Furinkan High School,
An Eighth Grade History Class,
Nerima District of Tokyo, Japan,
Spring, The year 0023 A. M.
Chapter 10: Not Alone
Ukyo Kuonji was having a very bad day. This starting by the fact that her name was no longer Ukyo Kuonji… just Ukyo now. She was a ronin, abandoned by her family, left to rot on the streets. Without a family name, banks wouldn't loan her the money to begin another "Uuchan's." She also could not go back to her old restaurant because her family, or ex-family, had taken and sold it.
So she had been wandering, alone for the past three or four months… lonely. Well, she'd been alright with that. She'd been expecting to lose her family name when Ranma left her for Akane. It only made her feel better when Ranma had disappeared. If she couldn't have Ranma, at least Akane couldn't either.
Though she had befriended Akane during Ranma's absence. It had been a rocky friendship, but it worked out in the end. Then, after that Ukyo had been forced to return to her home to give one last shot at making her father see that she could not marry, or kill, Ranma Saotome.
So she was disowned. Did she enjoy her new, nameless life? Not in the least. She would kill to have her family name back, and again be in the running for Ranma's heart. But she couldn't go back to Nerima now… she was a disgrace. Not in the Tendo's eyes, nor Ranma's, but she was in her own. She had heard in passing that Akane was pregnant… big shocker there. Ukyo knew that if she'd had half the opportunity Akane had with Ranma, she'd have been pregnant years ago!
But none of these were the true reason for her bad day. These were just icing on the cake. The real reason for her bad day today was something else entirely. The real reason, was the diminutive little prune-like man standing beneath her.
"So this is where you've been my beautiful Ukyo! How have you been these past couple of months?" asked the perverted lecher.
"Dry up and die, old man…" Ukyo said with less than half the vigor she once possessed. She then continued walking down the road, but of course, the perverted old man known as Happosai followed her. She was on a rather nameless highway between Tokyo and Sapporo, and how the old letch had found her was a complete mystery.
"Oh come on, lil' Uuchan! It's not so bad! Why here I was willing to offer you a loan but, if your going to be so downhearted about it…" Happosai sighed dejectedly.
"Yeah right, since when do you have money?" Ukyo asked impatiently. She bit back her response that only Ranma could call her "Uuchan," and continued with her questioning and edgy glare.
Happosai grinned. He had reasons for keeping the girl around. If anything for her incredibly beautiful body, but more for her ability. She could use Saidar. She was, of course, by no means the best, but also not the worst.
"I've always had money lil' Uuchan! I've just never felt the need to use it! It's so much easier to just live off those foolish students of mine." Happosai said happily.
"I… see?" Ukyo replied, confused.
"So! What do you say? How's about five hundred thousand yen to get you started, eh? I'll expect it back of course… but I know your okonomiyaki is the best, and I will expect you to be able to make this easily!" Happosai gushed, in his usual, elated tone.
"Y-you… are you… serious?" Ukyo asked, sounding hopeful. She knew that the old lecher was not usually this kind, and remained watchful for his usual perversion.
"Lil' Uuchan! I'm hurt that you would trust me so little! I-ACK!" Happosai exclaimed as Ukyo grabbed him, from his still position on the road, by his shirt collar and lifted him to her face.
"Ok, you dirty old man! What's the catch?" She exclaimed in anger.
"My only requirement is that you reside in Tokyo and learn from me." Happosai said happily.
"Learn… what?" Ukyo replied cautiously. Twitching as if accepting the offer would end up as the most horrible idea in the world. A few uncensored thoughts flitted about the rims of her mind involving ways she would be forced to "pay him back."
She shivered inwardly. Being at the financial mercy of Happosai was the last thing she wanted.
"Oh stop cringing! I'm not planning on groping you!" Happosai shouted. "At least give me credit for something! It is… or at least will be within the next few years, a dire situation that we are in."
"Huh?" Ukyo questioned. Happosai had sounded almost… serious for a moment.
"You will be learning how to use Saidar. The female side of the true source of power." Happosai said irritably.
"The… wha… Um… well…" Ukyo stuttered.
She placed her chin in her hand and thought hard, contemplating on what she should do. More ideas were fluttering around in her head such as ending up a fifty-year-old, unmarried beggar, always wondering what could have been if she had accepted Happosai's offer.
Currently, the best that could happen to her was ending up permanently homeless, living on the streets beneath a bridge or something. What would she do for winter? Oh… winter would be hell…
In the end, it wasn't really much of a choice at all.
"I… accept… damn it…" she sighed dejectedly.
Happosai smiled. "Good, here you are! This card has exactly five hundred thousand yen on it. The password is "Two, six, six, two." I will be back in about two months… I have another recruit to require." Happosai said as he handed a shocked Ukyo a debit card.
Happosai bounded away quickly but then saw Ukyo following him.
"H-Hey! Wait!" she exclaimed running a few steps after him.
"Yes, child?" Happosai responded, turning quickly.
"First I wanna know why your offering this to me so easily! Second I wanna know who your recruit is, old freak!" Ukyo thought for a moment and decided that she should ask a final question. "And... why... haven't you tried to grope me?"
Happosai's smile widened.
"That's easy child. I'm offering because you could use it more than I. And my other recruit is Xian Pu! Who else would you expect?" Happosai exclaimed. "As for your third question, would you like me too?"
Happosai disappeared, leaving a somewhat satisfied, yet annoyed Ukyo.
She was satisfied in two ways, one being that she would be training with Shampoo, most likely. True their war for Ranma had waged on for a long time but now with him out of the picture, Ukyo could look at Shampoo for what she was. That was a really good fighter. She was no slouch herself in martial arts, but actually training with Shampoo would surely make both of them much better.
The second reason for her satisfaction was that she could now be successfully NOT homeless. Who wouldn't be satisfied for that?
Her dissatisfaction, however, came from the fact that she felt much more... loose in the chest area after he disappeared.
The bra she had taken up wearing ever since she had been disowned, was no longer present on her breasts.
"Damn you, Happosai!" She exclaimed.
Rand al'Thor was angry. Blood and Ashes, he was angry! Min was gone. Someone had kidnapped his beloved Min. By the creator himself, Rand swore that whoever was at fault for this would experience the wrath of the Dragon Reborn.
"Where are you leading me?" Rand snapped at the guard, whose name he could not remember.
"My Lord Dragon, I take you to the cells where we put the blue lady, who we found in Min's quarters." The guard said hastily. His pace quickened as if trying not to anger Rand by his sloth.
Rand was more annoyed. Something wasn't adding up. They found someone within Min's quarters when Min was not there? If the culprit was Aes Sedai, then there was bound to be trouble. Worse yet… what if it was a Forsaken in disguise, just waiting on him to arrive? Rand embraced the tainted, flaming, all-consuming power of Saidin, the male half of the true power, and readied himself for anything as the guard stopped at a specific door.
"We've kept her in here for the past week, my lord." The guard stuttered. "She fought us, repeatedly screaming that she was Min. I can't believe it though. Her unusual dress and attire makes the maidens who dance the sa'sara look conservative. The way her face seems to blur and distort, disguising herself? I just can't see her as Min as she says, my lord.
"Let me in." Rand said coldly.
The guard did so. He unlocked the chamber door with a key, prompting Rand to walk inside. Once there, he found a woman. A very beautiful woman.
"Oh Rand." The girl sighed in exasperated relief. "Thank the Light, your finally here! Please tell them to let me out! It's me, Rand! Tell me you can see that it's me!"
Rand looked into the woman's eyes. Her face blurred beneath his gaze, prying and forcing his sight from her face. It was unusual, how her features seemed to blend in. Her eyes would warble and blend as if her face were a pool enshrouded in tiny ripples disguising her figure. It tried to force him to not see who was behind the clothing. Rand could not understand it. The woman's face was perfectly clear, yet, entirely distorted at the same time.
This was something which Rand usually had an instinct on. Rand had felt attracted to a total of five women in his life. Those women were Egwene, Elayne, Aviendha, Min, Lanfear and Ilyena. This girl's clothing was a short piece of cloth which barely covered her vital areas, and only then, just a little bit. Rand felt attracted to this girl.
"Oh, my beautiful Ilyena," Lews Therin muttered in the back of Rand's mind.
"Damn." Rand thought. He didn't love Ilyena. Lews Therin did. Lews Therin Telamon. Lews Therin Kinslayer. One thousand years ago, this man went insane due to the taint of Saidin and killed all of his family. Now his dead or dying conscience resided in Rand al'Thor's sorely overworked mind. Lews's wife, whom Lews had killed himself due to insanity, was Ilyena.
Egwene had been his childhood companion, growing up with him. Originally, back when he had been a simple farm boy from the "Two Rivers" he had thought he would marry her. Now… now things between them were much different. He had word that she had became the Amyrlin Seat, the head of the Aes Sedai. It was more complicated then that he was sure, however it did not matter. Rand did not trust Aes Sedai. Nor did he think he ever would again in this lifetime.
Elayne was the Princess and now Queen of Andor with the death of her mother Morgase. Rand loved her dearly but had not seen the woman in almost seven months. She resided with Egwene he thought. He had sent Mat to watch her and bring her back to Caemlyn where she could accept the Lion Throne. The damn thing was a nuisance to Rand. He already had the thrones of Cairhien, Tear, Illian, and all the multitudes of the Aiel, except the Shaido. These thrones were becoming too much of a burden for him alone.
The Aiel woman Aviendha, ex-maiden of the spear and wise-one in training, was yet another love of his life. The woman confounded, confused, angered and made him smile all at the same time. Her strict following of ji'e'toh, the Aiel code of honor, led her to be furiously aloof of him. She avoided him when she wanted him because he had already been, based on her ji'e'toh ways, promised to Elayne.
He had seen many women who were more beautiful than all of his loves, save for Lanfear. Lanfear had been posing under the name Selene when he later he found that she was one of the Forsaken. Her name, in old tongue, meant "Daughter of the Night." Even so, she was, or had been, the most beautiful woman to ever grace they eyes of Rand. However, of the others, he had seen more beautiful woman and been completely unaffected by their wiles and charms.
This one, this girl, in front of him, he felt attracted to. While she had nothing capable of comparing to the beauty possessed by the Daughter of the Night, not to mention how Rand couldn't even see her properly, she did have a beauty and charm which coincided with the same attraction Rand held for a certain, backwater, village, stable-girl, named Min Farshaw.
"Min?" He asked as he painfully let go of the wonderful feeling of the one-power. "By the creator, what in the world are you wearing? And why is your face so… distorted?"
"That's what I'd like to know!" Min exclaimed angrily. "As I was waking, a blue bauble of light appeared in front of me and popped. Then this pen appeared in my hands and suddenly I looked like this!"
"Well… I… must admit, it's really not what I'm used to seeing you in, but I don't mind the clothing at all." Rand quirked humorously.
Min's face flushed with fury, and also a hint embarrassment. "Rand al'Thor you are a prurient fool!"
Rand smiled, glad that his precious Min was safe. Only Min would insult him like that. Rand idly wondered what prurient meant. "Come on, Min." He said in a relieved tone.
Min grumbled a little bit but, truth be told, she was happy to have finally been released.
There was an awkward silence. Resting would not be a good idea. Their only choice was to move onward as soon as possible. However, until Ranma awoke that wouldn't be possible at all.
"ARRRGH! Damn it, Ranma! Wake up! We gotta find… we gotta find her. Come on, Ranma." Akane begged repeatedly.
She knelt on the hard stone floor, hovering over her fiancée's motionless body, and trying desperately to wake him. Akane felt somewhat guilty in fact. While true she wanted Ranma to wake, but the reason for wanting this was that she wanted to see her daughter more than anything else in the world. Nothing else mattered. Not even Ranma's own health or pain at the moment, which made her feel quite guilty indeed.
To get her baby back she had to wake Ranma, and damn herself to hell if she couldn't force him to take the pain to get her daughter back. She was all that mattered.
"What should we do now?" Moon asked , frustrated.
Mercury was busily typing away on her computer. Unexpectedly, he leapt with a resounding "Yatta!"
"What happened Mercury?" Venus asked.
Mercury smiled. "I just found the floor plans for Pluto's castle." She stated smugly, still more glad that she had some self worth within this group. She wasn't much for fighting so her brains and computer were what aided the Senshi. She always was glad when she could be useful.
Moon smiled. "Good job. Which way is the room holding the gates?"
Mercury looked down at the computer for a moment placed a few fingers to her chin and thought for a moment.
"It's um… heh… it's a ways away. This will take some time to get there. The Building is almost a hundred and twenty stories tall. The room of the gates of time is on the second to top floor.
The Senshis' eyes widened.
"A… A hundred and twenty?" Jupiter exclaimed in unison with Venus.
Mercury was typing busily again trying to make light of the conundrum. The medieval towers had only looked about twenty stories tall at the most.
"Oh I see." Mercury commented after a moment.
A groan emanated from where Ranma lay, alerting the room to his arousal.
"Ranma? Come on Ranma wake up!" Akane exclaimed.
Ranma rolled over, away from Akane for a moment before murmuring. "Machin-chan… lemme' alone… I'm sleepy… we'll spar in an hour or two…."
"Machin?" Akane thought, confused.
"Ranma!" She shouted angrily.
"Ack! Machi-Oh…! Akane!" Ranma screeched, rising faster than Akane could blink.
"Wha- the… what's… oh! Akane! Are you alright! Ok? She didn't, touch you did she?" Ranma instantly began examining Akane in a state of full alertness.
"I'm fine, Baka. Come on we have to go. I want to see my baby…" Akane said speedily. She stood and sprinted towards where the Senshi were conversing.
Ranma stood and bounded over next to her.
"Eeep!" Akane shouted when Ranma landed not a centimeter away from her, shoulder to shoulder.
Ranma looked down at his fiancée, confused by the frightened look in her eyes. "A-Akane? Are… are you ok?"
Akane growled a little and said into his ear, "Don't do that!" Then she turned to the Senshi and asked, "Where do we need to go?"
Mercury was quick to reply.
"Come, follow me. Up these stairs." And up the stairs they went. Stair… after stair… after stair… all the while there were a few conversations occurring.
"So you see," Mercury said between ragged sighs to Moon. "This palace is… mostly underground. Only the top… forty seven stories… are above ground."
"That explains it. How far left?" Moon replied tartly.
"Forty two stories," Mercury replied.
They raced around a corner and met another stair.
"Who is… Machin Ranma?" Akane asked.
Ranma looked down. "He's.. he's just… an old friend. A very, very… old friend."
Akane looked at him, skeptically. She knew there was something more… Who was Machin? How did Ranma know him? Was it a him? It was a very peculiar name. But these questions would have to wait, thought. There were more important matters at hand.
Pluto smiled. Her arm looked perfect. Perhaps expiration dates really were just a myth. It had taken much longer than she had originally hoped but it worked nonetheless. She looked through the eyes of her castle, watching for her adversaries. Through the ancient technologies of the Silver Millennium her enemies were found easily. She smiled. All was not lost yet. Then, without warning, she heard something she hadn't heard in almost twenty thousand years. The voice that had haunted her dreams for all this time. Ever since she had first taken the position as the Senshi of Pluto and before this one thing had terrified her. And it was nothing more than a voice...
"MY NAE BLISS. I HAVE RETURNED FOR YOU." The haunting low toned voice that saturated her being with pain said. Pluto had heard this voice once before. The voice brought out a nightmare in her sleep every year or so. She'd never forgotten what it had said all those years ago.
"SOMEDAY… YOU WILL BELONG TO ME." The voice had said, back then. It had left her terrified. She hadn't felt truly alone since. It had seemed that someone was always watching her. It took her years to get over her fear of the dark, and of being alone, that had developed from it.
A dark apparition flowed through her, first in her feet. It was like smoke, seeping through her clothing, touching her skin directly. The voice burned her mind with pain and ecstasy, while the smoky appearance wafted through her body, flowing upward from her feet to her head, making her shiver like she had never done before, and calling goose bumps to her skin.
"W-what are you…?" Pluto stuttered, frightened as the apparition reached her chest.
She could feel the apparition smile as it finally made it above her head. She looked up, terrified, and saw a ghostly hand.
It wafted up through the ceiling and disappeared. "N-no!" Pluto exclaimed. She knew what was in that room. The gates…
"No! No, Leave the gates alone!" Pluto made a mad dash to the next floor taking the steps four at a time at least.
She stopped at the door to the room and grabbed the handle… she opened it slowly…
They were moving onward. It was fast going, as all of them were running full speed. Akane was having trouble keeping up, Ranma was sure, but she kept quiet. Her determination to find Keika was incredible, just as any mother's should be.
"Are you alright, Akane?" Ranma asked while running, glancing to the girl on his left.
The long corridors, made of stone bricks, floors, and ceilings seemed to close in on them as they ran. Each new direction Mercury would point out the way and they would begin running again.
It was endless. There was no staircase that led directly to the top. Each staircase was, for the most part, found on the opposite side of each floor. Ranma wasn't certain, but he thought that they had only gone about three to five floors up, and they'd been running for twenty minutes!
"I'm… I'm fine, Ranma…" Akane wheezed.
"Alright." Ranma replied, unsure that Akane was telling the truth.
Ranma was incapable of leaving Akane. He could not leave her. If he could he would blast straight to the top of the building for his revenge. But heaven nor hell would separate her from him again.
"How many floors are there!" Jupiter exclaimed.
They were slowly beginning to tire and Moon knew that if they became too tired they would be unprepared to face Pluto. All of them against Pluto alone, it had seemed like a pathetically easy match. Moon, however, knew she had underestimated the Setsuna.
"It won't happen again." Usagi muttered.
"What was that… Mom?" Chibi-usa asked.
"Nothing, Chibi." Moon replied. She sped up a little with a determined look on her face. Anger radiated her being. Setsuna would be stripped of her power, or she would die today… She should be stripped of her power based on her most recent crime alone!
Mind manipulation. Usagi didn't know how Setsuna had done it but… what if she had done it before? The Senshi pursued justice. Damn them if Pluto would prevent it… and... damn Crystal Tokyo if necessary.
Mercury, who had been running directly behind her princess, felt something, beneath her feet. It was a stone which sunk down when her foot landed on it, causing her to trip. She slammed her face into a stone tile and let out a tight yelp, while listening to the sound of the stone grinding against the other stones as it sunk further into the floor, activating what was no doubt, a trap.
"Mercury?" Moon asked, stopping quickly.
Ranma, who had been behind all the Senshi with Akane, slowed beside her.
"Hey… are you ok?" Ranma asked.
Ranma had no time to receive an answer. Beams of blue light began flying out of the end of the corridor at the Senshi, Ranma, and Akane. Each one possessed a small portion of light emission, shining against the grey walls of the hall. The lighting made the torch-lined walls appear blue and mystical and the darkened end of the hall seemed mysterious and shimmering in it's darkness. It would have been very beautiful if not for the damaging effects.
Moon dodged to the left and stood against the wall as close to it as she could get. Her daughter from the future, Usa, however, didn't get so lucky. Fortunately these beams seemed to only stun their victims. Ranma immediately took Akane with him to the floor, safe from the blue thin bars of light.
Venus and Mars, who had been running in front, just behind Moon, were hit as well, while Neptune, Saturn, and Jupiter all managed to dodge the oncoming blasts.
After what seemed like hours of fire, the beams finally subsided. Ranma looked up to see Usa, Venus, and Mars, fallen on the floor, unconscious.
Moon immediately took to the floor by Usa's side. She felt for a pulse and found it beating quite rapidly. Letting out an immense sigh of relief, she stood.
"They're fine, just unconscious, but we can't wait." Moon said. "Neptune. Stay with them and make sure they get better. And avoid those traps if you can. When they wake, try to catch up. The rest of you, come on." Moon commanded.
Ranma and Akane nodded to each other quickly, and then stood and ran right behind Moon.
The group, still stunned at their leader's newfound role in the actual act of leadership, reacted to this as best they could. Mercury scrambled to her feet, rubbing her bruised forehead from her fall earlier, and began running after her speeding princess.
The rest followed shortly thereafter, leaving the fallen behind with Neptune.
ran faster. Her anger was growing with every step. Along with memories.
They seeped in slowly, and quickly. Helpful memories to aid in her
defeat of Pluto. The castle's plans. Strategy. Tactics. Memories.
Pluto would be removed of her position. Then, Setsuna would be left to Ranma. If Ranma's punishment was her death, then death she would receive. Usagi was new to the cruel truth of her leadership position. It may be necessary, but she didn't have to like it.
Days… weeks… months. It seemed they had been doing nothing but running forever. Forty seven floors? No it was not. Hundreds to five hundreds at least could have been more accurate. Or at least seemed a more accurate number.
"Were almost to the top!" Mercury shouted. "It seems to be about five floors up!"
Without warning, a blaring alarm went off. Directly after that a gigantic slab of concrete and metal slammed down in front of them, making a new wall, blocking their path. Turning around, another one slid down from the ceiling, trapping them within the newly made twenty by eight foot room.
"Grrr," Moon growled. "Does Pluto think this will stop us?" she exclaimed to no one in particular.
So fast they were seeping into her. It seemed almost evil how quickly she was collecting and retaining information and memories from her past self. Everything seemed to be fitting into place. How to get directly to Pluto in her uppermost chambers. The traps. Everything needed to attain victory was saturating her mind.
It was perfect. Almost… too perfect. Usagi worried about her own mind being tampered with by some outside force… perhaps that shadowed hand had something to do with it? But… was it on their side? If it was the one giving her so many memories then why had it felt the need to terrify them with that frightening voice?
She placed her hand on the stone wall, that now appeared to be closing in on her, seeking with her mind she found it. A point of destruction in the stone.
She opened her eyes.
The eruption of the wall blasting in to tiny little rocks, made all present in the room jump. Even Ranma was a little agitated by, if not by the explosion, then by the shrapnel and dust that flew towards him.
Moon's Senshi stared at her, gawking, wondering how in the hell their princess had pulled that one off.
"Come on! There is no time to be gawking. Let's go." She said in a very commanding tone. "Mercury. Next turn?"
"I-It's left, princess." Mercury stuttered.
Moon ran down the corridor and her Senshi followed her.
As they ran once again, Ranma struck up another conversation with Akane. "Akane… can you tell me about… Keika?" Akane smiled, even though her breath was ragged a her voice was hoarse from all the running. It amazed her how none of the Senshi seemed to be even winded. What they lacked in ability and skill they seemed to make up for in sheer stamina.
"She's the most… beautiful baby… in the world, Ranma. Heh. Her hair is… coming in. It's…. bright red like your is." Akane replied through repeated gasps for air.
Ranma smiled. "I can't wait to see her. I can't wait for this to all be over. It's… all I've ever wanted. I've… been waiting for my revenge for so long now that I never thought about what I would do after it. I want it to be with you, Akane-chan. With you, and with her."
A small tear came to Akane's eye. It had been all she'd ever wanted. To be with Ranma. Run the dojo and perhaps raise a kid. Finally, after all this. Deception. Betrayal. False memories and kidnappings. Perhaps finally she could get the peace she was entitled to.
"Come on, Ranma. We'll have our revenge." Akane replied. "Let's get our baby back."
Akane sped up with a second wind.
"Right!" Mercury yelled.
Moon turned right and they continued onward.
Suddenly, Moon stopped.
The scream that resonated through the stone of the castle, echoing through their ears and reverberating against their eardrums, was one of pure terror. Unadulterated horror beyond imagining. Ranma was familiar with such screams. He had given them himself during his eighteen thousand year isolation. And then again when Machin was transformed into the Black Wind.
This scream, was filled with more horror than even his own had been then. It was not a hard voice to place either. It was Sailor Pluto.
They weren't sure of what it was, but they could be certain of one thing. Sailor Pluto was terrified. Something had happened to her and she was by no means in a good mood.
Another scream ripped through their hearts, curdling their blood and making them shiver. Goose bumps rose on Akane's skin as she fought of the urge to flee from the scream alone.
Moon was cold faced. "Something is wrong here. I'll bet my ice cream for the next month that it has something to do with that hand of black smoke."
Jupiter thought for a moment. Usagi had been acting odd ever since Ranma had appeared. It had been getting worse and worse as they kept going. Her voice becoming colder. Filled with malice for Pluto, replacing the happiness she usually held. This comment from Usagi calmed Jupiter a little. But not enough, due to it's seriousness. Usagi had never been so serious before.
Another scream. This one so loud that it made the torches in the hall way quiver and waver in their lighting, threatening to falter out of fire. It seemed as if the entire castle shook with the same sorrow of Sailor Pluto.
"I don't like this…" Saturn muttered warily.
"M… me n-neither…" Mercury replied, visibly shaken. Something that could make Setsuna Meiou scream like that was nothing she wanted any business with.
Akane shivered herself and walked toward Ranma, who automatically wrapped his arms around her.
"Lets keep going. I want out of here as soon as possible." Moon said, still in her commanding tone. She ran off in the direction they had been traveling again but was stopped at the shout of one of her Senshi.
"Wait!" Jupiter shouted. "Usagi? What is going on with you?"
Usagi sighed in exasperation. "Must I explain now, Jupiter? Setsuna is terrified of something. The perfect time to strike would be now when her guard is down."
"That's what's bothering me! Your… knowledge! I understand a few upstanding changes here and there, but you've never been so… cold. So serious. How are you Usagi? You aren't the bright, happy… meatball head we all know!" Jupiter shouted at her princess.
Usagi sighed again. "I've been receiving memories from my past self. I've been getting them faster and faster as of late and now it seems like they are being crammed into my head. It's so much information… I… I'm sorry… Jupiter. I have to be serious, because this is serious. We all grow up sometime. I was just forced to a lot faster. I'm still the same Usagi. Just older. Now come on. There's still work to be done."
Ranma glanced at Akane questioningly as a fourth scream emanated around the castle. Akane shrugged, just as confused as he was. What was going on? Hmph. Apparently it wasn't too important because the leader of the Senshi was running off again, Mercury and Jupiter close behind.
They followed after quickly, running yet again.
Pluto's screaming choked away as her voice became hoarse. How? How could this have happened? Everything depended on the gates of time… She had never been without them… Never! Nothing should have been able to destroy them… They were made of the ancient cuillendar! So… how..? And why?
The gates lay before her, mangled and destroyed. Crushed by a multitude of power. Rubble lay about the mist covered room in which the gates resided. The former glory of the room resided no longer. It would never again hold the gates of time.
Pluto was destroyed. Defeated utterly. She sat on her knees, now sobbing into her hands. Without the gates… she was nothing… without the gates… she was…
No. There could only be one responsible for this. Ranma. It MUST have been Ranma. For who else could know? Who else had anywhere near the power, or time to harness it?
Ranma would pay. She would make sure of it as… it was all she could do. With Ranma's death, would follow her own.
Setsuna wiped her eyes, clearing them of the tears and wetness. She waited until she was certain that her eyes held no glimmer of the red of crying. She stood, solemn and determined, and walked forth to face her enemy.
She slammed through the doors to her personal quarters. Fire raged within ever fiber of her being. All her thousands of years of effort. All her time spent seeking the ever illusive Crystal Tokyo of her dreams. All destroyed in one fell swoop.
She would kill him. Kill them all! No… she would do worse then kill them. Balefire would rip their very existence from the pages of time. They would be destroyed forever… she no longer held her quest for Crystal Tokyo. Now, all she wanted, was vengeance. She blasted the doors from their hinges and walked down the flight of stairs. They would all die.
She forgot Keika.
Treading the corridors had become far more dangerous. The Senshi had encountered a few more traps, such as flamethrowers, a few more volleys of blue light beams, and another closed wall.
Moon had handled almost every one of these by herself, disabling the traps as quickly as possible, surprising her Senshi even more.
They had made it to the third floor from the top. Now the torches were no longer lit. It was dark and cold, and damp, and the gloomy stone walls weighed heavily upon them all, covering them in a gloomy sense of dread. The screams that had been echoing earlier were still fresh on their memory.
Ranma was accustomed to this. Darkness had been his home. Gloom had been his life for longer than he could possibly remember. He held no fear, and if possible he was more comfortable now than he had been outside the castle.
Moon was running full speed when they heard it. The sound of the attack most of the Senshi had been dreading when they first came here.
The cold, cynical way the spell was cast did not go unnoticed. Moon dodged to the right of the blast leaving it to fly back behind her and slam into one Ranma Saotome.
Ranma grunted as he was thrown back. He did not lose his footing, however, he was slightly burned on his front side.
Pluto stood clad in her Senshi garments. Her black fuku flayed wildly about as she walked down the steps leading to the next level. She held the key to the gates of time menacingly with both hands. Her eyes were burning with hatred and anger of thousands of years of repressed emotion breaking forth.
"Pluto! Setsuna! What have you done?" Moon exclaimed. "Why have you caused all of this misery?"
Moon now stood along the left side of the narrow corridor, holding the wall. She was standing straight and erect, anger enhancing all of her features. "Why-?"
Setsuna strode forward in one great bound and landed right beside Sailor Moon. She grabbed Usagi's arm with her free right one while holding the staff in the left. Moving faster than Usagi could hope to compete with, Setsuna bent and broke her arm instantly, snapping the bones and bending her biceps in a way that should not have even been possible.
Usagi screamed as she fell to the floor writhing over her arm. She grabbed her right arm, with her still useable left, but Pluto was not done. She took the time key in both hands and brought it down against sailor Moon's exposed left arm and broke the opposite arm viciously.
The scream Usagi released could be compared only to her previous one.
Pluto bent down and spoke to the twitching and writhing Usagi. "I have no words for you." she said coldly. "My fate is to kill him." Not once did Pluto's eyes look at Moon. The whole time, they stared at Ranma.
Usagi winced at her words. She hissed in anger at Pluto and said. "You can't… rrr… win, Setsuna, Meiou."
Setsuna smiled garishly and spared Usagi a glance. "There is no winning for me... Only death."
The other Senshi stared in shock at the scene before them. Pluto was attacking the princess. Scratch that. Pluto had attacked and defeated the princess.
Akane was faster on the pick up. "Where's my daughter you sadistic monster?" She screamed as she flew forward towards the green haired girl. Ranma, still stunned from the Dead Scream, finally managed to comprehend the situation. "Akane! No stop!"
Pluto ducked under Akane's punch and brought her back leg up, catching the frenzied girl with a kick to her abdomen. Akane's eyes bulged and she was sent flying from Pluto, landing a few feet away, on her back on the cold, stone floor.
She wobbled slowly to a sitting position, staring at the woman walking towards her.
"You… You were a part of it too. If it weren't for that damn baby of yours, none of this would have happened… My memory block would have worked perfectly, and you would never have been able to question."
Akane smiled and replied tartly through a wince at the pain in her back, "Heh… guess you're not too tough… can't even… ahh… take out a little baby."
Pluto's grin turned sadistic. "Your baby will be the last to die."
Akane's face turned white. "Where is she?" she demanded, her voice as cold as her chilled blood.
Pluto did not answer, because at that moment, the rest of the Senshi finally collected their wits. While mercury knelt by Usagi, trying to calm her, Jupiter and Saturn stood firmly and loosed their attacks.
"Silence Glaive, Surprise"
"Jupiter Oak Revolution!"
Pluto dodged Sailor Saturn's attack with ease, but was unable to match the speed delivered by Jupiter's green baubles of power. They blasted her repeatedly, slamming into her and exploding on contact, throwing her across the room. She landed on the staircase to the next floor, four steps up.
Suddenly, the blast Pluto had feared sliced through her.
She didn't even feel it. It wasn't painful. It was just… saddening. Her life flashed by her. She looked down, and saw it happen again. The blue beam of pure, confident ki that ripped through her heart.
It was over.
She was finished… how weak. How pathetic! Twenty thousand years and this was what she had to show for it? Instant death? She was better than that… she should have been better then that.
But… she wasn't…
Her eyes widened as she looked down. There he stood. Ranma Saotome. The slayer of gods, and the only person she knew that was near her own age. His hand was outstretched, having just loosed his killing beam. Here it would end.
"Come on, Akane. Let's find Keika." Ranma said as he offered his hand to the fallen girl.
Akane nodded quickly and took his hand. She stood but faltered. Held for a moment by Ranma alone, she was then picked up and cradled in his arms.
Akane growled a little, but didn't complain. There was still a more important matter than her pride at the moment. Ranma ran up the stairs and flew forward as fast as he could. He had a daughter to meet.
Hotaru knelt down beside Usagi.
"Are you alright, Usagi?" She asked concernedly as she placed her hands on Moon. Her magic flowed through into Usagi, healing her partially. Hotaru could only do so much. Her healing re-aligned Usagi's arm. Usagi had finally stopped writhing. Her arms were in place, mostly. Her right arm looked to still be twisted, and Hotaru looked much the worse for wear. "Thank you, Saturn." Usagi said calmly, as her Senshi helped her to her feet. "Alright."
Usagi stared at Pluto. She was not dead yet. She simply lay, broken. What kept her alive, Usagi couldn't' tell. Where her heart should be was a hole and blood splattering everywhere.
"Hmm… it's time. I won't kill her, but she isn't worthy of Pluto's mantle." She sighed.
She stumbled over to the woman, leaving her Senshi standing where she had been earlier. In a few moments she hovered over the half-conscious Pluto, and placed her hand to her forehead.
"I Queen Serenity, do hereby and forthwith, withdraw your status as Senshi of the Planet Pluto. May the power you once possessed go to hands better suited than your own. May your soul not be damned through your death." Usagi said, somberly.
Similar to her removal of Uranus, a small light, colored black as the fuku that Setsuna no longer wore, withdrew from the green-haired woman and was held for a moment in Usagi's hands.
"Find one suited for this position. May she be better than Setsuna." Usagi said to the light. It zipped off in search, seeking one worthy of it's power, intending to bless them with the power of Pluto.
Usagi returned her gaze to Setsuna. If anything she looked even worse than before. Her clothing was a simple sweater and long pants, having replaced the fuku she had been wearing. The left chest area was already stained with her blood. She looked away quickly. The stench of drying blood had begun to fill the small corridor.
"Come on. We'll find Ranma and Akane. I want to see this baby." Usagi said, her eyes lighting up with life.
Usagi's mood had brightened considerably in light of another completed battle. She just hoped she had made all the right choices.
She picked up the time key that lay in Pluto's hands. It slipped out of them easily, and Setsuna did not make the smallest effort to hold onto the key-like staff. "Come on." Usagi said again. With that, she and the Senshi continued upstairs after Ranma and Akane, following as quickly as possible.
"Keika!" Akane shouted as she grabbed the tiny babe from the cage she had been held within and held her close to her chest in the most loving way she possibly could. "Keika, oh my little Keika. I'm so glad… so…" Tears came to Akane's eyes threatening to overflow. The woman did managed to refrain from outright bawling in front of her fiancée, however, at least two tears found their way onto the tiny shirt Keika wore.
Ranma, who had just set Akane down beside the tiny child, looked on at the small creature in his fiancée's arms, apprehensively. Akane almost completely ignored him at the moment, though based on all his viewings of mothers during his years, he had perfect understanding as to why. A mother's connection to their daughter was priceless. At least in his eyes. Ranma finally had his revenge. He honestly did not want to see his daughter at the moment. He would prefer to go to the dying Pluto to finish the end of Pluto's demise. It was while he was thinking this that Akane turned to face him.
"Ranma…" Akane said nervously. "This is… your daughter, Keika"
The little girl in Akane's arms was adorable. That itself was enhanced by knowing that it was his own. He had seen many children, and wanted one of his own once. During his incarceration, he had wanted everything to do with people, so it hadn't been quite as important as it was now, though.
But to actually have one of his own… after all this time…
He bit his lip, and gulped audibly as Akane offered him the small child. "You gotta hold her head, Ranma." Akane said as she handed the girl to him.
"I… I know." Ranma said. He accepted the small bundle cautiously, holding her in the same way that he had seen people in the mirror do hundreds of times before. Now doing it himself for the first time, he felt a wave of emotion. Elated and joyous emotion.
That in itself was nothing next to the moment he looked into his daughter's eyes. In that one small moment of clarity, a new goal in his life sprang up. To be the best father a man could be. He vaguely remembered his own father. For the most part he remembered an honorable man… but Ranma knew he could be better. Far better.
"Geyha ha!" The little girl laughed, happily. She smiled at him in that delirious, innocent way only small children can. "Hey!" Ranma heard the voice from behind him. He tensed momentarily but turned around quickly and saw Sailor Moon with her three currently remaining Senshi, that is Saturn, Mercury, and Jupiter.
Moon arrived beside Ranma and Akane, but could think of nothing to say. She looked at the small child happily.
There was an awkward moment of silence. Ranma never took his eyes of Keika, but Akane looked over the Senshi sternly. After a moment she sighed.
"Thank you, Sailor Moon. Perhaps you guys aren't as bad as I thought." Akane said in the happiest tone the Moon had ever seen her in, which really wasn't saying much. Usagi had only seen Akane angry or determined. To normal people, this would have been… content.
"Course' not! I was just hoping you'd forgive us!" Usagi said, in a lighter tone which Ranma had seen on the girl only in his book. Actually, it wasn't nearly as light as that had been. Usagi still seemed quite wary.
"Well you seem awfully cheerful." Akane said with a scowl, almost annoyed.
Usagi winked at her jokingly and said, "I always am when I'm done saving the world. Or something similar."
Akane chuckled a little. "Heh, I don't think you two are so bad yourself. I'd really like to learn how you did that beam thing Ranma." Usagi said. Ranma glanced up from Keika to look at the blonde girl, who had previously been entirely serious, but now seemed to be somewhat of an egghead. "No… no I don't think you would like to learn that beam… to condense that much energy into such a small beam took me three hundred years." He said plainly. "But… I'm glad I did."
Usagi's face contorted for a moment, confused by his odd comment. Then she shrugged and let it go. While she thought about it, her musings were interrupted by the approach of her Senshi.
"She's adorable!" Saturn exclaimed, looking at the small child. "C-can I hold her..?"
"No. Sorry… but… I… I'm not able to pass her around so easy at the moment… Heh, I don't even think I'd let daddy touch her now that I have her back." Akane said, taking her from Ranma swiftly.
"Eh, I understand. Heh, sorry." Saturn replied, nervously.
"Don't worry about it… maybe on a better day." Akane said. "So… what will you do now?"
Usagi was glad for this feeling that had overcome her. Now that the danger was past it seemed difficult for her to not slip back into her childish ways. But she knew she wasn't safe yet."… Lets worry about getting out of here before that… But… when we get out of here… I want some ice cream and some sleep." Usagi said, still keeping a watchful eye on the walls. "I second that." Jupiter said.
"Here, here." Mercury cheered.
"Wait." Ranma said, not taking his lovelorn eyes from Keika. "What did you do with Pluto?"
Moon turned somber again in her tone. She sighed before replying, "We left her on the stairs. I took her powers from her and her key to the Gates of Time. She'll never touch them again… but I can't k-kill her. If you want her dead… well that's up to you to finish. She's yours as far as I'm concerned."
"Then…" Ranma sighed as if he were losing the firmness held in his resolve earlier. "She's gotta die."
"Moon?" Ami questioned. She had been standing off to the side, pondering about many things and finally decided to ask one.
"Yeah, Mercury?" Usagi replied patiently.
"What happened to make Setsuna scream earlier? Do you have any idea?" Ami asked curiously. It had been on her mind ever since it had first begun. If something could make Setsuna scream like that then… perhaps even Setsuna was being manipulated. "There is no winning for me… only death." had been her somber words from before. Was she being controlled, perhaps? Perhaps they meant something more?
"Yeah, and one more thing, meatball-head. What about the other Senshi? Where are they?" Jupiter asked impatiently.
"They're on their way by now I'm sure. Those stun beams didn't look like they hurt any of them too terribly much." Usagi said plainly.
A cold chill crawled up Ranma's spine.
"Something is wrong." He said warily.
Akane looked at him, questioningly. "Ranma?" She asked, wondering what was bothering him.
Ranma's danger sense had not been used in quite some time. The last time he could remember it being used unconsciously was when a trolloc had attacked him at Tarwin's Gap. Now it was raging letting off signals of danger in the foreseeable future.
"Something's wrong. I don't think Pluto is dead." He said.
With those words came a scream. And it was one that turned Usagi's blood to pure ice. Frozen into her spot with anger and fear for what could have just happened, Usagi stood, petrified as Hotaru uttered one word.
"I-I've failed. everything… so wrong… I…." The rampant mind of Setsuna thought sadly. Tears flowed from Setsuna's amber eyes, wetting the sides of her cheeks. She touched the hole where her heart should have been and felt blood. Sense fled her. Dread filled her. Darkness consumed her. Her eyes threatened to close.
It was a chilling voice. The same voice Akane and the Senshi had heard earlier when the hand of dark smoke had appeared. The voice that filled Pluto's dreams with dread.
"NO." It repeated. The sound burned her eardrums, scarring them, not with pain, but with ecstasy beyond imagining.
The dark hand materialized out of thin air and clamped itself to the visage of Sailor Pluto. Enshrouding her in Shadow.
The shadows melded with the body of Pluto. They flowed within her, coursing through her veins, healing her and reviving her. "What… is this…?" She thought.
Pluto felt it. Feeling itself flowed back into her abused veins first. And the first thing she felt was sickening. A heart beat entered her ears and she realized that it was her own. A sloshing sound. Blood erupted form the hole in her chest, spurted from her reforming heart. She felt it circulate around her body, restoring her temporarily dead cells. Respiration returned. More blood, this time in her throat, dribbling over the sides of her mouth. Another heartbeat.
More blood. Some dribbled down her chest, melding with the material of her shirt, while more rose in her esophagus. She coughed and spluttered. Her voice returned and her vision faded in. She spit the revolting taste out of her mouth. Heartbeat, though this time, no blood leaked onto her shirt.
"What is this? Setsuna repeated, now more revived. Her sense returning, she felt disgusted. She tore off the shirt, only to find that there was no hole… Blood covered her entire chest, but there was no trace of the death-bringing slice in her body.
She received no answer to her question. At least, none in the form of words. Her access to the female half of the one power boosted to an untold level of power. And she felt something else. Something… greater. "MY NAE BLIS…" The words resounded in her ears but no longer held the pain. Pure, unadulterated, pleasure burned through her at the words. It was as if her entire body had become encased in the greatest of massages, leaving nothing but wave after wave of this great feeling. Who was this? What did he want? Most importantly, why was she still alive?
"W-who are you?" Pluto asked through the pleasure that was only now subsiding.
"THE GREAT LORD." The voice said.
Pluto looked around warily. She stood, wobbly and unsteadily. "I've seen many great lords before. None could raise the near-dead to such a pristine state… Where are you? Show yourself!"
"WE WILL MEET AGAIN SOON, MY NAE BLISS."
Pluto screamed at the agonizing ecstasy of the voice exploding in her ears.
"W-wait! Who are you!" Pluto demanded to the air around her again.
"Damn!" Pluto cursed. She looked at her clothing and found that she still wore her simple sweater and pants. She was no longer the Senshi of Time. She probably never would be again either.
off. She felt… stronger. Faster and more powerful than she had ever
been. And something behind her lay resting… Something similar to
Saidar. What was it? What… was it?
She reached forth with her mind to grab the unknown and was blasted by the effects. It was burning! Pain beyond pain and fire beyond comprehension! Felicity to the point of pure, jovial intoxication. The pain of this… True Power flooded the cells of her veins, enshrouding them in hellfire and enforcing them with power the likes of which she had never felt before.
"This is… amazing!" Pluto said. With her mind, she felt a cord. It stretched long and far from her. Far beyond here and far beyond now. What it connected to, she did not know. But it was strong. Strong enough.. To give her revenge. Ranma Saotome and Usagi Tsukino, would still die this day.
"Come on! We gotta catch up!" A voice called. Pluto recognized it instantly. Chibi-Usa. The little girl from the future. She still lived? Odd. But not impossible. Without Pluto or the gates of time, any possibility could occur. How the pink-haired brat had survived was unknown to Pluto but… not completely impossible.
She came into Pluto's sight prompting Pluto to break for the darkened areas to gain the element of surprise, hiding in the darkened areas of the corridor, behind the stone steps.
They were running, quite obviously. Chibi-Usa was in the lead. She wasn't nearly as smart as her mother, obviously; at least not anymore. She was only eight years old. She had no care… no alertness like her mother had as she charged through the halls.
…And Pluto would not show mercy.
Chibi-Usa ran for the stairs completely missing all sight of Pluto. As she ran up the stairs, Pluto rose and grabbed the tiny girl's arm. Before Usa could even figure out what happened, she was hurled around by Setsuna, and flung into the following Sailor Mars.
She screeched as her left arm was dislocated during the throw, causing a high pitched echo to shatter the silence of the castle.
"Damn." Pluto muttered, knowing that this would bring Ranma. The one who could beat her. It had been proven. But this new power…
"Pluto!" Neptune exclaimed.
"It's Setsuna." Pluto replied maliciously. Working by instinct, she took the great power burning within her and melded it with the force of air and earth. Small pieces of stone flowed to her hand and burst into flame before the Senshi's eyes.
"W-what… Plu…Pluto!" Mars said
The only reply Setsuna provided was… "I said… it's Setsuna." Then, with that, the fireball was flung from her hand like a baseball. Fortunately, Neptune thought quickly. "Submarine Reflection!" Holding her mirror, Neptune blasted a water-based energy blast from it at Setsuna's fireball and dissipated it.
"So it's true." Neptune said confidently. "You have become evil. Or have you always been evil, Setsuna?"
"Hmph. As if you'd understand, child." Setsuna said harshly. Confidently, she drew in more of this great power which infused her with life and energy. She could feel the presence of that voice within this power. That voice that had frightened her so long ago. That voice was the source. The great lord, he had called himself. It was true. Power, similar to Saidar, yet unimaginably stronger. She used air and water to conjure her favorite type of attack. Lightning.
"Kidnapping a child that small? Who knew you could sink so low." Neptune said, stepping in front of Usa and Mars.
Mars stooped beside Usa. She lay on the ground, her teeth gnawing on her lips as she barely held back screams from the pain of her arm's dislocation.
"It's time to end this little debate. You should have followed me. Instead… you chose to die." Setsuna said. A smile crossed her lips.
Lightning blasted through the roof, ripping away the castle ceiling, exposing the blackened, starlit sky. The masonry crashed down towards the stone floor clanging on the bottom of the old palace corridor. One crushed Mars's arm causing her to let out a yelp. She yanked her arm out from its place between the rock and the stone floor and looked up to stare in shock at the sight before her.
Neptune was only struck for a moment by the bolt, but that was more than enough. Volts of electricity flashed through her body and destroyed her. She did not get the chance to scream. Her death came far too quickly. She careened away, slamming into the far wall, and then dropping to the floor in a lifeless heap.
"Neptune!… Neptune!" Venus screamed.
Venus turned and ran to the fallen body of Neptune, and fell around her, hugging the lifeless form.. Mars, or Rei, stared back at Neptune's body. Her clothes had faded and now where once had been a Senshi, now lay Michiru Kaioh. The great violinist.
Rei turned back to Pluto. Preparing to fight herself, leaving Usa, and standing, she did not expect the fireball that blasted her way. She dodged to the right, barely and turned to see another rocketing towards her.
"Duck Mars!" Usa shouted.
Mars dodged again.
Her attack took a mere moment. She fired it as fast as she could. "Mars Flame Sniper!"
"Mars Flame Sniper!"
The speeding flame bullet slammed Setsuna in the abdomen, but, unfortunately, the blast dissipated, only having caused minor damage to Setsuna, similar to a punch in the gut.
"What the hell?" Mars cried, perplexed. "That should've ripped a hole in you!"
Setsuna was a bit confused herself though her face didn't show it. That should have ripped a hole in her. But it didn't. This power she had received had fortified her. Her strength was incredible. If it was enough to stand up to the attack of Mars unscathed… maybe… just maybe, Ranma truly would fall today.
Setsuna smiled the first genuine smile of happiness in months. True, it was more of a twisted happiness, but it was happiness nonetheless. She gathered the lightning again. It flowed through the sky and she felt it ready to blast down upon her victims.
"Venus Love Me Chain, Encircle!"
Venus cried the attack words from her position at Michiru's side hastily.
"Pluto summoned the energy for the lightning bolts, that had proven themselves a surefire way to kill. Ignoring the chain that encircled her, she readied them and took aim. Soon, the chain wouldn't be a problem. With it's caster dead, there would be no chain."
Mars was angry. Neptune was dead. Dead! Murdered in cold blood by that heartless… vile…
The words flared inside her. The rose from her throat and the sheer thrill of the new attack forming on her tongue enveloped her.
She spun creating a swirl of red lights. Above her, a red sphere of crimson of light winked into existence. flashing with blazing yellows and oranges streaking up and down the tiny sun. The spell, beginning with the low thrum of a crackling fire, slowly began a crescendo, increasing in it's tempo and volume, as the ball expanded. The crackling of the flames became all that Mars could hear as the crimson star grew to monstrous proportions, searing off more of Pluto's already broken walls.
Stretching out her arms, Mars raised herself into the air with the forces of her planetary magic, placing the burning bomb between herself and Pluto.
Pluto watched in amazement as the inferno of heat was sent in line with her. She had never seen such an attack from Mars, even in the past. She could feel the flares from the burning ball grabbing her skin, making her break out in a horrid sweat as the room temperature rose.
It blasted forward from mars without warning, slamming into her. It imploded, causing a blinding white light and a reverberating, thunderous roar. The light lasted forever it seemed.
When it finally subsided, Mars floated in mid air, holding a red dome-like barrier against the explosion, shielding them from the mini nuke she had just loosed on Pluto.
The floor was ripped away as was much of the ceiling. The stairs no longer existed and the night sky was lit with an ever present starlight.
Setsuna stood back across the gap between the floors, holding her arms crossed about her stomach and smirking. "Nice try. Mars. Now take mine." She said calmly.
Mars was lucky. The lighting bolt that came down, was halted by the shield she held up, unconsciously. Venus was not. Another hole was ripped in the now horribly ruined ceiling of Pluto's Castle. Venus didn't have the time to scream either. Her body was burned to a crisp and her eyes closed before she felt a thing.
"Noo!" Usa screamed. She stood and made her way, tripping and stumbling slowly to the crumpled form of Venus, or now Minako, who lay next to Michiru.
"No! You can't do this, damn it!" Mars exclaimed. "How many times are we going to die? How many times do the Senshi have to die to attain peace! Damn you Setsuna!" Mars screamed.
"Save your whining." Setsuna replied haughtily.
To Pluto's astonishment, at the top of the next floor, looking down into the exposed floor below stood Usagi. "Damn. I knew I should've watched you!" Jolting her head towards the young princess, Setsuna mocked, "Bad move, princess… You're nothing next to Serenity. And you never will be."
Usagi boiled. She looked over and noticed the dead forms of two of her Senshi. Her white wings rustled and she lifted herself into the air with them.
"Damn you…" She muttered. Inwardly, Usagi was very relieved when she arrived and saw Usa. But Setsuna again stood, fighting and two of her Senshi lay dead. Again she was left with dead friends to save. Perhaps this would be the last time she was forced to try to bring her friends to life.
Another lightning blast busted the roof flying to destroy Usagi. It was stopped however by a barrier that became visible as the lightning struck it and disappeared. "You won't beat me, Setsuna! Not this time!" She exclaimed angrily.
"Spare me." Setsuna replied. She jumped over the divide towards Eternal Sailor Moon and made a grab for Usagi's arm, intending to break it again. She was surprised at Moons quick dodge backwards.
"You run now?" Setsuna exclaimed.
Usagi smirked and replied in her own haughty tone. "I prefer to call it strategy. Let'er rip, Ranma!" Usagi called.
Pluto saw it again. Ranma stood there, in his left hand was the baby Keika. His right hand was held outstretched, sending the beam straight for her. Too late. Too late! The blast moved towards her flying just like it had before. A straight beam of blue light, headed right for her heart.
Pluto didn't know how she did it. The power was there, just at her fingertips in an instant. She drew it and melded herself with it even more than she already had, bathing in the embrace of the power.
A great wall of black smoke sprung up in front of her and deflected the blast into and through another wall and out into the depths of space.
She smirked. She would win. And these children would die. Then she would regain her position as the Senshi of Time.
"Silence Glaive Surprise!"
Hotaru loosed the great blast of energy from her staff. This, unlike Ranma's compressed ki beam, was powerful enough to dissipate Setsuna's shield.
"Brat." The green haired lady exclaimed. A fireball collected in her hands and she hurled it straight at Hotaru. It smacked her in the side of the head, knocking her down into the dim world of unconsciousness. Her staff flung away from her, to the other side of the corridor they now resided in.
Ranma advanced lunging forward. Pluto didn't see his fist before it slammed into her face, sending her flying into the wall. All the while, in his left arm, lay the tiny baby, whose head was held also, by his left hand.
What surprised Pluto as she brought herself off the ground, was how little that punch had truly hurt. How much was this power reinforcing her? How much?
She ran towards him, and attacked fists flying and feet kicking him.
Ranma dodged rampantly, finding it difficult to avoid her punches and protect the baby at the same time.
Pluto realized Ranma's protection of the baby and suddenly, made an incredibly fast jab for his left arm.
Ranma moved the baby frantically. He ducked under her fist, turning away from the punch, leaving his arm, and the baby, close to the stone floor. This left Ranma wide open for her next attack. He found no way to dodge the incredibly fast fist screeching towards his face.
"Ranma!" Akane cried as she finally caught up to Ranma, who had been running far ahead. The other two Senshi, Mercury and Jupiter, were in tow, behind her. Then she noticed the small, fortunately alright but crying babe in Ranma's arms.
"KEIKA!" She screamed.
She rushed towards
Ranma and took the baby, checking it over quickly. She seemed fine. Not
a hair on her was harmed but she was probably massively dizzy. Far too
dizzy for a baby. Ranma looked at Akane. He was a little woozy but not
too harmed. It was incredible though. No punch should be able to hurt
him that much! No punch! How in the hell had she done that? He was
quite certain that Pluto had not practiced Martial Arts during her twenty thousand years so where the hell had she gotten that kind of strength?
"Here Ranma. Take care of her for a moment. I know you can." Akane whispered.
Ranma watched her stand, frozen in his spot, blood dribbling from his nose.
Akane exclaimed as she charged forward, an anger filled war cry expelling from her tired lungs. "It's over, Setsuna!" Mars shouted finally recovering from her tiresome last attack.
"Mars Flame Sniper!"
Her jet of red flame burst forth from her pointed fingers. Her new nova spell was completely useless in these conditions. It was too dangerous to everyone else.
Moon also stood readying an attack to fling at their enemy.
"Starlight Honeymoon Therapy Kiss!"
The light in her hands erupted above her sending beams of still more yellow light slicing towards the ex-Senshi of Pluto.
In a moment of odd, and sorely out of place humor, it came to Ranma's mind that… that was the most corny attack name he had ever heard in all his life. He looked up and saw his future bride rushing to meet his enemy.
Setsuna smiled, now fully confident in her newfound power. Another wall of shadowy might arose and defended her from the attacks flung at her, Akane herself included.
"Another down." Setsuna said tartly.
Yet another bolt, blasting apart another piece of the ceiling rained down from the skies.
This one… was aimed at Akane.
Ranma saw it coming. There was no way he could have done anything. "AKANE!"
"Huh?" She muttered turning around.
The lightning caressed her. For a moment she lit up in an electrified frenzy. Then the explosion. She flew across the room and into the wall, slamming to the ground… dead.
"Noooo!" Ranma bellowed. Pluto's eyes locked on him preparing for the greatest attack. But he didn't target her. He took Keika and ran towards Akane's broken body.
He reached it.
She wore no clothing. All of it had been burned off. Her eyes were wide open as was her mouth. Her hair was frazzled and all her joints were flexed tight. She seemed normal, just shocked.
He knelt down to her and felt her. He was shocked by touching her. He felt her face.
"A-Aka-Akane? Akane-chan? Ak-Akane-chan? Wake up! Wake up tomboy! Wake up… My love… Please wake up!" He begged the corpse.
It didn't move… It didn't stir.
"No… no…" He muttered. Tears fell from his eyes. Small at first and then flooding throughout his vision, clogging it with nothing but watery images of his love.
"No please… no! I just… I just found you! It can't… this can't happen… I love you…" Ranma's cries did nothing. Shaking her lifeless form did nothing. The battle raged on behind him. An explosion here. A scream there. It didn't matter to Ranma. He hugged the babe close to him. It burped, unaware of it's mother's… passing.
"Please my tomboy! Wake up! I can't live without you here! Wake up! Wake up!" He shouted.
It was to no avail.
Keika began to cry at his yells. It had been a wonder that she wasn't crying already what with the explosions in the background. Without warning, a shout from behind him wafted across his eardrum. He ignored it like the others but this one had significance. Water washed over him, changing his form to a female. She hardly noticed the transformation.
Ranma looked away. She was unable… incapable of bearing the thought of staring at her lifeless body for one more minute.
"Ra…n…ma…" She heard.
Her eyes snapped open. She looked at Akane. Her eyes were not open. Her hands did not move. Her lips did.
"Akane?" She exclaimed, trying to coax the Raven-haired girl back to life.
"T-take… care… of… Ke… Keika." Akane whispered.
"Akane… don't talk like that! Yo-you'll be fine! You'll see! You'll be better in no time! Come on… come…" Ranma said, shaking the girl. Pulse… None.
Ranma bit her lip, forcing herself not to cry but failing miserably. Why? Why should she be the one with so much pain? And, in her distress, her conclusion reached, she turned. It was time to end this, once and for all.
"Pluto!" she screamed.
Setsuna turned and faced her. The other Senshi seemed to all be down. Saturn sat in the corner of the room holding her Silence Wall erect, having just been saved from another barrage of fireballs by Ranma's scream.
Moon lay on the ground, her leg bent in a way that shouldn't have been possible. She appeared to be much better off then she had been last time though as far as dealing with the pain went. She was wincing, not yelling or writhing as before.
Jupiter and Mercury seemed to be in similar positions, though Jupiter seemed to be moving, slowly, to a standing position.
Usa was no where to be found. Last Ranma had seen her she had been a floor below, where the ground had been blasted out, near Neptune and Venus's dead bodies.
Mars lay unconscious next to the wall… or dead. Ranma didn't know, and at the moment… couldn't bring himself to care.
"Ha ha." Setsuna chuckled. "So.. Now it's just you… and me.. Who would have thought? Ha ha!"
would've sent you to hell last time I fought you, had I known it would
end like this." Ranma said coldly. For the first time since he had
received it he withdrew the blade attached to his back. "The Lady of
the Flame's was my title. My "Flare Dancer" will destroy you"
Ranma blazed forth. She knew how to use a sword. She'd done so before and seen it done so, so many times.
As the millisecond passed she got closer… closer… five steps, two one…
Usagi lay on the ground crumpled. Broken and defeated. Her wings had been ripped out and her body had been mangled, more by Pluto's fists than anything. But she remained conscious. She had one trick left. It wasn't a trick. It was a memory. It was the truth. A perfect punishment.
Knowledge was the key. Another key which she had at the moment, was also the key.
They could not defeat Setsuna now. That much was obvious. All of them were down and Pluto was standing firm facing… someone. She couldn't see. Her neck couldn't bend that way at the moment. Her only target, was Pluto.
Pluto had two ways to send people to other dimension's. One was to open portals with her own magic.
The other… was to use the key of time and blast a person into one of the pocket dimensions. Thanks to her newfound memories, Usagi knew how to do this… she knew perfectly how to do it.
Moon lifted the time key. From her position on the ground Setsuna didn't notice her move. Her attention was focused on something.
"Time Dissever Continuum!" She said holding the staff.
One final beam of light flashed forward. It was a wide beam of darkened harsh light, but it caught Pluto entirely unawares. Suddenly a girl holding a sword jumped into the beam with Pluto.
And both of them were gone.
Sailor Eternal Moon fainted, and again became Usagi Tsukino.
"No! No No! I want out! Let me out! No! I can't take it again! I can't do it! No! Please no! no! Let me out!" Ranma screamed.
No one heard her. No one even knew she existed.
The world of darkness she resided in was her home again.
She pulled out the embers that had lit her way in the ways, and the Book, that had kept her alive for so long. Light shone about the darkened room from the book and the magically enhanced coals.
Keika lay in her arms, crying, most likely due to Ranma's yelling at the darkness.
Setsuna was gone. Where she was, Ranma didn't know. But Setsuna was gone. That, for now, was all that mattered. Ranma would carry out Akane's last wish. Ranma would be the best father in the world…
If only she could remember how she had escaped this place… two thousand years ago…
Ranma broke down into uncaring sobs. Hugging the little girl, thinking again of her beloved's death.
Setsuna was alone. It was dark and she was cold. She had been here for a long time. Was she dead? No… she wouldn't feel hungry and thirsty if she were dead. Or wait… what if hell's torture was that one kept their hunger and thirst but never died of it?
No… surely not.
But if so… then where was she? Darkness. Something had hit her. A beam of some sort had warped her to this black world of nothing. It was almost like.
"The key!" Setsuna exclaimed. Finally she had realized what had happened.
"Moon used the key! She sent me to a pocket dimension! That… that little… damn… smart. She is her mother's daughter. She received the memories of how to do it… and she did it. And now I'll die of starvation… without my powers, I can't go without food…
"I commend you, Eternal Sailor Moon." Setsuna said to herself. "You are more cunning than your appearance makes you seem."
Hours passed. Days maybe? No… humans can't go days without water.
Her lips were dry. Her skin was parched.
And then she heard it. The one thing she had been depending on.
"MY NAE BLIS… I HAVE COME FOR YOU."
Setsuna laughed in ecstasy. A savior. She didn't care who it was. If it had been the devil himself offering her escape she would have taken it.
"Come on Keika! I don't know what to do for you here! Ahh… what do I do?" Ranma exclaimed to the crying child.
Keika had been withering. No food. Ranma's pack was empty. Keika had eaten whatever small bits and pieces of food that had been in it already. The poor girl was starving! Ranma had to escape. Something had to happen!
What could it be? What could he do! Damn.
"Damn, damn, damn!" Ranma thought desperately. "Oh, Keika.. I can't lose you too. I can't lose my little girl too!"
A short time later Keika had stopped crying. By then, Ranma had given up all hope. She prayed now to Kami for a miracle. To the creator to bring down the light and illumine her. She prayed to every deity she could think of.
And her prayers, for the first time in thousands of years, were answered.
A black globule of light, barely visible amongst the darkness, popped into existence.
"What the?" Ranma asked no one in particular as he noticed it.
It floated around momentarily but then it stopped, hovering right over Keika.
There was an audible pop in which the light blinked out. A black pen, with small black wings on it and a black marble at the top, fell out as the light popped and landed on Ranma's little daughter's stomach.
The pen disappeared, through being absorbed into the young girl's skin, and Ranma witnessed her own daughter transform. She now wore a very tiny black Senshi fuku. She wore white gloves and boots coming up to her elbows and knees. On her chest was a white skin-tight suit with the same black bow and red heart that Sailor Pluto wore. On her head was a golden tiara and around her neck was a black choker.
Suddenly the clothes disappeared, and again the baby wore her original clothing, which consisted of a pink T-Shirt and simple tiny jeans.
And with that… Keika awoke and giggled.
Ranma heaved the greatest sigh of relief. She didn't have a clue what had happened. But she thanked every single one of the deities she had prayed to at least five times.
Her daughter lived, and was as immortal as he seemed to be. It seemed that, even with the removal of Setsuna's status as Senshi, her powers and doings still lingered. Now it seemed his daughter possessed them. The powers to get them out of here some day.
One day… they would escape. One day, they would be free. And on that day, he would show his daughter life. Show her life… as Ranma herself had never known it.
Ranma smiled. There was a difference between this time in the darkness and last time.
This time... she was not alone...
My final chapter of So Be It. Did you enjoy? I'd like to offer special thanks and Acknowledgements to all who helped me create this fic.
First things first. I'd Like to thank Rimuko Takahashi for making Ranma ½. Robert Jordan deserves all the credit for the Wheel of Time. And Naoko Takeuchi for writing the Manga of Sailor Moon.
Secondly. The fics and Stories that Inspired this.
Aftermath: A Story of Blended Cliché's by: Trimatter.
This was the either best or second best fic, and story that I have ever read in my life. I loved everything about it and it will always be among my favorites.
Hearts of Ice by: Krista Perry
A Great and inspiring tale, which probably deserves at least thirty percent of the credit for this fic. It is the other, either the best or second best fic, or story I've ever read. It has been my favorite since I first read it in 2002 and now it's inspired this. Thank you Krista Perry. Now finish your fic!
The Iris Tales by: Night Elf
Another great series of stories dealing with angst to degrees I can hardly comprehend.
And all other fics whom I've read and been changed by! There are many and not enough words in my fingers to write them all.
Special thanks to this guy as he pre-read this chapter (and hopefully will do so for the sequel). Thank you! There are some things from your prereading that I followed and some that I didn't. Sorry but my story must be inconclusive. As was "The Fellowship of the Ring" And Eragon. And the Wheel of Time books since the second one. The conclusive ending will be the sequels ending. I tried to make it slightly less opaque in many areas however, and I think you will approve.
(By the way, I suck with commas. And to think I'm one of the best in my senior class of three hundred... hmm... sad.)
Reviewers (In no particular order)
Really Bad Fanfiction
And everyone else! Thank you all very much for your reviews! I love to read your criticisms and opinions, and I'm glad you liked it!
Last and certainly not least is a special thanks to my Girlfriend, Chels, who doesn't seem to think my writing is bad or stupid at all like I thought she would. Heh
Love you Chels!
Have a good Spring and look forward to my Sequel! P.S.
If you would like to leave a review I'd really appreciate it. I want to hit 400 SOO bad!