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 VII


Sailor Astera's body felt light and pure as the Ginzuishou's powers washed over her. As before, her amethyst crystal's casing shattered, releasing the glowing orb within. It floated towards the brooch on her chest which lit up brilliantly as the light floated slowly into her chest. Sailor Moon and the others watched with relief as the dark energy was drawn out of Astera's body. As it curled upwards and vanished, Sailor Obsidia cried out with rage. She thrashed about under the hold of the other senshi and screamed for Sailor Moon to leave Astera alone.

Slowly, Sailor Astera's outfit faded into opposite colors: what was black became purple, what was purple became black. From roots to tips, her hair was cleansed of darkness by a wave of white energy which left shimmering blond hair in its wake. The final part of the transformation was the formation of a golden tiara on her forehead, accented with a amethyst stone at its center. At the sight of it, Sailor Obsidia was truly overwhelmed.

As the light from the crystal faded, Obsidia slipped to the floor, still clutched by the other four soldiers. Sailor Astera stood still for a moment, unsure of her energy in this state. She knew the powers of the moon would only allow her to remain as a healed soldier for a brief moment and she was determined to save Obsidia. She looked to Sailor Moon and Demitrius and they nodded. Sailor Astera turned towards the others and motioned for them to release Obsidia. They did so only after Sailor Moon indicated it was all right.

"Don't come near me," Sailor Obsidia as Sailor Astera approached. She sat slumped on the floor, head down, with her face shrouded by hair. Her open hands rested beside her. "I am sick of being lied to."

"There are certain things you need to know," Sailor Astera said. "I know you've always believed that you were meant to carry these powers, but the truth is, you are not a true soldier." Sailor Obsidia did not react, she just remained where she was. The other soldiers weren't sure what to do, so they gathered around Sailor Moon. Sailor Astera continued: "The man you know as your father took you into the family as a means to his own end," she said, "it was wrong of him to use you that way."

Sailor Obsidia did not move or respond. For a moment, Sailor Moon considered the opportunity to try to heal her, but then she remembered Demitrius' warning. She moved closer to Tuxedo Mask.

"Anya," Sailor Astera said. "That's what they call you on Earth, right?"

At the sound of her Earth-given name Sailor Obsidia looked up with a fire in her eyes shocked Sailor Astera and the others. They stepped back as a blue fire grew around the fallen soldier.

"On Earth?" Sailor Obsidia asked with rage in her voice. "This waste of a planet? This place where children are abandoned, put in orphanages, abused, left to fend for themselves!" She shouted out the end of her sentence as the glow around her increased. She began to rise up off the floor but her legs remained relaxed as they extended below her rising body. "Abandoned! Like you abandoned me on Nemesis! You never came back for me!" she shouted, "and when I came for you, you denied me! Now you are abandoning me again!"

The room around them began to shake as the obsidian stone at the center of her brooch dislodged itself and floated out in front of her chest. Sailor Obsidia lifted her hands to surround the stone as she brought it level with her eyes. The air around them erupted in violent swirls and the soldiers moved into defensive positions. Sailor Astera shielded her eyes from flying debris caught up in the storm.

"I don't care what use I am to anyone anymore!" Sailor Obsidia said, "I am my own! And I will exact my revenge on everyone that stands in my way. Move out of the way Sailor Astera, I will show you I am a true soldier!"

"I cannot allow you to do that," Sailor Astera said.

"Then you will die like the rest!" Sailor Obsidia's stone erupted with one rippling explosion of dark energy that engulfed her whole body in a swirling blue blaze. Mars, Juptier, Venus, Mercury and Tuxedo Mask formed a close circle around Sailor Moon. The power of the Ginzuishou had rebuilt her Cutie Moon Rod and she clutched it tightly in her gloved hands. Sailor Astera backed up to stand with Demitrius who took a defensive stance slightly in front of her.

"I see how it is," Obsidia said scathingly, "anything for the ones you love." She twisted the last word with sarcasm and raised the obsidian stone above her head.

"Aphotic Radence!"

The dark energy around Sailor Obsidia swelled so violently at the call of the attack that Sailor Moon had visions of her friends being ripped apart by the force of the coming blast. Demitrius stepped fully in front of Sailor Astera and raised his arms to form whatever protective field her could create for his princess.

No blast ever came. The senshi watched with shock as the dark power imploded on Sailor Obsidia, trapping her within her own most powerful attack. She screamed wildly as the blazing blue fire seared her skin and outfit and sent her writhing to the floor.

"She's given up too much power," Sailor Astera shouted over the blaze of the attack, "I have to save her!" Demitrius watched in horror as Sailor Astera threw herself into the blue flames. A bright purple light erupted from her golden tiara as she embraced the Sailor Obsidia and tried to free her from the flames.

It quickly became apparent that she would not succeed.

"Sailor Moon!" Sailor Mars said, "can you do anything?"

Sailor Moon shook her head sadly, "I've used all the power I can to heal Astera," she said, "if I go on..."

Demitrius turned to Tuxedo Mask and their eyes met with understanding. "Anything to save her," was all he said softly before he too lunged into the core of the attack.

Golden light rays suddenly burst from the attack in every direction. A bubble of violet light blasted from the center of the attack and grew until it filled the entire space, sending the remaining outer structure of the walls falling to the ground. Sailor Moon clutched Tuxedo Mask as a bright white light from the full moon burst from the clouds above. She shielded her eyes as she tried to see. Could anyone have survived that explosion?

The white light silhouetted the figures floating just outside the edge of the broken building. The senshi stepped aside as Sailor Moon walked forward towards them. "Sailor Astera?" she asked.

The light around them faded slightly. Demitrius touched down back onto the floor. In his arms he held a unconscious dark haired girl wrapped in his cloak. Tuxedo Mask walked forward to help the weakened guardian with the weight. Sailor Moon looked to the other figure and was quite surprised at what she saw.

Atop her head a golden halo spun slowly. At its center, a pure white lotus flower floated emanating a holy light. Sailor Moon looked into the clear light purple eyes, then tried to see the new soldier's outfit. However, before she or the others were able to get a good look at it, a bright light surrounded the new soldier and hid her from view once again. When she returned, her form had changed once again.

Sailor Astera landed softly beside Demitrius and nodded to him with affection. Her outfit was something between her healed appearance and the form of which the others had just caught a glimpse. Her purple skirt was lined with a thick golden striped, while a mesh lace petticoat rippled below it. Within her light purple brooch, the symbol of Astera glimmered as three pronged purple bows fluttered into place around it. Tri-petaled lotus symbols adorned her purple boots and golden tiara. Her long, thin bow tails glistened with golden light in the moonlight and her sheer light purple sleeves echoed the shape of her bows as they lifted slightly in the breeze. She raised her gloved hands to brush the dark hair away from the forehead of the girl Tuxedo Mask now held.

"What happened?" Sailor Mercury asked, "Is that Sailor Obsidia?"

Sailor Astera went to Demitrius and clasped his hand, "On the planet of Astera, my father Yukio took my powers away from me. From my soul, he withdrew half of the powers of a soldier and replaced the missing part with his dark power. This girl was an innocent bystander. Adopted by the King, she was meant to be a pawn in his game, a back up for his plan. Half of my powers were bestowed upon her without her request or consent. Supplemented by his dark energy, she was able to take on the form of Sailor Obsidia. In all that time, her true spirit remained trapped within her obsidian stone."

"The power of her attack shattered the stone," Demitrius said, "when the dark energy was released, her true spirit returned."

"My full powers have now been reunited within my soul, the essence of the soldier of Astera is whole again," Sailor Astera concluded.

"So, will Obsidia - I mean, Anya - live?" Sailor Moon asked gratefully.

Sailor Astera nodded, "But she will need a new name, someone to guide her reborn soul."

"Wait," Sailor Venus said, "you aren't staying?"

"There's no way I could," she replied, "the core of my powers is still signifigantly weakened. I have no planet to call home, no place to defend. My mission is a mystery now; I will return to the source of all things to seek my destiny. This time, my powers are whole and I can make the journey."

"You won't go alone," Demitrius said. "I have so much for which I need to repent. I will go with you."

"You could both call Earth home," Sailor Moon suggested, throwing her arms wide in welcome. The other soldiers nodded in reply, but they could see that Astera would not be persuaded to stay.

"I hope you understand," she said, "there is something else I have to seek out there." She turned and looked towards the star spattered sky, the others gazed into the endless night. Sailor Astera turned back to the dark haired girl and placed a loving kiss on her cheek. "Will you watch over her for me?" she asked. Sailor Moon nodded in reply. "Thank you so much," Astera said, "for everything."

"You are always welcome here," Sailor Moon said, reaching out to touch Astera's hand. The two soldiers clasped their fingers together silently for a moment. Then, with a smile, Sailor Astera and Demitrius floated off the edge of the building into the bright moonlight.

"There is so much darkness in the universe, Sailor Moon," she said, "your presence is our beacon of hope." With that, she and Demitrius wrapped their arms around one another. Their auras became one and in a streak of lavender light into the glimmering night, they were gone.


Epilogue

"Kiyoko! Are you here?" Usagi called out through the open sliding door into the temple.

"I'll be right there!" a happy voice called out from inside somewhere, "just give me a second." Usagi smiled and sat down to wait. Today marked the fifth day since Kiyoko had been saved from her father's dark powers and released from the burden of flames that had been placed upon her. Kiyoko, Usagi thought, was the prefect choice for a new name, though it had been Rei's idea after all. Pure and clean was the perfect way to describe the girl that had been cleansed of all that darkness. She had been staying at the temple, but today the girls were taking her to her new home.

Rei came around the corner from the other side of the temple and was surprised to see Usagi there on time. "I talked to Grampa again this morning about leaving us alone today," she told Usagi. "He's really driving me crazy."

"He really wants Kiyoko to stay with you guys, huh?" Usagi said.

"Yeah, but for all the wrong reasons," Rei grumbled.

"Well, it was nice of him to find a job for her," Usagi said, "and a place to stay."

Rei smiled. "Yeah, the temple she's going to is really small, but the family that runs it is getting really old and they have no children. She will be greatly welcomed; they are old friends of Grampa."

"I would think any of Grampa's friends would be old..." Usagi said absentmindedly and they laughed as the dark blue haired girl popped out from the doorway.

"Ready to go!" Kiyoko said. Usagi and Rei were very happy to see her like this. It was really a miracle that she had come out of the whole ordeal. She remembered nothing of the battle or her early life; it was as if she had been truly given another chance. They had told her the stories about her past, but with variations that made it a little more plain and ordinary. As far as Kiyoko knew, her father and mother and sister had been killed in a large explosion caused by a meteor that had left her as the only survivor. To her, Sailor Obsidia had never existed. For Usagi, it was a little hard to lie to her, but they all knew it was for the best. This was the chance they had all lost: the chance to live a normal life.

"Are you guys okay?" Kiyoko asked, looking at their spaced out faces.

"Oh yeah, totally!" Usagi laughed, breaking out of her thoughts, "You ready?"

"Absolutely!" Kiyoko said with a big grin. She carried with her a small duffle bag full of the few things she had been given by the girls: a hair brush and blue ribbon from Minako, a temple robe from Rei, a cooking apron from Makoto, and a book from Ami (Managing with Math: A Beginner's Guide to Good Business!). Around her neck was clasped a golden chain with a simple pendant hanging from the bottom. Encased in the golden heart were two gems, an amethyst and an obsidian stone. This had been Usagi's gift. Kiyoko couldn't explain why, but this gift had been her favorite.

The temple was just as she had imagined, small and out of the way, but with enough visitors to keep them busy. Though she'd only been with the girls a few days and knew that they were just intermediary strangers helping her along in life, Kiyoko had felt a strong connection to them. It was a tearful goodbye.

"You know, we're going to be around," Rei said. "I promised Grampa I would come by a few days a week to help you learn the ropes."

"Really?" Kiyoko asked.

"Of course!" Usagi said, "we're friends now, right?"

Kiyoko nodded, "Yeah, we definitely are. Thank you so much for all you're doing for me. Really," she said, "I would be completely lost without you. I know my family must be very grateful to you as well."

"Most of them, maybe.." Usagi said kind of awkwardly which resulted in an elbow jab from Rei.

"Well anyway!" Rei said laughing and changing the subject, "you know where to find me! I will be back tomorrow afternoon!" Kiyoko smiled and nodded and the girls said goodbye. Rei and Usagi then proceeded back to the temple to meet up with the other girls and the cats who were just arriving.

"How did it go?" Minako asked.

"She settled in all right?" Makoto added.

"Yep, all is well," Usagi said, plopping down on the porch.

"Do you think we are doing the right thing," Ami asked, "you know, by not telling her the truth?"

"I think so," Luna said, "for now anyway. Maybe as time goes by, we can start to reveal some of it to her. But at this time I think it would be just too much for her. She needs time to find herself again."

"If experience tells us anything, she will probably start to remember some of it on her own," Usagi added. "But I think we are doing the right thing. She will be okay, we'll make sure of that."

"So," Minako said, "What's the meeting for?"

"Well," Artemis said, "nothing specific to discuss, we just thought it would be nice to get together without a lot of hard work to do."

"Yeah?" Usagi said, "Sounds great!" She laid back on the porch and stared up at the lazy clouds floating by.

After a few moments of silence, Ami broke the lazy silence. "You know, I read an article in Science Today this morning that caught my interest."

"Oh?" Luna said. "What about?"

"Researchers in Astronomy are suggesting that there may be planets that exist in our solar system that we aren't aware of yet. It kind of reminded me of, you know, certain theories we've already heard. But this time, it's being talked about seriously." Usagi sat up.

"Yeah, but I don't think we have anything to worry about," Minako said with enthusiastic optimism. "Just because there's a planet, that doesn't mean there's a soldier. Look at Saturn, and the other planets out there! Other than that surprise of meeting Sailor Pluto, there are no other sailor senshi!"

"Yeah," Makoto said, "that's a good point. I'm sure she would've mentioned it."

"Excellent," Usagi said, laying back down on the porch, "Then, I guess we've got nothing to worry about."

The End!