This story is a tribute to my four most favourite characters of the anime "Sailor Moon". I decided to create a past life for them of which they had been deprived. I also made an attempt to connect their past with the events of the third anime season, in a way. This story is written in a genre of narration and I did my best for it to comply with the word 'saga' in the title. Though it is mainly about the outers, all the inhabitants of the Moon Kingdom in the long passed Silver Millennium are here as well. Mostly, I devoted this story to their private lives and inner worlds, battles are minimized.

It consists of seven parts that all are closely connected. It’s sort of a very long fairy tale.

 

1. All the characters, scenes and phrases I have borrowed from the anime "Sailor Moon" belong to Naoko Takeuchi, Toei Animation and everyone else who has the right. The story itself belongs to me.

2. This story contains descriptions of and references to the close relationships between a man and a woman and between women. I rate it R-15. Contains no strong language, no violence, no adult references what so ever.

3. If you have the patience to read this story you are welcome to send your comments to: irinastrea@hotmail.com

 

I am grateful to everyone who's been writing to me about my saga with their comments. I really appreciate it.  

 

January-March 2001

 

Irina 

THE OUTER SOLDIERS SAGA

(revised 2002) 

 

Prologue.

 

  A man sitting on his throne in the Chronos Palace slowly opened his eyes. He was guarding this solar system and the Time in it for as long as he could remember. The Palace was standing on the point of intersection of the Times and Spaces from where it was easy to watch the planets circle. He didn’t choose to live on any of them because then he could not have watched properly after the others.

 There was not much work to do. He could sense the enemies and easily prevent them from entering his solar system by using his greyish, carved, almost his height staff with the silver orb on the top. The sphere clearly showed what was happening on the planets and stars he was guarding and, if he wanted, the other solar systems as well. Most of his time was spent thinking about the wonders and the secrets of the other worlds.

 He remembered that when planets and stars had been formed out of the essence of Universe he himself was created, out of the very essence of Universe, having the perfect feeling of it. He loved his solar system. It had nine planets circling around a huge yellow star and the infinite number of meteors, asteroids and comets coming through it in times. As time flowed the planets became inhabited. He smiled thinking how well Universe was caring about the things it created.

 Then he sensed danger appearing in the other solar systems, in the other galaxies. He could see the Chaos destroying other worlds and their inhabitants. He didn’t try to help: he had his own home to protect. Then suddenly the danger vanished and as he was looking into the silver sphere he saw a beautiful woman with long red and golden hair enveloped in a powerful shine of energy whose warmth and goodness he could feel pulsing through the orb in front of him. And he realized that it was her who stopped the Chaos.

 He didn’t know that the woman he saw was the sailor soldier whose life and deeds would become legendary. He didn’t know that the power sealed within her body would once again endanger the Universe. He didn’t know that his, lonely at this moment, life would be brightened as he would witness one of the greatest wonders of Universe: the birth of the beautiful and powerful creatures, the sailor soldiers.

 

Part One. New Era: Silver Millennium.

 

 As he was sitting on the throne he suddenly knew that something was about to happen that would change everything forever. He felt one of the spheres within the solar system glowing and with a surprise saw the Moon shining with a bright white light that was rather misty at the ends and was melting into the darkness of Space. He saw a beautiful woman appear from the light. The long white gown wrapped her body. She had a crescent golden mark on her forehead. Her silver eyes were deep - kindness, wisdom and peace were within them, her silver hair was put into two long tails with knots on the tops. As he turned his head he saw the woman standing in front of him. He was taken aback by her beauty but returned her calm smile.

“I am the Queen of the Moon, Serenity,” said the woman in a kind, melodic voice looking straight into his eyes. “And this,” she continued stretching her arms in front of her as the light in them became a stone that still shone, though less brightly, “this is a Silver Crystal. It will help you and I to guard and protect this solar system, Prince of Time.”

 The man on the throne was listening with attention and surprise. Finally, parting his lips, he answered: “I thought I was supposed to be alone as a guardian of this solar system and Time in it. But I will accept your help with gladness, though. I was expecting you. Tell me, why you've appeared so suddenly?”

 Serenity smiled. “The time comes when you wouldn’t be able to protect this place alone any more and when even my strength wouldn’t be much of a help.” Prince of Time frowned, he looked at his long staff and smiled in doubt. Of course, he knew, he was not a great warrior. He didn’t spend a lot of time fighting, he preferred listening to the music of eternal winds blowing and singing to him; learning of the other worlds through his silver orb; reading the patterns of the stars as he looked out of the window of his Palace; watching the planets dance in front of him. His life was rather peaceful and, as anyone who lived in a peace for a long time, he didn’t want to believe that things could change. Still he saw the deep eyes of the woman in front of him and knew the truth of her words.   

“Do you have anything to suggest then?” asked Prince in curiosity.

 Serenity looked down then lifted her eyes, as their gazes met he saw the planets glowing and their glows slowly taking the shapes of the women’s bodies. He saw four stars of the garnet, amber, turquoise and purple shine gradually forming a circle. A little later another circle of stars appeared, shining of the red, blue, green and orange. And as the stars floated a great light appeared in the middle of the now bigger circle and all the stars were swallowed by it. The shine of the white light was so bright that Prince closed his eyes. When he opened them he saw Queen Serenity standing before him and smiling.

“This is our task, Prince of Time. The Universe is finally ready to create the protectors for our solar system, sailor soldiers. You and I will be taking care of them. When they are ready they will accept the destiny they are born for: to fight the enemies and protect their Princess.”

“Do you mean yourself?”

“No, I mean the Moon Princess. She is the bright white light you have seen. It swallowed all the other lights because she is their strength and they are hers. Without each other they cannot exist. Our task is very important and difficult to accomplish. That is why you, as the protector of the solar system, will be taking care of the soldiers born by Pluto, Uranus, Neptune and Saturn - the outer soldiers. They are more potent than the others. You will teach them to fight the extraterrestrial enemies. The other soldiers will be defending the insides of our solar system. I will be taking care of them.”

 

And though they were unaware of it that day Silver Millennium had began.

 

 Prince Chronos and Queen Serenity befriended each other. Prince was surprised by the amount of knowledge the Queen had although it seemed as if she had appeared out of nowhere. Her kindness and wisdom were also astonishing. She made the inhabitants of all the planets and stars to love and respect her. Finally, they agreed to become her subjects because they realized the peace and prosperity she had brought with her. Of course, as it always happens, not everyone was happy. But, on the other hand, it is impossible to make everyone as happy as they want to be. Still, the beginning of her ruling was tranquil and just.

 Prince of Time did not object to any of the changes that appeared. He trusted the Queen and now had more time of his own that he spent watching the planets and waiting for the sailor soldiers to be born. There was nothing to worry about: the flow of Time was peaceful and slow, the outside invaders, quickly spotted by the silver orb, didn’t have a chance. However, now Prince spent more time training his body and mastering his fighting skills, though it still was not perceived by his mind how it was possible that the girls could be the fighters. But he stopped questioning it after a while.

 

 Chronos was accepted at the court as the Queen’s equal and was respected for his wisdom and courage and there were even those who were afraid of him. But he was not a social person and preferred the silent rooms of his Palace to the noisy balls and tiring routs. Serenity was sometimes scolding him for his estrangement and hinting that it would have been appropriate for him to get a wife. But Prince explained to her that he would deal with this question himself and didn’t need anybody’s help. It was rarely that he ever needed anybody’s help and after some time she accepted him the way he was. He himself was thinking about marriage from time to time but so far never met a woman worthy of him. And he was of a very high opinion of himself. His arrogant attitude insulted the gentle creatures and in spite of his handsome appearance, wit and high position after some time he was left alone. But he never regretted it, knowing that it was enough for him only to display some attention and he again would be accepted with raptures. He was a little cynical about life and his manners were sometimes unpleasant but he was not a cruel or disappointed man. He just lived for a very long time and felt boredom beside all those men and women who were so busy with their clothes and intrigues.         

 Sometimes he was thinking about Queen Serenity becoming for him more than just a friend. But, though she was beautiful, he never felt anything but respect and gratitude for her and did not want to change anything in their relations. They were discussing the problems of the Moon Kingdom; were listening to the messengers from the other planets and stars; were working out the war strategies on the Moon Counsels; were solving the problems of the solar system. And after some time he got used to that.

           

                                                                                    *     *    *

 

 The child Prince held in his hands had a Pluto’s mark on her forehead. Her garnet eyes were watching him attentively as if were trying to look straight into his soul. The little body was still warm and glowed with the garnet light.

 A few minutes ago he saw a bright garnet shine emerging from the Pluto’s planet. It was moving and gradually took the form of a garnet sphere. It flew in the direction of the Palace and trustfully rested in his palms. He felt as if the part of him that was lost till that moment in the winds of eternity finally came back. It was a strange feeling for him who thought that he knew everything and that there was no emotion he did not experience. But he had no time to continue his philosophic thoughts because the sphere shone so brightly he closed his eyes. The moment he did it he felt a warm body of a child in his palms. 

 The girl was so small Prince thought he would break her if he would move. He heard soft laughter beside him and on turning his head saw the Queen.

“You shouldn’t be so scared,” she said still smiling, ”she is not porcelain-made. Besides, she is a fighter to be, if you remember.”

 But Chronos was feeling a bit uneasy about holding a child that he had never done before. The little girl’s body was still enveloped in the warm garnet light.    

“She will grow rather fast, so you better stop looking so embarrassed and begin taking a good care of her,” he heard Serenity’s voice as she came closer and took the child herself. The girl was looking straight into the Queen’s eyes and it seemed she was interested in something. Suddenly her face wrinkled, she opened her mouth and cried. Prince was watching her in horror. If not the Queen but he was holding her he would have dropped her by now.

“Now,” said Serenity, “can’t you see? She is hungry. And as any other child she needs food. Oh, and I hope you have decorated the children’s rooms and furnished them, took care of the clothes and all the other things they could need.” It was half-question, half-affirmative. Prince nodded with difficulty trying to keep his composure at the thought of feeding a child. As if amused with his looks Serenity gave him back the girl and dropped as she left: ”Take a good care of Princess Setsuna.”

 

 After a couple of attempts he finally managed the feeding part. Then he carefully laid the girl on the chair where he was feeding her and went to bring some clothes. He was too scared to allow somebody else to touch her. He came back with a blanket, wrapped the child in it still feeling the warmth and a strange thought of finding something he didn’t even know he was looking for again crossed his mind. He gently lifted the girl and carried her to her little bed that he ordered to put near his.

 She was again staring at him with those huge garnet eyes. And as he was looking back at her in his mind he saw a shaded vision of a tall woman with very long hair in a long dress outlining her beautiful figure. He didn’t know why but she was standing beside him and smiling at him and when the woman’s hand touched his a sensation, similar to the lightning, came through him and he again was looking into the child’s eyes.

 

 During the night he felt in his sleep the warmth coming from the little bed near his. The garnet light was filling the room. The girl in the bed was glowing with it but he couldn’t see it as he was sleeping.

 When he woke up next morning he saw that the little bed was empty. Frightened, he quickly dressed, and was ready to scold the servants when he felt the child’s proximity. Going rapidly through the corridors of his Palace Prince finally found the little figure in the library. When he approached he was taken aback by her age. She was about seven or eight years old now, being a baby only yesterday’s evening. He halted in a shock. The girl turned round and he saw big garnet eyes burning with curiosity. Her hair has grown. It was greenishly black and already long, almost touching her waistline. The girl smiled at him.

“Good morning, I am Setsuna.” He was rather amazed to hear her talking. “If they all grow that fast I don’t know how I would be dealing with it,” Prince thought in despair.

 As if hearing his thoughts the girl said in a serious voice: “Don’t worry, Prince Chronos, if you need any help with the others, just ask.”

“How do you know about the others?” he wondered interested and again surprised, even forgetting to inquire how she knew his name. It seemed he spent the last couple of days in a state of complete shock.

 The girl lifted her eyes and with a gasp he saw that they were very old. “But that is not possible,” he murmured to himself. Setsuna heard his words.

“Don’t make your own understanding the measure of the possible,” she said looking oddly at him. “The planet of Pluto gave me the knowledge it had. You have to teach me further, for me to become the one I have to be.”

 

 After a while he accepted the girl. His composure returned to him and with all his will he was trying to give her his experience. The surprise at her knowledge finally grew into respect though it seemed strange to respect such a tiny creature. They read together, he taught her to understand the stars and listen to the winds of eternity. She was a clever girl and perceived things quickly. He allowed her to play with his staff and she liked the visions the silver orb showed.

 She still was a child: she ran through the corridors of Palace and her laughter echoed in them. She wanted to pick the flowers she saw in the orb and he decided to find a planet where it would be appropriate for her to play. He finally managed to find a beautiful star with all the flowers and trees that he had ever seen, bright blue sky and soft green grass; the star where there were only two seasons: spring and summer. He arranged the flows of Time and Space so that the planet became the integral part of the Palace. She ran and laughed and he was smiling at her. He grew to love her during those few years that seemed to be months in the Time Palace. She also trusted him and as he carried her, sleeping in his arms, to her bed her little hands were wrapped tightly around his neck. Queen Serenity was pleased with the way Princess Setsuna was being brought up. She came to visit them rather often actually and when Prince was busy with his duties and the Time guarding she took the little girl to the Moon Palace. Setsuna liked the white rooms and the beautiful rose bushes of the Moon Garden but still was always glad when Chronos was coming to take her back.

 

 One night Prince was woken up by the energy he felt flowing through the Palace. As he got up and dressed he knew where to go. The light flowed from the Watching Post room. It was the room where all the planets and stars were clearly seen. As he entered he saw a tall young woman standing near the window. She turned at the noise of his steps and to his amazement he was looking at the most beautiful creature he had ever seen in his life. With his slightly open mouth and wide eyes he was taking in the picture in front of him. Thick dark green hair was the knee’s length, tanned skin was gentle and smooth, the gaze of the huge garnet eyes was serious and straight. Her body was wrapped in the dress of purple silk showing the lines of well-defined breasts, small waist and long slender legs. As she turned back to the window he heard Setsuna’s voice say: “Sailors Uranus and Neptune are coming.” He followed her gaze and saw the planets brightly glowing with the amber and turquoise lights. “We have to be ready. The planets are highly dependent on each other. It is most likely that the soldiers will be born simultaneously. Now I will be helping you,” she finished, smiling at the look of faint bewilderment his face still kept. Chronos slowly nodded trying to understand why his mind was in some kind of a mist.

 

                                                                                          *                                 

                                 

 As Setsuna had supposed the spheres glowing with amber and turquoise lights appeared almost at once. Queen Serenity was there again witnessing the birth of the new soldiers. Setsuna bowed to the Queen who accepted it with a little nod and a sincere smile. The sphere of amber light shone brightly and Prince felt something really heavy in his arms. When he opened his eyes he saw a child wrapped in the golden light with the Uranus mark on her forehead. The girl’s eyes flickered and then opened. It seemed they were made of steel. At once everyone in the room felt the strength flowing from the little body. She immediately began turning trying to escape the Prince’s hands. “What a temper!” he thought with surprise. 

“Carefully! Hold her!” he heard Serenity and Setsuna’s voices. He tightened the grip. The girl looked him straight into the eyes, her gaze was curios and bold. As if accepting the fact of him being stronger she calmed down. Queen came and took her. In her arms she was quite but grey eyes were twinkling.

 The turquoise light shone and Prince of Time felt something soft and gentle resting in his palms. He opened his eyes and saw a beautiful child with a Neptune’s mark on her forehead, enveloped in the aquamarine light. She slowly opened her deep ocean-colored eyes and sweetly stretched her little hands. Her gaze was peaceful and tender. “How such a sweet little creature can ever be a fighter?” thought Chronos. As if answering to his question girl’s eyes suddenly became frozen and cold looking haughtily back at him, accusing him of mistrust. He smiled and her gaze melted again.

 Queen Serenity left after a while, leaving Setsuna and the Prince to take care of the children. They fed them, wrapped in the blankets and put into the beds prepared for them in different rooms. As they were leaving children began crying. Though it could hardly be called weeping. Princess Haruka staring at them with her huge eyes, that became almost black of anger, sounded like she was demanding something that was hers in the first place and what she was deprived of because of them. Princess Michiru was determined as well though not that loud. Prince was lost, Setsuna bewildered. They were fed, dry, washed. Whatever was that that they wanted?

 As he was watching the babies Chronos suddenly saw a vision of a beautiful girl with turquoise curlish hair sitting under the tree. She was looking down at the girl lying on her lap and slowly turning a strand of the blonde hair in her fingers. She was smiling and when she bent down the turquoise curls fell and covered the face of the blonde girl. “The planets are highly dependent on each other,” he heard Setsuna’s voice in his head. He slowly went to the grey-eyed girl, carefully took her in his arms and nodded to Setsuna to do the same with another child. They went to the big bed in one of the rooms and laid both children there, covering them with another blanket. The noise stopped immediately. Babies turned towards each other, stretched their hands and fell asleep almost at once. Prince and Setsuna were watching in a wonder. Of course, they knew how strongly Uranus and Neptune affected each other as planets but never supposed that the sailor soldiers would inherit this strong bond.

 

 As the babies were sleeping the grown-ups went to the library because though Setsuna was a young woman now she still had a lot to learn. At first, Prince was embarrassed with her age but easy temper of the Plutonian Princess soon made him comfortable. Setsuna’s knowledge, given her by her planet, allowed her to understand very complicated things. She was very interested in the flow of Time and Space. Prince explained and showed her how the Time Gate was working though she was not allowed to use his staff. She was easily understanding the books on the Time Science and solving the Time riddles and many times noticed the Prince looking oddly at her when she was asking for another book though he never refused. Gradually he began training her, remembering her future fate. She was fast and strong though didn’t like the exercises very much. But when Prince spotted the invaders he went to fight them by himself leaving Setsuna to take care of Haruka and Michiru.

 Chronos was more and more taken by this beautiful young woman. He was talking to her about his life before she or Queen Serenity appeared, he was telling her about his journeys to the other worlds. They felt similarly: him, being the Universe’s creature; her, being the incarnation of one of the planets in Universe. They understood things in the same way what rarely happens. She was becoming wise. He began listening to her advice, was waiting for her opinion, was interested in her point of view.

 After a while he realized with a great surprise that he was in love with her. He never felt this way about anyone during his long existence. All the women he knew didn’t mean too much for him. He was living in loneliness for several millennia, thought he got used to it and was not prepared to change for someone else. But now he suddenly wanted for her to become the part of his life. But how to do this? Setsuna was different from any woman he had ever known. She was pure, untouched, never kissed or held by anyone but though she looked like the girl of eighteen or nineteen her eyes were saying that her knowledge was beyond that any woman of her age could have had. It seemed she was filled with lives the planet of Pluto lived through. Prince was lost. For the first time he didn’t know how to behave.

 

                                                                                            *

 

 Princesses Haruka and Michiru were growing almost as fast as Setsuna. Next morning they appeared to be the girls of five or six. When they entered the dining-room Chronos saw that something was wrong. Little Haruka was annoyed again. She was pulling away from the woman who was trying to make her hair look like it was brushed. “I want my hair cut,” she declared suddenly in a rather deep voice that had a male note in it. “And I don’t want this stupid dress. I cannot run properly in it.” With these words she finally managed to free herself from the woman’s hands and run through the room as if trying to prove her point.

 Later they realized that she was inclined to do everything quickly and got her way quickly too. If not, she became irritated and stubborn. But she was a bright girl as well and if talked to in the right manner she accepted things she didn’t like at first, realizing it if she was wrong. Her thick blond hair was cut as she requested. Male clothes was designed for her as well.

 Michiru was completely another story. Feminine to her fingertips, she was wearing dresses with grace and proper air. Her voice was sweet and reminded of the warm sea breeze blowing. Though at first glance she seemed soft and absolutely lacking any will, they quickly understood it was just the front. It was not that she was a double-faced creature. She just didn’t want to be rude with others but, when taken advantage of, she struck back. Chronos was teaching them as he taught Setsuna, now with her helping him. They learned quickly as well.

 Haruka and Michiru spent a lot of time together. They were usually found sitting in silence as if looking at something nobody else could see. Haruka liked sports, she was taking great pleasure in running, swimming and riding. She saw the horse in the silver orb and immediately wanted to have it. Chronos was searching the planets and finally managed to present it to her. He himself was saddling the foal for her and teaching her to ride a good seat. Michiru liked swimming. The beautiful star found by the Prince for little Setsuna, appeared to have lakes, springs and rivers. The girl was not even looking for them: she just knew where to go. And they were amazed that she didn’t even need to learn how to swim. Moreover, she taught anyone who displayed the wish and Haruka was the first in the queue.

 Sometimes Setsuna was joining them in their games and went swimming with them. They related to her as their older sister, sometimes as a mother, sometimes as a friend. But they somehow realized, little children as they were, that she was for some reason different from them and her path was not with theirs. Prince of Time was their older brother, someone they relied on and someone they trusted. As well as Setsuna’s, their eyes were filled with knowledge and understanding impossible for such small children: they knew the secrets of Universe.

 

 Queen Serenity was again coming rather often. She thanked the Prince as they stayed alone for everything he had done and was doing. He bowed his head grateful for the recognition he sensed in her words. He wondered about the last of the outer soldiers, Sailor Saturn. Serenity was silent at that and a little frown appeared between her brows.

“Sailor Saturn is the strongest of all the soldiers. There is a question of whether her birth would be peaceful. The planet is still sleeping. We’d better leave the things as they are at the moment. You still have work to do,” she said smiling at the view of Princesses sitting together in the garden.

 

                                                                                          *

 

 Though Chronos was always talking about the court in a casual tone and visited the Moon Palace only for the Counsels or on the very important days when his presence was absolutely necessary, when the time had come for Setsuna to be presented at the court his attitude was serious.

 Little Haruka and Michiru were sitting on the sofa and curiously watching Setsuna, who looked absolutely beautiful, and the Prince, who was as usually irreproachably dressed, discussing the coming event. The Plutonian Princess knew the rules of etiquette, was wonderfully educated and her manners were pleasant. So there was nothing to worry about. But still Prince was a little afraid: it was for the first time that she ever left the Time Palace for something like that. Of course, he took her to the Moon Kingdom and to other planets before but that was different. Now she was going to the ball that was given especially in her honor. Prince brought Setsuna to the Throne Room where she was almost at once overwhelmed with delight, attention that was paid to her and sincerity of all the courtiers. She was so happy that completely forgot about him and Chronos thought with relief that he could quietly go back to his Palace. 

 

 Next morning at the breakfast she still was so excited that couldn’t even eat and through the whole meal was telling them about everything what happened last evening. Prince was silently eating and listening to her. Little Michiru was looking at her with wide eyes and open mouth and was particularly interested in the women’s dresses, music and dances. Little Haruka was not that excited and was even able to bring her spoon exactly to her mouth but still was listening with great interest. They even forgot about the lessons they were having right after the breakfast so that Prince had to remind them and added that he would come in a few minutes: he never hired any teachers. The girls obediently left the dining room asking Setsuna to tell them once more later, she readily nodded.

 When they disappeared behind the door she looked at Chronos with shining eyes as if expecting him to share her joy. He raised his head and glancing at her said:

“I’m glad you liked the ball. But I think, you shouldn’t be so exalted about the things that are not worth it. This gloss is assumed and reality is less bright and more unpleasant than you may think. Things rarely appear to be what they seem at first glance.”

 It was for the first time that she saw the other side of him: him being cynical and she didn’t like it. How could he say such evil things about those nice and friendly people?! He simply didn’t know what he was talking about! Setsuna was so angry with his negligence that couldn’t stop herself:

“You are saying this because you are just jealous of all those people who are able to be happy, sincere and merry and are not grim and silent like you. Now I can understand why you are not liked at the court. I didn’t believe yesterday’s evening when they were telling me how rude, arrogant and unfriendly you are but now I see they were right.” Prince’s face became white. He was looking at her with wonder at first- it was for the first time she ever accused him and for a moment he was lost -, then slow unpleasant smile appeared on his lips. He stood up and walked to her. Setsuna was scared: she felt powerful energy radiating from him and realized why some people called him dangerous. She suddenly wanted to run away but remained sitting. Prince stood right in front of her and slowly said:

“So you are accusing me of hypocrisy, aren’t you, my dear little girl? You spent your whole life with me and now at once are prepared to believe all the things other people say about me. You are at once prepared to reject what you know and accept the opinion of people you see for the first time. People who would never have the courage to say any of it to my face but would accept my help and would be grateful when I would save them again from another war or some horrible creature because they are not even able to protect themselves if I’m not there. They have no idea about the responsibilities I have, they think it is some kind of a game. And you expect me to have any respect for them? There are few those who are worthy of respect and high opinion, though. I cannot deny that.” Prince was silent for some time.

“Yes, I can be rude, arrogant and unfriendly and those who deny they can be such are simply lying. But I don’t remember ever being any of it to you for you to have the right to say what you have said.” Setsuna felt tears slowly forming in her eyes. “I know they don’t like me but it doesn’t matter to me because what they think is insignificant. What you think is important for me but you are disappointing me because what you are saying now are not your words but those of somebody else. And I hoped I brought you up to think for yourself.”

 It was for the first time he was talking to her in this manner and Setsuna felt tears falling down her cheeks. She realized she failed his expectations. “I am sorry.”

 Prince’s face was as cold as ever. He smiled a little but his eyes were empty. “I appreciate your honesty.” His voice was emotionless. “I want what is best for you. Court is not a place for someone like you, Setsuna. Though now you may decide for yourself, you are not a child any more.”

 He turned to leave the dining room when suddenly halted, Setsuna felt something shift in her head. The Time flow was distracted and they both felt it. The silver carved staff appeared in the Chronos’ hand out of nowhere. He turned to the young woman: “I need to go. Hopefully, I will be back in a few hours. I leave Haruka and Michiru to you.” She nodded. Prince smiled a little. “The topic of today’s lesson is the planets of our solar system and the peoples inhabiting it. You are good at geography. You can handle it.” In a moment he disappeared.

 

 

 The Plutonian Princess was accepted at the court with delight. She was charming and clever, her beauty had a touch of mysteriousness and everyone knew her to be the sailor soldier. And all of that almost at once led to a long queue of young men appearing who wanted to offer her not only their hearts but their noble positions and vast estates. She listened to their declarations of love, thanked them for their presents which she never accepted, looked calmly in their shining eyes, smiled silently to them and in her mellow voice immutably declined their proposals.

 And when Queen Serenity, with laughter and some real concern, asked her to finally stop torturing the male population of her Kingdom, whose unreturned love for her sometimes led to serious incidents and created difficulties for her as a Ruler, and insistently requested to accept the proposal of any young man she wanted, to calm everybody else down, Setsuna smiled one of her most mysterious smiles and said that so far was not able to comply with the Queen’s wish. The Princess was calmly smiling but Serenity felt that if she would be insisting any further this beautiful young woman might simply strike back, she suddenly knew that even the fact of her being her Queen would not stop Setsuna if she would try to tell her what to do. Serenity smiled a little and with a nod allowed the Pluto’s Princess to go.

 

                                                                                       *

 

 Setsuna was walking through the corridor of the Time Palace. She just came back from the Moon Kingdom. Recently, she was spending almost all of her free time there. Suddenly she heard a sound of something breaking, then a cry. Haruka! She slightly lifted the skirt of her long gown and ran.

 She found the three of them in one of the sitting rooms. Little blonde girl of eleven with a pain-twisted white face was sitting on the chair and biting her lip, her little fists clenched tightly. Her grey eyes were filled with tears though she tried her best to hold them back. Little Michiru was standing by her side and big drops were rolling down her cheeks. Prince was holding in his hand Haruka’s leg. He raised his head and looked at the young woman. “It looks like her ankle is dislocated.” 

 Michiru was still crying: “It’s all my fault, I pinched her and she ran after me. And then she slipped and fell and broke that vase and then she could not stand up. And… and…” The rest of it was lost in the sobs. Setsuna only now noticed the fragments of the beautiful heavy vase that used to stand on the floor in the room. She put her hand on Michiru’s head calmingly stroking the aquamarine curls: “It is not your fault, Michiru. It’s just an accident. And I’m sure Haruka will forgive you.” The head with blonde hair readily nodded, she simply couldn’t talk. Michiru wrapped her little arms around Setsuna’s waist, clung close to her and the sobs gradually stopped.

 

 Prince was looking at the little girl sitting on the chair. He was admiring her self-control - he knew the pain was hardly bearable. He was thinking what to do. “You need a doctor.” Haruka shook her head. Prince knew she hated doctors making him and Setsuna experts in rendering of medical aid. He suddenly remembered something. “You have a running competition in a couple of days, don’t you, Haruka?” She nodded, she already crossed it with two thick lines.

 “I’ll be back soon.” Prince came back with a little knife. “We need to put it right. You trust me, don’t you?” he asked Haruka whose eyes became two saucers. She nodded. “And you are not afraid, are you?” She shook her head, feeling a lump in her throat. She tried to swallow it but it somehow stuck, making it difficult for her to breathe. Michiru too was hardly breathing tightly holding Setsuna’s waist. The Plutonian Princess was silently waiting, her tanned face was a little less tanned than usual. Chronos cut the little leather boot and slowly took it off, then the sock, the foot was unnaturally turned. He was examining it for some time then carefully cut the trouser. “Now,” said the Prince and firmly grasped the leg at the knee, “it will really hurt but you are a brave girl, we all know that.” He took the foot in his other hand, pushed it slightly forward and sharply turned. Haruka closed her eyes, her cry was so loud she even couldn’t hear it herself because her ears were blocked. When she opened her eyes she saw that her foot was in place and she even could move her toes. “It’s swollen still. I cannot run.” she said helplessly, grey eyes still filled with tears. Prince bent his head. What were they doing to him!? He was becoming a nurse!    

 

“I will take off the pain so that you can run. But you shouldn’t tell anyone about this, all right? It will be a secret.” Haruka and Michiru nodded. Prince put his hand on the little foot and Haruka felt the warmth slowly melting the pain. She lifted her head in wonder and looked at the man in front of her: his eyes were closed and he was deeply breathing. Prince took off the hand and stood Haruka on the floor. She indecisively shifted from one foot to another, then feeling no pain at all walked from one corner of the room to the other, then ran. Everything was perfect. She looked at Chronos with shining eyes, asked him to bend to her and planted a little kiss on his cheek. He smiled. ”I just hope you wouldn’t take advantage of me. This was an exception.” The blonde girl grinned mischievously. “You are better than any doctor. Everyone would be jealous when they find out how powerful you are.” Prince’s face became serious. “You gave me your word, Haruka. It is not a joke. The given word cannot be taken back. If you are not able to keep it just don’t promise.” The little girl blushed. “I am sorry.” Chronos nodded. Michiru unclasped her hands from Setsuna’s waist, went to Haruka and put her arms around her neck. Haruka blushed again, she froze not displaying any wish to return the embrace rather she was escaping this one. Michiru looked at her with surprise and came to the conclusion that probably Haruka was still angry. She sighed and left the room. The blonde followed her with her head down carrying her cut boot, sock and a knife in her hands.

 

 Setsuna picked the fragment of the vase. “You didn’t tell them it was your favorite vase.” Prince glanced at her. “They just would have been even more upset. They are more dear to me than any vase.”

“I never knew you had healing powers,” she finally said. Prince was silent. After the conversation in the dining room they talked with some difficulty as if a wall appeared between them. “You don’t know many things about me,” he slowly answered at last. He was feeling a little dizzy. He used some of his energy and now felt weak. He needed a good sleep. Prince wanted to go but Setsuna’s voice stopped him: “Do you have a minute for me?” He nodded and sat down.

 Setsuna was silent for some time then suddenly asked: “Do you sing?” Chronos was startled. “I beg your pardon?” The Plutonian Princess bent her head down looking at her tightly clasped hands and did her best not to burst out laughing at the look on the Prince’s face. “You see, neither me nor Haruka have any interest in music but Michiru has. And I wonder should I talk to Queen Serenity about finding a music teacher for us or… may be you can teach her. I don’t want to cause you any trouble with it. I know you are busy.”

“Yes, talk to her. It is a good idea. Anything else?” Setsuna smiled a little. “I know you take care of everything and of our clothes as well and we are grateful but… hm… we grow rather fast and there is no necessity to waste the fabric and the people’s time for making of the clothes that will never be worn. If you don’t mind I would like to take care of it. I can feel when they’re about to grow up and know what their tastes are like.” Prince lifted his brows: she was very considerate. And it seemed she wanted to take care of everything. But he didn’t mind.

“And do you understand anything in making of the clothes? As far as I know, in this area, Princesses are reduced to embroidering pillows and tablecloths. They do not design or, moreover, sew any clothes. It is not appropriate.” He was amused and surprised. Setsuna was silent for some time. “I don’t care if it is appropriate or not. I like it and going to devote some of my time to it. I will learn.” She was not asking any more she was simply stating the fact. Chronos nodded. “Then of course.” Setsuna was looking at his impenetrable face and thinking that it was becoming more and more difficult for her to bear this look on his face. But she was hoping that may be it was just the front. She should try.

“And the last thing. I… well, as you are probably aware the Queen wants me to get married. I just want to know what you are thinking about it.” Her voice sounded strange. Prince was examining the toes of his black boots for some time. Though at first he was bewildered and didn’t want to accept the strange feeling he had for her later he decided to let her go if she would choose to. But to his surprise she was rejecting everyone and though she knew Queen Serenity was displeased was persistent in her refusals. Sometimes her proximity was unbearable and he tacitly thanked his ability to hide his feelings. He knew he was stronger than her and if he would hold her she wouldn’t have a chance of escaping but he also knew that he would never be able to touch her with a finger against her will. Finally, he raised his head:

“I think, I would not object at all. Even if you get married and leave us you still will be welcome to visit Haruka and Michiru. But, of course, it is your decision.” Prince was smiling but Setsuna saw something flicker at the back of his eyes: fear. But may be she was wrong. “And if I don’t want to leave you.” Chronos shrugged his shoulders. The meaning of her words escaped him. He was getting irritated. “Then everything will stay as it is. I will talk to Serenity for you.” He never referred to the silver-haired woman as Queen even at her presence and he was the only person she accepted it from. Setsuna nodded and silently left the room thinking why men were so blind.

 

 She remembered the evening when everything changed for her. Prince was sitting in the arm-chair with his book and she was sitting on the big sofa with Haruka and Michiru, who were begging her in one voice for half an hour, promising to be as good as they ever could be and don’t cause her any troubles for a whole week so that she finally agreed with laughter, standing by her both sides on the sofa and wrapping themselves in her long thick hair that they carefully halved with their little hands and it took them five minutes. After some time they decided it would be nice of them to fix it for Setsuna. Of course, she would like it.

 But by that time the dark green hair was already tangled so much that it was absolutely necessary to comb it. Prince was asked to help them with it because it was too heavy for their little hands. He finally agreed but with a strange look in his eyes. He left his book, slowly stood up, took the hairbrush that Haruka, who was running as fast as a deer already, brought from Setsuna’s room and slowly began combing. The hair he touched was soft and silky, seemed to have the life of its own and was obediently untangling under his hands. And he wondered what it would be like to kiss this soft hair, to feel its touch on his face but he knew he had no right to do it.

 It was unbelievable but to Setsuna the touch of his hands on her hair was as shocking as if he was touching her skin and at that moment she suddenly knew that she would agree only to these hands to ever hold her. And this thought was so unexpectedly pleasant that she felt terribly hot and knew she was blushing but couldn’t help it just hoping her tanned skin would hide it. She knew then that she was prepared to accept him the way he was: with his unpleasant manners, his casual tone and his plain remarks that so often seemed rude. She realized that he was honest and told people what he really thought about them and their opinions because he was not afraid of being himself and didn’t try to hide his true nature behind the masks that people so often put on to make life easier for themselves. She knew he seemed arrogant to others and they could not accept that he could be different. But she didn’t care because she knew the truth. She learned to think for herself.

 Chronos combed the hair, put the hairbrush down and left them without any explanations for some reason forgetting his book. But the three of them already got used to him and his sudden disappearance did not surprise them at all. 

 

 

 Queen Serenity was glad to do them a favor and very soon one of the best music teachers has become a permanent visitor to the Time Palace. He confirmed Michiru’s talents and said that if she would be patient and hardworking she would be able to develop her skills. Haruka could sit for hours listening to her sweet voice and was rather angry with this man who was constantly telling her friend to improve and work harder. But after several months he finally admitted that Michiru was the best pupil he had ever had and Haruka was ready to almost hug him for that but remembered in time all the terrible things he used to tell her when she was interfering with his lessons and decided to listen silently to all the praises. She felt so nice as if it were her he was talking about. Setsuna was happy for Michiru. And even Prince Chronos who seemed to have no interest in music finally said that “it was rather nice” and this remark made Haruka absolutely furious. How could something that Michiru was doing be simply “nice”? She complained to Setsuna about him but the Plutonian Princess to her surprise just smiled a little and said that it was all right. Haruka was slightly bewildered. Her older friend was not herself lately.

 

                                                                                 *    *    *

 

 As the four of them were on the lawn in the garden: Haruka and Michiru chasing each other, Setsuna picking flowers for the dining room (she liked the flowers on the table) and Chronos sitting under the tree, watching her and thinking where his head had been when he fell in love with her, they all gasped at once and froze. The feeling of something very important and powerful happening went through them. Almost simultaneously they turned and went to the Watching Post room. The planets of Mercury, Mars, Venus and Jupiter were glowing with the blue, red, orange and green lights respectively.

“The time has come.” They all turned to see Queen Serenity standing behind them. Her face was both happy and worried. “You should be with me, witnessing the birth of the inner soldiers. Come.” With these words she transported them to her Moon Kingdom. Haruka and Michiru have never been here. They were watching the white Palace almost in awe, trying to keep composure and hide admiration, thinking it to be an improper thing to show. But the Queen ushered them quickly into the Throne Room of the Moon Palace. There they saw the Silver Crystal glow so brightly it hurt to look at it.

“The Moon Princess is about to be born,” smiled Serenity. “The inner soldiers would appear almost at the same time as she. So you should help me.” Setsuna nodded. Haruka and Michiru glanced at each other and giggled as if not realizing what was about to happen. They were glanced at furiously by the grown-ups and made serious faces but when the four spheres appeared in the Throne Room they perceived the magnificence of the moment.

 

 The spheres of the red, blue, orange and green lights gathered around the Silver Crystal. It began to shine, the white light flowing from it, almost wrapping the four spheres and the people in the room. Suddenly the spheres’ glow brightened. It seemed as if the light was filling the Throne Room completely, as if they were standing in the middle of nowhere, just bright shining was around them. Then another sphere of the pure white formed above the Silver Crystal. Its light was beautiful, warm and loving – the very essence the Princess of the Moon was created of.

 The white sphere flew to the hands of Queen Serenity and rested there. It glowed softly, gradually taking the shape of a little girl with blue eyes filled with love so much it looked like she was going to cry, yellow hair and a golden crescent mark on her forehead. The light stopped glowing, now it was the white blanket the girl was wrapped into. The newly born Moon Princess was curiously watching the birth of the inner soldiers.

 The red sphere rested itself in Michiru’s palms making her gasp. She watched in wonder as the girl appeared out of the red light, carrying the Mars’ mark on her forehead. She opened her huge dark eyes and looked straight at Michiru as if already determined to have her own way. Her head was covered with purplishly black hair.

 The blue-lighted sphere, to Haruka’s surprise, moved her way and she felt something warm forming in her hands. She was watching in amazement as the blue-haired and blue-eyed child smiled softly and calmly at her. The Mercury’s sign was burning on her forehead. Haruka looked back into those deep blue eyes and suddenly realized that this girl was a part of her as she was a part of this girl and that without each other the soldiers would be incomplete. She was still thinking about it when the orange sphere slowly moved straight to Setsuna escaping the Prince as he was trying to hold it. The orange light formed into the blue-eyed girl with yellow hair and impish smile on her face. She laughed happily as the Venus’ mark was glowing on her forehead. It seemed that her mirth was opposing Setsuna’s seriousness, finally the latter surrendered and smiled back.

 The green-lighted sphere was shaping itself in the Prince’s hands into the girl with brown hair and dark-green eyes whose gaze was straight and honest. Chronos smiled at the child whose forehead was marked with Jupiter’s sign.

 They carefully carried the babies out of the Throne Room into their children’s rooms. As they were doing it Prince suddenly saw a serious girl with long black purplish hair standing in the circle of fire; a gentle girl with short blue hair with blue sparkling droplets falling in the rain around her; an enthusiastic girl with long yellow hair put together at the back of her head by an orange bow holding a golden chain made of little golden hearts in her hands and a determined girl with long curlish brown hair put in the tail on the top of her head with yellow oak leaves flying slowly around her. He saw four girls in strange white suites with short skirts of red, blue, orange and green and long white gloves, four girls lying near the remains of white Palace and while wondering why they were not moving he realized they were dead. Prince shook his head and held Princess Makoto close to him. The child wrapped her little hands around his fingers realizing how safe she was in his arms.

 

 

 When they went back to the Chronos Palace they were silent. They understood they were the part of something great and important and the heavy weight of responsibility rested on their shoulders. Haruka and Michiru were tired as any children after an exciting day. They were sleeping in one room that Prince had ordered to decorate for them. While he was putting them to their beds that were beside one other he suddenly became afraid. After they went to sleep, he asked the Plutonian Princess to sit with him for a while. Recently they used to sit like this sometimes in complete silence, on the bench that rested itself beside the willow tree. It was twilight, the first stars were beginning to shine. As they sat for quite a long time Prince unexpectedly turned his head to Setsuna and began looking at her with strange eyes as if trying to see through her and read her thoughts. She turned to him as well. He was dressed as usual in black and silver, his two favorite colors. Black thigh-length shirt with high collar fixed at his waist was embellished with silver embroideries; long silver cloak was flowing freely down his back fastened to the shirt on his wide shoulders by the two black carved clasps; black trousers were outlining his strong long legs; knee-length silver boots were completing the picture.

 Setsuna looked at his face that seemed greyish in twilight. His black hair with silver highlights was falling in curls to his shoulders. As she looked into his black eyes she saw two stars shining there, with a surprise she realized that his pupils were silver: it seemed she had found a night sky in his eyes. She was gradually drowning in them seeing around herself the infinite Space with billions of silver stars shining. And as she was floating in this endless ocean she felt warm stroke down her jaw line, then another under her chin - a warm wave lifted within her making her vision blur. She could feel only warmth and sensation. When realization came slowly into her mind, she found herself standing very close to Prince with his arms wrapped around her so tightly it felt like he never wanted to let go. His lips were softly pressed to hers and while he was slowly kissing her he leaned over her slightly, making her return his embrace, holding her head with one of his hands, brushing his fingers through her thick long hair. His lips were caressing hers and as she parted them responding his kiss, shock came through her body and she felt the body pressed against hers tremble back a little. The wind came rustling through the willow leaves. It lifted the greenishly black hair and the silver cloak but their owners were too far away to pay any attention to the wind. So it flew further leaving the two figures standing so close together, they seemed one.