Categories > Anime/Manga > Ranma 1/2 > Twin Black Phoenix

Chapter 2

by Nighthawk 0 Reviews

Chapter 2 of TBP

Category: Ranma 1/2 - Rating: R - Genres: Action/Adventure, Angst, Crossover - Characters: Ranma - Warnings: [?] [R] [V] - Published: 2005/05/08 - Updated: 2005/05/09 - 14593 words

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Twin Black Phoenix
A Ranma ½ and Sailor Moon Crossover
By Tomas Megarson

Note: This is going to be dark in some places. It will be extremely
dark at times. In fact, I suggest you think of this as a Dark Fic. I
don't have plans to kill off the main characters (too many times) but
that'll probably change. If you don't like dark fics, but then again,
this may be the fic that gets you to like them, so give it a shot anyway.

Chapter 2


Ranma looked into the mirror once more and sighed. He couldn't
stand the uniform. The navy blue jacket and pants looked good with the
tie and white shirt, but he would have preferred black. And looser
fitting. And offering more protection. And somewhere to put his katana.
And a lot of other things as well. If he could have had his way he
would have just worn his armor and cloak to school. He couldn't stand
out, though. This was a black ops mission. He couldn't walk around
letting people know who he was. He ran his fingers through his hair
once more and gave the image in the mirror a killer smile. He grimaced
and then looked at the terminal screen on the wall.

Ranma, your background for school is as follows:
Your parents transferred you because of some
women problems. Your idiot father engadged you
to three different girls. You can't stand any
of them, but they are all madly in love with you.
Your mother took pity on your problem and has
sent you away to finish your education. It is
her hope that while you are away you will choose
one of them. You, on the other hand, are looking
for a girl that you like so you can marry her and
get the others off of your back. You are a minor
noble in my court, so you don't need to worry
about getting into the palace if you need to.
Should Keikan get a chance to visit you, you and he
were sparring partners for the past three years.
Together you founded your own school of the art.
This will give you more creditable defense should
someone recognize him (which is most certain since
he will be spending a large amount of time in
court.) Good luck, Ranma. I'll let you know when
a more specific mission comes up.
Setsuna

"Great so I'm some sort of girl swamped noble. At least she
didn't tell me to keep my martial arts a secret." He glanced at the
clock. "Great now I don't have time for breakfast. Thanks a lot Lady
Pluto." He headed out the door and made his way toward school.

**
At that moment, Pluto was getting out of her own bed. She
looked at her surroundings and sighed. She had never really liked her
quarters in the Royal Moon Palace. They were always so dark and gloomy.
She had to keep up appearances, though. She had to make Queen Serenity
believe that she was under her sway. It was hard, most of the time, but
she managed, somehow. Knowing that she couldn't stay in bed all day,
she slowly got up and pulled on her robe. She opened her bedroom door
only to stop after a single step. "What in the..?"

Keikan looked up from where he was sitting. He was dressed in a
solid black shirt, a black doublet, black pants, and his black gloves.
She couldn't see them, but she was sure that he had his black boots on
as well. The only color once more was his white sword hilt and his
green eyes. She came back to reality as he raised an eyebrow at her.
"Are you alright, Lady Pluto?"

"I'm sorry, Captain, I wasn't paying attention. What did you
say?" She smiled slightly at the look of discuss that came across his
face as she used his newly acquired title.

"I said that the Queen has requested us for breakfast in a half
an hour. Would you like me to make excuse for you not coming, or would
you prefer to join us?"

Setsuna sighed as she new what would happen if she refused.
"I'll be joining you, of course. Give me fifteen minutes to freshen
up." She turned and headed into the bathroom for a quick shower and to
get dressed. As the water ran over her skin, Pluto shook her head in
disappointment of herself. (I should have known that Keikan would be
here. I wonder if he got any sleep last night. He doesn't tend to be
one to trust others. He probably spent all night watching my door to
make sure no one hurt me.) She turned the water off and dried herself
with a quick heat spell. After pulling on one of her royal gowns, she
left the room and approached Keikan. "Shall we go?" Keikan took her arm
and the two left for breakfast. (I wonder how Ranma's doing?)

*
"I am Ranma Saotome. It is a pleasure to meet you all." Ranma
gave a bow to his class and tried to ignore the whispers of the girls.
He had more important things to do while on Saturn then get involved
with a girl. His eyes swept over the class and across the windows, of
which there were too many for his taste. He headed toward the seat that
he had barely heard the teacher assign him to and sat down. With his
mind still going through the different ways that he could get an
assassin team into the school undetected he started answering the
teacher's questions. He wasn't about to play the part of a dumb jock.
After about a half-hour of this he finally got annoyed enough to stop
the process. "Sensei, if your not going to be doing anything relevant
for today besides try to grill me on stuff I learned years ago, then
why don't you let the rest of the class leave. I'm sure they wouldn't
mind." The rest of the class nodded vigorously to no avail.

"Forgive me class, I seemed to have gotten carried away. Turn
your books to page 189 and answer the questions on pages 197 and 198."
And so the class continued uneventful. In fact nothing exciting
happened until the fourth class of the day, self-defense. All people
of Saturn were to be part of the military, at least reserves. So
starting in high school a class of self-defense was taught for one
semester. After that everyone would go to the military academy for
one year and then choose to stay in the active military or enter the
reserves. Now Ranma was being forced to listen to one of those reserve
officers talk about how to launch into an assault bare handed, and
getting it all wrong.

When the teacher was finally done and asked for questions Ranma
raised his hand. "Yes, Saotome?"

"You don't actually expect that to work, do you? I mean, I
could've stop that on your first change through when I was thirteen."

The teacher didn't like having one of his students talk back to
him. After all these kids hadn't had any true training yet, and they
all thought they knew what they were talking about. "Do you want to
prove that, Saotome? You're more than welcome to try." Ranma just gave
him a slight smile and stood up.

It wasn't a fair fight. In fact, you couldn't even say that it
was a fair slaughter. On the teacher's first punch, Ranma slid around
him and gave a jab to the man's elbow, causing it to lock in place. A
knee followed that to the gut and an elbow smash to the head. The
teacher was out in less than three seconds. Ranma ignored the surprised
looks of his classmates and headed for the shower muttering under his
breath.. "God, a bet Keikan is having a better time than this. I knew
it would be bad, but this is ridiculous."

**
Keikan calmly sat outside the dressing room of the princess of
the moon kingdom. To everyone who might have walked by (her mother and
a couple of the Senshi) he appeared to be a calm mask of steel and ice.
Inside, though...

(DOES THE TORTURE EVER END!!!! I've been here for the past two
hours just so she can get ready to go to some damned sermon by Mars!
This is ridiculous! I've never been so insulted in my life. Maybe I
should just say screw it to the time stream and kill the little brat
now! It'll save me a whole lot of pain, that's for sure!)

Finally, after what seemed like ages, the Princess came out.
She was dressed in what seemed to be a nightgown along with a thin
tiara. When she asked Keikan how she looked he just shrugged.

"Come on, how do I look? I want to know what you think!" She
spun around for him.

Keikan just shrugged again. "I am not here o advise you on
fashion, I'm here to protect you. If you want to know how you look
then ask one of your friends."

"You're no fun! Well, if your going to be that way, then come
along. I don't want to be late for the sermon." A hungry look entered
her eyes. Keikan took quick note of it and began to go over what it
could be. Pluto never told him what happened at one of Mars's sermons,
just that it would be bad. If she said something would be bad he made
sure to listen. He followed Princess Serenity out the door and towards
the Church of Mars.

As the two approached the building an uneasy feeling began to settle
over him. He couldn't tell whether it was from the Church or from the
Princess. Both of them seemed to be radiating ungodly amounts of
negative energy. He began to look around for demon gateways to begin
popping up because of it all. He couldn't even comprehend how such
vast amounts of evil could be totally ignored by the general populace.
Behind his mask he grimaced as he realized how sheltered an upbringing
Setsuna had given him and Ranma. They may have killed in cold blood,
fought in battles were the losers were eaten, and betray those who had
trusted them for he greater good, but this was insane. As he stepped
through the doorway of the temple he almost gagged on the sheer amount
of evil the perpetrated everything. (When I get out of here, I'm going
to have to give Ranma a report on all this. Everything is worse than
what Setsuna told us. He's going to be relieved that we're on the
right side. After that ball yesterday, neither of us was truly sure.)
Keikan took a position along the back wall of the church and watched as
the Senshi of Mars strode in with an unearthly grace to begin her
sermon.

**

Ranma smiled slightly as the girl shyly sat down next to him.
Since the self-defense class most people had been avoiding him. They
didn't really want to know what could make some one so young such a
formidable fighter. The news of his quick (and painful) defeat of the
instructor spread like fire through the building. The man had been an
unquestionable bully, even if he did get results. Since most people
had taken to leaving him alone he had decided to enjoy his lunch under
a cherry tree that was along side the building. The transplanted tree
had an unusual tint in its flowers thanks to the cloud cover above.
In all, Ranma thought it made its looks more exotic rather then detach
from the beauty. (Kinda like this girl. Interesting eyes, haven't
seen golden before. Almost like a cat's, now that I think about it.)
He decided rather quickly that a silent lunch would be pretty boring
and so decided to strike up a conversation. "Hello there, beautiful,
I'm Ranma. You are?"

Her eyes widened with surprise at his words. She hadn't
expected him to acknowledge her presence much less start a conversation
with her. It took her a few moments to process the question he had
asked.

Ranma, for his part, just sat there and gave her a smile that almost
made her heart stop. Amusement ran through him as his Ki readings told
him of her increased heart rate and breathing. He forgot how much fun
it was to play such games with the opposite sex. They always thought
that they were the ones in charge, but all you had to do was look at
them the right way and it would send there minds into a null zone. He
leaned forward slightly as though he was hanging on the breath of her
response.

The attention she was getting just made the girl more nervous but
eventually she managed to stutter out a name. "S-S-S-Salina."

"That's quite a beautiful name, Salina, though it hardly does you
justice." Ranma smiled a bit more as he watched a rosy blush come
across her face. "So, Salina, where are you from? Your name doesn't
really sound Saturnine."

"Well, m-my father was from the Moon, originally. Where are
you from, if you don't mind, that is."

Ranma let his eyes bore into hers for a moment before he
answered. While Salina blushed as some not too clean thoughts entered
her mind, Ranma struggled to remember what he had read this morning.
He didn't want to start giving out conflicting stories. "Well, Salina,
I'm from Pluto. My father was a Vise-Count in Lady Pluto's court
before he made some mistakes with my life. Mother wanted to help me
out of them, so she got me transferred here a few days ago. According
to her, I now have my father's title. Not much good, but its nice to
know that I've a steady income." (Hmm, maybe I said too much. I'm
sure that the story I just told will get around in the rumor mill.)
He looked at her surprised face as she stared at him. While it wasn't
the first time he had been stared at by some girls, it was the first
time he saw such awe in one's face. "What's the matter? Are you
alright?"

"Do you really know the Lady Pluto? Everyone says that she's
so secretive."

(So that's what this is about) "I've only met her once that I
can recall, and that was after the problems my father created. She
said she wanted to know how I felt about everything. I am good friends
with one of her higher placed members of court, though. He said he'd
come visit me at some point, so if you want I can introduce you to him.
He says he knows her quite well. I'm sure he wouldn't mind if you
asked him some questions, Salina."

Salina blushed some more at that. It was hard for her to get
people to talk to her. Everyone at the school knew how her family was,
and they all thought that the curse led to her as well. She struggled
to fight with the pain of being alone everyday. When your younger
sister is the Senshi of destruction it tends to cloud peoples judgement
of you. She had so much more that she wanted to ask, but then the bell
rang signaling the end of lunch.

Ranma calmly got up and gave her a short wave before heading into the
building. (She looked familiar. Maybe one of the Royal Family. I
think it would be good to get a friendship going with her. It could
give me more open access to the palace.) He sighed as he headed toward
his next class. It would be a long day for him, and an even longer
night. If Salina was whom he thought then that would mean the Royal
Family of Saturn was back from their visit to the Moon. That in itself
would mean his job had just started. For now, though, he had to get to
class.

**

Keikan splashed more cold water onto his face and looked up at
the mirror. His eyes traced the long scar that was visible now that he
was not wearing a shirt. It started at the bottom of his ribcage under
his left lung and came up almost to his heart. Had Ranma been a tenth
of a second late to his side that would have been the end of him. He
was lucky in that one fight. He was wishing that his luck would have
just held out. He had the feeling that he was going to learn a lot of
bad things about people while he served Serenity. Keikan closed his
eyes and once again splashed cold water onto his face. Looking up and
into his own eyes he sagged with a weariness that shouldn't have been
there. He stared into his own green eyes and as he looked into the
black centers he seemed to be transported back to the early evening.

He could smell the blood again, and the musk odor coming from
the temple. He closed his eyes trying to block the images that were
appearing to no avail. It didn't help him any. He could still see
Princess Serenity, the girl who had been asking him about her dress but
hours before, on the ground lapping up the red blood like a dog getting
its water from the floor. He watched in his mind's eye as she raised
her lips to the flow coming off of the table allowing it to gather in
her mouth and run down her throat. He stared in shock as he saw her
once more covered in the red life of the poor victim embrace the
priestess of Mars like a lover. Keikan felt the pain enter his body as
he realized that he had no ability to stop the atrocity that had taken
place. Collapsing to the floor he felt tears run down his cheeks as
the pain and disgust he felt over powered him. And he felt gentle arms
encircle him and heard a soft voice whisper to him that everything
would be all right.

Keikan turned and buried his face into the shoulder of Setsuna.
He felt that sobs wrack his body and the shivers run down his spine.
He had known that the Senshi were bad, but for them to be so horrible,
it was beyond his grasp. And as he cried, his mind struggled. It
tried to come to grips with the fact that Setsuna had known such things
were happening for years, and that she had to stand by and watch, not
able to do anything. Keikan came to grips that Setsuna was a lot
stronger than he thought he could ever be.

For her part, Setsuna sat there on the floor with Keikan. She
just held him, and whispered soft words of understanding. Her own
heart filled with grief with what had happened. She had never seen it
so bad as this, before. The sermons of Mars were always evil, and
always brought pain to her, but they had never been like this. She was
almost considering speeding up the timetable. There was a way to do
it, but she wasn't sure that she was ready to go that far quite yet.
She felt Keikan start to pull away from her and she let him go. He
turned to face her and they stayed like that for sometime, sitting on
the bathroom floor looking at each other. Finally the silence got too
much and she decided to break it. "Do you wish to talk about it? I
know it was bad, worse than any I had ever been witness to. I'm here
for you, Keikan."

He sighed and shook his head. "I do, Setsuna, but not with
you. I'm going to send Ranma a message and let him know just what
happened here. He needs to know how bad everything really is. We've
speculated, you know. About what could be so bad that would cause you
to take us in. This was far beyond anything we came up with, though."
He slowly got up and offered her his hand. Graciously she took it,
and looked him in the eyes.

The pain was still there, she could tell. It was being
covered up, though. Already his tear-streaked face was a mask of
determination. She smiled and then started to giggle at the contrast
of his emotions. When he raised an eyebrow in question all she could
do was point at his face. Glancing in the mirror he saw what he looked
like and he too began to laugh. Finally she had gotten it out of her
system and switched back to a more serious attitude. "Get cleaned up
and dressed. Dinner is only around a half an hour away. We do not
want to be late. And wear your good clothes, there's another ball
tonight. Some Earth ambassador has come to pay his respects before
going on to Venus." After he nodded she left the bathroom to wait for
another night of pointless parties to begin.

**
Ranma sighed as he shut the door to his apartment. School had
actually been a challenge for him during the second have of the day.
He may have had incredible amounts of knowledge in most of the courses,
but when it came to the laws and regulations of planatary treaties he
couldn't keep awake long enough to learn it. So he had one course
where he would learn something. Well, two courses if he wanted to
count the computer training class. He had been as indifferent to the
computers as he was to treaties. Keikan usually handled setting up
their missions, so he never worried about it. It never occurred to him
that they would get split up. (I should have paid attention to Setsuna
after all.) He glanced at his terminal and blinked at the message left
on it. The black bird hates the fire. "So, problems with Mars, huh.
Can't wait to hear about it." Ranma moved to his bedroom and opened
his closet. He removed the jamming equipment and the
encryption/decryption device. After setting them up and starting them
he got the message. It was rather long, which was unusual for Keikan.
He usually got right to the point.

Ranma,
Things are a lot worse than we think. I'm sorry for
laying this burden on you, but I need to share this
with someone who understands, and Setsuna already knows
it. This is going to be hard, and I hate leaving you
with my demons to cope with, too. Anyway, I had to
accompany Princess Serenity to a sermon led by Lady
Mars today. It was unlike anything I had ever felt.
The first thought that came to my mind was the
overpowering stench of evil in the place. The temple
just reeked of it. Then Mars came in wearing black
robes. That caught my eye first, but soon to follow
was the unearthly way she moved. It was a grace I had
never witnessed in her before, almost like she was
floating. When she reached the alter, she spoke some
words in a language I didn't understand. Then she
dropped her robe. She had nothing on undernieth, and
I mean NOTHING. I was in the back of the place, but I
was sure that she didn't have a hair on her body except
for her head. There was nothing appealing about it
though, in fact it made me frightened about what was
going on.

Ranma blinked a few times. (This actually made Keikan
frightened. What the hell happened in there.)

She said some more words and a door in the back opened
up. Out of it came two more women, also without
clothing. Between them they carried a child no more
than nine or ten years old. It was a girl (her cries
allowed me to make that notice). They strapped her to
the alter. Mars said a few more words in that strange
language, and then tore the poor child's clothes off.
After that one of the naked cohorts handed her a large,
curved knife. It was then that I realized what was
happening.

"A sacrifice. That poor child. Those bastards! They killed
that poor child."

After her heart was cut out and tossed onto the fire,
the truly disgusting things began to happen. Mars
cupped her hands and drove them into the whole in the
corpse's chest. She brought forth the red blood and
drank it down. She did it twice more. Then I had '
noticed that the others in the temple were ...
'entertaining' themselves if you know what I mean.
All but the Princess. She was just as naked as Mars
and was with her by the corpse. Princess Serenity
would lick what ever blood was on Mars's body off of
her. When there was no more left she began to drink
the fallen blood off of the floor. When she ran out
of that she moved to what was on the table. While her
mouth was still filled with blood she embraced Mars
like a lover. Then they... no, I don't want to talk
about it. I'm sure that you get the picture. The
worst part of all, Ranma, was that I couldn't do
anything about it. If I took any action our whole
purpose would have been thwarted. Setsuna told me
that this was the worst that she had ever seen it at.
She was watching from the Gates. I'm sorry that I had
to tell you all this, but you needed to know. Watch
Saturn carefully. If she's fallen too we'll be in
deep trouble. Keep safe, my brother.
Keikan

Ranma leaned back in his chair and sighed. He had never thought
it could be anything that bad. Pluto had told them that things were
dark in the Kingdom, but she never mentioned such evil to them. He
would definitely have to keep an eye on Saturn, though. He couldn't
let someone as powerful as her to join the Senshi in their evil. If it
came down to it, he might have to kill Karinna. That wasn't something
that he looked forward too, but it wasn't as though he had a choice.
Ranma knew his job, and as he glanced at his clock, he realized it was
time for him to go to work.

It had taken him almost two hours to get through the message
Keikan had sent and to come to grips with his own feelings about it.
Even as he moved to his bedroom Ranma struggled to get his mind in
order. (First priority is to scout the palace. I need to know if
anything wrong is happening in there. Second is to locate Saturn's
room. When I know where she is I'll be able to keep a close watch on
her.) He finished sliding his black armor into place and watched as it
slid back into his skin. He then sent the mental command to have his
arm guards form and then had them join his armor. Still gazing at the
mirror, Ranma ran his hand through his hair getting it back into shape.
Looking over his casual clothes, he nodded once and headed for the
door. (First dinner, the work. Guess I'll be wearing my armor from
now on, too. I was almost use to not having it, too.)

**

Keikan gazed into the mirror as he waited to be announced. Once
more Keikan was dressed in his total black dress clothes. His black
hair was still unruly, and still had that strange sense of style, as
though it would take hours for it to get that way, but for him it was
natural. His face no longer bore any of the distress that it had
earlier in the evening. His emerald eyes had pierced the soul of more
than one person who had passed him that night, and he never let an
emotion cross his face. He was as calm and cool as the woman next to
him was.

Setsuna was dressed in a dark green evening gown that portrayed a
modest cut. It wasn't her style to be daring in the first place, but
it didn't matter. The cut somehow made her more attractive than the
women who were flaunting their bodies. Her dark green hair was still
in its normal straight cut, but brought about a sense of regality to
her that only the Queen herself possessed. Her face was impassive and
held even less emotion than Keikan. Her red eyes gazed over everything
as if she was watching the stream of time flow by every person. There
was no one who would meet her gaze in the entire palace.

Well, no one except Keikan. Right now he was looking in her eyes,
and he was worried. There were times when he would see her and wonder
whether she saw everything as time effected it. Did she see everyone
dead and the buildings destroyed, or was there a dark shadow that held
her gaze and refused to let go? He never could tell what was there,
but the sadness he saw at times was almost too much to bare. He owed
her his life, and he wasn't about to forget that.

Both snapped back to reality when the door to the ballroom opened
up and a guard stepped out. "If you two are ready, we will announce
you, now." Pluto nodded slowly and the guard headed back into the
room.

Keikan took Setsuna's arm and slowly walked with her to the door.
As they approached it, Setsuna leaned up so she could whisper in
Keikan's ear. "How would you like a little revenge on Princess Serenity
and Sailor Mars?" At his shocked expression she actually smiled
slightly. "Prince Endymion is here and he and the Princess are sure to
try to get the spotlight. How would you feel to steal it from them?
I know it's petty, but its all we can do right now. Besides, I haven't
danced at a ball in years." Keikan's only response was a slight smile.

**

"RYUUJIN SHUURAI!" The bright lightning tore from Ranma's open
hand slamming into one of the dark men. He didn't know who they were,
but it didn't really matter. They weren't supposed to be in the palace
so he was going to eliminate them. He had been approaching the palace
cautiously when he heard sudden sounds of fighting. After summoning
his armor to its full covering he slid through the shadows and on to
the palace grounds. What he saw surprised him. A dozen black garbed
figures were attacking the palace. The Royal Saturn Guards had tried
to stop them, but they all fell within the first five minutes. Ranma's
orders were to protect Sailor Saturn, so he wasn't about to let these
people get into the palace. His opening attack blew the chest out of
one of them. The other 11 turned to face their new foe.

"TENCHI YOUGEKI!" A bright aurora of blue and red energy
surrounded Ranma as he moved into the battle. His speed was like
nothing ever seen before. In the first minute of the fight three more
of the enemies fell to him dead. Huffing from the drain, Ranma slowly
turned to face his opponents again. He never expected them to be as
good as they were. If he had known he wouldn't have used the Heaven
and Earth Assault, it was too draining on the body. HE had to kill
them all before Saturn showed up. He was sure that she was their
target, and the Senshi of Destruction would never stand a chance
against them. They were just too fast. That was when he heard a voice
that he dreaded since the fight began.

"Stop right there. You have caused much damage to the Royal
Palace. Now you will face me, Sailor Saturn!" Ranma glanced up at the
roof and saw the girl in the purple miniskirt. Knowing he didn't have
much time to get the work done, he gathered in all of his remaining
strength. He quickly wove a return spell underneath himself to open
when he hit it. Then he faced the attackers once more.

They were saying something, what he couldn't tell. The pounding
in his head from the power he was containing was drowning everything
else out. Just as he had gathered in the last of his reserves the
figures made to jump at the youngest of the Senshi. They were too
late. "KUROI FENIKKUSU TOMURAI NEGAIGOTO!!!!!!!" A gigantic column of
black flames erupted under the black assassins. They made no cries as
they were incinerated since it happened to fast for them to know. The
flames abated and Ranma collapsed, only to disappear as he hit the
ground.

**

Setsuna sighed slightly as she and Keikan glided across the floor
of the ballroom. It had been a long time since she had had someone who
she could dance with. Most people were either intimidated to dance
with someone who could see the future, or she couldn't trust them
enough to let them get so close to her. In fact the last time she had
danced while at the Moon Palace had been before she had met Ranma or
Keikan. (Has it been so long? I can hardly remember that time. And
Nephrite was hardly the dancer that Keikan is.)

The pair was currently the center of attention at the ball. The
dance that Keikan was leading her through took her by surprise. It was
a deceptively simple dance, and yet it set the heart racing. There
were moments in it that seemed like pauses for a fraction of a second,
but for those dancing it seemed like hours. Setsuna couldn't remember
the last time that such emotions had run through her. She had
suppressed any attractions that she had for the opposite sex years ago,
when she had learned just what the other Senshi were like.

It had been her predecessor that had shown her the truth. It
turned out that the Former Sailor Pluto had a past time that Setsuna
never would have imagined. She took an unnatural delight in torturing
teenage boys. She would seduce them into joining her in her room and
then proceed to take some of the ... more important parts from them. She
had even kept a collection of all the "trophies" that she had gotten.
It had been her first time taking her apprentice to such an evening.
Unfortunately she hadn't broken Setsuna as much as she had thought.
Setsuna watched what happened, and then had slipped a knife into the
elder's back. She had been sure that she was going to be executed for
it, when Serenity laughed the problem off. She had then been informed
that she was the youngest at that time to do such a thing and was then
dismissed from the court.

There was another slight pause in the dance and her breath
caught. Her face was no more that an inch from Keikan's. She could
see his emerald green eyes staring deeply into her own. Her heart
started to pound as thoughts of what could happen raced through her
mind. Another portion, the one that normally controlled her was
telling her to back away, to ignore the temptation since it would only
interfere with the mission. The part that was in control right now,
however, was sending a different message entirely. It was telling her
to stop being the Guardian of Time. It was informing her that now was
not the time to be refusing her inner most feelings. That it was time
for her to put aside the horror that she had witnessed so long ago and
to start being what she was always meant to be: a woman.

And then the moment was over. The dance had started again.
Setsuna sighed slightly once more at the lost opportunity to let some
feelings show. No matter what happened something would occur that
would make her argue over whether to express her feelings or not. Age
really had no meaning to her. It also had no meaning to her two
Knights. One of the gifts bestowed in the Gates of time had been an
enhanced life force. One that would last thousands of years. The
eight or nine years that separated her from the two seemed too small
to even care about. It had take her time to start to notice the two,
but as they grew from that original 13 years of age, she came to
realize that neither had been a child for some years. Her mind
wondered were the time had passed when she realized that they were
adults to be trusted.

As all these thought ran through her mind she forgot about the
petty revenge that she and Keikan were taking against Princess Serenity.
Only the dance had become important to her, the reason for it had
ceased to matter. It did have the desired effect, however. Princess
Serenity was filled with fury as she tried to recapture the attention
of the crowed. She had a deep craving for the spotlight, and nothing
she and Endymion had danced could get anyone's attention. This is why
she was glad when a messenger came in to speak with her mother. The
ball was unceremoniously ended early, and the Senshi were required to
meet with the Queen in private.

**

Ranma's eyes slowly opened. His gaze took in the ceiling of his
apartment with a critical gaze. He tried to move but found that he had
little to no control over his own limbs. Thinking back to the fight
he had been in, he came to two conclusions. The first was that he
needed to watch over Saturn a lot more carefully, for a lot more time.
If the people were going to be attacking the palace, he had to be there
as much as possible. It wouldn't do to have someone sneak in and slit
her throat when he was supposed to be guarding her. His second
conclusion was that he did some massive overkill, and now he was
paying for it. Using the Tenchi Yougeki in the battle was a mistake.
He didn't need the increase of power to win the fight. It would have
taken him longer, but he would have still won. He also never should
have called upon the Kuroi Fenikkusu Tomurai Negaigoto. He was now so
weak that it would be days before he could fight again with any
effectiveness.

"This is just wonderful." He stopped talking out loud after
that, though. The pain that coursed through his jaw was nothing
compared to the headache that surrounded his mind. Gathering his
little strength he moved his hands underneath himself and slowly began
to make his way toward the table in the middle of the main room. He
had still not gotten any furniture besides a single table and a futon.
The prices on Saturn for anything wood were worse than those on the
moon. The price of the table alone almost took half of his money
allotment for the month. After over an hour of puling himself along
the floor he finally made it to his objective. With his last strength
he reached up to the table and brought his hand down upon a small
rectangular device. He let his fingers trace over the device until
they came across the smallest button on it. The button was pushed
down rapidly twice just before Ranma slipped into the blackness once
more.

**

Keikan glanced down at the buzzing in his right wrist. The black
gem imbedded in his armor began to pulse and vibrate as it received a
signal from far away. Being stuck in the main council room with the
Queen, however, kept him from doing anything about it. Of course, the
way the discussion was going, he had a fairly good idea just why that
specific signal was going off. (Ranma, I hope you're okay. I can't do
anything to help you until I get out of here.) He brought his
attention back to the Queen just as she looked up from some documents.

Queen Serenity looked over the people gathered before her. When
her eyes came to Keikan he knew that something bad had happened,
and something even worse was going to. His body tensed in
response to his worries. His eyes shifted around the room to see
everyone else who was in it. While it was only the Inner Senshi
it was still more power than he wanted to take head on. When he
heard his name spoken his attention shifted back to the Queen.
"Captain Keikan, you will accompany Jupiter, Mercury, and Pluto
while they escort my daughter on a tour of the system. The tour
will go from Mercury to Saturn with the stop in this sector being
Earth. You will NOT leave her at anytime during the tour. When
she sleeps you will be inside her bedroom. When she showers you
will be immediately outside the door if there are no windows. If
there are windows to the bathroom you will be inside the bathroom
with her. The Senshi will be staying on there own worlds when
they reach them, so you and Pluto will remain a constant in her
time away. Do you understand your mission?"

"Yes my Queen, I understand completely." (My god, she wants me
that close to her. What the hell is going on with this. I can't
believe that any parent would want to put their child in a position
like that. Can't contradict orders, though. I need to get to Ranma
too. This just keeps going from bad to worse.) After a few more
directions such as scheduled leaving times the Queen dismissed the
group.

Keikan quietly followed Setsuna to their rooms at the very end of
what had become known as Senshi Hall. It was here that all of the
Senshi had their rooms inside the Moon Palace. Keikan opened the door
to Pluto's chamber and waited for her to enter before following. He
headed toward the kitchenette to prepare the two a small snack to eat
while they discussed the events of the day and what had happened in
the meeting.

Setsuna, in the meantime, headed into her bedroom to change out of the
gown she was in. She slid out of the beautiful green dress and laid
it across her large bed. As she moved toward her closet she stopped
in front of a large mirror built into the wall. Starting at the top
of her hair, her eyes traced over her beautiful features until they
reached a point just below the center of her breasts.

It was there that the bruises started. From that point until just
below her waistline, Setsuna's body was a mass of bruises and welts.
She had incurred the wrath of her queen by not informing her of the
two knights she had trained. The other Senshi participated
enthusiastically in the beating of their fellow Senshi. They took
pleasure in the pain that they had caused her, pleasure and excitement.
All of the Senshi who stood with the Queen enjoyed inflicting pain and
suffering upon anyone. Setsuna's eyes filled with tears as she
recalled the looks of joy that flooded their eyes as they struck her
repeatedly. She gently traced one of the larger welts. This
particular welt had been caused by Sailor Venus's Love Me Chain. As
her fingertips touched a particularly sensitive spot she gasped in
pain. Her eyes went to the door and watched intently for a moment.
When no one knocked on it, she relaxed. Ranma and Keikan were extremely
protective of her and if Keikan ever got a look at the mass of bruises
on her body she doubted anything could stop him from taking revenge.

A slightly lost look came into her eyes as she realized that she had
trained the two far more than she should have. Their strength was
beyond that of any save the Queen. And if both of them got involved
in the fight, Setsuna doubted that even Queen Serenity could hope to
come out of the fight alive. The Ginzuishou might be powerful enough
to revive planets, but it took a long time to gather enough energy.
By the time Serenity had enough to kill the two, she would already be
dead.

Setsuna finally tore her gaze away from the mirror. The pain of
looking at her wounds was too great for her to bear much longer. She
headed over to her closet and removed a simple dark green dress from
it. Pulling it over her head she headed toward the door, stopping
only to make sure none of the bruises could be seen. Satisfied with
the look, Setsuna headed out the door and made her way to the dining
room table.

Keikan was just laying out some dishes for the simple soup he had
prepared for them to eat. At her raised eyebrow he spoke. "We've got
a problem. The Queen contacted me and wanted to inform us that we'll
be leaving in two hours. That means I can't go help Ranma, and we're
going to miss breakfast. I'm afraid this soup is all I could put
together in time."

Setsuna looked down and the simple peasant meal and sighed. It was
the same thing he always made. That was most likely due to the fact
that it was the only thing he could make that was truly good. She did
get tired of it after a while, though. "Its fine, Keikan. I know you
did your best, but you are no cook. Next time call the palace kitchen
to send something up." He laughed sheepishly and nodded in agreement.

*

Ranma's eyes opened to the knocking on the door. He glanced down
at himself to see that he was still in his armor. After a moment of
concentration, the armor flowed back into his skin. He slowly pulled
himself up so that he was sitting on the table. "Come on in. Its
unlocked, I think!" The door slowly, almost nervously, opened. In
walked a girl with long black hair. Ranma stared at her trying to place
were he knew her from. He just couldn't bring up any type of
connection. When she looked at him, though, her golden eyes gave her
away. He gave the girl a small smile. "Hello Salina, what brings you
to my humble home?"

Salina walked over towards him, but stopped about three or four
yards away. She spoke in a very quiet voice. "I was worried about
you."

Ranma blinked a couple of times at that. "Why were you worried
about me?"

"Well, you haven't been to school in three days and..."

"THREE DAYS!!!!"

"Um, yes. No one knew where you were. I thought I'd come by and
see if you were home. You said that you had some problem and, well,
I..." Salina trailed off and began to blush.

Ranma smiled and stood up. Well, at least he tried to stand up.
His legs gave out on him and he fell forward, right onto Salina. A loud
groan escaped his lips as he blacked out.

*

There was blackness. Nothing but an empty void before him. And
then there was nothing but light. Ranma slowly realized tat he was
staring at the ceiling of his apartment on Saturn. After blinking a
few times he slowly sat up and gritted his teeth against the pain.
"Great, how long was I out this time? And where the HELL IS Keikan!!!"

"Who's Keikan?"

Ranma's head spun at the sound of the female voice. He got more
angry at himself since he never even sensed her presence. Either she
was good at hiding it, or he was still way too out of it. (Probably
the second.) "Keikan is a good friend of mine, Salina. I called him
the day I go sick and he said he'd be here in two days. I'm just
wondering what went wrong that he couldn't come. That's all."

Salina gave him a smile. Ranma was taken aback at the quiet
beauty behind it. It made him wonder why no one else had seen it
before. "You do have a few messages saved on your terminal. Do you
want me to read them to you?"

"No that's okay. Keikan tends not to like people knowing just what
it is he's doing. I'll read them later. How long was I out this time?"

"Only two days this time. Are you feeling okay now?"

Ranma slowly stood up and began to stretch. Realizing that his
shirt hadn't been changed in five days he pulled it off and tossed it
in a corner. Sighing with relief he began to stretch all of the kinks
out of his joints and muscles.

Salina's eyes widened at the site of Ranma's bare chest. A rather
deep blush rose to her face as she watched Ranma's muscles ripple as he
stretched. Not wanting him to see her in such a condition, Salina
rushed from the room. Ranma stopped to stare at her for a few moments
before shaking his head. Opening his closet, Ranma grabbed one of his
nicer outfits and headed for the shower.

*

Ranma sighed as he watched Salina leave. He had to admit she was a
great cook. And had a good personality too. Not to mention a quiet
beauty that most would over look. He felt himself beginning to warm up
to her. It wasn't every day (more like never) that he met a girl that
he was comfortable with. Oh sure he new all the tricks to seduce them,
and make them fall for him, but it was rare that he came across one
that he liked to be with without some other motive present. Keikan was
the same way, he knew. But with the type of life they lived it was
hard for them to give any girl a small window into their hearts.
"Speaking of Keikan, lets see why he isn't here."

Ranma walked over to the terminal and brought up his mail program.
He began running the decryption software and activated the shielding
system to keep out any unwanted 'guests.' There were three messages
from his friend. 'Silver is a Pain', 'Water is Trouble', and 'Love
Just Plain Sucks'. Ranma sighed at the additional bad news. He opened
the first one.

Ranma, got to make this quick. The Queen is sending me on
some damn escort duty forThe princess. We're going to
Mercury and From there out till Neptune. Will be on
Saturn in three weeks Moon Time. Leaving Now. See you
then. Keikan.

Ranma just sighed. Three weeks moon time. That meant Keikan would
be on Saturn at the end of the week. Better late then never. In most
cases anyway. He opened the second message.

You're never gonna believe this, Ranma. Mercury has turned
an entire science Instalation into her own private zoo.
She's doing genetic manipulation here. Real nasty stuff
too. These things were Once human, Ranma, and now... they
Remind me of those demons we trashed That invaded Asteroid
462. Flesh melting Off the bone only to reform, eyes
hanging Out of the socket but still able to see. Pieces
of bone sticking out of the skin. They've gone cannibal,
too. They eat each Other regularly. Mercury only feeds
them Once a week. I watched as what I think Was once a
woman get her throat torn out And others begin to rip
limbs off only To eat them in the way you go through a
Chicken leg. It wasn't pretty. And all She does is take
notes, smile, and nod. Then I learned something worse.
She is Planning on introducing the chemicals That caused
these manipulations in to A group of springs on earth.
She wants To find out how this type of shit effects A
society. It's hard to stand this, I tell You. Most of
these things will gladly Join Beryl. Mercury is creating
an army That's going to want to destroy her. I Wish them
luck. Keikan.

Ranma read the message twice. "So Mercury wants to manipulate
life, huh. I'll be glad when her's is ended. It's going to make life
in general easier to bare. Well, lets find out the problems with Venus.
Man this is depressing."

I hate this. All I ever get to send you Is bad news.
Nothing I can do about It, though. Anyway, Venus is
teaching Our little princess the umm... adult Things in
life. I'm sure you get the drift. I'll admit that she
isn't that bad at it. Too bad my training is better than
the Potions she makes. That and my Purification spells.
She wasn't all that Pleased when I refused to become her
Willing love slave. Them's the breaks, Though. She
also makes some rather Mean poisons. Almost killed me
with A few of the more exotic stuff. Wish You had been
here. You're a lot better At this healing stuff than I
am. I'll be On Earth soon. From there is Jupiter (we're
skipping Mars as the Senshi is still on the Moon) and
then I'll see you on Saturn. Hang in there till then.
Keep the Senshi safe. Toams.

Ranma sat down against the wall and sighed. Nothing was good.
Absolutlly nothing that was going on with the Senshi had any bright
spots. And here he was, guarding the only one who hadn't fallen down a
black path. And to think that he was using the darkness to do it.
Well, considering that the Silence and the Void were brothers in a
sense, it didn't really seem all that out of place. Of course there
was no damned prophecy going with the Void. But then, no one even knew
that the Void was being tapped for power. Except for the three who
were using it, of course. Though Pluto didn't really use it all that
much, her access to Father Time was much more potent than the Void was.

Closing down the terminal, Ranma sighed and headed for the window.
If he was good enough to go to dinner with Salina, then he was good
enough to do his job. Summoning his armor, he watched as the world
shifted into thermal colors. It was much easier for him to see at night
like that. Hopping onto the balcony he headed for the rooftops and a
long night of watching a princess.

*

Ranma rolled over after the fifth time the loud buzz sounded
throughout his apartment. Gritting his teeth he raised one hand toward
the speaker that was built into the ceiling. Concentrating, he summoned
a small amount of the void into his body. "KOKUEI NAGAREBOSHI!" A
pure black ball of energy leapt from his palm to slam into the speaker.
The buzzing stopped instantly. He rolled over and sighed with
contentment. Fifteen seconds later a pounding began on his door.

As can be expected Ranma was pretty upset with this persistent
person. He reached the door and literally tore it out of the wall.
Since it was made of stuff that makes steel look like hot butter that
was an impressive feet. At least Salina thought so. Until she looked
at Ranma's dressed state. Or a better way to put it would be his
undressed state. Her face turned beat red and she started to babble
incoherently.

Ranma stared at her for a few minutes before looking down. When
he noticed his state, he just shrugged and headed toward a pile of
clothes on the floor. Grabbing a pair of his school pants, Ranma pulled
them on and took up a white shirt. "So what brings you hear this
morning Salina-chan?"

"Sc-sc-school."

Ranma glanced out the window at the rising sun. Judging by its
position Ranma realized that they were going to be late. Since he still
wasn't in top shape, especially after only two hours of sleep. Do to
his job of protecting Princess Karinna Ranma didn't make it home until
almost dawn. And then Salina just had to come by and get him for
school. He knew that their was a good reason to turn down her offer of
going out to dinner, but unfortunately his stomach decided to take
control of his brain. (Man, that happens way too often for my taste.)
Ranma threw on the shirt and jacket that were part of the school's
regulation dress and headed for the door. Salina was still blushing
deeply when he got there and had replaced the door on its track. After
waving his hand in front of her face a couple of times and getting no
response, he simply took her arm and led her toward school.

*

Ranma and Salina were walking home from school when Salina finally
brought up the question that Ranma was hoping for. "Ranma, do you know
who I am?"

"You're my friend, and a beautiful young woman, right?"

Salina blushed at the compliment. She had no idea why Ranma's
words could do this to her, but they did. She had been complimented
many times before, but none of them had ever seemed as sincere as when
Ranma said them. "That's not what I meant. Do you know who my family
is?"

Ranma sighed. "Yes, Salina, I do. You're a member of the royal
house, correct?"

"You do know? Then you know my Sister is.."

"Sailor Saturn, yes I know. As a member of the court I have to
know all important members of the Royal houses of all the planets. Or
at least that's what my mother always said." (God please let her buy
that please, please, please!)

"Your mother seems rather strange. But she also seems a lot
better than your father."

"Yeah, Oyaji is really rather, well, to put it bluntly, stupid.
I still can't believe all the problems he caused me. Um, Salina, why
did you bring this up?"

Salina blushed again. "Well, there is going to be a Royal ball
in two days and I was hoping that you would accompany me." Then in a
small voice, almost a whisper, "Please?"

Ranma looked at the girl and smiled. She was so kind and gentle,
how could he refuse her. "Of course I will, Salina, I'd be glad to."
The smile that came across her face lightened Ranma's heavy heart
immensely. He started to ponder whether he would be able to have a
life after the Great Fall, or if that too would be taken from him. And
more to the point, he wondered if this girl would be there to share it
with him.

*

Keikan stared out the window of the Star Cruiser. It was a luxury
ship for use by the Queen and her daughter. That being said, he was
currently in what could best be described as a cafeteria. It was for
those passengers who didn't have a high enough rank to eat with the
Royal family in the dining room. Keikan had more than enough rank to eat
in the dining room, he just hated the formality of it. Which was the
main reason that he was sitting where he was right now. The cafeteria
had an enormous viewing window so passengers could look out at the
stars. He was currently sitting at a table for two by himself and
gazing into the deepness of space.

As he watched the sea of stars float by, he could only think of
how much it seemed to resemble his mind. A blank sea of blackness
holding all of the nightmares and pains that he had received through out
his short life. Any type of kindness or hope was but a small speck of
light in the distance. Occasionally one of the specs would grow beyond
a small white mark, but it took a lot to bring that about. In fact,
there were currently only two people who had brought that small star
into a blazing sun, Ranma and Setsuna. Of course he never let the mark
blaze in public, but when he was alone with the two all barriers would
drop.

He raised his mug of coffee to his lips and savored the bitter
taste as it went down. He was glad that the ship he was on was an Earth
vessel. It meant that he could get a good strong cup of coffee. For
some reason all of the other plants drank only tea. It was just
something that he couldn't fathom. The tea did nothing for waking up in
the morning, like he was doing now. Or at least relative morning. It
was hard for him to tell on a spaceship.

Keikan turned his head toward the interior of the ship and looked
around. It seemed that this was a popular time to catch breakfast, as
it appeared that all of the tables had at least one person at them, most
of them more. Not seeing anything interesting happening around him, he
shifted his gaze back to the stars. As he looked through the glass, he
shifted his gaze. Instead of staring at the stars he watch the
reflection of the room play on the glass. He smiled as he watched a
couple of female crewmembers walk by chatting. It was that which he
was there to protect. The happiness and joy of the people were the most
important thing.

As he stared into the glass, the scene changed. Once again he saw
Sailor Mars cut out a young girl's heart. That image faded into a
pitiful creature locked in a cage on Mercury as that planet's Senshi
explained how slicing the genes she change a normal human into such a
monstrosity. Once more the image in the glass shifted and became Earth,
were a pair of villages water supply was contaminated by Mercury and all
of the people began to change. And then the scene shifted and once more
simply showed the reflection of the people in the cafeteria.

Folding his arms, Keikan rested his forehead on the table. The
images just wouldn't leave him alone. He tried to get rid of them, but
nothing seemed to be able to be done. Whenever he slept the nightmares
began, and when he woke up it was as though he had never bothered to
sleep. It finally reached the point where he had stopped sleeping. He
simply meditated at night. He was feeling a lot better than when he had
tried to sleep. A small sigh escaped his lips as the thoughts went past
his mind's eye again.

"Boy, you're looking down. What's wrong?"

Keikan raised his head to take in the girl who spoke to him. She
had reddish blonde hair going down a little past her shoulder blades.
Her eyes spoke of a general care to the world. Keikan, however, was
never one to share his thoughts to strangers. At least not in detail.
"Just remembering some stuff I wish I could forget. Nothing for you to
worry over."

"You don't want to talk about it, do you?"

"No."

"Don't let it pull you down, whatever it is. You've got to be
strong. See you around, maybe." The girl turned and headed out of the
room. Keikan followed her with his eyes until she was gone.

(Wonder what her name is? Oh well.) He turned his gaze back to
the stars.

*

Ranma looked over his image in thew mirror. He was dressed in his
solid black tuxedo. The last time he had worn it was at the ball on the
moon. Now he was dressed up for another ball. He wasn't too thrilled
about going, but it was his job. Sure he'd enjoy being with Salina but
he had to keep his eyes on the princess. This would be a good chance
for a quiet assassination, and he had to make sure nothing like that
happened. And he had to do it discretely too.

The last time he had this type of mission things got a little out
of hand. (Damn Keikan for screwing that one up! Couldn't he do a simple
thing like NOT throwing fireballs around in a crowed ballroom.) "Sigh...
It will be good to see him again, though. And Lady Pluto of course.
Hope that she hasn't been corrupted by Keikan too badly, though."

Glancing at the clock on the wall, Ranma saw that it was time for
him to leave. He had to make his grand entrance soon. After checking
his hair one last time he headed for the door making sure to lock it.
After he had broken it he was told that under no conditions was anything
in the apartment supposed to be damaged again. He was hoping that Keikan
would be able to fix the door buzzer, or at least knew someone who
could. Ranma really didn't want to have to explain how that had
happened. The door had been bad enough.

As Ranma left his apartment complex into the cool night, he
breathed in the air deeply. He was finally getting used to the heavy
air that was under Saturn's massive cloud cover. As he started a casual
walk toward the royal palace he gazed at the swirling clouds. While the
shifting reds and oranges was rather pretty, Ranma missed the stars.
He remembered long nights when he had been living on the streets of
Serenity's capital with Keikan. Back then the only constant in their
lives was the stars. They had spent many long evenings gazing into that
infinite void and questioning whether they would leave the Moon, see the
other planets up close, or just get a chance to move through that void.

Turning the last corner, Ranma walked to up to the main gate of
the palace. Approaching the pair of guards, Ranma removed the
invitation from his pocket. As he looked over the guards he noticed
their young age. (Great, they've got trainees guarding the front gate.
Talk about light security. If anyone attacks from the front these two
are as good as dead.) Shaking his head in disgust, Ranma handed the
nearest one the invitation. After a few moments of looking over the
card Ranma was waved through the gates.

As he entered the Palace he noticed two problems. The first was
that there wasn't a guard in site. After the relaxed guards at the
front he had hoped there would be at least something serious inside.
The second problem was that there didn't seem to be any servants around
to direct people to the ballroom. If Ranma didn't already know the
inside by hart after his many long nights of guarding he could have been
seriously lost. As it was he headed straight for the ballroom, hoping
that something interesting would happen (though not dangerous to the
Royal Family).

As he approached the doors to the ballroom he spied another two
guards who were on duty. That made a total of four who were actually
prepared for something. These two, like the others seemed to be
rookies. Neither had the hard edge of veteran solders, and neither were
in any sort of ready position. They both were leaning against the
doorframe and showed no sign of being anything more than ceremonial
fluff.

Ranma gave the two guards a polite nod as he stepped through the
doorway. The first thing that he did was to allow his eyes to sweep
over the room and mark the entrances and exits. Only a single door, but
the entire back wall was glass. That didn't exactly make Ranma feel
safe, but he didn't have much say on the matter. All he could really do
is keep a close watch on it and stay between his ward and the glass
wall.

Moving toward what appeared to be the largest crowed, Ranma began
putting names to faces. He didn't know much about the Saturn nobility
even after his time on the world. After all, he was never invited to
the general dances or the sessions of court. This was the first time
that he had openly walked anywhere on palace grounds. Nearing the large
group of people, Ranma spied a much smaller group with a rather large
breathing area around them. He gave a small smile at the way people
kept glancing at that small group. Well, group would be overstating
it. There were only two people in it.

Before Ranma could approach his old friend and his ruler, a small
figure in a purple dress. Salina sent a shy smile up to Ranma. "Hello
Ranma. Thank-you for coming." She then lowered her face to try and
hide the blush that was there.

Ranma put a pair of fingers under her chin and lifted it so she
could see his face. He then gave her the most killer smile that he
could come up with. "Thank-you for inviting me, Your Highness. It is a
pleasure to be here." Ranma's eyes quickly left her blushing face to
find Keikan and Pluto only to find the two gone. As he swept his gaze
over to the dance floor he found them on the edge, dancing a slow,
stately dance. After a moment of blinking in surprise, Ranma looked
back at Salina. "Would you like to dance, Salina? I'm sure that a new
song will be starting soon." After seeing her slight nod, Ranma led
her to the dance floor.

As a new song began, Ranma led the Princess to the floor. As the
next song began, He started to lead Salina into a dance that was
developed on Earth some time in the past. It was stately, very proper
for a Princess to dance, and most importantly it would end with the
pair next to Keikan and Setsuna. Ranma paid little attention to the
dance as he watched the large glass wall. A small spot on his head
began to itch. Something bad was going to happen, and he had to know
where and when.

The song came to an end and Ranma's head was turned straight
toward Keikan's. "Since when did you dance?"

Keikan released Pluto and turned toward his friend. "Since I got
stuck attending all of these Royal Balls. Let me tell you, I'd rather
be in those High School classes with you. At least then I wouldn't
have to sleep standing up."

Ranma laughed at that. "I doubt you'd sleep in class, Keikan. You
always did manage to stay awake, somehow."

"Practice, it all takes practice. Besides this way I can handle
your end of the load when you mess up." Keikan gave Ranma a grin.
"Besides, the way this pretty young lady is hanging on you, I think you
have been spending more time studying something other than your text
books. So are you going to introduce us?"

Ranma looked down at Salina to see that she was indeed hanging on
his arm, and she was blushing bright red. After giving Keikan a look
that would have killed a lesser person "This is Salina, Princess of
Saturn, and my date for the evening? Why don't you introduce
yourself?"

Keikan gave Salina a sweeping bow, "I am Keikan, Your Highness,
Knight of Pluto, Captain of the Planetary Knights, and Lord of the
Southern Reaches. Not that the Southern Reaches really has very much
to offer me, however. If I can remember correctly I own a total of
three sheep and a horse. Not impressive, which is why I spend most of
my time in the Royal Palace. I'm I correct, Lady Pluto?" Keikan smiled
at his green hair companion.

"You forgot the cow, but otherwise, yes, that about covers what
your family owns." Setsuna turned toward the princess. "I don't
believe that we've been introduced, Your Highness. I am Lady Pluto.
How is your father?"

After the introduction Salina just stood there with a gaze of
disbelief on her face. Her arms had released Ranma and now hung at her
side. After a few moments of silence Keikan quietly took Ranma's arm
and led him away from his stunned date. "I guess meeting with someone
who can see the future is quiet a shock huh?"

Ranma shook his head. "You don't know the half of it. The first
time we met she asked me if I knew the Lady, and when I offered to
introduce her she almost broke up. I think she feels like she's meeting
a legend or something."

The walk that the two young men had gone on led them out of the
ballroom and on to the balcony. Neither spoke as they stared up at the
shifting clouds of Saturn. After a few minutes the two turned around
with a like thought that the elder Princess of Saturn would have snapped
out of her trance. The itch on Ranma's head got a whole lot worse.

"YOU TWO! Who are you! What are you doing here!"

Ranma and Keikan shifted to face the scream. Before there eyes
was none other then the Senshi of Destruction, although she was
currently in a gown and not a fuku. Ranma gave a sigh of despair and
Keikan started to swear under his breath. The night had been going far
too well to last. Keikan stepped forward to try to talk their way out
of the situation when Ranma caught movement out of the corner of his
eye. "Keikan GET HER DOWN!"

Keikan never even bothered to look at what caught Ranma's
attention. He trusted him far more than that would allow. Diving
forward his body slammed into the Princess of Saturn knocking her to the
floor with his own body pressed on top. A flash of light lit her
shocked face followed by an explosion above them.

Ranma, meanwhile, had already called forth his armor and was
heading toward the point where the shot came from. Half way across the
lawn, an explosion caused him to halt and turn back towards the part.
The entire roof above Keikan and Karinna collapsed. Ranma swore as he
saw over a dozen of those black things that he had battled before land
on the pile of rubble. Turning back toward the palace wall he could
make the outlines of at least twenty more of the beings charging
straight at him. With the hope that Keikan could handle the dozen
inside, Ranma moved to meet the charge of the outside intruders.

As Ranma approached, he caught a small glimpse of metal reflected
in the moonlight. Almost snickering at the pointless using common
weapons was against him, Ranma dove into the fight. His cockiness
quickly ended as he felt one of the knives bit into his skin. Leaping
away from his opponents, Ranma looked down at the long gash in his arm.
There was red blood seeping from the slice in his armor. Ranma stared
dumbly at the cut for only a moment. While he had thought there was
nothing that could cut through his armor, he was fast to adapt a new
strategy to the fight.

Moving in quickly, Ranma called forth his Ki claws. The black
figures paused for a moment trying to take in the appearance of three
foot long golden claws coming from their intended target's hands. For
Ranma, however, that moment was long enough. Springing forward, he
drove the claws on his left hand through one opponent's head. The claws
on the right hand were used to slice another in half as Ranma passed
him. As Ranma passed his first to victims, he rolled his body and
cupped his hands in front of himself. "RYUUJIN SHUURAI!" The lightning
bolt the tore from his hand rammed into one of the figures, blowing a
hole through it and splintered, frying three more.

Moving himself so that he could face his last six opponents Ranma
grinned. "DEATH'S SHADOW!" Blackness darker than anything climbed up
Ranma's body and devoured him. The six figures didn't know what to do,
until they began to explode one by one. In only a few seconds only one
was left standing amid a field of gore and blood. From a shadow being
cast by a nearby tree, Ranma walked out. Grinning behind his mask at
the last of his enemies he once more summoned his claws. Before he
could move in to finish the job, however, a large explosion turned night
into day behind him. Without thinking Ranma used a bit of his Ki to
propel the claws on is right hand forward. The golden blades cut
through the opponent's neck as Ranma turned to speed back to the now
destroyed and burning ballroom.

*

Keikan, in the mean time, had been on his hands and knees above the
Senshi of destruction. Karinna might have been a little put out with
him except for the fact that there was about two tons of stone resting
on his back. She had quickly come to realize that he was all that was
between her and a rather flat fate.

"Could you lean upwards for me?"

"Huh?" Karinna looked into the eyes of her savior. She took a
moment to pause and look again. She then realized that she couldn't see
his eyes. It wasn't that it was dark underneath the stone, because in
truth it wasn't. The angle of the stone allowed for light to shine in
from outside. The reason that she couldn't see his eyes was the fact
that he had a mask covering his face, and where the eyes used to be,
there was now a pair of red, slightly glowing gems could be seen. She
was taken aback bye the sight.

"Would you hurry up and move? I can't hold this all night, Your
Highness." Keikan was annoyed at the princess for simply ignoring his
request. He could hear the violence going on in the room above and as
long as he was trapped under the stone he couldn't do anything about it.
Glancing back at the princess he saw nothing more than her face as she
had finally leaned forward pushing her body against his. Without a word
of thanks, Keikan shifted his weight to be supported on a single hand and
placed the other hand against the stone above him. "RIPPER BLAST!" The
entire section of stone roof that had been on his back a moment before
was now stone spikes being propelled forward and upward by the force of
his Ki.

Karrina closed her eyes against the dust that was pushed back.
When she tried to drop away from Keikan, but his arm slipped from the
rocks above to grab her and hold her tight to him. Then all at once she
found that she was on her feet. When she opened her eyes she noticed
that Keikan was no longer with her. Looking around she caught a black
figure diving through what had once been the glass wall in the ballroom.
At first she thought that Keikan had somehow gotten outside and was
coming back in. A scream from behind her caused her to turn in time to
see another black figure identical to the one coming through the glass
cutting one of the strange figures in half with a golden sword. Then
the world went black.

*

Ranma looked down at the unconscious form of the princess of
Saturn. He didn't really take much pleasure in knocking out the
princess, but she would have tried to get involved in the fight. That
would not have been helpful when it came down to protecting her.
Spinning around he cut the head off of an assassin that came too close.
Turning his body again he caught the blade of another dark figure on the
claws of his left hand. Whipping the right hand up he tried to impale
the figure. However, this one threw itself backwards to avoid the
strike. It didn't get it any breathing room as Keikan's sword cut the
creature's head clean off. It stood prone for a moment before
dissolving into dust.

Keikan looked at the spot blankly for a split second as what he saw
caught up with him. Moving his blade over his left shoulder to catch an
attack from behind he called out to his partner who had missed the
dissolving figure so that he could go against another creature trying to
get to the downed princess. "Ranma, be careful! Some of them are
demons!" Spinning around he knocked his opponents blade aside and
brought his own blade up to cut through the figures neck. As this one
fell dead blood burst from the wound drenching a nearby noble, who
screamed at the sudden shower. Turning once more he saw the area around
Ranma littered with bodies. Most of them were the attacker's, but a few
were of nobles of the planet. As he turned again he caught a slight
shimmering in the corner of his eye. Then from the rift another dozen
of the monsters appeared. These however did not charge the two warriors
like all the others had. These turned the opposite way and charged into
the crowed of nobles who were gathered against the back wall. The wall
without a door. Keikan dashed forward even as he knew that for some he
would be too late no matter how fast he moved.

Before he was even halfway to the crowed Keikan saw a geyser of
blood shoot upward. Another ten steps and the crowed was almost
completely dead. The creatures that had come through the portal this
time were a lot more efficient than the first batch. As his sword
cleaved through the nearest one the rest turned to him. There were now
over two dozen former members of the Court of Saturn on the floor
drenched in blood. Keikan planted his feet and brought his sword into a
high guard with the tip pointed at one of the creatures throats. There
was total silence for a moment with neither Keikan nor his opponents
moving. Then a scream pierced the air and the final battle of the night
started. Half of the creatures moved off toward the side and went
straight for the area that Ranma was in. Keikan charged the remaining
half that faced him knowing that Ranma could handle those that came his
way. He did want to take much time with the fight, however. He noticed
that those who were left for him weren't moving. Grinning at the
simplicity of it all he tightened his grip on his sword and dove into the
middle of the pack. "KUMORIGACHI KOUKUUKOUGEKI!" Keikan's blade and
body seemed to turn into a fine mist that penetrated all the way through
his opponents. After a few seconds of this he became solid again. His
opponents, with dozens of wounds apiece, dropped to the ground dead.
Turning toward Ranma he blinked. Ranma was down, but all of the black
demons were standing. "What the hell...?"

Not bothering to think about what was going on, he drove his
golden sword into the ground. "KAZAN BAKUHATSU!" The ground underneath
the majority of those surrounding Ranma instantly melted and exploded
upward. The heat of the created lava caused the figures trapped with it
to be incinerated instantly. As the lava cooled and turned into a stone
tower, Keikan took in what was left standing. Only two figures besides
himself. One was one of the attackers; the other appeared to be a place
guardsman, who was standing over the princess. Both figures appeared to
be dazed after the intense heat. Keikan took this opportunity to close
with the last of the creatures and cut its head off. Nodding once as
the decapitated body hit the ground he turned to check up on Ranma.

"Oh no."

There right next to Ranma was the head of Salina. Her body,
however, was no where to be seen.

*


Author's Notes: Done Done DONE!!!!! After all this time I got it
done. This is the largest chapter of anything I've written besides
Immortal Series. Tell me how you like it. Please, please tell me! I
want to know! Shees, I got to get off of this sugar and caffeine. I
got a feeling that its bad for my system. Oh well, that's the way
college life goes, huh?

Listed below are all of the attacks used by Ranma and Keikan.

Black Fireball: Keikan gathers black flames from the Void and uses them
to create a fireball. Much more powerful than those created with red
flames from the astral plain.

Ryuujin Shuurai (Dragon God Lightning Strike): Ranma uses his Ki to draw
electricity into his body and then releases it as a horizontal lightning
bolt.

Kokuei Nagarebosshi (Dark Shadow Shooting Star): Summons a small amount
of Void energy into the palm of the hand and launches forward. The ball
in roughly the size of a tennis ball. It shoots forward at close to 100
mph. Upon impact it will enter what it hits and corrupts the target,
thus doing internal damage instead of external. When used on electronic
devices it will totally short them out because of an energy overload.

Ripper Blast: Causes rock to explode upward in the form of spikes.
Keikan can either cause it to explode in a line or in an area. They tend
to impale things on a scale that makes the Bakkusai Tenketsu training
look like kid stuff.

Kumorigachi Koukuukougeki (Broken Cloud Air Strike): Keikan spins with a
speed that seems to make him semi transparent like a clouded figure. He
then trusts his sword out making it seem like a cloud was formed around
him. Great attack when surrounded, useless if your opponents don't rush
you.

Kazan Bakuhatsu (Volcano Eruption): Keikan heats the rock underneath his
opponent(s) until it melts and then causes it to explode upward. He can
control the flow and contain it to a specific area. This allows him to
use it even when allies are close by. Controlling it like this takes a
lot of concentration.

Death's Shadow: Ranma pulls shadows around him to swallow him up and
take him into the void. From there he can emerge from any shadow. He
must do so quickly, however, because extended time in the void will
cause him to go insane.

Tenchi Yougeki (Heaven & Earth Assault): Ranma forms an aurora of magic
and Ki around him and reinforces his body with it. It makes him
stronger, faster, have better reflexes, and increases his senses but can
only be kept up for a minute (two at the most) but normally that's all
he needs. It's very draining and he needs to rest quiet a bit
afterwards.

Kuroi Fenikkusu Tomurai Negaigoto (Black Phoenix Funeral Prayer): The
final attack of Ranma and Keikan. This technique is done by a single
person. They only use it in the most important of situations since it
will leave them as weak as a newborn kitten for days afterwards. This
attack opens a portal to the Void underneath their enemies. From the
Void great sheets of black flames sprout from the portal incinerating
everything caught within them. They actually incinerated a Lava
creature during their training using this technique.
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