Falling Shadows of Light
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"Okay," said Haruka, as the Senshi sat down at the Outers' home for an emergency meeting. "Now, Hotaru, can you explain who this Ramius is?"
The Senshi of Silence nodded. "My memories are still a little fuzzy, but he was my godfather during the Silver Millennium. He didn't really have a position in any of the Guards, but he was my best friend, and trained me. Whenever I was on the Moon, I'd stay with him and his wife, Demeter. I always called them my Uncle and Auntie."
"Not a bad recall," came a male voice, causing the Senshi to immediately to turn to see the voice.
There before them were two cats with gold crescent moons on their foreheads. One was a light red, while the other was a dark purple.
"Who are you?" asked Artemis.
"WAH!" cried the pink one. "My brother's forgotten his family!"
Artemis slowly backed up, an unknown fear coming to his mind as well as a name. "Circes?"
"YOU REMEMBER!" she cried, tackling him from across the room, and playfully nuzzling his cheek with her own.
"GAH!" he said, finally remembering the reason for the fear.
Circes could be ... overly affectionate.
"Artemis?" growled out Luna.
"Oh, be quiet, you jealous fleabag," said the purple moon cat. "Can't you let them have their reunion? It's been over an eon since the last time she saw her brother."
"BROTHER!" cried the other Senshi.
"Yes," said the moon cat. "Circes is Artemis's sister. My name is Diogenes; her husband. I am pleased to make your acquaintances once again."
"And you two are supposed to be?" asked Rei.
"They are the advisors for Solaris Knight, Sailor Sol, and Sailor Nemesis," came Setsuna's response, as she walked into the room with Usa and Diana.
"So," growled out Haruka, "we'll finally get some answers then."
"Correct," said Diogenes. "We have been cleared by all parties involved to converse about the desired topic."
"They mean we can talk about the new Sailors, Usagi."
"Oh, thanks, Ami-chan!"
Sighing, and seeing that his partner was still too busy catching up with her brother, Diogenes began. "So, what would you like to know?"
"Everything," said Makoto.
"Very well," said Diogenes.
"It began a few years before the Great Fall."
"Wait," said Minako. "You remember everything?"
Diogenes nodded. "Unlike Artemis and Luna, Circes and I have had other means used to fully restore our memories; though I would never recommend them for the others. They are ... dangerous."
"Don't even ask what they are," said Setsuna with absolute conviction. "They were lucky to escape with their lives, and were nearly lost to this world forever."
The others gulped, before looking at the new arrivals.
"Anyway," said Diogenes, not wanting to spend more time thinking about their imposed limbo inside Ranma than he had to, "the Royal Senates were voicing public opinion. They stated if the other worlds required their princesses to be Senshi to better learn the costs of fighting and such, that it was only right to expect the same from the royal house of Serenity."
"That makes sense," said Ami.
"To that end, the Queen finally relented and ordered a Senshi created for the moon, as well as two more."
"Why two?" asked Usagi.
"The Queen was ... concerned ... that her daughter would never be strong enough to either defend herself or survive the rigors of battle. As such, she ordered a Senshi created for Sol and Nemesis as well."
"They were supposed to protect her," said Hotaru, her own memories clear on this point. "Princess Serenity had a very large heart, but her abilities to fight were nil."
"WAH! I'VE BEEN TRYING!"
"Anyway," said Diogenes, ignoring Usagi's outburst, "the mantles were created enough for them to choose a wielder.
"Nemesis chose Demeter, which came as no surprise. She was Commander of the Royal Guard, a prized fighter, excellent tactician, and all around warrior."
"She was the best of the best the Kingdoms had to offer," said Setsuna. "In a one-on-one without the aid of Senshi abilities, she could easily take out any of the other Senshi."
"And the one of Sol?" asked Michiru.
"That is where things got weird," said Diogenes. "The Mantle of Sol chose a male to wield its powers, much to the ire of many nobles and a few Senshi."
Hotaru sighed. "Not many people understood Uncle Ramius."
"Yes," said Diogenes. "It chose Ramius, Demeter's husband. As you may already guess, a few Senshi rather hated the man."
"Why? Was he evil?" asked Usagi.
"No," said Circes, leaving her brother alone. "He was rather forward with his views and thoughts, and most didn't take to his style of completely open honesty.
"That, and the fact there was hardly a week that went by that he didn't have at least one fight with a Senshi."
"Very true," said Setsuna. "Usually it was with Uranus, as the two always ended up fighting over something, usually ending up in the Brig for it. I think he had at least a dozen or so fights with any Senshi."
"But what did he do?" asked Makoto.
"He was an independent fighter," said Diogenes. "He had loyalty only to his wife; who really cracked down on him if he did something stupid—meaning he was in the healer's soon after she found out about another brawl he had with one of you."
"He was also my friend," added Hotaru. "He never once feared me because of my power. He and Demeter were my family whenever I visited the Moon, or they came to Saturn for some reason."
"Ramius was very loyal to any who were his friends," said Diogenes. "But what even Setsuna did not know, was that he was employed by Serenity. Despite her passion for peace, she did realize that some fractions could only be dealt with by force."
"He was Black Ops," said Haruka.
The moon cats nodded. Circes continued. "He was used to remove factions bent on assuming power at the cost of innocent lives and for their own gains. He was rarely used, and you can rest assured he was used because no other option remained."
The others nodded, some surprised that Queen Serenity had had a private assassin on her staff. But even they at times had witnessed things in their current histories, where maybe a leader dead could have stopped a useless war.
"But where does Sailor Sol come into this?" asked Ami.
"In this life, Solaris Knight was cursed when younger by the Springs of Jusenkyo."
"What are those?" asked Usagi.
Circes stepped forward. "Springs of Sorrows, cursed by chaos magic. Whosoever falls into one of those springs, gains a cursed form of whatever drowned there. He fell into the Spring of Drowned Girl, so he received a cursed form that would be him if he had been born female.
"When the magic of Sol was activated with him in this life, it altered the curse, so that he can become both Sailor Sol and Solaris Knight; two Senshi in one."
Diogenes nodded. "It also explains why her fuku is more like yours than that of Nemesis. The magic had been designed afterwards for his male form, the Senshi magic would remain as the original base design for a female Senshi."
"So each planet can support two Senshi?" asked Haruka.
Diogenes shook his head. "No. They can support one Senshi and now we know they can support a male Knight or Kamen if you prefer," he said, looking over at Mamoru. "In the old days, each Queen had full access to those powers, but the Princess had even greater. As such, if your first child is a boy, then you will have no worries, unless you choose to make your husband a Knight or Kamen for your world.
"However, when your first daughter is born, and her powers grow as a Senshi, yours will reach a current plateau. From then own, now matter how hard you train, your children will always be able to go further than you, if only by a fraction."
"So our children will always be stronger than us?" asked Makoto.
"Yeah," said Circes. "You can still grow in power as a Sailor, and can only use the power for short times while the new Senshi are still alive, but your training will only lose effectiveness at certain ranges."
"This is recorded fact," said Diogenes, "from before the fall. How your reincarnation changes things, I cannot say."
Usa nodded. "So remember that when I start asking for brothers and sisters," said Usa. "After all, those two never stopped at four, I can tell you that."
Usagi blinked. "They have more than four kids by Crystal Tokyo?"
Yep," said the pink-haired girl. "One of them is married to Hotaru-chan."
"M-m-m-me?" squeaked the girl.
Usa just nodded. Her own engagement to Neo-Solaris Knight could wait till later. No need to give her Mother ideas before their time.
"But what about what Diana told us?" asked Ami.
"All a preprogrammed set of responses if you asked about them before we informed you," said Circes, looking at her niece. "Didn't want any paradoxes or secrets spilled before we were ready to say."
Ignoring the news that her friend was going to be engaged to the future son of their newest teammates, Rei continued to question the cats. "So who are they?"
"Can't tell you," Circes said. "Only they can reveal themselves to you when they are ready."
"We need to know," growled out Rei.
"Fine," said Circes, "and while we're at it, we can tell the rest of your families about your secrets as well, seeing as no one needs to respect the wishes of others anymore."
Rei gulped. "That's blackmail!"
"That's respecting the wishes of other," said Diogenes. "For now, all you need to know is that they will be there to support you in the field, and will never abandon you."
"Until they are ready," said Circes, "I suggest you take their words of advice and ask Ranma for some training. As things stand, he and Nabiki are the best trained martial artists within a sizeable area."
"They have earned the respect of Solaris Knight and the other two Senshi," said the agreeing Diogenes.
Haruka nodded. "Yeah, Ranma's pretty good. Bastard's always holding back while fighting me, though."
"We've observed his practices," said Circes, "making certain our charges knew what they were talking about when they referred to them training you. You could all benefit from it."
"It's true," said Ami, remembering when she had started to learn from the young man her adopted sister was engaged to. "If not for what he's taught me, they would've gotten me way before now."
"Okay," said Usagi. "We can ask them after school tomorrow. But why aren't Solaris Knight and the girls training us instead?"
"Because you must work with the student before the master," said Circes in a wise voice.
"You got that from TV," accused Diogenes.
"So, doesn't make it any less true."
Ranma lay on the roof of his home, Nabiki sitting in between his legs, leaning back against his chest, as they watched the sky.
"I wonder what the old group is up to?" asked Nabiki, watching as a shooting star passed overhead.
"Hopefully doing well," said Ranma. "We saw how things were turning out for them, and we know Akane had a better second marriage."
"And much better than what your marriage to her would have meant," said Nabiki, remembering the scenes of their own deaths.
Ranma nodded slightly, tightening his grip around Nabiki's waist a little more. "We were both lucky for this second chance at happiness."
"True, but not without cost," she answered. "I dream sometimes about one of them finding us; usually Kasumi and Tofu, glad we're still alive and wishing us continued happiness."
"And nightmares, I take it?" he asked.
Nabiki nodded, rubbing her cheek against his chest. "The usual ones I had when we were younger; a fiancée finding us, killing me for taking you away from them."
Ranma nodded, kissing her head. "You are stronger than them now."
"Doesn't mean they'd never have gotten in a lucky shot," she murmured.
She needs just as much comfort about her safety thanks to seeing herself killed by those thugs as I do about her acceptance of my curse. Ranma cuddled her closer to himself, rocking her slightly, whispering that he'd never let anything like that ever happen. "You can't think like that, Nabiki." He pushed her back, angling her face to look at his. "If we always worry about what might happen, then we ain't worried enough about what is happening. So stop worrying about what people who can't even touch us today might do, and worry about more important things."
"Such as?" she asked.
Ranma motioned towards the street with his head. "Like why Minako and Makoto have been circling our block for the last hour, stopping occasionally to stare at our door."
Nabiki looked over, seeing the Senshi in question on the sidewalk. "Shit, they accepted."
"Accepted what?" he asked.
Nabiki blushed. The encounter with the Outers had been a drunken accident. It was in no way premeditated, no way wanted, but in no way hated as well. She would admit it had its moments.
When she had mentioned her response to the two Inners about wanting to try out the duo for themselves, she had never considered the possibility that they might take her up on that offer.
"Nabiki," he asked again, "accept what?"
Said girl chuckled quietly, hoping that somehow if she remained quiet, the girls would get too scared and run off. "Well, when they were questioning me earlier today about what happened between me and your girl form, I kinda offered that they could join us for the night."
Ranma blinked, missing the innuendo. "Okay, that's not too bad."
"In the bedroom."
Ranma paled. "My wife is whoring me out to the other Senshi."
Nabiki was about to retort, when she decided to get payback instead for the comment—even if she did deserve it for doing something close to that. "Well, they probably will get lonely from time to time between now and Crystal Tokyo."
The only sound was that of Ranma's head hitting the roof as he passed out, fearful images of his Nerima exploits replaying in his mind, only being replaced by Senshi.
"Aiyah!" cried Makoto. "Airen no cheat on Amazon wife!"
"Come on, Ranchan," said Minako. "Tell them you'll only do perverted stuff with your cute fiancée."
"OH HOHOHOHOHOHO!" cried Ami. "How dare such varlets deem themselves worthy of my Ranma-sama?"
"RANMA NO HENTAI!" cried the mallet-wielding Rei.
After making certain the girls were not around to have heard her fiancé hit the roof, literally, she sighed, taking him back inside to his room and heading home to the Mizuno household before her adoptive mother returned from work.
As she began to roof-hop home, she noticed that the two girls had finally met each other after circling the block several times. I bet that would be a great conversation to hear.
Too bad I have to be home tonight, or Mom will ground me away from my fiancé.
General Dragns stood on the rock outcropping, observing as Gedz continued his training.
So far, their attempts to invade Earth had been stopped by three particular Senshi; the lone Senshi of Nemesis and the two of Sol. The evidence still bore out that the others were mainly useless in battle aside from Sailor Jupiter, Uranus, and Pluto; the latter having more skill than expected. Saturn and Moon; while true powerhouses of magic, had little skill in how to effectively to use that power.
The planning stages and intelligence had indicated that they would be a relatively easy force to roll over, needing no more than three standard Shadow Assassins.
The Assassins were eliminated effectively, and without waste.
While the Senshi may have been foiled by the fact that Solaris Knight was hit, even he could tell it had been planned for an easy out. All information indicated that Nemesis could easily teleport out through the shadows as they did, but Solaris Knight needed light.
Then there was the arrival of yet another Senshi, highly skilled as Solaris and Nemesis.
That made the enemy stronger beyond earlier estimates by a great deal.
The new arrivals had skill, power, and the wisdom to use it for the most effective means of removing their targets from the battle.
Even his own Shadow Soldiers were taken out quickly when Nemesis used some sort of fog cover that rendered his troops deaf, blind, and effectively dumb with no sensory input to fight on.
He suspected that the group had not even revealed a fraction of their talents.
Sadly, he had so little information to send Gedz out on.
But the soldier would do his duty to Lord Shade and Lady Gloom.
The Shadow Empire would be victorious ... no matter how many lambs were offered to slaughter.
Ranma sighed, getting out of bed, and heading downstairs to answer the door bell, night still out. "Whoever it is," he mumbled half asleep, "better be bleeding, dying, or wanting their ass kicked."
"Yeah," he growled out as he opened the door.
Minako and Makoto stood there, the two having spent the last half-hour since finding each other constantly talking themselves first out of taking up Nabiki's offer, and then back into it.
They were still floundering on the issue when Ranma opened the door, Minako not knowing she had been resting on the door bell, and their argument keeping them from hearing the bell.
Ranma stood before the two girls, wearing his usual undershirt and boxers, as Nabiki had been kind enough to put him to bed in his usual attire when she sent him to Nightmare Land. "Well?" he asked, since they were not answering.
"Well, Nabiki said we should come over tonight," said Minako, nervously twiddling her fingers.
"Um, yeah," stumbled Makoto. "She said we could ... um ... sleep here tonight."
Ranma's sleepy mind failed to recall the event that had sent him to dream world. "Okay, whatever," he mumbled, pulling them in, before shutting and locking the door.
Minako and Makoto stared in shock as Ranma led them to his bedroom, before he crawled back into bed. "Clothes are in the dresser on your right, bathroom is across the hall. Night."
As they heard Ranma start to lightly snore, the girls face-faulted.
"I'm beginning to think Nabiki was joking," said Makoto as she stood back up. She was currently unsure if she should be happy or upset that they weren't getting their "test drive" of the wild horse.
Minako growled, before smiling. She was now in prime position for a little payback for what Ranma had done to her for a practical joke a few months back, which had involved brownies, chocolate laxatives, and removing all of the toilet paper from the bathrooms at school.
"Minako!" gasped Makoto, as she watched her friend undress. "Why are you—"
Makoto paled. That had been the worst day of her life, stuck in a bathroom until she had been able to pay some freshman to go fetch the janitor and another fresh supply of toilet paper. "And?"
"Well," said Minako, now nude, "this is payback. He'll wake up with us in his arms, nude, and freak out. We'll tell Nabiki we took her up on her offer, but she wasn't here."
"And how will that be payback?" Makoto asked.
"Well," said Minako, "he'll have to explain it to Nabiki, she'll have to explain it to everyone else, and he'll be left wondering exactly what we did tonight," she said, striking a pose. "It'll be hell for him because he won't remember a thing."
Makoto sighed. She really didn't want to do this to the guy who was supposed to start training them.
But Minako was right, he deserved it. Surely, Nabiki had been in on it. How else could they have stolen all of the toilet paper from every girls' restroom in the building?
"Now hurry up, strip, and help me get his clothes off him!"
"Fine," said Makoto. "But keep his boxers on. I don't want him having naughty dreams and acting on them."
Damn, I was hoping for some fish chip shots.