Disclaimer: I do not own Ranma 1/2, Sailor Moon, Lost Universe, Stargate, or Ah My Goddess. This is a non-profit work of fanfiction meant only for entertainment.
by Lerris Smith
Note: Credit is given to Arkaos for his long ago help editing parts of this story as well to all the others who have helped including some at fukufics including PcHeintz72 who helped with editing this last version. I was actually surprised that people were still interested in seeing this story completed after so many years, so I shall endeavor to do so.
Usagi was not herself, or perhaps, just perhaps, she was more herself that she ever wanted to be. The free spirited girl seemed to fall away that day. What was left was someone solemn and even regal.
From her place guarding the veil separating one time from another, one reality from another, the last princess of Pluto hardened her resolve, even as tears fell on her staff and then slid off onto the black marble floor. She kept telling herself some things just had to be. Her rationality usually worked.
Rationality and reason had been one of her few friends for such a long time. She had, over time, perfected it to an art form. Unfortunately something in her could not stand to see the princess so sad, especially when she had a hand in that sadness. No amount of logic or reason could shield her from those watery blue eyes.
Pluto knew that Mercury was as good as dead the first time she said the words after Luna gave her the key, but she was needed. Her own actions, or in this case inaction were also necessary. The star seed that held Mercury's eternal soul and linkage to her world was flawed, cracked by the ravages of time. Under better conditions Serenity's final act would have sent all their souls safe to this time, but the conditions were anything but ideal.
Serenity was dying before she even began the spell and even draining her own spirit to fuel the crystal was not enough for all of them. The rebirth of the Senshi of Mercury hastened the damage to young Ami. The final straw was a simple one. A youma drained her energy and left her in a coma. Nobody thought much of it then, that is until her Senshi transformation failed. That was not supposed to happen without a conscious act. No one believed Mercury could make such a mistake.
With a sad sigh Pluto took a red ruby almost the size of a ping pong ball out of the stasis cabinet. It glowed a dull red color. She figured that it had enough power to save the other, but that was not a choice she would offer. For that matter, it was within Usagi or even Hotaru's power to save the other, but that too would not be allowed or even mentioned. There must be a Senshi of Mercury. There was no future without her.
The time to act had come. With regret, they had gone off to fight a youma leaving the dying Senshi of Mercury to lie in a silver crystal stasis field. The prince of the Earth lay nearby, collapsed from trying to fight a battle he knew he could not win. Usagi and Hotaru had each tried earlier as well, but their healing could do even less than the Earth prince's as it was not an injury of the body but of the soul itself.
Pluto stepped through the portal into Rei's room and immediately opened another portal to her destination before dismissing her staff. She paused a moment to cover the Earth prince before gathering Ami into her arms and walking through.
As she stepped through the door she saw a tear fall from the eldest Tendo daughter's face. Kasumi had tried so hard to project warmth, to remain positive despite the storm, yet not even she could keep her center now. Still it brought hope to the aged immortal, for it was for people like her that she would always continue to fight.
The two fathers had gone to get drunk and even Akane was gone. She could not, could not stay and watch. Ranma was there though and doing things that scared Kasumi greatly and more than once had her taking hold of her little silver cross in fervent prayer. Oh she wasn't worried for herself, but Ranma was pale, so very pale. He had hardly slept between the book he kept studying and trying to somehow perform a miracle on her younger sister. No, that wasn't right, he had performed a miracle, for Nabiki was still alive more than two weeks after the doctor's said she would be dead. The cancer held at bay by whatever esoteric and possibly forbidden knowledge Ranma had pulled from the book he said he had stolen from Cologne.
Kasumi privately suspected Cologne let him have it, if by nothing else making it easy to get. She didn't know what to think of that. On one hand, at least Ranma was actually helping. On the other hand the attempt seemed to be killing him and she didn't want to lose her little brother.
She reached up to begin to finger her little silver cross again when she was broken out of her thoughts as she recognized a Sailor Senshi carrying a young blue haired woman.
Kasumi pulled calm from the depths of her soul and said, "Hello there, can I help you?"
A wry, yet sad smile crept onto the green haired woman's face. "Yes, take me to them."
"Ranma and Nabiki. There is hope, of a sort."
Kasumi pressed her lips together into a thin line and for an instant worry was echoed on her face. A moment later she tilted her head, perhaps in resignation, perhaps in hope, and led them inside and up the stairs, opening the door before them.
Ranma awoke from the hard wooden chair he was sitting in to see the green haired young woman set a blue haired girl near his age that looked a little like Akane down in the bed beside Nabiki.
"Huh? What is going on?" Ranma asked weakly.
Pluto smiled. "Thank you Ranma. You do not understand yet, but you have helped a great deal. Without your strength, Nabiki would not have lived long enough to seriously consider the choice I have brought."
He frowned as he let his aura sight briefly scan the pair. He said, "Huh? Shouldn't your friend be in a hospital or something? I'd try to help, but well..."
Kasumi looked on in wonder and hope. Somehow there was hope, yet she didn't understand the why of it. It was clearly there, yet it was tainted with fear, and that too made her wonder, but then fear concerning Nabiki was hardly new.
Setsuna said, "Ami. Her name is Ami, and you already know that she is dying. Don't worry, I do not ask for your help, for though you could buy her a few more good days, it would be a poor trade for what would be lost. You are very near the point of no return yourself. You must learn to care for yourself better."
Surprise flickered on Ranma's face briefly before exasperation and tiredness returned. Kasumi looked at him sharply, but he just gave her his best wan smile, which if anything made her expression become even more severe. Her face softened when she again looked down at Nabiki's still form.
Pluto said, "Like with your friend medical science has no answers. There is no time. I must begin." With that she brought the ruby out and held it in her hand. Its glow spread and enveloped the unconscious pair as she set it between them, before turning back to the others.
"What is happening?" demanded the pigtailed boy as he looked intently at the glowing gem.
"The crystal is the last of the great healing relics from the Silver Millennium, yet it doesn't have the power to heal them." The lie, or half truth as it was, slipped easily from her tongue.
Ranma and Kasumi frowned, but she continued, "Ami is a dear friend. As you can probably guess, she is a Sailor Senshi as well. The crystal has the power, if Nabiki allows it, to merge her soul with Ami's.
"What?" exclaimed Ranma as a faint "Oh my" echoed from Kasumi's lips.
"Peace. If it works, as I believe it will, both will live on in a way. The power of a spirit freely given is tremendous. It can heal Ami's fractured star seed and together they will become the new Senshi of Mercury, or at least I very much hope so.
"What does that mean for my sister?"
Pluto shrugged. "By herself she will die, that much is certain. Even now Ranma has almost spent too much of himself too fast to fight the cancer. It is rather like trying to empty a river with a spoon. Her body cannot be saved. Had I not come, his too would be forfeit."
Ranma looked dubious. He starred at the green haired woman seemingly trying to see something that he wasn't sure was there. "I want to hear it from her. If your thing can do so much, it should be able to at least let Nabiki speak for a moment."
Pluto paused as if in thought before hesitantly saying, "Yes, it can do that." She held her right hand above the crystal briefly before it pulsed and soon Ami and Nabiki were stirring.
She then turned towards the bed where Ami and Nabiki had woken up. Ami's back was pressed loosely against Nabiki's chest. Ami's eyes remained closed and her face serene.
Nabiki spoke, yet her voice was a little brighter, a little crisper than normal. "Most of what she told you is true, yet as always she hasn't told all of the truth." She seemed slightly amused at that and there almost seemed to be admiration in her voice for the older woman. She continued after a brief pause to stare at her. "The truth is cancer, even such as mine, could be healed by two of the other Senshi and probably by this crystal as well, if it is what I suspect it is."
"What? Then what the heck?" Anger began to seep into Ranma's voice. Kasumi frowned, and of the two actions, the second disturbed Nabiki more.
Nabiki smirked, "Calm down Ranma-kun. You're starting to act like Akane."
Ranma blinked. That smirk, it was Nabiki. It had to be. No one else had that smirk. Setsuna remained calm, seemingly unsurprised or at least hiding it well.
"As I was saying, she seldom speaks the whole truth." Nabiki turned to the older woman and smirked. If Ranma wasn't mistaken, there was admiration in her gaze. He thought he saw it before, but now it seemed certain.
Nabiki turned back to the others and continued, "Her true plan was to save the Senshi of Mercury which she must believe is critical to the future. I have already wandered through the sea of Ami's memories a little and now I'm talking funny." She smiled and it seemed to be the wrong smile. It looked altogether too kind for the mercenaryTendo. Setsuna recognized it of course, but said nothing. Soon enough the Nabiki-esque smirk returned, although it seemed a little forced now. "The Senshi of Ice is required." The last was said with such certainty that even Ranma felt the truth of it. Her voice lightened and she brought forth her best smile which caused Ranma and Kasumi to smile in response. "Don't worry, I'll still be here. It is a fair deal, and Nabiki Tendo pays her debts."
With that the red light enveloped them, until a silver white light flared from Nabiki and settled into the slightly younger girl. Nabiki's eyes closed and slumped into the wall as if the strings were finally cut.
Kasumi's quiet "Oh my" seemed to echo in the room as tears fell from the eyes of the blue haired girl as she blinked them open.
Ami gently pulled Nabiki's arms from around her and set her body down. She picked up a blanket from the bed and gently covered the dead body as if it was the most precious thing in the world.
Ranma stared at the blue haired young woman and noted the changes. The face was still amazingly cute, yet it was different now. It seemed to be a blend of Nabiki and Ami's face. If he was not mistaken, she was a little taller now, although not quite up to Nabiki's height. He looked at her ki and was amazed. He could still see parts of two distinct ki signatures. Moments later even that was gone, leaving behind one very intricate and complete whole.
Ami reached out and pressed a hand under his chin to close his mouth.
"You were staring."
He was once more at a loss for words.
"Welcome back Ami." came from the Senshi of Time.
"No, my mother can still call me that, but I would like everyone else to call me Nabiki."
"Why?" asked Pluto in curiosity.
"Because much of me is her now. Because it is appropriate to honor her memory."
Kasumi unconsciously nodded. She walked over to the girl who called herself with her sister's name and reached her arms around her. "I'm glad your okay imouto-chan."
"Me too nee-san. Me too."
Nabiki gently broke from her sister's hug and walked over to Ranma who still seemed to be a bit lost in his own thoughts. She reached her arms around him and proceeded to give a very un-Nabiki like hug to the pigtailed boy. "Thank you Ranma." Tears of happiness streamed down her face as she remembered the hours and the days he sat by her side tirelessly trying to help her. "We have much to do." Ranma barely heard the words spoken as quietly as they were with her face embedded into his chest, but he nevertheless nodded. She sniffed and said, "But first we need a bath."
Nabiki then added coyly, "Together?"
Kasumi and Sailor Pluto laughed as Ranma acted as if it was the most outrageous idea in the world. Of course the slight hope that crept on his face was also noted before he quickly banished it.
Nabiki's smirk warmed the room. An action that seemed to faintly surprise the Senshi of Pluto. She continued, "I'll be waiting..." She left the flustered Ranma behind as she sought the solitude of the furo.
A part of her wished that the baka would have taken her seriously. The silence seemed deafening here, but then reinforced walls with soundproofing were the minimum Nerima building code. A sigh escaped her lips. Things had not gotten easier. She hoped her mother would understand.