|Heir to the Empire
Author: Ozzallos PM
Usagi Tsukino is the heir to Serenity's Silver Millennium. She's also about to get the surprise of her life, as is one Ranma Saotome, Heir to the Anything Goes school of Martial Arts. COMPLETE.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Drama/Adventure - Ranma - Chapters: 8 - Words: 112,734 - Reviews: 740 - Favs: 896 - Follows: 442 - Updated: 01-13-07 - Published: 02-12-06 - Status: Complete - id: 2797728
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
NEW HOME PAGE AT: www (dot) rakhal (dotcom) /ozzallos/index.htm
"You know, one of these days we're gonna look back on this and just laugh." Queen Serenity, ruler of one of the most powerful empire in the universe pointed out as another burst of white energy flew from her hand, carving into the ranks of power armor pressing toward her. The black shaded combat armors withstood the beam's enormous potential momentarily before being cut down into a glowing molten slag. Her white formal dress was easily at odds with the raging warfare surrounding them
"Over sake and moon cakes, your Highness?" Sailor Pluto spun around, unleashing a Dead Scream into another platoon of the bulky combat units encroaching on their left flank. The ball of pink death plowed through several ranks before detonating deep inside their formation.
"Yeah, something like that." Serenity paused, affecting a wistful look before lashing out at one of the larger four legged armors as it spat plasma at her from one of its many turrets. Three legs came off as the line of energy intersected with them, sending the lumbering armor to the earth. "But I was thinking something more along the lines of Mercury fire wine and crackers."
Pluto scoffed at the suggestion as another half dozen mecha evaporated under her assault. "Light weight."
"Push over." Serenity retorted. "So when are those girls of yours going to get her?" A plume of fire accompanied the question, sending a magical white hot mushroom into the dusk sky ...In addition to a few hundred tons of atomized reactive plating.
"Dropping in fifty seconds, your highness." Sailor Pluto reported and returned to her negotiations, taking a out a mech that had strayed to close to their position with a Chronos Typhoon. The time storm tore through its armor like tissue paper, rendering it an impotent heap. Yeah, the negotiations were going really swell. At least they had been up until fifteen minutes ago, where upon a state visit to negotiate the Hyrdri Cluster's territorial annexation had turned into an ambush. Serenity improvised point defense as a trio of fighter-bombers streaked over head. Guided beams flashed out from the Queen, eviscerating the fragile aircraft as they blew overhead.
Damn she hated assassination attempts.
Well that's what you get for trying to bring a backward sector of the galaxy out of the dark ages, Pluto thought sarcastically. No good deed ever goes unpunished, and Serenity chan had been doing her share of those lately… Sometimes at gunpoint. The Senshi counted down the remaining time. Reinforcements oughta be arriving right about…"SPACE SWORD BLASTER!"
…Now. Pluto smiled as two women in skin tight body suits descended from the on high, riding their attacks home in a spectacular display of chaotic destruction. The pair of newcomers tore into the rear enemy lines with feral intensity, and anything that wasn't washed away by an elemental flood was quickly sliced apart by the flashing energy blade.
Queen Serenity took a break from her workout, watching the two take their enemy apart from behind. Serenity arched an eyebrow. "Energetic, aren't they, Set-chan?"
"Eager to please." Setsuna corrected as a large blocky drop ship rumbled overhead. "Royal marines in thirty seconds. Orders?"
The Queen surveyed the destruction wrought around them, and spared a moment to watch Sailors Uranus and Neptune clean up the last of the shattered strike force with a sigh. Well, she had given them the easy way out and they passed it up. "The hard way it is, then."
Sailor Pluto nodded, her face taking a mask of seriousness. She motioned the disembarking commander of the royal marines over, who stepped up to them sharply. Silver plated troops bearing heavy weaponry flowed around their position, forming a defensive ring around the ladies. "Take the planet apart, Commander. Quarter to any who ask it."
The commander snapped smartly into a half bow. "Your will, m'lady, your Highness." Serenity nodded and the officer produced a sharp about face. She turned her eyes to the sky and found more of the bulbous ships making their orbit to atmosphere decent. Pluto secreted a sidelong glance to her friend and monarch, who stared into the darkening sky. She didn't like this part. Sure, Utada Minor and the surrounding cluster of stars would be a better place when they were done, but in the mean time they'd have to settle for copious amounts of destruction. Hopefully the local government would have the common sense to not put up a big fuss. If they did, their forces would have to get serious and the Queen wasn't exactly the most social when she was serious.
As if hearing her thoughts, Queen Serenity's eyes broke from their stargazing. Her face mirrored Pluto's serious mask. "Let's go, Set-chan. Time to finish this."
"EEEEIIIIiiIiiiGGGGHHHHHH!" Kenji Tsukino choked on his coffee, spitting into the paper he had been reading while his wife Ikuko pause in her breakfast preparation, cocking her head curiously.
Usagi blew into kitchen, flailing wildly and the pink towel she was wrapped in threatened to come off any minute. She looked around frantically and the two parents stared at her with mounting curiosity. "What's gone, honey?"
The blonde stopped her flailing immedietly, eyes widening. "Uh… heheh heheh… Nothing!"Her mother took a step toward the frozen girl. "Are you sure? You're not sick, are you?"
"Nope! Just fine!" Usagi forced a smile, backing into the hallway and out of sight. As soon as she was gone from view, the parents heard more frantic footsteps followed by the crash of several clattering items. Both parents looked at one another and minutes later, a blond clad in the usual school uniform blew by, yelling a hurried "bye!" before the door slammed closed behind her.
A half an hour later and nine Senshi later, an adrenaline seized Usagi had gathered her friends at the Cherry hill shrine, having called in an emergency meeting. The reactions to this early morning summons were mixed, to say the least. Ami and Hotaru seemed to be faring the best of the group, waiting patiently while Rei, Makato and Minako lapsed in and out of their drowsy coma. Haruka and Michiru sat with annoyed expressions and Setsuna stood by impassively waiting for inevitable explanation."It's GONE!"
Setsuna merely arched an eyebrow and the more awake attendees looked at her with quizzled expressions on their faces. Minako snored soundly."What," Haruka stressed with annoyance. "is missing?"
"The Ginzuishou!" Moon proclaimed with wide eyes, jolting any fatigue lingering around out of the remaining Senshi.
"YOU LOST THE GINZUISHOU!" Minako bolted upright from sleeping stupor. It was an action mirrored by most of the Senshi, who now crowded around the panicked blond.
"Um, how can you lose the last, most powerful artifact of the Silver Millennium, Usagi?" Ami twitched and summoned the Mercury computer out of ether.
Rei gaped at the magnitude of the disaster. "That's what I would like to know, Meatball head!"
"I don't know!" Usagi pleaded as the others badgered her. "I just woke up this morning and it was gone!"
"From where?" Setsuna asked perhaps one of the more useful questions of the morning. "Did you anchor it to your soul like I taught you?""Uh-huh!" Moon shook her head sharply. "And it wasn't there when I woke up!"
Setsuna nodded calmly, as if the information hadn't been nearly as disturbing at the others were taking it. "The stone is keyed to the Serenity bloodline, which means we should have plenty of time before whoever took it can actually use it." She paused, and a slightly evil smile crossed her face. "And with any luck, it'll cause them severe pain in the process. The Ginzuishou doesn't take kindly to usurpers of its power."
"Ok, then we have some time to look for it." Usagi nodded, calming slightly. Still the thought of having lost such a powerful artifact and her mother's only heirloom weighed heavily on her mind. Her spirits perked up suddenly. "Oh darn, looks like we'll have to miss school to search for it."
"You sure you didn't lose it on purpose, bubblehead?" Haruka leaned in skeptically and received a rude tongue in her direction.
Setsuna would have smiled a bit more had the threat of the Ginzuishou falling into the wrong hands not been so high, and the fact that their opponent had been able to graft it from the Princesses very soul spoke volumes about the potential threat they faced.
No, the Guardian of Time wasn't looking forward to that confrontation at all.
Nabiki's face scrunched with irritation as the door opened anyway, revealing one well built black haired martial artist named Ranma Saotome. She shook her head at having been interrupted, but managed to console herself with the fact that her favorite income source had come to her instead of her wasting the effort to track him down.
"Hey Nabs, whatcha doing?" he peered on to the bed she was now sitting up on and she affected her icy mask, closing the books from his prying eyes.
"Entertaining clueless martial artists, apparently." She quipped, gathering the logs and depositing them into a nearby dresser drawer. "Time is money, Saotome."
Ranma nodded, well versed with this particular aspect of the middle Tendo. "Need your help."
Nabiki smiled. It wasn't a warm, inviting one. "Of course you do. The usual fee."
"I'll take your usual fee outta the damages to my mom's place."
Nabiki blinked as the usually guiless face dropped any pretense of the clueless martial artist she knew so well, settling into a serious expression of stone. Not only was it a sharp departure from Ranma's usual behavior, it was one of the few, if only times he had her dead to rights. The damage to his mother's place during the wedding party a week ago had been quite extensive, and a majority of it could be traced either directly or indirectly back to her. Sure, she was extracting her portion of the payment from the other fiancées and various combatants, but it wasn't the money Ranma was using as leverage. He was calling in a marker. Even so, she hadn't been expected him to realize he even had one until much later, where upon she could play down its significance.
She sighed. "Alright, let's get this over with then. What do you need?"
Ranma dug into his pocket, pulling out a medium sized silk pouch bound by a simple drawstring. "Need you to find out what this is."
He tossed the brown pouch to her and she looked at him curiously, and loosened the string, dumping the contents into her hand. Her eyes instantly widened as it fell into her hand. "Saotome, where in the hell did you get this?" She held the large faceted crystalline stone up to the room light above, and marveled at its flawless beauty. No way was it glass. Not a chance.
"Don't worry about it." He brushed past the question. "I just need to know what it is."
"One mother of a diamond by the looks of it." She breathed, rotating it in the light. Light refracted though it, creating a beautiful kaleidoscope of color. She pulled it back down and walked over to her desk, pulling a small box from the top right drawer. From the box, she retrieved a small eyepiece and wedged it into her left eye peering at the crystal intently. It only took a minute for her to confirm what her informal appraisal had told her. "Absolutely flawless. Saotome, you just made us very, very rich."
"No I haven't." Nabiki's head snapped up off the treasure and onto him. It wasn't the answer she wanted to hear. "In fact, you aren't gonna breath a word about this."
Nabiki's expression soured. He had just shown her one of the biggest, most absolutely flawless diamonds in the world and he wasn't going to turn it around for a profit? No marker was going to get him out of this. "And what makes you think I'll do that, Saotome?"
"That's the rock that saved your sister."
Few things would have swayed Nabiki from her quest to make money off the martial artist, let alone one in possession of such a priceless treasure. She nearly dropped it as he uttered the words. "This thing… saved…?"
Ranma nodded, relaxing somewhat now that he had successfully communicated the fact that it wasn't for sale. "What else can you tell me about it?"
Nabiki cast a piercing stare into Ranma, considering his words. He couldn't lie to save his life, and she was convinced that he was telling her the truth, which also meant that he was asking her more than just the value of one of the largest diamonds she had ever seen. Just her luck that it would be cursed or something. "Well, aside from the fact that it's one of the largest, most flawless diamonds I've ever laid eyes on, it's too perfect."
"What do ya mean, 'too perfect'?"
Nabiki donned the jewelers' eyepiece once again, squinting into the crystal. "Well first of all, it's abnormally large. Diamonds just don't grow this large without incurring stress fractures. Not only is this thing huge for a diamond, it's absolutely perfect." She took the eyepiece out, and examined it normally. "Every diamond is flawed, though some are so minute as not to matter. This one has none."
"Fake diamond then?" Ranma asked, wondering if it was one of those cubic zirconium things.
"Not a chance." Nabiki shook her head, staring into the stone longingly. "This baby is one hundred percent all natural. If you don't want to part with this one, mind telling me where its friends are?"
"I don't think there's another one like it." Ranma voice lowered thoughtfully, causing Nabiki to look at him funny.
She handed the bare stone back to the distracted boy, pressing it into hand. "Ok, Saotome, what aren't you telling me?" As soon as the crystal touched his palm, silver tendrils snaked out from it, flowing along his body with bright light and processing the change from he to she. Nabiki snatched her own hand back in shock. "What the hell?"
Ranma tore her eyes off the stone to find Nabiki staring at him incredulously. Her eyes fell back to the stone. "Ya shouldn't have done that, Nabs."
"Done what? What the hell just happened?"
"I put it in the bag for a reason…." Her voice dropped to a whisper, and he found himself being drawn into its crystalline folds. Ranma's thumb caressed the surface, and she absently turned toward the door. "Thanks for your help, Nabs…"
Nabiki watched as the pig-tailed girl depart from her room, staring at the small fortune in her hands as if it were the only thing in the universe that mattered.
"Tenka Shunmetsu Koukyuu Dan!"
Saffron's final attack roared in on them, denying Ranma those precious few second to formulate a last ditch defense to keep them both alive. Freezing himself with the Gekkaja had been scrapping the bottom of the barrel and he'd have the scar from that if he survived the giant fireball raging toward them, which he wouldn't. Oh sure, he'd go down fighting, but…
A tug at his chest.
Akane was airborne.
The doll-like body flew out ahead, cutting a hole through Saffron's final attack. Ranma watched as horror filtered through his psyche once again. If there was nothing left, Akane would either die in the godling's fires or fall to the earth and certain death. No. Not today. Too many people had already died on his watch. Another was sacrificing herself. He couldn't let it happen. Power bubbled up from the core of his being and he eagerly accepted the offering.
Ranma rode the power spike to its fullest potential and sighted down the window Akane Tendo created for him. There he was... The winged bastard. Ready to cut her down.
Not in this lifetime.
Or any other.
The horizontal tornado carved through Akane's opening, breaching the Phoenix god's final attack. Saffron removed his eyes from the falling girl just in time to watch the wind born scythe reach into his chest, tearing it apart with elemental fury. Ranma frowned as his enemy fell to the earth dying. That hadn't been ki—couldn't have been ki. He had been throwing that stuff at the creature throughout the entire battle without play and now all of a sudden it was enough to punch a hole through him? Ranma knew he was the best, but being the best also means knowing yourself and your limits. Maybe if he had dumped everything into a single attack, he could have reamed the godling outright, but he had long since passed that point. No, there had been nothing left for an attack of that magnitude, yet there it was.
But there was no time to consider that now, as Akane Tendo fell to Earth, her life force stretched well beyond her endurance. The fact that she had survived this long had been a miracle in itself, but she was faltering. Even if she did survive the drop, her lifespan was being measured in seconds, and Ranma plunged after her. First the water.
"Hiryu Gyoten Haaa!"
The tornado fist severed the dragon spout, beheading the stone monument as the falling martial artist gathered Akane into his arms. The neck shattered and the head spun impossibly around, crashing down into the stump as water tore skyward from its mouth. Akane rehydrated as the shower met the sky born couple, but her life force continued to leak away even as the curse redhead touched down. Water rained down around them and Ranma searched frantically for a pulse. The finger on her neck told Ranma what Akane's aura already had… She was dying.
No. Ranma tensed as the possibility entered her mind. No. Not again. Too many… There had to be something to bring her back from the brink… Something. But what? She wasn't a god. She didn't have the power to resurrect people. She didn't… wait. There was something. She couldn't do it, but something could. But what? The redheaded martial artist clutched her head, wracking her brain. She knew of something, and it was right on the edge of her memories… What?
Akane coughed. Ranma instinctively knew it would be her last.
NO! What was it! All she had to do was call it… Reach for it… Being her last hope of salvation, Ranma reached out with her minds eye. IT came into focus… A crystal… A soft glow surrounded the martial artist and she felt the weight in her hand. There it was, her mind's eye manifest. Her next actions were entire instinctual as she fed power into the relic, focusing on the youngest Tendo and feeding life energy back into her. Ranma pulled back from the link and staunched the flow. What the hell was she even doing? Would she live? Die? Ranma Saotome stared down at the limp girl in her arms…
Only time would tell.
"…can you believe it?" Akane growled, and buried her chopsticks back into the noodles, picking out a shrimp. Silence greeted her question, and the youngest sister looked up from her dish, mildly annoyed that no response was forth coming. There were several things she expected to see from Ranma Saotome, the top of that list being a stuffed face full of food. Failing that, she was sure to see him engaging his father in chopstick-fu.
Surprisingly, she found neither of those.
What she did find, however, was the redhead staring vacantly into space. "Ranma?" No response. She leaned over and nudged him with an elbow. "Raaaaannmmmmaaaaa?"
Ranma blinked several times before returning to the world around her, finding all eyes riveted to her person. "Uh… heh… Got something on my face?"
"You zoned out there, Saotome." Nabiki commented with a mask of neutrality. Kasumi nodded in affirmation.
"Not sick, are you boy?" Genma leaned forward, staring at his son intently. After all, it wasn't often that the boy in question allowed his plate to be swept clean of food these days. Likewise, Nodoka radiated concern for her only son.
Ranma's eyes flicked back and forth with apprehension. "Uh, no. Not sick. Thanks for askin'."
Genma's eyebrow immediately arched as his mind replayed the impossible words. Thanks for asking?
Nabiki's mindset immediately dropped into DEFCON one. Ranma didn't give apologies. If he did, they were normally terse and only under extreme duress. Neither condition existed here, so what the hell? Several elements clicked into place for the middle sister and her gaze narrowed sharply on the girl. She was all but certain that the glittering object lay somewhere on her person.
"You're still a girl, Saotome." She observed pointedly and for a nearly imperceptible moment, Ranma ceased all movement.
"Drop it, Nabs." Ranma grumbled and picked at her remaining food with deliberate precision, not looking up. Anybody who failed to notice anything out of the ordinary before now directed their undivided attention onto the red head. Kasumi and Soun may have been content to simply watch the incident unfold, his father however was not.
"Why haven't you changed back, boy?" Genma Saotome menaced, a sentiment echoed by his wife.
"Indeed, it isn't very manly to stay in your girl form." Nodoka echoed with a frown.
Her reply was the soft click of chopsticks as Ranma set them down on the unfinished plate. She cast a sharp glance over at Nabiki before rising from the table. Akane wanted to join the inquision but held her peace. She already knew that dispatching Saffron hadn't sat well with Ranma and for once was more than willing to give her the space to wrestle with whatever ghost was haunting her at the moment.
Ranma turned to Kasumi with a warm smile. "Thanks for the meal, Kas-chan."
With that, Ranma was gone into the night before more questions arose.
"The Ginzuishou?" Usagi leaned forward with interest, prompting the Senshi of Mercury to shake her head.
"Not exactly," She clarified. "But I am picking up minute bursts of Silver Millennium energy north of here, about eight kilometers. Can't think of anything else it might be."
Michiru looked at her blonde partner. "Shall we go in force and liberate it?"
Before Haruka could formulate a reply, Setsuna stepped in. "No." She had everybody's complete attention now. "Ami, what is the location?"
"Mmmm…" The cobalt blue haired girl converted the coordinates. "Nerima district."
"That's what I thought." Setsuna pursed her lips. "We wait."
"Wait?" Usagi echoed, not sure she just heard what she thought she heard. They had a lead on an artifact that they were to retrieve at all costs and she had just said they were going to wait? The blond wasn't the only one with those thoughts.
"It's been a week now. Surely we've got to grab the Ginzuishou as soon as possible?" Haruka forwarded what she thought was the most logical solution to the problem they all faced.
Setsuna shook her head. "Not according to my future self. In fact, I've been told to stay away from Nerima until we're invited."
"Invited… to retrieve the Ginzuishou?" Usagi tried to wrap her brain around what she was being told. It was theirs. They didn't need an invitation…. Did they?
The green haired Senshi of Time paused, frowning slightly. "I realize that the message is remarkably… vague, but I'm sure there is a good reason behind it." There had to be, she thought silently. I'm the one giving myself the advice, right?
"Ok, so what do we do in the mean time?" Moon was clearly unhappy with the proposition, but willing to go along with the plan for now.
"You…" Setsuna pointed at the blonde for dramatic effect. "Get to go school."
Usagi scowled. "Rats!"
It was a largely rhetorical question to Nabiki, since it certainly looked like that was going to be the case. They closed on her, and Ranma offered them both a friendly smile, which in turn weirded Nabiki out to no end. Ranma didn't just hand out warm, friendly smiles. Oh sure, she did smile a lot… But they were overconfident smirks, for the most part. They joined up and continued their walk together, chit chatting about the math test today and other mundane events, when Akane found she couldn't take it anymore.
"Let's swing by Tofu's and get some hot water." The youngest Tendo probed only to find Ranma dismissing the suggestion outright.
"Nah, it's okay, Akane." She smiled. "I'm good."
Nabiki decided to capitalize on Akane's opening. "Where's the rock, Saotome?"
Ranma's pleasant demeanor chilled somewhat with the question. "Nabs…."
"You've got it on you right now, don't you?" Nabiki pressed. Akane watched the pair carefully, trying to discern a conversation she was totally in the dark about.
"None of your business, Nabiki." The pleasantness had all but evaporated from the redhead's voice now.
"It's worth a fortune, saved my sister here and is making you act really, really strange." Nabiki ticked off the points. "I'm making it my business." She paused, then added. "It locks your curse, doesn't it?"
Ranma stopped, and a thoughtful expression spread across her face, as if realizing something. "That's why it was in the bag…"
"What rock? Ranma's locked? Somebody better tell me what the heck is going on!" Akane's ire rose sharply, having been left out of crucial details as to Ranma strange behavior.
"Better show her, Saotome." The suggestion was greeted by a weary sigh, and Ranma pulled the sparkling crystal from his pocket. Morning sunlight refracted brilliantly throughout its structure and once again, Nabiki was filled with the burning desire at auction it off to the highest bidder.
Akane gaped, and for the first time in her life, was afflicted with her sister's avarice. "That can't be… My God, it's worth a fortune!"
"Among other things," Nabiki stared, half mesmerized. "That and it's magical, if not cursed."
"No…" Ranma started, feeling the warmth in his hands. It was utterly addictive. "Not cursed. That much I'm certain of."
"It locks your girl-type." Nabiki retorted. "Last you mentioned, anything that does that is a curse in and of itself."
"So I was wrong. Sue me."
Both stared at Ranma with those last words. Something was definitely wrong. She treated her female form like a throwaway convenience, nothing more. Beyond being useful from time to time it wasn't everyday wear for the martial artist.
Nabiki came to a decisive conclusion first. "Lose the rock, Saotome."
Ranma stopped short and stared at the middle Tendo as if she was speaking an alien language. "Huh?"
Akane stepped up next to her sister. "We think it's making you act weird, Ranma."
"Hmmf." Ranma rolled her eyes. "Says you."
"Seriously," Nabiki put her hands to her hips staring down Ranma with her best business mask. "I saw it lock your curse. That doesn't mean anything to you?"
"Look, whatever." Ranma shook her head and turned back down the road to school. "It ain't for sale, so back off."
Both sisters watched Ranma chuckle to herself and continue down the road alone. Akane stared after her form a moment before turning back to Nabiki with a worried, yet determined look. "We need to talk. Now."
Nabiki nodded. It was definitely time to talk about Ranma… And how to liberate that damn stone from his person for all their mutual benefit.
Normally a ship as formidable as the Agamemnon wouldn't be present for something simple as penetrating the enemies last line of defense, save for the fact this was the last of the enemy, their last system and their last, final line of defense. It was an event that warranted the presence of the fleet's only Hyperion class heavy dreadnaught and Queen Serenity's flagship.
A light squadron of six enemy cruisers and four battleships accelerated out from behind the second moon of one of the systems more inconsequential planets and painted the Queen's Fifth Battle Group with their attack sensors. All in all it was a rather successful surprise attack, if not utterly and completely futile in nature given the disparity in mass and numbers against the opponent they faced. The launch of their first guided weapons marked their deaths, as thirty warships brought their own weapons to bear. Even as the enemies fire ablated against the fleets combined point defense, the queen's sword roared in like a tidal wave. One instant the short squadron was there, the next it ceased to exist, as Elerium fury tore the space around them apart.
Princess Pluto arched an eyebrow as the giant tactical screen in front of her erupted into white-hot fire. "Apparently they had a few hold outs in-system." Queen Serenity nodded at the green hair woman standing next to her from her command chair.
A middle aged officer dressed stepped up to the pair, his immaculate white uniform marred only by the numerous combat decorations that covered his right breast, many of which she had personnally awarded. "Hiding in the second moon's magnetic shadow." He supplied. "They should be the last of our surprises until we hit Geidi Prime, ETA three hours, twenty eight minutes."
"The Second?" Princess Serenity asked, stroking a silver lock of hair.
"The Second Battle Group has successfully penetrated the system's southern plane and is hold position as per your orders."
"Any attempts to reinforce the home world?" Pluto asked, and the officer shook his head.
"A few." The officer replied, keeping an even expression. "The Second has dealt with those attempts."
Pluto smiled. It was a grim one. In other words, those attempts at reinforcing the home world they were now assaulting had ended in the decomposition of their component matter by violent means. Geidi was well and truly cut off from all outside support. "Time to make the call, Serenity-chan." She whispered softly.
Queen Serenity only nodded silently and stood up from her command couch, smoothing out her flowing white robe. "Open a com, wide spectrum. I want everybody to hear this." The captain of the Agamemnon turned to the communications officer across the bridge and nodded. Seconds later they were broadcasting across the EM spectrum and into open space. "This is Queen Serenity of the Silver Millennium Empire. Your government is hereby ordered to stand down and surrender its authority. Resistance will be met with overwhelming and lethal force. Serenity clear."
The channel closed with a slight beep and Serenity deflated with a sigh. "That was certainly terse, your Highness." Pluto noted with a trace of humor.
"A mere formality," The monarch waved the observation aside. "We both know The Emblem won't surrender their power."
Both turned away from the main viewer, Pluto following her friend's lead as they walked to the rear of the bridge and the armored hatch that represented the primary exit. "Of course, you realize where this will lead…?"
Serenity nodded, seemingly without emotion as the hatch hissed open, admitting them into the jet way. The door closed and she spoke into air. "Royal One." The only sign that the computer had obeyed her command was the slight compression of gforce as the lift dropped and navigated its way to her stated destination. She turned back to Princess Pluto, frowning. "Of course. But if you can find me another alternative to dealing with a government that traffics in demonic powers and has turned their entire world into a gate to the dark plane, I'm all ears."
Setsuna remained silent for a moment. "Political fallout will be--"
"--negligible." She finished Pluto's thought. "I'll just remind them who it was that glassed Cambriea and Meridian."
Pluto remained silent, if only for the fact that she couldn't find any fault in Serenity's reasoning. The Emblem had taken Serenity's galactic expansion to xenophobic levels, refusing any and all negotiation towards a peaceful coexistence. In the end, they had opted to drawing on demonic energies to augment their forces and saturated two of the Kingdom's worlds with nukes. Cambriea had been a gas giant mining facility. It was now a micro nova with a lifespan of a few hundred years. Meridian was… A different story entirely. The vibrant blue world had been a population center of twenty three billion before Emblem forces swept in like a tidal wave and dropped nearly fifty gigaton-range nuclear weapons into the atmosphere. All that remained of the outer rim trade world now was blackened crystal memorial.
Negotiations died that day and Serenity retooled her empire for war.
The lift door slid open silently and the pair stepped out onto the Royal Deck. Two guards in full battle plate and field automatic plasma rifles snapped to attention, and Serenity acknowledged their presence. Setsuna had been there in the hour her friend received the news. She had been calm at first, asking for a moment alone within her chambers. Everybody was ushered out, even her Alpha Guard. What followed next was a display of violence that Setsuna herself would have been hard pressed to duplicated. An hour later, she emerged from the smoke filled shell that used to be her residence and called for an emergency council.
It was a war to the knife.
"I'm going to my chambers to meditate." Serenity said as they found her room, which had another pair of Alpha's standing watch outside. Instead of the field automatics, this pair wielded crescent moon staves, with a bladed ring on the opposite end. They too snapped to attention and her door opened on sensing her presence. "Let me know the moment we're in range."
The Princess of Pluto nodded silently and Serenity disappeared behind the door. Meditation. That was one word for it. In reality, the Senshi knew what that meditation involved. It involved the crystal. She had been repairing it, perfecting that blackened crystalline cinder that was once part of Meridian with her formidable magic. The last time she laid eyes on it had shown a startling enough transformation. When Serenity had personally set foot on the world and retrieved it, it was black. Scarred. Pluto had caught a glimpse of it three months ago and saw how half the crystal had been purified. It was still scarred, but light was actually passing through it. It was simultaneously the queen's guilt and hope for a people who had long since passed out of the realm of the living.
With Pluto gone, Serenity's eyes fell on the clouded crystal floating over the pulse grav plate in the center of her room. It had been a permanent fixture since taking up residence on the Agamemnon and she kneeled before it, focusing, straining to find the point where she left off.
There. The crack down the left hemisphere. The Queen pooled her power and focused on the crack. Time slowed to molasses.
Her eyes came back into focus and off the crystal in front of her. The crack she had been focused on was all but gone now. "Yes?"
"Time minus ten, Your Highness." Pluto's voice echoed over the room com.
"On the way."
Queen Serenity stepped out off the lift and the command deck instantly snapped to attention. "Serenity on the bridge!"
"As you were." She stated, her tone all business. She stepped up to Pluto and the Captain, who were conversing with one another. "Status?"
"The Fifth is decelerating and will anchor just beyond the range of their orbital defense platforms." The Captain detailed, "Make it minus seven. The Xianghua, Arclight, Damascus, Resolute and Arcadia are running ahead on point."
"I've taken the liberty of rearranging our formation." Pluto stepped in, smoothly taking over the report. "I don't expect much more in the way of resistance, but you can never be too prepared."
Serenity nodded, taking her command chair. "Any word from The Emblem?"
"None, Your Majesty." Setsuna frowned. "We've been broadcasting every fifteen minutes for the last hour."
"We should consider fractional-cee bombardment of the orbital platforms before taking up fixed positions over the planet." The captain advised and Serenity simply stared straight ahead. "From there, it should be trivial to--"
"We won't be landing troops on this world, Jonathan." Serenity's voice held an edge of steel and the Captain of the Agamemnon froze as the Queen used his first name. He knew that was a bad sign, and not for him. She glanced at the chronometer counting down their arrival time. Four minutes. The advanced screening elements on point should have cleared away any unwanted guests by now, opening the path to Geidi Prime itself.
"Then your orders, my Queen?"
Serenity closed her blue eyes and folded her hands at her chin. After a minute of silent contemplation, she opened them, staring straight ahead and into the viewer that held an angry red world on display. "Ready Z90 Point Singularity Weapons." Then she added as an after thought. "How many will it take to destroy Geidi Prime?"
The captain recovered from his shock. "Four, your Majesty."
"Allocate six ."
"Y-Yes, your Majesty." It was rare that his monarch displayed this level of feral ruthlessness. Thus far, she had spared all of the Emblem peripheral systems, opting to land troops instead. Today, he almost pitied the enemy… almost.
"Open a channel." Another moment and a small flashing light on her armrest indicated the active frequency. "Emblem forces. This is your final opportunity to surrender. Failure to do so will result in the removal of your home world from this existence. You have…" Serenity glanced at her armrest once more. "Ten minutes. Serenity clear."
"The Fifth has arrived on station, Serenity-chan." Pluto reported from her perpetual position next to her Queen's command couch. Small flashes lit around the planets orbital shell as its defensive platforms died by fire. "Our attack corridor is clear."
"Now we see--"
"Tactical alert!" An officer called from across the bridge. "Picking up multiple surface launches! Reading them as long range ballistics, AR-303 types. Point defense has a solid lock on all inbounds, estimate three hundred with more clearing their silos."
"Bring us to condition one, Commander!" The captain bellowed, and his subordinate began barking orders to the bridge personal. A claxon sounded, and the main bridge lighting faded to an ominous red. "Battle formation Echo-six, layer our point defense for maximum yield."
"Echo-Six established." The Commander reported. "Tactical, seed decoys and light up the ECM arrays."
Pluto sighed wearily. "I guess that's the answer."
"Indeed." Serenity agreed in a dead tone. "Captain, slave release of all Z90s to my board."
"Rerouting fire protocols." The Captain managed after a moment of pause. "Release on your mark, your Highness." And ominous red button blinked to life on her left armrest and a finger caressed it lightly. "Give us some room." He ordered and the helm officer silently relayed the command to move the fleet back and away from the doomed world even as their last gasp streaked toward them. It would be a largely ineffective last gasp as most of the Emblem weaponry would be dead long before it reached the fleet and what did would die under the curtain defensive missile and energy fire.
Pluto knew what she was doing. Knew her like the sister she virtually was. Some would view her need to push that button personally as some megalomaniacal need for vengeance. Of course, vengeance was a component part of her action, but not the sum total. She knew the Queen and it was personal responsibility that drove her now. If she was going to order the annihilation of an enemy home world, there would only be one person that responsibility and guilt would fall upon at the end of the day.
"Reading weapons release." The tactical officer reported. "Six Z90s down and running. Minus twelve seconds to impact."
The Z90 Point Singularity Weapon was the pinnacle in Silver Millennium strategic weaponry and six of those torpedoes descended into the Geidi Prime's gravity well at half the speed of light. Each warhead contained not only the planet crushing micro singularity itself, but a full suite of ECM and active beam weaponry to ensure the elongated oval would reach its target unmolested. Without orbital platforms to intercept the weapons, it was up to home world's surface batteries to intercept the lethal devices, but even this was a largely futile effort, unless the defenders had a few light years to spare. They didn't. Even if their efforts managed to penetrate the Z90's potent ECM suite, active beam defense and energy shielding, it still would have only destroyed delivery system, not the singularity itself, and planets weren't well known for their evasive abilities.
At eight seconds from impact, they separated, breaking formation and pursuing the most optimal route to detonation assigned to them before beginning their terminal dive.
"Units have armed, minus two." Tactical reported and suddenly, the planet darkened visibly. "Impact on all weapons."
The seat of The Emblem seemed untouched at first, nothing noticeable beyond the darkened hue that now surrounded it. Then it happened. Six Gaping holes began to mar the surface of Geidi Prime, sucking down the surrounding atmosphere and surface matter into a maw of unimaginable gravimetric pressure. Four of these singularities would have prolonged the planet's life another three minutes. As it was, a world that took millions of years to form would disappear in under a minute. With the surface matter and atmosphere sucked away, Geidi Prime faded into a featureless black sphere whose diameter steadily shrank as the micro black holes turned on one another from within.
The remaining mass coalesced to a pinpoint and hung in space a few more moments before destabilizing, streaming hard radiation into space in the form of a blinding point of light. What had once been the mass of six micro black holes and one category C8 planet with a population of thirty two billion was now loosed into the void as pure, white energy. The cosmic pyre lasted five more minutes before what remained of The Emblem home world flickered out entirely.
Silence hung across the bridge of the Agamemnon until Serenity broke it with a long, weary sigh. "Captain, take us home. I'll be in my quarters."
Getting drunk, Princess Pluto mentally appended, knowing her best friend all too well.
Ranma stopped having yet to touch her own lunch from under a nearby tree. One lunch in peace wasn't too much to ask, was it? She stared at the Kuno rushing for her and sighed. Evidentially it was. Might as well get whatever it was out of the way.
"Whaddya want, Kuno?"
"The Saotome's schemes are most foul this day!" He blustered, drawing his bokken and whipping his head around, presumably looking for the aforementioned Saotome. "It is said that he has ensnared you once more!"
Ranma shook her head. "And this is news… how, again?"
"My sources say he hath gifted you with a cursed stone!" Ranma froze as he continued his rant. "I must ask you to give up this wretched artifact or thou shall be his slave for all of eternity! I cannot allow this!"
Soul of Ice, Soul of Ice, Soul of Ice… Ranma thought at the upperclassman in front of her. She was going to have to have some words with a certain Tendo. "Look, Kuno… Don't know what Nabs has been--"
"Ran-chan!" Ranma blinked, and turned from the kendoist. Ukyo? "Are you alright!"
Ranma looked from Ukyo, to Kuno and back. The big idiot wasn't that much trouble. "Uh, yeah. Why wouldn't I be?"
"I hear you stumbled across a magic crystal!" Ranma rolled her eyes, annoyance spreading across her face. "It steals souls, Sugar!"
"Indeed, the Saotome's designs are more wicked then I first imagined!" Kuno latched onto her statement. "You must surrender the stone, pigtailed girl!"
"Look, both of you really need--"
"Aiya!" A red bicycle seemed to drop out of nowhere and skidded to a halt next to the tree, allowing an incredibly cute purple-haired Amazon girl to dismount. "Shampoo come as soon as she hear!"
Ranma closed her eyes, rubbing her temples. "Heard what, Shampoo?"
Not that he really needed to ask at this point. "Airen find ancient Amazonian artifact! Locks Jusenkyo curse!"
Ukyo looked stricken, as if the stealing souls part hadn't been enough. "Ran-chan's locked!"
Shampoo nodded and Kuno chimed in. "We must remove it from her person!"
Ranma ground down her teeth. "Ain't nobody--"
"Damn you, Saotome!" Ranma blinked, his mouth hanging open as a white robbed figure bounded up to the group and past them, settling in front of the tree. "Trying to enslave my Shampoo with a mind control rock! I won't allow it!"
"Stupid Mousse talk to tree again." Shampoo chided in an annoyed tone, prompting the Amazon boy to don his glasses, after which he quickly found the redhead.
"I'll take that rock from you, Saotome!"
Ranma began to crack her knuckles. "If that's the way you want--"
"Boy, give it up!" Now she was gaping as his and Akane's father leapt over the school wall, finding the growing spectacle. "It's making you act like a girl!"
"And you will marry my Akane!" Soun added. "The schools must be joined!" Genma nodded his firm agreement.
The redhead was gaping now. What the hell was going--
"That diamond could pay for our entire yearly budget!" Ranma's head swung around to find a mob of lab coat clad student converging on their position.
"And ours!" Another mob proclaimed, this one wielding various types of sports implements menacingly.
"Ooooh Hoooo hoo!" Black petals fluttered in the breeze and Kodachi Kuno landed lightly on a branch. "An engagement present for my Ranma-Sama, no doubt? I think not!"
"Ranma, m'boy!" A small old man bounced in, taking a puff of his pipe. "I hear you found a treasure for your master!"
Ranma took another deep breath and clenched his fist. "AIN'T NOBODY GETTIN' THE ROCK, SO BACK OFF!"
"It's making you act strange, Ranma." She swung around to find Akane and Nabiki at his back. "Anything that locks your girl-type can't be good for you."
"Hand it over, Saotome." Nabiki held out her waiting hand. "You know it's cursed. Even so, I can still make us all very rich--"
"It's not cursed, and I ain't givin' it up." Ranma's blue eyes sparkled despite the flat, no nonsense tone of her voice. She dug the sparkling diamond out of her pocket and stared into it. "Nobody touches it. Period."
"That's it?" Nabiki inquired with a mischievous smile. Ranma simply glared back at her. "Looks like there's only one choice left." The conclusion hung in the air until Kuno latched onto it, setting the ball rolling as she knew he would.
"I shall free you,
"Stay still, Ran-chan! This won't hurt a bit!"
"Shampoo rid Airen of curse!"
"For Shampoo, you Enemy of women!"
"Shampoo no need help, stupid Mousse!"
"Back off Sugar! I'll be the one to help Ranma!"
"Take the Boy!"
"Get over here, Son!"
"I'll teach you not to disrespect your elders, Ranma!"
"For the Science club!"
The threat was clear and Ranma Saotome was already on the move as upwards of one hundred of Furikan's finest reached in to liberate the glistening stone from the redhead's person. Shampoo came in with a pair of Bon Bori and the martial artist sidestepped, only to leap over an inbound combat spatula, two hockey sticks and a tennis racket as she flowed through the combination. Genma stepped through the melee, and she found one of the few targets he could hammer without guilt. The father and his partner, Soun Tendo rushed in and the girl was engaged on two fronts as she pitched and weaved through their attacks, only to have another front opened when Mousse descended from on high, two claymores whistling from his sleeves. The pigtailed girl slid left and the long swords buried themselves into the earth she had just vacated. Her father loomed large and she engaged him with five fisted dragon chop combination, sending him to the ground like a sack of potatoes. Soun stepped up to take his place, only to be swatted down by Tatewake Kuno's bokken as the boy rushed in.
Ranma caught the whistling bokken between his hands twisted it sideways and snapped it in two before continuing through the movement and into the deranged kendoist, applying a well received foot to his face. The martial artist used the upperclassman's face as a spring board to escape the melee only to have three chained maces twist around his legs, yanking him rudely back to the earth. Ranma landed gracefully despite the entanglement, dodged another round of spatula shirukens from Ukyo and turned to his tormenter, the white robbed Amazon. She ducked as Mousse loosed a salvo of daggers into his general vicinity, taking out another group of students with flesh wounds. The redhead went low and gathered the chains, spun around and stepped back as Shampoo's bon bori crashed in, pulverizing the links. Ranma was about to clean up with the myopic Amazon when his priorities changed and three bombs settled around her person, fuses sizzling down.
Instead of at anybody, the ki burst slammed into the ground under her, blowing the bombs and several combatants away. Three flashes of light and the high explosives reserved for her exploded over a few more wayward students. Ranma didn't have time to congratulate herself as the perverted master blurred in, causing her to take the troll's pipe hand to hand. Another strike came in and Ranma disengaged as Ukyo and Shampoo found him near simultaneously, their own weapons picking up where Happosai's pipe left off. Ukyo's combat spatula arched in and Ranma hopped onto its flat as Mousses next round of chains blurred for her. The martial artist was airborne cleanly this time and the chains found Ukyo's spatula. A sharp tug later and the Okanomiyaki master was promptly disarmed. Ranma landed in a semi clear section of the mob and looked for an out. High power techniques were out of the question at this point as most of the combatants- while annoying -we're nowhere near his level. Happosai, his father and maybe Shampoo on a good day, but the rest… Half the mob was fighting one another now, but enough retained some sense of their goal to seek him out, and Ranma was quickly surrounded once again. They closed in and---
A pink ribbon wrapped around the wrist and hand that held the jewel and Ranma strained against it, following it back to the source. "I have you now, little wretch!" Ranma strained and found his hand beginning to bleed. A closer look at her snare found the ribbon leveraged against several branches of the tree Kodachi now balanced atop, magnifying the potency of the entanglement. It didn't help that the ribbon itself was titanium impregnated. Kodachi gave the ribbon a tug and Ranma strained against it some more. "I shall present Ranma-Sama with the gift of your love!"
Ranma growled and fire ignited in her eyes. "NOBODY…"
"Give up the
wretched artifact, Pigtailed Goddess!"
"Nobody enslaves my Shampoo, you Enemy of Women!"
"It's for your own
"Airen let stone go!"
"Stop acting like
a girl, Boy!"
"Give up the Precious, Ranma m'boy!"
Ranma's body erupted in a flash of light, and a pressure wave washed over the mob encroaching on the martial artist, blowing all but the sturdiest to the ground. Kodachi's ribbon instantly evaporated from her wrist and the insane girl tumbled from the tree. When their collective vision cleared, only gasps filled the air. Ranma stood bathed in a soft white glow, her red and black silks washed out to nearly white themselves. The crystal floated freely in on hand and her pigtail drifted on an ethereal breeze.
Her silver pigtail.
Akane took another look, disbelieving her initial impression of the transformed martial artist. While the aura she projected was out of the ordinary, the completely silver crop of hair had her undivided attention. Ranma had everybody's undivided attention in fact, as the power now emanating from her was simply staggering, like tangible waves of pressure flowing out from her.
The fury died from her eyes and was replaced by steel. She took a deep, calming breath, her baleful gaze sweeping across every one of the former combatants. "Now let me make myself absolutely clear… None of you are even worthy to look upon this thing, let alone touch it." The fact that the thing in question was now floating an inch above her palm was apparently missed by Ranma. "Does everybody--"
"My Silver-haired pigtailed gi--!"
A white sphere swirled in her free hand suddenly, and she brought it to bear on the leaping Kendoist. The ball inflated to the size of a small compact car and left her at height speed, plowing into the Kuno, who in turn plowed across the sports field as the energy sphere persisted, continuing five hundred meters down range where it promptly exploded in a flashed of pressure and light. Ranma chuckled silently as a small mushroom cloud of dust formed along the horizon. That had been a flash-bang. Great for blinding, deafening and stunning perverts, like that one while back… What was his name… Eddie? Edy? Eisen? The former redhead frowned as she neither knew an Eddie or used that attack before. Hell, it wasn't even ki based, of that she was certain. She stored that mystery away for later. First, it was time to wrap things up here.
"As I was saying…" She resumed with divine authority, "Do we have an understanding?" Nods all around. Nobody wanted an angry white yugo sized energy ball to call their own. The displeasure in her face disappeared and the glowing aura around her faded out, revealing Ranma's traditional red and black garb, and more importantly, her natural hair color. The crystal dropped and she snatched it from mid-air, pocketing it. Ranma cast one last look at the cowed mob before turning on a heel and walking away.
The truth was often stranger than fiction.
From the bag she pulled a package of mochi and began munching on the soft snack greedily. It was one of the reason she loved her duties so much… It gave her first crack at the good stuff. She was about ready to down the second gelatinous square when tshe froze, the sweet pausing before her lips. The bag fell from her other hand as a spike of power rippled through her being, causing her instant recognition. The Ginzuishou! Somebody had just used the Ginzuishou! Usagi's features paled as realization hit her in its entirety. Whoever had stolen the heirloom from her was now using it, and rather successfully by the wave of power she just felt.
The bag at her feet forgotten, Usagi Tsukino found the nearest back ally and initiated the transformation into her Moon aspect. Warnings from the future be damned, she thought to herself as she took to the rooftops.
…She had just been invited to Nerima.
The Silver Millenium Empire; The "Silver Millenium" is gernerally viewed as a time period, not an actually thing. Since I had nothing better to call Serenity's kingdom, I imaginitively tacked the "empire" part on for lack of anything better. Moon Kingdom is a US only translastion, therefor is not universally binding here. That and the SME sounds far more mencaing. Works for me.
Serenity & the SME; What little we see of her in the series is portrayed as kind and gentle, but this fic takes a slightly different view of the queen. Consider for a moment, that the woman built an empire. The size and scope of it can be debated, but canon easily indicates that other worlds were involved beyond that of this solar system, and you generally don't wield that sort of authority without, at some point, kicking ass and taking names. To that end, I gave her the temperment and the tools with which to carve out that empire.
Z90 PSW; Don't even start on theoretical black hole physics. I already got the earful :p
Special thanks to Fukufics and DCG especially for some fine suggestions, as well as Gaijin for some excellent writing pointers.