"I've never bothered with the affairs of the universe."
Not before, anyway.
That was all I had to say to the panel of well-dressed, black-robed men and women. I tried my best not to fidget with the manacles holding my wrists tight together. The prison-issue shirt did very little to warm my arms in the drafty courtroom, and I suppose I looked very guilty standing there; playing with my 'cuffs, shivering, staring at my feet.
The distinguished-looking woman at the center of the panel gave a disgusted noise and leaned forward in her chair.
"Young lady," she said in a withered voice. "It is obvious to this court that you have no idea of the ramifications of your crimes against both the royal house of Venus and the Kingdom of the Moon. It is just as obvious by your lack of remorse that you care nothing of the royal view of your homeworld of Terra."
I wanted to shout at her then, but the voices told me to be silent. After all, what the royalty thought of my home or my actions really didn't matter anymore. I remained silent and cold, allowing the desires to tear out the Matriarch's eyes fade.
"It is the judgment of this court that Miss Vashtari be executed without delay for the murder of the Aphrodian Princess Shajai," the matriarch stated with more than a little bitterness in her voice.
"Unfortunately, Madame Matriarch," came a voice behind me, lilting with a soft Lunari accent. The grey and white robed representative bowed at the waist as he stood. "As you said yourself, Miss Vashtari's crimes were committed on Lunar soil, and the justice department of the Moon desires her execution to take place there."
"But that would delay her punishment by more than a spatial month, Mr. Arit," the matriarch said, removing her spectacles from her bright blue eyes. "The people of Venus will not stand for it."
"Madame Matriarch," the Lunari said again. "The ruling powers of the Moon understand the Aphrodian princess's importance. But Miss Vashtari's crimes were committed on royal Lunar ground, and therefore jurisdiction goes to the Lunari ruling class."
The Matriarch was not happy, I noticed. Aphrodians were beautiful when they were angry, and the matriarch, for all her age, was stunning as she glared at the Lunari delegate. "Mr. Arit," she nearly spat. "A member of the royal house of Venus has been brutally murdered. The Kingdom of the Moon will have to understand that if they expect to continue an alliance with Venus."
Venus and the Moon did not get along well. Even before I came into the picture their diplomacy was wearing thin. Especially since Mercury's new trade routes to the Moon through Aphrodian airspace caused feathers to be ruffled. The voices were right, if I sat tight and waited I would have plenty of time to save myself before the courts decided who would kill me.
"Madame Matriarch," the Lunari began, his grey eyes glinting a bit as he played his ace. "It is the will of her Royal Majesty Queen Serenity that Miss Vashtari return to the moon for formal trial and execution. Thus all will know that the Kingdom of the Moon is a powerful force, all those allied with her are protected within, and all those that come against them are destroyed."
I marveled at Mr. Arit's speech. The voices didn't seem to care, they knew this would happen. For a moment I felt scared that the whole universe was against me. But the voices assuaged. A kingdom like that of the moon has enemies, large enemies. I would be protected if I allied myself with them.
And the real sparks had yet to fly.
From my transport cell I could hear the protesters. I listened in amusement and tried to translate the Aphrodian phrases being hurled at the poor Lunari soldiers who hustled to board. I'd never studied Venus's language until the voices told me I would need the knowledge for the act. The act, after all, was what would set all into motion.
I can't blame everything on the voices, of course. I was the one who summoned them from their world and channeled them into me. Black arts were forbidden around the solar system, so naturally I took them up when my parents were killed. They took care of me, kept me company, educated me, and showed me the truth. So we decided to take over the universe.
"May the Lunari be damned for robbing Venus of it's pride" was the primary chant, or something along those lines. In the Aphrodian tongue it sounded more threatening, and it rhymed. Of course with hundreds of angry voices lifting the phrase, anything sounded threatening. No shots were fired, at least not by the Lunari. Some idiot in the crowd pulled a magickal firearm and tried to down one of the guardsmen rushing Mr. Arit into the ship.
I noticed, as the crowd folded around the gunman, that the shots bounced harmlessly off the shields protecting the group.
Lunari magick was more powerful than that of Venus. The voices gave an affirmative. That was why I had to go to the Moon for the plan to work.
It took nearly two months for me to get to trial. But that was fine by me. I was much too busy to be bothered by the world.
Every night, the voices would teach me how to pull my spirit free of my body. I was never able to attempt this before coming into the Lunari palace; I wasn't exposed to enough magick. But every moment I spent waiting for trial in that palace, I was accumulating magick and storing it. The voices taught me how.
The magick of the Lunari palace was created by the most powerful weapon in the universe; the Silver Imperium Crystal. The voices told me the crystal's original name but I could never pronounce it, not in this world at least. The crystal had come into existence shortly after all the universes had, and whichever universe contained it would rule all the others. Therefore, the voices concluded for me, the crystal must not be in the hands of the moon kingdom but that of the dark kingdom in the universe the voices hailed from.
I admit, this confused me at first. But the voices told me the tales every night as I collected the energy emitted from the crystal. One night, I had gathered enough energy to pull myself from my body and explore the palace. I not only was able to "see" magick on this plane of existence, but I could see the voices as well.
They were beautiful creatures the pulsed with colors that no one had ever seen in our universe. Magick was a wondrous thing that spread and collected in tendrils and tasted of its user and origin.
I was able to collect more energy this way; by being closer to the source and take it into my spirit directly. I grew weary of returning to my physical body with it's limitations and ailments. I wanted to be free, like the voices. They told me I would be, as soon as I was strong enough, as soon as I could bring them into my world.
But after the months of deliberation, it was time to go to trial. I hadn't really been looking forward to this, but the voices calmed me and gave me strength. They told me not to lie, not to defend myself, but to not tell of their existence else the plan would be exposed.
I hadn't realized the Lunar Queen would be in attendance. She was a beautiful creature, thriving on the magick of the silver crystal. I wanted to be her in that moment. I wanted to exist in the crystal's magick, I wanted to wield it's power and feel it in my physical body as well as my spiritual one. And I hated her for the fact I wasn't her.
The voices told me I would possess the crystal one day, but it would take a long time until that day came. I would have to become more powerful than I was now to defeat the Kingdom of the Moon, and I couldn't do it alone. Right now, all I had to do was bring them into this world, and to do that, I had to release all my collected magick to them.
And to do that, all I had to do was die.
Queen Serenity asked me to defend myself. I told the court the tale of my guilt in an emotionless monotone, all the while drinking up on the magick spreading through the courtroom from the crystal.
It had been seventeen years since the wars on Terra had ended, taking with it my parents and two brothers. I lived in the back storage closet of a local brothel, taking care of the bastard children and stealing more often than once from the drunken clientele before the whores could. The money I procured went to feeding the children before they succumbed to the current plague or froze to death in the wintry climes.
A member of the Terran Royal House was on a fully-televised tour of the area, showing the planet and the moon kingdom how much he cared for the poverty-stricken of his world and how perfect a candidate he was for the Silver Millennium's senate. The night he spent in the posh hotel across the river, eight of his guardsmen visited the brothel. A fight broke out when they refused to pay the Madame and the brothel was reduced to cinder by that morning. Of the whores that weren't killed, five were taken to prison and the remaining three were carted off for the house-member's own harem back at the capitol. I was one of the three.
And when the Terran royal was elected to the senate, I went with him to the Moon. The Lunar Palace threw a huge celebration for the newly elected officials of all the planets. I was, of course, left behind with two other whores, locked in the cellar of his mansion.
I smothered one of the girls in her sleep and was forced to strangle the other when she awoke before I suffocated her. The servants heard the screams and came running. I broke the first one's neck and used the sleeve of my shirt to cut off the other's air and left him to die as I escaped.
I stole through the night onto the grounds of the Aphrodian palace. The Royal House of Venus's princess Shajai was readying herself for the ball when I broke into her room from the celestial fountain. I tried to drown her in it but she escaped my grip. So I broke the empty bottle of wine left on a her dresser and cut her throat out with the sharpened edges before she had a chance to run. By then, her screams had alerted the guards and I was overtaken.
The court was appalled at my testimony. Of course, I hadn't told them that the voices had instructed me on how to channel magick into the guardsmen back on Terra, causing them to pick a fight with the Madame and eventually to chose myself to be carted off to the Moon. The voices were also the ones to teach me how to murder the other whores and the servants, and had shown me the way to enter the Aphrodian palace without being detected.
But most importantly, the voices helped me to craft my testimony to horrify the court and the Queen. I made the entire story sound like I had broken into the wrong palace in an attempt to kill the Lunari Princess, which of course made the Queen angry that I would try to kill her beloved daughter.
And if her royal majesty Queen Serenity was angry and wanted my death, so did the entire kingdom. I was sentenced for execution at the hands of the Aphrodian senshi the next day.
The voices took my spirit from my body as the Venus Senshi unleashed her most brutal attack on me. I felt nothing but joy as I was freed from my physical constraints. The voices were with me as I pulled myself away from the moon. They had come into my universe with me, and I could see them for what they really were.
I should have been frightened of their true forms. But I embraced them as my servants, just as I embraced the name they gave me. Metallia.
And together we waited, growing stronger and wiser as we watched the affairs of the universe that would soon be ours.
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