You can guess the crossover. Ranma won't wear a fuku, and also no tuxedo. He won't be some re-incarnation. He is just... Ranma. I want to avoid numerous stuff that became the norm in these crossovers but that actually is pretty stupid. I also will make it clear that while Ranma and the Senshi learn new techniques, I won't sink to the insane levels of the canon, where it became an absurd arms race in the later parts of both series. It's a common weakness in anime series that the power level increases to ridiculous levels. (In my opinion, DBZ is the worst offender in that regard in the anime world) I will try to stay on Earth and try to give everything a bit more realistic feeling (as much as it as it is possible) but don't worry... hilarity will still ensure!
Needless to say that I will slaughter the canon of both series, but I guess you expected this. Also I don't have any rights to both series, but I guess you know that, too.
Thank all goodness that this chapter took far less time to write than the previous two. However, due to me running out of things to write, it is a bit shorter than the previous couple of chapters. This one thankfully finally concludes the energy-arc.
Note that specific notes are at the end of the chapter, to avoid spoilers.
Chapter 15: The Music-Connection, Part II
"This is a complete disaster!"
No one said a word while they watched Sailor Pluto pace back and forth in the garden behind the Hikawa Shrine, which currently was closed, since the elder Hino knew they needed some privacy. They had all gathered there after Ranma's shocking discovery - a discovery which had made them speechless. After all, the Dark Kingdom had managed to completely leave them in the dark about their activities until it was probably already far too late. This realisation had not helped the general mood, since this obviously had been their second big failure after the disaster with Nephrite.
And of course they had to tell Pluto such a major development - something they had not been keen on.
Pluto herself was disturbed. The Dark Kingdom in all previous loops had not started to use really smart or unusual tactics. In retrospect they had acted like morons out of an anime, where the villans would work hard on being defeated in the end. This had obviously changed and she wondered if the end of the loop had somehow caused reality to ensure. She had underestimated them and now they surely had the energy to re-awaken Metallia, although she still wouldn't be a threat for the time being after being dormant for this long.
"When did they get this smart? We kicked their asses next to every time before," Minako finally voiced what everyone of them thought, remembering that the Dark Agency had been pathetic, to say it bluntly.
"I'm sorry to say this, but considering that they destroyed two civilizations, this was mostly their limited resources and beginner's luck on your side. They have now wised up to this and become much more dangerous," Pluto told them the blunt truth, seeing no use in trying to sugarcoat it.
This finally destroyed the last remaining illusions the girls might have had about being a Senshi. They all knew now, that this wouldn't be some kind of fairytale princess story.
Watching the girls trying to come to terms with this, Mamoru couldn't help but to shake his head. "I actually wonder why it took them this long to see this. I was under no illusion that this would be easy."
"Maybe it's because you are more cynical than them due to the way you grew up," Akane observed. "The girls are more idealistic so this is quite hard for them to accept, even if they in a way already knew it. Could be your age as well that you lost all illusions."
"Well, I certainly never had mine. Growing up with my old man on the road made sure of that," Ranma added with a slight hint of bitterness in his voice. In a way he envied the girls and how they still had kept some parts of their childhood innocence.
Akane shook her head. Even after being told what Ranma had to endure during his training, she still had been a bit jealous of his skill. But over time she had seen the price he'd paid for this incredible skill. He was just starting to finally have a normal life; still learning to act his age and mingle with people of his age. All these sacrifices of his happiness for skill now made her glad her own father hadn't been like this. She'd even accepted never being as good as Ranma for this.
"The more I hear about your life, the more I wonder how you managed to keep sane and didn't become a complete recluse," Mamoru wondered, finding that Ranma's upbringing was even worse than him growing up as an orphan.
"Mainly because I learned to ignore his bullshit and had other people teach me some of the stuff he didn't," Ranma explained, remembering the various people he'd met during the trip. "And speaking of my old man... boy, I don't even want to imagine his reaction. I'll get it for being so stupid and not use what he taught me until it was too late."
Ranma by now had recovered from his first shock, but the thought of Genma's reaction wasn't a nice one. His father would be deeply disappointed and claim that his training had been wasted if Ranma wouldn't even use the skills he'd taught him. Not a nice thought and Ranma strangely enough didn't want to disappoint him like that.
Pluto meanwhile had stopped pacing and faced the girls.
"So, let's see. We know it's the new music that's causing the drain. I need a sample of it," she told the girls.
Usagi held up a CD. "My mother confiscated that from Shingo. She certainly won't care if she found it missing, apart from Shingo we all hate J. Stone. And why was that stuff giving everyone in the house, except for Shingo, headaches instead of making them sleepy?"
Pluto at first didn't answer and studied to CD in her hands. Now that she knew what she was looking for, a very close look gave her answers. "Devious... It indeed is the music, the Dark Kingdom managed to implant a weak draining spell into it. It's quite unstable and will self-destruct in some days." She finally looked up. "Have you girls ever considered that being a Senshi also gives you certain protections that are not as obvious?"
"You mean, we are protected from getting our energy drained?" Rei asked, making the connection.
"Partially. Of course, a direct full-power drain would still work, but this weak one doesn't. That is why the music was painful to you, it was a side-effect of your defenses. Before you ask... the magic was created in a way that it radiates onto the people we live with, to ensure the loved ones of the Senshi are protected as well. The only reason why Usagi's brother wasn't protected was because he actively avoids her."
"Doesn't explain why it only annoyed me as well," Ranma threw in. "After all, I don't live together with Ami." He then tried hard to not notice the looks Ami gave him.
"Honestly, that's an enigma to me as well, since it should have drained you as well. Something protected you, but I have a hard time coming up with ideas what it could be," she told him, frustated that this was something she didn't know.
"Well, that's all good and nice but we should finally get to the important part," Mamoru said, finally losing his patience. "What should we do? Can we even do anything? After all, they already got all the energy they wanted."
"That's why this is a disaster," Pluto sighed, feeling her age. "They already got what they want. All we can do is stopping this from getting even more."
"Well, that blows!" Minako grumbled. "It's one thing to lose the day, but to get delegated to the sidelines..."
"HA HA HA HA HA!"
Everyone froze when hearing this loud laughter. They knew this voice all too well.
All of a sudden, the sky above Tokyo darkened, black clouds covering it, before a huge hologram of Jadeite appeard in the sky, looking as arrogant as ever. The group had fallen silent at this, waiting for what would happen. They didn't have to wait for long.
"I am Jadeite! I have a message for the Sailor Senshi! Come to the Darkstone record factory in Ota ward and confront me, if you dare. Tonight at nine! Should you decide to stay away..."
Jadeite's eyes all of a sudden glowed an angry red, before fire shot out of them into the city below, turning it into a flaming inferno! The group couldn't help but to watch the display in horror. How could someone do such a thing just like that?
Jadeite laughed and snipped his fingers. The fire vanished and the city was undamaged. "Heh, that was just an illusion to help your imagination with what the consequences will be. If you don't come to me, I will burn down the city for real!" That said, his picture vanished and the dark clouds with it, returning Tokyo to a sunny afternoon.
"P-please tell me he doesn't have the power to do that!" Usagi asked Pluto, having gone deathly pale.
"I wish I could, but if he gets the time to prepare, he can cause serious destruction with his magic," Pluto told her. This caused Usagi to turn even paler, before she ran to the next bush and threw up into it. The other girls also didn't look much better.
Usagi felt very shaky on her legs and almost collapsed, but was held uptight when two people held her by the arms. To her left she saw Naru - her good friend Naru who would go through hell to help her and whose friendship she'd thought lost after keeping the secret from her. It was at times like this where she was reminded of how precious a loyal friend could be. To her right she saw... Mamoru? That was a bit unexpected. Although they now got along great, she wouldn't have expected him to come to her aid this quick.
Guiding her to a nearby bench, they carefully sat her down.
"Sorry... It just hit me..." Usagi tried to say, but Naru didn't let her continue.
"No, don't... You don't need to apologise. I almost got sick as well, nothing to be ashamed of. It's the shock over how someone can be so casual about murdering people," Naru told Usagi, looking only marginally better than her friend.
"Uh-huh..." Usagi only got out to this, before looking to Mamoru, who seemed to have not suffered from these news. "Uh... thanks."
Mamoru shook his head. "No, not for this. I really couldn't have let you fall to the ground and injure yourself, Bunny, could I? That's basic human decency. Also... I don't like the idea of you getting hurt."
We really started on the wrong foot, Usagi thought, when seeing again that Mamoru was a very decent person.
"Still thanks. Not everyone would have done it," she thanked him again.
Pluto looked at this interaction with a small smile. This already was different from the loops, where Usagi and Mamoru had switched from barely tolerating each other to being a couple at an alarming rate with not much to back it up but their previous lives. Seeing these two starting to appreciate each other not because of the past but because of actually learning about each other was a good change. It certainly felt much more honest and natural.
"So, what do we do now?"
Everyone looked to Ranma.. That he had included himself like that in this problem made it clear he saw it as his problem as well. This was another thing that had changed. Ranma's mere presence - someone with not an ounce of magic, if one ignored the curse which was worthless in battle, not hesitating to fight together with them - had been very helpful to stop the girls from making the same errors again.
"Don't look at me. I know that I have to sit this one out. I'm not as arrogant as to think that I can do anything in this case," Akane said, after having stayed out of the discussion the entire time. "What? I learned where my limits are and this is too big for me to take on. I also need to help making sure Usagi's absence is not noticed."
"This is a really mature attitude," Luna observed, "I wouldn't have expected this from you after first meeting you. I thought of you as a little arrogant kung-fu girl back then. I guess I have to apologise."
"No, I think I deluded myself about how good I am. After seeing what Ranma can do and seeing what you are up against, I could hardly continue to do so, especially after getting sucked dry once. I was forced to grow up faster than others and I've accepted it."
"Well, if you say so..." Luna knew from experience it never went that smooth, but that was Akane's problem.
"Can we finally go back to the problem at hand?" Rei asked, her first shock having faded, making room for an air of annoyance. "Jadeite wants us and he made it clear what happens if we don't come. So, what's the plan? If we just go there we're as good as dead. After all, he's expecting us, so it's a trap."
All eyes went to Pluto, as if waiting what she had to say. "Don't look at me like this. I would love to help you in this battle, alas, I can not. The Dark Kingdom knows who I am and should Jadeite report my mere presence at the current time, they will stop treating you as a minor annoyance and send a big force to crush you utterly. I can only reveal myself after the Silver Crystal is returned to the princess."
She did feel guilty when seeing the disappointed faces, but that couldn't be helped. "So, you won't be able to help us?" Makoto finally said, not even bothering to hide her disappointment.
"Sadly, no. Do not get me wrong, I will monitor the situation, but I will only step in if Jadeite is about to kill you, not earlier." Pluto made sure that she had made her point clear, before continuing. "However, I can give you some good advice: do not rush in like fools. Plan ahead so that you have something to fall back on if needed... Now, please excuse me. I have found a lead to something that I was about to investigate."
That said, Pluto vanished.
"Oh, this is great... although I have to agree with her," Artemis said, before looking to everyone. "Not that you get the wrong impression, Pluto is the strongest Senshi after Saturn in terms of raw magical power, although she is hold by some pretty strict universal laws. It is really the best for her to keep hidden until the right moment, or the enemy is going to pull out all stops, which at the moment, and I mean no offense, would pretty much result in your deaths."
"I still don't like it," Makoto grumbled.
"I think what we like is not the most important thing right at the moment," Ami reminded her, typing on the Mercury computer as if to find something. After contributing next to nothing the entire time, this pretty much was the first time she added to the discussion. "What we right now need is a plan what to do. So, does anyone have any ideas?"
Ranma scratched his chin, feeling fine hair there. Drat, looks like I finally have to ask Pop to show me how to use a razor... He then spoke up. "I'm good at fighting, but tactics isn't my strength. Even I know however that if we play by Jadeite's rules, we lose. We should try to trick him."
"How? He'll make sure we are all accounted for," Makoto reminded him.
Ranma glanced to Mamoru, who seemed to get what was going on in Ranma's head. "He's only expecting you six, not other party crashers..."
Jadeite was watching the now silent factory halls from a catwalk on the top level. Most of the worker Youma had already been sent back to the Dark Kingdom, now that their purpose was fulfilled. He right now was waiting for his Lieutenant Youma to give a report on the demontage and destruction process, as well as the preparations for the little confrontation ahead. He was not concerned that the police had surrounded the building, nor that he was getting reports that the army was being called in. They wouldn't dare to enter and those who did would die.
Finally, a slender male Youma with sickly green skin approached him. "Master, everyone else has returned to the Dark Kingdom. We have destroyed or removed everything that could give the enemy even the slightest bit of information; our traces are erased."
"Very good, and what about the preparations for tonight?" Jadeite asked him, not turning towards him.
"Everything is installed and enchanted as you ordered." The Youma then looked a bit uncertain. "Forgive me if this sounds insolent, but why do you want to confront the Senshi on your own, Master? Wouldn't it be better to have a small army at your disposal?"
"You can think for yourself. I like that." Jadeite turned to him. "And the answer is, I could. I chose not to since Youma can not be easily replaced, while this building has fulfilled its purpose and thus I can use it to its fullest. Therefore it's no loss to the Dark Kingdom."
"I hadn't thought about that..."
Jadeite returned his attention to looking over the now abandoned halls. "I do have the home advantage here, so they will get many surprises. I just have to wait for them and keep out the peanut gallery. Now leave. I will wait for them on my own."
"As you wish, Master Jadeite," he saluted, before vanishing.
Now I just have to wait for them. They surely don't want me to torch part of the city, Jadeite thought, returning his attention to keeping unwanted visitors out.
...at the factory, near 9 pm...
The sky was darkening over the over the Darkstone record factory, but the area was far from being peaceful. The police of Tokyo had completely locked off a wide perimeter around the building less than twenty minutes after this Jadeite had put the whole city into panic with his announcement. Even the Japanese army had been called in to secure the area. No civilians should get hurt in case things got nasty.
However, after that, it had become a waiting game for hours, with no one from the opposite side making any move or even showing themselves. The only sign that the building was not abandoned was, that the little scout robot they'd used had exploded just when reaching the entrance. That had been warning enough to stay out and had started the waiting game in which they were constantly watching but didn't dare to do anything, fearing the possible consequences. This didn't help the nervousness when the clocks slowly approached the deadline.
Mostly watching the roads, they had no eye for the roofs - a common failing.
Several blocks away, the group consisting of six Senshi, a re-incarnated prince of Earth, a martial artist and two moon cats was waiting for the return of their scouts. It was very fortunate that they had two scouts that could fly, looked like normal crows and thus could check out the situation without arousing attention. They just hoped they'd hurry, since they only had less than 20 minutes left, before Jadeite would consider them staying away.
While they waited, Ranma again tried to adjust the ninja outfit that she - after all the curse made a nice additional layer of disguise - was wearing again. By now she wondered if she was fated to wear the blasted thing even more often. Maybe she should get something more permanent than this itchy thing?
The others were starting to become nervous as well. Tuxedo Mask was starting to pace back and forth, Mars was concerned about Phobos and Deimos - by now she had become really attached to them despite their quirks, Mercury was alternating at looking on the screen of her computer and watching Ranma (to check is she would still go through with it), Ceres checked the sharpness of her sickle, Jupiter was nervously watching the area and Venus was busy with talking to Luna and Artemis. Sailor Moon was seemingly doing nothing, just standing there, looking really nervous.
Finally, the fluttering of wings announced the return of Phobos and Deimos, who both settled down on a television antenna on the roof.
"All the things we do for you... I had not imagined you would treat us like spy planes when we grew wings. I feel like my wings are cramping up," Phobos complained loudly.
Deimos smacked him onto the head with her left wing. "Oh, shut up!" she barked in annoyance, before turning her attention to her audience. "As for what we saw... Not that much. The lights inside are on but we didn't see anyone inside, apart from Jadeite of course."
"You should have seen it, he looked totally relaxed, clearly expecting you. You're right, this is such an obvious trap it's almost stupid. It makes me wonder what he has in store for you that he doesn't even bother with hiding," Phobos added.
"So, what's your plan? After all, I'd like to see you return in one piece," Deimos asked them.
"The plan stays the same. The girls enter through the front door and then Ranma and I enter through the roof. I know you hate it, but Jadeite is expecting them and hopefully we can surprise him by falling into his back," Mask decided, looking rather grim.
"Just don't take this too easy!" Artemis warned them. "Up until now, Jadeite hasn't taken you entirely serious. This has clearly changed, so do not underestimate him!"
"We are not mothering you, we just want you all to come back to us alive," Luna added, looking very concerned.
Silence fell over the roof, and everyone nodded, before going their ways. The Senshi jumped down to the road so that they would make a public entrance, while Tuxedo Mask and Ranma started to covertly made their way over the roofs to the factory. The mooncats and crows watched them leave, not even bothering to hide their worry.
"I really hope they took it to heart. They'd been lucky up to now and I wouldn't be able to go on if something happens to them. All of them have grown onto me," Luna finally said, her heart heavy.
"We've lived through seeing so many of our charges die of old age, you'd think we're used to it... However, it again hurts all the same every time it happens. I really don't want to experience that so soon again," Phobos said, his normal humor completely absent.
Artemis didn't like the sound of that. "Let's hope it doesn't come to that."
"Sargent, someone is approaching from down the road."
The Sargent in question cursed. Not even bothering to look the other way. "Great, as if we are closing off this area just for fun. These press sharks that used their connections to be close to the action are already bad enough. Get them to leave."
"Eh, Sargent, I think that could be somewhat difficult..."
"If you try to waste my time...oh..." Finally turning around, the Sargent was greeted with all six Senshi approaching. While they looked downright goofy in their outfits, they'd gotten orders to stay out of their way. After all, witness reports and evidence from battle sites made it pretty clear that they were using destructive force and the mayor was not eager to explain deaths on the force with that they had gotten into the crossfire.
Many on the force felt it was some kind of sick joke that a bunch of kids in prissy, hentai-themed outfits was fighting monsters while they, who are professionals in their field, could do nothing but watch and deal with the aftermath. It had bred quite an amount of resentment, but there was little they could do. Arrest the Senshi for vigilantism or destruction of public property? Good luck; and even if they managed to actually pull it off, the public backlash would be devastating. After all, the public adored heroes.
"Call ahead to let them through. That's what the top ordered us to do," he finally said, barely hiding his anger. He didn't want them there, but the madman wanted them and not letting them through could have bad consequences.
So they let them through.
"They don't seem to be happy to see us," Moon commented on the looks they'd gotten from the police after passing them and closing in onto the factory entrance.
"Try to see it from their perspective. They have to let teenage girls in goofy outfits do the job. No wonder they are hurt in their pride. I've heard enough of that during my time as Sailor V," Venus reminded her. "I don't doubt they'd have arrested us for vigilantism if not for the fact that we are the only ones who can fight these things - at least I think we are the only ones."
"The only ones...yet I feel as if my my legs are made of jell-o," Moon added, voicing that she didn't feel well about the whole thing at all.
"Try to think of something nice, or imagine spitting Jadeite into the face. That should help," Ceres offered her friend.
"Anything on your computer?" Jupiter asked Mercury when seeing that the girl was busy with typing and using her visor.
Mercury let out a sigh of frustration. "Nothing. The only thing I get is interference, he must have expected me trying this and jams my signals." Putting away her computer, she turned off her visor. "Sorry, I simply can't get through."
"It's not your fault..." Venus started to say, but was then interrupted.
"Less talking! It's time for the action!" Mars silenced them, while they passed the entrance gate.
They'd barely all entered, when the roller door fell shut behind them, ensuring that they could not just run away. It was such an obvious trap that Jadeite had to be absolutely sure of himself to be so un-subtle. Taking together their courage, they walked further into the factory hall. No one was there, the brightly lit hall was devoid of humans and Youma alike. The only thing they saw were the now silent production machines.
"OK, we're here, Jadeite! Now show yourself!" Jupiter called, unnerved that Jadeite still hadn't shown himself.
"Ha ha ha! Don't you know that patience is a virtue?"
Looking up from where the sarcastic answer had come from, they spotted Jadeite standing on a catwalk at the topmost level, looking down onto them with what could only be described as contempt, mixed with a fair amount of arrogance. Ceres grimaced when she saw that Jadeite was armed this time, holding a sword that was too familiar to her in his right hand.
"I knew you'd come with the right encouragement!" he joked about his own threat to burn down the city.
"Do you want to fight or not? Stop being so smug and come down here!" Mars shouted, annoyed at the smugness that Jadeite showed, since it reminded her of the times she'd seen her old man doing politics. It made her blood boil.
Even from the distance they could see Jadeite's arrogant smirk. "Hmmmm... I don't really want to dirty my hands in direct battle. I have other means to accomplish the deed."
Laughing, he raised his left hand and the machines and equipment started to groan and shudder, ripping themselves out of their foundations while being twisted into three huge mechanical beasts that turned onto the Senshi like starving nightmares ready to feed. It looked like something right out of a horror movie.
"Ahhhh! Crap!" Sailor Moon shrieked, while the metal monstrosities surrounded them.
"Well, how do you like them? So much preparation just to give you a nice surprise!" Jadeite told them, while watching them with amusement. "It seems to have paid off. Now have a nice death."
In a way that Khu-Lon had put them through the wringer now paid off. Some weeks ago the fast attacks that now followed would have ripped them into tiny, bloody shreds right at the beginning. However, the little they got from her was already enough to barely evade death, only getting torn uniforms and bloody scratches. It probably hurt like hell, but right at the moment, with adrenaline pumping, they didn't feel it.
It was not only that they were not yet any good in hand-to-hand - with exception of Jupiter - but also that these things were made of metal and could easily rip or bite off their arms, which made them try and get some distance in order to use their magic against them. That of course put poor Ceres at a serious disadvantage, as she didn't have any distance weapons or spells, and thus had to be protected constantly.
As if to rub salt into it, it also seemed that Jadeite had worked hard to make sure that these things were more difficult to hurt with magic. One of Jupiter's lightning bolts had went right through one of the machines without causing any significant damage apart from two smoking holes. Not that Mercury had any time to find their weakness since she had to constantly avoid getting cut in two by something that looked like a big chainsaw.
"Either you die or you come out of this so wounded that I can easily finish you off. You see, I took everything into account!" Jadeite gloated.
While this went on, on the roof...
"Finally!" Ranma quietly cursed when they had finally managed to reach the roof without causing attention - not an easy task because of the searchlights the police used to illuminate the building. "Really loud inside. We should..."
Ranma was interrupted when all of a sudden something looking like an engine block was thrown through the glass of the overhead window, shattering in, and vanished from their sight.
Not even bothering with stealth, they both approached the shattered window and looked down inside to see a literal battlefield raging and the girls were not in a good condition. Their uniforms were badly torn, they were bleeding from numerous slash wounds and were covered in bruises. Yet they fought back as hard as they could, although the metallic monstrosities - which looked like they had been conjured from a horrible nightmare - still came back for more, despite the damage done to them.
Jadeite lorded over all of it from a catwalk that wasn't that far below them - only several meters separated him from them, so they could hear what he was saying, despite all the noise from the battle below.
"Wouldn't have expected them to hold out this long... Better speed it up a little..."
A big crystal spear appeared in his left hand, radiating dark energies. Jadeite then looked sown and spotted one of the Senshi having her back towards him while defending herself against the biggest of the machines. "You go first..."
No! No, you won't! was the only thought going through Ranma's head when seeing this.
She didn't hesitate to jump into the fray, especially seeing it was Mercury that Jadeite was about to kill! Jumping through the hole she aimed her foot directly at the base of Jadeite's neck. What Jadeite was about to do made Ranma even forget any reservations about killing for a moment - the thought of losing Ami forever was too horrible.
Her foot connected perfectly, but instead of killing Jadeite, it just seemed to hurt him... a lot. His spear zoomed away with his concentration broken and instead of Mercury, it hit the huge machine, which - not hardened against Jadeite's own magic - spectacularly blew up in a big explosion, sending shrapnel everywhere.
Ranma quickly kicked Jadeite into the chest, causing him to be thrown back several meters. However, it only seemed to make him mad. "You again!" Any trace of amusement was now gone from him. "You dare to interfere again?"
"What does it look like, jerk?" Ranma spat back, barely controlling her desire to pound Jadeite to paste.
Jadeite summoned his sword back into his hands. "I thought our previous encounter would have been warning enough to stay away. Seems I hadn't been clear enough, so I give you a reminder!"
Ranma had no chance to dodge whatever Jadeite threw at her. It felt like an invisible fist hit her hard, throwing her backwards and -sklliiiiirrr- crashing through the windows of the office and out of sight while broken glass with traces of blood flew everywhere.
Jadeite however had no time to gloat when another pair of feet hit him, this time directly into the face. Tumbling over the edge, he fell to the floor below. Tuxedo Mask might not have been good at martial arts, but slamming his feet into someone's face was not that hard. While landing, he just saw Jadeite fall into a big pile of boxes, sending unshipped CDs everywhere.
Right now his concern was, if Ranma had sustained serious injury when thrown through the glass and he ran down the catwalk to see if quick first aid was needed.
Downstairs meanwhile, the girls were trying to capitalize on the sudden destruction of their biggest foe.
Venus had finally managed to ensnare one of the machines with her chain, trying to ignore the pain that shot up her spine from her severely injured legs, while Mercury and Mars blasted the the monster at the same time. What at first looked stupid actually was a good idea. While the monster was hardened against the destructive powers of their magic, the strong thermal shocks of rapidly changing heat and cold fused all the joints shut and also caused the metal to become incredibly brittle. Finally Venus released her chain and blasted one Crescent Beam directly into the monster, causing it to shatter into pieces of junk.
At the same time, Sailor Moon had found a surprising weakness in the other monster. While Jadeite had certainly proofed it against magic, the concentrated and amplified sound waves coming out of her hair ornaments were not magical in nature. She would have never dreamed that her shrill screams were such effective weapons, causing the monster to fall apart. Jupiter didn't waste a moment to melt down the smaller parts with lightning in order to make sure it would stay down.
Ceres, aware that she should better let the others deal with the monsters since he melee powers were not of great use against them, carefully approached the boxes where Jadeite had fallen in. She was not in best shape. He left arm hurt, it probably was broken and she didn't dare to use it, she was bleeding out of many cuts and was covered in bruises while her uniform had been reduced to shreds that just barely covered her modesty. It probably would have fallen off if not for the magic gluing it to her body.
Holding her sickle tight, she approached, but all of a sudden the heap of boxes exploded and Jadeite stood there, looking angry. With his face slightly bruised, he looked even more menacing. "I start to get really angry." He then spotted Ceres. "Well... that should compensate me. And as you can see, I have got my sword with me this time!"
Fear rooted Ceres onto the spot for a second while horrible memories from her previous life invaded her. The memory of Jadeite chopping off her head and the horror of being fully aware of being a cut-off head for some moments, before the severe shock had caused all awareness to flee her.
-swip- She barely managed to shake off the horrors of the past and avoided a sword strike that otherwise would have cut her in two.
"Scared? Well, you should be!" Jadeite said with a slasher grin, before trying to chop her head off.
Ceres barely managed to get up her sickle to stop the strike. Her head was feeling as if it would burst apart and the horrors of the past were slamming into her very being. She could almost feel the phantom pains of her head being cut off. It felt like she could hardly breathe.
"Shut up... Just shut up..." she tried to snarl, but it came out more like a whimper.
"You seem to remember well what happened last time. Good girl..." Jadeite mocked, while ignoring what went on behind him. At least until he heard something and jumped aside. A glowing diskus barely missed him and sliced through a nearby girder.
"The peanut gallery, of course," he hissed when seeing that the other Senshi had finished off his machines and were ganging up on him.
"It's six against you and we reduced your machines to junk. Still such a loudmouth?" Jupiter challenged him. By now she knew why the others had such an intense dislike of Jadeite. "Even your sword can't even the odds."
Jadeite laughed about the threat. "Ha... that only shows how green you girls still are. Let me give you a little lesson..."
Jadeite just held out his left hand. At first, nothing seemed to happen, until suddenly a huge piece of metal junk barely zoomed by Mercury's head! The girls suddenly noticed all of the junk starting to float and then zooming towards them like bullets. Only seconds later they were in the middle of a storm of junk hitting them left and right, pushing them into a worlds of pain.
Jadeite laughed. "You see, I don't actually need a weapon."
The girls desperately tried to defend themselves against the onslaught, but it was simply too much and the pain made it almost impossible to concentrate. Mars went down when something heavy slammed into her face and blood streamed out of her shattered nose. Jupiter screamed when a heavy piece of machinery crashed into her ribs, a sickening crunch showing that some of them now were quite broken. Then something hit Moon at the back of her head, nearly knocking her out and throwing her at Jadeite's feet.
"Maybe I should release you from your misery," Jadeite mocked, raising his sword.
"Don't touch her!" a male voice shouted.
Before he could react, an explosion swept Jadeite off his feet, blasting him to the other side of the room. His concentration broken, all the junk fell to the ground. Jadeite however barely got up, before a fist connected hard with his jaw, almost sending him back to the floor. Finally getting up his barrier to protect himself from physical assault, he saw that it was the stupid ninja girl - although her partly ripped off and bloody costume showed that she probably wasn't in best shape any longer. He could also see that clown in the tuxedo helping up the Sailor Moon brat.
"You seem to never learn!" Jadeite growled angrily, while wiping the blood from his bruised jaw.
Ranma however was in no mood for a witty remark. Getting nasty wounds from broken glass did that. While she before had already known Jadeite was a dick, what he'd done to the girls - seeing them almost broken and bleeding out of countless wounds - ticked her off. "Bastard. Would love to rip off your balls and feed them to you."
"Big words, girl, but you can't touch me since you have no magic and these sorry excuses of Senshi are too green to get through," Jadeite said, before ignoring her, turning his attention to Mask. "As for you... from which costume party did you come from?"
Tuxedo Mask was beyond talking. Somehow seeing Sailor Moon getting hurt had set him off. His face grim, he slowly approached Jadeite. "You hurt my friends... you don't show even the slightest bit of remorse for doing so."
"So what? You want to beat me up with your cane?" Jadeite mocked him.
Deep inside, Mask felt furious, but all the anger was channeled into more: determination. he would not let Jadeite get away with this. Without him even noticing, his determination unlocked more of his powers and changed him. His outfit made place for the black-and-silver armour of Earth nobility and his cane changed into an impressive looking broadsword. He now no longer was Tuxedo Mask; he had put on the armour of Prince Endymion.
All his confidence left Jadeite when seeing this.
"WHAT? IMPOSSIBLE! He's dead!" Jadeite gasped, while taking several steps backwards. The sudden appearance of Prince Endymion rattled him a lot, since it had been so unlikely he'd be even there.
Jadeite's concentration had left him - bad idea, since Ranma didn't hesitate to attack him from the side as soon as his shield was down, her flying kick sending him flying against the wall. Jadeite was dazed and then barely got his sword up to protect himself against Endymion's sword strike. A second later his head would have been split in two. All of a sudden he was in the defensive. The next strike barely missed him when he dodged, instead leaving a deep gash in the wall where he'd been.
That however was not his only problem, since a fireball barely missed him and set a part of the factory on fire. He cursed when realizing that he'd forgotten the Senshi, who, while in really bad shape, were pissed off enough to ignore their pain right now. Sailor Mars looked like a wild animal ready to rip him apart with her badly bruised face, broken nose and covered in her own blood.
"Ah!" Jadeite hissed when an attack from a different angle ripped open his left sleeve, a thin, bleeding cut appearing over his arm. He'd totally forgotten Sailor Ceres, and her sickle was absurdly sharp.
Things did not look good for him. Behind him, everything was on fire, all the Senshi, Endymion and the ninja were ganging up on him and he had no idea what kind of power the newly awakened Endymion held. All in all, the situation had degraded very fast for him. had he been controlling the situation bare minutes ago, it now was out of control.
Jadeite had to make a decision, fast. And he did.
Holding out his arms, a shockwave sent his foes off their feet, causing Ranma to crash into a pile of sharp-looking junk. "You might have won this day, but you haven't heard the last of me. I'll give one a parting present!"
Jadeite pointed to a fuse box at a wall and a lever was switched down. He then teleported away.
What he did became apparent immediately when explosions shook the whole building and flames started to engulf every corner, threatening to lock them in. It was as if Jadeite wanted to spite them even after what had happened.
"We should better get out of here!" Endymion cursed, before suddenly he turned back into Tuxedo Mask to conserve energy.
"How? We can hardly walk through these flames to reach the roof stairs and I have no desire to be riddled with police bullets if we go through the front door! They know you, not us two!" Ranma complained, while looking at the wall of flames that prevented them from getting through to the roof exit.
"Oh, of all..." Mars, grabbed their hands. "Hold tight onto me!"
Both of them weren't thrilled when Mars dragged them to the fire wall that cut them off from the stairs... at least until they remembered that Mars was practically immune against natural fire (sadly not magical one, but she didn't know that one yet). As long as they held onto her, she could protect them from the flames. When she re-appeared moments later, both of them were already running up the stairs to get out of this flaming inferno.
The girls tried to quickly make their way to the exit, as the temperatures were rising fast and it became hard to breathe due to the smoke. Thankfully, Mercury was quite capable of dousing the flames that blocked the way, but one final obstacle remained.
"Oh no, it's still closed!" Venus cursed, seeing the still closed gate.
"Leave that to me!" Jupiter said, fixing the gate in her sight.
At the same time, outside, everyone was on the edge.
It had been bad enough when they'd heard the sounds of hard battle from the inside and something occasionally smashing out of the windows, but then all of a sudden it had grown quiet before explosions shook the whole factory, setting it on fire. The firefighters were on their way but everyone present was very nervous by now.
An explosion blew the roller gate open from the inside. If not for sheer discipline, shots would have been fired right then. Weapons drawn, they watched someone appear from inside, their shadowed outlines hard to make out with all the fire in the background. Then finally they recognised the Senshi, but even policemen hardened by years of service couldn't help but to gasp at how the girls now looked like.
The Senshi that walked out of the inferno looked like they had gone through hell. They were blood-splattered (mostly their own), heavily bruised and littered with cut wounds. The way they held themselves left no doubt they'd suffered broken bones. Their uniforms were in tatters and only barely preserved their modesty. Also, they looked tired... very tired.
No one stopped them when they slowly walked away until they vanished in the dark of the night.
"You are back awfully early, Jadeite. Was the battle really that easy?" Beryl questioned Jadeite as soon as he had appeared before her. She then took in the damage to his torn uniform and his bloodied and bruised face. "Although it seems it was a little rough on you."
"My queen, I abandoned the battle after discovering information that is of uttermost importance," Jadeite said, still trying to come to terms with it himself.
"What could be so important that you abandoned the battle?" she wondered, looking hard to him.
Jadeite pointed at her crystal ball, replaying the event in question from his mind. Beryl watched him mocking Tuxedo Mask, and how suddenly the man changed into someone very familiar, wearing the battle armour of Terran nobility. Her eyes widened when she recognised Endymion, although the man's real face was still hidden behind the strong disguise magic that projected the long-dead prince's features over it. The picture was frozen and she stared at it for several more seconds.
"Endymion... How is that possible?" she finally hissed to no one in particular.
"I harbour the guess that he was reborn as well. I felt it was of uttermost importance to bring these news to you right away," Jadeite said, himself a little surprised at the strong reaction.
Beryl stared at the picture for some more moments, before finally looking up to Jadeite. "You have done the right thing in bringing these news to me right away. Endymion's presence changes the situation significantly. Leave, Jadeite. Recover from battle before you help with the preparations for the awakening of our great Master Metallia."
"As you wish, my queen," he saluted, glad that he didn't have to admit that his surprise had cost him the advantage in battle.
Watching him leave, Beryl then returned her attention to the picture on the crystal ball. Endymion's sudden re-appearance had come out of the blue and that he was on the side of their enemies was even worse. Endymion was supposed to be hers, yet he again sided with Princess Serenity, even though she still hadn't made a personal appearance, deciding to hide for the time being and instead sending forth this bad decoy in the form of Sailor Moon.
"Endymion..." she whispered in longing. However, it wasn't the longing of a lover but that of a depraved stalker.
...at the same time...
"Ouch... ouch... ouch..." Ranma groaned while her mother was busy with cleaning her wounds. It felt somewhat less humiliating that this was done while she still was a girl.
Mamoru was busy enough with healing the wounds the girls had suffered during the battle and which their magic was straining with, so she was right now on her own. After all broken bones were more important than her wounds. It did feel somewhat strange that the family room of the Saotome house was transformed into a temporary sickbay, but it had been closer than the Hikawa Shrine, something they appreciated in their weakened state.
"Try to hold still, son," Nodoka told Ranma, while cleaning out a nasty cut on her shoulder. "This is quite the number of injuries."
"Well, I didn't pick being thrown through a window nor nearly getting mauled by some cheap magic," Ranma complained.
To be honest, she felt like shit, Jadeite had done quite a number on all of them, herself included, and she by now was itching on starting the special training so that she wouldn't get cut up like this again. Right now sitting almost naked in front of her mother, wearing only her boxers, while she was cleaning her numerous injuries, was bad enough. Thank all goodness she did that in the privacy of her room - not only for her sake but also to prevent distracting Mamoru.
"I do not think you like getting injured if it is that what you mean," Nodoka corrected herself, before starting to put bandages over the wounds. That should hold until they should be healed. "Don't even think about changing back until tomorrow," she warningly added, feeling there was no need to aggravate the injuries.
Ranma was annoyed at that, but unlike some months ago, where this would have been quite bad, she shrugged it off and pulled a muscle shirt and some pants on, before walking down the stairs to see how the girls were doing.
At the foot of the stairs she saw that the situation was mostly under control. Mamoru seemed to take a break in order to recover from such a serious use of his healing magic while the girls didn't look injured any longer, although the way they moved and their grimaces made it clear they still were in quite an amount of pain. The ice packs all of them were using were a good indicator. She caught a glimpse of her old man patrolling the grounds in order to keep anyone out.
"Everyone back on their feet?" she asked, looking around.
"Back on our feet: yes. Feeling great: no," Rei said, while checking her freshly healed nose. She hissed since it still was tender. Considering it had been smashed half an hour earlier, this still was progress.
"Until you guys stepped in, he humiliated us..." Naru groaned, while glancing to the family blade on the wall. After tonight, swords would make her nervous for the near future. She'd probably have nightmares from that experience. "Up to then he'd had all the advantages and we stepped right into it. What were we thinking?"
"Nothing. We thought we could take it but he took us by surprise," Makoto answered the question, while feeling up her still tender ribs, which had been broken during the battle. "It could have been worse. Imagine us stumbling in there without any kind of plan."
Everyone shuddered, knowing how that would have ended.
"Essentially we achieved next to nothing tonight apart from Mamoru finally having access to Endymion's abilities," Ami added the only positive of that night's fight, while holding a hag of ice to her still hurting head. "Whatever good it will do us once Beryl learns of the fact that Endymion got reborn. Good, Jadeite didn't burn down the city as well, but that was just us reacting to his threat."
"And that's not all of it..." Minako laughed without a shred of humor from where she was sitting, resting her weak legs and scratching Artemis behind the ears. "I do remember some cameras going off when we left the burning factory. Trust me on that: we'll make front page in all our bloody, battle-worn glory. Just wait until you see tomorrow's headlines."
Collective groans went through the room. No girl wanted to be seen like this.
Having heard enough, Ranma approached Ami. "How are you feeling? Everything back in one piece?" she asked.
"My head is killing me. It feels like someone is stabbing a knife through it. Thank goodness the ice pack is dulling the worst of it. I can't wait to get into bed," Ami admitted, allowing Ranma to hold her. "I'm surprised we got out of this alive. Part of me still needs a bit to realize it."
Getting that Ami right now needed her in order to calm down, she held her close.
Mamoru by now had recovered some of his strength and walked to Usagi, who sat in front of the open sliding doors and watched the night sky - at least what light pollution left of it - and the crescent moon above them. She didn't even seem to notice that Luna had fallen asleep in her lap while correcting the ice pack that was bound to her head.
She didn't look to him, but the expression on her face was clear; she was still trying to come to terms with this newest failure - after all it was nothing else but failure, since Jadeite had already gotten what he wanted before they even knew of it. She didn't break out in tears, but the air of self-doubt surrounding her was undeniable.
"It doesn't get any easier, does it?" she wondered, while looking at the brooch in her hand, which had changed her life so much.
Mamoru shook his head. "I wish I could say it does... "
They didn't say anymore about it, both of them hoping that that there would be light after darkness was more than just a platitude.
"Yes, this is the witches bureau."
"Eugial, I just returned from an audience with our great Pharaoh. He is concerned about today's events and has ordered us to double our efforts."
"With all respect, Professor, this is impossible right now. We lack the needed equipment."
"And this is why I call you. Try to find everything I need. Pay horrendous prices if needed, but get me all the equipment I need! I'm still just at the beginning of my research and need everything ASAP!"
"As you wish, Professor. I try to get everything over the next days."
to be continued...
"The Shadow Hunter"
Finally this arc is done, meaning I can again concentrate more on character development, especially since the next chapter is mostly about Ranma and Ami, hen questions are answered and a whole new can of worms is opened up.
I wanted to make Jadeite dangerous without him just being too powerful. Hopefully I managed to do so in a belivable way.