“Were you to look upon Larisa one thousand years ago, you would not recognise her in the woman she’s become; quiet, bookish, good natured and curious. She was a lover of knowledge, brimming with wonder, with her head stuck in the clouds.
“On Themyscira she was an astronomer, often sleeping through the daylight hours and camping in the wilderness, where the light of civilization wouldn’t dull her vision. She, along with a band of sisters, dedicated themselves to recording the heavens, plotting their course across eternity.
“Then, one fateful night, an aberrant body appeared in the sky that Larisa did not anticipate. Her sisters urged her to turn away, sensing evil from the thing, but Larisa was fascinated. Planet X, which was then called Nibiru, had her in its grasp, and the Amazon was forever changed.
“The next night, Larisa abandoned Themyscira for man’s world, never to be heard from again – or so we thought.
“Little did my mother know that a war raged across the ocean, and that the sister we once celebrated made an enemy in the Moon Kingdom of old. Under the influence of Nibiru, she became the antithesis of Queen Serenity; and where the queen had the Legendary Silver Crystal at her command, so too did Larisa have a gem of her own – the ‘Onyx Prism’.
“Her power was like nothing the world had seen before – more wild than the beasts of the forest, lashing across continents without discrimination, with no greater reason than the destruction it wrought. No amount of healing light could halt her reign of terror, for under the shadow of Nibiru she could redirect Serenity’s power as darkness in equal measure.
“It was with that power that she made her final transformation, ascending as a champion of chaos under the name ‘Sailor X’.
“When she learned of the plight besetting the Moon Kingdom, my mother, the Amazon Queen Hippolyta, felt a deep responsibility for the actions of her sister. For this, she chose to temporarily suspend her seclusion, along with that of our people, to aid in this terrible battle.
“Thus, on the steps of the Moon Palace, a bond between two people was forged; and though largely forgotten, still thrives to the present day.
“No longer needing the power of the Legendary Silver Crystal, and with the might of the Amazons at her back, Queen Serenity waged a successful campaign against Sailor X. In the waning days of Nibiru’s orbit, the former Larisa fell. The Moon Kingdom and the Amazons were victorious.
“Alas, it was not the end.
“Though she breathed no more, Larisa’s voice carried through the air on her way to the underworld; Planet X would return, and her spirit would be revitalized. Armageddon at her hand, she said, was inevitable.
“The Amazons have long watched over the gates to Tarturus, and doubled our guard in anticipation of Planet X’s return. But it was not enough. Larisa is free, and with the Onyx Prism in her grasp, she can channel the power of the Legendary Silver Crystal into darkness.
“And that is why, Sailor Moon, given your bond with the Legendary Silver Crystal, I cannot allow you to face her.”
Usagi stood, silent, weighing the hollowness in her chest. The list of her mother’s enemies, and in turn her enemies, seemed without end. How could there be so much darkness in the world – so much suffering? It was more than she could bear to think about.
The others, too, said nothing. What could they say? More than any single foe, they faced an entire planet! One with a power equal to the Legendary Silver Crystal. It’s scale was beyond fathom.
And then there was Larisa.
Usagi recalled her face before the rage ignited. Somewhere, long ago, there was a person, like Diana said. Now there was a husk. She hadn’t changed from a studious, good natured young woman; those things were taken from her. She was a victim, perhaps lost forever.
She balled her fists. It wasn’t fair! Usagi turned to hide her sobs, but all could hear.
Nobody said anything.
Diana softened her stance. Though she was not as quick to tears, she too had mourned the loss of a sister, even one who existed before her time. Perhaps to her it was only a story, and Larisa a stranger, but the tragedy was no less because of it.
She inched toward Usagi, but thought better of it. Her place was not to give comfort. That was what her friends were for. The burden she’d placed was already too much.
Luna broke the silence. “Larisa will come for Usagi,” she said.
“And we’ll be there to defend her,” Jupiter snapped.
The sentiment sparked warmth in Usagi. Mako was ever loyal, until the bitter end. In the face of adversity, her feet were planted the deepest. Push hard, and she would push back harder.
Venus took Usagi’s hand. “When your enemies are close, keep your friends closer!”
“That’s not how the saying goes,” Mars muttered.
Why did Mina always get her proverbs wrong? Was she doing it on purpose? They could never tell, and when they asked the girl would act oblivious.
Lieutenant Candy shrugged. “I kind of like it.”
Wonder Woman lifted the young girl’s chin. Her expression was fraught with a tension Usagi could not identify, but she no less radiated the warmth of a goddess because of it.
“I know a place we can go,” Diana said, “to keep you safe.”
Safe. Where could be safer than by the Amazon’s side?
Usagi exhaled. Her head was spinning. Wherever Wonder Woman went, she would gladly follow. Thoughts of Larisa faded for the moment. Even with that strange feeling between them, Usagi soared like she did the first time she laid eyes on her.
“I want to come too!”
Usagi groaned. Of course Chibi-Usa wanted to tag along, just as she was getting close to Wonder Woman! That was the price of having a little sister, she supposed; nothing was ever just hers anymore. No, she had to ‘share’, and to be ‘understanding’, because the pink-haired brat was ‘just a kid’.
“Chibi-Usa,” she pressed, forcing a chirp in her tone. “Why don’t you stay with Mamoru for a while? He can watch over you while I’m gone!”
The little girl bounced. “Mamoru can come too!”
“I’m sorry, little one, but I’m afraid that’s impossible.” Wonder Woman patted the girl’s head to ease the sudden confusion. “No man is permitted to set foot where we’re going – not even one held in high esteem.”
Chibi-Usa frowned. The Sailor Guardians, however, lit up like it was Christmas morning.
Colonel Trevor chuckled. “Would you get a load of that? They’re acting like they scored theme park tickets.”
“Of course they’re excited,” Wonder Woman smirked.
Bubbles of excitement raced to a collective squeal, filling the control room. The Sailor Guardians were going to Paradise Island!
Even from her perch on Tokyo Tower, the air was awash with human stink. Lady Chimera had once, under a different name, wearing cursed flesh, set out to isolate herself from these wretched creatures; but wherever she went they would follow, dirtying the soil beneath their feet.
Larisa, meanwhile, stared beyond the city, vacant, like a doll. What a strange new world she’d returned to, and yet in it she found no admiration, no awe. She might have, if not for the dearth carved in her heart.
She said nothing at first, but regarded her bestial companion in a matter of fact manner.
“Who are you?” she asked, flatly.
Lady Chimera bowed her head. “I’m an ally to your cause, if you’ll have me.”
Larisa did not stir. “Cause? I… I have no cause. Only function.”
Why, then, did she speak? She had no desire for questions or answers. Her coming to this place was equally a mystery, as it held nothing that could satisfy her. There was no urge to be satisfied, period.
Larisa had knowledge of all manner of things, but her mind was made up of still waters. The contents of her heart, her personhood, were more defined by what she lacked than what she was.
And yet, mere hours ago, she was a burning torch of hate. What had changed? Her head turned vaguely in the direction of the sky.
Planet X. Its eye lingered, but did not rest on her.
“I,” Larisa explained, “am a mere vessel for Nibiru. When it needs me, my body will answer.”
Her body and nothing else.
Lady Chimera marked the steel ledge with the same ease most would paper. She snarled, and lowered herself as though ready to pounce. There would be no rest in a place so awful.
“Then I come as an ally to your master,” she said.
“To what end?”
“Planet X is chaos,” said the beast. “It is destruction! Indiscriminate!”
Larisa nodded without stirring.
“This planet is rotten,” she continued, “and lousy with the blight called humanity. They make me sick, every last one of them! And their conceit that there is goodness, kindness… while everything burns! They burn their own homes, and the homes of everyone around. For that they deserve to-”
“Planet X will bring such an end,” Larisa said, “but not for your sake.” Not for anyone’s sake, she didn’t say.
A lifetime ago the words would have troubled her. Somewhere, deep down, was the faded echo of a flash of a forgotten dream wherein, perhaps, she felt sentiment for home. Love, even? But such notions were far from the present.
The monster grinned, flashing every glistening tooth in her maw. “What does it matter? The result is the same. Your master and I serve the same goal.”
What a strange thing to call it, this entity in Nibiru, as though it had will or design. In truth it was so much more than that – primordial, elemental. Even then Larisa was aware of it hanging in the sky, drawing her in, saturating every cell in her body. To compare it to a man made it sound so small, so escapable.
Then again such thoughts were typical for a once-human animal. How could she ever grasp the terror of beyond?
The celestial body turned, casting its eye on Larisa. She gasped, overcome by the supernatural wave pouring into her. She arched back, snapping her limbs out of their lazy stupor, and squeezed the cursed stone ‘gifted’ her by the planet.
The Onyx Prism, antithesis of the Legendary Silver Crystal, was a sink where the other was a font, and prickled with invisible teeth in the former Amazon’s hand. It demanded to feed.
Larisa took the jewel and smashed it against the beam of the tower. When it didn’t shatter she struck a second time, then a third, then a fourth; again and again, for ends even she didn’t grasp.
“What a sight,” Lady Chimera mused.
Larisa was unrelenting, a slave to Nibiru’s demands; so why destroy their most powerful weapon?
She stopped when a chip broke free and fell to the grate. The witch blinked. One moment she was wild, and the next completely still.
Lady Chimera leaned toward the shard with interest. “So, why’d you do that?”
Larisa said nothing. She didn’t have to. For without prompting the shard stood on end and crystalised into a new shape; long and spiralling, with cascading scales running down the length of its body.
What manner of creature…? No matter. It was crafted for destruction, and that was enough to inspire a flashing, toothy grin. This was what Lady Chimera had been seeking; this was the power she craved!
A black, snake-like dragon whose scales did not reflect light twisted into the sky and shot like a dart into the horizon. Gods help those who came into its path.
There are those who believe Wonder Woman’s invisible jet to be an urban myth. Not Usagi. Just because you couldn’t see something – which she supposed in this case was the point – didn’t negate its existence.
She squealed, kicking her feet, beside herself with delight. “We’re flying in the invisible jet! This is really happening!”
Ami tittered, Mina giggled without shame, but Rei sighed. “Usagi, you really should restrain yourself. You’re in the company of royalty.”
Did she really have to? Rei was so proper, so polite, and always to a fault. Not that she was wrong to be that way, but Usagi couldn’t be the same if she tried.
“But… but… Wonder Woman’s jet!” she whined. “Aren’t you excited?”
“It is pretty cool,” Mako agreed with a blush.
Chibi-Usa, however, folded her little arms and huffed into the ball that was Luna-P. “You’re embarrassing yourself,” said the girl. “A princess is supposed to carry herself with grace and dignity!”
“Who asked you?” Usagi huffed.
There were times even Usagi forgot that her future-daughter-turned-younger-sister had lived more years than most; no doubt because she was always acting out, being a know-it-all, demanding attention. Maybe that’s why Chibi-Usa never seemed to grow, because she never acted her age!
Wonder Woman turned slightly, catching the girls from the corner of her eye. All noticed. How could they avoid the movements of such a prominent figure? She turned away, hoping they hadn’t seen too much.
The girls huddled together. Was something wrong? If there was, Diana would tell them, surely. Then again, even a warrior of truth was allowed private feelings.
Ami clasped her hands together. “I’m sorry, Wonder Woman. I hope we haven’t offended you.”
Diana shook her head. “No, not at all. Quite the contrary, in fact.”
“How do you mean?” asked Mina.
The amazon smiled a gentle smile, though there was no mistaking a hint of melancholy in her tone. She forced a chuckle. “You remind me of my friends,” she said, “when my mother said I’d be meeting the Sailor Guardians.”
A confused hush fell over the group.
“That can’t be right,” Rei said.
“You,” Ami continued, “a fan of us?”
“It’s supposed to be the other way around!” Mako said.
Mina lifted her chin to preen like a peacock. “Well, can you blame them? When it comes to the Sailor Guardians, you can absolutely judge a book by its color!”
Of course Mina would revel in the idol status, but the rest of the Sailor Guardians? They were urban myths, most talked about in whispers between women and girls. To think that they were admired by warriors of legend, by amazons, was beyond belief!
Wonder Woman, perhaps for the first time during their encounter, cast her cares away. What remarkable girls they’d turned out to be. If only they knew.
The sunlight gleamed through the translucent canopy as the jet arced toward a tropical island. Usagi and the others pressed against the window, marvelling at the green jewel in the crystal clear sea.
Usagi gasped. “Is that-”
“Themyscira,” Wonder Woman said, “home of the Amazons.”
The closer they were, the grander the island became. Themyscira from above was a snapshot of a bygone era, with statues and pristine temples, winding stairs and aqueducts, and flames burning at the top of pillars. And then there were the people; all women, not wearing the pristine white robes they imagined, but garbs of all colors, with feathers and flowers in their hair, and dazzling jewellery to match.
Usagi brimmed, wide eyed with excitement. Few outsiders ever laid eyes upon these shores, let alone set foot there! And she was one of them. She, and her dearest friends. It truly was a paradise, and one that promised to stay with them for all their days.
“It’s like something out of a history book,” Ami gasped.
“Why would you ever want to leave this place?” Rei wondered aloud.
Chibi-Usa frowned and tilted her head. “Why are there no kids running around?”
Wonder Woman, despite the collective wince of the girls, did not take offense.
“The Amazons are an immortal race,” she said. “I was the first child to live among them for thousands of years.”
Chibi-Usa frowned. “So you had no other kids to play with?”
“That’s enough questions for now,” Usagi said, laughing awkwardly.
“It’s quite alright,” Diana said. “I was fortunate to have countless sisters to guide me. I was never wanting for love, guidance, comfort or companionship.” Her smile softened under the weight of melancholy. “But I would be dishonest if I told you that I never wished for a friend my own age. You girls are lucky to have each other.”
A collective hush fell over the group. They’d heard the story of Wonder Woman a thousand times; about the Amazon queen sculpting a daughter from clay, and that daughter given life by goddesses from Olympus; of a girl raised without restrictions placed on her sex, who though a contest of skill and strength won the right of ambassadorship to the outside world.
It was but one of the countless tales that enshrined Diana as a modern day legend, but never had they thought about what it must be like for her; that despite being born into paradise, there might yet be much that the hero lacked. To have a girlhood without friends was a bitter fruit they’d all tasted.
Usagi shook away her tears before they had the chance to fall. She beamed, with all the love in her heart.
“Diana,” she said, “I know you’re not a girl anymore, but… would you like to be our friend?”
Friend; not just an ally, but a companion to share hearts.
The amazon brimmed with warmth, released one hand from the control stick, and intertwined her fingers between Usagi’s. Did she deserve this honor, all things considered? She accepted in spite of herself.
“I would like that very much,” she said. “Thank you, Usagi. Thank you, everyone.”
Cheering erupted through the jet as they descended toward the island. Despite their struggle, it was a time for celebration.