Sailor Moon Fan Fiction ❯ The Seneschal ❯ Ancient Treachery ( Chapter 4 )
Author's Note: Just a quick note on the time and day references. The seven days of the week originally evolved from older names. Since this is supposed to be prehistory, I used some of those older names. For example, Monday would be Moon's Day, or Day of the Moon. Sunday would be Day of the Sun or Sun's Day. The rest of the weekdays historically tied into the planets. Saturday would be Saturn's Day. Tuesday was originally Dies Martis or Day of Mars in Latin. And so on and so forth.
At any rate, if you've read this far, I'm clearly doing something right :-) This chapter is still a little rough, and I may touch up the other chapters over the course of time. But please read on and enjoy. And special thanks to those who reviewed me!
The Mars Palace, 7000 FLP (Founding of Lunar Prime), 745th year of Queen Serenity XIV, 20224 BCE
"If you do not mind, your Highness," Yumiko said, "The princess will be taking her meal this evening in her quarters."
King Mars looked disdainfully down his nose at the woman in black that stood before the Red Throne.
"We haven't seen our Royal cousin in a few days," Mars remarked, "If she is not physically unwell, we would like to dine with her this evening."
"Indeed, your Highness," Yumiko replied with a polite bow. Her empty cold eyes never left the king's face. "But she has been feeling under the weather. With news of the Queen's illness, she has been feeling sick with worry."
Mars steepled his fingers together to hide a small grimace. "Very well then, Seneschal. We shall have your meals delivered to your quarters again."
"Thank you once again for your divine understanding, your Highness." Yumiko straightened up slightly, "If I may ask one more thing, Highness, what is the status of the princess' Royal transport?"
"Our chief engineer tells us that he may need to replace the primary thrusters. Their control units appear to be burnt out. It may be a few more weeks."
"I see," Yumiko replied, "Thank you for your efforts. May I take my leave now, Highness? I wish to return to the princess' side."
"You have our leave, Seneschal. Please give our Royal cousin our warmest regards in this stressful time."
With another bow, the Seneschal of the Moon turned and left the throne room. Mars watched her as she departed.
She's a dangerous one.
He clenched his fist tightly.
I will not let you interfere with my plans! The Silver Crystal and the Royal Throne will be mine!
Mars stood up and pressed a button on the arm of the Red Throne.
The princess must eat sooner or later, but if she does not...
The Martian Guards pretended not to see the tall red-clad figure that entered the throne room.
The man walked with the assured gait of a master T'kue-Chi warrior. His very presence instilled fear. T'kue-Chi was the Martian fighting art. It was known across the galaxy as being difficult to master, but impossible to guard against. Masters of this martial art could flow like water when they attacked and their speed was blinding. A mere flick of their toe from the end of a kick could disembowel and maim even the most prepared fighters. Every part of a T'kue-Chi Master's body was dangerous. They were living weapons. The secret of their abilities was closely guarded.
"What do you make of this Royal Seneschal, Samir?" Mars asked.
The T'kue-Chi Master nodded thoughtfully. "She definately has some fighting skill. She moves like one prepared. But it would be a shame."
"What would be a shame?"
Samir smiled, his golden eyes glittering. "It would be over too quickly. I understand the princess, Your Highness, but I would like to keep this woman for a little while... for my own amusement."
"You can do what you want with her," Mars said, "Provided the princess is dead by then." He sighed and rubbed his eyes. "At any rate, be prepared. I suspect the Queen doesn't have much time left."
"Understood, Highness," Samir replied, "I will be the first one to the princess' apartments to express my condolences."
Yumiko closed and locked the heavy steel door behind the servants after they delivered their meal. At least what they laughingly called a 'meal'. Yumiko could see the blackness of death on the food like an extra seasoning.
Their assigned chambers were small, consisting of only two rooms and a bathroom. Hardly befitting of a Royal heir to the Crystal Throne. But then again, Yumiko already knew what the traitorous king of Mars truly thought of his 'Royal cousin'.
Yumiko turned to look at her charge. At fourteen standard years of age, the Princess was blossoming into a beautiful young woman. Her long platinum white hair was pulled into a pair of pigtails that hung down almost to the floor. The tops of each pigtail was an elaborate bun. Yumiko sometimes would tease her and call her 'rabbit' because of the shape of her hair. But it was a style that suited the princess and enhanced her already innate beauty.
However now the Princess Selene was pale and drawn. Her eyes were constantly filled with worry, but her face was still strong and determined.
"Any news of my mother?" Selene asked.
Yumiko couldn't help the swell of pride that briefly skittered across her heart. The worry and fear in Selene's eyes had almost nothing to do with her present circumstances.
The girl feared for her mother. And she wanted desperately to go home to be by her side.
Yumiko shook her head. "Nothing yet, Selene. Let us sit and have our meal and we can discuss it."
She started to pick up plates from the cart and scrape their contents into the nearby garbage chute. Selene quietly assisted.
"The chef has outdone himself this evening," Selene said as the last plate was returned to the cart empty, "it was especially delicious."
"Indeed it was," Yumiko replied. She moved the cart to the wall next to the entrance door. "I think it is time for you to bathe now, Selene."
Yumiko led Selene into the small bathroom and closed the door behind them. She pulled the drain open and started the bathwater running. Then she turned to the princess who had sat down on the floor. She reached into a small pouch under her shirt and removed a pair of white pills.
"Here," Yumiko said, handing a pill to Selene. The girl quickly swallowed the nutrient pill. Yumiko did the same with her own.
"What was the outcome of your meeting?" Selene asked in a low voice.
"Our transport is out of the picture," Yumiko replied quietly, "Mars told me that his chief engineer was replacing the primary thrusters. We're going to have to find another way out of here."
Selene nodded. "See what inquiries you can make with the local Shipping Guild. Mars can't shut down all interplanetary travel. There's bound to be some cargo headed for Lunar Prime."
Yumiko felt another surge of pride. The girl already sounded like a Queen.
"There's one more thing," Yumiko began, "If what we suspect is true, that this was an assassination attempt on the Queen, and she dies..."
Selene looked saddened, but her sapphire blue eyes now shone with an almost Royal fire.
"I know," Selene said, "Mars is next in line after me for the Crystal Throne. He will kill us and make it look like an accident."
"I will not let that happen, Selene," Yumiko said. Her eyes flashed. "You will make it back to Lunar Prime, one way or another."
And I will present you with the heads of Mars and his family if need be.
"My ship leaves at exactly twelve standard on Moon's Day," the shipping captain's holographic simulcrum said, "Can you make it by then?"
"We will be there, Captain Rourke," Yumiko replied, "Were you able to relay that message back to Lunar Prime?"
"I have word that it was received and acknowledged by a Miste Avaram."
"Was there a reply?"
"Yes," Rourke responded, "She said 'The stars are circled about Sagittarius Zero. None of them reborn.' Does that mean anything to you?"
Yumiko paused for a moment before answering.
"Yes it does, captain. Thank you. I will personally see to it that you are richly rewarded upon our return to Lunar Prime."
"Don't worry about it," the captain replied, his eyes serious, "the Queen once saved our families from total bankruptcy. The House of the Moon will always have the loyalty of the Shipping Guild. I will see you on Moon's Day."
Yumiko nodded, then closed her Moon computer. She looked up at Selene who sat on the bathroom floor across from her.
"I think king Mars is going to believe I take too many baths," Selene said with a small smile.
Yumiko didn't answer.
It's worse than I thought. Mars is already positioned for a coup. Bless Avaram for being able to tell me at least THAT much.
Yumiko felt uneasy. In her mind's eye she could see a great light off in the distance slowly fading like a dying sunset. The Queen was dying and Yumiko knew it would be soon. And when she did, Mars would move in with his co-conspirators and take over the Crystal Throne. He would become king of the Sol System.
Presuming that Mars eliminated the Princess Selene.
The Great Council was a conglomeration of planetary representatives. Easy enough in theory, but when you have nine planets that didn't trust each other and had once been at war, trying to settle differences in a Council setting became a complex game of politics. The current Queen had done well by playing one Planetary House against the other, maintaining a delicate but workable balance. However without the Queen at the helm, the Council was probably close to breaking down. Factions had begun to form as each house jockeyed for more power.
Earth had been demanding their own representation at the Great Council, and the current Queen had been planning on allowing it. The other eight planets were against it, calling Earth technologically backward. This probably was what led up to the poisoning of the Queen. The fact that poison had even gotten past the Royal detection devices meant that infiltration of the Moon Palace had been building up for a long time. Perhaps long before Yumiko had even arrived in this system. Mars clearly had been busy.
It was imperative that Selene make it back and be crowned Queen if the current Queen dies. If Mars assumed power, it could mean interplanetary civil war.
Yumiko glanced at the wall mounted chronometer. It was only Saturn's Day. That still left Sun's Day to wait until Moon's Day rolled around.
"Yumi," the princess began. Yumiko refocused her attention back onto Selene.
"That message," Selene said, "'The stars are circled about Sagittarius Zero. None of them reborn.' It means my mother is surrounded by enemies, doesn't it?"
"It means we need to get you back to Lunar Prime as soon as possible."
Yumiko paused for a moment, collecting her thoughts.
"I have an idea, Selene," Yumiko finally said, "If it works, you'll be on your way to Lunar Prime in two days."
"You sound like you don't mean to come with me, Yumi," Selene said softly.
"I will come afterward. Don't worry, I mean to catch up with you."
Yumiko reached into her hidden pocket and pulled out an ornate fountain pen with a red ruby jewel at the top.
"A pen?" Selene asked.
"This is a very special pen," Yumiko said, "I've had this pen for a very long time..."
Two days later, Queen Serenity the Fourteenth died.
Yumiko sat in the empty quarters in thought. Everything now depended on Captain Rourke and the Shipping Guild.
A banging on the steel door interrupted her thoughts.
The four Martian Guards bowed to the king after escorting the Seneschal of the Moon to the Royal throneroom.
"The Queen is dead," Mars remarked. Beside him stood Samir, dressed in his customary red cloak. Samir's golden eyes were focused on Yumiko with both disdain and desire. "We wished to tell our Royal cousin ourselves, but she doesn't seem to be in her quarters."
"I am saddened to hear of the Queen's death," Yumiko said, "Rest assured, Princess Selene will make an excellent queen."
All traces of good humor vanished from Mars' face.
"Where is the princess?"
The Moon Seneschal's face remained blank.
"For her security, I cannot tell you that."
Mars hammered his fist on the arm of his throne.
"Enough of these games, Seneschal," Mars said, "A message has already been broadcast across the Sol System and I have people waiting at Lunar Prime for me to arrive for my coronation. The rest of the system now believes that Princess Selene is dead as well."
Yumiko arched an elegant eyebrow. Mars had dropped all royal pretense and was now being more direct.
He's nervous. she thought.
"So you've always intended a coup?"
"It's not a coup when you are next in line for the throne, now where is the princess?" Mars demanded again, raising his voice.
The brown haired Seneschal just stood with her arms at her sides staring at him.
"I grow weary of asking," Mars said, "My men are already tearing the Mars Castle apart. It's only a matter of time before we find her."
He attempted to smile winningly at Yumiko. "Please, you are such an attractive woman, I would hate to have you get hurt. There may even be a place for you in my new regime."
"How gallant of you to offer," Yumiko said in a dry voice, "Do you happen to have the time?"
Mars blinked, taken off guard. Then he glanced at his wrist chronometer.
"It is five minutes past the thirteenth standard hour."
"Excellent. Then my princess will be home soon."
Mars' mouth dropped open. "Impossible!" He turned to glare at Samir. "You have the Martian Guard watching every egress out of the Port of Mars, right??"
"Of course, your Highness," Samir said smoothly, "She's just trying to bluff us, that is all."
He started to remove his cloak as he descended the stairs down from the Red Throne.
"Now, my dear," Samir said with a grin, "I'm afraid that I must punish you for lying."
Yumiko shrugged nonchalantly. "It would appear that you people only hear what you want to. So I will counter your question with one of my own. You can decide if you wish to answer or not."
Samir and Mars glanced at each other for a moment. Then Mars glared at the Moon Seneschal.
"You are in no position to be asking anything!"
"Indeed," Yumiko answered. She stripped off her black shirt leaving her black tank on beneath. Black feathers seemed to be tattooed around her shoulders giving the impression of wing tips. She took off her black gloves.
"My question is this: Do you know why the former queen never sent many guards with Selene when I was with her?"
Yumiko stood before the two men in a deceptively mild stance.
"Because I am all she needs," Yumiko answered her own question.
Mars began to get nervous. "Even if it's true that she's on her way back to Lunar Prime, my own people are in control there! What do you think is going to happen when she arrives?"
"That, my king, is something we are going to straighten out before her arrival."
The brown haired Seneschal's eyes made Mars' stomach churn in fear. The surrounding Martian Guard stood with their weapons drawn and ready. Mars turned to Samir.
"Kill her now!"
Samir's body flowed forward, a killing blow already in motion. It was a shame, really. He had wanted to play with this pretty girl.
Samir blinked in surprise when he felt pressure on his wrist. His body angled downwards and his extended hand buried itself into the red stone floor. The pressure on his wrist stayed and he quicly identified the fingers of the Moon Seneschal as the cause. He shifted his weight forward and blurred his body in a brief handstand, pulling his wrist from her grasp. His foot flickered out towards her forehead but she merely moved her head to the side, avoiding the kick. He backed off and circled her. She continued to regard him with her empty cold brown eyes.
"Your style is readily apparent," Yumiko said. She twisted sideways avoiding another sudden attack, and then she redirected the force of another lightning-like blow with a finger. "T'kue-Chi, right?"
Samir glared at the girl as he circled. She dodged his hits like he was a slow moving first-year in the art!
"The thing about Martian T'kue-Chi," Yumiko went on, "Is that it is an incomplete art."
Samir's arms became indistinct blurs as he suddenly hammered one hundred punches per second at every vital point on the Seneschal's body. He flowed his body backwards, expecting to see the girl crippled and broken upon the floor.
Yumiko still stood there as if nothing had happened. Samir's fist hurt, which seemed impossible. He could punch through solid steel with no pain, yet his fists suddenly hurt like they had been slapped around with a heavy brick. Samir began to feel anxious. Had she blocked those punches?
"Your Martian arts are incomplete because they lack a very important discipline," Yumiko continued, still looking nonchalant.
"We have been practicing T'kue-Chi for a thousand years," Samir muttered, "what do you think we are missing?"
Yumiko held up one open hand.
"T'kue-Chi, the energy of the universe. You bend and manipulate the chi around you."
The light around Yumiko seemed to dim and the air began to hum.
"Martian T'kue-Chi only teaches this first discipline, and you use it to augment your speed and strength. This is its failing."
Samir attacked again with a blinding forward flip bringing his leg down in a devastating axe kick. Instead of feeling the splintering of bone from his target however, he felt something more akin to a gale force wind that blew him backwards and slammed him into the far wall.
"The other discipline is Nao-Ki, the energy of life," Yumiko said, holding up her other hand, "This teaches you to tap into the ki of your own body. This is what the Martian fighting arts lack."
She stood with her hands outstretched.
"Together, they are Nao-Ki T'kue-Chi. The complete discipline. I know this because the art form originated from the Andromeda system. Do you know what it means to master both Nao-Ki and T'kue-Chi?"
Samir turned pale. Andromeda system?? The solar system destroyed by the Mad Senshi??
There was nothing but death in the Moon Seneschal's eyes.
"No..." he whispered.
"You achieve balance both externally and internally," Yumiko answered, "In essence, you enter into total harmony with your environment. This is how I am going to move through this floating palace like the wind killing every person that gets in my way."
Abruptly, her fists dropped, and the Seneschal moved. Her speed was so fast, Samir barely caught an afterimage of her body before his head left his shoulders, the flesh cleanly severed from the speed of her open-handed strike.
The Martian Guard attacked at Mars' panicked shriek. It was like feeding wheat into a thresher.
Yumiko moved through the Guard ranks at nearly invisible speeds. Bodies flew. Men screamed. Blood pooled in camouflaged puddles on the red stone floor.
Mars stood in front of his throne. In his hand was the mighty Sword of Mars. Its red blade crackled with glowing red energy.
"I will be king of this system!" Mars screamed, "By this sword I will be king! The power of the Silver Crystal will be MINE!"
Yumiko regarded him from the bodies that were piled around her.
Mars leaped from the dais, swinging the Red Sword down.
Captain Rourke clenched the armrest of his chair with a nervous intensity. Lunar Prime's orbiting space port loomed in the distance. He glanced at the pilot.
"Do we have docking clearance yet?"
The pilot looked at his holographic display.
"No sir, nothing yet."
"Dammit," Rourke muttered, "do they know? Do they intend to attack us?"
"Patience, captain," another crewmember said, "you must have faith in the Guild's power here. Nobody would risk a trade embargo from the Shipping Guild."
The young crewman removed a pen from his pocket. Almost instantly, his height lessened and his face and body took on feminine curves. His hair fell down in two great sweeping pig-tails of silver white hair.
"Now we must send a message to them," Princess Selene said calmly.
The pilot flipped open a communications channel. "Go ahead, your Highness."
Selene nodded, then began to speak.
"Attention Lunar Prime, this is the Princess Selene Mare Serenitatis aboard the registered shipping vessel Gladius. I have transferred my royal flag to this ship. Please arrange for a docking port and a security detail at once."
Three Martian war cruisers suddenly appeared from the far side of the moon, zooming in on their location.
"Attention Gladius," a voice rang out from the comm, "please stand down and prepare to be boarded."
Six other shipping vessels converged around the Gladius forming a phalanx.
"This is Captain Yavid Rourke of the Gladius," Rourke said into the comm, "The Princess Selene has the countenance of the Shipping Guild. Any attempt to board us will be considered a direct violation of the Shipping and Trading Act. We will enact an immediate trade embargo and we will return fire if attacked."
Rourke glanced up at Selene. The young girl looked calm and serious, but her blue eyes burned.
Several tense minutes passed. There was no response from the Martian Cruisers. Suddenly, they turned and left.
"Well, that was strange," Rourke remarked.
"Gladius," the comm suddenly voiced, "This is Commander Miste Avaram. Please dock at port twenty-three. There will be a security detail there to escort the Crown Princess to Lunar Prime." There was a pause, then, "Welcome home, your Highness."
There was quiet on the bridge for a few moments, then the pilot let out a dry chuckle.
"You're not gonna believe what is being broadcast over the interplanetary network," the pilot said, looking at his display, "From Mars Castle!"
"Put it up!" Rourke ordered.
A wavering image of Yumiko appeared on the display.
"All Martian vessels are hearby ordered to surrender and dock at the nearest port," Yumiko said, "As of right now, the sovereign planet of Mars is temporarily under Lunar control and his former Highness is under arrest. The charge is treason against the Royal Crown."
The camera image panned down over to the former King Mars. The man was tied securely to the Red Throne and he looked very unhappy.
"Until such time as a complete inquest has been conducted," Yumiko went on, "All Martian travel has been suspended and its citizens grounded."
Everybody on the bridge of the Gladius stared dumbfoundedly at the display. Everybody but one.
"That's my big sister," Selene breathed with a smile.
Arrests were made all across Lunar Prime. Their number even included several Council members. In total, one hundred and eleven conspirators were arrested. Yumiko made a clean sweep through the Moon.
On Mars, things were in utter chaos. Nothing was resolved until the Red Throne was ascended by a second cousin of the former King. A striking woman with long black hair and black eyes. The former king was stripped of his titles and properties and was given a lengthy prison sentence on the much feared prison planet of Phobos.
One month after the death of the former Queen, Crown Princess Selene ascended the Crystal Throne and was crowned Queen Serenity the Fifteenth. She was fourteen standard years old.
"You will make an excellent Queen, your Majesty," Yumiko said with a rare smile. They stood in the Queen's private chambers after the coronation. Selene merely stared at the bluish green marble of the Earth that hung in the lunar sky. The Silver Crystal was clutched in her hands.
"Please don't call me that," Selene murmured, "I'm still Selene."
"I know, Selene," Yumiko said. She quietly approached the new Queen. "It will probably be tough for you to start your reign so young. But I'll always be here for you."
"I didn't get to say goodbye to my mother." Selene held up the Crystal. "I thought I would feel her presence in this. My mother always taught me that when a king or a queen dies, their power enters this Crystal."
Selene shook her head. "This Crystal thrums with the power of countless ancestors. I think that this rock contains enough power to unmake the universe. I sense my mother's aura in this, but I don't sense her soul."
Yumiko gently placed a hand on Selene's shoulder.
"All star seeds ultimately return to the Galaxy Cauldron where they are eventually reborn," she said.
Selene turned to stare up into Yumiko's eyes. "Is that what you really believe?"
"It's what I always hope for," Yumiko answered, "that someday my own seed will have someplace to go. It's what I was taught as Senshi."
Selene was silent for a moment.
"Do you think my mother will be reborn as a star?" she asked.
"Perhaps, who can say?"
"I think she will be," Selene said with a small smile. She gently placed the Silver Crystal down on its pedestal. Then her smile faded. "I promised myself that I would wait until after the coronation. That I would stay strong."
Yumiko cocked her head. "What did you promise?"
Selene wrapped her arms around Yumiko and buried her face in Yumiko's chest.
"Just please... hold me for a little while."
The Queen of the Moon Kingdom, monarch of the Sol System, poured out her grief against the bosom of the Moon Seneschal.
"Always, my little sister," Yumiko murmured as she gently stroked the crying girl's hair, "Always, my queen."