1) The Characters and Stories of Ranma ½ and Sailor Moon are Copyright © Rumiko Takahashi and Naoko Takeuchi respectively, and are used here without permission or license.
2) No claims to the above copyrights are made by the author of this work.
3) This is a work written for non-commercial use ONLY, and is written for the purpose of the enjoyment of fans.
4) This work is the expression of the author, and the depictions of the characters of Ranma ½ and Sailor Moon herein are in no way represented to be a part of Ranma ½ or Sailor Moon as depicted by the original authors and copyright holders.
Beginning Notes: Read and find out people... I'm not telling you what happens before hand, Alright? Alright, good, because I'm not doing it.
The Dark Side of the Moon
By: Almech Alfarion (Child of Fire)
Prologue: Forgotten History
It was a shadowy lunar night in the capitol city of the Moon Kingdom, a city that never slept. The Lunar Palace was just off center of the inner city, perched on the shores of the Sea of Serenity and surrounded by wealthy districts. The tall silver spires of the inner city rose into the sky, and transports swarmed around them like so many gnats, taking people to and from their homes, shopping and entertainment districts, and places of work. As the city moved outward from this inner city however, the wealth seemed to disappear. Trash and refuse gathered in places, graffiti and signs of damage and disrepair became more common, and poverty and crime grew...
Two children watched the foot traffic in one of the many markets of the slums of the outer city from behind a crate in a nearby alley. Unlike the inner city, the buildings were shorter here, only being a few stories tall on average, and allowed the soft magical light provided during the long lunar nights to filter down to the streets. They were both filthy and wore clothing that seemed to be made from discarded rags, sewn together in a mish-mash of colors and patterns and both were bare-foot. One looked to be about eight years old and had her hair tied into a long braid that reached her waist. It would have been bright red, were it not just as dirty as the rest of her. The other looked to be roughly a year older than her companion and had her equally filthy brown hair roughly hacked off just below her shoulders and held back with an old, spotted handkerchief tied like a bandana.
"So... What's the plan?" said the brown haired girl.
"What plan?" returned the red-head.
"You know... The plan?" repeated the brown haired girl with a hint of impatience.
"You know I'm no good at that stuff. You think of something..." shot the redhead.
The brown haired girl looked over the market outside of the alley from her position for a second, "Umm... See the fat one behind the bread stall?"
Her companion cocked an eyebrow at her, "Yeah? What about him?"
"You do the 'cute girl routine' while I sneak in back and grab something before he notices..."
"Awww... But Nibbles... I did it last time..." whined the redhead.
"Just for calling me Nibbles you can do it next time too..." 'Nibbles' said in an annoyed voice as she looked at the shorter girl through hooded eyes.
"Fine Nabiki, I'll do it, but you better get something good. The fruit at that stall this morning was half rotten..."
"Yes, yes, Ranma... I'll try to get something fresh. That fruit didn't stick with us at all..." Nabiki grimaced at the memory of the flavor of their breakfast, as it traveled both ways...
"Let's just hope none of 'The Scouts' are around... I really don't want to end up like Ucchan." said Ranma as she mentally prepared herself to out cute a cartload of kittens.
"I told her to leave the pick-pocketing to me, but would she listen? Then she goes after what looks like an easy mark and it ends up being a royal and the next thing we know, she's on fire, surrounded by Royal Guardsmen, telling us to run, and we're dodging mana bolts as we make for the roof-tops..." Nabiki bowed her head in remembrance of their friend and how she had been separated from them a few days prior. There was nothing that they could have done for her. If Ukyou survived, she would have been dragged off to the dungeons at the royal palace and it was well known that anyone brought there was very likely to never be seen again. The two penniless orphans didn't have a chance at rescuing their friend when put up against the Royal Guard and their mana blasters.
"Yeah..." Ranma bowed her head for a moment as she remembered their friend as well. "Game time Nabiki. Better get ready, I'm going out." And with that, Ranma put on the most pitiful puppy-dog face she could manage and walked out into the crowd, with Nabiki following behind her. They split up quickly into a well practiced routine; Nabiki to hover in the area around their mark and to try not to look suspicious while waiting for Ranma to make her move, and Ranma to seemingly wander aimlessly around the area until she would stop in front of the bread vendor to look longingly at the food.
"Can I help you miss?" said the large man at the stall.
"Um... How... How much is a loaf of bread?" replied Ranma in a well practiced act. This was Nabiki's cue to sneak behind the counter. Now all Ranma needed to do was stall and make sure that she held his attention for her partner to sneak back out unnoticed.
"Well that depends on what kind you want. We've got flat-breads which are between twenty and twenty-five lunas, Spice-breads which are anywhere from thirty five to forty depending on the spices, and some Grain-breads which are anywhere from fifteen to fifty. Take your pick" he said, gesturing over his inventory, pointing out the different breads available. He doubted that the girl would be able to buy anything over twenty lunas, judging by the state of her clothes, but he saw quite a few poor people come to the market for food and figured that her parents had sent her to get something for supper. And besides, she just looked so pitiful, with her dirt smeared face and that pout and the big eyes...
"I... I'd like some wheat... That's the cheapest right?" the man nodded, "Then I'll take some of that." Ranma reached into her pockets and felt around for a few seconds, and then she started patting herself down, slowly appearing to become more and more panicked.
"What's wrong miss?"
The dirty, red-haired girl started to cry, and rather convincingly too. "I... I s-seem to have d-dropped my m-money s-somewhere. M-Mama's going to be s-so m-mad that I l-lost it. I... I'm s-sorry, b-but I c-can't pay f-for the bread... I... I g-guess I'll have t-to go now..."
"No, no... Don't worry. You can have it..." The man was caught, hook, line, and sinker. Now all Ranma needed to do was real in the fish. Or bread, as it were.
"No, no... Y-you don't have to... I... I'll just g-go home n-now... M-mama's g-going to b-be home soon, a-and I n-need to... to t-tell her I l-lost the money..." Tears were streaming down her face as she started to turn away. The man looked on, pitying the poor girl. He didn't notice Nabiki sneaking behind him for the second time, making good on the distraction her friend was providing.
"Wait... I... I insist... Take the bread. It's hard times on everyone here... Just... Just don't lose your money next time, OK?" The vendor smiled at the crying girl and held out a small loaf of wheat bread for her.
Ranma meekly took the bread and mumbled a thank you to the man before walking away, but on the inside she was grinning like an idiot. 'SUCKER!' A few minutes later she met up with Nabiki in the alley they had been originally hiding in. "So... you get anything good?" She asked, dropping her act completely and breaking into a wide grin.
Nabiki grinned in return, "Yes I did actually... That was quite the performance you put on." She started walking towards the other end of the alley, shifting through the contents of a bag she hadn't had before, and handed Ranma a lump of something brown.
Ranma smiled as she stuffed the loaf of bread she had coned out of the vendor into her pocket in favor of the offered food. "Ohhh... Curry bread... Hey... Where'd you get the bag?" she asked.
"He had them under the counter so I grabbed one to put the food into." The older girl said as she pulled out a piece of bread for herself and tore off a chunk with her teeth. She finished chewing and swallowed before continuing by holding up a wallet, "I also got this..."
"Oh? And how much did he have on him?"
"Not much... we might be able to buy shoes though..." Nabiki sighed as she slipped the wallet into the bag... her feet were used to the bare pavement, but it was cold in the city, especially when they were turned away from the sun like they were now, and food was easy enough to get without money.
"Well that'll be – Eeek!" Ranma screamed out as she felt a hand close on the back of her shirt and hoist her into the air. Nabiki let out a similar scream and barely managed to hold onto the bag and its contents as she was lifted off the ground as well.
"Well, well, well... what do we have here?" said the scratchy male voice of the person who had grabbed them. "A couple of con artists and thieves I think... What do you think Ron?"
"Ron" replied in a less gravelly voice, but it held just as much menace as his partner "I think we got ourselves a couple of street kids who thought that just cuz their poor means they can take what they want."
"Well then... it's lucky we found you... You see, even poor kids need to know what's what and it's part of our job to show them." Ron chuckled darkly in the background...
By now Ranma had managed to turn her head enough to get a look at her captor's shirt and saw the crescent moon badge pinned to his shoulder. 'Oh hell, oh shit, oh FUCK! Silver Moon Military! We gota get out of here! If they don't kill us, they'll probably take us to the prisons...' Ranma's panicked thought process froze when she heard what "Ron" said next.
"I'll take the redhead Sam. You like em' a little older anyway, right?" Ranma could hear the leer the man was giving her in his voice. It wasn't a pleasant feeling. She looked over at Nabiki to see if she had a plan, but her friend was wide eyed and seemed just as scared as her.
"Sam" leaned in close to whisper into their ears, "Now there is one thing that you two can do for us that'll make us forget that we ever saw ya'... and you can either do it the easy way, or the hard way... your choice."
Instinct born from living on the streets for as long as she could remember kicked in and Ranma kicked her foot backwards and managed to score a lucky shot. He dropped both of them and folded over cursing while clutching his groin, but Nabiki was stunned when she hit the ground. Ranma hadn't fared much better, but she managed to roll onto her feet only to see one man on the ground in the fetal position and the other pointing his mana pistol at her, "You little BITCH!"
Instinct kicked into high gear again as she rolled out of the way of the burning pure magical energy that was being fired at her. Her panic was rising as the shots came closer and closer to hitting her when she felt something rise up within her. Suddenly everything around her started to lose its color; shadows merged with light and colors faded into grays, blacks and whites. The strange thing was that it seemed perfectly natural to her, as though this was how things were supposed to be. This seemed to extend to either end of the alley, where she could see normal light fading into the strange grey light, but the normal light seemed wrong to her for some reason...
"What the Fuck?" the man who had been shooting at her stopped and was looking around as though he were blind. "What'd you do you little bitch! Show yourself!" Ranma couldn't understand... she could see him just fine. Better than fine actually...
In the confusion Nabiki had recovered from her fall. She was feeling around blindly, adding more confusion to what Ranma was feeling already, "Ranma! Where the hell are you! What's going on! I can't see a thing!" Her voice was panicked and she was clutching the bag with the bread like her life depended on it.
Ranma ran over to her friend and grabbed her hand saying, "I'm right here Nabs! Come On! Let's get out of here!" and she started pulling the older girl towards the mouth of the alley and away from the still fumbling Silver Moon Military personnel.
"How the fuck can you know where we're going? I can't see shit!" yelled Nabiki as they reached the edge of the strange light.
"What are you talking about? I could see just fine!" They were running down the nearly deserted street outside of the alley, dodging through the few people that were there and over and under the occasional cart or street vendor as they tried to put as much distance between them and the alley as possible.
"It was PITCH BLACK in there! I couldn't see my hand if I pressed it against my eye, and you say you could see just FINE! I don't believe you!" Nabiki saw a stack of crates against a nearby wall and signaled to Ranma, who nodded and changed course to head straight for them, where both of the girls used the makeshift stairway to climb to the low roof of the building next to them, whereupon they started roof-hopping to gain ground even faster.
"I'm telling you Nabs! I could see just fine! One second I was dodging mana, the next everything had gone all grey and it was like he couldn't see!"
"I couldn't see! AND DON'T CALL ME NABS!" yelled Nabiki as they made a jump to a higher roof.
"You there! Stop in the Name of the Queen!" shouted a third voice. It was female, and held an edge to it that suggested that if they didn't obey, they would experience unpleasant things. Ranma and Nabiki froze. There were only a few people who said that, and they were the last people you wanted to run into with a bagful of bread, and someone else's wallet, while running over the rooftops.
They slowly turned to see the image of Sailors Mars and Jupiter running towards them over the rooftops and the look on their faces said that they would as soon ask questions as kill them. "RUN!" Nabiki shouted and grabbed Ranma's hand and started running away from the Senshi. Ranma quickly regained her senses and started running as well.
"It's just one of those days isn't it!" shouted Ranma as they made their way across the rooftops as quickly as they could. Years of experience running over these roofs allowed them to use familiar terrain to their advantage and keep the Senshi from catching up to them too quickly.
That is until... "BURNIGN MANDALA!" shouted Sailor Mars and magical fire flew downrange towards the running girls. Ranma had the benefit of being behind a chimney when the fire hit, but Nabiki had had just enough time to turn around, wide-eyed as the fire struck her full force. Both Sailor Scouts stopped to wait for the pair to either run or for the smoke to clear.
"Nabiki!" Ranma shouted as she saw her friend engulfed in flames from behind her cover as heat and flame rushed past. 'She's... She's dead! First Kas-chan and Akane-chan when they got sick, then Ucchan when the guards took her and now Nabiki to The Scouts... I'm the only one that's left... I'm all allo-' Her thoughts were cut short when she heard a coughing sound coming from the smoke where Nabiki had been before the fire had hit her.
"Right here Ranma..." Nabiki walked through the smoke and into Ranma's line of sight. She thought she saw a fading circular mark on the taller girl's forehead but couldn't quite tell what it was if it had been there at all. She was fine... Not a scratch or burn on her, and her clothes were only a little singed, despite the fact that she had just taken magical fire to the face. "I guess I'm not the only one who doesn't know what's going on today..."
Ranma could only nod, her eyes wide in disbelief, as she stared at her still alive friend. It was impossible... Just like it was impossible for her to see when no one else seemed to be able to... She grabbed the older girl into a backbreaking hug and cried softly into her shoulder, while Nabiki stroked her hair. The smoke was beginning to clear when they let go of each other. They heard voices from outside the cloud.
"You see them Mars?"
"No Jupiter, I don't. But they haven't come out yet so they must still be in there."
"What should we do when we see them? I think you hit the tall one. If she's dead then we'll have a mess on our hands."
"No we won't. There just a couple of street kids. Saw them a couple of days ago when one of their friends tried to pick my pocket but I lost them because I needed to stay with the patrol."
"So what? We just kill them and say it was an accident?"
"That's exactly what we do... No one will miss them anyway."
"Right. Wait! There They Are! SPARKLING WIDE PRESSURE!"
Ranma and Nabiki had been quietly making their way to the far edge of the smoke cloud as this conversation had been going on, but just as they had reached it, they had been spotted and the attack launched. The moment Ranma had heard the word "Wait!" something had told her to grab onto Nabiki for dear life. Time seemed to slow down for the girls as the lightning flashed towards them. Ranma squeezed her eyes shut and waited for the inevitable. Suddenly Ranma felt that rising sensation again and just as suddenly, she felt like she was everywhere and nowhere at the same time... and then the sensation stopped.
When she opened her eyes she still held Nabiki in a death grip, but they were somehow on a different rooftop, and judging by the scenery, they were on the other side of the city from where they had been. Nabiki was staring at her forehead with wide eyes before they heard the voice.
"Right on time... would you two mind coming with me for a while?"
Nabiki saw the lightning coming in and knew that this was the end. Ranma had grabbed her in a death grip and had her eyes closed tight, when suddenly Nabiki felt like she was being pulled somewhere and her vision blurred into a kaleidoscope of colors, but it wasn't a pleasant feeling. It was a sensation of being dragged behind something that was equally everywhere and nowhere all at the same time but was still somehow moving all the same. Suddenly, the feeling stopped and her vision cleared to reveal a rooftop she knew to be on the other side of the city. But that wasn't what held her attention.
What held Nabiki's attention instead of the impossibility of being on one side of the city one moment and the other the next was the golden symbol rapidly fading from her young friend's forehead. It was a circle with a line coming straight out of the top and an oblong shape going upwards at an angle from about the middle of the line. If she used her imagination a little, it looked kind of like an apple with a single leaf coming off of the stem. A voice broke her musings.
"Right on time... would you two mind coming with me for a while?"
Setsuna Meiou, I.E. Sailor Pluto, was not having a good century. She equated herself to the Senshi equivalent of the mother who told her children to behave while she went out to the store, only to return and find that the whole house was a war zone... Only she wasn't a mother, despite having been alive for a thousand years before the first bio domes went up on the moon, the first celestial body to be colonized by what was then known as the "Earth Coalition", and appointed as the Guardian of Time by the First Queen of the Moon, and later her friend, Serenity I, a thousand years after that. Nor was her house a mess... It was an immaculately clean palace perched on a bluff near the banks of the Styx River on Planet Pluto.
She either needed more time to fix her mistake, an interesting concept coming from the "Time Senshi", or she needed to activate her final contingency. She wanted to avoid that, but if things kept degrading as they were it would be necessary. She was standing at the gates of time, trying to back-track events to figure out what had gone wrong when, when she felt something through them that disturbed her. It was a concentrated point of chaos energy. She hated chaos energy because it interfered with how the gates worked, making things random and all that good stuff, but there was nothing she could do about it seeing as chaos was a necessary part of the function of the universe. It wasn't very powerful though... and it was in the lunar capital.
This gave her pause. Part of the reason she was here at the gates looking for something to prevent the contingency plan going into effect was because the reigning "Queen Serenity" three centuries or so back had tried to use the Ginzuishou to stamp out chaos in the system and create a "perfect order"... It had sort-of worked, chaos energy disappeared almost instantly anywhere closer than seventy-five AU's to the sun, and it didn't even register when on the moon... but people were a random factor in and of themselves; so she decided to use overwhelming military force to impose order on the system. The result had been a dictatorial government that attempted to control how people lived their lives, where only the rich stayed rich and the poor got poorer. So what would cause a chaos node even this weak to survive this long in the capital city of all places?
Looking closer she noticed another energy signature, slightly stronger than the chaos energy, close by. Curious, she tuned the gates to focus on this second energy, not being able to focus directly on a chaotic epicenter even if she wanted to. What she found surprised her and then made her smile. 'I thought they were all dead... but if that's there then could that chaos be... Wait! I can't get my hopes up... I don't know enough. Time for a little on sight reconnaissance I think.' And she teleported out of the dimension the time gates resided in to appear on a rooftop overlooking one of the marketplaces in the outer city of the capital. Her connection to the time gates was fine enough where she knew the general area that the energy was coming from, but she couldn't quite lock onto it yet, so she waited to see what would happen until she had a better lock. A few minutes passed as she waited before she heard a scream come from an alley a few buildings over. The energy was still in the area, so she decided to see what was going on.
When she got there she saw two young girls being held off the ground by a rather well built man in a military uniform. She couldn't quite make out what they were saying, but judging by the state of the children's clothing and the rather new looking bag that one of them held, she figured that the men had caught a couple of thieves. Nothing wrong with that... Then the one standing back said something that she could clearly hear.
Her blood boiled at the thought of someone doing what that man down there had implied, but before she could do anything the younger one kicked the man holding her and he dropped like a stone, clutching at a rather sensitive member of the male anatomy. 'Ohhh... Girl's got spunk. I think I'll watch. If they get in over their heads I'll do something but for now...' her thoughts trailed off as she saw the blue mana being fired at the young girl, who was doing a rather good job of dodging. Pluto was just about to step in when something happened to change her mind. Suddenly the chaos reading she was getting from the gates nearly doubled and it picked up a second signature of darkness energy focused on what would probably have been the epicenter of the chaos if she could have gotten a lock on it. It also told her that the epicenter was focused right on the young girl who was dodging mana fire.
All in this same instance, a dark wall seemed to explode outward from the girl, blocking her vision of the alley. The edges of the darkness seemed to fade into light, as though the light were being absorbed by the darkness the closer it came to it. She heard the man shout and what she assumed was one of the girls say something about not being able to see and a second girls voice yelling that they should get out of there. Pluto used her link to the gate, and the lock on the darkness energy to follow them out of the alley and on a mad dash through the street below, until they showed an impressive display of skill in leaping on some crates and onto the rooftops.
She saw Mars and Jupiter coming before the girls did and hid behind a taller building. Like her, they were probably investigating the energy signature the girl had just given off, but she wasn't on very good terms with the Sailor Scouts right now... Whispers and rumors of her involvement in several failed insurrection attempts didn't garner a good reputation in the royal court. Waiting for them to pass before continuing, she followed at what she considered a "safe" distance and she stopped when she saw Mars cast her attack and hit the older looking girl and the first energy reading that had originally caught her interest flared and focused on where the girl was standing. A few minutes passed before the smoke began to clear and she heard the entirety of the two Sailor Scout's conversation. It made her both mad, and sad, and it only reaffirmed her justification for supporting and even organizing some of those insurrections.
Jupiter's shout startled her a little and she had just enough reaction time to see the lightning streaming towards the girls. Something happened though; Pluto felt a ripple through her link to the gates. The chaos energy was spiking again, this time even higher than before, and time seemed to slow for a moment. Literally, and it wasn't Pluto doing it either.
Then she saw it. Centered on the younger girl, and surrounding both of them, was a barely perceptible bubble of shifting colors, and suddenly they were gone... and time returned to normal... Not wanting to be around when the Scouts called for reinforcements to help search for the children, Pluto made her exit and followed the trace she still had on them. The chaos energy was making it harder for the gates to lock onto them, but it seemed to be fading to what she guessed was the girl's "passive output" and made it easier to trace her companion. She teleported across the city...
The scene before her was just so cute she had to suppress a giggle. The younger red-haired girl was griping the older brown-haired girl and had her eyes shut like her life depended on it. The symbol on her forehead caught Setsuna's interest just as much as it had Nabiki's, but she recovered more quickly and de-transformed. She guessed, judging by their reactions when they had seen Sailors Mars and Jupiter, that they... distrusted, certain figures of authority at the very least. She put on her best "You amuse me..." face and stepped into a more visible position on the roof, "Right on time... would you two mind coming with me for a while?"
Ranma and Nabiki were so startled by the unexpected voice that they jumped apart and must have broken a land speed record when they moved to hide behind a nearby roof garden. When they peeked out from opposite sides, they saw a tall, tanned woman with long green hair and red eyes who wore a nice dress, but by no means looked as though she was going to a social function. She had a thoroughly amused look on her face, probably taking enjoyment from their antics.
"Who... Who are you?" asked Ranma, suspicious of the woman.
"Yeah... and what do you mean by 'right on time'?" continued Nabiki.
The woman raised a single eyebrow, making her look even more amused, and answered "My name is Setsuna Meiou, and you two seem to have gotten out of a sticky situation just in time..." She looked around a little before continuing, "Now if you don't mind, I have some things that I would like to ask you about how you came to be on this rooftop, but some Sailor Scouts are coming and I'd rather not have to... explain... to them about why I'm here, so if you two could come over here, we can be going."
"How do we know this isn't some kind of trick?" Nabiki was even more suspicious than before. The woman sounded like she had seen everything. But that was clear on the other side of the city, so if that was the case, how did she get here so fast? On the other hand, the way she spoke of the Sailor Scouts and not wanting to be around them told her that they probably didn't like this "Setsuna", if that really was her name, very much.
Setsuna pointed over the rooftops. When Ranma and Nabiki looked, they saw two white and blue shapes, one slightly lighter blue than the other, moving in their general direction. Ranma let out an "Eeep" and quickly dragged her friend to the green haired lady. She hadn't attacked them yet and had said she wanted to talk, so Ranma figured that she must be better than being caught by The Scouts. The tall lady laid a hand on their shoulders and smiled before Ranma saw a light and the world around her lurched and she felt her feet leave the ground, and then suddenly stopped and gravity returned. The sudden feelings of motion and stopping of motion, along with the feeling of weightlessness and sudden return of gravity, caused her to lose her balance and fall to the ground. She barely had time to register that they had changed location once again before her head hit the floor. She saw white and then the darkness of unconsciousness claimed her...
Soft light was shining through Ranma's eyelids. She closed them tighter, not wanting to wake up. She imagined that she must be dreaming because she was lying down on something wonderfully soft and warm and had smooth covers pulled all around her. She wasn't wearing any clothes either, but what convinced her that she must truly be in a dream was the fact that she felt clean. Wonderfully clean. Even her hair felt washed and soft and smelled of flowers as it pooled around her head, having been taken out of its braid. She hadn't felt truly clean since her parents had been killed in a raid when she was three.
Her face scrunched up at the unpleasant reminder of why she disliked the Sailor Scouts so much, besides the fact that if they caught her on the streets she would probably end up dead or worse... She couldn't remember very much from her early childhood, but this particular memory had permanently burned itself into her mind...
The Scouts had raided their home based on rumors of "dissention from the crown and harboring criminals". That had been utterly false of course... there had been no one but themselves in the house, but when her father flat out refused to let them in without some kind of warrant, they killed him. Her mother had been only slightly luckier. She had carried Ranma out of the burning wreckage of the house and run for as long as she could before she collapsed. But her mother had been hurt when the house exploded and died from her injuries within days. Ranma had barely survived for a week before Nabiki and her sisters had found her hiding in a dumpster. They had been similarly displaced by an unfounded raid a few months before Ranma, and once they heard her story, they took her in...
"Ranma..." said a voice, distracting her from the unpleasant memories...
"Mmmmm..." Ranma closed her eyes tighter and tried to ignore the voice. She didn't want to wake up from the dream of being clean and someplace soft and warm...
'Raaanmaaaaa..." The voice persisted.
"Mmmm!" Ranma rolled onto her stomach and covered her head with her arms.
"RANMA! Get up!" yelled Nabiki's voice.
Ranma's eyes cracked open slightly when she recognized the voice of her friend. To her surprise, the feeling of being clean and lying on something unbelievably soft didn't leave her. The smooth and warm covers she felt around her were a soft tan color and appeared to be made of silk. She rolled over onto her side so she could see the direction she thought Nabiki's voice had come from. What she saw was a grinning Nabiki sitting on a chair next to the bed she was in. She was clean as well and her hair had been evened out in the back. She wore a comfortable looking yellow shirt with a red skirt of matching style, and the old handkerchief she had used to hold her hair back had been replaced by a hair band.
Stranger than a clean Nabiki was the room she was in. Tan carpets covered the equally tan stone floor and the walls and ceiling were made from the same tan stone as the floor. Finely carved, yet still plain looking wooden furniture decorated the room and one window let the sunlight in from outside... 'Wait, sunlight? It was still lunar night last time I checked... so why is there sunlight?' "Um... Nabiki? How long have I been asleep? And... Where are we?"
"You've only been out for a few hours. As to where we are... I think we're on Pluto judging by how small the sun is. After you hit your head when we came here that Setsuna lady called some people to clean you up while they showed me where to do the same. Then they took us to this room..." Ranma noticed a second bed with matching sheets on the opposite wall from where hers was. "Then they gave me some new clothes and put some over there for you for when you woke up." Nabiki pointed to a table under the window with an assortment of clothes on it.
"Oh... Pluto? Are you sure?" Nabiki nodded, "How did we get here anyway? Last I checked Pluto was on the far end of the system..."
"I have no Idea, but I think that this 'Setsuna' is more than she seems on the outside..." Nabiki grew pensive for a moment, "I think we should be careful about what we tell her. I don't think she likes the Sailor Scouts too much, but I still don't trust her..."
Ranma nodded that she understood. Trust was something rare when you lived on the streets. But once that trust was earned, you damn well tried to keep it... The gangs and other homeless people would just as soon help you as they would use you to get what they wanted and then try to kill you once they got it or even outright attack you if you had what they want already. More than once they had needed to fend off other street kids, or even adults, just to keep their meal for the day...
When you lived on the streets, you got a fast course in the school of "Hard Knocks" Martial Arts... Ranma generally preferred to never give them the chance to land a hit.
The two sat in silence for a few minutes before Ranma decided it was time to get out of the bed. She stretched and swung her feet over the edge of the mattress and stood up and walked over to the table with the clothing laid out for her. There was quite a selection of styles and colors. Choosing what to wear, she proceeded to dress in a loose knee-length black skirt with a tight pair of shorts underneath, a plain yellow shirt, and a pair of flat heeled boots that came up to just below her knees. Everything fit her surprisingly well, almost as if it had been made for her... She was just finishing up with redoing her braid when the green haired woman who called herself "Setsuna" looked into the room from the door. She had changed out of the dress she was wearing when they had met on the rooftop and into something that looked a bit more formal and business like. Overall, it looked more natural on her than the dress had.
"Ah, you're awake... good. If you two would follow me." It wasn't a request, but at the same time it wasn't quite an order either... She motioned for them to follow with her hand and turned into the hall outside.
Ranma and Nabiki looked at each other for a moment before following her into the hall. They were still suspicious of this green haired mystery's motives so they kept close together, their shoulders almost touching. Nabiki had already seen the hall outside, but Ranma had to hide her amazement at the sheer size of it. The hall looked wide enough to drive a tank through and was double that in height with tall windows letting light in from outside. The walls, floor, and ceiling were made from the same brown stone as her room, but the differences were the decorative arches that made the ceiling, the carpet running like an isle through the middle of the floor, patterned in all colors but was predominantly black, and the walls were decorated with paintings and tapestries while vases and sculptures sat silently in alcoves set into the walls.
They followed Setsuna for a few minutes, making turns into more hallways that matched the first. Eventually, their guide turned into a plain door and led them into what appeared to be a warmly lit dining room. The surface of the table in the middle of the room was reflective enough where when Ranma and Nabiki looked, they could see their faces staring back at them. Other than that, however, the rest of the room was more like their bedroom; only the carpet here was red. More tan stone. More fine, yet plain, wooden furniture. The only real differences were the absence of beds and the decorations, which followed off of the assortment found out in the hall.
Setsuna moved to one of the chairs arranged around the table and motioned for them to sit across from her. "I'm betting your hungry, so I suggest that we eat before we talk." Ranma and Nabiki's stomachs decided to growl rather loudly at that moment and they had the good grace to look away in embarrassment. Setsuna merely nodded and as if on cue several servants in matching black uniforms walked in carrying platters of food and set them on the table. The children's eyes nearly popped out of their sockets at the sight of so much food in front of them and ravenously dived into the meal. The sound of the rapid consumption of food followed for several minutes while their host ate at a more reasonable pace.
Finally they finished eating and Setsuna planted her elbows on the table and folded her hands under her chin and seemed to examine them for a few moments before speaking, "I suppose you two are wondering why I brought you here?" They nodded, "I suppose I should fully introduce myself first. As I told you, my name is Setsuna Meiou, but what you don't know is my Title..."
"And what is that?" Nabiki asked. Her suspicions of this woman were growing. Sure she had cleaned them up and given them new clothes, but now she had admitted to having a title... Titles usually meant nobility. It wasn't all that unexpected, considering their current appointments and the obvious wealth displayed in all of the rooms she had seen so far. On the other hand though, was the fact that nobility were usually bad business for people in her and Ranma's position...
Setsuna stood up and walked to interpose herself between them and the door, cutting off the only escape route. She turned to look straight at them, before glowing a soft pink. Her clothes seemed to morph under the light and when it faded she was revealed to be wearing a white leotard bodysuit with a black miniskirt and a black sailor style collar. A large black bow with a red stone set like a broach adorned her chest and a smaller bow with longer trailing ribbons was at the small of her back. To complete the ensemble were a pair of black knee high boots with white trim, a pair of white elbow length gloves with black trim, a pair of red dangling earrings, and a gold tiara with a single black gem set in the middle of her forehead. She summoned a staff wrought into the rough shape of a key with an ornamental heart surrounding a semi-transparent garnet colored orb into her hands and leaned it against her shoulder. "I am Setsuna Meiou, Senshi of Pluto and Guardian of the Gates of Time..."
The reactions in the two girls upon seeing the finished transformation were immediate and opposite the moment they recognized the uniform she wore. Ranma leapt out of her seat and tried to charge down the so called 'Senshi', anger and hatred flashing in her eyes, and Nabiki grabbed her by the waist, pinning her arms to her sides in the process, and tried to drag her to the far wall and as far away from Pluto as she could get with fear written on her face. Both were confronting the situation as they would when they were backed into a corner back on the streets. Ranma's reaction to such situations was to charge it head on, while Nabiki would fall back as far as she could while trying to figure out a way to escape. Usually Nabiki would let Ranma fight, giving her more time to think, but this was a Sailor Scout this time. There was no hope of victory against the firepower she could bring against them.
Pluto merely raised an eyebrow and walked over to them. Nabiki was still struggling with Ranma and couldn't back away fast enough. Then she did something that neither expected. She dismissed her staff and gently laid a hand on each of their heads and knelt down to look them, more or less, in the eyes. "Peace, children. I don't know exactly what the Sailor Scouts have done to deserve such hatred from you," She said while looking Ranma in the eyes before turning her gaze on Nabiki, "or such fear from you, but I am not like them..."
"H-how do we k-k-know that this i-isn't some k-k-k-kind of t-trick?" Nabiki barely managed to get the words out of her mouth. It was as though she were frozen and the fear was written clearly on her face while she stared into those red eyes.
Ranma had calmed down some, not being able to escape Nabiki's grip, so she stared daggers at the Time Senshi instead. "They killed my parents..." Was all she managed to growl out.
Setsuna turned her gaze back to Ranma, who faltered a little under the hard stare the 'Senshi' was giving her, "Is that so? Well then, you can rest assured that I had nothing to do with that. I haven't worked with another Senshi for a very long time. Much longer than you've been alive. And I've Never worked with the so called 'Sailor Scouts'..." The tone of her voice made it clear what she thought of The Scouts as she almost spat the words out like an expletive. The emphasis she placed on the word 'Senshi' wasn't missed either.
She stood back up and walked over to the chair where she had been sitting before her transformation and sat back down, "Now if you two are quite done, I still have some things I'd like to discuss with you. And I'm sure that you have some questions for me as well..." The casual way she said this managed to snap them back to a more or less normal mindset, but they were still incredibly suspicious of the 'Senshi'... whatever the heck that meant... as she motioned for them to sit down again.
They retook their seats and silence reigned once again in the room. Nabiki broke the tense quiet first...
"Why are you doing this?"
"Doing what?" Setsuna's attention focused on Nabiki, making the girl more than a little nervous under the scrutiny of the Time Senshi.
"Helping us. We're just a couple of orphans living on the streets. Why clean us up, give us new clothes, and feed us?" Setsuna had to give the girl credit... she hid her anxiety well despite her age.
Setsuna considered her for a moment before speaking, "You two aren't just a couple of orphans living on the streets... Tell me, do you remember anything about your parents? Grandparents? Aunts or Uncles? Anything?"
The pair merely shook their heads in the negative. Setsuna sighed in disappointment and rubbed her eyes. "Well that makes this harder then... What happened before I brought you here was something you can do because of your parents." The girls looked at her in confusion before she continued, "It's like this; you two used magic."
"Magic? But I thought that only royals could use magic." Ranma was clearly confused.
"Right and wrong... Only those with royal blood can use magic. This does not limit it to just the immediate royal families. Furthermore, every royal family line has a specific type of magic that it specializes in, giving them distinct signatures when detected by magic sensitive scanners." Pluto was using a lecturing tone and had her chin perched on top of her folded hands again. She looked to make sure that they were paying attention and understood. It seemed like they had, but one could never be too sure with children as young as they were. She needed them to understand. If they didn't it would take precious time to educate them so that they would and that would set her plan back years.
"So if we have magic, which are we from?" Nabiki was still wary of the Senshi sitting across from her, but her curiosity was piqued.
"That's the strange thing..." Pluto sighed and rubbed her temples before standing up and beginning to pace slowly. "Neither of you belong to any of the current Royal bloodlines."
"Well if we don't have any royal blood, then how can we have magic?" Ranma tilted her head wondering where this was going. In truth, most of this talk of magic was going over her head even as she tried to follow the conversation.
"Because a little over two and a half centuries ago, there were two more kingdoms in the system, but no one outside of myself and a few others remembers anything about them." She held their attention. They didn't seem to believe her at the moment, but she didn't need them to for now. All she needed was for them to understand. She moved so that she was across the table from them and pulled her time staff out of subspace again before waving it above the surface. The light in the room dimmed and an illuminated holographic diagram of the solar system appeared over the table. Every planet was there, from Mercury to Pluto with the sun in the middle, but there was a dark tenth ball almost double the distance away from the sun as Pluto. Red boxes formed around both the sun and this tenth sphere and larger diagrams of the area inside the boxes appeared above the model.
Setsuna continued in her lecturing tone, "Long ago, during the formative years of the Moon Kingdom, there were eleven kingdoms. Even at this time Earth maintained its independence and neutrality in the various wars waged across the system. As the First Serenity brought the other worlds under her guidance so as to form a kingdom of justice and peace, she appointed a Senshi for each world as it came under her domain." Ranma and Nabiki continued to stare at the diagram, having never seen anything quite like it before.
"Among these, were the Solar Kingdom," Pluto pointed at the magnified image of the sun, which had a tight polygonal grid suddenly form around it but when they looked closer they noticed that the lines were actually tunnels that connected larger station platforms with towers going out from them. They realized that these must be cities or factories. The largest two were centered over what could be considered the "North and South Poles" of the sun and seemed to be drawing the solar fire right off of the surface of the star and into large collectors of some kind.
"and the Kingdom of Eris" Pluto continued, gesturing at the dark grey rock that had also been magnified. The image of the planet changed from grey and lifeless, to a soft gold color on land and blue filled the low ground to create seas, oceans, rivers, and lakes. Large areas that were covered in forests were generally black or dark browns and reds. Cities with golden towers grew on coasts and inland and farmland covered much of the open countryside.
"The Solar Kingdom was largely a manufacturing and trade center, using the raw elements drawn off of the sun to manufacture anything that they needed and using the solar radiation so readily available to power their factories and the shields that kept them safe from the same radiation and the occasional solar flare, while its central location in the system made it an ideal trade port." Setsuna continued, pointing first at the two largest arrays at the poles, then bringing attention to the blue/violet bubbles that surrounded the tunnels and platforms, and finally pointing out the various city centers that had miniature holographic ships going in and out and leaving or entering the visible area of the cube the sun diagram was within.
Moving on to the planet she had named as 'Eris' she continued, "Eris, though the furthest distance from the sun of any other existing kingdom, thrived as an agricultural and resort world. In its time, The Kingdom of Eris generated large cash crops along with its own variety of unique edible plant life that went to feed billions of people every year, while its distance from the core worlds of the system and its naturally golden landscape gave it appeal as a place to 'get away from it all'..." Again, Pluto pointed out areas on the planet's surface indicating the large agricultural areas and the cities and more manicured looking areas of the countryside.
"Like the other kingdoms, when Sol and Eris joined the Moon Kingdom, Serenity appointed Senshi to direct the natural solar and planetary mana. Sol, due to its size, mass, and various other factors, had the greatest mana pool of any other body in the system, and so became the single most powerful Senshi, even over Saturn, and its royal line possessed domains over fire and light based magic. Eris, due to its distance from the sun, and the existence of certain naturally forming magically active crystals unique to the planet, granted its royal line Darkness and Chaos based powers." Setsuna was now looking between the girls, hoping that they understood the connection she was making. It wasn't looking like they were. Ranma asked a single worded question.
"In its natural state, without the magic or technology to support life, Eris is a very dark world on its own, being so far from the sun and its natural atmosphere blocking most light from reaching the surface; hence the Darkness affiliation. The crystals I mentioned however, I believe that they were called 'Warp Stones' due to their ability to warp the reality around them, are somehow attuned to chaotic energies and since they form naturally on the planet, they attune its natural ley-lines towards chaotic energies as well as darkness..."
"If they were part of the kingdom, what happened to them? Why aren't they here now?" asked Nabiki as she all but forgot her previous nervousness as she started to piece things together...
"I don't know..." Nabiki looked at her skeptically, "Some two and a half centuries ago, there was a political upheaval. The Reigning Queen at the time decided that as things were, the people would eventually grow opposed to the idea of being ruled by a monarch and reformed the government under her rule to allow the crown more direct control over the lives of the systems citizens and businesses. As far as I have discovered, Sol and Eris opposed these changes with much more hostility than the other kingdoms, but after a certain point, they just disappear. Not a trace of their existence remains aside from the ruins on Eris that no one remembers. The only explanation I have is that some form of magic was used to erase all evidence of them from history and the memories of greater society."
In truth, Pluto had been unable to view the events through the gates, but being attuned to the flow of time, she had recognized the tampering when she saw it. Only before they had disappeared could she see them, and that was only after she pushed past considerable interference from some, as of yet unidentified, magical field, and there was so much temporal 'noise' beyond a certain point where even then she couldn't see anything. If she didn't push past this she would see a modified version of history where the Solar and Eridian kingdoms never existed.
Nabiki nodded that she understood but Ranma was still looking a little lost, "So what's all this got to do with us?"
Pluto sighed and waved her staff again to dismiss the image of the solar system and bring the lights back to normal levels. She needed these two more than they needed her, and she needed them to trust her so she couldn't just force them to do what she wanted. Oh sure they would be better off with her in the long run, but they knew how to get by on their own. Now it was time to convince them that they needed her as much as she needed them, "You," She pointed at Nabiki, "are descended from the royal line of Sol, and you," she pointed at Ranma, "are from the line of Eris. Before I brought you here both of you exhibited powers unique to those lines and the signals you put out when you used them perfectly match those of the royal lines of those kingdoms."
The effect on the two wasn't quite what she had expected, or had hoped for. Nabiki looked like she was getting with the program, slowly, but she was getting there, but Ranma just looked confused. Eventually Nabiki spoke, "So... What you're saying is that we can use magic because we are from two long forgotten kingdoms that don't exist according to history?"
Setsuna was getting frustrated, but she worked to keep it out of her voice, "Not just magic, but magic at Senshi levels..."
3... 2... 1... "Wait... Are you saying that we're 'Senshi'?" Ranma had a dark gleam in her eye that unsettled Pluto slightly, and the almost smirk she was wearing wasn't helping.
"No... Not yet. And certainly not unless you learn how to access the extent of your powers, but both of you have enough magical potential where you could become the Senshi of Sol and Eris." It wasn't a total lie. They could access their Senshi powers already, they already had, but unless they learned how to control those powers whenever they wanted to they would never reach a level where they would be considered full Senshi.
There was silence once more for a few moments before Nabiki caught on, "And you can teach us how to become Senshi?" Pluto nodded, "And what do you get out of this?"
Pluto let the ghost of a smile grace her lips as she sat back down. The brunette was smarter than she let on. "When you two get old enough and proficient enough in the use of your powers you will work for me. I will provide you with room and board while on Pluto and supply enough money for modest accommodations whenever you are on a mission on one of the other worlds. You will also be given a modest income, enough to afford some of the things you would want. In return for this and your education, you will go on missions for me and do what I want when I want you to do it. You will work as spies some of the time, bodyguards at others, and assassins at others still. Whatever the mission entails is necessary for success."
"And why should we kill for you? What makes you better than the Sailor Scouts?" Nabiki was looking at Pluto through narrowed eyes. She didn't exactly like where this was going. The deal was almost too good...
Setsuna just let her smile manifest completely on her lips. "I am not 'better' than the Sailors," She began, again spitting out the word like it was a curse, "because I have done things in my past that I'm not proud of... But what makes me different than them is that I do what I do in an effort to bring justice back to the kingdom instead of claiming that my power as a Senshi gives me some divine right to crush those who oppose me under my heals..." she said, adding a growl to the last bit. Her face took on an emotionless, calculating, mask as she said the next, "As to why you should help me? You two don't know it but after I brought you here I did some light background checks on you. Both of you have been legally dead for almost five years. So, you have nothing to lose but your lives if you go back to the streets, and everything to gain by helping me overthrow the system that threw you out of your homes, killed your parents, and marked you as dead..." after all, revenge is a powerful motivator...
Setsuna saw the dark gleam in Ranma's eyes intensify and her almost smirk become an outright evil grin at that and Nabiki's face became a blank mask, her eyes, icy brown pools. Finally the two turned to look at each other and an unspoken conversation seemed to pass between them in that moment. They nodded to each other and turned to look at Sailor Pluto and said, "We're in." with hard looks in their eyes.
Pluto didn't let it show on her face, but she had an evil grin to match Ranma's in her mind...
End Notes: Wow... A bit longer than any other chapter I've written before. Almost 10k words... I think that the more I write the longer my chapters will be... That's not a bad thing in my opinion though...
Ok, for those of you who haven't figured it out yet, this story is taking place during the silver millennium in the PAST. That means that things will be a bit different. I'll try not to make the characters into Mary Sue's or Marty Stu's though, but this is a bit of an experiment of mine in tearing down what the characters are on the outside and rebuilding them with that same core set of principles...
Why is Ranma a girl you ask? Because, as has been done in countless fuku-fics before, Ranma was born a girl during the Silver Millennium. I don't really think that I should need to point this out, but I get the feeling that if I don't I'll get a bunch of people mad at me for writing "Ranma-Chan", which is technically true in this particular instance but please wait for me to get to part two of the story before you string me up (And I don't mean chapter two, I mean the next part as in multiple fics planned)...
PS: This is actually a revised version of the original text… Nothing major, just some spelling and grammar corrections along with cleaning up some of the dialogue, but I thought some people might want to know…