I'm back…. Kinda. To all of you who have reviewed and sent me messages, thank you for your kind words. This story has gotten much more positive feedback than I ever expected, and I really have wanted to finish it up. There is still a long way to go as it keeps growing on me.
That's part of the problem, actually. My life is full between work and school so updates may be like this one, short and unedited, rather than long and drawn out. I'm hoping to find a good beta or co-author, which would increase not only the speed of new chapters, but possibly their length. But until then, I'm going to get as much of the basic story as I can written, then will go back and start editing and changing things with at least one other person to make things flow better.
And yes, I suck at dialogue. It's a personal failing that I'm working to rectify. Until then, a short update is better than none, ne?
"This sucks." Ranko complained, laying across the sofa. She watching Haruka was also on the floor, her head in Michiru's lap, as the Senshi of Neptune played with her lover's hair. For her part, Setsuna was slumped in a chair, an empty bottle of sake next to her.
"You said it." Haruka said. "I am still feeling that last fight."
"Same here." Michiru agreed. "You two are lucky you heal so quickly."
Setsuna regarded her seriously, before turning to her adopted sister. The two seemed to hold a silent conversation, before Setsuna nodded. Ranko excused herself to find a communicator as Setsuna smiled slyly at the other two.
"We may have a solution to that, actually."
Haruka and Michiru looked to each other, before turning back to the Senshi of Pluto, recent defeat making them more than willing to hear her out.
Several weeks earlier, just after Hotaru's death and Ranma's calling as Sailor Saturn, the Senshi were all hopeful that the addition of the new firepower of an ascended Senshi, two when Pluto ascended as well, would be a crucial tool in the upcoming fight.
It was, just not what they expected.
The feeling of defeat that they were getting used to began one Saturday afternoon, at a local park. There had been several monster attacks, each dealt with fairly easily, so they had no reason to think that this would be different.
The monster was, like many others, vaguely feminine in nature, purple skinned, and with a slightly equine face. The inner senshi, who had been in the park, arrived first.
"Public parks are for recreation and relaxation!" Sailor moon cried. "I am the beautiful, sailor suited soldier Sailor moon, and in the name of the moon, I'll punish you!"
"Likewise, the Sailor Senshi!" Cried her friends as they too posed.
Normally, the monsters that they fought were fairly stupid things, constructed for purposes of terror and harvesting. This one was fairly intelligent. And it started laughing.
"Hey!" Sailor Moon cried. "You can't laugh at us! Moon Tiara Action!" She lobbed her tiara, once her most powerful attack and now not much more than a quick way to start a fight, at the thing, which jumped out of the way.
As each of the inner senshi powered their own attacks up, the creature snapped its fingers, and suddenly mounds of earth sprung up around them.
"Golems! Get the Senshi!" It cried, before throwing a bolt of energy at Sailor Moon.
"Silence Wall!" Saturn cried, blocking the attack from the princess, as with blazing magic, the outer senshi joined the fray.
And a fray it was.
Blast of fire, water, electricity and energy danced around the battlefield, soaked up by the earthen golems or dodged by the horse faced monster. Saturn, Jupiter and Uranus finally went in hand to hand, which proved fairly effective at driving their enemies back but didn't defeat them permanently.
Mercury fell first, thrown against a park bench at an odd angle. She cried out, drawing Moon's attention.
"Saturn! Mercury needs help!"
"On it, princess!" Hands glowing purple, Saturn rushed to Mercury's side, healing the girl as best she could. But before she could get back to the fight, another Senshi fell next to her, Jupiter this time.
It took about 45 minutes of fighting before the senshi as a team were dismantled. Saturn and Pluto took some damage, but their additional magical strength allowed them to soak up the damage. Unfortunatly, it wasn't enough, as they spent most of their time guarding the others. Finally, enough was enough, and Usagi, wincing from a sprained ankle, yelled for them to fall back.
Saturn and Pluto were the last to leave, and saw the grinning monster snap her fingers again, disintegrating the golems instantly. She saluted the two Senshi jauntily, then stepped into a portal and vanished. She had collected no energy, stolen no artifact… just had systematically torn them apart.
It was a sobering thought.
One that was repeated more often than not, even after Usagi took on her role as Serenity once more. The Senshi fought hard, sometimes winning, sometimes retreating. Fortunatly none of their team suffered serious physical injury, but the mental trauma of defeat after defeat was taking its toll.
Pluto and Saturn worked when they could on their transformations, but getting rest and recovering became the orders of the day.
Which lead back to the Outers sitting around the living room. They were joined in short order by Usagi, and then by Makoto, as Ranma began laying out a new strategy.
The following morning, the three un-ascended inner senshi were at a shopping street, browsing around clothing shops and generally trying to be teenagers the next morning. Rei had been laughing at something Minako had said before she suddenly stiffened.
"We've got trouble." She said suddenly, pulling out her henshin wand.
"Ami, call the others." Minako ordered. Ami nodded, speaking quickly into her communicator.
"Hello, little ssssnacks." Came a serpentine voice. The girls looked up and saw a snake-faced man floating in the air above them. They looked around, seeing that the alley was quickly emptying, and turned back to the monster.
"What do you want?"
"Want?" The creature laughed, "Why must I WANT anything. You little meatbags have nothing that we, or our Baron, want." He smirked, "We're just here to DESTROY YOU! GOLEMS!"
The earth rumbled around them, and the girls were quickly surrounded.
"I think it knows who we are." Ami muttered.
"No kidding." Minako responded, "VENUS CRYSTAL POWER… MAKE UP!"
As the Senshi of Venus began her transformation, the other two transformed quickly as well.
"MARS CRYSTAL POWER…."
"MERCURY CRYSTAL POWER…."
"MAKE UP!" The two girls concluded together, and in short order, three Senshi stood in a triangle facing out. They began to attack as best they could, but as always, they began to take some serious hits…
Until a bright white light vaporized two of the golems from above, and Sailor Moon, in her new white and silver fuku, descended from above on feathered wings, a slight smile on her face.
"Hello girls." She said quietly. "Need a hand?"
Mars couldn't even find the energy to snipe at the girl, just nodded tiredly, cradling her arm. A ball of blackish-purple energy formed next to her, resolving itself in the Senshi of Saturn.
"Let me see your arm." She said, directing a shield around them with her spare hand.
"Two more!" The serpent man cried gleefully. "Then I'll just need more golems!" As more formed, the smile on its face dropped just slightly when Sailor Moon looked up with a devilish grin.
"Damn right you will."
"Dead scream." Came a harsh whisper, and an orb of pink energy slammed into the Snakeman's back. Sailor Pluto stepped up from behind, just as it was tossed forward, just in time to see a pillar of lightning strike the ground in front of it.
Electricity arced from the ground around the feet of the newly appeared Sailor Jupiter, blue cables of lightning coiling up her legs, around her body, and down her arms to become a gleaming blue staff, topped with a lightning bolt that seemed to pulse with electricity.
Jupiter didn't speak, just twirled into action, blasting away at two of the constructs, turning them into a mountain of dirt. At the same time, two other figures appeared in the midst of the fight, one with a gleaming sword, the other with a mirror which seemed to pulse with energy.
For the first time in a long time, the VERY one-sided battle belonged to the Senshi. The three inners could only watch in awe as their princess and the others delivered death and destruction to first the golems, then the snake man himself, turning the hissing creature into a pile of dust.
"That was AWESOME!" Venus squealed. Sailor Moon smiled at her, then turned to the others. "It seems you were right, Sailor Saturn." She said to the grinning red-head.
"Damn straight." Saturn replied.
Sailor moon smirked, then turned to the others. "Girls… get some sleep. Let the outers run patrols for awhile. We've got some time while the enemy regroups."
"Outers?" Ami asked softly. "What about Jupiter?"
"I was always part of the Outer Senshi." Jupiter responded. "I was moved to the Inners when Queen Serenity realized that her daughter was being put in constant danger when Metallia and Beryl began moving."
The other three weren't sure how to respond. Rei seemed to want to comment, but just couldn't find the words. Ami bit her lower lip, but nodded. The three quickly bounded off, leaving the newly organized Outer team standing in the battlefield.
"I don't think they're going to be happy with me." Jupiter muttered. "Especially when the realize what just happened." She made a quick snap of her hands, causing the staff to turn back to electricity, which danced around her clenched fists for a moment before dissipating.
"They'll be ok, Jupiter." Sailor Moon said. "Though their decision will be harder than any of ours, save Ranma."
Saturn shrugged. "It was the right thing to do." She stared off into the distance. "But I miss my… I miss my family still."
Pluto hugged her briefly before they all four watched Sailor Moon transform first into her Serenity form, then into Tsukino Usagi.
"I'm still jealous that comes so easy to you, though." Saturn finished, and Usagi smiled impishly.
"I'm just lucky I had a second form that I could already assume, it taught me what I needed to know."
Jupiter seemed to think of something, then a bright flash of green light changed Sailor Jupiter to her form as Princess Jupiter, a green evening gown replacing her fuku, her sigil flashing on her head. Immediately after, she was again bathed in light and then replaced with Kino Makoto, who had a grin on her face.
"Yatta!" She squealed, twirling. "It worked!" Haruka and Michiru followed suit, their civilian forms replacing their fuku in short order.
"OH COME ON!" Saturn screamed, pouting. "That's just not fair!"
She felt two arms wrap around her waist and felt a whisper in her ear. "I'm sorry." Pluto said, then closed her eyes, pink light surrounding her before first Princess Pluto, then Setsuna Meiou appeared. Setsuna regarded her hands for a moment, before allowing herself to shift to her younger form.
Sailor Saturn alone was the only one fully armored left in the small alley, but she at least banished her armor in place of the form she had adopted recently.
"You're all cheating." Ranko said, a smile fighting against the pout on her face, though real hurt tinged her voice. "Are you still… all there?"
Makoto, in response, raised a fist, which flowed with abit of electricity around it.
"I am… but I feel less powerful than when I first got my henshin wand." She admitted.
"Same here." Haruka said. "Its like… like this is dampening our abilities. I can feel it, and I know that I can break it and assume my true… my senshi form, but there's a wall there."
"Dampening…?" Ranko asked, a hint of an idea forming.
"When I ascended… I felt like I was truly connected to the seas." Michiru whispered. "Now… its more like I'm looking through a glass aquarium. The waters are there, still and waiting for me, but there's a veil in the way."
Ranko nodded, chewing on her bottom lip, her tactical mind working overtime. She felt inside her for her chi, which, though considerably more powerful than anyone else in Japan, was nothing like her magic as Saturn. She wrapped it around her, using her father's sealed Umi-sen-ken technique, and seemed to waver from existence. The other senshi gasped, before she reappeared, a smirk alighting her face. She made an odd gesture, and a wave of purple energy seemed to pass from her head to her toes…
And she went from being a willowy, auburn haired woman, to a cute, busty red-head that anyone in Nerima would know on sight.
"I DID IT!" She squealed. "Oh Kamisama…. I'm back!" She collapsed to her knees, tears of joy running down her face. She was still locked as a girl, she knew, but she had her real face back. She heard a choking noise, and looked up to see Haruka and Michiru staring at her with looks on their faces much like Kuno used to wear when he saw Ranma's female form.
"You… are…" Haruka couldn't finish, just wiped her mouth.
"What she said." Michiru continued.
Ranma-chan squirmed uncomfortably under the intensity of their lewd stared, knowing now completely what the phrase "undressing with their eyes" meant. She turned to Makoto and Setsuna, who were grinning at her.
"You're a hottie, Ranko." Makoto said. "Honestly, if I swung that way…" she blushed and looked away, "well… more like if you were available, I'd be all over you like a rash."
"Alright, you three, enough making Ranma feel uncomfortable. Makoto, we still need to move your belongings to the house, which will be easier since they'll know who you are now. I'm going to use this form to resign from work and pass everything to my younger sister." Setsuna commanded. "Ranma… Go home for awhile. Spend some time with your girls. Just be ready for a call if we need you. And don't forget you are always welcome at our home."
"Thank you." Ranma whispered, before bounding to the rooftops, feeling her ki answer her call again.
It only took her about an hour to reach the Tendou Dojo, where she touched down to find the yard empty. She heard commotion from the dojo and quietly moved around it, only to find her father doing an intricate kata in the middle of the room, her mother sitting in a chair watching.
"Your guard is too high." Ranma said, interrupting his routine. She moved to face him, smirking at his gaping expression.
"C'mon Pops, like you were really rid of me." Despite her words, any listener could hear her voice swelling with emotion.
"I knew-" Genma cut himself off, swallowing thickly. "I knew you'd be back, boy. Nothing keeps a Saotome down!"
"Ranma-chan?" Came a whispered question from her mother. Ranma turned and nodded, and was suddenly caught in a hug. "Oh my son! I was so scared I'd never see you again!"
"Its daughter, mother." Ranma whispered. "For a long time, I think."
"You're locked?" Genma asked quietly, bluster finally gone from his voice.
Ranma shrugged. "More or less. I'll get unlocked eventually, but till then, this is me." Most of the time. Ranma added mentally. More speech was rendered impossible as her mother tightened the hug.
"I'm sorry, Ranma." She whispered.
"I'm not." Ranma responded dismissively. "I'm doing a lot of good, and its better than dying." She made a throwing-away gesture and then asked. "Where are the girls?"
Genma actually grinned. "They're having a sleepover at the Nekohanten." He said, though his voice sounded leering. Nodoka smacked his arm.
"What's this about?" Ranma asked.
Nodoka blushed, "A couple of the girls have… well… decided to occupy their time… together… while they wait for you." She seemed uncomfortable with the topic, but Ranma caught the subtle meaning anyway. A few months back, she'd have blushed, but spending almost every day with Haruka made her much more thick-skinned.
"Oh really…. Hey Pop, is it alright if I unseal the Umisenken tonight? For the good of humanity, of course."
"Well…" Genma drawled, scratching his chin, a twinkle in his eye as they teased his wife. "If its for the good of humanity…."
"Thanks pop!" A quick gesture, and Ranma faded from sight, making Genma break into laughter. Nodoka tried to keep a smile from forming so she could reprimand her husband, but an ethereal kiss on her cheek broke her resolve and she too broke up laughing.
Ranma's girls were settling in for the night, Akane and Ukyo snuggled together in one corner, Nabiki and Shampoo in the other, with Kasumi between Ukyo and Shampoo, contentedly sipping a cup of tea.
"Ooooooooo…" Came a voice from seemingly nowhere, "I am the ghost of Saotome Ranma….. Sacrifice your panties to me or face the consequences….. oooooooo….."
The girls were looking wildly around the room, their hearts in their eyes as they realized that the teasing tone could only mean one thing.
"Ranchan!" Ukyo squealed. "Where are you?"
"Hey!" Nabiki yelped suddenly. "No groping when I can't see you!"
A disembodied giggle filled the air. "Catch me if you…. YIPE!"
Her arms around a shimmering form in midair, Kasumi smiled at the other girls. "Guess who I caught?"
Ranma released her ki-powered veil and appeared in the elder Tendou's arms. "Should have know." She grumbled, then looked around. "Hey girls! What's up?"
She was quickly tackled from five directions in response.
Seemed like a good place to stop, since I can't seem to write the sappy reunion scene in a way I thought worked. I hope you liked it, more to come soon!