Disclaimer: I do not own Ranma 1/2, Sailor Moon, Lost Universe, Stargate, or Ah My Goddess. This is a non-profit work of fanfiction meant only for entertainment.
by Lerris Smith
The planet Mars was now engraved with a runic array to assist in the formation of a new environmental matrix thanks to the Asgard. They worked from a plan that all of them had come up with together, though once again Kira and her friends were very helpful. Rei had tattoos all over her body that matched up with key features in the larger pattern on the planet. She was also sulking as her beautiful skin was now covered in black lines and swirls. Technically, the tattoos weren't an absolute requirement, but they were an added bit of insurance, and were temporary regardless.
They had a total of thirty thousand packed into the still largely non functional Martian city of Cambria. It was well over the minimum amount needed, but there seemed no reason not to accept them as they should help. It might have helped more if they could be spread out all over the world, but with their numbers it wasn't likely to matter much. The conditions in the city were improving, albeit slowly.
They also all knew that when they finally died they could live on in a way in the matrix that helps to hold their world together or they could pass on.
It was two weeks since Serenity, Rei, and General Hammond had met with the Pope. The Pope was due to arrive shortly, but there was said to be a complication. The area they were in was in the center of the city. It contained the largest park the city had, or rather would have again when they had time to rebuild it. For now air was recycled by Asgard machines.
Thor beamed down. He said, "We are almost ready to transport the pontiff and his entourage. We are in the process of repositioning one of the Earth-Mars portals as well as moving one here."
Serenity, once again in her full regalia along with all the others including Ranma, questioned, "Entourage? I thought he was coming by himself. We don't need a large group of people to disrupt this."
Thor said, "I have been assured that they will help and not be disruptive."
Serenity noted that he almost seemed to smile at that, but the little brown guy almost never smiled. It was also kind of a sad smile. Just what was the enigmatic alien up to? Could it be that her Hail Mary pass had born fruit? She had come very close to crossing a line there, but had it been close enough?
Her answer appeared to be coming as the Asgard beamed one of their own portals in place complete with its own portable generator. The system activated immediately. The first person stepping through was the pontiff himself followed fairly quickly by a dozen Cardinals in their official red dress. Following that were and endless mass of really old people in their Sunday best. They moved slowly, often having to help each other. Some even came through in wheel chairs yet they came and they kept coming. The pope walked up to Serenity. Each gave a slight bow to the other.
It seemed likely that her plan worked. It was almost enough to move her to tears, but her control would not permit it. She was reminded of a fragment of speech from another young, albeit fictional leader, this time in a piece of Japanese animation where the Earth was facing certain destruction. Lacus Clyne had said, "Agitating for peace; at the same time holding weapons. This may be another sinful decision. But please, now. The strength to cut through the never ending chain. Give it to us." She herself was always advocating for free will, but was it truly free will if she manipulated? Someone had to draw the line. The need may her draw it far closer than she liked, but she did it anyway.
She was broken out of her thoughts when the Pontiff said, "We came at your request."
"I made none," she said as neutrally as she could.
He said, "You could not, yet you did in your way. You presented the opportunity. Your own rules. Your own ethics prohibited you to directly ask, particularly when this world was not actually in danger."
"I did," she admitted. "It is said not to be a bad way to exist. Those that have been there and wish to leave can move on, though others must take their place, lest the progress be lost. If we do this, it is permanent. There is not a way back, at least not for a long time, and there is no guarantee even then. The approach we have planned makes this less critical, but takes much longer."
He said, "You risked death to convince me."
"I did. It was necessary, or at least I believed it to be so. People will see that we have magic and believe that it solves all of the problems in the universe. Some will even blame us when we fail to do so. It is true that I went farther than I intended, but I did not lie. Their pain called for me to do more and then I almost did too much, but yes, I had in mind going far enough to visibly weaken myself. It was important that the people understand that beyond all the magic we are human. We have human failings and we can still die. In some ways some of what we do is more dangerous than what an ordinary person does, for if they live a good life, they can for the most part be assured that their soul will go to heaven. Our fate is less certain."
"I understand, though I still can't bring myself to like it. The videos you provided covered these environmental things pretty well, far better than you yourself did. Those coming understand as well."
He continued, "The videos did not, however, tell us how much help we will be. Tell me, how many lives could be saved on Earth if our eleven thousand three hundred and fifty four volunteers agreed to become a part of this thing?"
Captain Carter came up to them. "Your Holiness. I'm Captain Carter. We studied many simulations, but as you say, their policies prohibit making the request, and as they are the only ones with the power to begin such things we only did the one simulation where everyone volunteered to well..."
The Pope finished, "martyr themselves to save others. Most of this group had already planned such a fate. Despite your friends insulating buildings left and right, resources are scarce. They had already began to come together in small groups and had agreed to eat as little as possible so that the young would have food. So you see, they had already pretty much made the commitment that was required. We simply gathered them together and offered them this option, of which they were glad to have. The very idea of a life free of their mortal coil that is perhaps between what we know of Earth and what we suspect of heaven is an appealing one for many. That it is still possible, if fairly difficult for those there to communicate with loved ones is perhaps the best part."
"I understand," Carter said solemnly. After a moment's pause she continued, "We only ran the one detailed simulation with ten thousand volunteers. Your holiness, I do greatly apologize for this but while the time shrank greatly, it still would take several years. That is extremely fast in geological terms. The number we were looking at was close to a generation. I'm just not sure even that change will save a great deal of lives on Earth. The Asgard should be able to get the climate under control long before then with all the resources they are putting into it. It will be a bit complex, but they have the skills to pull it off."
The Pope was saddened by the news. He said, "A pity. I had hoped perhaps for a bigger miracle."
He was interrupted from further speech when Kira stepped up. Her long blond hair was striking, but what really drew his attention were her red eyes.
The Pope stepped back for a moment before catching himself.
She said, "Hello, my name is Kira. I am the second in line for the throne of Amalar."
"You are from the home of those who attacked us?" he asked seemingly more relaxed now that he had identified her.
"Yes. I was sent to help fix what we did. Sadly we cannot replace the matrix on Earth, though we can and have helped with this one. There is also food coming through our newly installed Stargate to America. It is not much, but we are doing what we can. The important thing to remember is that the souls inside the matrix can control much of what they do, particularly if we help. They don't have to make every part habitable at once. I'd have to do some calculations, but we might be able to include an overall barrier as part of the initial matrix to focus things further. It would mean changes, but if we did that then the area that was livable would grow overtime thus allowing you to move more people here potentially much faster."
Usagi smiled a small faint smile. Her plan worked. She was still not sure if it was not another sinful decision. The young woman in the Anime had thought they had won a time of peace, only for the endless waltz to begin again, and far sooner than she had expected.
He asked, "Why did you not do that from the start?"
Nabiki said, "We considered it, but we based our initial best plans on the figure of ten thousand regular volunteers. There it did not make sense as it would have probably resulted in the construct failing entirely. Even with the thirty thousand that we have it would have been extremely chancy."
"But with our addition," he prompted.
Nabiki said, "I believe we can do it. If so we could save millions at least over time. I need to return to the ship with the others if we are going to implement the changes."
"Then go. Let us not delay you a second longer."
Nabiki nodded and turned to Thor and said, "It looks like you had better beam us all back up. We have more work to do."
The Senshi, the trio from Amalar, and Captain Carter vanished, while Thor, General Hammond, and the rest of SG-1 stayed behind. They were busy helping people through and trying to find space for them on the barren countryside that twinkled and shined as the sunlight refracted through the dome. Soon runners from the city and the curious came to see what was going on. Before long folding chairs were being brought and what food and drink there was available was being shared. It began to feel much like a comfortable church dinner, even if the two groups seldom shared a language.
On top of a hill Akane Tendo watched from a distance. To her left was Shampoo with Elder Cologne balanced on her walking stick to her left and to her right was Ranma's mother. Ryoga and Ukyo and her waiter were around somewhere, while Soun was looking for Miss Ninomiya, who had been lost in the crowd. Happosai was farther back. He seemed oddly sober.
Akane wiped tears from her eyes as she looked down on the gathering. She said, "I still can't hardly believe Ranma of all people is a Sailor Senshi."
Cologne said, "It seems former son-in-law replaced the original Sailor Pluto."
"How can you be sure?" asked his mother.
"When your as old as I am you learn a few tricks. I saw the original Pluto and remember her well. She would even stop by to annoy me from time to time. Once in my youth she even helped save the tribe from a dire fate. Her face is not one I would forget. She had the most lovely green hair and was several inches taller than Ranma's female form."
Shampoo looked up interested, but evidentially her great grandmother was not going to elaborate.
Akane sighed. "I still find it hard to believe." For all of her skepticism she was smiling.
"How so Akane?" asked her elder sister.
"They are changing the world in ways I could only dream of and what is really odd..." She trailed off as she looked down at Ranma.
"What is odd Akane-chan?" asked Nodoka.
"Ranma is. I've never seen him quite so in peace. It is what I think he was seeking and what he could never find." She trailed off again.
Nodoka looked pained for several seconds before sighing. "It seems my child continues to prove my foolishness. I had wished for a man among men, yet he becomes so much more than my petty little dream."
Cologne said, "That she has."
"Must you," accused Nodoka.
Cologne grinned a toothy grin and said, "It is a compliment that I refer to Ranma as a female."
Nodoka glared but there was no heat in it.
Shampoo said, "I thought magic girls have disguise magic. Why I see their faces clearly, included former airen's face?"
Cologned said simply, "It seems they have abandoned any attempts at artifice. It is probably for the best."
Akane seemed lost in her own thoughts when she said, "I watched the videos. I had considered doing what I think the new group plans to do. I thought that maybe my life might have more meaning that way. It is what Shampoo almost did."
Nodoka said, "I forbid it. You have a long life ahead of you Akane-chan. If anything it should be your elders, yet I'm not sure I'm ready for such a leap."
"Shampoo go if it help tribe. It was her place. Shampoo not know what to do." The last was said to her Great-Grandmother as if in question.
Cologne said, "No shampoo. You went as was your place, but now we understand more. If the old are acceptable then I shall go."
"Settle down granddaughter. I have not overly much time left, even hording my ki as I do. I would rather meet my end on my own terms. It is my right. Besides, this way I might yet help the tribe."
"Great grandmother," she repeated except very softly as if in awe or disbelief.
The time had come. It had actually taken several hours to get everyone through the gate, but then it had taken the better part of day before they were confident enough in their changes to proceed. Both Anita and Cally had been particularly helpful, with the former having actually done the math before, while the later simply understood matters of the soul better than anyone else they had.
For better or worse the Asgard had at the Pontiff's suggestion brought in several members of the press and they were streaming the event live on Earth with the Asgard ships relaying the signal. They had initially decided against having press, since if the process worked people would demand that it be done instantly to Earth and ignore the simple fact that it was not possible to achieve the harmony necessary on Earth, but it was also true that if they did not cover it people would accuse them of hiding the cure to save their world and that would also go bad. Some days you could just not win.
Anderson Cooperfield was surprised to get the invite, or that there was even an invite to be got, let alone to be sitting on top of a fairly tall building overlooking a barren field under a crystalline dome in the middle of the barren Martian landscape. It was even more surprising that the Pope was his guest. He was more surprised when one of the Asgard beamed in chair and all and said, "They will begin in about ten minutes."
Anderson said, "For those of you who have just joined us we all know that things on Earth remain bad, but that our allies are doing their best. You may have had your house super insulated for free thanks to many hard working corporations working round the clock to produce the new insulating material combined with the technology of the Asgard who can nearly instantly mold it and place it, even inside existing walls. You may also be the recipient of one of the countless efforts to deliver food. Much of it comes from our ever depleting ocean's, with some little bit even coming from other worlds. They have even established over a hundred new heavy duty fusion power plants based on the technology from ancient days where as we have learned the Moon was the ruling center of our solar system. As you know the only representatives we have from that time are the princesses who's spirits were sent forward in time along with Queen Serenity of the Moon kingdom."
The camera zoomed in on the assembly of people and then panned around the city to see countless other people. "What you may not know is they are not just content with the efforts on Earth but have also sent people to Pluto where they had an unused and still intact livable environment. Now they with the help of over forty one thousand people from Earth plan to rapidly change Mars from a lifeless world to a life bearing one."
"Now before everyone gets up in arms and demand they do the same to the Earth I am told that this kind of magic requires a harmony in purpose for nearly everyone on the planet which is just impossible to achieve on the Earth, but they can achieve it here as they were careful to ask the right questions of those they invited here. What is even more impressive is that his Holiness the Pope brought along almost eleven thousand older people. Would you care to comment on that your Holiness?"
The pontiff seemed troubled for a moment before his expression smoothed. He said, "Those I brought with me were for the most part from little groups that had agreed to strictly ration what they eat so that the young who had a long life in front of them might have the food they needed. From what we know the power of a soul freely given to what they are doing will strengthen this effort greatly. It was not an easy decision to make, but after meeting with their ruler and learning all I could about them I decided that this was the right thing to do, that I could at least make the option available. The people I brought with me have each chosen to give all they have left to this endeavor in the hope that it will provide a place for their loved ones and the other people on Earth. I am told that even if all goes as planned Mars won't be instantly made livable, but rather an area centered around this city will slowly become so and then expand over time. The new Queen of Mars has personally assured me that she will welcome the family, friends, and relatives of all who have volunteered today, with the caveat of them having to learn and become good Martian citizens."
Anderson said, "Well there you have it ladies and gentlemen. We have a collection of mostly Chinese, Japanese and Italian citizens about to perform a ritual to do what we only wish we could do on Earth. Said ritual is unprecedented in nature for we have over eleven thousand people volunteering to die to make sure it succeeds. Out of curiosity, what happens if the people who come after don't have the same harmony of purpose?"
Thor decided to answer this one. He said, "The field of study they are using is one we choose not to pursue and are now no longer capable of. It is also similar to one that helped saved us against the replicators. It has exacting requirements to establish, however I understand that maintaining it is much less demanding."
Anderson suggested, "So are your saying the harmony of purpose will not matter once it is done?"
Thor blinked and said, "Harmony is always good for a civilization, but yes my understanding is that there will be no technical restrictions on who may come after it is established beyond they must agree to try to become good citizens here."
"Are you saying they can't ever return once they come here?"
Thor blinked again. "I have examined their laws in detail. There is no such requirement. For the most part their laws seem quite sensible to me." He said the last dismissively as if it wasn't worth further comment.
The pontiff decided to chime in. He said, "In fairness, I would not recommend volunteering to come if you are uncertain. For the immediate future things are going to be very busy and no one is going to have time to waste transporting people back and forth."
Anderson said, "His holiness does bring up a very good point." Anderson turned his head as he saw a glow in the distance. The camera quickly focused on the Senshi who were now glowing with a warm light. "It's beginning. Let's just watch and see what we can learn."
He trailed off as the light from them grew blinding and then spread outwards, first to the group of elderly the pontiff brought with him and then further as it began to encompass layer after layer of their unburied city. Anderson asked quietly, "Is everyone getting this?" He then held his hand up to his earpiece and listened. He said, "It is too bright. It is saturating the camera."
Thor looked over at the camera and cameraman for a moment and then the camera flashed away and was replaced by several floating spheres that scattered throughout the city. Anderson said, "I am told we have video back. It seems our friend's the Asgard have replaced our camera feed with live video from their own remote drones. This is amazing, I don't know what is going on, but the light show is amazing. Wait the light show is coming closer."
Anderson continued, "Wow. I can't tell if anyone can see what I'm seeing now, but wow. It is like every person I can see is glowing with an inner light and the light is spreading to the air and to the soil. Amazing. Now that I look closely I can see the seeds they must have spread before and is that rain beginning to fall inside the city? It's amazing, you can see grass and tree's beginning to bud before your eyes and what is this, a view outside the city? Now there is rainfall there and again grass and trees beginning to grow as the wave continues to spread further and further, but it is not just outward, yes the sky is still red, but isn't it become just a little violet now? Yes it is."
The video and Anderson's viewpoint swiveled back to the main field where the key people were. The Senshi were still each glowing like the Sun with Usagi sticking out the most though Canal and Rei were not too far behind. The camera then panned to view all the pontiff's volunteers who were beginning to shimmer and become see through. The camera view then zoomed far out to cover the entire planet where the lines the Asgard had carefully etched into the planet glowed brilliantly. The screen then split into two with the right half showing that view while the left half zoomed in on the new Queen of Mars. It showed that even through her formal dress she had similar lines glowing.
The camera shifted back to a single picture and then panned back outside the city to show the formation of trees, grass, and even lakes as the effect spread before zooming back inside to see one by one more and more of the last set of volunteers simply fade away. This continued until it again when split screen showing the new growth at the same time the volunteers faded away one after another. This went on for the better part of six hours until none remained and then with an audible snap it all seemed to freeze as the light fled everything and the Senshi and their helpers from Amalar collapsed.
Anderson said, "Someone get some help to them!" before he took off in a run down the stairs to see for himself what had happened with a floating drone following his every move. The pontiff followed as well at a much slower pace with Thor beaming just himself down to them. Before long a young brunette woman, a young middle aged man in a doctor's coat, and another black haired middle aged woman in another doctor's coat many recognized as Saeko Mizuno rushed onto the scene. All took people at random and checked for pulses.
The brunette said, "Ranma and Minako are alive, but their pulses are very weak."
Saeko said, "My daughter is in a similar state but I think I'm losing Usagi."
Thor said, "I was told that no matter what happened that they could not be moved from this place, that it would kill them."
Anderson was still several minutes away but the camera had caught all the action nonetheless. He said nothing, content to let the video speak for itself.
The green haired young woman stirred and then crawled over to Usagi who was once again in her civilian clothing. She carefully pulled her head into her lap and gently fed her what energy she could before asking Saeko, "Is that enough?"
Saeko again felt her pulse. She said, "Her pulse is steadier. I'd say that is enough for now. You can't be too much stronger than the others."
Canal nodded even as she continued to hold the young seeming woman who had saved her while Saeko and the others began to check the rest over more carefully.
After the young doctor gave all the rest a quick look followed by some odd tapping he said, "The rest of them are very weak, but getting stronger. I think they will pull through. I have opened their ki pathways a bit, which may help. We were told that no matter what they need to remain where they are. Still, it would be nice if they had beds." He was a little surprised when someone held out a small camp air mattress complete with a sheet, blanket and pillow. Soon enough others offered pillows and blankets and they all had simple beds that lay in a grassy field under the Martian sun.
Thor said, "I have double checked the readings. This dome is no longer necessary so we shall remove it and transport it to Venus where it will be needed next." As soon as he said that the massive triangles of glass became to vanish from the dome as the Asgard took it apart piece by piece with their transporters. The ground became brighter piece by piece as sections vanished.
Anderson said, "In all my years I have never seen the like. I am standing in a newly created field on Mars witnessing the birth of a new city and a new hope. As we watch we see the sun breaking through brightly one triangle at a time as the Asgard remove their temporary dome. It seems a fitting testament to what they have done this day. I can hardly believe I'm standing under the sun on a warm day much like back on Earth save for the brilliant violet sky and the ever receding horizon as their great working slowly crawls across the planet."
Suddenly he noticed that the inactive portal was once again active and disgorging people and equipment. The camera focused on it. "And as you can see no time whatsoever is being wasted. People and equipment are already streaming through to make the most of this new world they have been given, by the grace of those who have worked so hard to make it possible."
The camera again zoomed around the city before focusing in on the unconscious Senshi and then ending on the empty area where so many used to be and now was filled with blankets, wheel chairs, canes, and food wrappers. "We should take a minute in silent contemplation to say thanks for the sacrifice of those that have made this opportunity possible." He hesitated briefly then said, "Perhaps we could even save some of what they left behind as a constant reminder of the price paid." Voices nearby quickly agreed with his suggestion.
Time seemed to stretch on as the view centered on all those who had given their lives. The moment of contemplation stretched for one minute then to five as the camera again made a circuit of the area and showed the line between the living world and the area outside of it. Suddenly a new Asgard beamed down next to Thor and in front of Anderson. The camera view caught that too.
The new Asgard said, "We have begun the plan to fill the planet with water. A shuttle has a Stargate positioned just inside a river on an uninhabitable world."
Anderson asked, "I know what a Stargate is of course. We have covered that. Do you mind if I ask why that world is uninhabitable?"
The new Asgard blinked and said, "It has an atmosphere of toxic ammonia. The water is, however, quite suitable."
"What will you do with the water?"
Thor said, "Let us watch."
Anderson was surprised when he was beamed up and carried along in another shuttle flying above a still barren section of Mars's landscape. He said, "I don't understand," before suddenly he could see a torrent of water shoot out from underneath the craft and begin to fill a large basin they were above. "Well that answers that question. How long will it take though to bring enough water to Mars to make this a viable world?"
Thor said, "It cannot all be done at once. Things must be carefully monitored and controlled. This first batch will take nine point four days to deliver. There is also the existing frozen water on Mars that must be considered. As the atmosphere heats up it will be released into the environment. It is a most complex process that will require time and careful control even with the path you have taken, but we will complete it."
"Final question. Are there worlds that we could go through via these Stargates that are already habitable?"
Thor blinked. He said, "Yes, I believe the American Air force is currently rapidly doing their best to colonize two of them. A Stargate cannot run continually. It damages them too much. This one will have to deactivated in about thirty four minutes. At such time the American gate will likely resume its work, until it must be deactivated and then we shall pick up our task."
"So your saying only one gate can be active in the solar system at a given time and with only the one gate that can't even run continuously unlike the portals that brought everyone here, not that many people could evacuate."
"Correct. Stargates operate on a different principle than these in system portals. Unfortunately in system portals are limited to relatively short distances."
"Then it would not help to get another gate for Earth?"
Thor blinked again. He said, "We were planning on positioning an additional gate on Pluto. In theory it is far enough out that some addresses would be viable though interference is still possible. We have not found the time to do so yet and so far it does not look like a justifiable use of resources."
"Could you explain that?" asked Anderson.
"Using the second Stargate would require first going through an in-system portal or being carried by ship. We are at already saturating the subspace layers from Earth with portal traffic. There is no reserve capacity to be found and as those who go through a portal are considered safe, there is no point in spending additional resources to colonize yet another world, particularly when the rate of resources to those other worlds is much less than what can be shipped to either Pluto, Mars, or Venus. We also cannot transport people on our ships, as doing so would cause them to be taken from higher priority tasks such as feeding your people and making sure they stay warm."
Anderson said, "Well I think that definitively answers that. Still, it brings up some troubling questions about why our government isn't going into more details about its colonization efforts. You have probably all seen at least clips of the Stargate Missions, if not entire missions, yet those that normally run those missions are here and last I looked were listed as wanted terrorists." Anderson half paused as if expecting something to happen.
Thor said, "We prepared for the possibility that your government would attempt to halt or block this transmission and while we cannot interfere in the ways you run your government we regret what has happened that has left our friends from SG-1 marked as terrorists. I am, however, told that there is a standing offer of employment for SG-1 from those you have watched today. For that matter, the Asgard would be honored to have their help and services."
Anderson's eyes became slightly wider as he was momentarily taken by surprise. He said, "Well I for one hope that justice is found for both the guilty and the innocent. I for one would express deep regret if we lost such talented members of our nation's military for some petty politician's political maneuvering. This is Anderson Cooperfield signing off for now. I'm going to take a break for a bit as I review what we know about the corruption in our own government, then I will begin covering it in detail in the hopes that sunlight truly will shine light on what really happened."
While he was gone the camera point of view continued to cycle between different places on Mars before switching to the inside of Pluto where a different announcer talked about the communities they were building. Then it switched back for a brief update about Mars. After that it showed the currently inhospitable environment on Venus before switching to covering news of the conditions on Earth and what was being done to improve it and then repeating the cycle.
Earth was still cold and food was still scarce, yet hope seemed to be born on the wind as a young yet old Queen slept and waited for the final symphony to commence. As she waited a small portal in the sky began disgorging birds of every feather, while another under a new lake did likewise.
Back on Earth, Setsuna's spirit sat beside the young goddess in their little temple. She said softly, "Usagi is planning something."
Belldandy responded softly in a tone that was nevertheless heard by all, "Yes."
"What do you mean yes? You have to stop her! As it is, this one almost killed her! You have to stop her!"
"That is not my purpose." Belldandy said sadly, even as Keiichi looked on, knowing there was nothing he could do but slip behind her and enfold her in his arms as tears streamed down the middle Norn's cheeks.
Belldandy turned and griped Keiichi tightly as he did the same. Each comforted the other while the spirit of the former Time guardian wept.
Holy Bell slipped out of her goddess and went over to offer what comfort she could to the troubled spirit.
Snow began to fall again but dawn was not far off.
Author's Note: One or maybe two chapters remain. How about a review? Finally, I did some last minute work on this one, so if anyone sees any big errors, feel free to send me a message with details.