This was originally published by me under the name Anduril at Anime Addventures, with the only changes being a few corrections in spelling, punctuation and the occasional word choice to make things clearer. If you like the beginning of my story but think I've gone off the rails, or have your own ideas for a great branch-off, or think I'm taking too long to update and want to continue the story yourself, come to Anime Addventures and join in the fun!

I claim no ownership rights to any of the works of Rumiko Takahashi, Naoko Takeuchi, or anything in the GURPS Ogre and GURPS Tales of the Solar Patrol settings published by Steve Jackson Games. Everything else is mine.


1943: The U.S. Department of the Navy decides against funding the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) project.

1945: Budget issues and a management crisis at Bell Labs derail work into improved telecommunication switches. The transistor is never invented.

1956-1964: Humanity struggles to reach the stars, but both Soviet and American efforts to launch and sustain artificial satellites fail. No rocket design proves capable of carrying itself to orbit. The first primitive general-purpose computers appear to help solve rocketry problems, but they cannot fulfill the requirements of the space program.

1998: The euro becomes the official currency of the European Union, except in the U.K.

2001: Islamic terrorists using hijacked jetliners bring down the World Trade Center and attack the Pentagon.

2005: Claiming economic and security concerns, the European Union annexes the Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovakia, and Vojvodina, creating a protectorate. Russian protests are ineffectual.

2009: European Union annexes Balkan nations, US withdraws from the UN. Ranma is frozen in girl-form, gains protection from magical influence, and remembers a past life as Princess Usagi's little sister while resisting Happosai's final attack; she leaves the Tendo dojo with Akane. An interdimensional invasion is repelled.


Akane ignored the drying bloodstains soaked into her red, white and blue costume — uniform. She was too busy staring at the block of pseudo-Roman soldiers marching straight at her. Almost a hundred soldiers.

Tearing her eyes away from the enemy formation, her gaze fell on Kuno, drawn katana in a hand whitening with the strength of his grip, eagerness in every line, eyes begging for the word that would send him charging to his death.

Say it.

Tearing her eyes from the young man she'd hated more than any other, she looked across the battlefield at the Senshi gathered around a pillar, fire and ice contesting for supremacy from opposite sides with the crystalline column caught in the middle. There lay safety, her task done, she could leave the portal to the enemy. But the portal ...

Her shifted shifted again, to focus on the shimmering gray circle hanging in the air, where her lover fought her own battle. Unwillingly, her eyes dropped to where its base touched the ground, and the river of blood running out of the doorway to form a rapidly spreading pool on the ground.

Say it!

"My Lady, should I charge?"

The youngest Tendo again looked up at the true samurai, his face alight with need, then past him to the still approaching formation. It was closer, now — much closer — and coming at a trot.

She opened her mouth to give the order, but the words stuck in her throat, she couldn't force them through, couldn't breathe...

SAY IT!

And she jerked awake as her lover's elbow slammed into a breast. Eyes instantly wide open, she looked around wildly to find herself in their massive bed, their suite in the mini-palace at Nikko almost a new world in the shadows cast by the faint light of deep night coming through the windows, the luxury covered by dark shadows.

Beside her, Ranma was twisting, almost flailing, crying for someone to go back, to run away.

Sighing, Akane, twisted onto her side to gently pull the once and present princess against her. "Shhh, it's all right, it's over, I'm here," she whispered in Ranma's ear over and over, until redhead finally relaxed and snuggled up against her.

Aren't we a pair? Akane thought, looking out the window at the stars as she listened to Ranma's quiet breathing. A month, and we're both still dreaming about it. At least Ranma doesn't know about my nightmares, I think — not as deep a sleeper as she is. Maybe the change of scenery when we go back to Tokyo tomorrow — today — will help, once we get through the family dinner, and visit Yuka and Sayuri on Sunday before returning to the apartment. It'll be good to see Usa and Hotaru again, talking on the phone just isn't enough. Though living with Nabiki and going back to school is going to seem odd, after getting treated like royalty for a couple months. Not that Ranma won't be happy to get away from all this. Me too, I think.

Gently kissing her lover on the cheek, the raven-haired girl drifted off to sleep with a smile on her face, to thoughts of teachers and classes, ice cream parlors and Sayuri and Yuka mixed together with Hotaru and Usa.

/oOo\

Akane looked around the comfortably familiar family room of what was no longer home, at the extended family sitting around the larger table that had been brought in for the occasion. Inside her, something relaxed. However angry she had been — and still was — she had missed this.

To Akane's right, Ranma was talking to Akane's father and Doc Tofu, discussing what she had learned in her drive to create ki attacks not charged by emotions, and her worries about how easy it was once someone learned how to sense their internal ki.

To Akane's left, Nodoka, Nabiki and Kasumi were discussing the finances for a wedding ceremony, and if it would be possible to hold it early enough that Kasumi's pregnancy wouldn't be showing.

And across the table from her ...

"I'm glad you're coming back to Tokyo for the Autumn school term," her former teacher said, "I never trusted those Amazons — delinquents, the lot of them, invading the school, disturbing classes ... I'm a little surprised that you two spent the last month out there."

"Ranma didn't feel like she had a choice, what with the casualties they took in the fight. And with the enemy soldiers left behind being moved close by while being taught about their new home, she wanted to be there in case they did something stupid," Akane replied, shrugging. "And where she goes, I go."

"I see." Hinako frowned at her former student. "I understand the two of you are sharing a room. You and Ranma haven't been ... delinquents, have you?" she demanded sternly.

Akane hurriedly shook her head even as a furious blush lit up her face. "No, ma'm!" she squeaked.

"Really? I find that hard to believe ... which means you're treating each other right."

"But with Ranma's curse gone, we don't —" What? Akane paused, running Hinako's last bit back again. Oh. Beside her, Ranma relaxed with a chuckle (giggle) and turned back to her conversation as Hinako giggled.

"I'm sorry, I couldn't resist," Hinako apologized after fighting her giggles under control. "Even if I was still capable of a five yen kill, I wouldn't have used it on you — even if I thought you were misbehaving, you aren't my students any longer."

Akane stiffened. "You can't? I knew you were stuck in your adult form, but ..."

But Hinako was shaking her head even as Ranma broke off talking again to listen in. "I'm not 'stuck' in my adult form," Hinako corrected. "Like Ranma, the doctors tell me I'm a perfectly healthy young woman, and Tofu" — smiling at the young doctor — "tells me that whatever Hap ... whatever was done to me is gone. His best guess is that when I overcharged to the point of exploding, it obliterated Hap ... the alterations to my ki."

"Ya can say the Freak's name, it's just a word," Ranma said, ignoring the way she had tightened up even as a concerned Akane reached up to gently squeeze her lover's shoulder. "But ya had health problems when the Freak saved yer life, didn't ya? None a' that comin' back?"

"No, nothing. Like I said, I'm perfectly healthy," Hinako assured them. "I simply can't drain ki now, or project it."

"But can ya sense it?" Ranma asked intently.

Hinako frowned thoughtfully. "Yes, I can. Is this important?"

Ranma shrugged. "From what I've been learnin' ... maybe. I'll be wantin' ta talk ta you an' Tendo-san later." She fell silent for a moment, then asked, "D'ya miss it — bein' able ta turn into a kid?"

"I miss the freedom that came with my child form, the uncomplicated worldview, and cuddling up with Soun," the tall brunette mused. "But overall — no, I don't miss the mood swings from hormone overloads, being considered a freak, or being treated like a little child when I had decades of experience. And then there was the way it complicated things for me and Soun, kept him from reopening the dojo, and especially the way we couldn't get married. Now, all that's gone, Soun will be restarting classes, and I can finally accept his offer of marriage without worrying about how it'll look. And with some luck, we'll soon have a little one of our own to cuddle."

"You're getting married?" Kasumi broke in to ask. Hinako nodded, and the entire table stared at the normally calm, collected young woman's squee of delight. "Oh, we must make it a joint ceremony! When did you want to do it? Do you want a traditional ceremony or a Western one? Who did you want to invite? I know it's only been a month, but you aren't pregnant ... ?"

/oOo\

Setsuna twitched at the sound of her alarm clock going off. Not that the Senshi of Time had needed its help, she had spent the last few hours staring up into the dark. And her infallible time sense knew exactly what time it was — 2:05 a.m., Saturday, the twelfth of September, Anno Domini two thousand and nine. And it was time.

Sighing, the emerald-haired woman sat up in her bed, rubbed her weary eyes, then rose and without bothering to change out of her lingerie transformed into her black and white Senshi uniform. Garnet Staff in hand, she stepped to the Time Gates.

For a few minutes, she simply stood in the mists that drifted around the massive gates, watching the flickering random images flash across the doors, before finally steeling herself. Raising her staff, she froze the images, and moments later this scene shifted to a seacoast city, a dark glass skyscraper dominating a wavy line of smaller skyscrapers running from the river that cut through the city. Boston, 11:58:37 a.m., Eastern Standard Time.

Taking a deep breath, she set the scene into motion, and exactly fifteen seconds later a flash of light dawned in the middle of the skyscrapers, obliterating them in an instant in a fireball hundreds of yards across. The fireball died in seconds, replaced by a shockwave of smoke and dust racing outward in all directions, effortlessly sweeping away buildings close to the blast, turning windows and glass doorways into slashing shrapnel farther out. In the center of the devastation, the mushroom cloud of hot ash and smoke familiar to schoolchildren for over sixty years rose above the city. The fires that had devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki had come for the birthplace of the American Revolution.

The scene reached the point in time that Pluto had appeared before the Time Gates and froze. For long minutes she simply stared at the frozen image, face hard. Eventually, she reset the scene: 10:58: 42 a.m., Central Standard Time, the Gateway Arch, St. Louis on the banks of the Mississippi; 8:59:50 a.m., Pacific Standard Time, the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco on the Pacific coast; 5:01:39 p.m., Greenwich Mean Time, Big Ben in the heart of London. In each scene, she watched as the same fires devoured the heart of the city.

When the dark mushroom cloud spreading over London froze, she gazed at it for long shuddering breath after long, shuddering breath, before finally releasing the image, turning away as the Time Gates reverted to the flickering random images of before. She stepped away.

/\

Pluto appeared outside the gates of a former Buddhist temple in the city of Nekomi. Waiting at the gate was a breathtakingly beautiful brown-haired apparently young woman in flowing robes, the elongated diamond mark between her eyes and triangles on each cheek glowing faintly in the night, an aura of pure peace seeming to radiate out from her to sink into Pluto's tortured soul.

"You know, of course," Pluto said, her shaking voice harsh.

Belldandy nodded, reaching out a hand. "Yes, I do," she replied.

Pluto took the offered hand and allowed the goddess to pull her through the gate onto the grounds, where Belldandy led her over to a wide cushioned swing seat off to the side of the central building, underneath a large tree. The goddess sat at one end, and Pluto jabbed the Garnet Staff deep into the ground and left it standing upright where it was impaled before joining her friend.

As soon as the fuku-clad woman was seated, Belldandy pulled her friend's head down against her shoulder, murmuring comfort. Pluto felt the other arm circle her waist and clutched at her friend as her body began to shake. Slowly over long minutes, the tremors eased and eventually vanished.

Finally, when she could trust her voice, she let go of her friend and sat up. "Thank you, as always," she whispered.

"As always, no thanks is necessary, it is what I live for," Belldandy replied. "But you are very welcome, and always welcome here." Offering the Senshi of Time a blanket she hadn't had a moment before, the goddess continued, "Now, why don't you get some sleep? The morning will be here soon enough."

Pluto nodded. Wrapping herself in the subtly sweet-scented blanket, she lay down on the swing seat with her head in Belldandy's lap. The seat began to gently swing back and forth, and Belldandy started to softly sing what had to be a lullaby in perhaps the one language spoken on Earth that Pluto didn't know. A moment later another heavenly voice began singing accompaniment. Pluto glanced up and smiled to see Belldandy's angel Holy Bell hovering over her mistress, mouth open in song and her eyes filled with love.

Pluto smiled as she closed her eyes and she felt Belldandy begin gently stroking her hair. In the morning, her princess would be calling a meeting of the Senshi as soon as she learned of what had happened in the United States and Great Britain, and the Guardian of the Future would have to tell her young friends that there was nothing they could have done to prevent it without making things worse in the long run, that there was nothing they could do now to help for the same reason, and that it was finally time to take the no longer so Small Lady home and pick up Luna and Artemis. But for a few hours she could let the future take care of itself, and she faded off to the sound of the soft, warm, loving voice of her oldest living friend singing her to sleep.


The title comes from the song sung by Gordon Lightfoot. Don't take this to indicate my own views of the actual past, present or future of the US — it's plot driven, and the lyrics simply seem to me to fit the situation of the ongoing collapse of the West (feel free to ignore the last two lines, Kami-sama won't be making any appearances even if the Norns do on occasion):

Turn around, go back down, back the way you came
Can't you see that flash of fire ten times brighter than the day
And behold the mighty city broken in the dust again
Oh God, the pride of man, broken in the dust again

Turn around, go back down, back the way you came
Babylon is laid to waste, Egypt's buried in her shame
Their mighty men are beaten down, their kings have fallen in the ways
Oh God, the pride of man, broken in the dust again

Turn around, go back down, back the way you came
Terror is on every side, lo the leaders are dismayed
Those who put their faith in fire, in fire their faith shall be repaid
Oh God, the pride of man, broken in the dust again

Turn around, go back down, back the way you came
Shout a warning to the nations that the sword of God is raised
On Babylon that mighty city, rich in treasure, wide in fame
It shall cause thy tower to fall and make it be a pyre of flame
Oh God, the pride of man, broken in the dust again

Oh thou that dwell on many waters, rich in treasure, wide in fame
Bow unto a god of gold, thy pride of might shall be thy shame
Oh God, the pride of man, broken in the dust again

And only God can lead the people back into the earth again
Thy holy mountain be restored, thy mercy on thy people, Lord!

Reviews are always much appreciated. Here's responses for the last chapter of the previous story.

Generally, Genma's death. I can understand that some might miss a final fight, and find his death by poison unsatisfying. I personally find it an ironic ending, where after all those years making himself one of the finest martial artists in the world all his training proves useless. Also, it was an example of how ruthless Pluto can be at need, without much concern for national laws — Genma had proven himself an evil git that was a threat to those she cared for and needed and had outlived his usefulness, so she stomped on him like a bug, with her only regret being that she enjoyed the thought of what Hild would have in store for him.

Vld: Glad you liked the story, thanks. And yes, Ranma and Akane (and Hotaru and Chibi-Usa) are between seventeen and eighteen - they are all in their last year of high school except Ranma, and she would be if she was still attending school. As for what Ranma's children, you are right about the training (though Ranma will be holding off on teaching what she's developed - talk about handing hand grenades to children!), but at the moment I don't envision them inheriting any Senshi powers. Ranma didn't, after all. (And for the suicidal bit, there's going to be a whole government that falls into that category, but that's a few story arcs down the line. ^_~) And yes, I agree — the time-manipulating version of Setsuna definitely has one of the toughest jobs around, bar none.

tuatara: I was able to puzzle out your little Latin, though it took me a bit. And yeah, past a certain point the total number of casualties just becomes "many" - millions or billions, the impact is much the same. For AMG references, I can't remember if I snuck any in in the second story arc, but in the first Setsuna paid Belldandy a visit, and later mentioned her to the Senshi in relation to her part in Camelot. But the AMG cast are going to have cameos at most - the power player in that story make the Senshi look like children. For the US, the meta-plot reason is that, even with Crystal Tokyo no longer in the future, the US currently occupies the place that I eventually want Japan to fill — undisputed top dog on the international stage. So for Japan to rise the US must fall, somehow. Of course, getting there is going to take awhile... And yes, Akane as surrogate mother is the closest she's going to get to bearing Ranma's child for awhile, though if enough story arcs get written eventually the technology will catch up.

Aceina: I don't want anyone to think that I don't have anything but respect for single mothers doing their best for their children — I've known my share, and they're some of the strongest people I know. But the statistics on this are clear, children raised by single mothers simply don't turn out as well on average. And in this case, Pluto was trying to talk Shampoo around, give her a reason to continue (and get Doug and his family out of the US). For the marriage thing in general, while I certainly prefer romantic love being a prime reason that people get married, through most of history that has rarely been the case. Even when it is the case, if the couple doesn't go into the marriage with a hardheaded take on what marriage is (or wake up to reality later) all they're going to do is guarantee a short marriage and unhappy breakup. Nor does a romantic element in a marriage's origin mean it can't be a happy marriage. In Ranma's case, it'll probably be a show marriage, with a united public front and the children and international politics being the major union of interest. In Shampoo's case, though she's officially married now she'll have a year to put her life back together after Mousse's death before they act on it, and the two's mutual interests will be strong.