Foreword: This fic is wholly and entirely Holyknight's fault, who broached the original idea. He only imposed one restriction on this plot bunny. God help me, I violated it within the first fifteen seconds of his mentioning it. With prejudice.
Causality [kɔːˈzælɪtɪ]n pl -ties
1. the relationship of cause and effect.
2. the principle that nothing can happen without being caused.
On a good day, Shinjuku station was probably the last place you wanted to be. Yes, it had its upscale department stores to pass the time in and sure, one could find a decent meal within the multi-level sprawl, but looked at critically, one would almost swear that the station itself was little more than a fiendishly constructed maze designed to entrap a fair percentage of its over three million daily commuters; never to see the light of day again. In spite of its size, it was cramped and crowded, and if one weren't careful, might find themselves forever circulating between the east and west platforms like some thoroughly twisted version of a Flying Japanese Dutchman. If you were lucky enough to escape, you could wear the t-shirt proudly: 'I survived Shinjuku Station and all I got was this lousy tee.'
So what was a bad day like? That was today. Today the west platform and its associated railway was little more than freshly tilled zone of devastation. Mangled tracks, crumpled train cars and annihilated structures smoldered with fresh destruction. At first it had gone unnoticed. This was Shinjuku station after all, legendary for ensnaring locals and tourists alike with its cunning dead ends and incessant construction. This new level of confusion and upheaval was almost normal.
That notion was quickly dispelled by the first wave of youma laying waste to everything in their paths.
There was that small portion of the commuter populous that decided to stick around and watch the destruction of the insidious labyrinth with a certain maniacal glee. Common sense, however, promptly reasserted itself when the Senshi arrived to drop the hammer. Even that was a good thing, if not for the reason one might expect. In the eyes of this minority, the Senshi meant property damage. Simply put, whatever destruction this new enemy had started, the arrival of the Sailor Senshi were sure to finish.
For example, there was Minako's Venus Love Me Chain. Gold chain-linked hearts flashed out in a wide arc in an attempt to check the advance of what was by all account a ragged stone golem throwing what used to be the passenger cars of the Shinkansen into nearby police vehicles with a great deal of success. The magical weapon sliced through the air and bisected an escalator to the second level and a bank of vending machines unnoticed before making finally making contact with the monster's stone flesh, sending sparks ablating across its hide. The golden chain left a red hot gouge in its wake, but failing to neutralize its threat in any way, shape or form.
The attack did, however, get the youma's attention.
The giant stone golem whirled around on its attacker with more speed than she had any right to expect out of something so large, and Minako quickly jumped out of the lunge that attempted to corral her in a grip that would easily crush and had already crushed a car. Several cars, thus far. The hands grabbed and scooped a chunk of train station from the ground and crushed it before correcting to track the Guardian of Venus once more. Another fist slammed into what had once been the well tread tile floor of Shinjuku and she rolled out of the resulting cloud of debris with mere centimeters to spare. She stabilized into a crouch only meters away and pointed her index finger into the golem at point blank range.
A blaze of gold light erupted from her finger and lanced into the monster's stone torso, sending it staggering under the blinding flash. The magical beam expended itself within seconds, but the results were rather lack luster. She had bought herself ten meters and inflicted an angry molten scar crossing its chest, but came up significantly short of actual stopping power. Minako's cheek twitched as the stone giant recovered its senses
"A little help over here!" The orange clad Senshi shouted back to the melee in progress behind her, and her call for fire support was answered by glistening white bolt that slammed into the youma's left arm to explode in a liquid mass that instantly condensed into shimmering crystal. The entire area around the golem frosted, covering Venus' opponent in a layer of hardened ice. Sailor Mercury landed next to her ready for a follow on attack.
"That won't hold it," The blue haired Senshi advised, earning her counterpart's confirmation in the form of a nod. "We need to take it out before-"
The mirrored perfection of the ice began to strain as pieces flaked away, revealing the youma whole and intact youma within. The sheets covering its face tumbled off, revealing three smoldering red eyes and a stone shard mouth indicating its grumpy disposition to the pair. Ami's eyes widened and she whipped her hand through the spell sequence. "Do it now, now, now!"
Streamers of super dense water raked the stone youma in a brilliant flash of blue that in turn refracted the light from the blonde's own energy lance. The result was a cascade of crystal flashing with gold that was functionally deadly as it was beautiful. Entire chunks of stone gave way under the relentless assault; weakened by ice, carved out by water and burnt to slag by raw magical light. The two attacks expended their violence for ten whole seconds before lapsing into an orgy of bubbling steam and ruin, much to the satisfaction of the girls that had deployed them.
It was almost enough to actually stop it.
What was left of the golem stumbled out of the smoldering haze, shedding scales of stone and shambling toward the guardians with single minded purpose. It lunged a fraction of a second after clearing the cloud of vapor, catching the pair flatfooted. Neurons were only then firing to evacuate the area when a golden disk tore through its torso to inflict critical damage on the creature. Mercury and Venus tracked the disk on its return arc and into Sailor Moon's hand; snatched from the air and forced into instant evasion as her own golem pressed its attack.
A female body tumbled ballistically across the battle field to finish the job with a thunderous impact, plowing into their already terminally compromised golem and destroying outright. A dishwater blonde guardian was violently ejected from the explosive cloud in an uncontrolled roll. Uranus bounced through her skid and stabilized her angle just enough to ignite an angry ball of lightning to be sent back down the trench she had just carved into the earth.
The thunderbolt tore through concrete and found the youma that had just knocked her back, slamming home and erupting in a deafening crash. The monolithic beast stumbled with the crater blown into its torso, but failed to drop. Minako added her own fire support to Haruka's efforts, allowing Ami to snap open the Mercury link under their covering fire to consult its data.
"Stone, elemental," She reported through the whine of high energy magics perforating the air. "Not your average youma. Highly resistant to magic!"
"You think?" The Senshi of Uranus bit back even as she drew the glowing edge of her space sword. A fist came crashing in and she parried if forcefully, showering the immediate area in sparks. It was an impressive sight until a department store off to the side was literally ripped a part in a sheet of fire. Her proverbial thunder was stolen as a black haired guardian retreated from the blaze, turning to light more blazing arrows off into the inferno every few steps back; as if the numerous explosions and their secondaries she had just incited hadn't already barbecued her opponents in the opening salvo.
Two golems stepped out of the inferno, glowing like a pair of giant, red hot coals.
The first of the pair of youma immediately took another Flame Sniper to the head as it emerged from the fire storm. The second was raked by a lightning bolt that took a significant gouge from its left leg courtesy of Sailor Jupiter, but failed to render it ineffective for combat. Usagi successfully disengaged from her own youma in the resultant cloud of carcinogenic smoke and retreated back to Mercury's position.
"Tell me we have a plan." She stated in a tone that hoped more than knew if any such plan existed. Mercury continued to punch calculations into the disguised makeup compact.
"We need to retreat," The tactician of the group stated, earning surprised looks from anybody not engaged by a giant stone golem. She hastened to explain. "We're facing defeat in detail. If we could concentrate our attacks on just one, we could take it out through sheer weight of fire, but it's taking three of us to get that one. I'm reading no less than twenty scattered around and closing on our position!"
As if the drive her point home, a wall dividing the train stations interior from the outside station suddenly crumpled to admit a new youma. It waded through the wreckage and began to stumble toward them. Usagi's own youma had found its way out of the cloud of smoke and even Rei's pair had resumed their advance. The Moon Princess's blue eyes flicked from golem to golem, realizing Ami was right. If they were getting bogged down with these five, it would give the other fifteen more than enough time to pin them down. It was easy math, even for the teen regular panned as inattentive and brainless and she made her next order with uncharacteristic decisiveness.
"We're moving. If we get pinned down here, there's nobody left to protect those outside." She stated, revising their tactics on the fly. "Neptune, Mercury, we're buying time. Everybody else-"
"'Everybody else', Princess?"
"Choose a position outside the station and keep this contained," Sailor Moon nodded in response to Haruka's missive. "We'll meet there once you're in position. Until then, Neptune, Mercury and I will deal with these."
'These' were the lumbering stone giants, wading through the wreckage of what had once been Shinjuku station in order to rend them limb from limb. One smashed a central support pillar aside to clear a path and collapsed the level above, merely inconveniencing the monster as it advanced through the rubble. The others continued along their own tracks, slowly closing the gap.
The Guardian of Uranus nodded, taking nominal command of the remaining inners. "We'll anchor southeast along the police line! Let's move, ladies!"
The senshi lingered until Usagi gave a smiling nod, and they sprinted away after Haruka. The smile disappeared as they disappeared through the smoke obscured devastation and out of sight, then faded a look that spoke of determination. The odango'd princess turned back to her peers. "Those things need to be still for this."
"I think I may have divined what you have in mind, your highness," Sailor Neptune decided and began to gather her power. She glanced over to her Mercurian counterpart. "In waves, then."
"Ready." Ami confirmed, bracing for her own part in their delaying action. Two water elementals; one of whom was capable of ice attacks. The tactics were obvious to the genius, and she readied alongside her fellow Senshi. Neptune extended her arm and the local space around her flared a brilliant blue, coalescing into the shape of a violin. The shimmering apparition was accompanied by the length of a bow in the other hand, and she took her attack stance.
"Submarine Violon Tide!"
Sailor Neptune drew the bow across the energy violin's strings, gathering water in hand as she pirouetted into direction of the encroaching golems. The sparkling water burbled within her grasp, eager to be set loose. She pointed the bow downrange and did exactly that, invoking a whirlpool of destructive tidal wave energy into her enemies.
"Aqua Rhapsody!" Sailor Mercury lit off her own technique immediately after the Neptune's tidal storm cleared her hand, entombing everything it touched in nearly a meter's thickness of solid, magically reinforced ice. All five stone elementals instantly ceased any movement. Both girls recovered from their respective attacks, allowing Sailor Moon a clear avenue of attack.
"Silver Moon Crystal Power, Makeup!"
Ethereal power rebounded against Ami and Michiru as their Princess ascended to her highest combat form, washing the area in brilliant color even as luminous feathery wings formed along her back. The blond floated for a moment as her uniform made its own subtle adjustments, then dropped back to the earth as the transformation expended itself. Her now golden fuku with its dark pink and navy blue trim fluttered with power now and she extended the jeweled wand in her left hand out and let its length immediately extend to that of a battle staff.
Usagi sighted its golden figurehead on the frozen youma, noting that the ice was in the initial stages of buckling outright. Hairline cracks started to trace down the ice sculpted golem figures, but there fate was already sealed. The blond had more than enough time to gather the power necessary and she put it use.
"Crystal Power Therapy Kiss!"
The attack's brilliant pink light refracted through the five crystallized youma, building to its terminal potential before releasing in a wall of power that instantly shattered both ice and stone, then everything behind it. The corridor of annihilation carved was a twenty meter wide circular path of destruction through the youma, then their train station battleground. By the time Sailor Neptune and Sailor Mercury were able to scrub their eyes clear, nothing remained before them but a hellish pathway of feathered down floating across the smoldering ruin.
Sailor Moon held her transformation for another moment before the wings at her back flashed away, their residual power flowing over her fuku to revert it back to its standard blue color. The blonde princess wobbled unsteadily at first, then regained her posture with a tired sigh. Michiru steadied her with a light touch to ensure their leader was okay.
"…Took a lot out of me," Usagi shook her head. Combined with the earlier combat, the giant, molten trench she was now witness to had pushed her to the edge of her endurance and now she was feeling it. Usagi scrunched her eyes to banish the light headedness she was feeling. "I'll- I'll be fine. We need to rejoin the others."
"This way," Mercury advised, already taking point with the off world computer link in hand. Neptune continued to escort the fatigued princess, glancing to and fro through the gutted, smoldering station for new youma.
"Where in the world did they come from?" She wondered, her tone clearly steeped in frustration as the trio negotiated the rubble of what had once been the Shinjuku west end and several annihilated department stores.
"Better yet, why?" The blue haired Senshi coordinating their movements returned, occasionally glancing from the compact to ensure her bearings were correct. Even as they traced a path through the devastated station in the direction their sisters had retreated, a new, high powered shriek tore unseen through the air, followed by a boom. Ami didn't need to consult the compact to know what the sound represented. "Jupiter's Sparkling Wide Pressure. They've been engaged by the youma."
"We need to hurry!" Usagi Tsukino picked up her pace as the sharp cracks of firearms joined the shrieks of magic. Their vocal spell components were still beyond earshot, but they were closing to the action, ducking through a gutted restaurant and passing by several burnt out automobiles that had somehow found a home in the middle of the main pedestrian path next to a bank of critically injured ticketing kiosks. Another explosion echoed across their position; a rumble that spoke of something of heavier caliber than what had been employed so far by the police.
Sailor Neptune was just about to round the corner of the JR platform when she skidded to a halt, eyes widening. "DOWN!"
Only five years of working as a cohesive team allowed Sailor Moon and Mercury to act on the spit second's worth of warning, and they were down just as steel descended from the sky. Half a silver rail car tumbled over head, reducing anything more than chest high into component rubble as it passed, cartwheeling over the guardians and off into the another platform in a thunderous crash. Wreckage rained down upon the flattened girls like rain, pelting them with steel fragments and stone before allowing enough visibility to find out what had just happened.
Their eyes turned down range to find a youma wading clear of a billowing cloud of black smoke with three burning coals for eyes staring them down. The giant bent over in its next step to scoop up a mangled tangle of steel and rebar like a massive javelin. The trio scampered to their feet even as the youma lunged to hurl another piece of wreckage at them. The blue haired Senshi was the first to react, and this time Ami didn't even bother with the spell sequence. She pulled the power on instinct. Lines of magic water whipped out to intercept the wreckage, slicing it into three separate components thirty meters out. Metallic wreckage tumbled past their position on the altered vectors, and Michiru's own salvo passed through the intercepting strike to challenge the youma directly.
A super-dense bolt of water aimed from the hip took a ragged chunk out of the golem's right shoulder in a sparkling detonation of rain and stone. It stumbled backwards into a wall, then fell through it in a muffled crash.
"Left flank!" Ami yelled, pulling her attention away from the Mercury link and the dots slowly closing in on the center of its display. Usagi whirled around and cut loose on instinct. Like her sister in arms, she powered the spell sequence and fired without a word and sent an incandescent pink beam blazing from her hand to cut through the thigh of a golem charging out of the smoke. The stone leg tumbled away in gout of molten slag, and the creature's balance was terminally compromised in a manner that sent it crashing to the ground. Sailor moon barely noticed her own sweat pouring from her forehead with the renewed incursion and watched the toppled youma recover. It began a much slower crawl toward them.
Sailor Neptune did have enough time to call out her attack, indicating to the blond princess that yet another front had been renewed. She oriented on the new avenue of assault and pulled the golden tiara from her head, forcing it to charge in spite of the burning strain that told her body that she was nearing the edge of her endurance. Super dense water impacted dead center into Michiru's youma and Sailor Moon's own tiara carved in behind it like a golden buzz saw, blowing a wide hole in their target's chest. By the time Usagi's headpiece snapped back into hand, the youma had ceased all movement; its eyes flickering orange for a moment before dying out completely.
"Mercury Glorious Ice Shield!"
The words blurted from Ami's mouth as a dim memory flashed through her mind's eye even as her outward vision tracked a stone spear arcing into their space, and she recited the spell through adrenaline fueled panic. She thrust both hands out toward the airborne projectile to create the initial warding symbols in what seemed like slow motion. Her fingers drew a hasty circle in the space before her, which in turn flared to life in the form of a circular, three meter round shield of glistening ice suitable for deflect melee strikes...
...Or one eight foot spire of rock descending upon their group at just under three hundred kilometers per hour.
The jagged tip of the stone spear was dead on target and without a magically reinforced barrier of ice to intercept it, more than likely would have impaled the Senshi of Mercury outright. As it was, there was a shield and it did take the full brunt of the attack, ablating the attack as hoped. The projectile shattered outright, but imparted the fullest measure of its kinetic energy into Ami's slight frame. Having barely enough time to prepare a defense to begin with, she had not properly braced behind the shield and tumbled forcibly to the ground under an explosive hail of stone shrapnel that took her sisters in arms without warning.
One moment Usagi Tsukino had been ready to support Michiru's assault of the latest youma to clear their exit through the train station rubble. The next she had eaten dirt, choking on dust and debris as she fought through a wave of pain and disorientation. The princess of the moon scrubbed her eyes clear and looked up at the blurry form of Sailor Neptune. The teal haired Senshi had somehow managed to retain her footing and was fighting her own desperate delaying action ten meters away, slinging bolts of water through the cloud of dust and out into enemies beyond the usable range of Usagi's vision. The rustle off to her left was within her field of vision and she looked toward it, finding Ami under a layer of sheet rock and only beginning to return to consciousness.
The blond shook her head clear, fighting off the vertigo in an effort to at least crawl to the girl and ensure she was- A horrible crunch sounded behind her and she whirled around; an action that nearly caused her to puke, but necessary in order to perceive a lone youma, hobbling on a single leg to stagger into melee range. A quick glance to Ami showed she was no more coherent than ten seconds ago and an attempt to draw Neptune's attention was met with a burning rasp from her vocal chords. Sailor Moon attempted to concentrate and draw power through the mental haze clouding her perception, but the battle's strain had already taken its toll.
The power wasn't coming fast enough.
The stone golem anchored another rock claw into the already scarred concrete and pulled itself forward, two out of its three eyes flickering angrily at her. Sailor Moon yanked at whatever power she could and sent an anemic bolt of pink energy into youma's face, tearing away the left side and another eye. The damage was superficial at best and a single eye still flickered with the promise of her death. Moon scrambled back as it anchored its left claw for the final lunge. Usagi held her hand out again to draw the power, but an agonizing cramp wracked her abdomen, and she began to cough up blood through a spasming cough.
The golem dug in and readied for the kill.
A brilliant blue bolt of power dropped down onto the already stricken youma like a sledge hammer, detonating across its back in a shock wave that toppled Moon again, but more importantly shattered the already battle damaged youma's left shoulder to separate its arm and deny it of any forward progress. A shadow dropped down through the debris cloud, and while Usagi couldn't ascertain the attacker's identity, she could readily determine its actions. The figure landed on the youma's back heavily and commenced to actual physical violence by quite literally beating on beast bare handed.
Sailor Moon winced with each brutal impact. Each stone crunch that reached her ears was followed by the monster's attempt to buck the shadow off, and the single time it managed to so earned it a solid kick to its midsection. More stone crumpled with the blow; quickly followed by a renewed salvo of violence. The remaining claw managed to snag its attacker for a moment, only to have its stone grip reversed and the golem thrown bodily back to the earth.
Moon watched her savior's silhouette with wide eyes as the shadow commenced its wrap-up. The stone golem twitched once more through the back-lit cloud of dust before the newcomer rounded on it with a final, devastating punch that connect with the head to put its last eye out.
The shadow drew back to its full height and the details became immediately apparent to Usagi as the newcomer began to step out of the cloud of dust in her direction. Female, a bit taller than her. Long hair and- The blonde's jaw dropped as the cloud dissipated and the stranger's first words reached her ears.
"You look like like crap, Moon-chan."
Usagi did a double take, but there was no mistake. Long waves of emerald green hair, red eyes and the black fuku of an Outer. The blond had little choice but to gibber, since the last time the Senshi had been- "Pah- Pluto? But I thought you were dead!"
"I got better." She smirked, walking up the princess and proffering her hand. Moon grabbed it and the presumably deceased Mistress of Time pulled her up to height easily. Red eyes looked the battered heir up and down, as if searching for something she couldn't readily identify before the overtly confident smirk returned. Neptune likewise stared incredulously in a vain attempt to parse her attention between the youma she had been delaying and the newly resurrected Senshi who, to the best of her recollection, had died in the deployment of her own forbidden time stop technique.
"I think I have a concussion," Ami blinked, staring at the green haired Senshi as she worked her way out from under the stricken amalgam of concrete rubble she had been embedded into. She cocked her head in study. "I'm seeing Sailor Pluto... But younger."
"No good deed goes unpunished!" Setsuna chirped sardonically and held out her bandage wrapped left hand, flexing it. The silver shaft of her garnet rod swirled into view, and she gave it a reflexive twirl as she took in the field of battle and the giant golems encroaching on them.
"Some kind of elementals, I think. Magic resistant and hard as hell to kill." She flexed her hand in memory of the recent beating she had just dispensed and glanced back over her shoulder to Sailor Moon. "Surprised you aren't keeping the innocents out of harm's way."
"We're the delaying action," Usagi remarked as she studied the girl with eyes born of Ami's own observation. Mercury was right. Setsuna- This Setsuna -was younger than the one that had been erased from existence at the hands of her own technique. In fact, she looked only fifteen or sixteen, if the princess didn't know any better, and her attitude was completely off from the mysterious cloak her former incarnation had worn. Instead of a quiet, mysterious reserve, it was an overt cloak of confidence worn for the entire world to see and marvel at. Usagi's train of thought paused as it picked across a specific word.
The word resonated within the blonde's thoughts, though she didn't quite know what to make of it in the here and now. Later, she decided as one of the closer golems dug itself out of the store front it had been knocked into by Neptune. Right now, she had other things to worry about and she brought Pluto up to speed.
"The others are holding the line outside, but it took everything I had just to get them out of this mess," The blond advised, wiping a smear of blood from her lips. Pluto's expression turned a fraction more serious. "I'm pretty much out of it and we still have to go through more of these things to get back to reinforce the others."
"Same shit, different day." Setsuna nodded sympathetically, earning another surprised blink from Michiru as the Guardian turned away from Sailor Moon to face the primary threat: Three more giant youma approaching them from different angles. One was dragging a forklift along the ground as if it were a club, while the others approached from the left and right.
The smile returned as she considered the trio, twirling the garnet rod in hand. The feral glitter in her red eyes didn't go unnoticed either. If Neptune didn't know any better, she could have sworn that her fellow Outer was actually spoiling for this fight. Pluto nodded, as if coming to an internal decision. "I'll take point. Merc. Tunes. Hammer the snot out of whatever slacker I'm beating on and don't worry if I'm in the crossfire."
It took Mercury and Neptune a full three seconds to realize their new aliases and in those seconds the emerald haired teen fully deployed her staff off her left flank and settled into a low crouch. "Ready?"
Their newly resurrected colleague didn't wait for a reply and launched into a hard sprint to engage the center youma directly. The creature's' massive hand swept in to brush her aside with several tons of force, only to serve as a rest for her handstand to flip over the monumental demon and tag it in the head on the way past with a bandage wrapped fist. Stone flakes jumped away from the strike as Setsuna passed overhead to land lightly behind the youma.
Mercury's opening salvo connected even as the golem turned to track the new threat. Hardened water tore stone away from its torso, while Pluto's own kick flashed out into its fully exposed left flank. What looked like a single thrust was in reality a jackhammer assault, pulverizing the monster's midsection into rubble while rain pattered down around her from Ami's expended attack. The tortured earthen creature lurched backward a step, only to stumble into a horizontal waterspout that ground yet another layer of stone from the beast's surface.
The teenage girl took advantage of the creature's stunned state and pointed her free hand down range at one of the unengaged golems. A blue sphere of power conjured within her grasp and separated, eating through the twenty meter distances within seconds to detonate along her new target's left shoulder. Setsuna didn't get a chance to assess the battle damage has her closest opponent took another swipe at her; one claw tearing up the concrete she had side stepped away from, then meeting the silver length of her staff in deflection.
The second golem plowed into their melee like a freight train, and the demon's full sprint sent it headlong into the first as the green haired Senshi once again used her first opponent as a spring board. She cleared the carnage of stone even as more water and ice based attacks impacted the now entangled pair. Setsuna's own arc through open air twisted through an improbable flip that helped her build the catalyst for her next attack that sighted the last youma in their direct vicinity.
"Hiyru Toppa Ha!"
Usagi's eyes widened as the technique was unleashed at the top of Setsuna's jump, freeing an elemental wind attack that wound its way into the third youma to literally lift the multi-ton monster off its feet and dig a deep, penetrating gouge into its back. The teenager landed lightly and charged her next attack immediately; pointing the garnet rod down range. "Dead Scream!"
The third golem was still bellowing in pain from Setsuna's first attack when it was tagged by the second. The neon pink ball of power seemed to do less over all damage than its tornado counterpart, but still sheared more stone away, aggravating an already deep wound. The golem considered its own charge to melee when it took an elemental bolt of water to the side of the head, forcing the creature back even further.
Her closest opponent had been left unmolested for too long, and Pluto spun around on a heel to hastily deflect a giant stone fist with the silver staff, then another. It vibrated in hand from the strikes, but she pressed her defense into an offense, spinning out of an attempt to stomp her flat with its stumpy stone legs and deflected another sweeping claw to fully open the golem's guard.
Setsuna reset the Garnet Rod's position so that its base pointed directly into the stone construct's chest, then gave it a thrust.
The golem simply exploded outright.
Moon, Mercury and Neptune watched as the monster spontaneously detonated, engulfing everything in the immediately area in a violently expanding cloud of dust and stone. Visibility on the teen was lost completely for a moment until she back flipped out of the stricken area followed by the second golem now. She landed and immediately executed another handspring in retreat as the creature pummeled the earth she had just vacated. The girl wasn't being given enough time to reposition herself, and continued to retreat until landing next to the trio, who in turn braced to attack.
The next descending claw bound ineffectually off the pink haze of Setsuna's improvised defense. She disconnected the jeweled orb from the garnet rod entirely, holding it out as if it were a physical shield. The stone demon snarled and hit raked the barrier again ineffectually.
"I can't believe you just made that youma explode!" The blond leader of their group gushed.
Setsuna favored Usagi with a measure of arrogance before her eyes glittered with excitement. "I know! Wasn't that so cool?"
Michiru's cheek twitched with the completely uncharacteristic display of teenage enthusiasm from her fellow Outer, then glanced back at the youma they were holding at bay with the shield. Behind it, the third golem was shambling up to their position to try its own luck. Neptune shook her head, leveling her gaze back on Pluto. "Yes, but can you do it again?"
"I didn't think it was going to work honestly," The green haired Senshi suddenly looked a bit sheepish. "Took me forever to find its breaking point to begin with."
"More importantly, how long can you hold this shield for?" Ami's question earned the attention of the others. They followed her gaze past the looming youma to another two negotiating the rail yard to the east. Another stone fist pounded against Setsuna's barrier, causing her to wince.
"I...I don't know," Her confident cloak she wore seemed to wash away in favor of uncertainty. "This is only the second time I've been able to pull it off successfully."
"Only the second?" The admission completely baffled Neptune yet again. Whatever had happened to her; this was not the Guardian of Pluto she once knew. That Pluto was ineffably calm. Mysterious. She held a quiet reserve and her arsenal sure as hell didn't include wind elemental attacks, hand to hand beat downs and fierce roaring tiger shots, whatever the hell those were.
"Then we're back to square one," Ami noted matter-of-factly, interrupting Michiru's train of thought. "I'm beginning to feel the strain myself. Neptune, how much-"
"Daddy? I'm kind of in a situation right now." Ami blinked, turning back to the green haired teen who held the garnet orb in one hand and now a cellphone in the other. Usagi stared and Michiru watched as if the girl had grown a second head even as she continued the one-sided conversation. Setsuna affected an exasperated teenage sigh. "Yes, it's what you're watching on TV. Yes, Daddy, But-! I know you told me so. Alright. I love you too."
Another punch slammed against the barrier, but it was ignored in favor of the girl snapping her flip phone shut. Michiru couldn't take it anymore and asked the question with uncharacteristic bluntness.
"Daddy?" She stared incredulously at the teen claiming to be the Mistress of Time in a now desperate bid to answer questions a long time in coming. "Pluto-chan, what in the world is going on?"
"We have to hold out for ten minutes," The teen stated decisively, either not noticing or caring about Neptune's consternation. Ami glanced back at the new golems lumbering toward them, then the ones at their shielded doorstep.
"I'm not even sure we'll be able to hold out for five."
"What happens in ten minutes?" Usagi asked; her own tension filtering through her normally optimistic tone. Setsuna simply smiled back at her. It was a fierce, unyielding grim smile that she had never seen the Senshi wear before. It sent a subtle shiver down her spine.
"In ten minutes, Daddy brings the pain."
Author's Notes: Holyknight posed a question... If you were to make Ranma the parent of a senshi, what senshi would it be, excluding Hotaru, Pluto and Usagi? Obviously, I was probably the last person one should want to pose this question to and here is the result. Keep in mind I get four canon's to choose from and will be using them as I see fit. Likewise, you'll undoubtedly be interested in the ground rules. I shall be happy to provide them.
Fuku: Ranma, No.
Lock: Ranma, No.
Reincarnation: Ranma, No.
More Setsy? Yeah, I know. I really shouldn't. But this one is diamonds. I can't pass it up. For those that were sad to see Age of Titans on the decom list, take heart... some of its elements got cannibalized into a bigger, better fic. Obligatory, yes, A Time Apart is still up and running.
Golem: In Jewish folklore, an artificially created human supernaturally endowed with life. In AD&D culture, an artificial construct- usually earthen in nature; stone, metal etc -animated by magic. These creatures are usually magic resistant and will pwn your mage if left unprotected.
Glorious Ice Shields; Don't go looking for this one. Even the senshi are allowed to improvise new techniques every now and then.
A ship is fine too; Originally no matches were intended, but we're having so much fun here that was impossible for me to resist this little tid-bit either. I'll savor your mage tears later. The only hint I'll provide in that direction is that it won't be Setsuna. Or Akane. But then, you should know that by now ;)
Special Thanks; Ah, the usual suspects. DD, MateriaBlade, Holyknight, Slade13