Sailor Moon Fan Fiction / Ranma 1/2 Fan Fiction / Mahou Sensei Negima! Fan Fiction ❯ In the Shadow of the Moon ❯ Chapter 8 Tarnished Silver ( Chapter 8 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Okay I fully believe that even Yue could hand the panda his head and she is not a combat specialist. Kotaro has been fighting for his very survival his entire life. Eva is a task mistress harsh enough to make Genma look like a joke. She not cruel of vindictive about it. She just knows her students enemies have no concept of mercy, so neither can she in their training.

I could go much further in justifying my assessment but that would require laying out all kinds of spoilers for what I consider to be one of the better manga ever written.

I am not going off the anime version. the first series was not bad until they got to Kyoto and Kotaro did not make an appearance, at that point I knew the series was dying. The end they came up with was a decent watch but still depressing.

I refuse to even think about how they trashed the story line in the rewritten second series. I could not watch past the second episode.

<rant mode disengaged>

Sorry about that. I love reading everyone's reviews and I am glad folks are enjoying my story. As to changes in Ranma's personality, I don't plan to have him turn boy crazy as a girl. As for his honor being affected by being in girl form and not telling others, I just don't see that. For the girls, The ones involved with Ala Alba are incredibly open minded and hanging around Ranma in girl form would be no different than hanging around other girlfriends that are into girls.

About how I write out Japanese words. When I was in high school I took a japanese language class where the sensei, An older japanese woman, taught a simplified romaji. Ti was pronounced "chi" Tu for "tsu" with the t being mostly silent. I don't claim to remember a lot from the class but the romaji stuck, and I can't seem to wrap my brain around doing otherwise. It was also in that class I picked up the japanese nickname I am using for my pen name here.

One last side note. When I first started thinking about story ideas I was planning on just scarring Happosai away as he is generally the least likable character in the series. Then I decided it would be a far more entertaining challenge to make him more human and opened up many more avenues for the story.

Chapter 8 - tarnished silver

WARNING - slightly more adult concepts and imagery ahead

Akane woke up feeling tired after crying herself to sleep the night before. She climbs out of her bed and gathers up her supplies and towel and heads downstairs. Kasumi is not in the kitchen, but Akane catches movement through the kitchen windows.

Walking to the door between the kitchen and utility room she steps outside and watches as Nodoka and Kasumi are alternating between demonstrating basic Tai Chi Kata and correcting Nabiki's form when trying them herself.

Akane steps back from the door and seethes. Grumbling on the way to the changing room. "How can they teach the ice queen and ignore me?" Brushing right past the sign saying, "Onsen is mixed bathing, wear a swimsuit if you are uncomfortable." Akane quickly takes off her clothes and puts them in a cubbyhole basket.

Walking into the onsen she sees a vision that makes her heart rage with jealousy. There standing to the side of the onsen is Noriko rinsing off with a hose connected sprayer shower-head. Noriko isn't looking at the doors so she dose not notice Akane. What Akane sees is a lithe and athletic girl standing a good five inches taller than her clad only in a pair of black hot-pants and and a layer of water droplets. Her waist length brown hair looks black and plastered to her back.

Turning with a stretch, Noriko turns off the water and hangs the sprayer back up. Noticing Akane now, Noriko turns to Akane and says, "Ohayo gozaimas Akane-chan."

Akane is struggling not to tear her towel apart while the other woman enters the onsen. Akane rants in her mind, "Its not fair, how can she be that tall and that well developed. She's at least a C cup. Every female Nodoka is related to is so well built its disgusting." Bathing forgotten Akane runs back into the changing room and pulls on her clothes.

Reclining in the onsen, Noriko only shakes her head sadly.

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Ayase Yue gave up trying to get Paru to talk about her former uncle. Paru's only response was, "I have never met the man and have no desire to." Paru received permission from Negi to skip the half day on Saturday to make an emergency trip home to see her parents.

Yue did manage to get ahold of the file folder to read about this beast of a man the night before. With an analytical gaze she goes over the information: Saotome Genma, 42 years old. Married to Tenou Sakura both were age 19, discovered wife's inability to have children and within three years effectively abandoned to study Musabetsu Kakuto Ryu under a master called Happosai.

Within two years of beginning his training journey exhausted wife's inheritance and dowry. Seduced and then illegally married Himura Nodoka then age 17. Tenou Sakura committed sepku upon learning of her husbands abandonment.

On advice from Happosai, Himura Nodoka disowned to prevent Genma access to her inheritance. Saotome Atsuko, clan head and Genma's older sister, declared Genma ronin. Genma stole family honor blade and claimed establishment of a new Saotome clan with him as head. No charges filed by families to avoid losing face.

Yue grins evilly and says, "I hope he tries to escape, I will add skin rashes under the panda fur that never go away." Yue puts the documents back in the folder for Paru to take to her mother, and contemplates other ways to make a panda suffer.

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After finishing her soak in the onsen, Noriko dries off and dresses in the changing room. Walking into the common room she finds Akane watching the TV and attempting to ignore the rest of the world. Kasumi, Nabiki, and Nodoka come back in from Nabiki's first practice.

Noriko asks smiling, "So how did it go?"

Nabiki realizes this is generally meant for her. "I enjoyed it but I need much more practice."

Noriko addresses the other two women, "I will be gone for the day today and most of tomorrow. We will start your kendo training Monday evening."

Walking into the kitchen, Noriko says to everyone, "Go ahead and cleanup in the onsen. I will have breakfast ready shortly."

Akane somewhat recovered from her funk follows her sisters back into the changing room. Cleaning up quickly and getting into the onsen she still tries to ignore the presence of the others.

Noticing Akane's attitude Nodoka asks, "Are you alright Akane?"

Akane's attention is drawn to Nodoka. "I am alright oba-san, just thinking about a few things." Specifically that even at the age of 35 Nodoka still has a beautifully developed body and it is easy to see where Ranma gets his looks from in either form.

Akane asks, "So did you study martial arts with mother?"

Nodoka replies, "No, Takara-san was like an older sister to me. I studied Tai Chi and meditation like Kasumi-chan and I believe we have both put those skills to good use over the years." Kasumi just mumbles her agreement seeming half asleep in the water.

Nabiki asks, "So why did you not study the family kendo style. Noriko is the grand-master and our mother was studying to take over the school."

"If I had it to do again I probably would have." Nodoka states, "I was twelve years old when your mother and father were married. I expressed no interest at the time and Noriko left to study at a university in Europe. Without my big sister's encouragement I lost interest in furthering my skills in the art."

Kasumi gets out of the onsen and dries off. Entering the changing room she gets dressed.

Akane asks, "So how old were you when Ranma was born?"

Nodoka sighs, "I had just turned 18 at the time."

Nabiki notes, "So you would have been younger than me when you were married. Why get married so young?"

Nodoka gets out of the onsen, "That is a long and painful story. Worse because it caused even greater pain for those I care about than it did me. I might share it another time but not today."

Walking to the changing room while drying off, Nodoka is quickly gone from sight.

Nabiki looks to her younger sister, "How are you doing Akane? and don't tell me your alright I don't believe that for a moment."

Akane breaks down sobbing, "It's not fair. My life is gone. Noriko treats me like a child and refuses to teach me anything. You and Kasumi are suddenly getting everything you want. I have nothing left."

Nabiki approaches Akane and tries to comfort her. "Everything I had is gone too. Noriko threatened to put me in jail the first time we met and likely still would if I tried to continue my operations. But what we have available now has so much more potential sis. Noriko is willing to support us in anything we want to do. She is willing to train you still if you learn to control your temper."

Akane flares up at this and pushes Nabiki across the onsen. "There is nothing wrong with me. The problem is Noriko and the rest of you. You follow her lead like good little dogs and she expects me to do the same."

Nabiki just picks herself up out of the water and walks for the changing room door. Turning at the door she looks at Akane sadly, "So do you plan to use me as a punching bag now? since Noriko will not let you touch Ranma." With that she closes the door and Akane is left by herself in the Onsen.

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Nabiki joins the other women around the table and begins to eat breakfast. Nabiki looks to Noriko. "This is incredible, how did you learn to cook so well?"

Noriko smiles finishing her meal. "As with anything in life, If you want to do something well it requires practice, and I have had lots of practice."

Standing Noriko collects her plates and heads to the kitchen. After rinsing her dishes Noriko returns to the common room. Bowing to Nodoka, "I have to go out again, I leave things here in your care. I will be back tomorrow night." With that she changes her shoes on the veranda and walks through the garden to the dojo.

Nabiki stares at this. "Oba-san where does she go, and how is she getting anywhere?"

Nodoka replies mildly, "For the moment it is better to leave some questions unasked Nabiki-chan."

Nabiki and Kasumi finish their meals. Kasumi asks "Nabiki can you help me setup that laptop? I would like to get started studying again myself. Um...Oba-san do you mind cleaning the table." Nodoka simply waves both girls away smiling.

Nabiki grins,"Sure Sis, I would love to." With that both girls excuse themselves and take their dishes to the kitchen. The girls head up stairs and Nodoka sits calmly at the table.

A short while later Akane makes her way to the table. Its obvious from her red eyes that she has been crying again.

Akane looks to Nodoka sniffling, "Oba-san am I a bad person? Are my sisters afraid of me?"

Nodoka sighs, "I don't believe you are a bad person Akane-chan not intentionally at least. I believe that Kasumi is concerned for you and Nabiki has never had reason to fear your temper. That was as long as it was directed at someone else. You are a beautiful girl Akane, but your temper and pride can cause so much harm. If you would like to talk about it I will listen, but I can get you to a therapist later today if you want a truly unbiased opinion."

With this Akane breaks down completely and starts sobbing at the table. Nodoka walks around and holds the girl gently while her heart pours out.

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Noriko briefly checks on Happi's progress and smiles. sliding through the walls again to where Ranma in female form looks to be blissfully asleep in her amber egg. Lightly touching the egg she confirms the completion with a smile. Reaching her arms into the egg she gently cradles Ranma. The crystal glows gold and dissolves. Now holding the sleeping Ranma, Noriko closes her eyes and concentrates. The room fills with a white light and tracings seem to appear in the air. With a flash both are gone.

Ranma slowly wakes up. He finds himself in a completely unfamiliar room with a smell of sea breeze,vaguely he hears strains of unfamiliar music. He is lying in a bed that is up against a right wall in a narrow room. The sheets feel to be made of white silk and the rest of the room is varying shades of white. To the left beneath a window is the only other item in the room, a nondescript large black box with a cable running to a cuff on his...no her left upper arm.

About this time she notices she is female and wearing what appears to be a black compression shirt and shorts. Running her hands under her chest she notices there seems to be a bra built into the shirt. Examining the cuff she discovers a button which releases the cuff when pressed.

Sitting up Ranma tries to get her bearings. The view from the window shows cylindrical buildings, with spots of green plant life, leading out to the sea. Beyond that there is nothing but blue water until it meets with a blue sky with wisps of cloud.

Following the sounds of music he comes into a sitting room with two large comfortable couches and a large window across from where the hall enters the room. Noriko, with her eyes closed, is sitting in a couch listening to music coming from something that looks like a smooth glowing water-drop on a table.

Hearing Ranma enter Noriko opens her eyes, Touching a spot on the sound system, the music stops and the glow fades. "Good morning Ranma. Did you sleep well."

Realizing she does feel incredibly well rested. "I feel better than I can remember. How long was I asleep for?"

Noriko shrugs, "Only five days, the process took a lot out of you. I fully expected you to sleep for at least three days more."

Boggling, Ranma shrieks,"Five days!!!! And this is early. You said things would be done in a day. What could be happening to everyone?"

Smiling Noriko puts a restraining hand on Ranma's shoulder. "Relax, the process did take about twenty four hours and then I brought you here. To everyone else its only been five hours since then. l left the girls in Nodoka's care and she should be able to handle things."

Calming down somewhat Ranma asks, "How could it be only five hours to everyone else?"

Leading Ranma to the rooms window. "This place exists outside the normal flow of time. A day here is an hour there." The view from the window shows Ranma a vista of cylindrical buildings nearly the size of tokyo surrounded by water.

Ranma feels something strike a chord. This place feels like a tomb. "There's no life here not even insects."

Noriko nods her head,"Yes, we are the only sentient beings here. nothing else is alive but plant life."

Noriko leads Ranma away from the window and over to a recessed cabinet. Reaching into the cabinet she takes out a bottle of red liquid and hands it to Ranma. "I am sure your thirsty. Drink this it's like a sports drink. There is a wash room over here with clean clothes for you. Get cleaned up and we will talk more."

Noriko walks Ranma to a door along the same wall as where the hallway entered the room. Inside the door Ranma finds what looks like a western style bathroom with a shower instead of a tub, toilet and a vanity mirror over the sink. To the side of the door is a cabinet with fresh clothes. Ranma walks in front of the mirror and her eyes widen.

Shrieking louder than before. "What did you do to my hair, it looks like I am on fire."

Noriko still standing by the door only smiles. "It looks about the same shade as your grandfathers to me and Nodoka's was nearly as bright when she was young."

Shock overcoming surprise Ranma continues in a calmer tone while considering her now flame red tresses. "How did you do this and why."

"For a few of the things that were necessary to deal with the Neko-ken, I had to reinforce genetic traits from your mothers side of the family. This was a surprise to me as well" Noriko replies with a grin.

Ranma calms down and finishes looking for other changes and finding none. Noriko closes the sliding door to the room. Ranma realizes she is thirsty and takes a sip of the drink. Mumbling,"not bad kind of tastes like cherries", Ranma quickly finishes the drink and gets ready to shower. With a small shudder before turning the water on she thinks, 'definitely not dyed unfortunately'. finding the soap Ranma sets to washing herself.

Noriko, in the other room, retrieves another drink for herself and sits down on the couch to wait. Hearing at first small sounds that get increasingly louder over the sound of the water. Noriko sits back and thinks with a small smile, 'this could take a while'.

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Quite a while later, Ranma comes too sitting in the floor of the shower. Hands shaking Ranma wonders, 'oh god what did I just do'. Clamping down on the odd desire for more, Ranma gets to her feet slowly and turns the water off. Finding a soft towel she dries herself off, ignoring any sensations this causes. Walking to the cabinet she finds a fresh set of clothes including undergarments like she was wearing when she awoke.

Experimentally she finds the shirt she took off and the one she is about to put on don't feel to have any support structure in them now. Whimpering slightly as she pulls the shirt and shorts on, and they brush now sensitive parts of her body. Standing in front of the mirror she notices that now the shirt feels to have support again. Shrugging she pulls on the other clothes, which consist of a red tunic shirt, black slacks, soft black slippers and a black sash.

Opening the door she finds Noriko reclining on the same couch. Noriko is using her left arm to prop up her head and grins at Ranma like a cheshire cat. Ranma wars with being embarrassed or being angry, embarrassment wins out in the end.

Presenting the empty bottle Ranma asks, "What was it you gave me?"

Noriko chuckles, "There was nothing special in that bottle other than a nutrient and electrolyte mixture. What is commonly called a sports drink. What you experienced was a young lifetimes worth of pent up desire finding a stimulus for release. I left you in female form because I though you would be less likely to freak out about another formerly foreign sensation appearing in that form. I can change you back to your male form now if you would like but it won't change the sensations your experiencing."

Ranma blushes red, "I think I will stay like this for a while."

"I must say I am impressed with your endurance." Noriko says with a wink, while climbing from the couch.

Ranma's cheeks are now as red as her hair. Noriko gathers the girl in a gentle hug. Feeling the warmth and concern from the other woman, Ranma starts to shake and sob. Noriko guides them both to sitting on one of the couches.

After several minutes Ranma recovers enough to speak between sobs. "I am scared. I don't know how to deal with this. If pop could see me now he would definitely call me a weak, stupid girl."

Noriko sighs while stroking the girls hair, "I am sorry, but your father is an idiot. He gave you no support or assistance in learning to deal with emotions and I fear I am not helping much with what I have done."

Still doing her best to comfort the girl. "Your father often told you not to express your emotions. It was easier to control you because you suppressed emotions your father did not want you to have."

Ranma continues sobbing quietly but holds tightly to Noriko. After a while Ranma falls back asleep. Noriko lays her out on the couch with Ranma's head on her lap and continues to stroke her hair.
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Ranma wakes up from a peaceful sleep hearing what sounds like a lullaby being hummed. Realizing her head is in someone's lap she almost teleports over to the opposite couch.

Looking at Noriko's somewhat amused expression and trying to catch her breath, Ranma realizes a nagging question. "Where is this place and where did it come from?"

Noriko calmly replies,"This place is in a pocket dimension separated from the normal flow of time and space. Where it resides is an extremely difficult thing to define and I have intentionally not made any anchors that would make it easier to find."

Stretching her arms, she continues, "Where it came from is easier to define but harder to believe. You are inside of what legend remembers as the city of Atlantis. That hardly scratches its true history. This city was originally a space faring colony ship that brought people similar to humans from a different part of the galaxy. They came here because their world was dying. It was not the first civilization in this solar system, but most of the people who were here fled to another dimension after feeling the power this new group brought with them. Once they arrived here, they had spent so long in space that they did not like the idea of living on a planet again. So they built new cities in space. Some were built on earth's moon and on the moons of other planets in the system. Since the capitol and the queen's palace were on the moon they called themselves the moon kingdom."

Standing up and stretching the rest of her body, Noriko heads over to the recessed wall cabinet again. "Would you like something more to drink and eat?" Ranma shakes her head yes. Noriko returns with a bottle of the red drink for each of them and what looks like a large bowl filled with bread. Noriko hands the bowl and one of the drinks to Ranma. Ranma takes a bite of the bread and finds the inside has meat and cheese sort of like a pig in a blanket. Setting into the food with something like her normal gusto, Noriko simply smiles and sits back on the other couch.

Continuing her story,"Now after so long in space eventually the life support systems could no longer manage to support its original population of five million people. Rather than scrap and recycle everything they reassembled the working parts into this much smaller construct that could support five hundred thousand with ease and placed it in the Atlantic ocean as a outpost for making contact with the indigenous people of earth."

Having polished of the bread rolls Ranma asks, "So there were still people here, how did the others leave?"

Noriko smiles, "The previous society at the time was no where near as organized as the moon kingdom or we are today. Their society was based on manipulation of elemental energies and spirits to produce what they needed. They had no industry and lived in harmony with the land. I know it sounds cliche but that was how things worked. The most powerful of these mages could sense some great power being brought with this new group and they banded together to create a portal to a world in another dimension, This new world they called Mundus Magicus and they lived there quite happily for twelve thousand years. Quite a few of their descendants still live there."

Ranma asks "What was this great power that had the mages so spooked?"

"They did not know what it was but they could feel it across wide ranges of space." Noriko softy replies. "The truth is that it was a crystal that the queen carried. When they left their home world it was a planet of five billion people. The colony ship could only carry one person out of a thousand from their home world. The rest were given a choice of living out what remained of their lives or having their souls separated from their bodies and added to the spirit crystal the queen carried in hope of being restored once a new home was reached. The records I found in the archives here indicate as many as 50 million people opted for the chance to find a new life here using that method."

Clearing her throat Noriko retrieves more food and drink. Ranma makes appreciative noises.

Noriko takes a drink herself and continues. "When they reached here it was several human lifetimes later. The people on the colony ship discovered their life-spans had increased immensely. The experiment with the crystal was a failure. Shortly after they were pulled into the crystal it became one collective consciousness. They knew of this possibility and bore their fellows no ill will. The crystal became known as the Maboroshi no Ginzuisho because of the silver light it gave off. All the colonists were touched by its massive spirit powers and that was why they lived so long. Upon reaching earth they found leftover information about elemental and spirit techniques that they discovered they could reproduce using energy channeled from the Ginzuisho."

"They needed to learn these techniques because they were beset by demons drawn by the power of the Ginzuisho. This was the origin of the kingdoms champions, young women specialized in manipulating specific elemental energies. It was still an ability granted by the Ginzuisho. The power caused a similar crystal called a star seed to grow within them and was a representation of their own souls. They came in contact with a group of young men here on earth and a similar soul crystallization was caused in these Terrans. One possessed a gold crystal that seemed to be a reflection of the Ginzuisho. His four companions possessed soul crystals that were more like earth gemstones. The moon kingdom named this young man the king of the earth and his companions became his lieutenants. Of course this went unopposed considering the power backing it."

Noriko's expression becomes shadowed, "Now we come to the part the mages feared. The moon kingdom was not oppressive the way many governments are today. Because of being spread out into various colonies in the solar system it was very much a feudal arrangement. The queen was intelligent, caring, and fair but given the size of the kingdom you were unlikely to meet her unless you were a noble blessed by the Ginzuisho. They had grown so accustomed to their power they could see nothing else. To many of the indigenous people the nobles of the moon kingdom seemed to be descendants of the gods, and many came to believe that themselves. This was the state of things for nearly a thousand years. The worst thing you could be in this society was a null unable to be touched by the Ginzuisho's power."

Noriko shakes her head sadly. "This is where my story begins. I was born here in this city. We are actually in the apartment I lived in with my parents. My father was a minor noble and city administrator. My Mother was a native that had come to live in the city. Both my mother and I were unable to be touched by the Ginzuisho and therefore treated like second class citizens or ignored. Life for nulls was not terrible at the time, I lived and studied what I liked. Life was just very short by moon kingdom standards. I watched my mother grow old and die while my father never aged a day. I was terribly afraid of death and infirmity. My mother told me a story when I was young that she had descended from a family of mages that had not made the exodus. I was born a male as well by the way."

Ranma stutters out, "You were? why do you stay female now?"

Noriko shrugs, "We have an accidental magical gender change in common. I will explain better in the rest of my story."

Noriko continues, "My youthful studies lead me to find an art called sorcery. Summoning spirits and using their energies to manipulate the elements. I mastered summoning and controlling spirits of the elements: fire, water, wood, wind and metal. None of these gave me power to stop aging. I reached for an even more powerful spirit."

Noriko pauses, "I should tell you a little bit about spirits now. There are many kinds. the bulk of them are soulless creatures that simply reside in alternate planes and are comprised of elemental energy. They generally take no interest in the world and simply do the bidding of the one who summons them so they can return home. You might be familiar with what are called youkai, These are beings that have souls and have evolved greater powers than elementals. Almost all of these are humanoid and actually were evolved from human spirits, don't tell them that it hurts their pride. The youkai live in the mortal worlds or in very nearby planes. The last type is divided into two camps, greater fiends and celestials. These fall into groups often called demons and angels but they have far more power than youkai. Their is great debate among mages about if these beings actually have souls or are just collections of desires and instincts. From personal experience I fall into the later camp."

Quietly Noriko continues,"Now we come to the story of my fall. There is an old saying of be careful what you wish for you might get it. I thought summoning a greater fiend I might be able to get the power I craved. I was right and yet so terribly wrong. I summoned an immortal fiend called a succubus, it had the form of a dragon winged human female, she craved powerful human desire and governed powers over fire and wind. I told her my desire. In my foolishness I demanded to be given all of her power. My wish was granted. She bound her spirit to my very soul and I had her power. The bonding carried no memories with it and no understanding of how to control these new powers. The desire for more experiences and spirit energy ripped through me and took the form of a firestorm that consumed the entire city. All five hundred thousand plus people in the city died in an instant. The energies released created this time space distortion and the city and surrounding area became trapped here. I was still in what I thought was the normal time stream and I felt every one of the people here die. My mind could not accept the responsibility for this and I reached out with my new powers and gathered all the spirits together."

Noriko pauses to take a drink,"At that point I lost consciousness and when I came to I was now female and holding a faceted black stone that both gathered in all light yet glittered seductively. I was sitting upon a volcanic atoll from where the power drilled a hole in the earth's crust. Most of the energy in those peoples lives and the firestorm had been compressed into the stone. I could feel the massive power there, it reminded me of how the Ginzuisho was described. I could also feel the malice pouring from the stone. The crystal had one and only one desire and that was to destroy all life. I acted on instinct an created a barrier that turned its powers back upon itself."

Noting at that point Ranma is nearly bouncing in her seat, torn between pressing needs and wanting to hear the story. Noriko says, "let's take a break for a moment." Nodding eagerly, Ranma rushes from the room. Returning a few minutes later Ranma asks, "Umm... is there more food, I am still hungry."

Chuckling Noriko says, "The life support systems here are still active even after the equivalent of more than two hundred thousand years have passed. The choices are limited but there is no shortage. Almost all of it goes to waste. If you look in the cabinet there should be another bowl of the food you have had so far and more drinks. Just drop the empties in the bin beneath the cabinet." Ranma happily disposes of the empty vessels and returns with more of the stuffed rolls and a drink.

Looking at Ranma's eager expression,Noriko chuckles thinking, 'It would not do to tell her how cute she looks at the moment, oh not at all'. Noriko feels more comfortable continuing now that she is certain her audience is not going to call her a murdering witch or other things.

Still not ready to get back into the story. "Ranma, my name at the time was Pandra can you guess what history remembers the black obsidian box my barrier created as?" Ranma shrugs, Noriko sighs. "We will definitely need to spend time on you learning history."

Smiling Noriko continues with a lighter heart. "The king of the Earth had his castle elsewhere and did not have the resources to spare in an investigation. I like to think that it was the erratic weather patterns that prevented the moon kingdom from investigating what happened to Atlantis for more than a year. I spent that whole time studying the crystal and became certain that there was no way to control it or safely undo its creation. I became determined that I would destroy this abomination I had made. I could not understand at the time how the crystal seemed to be growing ever stronger. At the same time the kingdoms champions discovered the demon attacks had all but stopped. They determined this happened shortly after a new power source appeared on earth. The energy waves were similar to the Ginzuisho. They assumed that if it was similar to what they had experienced before it had to be equally benign. They sent research teams to discover what the energy source was. While I was studying the crystal I discovered it was possible for me to survive from just the extra energy given off by the creatures living in the sea. Well that and eating food normally."

Ranma interrupts, "If you could live off normal food why didn't you come here?"

Noriko chuckles, "I did not know this was here. I discovered how to change my form before I discovered I could pass through dimensions. Priorities of mind I guess."

Noriko continues the story "When the first research teams arrived, I was almost overcome with the desire to feed off their spirit energy. I screamed at them to leave and told them that place was home only to the damned. I succeeded in driving them away using my powers. I discovered then I could satisfy my hunger for spirit energy just by wielding my powers. I set about re-crafting the inside of the atoll into shapes of buildings, They were all of black volcanic glass but it suited my mood perfectly. I also discovered I could make clothes appear to suit my desires. I could not begin to figure out how to change back to my birth form and would not for a long time. Eventually they sent a force large enough to overpower my defenses. I was captured and held in a containment field. I was brought before the throne of Queen Serenity in the moon palace. They did not believe me when I claimed to have been a citizen of Atlantis. All of their scans showed I was a demon. I begged the queen to allow me to destroy the dark crystal and then I would face what ever punishment she decreed. Her advisors suggested simply killing me. I ended that by showing them the numerous slash marks on my wrists and neck. I told them it was not possible for me to die, whatever I or anyone else wished."

Ranma looking at her arms, "I don't see any slash marks."

Noriko simply responds, "I have learned a few things since then, and I no longer have that body."

With a sad expression Noriko looks back to the past. "The Queen asked me if I felt I could find a way to destroy the dark crystal. I told her I believed I could. For the safety of other sentient beings she ordered me to be sent to a abandoned research station inside the orbit of mercury. I willingly accepted this as my fate but instead I was locked in disused tunnels under the castle and sealed in. I found out later that this was done on orders from the "Guardian of Time". Sailor Pluto believed I would make a valuable research subject and I had to be lying about the malignant nature of the crystal."

Ranma says, "Wait Sailor Pluto, like one of those magical girls in the news? These Sailor Scouts? are they the descendants of the kingdoms champions?"

Noriko shakes her head, "For the most part they are the reincarnations of those girls, the power of the star crystals became part of their souls and followed them too their next life. In Sailor Pluto's case she is the same person."

Ranma takes a bit to ponder this. Noriko takes the opportunity to see to a few needs herself and get another drink.

Returning to her seat Noriko continues. "I was imprisoned there beneath the castle. I became so low on energy I went into a dormant state quite a few times. I understand they studied the process by which my body went into stasis and developed stasis crystals that could keep people asleep but alive for as long as necessary in case they had to move to a new solar system. They never got to use them. Pluto discovered an easy way to wake me up and remove problems at the same time. People she needed to disappear without a trace to "protect" the kingdom were tricked into entering my prison. My body would sense the presence of life energy and in a feral state attack and drain them. Not even dust was left, I became her neat and tidy executioner."

Ranma shudders at that thought and looks at Noriko with sympathy.

Noriko shrugs, "I remember very little of that time in my life. I know it happened only because a researcher kept detailed recordings."

After taking a sip of her drink, Noriko states,"I am somewhat off track. Returning to the dark crystal's story they spent three hundred years breaking through the barrier. They finally had to take the pillar it became part of and a large chunk of rock they could not separate it from into Mercury's orbit and bombard it with a large amount of solar radiation. I feel sorry for the researchers involved, they were only doing their jobs. When the barrier shattered everything in the nearby space was sucked into it. Creating a planetoid they named Nemesis. I finally discovered why the crystal became stronger and the demon attacks stopped. The dark crystal resonated with the demons desire for destruction so greatly it attracted them like moths to a flame. My barrier kept the energy from escaping but did not prevent more energy from being pulled in. To demons the crystal was the ultimate honey pot trap."

Ranma asks, "Umm..you said you were bonded to a demon why did it repulse instead of attract you?"

Noriko quietly replies. "Not all demons desire destruction. Succubi feed on living desire and as long as they are not starved they don't kill or even injure as that would adversely affect desire. In their home plane they are able to sense the desires of all sentient beings. It is diffuse but sustains them easily. They come to the mortal plane for the sake of feeling the richness of the desire they crave directly."

Ranma asks, "So what happened to this planet, I have never heard of it before now."

Noriko replies, "The surface of this new planet was made of what came to be known as black poison crystal. It gave off great energy but anything that touched it for long sickened and died. They could find no new way to contain it. Of course they could not ask me since they had destroyed the research station and told the queen I fell into the sun. Eventually they strapped rockets on it a propelled it out beyond the orbit of the planet Pluto. The damage had already been done. Civil unrest that Sailor Pluto had been keeping discreetly controlled suddenly came boiling out. Setsuna Meioh, that's Pluto's civilian name, would have you believe it was entirely due to Nemesis influence. I would say it helped bring out what was already there and was just the catalyst. Centuries of civil war finally saw the kingdom's own fleet turn traitor and the queen sacrificed her own life to destroy the insurgents and send the souls of her fallen champions to the future where they could find peace."

Ranma notices her pause, "So why are they back and still fighting?"

Noriko sadly shakes her head. "All things return in their own time. The darkness embodied in the crystal continued to grow. The agents behind the uprising were reborn as well and called themselves the dark kingdom. I guess it is appropriate they used the caverns I sculpted for their base. Pluto manipulated events to make sure the Sailor Scouts were there to face these dangers. In the end the dark crystal and all incarnations of its spirit were destroyed"

Wiping away tears Noriko finishes, "These children were pulled into events they had no control over and through determination and will they survived. Pluto had no right to do that to them."

Ranma asks, "How do you know it was her doing?"

Noriko sighs, "The one thing I was aware of while I was trapped beneath the palace was the flow of time. I discovered I could sense and to a limited extent manipulate it. Thats how I found this place eventually. I also discovered a lost tool of the ancient mages that the Moon Kingdom took control of. It was called the "Eternal Gate" and Setsuna Meioh became its assigned guardian. Because she would use its power so nearby to me I became attuned to it and her manipulations. Ever since then I can feel her continued manipulations of the time stream. Every life she ends or otherwise destroys is like a scream in my ears. I can also see the outcome she is working towards and the cost it will entail."

Ranma shudders but asks, "How did you escape the destruction of the castle?"

Noriko shrugs, "The body I had then did not. I was caught in the spirit energy feedback of Serenity's final attack and was revitalized. My spirit form was drawn to the nearest source of desire to me. It was the female researcher Pluto had put in charge of studying me. She was contemplating how powerful a kingdom she could setup on earth with her knowledge and technology now that the queen was gone. I decided she could suffer with me for the rest of eternity. I consumed her soul and made her body my own. Her memories were a wealth of information about myself and the technology of the 'Silver Millennium'."

Noriko chuckles evilly now,"I quickly discovered she was experimenting with the organic crystals my body produced to create a form of living space ship. No creature she experimented on could survive the process, but using her knowledge and my power. I soon found a way to accomplish what she tried to do. I became able to survive easily in space. My body is essentially a self contained ecosystem. All I need are energy inputs. In space there is a wealth of solar energy for me to harvest. The first thing I did was use my new senses to determine the desires of the remaining courtiers in their lavish bunkers. All of them had similar designs to the woman I absorbed. Some had secretly aided the insurgents. I decided since they had chosen where they wished to luxuriate while others suffered it could also be their tombs. I sealed the entrances so they could not escape. You can still see what looks like lava flows on the moon from my efforts."

Looking at Ranma sadly, "You now know what kind of evil creature I am. I don't hope to be forgiven. I simply try to help others as much as I can and prevent people from willingly committing sins as black as mine."

This time Ranma is the one to offer a comforting hug. "I don't think your evil Obaa-san." This time Noriko is the one to cry.

Some time later Noriko regains her composure. "You know Ranma, you are the first person I have told this story to in several millennia"

Ranma simply smiles back. "I am glad you felt you could trust me. Not many people feel they can."

Noriko hugs Ranma tighter, "In your case, I think we need to find you a new group of people to hang out with."

Ranma realizes she has no idea how much time has passed since she woke up. She asks Noriko about this. "Its been about 15 hours since you woke up in your room. The light and appearance of the sky has been frozen ever since this place was created. Why don't you go get a good night's sleep, and we will look into your training tomorrow.

Ranma gets up and walks to the hallway door. Turning back she says, "Oyasuminasaii Obaa-san"

notes:

Maboroshi no GinzuishÅ - Illusion Silver Crystal

hmm so this is what they mean by letting your imagination run away with you. I started on this chapter at about 10 a.m. and it is now close to midnight. I am beat.

Chapter 7
Chapter 9
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