Chapter 12 There is no love untouched by hate. No courage without fear.
Standing outside of time and space, before the pools of existence the two beings examined the flow.
"You are moving again. Trying for that perfection. I did not mean for that to happen when I created your world." The light intoned.
The dark looked passively. She had long grown past her frightening visage, as she gained more and more control of the old universe they had both belonged too. She was in her mind Perfection. She took all that existed, took it into herself and made it reflect her. As she was perfect, she would make all perfect, and unchanging.
"You sought the perfect world. My creation was inevitable once you created it"
"I CREATED an artificial world in a computer. I did not create some evil Ghost virus, who decided her programing required her to infect every level of reality above her.!"
"You are still the creator, knowingly or not, you gave me life, and I gave the universe a perfect being to emulate. You should be proud. Perfection overran the old universe, and I shall see it become perfect here."
"Avatars then? Again?. You know the rules, we take the same person, and pit them against each other until one is dominant."
"You lost to me before, with your sister. You will lose to me now as well."
The light remembered that loss. A miscalculation on her part. Her own sister formed from half of her and half of another sister had been split into two beings to act as avatars for the light and dark. While she chose correctly for the side of good, it was the wrong side for existence. Sometimes picking the morally correct can lead to a disaster.
The Two figures make their choice. Setsuna would represent them both, two forms fighting for dominance. Their fight would decide continuance or stagnation in the future.
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Two weeks in the past
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Rei had stormed off after her dressing down from her princess. Round and round her mind went, trying to make sense of the events as they occurred. A new enemy has arrived one that was realistically immune to the scouts as they stood now. She had almost killed someone that looked like a demon but appeared in the end to be an innocent. She had stepped over some lines with her friends earning her a serious dressing down by someone who was more or less her Queen. To top this all off she could no longer feel the touch of the sacred fire within her. She felt cold inside.
"Stepped over some lines?" Rei said to herself "I more or less tramped them down, and tried to erase them".
One the one hand she was angry at Usagi and Ranma. However as she walked farther and farther from the tower, off into the city she came to discover that she was more angry with herself.
'I hurt everyone. I even made like of Usa being never born. What kind of person am I?'. A sense of darkness and self-disgust started to fill her.
It had been growing dark as she walked. She came to one of the many parks near her home and decided to take some time to think about things. She sat on a swing, dwelling of her situation while she sat on an unmoving swing.
This park held the castle of the black Iraqou. The creatures moved here and there, hiding under illusions, and gathering energy for the queen. The queen sensed an immense life force within Rei, and slowly started to gather her drones into their first attack on a fully grown human. The black colored being s started to move through the brushes, encircling her for the soon to be launched attack.
The Queen looked with some anticipation at the pure force within this girl. Rei's life force alone may be able to give her enough energy to destroy Blacks rivals.
About to give the command to attack, the queen felt a terribly cold presence. There was another vast power there, moving in Rei's direction. This power was not made from any life force. This power seemed to be the antitheses of the type of life force the creature of the thirst needed to advance to her next form. Death had come to this park. Death bearing its own fire. Death bearing its own hunger.
Rei had been staring ahead, not really seeing much as she ran her thoughts in circles about the situation. It was all wrong to her. Everything she had done just messed the situation up further, and she was a lot of the blame. Spiraling more into depression she just fed on herself.
There was a slight creaking that made her look up. She saw in the lengthening shadows that there was a very old woman, pushing a vintage baby carriage across the park. Over the top of the carriage on a curved pole was a rice paper lantern. It glimmered in the darkness drawing Rei's eyes to it. The old woman approached Rei with her carriage with the light flickering in the dusk.
"Hello, little one," A slightly whiney voice from the old woman. Rei looked at her and behind the lantern's light she could not seem to get a good look at what the woman looked like.
"Hello" Rei stood and bowed to the elder woman. Some nagging part of her mind told her to mind her manners carefully. "I am Rei Hino and I am honored to meet you. "
The old woman's face was still hidden but Rei got an impression that she was smiling slightly.
"Now why is such a pretty young woman sitting here dwelling inside her head?" The fact that the woman did not introduce herself was not lost on Rei. It was usually reserved for someone talking to another who was far below in station.
Rei sighed as she had been dwelling on. "I have been thinking about my friends, and the distances we seem to have at present.
Rei finally could see at least one eye on the old woman as her head shifted a bit.
"Distance? Have they all moved away from here?" questioned the old woman.
Rei shook her head. "No, I think I have driven them off a bit through my own selfishness. I did and said some awful things. Now I am not sure what we are anymore" Rei looked down at the ground feeling she almost ready to cry.
"That is a terrible thing, to betray one's own friends. I would always be careful doing things like that it can draw supernatural attentions you see. Especially since you're a Miko" the voice had taken a more whining tone to it. Her eye grew a little brighter.
Rei sighed "So you have been up to the shrine then? Do you know my grandfather?"
"I know of your grandfather, but never had the" the old woman paused for a moment "Pleasure of meeting him personally. I have met many folks who spoke highly of his devotion however." Rei could almost hear a snicker from the older woman.
The light of the lantern started to dip in its intensity as the woman had been speaking. Rei finally noticed the darkness as it was descending on the park.
"I just wish I could take a few of those things back. I never really meant to hurt them" Rei was of course lying to herself. She had been so self-absorbed that she reacted like it was all her right to act that way.
"Another thing to be wary of, if you don't want to attract unwanted attention. Dishonesty is like honey to some of the darker spirits"
Rei felt the dark creep into her. She was feeling cold. Not like with the spider thing that merely took her energy. This was Vile. Like her spirit was being infected by something cancerous.
The old woman rasped at her. "But it too late for that isn't it Rei-chan. You already have gotten So Much Notice. Your spirit is so tasty." Rei could see her face clearly now. The eye she thought she saw was the only one there. A huge mouth had been hidden in the shadows. The frail old woman seems to be a small Oni, but one with power. Rei knew the old woman for what it was: Bakechochin, the lantern demon.
Rei felt her revulsion spread over her body. She was cold, her limbs were heavy, and she could not quite seem to move well.
"No" Came almost a whimper from the normally fiery miko. I have to.." Rei started again.
"You have too? Have you not yet done enough? I shall enjoy consuming you girl" the baby carriage disappeared, and the lantern was floating above its head. It approached her making ready to take her to the dark underworld.
Just as it got close enough to almost reach her, a circle of flames formed around Rei, who dropped to her knees within the circle.
"ENOUGH!" shouted a very familiar voice to her. A very old man, dressed with the robes of a priest appeared coming from the direction of the shrine. "Enough demon, you cannot have her."
"She called me, Fool. Her spirit lays broken, and her heart has turned against her. I can do as I please." Replied the Oni who spat on the ground at the elder Hino's feet. "You are not powerful enough to stop me."
The flames grew in power, and turned a brilliant white. A voice surrounded all of them calling to them. At this sound the Oni screamed in pain and rage. Then turned to a mist.
"I can, for she is my servant. Be gone." Came the voice of the great fire, protecting its follower. "Be gone for I hold dominion over her."
Rei looked at the white flames, and started to cry. She could feel the disappointment coming from the flames.
"Daughter, we have much to discuss. I am displeased with you."
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She should have been gone. Lady Pluto knew that. She had felt being ripped apart, torn from reality as she knew it. However here she was. She still existed. Even after being ripped from time. She existed.
She stood staring at a pair of time gates.
She knew that she needed to enter one; she needed to take possession of it, and use it to bring herself into being. To bring her perfection into reality
She also knew just how big a paradox she was creating.
She didn't really did not care. Perfection was worth any price. Lady Pluto touched one of the gates. The gate and Pluto faded from sight leaving a behind a single time gate for the Other.
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Setsuna stood in front of the gates again. She had only been retreating to sleep in her own room. Today Setsuna was standing trying to reconcile in her head the differences of her current task, or following Usagi's wishes versus the knowledge that her future self gave her. How could she balance the life of one innocent against the end of humanity in whole? Without the future of Crystal Tokyo what would be left of humanity
'He may cause the end of crystal Tokyo. My future self has shown me that it can come about. We have to protect humanity from extinction" she thought troubled by these thoughts.
Almost in answer to her, she could hear own voice saying "But what if that is not the only way? Why give into the deaths of billions of people just for a few thousand to survive?"
Setsuna swore she could almost hear it as a voice coming from the gate itself. "Why are we assuming this is the only way? The Best one?"
"Everyone is going to die anyway. The freeze guarantees that." Setsuna replied to the gate.
"How do you know? What if there was a way to stop it before it happened." Setsuna accepted that this must be some sort of delusion for the gate to talk to her but it was happening.
"Your future self would only know her past, so why would she ever say anything else could happen? To her it would have been. Doesn't she have some sort of vested interest in her own self protection?" The gate continued.
"Are you saying there is another way to bring Crystal Tokyo into being?" Setsuna did not for an instant believe this, she had seen the probability's for herself.
"No, but what if there came about a reason that it never was needed in the first place? What if you could find a possible way to stop the Great Freeze from coming about at all? Would you take THAT path?" replied the gate.
Setsuna thought about this. Crystal Tokyo was all she had looked for and worked on for years. It had been the only path she really understood since the Fall. Was there some other way that she had not seen?
"A world without crystal Tokyo? One with humanity alive, but without Serenity as queen? I am not sure that I am even free enough to try for that." Setsuna replied after a long pause.
"I never said that Usagi could not be queen. There may be another reason altogether for that. I merely ask if you could would you make the attempt at saving life even if Crystal Tokyo never comes into being." The gate had taken on a sort of shape in Setsuna's mind. 'Yeap, I am delusional, but maybe my own mind is trying to tell me about something I missed.'
"What would this path be then? To stop the great freeze? I could never even see what caused it, much less how to stop it."
"You must decide this for yourself. Are you willing to take a chance and change things, or are you only willing to take the path of least resistance, no matter how many you have to let die in the process?" The gate was drilling idea in her head.
Setsuna sighed deeply. She could even try and ask Usagi but she knew Serenity's will in the end. If there was a chance, take it. Billions should not be sacrificed.
"Yes, I would try, if I could find a way."
Setsuna could almost feel the gate smile at this. "Then here is your task. Look where you can't look, for your answer. Examine your blindness and find its maker. Your aid will come from the one who stands the most in your way." And the presence in the gate was gone.
Setsuna thought to herself. She MUST just be going insane. "But at least I will like the view more"
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If Mammaru had any constant in his life for the last couple of years, it was that Usagi knocked him down every day. She had for years, and some part of him missed the frantic rush followed by the dull pain that throbbed through his head as he once more hit the ground. Every day for years this had been happening.
His jaw was still hurting from his friends punch. It had jarred him a bit, and for a moment afterward he was very dizzy. To Mammaru got up, like many times before and started to walk home, thinking about Usagi, and their weird relationship. It was not for several blocks that the dizziness returned. The Nausea and dizziness was much stronger this time. Mammaru' s last waking thought was to wonder if Usagi had knocked him over again.
A few hours later a doctor looked at the man in the room. He was examining a chart, and hoping that his condition improved. Written on the chart was "traumatic brain injury: signs of multiple concussions."
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Ami had been working for the nights now on adapting her computer to track the new threat.
"There that should do it' she happily said to herself. She pushed the last bit of code into the search algorithm she had written and turned it one
A red warning light appeared and red dots appears in several places across the city
"Ohh XXXX." Was the most coherent response she could come up with.
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Ranma felt that something was back. It didn't feel like a type one. It was more subtle for lack of a better term. Like it was softly existing and only occasionally feeding. He knew he had felt this before, aback in the Realm, but as far as he could tell, never really encountered anything that quite matched this sensation.
In the realm, the hives existed but were usually either consumed by higher types or eventually evolved into the eggs of a succubus.
'Whatever this is', thought Ranma, 'is something nearby.'
Ranma really sucked at one skill, even after years of trying. He just could not meditate well.
Usa on the other hand could hear not her own mediation but the voice of Cassy. Cassy's form was growing stronger, more powerful.
'Usa, here is near where they are. I can't see them directly, but here is the place daddy and I have been to that is close to where they are right now' Cassy thought to Usa.
Usa examined the image she knew all too well, the Hino shrine.
Cassy sent to her again 'tell Daddy to go there to look. They seem very familiar to me but I can't tell what they are.'
Usa went off to informs Ranma about the shrine. After reaching out his own senses, and feeling the discomfort had been lightly sensing grow stronger he turned to his students.
"Well girls, it's time to go take an old man up on his offer for a weekend".
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Change and Stasis looked down at the pool, seeing again their chosen champions beginning the tasks.
"You take the same path as before". Stasis did not speak to the other as simply thought it to Change.
"Of a sort, we are trying similar tactics again, but with one major difference." Change replied
"What difference, I don't see anything new from before."
"Last time I tried to make someone who they were not. Turn a good person into a killer. This time I am helping her be who she is a protector."
And how is this different from that which I do? You are keeping her static.
Sometimes that very thing will bring about the most change. Change smiled to herself. This time she would win.
A Past remembered
The Empire had existed since the fall. It started with a small fleet of survivors, who fled once they heard of the demolition of the Moon Kingdom by Beryl's demonic forces. There were a few dispersed combat ships scattered here and there, trying to forestall the end, when the hammer fell.
As the last surviving queen, Thepsis of Saturn led the few remaining forces and survivors out of the system. She could have opted for death of course. A suicidal attack on what remained of the earth forces. In many reality's this was in fact her action. Rage and pride would drive her to leave the survivors to their own devices and attempt, in vain, to bring justice. However this time she chose in spite of her extremely combative nature to protect what remained. She opted to preserve what she could, and resolved to discard what were any weaknesses of the Moon kingdom. Like the worlds they ended up inhabiting, the peoples of the Silver Kingdom were powerful, hard and would make the Spartans seem opulent.
Far from Sol, Thepsis found a nearby group of planets that were masked in darkness. These few conjoined planets had almost everything needed for life to occur, other than the lack of the light of a Sun. Heat from within the radioactive cores of the planets provided heat, and a background light through black crystal veins woven across the planets themselves that each ran near to the core. What eventually became the capitol was built on a moon of solid black crystal, and when powered by the inhabitants glowed like the very image of the full moon.
This was not the nega-verse, or anything like it. It was a unique system that flourished without a sun. Because of the energies present, the lifespans were extended, even by the moon kingdoms standards. Hundreds of years became thousands. Magic was enhanced even more than in the moon kingdom due to the nature of the crystal imbedded in each of the four planets. For a time magic took precedence over science as they needed to create an environment for survival. Eventually the two came back into balance.
Out of respect for the past, and their own home that had been lost, they named themselves the Silver Kingdom. They took the symbol of a shining full moon. It matched the silver glow coming from the crystals unique to this system. Each reign was shown by the symbol of the house who claimed the title. Other than a few notable exceptions the house of Saturn itself usually ruled.
Queen Thepsis spent the next two thousand years trying to set up a survivable system. While many of the survivors were tired of war, she ensured that if they were ever followed by Beryl's forces, they would be ready. Cities were formed; space stations and Combat ships eventually took flight throughout the system. At the end of that time, Thepsis grew tired, and encased herself in a techno-mage shell, keeping her alive, and waiting for the day she would be needed again. It gave her a chance to rest, to dream and wait for a day she knew would come.
After this, her son Menes became rule of the system. While a break from the past, men were as allowed to rule as women. The new system relied on competency rather than ideology. The time was almost peaceful. They had more advances, more in magic than science. The art of planetary taps was rediscovered, and Menes daughter, Nix became the first Sorceress Queen, succeeding her father. Living up to her title, she found that while she was able to create Senshi for this system, they would never be able to leave it. If they went too far from their planetary taps, and they would burn alive, trying to contain the magic's with in them. The Senshi were tasked with guarding the system itself, and not to serve the whims of the royal family, staying in system and on their home planets no matter what else happened.
Nix was followed by Toth the tinkerer. He held vast scientific knowledge, and brought back the power to travel between systems and through the beyond. The creation of these ships had been lost with only to original colony ship, and a few of the starting combat ships remaining of the Moon kingdom. He was the first to create planet killing devices, including one that sucked the life and energy from a world, in total. He tried to replicate the Silence itself, but was only able to partially. The ability to wield the Silence was held only by Thepsis, who slept waiting for the need of her return to power.
It was during Toth's rule that the Silver kingdom was first invaded. Another remnant of the Earth had found its way to their system. The King of Terra, Chron demanded that the Silver Kingdom become a tributary of the earth, and serve his rule. Chron traced his lineage to the Heirs of Pluto, and thought her a goddess, something that Lady Pluto of this time did little to discourage. The Lady Pluto here did not command Chron and the others to attack Toth, but she did subtly encourage it. Her ultimate task of bringing the area under a new moon kingdoms rule would be easier served by the encompassing of what she felt was the remnants of Saturn. She knew of the errant kingdom, and had helped the Earth prepare for this invasion.
The earth's fleet gleamed as they started to surround the 4 planets, with Chron's demands. The advisors to Toth pleaded with him to awake his ancestor, Thepsis but Toth refused. He had faith in his kingdom and people that they did not need the additional force that she would bring to bear.
Toth's new fleets encompassed his idea of Pure power. He combined the best of the magical defenses and techno-magical offence. Toth did not wait for the demands to continue, and when the earth forces surrounded his system, he launched his attack.
The fleets of the great earth Kingdom's, Atlantis and Mu engaged the forces of Neo-Saturn. The war of the Silver Crescent as it was to be called fought until the Silver forces surrounded the Earth. From the heavens a great bombardment began, that continued until both kingdoms fell under the waves, and just a few humans remained. The side effects of the weapons that were used twisted men, making them more beasts than human, and Toth chose to abandon the earth forever, leaving it to its fate. It would eighteen thousand years until the time of the rebirth of the Senshi, and another two thousand years until the line of Saturn would return in force to the earth.
Sorry about the delay, been difficult at best to write without a computer.
I think that the Change is fairly obvious at this point. At least if you read Gold Digger. There is an un-prize for anyone who can figure out who Stasis is, prior to me having them named later on.
In answer to another question, All of the various twins (other than shampoo's) are named and characterized by specific anime characters from other shows. The easiest one to identify is Misaki and her doll from angelic layer. Have fun with the rest of them. Shampoo's kids are just puns.
No this is not intended to be a multi-cross; I just like the characterizations of each of them ;)