Based on characters and situations created by Naoko Takeuchi. Comments and criticism welcome.
By Angus MacSpon
“So it doesn’t bother you?” asked Usagi.
“Not in the least,” said Setsuna.
Ami only sighed.
The three were walking slowly down a quiet side-street in the middle of town. It was Saturday, nearly eleven at night, and the city was bustling; but the road around them was nearly empty and they could speak without fear of being overheard.
Tonight had been a Girls’ Night Out at a local restaurant, one of the rare ones when all nine of them had made it. Usagi, Makoto and Ami had to deal with baby-sitters these days when they wanted to go out, so it was uncommon for all three to be present at once; Haruka and Michiru were on tour as often as not; and it was rarer still for Setsuna to socialise. But for once, everyone’s schedules had aligned, and they had had a long and enjoyable evening in a private room.
Later, after they had all made their good-byes, Usagi and Ami headed back toward where they had left their cars, and it turned out that Setsuna was going in the same direction. (She did not say where she was going, and the other two did not ask.)
So they continued to chat on their way. After a while, the inevitable subject arose.
“But if Pluto isn’t even a planet…” said Usagi, and paused meaningfully. Her eyes were wide, and far too innocent.
Setsuna gave a tiny, finely-calculated sniff. “As if it matters what a bunch of astronomers say.”
“But they said Pluto is only a dwarf planet—”
“You aren’t going to let this go, are you?” asked Setsuna, irritated. “Come on, Usagi-chan. Size doesn’t matter. Ask any man.”
“Hm.” Usagi’s expression took on a certain hint of satisfaction. “As a matter of fact, Mamo-chan is perfectly—”
“Usagi-chan!” said Ami, reddening, and Usagi chuckled. Even happily married and with a child of her own, Ami retained a certain prudish outlook.
Setsuna shook her head, disdaining the by-play, and went on, “Look, it doesn’t matter what the astronomers call Pluto. It doesn’t matter how big it is. What matters is whether it has a soul.”
“A soul?” asked Ami curiously. Usagi stopped laughing, and simply looked interested.
“Certainly. Haven’t you ever wondered why you always say, ‘On behalf of the planet Mercury’? Each of us draws power, and authority, from our own world’s planetary soul.” She paused, and added thoughtfully, “Not just planets. Even a few of the asteroids have souls. You’ve both met Ceres, Juno, Vesta and Pallas.
“Pluto is no different. It has a soul, and I am its senshi. But those other, far outer worlds…for one reason or another, they never quite managed to wake up. They can never have senshi of their own: poor Eris, Sedna, Makemake and the rest. They are the real dwarf planets.”
They walked in silence for a little. “You sound…sorry for them,” said Usagi curiously.
Setsuna shrugged. “It’s…sobering to think of what might have been. If things had gone a little differently, I might never have become Sailor Pluto.” She gave a wry shrug. “Or, then again, there might have been more of us. Perhaps even a second Moon senshi.”
“A second—” Usagi froze. “What?” Behind her, Ami’s eyes widened, and she started to open her mouth.
“Certainly,” Setsuna said calmly. “After all, it would only be fitting to have a senshi for Earth’s other moon.”
“Indeed. And I’m sure you wouldn’t mind sharing your title with Sailor Cruithne.”
“Sailor who?” Usagi stared at her, aghast.
“Oh, you hadn’t heard? Yes, astronomers discovered Cruithne a few years ago. It’s rather hard to see from Earth, but—”
Usagi rounded on Ami. “Ami-chan!” she said desperately. “It isn’t true, is it? There’s no such thing as Cruithne! There can’t be another Moon Princess!”
“Well…” Ami said, and hesitated. “Cruithne does exist, and it is sometimes called Earth’s second moon. But, Usagi-chan—”
“Waah!” Usagi, not unexpectedly, dissolved in tears. Seeing her car not far ahead, she put on an impressive burst of speed, and soon left the other two behind. Her wailing echoed through the street.
Ami sighed and started to go after her, but then visibly gave up as Usagi reached her car and flung herself inside. Instead, she looked up at Setsuna and said, “She’s going to be quite cross with you when she finds out the truth, you know.”
The older woman smiled faintly, and said, “What, that Cruithne is a tiny ball of rock, only about five kilometres in diameter, that couldn’t possibly have a senshi of its own?”
“It isn’t even a moon, really. It’s an asteroid with an orbit that’s synchronised to Earth’s.”
Setsuna shrugged. “She started it.” They walked on in silence for a few moments, and then she shook her head with a snort. “Dwarf planet, indeed.”
Note: Cruithne is real, and is indeed sometimes called “Earth’s second moon.” It is named after an ancient Celtic people in iron-age Britain, and its name is pronounced, more or less, “Crinya”.