Dejana's Writing

The Becoming
a Sailormoon fanfiction by Dejana Talis
-not to be used without permission-

Written for sm_monthly, January 2008 (Silver Millennium) Day Three (Labyrinth).

The grelnor lay dead, its sickly yellow blood seeping into the ground. Rexiel backed away from the body, gulping air, keeping one eye on the creature to watch for the slightest movement. Her victory was not without price. Red liquid dripped onto the grass from a gash in her arm. Bending down, Rexiel ripped the hem of her dress and tore off a long strip. She bound the wound tightly, spitting on the corpse of her foe as she did so.

Her trainer had been right, although Rexiel vowed never to admit it to him. Her long hair was a hindrance that had nearly cost her her life. The storms would stop spinning before she'd cut it off, though. It was one of the few shreds of femininity she allowed herself to keep.

Rexiel wound her hair into a ponytail and tugged a jeweled bracelet off her wrist. The bauble's cords were elastic, and they bound the hair surprisingly well. Rexiel gave the ponytail a few experimental swishes, and when it did not shift, nodded her approval and bounded deeper into the maze.

If Rexiel's tutor could have seen her now - skirt torn, skin smeared with dirt and sweat and blood - the old woman would surely have cried. Adriene wanted so badly for Rexiel to become a lady. The elder princesses had grown into refined young women under Adriene's tutelage, and Rexiel knew the tutor regarded her as a personal failure. Still, she could not bring herself to feel too sorry for it. For as long as she could remember, Rexiel had regarded her sisters' elegance and grace as nothing but weakness. In the capital, the ruling kingdom of their world, there were female warriors in equal numbers among the men. Even their strongest defender, their planet's legendary powerhouse, was always a woman. Since she was very young, Rexiel knew she would settle for nothing less.

She relished the whisper of the grass beneath her boots as she ran further into the labyrinth. The path that had led Rexiel to the tournament had not been an easy one. She remembered how the officials had laughed at her, standing there in her long dress and royal jewelry. She was not like the hardened warriors in full battle regalia that had stood beside her at the starting point. Neither was she like the other princesses, who hovered in the royal box simpering and fawning over anyone who came near. Rexiel was different, unique among all others of her race, and she intended to prove it. The blush that had burned her cheeks when she insisted on entering the contest was long gone. She was sure they had all expected her to flee the maze at the first sign of danger, but she had already defeated three enemies.

Her footsteps slowed as she approached yet another intersection. This deep in the labyrinth, the challenge was becoming much harder. Early on, the path to safety was clear, to allow the weaker competitors to forfeit without harm. At this late stage, all the passages looked the same.

Rexiel closed her eyes and struggled to calm her labored breathing. She knew she was close to the center, but she had no idea where her opponents might be. Every second counted; she couldn't afford to waste time on dead ends.

She flexed her hands slowly at her sides, matching her breathing to their forced rhythm. Overhead, the storm clouds rolled, dry as yet but rustling the high hedges of the maze with their winds. The leaves surrounding Rexiel shivered and whispered, sighing their secrets into her ears. She forced all other thoughts aside - her tiny kingdom, aching for the glory her victory would bring; her father, bound to oppose her choices publicly but praising her in private; her trainer's rare words of encouragement when she left on her journey - and opened her mind to the wisdom of the trees.

Her eyes popped open and her head whipped around. She found herself facing a pathway, alike to all the others a moment ago but suddenly the only rational choice. Whispering a brief thanks to the rustling leaves, Rexiel barreled down the corridor, her heart once again caught in a feverent pounding.

The hedges were whispering something else. As her connection to the greenery faded away, Rexiel caught a frantic warning of danger. Another enemy lay ahead. She tried to focus on the words of the trees once more, but all the leaves gave her was an impression of terrible speed.


Rexiel's hair was bound up, but it was possible she might need every potential edge. She had come too far to risk it all without making every possible preparation. What else had slowed her down in her previous battles?

She glanced down. Her long dress billowed in the wind, clinging to her legs and threatening to catch on the leaves. Adriene would scream if she knew a lady of Rexiel's rank was even considering such a thing... but if her life was at stake, this was no time for modesty.

Rexiel bent down and seized the forest-green fabric in both hands. A harsh ripping cut the air as it tore, parting from her ankles to mid-thigh. She rent it across to the sides as well, shortening the dress into a skirt that barely made it past her hips. For a moment, she shivered, suddenly exposed to the chill wind, but before long a mischievous grin curled her lips. She was about as far from being a princess now as she could ever be.

She ran on, and delighted in the feel of the wind against her legs and the way the ground flew away beneath her without all that cloth holding her back. With a short green skirt in place of her long dress, Rexiel would look more like some of the warrior women she was racing.

It wasn't long before the change in clothing served its purpose. As Rexiel burst into a clearing, a sharp growl hissed into her ear and a blast of wind whisked past her back. She darted to the center of the space and turned around to see a saecius, one of the planet's cruelest creatures, tugging its claws free from the ground she had crossed. Had Rexiel still been encumbered by her flowing skirt, the saecius would certainly have caught her.

Her heart leapt into her throat as the monster launched itself forward, rustling the leaves of the hedges as it passed. Rexiel threw herself to the side, her mind working furiously. Saeci were not strong, but their speed was almost unmatched and their energy nearly boundless. Rexiel had to get close, and quickly, or she would soon be overcome. She leapt back and dodged again as the creature jumped toward her, slashing at her face with its curved talons. Its reach was a terror in itself, its arms nearly as long as it was tall. Rexiel felt a few strands of hair slip past her face as the monster's swipes barely missed her.

There was no time to think; only to act. Rexiel bent low and lunged toward the saecius, surprising it with her sudden offensive. She yanked free the knife that was strapped to her ankle and came up with it firmly in hand, slipping beneath her enemy's long arms and burying the weapon in its chest.

The saecius shrieked and reared up, blood pouring from the wound. Its arms lashed out for Rexiel, but she ducked and rolled, leaping back to her feet at a safe distance. The monster stumbled forward a few steps, and then fell. Rexiel watched it for a moment, but it lay still.

As soon as she was certain it was dead she broke back into a run, resolving to return later to retrieve her knife. The end was very close now, she could almost taste it, and for all she knew one of her opponents was about to beat her to the finish. She strained her weary muscles to their limit and ran as fast as her legs could carry her, navigating the final few turns at top speed. At last, the walls of the labyrinth parted before her, and Rexiel barreled into the open space at the center of the maze.

It was vacant, save for a reclining figure in a white and green robe. The tall woman rose from her chair as Rexiel approached, smiling in amusement at the runner's curious glances around her. She was the first. Rexiel had won.

She stumbled to a halt at the base of the platform, struggling to catch her breath and suddenly ashamed of her ragged appearance. The woman waiting was composed and serene, every hair in place, her robe hanging from her shoulders like the raiment of a goddess. Only the tiara on her forehead betrayed her identity as the most powerful warrior of their world.

Rexiel forced herself to stand straight, although she clutched a stitch in her side. She knew the woman standing before her was fierce in battle; countless stories sang the praises of her strength. Even now, in her advancing age, the lady's well-developed muscles were evident beneath her robe. Yet she looked just as much a lady as Rexiel's pampered elder sisters. For a moment Rexiel felt the twinge of regret. Had she been wrong to come here? Was she not the sort they were seeking after all?

The lady stepped forward. She was smiling. Rexiel heard a sharp curse behind her as one of her opponents made it to the clearing too late, but she did not look away. The woman's face was captivatingly beautiful, but her expression was surprisingly understanding.

A slim rod was pressed into Rexiel's hand. She looked down to see a smooth green stick, topped with the symbol of the planet set in gold. This was the final test. She had raced to win the right to be trained as the next planetary warrior, but in the end, it was the power itself that would choose its wielder. Rexiel had to say the words, to put her trust in the unknown energy and see if it would accept her. For months she had anticipated and feared this moment. After all she had done, there was still a chance it would come to nothing. Oddly, as she looked at the transformation stick, she felt a strange rush of confidence. Somehow, she knew she had no reason to fear. This was what she had been born to do.

Rexiel raised the stick high above her head as the entire world held its breath.

"Jupiter Power! Make Up!"

The End
Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon and its associated characters and canon are the property of Naoko Takeuchi and Kodansha.
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