Title: True Destiny
Series: no, alternate reality
Couples: Haruka/Makoto, Makoto/Ami, Haruka/Michiru, Serenity/Endymion, Rei/Minako, Rei/Minako/Setsuna, Setsuna/Ailan
Disclaimer: I have no ownership.
AN: It's an alternate reality Japan ruled by a feudal system in the modern age, and each region—a collection of five or six Prefectures—has a Duchess, all ruled by the Queen of Japan. All of the senshi are about 20, close to their Seijishiki, and everything else is explained.
Chapter 1: Two Against the World
She faced her opponent, laughing inside at the arrogant grin on his scruffy, scarred, dirty face. He was a goner.
The soldier didn't even flinch when three more men were sent into the ring, each twice the size of the young woman, each well-muscled and ready to fight. The soldier's partner joined her, deep green eyes ready for a fight, fists clenched. The first man moved, and the two young women jumped into the fight.
They stood above the four unconscious men less than three minutes later, smiling up at their cheering fans. "Ten'ou Haruka!" "Kino Makoto!"
Haruka smiled at Makoto. "Feel better?"
The shorter, brown-haired woman grinned back, always ready for a scuffle. "Much. I needed this, Haru-chan."
The two women, dressed in tight fighting suits and boots, bowed once more to their doting fans and returned to the inside of the arena. Their owner, Kurai—Palace Masters had no first names—met them inside, grinning widely. "There's my famous fighting pair! You two were great today. Midori's Osaka Palace still can't find any fighters to beat you."
"I will never be beaten," Haruka promised, fists clenched by her side. "It is not my destiny to wake up flat on my back. So, do we get to eat?"
"Certainly, my young money-earners. There will be a fine feast for Ten'ou Haruka and Kino Makoto. Go to my dining room after you've changed; you will eat at my table tonight."
Haruka nodded and led Makoto away, careful to protect the smaller woman in their boss's presence. She hated him more than Haruka did and would likely say something to earn a beating. Haruka could keep her temper in check for the sake of food.
"Haru-chan, I don't want to eat at his table."
Haruka stripped out of her fighting suit and wiped the sweat off her body with the little water allowed them for cleaning. "I know, Mako-chan, but the food is better and the water at his table is clean. You've been a little weak lately and could use a boost." Haruka finished her brief bath and reached for the shirt and pants she wore outside of the ring. At least the white shirt was clean; she and Makoto were good enough to get warm, clean clothes. Other fighters in Kurai's Tokyo Fighting Palace were not so lucky.
Makoto slipped her dress over her head and brushed her hair, always particular about her appearance. She was far more feminine than her counterpart, wearing dresses while Haruka preferred pants.
The meal started badly and only got worse. Makoto concentrated on her meal, eating silently, desperate not to ruin her good fortune or Haruka's by speaking to their owner. They had been together in Kurai's famous Tokyo Fighting Palace since both were orphaned as children and found by Kurai's men in the orphanage. It was not a safe place to be, especially not with hundreds of Fighting Palaces in cities country-wide desperately searching for any new, young talent to hoard and pit against other palaces.
"So, Makoto, are you training?"
"Yes, Kurai-sama," she whispered.
"Do you think you're up for some extra . . . activity?"
Makoto's head shot up at the question, green eyes wide. Haruka also looked up from her meal, emerald eyes narrowed as she sensed danger. Kurai's other guests, men that had advanced very far in his palace and were used to control the fighters, watched the exchange eagerly, knowing what the outcome must inevitably be. "What do you mean?"
Kurai placed a hand on Makoto's arm, black eyes dangerously bright. "You know what I mean."
"No! There is no way I would ever sleep with you!"
Silence filled the dining room. "What?"
"I won't," she whispered. "Not for any reason or reward."
Kurai grabbed Makoto's arm and threw her to the ground. Haruka jumped to her feet, moving to stand in front of Makoto. "Leave her alone," she growled. "Keep your hands off Mako-chan."
Kurai stood up and nodded. His lackeys moved forward, grabbing the two women and chaining their hands together. He snapped a few instructions at his underlings, words that Haruka couldn't quite understand as she and her partner were dragged away. "I'll protect you, Mako-chan," she whispered.
Haruka pulled futilely at her chains, desperate to reach her partner, who was bleeding from a half dozen whip marks on her back. She was slumped on the other end of the small cell, eyes closed, fighting the pain. "Why didn't they punish me?"
Makoto looked up through her tears, wincing slightly. "Why would they? I am the one that refused our master."
"Yes, but I kept him from taking you to his room. I'm the one that knocked three of his guards out and almost killed a fourth. Yet he didn't punish me at all."
"He wants you for the fight tomorrow. You're the better one."
Haruka closed her emerald eyes, concentrating the power she knew existed inside her somewhere, and the manacles on her wrists melted away. With a cry, she fell down by Makoto's side and pulled off her outer shirt, wrapping it around the smaller girl. "I'm so sorry, Mako-chan. We never should have eaten with him. I never thought he would try to seduce you, though; he only beds the weaker fighters."
"Maybe he saw me as weak," Makoto whispered. "I haven't been very well lately, and maybe he thought it was time to take advantage of that."
"I won't let him again, Mako-chan. If you get pregnant, even once, he'll add you to that hoard of women he keeps in his mansion, and I'll never see you again. You deserve better than his harem, and next time I will protect you."
Makoto closed her eyes, safe in the blonde woman's arms, and she slowly fell into an easy sleep. Haruka stayed awake much longer, but eventually her eyes, too, closed.
Haruka was jerked out of her dreams by Kurai's guards pulling Makoto into another cell, a knife at her throat. Haruka jumped to rescue her, but the guard drew a single drop of blood with his knife, freezing the woman in her tracks. Fists clenched, she watched as Kurai descended the stairs, dressed in his finest suit for the fight. "Haruka, if you value your partner's life and virginity, you will go to your room, dress, and be in the ring in five minutes. Otherwise, you may never see her again."
Haruka looked at Makoto, helpless, and the shorter woman nodded. She smiled at Makoto, trying to convey a sense of hope. 'Don't worry,' she whispered in her mind; 'I know what I'm doing. I'll get you out of this, Mako-chan.' Reluctantly, the famous fighter headed for her room, glancing down at Kurai as she passed. "One day," Haruka whispered menacingly, "I will kill you for this."
Kurai laughed. "I'd like to see that. You belong to me, Ten'ou Haruka, and nobody cares about you. You will live and die in that arena, and there's nothing you can do about it. You're mine and it will always be thus." Haruka, her mind on her young partner's plight, said nothing.