Title: Love & Justice: Warrior Princess (1/1)
Feedback: Please be gentle.
Distribution: Gimme credit and a link.
Rating: Just a little bad language.
Spoilers: Anything and everything.
Disclaimer: The characters depicted herein belong to other people. I'm just borrowing them for a while.
Summary: The Senshi must prepare for an uncertain future, and they're getting some unusual help. An Emerald Flame story.
Author's Note: Going sideways a bit in the Emeraldverse here. This begins shortly after Emerald Moon.
The Elysian Fields was part of the afterlife, or at least the one the ancient Greeks were familiar with. There had been few newcomers to Hades' realm recently, as could be expected as the Olympians lost influence. One of its darker residents - a woman who had crossed the line, damned herself to Tartarus, then slowly redeemed herself - and her old friend - someone who had walked and fought beside her for almost every step on her path of redemption - were met by two outsiders.
They were waiting for an answer.
"With all due consideration, I think it's a terrible idea," the woman said finally. "They already have far more power at their disposal than they have the wits to use, and you intend to grant one of them even more."
"That's why we're asking you to train them," Sailor Pluto said.
"And what about the tiny little fact that I'm dead?"
Zeus snorted. "Do you really think my brother isn't aware of this conversation?"
"You're king of the gods."
"This is his realm," Zeus reminded her. "Besides, he has his own part to play in this. Will you do it?"
The woman looked at her blonde companion. "What do you think?"
"I think..." the blonde paused, "I think the time is right for our people to be reborn," she smiled, "and I think you underestimate those girls."
"Very well," Xena said. "I'll train your little girls."
Mizuno Ami was in hell.
Her lungs burned. Her legs burned. Her diaphragm screamed in pain. Her entire body felt like it was on fire. She was the Senshi of Ice. Cold was her friend, her ally, her strength... and now little more than a distant memory as she doggedly pushed herself and continued running behind the others.
And she, perhaps more than any of them, understood why they were doing this.
With a future secured, the tiny threads of fate carefully nudged and orchestrated to that one seemingly perfect goal, they could afford to be lax. But with that security gone, with an uncertain future and the possibility of unforeseen enemies on the horizon, they needed to do whatever they could to ensure they were as prepared as possible to meet the challenge.
They could no longer afford the luxury of complacency.
"Are you all right?"
The quiet voice near her ear startled Ami, and she stumbled to a halt, nearly falling over. She turned her head and blinked owlishly at the blonde who had accompanied their trainer.
"I..." she gasped.
"Don't talk," Gabrielle said, offering a sympathetic smile. "You'll need to move at your own pace, or you'll work your body too much to see any improvement." She unscrewed and held out a bottle. "Here. Pace yourself. Don't gulp."
Ami drank greedily, the cool water spreading through her body and easing her aches unnaturally. It was at times like this that Ami wondered just how much their Senshi abilities affected their regular civilian selves.
"I don't think I'm cut out for this," Ami gasped. "I'm... more of a support role."
"I'll let you in on a little secret," Gabrielle said with a conspiratorial wink. "Today, you're all going to drop out. She needs to see where you're all at."
Pride more than anything had kept Rei going for as long as she had. Her lungs burned, her legs were starting to feel like rubber, and Makoto only looked to have a very good sweat going. Usagi had dropped out pretty much as soon as she realized Ami had, and Minako was still stubbornly pacing Rei, though she looked ready to drop any minute now.
I can do this, Rei thought. I can beat Minako. She wasn't quite sure when it turned into a competition, but there was no way she was going to lose to Minako!
Thankfully Minako gave up less than a minute later, collapsing in a boneless mass.
Now all Rei had to do was to convince her legs to last another minute.
Just... one... more... minute...
At thirty-four seconds, she misjudged her footing and, after a moment of chaos, found herself staring at the sky.
Kawaii... she thought, watching the clouds go by. That one looked like Artemis!
Xena had to admit. She was impressed, with all of them. They were, in essence, civilians, in a world where farming and other heavy work was no longer the most common job. She had been fully expecting them to be more on Salmoneus's level of fitness - which was to say, not at all - but they had surprised her. Even Ami was in at least as good a shape as Gabby had been when they had first met, if not as strong.
No need to let them know that, though.
"I can see you're not totally hopeless," she said dryly. "At least I have something to work with." She began to pace in front of them and said, "Don't forget, this is only the beginning. We've got a lot of work to do to make you the best you can be. Remember this feeling, because by the time I'm through with you, you won't even break a sweat on a run like this. Now go home, bathe, eat, and get rested, because tomorrow... we start early."
After the first week, Xena had a pretty good grasp on how the Senshi fit together. They really were a team.
Usagi, their supposed leader, was very little of the sort. She was the one that held them together, but the idea that she actually led was, in Xena's opinion, a gross misunderstanding. She had improbable amounts of luck, however, along with raw, unadulterated power... and was surprisingly good with a chakram.
No, from what Xena could tell, Rei seemed to be their leader in practice. She took initiative in group exercises and provided the direction that kept them from floundering. She also seemed to be the only one with any formal combat training.
Of course, Xena had never really seen Usagi in a crisis situation, and so, she had never seen the Princess Serenity that lurked hidden beneath the layers and layers of Usagi's airheadedness. It was likely the warrior princess would never understand the Senshi's loyalty to her.
Ami was their strategist and advisor, and her Senshi powers gave her excellent battlefield control. Her physical skills were rather lackluster, but Xena could fix that.
Minako seemed to be the most well-rounded of them. She was more capable on her own than the others in Senshi form but tended to fall in line with them during group exercises and tended to be "second best" in each category. Xena suspected she would make a good second in command if she would just assert herself.
Makoto was the most physically fit out of all of them, but while she had some reasonable combat skills, she was a brawler, and Xena would have to retrain her and break some of the bad habits she had picked up.
Two months later...
Kevin Sorbo relaxed in his Los Angeles home, watching the news and sipping a tankard of mead. There was something to be said for tradition, after all. The studio shoots would be starting tomorrow, and he was glad for the brief respite after his flight from New Zealand.
"...and in other news, Sailor Moon mania sweeps Japan again as, atop Tokyo Tower, this man - claiming to be the Greek god of death, Hades - challenges the Sailor Senshi..."
Kevin coughed, pounding his chest as he stared at the broadcast in disbelief.
"Son, sorry I didn't respond earlier, but I was in the middle of dealing with a... very delicate situation."
Kevin put the phone down, turned, and glared at his father.
"And you couldn't have showed up before I bought a ticket on the red-eye?"
"What do you want me to do?" Zeus asked, holding his hands out and shrugging. "Validate the flight? Reimburse you for the expense?"
"How about explain what's going on in Tokyo?"
"What's going on is technically none of your concern, son. It's well in hand."
"'Well in'... Father, Hades is issuing challenges on international television!"
"I understand it's not exactly subtle, son, but it's certainly far better than it could have been. Why, I remember when Anubis - you remember him, yes? From Avalon? Not that parasitic pretender - anyway, I recall when he allowed a mortal to tap into his armies to conquer Egypt. Never again, he swore. You should have seen the look on his face."
"You might as well tell him," a third voice interjected. Setsuna walked into the room. "There's no point in cutting him out of the loop."
Kevin looked at the Senshi of Time. "Pluto."
"Herakles," she said, offering the demigod a cool nod in greeting.
"You know I prefer my Roman name," he said.
She inclined her head, acknowledging the point, and said, "It's been a while. We didn't really get a chance to talk last time."
Kevin looked between the two. "What are you up to? Last time you two schemed together, you blew up a planet." He turned his gaze on Setsuna. "And I thought you and Hades weren't on speaking terms?"
"I spoke to Persephone, actually," Setsuna clarified.
"Ah," Kevin said, nodding in understanding. She'd gone to the one who really held the reins of power. "So what is this about?"
"'Trai-'? Oh, no." He shook his head and turned as his uncle entered the room. "How did they rope you into this, Uncle? Seriously, what's going on?"
Hades shrugged. "Things are changing, nephew. Olympus will have to take a more open hand in events if the world is to survive. To that end, we intend to imbue a champion with some of our power, and I'm playing my part to select her and help her improve."
"And... Persephone was bored," Hades admitted, looking away.
Kevin crossed his arms and looked between the three of them. Something was up. "Okay, what aren't you telling me? Why keep me out of the loop on this, especially since I've already met the girls?"
They exchanged looks. Finally, Setsuna broke the pregnant silence. "We're selecting a Wonder Woman."
Kevin looked at his uncle as if he were now the three headed keeper of the three headed Cerberus. "You... do remember that was just a comic book, right?"
"That's not entirely true, son," Zeus said. "Realities are bleeding together. Green Lantern, Batman, Gangbuster, even tbe Birds of Prey. Believe it or not, there's already a Superman out there too. Things have been set in motion, and we cannot stop it. We can only hope to guide it."
Kevin sighed. "And where do the Elders stand on this?"
"What makes you think they have a choice in the matter?" Zeus snorted. "None of us do. Reality is above and beyond all of us, and we either adapt or die."
"So when exactly were you planning on telling me about this?" Kevin asked.
"Preferably never," Hades said, "but realistically, when we needed you to keep your brother from meddling before we were ready."
"My brother?" Kevin blinked. "Which-? Oh. You mean Ares." He shook his head. "All right. Fine. I can see you're committed to this insanity. Is there any way I can help?"
Zeus and Setsuna traded glances.
Kevin shook his head as he watched Hades duel with the Senshi before him, sword to sword. He was perched on a nearby rooftop a comfortable distance away from where Hades had initiated another of his "evil plots."
"So, what's her story?"
"Sailor Uranus," Pluto answered. "She wields the Space Sword and isn't too fond of the new direction we're taking. She's quite skilled."
"She's still going to lose," Kevin pointed out.
Within moments, Hades expertly disarmed the Senshi, sending the Space Sword skittering across the pavement, and thrust out his free hand, unleashing a burst of energy that sent her flying.
One of the other Senshi scooped up the fallen Space Sword and attacked. Hades met the charge, locking the two blades together. Unlike the other Senshi, however, this one drove her knee into Hades's armored groin and broke the deadlock.
Hades stepped back, and Sailor Jupiter pressed the attack, putting Xena's lessons to good use as blades clashed.
The magical attack struck the pavement between the two combatants, forcing them to leap away from each other to clear the blast.
"Back off, Uranus!" Sailor Jupiter snapped. "I almost had him!"
"You don't give me orders!" Uranus snarled, leaping down beside her. "And that's my sword."
Jupiter slugged her across the jaw.
"Well, that's one way to settle an argument," Kevin muttered, rubbing his jaw and recalling more than a few of his own arguments that ended like that. "Still, I thought Mars and Moon were in charge?"
"Your uncle disabled Mars early on, and Sailor Moon..." Pluto paused, considering how to explain the dichotomy that was Usagi.
Kevin looked at her for a second before he frowned. "Hot and cold?"
"Close enough," Pluto nodded.
Meanwhile, the Inner Senshi regrouped behind the cover of Sailor Saturn's Silence Wall.
"Sailor Moon," Jupiter said, "you're the only one with enough power to take him down. We need a plan. Mercury, when Saturn drops the Silence Wall, give us some concealment. Mars, I'll need covering fire while I move in close. I'll set him up, and Venus will pin him in place for Sailor Moon to finish him off."
"Who died and made you the leader?" Mars sniped.
"You were busy being unconscious, and Moon was busy being Moon," Jupiter growled, her frayed edges starting to show a bit.
"It's a good plan," Sailor Moon declared. "Your show, Jupiter."
From their vantage point, Kevin and Sailor Pluto continued to observe in silence until Pluto spoke.
"I'm just surprised Venus isn't taking charge," she commented. "She does have more experience than the others."
"But her experience is in fighting solo," Xena said as she joined them on the rooftop. "She's actually got less experience fighting as part of a team than the other Inners."
Kevin smiled and held out his hand. "Xena. It's been a while."
"Indeed," the warrior princess said, gripping his forearm in greeting. "I like the show. I'm flattered, really. I don't recall ever being anywhere near that clean in those days."
He snorted. "You really think the audience would accept realistic hygiene from that time?"
"Moon Gorgeous Meditation!"
The trio turned their attention back to the battle, where Hades, entangled in Sailor Venus's chain was held in place in front of Sailor Moon's attack.
"Don't worry," Pluto said. "We made preparations for this eventuality. Your uncle will be fine. Come on. Let's go."
When the dust cleared, Hades stood before them, unharmed, unbound, and applauding slowly. The invisible energy shield that had been shattered by the attack had been designed specifically to counter Sailor Moon's devastating attacks and allow lesser attacks through. Although she lacked the ability to use her power efficiently enough, she was, technically, powerful enough to kill a god, and they weren't willing to take chances.
"Congratulations," he declared. "You pass."
Hades leaned away from the twitching Sailor Mars and said reasonably, "Okay, quick question, what's my Roman name?"
It was, naturally, Sailor Mercury who answered. Eyes wide, she whispered, "Pluto."
He shrugged. "She asked a favor."
"You needed to train," Sailor Pluto said, stepping out from the shadows. "His wife owed me one. Come. This isn't the place for this discussion."
Up from their vantage point, Xena turned. "Well, then, old friend, let's go."
Kevin shook his head. "No."
The warrior princess cocked an eyebrow. "You're not going to introduce yourself?"
"We've already met," he said with a shrug, "and I'd rather not advertise my heritage any more than necessary. I can meet with her later."
"Very well. See you around."
"So all this was just some sort of test?" Haruka demanded. The group had retired to the Hikawa Shrine for their discussion. "The attacks, the energy draining schemes, all of it?"
"Yes," Setsuna said.
"And the people he killed?"
"Were long dead already," Xena said. "Volunteers who wanted to stretch their legs a bit, much like myself."
"Why? What was the point? !"
"To see who was worthy."
Haruka snarled at the new arrival, "Who the hell are you? !"
"Wrong direction, sword maiden," he said, "I am Zeus, king of the gods, ruler of Olympus. And your new benefactor. One of you will be bestowed with the power of Olympus, to serve as our champion in this world and theoretically as an emissary of the Amazon nation as well."
Usagi and Minako looked hopelessly lost after "benefactor."
"And if we refuse this 'honor'?" Rei asked pointedly.
Zeus smiled serenely. "You wouldn't be who we'd want if you were the type who would, not with the world depending on you."
Ami frowned, her mind obviously trying to keep up with everything. "How will you choose which of us will be granted this... honor?"
"We already have."
"Congratulations, Makoto," Xena said.
Makoto spun, looking over the costume she was wearing. It was technically more revealing than her fuku, but only because it lacked the gloves and skirt. It was a classic Wonder Woman costume, with red top adorned with a stylized golden eagle and blue bottoms with white stars. A golden belt, red boots, and silver bracers completed the outfit, and her normally brown hair had changed to a silky black.
"Wow," she murmured. "This is amazing."
Zeus and Hades had taken their leave, as had Setsuna, leaving Gabrielle and Xena with the other Senshi.
"The bracers were forged by Hephaestus - they're virtually indestructible - and the tiara is enchanted," Gabrielle said. "The other powers - the strength, the speed, the stamina - are in you, not the costume. Most of the transformation is purely cosmetic."
"Shouldn't I have a Lasso of Truth too?" she asked.
"There is no such thing as a Lasso of Truth," Xena said as she stepped toward her. "At least, not yet." She held a sheathed sword out to her. "There is, however, this."
"What is it?" Makoto asked, accepted the blade reverently.
"It's called the Sword of Veracity," Gabrielle said. "Unsheathed, it cuts through all falsehood - including your own - leaving only truth. Use it wisely."
Makoto nodded, buckling the sword to her belt. Touching her bracers together, she willed the transformation. There was a flash of light, and she found herself transformed into plain old Makoto again.
"So," she said, "what now?"
"Now?" Gabrielle said. "Now comes the hard part."
"Indeed. About freaking time you guys picked one of them."
They turned, and both Greeks present hissed in recognition.
"Now, admittedly," the god of war said, swaggering towards them, "she wouldn't have been my first choice - I had my money on the little pyro - but I was beginning to get tired of waiting." He grinned. "We're gonna have so much fun."
"What are you talking about?" Xena demanded.
"Well, my dear," Ares said nonchalantly, "it occurs to me that she can't exactly be an emissary of the Amazons if there aren't any Amazons. Fortunately, I just couldn't let such a feisty people die out like that, so I... made arrangements."
Gabrielle snarled and stepped forward threateningly. "What did you do?"
"Ah, Gabby, Gabby, Gabby, is that any way to talk to the person who saved your people?" Ares asked with a smirk. He looked at Makoto. "So, ever been to China, kid?"
Makoto cocked an eyebrow. "Amazons in China? They aren't named after hair care products, are they?" She shook her head. "This is starting to sound like one of Rei's manga."
"Says the magical girl turned Amazon warrior," Rei snorted.
Makoto blushed. "Shut up."
So, here we are, expanding on the Emeraldverse again, in a completely different direction this time. Like L.A. Knights, I figure Love & Justice has potential as its own spin-off, if the right person writes it. Any volunteers?
And in case it wasn't clear, no, Ranma 1/2 is not part of the Emeraldverse; this is just a shout out to one of the most influential fandoms in fanfiction history.