Hey, guys! This is the last part of the series; and hopefully you've enjoyed every step and journey we've taken with ourbeloved Sailor Pluto, Guardian of the Underworld, Space, and Time; daughter of Chronos and Protector of the Space-Time Door.
Though she's not my favorite Senshi (Mars is-she's the Senshi that fires such a short temper as I do), she has always fascinated and intrigued me. So, when characters boggle my mind and make me imagine, I write.
And here it is.
The time comes, as it always does, but this time, a large black crystal creates an explosion that shakes the Earth, as well as the time-space continuum.
The moment of black panic attacks when she thinks of her friend, her only friend. Small Lady.
Her knuckles are white against the Garnet Rod as she stares down at the clouds, tears forming underneath her wide eyes.
Is her only friend dead?
My only friend…
"Pluto! I love you! You're my only friend."
Her chest hurts at the thought; but she cannot, will not abandon her post.
Yes, someday her Queen will wake, and yes, someday the King, her fellow Guardians, and Small Lady will resurrect by the Queen's power; but how long will that take? How many more long years?
Gritting her teeth, she stands at her post until the clarity of her vision returns, blinking the tears away. Small Lady is alive. She can feel it.
I love you, too, Small Lady.
The door opens at someone's touch.
"Puu!" sobs a girl, launching into Pluto's arms, surprised and relieved.
Two lonely girls embrace between sacred lands, one holy and pure and of crystal, the other hidden and bloodied with the wounds of intruders and the Guardian herself.
"How did you...?"
"Gomene, Pluto!" Small Lady cries, and there is a flash of pink dust and mist, blurring her vision like the clouds of time; and a tug rips at her skirt.
"Small Lady!" she warns, because it's dangerous-the consequences and repercussions of time travel, wherever the girl thinks she's going, are massive and incomprehensible. But she heeds no warning.
The darkness, as she collapses onto the clouds from a toy of her own making. She curses fate to bring them to this; once again, she curses fate.
When she returns to consciousness, it's to a projection of the King shaking her awake.
"Pluto!" he yells, and her eyes open in panic. How long was she out? Were there any intruders?
No, she would have felt it.
"Where is Small Lady?" His eyes are infected with panic, and soon it envelops her, as well.
"She...she stole a key after the explosion. I have no idea where she went."
"Puu? What are those keys for?"
"These are used to control time, Small Lady. You can open the doors to any time period with this key. However, time travel is strictly forbidden. It is the ultimate Taboo."
"A key?" the King inquires, deep in thought. "She must have...she must have gone to her."
A puzzled look crosses her face. "Her?"
"Her mother," he clarifies, and he is so close to her. "Sailor Moon, the 20th century."
Pluto breathes a sigh of relief. "Sailor Moon will take care of her, then. It's dangerous here, is it not?" His eyes are a deep blue that entices her, a mirage of hope and light that she has yearned for since the beginning of time. "What has happened, King?"
Endymion sigh heavily. "I am nearly dead, in the next room. I am but a projection from my body, resting. The Four Guardians...Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Venus...they are asleep, as well."
The shock absorbs with force. Something she did not foresee, nor cared to look. One would think the Queen's reign would be peaceful and uneventful; but that is not the case. "And the Queen?"
He swallows, and she can see his Adam's apple bobbing with nervous uncertainty, with fear, with love. He smells of the Earth, and she is reminded of the day, thousands of years ago, when a small boy opened her door as a premonition of his entrance into the Silver Millennium family.
"It seems...the Ginzuishou has disappeared."
"The explosion created by the black crystal directly hit the Four Guardians and I, and the Queen's body reacted violently. She sleeps in a crystallized encasement, waiting for the time she will awaken."
Her body is flush with anxiety and rushing energy, ready to fight when necessary. When desperate. Not to be trapped in a sacred land of privilege and curse.
"King," she begins, but is strongly interrupted.
"No, Pluto," he replies, putting his gloved hand up. "We are counting on you to guard this door. If the enemies see that Small Lady has gone back in time, they can potentially ruin Crystal Tokyo by killing not only my daughter, but Sailor Moon. You know drastic consequences will result."
Pluto blushes. We are counting on you, Pluto.
He is so powerful and moving, his soul is so fluid and warm that it is so easy. Oh, it is too easy. To fall back into the rabbit hole, pulling her down day after day, year after year, in a cycle of forgetting, remembering, falling, and pain.
Before this, her solace was when their child came to ease both their loneliness.
Before that, her bitterness made her hard, cold. Unsympathetic.
Before that, her innocence was raw and burning.
Without her solace, without the harsh bitter soul she gave away for Small Lady, her innocence blazes into her flesh, seeps into her soul and her bones, ignites her desire.
"Yes, King." With a sweep of her green hair, she kneels on the floor, obedient; talisman at the ready. "I will protect this sacred land so no harm comes to Small Lady or Sailor Moon, our Queen; and when the time comes (as it always does), when the Queen awakens, I will call Small Lady back to this time period."
"Thank you, Sailor Pluto," he praises, with a hint of pride in his voice-or is it hope?-and returns inside. Before he leaves, before the sweep of lavender disappears into the light behind them, he says, "If you need anything, call Diana. She will help as much as she can."
The door closes, and Pluto stands up, a Warrior, but blushing in her heart and soaring in her mind. She falls in love with souls of the wild, free Earth, of the oceans and winds and valleys and rivers, rich in life and beautiful from afar. Now she wonders if she's been granted the chance to view its glory up close.
It is seven days, two hours, thirty-one minutes before a silver light attracts her attention. It has been peaceful (no-rather, it has been quiet), and no Black Moon Clan members have invaded the time-space continuum. Either they have found new power to deliver them to the present, or they have not invaded the twentieth century.
Either way, their faith in Sailor Moon is true and fulfilling. She will provide, because she is the future Queen. Sailor Pluto has seen it.
The brightness bounces into her vision, like the doorway to the sacred castle behind her, but Pluto has had imposters before. And this time, she must be on high alert-she will not tolerate any who attempt to pass the sacred land. For the sake of the future, the present, the past. For Small Lady.
Three figures step into the light, the length of two doors from Pluto, the brightness coming from the middle person's chest.
"Machinasai! You've gone far enough!" she yells, her Garnet Rod clenched in her possession. "You may not proceed from here."
They are: Sailor Moon, Sailor Venus, and Tuxedo Kamen.
She hides her shock. She has had imposters before, but never this confused nor bright.
Never ones who smell of the Earth, who has his eyes, his cloak.
But she must treat them as enemies, for they most likely are. This is her destiny, her duty, her fate. Sailor Pluto must not shirk.
"Those who attempt to violate the law," she says, remembering Queen Serenity's words, holding her talisman up and sliding her hand to one foot from the bottom of the staff, "will be destroyed!"
If they are imposters, then there is a small possibility Sailor Moon, Tuxedo Kamen, and the Sailor Senshi have been invaded. There is a possibility Small Lady has been murdered.
I love you, my only friend.
These people, then, must be punished.
"Dead Scream!" Anger hotly pushes through her veins, through her bones, into the staff; and "Sailor Moon" falls down from the heat of the painful, screaming souls.
The face of her Queen is in anguish, and her heart almost breaks at the sight. But Pluto must keep strength, she must keep stern-Small Lady may be dead, after all. What is left but the loneliness of unrequited love and the chains of duty?
"Sailor Moon, whoever it is-I cannot allow anyone to break our taboo." Usually, by this time, she has already been able to access the enemy's memories, time, places; but not this imposter. Strange. Usually, she is filled with pity at the sight of her, of disgust or fear of her own life. But not this girl. Who is she, truly?
"It appears it is my fate to destroy you," she says solemnly. Whoever this criminal is, she was forced into this labor, this cycle of destruction, and now it is her fate to kill her. Sailor Pluto raises her weapon, preparing the words, "Chronos Typhoon!" as her finishing blow-
"Mate! Sailor Pluto!"
Light and carefree like the clouds of Earth and its gentle breeze, her miniature frame jumps into her arms.
She smells the red clay and grass, the salty breeze of sea. Small Lady.
Pluto wants to laugh, cry, scream at this girl; in the end, she settles with none, but gasp with relief. "Small Lady!"
She blabbers on, but all Pluto cares about is that her loved one is alive, that the soul she now loves still exists, and is here and warm in her arms. "You're wrong about them! I can't let you kill them! Gomene, I broke my promise to you, but there was no other way, I had to bring them with me, I had to, Puu!"
"Small Lady!" she scolds. "Where have you been this whole time?" She feels tears rising up in her throat, and she wonders what she would have done if Small Lady had been murdered. She shudders at the thought.
She looks ashamed, like she committed a crime yet to be revealed. "I traveled to the past in order to find the legendary soldier, Sailor Moon, so that I could use the power of her Ginzuishou, which is stronger than my own."
Dangerous. Even more dangerous than the Black Moon Clan.
"The past, present, and future Ginzuishous must not be in contact with one another. Such power connected will lead to terrible destruction, the ending of time itself. There will be nothing you can do."
She puts on a stern, unwavering look in her eyes to hide the pain of the worry. She has never experienced a mother's pain before. "But the power of the Ginzuishou never diminishes, no matter what time period it is in. And on top of that, you know you can't use either as it stands. You broke your promise to me, stole the time key, and on top of that, went travelling to the past!"
The child's eyes close in despair, in guilt and shame. "Puu, do you think Mama's angry with me? Is that why she tells me to behave this way and that way, and she never gives me hugs or kisses?"
"No, Small Lady. Your mother loves you; love is not only displayed in hugs or kisses."
Pluto picks the girl up and to her chest, remembering the conversation. All we are is worried of you. Because we love you, Small Lady. "I'm just glad you are safe, Small Lady. Don't make me worry about you like that ever again."
If there is one thing that makes Small Lady happy, it is when someone regards her as a Princess, as her mother's child. She bows down, talisman holding her steady like she has done to many of the Silver Millennium family. "Please forgive me of my insolence, Princess."
A faint smile crosses her face as the two Princesses bicker in front of her. She remembers the time her Queen was an innocent, childish girl; when her dreams were still hopeful and she dreamt of the Earth and its soul. In a way, she still does. Not as much as she used to. She found a kindred spirit of the Earth for her loneliness.
She moves her Garnet Rod out of their way, pressing it to the floor in front of the Space-Time Door, opening it to the silver light of Small Lady's home. "I will allow you to pass."
"Usagi, it's this way," Small Lady instructs, as if she were not her mother, but her sister. Pluto can tell Small Lady has grown to love Sailor Moon, as they all have. She chuckles to herself.
But Sailor Moon turns back, and inquires, "Sailor Pluto?" Aren't you coming with us? are the unspoken words.
Some things never change.
Like Neo-Queen Serenity, Sailor Moon does not understand the loneliness of warfare in this sacred, solitary land. Yes, she does not expect it, but Pluto suspects she never will understand this sacrifice.
Wearing a weary face, she explains, "I can never leave my station. So please, protect Small Lady for me."
The door closes behind them, and she waits as Sailor Moon discovers her Prince is hers forever more.
"Sailor Pluto has the longest lifespan out of any of us. She has lived through many eras. Her judgement and wisdom is better than any soldier. Be sure to take advantage the skills and assets she brings to your team."
Her blush is so hot, she almost smiles at him, only to realize she had looked at him through every word.
Lavender, the color of dawn and gray skyline, the hue of royalty; but his eyes have never changed, and neither has his soul. They still manage to entice her further down the rabbit hole. She falls again and again without even knowing. Is it inevitable for her heart to chase after a fate unknown to her?
Her friend comes again, and worry attacks her once again.
"Small Lady? What happened?" Did something happen to Sailor Moon and Venus? To Endymion?
She runs to her, Luna-P safely tucked in her arms. She wears the innocent, lonely look she wore the first day the door opened at her touch. "I'm safe...Can I stay with you, Pluto?"
"You're my friend, right? Even though I look like this…"
"Small Lady, I promise you. We are always friends."
They are both lonely and doubtful of what others call love, but take for granted. "You're a good girl, Small Lady." Her pink hair is soft underneath her fingertips as she ruffles them, Small Lady's frown quirking upwards, only for a second.
Say it, she tells herself. Before it's too late, because there is a chance both of them could die from this enemy.
"I love you, you know."
Her heart quickens. These times of trouble, is it a blessing or a curse?
"With Sailor Moon in the enemy's lair, we are in the worst possible scenario." His voice is rich and heavy, and though she knows he is always thinking of his beloved, she finds it far too easy to pretend.
"Please lend your powers to Tuxedo Kamen and Sailor Venus."
A blessing, for him to acknowledge her; or a curse, that her Queen lays in a crystal coffin, and the city is in chaos?
"I'm counting on you."
Is it both, like her Garnet Rod and her visions of time? Is that what fate gave her? An indecisive destiny coupled with its destroying duty?
"Yes, my King. Of course."
A dropped key. A startling shock, shaking the nerves of her body.
Sailor Pluto feels the disruption echoing through the clouds, thumping through time like a heartbeat-she has taken a path...without a key.
She heeds no warning.
She has never felt black panic before this moment: the fact that one she loves might be gone in the midst of a time storm, the distortions caused by the enemy apparent and dangerous.
Small Lady is in danger.
She runs to behind the door, searching, looking for the key where her heart tells her-she finds it, on the ground, abandoned. Small Lady!
She tries to call to her as if she had such powers, but praying to the Moon, to her father their connection is power enough-the sacred land shakes and its tranquility shatters; and, like the loss of the Princess thousands of years ago, the pink clouds of time turn dark and a storm ensues.
Electrifying pain, once again, runs through her veins, infecting her blood with hot, seething anguish. If space and time fall, then she must also die. If space and time stop flowing, then her heart and blood must also cease to pump.
This is her fault. She was appointed to guard her Princess, not to let herself or the Queen or the King down…
Those she loves, she must protect; she must stand guard. Danger surrounds her connection to her beloved, and Small Lady has never felt so distant than before…
King...I failed you, King Endymion...
Darkness, as she descends from the pain and onto the dark clouds before the Space-Time Door of the 30th century. She curses fate to bring them to this; once again, she curses fate.
She wakes, again, to the King shaking her awake. This time, to both the present and the future ones.
She wakes, again, to dark blue eyes clouded with worry; to the smell of the Earth wafting through her nose. Small Lady is her thoughts after falling again.
To have his arms around her, ushering her awake; to have his eyes full of concern-it's all she's ever wanted. But that is not her duty.
"Small Lady has vanished into space-time without a key!" It's my fault. "I saw her...she…something terrible…"
The younger version of Earth's soul stands, impulsive. "Chibiusa is on the other side of this storm." He runs through, disappearing; and she yells for him, for if she lost one, then she cannot lose another.
"Tuxedo Kamen! Come back! You cannot go through without a key!" Damn it!
Small Lady...Endymion...Prince, King, Tuxedo Kamen, whichever form…
Both souls are warm against her chest, are hot with desire in her heart; and she yearns to be with them, though Sailor Pluto is bound to her destiny, chained to the Space-Time door in this sacred land of blood and sweat and tears.
She longs to cry, to collapse in the King's arms, beside her; but that is not for her. No.
She is the Senshi, Sailor Pluto. She will fight because it is her duty and her obligation to save mankind.
She searches for a place, a way to use her powers against this storm of destruction and finds one answer: Sailor Moon.
And Sailor Moon comes to them.
Her talisman glows in the midst of the black storm with powerful, silver light; and that can only mean one thing: her Queen. Sailor Moon appears, three Guardians in tow; a triumphant look on their faces.
But she catches on quickly.
"Where is Tuxedo Kamen...and Chibiusa?!" she asks, desiring for their presence as much as Pluto does.
Pain is etched in both their eyes as they attempt to find them, as she finds Luna-P, Small Lady's precious toy, broken, now, like their friendship.
I promise you, Small Lady.
She feels tears prick her eyes as Sailor Moon also cries, then faints from exhaustion.
Pluto has never felt so close to her Queen until now.
Falling in love with the Earth, it's richness, purity, complexity, winds, oceans, soil; falling in love with its soul. Yearning every minute for their loved ones, acknowledged and unacknowledged. The pain for not being with them.
Twelve hours, fourteen minutes, and twenty-three seconds.
Small Lady has vanished into space. Or worse.
Her body aches with pain, is sore from the storm, and worries and worries and worries. Small Lady. Tuxedo Kamen. If he dies, then King Endymion...he will surely disappear.
The future hangs upon the present; the present hangs upon the past.
Thousands of different ways destiny could have gone. Thousands, and fate gave her this role. Never before has she felt so powerless.
Diana watches her from behind, says in an innocent voice not too unsimilar to Small Lady's, "Pluto, daijoubu?"
Sailor Pluto disguises herself as the Guardian of Space and Time, a warrior, a Senshi powerful and glorious; the Protector of the Underworld, the daughter of Chronos.
"I am alright, Diana. You're sweet, just like your master." A thin smile is forced onto her face as she tickles Diana's purple fur.
"Diana, Small Lady is very precious to me. She's our only Princess, so give her all your love."
Small Lady. Doubt clouds her vision like the dark storm of distortion, and her heart yearns to be with the ones she loves, not to be stranded here in this sacred land, as she's thought so many times before, unable to fight with the Sailor Senshi tasked with the duty of protecting her Queen and her Princess. And her King.
She's lost count how many times she's cursed fate. This time, she curses herself for not protecting her daughter not of her blood, the daughter she will never have.
The time comes, as it always does.
But now, everything goes wrong.
And she prays to the Moon and to her father, once again; because a large crystal has exploded once again; and Small Lady is still nowhere to be found; and she imagines scenarios of murder or of torture and she worries.
It's all she does now, chained to an invisible post. To the door of Space-Time. Protector.
The Queen is beautiful, and kind. She touches her stray hair and shoulders, explaining clearly her duties.
When she was a child, her father would tell her stories of Sailor Pluto, of how a solitary Guardian protected the world from chaos and distortion without complaint. With ease and power. With strength and the embracement of her duty.
"Pluto, you are the soldier of time and space. And there are some parts of your job that are taboo to commit."
When she was a child, her father would train her in their closet; lock her inside and tell her to wait, or to pray when she was losing her strength.
"First, you must never cross over time. Time travel, using these keys, is strictly forbidden."
And so she prays to tell her father what to do. To awaken, perhaps a second time, that maybe there is another power inside of her, breathing and shaking for the hour of enlightenment.
Her chest tightens with anxiety, burning at her flesh like Mars's flames. Her feet cannot move from this Godforsaken door; this stranded island of privileged duty and pain. She closes her eyes harshly, her faith in Sailor Moon to save those they both love (and are in love with).
"Second, you are never to abandon your station. You must remain here to guard the Space-Time Door."
How she wishes to open the door and run, her feet flying and quickly destroying the enemy. How she wishes to stand beside Sailor Moon, her future Queen, and fight alongside her. How she wishes things were different.
And her chest aches so harshly her heart feels like it shatters.
"Small Lady has defected! She's now the Queen of the Black Moon!"
The pain, loneliness cannot compare to the rejection of unrequited love. For now, there is a love to mourn where the latter consisted of merely wishful rebellion against fate.
Diana is as sweet as her owner, who still exists, Pluto convinces herself.
Sailor Pluto sees much of herself in Small Lady. She sees Pluto in her lonely eyes, in her helpless stagnation. She sees Pluto in her innocence, when her wishes were deemed possible underneath fate's watchful eye. She sees Pluto as she smiles, and when she frowns. This is how she knows: Small Lady exists in the same darkness that consumed Pluto into coldness before the child came to give her warmth. A darkness named Loneliness and Hatred.
"Arigatou, Diana. You're so sweet, just like Small Lady."
Endymion sees her as she exits the doorway and into the sleeping Queen's room. "Pluto?"
"Diana is guarding the Doorway. The situation is dire. There is no time to argue." Lavender cloak, blue eyes, the salty ocean breeze in his hair. She is too deep in love with the Silver Millennium family; with adoration for her Queen, with a love for the Earth's soul, with a kindred spirit of her Princess. This is her duty, what she has always wanted to be her duty: fight for those she loves, protecting them. Her heart swells, with pain, with excitement, with anticipation.
The King nods, agreeing. "Let us fight as we can."
She runs, the chains of her post disappearing behind her; with the destiny to fight with the others, to save those she loves against the enemy.
No. This is not Small Lady.
This figure, resonating with dark magic, has long, pink hair and red eyes. A full body, curved and explicit; a long slit in her dress for her legs.
This person is not who she loves. She swallows the rising bile in her throat and fights the urge to sob, like she did, seeing her loved one and her Princess die before her.
Her head is spinning with sorrow, her heart hollow. The vertigo pounds at her chest. Her knees shake.
A large shout interrupts her thoughts.
"Now that I have both past and future crystals, I can travel time freely to make the world I want!"
Both her and the King gasp. If they collide…
Small Lady comes nearer, yelling, "Give that back to me!"
By instinct, she screams, "Small Lady!" But they heed no warning.
The danger. The pain. The unchangeable consequences, and unstoppable distortion of space and time.
Sailor Pluto knows what she must do, as the enemy draws the two Ginzuishous closer. There is no other option.
Time becomes slower as she makes her decision.
The Garnet Orb glows with brilliance.
Time! Stop! By the power of my father, Chronos!
Pluto feels her heart stop with her command.
"The third taboo is that you must never allow time to come to a stop."
As time shakes and slows, so does she.
"If you violate the taboos…"
As time and space shatter or distort with confusion and pain, so does she.
"You will die."
And as time stops, so does she.
This is what she wanted,
to fight alongside them,
"I love you!"
to do something, was it not?
Is this the price she must pay,
to save the ones she loves?
"My only friend."
Her body clatters to the ground like her Rod.
It's done. She has done it. She stopped time, the Ultimate Taboo.
Shouts arise, murky and unclear. Sailor Moon, her Queen, hovers above her; her blue eyes filled with pain and concern. Now is not the time to cry yet, Sailor Moon.
"Sailor Moon…" She battles against the exertion. "You must retrieve the crystals before the effects wear off. Please, hurry!"
She sees the tears, like Neo-Queen Serenity's as she kissed her daughter good night, escape her eyes; only a sliver before they disappear. Pain, she sees, is a hidden emotion for the Queen.
"Pluto." Her voice shakes. "I retrieved both crystals, look."
"I'm so relieved." Her Queen has always loved her, she knows; and in return, Pluto has always loved her. "I have always wanted to make a stand, to fight with you." Pure adoration, like in Endymion's eyes, like in Small Lady's eyes, fills her own. "Sailor Moon...I have always longed to be close to you, my Queen...onegai...rescue Small Lady!"
Raspy coughs rack against her chest, and slowly, slowly, as time returns, her heart slows. The rich voice of her first love attempts to encourage her.
"Just a little longer, Pluto...you can hang on," he pleads.
"King…this choice, this sacrifice, this crime...is my choice. For everyone's sake. Now, it is time to face the consequences."
She calls Diana, a child who voices her sadness at the sight of her. "Pluto?"
"You've got to hang on, Pluto!" Diana pleads as well.
Pluto knows it is time.
"King...I carried out my duties with honor."
His eyes...look so sad.
"King." And she realizes how she never left the rabbit hole; how she was stranded there as soon as she saw the Earth, its blue oceans the color of his eyes, its rich soil the smell of his skin, its whispering winds the sound of his voice, its night the color of his hair, its dawn and twilight the color of his cloak, of the sunrise in the early morning.
She tastes his tears as he whispers, "Pluto."
"I'm sorry...I couldn't protect you as well as I should have, Small Lady…"
Her hand carries their promise: a simple, yet powerful key.
The time comes. As it inevitably does. It will not stop without her.
I love you.
Thank you for reading...
Did I make you cry? It is my personal belief that writers relish in the tears of readers. Just want to know, haha.