Chapter 22, Retake
a fanfic by Metroanime/Gregg Sharp
"This is Channel 12 NewsCenter, I'm Chetu. Today we are officially not alone. While we've had the alien prince around for some time, and the Sailor Senshi, as well as the occasional catgirl or magical girl or insanely powerful martial artist, this is the first time we've had an official First Contact situation.
"Since we have many other stations out of the country using this feed, here's a brief rundown on how things are here at the center of this historic meeting.
"The current situation started a little over two years ago with youma appearances in the Azabu Juuban district of Tokyo. The Sailor Senshi, a combination of a magical girl group and a sentai team, rose out of nowhere to fight them. First was Sailor V who had originally appeared in England but then returned here. Sailors Moon, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter and the mysterious Tuxedo Kamen battled local youma and were then joined by Sailors Pluto, Uranus, and Neptune. About nine months into the battle, the youma stopped appearing and the Sailor Senshi vanished without a trace. Also missing, believed due to a last youma appearance, were a number of young girls from the region.
"A little over a year passed before the appearance of the dragon prince and his reported ties to our own Emperor. A secret deal recently unearthed here at NewsCenter 12 revealed that the Emperor and key members of the Diet have entered with the Prince in an agreement that has placed a secret embassy under Furinkan Senior High School in Nerima for the Prince and his staff.
"According to some sources, these friendly aliens have been behind Cyberdyne's recent successes. They were also behind the rescue of the Sailor Senshi from some form of magical prison, have revealed the horrifying truth behind the Grimlok Institute, and are behind the civil war that has recently rocked the Senshi to their core.
"According to a highly placed source, the Senshi are actually from a kingdom that existed in this system 10,000 years ago and fell to those very youma that attacked two years ago. The Dragon Prince is actually the heir to that kingdom and some other kingdom among the stars that was itself involved in a coup where the Prince was sent here to hide.
"Meanwhile, other champions and high tech vehicles have been made and are now in the skies over Tokyo. The Intruder ship has settled into a geosynchronous orbit over Tokyo and has sent a shuttle of some sort towards Kanto.
"Is this a First Contact, an attempt to make good on the Prince's coup as some have suggested, or is this an invasion of completely different aliens?
"The next hour should answer those questions."
The disc erupted into six distinct shapes. The audience had no trouble figuring out *what* these were.
"More dragons," grumbled Sailor Uranus. Direct confrontation had not worked. Taking a position on a tall building she waited for her chance.
"Mamo-chan, this is so unlike you."
"Well, Usako, out of this deal - you gained a brother, I gained a sister, and I just find something... empowering in having a thousand horsepower under the hood." Mamoru smirked. "If only my mecha weren't a..."
"turtle? But you have such good armor, Mamo-chan."
"You have an Angel. I have a Turtle.... You have a minivan. I have a Ferrari. It doesn't quite balance out."
Akane looked at what she held and what Kasumi held. "Miyew meow mew?"
"Mister Fess said it was OK to take these specific items from the Vault, Akane." Kasumi held hers up. "The Amulet of Hebe. She says that I should wear her and become a priestess of Hebe. I am uncertain of practicing such a faith however."
"Miew meow meow."
"Yes, I suppose it could be worse," agreed Kasumi.
Akane gave the sword Foebane a couple of trial swings. It flew out of her clumsy paws. "Miew!"
"It's all right, dear. I suppose it *is* rather stressful."
"Show of strength or look unthreatening?"
Gouts of flame from the lead dragons.
"Should we combine mecha?" Venus asked over the comm channel. "We can't form System Mazinger without Uranus, but we Inners can at least link up to form Senshitron Heart."
"...we can combine mecha?!" Sailor Moon wasn't sure if that was a good thing or not.
"Heart as in 'heart of the solar system'? Neither Moon or myself have had a chance to use the Help function on these mecha."
"It's all very user friendly," Mercury assured the newcomers.
"Hang on, they're moving into a challenge formation." Fess checked data to be sure. 95% match up. "If the lead one lands and moves forward on their own that's what this is. Like a challenge for pecking order with a pride or similar species group."
The lead, a powerfully built gold dragon, landed on one of the streets leading to Furinkan.
*I offer challenge!*
Greylle hit the ground in front of the Furinkan gates. *Must there be challenge?*
"What are they saying?" Hotaru asked, her mecha hovering uncertainly.
*There must,* insisted the gold. *This must be resolved. There must be challenge given. There must be blood paid.*
"They are speaking draconic. Most of the language is done telepathically," explained Fess. "I am translating and feeding to your mecha as subtitles on subchannel C."
*Why?* Greylle looked at the other dragons well away from the obvious conflict point. "Fess. Make sure the area is cleared. Quickly."
"Ahhhh! 'Subchannel C'?!" Usagi was having a little trouble, still not having found the Help button.
The gold's eyes narrowed. *You interrupt a conversation with your betters to address your pets? You are not worthy.*
*You have not given me a reason to engage you in combat.* Greylle flapped his wings once to indicate puzzlement. *This world is under the protection of myself and my chosen allies.*
The gold's eyes glowed as she met Greylle's eyes. The two continued the psychic duel between them.
Sailor Uranus held up her hand, ready to unleash her most potent attack. Space Sword Blaster. To do it, she'd need to drop down on top of one of the dragons since the attack had a shorter range than a World Shaking. She was in a near perfect position.
The only thing stopping her at this point was the certain knowledge that a sudden attack *might* cause the dragons to start fighting each other. Otherwise she expected that she'd be at the mother of all ground zeroes. She was also sure that protections from her Senshi transformation or no, afterwards you'd probably be able to hide her remains under a postage stamp. A small one.
So she held her fire and waited for a better opportunity.
*We have studied your adopted world,* said the gold with a snarl. *We will decide your adopted world's fate in one simple duel.*
Greylle snarled back. Draconic skulls are practically made to snarl with. *Oh really?*
*Yes,* replied the gold. *One game of 'baseball' - winner take all.*
Greylle blinked. *Say what?*
"This is the Channel 12 NewsCenter at the heart of Tokyo! New developments in the First Contact. We go to our woman on the scene, Yoko Shimomura!"
"All right! My first job and it's interviewing the Sailor Senshi and reporting from a war zone! I am *so* hyped. What's that hand signal mean?"
"It means you're on the air," said Chetu.
"Oh. Sorry. Uhm, anyway, we're right here at Ground Central - Furinkan Senior High School - which by the way does not look nearly as bad as the reputation. Uhm. Sorry. Anyway, I've been listening to the comm chatter, or at least that which hasn't been censored by this really cool sounding guy named Fess who has just got this *nice* voice." The perky girl tried to recover but was clearly very very nervous. "What's just happened is that the dragon guy is a prince, but there was a coup and his side lost and now the girl dragon there - she's the big gold one - is here to challenge him to a duel."
"A duel? I've heard from experts that a spacefaring civilization by its very nature must be civilized enough to have put aside war." Chetu decided that blunt was what the viewers wanted, however un-Japanese it was. "Do you mean our experts have their heads inserted rectally?"
"I think so," agreed Yoko. "The gold just spent fifteen minutes describing how she would kill and eat the silver one. That's the one on our side by the way."
"What of Earth's stance in all this?" Chetu realized the girl was nervous so he was expecting a cut to a commercial if something untoward occurred.
"Oh. The silver one is here to protect us. The gold wants to..." Yoko frowned as she read a display. "Eeeeeewwwwwww. I don't think that's physically possible and my tastes *so* do not run that way."
"Oh. I think that was a figure of speech. Like, I am so relieved. Uhm. Oh, apparently they'll annex the planet and reduce Earth to ash or simply use the Earth as some sort of penal colony. Or buffet. Apparently the phrase has multiple meanings."
"Oh and the duel is a game of baseball. Though right now there's a major argument going on. There's some girl the gold wants as a hostage and the silver is pretty darn P.O.ed. Oh, I'm sorry. That's not 'hostage.' It's... oh dear. No wonder the silver guy's pissed."
"Can we get back to the fate of the Earth?"
Yoko pointed at the display. "Anyway, they apparently want Sailor Saturn and the silver guy said no way and it looks like we might have a fight before it can get to a ball game."
Instinct was a powerful thing in dragons. So were emotions.
Wings snapped half out and eyes narrowed to glowing slits, Greylle bared fangs and felt the langour of his looming dragonsleep banished for the moment. *If you touch her - I will kill you.*
*Brave words from a youth barely out of his shell,* answered the gold. *I... well here comes the upstart.*
Sailor Saturn left her mecha and stalked forward, her Glaive spinning in her hands. "Leave my sempai alone! Old hag!"
The gold snarled herself, wings fanned out and the dragonfear rolled out. A magical aura that carried the flare of the dragon's magic - against mere humanoids it reduced them to gibbering terror.
Saturn staggered for a moment then recovered and began spinning her Glaive around again.
Greylle growled deep in his throat as Saturn got in between him and the gold. What was she doing?
Sailor Saturn's own aura flared.
*DIE!* The gold's head whipped forward.
Saturn had built power up. She released it. "Silence Glaive Surprise!"
Golden flames met purple light and parted before it. The gold dragon was hit and left a gouge in the street of over 500 meters.
Saturn panted from the effort. "Fess says that sempai isn't able to fight at full power because of some dragonsleep. If that's so, you're going to have to face me!"
Greylle blinked. "Saturn. I'm touched. Fess. I'm annoyed."
The gold shook her head, looked at the little (relatively) girl then at the dragon she was protecting. *Well, well, well. Now this _is_ something different to say the least. In one week, prince. We shall battle in the custom of this planet and we shall resolve this through your baseball game!*
Then to the surprise of everyone present the gold started laughing. Not sinister evil laughter but more the sound of someone genuinely amused by something.
The six dragons leapt into the air and rode a dragonline till they could teleport.
Uranus stiffened as she felt the familiar presence. "Why did you come here?"
Neptune used one gloved hand to brush part of the building's ledge before sitting down. "Because one of the duties of one partner in a relationship is to let the other partner know when she's being a... twit."
"Michiru, while you were going off to become some, some, harem girl, I've been listening to the talk on the streets. Do you know what they're saying about the Sailor Senshi now?" Uranus stood and angrily stalked towards the other.
"That we're more competent and better equipped than we were? That we're the soldiers of an ancient kingdom reborn in some Arthurian fashion to come to humanity's aid in their darkest hour? How our alliance with Cyberdyne makes us out to be shrewd businesswomen as well as planetary guardians?" Neptune was unconcerned both by Uranus' anger and the four story drop behind her.
"No, that we're pawns of some great evil!"
"Try something besides CNN for your news," advised Neptune. "They're hopelessly biased."
"SO ARE YOU! You're being mind controlled, can't you see that?"
Neptune frowned and stood. "Haruka. You are wrong. I propose this. A slave would be kept under control. You don't arm slaves. You certainly don't set them free."
"What are you doing?" Uranus watched as Neptune pulled a small compact out of her itemspace.
"This is Sailor Neptune. Greylle-sama. I think we have a difference of opinion. I request that you release me from any control or contractual obligations."
Greylle's voice replied. "I understand. The contract will be nullified since it did include terms for that. Say hello to Ten'ou-san for me. You're free to go. We'll just stop work on the Manta. Oh, and good luck, Kaioh-san."
Sailor Neptune put the communicator away and fixed Uranus with a look. No, this was more of a Look.
Sailor Uranus winced as the logic of the situation hit home.
*My Queen, the prince-exile has something unusual about his situation.*
The gold raised an eyeridge at that observation. *What is #not# unusual about this situation?*
*My Queen, observe this scan in the magical wavelengths.*
*What in the name of Sefi's bronze balls is #that#?!*
*Forty seven Alpha level magical artifacts, nine Eternal class Empowered, one Star class magical artifact, nine Rune weapons, sixty two Delta level magical items, one Elder god, two goddesses first class, one Adept wizardess, and at least one Archmage class wizard or wizardess.*
*...dear Bahamut what have we stuck our snouts in this time...*
The bronze dragon looked apologetic. *We're unable to determine how many items of technowizardry there are because they're all grouped together and the number is over a thousand. That's not counting that some of the natives are still under the impression that their world is flat while the most technologically advanced nations have just begun figuring out cooperative computer information retrieval linkages. The Prince's technology on the other hand...*
*You enjoy tormenting me, don't you, Balzar? Drop the other foreclaw,* the golden Queen rumbled about how a little problem from a coup two hundred years ago was suddenly a major headache.
*My Queen. Errr. Most of it is ahead of #our# level of technology.*
The Queen blinked and showed a lot of teeth. *Tell me, Balzar, how is it that my renegade half-brother manages to escape being eaten, fakes his death on that sundried worldlet, travels to a world filled with primitives who still think their world is the center of the universe, manages enough magic to fight off a Sun-Eater, and has access to higher technology than #we# do? How much higher?*
*Fusion generators the size of a humanoid's fist. Antigravity generators the size of a grapefruit. Forceshield generators small enough to fit inside a foreclaw. Not very powerful at that size, but that big green vessel of theirs came with a forceshield generator that momentarily covered that entire island. We think it burned out after that, but still...*
The Queen was struck by a thought. *That little one. The humanoid who declared herself my half-brother's protector. Did you scan her?*
*Yes, my Queen. An Eternal class Empowered. Uhm. There's more.*
*This day just keeps getting better and better.*
*On this continent over here there is a concentration of seventy nine Adept class wizards. We think. The area has some very impressive shielding. We are unable to tell how much in the way of artifacts. There are also two dimensional gates on this other continent, a subspacial conduit on this other continent, some buried invisible ruins on their moon, and there appears to be extensive robotic terraforming operations going on on the fourth planet. Lesser operations on a moon of the fifth and on the surface of the second.*
*The second is that greenhouse planet? I see your point as almost everything we have would break down within a year in that environment.* The gold Queen let out a deep breath. *At this rate I half expect to hear that this is where that lost tribe from Tau Ceti settled and this is the kingdom of the Serenities.*
A deep silence.
*That was meant as a joke.*
The Queen sighed again. *Tell me this isn't.*
*We figured it out from one of their primitive EM broadcasts. They call it the 'Moon Kingdom' and the 'Silver Millenium' but the rest fits.*
*At any moment now, I'm going to wake up, gird myself, and go down and eat my half-brother's liver in this 'baseball' thing. Have we at least gotten the rules on that?*
*Yes my Queen. Warriors are even now training in it.*
*Good. Now I have to do something I wasn't originally planning on, even as the furthest possibility.*
*My Queen?* Balzar watched his Queen move towards her chamber.
*We are a poor kingdom, Balzar. My mother seized power and promptly ran the planet into the red. You cannot simply go around eating people because they disagree with you. Sometimes, they turn out to have been right. My half-brother has a mate who may be a tiny humanoid but managed to hit me hard enough today that I still feel it.*
*That may be #mates# liege.*
*Silvers normally have several mates but are very dedicated to each in their season and usually fly the same group all their life, you know that Balzar.* The Queen chuckled. *At first I was digusted at the idea but you should have seen her, trembling with fear but also with the fire that she would sooner die than back down.*
*According to one of those news reports, the prince is engaged to the Sailor Senshi - which are the nine Empowereds who are from the kingdom of Serenities.*
*Then I really need to practice what I say in case we lose, don't I? Ah, shells and shards, this is hardly the sort of simple operation I'd planned.*
Haruka stared. "*That* is what I'd get?" She'd expected that if Michiru had convinced her to go into the zone, she'd become a sexslave - doomed to adore "dragonboy" but he'd be petty and grind her underfoot for her impertinence. It's what *she* would have done, after all.
"Hmmmm," Michiru looked up from her paperwork. "Oh yes. One of those American musclecars."
"Not just a 'musclecar'," corrected Haruka. "A 1967 Ford Mustang with a 360 engine! Lemon yellow, racing stripes. This is in prime condition!"
"That's nice," said Michiru absently. "If it's anything like the other rebuilt cars it actually was bought from a junkyard and restored to the original showroom condition, then they added items like the antigravity system and the fusion engine to run it."
"Actually, it's above original spec," said a girl with long braided hair and large circular glasses. She was a marionette of course. "This was originally used in races along the strip in California and was significantly modified for street racing."
Haruka tried not to look interested. She failed miserably. "How fast?"
"Just using the regular engine and in a street race? She'll blow away almost anything on the road. She can go zero to sixty in less than three seconds," the mechanic said with evident pride. "She ended up in the junkyard because the original owner couldn't handle the poor thing."
Haruka tried not to drool.
"Your cycle over there," indicated the marionette, "is a Harley Davidson panhead. We put restoring it on hold when it was apparent you weren't going to join."
Haruka sniffed. As if she'd be interested in a musclebike that had attained near legendary status.
"There we go," said Michiru, signing the final form. "I take it you stopped work on the Emerald Manta?"
"Yeah. Pity though," the mechanic indicated. "With the Cloaking Device it would have been really handy. Nice fit with Uranus' Yellow Lynx mecha."
"I have a giant mecha?" Uranus asked, disinterestedly.
"No, one was built for you," the mechanic brought up a display. "Yellow Lynx. Vibroclaws, best infighter of the Guardian mecha. Decent balance between armor and speed."
"We can go at any time, Haruka. I have completely severed my ties with the prince and this company. I have renounced my recording contract. I have ordered the stop on any further merchandise concerning Sailor Neptune and given up any legal protections."
Haruka frowned, just a little. "Does this mean I've heard the end of this?"
"Not a chance," answered Michiru. "I'll let you off the hook when you stop suffering from... Oh what was it that that person on the radio called it? Cranial-rectal insertion?"
Haruka flinched. It sounded like she was going to be hearing about this for a good long time to come. But what if they *were* under mind control? How could she break the enchantment? An idea clicked. "Come on, Michi, I've got something for you to see."
On hearing that the Sailor Senshi were going to be practicing with their mecha, the international news crews had immediately swarmed to the little island.
A vast number of them found the whole concept considerably less of a fool's errand chasing urban myths as floating yellow-and-black signs politely warned them to keep their distance.
Then music began to play from those marker signs and the first of the Senshi mecha appeared.
"Fight for your justice,(1)
Show your courage,
Grasp truth in these hands."
With a rumbling cracking noise, the air parted in a circle and the Pluto Jade Owl emerged to circle the area.
"Fight for your justice,
I want you as you fight through-
with your head held high."
The waters parted in a geyser as the Mercury Blue Dolphin emerged.
"Rather than polishing diamonds,
give me a glistening future."
A fireball shot across the sky and revealed itself as the Mars Firehawk as it slowed to join the other two.
"Even if nothing's there, get up.
It's important to switch on,"
The Jupiter Thunderbird slowed enough that the Venus Gundam could seperate and clumsily take its place.
"Something new that I don't want to yield.
Seeking it is justice!"
The Moon Angel majestically descended from the heavens.
"Fight for your justice,
Be serious about it.
Face Reality head on.
Fight for your justice,
I love how you never give up,
even if the current is against you."
The Turtle Kamen slowly made the scene.
"If we go into battle, Pluto san can open one of those gates and get the Turtle here on time," said Sailor Mars.
"Well, at least you have the best armor, Tuxedo Kamen-san," put in Sailor Mercury.
"And the most variety in missiles," added Sailor Jupiter.
"I don't know, there's just something wrong about Senshi Missiles," said Tuxedo Kamen.
"Imagine what storming Beryl's base would have been like with these," suggested Venus. "Tuxedo Kamen could have launched a few of those missiles and big boom - instant door opener."
"Yeah, I'd have loved to see one of those Dark Generals getting hit with a Thunderbird claw attack," said Jupiter, patting a console affectionately. "There's something to be said for up-close-and-personal, but I kind of like this. I don't have to go anywhere near an airplane with one of these around!"
The Thunderbird squawked back affectionately.
"Okay, uhm, I believe the term is to give these a 'proper shake down' I think," said Sailor Mercury.
"Ooooh! I've got a mini-refrigerator in mine. Look bean-jam buns! Oh, I could get used to this."
"Sailor Moon," complained Sailor Mars, "we can explore the radio and the refrigerator and the other little things later. Right now we need to get practice flying these things! We could be attacked by another Dark Kingdom at any time and I think the idea of finding out how to pilot them before that has some merit. Ok, meatball-head?"
"No," said Cologne.
"We need that."
"It's an Amazon treasure, it's dangerous, it's staying in the case."
"But it can break the enchantment on Michiru," argued Haruka.
"What part of 'no' do you not understand?"
"Well then," said Haruka, "I've heard you're a fighter. I'll fight you for it."
Cologne sighed. What was it about Japanese girls that they had to be such violent sorts?
Michiru watched as Haruka tried to grab the box in the old woman's hands. *Whoosh!* Michiru winced as Haruka was thrown out of the cafeteria and down the hall. Michiru watched as Haruka came racing back. *THWAM!* Michiru winced again as Haruka became one with the back wall.
"How dangerous is it?" Michiru simply asked as Haruka tried again.
"Extremely poisonous. Magic, chi, ki, anything of the sort - horribly so. I'm currently trying to bargain with Fess, he can destroy this but since I come from a poor defenseless Chinese village - we'd need some sort of compensation." Cologne glanced up as Haruka slowly unpeeled from the ceiling.
"Hah! Now I've..."
Michiru eyed Haruka before turning towards the old woman. "Paralysis shiatsu point?"
"You're familiar with it?" Cologne's opinion of the younger girl went up. Slightly.
"Come along Haruka, it will wear off eventually." Michiru began dragging her partner off.
"About an hour," called out Cologne. "I swear. Young people today."
With everyone on edge, it was the absolute worst time for it to happen.
Therefore it did.
The Gates cracked open.
Imperial Japan had a policy of getting back at anyone who dared to cause them problems. To this end the orders from above had been largely ignored. They would destroy the world the dragon had come from, emerging in force from the same location that the dragon and his minions had come from, then they would fan out and destroy everything. When they returned, they wouldn't be punished because they would have succeeded and the loot and slaves of an entirely different Earth would be theirs!
Hundreds of thousands of zombies. Squads of vampires. Legions of horrific entities. Tentacle and other demonic beings by the score. Troops armed with the latest in magic and in technology. Sorcerers and wizards with spells of binding.
They would be able to capture the dragon and enslave it. It would take it hundreds of years to die under their torture, only to be raised as an undead servant of the Empire.
At least that was the plan.
"We have a demonic outbreak on Beryl's island. Repeat. Demonic outbreak on Beryl's island. Launch all fighters!"
Senshi summoned their mecha. Marionettes and androids and robots grabbed weapons. Yuka got her power armor and motoslave. Sayuri hid.
Uranus saw all the launching vehicles and heard the call and watched as the glittering lights faded into the distance.
Neptune turned on the news. Even if she couldn't participate, she could watch.
*My Queen. Some sort of dimensional gateways have been opened on this part of the world. I am registering undead and demonic hordes.*
The golden Queen turned to her aide. *How big and how powerful?*
*If it had occurred on our homeworld, we'd be overwhelmed within a week.*
*Good,* said the Queen. *We lucked out. We can see exactly how strong these Dirtlings are from this response.*
Amaterasu heard the prayer of her priestess and quickly crossed to a part of Asgard she only rarely frequented.
"HEY YOU," called Amaterasu Omikami into the Valhalla Practice Grounds #4. "ANYONE UP FOR A GOOD FIGHT AGAINST DEMONIC HORDES?!"
The various valkyrie and einherjar looked at each other briefly.
One old Viking adjusted his waraxes. "Is it dangerous? Lots of dark nasty vicious beasties that go hungering for souls and speak with gravelly voices, and have all the table manners of maggots?"
"Yes," called back Amaterasu.
"Works for me." "I'm in!" "Can I bring modern weapons!" "A bug hunt! A bug hunt! I just looove squishin' bugs!" "Hahahahahaha!"
The einherjar, for those unfamiliar with the Norse, are composed of warriors who died in battle and spend their afterlife beating the heck out of each other while waiting for Ragnarock. The general consensus was that some new targets would be nice.
Greylle beat his wings as he saw the zombies. There was only one thing a cleric dragon could do about such a thing. Which was to take a small hammer, present it forcefully and...
turn, turn, turn,
There is a season,
turn, turn, turn,
a time for every purpose under Heaven."
Turning undead was a clerical ability not normally held by dragons. With the Ginzuishou, however, and using a song based on a far more ancient text, it sufficed.
The people of Earth were riveted to their TV sets. The Gates Of Hell had been opened. There were things on the screen that would give grown men shuddering nightmares for months to come.
Though those things coming apart in one particularly spectacular battle did help a lot of people deal with it.
Creatures billions of years old found their essences cut off from their infernal planes just before phased particle beams ripped pseudo-flesh apart.
Zombies exploded en masse as a dragon turned undead with the strength of the ginzuishou behind him.
The Sailor Senshi came down in front of the Gates and prepared, knowing that by closing these Gates, they'd deal serious damage to whatever had opened them.
"Thunder claw," Ophinicus Saint Ukyo called out, modifying the manuever slightly for her spatula.
Sailor Saturn pointed her Glaive directly down the Gate she faced. "Saturn Ultimate Attack. Wave Motion Gun."
"Pegasus U-Sen Ken!" Ranma unleashed an attack to guard the back of the Senshi he'd quickly found himself assigned to. Ha! Now people would stop blaming him for two of the Tendo girls dying. He hoped.
"Mercury Ultimate Attack," announced Sailor Mercury as she took aim as if holding a ball between her hands. "Absolute Zero."
Even in the snow you could feel it as it formed. A midnight blue sphere that sped from Sailor Mercury's hands even as she slumped from exhaustion. A trail behind the ball as it snowed frozen atmosphere along the path. A demon of flame brought a sword down upon the missile as he left the gate. He shattered as so many ice crystals, the flame itself having frozen.
The cold was replaced a moment later.
Sailor Mars flapped her arms up and down as if imitating a bird, trails of fire changing it from an odd manuever to something that made people want to duck and cover. "Mars Ultimate Attack. Phoenix Torrent."
A bird of flame roared into life overhead, causing snow to melt and arctic temperatures to be replaced with balmy. With a screech it dove towards the same Gate Mercury had attacked.
"Pluto Ultimate. Death Dance." Pluto began a graceful set of moves, looking more like a ballet than an attack. As she stepped or moved her arms, runes flared to life in midair and from each came a volley of 'dead scream' attacks.
"Jupiter Oak Evolution!"
"Tuxedo La Smoking Bomber!"
"Dragon Sho Ryu Ha!"
"Miyaow mew miaow!"
The Arcadia and the Yamato prowled overhead, shooting flying demons and sorcerers down.
"Where's Neptune? Where's Uranus?! We could use their Ultimate attacks here!"
The Imperial Security Building exploded in blue fire, the beam continuing on through the College Of Demonology, the Ministry of Truth, the Ministry of War, several buildings whose purpose was only known to those who worked there and the Grand Council, and continued on for another two hundred miles before the curvature of the Earth took the beam out into space. The beam shredded quantum particles along its path, atoms and molecules further out, and produced a vast bubbling plane of glass that hissed as the waters of Tokyo Bay flowed in along the newly excavated path.
The Imperial Security Building in Osaka froze, shattered, and then erupted in a volcano.
The Imperial Security Building in Nagasaki blew up.
The vampire Ieyasu calmly hunted down the Director in charge of Imperial Security and bit his throat out. Just because he was a centuries old undead didn't mean he was an idiot.
Haruka Ten'ou, Sailor Uranus, slumped as she saw the massive battle on the television.
Neptune sighed and tried to concentrate on her book. "We don't have any means of even reaching that fight. If I didn't have to prove to you that your fears are groundless, we could have ridden in my mecha. If you had gone, you would have your Ultimate attack and your own mecha. We can't get there, so just settle down and relax."
"Maybe I should just go then," mumbled Haruka, not liking that the Princess and those Inners were off facing danger.
"No," said Michiru.
"Why not? You did. They did. Everyone's so damn eager to..."
Michiru came around and gently touched Haruka's shoulder. "That's why. According to Morgana, your mindset entering is very important. If you truly believe that you will be some mindless automaton, you will become one."
"So how did you get around that?" Haruka asked, wincing as she saw the Senshi going up against skeletal machinegunners.
"I have faith in the Princess," said Michiru. "While she never disputed Luna or Artemis, she remains the friend of the Inners. And now she's joined herself. They don't act like slaves, do they?"
The golden Queen considered the battle being waged around a small island and came to one inescapable conclusion. *If this is the kind of thing they normally have to fight, no wonder they are so advanced. They would have to marshall their forces quickly and fight all out simply to survive long enough to reach breeding age.*
*My Queen, I have been negotiating the terms of this 'baseball' conflict,* began a young Red.
*Tell me that this does not involve armed battles,* responded the Queen. *We are representing our entire species and I do not fancy having my tail handed to me.*
*No my Queen. Actually it appears that we misinterpreted their 'World Series' and the nature of their conflicts. They are more socially and technologically primitive in a number of other areas. This 'baseball' is actually a form of organized religion wherein represented cities gain or lose prestige based upon the results of their contest.* The Red growled softly at her instruments. *Though these primitives can't even seem to agree on who founded the religion, what rules come into play, and at least one of the broadcasters is insisting that it is a debased form of another religion called 'small chirping insect' practiced in one of the island based cultures.*
*However,* interrupted a Copper, *everyone seems to agree that since the challenge was issued in the nation/state of Sun Rises - we will be using their rules. I have been negoitating with their authorities the proper etiquette and rules. It is a contest between teams of nine players involving a small spheroid and the use of wooden clubs to strike the spheroid and capture bags which symbolize bases.*
*The bases themselves represent something?* The golden Queen considered the possibility. Mammals at least appreciated symbolism, one of the few redeeming qualities they had. *Very well. Continue.*
*Since they have more than one species on the planet, I took the liberty of suggesting that each of their major species be represented.* The Copper shook her head. *So excitable these primitives.*
*Good. They need a decent sample. Great Bahamut, how much firepower do these primitives have?!*
Everyone watched the broadcast briefly.
The Copper broke the silence. *Well, at least they can't use guns or spells or large combat mecha in a baseball confrontation. The authority I spoke with was pretty clear about that. Oh, and we're not allowed to eat anyone on the opposing team.*
*Well darn,* said the Red. *They're taking all the fun out of it.*
The news had been covering this all in great detail.
Reaction worldwide ranged from disbelief to "nice shooting" (that was from Tibet by the way) to some religious groups declaring the aliens to be devils then emissaries then heathens then deciding that they'd make their minds up later.
The information that Earth's fate was to be settled by a game of baseball? That confused everything again.
Then there was this.
A demonic outbreak! The forces of Hell rising up against humanity! Glowing gateways through which hordes of Things swarmed!
There were arguments. These couldn't be real forces of Hell, smoothly argued these experts. There was, after all, no such thing as Hell. Or else they argued that Heaven was Hell and Hell was Heaven and Christianity in all its forms was Evil. Others still argued that we should try to meet these beings and open a dialogue.
On at least one of those news shows, the expert was then beaten repeatedly over the head by a screaming co-host who felt that 60' tall flaming horned skeletons holding pitchforks dripping with black flame were *not* something she felt reasonable about trying to get Warm and Fuzzy with. Especially after that hastily dispatched CNN helicopter crew was eaten alive after being dragged down by vampiric entities. Said co-host went on in great detail that while she might agree with the idea of political correctedness, she rather objected to the idea of having all the fluids drained from her body in order to be fair and openminded.
At which point someone noticed that the big silver was fighting on *their* side. That and all these girls and a few guys in odd costumes, plus the occasional alien. Against 60' tall flaming horned skeletons, etcetera. This had the effect of flipping a switch in a lot of the viewers heads when newscasters started picking up on it and crying and moaning whenever a defending ship was picked off. It was no longer perceived as a "them versus them" battle. It was "*us* versus them" and the "us" was kicking butt. The simple act of identifying the defenders as part of the "us" group had long reaching repercussions throughout the great collective social consciousness. That would be later though.
For now, as fanged slavering fiery beings with glowing eyesockets and the like attempted to get past lines of defenders and were forced back, the sentiment was simple and crossed political lines worldwide. (Except for France and a few notable exceptions.)
Hooray for our side.
And many of them asked questions. Like where were Uranus and Neptune?
Then the glowing gateways appeared and hordes of transparent warriors and pegasus riding maidens in chrome armor joined the fray.
Michiru twitched slightly as the subject of their nonparticipation was brought up. Haruka winced, knowing full well by this time that however valid her suspicions were - she was well and truly getting screwed over by the media.
"It was a difference of opinion," insisted the Cyberdyne spokeswoman on the newscast, her face being on one side of the screen while the battle still raged on the other. "Sailor Uranus did not feel comfortable with the direction of the Senshi, and that they should remain completely independent and stand on their own feet. It's her opinion and we at Cyberdyne stand behind her in wanting to make her own way in the world. Sailor Neptune has long been the friend of Sailor Uranus, and has dropped out so as not to further strain that friendship."
"So Sailor Uranus is saying 'screw the fate of the world, I'm going to do things my way'?" Chetu asked his guest.
"Not at all," insisted Yvette, a Maid unit who was the current spokeswoman. "Sailor Uranus is just being cautious - and understandably so. Evil beings can work through temptation - and in order to be tempting it has to be an attractive deal. When a group like the Sailor Senshi are working to fight Evil, it's understandable they'd want to be sure to understand all the potential repercussions. Whether she eventually joins or not is entirely up to her, and we at Cyberdyne commend her for standing up for her personal beliefs."
Haruka wondered if she could possibly find a nice rock to crawl under.
"So you say, but she revealed her identity as Haruka Ten'ou to the press, and we've interviewed many of those who have raced against her," pointed out Chetu. "They reveal someone who would balk at this arrangement simply because a guy was involved."
Haruka wondered if Michiru's eyes were really boring into her from the side. Not that she really wanted to look and confirm this.
"Those are guys who lost to her in traditionally male sports, and Ten'ou herself doesn't spare words to try and salve their egos. Perhaps these other competitors simply resent her for that?" Yvette suggested.
Haruka nodded very rapidly. Of course. That had to be it. Right?
Yvette arranged her little white apron in front of her, straightening it. "Ten'ou-san is the sort to choose a hard road because it is the path she believes in. She's a born fighter and a hero. Just because she disagrees with the other Senshi and prefers to make her own way doesn't make her less of either quality."
Haruka let out a deep breath. It was getting harder and harder to hold a grudge against these people. "I think I'm ready, Michiru. Let's go."
Some were androids built by Fess. Some were humans like Pegasus Saint Ranma Saotome or Takeshi Endo (representitive of the Japanese government) or Yuka. Some were Sailor Senshi or dragons.
They were fighting Evil, capital E and an underscore. Not one of them thought they were too powerful or overequipped.
"I'm surprised you didn't have the SDF-1 show up," said Greylle as he moved to engage some large demonic entity in battle.
"Still under construction," said Fess through a commlink. "How's Saturn?"
"Resting on my back. Ranma's keeping an eye on her and providing some assistance though i don't think he's got too many more of those U-sen Ken he can pull out." Greylle stopped talking long enough to slash and bite a demon, then tail lash a sorcerer off his flying carpet. "Any reinforcements? We're exhausting ourselves and there's still Gates open."
Venus held her hand up, as did Sailor Jupiter, Sailor Moon, and Tuxedo Kamen. "Senshi Gear On!" (Vreeeeee!)
Once sitting in the cockpit of her Venus Gundam, Sailor Venus took charge of the situation. "I need defense, I'm summoning my BFG and I'm disengaging all safety interlocks. One big shot will burn out that weapon but should close one of the two remaining Gates."
"On it," said Sailor Moon, wondering when Venus-chan had gotten so take charge. "Defensive barrier up!"
"Summoning particle beam gatling howitzer," announced Venus using the other name for her BFG.
"Jupiter Thunderbird is ready," said Jupiter. "Just say the word."
"Just before you fire, I'll launch missiles," put in Tuxedo Kamen. "With any luck that will clear a path for your attack."
"It's snowtime," said Venus, who would later deeply regret getting the quote wrong in front of all the people watching.
As reports of what was happening elsewhere occurred on Imperial Earth, the Imperial Security department in Hokkaido decided to try something theoretically possible. Switching their end of the conduit to an infernal realm that every spell or prescient in the service had informed them would be really really bad. An attempt to summon beings from that plane had been met with overwhelming concurrance that their Empire would be in disarray if not doomed should they breach that planar wall.
It was ordered done as soon as word came that the last other Gate, the one in the basement at the Security and Bioweapons Research facility in Manchuria, had just exploded.
The nearly exhausted defenders felt a sudden feeling of doom, especially on seeing what was coming out of the Gate.
"Identification 98% certain. Midgard Serpent. Gateway therefore leads to Nifflheim," announced Fess over the comm channels.
Even the ever-ready-for-a-fight einherjar and valkyries were taken aback at the sight.
"Arming system open," announced one of the androids on the Yamato. "Prepare eye defense. Bringing pressure up."
Extra wings erupted from Greylle's back.
Saturn stood up and began summoning power.
The Midgard Serpent began stretching the Gate, pulling it outward as it tried to fit through a Gate that was only 1/4 mile across.
"10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5," came from the Yamato.
"All cannons, aim," announced the Arcadia.
"Saturn Ultimate Attack," declared Sailor Saturn.
"Venus sniper laser rifle," called Venus from her Venus Gundam.
"..3, 2, 1. Fire!" came from the Yamato.
"Fire!" announced the Arcadia.
"FIRE!" announced the missile launching Sailor Jupiter, the rifle toting Sailor Venus, and Tuxedo Kamen's turtle.
"Wave Motion Gun," finished Saturn.
"gIGA fLARE," attacked Greylle.
In a tavern hall in Asgard, Thor had been quaffing a few when he saw the Midgard Serpent appear. Then he spat and started coughing because he sure as heck wasn't ready for *that* fight today.
Then he saw the Midgard Serpent, the creature that was prophesied to die at his hands only to kill him from the venom - come apart in very startled pieces as energy bolts went through it and exploded on the other side. The Gate closed. A cross section of the Midgard Serpent's head landed on the ground, incidently crushing an entire platoon of minor demons.
Thor blinked, realized he was standing, and sat back down. "Well now. Uhm. Well."
"Gee, guess that means that Ragnarock's been put 'on hold'," observed Urd. "Another round, Thor?"
Thor blinked a few more times before a grin started spreading across his face. "Naw. Think I'll wander around and see if I can find a good fight. And if I happen to wander into a particular timeline, now, that's not any fault of my own, you understand?"
Tyr grinned himself. "Sounds like a battleplan to me. Have to keep the old skills up, after all."
The gold Queen watched the battle for a few minutes then headed off to her lair. *Any of you. Don't even bother telling me of the apparent power levels or tactics or what we have to do to defeat them.*
The bronze subcommander nodded. *Yes, my Queen. I saw as well.*
*Saw what?* The Red demanded.
*The silver prince took one of the forms of Bahamut. Channelling the force of the god himself in order to defeat that whatever it was,* responded the subcommander. *If this is the legendary force of the royal family, it is a wonder that the coup went against them. As it is, if he has the blessings of the gods, it is best we lose as gracefully as possible.*
The actual baseball game was an anticlimax. Final score 94-12, in favor of the home team.
The Queen promised that if they could be of help to the Dirtlings, they would eventually return when the planet Dirt was ready for their presence.
Greylle couldn't put it off any longer and entered the dragonsleep.
A death here. A birth there. The galaxy turned.
The Senshi went to a certain moon of Garibaldi for a vacation, where they found the place exactly as advertised.
The Draconis returned to their own system, though eventually they became a major trading partner with the "Dirtlings." The difference in scale being sufficient that neither race was completely comfortable around the other.
Doctor Mizuno lived a long and fulfilling career as a pediatrician. First in Juuban, eventually at Tokyo General, and then to Crystal Tokyo Central Hospital & Medical Center. In 2004 she remarried and Ami got two more sisters as a result.
At NewsCenter 12: Chetu went through several partners but kept his comfortable job and position for several decades to come. Bufi worked at a variety of stations before eventually getting a position at one of the LaGrange colonies as an anchor, and as it was part of her expected image now frequently insulted the reporters and guests. Skip continued to be a "roving reporter" for twenty years until he retired to work at a radio broadcasting (QWKI) station in the asteroid belt. Yoko Shimomura went on to become a musician for Squaresoft.
Squaresoft became very big business when it was obvious that you could spend months travelling in space just getting from point A to point B. Video games, including role playing games, became immensely popular. More so than they had been.
Hikaru Gosunkugi attempted to summon a Being Of Power, was possessed by an essence fragment of Ares, and began the whole Saint Wars thing. This pitted him and a number of other minor Ranma cast members against the rest of the cast, caused massive amounts of landscape to be rearranged, and did not score him any points with anyone.
Tatewaki Kuno was eventually released from the sanitarium, however the Ginzuishou had caused him some lasting after effects. Which is probably why he became Brother Tate of an order of martial artist monks in Tibet where he lived a long, celibate, but enlightened life.
Kodachi joined Ranma's followers, eventually becoming Andromeda Kodachi and getting involved with the whole Saint Wars thing with Gosunkugi. Shampoo, Ukyo, Akane, Sugar, Spice, Frost, and Ranma ended up in a relationship that was odd but mainly worked out.
Hiroshi and Daisuke graduated High School and seperated. Hiroshi worked a variety of small jobs before eventually becoming a freight hauler on the Luna-Mars run and marrying a British Goth girl named Crypt. Daisuke eventually found out that his wife had married his old best friend and was playing them both. After some initial hostilities and stress, the three decided the relationship worked well enough and to continue it.
Kasumi Tendo finally had more than enough of Doctor Tofu falling apart around her, took control of the situation, and became Kasumi Ono before the good doctor knew what was going on.
Nabiki Tendo became the great and powerful sorceress-troubleshooter-ghost sweeper she had intended to become, and eventually managed to get a teaching degree. When she finally retired from teaching and going out on adventures, she vanished without a clue as to where she had gone. On the infrequent cases she showed up thereafter, her standard reply to any such question was "That is... a secret!"
Happosai committed one too many acts of flagrant lechery and was placed in a prison cell in the Kuiper Belt.
The various members of the Hentai Sorcerers Club were found guilty of a number of crimes. Those that had left the Club received probation. Those eventually were able to move out into the world, marry their "pet witches" and live mainly comfortable lives. The five, including Higari, who were arrested eventually found themselves at the Ganymede Work Farm serving a ten year sentence. Note that Jupiter has significantly longer years than Earth does but the law was eventually fixed.
Genma remained a little black piglet but eventually he found himself at the Unryuu Sumo Pig farm where he could eat to his heart's content. Knowing full well that to return to the Tendo place would end up with Akane making ham sandwiches out of his body. So he spent a lifetime trying to convince everyone he was just a cute little piglet and jumping at every shadow.
Ryouga eventually found the Unryuu Sumo Pig Farm after making peace with almost everyone during the Saint Wars. He never figured out who the little black pig was.
A ninja named Konatsu was rescued by Ryouga during the Saint Wars and ended up working at the Unryuu Sumo Pig Farm. He figured out who the little black pig was, but determined that it would just open a whole can of worms if the information was made public. After finding out the whole story he simply tormented the little black pig with leaving recipe books open and similar not-always-so-subtle nudges.
Nodoka Saotome found out about her son's living arrangements, which convinced her that he was indeed a man among men. She doted on her grandchildren and it took her two years to wonder where her husband had gone.
Soun Tendo eventually married a girl named Hinako who had a problem with her chi that Nabiki was able to solve. They lived together for forty-seven years in the rebuilt ancestral Tendo house and had five children.
Yuka and Sayuri seperated after High School, joining up again ten years later as they had promised. Yuka had become a pilot in the Japanese Spatial Defense Force, attained the rank of Major, sold CDs of her music and was a member of a band that was operating at the Martian Base - "Yuka and the Replicants." Sayuri was a manager of a McDonalds in Nara. Sayuri ended up being dragged by Yuka off on an adventure where they crossed paths with Hiroshi and Daisuke, met the Sailor Senshi again, and became part of the new Outer Defense Patrol.
The Shinsengumi continued to fight through high school before breaking up. After finding themselves on the wrong side during the Saint Wars, they broke up. Ryoko Mitsurugi married Shizuma Kusanagi and their heirs regularly became a thorn in the side of Ranma's heirs, Ryoga's heirs, and anybody else who offered a good fight. Megumi Momoi became a truck driver after her career as a pro-wrestler, which in turn was followed by hauling freight in a cargo-tow among the LaGrange space stations. Xiaoxing Huang married Mousse after defeating him after the two met during the Saint Wars. Asuka Kuronari taught herself ninjitsu until she abruptly vanished in 2009 and was never heard from again. As for Aoi Asahina, she took her vows and joined the Warrior-Nuns after the formation of that group in 2011.
Mamoru Chiba and Usagi Tsukino married. Nobody was surprised. With the help of Fess, Crystal Tokyo was built on the moon in the Sea Of Serenity where it became a sort of retirement village for the system. It was found that 1/6 gravity slowed the onset of problems from aging, though after a few years there one couldn't leave due to bone problems that developed. The two eventually had a young girl they called Chibi-usa who was a nice but bratty daughter when a child, a rebellious wild child in her teen years, and eventually settled down in time for her parents to hand off the Queen job to her.
Ami Mizuno realized her lifelong dream of becoming a doctor, interned at Tokyo General, and eventally joined her mother at Crystal Tokyo Medical Center.
Minako Aino became a singer, retired at age 24, then became a pilot with the Japanese Spatial Defense Force. She eventually developed a relationship with a shapeshifting bronze dragon named Balzar.
Rei Hino took over the Hino Shrine after her grandfather's retirement, but found time for the occasional lunar trip to visit Usagi and the others.
Makoto Kino opened her bakery and flower shop on the L-5 colony. During the Colony Wars she moved to Crystal Tokyo with her friends.
Haruka and Michiru became members of the Outer Defense Patrol, to absolutely no one's surprise.
Setsuna Meiou relocated to Crystal Tokyo during the Colony Wars, where she continued her career as a designer of attractive and practical clothing for people who lived in variable gravities.
Luna and Artemis accompanied Mamoru and Usagi. Luna ended up with ulcers and Artemis eventually decided to take on a job at the "Voice Of Crystal Tokyo and the Moon Kingdom - Serenity Live" with a TV talk show and radio program that included advice to "all the young princes and princesses out there."
The Dead Moon, Nemesis, and host of other Sailor menaces failed to show up. When Galaxia did show, she did not face a handful of Senshi and a largely ignorant populace. She faced dragons, powerful mages, starships capable of detecting and blowing away Earthbound asteroids, Senshi, Saints, and superpowered androids. Most of whom either did not have Star Seeds or had powerful defenses against magic of that sort and very little sympathy for someone trying death magic out on them.
Furinkan Senior High School gained a reputation for producing well educated but often strange students.
Kentaro Takaoka and Sleeze Productions tried to put out one last video. After the various legal manueverings were finished, the amount of debt levied on him, his employers, and everyone involved in the making of that video was sufficient to pay Japan's UN dues for over a century. Kentaro suffered the usual fate of those who have made themselves out to be a major embarassment to the Yakuza.
Morgana Le Fay had a nice long "chat" with the wizard named Harry who had left a spellbook in Nerima where some kids could find it. Harry spent thirty years as a frog as an object lesson. Morgana went on to become an advisor to the Tendo School Of Magical Arts.
The Midgard Serpent had been blown to bits, and those bits slowly began to link up and regenerate. However it would take over 10,000 years to get back into anything approaching fighting strength.
The feedback to the Imperial Security center in Hokkaido on Imperial Earth was less than .00001% of the explosion in Niffleheim. That was still quite considerable in terms of explosions. The damage to Imperial Japan was such that most of the other Empires seized the opportunity to seize large sections of the Japanese Empire. So while the Japanese Empire survived on that world, it was not nearly as powerful as it had been and was no longer able to plan that final push to conquer the other empires.
Maid unit Yvette was accepted as a worker at Disneyland Tokyo where she found having skills like being fluent in thirty languages enormously useful.
Animeland was built and became quite popular as most of Cyberdyne was moved to the lower levels. Even if people knew the characters were actually androids, the roles were played so well and the "ambience" fit together sufficiently that those who enjoyed such things were quite happy with the experience. Then there were those who came to meet aliens, or view the technology involved, and a variety of other reasons.
Thor was sufficiently happy over the fight he'd just gotten into, and the one he'd just postponed for what was a serious amount of time even for an Asgardian, that he and Sif were expecting a daughter just a few months later. He was a little taken aback that he would not be allowed a Space Cruiser Yamato of his very own, but these things happened.
Snoopy went on to become a member of the Outer Defense Patrol, with his Sopwith Camel a common sight in the Kuiper Belt - always keeping an eye out for the red tri-wing of his dreaded nemesis.
Earth itself underwent a few changes. The technology of antigrav and portable fusion generators remained largely "black boxed" - restricted knowledge since the potential for misuse was so great. Japan benefitted enormously, as did England, the United States, Australia, and other countries where Cyberdyne lift platforms reduced the price of getting a large payload into high orbits to about $50/ton. When the Brazilian lift platform was seized by the government and experts swarmed in to uncover the secrets, the lift platform mysteriously fused all electronics within 100 square miles including the black boxes within. As that ended the South American presence of Cyberdyne and the economic boom of that country slid into depression, the lesson was picked up by other countries who made damn sure that everyone in their employ knew not to kill the goose laying those golden eggs.
Earth began depopulating in some areas, particularly when the LaGrange colonies were being constructed. Opportunity knocked and while some returned in defeat, more followed the siren call of a better life onward into space.
The rich and the poor stayed where they were, for the most part. It was mainly the young, the dreamers, those with wanderlust burning in their veins, or similar groups that went out into the solar system. Some ended up in familiar roles. A farmer was a farmer, whether a dusty track in Mexico or the inside of a dome on Mars. Most machines were electric and electricians and mechanics found plenty of work in their chosen field.
Some industries found the lure of space promising. New alloys could be forged in low gravity, glass and textiles woven, bio-engineering with a natural failsafe and containment procedure, raw materials in plenty as long as you knew where to look and weren't after the purely organic. Ships were built to take advantage of the fact that they spent their whole existence in zero g and no atmosphere. Starkly functional, gaudily painted, or artistically flamboyant.
People died, of course. Space was an unforgiving environment. Statistics that all newcomers to space were quickly presented with, and increased constantly. This many people died from ramming an asteroid or other rock. This many people died from smoke or other toxic atmospheric fouling. This many people died from accidents where they directly experienced vaccuum.
When Cyberdyne opened the first Stargate in 2011, other systems began to see human colonization. Alpha Centauri. Epsilon Eridani. New Jeruselam. Earthlike worlds were found and worlds where Galaxia had destroyed all life, but they could be reclaimed now.
By 2065, the number of sentient races known to man was over two dozen. By 2100, humanity had met fifty races and got along with ten of them! (Which itself was almost unheard of among the more established races.) Part of this was because the leading edge of humanity were the enthusiasts, the ones with the spark in their hearts who wanted to *see* things beyond the pale.
There were those on Earth who declaimed the whole thing, and wept about the path humankind had taken. The glittering crystal city on the moon. The canals and boulevards and domed cities of Mars. The terraforming operations on Venus. The extrasolar colonies and the undersea cities and the shanty towns in the asteroid belt.
These detractors pointed out to the wars in the Middle East, the bloody battles in Africa, the floods in India, the towns and cities largely abandoned by their inhabitants in Japan and the United States among other countries. The Saint Wars, the Colony Wars, the Luddite Rebellion, the volcano of Beijing and the Brazilian Uprising. The strange weather patterns, the current teen fashions, the occasional piece of space junk surviving re-entry, the rumors of Bigfoot. See, they cried out, see the horrors that this prosperity has wrought?
After all, they pointed out, before the dragon had come - none of these things existed. Humanity's destiny had been stolen from it, and man had no business in space with so much suffering on Earth.
And those that remained behind listened. And those that pursued their dreams pursued them.
And Ranma Saotome had a large number of children and many of them went on to become heroes in their own right.
But that, as they say, is a story for another time.
World Shaking - mana bolt (Earth)
Space Sword Blaster - cutting/penetrating attack using sword talisman.
Earth Shattering - cone shaped vibratory attack
Ground Breaking - defensive attack. Causes an earthen wall or dome to form from nearest supply.
Meteor - Ultimate. summons a meteor.
Transport: Lemon yellow 1967 Ford Mustang. 360 engine with fusion helper motor. anti-grav equipped.
Mecha: Yellow Lynx - Laser claw. Best melee fighter of the mecha.
(1) Opening theme, VanDread stage two
Hotaru straightened her flying gear and slung the helmet under one arm. Everything was ready. Everything in place.
When she looked up, her smile was as if the sun had broken through clouds. "Sempai. It's time."
OMAKE OMAKE OMAKE
Amaterasu looked over the pool. "No Kodachi matchups?"
Toltiir gestured. "You want to see a Kodachi story?"
"Not really, no," whined the Ranma who'd recently tried to beat an Elder god into giving him a favor. Which explained why he was currently 24cm tall and in a bird cage.
Little Kodachi Kuno sniffled. Looking for meaning in her life after a common thug had killed her mother, she wandered here.
One of the Kuno labs, where Papa-san was known to do some strange things.
"Miss Kuno," said the little bucktoothed ninja. "You shouldn't be in here. Your father is experimenting with genetic splicing and radioactivity here. Very dangerous."
Kodachi glared at the frequent guardian of the Kuno children. "I know. A spider just bit me."
"Oh dear!" Sasuke said. "Well, let's get you cleaned up."
SPIDERGIRL, an omake by Gregg Sharp
A kunoichi with a twirl,
Spins a web - any size,
Catches thieves, just like flies,
Look out - here comes the Spidergirl."
"Is she strong? Listen bud,
she's got radioactive blood!
Villains out, spreading crime,
with the speed of light,
She'll arrive just in time!"
"Hey there, here comes the Spidergirl!"
"WHAT?! How exactly does this make her less nutzoid?!"
Toltiir looked up at the Ranma in the birdcage. "Simple. The Kuno family has a genetic anomaly that causes insanity. However in Nerima that's hardly as noticeable as it would be outside that area, right? She just received a massive jolt to her system. She's also been 'rewarded by the Heavens' to 'pursue a sacred duty' and act in the manner of a samurai by protecting the weak and punishing the wicked. So she's a little less crazy and channels what's left in an entirely new direction."
"Kodachi! Hi!" Akane called out. "You wouldn't believe what just happened to me!"
"You were engaged against your will to the son of a vagrant martial artist?" Kodachi guessed.
"You heard, huh?" Akane shook her head. "He is *such* a jerk. In a way he's as creepy as that Spidergirl!"
"I don't know, Akane, some ninja girl running around beating guys up? From what I'd heard of you, I'd have thought you'd approve of her," suggested Kodachi with a smile.
"Hah! Okay, the beating up lowlifes and Yakuza I can get behind," admitted Akane. "But the whole spider ninja thing is entirely too creepy."
Kodachi shrugged. "To some degree, I must agree with you. For such as ourselves, with noble samurai ancestry, to associate with a ninja would be scandalous."
"That's not quite the point," said Akane, aware they'd had this conversation before. "Anyway did you hear about the diamond smugglers?"
"Oh, please Akane. Such a boorish topic. Tell me more about this fiance of yours instead." Kodachi smiled at her clueless, if nice, friend.
Ranma stared as Akane walked away with that other girl. He was hidden. He was sure of it. Yet this other girl had looked directly at him and *smirked.*
He was also getting conflicting signals from her. Something told him she was really good at fighting, but the girl sure didn't act like she was ready for a fight. He'd have to keep a close eye on her.
Two days later:
Spidergirl fell, the spreading numbness from the gas causing her to miss a handhold. Thwip!
Not that that really mattered when you had your handy dandy webshooters.
Spidergirl blinked behind her mask as she was lifted up by a powerfully built male physique.
"Don't worry, I gotcha!"
Spidergirl politely didn't point out that she had a webline to the next building.
"This is too dangerous for girls," pointed out Ranma.
Using spider-speed and spider-strength to knock Akane's fiance out of the path of several poison-tipped throwing knives, Spidergirl felt that there might be some merit to the statement. If one were not granted such boons as the aforementioned speed, strength, and ability to sense incoming danger.
"You watch out, whoever you are," said Spidergirl called after Ranma.
A redhaired girl leapt onto the rooftop. "HEY! Whatta ya mean knocking me into the water?!"
Thwip! Spidergirl sent a webline out. "They're getting away. Better go home... you're a girl now?"
"Oh hell," said the girl, looking at her shirt, then back at the now dwindling form of the ninja.
Spidergirl loved this part, a highspeed chase over the rooftops, speeding along in an acrobatic blur of motion that was as much of an adrenalin rush as one of velocity.
There! The van was coming to a stop at a red light.
(pant!) (wheeze!) (gasp!) "you're... pretty fast."
"Shhhh. They'll hear us," Spidergirl indicated. Though she was a little impressed. This was hardly a normal girl if she could keep up with her for very long.
(pant!) (gasp!) "...who?!..."
"Slaver ring, they've been kidnapping young girls and smuggling them off to Hong Kong," whispered Spidergirl. "Once they reveal their headquarters, I can deal with the viper in its nest."
(gasp!) "...oh..." (wheeze!)
"There they go," said Spidergirl, getting ready to spring into action again.
(gulp!) "No way. It's too dangerous for..." Ranma watched the girl moving off into the distance. "Okay, maybe *some* girls aren't exactly weak and fragile."
One month later:
"So you do this all the time, Kodachi?"
Spidergirl knew he'd been there, the accusation was a surprise however. "I'm Spidergirl, the ninja who strikes for justice. I don't have a 'little long sword'."
"I know it's you, Kodachi. I'm good enough at the Art I can tell that kinda thing," said Ranma.
"I don't have time for whatever you're pushing," said Spidergirl. "That vehicle over there is being used by the Yakuza to ferry narcotics into the area. Worse, supposedly they have a 'gaijin tarento' (foreign talent) by the name of Bullseye."
"I don't... He any good?"
"Supposed to be a professional assassin. Anything that comes to hand is a deadly weapon for him. Knows some strange martial art, possibly a unique one." Spidergirl pointed. "That unsavory looking fellow in spandex is likely him."
Ranma blinked. "Okay. When do we strike?"
Ranma groaned. Toltiir snickered. Not many Elder gods could get away with snickering.
Images skidded past the surface of the Well.
Spidergirl swinging into combat with thugs, Yakuza, and supervillains.
A reluctantly masked Ranma Saotome as "Martial Arts Guy" (before Kodachi was finally able to get him to change his costumed name to Striker and his twin sister Kicker) getting some decent fights in against thugs, Yakuza, and the occasional supervillain.
Shampoo shows up, gets kidnapped by Electro, rescued by Striker, finds out that Striker is Ranma is the outsider girl. Finds out that Akane is really upset about Ranma being gone most nights, and determines that she enjoys beating up stupid outsider men - particularly supervillain types. Mountain Girl starts showing up.
An adventure involving Spidergirl, Thor, Striker, and Doctor Strange ending up with Ranma cured of the Catfist - except that he now powers up into a weretiger he now calls Tigerboy (causing looks of disgust from everyone else as he declares this.) His cure for the Jusenkyo curse lasts until Mousse splashes him with Spring Of Drowned Duck water, causing his old Jusenkyo curse to renew. Brief scene of Ranma beating the holy heck out of Mousse.
Cologne shows up, determines why Shampoo is still in Japan and thinks the whole thing is good training. Opens the Cat Curio Shop to perform a support role and hope that these experiences broaden Shampoo's horizons enough to eventually lead the tribe.
Spidergirl, Mountain Girl, and Tigerboy discover Spatgirl. Spatgirl finds a relationship going between Tigerboy and Spidergirl. Spatgirl starts going into vengeance mode, only to be rescued when she's kidnapped by Akuma No Oni. Spatgirl spends a lot of time thinking about this then going after a mysterious panda sighted in the Nerima area and committing serious panda abuse.
Akane begins to warm up to the idea of Spidergirl not being a bad guy after the fourth "everyone get together and rescue Akane from this latest magical prince/supervillain/Yakuza thug" incident. At which point she figures out who Tigerboy is. Violence commences and Ranma is thrown out of the Tendo dojo.
Ranma begins living in the Spidercave. The relationship deepens between he and Kodachi. And then...
Toltiir smirked. "That... is a secret."