Heart of Fire, Heart of Darkness: Chapter 3
A Ranma/SM Crossover Fanfic
by: Aaron Nowack
Disclaimer: Neither Sailor Moon nor Ranma belong to me. Ranma is Rumiko Takahasi's and Sailor Moon is Naoko Takeuchi's. However, the text of this fanfic is mine, and should not be used without permission. Thank you.
"Sailor Mercury!" called out Sailor Mars as she and Sailor Moon raced to their teammate's side.
Sailor Moon looked about curiously. All she could see was a girl a couple years older than her, a much younger girl, and the cutest little black pig she had ever seen! "Where's the youma?" she asked.
"They're... gone," Mercury responded, looking a little shocked.
At this moment the redheaded girl turned around, noticing the Senshi. "Who are you? Wait... I saw you on the news. You're the Sailor Senshi, right?"
"Bwee," commented the pig.
At this the redhead picked it up. "Alright, P-chan? How'd you end up with them? Get lost?"
"Bwee!!!" the pig squealed furiously.
The redhead seemed about to respond when the younger girl pulled on her shirt sleeve. "Honored guest, I have important message for you."
The elder girl turned towards the young one. "What is it?"
"No talk about here. Is only for honored guests..." The young girl looked towards the Senshi.
"All right. I guess we'll go back to the house, then." was the reply.
"Wait!" called out Sailor Mercury. "Who are you? What happened when I... Where did Ryouga and that other boy go?"
The redhead looked back at the Senshi. "My name is Saotome Ranma. The rest is none of your business." With that, she strode off, leading the younger girl behind her.
"Okay..." said Sailor Mars. "What exactly is going on here, Mercury?"
Sailor Mercury frowned. "I'm... not entirely certain."
Welcome to Hell.
Imagine a landscape twisted and broken, with shapes that never seem to add up to a comprehendible whole. Imagine buildings in styles that no earthly architect would have built. Imagine rivers of acid and skies of deadly gas. Imagine continual storms of stinging rain, with the constant bursts of lightning providing the only natural light.
Now, take all this, populate it with the inhabitants of your worst nightmares, and subject it to a temperature that is perpetually just a shade too warm for comfort. Then, imagine it much worse. This is the Dark Kingdom.
The mentality that an eternity of living in such a realm produces is terrifying to examine. More so that of those who try to rule it. To survive such a leader would have to be strong, merciless, and paranoid in the extreme. And the longer the leader survived, the more these traits would come to dominate him, her, or it.
The five people currently meeting in the throne room had been ruling this realm for as long as it had existed. Evil was no longer a good enough word to describe the depths of depravity to which they had sunk. The crimes that rested on each one's shoulders were enough to make any human, even the most hardened criminals, blanch. Fortunately for them, human was no longer exactly a good word to describe them either.
The most powerful of the five was the first to speak. Each of the other four was bound to her by a thousand different chains, be they of magic, of fear, of a twisted kind of love, or of the few shreds of honor remaining to them. None of the four could deny her anything she wanted. Truly, they belonged to her, mind, body, and soul.
"I wish to know how our operations are proceeding," stated Queen Beryl simply. The words sent a shiver of fear down her Generals' spines. They knew that the could be destroyed for any of a million different failings, real or perceived.
Kunzite, the most powerful of the Generals, was the first to respond. "The mustering of our army proceeds apace, my Queen. If Jadeite can throw open the portals once more, we will take the world by storm." Jadeite nearly growled at the implied lack of faith in his abilities.
Nephrite, perhaps the wisest of all those gathered, was the next to speak. "The Lord of Phoenix Mountain continues to prove amicable. I hope that his branch can be fully reintegrated into the youma population after our victory. Until then, their human blood makes them a valuable striking force. In any case, the heart of Jusenkyo will be ours... despite recent minor setbacks." Humans were far too resourceful, decided Nephrite.
There was a brief pause as the remaining two Generals each waited for the other to speak. Finally, Zoicite sighed and began his report. "None of the Seven have appeared. Perhaps if Nephrite would actually cooperate..." Zoicite left the sentence hanging, not noticing Jadeite's smirk.
Finally Jadeite spoke. "Energy collection is increasing, despite the Senshi's minor victories. However, I've noticed certain agents of certain others," Jadeite glanced at Nephrite, "operating in my territory. I would... request that those responsible refrain form further incidents. Keeping the Senshi under control is difficult enough without additional distractions."
Nephrite raised an eyebrow. "If you find fighting the Sailor Senshi so difficult, perhaps you should be removed from your post, Jadeite. They don't impress me very much. I've..."
"Enough!" said Queen Beryl, cutting off Nephrite. "Such infighting is inappropriate for this time. I have given you your duties, and you will perform them! I am sure you know how our Great Leader rewards failure..."
At this reminder, all four Generals blanched and renewed their silent vows that this time they would not fail...
Guardian Chrysolite grumbled as he glanced around the rough encampment. Pathetic. Beryl's forces were only a few miles from here, but he had managed to sneak into the center of camp without anyone noticing.
There were no patrols, and all the guards were drunk or asleep. All about him, he spotted men with rusted weapons and armor. Tents were set up haphazardly, and filth was everywhere. The soldiers had the look of defeated men, and they had yet to fight a battle.
Perhaps that was because of the stories of the running battles to the east. Ever since Kunzite had betrayed King Endymion, the forces of the Grand Alliance had suffered defeat after bloody defeat. Jadeite was a wholly inadequate General compared to Kunzite, and was helpless to stop the slow disintegration of the armies he had just come to lead, particularly when he was shocked by the fact that one he had looked up to as a mentor had turned traitor.
And so, Chrysolite had been ordered to come and take command, a move that would shatter Jadeite's weakened sense of self worth. It would be only a matter of weeks before Jadeite too became disgusted with the progress of the war and joined Kunzite on the winning side. And with that, the situation would become even more desperate, while the Grand Alliance's new distrust of the Guardians would drive Nephrite and Zoicite to the embrace of the enemy.
Not that that really mattered, Chrysolite decided as he looked around the camp. If these were the only reserves the Grand Alliance could find, they were really scraping the bottom of the barrel, and Beryl's victory was as inevitable as the change of the seasons.
Saotome Ranma sighed as she plunged her arms into the sink of warm water. As she shifted from a she to a he, he wondered what the meaning of these odd visions and dreams was. They were far too incredibly vivid to be explained as mere products of his imagination, he decided. There was something too real about them, he decided.
And what was with him, anyways? The weird feelings he'd been having since the monster attack just kept getting worse. For instance, today he'd felt so... odd towards those Sailor Senshi. Something about them just made him... nervous.
And with these cheery thoughts, Ranma exited the bathroom and headed downstairs for what would become the most important meeting of his life.
"You're the daughter of the Jusenkyo guide?!!" exclaimed the four gathered martial artists. Ranma and Ryouga had changed back to normal, and called for Shampoo and Mousse. If this concerned Jusenkyo, it concerned all of them, their rivalries aside. None of them even considered bringing Genma into the discussion
"Yes," responded the mysterious girl as she ate. "I'm Plum. Have very important news to tell you, honored guests!"
The martial artists all briefly shuddered at the thought of the Jusenkyo guide marrying. Then, Cologne entered the room. "Son-in-law... you mentioned the winged creatures turned human in cold water?"
Ranma stood and faced the Amazon matriarch. "You know something, old ghoul?"
"Perhaps," responded Cologne. "I would like to hear what Plum here has to say first..."
"You had the fleshling whelp in your sites and let her escape?!!" exclaimed Captain Kima as she stared down at her pathetic servants. Honestly, she'd have thought Lord Saffron could have spared better troops for a mission that was so important.
"Captain Kima! Please spare us!" exclaimed the two youma in unison.
"Oh, I suppose it couldn't be helped..." stated Kima. "I'm sure another girl will do just as well..." Really, it wasn't as though that particular fleshling was anything special. She smiled as she watched the two morons grovel before her. "It doesn't matter, since you stole 'Jusenkyo's Secret' from her, right?"
The two youma blanched. "We... didn't get that either..." muttered the braver of the two.
"What was that?" growled Kima, a ball of dark energy forming in her hand. "I'm sure I didn't hear you properly!"
"Spare us, Captain Kima!" cried the two. "It's not our fault!"
"Really? How so?" asked Kima, her patience wearing thin.
"The accursed Sailor Senshi!" growled one of the two. "It was one of them!"
"The Sailor Senshi?" asked Kima, the dark energy fading away. "They're here?! I thought..." Kima trailed off. "Well, I suppose you can't be blamed for retreating from the Sailor Senshi."
"Thank you, Lady Kima!"
"This is map of all the springs of Jusenkyo!" said Plum. "Dad always call it 'Jusenkyo's Secret'." Plum paused. "He say, if bird people find map... then Spring of Drowned Man..." Plum looked towards Ranma and Ryouga for a moment. "...Spring of Drowned Girl..." Plum turned towards Shampoo. "All of Jusenkyo will dry up!"
"What?!!" exclaimed the cursed martial artist at the thought of losing their possible cures. Even Cologne's eyes bugged out at the enormity of the threat. The springs of Jusenkyo had been one of the few constants in her long life, and she had never imagined that their very existence could be threatened.
"Who... who are these bird people?" asked Ranma.
"I am not sure, son-in-law," responded Cologne. "But... I believe they could be the legendary demons of Phoenix Mountain." The matriarch paused briefly. "Phoenix Mountain lies to the south of Mount Kensei, which holds Jusenkyo. At the summit, legend holds lives a race of demons."
"Demons?" Ryouga said quietly.
"Yes. They are said to have fallen there from the moon... but that's not important now," replied Cologne. "Legend holds that they will sneak down to Jusenkyo and curse themselves to become human..."
Ranma interrupted, "So that's why they lost their wings in the cold water that that... Sailor Mercury used."
"I believe so," said Cologne. "In any case, they use their human forms to spy on the peoples of the Jusenkyo valley... and to breed..." The martial artists shuddered at the thought. "Until now, I always thought they were but a legend..."
"Well, it looks like they're about as legendary as the Musk," growled Ranma. "Hey... why'd they want to destroy Jusenkyo, anyway?"
"I not know," said Plum. "I have to leave before Dad can tell me."
Ryouga snorted. "Doesn't matter..."
"Ya got a plan, P-chan?" asked Ranma.
"It's not important whether they're half-bird demons or whether they're half-wombats... we just have to knock a little sense into them. Then, Jusenkyo will be safe!" Ryouga suddenly hurled his umbrella at one of the walls of the room. "Can't sneak up on us!"
A moment later, the two bird people from before burst into the room from the opposite wall.
In a place that was both very far from and very near to the Tendo Dojo, Kima knelt before her liege lord. "I have only a moment, my lord Saffron... I doubt those two idiots will hold their own for long."
"You can tarry a moment, Captain Kima," said Lord Saffron.
"Your will, my lord," was Kima's only reply.
"I must apologize for sending those two. Though their fighting skills are without comparison, they are... less then knowledgeable about tactics. But hen, all our tacticians are needed here."
"You know best, my lord," said Kima. "I am but your humble servant."
"Yes," said Saffron, reaching out his hand to caress Kima's cheek with his long, taloned fingers. "And you had best remember that, too." Kima stayed both silent and perfectly still. After a long moment, Saffron sighed. "Very well, Captain Kima. You are dismissed." With those words, Saffron vanished.
After he left, Kima shivered for a moment, rubbing the spot where Saffron had touched her. A few moments later, she too sighed and vanished.
Author's Random Ramblings
Yes, I know this is another "short" chapter. Don't worry, Chapter 4 will be comparable in size to chapters of my other works. Of course, at this rate of writing, that means you'll be lucky to get two chapters a year...
Yes, I know none of the things I said would happen this chapter happened. So sue me. That's next chapter. I think I'm over my writer's block for this series, so look for it relatively soon.
NEXT CHAPTER: Chaos in the Tendo Dojo! Phoenix Mountain Attacks!
Be there, or be dodecahedral!!