A Ranma ½ / Sailor Moon crossover story
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video. Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon belongs to Takeuchi Naoko, Koudansha, TV Asahi, and Toei Douga, and DIC.
Interlude One: Chosen
The flames of the small campfire flickered in the cool night breeze, the fire casting dancing shadows about the small campsite. A short distance away was a scene of devastation: trees uprooted wholesale or splintered to lay on the ground and a crater three meters deep spoke of a tremendous explosion. Certainly, modern weaponry could do much better, but when one considers that this particular damage was caused by a hand to hand combat session between two men, the event approaches incredulity.
Next to the fire, two men, the very same two that caused all the damage to the formerly small clearing, lay on the ground. One, wearing grey, uniform-like clothing, was apparently unconscious, his eyes closed and his body still but for the regular rise and fall of his chest. The other, lying across from the first man, was watching him intently, his once white gi stained with weeks of travel and training. As he watched the unconscious, brown haired man, the gi-clad man let out a sigh.
'He's been out for three hours now,' Ranma thought. 'What am I gonna do? This… thing is a little outta my experience.'
The pigtailed boy's face twisted into a grimace. 'I don't even know what happened to him,' his mind continued. 'First, I was unconscious, and when I came to, then Nephrite was…'
Once again, a sigh sounded from the young man. He dropped his eyes to the ground, remembering. Thoughts of a dark, cold place drifted through his mind, the cheery crackling fire doing nothing to shake the chill from his bones. Recollection of the battle that occurred there caused him to shudder, the feeling of animal instinct, need, scaring him for some unknown reason.
Certainly, he was familiar with the feeling. The Nekoken was exactly like that, with the vague memories of a dark, warm place filling his mind every time he was released from the technique, but this time it was different. The cold was frightening, although he would never admit it.
The slight rustle of cloth against cloth brought Ranma's eyes up in a flash; Nephrite stirred restlessly in his sleep. The motion was almost enough to bring a sigh of relief to the young warrior's lips, but he held his breath instead, waiting for a better sign. A moment later, the dark general's eyes clenched, then fluttered open, and he stared groggily across the fire toward his student.
Ranma was up in a flash, the cup of cool water that had sat next to him in his hand. Kneeling next to his sensei, he mirrored Nephrite's actions of only a few weeks previous, sliding his hand underneath the dark general's curly brown hair and lifting his head toward the cup.
He let the negawarrior drink slowly, never allowing the water to spill as he gave Nephrite small sips. For his part, the grey uniformed man's eyes bespoke his gratitude. After a moment, Ranma took the cup from the older man's lips and said, "Are you feeling up to speaking?"
A slight shake of Nephrite's head was the only response Ranma received, but the pigtailed boy nodded once and resumed his place across the fire from his mentor, the negawarrior closing his eyes once more. And so the night passed, Ranma alternating between caring for Nephrite and sinking into deep reverie.
'Did he really drain me so much?'
The words surprised even the one who thought them. Nephrite's consciousness drifted in inky darkness as the healing trance continued to repair his body at an accelerated rate, and in turn, his healed body and reduced activity was slowly replenishing his lost lifeforce. If he stayed in this trance beyond the need to repair his body and lifeforce, he could even begin to refill his reserves, albeit at an almost unimaginably slow rate. That particular added benefit to being on Terra rather than in the Negaverse had been well and truly forgotten in the Dark Kingdom's long sleep, but Nephrite was grateful for it in any case.
'Maybe I should be more careful of what constructs I use against him…' thought the dark general, his mind searching for anything interesting in the absolute boredom of a healing trance. 'Oh well; he's just full of surprises. I should have learned that within the first day of teaching him…'
The personality that was Nephrite shrugged its ephemeral shoulders at that thought. There really wasn't much else to do. Unable to think of anything else interesting externally, the negawarrior's mind turned inward, and he began to mentally catalogue the constructs he knew, starting with the most basic.
'The simplest constructs: draining and storing extra lifeforce in a pattern, usually starting with one's own,' he thought, remembering his own instruction in negaforce. However, instead of continuing on that track, his mind instead drifted away into memory. 'It's been so long… Has it really been twenty millennia since I was a Guardian of Terra?'
With that, Nephrite's consciousness sank gently into reverie.
A twenty five year old Nephrite stood at attention as his unit was inspected, his uniform immaculate. There was actually glare from his highly polished boots and his grey dress uniform showed neither wrinkle nor piece of lint. His rank insignia, recognizing him as a Captain in the 3rd Terran Special Forces Regiment, gleamed against the dark grey uniform. It was a Brigadier General, the commanding officer of his division, that was inspecting the squad under his command, and Nephrite was absolutely certain that his men were completely ready.
After walking down the single rank of the seven man squad, General Edenite stopped and turned to look him in the eye. Nephrite really had to wonder how Edenite managed to remain so absolutely cute after over fifteen years in the Special Operations Department; even though she had to be at least thirty five years old, she still managed to look like a very, very cute sixteen year old with light blue hair. The only thing that belied that impression were her eyes: cold chips of slate grey ice that burned chillingly into anyone she saw. In her hand was a standard orders scroll, which she held out to him as she spoke. "Captain Nephrite," she said, her voice cold and hard from her many long and decidedly difficult battles in the Special Forces Division, "I have new orders for you. You are hereby relieved of squad command and reassigned to the Palace Guard. Report to the base personnel teleporter at oh four hundred for transfer."
Even at attention, even with three years in the Special Operations Department, Nephrite couldn't keep the surprise off of his face. "Sir!" he said, regardless of his brain's orders to remain silent and at attention. "Why would General Calinite reassign me?!"
Edenite's face twisted into a cute and strangely disturbing scowl at his protest, and her voice seemed to become harder, if that was possible. "It is not your place or mine to question General Calinite's orders, Captain! You will report as ordered in dress uniform and prepare for an audience with His Majesty upon arrival at the Palace! Now GET MOVING!"
Nephrite's eyes widened with every word that spat at him through the Brigadier's clenched teeth, and with the final, almost shouted word, the Captain almost involuntarily saluted and ran to his bunk, her words a definite dismissal. As Nephrite packed his few belongings into his dimensionally enhanced field pack, he vaguely heard Edenite promote his second-in-command to his former position; however, his mind was in no position to contemplate this as it was entirely consumed with the thought of an audience with His Majesty, King Endymion. 'What could the King possibly require of me?'
The giddy feeling of nervous excitement mixed with the chill of dread filled his belly as he slung the field pack over his shoulder and took one last look around the barracks that had been his home for nearly two years. 'I'm gonna miss this place,' he thought, but he didn't get any further into that feeling before his former second walked up to him.
"Gonna miss ya, Cap," he said, a strange mixture of happiness and sadness mingling in his eyes above his normal, cocky smirk. He put a hand on Nephrite's shoulder, and very shortly Nephrite found himself in the midst of six large, deadly special forces operatives showing the incongruity of unshed tears glistening in their eyes. He almost laughed but for the knowledge that the same expression graced his own face. These men had been his family for three years; they were closer than brothers. They had been through some of the worst battles in which Terra had participated, surviving only be relying on each other. I was understandable that there might be a tearful farewell.
Choruses of "We'll miss ya, Cap," and "Besta luck at the Palace," came from the men, and Nephrite smiled at the well wishing. "You guys'll do fine without me," he replied. "I've seen you in battle."
After nearly an hour of well wishing and farewells from both former CO and unit, Nephrite finally made his way out of the barracks. The reassurances of his now former unit had bolstered his confidence a great deal, and he strode across the base toward the teleport spire with his head held high. Once there, he returned the salutes of the Corporals on guard duty and face the teleport mage.
"Captain," he said, saluting Nephrite smartly. "What can I do for you?"
Nephrite returned the younger man's salute made a quick note of his rank insignia before speaking. "I'm under reassignment orders, Lieutenant," he said as he offered the man the scroll. "I need to transfer to the Palace."
The Mage-Lieutenant took the scroll and quickly perused the contents, his eyes sliding across the page in an expert fashion. Of course, orders scrolls were specially enchanted to allow only specific personnel to read certain portions, more so in the Special Operations Department, and Nephrite could see the man's eyes skip most of the scroll. After only a moment of study, the teleport mage nodded once and handed the scroll back to Nephrite.
"Alright, Captain," he said in a professional voice. "The crystals need to warm up for about five minutes and then I can perform the transfer. There are a couple of chairs over there where you can wait, sir." He nodded toward the right side of the room.
Nodding once, Nephrite replied, "Alright. Call me when you're ready."
As the mage moved to begin casting the necessary spells to activate the teleportation matrix, Nephrite walked to one of the chairs and sat. 'The man must have trained for years to learn how to operate a teleportation matrix,' he thought idly. 'As far as I know, only the Queen Serenity's Senshi and King Endymion's Guardians are powerful enough to teleport without one, and the complexities of the teleport spell even with the aid of a matrix at each end is near insanity.'
As he went over what little he knew of the teleport spell, mostly theory from the Academy, the teleport mage completed his incantation. The entire chamber glowed a soft, cheery yellow from the many storage crystals used to power the teleportation matrix, and the runes carved into the crystal platform that actually was the matrix crackled with blue energy. Nephrite watched as arcs of seeming-electricity flowed through the channels and symbols carved in the teleport matrix, his magical training telling him that it was actually raw mana.
"Captain Nephrite," the Lieutenant's voice breaking Nephrite from his study. "I'm ready any time."
Nephrite nodded and walked up the stairs to the dais, the hair on the back of his neck bristling as he stepped into the teleport matrix. Nephrite never had much talent for spells or sorcery other than operating some of the middlingly complex magical devices that were standard issue to soldiers, so he couldn't actually see the mana field, but anyone could feel a field strong enough for even a personnel teleporter. And Nephrite had been through a vehicle teleporter before: this was nothing compared to that.
From his position atop the teleport dais, Nephrite nodded to the teleport mage, and the younger Lieutenant nodded back before beginning the activation spell. Of course, he'd already prepared most of the spell in advance, and with the additional help of the teleport matrix and power storage crystals, Nephrite's view of the room disintegrated into a grey-blue field.
Teleportation by device is disconcerting to most people the first time they do it, and while Nephrite was far from an unseasoned Private when it came to teleportation, he was still hard pressed to force down the queasy vertigo and disorientation that long distance device teleports caused. 'At least this isn't a combat teleport,' he reflected. 'Those sometimes actually hurt.'
After what felt like half an eternity to Nephrite, his vision returned, and he looked around at the one of the many teleport chambers of Terra Palace. Nephrite knew intellectually that the teleport only took an instant of real time, but the time spent in nothingness always seemed so long. Glancing about, Nephrite took in the identical room; in fact, he would have assumed he was still in the same chamber if not for having used the teleportation matrixes before.
After a moment more of studying the room, Nephrite's eyes settled on a man in a grey uniform with white trim and black cape and close cropped black hair streaked with stark white. The man, who had an undeniable aura of dignity and strength, was apparently waiting for him. The Captain's eyes narrowed for a moment as he struggled to place the other man and then widened when he realized who it was. Actinolite, commander of King Endymion's Guardians.
Nervous excitement easily tripling his earlier feeling assailed his mind from the depths of his stomach, and Nephrite approached one of his childhood heroes stiffly. His salute seemed too quick to his own mind, but Actinolite took no notice as he returned the salute, fist over heart. Nephrite offered the man his orders scroll, but Actinolite didn't take it.
"Captain Nephrite, I presume," he said, his voice a deep bass.
"Yes, sir." Nephrite replied, barely able to keep his voice from shaking in the presence of one of the most powerful men in the Sol system. "And you are Commander Actinolite?"
The black and white haired, middle aged man nodded once, and motioned for Nephrite to accompany him from the teleportation chamber. The younger man easily fell into step with Actinolite, and after a few meter-eating strides, Actinolite spoke. "Captain, I don't need to see your orders because I wrote them. I've been following your career in the Special Operations Department for two years now, and I must say I've been quite impressed with your performance."
Nephrite just about burst from the swell of pride Actinolite's statement drew forth from his heart, but the Guardian Commander took no notice and continued. "Because you've managed to impress me, I've recommended you to His Majesty for a very special assignment. The position is voluntary, but I wouldn't suggest that you turn it down."
Nephrite couldn't contain himself as Actinolite spoke and said, "What assignment, sir?"
Actinolite stopped and looked at the younger, brown haired man. Nephrite could almost see amusement in his serious, pale green eyes. "His Majesty will inform you of the assignment, Captain. You should spend the rest of the walk to the throne room in preparation to meet him."
As they continued to stride through Terra Palace, Nephrite's breath quickened. The beauty of the place was lost on him as nervousness and combined shocks took their toll on his wits. Grand paintings infused with magic so that they would seem to move and beautiful sculptures were vaguely recognized and forgotten as he just tried to keep up with Actinolite, and the gurgling fountains that seemed to grace every intersection faded into the background as Nephrite tried to prepare himself to meet his liege. Certainly he had sworn an oath to serve and protect the Kingdom of Terra and King Endymion when he joined the army, but this was still the first time he would see the King up close.
Finally, the two soldiers arrived at a huge set of beautifully carved oaken doors, the relief showing scenes of Terra in exquisite detail. The two guards saluted Actinolite before opening the doors, and Nephrite got his first look at the throne room of the Kingdom of Terra.
The chamber was at least fifty meters long by thirty wide, and seemed to be hewn from a single piece of marble: no seam where the stone was joined could be seen. Columns carved to look like tree trunks divided the room into thirds, and Nephrite could almost feel the magic that infused the pillars to defend the King should anyone attack. Down the center of the room from the main entrance to the raised dais where King Endymion presided over his court ran a deep red silk carpet, and courtiers stood in the outer two sections, milling about and talking quietly. Endymion himself was a study in splendor and true, kingly bearing. He wore the heavy golden crown of Terra on his brow, and there was solemn look in his eyes as he sat at court. For a moment, Nephrite wondered why so many people would be in the throne room so early in the morning, but then he remembered that the Palace was about half way around the world from his old base.
As Nephrite pondered, his body went ahead and followed Actinolite, and when the Captain came back to himself, he and the Guardian Commander were standing even with the columns nearest to the throne. King Endymion was dealing with a petitioner, but Nephrite didn't have a chance to listen to what was said as Actinolite leaned close and spoke to him in a quiet voice. "You know what the King looks like from speeches at least. Queen Alisa rarely joins the King in court. Standing on his right is Lord Ardoni; he's the King's Chief Advisor. On his left is Duchess Beryl, the King's cousin. She is visiting the court today, but when she is here, she has the King's ear. Be sure that you are especially polite to her; she's a bit touchy about rude people."
As Actinolite finished giving Nephrite advice, the current petitioner bowed to the King and merged with the other courtiers, and Nephrite got a jolt of adrenaline as Endymion's eyes alighted on him, their dark nature seeming to penetrate all his defenses and look upon his naked soul. Before Nephrite could so much as gather his wits, the King spoke, his voice deep and resonating throughout the stone chamber. "Who comes before Us?"
Actinolite stepped forward and addressed his king, his tone holding nothing but respect. "I bring before You the one You asked me to bring, my Liege."
"Very well then," the King intoned. "Step forward and present yourself to Us, Candidate."
Nephrite had just managed to regain his bearings when the King beckoned him forward, but when Endymion used the ceremonial title 'Candidate,' he could almost hear his wits hit the floor and scatter. Woodenly, he stepped forward and stiffly knelt before the King of Terra.
"M-My Liege," he stuttered, cursing himself for a fool as heard himself speak. "Wha- What do you command of m-me?"
A small smile graced the King's face for a moment, though it was gone so fast that Nephrite could almost believe he had imagined it. "Our first son is to come of age next year, and each member of Our line who shall take the burden of the Throne must have four Guardians, as you know has been Our tradition since time immemorial. Due to your exemplary service in Our Regular Army and Our Special Operations Department, you have been chosen as a candidate for the Guardianship of our Son, Crown Prince Endymion."
Nephrite was shaking; such was his excitement and surprise. All he could manage was a stammered "Yes, my Leige. Thank you." before Actinolite lead him from the throne room.
When Nephrite was aware of his surroundings once more, he was in a small room sitting on the single object contained there in, a small bed. Actinolite was standing in front of him, a small, strange smile on his face. "Well, Candidate, your training will begin bright and early tomorrow. I expect to see you in the east courtyard at oh five hundred sharp."
As he spoke, he sounded as though he was trying to inject a serious tone into his gruff voice, but little except amusement was evident to the younger Captain turned Guardian Candidate. "Oh," he added. "And try to conduct yourself a little closer to your age. Maybe as a teenager or something."
The smile on the man's face robbed the sting from his words, and without waiting for Nephrite to reply, Actinolite strode from the room, his cape billowing behind him as he walked.
The inky darkness was slowly licked away by the flickering light of small tongues of flame, and the crackling of a small campfire shattered the silence of Nephrite's healing trance. Opening his eyes, Nephrite saw his student, asleep, on the other side of the fire, low now from lack of attention.
Pulling himself to a sitting position, Nephrite watched Ranma sleep, the pigtailed boy's face so gentle in silent repose, so unlike his anger in battle. The dark general couldn't help but smile as he thought about how similar and how different his female form's face was compared to the male one. His breath barely stirred the small wisps of grass in front of his face, and his chest moved so little that if Nephrite had been unable to sense lifeforce, he would have thought the boy dead.
Sensing Ranma's aura, he found that his student was completely calm, at peace. 'I hope that calm is justified, Ranma,' thought Nephrite, a small frown forming on his face, "and I hope you are ready for the final test…"
To be continued.
Author's notes: Talk about totally unplanned… This was supposed to be the second part of Chapter Two where Ranma would face the final test of becoming a Negawarrior, but once I got started with the flashback, I discovered that there would be no way I could write a unified chapter trying to divide it between Ranma and Nephrite, and I decided that these long flashbacks deserved their own parts (but not their own chapters). So, I added plans for three Interludes that will be nice long flashbacks to Nephrite's past. This project just seems to get longer and longer as I write it (just like all my other works… go fig…). Oh well, enjoy!
A small bit of mineral trivia (since I changed some of the names for this minor rewrite to make them more accurate/true to SM canon) is that Nephrite is a variety of Actinolite, and Edenite is a related mineral to Actinolite. If you didn't know that all the generals of the Dark Kingdom were named after minerals or if you don't care, then I guess you can just ignore this section. Later.
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