by Cory D. Rose
The explosion of light went off like a bomb and spread out over the entire area, enveloping Ryoga, the Scouts, and even some of the nearby buildings, but it had the most effect on Ranma herself. He mind seemed to expand out and her body flared with pain unlike anything she had ever encountered before. She screamed as her body went numb and her vision darkened. Then she noticed a point of light on the horizon and went to it instinctually and everything returned to her in an instant. She fell to her knees and gasped for air as she tried to figure out what had happened. Where was Ryoga and why did she feel so funny and weak all of a sudden.
There were trees everywhere, no matter where she looked all he could see in every directions were leaves, wood, and plants. Ranma had been all over the world and she knew what one was supposed to look like. She even spotted bugs and rabbits running around as if nothing was wrong. The last thing she remembered was fighting with Ryoga and her final effort to defeat him. She wandered around the forest and wondered how she had gotten here. Then in the distance she spotted something weird moving through the trees, something humanoid, but to far away to recognize.
Launching into the trees, Ranma was soon bouncing from branch to branch almost faster than the eye could follow, she was still weak, but it was fading fast now that she had gotten stretched out a bit. She remembered a time a some years ago when she and her father had done this all the time, but decided that thoughts like that were not needed now, something was wrong. Within a few minutes she was nearly on top of the person she had spotted so she came to a rest in a tree and looked around carefully. Below her was a faint trail that had become over grown in the last few years and spotted someone that she had not expected to see this soon.
It was Ryoga.
Of all the people to see he was pretty far down the list since she had just left him back home in the middle of a blast crater. Even more amazing was the fact that he looked...normal, no signs of damage, no dark aura, no murderus rage. Instead he looked a little tired, hungry, and was setting up a basic camp. The type he always set up when he had no place to stay, he was even using the same tent he used to use when he got lost around Nerima and lugged around in this giant pack.
She watched for several minutes, keeping her aura down so he would not see her and noticed that he was setting up a kettle of hot water on his special metal rig that he used to pour hot water over himself when he was a pig, it could be set up in either form to make things easier. Why in the hell was he setting that up? He had been cured by Usagi hadn't he? This was starting to feel weird, what was the moron up to?
Ryoga stood up and stretched and walked away from his camp then started to go through his morning kata, throwing punches and kicks that could collapse walls and shatter stone. Ranma had always marveled at Ryoga's strength and known that his style was designed to work with that extreme power, as far as she knew, all of Ryoga's family had the ability. At just sixteen the Lost Boy could lift several tons over his head like some kind of monster. Ranma watched all of this in confusion, she just could not understand what was going on.
Then the most incredible thing happened, it started to rain out of a clear sky and Ryoga screamed in horror and vanished within his clothing. Ranma's eyes tripled in size as she saw the little black pig crawl out and sigh in depression. It let off a loud squeal and let off a mini Shishi Höködan that blew up a nearby tree. Ranma had nearly fallen out of the tree when he transformed, when he fired off his attack she flopped out of the tree and landed head first in shock. She was up in an instant, but the little pig didn't seem to have noticed her fall, instead it walked over to the fire and tipped the kettle with a little leg.
A few seconds later Ryoga was human again and stalked to his clothing cursing Ranma for all was worth. Ranma was a bit surprised Ryoga knew a number of those words, she didn't even know the meaning of over half of them. She stood there and watched as Ryoga failed to even see her, instead he had gone back to training. Ranma walked forward, keeping on guard for when Ryoga noticed her. After several seconds Ranma walked around Ryoga, there was not way the moron could miss her. So of course Ryoga doesn't even seem to notice him, just throws a few hundred punches and continues to growl under his breath.
"Ryoga, what the hell are you doing?!" Ranma yelled at him and punches him in the head.
At least that was what she wanted to do, instead her fist flies forward and passes through his head like a ghost would. Phasing through one side and passing through without stopping. Ranma is so shocked that she gasps and completely throws herself off balance, sending her sprawling to the ground. Bounding to her feet she took a defensive stance, but Ryoga still had not seemed to acknowledge her presence. She looked at her hand and tried to slap the Lost Moron. Again it passed through him like he didn't exist, she could feel nothing as her hand passed through him.
"Ryoga can you hear me?" Ranma asked, slightly panicked.
"Listen here you jerk, if you don't answer me I'm going to blast you into the ground!" Ranma screamed in frustration and started to attack Ryoga, but it proved useless, it was like trying to beat up the very air. After several minutes Ranma had to stop and gasp for air and glared at Ryoga, who still hadn't noticed her. Ranma growled and stomped over to Ryoga's kettle, but her hand passed through that as well. She stood there in shock for several minutes, unable to move or comprehend what was going on.
During this time Ryoga continued to practice, moving from his strength training to learning to how to get faster. Eventually he stopped and relaxed for several seconds before flaring up his pale green aura, all the time mumbling under his breath and looking more and more depressed. Eventually even Ranma took noticed and she turned to watch Ryoga practice using his Ki aura. She could see his power, but she noticed the couldn't feel it in any way like she should have. Ryoga's aura was large enough that she should have felt it long before she saw it.
Ranma was getting scared, a strange feeling for her after everything she had been through before. She ruthlessly surprised her fear and continued to watch as Ryoga cupped his hands and fired off several large blasts, the streaked out several yards before curving back and flying back at him from all directions. Then he went into a strange stance that Ranma had never seen him use before and exploded into movement built not of speed, but pure strength and power. Pretty typical Ryoga. His fist flew out and punched one of the balls of Ki to make it explode around him, the rest of them flew into the conflagration. Detonations went off all over the area, sending a huge column of smoke and dust rising into the air.
The effects of the blasts quickly dissipate and Ranma can see that Ryoga is still stading, though his clothing is still smoldering and cut in several places. Even more amazing is that his aura is still flaring strong. Ranma was impressed, she had never seen Ryoga take so much damage and still be able to stand. Then smirked as Ryoga groaned and fell flat on his face and sent up another wave of smoke and dust. Eventually Ryoga climbed to his feet and shook the dust off and staggering over to where Ranma was watching from the camp.
"Ryoga can you hear me?" Ranma asked again.
Ryoga just staggered past her and slumped down in front of the fire and used the hot water that was left over to cook up some instant Ramen from his pack. After eating he relaxed for a few minutes before he stood up and began packing up his stuff. Ranma again tried to hit the moron, but only made a fool out of himself. She was beginning to wonder if he was dead or something, but for some odd reason knew that wasn't it, something else was going on.
"Oh no Ryoga, if you go I will follow you, got that piggy!" Ranma growled as Ryoga finished packing up his stuff and stamped out his fire before heading deeper into the woods. Ranma stuck to him like glue, trying to get him to notice her. They passed countless trees, passed through at least one cave, located and passed one of the hugest trees Ranma had ever see, and ended up at the camp again by the end of the day. Ryoga noticed this and snarled.
"RANMA, THIS ALL YOUR FAULT!"
"Grow up Mr. P." Ranma muttered. If Ryoga stubbed his toe, Ranma was the reason, not because Ryoga wasn't watching where he was going. This had happened so many times in the last four hours that Ranma wondered if she might have actually done something to the idiot, but shrugged it off. Everything she had seen suggested that Ryoga was just stupid and easily distracted. Then again she had seen his direction curse in action hundreds of times to just dismiss it out of hand. Perhaps the Lost Idiot had good reason for hating her as much as he did, but Ranma doubted it.
Ryoga didn't wait around to long before heading out again and Ranma followed him since he was her best chance of figuring out what where she was or what was going on. This time Ryoga took to a path and flowed it for some time, weaving in and around trees, Ranma figured it had to be deer trail of some kind. It weaved and turned and doubled back on its self almost as much as Ryoga did. She kept her patience with him since hitting and yelling at him seemed pointless, she couldn't touch him or yell at him so she just tagged along. The ghost thing had Ranma nervous, but she didn't feel dead and she could touch the trees and ground, just not the Ryoga. So there had to be a better explanation than if she was dead, hell she could even detect her own life energy and it was as strong as ever.
She ignored the fact that she couldn't read Ryoga's Ki though, it was like he didn't exist or some thing. They walked for several hours and Ranma was getting more than a little irritated at being behind the Lost Moron without him even knowing she was there. Several times she tried to hit him again, especially when he decided to circle trees for no discernible reason that she could see. He would just walk up to one, walked around it several times and move on to another one. She was bored too, but if she hadn't been watching the jerk walk she would have missed it as this light flared around his body and the world shifted. Ranma stumbled to a stop and gaped around her like an idiot.
Where they had been walking through a forest a few seconds before, they were now on the side of a mountain with no trees in sight. Ryoga just continued to plod on ahead like nothing had happened, now heading up a mountain trail that looked like it hadn't been used in some time. Shaking her head, Ranma chased after Ryoga and caught up to him just as he rounded a small cliff edge and came to a stop. He looked around in confusion and started to growl as a green glow formed around him.
"WHERE IN THE HELL IN I NOW!" Ryoga screamed and let off a rather large Shishi Höködan.
Ranma paled and dove for cover as it rose several hundred feet in the air, looking like a small sun as it hovered at the top of it's arc before beginning to fall back towards the two of them. "Ryoga you idiot!"
The blast landed right on top of Ryoga and exploded with enough force to wipe out a large section of the area. Much to Ranma's surprise, the blast seemed to pass through her as it was nothing. Bits and pieces of shrapnel went in one side of her body and out the other side without doing any damage, even though it ripped the area to shreds. Then something weird happened and Ranma gawked in astonishment as the world around her started to slow down to a crawling pace while she stayed normal and her eyes were drawn to something she hadn't noticed before.
A large stone was set up to block the entrance to a cave and wrapped in a powerful spirit ward. It looked ancient, like nobody had been here to see it in hundreds or thousands of years. The white cloth like wards were innocent enough, but even Ranma could tell that the ward was a powerful one and the Lost Moron's blast wave was heading right towards it. It was like watching a bad science fiction movie as Ryoga's Shishi Höködan leveled that part of the mountain and blasted the boulder and ward to nothingness.
Ranma staggered out of the way when the spot she was standing one vanished and she had to spend a few seconds jumping and rolling to safety. She caught some movement and watched as a black like mist geyser out of the hole and high into the sky before it changed direction and headed right for Ryoga who was just beginning to get over the release of his blast. He didn't even have time to scream as the fog grabbed him and lifted his vulnerable body into the air and started shoving itself down his throat. Ryoga did fight back, but that was a little hard to do when your body is convulsing and writhing in intense pain. Ranma ran forward to help him, but found she still couldn't help him when her hands passed right though his body. She ground her teeth in frustration. Ryoga's screams of agony continued for some time before they cut off and he lay there in a pool of black fog at the bottom of the crater and did not move.
"You're still an idiot aren't you Ranma?"
Ranma's head snapped up and she looked to see Ryoga standing beside her, she could see right through him. A ghost of some kind she thought, before glaring up at him and snapping at him for that comment. "I am not an idiot Ryoga."
"You don't even know what's going on do you?"
"Like you do, Moron?"
Ryoga laughed, one of the few times Ranma had ever heard the sound without the bitterness or depression evident in his voice. "Ranma, think about what you've seen in the last few hours. What happened to me?"
"You wandered around aimlessly and blew up the side of a mountain."
Ryoga shook his head. "No Ranma, don't you remember our last fight?"
"The one where you were possessed?"
"Yes, and now what just happened to me here?" Ryoga said slowly, as if dealing with a child.
Ranma growled and decided the Lost Moron was in for a beating the next time she could touch him. "You were possessed again, you idiot!" Ranma yelled and tried to slap him in the back of the head.
"No, this is where I was first possessed about a month ago." Ryoga said and smirked as Ranma's hand passed through his head.
"This is now Ryoga."
"No Ranma, this is a vision of the past and it is telling you what happened to me."
"And how is that possible Ryoga?"
"I don't know, there is something within you that is showing you this. You can't touch anything because this is just a memory replaying itself for you, a vision that can't not be touched. I'm not sure how you're doing it, but I can take a guess or two."
"Like you have clue." Ranma snapped.
Ryoga shook his ghostly head and thumped Ranma across the head hard enough to send her to the ground. "Idiot, think this through for once. What ever happened to me has allowed me see though my anger and depression for the first time in years and your sitting here arguing over stupid stuff."
Ranma dragged herself to her feet and took a swing at Ryoga...and passed right through him again, she squawked in surprise, again.
"Hahahaha Ranma, you're just not looking at this in the right way and it is placing you at a serious disadvantage."
"I'll get you for that P-Chan!"
The Lost Boy stepped over to Ranma and slammed his fist down into their back, sending her to the ground again. "I don't have much time Ranma, I can feel myself fading already. I'm here because of you, I know that, but not why."
"What are you talking about?" Ranma mumbled as she slowly and painfully sat up. How could he touch her if she couldn't touch him?
"This vision we're in is unstable, I can feel it beginning to come apart at the edges even as we argue with each other."
"So what, the sooner it's over the sooner were out of here."
"Maybe, but remember what you were doing before it started Ranma. I was kicking your ass!"
"YOU WERE NOT KICKING MY ASS!" Ranma screamed.
"Yeah whatever, just remember what was happening."
"The last thing I remember is you...slamming me repeatedly into the ground by my neck and trying to kill me." Ranma mumbled, not wanting to admit it.
"Yep, and I was enjoying every minute of it too you asshole."
"Hahaha you should see you face Ranma!" Ryoga laughed and faded from view.
Ranma rolled to her feet and looked around franticly, but he was gone. "Sheesh, he can even get lost standing in one place!"
The world lurched around her suddenly and real time seemed to start again as the last of the explosion seemed to finally finish itself. Ranma noted that Ryoga's body was buried in the rubble of the blast, but a groan proved that he was still alive. She backed off to watch as he stood up and seemed unscathed, the look of confusion on his face was a surprise though, as if he had no idea what had happened to him. Without a word Ryoga gathered up his dropped pack and staggered off down the mountain. Ranma followed at a distance, since she knew this was just a memory now she wanted to know what was going to happen next.
What she saw as Ryoga walked along was a black and green aura that flared around him every now and then. She had heard enough stories and had enough experience with possession to know that Ryoga had no idea what had happened to him or had blocked it out. There was enough evidence that Ranma was almost sure that if she managed to get Ryoga unpossessed every thing he had done or experienced would be forgotten.
Ranma followed him until he made camp, practiced some more, and went to bed. She saw as he spent the whole night surrounded in a black aura of some kind...
"WHAT THE HELL?!" Ryoga screamed as Ranma exploded in light. A concussive wave of some kind hit him and blasted him through nearby wall and forced him to drop the red head's body. She hit the ground hard enough to bounce and lay there, her body still glowing with some kind of power. Ryoga didn't care, he was just a one small step away from completing his revenge and these girls were in his way. He pulled himself out of the hole and turned to glare at them.
Seconds later the Sailors attacked, fire and electricity flared and fired into him just as he was beginning to stand. He thrust his hand out and use his Ki to blow Mars and Jupiter off their feet, sending them flying down the street. Then the caught the movement out of the corner of his eye and saw Moon kneeling down with a scepter raised above her head. It flared with golden power of some kind and fired. Ryoga blinked at the sheer amount of power being thrown at him and had just enough time saw one thing before it turned into a giant pink heart and slammed into him with the force of a train.
Ryoga's black aura flared around him and he screamed as the energy of the attack seemed to fill his body, running along his inside like electricity, invading his whole being. Though the attack took less than and instant to run it's course, to Ryoga it seemed to take hours as he was invaded and changed by the power. Just as he thought he was dead, it stopped and he slumped and staggered around a little. He had never been in so much pain in his whole life, it felt as it his bones had been shattered and his muscles ripped to shreds. The pain quickly turned to anger though and a red hazed descended on the Lost Boy and screamed in rage.
The black aura flared and Ryoga rose his arms to the sky and screamed in rage as he powered up, shattering the concrete all around him and lifting it into the air. His hate filled eyes turned to glare at Sailor Moon and promised her a slow and agonizing death. Ryoga took a step forward and snarled, ground at his feet still cracking. "YOU BITCHES ARE SO DEAD!"
"I will not allow you to hurt my friends!" Moon yelled back and started to twirl her scepter again. Behind and around her the rest of the Scouts took up their places and charged their powers. While off to the side Sailor Saturn knelt by Ranma and examined her injures with a frown on her face as she looked up at Ryoga...a member of her family.
Dark thoughts passed through Hotaru's mind as she tried to deal with this, her uncles or whatever they were, were trying to kill each other. They had been a lot of things to each other if the stories she had read about them were true. Ryoga blamed all his problems on Ranma while Ranma denied what ever it was Ryoga was mad about. They were sometimes friends, rivals, and enemies all in one package and she didn't know how to help them. Glancing over at Ryoga again she knew what she had to do, but didn't wasnt to do it. There were very few times when she had liked being a Sailor Scout, all it seemed to bring about was pain and suffering that she had to endure. The death of her mother, father, the rest of her friends, just about everybody that had ever cared about her.
Then Haruka and Michiru had come along and given her something she needed badly, a family that actually cared about her again. Then the rumors at school had started, about her being evil and mean, doing this like hurting people for no reason. Being mocked by everyone and judged for the slimiest of reasons, it had broken her heart and nearly destroyed her. Ryoga and Ranma hadn't cared about what others said and accepted her for who she was and even offered to help her out when she needed it. She stood up and bowed her head, Ryoga was going to kill her friends, she had to do as her duty told her. Someone grabbed her ankle when she stood up and she looked down to see Ranma looking back up at her.
"Ranma you're hurt, just rest, I need to stop Ryoga before someone dies."
"Listen...Ryoga is possessed...he can be saved..."
"I know he's possessed...but there are no other options left."
"You're wrong..." Ranma gasped and collapsed back into unconsciousness.
Saturn bowed her head, she did no want to kill Ryoga, but she could see no other options. Then she looked up and saw Sailor Pluto standing in front of her with sad eyes. "She's right you know, there is another option."
"Have Usagi use the Moon Healing Escalation on him."
"She would have used that by now if she thought it would work."
Pluto smirked, a very strange sight. "This is the same girl who is always late to school and can't take ten steps without falling on her face?"
"Oh...lets go and tell her, Ryoga is getting pretty worked up." Saturn said with a gesture.
"I can't." Pluto said.
"She is mad at me, I made a mistake and she threatened me. Just like Queen should do, she has to forgive me before I can take up my normal duties again."
"I don't understand...can you look after Ranma there until were done?"
"So then it is true...that girl is Ranma?"
"Yes, I'm surprised you didn't figure it out before this."
"I need the Time Gate to see the past Saturn, when my staff was...destroyed by Ranma, I lost the thing I needed to focus the gate and use it. It was only a few minutes ago that is showed me where I had made my mistake. We'll talk more later, go tell Usagi to use her brain for a change." Pluto said with a smirk and stepped over to Ranma.
"I'm sorry for attacking you."
"Eh..." Ranma shrugged painfully.
"I'll make it up to you, but with my staff gone there isn't much I can do."
"It'll work out..." Ranma said and passed out.
Pluto just shook her head and tended to some of Ranma's wounds while Saturn went to talk to Sailor Moon. She ran forward to intercept Ryoga just as he finished screaming, she pivoted and slammed the butt of her glaive into his stomach, spun and knocked him off his feet. The blade came down and rested itself against his neck. "Sailor Moon, use the Moon Healing Escalation since he's possessed!"
Moon gaped for a second and blushed as she pulled the Silver Crystal out and held it in her hand. "Oh yeah! I hadn't even thought of that."
Mars hit her in the back of the head. "Baka!"
"MOON HEALING ESCALATION!"
Saturn jumped back at the last second and let the Silver Crystal energy slam into him. He screamed again and burst into magical fire, his back arched for several seconds before he collapsed and passed out. Then it was over and everyone finally let themselves relax a little, it had been a very hard battle and one that none of them wanted. Saturn was happy she hadn't had to kill her Uncle Ryoga and knelt down beside him. Moon came over and sat down beside her and gave her a hug.
"Thanks for the save there Saturn, I was about to fire on him again and I don't think he would have survived."
"Pluto said to remind you."
"Pluto?" Moon asked in surprise, a hint of her earlier anger in her voice. "Why didn't she tell me herself?"
"You're angry with her, she thought you wouldn't listen to her. I think."
"Oh...where is she now?"
"She was just over by Ranma."
They turned to look, but Pluto was long gone, the rest of the Scouts were there bandaging the rest of Ranma's injuries. "You should go over there and heal her as much as you can Saturn."
"What about Ryoga and Mercury?"
"Mercury is just out cold and should wake up soon, her healing abilities kicked in almost immediately. I'll look after Ryoga, he should be up any minute now and I want to talk to him when he comes around."
"Alright." Saturn said and headed over to check on Ranma again.
Sailor Moon didn't know who to talk to about what she had seen, on one hand she wanted to tell everyone, on the other had she felt that it would cause a lot of problems. Ranma did not like being a girl, Usagi knew that much, but if 'she' was the new Sailor Pluto he had to be a girl to do it. What would happen to Setsuna now? Usagi was mad at her, but not enough to want her to step down from her job.
"What's wrong Usako?" Tuxedo Mask asked.
"Just something I saw, I'm not going worry about it for now. Could you pick up Mercury, we need to carry her to the temple."
"What about Ranma?"
"I'll have Jupiter carry her..."
"Okay, lets get everyone back to the Temple." Moon said.
"What about Ryoga?"
Moon frowned. "We'll call an ambulance for him, but I don't want him with us so just leave him here."
"That works for me." Mask said and went to collect Mercury.
It only took them about ten minutes to get everyone back to the temple and Rei had Ranma and Ami placed in a room to get some rest. Ranma looked like hell warmed over, her body was covered in bruises, a lot worse than the last fight she had been in with Ryoga at the mall. These two did more property damage than any other kind of fight she had seen, even as a Scout. It still amazed her that a regular human like Ranma could fight like she did, she could have even taken them out in their Scout forms at the level she fought at. It was simply amazing no matter how she looked at it and she was training them all how to fight like she did.
"Rei, did you see what I did just as that blast of light went off?" Usagi asked as she entered the room.
"Ranma had the symbol of Pluto on her forehead."
"WHAT?!" They all screamed.
Usagi nodded. "I saw the symbol of Pluto on her forehead just as the blast went off."
"Does this mean the Ranma is Setsuna's replacement?" Rei asked to herself.
"I don't know, I hope not, I'm mad at Pluto for what she tried to do, but not enough to strip her of her powers."
"Uranus and Neptune are also out to kill her as well, what will we do about them if they decide that they don't want Ranma as Pluto?" Minako asked. "That last fight with them nearly killed Ranma."
"I don't think that Ranma is the next Pluto, he or she doesn't have the right kind of personality for it and I know for a fact that you will never get Ranma in a fuko. She'll die first." Makoto said with a giggle.
Minako nodded her head and giggled as well.
"You're probably right about that, but I still saw the symbol on her head so if she isn't a Scout what does that make her?"
No one had a clue.
"If you guys don't mind I'm going to head home and get some sleep, it's getting late." Mamoru said as he stood up.
"I'll walk you out!" Usagi said and sauntered over to her boyfriend with a smirk.
The others either glared at her in jealously, rolled their eyes, or tried to ignore Usagi's luck like usual.
"Well that's the way the board breaks!" Minako said with a grin.
"Minako!" Artemis snapped.
"One of these days you're going to get one of those sayings right."
"Eh..heheheheheheheheheh..." Minako scratched the back of her head and blushed.
Hotaru just sat in the corner of the room looking confused and tired, Haruka was supposed to come and pick her up an hour ago and she still hadn't shown up. She had used her healing abilities to help Ranma and Ami, but it had left her drained and she needed some sleep. Luckily watching the Inners was funny and Haruka was right that they were laugh riot when they got going and forgot who was around to watch them. To bad she was to tired to appreciate it much.
The wind was blowing steadily over the small patch of land as light flared and Commander Hibera appeared, hovering over the scorched earth with an irritated look on her face. She was happy to be active again, but she was a little pissed that Kakome had kept her in deep freeze for over three hundred years before remembering that she existed. Now she had to try and kill the Sailor Scouts and several of the other super powered being on this planet within a week or she would be either killed or put back in deep freeze again, probably never to see the light of day again.
There were some poor suckers in there that hadn't been awakened in thousands of years, all because they had so little use or had angered the Master. She decided that she would die first before she went back to that and that meant she had to make a good showing here. The Scouts were doomed if that was what she had to do, there were no other options. Luckily she had the power to back it up, or in this case, she would have the power. Planets like this one were made for her kind, all she had to do was tap into them and she would be all powerful.
She looked around and took not of the volcano she was hovering above, it was billowing smoke and dust into the air and rumbling to itself. It felt like she was home again, one of the few things she missed about her old life. Her long blue hair swirled around her as she raised her hand to the sky and flared with red light, within seconds she was humming with power and she lowered her arm and vanished. She reappeared right above a lava toob and fired a beam of energy down into the earth with a scream of ecstasy. At first nothing seemed to happen, then the earth began to rumble and fired a column of lave straight up into the air and sprayed right into Commander Hibera.
Instead of reacting with fear, she just grinned as her aura flared up and dwarfed her in sized. Her insane laugh could be heard for miles around slowly growing in volume and scaring the locals into a frenzy of fear and dread. Then with a final flare of power the volcano erupted in an explosion of power that nearly obliterated the entire volcanic island and killed several hundred people. Hibera just ate it up and added the power and life energy of the dead to her own power.
Then as suddenly as it began it rumbled to a stop and she relaxed enough to let her aura be reabsorbed into her. Her powers were at full power now and those Scouts were going to did if it was the last thing she ever did. Her powers now connected her to the Earth and she could feel the untapped potential of its life and she laughed even louder. Then her eyes gleamed as she locked onto the one person on this planet that was connected like she was. This was too perfect, she could feel the Scout of the Earth and where he was. On one of the Japanese islands without the slightest clue that she had found him. She couldn't pass this, who would have thought that she would have the first kill this soon?
She lifted her arm and vanished from sight with a clap of thunder that echoed over what was left of the island. The clouds in the sky had been affected by the blast, but they had retuned quickly and gathering up the evaporated water from the lava pouring into the sea. Minutes later the rains began to try and calm the destruction that had been created, but half way around the world one man knew in an instant that something was wrong. He sat up in bed with sweat dripping off him and looked out over the city and wondered if he was right or wrong about the coming battle.
Mamoru Chiba was the Prince of Earth and one most closely tied to Earth, he knew with his planet was being hurt or in danger and was always the most affected by it. If a piece of a mountain fell into the ocean he knew about it, if a mine collapsed he knew, and if a volcano went off because of unnatural causes he knew about that as well. Over the years he had learned to control it a little, but all these dark forces were always using that link to the Earth against him if they knew about. Even when they didn't the link still worked and some of that darkness always made it's way to him in one form or another.
He crawled out of bed and made his way to the kitchen, his volcano induced headache was pounding something ferrous. For the first time in a long while he was a bit angry that Usagi and the others hadn't given him a communicator. This was something that they needed to know about, but he knew it was too late already. He could feel the power coming right for him even as he stood there drinking some water and a couple of aspirin. With a flare of power he transformed into Prince Endymion complete with armor and sword and stepped into the living room. His timing was perfect as Commander Hibera appeared before him in a flare of light.
"Well, well, you were waiting for me to appear?"
"You hurt my planet, I could feel it as the volcano went off and killed all those people."
"They shouldn't have been living on that island in the first place, its their own fault if you ask me." Hibera smirked.
"The loss of life is never a small thing."
"You don't' have the power to stop me Mamoru." Hibera snapped and smiled at the shocked look on his face.
"I bet you want to know how I know your real name right? Well you see you're the only one other than me that has a connection to this planet and that connection is strong, so strong that reading your identity was relatively easy really."
"It doesn't matter if you know or not, I can't let you kill anymore people and I will do everything in my power to stop you." Endymion said as she started to draw his sword.
Commander Hibera laughed. "Bull shit little boy, you don't have the balls to do everything to stop me. I will kill and destroy everything in my path to achieve my goal while you stand in the background and complain about the loss of life. You are a good guy, a position I gave up a long time ago and there is nothing you can do to stop me Prince of Earth."
"Like hell there is!" Endymion screamed and rushed forward to behead the monster in front of him.
She blurred and he felt a blow to his chest flew backward and threw the wall into his bedroom. He was coughing a little as he stumbled to his feet, but a blow to his back sent him to his knees and she punted him through the back wall of his apartment and into the neighboring apartment in a shower of stone, mortar, broken pipes, and ravaged wires. Endymion groaned in pain as he felt some of his energy being sucked out of him as he tried to crawl away, but the blue haired demon was already there lifting him off the floor by his neck.
"What kind of weakling are you Prince of Earth? I thought you would at least be a challenge for a little while."
That was all the distraction he needed and brought his knee up into her chin with all his strength. Unfortunately it wasn't enough to do more than make her let go and knock her back into his apartment. He looked around and noticed that he was in an empty apartments and thanked all the gods in heaven that there was no one here to be killed by this mad woman. The scream of fury next door was so loud that it probably woke up everyone in the building even as the rest of the wall exploded into the room.
"I am Commander Hibera and for that you are going to die you pathetic worm!"
He rolled out of the way of several energy blasts and tossed out a barrage of lethal roses. Then was out of the room before they even hit, he smirked as he snapped his fingers and heard the roses exploded with the force of several grenades and leveled even more of the apartment. Sailor Moon and the girls were always doing what they could to take the enemies down as softly as possible, it was a bit galling that he always had to hold back around them.
The front door of the empty apartment opened easily enough and he made his way outside and into the hallway. He ran for it, his cape trailing behind him elegantly. Behind him the apartment exploded into fire as the walls were blasted out and a completely pissed off blue haired monster stomped her way out and glared at his back. Her eyes were glowing with power, they flared and a wall of fire roared down the hall way after him. A quick turn into the stair well and he slammed the fire proof door shut and hopped over the stair railing to fall several stories and landed in a crouch.
Sticking around wasn't a good idea though and he took off as soon as he caught his breath again. He could feel her chasing him down, so he took the door into the underground parking of his building just as the door behind him was blown off it's hinges and slammed into the wall across from it. Hibera stepped out and right into another dozen roses he had left, they exploded on contact with enough power to shatter the concrete. Skidding to a stop he turned around and waited for some sign of her exiting the fire storm and the instant he saw some movement he brought his hands forward.
"TUXEDO BOMBER BLAST!" He screamed and a wave of energy fired out of his hands. A ball of gray and black energy fired out and slammed into Hibera's chest, hitting her like a car and blowing her back before the was ready.
He took off again and ran up the exit ramp, vaulting over a car that was just starting to enter the garage and startled the driver. Endymion ran across the street and transformed into Tuxedo Mask to change his energy signature, but did it just as a he heard a loud crunching sound and the car he had vaulted over came flipping out of the garage. It flew thirty or forty feet in the air and landed in the middle of the street to explode. He watched from the shadows as Hibera stalked out of the garage glowing a deep orange, the pavement at her feet melting with every step she took.
"I WILL CATCH YOU ASSHOLE AND I WILL KILL YOU AND EVERYONE YOU KNOW!" Commander Hibera screamed and vanished.
Tuxedo Mask sighed with relief and perked up a little when her heard the sounds of sirens in the distance. He stepped into the shadows and used them to cover himself as he roof hopped to the Temple where most of the Scouts were staying the night. This enemy was a lot more ruthless than some of the others that they had faced, they had to stop this new enemy as soon as possible. Nothing good was going to come from this, nothing at all.
"So what do you think we should do?" Usagi asked as she sat in the living room of Rei's temple.
"I don't know, we have never taken this kind of damage before." Rei said.
"Those things are beating the crap out of us and I don't like it, we've been winning these battles for some time and getting stronger and stronger with every battle." Maloto said in a huff.
"Oh calm down, we won didn't we?" Minako said.
"Girls, Ryoga would have killed all of us if we had gotten in his way." Luna said. "Mercury was taken out because she could have found a way to stop him before the fight started and paid the price."
"Maybe, but at what price will the next victory cost us? Mercury is out for the next few days while she recovers and these things are attacking us every few hours now." Luna said.
"Luna's right, we need to find a way to take these things down faster and harder than what we can now, were getting our tails kicked because they found some way to counter our magical abilities." Rei said.
"What about Ranma, he...she? can help us some more can't she?" Makoto asked and ate some of her cookies, for once Usagi wasn't eating very much and it kind of unnerved her a little.
"I don't know..."
"Ranma has been the most help against these monster since they showed up, they don't have the same immunity to her attacks that they do to ours. She has lots of different attacks and that makes her hard to read and defend against, is there anyway we can do what Rei did and alter our attacks in any way?"
Luna cocked her head and started pacing. "The Scouts powers were designed to be used in a ladder type series, slowly making you stronger and stronger until you were ready for the added power of your higher abilities. I don't know if it is possible to get to them faster than you already are."
"Then how are we supposed to fight back Luna, there has to be something we can do. Sitting here and waiting for them to show up is a very bad idea, they are hunting us down to kill us." Makoto snapped.
"Luna, stop being so stubborn and tell them or I will." Artemis said from under the couch where he was hiding. Stealing Minako's dinner while her back was turned hadn't proven to be a good idea, but it was VERY filling.
"No, it is far to early for them to do that."
"That's bull and you know it! Tell them."
The Scouts blinked and turned to look at Luna, but she didn't notice.
"No, in the Silver Millennium they had at least ten years of training before they were even considered for that. They barely have four years of training now and that hasn't been all that harsh as it is. It could be twenty or more years before they are ready."
"What is he talking about Luna?" Usagi asked.
Luna gasped and turned to look at the girls faces as they crowded around her and started to sweat, she had forgotten they were there. "Um...nothing."
"It's too soon, none of you are ready for that just yet."
"Luna, I do remember where that fat cat lives, Hercules was his name wasn't it?" Usagi said, her eyes taking on a look that Luna had never seen before.
"No! It's to dangerous, you could all be killed and where would we be then?!"
"Let us decide that Luna, we will die if the next attack happens without Ranma around and she is currently in the next room in pretty bad shape." Makoto said.
"There is a trial that you can go through to gain more skill and power as a Scout..." Artemis said.
"Artemis no, they are not ready!" Luna yelled and tackled the white cat and tossed him out the front door of the shrine before he could get anymore out.
While the black cat was busy Minako looked over at the table, Mercury's computer was sitting there innocently trying to blend in. A little hard to do for a blue, pink, and white hand held computer on a brown table, but it was trying. Minako walked over and picked it up. "How much do yo want to bet what we need to know is in here?"
"But that's Mercury's!" Usagi gasped.
"So? It's a computer..." Minako said and flipped it open, this was first time she had ever gotten such a close look at the little thing. The screen took up the entire lid of the device and the key pad was touch sensitive, just like out Star Trek the Next Generation with that Dreamy Commander Ryker. Minako slapped herself to stop from drooling, the others sweat dropped as they crowded around her.
She gasped as words flashed across the screen *Princess of Venus recognized, I can answer questions by having them typed in below.*
"NEAT!" Minako squealed and quickly typed out a question. *What is this Trial that the Scouts have to go through to get more powerful?*
"What's it doing?" Usagi said, she couldn't see much of the screen with everone else crowding in around Minako.
"It's looking for the information Usagi."
*Information found - The Trial of Destiny is the final stage one of the Sailor Scouts need to pass to become true Sailor Scouts and masters of their Planetary Element.*
*How do we take this Trial?*
*The Trial is to be taken after all of your training is complete and initiated by the Silver Crystal in conjunction with the Golden Crystal. The nature of the Trials are classified by order of Queen Serenity the First. Further information may only be accessed by order of Pluto or Queen Serenity.*
*How dangerous is it?*
*The second group of Scouts to take the trial did so too soon and were never heard from again. Theories suggested that they failed the Trial or were killed, their current location has never been entered into this file.*
"Hey guys it says we could die or never be heard from again if we take it too early." Minako gasped.
"I told you girls it was to early!" Luna snapped from their feet.
Usagi's head snapped up as Tuxedo Mask pulled the door open and stumbled into the shrine. She gasped and ran to him as he fell to the floor, he was in pretty bad shape and bleeding from dozens of small wounds. "OHMYGODWHATHAPPENEDTOYOU?" She screeched. The others ran over to help and dragged him the rest of the way into the shrine and helped him to lay down on the couch. Rei went to grab some towels and bandages while the others helped make Mamoru more comfortable.
"A new enemy attacked me just after I went to bed, she tried to kill me and nearly leveled my apartment building."
Usagi hugged him and burst into tears. "WAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!"
The rest of the Scouts winced.
"She called herself Commander Hibera and was more powerful than anything I've ever encountered before. It felt like I was taking on Wise Man all by myself."
Ranma opened her eyes slowly and groaned in pain, she felt like she had been in a friendly sparing match with Saffron and there was this loud wailing sound in the background that was making it worse. It kind of reminded her of the times Soun would break down in hysterics over something stupid. Her whole body hurt in place she didn't want to think about, especially since she was female currently. Memories of the fight came back to her, what Ryoga had done to her and the dream like state she had experienced close to the end of the fight. That dream had been revealing to say the least, who would have thought Ryoga would have that kind of bad luck? Finding monsters like that was supposed to be hard, getting to them even harder, and Ryoga had stumbled upon it and released it without even knowing it was there.
For a few seconds she felt sorry for the moron, but decided that he deserved it in a way, Ryoga was so obsessed with defeating her at times that he would do almost anything to destroy him. Sure some of their matches were just friendly sparing matches, but every now and then they took on a whole new meaning and that was when things became dangerous. Ryoga was his closest rival in the art and if he ever learned to control those rages of his their fights would take on a whole new meaning. The one area that she knew she couldn't compete against Ryoga in was brute strength. Ranma knew she was strong, but to match the Lost Boy in that area would be nearly impossible.
Ranma sat up and noticed the strange surroundings and that she was covered in bandages. Whoever had trussed her up had done a decent job of it, even though most of her injuries were healed up by now. It must have been the Scouts, they were the only ones that could have done it, if anyone else had decided to help she would have ended up at Dr. Tofu's or on a boat to China. This unfamiliar room meant the Scouts, so she rolled to her feet and searched around for a few minutes until she found her shirt and pants. They had been laid out at the end of her futon for when she woke up, most of her clothing was in pretty bad shape, she even noticed several spots were the blood from her injuries had seeped through. Ranma shuddered, she did not want to wear the soiled clothing and kind of hoped she could borrow something from someone. Running around in boxers wasn't going to work either, but her clothes could for later.
Ranma looked around and saw that Ami was laid out on a futon in the corner on the far side of the room. She looked to be in pretty good condition for being hit by Ryoga, the bruise on her face was pretty obvious and nasty looking though. Ranma hobbled over to her and knelt down to look her over, she immediately tapped several shiatsu points and altered the flow of the girl's Ki so that she would heal up a little faster than she normally would. Ranma had been around Dr. Tofu enough to have learned some of his skills.
Ami groaned and opened her eyes to see a topless female Ranma looking down at her and blinked in confusion. "What's going on?" She mumbled.
"We survived the fight."
"Fight?" Ami asked in confusion.
"Oh yeah...Ryoga hit...me, didn't he?" Ami said slowly and reached up to touch her face.
Ranma nodded. "Yep, he left you with a nasty bruise too."
"What happened after that?"
"Me and him fought one of our nastier battles."
"At least you won."
Ranma frowned and looked away. "Um..."
"No, but I'm not sure I won either." Ranma said and stood up, she didn't want to talk about her near defeat anymore, Ryoga had almost had her. "Though I won't admit that again if anyone else asks."
Ami giggled and nodded. "Why are you running around topless?"
Ranma blushed. "My shirt is covered in blood, I don't want to put it on like that."
Ami shuddered and nodded. "This looks like Rei's temple, one of the spare rooms, she should have something that you can wear. If not her then Makoto will, she is more your size anyway."
Ami just giggled some more.
"Well lets go and get something to eat, I'm starving." Ranma said.
Ami just stood up slowly, but Ranma was there to help her lay back down. "You are worse off than I thought if you can't stand up, I'll go, you get some more rest." Ranma said and was out the door before she could say much of anything.
Ranma stalked down the hall, pasted the Scouts and into the kitchen before anyone could say much of anything. Rei and Makoto saw her and started coughing and blushing a solid red while Minako gaped at her. Usagi didn't noticed, bit Mamoru did and fainted in Usagi's arms as Ranma 'jiggled' past in a pair of boxers and nothing else. Hotaru was to busy laughing to say much of anything, it was just further proof of Ranma's manly out look on things that being topless as a girl didn't bother her all that much.
Of course a few seconds later when he stepped back out into the living room as a man again, all the girls started blushing as other ideas occurred to them and his boxers didn't hide much. "Hey now, get your minds out of the gutter!" Ranma snapped, he would know those looks anywhere.
They all blushed, except Usagi who still hadn't noticed much beyond Mamoru's fainting spell and the blood dripping out of his nose. Her wailing was ignored by all in favor of a more interesting pastime, an under clothed and moving Ranma. "Could one of you run over to my apartment and grab me some clothes? My other set is covered in blood and I don't want to wear it like that."
Hotaru jumped up and ran out of the room. "I'llgoandgetit!" She yelled back.
"Um..." Ranma said and decided it was good enough. "I'll wait in the other room then."
"You can't go in there like that!" Rei yelled suddenly.
"Why is that?"
"Your a...guy..." Rei started and stopped as she blushed again.
"So what? I'm always a guy, and always will be as far as I'm conserned."
"But Ami is in there..."
"Yep, and she needs her sleep since she is to weak to get up at the moment." Ranma said. "...and I'm hungry enough to eat a table leg or something, I just don't feel like eating in my underwear."
All the girls blushed again.
Ranma looked confused and thought there might have been something wrong with his boxers and looked down, they looked normal to him so he couldn't see the problem with them. "I'll just wait until Hotaru gets back with those clothes then I can go out and get something to eat."
To Be Continued...
End notes - I have noticed that this story and The Replacement are getting harder and harder to get regular chapters, so I'm moving them to a secondary slot on the priorities list. Princess of the Moon and Golden Opportunity are going to be my regular ones for a while. I will still be working on these, but I'm running low on ideas and need to come up with the right direction to take both fics.
Maybe you could suggest some ideas?