Flames of Burden

A Sailor Moon Fanfiction

Story & Original Characters 2007 Sarah Ruth Forde
Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon 1992 Naoko Takeuchi/Kodansha, TOEI Animation.

Chapter V

The area around the hotel had changed drastically since the blast two nights before. It was as if everyone in walking distance of the place had totally given up on living. Shops had closed down, people weren't going to their jobs, residents in the area spent the entire day in their homes, too sad to even think about going anywhere and to depressed to eat or get dressed. The awakening of Sailor Obsidia and the burden of her existence had already taken solid roots.

The four girls and two cats moved through the area quickly. People lay around on the streets, propped up against shop walls, starring at them blankly as they walked by. They all had pathetic looks on their faces, totally helpless, completely lost.

"What happened to them?" Minako whispered.

"It's as if they've lost all will to go on," Makoto said.

"Stay alert," Luna warned, "There is definitely something sinister here."

As they approached the hotel, it was clear the place had been completely abandoned. Though it had been sunny earlier, the sky over this section of the city was thick with dark clouds. Thunder rumbled over head as the four girls walked up the hotel steps. The tall glass doors were ajar; paper and leaves swirled in and out of the lobby with the wind. Usagi hesitated at the door.

"I know," Rei said, "it does feel like a trap."

"Let's go in first, Rei," Makoto said. "We'll check the first floor." Minako and Usagi nodded and the two girls walked through the open doorway. Usagi watched as they slipped into hallways and returned a few moments later to signal it was clear. They checked every section of the first floor they could enter, barring some locked conference rooms which could only be peered at through the small rectangle windows in their doors. Makoto and Rei returned unscathed and unalarmed. "The place looks totally deserted," Makoto said.

"All right, let's head up to the room," Usagi said. "Luna, Artemis, will you wait for us here?" They nodded.

"Then let's transform," Minako said. The four of them transformed in the lobby and Sailor Moon walked over to the elevator.

"Um, I think we should take the stairs," Sailor Mars said.

"What? Why?" Sailor Moon whined. "It's the twenty-sixth floor!"

"Yeah, but Sailor Moon, do you remeber the last time you got trapped in an elevator?" Sailor Jupiter said. "I really don't want to be in that situation if this is a trap."

Sailor Moon sighed and turned back towards the stairs. She caught a sympathetic look from Sailor Venus and jabbed her in the ribs, trying to get someone on her side. "Ow!" was all Venus said in reply, and the four senshi started their ascent.

As they neared the targeted floor, the smell of burnt material became overwhelming and filled their every breath. Jupiter was the first to reach the designated floor, and she cautiously opened the stairway door and peered down the hall. It was wide with doors along both sides at even intervals. At the end, there was a rounded out sitting area which looked, through the charred remains, like it might have been quite nice at one time. Remnants of charred furniture lay scattered about; a large, rounded picture window had been smashed out by the blaze and a crystal vase had melted into an organic pool of glass on the floor. The metal curtain rod over the window had been twisted and melted by the intense fire and hung dangling from its fixture on one side. The walls and floor were blackened with soot that had been soaked into everything by the sprinkler system. If was clear that system had been totally overwhelmed by the blaze of unnatural proportions; the sprinklers heads had also melted and twisted off the ceiling.

The four of them carefully made their way down the hall with Jupiter and Venus in the lead, followed by Sailor Moon and then Sailor Mars.

"Can you feel anything?" Sailor Venus asked.

"Yes," Mars said, "it's faint, but there is something here that I recognize."

"Is it Sailor Obsidia?" Sailor Moon asked. She was suddenly a little nervous about the plan to check this place out. She'd honestly expected to find nothing of consequence, but it was definitely apparent that they were likely to be walking into a trap.

"It's strange," Sailor Mars said as they crept forward, "I get the same feeling from this place as I did from the hospital yesterday. It's a terrible weight on my conscious. Can you feel it?"

Sailor Moon nodded as a familiar sense of hopelessness played at the edge of her mind. The other two soldiers looked at one another with questions on their faces. Clearly, they weren't sensing the same thing. The four of them reached the end of the hall where the next hall split perpendicularly. The wind seemed to be sucking the air out of the hotel and offered no breath of fresh air. Jupiter looked at the numbers of the rooms beside them and peered around the corner.

"The room she was staying in should be right around this corner, on the outer wall, to the left." The smell of burned material was stronger down at that end; they could taste it. Sailor Venus crouched at the corner and peered around it. There was no movement or indication that anything was amiss in the second hall. All the doors along the hallway, though blacked with soot, were closed.

"Let's go," Jupiter said. She and Venus leapt forward and covered the distance to the targeted room. Without hesitation, Sailor Jupiter turned the knob and pushed the door open. The wood around the frame of the door had been so heavily weakened by the blaze that Jupiter's motions literally ripped it from its hinges. The entire door and parts of the surrounding wall went crumbling into the room in a cascade of ash and soot.

The two of them were thrown into a coughing fit as they tried to shield their eyes and nose from the scattering, miniscule debris. Sailor Mars and Sailor Moon rushed out at the sound of the collapse thinking it had been an attack.

Once the air had settled a bit, Jupiter had a hard time containing her laughter in between coughs with tears in her eyes. The room behind the door was completely empty, hollowed out by flames to the barest materials of the building. It didn't look safe to enter.

"Are you all right?" Sailor Moon asked as she bounced back and forth between her friends. "What happened?"

Sailor Venus let herself laugh a little too after the shock subsided.

"Come on," Sailor Jupiter said, "This isn't some secret base. Let's go back."

"What about all the people outside?" Sailor Moon said as they were going down the stairs again. "We can't just leave them like that."

"Even if Obsidia isn't still in the hotel, something's really wrong in this place." Sailor Mars said. She suggested they help people try to evacuate the area, but when they returned to their civilian clothing and exited the building, the found authorities were already doing so.

A man in a bulky hazmat suit approached them at an awkward pace waving his hands, "This is a quarantined area!" he shouted through his ventilation, "All residents must evacuate immediately! There are dangerous levels of radiation in this area from the meteor. You'll have to come in for testing."

Knowing full well that the devastating effects on the area were not from cosmic radiation, the four girls opted to hightail it out of there. Mr. Hazmat tried to call to them for them to return, shouting government regulations, but his cumbersome suit prevented him from moving very fast and the four girls easily left the effected area and returned to the temple. They all agreed that there was likely nothing more significant about the hotel room than the remnants Obsidia's awakening slowly draining the area of all hope.

Luna suggested the effects of this situation could have an spreading impact on the area until Obsidia was defeated.

"So the whole city is in danger of falling into that terrible situation?" Usagi asked.

"I ran a simulation," Artemis said, "if it continues to spread at the rate it has been since two nights ago, the whole city will be swallowed by mind numbing depression in less than thirty six hours."

"That's terrible!" Minako said, "We have to find Sailor Obsidia and stop this."

Meanwhile, Mamoru had been pacing in his apartment. He had also taken the day off from classes, and his notes from various assignments were neatly organized in a pile on his desk. He couldn't work on anything; something kept nagging at him, but he couldn't place it. He had spent the whole morning going over what he could remember of the battle with Sailor Astera, and he kept returning to the cat Demitrius. The girls didn't seem to trust the cat very much, but something about him made Mamoru believe he could rely on the cat's word. Why should he feel that way about a guardian that had abated Astera's reign of destruction?

He decided he had to get out of the apartment. He called Usagi's house, but Shingo told him she had gone out with everyone right after school. So, he grabbed his helmet and jacket and took off back towards the only place he could think of to find more answers: the ice rink.

Construction had ended for the day. Mamoru parked the bike discretely and began pacing around the outskirts of the barriers once more. The large pieces of concrete from the other day had been moved and the area looked a lot cleaner for it. The new building was going up fast.

He sat down on one of the benches that lined a walkway beside the road. The area the rink was in was only a half mile or so from the beach; he could smell the salt in the air. The wind was rushing through the small shrubs which lined the property of the office building behind him. Suddenly, he could sense that someone was there. He tensed.

"Please don't be alarmed," a deep voice said. Demitrius emerged from the edge of the line of bushed and walked down the sidewalk towards Mamoru with a slight limp as he favored his left front paw. Still, his face was determined. "It's fate you should be here right now," he said. "I had hoped to speak with you privately, but I was concerned to confront you with the others around."

Mamoru watched as Demitrius closed the distance to a respectable few feet and sat on the ground waiting for his reply.

"What is it you want?" he asked the cat.

"I need your help," he said, "desperately. I know you can understand what I am going through. You would do anything to save her, right?" Mamoru didn't have to ask who he meant. "Of course."

"I too feel the same about my princess." He bowed his head, took a few steps forward, and leapt up on the opposite end of the bench. "If you will permit me," he said, "I'd like to tell you how I came to be so devoted to her." Mamoru nodded in response.

"It was years ago," Demitrius started, "but it is truly clear to me. At that time, I was a reconnaissance scout for the second Silver Millennium, ruled by your future wife, Serenity. After the creation of Crystal Tokyo, many of our people from Mau were recruited to aid the royal family in oversight of the solar system. With the guarding powers of the Silver Crystal, we were able to spread out among the planets to keep an eye on things and alert the guardians if something was amiss.

"I myself was assigned a top priority mission just after the rebels of Nemesis attacked from their dark moon. Sent to the hellish place alone, I was asked to maintain anonymity and watch their movements as the stalemate with the battle on Earth progressed. It was there I found her.

"She was terrified, alone and looked to me no more than a child. She was being forced away from someone she cared about dearly, and I could tell that her guardians intended her no good will. I befriended her in secret, and we grew to know each other very well. My suspicions began to grow that this girl was actually the heir of the destroyed kingdom of Astera. I held off notification to the crystal city because I knew how limited their resources were in the battle against the Dark Moon. As the stalemate progressed, the girl was treated more and more harshly by her angry guardians. They took their frustrations out on her physically and mentally, making her soul dark and cold.

"Then something drastic changed in her. When she began speaking in her sleep, I feared the worst. It was now clear that she was in contact with the great sorcerer, her father Yukio, the dead king of Astera. I tried reasoning with her, telling her that his accounts of the events on Astera might not have taken place they way he had told her, but her hatred and dismay in the world had all ready corrupted her soul. All she wanted then was revenge. She grew very strong in her will, and the people on Nemesis began to avoid her.

"I knew I couldn't stop the darkness from growing within her. But there was another secret she had hidden from me. On that dark moon, there was another child that had been brought from Astera. Though they were not sisters by blood, the younger girl had been a loving adopted child of the royal family of Astera. The girls had been sent seperated when they had arrived on Nemesis. The princess I had grown to care for deeply had no hope of finding her childhood friend until the memories of her Father invoked a connection between them.

"One night, she told me, 'I will go to my sister, and we will bond our souls with my father's dark power. Together, we can destroy the White Moon!' I knew that my time was at its end; I had to contact Crystal Tokyo to tell them what dark seeds were being planted on Nemesis. That night, I tried to leave, but she caught me as I rose from her bedside. There was fear in her eyes, something I hadn't seen since she'd found her new mission of revenge.

"'Don't go,' she pleaded with me. And I could see it in her eyes, I was the only one on the miserable dark moon she truly trusted. At that moment, I realized I was in love with her. I could not bring myself to betray her.

"I watched a transaction of power that night so sinful and mad that I could not believe what I was witnessing. When the princess found her estranged sister, they were both enveloped in a massive force field of dark energy. I saw a brilliant light emerge from my princess' chest and I cringed as she screamed in pain. I wanted to go to her, but the power of the energy kept me away.

"The light from her spirit formed into an amethyst crystal. Then, half its light drained away from it into a diamond seed her sister held, floating in front of her chest. The space the drained power had left was filled quickly with very powerful, massively negative energy from the surrounding field. Her sister's crystal also received some of this power, and with a burst of raging energy, two suited sailor soldiers appeared.

"I could not understand at first. I knew my princess was the heir to the powers of Astera, but I did not understand how the other girl, with no blood ties to the royal family, could have obtained such a form. But then I realized, their power had been shared. The true power of the soldier of Astera had been divided between them, supplemented with the dark powers of Nemesis which Yukio had manipulated.

"She was completely changed after that - cruel, vicious, and hungry for power. Her sister chose the name Obsidia to go with the blacked stone she carried. Sailor Astera did not want the competition. She was manipulated by her father's spirit to seal Obsidia away, telling her it was too dangerous when in fact, she felt the strongest desire to take revenge for her true father on her own. She told the younger girl that she would come for her after the battle. Naive and unsure of her new powers, Obsidia believed her and remained sealed while Sailor Astera returned to this past. It was all part of Yukio's plan.

"You know what happened," Demitrius said with pain in his voice. "I knew I couldn't change the path she had taken, but I desperately wanted to atone for my sins. I hated what she had become, and I knew I would have to betray her to save her. When I leapt into Usagi's arms in the park that night, I revealed myself, and I reveled Sailor Astera. I did all I could to lead Sailor Moon and her friends to the truth about her. I left that book of Crystal Tokyo history for Sailor Mercury to find. I knew that with the right knowledge of Astera's past they would have the power to heal her. I had to act like I was helping Sailor Astera do all those terrible things, while playing the other side of the game. It got completely out of my control.

"Fortunately, your princess has a stronger will," Demitrius shook his head. "Her soul was saved, the dark power was cleansed by the purity of the White Moon, but she could not remain a true soldier. Without the other half of her true powers, she could not sustain her physical form. What was left of her spirit was saved in a small pendant that your princess found."

"The amethyst necklace?" Mamoru asked. "Something was released from it. Was that was Astera?"

Demitrius nodded, "Sailor Obsidia broke free from her solitude when her sister did not return. Yukio reawakened her. It was his plan all along that she should be the back up in case Sailor Astera failed. Sailor Obsidia's full awakening has called Astera's soul from its peaceful slumber. It longs to be reunited with its other half, but it will not come to pass so peacefully."

"What will Sailor Obsidia do?" Mamoru asked, "She can't have power herself if she gives it away to Astera."

"I don't know what will happen! I am so scared for her, you have to help me find her!" Demitrius said with sudden panic and tears in his eyes. "Sailor Obsidia will likely fill Astera's soul with dark powers again! She will reawaken as a soldier of revenge! Please, help her!" Demitrius broke down into sobs and turned away from Mamoru. "I want to save her," he said quietly. "I want her soul to be free, I don't care what it takes."

Mamoru took in all he had heard and felt a burden lift from his heart. Now he knew the sensation he had felt from this creature was a resonance of his own love for Usagi. He understood what it meant to be willing to give it all for someone, and he knew that Demitrius was completely sincere. Worst of all, he knew that Demitrius was now in a place of despair, for he felt that it was his fault that his princess was now once again in great danger.

"What can I do." Mamoru asked. "How can I help?"

Demitrius turned back to him. His one good eye was bloodshot and brimming with tears. "The crystal," he said, "If you get me the amethyst pendant, maybe I can reach her."

"I will talk with the others," Mamoru said. "Will you come with me?" Demitrius paused with a moment of uncertainty. "They will understand," Mamoru assured him. Demitrius nodded, and followed the dark haired man towards the temple.

The five girls sat along one of the temple porches. Ami had rested the entire day, but could not stand to be away from the mission for longer than that. They were filling her in on all the details and trying to come up with a plan.

"So there was absolutely nothing at the hotel?" Ami asked.

"Nothing we could see that would indicate Sailor Obsidia is working from there," Makoto said, "but there's still some strange energy around the area." "I heard on the news that they were evacuating for radiation," Ami said.

"We saw the teams," Minako replied. "At least that will get people out of the area."

"Luna and Artemis think that it will spread," Usagi said. "They are afraid the effects of Obsidia's awakening will cover the whole city soon. They've gone back to take some more observations of the area. We think stopping Sailor Obsidia is the only way to help."

Their conversation ceased as a tall silhouette reached the top of the temple stairs and approached them across the grounds. The sun was setting behind the figure, distorting its appearance. The girls gathered around Usagi instinctively, defensively.

Usagi shielded her eyes from the sun and could just make out the dark tufts of hair that crowned her lover's head. She sprung up from the porch and ran over to him, embracing his waist. "Where've you been?" she asked. "We went to the hotel again, but there was nothing."

"There's something I need to speak to you all about," he said, looking past Usagi to the others. They could tell from his tone of voice that it was quite serious. Once Mamoru had some time to prep the girls, he asked Demitrius to come out from where he was hiding. He will still very nervous to be in front of them, and though he tried to look them straight in the eye, he found that his confidence faltered and he could only stare at the ground in front of him.

Ami was shocked but happy to have the mysterious origins of the legends book solved. Usagi had been very broken up by the story altogether, but she felt that knowing Demitrius had helped them in the battle with Astera would dissolve all concern the others had about trusting him. "Rei," she said, "you still have the pendant, right?" Rei nodded, and went to retrieve the amethyst stone.

"What can we do?" Makoto asked. "How will this help?"

"The crystal is still linked to Astera," Demitrius said, his voice shaking. "If we can contact her somehow, perhaps we can find out where she is so we can save her."

"You really believe in her," Minako said with understanding.

"We will do all we can to help," Usagi added. Demitrius nodded and looked anxiously at the crystal when Rei returned with it.

"There's been nothing from it since Usagi gave it to me," she said. "Is there some way to activate it?"

"I am not even sure it will work," Demitrius said honestly, "but, it's all I could think to try." Rei placed the crystal on the ground in front of Demitrius and everyone stood up around it. Demitrius moved slowly around the crystal, examining its features and dull, grayed surface. He finally approached it, sat beside it, and placed his injured leg over the crystal and closed his eyes.

"Please," he said, "help me find her." As the sun dipped below the horizon, the whole sky turned a cool shade of violet. For a moment it seemed as if Demitrius' hopes would be dashed, but then the others witnessed a brilliant change in the appearance of the crystal. Its core lit up again, brightly and warmly flooding the circle of friends with a shimmering halo of lavender.

"Everyone, let's try to help," she said. She clutched Mamoru's and Rei's hands and the others linked together to form a circle around Demitrius and the crystal. In a flash, they were all transformed into their sailor outfits. "Please work," Sailor Moon thought as she felt the power flowing between them.

In the haze of the light, Sailor Moon could see Demitrius focusing intently on reaching his princess. It was hard to make out his form in the light and as she focused her thoughts, she thought she could see Astera in the light with Demitrius. Her figure, thin and lithe, could barely be seen there in the light, hovering with long, cascading golden hair surrounding her. Another figure appeared beside her, tall, broad and strong. His arms wrapped tightly around her and she placed her head on his chest.

When Usagi opened her eyes, she was lying on the ground surrounded by her friends. Slowly everyone else came to. Albeit disoriented, they had all witnessed the same vision Usagi had seen.

"Is everyone okay?" Mamoru asked. They girls all replied they were.

"Did you find your answer?" Usagi asked, turning to Demitrius.

"They are in Obsidia's attack somewhere," Demitrius said as he got to his feet. The crystal had vanished. "We have to locate a place where the burden of life has totally overwhelmed all things."

"But that's the hotel," Usagi said.

"We went there and saw nothing," Minako said. Then she realized it - they saw nothing. Anything inside Sailor Obsidia's attack wouldn't have been visible to them! The other girls also put the pieces together.

"You have to go tonight," Luna's voice echoed across the temple grounds as she and Artemis approached. "The burden is spreading far faster than we imagined."

Chapter Six