Irina

The Outer Soldiers Saga

 

Part Six.

 

Part one. The Guardian of Time. 

 

 For several days already they had been fighting the huge burning spheres coming from the other Spaces. It looked like someone or something thinking was projecting them: big balls were aiming exactly at the moving figures of the soldiers changing their paths by themselves. This stonefall seemed endless. They were gradually wearing out. The deep aqua mirror and the space sword melted into the bodies of their owners refusing to appear again. Their powers were diminishing.

 At the end the spheres were falling in the great fast burning walls, one by one. They were on the verge of insanity but still continued their attacks. Finally, they saw the enormous black ball turning around itself with great speed, dark and red light covering the vast space around it. They heard the terrible roar of the creature and realized it would swallow all of them at once now. It was Pharaoh Ninety. The cluster of the evil energy wanting what was left of their powers. It was wandering around the Universe never encountering anyone or anything yet that could have destroyed it.

 Prince of Time was watching with horror this huge thing approaching. “Don’t leave them. Please,” he heard Serenity’s voice in his head. There was a chance. He looked at Sailors Uranus and Neptune tightly holding hands, at his wife looking back at him with faint hope. He knew they would have attacked if they could but almost nothing was left in them. He glanced at Pharaoh then let go his staff - it calmly floated in front of him. The silver orb parted from it and flew to the Prince’s hands. He looked at it for some time, smiled, then closed his eyes. The silver sphere melted into him, now his the body was extracting the overwhelming silver light. The shine was gradually filling all the Space, destroying the huge burning stone walls. The sailor soldiers were watching in wonder: they never suspected he had so much power. The roar stopped, terrible creature disappeared. The sliver light slowly faded. Prince was standing still with his eyes closed. His staff vanished melting into the darkness of Space. His silver-black outfit faded leaving him in simple black clothes. Prince fell to his knees and buried his face in his hands. His time had come.

 

                                                                                       *

 

 Chronos was walking through the corridors of the Palace. The sound of his steps reminded of the heavy iron hammer beating. He knew what it was: the Time had stopped. They were in the middle of nowhere. He lost all his powers sacrificing them in order to save the solar system and the girls. His staff was no more: he was just an ordinary man now.

 Prince was going to the wing Haruka and Michiru were occupying. They were dying. He knew it and they knew it. They were too worn out and now there were no powers left to heal them.

 They were lying together in bed where Prince carried them to and didn’t have the strength even to move. Michiru’s head was put on Haruka’s shoulder, her hand placed across her chest whose breathing in and breathing out was less and less noticeable. The blonde was lying with closed eyes holding Michiru around the back with one of her hands. Her other hand was put on Michiru’s at her chest. Their bodies were covered with amber and turquoise shining that was gradually fading. They didn’t talk but still could hear each other’s thoughts that were flowing more and more slowly.

“We would be gone soon, won’t we, Haruka.”

“Yes.”

“But we will meet again.”

“Of course.”

“Even if eternities pass, the moment I see you I will know you.”

 Michiru felt as Haruka smiled at her thought.

 

 When he entered the bed was empty. Two little spheres of turquoise and amber lights were floating in the air. “Thank you.” he heard two so familiar voices in his head and for a moment felt two gentle touches to his lips. Prince clenched his feasts and tightly closed his eyes to prevent the tears from falling. He would never see them again. He shook his head – he had to be strong. Although the Time had stopped he knew how little he had of it left.   

 

 

 Prince went to his bedroom. Setsuna was sleeping without awakening since the time of the last battle but she was still breathing. He sat beside her looking lovingly at her tired face. He wished they could have stayed like that forever. But it was impossible. He has done the impermissible, he broke the rules of the Universe and he would pay. No holder of the Time staff could ever let the Time stop. Setsuna’s lids trembled, she opened her garnet eyes looking at him with some wonder. He smiled back thinking that these are probably the last moments of them together. He was expecting this day but when it came it was more frightening than all his expectations.

“Haruka and Michiru are gone.” He finally said. His voice echoed through all the rooms of the Palace. Setsuna’s face paled. “What is it?” she thought. “The Time had stopped flowing.” Chronos thought back. It was actually easier to talk through thoughts, this awful echo at last disappeared. His wife was looking at him with horror. So many thoughts were coming through her mind that Prince shook his head. She immediately put them in order. They were sitting and looking into each other’s eyes without saying a word. Before they used to play like that but it was not a game any more.

 Finally Prince took her in his arms and clasping her in tight embrace thought: ”Setsuna, I am an ordinary man now though I still have my knowledge with me. Now you will take my place as a guardian of Time.” He felt as she was trying to pull away from him with all her strength, but he held her tightly. “It would have happened someday. I broke the laws of the Universe and would disappear. You know yourself.” She was crying now, her body trembling with sobs. “But the Time should flow further. If not, our solar system will be destroyed falling out of the flow of Time and Space. Setsuna, do you understand what I am saying?” She didn’t move but he heard her cry in his mind: “I don’t want to live without you!” She was preparing herself for this day but now could not pull herself together, she was simply falling apart. Prince closed his eyes feeling something wet appear at the corners. He shook her making her look straight into his eyes. “It is your duty. Remember. You are different. This is what you were created for. Think. The Princess, the inner soldiers, the outer soldiers. They all will be reborn. But if the planet is damaged its soldier wouldn’t have the strength to resurrect. And you have to. Do you hear?! _Have to_ do all in your power to keep their home safe.”

“I love you too much. I will die without you. I don’t care about anyone if you would be gone. I don’t want my duty.” that was the only answer he could get. Prince felt small salty drops falling down his cheeks. He was silent for some time. “I love you too and that is why I want you to live. Setsuna, just listen to me. Hotaru, Queen Serenity and me, we all sacrificed our powers for the sake of this solar system and life in it. Do you want this to be in vain?” She slowly shook her head. He smiled sadly. “Then you should accept your duty. They will need you. Even more that you may now think.” She was crying again and he felt his own heart tearing apart. They stayed like this forever or were it only few seconds, Time was no more and nobody could answer this question.

 Setsuna finally stopped crying, now she was staring into nothingness with her huge garnet eyes and holding him in tight embrace as if frightened he would evaporate if she let go. Chronos gently unclasped her hands from the back of his neck and looked into her eyes. “Setsuna, would you do this for me?” She was motionless. “I’m not as strong as you. It will destroy me.” Prince was calmly looking at her: he was expecting this. He smiled. “You are strong enough. I tried my best to make you strong. And you always trusted me. Do you trust me now?” She slowly nodded, her eyes filling with tears again. ”I will do this.” Prince sighed with relief: she agreed to live. He could go now. He should go.

 

 He took her in his arms, laid her on the bed and leaned over her to kiss her. Setsuna felt soft tender lips, lips she loved, touch hers. She closed her eyes and wanted to lift her arms and embrace his back but he pressed her hands to her sides still kissing her. She obeyed sinking in this kiss that was so sweet, so gentle, so passionate. She felt his hands going slowly up to her shoulders, taking her in tight embrace, she felt his body pressing to hers. The warmth and relief were wrapping her. But somewhere at the very back of her mind a thought appeared, disturbing her, telling her that something was wrong. She was escaping it, trying to put it back away but it occurred again and again with greater and greater persistence. She realized with some wonder that lips that were kissing her, hands that were holding her were not doing it in the way they always did. His tenderness had some sadness in it. It felt like he was saying… farewell. No! Not now! Please! She wanted to pull away, to shout but couldn’t move. She felt his body slowly melting into hers, the warm silver light enveloping all her being. “I couldn’t have left you in any other way, my love.” The whisper was so soft words seemed to caress her.

 Suddenly, terrible unbearable pain shook her, she wanted to scream but couldn’t even breathe. She saw the worlds she never knew the existence of, Times she never lived in, Spaces she never had been in appear in her mind. The knowledge of the secrets of Universe, of the laws of the very existence, of the depths of eternity that was beyond her reach before now was tearing her apart. She felt Times crushing in huge waves threatening to break her fragile body. Pain was growing and growing though it seemed impossible. She felt as she was falling apart melting into the infinite darkness of Space becoming one with the Universe, its substance penetrating deeper and deeper in her body, her mind, her very soul. And when the pieces were brought back together a completely different creature was born.

 

 

 

Part two. The Shining Flower of Eternal Love.

 

 Prince was walking along the corridor, though it could hardly be called corridor. Its walls, floor and ceiling were made out of blue and white fluffy clouds so that it seemed infinity was around him. Suddenly he saw a young man of about seventeen standing before him, appearing out of nowhere. His calm grey eyes were filled with infinite knowledge and infinite kindness. His short hair was silver and reminded of the soft glowing cloth. Blue shirt with wide sleeves fixed at his waist and blue trousers were put on his body. He was barefoot. Young man smiled at Prince. And Prince remembered him at once. “So you finally realized the true power of love and sacrifice, Prince of Time,” a gentle melodic voice pronounced. It was not the question, it was the affirmative. “Who are you?”

 The grey eyes smiled again. “I am the Messenger of Universe. Long-long time ago during my existence I betrayed the creature I loved the most to save my life. After my death I was defied by the Universe for this crime. I was wandering in the dark Spaces without stars, meeting with the horrors you can never imagine, longing for a moment of peace but never finding it. It lasted for eternities, I do not remember. But I repented, I knew the pain and the sufferings I had caused. I realized that it was much easier to destroy than to create and that even if you are about to die you can never betray neither your beloved nor yourself. And then once I met my love in the infinity of Space. I was granted forgiveness and Universe gave me peace. Since then I have become who I am now. I am sent to give hope and another chance for survival if Universe considers it worthy.”

 Prince was silent: he was overwhelmed. “But why were we, our solar system, was worthy of your coming? It is just one in billions.”

 The Messenger smiled. “You want to know the secrets of the Universe. But there wouldn’t be anyone for you to share it with so I will tell you. Your solar system was considered worthy because of you. You, as its protector, were put to the test. You were offered a choice and your decision was right.”

Prince shook his head. “I don’t remember any choice that could have been so important.”


“Of course, you don’t. If you did, it would have been pointless. You never knew you made the right one until now.”

 

 Chronos was becoming more and more irritated with all these mysteries. He just lost everything he had and loved and this boy is casually talking about such important things as solar systems and the worthiness of their existence in Universe. The young man smiled again, making Prince want to tear him apart. “Can you tell me, finally, what it was?” he was almost shouting.

The Messenger looked amused, putting his finger to the Prince’s lips and hushing him. ”Of course, I will. I promised. But first, could you answer one question for me. Could you tell me why Sailor Saturn sacrificed herself?”

Prince nodded. “Yes, because she wanted to save us and bring us happiness.”

 

 Young man bent down his head. “You are telling me 'what for' she did that and I am asking you 'why'. There is a difference. She was created to be the soldier of destruction, was born to destroy others and yet she sacrificed herself to save all of you. Don’t you think there is a paradox?”

 Prince felt as he was sinking in these riddles, not understanding anything any more, his mind refused to think, it was simply beyond him. He was silent for quite a long time then finally a thought flickered through his head. He looked in the grey calm eyes and asked:

“But why was she created by the Universe to destroy if she is the Sailor Soldier and her duty is to fight for good and justice?”

The Messenger smiled. “So you are beginning to understand. She was your ordeal, your choice. Before, when you were absolutely alone and didn’t love anyone there was nothing to test you on. But when the Sailor Soldiers were created the time had come. Do you remember the night when you saw a little girl enveloped in the purple light in your dreams? Do you remember how you wanted to drop her? But seeing a prayer in her eyes was enough for you to change your mind. It was enough for you to want to help her, enough to want to relieve her burden and enough to want to believe in her. You were prepared to risk, you knew who she was but you never told anyone, you were ready to take the responsibility for hiding her true nature. And all of that only because of the pleading eyes you saw. That was your choice and because of that you were considered worthy.

 If you had pushed her away she would have sooner or later destroyed all of you. And I would never had come to help you because then your solar system would have become meaningless, unable to bring any light to the Universe. Then you would have deserved to be destroyed because you hadn’t been apt to see the true meaning of things, to secure peace inside your own home, unable to realize the power of love and kindness. But you, Prince of Time, knew all that without knowing you knew it. You made the right choice accepting this child. And that is why you were saved and given a chance to survive. You yourself granted your solar system that chance getting an enormous source of power in Sailor Saturn. Now I will tell you her secret: if the kindness is shown to the soldier of destruction her powers turn to good and she discovers enough strength to defeat the darkness inside her. That was the point of the test you were put to.”

 Prince was silent. Reminiscences were flying through his head. He could never imagine Hotaru was so important. Of course, he knew she was the strongest, but only now he suddenly realized that her powers would have been enough to ruin everything and even the Silver Crystal wouldn’t have saved them. Prince felt cold sweat appearing on his forehead. Why there is such a thin line between life and complete destruction? Just pushing away or accepting the child.

“But when she would be reborn she would be the soldier of destruction again?” he finally asked managing to put his thoughts in some kind of an order. The Messenger nodded. “When she would be reborn a new protector of your solar system would be put to the test. The Moon Princess. If she would have enough love and understanding in her heart , if she would be able to see the true meaning of things and would show kindness to the soldier of destruction they all would be saved. If not, then your solar system would disappear as she would fail.”

 

 Prince was silent again. He was beginning to understand what was happening. “I have a question to ask,” he finally said. Young man smiled. ”What was that pink flower that appeared in the center of Hotaru’s body and which light saved all of us?”

 The Messenger of the Universe was looking at the clouds around him that were incessantly changing shapes and colors from deep blue to pure white. At last, he looked straight into the black eyes with silver pupils: “The shining flower of Eternal Love.” Prince was taken aback, amazed. “How can it be eternal if Hotaru is no more?!” Young man was a bit upset, looking at Prince with sympathy and kindness. “Why do you understand everything you hear literally? If someone has the flower of Eternal Love in one’s soul it does not mean that one has to live for eternity. Eternal Love is not the one that lasts for eternity.”

“I don’t understand.”

 The Messenger sighed. “This is one of the greatest mysteries of the Universe. Nobody knows exactly how it is all happening but I will tell you what I know.

 Eternal Love is the integral part of the Universe. Without it the latter would have been incomplete. Eternal Love grants its seeds to the creatures in the Universe who are considered able to grow shining flowers out of them. Some do not have enough inner strength or love or kindness inside and the seeds that are granted them just die. The moment there would be no creature in the Universe able to take in the seed and grow the flower out of it, Eternal Love would disappear.

 There are many different kinds of love but this one is all of them: it is pure love of friends, passionate love of lovers, tender love between a mother and a child, honest love to one’s home and many others. All of them are eternal. They allow their owners to grow shining flowers if they are sincere in their feelings. And the shining flower gives enormous powers to heal, protect and save. If its owner is ready to sacrifice oneself without regrets, freely, without any second thought for the sake of someone or something one loves then the flower’s energy will be freed and the wish of the creature will be fulfilled. The sacrifices in the name of Eternal Love are never in vain: they fill the Universe with pure pink shine and make it smile.

 But you still want to know why it is eternal, I suppose. I will tell you. These flowers are able to create another miracle. But it does not happen with everyone who has the flower just with some of them and why they are chosen nobody knows. This miracle breaks all the rules of existence, defies the laws of the Universe itself, goes beyond all the possible because it allows the souls of the two different creatures to become one for instantaneous eternity. If you give it a thought, may be you would realize that the distance between an instant and eternity is far shorter than it seems, that sometimes they are one. When it happens the pink shine of the flowers is released and could be seen.” The Messenger was silent. He was looking at Prince with some sadness and may be envy. “And you know what it feels like don’t you, Prince of Time?”

 

 Prince nodded. Yes, he remembered when during one night he suddenly realized with some fear that it was not Setsuna he was holding in his arms. Her body somehow melted, was not a body at all any more. Instead he felt something intangible and ultimately precious. He somehow knew it was even more dear than her: her soul. But he didn’t have the time to understand that because his body too was not his any more, he felt something growing inside him filling all of him, making him weightless, making him fly. He felt as something was melting into him, penetrating into the very depth of him. He was absolutely vulnerable, completely open, but he wasn’t scared. And he himself was melting, disappearing into the warm soft shining whiteness. He felt something beyond love, beyond happiness, beyond joy, beyond anything he had ever felt before, something he never considered possible till this moment. He felt as complete as he had never been in his entire existence. And when he opened his eyes he saw soft pink shine warm and caressing filling the room.

 Next morning he asked Setsuna about it. She blushed, what was not usual with her and slowly nodded. But then she said she didn’t know what it was. He remembered as he was thinking about that night for days, weeks, months. And as one day when he was going through the corridors of his Palace realization struck him with such pain that he paled and seized the near-by chair not to fall. With utter amazement, some disbelief and almost horror he suddenly knew that those were their souls touching, loving, becoming one. And at that instant he knew that they witnessed one of the greatest wonders of the Universe and he knew they would pay. But now he just thought that he would have been prepared to pay infinitely higher.

 

 Prince turned to look at the Messenger who was still smiling with some sadness at him. ”I have another question to ask.” The young man was silent as if inviting him to speak. “Do all the sailor soldiers have these flowers in their souls?”

“If they are able to grow them, yes. But if you are interested in the soldiers of your solar system, they all were granted the seeds of Eternal Love for sincere friendship and love in their hearts.”

“And what about the Moon Princess?”

 Grey eyes shone with admiration. “Ah! She is one of the rarest and most wonderful creatures the Universe had ever created. Her soul in itself is the shining flower of Eternal Love. She didn’t grow it, she was born with it. She has the unique ability to touch the soul of any creature she wants to save.” Messenger was looking somewhere with his kind and knowing gaze and suddenly said: “May be one day she will save the Universe itself. No one knows.”  

 Then he turned to Prince and stretched his hand to him. “It is time to go. Have I answered all your questions?” Chronos only now realized that he as well was dressed in a blue shirt with wide sleeves, blue trousers and was barefoot.

“Would I ever see my wife again? And may be, the girls,” he slowly asked realizing the hopelessness of his request. Messenger bent down his head and when he raised it Chronos saw him smile slyly. “Yes. I can do this for you.” He moved to go and Prince followed him.

 As he was walking farther and farther he suddenly realized that he was becoming the light. Silver light, scattered in Space. That he was the stars shining in the darkness.