Disclaimer: We, in no way shape or form, own Ranma ½ or Sailor Moon.
Ranma ½ Fanfiction by
Materia-Blade and Ozzallos
- - - - - O - - - - -
Doubt. Betrayal. Imprisonment. Execution.
The Princess of Pluto paced the length of her cell, a bleak white tiled floor six meters by six meters illuminated by the dull red glow of laser light along the perimeter. Beyond those lethal vertical lines of light was nothing but crimson shadow and the barely distinguishable outlines of the Queen's own in full crystalline battle armor.
It wasn't supposed to be like this! She balked internally, trying to piece together just how she had gotten to this doomed temporal juncture. The finery of her fuku had been replaced by a ragged slip, stained from days without bath or comfort while representing just how dire the situation had become. In less then twenty four hours, she would be executed for high treason, all but sealing the fate of this timeline and sentencing the human race to… Serenity.
How had they fallen so far?! How had she, the guardian of time itself let things slide this close to the precipice? She was Pluto! How—
No… The green haired woman stopped her pacing. She had a name before Pluto. One all but lost to the annuals of history. One the Queen herself had gone through great lengths to supplant. Quiet claws had tried to snatch it from her psyche, but after nearly ten millennia at her post, ten millennia that she was able to remember at least… that name would not fade as easily has it had with the others. But the claws were still there… Quietly digging… attempting to pull the last thing she could truly call her own from her very mind.
Damn her. In her mind she waged a private war with the pull of Serenity. A battle for her very free will.
It was a mental tug of war to keep her very identity from being snatched away, one she had barely managed to hold on to… and now it was about to cost her life. But at least she knew who she was. She had a name and with it, a weapon. A final—
"Still brooding over the past, Pluto?"
It was a simple question, but with it Setsuna's embattled mind took heavy blow. A rush of will to please and obey this woman- this goddess -brought down from the heavens that she had to fight nearly to tears to keep herself from succumbing.
Her head turned slowly, yet fearfully, wide red eyes finding the Queen herself. The woman had silently breached the insubstantial bars of light and her very senses, moving within a meter of her person without notice. There had been no footsteps, no sound. None of the light breeze associated with the passing of a moving body. She was serenity, completely one with the environment around her.
Pluto swallowed the shock and glared back, as if the act would shatter the tranquility surrounding the woman. Wishing it would. "My name is Setsuna Meiou. I remember."
"A name that will disturb the peace of crystal Tokyo." The woman shook her head sadly, twin silver streamers swaying with the effect. Her glowing white gown flowed gracefully around her, attuned to an ethereal wind without making a sound. "You would do well to let it go. It's not too late."
The tranquility of the woman in front of her began to invade her further than ever before, wrapping around her body and mind, creating peace. There was no dissention. There was only Serenity. At last she could feel at peace with herself. If flowed through her being weaving a singular identity through her. She was the Princess of Pluto, the Queen's hand, forever loyal to—
"No!" Ragged nails clutched at her head pulling lengths of matted green hair with it. It hurt like hell, but the Mistress of Time had seen worse in her years and the pain helped to focus her. "I already have a name! I'm Meiou! Setsuna Meiou!"
"And that is why you will have to die." The Queen sighed, affecting disappoint. "The peace must be maintained."
The magic was still working its way through her brain and the princess had to bite down on her lip in order to keep from agreeing with the woman without a second thought. Blood trickled down her lip and she glared back defiantly. "Your peace executed men for shouting in the audience chamber! This isn't the way it's supposed to be! Your mother—!"
"My mother gave her life to maintain peace," Serenity nodded sagely. "It is a lesson I have learned well. Crystal Tokyo—"
"Is wrong!" The ex-Senshi screamed back. "Don't you see!? I remember! It wasn't supposed to turn out this way!"
"Everything turned out the way it was supposed to." Serenity reaffirmed the cloak of peace around her rippling ever so slightly with discontent. The tension solidified as the Sea of Tranquility faced off against the Rock of Ages, neither woman backing down. Setsuna Meiou stared into those impassive blue eyes and it was all she could do not to crumble before her queen and grovel in the purity of her aura. Somehow she held it together. Held on to her name. The past may have been a magically induced haze, but she would not surrender that.
Not ever again.
"So be it." Serenity's features hardened, the peace turning to frigid calm. "Tomorrow your life is forfeit. Good bye, old friend. Tell mother I said thank you."
The White Queen turned on a heel and strode back into the shadows, passing through the laser lined cage as if the flesh-searing lights didn't exist. Setsuna knew better. She had tried to force her way past the lines of red light once before, only to be introduced to excruciating pain as laser carved into her flesh. She had survived the event only because of the residual planetary bindings, healing her slowly as the Queen sat near by, lecturing her like a small child as she smoldered on the ground.
The outline of the queen's form faded and she knew once more she was alone, save the laser's light and guards just beyond. Setsuna uncurled her fist and strands of green hair drifted to the cold tile below. Everything was wrong. She felt it in every cell of her body but the reason continued to slip away like ice. She was certain now that their identities had been taken from them, their very personas tempered into the queen's desire for total peace. When had their names been taken? Setsuna watched the green wisps settle onto the bleak tiling of her cell. Even that fact had been lost to the mental tampering that had undoubtedly occurred, but there was one thing she knew...
The Crystal Tokyo she could remember was a symbol of hope. A symbol of survival and the perseverance of the human spirit, but somewhere along the way it had become a thing of despair, achieving peace through absolute subservience and small, quiet deaths. Where had it all gone wrong? And why had it taken her so long to see how wrong this hellish empire was? Ten millennia of subservience to the Queen and only now did she see the wrong of this existence? Why here? Why now?
Setsuna's gaze drifted from the floor to the shadows. Like her memories, they held no answers. When had Crystal Tokyo turned from the savior of mankind to a utopia built on blood and unquestioning obedience? When had Usagi taken their very names from them? Why had she all of a sudden begun to question the pure and unstained motives of Usag—!
The name blasted through the piecemeal that was her memories and landed upon her heart like a sledgehammer. Pictures began to flash before her eyes… A school girl, the Senshi, her mother…
Oh god! Setsuna Meiou fell to her knees and tears began to flow in quiet sobs. I've failed you Serenity! I've failed you and your daughter! She's become the very thing you sought to seal away, your highness!
The crying continued unabated for several minutes before she could collect herself, steeling herself against the tragedy she was only now coming to grips with. It wasn't too late. Even stripped of her planetary bindings, she still had something left. No one could be bound to the gates for so long and come away unchanged. It wouldn't be enough to confront the woman directly, but there were other ways. Ways she would never see coming.
Setsuna nodded to herself and sat on the cold, barren floor, crossing her legs. It would require preparation and would more than likely be her last living act as a Senshi, but the Queen would never see this one coming. That and she had a weapon.
Both of their names.
No, that was too strong of word, Setsuna Meiou, Princess of Pluto amended as she was escorted to the center of the Queen's audience chambers by a dozen heavily armed crystal encased soldiers. Each carried enough firepower to ensure her compliance or death, the latter of which would be a moot point in the next few minutes anyway, she reflected bitterly. No, regret was a more appropriate descriptive for the emotions playing across the faces of the Senshi gathered around her Highness.
Soon they would forget the green haired woman. She would be replaced and her formal title re-issued. She would be slain before them and the girls would feel a small measure of loss before the utopia around them reasserted itself and life carried on.
Not that they would have a choice in the matter, she thought bitterly. Not with all the enchantments the Queen had somehow woven through all of their brains. Even with her imminent death, the claws were still digging into her soul, attempting to pry away the last thing she truly owned. In some ways, she was flattered that the Queen was going through so much trouble when the hour was so late. Setsuna made eye contact with the Queen and smiled grimly, even if her insides turned to liquid at the very sight of her majesty. If the woman expected her to grovel and plead her fealty in her last moments, she was sadly mistaken.
The guard around her halted and peeled away from her person, leaving the Princess alone at the center of the room. Around her was the finest the Crystal Tokyo had to offer. Above her massive crystal chandeliers defied gravity. Priceless works of art hung upon the wall and the Queen herself sat in an intricately cut crystal throne that refracted the sunlight in a spectacular manner, further augmenting her aura of absolute tranquility. Setsuna's eyes wandered down, finding the familiar ivory-white marble floor inlayed with a giant crescent moon, the symbol of Crystal Tokyo.
How fitting she was about to die upon it.
The Queen nodded and Mercury stepped forward, her blue fuku rippling with the motion. Like a puppet, Setsuna added mentally as the woman with long wavy blue hair unfolded a digital scroll.
"Princess Pluto, you have been tried and found guilty of High Treason to Queen Serenity the Fifth and the citizens of Crystal Tokyo with secondary charges of disturbing the peace and inciting rebellion. The penalty is death."
On the word death, the soldiers around her snapped to attention, the Hellbores they carried coming into vertical alignment with their shoulders. The princess paid them no mind, opting to continue staring down the Queen herself as Mercury returned to the ranks of Senshi.
Queen Serenity smiled benevolently, rising off her throne and stepping past her champions. The pressure on Setsuna's mind increased exponentially with her proximity to the Queen but she held. She remembered her name. She remembered what Crystal Tokyo was supposed to be and she remembered her. The Queen would not take those in her last moments of life.
"Princess Pluto, my friend. You stand convicted of these egregious crimes. Do you have any last words before your sentence is carried out?"
Even as the Queen spoke, more subtle words were drifting through Setsuna's mind. Tender words, as if from a mother to daughter. Pluto… you can end this! Return to me! I love you, my child. Please do not make me send you into the dark void. I only wish that you return to your queen. Your friend. Please Pluto… Please…
The words would not touch her. Not anymore. Not ever again.
Her smile reappeared. "I do, Usagi."
The words in her mind ceased in an instant. For the first time in her memory, Setsuna Meiou watched the shell of tranquility crack, "What did you call me?"
The kind, gentle words of comfort and pleading changed in a flash to the sharp displeasure of the Queen, rolling across her psyche like a tidal wave. Even so, Setsuna held. The knowledge imminent death did wonders against mental manipulations. "I said, I do have something to say, Usagi Tsukino."
A frown flickered across Serenity the Fifth's visage for a split second before being replaced by the mask of neutral peace. It didn't matter to Setsuna. She had seen it even if nobody else had. In the last moments of her life, it was a victory.
"That," Serenity returned in a quiet, calm voice, "is the past; A past that has no place in the here and now."
"It has everything to do with the here and now." Setsuna replied. "You have perverted the very ideal of Crystal Tokyo. Taken our names… our memories… You are the very thing your mother sought to destroy all those years ago."
Serenity the fifth shook her head sadly. "I have revived her vision of peace. This is my world now. My empire to shape and mold as I wish. The galaxy is my birthright, Pluto, and I shall bring peace and unity to it, no matter the cost."
"My name is Setsuna Meiou." She ground out the words, causing the monarch pause. "And you have become a monster. You've taken so much of our lives, and as the Guardian of Time, I have failed."
"Sadly, you have completely failed—"
"An oversight I will now rectify."
Serenity the Fifth stepped back as she felt the former Senshi gather power around her and smiled like a parent indulging a small child. "Even if I had left your bindings intact, there is little you could hope to accomplish. I have the power to destroy the galaxy at a whim, which leaves me to wonder what you hope to accomplish with your meager reserves?"
"You've grown so much, Usagi, yet learned so little." The green haired Senshi shook her head sadly, and closed her eyes. "I am time apart, older than you could possibly imagine. I cannot allow you to violate our souls further."
The ex-Senshi began to glow with pink power and Serenity stood idly by, watching the display with fascination. She could order the guards to shoot her old friend down where she stood, but morbid curiosity kept the impulse in check as the woman continued to build on a core of magical energy.
"Pluto, stop this…" Neptune stepped forward with a disappointed expression on her face. "It is an undignified display of—"
"I remember you too, Michiru." Setsuna smiled fondly, never opening her eyes. Serenity frowned, noticing the Senshi's face beginning to crease through the magic weaving around her. Were those…? "I have failed… all of us. But I remember now and I will put things right."
"What are you doing, Pluto…?" Serenity the Fifth cocked her head, staring at the green haired woman's visage. The woman was gaining wrinkles before her very eyes, as if time were catching up with the woman.
Setsuna opened her eyes, the lines around those red orbs making her look twenty years older. "Sacrifice, Usagi. I cannot hope to stand against you, but I have remembered… remembered those who can." The wrinkles continued to claim her face, turning into small canyons with every passing second. By the end of her explanation, she looked nearly eighty years old and showed no signs of remission while power continued to coarse around her. One of the Senshi gasped. Old age was simply unheard of in the society of perfection that was Crystal Tokyo and even the Queen seemed to be somewhat repulsed at the sight.
The soldiers lining the perimeter of the room brought their weapons to bear, sighting the lethal devices onto Setsuna. Green hair had already passed from her head, leaving a gray that started out vibrant and began to dull, dropping to the ground like fall leaves. "Don't worry, Usagi… The job has been… done for you." The graying old woman rasped and dropped to her knees as her strength failed her. "As it has sustained me, time now takes me… And brings them forward; the chaos to your order."
The pink glow of power began to fade and die off. Setsuna's head inclined gracefully, her gray hair covering her face as her body slackened. The pink flair of power died off completely, leaving silence to reign in the room.
Venus stared incredulously. "Is she…?"
Even the Queen hesitated for a moment before summoning the will to step up to her former protector. Her fingers moved to brush away the remaining thin strands of hair only to watch her body turn to ashen dust with the action. Chunks flaked away and the corpse literally fell apart at her feet. It was over in seconds. No cloths, no hair, no jewelry. Just dust on the image of a glorious silver crescent moon.
Setsuna Meiou, Princess of Pluto and the last living guardian of the old Silver Millennium, was dead.
"Sad really, that Pluto had to be put down like that. Who would have thought she would cause so much trouble, considering how long she worked to build this nation and set the White Queen on top?" Mars said conversationally, as she lay down sporadically on the large bed in her room. Her legs were kicking in the air lazily as she spoke with her friend and partner.
"It doesn't matter. She became an enemy of the Queen. We are her hand and do as she commands, Mars." Mercury replied. "You know that. My loyalties are to her. If she told me to capture and imprison you, I would, just as I did with Pluto. I'm no child anymore. What the queen wants is what is best for the empire. I would follow her to death."
"As would I…" Mars replied, solemnly. She hadn't really wanted the conversation to go down this sort of road. Mercury was a little difficult to talk to sometimes. Rarely, but sometimes. In the back of her mind though, Mars worried. What if she asked me to kill my children? Something as far as that? Would I do it?
She wasn't sure if she should feel horror or satisfaction at the answer. Yes. She would do anything for her queen. Anything. Once they had been but mere friends, bound together by saving the world from threats. They had been on almost equal ground at that time. Equal in power and strength of mind. But now the woman had changed. She had become Mars's savior and her queen. The queen had saved her life hundreds of times. Revived her and healed her. Her wisdom and judgment had become legendary as had she. The white queen who could heal any injury. Heal even death. Even Saturn couldn't do that.
Mars and Mercury and all the others… even Pluto, owed the White Queen their own lives a hundred fold. And a hundred fold they would give them to her.
All of them… except Pluto for some strange reason.
It helped that none of her current children knew they were her descendents as well. But Mars did keep an eye on them from time to time.
"And for the queen, I would do anything. We are her hand. As you say Mercury." Mars replied in a much less solemn tone. It always did help to remember how much they owed the Queen.
Mercury grinned widely at the uplifted tone and nodded, sparking a quick change of subject. "So. Found anyone yet Mars? I know there has to be another out there who can deal with you and your fire!"
Mars instantly blushed as red as the planet she was named for, not ready for such a swift change of topic. "I… well I… uhm… not yet, Mercury." Mars stuttered.
"Heh heh. You should find someone! It's been what… thirty years since Krarum passed? You need yourself a man! A young one. Fresh little millenier! They are always the sweetest!" Mercury said in a happy tone. Rei simply stared at her indignantly.
Strange how much the world had changed. Little millennier? Six or seven thousand years ago Mars had never thought that anyone a millennia old as little. Another change. Back then, she had been the forward one by comparison to Mercury, as far as love went. Then. Love was encouraged most openly now. Both she and Mercury were quite conservative by comparison to most residents of the galaxy.
"Hah! Millenniers are even too old for my taste Mercury! You know that! I prefer them fresh from the womb. Forty or fifty would suffice." Mars replied haughtily, to which Mercury simply gave a 'suit yourself' look.
"Keep that up and you might find yourself dating a teen? Eh?" Jupiter cut in suddenly, appearing from the doorway.
Mars shivered even as she gave a revolted look at Jupiter. "A teen!? A teen!? That's disgusting Jupiter!" If Mercury was forward then Jupiter was ten times as much. Venus topped them all but none of them had seen Venus for quite some time. To actually suggest dating a teen, though?! It was akin to rape!
"Just a suggestion." Jupiter said, still teasingly. "I heard about what happened to Pluto. I could hardly believe it. Treason? Pluto? I'd sooner believe I was a man than believe treason from the Princess of Time."
"She has been dead for almost two days Jupiter." Mercury replied quickly. "It took you long enough to get here…"
Almost angered but not quite, Jupiter retorted, "I was busy in the new Planets! You know they got a rebellion going down there. Heh. Fools. They will all understand sooner or later. Only another hundred years or so and we should control the entire galaxy! Plus, I never liked Pluto anyways. Didn't even really care much. Just surprised."
"The same here. I always thought she was a bit too mysterious. Like maybe she wanted the power that rightfully belongs to the Queen? Guess now we know." Mars replied with a sneer. "What do you think, Mercury?"
Mercury was strangely silent for some reason.
"I was thinking…" Mercury began almost fearfully, "about Mi… Michiru."
Mars gulped. After a moment of thought she began in what she hoped was an uplifting tone. "Th-that… was her name… wasn't it? I… I don't know what I would do if I had another name that I'd forgotten! Neptune was devastated! She's been with the queen for almost two days straight… I've never seen her so terrified. It must have felt like having her entire identity ripped out! Thank god, we know our names, right?"
"Do we?" Mercury stated.
Utter fear gripped Mars like a mental fist latching around her mind. Her very identity. She fought against it quite easily though. She was old beyond age. Little could frighten her. "I am Mars. I have always been and will always be Mars."
Are you? The thought slammed through her like an ephemeral lance through her barriers.
Jupiter shuddered openly. "I … I don't even want to think about that. My name is Jupiter and that is all there is too it." Turning, in a way that made her seem more confident than she was, Jupiter strode out of Mars's bedroom.
Mars shuddered too. "Mercury. Don't worry. We have names. They are Mercury and Mars. Those are our names. Don't think things like that!
"I know that Mars… but I think… I wonder…"
"Mercury is your name! You are Mercury and only Mercury!" Mars exclaimed. "My best friend, and member of the Eight Hands of the Queen. Well… Seven now. But that's a better number anyway."
Mercury giggled a bit at the joke.
"I suppose so." She murmured. "Yes. You're right Mars."
Even as Mars comforted her friend, and tried desperately to wall the thoughts in the back of her mind, a war had begun there now.
I am Mars.
What if you're not? What if you're real name is something else?
That isn't possible
Does not matter. I am Mars.
Doesn't matter! I am Mars! I never was anyone else!
Are you sure?
How do you know!?
What about… Usagi?
In that moment of silence between the two long time friends and partners, the queen entered the room. In that moment, three names, long forgotten, were lost once more…
Authors' Notes –
Hellbore: Originally designed as the main battery armament of the Concordiat Navy's Magyar-class battle cruiser, the 25 cm Hellbore plasma cannon delivered half a megaton per second and outperformed any laser or projectile weapon of equal mass. For the purposes of this story, we have reduced what would normally be a capital ship/mobile armor mounted cannon to a man portable rifle, the standard heavy armament for the Queen's Own crystalline battle armor equipped guard.
Just figured we'd define that.
Well all! That is it. The first fic I've ever Co-written anyway. Don't know about Ozz, he mighta co-written with someone else before but I haven't. The idea was mine and once I got Ozz's Muse-O-Matic 5000 goin' we came up with a plethora of ideas. This is gonna be pretty big…
Me and Ozzallos hope you enjoy! Ozz'll be giving you the next AN! By the way! Check out his newest installment of "Tales of the Foxcat!" Best Naruto/Ranma out there!