Missing Time (working title)
A Ranma ½-Bishoujou Senshi Sailor Moon Fanfiction story
By Patrick Nguyen Huu
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ belongs to Rumiko Takahashi-sensei, Sailor Moon is Naoko Takeuchi's. I make no claim to any of her work whatsoever, so don't sue me.
Summary: Sailor Pluto is usually unflappable, but when disaster strikes, and she is left without the support of the other Senshi, how will she cope with an enemy that would overwhelm her alone? What if the only person she could turn to was a chaos-magnet of a martial artist with more women trouble than he can keep track of, by the name of Saotome Ranma?
Author's Note: This story was partially inspired by Ozzallos's "The Best of Times" and "A Time Apart." So, thanks, Ozzallos, for bringing us these fantastic stories, and let's see if I can't try my hand on a Ranma/Setsuna romance for a change. This is actually the first non-canon pairing I ever wanted to write, but then I got into reading RK fics, and those of you who know me (and bother to read my ANs) know that I get easily distracted with ideas for other stories, so...anyway, here goes nothing.
Even the best laid plans can fall to subterfuge. That was a truth of life Meiou Setsuna was only all too familiar with, after all, she had seen more than enough failure in her fifteen millennia of life. In fact, she had seen it so often that she had made it a habit to have backup plans. And backup plans for the backup plans. Over-redundancy had saved her life, and the lives of her fellow Senshi, more than a few times.
But this was the one time she hadn't expected to fail. And not in such a spectaculara – if gruesome – fashion, either. If it had been happening to someone else, she would have laughed. The chain of events that had occurred that led to this point, the events that had shattered every single one of her carefully-prepared backup plans, had been so random, so unpredictable that even the Time Gates had given the odds of this particular outcome a less than one in a trillionth of a trillionth. In short, the odds had been so infinitesimal that she had thought herself very, very safe. For this to happen, it would have had to be the epitome of random chance.
That was an opinion she was quickly forced to rescind as a blast of energy tore past her to sear a hole into Mars's chest. The black-haired girl stood there for a moment in complete shock as she stared at the gaping hole in her torso before falling over, her eyes glazed over and unseeing. Mars was the latest in a long line of casualties that this battle had produces. Her dead body hit the ground to join those of Mercury, Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune.
There were only four of them left standing – Pluto, Moon, Venus, and Saturn. Make that three. Venus went down after being choked to death with her own Love-Me chain. The man dropped the blonde's corpse and grinned toothily at Saturn, but before Pluto could intervene, the tip of the Silence Glaive had embedded itself into his gut, and the man died with the same eerie expression on his face, a black and yellow bandanna fluttering from his forehead.
The jubilation over that one victory didn't last long. One of the enemy was down, but their other opponent was still alive, and this one was the more dangerous foe. The young man was something she would have called handsome under any other circumstances, with his stormy blue eyes and black hair tied back in a pigtail, but after watching him decimate the Senshi Setsuna could only call him terrifying.
She knew his real name, of course, but the events that had led to this fight had all but eradicated the person he had once been…much like it had destroyed the person Setsuna had believed she had been. Now he fought with a reckless abandon, no longer caring whether he lived or died, but very determined to take them with him to hell. Now he was known to them only as "The Enemy."
The Enemy whirled around Saturn's glaive, easily dodging the attacks almost lazily as if she wasn't trying to take his head off, then retaliated by grabbing hold of her throat and ripping out her windpipe, leaving the young girl's gasping body to die on the ground.
Then there were only two of them left. Setsuna could see the anger flashing in Sailor Moon's eyes…anger that hadn't existed a mere few weeks ago, before all of this had begun. Before their two enemies had started their personal vendetta against the Senshi. This battle had forced all of them into becoming monsters…forgetting about compassion and focusing solely on destroying, on killing their opponents. Usagi had been struck the hardest by this change, just by the very nature of her personality.
But after seeing her friends get killed one by one, her fear and horror had transformed into anger and hatred. It had been the same for all of the Senshi, until, in the end, they had become exactly like their enemies.
And the worst tihng was, Setsuna couldn't even blame their enemy. They fought for all the right reasons, even if they were sometimes blinded by grief. They had not caused a single innocent casualty. And they had continued to protect the general populace from the youma attacks that had been the Senshi's duty – in some cases even better than the Senshi had.
All in all, Setsuna was forced to concede, this was an end of their own making,
Their enemy seemed to have noticed she was holding back from the fight, while Usagi was continuously tossing out magic spells at him, and apparently he decided to leave her be for the time being…but she could feel his attention on her still, as if daring her to try something while he was engaged with another opponent. Not that Usagi was much of a match for him, Setsuna admitted with a grimace. Their enemy had taken on all of them and taken their companions down one by one when the odds had been two on eight. Now it was just one against two, and the only reason Usagi was holding her own as long as she did was that she had incredible amounts of power at her disposal in form of the Ginzuisho.
To be perfectly honest, Setsuna couldn't fault their enemy for wanting them dead. No, she decided, their reaction was more than human. In fact, it was their dedication to humanity that had caused them to go down this path, to actively hunt down the Senshi. It hadn't just started six weeks ago when Saotome Ranma and Hibiki Ryoga knocked on the door to the Hino shrine and asked for a duel with Sailors Mars and Uranus.
It had begun more than a year ago when Saotome Nodoka had been killed by Sailor Mars, and the Tendo home and dojo were destroyed by Sailor Uranus. With almost the entire Tendo clan inside. The only survivor was one Tendo Nabiki, who apparently was now running interference for Ranma and Ryoga in their quest for revenge.
During her introspection, Setsuna had missed almost the entire fight between Usagi and Ranma, but the outcome was inevitable. He had slowly closed the distance between himself and Usagi while crossing her barrage of spells, then…disappeared?
Setsuna gaped. This was something she hadn't seen before. Her personal precognition warned her a split second before he reappeared behind Usagi, pounding her back with rapid strikes. Setsuna could practically see the spikes of energy he was driving through the princess's body, and Usagi collapsed after a mercifully short time.
That just left her. He turned to face her, standing as casually as if they were conversing about the weather and he hadn't just killed off the Sailor Senshi.
"Just you and me now," he said.
"Yes." Setsuna stared at him for a moment, then lowered the Time Key. At his curious expression, she sighed and explained. "I'm tired. I'm tired of fighting. I'm tired of watching people I know and care for die."
She could see the understanding in his eyes, and continued. "I understand why you're doing this," she admitted, though it wasn't easy. "I would, too, if you had wronged me the way we wronged you. But I'm so tired of fighting. So…go ahead. Kill me. Send me to the rest of my friends. Let this end, here and now."
Ranma looked as though he would, his hands beginning to glow with energy, and for the first time in a long time, Setsuna felt fear. Rain had started, and the light drizzle from before grew into a heavy blanket of water falling from the sky. She was acutely aware of the fact that no water touched him, evaporating the instant it touched the battle-aura that surrounded him.
He took slow, deliberate steps, until he was right in front of her, then stopped. His right hand rose, and an energy blast began to form there. Setsuna held her breath as the swirling energy coalesced into a ball of bright blue light. It hovered a mere inch in front of her chest, held in check only by his will. This close, even if she chose to defend herself and slowed time around her, there was no way for her to evade it.
The two remained silent for a long moment, and Setsuna closed her eyes, waiting to feel the searing pain of death. Instead, she heard his voice.
"Can we fix it?"
"What?" The green-haired woman's eyes snapped open, just in time to see the ki-blsat dissipating in his lowered hand.
"Can we fix it?" He repeated himself, surprising her. This was the first time they had spoken without hostility, without being engaged in battle. And she was surprised at his tone…it mirrored hers. Of course, she thought to herself, he's lost as much as you have. He's fought as much as you have, and he's still the person he was before, deep down. He's just as tired of this…this shit as you are.
"What do you mean?" Setsuna looked around the battlefield, at the dead bodies of her comrades, as well as the corpse of his friend. There was no fixing this. There was no bringing them back to life. Even if there was, there was already too much hatred in between them to ever breed anything but fighting.
"With that magic of yours. Nabiki says you control time. Can't you just…roll it all back? Like, stop all of this before it ever happened?" He sounded almost…hopeful.
Setsuna shook her head. "I can travel back in time, but I can't undo it. I would simply be exist twice in that time-frame. And even then I wouldn't be allowed to interfere in the events."
"Allowed? Allowed?" Ranma bellowed. "All of this, and you could have stopped it!"
"No!" Setsuna shouted. "I never wanted this! This happening was so far down on the probabilities that it couldn't, shouldn't have happened!"
Ranma sighed as he calmed down. "When did it start? When did things go wrong?"
It took Setsuna only a moment of thinking to find the answer to that. "February 9th, 1996. One year, two months, and seventeen days ago."
"What happened? I don't remember that date."
"A new enemy appeared, and the Senshi lost their first battle." Setsuna sighed. "It caused quite a bit of hostility among them; hostility that eventually led Rei to kill the youma possessing your mother instead of containing it so that Usagi could purify it. The same enemy that caused the Outers so much trouble that Haruka, in a fit of rage, destroyed the entire Tendo home and chalked it up as collateral damage, just to destroy a single opponent."
"Some protectors of love and justice," Ranma snorted.
"Indeed." Setsuna sighed.
"You mentioned this being low on the probabilities. What did you mean by that?"
"For this exact worst case to happen, a few things had to occur…things that were so random, so improbable, that this," the waved her arm around the battlefield, "had a less than one in a trillionth chance of happening. For this to happen, the Senshi would have had to loose their first fight against this enemy, and Sailor Mars would have had to be beaten to within an inch of her life. Given our experience in combat and the numbers of possible lineups for the first contact, that was very unlikely. Second, your mother would have had to be singled out for possession by the exact youma that defeated Sailor Mars. Considering the general populace of even Juuban Ward and the likelyhood that Mars would the be first person on site, it was even more unlikely. Couple that with you walking in the moment the two ended their battle, as well as Mars loosing her temper when you tried to interfere…the possibility of this exact chain of events occurring was remote, at best. The events that led to the destruction of the Tendo home are even more random."
"So, can't you go back in time and fix it?"
"Even if I went back in time," she explained sadly, "events will play out exactly the same. The future has already been written. And even so, the root of all things is that eventually, the Senshi will be so worn out from battling this new enemy that they'll resort to almost any measures, accept almost any collateral damage, just to finish the fight."
Ranma was silent for a long moment. "So, the problem is that you were in over your head with an enemy so badly you'd do anything to win, right?"
"Essentially, yes. We've had bad encounters before, where some of us came very close to dying, but this level of combat fatigue is something we've never dealt with before. You must understand, despite everything we've faced thus far, they aren't trained warriors."
"They're children." Ranma's face darkened. "I see. What about you?"
"You're a fighter. You've studied combat. I can see it in the way you move."
Setsuna fought down a blush at the compliment. She wasn't supposed to feel flattered that someone who wanted to kill her paid her a compliment, but being acknowledged as a good fighter by probably the best martial artist of his generation still had an impact on her. "Yes, I've been trained in unarmed and armed combat. But I'm only one person, and I can't stop an entire invasion by myself. Rei, Makoto, and Haruka had some martial arts training, but nothing like what would be required to stop this new enemy."
"What if you had help?" Ranma stared at her intensely, though she could feel he wasn't looking at her.
"What do you mean?"
"You said you could go back in time, but you wouldn't be enough to change things. What if you had help?"
"I can't send two people back in time. I also can't change the fact that I will already exist in that timeline, so there'd be two of me. That's still not enough, besides, it would create one hell of a temporal paradox."
"I'm not talking about you." Ranma turned around, staring away from her. "What if you found…other help a year ago?"
"If I had help, and they were powerful enough to rival the Senshi…maybe." Setsuna wondered what he was getting at. "But where would I find that kind of help?"
"You're standing in front of it." Ranma produced a strand of thread, leaving his hair to flutter in the wind untied. He placed the string in her hand. "Give this to me – in the past – and tell him you need help, and what you need it for. He'll believe you."
"What's this?" Setsuna held up the thread to eye-level to inspect it.
"Dragon's Whisker. The only way you could have gotten it was from me," he replied. "Cologne was the only one who knew about it, and she's dead."
"There'll still be another me around. I can't change that. Plus, if she's as arrogant as I was…this is so improbably, she'll never believe me."
"What if you die?"
"Cologne told me about this temporal magic of yours. She says if you try to stop time, you die."
"Cologne also told me that the magic doesn't care who dies, as long as it's given the energy to sustain it."
A plan began to form in Setsuna's mind at the words, a plan that was so impossible and improbable that the only person who'd ever think of it was the one standing before her. "If I stop time…and then had enough energy left to go back in time…" She thought about the mechanics of it for a moment. "The backlash from the magic would destroy me. But there's a chance that it would be the other me in the past. But how would I even live through stopping time?"
"Simple." Ranma spread his arms and began to glow.
"Are you sure? You'd die, and I'm not even sure if it'll work. Even if it does, there's a fifty percent chance that I'll die from magical backlash, not my past self."
A grim smile spread on Ranma's face. "I'm already dead. My family's dead. Your friends are dead. Nothing could be worse than this. And if it doesn't work, well…then we'll see each other in this exact same place again. And then we'll try again. And again. Until it works."
Setsuna realized that he was right. There was nothing left to stay alive for, and everything to gain, if their gamble paid off. "Thank you," she whispered, for once loosing the tight rein she had on her emotions. "Thank you for giving us a second chance."
"Thank me after we've stopped all of this." Ranma was already channeling his life-force into the ambient air, and she could feel the super-saturated air around her.
"Jikan yo Tomore." Everything around them stopped, and he still kept feeding his energy into the wind. Setsuna felt the pull of the magic on her own life-force, but held on tightly, until she felt its draw lessen.
"Thank you," she whispered again, before slipping into the time stream.