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Disclaimer: Ranma and the Nerima Wrecking Crew belong to Rumiko Takahashi while Rifts and Nightspawn belong to Palladium. Babylon 5, Nightspawn and Sailormoon belong to all their creators respectively.
“And what does the book of Revelation mean?”
“The unveiling of the truth …”
Part 8: Revelation
In a dark street somewhere in Nerima …
After a certain beautiful and demure-looking girl had just struck a nasty punk more than a hundred yards across the street into the gutter …
His buddies, who were not too pleased at seeing what had happened to their friend, reacted accordingly.
One of them sprouted wings and shifted into a large winged serpent that hissed menacingly. His other buddies changed into a large bear with four mechanical arms that drew four blades of dark energy and a large panther devoid of visible fur readied itself to pounce.
All three charged at the harmless-looking girl with the intent of grinding her into dust.
Not faraway …
A certain pigtailed martial artist had been walking down the street pondering his dilemma when he heard the sounds of fighting across the street.
'Seems like trouble. Better find out what it is …' he thought and in a single bound had covered the distance towards the sound of the fighting.
What he saw, made his jaw dropped …
Kasumi? He thought as he saw the Tendo sister holding her own against what he believed to be three monsters … attacking … her???
A large winged serpent with claws outstretched swooped down for the kill on the Tendo sister only to be thrown crashing through a large van by a strong punch from her.
Its companion, the bear struck at her simultaneously with its four blades of dark energy, intent on skewering her to pieces only to find the spot the girl occupied, empty, as she leaped away to engage the panther that dove at her. They met in a wild flurry of blows, before the panther went crashing into the garbage dump, courtesy of a palm strike from the eldest Tendo sister. Her other two opponents quickly renewed their attacks, throwing blasts of dark energy from time to time, the majority of it coming from the winged serpent. Kasumi remained unfazed, however, and continued to fight on with ease even when the first punk she struck, leaped in to join the fray.
At just the right moment, she would sidestep her opponents, her palm or foot outstretched at just the right time to hit, trip or parry her opponents' blows. She would sail in and out with the speed and grace of a grandmaster, as she weaved in and out of her opponents' reach, striking them whenever the opportunity presented itself. Each blow of hers, sent them flying into the surroundings with a loud crash whenever it made contact. The eldest Tendo sister never looked more graceful and alive than she did at the moment. She was not only using the Art, she was the Art itself, personified.
Ranma watched entranced not wanting to disturb the incredible spectacle before him.
"Kasumi … " he whispered under his breath, "What are you?"
"Kasumi … " Ranma spoke his voice full of questions.
As usual, the eldest Tendo sister's eyes were full of love and caring, captivating his heart and attention in a way no other person ever could. But then, Kasumi was no ordinary person … he surmised from what he had seen earlier.
"Ranma … We all have our secrets and stories to tell. You have changed," the eldest Tendo sister commented.
"How long … have you … " Ranma spoke in way of reply.
"Come … follow me. I know you have many questions," Kasumi spoke as they both disappeared from the street without a trace.
Back in the eldest Tendo sister's room …
"Let's begin with the obvious," Kasumi spoke after they settled down on the floor..
"You are not human," Ranma pointed out.
"Never said I was," the eldest Tendo sister smiled, making Ranma's heart flutter.
"Who are you, really?" Ranma asked after he regained control of himself.
"I wish I knew. Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, a childless couple travelled through the dead of night in a rush towards a certain place. On the way, they had an accident causing their vehicle to go wild. Quickly, they got out of it and went to check out the situation. Much to their surprise, they found a woman lying unconscious in the middle of the road. They took her to hospital and quickly discovered she had no name, no family and no home for them to send her to. In short, a Jane Doe. Unwilling to let her brave the dangers of the street in her amnesiac condition, they decided to take her to their home and adopted her as their first child. They gave her the name, Kasumi, while waiting for her to regain her memories. That was thirty years ago."
"Thirty years? But you don't look a day over … " Ranma spoke after getting an idea of Kasumi's age.
"I have no memories of my actual childhood or my adolescence, for that matter, Ranma. Something tells me that I didn't have an actual childhood to begin with, unlike everyone else, and the chances are also high that I was never really born or conceived at all. I have tried to find out what I knew about my past but it continues to elude me. The only thing I do know about my past is the absolute certainty that I was once someone very different from what I am now, currently."
Lightning flashed in the sky and thunder rumbled ominously in the background interrupting the eldest Tendo sister's explanation.
"Your turn … " Kasumi spoke gently and Ranma began relating everything that happened to him after his arrival at Phoenix Mountain.
In a place cut off from the effects of the Timestream ....
A certain green-haired senshi frowned upon the events taking place on Earth. She looked through the Time Gates and examined all the possible outcomes and ... frustration and then a sense of hopelessness tore through her. Setsuna wanted to scream. It just wasn't fair!
She had tried her best to prevent this chain of events from happening but the situation proved irredeemable. Powerful forces were hard at work conspiring to destroy her vision of the future - Crystal Tokyo. It was becoming increasingly likely that Crystal Tokyo would never happen. Despite her best efforts, she had failed her Queen. Right from the beginning, she had manipulated events from behind the scenes, ensuring certain events would happen to give Crystal Tokyo a chance of coming true.
But the chances were remote. She had even travelled back to the beginning of Time to ensure the survival of the mysterious Shadows when they rose up and attacked the First Race. To prevent the Vorlons from becoming too powerful a force in the galaxy. Not to mention manipulating the destiny of the Younger Races for all time. She was however, unable to prevent the Vorlons from tampering with the DNA of mankind on Earth. Just as she was unable to stop the Ba'al from ever existing in the first place.
Setsuna had stopped trying to spy on the Ba'al through the Time Gates ever since she discovered how dangerous it was to do so. The one time she tried it, she discovered the so-called Ba'al looking right back at her through the Time Gates before getting up and approaching her from his towering black throne! Shaken by the encounter, she had dispelled the image ... when she found to her horror that ... she wasn't able to! The Ba'al got closer and closer to her position before finally ... in a fit of desperation ... she plunged her Timestaff into the Time Gates causing the image to blur and then shut down.
Unable to affect the Ba'al directly, she had then resorted to subterfuge .... with limited success. Once again she had travelled back to the past to prevent an alliance from forming between the Ba'al, the Undead and the forces of the Netherworld. She had been more careful in this regard, hiding her hands from all three sides and enjoying the fireworks thereafter. Thanks to her machinations, the Dark Alliance never materialised. Although the Ba'al had won the war that followed, this event had delayed the Ba'al's return to Earth by more than a thousand years.
After her failure in destroying the Ba'al with the unwitting help of Demons and Vampires, Setsuna had begun looking into other timelines. She had even secretly manipulated the Horde, (a race of artificial lifeforms hellbent on destroying all organic life from another timeline) into attacking the Nightlands, hoping to destroy the Ba'al. It was a calculated risk as the Horde would have attacked any and all organic lifeforms after they had destroyed the Ba'al. Setsuna had hoped that she would have been able to build a time barrier to contain the Horde in the Nightlands.
Much to her surprise and disbelief, however, the Horde had been contained … eradicated … and defeated … if such at thing was at all possible. Defeat … Such a word did not even begin to register when it came to describing the relentless, soulless, mechanical Horde. They were supposedly unstoppable … unbeatable … innumerable and invincible … Yet here they were … defeated by the accursed Ba'al, no less! How could that have happened?
More importantly … how could the Ba'al have done something once thought to be impossible? No mortal race had ever succeeded in defeating the Horde! All these questions raced through the Time Guardian's mind as she examined the reasons behind it … and there … after some careful examination through indirect means … Setsuna discovered the reason. And the answer truly frightened her.
Somehow those ancient abominations no longer needed magic to affect reality! With their complete mastery over matter and energy (limited only by force of will and imagination), they had erected a barrier that disintegrated all non-organic or non-living matter all around the Nightlands! Any non-organic matter or synthetic material such as metal, plastic, rock, water, etc ... would be vaporised instantly upon entry into that twilight dimension! A feat unequaled by any race she had ever known with the possible exception of the creation of the Time Gates and the Silver Millenium Crystal.
Still it did not frighten her as much as what happened to the last horde of Demons that attacked the Nightlands three centuries later. In 1895 A.D., a huge force of demons poured into the Nightlands in the region corresponding to Eastern Europe. The monsters whose numbers were as the sand on the seashore had overrun several city-states. Despite their numbers and savagery, the Demons were no match for the combined powers and armies of the Ba'al.
The Ba'al had responded swiftly and surely driving the demonic invaders back through their gateway to the hellish dimension they came from. After the battle, the High King and his Viceroy had led a magical ritual that combined all the powers of the surviving Ba'al. Using this energy (which was enormous indeed to say the least), the High King caused the entire dimension that housed these creatures, to collapse in onto itself, destroying everything within. A dimension of the Netherworld, easily the size of Hell itself, had ceased to exist. Since then, none of the Rulers of the Netherworld had dared attack the Ba'al directly.
Setsuna really felt like screaming. Despite all her efforts in stopping the damnable Ba'al, they had become more powerful than she had ever dreamed. The Vorlons as occupied as they were with the up and coming war with the Shadows (which was as much a result of her own past manipulations) would be unlikely to help like they did in the past. And now what was worse, a covert intelligence group was beginning to paying serious attention to the Senshi’s activities. This was bad because when one group began to do so, others would be sure to follow.
The spell that was cast thousands of years ago to seal the Ba'al was eroding daily thanks to the Earth's weakening magical field and the Ba'al's persistent attempts in breaching the barrier. Setsuna had done what she could in maintaining the barrier but she knew that it was a lost cause. It was only a matter of time before the energy powering the spell ran out and the barrier itself would disappear. The accumulation of Earth's mystical energies at all those ley lines, junctures and points was the Earth's last attempt in rejuvenating its dwindling mystical energy reserves.
Once the energy was gone ... Setsuna shuddered at that thought, the barrier would come down .... and ... the Ba'al would be .... free ...
And the Senshi ..... the Senshi .... They were not ready to face their enemies. Whereas before in the past they had the backing of a powerful interstellar empire armed to the teeth with magic and technology ..... Now they had no army to back them. And the Ba'al ... where there were less than a hundred before in the Silver Millenium when they first fought the Lunarian Union, now there were more than a thousand of those ancient abominations. Each of which ruled a large domain and commanded a mighty army of his or her own. They had also made contact and found new allies in the astral worlds despite her attempts to stop them ..... And this time the Senshi had no Atlantis to help them like they did in the past.
Her only hope were the Vorlons but they were unlikely to commit themselves like they did in the past in driving the Ba'al into packing their bags and leaving, too pre-occupied were they with the coming war with the Shadows. The Minbari, the Centauri, the League of Non-Aligned Worlds had no reason to help and even if they did, their help would come at a price ... one that would be too heavy to pay.
For the first time in her long life, Setsuna gave into her pent up emotions and the green-haired Senshi began to cry.
Back in the most heavily guarded facility on Earth …
"Sir, Secretary Marshall Roosevelt wishes to speak with you ... privately."
"Tell him to meet me in Room 6."
A few minutes later ...
"So what does the Secretary of the North American Conglomerate wish to speak to me about?"
Clark's eyes narrowed.
"From Psi-Corps. I have come across some information that you would be interested regarding their activities. They're all in here," the man spoke before pushing over a red folder to him.
A few minutes later ...
"Get Nightwatch! Alert Central Command! Rouse the security forces! I want every Psi-Corp operative dead or behind bars within twenty-four hours!" a loud voice rang over the intercom.
Psi-Corp Headquarters ...
"Sir, Clark has declared martial law and all our assets have been seized!" a voice spoke.
"SURRENDER IN THE NAME OF EARTH ALLIANCE. WE HAVE THE BUILDING SURROUNDED!" a voice boomed from outside.
"Sir, Nightwatch has surrounded the entire building! They're asking us to surrender! In ten minutes before they storm our headquarters!" spoke a second voice.
"THIS IS YOUR FINAL WARNING! WE HAVE THE BUILDING SURROUNDED!" a voice boomed from outside.
A sinking feeling entered all the Psi-Corps officers and their commanders as they observed the movements of the security forces outside the building.
"I have a suggestion," one of the officers spoke up.
"To get us out of this?" asked one.
"It would take a miracle," Another replied.
"Then consider this godsend. I have been keeping in contact with a secret organisation known as the Assembly of Night."
"Assembly of Night … What kind of funky name is that?"
"They are our only chance. I can contact them if you wish … on Psi-Corps' behalf," the officer added.
"How? All our communications are monitored. There's no way we can contact them without the President finding out."
"There is always another way," the officer replied.
"Really … " another officer said doubtfully.
"Alright … just make contact, PSI-ONE." The head of Psi-Corps spoke.
"Sir, I don't believe you are taking this seriously … "
"Enough. We don't have a choice. Do what you have to, PSI-ONE," the commander of Psi-Corps ordered.
"So what is this supposed to do?" the doubtful operative asked as PSI-ONE stood in front of the largest mirror in the building and remained still … "Shhh … " he replied. The same person was about to ask another question …
… when the large mirror in front of them turned pitch black … A darkness so dark that it was darker than the night itself. A strange scent emanated from it. The doubtful officer could have sworn he had even heard a few sounds like footsteps coming from the mirror itself.
"It is done. They will be expecting us …" PSI-ONE spoke as he stepped through the mirror causing everyone's jaws to hit the ground.
"Come with me if you want to live," came the words as his body disappeared through the large mirror that had suddenly turned darker than the night.
The sound of broken glass and locks erupted through the hallways as footsteps pounded on the ground signifying heavily armed soldiers.
"Sir … they have broken through the …" one of the officers spoke before static blazed through the communicator.
Having little choice, the Psi-Corps officers and their commanders quickly made their way, one by one, into the dark dimension of the Nightlands.
One week later ....
Rei was sweeping the leaves at her shrine when she saw a familiar figure outside the gate.
"Setsuna, it's a surprise to .... what's wrong?" Rei asked when she caught sight of the state, the green-haired Senshi was in. Her eyes were puffy and red and she looked like she hadn't slept for days.
"Call the others. Get them here as soon as you can. Something urgent has come up."
"Sure ... come on inside." Rei replied before activating her communicator.
Half an hour later, all the Senshi were gathered in the room.
"This had better be good, Setsuna. Haruka and me were in the middle of a most 'enlightening' session," Michiko spoke with an emphasis on the word 'session' leaving without any doubt as to the meaning of the word.
"And I had to cancel my date with a most wonderful hunk!" The Senshi of Venus grumbled.
"And I had to eat half the amount of ice-cream that I usually ate!" a third voice added in.
"Enough! We have more important business to attend to than your daily lives! Now as to why I called you here .... How many of you remember the Silver Millenium?"
"It was an age of great wonders and accomplishment."
"The Moon Kingdom was on the rise towards becoming a major force in the galaxy. It was all heavenly as Queen Serenity ruled the Solar System wisely and well."
"Correct. But she did not ruled the Earth."
"Now I remember, Earth was ruled by the Atlanteans and ..... Bell?"
"Ba'al." Setsuna corrected.
"Ba'al. Sounds like some ancient Canaanite or Sumerian god." Ami spoke for the first time.
"Ba'al was not an individual. And he was most certainly not a god! Ba'al referred to a collection of individuals. A collection of individuals that ruled the Earth as kings and queens. They were the main cause as to the fall of the Silver Millenium. And they are our eternal enemy."
"Now I remember. The Great War started because of them."
"The Ba'al had become energy vampires that needed the lives of others to feed on and grow stronger. It was a common practice in those days to bring a condemned criminal to be executed by being burnt alive before the Ba'al so that those energy parasites could feed on their dying agonies and grow stronger."
"As they grew in power and increased in number, their need for daily sacrifices in gruesome rituals became more and more. Soon there weren't enough prisoners to be killed and they began a war with their neighbours with the intention of procuring more living sacrifices for their daily meals. Nation after nation fell before their might until only Atlantis remained. Seeing that Atlantis was not an easy target as the Atlantean race were powerful mages and warriors in their own right, the Ba'al halted their war of conquest and focused on their conquered subjects instead."
"Their rule was nothing short of merciless. All families of their conquered subjects had to sacrifice one of their children to the bonfires so that the Ba'al might lived. When the family protested against the ruling, they were taken away, never again to be seen in the light of day. It was those continuing acts of cruelty that eventually started the Great War. The rebels were led by a man whom we later found out to be Nimrod. Ironically, he was the Ba'al's greatest champion, one of their decorated war heroes. What made him go over to the enemy camp is unknown. Familiar with their war tactics and strategies, he inflicted severe damage upon their forces before disappearing into the wilderness."
"Why didn't Queen Serenity do anything about the Ba'al?"
"She did. She had been secretly preparing her forces with the Atlantean authorities for months. They knew that a showdown with the Ba'al would come. It was not a matter of 'if'. It was more like a matter of 'when'. Both sides had been studying the Ba'al's strengths and weaknesses as well as sharing whatever information they could get their hands on. Unfortunately, none of us were able to move against them until the threats from outside the Lunar System had been dealt with."
"Threats from outside?"
"There were threats from outside, both extra-terrestrial and supernatural. Before the Great War, there was the ever-pervasive fear that the Drakh, servants of the Shadows would launch a full-scale attack on the Moon Kingdom. Fortunately, their attacks were limited to minor raids and skirmishes along the border in deep space without growing into something more. Then, there was the underlying suspicion that the Orieni were subtly trying to manipulate the fate of the Moon Kingdom like their masters had done with the rest of the Younger Races under the guise of peaceful enlightenment and diplomacy. In addition to that, there were the three Demon invasions from the Netherworld that had to be met and dealt with. After that was all set and done, we were finally free to give our full and undivided attention towards the growing problem in our backyard, namely, the Ba'al."
"Oh, I see ...."
"When the rebellion started against the Ba'al, they took that as a sign. Without any further hesitation, the Atlantean Army and the Moon Kingdom launched a joint attack against all the city-states of the Ba'al."
Somewhere on the Moon Kingdom …
“Your Highness, all the citizens of the Kingdom of Sorcery have launched a general uprising against the Ba’al. They’re denouncing Moloch as an evil monster and ruthless tyrant. What’s strange here is that they’re being led by Cain,” the same military officer knelt before the throne.
“Commander Cain of the Kastuulian Army? I thought he was one of Moloch’s most trusted servants. I guess fate can be fickle. Setsuna?“ the Queen turned to the green-haired woman by her side.
“Now is the time,” The Senshi of Time replied.
And with those words, the second stage of the Great War began … in earnest.
“So that was how the Great War started …”
"And they were destroyed?"
Setsuna shook her head.
“I wish I could say yes but sadly no … what started as a war of liberation turned out into a battle for our very survival … especially when Whose-Cursed-Name-Must-Not-Be-Spoken entered the fray. The war was nothing short of spectacular. It pitted Moon Kindom magic and technology as well as Atlantean wizardry and warrior discipline against the Ba’al's dark sorcery and their fabulous power over matter and energy.”
“Whose-Cursed-Name-Must-Not-Be-Spoken … Who in the world is that?” asked Minako.
“Look but do not speak the Cursed Name lest you draw its attention,” Setsuna instructed as she wrote the Cursed Name on a piece of paper.
“Meta-ugh!” The Moon Princess found her mouth covered by the Senshi of Time’s hand.
“I said look! Not speak! Every time you say the damned creature’s name, you draw its blasted attention and give away your position. Not to mention ours as well! Do you understand?” the Senshi of Time corrected sternly.
The Moon Princess nodded her head meekly.
"A day and a year after the onset of the Great War, dimensional rifts opened up all over the Solar System and demonic hordes poured out of them attacking all the territories of the Moon Kingdom and their Atlantean allies. This was when the Cursed Name sent them … Their attack wiped out ninety percent of our defenses and sealed the doom of the Moon Kingdom.”
Somewhere on the Moon Kingdom …
“Your Highness, I have bad news. We are being …” a man in military uniform rushed into the throne room.
“Attacked and our positions overrun … ” the Queen deduced quickly as a powerful explosion rocked the palace to its foundations, toppling many pieces of roof tiles and concrete to the ground.
“By demons. They rifted in to our holdings everywhere and attacked them all simultaneously,” the military officer added.
“Demons? Setsuna?” the formidable monarch of the Moon Kingdom asked turning to her longtime advisor and friend.
“Forgive me … your Highness. There is no avoiding this. The Netherworld has launched an all-out attack on the Silver Alliance while we are having our hands full dealing with the Ba’al.” The Senshi of Time knelt before the Queen, her hand gripping the garnet rod tightly.
“This is the end of the Silver Millenium?” the reigning monarch asked as another explosion shook the ground they were standing on.
Unable to voice a reply, the Time Senshi simply nodded her head. Another piece of masonry fell from the ceiling, narrowly missing them.
“How will this end, Setsuna?” came the million-dollar question.
“Ba’al will be defeated but … “
“But what, Setsuna?”
“But I … forgive me … what must come to pass, must come to pass. There … is …no … escaping … destiny … On They came … defeated yet strong … Three and fifty … few but mighty ...” the Time Senshi recited … from memory.
“The Writings of the Dark. In other words, they will be coming back in the future. If that is to be the case, activate the Delta Disruption Matrix. The Lunarian Union is not going down alone. We’re taking Kastuul, and as many of those abominations as we can, with us …” Serenity vowed.
“Your Highness! The Enemy has penetrated the second defense perimeter surrounding the Palace. They’re battering at our emergency shields,” a voice called out from the communication device.
“Setsuna, return to the Time Gates and watch over the Senshi when they return.”
“Your Highness … Surely not …?”
“WARNING! WARNING! EMERGENCY SHIELDS FAILING! POWER FAILURE IN FIVE MINUTES!” a voice boomed over the intercom.
“Re-route all power to the Delta Disruption Matrix. Kastuul must be destroyed!” the Queen ordered.
“RE-ROUTING!” the voice sounded.
Lights began flickering in the throne room. The three people look around them … waiting for the first threat to materialize.
Suddenly there was static and then the throne room was plunged into darkness.
“INSUFFICIENT POWER. DELTA DISRUPTION MATRIX DE-ACTIVATED,” the voice sounded before dying out.
A disturbing presence began to assault the very minds and souls of the three people in the room.
“Well … well … well … ” a voice spoke, full of sweetness and decay. It echoed from within and all around them at once.
“Go now, Setsuna! If it gets you, there will be no future! Remember, your stewardship is a priority! All other concerns are secondary!” The Queen ordered as she focused all her power and energy into the Silver Imperium Crystal.
The pressure building up against them lessened though it did not go away completely.
Eyes tearing up, Setsuna took one last look at the Queen of Lunarian Union struggling futilely against an overpowering adversary, an infernal force from the depths of the Netherworld. Even without looking, the Time Guardian knew that Serenity was not coming back from this fight. The Queen was powerful, no doubt about it, but against an enemy such as this? Not a chance in Hell (mind the pun). Not for a long time to come … perhaps for all eternity.
“What have we here?” the voice asked in mockery as a bright red flame lit up the throne room blinding all with its brightness. The pressure increased suddenly, forcing the soldier beside her to his knees. Blood began dripping out through the pores of his skin.
“Better … On your knees. Where you belong … like the rest of your wretched species,” the voice continued.
“Metallia, Devourer of Souls and Supreme Commander of the Infernal Legions. Why have you attacked my people?” The Queen asked as the power of the Silver Imperium Crystal continued to build in response, its silver light fighting back the red light emitted from the flame-covered monstrosity slowly filling up the throne room.
“Any last words, my precious Queen … before I rip you beyond the bounds of oblivion?” the voice asked, choosing to ignore her question.
“JUST TWO. F* YOU!” the Queen replied as the bright light within the Silver Imperium Crystal brightened even further lighting up the palace further.
For one moment, it seemed that the sun itself had materialized in the palace of the Moon Kingdom. In many different places around the palace, many of the Lunarian soldiers who were near death and exhaustion, suddenly fought with renewed vigor against the hellish invaders as their wounds closed up and many of their foes vanished from sight as they came into contact with the light.
“That’s four … but I’ll take them, any way. Any day …” The creature replied, unimpressed by the display. “Besides, Hell is always open … twenty-four hours a day.”
The bright light from the Silver Imperium Crystal pushed hard against the burning hellish flames of the creature forcing it back.
“Impressive … for a mortal,” the creature grudgingly acknowledged. “Unfortunately, for you … I am no mortal. My turn …”
And then it extended its will. Hellish flames of death and decay erupted out from it, pushing the light from the Silver Imperium Crystal back and then more as it expanded out from the throne room into the corridors of the palace. Soldiers who had once been fighting with renewed vigor and increased morale against the demonic invaders were incinerated on the spot as they were consumed by the flames from the inside out. This scene was repeated everywhere on the surface of the Moon Kingdom.
Serenity, augmented by the power of the Silver Imperium Crystal, gritted her teeth, throwing more and more of her precious power reserves into the duel. To her credit, she lasted a whole hour as neither side made headway in the duel of power and magic. Sweat graced her forehead. She would not lose. She couldn’t afford to. But desire and reality were two completely different things as the Lunarian monarch knew … all too well.
Her strength was not limitless while her once massive power reserves were rapidly fading …
‘This is the end,’ she thought as the last of her power went into the Silver Imperium Crystal.
Give up. No one can stand against me. A voice seemed to say from nowhere.
‘No! I cannot give up!’ she thought desperately and threw her very life force into the Crystal.
Come on. Why prolong the agony? The same voice continued in a mocking tone.
At these words, the Queen became incensed.
“NEVER!” the words left her lips in a shout as the light from the Silver Imperium Crystal became blindingly bright.
Laughter greeted her reply.
That’s what all those that dared to stand against me said too before I ended their miserable lives. Anyway, like my friends used to say, resistance is futile.
‘Please, … Someone … Anyone … Out there … I beg of you … Give me the power … to vanquish this abomination!’ Serenity prayed desperately with all her heart and soul.
Give up, foolish mortal. I’ll even make this quick. The mind voice implored.
Youthful hands began to dry and roughen … as it aged. Vibrant hair that once drew the eye of many male and female admirers turned coarse. Body fat disappeared as all of it was burned up to provide energy for the Silver Imperium Crystal. Beautiful skin became shrunken and wrinkled. Eyes sank into their sockets. Body muscles groaned in pain … before giving way …
Exhausted beyond belief, the once proud monarch of the Lunarian Union stumbled to the ground, little more than a heap of skin and bones. There was no doubt about it. She had aged more in this duel than she ever did in her entire life. But Serenity did not care. She was beyond caring at the moment …
“Serenity lost … but that’s not possible. If we lost, then why is Me-Cursed Name not ruling the world?”
“A good question.”
“True … so how did Serenity win?”
“Against all odds you mean?”
Two bright lights appeared in deep space. From out of it, two living ships of light appeared above Forceria. The energy output of those ships increased suddenly as a bright ball of energy began to coalesced between their limbs. Entire armies began to scatter and run in panic for their lives.
Down in Kastuul, a large portal into a world of darkness opened.
A group of powerful beings entered the portal, to this world of darkness, their servants in armour, clutching their weapons closely, streaming in rapidly after them in step.
“Close the gateway!” a being who appeared to be the leader spoke.
“My lord, many of our valuable servants and equipment are still on Forceria.”
“Do it now! Or die where you stand!” came the order.
Flames coalesced into being around the speaker.
“Forgive me, my lord. Close the gateway, now!”
A look of horror appeared on the faces of those who had yet to cross over, many of them breaking into a stampede in an effort to reach the fading portal to safety …
From the heavens, two ships of light discharged their primed weapons. Twin beams of light rushed down from the skies and then … there was a sizzling flash … the smell of something burning … the ground shook … as ruptures began to appear … a large pillar of smoke rose high into the air … and a mighty city that once stood in defiance of the host of heaven and the earth was no more …
On many different worlds, those who came with evil on their minds did the same. Many disappear magically. Those who do not are, suddenly, without warning, cut down by powerful beams of energy sweeping down like cleansing flames from the heavens …
“Whoa … So who were those aliens that showed up?”
"An alien race from beyond the stars. They are our best hope and at the same time ... our greatest danger."
"What do you mean?"
"I have studied the Vorlons as much as I can. Still I can't make any sense of them and what they actually want. Their agenda is a mystery. And so are their adversaries, the Shadows."
Seeing the blank looks on the other Scouts' faces, Setsuna explained.
"The Shadows and the Vorlons are remnants of the first race that evolved in the galaxy. Some old Moon Kingdom and Atlantean records hold that they are not two races at all but one race that somehow or other, branched out along two separate paths of evolution. Whatever the case maybe, there is no denying this. Both are powerful forces in their own right. Yet, strangely enough, they have never attempted to rule the galaxy. The only other thing I do know about them is both have opposing philosophies and one will avoid all forms of contact with the other unless they are looking for a fight. The Vorlon philosophy begins with the question 'Who are you?' while the Shadow tenet begins with 'What do you want?'"
"That's .... bizarre," Ami replied.
"You're not the only one. I feel very much the same despite having studied them for a long time. In fact, I doubt anyone alive can ever understand them at all," Setsuna spoke, shaking her head wearily.
"I don't think I like the sound of that."
"No one does but that is the unfortunate situation we find ourselves in," Setsuna replied before continuing her explanation.
"Now, listen carefully …”
The rest of the Senshi quickly became quiet upon hearing Setsuna’s request.
"Wait a second here, you still haven’t told me how Serenity defeated Me-Cursed Name one on one?”
At this request … even the Senshi of Time paled.
“I don’t know.”
“What do you mean you don’t know?” the Scouts asked simultaneously.
“I mean what I said. I don’t know!” Setsuna insisted.
“I don’t get it … you’re supposed to be Setsuna Meiou, … the mysterious … aloof … legendary Guardian of Time and sole survivor of the ancient Lunarian Empire … and an all-round voyeur who sees and knows everything under the sun … ” Ami commented.
“Including the place where the sun don’t shine …” Minako added slyly.
“Right … and an all-round jerk who loves to stump the rest of the senshi with her mysterious answers and riddles ...” Makoto continued.
Makoto … Minako … and …Ami … Consider all of your boyfriends … history … Setsuna swore quietly … and a strange chill settled down over the three scouts causing them to shiver involuntarily.
“And who has the sole privilege of never having to answer any question or do anything she doesn’t wish to with the famous ‘Such a thing will disrupt the timeline …’ quote, ” Rei added.
Rei … You’re going to die a sex-starved virgin as well …the Time Senshi thought darkly as she mentally added the Fire Senshi to her growing checklist of people who were doomed to live celibate and lonely lives.
At this words, a strange chill traveled up the spine of the Fire Senshi causing her hair to stand on end. grins
“Many times I know you think that I‘m all-knowing and I like to think that I’m that way too … but I’m not omniscient!” the Senshi of Time replied, glaring at the speaker.
“What do you mean?”
“This event went unrecorded by the Time Gates … alright?” Setsuna answered.
“But who in the world would have the power to defy the Time Gates?” Rei asked.
“I already told you … I don’t know!” the Senshi of Time insisted.
“Have I ever lied to any of you?” the Senshi of Time asked, her face … the very essence of child-like innocence. smiles her sweetest smile
There was silence for a moment … and then … all-round laughter … as Setsuna’s words sunk in.
That does it! You’re all staying celibate until the next millennium! The Time Guardian swore for the second time that day.
A chill settled down around the room dampening the mood.
“Who knows? Next you'll tell me that Bell … sorry … Ba’al have all the combined powers of all the senshi put together …" Makoto laughed.
The Senshi of Jupiter found the Time Guardian looking seriously at her.
“You’re kidding right?”
The Senshi of Time’s serious expression remained unchanged.
“Come on … it was just a joke …” Makoto commented attempting to lighten the serious atmosphere that had suddenly taken root around the Time Guardian.
The Time Guardian, however, remained ominously silent … before answering ...
"That was no joke. Which is why I have never been able to confront them directly one on one even with my temporal powers and connection to the Time Gates. Their abilities to sense dimensional disturbances through the Timestream and manipulate dimensional energies are incredible, making any form of teleportation, scrying, rifting, temporal maneuvering and space-time warping activities a very dangerous game."
"Is that all of it?"
"The Ba’al are also master sorcerers, the first among the early shamans to carve their knowledge in tablets of stone. So their knowledge and understanding on the uses and limits of magic is great."
"If they are so powerful and knowledgeable like you say, how did we ever beat them in the first place?"
"We didn't actually beat them. We fought them to a stalemate. And that was with the help of the Atlantean Empire and a large interstellar fleet."
There was silence for awhile as what was being said sank in.
Surprisingly the next sentence came from Usagi, the 'airhead' senshi.
"It must have been the mother of all battles."
“You have no idea.”
Somewhere on Forceria …
Clouds began to cover the sky … blocking out sunlight from hitting the lands below. From the North, thousands upon thousands of soldiers in full scale armour could be seen marching in rank and file through the open plain, heedless of the danger it would present.
“Sire, Moloch’s armies have arrived. Our forces are in position. Shall we open fire?”
“Not yet. Move our sky ships into position, first.” The King of Atlantis replied as he peered through the spyglass overlooking the battlefield.
“Two thousand paces from our position and closing in.”
“Tell the archers to open fire now!”
“Not yet! Deploy our Vailixi carriers!”
“One thousand five hundred paces and closing in!”
A hail of arrows were launched forward meeting the enemy targets only to rebound off what appeared to be force fields surrounding each and every individual combatant on the field.
“Sire … they’re shielded!”
“Launch our missiles now!”
The Vailixi assault carriers released hundreds of missiles which smashed into the opposing force with deadly accuracy, engulfing the land with ground-shaking explosions. After a few moments … there was silence.
“That was it? Kastuul’s mighty army that grind the opposition to dust?” the Atlantean general pointed out in a mixture of disbelief and scorn.
“Something’s not right …”
“Command the sky ships to …”
The ground trembled beneath their feet and suddenly, without warning, cracks opened up in the ground swallowing up portions of the Atlantean army.
Around them, the winds began to howl in fury as dark clouds began to fill the horizon. Heavy raindrops fell from the skies wetting the ground beneath their feet.
Flashes of lightning streamed down from the skies burning entire sections of the land they were on. The winds blew harder and harder as the rain fell faster and faster. Funnel clouds began to turn and twist tearing into the Atlantean columns with impunity ...
The army began to run for their lives as the ground behind them began to roll up as if it were paper. As they ran forward past the place where they destroyed the enemy force earlier …
The ‘slain’ enemy troops got back up to their feet, grasping their weapons and grinning evilly.
The surviving Atlantean soldiers upon seeing the return of the ‘revived’ enemy troops had no choice but to engage them in a battle to the death.
Meanwhile in orbit around Forceria …
The Lunarian battlecruiser, The Queen’s Justice, let loose volley after volley of energy blasts on the enemy below. Unlike the Lunarian Union, Kastuul did not have a space-capable defense force. Too bad for them, the captain smiled grimly in satisfaction as the ship’s sensors gave him the numbers of Moloch’s troops wiped out in the attack. Thirty thousand so far and rising fast … he noted with satisfaction. At this rate, the battle would be over in no time. And the genocidal Ba’al would finally face justice.
“Sir, I’m picking up a massive buildup of potential psychic energy on Forceria.”
“No, Sir. The power buildup is Kastuulian in origin.”
“Kastuulian … Shields at maximum.” The captain ordered.
Kastuul did not appear to have a space-based defense force or even defenses against attacks from deep space but their was no point in taking chances with the enemy.
Lights began to flare in and out as the power in the ship fluctuated. Warning klaxons began to come from all over the ship.
“The ship appears to be loosing hull integrity, Sir.”
“How? Are we under attack?”
“I don’t know. Sir, our reactor’s loosing stability … We’re losing containment!”
“Eject the-” the captain ordered.
That was as far as he had got as a powerful explosion engulfed the bridge. If the captain had been able to see the ship from deep space, he would have been treated to a most unbelievable sight. The large battlecruiser ripped apart from the inside out with no visible attacks on the ship whatsoever.
"You can say that again. It was really bad. We couldn’t figure out why our ships were being destroyed … apart from the few emergency signals we could get until a lucky transmission from one of the doomed ships told us that a powerful force had ruptured the ship … from the inside out! Can you imagine that? They were able to destroy our ships with impunity without having to fire a single gun. At first, we thought that it was magic and reacted accordingly by protecting our ships from magical effects … but to no avail. For the ships in our fleet continued to be destroyed at a maddening pace. Naturally these got us worried and at the cost of countless lives … we finally figured out the terrible truth. The Ba'al were not using magic! Not any that we recognized … of course.”
“So what were they using?”
“Somehow … they had linked themselves to the Dark … an incomprehensible force from beyond this existence. Thus giving them control over the very elements of the universe itself. We didn’t realize the true extent of the dire situation we had gotten ourselves into until very much later … which was by then … too late for us to do anything.”
The Ba’al have vast powers over the forces of nature. Over the howling winds of the earth and the rushing waters of the deep. Over the roaring fires of the furnace as well as lightning from the heavens. In addition to that, all manner of rock and stone formations, both natural and man-made heed their call. Metal bends to their very will. Their total mastery over matter and energy gave them complete control over the very elements of the universe itself.
“This is bad.”
"Does a recording of the Great War exist? I would like to take a look at it," Ami asked, changing the subject.
"Yes a recording of this entire war exists. You can watch it after we leave."
There was silence for a moment before the green-haired senshi continued speaking.
"Yes we must leave Earth. The barrier that kept the Ba'al in that prison of theirs is collapsing within three months. Once that happens, they will be back."
"We're running out on a fight ..."
"Abandoning the Earth ..."
"Leaving everyone to their mercies ..."
Suddenly, her words were interrupted as Setsuna sank to the floor on her knees.
"Forgive me, my Queen ... I ... I .. I .. have failed you ... I .. h-h-have t-t-tried everything I could conceivably think of to stop this day from happening but .... Dark Day is unavoidable!" Her voice choked as she lay unmoving with her face to the ground.
A hand touched her.
"Rise Setsuna, I command you ... " a voice spoke with authority.
"Serenity .... " the rest of the scouts spoke with wonder.
"I will not lay the blame on you for this, Setsuna."
"But ... "
"Carry out the rest of your plan, Setsuna. We don't have a choice. For all our vaunted powers and stature as the sailor senshi, we are still ..." she paused momentarily before continuing, "... only human."
"But what about our families?"
"How can we leave them behind?"
"They're coming with us. I'm sure Setsuna must have seen to that. It won't do to have any of the senshi's families or relatives be used as bargaining chips in this coming war, right?" the former air-headed senshi spoke, displaying a wisdom and foresight that was unheard of among the senshi.
Setsuna merely nodded her head.
"Then, I believe we should go now. Setsuna?"
"Do what you must ... "
"Yes. Your Majesty."
"Are there any further questions? If there are not, this meeting is adjourned," the blonde senshi spoke.
There was silence for a moment.
"One last question, where are we going?" one of the senshi asked.
"You will know it, soon enough," Setsuna spoke before leaving the room like she always did.