sailor senshi.
"There. This familiar human guise and persona I have assumed should be more comfortable for you both to talk to."
"Chronos-papa!" Sailor Pluto bowed, and stepped forward to give her now physical father a quick hug. "Thank you for saving us." Chronos laughed, then reached forward and tussled the trembling Sailor Saturn's hair.
"Yes, thank you, Chronos-dono," Saturn said in a quavering voice, bowing very low before his massive and majestic presence.
"Arise, child. I have another reason to be here now, apart from the obvious one. For it is high time that I told you both the full truth as to why I have banished you to the far side of the galaxy. It was because you broke the law and stopped time, yes, but there was also another, more practical reason. Setsuna-chan, you already knew that you would gain vastly greater powers on your twentieth birthday, did you not?"
"Yes, father, I did. But, going by the measurement of Earth-time, it's nowhere near my birthday yet. So…why did you cause my full powers to manifest themselves early-?"
"And Hotaru-chan, your full cosmic abilities have been activated at the same time as my oldest daughter's were?" Lord Chronos continued, ignoring Pluto's inquiry for the moment. "Well, speak up, girl!"
"Ah, y-yes, Sir. They have."
"Good. For that is the second reason why you both are here, on the far side of the galactic core, right now," Chronos told them. "You, Setsuna, and Hotaru have been banished to this remote, dead sector of the galaxy not only so that you could receive your full adult abilities earlier than you would otherwise have gained them, but also so that you could learn to use these new abilities carefully – and wisely. You both are now far too powerful to train with your new cosmic powers anywhere near Earth's own Solar System – and I did not want to have to take the responsibility for repairing any shattered moons or dampening down rogue solar flares if you did make a mistake while practicing amongst your native worlds."
Setsuna and Hotaru glanced at each other and grimaced at the truth in Chronos's words. The unintended destruction caused during their battle against Galactus was proof enough of that!
"Furthermore, I foresaw that Galactus would be in the vicinity at this time," Chronos continued. "He made a suitable sparring partner for you both to practice on, didn't he?"
Sailor Pluto stared hard at her father, the light of understanding now in her red eyes. "So it was you who amplified my sailor-teleport in the first place, and caused Hotaru-chan and I to appear near this isolated star – just before Galactus was due to arrive here?"
"Yes," Chronos admitted. "It was I. Now listen, for what I am now about to say is very important. Your futile battle against Galactus had the additional benefit of teaching you and young Hotaru-chan three very important lessons that will serve you well in times to come."
"Huh?!" Sailor Pluto and Sailor Saturn chorused, dumbfounded expressions on their faces at what they were hearing.
"The first lesson you should have now learned was to take care when you use your new powers. The two destabilized planets caused by your nova blast, Sailor Saturn, and the near-convergence of your black hole and dimensional rift, Setsuna-chan, are ample proof of what might go wrong if you don't, I think."
"Um, yes," the two errant sailor senshi mumbled together.
"The second one is for you both not to try to stop certain events in the universe that are foredestined to occur," Chronos continued in his oratorical tone. "Some things in the universe are meant to be, and cannot be changed, no matter how powerful or well meaning you are. I know this, the Watcher over there knows this, the Face of Boe knows this – and now, you two do, as well."
"The third lesson - some humility towards your wiser and more powerful elders. Your near-death at the hands of Galactus, and me having to haul your butts out of the frying pan are ample proof of the wisdom of that, too."
And then mighty Chronos, God of Time, let out a loud chuckle of merriment at the stunned expressions on the faces of the two outer senshi at what they had just heard from him. At that moment he would have been willing to bet that they couldn't have looked more gobsmacked if he had just slapped both of them in the face with a wet fish.
At last Sailor Pluto trusted herself to speak.
"Yes, I do now understand the purpose behind these – ah - unexpected lessons. But - but you're telling us now that this whole confrontation with Galactus was just a training session for us?!" she burst out, a riot of conflicting emotions warring for prominence on her beautiful face. "We had to go through what we thought was a life-and-death situation just for a practice bout?"
"Ha! It was a life-and-death situation," Chronos assured his flabbergasted eldest daughter, sobering up at her agitation. "If I hadn't saved you from him, Galactus would have shuffled off your immortal coil, without a doubt. Here, don't forget your Garnet Rod."
"And what about the billions of sentients on the planet below us that Galactus is about to destroy?" Sailor Pluto yelled out, snatching at her staff that had materialized next to her. "Not even the Face of Boe can save most of them! They're all about to die! You saved us, but why haven't you lifted a finger to save them, too?!"
"That's…that's right," Sailor Saturn agreed in a very small voice, clutching at her reclaimed Silence Glaive, overawed as she always was by the sheer presence of The Elder God. "They're all doomed!"
"Not so," Chronos boomed. "Look."
Even as the huge shape of Galactus entered the atmosphere below them, trailing flames like a meteor, the topography of the planet itself seemed to change. Broad, dimly-seen flat sections of the curved blue, brown and green surface below them seemed to rotate very slowly into different configurations, accompanied by a bizarre and much faster whirl of strange white wisps and patterns of color, mixed with a very rapid flickering of black and white light, like that cast from a giant strobe light. For about twenty seconds, these strange phenomena continued, then they cut out as suddenly as they had begun.
"Um - what just happened?" Hotaru timidly queried. "I felt – something…?"
"I did, too," Sailor Pluto confirmed. "Father, what did you do?"
"Galactus has landed on the surface of the planet. It is time for us to depart," Chronos told them with finality in his voice, ignoring their questions for the moment. Far, far below them, the first columns of mile-wide flame were beginning to arise into the shrieking air as the Eater of Worlds commenced melting his way down through the hundreds of miles of rock and mantle towards the molten iron core of the doomed planet.
"Wave goodbye to the Watcher, you two, and then we're off." Chronos then made the tiniest gesture with one finger, and instantly a Space/Time Wormhole expanded up from nothingness right next to their hovering forms.
"There. That should do it. Normally I travel along a Super-String at the quantum level of the universe for speed, but that type of journey for you two would be – uncomfortable."
"Oh, yay!" Hotaru burst out with happiness, clapping her hands soundlessly together at the welcome sight of the cosmic shortcut. "We're going to go back home to Earth! I'll get to see Chibiusa-chan and my other friends again!"
"Is that true?" Sailor Pluto hopefully asked her father, turning her despairing gaze away momentarily from the blazing death below her. She had seen that the doomed planet's very atmosphere, itself, had now begun to burn…
"Oh, you two Star Seed selves aren't going home, just yet," Chronos declared, fixing his oldest daughter with a frown. "Your well-deserved banishment for disobeying me and altering the time-line of Earth is far from over, I assure you! But, now that you have had a bit of practice with your enhanced abilities, and know what – and more importantly - what not to do with them, it is time that you visited a more inhabited sector of our galaxy. You miscreants can find your own way back to Earth from there – if you can."
Ah, damn! I should have guessed that it wasn't going to be that easy, Pluto sourly thought as the trio glided into the mouth of the hole in space-time. Otōsan means what he says. Hotaru-chan and I are still screwed!
...Still, powered up as we both now are, it should be a lot easier for us to make our own way back home than it was before...
As they sped along together through the wormhole, the still-upset Sailor Pluto's thoughts returned to what had happened before they had departed the vicinity of the doomed planet. She had seen the very shape and hue of the continents below inexplicably change somehow. Even before Galactus had commenced sucking the living world into a dry, barren, cratered desert, the whole planet had looked – different.
"I don't understand," Sailor Pluto finally declared, giving voice to her confused thoughts. "There were two billion living beings on that world behind us. How could you just leave most of them there to die? I know that Galactus only does what he was ordained by the universe to do, but the sacrifice of so many innocent lives…?"
"Don't distress yourself, daughter. Like the Face of Boe always does, every single inhabitant of that planet survived his or her encounter with Galactus. Most of the other life forms there did, as well."
"Great! But how?" Sailor Pluto demanded. "It would have taken the inhabitants months, if not years, to fully evacuate their planet. There just wasn't time for them to do so, even with the help of the Face of Boe and Ark II! And you have to tell me this, Father! Just before we left, why did the planet below look to be so different from what it was before?"
"Simple," mighty Chronos replied, a twinkle in his eyes. "Before Galactus managed to land on the surface, I granted the Face of Boe and the inhabitants of the planet a few million years of extra time to safely get away."
Author's Note: I'll bet you weren't expecting that to happen, were you? Even more awesomeness next chapter.
This story arc is not quite finished yet...