Sailor Moon Fan Fiction ❯ Absence ❯ Trial By Fire ( Chapter 23 )

[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
Absence - By Kirika


Chapter twenty-three. My university classes seem hard. The only reason I can maintain the usual rate of updates right now is because there are no labs or tutorials for the first two weeks.

Rei has been having it too easy. I think she can suffer more.


- Kirika


Chapter 23 - Trial By Fire

Rei walked into her bedroom, a towel around her body and another piled on top of her head, having just had a bath. A flash of lightning illuminated the interior of her dark room for a brief moment, creating ominous shadows that reminded the Fire Senshi of the battle with Rodoth in Tsubasa's apartment. Her calf with its line of four nearly healed stab wounds twitched involuntarily at the memory. Rei switched on her lamp, lighting the room and dispelling the darkness. She then closed the sliding door to her bedroom, after making sure Yuuichirou wasn't hiding outside waiting to peep at her while she got changed. He had been continuing with his weird behaviour, always spying on her or hanging 'inconspicuously' around. Rei suspected Yuuichirou was building up the nerve to ask her out again, or maybe declare his undying love… again. Well, she had been gone for two weeks. There was a saying, wasn't there? Something to do with absence and the heart. Rei was resolved to let the man down easy however… she was familiar with how rejection felt.

Rei spared a glance out her window at the dark clouds in the night sky. It looked like a storm was coming. The miko then wandered over to her dresser and pulled off the towel covering her body. Most of her injuries had almost completely healed in the past few days, with the exception of the Crescent Beam burn and the old stab wound in her side. The stab wound was still tender, and Rei had to keep bandaging it in fear that the deep gouge could still split open. The Fire Senshi grabbed a roll of bandages and a medical pad, and proceeded to dress the wound carefully. She was glad it was the only wound that needed dressings; it had been hard to hide some of the bandages when she wore her school uniform, especially with its short skirt. Rei's classmates had grilled her about how she had injured her legs, and she had given them the same explanation that she had given her Grandpa and Yuuichirou: a building had fallen on her. This had caused the girls to wait on her even more, and with Rei's improving attitude, she had been happy to let them.

Rei finished her bandaging and let out a content sigh as she stretched her right arm, pleased to feel that the stiffness was gone from her shoulder. Perhaps Usagi's soothing hands massaging the joint had had something to do with it, at least, that's what Rei liked to think. At the thought of the girl, Rei looked over to her dressing table where the new picture of her and her princess sat. Both girls in the framed photograph appeared full of joy, Usagi especially. It had been a good day when the photo had been taken, the Senshi of Fire just 'back from the dead' so to speak and before all of her secrets had been bared. Although the past few days had also been somewhat enjoyable to the miko's surprise, even if they had seemed long.

The last few days had passed by at a crawl for Rei. Most of the Fire Senshi's free time had been spent with Usagi, usually just the two of them. While she adored the time they were together, it always contained an undercurrent of despair. However, Rei still made a conscious effort to try and be happy, or at least appear so to placate Usagi. And it seemed to be working. Usagi didn't look like she was uncomfortable in her best friend's presence, despite the raven-haired girl's feelings. In fact, they were as close as ever. Rei was beginning to feel like her normal self again, not completely, but she was starting to let go of the vicious coldness inside of her. If Rei let her mind drift when with Usagi, she could almost imagine it was like old times once more. Usagi refrained from any physical contact with the miko, however. While Rei missed her princess's touches, her hugs, and the feel of her soft silky skin… it was probably for the best.

Rei and Usagi had visited Michiru at the hospital the woman was staying at. The injured Outer Senshi had been pleased to see Rei in the flesh, confirming that the girl was in fact alive. They had brought Michiru grapes, as was supposedly traditional for people in hospital, except that Usagi ate most of them before they ever reached the older senshi. Michiru hadn't seemed to mind though; she had said that it was the thought that had counted. Rei and Usagi had also visited Minako regularly, and the pair had been glad to see that she was making a speedy recovery. The Senshi of Love had been worried that her unnatural healing ability would attract too much attention from the doctors and nurses, and was resolved to leave the hospital as soon as possible. Mamoru was also at the same hospital as Minako, his wounds from the previous battle severe enough to warrant professional medical attention. Usagi didn't bring Rei along to visit him, however. But Rei was glad of that fact.

Ami and Makoto occasionally accompanied Rei and her princess out on their daily trips, but made an obvious attempt to keep the loving gestures to a minimum when the Fire Senshi was in sight. Ami had no doubt told her tall girlfriend exactly why Rei had left Tokyo over two weeks ago. Makoto had even given a heartfelt apology for the way she had acted towards the miko, and for striking her back at the hotel. Rei had readily accepted Makoto's apology, and had given the brunette's girlfriend a searching glare to which the blue-haired genius had merely responded by blushing and guiltily averting her gaze. Yes, there was no doubt Ami had told Makoto everything. While Rei appreciated her two friends efforts to play down their relationship, the bond between the two Inner Senshi was hard to ignore. There would always be things like meaningful glances, a slight brush of their hands, the way they sat so near to each other… all of which just helped to remind Rei of her pain. But she never said anything; the Fire Senshi would have to get over Usagi at some point in time.

The nights were still occupied by youma activity. Rei had been in several skirmishes, but they had seemed to be merely half-hearted efforts, the youma fleeing without too much provocation. The youma encountered reminded the Fire Senshi of some of the kinds she had fought against back in Yokohama at the Ragnarok nightclub. The creatures there hadn't been very courageous; more scholars than warriors. Nevertheless, Rei couldn't brush the feeling that the small fights she and the other Sailor Senshi had been in recently had just been diversion tactics, or simply tests, not the enemy's real effort at all. She sensed that something was coming, and it wasn't the storm outside her window…


Aiaia marched in front the three youma under her command for the latest mission as thunder crashed outside. Her metal boots clomped loudly on the wooden floor of the library, small blemishes appearing in the pine floorboards with each heavy footstep. The time had finally come for Aiaia to avenge her love. Thrinakie had charged her with the task of collecting something that belonged to each Sailor Senshi, but the vengeful youma wasn't interested in that. She was out to kill them all, with special preference to three in particular. Especially the Sailor Senshi that had delivered the mortal blow to Lady Laodameia. Aiaia would make that human suffer greatly before she begged for a merciful death.

Aiaia had been watching the Sailor Senshi carefully as they battled against each youma party sent against them. The parties had only consisted of Thrinakie's lowliest youma with the least skill, ones with little offensive spells and usually no defences. Mere fodder. The armoured youma had taken note of each Sailors' specific powers and skills, and also of any meaningful relationships between any of them. She was pleased with the knowledge she had gained. And with the new wards Kolkhis had applied to her armour to counter each and every one of the Sailor Senshis' attacks.

"Remember my orders," snarled Aiaia as she stopped her marching, whirling on her small company of youma, "you know which three humans are mine alone; you will attack only to occupy them. The rest are fair game. Let's go."

Aiaia stalked to the exit of the library, her long, thick, white braids bouncing off her metal back behind her, the occasional flashes of lightning in the windows painting her rune covered armour in a sinister light. The experienced spell-weaving group of youma looked at one another uneasily, and then jogged after her.


Sailor Mars ran along side Sailor Moon as they travelled to Sailor Mercury's location, answering her call for assistance. Youma had been detected near an apartment building construction site in a relatively isolated area of Minato-ku. Mercury and Jupiter had already engaged, while the remaining three active Sailor Senshi were on their way.

"Not far now," puffed Sailor Moon as she ran down the sandy alley that led to the construction site.

"Yeah," answered Sailor Mars, thinking that maybe it was time one of the Inner Senshi got a car. And learnt how to drive.

Jagged bolts of lightning streaked the dark cloudy skies above the two senshi followed by a rumble of thunder, making Sailor Moon's face twist into a fearful expression. Mars was aware that the blonde was not a big fan of thunder.

"Why did youma have to show up tonight?! Don't they know when to stay indoors?" whined Sailor Moon, glancing apprehensively up at the stormy clouds as strong winds picked up, causing her twin tresses to wave about.

"We'll make sure to beat them up a little bit extra for it," replied Mars wryly. She was pleased that she hadn't said 'kill' or 'murder' instead.

Sailor Moon nodded before swallowing in trepidation as another clap of thunder rocked the skies.

The chatter ceased as Sailor Mars and Sailor Moon hard the cries of Sailor Jupiter and Sailor Mercury mixed with strange noises up ahead, behind a corrugated iron fence. The pair ran through an opening between the fence and into the apartment building construction yard. The yard had a yellow sand covered ground and was filled with the usual types of construction tools and materials: cinder blocks, wheelbarrows, steel girders, and similar items. The apartment itself was only in the frame structural stage, reaching about seven floors high.

Sailor Moon and Sailor Mars saw that Mercury and Jupiter were fighting against three youma, all dressed in cowled robes covered with arcane symbols. Some wielded staffs of varying designs. Mars recognised their fashion sense from the youma that had been at the Ragnarok nightclub. It was hard to make out the monsters' faces due to their hoods, but each pair of their hands were different. One had an aquamarine skin tone, with what looked like merely a mass of thin tentacles where its hands should be. The second had a human skin colour and hand structure, except there were numerous grotesque warts all over them. The final youma had hands that looked like it had a large dog's head grafted to both its wrists. That particular creature's hands snapped and snarled rabidly as it gestured with them in the air.

The battle appeared to be fast and furious, though only the two Sailors were doing any moving. The three youma had erected differently coloured, transparent spherical energy shields around themselves, protecting them from attacks while they launched their own, having no trouble firing through the shields. The youma mumbled and muttered under their breaths as they traced complex patterns in the air with their unique 'hands'. Sailor Mars was familiar with their methods of combat. While the shields were quite strong, they could only take a limited number of hits before collapsing. Also, sometimes a shield would only defend against certain types of attacks and let any others through. The robed youma did possess a variety of offensive capabilities however.

"About time you showed!" yelled Sailor Jupiter as she dodged a twinkling yellow energy ball.

"What? You can't beat three measly youma by yourselves?" retorted Mars sarcastically.

Sailor Jupiter just grunted something unintelligible in reply. "SPARKLING WIDE PRESSURE!"

The tall brunette threw a sphere of electricity at the youma with the tentacle hands, the one who had directed the twinkling globe attack at her. The ball smashed into a bluish shield and crackled all around it, but didn't seem to penetrate the youma's defences.

"Keep trying! The shields fail eventually!" offered Sailor Mars helpfully.

"Yes, she's right!" Mercury added, punching keys on her mini super computer as she looked at the three cowled youma through her blue visor. "Plus that one's shield can be bypassed by electricity!" she shouted, pointing at the dog-hands youma.

Before Jupiter could do anything, Sailor Moon flicked her wrist, and her Spiral Heart Moon Rod materialised in her hand. She posed in a fairly heroic stance.

"I'll take care of this!" she then declared confidently, the overall effect only dampened by her faint flinch at another clap of thunder. "MOON SPIRAL HE- Gak!"

Sailor Moon's attack command was cut off abruptly as Sailor Mars dived into her, pushing them both to the ground as a soundwave rippled over them, sending sand and bricks flying into the air. Sailor Mars looked up to where the blast had originated from while Sailor Moon coughed up mouthfuls of sand. Perched on a pile of red steel girders was the youma from Laodameia's hotel suite, still decked out in her midnight blue armour suit.

"You're not the only one whom Death cannot hold," she sneered, her fat white braids blowing wildly in the strong winds.

Sailor Mars and Sailor Moon looked on in shock as the youma leapt from the girders and onto the sandy ground. How could she have survived the fall from the hotel?!

Mars quickly scrambled to her feet, dragging Sailor Moon up with her, ready to meet the youma's attack. But it never came. Instead the armoured creature ran at Sailor Jupiter, who was currently occupied with a robed youma throwing green arrows from its blistered hands.

"Jupiter, look out!" warned Sailor Moon.

Sailor Jupiter turned just as the armoured youma screamed into her amplifier, blasting a soundwave at near point blank range into the senshi. Sailor Jupiter silently gasped as she slammed backwards into the concrete foundation of the apartment building, her breath being forcibly expelled from her lungs. But the youma didn't let up her assault and continued screaming, crushing the brunette between the sonic wave and the concrete foundation.

"Makoto!" Mercury screamed, dropping her mini super computer and retracting her visor. "SHINING AQUA ILLUSION!"

A geyser tore towards the shrieking youma, pounding into her upper back and spreading ice over her armour, part of the blue-skinned creature's neck and face being caught in the attack. The runes on the youma's armour glowed, shattering the ice and causing it to fall off onto the sandy ground. And still she didn't stop screaming into her amplifier, the frost partially encrusting her face no deterrent. Sailor Mars began to hear a cracking sound over the thunder and wind, and Jupiter's face scrunched up in agony.


Sailor Moon's attack phrase was interrupted as her Moon Rod was knocked from her grasp by a small blast of light from the tentacle-hand youma. The blonde dropped to the ground on her knees, desperate to retrieve it and help her friend. As she reached out for the rod, plant vines erupted from the sand around it and grabbed the weapon, dragging it deep into the ground.

"Oh no, NO!" Sailor Moon exclaimed in horror, fervently digging in the sand to retrieve her Moon Rod.

Sailor Mars glanced at the trio of youma; they didn't seem to be attacking anymore, merely simply supporting their armoured ally. That was fine with Mars.


A fireball rocketed towards the back of the screaming youma's head, certain to fry her brains, or at least set her white hair on fire. The boil-hand robed youma gestured frantically in the air, and Mars' fireball suddenly lost momentum, the strong winds from the coming storm blowing it apart and causing a myriad of small droplets of flame to float to the ground. Sailor Mars cursed loudly, and noticed Jupiter had lost consciousness. The Fire Senshi tried to ignore the trickles of blood that were leaking out the brunette's ears, nose, and open mouth.

By this point, Sailor Mercury was near hysterics, and realising her powers were useless, reached for a nearby brick. In an uncharacteristic display of strength and violence, she threw the brick with all her might at the armoured youma's head. The creature's scream cut off as she was clobbered in the back of the skull, releasing Sailor Jupiter from the makeshift vice. The senshi toppled forward limply and landed flat on her face in the sand, not moving. The heavily armoured youma shook her head to clear it, and then turned to face Mercury, a cold expression on her blue features.

"Now you know my pain…" she growled, her dead eyes boring into the Senshi of Water's.

Sailor Mercury merely looked at the youma and then down at her prone and motionless lover, eyes brimming with tears. The armoured youma laughed bitterly at Mercury and turned to Sailor Mars and Sailor Moon, the blonde having ceased digging in the sand, her own tears forming in her eyes at the sight of Sailor Jupiter.

"Come and get me," the youma challenged, before running into the apartment building's frame, starting to climb up the ramps to the upper levels.

Mars looked anxiously at her retreating form, then at the three passive youma, and then at Mercury who had crouched over the unmoving Jupiter, reaching out a trembling hand to the brunette. The Fire Senshi didn't know what to do.

"Go," Sailor Uranus' grim voice said from behind her, "I'll take care of them." Sailor Mars wasn't sure if she meant the three youma or Sailor Jupiter and Sailor Mercury.

Mars noticed Sailor Moon nod at the recently arrived Uranus out of the corner of her eye. The miko turned to her princess and debated whether to tell her to stay with Sailor Uranus, but she saw the stubborn look in her blue eyes. She was going with the Senshi of Fire no matter what.

"Let's hurry," Sailor Mars said to Sailor Moon, motioning with her head towards the apartment building frame.

Sailor Moon nodded again, and after taking a last look at Sailor Mercury and Sailor Jupiter over her shoulder, she ran to the frame with the miko.


Sailor Mars and Sailor Moon slogged up the ramps and ran along the gantries of the barely constructed apartment building, ready to leap into action at the instant they caught a glimpse of midnight blue armour. The wind whistled through the steel girders that helped to support the building's frame, drowning out the noise from Sailor Uranus' fight below with the three robed youma. Lightning still flashed in the skies above, and the rolling thunder was getting nearer and nearer. The storm was coming and it was almost upon them.

Sailor Mars glanced back at her princess, trying to keep the worried look from her features. Without the Spiral Heart Moon Rod, Mars wasn't sure what the two of them could do against the youma. The creature's armour seemed to be indestructible. She supposed they would burn that bridge when they came to it.

Sailor Mars ran up the highest ramp that led to the roof of the apartment frame. The top was basically simply a large square platform made out of wood, construction equipment and supplies littering the seven-storey high level. As Mars came out the opening in the roof, she was brutally kicked in her injured side, causing her to be thrown several feet across the wooden platform. Sailor Mars' face twisted in pain as she knelt on all fours, clutching at her side, the old stab wound weeping in torment and making her nauseous. She quickly looked to where Sailor Moon should be, hoping she had escaped danger, but saw her being grabbed around the throat by the armoured youma. The rune covered creature dragged Sailor Moon by the throat out of the ramp hole and up to the roof. The youma laced her free arm through Sailor Moon's, effectively pinning the girl's arms behind her back, rendering the blonde helpless in front of her.

Sailor Mars stumbled to her feet, her stomach doing flip-flops, not from her aggravated wound, but from concern for her princess. The Fire Senshi gasped as the youma squeezed Sailor Moon's throat tighter, with enough force to almost snap her neck.

"This is the one you like, isn't it?! This one?!" the youma screamed, her face a maniacal rictus.

Sailor Mars her heart started to race, adrenaline being pumped at a mad rate into her veins. Oh gods, was this the moment?! Was this the moment Setsuna had spoken of?!

"Wait, please don't…" Mars whispered weakly, her voice nearly lost in the high winds.

"And why not?! You took away the one I loved!! Turnabout is fair play isn't it?!" the youma snarled, her once dead eyes now burning hatefully. "Tell me how much this creature means to you, murderer! TELL ME!!" The white-haired youma shook Sailor Moon by throat, causing her to whimper and look at Mars pleadingly for help.

Sailor Mars felt her eyes fill with tears as she looked upon her love, the blonde girl in mortal danger. But there was still a chance to save her. The miko wouldn't let her true love end up like Sailor Jupiter.

Mars considered lying about her feelings to save Sailor Moon, but there was no guarantee that the youma wouldn't just kill the blonde anyway. So she let it all come out. "S-She is the love of my eternal life… I would give up everything for her, do anything for h-her… there is no one else that will ever replace her…" Sailor Moon's bodyguard stammered, tears starting to trace cold lines down her cheeks, "th-the reason I fight, the reason I go on… my true love… my only love… my princess…" she finished, her teardrops collecting at the bottom of her chin, before the wind blew them onto the surface of the roof, darkening the wood.

Sailor Moon choked something out as her own tears fell from her eyes, but the youma increased her stranglehold around the blonde's throat and strained her arms painfully backwards, causing the girl to wince and her words to become lost.

"Please… take me, I killed Laodameia, not her," Sailor Mars continued desperately, shaking her head slightly, as if trying to deny the existence of the awful, nightmarish scene taking place before her. "It was me who murdered your love, not her!! TAKE MY LIFE INSTEAD!!" More thunder crashed in the skies above punctuating Mars' last earnest and heartfelt request, and causing Sailor Moon let out another scared whimper.

The blue-skinned youma was silent for a moment, her braids fluttering in the wind along with Sailor Moon's blonde tresses.

"You're right. You did kill my mistress, she only helped," the creature then said with an abnormal and dangerous calm, the calm before a storm, "but you love her, almost as much as I loved my Lady… and that is why she DIES!!"

Time seemed to stretch as the youma casually threw her arms to the side, letting Sailor Moon leave her grasp and topple backwards. Sailor Mars screamed, an indecipherable and heart wrenching sound leaving her throat. The Fire Senshi's eyes widened and met her princess's for a split second as the girl fell over the edge of the roof. Mars' stomach lurched and she reached out with one arm, as if she could catch her only love from the several feet of distance between them. But she couldn't. No one could catch Sailor Moon. There was no Tuxedo Kamen to save her, no other Sailor Senshi. Just Sailor Mars. And she had failed. The Senshi of Fire watched the girl disappear from view, red booted feet the last thing she saw of her true love. Mars collapsed to her knees, her arm still outstretched, staring at the spot Sailor Moon had just been in. Tears ran out of her eyes unchecked. It wasn't supposed to be this way. Rei Hino, Sailor Mars, was the one meant to die first. Usagi, Sailor Moon, was supposed to live forever. Sailor Moon wasn't meant to die, it was meant to be Sailor Mars first! Mars! She had failed totally, completely, in her duty to her princess in the worst way possible. She had effectively failed in her life.

Sailor Mars lowered her arm and head, a grief stricken expression plastered on her face. At that moment, there was clap of thunder overhead, and the heavens parted, bringing a downpour on Mars, as if weeping for the loss of such a divine being, such a beautiful, compassionate soul. The rain soaked Sailor Mars' fuku through and clapped her raven hair to her head. Mars hardly noticed.

"And now you know how I feel… how do you like the pain? Does it agree with you?" the armoured youma mocked in a monotone voice. "You and I are alike now," she continued, not waiting for Mars' answers. "Now you suffer like I suffer…where death is a release…"

Sailor Mars lifted her head up to look at the youma, watching the rain run down her blue, partially ice-covered face, and over her hard metal rune encrusted armour. The creature was right; death was a release. But not yet. Mars felt the cold, vicious flames flare up inside her like a firestorm, mirroring the more mundane storm above her. She didn't resist. Sailor Mars let the flames come, she welcomed them and let the dark blaze consume her wholly.

Mars stared with cold, dead eyes into the youma's own, the broken appearance in the orbs reflected back at her. They were alike, just as the creature had said they were. A look of mutual understanding past between the two, and Sailor Mars got to her feet, the rain continuing to pelt down around her and the youma. Lightning cracked and thunder rolled as the two figures glared into each other's eyes, knowing there would be no holding back, no pulled punches, an all or nothing fight. And if there were a benevolent god somewhere in the universe, neither would survive.


to be continued…

Author's ramblings:

Hmm. I don't think I have anything to say.