Felice made a small dinner for the both of them that night once darkness descended. They ate in candlelight, but the atmosphere was far from romantic. So far, the evening had been quiet and peaceful. Orlando hoped that it would stay that way.
After he had asked her about her age, Orlando had asked about the small blonde.
“Oh,” Felice had said after a hesitation. “Usagi-chan. She was there when Alex and Amanda took Angelia.” Pause. “Orlando, Usagi is a Sailor Senshi like I am. Like…Angelia is.”
Orlando had reacted to the news quietly, but Felice could sense his underlying anger, his hurt feelings. “And she didn’t tell me this because…”
“She was protecting you,” Felice had insisted. “Orlando, you’re a normal guy. Well, you were a normal guy. She didn’t want you to be burdened with the knowledge. Just imagine how much danger in which you would be if she had told you beforehand. You would have been a sitting duck! Or ammunition. I do not think Angelia would want you to be those things.”
While Orlando had been considering this, Felice had decided that it was better that he’d be enlightened from this point forward.
She had explained the Sailor Senshi, who they were and what they stood for. The she had explained their male allies, the princes, and what they meant. She had given a vague treatment of Alex McLean, which had piqued Orlando’s interest.
“So what do you need me for?” Orlando had asked. “You have everything you need. Almost too much, it seems.”
Felice had gazed at him, then said, “I want you to think about that question you just asked. I might answer it later. Meanwhile, I have to make lunch.”
Perplexed, Orlando had watched her leave with a growing sense of exasperation.
Lunch had passed. Now, at dinner time, Felice had skirted the subject of their need of him, telling him only of his allies, especially the importance of Usagi. After a lull, Orlando figured that he had considered his question long enough. It was time for answers, completion.
“So…” he began, feeling Felice’s omniscient eyes on him as he picked at his plate with his fork. “I was wondering if you were going to answer my question anytime soon.”
“Yes, I am,” Felice replied. “But that all depends on what you have to tell me. Do you think we really need you?”
“Sorry, mate. Wrong answer.” She turned back to her fried rice. Orlando stared at her, shocked.
“Then enlighten me!” he exclaimed, his eyes blazing. “I would like to know the right answer if I keep coming up with all the wrong ones since you insist on keeping me in the dark!”
“Calm down,” Felice ordered gently but firmly. Orlando sighed heavily and sat back in his spot on the floor. She gestured over his shoulder. “Do you see that, there? Behind you.”
He turned to see the fireplace. “It’s just fire.”
Felice shook her head. “No, it’s not ‘just fire.’ It’s a weapon. It’s a temperament. It’s…it’s a power that must be controlled.” She placed her plate aside and scooted next to him. She smelled of ginger lily and steel, somehow. “Fire cannot be controlled by one person, since there are two kinds of fire. The fire that you see here is terrestrial fire. But the kind of fire we are concerned with, my friend, is celestial fire.”
“Celestial fire?” Orlando was incredulous.
“Sunfire,” Felice clarified. “From the sun. Hotter than Earth-fire. And more dangerous, which means it’s harder to control.” She threw a stick in the fireplace and watched it burn. “Danie? Sailor Sunfire. She cannot handle that power alone. Not to mention that it was not her destiny to handle alone.” Orlando opened his mouth to say something, but Felice raised a hand. “Relax. I’m going to be straightforward this time.
“That particular exercise before was not for my enjoyment. I wanted to test your self-worth. That and your observation skills.”
“Self-worth?” Observation skills seemed the more logical of the two.
“You need to be confident in yourself to control the power that will be awakened inside you, Orlando. It’s not an easy element to control. I might as well warn you of that.” She stared into his eyes. “There is a man that is after you. You have seen him. You have tried to fight him. You will get your chance again. But you cannot fight him until you are ready.”
“This man must be Alex, the current Sun Prince, as you put it,” Orlando said.
Felice nodded. “Yes. He has turned evil and will be stripped of his powers soon.” She looked into the fire again. “If you are not awakened to receive the power of Nova, Daniella will take the brunt of it and have to deal with her own power and yours, which could lead to her death. We cannot have her die. Her descendants are very important to us.” Her eyes met his again. “As are yours. But you have to be trained for them to exist.”
Felice rose to take the dinner plates to the kitchen. While she was gone, Orlando sat and turned his gaze upon the fire as she had before.
The truth was, the whole experience was dizzying so far. He had gone from a normal guy trying to pursue his dreams in the arts, then in a flash, he was stuck in the middle of a battle in which he was the deciding factor. Not to mention that Angelia was still missing. It was overwhelming. It was unbelievable. It was…
His thoughts trailed off when Felice entered the room again. She sat down on the wooden floor beside him. He was shocked to discover that she held two popsicles in each hand. Cherry- and orange-flavored, no less.
“Here.” She offered him the popsicle. “I think you ought to eat these while I explain a couple of things.” Shrugging, he took it and unwrapped a cherry one, not thinking to ask the reason for this particular ritual. “Tomorrow, we start training. You don’t have to worry about anyone interrupting, because no one knows where we are. It’s a long story how I managed that, by the way, so don’t ask.”
“Oh, I wasn’t,” Orlando assured her. “It’s not like you answer all my questions in a timely fashion anyway.”
Felice bit the insides of her mouth, then spoke again when the urge to harangue him had passed.
“Anyhow,” she continued, “after we’re done, I will present you to my allies. Well, our allies, at that point. I’m sure at that point Amanda and Alex would have made an ultimatum.”
“Hm. Let me guess.” Orlando finished off the first popsicle then threw the wooden stick in the fire. “They’re going to want Angelia for me.”
Felice shrugged. “Possibly. If my prior knowledge serves me right, they might want you both.”
“You and Danie,” Felice explained. “It would eliminate your descendents and hers, and render us without Senshi in the future to possess the power of Sunfire. Apparently, Danie and Amanda are not the best of friends, so it is very likely she will try to get rid of her, too. Though she could do it either way. The point is, if it comes to that, you have to be strong enough to stop her. You will be, once I’m done with you.”
Orlando snorted. “Oh? And what is it that you do again?”
Felice glared at him. “Don’t forget who’s training you.”
“Oh, I haven’t forgotten.”
Felice rolled her eyes as he started on the third popsicle.
After the fourth, she asked, “Do you feel any cooler now?”
He gave her a look. “Gee, should I answer that or let you think about it?” When she gave him another warning glare, he chuckled. “Oh alright. I do feel cooler. There. Happy?”
“Overjoyed.” She said it with such biting sarcasm that Orlando had to laugh. “Stop laughing. You’re letting the cool air out of your body and you’re going to need it.” When he frowned at her, she added, “That’s why I had you eat those popsicles. Why ever else?”
“I don’t know,” Orlando admitted. “I just thought you were bonkers.”
Felice sighed and rose. “Alright, kneel before me. No smart comments, either.” Orlando obeyed. “Turn your head up. Good.” She placed a palm on his forehead. “This is going to burn for a moment, and only just for a moment. Afterwards, you’ll feel a bit warmer until your body acclimates. But whatever discomfort you feel, don’t flinch.”
Orlando nodded, feeling a bit apprehensive. A part of him almost yelled at her to stop. Then the other, the part that was concerned with saving Angelia, shushed his fears. He steeled himself for whatever came next.
He closed his eyes.
“I call upon the powers of the Sun and the Celestial Plane,” Felice began in a soft voice. “Give me the power to bequeath this destiny upon its rightful owner. Helios, Apollo, Queen Aidanne—awaken the fiery spirit that has been lying dormant for centuries—awaken to fight. Royal ancestors of Nova—bless this child to fight with skill, fairness, and firmness of heart. Fire Children—lend us your allegiance in this battle of Right and Wrong to this new warrior.” In a whisper, she finished: “Now.”
The first sensation he felt was in fact that of burning. It was worse than the burn that he’d had on his arm from the fire in Angelia’s apartment. He clenched his teeth as Felice murmured something under her breath. The burning ceased and gave way to a feeling of mild discomfort. He was overly warm now. Just as Felice had said.
Felice took her hand away from Orlando’s forehead. The Sunfire symbol glowed orange-red for a minute, then it disappeared. Orlando collapsed, then fell forward. Figuring that she’d best not strain herself carrying him to her bed, she laid his head in her lap and waited for him to wake up.
* * *
“Hello, Orlando,” said the woman in the orange-red robe. “So we meet again.”
They were not in Crystal Tokyo this time. He could sense it, even though the scenery was very similar, except a pink forest began some few yards behind the woman. Serenity and Chibi-Usa were not present this time. But the dark-haired woman with the orange robe was, and she sat on the ground before him. She appeared amused and relieved.
He asked where they were. “The Cloud Nine Kingdom, near the Sakura Tree Grove.” She glanced around. “It is very peaceful here…”
“Perhaps you can explain to me why you showed up in my mirror,” Orlando suggested.
The woman laughed. “My child, that is obvious. I had to scare you into pursing the truth somehow. You weren’t being very active on your own.”
“Will you tell me who you are?”
She shook her head. “Not here. We will meet later, when you are awake. And you will remember me better.” She patted his hand. “You will meet us all. But now, as Soul Angel has ordained it, you must awaken. Your training is the most important thing right now. After that, then we can talk.”