Story: The Awakening of Love and Fire (chapter 1)

Authors: KaitonLocke

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Chapter 1

Title: Love and Fire: Reborn

Mars watched on in horror as Venus' left shoulder was pierced by one of the grotesque claw-like appendages of the creature before them. Her heart nearly stopped cold as the blond senshi fainted from the pain and blood loss, the reality of their mortal lives still raw in her memory. They'd already lost Mercury, no, their friend, Ami.

“Tch, still alive. No matter. The lot of you will be dead soon anyway. Might as well savor the ecstasy of killing each of you slowly.” The creature gloated, its voice akin to the sound of gravel in a blender. Its massive jaw was lined with two rows of jagged and sharp pointed teeth. It tossed Venus into the face of a nearby dumpster, with enough force to severely dent the metal waste container. The monster retracted its dual jointed arm tipped with razor-sharp 'claws'. The 'skin' of its body was a ghastly orange color, with many bumps and protrusions covering its hardened 'shell'. The thing looked like a reject from the Ninja Turtles. “A fitting place for human cattle with a superiority complex.”

“Space Sword Blaster!” Uranus bellowed, her attack glancing off the armored 'shell' covering the torso of the creature. Everything they had thrown at it so far had absolutely no effect at all. “Dammit!”

The creature scoffed at the useless attempt to harm it. “Your efforts are in vain, human. I am above your species in every way. Our race will devour this planet, destroying all who would stand in our way.”

Saturn charged, the Silence Glaive tucked against the back of her shoulder, the wickedly curving blade held centimeters from the ground. Sliding to a stop a meter from the creature, she twisted the Glaive in an upward arc, her intent to cleave the repulsive thing in half. The sharp curved blade of the senshi's pole-arm slid across the creature's 'shell' with no damage being made to the hardened surface at all. Only her instincts kept the creatures 'claw' from impacting her torso as she parried the appendage with the middle of her Glaive. She leapt away from the monster, hoping to create an opening for one of the other senshi.

“Deep Submerge!” Neptune shouted, her voice as violent as the raging sea. A massive gout of water slammed into the torso of the creature, pushing it back a few meters, but leaving no visible signs of damage at all.

The creature released another of its grinding chuckles. “You 'senshi' are truly fools.” It grumbled. “It is unwise to continue this folly of a battle, when nothing you do can harm me or any of my kin. I do not understand how you managed to slay Kromus, because nothing I have seen here should have killed her. Truly pathetic you lot are.”

“Crescent Beam.” The barely conscious Venus whispered, her body still prone against the dented metal dumpster. Her magical energy beam deflecting off the 'shell' of the creature. It did not deter her as she continued to fire Crescent Beam after Crescent Beam into the exact same spot on the creature's 'shell'.

“Venus!” Sailor Moon cried. “What are you thinking attacking this monster in your condition!?”

Mars' horror grew as she watched the creature slowly and steadily advanced on the blond senshi who only had the strength to sit there and continue to fire her attacks at the turtle-like monster approaching her. The fear of losing Minako consumed the fire senshi's awareness and soul. Every fiber of her being was screaming at her to attack this monster who hurt the one she loved, but her mind could not heed the desire to protect Venus. The memories of all their attacks having no effect on it were overriding the urge to hit it with every drop of power remaining in her body. Yet, deep within her soul, something woke. No matter what had happened before, she could not let Venus die. It would crush her beyond recovery. She had to do something to stop this horrible travesty that was unfolding before her.

“Dead Scream.” A fluctuating dark pink ball of magical and temporal energy streaked towards the turtle-like being, impacting it squarely on the left side, pushing it off it's advancing course toward the prone Venus. Pluto appeared from an alley way, her Garnet Rod still poised to fire. Her crimson eyes narrowed, daring the creature to move toward the blond senshi once more.

“So, there are more of you than our reports indicated,” The 'turtle' monster mused in it's graveled voice. “And yet, two of you are missing. It would seem that the rumor of Kromus having killed one of you is true. And I haven't seen this 'Goddess of Lightning' the scouts reported yet.”

At the mention of the death of their friend, all of the senshi's faces contorted into scowls of rage. Like a raging flood, a furious wave of anger filled Rei's body. The 'voice' in her soul screeched with overwhelming volume. Almost immediately, Mars' anger overrode her fear, and a surge of immeasurable power filled her being. As her fury consumed her, spheres of fire winked into being around her. An enormous circle of flames erupted, it's heat forcing all of the other senshi to back away from the raven-haired senshi of fire. The sigil for Mars appeared suddenly, and burned with an intense light on Rei's forehead. One by one, the spheres of fire collided with her fuku, evoking a spectacular metamorphosis. Like Jupiter's, Mars' skirt elongated and changed from cloth to a leather-like hide, and metallic armor plates replaced the pleating of the fabric. Her body suit and bows gained a metallic sheen as they, too, were interwoven with threads of the same resilient metal. Again, the collar thickened, the fabric morphing into interlocked armor plates similar to the skirt. Her gloves shortened from the elbow length till they were to mid-forearm, the color and sheen matching that of the body suit. They ended with a band of armored metal identical to the armor plates of the skirt and collar. Her Tiara thickened while the jewel in the center of it and the jewel in the bow adorning her chest grew, both gaining a living flame in the shape of the Mars Sigil.

The circle of flame contracted, and lifted off of the ground. As it rose, Mars' eyes opened, to reveal hard, violet irises, her anger and determination radiating from them, visible to all present persons. The circle gathered in the upturned palm of her right hand, her arm slowly extending to it's full length. Once her right arm was fully extended, the circle of fire flashed brightly, blinding the senshi and the creature. When they could see again, in Mars' right hand was a circle of some silvery metal, with bands of red and gold intertwining carvings forming an intricate pattern. There was a handle through the middle of the circle, which is where Rei was holding it.

“Mars...” Venus coughed, her voice weak from blood loss.

Rei turned her eyes to the wounded blond. She took a step with her left foot, and then with a quick flex of her right leg, seemed to teleport next to the Senshi of Love. “Hush, Venus.” Mars ordered her softly, as she took a knee next to the blond. She held out her left hand, and a small flame filled her palm for a second. When it disappeared, a small, round orange and gold disc sat in her open palm. She placed it against the jewel broach on Venus' chest. She rose from her crouch, and turned toward the still stunned senshi and 'turtle' creature. The metal ring in her right hand seemed to vibrate for a couple of seconds, then a 'blade' of pure fire erupted from the side facing the creature. Without a word, she charged.

Venus was confused by the action her friend took by placing the odd disc on her jewel broach. For some reason, a small 'voice' in the back of her mind told her she knew what the disc was, but she ignored it. She tried to figure out what it's purpose was, when it suddenly began emitting a pulsing glow which enveloped both the disc and her jewel. They pulsed in sync with one another, and Venus was suddenly filled by a very familiar and warm energy. The hole in her shoulder began to knit together, as the color returned to her skin. Minako rose to her feet and flexed her hands experimentally. Her left hand rose to the disc attached to her jewel and it fell into her palm the second her fingers touched its smooth surface.

Mars charged the creature who had harmed the jewel of her heart with a cold fury burning in her soul. The vile being had dared to harm her Venus. It would pay, and she would broil it from the inside out. The “turtle'-creature turned to face her, raising its left arm, ready to run it through the transformed senshi charging at him. Mars' lip curled into a triumphant smirk, the monster had reacted as she had wanted. Once in range, the monster began to thrust its right 'claw' toward Mars, only for her to nearly vanish from its sight. It bellowed in outrage and pain as the 'claw', and the arm it was attached to, erupted in a hail of gore and blood. The appendage was severed perfectly in two from tip to shoulder. Mars stood behind the monster, the blade of her weapon mere centimeters from the back of the creature's skull.

“You underestimate us 'humans', monster.” Mars scoffed coldly. “Us 'humans' are a very emotionally driven race. Push us hard enough, and those emotions drive us over an edge and we 'evolve' as a person or as a race. As you can see, you pushed me a little too far and my power exceeds anything you had imagined for what you called 'cattle'. Your 'comrade', Kromus was it, killed someone important to us. That friend's death had far more impact on one of the other senshi, the one your scouts referred to as the 'Goddess of Lightning', and she evolved much in same the way I did. Only difference is, the full evolution came after she destroyed the one you call Kromus.”

The 'turtle'-like creature began to realize that toying with these senshi had been his ultimate mistake. He knew he would die here, and nothing he did would make a difference with the power this fire wielding one obviously controlled. He was ashamed to have to activate such a measure, but they had no information on the power that lay dormant within these young warriors. Now that he'd witnessed and felt the power of the flame princess, he could see a dam of hidden power in each of the others around him, and his new sight told him that the flame princess wasn't going to be the only one to awaken to her power in this battle.

Venus gazed at her reflection in the polished surface of the small orange and gold colored disc that lay in the palm of her gloved hand. The 'voice' in the back of her mind grew in volume and felt like it was coming from not only her mind, but her soul as well. The warmth of the power she felt as her wound was healed slowly grew until it filled her entire being. A memory flashed in her mind and she knew her true self.

Mars noticed a dim orange-gold light beginning to emit from the other side of the creature. She smiled softly at the return of a long forgotten bond reforming in her heart. She could feel Venus and the fountain of emotions bubbling within the Senshi of Love. She chuckled mentally at the lecture she was going to get once this creature was dead, but it was worth it.

Venus exhaled sharply as the power erupted from her body. A pillar of orange-gold light enveloped her and shot off into the cloudy night sky, illuminating the whole block and the people of minato-ku felt a torrent of long buried love and friendship surging forth through their souls. The senshi were once again stunned into silence as Venus' power awakened and her fuku quickly transformed just as Jupiter's and Mars' had done before. The broach and gem on her tiara filled with a flickering light in the shape of the Venus sigil. Like Jupiter, her gloves had become fingerless. Unlike the previous transformations, the disc Mars had given Venus had become the centerpiece of the guard of a sword. Venus' eyes shot open and a blade of orange-gold magical energy surged forth from the hilt held in her left hand.

Mars' lowered her blade of flame and walked around the creature and over toward the newly awakened Venus. She gave the Senshi of Love a bright smile and took a stance on her right hand side. “It's been too long.” She whispered softly. “It's wonderful to remember everything again isn't it?”

“Later.” Venus replied shortly. “We'll finish this, and then we'll have a nice long talk.”

Mars' winced a bit at the thinly veiled anger she heard in Venus' voice. She knew it was going to be a long night.

The two awakened senshi glared at the 'turtle'-like being in front of them. They took slow strides toward the one armed creature and it tried to stand its ground as waves of overwhelming power wafting from the two women washed over him, generating a new, boundless fear within him. He knew that even if he ran, his death was all but already carried out. He only had one chance to gather the information he need to send to his superiors as to make his failure to kill these senshi have a silver lining.

“Before you end my life,” the creature began, “there is one thing I'd like to know about you.”

Mars' teeth ground together as her fury resurfaced. “I have nothing to say to you, monster. You attacked innocents and hurt my beloved. Your death will be excruciating.”

Venus' rage was far more controlled than the Senshi of Fire. “Ask quickly, or your chance will be lost, villain.”

“Who, exactly, are you senshi?” the turtle-like creature inquired.

Venus' eyes narrowed further. “We told you who we are once before, and yet you ask that question?”

“You two are not just 'senshi'.” the creature spat, angrily. “I may look like a monster to you, but I am far from unintelligent. I can sense your power is greater than any 'human' could truly possess. So, I ask again, 'senshi'. Who exactly are you?”

Mars growled and the 'blade' in her hand grew large and far hotter. “I am done with questions. I sensed you activating some sort of magic after I took your arm off. I can't figure out what it is for, but I know it is there. With you asking such a question, I have a clue as to the purpose of that magic. I will not give you a shred of information you seek. Now, your death is at hand. Prepare to feel physical pain nearly equivalent to the emotional suffering you and your 'comrade' have caused us.”

Mars and Venus locked eyes and both stood still for a brief few seconds. Then, their forms blurred and shot towards the turtle-like creature before them. They came to a stop a meter or so behind the monster, the two blades held in their hands nearly crossed. As Venus' blade of magic and Mars' blade of fire vanished, the creature's body erupted in a shower of gore as a pair of slashes formed in an 'X' shape on the torso of the slain creature. It quickly disintegrated into a pile of dust and was swept away into the wind.

Pluto sighed loudly and banished the Garnet Rod into her subspace pocket. She tiredly rubbed the bridge of her nose. “I hope these transformations won't keep happening as they have. It is a welcome improvement, yet the timing is rather horrible. Come everyone, we need to have a meeting on this battle. Outer's mansion, one hour.” With her declaration, Pluto walked toward the other three outer senshi.

Saturn took up a place on Pluto's left, and leaned in toward the older and currently much taller Senshi of Time. “Setsuna-mama,” the Senshi of Death and Rebirth began, “why are we going to host a senshi meeting instead of having it at Rei's shrine, like usual?”

Pluto sighed again. “Think about it for a second, firefly.” She replied softly. “Rei and Minako just transformed like Makoto did when Ami died. What do you think they'll end up doing after Minako finishes giving Rei a lecture?”

Saturn, the surge of adrenaline starting to fade, pondered the older senshi's words for a moment. As she came to a conclusion, her face flushed bright red and she began staring at the ground.

Uranus, seeing Saturn's bright red face and having heard the end of Pluto's reply, chuckled lightly. “Pluto, I don't think an hour will be long enough for those two.”

Neptune, elbowed her lover in the ribs. “Haruka, behave.” She hissed. “Otherwise, I'll cancel tonight's plans.”

Uranus balked and hung her head. “I'll be good, Michi.”

Pluto smiled softly at the antics of her housemates. It faded quickly though, and her eyes gained a far off look as she retreated into herself.

Saturn, sensing the change in the woman beside her, took the older senshi's hand. “It'll all get better, Setsuna-mama. We'll just have wait until Makoto gets back.”

Pluto gave another half smile to the senshi whom she had come to adore as her adopted daughter. “Thank you, firefly.”

Saturn smiled up at the Senshi of Time softly. She followed her other two adoptive mothers as they headed toward the parking lot in which Haruka had parked the bright yellow sports sedan which had been purchased almost immediately after the youngest Outer Senshi had been adopted into the group. The group walked through a hidden pathway to de-transform, followed shyly by Moon.

Haruka glanced behind her partner and their 'family' and smirked when she noticed their princess tailing them. “Need a ride, Koneko?”

Usagi flushed bright red at Haruka's joking tone. “I don't think I can be around Minako and Rei right now. I could feel their emotions rolling off them after the transformations. It'd be so embarrassing to be the third wheel. I'm afraid that something in me is changing every time one of the senshi re-awakens.”

Setsuna froze at the final words the odango-haired blond muttered. “Oh goddess' alive, that cannot be happening. She promised that she'd sealed that facet of magic within the senshi's star seeds and the Ginsuishou!” She hissed softly to herself. “Senny, if you lied to me, our next 'visit' will not be a pleasant one, you hear me?”

In a different plane of existence, a silver-haired woman stiffened suddenly, and cursed under her breath. “Why couldn't you keep your mouth shut, daughter?”

Another woman looked oddly at the first. “What are you muttering about, Selene?”

'Selene' sighed dramatically, “My reborn daughter just ratted me out to Setsuna, Sif.”

The Norse goddess laughed heartily at the former Queen's plight. “Should've either told her the truth about the crystal and exactly how limited your control actually was, or actually tried to use it to do as she asked. Now, you are seriously in for it, Selene.”

Selene pouted childishly, “I can't help the fact that the blasted Ginsuishou is as fickle as it is. I did everything I could to bond with it, but the stubborn thing refused to bond with the soul of an Immortal, no matter how convincing my mortal form may have been.”

Sif just chuckled loudly again and walked away from the still pouting Silver-haired goddess and mentally made a note to look in on the next 'visit' between the green haired Guardian of the Time Gates and the wayward Selene.

Hotaru gazed at her adoptive parent worriedly, as she had never witnessed the normally stoic woman talk to herself before. A whisper in the recesses of her mind made her think for a second that she should actually be laughing about this, but she shook it off and her mind was filled with concern at the odd behavior.

Meanwhile, Haruka and Michiru had begun a silent conversation that only lovers could. They came to a mutual conclusion that they would need to speak with their green-haired housemate and co-parent after the senshi meeting was finished. Michiru had firmly instructed Haruka to go to to the supermarket after dropping off everyone with a list and had implied certain conditions if anything were to be forgotten. Haruka sighed to herself mentally, and seriously began to wonder just when she had become wrapped around Michiru's, and Hotaru's for that matter, finger.

Usagi smiled softly at the byplay between her Outer Senshi. She may not have been able to connect well enough with them to 'hear' the conversation, but she felt their mental link and knew that Haruka might be in trouble with her Aqua-haired lover later. She chuckled to herself and her smile grew a bit larger. Ami might be gone, for now at least, but she still felt the souls of all her senshi, and knew that after everything, they would all be together again. She just had to be patient. Briefly, she began to recall how her newest abilities started awakening. That brought back the memories of having to relate the tale of Ami's death to her mother, Dr. Sumika Mizuno. The emotional backlash she felt from the distraught woman unleashed a tidal wave of latent psionic powers within Usagi. So far, however, it only was harmonized to her family, the Senshi, and the families of her Senshi. She could feel their emotions, hear some of their thoughts, but the second was come and go and she consciously tried to filter that power. She sighed softly at the thought that the Senshi's true powers only had been brought to the forefront after the death of a friend and fellow senshi. Usagi shook off the sadness that had begun settling on her to try and appear a little more like her cheerful self, but the memories stayed close, just behind the facade.

The Outer Senshi, and one odangoed princess, drove off at one of Haruka's more sedate paces, not saying that it still didn't leave Usagi and the others with a bit of an adrenaline pumping through their systems, toward the Outer's home. The ride was comfortably quiet, with each of the car's occupants happy to leave each other to their own thoughts. It didn't take too long for them to arrive at a moderately large estate, which Setsuna had used some of her own methods and sources to procure for the small, sudden family. As they entered, you could tell the design of the interior was left to Setsuna and Michiru's, their tastes blending harmoniously. A flair of Haruka's style was noticable in some places, as were the small additions of Hotaru's interests, but everything felt so warm and homely. Usagi always loved coming to the Outer's home, it always felt as warm and welcoming as her own. Not that she hated going to Hikawa Jinja, but this made her feel as though she were protected and safe. Haruka departed for the store almost immediately after they had arrived, but Usagi pretended not to notice. She wondered what Minako and Rei were up to for a moment, when she felt a small spike in their emotions which left her with reddened cheeks

Mars and Venus swiftly leapt over rooftops, headed for the home of the Fire Senshi. Their trip was silent as well, but Mars knew that as soon as they de-transformed, she was in for an earful. But the knowledge of the forthcoming lecture did not dampen the feelings of joy at the return of the long lost bond between her and the Senshi of Love. Even if Venus was angry with her, she could still feel the same joy in her partner and knew that once Venus was through with lecturing her as both a leader, and a worried lover, they would renew a vow that had been buried with the memories of their former lives.

They came to a halt in the small thicket of trees surrounding the hilltop shrine and their power and uniforms of their station as Senshi faded. Minako whirled on Rei with a lost look in her eyes. Tears had begun to well up in the blond's eyes and Rei felt her heart tighten with the knowledge that they were caused by her. The raven-haired miko took a step toward her love, only to be halted mid-step by a half-hearted slap from the emotional blond.

“How could you do something like that in the middle of a battle?” Minako accused.

“I'm sorry,” Rei answered softly. “It was they only way I could think of to save you. I knew I couldn't lose you. Not after Ami....”

“The promise you made to me about never returning that sword means nothing to you?” Minako hissed angrily. “I asked you, above everything else, never to use that disc to help me.”

Rei's eyes burned painfully with tears as she fought to keep from crying at what her lover had asked her to do with her dying breaths in their last lives. “I lost you once, you died in my arms asking that of me. I kept my word then, but I couldn't do it again. I knew if I did, I'd be useless to Usagi and the others. I need you Minako, and losing you would have killed me too.”

Minako's anger began to fade as she watched the normally stoic Senshi of Fire fall to her knees and begin sobbing openly. She closed her own eyes as flashes of the last battle on the moon replayed in her mind. She knew that asking Mars then, not to use the one thing that could save her life, would hurt the raven-haired woman deeply, but she had never known that she would be asked to make such a decision a second time. The blond knelt beside Rei and wrapped her arms around the crying miko tenderly.

“Reiko,” Minako whispered “I'm so sorry I asked you to do something like that, but I had to, as the leader of the Inner Senshi. If you were more worried about saving me, Beryl would have gotten to Queen Serenity before she could have finished preparing the final spell which allowed us to live again, and seal Beryl with Metallia. I never knew that you'd have the chance to save me again. I am grateful you chose to keep me.”

Rei's sobbing eased slightly, and the raven-haired girl gazed up at the blond. “I will always choose you, Minako. I can't let you leave me like that again. It was painful enough to do once, so asking me to let you die a second time would be the same as asking me cut out my own heart and stomp on it. I love you, Senshi and Princess of Venus, Demi-Goddess of Love.”

Minako couldn't help but let a few tears fall with the words from the woman she loved. “I love you as well, my pyro preistess, Senshi and Princess of Mars, the Demi-Goddess of Fire.”

The two closed their eyes, closing the space between them till their bodies were pressed tightly together. Their lips met in a chaste kiss, which quickly evolved into something deeper, and more passionate. The pulled at each other desperately, acting as if they let one another go, the other would disappear. Quickly though they pried apart, the need for air overpowering their desire. The two quickly ran out of the thicket and into the miko's bedroom in the shrine. They occupied themselves with one another, sating a long forgotten, and recently repressed need for each other. Once recovered from the haze, the pair scrambled to get ready for the meeting which they had forgotten about and were now late for. They laughed quietly to each other as they again trsansformed into their alter egos and roof-hopped toward the Outer's mansion across the ward. Haruka gave them a knowing wink as they entered the home with matching blushes.

“Now that eveyone's here, we can begin.” Pluto stated tersely.

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