Author's note: Okay, I've decided to commit and go round 2 with this story. It turns out I'm a chicken of a writer and for better or worse (worse most likely), I don't have a Beta because if I'm forced to think twice about the story, I probably won't write it... I should warn you, the updates to this one will be much slower than One Trick Pony, as I hardly have any time to commit to writing this, but...I'd like to give it a try.
So, will you like it? Don't know, but if you don't, just hit the back button and look for something you like better.
Is it better than One Trick Pony? Maybe, maybe not, but I'd like to write a little more, and since you liked the first one, I thought I'd give it another try.
I've been warned that I'm biting off more than I can chew with this, but I can't think of any other way to write it. I have an outline, and as I've said with One Trick Pony, I will complete this...it may just take some time. I'll also freely admit that my knowledge of the Sailor Moon series is based solely on my reading in Ranma fanfics, so if I screw up some facts...oh well...for gosh sakes, it is after all just a story!
Positive reviews are welcome, but I've found that negative ones have little impact on my story, as once I start going, I finish it out as is, with very little modifications. I've thought a lot about the plot, and I think that it is passable. So hopefully you'll enjoy the ride, and not be too disappointed in the journey.
Setsuna Meio hated this part of her job. The Princess of Pluto had once again dragged herself to the Time Gates to do her weekly review for any events which might affect the outcome of Crystal Tokyo. She let out a tired sigh as she lay down on the couch in front of the Gate. I'd rather be watching a big screen TV, not this thing again she thought to herself. At least I finally got a really comfy couch. Five to six hours a shot, once a week, 52 weeks a year for 14,000 years she mentally tallied. It made this one extremely repetitive task. Oh sure, there were times when it got interesting, sort of like a puzzle to see which pieces get to be moved where to get the outcome she wanted. Unfortunately the novelty wore off long, long, long ago and now it was the tedious job of looking for low probability outcomes.
The Princess of Pluto had become quite proficient at scanning possible time lines, she scrolled through outcomes looking for significant threats as she sat on her couch looking at the gate. Nobody, except maybe Rei, actually ever stopped to think about what it meant to use the Time Gate. Oh sure, she could get a good idea of what would happen tomorrow, after all, there weren't that many temporal paths that led to that many significant variations in what will happen tomorrow. The problem was looking farther and farther ahead. As you tried to look into next week or next month, the possible outcomes multiplied at a geometric rate, to the point that all she ever could really do is scan a few and see if something so big was going to occur that it occupied most of the time lines.
This long at any task tends to put you into somewhat of a rut. Long ago she learned to do the most unpleasant task of your week first, then you could enjoy the rest of the week. She inwardly shrugged and continued reviewing the scans. With Crystal Tokyo hovering between 98 and 99 percent for the past six months or so, even the normally boring scans had gotten even more boring, but she did it still because that was her job, and if there was one thing that had kept her going all these years, it was her commitment to the job.
In the past few years, as the true threats had appeared less and less, she finally caved in to the guilty pleasure of playing with less-significant outcomes. She grinned as she recalled some of the less important threats that she had dealt with just for the fun of it. Sure, they only affected the odds of Crystal Tokyo by a half percent or less, but that did technically make them a threat (or so she rationalized). It was amazing how the smallest of nudges could have the most amazing results.
Take that time when she appeared to a younger Michael Jackson. She pretended she was a dream (of course teleporting in front of him helped that impression greatly). All she had to tell him is that it would help his career if he could change his physical appearance slightly. Wooo! Look where that one led! Or introducing that Brittney Spears to the party life that one evening...
Oh well, back to work she thought as she started reviewing the daily scans...
Monday...Nothing, no significant divergence from the current probabilities
Tuesday...Nothing, no significant divergence from the current probabilities
Wednesday...Nothing, no significant divergence from the current probabilities
Thursday...A .04 drop, not worth messing with. She had found that it needed to be at least a 5 drop for her to need to adjust things.
Friday, Saturday, Sunday...Nothing, no significant divergence from the current probabilities
She then shifted to the weekly scans, nothing popping up there either. Probabilities dancing within 2, which was just temporal noise. The Time Gates were good, without them she would never had gotten things to line up so well for the future. Each week she sat here and had the gates scan timelines and show her the ones that had anything less than a 95 probability of Crystal Tokyo occurring. Little did anybody know how close that future was. She checked the gates for the beginning of the end and found it still to be 6 months away when the first Earth Scientists would notice the new Asteroid out beyond Jupiter. It would take them a few weeks to notice the abnormal orbit, and then a full month for them to release that it might be headed toward Earth. Of course there was nothing they could do about Nemesis, and even with all of their preparations, they would only save a small fraction of Earth's population...just enough to seed Crystal Tokyo.
Setsuna turned away from the time gates and once again found comfort in the fact that at least she was providing some safe future for humanity. Sure she would have liked things to work out better than how they were going to turn out, but it was the best she could do, and she had worked hard...too hard...at making sure at least something survived.
Of course, anyone who has ever been involved with computers can tell you, when things don't work, it's usually for a reason you never...ever...planned for.
Riku Saotome was following his brother and sister to school. As usual, they were both walking the fence, trying to knock the other off as they ran along its edge.
"Come on up Riku" yelled Ranko.
"Yeah, Riku come on! What's wrong today?" Asked Daitaro, his older brother.
Riku usually joined his older siblings in this habit. After all, his father had made the point that everything could be turned into training. And truth be told, the fence walk was a fun way to pass the time on the way to school. Lately, school seemed kind of ... empty. He knew his brother and sister wouldn't agree, as far as they were concerned, school was the ultimate playground.
At 17, his older sister Ranko was doing well in school. All of them had a unique blend of their fathers and mothers traits. Their physical skill they clearly inherited from their father, but few people in Nerima would have suspected at how smart Kasumi Tendo was, or how much her children would inherit her talents. For that matter, few in Nerima knew how talented Ranma was as well. One thing Kasumi managed to teach Ranma is the very lesson Nabiki learned all too well…knowledge is power, and the less people know about you the better. Needless to say, it meant for a relatively easy time in school The one difference between him and his older siblings was that he seemed to take after his mother, personality wise, while Ranko and 15 year old Dai, had the brash personalities of his dad. Because of this, they had no shortage of friends at school, but Riku was starting to feel a little cut off from his more outgoing brother and sister. They may not have been going to Furinkan High like their parents, but even so, their High School was still pretty chaotic. With the large amounts of chaos that naturally seemed to follow the Saotome line, Riku was sometimes just forgotten.
"Nothing, just don't feel like it today" he finally answered as he trudged along.
"No really, what's been with you lately" his sister asked as she flipped off the fence to land in front of him. "I'm starting to worry about you Riku, what gives?"
Riku just looked forward, continuing to walk on, "Don't know, just tired of school...you know..."
Ranko hopped down next to her little brother. "No, we don't. Come on, talk to us."
Riku stopped, closed his eyes and rolled his head back. He really couldn't talk to his parents, but maybe to his brother and sister. "I..." he started. His siblings stood patiently for him to find the words. "I don't know, it's just I feel...kind of...forgotten. Somehow, you two draw off all of the attention, and by the time I get to a grade, I'm just another 'wonder Saotome'. People aren't impressed by the things I can do after you two, they expect it of me. It's even hard to find friends, because they've already decided that I'm different, so they kind of...stay away."
Ranko looked first at Dai, then back at Riku. She knew it was hard on him at times, she just thought he was handling it better than he was. Life was challenging enough being the child of Ranma Saotome, and one thing they seemed to all inherit from their father was his lack of people skills. Ranko smiled inwardly, well actually, it was Riku who was most like their mother, but he was the one in trouble. "Look Riku, we're sorry, we don't try to make it hard on you."
"I know, I know. I didn't say you did. You two are great, it's just you can't change everybody else..."
Dai moved closer to Riku, "Yeah sorry Riku, I kind of know what you mean. I noticed a little bit after following Ranko through school, but it wasn't too bad, plus I was the first male Saotome they'd seen, so their was still some novelty for them."
They proceeded along in silence. Both of the two older children knew what their brother was upset about, yet they could find nothing to say to help him.
As they approached their school grounds, shouts of "Dai" and "Ranko" rang through the crowds milling outside of the main entrance. Each child inwardly counted the lack of greetings shouted to their youngest brother. It was a painful reminder of just how right Riku was about his situation. Each of them was quickly surrounded by their friends who rattled off the days plans. They watched their younger brother walk through the crowd, seemingly unnoticed. Eventually he passed through the main doors and they lost sight of him. They quickly made eye contact and each had the same thought We need to do something, soon...
Ranma leaned back to escape a viscous kick directed to his jaw. The kick was followed by a foot trying to sweep him off of his feet, but he quickly launched himself into a back flip and struck at his opponent with several Amuguriken speed punches to try to throw the attack off, but his opponent continued to press the attack scoring two shoulder hits and a foot to his midsection as he made contact with the ground. He was ready for both and then the two combatants bounced, weaved and jumped across the floor, walls and sometime even the ceiling of the chamber they were fighting in.
Few of the martial artists in the area could have followed their erratic dance. Occasionally an "ooof" of air would escape one or the other as a surprise hit was scored. Eventually a small "ding" sounded and Ranma finally cracked a smile. This was his favorite part, the last 10 minutes of the spar were true anything goes, and that included Ki attacks.
"Moko Takabashi" he yelled as a brilliant orb of energy flashed from his hands toward his opponent, only to crash against an invisible shield doing no harm to the intended target. His opponent also launched an attack "Double Moko Takabashi", with one streak headed straight toward him, but the other one moving off too his right. Ranma raised his own shield up and the attack, like his before, crashed against his defenses.
"Nice try" he grinned. "You're getting pretty good with those late..." he began, before having the second apparent wayward Ki blast strike him from behind, knocking him forward and into the arms of his waiting opponent. "What the?" he asked as he looked around, wondering where the second attack came from.
"Anything goes, right Ranma?" Kasumi asked as she held her husband.
"How the heck did you pull that off?" he asked her
Kasumi produced a sly, but gentle smile. "I know the walls here are designed to absorb Ki, but I was playing around the other day with variations on your attack. It turns out that if you do this..." she held one hand out and a small sphere of Ki appeared. "You get your normal attack, but if you shift it ever so slightly..." she extended her other hand and a seemingly identical ball of Ki appeared.
Ranma stared at the two spheres and then raised his eyebrows. At first glance they looked identical, but as he attuned his senses to the two orbs he noticed a subtle, but important different in the second one. In his days with Kasumi in that other world, Ranma had dug deeply into the archives of the Amazons and learned a lot about Ki. It turned out that one of the reasons that different emotions fueled different attacks is that each leant it's own unique "frequency" of Ki to the attack. This often revealed itself to the naked eye as different colors, but there were fundamental differences in the way that the Ki was used.
Kasumi had managed to somehow modify one of the confidence-based Ki spheres and put a different "spin" on the Ki. His eyebrows shot up as he realized the impact of the modification. "Ah, I see, this one isn't absorbed by the wood, it bounces off instead! Wow, nice job Kas-chan".
Kasumi's small smile grew even larger. She new that when Ranma actually delivered a compliment, it was from the heart. "Thank you Ranma. I'm glad you liked it. I remember one of the Amazon scrolls talked about shifting Ki into a form that the trees couldn't absorb."
Ranma was already generating his own small Ki ball using Kasumi's new idea. He shot it at one of the far walls of their practice area only to watch it ricochet around like some kind of deranged super-ball, until finally he whipped out his hand to re-absorb the still careening shot. The walls of their practice room were actually the roots of one of the Ki-absorbing tree seedlings he had received from Cologne. Ranma had come up with the idea of training the trees to grow around a practice hall, thus making walls impervious to normal Ki attacks. This had the added bonus of regularly "feeding" the young trees, which accelerated their growth.
He grinned at her and said "That was a great idea Kasumi! I never even considered trying to shift the Ki that way. I wonder what else we could do with that?"
She walked over and hugged her husband. "Oh, I'm sure you'll come up with a thing or two…"
Just then Ranma's stomach growled. "Sorry…" Ranma quickly said.
"No, no, it is time for a quick snack." They picked up their towels and walked toward the exit. It was a clear sunny day as they exited their living dojo and proceeded along the gravel path to their house. The kids were at school, and the students wouldn't be showing up for at least two hours. She smiled with pride as they passed through some maples and their house came into view. Ranma had actually done much of the construction himself. It was a sprawling one story house with several wings from the main structure. The house was a combination of wood and stone that looked quite natural against the hill that it was located on. Kasumi was proud of how much Ranma had added to the home that was first theirs during the period they spent in "Yesterday". The house was originally much smaller, but as the children were born, Ranma had started adding to the main structure. He had already learned some basics during their imprisonment, but he started hiring experts in different fields to start the work, and then he quickly picked up the techniques and finished it himself. It still amazed her at how much he could absorb, people still thought he was a savant in Martial Arts, but Kasumi knew better. Ranma could absorb almost any physical activity and make it his own. He still didn't like the more academic studies, but when it came to anything with his hands, he was a true genius.
They walked into the kitchen where Kasumi started to lay out some significant snacks that she had prepared earlier that morning. She still didn't have Ranma's appetite, but the training they now shared had her eating almost as much as Ranma.
Soon the table was piled high with wonderful tidbits, and the two hungry Martial Artists quickly dug in.
Later that evening as they sat on a hill watching the Sunset, Kasumi finally brought up the subject that had been bothering them both over the last few months. "Any more of those dreams?" she asked him.
Ranma stared at the reddish glow on the horizon. He didn't answer at first, but then in a soft voice said "Yeah, had one last night"
"I thought so, I woke up when you were started twitching. Was it the same dream again?"
"Uh-huh. The same one. Whatever it means, I think it's getting closer. The dream seems to be coming more often, and more detailed."
She leaned her head on Ranma's shoulder. In a soft voice she said "Is it still about the ice? Or has it changed any"
He continued looking at the fading sunset and said. "Nope, it hasn't changed any. Same basic story, some type of huge explosion, I think it is in Russia. At first I thought it was one of those big bombs…"
"An atomic bomb?"
"Yeah, but it isn't. I've been getting glimpses of something big crashing into the ground. Real big. And when it hits it sends so much dust into the air everything gets really dark. Then after a few days it starts getting colder, and soon it's snowing, but it's summer time. I know a lot of people get hurt at first, not only from the impact, but from a lot of earthquakes and stuff, but it's the cold that is the worst. At first people just try to keep warm, but it starts killing off the crops, and then the hunger starts, and there is some food stored, but it stays so cold, for so long…."
She knew the rest. Only a relative few people survive. Ranma told her that some type of magical girls (probably the Sailor Scouts) help the few survivors stay alive, and eventually rebuild and create a fairly nice city, but so many people die…. She once asked Ranma if he should talk to the Sailor Scouts, but he said he felt somehow that they didn't cause it, so it seemed kind of pointless.
"Do you still think you can do something about it?" she asked.
"Dunno. Don't even know what it is that really causes it. But I've got a feeling that I could…that I should do something. I can't ever tell whether we make it or not, but either way, a Martial Artists Duty…" he trailed off, and she knew that he had that resigned grin on his face that she had seen so many times before.
The sky was darkening now. He wrapped his arms around her to keep the chill away.
"Ranma, whatever you decide, I trust in you. And if there is one thing you've shown me time and time again. Ranma Saotome…"
"…doesn't lose." He finished.