A/N: Hey guys I'm back with the new fiction! "TSK: Rise of the Neo Moon!" This fiction takes place directly after "The Sailor Kids?" so please read that fiction first if you haven't already. a few quick side notes and then we will go right to the fiction. I am currently looking for a new place to host the website. I have taken it down so I can revamp a few things and what not. That will be my project over the x mas holiday. The forums are still up and if you would like to visit them take a look for the web address at the bottom of the page or on my profile.
I also want to say that I DO NOT OWN SAILOR MOON!!! and with that info bestowed lets get on with the fiction!
TSK: Rise of the Neo Moon!
Chapter 1: Taking Flight, Lighting Flame! Start of Haruka and Mari, Rei and Yumi!
As the airship left the familiarity of the shrine behind Mari already started to miss the other Senshi. The airship gained altitude quickly and soon was masked by the clouds. The main deck had a lot of workers constantly pumping pedals to make the propellers rotate. Three people worked a series wooden panels in the back to keep the ship facing the right direction. Some were opened, others closed. It looked like a fairly simple pattern.
Cade lead them inside the ship where the same wood layered throughout. Their lives were fairly simple and thus there wasn't much to see besides a few woven chairs, sleeping mats, and a few corner hammocks. The old man took his seat in one of the chairs while the other two followed suit.
"Now then." The old man said as he started to settle in, "I know that this life isn't one of glamor, but it'll do. Your welcome to anything you see. We all share what we have willingly so you shouldn't feel as if you would impose." Removing his cloak of feathers he draped it over his legs as a blanket.
"Thank you Cade. It means a lot to us that you have chosen earth as a place you wish to call home, it means even more to Mari and I that you are willing to take us along." Haruka said to start a pleasant conversation.
"I'm sure there are many things you mean to ask me considering our ways are unfamiliar for you, so please go on ahead. We have quite awhile before we meet up with the others." In his old years he enjoyed random banter just fine, but he also had the experience to know that friendly aimless musings could happen any day.
"Are you sure you are alright with my grilling you with questions this early on? We have only just met." Haruka offered her patience in order to be polite, but she did have the urge to ask a lot of different things.
"As I said, do not think anything you do to be an imposition. After all, I still have the choice to answer it or not. That said, we are simple people with very little we feel we need to hide." Cade replied before a child ran through the doors.
"CADE! YOUR BACK!" The girl shouted as she ran to give him hug. Long dark brown hair framed her face and she looked a few years older than Mari. Her clothes consisted of a shirt of thin short furs multiple shades of blues and blacks, along with a pair of shorts made from the same material. On her feet were boots lines with white down from some sort of hatchling.
"Hello Xen. Your just the person I wanted to see." Cade said introducing the girl next too him. "This is Xen, she is the only child in our travel party." Then he regarded Mari for a moment thinking of something. "Xen, this small wing here is Mari, I hope you and her will get along well. If you would do me a favor I would like you to show her around the ship a little bit."
"Yeah sure I can do that." Xen said as she looked to the younger girl in front of her. "Alright then, Mari, come with me and I'll show you the highest point on the ship." Grabbing Mari's hand she left no time for a response as she raced out the door leaving both adults with raised eyebrows.
"That girl is a bundle of never ending energy sometimes." Cade chuckled as he settled back into his seat. "It's about time she had someone around her age to befriend. Anyway back to what we were going to speak on. Have you any questions you would like me to answer?"
Haruka nodded and thought carefully how to form her questions so she would not offend the man. The first of many would be simple. "Where are we going currently?"
"We have chosen a secluded area where we will land the ship. There are many other clans of wind who will meet us there. Together we will seek out a living in the mountains and valleys to build a new society out of what little we have left." Taking his cloak he stood and gestured Haruka to follow him.
Walking at a snails pace he came to the wall and opened a square of the wood. Wind rushed in from the gap that had just been made. They felt the slow decent of the ship and knew they hadn't traveled very far just yet. Looking out the window she saw many people all dressed in either some type of animal skin, scale, fur, or feathers. Seeing the confusion on her face Cade explained the very large mass of people.
"There are many who travel the galaxies looking for a place of refuge, for most of the people still live in troubled times. The White Moon kingdom at one time held a large populace of Senshi. It was a merger point for the smaller nomadic families who sought out a living in a safe place. However that is a story that has been erased from the history books ever since the Battle of Elements." Cade spoke the last sentence as if it were common fact.
"The Battle of Elements?" Haruka questioned as she scanned the many people below her. "Does that have to do with why you're here now? I thought there were only going to be fifty of you." All of them looked roughly the same, how was it possible for them to be from different places. It didn't seem logical.
"Yes, you see, long ago before the days of the Silver Millennium and the fall of the Kingdom there was a far different war that kept families up at night. It has been spoken only in quiet whispers now that so many years have past. Back in those days the planets of similar origin all clustered together. Ones of air, like us for example, stayed with our own kind. We couldn't not survive conditions most of the other planets had and the same applied to them, they couldn't survive with us. This caused fear since each planet could pose a danger to one another. Battle ensued and in the end, most of the civilizations that had been built on the planets were destroyed. There was only one woman who sought to bring an end to such turmoil. She and a small group of followers left in search of a new home. Many from the wind planets followed her." Cade explained as he took his seat back in the chair. He knew it would be a while to finally reach ground since they didn't use any form of advanced technology.
"What was the name of the woman?" Haruka asked as she followed suit. She was still finding it hard to grasp the fact that there would be such a large war before the Silver Millennium. Then again Setsuna rarely spoke of anything before that era.
"She was a master of combat who swore her allegiance to the deities of the wind. Her real name is not known to those alive today. She took up instead an alias to hide from enemies. She called herself Uranus and as she traveled she gained a sort of popularity as a hero for the people living on the wind planets. Finally just when she was about to give up, her travel party came into contact with those from other planets. They too wanted to have a place to start a new life and sought no ill will. New hope built within our leader as she found more and more people searching for homes. Nine different groups traveling as one finally found an empty space. It had not yet been cultivated and was large enough to tear into pieces for them all. They used their powers to blast the very large mass and each of them hurled away into the distance. All that was left in the space was the very central core of the planet. That is the story once told of how the White Moon came to be." Cade said with a smile. He grew up with that story, even if he didn't know if it was true or not his memories of the fairytale gave him hope.
"That's one hell of a story. It is also far different than what I know. Then again, we Senshi find that things never go as planned half of the time anyway." Haruka said as she laughed lightly, she wasn't sure if she could fully believe it, but apart of it explained why some of the planets may not have liked each other as the years progressed. "So if that's true than all of those people down there happen to be my kin as well then?"
"Yes, that would be correct. Of the people I lead there are fifty but, that does not mean there aren't others Pluto may have contacted. Those that want a safe place of refuge have come to you seeking aid. Please do not let them down." Cade stood from his seat once he felt the soft thud of land and directed himself slowly to the door. "We shall continue this later, for now we shall lead the ones ready to depart up the mountains to prepare lodgings for the ones who will come later."
Haruka followed Cade outside as a mass of people stood in crowds. Humans weren't the only life it seemed as gigantic flightless birds walked side by side with handlers. They were dark brown in color and very strong looking. Xen and Mari by this time had already mounted one. Even if it was one of the smallest ones the bird was still taller than Haruka. "What the hell is that thing! MARI GET DOWN FROM THERE!" Haruka gawked losing sight of where Cade had gone before Mari and Xen approached. Up close she was sure that the bird had to be almost seven feet tall.
"Relax would you. He's doesn't bite. If your afraid of this little guy wait till you see the older ones." Xen laughed as she steered the bird over and instructed it to sit down. When she dismounted she helped Mari climb off. "What's wrong You haven't seen an Aepyornis before?" the little girl laughed when she saw the look on the taller blonds face.
"A what now?" Haruka looked to the bird face to face. Now that it was sitting down it was finally shorter than her. A gift that she thanked the gods for at that moment. The thing was huge and even if it looked friendly that last thing she would want to do was piss it off.
"It's called an Aepyornis. They were birds that used to live here on earth as well a long time ago. They died off here but where we come from they still live in abundance. We use them for traveling on the ground since they are pretty strong. The ones we breed grow to about ten feet tall and can be about eight hundred pounds. It's my job as a stable hand to help look after them." Xen explained showing them around the small area inhabited by the birds.
Behind her more and more people gathered on the gigantic birds. Some of the bigger ones were carrying bags and long flat segments of wood that Haruka noticed were parts of the flying ships. The smaller ones were being fitted with saddles so that they could be ridden. When they entered the main area Cade was already ahead of the rest of the people giving instruction in preparation for leaving. When the people saw Haruka silence took over as they lowered to their knees in respect. It was discomforting to see that many people bowing in respect.
"Everyone this is Haruka, the current barer of the name Uranus! Trust in her ability to carry the name as we follow her into a new life with our heads held high! No longer will we be forced to seek a new solace, for when we reach the many mountains we will have homes and food guaranteed once again! The first group will leave shortly to reach a point of safety by nightfall, the rest of us will leave at daybreak! Merging our people by different paths will allow us to build trade routes far more quickly. You have your travel parties assigned so please be careful on your journeys tomorrow!" Cade shouted as joyful cheers filled the air. Before many dispersed to continue with the preparations.
"Well looks like I need to finish getting the Aepyornis ready to leave or we will need to go on foot." Xen said as she started to leave. "Mari why don't you come with me so Cade and your papa can talk!" She shouted after getting a few feet away. The aqua haired girl was quick to follow behind excited to see more of the giant birds.
"That was some pep talk there Cade. Are you sure you didn't over do it just a bit?" Haruka said jokingly now that her ego was largely boosted. Looking around many still had their eyes on her and were fearful to show any form of disrespect. It was a very odd thing to experience for the first time.
"Nonsense! This is exactly what they needed to hear! Anyway onto more pressing matters. Someone will need to guide them too the new area we have found to start building our homes. A few people with supplies have already gone ahead, I would like you and Mari to go on ahead of the rest of us and meet up with them. From there you can follow a route around the various mountains and lay markings to note your passages. This will allow our people a safe way to build places to live and teach those that migrate the safest ways to travel." He requested as a few of the other travelers from a different planet than his own beckoned for his aid.
"How will we get there? If your implying we take one of those bird things you've got another thing coming…" the blond said as Cade began to instruct the travelers how to attach wheels to the bottom of their ship to turn it into a sort of wagon.
"Don't worry you will not be going alone. I'll see to it that Xen will take you." Cade replied before continuing his explanation of wheel attachments. That's when the afore mentioned girl returned on a much larger bird than before.
"This one's ready to be hooked to the next wagon Cade, where should I take him?" The voice rang out as Mari followed suit quickly with "Man these guys move fast!" She was having quite a good time riding the birds, in a way Haruka felt a sense of peace that Mari fit in so well.
"Actually I have a better use for him! Go back and get the chicks and come back I want you to lead Haruka and Mari to the first check point we've set up." Cade instructed and received a nod from the Girl before giving the bird the orders to charge off speeding back to where the rest of the flock happen to be kept.
When Xen came back she had brought four chicks that had been hatched only a few months back. At two feet tall and barely seventy pounds they were not ready to be ridden by any means. There were two older chicks that were almost a year old and at five feet and two hundred pounds they were much larger. All of them were attached to lead ropes and seemed to follow the directions of their handler very well.
"We're all set up here!" Xen shouted as she approached and commanded the bird she was mounted on to sit. "Haruka get on, he can easily carry the three of us no problem." She explained as she moved to place Mari in front of her so that the aqua haired girl was at the base of the birds neck.
Nodding Haruka slowly mounted the tall bird and braced herself as tall animal stood up. Starting as a soft trot the younger chicks kept pace as Xen lead them up the mountain. "Wow, The little buggers are fast." Haruka said watching the smallest of chicks running to maintain the pace.
"Yep they can be, this is how we teach them to follow commands when we can't ride them. Following the lead birds teaches them to follow an example and over time they learn to follow the commands we give them. Starting them off early by having them follow an adult bird they grow used to the commands and our voices. It makes it easier when we are handling them later in their lives." Xen explained before making a few clicking noises with her tongue when the smaller birds started to slow their progress and moved out of formation.
"How long have you worked in the stables?" Mari asked as the she felt the bird slow down a bit while weaving through a few rocks and small shrubs. She loved the feel of the high speeds the birds could run at. her lips had become chapped from all of the wind hitting her face. Haruka felt at one with the bird finally and learned to shift her body to avoid being thrown off.
"Hmm, well my whole life really. When my planet became desolate the few remaining survivors left with Cade. I was one of them." Xen said keeping her focus on the birds. "Where's your family, or parents? Are they with you too?" Haruka questioned lightly. She saw the child in front of her tense slightly before giving an answer.
"No, I don't really know where my family is.. We were separated from each other a few years back. The people who follow Cade are only small in number compared to how big we used to be. Most of us are missing at least one or more family members. That's why we were hoping to see if they had joined up with other nomads like ourselves." Xen said as she rounded another corner on the Cliff side..
They were high in elevation and the sun was starting to set. It was getting cold as they rode up the rocky path. The chill in the air was crisp the higher up the mountain they went and soon they could see their breath.. After riding in silence for a short while they saw a cave dimly lit in the distance and Xen commanded the bird to slow it's speed.
The area inside the cave had been expertly carved to a rounded perfection. Smaller indents had been carved and filled with bits of straw. Many other large birds filled the spaces and there were a few new empty ones.. After the three riders dismounted the large bird, the saddle was removed and the leads the chicks were on had been placed on the wall. Xen went about to make sure each bird had food and water before she lead Haruka and Mari through the crafted piece of handy work..
This cave was man made, there was no doubt in that. The rock had been sanded to a smooth consistency. The walls had hammocks hanging on the top, the floors were lined with soft wonderful fur. Chairs weaved from woods had seats covered in down from the chicks once it had molted and been cleaned. There were three men sleeping on one side and never woke to the noise of the new inhabitants.
Xen explained that the only times they really used the caves were for sleep and bad weather… When they made enough of them in many areas of the world the smaller families could migrant from place to place as their lives dictated.. Some would most likely choose only a small route while others would span as much area as they could. Their contribution to society would be merchants, and traders to get the goods of the other planets from place to place. Some would choose to only use the air, other families would go by land using the birds as their means of transport.
That night sleep came slowly for Haruka as she thought about everything that had transpired through out the day. She thought of Xen and Mari, how the two of them seemed to get along so well. She thought of the way of life, how it seemed simple and yet so stressful all at the same time. She thought of her other Senshi and so many questions played in her mind. She could only begin to wonder how they were doing. Michiru and her daughters were most likely settled in for the night. Haruka wasn't a particularly weak person and didn't like to show her tears. On this night she made an acceptation as a few silent tears slipped down her face. If she was honest, she really did miss Michiru and wanted nothing more than to be in her arms.
The next day the sun was barely over the peaks of the surrounding area, Mari was still fast asleep. In the distance Haruka heard the clank of metal against stone and the deep chirps of the large birds. The crisp air felt clean and pure, a welcome advantage to being away from cities. Xen was affixing a saddle to the same large bird they had ridden before, and another one was carrying a few supplies.
"Oh, your awake!" The brunette said as she finished getting the bird ready. "Here, it seems we have a job to do." Handing a saddle to Haruka, the girl went back to tending the birds. "Cade wants us to go around each mountain top and mark a route for them to follow. This will be the normal travel routes for when the others follow us." She looked to the tall blond who stood staring in confusion as to the implication behind the object given to her. "Don't just stand there Take that and hook it to the smallest bird. That will be the one Mari and I ride. You'll have your own."
Looking around the only bird would fit in that particular saddle also looked like the one that was least friendly as it flailed around and snapped it's beak at passers by. "That bird? You intend to ride that wild animal?" Haruka couldn't believe her eyes when Xen simply nodded in confirmation. When Haruka approached she was quickly chased away when it snapped and pecked in aggravation.
"Give me that," The girl sighed and then approached the same bird, quickly she gained control over the situation and finished the task in a few moments. "Now did that look so hard? I'll finish here, you'll be of more use getting Mari ready, we will leave shortly. If you want to eat you'll find some fruit and juice in the knapsack near the wall."
Haruka did as she was requested and then helped her self to some juice. She had never drank it before and the bluish tint made it hard to note what it was. It has a good taste though so she didn't dwell on it. Soon they were on the birds and even though Haruka was riding her own bird it still obeyed Xen's command. Mari for her part had fallen asleep after a few moments of riding.
The map Haruka had noted all of the locations they were to travel, by bird back no less. Over great seas and large hill tops she noted that she would most likely run into the other Senshi if they followed this route. On the map had a written note from Cade.
When you return from this task you shall lead the planets of the wind. Many will look too you in guidance, please turn no one away. When you return there is a chance I will have already passed on. If this is so, watch over Xen for me, she may be mature for her age, yet she is still a child in many ways.
Haruka needed a small subject change, since Xen was the one actually leading the birds she thought it might be best to inquire where they were headed. "Your planet is very large, yet a lot of the locations on your maps have not been inhabited by humans. The map your holding is far more detailed and we tend to believe anything in a yellow highlight means we can sustain our lives there. The next place we are headed happens to be a volcanic hot spot, ironically the people of flame are sure to be around those parts. If that's the case we may run into a bit of trouble." Xen explained as she continued to lead their travel party.
Three days passed by slowly. Constant riding and marker placement kept them busy. When they weren't traveling up hillsides or across forest areas, they were passing by areas where people used to live. Haruka and Mari couldn't figure out how or why the planet seemed to be changing so rapidly but didn't dwell of such things. The ice would have wiped out all of existence anyway as far as Haruka was concerned. As time progressed she saw a large storm constantly gathering in the far off sky, or smog and deep smoke hail from the mountains they were close too. This also seemed to be changes caused by other Senshi.
When they reached the base of the next mountain they were greeted by guards. "State your reason for intrusion, damned flyers!" one of the guards spoke crassly. Followed by another soon after. "You better not think of nesting in these parts! This is the base entry of the core, it's not made for the likes of you." the other spat out.
"Look, we don't want trouble, just let us pass through and we promise we will be on our way." Xen said in an attempt to take controll of the situation. This only angered the first guard more as he then knocked the bird aside, effectively throwing both Mari and Xen from it's back. Haruka jumped from the back of the bird she was on and the three stood in battle stances.
"Don't make me kick your asses in, just let us pass by and we won't have any trouble." Haruka reasoned trying to stay calm, even if the venom was clear in her voice. She began a curricular movement around the guards, she didn't want to stay in one place for too long. Mari being overzealous also followed in Haruka's footsteps and her ability to keep her mouth shut didn't last long. "Get the hell out of our way!" the child in aqua hair ordered.
Combat followed as one of the guards rushed at Mari, the other rushed at Haruka. Mari ducked to the left and dodged the oncoming assailant before speeding around to deliver a hard kick to his back. Xen was offering backup throwing pebbles and smaller stones at that man in front of her. When the guard turned and got Mari by a choke hold it was Xen who became desperate. Pulling a small dagger from her leg she stabbed the man in the shoulder and he released Mari only to pull the weapon from his back to use it against them.
Haruka was managing fine in her small squabble, she had no intention of killing the men who may be important to Rei, even if she was pissed off. A few good punches and the man she was fighting was down. It was only then she saw Xen block a swipe of a dagger and push Mari away. Haruka was too late to save her from the second swipe that got the girl across her arm. The third swipe of the blade was blocked as Haruka tackled the man to the ground, her cheek lightly nicked on impact. Holding the knife in one hand and the man on the ground in the other her voice was fierce with barely contained rage. "Give me one damned good reason why I shouldn't slice your throat." she growled.
"Because I think Usagi wouldn't like you killing people so violently without cause." Came a voice that was quickly noted to be Rei. "What the hell happened here anyway?" Rei said taking note of the blood that had been spilled over what looked to be a simple argument.
"My Queen! These damned fliers wanted to take refuge among the core and flame! They do not belong among us!" One of the guards said as Rei became annoyed and stopped his excuses before they could continue.
"I wasn't asking you! I was asking my friend who you must have really pissed off! I would be too if my child ever got injured! It looks to me as your to blame for your judgmental attitudes. Watch it or next time a friend of mine comes along I won't stop them, and there are a few who can be even more hot tempered than Haruka!" Rei was annoyed but she was not spiteful as she took in the scene before her.
"Take these children to my quarters and bring medical supplies. Next time you feel their may be an intrusion come and get me. You won't stand a chance fighting on your own. Call for Yumi, she will want to know Mari is here to visit." Rei said in exasperation looking to the guard nearest her. She noted his wound and also ordered for his medical treatment as well. Before the guard departed back up the hillside she gave one key warning. "If my friends ever had the want to kill a person, any of them have the ability to do it in an instant, you should feel lucky that cut was all you happen to sustain."
Rei looked to Haruka and laughed lightly, she knew if she ever did need to break up a fight it would be either her or Makoto first. "Well now that we have that settled, come with me and we'll get you cleaned up. Then you can tell me why your even here in the first place." She said as she helped Haruka too her feet.
After a few minutes of walking they came to a small cave inside the mountain, inside were two sets of stairs. One lead up to Rei's quarters, the other lead down into the core of the earth. Haruka could feel the molten heat as it rose, If this how Mars had been before it was no wonder why people not born into such a place would find survival so hard. As they ascended the stairs the cooler air started to funnel in from the cracks in the rocks. At the top the heat was not nearly as unbearable, however it was now clear why Rei, and everyone else was half naked. Aside from the body length cape with a hood of fur, most of the people wore very thin, almost see through clothes.
The first three levels where people lived seemed to still be in renovation as rocks were smashed and various things were being built with metallic materials. The next three were even cooler and the rooms inside were far more like a home. Near the peak they exited the mountain top and outside were homes built from wood. At the very top where Haruka had seen the black smoke before was a large shrine. Yumi was already in a conversation with Mari while Xen received less than welcomed treatment from the others in the shrine. Haruka was also receiving much of the same treatment as onlookers scowled at her face. She was apparently not a welcome site to behold. Rei noticed this and took affirmative action calling Yumi to her side.
"Yumi, I want you to take Mari and show her around a bit, make it clear that she is your friend and is to be respected." Rei instructed her daughter before adding, "Take Haruka with you, there's a matter I have to deal with." Although Haruka had a questioning glance to Rei she did not argue figuring it would be good to show her face around the mountaintop a bit.
Rei in the meantime looked to the child still bleeding slightly and wincing in pain. The medical supplies had arrived yet no one had treated the wounds. A piece of cloth wrapped around the cut sloppily proved that perhaps one of the children had tried to do it, but failed miserably. Wordlessly Rei took the task upon her self as she prepared a new batch of water and some fresh bandages.
"So, what's your name?" Rei asked bringing on a casual approach, this royalty thing had been blown way out of proportion and it was nice to go back to a normal manner of speaking for a little while. The child had not responded, instead she ducked away from the help she was being offered, she looked almost fearful.
"I'm not going to hurt you. Just prevent it from getting infected. I may not be a doctor, but I know how to clean a light cut." Rei said again in a calm voice. Xen looked confused for some seemingly odd reason.
"Why have you not ordered our death? We attacked your guard, and yet you want to help me?" That was when it had clicked into Rei's head perfectly. It was told too her that many of the other planets weren't able to believe in the souls of the planets, they wanted to travel to many places and see many things. These people were viewed as abandoning their homelands for reasons that weren't out of direct need. This simple fact alone made the people of fire very angry towards some of the nearby planets. Only those who had to travel to survive were given such an excuse to leave. However in the eyes of people who wield flame that type of life was few and far between.
"Oh, you mean the fight. Don't worry, I figured that would happen sooner or later. Unlike some of the people around here I wasn't raised to be so hateful towards others." After that explanation Xen calmed down a slight bit and allowed Rei access too her wound without a struggle. Rei noticed Xen was tense, perhaps still not fully trusting the situation.
"It's no wonder they called Mars the planet of war, all these people ever do is want to pick fights with one another. I on the other hand was raised a simple shrine maiden and before I left on this journey there was very little that made me want to fight to begin with." Rei continued as she poured water onto the cut and then went about cleaning the dried blood from the area.
Xen was quiet the entire time, after the new bandage was in place the girl curled into the smallest possible ball. She wasn't wearing a look of sadness or fear, more like a look of keeping out of the way. It was as if she didn't want to be noticed. There was one thing that had plagued Rei's mind since she had arrived and she hoped perhaps this child could explain a few things.
When Yumi and Mari returned from the trip Haruka looked more than annoyed. Refreshments were served and the five of them were offered a plentiful meal. Xen seemed as if she didn't belong at the table of friends. This caught Rei off guard again and figured now would be as good a time as any for a few answers. "Xen was your name, right? Why is it that people with the element of wind seem to be hated by people who wield fire?"
The brunette answered quickly as if she would be fearful of reprimand. "We are hated for our need to travel, our people don't stay in one spot. A few planets think we kill off the force of life that fuels our planets core and that's where you all hail from. Thus we are hated for fear of killing off your homes." Then Xen stopped and felt a direct need to defend herself, or her people. "We don't try to kill off our planets, it's not our fault we need to move too live. We can't adapt well too new places so we need to move to places that are similar to what we know."
Rei nodded in understanding when Xen quieted down. Haruka recounted the her part of what happened after she left the shrine and the welcome she gathered. Rei and Yumi sat quietly being sure to listen intently. Yumi asked Mari a few questions on what she had seen and experienced, over all she hadn't liked what she heard. Then it was Rei's turn to tell their side of what happened.
~~~~~FLASHBACK: START OF REI AND YUMI~~~~
Rei and Yumi were one of the last groups to leave the shrine. There
was a man who masked his face. Bland hair covered his head and the light robes that donned his body were as red as the color of blood. He spoke with a calm demeanor even if he never wanted to tell of his origin. He took Rei and Yumi to the base of a mountain and with a powerful blast of a deep black light he bore a hole into the depths of rock. He head lead them down into the heat of the planet, the core. It was there he explained Rei's task.
"Rei, you are the queen of fire, the soul that embodies each and every planet. It is your power to give birth to the core where the fires will burn that makes you great. Your job will be to lead the people of flame to their former glory. In this core the hope and dreams of many still may find solace. See to it that their dreams don't become a nightmare. When the other's arrive you will be instructed how best to build your city of fire." The man in red had said that day.
"I'll do my best." Rei said nodding "One last thing. Who are you?"
"Who I am does not matter. Only the future. Live well Flame's Rei…and take care of her." The man had walked off without another word. He left Rei and Yumi alone in near the burning core of the earth. It was extremely hot, but not unbearably so, at least not for those used to being near a fire.
Soon many travelers arrived. Armored to the teeth or scantly clad each one looked ready to kill. They showed Rei how to use the fire to there advantage and she was promised she would lead their ranks in return for a homeland. Over the next few days she learned how rebellious the people of fire were. Most were warriors, mercenaries from other planets. That was how they had to live until many left their previous homes when Pluto contacted them. No longer did they want to be attack dogs called in when times got rough. The only problem was, they couldn't sustain life without a warm core to live in.
The mercenaries often told of stories of folklore, many were different. Often times Rei would hear about gory battles, or some of the most deceitful things that her people had suffered through. One story was different, she wasn't sure why, but everyone from the fire planets told it the same basic way. Her deity was in it and it apparently explained why all of them people of fire swore allegiance to Rei. She recalled the night a simple child retold the tale.
"They called her Mars!" the child exclaimed happily as she went over the basic story her father had told her ever since she could remember. "Nobody knew her real name, but she was a very strong warrior. She stood proudly with a very large army, and many people wished to join her ranks. She fought along side many great warriors from other planets as well and together they built a truly strong metropolis. A woman named Serenity saw Mars for her true power and united a great many elements together. One day they came upon a great mass of land and used their powers to explode it into a place for each person. The core of the planet was left burning brightly in the center. It was foretold that the large mass is the soul of all the planets and when the people of fire die honorably in battle they shine brightly in all of the sky for the rest of eternity!"
It was roughly the same story each person foretold. Some of the slight differences included the fact that shrines were built to honor the great Mars for her powers. Normally, only the people consumed with seeing vengeance or war added that detail. Others foretold the basic shrines were founded to give solace for those that had passed on. Over time each planet fond solace in beliefs of the afterlife and different theories began to merger. Over all they believed some deity, somewhere, watched over them. Shrines and spiritual beliefs seemed to stay in large importance and over time the people on Mars no longer sought to fight the bloodiest of battles. Mars then became a haven of peace for the travelers who no longer wanted to see blood shed.
This was why so many of the fighters had come here now. They had heard of the small utopia that had existed. Even if life on that Mars hadn't been perfect all of the time, there wasn't constant battle. The people who lived there weren't called in as dogs of war. They could live simple civilian lives. In reality, that was all most had wanted. The only issue in all of this being, even if one wanted to live in a peaceful place without fighting, emotions don't work that way so easily. Distrust of other planets still left scars in the hearts of many who had lost friends and family. It wouldn't be easy to calm the fears her people had. Rei knew this to be fact.
A shrine was built and often many went to pray. It was only then that Rei saw how the many wars had affected them. She saw the most hardened of warriors, who seemed devoid of all emotion cry. Even a single stray tear showed that they were human in their own right. Perhaps the situations had caused them to be who they were today. Perhaps that's why they came to Rei in many different forms. Those with battered hearts cried out long and hard in the night near the shrine offering prayers to loved ones lost. Some who had done very terrible things wished to be forgiven for the crimes committed. For Rei hearing what these people had to say gave her one very large wake up call. They were not mercenaries without hearts, nor were they savages wishing to create a destruction. They were people, no different from the people who visited the very shrine she grew up in.
~~~~~~ END FLASHBACK~~~~~
"Hmm that's odd." Mari said thinking about the different stories of the planetary lore. "According too what I was told the people of wind weren't a gigantic army that joined forces. And your people were nomadic just like us."
"Well, that has too do most likely with how the outer realm thinks more than anything else. This isn't the only galaxy, it is however the only one that had each of the elements so close by. Also, from what I understand Mari has the ability to wield both wind and sea. That's highly uncommon, a power merger like that would have been cast out very quickly if it had been found in the outer realm. If she had been found out as a baby, anyone including our own people would have killed her, regardless of whether she was on our side or not." Xen said with a gruesome sincerity.
"Yes, Yumi and I had been told that was fact by a few of the older families. In fact I think a few here are still worried she can wield Metal and fire." Rei threw in to the banter. It had surprised her when she had heard that Yumi would have had a very dark fate had she been born in the outer realms. Then again none of the Senshi, even Setsuna had traveled too far beyond the galaxy. Very little was known about what was really out there.
"It makes sense." Xen confirmed and then without request gave the explanation Rei had wanted to hear from the start. "The outer realm is dangerous. Planets out there seem to cluster around the elements of strength or of matching basic elements. Sometimes the reverse is true and we pair up out of fear. For example, people who can manipulate water usually stand by the great power of the storms and by the people of the depths of sea. However we of the wind hate them because they can freeze our homes, if the air is too icy or if the atmosphere becomes unstable, so does our way of life. That could very easily harm us. The same holds true to the people of fire who can kill us with clogging the airs we like to live in. Though we can survive on the ground, we can't live there forever." Xen took another bite of her food as she let what seemed like simple information sink in.
"I remember Seyia saying something about civil wars breaking out for roughly the same reason." Rei said as if fitting the puzzle pieces together carefully.
"Yeah, and back when we were in the future it got complex. It had gotten too the point each planet had an alliance with at least two or three others and seemed to hate their friend's allies. It became confusing and over time the treaties meant nothing. I'm not sure how far it went, but I do know that many planets were on their way to destruction very quickly." Yumi said adding fuel to the already raging fire in Rei's mind.
"It's best not to over analyze it. It's just the way of life we all live. bad thing about that is when you shove them all here it will either force a society to form, or it will kill all of us on one major civil war. Either way, we all are willing to risk it. If we finally see times of peace then we have done our job. If we see another war break out it will be no different than life on the outer realm and all will act accordingly." Xen spoke nonchalantly, as if she was so used to seeing combat at her age that in her eyes it really didn't matter. This thought gave both Rei and Haruka a sickening feeling.
That night when the kids fell asleep Rei and Haruka seemed unearthed by what they had heard. Sleep had not been so kind too them and both found themselves talking quietly outside the shrine.
"I don't like where this could be headed. The way Xen spoke tonight, it's as if she's expecting to go into battle. Mari and Yumi don't seem fazed by this in the least and over all I don't like what I'm seeing." Rei said as she thought about how the people of fire had acted earlier. Thinking on it even more she could see just how easy it would be to cause an entire planetary destruction if this kept up. It was if Setsuna had set them up to fail from the start, especially if the other planets held the same values.
"I agree, sadly though there isn't much we can do. Seeing what I have today I think it's safe to assume that as far as our elemental backings go there could be trouble. I think we better go pay the others a visit and see what's going on." Haruka said carefully thinking on all she had heard.
"Agreed, in that case I'll say this. I don't know what the hell is going on with the planet as of late but we better go find Minako. The planet is starting to reform. The plates that keep everything in order must be shifting. Also the core has been acting up more than the others think it should. They say if it keeps up we will start to see a big island form." Rei said as she sighed in exasperation, things were getting far too complicated for her tastes.
"Wait, you mean like the super continent Pangaea? That can't be good." Haruka remembered a science class regarding the subject, but she hadn't paid enough attention in the class to be of any use. "If that's the case wouldn't Ami be a better start? She's the smartest of us all. If a Pangaea equivalent is truly the case we will need to get someone who knows enough about the topic to do us good. At the moment I would think Ami would have a better chance of deciding the likelihood of that happening again."
"Alright then, tomorrow we will go find Ami, where ever the hell she is." Rei said as they continued to banter back and forth. They both had theories, and a lot of them seemed far fetched. Could this be another Senshi occurrence like Haruka thought, or was this something completely different.
The next day the sun rose as Xen tended to the birds that they had ridden. The cut on her arm wasn't at it's best and sometimes she winced at the soreness of it all. Haruka had told Xen of her plan and inquired what the best way to find Ami was. Xen had told them going by air would be the most effective method. She then noted the raven that constantly perched on Rei's shoulder.
"She can fly right?" Xen said pointing to the small raven.
"Yes she can fly, although I am not sure for how long, she is still quite young." Rei explained as the raven chirped out slightly. Yumi had said that even if the bird would speak human tongue later in life she wasn't able too now.
"If she can fly past that outcrop of trees I'm sure there is a group of our own with a flight wagon nearby. If that is the case I can attach a letter to her foot, birds take command rather well, contrary to popular belief." Xen said as she penciled out a short note written in a language only she seemed to fully understand. She went further to explain that it was a quick letter language used to compress messages into only a few words so that the size of the letter would be easier to carry. After she tied the scroll loosely she gave instruction to the raven.
"Fly above the trees, and over that short stream. You shall see my comrades there. Take this letter to them. They will know what to do." Xen spoke to the raven before helping her get air under her wings and take flight. The raven flew in the distance. Xen seemed rather confidant that it would return soon. She was proven correct since by late afternoon not only the raven but also a small wooden ship piloted by a few travelers came to their aid.
Cade happened to be among the group and made his appearance known. "Xen why have you called for urgent aid. You all seem to be in good health." He said before examining her arm and noted the thick bandage. "You were in a fight again weren't you. Child, if you don't stop picking fights one day you'll be in a situation you can't scrape your way out of."
"Actually that fight was because of my guards. I am deeply sorry, I wasn't aware that would happen." Rei said taking full responsibility for the events of the day before. "The reason Xen called for aid was for Haruka and myself." She stated and fully explained the problems they faced. Rei also noted what she had been told about the woman named Mars and explained she was the new barer of the title.
Cade for his part listened closely and intently. He remembered meeting Yumi when he had visited the shrine since she was the one who had called the meeting on upon his arrival. That in turn made him more accepting of Rei's apology "I see your predicament. Well then, this could cause danger for the nomadic planets and as such we should see to it this problem be solved. I am too old to accompany you, my place is in the safety of the winds. However it would seem to me a wise idea that you bring Xen along. Her family has yet to join up with us and she would be more use to you as a pilot than to us as a stable hand."
"Xen, are you alright with that?" Rei asked concerned that the brunette would feel abandoned, or even worse, traded off. She had heard stories from the mercenaries that sometimes this occurred in nomadic groups so that smaller groups could live more easily.
"It's our way of life. Rei, Haruka, I want to clear something up with you two right now before we get too far ahead of ourselves. What you know to be normalcy is not normalcy for the rest of the people you lead. I know from the perspective of Rei's people I am being traded, abandoned, or even sold. In their eyes it would be easy to point that finger, however my people see them in negative lights also. In the end of it all there is one thing you must realize. Even if it looks questionable, even if you see another planet give an order or have a custom that may look bad or degrading, you can't feel bad about it. Nine times out of ten that very custom is a necessity to our survival. Do not ever forget that." Xen said as she left to go prepare the birds for Cade and his two comrades. It was very clear she was angry.
"Please don't mind her. She gets a tad touchy when our values are questioned. Perhaps I should warn you, Xen isn't a normal child born purely from the nomads of the air. She is a mixed elemental child like your own. As such she has had to hide her elemental traits for a long time. I'm sure your aware of the ramifications of her fate should anyone find out. In any case she was raised to know the ways of air. Her parents haven't been found in years which lead me to believe they may not be alive. Xen knows that could be a fact, even so we have no confirmation of their life or death. I tend to believe if they are alive, they are with the nomads of her father. If this is so, I'd like very much for her too find them. Sadly if that's the case they would be with the Senshi of Storms, and for a long time we have not been permitted on their land." Cade said as he sighed thinking on Xen and her entire situation.
"Wait a sec.. back up a bit. The Senshi of storms? That sounds like Makoto's field of expertise. If that's the case then we will run into her sooner or later and I guarantee you I know Makoto would never turn Xen away if she's looking for her family. She would rather be struck by her very own bolt of lightning before that would happen. I'm sure of that much." Rei said rolling her eyes at the irony of everything. Fate must really like to be a pain in the royal butt it seemed.
"Cade! The birds are ready to go. Good luck getting back, and thanks for helping us." Xen said as she bid the old man farewell. He had taken good care of her over the years and she owned him a lot. He nodded and bid the others farewell and took his leave with his kin. Xen went over the basics of the ship, she saw it was in decent condition and ready to be flown long distances.
"We can leave when ever your ready." Xen said with her normally calm demeanor before thinking of something that could prove vital, even if she detested the very thought. "Rei, look I know I'm going to hate myself for saying this, but you should most likely bring someone with you who has been to the outer realm. You don't know enough about our way of life and you'll have a high chance of pissing others off. It would be best." Xen said as she boarded the ship and started to give it one last glance around.
Rei thought about Xen's offer and remembered the cord she had struck before, it would be easy to strike another nerve and not even know it. After that though she realized what Xen meant by hating herself for voicing the idea to begin with. If the people of flame would hate her so much, and knowing what she did about the truth in Xen's life it made perfect sense she would need to be careful. Rei thought about the people she knew and in all reality she knew there weren't many she could take. Then she saw the youngest of the males pass by.
He was thirteen and had been living with only his father for awhile. She hadn't the slightest idea where the boys mother was. He was cleaning the shrine of ash and dirt at that moment and so Rei addressed him. "Zori, do you have a moment to spare?"
"Yes, I do. What shall you request of me my queen." The boy said as he knelt in obedience. His father had also come from around the top of the shrines roof and also knelt before his queen as a show of respect.
"Firstly you can both stop being so skittish and call me Rei like my friends do. Secondly you can stop bowing before me, I'm not a queen just yet after all." Rei laughed as she grasped both males and brought them too their feet. Both of them seemed astonished and humbled to have such contact.
"What task do you have for me… Rei?" Zori replied shyly, unsure if that it was proper to refer to royalty in such a manner. He slightly held his breath in case his father would reprimand him for showing disrespect. However punishment never came.
"I have a task for you, if you want to do it for me that would be great, but I'm not going to force you. I need an ambassador to come with me to go visit my friends that are with the other elemental planets. I am not used to life on the outer realm as Xen of fliers made clear to me today. I was hoping you would attend since you seem nearest her age and are a friend of my daughter as well. You could show Yumi and I the ropes if you wouldn't mind." Rei said in a casual voice. It demanded no respect and she sounded as if she were talking to a friend. Not as future queen to a simple civilian.
Looking to his father Zori noted the man was beaming with pride. Zori had traveled with a small army since he was a child, but he had never been shown gratitude for his skill in battle like his father had. Rei had given him acknowledgment and even if it wasn't for fighting, this to both him and his father would be a great honor. Even if Rei didn't see what the big deal in all of it was. The boy agreed and excused himself to prepare.
In a few minuets the boy returned. His long black hair was pulled into a ponytail and he donned weaponry of a bow and arrow. At his sides were two small daggers and on his body he donned a thick leather breastplate that had been baked in volcanic ash giving the outside a hard shell. He also had with him a plate made of pure dried and cooled magma substance. The rock was very hard to move in and though that type of armor was carried, it was rarely used. His blue eyes sparkled as he met to face Rei with a sense of humble accomplishment.
Soon they were in the air. Now the jobs and priorities were gaining in length as days moved on. Now not only were they going to need to build their societies from the ground up. They needed to find out why the planet was changing drastically. Among all of the normal oddities that was Senshi business, they wanted to help Xen find her family if they were still out there. With Zori at Rei's side Xen was less than pleased. Even so, the journey to the lands of Ice commenced, and that's where they would find Ami.
Please review! more to come after the X mas holiday! the forums i talked about at the top of the chapter can be found here:
h t t p : / / t s k i n f o s i t e . f r e e f o r u m s . o r g / i n d e x . p h p
On a few side notes the big birds called Aepyornis are birds that used to live roughly 250 million years ago and could really be that large. The name they most commonly go by is the elephant bird. they are no longer living creatures, however if you wanted to equate it to something think of it as one really big, fat Ostrich. (note that Ostriches only get too be roughly 140-290 pounds and are normally 6-9 feet tall.)
For those of you who have no idea what Pangaea is, or need a refresher: It was basically when all of the landmass on earth was one big gigantic body of land known as a super continent. when the plates of the earth shift so do our bodes of land. As a result our planet slowly morphs a few inches each year in different areas. there are many theories on Pangaea, however one states that all of the land might one day merger back into one large hunk. there are other theories as well. I'm no expert on the topic, but i can say that it's interesting to think about.