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Sailor Pluto walked swiftly over the icy dunes. The supply ship had landed a good distance away from the Rift, most likely because the pilot was being overly cautious. It didn't matter; if it made the pilots think distance was safe, then so be it. Even if she did have to haul the supplies nearer to her home by herself.

By the time she had arrived at the drop-off site, however, she knew something was amiss. The ships came but once every Earth year, but they didn't have much to leave her even then, just a few odds and ends and things she couldn't make or grow herself. For it to stay this long, it must have a great amount to unload. This had only happened twice before, and each of those times she had had warning.

She crested the last hill as the ship fired retros and lifted off. When it cleared the landing zone, she saw her suspected reason for the ship's strange behavior. Off to the side of the official shipment were three crates, somewhat smaller than the rest, and sitting on one of them was a person.

Pluto could tell from her position on the crest of the dune that this person was female, dark-haired, and a very, very powerful magic user.

Ignoring the various cargo stamped with the symbols for Jupiter, Mercury, and other planets, Pluto gracefully walked down to the other woman, who was now getting off of the box she had been sitting on. On closer inspection, the woman was wearing casual but workable clothes that hugged her form rather well. Around her waist was a tool belt, hanging from which were several tools and implements that she could not put a name to.

Pluto decided to make the first move. "Greetings, I am Sailor Pluto. May I ask your name and the reason you were exiled?"

The other smiled, then bobbed her head in an irreverent bow. "You may, Sailor Pluto! I am Ery'ka, but most call me Erica. As for the reason of my banishment…" she winks one of her large, green-brown eyes, "The Great and Noble Serenity decided not to take any chances with her mighty person, and sent someone who had made a 'deadly and dangerous weapon' out where she could not harm anyone of personage again."

Pluto raised a single viridian eyebrow. "You made a weapon that was used in an assassination attempt against the Queen? And you're still standing? What, pray tell, was this weapon?"

Ery'ka smiled slightly and leaned back against one of the larger boxes. "A hoof pick. But you couldn't have convinced Her Royal Majesty of that. I didn't even know what they were going to use it for when I made it. How could I? It was forged almost two hundred years ago. Goddess, it was probably used for its intended purpose at first. I sold it to the Saturnian Nomades."

Pluto had to smile at that. The Queen killed by a tool used to dig stones and dirt out of the hooves of horses and other animals of the Nomades. Fitting in a way, as the Nomades were the second group most likely to ignore any action by Queen Serenity that did not directly involve them. The first, of course, was herself.

"I take it the would-be assassin survived at least some of the questioning? Or did Mercury trace it back to you some other way?"

"Aye, the latter. It took her a few years to do it, though. Mercury's good, but cold iron stops most attempts of magic." Ery'ka frowned now. "I just wish I could have talked with her more. I could probably have tricked her into using her divination magic on herself."

Pluto sighed, and leaned up against the crate by Ery'ka. "It would most likely have done no good. The Queen has too much control over the Senshi, myself included." She laughed softly. "Goddess, I'm her link to the Outer Senshi, so its no surprise that the keeps me in an iron grip."

The shorter woman looked askance at the Senshi. "But it's not the Queen, is it?" she asked softly.

Pluto turned her head and looked at her only companion on the planet that shared her name. "You know too much. And you present too many mysteries." She looked up into the sky, noting the distant spark that was Sol, only slightly brighter than the rest of the stars in the sky. "As it is, it is time for me to return to the Rift. Duty and all. I'll be back later to move the majority of this stuff to my tower. Feel free to set up where you will; there's no one else to disturb you, and no ship will land here as long as you are alive."

The Senshi stood straight and began to trot back to the east, leaving the blacksmith to set up her things as she wished.

Behind her, Ery'ka sighed. The term of the sentence was that she be taken to Pluto, but the previous two times someone had been given such a condemnation, the few ships that could travel to Pluto were forbidden by Royal Decree. What she had to do was easy, really.

She had to create her own way off the planet, and perhaps solve a few other problems as well.

She gained a smile that her family would have known on sight.

For the creation of Weapons was her specialty.

A Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon story
by Dro'gan NiteFlier

Disclaimer: Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon belongs to Takeuchi Naoko, Koudansha, TV Asahi, Toei Douga, and DIC.

Begin = 11-13-2002;
Finish = 12-09-2002;

I wonder now, when a good deal of my actions are done, and my course set beyond change, if I took a path that might push this timeline to destruction even quicker. The friendship I made with the strongest and weakest Senshi… could it have pushed her onto a darker path?

I can't really say.

All I know is that my Trial of Tyr'tani is just beginning.

Chapter 1: New Troubles and Discoveries

The meetings were rare, now. The Inner Senshi used them for the "official" purpose now: a study group. Occasionally Haruka and Michiru would show up with Hotaru in tow, and the Senshi would talk of their future and what their plans were. After all, Setsuna had told them that there would be no more enemies after Galaxia. After Galaxia they could just sit back, relax and not worry about fighting any more youma, daimons, or other monsters sent to take energy, heart crystals, or somesuch.

There was still the sporadic arrival of true daemons or other dangerous beasts, but those were dispatched easily, not causing any problems to the Senshi.

It was thus, at one of those meetings that the three Outers had chosen to attend, that the Mercury Computer decided to drop an alert on their laps.

They arrived at the location of the disturbance to find nothing amiss at first glance. When the second and third glances ended in the same result, their gazes turned to Mercury, who began to get nervous under their stares.

"But it's here, I'm sure of it! Just let me find it again!" She quickly activated her visor and swept it over the shopping district. As she looked towards the Sailors, the computer identified each one, and their relative strengths, proving that it was working properly. But when Mercury began to turn towards the shops, with people now starting to look up at the gathered Senshi, she was blindsided.

To the Senshi, it looked like the creature had merely run past the blue-haired girl, but Mercury doubled up as if hit and fell off the building they were on, landing in the midst of the gathering crowd.

The Sailors immediately reacted; Uranus, Neptune, Jupiter, and Mars going after the attacker, and Saturn, Venus, and Moon jumping down to help Mercury.

As the four chased the daemon, Saturn and Moon helped Mercury into a sitting position while Venus kept a lookout, watching the others pursue the creature. By now the assembled populace had run away or ducked into hiding, hoping that the daemon wouldn't swerve towards them, even though the Senshi had not yet let fly with any magic.

"Mercury, are you all right?" The almost panicked Moon cried. Saturn, with more restraint, added her inquiry.

Mercury nodded, then said, "It didn't have much strength, but it's faster than anything I've ever seen! I'm pretty sure that it hit me ten or twenty times as it ran past, even though it never stopped moving." With the aid of the other two, she slowly stood.

As Mercury focused her visor at the speeding daemon and its trailing Sailors, the three not in pursuit of the creature watched as the other Senshi created traps and ambushes that the daemon breezed by. Strangely, the daemon was not doing any damage whatsoever, merely moving too quickly for the Sailors to catch up.

The daemon in question was not a huge hulking brute that was the supposed vision of evil and destruction, but rather more of an imp. Short, spindly, and altogether unimposing, it did not look to have the power that Mercury's Computer claimed it did while back at the shrine. However, for all these characteristics, the unnatural speed of the fiend put it at more than a match for the Senshi.

"I'm certain that if we corner it, one good blow should kill it," Mercury stated after a short pause of study.

Moon nodded. "Not much power, but lots of speed? Oh no, look!"

The imp had found itself in exactly the situation that Mercury had specified, in a corner of a building with the four Senshi blocking its exit. As the Sailors powered up their attacks, the daemon jumped onto the wall behind it and clamored up with the same speed that it showed on the ground.

The Senshi looked stricken. Although they were not tired, they had yet to destroy the imp.

Sailor Moon called her Senshi in, and as they flowed around her, they could see the daemon perch on top of a roof, waiting for their move.

"It's as if it just wants us to use our attacks on it," Uranus grouched.

"Maybe it wants to study us, right?" Venus said sarcastically. "Think here! It's a daemon!"

"I'm not so sure it couldn't," Mars said quietly. The Senshi attention was instantly on her. Mars looked around at the others. "Grandfather hasn't really gone into daemons besides exorcising them, but he said something about levels of daemonkind and how some are more powerful or intelligent than others."

"And this one certainly shows some intelligence, at the very least," Mercury pointed out. "We need to surround it, and hit it from all sides so it can't dodge."

Sailor Moon agreed. "Okay! Then let's get to it! Try and keep it inside a circle, and catch it in the crossfire."

Uranus, Neptune, Jupiter, Venus, and Mars quickly moved to surround the daemon. Mercury and Saturn kept back to provide cover fire while Sailor Moon prepared one of her greater attacks to destroy the imp.

The daemon looked around at its attackers, waiting for them to make a move. It knew its purpose, and would hold to it.

The battle turned into a stalemate for a few seconds; each party waiting for the other to make the first act. Finally, the imp rocketed straight for Uranus, just as she let fly with a "World Shaking!"

Miraculously, the imp darted around the sonic bomb, leaving Venus to catch it on the other side of the circle. Uranus did not even have time to raise the Space Sword in her hand before the daemon quite literally ran over her. The Senshi barely had time to turn and look at where the imp was headed before it suddenly slipped as if on ice and crashed into a wall it had obviously been intending to run up. Before it could gain its feet, Jupiter and Neptune were on it, pinning it to the ground.

Without questioning the slip, Sailor Moon raised her scepter and posed. "For ruining a beautiful shopping day for many people, and disrupting a grand get-together among friends, in the name of the Moon, Moon Healing Escalation!" the bolt of healing energy hit the imp's aura and turned deadly. The daemon, held between the two Sailors, did not even scream as it was turned to dust.

The Senshi quickly vacated the area as the officials arrived to the disrupted district. If Mercury had not been so preoccupied with something else, she might have noticed the slight trace of a teleportation burst, leaving just as they were.

"It slips? It speeds around the shops, runs up walls, leaves us in the dust, and it slips?" Haruka was understandably unhappy.

"The ground was a bit slippery for some reason," offered Michiru.

"It felt like it was icy when I went across it," added Makoto.

The group once again turned its attention to Ami. The Senshi of Ice had been preoccupied when the Sailors had returned to the shrine, as if mulling over a difficult problem at school. When she didn't respond to the assembled gazes, Minako elbowed her gently.

"Huh? What? Did I miss something?"

Ignoring the sighs of resignation from Haruka and Makoto, Usagi explained to her their question. "Makoto and Michiru said that the ground was a bit icy when they went across where the daemon slipped. Did you do anything to it? I mean, we didn't hear you call out any attack mantra so we're not exactly sure what happened."

Ami took a deep breath, then let it out slowly. "I… I think that I did do something, but I'm not sure what." This drew the attention of the Senshi again. Usagi gestured for her oldest friend to continue. "Well, I mean, I wanted it to stay in one place, and when I saw that it would dodge Haruka's blast I could see that if there was just a bit of ice behind her, the imp wouldn't have time to notice it before it went over it and would fall. I just knew I could make just a little bit of ice, just there. And… I did."

The Sailors sat, awed that perhaps, just perhaps, there was more to their powers than careful gestures and shouted focusing mantras.

The imp bowed low, though it could not see what it was bowing to.

"So the Senshi are on Earth, and humanity is limited to that planet as well? But you did not find Pluto." The voice echoed in the dark chamber, speaking in a tongue not known to humankind. The imp nodded, hissing out in its guttural language the details of its partner's demise. The voice boomed out again, "You have done well. Go to the Pits and find a new partner. Do well in training it, and you will be rewarded by another mission."

The imp bowed lower, and scampered out of the hall.

There was a pause, as the beings left in the chamber pondered the information they had received.

"It is quite obvious," hissed a low voice in the Abyssal tongue, "that they are untrained in their powers. Now is the time to strike! Obliterate them, and that world will be ours! Food enough for a thousand of our children!"

"You forget," growled a brassy voice, "that they did not find Sailor Pluto. She is our main enemy. She still remembers us and what we are. We cannot risk her taking steps against us."

The low voice began to protest, when the first voice echoed out again. "You both have your points. We cannot let Sailor Pluto gain knowledge that we have a different opening into their cosmos. As well, it appears that the Senshi are learning to broaden their powers on their own."

"Fool, if we could but open the Gate—!"

There was the sound of flesh striking flesh, then silence.

"Listen, and listen well, brother," said the echoing voice. "If the least of our kind takes but one step out of the Gate, it will bring down the fury of the Sailor Senshi like nothing else. Why do you think we send those among the weakest of us through a portal that can barely be seen? Until Pluto is dead, we cannot use the Gates of Time to enter their world."

In the end, they could not but agree with him.


To be continued.

Chapter 2
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