Furthest from the star Xyll is the planet Chronos. It is a giant planet, nearly as large as Neptune, but is not a gas giant. It has only one moon, called Ptah after the Egyptian god of creation, and nearly a trillion people live on its surface. To be accurate, they lived on its surface.
The day of the fall of Chronos was a day of change, not only for the planet but for its entire stellar system.
The spaceport on Chronos was a stunning place. It was very near the palace, with a main room over a square mile and a second level built in the surrounding rooms. There was a platform in the main room raised above the ground to be just level with the second level's floors. In fact, the spaceport was so large and elaborate that a sign had been posted for the tourists: NO, THIS ISN'T THE PALACE. THE PALACE IS DOWN THE ROAD, OVER THE HILL, AND TO YOUR LEFT.
These were, of course, tourists from other planets. Everyone on Chronos knew about the spaceport, at least in recent years, because of a threat that only the Chronosians knew about.
Queen Hades sat in one of the rooms of the palace. It wasn't comfortable or inviting, but her private radio room. A large screen in front of her showed a diagram of Chronos and the surrounding space. As she watched it, listening to something through a pair of headphones, a large red blip came onto the screen. "I see it, Commander," said Hades into a microphone attached to the headphones. "Is that Kiraino?"
She paused, listening, and said, "I was afraid of that. Send an alarm to all of the preset 'ports. I want everyone on Chronos to know that Kiraino Ouhi is coming."
Radio waves shone on the radar screen, bouncing off of the green blips representing Hades' fighter spaceplanes and landing all over the planet. Kiraino's fighters picked them up also, but that couldn't be helped.
Someone else also picked up the radio message warning of Kiraino's arrival: someone who was not Hades or Kiraino or part of either of their forces.
That someone else didn't stop the message, but sent it to her underlings. They responded in the blink of an eye. Hades didn't notice the blue blip that represented the someone else's gathering fighters, nor would she have understood it if she had.
A few thousand miles from Chronos and farther from any other planet, a squad of miniature spaceplanes sped towards the place where the two forces were converging. One spacer, the leader and the one who had picked up Hades' message, broke away and sped for the spaceport, where people were being teleported from the prearranged 'ports into the spaceport and lining up in front of ten giant ships.
As they entered the first ship, a woman and a man, apparently in their early twenties, watched from the sidelines.
"It's cutting very close," said the man. "The ships will have to make ten trips each to get the entire population safe. No one should have to think about this sort of thing, Ursula-chan."
"I know," said the woman. "But Triton-kun...why does Kiraino want to destroy us?"
"Do you know what her full name - Kiraino Ouhi - means? It means queen of hate. She wasn't given that name at birth; she adopted it herself when she decided what she wanted to do with her life. She wants to rule the stellar system, and for that she needs Chronos out of the way."
Ursula sighed. "But still. We shouldn't have to save almost a trillion people from her. She must be mad, to try to destroy a planet this large. What if we can't carry the entire population of Chronos with only ten ships?"
"With your permission, Countess, I will be happy to help."
"What?" Ursula turned, looking with startled purple eyes at the lead spacer from the squad mentioned a few paragraphs ago. She stood perfectly still, wearing a light chocolate-colored adaption of the Chronosian pilots' uniform, short blonde hair swinging. "Ryn!? What are you doing here?"
"I've come to offer my services in saving the people of Chronos."
"We won't let you do a thing to the Chronosians," said Triton fiercely. "You were banished for high treason to the planet, did you think we would forget that?"
"No," replied the blonde icily. "But I thought you would remember that you need all the help you can get. My squad is out with the main defense line, fighting to stop Kiraino. I'm only here because my plane is the fastest. And I didn't betray my planet, no matter what Queen Hades or anyone else says."
Ursula sighed. "Ryn, what can I make you swear by so that I know you won't hurt the people you transport to safety?"
"Nothing. Whatever I swear by, you still won't believe me. But you do need to hurry and let me help or there won't be any time left."
"She's right, dear," said Triton. "You may as well let her."
"Oh, all right. But I warn you, Ryn, if one thing happens to any of those you transport..."
The spacer cut her off with a short nod of her head. "If they're left behind, they're dead anyway." She turned and strode off to one of the long lines approaching one massive spaceship. After a short conversation with those at the end of the line, a dozen people and all the possessions they dared try to save followed her out a side door of the spaceport.
Outside, the people loaded their things quickly into a slim violet-tinted spaceplane, then climbed in themselves. Ryn stepped into the cockpit with astonishing ease, and within seconds the plane was in the sky, then out of sight.
Half a day later, Ryn had evacuated her share of the people of Chronos. The actual spaceships meant to do this job (which carried over a million people each) were almost thoroughly loaded, but many people had opted to go with Ryn since she would get them off the planet so much faster, whereas the spaceships had yet to take off with their first load.
As another group of people, including a man with two seven-year-old girls, climbed into Ryn's spaceplane, the girl strode over (never once did she walk at a casual pace) to Ursula and Triton. "Countess, Count, please come on my plane," she said in a firm voice. "My spacers have radioed me that Kiraino is far closer than originally predicted, and you need to be safe."
"What? No! I've got to stay here and make sure everyone is taken to safety!" cried Countess Ursula.
"I'll stay here, Ursula-chan," said Count Triton. "Don't worry. You need to go with Ryn. No buts," he added as Ursula opened her mouth to say, 'But-' "You're going with her and that's final."
The Countess sighed and followed Ryn back to the plane. The pilot leaped in with feline ease and they were gone within moments, soaring up and out of Chronos' atmosphere.
The spaceplane was approaching Ptah's orbit when small footsteps made Ryn glance away from her controls. One of the young girls - with gold-streaked blue hair and pretty blue-green eyes - had found her way into the cockpit. "Go back to your family," the spacer said. "I'm busy."
"You're amazing," said the girl, ignoring Ryn's directive. "How did you get to be so fast?"
"Like I tell every single person who asks that stupid question - practice," Ryn replied. "Now go back..."
"My name's Moonie. I already know who you are. You're Ryn-sama. My cousin Sandy and me think you're really cool." Moonie had obviously not heard about Ryn's charge of treason.
Suddenly the cockpit lit up for a brief but startling instant. "What was that?" asked Moonie, clinging to the back of Ryn's seat.
"Nothing on this plane." As she said that, Ryn realized just what the flash of light had been. "Get out of here - NOW," she snapped in an authoritative tone that not even the precocious child could disobey. "And tell everyone to hold on!" the pilot called as she forced her plane into a speed that would be deadly if they connected with anything larger than a slice of bread.
Several more flashes of light occurred, happening more and more often as the minutes passed with agonizing slowness. Ryn turned abruptly, causing a mild commotion in the hold-turned-passenger-area, and headed for the massive moon of her home planet. She landed on the far side of Ptah just as there was a cataclysmic explosion and a series of flashes of light alternating with, inexplicably, flashes of dark.
Chunks of rock and debris and magma came hurling past Ptah, at the edge of Ryn's vision. Only the moon at their backs shielded her and her human cargo from being hit with burning debris from a dead planet.
Chronos was no more.
Only one citizen of Chronos had survived other than the ones Ryn had flown to safety, and that was Queen Hades. Her long silky green-black hair was a mess and her garnet eyes were wounded but proud.
The queen was now standing in front of a woman with black hair, red eyes, and a dress of deep purple that was very revealing. Her nails were blood red and several inches long, and she had vampirelike fangs. Her skin was an unreal white.
"Kiraino," said Hades calmly.
"Queen of Chronos," said Kiraino. "Now the Queen of nothing. Your planet is now a billion fragments of rock - what was not utterly obliterated by Dark energy, anyhow. So tell me, how do you feel?" She grinned. Hades stared back, fiercely silent.
A spear of green liquid hit Hades in the back, followed by a smattering of white and red pellets that stung like a swarm of bees. Lashes of purple fur and red fire cut into her from both sides. She fell to her knees. "Those were my generals, Hades-sama," hissed Kiraino. "I will let them torture you before I kill you. Unless you tell me where the remaining Chronosians are hiding!"
"I don't know," said Hades quietly. "I don't know where they are. But I'll tell you this: My daughter is alive."
"WHAT?" screamed Kiraino. "How can this be? Who is she? Where is she?"
"Even if I knew where she is, I would not tell you," growled Hades. "But as to her identity: She is Sailor Chronos, one of the Greatest Sailor Senshi with powers beyond any you posses."
"But she does not know she is a Sailor Soldier," mused Kiraino. "Otherwise I would have felt her presence. Mighty Metallia would have felt her presence. So all I must do is find her and kill her before she learns of her power. And then there is you..."
She pointed one long finger at Hades and laughed. The laugh echoed through her spaceship, down corridors and through rooms. By the time she had finished laughing, the echo of her laugh had returned to the chamber she was in. And the fingernail she had held out had grown so that it touched Hades' throat. It grew another few millimeters, and slashed the Queen's skin. A drop of blood welled up, and the fingernail touched it.
Instantly poison spread through the Queen of Chronos' blood, which made her feel as if she were on fire. She screamed, as all scream who are feeling Kiraino's specialty torture: the Dokuchishio. By the time it had died down, she was dead. Her body lay on the ground in a smooth pose, graceful to the end.
Having taken off as soon as the flood of debris let up, Ryn finally landed on Antigone, the second planet in from Chronos. She eased her spaceplane into a crevice between two rocks and from there into a hidden but massive cave network. Her passengers unloaded their things and walked behind her down a stone corridor to a huge
passengers were walking beside her. Inside the cave, all of them except Countess Ursula separated to merge with the crowd.
Ryn slipped a miniature gun from one boot and, before Ursula could react, fired at the wall. The resulting shots got everyone's attention.
The countess stepped to the front, looking surprisingly graceful in her purple and black robes for all that they had been through. "As your countess, minna-san," she called into the crowd, her voice amplified by the rock above her, "it is my painful duty to inform you that your home planet has been...demolished. It doesn't exist any more. Kiraino ... disintegrated it."
A collective gasp swept the room. Ursula turned and left the front, and then noticed that Ryn was gone. The Countess left the crowd, which had begun talking almost immediately, and stepped into the cavelet next to it, where Ryn had parked her spaceplane.
As she had suspected, Ryn was there.
"I'm sorry," said Ursula. "For doubting your loyalty, I mean," she added quickly. "All of the Chronosians still alive are because of you, and I thank you. Back ... on Chronos ... you said you didn't betray your planet. What did happen then?"
Ryn awarded the countess a wry smile. "The police and other security organizations were penetrated by Kiraino's youma a long time ago; otherwise she would never have been able to get so near the planet before it could muster a good defense. I detected the infiltration not long after I graduated, and I along with my spacer squad spied on and attacked. You can see the conclusion the public came to: a young pilot attacking organizations meant to protect general well-being, with no real reason. I could give no satisfactory answers to the questions asked me at the trial, rather like I could give no satisfactory proof earlier today that I wouldn't hurt the Chronosians. And thus I was found guilty of treason to the planet and exiled from Chronos."
"I see." There was an uncomfortable pause. "Well ... I'd better get back to them then. See you later, I suppose." She left for the larger cavern, and Ryn, after waiting a moment, left the cavelet.
The pilot returned to the surface of Antigone to sit on a shelf of rock above the caves and think. She wondered about Bridgit, her teacher at Spacers' Academy. Though she'd been rather like a mother to Ryn, the spacer had been unable to find her mentor among the citizens in line for the evacuation spaceships. And none of those ships had gotten even one load off of the ground. Bridgit was almost certainly dead.
Ryn had only been sitting and thinking for a few moments when a navy blue spaceplane appeared in the sky. It landed quite near Ryn, who recognized it instantly as a member of her squad. The pilot leapt out with skill comparable to Ryn's own, and approached her leader hesitantly.
Standing up to greet the new arrival, Ryn smiled slightly at her. "Kichou-san. You made it."
The brunette nodded wearily. "I'm the only one, Ryn-sama," she said quietly. "Kiraino decimated our and the Queen's spacers alike."
Ryn nodded sharply, the smile vanishing. "Head for your branch of the cave. You need rest," she said, gesturing to the hidden cave entrance.
"What about you? You're as tired as I am."
"I'll manage. I always have. Let's go." And the two entered the large cave, unaware that Kiraino was discussing them at that very moment.
More specifically, she was screaming about them.
"You let a spacer escape?" she shrieked at a small hairy green youma. "First you allow a thousand Chronosians to escape, and then one of those infernal spacers? Any one of them could be Sailor Chronos!"
"My queen, I assure you none of them are Sailor Chronos. We've been doing tests and the only one of them with any power is the pilot who was, er, most unfortunately liberating some of your victims.
"And that wasn't Chronos power. It was her own inner power, which comes from her, well, loyalty to her planet- or what's left of it. And that's not much, because of your fine and wonderful destruction - no! Please, please my queen, no!"
The youma was shrieking because Kiraino's fingernail was extending. "No, I've done nothing, it was...it was Halia! Yes! That was it!"
"Don't lie to me about my finest general," said Kiraino. "Hold still, youma. The pain will increase if you move." She then made a small cut at the youma's throat, and the Dokuchishio began. Kiraino drew her nail away much sooner from the youma that she had from Queen Hades. "Let that be a lesson to you: Never allow someone to escape who I have commanded should not escape," she hissed.
"Yes! Yes, my queen, yes! I understand perfectly, my queen!" The problem with lying, cheating, and backstabbing your way to the top of Kiraino's ranks was that she often chopped off the top. Her generals were excepted from this, but youma were not. This particular youma was not happy about its situation, especially the fact that it was in charge of reporting failures to the Queen.
"Goddess Hestia!" called the Queen of Kiraino's next target planet. "Hearth goddess, please answer our prayers and come to our aid!" She was standing in front of a giant fireplace, where the flames were glowing brilliant gold. "Save us from Kiraino's attack!"
The fire turned white and then transparent, revealing a terrifying scene. Elsewhere on the planet was an agricultural region with fire raining down on it from Kiraino's spacecraft. Suddenly a huge translucent figure appeared on the field. It solidified into a tall and ferocious-looking blue and green glowing goddess.
Hestia reached out and swept away the fighter craft, then reached through space to field that was burning in fire shot by Kiraino's fighters. She stepped off of the ground and into the sky above her patron planet, reaching for the mothership in which Kiraino sat.
Less than ten minutes later, Kiraino's fleet was tearing away from the planet at top speed. But even as the witch-queen left, she was plotting her return to the Xyll system to avenge her defeat...