Solar Dawn and Lunar Eclipse
In the dark underbelly of some distant plane of existence, a great evil stirred. This ultimate evil, cast away eons ago by the creators of the universe, smiled cruelly at the prospect of its planar bonds weakening. Soon, very soon, it would be able to send the first of its minions through the now weakening portal into the realm of mortals. It knew the place it would start: Japan, an island nation. Such a small target on such a large planet might seem strange to some, but the evil master sensed the presence of the same magicks that bound its power to this hellish realm. And it wanted revenge.
Far away, on the distant planet that the evil demon lord swore to overtake, a young teenage girl laid down for bed. Her long, glowing golden locks cascaded down her slender form and away from the two buns adorning her scalp. It had been a long strenuous summer without her Mamo-chan by her side, but Usagi Tsukino was more than prepared for her beloved's return at the end of this week. As she laid herself down in bed, she smiled sleepily to her guardian cat, Luna. Usagi had been through a great deal in the last few years because of that cat, but she was more than happy to do her duties as Sailor Moon despite the way she seemed always complain and shirk her responsibilities. She had learned much over the last few years about being a leader and taking care of her responsibilities in all aspects of her life, though not so much where school was concerned.
But now the day was at an end, the summer was about to do the same and soon, very soon, her Mamo-chan would be with her again. Nothing could've made her happier at that time and she kept an image of her beloved's face with her as she drifted off into dreamland.
Despite her efforts to make her dreams about her beloved, Usagi had a very different dream that night. She realized rather quickly that she was back in the homeland of her birth, the Moon Kingdom. However, unlike other times she had visited, she was able to view it in its entire splendor. Tall trees lined the courtyards crafted in the finest marble. Beautiful fountains created a feeling of tranquility that was infectious to anyone strolling by. Usagi smiled as she made her way through the various palatial gardens and courtyards. She loved the sights and smells that assaulted her senses as she leisurely strolled through the palace. She was surprised, however, to notice that she was actually much smaller than she normally was during such dreams. It seems as though she was now about the height, and age, of her future daughter, Chibi-Usa. Inwardly shrugging, Usagi went with the new look and continued on until she came upon a clearing marked off by a low stone wall. Inside the confines of the wall, a large willow tree grew in nearly the center of the alcove. A large misshapen boulder sat next to it, and perched on the boulder was a somewhat tall boy about Usagi's current age outside of this imposed dream world. He had long, wild raven hair tied back in a loose ponytail and he wore the armor of the Lunar Guard, the protectors of the royal line of the Moon. The young Usagi smiled widely at the sight of the boy and ran around the rock to see his face while she spoke. She was slightly surprised by a large black panther lying at the boy's feet across the ground in front of the boulder. The panther lifted its head slightly at the girl's sudden appearance, but laid it back down once realizing who it was.
"Geez Onii-sama, what's Nova doing out here with you. You almost never let anyone come out here with you...including him."
The young man looked at the budding princess before him and scowled, but the look never reached his soft blue eyes and his sister realized it. "You know that does include you too, Usa-chan. What brings you out this far tonight?"
Usagi giggled. "Why I just wanted to talk to my favorite onii-san, Kane-chan" said the diminutive princess through a wide smile and an accompanying giggle fit.
The young man sighed. "First off, I'm your ONLY big brother and secondly stop calling me by that infernal nickname, if you must, at least call me by my real name."
This caused a massive pout to cross the young girl's lips. "You're no fun, Kaneda."
Seeing his sister's reaction, an aggravated groan escaped the young warrior's lips. "By the Great Rings I hate it when you do that." He sighed heavily and hung his head hoping his next statement will cut off any attempts of hers to start a crying fit. "I'm sorry imoutu-chan." The girl's pout dissolved almost instantly as she bounded past the panther, her blonde pigtails flying, and glomped Kaneda in an embrace that would rival a Terran Amazon.
She snuggled into her own forced embrace and whispered, "I love you so much, onii-sama. You'll always protect me, won't you?"
Kaneda smiled and stroked his hand slowly through his sister's golden hair. "Of course Usa-chan. I'll never let anything happen to you." At that, he saw a wide smile spread across his sister's angelic face. "So, how was your last visit to Terra, Usa-chan? When you came back you were positively glowing."
Usagi giggled both at her brother's quick change of subject and the new direction of their conversation. "Oh, that," she said as she beamed an even wider and brighter smile, "I just met the most wonderful boy. He's the prince of the Terran court. His name was Endymion and he was so cute and so sweet to me. I can't wait to see him again." At the end of her story, the girl's trademark smile returned and Kaneda could see a rosy tint to the girl's cheeks.
The young Lunar prince scowled at his sister's recollection of her visit to Terra's court. He had heard rumors of the Terran prince being a bit of an upstart and a budding playboy and the thought of someone like that causing such feelings in his sister did not sit well with the protective Kaneda. He knew that if this went any further, he would be hovering over Endymion like a hawk for the rest of his days. Before Usagi could see, he reigned in his features to a look of amusement. "Well, I'm glad for you Usa-chan. I just hope you're careful. I would hate to see you get your heart broken." With that, he smiled and released himself from his sister's embrace and slowly made his way towards the exit of his garden. "Nova, come." At its master's summons, the panther took a quick glance over to the blonde girl before bounding over the boulder and joining its master at his side. Together, the two silently made their way out of the garden and back into the palace, an early nighttime fog covering their retreat to the castle.
Usagi, not entirely sure why her brother left so suddenly, curled up in a ball on her Kaneda's favorite rock and let a steady stream of tears fall from her sapphire eyes. "Why," she whispered to herself," why'd you leave me Kaneda? Did I say something wrong?" Usagi, silently cried until exhaustion overtook her as she wondered why her brother felt so cold when he left rather than the cheerful attitude he portrayed before his sudden departure.
Back in the realm of the conscious, Usagi Tsukino thrashed about under her covers, moaning as though in pain. Luna, her guardian and 'pet' cat, sat up on the corner of Usagi's bed watching her charge with worry in her feline eyes. This was not the first time Usagi had been plagued by nightmares in recent nights. However, when confronted about the dreams, her charge had been rather tight-lipped and reclusive with regard to the content of these dreams. Despite everything she tried, Luna could never garner any information regarding them. As she softly grumbled about the injustice of such a mistrusting charge, her feline ears piqued as Usagi had begun her moaning. The cat could see tears being shed, even in the girl's sleep. Her heart leapt for her charge as she continued to moan in agony until... Kane-chan......no, don't leave me......" The cat's jaw hit the mattress at that. 'No, it couldn't be. He wasn't revived', thought Luna. 'Oh, this is not good at all, he was always a troublemaker, and he hurt Usagi so badly, even if it wasn't intentionally, during the Silver Millennium' continued Luna's unspoken thoughts. While it may do Usagi some good to have Kaneda back in her life, the possibility for disaster would be great. She only hoped that these memories were not the result of Kaneda's reawakening. If they were, while possibly ushering in a great boon for the galaxy, they could be the catalyst for the ultimate dissolution of the Senshi as a cohesive fighting unit. That simply could not happen. She knew she would have to speak to Artemis tomorrow about this new development.
In a neighboring ward of Tokyo, two martial artists were having similar dreams to those of the young moon princess. One of these was the district's current chaos magnet, Ranma Saotome.
Ranma was confused. While that may not necessarily be new for him, the reason for his confusion certainly was. Here he was, standing in the midst of a rather gargantuan palace, by just about anyone's standards. While this was not in and of itself a wholly alien concept to him, the next was: he was standing on the Moon, looking at the distant Earth in the celestial sky. He was on the Moon, with no breathing apparatus or anything those gaijin astronauts wore on their trek here, and yet here he was, in full battle armor, and breathing as normally as if he were on Earth. The second thing which greatly confused him was that he was wearing full battle armor which included a lightweight chestplate, relatively simple shoulder guards, leg and shin guards with the accompanying boots, and arm guards with bracers. Everything was extremely lightweight, almost as if it didn't exist on his frame. The armor was all the same shade of smoke grey which bordered on being black. The only irregularity was the medium-sized golden upturned crescent moon adorning the top of the chestplate which he instinctively knew was there despite not being able to see it. At his side was a longsword, sheathed and ready for battle. After completing this mental stock of the situation, it became quickly apparent that this was a dream, as the body he inhabited moved away from him, leaving only an astral remnant of Ranma floating in its wake. Ranma, wondering what was going on, decided to follow 'himself'.
Crowned Lunar Prince Kaneda decided to finally stop contemplating his navel as he gazed at the planet above. As he began to make his way towards the throne room, he gave the servants and guards alike the same customary nod of their existence and that their service was not going unnoticed by the Royal Prince. About halfway through his trek, he passed through the aviary where he was sure to find one being whose company he tried never to be without. He found the sleek ebony panther playfully 'hunting' the various bird species in the aviary. Kaneda simply shook his head and turned to face the panther directly. "Nova, stop pestering the poor birds and come with me. We have to go meet mother." At his master's command, the majestic beast made a small leap from the boulder he was perched on and quickly fell into his position slightly behind his master's right side so that his head barely reached Kaneda's leg as the two strode evenly towards their destination.
Ranma had been following the Lunar Prince since he became an audience in his own dream. Yes, he realized quite quickly that this had to be a dream, a very vivid and realistic dream. When Kaneda reached the aviary, Ranma was quite surprised that while he was still frightened of Nova, he was not gripped by the overwhelming fear he normally associated with felines. In fact, it was even bearable. He wasn't sure if it was because it was a dream, or something else, but he shelved it for later. He was actually rather interested in where this was leading.
Kaneda, with Nova in tow, finished his walk through the palace grounds to a set of large marble double doors. The intriguing thing about these particular doors, however, was the fact that the intricate carvings were inlaid with various precious stones and metals containing eleven very distinctive colors: deep reddish orange that seemed on fire, greyish-black with a sheen of the most perfect steel, a blue seeming cold as the coldest ice, light yellow-orange that swirled with the confines of its gem, pure diamond as clear as glass, stunning crimson more brilliant than any ruby, strong forest green made from mixing jade and emerald, the shadowy purple of deep amethyst, a muted yellow topaz to show contrast and show the need for diversity among its more embellished counterparts, flowing turquoise as colorful and ever-changing as the sea, and finally the most suffocating black created from onyx and obsidian as a reminder of the void. Kaneda touched the doors lovingly. They had stood for centuries not just as an ornamentation or a mere threshold, but a symbol of all the planets within the system and how they all tied into Luna. Unfortunately, two of the eleven were no longer a part of that kingdom, but one day that would change. No one knows when, but it would eventually. As he entered the royal chamber, he noticed that his mother was currently in audience with another entourage. Doing what was customary for his station as the Prince of Luna, he respectively bowed to one knee, eyes foreward. After doing so, Nova took a sitting position just behind his master, the panther's head as low as possible. While the two prostrated as much as was necessary, Kaneda listened carefully to what was being discussed.
"Yes your majesty, what we told you twelve years ago remains to be true. Her Highness is still barren due to causes which our Healers have never been able to understand and know no cure. Karina showed her sigil as our Senshi shortly after birth. I know that you know, as do we, of the last prophecy made by our Seer all those years ago before our kingdoms separated. We respectfully come to inquire what you wish to do? Both Their Majesties are willing to attempt this venture if you are."
"Hmm...I see. So Herania has never recovered nor will she ever it seems." Queen Serenity bowed her head slightly as though pondering the next course of action. She knew well that her reply to the messenger would most likely decide the future of her kingdom and another which, while not militant towards her and her people, were severe isolationists after breaking from the Moon Kingdom. This was important indeed. But while her mind told her that this scheme would most likely never work do to her son's overwhelming stubbornness; she decided she would try anyway. "You may tell Queen Herania and King Helios that I agree with their decision. I will meet with them and will bring my son with me. Tell them that we shall meet at the end of the week. Please also let your Queen know that I am deeply sorry that she was unable to bear anymore children, despite what your Seer foresaw."
The messenger and his small group bowed respectful despite not wanting anything to do with the woman before them. Despite what their rulers thought, not everyone was behind reunification. "Thank you, Your Majesty. We will take our leave now and be prepared for your arrival."
Kaneda had stayed silent throughout the proceeding and was, at least inwardly, cursing up a storm. The second he heard 'King Helios' he had a very good suspicion as to the reason for this meeting. He knew the Prophecy well and he was his mother's only son. If the only child born to the Solar Royal Family was a girl and the Senshi, then the two of them were now engaged. Hell, they were practically married. Great. Just great. What other wonderful news was in store.
"Hello, Kaneda. I'm a bit surprised to see you, but any chance to see my first born is a pleasant one. How goes the training for the other Guardsmen?"
At his mother's acknowledgment to his presence, both Kaneda and Nova rose to their normal heights in order to properly address the Queen. "It's going fine, Mother, as usual. Though there are, sadly, more and more recruits who seem to only rely on their magic potential in training and not their actual martial skills. Personally, it's rather disheartening. However, I believe you now have other business you and I should discuss?"
"Why, yes actually. I'm sure you've overheard what the entourage from the Solar Kingdom and I were discussing. It seems, despite only being twelve, we've found your future bride."
Ranma shot up from his futon sweating profusely. What was that about?!? Thinking about what he could still remember from the dream, it seemed as though he mixed some weird sci-fi manga and his real life together to come up with that. Was it just pre-wedding jitters? With that thought he took a deep cleansing breath and visibly calmed as a smile grew on his still sweaty features.
The thought of how Akane and he had grown since the whole Saffron incident brightened his mood. It's amazing what near-death experiences will do to a person. After the failed wedding attempt, Nodoka made sure that both fathers understood that the two martial artists were now in charge of their own destiny with regard to the marriage and she brandished her katana often to make sure of it. During the year that followed both Ranma and Akane slowly came to realize how much each meant to one another, and the process was extremely anti-climactic to say the least. It was more a non-verbal understanding than anything else. No words were needed, no real acts were necessary. They simply found what was lacking between them and unconsciously fixed it. They were now a happy couple who had no real trouble expressing their feelings towards the other. Neither had said those three little words that any person in love yearns to hear, but both knew it whether it was professed or not, and that was what mattered. No, Ranma and Akane found small ways to show their affection. Ranma didn't walk on the fence as much, instead he was standing by Akane usually hand-in-hand. Akane would give him the occasional peck on the cheek or, if no one was around to spoil the moment, a good hearty kiss on the lips which he amply returned. Yes, it was anti-climactic to say the least. But both agreed that they were ready, and said as much to their parents. To say that the two patriarchs were overjoyed is like saying that Happosai liked women's underwear. The partying the two idiots did for the occasion lasted almost a week. Each night they came home well into the night so badly drunk that they usually never made it to the couch, let alone upstairs. Now, a month later, all the preparations were made, and all that needed to happen was the ceremony.
At that thought, Ranma checked the clock next to his futon: 2:45 am. The pigtailed martial artist sighed internally. Too late to go back to bed. So instead the resident Nerima chaos magnet got up and decided to do some very light training so he wouldn't wake anyone or get too lethargic for the upcoming ceremony. Because, despite popular belief, he did usually wear himself out during practice even if he didn't outwardly show it.
Just down and across the hall from our soon-to-be practicing martial artist was his bride-to-be fast asleep in her bed. Like her husband, she was having an equally strange dream that made just as little sense to her as Ranma's did to him.
Unlike the dream of her soon-to-be groom, Akane knew this was a dream from its inception. After all, how many explanations can there be for floating incorporeally in space? Her astral self seemed on autopilot as she gracefully glided through the void past Earth, past Venus, past even Mercury. There she hovered, in front of the great celestial body which helped give birth to her planet's inhabitants. However, she quickly saw she wasn't alone. Coming into view directly in front of her was a person of similar stature gliding from the Sun's surface. The only reason she wasn't surprised from this, was the fact that this was now the tenth time she'd had this dream in the last two months. Once again, the shadowy figure loomed just out of reach , completely silohuetted from Akane's prying eyes. Just as before, Akane tried to speak. While she'd never been able to before, she finally was able to find her voice. "Who are you", she asked the phantom before her.
Just as surprisingly, it answered. "I am you."
"But you can't be me. I can tell so just by the outline of your frame."
"You and I are one. We were never meant to be apart and yet here we are...split. You have lost something which you don't even realize to be lost. You, the greatest warrior who lived, even more so than Saturn...the bringer of her precious Silence."
"What are you talking about? Saturn? That's a planet, not a person! And I'm no warrior. Heh, even I can admit that."
"Oh but you were. Your might was unparalleled in our time. While we were complete, we had the capacity to defeat any opponent once properly brought into our powers."
Akane blinked at that one. All she could think was, "Powers? Now that's a new one."
The phantom before her just shook her head. "Perhaps a time from our life will jog your memory."
It was a hectic day for the community of Solaris, capital city of the Solar Kingdom. For it was on this day that their new Princess was born. It was said that the baby's cries could be heard all the way outside into the city proper, which was a good 6 kilometers away. Yes, the new Princess had a very healthy set of lungs. Shortly after her birth, there she lay, cuddled in her mother's arms, the tall woman's long mane of onyx hair greatly differed from her husband's deep crimson. Strangely enough, the small lock of hair that accompanied the new royalty had hints of both colors in it. However, that was not the only peculiarity with her birth. After finally nodding off in her mother's gentle arms, a bright light appeared on the infant's forehead. It shone like a beacon and the King and Queen saw it and gasped. On their baby's forehead was a golden dot surrounded by a thin golden circle. Not minutes old, and their daughter had already been marked.
As Akane moved to inspect what the happy parents had seen, she sensed she already knew what she would see. As soon as she was able to directly view the sigil of the star Sol, the sigil flared, blinding Akane.
As with her fianc e, Akane bolted awake, panting.