Crossover - n. [def 2] "A short connecting track by which a train can be transferred from one line to another."
The spiraling towers were burning, crumbling and falling from the skies. Below the armies came as Venus looked on impassively. Overhead, her castle floated, a speck in the sky as the soldiers trudged on in the gleaming armors of Mercury. She was the only one to bear the Royal Moon insignia - silver and gold - upon her left breast. There were bodies littering the grounds, though it must be far worse up the tiered island overhead where many of the rebels have gathered. Venus narrowed her stinging eyes, the warm, familiar wind filtered through her armor and teased her hair.
A memory came...
"Darling little sister," Venus blinked at the sound of a ghost's voice. She found herself suddenly twelve years-old again. The beautiful white-gold hair, a shade paler than her own, of the woman at her feet was tinted red from the flames of long ago...
That and blood.
"Older sister?" she breathed out, falling to her knees in that long ago dream. "Older sister! What is going on?" she sobbed. She had never cried like this again.
"Do you remember our promise, darling little sister?" the woman asked. Those cool, wet fingers traced her features before the other turned away to cough, choking on blood. She remembered the silvery smashed pieces of the broken blade and her sister's broken armor, a ghastly picture that she tried hard not to study as she glued her eyes to her sister's untouched and still beautiful face. Not far away lay the piled up bodies of tens of soldiers, all dead and still as stone, seemingly a baracade between them and the rest of her broken world.
"You- you promised we'd always be together, Sister! You promised... that you'd always protect me!" her youthful cried large, unstoppable tears. Her youthful voice quavered, weak and helpless.
"You remember what the teachers told you, darling? You mustn't cry like that when it hurts so in your chest," her sister gently chidded her. "You will encounter many enemies from now on, and you must never show them your weaknesses."
"But, sister... won't you protect me anymore?" She had demanded, wishing and hoping that the tantrums that always got her everything she had always wanted will work now, this time, when it mattered.
Her sister gave a gurgling, pain-filled chuckle, eyes misting but never tearing. "I will always watch over you, darling, even if you cannot see me. But... I cannot protect you as I have before. That is now impossible..."
"Sister?" Golden eyes met golden eyes as she crawled closer into the bloody embrace of her beloved sister. "I will be strong for you, Sister. I promise. So, please, please, don't leave me! I promise I will get stronger from now on!"
She felt her sister shudder in her arms. She felt the skin against her cheek cooling. The other breathed ragged breath, trying to gather her strength to speak.
"Someone will come for you, beloved. Mars... she will come for you." She remembered tensing at that name, feeling the flood of intense jealousy at the woman who had been occupying her sister's mind for the last decade of training. "She will look after you now, and when the time comes... she will tell you a secret."
"A secret?" Venus remembered asking, excited, momentarily distracted. "She won't cheat and forget, will she?"
Her older sister smiled wanly, though clearly it pained her, her sister's bright eyes lightened at her words nonetheless. "No... she won't-" One cool hand stroked her hair went slightly limp and the body beneath her began to shake.
"Sister!" she had cried out in alarm.
"Venus!" she turned and felt in her arm her beloved sister finally tremble to stillness. She saw then the tall, statuesque woman with hair like fire and eyes like bronze mirrors, tense and full of sparks.
"Mars," her older sister whispered with her remaining strength. "You came... does she want to hurt you that much?" Her older sister's teeth clanked together, the poison working through her veins and spreading fast.
"She wants me to remember the fate of those who betrays her," Mars answered, her voice as cool as winter. The other carefully knelt next to her younger form, reaching to brush away the frazzled hair on her sister's damp forhead, as a firm hand pressed down and held itself against her sister's gapping wound, until her older sister stopped her shaking. Ruby eyes looked distant and unreadable, but the chill of this woman's presence did not match the words she spoke. "I was not given a doctor," Mars said with a fierce type of agony that even she, her young self, could hear, despite the other's composure never faltering.
"It was unforgivable, darling, what I did..." Mars touched her older sister's face with so much tenderness that she felt the instinct to push the other away. There were tears now trailing down her sister's checks, but Mars only watched with a face that seemed encased by the frost of Winter.
"I'm a failure," her older sister said with an ironic smirk, hands clutching at her comrade's wrist. "Can't hide genuine emotion... like I used to."
"Idiot," Mars murmured but never turned away.
"Sister!" she cried out alarmed when the blood trailed down the side of her sister's mouth. "Stop it! Stop hurting her more!" She begged and hit Mars' shoulder as the other woman reacted without blinking or flinching or moving, not minding her blows.
"Don't, darling," her sister ordered weakly and she stopped to cry harder as Mars was once again at the receiving end of all her sister's attentions. "Remember your promise to me, Mars," those hands had grasped at those long red strands desperately. "I- I-" and then her sister died with an agonized pleading on her face at the words she never got to finish.
Venus remembered crying out in shock and fear. "You killed her!" she turned to accuse Mars when no one else was there to blame for her agonizing loss. Her small fists struck against the other's armor, hitting the Lunarian Mark on Mars' breast when the other turned to her. "You killed her! You killed her! You killed her!" she raged in her grief. "Why couldn't you save her? Why couldn't you help her?" And those warm arms that Venus would later seek salvation and comfort from, years down the road, closed around her for the first time, that time, holding her struggling, crying form with the same forgiveness she would crave until her dying days.
"I'm sorry," that calm voice she loved was distant and chilly, filled with a grief she could not understand at the time. "I'm sorry..."
And behind Mars, her sister's body melted into light and wrapped their warmth around her small form.
She blinked. Overhead, the empire of Venus crumbled and her people died. It had been forty years since that day. Forty years that changed everything, though one thing remained the same. Her planet had held to the ways that her sister had died for protecting, and Serenity wanted to make sure Venus knew what was at stake if ever she should stray, not just with her own position but with Mars' burden as well. Funny, at the time, she had not realized how deep the poison had spread...
"I'm sorry, Venus," Mars said once she came up next to her on the battlefield. This planet, Mars had loved as well, as it was the land of her beloved.
"No," Venus said coldly, no longer the child of long ago. "There's nothing to forgive. At that time, there was nothing you could have done."
Mars had neither tensed nor looked relieved, instead she only turned back to the field of bodies before them. "I asked that they leave your castle untouched," the red-haired Senshi finally said. "Come, there's something of a promise that I must keep."
Venus nodded after Mars and followed the other effortlessly up the tiers of island. She noted it took longer to get there, but the lack of bodies meant Mars was careful to chose their path. Despite everything, the older woman always looked out for her, like she had promised her older sister. Now, thinking back, Venus had an entirely different reason to be jealous of that time...
"Are we not going in?" Venus asked. Mars did not answer her, instead she walked around the edge of the last tier and then put her hand up. The ancient words were a mix of Martian and Venitian. Apparantly the seal was set by both her sister and Mars when they had been younger. "Let's go," Mars said when she was done.
"I didn't know you spoke my tongue," Venus said with a raised brow of amusement.
Mars gave her a look before leading her deeper into her own palace. "I didn't know you knew this place so well, either." She muttered, more to herself this time.
"I only know what was needed, no more. In the end, this place will always be more yours and your sister's than mine," Mars answered, distant and a little too coolly. She lies, Venus thinks to herself. This was the place her sister and Mars came together long ago. A shared secret that not even she had been privy too until now.
They reached an alcove that Venus remembered hiding in often. Mars touched the surface in different places before muttering words again. A small space opened and the other reached in and brought out a small box. "Here," Mars turned and gave it to Venus. "She wanted you to have this when you got older."
But she did not reach for that long awaited box. Instead, Venus stepped in and kissed Mars fiercely on the lips. She gave the other a long, smoldering look before taking the box out of the other's hands. "Who do you love more?" She asked as she rattled the box by her ear, a little too irreverently.
Mars stared at her in silence before her face seemed to purposefully relax into neutrality. "I might have died for her," Mars answered at last. "But the same is now true for you."
Venus was not satisfied with that answer but that wall that Mars erected told her that she wasn't going to get much else out of her lover. "We must go back," Mars said and turned away. The hole in the alcove remained opened, but it was no longer a secret that needed to be hidden. "They will be looking for us soon if we don't return..."
Venus reached out for the other but Mars deftly evaded her touch. She gave her companion, walking away, a thoughtful look before turning her gaze to her sister's gift. "Once upon a time, you were my whole world," she said to the box before pocketing it.
But the dead can only occupy so much of one's heart, and the world has changed...