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 VI

Sailor Obsidia moved around the dark slab with caution; something had just changed in the air around them. A faint glow had risen around Astera just a moment ago and it had completely repelled the dark powers Obsidia had been challenging into the girl's body. She looked over Astera's passive face and caught a glimpse of a blush and the hint of a smile as the glow around her faded; someone had been in contact with Astera.

Obsidia sat down on a small section of the slab that extended to catch her weight. She ran a cold thin hand across Astera's brow, pushing strands of blonde hair affectionately from her face. "Who could've tried to reach you?" she asked. "Who could care for you more than I?" Astera's lids shifted slightly as her violet eyes barely opened.

"Sailor Obsidia?" she asked.

"Yes, my sweet sister," Obsidia said, leaning forward. "Tell me, how much do you remember?"

Astera closed her eyes again and her face expressed pain as if the memories they spoke of hurt physically. "What are you doing to me?" she asked instead of answering.

"I am healing you," Obsidia replied with silvery tears in her deep blue eyes. "Can't you see what they have taken from you? Your home, your loved ones, your power - all torn from you without remorse. I am going to revive you."

Astera also had tears in her eyes, though they seeped out thought the tightly clenched corners. She seemed for a moment too weak to reply, then she whispered, "Please, don't." Obsidia slipped into a momentary state of shock. After all the energy she had lovingly bestowed, that could not be her thanks. Then she came to slowly formulate her own understanding of the situation: not only had these people robbed her sister of her divine powers, they had also brainwashed her.

"It's too terrible," Obsidia said with honest pain in her voice as she fell along the stone and wept. "I will do everything I can for you dear sister. Tell me, which of them tried to contact you just now?" Astera flinched and did not reply. "You won't tell me then?" Obsidia asked. "I see. They have a strong hold on you, but you have no reason to fear me. I will help release you from this twisted illusion." Obsidia grasped one of the carved tendrils that extended endlessly into the darkness above. At her touch, the stone activated with a fiery blue light that was echoed by a field of energy growing around Obsidia. With eyes closed, she forced the power to flow from her body into the channels of the stone. Astera's body lurched upward and the glimmering restraints held her back as she screamed into the darkness. Obsidia's tears continued to fall as she pressed the power from her body. This kind of pain hurt her much less than seeing her idol in such a weakened state.

After a few moments, Sailor Obsidia was forced to stop. She lay with the upper half of her body slumped along the slab beside her sister, panting to catch her breath. Astera's body was alight with power from the contact and her skin shimmered with a violet glow; Obsidia knew she was close.

"You have to stop," Astera said softly with her eyes still clenched shut.

"I won't," Obsidia replied with effort. She reached out to Astera and tried to grasp her hand but Astera sensed the movement and pulled away from her touch. At this, Obsidia cried out in anguish.

"You will destroy yourself," Astera said with more force. "I don't remember all of it," she continued, "but I know, your powers are my powers. If you give them away, you will have nothing else."

"To see you," Obsidia replied through her sobs, still reaching out, "I will give anything to see you as you once were."

"I was wrong," Astera said, opening her eyes to face this forlorn soldier. "My father was wrong."

"Our father!" Obsidia shouted, with renewed energy. "He gave us everything!" She grasped the stone tendril again and Astera screamed in agony as more dark fire poured in around her. Sailor Obsidia found the strength to stand again as she clutched a second stone tendril with her other hand and used it to support her body. Her deep blue hair whipped around her wildly from the surge of energy and her eyes were alight with reckless power, but she could feel the connection deepen, so she persisted. "You will rise again, Sailor Astera!" she shouted into the darkness around them.

As the five soldiers, Tuxedo Mask and three cats left for the hotel, they knew immediately what Luna had said was an understatement. All around them, the city was turning gray and growing dark, right up to the steps of the temple. They passed empty shops and desolate parks as they walked down vacant sidewalks. Occasionally, someone would pass by them with a look of hopelessness in their eyes. Sailor Jupiter clutched on of these people by the shoulders and tried to get them to react to her by shouting at them.

"Please Jupiter," Sailor Mercury said, "I don't think that will help."

"Well, honestly," Jupiter said, releasing the girl and watching her wander away. They moved through the city without incident as they made their way to the hotel building. It appeared much the way it had earlier in the day. To their surprise, a few men in hazmat suits remained laying around the streets as they approached the hotel. Their helmets were off and they were staring into the depressing nothingness that had gripped everything around them.

The soldiers moved quickly past these depressing scenes; they knew the only way to save these people was to stop Sailor Obsidia, but first, they had to reach her. Sailor Moon walked closely behind Tuxedo Mask. He glanced back once in a while to see her watching her own feet. When they entered the building lobby they gathered together.

"So, here's the plan," Tuxedo Mask said, "Demitrius believes he can convince Sailor Obsidia to allow him to enter the space she has created by telling her he is here to help her revive Sailor Astera. Once the portal is open, we should all be able to enter the attack."

"Then what?" Sailor Venus asked.

"Well," Demitrius said, "that's going to have to be sort of done on instinct."

"Great," Sailor Mars sighed.

"There are two possible scenarios that we will encounter," Demitrius said. "The first is that Sailor Obsidia will be alone, trying to revive Sailor Astera. The second is that she's already succeeded in reviving Sailor Astera."

"If that's the case," Sailor Moon said, "I will go to her. Even if Sailor Obsidia causes Astera to reawaken with her dark powers, I know that she still has a true soldier within her. I can help her." The others nodded. It would be their job to hold Sailor Obsidia off while Sailor Moon cleansed Astera.

"What about Obsidia, though?" Sailor Mercury asked. "Can she be healed?"

Demitrius shook his head, "It's possible, but unlikely. Unlike Sailor Astera, Sailor Obsidia had no bloodline connection to the Moon Kingdom or the Asterian Kingdom. Since Astera's body has been reborn, she has likely lost her connection to the Moon Kingdom as well. If Sailor Astera has been revived, removing the dark power from her will fill her with the holy power of the Moon again."

"She will take on the form I saw after the battle?" Sailor Moon asked.

Demitrius nodded, "What is left of her crystal's original power and your powers of the Moon will combine in the way they would have before. But the same isn't true for Sailor Obsidia. Her powers are a combination of dark energy from King Yukio and the power from Astera's amethyst. If you cleanse her, she will lose all of those powers and she will be left with nothing."

"What about her true spirit," Sailor Mars, "isn't there anything left of that within her?" The other soldiers looked to Demitrius for an answer, but it seemed he had none.

"So, we really don't know what will happen," Sailor Jupiter said. The others nodded with understanding; they were just going to have to jump in head first and hope for the best. What fun.

"We will stay here," Luna said, referring to herself and Artemis. The others nodded as they made their way across the tiled lobby. They ascended the stairway quickly but quietly, and made there way to the destroyed section of the wall. The soldiers stayed back in the hallway while Demitrius picked his way into the charred space.

"Sailor Astera?" he began, "I've, um, sensed your dark powers have awakened! I have come to serve you once more! Please reveal yourself to me!"

Sailor Obsidia broke the hold from the obsidian tendrils and turned her ear to the space around her. She leaned on the cool slab for a moment, catching her breath, but she was sure she had heard a voice. Raising her hand, a misty layer of space appeared in front of her. Through the haze she could see the brown form of a fluffy cat standing in a charcoal room. It must have been he that contacted Astera. She listened again for the sound of his voice. Here to help? She hardly thought so. Reaching through the mist, Sailor Obsidia extended a hand into the real space in the hotel room. She grasped Demitrius by the throat and squeezed as he let out a choked yelp.

The soldiers in the hall heard Demitrius' yelp and rushed forward into the room. "Demitrius!" Sailor Moon shouted as they entered the space. They caught a glimpse of the puffy end of his tail as it slipped into the portal. The haze vanished.

"This was NOT one of the possible scenarios," Sailor Mars said.

Sailor Mercury had been quick with her goggles and she caught the end of the misty haze just long enough to get a reading. She was analyzing it. "That was an opening to the attack, right?" Sailor Moon asked. Sailor Mercury nodded.

"Can we force our way in?" Sailor Jupiter asked.

"If I can work out the axis coordinates of the space she's created I can try to reopen the portal," Sailor Mercury said as she typed variables into her mini computers. The others waited anxiously.

Meanwhile, Sailor Obsidia had restrained Demitrius with shimmering blue fabric on a smaller but similar obsidian slab slightly above the foot of the one Astera rested in. She was enraged. "Why have you brought them here?" she spat. Demitrius refused to answer and Sailor Obsidia doused him in a helping dark fire. He screamed in agony and the sound of his voice caused Astera to open her eyes. She was caught it a strange state of consciousness; Obsidia's dark powers had begun to distort her memory and her vision. She could see Obsidia in front of her, torturing something or someone. It was crying out in pain, but for some reason, she didn't feel sympathetic. Growing inside Astera was the urge to join the blue fire soldier and birth a new era of terror.

As she sat up on the obsidian slab, the shimmering restraints fell from her body. Sailor Obsidia ceased her attack on Demitrius and looked over at Astera with delight: resting in her opened palm was a glimmering amethyst crystal.

"Super-Dimensional Space Emergence!"

There was a bright flash of blue light and a hazy section of the space rippled open beside the stone slab. The sailor team and Tuxedo Mask came pouting through the opening all at once and the area quickly sealed off behind them.

"Sailor Obsidia!" Sailor Moon said with a serious authority, "let them go."

Sailor Obsidia was shocked to see the soldiers had broken into her sacred space on their own, but she was actually glad they had arrived at just that moment. The show was about to begin. Sailor Obsidia left Demitrius unconscious in his restrains as she slipped beside Astera. Astera was still sitting on the edge of the stone slab, her entire body alight with violet energy as she gazed blankly into the crystal in her hand. Sailor Obsidia pressed a fingertip to Astera's chin and raised her face so that her eyes looked forward at the other soldiers.

"They've come," Sailor Obsidia whispered in her ear, "the Princess of the White Moon is here for your taking."

All present, including Sailor Obsidia, were thrown back by the explosion of power that shook the stone tendrils of the slab until they shattered into glittering dust. The large stone and the smaller one fell to the dark surface below and splintered into fragments that fractured into smaller fragments until the whole area was filled with tiny sparkling particles rising into the darkness above. The fall awakened Demitrius who, though dazed, managed to clear himself of danger and run to the sailor soldiers.

Floating in the midst of rising glow was the lone figure of Astera, twirling slowly with arms outstretched into a purple glow that surrounded her. Over her open palms, the amethyst crystal floated. Its sudden purple light erupted with a terrible sound that shook the foundations of Obsidia's attack and blasted its dimensional fabric apart. Floor sections of the charred hotel room crumbled to the level below. The senshi clung to one another as they slipped through the structure and fought to avoid falling sections of the building. A secondary explosion ripped through the space echoing into the darkened city as sections of the outer wall crumbled and fell to the ground outside.

The blast threw Astera's hair straight up as a deep blackish purple color faded over the blonde strands from roots to tips. As she turned, the crystal's light fell to her body where the glimmering light produced a bodice of white. As she lowered her arms, her purple heart-shaped brooch appeared, a glittering amethyst gem at its center. From it sprang a bow of black with three prongs and wide bow tails. On the next revolution, her skirt and black bow formed. Astera ran her crystal along her skirt forming a wide purple band along the bottom. With a thrust upward, her gloves materialized on her arms and hands. As she floated slowly downward, her boots appeared on her feet. She touched down among the chaotic scene beside Sailor Obsidia who had also fallen in the collapse. Sailor Astera opened her eyes and placed a hand on the younger soldier's shoulder.

Sailor Obsidia looked up with admiration and praise, "Sailor Astera," she said, "I am so pleased to see you."

Sailor Astera nodded and helped Obsidia to stand. The other soldiers regrouped and helped one another out from the debris of the falling floor. Sailor Moon was stuck with dismay at the sight of Sailor Astera. "No," she whispered.

"Oh yes," Sailor Astera said sinisterly, "it wasn't as if you power over me would hold forever, Moon Princess."

"I can't believe this!" Sailor Moon said with tears in her eyes. "I know this isn't what you want!"

"What she wants?!" Sailor Obsidia scoffed. "What the hell would you know about what we want!" Sailor Astera held a hand up to Obsidia to silence her. The blue fire soldier backed down as Sailor Astera grinned.

"I want what I have always wanted," she said, "your body, lifeless. And that crystal with its rightful owner!"

Tuxedo Mask stepped in front of Sailor Moon along with the other four soldiers. Sailor Astera couldn't help but laugh aloud now. After all the princess put them through, they stood by her. Why? "Fools, all of you!" she shouted without laughter as she lunged at them. Taking the cue, Sailor Obsidia launched her attack as well.

"Obsidia Illumin Sear!"
"Amethyst Dynamic Burn!"
"Mercury Aqua Mirage!"
"Rolling Heart Vibration!"

Tuxedo Mask took the brunt of Astera's attack while Mercury and Venus tried to counter Obsidia's attack with their own. Tuxedo Mask was thrown through the wall behind them. Sailor Moon called out to him, but Sailor Astera had already made her next move. Sailor Moon turned to block Astera's assault but Sailor Jupiter was there to defend her. Sailor Astera and Sailor Jupiter dueled for a moment while Sailor Venus, Mars and Mercury cornered Sailor Obsidia.

"Now Sailor Moon!" Sailor Jupiter said, as she tossed Astera rather violently over her back and onto the floor.

Sailor Moon stepped forward and produced her scepter, "Moon Healing Escalation!" she shouted as the white light poured from the wand. Sailor Astera was blasted with the attack head on. She stood from her place on the floor as if nothing had happened. She pushed Sailor Jupiter away and the other soldiers watched with shock as Sailor Astera ran right through the attack and knocked Sailor Moon clear off her feet, clutching the weapon and breaking it in half above her head.

"Impossible!" Sailor Venus said. Sailor Obsidia took the opportunity to break from the soldier's grasp and move into an offensive position. Sailor Mars and Mercury tried to regain control of her as Sailor Venus ran to Sailor Moon. "Sailor Moon!" she called to her as she knelt down beside her. Sailor Moon opened her eyes and looked up at Sailor Venus with tears of confusion. "Here, get up," Sailor Venus said as she helped her friend.

"I want her on her knees!" Sailor Astera shouted as she clutched Sailor Venus' head by the hair near her scalp and pulled her up and away from Sailor Moon. Venus hollered with pain as the dark soldier slammed a knee into her abdomen and throw her back towards the other soldiers.

Sailor Moon was in fact on her knees, halfway to where Venus had intended to bring her. Sailor Astera walked up to her and grasped her neck with both hands. Sailor Moon's eyes filled with more tears as she struggled to breathe. She placed her hands on Astera's lightly and tried to open her eyes. "I know what you really want," she said laboriously.

"Disgusting!" Sailor Astera said, as she threw Sailor Moon backwards onto the floor again. "You are all filthy liars!"

Sailor Moon slowly rose to her feet with sincere effort. Sailor Obsidia's battle with the other soldiers came to a shocked pause as a brilliant white light emanated from Sailor Moon's brooch. "I won't let you stay this way," she said as the light steadily grew.

Astera recognized the glow and a smile played across her face. Sailor Obsidia laughed heartily.

"Your little trick won't work this time," Sailor Obsidia scoffed from across the room. "I've embodied her with so much dark power, there's no way you can overwhelm it!" She laughed manically as she ripped herself free from Sailor Mars' grip and blasted a stream of blue fire across to Sailor Mercury.

"It's true," Demitrius said, "I feel it within her! She's much stronger than ever before," he said with mounting fear.

Sailor Moon's eyes were wide with fear at the thought. For a moment, she sat there trembling, staring at her useless hands where the Ginzuishou pulse flickered and slowed. Sailor Astera laughed and move towards them. She lifted a golden hilted dagger from the air and pressed the blade against her cheek. "My my," she cooed, "it's a pity, your man isn't here to save you." Sailor Moon cast a glance across the room at Tuxedo Mask lying in the corner. He wasn't dead of course, just unconcious. Fortunately, she hadn't suffered the same emotional struggles she had faced the last time she fought Astera.

Considering this, she felt a little stronger. This battle was not over! She wouldn't believe that it was all going to end this way. There was just something missing in their fight, something on the edge of her mind that shouted not to give up just yet.

"Demitrius," Sailor Moon said, "you must believe in yourself." The cat looked into her eyes and saw new resolution. The stone within her hands began to grow with light and pulse again and Demitrius began to understand. There was enough love in this world to cleanse Astera's darkness from her, they just had to be a team.

Moving forward, Demitrius stood between Sailor Moon and Sailor Astera. "I will help save you, my princess," he said as he shut his eyes. They both backed away from him slightly as an intense silver light grew rapidly from his body. Sailor Moon shielded her eyes as the form beneath the light elongated and grew taller into the space between them. Bright violet lights swirled around the form as flourishes of yellow beams flowed into the room intermittently.

In a flurry of bright bursts of glittering light, the over all glow began to subside. In place of the fluffy brown cat stood a tall man with dark skin the color of chocolate. He was dressed in decorative robes with some armor; a gleaming sword was hilted on his belt. His dark blonde hair was tussled and just long enough to cover the white scar and dead eye on the left side of what was otherwise a handsome and refined face.

A soft glow clung to him as he moved towards Sailor Astera.

"Don't you go near her!" Sailor Obsidia shouted as she struggled under the hold of Sailor Jupiter and Sailor Mars.

"Get away!" Sailor Astera echoed the sentiment as she backed away trembling. As he approached her, she fell to her knees her face upturned in a combination of fear and longing.

"Please, my princess," the familiar deep voice said, "I believe there is still good in you." As he knelt down in front of her, their lips met and he embraced her in a passionate kiss. Sailor Astera blushed deeply, but felt her whole body giving way to the warmth growing inside. The edge of her anger was fading and she felt renewed as they pulled apart and gazed into his eyes. Her hand reached up to touch his hair as she brushed it aside to see the scarred side of his face. He flinched, and tried to turn away from her touch, but her eyes held him steadily. Sailor Moon watched the reunion with tears in her eyes. A strong hand on her shoulder caused her to look up with surging hope. Beside her Tuxedo Mask stood, holding a hand out to her. "Let's save her," he said. Her raised Sailor Moon up to her feet and she turned towards Sailor Astera.

"Are you ready?" she asked as she lifted her crystal into the air in front of her. Sailor Astera nodded and pressed her hands tightly into Demitrius' before stepping towards Sailor Moon. She knew she didn't want this dark power within her anymore. She wanted to be free!

"Sailor Astera! No!" Sailor Obsidia shouted as Astera moved into the cleansing holy light of the Ginzuishou. Chapter VII