Black Ranger appeared in the vault seconds after Kuno uttered the transformation words with his Power Ax in hand. Green Ranger nodded his head and said, "Okay Black Ranger you'll have to pay attention as your initial training will be as you go. You're much stronger and durable in your ranger form than you're used to. However, you can still be killed. Now on to lesson one: pull down on this end of your Power Axe until it locks with the base. Good, now point that end at the youma and fire. Your ax can be used in melee combat, but for now we need to clear a path out of here!" As soon as Green finished showing Black what to do, he joined the bombardment with a beam from his dagger. Black was a little hesitant as he first fired his ax, but confidence quickly came to him.
After about a minute of constantly being attacked, the youma were forced to back away from the vault. Green Ranger called out, "Alright team let's move it! White goes first and set up another line at that column. Black, I want you to go with Neptune and Uranus so that they can cover you. Move it people!" Green immediately fired his dagger beam at a group of youma that were starting to reform. White promptly followed his orders while the Senshi helped Black get used to the team's dynamics as they followed behind White. Once White got in position, Green started running to join them.
Neptune pulled out her scanner and frowned. "Anti-transporter fields have been set up in the hall. We need to travel almost 1400 meters down the way we came before we can leave. There's a chamber about 200 meters away that we can transport out of here, but we'll need to break down a few walls to get to it."
Green nodded his head and said, "Get on it you three. Black and I will provide cover fire." White, Neptune, and Uranus looked at each other for a second until Neptune pointed at a specific spot on the wall. All three nodded their heads, charged their attacks, and fired them at the same location. Green pulled Black down so that they'd be out of the debris field. The group's leader turned around and saw the new entrance. He then called out, "Split cover fire Beta Pattern and move!" White whipped around and used Saba to shoot at the youma in the hall. Neptune and Uranus fired their attacks into the entrance they had just made to clear it of potential enemies. To their surprise, Zoicite's severed head was sent flying by their attacks. Sensing that Black would have a problem at the sight, Green privately spoke to him. "The enemy general was probably caught in the wall's destruction. Focus on fighting now and you can puke in disgust once we're all safe."
Once everyone was in the room, White Ranger shot at the ceiling in a particular spot so as to seal the hastily made entrance with rubble. The group moved about twenty meters down the room until they reached the farthest point on the opposite wall from where they had entered. Once again, the trio spotted a location on the wall and fired. As soon as the new doorway was made, the quintet fired a clearing shot and then rushed through.
The group found themselves in the far corner of the Dark Kingdom's throne room with several dozen youma running around in disarray. White and Uranus immediately took a defensive position around Black and Neptune. Neptune quickly looked at her scanner and said, "I'll need a few seconds to boost the signal for our transport."
However, none of that mattered to Green Ranger when he spotted the throne and saw Beryl sitting on it. All he could think of at that moment was his poor sweet sister imprisoned in her own body that had in turn been warped by Metalia. It had been his fault that Beryl had endured the pains of betrayal. His actions had in part led to her being susceptible to the dark entity. He had failed to save her once and it had led to the greatest catastrophe in history now vaguely speculated at as the Toba supereruption. For over 75,000 years Beryl had been trapped in this hell and Green could stand it no longer. Green shocked his comrades by tossing the power coin case to Black and then summoning Hellfriede. He rushed out while White yelled out, "What the hell do you think you're doing?"
An almost savage fury filled Green as he practically howled out, "I'm freeing my sister!" Several youma tried to get between the enraged ranger and their queen only to be cut down like wheat before a reaper. The rest of his team and the other, more distant, youma could only watch the charge in shock and amazement. Green closed the distance between him and his sister in seconds and then jumped into the air ready to cut her in half.
Beryl raised her arm and pointed the palm of her hand towards Green Ranger ready to blast him. Her crimson eyes burned with possessed hatred. However, Beryl's hand refused to form an energy attack and her hand started shaking. Shock and horror filled her eyes as her neck started to shift so that Green could have better access to her jugular vein. The dark queen's face became a twist of outrage and victory as Hellfriede connected to her and severed her head.
Green Ranger landed at the base of the throne with his sword bathed in his sister's blood. Everyone, Ranger, Senshi, and youma stared in shock that Green had actually done what he had just done. The aforementioned ranger turned around and looked at his sister's severed head for a second. He then knelt down and closed her eyes whispering, "Sleep in peace my dear Beryl."
The surrounding stillness of the throne room ended when a small red crystal emerged from the dead queen's chest and shot into Green Ranger. Immediately afterword, black lighting started to crackle around Beryl's remains. The lighting quickly began to get stronger in intensity and frequency prompting Green to rush towards his allies. Luckily for the team, Neptune had kept her head enough to cut through the Dark Kingdom's interference so that they could teleport out.
Green Ranger ended his Ranger form as soon as the transport ended with the team in the Fortress and then collapsed to his knees. Ranma let out a blood curdling scream of agony as his body started shifting between his male and female forms in a random pattern. Neptune and Uranus immediately rushed over to try and help their beloved. "Medical bay," Ranma growled out as he could barely speak because of his constantly shifting mouth, "hibernation chamber." Neptune and Uranus looked at each other before nodding their heads. Neptune ran off towards the medical bay like the hounds of hell were after her. Uranus picked up Ranma carefully as his/her rapidly shifting mass made it difficult for Uranus to hold her lover. Just before they left Ranma called out, "White take charge."
Black Ranger stared at the door the others had left through in shock. "Ranma Saotome is the Green Ranger?" Black said this with a hint of shock and awe. Ever since his appearance, the Green Ranger had been a source of inspiration to Black. After all, the first Ranger was like a legendary samurai who had emerged to defend Japan from the Dark Kingdom. On the other hand, Black thought of Ranma as a decent fellow with wisdom greater than his age. It was just shocking to him that Ranma and Green Ranger were one in the same.
White was nervous and worried for Ranma. However, he knew that he couldn't lose his head and was able to keep calm. He then turned to Black and said, "Power down like this." He then demonstrated what to do by powering down himself. Mamoru waited for Black to power down as well before continuing. "I don't know who you are, but Ranma knows you and trusts you enough to give you a power coin. Don't abuse that trust because we're at war here and need everyone we can to fight the Dark Kingdom. My name is Mamoru Chiba and you are?"
Kuno calmly, due to shock and awe, replied, "My name is Tatewaki Kuno age 17 of Furinkan High. I am usually referred to as Kuno by my classmates."
Mamoru nodded his head and said, "Okay Kuno welcome to Rangers. Rule one, you listen to whatever I, Michiru, Haruka, and especially Ranma tells you. Rule two, you don't reveal the identities of the Rangers or the Senshi to anyone and you don't talk about being a ranger to anyone but those who we tell you are in the know. Our operation depends on our anonymity. Rule three; all actions you take in battle as a ranger are to be reported after the battle so that a briefing can be prepared for the Japanese government. Finally, 'free time' is no longer in your vocabulary as you'll have to focus your time on training when you're not fighting. Now follow me to the medical bay."
The two young men marched through the fortress on their way to the medical bay with Mamoru giving quick explanations about important items that Kuno would need to know about. Soon enough, the duo reached the medical bay and Mamoru led them over to one of the more critical wings. Both men let out small gasps of surprise when they saw Michiru and Haruka holding each other and looking forlornly at a crystal enclosed table. Ranma was resting inside the crystal on the table. The young ranger's body was a nightmarish mishmash of his male and female forms with a look of utter agony on his face.
"Why?" Michiru whispered in shock and dismay. "Why did this happen to you Ranma? What could we have done to prevent this? How are we going to cure you?" Michiru then lost all of her composure and collapsed onto the crystal mound. "I swear Ranma that I find a way to save you. I don't care how; I can't lose you."
Haruka placed one hand on Michiru's shoulder and the other on the crystal above Ranma's heart. "Don't worry love, we'll find a way to set this all right. Don't worry as we'll get you back to normal soon and then we can all laugh about this back home." Although Haruka tried to sound brave, her brave front was ruined by the free flowing streams of tears and the quiver in her voice.
Mamoru decided to try and be productive by walking over to the chamber's terminal and running a series of diagnostics on Ranma. Luckily, the hibernation chambers had been built with the idea of people with new diseases or curses in mind and to keep them alive long enough for a cure to be discovered. The first battery of tests revealed that something was seriously wrong with Ranma's Jusenkyo curse which was obvious to everyone. However, it didn't give any indication as to what was causing the problem. Finally, after almost fifteen minutes an answer appeared on the screen. "Heads up everyone, I've found to the source of Ranma's problems."
Like lighting, Kuno and the girls rushed the terminal and expectantly waited for Mamoru to explain what was wrong with Ranma. "Okay, as you know girls Ranma has a Jusenkyo curse. For your information Kuno, Ranma has a curse that will cause him to turn into a girl when splashed with cold water and the curse is reversed when Ranma touches hot water. This means that Ranma has two bodies if you will from a magical perpective. Now here is where things start to get strange if I'm reading this analysis correctly. When Ranma killed Beryl, he freed her soul from Metalia's control. Beryl's soul sought the nearest safe harbor if you will because of the nature of the Dark Kingdom and that happened to be Ranma. So now Ranma has two souls and two bodies with each soul seeing the other body as their natural body to Jusenkyo. In short, Ranma has caused his Jusenkyo curse to collapse in a logic loop as it tries to place him in his natural form while recognizing and rejecting both forms."
Michiru frowned as she listened to what Mamoru had just told them. "Why hasn't Beryl's soul left Ranma?" Everyone turned to stare at her causing the musician to become defensive. "I mean, it sort of makes sense that Beryl's soul would seek safe harbor with the reincarnated soul of her brother given how bad things are in the Dark Kingdom. But we are no longer in the Dark Kingdom. What is keeping Beryl's soul from leaving to join all of the other departed souls?"
Mamoru turned his attention back to his computer and racked his brain trying to think of what he should do. Damn it, he only knew enough about all this medical equipment to insure that his comrades could live until professional help could arrive. That problem was that medical technomages no longer existed so the professional help couldn't arrive. It was only the need to help Ranma and keep everyone else calm that prevented him from shaking and being covered in a nervous sweat. Mamoru read through the confusing charts and values displayed in a desperate attempt to understand what he was seeing.
After a few more minutes Mamoru gave up and sighed. "I have no clue why Beryl's soul is staying in Ranma's body. I'm going to spend some time researching what the computer's telling me, but we really need a magical doctor to help us out."
Kuno frown and asked, "What will happen if we cannot heal Ranma?"
A dark look crossed Mamoru's face as he thought about that scenario. "If we can't heal Ranma, he'll have to remain in hibernation forever. I think that there are ways to allow his mind to interact with us even if his body remains in hibernation. That is one of the things that I'll be looking into later today. However," Mamoru paused as he couldn't believe that he was even thinking this. "Ranma may order us to terminate him so as to free up his powers for another Ranger if the situation gets too bad."
Usagi was sitting in a meditative pose in a small chamber in a distant wing of Charon Palace. Currently, the reborn princess was sitting naked in chest high cold and fowl smelling sludge. The Ginzuishou was resting on a velvet stand next to Sailor Pluto who was standing on a balcony twenty feet above Usagi's head. Every so often, an electic current would flow through the sludge making the princess scream in agony. Unable to decide if she should die from the cold, the smell, or the pain, Usagi yelled out at her torturer mentor. "How does doing all of this help me save Naru again?"
Sailor Pluto held back a grimace and forced herself to not jump down to rescue Usagi from the pit. "In order to heal your friend you need the power of the Ginzuishou and the skill to wield it. Under normal circumstances it would take you years to gain those skills on your own and Naru doesn't have that kind of time. Besides Naru's situation, we have the threat of the Dark Kingdom. Our only option to give you the needed power and skill is to cheat by getting you to access what you had in the Silver Millennium. To access those memories and skills, you need to be put into a life threatening situation where only those abilities can save you. But at the same time, the situation needs to be in such a way that a spiritual pressure develops in you so that you can break through the boundaries of reincarnation to get those skills."
"That sludge is an ancient imprisoning agent handed down to us from times before the Silver Millennium that prevents a senshi from drawing power from their celestial orb of strength. It fell out of favor during the Earth-Silver Millennium wars as the sludge was actually found to increase a Ranger's power. It was discovered later that this was because the Rangers' Power Grid is the yang to the Planetary Mana's yin that a Senshi uses. But enough with the history lesson, the sludge keeps you from being Sailor Moon while the cold and electricity would kill you if you were just a regular girl."
Usagi cut Sailor Pluto off as she let out a blood curdling scream of agony as the sludge started to glow from the current running through it. Pluto winced in sympathy and glanced over at the Ginzuishou and watched as the dull gem faintly glowed for a second. Usagi stopped screaming just before the silver glow vanished. Pluto nodded her head happy to see some visible progress that Usagi was succeeding in the training.
Knowing that it would be a while until the next burst of electricity, Sailor Pluto decided to finish her explanation. "Right now Usagi, you are only alive because you are subconsciously tapping into the Ginzuishou's power to stay alive. As the sludge gets colder and the amplitude of the electricity gets greater, you will be forced to draw more and more power from the Ginzuishou in order to stay alive. This will deepen your connection with the crystal allowing you to permanently draw more power from it. At the same time, this builds the pressure in you needed to break through to your Princess Serenity skills. Eventually that pressure will build enough so that you gain your previous skills with the Ginzuishou and can then free yourself from the pit. Once you free yourself you will only need a few weeks to fine tune your control enough to heal Naru. Best estimate has you reaching that point in around 72 hours give or take an hour."
Seconds after Sailor Pluto said this, another charge of electricity surged through making Usagi scream again. Pluto winced in sympathy as her princess's screams felt like knives being shoved into her chest. It would be infinitely easier on her nerves to leave Usagi alone during this training. After all, there was nothing that she could do to help the princess at this point. However, Pluto forced herself to stay and hear all of the pain that Usagi was suffering. She felt that it was her duty given that she had come up with the training when Usagi insisted that she learn how to use the Ginzuishou ASAP.
Although it was agonizing to watch her reincarnated goddaughter go through this, Pluto couldn't help feeling proud of Usagi. She had flinched at thought of the training when Pluto first mentioned it as the elder senshi had been extremely graphic about the torment she'd have to go through so as to dissuade the princess. But, Usagi had faced her fears about the pain and insisted on going through with this in order to save Naru. The least Pluto could do to honor Usagi's commitment was to stand by and watched the cost of her own actions.
Shampoo sighed as she walked into the Tsukino household feeling very nervous. The young Amazon had found out that Usagi was Sailor Moon today when the young woman had begun her extreme Ginzuishou training. Despite her previous thoughts of the 'crybaby', Shampoo couldn't help admiring Usagi's will and courage to go through that training. Anyone willing to do that for a friend did not deserve the label of crybaby or weakling.
There was one problem that Shampoo had with Usagi's new training regime: she was the one stuck explaining to the Tsukinos why Usagi wasn't going to be home for the next couple of days. Didn't Usagi realize the trouble she was putting her in with this? She could see it right now: I'm sorry Mrs. Tsukino, but your daughter is actually a magical girl and won't be home for the next couple of days because of hellish training that she is undergoing at the moment. Yeah, that would go over real well and she'd kiss Mousse full on the mouth!
Usagi expected Shampoo to come up with some sort of believable lie to fool her parents. It didn't matter how outrageous the lie was as long as it didn't involve her acting like a skank Usagi was willing to go along with it. Personally, Shampoo couldn't agree with Usagi's decision as she had been taught to always respect her elders. That meant Mr. and Mrs. Tsukino at the moment for her since they were responsible for her while she was in Japan. Shampoo couldn't understand why the Senshi were hiding their identities from their parents. If the parents knew what the girls were they could offer support and allow the girls to leave when needed to protect the city.
On the one hand, Shampoo could betray Usagi and the other senshis' trust and tell the Tsukinos just what their daughter was going through. They would be outraged that Usagi was hiding this from them, but Shampoo was certain that they would soon understand Usagi's burden and be proud of her. Doing that would almost certainly destroy the trust that the Senshi had in her and Shampoo didn't want that. But on the other hand, she could lie to the Tsukinos like Usagi asked. That would show the Senshi that she could be trusted and would help them listen to her better in training. However, that would mean betraying two people who had only been kind and understanding towards her.
What really added to Shampoo's confusion though, was the parting comment Setsuna had given her. "The princess's request isn't binding to you young Amazon. Do what your heart tells you is best thing to do and everything should work out. A city can be reached by many different roads." Shampoo wasn't quite sure how she was supposed to take that news. Did that mean she should tell the truth or did that mean she should lie? What did Setsuna mean by reaching a city by many different roads? There were only two options tell the truth or lie. It wasn't like she could tell the truth about lying or lie while being true.
Or could she? A thought popped into Shampoo's head that got her thinking about a possibly novel solution to her current conundrum. Usagi expected to come home and have to support an outlandish claim to explain her disappearance. But that didn't mean that the elder Tsukinos had to believe or even buy the explanation Usagi was claiming. If they were in the know, then they could create a story that would embarrass Usagi and nudge the young women into telling the truth on her own. It was a risky idea and could blow up in her face. But Shampoo figure it was the best she could do at the moment.
Genma woke up and was surprised to see that his idiot student was nowhere to be found. Although he'd never admit out loud, Genma was proud of both his students. Ranma was a genius at martial arts and backed up that talent with dedicated training. Mamoru was talented in his own way, but not in the same league as his son. However, Mamoru made up for this in his determination to protect as many people as he could. Pain didn't matter to those two young men as long as their pain insured that one more person would be safe. Normally, Mamoru would either be studying or training at this time in the morning.
Suddenly, the apartment phone started ringing. Genma huffed in annoyance and walked over to the phone. He picked it up and almost growled, "Hello this is the Chiba residence. My student isn't available to take a call at the moment so leave a message and I'll see that he gets it."
"Sensei, its Mamoru. Something happened to Ranma on our last mission. He's still alive, but we had to put him into hibernation here in the fortress. I've been pulling an all-nighter trying to help him and I've recently found a way to talk to Ranma even while his body is in hibernation. I'm going to transport you over to the fortress so that the three of us can talk about the current situation."
Genma frowned and then replied, "Alright Mamoru. I'll be ready to be transported in a moment." He then hung up the phone and stood straight. From what Mamoru had hinted over the past couple of weeks, being straight made the transportation feel smoother. Seconds later, a grey haze of energy covered the slightly portly martial artist as the transporter started.
The transport ended a moment later and Genma was shocked to find himself in the command center of the fortress. Genma was a bit unnerved at all of the science fiction like controls, but he quickly brushed that from his mind. What caught Genma's attention was Mamoru who was sitting by a terminal with a wastebasket full of empty Red Bull cans. There was a frazzled look in Mamoru's demeanor as he turned to look at Genma. Mamoru sighed and said, "Good you're here."
Genma grunted and replied, "You're the one who transported me here. Now what's this about being able to talk with Ranma even though he's in hibernation?"
Mamoru pointed to a large blue tube in the far corner of the command center. "That is an astral projector. It was primarily used to contact being that lived on different planes of existence. While there never was much need to talk with 'spirits' and such, the Earth Kingdom wasn't going to deny that they were a useful source of intelligence as most beings on other realms hated the Silvers. I've rigged up an interface so that we should be able to project Ranma's spirit into the tube and talk with him." Mamoru turned to his terminal and pressed a few buttons to activate the tube.
Static appeared in the tube like a terrible TV signal. Mamoru made a few adjustments on his terminal and the static started to take on the form of a human head. After another minute of fine tuning, Mamoru and Genma were looking at Ranma's head in the tube. Ranma looked around the command center assessing the situation. His voice then carried throughout the chamber. "I see you were able to find a way for us to talk even while I am in hibernation Mamoru. That's quite impressive given our backgrounds."
A small chuckle came from Mamoru. "Trust me Ranma, it wasn't easy. By this point I'm sure that my brain is half mush and my blood is caffeine laden sludge. Right now, I just want us to evaluate the current situation and then crash."
Ranma nodded his head and then said, "Our first task is to fill out our Ranger team. Shampoo would be a good fit for the Red Ranger powers. Unfortunately, I don't have the faintest clue who should become our Blue Ranger. That will be less important than the fact that our Mystical Beast Star Zord program Zords are almost complete. Our new rangers will need Zord piloting training first and foremost."
Mamoru blinked his eyes in confusion. "Why do you have all of this emphasis on the Zords, Ranma? I thought we were trying to avoid using the Zords because of the high collateral damage they cause in urban environments?"
The wise talking head quickly explained his reasoning. "Mamoru, we just invaded the Dark Kingdom, stole valuable military hardware, killed one of their top generals, and greatly wounded Metalia by killing her current host. In addition, we killed a large number of youma troops. There is a great possibility that Metalia will want payback once she regroups her forces. Large scale assaults may be inefficient for the Dark Kingdom in gathering energy compared to their usual stealth tactics. However, can you imagine the fear and panic that a dozen super-sized youma would cause if they started attacking Tokyo?"
Both Mamoru's and Genma's eyes widen in horror when they realized what Ranma was hinting at. Immediately, Mamoru started wracking his brain for a potential ranger to deal with this catastrophe. He looked up at Ranma and said, "What about Motoki Furukata as our new Blue Ranger? He can hold his own against typical street punks and is extremely good in vehicle simulators; particularly when it comes to combat games. I've known him for years so I can vouch that he is trustworthy."
Ranma nodded his head. "If you feel that Motoki is worthy of being the new Blue Ranger than it will be so Mamoru. Gather Shampoo and Motoki as soon as you get some sleep and then we can initiate them into being Rangers. Since my mind is no longer constricted to my physical limitations, I'll use the time you rest to look into a remote system for the Dragon Zords and the nearly completed Kirin Zord. At the very least I should be able to get the Kirin Zord to be able to unite with the other Zords for the Kibadaioh-class Megazord. Now hit your bed before you start to sleep on the terminal."
Just as Mamoru turned to go to his fortress quarters, Ranma called out. "Mamoru, remember that you are the Rangers' leader at the moment. I'll help however I can, but I'm off the front lines for the moment. Trust your skills and instincts; they will save you and carry you through."