The idea behind this one was inspired by something that probably wasn't mentioned in the anime, and the manga hadn't gone into any depth about it. As for what it is, I'll only say that it involves Serenity's origins.
Beyond that, I also wanted to write a story without a real antagonist. This story's going to be about loss and being lost, finding oneself and one's place within the grand scheme of things, and discovering something that's been present all along. Not that I have any hope in my ability to write any of it well.
This is going to be a short story. Really, I probably should have just held off on doing anything with it until it was completed, but — as is often the case — I wasn't thinking. Oh, well.
The morning following the establishment of Crystal Tokyo found Tendo Soun shuffling nervously on his porch. It wasn't every day that a queen — even one who'd only been one for a day — came to visit one's house personally, after all. That, and the reason for her visit was due to a matter of great importance, concerning the crystal that she had spread throughout Tokyo on the day of her coronation.
There was also the fact that the premises had been secured by the queen's security detail, to ensure that she wouldn't be disturbed during her visit. It wasn't like he'd ever done anything wrong, as far as he was aware of or willing to admit, but he couldn't get past the feeling of entrapment.
His body stiffened when he felt his hackles rise, which happened at the same time as he had noticed the appearance of a faint, glowing sphere that hummed with energy between him and the closed gate of the perimeter wall. By the time that the sphere of energy had dissipated, the forms of five figures had fully resolved themselves within it.
One would have had to live under a rock to not recognize Neo Queen Serenity and her four guardian senshi, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Mercury. Well, not so much the queen, since her current attire was a relatively new look for Sailor Moon, but anyone who'd had access to at least one source of news during the past few years would have known about their efforts toward organized crime around the world, to the point where anything under the definition of "major" virtually ceased to exist at the present time.
In particular, it would be shameful for any Japanese citizen to not know about them, considering that their activities had begun in their country. It had started with Sailor Venus (then called Sailor V), who had mainly been known for her exploits in dealing with crime in the Tokyo area. Then, by the time the senshi had grown in number and had become a team, they had become something of an urban myth, since most of those involved in various mysterious incidents had little — if any — knowledge or recollection of anything that had happened. They hadn't gotten any serious consideration until after the inexplicable events surrounding the comet (named Snow Princess Kaguya) that had threatened to impact the Earth, and its mysterious destruction. But no government had officially recognized their existence until their crusade against organized crime, which had begun in Japan in the mid-nineties.
As the queen and her entourage approached him, he was again struck with amazement at how young they were, considering how much they had accomplished and achieved during the decade that they had been active. The five before him were in their early twenties, and their official biography stated that they had first become senshi in their early teens. Well, apparently they had the experiences of their past lives to call upon, as senshi or otherwise, but still.
He bowed deeply, rigidly, as soon as they stopped in front of him, and his nervousness made it hard for him to recall the manufactured greeting that he had agonized over earlier. "I-it's an honor to have you g-grace us with your presence, Jo'ō-sama. Should you, um, r-require anything, you need but ask."
Usagi was about to respond in a flippant manner, but Rei saw the signs and elbowed her in the side before she could say anything. She spared the owner of the elbow a look of annoyance before resigning herself to acting like everyone expected of a queen, and a normal young woman with an easygoing personality and somewhat immature behavior wasn't it. That she didn't have to project a facade in private was a small consolation, but she reminded herself that it was a sacrifice for the greater good.
So she drew herself up and got ready for the role that she was required to play. "I appreciate your thoughtfulness, but I believe that there was an incident here that — you'll agree — should be taken care of first before addressing my own needs. May I ask you to lead the way for me?"
Her guardian senshi gave her looks of appraisal, impressed, and felt thankful that all of their efforts to get such a result hadn't been wasted. Ami and Rei, in particular, were the most affected by it, considering how they — among the current group — were the most diligent when it came to deportment, and in knowing what to do and how to behave in a given situation.
Soun pulled out of his bow eagerly, and the look in his eyes said that he was overjoyed over the fact that his needs were going to be attended to first. "O-of course, Jo'ō-sama! Right this way!"
As he led them through the house, he barely managed to keep a bounce out of his step. In the meantime, Usagi reflected on how things had changed. She had known for a while that she would become a queen, but she'd never known how. She had assumed that she would need to pursue the position herself, instead of being appealed to by a revolution; a revolution that had likely been inspired by their biography.
When their crime-busting campaign had cemented into the people's minds the fact that the sailor senshi were real, the demand for information — regarding their identities and origin — had grown exponentially. The biography that they had put together in response had been a means of curtailing investigations into who they were when they were civilians, in the hope that knowing everything else about them would be enough for people to respect their need for secrecy. The palace on the moon, as well as those orbiting other planets, had been more than enough evidence to lend their biography credence.
It hadn't stopped the investigations completely, but it had managed to enlist the help of the Japanese government in preventing information regarding their identities from being used by any kind of news publication or broadcast. The Internet, on the other hand, had been taken care of easily enough with the advanced technology that was at their disposal.
From there, their popularity, in addition to the poor economic climate at the time, had pushed them into the political spotlight, with ideas on how their magic and/or advanced technology could improve the people's everyday lives. Things just sort of took off from there, and — when everything had been said and done — the constitutional monarchy of the country remained intact (if altered) while the family that had descended from the sun had been replaced by the one hailing from the moon.
Once Soun had taken them to another side of the house, he proceeded to lead them outside, to a breezeway that led to a dojo. Once there, he slid open the door and stood by to allow them entrance.
Inside, the queen and her guardian senshi found the rest of the Tendo family, in addition to the Saotome family. They were all gathered at the front of the dojo, by the wall that bore the kamidana above their heads. Whatever they had been doing had ceased when the door had been opened, unless they had been staring at the door prior to their arrival.
But what really got their attention was the white, translucent crystal situated in the middle of the dojo, that was nearly as tall as the ceiling. It was shaped much like an obelisk, except that it was at least three times as wide at the base than it was near the top. Suspended within the crystal was a young girl who wore a Mandarin-styled red jacket and matching black pants, and her vibrant red hair was tied back into a pigtail. While her feet were together, with her toes pointing toward the floor, her arms were held away from her body at a forty-five degree angle. They couldn't tell what color her eyes were, because they were closed.
Usagi had to see it to believe it. Even though she had assured everyone that the crystal wouldn't harm anyone or anything, someone had been trapped inside of it. There had been many accounts of people being able to walk out of the crystal without a problem, and as proof of that it had been a major topic featured in the news. So why had that not been the case for this girl?
Before she could reach the crystal, she was approached by a woman who wore a kimono, whom she identified as being Saotome Nodoka. She bore some resemblance to the girl that was trapped within the crystal, so she assumed that she was related to her. However, once she thought back on the information that Ami had provided her just prior to their arrival, regarding the residents of their current location, she idly wondered where her son could be.
"Jo'ō-sama," Nodoka greeted, who bowed deeply in one fluid motion, "I don't want to seem too forward, but I hope you can save our son. He's our only child..."
Usagi had to pause and blink her eyes a few times at that. Then she joined her guardian senshi as she peered at the figure within the crystal a bit more closely. Nope; despite the baggy clothes, she was definitely a girl. "Son?"
Nodoka appeared to be rather ashamed after she rose out of her bow and admitted, "My son has a curse, Jo'ō-sama. When he comes into contact with cold water, he is transformed into a girl. Hot water reverses the effect."
Usagi returned her attention to whom she now understood was Saotome Ranma, and looked upon him with new eyes. "I see..."
Without further interruption, she stepped up to the crystal and placed her hand upon its surface. She willed it to recede, and it took her a moment to realize that nothing was going to happen. Confused, she tried again... and got the same result. As she began to wonder what was going on, she tried to walk through the crystal, but found her way blocked by that selfsame crystal.
Nodoka became worried when she saw her queen's look of confusion turn into a frown. "What is it, Jo'ō-sama?"
Rather than answer, Usagi reapplied her hand to the crystal and closed her eyes. She focused her senses on the subject inside of it, hoping that the reason for her inability to control the crystal would be answered by doing so. What she felt was familiar, yet it had taken her some time to put her finger on the name of just what exactly it felt like.
But why a maternal embrace?
It didn't answer what she wanted to know, and raised more questions. She opened her eyes and studied the girl within more closely, and for the first time realized that the position of her body couldn't have been accidental. She highly doubted that she had been encased in the crystal while in the middle of something. It almost looked like...
"Is it just me," she spoke to her guardian senshi, without looking away or changing position, "or does it look like she... he wanted this?"
Nodoka gasped in surprise. "What?"
"Nonsense!" Genma exclaimed, forgetting for a second whose presence he was in, and why that had kept him quiet and reserved before. It hadn't been hard for him to remember when he received a glare from Rei. And then Soun had distracted him by confronting him and demanding to know whether the queen was right or not.
Akane, Nabiki and Kasumi kept their silence, though they did look at Ranma and wondered if the queen might be right. Akane, in particular, couldn't think of what Ranma could have been doing, to be in such a pose. It could have been the very beginning of a backflip, perhaps, but...
"I don't know about that," Makoto spoke up, as she crossed her arms beneath her bosom. "It kinda looks like a leap of faith, to me."
Usagi turned to address her. "A leap of faith?"
"Yeah," Makoto replied, with a nod of her head. "You know, like you need to do something, but you don't know what the outcome will be. So you give yourself over to chance and hope for the best."
"There is something else, too," Ami interjected herself into the discussion. She had been analyzing Ranma with a special pair of large-lensed glasses ever since the mention of a curse. "It's the direction she's facing," she continued, unmindful of what pronoun she used. "She's within a degree of the palace, and three-hundred-and-fifty-nine-to-one odds would make that a very unlikely accident."
Usagi considered that information, and tried to put a mental picture together. She imagined Ranma sensing what she had been doing when she had begun to spread the crystal throughout the city, which she had done from the palace. Once the crystal reached him, he gave himself to it.
"But why?" She asked aloud, before she turned her attention to Ranma's mother. "Why would your son need the protection of the Ginzuishou?"
Nodoka looked perplexed. "I... I don't know..."
"Perhaps I could answer that, Jo'ō-sama," Nabiki spoke up.
Akane looked askance at her sister and whispered, "Nabiki?"
"What can you tell me?" Usagi inquired.
"Everything," Nabiki answered with a winning smile. "Which is a lot, and will take a while to tell, so — at your discretion — I recommend we find a place to sit down before we proceed any further."
Noticing the worried looks that were being directed at Nabiki by her father, younger sister and Ranma's father, Usagi nodded her head at the suggestion. "Very well. Whatever you have to share may prove invaluable."
While the accommodations were being made, she returned her attention to Ranma. Soon she may very well learn why he had sought the protection of the Ginzuishou, but she doubted that she would learn anything that would explain why he had enough influence over it to prevent her from releasing or reaching him. While the Ginzuishou didn't exactly restrict its access, not just anyone could tap into its full potential.
She caressed the surface of the crystal and wondered, "Who are you?"
Kamidana: Literally "god shelf"; it's a shelf-like altar usually set high on a wall and decorated with various objects relevant to the Shinto faith.